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Written By: Mark Armstrong
Running Time: 61 Minutes
Number Of Discs: 1
Studio: Clear Vision Ltd/Silver Vision
Released: January 25 2005
This retro DVD review really is a throwback in more ways than one. The DVD in question was released in 2005, but is actually a re-release of a video (yes, a video) which first saw the light of day in the mid-1990s. Adding to the old-school feel, it is roughly an hour long and features five matches, most of which lack entrances and some of which have overdubbed commentary.
We open with Gorilla Monsoon introducing us to the programme and quickly explaining what is to come. I liked Gorilla but I couldn’t help but laugh when he described an upcoming Bret Hart-Skinner match as a “blockbuster” (due to the latter, not the former). Anyway, we then get into match 1. Oh, and all matches bar one are from 1993 (the exception is from 1992).
Shawn Michaels defends against Crush in Sheffield, England (I think this was at UK Rampage 1993 but I could be wrong). It is a decent enough bout for the era but just as it’s picking up steam, a ringside brawl leads to Crush winning by countout. Any wrestling fan knows that this means the title doesn’t change hands, but that doesn’t stop former two-time WWF titleholder Randy Savage blurting out “New Champion!”
Match two is the oldest of the compilation, the aforementioned Bret-Skinner showdown. This appears to have taken place at the 1992 SummerSlam Spectacular (not the PPV, but the pre-PPV TV special; I wish they’d do them nowadays. There’s an idea for the WWE Network), and ends fairly quickly as Bret makes a comeback from a Skinner onslaught to win by submission. The dubbed commentary feels weird since Jim Ross wasn’t in the WWF at the time and the Macho Man was actually wrestling on that very show as WWF Champ! Also notable here is the amazingly quiet crowd, presumably because they knew Bret had zero chance of losing with a then-impending title bout with The British Bulldog to come days later at that very SummerSlam.
We then get some more comments from Monsoon (he loved that Bret-Skinner bout) before we get to the highlight of the DVD, but before we do, I point out my biggest confusion with the release. So far, we’ve had clearly dubbed commentary from JR, Macho and the always-hilarious Bobby Heenan, so I assumed that we’d get that for the rest of the feature. Nope: instead, match three has also-dubbed commentary from Ross and Gorilla (a commentary dream team, actually), made worse because during the scrap, we see the real announcers for the showdown, consisting of Vince McMahon and … Randy Savage and Bobby Heenan! Making things more bizarre, we get the real commentary for the last two matches on the programme. The mind boggles.
On the bright side, the middle match in question is Shawn vs. Marty Jannetty, a genuinely great Raw match from July 1993 which I think actually won some Match Of The Year awards. I like this inclusion because Marty won the IC gold from Michaels in a famous Raw bout two months later that has been on a few DVDs. However, the Raw follow-up (Michaels regained the strap on a house show in the interim) is never released, so it’s good to see it here. And it’s a great match by the standards of any era. As I say, the definite highlight of the show.
Next up is Shawn vs. Mr. Perfect from SummerSlam 1993. I seemed to remember this being something of a disappointment. It actually was better than I’d remembered, but it was still a bit of a let-down considering that it involves two of the best wrestlers of all-time. With another five minutes and without a(nother) countout finish, this could have been remembered more fondly, but as it was, the match is often overlooked, especially after the two classic IC Title bouts at the previous two SummerSlams.
The last match is a Raw clash from a few months earlier between HBK and Hacksaw Jim Duggan. This is another match which tends to end a bit out of the blue, and unfortunately it has the third countout finish of the programme. This is back in the days when a babyface wrestler would celebrate such a result in a championship showdown, knowing full well that he wasn’t going to win the title. Mind you, the production of the feature suggests that he did actually become champ, at least to the uneducated viewer (the match fades out before we’re told that Shawn actually kept the gold). We close with some final comments from Gorilla Monsoon (which, by the way, are in the old-school WWF TV truck).
A few more points about the programme: the chronology is all over the place, and covers a weird time period in that we get spring/summer 1993, with one random 1992 match thrown in, and the bouts aren’t in date order. Plus, all but one feature Shawn Michaels, so this feels more like a HBK title than one for the IC, erm, title. Three countout finishes out of five matches is also an annoyance on a best-of.
Which brings me to my last point: does this really represent the BEST of the Intercontinental Championship? I don’t think it even represents that prize’s best matches from 1993 (two other Shawn-Marty bouts from that year should have been here instead; hell, we had Michaels in nearly every match anyway). Standards were different back then, so for example we wouldn’t have had Bret-British Bulldog from SSlam 92, since Davey Boy Smith was in between WWF tenures when this compilation was made, but couldn’t we at least have had Bret-Perfect from SummerSlam 1991 since both are featured here?
Still, taken for what it is, this is a decent old-school collection. One match is really good and only one is a bit dull, and the commentary, whilst clearly overdubbed at times, is still amusing at various points (Bobby Heenan has several funny one-liners, and Savage’s attempt at Hacksaw Jim Duggan’s “Hooooo!” is unintentionally hilarious). For longtime fans like me who were watching the WWF in the 1990s, you should enjoy this budget release, if for no other reason than to see how advanced wrestling compilations have become since then. Besides that, you’re most likely to find this worthwhile if you’re an avid collector or if you simply want a low-priced wrestling DVD. Or if, as with Gorilla Monsoon, you’re a big fan of Skinner.
Overall Rating: 4.5/10 – Below Average