Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Top Ten Thursday: Potential AJ Styles Opponents

In a move that is still really surreal to me, AJ Styles is now a member of the WWE roster. As a massive AJ fan, I'm excited at this news, but also cautious at how he gets used. The WWE doesn't always have a great track record with guys who became stars elsewhere. Anyway, one thing I can be optimistic about is the potential matches. Regardless of how he's used, AJ Styles can flat out go in the ring. The WWE roster is full of great wrestlers too, meaning a lot of potential dream matches. I narrowed it down to ten guys I'd want to see him face most. Of note, guys like Samoa Joe didn't make the cut since I'm counting matches I have never seen before.

10. Neville

Actually, I’d pretty much love to see Neville against almost anyone. It’s a far cry from when I first saw him as PAC at an ROH show and he severely underwhelmed. He won me over as champion during NXT’s fantastic 2014. Anyway, this could work for a variety of reasons. Neville is a freak athlete and incredible high flyer. That kind of sounds like AJ Styles himself early in his TNA run. I feel like this could work as kind of a look back for AJ. AJ is no longer the risk taker that he once was, but he’ll know what to expect from Neville because that’s how he used to be. It’s similar to the vibe I got when watching Styles wrestle Kota Ibushi in New Japan. AJ kind of gets a glimpse into the past and has to either combat that by going back to those days, or outsmart Neville with his veteran knowhow. Neville is also different from other people on this list because he’s actually faced Styles in the past. I’ve never seen those matches, so I still included him, but I heard some pretty high praise. If that is the case, they should already have chemistry and it could only be better considering how both men have matured over time.

9. Brock Lesnar

This would be a lot higher if we didn’t know the way that Brock Lesnar matches go these days. I’m not complaining about the Brock matches, because I love seeing him toss people around. It’s just not something I’d care for that much when it comes to AJ Styles. It could come off like the pretty bad Seth Rollins/Brock Lesnar match from Battleground. That being said, just seeing AJ Styles share a ring with Lesnar would be pretty rad. It’s actually something that I badly wanted to see in the Royal Rumble, but they never got the chance. If they were given the chance to have a mildly competitive match, it could be fun. Styles is the kind of guy that would bump for Brock very well. Everything that Brock does already looks violent and painful, but Styles would go the extra mile to make them look even better. Plus, during AJ’s G1 Climax runs, he showed that he is one of the most versatile wrestlers in the world. He adapted to any and every one put in front of him and I’m sure he’d do the same if given the chance to work Brock Lesnar.

8. Cesaro 

Like some of the earlier matches I listed, this one isn’t about making the most money for the WWE. Cesaro vs. AJ Styles doesn’t sound like something that would rack up millions of dollars for WrestleMania. What it does sound like, is something that I would not miss by any means. These are of the slickest, best in-ring performers on the planet and it’s almost a guarantee that they would put on a classic match. Cesaro is great at working with smaller guys and while AJ Styles is not small like a Kalisto, their styles could match up well. I would love to see these two be given a platform to just wrestle. I don’t need any extra nonsense thrown in or anything remotely like that. It’s one of those times that I want two wrestlers, in a wrestling ring, having a wrestling match and nothing more. I can just picture some of the spots they would do in my head. I see Styles selling the popup uppercut in tremendous fashion. I can picture both guys teasing their similar finishers, the Styles Clash and Neutralizer. Add in that they’ve never wrestled each other and you’ve got a must see match. Unfortunately, due to Cesaro’s injury, we won’t be seeing it for a while.

7. Randy Orton

I realized that a good chunk of this list are guys that made their names on the indies and away from the WWE. Randy Orton does not fit that mold. Orton screams the WWE mold and has been one of the poster children for the company. He is mostly dull on the mic but is one of the smoothest wrestlers I’ve ever seen. I think that a match against AJ Styles could be pretty fantastic. Orton would have to want the match though. If it’s a case where the WWE books him in it and he’s not interested, Orton has the potential to phone it in and deliver a piss poor performance. When Orton is on and motivated though, he’s easily one of the very best. This would be a collision of two of the crispest workers in the business. I’d like to see it if Orton was working as the vicious “Viper” heel gimmick. It’s him at his best and Styles, while he developed into a good, solid heel, usually does his best work as a babyface. That dynamic could make for magic and a potentially great match. It would even work as a first big program for AJ in case they want to move him up to face guys like Cena or Reigns.

6. Dean Ambrose

Here’s one of the matches I’ve thought about that has potential to take place within the next few months. With the WWE Championship picture pretty much sealed up heading into WrestleMania, I can’t see AJ Styles involved in that. Add in all of the injuries that leave other top guys like John Cena, Randy Orton and Seth Rollins out, and I could totally see AJ Styles in the Intercontinental Championship picture. Who just happens to hold that title at the time of this writing? Dean Ambrose. Ambrose is the rare Intercontinental Champion in recent memory that is actually booked like a main eventer. Due to that, this won’t seem like a waste of AJ Styles. These two would make for interesting television considering the fact that Ambrose is one of the more intriguing and different guys in all of wrestling. Styles would certainly find a way to adapt to his personality and it should produce a good match. It would also allow for the Intercontinental Title to be a very prominent title as there is almost no way this wouldn’t be heralded as a big deal. Despite spending time on the indies for a while, I don’t believe these two have ever met.

5. Kevin Owens 

There seems to be a very good chance we get this match before any of the others on the list. When AJ Styles debuted in the Royal Rumble, I wanted to see him last until at least the final four to really make an impact. Instead, he was eliminated after about 28 minutes by none other than Kevin Owens. Owens even mocked AJ’s signature taunt after dumping him out. Those planted seeds were enough to make for an intriguing match. During the Rumble, they went into a rough exchange of right hands and the crowd absolutely nuts. Even as Owens threw him over the top, he shouted something along the lines of “welcome to the WWE”. This is something that I could see working better as an actual program than a one-off. Kevin Owens is just so good at drawing heat. He’s so good on the microphone, that he could carry that aspect mostly on his own since it isn’t AJ’s strongest suit. Owens, like Cesaro, is someone that works beautifully with guys of a smaller stature than him, as evidenced by his matches with guys like Balor, Zayn and Neville. He and AJ would engage in a great back and forth of athleticism, power and wits. I’m all for this happening at Fastlane or even WrestleMania 32.

4. Sami Zayn

Of the guys on this list that were indy darlings, my personal favorite is Sami Zayn. He was the first guy to show up at my first live Ring of Honor event and I was hooked on El Generico. He went on to have some of my favorite matches ever. Since moving to the WWE and NXT, Sami Zayn has somehow become someone I like even more. This would be a personal dream match. Sami has shown that he can deliver regardless of the situation. From Adrian Neville and Kevin Owens to guys like Titus O’Neil and Baron Corbin, Sami always has good matches. AJ Styles is of a similar mold in that he can make almost any match work as well as you could expect. As far as I know, they’ve never wrestled during their time on the indies so this would be extra special as a first time ever encounter. Sami is tremendous at getting you emotionally invested into a match and the actual straight up wrestling parts of this would already be great as it is. I’d consider this a heavily wanted dream match of mine.

3. John Cena

TNA and WWE are clearly in VERY different leagues. That much is clear. I don’t think the difference between the man of TNA for so long and the man in WWE for the past decade is anywhere near that large. John Cena and AJ Styles are, love them or hate them, two of the very best and most successful wrestlers of the past twenty years. Of all of the potential matches on this list, this would be the biggest money one. You’ve got the guy that has defined everything the WWE stands for the past decade and the guy that has been the biggest name and best American wrestler outside of the WWE during that time. It would be the best kind of Styles Clash, pun intended. Over the past year, Cena has shown that he can work well with guys that made big splashes in other companies. Hell, his best United States Title matches in 2015 all involved guys like that (Owens, Zayn, Neville, Cesaro). Don’t bill this match as some sort of situation where AJ is a rookie, handle it like AJ wants to prove that he belongs in the WWE. He’s conquered every other endeavor in his career, but beating John Cena would top them all. He should actually beat him to solidify that he is on the best, but I could see it going the other way.

2. Finn Balor

Yea, this one pretty much writes itself. Finn Balor, then Prince Devitt, formed the Bullet Club in New Japan Pro Wrestling. After about a year of doing that and building the group to a pretty popular place, Devitt left NJPW to join the WWE. As Devitt stepped away from being the leader, AJ Styles debuted and replaced him. It’s so interesting because they’ve never crossed paths. Right as Devitt left, AJ showed up and now that AJ is in the WWE with Balor, Finn is still in NXT. He also doesn’t seem to be leaving there anytime soon. While the Bullet Club stuff didn’t take place in the WWE, they would be wise not to ignore it. It’s a readymade story. Hell, now that Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson are reportedly headed to the WWE, they could add to this. As for the match itself, I think would be pretty fantastic. Both guys are among my favorites to watch. They both utilize the Bloody Sunday Brainbuster, both take to the sky when necessary and I truly believe they would mesh very well together. We’d either need a Finn call-up or a special appearance in NXT by AJ Styles, but it would be worth it.

1. Seth Rollins

The WWE roster is chock full of incredibly talented performers. There might be more pure talent right now than at any other time in history. One guy stands out above the rest in my opinion and that’s Seth Rollins. When I first saw Seth in Ring of Honor in 2007, I was instantly enthralled. His aerial ability reminded of my favorite wrestler, AJ Styles. I made it a point to follow Seth’s career all the way to his WWE Championship run last year. A match between he and AJ Styles is something I’ve dreamed about for a very long time. It could run in the same way as my suggested Neville/AJ match. Styles could kind of see a lot of his younger self in Seth Rollins. A few months back, Seth was interviewed and asked about a potential match with Styles. He admitted to being of the generation of wrestlers that were inspired by guys like AJ, Daniel Bryan and CM Punk, while saying they’re both at the top of their games and it would make for some interesting television. Not only does this top the list as what I want the most, but it also is the one I think would be the best.

Lucha Underground The Dark and the Mysterious Review

Life is so good now that Lucha Underground is back. They continue to do a great of blending the cinema with the wrestling in their opening video package that recaps a lot of top angles like Mil Muertes winning the Lucha Underground Title and the Dario Cueto/Black Lotus saga. Part of this review will be written in the present tense (the segments) while the other parts (the matches) will be written in the past tense as I recap them after watching.

The first guy we see on this show is Prince Puma, working out and thinking about the crushing loss to Mil Muertes. Pentagon Jr. comes up behind him and thanks him for the opening to break Muertes' arm. He says they are partners tonight but Puma may be the next sacrifice. BECAUSE YO SOY PENTAGON JR. AND CERO MIEDO! They get into a sick movie like fight scene that ends with Puma pressing him up against a locker and walking off. Still no words from the first LU Champion.

Mil Muertes is still overlooking the Temple in his throne but he is sporting a sling. Matt Striker asks Vampiro if he was behind Pentagon's attack last week, which Vampiro denies.

Johnny Mundo def. Killshot in 4:34
Mundo was sporting some gold pants that somehow really worked with his heel character. I feel like Killshot is rather underrated. This was an athletic contest, with both guys doing some impressive things. Killshot really got a chance to showcase his skills. He had a sequence of a superkick, DDT and 450 splash that had me believing he would pull off the upset. They did a ref bumpb, which isn't the norm for Lucha Underground. It allowed Mundo to hit a low blow and the End of the World to win. It was as good as I would want a four minute match to be. Killshot got to look good and Mundo picked up a win. ***

Johnny Mundo has some balls on him as he gets a microphone and calls out Mil Muertes. He says that the earthquake that roughed up Mil as a kid is nothing compared to the End of the World. Cage interrupts, calls Muertes' arm injury a boo boo and says that he'll break Muertes in half. The fans do the "I'M A MACHINE" thing with him but Mundo says Cage isn't in his league. Cage brings up that he beat Mundo in their only ever match and he's willing to do it again now. Mundo exits but then attacks Cage from behind. Cage fights him off and Mundo is sent packing. This was a good way to establish Cage as a face and bring up their season one match.

Our first look at Sexy Star this season happens as she is tied to a chair with wounds all over her. Marty Martinez laughs manically and shows off a butterfly. He says that everything done is for her own good so she can blossom into a beautiful butterfly. His sister says it's almost time for her to fly back to the Temple.

A cool vignette (does Lucha Underground do any other kind) is shown to hype the arrival of PJ Black! He's the "Dare Wolf".

The Mack def. PJ Black in 4:42
For those unaware, PJ Black is the former Justin Gabriel. Black has grown some chest hair to make himself look tougher. Mack is a big fella, but uses his size well and is deceptively athletic. They worked a fine match here and I must say that PJ Black fits into the Lucha Underground world perfectly. Black was given ample time to pull off some cool moves and get the fans into him. He made a crucial mistake as his high flying style cost him. He tried to springboard in but was caught with a midair stunner for the 1-2-3. Yes, Black lost in his debut, but he came off looking good and made sense since he just made a mistake. I expect good thing for him this season. **½
 Up next, we are shown another sweet vignette for a new masked female. She kicks the asses of a bunch of dudes before her name, Kobra Moon, is revealed. She debuts next week.

I'd like to point out that I absolutely LOVE the constant shots of Mil watching over everything.

Non-Title Match: Pentagon Jr. and Prince Puma def. The Disciples of Death w/ Catrina in 7:31
All three members of the Trios Champions are competing tonight. I also love that Melissa Santos still announces Pentagon in a somber tone after he attacked her last season. CONTINUITY! Vampiro did a great job on commentary trying to avoid talking about Pentagon and their connection, while also defending him at every turn. Puma and Pentagon played the uneasy partners, with Pentagon even allowing Puma to take a beating at times. There is a coolness factor about Pentagon that not many other guys in wrestling have. Puma hit the 630 but Pentagon blind tagged himself in and stole the win. A solid match, made better by the story of Puma and Pentagon not getting along. ***¼

Pentagon Jr. and Prince Puma come to blows and Pentagon sets up to break his arm. Puma slips free and Pentagon heads outside to end the Temple portions of the show.

The final thing we see is a man in a hood and El Dragon Azteca's mask. Another man is speaking, saying that it was his destiny to take that mask and become El Dragon Azteca but he took a different path so this new guy will do it. The man speaking reveals himself to be Rey Mysterio.

Overall: 7/10. As is usually the case with a lot of shows, the season premiere is hot and the follow up episode slows things down a bit. That's what this one did but that's not a bad thing. This episode worked to set up some things down the line. We got three enjoyable matches, the Cage/Mundo build, more people coming for Muertes and the seeds planted for Pentagon/Puma down the line. Throw in Vampiro being great in his commentary role and the appearance of Rey Mysterio and you've got a good show.

If you do want to check out Lucha Underground and don't get El Rey Network (like me), you can sign up for the streaming service Fubo.TV. It's a great way to support the company and channel while streaming the show online. Get it right here!

Random Network Reviews: WrestleMania VII

WrestleMania VII
March 24th, 1991 | Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena | Attendance: 16,158

How about that? I pull the rare WrestleMania that I’ve never seen start to finish. I was only a year old when it aired, but have seen the majority of the card over the years. This show has some historical value as it marks the beginning of the Undertaker’s infamous WrestleMania streak. We also see a retirement match between Ultimate Warrior and Randy Savage, while Sgt. Slaughter was in the midst of a turncoat angle that was highly controversial. This is one of those old school 14 match cards, so things should move fast.

We open to a classic promo for the main event that is kept short and sweet. Willie Nelson sings the National Anthem before we go to Gorilla Monsoon on commentary. He introduces “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan to do commentary with him for the first match at least. He is in the most patriotic getup ever.

The Rockers vs. Barbarian and Haku w/ Bobby Heenan
Sean Mooney interviews the Rockers before the match, which is standard stuff, while their opponents get the jobber entrance. The crowd is hot as hell for the Rockers. I worry about the start as Haku applies an early bearhug, but he breaks it quickly so it doesn’t get boring. The future HBK shows off some athleticism to take down Haku. The Rockers do a double hip toss followed by a double elbow and stereo nip ups, only to run into a big clothesline from the Barbarian. They end up taking him out with a double superkick as they look crisp here. Marty wow with an assisted hurricanrana. They go for it again, but the heels are ready and take out Marty with a clothesline/hot shot combo. After that, Marty plays the face in peril for a while. He tries a second rope move but is caught in a big powerslam. Shawn gets the hot tag eventually, and does what you would expect. The Rockers double dropkick Barbarian out of the ring, before a missile dropkick and cross body gets them the win.

Winners: The Rockers in 10:32
Really fun opening contest here. The crowd was red hot throughout it all, the heels played their roles perfectly and the Rockers were great as high flying underdogs. Perfect start for the show. The only real problem was having to listen to Jim Duggan on commentary. ***½

Mean Gene Okerlund interviews our celebrity hosts. Regis Philbin is one and Alex Trebek is another, but I completely zoned out when the female was introduced. Going into the next match, Bobby Heenan has taken over for Duggan on commentary, which is such a vast improvement.

Dino Bravo w/ Jimmy Hart vs. Texas Tornado
This starts fast as Texas Tornado is knocked outside before he can even get his jacket off. It is crazy that Tornado was allowed to have the gear he has when it looks so similar to what Ultimate Warrior wore. As things go inside, Dino does his powerful offense. Tornado kicks out of a side slam, which commentary sells as kind of a big deal. Dino hits an ugly axe handle or something from the second rope. From out of nowhere, Tornado applies the claw. Dino seems to lose consciousness, so Tornado hits the ropes with the tornado punch, wrapping this up.

Winner: Texas Tornado in 3:11
Standard fare stuff. With a fourteen match card, you figure that some matches will be short and nothing special. That’s what we got here. Filler. 

British Bulldog vs. The Warlord w/ Slick
Despite being a pretty poor promo throughout his career, British Bulldog’s pre-match interview is actually really solid here. Gorilla Monsoon tells us this will be a battle of power, which is what we get. It takes about five shoulder blocks but Bulldog is able to knock down the Warlord. They trade shots until Warlord busts out a belly to belly suplex. Slick is pretty entertaining at ringside. He moves to a chinlock while having the ugliest look on his face. Bulldog rallies out behind the crowd, getting in some shots to the BREAD BASKET! Gotta love Gorilla. Old school spot with ten had smashes to the turnbuckle and a cross body earns two. Each guys counters one another a few times, leading to some near falls. Warlord hits a big boot and applies his full nelson which Bulldog mentioned in his interview. Warlord believes that Bulldog can’t break it, so of course, Bulldog does indeed break it. He moves into the running powerslam and earns the win.

Winner: British Bulldog in 8:13
Better than I expected. British Bulldog was just starting his singles run and this was a good starting point. The power battle was fun, while the story of who has the better finisher was well done. **¾

WWF Tag Team Championship
The Hart Foundation (c) vs. The Nasty Boys w/ Jimmy Hart

Interesting note for tonight as it marks the final WrestleMania tag matches for both Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels. The Nasty Boys were relatively new to the WWF after jumping from WCW. Bret starts with Jerry Saggs, just outwrestling and outsmarting him. The crowd is hot as Anvil gets tagged and pounds away on Brian Knobbs. He sends both heels packing. Anvil was good at playing the powerhouse role. The Foundation are just kicking the Nasty Boys around until Knobbs gets in a cheap shot to turn the tide. They work the heat on Bret for a while though it is rather dull. I mean, they do four camel clutch like moves in the span of about four minutes. The Harts give us a few false hot tags before Jim Neidhart is officially in and cleans house. They hit the Hart Attack but a distraction allows a cheap shot with the Nasty Boys helmet, and the three count on Neidhart for the upset.

Winners and New WWF Tag Team Champions: The Nasty Boys in 12:08
Pretty good match here except for the boring and sluggish middle portion. At the time, this was a pretty shocking result, adding to the overall match. Seriously though, if we were just counting the beginning and end, this would be much higher. **¾

Blindfold Match
Jake Roberts vs. Rick Martel

Here we have a rather infamous match that a ton of people hate. This had been building for a really long time, which I appreciate. The crowd is very into it, trying to guide Jake Roberts to Rick Martel. The psychology here is pretty good early on actually. Obviously there isn’t much action as it’s all about Roberts trying to find Martel. In present day, this wouldn’t work as the crowd would crap on it, but the audience was totally into this. Finally, Jake is able to hit the DDT and pick up the victory.

Winner: Jake Roberts in 8:33
I didn’t hate that the way a lot of folks do. Granted, it had little to no action, but I found it rather fun to watch Jake Roberts use the crowd to find Rick Martel. Speaking of the crowd, they play a big part here in helping make this fun. 

After the match, Jake Roberts puts the snake on Rick Martel, causing him to run scared. Damien is a pretty huge snake. We go to Marla Maples backstage. I guess she was the celebrity chick from earlier that I missed. She tries to interview the Nasty Boys but it’s just debauchery as all of the Jimmy Hart clients celebrate with champagne.

Jimmy Snuka vs. The Undertaker w/ Paul Bearer
Gorilla Monsoon calls Jimmy Snuka the “Phenom” before we start, which is interesting. It’s crazy to think this was at a time where Undertaker was only four months into his run. I expect standard early 90’s Undertaker stuff. As a character he was incredible but for the most part, he moved like a zombie in the ring. He shuts me up a bit with a nice leaping clothesline. Snuka tries to rally but is knocked outside and suplexed back in. Snuka makes a big mistake when trying to springboard at Undertaker. He gets caught, leading to a Tombstone and the Streak begins.

Winner: The Undertaker in 4:19
Historic match considering it is the start of the infamous Streak. However, the match itself isn’t very good. Jimmy Snuka was way past his prime and the Undertaker wasn’t at a point where he put on great matches yet. *

Retirement Match
Macho King w/ Queen Sherri vs. The Ultimate Warrior

Before the entrances, Elizabeth is spotted in the audience. Ultimate Warrior and Macho King trade stuff early, with Warrior using his power to gain an advantage. Sherri continually tries to get involved and it fails. Things get personal as Warrior slaps Macho right in the face, causing him to step outside and regroup. The crowd being on the edge of their seats is not just a saying here, it is absolutely true. A cheap shot from Sherri followed by a double axe handle on the outside swings this in Macho’s favor. They do so much with little things like their looks and mannerisms. Warrior’s face pain is pretty much completely gone at this point. We get the classic double clothesline spot and both guys are down. Warrior gets a small package but Sherri distracts the referee. As he complains, Macho drives his knee into Warrior, which then leads to a ref bump. Sherri leaps from the top with her shoe but hits Macho instead. The referee is up rather quickly and Macho is back in control just as soon which is odd. Macho hits FIVE ELBOW DROPS IN A ROW but somehow Warrior kicks out! Warrior begins to hulk up and hits the press slam/splash finish. Savage is able to get his shoulder up though! The crowd is losing their damn minds right now. Savage now wants to do a double axe handle while Warrior is on the guardrail but he moves and the Macho King crashes and burns. Inside, Warrior hits three shoulder blocks to finally end Savage.

Winner: Ultimate Warrior in 20:46
Excellent match right here. Best match in Warrior’s career and one of the greatest in WrestleMania history to this day. The drama, in-ring work, storytelling, build, near falls and everything was tremendously done. *****

Queen Sherri is pissed after the match and begins to yell at Macho King. She even gets in some kicks on the fallen and now retired Superstar. Elizabeth sees enough and hops the guardrail to make the save. She pulls Sherri off by the hair and throws her out of the ring before checking on Savage, who thinks it’s still Sherri. He finally notices who it is, as the crowd is waiting in anticipation. They see the tears in Elizabeth’s eyes and they want it. They get it as they hug! The moment is incredible. There are tons of fans bawling their eyes out, telling you how great this storytelling is. They reenact the WrestleMania IV pose and Savage even holds the ropes for her to exit, which is the opposite of how they would do it when he was a heel.

We get a series of interviews conducted by Alex Trebek and Regis Philbin. It’s like an intermission of sorts.

Demolition w/ Mr. Fuji vs. Genichiro Tenryu and Koji Kaito
This is not the same Demolition that was awesome in the late 80’s. They no longer have the awesome theme music and this is the bastardized version featuring Crush. The crowd doesn’t seem to care much for them either, though most are still in the bathroom or on line to get food. The match is nothing special as the two teams seem unenthused and most of the moves look sloppy. The best thing is hearing Bobby and Gorilla’s exchange over the names of the Japanese wrestlers. A powerbomb earns the win for the foreigners, sending Demolition into obscurity.

Winners: Genichiro Tenryu and Koji Kaito in 4:41
Not very good but at least it was kept short. Both teams seemed to be going through the motions and just looking to collect a paycheck. *

Interviews come for Big Bossman and Mr. Perfect. Bossman’s is fine work as he is intense and still pissed about Rick Rude disrespecting his mother. Perfect is…well…perfect. He absolutely nailed that gimmick.

WWF Intercontinental Championship
Mr. Perfect (c) w/ Bobby Heenan vs. Big Bossman

Bossman had run through every member of the Heenan Family and the Intercontinental Champion was the crown jewel at the finish line. Bossman slaps Perfect, who oversells, before getting tossed around the ring for a bit. Perfect weathers the hot start by the agile Bossman. I miss the little heel tactics that guys would use, like Perfect does when he uses the ropes for leverage on a simple chinlock. The crowd bites on a near fall as Bossman counters the Perfecplex into a small package. Perfect does a neck snap that looks like it could have hurt Bossman. Bossman comes back and pulls Perfect crotch first into the ring post. The momentum swings again when Bossman is sent into the steel steps and Heenan gets in some cheap stomps. Andre the Giant walks out to even the odds. He’s moving much better than expected for this time period in his life. He grabs the IC Title so Perfect complains to the referee. Bossman gets a near fall, leading to the Heenan Family coming out and causing the disqualification.

Winner via disqualification: Big Bossman in 10:26
Solid outing here. I thought both guys worked hard for the duration until the end. The finishing sequence was kind of just Perfect standing around and Bossman on his back. That ending hurt the score, but still not bad. **¾

Big Bossman and Andre the Giant send the Heenan Family packing so the fans aren’t upset.

Earthquake w/ Jimmy Hart vs. Greg Valentine
During the entrances, Mean Gene shows us the celebrities in the crowd including Donald Trump, Chuck Norris, Lou Ferrigno and Henry Winkler. As for the match, I’m seriously disinterested in it. Earthquake squashes him with an early slam but only gets two. It’s basically a squash match as Hammer only gets in a few offensive moves before Earthquake puts him down.

Winner: Earthquake in 3:16
An extended squash match. I guess they used it as a placeholder match but it was pretty pointless. ¼*

The Legion of Doom vs. Power and Glory
This is the WrestleMania debut for the Legion of Doom. They had recently finished off Demolition in a feud and beat Power and Glory here in less than a damn minute with the Doomsday Device.

Winners: The Legion of Doom in 0:58
I can’t really give this a score because it is far too short. NO RATING.

Ted Dibiase vs. Virgil w/ Roddy Piper
At the Royal Rumble, Virgil turned on his former master to a MASSIVE ovation. Roddy Piper is limping due to a motorcycle accident that Heenan classically calls a tricycle accident because his skirt got stuck in the bike chain. Virgil starts hot and does an odd handshake with Piper that they clearly never planned. Dibiase stalls a lot to avoid Virgil’s offense. Dibiase knocks Piper out of the chair and its hilarious how he struggles to get up. Unfortunately, the cameramen focus far too much on Piper, which takes away from the match. Dibiase ends up jawing with Piper a bit too much outside and gets counted out.

Winner via countout: Virgil in 7:35
I get that they were holding this off until SummerSlam, but shouldn’t the blow off be at WrestleMania? Anyway, the match was rather dull and I wasn’t a fan. 

After the match, Ted Dibiase locks the Million Dollar Dream on Virgil until Roddy Piper intervenes. This brings out Sensational Sherri, who aligns herself with Dibiase and they take out Piper.

The Mountie w/ Jimmy Hart vs. Tito Santana
Can you believe that the Mountie character would be Intercontinental Champion, even for a few days, in under a year? Tito Santana was nearing the end of his run before turning into El Matador. They do some short sequences before Mountie uses the shocker on Tito and steals a quick win.

Winner: The Mountie in 1:21
Much like the Earthquake match, this was just a squash. It gets a new heel over a relatively established face and does it quickly. *

WWF Championship
Sgt. Slaughter (c) w/ General Adnan vs. Hulk Hogan

The heat here is insane as this was a very controversial angle. As one would expect, Hulk Hogan starts hot because, AMERICA! Adnan tries to get involved several times, but Hogan knocks him down each time because he sucks so badly. Hogan is just beating Slaughter from pillar to post right now. He makes the mistake of going up top and takes the Flair bump to turn the tide. Slaughter pounds on Hogan with a steel chair and chokes him with cables outside but Earl Hebner isn’t calling for the bell. He continues to beat on Hogan, even applying the Boston crab. Adnan tries to heel it up and assist but he just holds Slaughter’s head in an odd way. Slaughter hits Hogan right in the head with a chair, leading to one of the more obvious blade jobs in history. I have no idea why the referee hasn’t called a DQ. The camel clutch gets locked in, which looks cooler with Hogan’s bloody face. Hogan won’t quit so Slaughter ends up trying a pin with the Iraq flag but Hogan kicks out and rips it in half. It’s HULK UP time. You know what comes next and we have a new champion.

Winner and New WWF Champion: Hulk Hogan in 20:22Another match that exceeded my expectations. Granted, it wasn't great but it was pretty solid. Hulk Hogan did what he was supposed to early before giving Slaughter a good chunk of offense and making the comeback for America. Basic but the atmosphere bumps it up a notch. ***

Overall: 7/10; Good. When a show has fourteen matches, I don’t have high hopes. However, this was rather enjoyable. It moved briskly despite clocking in at over three hours. The Retirement match is an absolute must see classic, while the WWF Title and a few other matches are good stuff. If this was cut down by three or four matches it really could have been something special. Instead it’s a good but not great WrestleMania. Up next for “Random Network Reviews” will be King of the Ring 2001!