Nightmare Matches – Volume Eleven! Age in the Cage!
By Dave Newman on 10th August 2022
Following on from last week, this is to test which was truly the worst Hogan/Piper match of 1997.
Spoiler: he misses… both.
Hollywood Hogan vs. Rowdy Roddy Piper
Bear in mind, a few weeks before this was the first Hell in a Cell match. Great start with someone sneezing on commentary and not hitting their mute button in time. Dusty inadvertently gives away that it’s Tony. The cage is not one that goes around the ring but around ringside, is way too high and loose. This will probably be the last time where Piper looked in good shape. Hulk tries to climb out of the cage, so Roddy whips and bites his ass, then bites his sides and head after tossing his bandana. Nice bit of comedy in a grudge match, hey(!)? Atomic drop and ear clap, then both men bash heads into the cage and Hogan recovers first, calling for the door to be opened. Piper runs him out, so they battle around ringside until Hogan swings the door on Piper. First one was good… second, third and fourth didn’t even hit. Hollywood takes a walk but someone in a Sting mask and wig who’s obviously not Sting turns him around and back in they go. The announcers have to half play it that they know it’s not Sting but also play it like they’re not sure, sounding stupid as the end result. Both guys climb the side of the cage with no fear of a bump between them, as this isn’t the eighties and Ray Traylor and Rick Rude are past their best days. Another Sting lookalike comes out to no reaction, which shows how often they’d gone to the well with that trope. Back in the ring, Hollywood, who’s bleeding, whips and slaps Piper before heading for the top of the cage, but a Sting scares him back in. More Stings start heading down to watch. So, is the attention to be on them or the non-bumpers in the ring? Hogan knocks out Piper with the belt, Piper doing his corpse impression. Two legdrops, and Piper kicks out of a pinfall on two to no reaction. Randy Savage runs past the Stings and heads for the top of the cage for the one big bump of the match. Hogan holds Piper in place for a double axehandle. Piper moves, but Savage barely brushes Hogan with the move, gets tossed, then Piper puts Hogan to sleep with the sleeper for the win. After the match, a Sting comes in and is attacked and unmasked without much notice paid to him, looking a bit like Prince Iaukea with tights over his head. The nWo Mega Powers handcuff Piper to the cage to beat him up. A fan in Sting paint actually hops the rail and gets his own camera shot, scaling the cage quicker than the wrestlers, but is cut off by the Sting impersonator, who has to come back to life quickly after Hogan has killed him. Hulk and Randy attack him and get him in the ring while security comes in, making it more likely he’s a ringer. And… that’s the end of the show. No appearance from the real Sting or anything, just a confusing mess.
How bad was it? The match started under medium and descended from there, with no heat. Really not sure even with 25 years removed what they were going for, but they missed in a bit way. I feel like there were worse low profile matches in 1997, but this is the highest profile bad match of the year for sure.
Melina vs. Alicia Fox
Apparently this is one of the greatest matches of all time, so it must be good! I’ve seen pictures of Melina in recent months and she’s not aged well. Scott Hall had a very to-the-point description of her: “Is she the one who shows her snatch on her entrance?”. Alicia comes out to something that sounds like Nelly but without any lyrics, accompanied by her NXT protege Maxine. This is a main event on whatever c-show this aired on, truly a main event in any unnamed city in the country. Melina does the splits to get out of a wristlock while Jerry Lawler works far harder to get a bad joke in about LayCool. Alicia gets stuck in the ropes and Melina gets some sleeper on her, the Tarantula it is not. Maxine pulls the leg when she goes up, allowing Alicia to shoulder her off the apron. These girls sell blows like Bambi on ice, with no natural fall back, just dropping like someone has shot them. Alicia bumbles, stumbles and falls into missing a kneedrop. Melina flapjack and clothesline. Alicia reverses a sunset flip in the corner into a Gory-bomb, which probably should’ve been the finish as it was the only good looking move in the match. Alicia overreacts to it only getting two. Scissor kick doesn’t connect, leading to Melina getting a backslide that would’ve been fine on its own, but she tried to show off and almost lost the move by flipping forward. It gets the win, in any case.
How bad was it? I guess a victim of the WWE factory system, with zero natural rhythm or flow, with anyone being able to be inserted into it and doing the same match. The joke here is that when Steve Austin questioned Ariane/Cameron on the best match she’d ever seen, she cited this one. And the survey says…
Junkyard Dog vs. Moondog Rex
From Halloween Havoc ’90, with the terrible red ring mat. Rex doesn’t even get an entrance or a camera shot on his announcement, just an “In the ring to my right…”. JYD is wearing a werewolf mask and has some of the worst muzak you’ll hear this side of Chris Jericho in ’96. Overweight and having stunk out a Clash of Champions with the Nature Boy, sliding down the roster like a slug. Rex attacks before Dog has the mask off, but gets a punch to the gut for his troubles. I like Rex/Randy Colley, but this run was making Deadeye Dick look like a good idea. Rex brings in a chair, but JYD just grabs it and headbutts it to show that would be a bad idea. JR starts apologising for the quality of the match subtly, then generously describes a glancing shot off the ropes (which Dog can hardly run) a football tackle. Dog does his favourite move, falling down and missing the headbutt, to lose the advantage. Takes it straight back, so Rex resorts to the bone to the gut, although Dog at this point could probably just absorb it. That’s pretty much no-sold as well, so Dog goes for his clothesline, which was intended to look good but he never had an opponent who could sell it well. Roll up, which the ref almost counts as the three. Rex goes for the bone again, but the ref cuts him off and Dog headbutts him down for the three, because Rex is too heavy to give the Thump to.
How bad was it? Absolutely awful, with a Junkyard Dog that was never really good just exceedingly useless at this point and pretty embarrassing to see on TV, not even having any vestiges of his charisma at this point in his drug-addled state. Rex was certainly not the man to put out there to drag something out of him. Shawn Michaels would’ve struggled too.
Junkyard Dog vs. Moondog Rex
Rolling the clock back, to late 1986 when these two were in the WWF. These two had aged twenty years in four based on how much better they looked in the opening moments of the match. Paul Orndorff pops in for an insert promo to knock JYD to set up matches that Bret Hart was keen to knock in his initial shoot interviews (bearhug-fests, basically). Quick start, with Dog doing his shuffling headbutts to send Rex out. Dog catches a boot and gets an atomic drop and actually connects with the falling headbutt for two. Run into a stiff punch from Rex, who then goes for a clothesline but they bump heads instead. Rex goes for a double axehandle off the second and gets punched in the gut, then it’s the Thump (powerslam) for the pinfall.
How bad was it? Just a quick, TV squash, but a hundred times better than the turgid crap that WCW should’ve been embarrassed to put out on PPV.
Christian vs. Leather Daddy
Immediate disappointment as that’s obviously not Jay Reso! This is Incredibly Strange Wrestling, run by some of Corny’s buddies in California who introduced him to his future mistress/wife Stacey. The Christian, AKA Dante the Baptist (and looking like Dante from Clerks), comes out in biblical attire, with a crucifix and some tablets (not those kind, those were probably backstage). On the mic he condems sodomites and promises hellfire and brimstone, cutting a far more convincing promo than Kane ever did. This, of course, makes him the heel. His opponent is the Cruiser, called Leather Daddy in the description. He looks like a mix between Big Josh, the Destroyer and Shawn Michaels. After promising to fuck his opponent in the ass, the Christian throws one of the tablets at him, which looks about as hard as styrofoam. Backwards slam, as in he did the crotch lift with his left arm, not the right (when do you EVER see that?). Banzai drop, Irish whip and monkey flip, which is about as random a combination of moves as you can get. Another Roman-looking guy comes out and commentates from the side of the ring. The Cruiser reverses a piledriver and drops his head, boot and elbow on the Christian’s groin (not all at the same time). Christian blocks a punch and gets another mixed up slam for two. Christian makes the mistake of arguing with the ref, allowing the Cruiser to come up from behind and give him a finger up the ass (“The rectal wrecker!”, screams Caesar). That does nothing for the Christian, so the Cruiser goes for a tablet to hit him, but the styrofoam hits the ref and breaks in half. They try a slam off the top, which goes about as well as any other slam this match. Bearhug with the ref down, so the emperor sends in the lion, which is a guy in a lion outfit. The lion spears and mauls the Christian. A valet comes in and cuts the Christian’s hair with him propped over the ropes. To be fair, I expected her to cut something else there. Ref is still down, doing a tremendous impression of a corpse(!). The Cruiser takes advantage of the Christian (not that way!) in his weakened state with the world’s worst Stunner (managing to land on his knees), then the world’s worst Randy Savage elbow, and the ref is revived in time to deliver the count. The Cruiser goes to hit the Christian after the match with another tablet, but it breaks before it even connects. The Christian’s summation of this: “Father, why hath you forsaken me?”.
How bad was it? Terrible, but also very, very funny if you have the sense of humour for it, with no intention to be good or even tasteful, just a bit of wildness and pushing the envelope.
The meltdown: Kinda sad to see the stars of the eighties descending into epic laziness at the same time as rolling my eyes at the try hardiness of the Divas. At least the Christian/Cruiser stuff made up for it!