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Loss

[1991-12-29-MSG, NY] Bret Hart vs Ted DiBiase

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These guys are pros and obviously know what they're doing, but they also didn't seem to be all that interested in having a great match. They were having a solid one and just going through the motions without ever kicking into high gear. This was a three-star match and is pretty well-worked, and I liked the fake finish with Sherri ringing the timekeeper's bell before the real draw finish. But it's not something that is really memorable, even if it is better than most 20-minute draws the WWF ran on house shows.

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A bit too headlocky for the first few minutes with them just lying in the hold. Cute spot from Bret where he waves at DiBiase after launching him over the ropes with an atomic drop. Sherri plays time keeper and rings the bell when DiBiase has the Dream on. Worth a try but referee wasn’t buying it. They have better matches than this. DiBiase continues to be protected.

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These guys know all the ins and outs of the constricting WWF style, so this is pretty good for a mid-card house show match. But, that WWF style tends to suppress great mid-card house show/TV matches, so that's where it tops off. There's a good hot closing stretch but a lot of those standard transitions you can see coming, like the heel getting his foot caught. Finish looked partially blown to me--as though Sherri was supposed to yank on Bret earlier and get him counted out.

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Agree that this was a ho-hum match but it felt really basic and bare minimum stuff until the final five minutes. Sherri being active on the outside really adds so much to her matches and moments like her ringing the bell and ripping Bret's singlet make a match more memorable than usual. Bret's dive to the outside was really sick on replay as well.

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This really didn't feel like much at all. It should have, but it didn't. I remember when the IC title was just as big a deal to the fans as the World title, even more so because you knew that Backlund/Hogan/Savage wasn't losing to just anyone. The IC title match was the best chance to see a title switch on any given night, and the announcers really hyped it up as a second main event on commentary.

 

But this one could have been wrestled at any point in either man's WWF tenure- in fact, it was at least twice on television, including in April on SMNE- and not been much different. It wasn't worked with the urgency or intensity that a match to determine the number two wrestler in a promotion should be, although there were some nice spots here and there. Generally, it was just another twenty-minute workrate draw, the kind of match Vince liked to put on every so often throughout the Hulkamania era to prove that this really was a wrestling promotion and not the steroid circus his detractors liked to think it was.

 

I could tell it wasn't going to be much special when Gino and Bobby spent the first six or seven minutes focusing on Sherri, and not in a professional context, either. Most of you know that I've come to expect and enjoy their byplay over the years, but they're usually able to at least mix it with some wrestling talk when the match is important enough. Here, it clearly wasn't, and they must have known it going in. The IC belt might as well have not even been on the line given how often it was mentioned, and at no time was a DiBiase nearfall punctuated with, "We could have a new champion here in Madison Square Garden!" Heenan tried some halfhearted strategy talk, but Gino wasn't interested except for a couple of times when he ripped each man for not attempting his finisher (which Teddy eventually did, but not Bret).

 

Of course, there weren't nearly as many nearfalls as there should have been, either. Loss has it right; Bret and Teddy knew they were going twenty to fill time, so they went out and went through their spots competently, but with little sense of excitement or drama. Sherri outworked them both, and the spot where she rang the bell when Teddy had Bret in the Million Dollar Dream was an inspired idea that was wasted here, quite frankly. So, for that matter, was Bret's dive over the top onto Teddy toward the end. It absolutely had a place in a match between these two, but it should have come in one that was more heated and with a greater sense of something being at stake.

 

Of course, we had the requisite hype for the Rumble, which I don't mind in and of itself but which has a tendency to overwhelm the action going on right in front of the viewer. Maybe it's the way Gino and Bobby phrase things, but there seemed to be a sense of, "This match might be nice, but it means nothing. The only stuff that really matters is coming January 19 on pay-per-view!" Way to treat your so-called mecca, Vince, and no wonder MSG Network dumped you. I'm sure the ratings were going downhill too, but networks like MSG Network are always looking for cheap programming, so they could have at least done a highlight show each month had they wanted to. But why waste airtime on a product that not even the man putting it on truly cares about?

 

One last pet peeve: Title matches should always have a one-hour time limit at house shows, even if everyone knows they won't go that long. It sets them apart from the other preliminary and midcard matches. I can understand having special time limits for TV shows and pay-per-views that only have a limited amount of time on the air, but house shows could (theoretically, at least) go all night long by now; the 11PM State Athletic Commission curfew hadn't existed for years.

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