The SK Retro Rant for WCW World War III 1995 – For those of you who follow my little personal asides in these rants, you’ll know that this was actually the show that ended my WCW boycott in 1995. I had actually stopped watching WCW entirely once the Orange Goblin won the WCW World title and killed Ric Flair’s career dead in the process, and after almost 18 months of waiting, Hogan finally lost it and WCW, probably not coincidentally, put together a card that looked good enough on paper for me to part with my $29.95 and come back into the fold. (I miss the days of $30 PPVs. I’d buy a lot more of them today if they were still that pricepoint.) – Live from Norfolk, VA – Your hosts are Tony Schiavone & Bobby Heenan. – Okay, so the Hogan Retardation Factor kicks in right away, as Hogan, Savage and Sting come out with a garbage pail and Hogan’s “dark side” black costume (not to confused with his nWo black costume, which would come later), and burn the costume. Hogan was only fooling, you see, and was playing mindgames to lull Kevin Sullivan into a sense of security. (Rumor at the time was that this was a test run of sorts for the Hogan heel turn, but Meltzer talked about this very recently and noted that they literally didn’t know Hogan would agree to the eventual turn until about six weeks before Bash at the Beach. In Hogan’s mind at this point, he was still 100% babyface.) Then we pump up the surrealness as Hogan declares that Savage’s crippling arm injury was just another plan on their part, and THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH IT. Keep this in mind later, and also note that Savage has a HUGE bandage wrapped around his arm while giving this speech. Finally, Hogan finishes with a flurry by burning a copy of the Observer and calling it a “rag sheet”, noting that it said Giant would win the title tonight and Savage was injured, and that it’s the internet that really has the scoop on things. (Yeah, the internet! Take that, Dave Meltzer!) No, honestly, this interview really happened, just like that. You know, I almost miss the days of Hogan being on top, just for the yuks involved in listening to him distort the truth for his own means. – Opening match, TV title: Johnny B. Badd v. Diamond Dallas Page. DDP put Kimberly on the line here in exchange for the title match, as they were having domestic problems in the storyline. (Which of course led to the Kevin Sullivan Rule in real life.) Badd and DDP do a shoving match and hairpulling bit to start, and roll out onto the floor. Back in, Badd crossbody is reversed by DDP for two. Badd gets a samoan drop for two, and he works a headlock. Page rolls him over for a few two-counts. They fight over a wristlock and DDP cheats to win. He works the arm, but Badd pulls the hair to break. DDP charges and misses, ending up on the floor. Badd fakes a highspot and then follows with a pescado. Page then tosses Kim at Badd to gain the advantage in an innovative spot. I’m surprised Savage didn’t do that one more. Back in, DDP gets a backdrop suplex out of the corner and stomps away. He gets a tombstone and showboats, but Kimberly no-sells and won’t give him a 10. Kimberly’s job was to stand around and hold up scores for DDP at this point, in case you don’t know. (He should hire someone to hold up yoga poses for him now.) Badd catches his foot, but DDP clotheslines him for two. DDP keeps jawing with Kim, leading to him missing a blind charge. Badd then sidesteps a kick, which is a cute spot that looked better than it sounds. Badd makes a comeback, getting an inverted atomic drop and lariat. Kim gives Johnny a “10+”, which I’m sure isn’t Olympic standard. (I think Cecil Peoples once tried to give someone that score while judging a UFC fight.) Ligerbomb gets two for Badd. Blind charge misses and DDP uses the ropes for two. He gets a sideslam for two, but Badd rolls him over for two. Flying headscissors and Badd goes up, but DDP lifts the knees to block the splash. DDP works on the ribs with a gutbuster for two, although the move actually looked like a blown rotation bomb. Tombstone is reversed, for two. KO punch puts DDP on the floor, and Badd follows with a somersault plancha, then tosses Page back in and finishes with a slingshot legdrop for the pin at 12:33, giving him the services of Kimberly, which he retained until his firing in 1996. DDP absolutely worked his ass off from 95-98 or so in an effort to get himself over, and the sequence of near-falls to end this thing were great. ***1/2 – Big Bubba Rogers v. Hacksaw Duggan. This is taped-fist match under knockout rules. Tony and Bobby spend the first part of the match relaying, in a completely serious tone of voice, a story about how Jim Duggan’s grandmother was a taped-fist champion in Ireland. I can’t parody stuff like that, kids. (See also: JBL’s hilarious asides on Smackdown about Wade Barrett’s father Larry, the famous bare knuckles boxing champion.) Duggan attacks outside to start, and into the ring where he threatens to use the 2×4, only to get cheapshotted. Duggan clotheslines him out, however, and they retreat to Ring #2 for some reason. Duggan jams his head in between two of the ringposts in an innovative spot, then comes off the apron and gets sent to the STEEL railing. Stallamania X7 results. Back in, Bubba does some choking. Slugfest leads to Bubba’s enzuigiri. Bubba adds some more tape to his fists, but Duggan punches him to the floor. Bubba, however, actually takes the advice Bobby Heenan has been giving all match and tapes Duggan to the top rope, allowing him a bunch of free shots. In one of the most retarded spots I’ve ever seen, Bubba charges at him, but Duggan HOLDS OUT HIS FIST and Bubba runs into it, and gets knocked down. It’s hard to truly comprehend this unless you keep in mind how slow Bubba runs and that Duggan wasn’t looking while holding out his fist. Bubba charges again and gets backdropped out, slamming his back into the apron in the process. Good one, Ray. Back in, Duggan hits the three-point stance clothesline, but VK Wallstreet sneaks in and gives Bubba a chain, which he uses to knock Duggan out for the win at 10:08. About what you’d expect from Duggan v. Bubba. ½* – Cutie Suzuki & Mayumi Ozaki v. Bull Nakano & Akira Hokuto. I have no idea why they decided to toss this on here, but god bless ‘em for it. Sonny Onoo is managing the heels, just so we know that they’re evil. Heels attack to start, and they clobber Ozaki. Bull tosses Ozaki around the ring, and Hokuto teases allowing a tag. Bull does some biting and brutally drags Ozaki around the ring by the hair like a caveman. Ozaki comes back but Bull no-sells. Hokuto chokes her out, but gets DDT’d to allow a tag to Suzuki. Dropkick gets two as the faces apply stereo half-crabs. They work on Akira’s leg. Bull comes in and quickly powerbombs Suzuki. Moonsault misses and the faces take turns with double stomps off the top, which the crowd pops huge for. Double-suplex attempt on Bull is reversed, as Nakano suplexes both at once. Hokuto comes off the top but misses the splash. The faces try to double-superplex her, but Nakano pulls them down off the top. Nakano & Hokuto go for stereo powerbombs, but they get reversed to stereo ranas for a pair of two counts. Suzuki gets a flying bodypress on Hokuto for two. Hokuto hits a nasty half-nelson suplex for two, but Ozaki comes back and drops her square on her head with a german suplex. Good lord. Bull tags in and kills Ozaki in retaliation. Hokuto comes off the top with a missile dropkick on both girls at once and they bail. Hokuto follows them out with a somersault tope off the top rope, and back inside the heels hit a Doomsday Device that gets two. Bull goes up and finishes Ozaki with a guillotine legdrop at 9:18. Slow start with a REAL good finish. ***1/4 They never really got another shot on PPV again, however. – US title match: Kensuke Sasaki v. Chris Benoit. I’ve never been a big Sasaki fan, and his position in Japan at the time as Hawk’s partner didn’t help things. And check the mullet on Benoit here. Attaboy. Benoit starts with some Canadian Violence right away, but Sasaki gets his own chops. He tries the armbar, but Benoit takes him down and works a hammerlock. Sasaki backdrops out and grabs a wristlock. Two bodyslams get a two count. We HIT THE CHINLOCK, leading to a leapfrog sequence and Sasaki press slam. Benoit manages to get him out of the ring and follows with a suicide dive. (Cough) Back in, snap suplex gets two. Sasaki gets a powerslam for two. Benoit tries to debut the rolling germans, but Sasaki clotheslines him after the second one. Tombstone is reversed and Benoit hits the diving headbutt for two. More Canadian Violence and a top rope rana gets two. Sasaki stops a slugfest with something resembling a chokeslam and goes for an armbar. Benoit clotheslines him, but Sasaki no-sells, hits a Northern Lights Bomb, and gets the pin to retain at 10:02. Nothing special at all. *1/2 – Randy Savage v. Lex Luger. Now remember, at the beginning of the show Hogan said that Savage did not have an arm injury, and he’s at 100%. Heenan immediately takes umbrage to that claim by pointing out the gigantic bandage on Savage’s arm, and Tony actually tries to argue that Savage is okay. (This is why people hated Tony.) Savage attacks to start and chokes Luger down. Blind charge hits boot, but Savage clotheslines Luger anyway. Into a Boston Crab, but Lex makes the ropes. They brawl on the floor and back in for the ELBOWDROP OF DOOM, but the ref is distracted with Jimmy Hart. Savage tosses Luger and they brawl some more. Luger catches Savage with a torture rack for some bizarre reason, and back in for an armbar, to Savage’s heavily bandaged arm, which gets a very quick submission at 5:25. Yeah, that’s arm’s just fine. In fact, Savage DID have a torn tricep muscle, so ignore the funny looking orange person with the male pattern baldness. (Ken Anderson?) DUD – Sting v. Ric Flair. This is the blowoff from Halloween Havoc and the Horsemen reformation. Slugfest to start, and Flair bails to Ring #2 and struts. Sting follows and continues the beating. Press slam, but Flair goes to the eyes. He chops away and does some stylin’ and/or profilin’. Sting clotheslines him to end that. Hiptoss and dropkick and Flair bails to Ring #3, thus making it a running gag. Sting follows and no-sells some chops. Slugfest won by Sting, and Flair bails again. He takes a walk, and back in Sting keeps no-selling. Press-slam and Flair bails AGAIN, back to Ring #1. Sting charges and splashes the railing by mistake. Back in, Flair goes low in dramatic fashion to gain the advantage. Kneedrop leads to more stalling. He goes after the leg and tosses Sting, and they head over to Ring #3 just to pound the joke into the ground. Figure-four, but Sting powers out and reverses. Backslide gets two. Flair bails to Ring #1 and Sting presses and clotheslines him. Flair cheats and goes upstairs, but gets slammed off as usual. Flair Flip and back in for the Sting comeback. Superplex and Scorpion Deathlock finish at 14:29. This was good in comparison to lots of other matches at the time, but not in comparison to the other, more awesome, matches these two have had. In fact, it was more like a Cliff’s Notes version of Sting v. Flair with some comedy tossed in. Still, Sting v. Flair is never too shabby. *** – WCW World title match, World War III: Okay, take a deep breath, because here’s the 60 guys in the match: Arn Anderson, Alex Wright, Brian Knobbs, Ricky Santana, David Taylor, Scott Armstrong, Sting, Joey Maggs, Pez Whatley, Disco Inferno, Meng, Stevie Ray, Mark Starr, Buddy Lee Parker, James Earl Wright, Lex Luger, Eddy Guerrero, Cobra, The Giant, Paul Orndorff, Khris Kanyon, Bobby Walker, Bobby Eaton, Chris Benoit, Randy Savage, Marcus Bagwell, The Yeti, Kurosawa, Hugh Morrus, Zodiac Man, VK Wallstreet, DDP, Scott Norton, Brian Pillman, Craig Pittman, One Man Gang, Super Assassin #1, Mr. JL, Bunkhouse Buck, Kensuke Sasaki, Mike Winner, Hawk, Shark, Steve Armstrong, David Sullivan, Scotty Riggs, Johnny B. Badd, Black Bart, Steven Regal, Dick Slater, Maxx Muscle, Super Assassin #2, Fidel Sierra, Kevin Sullivan, Jerry Saggs, Jim Duggan, Booker T, Big Bubba, Ric Flair and The Orange Goblin. (Only nine dead out of that crew, which is actually pretty decent for a PPV from this era.) – Okay, so 20 men per ring, and after 10 guys are out in each the rings will merge into one. Until then, they split the screen into three small squares with each ring covered by one of them. The end result is that it’s absolutely impossible to tell what the hell is going on at any one point, a problem compounded by WCW’s usual shitty camera work, and I’m pretty much dependant on the announcers to follow who gets eliminated, and even then that’s a problem given the announce team. Believe me, this match brings new meaning to the term “Three ring circus”. I’m not even gonna bother doing play-by-play because I have no idea what’s going on, but the order of elimination of jobbers goes Yeti, Mike Winner, Mark Starr, Buddy Lee, James Earl, Cobra, Bagwell, Kanyon, Black Bart, Maxx Muscle, Fidel Sierra, Steve Armstrong, Dave Sullivan, Mr. JL, Knobbs, Santana, Alex Wright, Pez Whatley, Scotty Riggs, Bobby Eaton, Dick Slater, VK Wallstreet and Scott Norton and apparently 23 guys is good enough for WCW because they merge the rings into one. Unless I missed 7 guys getting eliminated, which is very much possible given the amateur quality of this match. – Okay, so we’re down to one regular battle royale with all the jobbers out, thus making me wonder what the point of having them all in there in the first place was. Well, that’s WCW for you. One Man Gang and Regal fight on the floor as Joey Maggs gets to go first. Bubba goes out by Duggan’s hand, but hangs on and takes Duggan with him. Disco gets tossed. Luger hangs out on the floor and takes cheapshots now and then. Dave Taylor gets tossed by Hogan. Hogan then puts both Booker and Saggs out, as well as Kevin Sullivan. Savage & Luger head off to another ring for a private fight as Regal gets tossed out. DDP & Badd eliminate each other as Giant goes on a rampage, tossing Pittman and Benoit. Meng gets rid of Kurosawa, but Giant gets rid of him. Giant tosses some people around as Hogan and Orndorff renew their battle. Morrus and Pillman get rid of Zodiac, but Sasaki dumps Morrus. Hawk then dumps Pillman, who hangs onto Sasaki as Hawk tries to keep him in. Hogan of course sneaks up and dumps everyone. What a guy that Hogan is, always thinking of others first. Sting splashes Eddy as Hogan reverses an Orndorff piledriver and, you guessed it, eliminates him. 9 guys left. Eddy goes up with a missile dropkick on Anderson, but the Horsemen come back and work him over. Eddy gets dumped, missed by the camera. Sting splashes the Horsemen in sequence as Giant chokeslams Savage. Sting slingshots AA into Flair, putting both Horsemen out. 6 guys left. Sting & Luger double-team Giant, but Hogan…wait for it…dumps all three guys out. Giant, the scoundrel, pulls Hogan out under the bottom rope while the camera totally misses Savage tossing Gang. However, the refs were looking at Savage taking Gang out, and they assume Hogan went over the top, thus giving Savage the World title at 29:42. I don’t rate battle royales. Hogan, sportsman of the year, throws a huge temper tantrum and won’t endorse Savage, and the arena just completely turns on him ala Royal Rumble 92. Hulk Hogan, hero to millions. The Bottom Line: Aside from the god-awful main event abortion of a battle royale (which they considered such a good idea that they ran it for THREE MORE YEARS), this is a pretty decent show that started a good run for WCW. Of course, all the good workers that caused it got buried during the nWo era, but that’s WCW for ya. Recommended show.