Oddly, Razor Ramon is one of five superstars on the promo screen. He’s still suspended and won’t be on the card.
Sadly we don’t get the Free 4 All where Huckster and Nacho Man clashed, and the Body Donnas captured the WWF tag team titles.
Vince and Jerry Lawler host. Vince is SCREAMING down the whole card line up.
Jake “The Snake” Roberts, Ahmed Johnson, and Yokozuna vs. Vader, The British Bulldog and Owen Hart
Vader and Yoko go at it right away. A 6-way skirmish ends with all the heels knocked to the floor. Johnson PLANCHAS over the top rope unto Vader! Yoko and Vader start formally and again trade bombs. Owen tries his luck but Yoko is too FAT to hurt. Davey helps out and Yoko is down like a beached whale.
Vader ties up the ref as Owen cheap shots Yoko. Vader pounds down the corpulent former World champion. Yoko rallies with a belly-to-belly and Johnson tags in and batters all 3 heels. A Vader Pearl Harbor shot downs Ahmed but Vader misses the follow up splash. Owen then cheap shots Johnson to keep the heels in control.
Johnson is blasted with an enziguiri that allows Vader to squash him. Who saw Ahmed as the face in peril? Jake makes the hot tag and unleashes a bevy of punches to Owen. Hart avoids a DDT but eats a high knee. The heels then gang up on Roberts and we get a second face in peril beat down.
Vader smashes Jake with punches and avalanches him in the corner. That sets up an Owen flying elbow and a Bulldog powerslam. Jake kicks out! Not sure I can buy that after his mauling. Then Vader squashes The Snake with a splash and Jake KICKS OUT?!!?
Yoko tags in and explodes all over Vader with fistic fury and a corner splash. Owen and the Bulldog are attacked as well and Yoko tags back in the battered Roberts. Bad Plan! Owen eats a DDT but Cornette runs in and distracts Jake. Vader pounces on his prey and a Vader bomb finishes it.
Good solid match. The baby faces did themselves in after absorbing a big beating.
Hollywood Back Lot Brawl: Roddy Piper vs. Goldust
Piper is wielding a bat and awaiting Goldust. Goldust pulls up in his car and Piper sprays it with a water hose. Hot Rod then batters the car with his bat. Goldust tries to escape by foot and Piper kicks his butt with his fists and the bat. He sprays Goldust with the hose and chokes away on him. A nasty sounding punch to the face wounds Goldust. He responds by going low on the acting WWF President. That buys Goldust enough time to jump back in his car and run Piper over with it. Hot Rod gets in his white Ford Bronco and gives chase. That segment was pretty revolutionary, but the Hardcore title era sort of numbed me to such brawls.
Savio Vega vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin
Savio charges the ring and they have a slugfest right off. They spill out to the floor and some HARD chops are traded. Austin stomps a mud hole in Vega and tries a Million Dollar Dream but Savio flips out of it. Austin continues to pour on the pressure. Vega’s arm is wounded and Austin focuses his attack on the limb. Crowd is dead. Thesz press leads to ground and pound from Stone Cold. Steve guides Vega through a reversal sequence that you don’t expect in a Savio match.
Vega hits a spin heel kick but Austin is proving to be a step ahead of Savio at every turn. Austin gets too confident and lands on Vega’s boot during a highflying attempt. The ref is bumped and Stone Cold cracks Vega with the Million Dollar belt in the head twice. Austin chokes away on Savio as Dibiase tries to wake the ref up. Once up, the ref checks Vega’s arm and awards the match to Austin. Somewhat uninspiring battle here. No idea why Austin finished it with a simple choke sleeper and not his actual finisher.
The announcers spent half the match talking to Piper on his cell phone and showing the infamous OJ Simpson police chase footage for “humor”.
THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR vs. HHH
The crowd pops huge for HHH’s music because they know the Warrior is coming. Sable debuts as HHH’s valet. She’s looking good. Ahhh teenage years coming back to me. Focus. Focus.
I mark out a bit for Warrior charging the ring. Warrior soaks in the adulation for a long while.
Finally HHH jumps him from behind. A pedigree is hit within 30 seconds. Warrior no sells that and does his war dance. HHH is blasted with several clotheslines and a flying tackle. A press slam and splash finish things in a hurry. Awesome.
Fuck it. That was PERFECT booking. That is what the crowd wanted to see. Warrior returning with the planned 12-minute match would have exposed him right away. Fuck the Kliq and their visions of HHH’s stardom. You don’t go from feuding with a hog farmer and a garbage man to then go toe-to-toe with the Ultimate freaking Warrior.
The production team cuts off Warrior’s post match celebration surprisingly fast and we go to the back to introduce “Wildman” Marc Mero to the WWF. He’s been waiting 5 years to get to this point. Oddly enough all the talent listed as Mero’s potential opponents are babyfaces. Makes him sound very heel like. HHH wanders in and Mero shoves him for interrupting “his” interview time. HHH then goes after Sable and Mero tackles him. Mero came across like a dick for shoving HHH too. He’ll be rectified soon enough.
The Undertaker vs. “Big Daddy Cool” Diesel
I wonder if Nash being called “cool” by Vince had the same effect as Michael Cole trying to put somebody’s hipness over in the modern era?
Nash charges right at Taker in an effort to show he’s not intimidated. They exchange blows until Nash clotheslines Taker to the floor. Taker pulled Nash out to him and they brawl on the floor. Taker tries to end it quick back in the ring as he attempts a Tombstone and then delivers the ropewalk forearm. A missed flying clothesline doesn’t slow the zombie down and Taker stalks Nash to the floor where the ring post and a chair are used to try and sap Nash’s Diesel power. Nash drives Taker’s spine twice into the pole.
A boot to the face has Vince writing Taker’s obituary. Snake eyes keeps Taker down and dazed. Nash slams fists into Taker and the Dead Man responds in kind. A double big boot drops both men. A bear hug and headlock give Nash a chance to regain his wind.
Taker escapes and downs Nash with a clothesline from the top rope. Nash mans up and delivers a jack knife powerbomb. Nash then stalls and mocks Taker. He learned nothing from losing to Bret at Survivor Series.
Taker sits up so Nash unleashes another power bomb…and stalls. Nash finally goes for the pin and winds up locked in a choke. Diesel fights him off but the choke is reapplied. Taker connects on another flying clothesline and a chokeslam. A Tombstone ends it.
They started strong but the match was nothing special.
We cut to the back where Goldust and Piper’s vehicles have arrived at the arena. Piper chases down Goldust all the way to ringside. Piper delivers a plethora of punches but Goldust focuses on Roddy’s knee that may have been hurt earlier when he was hit by a car. Then Goldust shoves Hot Rod’s head between his legs and rubs his butt to the horror of the crowd.
Roddy is choked with his own shirt and his knee is wrapped around the ringpost. Goldust molests Piper’s bare chest and teases kissing him. Goldust goes to the top but is crotched. Roddy goes in for the kill but is kissed! This fires Piper up and he drags Goldust around by his dick. A spanking follows and then Goldust is stripped of his gold suit revealing his garter, thong and corset underneath. Piper kisses him goodbye and delivers a final low blow for good measure. What an outrageous segment!! Hope Dustin was paid well.
Michael Cole narrates a Shawn/Bret package. He wasn’t in the company yet, so this was redubbed for some reason.
One hour “Iron Man” match: World Champion Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels
Gorilla Monsoon is introduced as being back as the official President of the WWF. Jose Lothario comes out alone. He points to the heavens and reveals Shawn waiting above to come down dramatically on a zip line. Hart gets his standard entrance. A good illustration of Bret’s workman-like grit vs. Shawn’s flash and flamboyance.
Slow start as both feel each other out and try and save energy for the next 57 minutes. Vince tries to claim people are WWF fans, not Bret fans and not Shawn fans. You wouldn’t be right about that for another 5 years or so Vince.
Vince acknowledges the fact that little is happening at the 4-minute mark. The guys do a quick reversal sequence before going back to a headlock. Vince runs down the card since the main event is rest hold central. Lawler tries to sell the headlock’s damaging effects. It better be if you’re going to keep it on for 5 minutes!
Shawn takes over with hold #4 (ARM-bar)…9 minutes in and the crowd is bored. A fan looks to be nodding off in the front row. Shawn head scissors Hart to the floor and Bret stalls. Hitman tries to toss Shawn and he skins the cat back in and goes back to the armbar.
15 minutes in Shawn is flung to the floor and he accidentally superkicks a ringside official. More headlocks. ZZZZZZZZZ…
20 minutes in the crowd pops for a dropkick. Anything but a resthold I guess. They finally pick things up at the 23 minute mark as Shawn starts to aggressively work over Hart’s shoulder. That leads to a solid five-minute period of Michaels using various arm locks to trying and force Bret to surrender.
Bret gets his chance to shine and he starts to deliver a hard-hitting offensive. They blow a knee driver spot as Shawn takes the bump wrong. Hart with a piledriver that looks devastating and the crowd boos when Shawn kicks out. I think the crowd was starting to catch on that there may not be any falls.
HBK rallies but Hart avoids the Sweet Chin Music. Shawn catches him with a plancha. Hart takes his time to recover and Shawn forces him back inside before Hart can clear all the cobwebs.
Shawn takes a HUGE bump over the turnbuckles and that easily could have been a very realistic count out fall. Hart is too impatient and he pursues Shawn on the floor. HBK’s back is smashed into the ring post and then Hart goes on an all out assault on Shawn’s lower back when they return to the ring.
Jose takes a bump when Hart sends Michaels to the floor. Hart then violently sends Shawn into the stairs and Lothario takes another bump. The Hitman connects with a plancha. Hart then punches and kicks HBK into putty in the middle of the ring.
With 7 minutes left Hart successfully punishes Shawn with a superplex. Hart then starts to work on HBK’s knee. Bret attempts a second rope elbow but gets a face full of boot. Shawn pours on a final flurry of offense as we have less than four minutes to go. Shawn goes for a series of highflying moves to try and snag a fall. Hitman finally catches him with 30 seconds left and locks on a Sharpshooter until time expires.
Hart kisses his title and starts to head to the back. Monsoon enters the ring and orders overtime. Hart is understandably pissed. Hart wastes time arguing with Monsoon as HBK pulls himself together. Bret unleashes a focused attack on Shawn’s lower back. Michaels manages to avoid a Hart charge and hits a superkick. Both men struggle to their feet and Shawn hits a second one for the pin. Monsoon screwed Bret!!
They don’t shake hands or hug after. In fact Shawn would tell Hebner to “get him the fuck out of the ring”. Shawn looks like he is trying to make himself cry but can’t quite make the ducts flow.
The card itself was well built to considering the limitations of the roster. That being said the biggest two matches didn’t deliver. Shawn and Bret would have been a pretty sweet match if it had been 30 minutes but in this format they put it in neutral for a third of the bout. That went against the whole point of New Generation athletes outshining the slugs headlining WCW.