Tuesday, 31 January 2012



For the second year in a row the Royal Rumble show begins with a long tag-team match featuring Mr. Fuji's Orient Express with the masked Kato and the newly modestly shirted Tanaka. This time their opponents are "The Rocket" Owen Hart and Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart who are together billed as The New Foundation and they have loose fitting shiny pants and jackets with little bits of checkerboard on them. This is an entirely competent match because The Orient Express are fine and Owen Hart is as you know a high flier and technician of the greatest magnitude and Jim Neidhart most assuredly knows his way around a tag-team match and so I have no real complaints and the finish in which Neidhart first flings Hart through the middle ropes at guys and then launches him from the top turnbuckle for a splash is totally cool but the best part of the match when it is all said and done is probably right at the beginning when Mr. Fuji is leading his charges down the aisle and the camera shot transitions to a bunch of bros holding up a huge hand-drawn sign that the cameraman and director or whoever must think for a moment is supposed to represent Mr. Fuji but upon closer inspection it is just a really shabby picture of the Undertaker and so they cut away abruptly.

In other Hart related happenings, Intercontinental Champion and greatest wrestler ever Bret "Hitman" Hart is Intercontinental Champion no more because two days before the Royal Rumble he chose to ignore doctors' orders and wrestle the Mountie Jacques Rougeau despite a 104-degree fever and he paid the price for his rashness. Challenging the Mountie at the Royal Rumble a mere two days into his title reign: "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, who puts the Mountie to sleep with, you guessed it, a sleeper hold and then he shocks the Mountie with his own cattle prod (the Mountie gimmick is somewhat muddled) accompanied by a BZZZZZRRRRRRNNNNNNN sound effect that is less convincing than just having a dude rolling around in there unaccompanied which is really your other option in this. The historians among you will already know that this is Roddy Piper's first championship of any kind in the World Wrestling Federation. Will it be his last? Or will he claim title gold again in the Royal Rumble which, tonight, will determine the World Wrestling Federation Champion following all kinds of nonsense at the Survivor Series and also Tuesday in Texas if I am remembering this right?    

In other action, the Beverly Brothers have absolutely nothing going for them other than that they are managed by The Genius, who dons black academic robes as his fellows take on the Bushwhackers accompanied by Jamison, who is an ineffectual nebbishy kind of guy for whom we are meant to feel a sense of either identification or pity but probably not contempt although that is what Bobby Heenan, who joins Gorilla Monsoon on commentary, feels for our unfortunate friend. Bobby Heenan really begins to be awesome during this very shitty match, and does not stop until the night is entirely behind us. The Beverly Brothers won but it looked awful because it seemed like Butch (Luke? I am not rewinding this) got in there in time to break up the pin but the count continued; I don't know, man. In the aftermath, the Bushwhackers hit their devestating battering ram finisher, got a hold of the Genius, and allowed Jamison to exact a measure of revenge against his tormentor (I am guessing here that there is a backstory of torment that I am in fact ignorant of) by kicking him first in the shin and then upon the seat. The Genius: still awesome, but not much of a match otherwise.

I am a little surprised to see Lord Alfred Hayes around as late as 1992, but here he is delivering Colosseum Video Exclusive interviews! These are fine but the gold standard among wrestlers *on the stick* tonight at least in the early going is Macho Man Randy Savage who sets out the situation thusly:  

"OH YEAH ROYAL RUMBLE the single greatest wrestling event and match EVER IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD WRESTLING FEDERATION competition yeah against twenty-nine of the greatest wrestlers in the world and only ONE MAN can win the prestigious World Wrestling Federation Championship belt. I've won it before. I've been there before. I'VE BEEN TO THE TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN and I'm going back. I'm going back this afternoon. Two things I want to accomplish this afternoon yeah. NUMBER ONE: sometime, I want to get my hands on the snake man. And the other thing is yeah I want to ONCE AGAIN BE THE WORLD WRESTLING FEDERATION CHAMPION OOOOH YEAH DIG IT."

I really liked that. Jake the Snake is not quite up to his awesome prerecorded comment self here; unsurprisingly, Ric Flair is pretty great. And Sid is here! So that's cool. YOU KNOW SOMETHING HULKAMANIACS LATER ON THIS AFTERNOON WE GET TO PROVE A POINT and the point that has been made to me based on a couple of these videos is that it really does seem as though this was on in the afternoon which is odd.


lol Heenan calls Tunney the best president since Noriega TELL IT BOBBY

So then at number one we have Davey Boy who only months before won a prestigious twenty-man battle royale contested in London's famed Royal Albert Hall and at number two it is "The Million Dollar Man" Ted Dibiase who has crazy bad luck in these draws man and he is accompanied by Sherri who is looking quite dignified perhaps because DiBiase would hesitate to be seen with a woman of poor breeding? It is like she is a classy lady with a feathered hat but also sequins and daring eye makeup and most of her boobs out; it is intoxicating. Will either of thesee competitors surpass Rick "The Model" Martel's mark of fifty-three minutes in the ring? I can tell you with certainty that DiBiase will not, as he is eliminated whilst gloating over what he wrongly believed to be his elimination of the British Bulldog. As DiBiase makes his sullen and defeated way back to the Locker Room Area, he is met by the number three entrant, "Nature Boy" Ric Flair, self-professed real world's champion owing to his having by far the larger belt and there having been a situation in which whoever was running WCW at the time not giving him back his deposit or something, right? He offers his hand to the Bulldog in apparent friendship but withdraws it in apparent awesomeness. He is accompanied, I should add, by the great Mr. Perfect Curt Hennig. Let's count how many times Flair goes out over the top but not to the floor in this afternoon's affair: there's one. (Note that I will definitely forget to count.) 

Saggs of the Nasty Boys comes in at number four. Was it the Nasty Boys who hit Ken Shamrock with a phone, like, one of those heavy old phones, and knocked him right out? He fished for the leglock while in a semiconscious state but was unsuccessful iirc. The Bulldog puts Saggs over the top but his feet do not at first hit the floor; a hubristic Saggs turns to the crowd and celebrates this feat of guile and athleticism; the Bulldog knocks him off the apron and Saggs is free to pursue other interests for the remainder of the day. Haku is in next. The crowd delights and Bobby Heenan recoils as Haku turns his attention, surprisingly, to Flair, who ducks out under the bottom rope and chills for just like a minute. The Bulldog does away with Haku just as the newly heelish Shawn Michaels, fresh off throwing Marty Jannetty through Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake's storefront window which was totally shocking when it happened, is our next man in. Flair and Michaels compete to bounce around the awesomest for the Bulldog, and in the early going the younger man takes the lead in this particular contest. Michaels has been in the match for maybe ninety seconds and he has already gone over the top twice; he has also suspended himself laterally across the top turnbuckle as the Bulldog lays into him with kicks. Hey, it is Tito Santana, who we all remember, but now he is "EL MATADOR" Tito Santana, which isn't all that good. Ric Flair hits Davey Boy with a spectacular low blow and Smith no doubt wonders if he is back in Stampede or something, ballshots being the organizing principle of that organization for a considerable portion of its history. 

The Barbarian is in now, and I'm sure he will be fine, but without the Big Boss Man in there with him, he can never truly be great. Next up is "Texas Tornado" Kerry Von Erich, who goes right after Flair, who flops, and presumably everyone in Texas, and also David Meltzer who may have mentioned to you that he lived in Texas during the height of the World Class Championship Wrestling days, goes nuts. 

IT'S THE REPO MAN! I guess we have entered the early days of the truly shitty gimmick era, and it occurs to me that after this Rumble it might actually be kind of a long haul from here on out as it's like repo men and accountants and garbagemen and racecar drivers until I guess about 1997 or 1998 at which point we'll get pimps and satanists and pornographic film actors and vampires or whatever. Greg Valentine enters and chops Ric Flair ferociously; Flair flops, but to no response whatsoever from the capacity crowd on hand in Albany, New York's Knickerbocker arena. It had only been like three minutes since the last one. Bret Hart, who is not joining us this evening, has denounced Flair as what Bret's father called "a routine man," and it is easy to see what he means by that even if you definitely do not agree with Hart's conclusion that Flair wasn't actually all that good. Flair, you'll remember, felt that if you had seen one of Hart's matches, you'd seen them all, a criticism that grows out of the Five Moves of Doom, I believe. Hart's response to that charge is that, if wrestling was real, you'd totally go to your best moves as often as you could because you were trying to win the wrestling match, right? Anyway there is nothing to be learned here other than that Bret Hart and Ric Flair didn't like each other and both said things about the other's style that were pretty much completely wrong.

Valentine puts Flair in the figure-four leglock, a hold well-known to both men! Nikolai Volkoff is in! Nikolai Volkoff is out! The Bossman is in! Repo Man eliminates the Hammer! But now he is himself out by the hand of the Boss Man! And seriously, seriously: if this was something you had not known previously, know it now: nobody gets nearly eliminated in more convincing fashion than Shawn Michaels. Of all the things that he did extremely well in wrestling, perhaps this is what he was best at, and I don't say that to trivialize his many other distinctions and awesomenesses.

lol ok all kinds of stuff just happened: in short order, Flair flips both the Bulldog and Von Erich over the top, Tito and Michaels go out together in a heap, and so we are down to the Boss Man, Barbarian and Flair just as Hercules, who is still getting work I guess, enters the ring. Flair teams momentarily with the Barbarian and offers him a high five before turning on him almost immediately. Flair then cowers. The Barbarian gets Flair up but not over; Hercules takes advantage of this moment and eliminates the Barbarian; the Boss Man does the same to Hercules. Flair thinks he is alone, but no, the Boss Man is very much there! But only for a minute, as the Boss Man eliminates himself in seriously fine style by diving at the ropes but getting totally hung up but still managing to get himself out and over the top all the same. It was GREAT. Flair walks to the centre of the ring and flops as Heenan declares him the winner. Monsoon explains to Heenan that this is not the case. The moment after I become reconvinced that this is totally the best Royal Rumble, Roddy Piper's number comes up, and so yeah this owns.

Piper has Flair pretty much out with the dreaded sleeper hold by the time Jake "The Snake" Roberts comes out, and he is soundly booed by those who I am sure loved him dearly until only recently. Jake is awesome. He lights up Piper for a minute and then short-whip clothelines Flair and threatens with the DDT, only to suffer finishus interruptus yet again in the Royal Rumble as Piper comes in with a clotheslines of his own. Heenan is starting to lose his voice.  

HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan continues to be the most "over" guy in all of the midcard and his enormous blue trunks match Piper's almost perfectly. Piper -- a newly minted Intercontintal Champion, I would remind you -- proves that certainly he can not be trusted in these every-man-for-himself times by taking a run at Duggan. Irwin R. Shyster is in next. Poor Mike Rotunda; that was a dumb thing to have to be, and he was pretty good, I think. 

I did not know just how much I wanted Gorilla Monsoon to say "double knoggin' knocker" until he said it just now, and I am moved. I meant to note but did not when Gorilla made mention of the "external occipital protruberance" earlier in the show but suffice it to say bless you Gorilla Monsoon wherever you may find yourself in the cosmos. Snuka is in next and looks incredibly old. Aaaaand here comes the Undertaker and the crowd is shook. The Undertaker's grey gloves are the Undertaker's best gloves, imo. He gets rid of Snuka straight away, and iirc Snuka was the first of the Undertaker's many Wrestlemania victims, is he not? I bet they will let him retire with the streak very much in tact but what is they DIDN'T? He is choking everybody.

The Macho Man races down the aisle accompanied to the ring by his body issues: Randy Savage in mauve shorts with stars on them is pretty much the coolest a professional wrestler can look; in a weird blue and orange matching top and tights he looks dumb. It is a shame. He gets the best of Jake and then flies over the top rope after him, causing Heenan and Monsoon to scramble to try and explain why it is ok that that just happened as the Undertaker slips out of the ring and tosses Savage back in and everything just keeps on going like we didn't all just see Savage fly out over the top (which was actually a really cool thing to do). "Uh, nobody threw him out over the top, and I believe that's one of the rules of the Royal Rumble?" lol ok

The Berzerker! He is saying "huss!" Heenan reminds us that the Berzerker's specialty is throwing dudes right out of the ring, so this should serve him well in this special attraction. I have a friend who is an Anglo-Saxon scholar who told me one time that "Viking" is just the Old English word for "pirate" and while I have some Old English I don't have enough to know if he was just fucking with me. He's a great guy and one of my favourite people in the world but when I asked him what he thought the best translation of Beowulf was he was like "I read the original" which is not what I asked him. Piper and the Undertaker are both choking Ric Flair; here comes Wrestling Superstar Virgil, and then Colonel Mustafa who is the Iron Sheik! I don't think I've mentioned previously that one summer, Atlantic Grand Prix Wrestling used a guy they called "The Iranian Sheik" and I believe he feuded with "Big" Stephen Petipas, a fine athlete and also a car salesmen, and my brother who was like five at the time was so into this Sheik you have no idea; I don't think he was able to distinguish between the Iron Shiek from TV and this local dude. 

Rick Martel is next and his hair is a lot shorter but he looks good as required by his boastful and vain persona. Savage gets rid of Mustafa, but the ring is still pretty full of dudes: Berzerker, Piper, Undertaker, Savage, Duggan, Virgil, IRS, Martel, Flair. 

THE IMMORTAL HUUUUUUUULK HOOOOOOOOGAAAAAAAAAAAN is here to take care of that and he starts by eliminating the Undertaker with a clothesline and then dumps the Berzerker and in less exciting news Virgil and the Hacksaw got all tangled up and are both out. Skinner is next and I am pretty sure there is a decent story about Skinner in Bret Hart's book but it escapes me. Hogan puts Flair over the top and lol Heenan actually sobs but Flair again of course rolls back under the bottom rope (I have not been counting). He quickly regains himself and squares off with Piper. I don't think I've ever seen a whole Piper/Flair match but they did amateur wrestling challenge thing for TV one time or something right? Crockett in the 80s or whatever. 

Here's Sgt. Slaughter! The Model eliminates Skinner. Oh shit Hogan and Piper! The crowd doesn't respond to it at all, suggesting that they are almost completely ignorant of history.Then Hogan and Flair, and again almost no response, which is weird. Now nobody is really doing anything.
Sid Justice is next, and the people like him! Sid is so bad at everything but powerbombing yet he is utterly irresistable. He gets a hold of Flair in the corner and the people of Albany are like FUCK YEAH SID FUCKIN DO IT YEAAAAHH but alas his efforts fall short. 

Our final competitor is the Warlord who jesus christ this guy just keeps on getting bigger. Is he still alive? Maybe so if his deal was that he loved steroids but was otherwise not that into HOOOOOOLY SHIIIIIIIIT there goes Slaughter lol that is the best elimination EVVVAAAAAAAAAAR Sid just flings him into the corner and Slaughter runs full tilt chest first and just launches up and out oh man that is the BEST and will never be equaled.

Piper puts out IRS, so we've got Sid, Warlord, Hogan, oh ok not the Warlord because Hogan and Sid just teamed up to get him, Piper, Martel, Flair, Savage, that's it. And now Sid has dumped Piper and Martel; Sid was working over Savage in the corner and Flair rushes in and eliminates Savage with a knee to Sid's back and shit is so real right now you have very little idea or understanding: it's Sid and Hogan and Flair and that is it man that is IT. Flair is upside down in the corner. Flair flips over the top rope off of a Hogan punch but ducks back under as SID EUDY, who is fuckin unpredictable man, pushes Hogan out and over and then has this rad look on this face as he says "IT'S EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF BIG BOY!" and it is bad ass. Hogan sucks so he is pulling on Sid's arm from outside the ring AND RIC FLAIR DOES IT YEEEAAAAAHHHH AND NOW I AM GOING TO REWIND IT TO SEE HOW MANY TIMES BOBBY HEENAN SAYS YES AND THE ANSWER IS I THINK TWENTY TWO! EAT SHIT HULK HOGAN RIC FLAIR HAS THE BELT AND NOW SID IS PISSED AT YOU WHICH MEANS YOU ARE FUCKED BRO


No comments:

Post a Comment