Note: for those who do not or have not yet fully learnt to speak Wrestling (it’s not my first language either but I’m going to try) I’ve put translations in the footnotes.
American Professional Wrestling IS negativity – non-fans think it’s daft and fans hate everything current and pick apart everything that’s old – so it’s a bit like comic books really only without the hit movies to make them seem cool to all the uncool kids – the only people who seem to be positive about ‘Sports Entertainment’ is kids – and they buy Roman Reigns wrestling buddies and John Cena t-shirts so what do they know? I’m at best a casual fan of Wrestling so maybe I’m not as invested as the smartest of Smarks1 but fuck it, I can’t be doing with all the misery so I decided to pick a year at random and find lots of good matches from it, I didn’t do this with the intention of making a blog post out of it, I did it because I wanted to see some good examples of men and women whacking the shit out of each other, or half-pretending to. The year I picked is 1994 – why? Again absolutely no reason, I just put the first WCW pay-per-view2 I could think of (Bash at the Beach) into Google and chose a result at random, that result was a review of Bash at the Beach 1994, so 1994 became the year. And what a year: 1994 was the year that Hulk Hogan signed to WCW, ECW broke away from the NWA3 and Vince McMahon went to court on charges of supplying steroids to his employees.
The State of Wrestling: in January 1994 American Professional Wrestling is dominated by two promotions4 – WCW and WWF. Hulk Hogan has left the WWF in 1993 and a result of being investigated for supplying steroids Vince McMahon has dumped anyone who might be ‘on the juice’ from his company – including Ultimate Warrior, The British Bulldog and Warlord, Jake the Snake and Jimmy Snuka are also gone, though Macho Man Randy Savage is still at the company, its flagship show5 is Monday Night Raw. Over at WCW, Eric Bishoff has become Executive Vice President, meaning he pretty much runs the whole promotion and puts him in roughly an equivalent role to Vince McMahon, his first year (1993) was a bit of a disaster. Also, as an aside, Word wants to correct ‘Bishoff’ to ‘Scoff’, how appropriate. WCW’s flagships show is WCW Saturday Night. Meanwhile in Philadelphia, ECW, now under the command of Paul Heyman, is taking off, moving away from presenting standard wrestling shows to ‘extreme’ wrestling mixing edgy and current stories and character with brutal violence and top quality in-ring work, by the end of the year it will be the number 3 promotion in the industry and the darling of the ‘Smart’ set the country over, it’s flagship and only show is ECW Hardcore TV.
We’ll start with the WWF and I was most surprised to find out that it was the promotion that put on the least supercards in 1994 – with just the 6 big Pay-Per-Views compared to WCW’s 10 (plus 3 WCW Clash of Champions - which are just pay-per-views you don’t pay to view). The big new thing for the company is the new weekly show Action Zone, which I was pleasantly surprised with, it was a b-show and nothing of note happened but I saw a lot of enjoyable matches and it was home to two of the best of the year, it was far better than ‘Superstars in fact, of course there was much less of it than Superstars this year and it was out to make a good impression, but hey that’s a positive, the new b-show was debuting and out to make an impression, that’s almost certainly why most of their good workers were put on it against each other, you may not be excited about a tag team matches featuring the 1-2-3 Kid and the Body Donnas but that’s X-Pac and Chris Candido flipping around each other and X-Pac is neither high (well, maybe not) nor the owner of a broken neck, boredom ain’t gonna happen. Here’s the list of matches my research yielded:
Marty Jannetty & The 1-2-3 Kid vs The Quebecers – January 10th Raw
Razor Ramon vs The 1-2-3 Kid – February 21st Raw
Owen Hart & Bret Hart vs the Quebecers – Royal Rumble 1994
Yokozuna vs Macho Man Randy Savage – February 28th Raw
Owen Hart vs Bret Hart – Wrestlemania X
Shawn Michaels vs Razor Ramon – Wrestlemania X
Jeff Jaret, Rick Martel & The Headshrinkers vs Tatanka, 1-2-3 Kid, Sparky Plugg & The Smoking Gunns – 4th of April Raw
Owen Hart vs Doink the Clown – May 23rd Raw
Owen Hart vs The 1-2-3 Kid – King of the Ring 1994
Bret Hart vs Diesel – King of the Ring 1994
Bret Hart vs The 1-2-3 Kid – July 11th Raw
Bret Hart vs Bob Backlund – July 30th WWF Superstars of Wrestling
Alundra Blaze vs Bull Nakano – August 1st Raw
Razor Ramon vs Shawn Michaels – August 1st Raw
Alundra Blaze vs Bull Nakano – SummerSlam 1994
Owen Hart vs Bret Hart – SummerSlam 1994
Bret Hart vs Owen Hart – September 29th Action Zone
Shaw Michaels & Diesel vs Razor Ramon & The 1-2-3 Kid – October 20th Action Zone
Diesel, Shawn Michaels, Jeff Jarret & Jim Neidhart vs Razor Ramon, 1-2-3 Kid, British Bulldog & The Headshrinkers – Survivor Series 1994
Bret Hart vs Bob Backlund – Survivor Series 1994
Bret & Owen Hart vs The Steiner Brothers – Wrestlefest ’94 VHS
Undertaker vs The Brooklyn Brawler – December 24th Raw
Research was a little easier for WWF because they recently released a spanking good DVD covering the first two years of Raw, which happened to be 1993 and 1994, that DVD is Raw the Beginning: The Best of Seasons 1 & 2 and you need to own it. My list is a good showing of the good in 1994 if you’re a WWF viewer... and also the bad. The good is: there was a fantastic match on every Pay-Per-View put out by the ‘Federation this year - in fact what it doesn’t get across is that many of the matches on those shows were enjoyable even if they weren’t in the four-to-five star range7 – but fuck the star rating system; despite this being in the Pre-Nitro8 days when most weekly TV was squash matches9 and filler like chat shows, there was a shitload of good matches on Raw; even though all of the singles stars from the Hogan-era are either gone, still around but functionally useless or stuck on commentary after Wrestlemania; The Kliq10 are filling up the mid-card and Bret Hart is champion and his main feuds are with Owen Hart and Bob Backlund, meaning that at least half of the six best workers on the roster (and some of the best workers of the decade) are going to be on every episode of Raw, most episodes of Superstars and Action Zone (even if it’s only 1-2-3 Kid) and all of them are going to be on every pay-per-view; this is the year the WWF were trying to resurrect their woman’s division and doing so with Alundra Blayze and Bull Nakano, two fantastic wrestlers. The bad of course is the flip of this: the same 7 to 8 people are pretty much carrying the company, look how many matches have the word ‘Hart’ in them up there, while the only match worth recommending by The Undertaker is a squash match that I’ve put on their only because watching ‘Taker knock the fuck out of the greatest Jobber11 of all time makes me so happy I had to do it. Also what the fuck is Wrestlefest?
So what are we are looking at here? Well first and foremost we have the storyline that even the most jaded of fans will admit saved this year from being like, well, like the next – Bret Hart versus real-life brother Owen Hart; the feud kicks off when Owen betrays Bret at the end of their excellent tag team match against fellow Canadians the Quebecers at the Royal Rumble by (yes I’m going to say it) kicking his leg out of his leg12, moved on to steal the show when opening Wrestlemania X and then culminate in a Steel Cage Match finale at SummerSlam, Bret would then go on to feud with Bob Backlund, an old WWF star from the days before Hulkamania ran wild but nether-the-less had a couple of stellar matches with the Excellence of Execution. During the feud Bret Hart was World Champion and had to defend his title, including against Diesel, Lex Luger and Yokozuna, though sadly Yokozuna was putting on weight by the minute and was nowhere near as mobile as he once was (Bret and Yoko’ had a main event match at Wrestlemania, it was…alright), Randy Savage however was able to get a ‘this shouldn’t be this good but actually is’ match out of Yokozuna on Raw. Three Superstars who were being served particularly badly by the bookers13 and writers were Undertaker, Doink the Clown and the aforementioned Macho Man,; Savage wrestled his last WWF match (an average bout against Crush) at Wrestlemania and was then confined to commentary on McMahon’s orders, eventually leading him to leave and go wrestle crappy matches at WCW. Doink, once able to be described as ‘the wrestling Joker’ had already been given Dink, a comedy dwarf wrestler dressed just like him, been replaced by a different wrestler under the costume and turned face by the year’s beginning, the three things fan point to as killing off the character. Still at least early on he was involved in a feud with Bam Bam Bigelow and Luna Vachon14 leading to a wonderful match at ‘Mania where Luna beat the shit out of Dink – I love Luna, if you imagine Rita Repulsa and Xena merged then dressed like Mad Max Barbie you’re pretty much there, and I love her more knowing that she hammered a comedy character I hate, if only she’d’ve come back and stomped Hornswaggle to death. Undertaker meanwhile was out of action for half the year to heal and spend time with his wife, he was written off mid-feud with Yokozuna only to have their finale (a rubbish match at Survivor Series) postponed while he dealt with a fake Undertaker (in another rubbish match, this time at SummerSlam). How did they write him off for a few months? In the most amazingly ridiculous way possible: he had a Casket Match15 with Yoko (it was alright) at the Royal Rumble, then just about every heel16 came out and…killed him off, after dying in his own casket (shown via casketcam) while soliloquying he (well it was Marty Janetty of The Rockers dressed up) LEVITATED and ROSE UP TO THE HEAVENS. Many fans dislike this, I think it’s smashing, unnecessary and ridiculous but smashing nonetheless, I was 8 in 1994 and nothing less than this would have been satisfactory as a way to kill off the Deadman. ]
Meanwhile the Kliq were…well they were the mid-card17, bouncing around from feud to feud, often with themselves but sometimes with a few others like IRS and Bret Hart; Shawn Michaels wasn’t quite a headliner yet but his former bodyguard Diesel was on his way to being pushed as Vince McMahon’s next attempt at recreating Hulk Hogan (Lex Luger and Ultimate Warrior having both failed), it wouldn’t work but at the time Diesel was legitimately popular even if he was the poorest worker of his four friends, still if you have people like Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart to work with you don’t have to worry too much. 1-2-3 Kid was all over WWF TV, genuinely popular with fans, genuinely a good wrestler and known as the standard for the WWF wrestling style he was used for everything from showing off new talent like Jeff Jarret to being put with talented older hands on the 85% chance they’d make something good happen, our match list shows all four of the Kliq in their highest high spots for the year: Diesel being taken by Bret Hart to a great match at King of the Ring that everyone seems to love but I am seemingly incapable of retaining any information about; a blistering match between the ‘Kid and Owen Hart on the same show that should be the reference point for every short match ever wrestled from then on and Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon’s now famous (in the fandom) Ladder Match at Wrestlemania X, I personally think it’s been outdone by later Ladder and Tables, Ladders & Chairs matches but that doesn’t mean that this one isn’t a stormer. The whole Kliq then get to have a four-way match on the new Action Zone that probably requires fan knowledge of their friendship (and later dominance in the company)18 for maximum enjoyment but the sheer level of talent displayed should keep any viewer happy, unless long hair on men makes you physically sick of course.
Wrestlefest was a series of VHS tapes released throughout the early-to-mid 1990s that featured exclusive content; dubbed ‘The Video Event’, Wrestlefest ’94 contained a cult favourite tag team match that has now become more and more accepted as an all-time classic thanks to the internet. That is a fantastic match between Bret and Owen Hart and the Scott and Rick Steiner (who were also real-life brothers) during their brief defection from WCW to the World Wrestling Federation.
Speaking of which, off to WCW then and this was really a big year for them, the year can be split almost completely in two; Pre-Hogan and Post-Hogan and yeah, it was a hell of a lot better before the Hulkster. Hulk had left the WWF in 1993 (refusing to lose to Bret Hard on the way out) but was filming a terrible movie (Thunder in Paradise) at the same place WCW was being filmed since Bishoff’s arrival at the company which was…wait for it…Disney’s MGM Studios theme park (funnily enough TNA is now filmed literally down the road – International Drive – at Universal Studios Florida) and Bishoff got Ted Turner (owner of WCW) to pay Hogan a huge amount of money per year and gave him ‘creative control’ – meaning he had final say in his stories and any connected to them, meaning he had final say over just about everything. He used this to get all of his friends jobs and make sure he stayed a headliner who looked essential to the company regardless of how it affected the shows, business or any other wrestler. Here’s the matches research gave me that I now give to you:
Lord Steven Regal vs Dustin Rhodes – Clash of the Champions XXVI
Sting & Rick Flair vs Vader & Ravishing Rick Rude – Clash of the Champions XXVI
Rick Rude, Stunning Steve Austin & Paul Orndorf vs Sting, Dustin Rhodes & Brian Pillman – Superbrawl 1994
Cactus Jack & Maxx Payne vs The Nasty Boys – Spring Stampede 1994
Vader vs The Boss – Spring Stampede 1994
Ricky Steamboat vs Rick Flair – Spring Stampede 1994
Rick Flair vs Lord Steven Regal – 1st of May WCW Worldwide
Terry Funk vs Tully Blanchard – Slamboree 1994
The Nasty Boys vs Cactus Jack & Kevin Sullivan – Slamboree 1994
Sting vs Big Van Vader – Slamboree 1994
Rick Flair vs Ricky Steamboat – 14th of May WCW Saturday Night
Lord Steven Regal vs Larry Zbyszko – 28th of May WCW Saturday Night
Lord Steven Regal vs Larry Zbyszko – Clash of the Champions XXVII
Stunning Steve Austin vs Johnny B. Badd – Clash of the Champions XXVII
Sting vs Rick Flair – Clash of the Champions XXVII
Stunning Steve Austin vs Ricky Steamboat – Bash at the Beach 1994
Rick Flair vs Hulk Hogan – Bash at the Beach 1994
Stunning Steve Austin vs Ricky Steamboat – Clash at the Champions XXVIII
Terry Funk & Bunkhouse Buck vs Dustin Rhodes & Dusty Rhodes - Clash at the Champions XXVIII
Lord Steven Regal vs Johnny B. Badd – Fall Brawl 1994
Sting vs Big Van Vader – Fall Brawl 1994
Arn Anderson vs Dustin Rhodes – Halloween Havoc 1994
Vader vs The Guardian Angel – Halloween Havoc 1994
Vader vs Dustin Rhodes – Clash of the Champions XXIX
Fuerza Guerra, Madonna’s Boyfriend & Psicosis vs Rey Mysterio, Heavy Metal & Latin Lover – When World’s Collide
Pegasus Kid, 2 Cold Scorpio & Tito Santanna vs Jerry Estrada, La Parka & Blue Panther – When Worlds Collide
Art Barr & Eddie Guerrero vs El Hijo del Santo & Octagon – When Worlds Collide
Jim Duggan vs Big Van Vader – Starrcade 1994
You can really see the good dwindle once Hogan turns up, leading to the saddest state of all – Starrcade’s only match is a ‘this shouldn’t be this good but is actually is’ match that opened the show, WCW’s Wrestlemania and all I can recommend is a match with fucking Hacksaw Jim Duggan. It’s a real shame too because just going by that list you can see how much talent WCW had in the first few months of the year. While WWF, considered WWF’s superior by everyone including WCW, was relying on eight or less people Dubya See Dubya had Sting, Big Van Vader, Rick Flair, Arn Anderson, Johnny B. Badd (Marc Mero when he was good), Ricky Steamboat, Rick Rude, Steve Austin, Brian Pillman, Dustin Rhodes (Goldust), Cactus Jack (Mick Foley), Steven Regal, The Nasty Boys, The Big Bossman (as variously The Boss, The Guardian Angel and Big Bubba) and fucking Terry Funk – they also had Booker T hanging around too, that’s a hell of a roster and with the smarter booking and writing they had (after 1993’s madness and stupidity) it was working, Spring Stampede and Slamboree were fantastic. Then Hogan arrives and this awesome roster dwindles, well, ok Rude and Steamboat weren’t Hulk’s fault – both got legitimate career-ending injuries, Rude before Hogan actually arrived. But Hogan’s creative control, Hogan’s friends and Hogan’s insistence on working with people who could wrestle matches to his liking drove most of the rest away and cut the legs off of those who stayed, even Sting and Rick Flair, the faces of WCW. Vader, Badd, Austin, Pillman, Rhodes, Regal and Bossman all went to WWF, Cactus and Funk to ECW before ending up in WWF as well. The only thing to buck this trend was When World’s Collide, an oddity in WCW’s schedule that produced what is considered to be the best match of year and weirdly featured several future WCW stars who would be part of an almost entirely different roster driven away by Hogan and The Outsiders: Psicosis, Rey Mysterio, Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero. When World’s Collide was effectively a special crossover issue between WCW and two Mexican companies: AAA and IWC and that match of the year? Art Barr & Eddie Guerrero vs El Hijo del Santo & Octagon, even before he was with them Eddie was the best thing in the WCW or WWF – satisfying.
So what are we looking at, other than a derailment of a whole promotion by one very famous, very average wrestler? Not much really – The Hollywood Blondes had been split up and now Stunning Steve Austin was a rising heel star and Flying Brian Pillman was a babyface who was further down the card and yes it’s very weird to talk about The Loose Cannon and the Rattlesnake in their previous lives. Austin was basically feuding with anyone who’d take him on, first Johnny B. Badd who was becoming very popular and working his way up through talented workers and then Austin settled into a feud with Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat until the Dragon damaged his back at Clash at the Champions XXVIII. The injury cost Steamboat, one of the best wrestlers around, his career but also put an end to Austin’s WCW tenure as well, Hulk Hogan’s good friend Jim Duggan was Steamboat’s replacement and was booked to beat Austin, ruining his credibility in rubbish matches before Duggan had an actually decent match against Vader at Starrcade, in fact he carried Vader who frankly couldn’t give a shit. It’s really nice for me to be able to recommend a Duggan match with one of my favourite wrestlers, I’ve always liked Duggan but his in-ring skills have never really matched up to my casual fondness for him. Currently a face, Rick Flair was a little unfocussed, he was on the fringes of all the big feuds at the time, or just having great matches with Ricky Steamboat because he was booking and liked doing that, Hogan’s arrival actually put him in focus again: he turned heel and unified the two WCW Championships19 in an as-always above par match with Sting at Clash of the Champions XXVII so that Hogan could win the one-true championship (no, really) and then had a trilogy of matches with the Hulkster as his first feud with the company. A little hotshotted20 but there was no one who didn’t want to see these two have a bunch of main event matches, especially as WWF had failed to deliver when Flair was with them for a short while21, and it certainly introduced Hogan with a bang. Their first (at Bash at the Beach 1994) was great and perhaps Hogan’s finest WCW match, their last (Halloween Havoc) was more than acceptable, the second (Clash of the Champions XXVIII) was… meh. Hogan would go on to feud with another friend of his who you know as Brutus Beefcake but was, I think, The Butcher at this point (which is mostly why Starrcade 1994 sucked) before being put in a brief programmed with Vader in 1995 until he cried like a little girl with a skinned knee ‘n shit because Vader is a stiff motherfucker22, still you got to see Hogan get bashed around by Vader for a little while. Vader for his part was feuding with Big Bossman, who came to the company this year originally wrestling as the very derivative Boss and Guardian Angel until WWF put their foot down and he became Big Bubba Rogers, thankfully he’d fuck off back to the WWF in a few years and be undeniably awesome, being able to see these two fight and fight in good matches, even by the star system, made me so happy.
The other big feuds were between two stables that ended up tying into the Terry Funk/Dusty Rhodes feud of the 1970s and teaming Rhodes with his son for the payoff at Clash at the Champions XXVIII, and between Cactus Jack, his plus one and the Nasty Boys. The official god of wrestling and future Mankind had some fucking wars with The Nasty Boys throughout the first part of the year, including the critically acclaimed street fight at Spring Stampede. As for Steven Regal, eh, he had all sorts of short feuds that allowed him to fight Johnny B. Badd, Larry Zbyszko (if you had a name that complicated to spell you change it for a stage name wouldn’t you?) and Rick Flair so really I don’t care how he got there, he actually had a couple of consecutive great matches with Rick Flair on WCW Worldwide and a great match and then great rematch with Zbyszko, this isn’t surprising given the people involved but it is worth mentioning. I will also say that coverage of WCW Saturday Night and WCW Worldwide is pretty bad online, oh you can get results and match lists but very few reviews and I couldn’t be arsed to watch them all through, especially once Hogan, Duggan, Honky, Beefcake and so on arrived.
So that just leaves ECW, whose output looks similar on paper but was actually a little different – they didn’t have any pay-per-views this year but did still have special supercards throughout that worked the same way (just like in the old days, how ironic), not all of them were televised (though all ECW shows were recorded by ‘fancam’). I know and care very little about Eee-See-Dub, neither their edgiest characters nor their gorehound elements appeal to me and their fans make me fucking angry, there are wrestlers there I greatly like – Shane Douglas, Cactus Jack, Terry Funk and Raven for instance but there’s a lot I’m not fond of, though much of that came in later years. 1994 was the year that ECW ascended and as such the things that ECW became notorious for haven’t become commonplace. In fact I was disappointed when reading through the reviews of ECW Hardcore TV how much like WWF Superstars their shows were, filled with short squash matches that generally reviewed fairly poorly. Still it was a company settling into a style and getting into their stride, and I still found a bunch of good stuff to recommend, even if not all of it is exactly to my tastes:
Awesome Mike Awesome vs JT Smith – The Night the Line was Crossed
Public Enemy vs The Bruise Brothers – The Night the Line Was Crossed
Terry Funk vs Sabu vs Shane Douglas – The Night the Line was Crossed
Sabu vs Tazmaniac - 15th March ECW Hardcore TV
Kevin Sullivan & Tazmaniac vs Superfly Jimmy Snuka & RJ Powers – 19th April ECW Hardcore TV
Sabu vs Terry Funk – 19th April ECW Hardcore TV
Mikey Whipwreck vs The Pitball – May 17 ECW Hardcore
The Sandman vs Tommy Dreamer - When World’s Collide 1994
Terry Funk & Arn Anderson vs Sabu & Bobby Eaton - When Worlds Collide 1994
Sabu vs 2 Cold Scorpio – June 14 ECW Hardcore TV
Cactus Jack vs Sabu – Hostile City Showdown 1994
Shane Douglas vs Sabu – Heatwave 1994
Cactus Jack & Mikey Whipwreck vs Public Enemy – September 6 ECW Hardcore TV
Tommy Dreamer vs The Sandman – October 18 ECW Hardcore TV
Cactus Jack vs Sabu – October 18 ECW Hardcore TV
Dean Malenko vs 2 Cold Scorpio – November 29, ECW Hardcore TV
This was a really big year for the company and even though I’m not an ECW fan, experiencing it – even through bits and pieces – did excite me. Though I found it ultimately disappointing that the talent they had here didn’t lead to more recommended matches, it might have been different if some of the later supercards in the year were on anything but fancam I suppose? What we do have is the rise of characters who would be synonymous with the promotion and/or did their best work there. The first to ascended to hardcore legends are The Franchise Shane Douglas and Sabu, who got the rub23 from Terry Funk on The Night the Line was Crossed, by the time their sixty minute match ended in a draw, fans accepted them as legitimate headliners. Sabu went off to feud with anyone Paul Heyman thought he could have a good match with, eventually ending up in a popular feud with Cactus Jack that lead to a critically lauded match at Hostile City Showdown and then an even better thought of rematch on ECW Hardcore TV. Shane Douglas on the other hand went to give birth to Extreme Championship Wrestling by winning an NWA World Title Tournament on August 27, 1994 and then disrespecting the belt, throwing it on the floor. The next day ECW broke away from the NWA and became Extreme Championship Wrestling. Then there was ‘Miracle Mikey’ – Mikey Whipwreck was a dorky, useless fellow who through all kinds of (often miraculous) events kept winning in spite of himself, his ‘lack of talent’24 and his utter cowardice and he started to win belts, he became a successful part of a tag team with Cactus Jack and fought ECW’s biggest stars at the time, Public Enemy. Though his singles matches were usually short (such as his ‘battle’ with Pitbull that won him his first belt, recommended here) they were usually very entertaining and more like sketches or skits than matches really and as such are and exception to my ‘Less Than Three Minutes: Can’t be Fucked’ rule.
Meanwhile a more traditional feud was happening between one Tommy Dreamer and one The Sandman and their valets Peaches and Woman, a feud that would in fact make Tommy Dreamer. Dreamer had really failed to be the babyface ECW wanted him to be, fans just didn’t like him, he didn’t get over25, much as Sandman had done before when he was still as surfer - this feud changed all that, specifically their match on When World’s Collide when Dreamer let Sandman batter him with his (Sandy’s) trademark cane. What followed was a series of mostly cane-based matches of severely varying quality as they had an intense feud that also sort of developed into a love… diamond via the machinations of their sneaky valets. Dreamer and Sandman are alright (sometimes) but what really makes this feud so enjoyable for me is the heavy involvement of Woman – I’m such a mark for Nancy Sullivan/Benoit (yeah… she’s that Benoit26), I love her as a Satanist with Kevin Sullivan and I love her as the vicious Miss Elizabeth she is here – and she was so gorgeous in 1994. As well as Taz running around using his Tazmaniac gimmick there was also a WCW invasion brought about as a settlement when WCW (unknowingly I believe) used ‘When World’s Collide’ for their crossover show, it was an existing trademark of ECW. This allowed old hands like The Funk Brothers, Arn Anderson and Beautiful Bobby Eaton to have some matches in more modern (and violent) times.
It wasn’t all good – people like Jimmy Snuka and Hawk of the Road Warriors were hanging around and not doing their best work, there was a lot of short shitty matches (even on their supercards) and ECW had not yet become friends with ‘production values’, plus Raven wouldn’t debut until 1995, but we’re about the good in this article and there was a surprisingly large amount of it, the Funk Brothers also had a no-rope-barbed-wire deathmatch at Heatwave with Public Enemy but that’s exactly the sort of shit I can do without, hence why it’s not recommended, however it IS the Funk Brothers and Public Enemy and reviewed very well, so if you’re more into the old ultra-violence than me, give it a look.
So what was the point of all this? Well aside from seeing how many footnotes I could fit into one article it was just to share a list of good with you all, and as I’ve done that, I’m going to bed, nite all.
1. Short for a ‘Smart Mark’, which translates roughly to someone who knows its fake but still joins in but it basically means ‘Real Fan’, I hate the term.
2 special ‘supercards’ (a larger show of mostly important, anticipated or potentially impressive wrestling matches) shown only on pay-per-view television, at least until the inevitable DVD release, or VHS release in this case.
3 The National Wrestling Alliance, think of it as a union for Wrestling Promotions, once upon a time it dictated most of what happened in American Professional Wrestling but was defanged by Vince McMahon’s WWF (who was not a member) and the huge success it had.
4 ‘Promotion’ is just Wrestlespeak for company, why they can’t use ‘company’ like everyone else I don’t know.
5 each of WCW and WWF have multiple shows produced for different channels on different types of American television (think of it as the difference between being on BB1 and Sky One if you’re British, and old, like me), though typically the potentially best matches, major story-lines and feuds (and major developments thereof) and biggest stars would only be on their ‘flagship’ programme with the others featuring lesser wrestlers, or matches and events that didn’t greatly affect storylines or upcoming pay-per-views. Monday Night Raw had taken over from WWF Superstars of Wrestling as their flagship show the previous year.
6 please don’t ask me what the Krypton Factor is; I can’t stand feeling that old
7 Mostly due to an industry paper called The Wrestling Observer, American Pro Wrestling has adopted an unofficially official 1 to 5 star rating system, mostly based on in-ring talent on display, I don’t use nor put much stock in it the same way I don’t use any numerical or alphabetical rating system, I don’t think it adequately represents a complex opinion, and wrestling might be shallow but it still causes a complex opinion.
8 WCW Monday Nitro (yep, they went with that pun) was a weekly show that debuted in 1995 and for the first time offered the modern weekly wrestling show format of almost-live episodes made up of competitive matches and shocking storyline turns, thus forcing Monday Night Raw to do the same thing as it ran head to head and needed to compete.
9 a one-sided match existing solely to make one wrestler look good at the complete expense of the other
10 a backstage group of friends made up of (at the time): Shawn Michaels, Diesel, Razor Ramon and 1-2-3 Kid (and later including Triple H).
11 a wrestler who’s career is losing to others (‘doing the job’) and making that wrestler look good in the process, The Brooklyn Brawler has become a cult figure in the industry as a Jobber.
12 after the match, Owen Hart messed up his promo and said ‘kicked your leg out of your leg’ instead of ‘kicked your leg out from under you’
13 a mix of writer and match planner
14 Luna is part of Aludna Blayze and Bull’s SummerSlam match, this is easily the perfect women’s’ match for me in these years pre-Daffney
15 Undertaker’s signature match (despite the fact that he always seems to lose them) where you have to not only defeat your opponent but lock them in a coffin at ringside, sadly they rarely lead to a good match, even when people like Steve Austin are involved.
16 instead of ‘villains’ and ‘heroes’ Wrestlespeak uses ‘heels’ and ‘babyfaces’ (or simply faces).
17 literally the middle of the card, consider this akin to a famous support act at a festival, like, I dunno, The Murderdolls supporting Ozzy Osborne (which I saw, it was very good).
18 quick primer: the Kliq used their influence with Vince McMahon to dominate the booking and writing for 1995 and 1996 and that included AFTER they’d been broken up when Ramon and Diesel moved to WCW (where they did the same thing there but worse as The Outsiders).
19 this is far too complicated and I’m almost certain you don’t care enough for me to go into all – basically at the time WCW had two belts and thus two champions that were equivalent to a World Champion, at Clash of the Champions XXVII Rick Flair (who had one) wrestled Sting (who had the other) and then unified the two when he won, so that Hogan could beat him and be the ‘proper’ World Champion at the company
20 to hotshot something is to rush to show it rather than building it up or putting it off so it can make more money, either with attendance or with pay-per-view buys.
21 they did put Hogan and Flair together on some non-televised shows but this disappointed the WWF so they instead had Flair feud With Macho Man Randy Savage – the results were predictably awesome
22 to work stiff means to make your wrestling look more realistic by, well, actually hitting the opponent, or at least being more forceful with moves – some wrestlers are known for their stiffness – Big Van Vader, Farooq, Terry Funk etc.
23 getting the fan’s respect via working with, and usually beating, a respected and/or popular opponent – in this case Terry Funk, who’s so respected in the industry they should build statues of the old bastard
24 in reality Mikey was a pretty damn good wrestler
25 to get over is to become accepted, popular and respected by fans
26 Nancy Sullivan, who played Woman, was at this point married to Kevin Sullivan but after splitting with him she married the best damn technical wrestler in this business: Chris Benoit, until Benoit murdered her and their son then killed himself. Benoit is very controversial and polarising amongst wrestling fandom so I’m not going to say any more.