TONY LING WATCHES WRESTLING
The Tony Ling Rant for WWF Over the Edge 1999
This was supposed to be a joke.
In the style of my nTo counterparts, I originally meant this column to be
simply a way to rile up the numerous people that have raised Owen Hart to
the status of deity in a fashion that makes you want to scream "come on, he
was just a wrestler" until your throat hurt. But somewhere along the line I
started thinking. I thought really hard about what the show meant, about
what it represents, and about the almost legendary aura that surrounds it,
albeit a rather morbid aura. And I realized that this show is really more
than just a wrestling show where a wrestler died. It's, in a weird way,
almost a bid for survival, the ultimate example of show business's infamous
creed "the show must go on", and a sort of morality play on wrestling
itself and how, when real life intervenes on the fantasy world that
wrestling really is, real people react to it. And, in another weird way,
it's an example of how the business of wrestling itself can mirror real
life, even if the product it churns out most often does not.
But I digress.
This show, Over the Edge 1999, was actually meant as a show of some
importance, if you look at the planned card. The Undertaker was scheduled
to take on Steve Austin for his World Title in a sort-of blowoff for the
Corporate Ministry angle. The New Age Outlaws were set to explode as Road
Dogg would take on Billy Gunn. The Union (remember them) were to face the
Corporate Ministry. A face Rock and heel HHH were set to go at it for the
first time since 1997 and the first time since they reversed roles in the
spring of 1999. And the Blue Blazer angle was to be blown off as the Blazer
was to battle degenerate pimp The Godfather for his Intercontinental title.
Instead, we saw the unthinkable. And, for the first of two times in history
(the second would be the night after in the best Monday Night Raw ever),
the wrestling itself was overshadowed completely, and every angle and
storyline took a backseat, and thus became irrelevant, to real life.
So what we have here is, in some ways, a psychological experiment. Can the
roster of the WWF, faced with tragedy beyond their wildest dreams, put
together a coherent wrestling show? As we will soon see, they somehow
manage to do just that.
Don Becker, in a thread about this very show, brought up a very good point
where he said that it would take someone with an objective viewpoint to
review this show, and even then his very objectivity would leave him open
to insults that he's "cold and callous". I did not grow up with wrestling
(and Owen Hart), and I didn't become a fan or even find out about the
Internet until early 1997 as the Hart Foundation angle began. So, without
the emotional attachment many have (which is not a bad thing, unless it
becomes overbearing like some people tend to make it), I think I can
objectively view this show. I hope that I'm not judged for this, just like
I hope I'm not judged for the group I'm in.
Quick notes: This tape was purchased from cabo-one (prowrestlingtapes.com),
although I'm not sure if they still sell US tapes, so I wouldn't go to them
for a copy of this show, which comes packaged with Raw is Owen as well. (I can get you this show [and RAW] if you REALLY NEED it and want to slip me some cash - CRZ)
Much thanks goes to Brian (the "J" stands for "journalist") French for his
help in ideas for this show.
Live from Kansas City, Missouri, at the Kemper Arena. I thought
this was St. Louis at first, then remembered that was where Raw is Owen was.
Your hosts are, of course, Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler.
We get a video package of all the shit leading up to the World
title match. Shane and Vince, remember, are special guest referees. Hey,
remember when Austin put Taker on that symbol? God, I sure hope not. This
is probably the worst main event angle that I can ever remember. Thanks,
Oh, wait, this is Sunday Night Heat. PREPARE TO FAST FORWARD!
Actually, the end of the show is important as we see the Corporate
Ministry injure Vince's knee, apparently putting him out of commission for
the main event.
Ah, now here's the real promo. The Undertaker is babbling about
evil or some such other shit. Man, I want to fast-forward, but I won't.
One more thing, before we get to the show itself: I was planning to
not give any star ratings for the matches after the Owen incident, but
since they seem relatively normal (i.e. your typical PPV match), something
I'll get to later, I decided to rate them after all.
Normal PPV shilling from the announcers before the show, same as
any other PPV.
Opening match, World Tag Team Titles: Kane and X-Pac vs D-Lo Brown
and Mark Henry. I always liked X-Pac and Kane, for some reason, and they're
probably my favorite thing about 1999, to tell you the truth, other than
the Rock and Sock Connection. JR notes that Kane's entrance "could bring
down the Walls of Jericho". Foreshadowing? Nah, JR ain't that smart. As the
angle goes, X-Pac was teaching Kane what it was like to have a heart or
something. Mark and D'Lo turned heel for all of 3 weeks to set this bad boy
up. The challengers come out to D-Lo's awesome old theme music, with Ivory
and that purple scarf we all know and love. "D-Lo Sucks" chant to start. JR
notes that this could be the start of bigger things for D-Lo. Har. Side
headlock from Brown to start, and we go into some bouncy-bouncy stuff off
the ropes. D-Lo gets a shoulderblock and gloats. More "D-Lo Sucks". Side
headlock again, and X-Pac tries to escape but D-Lo grabs his hair and
brings him back. Smart. X-Pac turns it into a wristlock, flips out, and
goes into an armdrag. Nice sequence. D-Lo goes to Henry to strategize then
boots X-Pac in the gut to take over. Punches galore, body slam, knockdown,
then X-Pac flips out of a headlock into a belly-to-back suplex. Spinning
heel kick puts D-Lo in the corner, but D-Lo gets out. X-Pac jumps on the
turnbuckle to prevent damage to Big Sam and the Twins (heh). Henry tags in
and looks amused to be wrestling tiny ol' X-Pac, but he tags in Kane to end
that David vs Goliath thing. Kane fires away with punches, ram in the
turnbuckle, chops, choking, and so on. Whip to the turnbuckle is reversed
and Henry comes flying in, then punches away. Turnbuckle whip into a
(rather impressive) Gorilla Press, no-sold by Kane. Clotheslines away, boot
to the gut, whip reversed, and Kane busts out a dropkick, of all things.
Nice on, too. Legdrop on Henry, and Henry tags out rather than face the
chokeslam Kane was setting up for. D-Lo seems less than pleased by this and
they jaw at each other. D-Lo punches away to no offense, but escapes a
backdrop. Big boot connects, however, and Kane puts on a double-hand choke
in the air. Punches in his corner, and X-Pac calls for the tag and gets it.
Lawler is upset that Kane tagged in. Kicks in the corner, spinning heel
kick, then X-Pac takes a cheapshot on Henry. Bad move, as D-Lo whips X-Pac
into the corner. X-Pac gets rammed into the post by Henry. D-Lo pulls out
his funky legdrop. Remember when that almost got over? Henry tags in and
BEALS X-Pac across the ring with a punch. Nice oversell. Bashing in the
corner as X-Pac becomes face-in-peril, the status quo for about all of the
X-Pac/Kane matches. Henry dominates with slow offense, but a big splash
misses. X-Pac does the "I'm going to the wrong corner" bit as D-Lo tags in
and cheapshots Kane, drawing him out. Henry presses Pac onto the railing on
the outside. Back in, D-Lo gets two. We go to a chinlock. Short one, at
least, so no harm done. Pac fights out, but takes an elbow and a running
Ligerbomb (!) for two. D-Lo goes up and misses a springboard twisting
legdrop (!!). Kane tags in and goes to work on Henry. Turnbuckle reversal,
elbow by Kane, slam on Henry, tilt-a-whirl on D-Lo. Pac goes for a pescado
on Henry, but Henry catches him and rams him into the post. D-Lo does a
Bret Hart turnbuckle sell, and Kane hits a reverse suplex. Slam, but Henry
gets a cheapshot, allowing D-Lo to hit a leg lariat, but Kane presses him
to the outside on two. Double-team on Pac on the outside, but Kane GOES
FLYING OFF THE TOP ONTO ALL THREE MEN ON THE OUTSIDE! Man, Kane sure did
rule for a good part of this year, didn't he? Air Kane off the top for two.
D-Lo saves to big boos, but runs into a big kick from X-Pac, who gets the
Broncobuster for real. Henry knocks down Kane, then splashes the
still-Broncobustering X-Pac. Kane sits up behind his back, then chokeslams
Henry (!), which is enough for the pin at 14:45. Everyone in the match was
full of fire (keep this in mind) and worked their asses off, and we got a
great match as a result. This is the 3rd best tag matches of 1999, and one
of the best matches of the year, period. **** Keep in mind that JR and
Lawler are doing their usual joking around.
Cole talks about Vince.
Kevin Kelly interviews Hardcore Holly. Apparently Holly had an
imaginary friend named "Little Joe". He mentions Pierre, one of the dumb
things the WWF used to try to get Al Snow over. Y'know, it's quite possible
that WRESTLING could have gotten Snow over, but I guess nobody thought of
Hardcore Title match: Al Snow vs Hardcore Holly. If only the WWF
could have gotten the Prodigy's "Breathe" for Al's theme music. He brings
out Head and Pierre (that disgusting one-eyed deer head). Brawl to start,
as one would expect. Backdrop on Holly leads to a clothesline to the
outside. The problem with getting over in the Hardcore division, as shown
by many, is that once you're out of it the heat doesn't last. Brawl on the
outside. JR notes that "this match was booked in the Twilight Zone". Holly
whipped to the steps. God, Pierre is so disgusting. Holly whacks Snow with
a cooking sheet for two. How many times did these guys wrestle in 1999,
anyway? Fire extinguisher is brought in, and Holly tries to get it to work,
to no avail. He works at it, but when he turns Snow bashes him with the pan
for two. Snow gets the extinguisher and sprays away. Back to brawling
outside, and we go into the crowd. JR and Lawler are shilling the main
event. They go into the concession area, and food-related brawling results.
They go into the women's restroom, a popcorn stand, etcetera. Bag of
peanuts to Snow's head. Snow fights back and tosses some liquid into
Holly's eyes, then hits him with a funnel cake. Hey, I love those! Pan of
powdered sugar to Snow's head. More brawling. Snow covers for two. This is
entertaining, that's for sure, if just extremely goofy. Back to the arena
floor. Cotton candy thingy to Holly's head. Back to the ring arena, and
Snow legdrops Holly from the railing to the floor. And we're back in the
ring, woo. Snow boots Holly RIGHT IN THE NADS and twists his leg around for
emphasis. Man, thank God they did this before the IC match, cause this
would have been in really poor taste otherwise. Lawler notes that he was
expecting Snow to use the Fink as a weapon, which would have been pretty
cool, actually. Table gets involved, and is propped up in the corner. Holly
comes back with the Best Dropkick In the Business, then hits the Hollycaust
(actually called by JR as such) for just two. HOW DARE YOU RUIN HIS
FINISHER, AL! Holly argues with the ref. Fans chant "Head". Wow, hot crowd
so far. Should keep this in mind as well, I'd think. Snowplow (brainbuster)
gets two. Johnny Ace must be booking this, har har. Chair to Holly's gut,
sequence involving whips towards the table, and Snow hits a mule kick to
Holly's weiner to escape. He crawls for Head and grabs it, but misses a
Head shot and Holly DDTs him on a chair for two. Holly sets up the table
and beckons for Snow to get up, playing Yokozuna to Snow's Bret at WM X.
Wow, I really reached for that reference, didn't I? Snow eventually gets
up, reverses a slam, and powerbombs Holly through a table, then falls on
him for the pin at 12:53. I'm torn on the rating, seeing as there was good
wrestling but just unbelievably goofy shit. Well, what the hell, it was
good enough. ** 1/4
Cole talks to da Stooges about Vince. Apparently Vince's ankle is
broken. Owen does a great Hogan impression for his pre-match promo.
Promo for the IC title match. This here pretty much ends the
Thank God, cabo-one cut out Owen's entrance. Thank God.
JR explains how Owen was to make his entrance. Lawler, who came
into the ring to help Owen, is not there. Ross stresses that this is as
real as real can be. The crowd, standing up, doesn't know what to make of
all this. Some fans looking in the camera behind JR mug, which makes it
obvious that a lot of people there thought it was part of the show, but
those watching on TV have no doubt as to what has happened. JR tries to
hype the Jarrett/Debra vs Venis/Bass match (Lord, Bass is disgusting), but
there's absolutely no inflection in his voice. JR's almost talking in a
This promo's way too long for this damn match.
Back to JR, who once again explains what happened to Owen. He seems
nearly in shock. He tells us that the show will go on, but stresses that
"this is not a wrestling angle". For my part, I agree with the decision to
go on, because at that moment all they could do was assume that Owen wasn't
going to die. JR is talking about Owen and shooting about what a great
human being Owen was, and anyone with half a brain would know that JR
saying good things about a heel and would have figured that this was real
by now. Lawler comes back and says in a quiet voice totally unlike his
usual voice that it doesn't look good. The fans, still not sure what's
going on, gives an ovation to Owen as he's stretchered out. The whole time
the cameras are focused on the audience, and again I thank God for that. I
wasn't attached to Owen, but I damn sure didn't want to see him in that
Jarrett/Debra interview. Debra is obviously doing everything in her
power not to cry on camera. Jarrett mentions that he's praying for Owen at
the beginning and end of his promo, then somehow manages to deliver a good
promo. Debra looks like she's crying as she leaves. The mood, as Tazz would
say, has changed.
I want to note beforehand that the star ratings for the following
matches are skewed a little bit because the difference between pre-Owen and
post-Owen matches are so negligible that the wrestlers HAVE to be commended
for putting on a show under these circumstances.
Jeff Jarrett/Debra vs Val Venis/Nicole Bass: Debra's put on a good
face for this, and I have to give her props for that. JR says
"unfortunately, the show must go on" and calls the match "bowling shoe
ugly". Both him and Lawler are talking in something of a monotone still,
and can't bear to get themselves up to show much enthusiasm for the show.
Venis does his usual pre-match thing, mistaking Missouri for Kansas in his
promo. No mention of Owen, for whatever reason. Bass's face has no emotion
on it as she comes out, and I'm not sure why. Venis is doing a hell of a
job keeping in character. The announcers valiantly try to get into the
match. Fans chant "We Want Puppies". Can't say that I blame them, since
they had no real way of knowing what was going on. Wrestling sequence into
a double underhook by Venis for two. He puts his head down, though, and
Jarrett gets a swinging neckbreaker for two. Shot outside the ring on
Venis, who's in the ropes, and Jarrett gets an armbar takedown for two.
Venis powerslam gets two. JR calls Bass a "unique-looking" female. Venis
spinebuster, and Bass tags in, so Jarrett has to tag in Debra as per the
rules. Debra talks trash. Bass misses a clothesline. Bass's voice is deeper
than mine. Debra jumps on her back, and Bass smashes her on the turnbuckle
to break, but misses a charge. Debra slams her on the turnbuckle, kicks her
in the ass, and tags in Jarrett. Venis comes in and Jarrett attacks. Match
has no heat. Sleeper is reversed by Venis, who does his "whip into knee"
thing and gets a Russian legsweep, then poses. Punches to the head, but
Venis misses a second-rope elbowdrop. Jarrett hits what would eventually
become the Stroke, and Bass makes the save. Bass poses, and Debra hits her
from behind with a guitar, which is no-sold. Bass tears off Debra's shirt,
and Jarrett grabs the guitar, but Venis suplexes him and hits a gorgeous
Money Shot for the pin at 6:08. Yee-ha. ** Bass slaps a liplock on Venis
after the match, and Venis seems to like it. Shit, I need a shower after
Cole tries to interview Vince on his way out, but no dice. Shane
makes fun of him as he leaves. Was this pre-taped?
Shill for a free UT pendant for the cable bill. Great. "Hey, you
saw a man die on live television, now you can get this crappy pewter
JR and Lawler are putting a good face on for the show. I've been
told that by now the crowd knew Owen was dead. We get a promo for the "New
Age Outlaws explodes" match. Lawler's comment that "Billy Gunn has the
potential to be the best wrestler in the history of the WWF" may still be
the dumbest thing he's ever said. Anyway, this is the kickoff of the Gunn
heel turn, and don't we know how that ended up.
Dogg interview. He mentions Owen, then does his rhyming spiel. Dogg
does not look like he really wants to do this at all. I still don't get how
he could do that "New Age Outlaws" spiel as a singles wrestler. Billy does
his own heel interview, saying that he carried the Outlaws.
The NAO EXPLODES: Billy Gunn vs Road Dogg. This, in theory, is the
blowoff for the NAO split-up. Brawl to start. Gunn takes control in the
corner. This is starting to seem like a normal show, both in wrestling and
commentating. In fact, if you'd just joined in, you wouldn't even know
something has happened. Gunn hits a slam and legdrop, but Dogg no-sells and
fights back. Gunn tries to walk out, but Dogg comes back. JR keeps calling
the NAO the best tag team in WWF history, then changes it to best he's seen
in the WWF. Brawl outside. Gunn, instead of take a step shot, flies over
the steps and nearly hits the railing. Looked impressive, at least. Gunn
begs off and Dogg shakes his ass at him. Whip reversed and Dogg goes over
the top. Shot to the steps. Shit, for all Billy Gunn was worth, the Road
Dogg probably would have done better with the big push Gunn got. Gunn
breaks the ten-count, which JR explains for the TV crowd in a nice little
nuance. Gunn takes his sweet-ass time (no pun intended) for a suplex. It
gets two. Slooow, boooooring match. Into a reverse chinlock. Dogg fights
out, but eats some powerslam pie. Legdrop gets two. Kick to the gut and
Dogg fights back again, but Gunn takes him down with a bad clothesline.
Cobra clutch from Gunn. We are just running through all the restlocks here.
Crowd tries to get back into this boring match. Gunn gets a messed-up
neckbreaker. Gunn doesn't seem too shaken up by what's happened, at least
from what this match shows, so I don't feel too bad ragging on him. More
offense leads to a sleeper. Dogg's gotten in like no offense at all. Dogg
does some funky dancing to get out and reverses to a sleeper of his own.
Gunn gets out and takes a faceplant, then Dogg goes to the Travolta punches
and Elvis kneedrop. Gunn rolls to the outside and nails Dogg with the
timekeeper's hammer to get two in the ring. The dumb jokes are back, so JR
and Lawler are at the least making a good show of this. Dogg gets two by
smacking Gunn in the head as he went for a splash. Gunn takes the tape off
his ankle, chokes Dogg, and hits the Fame-asser for the pin at 11:14. Way
too long and boring. 1/4 * I know it's
callous, but both guys seemed to be
putting in effort.
King of the Ring promo. If we only knew.
Shane promo. Short and to the point, which is good, I guess.
I have to say at this point that so far things have been going
relatively normal, with the exception of that mixed tag match. I read
somewhere that a lot of wrestlers did not want to carry on with the show,
but for the most part they managed to put on effort in their matches, and
for that they deserve congratulations.
Elimination match: Big Bossman/Faarooq/Bradshaw/Viscera vs
Mankind/Big Show/Ken Shamrock/Test. The Union has absolutely terrible theme
music. I mean, it started off with a fucking Tugboat whistle, for God's
sake. I'm sorry, this is in poor taste. Viscera starts with Test and
manhandles him with his crappy offense. I'd like to note that Mabel was my
friend's girlfriend's favorite wrestler way back when. Test comes back
after a missed elbow, but Viscera nails a powerslam for two. Low blow cues
another comeback, as he hits a dropkick. He goes after the rest of the CM,
allowing for a Viscera belly-to-belly. Bradshaw comes in and controls.
Russian legsweep gets two. Test gets a big boot, but Bradshaw comes back
with a nice takedown. Clothesline by Test, but he gets nailed with a boot.
He comes back with a powerslam for two. He gets a side slam, then nails the
Savage elbow. Faarooq makes the save, and his distraction leads to a
Bradshaw lariat for the pin (??) at 3:44. Well, that sure was pussyish.
Shamrock comes in and goes to work on Bradshaw. Bradshaw gets a Ramon
blockbuster suplex, but Shamrock hits a weird arm takedown, possibly a
fubared crucifix. Faarooq makes the save. Shamrock gets the Frankensteiner,
then into the ankle lock submission for the tapout at 4:45. Faarooq comes
in and gets a quick powerslam for two. Tag in to Viscera, who gets in some
slow offense. Side slam for two. Shamrock goes for a crucifix, which is
somewhat akin to a fifth grader trying to take down an NFL linebacker.
Faarooq comes in, but Shamrock gets a flying elbow and leg lariat and
snaps. Nasty suplex leads to the anklelock, but he stops to take out the CM
before applying it. Bossman comes to drag Faarooq to the ropes. Shamrock
takes out the ref in annoyance and goes back to the anklelock, then goes
after the second ref. Show comes in for a chokeslam and pin at 11:47. I
guess Shamrock was automatically disqualified for taking out the ref. So
now we're down to Show/Mick vs Bossman/Viscera. Bossman comes in, and they
foreshadow the "my daddy's dead" angle from later that year. Bossman does
not really like the prospect of locking up with the Show. Test of strength
leads to a Show clothesline. Just so you know, I'm blowing off a Religion
class to watch this. Bossman walks out, and the Show chases and drags him
back. Show beats the shit out of him, for lack of a better phrase. Bossman
goes low to come back. Man, there is a definite low blow them going on
here. Bossman keeps trying to knock Show down. Double team by the CM gets
two. Chinlock bores me. Fans show their support of the Show by chanting
"Foley". Comeback by Show, big boot, but Viscera stops the chokeslam. All
four men are in, and Show manages to slam Viscera. Just call the Show
Atlas, I guess. Mick and the Bossman go at it in the ring while Show and
Viscera brawl to the back. I guess that eliminates them. Bossman works on
Mick. Mick eats steps on the outside. Back in, a clothesline gets two.
Another chinlock. Mick fights out, but tastes the sole of Bossman's right
boot for two. Bossman shows off his scintillating offense. This man truly
is one of the great wrestlers of our time. Mick gets the Double-Arm DDT, as
we find out that Show and Viscera have been lamely counted out. Socko makes
his appearance, and that's all she wrote at 19:07. Mick celebrates after
the match, then throws Socko into the crowd. Typical Survivor Series match.
We now find out that Owen Hart has died from Ross, who sounds like
he just had to tell us that his son has died. Lawler doesn't say a word. I
don't remember if the crowd is aware of this by now.
Rock promo in the back. Chyna comes out, Rock talks smack and H
cube attacks from behind. He tries to cut off the cast, but Mick attacks.
He goes after Chyna, but HHH nails him with a pipe.
Grudge Match: HHH vs The Rock. Hunter's music is the instrumental
backing for "My Time", sans lyrics. No familiar pose from Hunter yet.
Hunter gets the mic and cuts a promo, using a voice more like a grizzled
sailor than the voice he has today. Hunter hadn't quite mastered the heel
promo yet. He asks Hebner to count out the Rock, but Rocky comes out
anyway. He gets a good pop, but not quite the POP that he gets now.
Slugfest to start. Rock's got a cast on his arm from something or other.
Cross-corner whip, and Rock gets a clothesline, then tosses HHH outside. We
do some punching outside, and Hunter goes into the railing. Rocky looks
like Hyde from That 70s Show, but without the afro. For you unhip cats,
that means he's got long-ass sideburns. More brawling on the outside. JR
and Lawler have managed to get themselves up for this match again. Rock
does some fun commentary at the Spanish table. His "Spanish" doesn't really
sound like what I learned last year, but he's the Rock, so who am I to
argue? HHH goes to the cast to take control, then rips the cast off and
smashes Rock on the head with it. Hunter goes at the arm, duh. Kicks in the
corner, and choking. Another slugfest leads to a Samoan drop for two. High
knee gets two, and I'll let you figure out who got it. Back to the arm.
Neither man is nearly as good as they are now. Rock to the outside, and
Chyna bashes Rock's arm on the announce table. She's still got most of her
original face at this point. Hunter comes out, and they screw up a
knockdown. Back in the ring. Rock punches away, and hits the DDT for two.
Hunter gets an armbar takedown on the bad arm, which is supposedly
"broken". Kneedrops to the arm. Fujiwara armbar. The psychology is good,
but this match isn't doing it for me the way their 2000 matches do. Rock
fights back, but more arm-related offense keeps it in HHH's favor. Rock
comes back again, but HHH sends him over the top again. Nasty bump. Hunter
just keeps working on the arm. Back in the ring, Rock goes for Rock Bottom,
but HHH fights out and nails a DDT. Chyna hands Hunter a chair, but Hebner
takes it away. Hunter and Hebner jaw at each other, then Hunter nails
Hebner for the lame, lame, oh so lame DQ at 11:41. Rock gets the chair and
blasts HHH with it, then blasts Hebner for trying to raise his arm-the
wrong one. Hunter does a pretty good bladejob. Back in the ring, Rocky gets
the Rock Bottom. He sets a chair on HHH's face and goes for the People's
Elbow, but Chyna trips him up. Rock takes offense, allowing HHH to grab the
chair and lay some shots on Rocky. Mick comes out to make the save. This
was eh compared to what came later, but still pretty good. ** 1/2 It's a
real testament to Hunter that he pulled off his heel persona during this
show, especially considering the emotion he'd show the following night. I
figure if I watch this tape again I might be able to see where he wasn't at
100% intensity compared to other shows, but I won't.
Right now I'm just absolutely amazed at the way that these
wrestlers, faced with the death of one of their comrades, have managed to
come out and put on a pretty good show. Not a show I'm going to watch all
the time, mind you.
Shane comes out to ref, but Pat Patterson comes out in ref garb to
provide an alternative. We go right to:
Main event, WWF World Title: Steve Austin vs The Undertaker. Paul
Bearer is leading the Taker out. Taker is doing his Angry Amish Roadkill
impersonation. Taker chokeslams Patterson for fun before the match starts,
and the glass breaks. Austin's got his smoking skull belt. Slugfest to
start. Reverse elbow sends Austin out. He keeps trying to get back in, but
UT keeps walloping him as Patterson is led out. UT gets hit with a hangman,
and Austin hits a top rope clothesline (!) for two. Kicks in the corner,
done slowly, and Shane pulls him off. Austin is not amused, and the shot by
UT when he turned around probably amused him less. UT takes over slowly.
Really slowly. Austin reverses a whip to the turnbuckle, but UT catches a
kick, trips him up, and goes to work on the braced left knee. He now goes
to work on the knee. Austin fights out and blasts away, then goes to work
on UT's knee. Turnabout is fair play and all that. Austin boots UT right in
his happy place. How many low blows was that, anyway? Austin keeps working
on the knee, and UT gets his leg caught in the ropes. Elbow to UT's face on
the apron, and we fight outside. UT gets an elbow to come back. Austin
reverses a whip and slings UT into the steps. He sets up UT on the steps,
and Shane keeps trying to drag UT away. Back in the ring, Austin gets a
single-leg takedown and stomps away. He puts on a legscissors on UT's legs.
This is very cerebral for a Steve Austin match. UT reverses out, but Austin
gets back on top (get your mind out of the gutter) and goes right back to
work on the leg. I wonder if they're improvising for some reason? Bearer
gets a little too close and Austin nails him, but UT kicks Austin into the
railing. Austin gets sent into the post. We now go into the crowd. Austin
gets choked with a cable, and sent into the steps. UT puts some steps on
Austin's knee and kicks it, which I'm not quite sure is supposed to hurt.
Back into the ring. Over 10 minutes in and I'm really bored by this. I hate
the fact that I'm being bored on this show, of all shows, but what can I
do? UT keeps working the knee. He lays on a choke, and Shane gives a slow
count. Austin fires back, but UT just pops him one right in the face.
Taker's got the longest hair I've seen on a man. Tombstone try, but Austin
wriggles free and (sort of) clotheslines UT out and kicks him on the
announce table. Table shots. Back in, the Thesz Press is countered with a
spinebuster in a nice spot. Bearer takes a cheap shot with his shoe, of all
things. Slow fighting on the outside. Austin fights back, of course, and
sends UT on the floor. We go to the entranceway, and UT punches through one
of the glass windows set up at the entranceway. Austin casually tosses UT
through another one. UT goes into one of the arches set up at the entrance.
They wander onto the arena floor by the entrance, and Austin stomps away.
More brawling. Austin throws UT onto a stretcher on the floor. UT fights
back as they head back towards the ring. 18 minutes in. UT kicks Austin in
the corner. Shane and UT converse, and Austin fires back. Austin gets a
second-rope elbow, but Shane doesn't count 3. Austin gives Shane shit, and
UT comes after him with a chair, but Austin blocks and throws UT into
Shane. Austin smashes UT with a chair, and Brisco runs in to count two. UT
hits Austin with a boot and nails Brisco. We've hit the Overbooking
Turnpike, folks. UT hits a flying clothesline, and now everyone is out. And
now Vince comes a-hobbling out, no doubt to restore order and justice to
this match. Stunner is blocked, and a double clothesline spot emerges. Both
men sit up at the same time, and another slugfest. This time the Stunner
hits, but Shane prevents the pinfall. Vince goes after Shane and knocks him
down, Austin gives Vince shit, Shane pushes Vince into Austin, and UT ends
up on top in a weird turn of events. Shane counts a fast as hell 3, and we
have a new World Champ at 22:58. I wanted to like this match, but
circumstances prevented it from being anything other than bad. * 1/2 The
Corporate Ministry comes out as Austin Stunners UT, then Mideon. UT and
Shane celebrate, Austin looks pissed, end of show.
Final Remarks: Someone once said that they'd totally forgotten that the
Undertaker had won the World Title on this show. That kind of sums up the
way that people blocked out the memory of this show, perhaps even the fact
that it existed. I don't think that's the right way to handle things,
though, and I feel that Owen Hart's tragic death should not be hidden in
order to protect anyone's sensibilities. But that's just me.
So what did we learn from this show? We learned that even under the most
pressing of circumstances, with an unspeakable tragedy befalling them, the
wrestlers of the WWF could pull everything together, suck up their
emotions, and go out and deliver the show that they meant to go out and
deliver. The real emotions would not be seen until the Raw the following
night, as everyone paid homage to Owen Hart in a great show of straight
wrestling matches and interviews celebrating (rather than mourning) the
life of a good man. Everyone who saw that show that was a real wrestling
fan will never forget it. Unfortunately, the show before it is about to
suffer a different fate.
What bothers me the most about this show is how soon the lessons learned
from this show were forgotten by Vince McMahon and the whole wrestling
industry in general. Owen Hart became just a distant memory to many, and
Vince Russo, the man who was responsible for Owen to be in the rafters that
night, would script a nasty bump for Kanyon in WCW in that same arena in
Kansas City not one year later. Much like the assassinated Martin Luther
King and Robert Kennedy of 1968, Owen was relegated to the history books
while the machinery of the wrestling industry keeps on churning. I'm not
saying that Owen's any Martin Luther King, but the point remains the same.
As far as a recommendation.....well, I'm not one to hedge my bets, but in
this instance I'm going to have to say that this one's solely up to you,
the reader. If you want to view the show, that's perfectly fine. If you
don't, that's perfectly fine as well. But at the very least you should know
about this show, and think really hard about what it means to all of
professional wrestling, over one year later, and ponder if wrestling has
changed for the better, for the worse, or even changed at all.
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