February 16th, Chattanooga, Tennessee
Full disclosure for this one, I’ve already seen this before. It was originally put on DVD in the Tagged Classics series alongside Canadian Stampede which I wanted to watch due to the ten man tag main event. Anyway, it’s the one right after Shawn Michaels loses his smile.
On the February 13th edition of Raw Shawn Michaels walked down to the ring and, after being interviewed by Vince McMahon, handed back the WWF Championship he’d won from Sid at The Royal Rumble. Shawn claimed it was due to a knee injury, Bret Hart would claim it was because he didn’t want to drop the title back to The Hitman.
So what to do when your champion decides to ‘take his ball and go home’? Well, you could do worse than pretty much recreate the end of the previous month’s Royal Rumble match by having Bret Hart, Stone Cold, Vader and Undertaker battle in a fatal four way with the winner being crowned the new champion.
Before this though we have the important opener of Marc Mero vs Leif Cassidy. The WWF at this time seemed to have a thing for putting on extended competitions between two midcarders in the opening bout and this is no exception. Mero comes down to the ring with Sable who, as they note on commentary, is looking a little different tonight. Gone is the ball gown of old to be replaced by a leather dress and sunglasses. It’s almost like they’re developing her into some kind of sex object.
The match itself is sound, the future Al Snow heels it up nicely as he concentrates on the left knee of Mero whilst Mero himself uses his aerial moves well. Towards the end of the match Cassidy has Mero locked in a figure four and Sable leans the bottom rope inwards so that Mero can reach it easier. This ticks Cassidy off as he goes to the outside to confront her. A quick slap across the jaw later and Mero is able to use this to take control of the match, finishing him off with the Wild Thing Shooting Star Press. Whilst this is a decent match it’s a contest for no title between two randoms so it’s hard to care much more than that.
Onwards then to a match between Faarooq and Ahmed…
Perhaps not, as Ahmed was once again having medical trouble. Instead we get a six man tag featuring Bart Gunn, Goldust and Flash Funk going up against Faarooq, Crush and the recently turned Savio Vega. If you look closely at the intro for the Nation of Domination you’ll notice a young D’Lo Brown.
It’s a match that feels thrown together mainly because it was. They desperately try to say that Bart, Goldust and Flash Funk have some kind of score to settle with the Nation on commentary. We know however it’s really Ahmed they wanted here. Whilst again it’s a sound effort from all involved it really doesn’t mean much. After the usual heelish tactics from the Nation Bart Gunn gets a hot tag before delivering a bulldog to Faarooq. The ref fails to make the count because he’s too busy dealing with Funk and Goldust on the outside so Crush delivers a legdrop to the back of Bart’s head so Faarooq can pin him.
Considering they will be main eventing entire shows a few years after this the Intercontinental match between Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Rocky Maivia seems oddly muted. Hunter has thankfully ditched Mr Hughes as his ‘butler’ and instead comes down to the ring on his own. Rocky walks into this match as champion having what is put across as a fluke win over Hunter. Early on in the match Rocky nearly has Hunter pinned again with a small package but only for a two. Hunter also uses a fair amount of submission moves. The whole story about Hunter being obsessed with Marlena comes up again as Goldust arrives back to distract Hunter so Rocky can pick up the win. Goldust’s gloating is short lived however as Marlena is grabbed from behind by another woman who is quickly puled away by security. Yes, we’ve just witnessed Chyna’s entrance into the WWF.
Remember the win that Doug Furnas and Phil LaFon had over Bulldog and Owen Hart at Survivor Series? Well here’s the actual match three months later. For some reason Furnas and LaFon are still portrayed as complete jobbers because the main story here is the fact that Owen eliminated Bulldog from the Royal Rumble. The match goes fairly smoothly for the tag team champions until, right about when Bulldog is on control, Owen hits LaFon with his Slammy Award right in front of the ref. Furnas and LaFon win by DQ but don’t get the titles. Bulldog claims he had him and Owen should have just waited, Owen says he doesn’t care because they still have the titles. Trouble is brewing, that much is obvious.
The winner of the main event tonight will face Sid for the title twenty four hours later on Monday Night Raw so before the match he gets to have his usual promo which gives the sound guy nightmares being as he went very quiet TO BOOMING LOUD within seconds.
Anyway, the fatal four way is brilliant but we need to talk about Vader. Some people pin point the submission match between Stone Cold and Bret Hart at Wrestlemania 13 as the water shed moment in the WWF as blood is seen for the first time in ages thus breaking the PG era. Not so, Vader bleeds like a crazy thing in this match after a chair gets booted in his face by Taker. He also works his socks off, in fact all four men do.
Whilst pinfalls and submissions count you can also be eliminated by being thrown over the top rope which is actually how every decision in this match ends up being made. Right from the opening bell this is a complete brawl and it’s all the better for it.
Stone Cold ends up going out first as Bret fireman carries him over the top rope. Austin does the usual thing of not leaving the arena easily though which fits with his character really well. He actually turns up later to attack Bret again. Paul Bearer is on the outside and he manages to attack Undertaker at one stage before Taker low blows Vader to eliminate him.
The final two are Undertaker and Bret Hart, two fan favourites who I don’t think had clashed one on one until that point. As such the closing stage of the match is fantastic. Austin manages to distract Taker enough so he gets clotheslined over the top meaning Bret Hart wins the WWF championship. The place goes crazy, Undertaker looks gutted, Austin just looks plain crazy and Vader looks bloodshot. As main events go it’s wonderful, just about making up for the average show beforehand.
Next time out it’s the big one, WrestleMania XIII and the one year marker of this project!