This weekend it’s a collection of matches from WCW Worldwide in June of 1999 along with a bit of cartoon action from Batman Beyond and a look at some commercials from the year.
I want you. I want you. We ALL want you.
The non-sequitur from above comes from Phone Affair, a chatline for adults only. That was immediately funny to me because one of the ways to watch WCW in the UK was via DSF, the German sports channel, on satellite TV and that was full of far more risque stuff.
Let’s start with a promo from Jim Duggan with Gene Okerlund about the Great American Bash. Jim’s not on it, so he rants and raves about people with tough guy tattoos and pieces of metal in their face while he just comes with his board and gets it done. Hacksaw was just back from his cancer surgery and surprisingly under Vince Russo’s watch would get another push.
Barry Darsow vs. Van Hammer
“Young Barry Darsow makes his way to the ring!”, says Scott Hudson, the only person who looks older than him. Hammer had just ditched a hippy look for a biker look and wasn’t long for WCW, getting put into the Misfits in Action and then complaining that he was Private Stash instead of Major Stash. Hammer attacks Darsow on the outside, doing a jump out that kinda accidentally becomes an attack. Darsow necks him and pounds away in Smash and Repo Man style. Clothesline for two. Neck vice for Hammer to come back out of with a neckbreaker that couldn’t have gone more wrong if one had been absorbed into the other. Cobra clutch slam puts this out of its memory. Darsow was OK, Hammer very much wasn’t.
Gene chats Kidman and Rey Mysterio Jr. Kidman was awesome around this time but always a bit of a geek on the mic. When Rey is holding it up for you then you know you’re in trouble.
Judo Suwa vs. Vampiro
Suwa and a bunch of his peers got into WCW via trainer/mentor Ultimo Dragon, mostly doing gimmicky character and jobbing, although Tokyo Magnum got over. Here he’s just in workout gear and looking a bit like a baby version of Vampiro. Vamp puts him down straight away with a side kick, then a headbutt. Rock Bottom of all moves as a transition move, although Vamp is the kind of guy who would use a Stunner for shits and giggles. Suwa gets a trip and a slingshot clothesline, then catapults Vamp into a position on the ropes to do a Big Boss Man straddle. He goes up and gets caught with a belly-to-belly off the top where he just about got the rotation over. Heel hook to add to the completely incongruous repertoire. Looked like he wanted to get a submission, but the ref counts the shoulders, so instead it’s back up for a spinning kick and he hold Suwa down for the pin. Just a bunch of moves with no flow.
A studio bit with Tony Schiavone and Larry Zbyszko sees Tony commenting on how quiet Larry has been about golf on this particular issue, with Larry then saying “I get so many balls (in my hands) that I get calluses on my calluses”. OK, then…
Gene chats with Roddy Piper ahead of his umpteenth match with Ric Flair for control of WCW. Roddy says it will be their last match and I believe it actually was. “I might wear a t-shirt and blue jeans, but try to climb my bank account!” Fair play, Roddy died a rich man with a private home in the mountains.
Scotty Riggs vs. Mike Enos
Riggs had recovered from his eye injury that put him in the Flock for a year to do the arrogant heel look with a mirror to look in. Enos has Ken Shamrock gloves on and looks far younger and fitter than his position in the company would have him looking, already in the ring. Riggs chases down the ring attendant to get his mirror back. Enos goes to stomp it, so Riggs hits him from behind, but soon after is gorilla pressed right onto his face. Straight to the mirror to check the face. Powerslam and back suplex from Enos for almost two, so Riggs cuts it off with a jawbreaker and dropkick. Enos comes straight back up and finishes him out of nowhere with a Dominator. I’d say the better man won there, but it wasn’t like they were pushing him as such.
Gene chats with Curt Hennig and Bobby Duncum ahead of a West Texas Rednecks/No Limit Soldiers match with Konnan and Rey-Rey. Duncum is no patch on his father as a speaker even though he’s got half a foot on him.
Chip Minton vs. Hacksaw Jim Duggan
Minton was an Olympic bobsledder who never really made it to Nitro or Thunder, so imagine Ken Patera with no charisma or ability. He gets some shots in for about thirty seconds that Duggan doesn’t even react to before coming back with the one thing he could do at this point, clotheslines. Atomic drop into an elbow. Minton pulls Duggan out and tries to ram him into the apron, but Jim is having none of that shit and gets a slam back inside and finishes with three point stance and Old Glory kneedrop. I’d normally take Duggan or anyone to task over giving nothing, but it was so amusingly egregious that I’ll let it pass. Minton just stands up and walks out in the background.
We’re past the Great American Bash now and onto Bash at the Beach promotion with Gene now, so Bobby Heenan comes in to talk about life in Florida and how ugly women in Omaha are. I love Bobby, but they quite obviously pulled him out of the bar to do this one.
Scott Armstrong vs. Bobby Eaton
Scott Hudson has a running gag of giving Mike Tenay nicknames of old wrestlers, this time giving us a George “Crybaby” Cannon and Fabulous Kangaroos reference on TV in 1999. No “Beautiful” or anything approaching Chase for Bobby, who was promised a job for life with WCW, leading to him happily doing jobs and training until one day they didn’t send him a cheque, resulting in a call to find out he’d been sacked without anyone telling him. Because WCW. Scott is working heel. Iron Mike pulls the curtain back to tell us that Bobby’s main job at this point was doing mo-cap for WCW video games, which wouldn’t be an entirely terrible gig. Armstrong gets some shots in after a test of strength, but drops his head and Bobby finishes with a spinning neckbreaker for the win. Legs were getting a bit too old for the Alabama Jam at this point. Even Mike admits there was nothing to the match.
Back to Phone Affair, likely a bigger scam than Gene’s hotline.
Erik Watts vs. Adrian Byrd
Hudson talks about Watts debuting in 1991 (actually 1992) “and he didn’t look too hot but he’s… better now”. Watts is about 6’6″ and Byrd is about 5’6″, so he pats him on the head and gets hit for it. Watts’ trousers couldn’t have been more 1999 and he may as well have made his finisher a leg lariat and hoped the extra material smothered Byrd. Byrd, who looks like a lighter Pez Whatley in white tights, walks into a clothesline and gets his face rubbed in the mat. Powerbomb into the corner sets up a hip toss off the top for two. Byrd comes back to no reaction and gets a flying forearm for… three?! Who the fuck? What the fuck? At least the matches on this collection are a surprise as far as combinations and results.
Buddy Lee Parker vs. Saturn
Parker’s main gig was the Power Plant hustle, running wannabes into the ground, getting them to indulge in his marine drill instructor fantasy fetish by crying “I’m a dying cockroach!”, then picking off the one or two that might’ve had something to try and train up. You’ve heard nothing until you’ve heard a Jimmy Hart version The Beautiful People. Saturn was phasing out of his weird Marilyn Manson character and back into more of a straight wrestler. He plucks out an Owen Hart tribute poster, as this was not long after his death. Fake drill sergeant against legit army ranger. Hudson goes through some of the workout routine at Parker’s camp, designed to weed you out within ten minutes. Saturn gets Parker in the corner for mounted punches but gets dropped on the top rope. Butterfly suplex for two. He hesitates on a charge and walks into a release Northern Lights suplex, then it’s a Death Valley Driver to finish out of nowhere. Because DVD was the new format we have to hear the finisher abbreviated to that half as much as the real name.
The replay is sponsored by Milky Way with caramel inside it, which is far different to the type of Milky Way we have in the UK. Let’s compare:
Gene speaks to Hardcore Hak (the Sandman) and Chastity. That was a case of them using his nickname (Hak) instead of his more famous name, although I don’t know how you get that from James Fullington. You can guess which one of the two Gene is keener to focus on. In any case, Hak looks forward to wrestling Bam Bam Bigelow in hardcore matches while Gene probably has Chastity’s hardcore tapes in his collection.
Scott and Larry look forward to Bash at the Beach, although Larry has crab cakes repeating on him. Scott: “I thought someone was burning tyres outside.”
Gene speaks again to Curt Hennig and “Big, Bad Bobby Duncum”, bestowing his father’s nickname on him. So what if Master P was the number eleven seller in entertainment in 1998? Hennig was in the top two or three.
Scott and Steve Armstrong vs. Disorderly Conduct
I’m pretty sure one half of the latter team showed up in the Marty Jannetty Dark Side of the Ring recently to talk about Marty’s misbehaviour from the minute he got in the business. The Armstrongs pull out some old Southern Boys spots like the one man drops down into a flying clothesline from the other. Tough Tom, who has the mullet, breaks up a sunset flip and gets a side suplex for two. Mean Mike helps out with a rope clothesline or two. Weird gear for the heels who look like they’re wearing sleeveless Elvis suits. Weird double team powerbomb, with more of a landing on the coccyx for Scott, sees Steve come in to break it up and get a tag in. Assisted missile dropkick gets the win for the Armstrongs.
Gene chats with “David ‘Fit’ Finlay”, who’s entering into the hardcore division, which is something he’d regret as he almost lost his leg to an accident in a match. His hair here, a blonde flattop, might be worse than his eighties moustache and mullet look. Fit wants to tell the story of Br’er Rabbit, but Gene cuts him off before we can go any further.
Kaz Hayashi vs. Blitzkrieg
The darling of 1999, Blitzkrieg would have some awesome cruiserweight matches in ’99 before retiring well before his time to civilian life, apparently a computer programmer now. Kaz gets his take on the People’s Elbow early on for some reason. Blitz gets a spinning cradle for two but is kicked down. I always remember Kaz as a put-upon babyface before forming the Yung Dragons, but he’s working as a heel here. Blitz gets a springboard dropkick to the back and then a plancha to the outside. “Yeah, come on!” he cries, hardly sounding like the Rock as he does. Back in, a springboard crossbody is dropkicked out of by Kaz, who then gets a slingshot DDT for two. Hard one to do in a fluid motion. Blitz comes back with a dropkick. Frankensteiner is blocked to allow Kaz to get a senton off the top for the win. The most generic Japanese music in their library plays upon his victory.
Well, interesting to walk into this and not know who I was going to see or what I was going to get. I’d given up on this show years before with the inundation of other shows in the mean time, so it was a case of giving the people doing nothing on the roster something to do to keep fit. Wasn’t a pit of hidden gems, but at least there were a few curiosities in there.
Mini-review to finish of the Batman Beyond episode Meltdown:
So, the Batman of the future is Terry McGinnis, mentored by an elderly Bruce Wayne, who years later in a contrivance would be genetically linked to him as his father. Terry had his own arch-enemy in evil industrialist Derek Powers, who in an accident became the villain Blight, a radioactive skeleton who is covered in fake skin to maintain his business dealings. He is looking for a solution to this problem, so new scientist Stephanie Lake suggests building him a new body, but wants to test the process out on someone else first, which means a trip down to the vault to meet Mr. Freeze, reduced to a head in a jar for half a century (“There hasn’t been a day, an hour, a minute, that I haven’t thought about death. It OBSESSES me!”). Lake transfers what’s in the head into a new body, giving Victor Fries new life, seemingly reformed and pardoned. Bruce isn’t convinced, so has Terry check him out. Turns out he’s legit, but it’s not long before things start going wrong.
The Batman Beyond crew said they were conscious of relying too much on the old rogues gallery, but here they were absolutely right to bring back a futuristic version of Mr. Freeze. The tension is in the “Will he? Won’t he? He is? Oh no!” devolution of Freeze, as his body breaks down on him, he regrets listening to false promises, and he goes back to a new version of his old suit. Bruce is frustrated that Terry wouldn’t believe it was the same old Freeze, Terry is frustrated that Bruce wouldn’t give him a chance. Freeze, played masterfully once again by Michael Ansara, gets to have a cold vs. hot battle with Blight and kills in cold blood (pun intended) Dr. Lake, who for the time she was on screen was played just as well by Linda Hamilton of all the guest stars. Best episode of season one and a contender for best episode of the series, akin to Heart of Ice. Freeze appears to kill himself off… the audience at least hopes he succeeds so that he can finally find peace seeing as life isn’t worth living for him.
Back next week with something from 1987.