WWE Vintage Collection Report (03/21/10)

WWE Vintage Collection Report: 21st March 2010
By Shaun Best-Rajah.com Reporter
Hosted by: Mean Gene Okerlund

Welcome aboard. First off apologies for last week’s absence. The show was pre-empted from its normal Sunday slot and shown in midweek and work commitments dictated that I was unable to recap the infamous Ironman match from WrestleMania XII between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels. With order now restored, this week we wrap up the 90s portion of WrestleMania with highlights from WrestleManias XIII (1997) XIV (1998) and XV (1999). Let’s begin.

March 29th 1998: Boston, Massachusetts
WWF Light Heavyweight Title
Taka Michinoku vs Aguila
Announcers are good ol’ Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler. Taka was the first Light Heavyweight champion, having held the belt since December 7th 1997, after beating Brian Christopher in a tournament final at the D-Generation X In Your House PPV. Aguila would later become known as Papi Chulo and Essa Rios. Here he was dressed in a mask and presented as WWF’s version of Jushin Thunder Liger. Buckle up for a fast ride. Aguila scores with an armdrag, tilt-a-whirl headscissors, spin kick, baseball slide and asai moonsault on the floor. Ross reveals Aguila is 19, after turning pro at 15. I guess he opted to practice moonsaults during his teens on a Friday night rather than go to high school parties. Both jockey on the apron with suplex attempts, Taka dropkicks Aguila to the floor and lands a top rope dive. The crowd favour Taka. Taka peppers Aguila with dropkicks before being tossed outside. Taka prevents Aguila going airborne with a forearm. Aguila delivers a trifecta of springboard armdrags followed by a corkscrew plancha on the floor. Back inside, Taka misses a corkscrew moonsault, with Aguila scoring a nearfall from a normal moonsault. Taka splashes onto Aguila’s knees before being caught with a headscissors from the second rope. Taka retaliates with a high knee and missile dropkick. Taka signals for the Michinoku Driver, Aguila tries a hurracanrana, but Taka counters into a sitout powerbomb. Lawler speculates that Aguila “may not make it to 20.” Aguila takes advantage of another failed moonsault by rolling Taka up for two. Aguila gets caught out in mid air with a dropkick allowing Taka to connect with the Michinoku Driver for the 1-2-3. Winner: TAKA MICHINOKU. Aguila displays no sour grapes and shakes Taka’s hand after the bell. Phewph! This was an enjoyable five minute spotfest which the crowd would have cared more for had WWF given them a reason to, by building characters and not throwing random pairings together. They never really kickstarted the Light Heavyweight Division in the way that WCW were doing with their Cruiserweights and as a result, Aguila soon vanished, while the underused Taka was turned into comedy fodder with Kaientai.

A quick video package airs summing up WrestleMania XV, focusing on Steve Austin and The Rock’s first ‘Mania showdown and Butterbean’s 1st round knockout of Bart Gunn in the Brawl for All finale. I still feel bad for Bart Gunn, who I believe was shafted by WWF bookers for upsetting the odds. (Rumour has it that Dr Death Steve Williams was pegged to win). Even the commentary buried Gunn, dubbing him as “the biggest underdog since Rocky Balboa, but with no Hollywood ending.”

In a WrestleMania Road Trip moment from WrestleMania XIII, Legion of Doom and Ahmed Johnson best the Nation of Domination in a six person Chicago Street Fight, which featured a no DQ, no countout stipulation.

March 23rd 1997: Chicago, Illinois
Intercontinental Title
Rocky Maivia vs The Sultan w/The Iron Sheik & Bob Backlund
It’s hard to believe that the Rock and Rocky Maivia were the same person. Unproven in the ring and on the mic, Rocky was pushed to the top of the midcard, crowned Intercontinental Champion and resented by the fans. Far from being the ‘great one’ it was more Rocky Horror at this point. The Sultan was former Headshrinker Fatu sporting a shaved head and red leather mask which covered most of his face. That ought to make a difference…not! The quartet of Vince McMahon, Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler and the always entertaining Honky Tonk Man announce this match, with Honky on fine form, denouncing Rocky at every opportunity. Rocky sends Sultan to the floor early, Sultan pulls him out and gains control after Rocky inadvertently clotheslines the ringpost. As Sultan pounds the arm, Honky laments Rocky’s rookie mistake. Lawler urges Ross to start calling Rocky “rookie.” Honky busts out an old Jimmy Hart line of “when you’re on top you’ve got to let it rock,” before boasting he’d have wrapped the match up by now, given a shake rattle ‘n’ roll and be in the dressing room combing his hair. The crowd chant Rocky sucks during a Sultan nerve hold. Not a good sign. Vince asks if Rocky’s ever asked Honky for advice, Honky reveals no, stating Rocky prefers to get guidance from his “goofy daddy and stupid Tony Atlas.” Honky then chastises Rocky for hanging around supermodel Cindy Margolis during the pre-show delivering the following stinging but funny gem. “All he got was information from her about things he don’t need to be knowing right now. He’s not old enough.” Sultan continues his dominance with a backbreaker and top rope headbutt. Rocky comes back with a dropkick, belly-to-belly suplex and spinning DDT. Rocky lands a top rope cross body and hooks a leg, but Sheik gets on the apron to prevent a count. Rocky gets distracted long enough to suffer a superkick and piledriver. Honky urges Sultan to break Rocky’s neck and take him out in a wheelchair. From nowhere Rocky counters a slam with a rollup for the 1-2-3 and crap finish. Winner: ROCKY MAIVIA. Sultan ambushes a post match interview, before continuing the beatdown with the Intercontinental Title and a top rope splash. As Honky endorses the beatdown and eggs the heels on, Sheik applies the Camel Clutch until Rocky’s father Rocky Johnson makes the save. However, with Johnson’s back turned, Sultan cracks the Iranian flag across his back repeatedly before ripping Johnson’s shirt off. Maivia sparks a comeback to punch Sultan away, before father and son both slam the Sheik to send the trio packing. Father and son embrace to end the segment. Fast forward a year and it’s like night and day as the Rock made his steady climb to the top as a master antagonist both in the ring and on the mic.

We see the birth of the 3:16 era as Stone Cold defeats Shawn Michaels with Mike Tyson counting the pin at WrestleMania XIV. Over to you JR: “STONE COLD! STONE COLD! STONE COLD!” After the bout, an upset Michaels is waffled by a Tyson right hook. Back we go to JR. “TYSON! TYSON! TYSON! RIGHT HAND, DOWN GOES MICHAELS!!!! Vintage stuff.

A video package chronicling the birth of the Kane/Undertaker feud airs. After Kane debuted at Badd Blood 1997 we get to see a lot of pyro displays and special effects with both taking it in turns to set things on fire. Give these two fireworks at your peril.

March 29th 1998: Boston, Massachusetts
The Undertaker vs Kane w/Paul Bearer
Undertaker makes his classic entrance with the druids holding the fire torches, before standing nose-to-nose with Kane. Kane withstands all of Taker’s early brawl offense by staying on his feet. Taker sits up immediately after a clothesline. Kane gets Taker up for a tombstone piledriver, but sets him upside down in the corner to stomp and choke. Kane fires Taker into a couple of corners, suplexes onto the top rope then sends him to the floor after an aerial attack. After a commercial break, Undertaker escapes a side headlock by lifting Kane out of the ring. Kane gets onto the apron, gets kicked off, but is still on his feet. Taker tries a suicide dive, but Kane directs him into the Spanish Announce Table to wipe out Hugo Savinovich, Carlos Cabrera and Tito Santana. Aye Caramba! Kane uses pieces of the wreckage to continue his attack before connecting with a top rope clothesline. Both slug it out, Kane reverses a tombstone piledriver. Undertaker stays alive and finally takes Kane down with a clothesline. It takes a chokeslam and three tombstone piledrivers to put Kane down for the three count and put the Deadman at 7-0 in WrestleMania victories. After the match Kane uses a chair as a weapon then a landing spot for a piledriver. Taker stumbles after the departed Kane and this feud is far, far from over. Winner: THE UNDERTAKER. Bad match which was made passable by being presented in edited form.

The WrestleMania retrospective concludes next week. Shaun.

Comments/praise/feedback/criticism/discussion points please direct to shaunmb1@hotmail.com.

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