Sunday, December 9, 2012

Old School Wrestling Reviews

So I've been posting on G+ about the wrestling pay per view's that hubby and I have been watching and I realized I should keep the posts here as well in case anyone wanted to happen on them later. So here's the first few I wrote, starting with WrestleMania 2, then Survivor Series 1987, the first Royal Rumble, WrestleMania 4, and lastly SummerSlam '88. (I skipped reviews of a couple in there.)

For anyone who wants to know... I didn't get into wrestling until I met my husband about five years ago, and I knew almost nothing about it until him. I go into a lot of these shows not knowing a lot about the wrestling at the time, but knowing a bit about the future of wrestling and what the end result has become. My husband keeps as much of the pay per view results from me as possible so they are exciting and as if I'm watching them live. I do know a lot about wrestling now, especially the politics of the time, but I may not know a lot about specific wrestlers. Anyway, I hope you enjoy my semi-fresh take on all of this.

WrestleMania 2

Hubby is working me through the old pay per view's from WWE and WWF from Wrestlemania 1 to the present. So far we've done WM1, Wrestling Classic, WM2 and tonight was WrestleMania 3!

Out of them all so far, WM2 was the worst. I would skip that one in a heartbeat again. It was very boring and the match quality was dull. It didn't help they had actresses as commentators and they didn't know what the heck they were doing, so most of the time they were just going "Oh geeze, look at that" or "boy, he looks really good in those tights" and it was pretty stupid.

WM3 was, of course, the best. I mean, come on, it had Randy Savage vs. Steamboat. Widely considered one of the greatest matches in WM history, I can see why. Up until now, most of the matches I've seen have been slower, more methodical, even the ones with the greats. Savage and Steamboat immediately hit it off with a fast paced, high flying match totally unlike any other match seen in any of the previous pay per view's. I can see why it was so revolutionary for it's time and why people were in awe of the match quality.

In retrospect to the Hulk Hogan era, I can really see where he was such an egomaniac. I didn't get into wrestling until after it came out that he was a pretty terrible person in real life, so I have no real love for the guy. Seeing his promos and his wrestling, I can see why people flocked to him as the big main event, he's got the 'it' factor to draw crowds, but sometimes you can see in the faces of the people working with him that he's really an ass. He had a promo with Vince where Vince just looked disgusted the whole time. It's not something you would see until you looked back on it years later

Survivor Series 1987

We watched the first Survivor Series tonight in our Sunday history lesson.

It wasn't nearly as good as WrestleMania 3. I mean, how can you top Savage vs. Steamboat? Still, it was really good.

The women's match was awesome. If you want to watch a women's match that has women that know how to wrestle crazy good, watch the survivor series match. The Jumping Bomb Angels won and they were phenomenal. I was seriously impressed.

The tag team survivor match was really boring. It was a let down for sure because the Hart Foundation, Bulldogs, and even the Killer Bee's were in the match, but they focused so heavily on the Young Stallions that it just was so drawn out. Every two seconds the Young Stallions were kicking out of yet another pin. They were obviously pushing the team, but it was done poorly.

The first match, with Savage/Steamboat's team vs. Honkey Tonk's team was fun to watch. It's hard not to like Macho Man Randy Savage, Ricky the Dragon Steamboat, Honky Tonk Man, and all the others in that match. Watching it now, you can really hear the respect Gorilla Monsoon and Jessie Ventura had for them.

Lastly, since this is after all the nonsense with Hulk Hogan has come out, with him being such an egomaniac, you can really listen to some of the things Jessie Ventura says about the Hulkster and realize Jessie is probably telling the truth, just under the guise of being the color commentator. After the match with Andre and Hulk, Andre won fair and square, but Hulk had to come running out and do his posing, instead of letting Andre get any sort of chance to bask in his moment. Jessie kept saying what an ass Hulk was being about it. I can see at the time how Jessie would have been coming off as a jerk about his commentating, but how it was all true. I feel bad for Andre in a way, though I know Andre had his own set of personal problems too.

Anyway, it was a pretty good PPV. Better than WM2, not as good as WM3. Next up is the first Royal Rumble, which technically wasn't a pay per view, it was a television special, but since it was the first royal rumble, we're fitting it in next Sunday anyways (unless the actual WWE pay per view sounds interesting enough to watch, which we are still undecided about).

First Royal Rumble

Ok, so it was actually a TV program, Vince McMahon didn't think the Royal Rumble would be a success, so he had it on TV, then when it ended up being a huge success was all like "So, about that new pay per view program..."

First, the women's tag team match was awesome. It was the Glamour Girls and the Jumping Bomb Angels. This is one of the last runs for a women's tag team division and it's a bummer because the match was amazing. I keep hoping a couple women in the current WWE programming comes out and makes the current creative team watch these women wrestlers and let the current women wrestle like the women back then did. It's awesome.

The Royal Rumble itself was really fun. I went in without knowing the results on purpose. I could tell they hadn't perfected the experience, there was a lot of moments where wrestlers weren't quite sure what to do, but that made it feel a little more real. It was fun. I got to see a lot of wrestlers in their 'debut.' It'll be fun to see how Ultimate Warrior, Hillbilly Jim, and a few other of my favorites keep going in the PPVs that follow.

Rick Rude and Ricky the Dragon Steamboat also had a match and it was amazing. Only problem I had with the match was some lady spent the whole match yelling into her megaphone. Mouth From The South she wasn't. Drove me nuts! However, the match quality was so good, I just told myself she was Jimmy Hart on estrogen, and paid attention to Rick Rude and The Dragon have one of the best matches of the show.

WrestleMania 4

So Sundays we are going through the old WWF/WWE Pay Per View's in order. This week was WM4 where the World Heavyweight title was vacated, so there was a tournament to decide who was going to win it. It was very exciting. I like tournament PPV's, and this one was full of matches.

A couple of things of note.

If you want to be a really good face almost immediately, bring your toddler (ala Ricky the Dragon Steamboat) or your dog (The Bulldogs) or your parrot (Koko Be Ware) to the ring with you. Instant approval. If you want to be an instant heel? Threaten said children or animals.

The production quality was starting to improve as well. WM1 and WM2 had pretty terrible production quality, camera angles were rather dull, the lighting wasn't bright, and the "over the top-ness" just wasn't there yet. In this WM the interviews all had quality looking backdrops, the lighting was all bright and focused, and the camera work was starting to become high quality. Part of that might be because it was held in Trump Plaza.

Matches were really good. They got the humor going with the Bulldog's match with Bobby the Brain and his dog catcher's outfit. Brutus the Barber Beefcake's match with the Honkey Tonk Man was really funny, the expressions were great. There were interspersed with some good serious matches of quality wrestling. Even the Hogan match wasn't bad, and I normally hate Hogan matches.

Macho Man of course stole the show, how could he not? Wrestling four matches and still winning the gold in one night is something no other wrestler has done, and probably never will do again.

Lastly, as a remark on current wrestling... One thing that really stuck out to me is the referees. I really wish current referees had the ability to be as agressive as these referees were. They were constantly in the faces of the wrestlers and always making calls. Yelling at the wrestlers, really getting the crowd into their calls, I really think that's missing. Referees need to be allowed to have steel spines in the current WWE shows. Let them be a lot more dominate than they are now, they made a lot of the matches.

SummerSlam '88

It's been a few weekends since hubby and I watched our pay per view. This week we're up to Summer Slam '88, the first ever Summer Slam!

The big event was Mega Powers vs. Mega Bucks in a tag team match. Macho Man Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant and Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase. I've seen this match before, but it is a fun one to watch. If anything for the interplay between Hogan and Randy Savage at the end when Hogan's all grabby on Elizabeth and Randy's all like "Hey Hogan, you want tonot touch my wife, ooh yeah?" The match quality is of course excellent. I mean, come on, it is Savage and DiBiase, even Hogan's semi-decent wrestling can't muck that up.

For the rest of the PPV...

The Honkey Tonk Man lost the Intercontinental Championship to the Ultimate Warrior in a very short match. Honkey Tonk had been IC champion for a very long time at this point, 454, days, the longest reigning IC champion (a record that still holds to this day) and Warrior beats him quickly and fairly, which gave Warrior a huge push to being powerful and dominate. You can really tell that Honkey Tonk is a great wrestler. The match is probably a minute long, but Warrior comes out, does a clothesline that lands him east/west and is supposed to knock him out. Then Warrior does a drop off the top rope for the finish, but the positioning is wrong, Honkey Tonk does this smooth motion with one of his arms to just move his body north/south at the same time that Warrior does the drop. It's so slick and perfectly timed that it seems like Honkey Tonk was 'knocked out' the whole time, even though he was moving. Nicely done.

Jim The Anvil Neidhart and Bret The Hitman Hart both wrestled, and you can see they're starting to find themselves in their gimmicks. Jim has an anvil on his tights now, and Bret has his hearts. It makes me want to see a documentary on the tights and designs of the wrestling gear. Their match was good, too.

I also decided that if you have a pet, you can't be a bad guy. It's like, impossible. Also, Rick Rude's tights are awesome. Simply awesome. Brother Love's segment with Jim Duggan was funny. There was no diva match, so no commentary there.

Overall the PPV was fun to watch. It was a shorter one. The matches were good, they're getting the effects down really nicely. Sound quality still needs some work. Most of the wrestlers have entrance music, but strangely it's mostly the bad guys, the good guys often didn't have entrances.

Next time is Survivor Series '88!

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