This week in WWE Network Deep Cuts, we pay tribute to the late Ultimate Warrior by highlighting a match against Mr. Perfect from Madison Square Garden, plus Shawn Michaels vs Owen Hart, Ultimo Dragon vs Rey Mysterio Jr, and more!
It's week two of WWE Network Deep Cuts, the second chapter and second volume and second helping and second lunch and whatever else comes second. Next week will be the third wheel and third banana.
As always, if you want to talk about the rasslin on the Twitter, follow me there at @tapemachines. Let's get into the good stuff.
(Quick note: I said last week I'd include a crap match with the five gems, but I didn't feel like doing that this week, because I kind of forgot, and I didn't want to think of a notable crap match, but I'll probably include that eventually. I might have to make myself a list of those to include in the future, because that takes more thinking for me, and it's less fun than farting around looking for good matches.)
The Ultimate Warrior vs Mr. Perfect (WWE Old School, MSG, 3/19/90)
I wanted to include a Warrior match this week following his untimely passing last Wednesday, but the difficulty was finding a Warrior match that is underrated or overlooked, because frankly speaking, he wasn't a star between the bells, he was a star before and after the matches actually happened. He was almost all character. I'm not saying that as a negative, it just made this exact idea a little difficult. Warrior's best matches are all recognized, and his other matches are all just kind of about the same quality.
This one is damn solid, though, and fun because Hennig was the exact right guy to make Warrior look super exciting while also getting a decent wrestling match out of him. Just the start of this one is worth it, as Warrior's immediate criss-cross leads Perfect to do the same, which gets Hennig chopped and sent over the top to the floor, because that's just the kind of stuff he did. This was just prior to the WrestleMania VI match for Warrior, so obviously he stays strong, but Perfect looks like a capable threat, too, which was really his highest level in the WWF -- a top contender, used largely to make lesser opponents look better than they were. We got the same thing from Ted DiBiase, as I mentioned in one of the WrestleMania Top 100 posts.
This match also features the commentary trio of Gorilla Monsoon, Lord Alfred Hayes, and Hillbilly Jim, which is fun but less eventful than you might expect. I do love listening to Hayes. What a strange man he was.
Marty Jannetty vs Bam Bam Bigelow (WWF Monday Night Raw, 5/31/93)
In year one of Monday Night Raw, there were plenty of good TV matchups. This was one. Fresh off his surprise Intercontinental title win over Shawn Michaels two weeks prior, Jannetty and new manager Sensational Sherri squared off against Bam Bam Bigelow, accompanied by Sherri's ‘93 rival, Luna Vachon. The women have only a short scrap before the match gets underway, and surprisingly they don't fight the rest of the match, either. Neat!
Bigelow had a great feel for working with smaller guys like Bret Hart or Jannetty, because he was one of the few monsters who could actually keep pace with them, allowing them to work pretty much their normal style, only against a 400-pound dude, which made everyone look impressive. I should note now that I don't really care about DQs or countouts or non-finishes, I just want to see good rassle action. This one has a countout, but some good rassle action in the meantime. Jannetty was really a great worker.
Shawn Michaels vs Owen Hart (WWF In Your House 6: Rage in the Cage, 2/18/96)
These were two of the three best wrestlemen in the WWF at this time, with Bret No. 2 behind Michaels, and just ahead of Owen. I was a big Owen fan, but when I go back, there's just that little indescribable thing that separated Bret and Owen in the ring. Bret was that slight bit crisper, more expressive, more fluid and natural, at least in my view. To me, it's like comparing Chris Benoit and Dean Malenko. Both were tremendously skilled, but Benoit had that bit more that Malenko did not.
But this is an excellent match, and one that makes me wish we'd gotten more significant Shawn-Owen matches; in particular, I still desperately wish we'd seen a Shawn-Owen feud between Survivor Series ‘97 and WrestleMania XIV, as I've said before.
Shawn's WrestleMania XII title shot against Bret is on the line, giving this some serious stakes, and the 1996 WWF crowd in Louisville is filled almost exclusively with children, it seems, and some women who are wild about HBK. The match also plays on the old angle where Owen had knocked Michaels out cold with an enzuigiri kick, as Owen blasts him again and sends him tumbling to the ringside floor, but Shawn makes the comeback, and there's a nice finish sequence. Not an all-time classic, but a great match that kept Shawn hot going into Mania.
Ultimo Dragon vs Rey Mysterio Jr (WCW World War 3 1996)
Tony and Dusty are yapping about the nWo or whatever to start this match, and Tony goes, "Bob? The Brain's busy over here." Heenan replies, "I'm watching this match, is what I'm doing." Classic.
The Eddie Guerrero-Rey Mysterio Jr match at Halloween Havoc ‘97 is the best WCW cruiserweight match ever, but this one for me is a competitive runner-up. Both of these guys were at peak powers at this time, and they just straight up kill it. Watching Rey in 1996 compared to Rey in 2014 is a little sad. Over time, he became a more complete pro wrestler, and I think he was really phenomenal his first few years in WWE still, but he was truly spectacular in his real prime, before all the injuries that slowed him down, before the bulking up that slowed him down.
Ring announcer David Penzer says "A-Crown" instead of "J-Crown," and Dragon was still being called "The Ultimate Dragon," as this was before Mike Tenay did an exposé on why his name is Ultimo Dragon.
The match is mostly Dragon beating the living crap out of little Rey, who absorbs the asskicking admirably, as always, and gets one of his Rey Rallies. The action is non-stop, high-impact, and one of the finest examples of WCW's cruiserweight division. It's so good that even Tony and Dusty can manage to mostly just talk about the match.
Jerry Lynn vs Yoshihiro Tajiri vs Super Crazy (ECW November to Remember 1999)
1999 was "my" year for ECW, as I didn't even have the show until the cable company accidentally put PASS Sports through in late 1997, and my first live ECW pay-per-view was Living Dangerously ‘99, which featured the first great RVD-Lynn match, followed by the relatively disappointing rematch at Hardcore Heaven ‘99. It was a fun transition year for ECW, as Taz had been pushed to the moon as the top star in the company, only to leave for the WWF late in the year. This was Taz's last major show for ECW, as he faced RVD for the TV title a couple of months after dropping the ECW title in Chicago in a three-way at Anarchy Rulz with Mike Awesome and Masato Tanaka.
I still think Anarchy Rulz ‘99 is the best ECW show, but the rest of the ‘99 pay-per-views are good fun, scattershot and WE THREW OUT THE FORMAT!!! as they were. Lynn was hyped as a guy who was underutilized by WCW and the WWF, which I guess is true, but Lynn was what Lynn was. Not a talker, not a big guy, not really flashy, just a terrific professional wrestler between the ropes. He was like the opposite of the Ultimate Warrior, actually. Tajiri and Super Crazy never had less than a kickass match, and throwing the highly-capable Lynn -- DDP rib tape and all -- into the mix hurt nothing. This is hot and sexy ECW three-way action that is fun for the whole family. It was around this time that Tajiri was becoming my favorite wrestler in the world to watch, and Super Crazy wasn't terribly far behind.
The WCW cruiserweight division had faded badly by this point, the WWF's light heavyweight division was dead by mid-1998, and with these three guys and Little Guido, ECW was taking up some of the slack for cruiserweight-style action in the U.S., at least on the major stage. If you consider ECW to have been a major stage, which we did at the time, but seems kind of silly now, because it really wasn't. It was a farm system, and a great one. It was like a mix of 2004-05 Ring of Honor and modern day NXT, but with all the extra ECW fun of the nuts ass crowds and CATFIGHT CATFIGHT and lots of extreme curses and whatnot.
Go forth and watch, friends both young and old! Share your emotions and feelings!