What wrestling taught us this week

Craig Wilson

• The WWE’S booking is top notch this year. Bar a few poor bits, Elimination Chamber was very good.

• That said, when did we last see a Champ retain owing to A DQ for challenger after a low blow? Aftermath was amusing and keeps a decent feud going between Cesaro and The Miz.

• Does Michael Cole watch the action when calling it? Otherwise when Khali was making save after Henry beat down Cara, Cole would never have described Khali as ”marching” to the ring…

• Sticking with those two, I am terrified at prospect of Khali v Henry at ‘mania. That would be a horrible match. Surely they can do better than that…

• With the WWE unsure of The Undertaker’s status for Mania, it makes perfect sense to keep Punk in and around the Cena v Rock main event. Whilst most Punk fans will feel he deserves the match v The Undertaker, he would add a different dimension to the main event.

• In the midst of a push that will see you facing the World Heavyweight Champion at Wrestlemania, getting caught driving under the influence and in possession of marijuana is quite a silly thing to do. Will it end Swagger’s push? Only time will tell but it is tough not to draw parallels with RVD.

Jamie Lithgow

• Finally that tacky looking WWE ‘spinner’ title belt has been replaced! How much did it cost to develop? $50,000?! As happy as I am I couldn’t help but feel a little underwhelmed when The Rock unveiled it. Don’t get me wrong, I like it and it’s a massive improvement on it’s predecessor but it’s a little simplistic for my taste. It actually reminds me of the NXT title belts in it’s simplicity, and there’s nothing wrong with that for a developmental league, but this is the WWE title we’re talking about. Even the spinner belt incorporated the traditional eagle into the design but this version, as David Otunga quite rightly observed, looks like a giant Superbowl ring. Ah well, it’s not the route I would have gone but at least the spinner belt is history.

• WWE look to be going all the way with The Shield. For all the stick we give the booking and writing teams I must admit that they have been spot on with these guys so far. It’s been a similar story for Antonia Cesaro too, although I am wondering what Damien Sandow has done to anger them.
• WWE referees are made of glass. We’re used to seeing the odd ref bump but the second referee during the Punk/Rock match at Elimination Chamber must have rolled his ankle good and proper not to be able to crawl on the floor and count to three.

• Mark Henry is getting a full steam ahead push, oh joy.

• On the subject of the World’s Fattest Man, since when is a bodyslam considered a devastating finisher? The commentators do their job with this, and every other finisher for that matter. I mean Michael Cole makes the World’s Strongest Slam sound lethal, what a shame it looks crap. I just hate when finishers require no skill to execute. Any man strong enough (and this could be most men given the way in which the weight is spread across an array of muscles when performing a bodyslam) could safely perform the move on someone of Chris Jericho’s size and weight.

• The brief Wade Barrett/Sheamus segment on Raw was actually pretty good. Sheamus’ random interruption wasn’t out of place and having Barrett run out of time because of it was original and quite funny. Wrestlers don’t have to be feuding to interact with each other, random segments like this keep viewers on their toes.

• I like Randy Orton when he is at a loose end, he just hangs around and ends up being booked in random matches. If he played more of a tweaner role then it could really open up his character as a loner that he already comes across as.

• WWE fans require Michael Cole to show them how to do download the WWE app, patronising much?!

• Once again the show closing segment of Raw was a promo. The Shield should have headlined, Rock’s segment should have capped the second hour. Let’s face it, some people only watch Raw when The Rock is on and if he only ever appears at the end of the show then how will WWE persuade these people to watch more of the show when there is nothing left to watch?

• Jack Swagger is a silly boy!

Remember when The Ultimate Warrior returned to the WWF

Editor note: Please take the opportunity to check out our tribute piece to The Ultimate Warrior.

Craig Wilson

The Ultimate Warrior: One of the most intense superstars in the WWF's history

The Ultimate Warrior: One of the most intense superstars in the WWF’s history

Ah, The Ultimate Warrior. As someone in their late 20s that grew up watching the WWF towards the end of the 80s and start of the 90s The Ultimate Warrior was one of the stand out guys. Even now, looking back, it’s difficult to argue that he wasn’t a stand out character. Here you had a near 300 pound jakked up guy with crazy face paint and crazier promos squashing all comers in a meteoric rise to the top of the WWF.

Continue reading

Matches from History: The Dudley Boyz v The Hardy Boyz v Edge & Christian WWE Tag Team Title Match Wrestlemania 16

Jamie Lithgow

The road to Wrestlemania is in full swing and over the next few weeks I have no doubt that we shall be looking back on many Wrestlemania moments on this blog. Therefore I have decided to kick off my offerings with my favourite ever Wrestlemania match; the triangle ladder match from Wrestlemania 16.

I am fully aware that most people will question this and point me in the direction of many other matches, including the TLC match involving the same teams the following year at Wrestlemania 17. However, the fact that I write for a blog which concentrates on wrestling nostalgia goes a long way to answering that question. I am a sucker for the way things were, I like the original versions of things. Despite not being named as such this match can be considered the first TLC match. It combined the teams and elements from the ground breaking tag team ladder match at No Mercy ’99 and the brutal tag team tables match from the 2000 Royal Rumble. Another reason that I gravitate towards this match is because Wrestlemania 16 was the first ‘Mania that I watched live. I had gotten back into just after Wrestlemania 15, so I had been waiting almost the entire year to see what the fuss was about. Lastly, this was the match where my all-time favourite tag team won the titles for the first time. I’d say that’s plenty reasons why this remains my favourite Wrestlemania match, so let’s get on with it…

Coming into the match The Dudley Boyz are our Tag Team Champions and massively over heels to boot. Since their debut in late ’99 D-von and Buh Buh Ray (as he was known then) spent much of their time smashing their popular opponents through tables. The Hardys were the top babyface combo, a position which they would hold (on and off) for several years. Edge & Christian were a little harder to categorise however, having turned heel on the live episode of Sunday Night Heat which preceded the PPV. The odd thing was that not only did the fans react to them as babyfaces but the commentators made little or no mention of their foul mouthed outburst during The Hardys pre-taped interview on Heat. Very bizarre, but it would get sorted out the following night on Raw when the pair would unquestionably transform into arrogant jerks.

The set up for this match was a very simple one; WWE had three outstanding tag-teams with a history of stellar stunt matches against each other, thus the triangle ladder match for the Dudley’s Tag Titles was born. Let’s get to the action…

Before the entrances can even finish E&C, playing up to their new heel personas, get us started as they attack The Hardys before The Dudleys even enter the ring. The six men pair off and take it in turns to brawl and perform a few signature moves in the ring before sliding out and allowing another pair to come in. One thing I took from this sequence was a picture perfect dropkick by Christian; you honestly don’t see them like that these days. Speaking of Captain Charisma he is first to introduce a ladder as he makes an early bid for the gold. His attempt is thwarted almost instantly. I should mention there are loads of ladders of all shapes and sizes at hand. These days we take that for granted, but back then a ladder match meant just one ladder.

Now with a couple of ladders in the ring we are ready for the first ladder spot. Unfortunately The Hardys never actually named this tandem move so it is hard to explain. It was their turnbuckle spot with Jeff using Matt as a launch pad, only with a ladder in Buh Buh’s face for increased chances of pain. E&C try their luck with their own turnbuckle spot (which was also never given a name) only D-von counters by pushing the ladder into Christian’s face, ouch!

After some brawling and everyone getting hit with the ladder it is time for our first, but certainly not last, big spot of the match. With Buh Buh prone on a ladder Jeff (who else?!) ascends the top turnbuckle to perform a picture perfect 450 splash. What a shame that the future Bully Ray got out of the way just in time, resulting in some very sore shins for Jeff – this looked very sore indeed. To add insult to injury Buh Buh then performs a second rope, for lack of a better term, arse drop onto Jeff, who was sandwiched between two ladders. Next up we have the first spot were the man performing the move remains largely undamaged. Edge rides a ladder from the turnbuckle onto another ladder, which happens to be lying on Matt Hardy’s chest, another sore looking move for a Hardy to absorb.

With everyone apart from “old Buh Buh Dudley” down the big man decides to wear one of the ladders, there is method to his madness however. As his opponents gradually get up and try to attack him he just turns his body to smack them with the ladder. This was and still is a great spot and was perfectly timed to provide some comic relief amongst the brutal bumps. A semblance of order is restored to the match as the ring clears to allow only the men participating in the next spot to occupy it. It is at this point that JR comes out with a quote that has stayed with me for years and perfectly describes any stunt based match – “he who hesitates in this match could be lost forever.” I just think this is a great turn of phrase to describe the nature of such a match.

To our next big spot and Christian performs his trademark cross body, the difference this time is that he does it from a ladder in the ring to his opponents at ring side. This elects the biggest reaction yet with our first chants of “holy shit”. This was a simple to devise yet effective and highly dangerous spot, which was executed perfectly. This is quickly followed by another belter of a spot with Edge leaping from a turnbuckle to spear Jeff Hardy off a ladder in the middle of the ring. This would give birth to the iconic spot between the pair at the following years ‘Mania, but this was the original blueprint for that spot.

After Edge and Matt Hardy take some sore looking, albeit ladderless, bumps we reach yet another highlight. Buh Buh is back up to dish out more pain, this time to Christian. From almost the top of the ladder Buh Buh hits a modified 3D (basically an RKO) on Christian in another very impressive looking spot. The nature of the move means that Buh Buh is also down, and prone for some Hardy double teaming. The brothers hit him simultaneously with a leg drop and splash from atop a couple of ladders.

It’s now time for D-Von to take his first big bump by absorbing a tandem superplex by a recovered Christian and Edge, from the top of a ladder of course. After E&C and The Hardys throw each other off the ladders we come to a short pause in the action at which point the crowd roar their approval for what they are witnessing. This roar of approval is soon followed by a chant of “table, table, table.” This chant quickly dies when all six men start to climb up three ladders. Jeff and Christian’s ladder is pushed over by Buh Buh in one of the forgotten bumps of the match. Men of the match, Christian and Jeff, fall from a ladder in the ring to the ring side floor, with nothing at all breaking their fall, ouch! D-Von then falls off his ladder, as does Buh Buh who then collides with the remaining ladder to leave Edge and Matt straddling the tope rope. Again, everyone is down and again the noise in the arena gets louder.

The Dudleys are first to rise, and quickly sandwich a drunk looking Christian between two ladders before hitting Edge with 3D. The crowd noise increases yet more as the fans start to read Buh Buh’s expression, its table time! For the next couple of minutes the Dudleys, as the only men currently able to stand, set up a series tables throughout the ring side area. It’s one of those moments when you have to just go with it and not question why they are positioning tables with such precision in seemingly random locations around the ring. I remember specifically when they put the table on top of the two ladders in the ring. At the time I was thinking what everyone else, including JR and The King, was thinking – “what the hell are they going to do with that?!”

With everything in place it is table spot time. In the ring D-Von will attempt a big splash on Jeff who is lying on a table, while outside Buh Buh will stand on the Spanish announcer’s desk and try to powerbomb Matt through another table. Jeff manages to get out of the way with D-Von taking the hit but Matt doesn’t fight back enough and takes a sick looking powerbomb through a table.

With Edge, Christian, Matt and D-Von down it is now time for the spot of the match and for that matter the biggest and best spot I’ve ever seen on WWE TV. Buh Buh produces a gigantic ladder at least 20 feet tall from somewhere and sets it up in the aisle. Just under the ladder is one little table. The idea in Buh Buh’s head is obviously to throw Jeff off this massive ladder through the table, but that’s not what happens. Jeff counters Buh Buh and places him on the table, after which Jeff ascends this massive ladder. Hardy climbs to the very top, and I mean the very top of this ladder. From the highest point of a very wobbly ladder Jeff performs a perfect Swanton Bomb on Buh Buh and through the table. This is an amazing spot, the likes of which we will never see again. Obviously this gets a massive reaction, so much in fact that there is no discernible chanting, just a shit load of noise from a gobsmacked crowd.

Back in the ring Matt and Christian climb to the top of respective ladders and duel on the table connecting them. From this point on we can see what is going to unfold but can’t actually connect the dots due to the adrenaline rush of seeing Jeff risk his life seconds ago. Edge follows Matt and while he brawls with Christian Edge pushes him off the table and through another table below. Edge and Christian are now unopposed with their hands on the gold, which they grasp and lay claim to.

Your winners and new WWF Tag Team Champions – Edge and Christian.

What a match this was. Not only were the stunts amazing but the “regular” bumps were bad ass too. Everything was stiff, just look at how far a 220lb Matt Hardy knocks the ring steps when he collides with them prior to being powerbombed through a table. There were no half measures in this match at all, it was go hard or go home and these guys went as hard as they possibly could. Not only was it hard hitting but the story of the match made sense. Buh Buh was kicking everyone’s ass and it took the biggest Swanton Bomb ever to take him out. However by taking out Buh Buh, Jeff also took himself out of the match leaving Matt to go it alone. Alas Matt couldn’t quite manage it after Edge & Christian made their two on one advantage count.

I was prepared to say that this match might not have held up over time due to the TLC and Money and the Bank matches that have followed it, but I can’t say that. For me this is the original and best. If nothing else because this was the first and last time any of these insane looking stunts were performed. If you have never seen this match then check it out, this was when WWE’s tag division was on fire.

Fantasy booking Kofi Kingston

Jamie Lithgow

Dependable, popular and hard-working but could Kofi amount to more?

Kofi Kingston? A like-able mid-carder or someone that could accomplish more in the WWE?

Dependable, popular and hard-working but could Kofi amount to more? Jamie thinks so.

If you have read any of my previous posts you will have noticed that I am not too keen on WWE’s current crop of babyfaces. The likes of John Cena and Sheamus are certainly not my cup of tea, but to be fair I am the kind of person that appreciates a good villain far more than even the best hero. I watched the first Star Wars and became interested in Darth Vader rather than willing Luke Skywalker to defeat him. My favourite character from my favourite TV show is Mr Burns, the millionaire tyrant from Springfield. Also, it will not have escaped anybody’s attention, based on my previous posts, that CM Punk is my favourite WWE performer. However, this does not mean that I hate all good guys, they just have to work that little bit harder to get into my good books. One such performer that has entered my good books is CM Punk’s old tag team partner, Kofi Kingston.

Dependable, popular, hard-working, mid-carder – that pretty much sums up Kofi Kingston. After being drafted to Raw from ECW he has made the mid-card his home. He is occasionally inserted into multi person main event level matches, such as Elimination Chamber and Money in the Bank and has never been in danger of slipping down the card and out of contention for TV time. His list of accomplishments includes multiple Tag Team, Intercontinental and US title reigns. His ring work is hard to fault with his athletic style still impressing years after we were introduced to it. He is also a very popular character, well respected by older fans for the effort he puts in and the quality he produces while remaining a favourite for younger fans. His promos skills are also good, if rarely utilised. With little promotion and relatively limited weekly TV exposure Kofi is still one of WWE’s more popular and successful performers, so I wonder what a push would do for his career?

In late 2009 Kofi received a push to the upper regions of the WWE ladder, but it mysteriously fizzled out almost as soon as it started. His short feud with Randy Orton was very well received by fans, despite the booking leaving a little to be desired.

After an altercation with Orton and his Legacy team mates Kingston interfered during Orton’s WWE title match at Bragging Rights, a match which Orton lost. This kicked off some heated back and forth attacks, in which Kingston more than held his own. In fact Kingston cut what is probably still considered his best promo during this feud when he trashed Orton’s NASCAR car.

Kingston actually went on to win their first PPV encounter by leading his team to victory against Orton’s at the Survivor Series (Kofi was the sole survivor). However from this point on the feud followed a more conventional path. Like a lower league football team in the FA Cup, Kingston came flying out of the traps and got the better of the opening exchanges. However, like a Premier league team taking charge of a match, Orton came out in the second half with a new lease of life and scored several times to run out the convincing winner of the feud. This remains the one and only attempt WWE have made to elevate Kingston, but they appeared to just abandon the idea at the moment it started to take off.

There were and still are rumours of heat between Orton and Kingston which could explain the swift end to their feud, but wrestlers not liking each other is a pretty lame excuse to end what was turning into a good rivalry. Either way, if WWE were to ever consider Kofi for another push they should definitely look to Orton as the man he would face to reach the next level.

The reason I have started theorising about a Kingston push is due to a comment made by Chris Jericho on the Stone Cold Steve Austin box set. He stated that Austin’s character was so effective because “guys wanted to have a beer with him while girls wanted to sleep with him”. The second part of this statement doesn’t strike a chord with me, but the first bit does. So I got thinking about current WWE performers who I would most like to share a beer and some laughs with. There’s CM Punk, but of course we would be drinking Pepsi, William Regal would have some stories to tell and then I thought of Kofi Kingston, purely because he’s such a likable guy. Unlike Cena, Sheamus, Rey Mysterio, Ryback and the other babyfaces in WWE, Kofi Kingston is far more relatable, he seems like he could just as easily be your mate as he could be World heavyweight Champion.

This leads me to how I would book him, and the answer is just like Stone Cold circa 1996/7. The only exception being that I would keep Kofi as a babyface. Essentially Kofi needs to go on a winning streak before picking a fight with one of the big dogs, in this case Randy Orton. Ideally Orton would be holding the World Heavyweight Championship giving them a reason to fight. With a reason to fight both men could make reference to their original feud, with Kofi stating how far he has come and what he has achieved since. I would hold the match at Survivor Series and make it a war. This would be a personal feud, much like Austin and Bret Hart in 96 and with any luck the use a blade would be allowed to increase the drama. In the end I would have Kofi lose this match in the same way Austin lost his Wrestlemania 13 match to Hart, by refusing to give up before passing out.

The clean nature of the win would mean an end to the feud for the time being, but due to his guts Kofi would be received like never before. He could ride this wave of momentum into the Royal Rumble as a real contender, and win it. This victory would set up a rematch between him and Orton for the World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania. On this occasion I would book Kofi to win in another war to lift his first world title and become a bona fide main eventer at the grandest stage of the all.

Years in the mid-card has allowed Kingston to build a rapport with the fans and gain respect. This means that if he ever receives a push fans will be right behind him because they know his story and will urge him to succeed. Also, he may have several WWE years under his belt but Kingston is still a relatively young man in WWE at just 32 years of age. So if he reaches the summit he could spend several years up there.

If Ryback doesn’t work out then WWE should consider pushing Kofi. Good luck to Ryback but the fans don’t really know him or his story, he’s just a guy with big muscles and a catchphrase. Kofi Kingston on the other hand could follow the likes of Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, Eddie Guerrero and Steve Austin as the dependable, popular, hard-working, mid-carder who fans want to see climb the ladder and achieve his goals.

Raw Rewind: 17 February 1997

Craig Wilson

This #rawrewind takes us to Nashville, Tennessee, for the Raw after ‘In Your House: Final Four’ where Bret Hart became the new WWF Champion. Elsewhere on that card, Rocky Maivia retained his Intercontinental Championship and dissention continued to grow between the tag champions of Owen Hart and British Bulldog. Tonight’s Raw has the main event of WWF Champion Bret Hart against Sycho Sid.

Champion Roll Call:

WWF Champion: Bret Hart
WWF Intercontinental Champion: Rocky Maivia
WWF Tag Team Champions: Owen Hart and the British Bulldog

Your hosts are Vince McMahon and Jerry ‘the King’ Lawler.

Match 1: WWE Champion Bret Hart v Sycho Sid: The show opens with Sycho Sid’s music playing as he gets his WWF Championship rematch after his defeat to Shawn Michaels at the previous month’s Royal Rumble.

As Bret Hart enters the ring Jim Ross informs us that The Undertaker would face the WWF Champion at Wrestlemania 13, presumably owing to his runner up position at the previous evening’s Final Four main event.

The two start a stare down as Austin hits the ring closely followed by officials. Sid then attacks Austin before the officials distract Sid and Austin chop blocks his knee. Austin is led to the back as Sid screams “dammit” as he powerfully sells the injury to his knee.

Sid limps back into the ring and calls for the match to officially start. The referees check on Sid as we get even more footage from last week’s speech where Shawn Michaels vacates the WWF title. We then get highlights of ‘In Your House: Final Four’ from the night before, including a still shot close-up of Vader’s cut face. We return to Kevin Kelly interviewing Sid in the locker room who screamed that even if his leg were broken would he not lose his chance to win the title.

Your winner: No contest

Match 1: Marc Mero (w/ Sable) v Savio Vega (w/ NOD): Vega and the NOD make their way to the ring as we see Farooq and Clarence Mason up in the crowd looking on. Knee to the gut gives Vega a good start as he punches away on Mero in the corner.

A series of arm drgas then gives Mero the advantage and Vega is dropkicked to the outside. A summersault plancha then tales down both Crush and Vega at ringside. Vega is whipped into the corner but catches the on rushing Mero with a spin kick and Vega regains control and catches Mero with a spinning heel kick in the corner.

Mero then ducks a clothesline attempt and gets a nearfall with a crossbody block. Vega fights back and throws Mero to the outside. PG13 attack Mero before Sable attacks them before being chased off by Crush. Vega missed a splash attempt in the corner and backbody drops Vega and hits a samoan drop. NOD then chase Sable into the ring and the referee calls for the bell. Ahmed Johnson rushes to the ring with a 2×4 and the NOD scatter. Huge pop for Ahmed. Considering the injuries Ahmed caused just wrestling, think of the damage he could do with a weapon!

Your winner: Marc Mero via DQ after NOD rush the ring. A good enough bout but the fact that NOD rushed the ring would have surprised nobody.

Bret Hart is backstage as JR interviews him. JR asks him about Austin’s obsession with him as Hart predicts a tough fight later with Sycho Sid.

Match 2: Leif Cassidy v WWF Intercontinental Champion Rocky Maivia: I said it during the Final Four review but Rocky’s music really is dreadful. Decent pop for Maivia here as JR talks about how Rocky won the belt on the last edition of Raw before we see footage of how Rocky picked up the win. Sunny then makes her way to the ring for her special time keeper duties this evening. This, unsurprisingly, excites Lawler.

They lock up to start and Leif takes control with a punch in the corner. They then trade blows before Cassidy is clotheslined over the top to the outside. Back in and Rocky gets a nearfall with a crossbody before an armbar has the challenger down.

Double feature time as HHH cuts a promo about Maivia as he explains his focus is solely on regaining the Intercontinental title. HHH is quizzed about his feud with Goldust, who distracted HHH at the end of his match with Rocky Maivia at Final Four.

Back in the ring and Cassidy is in control as he clotheslines the champion down and gets a nearfall with that. Rocky is whipped into the ropes but gets a 2 with a roll up before being thumbed in the eye.

Kicks and a legsweep take the champion down before Cassidy then applies an armbar to remain in control. Cassidy continues to work away on Maivia’s arm as JR advises us that Raw in 2 weeks will emanate from Berlin, Germany, and will feature the final of the European Championship final.

Axe handle from the top rope gets a two count but Maivia is able to kick out. They trade blows now before Cassidy gets in a kick and slams the champion down. Cassidy goes up top but takes too long and Rocky throws him off the top rope. The champion fights back and hits a series of blows as we cut to Lawler having an argument with a fan at ringside that has an “ECW rules” poster. Rocky hits a crossbody block but doesn’t go for the pin and instead hits a shoulder breaker for the win.

Your winner: Rocky Maivia via pinfall . Still a very green Maivia on show here but Cassidy was able to carry him here. A good match-up though.

Post match Lawler continues to rally against ECW and invites their superstars to Raw next week.

Goldust, with Marlena, then makes his way to the ring for an interview with Kevin Kelly. Kelly asks about HHH but Goldust takes the mic from him. Marlena said there have been questions since Goldust arrived about his “masculinity” and “manhood,” but assured everyone that Goldust is from head to toe all man. HHH then made his way to the ring and threw a drink in Goldust’s face before hitting him with a series of punches and stomps then a Pedigree. Marlena slapped him as the then unnamed, to quote JR, “Amazon-like woman” grabbed Marlena and ragdolled her. Security had to pry the woman, later to be known as Chyna, off of Marlena. Goldust carried Marlena to the back.

Match 3: The Headbangers v Matt & Jeff Hardy : Obviously at this stage Matt and Jeff were jobbers and this was never going to be anything but a squash match. Hardys both in the ring as The Headbangers make their way to the ring. Hardy Boys jumped at the start and Mosh and Jeff start. Big clothesline from Jeff and an armdrag have the Hardys in control. Matt tagged in and Mosh catches him with a slam as Thrasher is tagged in. Farooq is interviewed, in a double feature, about Ahmed Johnson.

In the ring, Thrasher is in control over Matt Hardy and puts the boot into the prone youngster. Mosh is back in and The Headbangers double team Hardy before Mosh throws him to the outside. Mosh clothesline nearly takes off Jeff’s head before they hit their trademark finisher for the win.

Your winners: The Headbangers: Predictable squash match with the Hardys taking some big bumps.

Sycho Sid then came out for the title match, second time lucky? That said, as Bret made his way out of his locker room, Austin attacked him from behind. Sid ran to the back to pull Austin off of Bret. Several referees and officials, including Vince McMahon, tried to hold back Sid as Bret and Austin brawled. We get a commercial break and as we return Gorilla Monsoon tells Kevin Kelly that despite Austin’s actions, unlike others they don’t promise something and not deliver – a dig at WCW, he guaranteed there would be a WWF title match later in the hour.

Match 4: Flash Funk (w/ Funkettes) v Owen Hart (w/ Clarence Mason): Awesomely Owen Hart makes his way down to the ring complete with both tag team titles as well as his Slammy awards.

Quick start to this one with Flash Funk taking control until Owen fought back with a clothesline but missed an elbow drop. Owen then taunted Flash Funk that drew jeers from the crowd. A representative of ECW then calls in to speak to Lawler. It’s Paul Heyman on the phone who guarantees his attendance at the Manhattan Centre for Raw next week.

In ring, Flash superkicks Owen and chops away in the corner but is caught by a big boot as he attempts to splash Hart in the corner. Owen goes for a sharpshooter but is distracted by Clarence mason and Funk gets a 2 with a roll up. Owen then gets in Mason’s face and is caught by Funk who comes off the top rope with a crossbody block. The Bulldog makes his way to the ring now and gets in Mason’s face.

It’s time for break time and we return with Funk and Owen trading attempted pinfalls. The Bulldog is still at ringside but has sent Mason to the back. Owen gets a 2 count with a bridging German suplex then hits a legdrop on Funk.

We cut to an interview with Austin who cuts a promo on Gorilla Monsoon and moans that he was robbed of his Rumble win. In the ring, Owen gets a 2 count with a Macho Man top rope elbow. A gutwrech suplex gets Hart another 2 count but he misses a charge into the corner and lands groin first on the second turnbuckle.

Funk slams Owen to the mat and hits a high crossbody for a 2 count. Owen is whipped into the corner and Funk hits a splash. He signals for the Flashsplash but hits a moonsault that Owen just kicks out of. Funk is whipped into the ropes and Bulldog nails him with a Slammy and holds down his leg as Owen picks up the win.

Your winner: Owen Hart via pinfall thanks in no small part to The Bulldog. The Champions still argue on their way to the back. A good match as you’d expect from these two. Flash Funk never amounted to much in the WWF but he was a talented performer and he and Owen put on a good match.

After a promo video for Wrestlemania 13, HHH’s music hits and the former Intercontinental Champion makes his way down to the ring.

Match 4: Bart Gunn v HHH: Before this starts JR asks HHH about the woman that attacked Marlena but HHH denies all knowledge about her. Honky Tonk Man has joined JR and The King on commentary for this one as he discusses his search for a protégé. Gunn starts this one well and works on HHH’s arm, a common theme in the WWF. Gunn then follows a hiplock with a big dropkick before an armbar keeps the former Smokin’ Gunn in control.

Goldust then hits the ring and chases HHH out of there, he escapes through the crowd, which allows Bart Gunn to win.

Your winner: Bart Gunn via countout A nothing much match. Gunn had a surprising amount of control in this one before Goldust chased HHH out of there.

Before the main event we hear from Dr James R. Andrews as he assesses the knee injury that played a part in HBK losing his smile and having to vacate the title belt last week on Raw.

Match 5: WWF Champion Bret Hart v Sycho Sid:

Bright start from Sid before the WWF Champion fights back and nails a Russian leg sweep. Sid fought back immediately with a series of punches and a short-arm clothesline. Sid then worked away on the prone Hart and hits a big right hand on Hart in the corner. Hart fights out of the corner with some punches and a backbreaker before a headbutt to the abdomen puts Hart back in control. He follows this up with an elbow from the second rope.

Headbutts to the back as Hart works on Sid’s back but Sid fights back and gets a two count following a backbreaker. Hart kicks away on Sid’s leg as he fights back. Hart then debuts the figure-four with opponents leg wrapped around the post. Upon returning from a commercial, Bret was back in the ring working over Sid’s leg in the corner.

Sid fights back and htakes Hart down with a clothesline and a legdrop for two consecutive nearfalls. Sid then slams Hart and goes to the second rope legdrop for a two count. Hart blocks a chokeslam attempt but misses a charge at Sid who was on the ropes.

Sid is then backdropped over the top rope as Austin hits the ring but Sid nails him. Hart locks in the sharpshooter. Sid attempts to power out as Austin hits Hart on the head with the chair. Neither Sid or the referee saw it and Sid powerbombs Hart to win the WWF Championship.

Post match Sid led the crowd in chanting his name. The Undertaker then came to the ring and the show went off the air with the Wrestlemania main event wrestlers staring each other down in mid-ring.

Your winner: And new WWF Champion Sycho Sid Third WWF Champion in a week as the feud between Austin and Hart hit new levels throughout the show..

Overall: Good show with a hugely important title change. This is all about setting up Bret Hart v Austin for ‘mania. The stop-start attempts to get the title match going was a nice touch and it was quite cool to see an early appearance from the Hardy Boys. We also saw the second appearance from the woman that would be better known soon as Chyna.