The WWF Headlock on Hunger
by Scrooge McSuck
WWF @ Madison Square Garden - January 29th, 1993
- Here's a card I've been looking forward to viewing for a while. Yes, it's fan-cam, and yes, that makes me a huge dork, but this was not just another house show. This thing was advertised everywhere: WWF television programming (all of them, syndicated and Monday Night Raw), was given a mention on the Royal Rumble PPV (where Gorilla Monsoon gave out incorrect information!), and even had an article dedicated to it in an issue of WWF Magazine. It was less of a true card (it was LOADED, something like 12 matches, featuring practically all of the talent active on the roster) and more of a fundraiser to help donate money for what was eventually called "Operation Restore Hope", a United States lead operative to help build secure environments and the always classy end of starvation. We won't get into the whole "sticking our nose into other peoples business" aspect of how the whole thing turned out (death of American soldiers), but it's a nice gesture from Vince and company, and definitely something positive for them to shine with, after a long fallout of steroid and sex scandals that plagued the WWF for most of 1991 and 1992.
- I don't know how this was originally done live, but the tape opens with the entire WWF locker room filing out, surrounding the ring, as Mean Gene Okerlund introduces everyone and their mothers, from the wrestlers we'll be seeing on the card, the managers, television announcers, the road agents such as Tony Garea, J.J. Dillon, Arnold Skaaland and Sgt. Slaughter, to even introducing Vince AND Linda McMahon. We hand things over to the Reverend Slick to address the crowd for their support of the Somalian relief, then finally brings out WWF Champion Bret Hart and the big check of $100,000 to be donated to the relief effort.
- Quick Note: This is not the complete card. We're missing the following matches: Shawn Michaels vs. Bob Backlund for the Intercontinental Title, The Steiner Brothers taking on the Beverly Brothers in a Royal Rumble ReMatch, and "El Matador" Tito Santana defending the honor of animals everywhere by facing off with that filthy pig, Skinner. Only match I would've liked to see was the tag match, but this is still a loaded card.
"Macho Man" Randy Savage vs. "Million $ Man" Ted Dibiase (w/ Jimmy Hart):
I know 5-years can make a lot of difference, but think back, it was that long ago (from this point) that these two were running a WWF Championship program through Madison Square Garden for the better part of 5-months, and now, by the start of 1993, Dibiase is half of the Tag Team Champions, and Savage is being pushed into semi-retirement. Savage;s lime-green attire, matched with the lights = headache enducing visuals. Lockup to start, and they tussle around the ropes before we get a clean break. Honestly, this match is on the verge of breaking my "able to view it" rules of fan-cam. Lockup, Dibase uses the ropes to take Savage down, then hides in the ropes. They play cat-and-mouse, but it's just stalling. Savage finally gets a piece of Dibiase with an axehandle from behind. Back inside, and he unloads with rights and lefts. Savage takes him over with a back drop, hits a clothesline for two, then works a side headlock. Criss-cross sequence ends with Savage taking Dibiase over with a hip toss, and connecting with another clothesline for two, before going back to the headlock. Dibiase uses a well-time distraction from Jimmy Hart to take control, tossing Savage over the top rope. Back inside, Dibiase remains in control. Has the handler of the camera forgotten how "zoom" works? Savage gets a quick near fall, but Dibiase promptly pounces to regain control. Whip to the ropes, and Savage surprises Dibiase with a back slide for another two count. Dibiase snaps Savage over with a suplex for a two count of his own, then slaps on a rear chinlock. Goodie. I'm sorry, but I expected more out of these two than what I've seen, so far. Savage fights free and sends Dibiase to the floor following a running high knee. Savage to the top rope, and he comes crashing down on Dibiase with his trademark axehandle smash. VINTAGE MACHO MAN! Sorry, been watching too much wrestling called by Michael Cole, lately. Back inside, Savage with a slam, and the top rope elbow smash MISSES. Didn't expect that. Dibiase walks into a surprise small package, but that only gets two. He slaps on the Million Dollar Dream, but Savage won't be denied, because he's hungry! Hungry for victory! Savage forces a break, ramming Dibiase back into the buckle. Savage attempts a roll up, but Dibiase hooks the ropes. Savage responds by planting him with a DDT, and that gets the three count at 13:03. I didn't think I'd ever see Savage pin someone with the DDT, but there you go. Felt like Dibiase was sleepwalking through the majority of it, but Savage seemed energetic enough to generate my interest here and there.
Tatanka vs. Damien Demento:
Everytime I hear "from the Outer Reaches of Your Mind", I have to laugh. There's being fake, and being so ridiculously god-damn stupid it insults the intelligence of even the dumbest of marks. Why not just say he's from the Twilight Zone, or the Dark Side of the Moon while you're at it? He's a Jobber, so expect this to be short. Key word: EXPECT. Not a guarante, sadly. Demento wastes time, no doub talking to the hand... dude, it wasn't something to take literally when you're told "talk to the hand." Plenty o' stallin' to start. Lockup, and Demento quickly grabs an overhead wristlock. Tatanka turns it into a hammerlock, so Demento hooks the ropes to break. Lockup, and Demento with a headlock. Tatanka powers out, and gets yanked down by the hair for his efforts. Demento continues to play cowardly heel, while Tatanka plays over-excited babyface who can't do anything to the heel. Who wants to take bets that this match recap will be filled more with smart-ass complaining than actual match detail? When Mondo Kleen/Damien Demento and the Smoking Gunns are the acts worthy enough to steal from IWCCW, imagine how bad the rest of the roster was. Tatanka fights out of a headlock, and uses a handful of hair to toss Demento to the floor. Tatanka lays in with chops, rolls back in, and Demento rolls back out. VINTAGE DEMENTO... or not, I dunno. Back inside, Tatanka demonstrates chain wrestling. Hip toss and a slam, followed by chops in the corner. Demento puts the breaks on, but ends up walking into a clothesline. Tatanka charges to the corner, and eats a clothesline. Demento drops a leg across the midsection, then connects with an elbow for two. CHINLOCK! (Looks at counter) Dammit, there SHOULD be a guarante that sucky matches are not to get more than 5-minutes. Tatanka escapes with elbows, but some douches are blocking the camera, so, I guess Demento stopped it with a back-flip dropkick. Or he's just ramming Tatanka to the buckle, only for it to be no-sold. Tatanka does his War Dance, and the Papoose to Go finishes at 8:54. Ugh. Bad match, but I had fun poking fun at everything, so I guess that makes it entertaining, in a morbid kind of way.
WWF Championship Match:
I have no clue how this tape was originally edited, but I'm assuming these past few matches went last, and then we cut to the start halfway through? I dunno... I do remember this being one of the matches hyped on Superstars during the Event Centers promoting this special card, so... I got nothing. I'm sorry. Both men are fresh off victories at the Royal Rumble, with Bret successfully defending the belt against Razor Ramon, and Bigelow making short work of the Big Boss Man. Bret uses his speed advantage to duck away from several grapples. They finally lockup, and Bigelow sends Bret clear out of the ring. I guess we now know who has the advantage in strength. Back inside, Bret quickly grabs a headlock. Whip to the ropes, and Bigelow sends Hart back to the floor with a shoulder tackle. Back inside, Bigelow goes to the eyes, and pounds away. Bret comes off the ropes with a dropkick, rolls away from Bigelow's rebound elbow drop, then goes to work on said elbow with a wristlock and well-placed rights. Bigelow with an attempted press slam, but Bret shifts his weight and ends up landing on top for two. Bret with more roundhouse rights, followed by a diving elbow, sending the Beast from the East to the floor. Bret with a dive from the apron, but Bigelow catches and rams him back-first into the ring post. Bam Bam scoops Bret up and rams him into the post for added measure.
Bret "Hitman" Hart © vs. Bam Bam Bigelow:
Back inside, and Bigelow quickly goes to work, pounding away on the back and taking the Hitman down with a high angle back suplex. Whip to the corner, with the impact rattling the ring. Irish whip, and Bigelow catches Bret in a bearhug. Might as well be a reverse Body Vice, he's got Bret so far off the ground, and practically draped over the shoulder. Bret escapes the grip, but Bigelow remains in control, then hoists him up into the Body Vice, proper. Bret uses the turnbuckle to kick off and escape, but unwisely goes for a crucifix, and gets squashed for it. That's only enough for two, though, so Bigelow goes back to bearhug-type rest holds. We clip ahead to Bret in control, coming off the middle rope with a bulldog. He goes for the Sharpshooter, but Bigelow's legs are too strong to apply the hold. Bret comes off the ropes and gets caught in another bearhug, but this time escapes with biting. Back suplex attempt is countered with a body press by Bigelow, but that only gets two. Whip to the corner, Bigelow eats boot on a charge, and Bret does the victory roll from out of the corner for the three count and to regain the gold at 11:43. There was a good few minutes clipped out there, but to sum it up, if you've seen any Bret/Bam Bam matches from 1993, this one follows the basic pattern.
Virgil & Jim Powers vs. The Headshrinkers (w/ Afa):
According to reliable sources, Powers is subbing for Jim Duggan, who is no doubt selling the effects of the Yokozuna beatdown taped to air the following week on Superstars. I HATED that aspect of taped shows, especially those ones taped a month or so in advance, and having to book everything to go along with what was taped, even if it didn't make it to air, yet. I can't imagine this going more than 5-minutes. It's Powers and Virgil, for the love of Christ. Virgil and Samu start. Lockup, and Virgil attempts a hammerlock, but Samu throws him down. He goes for a slam, with no success. Virgil stomps the foot and connects with a dropkick to finally get Samu to sell. Whip to the ropes, and a body press barely gets one. Fatu tags in, and immediately wants a test of strength. Talk about dragging things out... Virgil works the arm, then tags out to Powers, who is promptly taken down with a back suplex. Dear Powers, Welcome to Jobville. Population, You. Powers manages to get a dropkick and clothesline for two. Virgil tags in and runs into a crescent kick to a pretty solid reaction. Fatu takes a shot at Powers, just for the sake he's Jim Powers, then drops Virgil throat-first across the top rope. Samu with a headbutt to the midsection, followed by a pretty swank dropkick. Virgil gets the boots up on a charge to the corner, but is still at the mercy of the Samoans. Fatu with a headbutt for two, then it's time for everyones favorite rest hold, the chinlock. Virgil fights to his feet, but goes back down courtesy of a clothesline. This has officially gone on too long for me. Samu meets the post on a charge, allowing Jim Powers to get the hot tag. He goes to the midsection of Fatu, and comes off the ropes with a knee lift. Back drop to Fatu and a dropkick for Samu. Russian leg sweep on Fatu gets two. Double noggin-knocker... does NOT work, and Powers is dead. Virgil runs in and eats a crescent kick. Samu with a back breaker on Powers, and Fatu finishes with the top rope splash at 10:05. Solid match for the most part, and again, I'm very surprised at how long these undercard matches are getting. Seriously, Jim Powers and Virgil get 10-minutes? Crowd was surprisingly into it, too.
Mr. Perfect vs. "Nature Boy" Ric Flair:
Despite Flair having already lost the Loser Leaves WWF Match (in television time, too), he's finishing the rest of his contractually obligated dates. Surprise, surprise, during the ceremonies, Ric Flair got a fairly solid babyface reaction, no doubt smart fans knowing he was off to WCW in a couple of weeks. I've sat through no less than three matches between these two from the month of January 1993 in a short span of time, so pardon me if I'm a little tired of it by now. Lockup, Flair with a headlock and shoulder tackle. Perfect takes him down with a drop toe hold, then offers a bitch slap as a good bye present. They fight through wristlocks and toe holds until Perfect gains control working the arm. Flair forces a break in the corner, and unloads with chops. Perfect turns things around with chops of his own, then puts Flair on the canvas following a trio of short rights. Flair goes to the eyes and dumps Perfect over the top rope. Back inside, a whip to the corner has Perfect spill to the floor again. Am I crazy, or is that Bobby Heenan at ringside, no doubt acting as Flair's Executive Adviser, or Financial consultant, or whatever. Flair unwisely heads to the top rope, and you guessed it, gets slammed off for his lack of vision. Perfect quickly goes for the leg and slaps on the Figure-Four, getting several near falls in the process.
Flair hooks the ropes to force the break, then gets a hand off from Heenan while the referee pulls Perfect off. Flair with a boot to the midsection, and hey look, Gorilla Monsoon (I think it was him) takes Heenan back to the locker room, dragging him by the neck. Whip to the corner, and Perfect with a back drop for two. Flair with a knee to the midsection, and once again, tosses Perfect over the top, to the floor. He sends Hennig to the corner, and slaps on a sleeper hold. Eventually, yes, he DOES use the ropes for added leverage. Shockingly, the referee doesn't notice, and chooses to try and count his shoulders down. Perfect eventually forces a break, but Flair's still in better position to control the action. Whip to the ropes, and it's Perfect's turn to work a sleeper. Flair quickly counters with an atomic drop, leg sweep, and it's time for his Figure-Four, and yes, the ropes get molested once again to add leverage to a deadly submission manuever. The referee eventually catches the dastardly cheating, forcing a break. Flair continues working the leg with well placed stomps to the knee. Flair sweeps the leg and goes for the Figure-Four again, but Perfect counters with a small package for two. They trade off chops and rights, with Perfect coming out on top of the exchange. Whip to the ropes, Hennig ducks under a clothesline, and sends Flair to the floor with one of his own. Perfect soon follows and rams Flair into the post, and we finally get a flop. VINTAGE RIC FLAIR! Back inside, Perfect counters a hip toss with a back slide for two. Flair with chops, but Perfect's doing his best impression of Sting/Lex Luger, no-selling them. He hammers away with rights and takes Flair over with a back drop. Whip to the corner, Flair flips to the apron, runs up the ropes, and jumps into a fist. Perfect goes for a roll up, but Flair hooks the ropes. Instead, he connects with the Axe, and that gets two. Flair finally digs into his tights and nails Perfect with the weapon handed off to him earlier by Heenan. That only gets two. Flair tries to suplex Perfect to the floor, but he blocks and brings Flair back in the ring with his own for a two count. Whip to the ropes, and Flair catches Hennig with his head down, driving an elbow into the neck. Flair sends Perfect to the ropes, and this time it's a Perfect-Plex... but Razor Ramon runs in for the Disqualification at 16:13. Ramon tosses Perfect to the floor and nails him with a chair. Why bother, when Perfect was penciled in for a program with Lex Luger, already? Match was going wonderfully until the bullshit finish.
Typhoon vs. The Berzerker:
Is it too late for me to stop the DVD? Please, I'm begging you, let this be short. For the love of God, PLEASE LET THIS BE SHORT! Stalling to start, as expected. Lockup into the corner, and Berzerker offers a cheap shot. You expected anything less? Lockup to the corner, and this time Typhoon takes liberties with his opponent. Where's Hardcore Holly when you need someone to teach people their place? Berzerker with a headlock, and a shoulder block spot goes nowhere. They do it again, and yay, the tape is crapping out. Typhoon knocks Berzerker to the floor with another shoulder. Back inside, and they tease a test-of-strength. Nearby fan: Hit him with your sword! Can't argue that logic, can you? Berzerker puts the boots to him to take control. Typhoon fights back to his feet, sending Berzerker to the floor, again. Way to over-use a spot. Back inside, Berzerker with clubberin' blows and choking. This drags on... and on... and on... Berzerker goes for a cover, but only gets two. Whip to the corner, and Typhoon misses an avalanche. Berzerker argues with the referee, allowing Typhoon to sneak up with an atomic drop. He crushes him in the corner, and covers for three at 6:24. Too long. 2-minutes probably would've been too long for me.
- Howard Finkel has kind words for Andre The Giant, who had passed away just two days earlier. He asks everyone to stand for a 10-Bell Salute in his memory. The crowd gives a chant of "Andre" afterwards. For an era of kayfabe, for the WWF to not only recognize his death so much on television and in publication, but to publish an entire magazine dedicated to him (an issue of Spotlight, but still...) shows how important he was.
Big Boss Man vs. Razor Ramon:
Hey, it's the the match of losers from the Royal Rumble. We saw Bret take on Bigelow in the Winners match-up, so now we get to see who is the ultimate loser. My money is on the on his way out Boss Man. The lighting of the ring makes this practically unwatchable. Lockup into the ropes, and they trade a slap for a shove after the break. We get some trash talking. Boss Man surprises Ramon with an elbow, and rolls him up for two. Boss Man with a small package for two, and a hip toss sends Ramon to the floor for a breather. Back inside, Ramon wants a test-of-strength... enough with that friggin' spot. He suckers Boss Man in, and gives him a slap. Ramon with a modified surfboard, and I'm sorry, it's hard to see a lot of this, so pardon if I'm missing something. Boss Man battles to his feet, but Ramon with a knee to ground him once again. This drags on for a good while. Boss Man manages to turn the tide, but Ramon goes low out of the view of the referee to drop Boss Man like a sack of crap. Ramon continues working Boss Man over, but it's just so plodding and dull. Whip to the corner, completely oversold, for a two count. Whip to the ropes, and Boss Man surprises Ramon with an uppercut, followed by an inverted atomic drop and clothesline. Boss Man with a slam, followed by mounted punches in the corner. Whip across the ring, and Boss Man meets buckle on a charge. Ramon with a school boy, and no doubt a hang full of pants, for the three count at 8:55. That was much worse than I expected. Boss Man barely did anything, and Ramon was in such low-gear, I almost confused him for a park bench.
The Undertaker (w/ Paul Bearer) vs. Irwin R. Schyster (w/ Jimmy Hart):
Final match on the tape, and an odd choice of a match-up... 'Taker and I.R.S.? I know they had their little program for the '95 Rumble, but it still seems like a weird thrown together option. I.R.S. tries punking 'Taker out, then wisely runs. Irwin with stomping and rights, but 'Taker no-sells it, mostly. He geabs I.R.S. by the tie, throws him into the corner, and chokes away. Camera man falls asleep on us, but we rejoin the action with 'Taker booting I.R.S. in the face. He grabs the arms, and goes to the top... yes, it's VINTAGE UNDERTAKER! 'Taker no-sells a boot to the face and plants Irwin with a slam. He misses an elbow drop, then goes to the floor following a clothesline. Yndertaker goes for Hart, but I.R.S. makes the save with a shot to the back with his championship belt. Back inside, and Irwin's offense of punching is starting to have an effect. Whip to the corner, and 'Taker misses a charge. Irwin comes off the ropes with the flying clothesline, but Undertaker sits up. I.R.S. with a scoop slam, followed by elbow drops. He goes to the top rope, and jumps right into a fist. I hate that spot so much. Undertaker recovers quickly, and finishes him off with the Tombstone at 4:15. Short and inoffensive.
Final Thoughts: I can't imagine how the live crowd sat through this show. We're short a few matches, and we still had a running time of over two hours, with obvious fat trimmed between matches. Bret/Bam Bam and Perfect/Flair were the obvious leaders in terms of quality, and we got a surprisingly good tag team match from the Shrinkers/JTTS team. Everything else ranged from OK, but boring (Savage/Dibiase, 'Taker/IRS) to downright brutal to sit through (Tatanka/Demento, Typhoon/Berzerker). That would be enough to say it's a show worth checking out, but the video quality is almost unwatchable for a couple of matches due to poor lighting from the house, and a pretty poor job recording it. Of all the MSG cards I've seen on fan-cams, this might've been the worst in terms of video quality. With that said, don't bother, you can see the two matches worth a damn from various television programs, working practically the same formula.
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