THE ROCKTAGON
W/ JAMES SWIFT
 
Let me start off by saying that “Feliz Navidad” is one of the greatest fucking songs ever written, and I am not just discussing Christmas jingles, either. I mean, there’s just something ethereal about hearing Jose Feliciano’s dulcimer tones: When that five foot tall hijo del bitch-a sings about wishing you a merry Christmas, you KNOW that he really does mean it from the bottom of his heart. I’ve never really been one for Yuletide cheer, but man, I can hear that song in June and feel all warm and cozy inside. So to abridge, thank you, Mexico. Thank you for everything.
 
So, uh, anyway, all of this December nostalgia and opining for south-of-the-border entertainment gets my neurons spinning to a certain point in time: a point in time in which the stock market was up, and the only people committing acts of terror on US soil were redneck militia men with vendettas against abortion clinics. Oh, how I long for the reverie-like epoch of 1996!
 
To the common fan, 1996 was kind of an important year for the industry, as in DEAR LORD MEGA JESUS ALMIGHTY THINGS ARE A CHANGING levels of paradigm shifting going on. Perhaps the most significant development in a year pockmarked by a litany of radical alterations to the rasslin’ world was the
transpiration of the absolute unthinkable: for the first time, well, ever, the WWF was getting its ass kicked by a NEW number one promotion in the land. The name of that company, you may ponder?
 
Well, say it with me, wee ones that have never known the joy of fake fisticuffing VARIETY: Double-YOU, SEE, Double-You.
 
Ted Turner’s little wrestling fed was riding high on the hog at this point, pretty much raping Vinny Mac’s buttocks on a weekly basis due to the dual success of the N.W.O. storyline and putting on ACTUAL IN-RING product. Yeah, who would have thought THAT would be such a draw in the wrestling world. Since the final PPV of the year was often the biggest WCW card of the year, and this was unquestionably the company’s most successful year EVER, how exactly would the newfangled kings of the ring conclude its most eventful 365 day era?
 
Well, what do you know: I just so happen to have an old VHS tape lying around. The odds?
 
Anyway, sans further ado, I present unto thee: Starrcade ’96!
 
We begin the show with an opening package that hypes tonight’s main event as the single most important moment in the history of life ever. The discovery of the new world, the advent of the printing press, the dispersion of Christian philosophy throughout Europe? FUCK ALL OF THESE, RODDY PIPER CHALLENGING HOLLYWOOD HULK HOGAN TO A NON-TITLE FIGHT IS OF A LEVEL OF SIGNIFICANCE SO GRAND THAT YOUR FEEBLE MINDS CANNOT GRASP IT AS SUCH.
 
We are coming to you LIVE from Nashville, Tennessee, the only NHL city in the league where the players routinely have more teeth than the aggregate fan. As always, our hosts for the evening soiree are Schiavone, Rhodes, and Heenan. Heenan drops a line about Piper being the only man in the biz that Hogan has never vanquished. Uh, I’m pretty sure Hogan never pinned Super Calo, so that line is a big old fat plate of the shit, Brain, AND YOU KNOW IT.
 
Mike S. throws it to Dave Penzer, as he introduces Ultimo Dragon and Dean Malenko for tonight’s curtain jerker. The gimmick here is that 9 different titles are on the line for the match-up; believe it or not, old Dean gets a pretty sizeable pop from the crowd upon arrival. One fan in the audience throws up the Four Horsemen gang sign as Malenko strolls down the aisle; but wait, this was a good THREE years before Dean joined the Horsemen! That man MUST be clairvoyant. . . And a real asshole for not warning us about 9/11. So yeah, fuck that guy.
 
Hey, Mike TeNAy is brought on for color commentary. You know, because hell if Dusty Rhodes and Tony Schiavone know how to properly call a tope or plancha. Yeah, we get some EXCELLENT mat wrestling to begin this bout, as Sonny Ono runs around the ring looking a lot different than when he was married to Cher.
 
I’ve got to admit, this is a pretty hot crowd; the place goes MOLTEN as Malenko almost Christopher Reeves-Ultimo with a heinous back body drop. It’s not long before the USA chants get stirred up: you mean the Deep South is a blindly jingoistic and nationalistic composition? SURELY YOU JEST!
 
An awesome spot where Dean gets dumped to the outside and Ultimo feigns a head and shoulders tope only to land a sweet suicide dive on the rebound ensues. Back in the ring, and Ultimo works the arms while Mikey T tells an anecdote about Ultimo being one of Bruce Lee’s final pupils. . . Which, yeah, is probably bullshit, but it beats listening to Schiavone’s worthless input.
 
UNINTENTIONALLY HURTFUL HEENAN RACIAL GENERALIZATION OF THE NIGHT: (in riposte to a statement about Ono’s scouting techniques) “Yeah, these Japanese guys do their homework.”
 
Dean locks in a lengthy heel hook as the commentary guys make it an effort to pronounce the namesake as “DRAG-GONE” after TeNAy admonished them for such mispronunciation earlier in the telecast, and I assure you that nothing beats hearing such a title as expressed through the twangy, Texan slur of one Dusty Rhodes.
 
Dean continues to work the leg, Ultimo breaks out the Gymkata shit, and the place ASPLODES as Malenko crushes Dragon with a power slam. Dean no sells the Dragon Bomb, and the crowd goes positively SHIT (of the ape variety) when Dean-o drills Ultimo with a Tombstone Piledriver. Jesus, I can’t believe just how nuclear this crowd is for this stuff; when Dragon kicked out, the audience reacted as if evolution had just been annexed to the Davidson County school curriculum: OUTRAGED, they were.
 
Dragon fights off the Texas Cloverleaf (no relation to Mississippi Shamrock, if you are so pondering), and survives a fierce Tiger Bombing. ASAI MOONSAULT, ALL YOU MOTHER FUCKERS. Back in the ring, and Dragon misses a secondary moonsault, which allows Malenko to lock in the Lone Star Three Lober, but wouldn’t you know it? That sonofabitching Sonny Ono makes the distraction, and Dean-o breaks the hold. Malenko MURDERS Dragon with a brain buster, but only gets the dos. We get about a million reversals, and Ultimo FINALLY sinks Malenko with a tiger supplex.
 
Winner: Ultimo Dragon, further propagation of the belief that all Asian people are inherently sneaky in their ways
 
Well, make that NINE belts for Ultimo now. A damned tremendous bout, way, way, WAY better than all of those purported classics Dean had with Rey-Rey earlier in the year. You want to see this match.
 
Hey, what do you know, Ono is back out for the finals of the WCW Women’s championship tournament thingy and. . .holy fuck, is that Kensuke Sasuke? SWEET JESUS IN A BURNING BRICK CANOE, AKIRA HOKUTO WAS WRESTLING FOR WCW IN 1996?!? Seriously folks, I had forgotten ALL about the whole AJPW deal with Dubya See Dubya. Well, color me tickled pink at this surprising turn of events.
 
Oh great, Lee Marshall is on guest commentary for the bout. Jeez, you can almost taste the lung cancer emanating from this guy’s Camel-coated esophagus. Akira’s opponent for the evening is Madusa, which turns into “Mad USA” when you break it up into chunks. Hmm…sly social commentary at work? Huh, I never knew that Sasuke and Hokuto were married. Lee Marshall drops an even bigger line of bullshit than Tenay’s “Ultimo Dragon is a student of Bruce Lee” steamer from earlier when he claims that the wedding of Kensuke and Akira was televised on live Japanese television and that in their “home land”, they are treated as royalty. Our ref for the gala is Nick Patrick, back when he was working the whole “I’m on the N.W.O. payroll” schtick.
 
Now it’s DUSTY’S turn to make borderline offensive racial remarks: (after Madusa German supplexes Hokuto) “She just dropped her right on her nappy head!”
 
Yeah, leave it to the great polka dotted one to offend TWO different ethnic groups in one verbal barb. Jeez, if you’re going to lob racially tinged rhetoric, at least make sure you get the RIGHT ethnicity to go along with your crude stereotyping. Who’d thunk that a Southern based conglomerate would be home to such ignorance?
 
Ah, misogyny and spinal compression: my two favorite elements in existence, and boy, are they firmly intertwined in this bout. Basically, the match follows this formula: German supplex, sexist commentary, German supplex, sexist commentary, lather, rinse and repeat. Anyway, Ono cracks Madusa over the back with Old Glory, and that allows Akira to land a nasty brain buster for the three count.
 
Winner: Akira Hokuto, Diamond Studded Oxygen Mask Fetishists
 
Post bout, Kensuke and Ono tease contention. Personally, I’m kind of digging the MC Hammer crew cut on Sasaki.
 
Backstage, Mean Gene interviews Roddy Piper, whom manages to make references to Jurassic Park, legendary midget grappler Sky Low Low and Roseanne Bar’s bra size all in the span of a three minute promo. No, really.
 
Anyway, Jushin Liger and his big goofy ass mask are out next, accompanied by the most generic sounding “Oriental” music that has ever existed. His opponent for the eve shall be Rey Mysterio, Jr., whom at this juncture, looks and sounds an awful lot like PS1-era icon PaRappa the Rapper.
 
Well, this is another great match, worth tracking down if only to hear just how damn clueless 3/4ths of the announce desk truly is when it comes to in-ring play calling. Rey Rey is rocking tights that are fairly reminiscent of the old 70s era Atlanta Braves duds, while Jushin, as always, is dressed as the amalgamation of Lord Zed of Power Rangers fame, Peg Bundy and Howie Mandel’s character from “Little Monsters”. Those aesthetic missteps aside, this is a damned spiffy little technical showcase, featuring both guys working the arms, locking in submissions galore and generally looking like all around kickers of the ass. Liger snare Mysterio in a surfboard and. . .WHAT THE FUCK! The tape buzzes, and next thing you know, Jeff Jarrett is sneaking up on Chris Benoit. God damn it, I get all eleven and a half minutes of that shitty throwaway women’s match, but the second best bout on the card gets electronically diced. Mother of ten fuckers. Oh well, let’s make due with what we have and press forward, no matter how inertly reluctant we may TRULY be.
 
All right, so this is a no disqualifications match, centered around something that I forgot about nearly a decade and a half ago. Woman is at ringside, which means. . .you know, even I am starting to grow weary of all of the triple murder-suicide jokes, to be honest with you. Insert your own tastelessness here folks.
 
Well, this was a pretty competitive little match-up, until the end where things got all clusterfucky with everybody from Arn Anderson to Hugh Morris making run-ins. Jarrett eventually pins Benoit, after Sullivan clocks The Crippler over the noggin with a wooden chair.
 
Winner: Jeff Jarrett, oak furniture that is in no way, shape or form rigged to explode, nope, not whatsoever
 
Ugh, that’s WCW for you: we cut out the ending to a great match and supplant it with the shitty ending to another one. Story of the promotion, really. Post-bout, Stone Cold’s future wife/punching bag says things while Steve “Mongo” McMichael verbally stumbles his way to cashing another million dollar paycheck despite contributing nary a goddamn thing to the company. Once again, story of the promotion.
 
Up next, it’s Hall and Nash taking on Meng and The Barbarian. Sounds Hoss-irifiic to me!
 
Believe it or not, this is actually a hell of a match from back when tag team wrestling, you know, meant stuff. Pretty basic storyline here; Hall and Nash are big, tall ass stompers and Meng and The Barbarian are the tanner big, tall ass stompers. Their respective missions? That’s right: the stomping of sundry asses.
 
This is just a flat out expertly paced brawl, with Hall getting the machismo knocked out of him by the Faces of Fear for a good three quarters of the bout. Since Nick Patrick is the referee, everybody in the announce book is mighty suspicious of his officiating. We have some tremendous spots in the bout, aided handsomely by the retardedly hot crowd at the Nashville Municipal Auditorium. When Meng spikes Hall with a pile driver, you can literally FEEL the collective antipathy of the audience. It’s some cool shit, no doubt.
 
Anyway, we get the typical free-for-all ending, as Nash ends the bout by Jack Knifing Meng to retain the WCW tag straps.
 
Winners: Scott Hall and Kevin Nash, memories of when Scott Hall and Kevin Nash could actually do stuff
 
Backstage Promo Time! Hogan says Piper lives in Oregon and is something of an unfit father. Of course, he doesn’t use those exact words because he’s kind of a carnie, but still, that is what he implies.
 
Sounds like Teen Spirit as DDP makes his way ringside. His adversary this evening is Eddie Guerrero, who comes out to what sounds like a Whitesnake cover band. This is the finals for the US title. Enthused is what we all are. Heenan calls Guerrero’s finisher the “Jack knife off the top rope” and Dusty labels it as “The Froggy Splash”. Dear God, there must be enough vodka around the announce desk to start a four alarm blaze.
 
Well, here are some highlights from this bout:
 
Tony S. talking about tickets for the show being scalped in the parking lot, only to be told to STFU by Dusty because it’s an illegal practice.
 
DDP hitting Guerrero with something of a proto-Styles Clash.
 
Heenan shouting “Diamond Cutter!” right before Page hits Eddie with a neck breaker.
 
Well, damn, this was another really good match. For what it’s worth, this may very well be one of the best wrestled, match-by-match cards of the decade. Finish comes (eww!) when Hall power bombs DDP while the ref is distracted, allowing Guerrero to land the Jackknife Froggy Splash of the top rope for the victory.
 
Winner: Eddie Guerrero, literacy (you know, because DDP says he didn’t learn how to read until he was like 30. Come on, I can’t be the only one that say that episode of WWE Confidential, am I?)
 
Post bout, the N.W.O. beat down Guerrero, and we’re thrown to a promo for the first ever Souled Out PPV. According to the teaser, “it’ll be on on videocassette”. Yes, it really did say “on” twice, if you are wondering.
 
By the way, the most complete, encompassing database in existence (Wikipedia) said that Liger beat Mysterio in that one match from earlier. Well, that’s one less mystery in the world, I guess.
 
Up next, it’s The Giant taking on Lex Luger. . .and may God have mercy on all our souls.
 
Wait. . . Did Heenan just say that Luger was one of the most flexible athletes on the planet? Now, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and CHOOSE TO BELIEVE that he meant to say “Liger”. Can’t besmirch the Brain, no way, no how, but with shit like that emanating from his maw, I don’t know.
 
For the first seven minutes of the match, the Giant simply tosses Luger around like a rag doll. Yeah, there are some feigned hope spots early, but they never really go anywhere. Luger makes a withdrawal from the sperm bank (in other words, he get his comeback) and tries to body slam the future Big Show. Apparently, Lex Luger never say WrestleMania III, or else he would’ve known what happens to muscley blonde dudes that try to pick up really fat guys in black singlets.
 
Well, there’s no doubt as to whom is the night’s most valuable player: seriously folks, the crowd absolutely MAKES this PPV. In any other venue, this match would come off as a shit-exchange between two hosses, but the fire behind the crowd really turns this into something that is dangerously close to being respectable. By the end of this bout, the audience is glowing like Chernobyl as Nick Patrick interferes, saving The Giant from the Torture Rack, until motherfucking STING runs out of the crowd and drops the great equalizer (huh, who’d thunk that would be nothing more than a spray painted plastic bat?) for Luger to take full advantage of. Sting exits the fray, Luger pummels the Giant’s nutsack with a few fist grenades, and pins the Great Wight Hope after whacking him in the ass with a Louisville Slugger. Huh, I guess that must have been his weak spot.
 
Winner: Lex Luger, easily impressed Southern throngs
 
Post-bout, The Giant grimaces. . . And that probably makes him think of McDonalds. You know, because he’s fat.
 
We cut to Michael Buffer in the ring. Hogan is out first, accompanied down the aisle by more WWF wash-ups than the flotsam of Stamford after a monumental tsunami hits the Titan headquarters. . . And fuck you if you think that analogy is overtly worded. Piper is out second, rocking the baby blue trunks. Well, at least he didn’t elect to perform that evening in humdrum, generic attire, no?
 
Hogan begins the bout by throwing his forehead sweat at Piper. No, really. Lots of clinching to begin, and Piper ripostes with some fine fisticuffing. Well, there’s nothing pretty about this one: just a whole shit load of sloppy striking. Piper sinks in a headlock of Randy Orton-esque proportions, and then we have us some outside brawling. . . And then the video tape jumps to The Giant and Hogan jawing one another. Sonofabitch, ANOTHER excised finish. Well, uh, Piper actually won the match, which is kind of an important thing to note, and then The Giant came out and wanted to fight Hogan for the belt and. . .well, yeah, you really had to have been there WHEN IT HAPPENED to truly grasp all of this, but all of this was captivating shit way back when. Come on kids, just take my word for it.
 
Well, I learned a very valuable lesson this evening: when you pay $0.99 cents for a VHS cassette off eBay, rest assure that you get EVERY nickel’s worth of the purchase. All in all, I really don’t feel gypped, per se; with the COMPLETE bouts dissected, this has to be considered one of the better PPVS of the decade, with nary an out and out horrible bout on the card. When a good 75 percent of the show is of THE RUNNING MAN caliber (note: The Rocktagon equivalent of a three * * * bout), you know that you just witnessed something very, very pertinent.
 
I’ve made this utterance multiple times throughout the broadcast, but seriously, the crowd fucking MADE this show. If you want to see just how much influence an audience can have on a card, take a gander at this PPV; there are about three or four matches on here that would’ve been sub par afterthoughts on most nights, but the Creationist-loving, wife-beating, no MLB-team having Tennesseans brought it in full force this eve, and for that, I say but one thing to the Nashville audience: thank you. And please, shower.
 
Well, that’s all I have for this week. Hey, TWF viewers, before I depart for the year, I have a very specific inquiry for you: have you read any good books lately?
 
Huh, what’s that? Why do I ask?
 
Oh, no reason. No reason at all . . . ; )
 
James Swift is a 23 year old fledgling author from the metro Atlanta area. When he isn’t watching guys pretend to beat one another up during the Clinton Administration, he occasionally posts whimsical nostalgic reflections on Retro Junk and is an MMA correspondent for F4WONLINE. HEY! Do yourself a favor and log onto to his Tube page @: http://www.youtube.com/user/JSwiftMassMedia . Subscribe, or you’ll get the AIDS virus.
 
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TWF FLASHBACK

November 2006

SATIRE: DISCONTINUED WWE XMAS PRODUCTS!

by Sean Carless

With Christmas just around the corner, what better way to spend your few remaining dollars (left over after the seemingly infinite line-up of fucking pay-per-views ) then on the following "quality WWE merchandise!" After all, if they don't move this stuff, and fast, stockholders just might get time to figure out what "plummeting domestic buyrates" means!... and well, I don't think they need to tell you what that means! (Seriously. They're not telling you. Everything is fine! Ahem.).