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Ian Challis




Seeing as we're going to be graced with the Almighty Cell in a coupla weeks' time, I thought I'd go back and round up the other cards on which the gimmick became so famous. One caveat now: I will Not be reviewing WrestleMania XV because a)My copy is the hacked-to-pieces version aired by Sky Sports for the repeat showing, and b)It's a really really bad show with no outstanding matches. All other Cell PPVs will be here, POSSIBLY including the dreaded bastard offspring, Kennel From Hell. I haven't decided yet.

  • Comin' atcha liiiive from St. Louis, MO, your hosts are Good Ol' JR, The King and Vin Man. Your theme for the evening: Steve Blackman's OLD-SCHOOL entrance music. Dig it!

  • Handicap Match: The Rock/D'Lo Brown/Kama Mustafa Vs. LoD: Vince tiptoes over Brian Pillman's death earlier in the day, doing a cringeworthy job of relaying the news to the watching fans. See Shamrock suffered a bout of that darn "internal bleeding" a while before this, so the LoD (not yet 2000) go it alone. Because they're TOUGH. And senile. Hawk spazzes out on the mic prematch, and Vince wets himself over a tepid "LoD" chant. I much prefer Evil Caricature Vince to Sucky Face Commentator Vince, no matter how overexposed he may be. D'Lo and Hawk start and Hawk gets a bellyflop dropkick and THE WORST BIG BOOT EVER. D'Lo sells regardless, then tags in Rocky and suddenly the crowd comes alive. Animal gets the tag as Rocky freaks out at all the "Rocky Sucks" chants, and D'Lo and Kama console him. Funny stuff. Back inside and Rock controls, but Animal gets a marginally-better than-Hawk's dropkick and Rock bails again. Back inside and Hawk comes in for some Crazy Old Man chops, but gets caught in the Nation corner. Kama gets the tag and proves his uselessness by being caught by a Hawk enzuiguri. Animal gets the tag and powerslams the pimp, but Rocky sneaks in a DDT behind the ref's back. Whatamanoeuver sidekick by Kama, and Animal gets beaten down on the floor. Back inside and D'Lo gets the You Better Recognise legdrop for two. More beatings. Rock comes in for a bit of chinlockery, then hits a kneelift for two. More torturous wearing down-torturous for ME, not Animal. Kama gets the tag and promptly misses the future Ho Train, but the ref misses Animal's hot tag. D'Lo sneaks in a picture perfect Lo Down as the ref deals with Hawk, and Kama covers for two. They clobber him on the floor some more, and Rocky takes him inside where they waste no time blowing a double clothesline spot, which JR disguises as a "desperation collision". Uh-huh. Let's see you cover like that for Test next he blows a sidewalk slam, shall we? Animal manages the hot tag (finally) and Hawk comes in for some punchin'. Powerslam for Rocky, neckbreaker for D'Lo, and Kama gets dumped. They call for the Doomsday Device on Rocky, but heeeeeere's Faarooq, providing a timely distraction so that Rock can nail the as-yet-unnamed Rock Bottom on Hawk for the pin at 12:20. Really not worth your time at all; there are much better examples of Rock's early heel stuff. And, of course, the LoD were, are and forever will be fucking useless. *

  • It's back to Vince for more excruciating Pillman talk, as he explains what's taken place and promises an update on police findings as it happens.

  • Minis Match: Mosaic/Tarantula Vs. Nova/Max Mini: Whoopee shit. I guess this is their idea of a viable cruiserweight division. Tarantula and Nova start, and pull out lots of dives and shit that would look impressive if they were regular sized men, and Nova gets an armdrag for two. Tarantula and Mosaic quarrel and do some wacky midget miscommunication to establish their heeldom, and a "big" four-way brawl breaks out on the floor. Mosaic and Max mix it up in the ring, and Mosaic misses a couple of charges. They're retards, we get it. Max armdrags him for two, and hits a quasi-belly to belly. Nova splashes Mosaic for two, and Max gets another near-fall from a rana on Tarantula. Mosaic and Tarantula double team Max, and Tarantula gets a top rope splash for two. If this seems ridiculously disjointed, then you're getting the gist of the match. The heels sneak attack Max on the floor, and Tarantula press slams Max right onto the announce table, sending King into fits of hysterics. And rightfully so. Nova and Mosaic get it on in the ring, and Nova gets an armdrag (popular move in this match) and a springboard dropkick. Max and Tarantula go at it again, and Tarantula misses a charge, allowing Max a top rope crossbody. He finishes things (THANK GOD) with a FUGLY armdrag/crucifix combo at 6:42. Terrible, terrible match, even for the minis. I'm not sure what Vince was trying to achieve with the whole shorties experimental period, as they wouldn't wrestle American rules, they weren't very good to begin with, and any heat they garnered was quickly dispelled by Lawler's arsenal of short jokes. I'd say "bravo for trying something new", but midgets are only entertaining/amusing when being squashed by big fat guys, so this gets no love from me. DUD

  • Sunny (when she was still attractive) joins us to do ring-announcing duties for...

  • WWF Tag Team Title Match: The Headbangers Vs. The Godwinns w/Uncle Cletus: You may know Cletus better as "Dirty White Boy" Tony Anthony, but it's more likely you've either never heard of him or wiped him from your memory due to sheer suckitude. Observation: Thrasher and Justin Credible were separated at birth. Big ol' Pier Four to start, and the Bangers get the upper hand. Things kick off proper with a thrilling stalling contest between Mosh and Phineas, and Mosh gets things moving with a rana to the floor. Thrasher ups the ante by diving onto Phineas and delivering a rana of his own, and Mosh follows with a springboard crossbody. That gets two in the ring, and Trasher comes in to help deliver a flapjack that drops Phineas RIGHT ON HIS HEAD. Jeebus. That gets two. Henry gets the tag and we're treated to another round of stallage, and Thrasher gets a quick roll-up for one. Dropkick, and Henry tags Phineas back in. The Bangers hit their head-o-steam double team, then Thrasher front suplexes Mosh off the top, onto Phineas, for two. Ya know, they could do worse than rehiring the Bangers, and I'm sure Vince is willing to forget that pesky intended assault by Thrasher. Mosh works an armbar as we get a double feature of Thrasher's tongue. Nice. Thrasher comes in with a top rope clothesline and dances, allowing Henry a big ol' clothesline to take over. They run through some god-awful offence as King rattles off his list of redneck jokes, and Thrasher gets a desperation sunset flip for two. Henry punctuates the boredom with a nice wheelbarrow slam that gets two. Ya know, I actually miss Mark Canterbury. He's a big guy, he's got a half-decent set of power moves, and he's much less of a prick than, say, Bradshaw. And he made me like Southern Justice in spite of the suck that is Dennis Knight. Anyway, Phineas misses a blind charge and Thrasher gets an ugly belly-to-back, and finally makes the hot tag. Mosh nails all three hillbillies, and the Bangers pull off another swanky double team-Thrasher powerbombing Mosh onto Phineas. That gets two, and they dump Henry. Mosh goes upstairs and comes off looking for a cannonball, but Phineas catches him and hits a nasty powerbomb for the pin and the titles at 12:19. This felt like a pretty good five-minute match trapped inside a twelve-minute frame, and was actually watchable thanks to the Bangers, but the Godwinns' lumbering pace ensured that it stopped just short of decent. ** The country boys lay in a good ol' Arkansas ass-whuppin' after the bell, then pick on the Spaniard announcers.

  • Stone Cold video package, back when Stunning authority figures was cool. Those were the days. We then throw to Michael Cole, who tells us Austin is in the building, but refuses to talk to anybody. Owen Hart interrupts wearing his "Owen 3:16" shirt, and makes Cole say "lawsuit". Possibly so that Cole knows what to expect when he's caught totally ripping off Todd Pettengill.

  • And now, in place of the scheduled Pillman/Dude Love match, JR MCs a "St. Louis Legends" segment. Guests include Gene Kiniski (who gets booed), Jack Brisco, Dory Funk, Jr., Harley Race (looking mighty sprightly), Terry Funk, Sam Muchnick, Lou Thesz, and Sunny, whose 1966 feud with Dick The Bruiser is the stuff of legend. Or she may just be there as eye candy, I'm not sure. This was actually a very classily-done tribute, and it would be nice to see more segments of this nature without having to have someone die to make room for them.

  • Faarooq gives an empowered interview with Ugly Dok Hendrix.

  • Intercontinental Title Tournament Finals: Faarooq Vs. Owen Hart: Owen is understandably subdued during his entrance. Austin joins us at ringside clutching the title belt, and shares some harsh words with Vince. Foreshadowing at it's best. He then ousts the timekeeper and rings the bell himself as Owen hurls taunts at him. Austin robs Vince of his headset and talks a mile a minute on commentary, probably to stop himself from crying, and Owen and Faarooq have still not got it on. They finally lock up about a minute in, and Faarooq tosses Owen around with ease. Owen gets a leg lariat to come back and goes to the leg as Austin harasses the Spaniards' table. Owen works a leg lock for a couple of two counts, and Austin moves on to the French table to converse with Ray Rougeau. Faarooq blocks a figure four in the ring, and gets a back breaker for two. Owen fires back with a crossbody for two, and goes back to the leg after dodging a second-rope legdrop. Faarooq blocks the Sharpshooter and nails the Angry Black Man spinebuster for two, and Jim "The Anvil...I Was Separated At Birth From Tank Abbott...And Big Bossman...Yeahbaby Yeahbaby" Neidhart joins us. He provides a handy distraction as Austin lamps Faarooq with the title belt, and he hightails it to the back as Owen gets the easy pin at 7:16. The match was really just an excuse for Austin to monkey around at ringside, something rendered curiously hollow due to Austin's obvious distress at the death of his friend earlier in the day. * The commentators act all retarded and stuff, unable to figure out why Austin helped Owen, as the new champ proclaims that he "did it all by himself".

  • Los Boriquas Vs. DOA: Oh goody, the Gang Wars. It's interesting how the initially most sucky and downright offensive gang (the Nation's black militant phase) went onto become the most successful. Strike that: it's not interesting at all. Skull and Jesus start off, fisticuffs abound. Just bask in the lovely array of punches and kicks on display here. 8-Ball livens things up with a big powerslam for two, and the Boriquas take over for a bit. Crush turns the tide with a big belly to belly on Savio and tags in Chainz. Lots more exciting punching. Chainz manages a press-slam on Jesus, but quickly falls into the biker-in-peril role. Quadruple beatdowns take over, and the only thing worth noting is Savio's nice leg lariat to the floor. Jesus gets an ugly missile dropkick for two, and the Boriquas take turns chinlocking Chainz to death. Chainz finally makes the hot tag and, wouldn't you know it, a big eight-man brawl breaks out. Crush hits a tilt-o-whirl back breaker on Jesus for the pin at 9:02. Couple of okay bits from the Boriquas raise it from purgatory, but not by much. *

  • Bulldog and Bret show Lance Storm how to TRULY heel on America.

  • Capture The Flag Match: Bret Hart/The British Bulldog Vs. The Patriot/Vader: Commentators tell us you can win by capturing the respective flags, pinfall or submission. The flags are on ten feet poles ON TOP of the ringposts, so you guess the ending. Ya know, Del Wilkes made it through to the fed at entirely the wrong time; a year later and he would have made the perfect goofy heel foil for Austin's dying title reign. Of course, then we may never have got Kurt Angle. A wild brawl kicks off around the ring before the bell even sounds, and Bret and Bulldog use their flag to gain the advantage. Vader and Patriot come back and pose in the ring as Bret and Bulldog hobble about outside, and the match finally gets underway between Patriot and Bulldog. Patriot gets a shoulderblock for a quick two count, then hits a suplex and goes for the flag. Bret saves with a low blow and Bulldog tries to take advantage, but gets hiptossed and backdropped. Tag to Vader, and the big man body avalanches Davey Boy a coupla times. Bret comes in and brawls with Vader, who easily takes over, but he misses a corner charge and Bret gets a leg sweep. He goes for the flag but Vader avenges the earlier low blow with one of his own. Bret comes back with a sunset flip attempt, but Vader turns it into a butt-splash for two and both men tag out. Patriot blows a dropkick, then slams Bulldog and goes for the flag, but Bret saves again and chokes him down. Notice a pattern forming? Bulldog takes the opportunity to go for the Canadian flag, but Vader in turn stops him. it settles back down to Patriot Vs. Bulldog, and Del misses a charge and eats post. Bret takes advantage on the outside with the ringpost figure four, and Vader makes the save. Into the ring and more brawling, and Patriot reverses a Sharpshooter attempt. Bulldog saves. All four guys pile into the American flag corner, and Patriot climbs up the stack, but Davey Boy pulls him down. The match calms down once again and Bret and Bulldog go to work on Patriot, hitting a sidewinder for two. Tag to Vader, who starts smashing Bulldog around again. Big splash gets two, and Vader goes for the flag(!). Bulldog stops and tags Bret in, who hits an ugly belly-to-back. He goes for a Sharpshooter, but Vader grabs the ropes and turns it around. He goes for his own Sharpshooter, but Bulldog clotheslines him. Patriot tags in and locks a figure four on Bret, but he manages to tag Bulldog whilst still in the hold. He comes in and stomps both faces down, then hits a delayed suplex on Patriot for two. Patriot reverses and gets a sloppy powerslam for two, then goes for the flag once again, but Bulldog pulls him down. Bret comes in and beats Patriot down, then...wait for it...goes for the flag. Vader stops, of course, and both guys tag out. Vader slams Bulldog and goes for the moonsault, but Bulldog misses. Vader, however, lands on his feet(!!) and clobbers Davey in the corner. He climbs for the flag but Bret stops, and all four guys fight. It spills out onto the floor and Bret smacks both faces with the ring bell, then bitches out Vince. DDT on Vader gets two in the ring. Bulldog comes in for some nifty double teaming, and Vader promptly clotheslines both guys and makes the tag. Patriot comes in with clotheslines for all and nails the Uncle Slam on Bret, but Bulldog breaks up the count as a fan tries to rush the ring. Bulldog and Chioda whomp him as Vader hits the Vader Bomb on Bret. He and Bulldog brawl to the floor, and Bret reverses a Patriot roll-up, grabbing a handful of tights for the pin at 21:17(!!). WELL WHAT WAS THE DAMN POINT OF THE DAMN FLAGS?! What a crock. Had these four guys been put in a straight tag match for twenty minutes this would likely be a four-star match, but the lack of clear rules and the SHITTY "oooh let's get the flag" parts TOTALLY ruined it. No flow, no structure, no point. ** I understand the Foundation may not have been in the best mindset considering the events of the day, but if that were the case they should've chopped ten minutes off the match and saved us all time.

  • The Cell is lowered as JR pimps it's viciousness. I was hoping for the vaunted "Perverse...Vile...Structure" soundbite, but no such luck. I guess that's the 'Taker/Mankind match.

  • Shawn exudes cockiness and belittles his European Championship backstage, then Trips gets cut off mid-sentence by Vince on commentary. You wouldn't see THAT today.

  • Hell In The Cell: Shawn Michaels Vs. The Undertaker: It may be the most dangerous match of his career, by God, but Shawn still has time for his faggy outfit and pyro display. HHH, Chyna and Rude do the smart thing and bail as Taker's BOSS entrance starts up. Hopefully Brock'll murder Taker at No Mercy so he can come back as the Phenom a few months down the line.

    The atmosphere is amazing as Taker takes his place in the ring. Shawn freaks out as the cell is locked, and rightfully so. The bell rings, and Taker slowly stalks Shawn around the ring then damn near kicks his head off with a big boot inside. Taker just tosses him around, slamming him into the corner and peppering him with punches. Shawn blocks the chokeslam, however, and jabs Taker in the corner. He goes for an Irish whip, but Taker casually reverses and clotheslines him down. The rope-walk follows, and Taker slams him and hits a big ol' legdrop for two. MASSIVE backdrop sees Shawn's feet brush the cell roof, and Taker batters him around with more rights. He throws him nonchalantly to the floor and mashes him against the cage. Shawn, desperate to escape the beating, scales the walls, but Taker simply yanks him down hard to the floor, prompting JR's old favourite, the "Some guy says they know how to fall" line. Taker smashes Shawn with a pair of clotheslines, then sets up a powerbomb. Shawn grabs onto the cage in mid-air to stop the move, so Taker slams him back-first into the mesh. He then methodically destroys Shawn around ringside, throwing him in the steps, the posts, the cell, and even a cameraman. Just an absolute slaughter. Shawn tries to fight back, shoving Taker into the cell wall, but he simply bounces back with a big clothesline.

    Taker finally misses a charge into the cell, and Shawn takes him down and launches a flurry of lefts and rights. He rolls into the ring for a breather, but Taker follows and guillotines him. Taker spends too much time on the apron, however, and Shawn knocks him off, straight into the cell wall. Tope follows, and Shawn climbs the cell and drops an elbow off the wall! Let's see Brocky do THAT at No Mercy. He follows that up with a clothesline off the apron, then clubs Taker with the ring steps. For the finishing touch he drags Taker over to the steps and delivers a WICKED piledriver on them, complete with sick crack as Taker's head meets the steel. Shawn gets bitchy with the cameraman, then rolls into the ring to catch his breath. Taker soon follows, so Shawn grabs a chair and smacks him in the back a couple of times for a two count. Slugfest, and Shawn traps taker in the ropes. His old cockiness just slips back over him as he lays in some punches, but he eats boot on a charge and Taker backdrops him to the floor. Shawn wipes out a cameraman on the way down, then beats him senseless!

    The commentators decry Shawn as he pummels the poor guy around the ring, and Earl eventually manages to stop him as a photographer calls for some medical help. Shawn gets a flying jalapeno on Taker, meanwhile, and nails the flying elbow as JR takes subtle potshots at Savage. The cameraman is dragged out as Shawn gets Sweet Chin Music....and Taker sits straight back up. Awesome. Shawn naturally pisses his pants and, seeing that his back-up plan is in full swing, escapes via the now-open door. An incensed Taker quickly follows, and Shawn hits a SICK dropkick, cracking his back on the concrete floor as he lands. I bet he regrets that now. Taker is up quickly, and he catapults Shawn into the cage, triggering the infamous mid-air blade job by Michaels. And indeed, when Shawn comes up he bleeding like a stuck pig. Taker runs him into the cage face-first, giving the WWF a great visual as Shawn's bloody and terrified face hurtles towards the camera. He comes back with a low blow and, desperate to get away, climbs the cage. Taker, game for anything, quickly follows...

    They brawl on the cage roof and Taker gets the upper hand, raking Shawn's face on the mesh and spattering blood on the camera lens below. Eww. Press slam on the roof, and Shawn wisely decides to climb back down. Taker has other ideas, however, and stamps on Shawn's fingers, sending him crashing through the Spanish announce table! The crowd goes nuts as Taker calmly climbs down to the floor and beals Shawn across the French table. He slams Shawn onto the remains of the announce table, then chases him back into the cage as the commentators sense the end is near. Taker sits Shawn-who is either selling really well, or is just totally zonked-up top and chokeslams him down, then grabs the chair from earlier and returns the favour from SummerSlam, just CROWNING Shawn with a vicious chair shot. He draws his thumb across the throat...and the lights go out. The organ music announces the arrival of Kane w/Paul Bearer, who stalks the aisle and tears the cage door form it's hinges. Taker's acting is superb here, half confused, half terrified. He stands eye-to-eye with his bro, who lights up the corners, then beats the piss out of Taker. A swank jumping Tombstone leaves Taker lying, and Kane quietly departs. A bloodied, beaten Shawn drags himself on top of Taker, and a groggy Earl makes the count, giving Shawn the win at 29:59. Wow. Just WOW. ***** HHH, Rude and Chyna drag the near-unconscious Shawn to the back as Taker stirs in the ring, and realisation dawns on his face.

    Final Thought: Most of the show is absolute crap, with a sombre tone to the proceedings due to Pillman's death, but you will not find a finer WWF Attitude match than the main event. Pitch-perfect in everything, from Shawn's speedball bumping to Taker's quietly menacing character to Kane's interference, and the match set a golden template for future glory, a holy grail not unlike the Shawn/Razor Ladder match. Watch it, revel in it, and hope Brock and Taker don't mess up too badly come No Mercy. Highly recommended.

    Ian Challis
    R.I.P The Shooters

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