Extreme Rules 2012 results

Pre-Show United States Championship Match: Santino Marella (Champion) defeated The Miz after four and a half minutes with the Cobra.

Falls Count Anywhere Match: Randy Orton defeated Kane after seventeen minutes with an RKO on a steel chair.

Impromptu Match: Brodus Clay w/ Hornswoggle, Naomi, and Cameron defeated Dolph Ziggler w/ Vickie Guerrero and Jack Swagger when Clay hit Ziggler with a big splash on four minutes.

Tables Match for the Intercontinental Championship Match: Cody Rhodes defeaetd The Big Show (Champion) to regain the Intercontinental Title after about four and a half minutes.

Two out of Three Falls Match for the World Heavyweight Championship: Sheamus (Champion) defeated Daniel Bryan 2-1 in a twenty-three minute long battle.

Impromptu Handicap Match: Ryback defeated two jobbers in less than two minutes.

Chicago Street Fight for the WWE Championship: CM Punk (Champion) defeated Chris Jericho in a twenty five minute match to retain his WWE Championship

Divas Championship Match: Layla defeated Nikki Bella (Champion) w/ Brie Bella with a neckbreaker to win the Divas Championship in under three minutes.

Extreme Rules Match: John Cena hit Brock Lesnar with the Attitude Adjustment onto the ring steps to win the match in just under twenty minutes.

Matches from history: Chamber of Horrors from WCW Halloween Havoc 1991

Craig Wilson & James Giles

Craig: I’ve enjoyed the ‘matches from history’ series as we have looked at underrated matches from the history of wrestling and more often than not waxed lyrically about them. The same, however, cannot be said for this one. If you were to ask the question ‘how can you take a group of the top wrestlers in the world yet still make a rotten match?’ then the answer has to be the Chamber of Horrors.

Previously this author has confessed to missing the cartoon nature of early nineties wrestling but even your Repo Man, Big Boss Man etc looked realistic when compared to this rubbish

Picture the scene, you take a cage match, you put some of the biggest names in the business in it – Scott Hall, Sting, Cactus Jack, the Steiners, Big Van Vader, Abdullah the Butcher as well as El Gigante and put it on a PPV. Surely this would be a classic, eh? Well, perhaps for all the wrong reasons.

Since the match was to be held at Halloween Havoc, WCW decided in their infinite wisdom that a good old fashioned cage match wasn’t enough so it had to be made more gimmicky. In the cage there were caskets and other weapons, the cage was noticeable larger and they put an electric chair in the middle of the ring.

Yup, that’s right, an electric chair. To win this match you have to put one of your opponents in the chair and pull the switch in order to electrocute them. Christ, even writing that sounds stupid.

Besides the obvious faults, of which there are many, this one suffers from several serious faults. The camera work is absolutely awful making the match very difficult to follow. It seems to be even worse for the crowd though, which is dead throughout. It’s a huge brawl for the first 10 minutes or so, with Sting, Cactus and Abdullah – no surprise – all bleeding. Abdullah gets put into the chair and after a contrived sequence, Cactus Jack pulls the switch and he is “electrocuted” to give the Sting’s team the win. Queue fireworks etc to make the match look even dafter.

Honestly, I’ve you’ve not seen this then watch it but don’t be expecting anything good. It’s nonsense and awful but somewhat amusing at the same time.

James: There have been some brilliant wrestling matches in over-sized cages; WWE has had huge artistic and commercial success with its Hell in a Cell and Elimination Chamber bouts, and before then WCW had its War Games battles. Craig has already written about why they were such a great gimmick match, and I’m sure will cover a few of them in this feature. In 1991 though, WCW decided to put a different twist on the over-sized cage gimmick, and in the main event of the Halloween Havoc presented the now infamous Chamber of Horrors match.

From the very description of what it would entail, you could tell this was going to be a classic piece of crap; the ring would be surrounded by a giant, War Games-style cage but with an open roof – after so long, an electric chair would be lowered into the ring and whichever team could get a member of the opposition in the chair and flick the switch (thus frying said person) would win. You have to feel sorry for announcers Jim Ross and Tony Schiavone, who had to explain and sell this concept without laughing out loud. The line up of workers is mostly good, with Cactus Jack, The Diamond Stud (Scot Hall) and Vader as the heels, against Sting and the Steiner Brothers as faces; sadly the teams are filled out by Abdullah the Butcher and El Gigante respectively, which serves as omen of how good things will be.

The bout starts off OK really, with everyone rumbling and wasting no time putting the various weapons provided (kendo sticks and, weirdly, coffins) to use. Cactus effort is especially spirited; bumping, moving around fast and taking weapon shots with gusto, and Sting is so over the crowd are fairly into at first. Things take a turn for the worst though the Chair of Torture is lowered into the ring inside a small cage of its own – unfortunately it takes up so much space, that basically all the action is forced outside the ring. From here things descend into a series of wrestlers stumbling about hitting each other with sticks and blading (Cactus, Abdullah and Sting all wear crimson masks by the end), which is OK for a few minutes but is deathly dull after 10. There is no room for the wrestlers to bump, so it ends up as a stale kick-punch fest, hampered further by the frequent long-shots and dizziness-inducing refer-eye camera.

Things come to an end that is somehow more stupid and suspension-of-disbelief killing that the rest of it put together; Abby gets Rick Steiner in the chair and Cactus is ready to flip the switch, when Steiner reverses and puts Abby there instead. However it takes Steiner and age to strap Abdullah in properly and Cactus watches the whole thing, yet still drops the switch and frazzles the Butcher. Abby goes up in midst of OTT fireworks and sparks and feigns death (I guess, as death seems the only outcome of being in an electric chair). Jim Ross says on commentary that Jack through the switch thinking Steiner was still in the chair, despite the fact it was clear to everyone that he couldn’t possibly have mistaken them from that close.

The upside of this, at least, was that the god-awful display was over. It’s no wonder people criticise Dusty Rhodes runs a booker when he came up with diabolical ideas like this. Everyone involved did at least try to make something, but their efforts were in vain; nothing could have made this concept work. The worst oversized cage match ever? Quite possibly.

Random WWE Raw – July 9th 2001: The Alliance is formed

Jamie Lithgow

Tonight I found myself randomly looking through one of the boxes of old wrestling videos that I haven’t quite gotten round to converting into digital format yet. In amongst quite a few Vengeance and Bad Blood events I found my old Raw and Smackdown tapes. You see when I was a youngster we only had Sky Digital so if I wanted to enjoy something at a later date I had to record things onto a video cassette. Me being a little sad I had videos specifically for Raw and Smackdown should my hectic social life prevent me from seeing it when it aired on Sky. I was going to write about Smackdown, because I wouldn’t have had to rewind that tape, however for some reason it has no wrestling on it, just Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. So I bit the bullet and rewound my Raw tape to find the entire July 9th 2001 episode of Raw is War.

To give you some background WCW has “invaded” WWE (at this point still WWF) and we are building up to the Invasion PPV. I could go on and on about the WCW invasion angle but I shall resist as much as possible. It’s just sad that most of WCW’s main players joined WWE the following year once their contract situations were sorted out. If they would have just waited they could have done some justice to this dream of an angle, plus the likes of Triple H, Rock and Benoit would have been back in contention for team WWE.

Anyway, back to Raw and how things have changed. For starters the show is actually called Raw is War and the theme is the ‘Thorn in Your Eye’ song, which I still love. The set is much smaller too, these days they are ridiculously large. Along with many other things WWE really nailed their presentation around this time.

The first part of the show centres around something that I had erased from my memory; Undertaker’s feud with DDP. Yeah, DDP being repackaged as The Undertaker’s wife’s stalker, it was as bad as it sounds. Here DDP and Shane put the beat down on The Dead Man before Page hits the Diamond Cutter on Sara, who subsequently gets taken to hospital. The scary thing is that this wasn’t a particularly special opening to the show by the standards of the time, but it was far more exciting than anything I’ve seen on Raw recently. Like many people I didn’t mind the fact that DDP got to square off with Taker, but the way he was repackaged was awful. It may not have killed his WWE career but it certainly damaged it beyond repair.

Up next there was a tag title match between The Dudley Boys and The APA. This was when the golden age of tag team wrestling in WWE was just coming to an end, bloody brilliant while it lasted though. Spike came down and smacked Bubba with a crutch to allow Faarooq and Bradshaw to become new tag team champions.

The first of many backstage segments involving Austin, Vince and Kurt Angle is shown. These three are hilarious together, not just funny for wrestling but genuinely funny in a general sense. The vibe we are supposed to get is that Vince is the father while Austin and Angle are the two sons, Austin being the elder. There’s also a hint of Uncle Phil about Vince and Will Smith about Austin because Angle acts exactly like Carlton Banks! There are several of these segments throughout the show, all of them brilliant. I love watching shows where it looks like the actors or participants are actually enjoying themselves, and here you can tell that as soon as the camera is off they are going to burst out laughing. It’s great to watch.

There’s a few throw away matches and segments next that I’ll cover quickly. Lord Tensai, sorry, Albert defeats Rhyno with the aid of X-Pac to retain the Intercontinental Title. Egged on by Austin, Angle challenges Booker T to a match later that night; Booker accepts and makes fun of Angle’s cowboy hat. Kane bursts into Commissioner Regal’s office and says that he’ll take Undertaker’s place in his handicap match later (Taker had already left to accompany Sara to the hospital). Big Show defeated Jeff Hardy, but Jeff didn’t really lose because he got off with Trish Stratus after the match, good lad! Chris Jericho joined Team WWE for the Inaugural Brawl at Invasion and Angle tells Austin and Vince that he doesn’t need their help against Booker.

Kurt should maybe have left the door open for a little bit of help because he got beat. Kurt Angle vs. Booker T was a high calibre match even by this point so it was obvious we weren’t going to get a full on encounter on Raw. There was plenty nonsense with the WWE and WCW referees and Shane McMahon also got involved.

Next Kane enters what he thinks will be a handicap match against Mike Awesome and Lance Storm but Chris Jericho, eager to prove his worth to Team WWE, comes down and offers to tag with the big man. They have a run of the mill tag match until the real story unfolds. From out of the crowd RVD and Tommy Dreamer, wearing ECW t-shirts, run in to make their WWE debuts. They put a beat down on Jericho and Kane while Awesome and Storm escape such treatment. The WWE locker room then hits the ring. Taz, The Dudley Boys, Justin Credible, Rhyno and Raven position themselves between the fallen Kane and Jericho and the ECW and WCW boys. Then in a superbly timed spot the apparent WWE guys slowly turn to face Kane and Jericho. The penny drops for the crowd, ECW is back! The ECW boys start a 10 on 2 beat down, although in a moment that totally typified the whole Invasion/Alliance angle Kane floors Bubba Dudley and two other ECW bodies before he starts to sell the ass kicking he’s receiving. Paul Heyman then abandons his post at commentary to join his troops in the ring and cut a killer promo proclaiming that “this invasion just got taken to the extreme!”

What an awesome segment this was, one of my all time favourite Raw moments. The way the guys slowly turned to face Kane and Jericho allowed the crowd time to figure out what was happening for themselves while it was happening. It was like the pieces of a jigsaw falling into place, it reminded me of films like Se7en and The Usual Suspects where an entire story falls into place in one epic moment.

From here everyone has to collect themselves because the show isn’t over. X-Pac heads out to defend his Light Heavyweight title against Scotty 2 Hotty. X-Pac wins but you would never have noticed because JR spent the entire match recapping what had happened on the show up until that point. Backstage Shane and Vince both agree to each put up 5 guys to make a 10 man WWE/WCW team to take out ECW in a 20 man tag match.

You know straight away that WWE are in for a pasting because they sent Billy Gunn and Hardcore Holly out to defend their honour. As expected WCW and WWE can’t get along so ECW give the WWE boys a spanking while WCW watch from ringside. ECW clear the ring and invite the WCW lads in to get a beating. They accept this invitation but instead of a mass brawl there’s lots of high fives, hugging and general bromance. ECW and WCW are together, shock, horror! If you know the history of ECW then you will know that this makes no sense, however Shane is about to make sense of things for us. Vince is at the top of the ramp looking quite upset about things when Shane informs him that WCW and ECW have merged and that the new owner of ECW is Stephanie, who then breezes past Vin-man on her way to the ring to cap off an epic Raw broadcast.

What a show this was, from start to finish this was great TV. It felt much faster paced than Raw is these days and there were certainly less internal WWE commercials and promotions. Every story line represented on the show took a big step forward. DDP put his hands on Sara meaning Undertaker will shortly put his hands on DDP. Jeff Hardy got lucky with Trish, Kurt Angle and Booker T lined up a future title match while the invasion angle exploded. Compare this to Raw this week, what storylines took big steps forward? Punk and Jericho still dislike each other, not much of step forward in terms of new information. Orton and Kane still dislike each other, again not much of a step forward. Lesnar and Cena are also rather upset with each other, although Lesnar now gets to use Vince’s private jet. I would bet that next week Raw might be fairly similar to what we saw this week, not just because of WWE’s slow pace but because it’s always the same cast of characters. In 2001 guys got the night off every now and then, it prevented over exposure and allowed more people air time. Even though top stars like The Rock, Chris Benoit and Triple H were long term absentees at the time it appeared as though WWE’s premier tag team Edge & Christian were still permitted a wee night off.

WWE has slowed the pace of its programming so much that I no longer feel compelled to watch every episode of Raw. Back in 2001 if I had missed a months worth of WWE television I would have been well out of the loop, I would have missed a whole load of twists and turns. These days I feel like if I stop watching for an extended period of time I should still be able to pick it up and not have missed too much at all. I would love for someone within WWE to look back at their old footage and do a compare and contrast because the differences run deeper than a new PG rating.

Extreme Rules 2012 – my predictions

Craig Wilson

So this Sunday WWE will present the Extreme Rules PPV. I have to level with you, I’ve been quite apathetic about the WWE programming since the massive missed opportunity that was Wrestlemania 28.

At that event, I thought Orton v Kane was pointless, the Sheamus win over Daniel Bryan was tainted due to taking the belt in 18 seconds and having the Big Show win the Intercontinental title would see Cody move up to the next level. You can imagine my delight then, that the above three matches above are being replayed at Extreme Rules. Ace…

So far, the card reads:

Extreme Rules Match: Brock Lesnar v John Cena
World Title Best 2 of 3 Falls Match: Sheamus © v Daniel Bryan
WWE Title Chicago Street Fight Match: CM Punk © v Chris Jericho
Falls Count Anywhere Match: Kane v Randy Orton
Intercontinental Title Match: Big Show© vs. Cody Rhodes

Pre-Game Show
US Title Match: Santino Marella© v The Miz

We’ll start from the bottom. Ahead of Wrestlemania 28, the YouTube live show featured the tag team title match but this event will have the US Champion Santino defend his title against The Miz. It’s been done before, certainly on this blog, but let’s take a second to compare where The Miz is now to where he was one year ago. At Extreme Rules 2011, the main event featured John Cena versus John Morrison and, you guessed it, The Miz, who was champion going into the event, for the WWE Championship. From main event to, essentially, the dark match in a year. Wow. I expect Santino will win here but if The Miz takes the title then he really does have a long way to go until he can hope to be back in the main event picture. My prediciton: Santino wins and retains the title. He’s over with the crowd so no real reason to take the belt from him.

Next up we have the first rematch from Wrestlemania, the Big Show v Cody for the Intercontinental title. The roles have reversed on this one. Going into ‘mania, Cody was mocking Show week in, week out about his Wrestlemania record. Since winning the title, The Big Show has cost Cody match after match by distracting him. It’s difficult to know where they are going with this. To have Cody win the title back seems pointless but do they carry this feud on? Is there any distance/point in it? My prediction: Big Show retains the title but not via a pin, more than likely a DQ or a count-out prolonging this feud.

Since Wrestlemania, the feud between Jericho and Punk has really heated up and, again, I’m eagerly anticipating this match. I thought that Punk would lose the belt at ‘mania but that didn’t happen and this time around I actually see him retaining the belt. However, not being the world’s best gambler by any stretch of the imagination that probably means Jericho will leave with the belt… The Chicago street fight match could potentially be a great, and brutal, blow-off to this feud. My prediction: Punk win.

Without question the biggest disappointment of a disappointing Wrestlemania was the Sheamus v Daniel Bryan match and I suppose I can take solace from the fact it’s unlikely that a two out of three falls match will be over in 18 seconds! I think this is likely to be the best match of the night. I like both superstars and despite their styles being very different, I think they’ll work together well particularly in this setting. Not sure how it will go though and I wonder how much of an impact the crowds reaction to Bryan since ‘mania will play on the decision here. My prediction: Sheamus win.

Orton v Kane. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaagggggggggggggggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Why won’t this feud just go away. Nobody cares about Kane and, certainly based on his performance at Wrestlemania, Orton doesn’t give a hoot about this feud. It’s going nowhere and whatever the result I hope that it’s the blow-off for this one. My prediction: Orton wins a snorefest.

As a fan of neither Brock or Cena I can’t say I’m as excited as most at the prospect of this main event. I also can’t see past a Brock Lesnar victory. The WWE need him as a monster heel and to have him lose in his PPV return would remove all the wind from his sails. My prediction: Lesnar win.

So, there we have it. A series of predictions I have very little confidence in! I suspect, despite my apathy, the show won’t be as bad as it sounds nor will it be as bad as Wrestlemania. Few more days before the event and am sure we’ll see a few more matches added to the card.

The Attitude Era: Best of the Worst

James Giles

From 1998 to 2001 the WWE, then WWF, went through the most commercially and creatively successful period in its history. The ‘Attitude’ era, as it was dubbed in WWF marketing, actually started in earnest about mid-way through 1997, with three pivotal moments; the rise of Steve Austin, the formation of D-Generation X and the creation of the Mr. McMahon character. These three things represent the key ways in which WWF had changed – Stone Cold tore up the rule book on baby-faces, with his swearing, finger gesturing, reckless and irresponsible behaviour and total lack of respect for authority; D-X pushed the envelope in terms of taste with their frat-boy humour, and kick started a run of controversial characters and stories; Vince McMahon, portraying a version of himself apparently not too far from reality, gave us the most memorable villain of the time, and made the on-screen authority figure a seemingly eternal staple of wrestling ever since.

These three only started the revolution though, and it was with the help many others such as The Rock, Mick Foley, Y2J, Kurt Angle and more who fleshed out the period with classic feuds, matches, angles and promos that captivated the audience in a way not seen before or since. For a while, it seemed that like literally anything WWF did went over huge with the fans, with the company’s popularity just rising and rising. And whilst much of what was produced during this time was brilliantly watchable, some of the stuff, in retrospect, was pretty rubbish.

The purpose of this on-going occasional article is to look back and celebrate some of that rubbish – because during the Attitude Era, even when WWF was being nonsensical or absurd, tack-less or even out-and-out offensive, it was somehow always eminently watchable and (mostly) enjoyable, if sometimes for the wrong reasons. Every now on then, I’ll take a gander at some element of this amazing era that didn’t quite live up to it’s expectation, or simply never could have done, but was entertaining or memorable nonetheless.

The Undertaker Vs Kane Feud (1998 onwards)

I’ve stated on many occasions that The Undertaker is my favourite pro-wrestler of all time, but the man has undeniably been involved in some utterly, stinkingly awful feuds over the years. A fair proportion of these happened pre-1998, when the Deadman was still doing the no-sell routine with freak-show acts like Kamala and Giant Gonzalez (possibly the worst pro-wrestler ever). From 1996, and the debut of Mankind, ‘Taker’s quality of opponents approved greatly; he went on to have impressive feuds with Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart during the Attitude years. His long battle with his story-line brother Kane though was an exception though; it was so absurd and out there, it made suspension of disbelief impossible.

It all started Summer ’97 when Undertaker was reigning as WWF Champion, following his forgettable victory over Psycho Sid at Wrestlemania 13. Former manager Paul Bearer was trying to blackmail ‘Taker into taking him back by threatening to reveal the Deadman’s biggest secret – when ‘Taker failed to acquiesce, Bearer decreed that Undi’ murdered his parents by burning down their funeral home, and knew this because ‘Takers brother Kane had told him. When Undertaker said this was impossible as Kane had perished, Bearer explained that he had survived, albeit horribly burned, and was out for revenge.

Outlandish as that seems, fans interest was high in the soon-to-debut Kane, and he finally made his first appearance in the closing moments of the legendary Hell in a Cell match between the Undertaker and HBK. Ripping the door off the Cell and then Tombstoning his brother, Kane’s actions allowed Michaels to take the win and made a big impression on the crowd. Taker initially refused to fight his flesh and blood, and Bearer promised Kane would destroy every superstar on the roster until Taker would face him. This was a clever tactic by WWF to help portray Kane as a monster heel and build interest in their eventual meeting at Wrestlemania; Kane played his part pretty well too, having tough, hard-hitting matches with Manking on RAW and against Vader at No Way Out.

Things started to take a turn for the stupid though at the Royal Rumble when Kane interfered in Takers casket match with HBK, which he cost The Phenom by battering him and chokeslamming him into said casket. This in itself wasn’t stupid, in fact it made sense storyline wise, as Kane cemented his position in being out for Takers blood. What was ridiculous was the post match angle, in which Kane wheeled the coffin (with Undi’ supposedly still inside) onto the entrance ramp and proceeded to set it on fire. How on earth this was meant to garner interest on their forthcoming bout I’ll never know – surely if Taker had just been barbequed alive, then there wasn’t going to be a match?

As it turned out though, Undertaker was still alive (who’d a thought it?) and returned on RAW a few weeks before ‘Mania. The angle which he returned in was equally as barmy mind you; in segments which would be thoroughly ridiculed by any-one who saw them, Undi’ and Kane went toe-to-toe to prove who had the more powerful ‘supernatural powers’. They did this by shooting bolts of lightning at various things, including the announce table, lighting ring and in one (unintentionally) hilarious moment, a member of the ring crew, who strangely burst into flame when struck. Mad as that sounds, it really is worth stopping for just a moment to think about it – in 1998, WWE was actually trying to sell to the audience that Kane and Undertaker could both magically shoot bolts of lightning. Seriously.

Anyway, all this nonsense led to a match a Wrestlemania XIV, which in defence of both guys, was fairly decent and well received by the crowd. However, the feud nor the craziness ended there. WWE decided to extend the rivalry to another match at the next months Unforgiven: In Your House PPV, and in doing booked somehow even more ludicrous segments, which for the first time in this series, ventured into the realms of bad taste. The first of these involved Kane and Paul Bearer visiting the graveyard where Kane and Undi’ parents were purported to be buried. Once there, Kane found their gravestones and proceeded to smash them up with a sledgehammer and set them on fire. And although many would consider graveyard vandalism dodgy ground, WWE in their infinite wisdom, went one further – the next week it was revealed that Kane had stolen their parent’s coffins from their crypt, to the (understandable) outrage of the Undertaker. To goad Undi’ more, Kane then set one of them on fire, and when Taker tried to stop him, Kane choke-slammed him through the other. If you have never seen this, or are having trouble imagining it, then take a look here:

With setting things on fire now being the general theme of this bat-shit crazy feud, WWE came up with idea of them settling the score in an Inferno Match. If, after having read the above, you cant work out what this might entail, or can but don’t want to believe what you’ve imagined, then let me clarify – the ring would be surrounded by flame, and the winner would be the first to, you guessed it, set the other man on fire. *Sighs*

To this day, I can’t believe WWE went with this gimmick; they, and fans, knew from the off that WWE couldn’t deliver what was being advertised, for obvious health and safety (and sanity) reasons. When the match took place, it of course turned out to be an unimpressive anti-climax – although the flames made for a memorable visual, both men moved extremely tentatively and whole thing was largely devoid of drama. It eventually ended when Kane’s forearm caught alight and he ran off screaming (I’m not being facetious here, he really was screaming).

Although their initial rivalry ended afterwards, Kane and Undertaker have never been that far removed from each other in the story-lines; they have frequently teamed up or fallen out, but rarely have the angles and promos been so out there, and sadly their bouts never got any better. For all I’ve said, I do genuinely love this rivalry, mostly because of the sheer conviction both men put into their performances in spite of the barmy script, but also because it helped Kane become one of few (maybe only?) made-for-Undertaker characters that ever got over, which is an impressive enough feat in itself.

Stone Cold v The Rock from Backlash 1999

James Giles & Craig Wilson

Background: The Rock “sold out” and joined Mr. McMahon’s Corporation at Survivor Series 1998, becoming the “Corporate Champion”. At the same time Austin was trying to get a shot at the WWF Championship, in order to do this he would have to win the Royal Rumble. However with assistance from his Corporation and The Rock, Vince McMahon managed to win the Royal Rumble, entitling him to a shot at the WWF Championship at Wrestlemania. McMahon put his shot at the gold up for grabs in a cage match with Steve Austin at the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre In Your House PPV. The Big Show made his WWF debut that night, attacking Austin, but in the process throwing him out of the cage allowing Austin to win, and giving him the opportunity to go to Wrestlemania where he beat The Rock for the title.

James Giles: I’ve covered The Rock and Stone Cold’s mammoth feud and their trilogy of Wrestlemania matches elsewhere in this blog, so the prospect of watching another of their bouts wasn’t hugely appealing at first, as I was suffering a little from over-kill. However, I ended up being quite glad Jamie suggested their Backlash 1999 clash as it a real corker. A marked improvement in many ways over their Wrestlemania 15 encounter, in my mind it ties joint second with the one from Wrestlemania XIX. It’s a shame it doesn’t seem to receive more plaudits, as I would recommend to anyone who was a fan of either man’s work.

The bout gets off to an exciting start, with Austin sprinting down to the ring and them both going at it hammer and tongs from the bell. The rivalry, which to be honest hadn’t quite built up enough momentum before WM 15, really got going between then and Backlash; their verbal duels were very entertaining and engaged the crowd superbly, with special mention going to the promo in which The Rock holds a funeral for Austin and his title reign. From the kick off, the audience is seriously hot, going wild for their all-over-the-building brawling. I’ve never been much of a fan of this style, especially brawling in the crowd (a low point of seemingly every main event of 1999), but these two managed to hold my attention all the way.

One thing that stands out here, more so in comparison to their WM 15 match, is how much more confident The Rock seems; of particular note are two moments – one when the Rock takes a Spanish announcers head-set to trash talk Austin and another when he snatches a camera to give a first hand view of his handiwork. It was these kind of big-headed but hilarious moments which got The Rock over so much WWE had to turn him face (which they did the next night on RAW is WAR). The chemistry between the two is also better, with the flow and pace of the battle improving for it.

As per usual of the Vince Russo penned WWE, there is all kinds of screwiness towards the end; Shane O Mac turns out to be a not-so-impartial ref and takes a bump, as do a few other refs, but in fairness, the crowd goes mad for it all. In the end it is Vince (on the subtle turn) who boshes Shane and brings out a new ref – Stone Cold hits the Stunner and a belt shot for a huge pop and feel good ending.

All around, this is an excellent main event, and a total gem from 1999, a year that in my memory didn’t offer too many. Hopefully we will unearth some more of them in this blog in the future.

Craig Wilson: As with a number of PPVs from this time period, the undercard was passable, at best, but the main event really stole the show. A one match event, you could say. All in all, 1999 was a fairly low point for WWE product. We had Vince Russo booking a lot of it which blurred the lines between good guys and bad guys to a degree never seen before. Yeah, The Rock and Austin were hugely over but a lot of events were built up around the main event with everything else being quite poor in comparison. Hell, the Intercontinental Championship match on this same card was between then Champion the Godfather and the challenger Goldust… Great.

Anyway, this is of course the rematch from their Wrestlemania main event. Whatever criticisms you or I may have of the WWE product and booking from 1999, they did get some things fantastically. This feud and the Mr. McMahon stuff from 1998 onwards. The one begins with a few minutes of wrestling then the brawling begins. The Rock beats Austin down throwing Austin into the guardrail and then Rock throws Austin into a chain link fence, which is part of the stage set up. Both men back up and Austin hit’s a harsh looking suplex on Rock on the concrete floor before throwing him into the entrance staging.

The ending here is a bit screwy though. Austin goes for the stunner only to be meant by Rock pushing him into Shane, Rock the hit’s the Rock bottom for a 2 count. Shane goes to the outside area, grabs the WWF Championship and heads in the ring to hit Austin with the belt, however Austin moves and Shane hits Rock, Austin goes for the cover, only to be met with Shane not wanting to count.

Enter Vince McMahon with super referee Earl Hebner, Vince lays his son Shane out with a punch to the face, while Austin delivers a Stunner and a title belt to the face of Rock for the victory. McMahon then throws Austin his smoking skull belt to end a great match/brawl between the two biggest guys in wrestling at the time.

This one is much better than their match from Wrestlemania XV. One of the most interesting aspects of doing the ‘matches from history’ features is seeing how the WWE product has evolved. Back in 1999, at the height of the Attitude Era, brawls were a common accurance, heck they were practically the norm which is quite different from the PG product we get now.

As I alluded to earlier, the booking could be screwy at times. Vince Russo certainly kept you on your toes at times watching the WWE but without the benefit of seeing the Raws from the time, a casual watcher of this PPV would be lost for the majority of the time as to what was going on with storylines. At the time the Attitude Era was great and heralded a new dawn for wrestling, and particularly for the WWE. That said, the matches and events, with the odd exception, don’t really stand the test of time too well. This match, though, does and that’s a testament to the storytelling abilities of both superstars in the ring. Yeah it’s a messy looking brawl for the majority of the match, but both Austin and the Rock were absolutely huge back in 1999 and the crowd was hot for this one.

Matches from history: HHH Vs Chris Jericho from Fully Loaded 2000

Craig Wilson & Jamie Lithgow

This one comes from Jericho constantly, and very amusingly, insulting Stephanie McMahon. Along the way he also kissed her. As well as this, Jericho also cost Triple H the chance to be number one contender. Jericho previously won the WWF Title from Triple H, only to have the decision reversed later on that same night, which was the basis for this feud. Jericho also cost Triple H a match with the Brooklyn Brawler. Triple H would respond when D-X would set up Jericho and leave him bloody after a sledgehammer shot. So here we are…

Craig Wilson: This feud was absolutely brilliant and that, as well as this bout, made Jericho make that step up to main event performer. Jericho’s ribs here are heavily bandaged and they are the target for sustained abuse from HHH including multiple shoulder blocks in the corner and removing the bandages and chocking Jericho with them.

Both superstars here are on the top of their game in what was a great year of WWE television. We even see HHH tie Jericho up in body scissors, which as well as great psychology, isn’t a move we see often from him.

As with matches of this nature, it’s quite brutal at times. An attempted pedigree on a chair is blocked and then Jericho makes HHH bleed with chairshots to the head followed by a bulldog, again onto the chair.

HHH makes the comeback when he sends Jericho ribs first into the steel steps and tries to follow this up with a pedigree on the steps but Jericho back drops him to the floor. Both men have TV monitors smash each other with them resulting in both being down for a nine count. Another pedigree attempt is blocked by Jericho who gets the Walls of Jericho who taps, not that that counts, and then makes it to the ropes, not that that counts. It takes interference from Stephanie McMahon to break up the Walls of Jericho with Jericho then slapping the move on her.

As is always the case, HHH gets the sledgehammer out – that didn’t sound right… – but Jericho dodges it. HHH gets catapulted into the ring post and he hits Jericho in the ribs with the sledgehammer. Jericho on the timekeeper’s table but he gets low blowed and suplexed through the announce table and that’s all she wrote. Triple H gets up at pretty much the latest moment that he could here to take the win.

I loved the theme of the injured ribs here. This is the sort of bout, and feud, that elevates a mid-carder to a main eventer, and it really got Jericho over. A great example of how to book a midcarder against a main event bully. This is just a brutal match and Triple H made Jericho look like a real star who only just lost and arguably only lost because of the injured ribs. There have been a number of last man standing matches in the WWE and they all tend to be very brutal and at times difficult to watch. This one, though, is easily, in my opinion, the best of the lot

HHH really was one of one of the top guys in 2000: from his selling of attacks, the blood and a great ending to the match was all great. You also can’t take anything away from Jericho here. His timing was spot on and his comebacks really kept the viewer on the edge of their seat. This match had it all and behind Foley’s street fight and the Ironman match featuring the rock, this is the WWE match of the year for 2000.

Jamie Lithgow: I’ve just finished watching this match in order to refresh my memory and I thoroughly enjoyed it. This is yet another quality match from, in my opinion, the best year in WWE history. What a year 2000 was, as WWE fans we really were spoiled.

Anyway, onwards to Triple H vs. Chris Jericho in the type of match that you are unlikely to see in WWE these days. No, not because of the weapons shots and blood, I’m talking about a believable babyface underdog against a monster heel. When was the last time you saw a match like this? Hard to think of any when the babyfaces worth caring about never lose and have nicknames like ‘The Best in the World’ and ‘Apex Predator’. Fans love an underdog, not half as much as they love to hate Triple H though!

I hated Triple H back in the day. He wasn’t cool like The Rock and thus turned babyface, he was just a complete prick! He wasn’t just a prick either, he was the man at this time and that’s what made him such a good heel. He was the best, he knew it, his opponents knew it and we knew it. He was a bit like Man Utd; no matter how much you hate him you have to accept that he is the best, but he’ll still cheat to win! You could have paired The Game with any babyface on the roster at this time and the crowd would have lapped it up, Taka Michinoku anyone? In the white hot summer of 2000 however he was paired more often than not with Chris Jericho.

This match is so good because of the characters involved and Jericho is just as big a part of this as Triple H. I loved Jericho back then, as did a lot of people. He was the very definition of an upper mid carder. At this point in his career Jericho was never there, but he was thereabouts. The fact that he did not have a WWE title reign to his name helped fans get behind him. At the time it felt like we were following him on his quest to finally become WWE Champion.

That’s the men involved, now let’s look at the match. You know the phrase “it’s not what you said; it’s the way you said it”? It kind of applies to this match. This is a pretty standard Triple H match, there’s a few chair shots, the announce table gets roughed up, the sledgehammer makes and appearance and Stephanie takes a bump. All stuff we’ve seen before, it’s the context of this match that makes it so entertaining. We want Y2J to win this match, we accept that Triple H is going to get the better of it but we as fans we want to see Jericho as the last man standing. That doesn’t happen though, Triple H takes the victory and in my opinion rightly so.

Triple H was a mega heel so was protected just as The Rock was as a babyface. He had to win more often than not to remain credible. However, to Triple H’s credit Jericho was not allowed to look like a mug who had gotten in over his head. If you were scoring this match on points it would be a tough call, Triple H was on top for longer but Jericho did more damage.

The match was constructed perfectly by both men. Triple H thought he was coasting to victory until Jericho mounted a comeback and gave him a pasting in the second half. It made more sense for Triple H to eke out a win; otherwise he would have looked like a prize idiot for allowing Y2J to win after giving him such a beating for much of the match. Jericho did not lose anything other than the match though, in fact he probably gained momentum. He may not have won but, with injured ribs remember, he took The Game to the limit in a Last Man Standing match and “busted him wide open” in the process, that’s a proper main event level performance.

By the incredibly high standards at the time this was merely above average. In a more general evaluation this is a really good match well worth watching.

Matches from history: Dean Malenko v Scotty 2 Hotty from Backlash 2000

James Giles & Craig Wilson

Jamie’s pick, and quite the random one, from Backlash in 2000. A great little lightweight match between the champion Dean Malenko and Scotty 2 Hotty.

James Giles: The year 2000 was a superb year on PPV for WWE, quite possibly their best ever; virtually every show featured quality action from top to bottom, with many of the lower card bouts being almost as memorable as the huge main events. Backlash 2000 is one of the best examples; easily outstripping the previous months over-stuffed Wrestlemania 16, with many calling it the show WM should have been. On the undercard, Dean Malenko was given a rare opportunity to showcase his under-rated abilities, facing off against perennial tag-team member Scotty Too-Hotty.

The match gets off to a good start with some smooth back-and-forth exchanges, before Malenko takes over and begins logically working the leg in preparation for the Texas Cloverleaf. Scotty makes a few brief comebacks to cheers but is cut off quickly each time. Scotty eventually sets up Malenko for the Worm, which is up there with the Cobra amongst the worst signature moves ever, yet gets crowd totally behind it; the make more noise hear than any other portion of the bout. I’d totally forgotten how over Rikishi and Too Cool were in 2000, and this is testament to that fact. Once this move has awakened the fans, the get into the last few near falls; Malenko finally takes the win by reversing a Superplex into DDT off the top rope, in an impressive spot.

What is most surprising about this match, aside from how over Scotty was, is how good a wrestler Scotty was too. Much like Malenko during his WWE run, Scotty didn’t really get the chance to shine in singles matches, but when he did he made the most out it. It would be unfair to say Malenko is carrying here, Scotty genuinely does his share as well. Apparently WWE big-wigs never rated Malenko as a worker, and their aversion to Cruisers/Light-weights meant neither got significant exposure. As I’ve said before, I think WWE totally missed a trick never getting behind the Cruisers and the audience reaction to this match show that.

Whilst it is by no means a classic, Scotty and Malenko’s match did provide a tremendous piece of card filler and kept the crowd engaged. In terms of action and excitement, it was only surpassed by the titanic main event, which I imagine we will cover in this series sooner or later. The most enjoyable thing about it though was being reminded of a time when almost every performer on the show was over, and the action was solid from start to finish.

Craig Wilson: Ahead of this mach, Too Cool had feuded with the Radicalz and Malenko and Scotty 2 Hotty trading the Lightweight championship which led to this match. And what a great match it was. It’s a great mix of technique, power wrestling, a good guy comeback and quick wrestling which makes this a fantastic match to watch.

Scotty plays the role of a face-in-peril expertly, although he’s no Ricky Morton, while Dean Malenko works over the leg, which is great ring psychology against a high-flier like Scotty. Scotty’s babyface comebacks here are fantastic, but in the end, the technical master Dean Malenko was able to counter a superplex into, as James noted, a spectacular looking tope rope DDT for the three count and to retain his title.

The finish here really is great. Both guys hit the floor and Scotty mounts the comeback. Back in the ring, Scotty goes up top but gets superplexed off. Both guys stay down for a bit and when Scotty is up he goes for a backslide and gets a two. Cloverleaf is countered with a cradle for another two. A powerbomb attempt is countered with a bulldog and the Worm follows. Dean kicks out, which is of no surprise considering how bad that move is as a finisher, and gets the rope-assisted two-count, but the ref sees it and breaks it up. A reversal sequence leads to a Ligerbomb from Malenko for another two count. Blind charges misses, but Dean hits Scotty with a powerslam for another two. Scotty dumps Dean, who recovers and goes upstairs, but Scott tries a superplex, which is reversed, in an awesome fashion, in mid-air with a DDT for 3.

The ring chemistry here is superb to watch and that jus adds to everything else and we get a great lightheavyweight match as a result. I have to disagree with James here, as lightweight matches in the WWF/E go, this is right up there as one of the best. This is probably Scott Taylor’s best ever match and Malenko’s best from his WWE run. It goes to show when the WWE put their minds to it they can have some great lightweight matches. It is just a shame they don’t seem to ever want to go down that road. This is great though. Well worth checking out if you haven’t already. One of the best matches from a solid enough PPV from a great year of WWE action.

Matches from history: Mike Awesome v Masato Tanaka at ECW Heatwave 1998


Craig Wilson & Jamie Lithgow

James Giles chose this one, a match between Mike Awesome and Masato Tanaka from ECW’s Heatwave PPV in 1998.

Craig Wilson: Quite pleased that James opted an ECW match. It was always a promotion that fascinated me – much like most wrestling fans that lost interest in the WWE or WCW. That said, it wasn’t easy to see much of it with Bravo showing only highlight shows on Sky TV and the only other option being videos. I had a few ECW videos but never had, or even borrowed, Heatwave 98 so this match is new.

Tanaka v Awesome was quite a lengthy feud. Spanning the best part of a decade and taking in two continents – starting in Japan and ending when Awesome left ECW for his ill-fated run in the WCW.

This bout was Tanaka’s second PPV appearance for ECW – his first coming in a victory over Doug Furnas at the Living Dangerously event. This match also marked the last match of Awesome’s second stint in the promotion before returning to Japan only to return to America again to win the ECW title over Taz and Tanaka at Anarchy Rulz in 1999.

Anyway, this match came about after Awesome, for want of a better phrase, awesomely powerbombed his arch nemesis over the top rope and through a table. As the men are introduced, the commentators point out that Tanaka can take a lot of punishment. That leads me to suspect this might be a lengthy match with a number of bumps. In the end I’m proved right when Tanaka sends Awesome through a table and then finished Awesome off with a tornado DDT onto two chairs.

Can’t say I really got into this match. Don’t get me wrong, for a big guy Awesome is agile enough but I’ve always thought he came across as quite lumbering and he was never a superstar that I got into. I read someone on line refer to him as a bigger Brutus Beefcake and whilst am not sure I’d agree with the assessment, it is amusing enough.

As you would expect, Awesome utilises a basic big man offence of slams, suplexes and clotheslines here. This one is pretty much a squash until Tanaka hits Awesome with a chair shot to the head. While Awesome is able to hit a nice enough looking tope, it comes across as lumbering, despite his agility, due to facing a much more agile superstar in Tanaka.

Tanaka may have absorbed a power of abuse here, including a series of very brutal looking chair shots but there is a level of expectation here that he’ll make up for Awesome previously putting him through a table and he duly does with the pretty sick looking second rope DDT onto a pair of steel chairs for the 3 count.

In this series I hope there are more ECW matches to review. I just hope that they are better than this plodding, and somewhat obvious, bout.

Jamie Lithgow: I must hold my hands up and confess to having never seen this match before nor do I know a great deal about Masato Tanaka’s career. I have however seen their wild brawl from the WWE produced One Night Stand in 2005, which obviously took inspiration from this bout.

The first thing that struck me when watching this match was why Mike Awesome hadn’t already signed a WWE or WCW contract by this point? He was 6’9” and 295lbs with wealth of experience and unbelievable athleticism. The guy had WWE superstar written all over him, which is sad because when he eventually did make it to the big two he didn’t come close to reaching the heights that he should have.

Anyway, back to the match and wow, what a start! To the untrained eye you could mistake these two guys for WWE performers, they look the part, but they certainly don’t wrestle like it. Within the first 2 minutes, Awesome performs a top rope back elbow, a slingshot shoulder block and an insane suicide dive to the exposed concrete floor. Not your typical punch, kick, rest hold you would see from a man this size in WWE at the time. After that flurry the fans are hooked, they know that this is the sleeper match on the card. What follows the opening flurry is, to be quite honest, standard ECW fair but done in ways you wouldn’t expect and by wrestlers you wouldn’t expect it from. I mean Tanaka nails Awesome with a chair on the entrance ramp, but he runs the full length of the ramp to deliver it. Awesome continues to fly around the ring and delivers a second suicide dive, fair enough, but the man is the same size as Kane!

If I’m being totally honest this is a fairly standard match, but with a few wee tweaks that we’re not used to seeing which turns it into a fantastic match. The brawling is hard hitting, probably due to both having worked in Japan most of their careers. Tanaka’s no-sell off a German Suplex is brilliant in terms of telling the story of not just the match but their whole feud, as Shane Douglas on commentary says “he refuses to be hurt”.

This truly is a brilliant brawl, Mike Awesome is a machine while Tanaka just won’t give up and both men play their parts to perfection. This is a great match made even better by the fact that prior to the opening bell half the crowd think it is just a card filler; boy do they get a surprise! You will struggle to find a more hard-hitting 12-minute brawl than this, cracking match.

As an aside, one other thing I noticed while watching this match is the risks that both were taking with their health. As I said Mike Awesome performs two suicide dives onto a concrete floor; there are no mats, just cold concrete. The chair shots that Tanaka takes are hard enough to bend the chair, and totally unprotected. I guess it’s just testament to how much each performer trusts the other, but it still made me cringe.

You can read all previous ‘Matches from History’ here.