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Dark Pegasus Video Review: The Life and Times of Mr. Perfect
Posted by J.D. Dunn on 08.29.2008




The Life and Times of Mr. Perfect 2-Disc DVD
by J.D. Dunn

Good God, I used to hate this guy… in a good way.

  • Perfection: Curt Hennig was an AWA Champion and AWA Tag Champion. His family talks about what a great guy he was. His colleagues call him one of the greatest entertainers.

  • Twin City Origins: He was a happy, healthy baby. He went into amateur wrestling and football and ju-co. That led pretty quickly to pro-wrestling because his father was a wrestler.

  • Building a Path: Curt trained with Brad Rheingans and developed a good reputation. Vince Sr. brought him in as a preliminary guy. We see him fighting Mr. Fuji in MSG. He married his high school sweetheart and had four kids.

  • AWA: After trips to New York and Oregon, Curt reunited with his father and formed a rare father/son tag team. Greg Gagne, no stranger to living in someone's shadow, advised Curt to forge his own legacy. We see Curt partnering up with Greg and a young Scott Hall. That led to a classic one-hour draw with Nick Bockwinkel. Bockwinkel says he liked Curt and he was the right person to inherit the mantle.

  • Mr. Perfect: Time came to go back to the WWF, this time as a star. Vince Jr. told him to come up with a name for himself. Curt was stumped, so Vince asked him what he liked to do. Everything. Vince asked him what he was good at. Curt was good at everything. Hence, Mr. Perfect. Arn Anderson: You're pigeon-holing yourself when you call yourself Mr. Perfect, but you know something, the son of a bitch was pretty damned near perfect at everything. Bruce Prichard shatters my world by revealing that Curt was not, in fact, perfect. We see many of the outtakes of him flubbing lines and messing up. Next thing you'll be telling me is that there is no Santa Claus. Wade Boggs tells an emotional story about Curt saving him from bleeding to death during a hunting trip.

  • Living Up to His Name: Jim Ross says the vignettes hyped Curt so much that it was hard to live up to it in the ring, but Curt was so great in the ring that he easily lived up to the hype. High praise from Arn Anderson: Everyone had the greatest match they ever had with Curt Hennig.

  • Intercontinental Champion: We see Bobby Heenan helping Curt defeat Tito Santana to become the new Intercontinental Champion. Everyone gushes, and rightly so, about the Bret Hart feud.

  • The Prankster: Larry Hennig admits he was probably responsible for Curt's prankster streak. Some of them sound really funny, some of them are gross, some of them sound downright mean (and yet still funny).

  • Commentator: Curt suffered a back injury, so they made him a commentator. He always put people over and complimented the wrestlers, both heel and face. When Ric Flair came in, Curt was made his "Executive Consultant." He wanted to get back in the ring, though. HHH says Perfect helped legitimize him in his first year.

  • WCW: Curt's contract was up with the WWE, and WCW had a big offer. Eric Bischoff says there was a conscious effort to create a new character for Curt and not replicate his "Mr. Perfect" character. That led to Curt being given Arn Anderson's spot in the Horsemen. Curt turned his back on the Horsemen and joined the nWo. The nWo petered out, and that led to the West Texas Rednecks and the epic "Rap is Crap" feud. WCW went under, which led to…

  • Return to the WWE: Curt returned in 2002 and had a briefly revitalized career. The WWE was bringing in new talent, though, so he couldn't really return to greatness. He was released in mid-2002 and toured the indy circuit.

  • A Sudden Tragedy: In February 2003, Curt was found dead. Everyone in the family was naturally devastated.

  • Hall of Fame: Boggs inducted Curt into the WWE Hall of Fame, an easy induction.

  • The Perfect Legacy Lives On: Curt's legacy lives on in his son, Joe, who will almost certainly be in the WWE in the next few years, and his Hall of Fame induction.

    Matches:

  • Curt Hennig vs. Eddie Gilbert (11.21.82):
    Oh, now this should be interesting. Both guys are young here and wouldn't hit their peaks for about six more years. Hennig stays on top of Gilbert for the most part, playing subtle heel. The match is *very* basic, as you'd probably expect from two green guys in 1982. Lots of trading hammerlocks and headlocks. Finally, things get testy about nine minutes in, and they pick things up. They collide while running the ropes, and it's back to hold-for-hold wrestling. Things pick up a bit before time runs out at 15:00. Not much of note. Certainly solid execution, but it was very bland exhibition match. *1/2

  • Non-Title: Steve Regal & Jimmy Garvin (w/Precious) vs. Curt Hennig & Scott Hall.
    Steve Regal is the Electric one, not the snobby one. Scott Hall is introduced as "the Coyote," which would be an awesome gimmick today if he smuggled illegals over the border. You know TNA would do those vignettes. This is the usual formula with a lot of crowd heat against the heels. Hall and Hennig destroy Garvin and Regal early on. The heels cheat to isolate Hennig, though, and he plays face-in-peril. It's kind of odd that they never used Perfect in a tag role in the WWE (and not in WCW until he was on the downslope). Scott Hall gets the hot tag and cleans house. Precious tries to spray her air freshener in Hennig's eyes, but it backfires, and she sprays Regal. That lets the faces get the win at 10:46. Big pop for the face win, even if it was non-title. **1/2

    Extras:

  • We get Curt's Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

  • The "Rap is Crap" music video.

  • All of the "Mr. Perfect" vignettes.

  • A few stories about Curt loving karaoke and how they had to use someone else's house on Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous because Curt's was too messy.




    Disc Two:

  • AWA Heavyweight Title: Nick Bockwinkel vs. Curt Hennig (11.15.86).
    Hennig was a talented upstart who was not quite on the main-event level before this match, but he sure would be after this match. Bockwinkel jumps Hennig from behind with a dropkick and slams him to give Curt a wake-up call. Back in, they open with the feeling-out sequence, and Bockwinkel comes out of it with a side headlock. Curt holds his own on the mat, though, and manages to work his way up so he can pick up the pace, which favors him, of course.

    This match features a great dying art, and that's the ability to pick it up and take things back down again in a way that keeps the crowd in it without killing both guys' bodies. Every time they need to pick it up, they do basically the same sequence only they change it up a bit. Hennig hiptosses Bockwinkel, Bockwinkel kicks him away and slams him, Hennig kicks him away and armdrags him back down to the mat. Repeat as needed. Bockwinkel, master of the mat, escapes Curt's armbar and turns it into an anklelock. Curt begins to wriggle free, so Bockwinkel edges heel again with a handful of tights for two.

    Back in, Bockwinkel talks trash and takes Hennig back down into a kneebar, going back to those legs he was working earlier. Curt slips out and drops a knee on Bockwinkel's arm, but the impact hurts his own knee, so Bockwinkel is able to quickly segue right into the Indian Deathlock. Great psychology there. Curt tries to slap his way out of it, but Bockwinkel responds with a rough forearm. Hennig escapes but gets tossed and takes a moment to get his bearings. Back in, Bockwinkel grabs the dreaded sleeper, but Hennig takes them both over (and the referee too). They slug it out on the floor, and Hennig snaps Nick's arm on the top rope.

    Hennig turns things around slamming Bockwinkel's leg on the ringpost. Back in, Hennig goes hard after the pinfalls with a crossbody and a small package reversal. Bockwinkel catches him with a kneelift, though, and piledrives Hennig. ONE, TWO, THR-foot on the ropes. Bockwinkel locks in another kneebar, this time using the ropes for leverage. This is some great character psychology as Nick sinks lower and lower in his desperation to put Curt away. Hennig fights back, but Bockwinkel bounces off the ropes and NAILS him with a left cross. Curt recovers first and puts Bockwinkel in the Boston Crab.

    Bockwinkel powers out, but Curt sunset flips him for two. An inside cradle gets two more. Curt piledrives him! ONE, TWO, TH-NO! Bockwinkel tries to counter a headlock to a suplex, but it only gets two. Curt sends Bockwinkel to the corner and fires off a flurry of chops. He gets two. Bockwinkel reverses a whip and catches him in an abdominal stretch. Curt fights out but gets kneed in the gut. Hennig takes him down to go back to the legs, but Bockwinkel shoves him into the post, busting him open. Hennig staggers up to the apron, and Bockwinkel jumps him. Hennig suddenly fights back and hits THE AXE! A second one puts Bockwinkel down with about five minutes left to go. A third and fourth Axe knocks Bockwinkel down, but he lands on his stomach. Hennig locks in the figure-four leglock with under two minutes remaining. Hennig is bleeding all over now. Bockwinkel… just… manages to… hold out… for the draw at 60:00. This was the match that turned Hennig from Larry Hennig's punk kid to a star in the AWA. It's a wonderful example not only of wrestling but of character psychology from Bockwinkel, whose plans kept unraveling, making him more desperate and frustrated because Curt just wouldn't go away. ****1/2

  • Curt Hennig vs. Terry Taylor (07.31.88).
    Neither guy has a gimmick at this point, and I believe this is the debut (or re-debut in Hennig's case) for both guys. Both guys were in contention for the "Mr. Perfect" label. It went to Hennig, of course, and Taylor… well, you know the rest. Cole says Perfect was undefeated until he faced the Ultimate Warrior. I don't doubt that's the reality, but WWE canon has always been that it was Brutus Beefcake. This match is surprisingly pedestrian. Neither guy is overly face or heelish, so the crowd is apathetic. Hennig finishes with the Axe at 4:38. Both guys would continue to get more comfortable in their roles and have better matches down the line. **

  • Mr. Perfect vs. Bret Hart (04.23.89).
    This is from MSG back when Bret was still in the Hart Foundation. I'm going to guess that this goes to a draw, if for no other reason than they went to a 20:00 draw the night before in Toronto. Interestingly-but-not-really, Perfect is getting the singles push, but Bret comes in second and with entrance music. Bret looks awesome early, reversing a hiptoss and tossing Perfect across the ring, then, deftly stepping over a drop toehold attempt. Bret is always one step ahead early on, thus establishing that he is the coolest man on the planet while Mr. Perfect is the "William Zabka" of the WWF. Perfect catches him with a lucky shot to take over. Things slow down quite a bit as Perfect is content to slowly work Bret over while jawing with members of the crowd. Bret avoids a charge, and Perfect posts his own shoulder. Bret goes right to work on it with a hammerlock slam. Perfect hits a backbreaker to come back, but Bret goes into his early version of the FMoD. He hits the second-rope elbow right as time expires at 19:00 (which, I assume was supposed to be 20:00. Great stuff for 1989 TV filler in between Bushwhacker segments, but it doesn't hold a candle to their stuff after Bret became a singles star. Bret challenges Perfect to five more minutes, but Perfect says Bret couldn't beat him in 20, so five more won't do him any good. Then, when Bret's back is turned, Perfect jumps him. Ha ha! Bret makes his own save (gee, that sounds just like what happened in Toronto). ***1/2

  • WWF Heavyweight Title: Hulk Hogan vs. Mr. Perfect (w/The Genius — 01.15.90).
    Perfect gets shoved against the turnbuckle and bails out. Perfect gets hiptossed and charges…right into a bodyslam…and another. Perfect bails again, but Hogan follows him out and rams the heels heads together. The Genius follows Hogan back into the ring and Hogan takes out BOTH guys. Perfect gets caught in the ropes. Hogan comes over and gives him a few cheapshots. Perfect gets rammed into the turnbuckle and sells it like he just got shot in the head. Hogan ducks his head and takes a clothesline. Perfect takes over on offense. Hillbilly Jim wonders what the Genius is holding in his hand. I believe that's a diploma. Why am I not shocked that Hillbilly didn't recognize that? Hogan posts Perfect, but Perfect maintains the advantage with a sleeper. Hogan tries to pull the hair to counter. CHEATER! Hogan hulks up but gets rammed into the turnbuckle. Perfect goes up, but Hogan crotches him. Hogan climbs up, grabs Perfect by the hair and rams his crotch into the turnbuckles. Hogan starts kicking Perfect's legs out from under him. Hulk misses an elbowdrop. PERFECTPLEX! Hogan no-sells and kicks out. Hogan hulks up again and hits the big boot. They fight on the outside, and Perfect misses a chairshot. Hogan grabs the chair, but the ref tells him to drop it or get disqualified. Perfect receives some brass knuckles and tags Hogan with them. He tries again, but Hogan blocks and takes the knuckles from him. Hogan uses the brass knuckles, but the ref sees them this time and disqualifies Hogan at 13:37. Well-conceived match. Perfect controls in between superbumps, comeback as needed. **3/4

  • Intercontinental Title: Texas Tornado vs. Mr. Perfect (11.24.90).
    Roddy Piper is your special guest referee. Von Erich looks extra keyed up tonight (as in he snorted an extra key). Tornado uses a lot of Discus Punches early, knocking Perfect to the floor. He follows him out and hits another Discus Punch to knock Perfect silly. Back in, Perfect avoids a charge, and Tornado posts himself. Piper tries to put an errant turnbuckle pad back on and nearly gets squashed off a corner whip. Tornado puts Perfect in a Boston Crab, but they're near the ropes. Perfect comes back with a sleeper. Things start to meander a bit. Perfect goes for a slam but can't get him up due to his bad back. Tornado slips out and grabs the Iron Claw, but Perfect blocks. Perfect hits a slingshot backdrop suplex into a bridge and picks up the win and the title at 11:39. Oh, but for no reason in particular, Roddy Piper declares Tornado the winner. Presumably, Tornado was supposed to roll his shoulder, but it didn't really happen. Perfect takes out his aggressions on both Piper and Tornado and scurries out before they can get their bearings. Good bumping from Perfect, but Von Erich didn't really seem with it. **1/2

  • Intercontinental Title: Mr. Perfect (w/Coach) vs. Bret Hart (08.26.91).
    Vince finally pulled the trigger on the Bret Hart singles push after about three years of false starts. Bret quickly gets two off a crucifix. Bret and Perfect play cat-and-mouse with hair-pulling as referee Earl Hebner tries to keep up. Bret sunset flips him for two and takes him right back down into a headlock. Bret catches his leg and stomps him in the gut. They trade lightning quick moves, and Bret clotheslines him over the top. Perfect bails out, but Bret tracks him down and rips his tights in half. Perfect takes over with a cheapshot forearm and kicks Bret in the ribs. Bret takes a bump into the railing. Perfect brings him back in and whips him to the corner hard. They fight on the turnbuckle, and Bret falls into the ring. Perfect falls on top of him for two. Perfect tosses Bret across the ring with two handfuls of hair. Bret elbows out of a sleeper and goes for another superplex. Perfect counters to a Samoan Drop for two. Bret takes the "Bret Bump" to the corner. Perfect gets two more. The fans are eating it up with a ladle. PERFECTPLEX! ONE, TWO, THR-NO! Bret gives Perfect a pair of atomic drops and returns the crossring hair toss from earlier in the match. Vertical Suplex gets two. Small packages gets two. Russian Legsweep gets two. Second-rope elbowdrop gets two. Bret argues with the ref about the count, so Perfect jumps him from behind with a reverse rollup for two. Perfect goes into the ringpost, but Bret gets distracted long enough for Perfect to crotch him with the ropes. Perfect starts dropping legdrops to Bret's midsection, but Bret catches the last one and reverses to the Sharpshooter for the submission and his first WWF singles title at 18:02. Perfect would take a year off to heel his injured back while Bret would use his IC reign as a launching pad to the WWF Title. Excellent match. ****1/2

  • Intercontinental Title: Shawn Michaels (w/Diesel) vs. Mr. Perfect.
    Perfect caused Michaels lose the title to Marty Janetty, so HBK brought in Diesel to help him get it back. Vince promises one of the greatest Intercontinental Title matches we've ever seen. That's a little hard to live up to, especially thanks to the last few Summerslam's IC matches. They both miss clotheslines and botch a double clothesline spot. Shawn comes off the top, but Perfect armdrags him to the mat for two. Perfect slingshots Shawn to the outside. Diesel distracts him just long enough for Michaels to hit Sweet Chin Music. Back in, Michaels works Perfect's oft-injured back. Perfect fights out of a backbreaker stretch and hits a nice dropkick. He gets two off an atomic drop. They fight over a backslide, and Perfect reverses to the Perfectplex. Diesel breaks it up and posts Perfect on the outside for the countout at 10:20. Bleh. After the match, Michaels and Diesel assault Perfect. Find their match from when Shawn was still in the Rockers (early 1991-ish). It's oodles better. **

  • Curt Hennig (w/Rick Rude) vs. Bret Hart (03.15.98).
    The idea here is that Hollywood Hogan sent fellow nWo-er Hennig to get rid of Bret Hart. Bret grabs a headlock on Hennig for a bit and gets the Sharpshooter early. Rude quickly decks him, though, while the referee is asking Hennig if he wants to submit. Hennig goes to work on Bret's knees. He even busts out the figure-four with help from Rude. Hennig goes up, but Bret crotches him and tosses him across the ring by the hair. Bret goes into the FMoD, but a cross-corner whip is reversed, and he takes the "Bret Bump." Hennig hits the "Hennigplex," but it only gets two. Hennig can't believe it, so Bret rolls him up. Hennig reverses with a handful of tights but only gets two. Hart locks in the Sharpshooter for the submission at 13:52. The heels deliver the beatdown to Bret after the loss. It looked like both guys were just going through the motions out there. The match didn't have any of their usual verve. **1/4


  • The 411: A nice, but ultimately bland, biopic tells us most of the things we already know. It's more of a ticking-off of all the usual check points than giving us any real insight. Part of that is that Curt Hennig isn't around to fill in the blanks about his feelings on Verne Gagne or why he left the WWF in the first place. The matches are most of the must-haves, but they've tried to avoid repeats (I've long wanted a decent copy of the Bockwinkel match). Ultimately, the DVD feels a lot like Curt himself: entertaining and worth watching, but it just doesn't reach the heights you hoped it could.

    Solid recommendation.

     
    Final Score:  7.5   [ Good ]  legend





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