Thursday, August 31, 2017

Progress Wrestling

I had of heard of Progress Wrestling before and have watched many clips and matches on the internet in the past but I had never watched a complete event before.  Recently I got a one month subscription to the Highspots Wrestling Network so I could watch the CZW Once In a Lifetime event featuring Matt Tremont vs. Atsuhi Onita in a barbed wire exploding bat match.

Sadly the match, as well as the event, was a bit of a disappointment for me.  I decided to check out what else Highspots had to offer and it has a lot indeed!  Wrestling events from promotions around the world, classic and vintage wrestling footage, and some fantastic documentaries including Ellbow Productions releases.

For me though it was finally my chance to check out some complete Progress Wrestling events.  I started out big with the 2017 Super Strong Style 16 Tournament.  A tournament held over three days this past May at the Electric Ballroom in London.

The talent in the tournament is no doubt the future of wrestling not just in the UK but around the world.  Zack Gibson, Jack Sexsmith, Zack Sabre Jr. David Starr, Jimmy Havoc, Travis Banks, Mark Andrews, Flamita, Tyler Bate, William Eaver, Mark Haskins, Flash Morgan Webster, Matt Riddle, Trent Seven, Nathan Cruz, & Jeff Cobb.  Several of these men have already appeared in the WWE and I wouldn't be surprised to see more of them signed by WWE in the future.  The weekend also featured Progress World Champion Pete Dunne amongst others.

I was blown away by Progress's product and I'm not just talking about the in ring talent.  The production value with the multi-camera set up, commentators, entrance music, and set is top notch.  One of my favorite things is how they opened the show with the ring announcer Jim Smallman in the ring talking to the fans.  Night one he asks all who traveled from another country to be at the show to stand up and then asks each one where they are from.  Night two he asked all who wasn't at night one to stand up and then demands to know why they weren't there.  Some pretty awesome fan interaction.

One of the best matches of the show was on night one between Zack Gibson and Jack Sexsmith.  The story they told in the match with Jack being the underdog having to constantly battle back from underneath against Gibson and then getting the upset win.  It was amazing!  The crowd exploded and I'm not ashamed to admit that I jumped off the couch with excitement applauding the television with a tear in my eye. It was sincerely a truly fantastic moment in wrestling.

The results to the tournament and non-tournament matches are out there, but I'm not going to spoil them here.  You need to go out of your way to watch this tournament yourself.  You can find it on either the Highspots Network or Demand Progress their own streaming service.  They both have Roku channels as well. 

Highspots is $9.99 a month with thousands of hours of various wrestling to watch, but are a few months behind on the current Progress content.  Demand Progress is $7.49 a month and they typically post their most recent show a week after the event occurs.  Demand Progress also features events from four other wrestling promotions.

I have firmly jumped on the Progress band wagon and am excited about the fact they have started running shows in the United States.  They ran a show during WrestleMania weekend in 2017 and again will be in 2018.  Also this past August they had a show in New York and Boston which both sold out very quickly.  I was not able to make it to the Boston show this time but I am not missing out when they return.

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Sunday, August 27, 2017

The Final Ride of Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat

Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat is one of the greatest wrestlers of all time.  A perennial babyface in all the documentaries and interviews I have watched or books I have read I have never heard anyone say anything bad about Steamboat in anyway.  In fact everyone praises how much they enjoyed wrestling Steamboat and how good he was in the ring.

On August 24, 1994 at Clash of the Champions XXVIII  in Cedar Rapids, Iowa Steamboat defeated "Stunning" Steve Austin to win the United States Championship.  During the match Steamboat injured his back, he managed to wrestle at house shows the next four days defeating Austin at each one.  Unfortunately the injury was too severe and signaled the end of Steamboats in ring career.  Or did it?

In the years that followed Steamboat would show up in wrestling in different rolls for TNA, Ring of Honor, and various independents, but he never stepped in the ring.  In 2005 he returned to the WWE as a road agent.  He made it known that he would like to come out of retirement in 2006 at WrestleMania to have a match with Ric Flair, I really wish that, that would have happened.

Even though he didn't wrestle Flair he did step back into the ring for the first time in almost 15 years, at WrestleMania XXVI teaming with "Rowdy" Roddy Piper & Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka losing to Chris Jericho in a three one on handi-capped match.

Steamboat looked amazing!  He literally looked like he never lost a step sinking in those deep arm drags, skinning the cat, coming off the top rope, launching himself over the top rope to the floor!  Amazing!

The next night on Monday Night Raw, April 6, 2009 in Houston, Texas Steamboat teamed with CM Punk, Jeff Hardy, Johcn Cena, & Rey Mysterio to defeat Jericho, Edge, Kane, Matt Hardy & The Big Show.

On April 26, 2009 at the Backlash pay-per-view in Providence, Rhode Island, Steamboat stepped in the ring with Chris Jericho losing in twelve and a half minutes.  Once again Steamboat looked phenomenal in the ring.

In June Steamboat started working select house shows wrestling Sheamus, Drew McIntyre, and Chris Jericho.  He won all but his match with Jericho in Japan on July 8, 2009.  In August he teamed with his son Richie defeated Hiram Tua and Orlando Colon at WWC Summer Madness in Puerto Rico.
Richie Steamboat
Steamboat would next compete in the ring on June 18, 2010 once again teaming with Richie at FCW's Father Day Salute in Ft. Myers defeating The Dudebusters.  This is Steamboat's last match to date, and as it's been seven years it's safe to say it was his last.

The Dudebusters: Trent Barreta & Caylen Croft
No one in wrestling has ever returned to the ring after a 15 year layoff looking as good as Steamboat did.  It would have been nice to have seen one of those matches in person or at least released on home video.

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The Matches

April 5, 2009 WrestleMania XXVI Houston, Texas
with "Rowdy" Roddy Piper & Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka was defeated by Chris Jericho

April 6, 2009 RAW Houston, Texas
with CM Punk, Jeff Hardy, John Cena, & Rey Mysterio Jr. defeated Chris Jericho, Edge, Kane, Matt Hardy & The Big Show

April 26, 2009 Backlash Providence, Rhode Island
defeated by Chris Jericho

June 6, 2009 WWE House Show Pensacola, Florida
defeated Sheamus

June 13, 2009 WWE House Show Binghamton, New York
defeated Drew McIntyre

June 14, 2009 WWE House Show Hersey, Pennsylvania
defeated Drew McIntyre

July 3, 2009 WWE House Show San Diego, California
defeated Drew McIntyre

July 8, 2009 WWE House Show Tokyo, Japan
was defeated by Chris Jericho

August 1, 2009 WWE House Show Cape Cod, Massachusetts
defeated Drew McIntyre

August 2, 2009 WWE House Show Hyannis, Massachusetts
defeated Drew McIntyre

August 15, 2009 World Wrestling Council, Bayamon, Puerto Rico
with Richie Steamboat defeated Hiram Tua & Orlando Colon

June 18, 2010 Florida Championship Wrestling, Ft. Myers, Florida
with Richie Steamboat defeated The Dudebusters: Caylen Croft &  Trent Barreta

Thursday, August 24, 2017

The Last Match: WWE Tag Team's of the 80's

I really like tag team wrestling, especially when it's done right.  I like it even more when the members of the team dress similar, have a name, and the duo works like a team.  A well polished tag team should be able to beat any team of two random guys thrown together no matter who they are.

The tag team division of the WWE in the 1980's had the deepest roster depth for actual teams compared to any other time in the company, in my opinion.  The Survivor Series in 1987 and 1988 showed just how deep it was when each year featured a five on five tag teams elimination match, 20 men in each match!

In this post we take a look at The Last Match of those teams. 

The British Bulldogs: Dynamite Kid & Davey Boy Smith
January 28, 1990 AJPW Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
with Tiger Mask defeated Jumbo Tsuruta, Masanobu Fuchi, & Yoshiaki Yatsu

One of my all time favorite tag teams they were partners from 1983 - 1990 holding tag team championships in Stampede Wrestling and the WWE.  After parting ways Davey Boy would go on to have a successful run in the WWE with two short stints in WCW passing away in 2002.  Dynamite Kid would wind down his career in 1994 because of injuries returning for a single match in 1996.  Currently Dynamite resides in England confined to a wheelchair from injuries suffered in the ring. 

Strike Force: Tito Santana & Rick Martel
April 2, 1989 WrestleMania V Atlantic City, New Jersey
defeated by The Brain Busters: Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard

This is probably the most well known Last Match on this list.  They duo hadn't teamed since July 11, 1988 when they reunited for this match as Martel had taken time off to care for his wife.  Martel turned on Santana turning heel and abandoning him in the match.

They teamed together for just over two years, after Santana would compete in the WWE until 1993 he then hit the independents where he has wrestled a steady schedule most recently as May 2017.  Martel would become the Model leaving the WWE in 1995, he made a brief run in WCW (read about that here) retiring in 1999.

Interesting note, in the AWA in the summer of 1982 Martel and Santana teamed up for several matches included challenging Greag Gagne & Jim Brunzell for the AWA Tag Team Championships

The Young Stallions: Paul Roma & Jim Powers
March 19, 1989 WWF Hartford, Connecticut
defeated Los Conquistadores: Uno & Dos

Teaming together from March 11, 1987 - March 19, 1989  the babyface duo primarily competed in the mid-card section of the division.  They did have a series of matches with Tag Team Champions: The Hart Foundation in September 1987.

The duo parted ways working as singles.  Powers left the WWE in 1994 joining WCW for a two year run in 1996.  He left wrestling for 10 years returning in 2008 wrestling eight matches until his last in 2010.  

Roma teamed with Hercules as Power and Glory from 1990 - 1991, they were a tag team I really enjoyed.  Roma joined WCW in 1993 as a member of the Four Horsemen.  He would stay with WCW teaming with Paul Orndorff and wrestling singles until 1995.  He left wrestling in 1997 returning 10 years later on the independents. 

The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers: Jacque & Raymond
July 12, 2003 Lutte 2000 Montreal, Quebec, Canada
defeated The Nasty Boys: Brian Knobbs & Jerry Saggs

This brother duo first teamed together in 1981 in their native Montreal.  In February 1986 they started full time with the WWE.  Jimmy Hart became their manager and they relocated to Memphis, Tennessee becoming "All American Boys".  Raymond retired in 1990 and in 1991 Jacque returned as The Mountie.

The Killer Bees: B. Brian Blair & "Jumping" Jim Brunzell
September 23, 1994 UWF BlackJack Brawl, Las Vegas, Nevada
won the vacant Tag Team Championships defeating Larry Power & The Warlord

Blair was already in the WWE when Brunzell signed, debuting as a team June 17, 1985 at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center.  They were babyfaces and wore matching gear and came to the ring maskless, however at some point in the match they would put masks on and trade places in the ring fooling the referee and heel opponents.

They would split up as a team in August 1988 both staying with the WWE as singles wrestlers.  They would team together for a couple matches in 1991, 1993, & 1994 for the UWF wrestling as The Bees, The Killer Bees, and Masked Confusion.  They also teamed in 1994 in the AWA as The Killer Bees.

The Hart Foundation: Bret "Hitman" Hart & Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart
July 1, 1991 WWE Madison Square Garden
defeated by Tag Team Champions: The Nasty Boys: Brian Knobbs & Jerry Sags by disqualification

The brother-in-laws first teamed together in Stampede Wrestling in 1982 but did not tag regularly until joining the WWE in 1985.  Over the next six years they would become one of the premier tag teams in the promotion winning the Tag Team Championships twice.  

The Islanders: Haku & Tama
May 27, 1988 Madison Square Garden
with Bobby Heenan defeated Koko B. Ware & The British Bulldogs: Dynamite Kid & Davey Boy Smith

Haku & Siva Afi
July 1, 1988 Calgary, Alberta, Canada
defeated by The British Bulldogs: Dynamite Kid & Davey Boy Smith

Both wrestlers were already competing in the promotion under different names when they were repackaged as a team with new in ring names.  Debuting as babyfaces in August 1986 I was a huge fan of this team when I was a kid.  They turned heel shortly after WrestleMania III and were managed by Bobby Heenan.

In April 1988 High Chief Afi joined the team and the competed as a trio for a very short time before Fatu left the promotion.  Haku and Afi contiuned as the Islanders until Afi's released.  Haku stayed with the WWE before eventually have a nice run inWCW.

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Monday, August 21, 2017

The Second WCW Run of The Public Enemy

Many people are well aware of the tag team The Public Enemy: "Flyboy" Rocco Rock & Johnny Grunge.  They helped revolutionize the early days of ECW becoming four time tag team champions from September 18, 1993 to January 5, 1996.  The jumped to WCW in January 1996 to September 1998 winning the WCW tag team championships.

In 1999 the team returned to the land of the extreme wrestling The Dudley Boys to a no contest at House Party 99 on January 16th at the ECW arena.  They were supposed to make more appearances in ECW but cancelled them when they signed with the WWE for their disastrous run in that promotion.

Many fans, myself included, forget that the duo made a return to World Championship Wrestling in the summer of 1999 returning at Bash of the Beach pay-per-view and exiting just over a month later.

June 25, 1999 House Show Auburn Hills, Michigan
Hak defeated Johnny Grunge in a hardcore match

July 11, 1999 Bash at the Beach Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
Competed in a hardcore junkyard invitational that was won by Fit Finlay.

This was the teams surprise return to WCW after a ten month absense.

August 3, 1999 WCW Saturday Night, Mankato, Minnesota
defeated Hugh Morrus & Jerry Flynn by disqualification

August 5, 1999 Thunder Lacrosse, Wisconsin
Goldberg pinned Rocco Rock

August 9, 1999 Monday Nitro Boise, Idaho
defeated by Curt Hennig & Barry Windham

August 16, 1999 Monday Nitro Colorado Springs, Colorado
defeated by The Insane Clown Posse: Violent Jay & Shaggy 2 Dope

August 17, 1999 WCW Saturday Night, Casper, Wyoming
defeated nWo: Scott Norton & Horace

August 18, 1999 House Show Amarillo, Texas
defeated by Chris Benoit & Perry Saturn

August 19, 1999 Thunder, Lubbock, Texas
Aired August 26
defeated by Sid Vicious in a handicapped match

1999 was an interesting year for The Public Enemy.  They started the year in ECW, had a brief run in WWE, held the NWA World Tag Team Championships for two days in June, returned to WCW in July and August, and finished the year working for the California based XPW.

Sadly both members of the team have since passed away, Rocco Rock in 2002 and Johnny Grunge in 2006.  I was always a fan of them, in-fact they main evented the first ever Indy show that I went to, March 16, 1997 at Edward Little High School in Auburn, Maine, they defeated Dave and Dean the Power Twins with the Drive By through a table.  My buddy Jay actually brought home half the table as a souvenir. 

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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Shared Theme Songs

Theme songs have become a very important part of wrestling.  A simple guitar riff, the sound of glass breaking, or spoken words can pop a crowd into a frenzy of boos or cheers.  Everyone has their favorites, for me it's too hard to pick just one.

The WWE is well known for creating some of the best original music for their wrestlers, where as other promotions used radio songs, and WCW was known for using instrumental covers in a different key.  On a few occasions though the WWE would re-use theme songs and sometimes they would become so well known for that superstar that people would forget that someone else had it first.

WWE's first music release was The Wrestling Album in November 1985 commentary was provided between the tracks by Vince McMahon, Jesse "The Body" Ventura, and "Mean" Gene Okerlund.

This commentary revealed that Rick Derringer's "Real American" was written for the tag team duo of Mike Rotundo and Barry Windham the U.S. Express.  However we all known that it was Hulk Hogan is who ended up using the tune.
Kurt Angles iconic theme music "Medal" by Jim Johnston could not fit the Olympic gold medalist better.  Fans even took to chanting "You Suck" to the melody of the tune.  However in 1997 The Patriot Del Wilkes used it first during his short run in 1997.

The Rockers debuted in the WWE in 1988 breaking up in the infamous Barber Shop incident in December 1991 (aired January 1992).  During that time they used a happening tune called "Rockin' Rockers".  Jannetty would use it during his solo run and as The New Rockers with Al Snow's Leif Cassidy.

In 1998 The Rock N Roll Express returned to the WWE as part of the NWA Invasion angle during that time frame they would use "Rockin' Rockers" as their entrance music.

Fatu was repacked as The Sultan debuting in 1996 with and The Iron Sheik & Bob Backlund as his managers.  He had what I think is one of the best themes, "Desert Heat" I don't know why I just really dig it.  The Sultan left in January 1998 and shortly after Fatu emerged as one of the Headshrinkers.

Tiger Ali Singh debuted in 1997 as a blue chipper similar to that of the Rock.  After a handful of matches in 1997 he left television.  When he returned in mid 1998 he was repackaged as an arrogant aristocrat and he began using "Desert Heat"as his entrance music.  Later after Singh left the WWE in 2002 whenever The Iron Sheik would make an appearance they used Desert Heat for him.

Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart needed a partner after Bret won the Intercontinental Championship.  Turning to another brother-in-law Owen Hart they formed The New Foundation debuting in December 1991 teaming until February 1992.  The theme music they used penned by Jim Johnston was called "Wrecking Crew".

The Heavenly Bodies: "Gigolo" Jimmy del Ray & "Doctor of Desire" Tim Prichard teamed in the WWE from 1993 - 1995 and also used this as their theme.  They are the ones that I most associate the theme with.

WCW did this a lot too except is was mostly generic canned music that they had in the turner library.  For instance at Slamboree 1994 when Tully Blanchard wrestled Terry Funk, Blanchard's ring music that night is the same that Chris Jericho used when he debuted in WCW in 1996.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

WWE Live Report 8/12/2017 Augusta, Maine

When the WWE comes to town about 10 miles from your home and you're a lifelong wrestling fan, you go! A few weeks out I went to the Augusta Civic Center box office to pick up a couple of $25 tickets to avoid the ticketmaster fees.  We were in section 24 right in the front row on the aisle and they were fantastic seats.

This is Canaan's fifth WWE event and my 36th.  Rating overall definitely not the best show I've ever been to for the company, but it was a fun above average show.  The civic center was close to full, I'd wager about 4,000 fans, and they were into it which always makes it better.

One of the things that I liked the most about the house shows when I was younger was that the set up was simply, ring in the center of the venue, spotlights and the house public address system.  No lighting set up, no entrance set, just bare bones like the footage I used to watch on Coliseum Home Video or Prime Time Wrestling.

In 2012 when they started adding the set with mini titantron, lighting rigs, and sound system it was when they jacked the ticket prices up from $55 to $95 on the first few rows.  I was super annoyed because it priced me out of trying to buy front row for my son and I. Last night was the first I night I truly enjoyed those additions.

Ring announcer Tom Rome was the host for the evening and from when we got through the doors just past 6:30pm until the show started at 7:30pm they played various clips on the tron from top 10 lists to retro wrestling moments.  Also Rome did various live spots from around the building about that nights show and the upcoming SummerSlam.  It really helped pass the time until the show started, which was promptly at 7:30pm.

The Hardy Boys: Matt & Jeff and Finn Balor defeated The Club: Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows and Elias Sampson

Big pop for this opening trio, all guys my son wanted to see the most at once.  Hardy's got some delete chants in showing that even the fans in Maine know what up with the Broken.  Samson sat on a stool at the top of the entrance ramp singing a song.  At one point when he was booed loudly he told the crowd to quiet down or he'd have to start over.

Decent match, all the guys worked hard, probably my favorite match of the night.  The good guys for the win when Balor hit the coup de gras on Anderson for the three count.

Goldust pinned R-Truth

I was excited to see Goldust, probably the only one.  I've always been a fan of Dustin/Goldust because he's really good in the ring and historically he's put on some pretty fantastic matches on house shows.  This one lasted two minutes when he pinned Truth with his feet on the ropes.

Interesting note, the first ever WWE show I went to at the Augusta Civic Center in March 1996 and Goldust was on the card.

Cruiserweight Champion: Neville submitted Tozawa

This was a good match, I was hoping we'd get a title change.  I really want to witness a house show title change.  Someday it will happen!  The finish came when Tozawa missed his senton and Neville locked on his submission finisher for the win.

Big Cass beat up Enzo Amore

This was not a match, there was no referee in the ring.  Enzo came out and did his typical microphone work, called out Big Cass.  Cass came out and after a minute layed out Enzo.  That was it, both guys went to the back after.

Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose defeated Curtis Axle & Bo Dallas

For some reason the order of introductions was Seth Rollins, Axle & Dallas, and then Ambrose.  I'm pretty sure that they were trying to telegraph the alleged tension between Rollins and Ambrose if they are going to actually team together at SummerSlam.  They didn't relay that message well.

Rollins, Axle, and Dallas all looked great, Ambrose was is typical lazy self going through the motions.  His neckbreaker consists of facing a guy grabbing a him by the head and and rotating them both around and they both fall flat on their backs and during the fall Ambrose lets go of the guy.  Somehow, even though they both do the same thing taking the same back bump it only hurts the other guy and Ambrose jumps up.

John Cena pinned Rusev

This SmackDown feature match was the last prior to intermission.  That is also a decent match, better than I expected it to be.  Cena was over big time I can only recall a small smattering of Cena Sucks chants.  This match featured a ref bump and then a low blow by Rusev.  He then tried to hit Cena with the belt but Cena nailed and AA for the pin.

Sasha Banks, Dana Brooke & Mickie James defeated Nia Jax, Emma, & Raw Women's Champion: Alexa Bliss

Mickie James substituted for the injured Bayley.  Sasha Banks got the biggest reaction.  I'm a fan of almost all these ladies and this is the first time I've seen four of them.  Once a again a decent match with everyone putting in a great effort.  It's the best of seen Dana Brooke in the ring to date.

The finish came when Sasha showed us all just how flexible Emma was submitting her to the Bank Statement.

Tag Team Champions: Cesaro & Sheamus defeated Titus O'Neil & Apollo Crews

This was a title match that I had no belief that title would change hands.  I like the team of Sheamus and Cesaro, they've become and actual team, wearing similar outfits to the ring, creating signature entrance and even tandem moves.  They just need a name.

Sheamus brogue kicked Apollo Crews into unconsciousness for the three count.

Roman Reigns defeated Braun Strowman

Somehow Strowman is bigger in person than on TV.  I mean he really is a mountain of a man.  I know I sounds like a broken record but, this match was better than I thought it would be.  I was actually kind of impressed with Reigns tonight and Strowman has consistently surprised me with just how good he is in the ring for a man of his size.

Braun was disqualified when he took the ring steps and struck Reigns.  Post match he continued the beat down of Reigns hitting him with the stairs and tossing him into the ring post before putting him back in the ring.  Braun then slide a table into the ring setting it up in the corner.  Of course, Reigns eventually made a comeback and speared Braun through the table much to the delight of the crowd.

Like I said the fans were really into the match, the booed the bad guys and cheered the good guys just like there were supposed to.  Cena got nothing but love and even Reigns was heavily cheered.  Again definitely not the best house show I've ever been took but it was better than average.  Our seats were great and I will buy those in the future.

I took all the pictures with my phone, the lighting is never good for pictures at wrestling but these are some of the better shots.

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For those wondering...

March 1, 1996 Civic Center , Augusta, ME

The Godwinns: Henry & Phinneas defeated The Bodydonnas: Skip & Zip with Sunny
Duke “The Dumpster” Drose pinned Hunter Hearst Helmsley
“The Ringmaster” Steve Austin pinned Marty Jannetty
Owen Hart pinned Scott Taylor (sub. for Yokozuna) following an enzuiguri
Savio Vega (sub. for Razor Ramon) defeated Intercontinental Champion: Goldust via count-out when he walked to the back
The 1-2-3 Kid pinned Bob Holly at the 10-second mark with a spin kick
Ahmed Johnson defeated Tatanka
World Champion: Bret “The Hitman” Hart defeated the Undertaker via count-out when Goldust interfered piledriving Taker on the floor; Diesel was also scheduled to be part of the match, making it a 3-way, but was unable to wrestle due to injury

“Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels pinned “The British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith with sweet chin music