Release Date: September 9, 2008
MATCH #1: Curt Hennig vs. Eddie Gilbert, Madison Square Garden, 11.22.82
The DVD insert says this match was on November 21, 1982, but Grahm Cawthon’s site says it was the next day, and I’ve seen more mistakes on WWE DVD’s than his website, so we’ll go with Mr. Cawthon. This is Gilbert’s MSG debut. Gorilla Monsoon and Vince McMahon are on commentary here, and Gorilla thinks this is going to be a “crackerjack” matchup, which is an expression I’m not familiar with.
They exchange holds and basic stuff in the early going. Gilbert briefly works on the leg and then switches it up and goes for the arm. Vince and Gorilla spend a lot of time talking about the Jimmy Snuka versus Lou Albano match that’s coming up later in this card. Hennig eventually takes over and now he uses the armbar. He tries a side headlock but Gilbert continually blocks it and slugs Hennig in the face. Hennig shoulderblocks Gilbert down and now they’re into a shoving match and the crowd is waking up. They leapfrog each other and then collide in mid-ring. They get back up and Hennig cinches in a headlock. Gilbert tries to escape but Hennig hangs on. Gilbert gets back to his feet and runs Hennig into the turnbuckle chest first and hits some forearms. He delivers a hip toss out of the corner and a headscissors. He tries another one but Hennig ducks and Gilbert goes tumbling to the floor. Hennig suplexes him back in the ring but Gilbert is able to cradle Hennig’s legs for a two-count. Gilbert hits a sunset flip for two. Hennig comes back with a body slam and an elbow drop, but before the count can be made the time limit expires at a supposed 15:00. That’s the kind of match you just don’t see much of anymore, where two unknown guys go out and get 15 minutes to show their stuff. It’s just a different business these days.
MATCH #2: Curt Hennig & Scott Hall vs. Steve Regal & Jimmy Garvin, AWA Championship Wrestling, 11.26.85
Gary Michael Cappetta is the ring announcer here, and he proclaims this as a main event in any arena in the country. Scott Hall’s moustache here is truly amazing. Garvin & Regal are the AWA Tag Team Champions, but this is a non-title match. Regal and Hennig start the match, and Regal stalls. Precious is pretty gross, even by ‘80s standards. Hennig hits a couple of moves and Regal takes a powder. Back in the ring Hall and Hennig continue to work on Regal and Garvin, who get no offense in. That of course eventually changes, and the champions work on Hennig. He even gets a little blood from his forehead. He finally makes the hot tag to Hall, and it breaks down into a big brawl. Precious tries to use the spray can but it backfires and Regal takes it. Hall follows it with a bulldog to get the pin at 10:46. It’s amazing to watch Hall here and see what kind of worker he eventually turned into. Hennig was of course awesome. The match was a perfect match to get the young guys over and set them up for a title shot.
MATCH #3: 60-Minute Time Limit AWA World Heavyweight Championship Match – Curt Hennig vs. Nick Bockwinkel, AWA Championship Wrestling, 11.15.86
The crafty champion controls the plucky challenger in the early going. He utilizes the headlock to ground the younger, faster challenger. He keeps the hold on for several minutes before Hennig is able to escape and quicken the pace of the match. He hits several armdrags and locks Bockwinkel in an armbar. He hangs on to the armbar as tenaciously as Bockwinkel used the headlock. They continue to trade holds and maneuvers back and forth, and time is going by surprisingly quickly for how much mat wrestling they’re doing. They’re just clicking. Bockwinkel goes after Hennig’s leg, bending it backwards and at awkward angles. Hennig escapes and tries dropping a knee on the champion’s arm, but that further injures himself. Thirty minutes have gone by and it feels like no time. Hennig fights out but Bockwinkel is able to lock on a sleeper. Hennig powers up and both competitors and the referee take a spill to the floor, and they take the referee with them. The challenger is invigorated now and he viciously attacks the champion’s arm. He goes for a back body drop and Bockwinkel kicks him in the face. Hennig comes back with a flying body press for two. They roll towards the corner and Bockwinkel slams Hennig’s head into the ringside steps. Hennig comes back and slams Bockwinkel’s leg into the post. Back in the ring he zeroes in on it. Even the referee is limping in this one. They trade control a few more times, until Bockwinkel hits a piledriver. Hennig is saved only by being close to the ropes, and the match will continue!
Bockwinkel puts on another leg submission, and uses the ropes for additional leverage. Neither man maintains control for very long. Hennig hits a piledriver of his own for a two-count. They trade near falls off pinning combinations as we’re getting to the 50-minute mark. Hennig tries a step-over toehold but Bockwinkel kicks him off and he runs into the ring post before crashing to the arena floor. He’s busted open now. Back in the ring Bockwinkel goes to work on the challenger’s cut forehead. Hennig fires back and hits two Axe Bombers in honor of his father. Bockwinkel is busted open now too. Hennig kicks at the champion’s head as we’re down to five minutes left. He hits another Axe but Hennig can’t roll him over to try a pin. He hits a suplex and only gets two. He puts on the figure-four Leglock, which the commentator calls the Indian Deathlock. We enter the final minute as Bockwinkel is trying to escape the hold. The crowd wants the champion to give it up, but he hangs on and we have a 60:00 draw. That has to be one of the greatest matches in the history of the AWA, and it may actually be Hennig’s best match ever. The only thing that keeps it from giving five stars is that they seemed to telegraph going sixty by how they wrestled for the first 10 or 15 minutes, but these two just hit a groove early on and everything just worked for them.
MATCH #4: Curt Hennig vs. Terry Taylor, Wrestlefest, 7.31.88
Michael Cole and Mick Foley are handling the commentary here. I don’t recall who did it originally. Hennig is not quite perfect, and Taylor is not quite a Rooster. Foley tells a story I’ve never heard before; that both of these men were considered for the “Mr. Perfect” character, but Hennig won that lottery. They chain wrestle for a bit, with Taylor taking the first advantage. Hennig takes a powder and when he comes back in the ring Taylor is able to ground him with a side headlock. Cole and Foley tell stories rather than talk about the match. Hennig finally goes on offense and gets aggressive. He locks on a sleeper but Taylor hits a jawbreaker to break it. Taylor gets a cross body block off the second rope for two and then kicks Hennig around in the corner. Taylor whips Hennig into the corner and he pops out with a big forearm and that’s enough to pin Taylor at 4:38. It’s hard to concentrate on matches when the commentators ignore it, but these two had a fine match for the time given.
MATCH #5: Mr. Perfect vs. Bret “Hit Man” Hart, Madison Square Garden, 4.24.89
I’m sure these two wrestled about a million times, give or take. They start the chain wrestling and Bret gets the first takedown. Bret gets another shoulderblock and then avoids a drop toehold attempt. Bret continues to outwrestle Perfect, frustrating the Minnesota native (like me!). Perfect eventually takes a powder, and takes his sweet time getting back in the ring. Apparently he was able to regroup out there because he takes control on the “Hit Man.” He knocks Bret to the floor, and when he gets back up to the apron Perfect knocks him back into the guardrail. Back in the ring Perfect forearms Bret and tosses him outside again. They get back in the ring and Hennig tries a spinning toehold and Bret kicks him off, and Perfect’s shoulder hits the ring post. Bret sees an opening now and goes after it. He tries a crucifix but Perfect falls backward. Moments later Bret retakes control and starts unleashing his five moves of doom, but before he can score a pin the time runs out at 19:00 (probably was supposed to be 20). Bret asks for five for minutes and Perfect refuses, and he attacks Bret from behind instead. That doesn’t last long, as Bret takes control and throws Hennig around. This was very good as expected, and of course they would go on to do even better.
MATCH #6: WWE Championship Match – Mr. Perfect vs. Hulk Hogan, Madison Square Garden, 1.15.90
Gorilla Monsoon and Hillbilly Jim are on commentary here. The Genius introduces Perfect, and I’m thinking that this might have been his first shot at the title. Hogan uses his power to throw Perfect around in the early going. Perfect tries to powder but Hogan chases him out and beats up both the Genius and Perfect. Genius comes in the ring and blatantly interferes in front of the referee but no disqualification is called. Hogan continues to manhandle both his opponent and his opponent’s manager, in and outside the ring. Hogan tries a back body drop and Perfect is ready for it, kicking the champion in the face. Perfect slugs Hogan down and throws him to the floor. Hogan tries to come back but Perfect maintains control, and uses the sleeper to ground the champion. Hogan fights back and crotches Hennig backwards on the top turnbuckle and then slams him nuts first a couple of times. He pulls the challenger off the ropes with an atomic drop, and then kicks Hennig’s legs out from under him a few times. Perfect is able to avoid an elbow drop though, and he tries the Perfect-Plex. Hogan kicks out and starts to Hulk Up. He boots Perfect to the floor, but then gets pulled out to ringside. He avoids getting hit with a chair, but when he tries to get back in the ring Perfect nails him with a foreign object, likely brass knuckles. Hogan makes it back to the ring and stops selling, then hits Perfect with the knuckles and the referee disqualifies him at 13:37. Hogan drops the leg after the fact and looks shocked that he got disqualified for hitting his opponent with a foreign object in plain sight of the referee. The match was a lot of fun, thanks to Perfect’s selling and general awesomeness. The finish seemed unnecessarily goofy, but these two always had good chemistry.
MATCH #7: WWE Intercontinental Championship Match with Special Referee “Rowdy” Roddy Piper – Mr. Perfect vs. The Texas Tornado, Madison Square Garden, 11.24.90
Sean Mooney, Jimmy Hart, and Honky Tonk Man are on commentary. Tornado controls the early going, as Perfect has trouble dealing with Piper as the referee. The champion hits his punches and works on the arm. Tornado misses a charge in the corner and hits his shoulder on the ring post. A turnbuckle pad falls off and Perfect winds up taking an Irish whip onto the exposed steel, which gets a two-count for the champion. Tornado then has trouble executing a Boston Crab, and Perfect escapes by reaching the ropes. He throws Perfect to the corner, but eats a pair of boots when he charges. Perfect takes control, working over Tornado. He puts on a sleeper hold and Tornado escapes, but Perfect blocks his punch attempt and hits one of his own. Tornado makes a brief comeback and then they collide mid-ring and both go down. They get up and Tornado puts on the Claw. Perfect gets his foot on the ropes and then fights back with a kneelift and some strikes. He tries a bodyslam but can’t execute it. Tornado goes back to the claw and Perfect punches his way out of it. Perfect hits a few moves and then lands a slingshot back suplex and apparently pins Tornado to regain the title at 11:39. However, Piper declares that Tornado actually won the match. It looks Tornado was supposed to get his shoulder up at two but he just didn’t. You almost have to wonder how messed up he was, sadly. Perfect is unhappy with the decision, so he beats up Piper and Tornado with the belt. The match was nothing special and Tornado botched the finish. There had to be better Perfect matches for this DVD.
MATCH #8: WWE Intercontinental Championship Match – Bret “Hit Man” Hart vs. Mr. Perfect, SummerSlam, 8.26.91
I believe this is Bret’s first singles match on pay-per-view. Bret’s parents Stu and Helen are in the audience tonight. Perfect is accompanied by Coach, the third manager of his WWE career. Bret gets an early takedown and he looks confident. He gets a crucifix for two and then goes to the side headlock. Perfect tries to use the hair to escape, so Bret gives it right back to him. He gets a cross body block for two, and Perfect’s kick-out sends Bret to the floor. He gets right back in with a sunset flip for two and goes right back to the side headlock. Perfect escapes but Bret has a counter for everything he tries. He takes a powder and heads to the back but Bret goes out and grabs him, ripping his gear in the process. Perfect takes a cheap shot and finally goes on offense. He knocks Bret off the apron and he takes out a camera man on his way down. Back in the ring the champion stays in control. Perfect tries a sleeper and Bret fights out and tries a crucifix, but Perfect slams him down for two. He then hits the Perfect-Plex and Bret kicks out, and he’s the second person to do that after Hulk Hogan, but Heenan, Piper, and Monsoon try to sell it on commentary like he was the first. Bret unloads with a flurry of offense and several near falls but can’t put the champ away. He gets frustrated with the referee after one particularly close near fall, which gives Perfect the chance to score an O’Connor roll for two. They go to the floor and Bret whips Perfect off the ring post. Back in the ring Bret goes for the Sharpshooter and Coach gets up on the apron, and the distraction allows Perfect to kick Bret in the groin. He then drops a leg on the groin region. He tries a second one, but Bret grabs his leg and rolls him into the Sharpshooter and Perfect immediately submits, so Bret wins his first singles title at 18:02. That match really holds up over time and was a passing of the torch kind of match. Bret would then go on to be even more successful in WWE than Mr. Perfect was.
MATCH #9: WWE Intercontinental Championship Match – Mr. Perfect vs. Shawn Michaels, SummerSlam, 8.30.93
This is a bit of an infamous match. McMahon tries to sell this as some kind of “mentor versus student” match, but there’s really nothing to base that conclusion on. Shawn gets the first takedown and gloats about it. Perfect responds with one of his own. Shawn puts on a headlock and uses the hair to maintain the advantage. They have a nice wrestling sequence that ends with Perfect awkwardly clotheslining Shawn and then going to work on the arm. Shawn escapes and tries an elbow drop and Perfect moves out of the way and they’re both back to their feet. They trade more maneuvers and counter each other, and once again ends with Perfect hitting a clothesline and going back to the arm. Shawn gets out of it and tries going to the top rope but Perfect armdrags him down and goes back to the armbar. Shawn escapes and tries a dropkick, but Perfect catches him and catapults him over the top rope and to the floor. Diesel distracts Perfect and Shawn hits a Superkick. Shawn hits an ax handle off the apron and rolls Perfect into the ring and works on the back. Mr. Perfect fights back and nails Shawn in the face with a nice dropkick. He hits a back body drop, a knee lift, and an inverted atomic drop for a near-fall. Moments later he hits the Perfect-Plex but Diesel pulls him out to the floor to break up the count. Perfect slugs away on Diesel and nails Shawn coming off the apron. He throws Shawn back in the ring right on top of the referee, distracting him long enough for Diesel to throw Perfect into the ring post and he gets counted out at 11:18. The finish seems unnecessarily screwy, but this match isn’t nearly as bad as it’s made out to be. Sure, with the caliber of these two guys I can see why expectations were high, and it certainly didn’t meet them but it’s not bad at all. Shawn and Diesel lay Perfect out after the match, and then gloat about it to Todd Pettengill on their way to the back. Perfect wakes up and gives chase.
MATCH #10: Curt Hennig vs. Bret “Hit Man” Hart, Uncensored, 3.15.98
Hennig stalls to start and goes outside the ring to converse with Rick Rude. Bret gets distracted by something shiny (I assume), but nothing happens and they lock up. Nothing comes of it, and Bret soon goes to the headlock and Hennig tries escaping by grabbing the hair. Bret continues to dominate so Hennig takes another powder. Schiavone talks about Bret’s victory over Hennig at SummerSlam ‘91 and they manage to not take a shot at WWE. Bret tries the Sharpshooter but Rude is able to break it up without the referee noticing. Hennig now goes after the knee and Rude interferes every chance he gets. Hennig puts on the Figure-Four Leglock and Rude helps him get additional leverage. The referee breaks it up when he discovers their malfeasance. Hennig maintains control though and now uses a step over toehold. Hennig picks Bret up and slams him down, and then goes to the top rope. Bret knocks him down and kicks away at the leg. He hits some of his signature maneuvers but can’t hold Hennig down. Hennig makes the comeback and hits a Hennig-Plex and Bret kicks out. Heenan once again tries to say no one has ever kicked out of it, even though he was on commentary the last time Bret did it. A real sloppy sequence leads to Bret getting the Sharpshooter, and Hennig taps out at 13:52. Rude comes in and attacks Bret while Hennig gets a chair. Well, 1991 this was not. This was a shockingly boring match (well, I guess not that shocking given where it took place), but looked at right next to their SummerSlam ‘91 match it barely seems like the same two guys.