33. Berzerker vs. British Bulldog - MSG 12/29/91
Here we have the match that would a few months later get cut for time off WrestleMania VIII, and it's a shame as I really liked it. I liked Berzerker far more than Davey Boy in this one. They exchange some decent shoulderblocks and some of that crazy stamina, as Berzerker and Davey Boy run the ropes a bunch and criss-cross. It feels like Berzerker is purposely trying to get his opponents to gas out sometimes. Then Davey dropkicks him which Berzerker kind of no sells, so Davey just clotheslines him to the floor. Berzerker would take two big bumps to the floor in this match; that one off the clothesline, and a later one to establish his aggression, where he ties Davey in the ropes, kicks him a couple times, then charges into a huge backdrop bump to the floor. Ancient Berserker warriors were said to be relentless, as if fighting in a trance like state. And Nord really captures that idea in all his matches, even though it's never really properly put over on commentary as such. But this whole match really highlights the character's relentless high stamina style. He bumps to the floor and immediately rolls back in and starts punching. He wasn't the type of heel to roll to the floor, pound the apron in frustration, get consoled by his manager, have the ref back his opponent off, then get back in. He was a man who kept charging back into battle with wild eyes and Huss aplenty. Berzerker takes most of this match, throwing a bunch of nice stomps to the back of Davey's head, his cool missile shoulderblock, a bunch of nice kicks to the ribs, a really good world's strongest slam for a couple nice pinfalls. He even gets a visual pin with his feet on the ropes, leading to Davey narrowly getting the win with a schoolboy. This would have been better than all but a couple of the matches at WrestleMania VIII.
34. Berzerker/Shawn Michaels vs. Kendo Nagasaki/Kenichi Oya - SWS 1/6/92
Nothing will ever beat the Straight and Strong SWS T-Tex logo. It's so stupid and so brilliant. And look at THAT tag team and try to explain it to me. I could be wrong but I don't think Michaels had even turned on Jannetty yet. Berzerker amusingly whips at both men with his belt as they enter the ring. IMPORTANT: Berzerker strips off his tunic and wrestles in trunks and fur boots for the first time ever. Possibly trying to evoke Brody to the Japanese fans, even moreso than usual? But who cares, because this is really fun. Michaels busts his ass and does work as a heel, which is really satisfying. He was kind of a punky Dynamite Kid type here, bumping big but also hitting sneak shots and nasty stomps. Oddly enough, the crowd could not care less about Berzerker. They don't react to ANYTHING that he does. He has a sequence with Nagasaki where he takes several bumps, including a big one to the floor, and it's just silence. Then Michaels tags in, does a very normal armdrag on Oya, and it gets cheers and applause. It's like they rejected Berzerker outright, on appearance. He kept trying hard, piledriving Nagasaki on the floor, huge chest bump into the ringpost, does the splits bump, yelling at the crowd, nothing. No reaction. I wanted him to just break down and yell "It's just a damn popularity contest with you kids!" but he just kept plugging away. Michaels was at peak form here, working fast spots, landing a low crossbody with a thud, huge flip bump in the corner, brawling into the crowd with Nagasaki (including get tossed over a table into the chairs), and I got way into this match. Very by the numbers tag, but satisfying because of it. Berzerker pins Oya with his falling slam. Michaels and Berzerker cutting off the ring to work over Oya was a real highlight, super fun match.
35. Berzerker vs. Fumihiro Niikura - SWS 1/8/92
A pretty dominant Berzerker win. Niikura is a guy I like but a name pretty much forgotten. He was not flashy, but I liked what he brought. My favorite Berzerker competitive matches tend to be ones where he's the aggressor who starts missing moves. This one was worked more 50/50, but in that style where one guy takes his 50 up front, the other guy gets his 50, then the first guy wins. That's a common match format, but almost always unsatisfying. It would be interesting to figure out a couple of good matches that use that format as I'm sure there out there, maybe right under my nose, but I imagine it would take some creativity to make it work. As I think about it I'm sure there are several Fujiwara and Ishikawa matches that would techincally fall into that match structure. Here Berzerker dominates to start, Niikura comes back with a cool punch combo and a nice DDT that really plants Berzerker, but Berzerker wins fairly easily with his falling slam, and then destroys a turnbuckle pad after the match in tribute to George "the Animal" Steele, 25 years into the future. (Sadly, the only online link I could find, was heavily clipped)
"Nobody beats my Berzerker in the Royal Rumble!" ~Mr Fuji
"This is the Berzerker's match! You take 29 other guys and throw 'em over the top rope! And whether you like it or not, you're going to have a new World Wrestling Federation CHAMPION! Huss! Huss!" ~Berzerker
36. The Royal Rumble - 1/19/92
Sadly, their words were not prophetic. Somebody DID beat the Berzerker in the Royal Rumble, and it did NOT end up being the Berzerker's match. More has been written online about this Rumble than probably every other Rumble combined, so I'm not going to waste too much time recapping this thing. If you like the Royal Rumble, odds are you've gone out of your way to watch this one. It had tons of kayfabe major stars in it, and Flair won the title in an awesome performance that saw him take a dozen big bumps. Even right from his first lock up as the 3rd participant he was bumping like crazy, and that really didn't stop as the match went on. It's a great Rumble, lots of neat one on one match up between guys who match up well, the eliminations were handled smart, it really holds up. The whole thing plays nicely on past histories, with stuff like Kerry Von Erich going right at Flair, Valentine going after him, etc. Flair has history with tons of the guys in the match, which made the layout of it make even more sense. Flair's performance overshadows Piper's really great performance. He's not in for as long as Flair, but Piper is such a great battle royal worker, knowing when to pour on the energy and when to hold back. Berzerker sadly doesn't get much of a run at all. He comes in fairly late at 22, and Heenan generously puts him over as a major threat. "What's his specialty!!?? How does he win matches!?" Which, yeah, the guy literally wins matches by tossing guys over the top rope. THIS IS HIS MATCH TO LOSE!! He gets saddled with Duggan and IRS which stinks, as Flair, Piper and Undertaker are all in the ring and all infinitely more interesting opposition. He does get to stomp Savage a bit, and in a moment I had forgotten Berzerker, IRS and Undertaker all work over Virgil. Guys...you may have overestimated how much manpower you would need to combat Virgil. Berzerker keeps getting sucked into the Duggan vortex, although really that makes tons of story sense as Duggan pinned him at Survivor Series. So I don't love it, but I appreciate the layout. Berzerker does get some nice moments spearheading a group attack on Hogan, holding him for Undertaker and IRS. Hogan then clotheslines Taker over, and sadly, Berzerker charges at Hogan and takes a great backdrop bump to the floor. He lasted a little over 10 minutes. BUT as long as we're sticking with kayfabe, Berzerker getting eliminated also makes the most sense, as he takes more bumps over the top to the floor than anybody else in the fed. He's high risk/high reward, like early Randy Johnson, tons of strikeouts and tons of walks. He's great at throwing guys out, and highly susceptible to being thrown out. The inscrutable Berzerker, everybody.
37. Berzerker vs. Big Boss Man - Prime Time Wrestling 2/17/92
Well this was an awesome 3 minutes. I hadn't realized any of their house show matches were actually taped so this is a treat, and it easily gets the full WorldWide point. It's fast paced and they make the most of their short runtime, doing a big punch exchange to start and then going into some stiff shoulderblocks. Berzerker suckers Bossman into a shoulderblock and hits a big boot, and from there we get Bossman taking some big bumps for him. Berzerker does a spot we haven't seen him do, draping Bossman over the middle rope and standing on his shoulders, holding onto the top rope and riding him like Chris Elliott riding the strong swimmer in Cabin Boy. After he hops off, Fuji blasts him in the throat with the cane. Great spot. Berzerker hits a nice kneedrop, and then misses a big one off the middle rope, Bossman comes back with a lariat that takes both men to the floor, and then they brawl to the inevitable count out. After the count out Berzerker flips out undoes all the mats at ringside, and slams Bossman on the concrete.
38. Berzerker vs. Randy Savage - Battle of the Superstars 2/18/92
A smarter worked version of Savage's formula match from a few years later, where he would sell for 3 minutes, hit a guy with a bodyslam and win with the elbow. Berzerker bullies him around, with Savage bumping like crazy to the floor three different times. This was all about Berzerker being aggressive, and Macho Man trying to weather the storm. Berzerker would grab him, throw him to the floor, then drag him back inside. It didn't have a ton of trademark Berzerker offense, no falling powerslams, no big boots. Just grabs Savage, throws him to the floor. Savage takes a couple great bumps to the floor, one big one over the top. Berzerker chases, clears the ringside mats, and bodyslams Savage on the concrete. Savage dodges a huge kneedrop back inside, rushes towards Berzerker and eats a big boot. We see our first ref bump (they really weren't common back then) when Savage eats a bodyslam and his boots hit the ref. With the ref down, Savage manages to get Fuji's cane, delivers a cane shot off the top, then hits the elbow. Savage had certainly slimmed down at this point, and looked so small next to Berzerker, but they found a solid way to work in the size difference.
39. Berzerker vs. Jim Brunzell - MSG 2/23/92
Well this wasn't exactly what I was expecting. First, I was surprised that Brunzell was in WWF this late (turns out he worked there through early '93, mainly filling out house shows) and second, I would not have expected him to take 75% of a match against Berzerker. That's really weird, right? We get Brunzell taking almost all of the match, before Berzerker eventually hits a big boot and then catches a Brunzell crossbody and wins with the world's strongest slam. Up until then it was allllll Jumpin' Jim. But we don't get a lot of wild Berzerker bumps because Brunzell isn't usually a guy who gets a whole lot of offense in matches, so you get Berzerker bumping off dropkicks, stomping around, that kind of thing. He does do his awesome splits bump, and Brunzell is kind of a hilarious guy to do that bump against. For what it's worth, Brunzell looked really good and could clearly still go in '92, this just wasn't the kind of match I was hoping for.
40. 20 Man Battle Royal - MSG 2/23/92
To run through the entrants of this little treat: Berzerker, first one introduced!! He is the immediate top pick of Heenan. British Bulldog, Rick Martel, Hercules, The Bushwhackers, Skinner, Repo Man, Warlord, Chris Walker, Kato, Jim Brunzell, Roddy Piper, Nasty Boys, Undertaker, Big Boss Man, Sid Justice, Ric Flair, & Hulk Hogan. Berzerker was so great during all of the introductions. Remember he was the first one introduced, and everybody got individual entrances. So he had literally 10 minutes in the ring before the match even starts. That's a lot of time to occupy yourself, and he does it with aplomb. He barks at British Bulldog from the aisle way as Bulldog comes out, stomps around the ring, at one point sneaks up behind Finkel and HUSSes right into his ear, startling him. And this battle royal is bullshit because Berzerker is the second guy eliminated. Fucking Chris Walker and Luke Williams were still in there! So many potential match-ups wasted. And this battle royal is filled with a lot of weird match-ups. Every time I got a glimpse of Luke Williams, he was throwing jabs at the Warlord. Just tossing right hands, for like 4 minutes. Hogan was a very good royal worker here, having a contest with Taker to see who could throw better uppercuts at Berzerker's beard, getting into a chop battle with Flair, selling for random attacks by guys like Skinner. But no excuse for Berzerker going out before Kato or Jim Brunzell. BUT, within kayfabe, I have pointed out that Berzerker is high risk high reward in battle royals. Dude is aggressive and dangerous, but his aggression also makes him vulnerable. So, he runs at Hogan with a big boot, misses, and gets tossed over the top. Before Hercules and Skinner. But even with the absurdly quick Berzerker elimination, this was a pretty fun battle royal, if you like battle royals (and I do). Piper had a great showing, his energy is essential in something like this. Martel took a wild elimination bump, Piper did a double clothesline to eliminate Flair AND Repo Man, Sid threw a bunch of knees and leaned 2 feet away from Hogan's punches, which looked terrible. This was a fun battle royal, if you like battle royals. I would have been way into this if I was there live, no matter if I was 11 or 36.
41. Berzerker vs. Don Richter - Prime Time Wrestling 2/24/92
Richter looks like Nick Turturro after he chubbed out, but for a guy I've never heard of he is AWESOME. He likely concusses himself taking super fast back bumps, making Berzerker's pump kick look like a gunshot, taking a chokeslam onto his shoulders, and taking two falling slams and making his leg spasm like Terry Funk while on the mat selling. No clue who he was, but he got murdered here. In fact, here's the obituary for a man named Don Richter, a man who proudly served his country in the Korean War, operated a dairy farm for over 50 years, had 31 (!) grandchildren, and is decidedly not the Don Richter who got murdered by Berzerker. No, this Don Richter died of old age, having lived a love-filled life.
"American fans, look at my Berzerker. He's my software. That's right, he's like a computer: When I push different buttons, he reacts! When I tell him to put a lot of pain and pressure HE DOES to allll his American opponents hahaha" ~Mr Fuji
"Every morning of me and Fuji's life, we say we're gonna mess someone up REAL REAL BAD today, and we ALWAYS DO, EVERY STINKIN' TIME! Well in the World Wrestling Federation, my opponents drop one by one, every stinkin' time!" ~Berzerker
More Berzerker Tomorrow!!
COMPLETE & ACCURATE BERZERKER!
Labels: Berzerker, Big Boss Man, British Bulldog, Fumihiro Niikura, Jim Brunzell, Kendo Nagasaki, Kenichi Oya, Randy Savage, Shawn Michaels