Happy Saturday Everyone!
I decided to review this show because I remember there being a couple of fun matches on it and there’s the usual WCW ineptitude from this Era that I can poke fun at now and then. This was the show probably most known for the shade thrown at it by Scott Keith when he asked “What if they had a pay per view and nobody cared?”
Scott actually busted out the old Hot Poker system for this show, although I’ve never really felt it was a show deserving of being in that category, especially when you think some of the really putrid shows WCW would put on during this period.
WCW itself was a pretty lousy product at the time from a storyline perspective, with Ric Flair in the role of WCW President and doing wacky things like ending up in an asylum because he thought he was actually the President of the United States. The New World Order angle had all but fizzled out, whilst Diamond Dallas Page was on top of the promotion as World Champ.
Thankfully there was still some good wrestling on the under card in order to help keep the shows bearable, but overall WCW was a DISTANT second to the WWF in the Spring of 99, with the WWF only kicking on to further success whilst WCW started to implode as a result of around 18 months of ridiculous mismanagement.
Around this period was when the chickens started coming home to roost from a ratings, buy rates and ticket sales perspective. 1998 had still been a successful year from a purely commercial perspective, but things started falling around this time period and they fell HARD!
The event is emanating from St Louis, MI on the 9th of May 1999
Calling the action are Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan and Mike Tenay
The opening video package mostly focuses on Sting Vs Goldberg as well as Roddy Piper Vs Ric Flair, but they do hype up some of the other matches as well.
The Announce Team talk about the show for a bit once the pyro and music have stopped, which was always something they used to do and it always felt like it would kill the momentum at the start of one of these events. Get a match in the ring for hecks sake!
Mean Gene Okerlund continues to slow things down by hyping up his hotline. I don’t care; let us have some wrestling you absolute tools!!
WCW Tag Team Titles
Champs: Billy Kidman and Rey Mysterio Jr Vs Chris Benoit and Dean Malenko w/ Arn Anderson Vs Raven and Perry Saturn
Benoit and Malenko were still representing the Four Horsemen at the time of this show and succeed in drawing actual Heel heat during their entrance. Raven and Saturn had reconciled following their big feud in 1998 and were now wrestling as babyfaces, whilst Kidman and Rey had been getting a reasonable push due to their impressive in-ring skills, even though they were smaller guys mixing it up with the heavyweights. In some ways putting this match on first is a smart idea because it’s almost guaranteed to be fun and it’ll be a hot way to open things, but it’s also unlikely that WCW will have anything else that can match it later on when they could have saved to it and pulled it out later on in the show.
Someone has a “Rey & Kidman Champs” sign in the crowd, which is stating the obvious somewhat but at least it’s factually accurate. This one is all-action, with three guys being legal whilst their respective partners wait on the apron for tags, although they of course all come into the ring liberally. All of the bigger guys are more than happy to treat Kidman and Rey as equals who they can bump and sell for, which really helps with the match flow. The crowd really gets into the hot moves and near falls. There are a few moments where the guys’ timing is off, with the odd sloppy moment occasionally taking me out of the match, but overall the match is good fun and the crowd gets into it.
The Horsemen team lean into their status as Heels, and are even able to believably work heat on both of the opposing teams at the same time by keeping the other two guys out of the ring so they can focus on the two who are in there with them. CageMatch.net seems to think there were around 20,000 in the venue for this one and it certainly looks pretty full, so that figure might be accurate and highlights how WCW was still salvageable at this stage if they’d actually managed to get a grip from a creative standpoint. The product felt flatter than a pancake in the Spring of 99 and they still got a decent amount of people to show up for this event. It just makes it all the more depressing about how quickly things went off a cliff.
The finishing stretch sees all six men getting in there at one stage of another, with Kidman and Rey seemingly being the most popular of the two babyface teams, with all of their big moves getting the biggest reactions. There are some great spots and sequences, such as Saturn countering a Rey rana off the top into a big sit out powerbomb at one stage. Anderson even pops in with a Spine Buster on Saturn at one stage, but then Kanyon comes in to jam the ropes on Kidman, which allows Raven to give Kidman a DDT. Raven pins Kidman whilst a still dazed Saturn is placed in Malenko’s Texas Cloverleaf and Saturn is able to hang on so that Raven can pick up the win.
WINNERS AND NEW CHAMPIONS: RAVEN & SATURN
I know some rate this one considerably higher, but there really were quite a few moments where guys were on different pages and the match got pretty sloppy as a result. It was still an entertaining match though and a hot opener
Raven, Saturn and Kanyon celebrate with their new tag belts, although Kanyon would end up turning on his buddies in short order.
Diamond Dallas Page view package, showing him beating people up. It doesn’t really tell us much else about him, but at least we can see that he’s a dangerous dude.
Stevie Ray w/ Vincent and Horace Hogan Vs Konnan
Stevie was the current leader of the Black and White nWo faction, which had basically become lackeys to the “real” nWo Elite faction that had the likes of Kevin Nash and Hollywood Hogan in it. It sounds like Konnan’s music is dubbed over here with his entrance theme from WCW Mayhem on the PSX. Stevie Ray and Konnan had an absolutely awful match at World War III 1998, with a terrible finish to boot, so I’m not optimistic about this one. Konnan was an entertaining mid-card act but Stevie was the exact wrong sort of guy to match him with.
Konnan used to be in the Wolfpac with Nash, and Nash supposedly helped him out on Nitro so that’s led to dissension amongst the nWo groups. Of course there was dissension almost every week from about December 1996 onwards so it wasn’t really much of a story by this stage. Konnan gets a bit of a shine on Stevie until Stevie sends him to the floor so that his buddies can work Konnan over a bit before putting him back into the ring. We hit Rest-Hold City following that, with Stevie applying the loosest most pathetic chin lock I think I’ve ever seen.
There’s a notable botch where they seem to get confused as to whether Stevie is supposed to throw a clothesline or not, leading to an awkward moment where they kind of just stand there until Stevie finally delivers the move. Konnan has been all over the place in this one actually, which makes me think he had his bell rung early on or something because he doesn’t appear to be at the races at all. Konnan eventually gets his foot up to block a Stevie whatever from the second rope and makes a sloppy comeback.
Vincent and Horace get involved again though, which brings Rey Mysterio Jr down to help out his buddy Konnan. Stevie gets distracted by that and this gives Konnan an opening for a School Boy in order to pick up the three count. The winning pin got a bit of a pop at least but the match itself was absolute mince.
Ugh, this was rough
We get a Kevin Nash video package now, which mostly shows Nash taunting as opposed to clips of him actually doing impressive moves like powerbombs. Again, I’m not sure what that video was supposed to tell us other than Nash being someone who likes to taunt a lot whilst his music plays.
Rick Steiner is at the internet table and says he has something to prove later on, as well as thinking Booker T is in CAHOOTS with Stevie Ray.
Sting Video package now, where he stands looking moody in the rain. See, that one actually told us something a bit about his personality.
Diamond Dallas Page is chatting with Bam Bam Bigelow backstage about something.
Brian Knobbs Vs Bam Bam Bigelow
Neither man has entrance music here actually, which kills both of their pops. Bigelow had been one of the main stars of WCW’s new Hardcore Division, whilst Knobbs had recently returned to WCW as a singles guy due to regular partner Jerry Saggs being injured. Knobbs was a natural fit for this division of course, as hitting folks with plunder was something he regularly did during his tag team days.
This is every WCW Hardcore match you’ve ever seen, as they clobber one another with weapons whilst the commentary team treats it like a comedy break, which was always how the division was treated in WCW. The WWF would sometimes treat it like comedy as well, but it at least had some semblance of seriousness to it as well. The crowd doesn’t really seem to care that much about this one, even though both guys are taking some heavy hits and working hard. It’s almost eerie seeing these guys just wallop one another with these weapons and the crowd barely respond to it.
There is a notable moment where they brawl over by the entrance area and ends up revealing a load of empty seats by removing one of the curtains. I bet the production guys were pulling their hair out at that point, especially as they’ve done a good job of shooting this one so far in order to make it look full. Knobbs ends up botching the finish a bit as well as he’s supposed to miss an elbow drop and go through a table, but he overshoots the table and lands on the concrete, so Bammer has to suplex him through the table for three.
WINNER: BAM BAM BIGELOW
Horrible ending aside, this was about as good as two guys hitting each other with weapons in front of an non-invested crowd was going to be
We get a video package to hype up the next match. Stevie Ray helped Booker T win a match against Rick Steiner even though Harlem Heat split in 1998 and now Rick Steiner doesn’t trust Booker T.
WCW World Television Title
Champ: Booker T Vs Rick Steiner
Both of these guys are ostensibly babyfaces here, although Steiner gets a considerably bigger pop than Booker, who gets a pretty flat reaction all things considered. The match doesn’t have much of a reaction either, keeping the trend going of the crowd not being that into the wrestling tonight. The match itself is fine from an in-ring perspective, with it coming across as a contest between two men trying to out-fight one another. They don’t always appear to be on the same page, but both men throw plenty of snug shots at one another, with Steiner also adding some suplexes and throws for good measure.
The match is worked mostly back and forth, with neither man working a heat segment and instead each man getting a chance to control things for a bit. Both men look to be putting a little bit of stink behind everything to get across the idea that they don’t like or trust one another even though they are both operating on the babyface side of the divide. The lack of crowd reactions really hurts it though, as it just makes the whole match feel flat even though both guys are working a believable looking fight. Not having a clear babyface for the crowd to get behind certainly hasn’t helped either.
Booker does finally get some sustained offence going with things like Missile Dropkicks and the crowd gets a little bit more invested. Scott Steiner ends up running down to help his brother, although Rick doesn’t seem to want his help. The fans still bark for Rick even though his Heel brother is suddenly helping him out for no reason. Scott ends up tripping Booker, unseen to Rick, and that leads to Rick coming off the top rope with a Bulldog for the three count and the Title
WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: RICK STEINER
Steiner’s TV Title reign was pretty awful, with him spending most of his Title defences just chewing up his opponents and giving them very little, thus killing off the appeal of the belt as the “workhorse” division where you could expect to get some good wrestling each week and some interesting match combinations. Instead it just became all about Steiner killing off his challengers and the division soon became a chore as a result. The match itself wasn’t bad from a wrestling perspective, but the crowd just didn’t care
We get a video to hype up the next match. Randy Savage and Heel authority figure Ric Flair were having a feud, so Savage laid down the challenge for his girlfriend Gorgeous George to take on Flair’s lackey Charles Robinson. Robinson was very entertaining in the role of the smarmy Andy Kaufman styled misogynist and it quickly became one of the more enjoyable feuds on Nitro as a result.
Rick Steiner is looking for his brother backstage and bumps into Buff Bagwell. Buff is wrestling Scott later so Rick tells Buff to be on his guard, which Buff thanks him for.
Randy Savage gets reinstated in George wins
Lil’ Naitch Charles Robinson w/ Ric Flair and Aysa Vs Gorgeous George w/ Randy Savage, Madusa and Miss Madness (Molly Holly)
Robinson is of course a lifelong Ric Flair fan, so he’s clearly living it up to get to wear the Flair robe and do the classic Flair entrance. Flair even looks to be having fun seeing someone else having so much fun being him. Robinson gets to cut a Flair-like promo before the match starts, which leads to Savage cutting a promo in response where he says George is going to kicks Robinson’s butt. Savage even seems to be having fun out there too as he pretty much smiled through that entire promo.
This match is genuinely a lot of fun, especially as neither of these two are regular wrestlers. Robinson strutting around like the Mexican Mini version of Flair is really funny and George even cracks up more than once at it. The crowd responds to it as well, as it’s a simple story of the cocky pig getting his comeuppance at the hands of the tough woman who he’s been talking down to. The execution of the holds and moves is hardly first class, but they do it well enough to make the match work and the two wrestlers at ringside get involved at points as well to keep things flowing.
Miss Madness gets slammed on the floor by Robinson at one stage, which leads to the ref shoving Robinson down back inside the ring in another funny moment as that was regularly a Flair spot. George is distracted by her pal getting hurt and that allows Robinson to cut her off and work some heat, which George actually sells pretty well. George eventually fights back and Robinson really commits to the bit, even doing the Flair Flip into the corner at one stage before getting thrown off to the floor and doing a Flair Flop following some clotheslines.
Robinson is actually taking some great bumps here, but Aysa gets involved to attack George’s leg and that leads to Robinson working the leg over in classic Flair style. That does earn Aysa a vicious kick to the head from Madusa though. Oof, that looked stiff! George continues to sell well, whilst Robinson applies the Figure Four in the middle of the ring, which leads to the crowd getting behind her and popping big when she reverses the hold. Flair and Savage get involved again whilst the ref is distracted, with Savage giving Robinson a slam so that George can head up to the second rope for the Macho Elbow and the three count.
WINNER: GORGEOUS GEORGE
This was way better than it had any right to be, with Robinson in particular being incredibly entertaining in his role of mini-Flair and George doing a good job as a fired up babyface
Savage and his ladies celebrate now that Savage is officially back in WCW.
We get a video package for the next match. Buff Bagwell and Scott Steiner used to be allies but Steiner ended up kicking Buff to the curb. This led to Buff dressing up as Steiner in order to mock him, thus legit angering Steiner in real life and laying the table for the upcoming contest.
WCW United States Title
Champ: Scott Steiner Vs Buff Bagwell
Buff is now out of the nWo and a babyface, whilst Steiner was one of the leading figures in the “Elite” part of the faction. Buff had actually had a great chance to be a big babyface star when he broke his neck in 1998 and came back with real sympathy from the crowd, but they instead decided to keep him as a Heel and the window for him to be a top babyface was sadly closed by the time this turn came around.
I think this match made it onto one of the earlier episodes of Botchamania, owing to Steiner just DRILLING poor Buff with some snug low blows at different points before just flinging his opponent around. Needless to say, Steiner soon has Buff regretting the parody angle, as Buff gets utterly destroyed here for the most part and you can tell that some live rounds are definitely being thrown. Buff does sell well in the match, although I don’t think he really has much of a choice.
Buff gets basically no offence here and he’s visibly banged up, in one of the more brutal examples of in-ring bullying that you’ll find. Buff does eventually manage to clothesline a chair into Steiner’s face and makes a comeback, with the crowd getting into it, so the body of the match worked in getting the fans behind him at least. Eventually though the ref gets bumped and that leads to Rick Steiner coming in to pretend to help Buff, only for him to clock Buff with the chair so Scott can get the win.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: SCOTT STEINER
Scott Steiner was wildly unprofessional here, to the point that is struggled to enjoy the match even though it “worked” in the sense that Buff certainly had the crowd behind him when he finally started fighting back after spending the whole match getting destroyed. It was kind of poetic that Rick tricked Buff before turning on him however, as Buff did the same thing to Rick at least 3 or 4 times in 1998
The newly reunited Steiner Brothers destroy Buff post-match. Sadly this version of The Steiner’s was nowhere near as good as the version from the first half of the 90’s.
We get a Goldberg video, which again mostly focuses on him taunting and looking mean. Can you at least show us some footage of him ploughing through geeks?
Tony mistakenly tells us that Goldberg will be in the next match, but actually it’s Flair Vs Piper next.
We get a video package to hype up the next match. Flair is WCW president, but he’s drunk with power, so Roddy Piper got him sent to an asylum, leading to some of the worst segments in WCW history. Tonight it’s Flair Vs Piper to decide who will control WCW.
Control of WCW
WCW President Ric Flair w/ Arn Anderson and Aysa Vs WCW Commissioner Roddy Piper
Aysa was one of the nurses in the asylum and got her name because Asia is bigger than China. Ah wrestling, it’s so hilariously childish. Flair brings out Charles Robinson to be his personal referee prior to the match starting, firing other referee Johnny Boone in the process. Some of Piper’s offence looks pretty bad, especially his punches, but Flair sells big for it all and the crowd gets into it as a result. It’s mostly a brawl, with both men trading chops and slaps, which makes up a bit for Piper’s physical limitations.
I’m not going to pretend it’s a good wrestling match or anything, because it isn’t, but it is entertaining to a certain degree. It tells a decent story as well, with Piper essentially having to fight four people out there due to Robinson being a biased ref. Piper could still sell well, and he does a good job of being a brave babyface fighting from underneath once Flair gets the heat, with the crowd getting behind him in the hope that he will make a comeback. Even in 1999 Ric Flair still had the ability to carry someone limited to a watchable match.
They do some good spots where Piper has the match won but Robinson refuses to count three, as well as looking away when Anderson helps Flair work over Piper’s leg. That leads to the Figure Four, where Piper again sells really well and gets the crowd behind him enough in order to roll the hold over. Piper clocks Anderson following that and then pulls Flair’s trunks down on a Sunset Flip (No Aloha-Flair sadly) attempt to show us Flair’s naked bum before going to his own Figure Four. Flair actually gives up in the hold, but Robinson won’t call for the bell.
Anderson outright comes into the ring following that, seeing as Robinson is letting it all go anyway, which leads to both Anderson and Flair getting locked in consecutive Sleeper Holds. Aysa comes in at that point, leading to her getting Sleepered as well. All of this chicanery distracts Piper long enough that Flair can clock Piper with a weapon though and that leads to the three count. However, Eric Bischoff joins us following that and reverses the decision to a DQ win for Piper, even though in storyline he didn’t actually have any power anymore.
WINNER BY DQ: RODDY PIPER
The finish didn’t make any sense, but the match itself was entertaining for what it was. Piper couldn’t really do much, but he could still sell and time his comebacks, so the match had heat at least and Flair did his best as a one man bumping machine to get it over
Piper actually thanks Bischoff following the match, as Bischoff is now the babyface authority figure it seems, even though it makes no sense in storyline that Bischoff would have this power all of a sudden. The crowd popped for it all though, so I guess it worked?
Video for Sting Vs Goldberg. They have been put into this match against one another by Flair in order to ensure that they dislike one another and don’t decide to unify against him.
Sting Vs Goldberg
Both of these guys were babyfaces at the time and this was at least a marquee match that WCW could present on a pay per view sized event, even it had a very thrown together feeling to it. They seemingly botch the first spot they try, but Goldberg just snaps off a powerslam and sends Sting outside the ring to regroup. It looked like they were trying to have Sting slip out a Goldberg move and get an arm drag but it didn’t quite go how they wanted it to.
Following that initial issue at the beginning, the match picks up and ends up being an energetic back and forth contest that the crowd gets into. Goldberg actually tries out some MMA styled submissions, but American wrestling crowds weren’t really educated to that sort of stuff in 1999 and the crowd doesn’t really react to them as potential match enders as a result. It actually feels like the crowd kind of wants Sting to win more than Goldberg here, although both guys get cheered.
Goldberg has a heavily braced left knee, so Sting targets that and works it over, which makes sense from a psychology point and Goldberg actually does a reasonable job selling as well, especially as that was never really his hallmark as a wrestler. By far the best spot of the match is Sting going for a Stinger Splash at one stage only to get Speared out of the air on the way in. Sadly the match has a horrible finish, as Bret Hart joins us and attacks Goldberg whilst The Steiner’s attack Sting for the No Contest.
This was just getting going when they took it home with the lame finish. The plan was for Goldberg and Bret to have a big feud, but the tragic death of Owen Hart meant this storyline didn’t get paid off
The Steiner’s leave the babyfaces laid out following the match, as WCW really wanted to get some heat on them here. Interestingly Rick Steiner has now ditched his head gear in an attempt to come across as a more serious threat.
Video package for the Main Event. WCW Champ Diamond Dallas Page injured Hollywood Hogan with a ring-post Figure Four, so Nash is after both revenge and the WCW Title.
WCW World Title
Champ: Diamond Dallas Page Vs Kevin Nash
DDP won the belt at Spring Stampede but he was only scheduled to be a transitional Champ, so Nash was chosen as the man to take it off him. I’m not sure how Nash was classed as #1 contender considering he lost to Goldberg the previous month, but the belt had changed twice since Spring Stampede anyway, so all bets were off. The match where Sting beat DDP for the belt on Nitro (26th April I believe) is a fantastic match though and I strongly recommend seeking it out on the WWE Network if you’ve never seen it.
DDP and Nash are friends in real life, so hopefully that bodes well here and Nash in the mood to have a good match. Nash shines on DDP to start, with DDP trying to bail a couple of times, only for Nash to catch up with him and continue to bring the pain. DDP kicks Nash right in the Big Daddy Cool’s to get himself back into the match however, with Nick Patrick making sure to miss it in a display of smart reffing.
DDP undoes one of the turnbuckle pads to distract the referee and then hits Nash with a mic whilst the ref is dealing with it for two. I liked that, good Heel shenanigans on DDP’s part. However, DDP is soon hoist by his own petard as Nash pulls him into the same unprotected buckle for a double down. That’s some clever story telling there actually and Nash can easily explain that he didn’t know the turnbuckle pad had been removed, hence why it wouldn’t need to be a DQ. That’s one good thing about DDP’s penchant of laying matches out in advance, they usually made sense.
Nash recovers first a makes a cover, but DDP kicks out at two and the match continues. DDP sends Nash out to the floor and then follows with a baseball slide and a Diamond Cutter. However, DDP has shot himself in the foot here as Nash is now out cold on the floor and he can’t make the cover there, so DDP has to heave Nash back into the ring instead for the cover, by which point Nash has had enough time to recover and kick out. That was a very smart way of protecting the finishing move.
DDP works over Nash back inside the ring before setting him up for the ring post Figure Four that he used to take out Hogan, which plays into the storyline of Nash coming for vengeance for his stablemate. Nash manages to fight him off before the move can be applied though, which leads to DDP slugging away at him back inside the ring. Nash manages to make it to his feet and makes the comeback, getting the Snake Eyes and big boot before prepping for the power bomb. Nash gets the power bomb, but just as he makes the cover Randy Savage runs in for the apparent DQ.
Main Events ending in bogus DQ’s happened so much in WCW at the time that this gets groans and murmurs from the crowd rather than drawing any actual heat. However, Eric Bischoff comes out again and tells the referee to restart the bout. He even says that he doesn’t care what Ted Turner says about it, which feels like a desperate attempt to make it feel like a “shoot”. Err, you’re restarting a match Eric, I doubt Harvey Schiller is going to be annoyed that a pay per view Main Event had a clean finish for once.
The crowd pops for the restart at least, happy that they are now going to get an actual finish on the wrestling show they paid to see. Things are apparently No DQ now as well, but Michael Buffer doesn’t announce that bit. DDP goes to a sleeper, but the crowd gets behind Nash and he fights up before getting a sleeper of his own. There’s actually a great match from Japan between Wild Pegasus and Black Tiger in 1996 where the big story of the match is that Pegasus keeps putting Tiger in a sleeper until even the normally polite Japanese crowd is getting super annoyed by it, only for Tiger to finally apply one at the end to a massive pop.
Anyway, DDP survives the sleeper hold and heads outside for a chair, but Nash ducks it and the chair bounces back into DDP’s face for two. Fans are getting into the near falls a bit now too. It’s not been a bad match actually and he way they’ve structured it has made sense. Nash tries to destroy DDP with the chair, but DDP hits him right in the Diesel Power to put a stop to that. DDP grabs the chair next, but Nash kicks it into his face and delivers a power bomb for the three count and the Title.
WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION:KEVIN NASH
That was fine. It was a bit sloppy in places, but it told a good story and the fans were into it by the end. I enjoyed it for the most part. You’re usually in good hands with DDP so long as his opponent is up for it, as chances are he’ll be able to put together a decent match and that proved to be the case here, as Nash seemed motivated and willing to give has pal some effort. It was also nice to see a WCW pay per view end with the babyface getting a clean pin, as that was usually a rare occurrence
Nash celebrates with his belt and we’re desperately out of time.
I was not particularly enjoying this one, but the final three matches were all watchable, even if some of the booking with Bischoff now magically being back in power all of a sudden made no sense. The opener was really good and the Main Event was a solid way to close, so the show wasn’t terrible when all was said and done but it’s very missable and there’s not much you have to go out of your way to see.
Show not recommended