Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Heroes of Wrestling - Retro Review

It’s regarded as the worst pay-per-view in wrestling history, where a bunch of ageing stars gathered together in an attempt to cash in on the boom period in 1999. But was it really that bad? That’s what I was hoping to find out by watching the infamous Heroes of Wrestling show.

The show began with tag team action as Samu and Fatu, the Samoan Swat Team, managed by Paul Adams, went up against the “Fantastic Rockers”, Tommy Rogers and Marty Janetty.

The best way to describe this one would be disjointed. Janetty played the part of the punching bag for his team, but whenever he was joined for double team moves by Rogers they didn’t look so good. The Samoans looked okay, although it was obvious that they’d both seen better days.

It was Samu who took the pin for his team, taking Rogers down with Marc Mero’s old TKO finisher.

The singles action began with Greg “The Hammer” Valentine taking on George “The Animal” Steele, managed by Sensational Sherri.

Before this match began a short piece of footage lead us to believe that Steele and Sherri were romantically involved. Who wrote this stuff?

Now this was poor. Throughout the match Sherri would take turns favouring those involved, making it obvious to all but Steele that she was turning heel.

As for the match Steele and Valentine spent most of the time jabbing each other with what looked like a spoon wrapped in tape.

The Hammer emerged victorious here, with Sherri finally cementing her heel turn by clobbering Steele with a chair, Valentine getting the pin afterwards.

The next match featured, for want of a better term, normal wrestlers as Julio Fantastico went up against Too Cold Scorpio.

This one wasn’t that bad. Scorpio and Fantastico put in good performances in a match filled with some nice high flying moves, although it did seem to drag on towards the end.

Scorpio sealed the deal here after taking Fantastico out with a 450 leg drop from the top rope.

It was back to tag team action for the next match as the Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff, accompanied by manager Nikita Breshnikoff, went up against the Bushwhackers, Luke and Butch.

To quote a certain other JR, this was bowling shoe ugly. These four looked like old man and moved around the ring like old men, especially the Iron Sheik.

I really can’t describe how bad this match was, and thankfully it came to an end when the Sheik was pinned after Volkoff hit him with what looked like the same foreign object that Steele and Valentine had used earlier.

Oh, and if some of the fans who attended this show are still wondering, the Russians are still out friends. Not sure about those Iranians though.

Then it was on to a battle of former tag team greats as Stan Lane faced Tully Blanchard, set up by a recorded angle in which Lane attacked Blanchard as he got out of his limo.

For a couple of guys who hadn’t been in the ring for a few years these two did pretty well. Okay, it wasn’t a mat classic, but it was certainly a lot better than the majority of the stuff on this show.

There was a little confusion over the ending though. After Lane took Blanchard down with a bridging back suplex the referee made the three count, with Blanchard raising his shoulder just in time.

Lane thought he’d won the match until the referee revealed that Blanchard was the winner. Needless to say that Lane wasn’t too pleased with the decision.

The battle of the big men followed as the One Man Gang went up against Abdullah the Butcher, accompanied by manager “Honest” John something or other.

I think you can guess how this one turned out. It was basically two big guys beating on each other. Abby was the first to bleed after the Gang hit him with his chain, but it wasn’t long before the Butcher started prodding OMG with his trusty fork, drawing even more blood.

Eventually the referee completely lost control and threw the match out, with the two big man continuing to fight all the way backstage. Well, it was what it was.

An old rivalry was renewed next as Randy Orton’s dad Cowboy Bob went up against “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka, accompanied by Captain Lou Albano. Finally a legendary manager!

Like the Lane/Blanchard match this was okay. While these two may have seen better days they were certainly capable of putting on a match with sound ring psychology.

Sadly we didn’t get to see the famous superfly splash, although we did see Snuka coming off the top rope to take Orton out with a body block for the pin.

Then it was on to what was meant to be the penultimate match between Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart and Jake “The Snake” Roberts.

This was a complete shambles. It began with Jake’s infamous pre-match interview, a drunken rambling about cheating at cards and gambling.

From there it got a lot worse. Roberts came to the ring with his python, then promptly returned backstage just so he could take off his tee shirt. On his way back into the ring a woman at ringside played with his moobs.

Then the match started, and while Roberts was struggling to cope the snake escaped from the bag, which led us to the infamous moment when Roberts put the snake between his legs, pretending it was a certain part of his anatomy.

Once the match re-started Roberts’ performance went even further downhill, and it wasn’t long before King Kong Bundy came down to help Neidhart out.

The brought the barely mobile Yokozuna into the equation as this was quickly turned into a tag team match.

The addition of the two big men didn’t help matters. Try as they might just couldn’t cover up the snake man’s continuing poor performance, and thankfully Bundy brought the proceedings to an end, pinning Roberts after a big splash.

After Neidhart and Bundy left the ring Roberts and Yoko took out their frustrations on Bundy’s mystery manager, a guy who just appeared out of nowhere. Yoko took him down with a Samoan drop because Roberts was unable to take him out with his patented DDT, his condition was that bad. Instead he just grabbed his bag and put the python on him.

The show then ended abruptly, without warning, and without any farewell from anyone. The last image shown was Yoko checking to see if Roberts was okay as he lay in the corner.

In conclusion - so where do I begin?

On paper, the Heroes of Wrestling show probably sounded like a good idea, a great way to cash in on the boom period at the time. But execution was just terrible.

Firstly the production standards were pretty poor. I’ve reviewed fan cam shows that looked better than this. The set made it look like a poor man’s Nitro, and I lost count of the number of times the director cut to a crowd shot and missed big moves in the ring.

The announcers were just as bad. Although Dutch Mantel held his end up pretty well play-by-play guy Randy Rosenbloom was the worst announcer I’ve ever heard, and that’s saying something considering I’ve seen Michael Mann’s performance in WAW’s first ever VHS release.

The man just had no clue. At one point he called a drop kick a leg drop. It got to the point where colour man Mantell was doing most of the play-by-play stuff himself, and he was a lot better than Rosenbloom.

Match quality ranged from not bad to bloody awful. While the likes of Stan Lane, Tully Blanchard and Bob Orton showed good ring psychology most of the others really had no business being in the ring.

As for the managers, apart from Sherri and Lou Albano, who were they? If they were going to use managers they could have at least gone looking for some well known men and women who weren‘t under contract to the big two.

So does this get the thumbs up? Hell no! After this debacle I’m not surprised they cancelled the follow-up shows. What could have been a fond trip down memory lane was more like a highway to hell, and if anyone is considering putting on a show like this in the future then I would suggest taking a look at the ECW reunion shows in 2005, or at last year’s Hardcore Justice show.