From 1985 until 1997 all of the official World Wrestling Federation home video releases were distributed by Coliseum Video. This period was a golden age in both professional wrestling as well as home video as the rise of VHS coincided with the 1980’s professional wrestling boom. As video stores popped up in every neighborhood, Coliseum Video endeavored to fill the sports sections of these mom and pop locales with the finest in World Wrestling Federation action. Coliseum Video released over 200 WWF tapes before the company was folded in 1997 and replaced with WWF Home Video. In this series I will reflect on the tapes from the glory days of the WWF without dwelling on detailed match descriptions or star ratings, but rather remarking on humorous observations and taking a broad overall look at each release.
Hello everyone and welcome to another edition of The Coliseum Video Rewind. Sit back, relax, and prepare to be royally entertained as I break down two hours of classic World Wrestling Federation action presented to us by our friends at Coliseum Video. Today we take a look at a 1993 release titled “Invasion of the Bodyslammers” which compiles matches from several sources spanning 1992 and early 1993. I originally purchased this tape on eBay in late 1999 after several months of deliberation. I had passed on this tape multiple times in favor of different Coliseum Video presentations as the lineup didn’t strike me as particularly impressive. Over time as I picked up and enjoyed other 1993 tapes I decided to take a chance on this. It wasn’t a very expensive risk as this release seems to have been overproduced; it can easily and cheaply be found sealed to this very day. In fact, I recently found an eBay listing containing several sealed cases of Invasion of the Bodyslammers.
After a 1993 King of the Ring promo we are greeted by the familiar Coliseum Video columns accompanied by some pretty terrible sounding “horror” music. Although the title is obviously a riff on the movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers, nothing else on the tape attempts to play up on the horror theme. Instead we are introduced to the proceedings by Lord Alfred Hayes along with the Reverend Slick and his protege The Mighty Kamala inside of a bowling alley. The angle was that Slick had taken the newly turned babyface Kamala under his wing and was going to teach him how to be a man rather than an animal. Today as part of that endeavor Slick is going to instruct Kamala in the art of bowling. He claims that he has bowled a perfect 300 game 27 times before, which I assume is an exaggeration of approximately 27 times. All the while Kamala has been hollering in the background, wandering and looking completely lost. The first challenge Slick faces is convincing Kamala to wear bowling shoes as he is completely bare foot but his encouragement is unsuccessful.
We then cut to our first match pitting Earthquake against Yokozuna. Our commentators are Jim Ross with Macho Man Randy Savage and Bobby the Brain Heenan who welcome us to the Invasion of the Bodyslammers which means that the commentary was recorded exclusively for this video cassette. As a result the announcers react to the matches and their order as they are happening which is an unusual move for Coliseum Video. This match apparently took place at a WWF Superstars taping as the banner is clearly hanging above the ring. Action wise there isn’t much to talk about as Yokozuna finishes Earthquake with the Bonzai Drop in approximately 3 minutes. Yokozuna and Earthquake are clearly heading in opposite directions at this point in their careers.
Next up is The Nasty Boys vs The Beverly Brothers with a Prime Time Wrestling banner now hanging above the ring. This match is clearly from a different venue than the first one although the announcers don’t acknowledge this. Heenan chimes in that the Nasty Boys are better looking than Mike McGuirk and so is he. For those unaware Mike McGurik is the blonde haired female ring announcer. Heenan’s insult is not far off the mark honestly. Ross comments that he doesn’t expect this to be a scientific wrestling match which is his way of saying he’s expecting a real crap fest in the ring. One of the Beverly Brothers does execute a nicely done neck breaker during the encounter however, which is something I mark out for since “the E” doesn’t permit such moves these days. As the match commences one of the Beverly’s delivers a blatant low blow causing Ross and Savage to debate the definition of a low blow. Savage contends that a shot to the foot is also a low blow but he considers the move we saw “the dirtiest in the game”. Eventually there’s a melee involving all four participants at which point the official is knocked down prompting him to call for the bell. The result is ruled a double DQ. I didn’t expect much going in but I was at least entertained which is more than I can say about the current WWE product.
After the match we cut back to Slick and Kamala. A bowling ball painted to match Kamala’s body paint is presented as a gift from Lord Alfred Hayes. At first Kamala is afraid of the ball but after some coaxing from Slick he picks it up and seems to be quite taken with it.
Lord Alfred sends us back to our announcers as we see Razor Ramon walking down to ringside for his match against the Undertaker. The Brain heckles Jim Ross and people from Oklahoma for enjoying bowling which Ross says is considered a great Friday night back home. As the Undertaker is making his way to the ring Macho Man notes that he can’t believe someone who surrounds himself with so much darkness can bring so much light to people around the world. The announcers then discuss how surprised they are that Undertaker is a babyface which I consider surprising as well during this time frame. At least the WWF listened to their fans at this point however. Well, sometimes. Razor is in phenomenal shape here which I can only assume is because he hasn’t started hitting the drugs and booze with his cliq buddies yet. The match itself is what I would call Razor and Undertaker’s standard house show match as the same basic bout between the two can be found on different Coliseum Video presentations emanating from different venues. Razor hits 5 elbow drops in a row on the Undertaker who looks like he’s down and out. He then turns around and swipes the urn from Paul Bearer who is up on the ring apron which causes Undertaker to do his patented sit up. Razor smartly nails Undertaker with the urn but he still can’t score the pinfall victory over the deadman. Undertaker then goes for the chokeslam which Randy Savage refers to as a “gurgle”. Razor ends up escaping the ring and walking down the entry way being counted out which is also the same result of their other contests I’ve seen. Heenan claims that Razor had actually left the match under protest.
Our fourth contest pits Bam Bam Bigelow against Typhoon. Heenan says that it’s only the fourth match and we’ve already seen 18,000 lbs of wrestlers, which I assume is his way of saying we haven’t seen any real wrestling on this tape so far. Macho Man says that this is the 4th official in 4 matches meaning that we are getting quality over quantity as he then credits WWF paper president Jack Tunney for a job well done. I’m not sure I understand the point of that statement. As the two grapplers tie up you can see a lot of bounce in the ring. They continue to discuss the size of the athletes we’ve seen prompting Macho Man to say he is one of the smallest men in the World Wrestling Federation. His comment got me thinking about his run with the company and how he was never presented as a smaller man despite being about the same size as Bret Hart and only a little larger than Shawn Michaels; each of whom were considered smaller competitors. During the action Bam Bam yanks on Typhoon’s tights and pulls him forward and down, causing him to drop and smash his face on the middle turnbuckle. Heenan quips “the last time Typhoon dropped to his knees and lunged like that somebody had an order of Little Debbie snack cakes.” Bam Bam suplexes Typhoon which was an impressive sight. During one spot Bam Bam has Typhoon in a rear chin lock and I notice how large Bam Bam’s forearms are. He had to have done some roofing work or something to have his forearms explode like that. Bam Bam also starts to fall down after delivering a punch but he manages to fall backwards into the ropes and then turn it into a falling headbutt. For a big man I’ve always been impressed with how nimble he was. Bam Bam ends up winning via pinfall after delivering the flying headbutt off of the top rope.
After the match we are back in the bowling alley and we see Slick giving some instruction to Kamala, after which he scores what looks like a pretty legitimate strike. I don’t know anything about bowling but Slick does appear to have pretty good bowling form or at least can fake a bowling stroke reasonably well. Unfortunately Kamala wasn’t watching any of his instruction as he is too focused on his new bowling ball.
As the Reverend and his protege get things sorted out we move on to the Repo Cam. This segment opens from the perspective of a handheld camcorder focused on a woman and a young child. Suddenly Repo Man starts shouting from off camera stating that he shouldn’t be recorded and threatens to take the man’s camera. Apparently he has a change of heart as he decides that it would be a great idea after all for our faceless camera man to follow him around and document his work. If he doesn’t comply Repo Man will take his camera and the RV. Barry Darsow gets so into his role that it turns this dud of a gimmick into something pretty entertaining. One of the vignettes clearly takes place outside of a WWF venue. The building in the background says “Selland Arena” which a quick Yahoo search tells me is in Fresno. There is also a WWF semi trailer clearly visible behind the vehicles. After we see a few different repossessions Repo Man concludes the segment by taking the man’s camera anyway.
The wrestling action commences with Bret Hart vs Shawn Michaels for the Intercontinental Championship. Sensational Sherri accompanies HBK to the ring and the Macho Man states that she must have a cold because her chest is swollen. The announcers then discuss how this will be the first scientific wrestling match on the tape because it features “great athletes that are normal sized”. After Sherri delivers a punch to Bret Hart Heenan states that 90% of men on the streets couldn’t take a punch from Sherri. They compare it to taking a punch from Mike Tyson to which Jim Ross quips Tyson isn’t walking the streets. Pure hilarity! A solid match between these two and the crowd is super into it. In fact I was impressed with how hot this 1992 crowd was. It ends with Bret Hart getting flung from the ring apron onto the steel barricade and losing via count out. Sherri then grabs the IC title and tosses it to Shawn as they celebrate the win as if he has become the champion. I’ve always hated this garbage house show ending. Although there have been some imbecile football players that didn’t understand the rules and were unaware that games could end in a tie, there would be no professional wrestler in the world that didn’t understand that a title could only change hands via pinfall or submission. I’ve always hated this ending and the WWF used to run it frequently. Of course the heels act completely and utterly stunned when ring announcer Howard Finkel notes over the house mic that the title can’t change hands due to a count out. Shawn hands the belt back to the official and then decks him which creates a ruckus with the announcers. All of them agree that Shawn will be subjected to a very serious fine at minimum and possibly a suspension which is a bit of realism which is missing from today’s product.
Back to Slick and Kamala Same old stuff here except Slick utters the fictitious word “exactively”.
Kamala squares off against Doink the Clown in our next encounter. Doink walks to the ring holding a present which will likely play no part in the upcoming match at all. Kamala is led to the ring by Slick and the announcers discuss how Slick is doing a great job of turning Kamala into a man rather than the animal/savage that he was. Doink pretends to offer the gift to Kamala to begin the match, but keeps faking him out and pulling it away. Eventually he pulls a Pearl Harbor and sneak attacks Kamala to begin the action. At one point as they are running around outside of the ring Savage notes that Doink has a $200 President Bill Clinton hair cut. I’m not sure if that is supposed to mean Bill Clinton is a clown or Doink is presidential but I do remember that news story making the rounds in 1993. Eventually Doink gives the present to Kamala who stands outside of the ring to open it getting counted out in the process. Unfortunately it was only an empty box which causes Kamala to cry. The announcers note that he had his feelings hurt. Kamala exacts his revenge by beating up on Doink but Heenan notes that the joke is on him as he ended up with the loser’s share of the purse.
We then segue to Undertaker vs Papa Shango in what I’m sure will be a real mat classic. Papa Shango was actually one of the better gimmicks and I think he could have gotten over as a heel if they hadn’t saddled him with such hokey voodoo stunts. His attire allowed him enough mobility to wrestle and his face paint and gear were visually striking. I’ve always felt the poor booking with him was a wasted opportunity. The match is your typical fare filled with blatant chokes and punches. Midway through the battle Papa Shango takes out his staff with a shrunken head on it and sparks fly out at the Undertaker which gets a big reaction from the crowd. Eventually things end with Undertaker delivering a chokeslam and a pin. Heenan explains that the reason Undertaker is a babyface is that society today is sick.
Back to bowling with Kamala. He’s simply too attached to his ball to hurl it down the lane so Slick gives him a different ball to use and tries to describe the goal. Instead Kamala takes off running down the lane with the ball in hand to knock down the pins. I wonder who produced these segments?
Now we cut to a 16 man battle royal at the Manhattan Center which was aired during a 1993 episode of Raw. However the commentary from Raw is replaced by the trio of Ross, Savage, and Heenan who go on to explain that Giant Gonzales was supposed to be involved but none of the other wrestlers would participate if he were. That must explain why our sixteen man battle royal begins with only 15 combatants. The commentators discuss how dominating Gonzales is and compare him to Andre the Giant on multiple occasions which is a complete and utter joke. Gonzales couldn’t lace Andre’s size 24’s. I’d come up with some other analogies but I’m simply too insulted that these three would even entertain comparing Gonzales to Andre. Savage picks Typhoon to win, Ross picks Kamala, and Heenan picks Razor Ramon. Eventually we get down to the final four which is Ramon, HBK, Tito Santana, and Tatanka which means Savage and Ross clearly made dumb babyface picks. Without remembering how this goes I assumed that one of the face’s, likely Santana, would be eliminated setting up the clear 2 on 1 heel advantage which would be miraculously overcome. Surprisingly HBK was the next eliminated leaving Razor in the ring with the two faces. That was very unexpected. Then Giant Gonzales came lumbering down the aisle looking like an idiot in his fur covered body suit. He proceeded to toss Tito Santana and Tatanka out of the ring as Razor took off under the bottom rope and hid. When the dust settled Razor was declared the winner. Kind of a clusterfuck.
Our next bout is Repo Man vs Tatanka. Considering Repo Man is a repackaged Barry Darsow and Tatanka is in the midst of his undefeated streak I don’t think there was any doubt who would have their hand raised at the end of this contest. Heenan states that Repo Man is here to repossess Tatanka’s teepee and blanket which was ignored by the other two. Tatanka eventually does his hulking up hopping around dance and defeats Repo Man via pinfall using a fallaway slam. No surprises here.
Kamala attempts to bowl but tosses his ball backwards. Honestly I think these segments should have been consolidated together rather than split up and interspersed over two hours at about 90 seconds each.
Our last match is a Coliseum Video exclusive with Mr. Perfect vs Ric Flair. With Flair having exited the promotion several months before the release of this video cassette I’m sure we all know what the outcome of this match will be. The onscreen graphic shows Mr. Perfect vs Rick Flair. I wonder who screwed that up. The crowd is really hot here as well and solidly on Mr. Perfect’s side as Ross and Savage bury Flair on the commentary. Several shots are taken ranging from the size of his nose to his age. I’ve never really bought Perfect as a baby face. As cliche as this statement sounds he was the perfect heel. Good back and forth match between the two which ends with Flair being pinned after the Perfect Plex. Not as good as their loser leaves town match from Raw but still a really solid match with a great crowd although I thought the announcers overdid it.
We head back to the bowling alley for the last time as Slick has decided to throw in the towel on Kamala. He and Lord Alfred recap the day’s events when suddenly they are interrupted by the sound of a bowling ball soaring down the lane. We zoom in to see a strike. Kamala had been absorbing all of the information after all and the group celebrates as Kamala is surely on the path out of the WWF and into the PBA where he will have the lowest body fat percentage of all the participants.
The tape concludes with a few ads. First is a promo for the next Coliseum Video release Global Warfare which has apparently supplanted the WWF World Tour series. Next is an IcoPro commercial. Have any of our readers used that stuff back in the day? Obviously it didn’t sell well as it was pulled within a year but I’m curious if it was halfway decent or just a bunch of snake oil. Last we see the Macho Man pushing membership into the WWF Fan Club where he details all of the cool stuff members receive. Looks like a bunch of crap but I wasn’t a member.
I remember being pleasantly surprised by Invasion of the Bodyslammers at the end of the 90’s. I wasn’t expecting much and it was actually an entertaining tape filled with big names, some good wrestling action, and plenty of entertainment. Although some of my comments may be a bit on the snarky side I still enjoyed watching this and the two hours seemed to fly by. The wrestling side of things may have come up a little short but outlandish moves aren’t required when the wrestlers are actually selling. In conclusion I’d recommend this to any old school WWF fan looking to have an enjoyable two hours, but I wouldn’t recommend it to fans simply looking for 5 star matches.