What Is He Thinking?! Volume 4: Mr. Perfect, WWE 2002
by Scrooge McSuck
- Curt Hennig has long been one of my favorite wrestlers from my childhood, despite wrestling primarily as a heel. He happend to be one of the few heels cool enough for me to cheer for without the need for a lame gimmick. Unfortunately, when I was regularly watching, he was forced into an early retirement due to back problems. He did return to the ring towards the end of 1992, as a babyface no less, but while he still was working well, he was missing something. He just didn't come across as a babyface to me. He was a natural heel. After another hiatus from the ring towards the end of 1993, Perfect remained an inactive wrestler for the WWF through 1996, when he finally jumped ship to WCW to resume his in ring career.
I'll admit, I did watch WCW a few times to catch a match of him, once again under his birth name due to WWF having the Mr. Perfect character under copyright and trademark. Still, I was a WWF fan, so most often than not, I rarely did see him wrestle, and when by the time I made a real effort in watching WCW in 1999, he was part of a lame stable called the West Texas Rednecks. I don't know the reason, but even if you kicked me in the balls and told me he was from Texas, I know Curt Hennig is from Minnesota. I don't care if the Windhams and Boddy Duncam were really from Texas, Curt Hennig wasn't, and that's all I've got to say about that. To wrap things up before we get too off track, the WWF was holding it's anual Royal Rumble PPV, and among the usual cast, we were promised the returns of four former WWF Superstars, The Godfather and Val Venis, after months away to help us forget Right to Censor, Goldust, hoping to revive his career, and Mr. Perfect. To say I was shitting my pants would be an understatement. Never before had I been so excited for a special participant. No, he wasn't winning, but it didn't matter. It was Mr. Perfect!
30 Man Royal Rumble Match:
Obviously we're joining this in progress, with Mr. Perfect entering at #25. He milks his entrance for all it's worth while Austin and Triple H go at it. Perfect pounds away on both, and hey, remember when Perfect was the mentor to Triple H back in 1996? The Two Man Power Trip end up double teaming Perfect in an attempt to toss him out, but he still has enough in him to spit and swat his gum before escaping the possible elimination. Kurt Angle enters next at #26, and remember when he used to have hair? That's been a long time. He's greeted with a "You Suck/What?" chant. Austin/Perfect and Angle/HHH are the common pairings for the time. #27 is the Big Show, and don't expect him to do much, he's just a big JTTS at this point that looks like Brutus from the old Popeye comics. Perfect walks into a chokeslam. Trips and Austin double-up, but Big Show plows through them with clotheslines. #28 is KAAAAAAAAAAAANE, so we know the big showdown coming. Kane scoops Show up, and slams him over the top, then Austin with a Stunner to Kane, allowing Angle to slam him over the top rope, as well. Perfect and Austin go back to slugging it out, waiting for the next entry. #29 is Rob Van Dam, and remember when people thought he had a chance to be WWF Champion? He Frog-Splashes Angle and offers various heel kicks to all the other remaining. Slam and rolling thunder to Austin. Trips with the kick to the midsection and Pedigree to kill that. #30 is Booker T to round out the field. He tosses RVD, does a Spin-a-Rooni, and goes over following a Stunner. A final four of Austin, HHH, Angle, and Perfect seems like a fantasy booker wet dream at the time. Austin gets tossed at the hands of Angle while attempting to toss Perfect. Perfect goes after Angle, but gets pulled out by Austin and worked over. Angle makes the save and tosses Austin into the steps. This just pisses him off more, bringing a chair into the ring and KO'ing Angle and Perfect. Triple H recovers, and takes a chair shot as well. Triple H ends up tossing Perfect, then Angle to win it. No rating, but it was a disappointing Rumble as a whole, and Hunter winning was all but guaranteed before the show took place.
Mr. Perfect vs. Val Venis:
From the January 21st, 2002 episode of Monday Night Raw. This is pretty much the reintroduction of both men to real matches (as real as fake wrestling is, of course). Venis rips off the old Rick Rude bit by bringing a woman into the ring and making out with her. Lockup to start, and neither man with the advantage. Perfect grabs a waistlock, and they exchange counters. Venis with a drop toe hold and front facelock, but Perfect slips out and applies an armbar. Perfect takes it to the corner, and unloads with chops. Snapmare and floating neck snap from Perfect. Whip to the ropes is reversed, and Venis with his signature knees to the midsection, followed by a Russian leg sweep for a two count. Whip to the corner, Perfect meets boot on a charge, but still has it in him to connect with a lunging forearm. Suddenly, Stone Cold Steve Austin makes his way to ringside (complete with music), grabs a chair, and lays out Mr. Perfect with it. Call it a No Contest at 2:15. Val Venis tries to be Mr. Balls, but he gets taken out too. This just sets up Austin bitching and moaning about stuff, so let's call it a WCW move and carry on...
- From the February 11th, 2002 episode of Monday Night Raw. Mr. Perfect is playing Chess with a former National Amatuer Chess Champion, and not doing very well, so he knocks a piece off the table to distract the goober, moves a piece around, and check mates him for the victory (complete with his theme music playing). Perfect gloats about his victory, despite his cheating. There lies the problem already with this run... he's losing matches and cheating his way through games of chess, still proclaiming himself to be Mr. Perfect. The REAL Mr. Perfect didn't have to cheat. He was perfect, no matter what.
Kane vs. Mr. Perfect:
From the February 18th, 2002 episode of Monday Night Raw, the night after No Way Out. Yes, I actually did deliberately work in a match with Kane, just for the sake of it. Kane hasn't been doing much as of late, so this is just filler. Perfect bad mouths Chicago's Brian Urlacher (spelling?) and the Chicago Bears for not having the PERFECT season. Perfect tries a waistlock, but Kane elbows him away. Perfect with a side headlock, and a shoulder block sends him half-way across the ring. Whip to the ropes, and Kane connects with a big boot, followed by an uppercut, sending Hennig to the floor. Perfect rams Kane into the post, and hammers away. Back in the ring, and Perfect with a lunging forearm to take Kane off his feet, following by the floating neck snap. Kane no-sells it and goes for the chokeslam, but Hennig fights free. Whip to the ropes, and Perfect attempts the Perfect-Plex, but Kane fights his way out. Whip to the corner, Kane with a clothesline, followed by the side suplex. Kane heads to the top rope, and comes off with the flying clothesline (complete with oversell). Kane with the chokeslam (actually botched on the first attempt), and that's enough for a three count at 2:10. That was a fun couple of minutes. Wish it would've gotten more time, though. It's hard to botch a chokeslam spot, and surprisingly it was Hennig's fault there.
"Stone Cold" Steve Austin vs. Mr. Perfect:
From the February 25th, 2002 episode of Monday Night Raw. These two have had encounters in the past few weeks, including the run-in between a match with Perfect and Val Venis, as well as some backstage shenanigans. I think Perfect was flirting with Debra too, because being married to Austin meant getting television time. Austin comes to the ring with a tire iron, an equalizer of sorts in his feud with the New World Order. Just mentioning Hennig and the nWo in the same sentence proves how badly the WWF creative wanted the WCW invasion angle to fail. That's FOUR names that could easily be top of the card antagonists. Lockup into the corner, and we get a surprisingly clean break. Hennig with a waistlock, then a series of counters to take it into the corner. Hennig bitch slaps Austin, so Austin offers him the middle finger. Perfect with a headlock, followed by a shoulder tackle. Perfect with a headlock takeover. Austin counters with a head scissors, and it's back to their feet at a neutral position. Perfect with another headlock and shoulder block. Criss-cross, and Austin lays him out with a forearm clothesline. they trade chops in the corner. Whip across the ring, and Austin plants him with a spine buster. Whip from corner to corner, followed by a clothesline for two. Hennig over-sells being rammed into the buckle. Hennig blocks the Stunner and nails Austin coming off the ropes with an elbow. Jim Ross drops magic phrases to explain the underperformance of both men like "they're preoccupied with such-and-such." Perfect with chops, Austin with rights. Whip to the ropes, and Austin with the Lou Thesz Press, followed by an elbow drop. Austin with mudhole stomping (complete with What?! chants). Perfect walks into a kick, and the Stunner finishes it at 4:58. Afterwards, Austin gets attacked by the nWo, complete with having a CEMENT BLOCK SMASHED ON HIS LEG. Match was surprisingly not-good, thanks to some sloppy transitions and just not being able to gel.
Edge vs. Mr. Perfect:
From the March 3rd, 2002 episode of Sunday Night Heat, taped at the FleetCenter in Boston, MA. This match somehow made it to an Edge DVD set released a few years back. Edge has a shit eating grin on his face while Hennig makes his entrance, no doubt living out a childhood dream of sorts for this. Lockup to start, and Perfect grabs a headlock. Whip to the ropes, and Perfect with a shoulder. Criss-cross sequence ends with Edge taking Perfect over with a hip toss, then sending him to the floor with a dropkick. Edge pulls Perfect back to the apron, but gets rammed to the buckle for his efforts. Back inside, Perfect lays into Edge with chops. Perfect throws Edge across the ring with a handful of hair. Edge throws Perfect to the corner, and unloads with his own chops, and throws Perfect around by the hair. Perfect tries to escape, but crotches himself on the post instead. Perfect cheap shots Edge from over the referee's shoulder, takes him down with a snapmare, and follows with the floating neck snap. Perfect slaps on the abdominal stretch, and yes, he DOES use the ropes for leverage. Slugfest, won by Edge, followed by an atomic drop. Edge with a reverse version, followed by a lunging clothesline. Edge with the snap-back slam for a two count. Whip to the ropes, Edge goes for the Spear, but Perfect pulls the referee in the way. Perfect rams Edge shoulder-first into the post, then grabs a chair. Edge counters the use of the chair with a Spear, and he's declared the winner by Disqualification at 3:51. Solid match, but I don't understand the lame finish, when Perfect was jobbing to EVERYONE.
Scotty II Hotty & Albert vs. Mr. Perfect & Test:
From the March 4th, 2002 episode of Monday Night Raw. Remember when Albert was the Hip-Hop Hippo? The hell if I can remember how that team came to be, but I thought it was harmless undercard fun. Unlike harmless fun, it's attempt to push Test #5 at this point, and people still don't care much for him. Remember when he and Albert were T & A? Perfect is filling in for Booker T, who was... I don't know, washing his hair? Perfect and Albert start. Lockup, and Albert with a shoulder tackle, followed by a slam. Perfect with an elbow to the charging Hippo, and Test follows up with a clothesline. Test stomps away in the corner, then charges in with a pair of clotheslines. Perfect goes for the Perfect-Plex, but Albert's too big, and counters with a front drop suplex. Scotty gets the tag, and comes off the ropes with a forearm. Albert crushes Perfect and Test in the corner, then dumps Perfect to the floor. Albert eats ring post attempting a slam of some type. Meanwhile, back in the ring, Scotty with the WORM on Test. Suddenly, Perfect comes back in, offers a boot to the midsection, and finishes it with the Perfect-Plex at 2:18. Perfect and Test continue the punishment until Rikishi makes the save, and Perfect falls victim to the stink face. Scotty and 'Kish share a hug afterwards... I'm guessing Rikishi was just coming back from an injury? Too short to mean anything.
Rikishi vs. Mr. Perfect:
From the March 10th, 2002 episode of Sunday Night Heat, with Tazz and The Coach calling the action. We revisit last monday's Raw, where Rikishi made the save and gave Mr. Perfect a stink face. WrestleMania X-8 is brought to you by SOUR Skittles. Perfect attacks before the bell, but Rikishi quickly fends him off. Hennig slips out of a slam attempt (quite sloppily), but saves it by sweeping the legs and stomping Rikishi pretty low. Perfect comes out of the corner with the floating neck snap, and continues to pound away. Nothing much happens, but the commentary is very interesting, talking about Angle and Kane's possible match, and Angle using a shed to attack Kane? Perfect goes for a slam, but Rikishi counters with one of his own. He comes off the ropes with the Earthquake ass splash. Perfect staggers his way into the corner and takes the Yokozuna charging butt splash. This sets up for the obvious spot, but Perfect keeps the referee distracted, allowing Test to run in and KO Rikishi with a big boot. Perfect rolls over for the cover, and gets the three count at 2:46. Eh... At least he's winning matches now.
Rikishi, Scotty II Hotty, Albert vs. Mr. Perfect, Test, Lance Storm:
From the March 17th, 2002 episode of Sunday Night Heat, live before WrestleMania X-8, from the Skydome in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Mr. Perfect was at the last WrestleMania to take place in the SkyDome, a losing effort against Brutus Beefcake. This is to finish off the mini-program we've covered over the past couple of matches. Throw Lance Storm in for whatever reason, and we have a 6-Man Tag! Storm attacks Albert from behind to start. Albert with a press slam into a pinning combination for two. Scotty tags in and takes a cheap shot from the apron, allowing Storm to connect with a side heel kick. Test tags in and works Scotty over in the corner. Hey look, Jacqueline is the referee, for no other reason than she's not worth using as anything else. Storm back in with a slam, but a second rope elbow misses. Perfect gets the tag, as does Rikishi. Rikishi slugs way, and they blow a Samoan drop spot. Rikishi sends Perfect over the top with a crescent kick, and Storm does the same to Rikishi. Scotty with a bulldog on Storm, followed by the Worm. Test runs in and connects with a charging boot. Albert with the Baldo-Bomb on Test. Perfect sends Albert to the floor with the Axe. Rikishi crushes Perfect in the corner and goes for the Stink Face, but Perfect blocks with the towel. The visual of the towel hanging out of Rikishi's cheeks is pretty funny. Rikishi with a crescent kick, and the Banzai Drop finishes Perfect off at 3:06. Fun little match, with everyone hitting their big moves. The good guys dance afterwards to celebrate their victory.
The Hardy Boyz vs. Mr. Perfect & The Boss Man:
From the April 1st, 2002 episode of Monday Night Raw, the first episode to feature the Brand Exclusive Rosters. Boss Man and Perfect teaming up is like a flashback to the arcade game WrestleFest, the only other time these two could ever possibly be a team. Is it me, or was Jeff wearing Lita's pants for this match? Raw is brought to you by MINT Skittles and Burger King. Try the new Chicken Whopper or Chicken Jr. Whopper! We don't offer that anymore, but how about trying the new Chicken Parmesian Tendergrill, and a new Raspberry Smoothie? For a limited time only... Boss Man and Perfect attack before the bell. Boss Man tosses Jeff to the floor, and hangs Matt up across the top rope. Perfect with a floating neck snap on Matt, and Boss Man comes in to toss Matt across the ring by the hair. Boss Man with a side suplex for a two count. Perfect uses the towel to choke while the referee is distracted by Jeff and the Boss Man. Perfect and Boss Man take turns taking it out on Matt. What it is is unknown, but it must be important. Boss Man misses a charge to the corner, allowing Matt to make the hot tag to Jeff. He takes care of both men. Diving forearm to Boss Man and a jawbreaker to Perfect. Whip to the corner, and it's POETRY in Motion. Perfect somehow over-sells that with a bump over the top rope. Boss Man with the spinebuster to Jeff, but he gets the foot on the rope. Boss Man tries for a super-plex, but Matt brings him down, connects with a Twist of Fate, and the Swanton Bomb finishes it off at 3:56. Decent match. Perfect and Boss Man did the heel formula tag action, but never seemed in trouble 'til the very end, so that makes it kind of feh. Too bad they didn't continue with that team, considering the lack of depth in the division.
Tommy Dreamer vs. Mr. Perfect:
From the May 5th, 2002 episode of Sunday Night Heat. We're jumping over some stuff to cover more ground, so sorry to all the Rob Van Dam fans for not recapping one of their matches together. Dreamer was having a semi-revival, winning the Hardcore Title countless times and being Undertaker's bitch. It's a step up from Jakked scrub, I would say. Our new Heat broadcast team is Coach and RAVEN, and yes, Raven was a pretty solid commentator in my opinion. They spend a good amount of time hyping the AWFUL Hogan/Undertaker program. Lockup to start, no advantage. They fight over a waistlock until Perfect slaps the taste out of his mouth. Back inside, Perfect with a headlock. They trade cartwheels and Dreamer returns the slap to the face. Perfect takes it to the corner with chops, takes Dreamer over with a snapmare, and follows with the floating neck snap. Dreamer with chops a snapmare and neck snap, but he appears to injure his knee on the attempt. Perfect clips the leg and works a spinning toe hold. He continues to work over the leg, and yes, he does use the ropes for extra leverage. Dreamer counters a toe hold with a small package for two. Whip to the ropes, Dreamer connects with a back elbow. He goes for the DVD, but Perfect slips free, then quickly finishes Dreamer with the Perfect Plex at 3:23. OK-ish, but as always, a three minute match is only as good as the time it gets... that made zero sense, didn't it?
Matt Hardy vs. Mr. Perfect:
From the May 12th, 2002 episode of Sunday Night Heat, but taped on May 6th. The Hardys were working a program with the freshly debuted Brock Lesnar at this point, no doubt not one of their career highlights. They're taking applications for Tough Enough III, don'cha know? Lockup to start, and neither man gets the advantage. They trade hammerlocks until Perfect uses leverage to throw Matt through the ropes. Matt responds with bitch slapping, leading to a chase around the ring. Back inside, Hardy with more slapping, and another chase. Perfect snapmares Hardy back into the ring. Criss-cross sequence, and Perfect comes off the ropes with a dropkick. Perfect punts at the midsection of Hardy, then lays in with chops in the corner. Whip across the ring, and Perfect meets boot on a charge. Matt with the Side Effect, followed by a slam. Matt to the second rope, and he connects with a leg drop. Boot to the midsection, and the Twist of Fate finishes Perfect off at 2:16. Wow, I didn't think we'd see Perfect job that fast to a tag team wrestler.
Final Thoughts: And thus ends the WWF career of Curt Hennig. Just days following the TV tapings the first week of May, the WWF did their annual tour overseas, which resulted in what later became known as the "Plane Ride from Hell", where WWF talent seemed to be suffering from a lapse of good juudgment. Among other things, X-Pac cut off Michael Hayes' mullet, Scott Hall was passed out wasted off his ass, and Hennig and Lesnar decided to have a very unsafe impormptu wrestling match, resulting in Hennig's termination. To say his work was all over the place would be accurate. At times, he still had it, and looked fluid in the ring, and others, he seemed lost, like a rookie finding his way around a new environment.
Hennig resumed his career later in the year for the (then) upstart NWA-TNA, appearing on their weekly Pay-Per-View's through the beginning of 2003. Sadly, Curt Hennig's poor life choices cost him his life, passing away on February 10th, 2003, at the age of 44. Hennig was scheduled to work a show promoted by Jimmy Hart at the Sarasota Fair that date, and in an awful Scrooge Tidbit, it was something I was seriously contimplating to see, just to watch Curt Hennig in person. Finding out about Hennig's death was definitely one of the more heart-breaking deaths, having been a fan since I was a young child. In another tidbit I'm sure I'll regret mentioning, when I'm at work, sometimes I'll bust out my inner Hennig, claiming that something was "absolutely perfect." Anyway, as for the collection of work, Hennig's WWF return might've been a failure, but during a year when nostalgia was running wild (HOGAN!), it was mostly harmless fluff with the occasional flash of brilliance you would hope to see.
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