Thanks, Engishboy, I think you've helped create a monster. I'm going to start downloading great matches, interviews, worst bumps, stupidest gimmicks, you name it. Any requests?
I actually forgot about the goofy patches of fur placed strategically on Giant Gonzales's outfit. What was he supposed to be, anyway -- a really hairy caveman type, or a gorilla? Have you heard of Gonzales in the last 15 years? I wonder what happened to him.
This first dedication goes out to our friends in the U.K.:
1992, WWF travels across the pond to a sold-out Wembley Stadium for SummerSlam. The main event of the evening is not the WWF title match between the Macho Man and Ultimate Warrior; it's the Inter-Continental title match (back when that belt meant something), between the champion, Bret (the Hit Man) Hart, and the challenger, the British Bulldog (Davey Boy Smith).
The angle here was that they were real-life brothers-in-law (Bulldog was married to Bret's wife Diana), and also both faces. Face vs face matches were a rarity back then (the Savage v Warrior match was also a battle of two faces, interestingly), so in the buildup before the match, Bret was portrayed in a more "heelish" vein (Bulldog was bound to be the fan favorite in London) -- acting angry at his brother-in-law, and at his sister for siding with the Bulldog. Plus, even the Hart family (8 brothers, all wrestlers, 4 sisters, all married to wrestlers) was divided.... apparently Bret was not as popular with his siblings as one would think. Some of them thought Bret's success had gone to his head.
I couldn't find any pre-match promos, but the whole match is here (divided into 4 parts -- I forgot how long this match was).
Have you heard of Gonzales in the last 15 years? I wonder what happened to him.
I believe after leaving WWF he went to wrestle in Japan but quit sometime in the mid 1990s due to ill health. He died last year, from kidney failure I believe. He was wheelchair bound at the time of his death.
This match was the beginning of the Stone Cold Steve Austin era.
'96, the finals of the King of the Ring tournament. Austin has been used and abused in his career, being discarded by WCW and virtually buried in ECW. But he rejuvenated his career in WWF, and in this match against Jake the Snake Roberts, the legend of Stone Cold was truly born.
Funny things about this match: Austin was a heel at this point, and had real gothy heel music to which he walked in real slowly. Some kids are openly giving him the thumbs-down, which is hilariously ironic because Austin was soon to become the most popular hero/anti-hero in wrestling history. Jake the Snake's angle was that he had discovered God and was now the preaching wrestler (which supposedly mirrored his real life, during his various bouts with drug addiction), 41 years old (which Vince McMahon keeps reminding us), and.... wearing bad-looking suits.
The first two minutes are some weird psycho promo by Brian Pillman about god knows what, followed by Austin's arrival at the ring (where he passes by his buddy Pillman).
The really good part, the moment where Austin's career changed from mid-carder to superstar, happens at about the 10:20 mark.
Apparently after being crowned King of the Ring, Stone Cold still had some unfinished business with some dude (Marc Mero, husband of Sable, who is now the wife of Brock Lesnar) who he'd already beat at that tournament. But who cares about all that -- it's all about the interview:
Now it's 1998. Bret Hart's gone to WCW and Shawn Michaels (following the Montreal Screwjob) is WWF champion. Austin has just won the Royal Rumble, which slotted him in the Wrestlemania main event vs Michaels.
At the same time, Vince was courting Mike Tyson, who in '98 was sitting out a one-year suspension from boxing for biting Evander Holyfield's ear. Vince had earlier that night (Monday Night Raw) introduced Tyson on as "the baddest man on the planet," which naturally sent Austin into a rage.
This episode was the real origin of the Austin/McMahon feud. At this point, Vince was still not fully "Evil Mr. McMahon" yet; even after the Montreal screwing of Bret, Vince was still trying to portray himself in a more benign, sympathetic light. But that front ended with Stone Cold's latest antics.
* Funny how different Tyson looks with the afro and no facial tattoo.
* The mic goes out around the 1:45 mark, when Austin appears to be using some colorful language.
* 2:10 -- "Don't say one word, Vince, I'll knock your ass out too." Back then, saying "ass" on TV was still a little bit of a forbidden thrill.
* The brawl starts at the 3:00 mark, which is about when Jim Ross's hernia starts.
Wrestlemania '98. WWF Champion Shawn Michaels vs Stone Cold Steve Austin. Mike Tyson is Special Enforcer.
The first two minutes are a rerun of the music video seen above. (Sorry about that; had I known, I wouldn't have posted the video.) The intros start at about the 2:30 mark. At the 6:30 mark (yeah, part 1 is mostly intros), Michaels, right before walking out to the ring, says to the camera "this is for you, Earl." Earl was Earl Hebner, a WWF referee who was recovering from a heart attack (I think), and he'd worked many of Michaels's matches. Hebner also reluctantly worked the Screwjob match, and was quickly rushed into a waiting taxi minutes after the result. At 6:40, you get the live version of the D-Generation X theme song. This was practically the WWF equivalent of Hendrix at Woodstock. Easily the coolest wrestling theme song ever; a song legitimately good enough to stand on its own.
Enough talkin', here it is:
1:00 mark: I think it was in Michaels's contract that he gets pantsed at every pay-per-view. Seriously, I saw enough WWF PPVs in the '90s, and it happened like crackwork--I mean clockwork.
1:48 -- The strange, enigmatic, truly scary Chyna was prowling around as a bodyguard for Shawn and D-X. Without going into all the details, let's just say that some things happened, yada yada yada, now she's doing porn.
2:30 -- It becomes apparent that Tyson is a fish out of water in this environment. He obviously doesn't know what he is supposed to do, or even if he should contribute anything to this match.
2:50 -- Did anyone brief the referee about the countout rule? By now, the count is at about 90.
3:40 -- Thank goodness Tyson is there to be the enforcer.... he's really taking charge of this match by standing on the other side of the ring, away from all the action.
4:10 -- It's only now that I'm noticing how oddly '90s Shawn's hair is. It's part ponytail, part dreadlock (?) -- like some '90s white boy's acid dream look.
5:17 -- The first, and maybe biggest, bump of the match, taken by Michaels, naturally.
5:30 -- Tyson's like, "I don't want any part of this."
8:07 -- By this point, Tyson is just getting in the way, like some drowsy elder stumbling around a room. It's like they're having to fight around him. Come on, Mike, do something. Eat someone's ear, anything!
8:47 -- "Michaels in a dominant position..." Uh, no comment.
Part 3 (only 2 parts left!)
:12 -- "The referee in the striped shirt is getting in Mike Tyson's way!" -- Jerry Lawler is now making excuses for Tyson's ringside lethargy.
2:00 -- Every time the action comes near Tyson, he instinctively backs away. What kind of enforcer is this?
2:30 -- Another pretty good spot from both Michaels and Stone Cold.
2:48 -- Tyson finally gets involved, even if it is just by awkwardly grabbing Austin's trunks and "throwing" him back into the ring. Gee, thanks for showing up, Mike!
4:25 -- If you're really caught in someone else's Figure 4 leglock, do you really "reverse" the move by turning over?
5:35 -- Gratuitous, but inevitable referee bump.
Go figure, part 4 is missing from YouTube. But not to worry, here's the unforgettable ending, with some commentary by a couple of Internet blogger types.
Nobody ever really understood what the Superfly was saying during his interviews (this one was before a match with Sgt. Slaughter), but whatever it was, nobody was disagreeing with him.
This is the start of the Snuka-Muraco feud. Magnificent Don Muraco, the WWF Inter-Continental champion, looking really sloppy and a little out of it here, gets a little agitated during an interview with Buddy Rogers. (At the time, Rogers, the original Nature Boy, was doing a weekly interview spot on TV; he was also the Superfly's manager -- let's just say Snuka needed some supervision on the road.)
1:18 -- I've got to believe Muraco is a little wasted here when he talks about reversing the "figure four headlock".
1:52 -- If this entrance by Snuka had occurred in 2011, it would be accompanied by fireworks and a scorching rock song. But in '83, wrestling was a little more toned down.
2:29 -- That's the biggest smile Jimmy Snuka ever had in the history of YouTube Superfly videos. Maybe the biggest smile of his whole life.
2:44 -- Jimmy's taking off his headband. He's mad now.
2:58 -- That's some serious athleticism. He earned that name, the Superfly.
3:30 -- Oh come on guys, go back to the dressing room!
3:40 -- At least Muraco thought to wear his wrestling trunks under his clothes. Lucky break there.
4:07 -- Censored? Someone must have started bleeding or something.
Muraco and Snuka took their feud on the road, but nothing got settled, so it would all come down to a cage match for the I-C title at Madison Square Garden. A few days before that match, Snuka confides his hopes and fears to Vince McMahon.
:07 -- Is the Superfly asking me to "take a good look at this fart?"
:15-:25 -- I have no clue what he's talking about. Something about taking steel to his head. Whatever he's saying, I'm in total agreement.
:41 -- That is a unique setting for a wrestling interview, with all the empty chairs all set up. I'm sure nothing will go wrong here....
:58 -- Whoops, spoke too soon. Get the chair setter-upper back out here!
1:10 -- Right here, Vince is having a split-second flash of terror that he's about to be pancaked by a chair.
The bell-ringer gets a little overeager at the 18:45 mark -- and after that, does the announcer call Badd's finishing move the "kiss of goodness"?
I remember Johnny B. Badd from early '90s WCW. His gimmick was basically a Little Richard shtick. He would act all posey and puckered up, strutting around (which is my best way to describe what a Little Richard gimmick would be).
He emerged in WWF a couple years later as "Mad Man" Marc Mero, then as Marvelous Marc Mero, in which he used his Golden Gloves boxing past to define his new gimmick. He was the guy who sent Austin to the hospital in the first round of the '96 King of the Ring tournament, but Austin checked out of the ER in time to come back to the arena and win the tournament (see first Austin post, above).
Mero didn't do a whole lot in his career (he was fading quickly from WWF when Austin and Rock started taking over in the late '90s), but if nothing else, he did marry Sable (Rena Mero). Now she's married to Brock Lesnar, but Mero can say he had her in his prime.