As part of an ongoing series on the Place to Be Podcast, Scott Criscuolo and Justin Rozzero have been reviewing pay-per-view cards from the WWF/WWE month-by-month and putting together their all-time shows, plucking one match from each year. It’s made for some awesome shows and riveting discussion.
But have you been listening and found yourself now and again yelling “That’s not how I would have done it!” and becoming that weirdo on the train or in your office in the process? Well, we certainly have, and we’ve decided to do something about it.
Every time Scott and Justin build their all-time cards, we will do the same, offering our commentary on the PiCs’ selections as well as each other’s.
-One match must be selected from each year
-No competitor can be used more than once unless they undergo a drastic gimmick/persona change
-The WWF/WWE, World, Intercontinental and WWF/WWE Tag Team titles must all be defended
(and a couple additional rules for our first installment, covering January/Royal Rumble…)
-Only one Royal Rumble match can be used
-New Year’s Revolution is in play for 2005, 2006 and 2007
With that out of the way, let’s get to it…
Scott & Justin’s Pick: “Ravishing” Rick Rude vs. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat
Chad’s Pick: “Ravishing” Rick Rude vs. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat
Ben’s Pick: WWF Women’s Tag Team Champions The Glamour Girls vs. The Jumping Bomb Angles in a Two Out of Three Falls match
Chad’s Take: I am glad Ben went with some variety by picking the women’s tag team match. It really was fascinating watching the Bomb Angels get over with the foreign crowds and this was their only PPV appearance. I ultimately went with Rude vs. Steamboat simply because of the notoriety of having both stars on the card and on the basis of how much I love the later matches these two had in WCW in 1992.
Ben’s Take: Everybody else went with the Steamboat/Rude singles match here on the basis of wanting to have two icons represented on an all-time card like this, but I disagree, at least in this instance. I do think for any card encompassing the breadth of WWF/WWE history you’d ideally like to work in the most iconic figures, but that’s guys like Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart, Steve Austin and John Cena; I love Rude and Steamboat, but they had arguably their best days in other promotions and I don’t think you lose that much of a historic bent by cutting them here. On the other hand, one could argue the Women’s Tag title match from the inaugural Royal Rumble stands out as the type of thing really never replicated again on WWF/WWE programming due to the work rate of the Jumping Bomb Angels, a team years ahead of their time; that’s my contention, and I think having such a unique gem on the card—not to mention the first of many great Rumble undercard tag matches—means more than forcing Rude and Steamboat in.
Scott & Justin’s Pick: King Haku vs. Harley Race
Chad’s Pick: King Haku vs. Harley Race
Ben’s Pick: King Haku vs. Harley Race
Chad’s Take: Not much of an opinion here since we all picked the same match. This match is a fine undercard feud type match that is a natural spot on this card for the 1989 Rumble.
Ben’s Take: Going with the flow on this one, as we all picked two of the toughest bastards in wrestling history going head to head in an underrated brawl given the advanced age of one of the competitors; probably Harley Race’s last truly great match, so that gives it extra value.
Scott & Justin’s Pick: Ronnie Garvin vs. Greg Valentine in a Submission match
Chad’s Pick: Ronnie Garvin vs. Greg Valentine in a Submission match
Ben’s Pick: Ronnie Garvin vs. Greg Valentine in a Submission match
Chad’s Take: This is another boring choice but the match is far from a snoozefest. Valentine and Garvin lay into each other and have a really heated, intense match harboring back to their Jim Crockett Promotions days from the early 1980’s. The multiple pinning attempts can be a turn off for some, but the hatred conveyed makes the match enjoyable to me.
Ben’s Take: Again, we all had consensus here, with Ron Garvin’s best outing against anybody not named “Ric Flair” and an early gimmick match as well.
Scott & Justin’s Pick: The Orient Express vs. The Rockers
Chad’s Pick: The Orient Express vs. The Rockers
Ben’s Pick: The Big Boss Man vs. The Barbarian
Chad’s Take: So far, my card mimics the PTB team. I had to pick this opener as I think in a world outside of Owen vs. Bret from Mania 10, you could argue that this is the best WWF/E PPV opener of all time. This match is full on high octane tag action that mixes in great spots electrifying the crowd. Boss Man vs. Barbarian was a shockingly fun hoss match that highlighted how good of an overall card the 1991 Rumble is.
Ben’s Take: Ok, not knocking the Rockers/Orient Express match at all here, because it’s a classic, and I did not leave it off my card lightly. Ultimately, as I would do a few times as I went through this, I had to look at the bigger picture and ask if this match, good as it might be, would be worth cutting off my access to Shawn Michaels as a singles wrestler down the line. I waffled on the topic several times and left this spot blank for awhile, but when I came to a point later on where I knew I could really use HBK, I decided that match and Michaels as a solo guy period tallied up to a slightly higher value than this. It may well be the wrong decision—and I’m sure I’ll hear about it—but I stand by it and can be happy with a nice slugfest along Boss Man’s 1991 Heenan Family Revenge tour against the Barbarian.
Scott & Justin’s Pick: The Royal Rumble for the WWF Championship
Chad’s Pick: “Rowdy” Roddy Piper vs. The Mountie for the Intercontinental Championship
Ben’s Pick: The New Foundation vs. The Orient Express
Chad’s Take: Finally three different choices! Orient Express vs. New Foundation is a fun opener but it pales in comparison the previous year. The January marquee card is the Royal Rumble and the 1992 Rumble is for my money, the best in history. However, putting this Rumble also eliminates the WWF title which also has three absolutely classic candidates to be used later. I ultimately went with Piper vs. Mountie to create something different on my card. I was a little weary of burning my IC match here instead of something like Jericho vs. Benoit from 2001, but my rationale was that this match could be used to pop the crowd in a lull moment. Seeing Roddy capture his gold is a pristine moment in WWF history.
Ben’s Take: Again, the big picture came into play here. I’m not arguing against the 1992 Rumble match being the best ever; when you combine roster, story and commentary, I don’t really think that argument can be too strong. However, the fact that it had the WWF title on the line meant to include it I’d lose access to any future matches with that championship and burn my one Rumble to boot; Scott and Justin deemed that sacrifice worth it, but I went another way. It seems a shame not to have the greatest Royal Rumble on an all-time card bearing its name, but I saw enough very good Rumbles and enough very very good WWF title matches down the line that I went ahead and decided the cumulative gain outweighed the loss. Chad went with the emotional Piper/Mountie match which didn’t have much great wrestling but an awesome moment, however, I wanted to also save the Intercontinental title, so I ended up paying back the Orient Express for snubbing them the previous year instead; you’re welcome, Kato.
Scott & Justin’s Pick: Bam Bam Bigelow vs. The Big Bossman
Chad’s Pick: The Steiner Brothers vs. The Beverly Brothers
Ben’s Pick: The Steiner Brothers vs. The Beverly Brothers
Chad’s Take: There is nothing really exciting with any of these picks. I picked the tag match simply because I think it is a better match overall than the middling, disappointing Bossman vs. Bigelow affair. It is also good to get the Steiners as a unit on the card.
Ben’s Take: No brainer as I’m a huge Steiner Brothers fan and thought even though their WWF run never reached the heights it maybe should have, they had a hot debut against two other guys who could work in the Beverlys. I love both this match and Steiners/Headshrinkers from WrestleMania IX, as I can’t get enough of Rick and Scott tossing off suplexes against medium to huge guys like they were cruiserweights.
Scott & Justin’s Pick: WWF Tag Team Champions The Quebecers vs. The Hart Brothers
Chad’s Pick: Tatanka vs. Bam Bam Bigelow
Ben’s Pick: WWF Tag Team Champions The Quebecers vs. The Hart Brothers
Chad’s Take: I picked Tatanka vs. Bam Bam to be different but I can’t fault the Quebecers vs. Hart Brothers match. I may not think it is a very good match bell to bell but much like Piper vs. Mountie, it is a memorable moment that ignites a feud. Tatanka vs. Bigelow is a shockingly decent little opener with both competitors looking motivated.
Ben’s Take: This took the WWF Tag Team titles as well as Bret Hart out of play, but I think it’s well worth it. An underrated match, as the Quebecers hit the height of their powers in early 1994, plus the beginning of what I’d call the feud of the year, so you get both great in-ring action plus a tremendous story with Owen’s turn (and I’m assuming we get the classic post-match interview as well). I definitely made a doubt to keep an eye out for what WWF Tag title/Bret match Chad wanted to preserve down the line that he’d use Tatanka/Bigelow here…
Scott & Justin’s Pick: The Undertaker vs. IRS
Chad’s Pick: The Undertaker vs. IRS
Ben’s Pick: The Undertaker vs. IRS
Chad’s Take: There is almost nothing to say about this pick. Choices were limited and this was not a good match at all. The only redeeming factor is that it gets The Undertaker on the show.
Ben’s Take: As my colleagues felt as well, it’s really the only option here. You’ve got decent Intercontinental, Tag Team and WWF title matches on this show, but none good enough to burn the use of those belts. I briefly considered if I’d want to save Undertaker for the 1998 Casket match against Shawn, but obviously there’s a better use of the WWF title not long after that.
Scott & Justin’s Pick: Ahmed Johnson vs. Jeff Jarrett
Chad’s Pick: Ahmed Johnson vs. Jeff Jarrett
Ben’s Pick: Ahmed Johnson vs. Jeff Jarrett
Chad’s Take: Man, even worse than last year and no huge superstar to save it. I hate the lack of depth in mid-1990’s WWF wrestling.
Ben’s Take: Again, a case of no other choices, as these become both easier and harder once you go; easier in years where there’s not much anyway so you take whatever doesn’t way a wrestler or title you want to save, harder because you realize you’re putting filler on the card, but what can you do.
Scott & Justin’s Pick: Hector Garza, Perro Aguayo & El Canek vs. Jerry Estrada, Heavy Metal & Fuerza Guerrera
Chad’s Pick: HHH vs. Goldust
Ben’s Pick: Hector Garza, Perro Aguayo & El Canek vs. Jerry Estrada, Heavy Metal & Fuerza Guerrera
Chad’s Take: The lucha match is a default pick for this card since we certainly won’t be selecting them any in the future. The match was fun but felt like a WCW cruiserweight light match.I decided on HHH vs. Goldust to again get more starpower on my card and because the match was a fairly heated affair.
Ben’s Take: Interesting pick from Chad, as he took HHH off the table in an unexpected place, but I sided with Scott and Justin here on the AAA six man. I don’t see this as a bad way to fill a slot, though, as this match certainly doesn’t even reside in the same galaxy as the Jumping Bomb Angels/Glamour Girls one when it comes to quality, but it does fulfill one of my goals to present a variety of styles and types of pro wrestling anytime I put together something pulling in so much material.
Scott & Justin’s Pick: Max Mini, Mosiac, Nova vs. Battalion, Torito, Tarantula
Chad’s Pick: Max Mini, Mosiac, Nova vs. Battalion, Torito, Tarantula
Ben’s Pick: Vader vs. Goldust
Chad’s Take: This year I took the easy way out and Ben went out on a limb. The mini’s match much like their counterparts in 1997 was fun but ultimately inconsequential. Vader vs. Goldust features the sick spot to Goldust/Luna from Vader and was strictly in the middle of Goldust’s most weird period.
Ben’s Take: I almost just copied and pasted my explanation from 1997, but then realized I had no other place for either of these guys and I liked this match a good deal, so why not. It’s a bit like Rude/Steamboat, in the sense that it gets two guys on the card that may not be essential, but they’re names, however unlike a decade earlier there’s nothing better that I feel bad shutting out.
Scott & Justin’s Pick: European Champion X-Pac vs. Gangrel
Chad’s Pick: European Champion X-Pac vs. Gangrel
Ben’s Pick: European Champion X-Pac vs. Gangrel
Chad’s Take: This is a really fun undercard match to fill our card out with and we get a secondary title on the show. X-Pac has consistently been one of the most underrated workers from the 1990’s and 2000’s in stuff I have rewatched recently.
Ben’s Take: A decent match on the worst Royal Rumble in history; you take what you can get.