Saturday, December 12, 2015

Random Network Reviews: Old School 3/6/97

Old School
March 16th, 1997 | Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York

Well, so far I’ve only reviewed one show from the WWE Network’s Old School Vault and it wasn’t very good. What I saw was a dull affair from 1991 where nobody seemed to put in any real effort. Hopefully, the results are different as I see one from one of, if not the best year in pro wrestling history, 1997. This also takes place in my favorite wrestling venue, Madison Square Garden.

The Old School Vault intro video is pretty damn cool. Commentary consists of Jim Ross and Jim Cornette so that should be good. They run down the card, which sounds pretty solid.

Flash Funk w/ the Funkettes vs. The Sultan w/ Bob Backlund and Iron Sheik
I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it before, but for those who don’t know, the Sultan is Hall of Famer Rikishi. Flash Funk’s theme plays and stops about four times. The Sultan is offended by Flash’s ridiculous gear, attacking him at the bell. Flash’s theme continues to play in the background. Someone fire the music guy. Flash fights back with some funky moves. Yea, I just did that. Sultan regroups outside and I thought Flash would dive out but he just waits patiently. He stupidly falls for a test of strength but does use his athleticism to get the upper hand. Sultan fires back with a superkick. Sultan gets in more offense before Flash hits a nice splash for two. He goes back up with a 360 leg drop but Sheiky Baby distracts the referee. He goes up again but comes down on Bob Backlund outside. When he goes back in, he tries a hurricanrana but Sultan catches him with a powerbomb. He turns over into the camel clutch and that’s a wrap.

Winner: The Sultan in 7:41
Better than I expected it to be. When I saw Sultan go outside and we got no dive from Flash, I thought they were just going to kill time. Instead, they worked pretty hard and this was decent.**

The Godwins vs. The New Blackjacks
Like the previous match, we get an attack before the bell. The Blackjacks are the heels. The Godwins try a double team and it is super awkward. Henry is supposed to slam Phineas onto Bradshaw, but Phineas sets too early and just strangely hugs Henry. Hank gets two with a suplex. Windham, the veteran on the team, hits a low blow behind the official’s back, turning the tide. During this, commentary hypes the upcoming Four Team Elimination Tag match at WrestleMania. These two teams, Doug Furnas and Phil LaFon and the Headbangers go at it. Sounds like it will suck. Windham hits a nice back suplex for a near fall as they work heat on Phineas because he sucks so hard. Things break down as everyone is in the ring. The Blackjacks misfire on a double team, allowing Henry to slam Bradshaw from the top. He hits a belly to belly suplex for two, while Phineas and Windham brawl outside. He then hits the Slop Drop, but Windham and Bradshaw pull of twin magic after a double axe handle to win.

Winners: The New Blackjacks in 8:09
Went a bit too long for not being very good. Also, how does that finish work when the teammates don’t even look alike? 

Dok Hendrix is in the ring and introduces Bret Hart, who has an upcoming Steel Cage match against Sycho Sid. They discuss Bret being on his way to a fifth WWF Title, which was such a huge deal back then. Now, five World Titles is nothing. They promote the upcoming I Quit match between Bret Hart and Steve Austin as well, which would be arguably the best match in WrestleMania history.

Aldo Montoya vs. Crush w/ the Nation of Domination
Why god why? I didn’t even know Aldo Montoya was still even around at this point. The first move of this thing is a damn sleeper hold from Aldo. It’s quickly broken and Aldo hits a much better cross body. Crush does nothing until hitting the Heart Punch and winning.

Winner: Crush in 1:46
Thank goodness this was kept short. Inoffensive. *

The Nation put the boots to Aldo Montoya because they like the Portuguese as little as they like the white man. Ahmed Johnson and his 2x4 run out for the save and he chases off the Nation. We go to what seems like a commercial and when we return, Ahmed is calmly walking out to his theme for a match.

Ahmed Johnson vs. Savio Vega w/ the Nation of Domination
We are taken to footage from Madison Square Garden two months prior where Ahmed Johnson teamed with Savio Vega against Faarooq and Crush. Savio turned on Ahmed that night. Everyone who just ran off walks back out now. Why? Savio cuts a promo before the match and it is fucking awful. Ahmed fakes like he’s joining the Nation but attacks instead. Ahmed starts hot but Savio ends up taking over because Ahmed is the epitome of a hot tag guy. His style doesn’t allow for him to get in much in a match that goes over five minutes. They go to a commercial, since this was broadcast on MSG Network in New York, and when they come back, Savio has a sleeper applied. Ahmed and his wedgie begin to Hulk Up but a missed scissors kick allows Savio to kick him. Crush goes to use the 2x4 but it backfires as Ahmed hits both him and Savio. A spinebuster and Pearl River Plunge follow. The Nation jumps in to cause the DQ.

Winner via disqualification: Ahmed Johnson in 6:47
Painfully dull and worthless. Well, it did advance the Ahmed Johnson/Nation feud but it was pretty damn boring. ½*

Faarooq comes out to join in on this beat down, whipping Ahmed Johnson like a government mule.

WWF Tag Team Championship
British Bulldog and Owen Hart (c) vs. Doug Furnas and Phil Lafon

British Bulldog is also the current European Champion. Doug Furnas and Owen Hart start with a cool wrestling exchange. Both teams go back and forth for a while, which is fine since all four men are talented workers. I don’t think that Owen and Bulldog get enough credit for good they were as a team. Owen miscues and dropkicks Bulldog off the apron, as they were building towards a split that ended up never happening. After a commercial, the faces are working over Owen. Lafon rolls up Bulldog at one point but Owen distracts the referee. He did all of the little things to be a great heel, while still having an entertaining ring style. Owen gets the tag and nails Lafon with the Enziguri of death for two. Lafon plays the face in peril for a good chunk of time here. Furnas gets the hot tag and suplexes the hell out of Bulldog. He busts out a sweet hurricanrana but Owen breaks the pin. Furnas goes for another suplex, but Owen trips him up and holds the leg, allowing Bulldog to get the three.

Winners and Still WWF Tag Team Champions: British Bulldog and Owen Hart in 11:20
Best match of the night so far. It wasn’t anything spectacular, but it featured good tag formula and everyone seemed to actually work hard. Four talented guys who know what they’re doing out there and had the crowd involved. ***

Time for another promo as Ken Shamrock, the special referee in the Submission match at WrestleMania 13 gets interviewed. Or I guess not. After hyping that, we go to a backstage promo with Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Chyna. Hunter really stuck to the basics here.

WWF Intercontinental Championship
Rocky Maivia (c) vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley w/ Chyna

I reviewed their match a month prior at In Your House: Final Four for a podcast a while back and it was extremely basic. Their early spots are done to showcase Rocky’s agility as he nips up, leap frogs and snaps off a decent dropkick. As Hunter takes advantage, we go to commercial and Hunter gets a near fall. As I said with his promo, Hunter, at this point in his career, was really doing the very least he could as a heel. You could see that he truly was a student of the game as he utilized all of the little cheap heat things he could. Chyna assists him on an abdominal stretch at one point, though they get caught. Rocky gets knocked outside as Chyna goes to do something but Earl Hebner again catches her. Rocky begins to rally though some fans are chanting “boring”. They do somewhat pop for Rocky’s float over DDT. He goes up top to connect with the cross body but Chyna pulls him off of the pin. Hunter connects on the Pedigree but Goldust runs in to cause a DQ.

Winner via disqualification: Hunter Hearst Helmsley in 12:45
Like their other matches in this era, this was very standard stuff. Hunter wasn’t very exciting as a heel here and Rocky wasn’t lighting the world on fire as a face. **

Goldust continues the assault until Chyna gets in his face. Marlena runs in and jumps on Chyna’s back until officials break it up. Her top breaks but nothing is seen. After a commercial, Sunny is brought out. She was at a point where she was doing a lot of nothing but was too popular to not be featured. She models a shirt and seems like she’s going to take it off but she doesn’t. She ring announces the next match and is the worst at it.

Faarooq w/ the Nation of Domination vs. Goldust w/ Marlena
Before the bell, Faarooq cuts a promo saying that he won’t wrestle a fairy. Times were certainly different in 1997 weren’t they? Goldust attacks him anyway and we get a slugfest. Goldust barely gets in any offense and it’s boring as hell. Faarooq hits his finisher and wins even though Goldust’s foot is on the ropes.

Winner: Faarooq in 5:23
It’s like nothing happened but it lasted five minutes. This was awful. DUD

Dok Hendrix interviews the WWF Champion, Sycho Sid. He says that he would beat Bret Hart eight days out of the week, before turning his attention to Undertaker. Sid stumbles through this entire thing and it is a fantastic watch.

Casket Match
Undertaker vs. Vader w/ Paul Bearer

Even though Vader’s momentum was stalled in 1996 when Shawn Michaels refused to put him over, he did beat Undertaker at the Royal Rumble. With Undertaker being the top contender for the WWF Title, Vader has a claim to a title shot after if he wins. They trade blows at the bell before Undertaker clotheslines him down. They also had good big man brawls. Undertaker sends Vader outside and he hits the casket on his way out. Undertaker gets a chair and whacks Vader in the back as they go to commercial. Returning, Vader is pounding away as we’re told that Paul Bearer hit Undertaker with the urn. Jim Ross wisely brings up how hot Vader has been after Final Four, in which he had a phenomenal performance. Vader goes to leap from the second rope but Taker catches him with a body slam. He follows with a Chokeslam and the Tombstone. As Undertaker opens the casket, Mankind pops out and puts him in the Mandible Claw. It’s the same spot they ran like ten months prior when Undertaker faced Goldust. Undertaker is placed in the casket and the lid shuts.

Winner: Vader in 5:16
Surprisingly result here and way shorter than I expected. Since it was short, it never dragged and the two big men always work well together. This wasn’t up there with their best, but still pretty solid. **½

Undertaker comes right out and beats up Mankind. Vader doesn’t give a damn as he leaves Mankind to take a beating. Undertaker puts Mankind in the casket and sends the fans home happy.

Overall: 5/10; Mediocre. For a house show, this was pretty good. A lot of the Old School Vault shows tend to feature a ton of guys phoning it in because it’s an untelevised event. Granted, there were some stinkers here but the show moved by quickly and nothing overstayed its welcome. The Tag Team Title match was damn good but everything else only ranged from bad to average. Next on “Random Network Reviews” will be Armageddon 2004!