Friday, 29 August 2008

iGW Rodman Down Under - Retro Review

So what do you get when you put a bunch of ageing former WWE superstars with one of the most controversial figures in the history of basketball? No, it’s not a mid-nineties WCW show, it’s iGeneration Wrestling, and this edition sees us taking a trip back eight years to Sydney, Australia, with Curt Hennig defending his iGW World title against Dennis Rodman in the appropriately titled Rodman Down Under, which has been broadcast lord knows how many times on The Fight Network here in Britain, and is also available around the world on DVD! Commentary duties for this one are handled by Mike Mancini and the Million Dollar Man himself, Ted Dibiase.

The show begins with an in-ring confrontation between Hennig and Rodman, it’s on to the first match, with Public Enemy defending their Tag-Team titles against the Road Warriors in a tables match, where both members of a team have to be put through a table to achieve victory. To be brutally honest, this match awful. Both teams seem to plod along, and Public Enemy, and Johnny Grunge in particular, are very poor. This match seems to go on forever, but it does thankfully end. After Rock puts Hawk through a table at ringside, Animal reversed Public Enemy’s attempts to put him through a table propped up in the ring by spearing both of them through the table at once to win the match and the titles for his team. If I ever see this match again it will be too soon.

Singles action follows, with the Barbarian facing Brute Force in a hardcore match. Brute Force is actually the artist formerly known as Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake…and the Booty Man….and the Disciple….and Zodiac…and E. Harrison Leslie…and the Man With No Name. According to the announcers the Barbarian is now something of a hardcore icon. Next thing you know he’ll be entering a Japanese death match tournament. But anyway, back to the matter at hand. Although this isn’t the best hardcore brawl I’ve ever seen, it’s certainly a big improvement over the opener. It’s entertaining in it’s own way, even though there’s not much actual wrestling, and just two big guys beating on each other with anything they can get their hands on. However, like the previous match, this one suffers because it seems to drag and drag, with hardly an ending in sight. Eventually there was an ending. After Brute failed to put his opponent away following a stunner, a DDT and a piledriver, he climbed to the second rope with a rubbish bin lid in his hands. But the Barbarian counted by booting the lid into his face, getting the three count moments later. Could have been better.

Then it’s the turn of the women, with Brandi Wine, accompanied by her Sugar Daddy, who was previously known as Tugboat…and Typhoon…and the Shock Master, takes on Sweet Destiny, who is accompanied by “Aussie” Joe Bugner. In case you don’t know, Bugner is a former professional boxer who went fifteen rounds with the great Muhammad Ali, and who was at one time one of the most hated sportsmen in Britain, just because he defeated and ended the career of national treasure Henry Cooper. But getting back to the match, and this has to be one of the worst women’s matches I’ve ever seen. Things seemed okay when the match started, but as the match went on things began to get worse, botched moves, mistimed dives and all the stuff, and like the previous two matches, it seemed to go on way too long. In fact the only good thing about this match was when Bugner and the Sugar Daddy had a brief fight themselves, with Bugner landing a right that sent the former Tugboat crashing to the mat. But then the action returned to normal, with Destiny getting the win after an awful looking superplex off the ropes. Remember what I said at the end of the first match? Well, apply that line to this part of the review as well.

The ageing superstars return, as the One Man Gang challenges Tatanka for the International title. Surprisingly, the Gang is the only former WWE star on this card who actually seems to have lost weight. After this disappointment of the first three matches, this was a drastic improvement between two veterans who knew how to put on a wrestling match in which everything just seemed to make sense. It was well executed, well paced, and with great psychology to match, and because of this, it didn’t seem to drag like the other matches. We even got the magical referee bump here, and the Gang clobbering Tatanka with the brass knuckles with the official was recovering, getting the pin from the groggy ref straight afterwards, earning him the title. Good stuff here, and the most impressive things here were some of the bumps that the Gang took!

Main event time, with World Champion Curt Hennig taking on the bad boy Dennis Rodman in an Australian Outback match, which basically means that anything goes, and falls count anywhere. I didn’t hold out much hope for this one, but I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised. As far as wrestling brawls goes, this wasn’t that bad. If it had been a pure wrestling match then Rodman wouldn’t have had a chance of keeping up with Hennig, but brawl-wise he was able to hold his own. As the match goes on Hennig dominates Rodman, and it’s only when the Worm head butts the referee that he manages to get in some offence. But Hennig soon regains control, with Rodman attacking the referee for a second time, earning himself a disqualification - a somewhat strange decision considering that I always thought that anything goes matches meant that there were no disqualifications. Anyway, the fighting continues after the bell, with the referee getting clobbered again, and Joe Bugner and Brute Force returning to the arena to break up the brawl. Good stuff, but a somewhat confusing ending.

In conclusion - I think the best way to describe this show is average - and I would have described it as below average if it wasn’t for the final two matches. If someone who hadn’t read this view asked me if I recommended this show, I say no, unless you can get it at bargain basement price, or you can tape it the next time it’s shown on TV. Rodman Down Under will not go down as one of the best shows in the history of professional wrestling, just as one of the most average.