A little more war with the worst War Games from WCW, plus odds and sods and some of the Observer’s worst matches.
Sting, Booker T, Kronik and Goldberg vs. Jeff Jarrett, Scott Steiner, Vince Russo and the Harris Twins, and Kevin Nash
From the fifth anniversary episode of Nitro, a War Games match using the Tower of Doom instead of having a double cage surrounding two rings. Also, the teams aren’t out at ringside and it’s two minutes before a new entrant after the two starters. Why not just make it a mixed tag match with women and midgets on a pole too? Jarrett and Sting start, with Sting pretty energetic. There are ladders around ringside too for some sort of convoluted deal where you have to get up through the cages to get the belt and escape with it. We’re also saddled with Mark Madden and Jeremy Borash, who are at least better than the duo of Arn Anderson and Scott Hudson. Sting whips Jarrett into a ladder set up inside the ring.
Scott Steiner, in a Virgil nose guard, catches Sting as he’s climbing and hits him with the ladder to knock him down then gorilla presses him. Got to be fair, this was the peak of his physical fitness, rather than the sadly tattooed and dilapidated state he’s in today. Clothesline and flex elbowdrop, very loosely, before another person joins.
Make it two people, both members of Kronik come in as Steiner gets up to the second cage and retrieves some bolt cutters to gain access to the top cage. Tony: “What could be more frightening than Scott Steiner with bolt cutters?” Madden: “A microphone.” Brian Adams quickly pursues him and goes low. The cage roof/flooring looks like it’s about to drop through with four men (Bryan Adams and the ref joining them) walking across. The double press into a gutbuster.
Vince Russo, flanked by the Harris twins, comes out in hockey gear. The National Socialist twins climb the cage to confront Kronik, while Sting gets the Scorpion Deathlock on Jarrett at the bottom. Adams swings away with a kendo stick. They’ve got no room to wield anything. Sting Stinger Splashes Russo and locks on the Deathlock, called the Scorpion Leglock by Borash. Steiner is seemingly back down in the ring.
Big Lazy comes out, seemingly not in real concert with his teammates, although he chokeslams Sting in an obvious steal. He goes to do the same on Russo, but Steiner talks him out of it. And some more talking, then a cut to the crowd with the twins and Kronik battling out there. Madden is incredibly awful in his fawning over Russo.
Booker T, with his terrible spoken intro to his music, comes in and gets some moves in on Jarrett while Steiner farts about. Then Booker takes out Steiner and Russo before Nash takes him out with a big boot. Nash then places Russo in jackknife position, but doesn’t complete it.
Goldberg comes in and is quickly handcuffed to the ropes by the heels. Nash lingers while Booker gets up to the top cage almost, chased by Steiner and Sting, with Jarrett just behind. Goldberg lies there like he’s been beaten like a drum for an hour after several seconds. Booker makes it to the top of the top cage, getting the belt off a chain. He comes down, then drops the belt as Jarrett tries to get it off him, then whacks him with it. Same for Steiner. Sting has apparently been handcuffed to a cage too, so does nothing other than trying to throw some bins like a monkey flinging shit. Russo gets the belt and mocks Goldberg with it, so Ernest Miller runs out and takes it off him. Nash jackknifes him and is about to leave, but Goldberg suddenly breaks the chain and takes out everyone. He hangs about and poses with the belt and is about to leave, but Bret Hart makes a shocking cameo and slams the door on his head to knock him out. Steiner applies the recliner for a moment and Nash then reveals he’s actually friends with Russo and steps out with the belt to win.
How bad was it? A confusing, convoluted mess, kicking off the final year of the promotion with the death throes obviously in effect under the Vince Russo regime.
Joey Ryan and Disco Machine vs. Tyler Black and Jimmy Jacobs
This popped up on my feed and featured a young Seth Rollins and his stupid face pulling a Seth Rollins stupid face. Worse than him is Joey Ryan as part of This Seventies Team. The ring announcer is GQ Money, although I thought it was Luke Hawx slumming it for him. This is immediately a noisy mess, with some music played that’s barely able to be heard with how it’s mixed and a crowd that’s just making noise regardless of whether they’re making noise, if you catch my drift. Jacobs’ nipples are loaded. Black uses Jacobs as a human weapon for a few moves while the announcers talk about how Joey Ryan is modelling a Magnum PI look, which was, of course, an eighties show. Ryan’s arse gets exposed to show his thong, which is probably something he asked to have done. Disco Machine cuts him off and stomps him. Adding to the noise, the announcers are just swearing and shouting over one another. Nice double team suplex/DDT from the heels, followed by a Disco Machine backbreaker. He passes Ryan baby oil for no obvious reason, which would make sense if it led to him trying a move and sliding off, but he just does a dropkick. Machine gets caught with a neckbreaker and Ryan and Black just come in and do crappy dueling forearms without tagging in. The ref does nothing to remove them, so they suplex one another out. Machine sets up Jacobs for a superplex but gets caught in a Hercules backbreaker, with Jacobs doing a weird senton on top of it, it not falling through, and Black turning it into a Falcon Arrow for the pinfall. Black celebrates like he’s Hulk Hogan winning at WrestleMania III. Some stoned guy at the announce desk tries to describe the finish and still is more endearing than the commentators.
How bad was it? It’s just not my kind of wrestling, sadly the post-2000 style where it’s all look and no feeling. Disco Machine, and Jimmy Jacobs to a lesser extent, looked good, while the partners were stupid amateur hour stuff and the announcers and crowd were on a different planet. Someone asked me a while back if I’d review some Wrestling Society X… Not based on this!
Mighty Igor vs. Kareem Mohammed
Another one that popped up for me, with an AGING Igor against Ray Candy. Igor was in one of my favourite angles of all time, with Dick “The Bulldog” Brower beating up his manager Ivan Kalmikoff and Igor coming back for revenge on him (“It’s a life and death… situation!”, said commentator Tex McKenzie), and Candy was in one of the funniest, most politically incorrect interview segments of all time, accusing Jerry Jarrett of being a masochist (“You old pervert!”) and telling Tojo Yamamoto that looking at him gave him Vietnam flashbacks, but I don’t hold up hopes for this one. From WWC, in a cage, Kareem pounds away. Igor has presumably told him to punch while he sells. That goes for a minute or two before Igor swings with one and then gets back to having his head rammed repeatedly into one of the wooden supports for the cage, bleeding. Igor was quite the beast in his heyday, but he looks shrunken and small here. He gets a chance… slap or choke off a reversed Irish whip and bites away in the corner. Impressive gusher going from Igor, covering his face entirely. The camera shot isn’t great, but presumably Candy is bleeding too. Very awkward shots into the supports for Candy, who then sits on the mat for a moment and checks he’s got enough coming. Igor’s good at getting the crowd into it, but his blows are pretty pitiful on the mat. Candy comes up and gets a nice shot, but Igor blocks another by catching the punch with his hand. Candy tries to escape the cage via the tiny, tight door but is cut off. Clothesline on Candy looks hilarious given the size and height difference. A bit of cheese grater action and some poor Igor stomps in the corner, prompting him to try to escape, also leading to him getting cut off. Choke on the rope. Boy, ever get the feeling that’s something outstaying its welcome? Nice kick to the balls by Igor, but Candy falls in the direction of the door. Back up to his feet, with Igor delivering a headbutt that leads to an even more contrived fall through the ropes and out of the door to victory than even the Muraco/Snuka match had. Candy wins.
How bad was it? Not as bad as I thought, but really could’ve been shaved down from ten minutes to five even with the effort of putting up the cage.
Bonus #1: The Kareem Mohammed Show
So, Kareem has taken over The Jerry Lawler show. Jerry, the face, throws to Kareem, the heel, via one of those terrible deals where they used to superimpose another frame over a part of the screen and Lawler has to pretend it’s there and he’s reacting to it. Kareem is immediately beefing about not being given “a man’s chair!” then goes to a commercial “while I get myself organised!”. Kareem asks a taciturn Jerry Jarrett when they come back about why he would want to come out of retirement when he’s had enough beatings already and starts corpsing. He then questions why he picked Tojo Yamamoto as his partner and Tojo starts getting indignant, so Candy tells him to shut up and threatens him and calls him a “Chink” and recalls how he used to shoot at ones like him in Vietnam. Jerry starts laughing but has to cut it out quickly and starts doing the “Hey, hey, hey!” calm down deal. “Y’all look alike!” He then then says his camouflage gear might get him in the war mindset when he’s in the ring with him, with Tojo as much offended about being accused of being from Vietnam as anything. Kareem then switches to Jarrett and talks about how he’ll whip him with his belt if he enjoys the pain so much. Tojo starts taking his shoe off to threaten him, so Jerry walks him off before Candy can give them a gift certificate as a peace offering (“I think I’ll keep this myself!”).
How bad was it? Really, really naughty, but very funny. Candy trained New Jack and smartened him up to the business, so I would’ve loved to have heard the mentor and protege in conversation with one another if not for Candy’s early demise.
Bonus #2: Dick “The Bulldog” Brower vs. The Mighty Igor
From Eddie Einhorn’s IWA/International Championship Wrestling, a really strong independent promotion from the seventies. Ring announcer Ron Martinez, even with shades on, looks like a deer in the headlights, but has a really strong voice. Stalwart Tommy Young is your ref, with longer seventies hair. Igor wanders through the crowd to greet the fans while his manager Ivan Kalmikoff ascends the corner, so Brower sneak attacks him and rips his shirt off and whips him back and forth and backdrops and elbows him. Igor is finally alerted when Brower tosses Ivan over the top in a big bump for an older guy. Igor’s deal was the naive, childlike Polish immigrant, with some of his characteristics later used for Eugene, and he cries over his beaten manager and carries him backstage for treatment. Jack Reynolds and Tex McKenzie are overwrought in their commentary in a manner that only fits wrestling. Brower does his Mankind-like histrionics in the ring, bellowing and staring at the lights and headbutting the corners. Young doesn’t throw it out even though he’s giving Brower heat, allowing for Igor to return to a big pop and attack his nemesis. They go back and forth and Igor’s stuff is questionable in quality, but the crowd are really into it. Tommy tries to separate them, with Igor throwing him off to continue the beating, leading to being disqualified himself.
How bad was it? An angle under the premise of a match, I’ll make no promise that the subsequent Igor/Brower grudge matches were any good, but I bet the arenas were loud based on the emotional power of the angle.
Hiroshi Wajima vs. Tom Magee
A trio of matches now voted by Wrestling Observer readers in 1988, 1989 and 1990 as the worst matches of the year. The great white hope, Tom Magee, made mythic by Bret Hart’s carry job of him but never doing any better than that, travels to All Japan before the WWF finally give up on him. Terribly weak chops, knees and forearm in the corner on the bell. Wajima takes a weak bump outside for him. Magee does the Randy Savage leap out and drops more piss poor blows on him before returning to the ring and doing some flips and poses. Talk about misjudging your audience. Wajima’s certainly not impressed. Back in with a slam and a good legdrop, but he picks Wajima up on two. Magee goes for a belly-to-belly, but Wajima tries to block it with his leg and it falls apart even with Tom muscling him over. Baba chops and a spinning back chop that the crowd laughs at. Wajima makes his comeback with stiff chops, a hip toss and a clothesline. A Boston crab finishes. It feels incredibly weak as a finish and made Magee, who was looking bad anyway, look like total shit on the losing end.
How bad was it? A very weak wrestler wrestles a not great and uncooperative wrestler. You could tell Wajima, rightly or wrongly, was thinking screw it and just ended it before it got worse. Deserving of the rotten egg award it got.
Ultimate Warrior vs. Andre the Giant
The end of the Andre the Ultimate Giant run, instigated by Andre when he tried to take out Warrior prior to Summerslam but inadvertently ended up as his first IC title contender. Warrior looks like he’s crotch chopping in his opening promo. Almost the end of the road for Andre, his final singles feud before a tag team title run as his swan song. Subtle bit of foreshadowing, intentional or not, with Jesse asking Bobby in the pre-match promo whether Rick Rude will be jealous of Andre if he wins the match tonight. Later in the night, despite Bobby’s claims of no dissension in the Heenan Family, he splits up with the Brain Busters with them in reality leaving the WWF. A typical SNME continuity error sees Warrior in bright pink trunks in his pre-match interview with Gene and then in orange seconds later on his way to the ring. Andre gets the first shots in, but Warrior uses Andre’s strap to choke him with the brilliant facial expressions and bouncing on the ropes from Andre. The Giant avoids a clothesline that sees Warrior fly over the top. Back in, Andre kicks him and then gets a double chickenwing into a surfboard with headbutts. Great, if kinda gross, closeup of Warrior’s bulging muscles and massive veins. Break and a stiff clothesline sends Andre out. That’s the sign for a commercial, and coming back Andre gets a gut shot to allow him re-entry into the ring. Chops to the neck, but Warrior gets his stomping bearhug. Andre squeezes the traps and headbutts out. Warrior tries a charge that Andre doesn’t avoid, but Warrior sells like he’s been shoulderblocked. Andre with a kneeling bearhug, but Warrior chops out. Ducks a clothesline and clotheslines Andre into the ropes. Andre blocks a charge with a boot. Bobby comes in and tries to whip Warrior with the IC strap, but misses and gets pummeled behind the ref’s back. Really awkward finish as Warrior “presses” Bobby into the Giant for the win via DQ.
How bad was it? Actually not that bad until the really confusing finish. I’m sure there were far worse matches in WCW in 1989 that deserved the worst match of the year award.
Sid Vicious vs. The Nightstalker
Bad show to begin with that Sid’s cut-in promo over the entrance is barely audible. This video is taken from an episode of Worldwide, which was re-airing the match from the Clash – WHY? Burn it, bury it! Nightstalker asks for the crappy move of all crappy moves, the test of strength to begin with while JR and Paul E discuss the absence of his manager Ox Baker. Ox probably had a rare bit of sense and no-showed knowing how bad this was going to be. If you’re name’s Nightstalker and you split it up to go on your tights, surely you put NIGHT on the right leg and STALKER on the left leg and not the other way round? Run into one another, with nobody moving, so Nightstalker goes to the bearhug. Sid tries clapping the ears to break. Paul E introduces a layer of psychology into the match by claiming Nightstalker’s awkward knees and elbows to the ribs and sides are an attempt to re-injure Sid after his broken ribs and punctured lung, but I think he was just doing two of the five moves he knew. “Big Cat” Curtis Hughes takes a stroll down to end the nightmare. Sid gets a belly-to-back suplex and nails Hughes to the only pop of the match. Nightstalker tries to attack with his big wooden axe, but misses. Not that it would’ve mattered that much, even if the edge was sharp he was trying to swat him with the flat side. Somehow the referee ends up out of the way, Hughes ends up in the ring, and Sid uses the handle of the axe (JR, once again trying to save it: “He’s got that big club-like thing!”… yeah, and Tank Abbott was trying to cut Big Al’s beard) to effectively jam Nightstalker in the throat for the pinfall while Hughes just stands there.
How bad was it? It’s a shock that anyone, via Jim Cornette in Smoky Mountain, gave Bryan Clark another shot in the business again after this abysmal performance. When Sid has to carry a match you know it won’t be good.
The meltdown: I guess the moral of the story this week is that if you at least have a bit of real charisma and energy it will forgive you a bit for a shit match. Back next week with boxing, the ladies and any requests you have.