Hey there its HSM back again with another review. This time it’s the much anticipated ‘Wrestling’s Most Incredible Steel Cage Matches’. For many years the steel cage match was a defining match, the match to settle a score, to end a feud, to find a winner once and for all. Of course these days a cage match is just one of many gimmick matches regularly seen on television but go back 10, 15 or even 20 years and the cage match was THE match. Well, finally the WWE have made use of its extensive back catalogue of wrestling and attempted to put together a Video/DVD that shows the finest cage matches in wrestling. Does it succeed? Read on to find out
Length: Video: 120 mins / DVD: 338 mins
- Bob Backlund vs. Pat Patterson 1979
- Bruno Sammartino vs. Larry Zbysko 1980
- Bob Backlund vs. Jimmy Snuka 1980
- Jimmy Snuka vs. Don Muraco 1983
- Magnum TA vs. Tully Blanchard 1985
- Hulk Hogan vs. Paul Orndorff 1987
- Ric Flair vs. Ronnie Garvin 1987
- Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart 1994
- Isaac Yankem vs. Bret Hart 1995
- Triple H vs. Mankind 1997
- Triple H vs. The Rock 1999
- Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Mr McMahon 1999
- Edge & Christian vs. Hardy Boyz 2000
- Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit 2001
- Edge vs. Kurt Angle 2002
This video starts in 1979 and runs in chronological order right up until last year. How many people have heard the names Bruno Sammartino and Don Muraco but never seen them wrestle? I’m willing to bet a fair few of you. Well in this video you will get to see some of these legendary wrestlers in action and I’m sure you wont be disappointed. It must have been a difficult job attempting to pick the 15 best cage matches and probably most people will have a view on matches which are not on here but feel they should be but I believe these 15 matches sum up the history of the cage match pretty much perfectly.
Highs and Lows
Jonathan Coachman is your host for this video and to be fair he does quite a good job of setting the scene for each match before we see it. Gerald Brisco also provides a lot of background for the matches and he talks in detail about a number of matches throughout the video. In some cases we are treated to promos from the wrestlers involved to help give us more of an idea of the circumstances surrounding each match. Unfortunately the amount of highlights shown of each match varies greatly. While some matches are shown almost entirely there are some, which are brushed over very quickly. The Sammartino vs. Zybysko match in particular is only given a brief mention, which I feel is a shame. If you are going to use classic footage such as this then surely it is better to go into great detail and possibly give the more recent matches a little less time as they are more likely fresher in the memory. Saying this however it has to be said that a lot of thought seems to have gone into the order of these matches.
First up of course is Bob Backlund vs. Pat Patterson. Of course more recently Patterson has been known as one of Mr McMahon’s infamous ‘stooges’ along with Gerald Brisco but he was in fact a great wrestler. Similarly Bob Backlund is probably remembered for his slightly bizarre run with the WWE in the mid 90’s.The match took place in Madison Square Garden and saw Backlund defending his (at the time) WWWF title.
The Bruno Sammartino vs. Larry Zybysko match as mention previously mentioned is not shown for long, in fact I would say we are shown maybe 30 seconds of footage and that’s it.
Bob Backlund vs. Jimmy Snuka. Now as most of you know Snuka is famous for leaping from the top of a cage. But it is a little known fact that his first ever leap off the cage was actually in this match. Most people only tend to remember his leap in his match against Muraco thanks mainly to a certain autobiography by one Mick Foley. Snuka loses after head butting Backlund who somehow manages to fall backwards through the cage door to the outside for the win.
This of course leads us nicely into the next match, which is Jimmy Snuka vs. Don Muraco which as I’ve just stated features THAT leap from the cage which has been shown countless times on modern day WWE programming. This match is for Muraco’s Intercontinental Title and the crowd was really hot. In the previous match Snuka was the heel but in this match he is the face and is extremely over which is also due to the fact that Muraco has tons of heat. Before the match we are treated to a classic Snuka promo with Vince McMahon where Snuka basically flips out and starts throwing chairs all over the place. Looking at it now its actually quite funny but I’m sure at the time it was brilliant.
Next up we have Magnum TA vs. Tully Blanchard. Yet another promo and this time it’s from Magnum TA, which pretty much describes the background to their entire feud. I had been told by people that have seen this match before that it is brutal and they were not wrong. There is a lot of blood in this match and at one point Blanchard even attempts to stab Magnum in the face with a piece of wood which Magnum blocks and actually does the exact same thing back to Blanchard so if your easily offended then it maybe best to skip this match. However if you get past the brutality you will be treated to an excellent match.
Now we have Hulk Hogan vs. Paul Orndorff which took place on Saturday Night Main Event (remember that?). This is the first match that doesn’t have any blood in it. I must mention a classic line by Jesse Ventura, which made me laugh out loud. At one point Orndorff is almost over the cage only to be pulled back when Hogan grabs his hair which leads to Ventura saying “Orndorff would be the champion if he were bald”. Well I found it funny anyway…I was sceptical about this match but I have to say it’s surprisingly good for a match involving Hulk Hogan.
Now we jump back to the NWA and Starrcade 1987 and Ric Flairs quest to regain the NWA heavyweight title. This is the second of two Flair/Garvin cage matches from the autumn of this year. In the first Ric Flair had lost the heavyweight title and this was the return bout. We are treated to a classic Flair promo in which he explains how much the title means to him and how bad he wants it back, classic stuff! This is a significant match due to the fact that the fans actually started cheering Flair, who was the heel, halfway through the match. Big deal you may say but back then it was unheard of and was very much a first. Quite simply a great Ric Flair match from his prime.
Now we jump forward 7 years to SummerSlam 1994 for Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart. The two brothers met with the WWF Title at stake. We are shown a promo of Owen in the empty ring with the cage around it as he declares there will be a new reign within the Hart family. Now there’s a lot of debate as to whether this, or their Wrestlemania encounter was the better match but whichever is your favourite you cannot deny that this was a classic encounter in which we really saw the best of both Owen and Bret. There is an unbelievable amount of close calls in this match and some very nice spots off the cage. You can tell both men really put their heart (no pun intended) and soul into this match.
Next up is Bret Hart vs. Isaac Yankem (aka Kane) and before the match is shown Jerry Lawler explains the background of the match. Of course at the time Bret was in a bitter feud with Jerry Lawler and Lawler supposedly brought in his personal dentist Yankem to take Bret out. Now during the match Lawler, who was ringside doing commentary, interfered on Yankem’s behalf which brought out the mighty Gorilla Monsoon who ordered that Lawler be placed in his own cage and hoisted up high over the ring to stop him interfering. Lawler then informs everyone how he gave himself a nosebleed for added affect and then basically that’s it! Yup that’s it no more footage of the match, nothing. This does raise the question of why put this match on the video in the first place? To be honest I’m not sure why and this is probably the weakest point of the video as it serves little purpose apart from letting us know that Jerry Lawler can make his own nose bleed.
Moving swiftly on we come to Triple H vs. Mankind at SummerSlam 97. We are shown that famous footage of Mick Foley leaping of the roof of his house and it is mentioned that this was a chance for Foley to live his dream and emulate his hero Superfly Jimmy Snuka. This match as you would expect involves lots of interference from Chyna including a vicious shot to Foleys head by swinging the door shut on him and of course lots of big bumps by Foley. Foley does indeed fly from the top of the cage, not quite in the Superfly fashion but impressive all the same.
Skip forward 2 years and Hunter Hearst Helmsley has become Triple H and is now the WWE Champion and is defending against The Rock. This next match actually took place in the UK at the Rebellion PPV. This is another match that is very heavily edited and only brief highlights are shown. The British Bulldog is involved in what is a slightly confusing end to this match, which once again involves Chyna using the cage door to devastating effect.
Moving on we come to the feud that seemed to dominate the WWE in 1999. Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Mr. McMahon. This match took place at St Valentines day massacre. We are shown quite a funny little promo recapping some of the events building up to this match and it does a pretty good job of demonstrating what a fierce feud this was. We then leap to the match, which took an age to get started due to Mr. McMahon’s refusal to enter the cage. Vince actually pulls off quite an impressive looking bump through the announcer’s table during this match and he sells it like he’s half dead. Of course Austin being Austin wont leave it at that and attacks Vince, as he is being stretchered away. The finish of this match is remembered for one reason, the WWE debut of one Paul Wight or as he is more commonly known, The Big Show. Show actually throws Austin into the cage, which then gives way-allowing Austin to win the match, but it was certainly an impressive debut for The Big Show.
Next up from Unforgiven 2000 is a The Hardy Boyz vs. Edge & Christian. These two teams are best known for their excellent TLC matches and as a result most people tend to forget that they had quite a good cage match at Unforgiven. Highlights of this match are pretty short and when we join it Jeff is already on the outside of the cage. As you would expect there is a slightly botched highspot from Jeff Hardy but overall this isn’t a bad match. I just think that the TLC matches were so great that this one doesn’t quite measure up to them.
The penultimate match is Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit from a 2001 edition of RAW. This match features the added bonus of Stone Cold Steve Austin doing guest commentary as well as running interference at various points. Highlights of this are when Angle misses a huge moonsault off the top of the cage and Benoit hitting a head butt also from the top of the cage. This is a really good match as it came before both men started suffering from neck trouble so you really get to see the best of them.
Last but by no means least we have Edge vs. Kurt Angle from Smackdown in 2002. This match came just 2 weeks after their infamous hair vs. hair match, which of course Angle lost. We join this match pretty late in with Edge already bleeding heavily. Both men trade finishers with Angle hitting the spear and then Edge hitting the Angle slam with reversing Kurt’s ankle lock into one of his own. Edge eventually gets the win with a very nice spear from the top of the cage and that rounds up the action on the video.
I really enjoyed watching this video/dvd it has a great mix of matches from the mid 70’s right up until last year. Despite a couple of slightly dubious choices being on there it has pretty much something for everyone. For older fans it is somewhat of a trip down memory lane while for younger fans it shows them just how wrestling used to be. The only thing I would have liked to see was maybe one or two matches from the early 90’s WCW era but to be honest I was more than satisfied with it and with so many DVD extras there is more than enough wrestling to keep you entertained. The video is very good but the DVD is without a doubt excellent.
The following matches from the video are shown in their entirety.
- Bob Backlund vs. Pat Patterson
- Jimmy Snuka vs. Don Muraco
- Magnum TA vs. Tully Blanchard
- Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart
- Triple H vs. Mankind
- Edge vs. Kurt Angle
As well as these there are 5 extra complete matches.
- Bruno Sammartino vs. Ivan Koloff 1975
- Bob Backlund vs. Stan Hansen 1981
- Ric Flair vs. Dusty Rhodes 1986
- Rock ‘n’ Roll Express vs. The Andersons 1986
- Shawn Micheals vs. Marty Jannetty 1993
Now if the video wasn’t impressive enough then the DVD extras truly are the icing on the cake so to speak. 6 of the earlier mentioned matches are shown in full as well as these 5 extra matches. This all comes to over three and a half hours of bonus footage.
The Sammartino/Koloff match from 1975 is frankly, not a classic by any means and consists of mainly very basic moves but due to the fact that I had never seen either guy wrestle before I still enjoyed it. Backlund/Hansen is a pretty fierce fight and it is certainly surprising to see Backlund be so aggressive and intense when all I remember him as is the mad guy who lost the WWF title to Kevin Nash in 6 seconds. Next up is Flair vs. Dusty Rhodes, now I’ve never been a fan of Dusty Rhodes and this match pretty much shows why. I’ve never enjoyed any of his matches and frankly Flair tries his hardest to make something out of it but it still fails to produce and to be honest I actually found this match a little boring. The next match more than makes up for it though. The Rock ‘n’ Roll express vs. The Andersons is a very entertaining match. If there’s one thing this match shows it’s just how over with the fans Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson were. I haven’t really seen anything of them in their prime and this match only makes me want to see more. The final bonus match is Shawn Micheals vs. Marty Jannetty, now this is somewhat of a hidden gem, as it has never before been seen on TV. It was originally released on Coliseum Video back in 1993. This is a pretty run of the mill match and fairly standard stuff for the two of them with the predictable interference from Diesel on the outside but its pretty entertaining none the less even if the crowd does seem pretty flat.
All in all this is one excellent set of DVD extras.
DVD Hidden Extra’s (Easter Eggs)
Courtesy of www.dvdeastereggs.com:
- Under “Chapters” highlight Sammartino vs Zbysko press, “right” twice. You will see a background match between Zbysko and Sammartino where Zbysko turns heel, with Bruno and Vince doing commentary.
- Highlight Flair/Garvin: Press “right” 2 times again. You get the bonus match of Garvin previously defeating Flair in another cage match.
Disc 1: under “Extras”
- Highlight Muraco/Snuka: press “right” twice, you get Rogers Corner with Buddy Rogers interviewing Don Muraco, Snuka enters and they get into an altercation. Good background to match. Great footage.
Disc 2: under “Extras”
- Highlight Bret/Owen, press “right” a couple times, you get a great interview inside the cage with Owen and Neidhart conducted by Vinnie Mac, back in the good-old-days when all Vince did was announce