Ring Crew Reviews: VHS Tape Digging Volume 1
Posted by Jack Bramma on 12.12.2012
Digging through boxes of old tapes reveals Kane taking on Mankind in a Hell in the Cell, Paul Wight's last ever WCW match, Flair and Jerry Lawler in hardcore, TLC matches well into their twilight years and a classic between Steve Austin and Chris Benoit.
• Everyone's got their boxes full of tapes, some labeled and some unlabeled. Occasionally, I'll feel the need to just start digging through them and work my way through the box and find some hidden gems or oddities I forgot about or just wanted to see again.
• Sting vs. Ric Flair.Nitro 11/6/95. Flair mentions this match in passing but rather glowingly somewhere in his 14 hour Highspots shoot so I thought I'd give it a look. This is the night after Flair turned on Sting to rejoin the Horsemen of Pillman and Arn. Mongo, Bischoff, and Brain on commentary. Brain is enjoying some sake courtesy of Sonny Onoo and Mongo has a chihuahua dressed up as a harlequin. Fancy. No robe, pyro, or women for Flair tonight as he gets a toned down entrance. Flair tries to keep his distance early but THE STINGER IS PUMPED! Sting pummels Flair and stomps a mudhole early to an electric reaction. Sting with some GnP. He sends Flair off for the press slam. Flair begs off and Sting mounts in the corner for the 10 punches. Sting hits all 10 and then sends Flair across for the Flip. Flair rolls down the apron into a clothesline from Sting. To the floor, Flair tries a few chops but Sting no sells as we're well into the golden oldies. Flair begs off but Sting won't back off and sends Flair into the guardrail. Flair cuts off Sting with a THUMB TO THE EYE! WOOOOOOOO! Suplex on the floor. IT'S STRUTTING TIME! Sting no sells though and Flair is in disbelief. He begs off but Sting launches himself with a Stinger Splash into the guardrail. Flair moves and Sting EATS RAIL! Hot start.
• We take a break and we're back to Flair working the chops in the corner. Sting falls apart and Flair boots him in the breadbasket and hits a back suplex. FIGURE FOUR TIME! Flair uses the ropes for leverage behind the ref's back. They work a cover spot for a bit before Sting Hulks up and rolls the F4 over. Flair quickly releases to avoid the damage. Flair tries clipping the knee but Sting no sells. Flair works rights and lefts and chops and Sting still won't budge and the crowd is eating it up like it's Clash I all over again. Sting sends him off for the press slam and hits it. Sting with a hip toss and dropkick. Flair begs off only to come back with a BLATANTTHUMBTOTHEEYE. Flair shitcans Sting out and hits a DIRTIEST PLAYER IN THE GAME HAMMER off the apron. More chops and eye rakes from Flair on the floor. Flair gets a chair and goes for the running waffle but the ref cuts him off and grabs the chair away. Flair gets into a shoving match with Randy Anderson that of course he loses. Flair tries several lateral presses with the feet on the ropes but STILL can't get a 3 count. Flair releases to tell the entire front row to SHADDUP and they lose it. Sting counters to the Steamboat backslide sequence for a 2 count. Flair heads up top but gets caught and slammed off by Sting. Flair begs off and the ref even tries to pull Sting away for some mercy. Sting carries the ref away BUT WAIT! Flair gets the loaded knucks waffles Stinger to the gut. Flair struts and drops an elbow for 1, 2, 2 ½. Flair can't believe it. He goes to the chops and tries to style 'n profile but Sting no sells and fires up again. Sting with another press slam and a TOP ROPE VERTICAL SUPLEX! DEATHLOCK! Flair gives up at 9:20. Sting won't release the hold, so the refs call him off and Eddie, Rey, and EVAD come out to plead with him. RING THE DAMN BELL! Hacksaw and Marc Mero come out to play further peacemakers and Sting finally releases and appears to take it to the back. BUT WAIT! STING REAPPLIES THE HOLD! MY GOODNESS, LEX LUGER HAS COME OUT! Luger goes eye-to-eye with Sting and talks some sense into him. The usual here though it helped put a lot of crowd support back behind Sting after a bit of a dull 1995 and cluelessly getting duped by the Horsemen again. ***
• Hell in a Cell: Mankind vs. Kane.RAW 08/24/98. Kane and Mankind's brief alliance as a tag team fell apart (before it got back together) for an even stronger and even more flaky Kane/UT alliance, all the way Kane and Mankind were still tag champs together. It's crazy to think they'd waste the fourth ever one of these matches on regular TV but such was Vince Russo and the Monday Night Wars. Foley out second and takes aim for the roof. Some refs hold him at bay long enough for Kane to try to attack. Foley shoves the cage door back into Kane's head and then hits a testicular charge. Foley gets a chair and tries to throw it on top of the cell and... misses. Uh oh. He tries again and AGAIN it clips the crossbar and falls down and the crowd laughs this time. Foley says fuck it and starts to climb up top anyway. UT gives chase as Foley gets halfway up and Taker pulls him down and Foley eats it through the announce table. JR: “IT'S HAPPENED AGAIN! MANKIND'S BODY JUST WENT SPLAT ON THE CONCRETE!” The crowd chants for Austin as Kane gathers up Mankind and throws him into the cell. Foley struggles to gather himself as Kane slowly walks him around ringside and back into the cell. Foley goes down and Kane slams the cage door on him. Now, they finally get in the cell and Earl locks the door. Kane brings the steel stairs in and waffles Foley twice for good measure. Foley bails out and Kane follows with a TOPE SUICIDA! LUCHA KANE!
• Kane rolls back in and goes for the flying waffle with the cell but Foley ducks under the ring and “disappears.” Foley comes back up the other side with a chair and some thumbtacks. Foley blasts Kane to the skull. JR: “WHO'S YOUR DADDY, KANE!?” Foley goes for the thumbtacks but Kane no sells and goozles Foley. Foley locks in the Mandible Claw long enough to piledrive Kane and roll him into the tacks. JR: “And remember, they are the reigning tag team champs.” Kane no sells again and blasts Foley across the face with the chair. Kane says it's goodnight and hits the ChokeSlam. Tombstone follows and Foley is done. Kane looks to UT and UT pulls a Ryback and is all FINISH HIM. JR: “THIS MAN HAS A FAMILY TO FEED! HE'S A HUMAN BEING!” Rather than pin, Kane gives Foley a few unprotected chairshots. JR: “THAT'S ENOUGH! STOP IT! STEP IN THERE! DAMMIT! HOW VILE! HOW EVIL! HOW DEMONIC!” Classic stuff. Kane with ANOTHER Tombstone, this time on the chair. BUT WAIT! IT'S AUSTIN! IT'S AUSTIN! Austin comes from under the ring and attacks Kane from behind and the ref calls for the bell for the DQ at 7:50. A segment more than a match and a squash more than anything but still entertaining in a Foley spotfest way. ** Post-match, Austin stomps a mudhole on Kane as UT can't get in the cell but climbs up to the roof trying to. The show goes off the air as the cell raises with UT on top of it. Austin gives Kane three Stunners and calls it a night.
• Loser Leaves Town: Kevin Nash vs. Giant. 01/11/99 Nitro. This is Showster's last match ever in WCW. See, Hogan won the belt from Nash in the Fingerpoke of Doom the week before and Hogan joined the Wolfpac. Giant and the not-yet-B-team weren't involved in that and didn't think it was 4 life, so Hogan told Giant that there was only room for one giant in the n.W.o, namely one that lays down for Hogan. So Giant accepted this match against Nash. Nash has Hall with him but no cattle prod in sight. Tenay puts over Nash's “illustrious” career with the Volunteers. They trade hand signals for cheap pops and Nash wins that one and Giant gets booed, because he's a heel ya know, just in a less popular wing of the stable. Nash goes to the hair on the lockup and overpowers. Giant headbutts him across the ring and boots him a few times. A running clothesline buckles Nash and Giant goes to the overhand chops. Nash comes back with a running clothesline of his own and a BOOT OF FEAR. Nash covers for 1, 2, only 2. Nash drops an elbow and again covers for 2. Nash distracts the ref long enough for Hall to weakly choke Giant and Nash to capitalize with a Bossman attack that even made Bossman cringe. Nash with another and then distracts the ref again so Hall can paintbrush the World's Largest Athlete. Nash slowly... moves... in with hip checks and the Director's Cub elbow. Nash says it's over and locks in the FOOT TO THE THROAT CHOKE! OH THE HUMANITY! Hall tries grabbing his hair but can't even make it over there in time to cheat. Last Call comes twice though as Hall still waffles Giant from behind a couple of times. Nash with a bodyslam on Giant to a pop and Nash sells the lower back giving out. Brain loses his mind saying no one else in wrestling can do that, but even he can't sell that after Goldberg has JACKHAMMERED Show several times, so he admit, OK, MAYBE Goldberg too. Nash with another big boot and calls for the JackKnife. Giant counters with a charge and a clothesline. BUT WAIT! Hall goes for another waffle but gets taken out. Giant stacks the Outsiders up in the corner and crushes them with a pseudo Stinger Splash and some very emphatic hip gyrations that look like something out of a prison movie. Tenay: “THAT'S THE BIG WIGGLE!” Giant with a double headbutt and drops the strap. ChokeSlam for Hall. BUT WHAT! I'M SORRY, BUT THAT'S A WRENCH! Nash takes out Giant with the foreign object planted earlier by Bischoff. Nash covers for 1, 2, 3 to send Show packing for WWF at 6:30. Bischoff crashes commentary to get in the last word: “THE TITANIC JUST SANK! SAY HELLO TO KEVIN NASH, YOUR N.W.O CORPORATE GIANT!” Not exactly must see territory. Giant's wizardry under 5 minutes usually required an opponent who did more than raise his foot in the air a few times per minute. *1/2
• WWF Championship: Chris Benoit vs. Steve Austin (c).Smackdown 5/31/01. Austin is WWF champ and Benoit has taped up ribs. Benoit attacks from behind to start and puts the boots to Austin. Benoit with chops and a back elbow and we're off to the races. Benoit stomps a mudhole as the crowd gets behind him. Vince is ringside as special guest enforcer. Stone Cold takes over with a Stun Gun and a swinging neckbreaker. Cover gets 1, 2, only 2. Austin talks trash and goes for a suplex but Benoit slides out and goes for the CRIPPLER CROSSFACE! Austin gets the ropes but Benoit pulls him back to the middle and REAPPLIES! Austin gets the ropes again and Benoit reapplies AGAIN. For a fourth time, they do it again. Austin gets the ropes again and takes the low road to take a breather. He tries escaping to ringside but Benoit clotheslines him into the announce table to a pop. Back in, Benoit clotheslines Austin out again. Austin runs Benoit around and cuts him off at the pass with some boots to the injured ribs. Back in, Austin grabs the belt and goes for the waffle but Earl lunges at him to stop. Benoit shoves Austin into Earl for the ref bump. Benoit hits a DDT on the belt and the Edmonton crowd is feeling it. Benoit heads up top for the diving headbutt and flies off but Austin pulls the belt up and waffles Benoit on the way down in a spot reused from a Jericho/Benoit match. Austin covers for 1, 2, only 2. Austin is pissed and mounts for the GnP. Another cover gets another 2 count. Austin rolls Benoit over in the SHARPSHOOTER! BOOOOOOOOOO! YOU SCREWED BRET! YOU SCREWED BRET!
• Benoit has a juicer going hardway and overpowers to counters to his own Sharpshooter. Stone Cold reverses back to the original Sharpshooter. Benoit grabs the ropes but Austin now pulls HIM back to the middle and reapplies on HIM. Benoit tries rolling over and they go through more rope breaks and reapplication of submissions. Earl starts the count on both and they both recover at about 8. Benoit wants the Germans but Austin grabs the ropes long enough to distract Earl and hit the BLATANTLOWBLOW! Taz: “Stone Cold ain't champion for nothing.” Austin says it's over as the crowd chants for Benoit. Austin heads up top but Benoit crotches him. Benoit hits the TOP ROPE SUPERPLEX! Benoit covers for 1, 2, 2 ½. Benoit locks in the CC but Austin again grabs for the ropes. Smartly, Austin bails out to the floor rather than just lay there for the inevitable reapply. Benoit tries to chase him down but Austin throws him into the announce table. Austin hits a gordbuster on the announce table. Earl has HAD IT and wants it back in the ring but Vince pulls rank and says they are fine just right where they are. They slug it out but Austin takes over with a THUMB TO THE EYE! ANOTHER GORDBUSTER ON THE ANNOUNCE TABLE ON THE RIBS! Crazy. Austin now drags Benoit around by the rib tape and throws him into the steel stairs. AUSTINSUX! AUSTINSUX! AUSTINSUX! Back in, Austin puts the boots to Benoit. Austin drops an elbow and flips off the crowd. Austin mounts and piefaces Benoit WITH THE BELT! AWESOME! Benoit comes back and smashes Austin into the turnbuckle. Austin though takes back over with an Alabama Slam. Sweet. Austin now tries to roll Benoit into a Boston Crab and sinks it in. Benoit struggles but reaches for the ropes and makes it. Austin just wants to embarrass Benoit now and paintbrushes him and smacks him around. Benoit gets a third wind and avoids a Stunner and goes to the ROLLING GERMANS! Benoit hits FIVE straight before Austin forces a break. Benoit fires up for FIVE MORE! Vinces tries to call the match off but Benoit throws Austin into Vince. CC! Vince slides in and waffles Earl and goes for the chairshot waffle on Benoit but Benoit goes low. Benoit grabs the chair and blasts Vince with it five times. Austin school boys Benoit from behind with a handful of tights for 1, 2, 3 to retain at 19:55. Hellacious brawl with some sick psychology and general bastardry from Austin. Match should have been non-title with Benoit going over but still a hell of a story. ****1/2
• TLC Match for the WWE Championship: Ric Flair vs. Edge (c).RAW 01/16/06. This is the night after New Year's Revolution 2006 where Edge cashed in on Cena and won. Lock up takes them into the corner for some CHOPS! WOOOOO! Flair with some rights and lefts but Edge cuts him off and goes to work. Edge slides out early and brings in a ladder and a chair. Edge goes for the early waffle and uses the ladder as a javelin and Flair goes down. Edge now sandwiches Flair in the ladder and NO! NOT THE CHAIR! CONCHAIRTO USING THE LADDER! Fast start. None of that big fight atmosphere, feeling out crap, just straight to some ladder brutality. Flair bails out and Edge runs him down. On the floor, Flair comes back with a BRUTAL chop and another that sends Edge into the crowd. Flair with a running start but gets backdropped onto the floor. Vertical suplex on the floor follows and Flair has already taken more solid bumps than Orton has in the last five years. Edge sets up a table and tells Lita to bring him a chair. Edge puts Flair on the table and now goes for another Conchairto but Flair blocks with the TESTICULAR CLAW! Flair chops him around and launches Edge into the barricade. WOOOO! Lita jumps Flair from behind and gets thrown down for her trouble. But that allows Edge to blast Flair with a chairshot and Flair blades. Edge puts Flair on the table again and now Lita holds him down. Uh oh. Edge brings a ladder in the ring and HOLY SHIT! EDGE WITH A SPLASH OFF THE LADDER THROUGH THE TABLE! We take a break and are back and Flair is a bloody mess. He fights back though with a BLATANTLOWBLOW! I love crashed old man Flair who can't go up to his old level but compensates with the best cheating in the biz and grabbing your junk because in the words of Matt Striker, there's no machine in the gym to train for that.
• Flair brings a ladder in and now sandwiches Edge in the ladder. Flair gets a chair and WAM! He smashes the ladder into Edge. Flair now winds up and cold cocks Edge with the chair again. Flair drops the ladder on Edge and continues blasting the Edge using the ladder as added impact. Flair sets up the ladder in the corner as so far there has been ZERO attempts to win this match. Flair heads up top in the corner and switches to the ladder. Edge meets him up there and they are not even close to the belt. Instead, Edge with a SUPERPLEX OFF THE LADDER! Flair sells death. Double KO spot. Edge is through with the formalities and just gives Flair a BLATANTLOWBLOWELBOWDROP. Edge climbs up the ladder and goes for a missile dropkick but Flair avoids and still does the Flair Flop. Yeah, not a good spot for that spot. Edge winds up and drills Flair with the chair. Flair is DONE and collapses out to the floor. Edge has a bad wheel but starts the climb anyway. Coach: “EVEN WITH A LIMP, YOU CAN CLIMB TO THE TOP!” Edge slowly makes his up. BUT WAIT! FLAIR IS UP! He picks up the ladder and just drops Edge from 10 feet up out and down to the floor through a table! WOOOO! RIC FLAIR IS JUST STEPS AWAY! BUT WAIT! LITA IS IN! She pulls Flair down and goes to work. Flair overpowers and locks in the FIGURE FOUR! WOOO! Edge is still out on the floor. CLIMB THE LADDER, FLAIR! Flair's up but he's so out of gas that he stops to rest. Edge is up and meets Flair at the top. They slug it out and Edge lays out Flair. BOOOOOO! Edge finishes the climb and pulls down the strap to retain at 13:32 of shown footage.
• Much like Edge's street fight with HBK from 2007 that you can read about here – WWE's You Think You Know Me? The Story of Edge - Disc Three -- this is all of the action with the downspots and selling cut out in commercial breaks. You don't really have time for atmosphere in a TV main event without short-changing the action, especially in a hardcore match. Plus, this is crazy old man Flair at this best along with his feud against Triple H in 2005. Flair even late into his career is just a marvel as he was able to transition effortlessly out of the role as Evolution's JJ and tag team specialist into a maniacal blood-thirsty bastard when it's leader turned on him. ***3/4
• Extreme Rules Match for the WWECW Championship: Ric Flair vs. Big Show (c).ECW 07/11/06. This is a few days after Flair and Foley had a match at Vengeance and Foley denied Flair a rematch and instead Flair got this one from Paul Heyman. In-ring intros which of course need to be made a regular staple of the show again. Show's a heel here mainly because he beat RVD for the belt after the pot bust and well, it seemed to signal the death of a true ECW revival and instead a corporate mockery of the idea. Show is just massive here, as big as he's ever been in his career. They slowly circle after the bell rings and Show throws Flair into the corner. Flair tries going to the eye poke but Show no sells and Flair bails out to regroup. We take a break and we're back to Flair again trying chops but Show tossing him across with ring like a gnat and Flair bumping all the way back to the corner. Show sends him off and hits a press slam and Flair is done. Show hits a couple shitty headbutts. Taz: “HE'S GOT A HEAD LIKE A POLICE HORSE!” Flair blades and Show goes to work on the cut as Styles says Show is like “an EXTREME shark!” Flair tries more chops, so Show gives Flair some overhand chops of his own and Taz calls Show's hands “meat hoofs.” Flair Flops to a courtesy pop. Show with more chops and another big hiptoss that sends Flair reeling and Show tosses him out to mostly indifference. Flair, however, goes under the ring and comes up with a trash can and a barbwire trash can. Back in, Flair looks to have bladed again and now the cut is really going. Delayed vertical suplex from Show and Flair looks to beg off but instead FLIPS OFF SHOW! TAKE THAT, FATBOY! Flair comes back with chops and rights and lefts and Show headbutts him back and hits an UGLY powerslam.
• Show poses to FU heat and then laughs it up like a fuzzball: “BUT I'M RICH! KISS MY ASS AND SHUT UP!” Show with another headbutt to slow things down. He basks in the glow of his methodical domination, so Flair goes low not once but TWICE! WOOOO! Big pops for that. Show staggers back but won't go down. He tries coming so Flair goes low AGAIN with the BLATANTLOWBLOWPUNT! Show begs off to the corner and Flair punts him AGAIN! Styles: “That is the most blatant low blow in wrestling history!” Flair breaks out Barbie and waffles Show and then winds up and gives him another to the breadbasket! Flair now rakes the barbwire across Show's face. ECWECWECWECW! Show blades. Flair waffles him with the trash can a few times to the dome and Show still won't go down. Flair winds up with the chair and blasts him twice and FINALLY Show takes a fall, but not a bump. Flair covers for 1, 2, only 2. BUT WAIT! Flair breaks out the tacks. Flair knocks the cobwebs loose for Show three more times and Show falls down in the tacks. WOOOOOOO! Flair is fired up. But Show no sells the tacks and fires up. He steamrolls Flair and ChokeSlams him down once and locks in the Cobra Clutch Backbreaker. Flair is toast and the ref calls for the bell at 9:04. Not quite the classic I remember. The “holy shit” factor at the time is hard to recreate in one's mind since Flair has prostituted so much of his legacy including HoF rings and gifted rolexes that it seems commonplace to see him taking hardcore bumps well into his 50s for a paycheck. However, at the time, the ink in Flair's book was still wet and he'd lashed out at Foley (among others) for being a stuntman, not a wrestler, who needed to use weapons to get by, so it was pretty shocking and hypocritical but enjoyable to see Flair embracing extreme. Still a solid example of old man crazy Flair. ***
• TLC Match for the WWE Championship: Jerry Lawler vs. The Miz (c).RAW 11/29/10. Just one week after cashing in on Randy Orton to win the strap, Miz is defending against the legend Lawler on his birthday. CM Punk is on commentary. Cole says this is King's first ever match for the WWE Championship. Miz overpowers on the lockup but eats a haymaker from King and Miz buckles to one knee. Miz goes back to square one with a bodyslam and Lawler sells and it's the... MEMPHIS STANDOFF! King comes back with a bodyslam of his own. Miz with a few boots and drops Lawler with a right and shitcans him out. Alex Riley helps Miz get a chair and Miz waffles Lawler across the back a few times with it Back in, Miz sets up a couple of chairs in the middle of the ring and preps a suplex on it. Lawler counters to his own attempt only for Miz to slide out and they knock the chairs over and botch the spot. Miz goes through with the neckbreaker combo anyway on one chair. Cole puts over how on top of his game Miz is and not making any MIZ-TAKES! AHA! Punk tells Cole that Miz is blowing it by giving Lawler and his puncher's chance an opportunity. Miz stalks around to buy time and applies a WRETCHED chinlock on King. A-Ry shows that his internship skills were not carpentry as he blows it trying to get the ladder in the ring and Lawler takes over with a chairshot and another to Miz's back. Riley tries to cut off Lawler only to eat a haymaker. Miz tries to steal the ladder away and King seesaws the ladder back into Miz's face for the Joey Mercury spot.
• Lawler goes for a charge for the ladder but whiffs. He and Miz tease a whip into the ladder only for Miz to eat a backdrop on the ladder. NICE! The crowd perks up for Lawler only for Riley to clothesline him down from the apron. THAT JERK! Lawler no sells and hits the Kiss that Don't Miss and Riley eats it through a table. King sets up a ladder and starts the slow climb but Miz pulls him off and hits a FOOT TO THE FACE! Miz takes his time. Punk: “CLIMB UP THE LADDERS! WHAT ARE YOU, STUPID?!” Miz suplexes King down on the chair and hits a few more chairshots. Miz heads up to the top rope with the chair for no reason and of course Lawler scrambles over to crotch him in a spot that even Michael Cole saw coming. They jockey for position only for Lawler to club Miz off the top and through a table. The crowd starts getting behind Lawler sensing that he actually might win it. Cole: “OH MY GOD! MIZ HAS GOT TO GET UP! KING IS STIRRING!” Punk: “Miz is not getting up. COLE! WHERE ARE YOU GOING?!” Cole, because it's still real to him dammit, tries to revive Miz as Lawler starts to climb. BUT WAIT! MICHAEL COLE IS IN THE RING! He pulls Lawler down! Punk: “I'm ashamed of Michael Cole right now.” Lawler flips out on Cole and Cole begs off so Lawler lays him out with several right hands. King goes to the GnP and that allows Miz to start the climb. Lawler meets him up there and they slug it out. King hits several rights and Miz is reeling. Out of desperation, Miz cold cocks King with the belt and pulls it down to retain at 11:54. Not up to either of Flair's bloodbaths with Edge or Showster. Several soft chairshots and some tame bumps through tables do not a spotfest make. The spot of the match was Miz taking a backdrop into the ladder and these matches live or die on their psychology or brutality. This was moderate on one and nothing on the other. **3/4
The 411: Mileage will vary, but the Austin/Benoit match is a near must-see and the others are at least marginally interesting.