From the WWE Network: UK Rampage ’93

Mr. Perfect works with a Samoan savage, meanwhile the WWF fails to book most of their stars for a UK TV special.

I wonder if this card was the moment they went “Ooops!” about firing the British Bulldog the previous November?  They didn’t do one thing to replace him with a different British star either.  Lord Steven Regal had not yet signed with WCW in late 1992, and he could have potentially slipped right in with the “New Generation” and been the snobby heel in feuds with Bret Hart, Mr. Perfect, 1-2-3 Kid and so on.  Well, enough fantasy booking, let’s dive in:

A full arena greets us in Sheffield, England.  The WWF wasn’t selling tickets in America, so this was a nice boost to their bottom line. Attendance was 12,000 – a huge jump even over other UK tour stops in Paris and such.

“Lord” Alfred Hayes introduces Jim Ross and Bobby Heenan.  JR is still in WCW pure SPORTZ mode as he sells the match ups.  You can see why he and Vince McMahon had so many issues, since Vince sold gimmicks and characters while JR was selling athletics.

Brian Knobbs vs. Fatu

No word on why Saggs and Samu are not part of this.  They are not even at ringside.  Heenan quotes Winston Churchill when putting over the Headshrinkers.  I was initially excited by the prospect of a good brawling tag match, but a singles match seems more likely to stink.

We get some easy heat earlier as Knobbs gets the fans to cheer as Afa and Fatu try to perform a Samoan ritual. Fatu attacks Knobbs, but he fights Fatu into retreat. JR is already talking about football, albeit “football” meaning soccer over the pond.

Afa distracts Knobbs, so Fatu realigns Knobbs’ jaw with a side kick. Knobbs fights back from underneath right away, showing good babyface spirit.  Afa distracts Knobbs again, allowing Fatu to slam Knobbs on the floor. The ring is apparently on a wood stage as the echo was a pretty awesome sound effect.  Fatu uses a chinlock, which Knobbs fights out of. Fatu absorbs a brief flurry, then catches Knobbs with a kick and uses the ropes to steal the win at 9:43.  A good match considering this wasn’t going to be Thesz vs. Gotch on paper.

Evil Doink cuts a promo, doing a Roddy Piper impression (unintentionally).  Lord Al just being the straight man while interviewing a psychotic clown amuses me.

Kamala vs. Doink the Clown

Kim Chee and Slick apparently stayed home.  That ruins Kamala’s gimmick since he’s supposed to be a barely functioning person in polite society. The ref finds a long stick in Doink’s jacket during the pre-match pat downs.

Doink’s facials are great. It’s a shame Matt Bourne couldn’t stay with the gimmick. Doink uses single leg takedowns, then armbars to keep the beast down.  That is the same basic layout they used in their Coliseum Home Video match.

Kamala fights back with chops. Doink crawls under the ring. This leads to JR speculating a second Doink has taken his place. “Is that the same guy?!?!” Heenan: “Who? The black guy? Yeah, that’s Kamala.” Awesome.

Kamala downs Doink and hits a splash. After working in the WWF for a year he still does not know how to pin an opponent, so he rolls Doink around for a minute baffled as to why the ref is not counting.  Doink cradles Kamala for the win at his first chance at just under the six-minute mark.  This was another watchable match, as Doink’s heel mannerisms are entertaining.

Mr. Perfect vs. Samu

Perfect explains in his pre-match promo that he is suffering from post concussion syndrome from Lex Luger’s attack at Wrestlemania 9.  Of course he doesn’t use such medical gargon.

Perfect pushes Samu early on, working a fast paced series of arm drags and cross body blocks. Samu is chased from the ring, where Afa smacks him for his incompetence.

Samu dominates the next several minutes as he hacks Perfect with chops, and slams Curt’s head into the ringpost and stairs.  Hennig sells like a champ (of course) but this drags on eventually as we pass the ten minute mark.  I suppose the pre-match concussion talk could explain why Perfect is struggling with a lesser talent. JR and Heenan did not belabor that point though.

Samu misses a diving headbutt and is immediately hit with the Perfect-plex for the win at 13:55. This went too long considering Perfect is suppose to be a headliner and Samu is a tag guy.

Bob Backlund vs. Damien Demento

I’M NOT A JOBBER.  Okay, with that joke out of the way…. What a styles clash this match is. Demento bumps around for Backlund’s single leg picks. The crowd went from HOT for the early matches to asleep for this classic. Demento works a chinlock to up the excitement.  JR and Heenan have nothing to push for either man, which leads to complete silence on commentary for about 10 seconds at one point until Heenan starts riffing on UK cities.

Demento claws at Backlund’s face and works another chinlock. Yawn! It’s remarkable Backlund stuck around from late 1992 until the summer of 1994 before finally getting a real push/angle considering he spent all that time working low card matches at a point when payoffs were zilch. Backlund finally cradles Demento to win at 7:56. An insomnia inducing match here.

Typhoon vs. The Brooklyn Brawler

Typhoon is six months removed from a push, still on his “Will job for food” tour.  This is not a squash. I repeat THIS IS NOT A SQUASH. They gave Typhoon and the Brawler 10 minutes!  Typhoon misses an elbow early to give the Brawler and opening to pound on the big man.  This was on a live TV special in this UK!  Were they trying to kill their international business as much as the USA’s had been?

Brawler’s offense goes on and on with his headlocks, chokes, kicking and punching. Typhoon can’t go on offense because the Brawler can’t really take much offense before he’d be finished. Brawler finally tries a slam. He fails and is quickly smashed for the finish at 9:46.  The fans popped for the finish, I’ll give them that.

WWF Intercontinental champion Shawn Michaels vs. Crush

Crush gets a big reaction. Crush’s mullet game is strong here. Crush uses his size to chuck Michaels around at will for the first several minutes. HBK takes a press slam, then flies from the ring via a big clothesline. Shawn tries to use his speed to get some shots in, but Crush shakes off the champ’s attack. Crush misses a charge to finally open up HBK’s chance to go on the offensive. The Hawaiian is driven into the ringpost twice.

Crush shakes off that attack and makes a comeback. As he preps for the head vice, Shawn decides he’s had enough and walks out for the count-out at 8:51. Crush drags HBK back in the ring and gives him the head squeeze for good measure. Shawn did what he could to make this watchable.

Bobby Heenan interviews Mr. Fuji and Yokozuna in the ring.  Fuji questions how Yoko could have lost his World title a week earlier if he and Hulk Hogan had never signed a contract for a match. Fuji is barely coherent. They should have had Yoko squash Typhoon and spared us two bad segments.

“Hacksaw” Jim Duggan vs. “The Narcissist” Lex Luger

Yokozuna remains at ringside. Duggan is rocking a singlet in this post-steroid WWF world.  As I type that I realize his opponent is a walking failed wellness test.

Duggan sends Luger backpedalling with a series of clotheslines. Luger tries to throw some punches, which Duggan blocks while screaming “No. No. NO!!” I enjoyed that. Luger is punched instead and he sells like he’s a cartoon as his head bobbles.

Luger goes for a headlock and the fans go bonkers to inspire Ol’ Hacksaw to rise. Duggan fights out but misses a charge.  Duggan fights back, but walks into a knee. Another headlock gives the fans a chance to root on their hero.  Duggan rallies back quickly with more fists.

Both men collide on a shoulder block. Duggan falls to the floor. Yoko walks over and sits on him. Duggan is tossed in the ring and smacked with the loaded forearm. Mr. Perfect runs in to spare us a finish at 6:42. Perfect gets a huge reaction.  Yoko comes in and he and Luger down Perfect.

The heels set up a Banzai drop, but Perfect dodges it. Duggan runs over on que and whacks Yoko with the 2×4 twice to send him fleeing. The crowd was crazy hot for that finish and it was a nice feel good ending to the show.

Final thoughts: Where were the stars?!?! Some talent stayed home due to a RAW taping, but that could have been done ahead of time for the sake of this tour.   The list of viable talent we did not see includes Bret Hart, Razor Ramon, the Undertaker, Bam Bam Bigelow, the Steiners, Money Inc., Tatanka, the Macho Man (who worked a tiny show in the USWA instead!) and World champ Hulk Hogan!

 

 

Written by Andrew Lutzke

The grumpy old man of culturecrossfire.com, lover of wrasslin' and true crimes.