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WWF @ Madison Square Garden
by Scrooge McSuck
June 12, 1993
- Welcome to another edition of Fan-Cam Fan-demonium! In the likely event someone reading this doesn't quite know, the show I'm about to recap is not a professional produced show, but a live event that a fan snuck a camera to and recorded for the benefit of making a few bucks on the tape trading circuit. We're only a day away from the Inaugural King of the Ring PPV, so let's see what is going on within the WWF....
Opening Match: "El Matador" Tito Santana vs. Papa Shango:
This should be an electriying opener. Both men made their last PPV appearances at the Royal Rumble, and worked together in the Dark Match at WrestleMania IX. Santana would be gone by mid-Summer, and Shango would be taken off TV and eventually repackaged as Kama, the Supreme Fighting Machine. Shango actually plays along with the Bullfighter cape bit in an awful, but comical, moment. Lockup, and Santana with a clean break. Shango has the BALLS to complain about a hair pull, but the referee is all "WHAT?!?". Shango with a cheap shot, and the match is already crap thanks to Shango's terrible offense. Santana avoids a charge and sends him to the floor via dropkick. Santana out-smarts Shango during an attempted test-of-strength and works the arm. Shango counters a body press with a slam, but misses an elbow, allowing Santana to continue working a wristlock. Shango takes over as the crowd musters a "Tito!" chant. Tito comes back in with a sunset flip, but Shango puts him back down with a clothesline. The crowd remains hot for Santana while Shango continues to suck it. Santana offers a comeback and surprises Shango with a school boy for the three count at 12:14. That came out of nowhere. 1/2* Shango's dog-shit offense dragged this to nearly unwatchable levels. Pity points because Santana deserved better for his final show at the Garden. At least he went over clean. Shango matches almost always ended with lame DQ's.
WWF Intercontinental Championship Match:
Shawn Michaels © (w/ Diesel) vs. Razor Ramon:
Diesel is introduced simply as "Shawn Michaels' Bodyguard", not having yet adopted his proper ring name. Shawn won the belt back from Marty Jannetty about a week earlier in Albany, NY. Odd match, just because Ramon was still technically working as a heel on television, but was getting progressively over with the crowd as a face. Ramon works Shawn over early and punts him to the floor, giving us a minute or so of trash talking between Oz and the Diamond Studd over who's pay in WCW was worse. Shawn tries getting cute and ends up eating a choke-slam for his troubles. Ramon with an abdominal stretch, no doubt making Gorilla Monsoon proud. Fallaway slam gets two. Shawn avoids a charge and comes off the top with a clothesline, knocking Razor to the floor. Shawn grabs a front facelock as I notice a couple of overly excited kids in the front row. For a second I thought security was getting mad at them. Shawn holds this a while and uses the ropes for added leverage to give the impression he's trying. Razor fights free and connects with the Razor's Edge, but Diesel pulls Shawn out of the ring and takes the Count-Out at around the 9:00 mark. Wow, that was a crap finish, and another that just came out of nowhere. ** Started off fairly hot, then really nose-dived into the boring realm of mediocre with a weak finish.
Bret "Hitman" Hart vs. Bob Backlund:
This seems rather out of place, considering Bret was working the circuit with Lex Luger and Backlund was primarily working curtain jerking duties. I'm sure Dave Meltzer would be proud to see him featured in a high profile match. They shake hands to start, although Backlund teases reluctance. Cute spot since Backlund typically offered handshakes, only to be taunted or blown off by his opponent. Extended feeling out process, with both men struggling to gain the upper hand. Backlund sweeps the legs, but Bret kicks him away each time. A solid sequence of chain wrestling leads to the first pin attempt from Hart, only to be sent to the floor on the kick-out. Back inside, Backlund holds onto a side headlock, despite several attempts at escape from Hart, including a nifty roll-up by Backlund during what is usually a token criss-cross sequence. Bret escapes again, avoids an elbow drop, and starts working on the left arm. Backlund tries to slam his way free, but Bret rolls through by keeping the armbar applied. Bret suckers Backlund in with another handshake, grabbing a waistlock and going back to the arm.
Backlund muscles free and connects with an atomic drop to the knee, then drops a BRUTAL leg across the ankle that might've caused a minor injury. Backlund kicks away at the left knee and wrenches a standing toe hold. Bret kicks Backlund in the face to escape, only to be swept off his feet and quickly switches it up, turning him over with a Boston Crab. Bret powers out, only for Backlund to roll him up. They work through a series of pin attempts until Backlund sweeps and grapevines the leg. Bret works his way out of the predicament and goes back to the left arm. Backlund turns it around and cradles Bret for a near fall. Bret with a quick hip toss, then short-arm scissors the elbow. Backlund tries several times to muscle Bret up over his shoulders, but Bret hangs on. After two failed attempts, Backlund carries Bret to the corner and puts him across the buckle. Bret responds with a body press for a two count.
Backlund quickly takes him down with a back suplex for two. Bret with a vicious back breaker, followed by a headbutt. Bret with a slam, but Backlund rolls to the ropes during a Sharpshooter attempt. Backlund blocks the snap suplex, but Bret turns it into a small package. Backlund sets for a Piledriver, but it's countered with a back drop. Bret drops the leg, takes him down with the Russian leg sweep, and comes off the second rope with an elbow drop for two! Whip, and Backlund with a sunset flip for two. Bret goes for the Sharpshooter, but Backlund traps the ankle to counter! Bret with a series of uppercuts, and Backlund responds with a HUGE forearm. That looked good enough to probably loosen a tooth. Backlund slams him face-first into the canvas and connects with a delayed atomic drop. He connects with his second Piledriver attempt, nearly killing Bret in the process. It's only good for a two count. Bret blocks a suplex attempt, Backlund tries a roll-up off the ropes, and Bret reverses for the three count at 32:18! Yes, THIRTY TWO MINUTES. They have a moment of mutual respect as Hart celebrates. Tidbit of the Night: This marked Bob Backlund's first pinfall loss at Madison Square Garden.
***1/2 I probably should warn this match isn't for all tastes. I'm surprised I enjoyed it so much, but it was a well worked technical encounter that relied very little on high spots. It felt like a throwback to a style more known for Backlund's prime, rather than the product the WWF was presently offering, where 15-minute matches were considered long. There was some impatience from the crowd early on, but I felt they slowly brought fans into it, even if it was far from the most exciting match you will ever see. Taking things into account, that means Bret worked, in roughly a 24 hour time period, four matches of considerable quality (three the next night at the King of the Ring), several of them hurt (he's noticeably limping at the end of this, and missed a TV taping as a result of it), and his big prize at the end of it all was getting the potato treatment from Jerry Lawler.
The Undertaker vs. The Giant Gonzales (w/ Harvey Wippleman):
Wow, we go from a match that was on the verge of a 4-star performance to THIS. Blink and you'll miss Giant Gonzales' one and only match at Madison Square Garden. The same weekend, they decided to transfer the Undertaker into a House Show program with Mr. Hughes over stealing the urn and injuring Paul Bearer. It was only this same weekend where the angle was actually featured on Superstars. Gonzales bum rushes (that's being generous) and lays into 'Taker with some awful blows. Undertaker responds with his own, climbs the ropes, and chokes. It's sad when "Undertaker runs the ropes" is the matches bright spots. Gonzales grabs a sleeper chinlock, called such because this chinlock is putting me to sleep. The camera gets a nice, long shot of Gonzales' air-brushed ass-hair. Seriously, Undertaker might as well be wrestling the Invisible Man, Gonzales is that worthless. Gonzales with a big boot and awkwardly "runs" to hit a clothesline. 'Taker no-sells everything until a chair gets used with so little force, a fly would've survived the impact of it. It draws a Disqualification at 4:36. To the shock of no one, Undertaker sits up and scares Gonzales away before he can be smothered with a rag soaked in Yokozuna's butt sweat. -* We'll be generous and just call negative one for being reasonably short. Worse than their Mania IX Match, and I don't even remember how good/bad the match at SummerSlam was.
Tatanka vs. Bam Bam Bigelow:
These two had some odd chemistry, so let's hope for the best. They kicked off their angle fairly simply: Sherri and Luna had issues, Tatanka came to Sherri's rescue when Bigelow got in her face on behalf of Luna Vachon, and Bigelow responded by knocking him out and cutting off some of his symbolic red hair. Thankfully Vince wasn't calling the action screaming about Tatanka being raped of his dignity. Tatanka starts hot, attempting to murder Bigelow with his tomahawk. Bigelow pounds away and shows off his massive frame with a series of shoulder tackles. Tatanka with a shoulder tackle, dropkick, and body press for two. Bigelow reverses a whip, but runs into an elbow. Tatanka with a trio of clotheslines for a two count. He comes off the ropes with a DDT, then misses a body press from the top. Bigelow with headbutts for a two count. Bigelow kills a hope spot and connects with a dropkick for two. Bigelow goes for a Samoan Drop, but Tatanka wiggles free, only to get sat on. Bam Bam with more headbutts and a chinlock. Tatanka starts his comeback, and like every other match they've had, eats an enziguri. He pops up like his name is Hulk Hogan and resumes the comeback, laying into Bam Bam with chops. They take it to the floor, with Tatanka hitting the Samoan Drop and rolling back in to pick up a cheap Count-Out at 11:19. Bigelow gets his heat back with a post-match attack. *3/4 Outside of the occasional moment of excitement, very by the numbers and dull, especially that lengthy chinlock spot killing the match even more.
The Smoking Gunns & Kamala vs. The Headshrinkers & Afa:
I don't expect much out of this one. The Gunns and Headshrinkers are capable of good matches together, but the Gunns are still fairly green, and Kamala is a black-hole of suck and I expect him to be featured prominently. As usual, the Headshrinkers milk their pre-match ritual. Billy Gunn and Samu start, with Samu demonstrating he has the strength advantage. Billy with a single leg trip and a series of hip tosses, and now everyone, even Kamala and Afa, gets into the action. Billy Gunn pantomiming being a gun-slinger is pretty funny stuff. Kamala with chops and a crecent kick to Samu. Bart tags in, does a nice little sequence with Fatu, and ges to work on the arm. Whip to the ropes, with Bart taking a nasty spill to the floor. Afa comes in to help on a double clothesline and drops a headbutt. Bart gets triple-teamed while Billy accidentally distracts the referee. Bart ducks under a double clothesline and comes back with a pair of his own. Billy gets the hot tag and cleans house of both Headshrinkers. Afa comes in, only to get trashed by Kamala. Billy continues to run wild! Kamala in with a Splash on Samu, but he doesn't know how to cover him. Afa with a distraction, allowing Samu to roll Kamala up at 8:53. ** Pretty standard formula, but limited Kamala (thank God) and some decent, hard work from the Gunns.
- The Fink hypes the next show at Madison Square Garden, on August 13th. Doink, the EVIL Clown (Fink's emphasis!) takes on Marty Jannetty! Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels defends the belt against Mr. Perfect inside a Steel Cage! Finally, the 550-pound Yokozuna faces The Hitman, Bret Hart! Yeah, only one of these matches ends up taking place. We'll see which one very shortly, as that card is next in the list of Fan-Cam Fan-demonium.
Mr. Perfect vs. "The Narcissist" Lex Luger:
Judging by the strength of the card and hype leading up to it, I'm going to assume this was the true Main Event. We waste time with the "Luger has to wear a protective pad over his arm" bit, because of the loaded forearm. Luger has the nerve to slap Hennig, so Hennig responds by throwing the towel in his face. They do a cat-and-mouse bit, with Perfect out-smarting Luger. He drops a leg across the midsection, then drives the left knee into the canvas. Perfect with a single leg-trip and a spinning toe hold. After a few moments of that, he turns it into a form of an Indian Deathlock. Luger fights back to his feet and casually dumps Perfect over the top rope. Perfect blocks being rammed into the security rail and puts a beating on Luger around the ring. That's a heck of a slow count from Joey Marella. Luger regains control, doing the bare minimum while Hennig bumps around like a ping pong ball. Luger with a back breaker, his first non-punch offense of the match, at around the 7-minute mark. Perfect teases a comeback, but Luger goes to the eyes, takes him over with a hip toss, and slaps on a chinlock. Yawn. Perfect gives us a shot of Luger's bare ass on a sunset flip attempt, thus dropping the rating a quarter star. Perfect with a suplex, but he's too hurt to capitalize. Luger whiffs on a roundhouse and gets trapped in a sleeper. Perfect with an inverted atomic drop and clothesline. He takes Luger down with a knee lift and follows with the float-over neck snap for two. Small package gets two. Running dropkick gets two. Shawn Michaels runs out to create a distraction as he goes for the Perfect-Plex, allowing Luger to pull off the pad, hit the loaded forearm, and cover for the three count at 14:00. That could've used 5-minutes trimmed off. * Luger's lethargic action dragged things down. All the good bumping in the world from Hennig can't help in that situation.
Final Thoughts: Although there's only one match that stands out with significant quality (and again, it's not a match for all tastes), there's very little that's actually a detriment to enjoying the show. Yes, Undertaker/Gonzales sucked it, the opener was weak, and the Main Event was dull, but there's enjoyment to be found in the 6-Man Tag, Bam Bam/Tatanka, and Michaels/Razor. I definitely recommend tracking this down to see Bret vs. Backlund, just because it's something so different from the era and what WWF would never typically offer.
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