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Wrestlemania Countdown: 7

The Netcop Retro Rant for Wrestlemania VII

(2012 Scott sez:  Jesus fuck, ANOTHER three-version Wrestlemania rant.  Before I was married, I had so much time on my hands that I could apparently just sit around and watch the same damn shows OVER AND OVER.  Actually, that’s pretty accurate, come to think of it.) 

- Live from Los Angeles, California and the Memorial Coliseum...oh, wait, that's just in Vince's dreams. It's actually the much smaller Sports Arena. Bomb threat my ass... Original airdate: March 24, 1991

- Your hosts are Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan, plus a host of others.

- Opening match: The Rockers v. Haku & Barbarian.

Yup, the Faces of Fear actually got started as a team in the WWF. Wicked move as the Rockers double-team Haku, but Barbarian runs in with a clothesline on both guys that results in a double-somersault-oversell. Cool stuff. The Rockers must not be stoned tonight. (Or, more accurately, they were getting better at hiding it.)  Marty holds his own with Barbarian but gets caught in the corner and double-teamed, then stun-gunned while attempting a rana on Haku. Jannetty bumps like a madman to hold it together. A Barbarian flying headbutt misses, allowing Marty to hot tag Shawn, who does some nicely timed stuff to hold off the heels. Double dropkick on Haku and then a dropkick off the top from Marty leads to a bodypress off the top from Shawn for the pin. The Rockers could do no wrong at this point, and this is proof. ***

- Kiss-ass celebrity interview segment with Regis Philbin, Marla Maples and Alex Trebek.

- Kerry Von Erich v. Dino Bravo.

Okay, this is just a little creepy, considering the current state of both guys. Nothing match as both guys had already outlived their usefulness to the federation, and there was a suicide watch on Kerry to boot. (No pun intended.)  Bravo gets the side slam, but it only gets two. He follows with something off the second rope, but gets caught with the clawhold, and Von Erich finishes it with the discus punch, possibly the worst finisher in history. 1/4*  (Hey now, there’s a long tradition of heroic muscle men winding up their punches to add maximum impact!)

- The Warlord v. The British Bulldog.

There was some sort of issue here that I might have cared about in 1991 but I can't be bothered to remember it now. The match ran about 8 minutes originally and is clipped to about two here, thankfully. Warlord wears down Bulldog and gets the FULL-NELSON OF DOOM, but Bulldog breaks it and powerslams him for the pin. 1/4*

- WWF World tag team title match: The Hart Foundation v. The Nasty Boys.

Vince stole the Nasties from WCW a few months prior to this and I guess they wanted to justify the contracts or something. (I think “stole” is a bit strong, as WCW didn’t see much in them anyway.)  This marks the end of the first phase of Bret's WWF career. Nasties have zero heat. Jimmy Hart just happens to be wearing a motorcycle helmet. The subtlety just boggles the mind. We get a shot of Macauley Culkin in the crowd and Gorilla completely misses the significance. The Harts are just amazingly over, and they do the impossible and carry the Nasties to a watchable match here. Bret works in the FIVE MOVES OF DOOM early on. Match slows down (waaaaay down) as Sags works on Bret with a rear chinlock. Nasties blow a move, and we get the false tag to Neidhart. Sags gets nailed with the megaphone by mistake and Neidhart gets the tag for real. Nasties get demolished and Hart Attacked, but Bret gets escorted from the ring, allowing Sags to nail Neidhart with that conveniently present motorcycle helmet and win the WWF tag team titles. Better than it had any right to be. **1/2  (That helmet actually falls under the cinematic convention of establishing that the gun is present all the way in the first act of the movie and then paying it off at the end.  Also known as the banana peel theory:  Show the banana peel, show the banana peel, slip on the banana peel.) 

- Blindfold match: Rick Martel v. Jake Roberts.

This one falls under "dumb ideas stolen from Kevin Sullivan". The High Concept: Both guys are blindfolded, to symbolize Jake's blindness at the hands of Martel. (Or from exceptionally cheap hooch.  Grizzly Smith WAS a backwoods mountain man.)  Jake encourages the crowd to cheer louder when he points to where Martel is. Not exactly much contact being made as they spend most of the match standing in the corners trying to figure out where the other guy is. Martel gets his hands on Jake, finally, and puts him in the Boston Crab, but Jake powers out, then gropes around long enough to find Martel and DDT him for the pin. There was maybe 5 points total where contact was made. Easily the worst-ever Wrestlemania match at –****  (I wouldn’t say “easily” in a world with Bossman v. Undertaker.  I think this was written before that, though.) 

- Jimmy Snuka v. The Undertaker.

Even in 91, the *Bong* got a good pop. Too bad it took another couple of years for them to figure out that turning out the lights made it even louder. This marks two years in a row that Snuka gets to be Designated Squash Victim. (More importantly, Snuka gets to be the guy who makes Undertaker 1-0) The flying clothesline gets a big pop. Undertaker manhandles Superfly with so little emotion that the fans don't know what to make of him. Snuka slingshots into the ring, and was supposed to be caught and tombstoned, but someone messes up and UT has to put him down, then pick him up and tombstone him again. Either way, it's an easy pin that actually gets a face pop for UT. DUD  (Snuka’s Wrestlemania career may have ended here, but luckily his legacy lives on in his daughter, Tamina.  Ironically, Tamina is also the daughter of WWE Legend Superfly Jimmy Snuka!  And now you know the rest of the story.) 

- Retirement match: The Ultimate Warrior v. Randy Savage.

Bobby Heenan points out that Elizabeth is sitting ringside. (Show the banana peel…) Geez, she couldn't even get front row. Warrior wisely decides to not run to ringside. Savage takes his top off, showing that he means business. Doesn't help, as Warrior methodically destroys Savage in a manner totally unlike him. Savage comes off the top but gets caught by Warrior, and then, in an Eddy Guerrero-like moment, Warrior simply puts him down and slaps him. Ooooo, you could get shot for doing shit like that in Mexico. Warrior paces himself nicely, slowly beating the hell out of Savage. He finally goes high-risk and misses a cross-corner charge, sending him flying out of the ring, where Sherri abuses him. Has Sherri been drinking "Ass Bulk 2000" or something? (No, but she did end up drinking booze and painkillers one time too many.  Sad face.)  Savage sends Warrior to the post and Sherri lays in more punishment. Warrior calmly comes back in the ring and clotheslines Savage out of his boots. Flying shouldblock misses and Savage gets two. Sleeper, and Warrior fights out, but they do the double-knockout bit. Warrior with a small package, but Sherri is distracting the ref. Savage decks Warrior from behind, bumping the ref in the process. But Sherri's interference backfires and she knocks out Savage. Warrior chases her around, and gets cradled for two. Savage with a stun-gun and the running necksnap for two. Savage drops the big elbow! But it's not enough, so he drops...FOUR MORE! Seriously, the guy drops five flying elbows on Warrior, just to be a dick. And it only gets two, which didn't really matter at the time because Savage was supposed to be retiring anyway, so who cared if his move was ruined. (I have to wonder if they legitimately thought Savage was retiring at that point, because that was such a bizarre spot otherwise.)  Warrior re-energizes and blitzes Savage with the THREE CLOTHESLINES OF DEATH, then the Gorilla Press and splash. *That* only gets two, and now Warrior doesn't know what to do. He has an epiphanic moment, as he talks to his hands, looking for advice. He starts to walk away from the match, but Savage jumps him from behind. (Gorilla Monsoon, normally a guy who doesn’t tolerate bullshit as an announcer, was beyond stupid here having to talk about Warrior speaking to his gods.)  That's apparently good enough an answer for Warrior, as he moves out of the way of the double-axehandle, sending Savage crashing to the steel railing. He tosses Savage back into the ring and spears Savage, which puts Savage onto the floor. He does it again, sending Savage out again. Finally he throws Savage back in one last time, hits the shoulderblock, and places a foot on his chest to win the match. Warrior's best match ever. ****1/2

- Extra-curricular activities that lend this match it's legendary status: Sherri is, shall we say, somewhat miffed at her money source being retired, so she takes out her frustrations on the beaten and helpless Savage. Big boos for that. And then, in one of the great moments of wrestling, Elizabeth finally takes an active role, running out of the audience to make the save and sending Sherri running. Savage wakes up and realizes what happened, then finally reconciles with Elizabeth after two years, bringing tears to every woman (and some of the men) in the arena. (Not me.  Just dust in my eye from all the manly stuff I had been doing outside that day, like roping horses while smoking unfiltered Marlboros and drinking whiskey.  In fact, it was probably the incredibly carcinogenic smoke that was in my eyes.)  Unbelievably great booking as both Warrior and Savage go out on top with a face pop. As a symbolic gesture, Savage holds the ropes open for Liz before leaving, which is Savage's way of apologizing for years of abuse. See, sometimes it *can* be Shakespeare, kids. Don't ever let 'em tell you different.  (Although if Vince wrote Hamlet, the hero would probably change his mind 14 times before revealing that he killed his own father and was working with Claudius all along.) 

- Demolition v. Genichiro Tenyru & Koji Kitao.

Witness the last match for Demolition before Smash goes solo as Repo Man and Crush goes solo as Crush. No one knows or gives a shit about the Japanese faction, which makes me wonder about the point of this. Demos go for Decapitation, but Kitao pushes Crush off the top and Tenryu powerbombs Smash for the pin. This was nothing. 1/2*

- Intercontinental title match: Mr. Perfect v. Big Bossman.

(So many dead people on this show.  Every time I go back and do a re-rant the list grows longer and longer.  I’m only 37, I shouldn’t be watching all my childhood heroes dying before I even get to middle age.)  Heenan started insulting Bossman's mother in mid-1990, and Bossman responded by mowing down every member of Heenan's family, leading up to a title match with Hennig. Hennig and Heenan reference Rodney King in the pre-match interview. Bossman mops up with Hennig, but he misses a charge outside the ring and hits the stairs. Heenan lays into Bossman, and Andre the Giant suddenly strides out of the dressing room to help Bossman! Well, as suddenly as Andre moved at the time. Andre grabs the title belt from ringside, and when Hennig lips him off about it, Andre casually smacks him with it, knocking him out. Bossman covers for two, and the Family runs in for the lame DQ. Hmm, that's a weird ending for a show with nothing but clean pins up to that point. All standard logic pointed to Bossman winning the title here, but it didn't happen. Still, the face went over, leaving the fans happy. **

- Earthquake v. Greg Valentine.

Valentine turned face as MSG to set this up, and it ends just as briskly. Earthquake absorbs punishment from Hammer for a while and then finishes it with the Quake splash. *

- The Legion of Doom v. Power & Glory.

The Parade O' Squashes continues, as LOD wipes out Roma and Hercules in something like 8 seconds with the Doomsday Device. Next. DUD

- Ted Dibiase v. Virgil.

I assume y'all know the story here. Virgil turns on Dibiase at Royal Rumble to go face, and turns to Roddy Piper for training advice. This was just after Piper's first hip replacement surgery, which is covered by a "motorcycle accident" story. (That doesn’t sound right to me.  I think it actually was a motorcycle accident, although I could be thinking of Vince.  My life is definitely easier in the age of Wikipedia, I’ll say that.)  Virgil boxes with Dibiase to start, as he plays the role of a manager who is learning to wrestle, even though he really can wrestle. Dibiase gains control for a bit, then goes outside to shove the crippled Piper off his chair. Cheap but effective. Dibiase comes off the ropes and Piper hooks the ropes with the crutch, giving Virgil the countout win. I believe this was clipped. Dibiase puts Virgil out with the Million Dollar Dream and Piper limps in to make the save with his crutch, drawing Sherri out of the dressing room as Dibiase's new manager. They destroy Piper's knee for fun. Match is 1/2* if that. Danny Davis tries to take the crutch away from Piper and Piper lets him have it right in the nuts. EEEEEEEE-YOWCH!  (Speaking as someone who spent a long stretch on crutches in my younger years, I can tell you that whacking someone in the junk with an aluminum crutch is a tremendous way to get them to never pick on you again.) 

- The Mountie v. Tito Santana.

One last match before the main. You'd think Tito would have lost the Strike Force tights TWO YEARS after the breakup. Very quick match as Tito goes after Mountie in the ropes and Jimmy Hart gives Mountie the cattle prod to allow an easy pinfall. DUD

- WWF World title match: Sgt. Slobber v. Hulk Hogan.

One year after the most interesting angle of Hogan's career (to that time, anyway), he's back to fighting the Evil Foreign Menace. Hogan hammers on Sarge for the first 6 or 7 minutes, but Slaughter catches him coming off the top rope (!) to take control. Hogan blades after a chairshot. This is a really, really long match for Hogan. I would just like to note right now that I would give good money to see Hogan come back to the WWF and win the World title right away, then defend it at the Survivor Series. Against Bret Hart. With Vince McMahon at ringside. I think that would be enough of an apology for Bret. I'd love just to see the look on Hulk's face after being screwed. That would be so glorious. (Of course, he DID come back to the WWF three years after I wrote that, and he DID win the World title right away, but sadly he dropped it in the ring to Undertaker.)  Anyway, the usual Hogan match follows here, as Slobber puts him in the dread REAR CHINLOCK OF HIDEOUS DISCOMFORT, but Hogan fights out, rips up the Iraqi flag, hits the big boot and legdrop, and gets the WWF title for the third time. And that's that. **1/4

The Bottom Line: This show has a bad rap for some reason, but barring the main event it's really quite good for a WWF show. All the faces went over in the important matches, and the heels went over where it was needed to build them up. And the bad stuff was short.

Recommended show.

The SmarK Retro Re-Rant for Wrestlemania VII

(Once again, the middle portion of the rant, which I have no patience for, so probably don’t look for much here beyond a Tamina joke.  The entire rant is basically the same, but with match times, so I don’t know why the fuck I bothered.  These days I’m like “Oh man, can I squeeze in an hour of Wrestlemania 27 after Smackdown on Friday so I can do the whole thing before this year’s show?” and back then I’m randomly redoing perfectly cromulent rants because I had nothing else going on all day after I got home from work early in the morning.) 

- This is from an original Coliseum tape that I bought from a video store years ago, so it’s clipped. Fun fact: I’ve never seen the full version of this show, because they stopped showing Wrestlemania on closed-circuit after VI, and PPV didn’t come to Edmonton until Summerslam 92. This is also the last Coliseum version to be clipped, because from then on the PPV broadcast had to conform to the 2:40 standard.

- Live from Los Angeles, CA.

- Your hosts are Gorilla Monsoon and a rotating crew of color men.

- Opening match: Haku & Barbarian v. The Rockers.

This was a weird time for the Rockers, because they were constantly trying to tease the breakup, but Shawn was having the best matches of his career up until that point. Common wisdom was the newly-pushed Haku & Barbarian getting the easy win here. Haku grabs a headlock on Shawn and then rams him backfirst into the corner and whips him around, but Shawn escapes into a criss-cross, and gets a shoulderblock to take him down. They trade wristlocks and Haku slugs away, but Marty comes in for a double elbow…and Barbarian hits both of them with a clothesline, for a Double Jannetty Sell. They respond with a double superkick, and the heels bail. Good stuff. Back in, Barbarian chops on Marty and headbutts him down, but Marty uses speed to evade him and tries a sunset flip. Barbarian blocks it, so Marty goes up with a rana instead. That gets two. Barbarian headbutts him again and brings in Haku for more headbutts, but Marty tries another rana, which gets turned into a hotshot to turn the tide and make Marty YOUR alcoholic-in-peril. Haku with a back elbow and Barbarian adds some double-teaming, and then a press slam. He cuts off the tag by drawing Shawn in, and some shenanigans in the heel corner result. Marty & Haku collide, but Haku recovers first and stomps away. Marty takes another hard bump into the corner and Haku follows with a pair of backbreakers, and we’re clipped a bit to Barbarian going up and missing a diving headbutt. Hot tag Shawn and he hammers on Barbarian in the corner and hits Haku with a crossbody, and then follows with a neckbreaker for two. Haku goes to the eyes, but Shawn gets a sunset flip for one. It’s BONZO GONZO and Barbarian gets dumped, and the Rockers both go up with a missile dropkick from Marty to set up a high cross from Shawn that finishes at 8:40. Super hot opener, with the classic big man v. little man dynamic. ***1/4

- Kerry Von Erich v. Dino Bravo.

Kerry was already nearing the end of his usefulness to the WWF at this point, less than a year into his run with them. Bravo attacks to start and dumps Kerry, and they brawl outside. Back in, Kerry comes back with an atomic drop and slugs away, but Bravo blocks the clawhold. Kerry charges and hits knee, and Bravo follows with an atomic drop and elbow for two. Bravo tries the CLUBBING FOREARMS, but Kerry fights him off, so Bravo gets the sideslam for two. Kerry comes back with the claw and finishes with the Discus Punch at 2:45. Real bad. DUD

- Warlord v. The British Bulldog.

They fight over a lockup and Warlord gets a quick knee, but Bulldog overpowers him and he bails. Back in, Warlord counters a crucifix with a samoan drop, and we’re obviously clipped via a rant from Slick outside. Warlord tries the full-nelson, but Bulldog fights out and finishes with the powerslam at 2:30. About a million edits here, and that’s probably for the best. DUD

- WWF tag team titles: The Hart Foundation v. The Nasty Boys.

Sags gets a cheapshot out of the corner to start and pounds away, but Bret comes back with a Thesz Press and an atomic drop on Knobs. We’re clipped to Knobs coming in and going with Anvil, slugging away in the corner and losing that battle. Hiptoss out of the corner and Neidhart sends him to the floor, and the Nasties regroup again. Back in, Neidhart works the arm, but gets caught in the heel corner and Sags pounds him with forearms, until Neidhart brings Bret back in. Bret fires away in the corner on Sags and gets the legsweep, setting up the second-rope elbow for two. Knobs sneaks in and catches him with a clothesline from the back to turn the tide, however, and Bret gets dumped. Back in, Sags whips Bret around and gets a backbreaker for two. Sags goes to a rear chinlock, but Bret has a nice reversal into a neckbreaker. He tries for the tag, but Knobs draws Neidhart in, thus cutting it off, and goes back to the rear chinlock on Bret. Bret powers out to escape, and again they sucker Anvil in, but their double-team backfires, as Sags whips Knobs into the corner and Bret makes…a false tag to Anvil. The megaphone gets involved, but Knobs hits Sags by mistake, hot tag Neidhart. He cleans house and clotheslines both Nasties, and elbows Knobs down for two. Powerslam gets two. Bret comes in and it’s BONZO GONZO, as he chases Sags around, and into a collision with Knobs. The Harts get the Hart Attack on Knobs, but the ref escorts Bret out, and a helmet to the head of Anvil finishes at 8:55 and we have new champions. Solid stuff with all the tag team formula spots, although about 5 minutes was missing so the full version might have been better or worse, hard to say. ***

- Blindfold match: Jake Roberts v. Rick Martel.

This is a legendary match, for all the wrong reasons, as Martel blinded Jake to set it up. Maybe it was just the cheap rotgut he was drinking at the time? (Oh wait, I see I already made the joke that I inserted into the first rant.  Whoops.)  So yeah, both guys are wearing hoods, which they can obviously see through in reality. The idea is that Jake points to where Martel is, and the crowd cheers to lead him on. They wander around the ring and Jake trips Martel up for two. Martel pounds him on the mat and tries a backdrop, but Jake just moves out of the way. Now, why wouldn’t someone do that all the time? Talk about exposing the inherent logic gaps of the business. They bump into each other again, but they can’t find each other. Nothing like non-contact to spice up a match. Martel finally gets a slam, but Jake just stands up to dodge an elbowdrop. Martel accidentally gropes Damian and retreats to the other corner. Jake finally finds him and grabs a headlock, but Martel dumps him. Martel follows like an idiot and grabs a chair, but of course can’t find him. Back in, Martel gets a backbreaker and the Boston Crab, but Jake powers out. Martel is dazed, DDT, goodnight at 6:09. There’s a reason why you don’t see many blindfold matches…well…ever, really. -***

- Jimmy Snuka v. The Undertaker.

Despite still being a heel, the pop Undertaker gets for the opening “bong” is pretty impressive. Callaway had the character down cold from day one. Snuka charges to start and gets hammered in the corner as a result. Taker chokes away and gets the flying clothesline, and then fights off a charge with a knee that sends Snuka to the floor. Suplex back in, but an elbow misses. Snuka tries to fight back with a headbutt, but misses a crossbody attempt and splats on the floor. Back in, Taker finishes with the tombstone at 4:18. The only purpose was to make Taker look like a killer, and that’s what it did. ½*  (Not as much of an (alleged) killer as Snuka, but at least Taker could remember this the next morning.  Oh yeah, Tamina something something Jimmy Snuka.) 

- Retirement match: Ultimate Warrior v. Randy Savage.

In retrospect, the wrong guy went over. Thankfully, Warrior WALKS to the ring for once, conserving energy instead of blowing up in the first 30 seconds. They fight over a lockup to start and Savage actually gives a clean break, but Warrior powers him down. Savage knees him and goes to the eyes to gain the advantage, but Warrior overpowers him again and he bails. Back in, Warrior clotheslines him and gets a two-handed choke, into an atomic drop, both ways. See, Warrior can mix up the moveset when he needed to. Sherri tries running in, so Warrior tosses Savage into her and slugs Savage down. Savage gets tied in the ropes and Warrior stomps on him, then puts his head down and Savage hits him with the clothesline and goes up. Crossbody (!?) is caught by Warrior, but he just puts him down and slaps him. OOOOOOOO. Savage bails and tosses a chair in to distract the ref, then attacks Warrior from behind, but that gets him nowhere. This is cool because it’s about Savage losing his temper and Warrior not acting like a maniac for once, because it’s so important to him. Warrior stomps a mudhole in the corner and slugs Savage down, but misses a blind charge, his first high-impact offensive attempt, and Sherri gives him a shot on the floor. Savage follows with an axehandle to the floor, but Warrior shoves Sherri away, which again allows Savage to attack him. Again, when Warrior stays calm he’s in control, but when he loses it Savage takes over. Back in, Savage drops a knee for two. Gorilla then makes a ridiculous statement, that it’s the “largest audience in the history of PPV”, like they would know the buyrate an hour into the show. Warrior gets a backslide for two and Savage takes a powder, but Warrior catches him coming in with a clothesline. He misses the shoulderblock, however, and Savage gets two. We hit the chinlock and Warrior powers out, and they criss-cross into a double-clothesline, and both are out. Sherri distracts the ref while Warrior cradles Savage, and that gets two. Warrior loses his temper again and the ref gets bumped as a result, after a botched editing job, and Sherri goes in, hitting Savage with her shoe by mistake. Warrior goes after her again, again making a dumb mistake, and Savage rolls him up for two. Warrior slugs him down, but Savage sends him into the turnbuckle and necksnaps him. Another necksnap on the top and Savage clubs him down, slamming him for two. He goes up with the flying elbow, and then since it’s a special occasion, drops four more. You’d THINK would be enough to beat him, but it only gets two. Given that Savage was going to come back, they shouldn’t have done that, but it didn’t hurt the move in the long run, since Savage would start pinning guys with it again anyway. Warrior fights up, however, and slugs Savage down, setting up the THREE CLOTHESLINES OF DOOM and the gorilla press. Unlike the year before, he has enough strength left to actually pull it off correctly this time. The splash…gets two. The crowd is a little shocked by that. Warrior gets all freaked out and talks to his hands (maybe Jake slipped him a little something before the match?) and apparently the answer is to walk away from the match, which allows Savage to recover. Savage knocks him off the apron and puts him on the railing, but misses the flying axehandle and knocks himself silly. And now it’s the big comeback for Warrior, as he tosses Savage back into the ring, hits him with three shoulderblocks, and ends his career (well, forever IS a short time in wrestling) at 20:47. Easily Warrior’s best match ever, and one of my personal favorites of all-time, as Warrior paced himself and they delivered a great storyline and Savage worked his ass off. ****1/2 This is THE reason to see this show.

- And then of course the big angle which followed, as Sherri turned on the fallen Savage and beat on him, drawing Elizabeth out of the crowd to make the save and thus reunite with Savage and turn him into the #1 babyface in the promotion, moments after his “retirement”. It still works, no matter how many times, and they’d be well advised to try the same thing with Trish and Jericho on Sunday. (Quite the opposite happened, as Trish actually turned on Jericho and somehow boosted her career into another gear as a result. Oh man was Evil Trish HOT.)  Unfortunately, Savage’s descent into dementia in the real world and Elizabeth’s ugly end while shacked up with Lex Luger would mean that the storybook romance wouldn’t have a happy ending, but sometimes it’s nice to remember when it MIGHT have.  (How is it fair that ULTIMATE WARRIOR is the only guy left alive out of this match?) 

- Demolition v. Genichiro Tenryu & Koji Kitao.

This is the Bryan Adams version of Demolition. Crush starts with Kitao, but gets kneed and hammered on the ropes. Mr. Fuji hits him with the cane for good measure, and Smash comes in, but Kitao brings Tenryu in, a young and spry 40 or so at that point, and he goes up with the elbow, but misses. Crush gets a backbreaker and Smash gets a backdrop suplex to set up Decapitation, but Kitao breaks it up. Crush goes back up, but gets shoved off again, and Tenryu hits Smash with an enzuigiri and powerbombs him for the pin at 2:50. No idea what the point of this was, but it sure sucked. Crush & Smash went their separate ways after this. DUD

- Intercontinental title: Mr. Perfect v. Big Bossman.

This was the blowoff of the lengthy Bossman v. Heenan feud, with Bobby insulting Bossman’s mama for months, and Bossman running through the entire Heenan family to get revenge. Standard logic had Bossman going over to finish the job here. Gorilla again repeats the nonsense about the largest PPV audience. (But was it trending on Twitter?)  Just to clarify, VI did a 3.8 buyrate, and this one did 2.8. They exchange slaps to start and Perfect does a spinning sell of one, and Bossman gives him a hairtoss. He slugs Perfect into the corner and gets a clothesline that Perfect oversells with zeal, and then tosses Perfect to the floor. Back in, another shot puts Perfect over the top again. Bossman goes after the Brain, however, and that allows Perfect to send him into the stairs. However, Andre the Giant heads out to even things up. In the ring, Perfect hammers on Bossman, while Andre grabs the IC title. Perfect rams Bossman into an exposed turnbuckle and goes after Andre, and gets the belt in the face for his troubles. Bossman comes back and gets two, and Haku & Barbarian run in for the DQ at 4:35. This didn’t get going at all, which is a shame because Bossman was on a killer run at the time. *

- Earthquake v. Greg Valentine.

Valentine had turned face by means which I don’t remember or care about. Quake attacks him in the corner and powerslams him for two. Blind charge misses and Hammer starts chopping and elbowing. Earthquake finally goes down and Valentine drops another elbow to set up the figure-four, but let’s face it, that’s pretty stupid. Jimmy Hart distracts him and Quake finishes with the butt splash at 3:14. ½*

- The Legion of Doom v. Power & Glory.

The pre-match interview is longer and more entertaining than the match, as the LOD storm in, dispose of Hercules, and finish Paul Roma with the Doomsday Device at 0:55. This ended the usefulness of Power & Glory as a heel team, which was kind of a shame because they were really over and basically being used better than they had been in years. DUD  (On the other hand, fuck Paul Roma.) 

- Ted Dibiase v. Virgil.

Roddy Piper was “training” Virgil to build up to this and was in his corner, but had a motorcycle accident and thus he was on crutches. Virgil starts punching and Dibiase goes down, and bails. Back in, Virgil takes him down, so Dibiase responds with a drop toehold and chops him in the corner. Back elbow and gutwrench suplex get two. Dibiase tosses him and then shoves Piper down, and back in powerslams Virgil. Piper pulls down the ropes, however, and Dibiase is counted out at 4:36. Barely a match. ¼* Sherri makes her return, now aligned with Dibiase

- The Mountie v. Tito Santana.

Quick squash for the Mountie before the main event, as Tito gets a quick flying forearm, only to be shocked with the tazer and pinned at 1:19. DUD

- WWF title match: Sgt. Slaughter v. Hulk Hogan.

It’s weird, because even six years earlier this would have been quite the dream match. They fight over the lockup to start, and Hogan powers him down. The show may have bombed, but the heat is huge. Hogan grabs a headlock and overpowers him again. They brawl outside and Hogan goes after Adnan, which allows Slaughter to hit him with a chair. Hogan no-sells that and tosses him back in, but Slaughter goes to the eyes and slugs away. Back elbow and Slaughter drops some knees to work on the neck, but misses an elbow. Hogan comes back with a clothesline and goes after Adnan, then hits Slaughter with an elbow in the corner. Atomic drop gets two. They brawl outside again and back in, where Hogan gets the Axe Bomber for two. He sends Slaughter into the post and backdrops him out of the corner, then whips him into the corner again. High knee into the corner and Hogan catapults him into the post , as the ringpost proves to be a more effective worker than Hogan. Hogan follows him into the corner with a clothesline and fires away with punches, then back into the other turnbuckle again for two. Hotshot and elbows, and Hogan GOES UP? Adnan trips him up and Slaughter slams him off, and they brawl outside, where Slaughter chokes him out with a cable. Back in, he goes to work on the back and gets a backbreaker for two. He keeps stomping on the back and goes into a Boston crab, using Adnan for extra leverage. Hogan makes the ropes. Back to the back, as he drops knees on it and comes off the top with a knee for two. Weird spot as Adnan stupidly distracts the ref while Slaughter had a clear pinfall on Hogan. Slaughter hits Hogan with a chair, drawing blood, and I assume THAT’S where Adnan was supposed to be distracting the ref. Short clothesline sets up the camel clutch, and only in THIS storyline could a rear chinlock be a deadly finishing move. At least it made sense within the context of the match, and Slaughter’s abuse of the back. Hogan powers out of it like in 1984 against Sheik, but Slaughter apparently saw that match and reverses him into the corner. He covers Hogan with the flag and gets two, and it’s Hulk Up Time. Hogan rips up the flag, which is actually a huge breach of international etiquette, and it’s punch punch punch big boot legdrop and he’s a 3-time champion at 20:23. This was actually quite good for a Hogan match, with Slaughter bumping a lot and carrying the pace and psychology. ***1/2 Taken out of the context of the horrible storyline and tasteless buildup to the match, it’s actually a fine main event.

The Bottom Line:

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: This show gets a MAJOR bad rap, as there’s four ***+ matches and one genuine classic in Warrior-Savage. Sure, the rest is junk, but the crowd was really hot and the main event delivered, so I think it’s a worthwhile show.

Mildly recommended.

The SmarK Retro Rant for WWF Wrestlemania VII

- Yeah, this is a kind of a random choice, I know, but I've been meaning to do the full Anthology version of the show for months now and this is as good a night as any. Since we didn't have PPV in Edmonton at the time, this is the first time I've ever seen anything besides the heavily edited Coliseum version of this show.

- Live from the Los Angeles Coliseum LA Sports Arena

- Your hosts are Gorilla Monsoon and a rotating cast of color commentators, mainly Bobby Heenan. First up is Hacksaw Duggan, introduced with entrance music dubbed over where he had none previously. I don't get that.

- This show, much like Summerslam 93 (upcoming as soon as the Summerslam Anthology gets here from Amazon), is draped in cynical patriotic fervor from the WWF in hopes of drawing a buyrate on the back of the first Iraq war. It didn't work.

The Rockers v. Haku & The Barbarian

FACES OF FEAR~! Odd choice for an opener, as Haku & Barbarian had no backstory together other than being members of the Heenan Family. Haku grabs a headlock on Shawn to start and runs him into the corner, but they criss-cross and Shawn takes him down with a shoulder tackle for one. The Rockers double-team with a hiptoss into a double elbow, but Barbarian DESTROYS them with a clothesline for a rare double 180 somersault sell by the Rockers. Truly a special night. Rockers regroup with a double superkick to put Barbarian on the floor, and the heels get some advice from Heenan. Normally I'd have a joke here, but you'll have to insert your own tonight. (OK, here’s mine:  Don’t ask Marty to pee in the cup for you.)  Back in, Barbarian hammers Marty on the apron, but gets caught with a sunset flip that gets two. Marty tries working the arm, but a double headbutt flattens him. Marty tries a rana, but Barbarian drops him on the top rope and Jannetty is YOUR face in peril. Haku elbows him down for another somersault sell, and Barbarian gets a press slam and draws Shawn in with a cheapshot. Haku and Marty collide and Marty gets two. That was clearly a blown spot, but they worked through it. Haku gets a pair of nasty backbreakers and Barbarian gets two. Clothesline and bearhug follow, and Barbarian whips Marty into the corner to work the back. Marty comes out of there with a flying clothesline, but Barbarian catches him in mid-air with a powerslam. Good spot. Barbarian goes up for the diving headbutt, but it misses, and it's hot tag Shawn. Back elbow for Haku and he slugs away on both heels, and a neckbreaker on Haku gets two. Sunset flip gets two. They double-dropkick Barbarian out of the ring and finish Haku with a Marty missile dropkick into Shawn's flying bodypress at 10:33. Great opener, as the Rockers were peaking as a team just before they self-destructed. ***1/2

Meanwhile, Mean Gene interviews Regis Philbin, Alex Trebek and Marla Maples. One of these things does not have the same cultural status she did in 1991.

Dino Bravo v. Kerry Von Erich

Now here's a depressing match for you. Both guys were rapidly on the way down the slippery slope as it was, and of course it ended badly for both. Bravo hammers away before Tornado can get his robe off, but he makes the comeback and they slug it out in the corner. That goes nowhere and Bravo gets a cheapshot, then drops an elbow for two. Side slam gets two. Bravo comes off the middle rope with a forearm shot that literally misses by a foot, but Kerry comes back with the claw and finishes with the discus punch at 3:10. Short and yet still god-awful. Kerry was just missing everything and couldn't even hit the finisher properly. 1/2*

The British Bulldog v. The Warlord

Warlord pounds away to start, but Bulldog shoulderblocks him out of the ring. Back in, Bulldog with a crucifix, but Warlord drops down to counter and follows with an elbowdrop for two. Bearhug, and he drops Bulldog on the top rope for two. Belly to belly gets two. We hit the chinlock, but Bulldog elbows out and dropkicks him into the corner. Bulldog comes off the middle with a forearm, into a crossbody for two. Piledriver is countered into a backdrop, but Bulldog gets a sunset flip for two. Warlord clotheslines him down and it's time for the Full-Nelson, but he's no Chris Masters so Bulldog is able to power out. And since he's had enough tonight, the powerslam finishes at 8:12. Not too shabby. **1/2

WWF World tag titles: The Hart Foundation v. The Nasty Boys

Bret gets slugged down by Sags right away, but gets the Thesz Press and fights off both Nasties. He slingshots Sags in and starts on the arm, prompting Sags to tag out to Knobs. So Anvil comes in to match and pounds him in the corner, then hiptosses him over the top to clean house. Back in, he goes to the arm, but goes to the wrong corner. He quickly recovers and gets Bret in in for some punishment on Sags in the corner. Russian legsweep and elbow get two. However, he goes after Knobs and turns his back, which opens him up to getting clobbered from behind with a clothesline, and thus he's the face-in-peril. Bret was also clearly the breakout star of the team at this point, and seemed bigger than the match. So Bret goes to the corner and Sags follows with a backbreaker for two. He gets a rear chinlock and Knobs stays on the back with the same. Back to Sags, who adds a neckbreaker for two. Back to the chinlock, but Bret escapes with his own neckbreaker. Knobs comes in and stays on the back, however, forcing Bret to power out. The Nasties try the Harts' own double-whip, but Bret moves and it's the false tag. Heel miscommunication gives us the real hot tag, however, and Anvil clotheslines everyone and gets two on Knobs. Powerslam gets two. Nasties collide again and the Hart Attack results, but Sags hits Anvil with the helmet and Knobs gets the pin and the titles at 12:01. Probably one of the best matches ever for the Nasties, although I still think a match against Money Inc. on a Coliseum video was better. This was more about Bret's coming out party than elevating the Nasties in any meaningful way, and that's fine. ***1/2

Blindfold match: Jake Roberts v. Rick Martel

Martel was such a bland heel that even the old venerable "blinded babyface" angle turned into a bore in his hands. So the concept here is of course that both guys are hooded (and this cut of the show clearly shows that they can see through them), as they stumble around the ring for a bit before Jake gets a fluke rollup for two. Another stupid spot sees Martel putting his head down for a backdrop, but Jake just moves out of the way. Which leads to the question: Why wouldn't you just do that all the time? The gag here is that Jake points to a location and the crowd cheers to indicate Martel's location, Martel runs away, repeat. For amusing the crowd it's a fine bit, but a real match it's awful. Martel gets his hands on Jake and slams him, but misses an elbow because Jake gets up and he can't see it. Like really, any halfway intelligent wrestler would, you know, WRESTLE his opponent to the ground rather than trying typical worked spots. Jake claps his hands to fake out Martel and then tries a takedown from behind, but Martel makes the ropes and we're back to blindly wandering around the ring. This also brings up my biggest beef with this match: MARTEL DOESN'T CHEAT. He's the fucking HEEL, he should be taking off his hood behind the ref's back and then beating the shit out of Jake to get the heat. What kind of a pussy adheres to the stips? Jake tries a headlock and then falls to the floor (Bobby: "Excuse me…Martel! He's on the floor!") Martel follows him out and grabs a chair, but Jake drags him back in. Martel comes back with a backbreaker into the crab, but Jake escapes and finishes, thank god, with the DDT at 8:28. -****

Undertaker v. Jimmy Snuka

Horrible overdub alert: Snuka's music is replaced with generic up-tempo crap, so Fink has to redo his introduction. Really? They don't have the rights to "Superfly" any longer? Did the guy at the beginning threaten to sue-sue-sue them?

Thank you, I've been waiting to work that one in for like 5 years now.

Anyway, Undertaker coldly puts Snuka down with the flying clothesline and drops the elbow, but that misses. Snuka fires back with chops, but tries a bodypress and lands on the floor instead. He fights back in for the apron and tries to slingshot back in, but Taker catches him and finishes with the tombstone at 4:15. And that is 1-0 for Undertaker. Can you even imagine? *  (What I couldn’t imagine is a world where Snuka didn’t produce a daughter, who then grew up to be Tamina, daughter of WWE Legend Superfly Jimmy Snuka.  That’s what I couldn’t imagine.) 

Retirement match: Randy Savage v. Ultimate Warrior

Hey, isn't that the lovely Elizabeth at ringside? More importantly, who's her date? Man, that guy is about to get cock-blocked in the worst way. Warrior's entrance is pretty reserved as compared to his usual, which was kind of the point. Savage goes with the cheapshot to start and pounds away, but Warrior puts him down with a shoulderblock and follows with a clothesline. Warrior chokes him down and gets an atomic drop from both ways, then tosses Savage into Sherri before slugging Savage down again. Macho gets tied in the ropes, but gets free and puts Warrior down with the hooking clothesline, then goes up with the flying bodypress, but Warrior catches him and sets him down to really egg him on. Oooo, BURN. Savage gets frustrated and tosses a chair in for the distraction, then blindsides Warrior, but Warrior calmly pounds him down and stomps a mudhole in the corner. Blind charge misses, however, and Warrior hits the floor, giving Sherri a chance to torment him. Savage follows with a flying axehandle to the floor, and sends Warrior into the post. Another shot from Sherri and they head back in for a Savage kneedrop that gets two. Warrior gets a backslide for two and Gorilla informs us "we've just been informed that this is the largest audience in the history of pay-per-view". Really? In the middle of the show they got those numbers? (Obviously the Miz wasn’t headlining.)  Warrior tries the flying shoulderblock, but Savage moves and gets two. That was a weak spot, actually. Savage goes to a sleeper, but Warrior fights out of it and they criss-cross into the double-clothesline. Warrior reverses a slam into the small package, but the ref is distracted by Sherri and it only gets two. Ref is bumped and Sherri gets more directly involved, but hits Savage with her shoe by mistake. Warrior goes after her, allowing Savage to get a rollup for two. Warrior slugs him down, but Savage sends him into the turnbuckles and it's looking bad for Warrior. Slam gets two and Savage drops the big elbow, then gets really dramatic and drops FOUR MORE of them. You'd think that would do it, but it only gets two. Warrior powers up and makes the comeback with the three clotheslines and gorilla press, but the big splash only gets two. Maybe he should have done FIVE of them like Savage did. Warrior appeals to the gods for help, or maybe just the photographer in the rafters, who knows with this guy. No answer is forthcoming so he decides to walk out of the match and think it over, but Savage makes the decision for him and attacks. Savage tries to drop an axehandle onto the Warrior's throat ala Ricky Steamboat, but he misses and splatters himself on the railing. And Warrior apparently has his message (perhaps God had voice mail and was just on another call at the time) because he heads back in and spears Savage out of the ring. Back in, second verse same as the first. One last shoulderblock and Savage is retired (with a bazillion more World titles yet to come) at 20:45. Still awesome, although the occasional goofed up spot and slightly anti-climactic ending leave it well short of perfection. ****1/2

And of course, Machiavellian Sherri attacks her former meal ticket afterwards like Lady Macbeth, leaving Elizabeth to make the unlikely save, finally getting physically involved on behalf of Savage after years of being the distraction and nothing more. And so they are reunited again and would have been the happy ending to Savage's career, had it actually been the ending. The retirement proved to be pretty inconvenient because suddenly Savage was the #2 babyface in the promotion again and could have easily carried the belt. Anyway, I think I have dust in my eye, let's move on…

Demolition v. Genichiro Tenryu & Koji Kitao

What a strangely random tag team match. Clearly this is after the intermission, which is brutal because we're already two hours into this thing with two title matches to come. The pre-match interviews with Regis trying to interview the Japanese contingent and Trebek antagonizing Demolition are brutal. (On the Score in the segments after the commercials on this week’s RAW, Arda Ocal actually referenced those interviews as one of the dumbest moments in Wrestlemania history, and it’s hard to argue.)  Speaking of brutal, "Demolition" is once again edited out, giving us Spooky Ghost Finkel. Crush attacks Kitao, but he fires back with forearms. Fuji hits him with the cane to give the Demos the advantage, but Kitao doesn't really sell any of Smash's goofy offense. Crush goes to the neck vice and Smash chokes him out. Kitao finally gets a random clothesline out of the corner and brings Tenryu in, but he misses an elbow off the top. Crush comes in with a backbreaker and Smash sets up for the finish, but Kitao pushes Crush off the top and Tenryu hits Smash with an enzuigiri and finishes with the powerbomb at 4:39. I don't know WHAT they were going for here, but it probably wasn't this. Demolition was thankfully put out to pasture as a concept after this. DUD

Intercontinental title: Mr. Perfect v. Big Bossman

Finally, I can watch the uncut match. Another two-death match in a depressing series of them tonight. Four if you're counting the referee and Andre. This was of course the culmination of Bobby Heenan insulting Big Bossman's mother for months, resulting in Bossman mowing through the entire Heenan family. In hindsight, he should have won the title here. They had lots of time to put the belt back on Perfect before Bret got it anyway. Bossman's music is overdubbed with the shitty Attitude era music, but thankfully Perfect's theme survives. Bossman DISRESPECTS THE TOWEL and then spits on Perfect, and you know that's not gonna stand. Bossman tosses Perfect around by the hair and then catches him with a clothesline out of the corner, as Perfect gives us his first somersault sell. Bossman tosses him to start the bumping officially . Back in, Perfect does the somersault bump out of the corner, and Bossman whips him with his belt for good measure. Perfect, however, is SMART and absorbs the punishment long enough to steal the belt, then wraps it around his fist and puts Bossman down with it. They slug it out in the corner and Perfect whips him into the turnbuckles, and then it's a historic Gorilla moment: Mr. Perfect applies an abdominal stretch and Gorilla notes that it's perfectly applied! That is the only time I've heard him fail to gripe about the foot not being hooked properly. Perfect releases and gets the necksnap, and NOW YOU'RE GONNA SEE A PERFECTPLEX, but sadly he's wrong because Bossman reverses for two. Perfect fires back with an inverted version of the necksnap, and that's just nasty. Perfect goes up and lands on Bossman's boot, and Bossman posts him. Perfect bails to escape that, suckering Bossman out and into the STEEL stairs. Luckily, Andre the Giant is in the building to deal with these shenanigans, and he grabs the title belt from the timekeeper and then casually whacks Perfect with it. Perfect's sell of that is epic. You'd think "title change" there, but no, it only gets two as the cavalry runs in for the DQ at 10:44. Much better than the edited Coliseum version, but the finish just totally fell apart because Andre was really slow in hitting his marks. But then, would YOU argue with him? ***1/4

Earthquake v. Greg Valentine

Boy, that Greg Valentine face turn…what more can you say about it? Oh man, Chuck Norris interviewed at ringside many years before he became an internet meme. Quake pounds him in the corner and follows with the powerslam, but Hammer comes out of the corner with an elbow and pounds Quake down. Elbow off the middle rope and Valentine drops the Hammer, but Quake's legs are too big for the figure-four. Another try, but Valentine gets distracted by Jimmy Hart, and Quake puts him away at 3:14. It was what it was. 1/2*

The Legion of Doom v. Power & Glory

If you put together a "Paul Roma's Greatest Moments" DVD, this would probably be high up on the list. Another two-death match. P&G attacks to start, but Animal powerslams Roma and the Doomsday Device finishes him at 1:00. There's your Wrestlemania Moment, Paul. DUD

Ted Dibiase v. Virgil

Virgil's inevitable slow-burn face turn was one where people had been waiting for years to see it, but once they did it they had nowhere else to go with the character. It's a shame that UFC was still a few years away at this point, because a name change and refit into a MMA-style street fighter would have been a good gimmick direction for Virgil. The name change would have been an easy one as well, because he could be like "That was just the name you gave me!" and everyone would completely buy it. In fact, why would he continue calling himself "Virgil" after leaving Dibiase's employ, anyway? Virgil uses the fisticuffsmanship to get Dibiase off his game to start, then slingshots him in from the apron. He clotheslines Dibiase back out again, and gets a back elbow for two in the ring. Dibiase bails and stalls, and back in he accuses Virgil of cheating to buy time. Virgil takes him down, but Dibiase gets his own drop toehold and rams him into the turnbuckles a few times. Piledriver gets two. Suplex gets two. Gutwrench suplex gets two. Virgil bails and Dibiase follows him out and beats up on the crippled Roddy Piper for good measure, because he's AWESOME. Back in, powerslam for Virgil, but Piper uses his crutch to pull down the top rope and Dibiase is counted out at 7:35. This didn't really go anywhere and was far eclipsed by their Summerslam match later that year. *1/2 Dibiase lays the beatdown on Virgil afterwards until Piper saves, but now Sherri changes teams and debuts as Dibiase's new manager for a pairing that should have worked way better than it did. The storylines with Sherri siphoning off Dibiase's millions could have written themselves.

The Mountie v. Tito Santana

And one last squash before the main event, just because this show wasn't ridiculously long enough as it is. Tito gets the flying forearm right away and goes after Jimmy Hart, then hits Mountie with an atomic drop. Shock stick to the gut finishes for Mountie, however, at 1:18. DUD

WWF World title: Sgt. Slaughter v. Hulk Hogan

Hulk works the headlock to start and boots Slaughter down, but goes after Adnan and that allows Slaughter to attack with a chair. Not just any chair, but a Wrestlemania souvenir chair from the looks of it! Those hurt EXTRA, but Hulk no-sells it and they head back in. Slaughter pounds away in the corner and puts Hogan down with an elbow, then drops knees before missing an elbow. Bobby goes off on a funny run on Regis' behalf about how he dislikes Hogan because "the men I managed never got any title shots", which is such a ridiculously blatant lie that you have to love it. Hogan comes back and whips Slaughter around the ring, then backdrops him out of the corner. Catapult into the post and Gorilla declares that we're seeing "The Hulkster of the 90s". No, I'd say the Hulk of the 90s was yet to come, but kudos for trying to be timely. Corner clothesline gets two and Hulk goes AERIAL, but Slaughter catches him coming down. Hulk shakes it off and slams him, then drops the elbows before going up AGAIN. Slaughter slams him off the top to take over, and goes to work on the back. Clothesline misses by a good foot, but Hogan sells it and goes to the floor anyway. Sarge chokes him out with the TV cable, which is carrying the signal to the biggest PPV audience in the history of PPV you know, and back in Slaughter keeps pounding the back. Boston Crab, and Slaughter uses the old Arn Anderson trick of having Adnan push on his head for leverage, but Hogan makes the ropes. Slaughter stays on the back and goes up with a flying kneedrop, but Adnan actually distracts the ref while Slaughter is covering. It still gets two. Slaughter retrieves another chair and hits Hogan right in the bald spot, and we get blood from that. The REAR CHINLOCK OF DEATH seems to signal the end for Hulkamania, but much like those democracy-loving Kuwaitis, Hogan escapes the deathgrip of Iraq and makes the comeback. Big boot, legdrop, and it's mission accomplished and Osama Bin Laden captured all in one pinfall at 20:21. Lex Luger probably would have won by countout. Gorilla declares that the war is now officially over that Hogan has won the title back. I'm sure all the soldiers in Kuwait were relieved to hear that. ***

The Pulse

Holy cow this show is LONG. The full version isn't significantly different from the edited one in terms of making the show better or worse, but 3.5 hours is just way too long for a show that didn't need junk filler like Earthquake v. Valentine and Tito Santana v. Mountie. Still kind of a forgotten and overly maligned show. Mild recommendation.