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Best of the WWF Vol. 20
by Scrooge McSuck
- Sean Mooney is our host, and apparently, there's a big party going down at the headquarters of Coliseum Video to honor the 20th edition of the Best of the WWF Series. Weird how the significant 20th ended up being the last. Anyway, Brother Love shows up halfway into the tape to act as an annoying counterpart to Mooney's robotic narrations, and things end with Tony Schiavone showing up to tell Mooney he's set up the party in the wrong room, and has been missing out on all the fun the entire time. With all that out of the way, let's see what the wonderful and important, special anniversary edition of Best of the WWF has to offer...
The Red Rooster vs. The Brooklyn Brawler:
Yay. From the May 8th, 1989 card held at the Meadowlands Arena in East Ruthorford, NJ. I'm sure everyone is familiar with the horrible Red Rooster gimmick and how Steve Lombardi was pushed for about a week as something more than talent enhancement, so we'll just get to the match. I'm pretty sure the angle was dead at this point in television time, but they've got to keep running house shows for a little while longer. Shoving match to start, then they exchange blows. Rooster with a jaw buster to take control, and blink or you'll miss it, but the Brawler actually has a Brooklyn Dodgers shirt on. First time EVER. Criss-cross sequence, and Rooster with a slam for two. Rooster slaps on a wristlock, and works that for a while. Brawler escapes, but misses a charge to the corner. Rooster with a short-arm clothesline and knee drop for two. Rooster works a hammerlock this time. Brawler escapes and dumps the Rooster to the floor. He returns to the ring to return the favor, but a follow up attack sees him get a taste of the ring post. Back inside, and the Brawler controls the match with the most electrifying rest hold in sports entertainment... the chinlock. He throws in a few punches and forearms to change up the offense. Rooster fights free, but I guess a slam attempt is too much for him, allowing the Brawler to land on top for two. Rooster surprises Brawler with a small package for a two count. Rooster with an atomic drop, followed by clothesline. Whip to the ropes, and Brawler counters a back drop with a kick to the chest. Whip to the corner, and Rooster surprises Brawler with a sunset flip for the three count at 8:57. Well, I guess they could've gone with a back slide for a more generic finish to this match. Rooster had a few moments of decent action, but this was pretty boring, and half of it was Brawler's chinlocks. It's amazing how this guy remained an active member of the roster, and then a road agent, probably to this day (September 2012).
Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake vs. Bad News Brown:
From the April 22nd, 1989 card held at the Boston Garden. This seems like a pretty odd match-up, considering it's two uppercard performers who never really had a program together, but at the same time, were currently doing nothing, so it makes sense when you think of it that way. Tony Schiavone and Lord Alfred Hayes are calling the action, but much like the first match, there's something wrong with the audio, making it a litlle hard to hear. Brown attacks from behind to start, then uses Beefcake's coat to continue the punishment with choking. Brown controls with punches and headbutts. Brown with choking across the top rope. Beefcake finally shows some signs of life, but Brown snuffs out the comeback with a kick to the gut. Whip to the ropes, Brown with a chop, followed b an elbow drop. Brown with a scoop slam and fist drop, but he chooses not to cover. Whip to the corner, and Brown misses a charge. Beefcake pounds away and shakes his booty. I'd make a Booty Man joke, but I'm thinking why was he dressed like the Zodiac gimmick in Mr. Nanny, a movie that was filmed in 1993? Did he have that gimmick on his mind as a possible option for his time outside of the WWF? Anyway, back to the match... Brown regains control, but Beefcake comes back off the ropes with a bod press for two. Brown with a slam, then unwisely heads to the top rope. Beefcake pops up in time to slam Brown off, and signals for the finish. Whip to the ropes, and Beefcake slaps on the Sleeper, but Brown rams him back into the corner to break it. Whip across the ring, and Brown lays him out with a clothesline. Brown grabs the house mic' for whatever reason, then goes for the scissors, but this buys Beefcake enough time to roll him up for the surprise three count at 7:38. Blech... I expected much, much better than "absolutely nothing" here. It was short, but it felt like it was dragging, if that makes any sense.
King's Crown Match: King Haku (w/ Bobby Heenan) vs. "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan:
From the May 13th, 1989 episode of Superstars of Wrestling, with Vince McMahon and Jesse Ventura calling the action. I'm pretty sure this was taped from Glen Falls, NY (Duggan's announced hometown), so something's up. This was before the days of making the hometown hero look like shit. Lockup into the ropes, and Haku gives a surprisingly clean break. Lockup, and this time Haku offers a cheap shot. Whip to the ropes, and Duggan comes back with a clothesline. Duggan with a side headlock, followed by a shoulder block. Haku comes off the ropes, and gets taken over with a hip toss. Duggan with rights, sending him to the floor for a breather. Back inside, Haku works a wristlock, but Duggan fights free of that quite quickly. Haku rakes the eyes, but Duggan has trouble selling it, and sends Haku to the buckle. Haku connects with a clothesline, but misses a senton splash. Duggan recovers, hits the charging clothesline, and wins the so-called title of King at 3:28. Watchable, short , feature television match.
- We follow that up with the Coronation Ceremony the next week. All of the babyfaces ar present, including Big John Studd, Hillbilly Jim, the Young Stallions, Koko B. Ware, and of course, Tim freakin' Horner. Yes, all the faces (sans the Hulkster) are there, but I liked naming the lesser appreciated/liked people instead. Duggan makes goofy faces the whole time, while we see Bobby Heenan, Andre the Giant, and No-Longer-King Haku acting all pissy and frustrated backstage. Cute segment for what it was.
16 Man Battle Royale:
(Participants: Bret "Hitman" Hart, Tito Santana, Demolition Ax & Smash, Hillbilly Jim, The Blue Blazer, The Red Rooster, Jim Powers, Mr. Perfect, "The Model" Rick Martel, Big Boss Man, Akeem, The Honkytonk Man, Greg "The Hammer" Valentine, The Brooklyn Brawler, Richard Charland)
Pulled from the May 1st, 1989 card held at the Copps Coliseum in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. I've recapped the entire card a long time ago, but no big deal. Everyone involved competed in matches earlier in the show, with only Warrior and Rick Rude not returning for double duty. Demolition pound away on Akeem, and send him over and out at the 9-second mark. That's what I call being awesome. They recycled the tactic to dump Andre in the 1990 Rumble. Blink and you'll miss the only match to feature Bret and Owen Hart, even if the Blazer's identity was kept a secret. They even work in a double team spot on Valentine. Yay! Boss Man avenges his partner's elimination by sending Ax back to the locker room at 3:49. He gets the bang for his buck by clearing out Career JTTS Jim Powers moments later, at 4:14. Smash sends Honkytonk Man out at 4:21. Richard Charland goes next, courtesy Hillbilly Jim at around 5:20. The Blazer's night comes to an end thanks to the almighty Brooklyn Brawler at 5:30. Ugh... Brawler goes next, by Smash, at 5:46. Seems like everyone is going in rapid succession at this point. Valentine takes care of the Rooster from the apron at 6:54, and then Hillbilly finishes Valentine off at 7:02. Smash and Boss Man make sure neither of them can win it, eliminating each other at around 7:30. Hillbilly Jim is the odd man out in a group of solid workers, and gets dumped by Hennig at 7:50, leacing a final four of Bret, Tito, Perfect, and Martel. Not too shabby. Martel/Santana and Bret/Perfect pair up, in the obvious choices. Santana gets the upperhand on Martel, but Perfect sneaks up from behind and tosses him at 9:23. Perfect and Martel double team Bret, but sore-loser Santana pulls the ropes down, causing Martel to be eliminated at 10:43, and Bret finishes things by sending Perfect to the floor with a clothesline at 10:53. Decent Battle Royale, especiall the last few minutes, but Battle Royale's are typically interchangable because of their "generic offense" formulas.
The Hart Foundation vs. The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers:
Special Referee: Brother Love
Taped on February 3rd, 1989, from Milwaukee, WI, the same taping as the Main Event that featured the Mega Powers EXPLODING. That taping sure did produce quite a few features and Coliseum Video exclusives, with Demolition/Powers of Pain (Best of Vol. 19) and Valentine/Warrior (Ultimate Warrior) being a few other examples of pulling from the taping. If you've seen one match with the formula we're about to see, I've seen it enough. It was done for months, with the same typical formula: stalling, heels cheat, bias referee allows it, bias referee holds back faces from doing anything, shitty finish. Let's see... Brother Love talks for about 5-minutes (stalling, check), the lockup is forcefully broken up when the babyface has the opponent backed into the corner (check), Brother Love allows the Rougeaus to stall for time (helping the heels, check), Rougeaus gets super-fast counts on pinfall attempts (check0, and Raymond rolls up Bret for a one count, but Brother Love counts to three anyway, and the mess is over at 12:27. I just completed the "Shitty gimmicked special referee" Bingo Card without having to even watch the match first to make sure I got them all. The only nice thing I can say is this was about half as long as most matches I've seen between these teams that worked the lame Brother Love as a referee formula. After the match, the Foundation lays out Love with the Hart Attack, because the crowd needed something to cheer for after all of that.
WWF Championship Match:
Hulk Hogan © vs. "Ravishing" Rick Rude (w/ Bobby Heenan):
Final match on the tape, and we're pulling this from the January 9th, 1988 card held at the Boston Garden. Talk about random pulls... most everything else is from the Winter-Spring of 1989, but this is from before WrestleMania IV, and Hogan was still in his first reign as Champion. Remember a time when it was only a "former" and not "multi-time" Champion? Before the match starts, Heenan talks trash to Hogan on the house mic', and Rude challenges him to an arm-wrestling contest. The lockup, and Rude shoves Hogan back into the corner. Rude offers Hogan to go through with the arm-wrestling, and Hogan obliges. Hogan wins that easily, making it a waste of time. Hogan sends Rude to the corner, and unloads on him with a series of rights. Hogan continues the dominance, and sends Rude to the floor following an atomic drop. Hogan takes a cheap shot at Heenan, just for the hell of it. Back inside, and Hogan controls with even more roundhouse rights. He slaps on a wristlock, but Rude counters and takes him to the canvas with a handful of whatever hair Hogan has left. Hogan counters back, and returns the hair-pulling favor. How dare you mess up his wonderful perm! Hogan with a suplex, but he misses an elbow drop. Rude works over Hogan with blows to the back of the head. Rude attempts to ram Hogan into the buckle, but he blocks and rams Rude, instead. Heenan grabs the leg, forcing Hogan into a game of cat-and-mouse, allowing Rude to work him over, again. Rude bops him quite weakly with a wooden chair, but that only gets two, so he settles into the only thing he could do well at the time... an extremely long and boring chinlock. Ugh... the move that put me to sleep for WrestleMania IV. Rude changes it up by putting Hogan in the Body Vice, but Hogan slips free, and it's Hulk Up Time! Three rights, a scoop slam, and one leg drop later, and Hogan successfully defends the title at 11:40. Seems like there was a trim there... but nope, the real trim was after the match, Ted Dibiase came out to do a beatdown, but since that isn't relevant anymore, we just cut away before any of the post-match shenanigans. Match stank, by the way.
Final Thoughts: There's not a whole lot to see here in terms of quality wrestling. The best matches are a super-rushed feature match pulled from Superstars and a send-the-fans-home-happy, Battle Royale. Everything else is either boring (Brown/Beefcake), bad (Hogan/Rude), or really fucking terrible (Foundation/Rougeaus). On the positive side of things, there's some decent gems when it comes to rarities, with only one match pulled from television, and four matches being pulled from various local arena telecasts that most of the country missed out on. All things considered, I can't recommend this for anything, unless you REALLY like Jim Duggan.
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