Welcome to the first edition of LETHAL (SORTA) REMEMBERS THE 90S, where your favorite writers at Lethal will reminisce about the decade that was.
The 1990s started out as a dark time for pro wrestling. The WWF had gotten very behind the times, still booking like it was 1988 up until 1996. WCW had played musical chairs with their staff, leading to many bizarre, half-finished storylines that continued into their demise in 2001. It took wrestling 6 years to step into the new age, so maybe we should hold out hope for today?
TIGER MASK BECOMES MISAWA
AWC: For those that don’t know, the Tiger Mask character was based on a Japanese cartoon, so Misawa stepping out of that and becoming the best wrestler in his country would be kind of like Chris Benoit doing a Darkwing Duck gimmick and then becoming the Chris Benoit we all mark over.
Obviously, I didn’t see any of his matches during the time they were going on. But I started buying lots of his tapes in 1996 and the motherfucker is one of the greatest wrestlers ever mask or no mask.
Barbwire Mike: Who?
Snipa: Who? What? I didn't follow Japanese wrestling. All I knew was that there was this guy who came over to WCW and kicked ass. I think his name was Liger something.
Inside Clyde: I was way more into Big Van Vader with his crazy smoke generating mask thing beating the shit out of Riki Choshu. That was what I watched at this time while playing pool at my friend's house waiting for "Kung Fu Theater" to come on. I would read about the Tiger Mask/Misawa stuff and see things on tapes that markish friends had, but honestly I was way more into what I could see every week from Japan.
Bret “Hitman” Hart
Der Kommissaar: I enjoyed Bret Hart's wrestling. He was wrestling the Warlord at the first house show I ever went to. The Warlord got DQed for throwing Bret over the top rope - that was the only plausible explanation I can come up with later, seeing as I had no idea that rule was in effect.
He was a solid wrestler, and he has Vince to thank for making his legend even bigger, especially with Survivor Series '97. Had that never happened, Bret would not have been remembered nearly as fondly.
Spyder Mayhem: I never really liked the Hitman as much as other people seemed, to but I was always entertained by his matches, and his impact upon what I perceive wrestling to be is undeniable.
There are certain things Hitman did that I miss. I do enjoy the cartoony, over the top faces of the early nineties. You knew Hitman was a good guy because he gave his glasses to someone in the crowd. It was easy to follow, I was young, it drew me in.
Despite his excellence of execution, despite his grim demeanor of focus as he walked down to the ring to dispense justice, I always perceived him to be a second-rate wrestler, behind Hulk Hogan and even at times Lex Luger, and the WWF is much to blame for this. The Yokozuna squash incident at Summerslam I believe really had an impact on how I viewed the WWF's structure. Bret Hart was a good guy, I should cheer him, but without Hulk Hogan the WWF would be overrun at any moment by the evil forces of the world, so I should cheer him more.
Bottom line about Bret Hart: He was probably the best wrestler in the WWF during the early 1990s, but he didn't feel that way. He was the second best face, behind Hogan. He was the second best ring psychologist, behind Jake Roberts. He was the second best ladies' man, behind Shawn Michaels. I think even now, when you hear him talk about the screwjob, you can still hear the insecurities of a man always percieved to be second best, even when at the top of his game.
Shaun: When I first started watching wrestling, I immediately took to the Hart Foundation. Thought they were a great team (back when there were a bunch of them) and enjoyed watching them do the Hart Attack. Then Bret started going his own way. I wasn't really into his decision to wrestle more singles matches but it's kinda thanks to him that I got into the wrestling aspect more than just the gimmicks, especially in the early 90s when there were so many STUPID gimmicks. When he won the world title from Flair at a house show, I flipped out, never thinking he'd win it. I can honestly say I've enjoyed his long run until his Goldberg-forced retirement. But after wrestling, I've become bored and very tired of "the screwjob". He was told to do his job since that's what he's paid for, and he didn't do it. That's Vince's side of the story but he's also the boss. Sorry, Bret.
AWC: Bret Hart, The bitterest there is, the bitterest there was, and the bitterest there ever will be. You know, at one time he actually wrestled instead of complained? Shocking. Bret was definitely the best WWF star of the early 90s, he could put on a good match with anybody. Then....he fucking lost his mind. But I do remember the greatness he once had. He was one of the few guys who could defend his title on Superstars to a lower mid-carder who didn’t stand a chance in hell of winning, and have a tremendous match. He made people like Tatanka, 1-2-3 Kid, and Bam Bam Bigelow look like a million dollars in the ring, just on weekend tv show main events. Let’s see Batista or Cena wrestle Spike Dudley or Steven Richards on Velocity and make it memorable.
One of my favorite Bret ironies is that he lost ALL his WWF world titles to screw jobs. He lost his first title to Yokozuna when Mr. Fuji threw salt in his eyes, he lost his second title to Bob Backlund when Owen convinced Helen Hart to throw the towel in even though British Bulldog (who was knocked out) was his towel man, he lost his third world title to Shawn Michaels in a “controversial, on the fly” sudden death match, he lost his 4th world title to Sid when Steve Austin cost him the match, and he lost his 5th world title to the infamous screw job. Wrestling With Shadows is a helluva movie, by the way.
Judge Gonz: I was a big Bret Hart mark for the longest time. He was a fine technical wrestler, and an even bigger fan favorite. The first PPV's I ever rented were Summerslam 92 and then Wrestlemania 10 a few years later, and I rented them specifically for Bret's matches those nights (Bulldog/Bret for the IC Title at Wembley, Bret vs. Owen, and then vs. Yoko for the belt). I always thought the "put the glasses on the kid in the crowd" shit was a bit hokey, and found it comedic when Owen started doing it.
Bret losing the belt to Bob Backlund (only for Backlund to lose it to Nash in 6 seconds at the next house show) was confusing, but seeing the look on Stu Hart's face after Martha threw in the towel was priceless. Damnit, I wish there was a .gif of that. Bret handing the proverbial "torch" to Austin at XIII was one of the best matches I had ever seen, even though it was the beginning of "heel Bret".
Bret sort of lost his way during the whole Canada vs. America gimmick feud, and it was apparent when he mentioned that Canada's beer and women were "butter". (No doot aboot it, eh?) The screwjob? Well...Bret said he saw it coming beforehand, but did he really? If i'm Bret Hart, I sign with Vince for a lower price, and not the gazillion dollar 20 year deal that was originally laid on the table. Seeing as how I would probably retire in two or three years anyways, I would’ve walked up to Vince, and said "Ok Vince, I know you cant afford our original deal, but I love this company, and if you want to give me a smaller deal over the next few years, and allow me a proper retirement, I will be fine with that."
But nooooooo, Bret has to go all apeshit and sign with a company where Hogan runs everything instead of him. Serves you right, Bret. You screw with Vince, and then Vince takes out your entire family (one of them on LIVE TV, mind you), and then giggles when the big jew knocks your block off. I do feel somewhat sorry for Bret these past few years, though, although, I wouldn’t be surprised if he and Vince patch things up and Bret comes back for maybe 1 or two matches, and goes out "his way". The mistakes he made at the end of his career cannot erase the successes generated in the first 15 years of it.
Even if Sunny DID give him scabies
Inside Clyde: I know people love the Hitman and all, but to me, since I so closely associated the British Bulldogs with the Hart Foundation since they were hot teams that started around the same time, I was more pissed that Dynamite Kid never got the great U.S. single's career that Bret got. Dynamite was better, to me. Hart gets lumped in with HBK and Diesel as guys who didn't draw. That's how I see them as adults. That said, when my friend Scott would pick someone up with a bearhug, I would always run up and clothesline them.
Barbwire Mike: He's a true Canadian hero. And after years of digging for the truth I'm still not sure if that's more of an indictment of Bret or of Canada.
What can you say about Bret that we here at Lethal haven't been saying since the day we went online the better part of a decade ago. Sad thing is at one time he was my favorite wrestler, which makes his descent into batshit craziness much more depressing than Warrior's.
Snipa: I'm not going to lie, Bret Hart is my favorite all-time wrestler. I knew, just knew he was destined for greater things when he was stuck in the tag team ranks with the Anvil. He's the reason I continued to watch professional wrestling, mainly because he was an alternative. I never really liked Hogan's punch kick Hulk up routine, and guys like Bret Hart who were technicians made the shows interesting to watch. It's a shame all the shit that has happened to him and his family, it really distracts all of us from the great career he has had. My favorite Bret Hart match is hard to classify because I've liked so many of them. Just to have something down, I'll say his match with Austin at WM 13.
The Von Erich Deaths
Barbwire Mike: Of course the greatest tragedy of the whole story is that we never got to see Chris reach his full potential.
Actually, now that I think about it we probably did.
It's easy to look upon those boys and feel superior... you know, what with still being alive and all... but really, I can only pass so much judgment. After all, I think back to the unGodly amounts of drugs that have passed through my small frame in my lifetime. And I had a dad who would have beaten the hell out of me if he'd ever seen them. If I'd had Kerry's freedom I'd probably be giving myself a heroin enema right now.
Only in the crazy relationship between pro wrestling and evangelism can Jesus appear and say "really, the Christian thing is to look the other way as your son shoots that smack into his scrotum. Keep doing Our work, you glorious ex-Nazi."
AWC: They were dropping like flies at one point....which didn’t surprise anyone who watched a single WCCW match, those motherfuckers had more coke in their locker room than they were making in South America! See what happens when your father is a Nazi? I guess I should never have kids.....Hey, didn’t Fritz have one of their funerals at a wrestling card?
Judge Gonz: Are there any Von Erich's left today? If so, they should continue the family legacy. Thats all I have to say about that.
Der Kommissaar: Kerry's death was the only one that I noticed. In my early days, I'd call the Texas Tornado "Horseface" and neigh after every time he did an interview. His death to me came only as a statistic to fill the "bad things come in threes" adage, considering his death was very close in time to Andre the Giant's passing and Dino Bravo's being whacked. I'm sure I'd have cared about the rest of them if I'd seen any of them wrestle even once.
Spyder Mayhem: I wasn't even remotely aware that Von Erichs were dying off in Holocaust-esque numbers. But I did like the Texas Tornado, crappy finisher and all.
Shaun: Being a bit younger than some on Lethal, I never watched any of the Von Erichs til that Texas Tornado guy came long. What was his name, Terry, Larry, Kerry? I didn't mind him, he was charismatic enough though his tornado punch was pretty dumb. Wasn't until years later that I read about the deaths (and several suicides) of the pseudo family. Thanks to the wonders of cable tv and someone getting a hold of old wrestling tapes to air them, I've finally been able to sit down and watch some of the Von Erichs' matches, particulary Kerry's. I like them, but I gotta wonder what really drove some of them to killing themselves. Oh yeah, drugs. Never mind.
Inside Clyde: World Class was the shit. It was the first wrestling I really watched. I lived a couple of years in Texas also, so there was that connection. The Von Erichs had the potential to be the greatest face gimmick ever...a family of good looking wrestlers that never worked heel. That's pretty amazing when you think about it. And World Class was fucking great...music videos, the Freebirds, mud wrestling with chicks, Missing Link...and the Von Erichs were a big part of it. My friends and I rooted for the Freebirds, mostly to piss of my friend Donovan's mother who loved the Von Erichs. I do remember marking out when Fritz got into the ring and put the claw on Hayes. Great stuff. Knowing now how bad things are and shit like charging money to go to David's memorial service pisses on all of that, unfortunately.
Snipa: All I know about this is everytime I turned around another one of those brothers were killing themselves.
Barbwire Mike: Coolest Von Erich: Karen.
Spyder Mayhem: Good to see the WWE has learned their lessons.
Barbwire Mike: Thank God for it. It eliminated the steroid problem in wrestling completely and taught the Illuminati that when they try and regulate steroids in professional sports they wind up looking like complete jackasses. Now we'll never have another ugly incident like this again. I mean, the US Government thinking the size of somebody's arms is among society's biggest problems and worth putting everything else on hold to try and legislate? What a backwards time that was...
Dimebag: The steroid trial was a huge deal to me. Back when the issue popped up, Lyle Alzado's terminal illnesses--as well as the general side effects of steroids such as organ failure, testicular shrinkage, rage, etc.--were being heavily publicized. It scared the shit out of me almost as bad as The Day After.
The precocious terror inspired by all of this even affected my personal health. I had severe allergies as a kid, to the point that I would sneeze until my eyes swelled shut and my nose would bleed...but I would refuse medical help after learning that I would be given steroidal medications for the allergies.
My father would berate me. "Oh come on, the medicine won't make your balls shrink," to which I would reply, "I don't care if they make them BIGGER. I'm not taking steroids." Ironic, since I would probably do them today if I were given a 2-year supply for free.
Der Kommissaar: In the first few episodes of Superstars that I ever watched, Vince was doing his spiel about steroids. I shrugged it off, not having the full picture, but I figured he was probably lying.
Shaun: Again, being so young, I never knew about this until years later. Fucked up, huh? It really did change the way wrestling was for a while, but after Vince coined "sports entertainment", it pretty much meant that anyone could juice and not get in trouble cause wrestling wasn't considered a real sport after the trial. We then got the little guys, who were real wrestlers and not body builders. Of course, now we get shit "talent" like Chris Masters and Luther Reigns (who are about as entertaining was watching hair grow on that steak you've left in the fridge for a year and a half) get TV time while the entertaining guys like Paul London MIGHT get put on the B-shows. Bah.
Inside Clyde: It was an embarrassing time to get into wrestling. Fucking embarrassing. From Hogan's lies, to McMahon's company going into the toilet, to the WBL...it was all bad. Sometimes I think that's why I trained in Japan instead in '93. The steroid trial was the removal of any vestige of innocence from the Hulkamania era. A tragic fall only beaten by the Death of WCW.
Snipa: Vince wins but it indirectly ushers in the age of the smaller wrestlers, so I guess every cloud has a silver lining. Methinks we need another one right about now. Then we can get our Simon Dean Title run!
AWC: I mean, really, who was surprised the 80s WWFers were juicing? It’s like being surprised that strippers have fake tits. It was wrestling’s worst kept secret that came to light when the doctor in PA got busted. Vince was clearly guilty, the witnesses for the defense were mostly unlikable, and some how he got found not guilty. I think he made a deal with the devil.
Judge Gonz: Vince was guilty as a motherfucker, yet got acquitted. And the trial wasnt even in LA County. What gives?
I always visualize Vince as Al Pacino's character from "The Devil's Advocate", where he reveals to Shane that he's Satan, and then asks Shane, Satan's son, to mate with Stephanie so she can give birth to the anti-christ.
Except instead of blowing his brains out like Keanu Reeves, Shane's response is probably "Whatever you say, pops!", climbs a scaffolding, and hits a huge spot right into Stephanie’s cavernous labia.
Then Stephanie gives birth to pure evil in human form.......and he will have the belt by WM XXXV.
Sgt. Slaughter Turns Heel On America
Barbwire Mike: I remember watching the payoff match to this, and marvelling at how much blood Hogan was losing. I loved the whole feud, but considering what wrestling has done since it was staggering how much legitimate disgust that angle got from fans across the board, both among those who did and didn't know what an "angle" was.
Among the real haters was Meltzer, and this was right as I first was discovering his sheet. I think the first lol comment I ever read from him was a review of the angle, where he translated Gen. Adnon's arabic ramblings as "Yeah, I suck... but I'm not as bad as that piece of shit Skandar Akbar."
Der Kommissaar: When I first started watching, Slaughter was already a heel. I had only a vague inkling that he was a face before that. Colonel Mustafa and General Adnan could teach Shawn Daivari a thing or two.
Even better than Slaughter's heel run was his attempt to go face. For SEVEN WEEKS IN A ROW, they put him in different situations, and he'd cut these long patriotic promos. Each one would end with, "I WAAAAAANT.... MY COOOOUNTRY BAAAAACK!" Heh. I need a sound clip of that.
Spyder Mayhem: So easy. So obvious. So caught me off guard.
The WWF actually booked this crap pretty well, playing up the patriotic feel of Sgt. Slaughter right before ripping the collective hearts out of children everywhere by having him side with the Iraqis right in the midst of the Gulf War. Yes, it was cheesy. No, it isn't remembered fondly. But it worked.
Which is the problem.
Now, any time anything captures the attention of America in general, the WWE tries desperately to capitalize on it. Shocking swerves are anything but, and you can almost be assured that if a poll comes out suggesting that Americans view a certain type of foreigners with contempt, the WWE will have a heel version of them wrestling within a week. Anyone remember when La Resistance was from Canada instead of France?
The selective memory of the WWE is vexing at best, damn near paralyzing at worst. If any idea from the past sparked even a bit of interest, it will be rehashed a bajillion times until any interest in it is gone forever. And then it will continue to be used just in case it works again. Nothing represents this better than Sgt. Slaughter's cheesy heel turn and it's still felt aftereffects.
Inside Clyde: The WWF started looking to the public a way that they had always avoided previous to this gimmick: desperate and out of touch. The product that once had Letterman drooling and art hipsters flocking now had the country rolling their eyes and Vince thinking they could pack 100,000 into an arena to see this shit. I, like Mike, remember the blood. I also remember newspaper articles about it all coming out and mentioning that Slaughter was promised an office gig if he would do the shtick, which was the first real show of "breaking kayfabe" that I remember up to then. The only good thing to come of all this was Warrior losing the belt to set up the match.
Shaun: I can't remember any of Slaughter's spitty promos about why he joined, but I was still baffled as to why he would sympathize with a shitty little country. I guess that's why they brought in Iron Sheik (or Gen. Adnan at this time) to help get him over. Or to spit in the couple of places Slaughter missed. This wasn't a very popular move on Vince's part, but he really had to start doing something to make people take notice of his shitty show at the time, so why not try to capitlize on the war? I kept watching but it wasn't very interesting until Hogan showed up, but even with Hogan (when I marked for him back then), I only paid attention up until Wrestlemania and after that, completely ignored Slaughter, even though he was again in the main event of the Summer Slam PPV which was worse than the Mania match.
AWC: The only thing stupider than the entire angle was Slaughter’s “Please take me back, America!” promos afterwards. This angle was just a cheap heat attempt by McMahon, and a way to get the belt off of Ultimate Warrior, who was a failed champion, and back onto Hogan without having to tempt fate by seeing if you could get another decent Warrior-Hogan match. It also was a great way to use “We found out a sniper was going to shoot Sgt. Slaughter if we held the match opened roof!” (bwahahahaha!) so you wouldn’t have to say “We can’t sell tickets for shit, we’ve got to go to a smaller venue.”
Snipa: I will always respect Slaughter for going along with this angle. It takes a lot of guts to do that during a time of war. I'm surprised he wasn't killed by some mark who couldn't realize it was just a show. At least he can say he won the World Title
Vince: "Say Sarge, theres a war going on."
Slaughter: "You dont say, Vince"
Vince: “I DO say, Sarge!"
Slaughter: "No shit? That would explain all the yellow ribbons and patriotism i've been seeing lately!"
Vince: "I want you to pretend you hate America, Sarge. Some crazy marks might want to kill you with a sniper rifle, too."
Slaughter: *gulpgulp* "Can I come up now, Vince?"
Vince: "Yes you may. Heres some babywipes for your mouth."
THAT’S how THAT meeting went down, peoples!
Pat Patterson Sexual Harassment Charges
Barbwire Mike: Who'd Patterson harass? Wendi Richter? Miss Elizabeth? I don't really remember the story but it doesn't seem like there were that many women around to harass during that era.
AWC: Gays in wrestling: another one of their worst kept secrets. Do you know how many blowjobs were given for titles? More than are given by aspiring actresses trying to get a movie role in Hollywood.
Barbwire Mike: Oooooh... wait. Now I see, it must be something embarrassing. And with not a lot of hot chicks around that must mean......OH GROSS!!
Inside Clyde: Again, more embarrassment to become a wrestler. In the end, though, Patterson proved to be one loyal guy to the WWF. How fitting that he was outsted for being honest about the company recently. As for the sexual harassment stuff, Patterson was the tip of the penis iceberg, when you look at how bad things are in, say, Mexico...in the WWF in the 80's, it was fucking Rome during the fall...not surprising with how crazy things got (stories about wife swapping, rampant cheating, Warrior fucking Shane, etc.) that someone had to take the fall. It was, of course, perennial "fall on the sword" Pat.
Snipa Never heard about this until years later. I suppose backstage at a wrestling event would be great for a homosexual.
Judge Gonz: Pat Patterson is a gay homosexual fag queer. (OMG QUADRUPLE NEGATIVE!!1!) That said, he was the first IC champion, and hence, had free reign to sexually harass anybody he wishes, be they gay or straight.
Der Kommissaar: It wasn't till a while later that I heard about this. My best friend had a photocopy of the Penthouse article that discussed the finger incident between Patterson and Billy Jack Haynes. It still makes me chuckle. Interesting how the wrestling business works sometimes: molest the wrestlers? That's fine. Mention de-pushing the boss' son-in-law? Unforgivable.
Brutus Beefcake’s Parasailing Accident
Spyder Mayhem: I marked out for the Barber when I was young because the WWF told me to. When he disappeared, my friend Tim Hall, much wiser in the actual ways of wrestling, told me of his "boating accident" and the fact that his face was destroyed and had to be replaced with metal plates.
Sufficed to say, my young imagination ran with these thoughts, and from then on out Brutus Beefcake always looked like some mix of Frankenstein and the Man in the Iron Mask in my mind. Honestly, even now when I look at pictures of Beefcake from after the accident I try and spot all of the metalwork that I had envisioned in my head underneath the poor man's skin.
Barbwire Mike: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAA!!!!
Shaun: I remember reading an old WWF magazine and noticing a story about Brutus in a motorcycle accident and having to have all these metal plates screwed in to keep his face together. I did like "The Barber" but it seemed like his career was over. And looking back, I wish it were. Jesus that guy had some HORRIBLE gimmicks. However, when he was wrestling, I was always watching to see if someone would punch him in the face so it would just fall apart.
Inside Clyde: I lost a bet because of this. I was convinced Beefcake and Hogan were brothers in real life (the only explanation I could see for Beefcake's push and being around Hogan outside of the ring so much) but his accident led to real names being published, etc. and I was wrong. As for the accident, I remember hearing about a dozen versions of the story...a prelude to the bullshit world of internet "news" reporting.
AWC: The accident turned him from an ugly, horse faced sucker of Hogan’s cock....to an even uglier, horse faced sucker of Hogan’s cock.
Der Kommissaar: Didn't do enough damage.
Barbwire Mike: Hay guys, I'm not sure I can recapture the emotion. How about just use the footage from when you asked me about Beefcake.
Inside Clyde: Loved him. Still do. Everyone hates Yokozuna now, but fuck that. He was a monster when the steroid trails killed off many monsters. He could move. He yelled "Samoa!" when he was supposed to be Japanese. I loved him. I love that he only lost when he had to wrestle twice. He was badass. He crushed the biggest push in wrestling history next to Goldberg (Lex Express). R.I.P. Yokozuna, my vote for most underrated wrestling talent of the time.
AWC: This was the man partially responsible for the WWF early 90s decline. The WWF had an amazing roster in late 1992/early 1993....but they chose to push a big fat man who makes Dusty Rhodes look anorexic, with zero personality, who was too fucking fat to work a half a star match even in his early days, and who had a gimmick that got stale in 2 months. Goddamn, not even Jim Cornette or Fuji could make him interesting!
Watching a Yokozuna match was about as fun-filled as being gang raped by the D.O.A. He’d waddle around the ring, his opponent would bounce off the ropes and come at him to knock him down, but would just bounce off his fat gut, the opponent would get some shots in, try to pick him up, throw out their back, and then Yoko would have his way with them. So, how do they cover up his lack of ability when he wins the title? By having his first title defense against the king of workrate, Lex Luger! Gee, how did the WWF die off like that in 1993?
He was bearable when he was tagging with Owen, I never minded them holding the tag titles. Owen would do all the work, and tag Yokozuna in to leg drop and then Banzai drop the challenger. He always should have strictly been a tag wrestler.
I had a ringside seat at a WWF house show in 1995. Yokozuna stood in front of me during an Owen Hart match. Words can’t describe how enormous he was a few feet away. I was surprised he didn’t kick the bucket sooner. Didn’t he have to fly out on freight planes because commercial planes couldn‘t hold him? Damn, that’s fat. BANZAI!
Snipa: Freakshow. Freakshow. Freakshow. That's about all he was good for. Somehow he got two WWF Title reigns out of the whole deal too.
Der Kommissaar: Yokozuna was one of like nine people to be hired at the same time. They went on a huge "throw-shit-to-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks" binge. My sister and I would roll our eyes at the interviews. He'd spout things that clearly weren't Japanese sounding at all. Things like "YOSH!" and (I'm trying to do this next one phonetically because I've never seen it written down...) "ZhoshNAIR-uh." It was because of this that I remarked to my sister he was probably Portuguese or something. We ended up calling him Portozuna for a while. Nothing wrong with Mr. Fuji and the salt-in-the-eyes gag.
I do remember when DiBiase took over Yoko's portfolio and he held a "Slam Yokozuna" contest at one of the Maple Leaf Gardens house shows. "You'll get five hundred dollars, and that's in American money," he'd say, or something similar. One of the house show regulars was this enormous black man named Bubba (or at least that's what he called himself.) He was like a prison stereotype. Everyone in the arena thought Bubba actually had a chance, and I think he even managed to get Yoko a half-inch off the ground before Yoko shoved him and the hold was released. Anyone else remember when Yoko and Owen Hart won the tag team belts? And now they're both dead so there you go.
Spyder Mayhem: Even my young mind was catching on to the fact that the WWF was seemingly just finding bigger and bigger people to throw at Hulk Hogan. That is what Yokozuna was to me then, and what he always will be. I never hated him as much as Earthquake, never feared his arrival like I did Earthquake's (I really, truly thought Earthquake would eventually break every rib in Hogan's body.)
Second-rate Earthquake. Welcome to hell, Yokozuna
Judge Gonz: Yokozuna and Mr. Fuji were useless. Yoko was a "squash champ". He had 5 or 6 moves, and was a dickhead because he refused to lose the strap to Luger at Summerslam 93 (which I attended), so they counted him out instead. When he died, they wouldve buried him in a trash dumpster and sang "Another One Bites the Dust" acapella style.
Shaun: So Vince couldn't use big muscular guys, so he went with a big fat guy instead, gaaah. I think he was only entertaining when he over-reacted to the bells from the Undertaker's theme music, and that's it. I hated him so much I actually was hoping LUGER would beat him at Summerslam. I hated to see Owen Hart get saddled with him, but it did mean a tag title reign or two, so it was all good. Thanks for making Owen a champ, Yoko!
Miss Elizabeth Marries “Macho Man” Randy Savage at Summerslam
Inside Clyde: I loved Macho and Liz growing up. Them getting married was one of the things that made me start to lose interest in wrestling (as a fan) for a time. Just kinda lame. I remember disliking fans at large for going so ga-ga for all that bullshit.
Shaun: Here's how I remember the show when he proposed. She was in the ring, the announcers were bugging Savage about proposing to her so he goes to the ring and gets on one knee.
Macho: "Ee-liz-ah-bit . . . Ah-leez-eh-bith . . ."
This went on for like 15 minutes in my head. Sooo fucking long. He finally proposes and she goes "Ohhh yeah" and everyone goes crazy. Macho's head nearly twists off as he looks around for approval. When I got the SummerSlam tape, I made sure to fast forward past the "Match Made in Heaven", though I was half-heartedly hoping it was really going to be a match. Certainly couldn't have worse than that "Match Made in Hell" later in the show.
Judge Gonz: Weakest shit ever. Even weaker than Stacy being preggers with David Flair's baby. Weaker than a Fatu/Sparky Plugg match on Superstars. Mach should've stuck to whoring Slim Jim's and not himself.
Der Kommissaar: I was told they were divorced in real life before they got married on screen, so I didn't think much of this angle. And out of all the things people will say about this, I can't really add much. But there is one thing that people won't mention and which struck the biggest cord with me. You might have forgotten it. Mean Gene was advertising hotlines for various things, and one of them was for the Macho and Liz hotline. He called it the "ATTACHED" hotline. The number was 1-whateverthefuckcodeitwasprobably900-ATTACHED. I said to myself, "Attached has eight letters. This is really an ATTACHE hotline. Who the hell registers a hotline with this number? And what kind of loser would actually call this?" If they were going to use eight letters, wouldn't "MACHOLIZ" or something be a little easier? I have a feeling this was the WWF's way of marketing product to girls. You don't need action, just a marriage plotline.
TUS: This meant a lot to me when it happened because I was a big Savage fan and I felt a lot of pain through all of his angles (Snake bite, losing to Hogan, etc) So the whole thing was enjoyable for me. Obviously, if I knew any kayfabe back then and knew it would be the start of trillions of marriage angles... I would have boycotted it then. My favorite part was the after party, when Taker crashed it and JAKE ROBERTS of all people fucking saved them...
Spyder Mayhem: I was happy for them. Seriously. It was such a strange thing to be marking out for when you are twelve, but I did. It felt the complete victory of a face, something so easy to cheer for without any bitter fringes or complicating strings.
Please note that I was very young, was not the product of an abusive family or childhood, so I wasn't able to spot anything Dimebag pointed out, which are all really good points, btw.
As it was, I cheered. No regrets.
Snipa: I was a mark back then, I enjoyed it. I also enjoyed Jake Roberts giving them a snake as a present at the wedding reception. Jake was the shit back in the day. I'll also add that I always had a crush on Elizabeth. Her and Winnie Cooper were the first loves of my life.
AWC: God, remember that song they played? I think they put it on the Anthology set. I HATED HATED HATED HATED HATED HATED HATED everything about this entire angle. I hated the way Elizabeth magically forgave Randy for his shitty treatment of her. I hated the way they used it as a dumb ploy to draw in the female audience. I hated the way they wasted airtime to promote the piece of shit wedding. I just hated everything about it. But I did want to fuck Elizabeth back then. Didn’t we all?
Barbwire Mike: Hated it. Uber gay. Macho's much more fun as a mysogynist than as a romantic. Next...
Barbwire Mike: I never rented any single wrestling tape as many times over the course of my life as I did this show. Ladder match and Bret/Owen (two of the best matches of the era on one show) and the classic Randy Savage/Crush flubbed finish for dessert.
I get so excited thinking of this show it makes me want to yell the immortal words of X-Pac: "CHAIRMAN MAO? GA-PAW!!" But then again, so do funeral processions. I swear to Christ that line made the whole "mind warping in ways that can never be undone" thing that their sex tape inflicted upon us almost worth it.
AWC: Best Wrestlemania ever. I was sick as shit with the flu when this was on, but no amount of illness could keep me from seeing it. The WWF product was very shitty at this point, but some how they pulled off the best all-around Wrestlemania of at least the 90s (So save your Wrestlemania 19 arguments.) When this video store I used to go to closed in 1997, they sold all of their videos, including the wrestling ones. I was disappointed someone got the WM10 video before I did. But I did buy Royal Rumble 1992, Wrestlemania 8, WCW Bash At The Beach 96 and Survivor Series 1995.
Bret vs. Owen was a true mat classic that I marked out like a sum’bitch when Owen beat Bret. Owen was the shit back then.
Bam Bam/Luna vs. Doink/Dink was awful. But doesn’t every great wrestling show have to have a stinker?
The Crush vs. Savage death match had a great ending, with Crush being unable to answer the 10 count because Macho tied him upside down in the back.
Quebecers vs. Men On A Mission was so bad it was good. I wish Mo would come back to the WWE.
Luger vs. Yoko WAS going to end with a Luger title victory, but he got drunk and blabbed the finish to a New York newspaper reporter in a bar, so Vince had to come up with the Mr. Perfect screwjob ending. But I think it worked out for the best since did anybody REALLY want to see Luger with the belt?
Adam Bomb vs. Earthquake.....okay, TWO stinkers on the show. But at least it was short.
Michaels vs. Ramon in the ladder match was great. Obviously, it hasn’t held up well due to the WWE going even further with high spots, but it’s still a great match.
Yoko vs. Bret made me very happy. I hated Yokozuna, in a “X-Pac Sucks!” way, not in a heel heat way. Bret never should have lost the title in the first place.
All and all, you won’t find a better WWF show in the pre-Attitude era.
Inside Clyde: In the top two with Wrestlemania III, easily. Such a good card. Even the bad shit (Bam Bam and Luna versus Doink and Dink) had great stuff in it. Lugar choking again, you have to love it. Erased the stink of WM IX, which is one of the two WORST ever.
Snipa: Hard to point to anything bad at this PPV. I have it on VHS. The Ladder Match, the Bret-Owen, Luger choking, it's all good.
Ric Flair Joins WWF
Barbwire Mike: Among the great mark-out moments of my life, Heenan closing Wrestling Challenge holding the WCW belt, and saying that for years people had asked who the real world champion was, and how Hogan had been part of the conspiracy to keep his name from being mentioned, and I mean there was no way he was talking about anyone else. But still, the moment of pure awesomeness when he said "that man... is Ric Flair" is just unrivalled.
Oh yeah, then there was that Royal Rumble thing that was about as good as professional wrestling ever got too... even if it wasn't fair to Flair. Gorilla knew it too, he was just in on whole conspiracy. >:(
Spyder Mayhem: I was a WWF kid, through and through, so I didn't really have too much of an idea of who Ric Flair was when he came over to the WWF. But he had the Bobby Heenan stamp of approval, so I knew he was going to be something special.
Flair coming over with the title belt was something big, even my young and naive perceptions about wrestling could grasp that. It felt taboo while he was doing it, and I knew just watching it unfold that I would never see anything like it again.
Overall though, looking back on his run in the WWF, it wasn't too exciting or memorable. Ric Flair still felt like he was working for WCW while he was in the WWF.
Der Kommissaar: I'd only heard about Ric Flair from mags like PWI. Which is to say, his reputation preceded him. I was very stoked about it. There's a reason that Royal Rumble '92 was the best one - the way it was delivered, along with Heenan's marking commentary as the match progressed. I like how they had him win after entering third, which to me seemed like a more "believable" number than first or second. Nowadays, first seems to be the most likely entry number to win the Rumble, which is not only stupid, but kinda sad. When was the last time you heard about someone winning who entered like 22nd or 14th or something?
Shaun: It was a short run, but was fun to watch. Especially his feud with Savage over being with Elizabeth before they were married. "See these pictures? The only thing she's wearing are the staples! WOOO!" I also liked him bringing in the WCW title (and the few weeks it wasn't censored) claiming to be the real champ. Think I'll go watch some of that Ric Flair DVD after I'm done this. Good times!
Judge Gonz: Flair, master of the backstage for some time in the 80's and 90's, even knew that WCW wasn’t too hot a ship to be sailing on at the time, and when he went to work for Vince, the Rumble match he won will go down as the best rumble match of all time, IMO.
The Savage/Flair match where Savage busted Flair open, beat him, and then stole his girl, was *****. Flair is one of the wrestlers whom I truly respect. I cant comment on his business persona, as opposed to his public persona, but his shoot against Bischoff on Nitro with the Horsemen in attendance was something I taped, so that I can go back and watch it over and over again for posterity. Flair has been wrestling since he beat Julius Caesar for the belt at the Roman Coliseum in front of 60,000 screaming peasants.
He also doesnt like to mention the "dark period" where he lost the belt to Atilla the Hun (where he eventually won it back in a three way match that also included Hannibal), and even though he's gotta be pushing 2,000 years old, he can still deliver some awesome matches from time to time. If I ever met him, I would demand that he give me a couple knife-edge chops and then yell his signature phrase.
We can only hope that he one day runs for Governor of North Carolina, and when he wins (oh yes, he'd win), could style and profile all over Charlotte and Raleigh and then in Washington DC as President Flair.
AWC: One of my biggest mark out moments ever. This happened about a year before I read my first “dirt sheet”, so when I saw Bobby Heenan with the NWA title on WWF TV, I nearly shit my pants. I didn’t remember that ever happening before. Even when Flair came out the next week or whatever, I still didn’t believe it. Ric Flair was the icon of the NWA, it was a sign of the apocalypse to see him wrestling in the WWF back then.
They made a huge mistake in not having a Hogan-Flair match in the WWF. That would have been the biggest drawing main event ever of the early 90s. I mean, what wrestling fan DIDN’T want to see that match? Wrestling magazines made a lot of money imagining that match. Damn Hogan and his ego only letting them wrestle on a house show before going to WCW. And double damn Vince for his ignorant “Hey, if I didn’t create it, it doesn’t count!” attitude during Flair’s stay, that could have been even more legendary had he allowed a Hogan-Flair Wrestlemania main event.
Inside Clyde: I was an avid Apter mag guy, so Flair going to the WWF seemed like the biggest fucking deal in the world, since every mag seemed to ask "Flair versus Hogan? Who would win?" The WWF, like with every other great thing HANDED to them, didn't know what to do with it. But Flair was part of the best Royal Rumble ever, so for that I'm thankful.
Barbwire Mike: Stoing!
Der Kommissaar: I have only two words to say to this:
Dimebag Aw, fuck yo momma. I was high okay?
AWC: I miss hearing Tony lose his mind and yell “IT’S STOING!!!!!!!!!” every Monday 5 minutes before Nitro went off the air.
Spyder Mayhem: Not much to say. I didn't have much exposure to WCW in the early nineties, but even so I knew that I was supposed to cheer for Sting in his never-ending battle against the Four Horsemen, and I did so from afar.
Snipa: Since I was a Bret Hart mark, I always thought he was a poor man's Bret Hart since they both used the Sharpshooter. His feud with Cactus Jack and his various feuds with Flair were good television. I like Sting, even when he progressed to the original Crow. Once he started combining Surfer Sting and Crow Sting, it got watered down. And then he joined the Wolfpac, and that was the end of Sting.
Shaun: I gotta agree with what Snipa said, I also found him to be the poor man's Bret Hart, though he was very entertaining and as loyal to WCW as Bret was to WWF. He rode WCW to the end (probably cause he was making a mint with his contract), but the character suffered as he stayed. Surfer Sting and the initial Crow Sting were entertaining but as WCW went to hell, Sting went all over the place and eventually wound up with the nWo, which he was initially rebelling against in the first place. He descened even further, working for TNA, which is just sad. But I'll always remember his great feuds with Flair, Vader, Luger and Cactus Jack, those were some good times.
Judge Gonz: He was partially responsible for the murder (yes, I said murder) of Owen Hart by making the "repel from the rafters on a bungee cord" entrance popular. He was rather cheesy in the early to mid 90's, with his surfer look and confusingly flamboyant use of neon facepaint and tights. The "Stinger Splash" is about the weakest move in the history of movesets. "Okay, i'm gonna prop you up in the corner, and then run really fast at you, then i'm gonna launch myself 3 feet into the air and when I come down, i'm gonna grab ahold of you! WATCH OUT!" The character of "Crow Sting" was interesting for about 2 weeks, and then that shit got annoying reaaaaallll fast. Apparently, Mr. Borden has found Jesus since he retired, but unlike Ted DiBiase, is not asking Chris Benoit to "Hail Satan."
AWC: My aunt wanted, and probably still wants, to fuck Sting’s brains out. Everytime he came on TV she‘d be like “God, I wanna fuck that guy!” It was so unsettling to hear your aunt get horny over WCW.
That aside, I did like Sting, even though I wasn‘t a fan of his. He was great in his feuds with Ric Flair. He wasn’t as good a challenger as Steamboat, but still pretty good. He was a vanilla babyface, what else did you want from wrestling in the late 80s/early 90s?
Inside Clyde: Sting has my ultimate respect for being a guy of his word (at least by pro wrestling standards.) Truly a guy who worked hard, learned his craft, did what was asked of him and made the most of his ability. When people mention the mistakes made in the Invasion, the biggest that everyone forgets is that they didn't get Sting. Sting versus Rock. Sting versus Austin. It boggles the mind. Sting will be remembered, but not as well as he should. He makes that top ten list of biggest stars in wrestling in the 90's easily...and he's the only one that didn't work in the WWF. That's really fucking something.
Hogan vs. Flair in WCW
Inside Clyde: WCW knows how to make a thing given to them work, better than the WWF ever knew. WWF knows how to make something out of nothing. But Hogan/Flair was done right here, though it pained me to see Hogan beating Flair. Looking back, it is certainly true that the difference between Flair and Hogan was that Hogan always said "no" when it came to doing the right thing. It's why Flair, no matter how bad he looks wrestling now, and the fact that he never gets credit as being a draw on par with any of the big WWF guys, will always have an affection and affinity from the fans on a deep level that even the beloved Hogan does not ultimately have
AWC: Hogan vs. Flair.....man, did that one NOT live up to the hype. I can’t believe I wanted to see that match as a child. The only moment I really remember about it now is Flair attacking Hogan dressed in drag, and probably only because Public Enemy parodied it the next week on ECW.
Barbwire Mike: If there's one moment that defines the whole feud, it was their first blood match. For that matter, if there's a moment that defines WCW... well, there are a good several hundred of them but that's a pretty good one.
Snipa: This feud always pissed me off, mainly because Flair ALWAYS jobbed. I think he may have won ONE match the entire time against Hogan, and even that's iffy. Just shows how much of a bitch Hogan was, and how he had no business sense. If they traded victories for a while, then they could've built something, but the constant Hogan victories did not make for compelling television.
Dimebag: Taker and Warrior's characters sealed the deal. I would not be a fan of wrestling for years because of them and the Steroid Scandal.
Their characters were and are so overblown, bloated, and cartoonish, it was like watching the Garfield and Snoopy balloons bump into each other during a Macy's parade. Just fucking retarded. And not in a fun, ironic way either.
The Undertaker is just another Shockmaster that didn't stumble and lose his helmet.
Spyder Mayhem: It really drives me nuts when people who are new to wrestling mark out like crazy for the current run of the Undertaker. Compared to the early nineties version, there is nothing left to cheer for.
He was big, he was comparatively agile, and he had the complete and unyielding aura of invincibility. When he beat Hulk Hogan, all my mind felt was sheer and complete dread. If Hogan, the greatest face in the history of faces, a man who crushed Yokozuna, who bodyslammed Andre the fucking Giant, couldn't beat the Undertaker, then who could?
Admittedly, the concept of the Undertaker is really cheesy and even bland on the surface. But it was executed so well, so amazingly straight faced considering all that we were supposed to believe, that it worked. There is no denying that the Undertaker was a huge draw as a heel, and he was basically that way from the get-go.
I miss feeling that dread I would feel when the Undertaker would make his way to the ring. The dread I feel now when he does so is completely different and not at all exciting.
TUS: Man, oh man... Survivor Series '90. I remember this took place in Hartford, CT and I begged my parents to take me. But when the mystery guy showed up and it was this HUGE guy in all black acting like a dead man... It was incredibly scary for a 9 year old. Totally destroying everyone and no-selling everything. AWESOME for a little kid! Basically, I was a fan from the start.
Judge Gonz: 'Taker has never "paid his dues", and thats something that pisses me off. Snipa and I talked about this issue last week, and came to the conclusion that no matter how many times the Taker has lost matches, belts or hell, even paper rock scissors, he has never given anything back to the wrestling community other than having an embarassing angle starring his wife (Why the "long face", Sara? Muahahaha...) and the blonde jew whose wife fucked Bischoff.
Taker just came into the WWF, won the belt from freaking HOGAN of all people, and continued on like he didnt owe anybody anything. Thats some bull-sheeat right there. Takers old stuff with Paul Bearer was pretty good, and his absolute demolition of Jake Roberts on PPV estbalished him as a star, but unless he loses to Orton next month, and has a record of 12 and ONE at Mania instead of 13-0, he will always be a selfish fucker in my eyes. The last time the Undertaker was interesting was when he was feuding with Mick Foley while wearing purple gloves.
The Undertaker gimmick worked back when the Undertaker was the Undertaker. Purple lights, smoke machines, no talking > Biker guy wearing a leather p-coat who has a tattoo of his wifes name on his throat.
AWC: I never liked Taker for two reasons:
1) He made me embarrassed to be a wrestling fan with all of his “supernatural” bullshit.
2) The guy is worse than Hogan and HHH in terms of putting people over. You know, everybody loves Undertaker for standing up to Shawn Michaels when he said he wasn’t going to put Austin over....but I can count the number of people HE’S put over without destroying them in a rematch in his 15 years on one hand: Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart. That’s it. 15 years, three people. Every other person who had a win over him got destroyed and made to look weak in the rematch (Kama, Mable, Yokozuna, Foley, Vader, ect.) His fans say “Well, he can’t lose because it’s not his gimmick” and that’s bullshit.
Undertaker is horrible for the WWE, as seen by him “helping“ Brock Lesnar‘s choice in leaving the WWE. He’s old, he’s broken down, he probably doesn’t have more than 5 years left in him: it’s time to start putting people over now (He should have started with Lesnar and Heidenreich)
I’m not saying he was never over, because 1992-until that Corporate Ministry bullshit started, he was insanely over, maybe the most over guy in the company, and you could demonstrate that he was getting ratings. Now, not so much. Sure, he gets pops, because, hey, he’s the Undertaker. But how many of those cheering fans paid to see him? Not many these days. Retire, Taker. Or start putting people over!
Der Kommissaar: Ah, yes. The man who got me seriously watching wrestling in the first place. Oh sure, I knew about wrestling before, with its Hulk Hogans and JYDs and so on (you know, the whole Rock 'n' Wrestling thing. I liked that cartoon.) But there was something about this huge man walking on the top rope, beating the crap out of some helpless jobber, pinning the guy with his arms crossed over his chest, then sprinkling ashes on him...all calm as you please. No fancy showboating, no menacing roars. Just emotionless - all business. I liked Paul Bearer as his manager - his opposite in physique to make the Undertaker look even bigger and more intimidating. At that time he hardly said anything, either; Paul did all the talking and the Undertaker may or may not have dropped a "REST...IN...PEACE." at the end.
One of the coolest things the 90s had to offer wrestling-wise. I'm not exactly sure when I stopped caring about the guy. It might have been the Phantom of the Opera mask, it might have been Undertaker vs. Undertaker, I'm not sure. I'd say more about him, but we're talking about the 90s.
Shaun: One of the best gimmicks of all time, I fucking LOVED watching this guy for so many years. It's crazy how a gimmick that sounded so stupid had worked out so well. Hell, my brother still thinks he's the greatest wrestler ever. I did get to watch him wrestle live a couple of times and it was great. Matches sucked but the vibe of the matches was what made them exciting. I liked him up until after his "Ministry" days, he came back as the "American Badass" which I thought was stupid and really turned me off to the character since the dead man was what made me like the guy. I'm glad he's back to the old Taker (sorta) but after so many years of crap as the badass biker, I've almost completely forgot he's even still around. He does deserve that one legacy of being undefeated at Mania. And then I hope he retires with his dignity soon after.
Snipa: I used to love the guy, now I hate him. But old school Undertaker was one of the greatest characters Vince has ever introduced. How cool was it when he'd beat the tar out of some jobber, and then put them in a body bag, zip it up and carry them to the back? One of the great gimmicks of our time. And he always made Snuka his bitch.
Barbwire Mike: I'm so glad I got WM this year, because it was a reminder of just how fucking much of a mark I used to be for Taker. Dug him as a Skyscraper, and his first appearance in the WWF I saw from a hotel room on my first trip to New York. Plus my wrestling-hating best friend was OBSESSED with Taker, so now I didn't have to buy his ticket to get him to go to shows anymore. Taker rocked.
Inside Clyde: I always liked his look and his deal no matter where he wrestled. Didn't like him sitting up from Jake's DDT though, not at all. Hated that. I still do. No selling other guy's finisher, especially arguably the greatest finisher in wrestling history? Horseshit. But I always liked that Undertaker back then was clearly on the "gimmick" side of the spectrum.
Inside Clyde: Shockmaster sums up WCW in so many ways. The best part is still Ventura laughing his ass off and saying, "What an entrance by the Shockmaster!" Which was my runner up for "10 best commentary lines ever."
Barbwire Mike: You know, at one point Big Steel Man was fucking hardcore.
Snipa: Typhoon was a pretty decent gimmick, mainly because he was paired with Earthquake. His jump to WCW was weird, and then the SHOCKMASTER happened. Poor guy.
Der Kommissaar: Fred Ottman should consider himself lucky that he botched the entrance. It was a nice scapegoat for the shit his career became. If he had come through clean, he'd still have a page on Wrestlecrap and he'd still be a laughingstock, and he'd only be able to blame himself.
Shaun: Never heard of him until I visited Wrestlecrap.com, and had to be one of the funniest things I've ever seen. Just everything about the character to the eventual fall heard around the world made it both the worst thing in wrestling and the best thing in wrestling (in that it was hilarious to watch, not anything to do with actual wrestling).
Judge Gonz: The guys bejewled Stormtrooper helmet fell off on live TV. Whats not to like?
AWC: Funniest wrestling blooper ever. Sure, Booker T calling Hulk Hogan “nugga” might make you laugh more, but Shockmaster is funnier because it cost WCW a lot of money. He was set up to be this big bad ass teaming with Sting, and then he falls through a wall, loses his helmet, gets exposed as Typhoon, and his entire gimmick has to be re-written to make him clumsy. Poor guy.
Spyder Mayhem: Who?
Thank you for reading Part 1 of Lethal (Sorta) Remembers The 90s. Look out for part 2 sometime next month. But until then, please come to our forum and discuss these topics further. You know, kind of like the books after-school specials suggested you read after the show.