The SmarK Rant for WCW Battlebowl 93 – 11.20.93
I WARNED YOU THAT I WOULD REVIEW THIS SHOW JUST TO SPITE 1993 VINCE. And now here’s where we are. I’m reviewing Battlebowl 93 again.
Live from Pensacola, FL, drawing 7,000 and a 0.27 buyrate, or about 60,000 buys and one of the worst numbers in PPV history.
Your hosts are Tony Schiavone & Jesse Ventura
This concept was always weird because it’s not like the first two iterations of the concept made any kind of positive impact on the buyrates, and it was kind of a dumb idea in the first place since the two choices were “Unrelated random partners” (which means no one cares who wins) or “Contrived wacky partners” (which means the whole thing seems even more fake).
Mean Gene, in full lecher mode, does the drawings with Fifi to determine teams. So this is kind of like WCW’s attempt to combine the wacky tag team action of the Survivor Series with the unpredictable random nature of the Royal Rumble, while failing miserably on both accounts. That takes some real skill from the people running the promotion. You just need to add a reverse battle royale to end the night and you’ve got a nightmare Vince Russo scenario.
Cactus Jack & Vader v. Kane (Stevie Ray) & Charlie Norris
Astonishingly, our very first match features Cactus Jack teaming with Vader just a month after they main evented Halloween Havoc in a DEATH MATCH! What are the odds of that? Although Kole was announced in the drawing, Kane comes out instead and Tony is like “Eh, I guess it doesn’t matter which member of Harlem Heat comes out.” I feel like I’m falling for cheap imitations somehow. If only someone had warned me! We get some brawling between Jack and Vader before Harley Race talks Vader off the ledge and warns him that they need to make it to the finals, because reasons. So Norris and Stevie double team Cactus for a bit, but Vader finally calms down and comes in to beats on Norris before splatting him with the Vaderbomb. So they bring Charlie to the floor and Vader even sets up Norris for a senton from Jack as they show some teamwork. Back in, Vader continues beating on Norris and he’s so bad that he can barely even figure out how to sell properly. Jack drops a leg on him for two. How hard is it to sell a beating from Vader? Jack with a back suplex and Norris can barely go up for that, and then he pops up and tags Stevie back in like nothing is wrong. Stevie and Norris double-team Jack with some stuff in the corner and Norris gets an ugly powerslam and a big boot to put Jack on the floor. Back in, Norris throws the big overhand chops, which Tony informs us is his primary move, but his real primary move appears to be the chinlock. Jack somehow escapes that chinlock and fights back with a DDT on Stevie Ray, and makes a (hot?) tag to Vader, who quickly swats Norris down and splashes him. He finishes with a powerbomb at 7:23, although Norris is so horrendous that he seemingly goes dead weight in the air and Vader kind of falls backwards and lands on the ropes on the way down before pinning the doofus. A tremendous start that probably would have had me changing the channel. ½* “We’ve got 7 more tag team matches!” promises Tony. Lucky me.
Paul Roma & Erik Watts v. Johnny B. Badd & Brian Knobbs
I’m not sure if I heard it right through the headphones, but it sounded like someone in the heel room snarked “That damn guinea” when Roma’s name was announced. Roma was still a babyface member of the Horsemen at this point although he was so deeply unpopular that the heel turn was inevitable. Badd grabs a headlock on Roma and the fight for a hiptoss, but Badd takes him down with an armdrag and works on that. Knobbs comes in and Jesse jokes about how Missy Hyatt is probably happy to be at ringside so that Gene can’t grope her, and then corrects himself and notes that she’d probably enjoy it. And then WCW was SHOCKED that she eventually sued them for sexual harassment. SHOCKED. Watts comes in and trade rollups with Badd and that’s pretty awful, so Roma comes back in and slams Badd to take over again. Back to Watts and Badd works the arm, as I should note that Erik sadly has “STF” written on his tights as though it’s this big finisher that everyone cares about. Jesse when Knobbs gets in to brawl: “Erik Watts can forget about wrestling!” He’s WAY ahead of you on that one, Jess. Badd and Watts trade some more armbars, but Roma and Watts double-team Badd and Roma gets two. Powerslam from Roma, but Missy takes the ref and Knobbs breaks it up with an elbow. So Badd takes Roma down with a headlock as I’m wondering if this match is EVER going somewhere. And then Roma gets his own headlock as we’re nearing 10:00 and absolutely nothing has happened. Missy trips up Roma and Knobbs comes in and beats on Roma on the floor. Back in, Knobbs with a suplex for two while Missy yells at Badd for not wanting to cheat. I agree with Tony here – If you’re going to be a goodie-two shoes and cost yourself the match, you deserve to lose. Knobbs with the abdominal stretch, but Badd refuses to help from the apron, and Roma makes the tag to Watts. Yeah that’ll help. Watts with a slam and an elbow on Knobbs, but Knobbs rolls through a bodypress for the pin at 12:59 to advance to the finals. I hope Watts was wearing a cup because Knobbs had a GENEROUS handful of Erik’s privates if not. Or maybe he was into it, I’m not here to judge. Match was a boring, meandering mess. *
The Shockmaster & Paul Orndorff v. Ricky Steamboat & Lord Steven Regal
Amazingly, we get ANOTHER pair of people in a feud! WHAT ARE THE ODDS? Tony and Jesse have a funny recap of the issues here, noting that Orndorff, Steamboat and Regal all traded the TV title. And Shockmaster fell through a wall. Eh, I’m sure people will forget all about that someday. Orndorff at least has legit heel heat here. He trades headlocks with Steamboat and tosses him, but Ricky of course skins the cat and takes him to the floor with the headscissors. They slug it out with a hot brawl out there and Paul comes in with an elbow, but Steamboat catches him with an elbow on the way down and gets two. Hey, this is Battlebowl, tone down that shit! Steamboat gets a headlock and Orndorff tries rolling him over with the tights and gets two, while Regal makes disgusted faces on the apron and complains to Sir William. Orndorff beats on Steamboat with forearms in the corner, but Dragon hits him with an atomic drop and they collide for the double down. “He’s a bloody imbecile!” comments Regal from the apron when Steamboat won’t tag him, but finally Steamboat relents and brings Regal in for the showdown with the SHACKMASTER. Shockmaster counters a headlock by messing up Regal’s hair for more classic Regal reactions, so Regal gives him the forearm and then wisely backs off. Regal tries a bodypress and gets slammed, and Orndorff comes in again while Shockmaster leads chants against his own partner! “He must be part of the labor movement, look how stupid he is,” notes Jesse. And then Steamboat beefs at Regal for some reason. Regal grabs a headlock on Orndorff and controls on the mat, and a hiptoss gets two. Orndorff with a backslide for two and we actually get some sportsmanship with a handshake and Steamboat bitches about THAT, too! Regal and Orndorff trade full nelson attempts and Regal rolls out of that, but Steamboat still can’t let the man do his thing and wants to be tagged again. So finally Regal relents and lets him in, and he immediately gets necked by Orndorff! He IS a bloody imbecile! Regal was right about everything! Orndorff gets a back suplex and tags Shockmaster, who immediately misses an elbow because he sucks. Steamboat tries to tag out but Regal gives him the short-arm, so Shockmaster forces a tag to Regal because he’s even dumber. But then Regal tries to get Sir William’s umbrella, but Steamboat grabs it and accidentally hits his own partner with it! What a dummy. And Shockmaster splashes and pins Regal at 12:14 to advance to the finals. This was just some bad teamwork all around, but clearly the best match and most fun of the show thus far. ***
Meanwhile, Mean Gene and Vader host a press conference where they run down all the cities bidding for Starrcade 93: Japan! New Zealand! Australia! Great Britain! South Africa! Sao Paulo! Vancouver! Mexico City! New York! Chicago! Des Moines! Des Moines? But Gene has the good news that Charlotte has won the bidding. Damn Charlotte, she always wins everything. But then Ric Flair interrupts the proceedings, and he wants to be part of the show, and he’s got a contract for Vader and everything. But Vader’s like “What are you going to offer for the shot?” Good point, Vader. Gene demands DECORUM, but Flair announces that if he doesn’t win the title, he’s retiring. Vader runs down all the geeks he’s broken, including the latest head on his wall, Sid Vicious, and Race quips that 83 was Flair’s first and 93 will be his last. Legitimately great stuff here.
And then we go from that to Mean Gene showing off a pair of handcuffs and joking about chaining up Fifi. Gimme a break.
Awesome Kong & The Equalizer v. King Kong & Dustin Rhodes
Oh lord. So the Kongs were Harley Race’s big fat masked tag team who were in and out of the sport, like a pair of Bastion Boogers with furry boots, and Equalizer is of course the future Evad Sullivan. So keep your expectations suitably low for this one. Equalizer gets armdragged by Dustin to start, but pounds away on him with clubbing forearms and brings in Awesome Kong. Dustin dropkicks him and rolls him up for two and it’s over to King Kong. But he declines to face his partner and tags Dustin back in, so Dustin makes his own comeback and slugs away on Awesome and then takes Equalizer down with another armdrag. So then King Kong comes in and beats on Equalizer as the crowd is so quiet that it’s turned into negative heat, with all the sounds of the match seemingly getting sucked into the black hole of non-reaction from the crowd and leaving silence in the ring. King Kong misses a big splash splash and Equalizer boots him down and then misses a legdrop. Keep in mind here that Equalizer is apparently trying to be John Nord, not even Bruiser Brody but just Nord the Barbarian, and he’s so bad that he can’t even do that right. The match is breaking loose in Tulsa and the Kongs team up to squish Equalizer in the corner, but Dustin bulldogs one of the Kongs and pins him to win at 6:00 and advance to the finals. Ludicrously terrible. In fact I’m pretty sure whoever booked this was guilty of something detailed in the Nuremberg trials. -**
WE’RE ONLY HALFWAY INTO THIS FUCKING SHOW.
Sting & Jerry Sags v. Ron Simmons & Keith Cole
Although Tony was entirely unconcerned about the members of Harlem Heat getting switched up, he’s passionate about pointing out that indeed it’s KEITH Cole out there and not his twin brother Kent. Sags stalls on the floor while he and Missy bitch at Sting about watching his back, and Sags gets a cheapshot on Simmons in the corner to start the match. Ron comes back with a shoulderblock and brings in the electrifying mullet of Keith Cole, who works on the arm. Meanwhile the horny crowd chants for Missy, who to be fair is wearing sheer tights that leave NOTHING to the imagination. Sags hits Cole with a short clothesline, but he refuses to tag Sting and chooses to continue choking Cole on the ropes. But then Keith comes back with another armbar and Sags yells for Sting to save him. That’s pretty funny, actually. So Sting finally does tag in while Jesse goes on this whole match-long running joke about Simmons moving to Notre Dame University because something something football. Sting tries a rollup on Simmons and they somehow fuck that up badly, but Ron lets Keith Cole have a go again. Sting gets a backslide for two and brings Sags in, so Cole goes with the ol’ armdrag again. Why is this guy even getting PPV time? Finally Simmons has had enough of this armbar shit and comes in with a powerslam on Sting to set up Cole for something better, and then Cole comes in with ANOTHER fucking armbar on Sting. I can understand Ron’s frustrations. Back to Ron, who catapults Sting under the ropes as he gets more heelish and yells at Keith to DO SOMETHING for once. So it’s back to Keith who is STILL doing this goddamn arm shit. Even Jesse is disgusted. So Sting makes his own comeback and destroys this geek with a suplex and Stinger Splash, but Sags makes the blind tag and finishes things with the Shitty Elbow at 13:10. And then Simmons is further sickened by this punk kid, and turns heel on him afterwards with the spinebuster before putting the boots to him. Wanna guess where that heel turn led? Hint: It rhymes with “absolutely fucking nowhere”. In fact this was Ron’s final WCW PPV appearance. ½*
Stunning Steve Austin & Ric Flair v. Maxx Payne & 2 Cold Scorpio
I should point out that we’re 90 minutes into this PPV and they’ve barely even bothered to specify what you WIN at the end. I think it’s a ring or something. But since we already know the main event of the next PPV, what even are the stakes here for any of this? No wonder no one bought this show. Including me! And I was funneling all my meager minimum wage income towards PPVs at this point and even I couldn’t justify this one. Payne chokes out Austin and throws him around the ring to start while Flair offers advice from the apron. Steve tries a suplex and Scorpio reverses out and flips into a dropkick, so Austin retreats and lets Flair have a shot. He immediately goes into the pinfall reversal sequence with Scorpio, who gets a backslide for two. Over to Payne, who slams Flair off the top rope, but misses an elbow. Tony runs down all the great champions that Flair beat for his 10 World titles, and Jesse quips “You’ll note I’m not on that list. Because he never beat me!” So I IMMEDIATELY had to run to Cagematch to check, and indeed, they never even were in the ring together, which is kind of crazy if you think about it. But it’s true: Ric never beat Jesse Ventura. Honestly I’ll take any excuse to switch windows and do something else besides watching this crappy, crappy show at this point. Like, back to the point about the stakes, why not make up some fake stakes for it? Say that the winners of each tag team get $50,000 or something, or whichever team wins fastest gets a tag title shot as a bonus, or SOMETHING. Anything. Scorpio trades more stuff with Flair and gets a rollup for two, but Flair blasts him with a chop and backdrops him out of the corner. Back to Austin, but Scorpio hits him with a superkick and goes to the top, allowing Austin to crotch him. That poor turnbuckle. Austin follows with a superplex for two and chokes him out, and Flair comes in with a kneedrop for two. Back suplex gets two and you know Flair is fine with fighting dirty. Austin drops a knee for two and goes to an abdominal stretch and grabs the ropes, but Flair pulls the hand off the ropes. I’ve never been more disappointed in Ric. So he tags himself in and gets the delayed suplex on Scorpio for two and sends Austin to the top rope, and Steve obliges with a flying elbow that gets two. Austin with the chinlock, but Scorpio fights back and makes the hot tag to Payne, as Austin tags out to Flair. So Maxx runs wild on Flair, but misses a blind charge and Flair pus him away with the figure-four at 14:30. Flair and Austin were actually really good as a team here. ***
Ravishing Rick Rude & Shanghai Pierce v. Marcus Alexander Bagwell & Tex Slazenger
THE GODWINNS EXPLODE! More importantly, I was beginning to worry we’d go through an entire 1993 WCW PPV without Marcus Alexander Bagwell. Gene does get one funny line while drawing the names for this one, quipping “Poor guy doesn’t even have a relative in the house” when the crowd is dead silent for the announcement of Shanghai’s name. However this is offset by the previous moment where he pretended to tie his shoe and presumably felt up Fifi while he was down there. Rude quickly beats on Bagwell and hits him with a suplex, but Bagwell works the arm and brings in Tex. Rude brings in Pierce for the battle of the Texicans, but Shanghai tags back to Rude and Tex attacks Rude from behind to take over. So then Bagwell comes in and works on Rude’s arm. Over to Pierce, as Bagwell misses a blind charge but comes back with a hiptoss and splash for two. Rude comes in and goes to work on Bagwell in the corner while putting the badmouth on him. Pierce beats on him with forearms, but Bagwell goes to a chinlock as this drags on. Why do they go through the machinations of putting tag team partners on opposite sides if they’re never going to pay it off and actually have them wrestle each other? Finally Rude pulls down ropes and Bagwell bumps to the floor, as Rude and Pierce take over. And we get extended chinlocks and bearhugs for minutes on end, but Bagwell fights out and tags Tex and we FINALLY get partners fighting. So Pierce and Slazenger slug it out, but Rude makes a blind tag, hits Tex with the Rude Awakening, and pins him at 14:45. Yeah, end the match just when it gets heat, that makes sense. *1/2
Hawk & Rip Rogers v. Davey Boy Smith & Kole (Booker T)
Rip Rogers is so excited to be Hawk’s partner that Hawk has to lay him out in annoyance, and then Davey puts the boots to him on the way by for fun. So Kole offers a hand and then stomps him down as well. So Hawk is by himself against Bulldog and Booker, and he fights for the lockup with Bulldog and they do a test of strength. Jesse questions why Hawk would turn on his own partner before the match even started. I’m gonna guess “drugs”. So Booker keeps yelling from the apron and Davey lets him tag in while Rip continues selling on the ramp, unable to make it to the apron as of yet. Booker beats on Hawk with forearms while Smith cheers for Hawk, which I will also attribute to drugs. Booker debuts the spinarooni on PPV and clotheslines Hawk, while poor Rip has only made to the apron now and he still has to get to the corner. Booker with a sideslam for two and then he stops to go beat on Rip while Davey continues cheering on Hawk. Why not just switch the teams and have Hawk and Bulldog teaming up? Booker with a forearm off the top on Hawk and he goes to put Rip down again, and it’s chinlock time. And Vince McMahon was worried about this show…WHY? When a match is so bad that you’re thinking “Man, I could go for the Four Doinks right about now,” you’ve already lost the battle. Booker goes up and misses a melodramatic elbow and Jesse points out that there’s no point in tagging in Davey anyway. But then Hawks makes his own comeback, presses Rip Rogers into the ring with a bodypress on Booker, and RIP ROGERS gets the pin at 8:00 to advance to the finals with Hawk. * None of this made a lick of sense.
Battlebowl finals: Vader, Cactus Jack, Brian Knobbs, Shockmaster, Johnny B. Badd, Paul Orndorff, Dustin Rhodes, King Kong, Sting, Jerry Sags, Steve Austin, Ric Flair, Rick Rude, Shanghai Pierce, Hawk and Rip Rogers
I don’t know what’s up with the music here but they had to delete it and then have someone redo the ring announcing overdubbed on top of it. Usual battle royale stuff to start and poor Rip gets thrown out at 0:45. Shanghai gets thrown out by someone at 1:20. Cactus Jack chokes away on Steve Austin in the corner. Maybe they’ll get to work a bigger program together someday. That oughta put butts in seats. Flair and Austin brawl on the floor after going through the ropes, while we get the dream match of King Kong and Shockmaster in the ring. Badd gets backdropped to the ramp but that’s still safe ground because WCW. But then Orndorff throws him out at 3:25 for real. Logistically, you should just spend the whole match on the side of the ring with the ramp, then. Vader throws out Cactus at 5:17 and Orndorff goes out via failed piledriver on Dustin at the same time. Shockmaster dumps Kong and then goes out himself at 5:32. So the replay of Cactus reveals that had he landed six inches to the left, he would have been on the ramp and thus not eliminated. How does that make any sense? It doesn’t. It’s like the Chewbacca defense. IT DOESN’T MAKE ANY SENSE. Vader dumps Sting out, but again he lands on the ramp so he’s still in it because WCW is stupid. More dull battle royale stuff as everyone lays on the ropes throwing punches while Jesse and Tony discuss the logistics of sharing the Battlebowl ring should the Nasty Boys win it. “How should they do that? One wears it one day, the other the next?” “Exactly!” “Well. Okay then.” Punch punch kick kick and we’ve run out of deadwood to clear so real stars have to start doing jobs now. More nothing as even Jesse is getting annoyed that no one is trying to win. Like seriously, there’s still 15:00 left in the show, are they just stalling to stretch out the runtime or something? Austin throws Dustin through the ropes and thus not out, and they fight on the floor as Austin runs him into the post. So here’s a shock: Dustin taps an artery before coming back into the ring. And everyone just stands around making no attempt to win, but FINALLY Dustin backdrops Sags out at 13:45 and then powerslams Knobbs out at 13:55, but Austin dumps Dustin at 14:00 and Hawk gets thrown out at 14:11 as we’re suddenly down to the final four already.
Final four: Ric Flair, Steve Austin, Sting and Vader
Vader beats on Flair in the corner, but misses a blind charge and hits the buckles, so Flair exits to the ramp and beats on Race while he has a chance. Poor Harley takes a suplex on the ramp, but Vader saves his manager and drops an elbow on Flair’s crotch before adding a splash on the ramp. You’d think Flair would thus have no chance to come back and win leading up to his career-defining title match at Starrcade. And you’d be right. Because WCW. So yeah, Flair goes out on a stretcher and he’s eliminated at 17:43. So Sting is alone with the heels and he cleans house on them to finally wake up the crowd. Vader puts him down, however, and Austin comes off the middle rope with an elbow as the heels toy with Sting. But then he fights back again and slugs both heels down until Austin cuts him off again. Austin goes up and misses a splash, and Vader hits Austin with a splash by mistake, but then he recovers and backdrops Sting to the ramp and follows him out. But then Austin falls to the floor from the ramp and thus he’s out at 23:50 and Sting is still alive. THIS MATCH IS STUPID. So Sting makes another comeback on Vader, but Vader splashes him. Sting fights back again and powers Vader onto the top rope, but he misses the Stinger Splash and lands on the floor, and Vader wins at 25:40. So yeah, Sting falls backwards into the loss and Vader goes over yet again in 1993 to end this nothing of a show.
Well, I sure showed 1993 Vince, I guess. Yay?