Monday, 2 February 2015

No Way Out 1998

My brother got that WWE Network and gave me his password to use at my leisure. I watched a PPV (over a couple days and nights).

Marc Mero & Goldust v The Headbangers 

This was alright. I fully expected it to be nothing outside of maybe one or two Goldust moments, but it was a bit more than that. Dustin looks hideous with the white make up and lipstick and suspenders. He's doing a Marilyn Manson thing, apparently. JR runs through just about every possible amalgamation of the names Goldust and Marilyn Manson. Calls him Marilyndust, Mansondust, Marilyn Manson Dust, etc. Mero was a pretty entertaining shithead in this. Thrasher gets cut open hardway (I think) so Mero punches the cut and complains about blood on his white wrist tape. He then chokes Thrasher with the wrist tape and goofily shadow boxes to a chorus of booes. Biggest pop of the match obviously came towards the end when Sable came back out wearing less clothes than she was wearing at the start (Mero bounced her before the match and got some nice heat for it). I'll be surprised if any babyface other than Austin gets a bigger pop on this show.

How ridiculous was Sunny? That woman was truly gorgeous. Like, legitimately gorgeous, even as far back as SMW in '93. Sable had the massive cans, but Sunny had the smile and charisma and everything else, and none of it looked plastic. She could probably handle her coke, too.

Taka Michinoku v Pantera

Crowd never gave a shit about this. Barely even popped for the highspots. Which is a shame, because it was pretty nifty and more than just a few dives. Lawler and Brian Christopher are incredible obnoxious shitheels on commentary. Any time Christopher notices the camera on him he makes the most punchable facial expressions imaginable. At one point he calls Taka a slant-eye and he and Lawler just rip into him the whole match, which is probably counterproductive, but then the crowd don't care anyway so I'd rather they did something halfway entertaining. It only added to my own personal enjoyment, at least. So you know, fuck the rest of y'all. Great exchange with Christopher and JR: 
'Taka don't know no English!'
'Sounds like you don't either with those double negatives. "Don't know no English!"'
'What?! Hey, I was the valladicktrian in my class.'
'...I rest my case.' 
Pantera hits an awesome headscissors off the apron and then crushes Taka into the barricade with a tope from the apron where he dives past the inside of the ring post, and that sets up a run of backwork, which included a wild tope con hilo to the lower back of a prone Taka. Taka's comeback came a little too easy, but the Michinoku Driver was at least over. What was the best match this light heavyweight division produced? Is there anything that fucks with the high end WCW cruiserweight stuff? Not things like Eddy/Rey from Halloween Havoc, because there are barely any matches in WWF's history that fuck with that, but like, matches that are at least in the discussion with stuff like Juve/Blitzkrieg from Spring Stampede '99 or Eddy/Jericho from Fall Brawl '97? I remember Taka/Sasuke from the Canadian Stampede In Your House being really good. They had maybe the best junior heavyweight in history on the roster for a minute but I'm not sure he did anything other than be the tubby dude in a group that tried to chop off a pornstar's dick. So maybe I just answered my own question. 

The Quebecers v The Godwins

These are two I would not have thought were still on the roster in 1998. This was not good. Based on the tepid crowd response I'll assume the Godwins are the babyfaces, but neither team really do anything to establish a babyface/heel dynamic. Godwins work over Jacques for a spell to no heat at all, then Pierre gets the tag to no heat at all, then Phinneas gets worked over to no heat at all, then some stuff happens and a team wins, to marginally more heat than none at all. In true Attitude Era fashion the Godwins no longer have slop in their buckets. Instead they just carry around empty buckets and hit people on the head with them. Phinneas also looks straight serial killer.

Jeff Jarrett v Bradshaw

Well this was pretty fun. I couldn't remember Jarrett being back in the WWF at this point and I sure as shit had no recollection of him being part of a Cornette stable with fucking Windham and the Rock 'n' Roll Express (they're collectively called The NWA). Robert Gibson has to be THE ugliest motherfucker to ever have fallen into the 'blowjob' sub-category of babyfaces (Morton at least had the hair). Match is worked like a neat Memphis mid-card match that would've drawn a nice bit of heat fifteen years earlier. Bradshaw is just potatoing the living shit out of everything that moves here -- crowbar forearms and clotheslines, nasty punches to the ear and full force big boots. Did he ever tour Japan? I could imagine him having a real stiff-fest in WAR. Post-match you've got the rest of Cornette's boys starting a gang beating and the Road Warriors coming to the aid of Bradshaw, and I like the idea of a Bradshaw/LOD v Jarrett/RnRs six-man. I like to think it happened somewhere. 

Nation of Domination v Ken Shamrock, Ahmed Johnson, Chainz, Skull & 8 Ball

War of attrition is a great name for a match. It insinuates that some shit is about to go down. I only really like three of the guys in this, and I'll be honest, not that much shit went down, but I'm a huge mark for multi-man tags where the teams have beef and I thought this was actively pretty damn good. I mean, it never broke down into anything crazy (although the main event is an eight-man street fight, so you understandably want to save the nutty stuff for that), but everybody got to stretch out and look at least halfway decent. D-Lo isn't one of the three guys I liked going in, but he impressed me enough that I'm interested in seeing more of him through 2015 eyes. He gets super high on a missed moonsault and hits a frog splash from almost the length of the ring away. He might've been my favourite guy in the match, actually, and he was way better at this point than Henry, who is one of the three guys I like, but wasn't really up to much in 1998. For a guy with the gimmick of being the world's most dangerous man, Shamrock never really came across as being all that dangerous. Maybe that changed some when he turned heel, but if we're talking about mixed martial artists doing pro-wrestling then he had about a quarter the aura of someone like Ogawa (it'd be unfair to even compare him to Lesnar). Ahmed is still pretty over as a babyface here (more so than Shamrock), but I could've sworn he'd turned heel and joined the Nation by now. Maybe that comes later. I have no idea which Harris brother plays FIP. Neither do Ross and Lawler. Whoever it was did a solid enough job, but I put most of that down to D-Lo Brown. After the hot tag it spirals into gang fight territory like you expect in a war of fucking attrition, and we've finally got something that out-popped Sable. It doesn't take a whole lot to make me enjoy a match like this, and so I dug it.

"It's fun to beat someone's ass anywhere in the world, but if ya beat someone's ass in Texas, then ya done something." That was basically Austin's promo. Crowd were all over it, obviously.

Vader v Kane

This wasn't very good. Vader threw Vader soup bones and Kane had a couple moments where he looked spryer than I thought he was, but it was mostly plodding and heatless. Picks up a bit in the last couple minutes after Vader hits the moonsault and absolutely slabbers Kane with a clothesline, but Kane just sits up and no-sells everything, anyway. The Tombstone on Vader is an impressive looking spot, though. And the wrench Kane smashes Vader in the face with post-match has to be gimmicked, because if it wasn't it really would've caved his skull in. 

Steve Austin, Owen Hart, Chainsaw Charlie & Cactus Jack v HHH, New Age Outlaws & Savio Vega (Unsanctioned Street Fight)

Man, this was fucking GREAT and a totally slept on Attitude Era brawl. It's not quite on the level of Austin/Foley from Over the Edge, but I can't think of anything else the WWF produced that year that was better than it (I know that's not a massive bar, but whatever). It starts out as a completely bonkers prison riot with all the plunder you could hope for, then they eventually settle down into a couple FIP spells with Funk and Foley going in peril. Funk in peril ruled because he's a hundred years old and will fearlessly get the shit kicked out of him while flinging wild thin air punches. Road Dogg powerbombs him through two chairs and Funk slithers out the ring like a land mine victim, landing head first on a broken table. Savio brings a roll of barbed wire with him and wraps it around Foley, then he sticks it in his mouth and starts pulling like he's trying to rip off Foley's mandible. Brutal spot. Austin was incredible in this, just wailing on everybody with metal things and doing everything at such a frenetic pace. He has that menacing Hansen aura where you almost expect him to haul off and assault someone at any second. Awesome bit where he's standing on the apron and chucks a garbage can full across the ring off Billy's face. I'd have liked a bit more of a hectic run to the finish after the Austin hot tag, but that's really my only complaint (well, it could've done with gallons of blood as well). Crowd completely lose it for Austin Stunning Chyna post-match. He's not even at the peak of his popularity yet, but there's no doubt he's the guy people are here for. It might've been The House that Hogan Built, but you knew who its new tenant was. 

Fun enough PPV. Pretty sure the WCW PPV that month was Superbrawl and had Page v Benoit, but I don't remember anything else about it. I thought Page/Benoit was great, but I'm not sure I'll think it's better than the street fight. Imagine Michaels was fit to participate? Or even be at ringside to antagonise everybody? Woulda been fucking tremendous. War of attrition was fairly good and so was Taka/Pantera, Jarrett/Bradshaw was fun and nothing on the show was outright offensive (well, the Quebecers tag was kinda puke). 

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