I haven’t watched this one in a while and I’ve always enjoyed it, so I decided to make it the show I review this week. I’m actually watching the UK version of the Turner Home Entertainment official VHS result for this one as opposed to the WWE Network version.
The main reasons I’m watching this version of the show are that it’s shorter, it doesn’t dub out some of the music (meaning we get “The Chase” for the Midnight Express’ entrance) and (at the time of writing this) the WWE has done a pretty lousy job with the move over to Peacock so, even though we still get the full version of the Network over here in the UK, the whole situation has left me with a bit of a sour taste so I’ve been on a bit of a physical media kick as a result.
Plus, I finally got a replacement remote for my VCR, so reviewing just became a lot more convenient as I don’t have to keep getting up to pause/rewind the tape on the actual VCR itself. There’s also that additional nostalgia factor of sitting down and watching a tape on a real VCR that takes me back to watching my wrestling tapes as a kid that I kind of like. I obviously won’t be swearing off The Network forever or anything, but right now I’m enjoying a bit of a blast from the past.
This show took place in the May of 1990, with current top babyface Sting out on the shelf with a knee injury due to a botched spot where he tried to climb a cage to get at The Horsemen. As a result of not really having any challengers for World Champ Ric Flair, Lex Luger was turned back babyface to feud with him. Of course this presented some additional issues for WCW, because Flair had given Sting his word that he’d be getting the belt from him once he was healthy, which meant Luger wouldn’t be getting it in this feud. Luger had failed multiple times in the past to defeat Flair for the Title though, so yet another failure wasn’t exactly going to do wonders for his “choker” image.
For this show they did at least give Luger a bit of an out by having him sell a leg injury, with the story being that he shouldn’t really be competing in the match but he was going to do it anyway because he was so gosh darn brave. You’d think that a stoppage finish where Luger’s leg went out and the referee ended it rather than Luger having to quit himself would be the most likely ending to the match seeing as it would be a way for him to lose without looking weak due to the match being in a cage, but WCW had other ideas (Oh my DID they!).
WCW had also been saddled with having to bring in RoboCop onto the show as RoboCop 2 was due to hit cinemas. Thus they had to pretend that RoboCop was an actual real super cop and not just some dude in a costume, which was overly silly even for something like wrestling. They couldn’t even get Peter Weller in to do it either, so it really is just a random bloke in the costume!
The event is emanating from Washington, DC on the 19th of May 1990
Calling the action are Jim Ross and Bob Caudle, with Tony Schiavone also doing some bits here and there
Hair Vs Hair
Theodore R. Long Vs Paul Ellering
Missy Hyatt is here to do the ring announcing and some other dude I don’t recognise is there to actually cut the hair. Long is the heel here and has boxing gloves and protective head gear, whilst Ellering looks pretty buff. He also looks a lot like Freddy Mercury with his moustache. Long does some standard manager offence in the early going with punches and whatnot, but Ellering soon fires back and hits Long with one of his own loaded boxing gloves for the three count
WINNER: PAUL ELLERING
Not really much to rate, but the crowd enjoyed watching Long get clobbered, so I’ll give it a pass
Long does indeed get his hair trimmed following that, but he still has quite a lot left, so it wasn’t much of a delivery on the stipulations.
The Horsemen of Ole Anderson, Arn Anderson and Sid Vicious join Tony Schiavone on the podium for some promo time. Ole sends threats Lugers way, saying they will not allow Flair to lose the belt tonight. Flair then joins them and cuts a fired up promo. Flair says Luger will be a one legged athlete for the rest of his life following the cage match tonight. There was probably a bit too much shouting going on here, but it was still good fun. Thankfully they didn’t let Sid talk and just had him standing at the back looking imposing, which is something a limited goof like him can just about manage.
Jim Cornette Must Be Locked In A Cage
NWA United States Tag Team Titles
Champs: Flyin’ Brian and The Z Man Vs The Midnight Express w/ Jim Cornette
I’m a fan of both of these teams, so I’m appropriately jazzed for some tag team action. Apparently accordingly to a Cornette shoot interview they actually wanted to make this a more intense feud than it actually was with The MX attacking Brian’s throat, thua causing Brian to need to wear a protective collar that The MX could then try and rip it off to reinjure his throat and likely draw mega heat in the process, but the booking committee wasn’t having it because they thought it was two big an angle to do in the mid-card.
Cornette gets all his stooging in early because he knows he’s going to be locked in the cage, with him running around ringside and then eventually getting bumped by the referee before being dragged to the cage by the babyfaces. That leads to a fun dynamic in the match itself, as the Champs get a considerable shine on The MX due to the challengers being off their game due to not having their manager at ringside to coach them. It’s a simple story that makes sense and it’s accompanied with some frankly superb tag team action, with Brian and Bobby Eaton in particular being the absolute dog’s unmentionables.
Z Man was always one of those guys that could do good stuff as the Marty Jannetty of a tag team but never really had the skills to be a major star as a single, although he did have the TV Title at one stage. Stan Lane was of course a consummate tag team star, being part of numerous tandems and doing an excellent job of taking The Midnight Express team in a new direction when he joined it as Eaton’s partner whilst still doing the legacy justice at the same time. These two teams just work well together as opponents too, and it’s a shame they weren’t allowed to heat the feud up as they wanted to as it could have led to this being a much talked about and well liked rivalry, as opposed to it essentially being a footnote in The Midnight Express’ overall story.
Eventually the cut off comes from Brian missing a running tackle, sending him flying out to the floor where Eaton pounces with a spinning neck breaker to really put the hurt on him. Brian of course sells all of that fantastically and is very much the face in peril once he gets back inside. The MX’s tandem offence in the heat is as smooth as ever, and Brian knows exactly how to bump and feed for it to make it look good. They get just the right mix between keeping it interesting with the action whilst still being heels and trying to draw sympathy for Brian as a babyface.
The crowd gets behind Brian, especially when he starts bleeding at one stage, and he actually manages to kick out of the Alabama Jam for a great pop before getting a desperation gut wrench slam and making the hot tag to Zenk. Zenk smartly stands in the middle and mostly waits for the heels to come to him, leading to a smooth hot tag segment, but end ends up getting double teamed and hit with the Rocket Launcher for another two. These near falls have been great and the timing on the kick outs has been spot on. Things break down and we get one of my favourite finishes, as Stan catches Zenk with an enziguri and Eaton just rolls him up for three.
WINNERS AND NEW CHAMPIONS: THE MIDNIGHT EXPRESS
This was some darn fine tag team action and I would strongly suggest you check this one out if you’ve never seen it
Meanwhile, RoboCop is here, with a gaggle of security. Poor Gordon Solie is the one roped in to cover this, but the camera goes out as RoboCop walks by.
Sting joins us to give us an update on his leg injury, but The Horsemen show up and lock him in the cage from the previous match. RoboCop comes out for the rescue though and pulls the door off the cage, allowing Sting to escape. This actually gets a genuinely big pop from the crowd, so I guess it kind of worked? Urgh, now I feel dirty…
Tony Schiavone is with Junkyard Dog, who cuts a good promo about how he’s there to take on The Horsemen and Mean Mark. Sadly he was absolutely done physically at this stage, so he couldn’t back up the talk with his in-ring. Jim Cornette interrupts the promo for some ranting of his own, but JYD makes a joke about Cornette’s mum and then chases him off. That was a genuinely fun segment.
Corporal Punishment Strap Match
Michael P.S. Hayes and Jimmy Jam Garvin Vs The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express
This was kind of a natural feud due to both teams having the rock gimmick, although they both represent different aspects of the genre. The RnR were also a genuinely top level tag team in the ring, so it was likely that they could get some good matches out of The Freebirds, who were a great act but not exactly always known for providing good action within the ropes unless Terry Gordy was involved in some fashion.
The stipulation here is that both teams can use a leather strap anyway they see fit, but they aren’t actually tied to one another. There’s plenty of stalling and character work in the early going, but that’s what Hayes and Garvin are good at, so it remains entertaining and the RnR do a good job of shining on them whilst they stooge and bump around. It’s not a wrestling clinic or anything, but it’s good fun and is the sort of Southern Tag Team Style that works so well when the formula is on point.
They even bust out the old school stereo Figure Four Leg Lock spot at one stage, and I’m kind of a sucker for this stuff so I’m having a jolly good time. The Freebirds do eventually work a bit of heat on Gibson, which was pretty unusual as it was normally Morton who took the heat, and Jim Ross is so used to calling RnR matches that he accidentally calls Gibson by the wrong name a few times because it’s ingrained into him that it’s always Morton that takes the heat. Gibson actually does a decent job as the face in peril, but it doesn’t last that long and Morton is soon in.
Morton gets a bit of a flurry, but not a full on hot tag segment, and he actually gets clocked by Hayes from the apron to set up our second heat segment of the match, with Morton now in his more recognisable role of getting clobbered by the heels. It works like a treat as always too, as the crowd gets behind him and roots for him to make the comeback, whilst he sells the attacks of the heel team perfectly. There’s one bit where he teases making a comeback but Hayes catches him with this excellent quick fire punch out of nowhere and he just crumples in a heap. It’s spectacular selling.
Gibson eventually gets the hot tag and runs wild, trying a sleeper on Hayes, which is just what the Z Man tried at the end of his hot tag actually. That gets broken up by Garvin and Hayes drops Gibson with a DDT. Hayes stupidly doesn’t cover though because he’s a dumb heel, and that allows Morton to come in with a Sunset Flip for three. Technically Morton wasn’t really the legal man there, but you can kind of excuse that by saying the ref got confused on who was legal due to everyone going at it, which is the usual excuse given for things like that and it does kind of make sense.
WINNERS: ROCK ‘N’ ROLL EXPRESS
I enjoyed that one quite a bit, as it was a perfect mesh of wily cheating heels and wizened battling babyfaces, and they took it home at the peak so it didn’t overstay it’s welcome
Doug Furnas is with Tony Schiavone. He puts over Lex Luger for climbing off his sick bed to wrestle Ric Flair. Sting then pops in to do the same.
NWA Tag Team Titles
Champs: The Steiner Brothers Vs The Tag Team Combination of DOOM w/ Theodore R. Long
Doom are Ron Simmons and Butch Reed. They’d originally come in as mystery masked men under the charge of Woman, but they’ve left her side now and are going under actual names again with Long as their manager, which made them a more rounded act and put them in a position of being credible challengers. They’d been feuding on and off with The Steiner’s ever since first showing up in the autumn of 1989. Doing yet another tag match after two previous ones feels like a bit of a scheduling snafu, but the matches themselves have been good thus far at least.
This is four big, strong and scarily athletic dudes clobbering the cheese soufflé out of one another, which is almost always fun impressive stuff, and this is no exception. It’s a shame we never got to see either of these teams going at it with the top sides of the WWF from this era such as The Hart Foundation, Demolition and Rockers, as I reckon every combination of The Steiners or Doom with those three teams would have resulted in some great matches.
The Steiner’s get the babyface shine in the early going, with both members of Doom taking plenty of bumps for the Champs to make them look good. It’s not long before both Simmons and Reed are DRENCHED in sweat because they are MOVING in this one brother! The crowd loves it too, as does Jim Ross on commentary, as he’s like a pig in chardonnay seeing these legitimate real life athletes fling themselves around for his viewing enjoyment.
Eventually Reed just clocks Scott Steiner with a big knee smash and then soup cans him out to the floor, where Simmons lays a whupping on him for the cut off (talking some quality smack with the fans on the front row for good measure). Ross makes sure to push on commentary that Simmons is Burt Reynolds favourite wrestler. Well, that would sure change at WrestleMania X where Reynolds bestowed that honour onto Bret Hart (Likely with tears in his eyes).
Scott does fire off an Exploder Suplex at one stage on Simmons, but Simmons immediately shrugs it off and goes back to working heat on him, including an absolute Whopper of a clothesline that looked so snug that Scotty’s far off future relatives probably got a cold shiver down their spines. Reed then SPIKES him with a piledriver that looked utterly vicious but would appear to be safe seeing as Scott isn’t immediately hospitalised immediately upon impact.
Scott eventually manages to catch Simmons with the Frankensteiner and its hot tag Rick, as he hits Reed so hard that you can almost see Reed’s soul momentarily leave his body. This match has been a real life fight with a modicum of cooperation and it’s been outrageously entertaining! In trend tonight, they take it home pretty quickly following the hot tag, as Rick tries to superplex Reed but Simmons attacks him and helps Reed land on top for the three count, as the crowd is almost in shock.
WINNERS AND NEW CHAMPIONS: DOOM
This was a WAR and I LOVED it!!!
Tony Schiavone is with the new Champs following that, where Long says losing his hair was worth gaining the tag belts. He is then kind enough to invite Tony to the post-match party. Hey, nothing says a rocking party like Tony Schiavone am I right?
NWA World Heavyweight Title
Steel Cage Match
Champ: Ric Flair w/ Woman Vs NWA United States Champion Lex Luger
This is NWA Cage rules, which means you win by pin or submission as opposed to escaping the cage (Although that would have been another way to protect Luger as Flair could have bolted for the door whilst Luger tangled with The Horsemen). Woman would have another stint as a manager for Flair in 1996 as well, and they’re a good combination. I like how WCW had the cage come down from the rafters long before the WWF finally worked that out, as it means you don’t have to faff around with an intermission whilst the cage is set up.
For some reason Woman is actually allowed inside the cage (Which is more like a Hell in Cell cage without a roof as there’s space around ringside) which strikes me as something that shouldn’t really be allowed as it essentially puts Luger in a two on one situation in a match that is supposed to keep other people out so that it can be a fair fight. Woman has even snuck a weapon into the cage, which Luger is thankfully smart enough to demand the referee check for. Hey, babyfaces who aren’t idiots, what a novel idea!
Flair Vs Luger is almost always good and this collision between them is no different, with Luger showing some good fire in the babyface shine, and even managing to get some military press slams despite his knee injury. Flair decides he’s had enough pretty quickly and tries to climb to safety, but Luger stops him and we get some brawling around, which Flair gets the better of and leads to him controlling things back inside, getting a super impressive hanging vertical suplex, only for Luger to no sell it and fire up with the ten punches in the corner.
I just love how a Ric Flair match always keeps you guessing like that, as it seemed for all intents and purposes that we were going to settle into the heel heat segment, but just like that Luger is back on top again and the crowd are jazzed for it. Flair tries escaping again but Luger stops him and flings him into the cage a few times. Now brace yourself, because I have some shocking news and I don’t want it to affect you too much. Are you sitting down? Okay, here goes. Flair bleeds following that. Yes, Ric Flair does a blade job. I hope this shocking development doesn’t rock your world too much. If we all relax and take a moment I think we can persevere.
Anyway, Luger continues to batter a now bloody Flair and it continues to be all kinds of entertaining, as babyface Lex Luger beating the onion rings out of heel Ric Flair is almost scientifically guaranteed to be enjoyable due to how well they play their respective roles. The crowd loves it too, as you’d expect, and in a world where Sting wasn’t the heir apparent you could genuinely argue that they should have just switched the belt here as the crowd is ready for it. Instead, they do a neat cut off spot as Luger jars his injured knee following a superplex and that allows Ric Flair to take him (WOOOOOO) to school.
Flair works the leg over in his usual indomitable style, and Luger does a great job selling it all. I’ll be honest and say that I never really thought Lex Luger that much of a wrestler back in the day, as the first time I ever really got to see him was when he was in the Wolfpac and had essentially given up on ever having a good match ever again and was just getting paid to party with his mates and missus, but the dude could work before 1997 crushed his spirit.
Luger survives the onslaught on his knee and makes the comeback, which is the cue for The Horsemen to show up to try and help their meal ticket. Luger gets some near falls whilst The Horsemen desperately try to break their way into the cage, which leads to Sting running down to fight with them. El Gigante even shows up as well, which causes The Horsemen to bail and seemingly leave the door open for Luger to finally win the Title. However, the cage raises a bit due to Ole Anderson and that leads to Barry Windham running in for the DQ.
WINNER BY DISQUALIFICATION: LEX LUGER
Yes, WCW booked a DQ IN A CAGE MATCH. What really boils my pish is that Luger and Flair were on the way to having a potential Full Monty match before it happened too, but that bullshine of a finish has to be reflected in the overall rating
The Horsemen manage to get the cage lowered again so they can do the heel beat down, but Sting and Gigante eventually get it raised again and run down for the rescue.
Despite the ludicrousness of that finish in the Main Event, this show had some darn fine professional wrestling on it and the Turner cut is probably one of the best videos you can ever get based purely on match quality.
Seriously though, a DQ in a cage match?!?!