#WWE59335 – The Videos Vol. 1 – Ramped Up
Lee Maughan: Even at just twenty-six minutes long, nobody in the History of Wrestling offices wanted to review this rather pointless collection of TitanTron music videos. Alas, I drew the short straw, and was told that if I failed to comply, I would be forced to write the entirety of our (hopefully never to be produced) The Complete TNA Guide series… all by myself. Faced with the threat of being subjected to over a decade of Dixie Carter and Vince Russo stupidity I acquiesced, before finally coming to my senses and hatching a devious contingency plan to circumvent the whole damn thing. Simply put, if nobody else on the team is going to bother sitting through this DVD, then surely none of them will bother reading this review either. Just so long as I sprinkle in a few relevant details here and there. It’s just you and I from here on in, dear reader, just you and I…
We start with the crunching growl of Motörhead’s ‘The Game’, which is pretty great either as a wrestling theme or as a standalone song, although having been subjected it to it for the best part of fifteen years and counting, I’d much rather hear the lesser-heard ‘King of Kings’ at this point instead. And speaking of games, here’s a:
Chronological list of twenty video games you’d be better off playing than watching this DVD
- Pac-Man (Namco, 1980) – Uh… it’s Pac-Man, duh.
- Donkey Kong (Nintendo, 1981) – Did you know this was meant to be a Popeye game?
- Tetris (1984) – The greatest puzzle game ever made.
- Super Mario Bros. (Nintendo, 1985) – 2D platforming at its finest.
- Punch-Out!! (Nintendo, 1987) – A rhythm game secretly disguised as a boxing game.
- Super Mario Bros. 3 (Nintendo, 1988) – 2D platforming at its finest-ier.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Konami, 1989) – Arcade beat ‘em up perfection.
- Street Fighter II (Capcom, 1991) – Set the template for modern fighting games.
- The Simpsons Arcade Game (Konami, 1991) – Captures the early spirit of the show.
- Sonic the Hedgehog (SEGA, 1991) – 2D platforming at its fastest.
- WWF WrestleFest (Technōs, 1991) – 2D wrestling as colourful as the WWF of the era.
- Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (SEGA, 1992) – 2D platforming at its fastest-ier.
- Donkey Kong Country (RARE, 1994) – 2D platforming at its excellent-iest.
- Hong Kong ‘97 (HappySoft. 1995) – Actually, don’t play this one. Seriously. NEVER.
- Crash Bandicoot (Naughty Dog, 1996) – I bet you thought I’d pick Super Mario 64, didn’t you?
- Blast Corps (RARE, 1997) – Smash buildings with trucks and robot mechs, yeah!
- Diddy Kong Racing (RARE, 1997) – Better than Mario Kart 64 if you’re being honest about it.
- WWF No Mercy (AKI Corporation, 2000) – The best of the English AKI engine grapple games.
- Mario Kart: Double Dash (Nintendo, 2003) – All Mario Karts are amazing, so take your pick.
- Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle Cars (Psyonix, 2008) – Best. Name. Ever.
Are you enthralled with seizure-inducing clips of The Undertaker wearing a bandana and riding a motorcycle while a man who sounds like he’s trying to squeeze a hot brown lump of fart fudge out of his constipated bowels groans? “You’re gonna paaaay-ah, you’re gonna paaaaaaaay-ahhh!” I’m not, and I don’t even think the motorbike has been Undertaker’s best mode of transport, so without further adieu, here are my
Top 20 Best (and Worst) Vehicular(ish) Entrances in Pro Wrestling History
#20 – The Dynamic Dudes’ Skateboards
The sight of Johnny ‘Ace’ Laurinaitis and Shane Douglas trundling to the ring with skateboards (which Douglas never even bothered learning how to ride), tossing neon green Frisbees around whilst clad in DayGlo orange short shorts has become a camp classic to detractors who consider the former Dynamic Dorks as little more than a toadying yes man and an overrated potty mouth. More successful with her wheel-based footwork was WWE’s roller skating valet Cherry in 2007.
#19 – John Cena’s Mustang
With WrestleMania 23 emanating from Ford Field in the “Motor City” of Detroit, it was only appropriate that muscle car enthusiast John Cena’s entrance be punctuated by a Mustang racing around the deserted streets before crashing through a pane of glass in a scene reminiscent of Rob Cohen’s 2001 race ‘em up The Fast and the Furious.
#18 – The Undertaker’s Roman Chariot
‘The American Bad Ass’ whizzing past Fred Durst and the boys at WrestleMania XIX is one thing, but ten years earlier he was pulled to the ring by Roman Centurions on a funeral chariot accompanied by a vulture. It was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise legendarily rotten show.
#17 – Rhythm & Blues’ Pink Cadillac
With their 1950s rock ‘n’ roll throwback gimmick, it only made sense to have The Honky Tonk Man, Greg ‘Boxcar’ Valentine and ‘Mouth of the South’ Jimmy Hart hit the ring to perform their new single ‘Hunka Hunka Hunka Honky Love’ at WrestleMania VI in a pink Caddy, as made famous by “The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll” himself, Elvis Presley. Bonus points are awarded for having the car chauffeured by an unnamed Diamond Dallas Page, who just happened to own it.
#16 – The Black Scorpion’s Spaceship
As if booking a mysterious magician as the top contender to the World Title on your biggest show of the year without first figuring out who was actually going to be under the mask wasn’t enough of a brainfart from WCW booker Ole Anderson, he went one step further by removing Ric Flair from the Starrcade ‘90 card to play the role in a vain attempt to try and bail himself out of the shit pile he’d just covered himself with. It didn’t work, and Anderson was turfed from the promotion shortly after to be replaced by Dusty Rhodes. Still, the Scorpion did arrive for his bout with Sting in a spaceship, which almost made the whole thing worth it.
#15 – The Undertaker’s Hearse
Few characterisations could be more apropos than having the WWF’s very own Grim Reaper take a slow ride to the ring on the back of a hearse led by a pall bearer named Paul Bearer.
#14 – Eddie Guerrero’s Lowrider
Much as Alberto Del Rio would go on to do several years later, Eddie Guerrero would arrive for his matches in a different ride every week. The difference was that while the aristocratic Del Rio preferred expensive, tasteful classics, Guerrero would arrive with pimped out customs, complete with shiny new hubcaps and hydraulics that bounced him around like Mr. Perfect feeding a babyface’s comeback.
#13 – The Legion of Doom’s Harley-Davidsons
You may disagree, but for my money, two-wheeled transportation has never looked better than with The Road Warriors at the helm, two post-apocalyptic monsters who look like they’ve somehow escaped the fantasy world of George Miller’s dystopian classic Mad Max, barrelling to the ring with shoulder pads covered in steel spikes. Bedecked in gold, they never looked finer on their hogs than cruising down the elongated aisle of Wembley Stadium at SummerSlam ‘92. It was just a shame about Rocco…
#12 – JBL’s Limousine
Few took the JBL character seriously when it was unleashed on the world in April 2004, but the former Justin ‘Hawk’ Bradshaw quickly grew into the role of the bullish Texan business magnate with style, aided ably by his ‘The Big Valley’ knock-off entrance theme, ten gallon hat and longhorn-adorned white stretch limo. His motorcade entrance at WrestleMania 21 as JBL-emblazoned money rained from the sky was spectacular.
#11 – Jerry Lawler’s Horse
What could be more majestic and regal than riding into the Mid-South Coliseum on a white horse? Why, riding into the Mid-South Coliseum on a white horse whilst decked out in your finest royal robes and crown, of course. Admittedly, Jeff Jarrett almost topped him on RAW in 1998 when he came out on a horse covered in flashing lights. Almost.
#10 – Sasha Banks’ SUV
Since the launch of the WWE Network in February 2014, it’s been easy to forget that the promotion’s NXT group is just a developmental brand. World class performances from seasoned stars such as Finn Bálor, Sami Zayn, Adrian Neville and Kevin Owens helped the group strike out as WWE’s own alternative to itself, and never was this more evident than at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn in August 2015 when 15,589 fans packed the Barclays Center in New York and saw Sasha Banks rolling to the ring like a boss in a black SUV, accompanied by an entourage of bodyguards. It was perhaps the epitome of just how far WWE’s self-contained farm league had come since the relatively quaint days of Florida Championship Wrestling.
#9 – Bobby Heenan’s Camel
Once noted the legendary manager-cum-broadcaster, “(I was) allowed to express myself and bring my comedy into a business I often thought needed a kick in the pants and a couple of smiles rather than a guy blowing his nose and spitting”. And so it was that Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan showed up to WrestleMania IX exasperatedly riding a camel – backwards.
#8 – DX’s Tank
There seems to be a misconception amongst Attitude Era fans that the WWF’s rebellious D-Generation-X group once drove a tank to Virginia’s Norfolk Scope in an attempt to invade an episode of rival WCW’s Nitro program, despite all evidence to the contrary clearly showing the lunkheads larking about on a Jeep. Not so at SummerSlam 2009, when the original DX duo of Triple H and Shawn Michaels entered L.A.’s Staples Center on an actual tank, complete with a barrage of gun-toting soldiers. It was an extremely cool moment during an otherwise lame run for the team, and it was equalled in 2015 when Russian sympathiser Rusev pulled the same trick before his United States title defence against John Cena at WrestleMania 31.
#7 – Randy Savage’s Throne
Talk about a ride fit for a king, the ‘Macho King’ Randy Savage did it with style, his Queen (Sensational) Sherri by his side, as a gaggle of lowly peasants carried their sceptre-waving superior to the ring. He may have topped this list had he also had his Vestal Virgins from WrestleMania IX there feeding him grapes as he cast his royal scorn over all and sundry. Few were as resplendent in the role as Savage, although much amusement was to be found when Jerry Lawler and King Haku were both unceremoniously dumped off their thrones, and special kudos must also be given to the poor sods who had to lunk the lardy arsed King Mabel around in a similar fashion in the mid-90s.
#6 – FMW Deathmatch Wrestlers’ Boats
Rarely has there been a time that the WWF could have been considered more ludicrous a cartoon show than on August 29th, 1994 when The Undertaker wrestled himself in the alleged main event of the SummerSlam pay-per-view. One day earlier in Japan it was quite the opposite, as Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling presented a blood-soaked six-man no-rope electrified barbed wire swimming pool dynamite double hell death match in which the nutty triumvirate of Atsushi Onita, Mr. Gannosuke & Katsutoshi Niiyama put down the trio of Hideki Hosaka, Mr. Pogo & The Gladiator (a/k/a Mike Awesome). Aside from being quite the mouthful to say and a hell of a spectacle to see, perhaps the most unexpected sight was each team of wrestlers being shipped to the ring on motorised dinghies. It certainly put a whole new perspective on the likes of Doink the Clown trundling to the ring on a scooter for another of his painfully unfunny comedy matches (although we have to admit, the heel version of Doink coming out on a unicycle was pretty badass).
#5 – Bill Dundee’s Motorcycle
In the days before WrestleMania put a premium on theatrical entrances, such fare was already a big part of the appeal in Jerry Jarrett and Jerry Lawler’s Memphis-based Continental Wrestling Association. Perhaps most infamously was the night the all-star team of Lawler, Bill Dundee, The Fabulous Ones and area legend Jackie Fargo got together for a ten-man tag team main event and promised to outdo one another with their spectacular introductions. Fargo and the Fabs opted to arrive in an open top car, Lawler came trotting out on his aforementioned horse, and Dundee bezzed down the aisle on his prized motorbike. Unfortunately for the diminutive ‘Superstar’, he also hit a wet patch where a ringsider had spilt their 7-Up, lost control of his steering, and resultantly took out an entire section of fans in the first seven rows. His entrance theme that night? ‘Wipe Out’.
#4 – Ric Flair’s Helicopter
No matter how many times you have to sit through Ric Flair bawling his eyes out on RAW, just remember that he once showed up to The Great American Bash for a World Heavyweight Championship defence against Ricky Morton in a chopper, then consider the fact that you’ll never do anything quite as cool as that with your poxy little life. Now who’s crying?
#3 – Sting’s Zipwire
Shawn Michaels may have famously ziplined his way into the main event at WrestleMania XII first, but it was WCW’s “Icon” abseiling to the ring every week on Nitro that made it cool. The peak came at Uncensored ‘97, when the Crow-like “Stinger” swooped in after an nWo group victory and laid waste to Randy Savage, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash, before decking Hollywood Hogan to one of the biggest crowd reactions in WCW history.
#2 – Steve Austin’s Beer Truck
Not content with riding a zamboni to the ring, Steve Austin topped himself by crashing a Corporation love-in with a beer truck, soaking The Rock, Mr. McMahon et al with a hosepipe full of frosty pop. Three years later, wholesome Olympic athlete Kurt Angle would parody the incident with a milk truck, while Austin would take to zooming about on an ATV as the “Sheriff” of RAW.
#1 – WrestleMania III & VI’s Motorised Ring Carts
ALWAYS WrestleMania III & VI’s motorised ring carts. Always.
That raised eyebrow. That thumping bassline. That time The Rock quit wrestling for the bright lights of Tinseltown and became a far bigger icon of the silver screen than he ever was as a master of the mat. In his honour, here are:
Ten films all worth watching instead of this DVD
#1 – Airplane! (1980)
What is it?: A staggeringly funny parody of the disaster movies prevalent in the 1970s from director/writers David Zucker, Jim Abrahams and Jerry Zucker, who would go on to co-create the brilliant-but-cancelled Police Squad!, which later spawned the Naked Gun series and launched the career of Leslie Nielsen as “the Laurence Olivier of spoofs” rather than Leslie Nielsen, serious actor.
Best line: “Can you fly this plane and land it?” “Surely you can’t be serious!” “I am serious, and don’t call me Shirley.”
Hey, asshole! What does this have to do with wrestling?: Nielsen appeared alongside his Naked Gun co-star George Kennedy at SummerSlam ‘94 in pursuit of the missing Undertaker.
#2 – This is Spinal Tap (1984)
What is it?: This gut-bustingly brilliant, genre-spawning rockumentary/mockumentary from director Rob Reiner follows England’s greatest band since The Beatles as they look to crack America on the downswing of their career, packed with hilarious scenes and endlessly quotable lines.
Best scene: Impossible to pick just one, from bassist Derek Smalls getting trapped in a faulty pod to guitarist Nigel Tufnel complaining about the size of his tiny sandwiches and explaining the secret behind the volume of his custom-built amplifiers – “…These go up to 11.” Then there’s Tufnel’s romantic ballad ‘Lick My Love Pump’, frontman David St. Hubbins crediting Smalls with writing an entirely improvised jam that nobody in the crowd cares for, and the explanation behind the bizarre death of second drummer Peter James Bond – “It was tragic, really. He exploded on stage. He just was like a flash of green light, and that was it. Nothing was left. There was a little green globule on a drum seat. You know, dozens of people spontaneously combust each year, it’s just not widely reported.”
Hey, asshole! What does this have to do with wrestling?
Chris Jericho parodied the scene where the band get lost backstage before a performance during his WCW run in 1998.
#3 – Fatal Games (1984)
What is it?: An absurdly ridiculous teen slasher in which a group of young Olympic hopefuls are picked off one-by-one by a mysterious hooded assailant with a javelin, all because [SPOILER ALERT] team doctor Diane Paine (played by future Golden Globe winner Sally Kirkland) still harbours resentment at being disqualified from all competition after undergoing a sex change in order to enter the women’s division. No, really, that’s the plot.
Best scene: When the killer, fully clothed mind you, tosses a javelin through the torso of a young swimmer… upwards through the water from the bottom of the pool.
Hey, asshole! What does this have to do with wrestling?:
Kurt Angle controversially won an Olympic gold medal in freestyle wrestling at the 1996 Atlanta Games over Iranian rival Abbas Jadidi despite having previously suffered a broken neck.
#4 – Ghostbusters (1984)
What is it: Bustin’ makes Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and the sublime Bill Murray feel good in the legendary supernatural comedy that was originally intended to star John Belushi, John Candy and Eddie Murphy. The eclectic crew of television interviewer Larry King, disc jockey and Scooby Doo voice actor Casey Kasem, teen pop idol Debbie Gibson and roly-poly porn star Ron Jeremy all make cameo appearances.
Best line: “I collect spores, moulds and fungus.”
Hey, asshole! What does this have to do with wrestling?:
Koko B. Ware dubbed his brainbuster finishing move the “Ghostbuster”.
#5 – Back to the Future (1985)
What is it: If you haven’t seen this one, your life has gone seriously wrong somewhere. Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd prove to be the best double act since banana and crisp sandwiches, whizzing between 1985 and 1955 in an attempt to escape some disgruntled Libyan terrorists and ensure that Marty McFly’s parents do the nasty after the Enchantment Under the Sea dance.
Best line: “Woah, wait a minute Doc… Are you trying to tell me that my mother has got the hots for me? This is heavy.” “There’s that word again, ‘heavy’. Why are things so heavy in the future? Is there a problem with the earth’s gravitational pull?”
Hey, asshole! What does this have to do with wrestling?:
Michael J. Fox appeared in the 1993 family comedy Life With Mikey alongside Jeff Jarrett and Jerry Lawler. Christopher Lloyd co-starred with Hulk Hogan in laugh-an-hour urban spaceman comedy Suburban Commando.
#6 – They Live (1988)
What is it?: John Carpenter’s satirical science fiction action horror sees ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper’s drifter John Nada discover a pair of sunglasses that give him the ability to see an invading alien race and their subliminal mind-controlling ways.
Best scene: Nada and construction worker pal Frank Armitage’s five-and-a-half minute alleyway slugfest.
Best line: “I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass… and I’m all outta bubblegum.”
Hey, asshole! What does this have to do with wrestling?:
You’re not serious?
#7 – Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989)
What is it: Wannabe rockstar slackers Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves use a phone booth to travel through the circuits of time and collect a menagerie of significant historical figures to help them pass their high school history presentation and avoid Reeves’ Ted being shipped out to an Alaskan military academy. The sequel, Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, which introduces Death as a character, may be even better.
Best line: “Everything is different, but the same… things are more moderner than before… bigger… and yet smaller. It’s computers… San Dimas High School Football Rules!”
Best quote: “Excellent!”
Hey, asshole! What does this have to do with wrestling?:
Paul London and Brian Kendrick were once photographed in WWE Magazine dressed as the titular pair.
#8 – Wayne’s World (1992)
What is it: Starring Mike Myers and Dana Carvey as two immensely likeable knucklehead rock fans with a public-access cable television show out of Aurora, Illinois who are offered $10,000 by a greedy TV producer to sell out, Wayne’s World is by far the best of all the Saturday Night Live spin-off movies.
Best line: “The Shitty Beatles? Are they any good?” “They suck.” “Then it’s not just a clever name!”
Hey, asshole! What does this have to do with wrestling?:
Shock rocker Alice Cooper, who has a short scene in the movie, accompanied Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts to the ring for his match against The Honky Tonk Man at WrestleMania III.
#9 – Man on the Moon (1999)
What is it: Jim Carrey gives a bravura performance in this biographical comedy-drama about the late American entertainer Andy Kaufman and his surly alter-ego Tony Clifton.
Best scene: A cancer-ridden Kaufman finds black humour in his ironic discovery that the psychic surgery he has travelled to the Philippines for is actually a scam.
Hey, asshole! What does this have to do with wrestling?:
Well, aside from Kaufman’s legendary feud with Jerry Lawler, as covered in the film, he once made a movie with ‘Classy’ Freddie Blassie dubbed My Breakfast with Blassie, a comedic parody of Louis Malle’s arty-farty My Dinner with Andre.
#10 – The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (2007)
What is it: Seth Gordon’s funny, touching and lightly shocking documentary about the world of competitive video game scores finds both heart and cynicism from the faintly sinister Billy Mitchell, faintly eccentric Walter Day, faintly creepy Brian Kuh, and perpetual underachiever Steve Wiebe, who just wants to succeed at something for once in his life.
Best line: “If anybody wants to see, there’s a Donkey Kong kill screen coming up. There’s a Donkey Kong kill screen coming up if anybody wants to watch. There’s a potential Donkey Kong kill screen if you wanna watch. There’s a Donkey Kong kill screen might be coming up if anybody wants to see it. Hey, Todd. If you’re interested, there might be a Donkey Kong kill screen in a couple of minutes.”
Hey, asshole! What does this have to do with wrestling?:
Donkey Kong was a video game, as were the games from the brilliant Fire Pro Wrestling series. Additionally, Nintendo once sponsored a 1992 Top 10 Challenge tournament held by WCW, won by ‘Ravishing’ Rick Rude, and there was a period in which JBL took to repeating the phrase “It’s on like Donkey Kong” seemingly ad nauseum during WWE telecasts.
Shall I abandon this self-indulgent excuse to write about whatever I feel like via the gift of tenuous links? No Chance in Hell! Now, we all know and love… well, know at least… Vince McMahon as the Machiavellian mastermind behind WWE, but some would argue he’s scored as many misses as he has hits over the years. While business ventures such as the WBF and the XFL have been absolutely disastrous, it’s McMahon’s various shortcomings on the wrestling side of things that grind the gears of grappling fans most of all. With that in mind, I was once challenged to rebook the crummy WrestleMania XI card as if the WWF were still in the habit of running four-hour supershows at that point, and have decided to present my attempt here. Bear in mind that part of the challenge was to retain the original direction of the promotion using just the contracted talent of the day (otherwise why not just fantasy book Buddy Rogers to come back from the dead?), so here’s the extended card I came up with, running in reverse order:
- Lawrence Taylor & Roddy Piper vs. IRS & Bam Bam Bigelow
- WWF Title: Diesel (c) vs. Shawn Michaels
- WWF Tag Team Titles: The Smoking Gunns (c) vs. Owen Hart & Yokozuna
- Doink the Clown vs. Hakushi
- The Undertaker vs. King Kong Bundy
- Bret Hart vs. Bob Backlund
- The New Headshrinkers vs. The Heavenly Bodies
- WWF Intercontinental Title: Jeff Jarrett (c) vs. Razor Ramon
- Kama, Tatanka & Nikolai Volkoff vs. Adam Bomb & Men on a Mission
- WWF Women’s Title: Bull Nakano vs. Alundra Blayze
- The Allied Powers vs. The Blu Twins
Underwhelming, huh? The WWF really didn’t have a lot to work with in early 1995. The Diesel-Michaels, Gunns-Owen/Yokozuna, Undertaker-Bundy, Jarrett-Ramon and Allied Powers-Blu Twins matches all remain the same, whilst the useless “submissions only” stipulation is removed from the Bret-Backlund match. The Nakano-Blayze title change from RAW has been brought forward a day, and is added to the card along with Headshrinkers-Bodies and Hakushi-Doink to try and get some decent wrestling on the show. The six-man tag is merely an excuse to give a greater presence to the Million Dollar Corporation, who will hit the ring during the during the main event only to be cleared out by Diesel, allowing the show to close with the WWF Champion to be seen rubbing shoulders with Piper, L.T., Pamela Anderson and Jenny McCarthy.
Why do so many people always feel the need to justify themselves as being fans of Kane? Have you ever noticed that on forums, social media or in conversations, people will make sure to name him as “Kane… who I’m a huge fan of… ”? Why does their devotion always have to be clarified? Is it because deep down they realise he’s a giant stiff of a worker who’s been having the same crappy, limited, boring match since 1997 even though they secretly like his nonsensical character? Look, just to spite you, I can’t even bring myself to come up with a tenuous link for this one, so here are:
Fifteen cool wrestler cameos in television shows:
- Brian ‘Leon Arras’ Glover as dim-witted prison inmate Cyril Heslop on Porridge, 1974.
- Sgt. Slaughter voicing himself as a regular character on G.I. Joe, 1985-1990.
- Vince McMahon outdoing Larry ‘Bud’ Melman on Late Night with David Letterman, 1985.
- Hulk Hogan meeting up with Vietnam veteran Mr. T on The A-Team, 1985.
- King Kong Bundy dropping by as Uncle Irwin on Married… with Children, 1987 & 1995.
- Numerous NWA stars beating up Lyle Alzado on the awful Learning the Ropes, 1988-1989.
- Bobby Heenan trying his luck against Gorilla Monsoon on Super Sloppy Double Dare, 1989.
- Terry Funk as a 1950s professional wrestler on Quantum Leap, 1991.
- Sting appearing on a poster in the background of the low ship on Red Dwarf, 1992.
- Vader grappling as himself on Boy Meets World, 1995 & 1996.
- Hulk Hogan & Randy Savage battling Ric Flair & Vader over a youth centre on Baywatch, 1996.
- Bret Hart buying Mr. Burns’ mansion on The Simpsons, 1997.
- Randy Savage elbow dropping a hamster on The Weird Al Show, 1997.
- Samoa Joe, Curry Man and Kazarian beating up unwitting contestants on Distraction, 2006.
- Ric Flair taking Cleveland Brown camping on The Cleveland Show, 2011.
This is ‘Break the Walls Down’, although Jericho himself doesn’t actually appear in the video aside from in silhouette, and there aren’t even any wrestling moves in it, just wingspan poses and quick cut graphics. Jericho of course also fronted the rock group Fozzy, which got me to thinking: Who could join him (as lead vocalist) in an all-wrestling rock ‘n’ roll band?
On bass would have to be Hulk Hogan, formerly of the Tampa area bar band Ruckus, with Hogan’s pal Jimmy Hart, who in 1965 had a million-selling single called ‘Keep on Dancing’ with Memphis pop ‘n’ roll group The Gentrys, on keyboard. Former TNA Knockout Taylor Wilde would be the unexpected choice on drums, having once straddled the kit during a beauty pageant on an episode of Impact!, while The New Day’s Xavier Woods would honk away on his brass and give everyone a tromboner. On the backline, The Honky Tonk Man, Koko B. Ware and the Road Dogg would provide backing vocals, whilst Maxx Payne/Man Mountain Rock would take up lead guitar duties, having been a perennial fret wanker during the entirety of his WCW and WWF days.
Away from the spotlight of the stage, cunning linguist Lanny ‘The Genius’ Poffo would pen the group’s lyrics, WWF music maestro Jim Johnston would produce, TNA senior producer Billy Corgan would draw from his years of experience with Smashing Pumpkins to manage, Rico would act as the octet’s fashion-obsessed stylist, and former Freebird Michael Hayes would hang around drunkenly offering incoherent critiques to nobody in particular, whilst vainly hoping somebody will notice him or offer him a spot on tambourine.
Here we’ve got ‘Never Gonna Stop (The Red, Red Kroovy)’ by groove-metal master Rob Zombie, whose previous group, White Zombie, had their heavily rotated 1993 single ‘Thunder Kiss ‘65’ used as the opening theme of ECW’s syndicated television show for several years. The TitanTron just has Edge brooding around the streets and walking up and down a subway train in his best glam-goth shiny pants, but there’s little else to say about it beyond that, so here’s:
A list of music you could be listening to instead of watching this DVD
- Anything by The Beatles, argued by many critics to be the best band of all time.
- The ‘Philosophy of the World’ album and particularly the track ‘My Pal Foot Foot’ by The Shaggs, argued by many as the only band to actually be legitimately better than The Beatles.
- The entire back catalogue of The Smiths, whose frontman Morrissey is without a doubt the most literate man ever to write music, even if his debut novel, List of the Lost, is abominably shite.
- That annoyingly catchy mash-up of Sami Zayn’s NXT entrance theme with Taylor Swift’s country-infused teen pop glop ‘We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together’ that you can find on YouTube.
- Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Greatest Hits’ collection, which proves that radio-friendly melodic pop music in the 80s was brilliant before the likes of Stock, Aitken and Waterman, Simon Cowell, and manufactured boy bands came along and ruined it for everyone.
- Something by Weezer, maybe the first self-titled album (colloquially known as ‘The Blue Album’). Weezer’s records are wildly divisive, even amongst their own fan base, but they do reference Johnny Grunge and New Jack on El Scorcho, as found on the initially maligned but later loved ‘Pinkerton’. Or The Lemonheads. or Smashing Pumpkins. You know, something 90s.
- The Ramones’ ‘Anthology’ box set, which is as raw, as pure and as passionate as anything ever committed to record, a true inspiration.
- ‘The Wrestling Album’ and ‘Piledriver: The Wrestling Album II’, two camp classics you should be ashamed to admit you secretly love. In fact, on a similar bent, soundtracks don’t always make for good albums, but you can usually dig out some great songs on them. Try the ones from He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Ghostbusters, Back to the Future, Rocky, That Thing You Do!, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Weird Science or Empire Records and see what you find.
- I don’t care whether you prefer the Glenn Danzig era, the Michale Graves era or even the Jerry Only novelty era, my Misfits playlist on Spotify is absolutely killer.
- If you’ve never heard The Legend of Chavo Guerrero by The Mountain Goats, it’s even better than you’re imagining it to be, and the video is tremendous too.
- ‘Little Satisfactions’ by Grade, because you need some progressive screaming in your life.
- ‘Will You Love Me Tomorrow?’, either The Shirelles’ lovely original or Me First and the Gimme Gimmes’ frenetic cover. In fact, any Motown Records alumni or Me First take is a good bet.
- Speaking of covers, any 8-bit chiptune version of a song you already like is guaranteed to get you smiling.
- If you like electro pop, the first CHVRCHES record is a tune-laden cracker.
- Nothing at all by Nickelback, who are unquestionably the worst band of all time. Try the visceral low-fi of Neutral Milk Hotel instead, even though you’ll probably hate them, you fucking philistine.
Angle’s theme ‘Medal’ is wonderfully evocative and just feels absolutely perfect for his character, but it’s not really something you’d ever want to listen for more than a couple of bars. That’s a pretty recurrent problem with wrestling music. Simple, basic tunes can often fit a grappler’s persona, but they also make for a tedious listen. On the flipside, full songs might sound listenable when buried on an LP, but not sound so suitable during an entrance, especially on indy shows where skinny twinks and fat knackers in t-shirts and kickpads insist you sit through ninety seconds of clichéd riffery and angsty wailing before they come through the curtain on their favoured cymbal beat. The exception, of course, are ECW’s inspired choices of Metallica’s ‘Enter Sandman’ and Dr. Dre and Ice Cube’s ‘Natural Born Killaz’. Still, Angle was a tremendous wrestler throughout his career, so with that in mind, here are:
Twenty great matches from various promotions spanning multiple decades, all worth watching instead of this DVD
- Les Kellett vs. Leon Arras (All Star, 1974)
- Jerry Lawler vs. Terry Funk (CWA, 1981)
- Tiger Mask vs. Dynamite Kid (NJPW, 1982)
- The Midnight Rockers vs. Buddy Rose & Doug Somers (AWA, 1987)
- The Superpowers & The Road Warriors vs. The Four Horsemen, War Games (JCP, 1987)
- The Royal Rumble Match (WWF, 1992)
- Sting vs. Vader (WCW, 1992)
- Manami Toyota vs. Toshiyo Yamada (AJW, 1992)
- The Thrillseekers vs. Heavenly Bodies (SMW, 1994)
- El Hijo Del Santo & Octagon vs. Los Gringos Locos (AAA, 1994)
- The Great Sasuke, Gran Hamada & Masato Yakushiji vs. bWo Japan (ECW, 1997)
- Atlantis vs. Villano III (CMLL, 2000)
- Toshiaki Kawada vs. Keiji Mutoh (AJPW, 2001)
- Kenta Kobashi vs. Mitsuharu Misawa (NOAH, 2003)
- Blood Generation vs. Do Fixer (ROH, 2006)
- Kurt Angle vs. Samoa Joe (TNA, 2006)
- Kota Ibushi vs. El Generico vs. Nick Jackson vs. Jigsaw (Chikara, 2011)
- Inner City Machine Guns vs. AR Fox & Samuray Del Sol (PWG, 2013)
- Mil Muertes vs. Fénix (Lucha Underground, 2015)
- Sasha Banks vs. Bayley (NXT, 2015)
Another example of a theme that fit the character perfectly, but wouldn’t really be something you’d adorn your iPod with for regular listens. Having said that, Green Lantern fan Gregory Helms must have found the role a dream. And speaking of dreams, from the file marked “You Know You Watch Too Much Professional Wrestling When… “, here are:
Fifteen of my actual dreams that occurred whilst compiling this book
- ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper set fire to a horse outside my house.
- Whilst visiting some old bric-a-brac fair, I discovered a plastic bag containing Andre the Giant’s long-forgotten album. Ric Flair was ecstatic when I broke the news to him, but his interest dissipated when I told him one of the cuts was a cover of ‘Tiptoe Through the Tulips’, and that the seven songs on the record somehow managed to span both sides of no less than six vinyl discs. It seems our Andre liked to indulge in some sort of longform proto-prog when he was in the studio.
- I was the World Television Champion. No more, no less.
- Me, two friends and The Barbarian were being chased around the streets near my house by a gang of total arseholes on bicycles. I outwitted them by hiding behind a car, but everyone else got pelted with tennis balls, dead birds and Mars Bars. Afterwards, we all went back to my house and ate the Mars Bars.
- I went for a ride in an open top yellow taxi with Greg ‘The Hammer’ Valentine. We went to see a state of the art hotel in the middle of a rioting Middlesbrough, before driving onwards to Hartlepool upon daybreak.
- The local Evening Gazette newspaper revealed details of Barry Darsow’s secret beehive that he was using to cultivate bees for the North East Bee Racing Championships.
- I got into a fight backstage at a WCW Nitro event over a can of Batman-themed deodorant, which resulted in me punching in the face somebody I used to go to junior school with.
- Following my attendance at a Dragon Gate match, I wowed the boss of a record label by playing CIMA’s theme to him on a ukulele, which resulted in him offering me a deal to record an album.
- My mum came over for a visit, specifically to ask me if I wanted to start betting with her on the outcomes of various upcoming matches. Who does she think I am, Pete Rose?
- Bret Hart and Vince McMahon were struggling with the use of a public lavatory that required mechanical assistance. Vince was stationed inside the commode while Bret was pushing the buttons on a panel outside. Unfortunately for Vince, Bret didn’t understand how the technology worked, so would blindly select any old option, much to Vince’s dismay. At one point, he turned on the overhead shower facility, leading Vince to declare “Bret! You’ve made me wet!”, to which Bret would sarcastically respond “Oh Vince, I never knew you cared!” That was followed by Bret hitting the “poo” option and Vince getting a face full of silo blowback, causing him to bark “Oh, shit!” Yeah, I guess my unconscious thinks it’s fucking hilarious with the puns or something.
- I was employed as a wrestler stationed at WWE’s Performance Center. Everyone there loved me… except for Triple H, the big rotten sod.
- Following her breakup with Rusev, I found myself in a polyamorous relationship with Summer Rae.
- I was Dean Ambrose, and my preparation for an impending Hell in a Cell match with Kane was to visit a sports shop and purchase a hockey stick to whack him in the arm with, after which I decided I would walk clean across the top rope, jump off, and smash him over the head with a monitor from the announce table.
- Brock Lesnar was shockingly revealed to be genetically female.
- Following Bret Hart’s emotional return to WWE at a pay-per-view event, I was sent to the ring to announce my own retirement. Considering I was Lance Storm, I figured my announcement would carry less gravitas that the one made by ‘The Hitman’, but my fears were assuaged when both Jim Ross and Vince McMahon joined me in the ring. I had no idea McMahon was such a fan of my work, given the “boring” character I had been instructed to play. Teary-eyed, I went backstage where I couldn’t find a single familiar face, and I was instead instructed to “fill out the crowd” by going and sitting in the bleachers next to Nikki Bella. Whilst there, I bumped into Giant Gonzalez, and we had an in-depth discussion on the deeper psychological aspects of booking tall people in battle royals. From there, I was shown a magazine containing glossy nude photographs of Linda McMahon, following which I finally woke up from my paralytic, sleep-induced hell, grabbed some breakfast, switched on the WWE Network and watched that week’s episode of NXT.
Billy & Chuck
Here’s ‘You Look So Good To Me’, the perfect example of a wrestling theme making for an awful song that you’d never willingly wish to listen to. Billy Gunn is also one of the more awful winners of the King of the Ring tournament, so with that in mind, here’s another fantasy booking challenge that I once was set: Book a King of the Ring pay-per-view in the style the WWF would have done had the event debuted one year earlier than in reality. In other words, book what would have been the 1992 edition of the tournament, whilst maintaining the original ongoing build to that year’s SummerSlam.
- Quarter Final: Shawn Michaels vs. El Matador
- Quarter Final: Owen Hart vs. The Mountie
- Quarter Final: Repo Man vs. ‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan
- Quarter Final: The British Bulldog vs. The Berzerker
- Semi Final: Shawn Michaels vs. Owen Hart
- Semi Final: The British Bulldog vs. Repo Man
- WWF Title: Randy Savage (c) vs. Ric Flair
- The Legion of Doom & The Natural Disasters vs. The Nasty Boys & Money, Inc.
- Intercontinental Title: Bret Hart (c) vs. Rick Martel
- Final: The British Bulldog vs. Shawn Michaels
The 1st Round gets underway with Michaels-Matador in a rematch from WrestleMania VIII, and concludes with Bulldog-Berzerker in a match that was advertised for that very same show, but cut due to time constraints. It did actually happen a year earlier at UK Rampage ‘91, although it was fairly rotten. The Owen-Mountie and Repo Man-Duggan bouts sandwiched in between those would just be quick five-minute affairs, as was the style at the time. The 2nd Round has Michaels-Owen as a potential show-stealer, whilst Repo Man would get himself disqualified by using his tow rope against Davey Boy to put heat on their house show feud, and put Davey in some jeopardy going into the main event.
The non-tournament matches follow the formula of the 1993 and 1994 King of the Ring events, with the WWF Title match going on in the middle of the card. That’s to allow a fuck finish when Savage’s corner man The Ultimate Warrior accidentally causes a disqualification, setting up their split leading into SummerSlam. The eight-man tag is largely throwaway, although the Money, Inc. to Disasters title change could be moved here instead, and the Intercontinental Title match would be designed to keep Bret looking strong heading into SummerSlam.
Things end with Davey Boy overcoming the odds, because who better to bestow a royal crown on than an Englishman? This would also set him up nicely heading into his headlining SummerSlam at Wembley Stadium. Alternatively, if you did want to play around with history a little more freely, Michaels could win the tournament to build him for an Intercontinental Title ladder match against Bret at SummerSlam, as was originally mooted until Wembley was decided as the location, and Flair could take the title back from Savage to return Savage to the challenger role, or to possibly build up to Flair defending against the Warrior later on.
Summary: Okay, so some readers may have grumbled their way through this article wondering why I didn’t write more about the actual content of the DVD, but the truth is that I wrote literally as much as I could about each video clip anyway. It’s not like you’re being short-changed here, there really is that little to say about it. Just think of it as a bare bones one page review with a ton of extra content added on. That’s value for money that, like one of those unadvertised bonus matches that gets added to a pay-per-view after you’ve already bought it! Come to think of it, most of those matches are heatless bores, so perhaps we should scratch that comparison… The fact of the matter is that you already know what you’re getting here, and you already know whether or not you’ll like it. Yes, you can probably say that about a lot the matches and shows we review in our books, but its always nice to have a handy coffee table reference guide of the bouts and cards you may have forgotten about over the years, something to pore over when you’re having your annual detoxifying three hour Boxing Day shit. Ultimately, music is so subjective that there’s really no right or wrong answer about this one. I personally don’t think it would make a particularly worthwhile addition to a DVD collection, but perhaps it takes pride of place on your shelf. That’s why, in a History of Wrestling first, we’ve opted to leave the score blank. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never even seen this disc; You already know what the songs that make up this collection are worth to you, so just grab yourself a biro, scribble in your own score, and everyone can be happy.