WWE Vintage Collection Report: March 13th 2011
By Shaun Best-Rajah.com Reporter
Hosted by: Mean Gene Okerlund
Dust off your best suit, as this week’s show is the first instalment in a Hall of Fame retrospective.
Beginning in 1993 and running until 1996, the ceremony was brought back in 2004, and since then has traditionally taken place the night before WrestleMania.
To date there have been a total of 88 inductees – 72 individuals, five tag teams and one family (The Von Erichs in 2009.) Of those 88 inductions, 15 were posthumous. There is no physical Hall of Fame building yet, but it’s universally accepted as a major achievement, unless your name is Bruno Sammartino.
A heartwarming video package on the very first inductee – the Eighth Wonder of the World – Andre the Giant opens the show. Highlights included Andre throttling fellow Hall of Famers Bob Uecker and Bobby Heenan at various WrestleManias and slamming Big John Studd during the first Mania. Andre was inducted shortly after passing away from a heart attack in early 1993. Okerlund recalls Andre as a “very dear, close personal friend,” before noting his card playing prowess. Cribbage was the Giant’s game of choice.
Okerlund introduces his own Hall of Fame vignette from 2006. Hulk Hogan is featured prominently as Okerlund’s friend and co-creator of Gene-o-Mania to go alongside Hulkamania. (Hogan also inducted Okerlund.) Being the first announcer to be inducted, Okerlund says of interviewing the biggest names in the sport that “some have been a pleasure, while others i’ve just had to do my job.”
Cutting to his acceptance speech on April 1st 2006, Okerlund puts over the wrestlers for their promo abilities, stating he can “be there as a prop with a microphone and throw in a question now and then.” After Bobby Heenan kisses him on his forehead, Okerlund notes his 35 year tenure in the AWA, WCW and WWE, vowing to serve another 35 if possible. In closing, Okerlund says when he gets the call from above, to bury him face down, then all his critics can kiss his ass.
It’s Hammer time! Greg Valentine was inducted on March 13th 2004. The son of Johnny Valentine, Greg is a former U.S, Intercontinental and Tag Team titleholder with wrestling in his blood. His patented figure four leglock and feud with Tito Santana is highlighted, with J.R dubbing him a “prodigy” and “natural who brought his Dad’s toughness to every match.”
Valentine calls his 34 years in the business (16 in the WWE) a “wild ride.” A product of Stu Hart’s dungeon, Valentine briefly talks about tagging with Ric Flair, channelling Randy Savage’s “ohhh yeahhh” before letting out a customary “woooooooooo!” After noting his participation in seven WrestleManias, Valentine thanks the McMahons, his wife Julie for putting up with him for 18 years and the good lord above for taking care of him and keeping him healthy, before saying this one’s for his Dad.
May 18th 1985: Intercontinental Title (Boston Garden)
Greg “The Hammer” Valentine w/Jimmy Hart vs Junkyard Dog
This is a rematch from WrestleMania I. Like Valentine, JYD was also inducted in 2004. JYD works over Valentine’s arm in the early going with an armwringer and hammerlock. Hart causes a distraction, allowing Valentine to attack from behind. Valentine too goes after an arm, grounding JYD with an armbar and his own hammerlock. JYD thumps the mat but refuses to quit.
JYD stops Valentine from tying his arm in the rope, raking and biting the face, then throttling in the corner. Valentine quivers to his knees. JYD gets on all fours to deliver headbutts. Valentine eats a clothesline but rolls clear of a falling headbutt. JYD kicks off a figure four attempt to knock Hart from the apron. JYD sends Valentine through the ropes. As JYD goes to slam him back into the ring, Valentine rolls through, hooking the tights for the 1-2-3. JYD attacks Valentine after the bell and chases Hart out of the ring. Winner: GREG “THE HAMMER” VALENTINE.
Our final inductee for this week is Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat. In a career spanning three decades, Steamboat’s reigns as Intercontinental and NWA Heavyweight Champion are quickly mentioned. Steve Austin calls Steamboat his “greatest opponent,” while Ric Flair states the Dragon’s “level of performance is second to none.”
Inducted on April 4th 2009, Steamboat talks about the bar being set each night, before tipping his hat to the bookers for putting their trust in him and for hooking the fans after many of his one hour draws.
“My rewards aren’t measured in wins and losses. It was about the performance, the match, to know you left everything you had in that ring.
“Ric Flair pushed me, took me to school everytime we locked up and gave me the foundation of my work ethic that transformed with (many others)….I pushed everyone, but they all pushed back.”
Steamboat tells Mickey Rourke (sitting in the audience) that this is his Oscar.
August 9th 1986: (Boston Garden)
Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat vs Jake “The Snake” Roberts
Steamboat uses a pair of headscissors to escape a couple of side headlock takedowns. Jake is stung by Steamboat’s martial arts offense, as the Dragon takes the fight to the Snake outside. As both fight along the apron, Steamboat karate chops the steel ringpost when Jake drops to the floor to avoid contact. Jake drags Steamboat outside to send his wrist into the barricade and wrap it around the ringpost. Back inside, Jake isolates Steamboat with a wristlock.
Jake removes his wrist tape with bad intentions in mind, but the referee confiscates it. Steamboat takes advantage of the distraction to hang Jake up on the ropes, toss him into the barricade, the ringside table, and chop him down from the top rope. A desperate Jake throws Steamboat into the referee to stop his momentum. Jake has Steamboat beat after a short arm clothesline and gutbuster, but there’s no referee to count. Realising his mistake, Jake pulls the referee up. This allows Steamboat to roll Jake up from behind for the 1-2-3. Jake pounds the mat in frustration as fans throw garbage at him. Winner: RICKY “THE DRAGON” STEAMBOAT. Jake would DDT Steamboat after the bell and drape Damien on him but that footage is edited off. Steamboat would eventually win the reptile war, scaring Jake off with his Komodo Dragon.
See you next week for a second Hall of Fame instalment
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