Sting, El Gigante & Z-Man vs. The One Man Gang, Nikita Koloff & The Diamond Studd (and other Dream Matches!)
By Jabroniville on 19th July 2023
There’s so much “Because WCW” stuff out there that I feel that things like “Had Scott Hall active in the early ’90s and failed to make anything out of him” gets under-reported.
Welcome back to more Dream Matches! This week, I have some pretty disparate stuff for you all, as it’s a weirdo 1991 WCW six-man, a WWF try-out match for the PITBULLS of all teams, and the other NAWA TV show I can find on YouTube! With rookie PAPA SHANGO, Ken Shamrock with ’80s sitcom dad hair, a “Bo Knows Wrestling” rookie, and more!
So first off, it’s Sting, El Gigante & Z-Man up against the One Man Gang, Nikita Koloff and The Diamond Studd (Scott Hall just as he had figured it all out)! Then it’s a WWF try-out match for ECW’s Pitbulls, as Pitbull #1 & 2 take on The Headbangers on WWF Sunday Night Heat!
Finally, it’s a second full NAWA show, full of squashes, but some very interesting ones. It’s the future PAPA SHANGO, workshopping his voodoo character as “Baron Samedi”, teaming up with Bob Orton Jr. of all people. Ken Shamrock as “Vince Torrelli”! A pair of classic “early ’90s dweeby nice guy” tag dudes in Mark Young & Bo Ragin (“Bo Knows Wrestling!”- they actually said it!)! Big John Studd slumming it with the laziest indie match ever! And finally, one of those matches that proves that The Nasty Boys are maybe the all-time best heel team for squashes, as they do the perfect amount of “heel shithead stuff” and “bouncing around like a boob for a rookie”. Read on!
STING, EL GIGANTE & Z-MAN vs. THE ONE MAN GANG, “THE RUSSIAN NIGHTMARE” NIKITA KOLOFF & THE DIAMOND STUDD (w/ Kevin Sullivan & Diamond Dallas Page):
(WCW Pro, Aug. 10th 1991)
* This is a totally wild one, as it’s Sting & El Gigante partnered up again (they were friends and top babyfaces at the time), but with the JTTS Z-Man (Tom Zenk) against recent WWF runaway One Man Gang (who quit seeing that he was getting jobbed out as Akeem), Nikita Koloff (who was pretty done as a name) and a semi-experienced (um, seven-year vet) “ready to break out but Because WCW, nope” Scott Hall. Sullivan is managing Gang, who still has his Akeem hair at this point, and is in all black- Nikita’s in a black singlet (and is so tiny here that I marvel that people thought he was ideal as a Hulk Hogan opponent- Hulk would have dwarfed even the roidiest incarnation of Koloff) & Studd’s in a blue one with a yellow diamond on the crotch, and DDP as his manager before he trained to wrestle. Sting’s in yellow tights, Gigante’s in black shorts (and has a buzz cut), and Z-Man’s in pink trunks.
The babyfaces charge to start, with El Gigante facing Gang (“the one true giant” as he claims to be) and hitting a back elbow (sorta). Gang bounces around, earning the hell out of that paycheck, flopping off a clothesline, and it’s over to Nikita/Sting. Nikita oversells his heel mannerisms so much that I can only compare him to the Repo Man, and he arches his back big-time on an atomic drop sell. Z-Man/Studd go, and it’s funny seeing Razor Ramon so fully-formed but as this random midcard loser- Z-Man scores a cross-body and they do a few reversal sequences until Studd hits his falling chokeslam. Oh hey, he was doing that back then, too. The heels beat Z-Man down repeatedly, cutting off comebacks like a small package on Koloff. The crowd actually gets pretty into it, especially when Z-Man tags Sting, but the ref doesn’t see it! But everyone ignores him and starts brawling and you can guess the finish. But Koloff grabs the chain and overhand swings it into Z-Man’s back and Sting takes it from him and blasts him to the floor with it to send the fans home happy despite the Disqualification on behalf of the heels at (5:51).
Rating: *3/4 (pretty basic bout- everyone trades off in short sequences, then a long heat sequence over Z-Man, but then it’s over before anything can happen. Sting & Gigante barely got 20 seconds of ring time apiece!)
The Pitbulls were a pair of roided indie guys who are somewhat iconic for “early ECW” but never made the move elsewhere. Watching them get towered over by Thrasher of all people indicates part of why.
THE HEADBANGERS (Mosh & Thrasher) vs. THE PIT BULLS (Pitbull #1 & Pitbull #2):
(WWF Sunday Night Heat, Aug. 29th 1998)
* Yes, it’s the PITBULLS on WWF television, here as sorta-jobbers to the Headbangers. I’m told the deal here is this was a tryout, which they obviously failed. Both guys are roided, strong-looking squat guys so it’s kind of curious that they didn’t get a look in the Attitude Era. This being Philadelphia, they are obviously recognized by some fans- both are in their same black singlets with grey designs on them. A self-reminder that Pitbull #1 has hair and looks kinda like Rhyno and Pitbull #2 has none.
Pitbull #2 & Mosh do the International to start, then Pitbull #1 comes in to take hiptosses and a dropkick as a problem becomes immediately obvious: he is SHRIMPY, even compared to the mid-sized Headbangers. Thrasher almost looks a head taller than him. PB2 gets double-pancaked and PB1 kinda slowly goes through other spots- WWF likes their heels to bounce around a lot so his sluggishness is not great. PB1’s in again and he’s said to be 6’4″ on Wikipedia, which I guess makes Thrasher 6’7″ if that’s so, lol. Thrasher scores a powerslam and a shoulder-charge, but PB1 just kinda ignores it and kicks him, then misses his own charge and hits the floor. haha these guys are so bad and clumsy-looking.
Pitbull 2 sneaks in with a belly-to-belly and the ref has to drag Mosh out so the Pitbulls can do some double-teaming as Jim Cornette uses their real first names but gets their numbers wrong on commentary. Drop-toehold/flying elbow to Thrasher’s back keeps him down (PB2 just kinda flops onto him), getting two, and PB2 does a few random stomps and kicks in slow-motion before hitting a roundhouse kick in the corner and landing on his feet on the floor. A flying shoulderblock gets two, and they do a bad kick-sandwich for the same. A double-clothesline sets up the hot tag to Mosh, who hits basic stuff to both only to have the Headbangers tossed into each other. The Pitbulls hesitate and set up the Superbomb, but Mosh runs in for a double backdrop suplex on PB1, who hits the floor, and Pitbull #2 eats the Stage Dive (falling powerbomb/guillotine legdrop) at (5:53).
Man, the Pitbulls looked REALLY BAD here (I know, as opposed to their awe-inspiring usual selves, right?)- just sluggish and unathletic. They kept stopping and starting and once it was their turn on offense, kept resorting to the “stomp and taunt” and awkwardly getting into position for things, as they were mostly spot machines and could only do that style. Given how this was a try-out, they should have been going all-out, bouncing all over the place to sell and popping up during the Headbanger comebacks, then roaring through their own offense, but they were probably just not the kind of workers who could do that. The crowd being dead (barely seeming to recognize them) didn’t help.
Rating: *1/2 (pretty weak TV match, with sluggish heels and the Headbangers mostly going through the motions- good selling by Thrasher at least)
THE NORTH AMERICAN WRESTLING ASSOCIATION:
* By popular request (okay, one guy), it’s the NAWA back again! Okay, the guy’s channel had one more episode, so WHY NOT? This one promises more Vince Torelli, plus Bob Orton (you know a promotion is going places when it uses Bob Orton in the 1990s), Big John Studd after his WWF comeback floundered, and more! Oh, and Charles “Papa Shango” Wright apparently workshopped his gimmick here, as he appears as Baron Samedi!
The commentators repeatedly use the term “suplay” for “suplex”, like they sometimes use in amateur wrestling. And the ring ropes sound like rattling skeletons.
MARK YOUNG & BO RAGIN vs. ALLEN KENSEY & RICK SLAGLE:
* Kensey returns! He jobbed to Chris Chavis last week, and retains his dad-bod and black tights. Slagle is shorter and more muscular, with red & white striped tights. Both guys are absolute mullet city, with Kensey having the sides shaved for extra trashiness. And they’re facing… these are obviously “name” guys but I’ve never heard of them. This bodes very well. Young is a white dude in long U.S. Flag tights and short hair, while Bo is a black dude in white tights with “B.R.” written on the ass. Well at least I didn’t have to wait for commentary to differentiate them. We’re in the middle of Young’s seven-year career (he jobbed as Todd Overbow in the ’90s and was a “Jobber Gaijin” in All Japan in 1990!). I have no idea where Bo is from, as he doesn’t appear on any wrestling sites (edit: He’s jobber Mark Regan/Ragin). Decent physique but pretty short and squat- Young’s in shape but kinda skinny.
I was wondering if Bo Ragin was an attempt to capitalize on Bo Jackson (who was HUGE when I was a kid around this time) and immediately the commentators go “Bo Knows Wrestling” so there ya go. Young catches Slagle with a hurricanrana as his very first move but they’re in the ropes. Bo lifts Kensey in a lonnnnnnngggggggg deadlift German with a weak bridge (he’s up too high on Kensey’s back and is bridging off his HEELS) for two. Kensey immediately pops up and boots Bo, but Young gets a blind tag and throws dropkicks. Oh and MORE armwork and trading off! A double-dropkick gets two, but Slagle manages a tag and shoves Young into the ref & Ragin, covering for no count. A delayed suplex (with a WEIRD landing, right on Young’s side) gets two and they beat him up… then Kensey whips him right over to his corner so Bo tags in. WHAT? lol these doofuses. Bo fights him, then Young comes in with a shitty missile dropkick, and Bo hits a delayed suplex and a Torture Rack… then just lets go and pins Kensey at (7:18). Who uses a rack to PIN someone? This is like a 1990s wrestling video game where they haven’t included submission rules yet and it’s just an HP drain.
Man, these squashes are a vision. Like the last NAWA show, they’re way too long- it doesn’t showcase your newbies at all to have them trading armlocks on hapless jobbers for minutes at a time. And then the heels get HEAT SEQUENCES, except every five seconds they accidentally allow a tag as if nobody knows how to block things like that, and the match ends up flowing poorly. The young team looked pretty bad- Bo does okay moves save that German, but has little rhythm and does stuff just to do it, and Young has terrible movements for such an undersized wrestler, hitting poor ranas & missile dropkicks. And there’s no rhyme or reason for any of the shit in this match- guys do heat sequences then accidentally let the faces tag out, the heels bounce around but score random offense and tag out only to get housed immediately, and Bo tags in for shots, then tags Young for his dropkick, then tags back in to finish with a submission hold that he lets go of to pin the guy?
Rating: 1/2* (dreadful, over-long squash- the jobbers got almost nothing yet kept going back on offense to drag it out)
Dad Bods were only okay in 1980s WWF if you were over 6’5″- the Big John Studd push is proof of that.
BIG JOHN STUDD vs. JACK LORD:
* So Stuff had returned to the WWF in 1988 as a babyface following a two-year retirement, but it fizzled to nothing despite winning the 1989 Royal Rumble– he was just a guest referee at WrestleMania V and farted around feuding with lower-tier Heenan Family members until quitting that June over low pay-offs, his career pretty much fading away. He did indie dates thereafter, retiring in 1993. But here he is in 1990 NAWA! Against a plain, doughy-looking jobber with platinum blond hair, black & white tights and a big fat ass. Studd’s in the same white tights he wore in every WWF match of his I’ve seen. When they get close, it’s apparent that this is a jumbo jobber- he’s only a few inches shorter and maybe 70 lbs. lighter.
Lord can’t get a bodyslam so goes to the eyes, but is soon bumping like mad for feather-light shoulder tackles. Lord bounces around for a Baba Chop and other stuff, but is too late realizing Studd’s doing a hiptoss so it looks bad. Studd snapmares Lord off the top and hits maybe the laziest resthold of all time while Baron Samedi (Kama/Godfather) comes out to talk smack, and disappointingly, he’s just got a mohawk and that’s it- zero voodoo gear whatsoever. He just leaves on his own and Lord catches Studd with some shots (Studd actually sells them, too), but Studd fires back, hits a clothesline, butterfly suplex and a big elbowdrop for the three at (5:04).
Man, give his kid a raise. Jack Lord in there bounced around like crazy (and he had to be about 260 lbs. or so), doing stuff like getting set on the top rope and clubbed, then bouncing up and off the ropes into a seated position on the mat. He bumped like nuts to put this over, even though it was a vastly extended squash. Stuff was lazy and just toying with him, which is okay to establish dominance but it was too long.
Rating: 3/4* (good in bits but a lazy star and extended match time holds it back despite Lord’s bumping)
An interview with Mark Young & Bo Ragin from earlier- Young keeps slapping Bo’s chest (like, at least three times he does this) while they cut a very simple “we wanna win lots” promo and call out the Nasty Boys as tough and ugly and the top team.
BOB ORTON JR. & BARON SAMEDI vs. RANDY DAVIS & TRENT KNIGHT:
* MAGNIFICENT. It’s Charles Wright workshopping his voodoo character… who right now is just in black tights (oh and they they STILL HAVE “SOULTAKER” WRITTEN ON THEM), named after the Voodoo Loa of life & death/James Bond character “Baron Samedi” (“Saturday” in French), except it’s said he grew up in the mean streets of the Watts District in LA and become “militant”. Yeah, okay. And he’s teaming with noted voodoo aficionado Bob Orton, who is probably in the “Ric Flair Teaching Batista How To Work” role as the elder tag guy. Davis has a fantastic jobber look, being rail thin to Adam Cole levels, but with a mullet and the chinstrap goatee that fat guys get to imitate having jawlines. Knight is bigger and has a big curly blond mullet, and looks like he’s not sure if he sharted or not.
Samedi does his level best, by which I mean he sloppily applies garbage while shouting at the same time, and hits a jumping clothesline on Knight. Bob briefly gets worked over, but shoves Davis into the corner and dumps him, leading to Samedi picking him up and just dumping him BACKWARDS onto the railing, which had to hurt. A smirking Orton pummels the kid and hits a big delayed suplex, but takes a long time bouncing on a Vader Bomb and splats on the mat- Knight screws up an armdrag and Orton slugs him, leading to more YELLING OFFENSE from Samedi, and Orton beats on him on the floor. Samedi chops Davis off the corner in a hilarious bit, then Orton crushes him with a knee out of the corner and a big release powerbomb, then tags in Samedi to finish- a Full Nelson gets the submission at (8:04).
See, this is more how ya do it- you let the big lug toss dudes around, then Orton comes in to smirk and hit his precision offense that looks better but isn’t from a giant, then you cheat freely while looking like a dick, and tag in the big guy to finish them off. Extended squash but no wasting time- like this was the longest match so far but at no point was I going “man this is BORING”.
Rating: * (as squashes go, it’s pretty good despite how bad Samedi’s stuff looked)
Ricky Steamboat cuts a pretty lame white-meat babyface interview about bringing wrestling back “to the way it was”, which is death in any promotion. The big organizations are “running shotgun” over everyone but he wants the territories to succeed. Yes I hate it when people run shotgun over things.
VINCE TORRELLI (w/ Paul Jones) vs. SPEEDY GONZALES:
* Yes, really. Cue Warner Brothers’ lawyers STAT. Speed has a long curly mullet and is pretty short and fit, with that “luchadore, but not the flippy kind” physique. I believe this is Ricky Gonzales but I dunno. And his opponent is of course Ken Shamrock, a little more shredded and with the promotion’s booker as his manager. He’s in blue trunks while Speedy’s in red & white tights, just like Slagle earlier.
Vince offers Speedy a clean break to start, and Speedy just slaps him across the face and hits the floor with a huge smirk and hahaha this dude rules. Vince’s shock and fury is great, too. Like “OHHHHHHHH!” and chases after him- he manages to take Speedy down and stretches him out on the mat in a way that’s very “shoot style” for the era and an interesting contrast in the biz. A huge t-bone drops Speedy again, but he makes the ropes and stalls before hitting a knee out of a lockup and stomping away. Vince gets a small package and catches a boot, going to work on the leg as the commentary makes comparisons to Jones’s offense. Vince tortures him for a bit, evades him on a whip-reversal, and finishes with the Belly-To-Belly Suplex at (5:44).
Another pretty good squash, as Speedy gets just a bit of offense to make him “feel” legit, and then acts like a dick for the rest of the match, which is better than trading silly forearm shots or whatever like the bad jobbers earlier were doing. Makes the match feel less like a waste of time.
Rating: * (squashes are kinda rated uniquely because “pretty good” is like a single star, which is awful for “name” talents, but whatever)
THE NASTY BOYS (Brian Knobs & Jerry Sags) vs. MAC MASON & RICK STARR:
* Mason looks like the dweeby host of a 1980s cable access workout show with his curly semi-mullet and red trunks with stars on his ass- Savage he ain’t. Starr has a receding hairline with a longer mullet and blue trunks. I am very annoyed that Starr is not the one with stars on his ass. The Nasty Boys are the tag champions and top heel team of the promotion.
Mason plays evasion with Sags, but soon gets beat up and armlocked while Sags smacktalks the fans. Mason gets excited after reversing it and Sags is great with this “WOOOOAAAAAAHHHHH what the hell is goin’ on here?!” reaction to it- he quickly reverses and Knobs has a go, but he gets hiptossed and has the same reaction as Mason completely overacts his “young rookie” thing and this is great, haha. Like he’s acting exactly like the guys in the famous aerobic athlete video. The kids actually do a consistent armlock, trading off and even double-dropkicking Knobs to the floor- it takes Sags distracting Starr with a cheap shot to put the Nasties back in control, Knobs wiping him out and body-checking him to the floor. Sags adds a little something extra out there and rolls him in so the Powerslam/Flying Elbowdrop crushes him at (7:21).
Another fun “squash”, in that the Nasties ate 80% of the offense and got to look like giant boobs in the process, while still eating the jobbers alive as soon as they got on offense.
Rating: 3/4* (more basic stuff and the jobbers actually controlled most of it, but Bebop & Rocksteady here are great buttheads)
We sign off with another promo- this one a trio of heels. Ivan Koloff, Randy Colley (a Moondog who was the first Smash for a few days) and Colt Steel (no idea). Steel sounds like a giant hillbilly, Koloff says he just likes competition, and Colley (who sounds like a tougher Larry the Cable Guy) defends Koloff as a man who says what he thinks- and we’re off!
Okay, so this was hit-or-miss, with three good squashes to end it, at least. But man, no featured matches AT ALL in any of the shows I’ve seen- to me, this bleeds of “the veterans didn’t want to do jobs”. And filling out TV shows with 5-8 minute jobber matches is never a great idea, though at least in this case they managed some fun stuff with the arrogant Speedy Gonzales, the jobbers with some momentum on the Nasties, and the Bob/Samedi team.