Greetings from England! This is James Dixon, the newest resident of OWW and I am delighted to be here. A quick introduction, then we will never talk about me again:
I have been watching wrestling for over 20 years. Inspired by the likes of Davey Boy Smith, Bret Hart and The Undertaker, I was drawn to the business like any other fan, for reasons that are difficult to explain. A hobby quickly became an obsession, and I was determined to get involved in wrestling by utilising the one thing I could do: write about it. To date I have co-authored four books about pro-wrestling (check them out on Amazon). I am actually a former British professional wrestler and wrestled on some pretty major shows opposite some pretty major names, but I have adopted this pseudonym to retain relative anonymity and to distance myself from my past career in the industry. A quick google search will probably reveal all, if you are really THAT interested. That past experience does give me a unique and more inside perspective on things than others might have, though I am still a “mark” at heart. I have limited patience for anything in wrestling post-2002, and much prefer 80s and 90s grappling. Curious really, because as you will see, I spend a lot of time complaining about it.
Anyway, let’s get on with something far more interesting: wrestling!
Jimmy Hart presents from behind a piano, and talks about how he is responsible for a lot of the music in the WWF. That is actually true. The gimmick with this tape is that the matches are all culled from the WWF’s tour of Europe in April 1993.
WWF Intercontinental Championship
Shawn Michaels (c) vs. Crush From UK Rampage ’93, a show so bad that it caused one of my co-writers Arnold Furious to turn to binge drinking in Volume #2 of our Complete WWF Video Guide books. Crush was hugely over in Sheffield and looked set for a push to the top, but his complete lack of ability in the ring hampered him. As a babyface he became the Intercontinental title division’s equivalent of Lex Luger, as he was unable to get the job done and bring home the title on a number of occasions. What I find strange about Crush is the amount of times he was repackaged while keeping the same name. When a gimmick didn’t work or a guy left and returned to the WWF, it was usually with a different name, even if it was really subtle or minor, like Sid Justice becoming Sycho Sid. But it never happened to Crush, he didn’t even get the “sportz entertainment” treatment and become “Krush”. He just used the same name, a remnant from his days in Demolition, whether he was a Hawaiian surfer (and doesn’t the name Crush just fit that gimmick perfectly?), Japanese sympathiser, pissed off ex-con or gangland biker. He had five looks/gimmicks in the WWF, and he used the name Crush for all of them. Pretty wild when you think about it. Furious was hammered by the time he did this match and I think he overrated it a smidge, because it is just a standard bout between the two, with Michaels doing all he can to mould wood like it is clay. It isn’t. Crush wins on a count out and celebrates with the title, because he is as dumb as he looks. If you want to know more, go and buy Volume #2! *cheap shill* Final Rating: **
Yokozuna vs. Hacksaw Jim Duggan
This is from Paris and was part of the ‘Rampage Bercy ’93’ French exclusive release. I will let them off for recycling and rehashing this time, because it is the first airing the match gets in the US. Not that anyone WANTS to see this match in the US of course, because it is Duggan in 1993. This was actually the main event of that France show, which should give you an idea of what a horrid event it was. The only interesting thing about this match is Yokozuna’s attire, as he sports a fresh feeling all-black with red tassels number. He got lazy and stopped changing his gear as the years went on. Duggan’s selling is a thing of… wait, what’s the opposite of “a thing of beauty”? A thing of ugly? Well that’s what his selling is anyway. A tedious bearhug takes up the majority of this 7-minute match, and Yoko withstands a Duggan comeback before polishing him off with the Banzai Drop. An entirely predictable match with little in the way of action other than punches and the odd hope spot. Final Rating: ¾*
Jimmy Hart says Hulk Hogan is going to get his belt back from Yokozuna. Well, he does, but it is 9-years later. Hart comes off like a complete butt-licking mark for Hogan, what with his Hulkamania shirt, Hogan pen and signed 8×10. What an idiot.
WWF Tag Team Championship Money Inc. (c) vs. The Steiner Brothers
Speaking of idiots, here is IRS. He proves what a completely clueless moron he is by cutting a promo on the crowd about how they don’t pay their taxes. The idiocy doesn’t come from the repetitive nature of his pre-match gambit, but rather the fact that they are in Barcelona, and no-one in the crowd has a clue what he is saying. The promo is inevitably met with silence. The WWF changes the rules on the spot, and it is announced that unless Money Inc. give up the briefcase, they will forfeit the match and the tag titles. That is a bit of an extreme call from the referee isn’t it? I would say that is probably not his decision to make. The announcement of this to the live crowd is met with… silence. Because it is in Spain. Where they speak Spanish. I guess little things like that didn’t matter to the WWF. I have actually covered this before on Best of Battle of the WWF Superstars, but Coliseum gets away with it again because that was a Columbia House release. The ring is miked to hell and is very, very loud. The other interesting thing is the camerawork. In an effort to channel the spirit of WWF stereotyping: I can only imagine that the director is having a siesta, because we stay exclusively hard cam for the majority of the contest. Well, apart from the genuine full minute that is spent filming the crowd. It is so bad, that even Heenan and Savage on commentary criticise him, saying he is the worst cameraman in the world. They are not wrong. The match is perfectly fine, with The Steiners ability making up for IRS being so boring. The finish is frustrating, with IRS saving DiBiase with a piss-weak belt shot for the DQ. I am actually surprised that Scott sold it, because IRS gently stroked him at best, with the timing seemingly all screwed up. The Steiners celebrate with the belts, because they are as dumb as Crush. Final Rating: **
Mr. Perfect vs. Samu
Back to UK Rampage ’93 for one of the most randomly thrown together bouts you are likely to see. I would love to know who put the cards together for this leg of the European tour, because it was unfathomably bad. It is almost as if they picked the most unappealing card possible as a rib, and decided to run with it to see if the UK crowd would pop it anyway. Unfortunately for future generations of UK fans, the Sheffield crowd did pop it, giving license to all WWF/E wrestlers of the future to phone it in while competing across the Atlantic. Samu is a fairly reasonable talent by 1993 standards, but he is no-where near the level of Perfect. They start fairly well but Samu’s heat goes on for far too long, as they insanely go nearly 15-minutes. Seriously, this match gets THAT long. That is why UK Rampage ’93 sucked. Everything they do is technically fine, it is not sloppy and phony like a Typhoon bout, but it is just so boring. It is like every other match from filmed UK shows, in that because of the half crew in the country, they had minimal talent available so just made them all go out there and work long matches. Because the majority of guys weren’t used to or weren’t able to work 15-minute bouts effectively, everything just ends up following the same tired pattern and routine. This is no different, but at least we get a finish, as Perfect pins Samu with the Perfectplex. I have seen this match get insanely high ratings from other reviewers (in the region of ***), and having watched it again I remain confounded as to why. Just because Curt Hennig is in something does not make it de facto good. Effort levels or not, this was dull. Final Rating: *½
Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Bret Hart
We are in Barcelona again, and Bret is wearing his WrestleMania VIII gear. These guys had a set match and stuck to it, luckily it was a pretty good one. They start off with a quick and exciting sequence, before Bret finds a weakness in Bam Bam and hones in on it. In this instance it’s his arm, which is heavily bandaged. Bret is one of the masters at neutralising a body part and works over the injured extremity with an armbar. They are consistent with the selling and psychology, as Bigelow fails with a gorilla press attempt because of the arm, but he gets over-confident and Bigelow catches him on the outside and sends him back-first into the ring post. The referee is slow in counting Bret out, as JR helpfully offers: “I don’t think the referee speaks French”. Come on pal, get your shit together. It is yet another in a long list of examples when it comes to the WWF’s general geographical ignorance. Bigelow takes over as expected and focuses on the back, with Bret showing signs of life and getting a few hope spots in. Bigelow was good, so his heat was generally fairly entertaining. A double underhook backbreaker is a particular highlight here. Bigelow misses a headbutt from the top and Bret rallies with the five moves of doom. Bret goes for the Sharpshooter but Bigelow is too big, and he powers out. They do a few counters into nearfalls before Bret pins him with the victory roll to win. It’s the same finish they always use, so in kayfabe world you would think Bam Bam would have a counter for it by now. Savage says: “this is maybe the greatest match I have ever seen”. You have to admire his attempts at getting things over, but it is a silly claim. The match was pretty good, but if you have seen one match between them you have seen them all. Final Rating: **¾
Doink the Clown vs. Crush
Two Crush matches… Fantastic. This is from Rampage Bercy ’93 again. These two multicoloured cartoons had quite a memorable feud in 1993, and I actually think the angle where Doink smashed Crush’s head in with a fake arm was really effective. The subsequent matches pretty much sucked though, because Crush was in them. If you watch this, make sure your TV can handle it first, because there is a pretty good chance the colours will frazzle your screen. Doink goes for Crush’s leg, and it is almost quaint seeing him trying to sell it. Crush locks on the head vice with Doink on the apron, so the clown just walks off and takes the count out loss. It’s another example of Crush’s Luger-esque choking qualities, as he couldn’t even exact a big babyface revenge on Doink. Final Rating: *
Scott Steiner vs. IRS
The legally required IRS singles match, and the second appearance on the tape for both. The second appearance against each other no less. If anyone can get something exciting out of Irwin, it is Steiner. As Furious has pointed out elsewhere, he could have been a main event singles player many years earlier than he was. This is from Milan, Italy for the first time on the tape. This is better than your usual IRS match, through sheer willpower from Scott, who refuses to stand around in tedious rest holds. IRS still stalls whenever he can, but it is tolerable here. The finish is strange, with IRS seemingly winning with his feet on the ropes, but it turns out the ref is the most perceptive of all time, and he calls IRS out on the cheating and the match rumbles on. Right away Steiner manages a sunset flip and that keeps IRS down for the clean pinfall. I appreciate both the fact there was a finish, even if it was a bit messy, and that IRS didn’t make me fall asleep halfway through. The credit goes to Scott Steiner of course. Final Rating: **
Yokozuna vs. The Undertaker
From the same Milan show once again. To be honest I think I have watched more Yoko-Taker matches than a lifetime can handle as it is without adding this to the list. Nothing happens for longer than is necessary as both partake in stalltastic pre-match rituals. The pace doesn’t increase any noticeable degree when they do finally get physical. Taker gets clotheslined to the outside and no-sells a Fuji flag shot like it didn’t even happen, but Yoko takes control himself. It is the same cut off spot that Taker used in ever bout in 1992-93. I could have watched this match without watching actually it, as it doesn’t stray even slightly away from what you would imagine it to be. The “Hulkbuster” legdrop results in Taker sitting up. Yoko knocks him down again but pisses around checking he is out rather than pinning him. Taker does sit up again so Yoko clocks him with the salt bucket and that is that as the bell rings for a DQ. It is identical, almost spot-for-spot, to the match they had that appeared on the Bashed In The USA tape. Final Rating: ¼*
Jimmy Hart rounds off the tape by marking out some more over the (departed) Hulk Hogan and then does some cringe-worthy poses in his Hogan shirt. Seriously man, get your tongue out of his ass.
There is little to recommend this tape, though it is far from the worst thing that Coliseum have ever put out there. The problem is the lack of any “oomph”, with all of the matches feeling like paint-by-numbers house show efforts from guys who had been on the road for weeks. Which is of course, exactly what they were. Minimum workrate was required in Europe, and for the most part that is what you get. Bret and Bigelow try and make something out of it, and it is decent, but the rest is not worth sitting through to get to it. A big fat don’t bother for this.