March 23, 2005
IC Title disc worth a peek
By JON WALDMAN -- SLAM! Wrestling
WWE has re-released a compilation featuring everyone's second-favourite WWF title belt, the Intercontinental Championship.
Very simply titled Best of Intercontinental Championship, the title of this compilation is somewhat misleading; after all, no wrestling fan would put matches that involve Skinner or Crush on their "best of" lists, especially when there were several other high quality matches going on circa 1993, when all five of these matches took place. The disc thankfully includes full matches and is mainly a look at Shawn Michaels, with one Bret Hart match thrown in:
Shawn Michaels vs. Crush -- 4/11/1993 (Sheffield, England) This match appears to have been from WWF programming at one point or another. I can see why the bout would have been included on the original compilation, since Crush was at his peak of popularity back in 1993, but now it just looks bad. HBK is established in a Honky Tonk-esque light, running away from Crush and drawing the countout.
1.5 out of 10 -- The point gets across, but a conclusive match would have been better for this special release.
Bret Hart vs. Skinner - 8/24/1992 (Prime Time Wrestling) Let's get something set off the top here -- Steve Keirn was a decent wrestler. He was a big name down in Florida, a Fabulous One and is a respected name in the industry. As Skinner, however, he wasn't all that good, which makes this selection odd. Bret, of course, wins the match with the Sharpshooter, but the real highlight of this match is Bobby Heenan's commentary, which includes a soliloquy on how an alligator claw is not a foreign object, and can be used legally in a match.
2.5 out of 10 -- Most of these points go to Heenan, naturally
Shawn Michaels vs. Marty Jannetty -- 7/19/1993 (Raw) Yes folks, this is the one that was a MOTY winner according to several wrestling pundits back in the day. While I haven't seen every match from '93, I can safely say that it's deserving of that title, as Michaels and Jannetty work a match to perfection. Pre- "Big Daddy Cool" Diesel (Kevin Nash), who does the right thing and does not get involved in 95% of the match, accompanies Michaels to the ring. The former tag team puts on a wicked show with high-flying, technically-sound goodness and an interesting Dusty-esque swerve. The end, however, was an interesting finish, as Jannetty goes over the top rope on a missed cross-body, allowing Diesel to send him into the ring so HBK can get the duke.
Shawn Michaels vs. "Mr. Perfect" Curt Hennig -- 8/40/1993 (Summerslam) Oh you know the expectations for this match. This, of course, was the infamous "Lex Express" Summerslam, which needed solid workers like Michaels and Hennig to work a good bout. Indeed, these two did have a solid match, which not surprisingly ends with some Diesel-fuelled shenanigans. What is in the bout, however, is a solid output by two of the best workers of the early '90s.
6 out of 10 -- The screwy finishes have to stop, but there was enough here to make it a decent watch.
Shawn Michaels vs. "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan (Raw) This was from an early broadcast of Raw from the Hammerstein Ballroom, AKA ECW's home away from home. The intimate setting for the match is really cool, but the match itself is a throwaway. Duggan is way past his prime here and does so much pre-match stalling that it's just rendered unwatchable.
1 out of 10 -- Sorry to all the Duggan fans, but he doesn't win.
While the Hennig and Jannetty matches are really, really good, there are some stinkers here. I might be off by a storyline or two, but it seems to me that Hart and Michaels had a mini-feud in and around this time. A match between those two would have been killer. Instead, we get a compilation that bats .400, putting it on the rental shelf instead of in the permanent collection.
Jon Waldman has been with SLAM! since 2000. He is still waiting for his "Best of Special Delivery Jones" compilation.