On the surface, this may be an utterly random show to pluck out and rewatch… but there’s a reason for it.
Taped on April 29, 1992, this episode of Superstars was the very first wrestling I watched, with my parents having gotten Sky Television around the same time period. Just from rewatching the opening credits, the quick cuts, the bright colours and the… bombastic Vince McMahon, who’s the butt of Mr. Perfect’s jokes for this Mother’s Day episode.
JUST LOOK AT THAT GREEN SCREEN.
Our featured match tonight is Ric Flair vs. Sgt. Slaughter… but we’ve also got the debut of Crush’s magnificent mullet… the return of Kamala, plus the Legion of Doom. All stars!
WWF Intercontinental Championship: von Krus vs. Bret Hart (c)
von Krus would go on to later fame, albeit in a dress, as Vito. Here, he’s pretending to be German…
The bell rings, and the first thing Bret does is hop outside and give his sunglasses to a fan. I remember that being a friend’s life goal for a while. When Bret returned to the ring, von Krus jumped Bret, but as we cut to an inset promo from Shawn Michaels, Bret’s right in with his five moves of doom. Bodyslam, suplex, legdrop, a side Russian legsweep and finally a Sharpshooter as the future Vito was tapping like a mad man. Short and sweet – just as squashy as I remember it.
Yeah, for my first ever match it wasn’t a mat classic, but it was fun as hell to watch back.
They plug the WWF Magazine in a Control Room segment with Mean Gene. I don’t recall this was broadcast as is in the UK, probably because it plugged the magazine and merch… and probably because it also recapped a match between the British Bulldog and the Repo Man from the prior week, which ended with the Repo Man hanging the Bulldog with his tow rope. So much for PG, eh? But hey, despite being hung, we get a backstage promo from the Bulldog who vows he won’t be kept down…
Kamala vs. Sonny Blaze
Here’s a gimmick that wouldn’t fly today. An African savage rescued from the jungles and brought to the world of wrestling courtesy of “Doctor” Harvey Wippleman and a handler Kimchee.
Kamala goes into his opponent with forearms before he threw Blaze into the mat… we’ve a chop (see, back in 1992 it was a thing!), before a cross chop to the throat puts Blaze down. Kamala rolls him over for a splash to the back, but he has to be coaxed into rolling him over for the pin – because the savage doesn’t know how to pin an opponent, see? Squash!
We get a replay of the finish, so as to hammer it home to us, and then it’s off to the next match.
Bob Bradley vs. El Matador
Are you noticing a theme? No-name versus star name, whose gear is invariably colourful!
We start with a lock-up as Bradley actually offered some resistance in the ropes. Commentary talks about the “former inmate” who’s coming to go after the Big Bossman; Mr. Perfect reads a letter from “The Convict”. It’s pretty effective build for a guy coming in without vignettes. El Matador grabs a headlock but gets sent into the ropes, replying with a clothesline and a pair of dropkicks. Another headlock takedown takes Bradley down for a two-count, and despite offering some more resistance, Bradley’s met with a knee to the gut before El Paso del Muerte – the flying forearm to the head/back – gets Tito Santana the win. The most competitive squash yet, but this match still only went 90 seconds!
Next up is Sean Mooney in the Event Center! He effortlessly pitches from Santana to a pre-taped interview with The Mountie. He’s the only law and order in the WWF, especially one with a shock stick, which he points at the camera before we cut back to a bad pun. Next is a promo for the soon-to-be-debuting High Energy… Owen’s calm, especially compared to the hyped up Koko B. Ware. Owen’s calling out the Nasty Boys, while Koko’s so bouncy he scares Frankie off of his shoulders!
An LOD Mother’s Day Promo segues into…
Mark Kay & Terry Davis vs. Legion Of Doom (Animal & Hawk)
The pattern continues! The entrance way in Syracuse is pretty non-descript, and would be laughed away for even a house show today.
Hawk throws one jobber out through the ropes while Animal dropkicks the singlet-wearer. Yeah, they didn’t show any name-plates for these guys… green and yellow-tight wearing jobber’s taken down by Hawk, who press slams him to the mat, and Animal’s back in for an elbow drop as we cut to an inset promo from the Beverly Brothers.
I get New Japan flashbacks to Lanny Poffo as he calls the LOD “sissies”, and we’re back in time to see a Doomsday Device to the un-named tight wearer. We’re four for four with squashes!
They plug WWF Magazine again, with a personality of profile of the Legion of Doom being highlighted… then it’s back to Sean Mooney, who pitches to Jimmy Hart talking for Money Inc. Look, they don’t have a customised background, which is very much akin to the modern day entrance video’s that “just your name because we didn’t have time”. IRS calls the LOD tax cheats. To him, everyone was a tax cheat.
Next is an Undertaker promo ahead of his match with the Berzerker… cue screechy Paul Bearer as he laid up the pitch for the Undertaker’s catchphrases. Just look at this – can you imagine kids not being taken in?
Crush vs. Kato
Kato gets an entrance… he’s masked, but not really from Japan, as he’s cannon fodder for the debuting Crush (and his mullet). According to Vince McMahon, he’s had a crushing fetish for all of his life.
As for the match… shoulder tackle, smile, and then Kato gets in some offence with eye rakes! A front facelock is pushed away by Crush as Mr. Perfect plugged Family Feud. Kato knees and chops Crush, but it’s laughed off as Crush sends him into the ropes for a delayed backbreaker. One press slam later, with several reps in the meantime, and Crush follows up with a tiltawhirl backbreaker and a spinebuster for the win. A basic moveset, but Vince’s bombastic over-selling of everything underlined the debut. The crowd… just looked tired though.
Post-match, Crush picks up Kato and raises his hand. Kato falls to the mat once Crush lets go, which gets a laugh out of me.
Papa Shango’s backstage setting photos of the Ultimate Warrior on fire. With this and the Undertaker, how did wrestling not scare me away?!
It’s now promo time as Mean Gene is on the stage, welcoming the Model. Commentary talks all over this, as they show footage of The Model spraying Arrogance in the face of Tatanka. Of course, Rick Martel denies it as he bragged about stealing some of Tatanka’s feathers. How 80s does this look for *checks notes* 1992?! Martel reckons Tatanka should be renamed “Whining Arrow”, the segment ends.
Sgt Slaughter wishes a happy mother’s day… and that’s an order. How strange.
Ric Flair vs. Sgt. Slaughter
Knowing what I know now, Ric Flair’s WWF theme was awful. Unlike his robe, which was so sparkly it sets all the cameras off. Mr. Perfect’s left commentary to second Flair, so it’s just Vince on his own here as he questions: will we see a scientific match-up or a rough-house brawl.
Does Slaughter have anything scientific about his style?! The bell sounds as Slaughter mocks the Ric Flair pose… and all of a sudden, the Mountie randomly appears at ringside. Flair hits the ropes and knocks down Slaughter with a shoulder tackle before he ran into a bodyslam, forcing Ric to powder into the corner.
Slaughter kicks the turnbuckle to try and scare away Mr. Perfect as the cameraman catches Jimmy Hart bringing a case down to the ring. Nevertheless, Slaughter press slams Flair as they’re cutting way too much here. From the Mountie to the match to Mr. Perfect and back… oh, and now Slaughter spills to the outside as he’s whipped into the turnbuckles. The Mountie opens his case as Slaughter’s on the floor, and we slowly see him reveal something as the inspiration for this site comes in as Vince cries “back body drop” as Flair flew out of the corner! A clothesline dumps Flair to the outside, with Slaughter following him, throwing Flair into the stairs as the Mountie again fiddles with his new toy.
Slaughter suplexes Flair back into the ring, then teases a Cobra clutch as we hear an electrical buzz. Another Irish whip sends Flair sailing into the corner to the outside. He’s back in as we hear more fake buzzing, this time with Flair blocking Slaughter’s charge into the corner with his feet, before an attempt to go up top ends with Flair being press slammed to the mat for a two-count. Flair hits an uppercut to stun Slaughter, who blocks a slingshot… so Flair rolls him over into a single leg crab. I doubt that was an intentional block somehow. Slaughter’s sent into the ropes, but he comes back with a clothesline for a two-count, as Flair whips Slaughter into the corner… for some reason, Slaughter ends up across the turnbuckles from that bump.
Ah. There you go. The Mountie shocks him repeatedly as Mr. Perfect has the referee distracted. How’d the ref not hear the electricity? It’s enough for Flair to get the win, which disgusts Vince on commentary, as Jimmy Hart comes down to collect the shock stick and run to the back. The bad guys celebrate, and save for the angle, I feel like I’ve watched a relative classic compared to the squashes on show. Cue dubbed in boos. By 2019 standards, this was very “ehh”. **
The Mountie calls Sgt Slaughter “US scum” as he’s stretchered away by men in white coats. The Mountie sings his ring song as we cut to a break…
Bill Pierce & Brian Brieger vs. Nasty Boys (Brian Knobbs & Jerry Sags)
Vince tells us “after break” that Slaughter’s regained consciousness… and somehow in that time, Jimmy Hart’s changed into a new jacket and suit combo.
This time our tag team jobbers get names, and we start with Knobbs dropping Krieger with a back suplex. Mr Perfect rejoins commentary, all full of joy as the Nasty Boys drop elbows. A kick from Knobbs sets him up for a pumphandle slam. Christ, that’s the most “advanced” move all show, ruined by Knobbs not working the hard cam… Sags comes in with a right hand before he threw Krieger out for a tag to Pierce… and we continue the pattern. Pierce is splashed in the corner before Vince’s plug for the WBF ends with a slam from Saggs and a falling elbow off the top from Knobbs for the win.
There’s another plug for WWF Magazine and its piece on Hulk Hogan, before Sean Mooney repeats what Vince just said. A promo from the Bushwhackers follows, as they’re happy about spring and meeting their fans. The Berzerker husses his way through Mr. Fuji’s next promo, before the show ends with a replay of Sgt. Slaughter getting shocked as Vince tells us he’s back on his feet. Oh, we have one more thing: a plug for the Ultimate Warrior vs. “Knobbs or Sags”, and they’re both happy with it it seems, as we get two more hyped up backstage promos to close us out.
Well, that was a show. Watching with 2019 eyes, this packed WAY too much into the 45 minute slot. Still, comparing this to the modern era shows one thing is missing today: CHARACTERS. Look at all the colours. The wacky characters. The over-the-top mannerisms. The fact that you could tell stars and their deadly finishing moves apart.
Hell, the fact that you’re pretty much caught up each week by watching one 45 minute-long show, and not the eight hours of fresh programming every week these days.
I miss the olden days.