I was a bit rough on ol’ WCW a couple of weeks back in a Stinker Review, so I thought I’d redress the balance a bit and review one of their notable good shows in the form of Spring Stampede 99. WCW actually had a relatively solid start to 99 pay per view wise, with Souled Out, SuperBrawl IX and Uncensored all featuring some good wrestling, even if some of the booking was pretty head scratching.
For instance, WCW decided to close Uncensored with Ric Flair winning the World Title and the Presidency of the company (something most of the fans would likely be cool with) but also had him go heel in the process. This was mostly down to Flair himself pushing hard for the heel turn as he felt he did his best work that way, but it was still an odd way to take the storyline, especially as Flair had been so beloved since his return in the autumn of 98 and having a babyface authority figure was a nice change of pace after yonks of having a heel one in the form of Eric Bischoff.
Thus not only did Flair go heel but so did his Horsemen cohorts of Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko and Arn Anderson, which certainly improved the tag division at least but also kind of felt weird too as they’d just done a big babyface quest for the belts and finally won them at Uncensored, only to now go heel. This did lead to a feud between The Horsemen and Raven/Saturn though, which led to a series of great matches and got even better once Rey Mysterio Jr and Kidman were added to the mix.
Flair’s first pay per view Title defence was to be at Spring Stampede, as he’d defend the belt in a four way against freshly face turned Hogan as well as Sting and Diamond Dallas Page. Meanwhile, the big feud on the under card was Goldberg trying to avenge his Starrcade loss to Kevin Nash, which was at least a story the fans could get their teeth into. Combined with what looked to be a solid under card from a wrestling perspective, Spring Stampede promised to be a really good show, but could WCW deliver on the night?
Let’s watch on and find out!
The show is emanating from Tacoma, Washington
Calling the action are Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan and Mike Tenay
Blitzkrieg Vs Juventud Guerrera
Winner of this match gets a Cruiserweight Title shot the next night on Nitro. Blitz was a young lad from the indie scene who could do some incredible high spots but wasn’t much of well-rounded wrestler outside of that and he eventually grew tired of the business and sold the gimmick to Jack Evans. Juvy was a mainstay in the Cruiserweight division and had held the belt multiple times prior to this point, and I think he’d have it at least a couple more times before all was said and done.
This is the dictionary definition of a fast-paced opener designed to fire up a crowd, as they do some token wrestling in the early going before going straight to the high spots. Blitz’s technique in the wrestling sections is awkward, but once he starts flying he’s the absolute bee’s knees and Juvy is an excellent base for all of his wacky high risk manoeuvres. Juvy isn’t to be out done either, getting a very impressive plancha over the top rope to the floor at one stage.
Blitz responds by going for a cross body, but Juvy sees him coming and dropkicks him right out of the air in an impressive looking spot. Blitz manages to arm drag Juvy back outside though and follows up with an incredible looking Asai moonsault. It was like he hung in the air there, it was beautiful. There is one notable botch in the closing stages as Blitz tries to counter a Juvy move off the top and they both sort of just slowly tumble back into the ring, but nobody gets hurt at least. We get some nice near falls and eventually Juvy finishes it with the Juvy Driver off the top.
WINNER: JUVENTUD GUERRERA
We get some video clips of Hardcore Hak (The Sandman) and Bam Bam Bigelow brawling with one another in recent weeks to set up the next match.
Hardcore Hak w/ Chastity Vs Bam Bam Bigelow
This is a clever use of match placement actually, as you’re not going to follow that wild high flying action with some standard wrestling so you instead go in a different direction with a crazy brawl instead. It does highlight how silly the hardcore division in both companies was getting at this stage though, as Hak leaps off the stage to put Bammer through a table super early doors, and it’s just a throwaway spot, when really a spot that big should be the finish. It doesn’t help that the commentators treat the whole thing as a comedy segment.
I think I mentioned this a couple of weeks ago, but they might as well have slapped a laughter track over these hardcore matches considering how seriously they were taken by WCW sometimes. The match itself is actually a really good wild brawl, with both guys going all out and clobbering one another with plunder at every opportunity. The crowd enjoys it quite a bit too, especially when more weapons are introduced. Tony makes a faux-pas by saying that metal bins don’t hurt that much, which leads to Bobby and Mike correctly chastising him for it. I love Tony in AEW these days, but at times in this WCW run he was out to lunch (and really, can you blame him considering some of the dreck he had to sit through sometimes?)
Bobby and Mike aren’t blameless though, as they are just as guilty of making light of the action in the ring, with it feeling more like an improv session of one-liners rather than actual commentary. Tony even pulls Bobby up for using the same joke he used the previous week, to which Bobby replies that he’ll use it next week too. A ladder gets involved and Hak bulldogs Bigelow onto it before heading out for some guardrail. If this were a Tommy Dreamer match then you could guarantee someone would get dropped crotch first on it, but that isn’t what happens here. What does happen is that Hak tries climbing the ladder and ends up tumbling off through a table.
He’s of course up seconds later because that’s the sort of match we’re doing here. Bammer flings Hak into the ladder stacked in the corner back inside and then goes to kill him with the railing. Chastity tries to blast him with a fire extinguisher, which had been her main tactic when assisting Hak in his matches, but she can’t get it to work so Bigelow manages to chase her off before using it on her. Hak uses the distraction to give Bigelow a White Russian Leg Sweep and goes for a superplex off the top rope through a table, but Bammer counters it into the Greetings From Asbury Park for the three.
WINNER: BAM BAM BIGELOW
I’m kind of conflicted about that one as it was absolutely ridiculous to see guys take these big bumps and get up almost instantly, but I also can’t deny that it was wildly entertaining and both guys were working incredibly hard, so I’ll be generous and give them a good rating because sometimes I’m nice like that
Tony begs the fans watching at home not to try this in their backyard, with Bobby getting a genuinely funny line by shouting “do it in your living room it’s more fun!”
Scotty Riggs Vs Mikey Whipwreck
Riggs was no longer doing the grungy eye-patch gimmick by this stage now that Raven’s Flock had been dispersed and he’s instead doing a budget Rick Rude gimmick instead. Mikey had only just debuted in WCW and had entered the company with a great match against Kidman at Uncensored, but it didn’t really lead to anything and now he’s just enhancement talent. I still find it weird that WCW signed him to be honest, but he got to have a bunch of nagging injuries sorted and receive some guaranteed money whilst he worked there, so it ended up being a decent stint for him in that regard.
Mikey does get a bit of a shine on Riggs in the early going, but he’s mostly here to make Riggs look good by selling for him and taking his usual big bumps. Bobby’s whole thing was that he’d regularly get Mikey’s name wrong, which some got annoyed by but Mikey himself apparently didn’t mind and liked the fact that Bobby had a running gag for him. Riggs knocks Mikey off the apron at one stage, with Mikey doing the big Nesta Plunge onto the railings, which leads to Riggs working him over back inside.
The crowd really doesn’t care about this one at all, which kind of makes sense as it hasn’t had the exciting action of the first two matches and there isn’t an ongoing storyline of some kind to keep the crowd invested in the generic heel offence of Riggs. Riggs’ stuff isn’t bad or anything, but whether he has a fun match or not often depends on his opponent, and though Mikey is fine he was still super new to WCW and hadn’t really gotten over, so to the crowd this is just two guys they don’t really care about having a throwaway match, which hardly ever works on pay per view. Riggs eventually catches Mikey with a running forearm and wins.
WINNER: SCOTTY RIGGS
As a match it was fine, but it was the wrong match for this show. It would be fine on Nitro or Thunder, but this was a pay per view and you expect more
We get a video package to hype the next match. Disco Inferno vandalised Konnan’s music video, so Konnan is now out for revenge.
Konnan Vs The Disco Inferno
This would be the battle of the entertaining mid-carders who use their character work and charisma to overcome the fact they aren’t amazing workers. Disco is actually pretty good to be fair to him, and Konnan is very good when allowed to play to his strengths. I never got on board with all the Konnan hate to be honest, he had a ceiling but he was also a solid addition to the rosters of both WCW and TNA when used correctly.
Disco is wearing camo-pants here to mock Konnan, along with a gold chain, and he jumpstarts things with some punches and stomps. The crowd hates him and boos him as he steals Konnan’s rolling clothesline spot. Konnan fights back though and gets a babyface shine, including the 10 punch and some stomps in the corner, which the crowd enjoys. Disco manages to cut him off though and works him over with basic stuff like chokes, as the crowd continues to tell him that he sucks.
Disco is actually pretty funny during the heat, as he taunts quite a bit and riles the crowd up in the process. The match does slow down a bit with a few of chin lock spots, but that’s to be expected with these two and they don’t sit in the hold for too long all in all, so it’s not like it derails things. I’d actually say that they’re working quite hard here, with Disco even doing a version of the Five Knuckle Shuffle long before John Cena started doing it.
Konnan finally fights out of one more chin lock and then dodges a Disco attack from the second rope to start the comeback and pop the crowd. We get some near falls, with Disco actually kicking out of Konnan’s 187 DDT at one point. In a nice touch, Konnan pays Disco back for stealing his moves and attire by using Disco’s own Chartbuster Stunner on him for the three count. Ha, I love seeing the heel hoist by their own petard like that!
This was solid mid-card action, as the crowd dug it and they worked hard. There was probably a tad too many chin locks for my liking, but aside from that it was fine
Konnan celebrates and I believe Disco went back to being just a Disco guy again after this.
WCW Cruiserweight Title
Champ: Rey Mysterio Jr Vs Kidman
Rey and Kidman were actually the Tag Champions here as well, as Rey had only lost his mask a couple of months back so WCW was making a token gesture of trying to push him. These two were actually a really good team, with them reforming it for a bit in 2003 and having a fantastic match with Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin, but it never clicked quite as well for them as opponents. Don’t get me wrong, they had some good matches together over the years, but their best work came as a tandem.
This is actually pretty far up the card for a Cruiserweight Title bout, as they were normally relegated to the opening slot or there wasn’t even a Title match on the show to begin with. It’s quickly paced early on, with them even doing some brawling outside the ring, where Kidman drops Rey on the railings and then gets a springboard leg drop from the front row to ringside. That’s a good way to break your tailbone right there! Rey replies with a flying head scissor, but he looks to hit his head on the steps at ringside and it seems to both annoy and hurt him in equal measure.
No one really works heel here, as they are both faces, so they instead work it as a back and forth match where both guys trade momentum and take it in turns to control the match for a little bit. Tony and Bobby start squabbling again, with Mike musing at the “A” announce team not getting along whilst he was currently stuck doing “Zbyzko Duty” on Thunder. One of the more impressive spots is Kidman getting a Shooting Star Press off the apron onto a standing Rey, which was something you could actually do in the WCW Mayhem Video Game for PSX and N64.
Randy Anderson is doing a really weird fast count for some reason, which is hurting the drama on the near falls a bit as guys have to kick out of big moves way too quickly and it doesn’t give the crowd a chance to get into the count. This is a lot crisper than I remember it being actually, as I thought there were quite a few occasions of them being on different pages, but on this re-watch they’re mostly hitting everything just right. It’s not like the match is flowing great or anything, but the dives and big moves have all gone down as they are supposed to.
There are a couple of chin lock spots, which feel a bit of place in a match like this, and the match itself starting to feel a bit stop-start in all honesty. It might have worked better to start slow and then build up to the big spots rather than having them sprinkled throughout the whole match with rest spots and double downs linking them all together. It’s not a bad match by any means, and in some ways it’s quite good, but it’s also not the exciting super-hot match you might expect from two guys this good.
It picks up quite a bit when they start working some bigger near falls, with Rey getting an awesome bulldog off the second rope at one stage. The crowd is responding to the bigger moves and the guys have been executing them well. Anderson’s count is still too fast though and it’s hurting the near falls a bit. Rey tries to power bomb Kidman with predictable results, but Rey recovers to counter the Shooting Star Press and snaps off a rana for the three count.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: REY MYSTERIO JR
This was good, but both men have had better matches with other opponents
We get clips of Perry Saturn running down to rescue Raven in a handicap match against Malenko and Benoit, which led to the reunited Flock supposedly winning the tag belts, only for the result to get overturned. Raven and Saturn then cost The Horsemen the Tag Titles against Kidman and Rey to set up the match tonight.
Chris Benoit and Dean Malenko w/ Arn Anderson Vs Raven and Perry Saturn
Saturn was wearing a dress at the time as he’d lost a match to Chris Jericho, but he ended up making it work by going all Goth with it. Apparently it was his idea as well according to Jericho’s book. I’ll come right out and say that this is a great tag team match, as The Horsemen are over as heels and the crowd is into the idea of seeing them get beat, so the match has good crowd reactions to go with the expected good wrestling you’d get from these four. Raven may not be as solid a technician as the other three, but he’s a fantastic storyteller in the ring and he always did well in this sort of setting with the better workers.
Raven and Saturn shine on Benoit to start with some nice double team stuff, but Malenko causes Raven to get sent outside where Arn puts the boots to him for the cut off. Raven sells well as the face in peril and The Horsemen do some good tandem offence, with referee Charles Robinson showing them some leeway due to his connection with Ric Flair. Saturn eventually gets the hot tag and runs wild on The Horsemen, looking great in the process as he was always a good hot tag guy, and that leads into the match breaking down with all four guys going at it.
There are some good near falls and submission teases, with Malenko getting the Texas Cloverleaf on Saturn at one stage, but Saturn is able to make the ropes and follows with a Spicolli Driver, which Benoit needs to break up at two. Saturn is still woozy from that though, so it leads to a second heat segment, as we’re clearly taking some inspiration from the Rock ‘N’ Roll Express playbook. Saturn sells that well and the crowd gets behind him in the hope that he’ll make the tag, as Tony is loving the quality of tag action on display here.
The Horsemen were a good babyface team but they were infinitely better in this heel role, especially when they had good babyface teams to oppose them like Raven and Saturn. It’s a shame the tag division ended up getting dominated by The Jersey Triad a couple of months after this as it was really hitting its stride here. Raven eventually gets the hot tag and drop toe holds Benoit onto a chair, which isn’t a DQ for whatever reason. I guess doing a move onto a chair that happens to be there is different than actively hitting someone with one? Anyway, Saturn tries to put Malenko through a table but Anderson moves him and Saturn crashes and burns. Raven manages to DDT Malenko back inside, but Arn puts a chair over his head and Benoit comes off the top with a head butt to give The Horsemen the win.
WINNERS: THE HORSEMEN
See, I buy the finish because Robinson is a biased heel referee, so of course he’d allow them to get away with that, but on the same hand I’m not sure why he didn’t just DQ Raven earlier when he had an easy excuse to do so. The match itself was excellent, with the tag formula being worked to a high standard and all four guys working hard. The crowd dug it and the action was on form. Definitely a great tag match that needs to be watched if you’ve never seen it
Benoit is bloody mess following that finish, and seeing him go face first into chairs like that makes me a little queasy these days considering how things turned out for Benoit eventually.
We get a video package to hype the next match. Scott Hall was injured so had to forfeit the US Title, leading to Ric Flair setting up a tournament for the belt. Booker T and Scott Steiner are the two guys who have made the Final.
Final of the WCW United States Title Tournament
Scott Steiner Vs Booker T
Booker T was also the TV Champion at this stage, and he’d defeated Steiner for that Title at Uncensored, which should probably give away the result of this one. Steiner was in the Wolfpac at the time of this show, as the nWo had basically been split into the “Elite” Wolfpac crew with the likes of Steiner, Nash, Hogan and Luger, with the B Teamers remaining in the Black and White such as Vincent, Stevie Ray and Horace Hogan. The two factions were still aligned at this stage though.
Steiner’s whole act at the time was that he’d spend large chunks of his matches yelling at all the fans at ringside, and to be fair he’s excellent at it. It’s actually quite entertaining in small doses, but sometimes Steiner would milk it a bit too much. It’s strange because his gimmick is supposed to be that he’s this monstrous big muscular man who is liable to snap and try and kill someone at any moment, but he also stalls and avoids contact with Booker like he’s a cowardly heel. By 2000 he would have dropped that aspect of the character and just become a psychotic suplex machine, which worked much better.
When the wrestling actually starts it’s decent, with Booker’s stuff looking sharp and Steiner being believable whenever he’s on offence. He actually bumps and feeds pretty well for a guy that ludicrously muscular, which was another aspect that made him so scary because he was built like a tank but was unexpectedly quick on his feet to boot. Steiner Vs Booker was a constant feud in WCW actually, as they opposed each other in tags in 97, moved onto this feud in 99 for the secondary belt and then eventually feuded over the top belt in 2000.
Booker gets to shine on Steiner for a bit, with Steiner actually begging off at one stage, but eventually Steiner manages to cut Booker off and level him with a chair outside the ring a couple of times. That should really be a DQ, but I suppose to you could excuse it due to the referee being afraid of what Steiner will do to him if he calls for the bell, which is why he’s showing some leeway. It would have been nice if the commentators could have maybe pushed that idea more on commentary.
There is a loud “Steroids” chant at one stage whilst Steiner works Booker over, and I would have loved to see Steiner take a drug test around this time. His urine would probably melt the cup. Things get silly as Steiner literally kicks Booker right in his Bookend at one stage, but the referee again doesn’t call for the DQ. Mike Tenay at least labours the point that the ref is too afraid to call for the bell this time, but still, they’re overegging the pudding a bit now.
Booker does eventually make the comeback and the crowd is into it, but the ref ends up getting caught in the melee and takes a bump. Booker gets the Axe Kick, but the ref is out and of course can’t count the pin. Booker helps him up, only for Steiner to bonk them together to bump the ref once again. Booker gets the 110th Street Slam and heads up top, but Steiner jams the ropes to crotch him and then follows up with a rana off the top, which is a pretty darn impressive move from a guy his size, but Booker manages to kick out at two.
That was a good near fall. Steiner decides he’s had enough of Booker and gets an international object from his tights. Booker manages to fend him off and goes to suplex him, but Steiner hits him with the object and Booker collapses for three from the revived referee. I don’t mind that as a finish as it protects Booker, but I don’t get the need to book the monster psycho heel Steiner to need to cheat like that.
WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: SCOTT STEINER
I personally think the match at Uncensored was better, but this was still a decent match as these guys had good chemistry with one another
Rey Mysterio Jr is getting interviewed at the internet area by the world’s most rotund Kopite.
We get a video package to hype the upcoming Kevin Nash Vs Goldberg match. Nash cheated to beat Goldberg at Starrcade, so Goldberg wants payback tonight.
Kevin Nash w/ Elizabeth and Lex Luger Vs Goldberg
Nash actually takes a lot of the match, with the idea being that this is going to be Goldberg weathering the storm and still coming out on top rather than him just destroying Nash in a quick squash to get his revenge. You can argue the merits of that booking if you want (and you may have a point) but as a match it’s worked well, as Nash’s stuff looks good and Goldberg does a good job selling it all, getting a good mixture between registering the pain but still giving off the vibe that he’s powering through it all.
Goldberg eventually manages to catch Nash with a running shoulder tackle to finally get a foothold in the match and then adds a big under hook suplex for good measure before flooring Nash with a big kick. The crowd is into it as well, but Nash dodges the Spear and the ref takes it instead, leading to Luger clocking Goldberg with a chair. Goldberg looks done following that, but he clocks Nash right in his Great and Powerful Oz and then takes out Luger with a big boot. Spear and Jack Hammer follow to Nash and that’s enough for three.
This was something a bit different from what most would probably expect, what with Goldberg having to sell so much for the majority of the match, but it ended up working as the crowd was really into the match by the end and Goldberg got to look both gutsy and resourceful on route to getting his revenge. Not as good as the Starrcade match, but still a decent outing all things considered
We get a video package to hype the Main Event.
Guest Referee: Randy Savage
Champ: Ric Flair Vs Diamond Dallas Page Vs Hollywood Hogan Vs Sting
The story here was that Flair had won the WCW presidency at the turn of the year and then started feuding with Hogan, which had led to them having a cage match the previous month at Uncensored. Flair used his position as president to win the match in screwy fashion, which led to him going heel (As previously mentioned, Flair hates being a babyface) and Hogan in turn went babyface. Sting had recently returned and DDP hadn’t really done much since the turn of the year, so they decided to throw all four guys into a four corners match to try and juice the buy rate for the show. Basically Sting and Hogan are faces, DDP is mostly a tweener and Flair is a heel, whilst Savage’s allegiance isn’t really known, although he has had feuds with all four of the men in the match.
Even the pre-match video package is basically just “These four guys are having a match for no adequately explored reason and Savage is reffing. Exciting huh? Huh?? Huh?!?!”
Savage has Gorgeous George with him, who is a blond lass that looks a bit like Liv Morgan actually. He was actually dating her in real life at the time and their relationship was…stormy to say the least. This is one fall wins it, rather than elimination rules, which is handy because it means only one person has to do a job. Hogan actually comes out to the Wolfpac theme here, but by August he’d be back to doing the red and yellow thing, which got a monster reaction the first time he did it but soon started to fade as people realised that old school babyface Hulk Hogan just wasn’t to going work in 1999 when the Attitude Era and ECW were happening on other channels.
Everyone takes turns pairing off with everyone else to start, and it’s not bad in all honesty, especially as you wouldn’t think this sort of match would play to Hogan and Flair’s strengths. Sting and DDP in particular do some nice stuff, as they were really on a roll during this era when it came to working with one another, as their Nitro classic not soon after this showed. Seeing as Hogan isn’t winning, he decides to bow out early by having DDP put him in a ring post Figure Four. This leads to Hogan being helped to the back, turning the match into a triple threat. Sadly this takes some of the air out of the match, as watching all four of these wacky guys interact with one another was part of the matches charm. It was nice of Hogan to give DDP such a scalp though, especially as I don’t think they ever really feuded following this, so Hogan never got his revenge.
Sting actually does manage to finally successfully Stinger Splash someone whilst they’re on the guardrail, but then ruins it by going for it again and missing. Oh Steve, you flew too close to the sun. They try and make the Hogan injury look like it’s legit, but if it was I think they would have probably got a stretcher for him and the crowd doesn’t buy it. DDP wisely hangs back whilst Sting and Flair go at it with their usual good match, getting a cheap shot in Sting after he sends Flair to the outside. This now becomes your standard triple threat, with two guys going at it whilst the other rests, which is a shame as I was enjoying the dynamic of all four guys going at it.
The work is decent though, because DDP and Flair almost always turn up for the big matches and Sting is thankfully motivated for this one and is putting in pay per view effort. We get the triple sleeper spot, which is always a cute thing to do in a multi person match and it gets a nice reaction from the crowd. Flair and DDP try to double on Sting, but he starts Stingering up for a big pop and runs wild on the other two. Man, when he could be arsed Sting was absolutely fantastic. He just had a connection with the crowd that most wrestlers could only ever dream of.
Flair looks to have Sting beat in the Figure Four, but Savage strangely decides that now is the time to act, and he drops the elbow on Flair from the top rope to put a stop to that. Savage and Flair would of course end up aligned against Kevin Nash later in the year, with Flair helping out Savage in that feud through some evil authority antics. However, at this stage they were feuding, so Savage breaks up the hold and DDP adds a Diamond Cutter to get the pin on Flair and an improbable World Title.
WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: DIAMOND DALLAS PAGE
DDP was a bit of a controversial choice as Champion, as he had a close friendship with Eric Bischoff and a lot of people pointed to that being the reason for him winning. Honestly I never really had a problem with DDP being the Champion as he’d been a genuine big star in WCW for a couple of years and he was mostly just a transitional Champ at the end of the day, so I didn’t really see anything particularly egregious about it. I will say that it would have made FAR more sense to have DDP win the belt when he was still hot as babyface feuding with the nWo though, rather than waiting until he’d cooled off significantly.
The match itself was basically fine, with some good work on display. However, it just wasn’t as fun for me when it came down to three guys, as I was enjoying the four way action up to that point and taking Hogan out of the match made it into just another standard triple threat match, when the four corners section had felt fresh and interesting. Still, this wasn’t a bad match by any means and all four guys had their working boots on
DDP barely gets time to properly celebrate as we’re out of time!
This is one of WCW’s best pay per view events, as there isn’t one bad match, a lot of good ones, a hot crowd who are into the show and the tag team match is one of the best matches WCW had all year in 1999.
It’s an easy recommendation!