Always interesting how Jericho, who looks like a normal-sized wrestler today, looks noticeably smaller than Mr. Perfect, whose WWF career was held back by his comparatively small size.
Welcome back to more Dream Matches! We start off with a double-whammy, as there’s a pair of Chris Jericho vs. Curt Hennig matches from late-90s WCW! Hennig’s past his prime and Jericho wasn’t “made” yet, but see what these two can get going. Then we go to mid-90s WWF, as “The Narcissist” Lex Luger and “El Matador” Tito Santana fill TV time as Lex’s WWF career starts off! Then the Steiner Brothers go on a tear in 1998 WCW as they take on the nWo bottom-tier squad of Konnan & Vincent!
Then it’s a very “1990s WCW TV” match, as Scott Norton faces jobber Jim Powers! And finally, a “Throwaway Saturday Night Trios Match” starring Juventud Guerrera, La Parka & Silver King vs. Super Calo, Hector Garza & Lizmark Jr.! Which is interesting mainly because it has a REALLY awkward bit thanks to a mid-match injury and some improv.
CURT HENNIG (w/ Ravishing Rick Rude) vs. CHRIS JERICHO:
(WCW Nitro, Dec. 29th 1997)
* The post-Starrcade doldrums of WCW are here! Hennig faces off against Cruiserweight star Jericho. Jericho at this point was still his Generic Peppy Babyface incarnation, but was far less manic than when he came down to that Mammoth song, using the “Evenflow” ripoff and coming down with… this odd kinda random grin on his face. Like he’s being sarcastic a bit? It’s really weird and hard to read. He’s in black with yellow lightning bolts, while Hennig’s in blue.
They run a headlock into The International right away, Jericho dodging a dropkick and clotheslining Curt’s head off. Hennig bails for a minute, coming back with strikes, but Jericho hits X-Pac’s kick series, only to charge into a boot. Hennig locks in a headlock for some kind of chat, so Jericho hits a jawjacker and aims for the Lionsault, but BADLY botches it, more or less sailing straight backwards, and Hennig gets his knees up, and immediately goes to the Perfec Plex at (4:17)- Hennig wins! Some on the YouTube comments suggest Hennig saved Jericho’s life with the knees, but Jericho was just sailing parallel to the ring mostly.
Very short, simple match, mostly basics into Hennig’s shots. Better days were ahead for Lionheart, as you can see by his HUGE temper tantrum, smashing a chair against the pole repeatdly, leading directly to his “crybaby” heel character that ignites his entire career. One of the few times a “Losing Streak” angle made a guy into a huge star.
Rating: *1/2 (feels low considering it’s these two, but nobody was feeling it- mostly a beatdown, a resthold and some stalling before the simple finish)
WCW TV TITLE:
CHRIS JERICHO vs. CURT HENNIG:
(WCW Nitro, August 24th 1998)
* A rematch of sorts set half a year later, with Jericho now a whiny heel TV Champion, and Hennig’s just wandering around WCW’s huge midcard. He’s got the black with white singlet on, while Jericho’s in black tights with “1,004” printed on them.
Hennig plays mind-games to start, stalling and grabbing the hair, causing Jericho to whine- they get into a slapfest that becomes a brawl, Hennig going low to win, getting two and hitting his necksnap. Jericho comes back with a spinkick, but takes a dragon screw, selling it the wrong way. He comes back with more brawling, knocking Hennig on his head from a sweep-kick as commentary keeps discussing upcoming stuff (Hogan/Giant vs. Goldberg/Nash, which would be a HUGE MATCH except those always just turn into DQs at this point, eventually killing all those dream bouts), and Jericho hits his slingshot dropkick. Hennig takes a dropkick off Bret’s Rope and a suplex sets up the arrogant cover for two, and they do the leapfrog-to-dropkick-dodge from last match and Jericho gets the Liontamer, but Hennig maneuvers himself to the ropes before it’s even applied. Jericho thinks he’s won, but Hennig catches him- Jericho spins around and nearly gets Perfect Plexed, but hits a small package for two. They get into another slugfest as the ten-minute time limit expires at (6:12), which is… yeah I dunno- WCW time. They keep fighting, shoving the ref away to a big pop, and then The Giant of the nWo comes down… and chokes HENNIG, shocking the fans.
Odd match ending, leading to an angle, and Jericho gets to keep his belt. Some good bits in the match, but it ended up kind of a disjointed brawl (I notice that Hennig in WCW had regressed a bit and turned into more of a brawler instead of someone who led matches via selling, probably thanks to injuries).
Rating: **1/4 (perfectly okay TV match, though rarely outstanding and had a lame finish)
Luger’s amazing heel incarnation. Great underrated gear, too.
“THE NARCISSIST” LEX LUGER vs. “EL MATADOR” TITO SANTANA:
(WWF Mania, March 20th 1993)
* Luger’s heel run continues with the mandatory win over El Matador.
Luger & Tito start slow with a lockup and a lot of stalling, Lex using an overhead wristlock as Monsoon questions exactly HOW Lex has been able to knock out all of his opponents with a forearm smash, then he & Lord Alfred put over the lifetime of work Lex has put into working out in order to look like that. Lex elbows Tito out of a corner break to go on the offense, but back from break he puts his head down & gets rolled up twice. Lex has to charge in with a knee to halt the momentum, but Tito blocks a turnbuckle shot and does his own, and makes Lex HOWL with shots to the breadbasket. Tito’s usual flurry of ’80s offense leads to the kneelift and he signals the Flying Forearm, hitting it for two! The fans actually pop on camera and some Karen is ready to charge ref Bill Alphonso for that count, but Tito stalls too long and runs into a boot, then BAM! The Running Forearm Smash puts his lights out at (5:03)- Monsoon immediately doubtful of just why it’s so deadly, even as it gets the pin. “He KNOCKED HIM OUT! When have you ever seen El Matador knocked out from a single shot like that?!”
Rating: ** (perfectly fine midcard match at this point- Tito actually got much of the offense over Lex’s plodding nonsense)
WCW TAG TEAM TITLES:
THE STEINER BROTHERS (Rick & Scott Steiner, w/ Ted DiBiase) vs. VINCENT & KONNAN:
(WCW Saturday Night, Feb. 14th 1998)
* Yes, it’s that strange time in WCW when Rick & Scott actually managed to unseat the Outsiders from their eons-long Tag Title reign, and now they’re defending against the lowest-tier nWo goons! DiBiase had also turned on the nWo, becoming the world’s most useless manager (I don’t even recall a single thing he ever did after quitting the group, not that he ever fit in with this group of “Cool Dads”). The Steiners are in black, with Scott already sporting his Evil Parallel Universe Goatee and his INCREDIBLY roided physique, kissing his disgusting “peaks”. The nWo guys are in their t-shirts & denim, which was always a horribly plain, lazy “look” in matches.
Konnan does a hilariously slow-motion lucha reversal sequence over a motionless Scott, who then hiptosses him. Scottie dominates, but Vincent tags him from the apron and Konnan hits the rolling clothesline. But Scott immediately nails him and hits the butterfly bomb as Rick sends Vincent out, too. Vincent & Rick go, and Rick just annihilates him, driving him into the corner then biting him in an STF, just laughing his ass off. Vincent goes all-out on the sell-job, just HOWLING in pain, then Rick bites his ass and clotheslines him over the top. Vincent tries for a time-out, but Scott just hits a belly-to-belly SUPERPLEX and Konnan has to make the save. Rick dumps him and the Steiner Doomsday Bulldog completes the devastation on Vincent at (5:00).
Haha, this was absolutely ANNIHILATION, the Steiners selling almost nothing and completely wiping out these dinks. As this was a rare WCW win over the nWo, the Steiners & fans were clearly loving it just watching the Steiners dominate. Vincent sold his ass off like a good cartoon character, making it pretty hilarious, too. One thing about the guy- you can’t say he was selfish at this time.
Rating: *1/4 (pretty great one-sided squash as those go)
Powers may go down as the most roided jobber in history. He was almost Scott Steiner-level huge while in WCW, despite being an opening-match guy with no wins outside of Worldwide/Saturday Night shows.
SCOTT NORTON (w/ Vincent) vs. JIM POWERS:
(WCW Monday Nitro, July 20th 1998)
* Battle of the barrel-shaped guys! Though Norton has that “legit powerlifter” physique, while Powers has the puffy roid bloat going BIG TIME. Powers is in a black & blue singlet, while Norton’s in nWo black. It’s still funny to me that during the Monday Night Wars, WCW would STILL toss out stuff like this against RAW’s “All Featured Guy” shows, acting like Jim Powers or whomever “counted” for that.
Norton no-sells a shoulderblock and shoves Powers into the corner, but actually sells some boots and a “kneelift”, but catches him with a powerslam that Bobby Heenan takes delight in. A plodding beatdown results, but Norton misses an avalanche into the corner! But he simply no-sells everything Powers does, reeling back but always charging forward again, eventually catching Powers with the Samoan drop and then finishing with a Powerbomb (sending a message to Kevin Nash of the Wolfpac) at (2:29).
Rating: 1/2* (perfectly acceptable squash. I mean you ain’t gonna get Norton to sell much at all, so at least they used him against jobbers most of the time)
As a kid, I was always fascinated by the “Lizmark” tier of Cruisers- like these dudes came all the way from Mexico just to job? They never got any focus on TV, nor big wins, nor anything. Yet here’s these masked dudes out there every damn week.
JUVENTUD GUERRERA, LA PARKA & SILVER KING vs. SUPER CALO, HECTOR GARZA & LIZMARK JR.:
(WCW Saturday Night, Jan. 23rd 1999)
* A forgotten aspect of WCW booking was that nearly every show managed to have SOME form of lucha on it, typically in a throwaway Trios match between guys with nothing else going on. No angles, no feuds or anything- just six random dudes thrown together and made to fill time. These bouts were usually excellently-wrestled, at least! But meant nothing and resulted in no pushes, Because WCW. This one is interesting because Juvi & La Parka were way higher in the food chain than their opponents, who are largely the bottom-tier job squad. They mention that 4/6 here were Latino World Order members (Calo & Lizmark were too jobbery even for that group), but the group split “having achieved their goal of recognition” (???). Lizmark’s in silver/blue, Calo’s in black, Garza’s now dressed like a Latino telenovela hearthrob (complete with frilly Shakespeare shirt and long tights!) but goes to white trunks, Juvi’s in red, Parka’s in the usual, and Silver King’s in silver/black.
La Parka wastes a solid minute dancing, but manages to trick Garza into looking at the mat and kicks him, only for Garza to flip off of him and bring him down repeatedly. Garza tricks him into slugging his own partners down, then jumps off Parka AGAIN and does a double-takedown on him & Silver King. Juvi fails to take advantage of a triple-team and Lizmark springboards in to take down two guys- Juvi’s annoyed with his teammates, but they all get dumped and we get triple-dives, as each guy wipes out an opponent with an over-the-top dive. Juvi/Calo go, Juvi acting like a prick about it and eating a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker, then a gutwrench kneeling powerbomb. Silver King/Lizmark go, SK hitting a superkick into a brainbuster (!), f-ing up Lizmark so bad he can’t even kick out. King “jumps off”, accidentally acting like he did, then immediately switches to a chinlock while the ref checks on Lizmark.
Garza runs in for a run-up-the-ropes flying armdrag, then hits a missile kick on La Parka. Lizmark is still out on the floor while La Parka comes back with an enzuigiri & slingshot dropkick, then Garza hits a kind of inverted electric chair drop when Parka climbs. Silver King runs in to take over, but LIZMARK comes back in… and gets DDT’d right away. Lol, maybe wait a sec to work the neck again, guys. He comes back with an armdrag off the top, but gets triple-teamed. Calo saves him from getting whipped to the corner, but King tries the same trick with his guy and gets nailed by Garza for it. Everyone schmozzes as Garza moonsaults Silver King on the floor, and La Parka gets monkey-flipped over the corner, but hits the top rope and hits a terrible corkscrew cannonball from there to Lizmark’s thigh, getting the pin at (9:45).
Hoo boy- what a mess. Lizmark got hurt and they kind of improvised stuff, usually in clumsy or miscalculated spots. Silver King looked the best- bizarrely, Juventud, by far the best worker in the match, warmed the corner the whole time, as did Calo (who is… less good than Juvi). And it’s crazy how Hector Garza just had all these great stunts and yet never made it work in the U.S.- he just didn’t have the charisma for it, at this point in particular. The bout was almost looking like a showcase for him at first, until Lizmark ended up working half of it and eating the pin, despite clearly getting hurt by that brainbuster.
Rating: ** (not the best lucha match- not as stunt-filled and had a lot of mistakes and improvising going on. But hey- it’s the D-show)