Ohio Valley Wrestling came up for some brief discussion in one of the threads this week. I’ve always liked Jim Cornette and won’t deny that it was the training ground for some of the biggest stars of the last twenty-plus years, but I’ve never actually liked the promotion itself. Corny says his best booking was in OVW, although I think it was just the promotion he put the most effort into the incredibly over-choreographed matches while screaming like a banshee on commentary. So, I thought I’d have a look at an episode from July of 2000 and see whether I’d been too harsh or was spot on.
Cold open with Mick Foley making an appearance at big show the Rockin’ Rumble, who’s doing the pace around the ring style of interview that I really dislike, but is actually really sincere with what he says.
Kane and the Damaja vs. Rob Conway and D’Lo Brown
Joined in process towards the end of the match, from the Rockin’ Rumble. Corny on commentary, probably recorded after the fact but presented like he’s doing it live (one of the stated annoying tropes in the aforementioned thread). Kane with the chokeslam on one and the Damaja (terrible name!) with Brain Damage (also a terrible name for a sit-out chokeslam) for the apparent win, but Kenny Bolin stops special guest referee Mick Foley from hitting three, leading him to get Socko in the mouth. Another referee comes in and counts it for the babyfaces while Corny continues to sell it like Austin/Michaels.
Now the intro, which is a really poorly selected series of clips from a show to the musical intro to White Wedding by Billy Idol of all things! Defo Corny producing!
Slick Robbie D. vs. The Damaja
Another problem I have with OVW is the layout of their arena. Crowd in the background, on the right (in front of commentators Corny and ring announcer Dean Hill in the crows nest) and behind the hard camera, but on the left there’s a wall that looks about five feet away. I know you’re stuck with it and can’t do anything with it, but it looks so bad. Damaja was someone Corny had a hard-on for and went to the WWF as Danny Basham before flunking out with fellow Corny golden boy Doug Basham, but I never saw it. Honestly, Robbie (a handsome, muscular black guy) looks like he has more about him and probably would’ve made it bigger or had more of a push if not for taking his own life due to not very nice circumstances. Damaja with a gourdbuster and clothesline as Corny is almost shouting at Joey Styles levels a minute in. Robbie comes back with a springboard elbow and springboard clothesline. Jim is trying to promote a War Games match at ST. TERESA’S GYM of all places. Damaja comes back with a retracted leg sweep, inverted atomic drop that obviously doesn’t connect and a cross body for two. Brain Damage attempt fails on try one, connects on try two. Again, Corny sells it like “Austin wins! Austin wins!”. OK match, obnoxious commentary.
The Damaja and Nick Dinsmore vs. Mr. Black and Rob Conway
Shit, how much Damaja does anyone need?! This is from last week, joined at the end. Mr. Black is a fat guy in a suit. Damaja gets Brain Damage (feels so stupid and sounds it too). Manager Kenny Bolin and his crony, subtly named Jerome Cronie, help attack after until Trailer Park Trash runs in. The Collector (I believe Sylvester Terkay) regains control for Bolin Services, but Rico Constantino joins in to bring it back. The bell is ringing non-stop to make it audibly annoying too. Mark Henry in next, in OVW to lose weight and wearing his black Sexual Chocolate singlet and trainers, takes out Rico before Kevin Nash wannabe “Big” Russ McCullough goes for him. Obvious promotion for the War Games as if you couldn’t tell.
Interview with Bolin Services. Kenny Bolin is pretty much a legitimate huckster and handles most of it. Rob Conway LOOKS fantastic with the body, hairstyle and gear, but sounds like a hick.
Al Snow vs. Nick Dinsmore
Highlights from the Rockin’ Rumble. Dinsmore had done jobs in WCW but had a pretty good look by this point, which was all gone by the time he went to WWE as Eugene (obviously). Hard to all anything with it being clip, clip, clip. Teddy Long is refereeing here. Snow does pull the wheelbarrow suplex, his SMW finisher, out of mothballs for two. Really contrived near-finish where Snow hits Dinsmore with Head and a fallen Long starts counting until he just suddenly sees it laying nearby before counting three and stops to question it. That gives Dinsmore the chance to German suplex Al for three.
Interview back at the show with Nick Dinsmore, and his baggy jeans could not be any more 1999. Dinsmore impressed Bruce Prichard and Kevin Kelly enough to merit a WWF developmental contract. What a poisoned chalice that would be! Dinsmore sounds pretty country too but at least is a better talker than Conway was. Flash Flanagan, who I never saw anything in, comes in to throw a tantrum about not getting one. He gets a weak jab on Dinsmore, which of course has to lead to a blade job, while Corny and some referees ineffectively try to stop him and then steals the belt. Very gory bleeding from Dinsmore, to be fair.
Back from a break, a follow-up interview with Dinsmore venting about what just happened. Corny makes a match for Tuesday at the church gym between the two. Could see what they were going for, but felt so indie.
The Disciples of Synn vs. The Payne Thrillers
Highlights again from the Rockin’ Rumble (an eighties name if ever there was one), with BJ Payne about to DDT Slash (Wolfie D), but stopped by Synn (Corny’s wife Stacey). Payne is one of those guys who wrestles in a t-shirt. He’s stolen D’Lo Brown’s moveset, as he hits the Sky-High on her but misses the Lo-Down. The Disciples get a bad 3-D on him for the win. Whoever Payne’s partner was doesn’t get seen at all in this clip.
Back at the arena, an interview with the Disciples of Synn, kicked off by soothsayer Judas, with Southern baptist accent and painted eyebrows. Slash sounds like Wolfie D just doing a cult member interview and calls out the Payne Thrillers, with just Payne stumbling and bumbling over his words and partner Scotty Saber nowhere to be seen. That leads to a rematch later in the show to an apathetic reaction, with everyone just standing about.
Trailer Park Trash vs. Flash Flanagan
From the Rumble again in highlights form. Trailer Park Trash looks pretty much as you’d expect and is probably about 40, but even for being a bit clunky at least has a bit more of a legitimate way of moving than the other trainees. This is a hardcore match for the hardcore championship. Dutch Mantel, who is staying out of shot the majority of the time, is the special guest referee. Corny continues his exaggerated Jim Ross impression. Dutch and Flash get into it a bit. Trash beats Flash with a legdrop off the ladder to a prone Flash on a table. Looked far better than most of the stuff in the show so far.
Back from a break, Scotty Saber isn’t there, so BJ Payne asks for more time before the tag title match.
Shelton Benjamin vs. The Collector
The Collector is the star here with Benjamin treated more like a jobber, even though he’d be the one that would have greater success. Very awkward “shootish” wrestling to start. Corny runs down Benjamin’s accomplishments. A minute into the match, and very obviously so, Dean gets on the mic and says that he lasted the three minutes that the Collector and Kenny Bolin say nobody can last with the former. Not even a minute, actually. Total bullshit. That earns Shelton $25k, then he gets $50k for pulling out an upset. Fair play of building someone, but isn’t the Collector one of the guys in the imminent War Games match?
Mark Henry vs. Guido Andretti
Andretti has a homely girl and one of his buddies with him. Mark gets on the mic to show offense at being booked with this redneck (his words) and forfeits the match, then beat the Sopranos wannabe and his paisan up. Nothing to this.
The Disciples of Synn vs. The Payne Thrillers
Damien (SMW alumni Brian Logan) is a particularly endomorphic guy with badly dyed hair and trying too hard. Scotty Saber still isn’t there, so he says he’ll take on either one instead and if they beat him he’ll forego the tag title match on Tuesday. Synn tells him to piss up a rope and that she’ll sic both guys on him instead, so it’s a handicap match. He does decently well with some bulldogs and clotheslines, but gets caught with a flying clothesline from Damien, another t-shirt wrestler, even though his belly is on show all the time. Trash Compactor and then an airplane spin of all things from Slash for two. Jim is doing the “IF ONLY SOMEONE COULD COME TO HIS AID… !” call, so Chris Michaels runs out to team up with BJ Payne. He looks like another Flash Flanagan guy who Corny would love because he can work but looks like nothing. He avoids the Disciples’ moves and gets a sleeper on Slash, so Synn runs in with her hairspray to get him in the eyes for the DQ. And it’s bell-ring-a-mania as Slash gets his knife and Corny acts like he’s going to murder him until Trash and Damaja make the save.
Melting it down: Scott’s reviews of Mid South show that you can have a busy, exciting show in under one hour. This kind of show knew that as well, but as I’ve said before there’s a difference between claiming excitement and just screaming at you for an hour. So, I again dispute Corny’s claims that this was his best booking work and counter that it’s his favourite booking work because he was booking to please someone, and that someone tended to have a tennis racket close to hand even if he didn’t play it. All the gear, no idea… that actually sums up the OVW training philosophy, actually. Excessive and senseless.
Next weekend: As requested, a little look at the XWF.