WWE Unreleased: Never Before Seen Matches 1986-1995
by Scrooge McSuck
- Picking things up with the 3rd and final disc of the set, and we're in the "low period" that is the mid 90's. Personally, I agree with the "1995 is a terrible year", but will defend 1993 to my grave. The quality of wrestling was up, and the ushering in of new faces and bidding farewell to some stale acts was a much-needed process that was obviously going to take time to establish a strong fanbase. Sean Mooney and Charly Caruso are still hanging around, of course, and we're in an era where Mooney wasn't an employee for the WWF (beyond the first couple of matches), so now he's scripted to act like he was in the company for everything else that happened.
The Undertaker (w/ Paul Bearer) vs. The Giant Gonzales (w/ Harvey Wippleman)
Taped on April 5th, 1993, from Phoenix, AZ. Remember what I said about 1993? Well, there are exceptions, naturally. Hard camera only for this one. Gonzales attacks, sending Taker into the turnbuckles. He lays Taker out with a clothesline and takes it to the floor, throwing some of the worst overhead strikes I've ever seen. Whip and he can barely get a leg up for a big boot. So far, the high-spot has been an obnoxious kid yelling about the camera blocking his view. You weren't missing anything, dork. Other than throwing a clothesline, nothing he does comes close to looking half-way decent. Taker teases a comeback, but Gonzales decides to cheap shot Paul Bearer and KO's Undertaker with the urn, drawing a Disqualification at 3:02. Post-match, they brawl back to the dressing room. DUD Short enough to avoid negative stars.
The Smoking Gunns vs. Barry Horowitz & Reno Riggins
Also taped on April 5th, 1993. Introductions are dubbed over with some generic hee-haw music, but in the post-match announcements, Billy and Bart are identified as Kip Winchester and Brett Colt. They'll still be Billy and Bart for simplicity sake. Billy and Horowitz start with some chain wrestling. Crisscross and Billy with a school boy for two. Horowitz with knees to the midsection of Bart, but Riggins tags in and immediately finds himself in trouble. Whip and the Gunns with a double-team Russian leg sweep. Whip reversal and Bart catches himself in the ropes in a rough looking landing, missing a body press. They hang Bart over the top rope while Billy inadvertently distracts a referee I have no memory of. Horowitz with a Northern Lights Suplex for two. Riggins with a whip and elbow for two. Horowitz with a jaw breaker for a series of two counts. Billy eventually gets the hot tag, running wild with slams and an ugly dropkick. Whip and a Powerslam to Riggins. Bart tags in, planting him with a spinning side slam, and Billy finishes with a flying bulldog at 8:53. ** Fine work, but far too long considering the level of opponents and this was basically the introductions to the fans of the Smoking Gunns.
Shawn Michaels vs. Mr. Perfect
Taped on April 6th, 1993, from Tucson, AZ. Perfect tosses a towel in Shawn's face and pounds away. Whip to the corner and Shawn takes a big bump to the floor. Perfect follows, but ends up being sent to the post. He hangs Perfect across the top rope and chokes. Suddenly, the camera starts pulling back, further and further, until we can make out the entire crowd sitting on their hands. Did the camera operator decide mid-match he had to pinch a loaf?! Michaels with a snap mare into a chin-lock. Perfect escapes and slams Michaels backwards by the hair. We FINALLY zoom back in with Perfect tossing him across the ring and posting him where it hurts the most. Whip to the corner and Perfect with a big forearm for two. Michaels escapes a headlock, throwing Perfect into the referee. He grabs the IC Title, but Perfect fights him off and traps him in the Perfect-Plex. Suddenly, a second referee comes out and counts three at 5:58. What?! I don't recall Perfect having a 3rd reign as Intercontinental Champion. Referee Billy Alfonso disputes the decision, being the original referee, but they never clear up the result so we're left with Perfect walking away with the belt. * This was one of the matches I was looking forward to, and it stunk. Sounds like a familiar tale we've heard about in 1993, but this was much, much worse.
The Tazmaniac vs. Skippy Taylor
Taped on May 5th from Portland, ME. The Tazmaniac is the primitive gimmick of the Human Suplex Machine, while Skippy is just Scott Taylor, the future Scotty Too Hotty. If you're wondering, it's a tryout match for Taz, while Taylor worked as enhancement talent for quite a while before getting his break. Lockup to the corner and Skippy gives a clean break. Tazmaniac escapes a wrist-lock with an overhead throw. Taylor comes back with a dropkick and hip toss, but Tazmaniac doesn't sell for long and regains control, throwing him over with a T-Bone Suplex. Tazmaniac with a snap mare into a chin-lock. Skippy rallies but gets caught with a Northern Lights suplex. Taylor escapes another chin-lock and takes him over with a sunset flip for two. Tazmaniac quickly gets to his feet and lays Taylor out with a clothesline. Whip to the corner and an overhead belly-to-belly suplex finishes at 3:55. *1/2 Decent for a tryout match, but this crowd couldn't care less, being unfamiliar with both.
Bret "Hitman" Hart vs. Yokozuna (w/ Mr. Fuji)
Also taped on May 5th, I almost typed up that this was a WWE Title Match, but then I remembered Hogan was still the Champion. Bret quickly goes to work, pounding away with rights and coming off the ropes with clotheslines. Yokozuna runs him over with a body block and chokes Hart across the middle rope. Yoko with a strike to the throat to cut off a potential comeback. He tosses Hart to the floor as the crowd rallies with a USA chant. Insert standard smark comment about Bret being Canadian and Yoko being American here. Back inside, Yoko drops the big leg and calls Hart a "son of a bitch." I thought he didn't speak English! Whip to the corner and he follows in, missing a hip attack. Bret with a second rope bulldog for barely a two count. He comes off the second rope again, this time with a clothesline. He hits the ropes and takes Yoko down with another bulldog, then traps him in the Sharpshooter. Fuji comes into the ring, drawing a Disqualification at 5:10. Post-match, Yoko smacks Bret across the back with the flag pole. They double team him until Owen comes to help out, but he gets the same treatment, including a belly-to-belly suplex. Bret ends up making the save for the guy saving him, and together they clear Yoko with a double dropkick. *1/2 Standard dark match stuff.
The Mega Maniacs (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. Money Inc
Taped on Jun 14th, 1993, from Columbus, OH. Sgt. Slaughter is the VERY special referee (Mike McGuirk said it, not me), despite having ZERO television presence following the 1993 Royal Rumble. Oh, and Money Inc. lost the Tag Titles THE SAME DAY, also in a Dark Match! WHY ISN'T THAT MATCH ON HERE!?! The fabled match where Hogan and Gonzales was part of the TV tapings the next day, also not on the set. How can these people sleep at night?! The Coliseum Video banner is hanging proudly and the production values seems like this was intended to be used, but maybe Hogan leaving put the kibosh on it. Beefcake is working without the face protector.
With that extended rant and complaining out of the way, time for the match. It's a brawl to start, with Hulk and Beefcake VERY CASUALLY clearing the ex-Champions from the ring. Slaughter takes forever giving instructions, or maybe he forgot where he was and decided to have a conversation about the new Florida Marlins and Colorado Rockies. Hogan and Dibiase start. Slaughter steps in front of Dibiase, allowing Hogan to take control with a pair of thumbs to the eye and a back rake. Beefcake with a big boot, sending him to the floor. Beefcake with an arm drag, but Dibiase complains about a hair pull, leading to a long sequence of pantomiming what took place, including Slaughter doing an arm drag on Dibiase and doing a school yard trip for a near fall. I.R.S. runs in and doesn't fare much better. I.R.S. with a knee to the back, allowing Dibiase to take over. There's enough dead time between spots for Slaughter to contemplate a career in the American Wrestling Federation. Money Inc. take turns working a chin-lock, and Slaughter enforces the tag when they switch behind his back. Hogan eventually gets the hot tag, but not before Beefcake rolls around like Curly from the Three Stooges. Hogan with rights and a big boot to Dibiase. The briefcase comes into play, and Hogan clobbers Dibiase with it. Irwin tries to do the same, but Slaughter steals it from him, nails both Dibiase and I.R.S. with it, THEN calls for the Disqualification at 13:01, awarding the match to Hulk and Beefcake. -** This was dark match hell, featuring mostly comedy and stalling, and made their WrestleMania IX match look like a lost classic by comparison. Awful. Just awful. The only reason it isn't worse than Demolition vs. POP from Part 1 is the fact they did something.
Lex Luger vs. Ludvig Borga
Taped on October 20th, 1993, from Burlington, VT. I guess Glens Falls was booked. This isn't giving me hope for a rebound match after the last stinker. Not the best reaction for the alleged #1 babyface. Lockup, with Luger getting shoved into the corner. Some goober in the front row starts stripping, challenging Borga to a fight, and the fans give him a better pop than Luger! OK, maybe not, but these guys aren't giving me much to work with. Luger shows off his Captain America might with a side headlock, but his shoulder tackle doesn't budge the Evil Environmentalist. He changes the game plan, choosing to work the arm next. Borga with an elbow that is gloriously over-sold in a way only Luger can, by yelling really loud about it. Luger with a diving body press for two! Well, that's worth at least a quarter of a star right there. Borga meets a charge with a boot to the midsection. Shirtless Mark is still amped for a potential fight, and really, that would be worth every second to see Borga knock the piss out of him. Borga with a slam and jumping elbow drop for two. After a LONG chin-lock spot, Luger rallies with a back suplex, but Borga no-sells and lays him out with a clothesline for two. Luger comes back with rights and finally takes Borga down with a clothesline. School boy for two. I expected that to be the finish, to be honest. Whip, Luger ducks a clothesline, and the loaded forearm finishes at 12:23. ½* Another bad match, but they were at least trying to have a serious match, even if it stunk.
"Macho Man" Randy Savage vs. Crush (w/ Mr. Fuji)
Taped on February 1st, 1994, from White Plains, NY. Savage attacks Crush on the floor and rams him face-first into the post. In the ring, Savage with jabs and a running elbow. He plants Crush with a slam, but a trip to the top is met with interference from Fuji. Savage gives chase on the floor, but Crush recovers and lands a chop to the throat. Crush with an inverted atomic drop as the camera man leaves to take a piss. Crush with a series of kicks to the midsection, followed by a super-kick, complete with leg slap. What is this, 2017?! Savage rakes the eyes, takes Crush over with a hip toss, and knocks him out of the ring with a double axe-handle. Savage follows him out, only to get sent into the post. Back inside, Crush, from the evil country of Hawaii, gets the crowd pissed off enough to chant U-S-A while he slaps on a bear-hug. He gets bored of that and transitions to a modified surfboard. Crush with a tilt-o-whirl back breaker for two. Savage with a surprise roll-up for two. Whip and Savage comes off the ropes with a clothesline. He blocks a suplex attempt and counters with his own. Fuji passes a baggie of salt to Crush, but Savage knocks it back in his face, plants him with a slam, and finishes with the Flying Elbow at 9:16. * Babyface formula Savage matches from the 1990's never did much for me. You know what I mean, where he sells the entire time and gets the clean pin in the end.
Bret "Hitman" Hart vs. Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart
Taped on October 21st, 1994, from Montreal, Quebec, and NOT a TV Taping, just a normal house show, making it the only match on the set to come from such a source. Neidhart attacks during introductions, but Bret quickly rallies, knocking Neidhart down with a clothesline, and turning him over with the Sharpshooter until Jeff Jarrett runs in to make the save. Well, there's no bell, so the match technically hasn't started. Bret sidesteps a charge to the corner and pounds away. Bret with a diving body press for two. He sweeps the leg and pulls Neidhart to the floor, then takes a shot at Jarrett. Shoulder to the midsection and sunset flip for two. Whip to the corner is reversed, with Bret taking a chest-first bump. Neidhart with a short clothesline for two. We slow things down again with a bear-hug. Neidhart with a power-slam for a near fall. Bret catches Neidhart napping on the apron and brings him back in with a slingshot, then plants him with a running bulldog for two. Fist to the midsection and Russian leg sweep for two. Small package for two. Neidhart gets the boot up on the second rope elbow to break up the five moves of doom. He goes to the top rope, and ends as well as you'd expect: missing a splash, and Bret rolling him up after heel miscommunication at 8:27. *1/2 Worse than their match from MSG a week later. Neidhart had very little to offer in a singles role.
- Sean Mooney and Charly Caruso talk about some unseen Ladder Matches, and we throw it to footage of... Shawn vs. Razor from WrestleMania X? Charly with the line of the night, saying we've seen that match on every DVD set ever made.
The British Bulldog vs. "Double J" Jeff Jarrett (w/ The Roadie)
Taped on May 16th, 1995, from Danbury, CT. There's handfuls of empty seats facing the hard camera, so you know we're in hard times when it comes to WWF drawing fans, even with freebies. This is a Ladder Match for the Intercontinental Title, and Jarrett is ridiculously not over. Roadie with a distraction, allowing Jarrett to pound away. Whip and Bulldog comes back with the delayed vertical suplex. Roadie trips him up, again assisting Jarrett in getting the upper hand. Looking at the half-filled camera side of the crowd is almost depressing. How the mighty had fallen. Lex Luger shows up to chase the Roadie from ringside. Bulldog with rights and another suplex. Bulldog gets the ladder for the first attempt to climb, but Jarrett tips it over. Jarrett uses the ladder as a battering ram and dumps Bulldog to the floor. Jarrett climbs and gets dropped across the top rope. Both men climb and both men fall. Bulldog continues to use the ladder as a weapon and plants Jarrett with a press slam. Jarrett with a dropkick to topple the ladder. He climbs up, and Bulldog pulls him down, but Jarrett pulls off the IC Title in the process to retain at 9:07. * Not good, Bruno.
Razor Ramon vs. "Double J" Jeff Jarrett
Taped on June 5th, 1995, from Struthers, OH, our first Monday Night Raw dark match. Did we need TWO Ladder Matches, with the same vanilla heel, three weeks apart? Jarrett's music might be the dullest, least heat receiving theme song possible. Jarrett complains about the height of the IC Title being positioned above the ring. Only WWE could market foam razor blades to kids and not think twice about it. Razor shrugs off Jarrett's patented chain wrestling to punch him in the face. Jarrett comes back with a swinging neck breaker and dropkick, sending Ramon to the floor. He sets up the ladder first, but chooses to jump off with a fist drop instead of going for the easy victory. He climbs again, but Razor pushes the ladder over, dropping Jarrett across the top rope. Whip and Razor with the fall-away slam. Razor climbs, but has the same lack of luck. Jarrett, jerk of the year, casually tips the ladder on top of him to add injury to insult. Razor sets up for the Razor's Edge, facing the ropes, so draw your own conclusion for what happens next. They both try climbing next, trading blows near the top. Razor takes him down with a hip toss, and now the ladder lands on top of Double J. Ramon launches Jarrett into the ladder and lays him out with a big right hand. Jarrett pushes the ladder over, straddling Razor's boys on the top rope, and trapping his leg in the rope, allowing the easy climb to retain at 10:02. Post-match, Ramon gives Double J the Razor's Edge to send the fans home less upset. ** Cookie cutter stuff, but better than the previous match with Davey Boy.
- Sean Mooney and Charly Caruso mark out over seeing a match with Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels... where they're on the same team! Oh, and Mooney might be living there, considering the presence of a toothbrush among the collection of boxes and VHS tapes.
Bret Hart & Shawn Michaels vs. Hakushi & Jerry Lawler
Taped on July 26th, 1995, from St. Louis, MO, and the last taping for Wrestling Challenge. The same taping featured a Phantasio match, but we were spared that... for now. Hakushi and Lawler attack before the bell with old fashion stomping and punching. Hakushi sends Bret to the corner and follows him in with a handspring elbow. Lawler with a fist from the middle rope, followed by a piledriver. Hakushi from the top with a sledge. Whenever he gets the chance, Lawler chokes Bret behind the referee's back. Bret rallies with rights, but Lawler rakes the eyes to slow him down. Hakushi with a second rope springboard splash for two. Bret gets dumped out, and again Lawler with a cheap shot. Bret counters a suplex with a cradle for two. Lawler makes an unwise trip to the top rope, and FINALLY Shawn gets the hot tag, his first action since the opening bell. He sends Hakushi to the corner, hits a diving forearm, and springboards off the top with a double axe-handle for two. Small package for two. Slam and flying elbow drop for two. Bret with an inverted atomic drop and clothesline, and the Sharpshooter finishes at 10:34. *1/2 When Charly said we'd get the best of both worlds, I guess she meant we'd get to see Shawn and Bret both not trying hard.
Diesel vs. Yokozuna (w/ Mr. Fuji & Jim Cornette)
Taped on July 26th, 1995, and our final match on the set. This happens to be a Steel Cage Match, so we should expect a train-wreck considering Yoko's conditioning at this point. What's a bigger disgrace to kayfabe, Yokozuna pretending to be Japanese, or Diesel pretending to be a draw? Diesel starts with rights, but gets laid out with a clothesline. They trade headbutts for a comical double-butt landing. Diesel tries climbing out, but Yoko uses his Kung-Fu grip to magically pull him back in. Diesel's next escape attempt is met by a flag pole to the chest. They tussle and trade blows, trying to exit the door. Yoko misses the leg drop and gets his turn to play dead. Oments later, Yoko tries CLIMBING THE F*CKING CAGE, but only gets a couple of feet off the ground before gravity wins out. Hearing Cornette yelling in disapproval from the outside is hilarious. Diesel sends the mammoth into the cage and lays him out with a running boot. Whip and a double clothesline for more canvas resting. Why does Diesel's singlet only say "Big Daddy"? Yoko goes for the door, but Diesel climbs out to retain at 11:59. *1/2 This was... something else. It had moments of entertainment, but was mostly laying around, playing dead.
- We wrap things up with the only possible result... Sean Mooney going to sleep, cuddling with an Ultimate Warrior wrestling buddy (from Tonka!). I don't care what anyone says, Mooney is comedy gold! GIVE THIS MAN A NETWORK SHOW BRING BACK THE EVENT CENTER! I CAN'T STOP USING ALL CAPS!
Final Thoughts: Disc 3 seems to lose a little steam, with fewer quality matches and some unusual choices based on the level of production quality. Overall, I wasn't expecting much when it came to "good" matches, with the focus being on unseen matches from one of my favorite eras, with rose-tinted glasses masking things along the way. In small doses, a set like this is a must have, but you'll quickly get burned out if you binge watch too much. Here's hoping for a 2nd Volume sometime down the road. We all know they have much more to offer that didn't find a home on this set.
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