WWE Vintage Collection Report (03/20/11)

WWE Vintage Collection Report: March 20th 2011
By Shaun Best-Rajah.com Reporter
Hosted by: Mean Gene Okerlund

Welcome aboard to the second part of the Hall of Fame retrospective.

A video package on the “manager of champions,” Captain Lou Albano starts us off. Albano spent 30 years managing 19 acts to every major title and was an integral part of the Rock ‘n’ Wrestling era along with Cyndi Lauper and Ozzy Osbourne. Gerald Brisco remarked no-one lived their character out of the ring more than Albano, while JR brings up Albano sporting safety pins in his face and piercings when piercings weren’t cool.

We cut to Albano’s acceptance speech from November 16th 1996, held at the Marriott Marquis hotel in New York City. The setting was less grandiose than it is now. Either side of Albano were two tables – one containing Vince, Shane McMahon and Vince’s mother Juanita, the other, Albano’s fellow inductees which included Jimmy Snuka.

Albano tells Vince he’s turned an iceball into a glacier in going worldwide with his company, but warns he has tough shoes to fill, from his late father Vince senior.

Albano mistakenly refers to the WWF by its old name – the World Wide Wrestling Federation before joking his wife is whacked out and under psychiatric care for being with him 44 years. Albano likens Vince McMahon senior to a brother, thanking him for hiring him in 1952 and for firing him 12/13 times for participating in alcoholic beverages. Each time Albano begged to be taken back and was told to stop drinking, so he stopped drinking scotch, but drunk a gallon of vodka a day and Vince couldn’t smell it. He then gave that up and occasionally had a few wines. Albano reveals he cut down smoking then warns the crowd about the dangers of drinking. Albano declares the Hall of Fame better than an Emmy or Academy Award and feels good for being with the WWF for 44 years. Vince junior grimaces as Albano excitedly kisses him on the head as he energetically wraps up his speech. Vince was wearing a good poker face throughout and didn’t seem too thrilled with the Captain for some reason. He cut a very entertaining speech. Very old-school. Albano sadly passed away in October 2009, aged 76.

Next up we recap the Rock inducting his father Rocky Johnson and grandfather High Chief Peter Maivia on March 29th 2008.

Rock comes out and jokingly tells John Cena his Marine DVD is used as illegal torture over in Iraq, then makes fun of Santino’s Mohawk/rat tail hairstyle. Rock gets serious as he talks about his father crossing the lines of racial disparity and puts over his athleticism and dropkicks. Rock breaks kayfabe as he reveals his father told him to sell pain like no-one else, then make an explosive comeback like no other.

A video package on Rocky Johnson shows off his charisma and athleticism. Together with Tony Atlas, the two became the first African/American Tag Team champions on November 15th 1983. The High Chief was reluctant at first in welcoming Johnson into the family.

The crowd chant “thank you Rocky,” as Johnson reads his acceptance speech from a sheet of paper. As he puts over the Samoan heritage, Umaga (RIP) is frequently shown in the crowd sitting next to Rey Mysterio. Johnson says Rock has made him proud for continuing the family wrestling legacy. He resisted letting him in, but agreed to train him on the condition he wouldn’t go easy on him and he didn’t. Johnson tells a story of Rock looking for sympathy one day in the rain, when they were a mile and a half from home. Johnson told him to go to his Mum for sympathy, so Rock took his bag and left. The two embrace to end the segment.

Rock delivers a short speech on his grandfather, High Chief Peter Maivia, basically saying he was tough and entertaining in the ring, but loving on the outside.

“He was known as one of the toughest men in this business ever but what set him apart…he was the kindest.”

Rock singles out the matches the Chief had with Pat Patterson and compares the similar symbolic tattoos he shares with his grandfather. During a video package, Patterson says he was afraid of not leaving the ring alive every time he faced off with the Chief. Afa calls him the Samoan Muhammad Ali. The Chief passed away in 1982, aged 55.

The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase is our final feature this week. DiBiase was inducted last year on March 27th.

From creating his own Million Dollar title, to paying off fans to do demeaning tasks, DiBiase was synonymous for stuffing dollar bills into the mouths of his defeated opponents. In pre-recorded comments, Jack Swagger brings up DiBiase purchasing the services of Hercules from Bobby Heenan, while Cody Rhodes recalls DiBiase buying his father’s manager Sapphire behind his back, conceding it was “a harsh lesson for the Rhodes family.” John Cena reveals that the attempted purchase of the WWF title and double referee scandal (Earl and Dave Hebner) got him “quite angry as a kid.”

DiBiase says his story is too good to be true. By 1987, he had put 12 years of hard work in to try and follow in his father’s footsteps. DiBiase wore out two/three cars, slept in many less than glamorous hotel rooms, ate a lot of truck stop meals and wrestled in a lot of no-name towns that looked best when they were in the rear view mirror. DiBiase says his luck changed when the WWF called, flew him in and presented him with the Million Dollar Man idea, promising him that the lavish lifestyle extended to real life as well. DiBiase admits to resentment from the dressing room who were still renting cars and travelling coach. DiBiase drops money from the ceiling to prove to the doubters one last time that everybody has a price and lets out his trademark laugh.

Prime Time Wrestling: March 20th 1989
Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase w/Virgil vs Bret “Hitman” Hart
Bret starts off as the aggressor, catching DiBiase with rights, a legsweep, atomic drop and cross body. DiBiase rolls outside where a young fan flips him the bird. DiBiase blocks a rollup, Bret surprises him with a small package and DiBiase blows another gasket on the floor. Bret stops the referee counting DiBiase out, slingshotting him back in from the apron. DiBiase gets tied up in the ropes, but manages to avoid a running spike.

DiBiase grounds Bret with a chinlock, switching to a choke when Virgil distracts the referee. Both clothesline each other at the same time. Bret plays possum in order to throw DiBiase from the top rope. The two slug it out until DiBiase tries to beg off. Bret delivers a series of elbows and a backbreaker. Bret misses with a running knee in the corner. DiBiase pulls Bret to the middle of the ring for a couple of spinning toeholds. Bret uses his other foot to kick DiBiase over the top rope. Bret nails a plancha and both get counted out as they duel on the floor. Virgil tries a sneak attack, but Bret chases him into the ring, then thwarts a DiBiase sneak attack by headbutting him out of the ring. This was a good match despite the non-finish. Bret was still primarily seen as a tag team wrestler, but singles matches with DiBiase and Mr Perfect during this timeframe solidified him as a singles star. Winner: DOUBLE COUNTOUT.

They should perhaps edit down some of the speeches to the key points and try and include some more in-ring action for next week’s show, as I understand the Hall of Fame theme is continuing. If I wanted to watch that much talking I’d put TNA Impact on. The middle portion this week really dragged. Either side of that, the pieces on Lou Albano and Ted DiBiase were really entertaining.

See you next week!

Any comments or discussion points drop me a line at shaunmb1@hotmail.com.