Happy Stinky Saturday Everyone!
I’m afraid I’ve lost the Stinker Hat with all the reader requests, so if you want to post some in the comments section I’ll make note of them just so I have something in reserve in case I can’t find the hat again. It’s my Miami Dolphin’s hat too so I hope I find it!
This week’s show is the first pay per view of Vince Russo and Ed Ferrara’s disastrous first run in WCW, where they took a company that might still have been salvaged and tanked buy rates to the point of no return. But hey, the ratings ever-so-slightly improved, so that was worth utterly destroying the pay per view business and essentially throwing millions of dollars out of the window wasn’t it.
Halloween Havoc was only partially built up by the Gruesome Twosome, so it ended up doing WCW’s last somewhat decent buy rate and then buy rates plummeted from that point onwards, as Russ-Ara were more interested in wacky skits and crash TV, none of which made fans actually want to buy the pay per views.
This show has a number of bad matches on it, and was a jarring switch to a more WWF/E styled product, which WCW fans didn’t want as they (gasp) LIKED the fact that WCW was actually DIFFERENT from the WWF, as it gave them an ALTERNATIVE to watch instead of WWF-lite. Sadly this was a lesson the Russ-Ara duo would never learn.
Let’s see if this show really is a Stinker or whether time has been kind to it.
The event is emanating from Las Venturas, San Andreas on the 24th of October 1999
Calling the action are Tony Schiavone and Bobby Heenan
We get the usual opening video package, although it’s not the usual spooky theme you’d get for a show like this. The video focuses on Goldberg, Sid, Hogan and Sting
Tony and Bobby chatter for a bit at the start but thankfully it doesn’t last for long, as they let us know that the tag belts have been vacated and will be decided later
The entrance way looks cool at least, with a demon manhandling a pumpkin
WCW World Cruiserweight Title
Champ: The Disco Inferno Vs Lash LeRoux
Russo didn’t want to see non-American wrestlers (something he actually admitted on WCW Live) so he decided to de-push all the exciting Mexican and Japanese guys who had made the Cruiserweight Division so enjoyable and instead have the likes of Disco, Lash and Evan Karagias feud over it. This was not a banner age for the belt as a result.
Lash was very green at this stage in his career, but he could work an average match if he was in there with someone experienced, and Disco had been a journeyman worker for a while prior to this so he holds things together well enough and it’s a watchable outing as a result. Lash mostly keeps it simple with punches and basic moves, and Disco sells it well.
Lash takes a lot of the match actually, although he does make a hash of a rana attempt at one stage. The crowd doesn’t really get that into the action, as they’ve mostly just worked standard heavyweight style at a slightly quicker clip than usual, which wasn’t really the point of the Cruiserweight division.
Disco giving Lash so much does make him look like a deserving challenger at least, although I’m unsure who the babyface is supposed to be here as both of them are cocky dudes and neither really comes across as a clear babyface. We get some near falls, with Lash even busting out a Blue Thunder Driver for two. Disco eventually gets a Stunner though and that’s enough for three.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: THE DISCO INFERNO
This was okay but hardly what you’d want from the Cruiserweight Division. It would have been fine if they’d been fighting over the TV Title or something instead
Lash is a sore loser and lays out Disco post match, which feels like a Heel move to me, although Disco didn’t really come across as a face and even gets some boos when he recovers. Ah, Russ-Ara!
Earlier today, Chris Benoit and Dean Malenko arrive and get accosted by Perry Saturn. Benoit and Malenko tell Saturn to shove The Revolution up his bum
Mike Tenay is backstage with Harlem Heat. They say a street fight suits them and tonight is the night they regain their belts
Falls Count Anywhere for the WCW World Tag Team Titles
Filthy Animals (Kidman and Konnan) Vs First Family (Brian Knobbs and Hugh Morrus) w/ Jimmy Hart Vs Harlem Heat (Booker T and Stevie Ray)
The Filthy Animals were Russo’s “Shades of Gey, Bro!” booking, as they were absolute jerks of the highest order but they were still presented as being cool dudes that you’d want to win matches. Either make them fun babyfaces or annoying Heels. Pick a side and stick to it! At any rate, The Animals used nefarious means and the numbers game to beat the heat on Nitro, so they still have the physical belts although they aren’t actually Champs as Rey Mysterio Jr is now injured.
This match has two refs in order to follow all the action, but it’s mostly to lay the table for a dodgy finish. Kidman feels like a real odd person out here, as all of the other guys have brawling experience whilst Kidman is more known for high flying. The match is mostly guys wandering around and hitting each other with weapons like metal bins and bin lids. It’s reasonably fun in an anarchic manner, although there’s not much actual wrestling going on.
Eventually The First Family end up getting separated, with Morrus fighting The Animals in the ring whilst Knobbs fights The Heat backstage. One ref stays at ringside whilst the other follows the guys who head to the back. Maybe you can sense what the finish will be? Stevie Ray ends up hitting Knobbs with a prop mummy and Booker pins him for three, whilst Kidman pins Morrus in the ring with something the camera misses. The Heat clearly got their pin first though, so they win.
WINNERS AND NEW CHAMPIONS: HARLEM HEAT
They had a cute idea for the finish, with two pins happening at the same time, but their timing was WAY off and it ended up being a clear win for Harlem Heat. They try and play it off as a controversial ending, but COME ON
The fans end up booing because they don’t understand the finish. Did they not show it on the screens or something? What an absolute joke!
Anyway, Konnan is selling that he’s hurt following that and he needs medical attention
Ric Flair and David Flair arrive, and Ric has a crowbar in his hands
Diamond Dallas Page and Kimberly join us for an in-ring promo, where Kimberly says DDP spanks her better than Ric Flair did. Okay, good to know. DDP is at least clearly a Heel here it seems. DDP is wrestling Flair later and wants it to be a strap match. He also made a bunch of whacking off jokes to try and show that this wasn’t your daddy’s WCW. The promo felt a bit try hard, but DDP’s delivery was good at least
Goldberg is looking for Sid
Mike Tenay is backstage with The Filthy Animals. No interference will be allowed in the next match. Eddy Guerrero says Konnan will be okay
Perry Saturn Vs Eddy Guerrero
This was more wacky Shades of Grey booking, as Saturn and Shane Douglas had pretty much turned Heel on Dean Malenko and Chris Benoit, but Guerrero had recently attacked the beloved Ric Flair and stolen his watch, which was clear Heel behaviour, but he’s kind of the babyface in this match. Confused? Maybe you’re starting to understand why no one wanted to buy these pay per views? Anyway, Eddy hands “his” watch to Bobby Heenan and asks him to look after it for him. Bobby of course bites it to check that it’s genuine in a fantastic bit of character work on his part.
Saturn and Guerrero are both skilled wrestlers, so this match has decent action, but the crowd doesn’t really care because they have no one to cheer for, so it kind of just becomes dudes doing stuff. Guerrero controls things early on until they head to the floor, where Saturn drops Guerrero on the steps in a nasty manner to take over. I’m amazed Guerrero didn’t break a wrist or arm there as it was a rough landing. Saturn works Guerrero over inside the ring with some nice looking offence, but the crowd doesn’t care.
Guerrero sells well, but the fans have no interest in cheering for him because they think he’s a Heel, so the match is flatter than a pancake as a result. Tony and Bobby seem to be having a bad night as they are constantly sniping at one another, and not in a fun way. I know they didn’t always get on but sometimes they could hold it together enough to have a fun chemistry, but that doesn’t appear to be on the cards here.
The action does get quite good as the match rolls on, with Saturn getting a Quebrada and Guerrero getting a Brain Buster, but they still struggle to garner a reaction. It’s a shame because the bad booking has ruined what otherwise might have been a hot match. Saturn gets a near fall from a big overhead belly to belly off the top, but Guerrero slips out of a Splash Mountain and gets a Superplex, which is Ric Flair’s cue to join us. Flair attacks Guerrero and that’s a DQ.
WINNER: SATURN BY DQ
An okay match with an uninterested crowd that threw away any goodwill it was building with a terrible finish. I feel bad for both guys as they deserved better
Flair lays out The Animals with the crowbar post match and then lays a smooch on Torrie, who of course enjoys it. Yup that one wouldn’t fly today. Flair then has to run back out to get his watch because he forgot it at first
Meanwhile, Goldberg attacks and bludgeons Sid backstage
Buff Bagwell joins us with a mic. Jeff Jarrett had recently come to WCW and had started a feud with Buff, due to Buff having a storyline feud with Russ-Ara. Yes, it was the Russo tactic of “everything on the show is fake except for this bit” that he then tried in every segment for the ultimate tautology. Jarrett does eventually join us for an admittedly good brawl. It ends with Lex Luger accidentally hitting Buff with a guitar in a quest to get revenge on Jarrett for hitting Elizabeth. This despite Luger being a Heel as well as Jarrett. The guitar doesn’t break though, just adding to the WrestleCrap going on here
Mike Tenay is with Sid and the doctor. Sid yells and says he’s happy to let it bleed
Eddy Guerrero calls Rey Mysterio Jr and asks him to return to the venue so they can get revenge on Flair
Berlyn w/ The Wall Vs Brad Armstrong
Berlyn is Alex Wright doing an authoritarian styled evil German gimmick, with Jerry Tuite playing his suit wearing bodyguard. Armstrong would soon be repackaged as a rip off of his brother the Road Dogg under the name Buzzkill. Strangely they dub out Berlyn’s theme even though it’s a version of Oh Fortuna and thus you’d think public domain? I have no idea how these music rights work though so who knows why.
Armstrong is wearing white and royal blue tonight, thus making him an honorary toffee for the evening, which makes sense considering he spends most of the match getting clobbered. He sells it well though and the crowd actually has a clear Heel to boo here so the match doesn’t have bad heat. Strangely they give Armstrong the big upset win, even though it takes some steam off Berlyn who had potential to be a pushed Heel due to the gimmick and bodyguard.
WINNER: BRAD ARMSTRONG
This was an odd match and the finish made Berlyn look like a goof as Armstrong simply grabbed the ropes to block a Rude Awakening and then made the lateral press for three. Could they at least have had Armstrong hit a move first? The match ended up helping nobody, as Berlyn looked stupid and Armstrong looked like a fluke
Berlyn and The Wall beat up Armstrong following the match, making the result all the more pointless as it doesn’t sink in. Either have Berlyn win or have Armstrong bail to live another day
Ric Flair has promo time with Mike Tenay. Flair cuts the usual good promo on The Animals and DDP/Kimberly. Crazy fired up Ric Flair is always good fun
WCW World Television Title
Champ: Chris Benoit Vs Rick Steiner
Benoit was supposed to get a World Title match with Sting, but then Steiner barged down and challenged him to a TV Title match on Nitro. Benoit won and then his World Title shot kind of disappeared into the ether. Benoit and Steiner working together was never as good as you’d think as Steiner would often take too much of the matches and it meant Benoit couldn’t really cut loose like he normally would against someone more cooperative.
Russo had no need for the TV Title as it was often a worker belt based around actual wrestling, which of course Russo couldn’t care less about. It was killed off not long after this, revived briefly by Jimmy Hart and then killed off again in 2000, this time for good. This match follows the usual Benoit/Steiner pattern, with Steiner taking most of it, no selling most of Benoit’s offence, and occasionally giving Benoit the odd crumb. It’s annoying as Benoit could have probably given Steiner a great match if Steiner was secure enough to actually sell for him.
Steiner continues to slowly and boringly work Benoit over. Benoit of course sells it excellently, but the crowd is bored out of their minds and they even botch a pin counter spot at one stage too. Benoit is often smooth as silk in there, but here he is botching stuff. Steiner had anti-chemistry with most of the roster at this stage. Benoit does eventually get a bit of a comeback with some chops and German Suplexes but Steiner still isn’t interested in selling much.
The ref takes a bump and that leads to Steiner bringing in a chair, which he uses to counter a Benoit head butt off the top. This is Malenko’s cue to run down and turn on Benoit with a chair shot, in a turn so obvious it was visible from space. Steiner gets the pin off that and returns the TV Title to the doldrums.
WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: RICK STEINER
I really ponder what the point even was of Steiner at this stage, as his matches were all ludicrously one sided and it wasn’t like a Brock Lesnar thing where the crowd actually got a kick out of it. They spent the majority of this one sitting on their hands bored. Benoit looked a doofus in the finish as well with a turn everyone could see coming a mile away. If Steiner was up in the match then he should have really given Benoit more as well, as this was bordering on being a scuttling at points
Malenko and Saturn reunite following that
Bret Hart is with Mike Tenay, where he cuts a good promo saying his injured knee won’t stop him tonight
The Total Package w/ Elizabeth Vs Bret Hart
Ah yes, back when Lex Luger was just going by Package as his name. Package was Heel Sting’s buddy and had injured Bret Hart’s leg to set this one up. Package had a great physique at this stage in his career, but his work rate was all but gone and I don’t think he ever had a good match again after 1998, which ironically had been against Hart on an episode of Nitro for the US Title. I think by this stage Package had just stopped caring and was collecting a pay cheque.
Still, if I got to go home with Elizabeth in 1999 I’d probably want to get out of work as quickly as possible with the minimum effort also, as she looks fabulous here. Hart does a good job getting across the idea he’s mad and looking for payback here as he works Package over with brawling tactics. The crowd kind of digs it too, and this has been a decent grudge match so far. Hart gets his trademark moves like the back breaker and Ukrainian Leg Sweep, but Package goes to the eyes to counter the Sharpshooter.
Both wrestlers take a tumble to the floor and Hart comes up limping from that, which allows Package to target the injured appendage. Hart sells that well and the story makes sense. Package applies a single leg crap (pretty poorly) and Bret uncles from that. As a finish it makes sense in the storyline, but Package really needed to cinch that in and they probably needed a different hold, as technically the crab works the lower back, not the legs.
WINNER: THE TOTAL PACKAGE
This was a testament to how Bret Hart was a darn good storyteller in the ring, as everything made sense and the finish paid off the injury angle. It just needed crisper work from Luger and a more invested crowd to be rated higher
Goldberg tells Mike Tenay that he’s going to decapitate Sid later. I wonder if that would be a DQ?
Madusa joins us to advertise cologne, which was an angle Russo did with Sable in the WWF. Just like in the WWF angle, the cologne ends up on a Heel, in this case Bobby. I wonder if he knew that was happening?
WCW World Title
Champ: Sting Vs Hulk Hogan
Sting had gone Heel at the previous pay per view, so that stupid idea isn’t something you can pin on the new regime at least as Russ-Ara were still in the WWF when it happened. Hogan is right when he said in the pre-match video that Sting hitting him with a bat “wasn’t cool” though. It was awesome! Anyway, Hogan comes out in street clothes and lays down for Sting on the orders of Russ-Ara before taking a hiatus, as once again everything on the show is fake except for the bit you’re currently watching (and all the other parts where it was supposed to be real also).
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: STING
This not only didn’t go anywhere but WCW did the same angle AGAIN in 2000 with Hogan and Jarrett, and it didn’t work that time either
The fans boos uproariously following that non-match, as you would expect them to. What a disaster that was
WCW United States Title
Champ: Sid Vicious Vs Goldberg
This was actually the closest thing WCW had as a money match at the time, as Sid had been cutting promos on Goldberg for months and now they were finally going to wrestle one another. I know they can’t use Sid’s real WCW theme as it sounds too much like China White by The Scorpions, but could they at least dub in a more fitting theme tune for him than the one they do use? Put in one of his two WWF themes for instance, as they actually suit him.
Scott Hall and Kevin Nash attack Goldberg prior to the match starting, meaning that both Sid and Goldberg are at a disadvantage going in, which I think was done in order to explain the relatively short run time of the bout. The match is basically just a brawl, with Goldberg opening up the cut again. Sid as usual is awful, but Goldberg looks like a real bad a$$ and it’s an effective use of him. Sid soon goes pretty much full Muta with the plasma job and the referee stops it.
WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: GOLDBERG
They were going for the Austin/Hart Mania 13 vibe here, but that was a long intense brutal fight so the blood stoppage felt “earned”, whereas this one felt a bit abrupt by comparison and it didn’t work as well. It did it’s job of making Goldberg look like a scary dude though, and he did need some rehabbing after a pretty lousy 99, so I’ll give them credit for that. Sid was eventually going face as well so this made him look gutsy
Rick Steiner gets in between Goldberg and Sid following that in order to stop the brawl starting again
Sting joins us and says he wasn’t happy with his “match” earlier and he’ll be coming out later for another match against whoever wants to face him. This was a pretty clear babyface promo from the supposed Heel World Champion, but this is a Russ-Ara show so what do you expect?
Strap Match (Pin and Submission Rules)
Diamond Dallas Page w/ Kimberly Vs Ric Flair
Flair had spanked Kimberly in a hotel room to make sure he got DDP all good and mad for this one. This match got Russ-Ara in trouble as they’d ran the blood in the previous match up the chain of command and it was signed off, so there was no issue. However, Flair does an unauthorised blade here, which ended up angering the higher ups and led to them cracking down more on WCW going further. It also raises questions as to why this match isn’t stopped as well when they stopped the previous one.
This is a decent brawl, with both wrestlers using the strap regularly as a weapon and fighting in the crowd for good measure. They make it back to the ring and keep clobbering one another, with Flair’s traditional spots at least getting the crowd to react. They do a good spot at one stage where Flair wraps the strap around Page’s throat and then applies the Figure Four, meaning that DDP is being choked whilst also having his legs hurt at the same time. That’s pretty clever and looked cool.
DDP clocks Flair right in Space Mountain to fight back from that and chokes Flair with the strap before being the Diamond Cutter for three. It looked like Flair was supposed to kick out there and even got his foot on the ropes, but something went wrong and Charles Robinson ended up counting the three.
This wasn’t bad but the finish didn’t feel right and it was pretty flat. Flair was good in spurts though
DDP does the Heel beat down following that to injure Flair and put him out for a while. David Flair tries to help but gets destroyed as well, leading to him going crazy and actually kind of getting over a bit. Charles Robinson crying on cue is impressive, although it was playing off a real occasion when he did cry due to them keeping him in the dark on an injury angle
Flair gets taken out in an ambulance but The Filthy Animals commandeer it and then bury him in the desert. Yes, really
No, seriously, that was ACTUALLY the storyline…
WCW World Title?
Champ: Sting Vs Goldberg
Even the commentary team isn’t sure if the belt is on the line here. Charles Robinson, fresh off seeing his idol attacked and kidnapped, runs down to ref this match and is completely fine. These two never had a great match together but this one has good energy, with Goldberg absorbing some Stinger Splashes before getting the Spear and Jack Hammer for the three.
WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION(?): GOLDBERG
This was fun but too short to be more
Goldberg celebrates with the belt, which leads to Tony just giving up and saying “well I guess he’s the Champion”. Poor Robinson then gets beaten up by Sting
It turned out that Goldberg wasn’t the Champion, as the belt was held up and a tournament was held due to Sting attacking Robinson, which Bret Hart eventually won after a shedload of nonsense
Is It Really A Stinker?
Yeah I’d say so
Very little in the way of good wrestling, some lousy finishes and confusing Heel/Face alignments that hurt the crowd reactions in quite a few of the matches. Hogan and Flair are both taken off the board in a slap handed careless manner as well that didn’t help anyone and they wouldn’t be back until Russ-Ara’s reign of terror ended. I’m not saying it was wrong to try and phase them down a bit, but there were much better ways of doing it.
It felt like a late 90’s WWF Attitude Era show in all the worst ways, as at least they usually had Austin and/or Rock delivering a great match to go along with the Sports Entertainment stuff. We didn’t even get that here. The only real positive was that they made Goldberg look good, although they soon undid that by jobbing him out to one legged Bret Hart on Nitro.
This set off all the warning signs at the time, with Russ-Ara eventually managing to live down to the rather low expectations put on them by those in the know. WCW was honestly an easy company to book, even easier to book than the WWF.
- Clear Babyfaces and Heels
- Good wrestling
- Don’t make the babyfaces look bad or stupid
That was literally all you needed, and these goofs STILL botched it horribly!
Final Rating: Stinker