Not sure what WWE DVD release this was found on, but god bless it anyway.
— page 4
Watch “Gilbert/Mr. X vs. Flair/Windham P1” on YouTube
From January 89. Awesome return for Steamboat.
Watch “Vader vs Cactus Jack (Saturday Night Unedited)” on YouTube
Cactus Jack gets his ass kicked and wakes up in Cleveland.
Quad Cities, Moline, Illinois
Heenan, Dusty Rhodes, Tony Schiavone
than Slamboree. I mean it has to be. The main event here is Savage
vs. DDP in a falls count anywhere match. Also since last week’s
battle of the football players match went so well, we’re repeating it
here. Now one good thing about WCW at this point is that the matches
got time, as in the shortest match on this show is nine and a half
minutes long. On the other hand, the shortest match on this show is
nine and a half minutes long. Let’s get to it.
about AMERICA. DDP has chased the American Dream (not Dusty) which
is a nice idea actually.
Outsiders defending against Piper/Flair.
match for Dragon after he dumped Onoo and Sonny brought in Onoo to
fight for him. Dragon sends him to the floor and the crowd is hot.
Back in Psicosis takes him to the mat but gets knocked to the floor
almost immediately. In the ring again Dragon tries a leapfrog but
Psicosis punches him out of the air. Dragon one ups him by dropping
an elbow on Psicosis as he hits the mat. There’s the handstand in
the corner and here come the kicks.
Dragon here. Psicosis takes over with a clothesline and walks around
a lot. The crowd energy alone is making this show feel better than
the previous one. Psicosis gets guillotined on the top rope but as
Dragon tries to dive on him he injures his knee. Sonny adds in some
kicks to keep Dragon down. Psicosis punches him into a 619 position
but with Dragon facing up. Psycho hits a guillotine legdrop down
onto the Dragon and barely misses the apron.
Dragon rolls to the floor and Sonny fires off more kicks, but this
time Dragon blocks him. He sets for a suplex but Psicosis makes the
save. Back in dragon hits some more kicks and almost knocks a horn
off of the mask. They both try rollups with Dragon kicking him into
the aisle where he hits the Asai Moonsault. That thing is gorgeous.
Tombstone in the ring gets two.
the apron and comes back with a slingshot cross body to send Dragon
to the floor. HUGE dive over the top takes Dragon out. Back in
(I’ve been saying that a lot) Dragon rolls forward into a rana but it
gets countered into a sunset flip for two. Psicosis tries a
moonsault press but Dragon dropkicks him out of the air. Super rana
looks to set up the tiger suplex but he goes after Sonny instead.
The distraction lets Psicosis hit a springboard missile dropkick for
two. Dragon sends Psicosis into Sonny and the Dragon Sleeper gets
the tap out.
I liked this one as they were flying all over the place. Dragon was
a lot better than I remembered him being and his last few matches
have probably been the best ones of the PPVs. I’m not sure why he
didn’t become a bigger star than he was in WCW, but maybe it was the
language barrier issue?
contenders which makes me laugh. Stevie and Scott get us going and
it’s power vs. power. They collide off the ropes and no one moves,
so Scott hits him in the face with a forearm. When all else fails,
HIT HIM IN THE HEAD. Stevie kicks him in the face to take over.
Another boot misses so Scott throws him over in a suplex. The
Steiners clear the ring for a bit and Stevie wants Rick.
it’s off to Booker, but he wants Scott. Rick won’t leave so Booker
doesn’t get what he wants. Ok now he does and Scott shoves him into
the corner. Booker breaks up a test of strength and tries a
headlock. That gets him nowhere so he tries a full nelson. Scott
easily breaks it but takes a knee to the ribs to slow him right back
down. Butterfuly powerbomb gets one for Steiner.
wants to brawl. The brawling doesn’t work so he goes to the Steiner
bread and butter of a suplex. Scott comes in for a gorilla press but
he jumps into a boot. Spinarooni sets up the Harlem Side Kick and
Booker clotheslines Scott and himself to the floor. Scott sends him
into the barricade to take over and they head back inside. Rick
comes in again and goes outside also, but this time Stevie powerslams
him on the floor to give Harlem Heat the advantage.
as Harlem Heat lulls Scott in. They hit a modified Hart Attack
(Harlem Side Kick instead of a clothesline) called the Big Apple for
a delayed two. Rick catches a kick into a powerbomb/suplex kind of
move to put both guys down. Hot tag brings in Scott and the ring is
cleared quickly. A top rope Frankensteiner puts Stevie down…and
here’s Vincent to hit Stevie so that the Steiners lose and the
Outsiders don’t have to face them.
This was pretty much a long TV match with a bad finish. It makes
sense on paper, but there wouldn’t be a tag title match, at least not
on PPV that I can remember. It was around this time that the titles
became a prop as without anyone defending them, the Outsiders being
called the best team made no sense. You had a bunch of teams that
wanted them which helped, but with the titles never being defended
they stopped meaning anything.
Steiner Bulldog post match.
month. Konnan is a rapper now. Brawl to start and Morrus takes over
with some forearms to the back. A running dropkick puts Konnan down
again. Hugh heads to the floor for no apparent reason and is slammed
into the steps. Back inside now for some chinlockery. Now it’s a
modified crab as this match slows way down. Morrus sends him to the
floor again to take over but then throws him right back inside.
gets….Morrus sitting on his knees and then a cover for two. Now
off to a Fujiwara Armbar and a bad one at that. Gutwrench suplex
sends Konnan flying as they don’t like leaving holds on for that
long. Back to the armbar which Konnan easily breaks and doesn’t sell
at all. Clothesline sets up a stump puller of all things and then
off to a headscissors.
“let’s lay on the mat for most of this match” matches. Konnan
lets go of the headscissors and puts on a cross armbreaker. Morrus
won’t bother to sell it either so Konnan kicks him in the head.
Morrus is laying there so Konnan gives up on it and they get back up.
Back to the armbar attempt but Konnan escapes. A rollup goes badly
so Morrus loads up the moonsault but he stands there for an hour and
a half, allowing Konnan to crotch him. A bad Tequila Sunrise gets
Morrus to pass out instead of giving up.
Oh MAN this was bad. They laid around a lot, they didn’t do anything
at all, NO ONE was selling anything and the story wasn’t interesting
at all. Nothing to see here at all and the match was just horrible.
This was one of those things that you forget about in WCW: horrible
midcard matches like these.
someone is having issues with his employer and might show up on Nitro
tomorrow. Someone was, they did show up on Nitro, it was in two
weeks, and his name was Raven.
like Harlem Heat.
the post here. Wrath takes him into the corner and fires off elbows
and chops but Glacier comes back with slaps of his own. Some kicks
send Wrath to the floor and there’s a dive over the top by Glacier.
I’m stunned by seeing him do more than just kicks and strikes. Still
on the floor and Wrath is sent into the steps. Things stay slow as
Glacier jumps off the apron for a shot to the back which gets two
for Glacier and it’s in the corner Mortis is chained up in, so Mortis
trips him. Wrath loads up a powerbomb but drops back to hot shot
Glacier on the top rope. Off to the chinlock which eats up a little
time. Glacier gets up but misses a cross body and falls to the
floor. Back inside a top rope clothesline gets no cover. Glacier
tries to choke him but gets shoved back down.
misses and Glacier comes back with a backdrop. There’s a spin kick
and a jumping back elbow for two. A suplex puts Wrath down and he
goes up but gets crotched. A superplex puts both guys down but
Mortis gets up to distract the referee. James Vandenberg offers
distraction #2 and Mortis throws in a chain. Glacier catches it,
right hand, pin.
This was one of those matches and feuds that just kept dragging on
and on and on. Ernest Miller was brought in last month and he didn’t
make things any better either. Nothing to see here other than a
filler match and not a very good one at that. I think this ended
soon after it though.
the rope and it’s a triple beatdown.
Hokuto vs. Madusa
We actually get a Candy Devine reference as WOMEN’S WRESTLING EXPERT
Lee Marshall talks about his AWA days. Hokuto starts in control and
sends Madusa across the ring by the hair. She chokes Madusa in the
corner and then in the middle of the ring. Total squash so far. Off
to a chinlock less than two minutes in. A piledriver kills Madusa
even further but she comes back with a reverse mat slam to take over.
dropkicks which gets two. Marshall is talking about something called
Johnny Taco’s Gym in Las Vegas. Hokuto comes back with choking and a
slam/suplex kind of move. More choking follows and Hokuto shrugs off
a kick to the head. A modified suplex sets up a figure four attempt
but Madusa gets to the rope.
a spin kick to the boobs and a series of kicks to the ribs. A small
package gets two for the champion. Madusa comes off the top with an
ax handle but blows her knee out in the process. Marshall again
talks about AWA women’s wrestling and an old injury from ten years
ago. Modified surfboard works on the knee some more as this match is
better than most of the others on the show so far.
surfboard and Madusa is in trouble. That gets released because it’s
a very hard hold to keep up and Hokuto goes up. Madusa comes back
with a Stratusphere and the suplex but the cover is delayed so it
only gets two. Another German suplex attempt is countered into a leg
don’t see very much in this company in this era is time between
moves. It’s just going from one move to another which takes a lot of
getting used to. The leg bar stays on for awhile and is followed by
a guillotine legdrop attempt but Madusa moves out of the way. German
Suplex gets two and it’s back to the knee. A top rope splash hits
knees but Madusa can’t do anything because of the knee. A Snow Plow
by Hokuto ends this. The retirement of course didn’t last.
This was the best match of the night probably other than the opener
but that’s not saying much. Just boring overall but the story of the
knee injury helped a lot. At the end of the day though, who cares
about the women’s division in this era anyway? This is the end of
the Women’s Title anyway.
to the back and with her career being over, Gene pops up to say that
her career is toast and puts a mic in her face. The fans chant LEAVE
HER ALONE. This was a dick move even for Gene.
match, meaning you can win by submission or knockout. Benoit takes
it straight to the floor and chases Jimmy Hart off. Back in Benoit
immediately tries the Crossface but Meng lifts him up to break it. I
don’t think the hold was all the way on yet. Benoit tries it again
and this time gets it on, but Meng makes a rope and when you think
DEATH MATCH, you think rope breaks.
Benoit escapes a powerbomb. Benoit suplexes him over the top and to
the floor which isn’t as impressive as it sounds. Back in Benoit
goes up with his back to the ring but Meng kicks the foot out and
Benoit is caught in the Tree of Woe. A kick to the face gets about
seven for Meng and a spinebuster gets about five. Kick to the face
is followed by a modified Dragon Sleeper but Benoit bites the hand to
escape. That’s smart.
Benoit can’t hurt him but he keeps trying. Meng chops him down again
and hits a top rope splash for seven but Meng kicks him right back
down. Benoit is knocked to the floor but he reverses Meng into the
barricade. Back in the ring Benoit hits the German suplex to put
Meng down for eight. Benoit throws on another German because the
first one worked so well. This one gets about six.
floor and….does nothing at all. Meng gets back in and hits an
atomic drop to take over. There’s the Death Grip but Benoit dives
over the top to break it up. They slug it out on the floor and Meng
takes over with a headbutt. Off to a chinlock as Dusty is talking
about breathing apparatuses. Heenan: “Well thank you Quincy.” A
suplex puts Benoit down but a middle rope splash misses.
but Meng gets a rope. Benoit immediately puts it on again but Meng
makes the rope one more time. Meng pounds him down but gets caught
in a Dragon Screw Leg Whip and then the Crossface goes on for I think
the fourth time this match. This one is closer to the middle of the
ring too. After about a minute and a half Meng blacks out to give
Benoit the win. Dusty says this is an historic moment. How exactly
is this historic?
Not bad but for the most part it was Meng not selling anything for
awhile until Benoit held him in the Crossface for forever. It wasn’t
bad but when I think DEATH match, I think something a little more
violent than this. It wasn’t bad but it’s being overblown a little
bit too much.
get taken out on stretchers. Why in the world would Benoit need
help? He had the Crossface on for like two minutes at the end. They
only have one stretcher so this takes awhile.
players wrestling. Greene charges the aisle and it’s on quickly. He
mounts McMichael and pounds away so Steve heads to the floor. Mongo
pulls him to the floor and yells at some fans in Greene jerseys. Oh
it’s his parents. MAMA HITS HIM WITH A PURSE!!! Mongo stomps him
down coming back in and Greene is in trouble. He can sell better
than Meng can for what it’s worth.
down for two. Greene comes back with something like a Thesz Press
but charges into a backbreaker. Kevin takes him into the corner and
rains down punches but Mongo drops him and hits a dropkick for two.
Mongo hits him in the corner but Greene kicks him in the chest to
break it up. Top rope clothesline gets two.
but Greene has to break it because of Mongo being in the ropes. A
big clothesline puts McMichael onto the floor and Greene follows him
for some stomping. A kind of Stinger Splash misses and Mongo chokes
some more. Here’s Jarrett with the briefcase but he hits Mongo in
the back of the head by mistake. Greene gets the easy pin.
It wasn’t as bad as the White match as Greene at least has a tiny bit
of experience. Mongo continues to be horrible though and the match
was bad as a result. The ending was more about pushing the Horsemen
split which had been going on for almost six months at this point.
Bad match but not terrible I guess.
knee looked at.
Piper/Ric Flair vs. Outsiders
match last month really didn’t mean jack did it? Flair and Hall
start things off and there’s a toothpick to the face. Flair gets
punched down but comes back with chops to send Hall to the floor.
Back in Flair is Flipped in the corner and runs the apron right into
the big boot from Nash which gets two. Off to Big Kev who pounds him
down and gets a side slam for two.
cheating but the distraction lets Piper hit a low blow to bring in
Piper. Piper hooks a quick sleeper on Hall but it’s easily broken
and Hall crotches him on the top. With both guys down, Flair beats
up Syxx on the floor. Flair fights him up the alley as Piper gets
up. There’s no one to tag so it’s two on one. This was supposed to
tease a Flair heel turn. Off to hall who pounds away and slaps Piper
on the back of the head a lot. Roddy says bring it on but he gets
Nash instead, resulting in a bunch of knees to the ribs. Big boot
puts him down and it’s off to Hall for the Edge to retain.
There was a lot of laying around for a lot of the match and the
ending was pretty stupid. Flair was supposed to turn heel but Piper
bailed to Hollywood so the turn didn’t go anywhere. This was nothing
of note and Flair going up the aisle with Syxx seemed pretty stupid
for Flair to do. The ending was more or less a squash anyway.
vs. Randy Savage
Buffer calls it lights out, which has meant a bunch of things over
the years. Liz looks great tonight but Kimberly looks a bit better.
Page comes in through the crowd and it’s on. A quick cutter attempt
doesn’t work and Savage heads to the floor. Page dives on his but
the ribs are still bad so it puts both guys down. Back inside Page
takes him down with a clothesline and another off the top.
they go into the crowd with Savage in control. They fight up towards
a concrete wall and then through a door into the concourse. Page
gets a crutch and waits for Savage to come back through so he can
break the crutch over his back. Back to ringside with Savage hitting
something like a spinebuster to further mess with Page’s ribs. Page
gets a weapon somehow but Savage has powder to slow him down.
with whatever he had and both guys are down. Savage gets up first
and takes the tape off of Page’s ribs. For no apparent reason he
piledrives the referee and Page has an opening. He hits a headbutt
but Randy goes right back to the ribs. A second referee comes out
and is tossed as well. Savage sends him to the floor and goes after
Kimberly but referee #3 (Nick Patrick) makes the save.
stage and there’s a VIP picnic area which they destroy. Dusty freaks
out because there’s a barbecue pit. Page wins the battle of the
smoked meat and it’s back to the ring. Savage gets crotched on the
post and pancaked. The Cutter is countered by a jawbreaker and they
head outside again. Savage loads up a piledriver on the exposed
concrete but Nick Patrick makes the save and gets decked as a result.
sending Patrick into the barricade and beating up a photographer.
Page comes back to send him into the steel and they go back in. A
low blow stops the Diamond Cutter but another attempt at it connects.
Both guys are down so here’s Hall. Page fights him off but Savage
clocks him with Hall’s belt. The Outsider’s Edge lets Savage hit the
elbow for the pin.
Pretty solid brawl here but at the end of the day, so what? It’s
certainly better than their Spring Stampede match and since Page won
the first one I have little problem with him losing here. The NWO
stuff was annoying but you knew it was coming. Pretty decent main
event though and certainly the best in months.
Definitely the best of the trio here but still nothing all that
great. It’s light years ahead of Slamboree but then again what
isn’t? Hogan would be back the next month to actually wrestle on pay
per view but unfortunately it was with Dennis Rodman in a tag match.
Anyway, decent show here but there’s nothing worth seeing at all.
Read this article on Grantland and thought you’d enjoy it…the first part mirrors many points you’ve made about on-screen Hulk Hogan during his big run in the WWF…enjoy.
Love your thoughts, love your rants. Hope you can weigh in on something here.
It is my thinking (and many other members of the IWC) that a wrestler needs three things to become a legend/huge success. Those three are: 1) Charisma/Look 2) In-ring skills 3) Mic work. The best of all time have all three of these (Flair, HBK, Angle, Savage, Austin…), many other have become legends with only two of them, but my question is this—Can you name the wrestler that has "gotten the farthest" in terms of overall respect by fans, status among the boys, reputation and everything else who only possessed ONE of the three factors.
Here are mine:
(again trying to find the biggest disparity b/w their "status" and their talents)
1) Legendary wrestlers with tons of charisma and a great/memorable look but no in-ring skills or mic work. My pick is Andre the Giant. The man is one of the most recognizable and well known wrestlers of all time, and he did it all with just who he is. Even when he was younger, he never was anything close to a good wrestler and his mic skills are even worse. My back-up pick is Abdullah the Butcher.
2) Legendary wrestlers who had amazing in-ring work, but hardly any charisma or mic skills. My pick here is Bob Backlund. Incredibly bland (except when wrestling) and snooze-inspiring promo work. My back-up here is AJ Styles (sorry TNA fans).
3) Legendary wrestlers who had great promo work, but sucked in the ring and didn't have much in the way of charisma/look. This one is the toughest obviously, since anyone who has great mic work usually can be said to have a decent amount of charisma. I can't find the perfect example, but Larry Zbyszko is the closest I can come up with.
Curious to get your thoughts on all three.
Also, the wrestler who made it the farthest w/o any of those three factors is Pedro Morales. He sucked.
Pedro was awesome for his time, you're nuts.
TWO, TWO, TWO rants for the price of one! With all the rhetoric from WCW about how the nWo just might reform on Sunday, we might as well head back to when they formed for the first time, as WCW puts on one of the best one-two punches in PPV history with the famous Bash-Bash combo of 1996. ROLL FILM! – Part One: The Retro Rant for Great American Bash 96 – Sgt. Craig Pittman presents the American flag to start out. – Live from Baltimore, Maryland. – Your hosts are Tony Schiavone and Dusty Rhodes. Tony offers condolences over the death of Dick Murdoch, and Dusty blows it off. – Opening match: Fire & Ice v. The Steiner Brothers. Fire is eventual nWo B-teamer Scott Norton, and Ice is the big fat black guy Ice Train, aka Jeff Jarrett’s limo driver. Special stipulation: There must be a winner. I wish that stip was in all matches. Juice Train controls Scott with some power stuff to start. He’s really, really, terrible, btw. Think D-Von Dudley on juice. (D-Von did get a lot better. Although I have to wonder what “D-Von Dudley on juice” is supposed to be compared with. D-Von NOT on juice?) Norton gets on my nerves by no-selling a bunch of Rick’s stuff. Rick hits a killer clothesline and belly-to-belly for two, however. Scott tags in and hurts his shoulder to become Ricky Morton. Crowd is getting into it for some reason. Scott comes back and nearly does the world a huge favor by breaking Norton’s neck on a backdrop suplex. Oh well, maybe next time. Norton comes back by no-selling some stuff to move into his only useful mode: Offense. Anyway, Rick gets the hot tag, but Fire & Ice end up hitting their powerbomb splash combo for two. Scott makes the save. They go for a Doomsday Device, but Scott makes the save again. Steiners get the super bulldog but Train makes the save. Scott hits a massively ugly Frankensteiner on Norton for the pin. No resting makes Scott happy. **1/2 – Mean Gene interviews Kevin Sullivan, who runs down Brian Pillman. – US title match: Gonnad v. El Gato. El Gato is of course Spanish for “Pat Tanaka”. This was absolutely the low point for the US title, as Gonnad brought the luchadores into WCW and was given a heatless run as the US champion as his reward. (Yeah, well, the ends justify the means, I say.) This is also, by the way, exactly the reason why I hate him so much. (But his radio show is pretty entertaining.) This is a boring mismatch as Gato controls with some dull submission moves. The first big spot comes as Gato is on the ring apron and Gonnad sunset flips to the floor, thus powerbombing Gato on the floor. He must have injured himself badly on the move, because we go into the ring FAST and Gonnad finishes it with a rollup. *1/4 – Sting has a special message for Steven Regal. He was halfway between hyperactive goofball and long-haired weirdo at this point. He’s wearing pink and black facepaint…is this a secret plot with Bret Hart? TUNE INTO NITRO TO FOUND OUT! – Blood Runs Cold promo. (See, they were running these promos all the way back in 1996! Glacier didn’t even DEBUT until 97! And you thought the WWE Network was a longshot.) – Lord of the Ring match: Diamond Dallas Page v. Marcus “Not Buff” Bagwell. (Something something Gandalf.) Bagwell was in the last vestiges of the American Males period before turning heel. Brawl outside the ring to start, and Bagwell controls when he get into the ring. Bagwell hits a nice pescado (standing slingshot over the top rope to a guy on the floor, for the benefit of someone who e-mailed me about it recently). Bagwell blows a move off the top and DDP takes over. I mean “blows” in the storyline sense, not the “smart” one, btw. Oh no, it’s the ABDOMINAL STRETCH OF SEVERE DISCOMFORT! You can break a nail with that. Tilt-a-whirl slam for two. Bagwell comes back with a both-ways-atomic-drop combo. DDP’s exaggerated selling is ridiculous. Bagwell slingshots into the ring with a clothesline for two. I like Stan Lane’s version better. Bagwell runs into an elbow on a blind charge, and DDP gets a couple of twos with his feet on the ropes. Bagwell comes back again and tries the fisherman’s suplex, but it’s about 7 inches away from the ropes so DDP holds on to block, then applies the Diamond Cutter for the pin. Eh. ** (DDP was still a few months away from respectability as a worker yet.) – Giant interview. Pretty clichéd stuff. – WCW Cruiserweight title match: Deano Machino v. Rey Mysterio Jr. This is Rey Jr’s debut. Tenay is doing commentary and notes that this is the first ever meeting between these two. Tony wonders if Rey can live up to the hype. Yeah, whatever happened to that Rey Mysterio guy, anyway? Slow matwork start, then we GO BABY GO! Rey armdrags Dean to the floor, then debuts his springboard dropkick. Beautiful sequence allows Rey to hit a sunset flip, but Dean rolls through and slingshots Rey out of the ring. Rey moves out of the way of a baseball slide. Dean viciously injures Rey’s arm and then goes to work. Rey walks to the top rope and dropkicks out of an armbar, then does a flip out of a powerbomb, only to get clotheslined for two. Malenko continues working on the arm as Tenay mentions Eddy Guerrero beating Jushin Liger to win the Best of the Super J tourney for 1996. Never did get a copy of that show, oddly enough. More vicious working on the arm. Tony begins a grand tradition by talking about the nWo (not called such yet) during a cruiserweight match. Sigh. Fans are getting restless with all the mat work. Malenko turns it up with a butterfly suplex for two, then goes back to the arm, pissing off the fans. Rey finally counters and sends Malenko to the floor, then nails a somersault tope to wake up the crowd. He springboards back in with a dropkick for two. They do a complex pinning reversal sequence that ends with Mysterio getting two. Mysterio gets the rana-rollup for two. Malenko catches him on the top rope, however, but Mysterio hits another rana off the top. Malenko goes for a tilt-a-whirl but Rey falls on top for two. Malenko powerbombs Rey and puts his feet on the ropes for good measure and gets the pin. Now *this* is the character that Dean needs to go back to. **** Great debut for Rey. – Big Bubba v. John Tenta. Bubba is dressed like a gay biker. (Yeah… “dressed like”…) The issue here is that Bubba shaved half the hair of Tenta to boot him out of the Dungeon of Doom. Compelling stuff, folks. Yup. Yessiree. You betcha. Bubba was actually halfway motivated at this point. But then, half of sucky is still sucky. Tenta catches Bubba with a powerslam and gets the pin. –** (A double death match. Boo.) – Mean Gene interviews Team Football: Steve MacMichael and Kevin Greene, along with wives Debra and whoever Kevin’s wife is. How unbelievably apropos for the bizarre world of wrestling that friggin’ DEBRA would become the biggest star of them all. – Falls Count Anywhere: Chris Benoit v. Kevin Sullivan. (Hey! Why wasn’t this one on the Falls Count Anywhere DVD?) The Horsemen were seemingly falling apart at this point, with Sullivan trying to recruit Arn Anderson for the Dungeon, and Pillman departing for the WWF. So Benoit took over for Pillman against Sullivan. We go fighting into the crowd right away, and fight up the stands. Boy, do you get the idea that these guys don’t like each other? Sullivan drags Benoit up the stairs and they fight into the men’s room. He slams a stall door in Benoit’s face as Tony and Dusty nearly have a coronary. Vicious shots with the door. Dusty is truly in his glory here. Tony: “HEAD FIRST TO THE COMMODE!” Benoit comes back and slams Sullivan into the doors as Dusty reels off his famous catchphrase: “There’s a lady! There’s a lady in the men’s bathroom!” Sullivan dumps a bag of toilet paper on Benoit and then a garbage can gets involved. They fight back to the stairs, and Tony notes that if someone falls, they fall bigtime. As if on cue, Benoit takes a shot to the head and then gets tossed down the stairs. Sullivan kicks him square in the nuts for good measure, then crotches him on the railing. Benoit returns the favor. He retrieves a table from below the ring after a couple of tries, and sets it up in the corner. Sullivan misses a charge to the corner and hits it…and it doesn’t break. Wow, high quality. Benoit puts it on the top rope, but gets backdropped onto it. They fight to the top, and Benoit gets a superplex, for the pin. HUGE pop for that. Benoit slaps Sullivan around, and Arn Anderson runs out to make the save…then turns on Sullivan! Horsemen beatdown ensues and the roof nearly blows off the place. 10 points for effort, plus several million for originality. ***** (Vince Russo would beat this formula into the ground over the years, but this was the first and best iteration of it in mainstream wrestling.) – Gene the lecher cuddles with Woman and Liz, then interviews the reunited Horsemen. Bobby Heenan managing the Horsemen is just so…right. It’s a shame it was aborted after the nWo thing started. But wait, there’s still only THREE Horsemen, isn’t there? – Lord Steven Regal v. Sting. Sting and Luger were the tag champions at this point. Regal goes right to work with dickish submission moves after getting kicked out of the ring. Sting comes back so Regal rolls up and badmouths the fans. Regal offers a handshake to Sting with a big goofy grin on his face. Regal’s facial expressions are priceless. (I feel like William Regal v. Joseph Park would be the greatest feud in the history of wrestling for just that reason.) They trade some stuff, with Regal retaining control. Regal looks to be wrestling a lot stiffer than usual for some reason, just generally being a jerk. Regal works on the arm and neck, and builds to finally hitting the Regal Stretch. Sting breaks and makes the Superman Comeback, hitting the Stinger Splash and deathlock for the submission. This was pretty much Sting’s last good match. ***3/4 (I must have been forgetting about the DDP match in 99.) – Ric Flair & Arn Anderson v. Steve MacMichael & Kevin Greene. The Horsemen are “coached” by Heenan, while the football players have Randy Savage. Mongo had been doing color commentary on Nitro before this. Crowd starts a “Mongo sucks” chant. Tony relates a story about Mongo signing with Bear arch-rivals the Packers for the money, a bit of foreshadowing that is nearly unheard of for WCW announcers. Arn and Mongo do a three-point stance, which leads to a drop toehold from Arn when Mongo charges. Smart move. The football players get AA in the corner and stomp him. Greene tags in and spazzes out, while the Horsemen calmly stall. Total mind-games from the Horsemen. Flair tricks Greene into going into the three-point stance, then kicks him in the head. Great stuff. Greene cleans house with shoulderblocks and the Horsemen bail. Savage drags them back. Greene dominates Flair with clotheslines, looking pretty okay. Mongo tags in and dominates Flair, looking less okay. He puts the figure-four on Flair and the place explodes. The wives and the Horsemen women nearly get into a catfight, but they run back to the dressing room. In the aftermath, Mongo gets beat on by the Horsemen and his knee injured. Crowd starts a “weasel” chant for old times’ sake, so he obliges with a cheap shot on Mongo. Mongo chokes out Flair, who retaliates with a ballshot. This is so classic. Horsemen with a double suplex on Mongo for two. Mongo atomic drops Arn into Flair and makes the hot tag to Greene. Greene cleans house, again looking decent. Flair flips right into a big boot from Mongo. Greene celebrates like a goof, so Arn clips him from behind and pounds on his knee. Flair goes for the figure-four and Greene cradles for two. But inevitably Flair does get the move, and Arn lends a helping hand. Benoit hits the ring to attack Savage as Greene fights to escape. Debra returns from the dressing room with the Devilish Women, wearing an evening gown and carrying the infamous Haliburton full of money. Mongo thinks it over for a minute, then takes the money and wallops his partner, allowing Flair to get the pin. Wild, wild, booking and that took more balls than I thought anyone in WCW had. Horsemen Beatdown #2938 proceeds full steam ahead on Randy Savage, with Heenan calling the shots. Mongo is thus officially inducted as the Fourth Horseman. The crowd, who was cheering the heels at the beginning, completely turns on them by the end. Just absolutely brilliant. Match sucked, of course. ** – Then, in the moment that completely turned WCW from an also-ran into the #1 force in sports entertainment, Eric Bischoff brings out the Outsiders, who still aren’t even named at this point. Crowd chants “Diesel” at Nash. Bischoff sets up the six-man at Bash at the Beach, with the Outsiders and a mystery partner against Randy Savage, Sting and Lex Luger. Bischoff refuses to name the WCW team members, however, so Nash powerbombs Bischoff THROUGH A TABLE! This is still so glorious to watch today. Massive heat for Hall and Nash because of this. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the nWo era, as all the old guard of WCW are systemically flushed away and the WWF refugees literally take over, on-screen and off. – Main event, WCW World title: The Giant v. Lex Luger. Luger is the TV champion and half of the tag champs at this point. The crowd is notably distracted after that last bit. Lex runs right into a big boot to start. Luger comes back with a series of clotheslines, sending Giant to the floor. He hammers away and applies a sleeper, so Jimmy Hart jumps onto the ring apron to try to nail Luger. Sting comes out to stop him and chases him back to the dressing room. Giant escapes and s.l.o.w.l.y works over Lex. Luger makes the comeback and tries the rack, but his back gives way and Giant hits AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATHECHOKESLAM for the pin. * – Part Two: The Retro Rant for Bash at the Beach 96. – A video montage set to a rip-off of Seal’s “Crazy” (which would have had SOOOOO much more effect if they had used the real song) starts us off. – Live from Daytona Beach, Florida. – Your hosts are Tony, Dusty and Bobby. – Opening match: Rey Mysterio Jr. v. Psychosis. Some matwork to start, and then they say “fuck this wrestling shit” and Psychosis pulls out a tope con hilo to get it going. He hits a legdrop, and then goes to the top and gets the guillotine legdrop, but amazingly it only gets two. Running clothesline gets two. Primo spot as Rey is laid out on the apron, and when Psychosis runs towards him, Rey alley-oops him into the ringpost, then pops up and hits a rana to the floor. Back in the ring and Rey snaps off the rana for two. Back in the ring, and when Rey goes for a leapfrog Psychosis goes with the momentum and dumps Rey onto the top rope. Rey goes to the floor, and Psychosis hits an eye-popping spot, delivering a MAN-SIZED senton from the top rope to Rey on the floor! Back in the ring and Rey does his fake-out, then rana’s Psychosis to the floor, hits the springboard dropkick, then finishes it by coming off the top rope and hitting a rana on Psychosis on the way down. Amazing choreography. Back in the ring, and Rey dropkicks Psychosis out again and follows with a quebrada (Asai Moonsault). Rey goes for the rana to finish, but gets powerbombed for two. Psychosis rams Rey into the turnbuckle chestfirst and sets up Splash Mountain, but Rey reverses into his rana for the pin. Crowd goes nuts. This would be one of the three greatest openers ever, along with Liger v. Pillman from Superbrawl II and Owen-Bret from WM10. ****3/4 – Gonnad promises to keep his US title away from Ric Flair. – Big Bubba v. John Tenta. In a monumentally stupid booking decision, this match is scheduled after the awesome opener. See, there’s a pole, and it’s got a sock full of silver dollars, and whoever gets it can use it. As exciting to watch as it sounds. And then, to really build the excitement, the pole is about 20 feet high, so neither guy can climb it. Tenta tries to disconnect the pole from the ringpost, but that doesn’t work, so Bubba finds a roll of tape and tapes Tenta to the ropes, then whips him. Who booked this shit? Then, in yet another Amazing WCW Coincidence ™, Bubba pulls out a handy pair of scissors (you can take an eye out with that!) to cut some of Tenta’s hair off. But Tenta gets them, cuts himself free, and tries to cut the pole loose. That doesn’t work either, so Bubba sends Jimmy Hart up the pole, which of course backfires as Tenta gets the SOCK OF DOOM and nails Bubba for the pin. Foot apparel figuring into booking wouldn’t be seen again until Mankind, for good reason. -*** – The Idiots speculate on the identity of the mystery man. – Mean Gene interviews Team WCW. Sting has bizarre yellow and black facepaint…could this mean a secret alliance with the Killer Bees? TUNE INTO NITRO TO FIND OUT! (Never not funny.) – Taped Fist / Lord of the Ring match: Diamond Dallas Page v. Hacksaw Jim Duggan. Duggan leads a USA chant to throw evil foreigner DDP (from Scumsylvania) off his game. DDP’s evil plan to tape Duggan’s feet together doesn’t work, and a slugfest erupts. They fight outside the ring. The Idiots talk about DDP’s troubles and his benefactor. You know, it would have been SO easy to just toss in a throwaway line during the nWo’s recruitment speech for DDP about how Dibiase rescued him from the gutter and how he should be grateful for it. But instead, we get the alternative: Nothing. (It could have been HORNSWOGGLE!) Duggan clotheslines DDP around the ring, but makes the fatal error of climbing back into the ring without seeing what DDP is doing. DDP kicks the middle rope, crotching Duggan, and then executes the Diamond Cutter for the pin. Nothing to see here… * – Dog Collar match: The Public Enema v. The Nasty Boys. Rocco Rock is chained to Sags and Knobs gets Johnny Grunge. We get the, ahem, Double Trouble Bash at the Beach Bubble (to quote Dusty) to split the screen. They all immediately go brawling outside the ring, thus rendering the dog collar stip meaningless. Knobs and Grunge go fighting on the beach set, and Knobs hits him with…an inflatable shark. And Grunge sells. If it wasn’t WCW, he probably would have bladed off the shot, too. Tony: “You can do much more with a surfboard than you can with a rubber shark.” I can’t make up quotes like this. Rocco hits a flying body attack off the lifeguard’s chair while Knobs beats on Grunge with a chair. This is truly the epitome of “mindless brawl”. Sags gets a nasty move with a piledriver on the concrete, and of course a table gets involved. Sags gets put on it and Rocco comes off the railing to put him through it. They fight into the ring, and Sags finds another table. Once again, Sags gets put on it, but moves this time and Rocco bounces off the table…which doesn’t break. Holy shit that looked painful. Sags puts Rock on the table and loads up the Shitty Elbow by wrapping the chain around his arm, and AGAIN the table doesn’t break. Damn, that table is tougher than Steve Williams. (Sadly, the table also got cancer and died a few years back.) The Nasties clothesline Rock with the chain and Sags pins him. Ugly, ugly ending. Someone better fire that table. Fun match besides the ending. *** As an epilogue, Sags is FINALLY put through the TABLE OF DEATH by being tossed off the top. (You gotta finish the job! Just like the Christian-Orton match from MITB last year.) – Cruiserweight title match: Dean Malenko v. Disco Inferno. This is Disco’s PPV debut. This is also the match that turned Disco into an RSPW golden boy. (Boy that sure didn’t last long.) Dean cranks on Disco, kicking his ass from one end of the ring to the other. Vicious brainbuster that would end the match in any other universe only gets two. I think the hairspray layer in Disco’s hair protected him. Backdrop suplex and then Dean goes to work on the knee. Deano is just being vicious. Snapmare and dropkick to the back of the head gets two. Dean goes to the STF and gets a sunset flip for two. More shitkicking from Dean. Disco finally comes back with rights off a Dean error. He guillotines Malenko on the top rope, but checks the hair before going for a cover. That’s pretty much it for the Disco offense, as Dean takes him out of the ring and rams him to the railing, then back into the ring for a crucifix-like submission move. Disco fights it and *barely* makes the ropes. Dean gets a springboard legdrop for two. Disco comes back again with a series of elbows, and hits a Rude Awakening, but again checks his hair before covering, and Malenko makes the ropes. Backdrop for two. Swinging neckbreaker, but now he dances and that costs him the title as it only gets two. Malenko promptly comes back with a springboard dropkick and applies the Texas Cloverleaf, but Disco small packages for two. Clothesline for two. Malenko with his own clothesline, and they fight over a backslide. Malenko breaks and hits the Tiger Bomb, which leads into the Cloverleaf for the submission. Ended up being a tough, tough match for Dean. ***3/4 (Clearly Disco’s best match ever, so he peaked pretty early in his career.) – Gene the Lecher interviews Kimberly, wearing nothing but a Bash at the Beach towel. Kimberly, not Gene. Call now to order. – Joe Gomez v. Steve MacMichael. This is *so* not a PPV quality match. See, the problem with Mongo is that he makes a good heel, but the nWo thing turned everyone not associated with them into de facto babyfaces, and he had no idea how to play that role properly. Boring bathroom break match which Mongo finishes with his shitty tombstone piledriver. Way too long. DUD – Ric Flair delivers an interview that is damn near giddy. Gene the Lecher makes innuendo-laden remarks towards Woman. – US title match: Gonnad v. Ric Flair. This was such a glorious match for me to watch. The go-go boots SO WORK on Liz. Anyway, Gonnad controls the early going as Woman shrieks at ringside. I would HATE to be the Sullivans’ next door neighbor, especially if they had sex on any kind of regular basis. At what point did Gonnad go from power wrestler to mat wrestler? He’s using a lot of slams and clotheslines here. Flair ends up on the floor and the Devilish Women console him, and Gonnad follows him down with a bodypress off the apron…taking down Liz with Flair! YOU BALD-HEADED WANNABE GANGSTER BASTARD! She seems to be okay, luckily. Woman knocks Gonnad off the top rope to give the advantage to Flair. Just for insurance, Flair chats with Nick Patrick and Woman wanders into the ring and kicks A FIELD GOAL on Gonnad’s gonads. Entire crowd goes “Ohhhhhhhhh” in sympathy pain. More shenanigans lead to a series of two counts for Flair. Man, that was like the best ballshot I’ve ever seen, and it’s all the more glorious when it’s Gonnad getting it. Gonnad makes the comeback and Flair does all his heel stalling tricks. Flair’s figure four attempt gets reversed for two. Gonnad gets his own figure four on Flair…and a bad one at that. Hasn’t he ever done one before? Gonnad with his THREE AND A HALF MOVES OF DOOM and a cradle, but Liz is up on the apron, and Woman nails him with the SIZE SEVEN OF DEATH, and Flair pins him with his feet on the ropes, just to be Flair. Flair wins the title for the first time since about 1980. **1/4 – Mean Gene tries to weasel his way into the Outsiders’ dressing room, but no go. – The Giant & Kevin Sullivan v. Chris Benoit & Arn Anderson. (Benoit and Anderson probably should have ended up with the tag titles. They seemed like a perfect combination for that.) The heels attack from behind in the aisle. Mongo decks the Giant from behind, and Giant chases him back to the dressing room, leaving Sullivan two-on-one against the Horsemen. I don’t like those odds. Giant makes his way back to ringside after a short time. The storyline is that everyone knows the Horsemen are dead if Giant gets tagged in, so they keep Sullivan in their corner. Dull match as Kevin gets battered nonstop. Finally, Sullivan escapes a spike piledriver and hot tags Giant. Sullivan and Benoit fight to the back, leaving Giant against Arn “Dead meat in an about 15 seconds” Anderson. You guess the rest. *1/2 Meanwhile, Benoit hits a dive onto Sullivan from the broadcast location. Then they head back to the ring and Benoit continues the abuse, but Woman calls him off. This turned into the soap opera angle with Benoit and Woman that ended up going nowhere thanks to the nWo. (Well, eventually there WAS a payoff for it…) – And finally, the match that changed everything, the one mystery partner that actually lived up to the hype… – Lex Luger, Sting and Randy Savage v. Scott Hall, Kevin Nash & ???? Nash has got a beer gut bigger than all outdoors. All three of the faces are wearing face-paint in a show of unity. Tony is finally forced to put names to Nash and Hall in order to call the match. Big pier-six to start, and Luger gets KO’s almost immediately in the chaos. He is taken back to the dressing room, leaving Sting and Savage against the Outsiders. Odd booking, probably a swerve to make the smarts think that Luger would be the Third Man. The Outsiders proceed to decimate Randy Savage. It’s so sad to see the Wolfpac fighting like this. Ugly spot as Savage hurts his neck on a botched elbowdrop from Nash. Sting comes in to take over the Ricky Morton role. The Outsiders run through their usual offense. Sting is just getting creamed. Finally he gets the hot tag and Savage goes nuts, tossing Hall out of the ring and pounding on Nash. He hits the axehandle out of the ring and then again back in, but Nash lowblows him. And then….Hulk Hogan comes out. He rips off the shirt, clears the ring…and legdrops Savage. We have our mystery partner. This was possibly the single most shocking thing I had ever seen in wrestling at the time. (And while I was watching it, my girlfriend called me just to talk! Thank god for VCRs) The nWo destroy Savage and then Mean Gene comes out for The Interview as the ring fills with trash: MG: Hulk Hogan, excuse me, excuse me, what in the world are you thinking? HH: Mean Gene, the first thing you need to do is to tell this people to SHUT UP if you wanna hear what I got to say! MG: I have been with you for so many years…for you to join up with these two men absolutely makes me sick! And I think that these people here and a lot of other people around the world have had just about enough of this man here [Hall] and this man here [Nash] and you want to put yourself with this group? You’ve gotta be…kidding me. HH: First thing you gotta realize, brother, is this right here is the future of wrestling. You can call this the New World Order of wrestling, brother! These two men here came from a great big organziation up north, and everybody was wondering who the third man was, well who knows more about that organization than me, brother? MG: I’ve been there, I’ve done that…and you have made the wrong decision, in my opinion. HH: Well lemme tell you something…I made that organization a monster…I made the people rich up there…and when it all came to pass, the name Hulk Hogan, the man Hulk Hogan, got bigger than the whole organization, brother. And then Billionaire Ted, he wanted to talk turkey with Hulk Hogan, amigo. Well, you know, Ted promised me movies, brother, Billionaire Ted promised me millions of dollars, Billionaire Ted promised me world calibar matches! Well, as far as Billionaire Ted goes, Eric Bischoff and the whole WCW goes, I’m bored, brother. That’s why these two guys here, the so called Outsiders, these are the men that I want as my friends, they’re the new blood of professional wrestling, and not only are we gonna take over the wretling business with Hulk Hogan and new blood, the monsters with me, we wil destroy everything in our path, Mean Gene. MG: Look at all the crap in this ring! That’s whats in the future for you if you want to hang around with this man Hall and this man Nash. HH: As far as I’m concerned, all this crap in the ring represents these fans out here. For two years, brother, for two years I held my head high, I did everything for the charities, I did everything for the kids, and the reception I got when I came out here, you fans can STICK IT, brother, because if it wasn’t for Hulk Hogan you people wouldn’t be here, if it wasn’t for Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff would still be selling meat from a truck in Minneapolis. If it wasn’t for Hulk Hogan, all thse Johnny come lately’s you see wrestling wouldn’t be here. I was selling the world, brother, while they were bumming gas to put in their car to get to high school. So the way it is, with Hulk Hogan and the New World Organization of wrestling, brother, and the new blood by my side, whatcha gonna do when the New World Organization runs wild on you? WHATCHA GONNA DO? MG: Tony, Bobby, Dusty, let’s get back to you. Tony: All right, we have seen the end of Hulkamania. For Bobby the Brain Heenan, for Dusty Rhodes…I don’t know. I’m Tony Schiavone. Hulk Hogan, you can go to hell. We’re outta here. Straight to hell. [slams down headset] End of show. The Bottom Line: That, my friends, was probably the pinnacle of WCW’s creative powers, and the show that signalled the start of a year and a half of ratings dominance. Only now can the nWo finally be declared dead and buried, three years later. From that point on, EVERYTHING centered around the nWo, as they introduced new members, punked out WCW wrestlers, and just generally wreaked havoc until finally everyone got bored of it and started watching the WWF. If only Hogan hadn’t poked his nose into the angle, it could have been the greatest ever. Oh well. Strongest recommendation for both shows.
(2012 Scott sez: And now…the Bill Watts era.) The Netcop Retro Rant for WCW Great American Bash 1992 – Live from Albany, Georgia. – Your hosts are Tony Schiavone, Magnum TA, Jim Ross and Jesse Ventura. – Eric Bischoff interviews Bill Watts to start, who defends the “off the top” rule and basically wishes everyone in the NWA tag title tournament good luck. (Funny that Bill was already on the defensive about his stupid rule changes at this point.) – This is very much a special interest show: It features the NWA World tag team title tournament and a World title match between Sting and Vader, and nothing else. The first round of the tournament was held at Clash 19 a few weeks previous to this show, and as well Steve Williams and Terry Gordy fought the Steiners in a quarterfinal round match on that same show, which was won by the MVC (Miracle Violence Connection, their Japanese team name.), sending them to the semi-finals on this show. Opening match: Brian Pillman & Jushin Liger v. Nikita Koloff & Ricky Steamboat. Good enough choice for an opener, but it has two distinct portions: The portion involving Ricky Steamboat (which ROCKS) and the portion involving Nikita Koloff (which SUCKS). I wish I could have seen Ricky Steamboat v. Jushin Liger before Steamboat retired. Not much to say about this one, back and forth with good action until Pillman tries a flying bodypress and Steamboat rolls through for the pin. *** (Oh yeah, it’s 98 Scott all right.) – I should mention that Jim Ross had managed to oust Dusty Rhodes as the booker at this point, so everything is clean no matter how boring it may be. – The Freebirds v. Hiroshi Hase & Shinya Hashimoto. The tape I’m watching cuts out almost the entirety of this match, but it’s the Freebirds AND Hashimoto in the same match so it’s safe to say it sucked. (Professional wrestling reviewing at its finest, ladies and gentlemen. Although to be fair this was before the days of Youtube where you could just look something up if you tape cut out.) The Japanese team shows up later in the night so I guess the ‘Birds jobbed here (yay!), which is good because I hate their guts. – My tape cuts back in just in time for the intros to… – Rick Rude & Steve Austin v. Barry Windham & Dustin Rhodes. This would be approaching the zenith of the Windham-Rhodes team. The Dangerous Alliance was in decline, as Rude spent all his time with Austin and Madusa instead of Paul E. Decent enough match, everyone was pretty much at the top of their game at this point. Rude even pulls off a top-rope dropkick! Interesting note: Rude is US champion and Austin is TV champion at this point. Rude lost his belt to Dustin Rhodes and Austin lost his to Barry Windham (albeit briefly and before this match). Life is funny sometimes, no? Long headlock sequence in the middle really kills this one. Hot tag to Dustin, who cleans house. Austin tries a piledriver on Windham, but Rhodes is the legal man and comes off the top with a clothesline for the pin on Austin. *** Lots of goofy graphical effects interject themselves for some reason. (I saw this one a few years ago on 24/7 or Vintage Collection or something, and it’s pretty badass, like ***1/2 – ***3/4) – Bischoff interviews the Van They Call Vader and Harley Race, in preparation for Sting. – Semifinal #1: Nikita Koloff & Ricky Steamboat v. The Miracle Violence Connection. Williams & Gordy were in the midst of the monster push of a lifetime here, and had recently beaten the Steiners to win the WCW World tag titles. Bill Watts just LOVED these two. (Who didn’t really? You put Steve Williams and Terry Gordy together and get them to beat the piss out of people, what’s not to love?) Extended armbar here. The crowd dies here and never really gets back into it for the rest of the night. Mat wrestling exhibition. This is why WCW fired Jim Ross as a booker in the first place. (To be fair, I don’t think Ross ever had THAT much power, since Watts was really the main decision maker. JR certainly had his ear, though.) Really long and dull match. Blame WCW for the onset of 6 match PPVs, as this one goes about 20 minutes plus. Semi-hot ending has Steamboat going for the bodypress, but Gordy pushes him off, into the arms of Dr. Death, who Stampedes him for the academic pin. ** (Another one I saw later where I short-shrifted the original viewing. Outside of the dull middle portion, this was a hell of a tag match, again a ***1/2 affair.) – Semifinal #2: Barry Windham & Dustin Rhodes v. Shinya Hashimoto & Hiroshi Hase. Man, this is a no-nonsense PPV. Just bang-bang-bang, one match after another. (Wrestling is SERIOUS. No fancy stuff!) The arena is so dark it looks like Hardcore Heaven. Dustin v. Shinya is the closest the world ever got to Dustin fighting his father. (I don’t know what Shinya Hashimoto did to piss me off.) Bad match which gets marginally better when Hase is in. Hot tag to Windham about 15 minutes in, who beats up Hase and then nails the lariat for the pin. *1/2 – Tony & Magnum interview Ron Simmons. – WCW World title match: Sting v. Big Van Vader. Vader still has that goofy helmet. Setup: Vader splashed and destroyed Sting in the Omni a few months ago. Big staredown to start. This is match #2 in a series of about 40,000, the last of which occurs at Fall Brawl 94 to quietly end one of the longest running feuds in wrestling. This is like the prologue in a long novel, as Sting has yet to really meet Vader in a meaningful match and doesn’t realize what he’s getting into. Sting starts out smart, sticking and moving fast, but gets dumb and never recovers. Vader crushes him. He even puts Sting in the Scorpion Deathlock at one point. Vader is mauling Sting like a grizzly, with stiff rights and clotheslines. Sting makes a comeback, but it takes as much out of him as it does Vader, and Sting isn’t in great shape here to begin with. Sting hits a fallaway slam, but it takes forever for him to execute and you can tell he’s out of gas and the end is near for him. German suplex (barely) for 2, Stinger splash, and again, but Vader drops down on the second one and Sting slams his head into the ringpost. He’s bleeding and is a walking dead man and everyone can just feel it. He takes a couple of big shots at Vader, but he just casually steps aside and Sting falls flat on his face and stays there. Vader picks him up and powerbombs him, but it’s just a formality because Sting wasn’t getting up to begin with. The three count is academic. Vader claims his first WCW World title, and the crowd is in SHOCK. ****1/4 This is one of the best fucking matches I’ve ever seen. Vader just absolutely dismantled Sting here, and Sting’s gotta be the biggest company man ever, because he did the mega-job, getting the crap kicked out of him for the cause of putting Vader over BIGTIME. This is the match that *made* Vader. (That’s how wrestling used to work, yes. A big star puts over a guy who they want to be a big star and makes him into a big star too, and then they fight again for EVEN BIGGER MONEY. Like Chael Sonnen v. Anderson Silva II. I think Aries-Roode should rip off the finish from the first Silva-Sonnen fight, with Aries beating the hell out of Roode for 15 minutes before getting trapped in a triangle choke.) – Bischoff interviews the new champ. – NWA World tag team title final: Barry Windham & Dustin Rhodes v. Steve Williams & Terry Gordy. Ole Anderson is the referee here, proving if anything that there *is* a job he can do worse than booking. (High five! Anyone?) I always thought the NWA tag titles looked better than the WCW ones. The Steiners come down to ringside, but get chased off by WCW security. I can appreciate the attempts from Ross & Watts to push mat wrestling, but it’s sooooo boring to sit through it. Crowd is dead silent throughout after that last match basically ripped out their heart. Eyebrow-raising moment: Mongo’s name gets dropped in reference to Steve Williams’ football career. This is a slow, deliberate match which is 99.99% controlled by the MVC. Headlock, armbar, submission moves…just about as basic as you get. Dustin makes a hot tag to Windham, who immediately gets caught in a headlock and becomes the Face in Peril in Rhodes’ place. Hot tag #2 to Rhodes, who becomes Face In Peril in Windham’s place. God forbid the crowd should be excited about anything here. Windham never gets hot tag #3, as Williams goes for the Oklahoma Stampede, but Windham comes in and dropkicks Rhodes on top. (If I were booking it, that’d be the ending right there…underdog win and poetic justice in one.) Williams easily kicks out, however, ruining the fans’ night by ripping Rhodes’ head off with a clothesline and pinning him to become the first and last NWA World tag team champions, unifying them with the WCW version right out of the gate. *1/2 The Bottom Line: Aside from Vader-Sting, this was an utterly pointless waste of time. The MVC were already WCW World champions at this point, there was no need to put the NWA World titles on them as well! Let a babyface team take them, like the Steiners, and then build to a big unification match. (I was just going to say that! Thanks, 1998 Scott.) Instead, we get boring MVC win after win, as they take out everyone and capture all the gold in one night and send the fans home bored and unhappy. Wrestling is not a sport to watch the better team win with superior athleticism. In the real world, Williams & Gordy were the best team in the field and would have won with solid mat wrestling, true. In the wrestling world, however, the better team rarely wins, and even more rarely with mat wrestling. The Steiners should have won this tournament to set up the big blowoff between them and the MVC that Ross was pushing all night. It never happened. Wrestling is not the real world, and when it tries to be the results are a dull show like Bash 92. For Bill Watts/Jim Ross wrestling “purists” however, I’m sure this show is exactly what anti-screwjob factions are screaming for. If nothing else, I’d like to warn y’all that clean, basic mat wrestling is generally boring as hell. As an interesting note, Williams & Gordy went on to lose the “Unfied” titles to Windham and Rhodes, the very team they beat to unify it. (The cat burglar has been caught by the very person who was trying to catch him!) Recommended for Sting-Vader, but not really much else unless you’re a big MVC fan. (Don’t be a hater, 1998 Scott. There was some SWANK tag team wrestling on this show and I’ll take a three-hour PPV of clean finishes and basic wrestling these days seven days a week and twice on Sunday. This is another one I wanna YouTu…er, I mean, watch when a legal WWE authorized DVD copy comes out…and see if it the show looks any different to me now.)
(2012 Scott sez: You may have heard about this show before. I was toying with the idea of a redo, but I’m a week away from vacation as it is and I don’t want to completely kill my will to live before I make it through the work week.) The Netcop Retro Rant for WCW Great American Bash 1991 A word before we get started: Many times over the past few years on RSPW, I and many others have read newer posters state that such-and-such a PPV is the “Worst one ever!” I assure you, whatever a given is, it is not the Worst PPV Ever. nWo Souled Out was extremely bad, but it had a **** ladder match. WWF King of the Ring 1995 was pretty wretched, and certainly the worst WWF PPV, but there was at least one match over **. No, the title of the “The Worst PPV Ever” has always fallen on, and shall always fall on, WCW’s Great American Bash 1991, aka the Flair Protest Show. There is no comparison to anything else, it is, without a doubt, the biggest and most insulting waste of three hours ever to be called a wrestling program. Let this be a lesson to future generations of posters: Don’t watch this show, even to see how bad it could be. It’s just not worth it, no matter how cool your friends say you’ll be. Take up smoking instead. On with the rant. (Sadly, this show’s badness was EASILY eclipsed by Heroes of Wrestling after I wrote this. EASILY. I’d probably slot ECW December to Dismember at #2 as well now.) Live from Baltimore, Maryland, where wrestlers can’t even shave in the morning for fear of the Maryland State Athletic Commission stopping their morning routine due to blood. Your hosts are Tony Schiavone and Jim Ross, with the debuting Eric Bischoff doing interviews. Opening match: PN News & Beautiful Bobby Eaton v. Stunning Steve Austin & Terry Taylor (scaffold match). And they waste no time in tanking the whole fucking show. Who could actually be STUPID enough to start a major PPV with a SCAFFOLD match? The whole dynamic of these things is that all four guys end up crawling around trying not to fall off and kill themselves. That tends to limit the action. I have no idea why it was even signed. (Because Austin and Eaton were sort of feuding over the TV title, and the other guys had nothing better to do, and SCIENCE.) It’s also “capture the flag” rules, meaning no cool 20 foot falls to the mat. I can’t even describe properly how BORING this match is. Crowd is just dead, and I mean DEAD, by the end of this mess. Bobby Eaton grabs the flag and goes back to his corner, and there’s ZERO reaction from the fans, since they’re probably waiting for someone to fall off to end it. Quite possibly the worst opening match in PPV history. -**** I mean it, it was THAT bad. (In all fairness, the Chamber of Horrors match might have been THE worst. But this was right up there.) Eric Bischoff interviews Paul E and Arn Anderson. Arn is the ONE guy I would NOT want to be around at that time. The Diamond Studd (w/DDP) v. Tom Zenk. Scott Hall looks very roided up and thick here. (Not that I would want to cast aspersions on the moral fiber of Scott Hall.) Zenk has good energy for, oh, 5 seconds, and then the Studd puts it in under-drive with the usual kicks and punches. Hey, yo, survey says…this match bites. Crowd drops off like flies. Sooooooooo sloooooooooow. Zenk drags DDP into the ring and beats him up, which enables Studd to get a belly-to-back suplex for the pin. 1/2* This crowd is just merciless tonight in their Flair protest, basically not popping for *anything*. (I’d say the shitty matches have a lot to do with the state of the crowd as well.) Oh, well, at least it’s not Kevin Nash. Oz v. Ron Simmons. Oh, fuck, it’s Kevin Nash. Oz has Kane’s pyro to bring him out. (They’d already cut the budget on Oz’s entrance to almost nothing after his debut at Superbrawl failed to turn Nash into a giant star.) This is just after Simmons’ singles push started. He gets one of the few actual pops of the night. Crowd doesn’t bother popping for anything in the match, however, and with good reason. The match is a big, steaming bowl of fresh suck, with lightly seasoned suck sauce, and a side of suck salad. (With suck dressing on the side.) Lumber, lumber, kick, punch, yawn. Simmons manages to get a reaction by clotheslining Big Sexy the Giant Killer out of the ring. Simmons with three shoulderblocks for the pin. DUD. WCW’s Top 10 this week: 1. Lex Luger 2. Barry Windham 3. Sting 4. Steve Austin 5. Bobby Eaton 6. Arn Anderson 7. El Gigante 8. Diamond Studd 9. Ron Simmons 10. Johnny B. Badd (Sadly I wasn’t doing the WCW Top 10 disclaimer gag at this point because it might have provided me with some entertainment while writing this.) Robert Gibson v. Ricky Morton. If you’ll recall from Clash XV, Morton turned on Gibson and joined the York Foundation. Morton hasn’t even bothered to change his RnR Express tights or grow an evil goatee. (Or, most importantly, cut his damn hair. Thankfully Bobby Roode paid attention to that lesson when he turned heel.) This was WCW’s pathetic attempt to push Morton as a singles wrestler 6 years too late. Crowd is actually pretty pumped for this to start. Morton kills it, of course, by stalling nonstop for the first few minutes. Then he spends the next 20 minutes working on Gibson’s knee. Good psychology, but it’s boring as shit and that’s the LAST thing this DOA crowd needs right now. It’s so weird watching Fonzie ref down the middle now. I think everyone was expecting a more Rock N Roll Express type of match and we get this shit instead, a point which JR makes, although in a more diplomatic sense. I guess it wasn’t a technically unsound match or anything, but literally 90% of it is Morton working on the knee. I’m so bored I’m nearly dropping off by the end. Gibson mounts an ill-advised comeback because as he’s crawling back into the ring after a sort-of brawl on the rampway, Morton tags him with the laptop and pins him. Yay. * (At least they didn’t have Gibson go over.) The Young Pistols and Dustin Rhodes v. The Freebirds and Bradstreet (six-man elimination). Wanna know how bad the tag situation in 1991 was? (HOW BAD WAS IT?) The ‘Birds have both the US and Six-Man tag titles. (Oh. I was hoping for a Match Game joke answer there.) Brad Armstrong is 5000% better than both Hayes and Garvin combined, so of course we never get to see him here. Instead most of what he does is running around outside and pissing off the faces with his Ultra-Rudo act, which I dig more than anything that WCW produced in this time period. The Freebirds waste copious amounts of time trying to get the crowd to do ANYTHING. No dice. Hayes & Garvin of course proceed to ruin another perfectly good match by somehow managing to drag another team down to their level of crap. (Story of their career.) Match goes almost to the finish with no eliminations, then suddenly Steve Armstrong, Michael Hayes, Tracy Smothers and Jim Garvin all go in rapid-fire succession, leaving Dustin against Bradstreet. Guess who wins that one. Hint: It was with several atomic elbows and a bulldog. *1/4 Note: We’re now about halfway into the show and my highest rating is *1/4. And that’s just because of Brad Armstrong’s performance. And this was supposed to be the show that started a new era for WCW? (Well, I mean, it DID, but it wasn’t a very GOOD era…) The Yellow Dog v. Johnny B. Badd. Johnny’s initial push continues here. The Yellow Dog is Brian Pillman in the usual dipshit Dusty angle. (He lost a loser-leaves-town TAG match, for some reason, and came back as the mysterious Yellow Dog, and then proceeded to get his ass kicked by Barry Windham all over again. It was quite the time for him.) Johnny was playing it totally gay here. This was basically his first PPV appearance, keep in mind. (Second.) Nothing match, full of armdrags and the occasional Pillman dropkick. Teddy Long runs in for no good reason and tries to attack Pillman, thus earning a DQ. (Yes, a DQ in this half-assed midcard match.) The crowd is out of it, as usual tonight. * Pillman was not just half-assing it, he was half-assing the half of an ass he brought with him. Can you blame him, though? Lumberjack match: Black Blood v. Big Josh. Blood is Billy Jack Haynes. (What a fucking nutcase he turned out to be, even by the low standards of pro wrestling’s nutcases. He makes Jesse Ventura’s conspiracy theory show look like 60 Minutes. The short version is that he believes Daniel Benoit to actually have been Vince McMahon’s illegitimate son. Plus he was nearly killed because he was “accidentally” acting as a cocaine mule and decided to steal some for himself.) This was not a smart idea on WCW’s part, I’ll say that much. (Put this match on in Portland 5 years earlier and it’s literally a main event anywhere in the state.) Kick and punch and the usual screwy stuff involved with a lumberjack match. And still Black Blood tries to rise above the convoluted booking and actually makes a match out of it. I guess no one told him about Flair. A big brawl ensues, and Dustin Rhodes whacks Black Blood with an axe handle, allowing Josh to get the pin. *3/4 I just can’t give it ** in good conscience. It actually got the crowd going. (Black Blood was an interesting character concept, as I guess he was intended to be a kind of medieval torture master, but Haynes quickly got injured and never returned.) One Man Gang v. El Gigante. Well, that didn’t last long. Kevin Sullivan gives a long, rambling interview that kills the crowd again. Gigante carries four midgets to the ring. Stupid, stupid, stupid. El Gigante is the worst “mainstream” wrestler, ever. Period. (Great Khali would argue that point.) One Man Gang beats on him with a cast iron wrench for 5 minutes and he can’t even sell *that* without screwing it up. (He beats on him with A CAST IRON WRENCH and the crowd is BORED with it. This is how bad this show is!) The crowd is having a collective nap. I’m surprised they haven’t walked out yet. Gigante can’t wrestle, talk, sell or act. (Apparently he did some poetry before he died that was pretty good, though.) His whole thing is that he’s really, really tall. OMG actually carries a match (not out of negative stars…oh, lord, no…) and loses it after having his own powder kicked in his face. –** (Because if a CAST IRON WRENCH doesn’t work, lord knows POWDER will.) Russian Chain Match: Nikita Koloff v. Sting. This was a super-hot feud at the time, so maybe it’ll wake up the crowd. Nikita, however, didn’t do anything worthwhile in his entire 91-92 WCW stint, so don’t count on anything good here. Sting’s entrance finally gets a big pop out of the crowd. As a sidenote, I have yet to watch a Russian chain/Indian strap/Dog Collar style match that really made me say “Wow, I never realized how good that style of match could be.” This is no exception. (John Cena v. Umaga was terrific, but that was a case of working despite the gimmick, rather than because of it.) The gimmick overwhelms the wrestling, which is basically kicking and punching with the chain, and not very convincingly. Plus, having seen dozens of Sting matches, I can safely say when he’s dogging it, and he’s definitely got it in low gear here. (I’m pretty sure that Flair’s departure had something to do with his bad mood.) You know when WCW is hammering the point of it being a brawl, because there’s always ballshots galore. Four of them in this case. The referee is very lenient with the whole “breaking of momentum” thing, in this case letting them fight extensively in between touching corners. They touch 3, and then Sting Stinger splashes Koloff into the fourth, giving Koloff the win. (That’s exceptionally retarded for a variety of reasons.) Bad matches happen to good wrestlers, I guess. * WCW World title match: Barry Windham v. Lex Luger. At this point, I feel the need to break into a bit of an essay about this match. I think that those who refer to the Bret Hart fiasco as the sleaziest event in modern wrestling history are overlooking this match. This match was not only a lousy match, but Barry Windham was not even a contender to the title at the time. (They were sure trying hard to get Flair to drop it to him before leaving, though.) The promised match had been Ric Flair v. Lex Luger, a match which had literally been building for more than a year, and maybe even for three years depending on your point of view on the matter. It was to be Ric Flair dropping the WCW World title, finally, to Lex Luger, after years of being chased by Luger and screwing him out of the title with every means of cheating known to man. Everyone knew it, in much the same way everyone knew Lex Luger was walking out of Detroit as the champion the night he faced Hulk Hogan for the title. But Flair’s contract was almost up in 1991, and they wanted him to job the title to Lex Luger and ride into the sunset as a manager. Or ride into the sunset as a babyface. Or whatever he wanted, just for less pay. But dropping the title to Luger was absolute. Flair refused, and Jim Herd, instead of reasoning with him and offering him big money to do a single job before going to the WWF or wherever, simply fired Flair outright and took the WCW World title back, leaving Flair still the NWA World champion and thus shattering the lineage of the longest lasting World title in history, beyond repair. (Well…it was a bit more complicated than that, but not in any way that makes either guy look better. After firing Flair, Herd had a change of heart and offered him DOUBLE his original contract to come back, but Flair figured he had the bargaining power and stuck with his plan to jump to the WWF with the belt that didn’t belong to him. Plus Herd didn’t want Flair to “ride into the sunset”, he wanted to cut his hair and change his look because he didn’t see him as a marketable, so he lowballed him on the new contract and basically told him outright that he’d be doing jobs for midcarders.) So what did the fans get for their hard-earned money on PPV? Lex Luger v. Barry Windham for the vacant title, in a match where 99% of the audience knew in advance Luger was going to win, if only because he had to. They made the ridiculous decision to push Windham, who had been wrestling exclusively in tag matches with Arn Anderson for 8 months previous, as the #2 contender to the title and somehow deserving a title shot. (You’d think even Nikita Koloff would have made a better challenger.) As one final slap in the face to the fans, WCW didn’t even have another copy of the World title ready in case someone did what Flair did. They took the old Western States title, slapped a piece of metal over the “Western States” part and wrote “World Champion” or something on it. (That alone propelled this to instantly legendary status.) It was the most self-parodying and bush league move ever seen from a federation that would grow to make an art form out of fucking up. As Luger and Windham made their entrances and the cage was lowered, the fans now suddenly came alive. Not out of excitement for this garbage, but in defiance of the sudden erasing of their champion, by loudly chanting “WE WANT FLAIR!” at every opportunity. It was the most energy shown by the crowd the entire night. Jim Ross and Tony Sciavone doggedly ignored the howls of protest from the fans, but sleep with the dogs and wake up with the fleas, WCW. You brought it upon yourselves. Ask Vince about it. (Although Vince’s act of treachery against Bret Hart made him a billionaire, so really that’s not a good lesson to take, I guess.) Barry and Lex went out and half-assed a match that was half-assed to begin with, in sympathy for Flair, although Luger seems to try harder because we all know he doesn’t give a shit about anyone but himself. The announcers try to build Windham as a babyface, but WE WANT FLAIR! Kind of hard to build him up as a fan favorite when they’re chanting for the biggest heel in the business. The match goes on with no real flow or psychology, and then Harley Race and Mr. Hughes come out as one last way to ruin the whole experience. Race yells at Luger that “now is the time” and Luger suddenly regains all his energy and pins Windham after a single piledriver to win the World title. Luger has now turned heel, for no real reason, after being built as a babyface for months. The fact that Harley Race would involve himself in this speaks volumes. (Yeah, well he also involved himself in that stupid TV special where they revealed the secret of stunt grannies and planted signs, so obviously his moral fiber isn’t what it used to be even by that point.) Luger carries the belt back to the dressing room to continuous chants for Flair with no real enthusiasm. What a joke. What a sad, pathetic joke and the worst possible way to start off the “new era” of WCW, without Flair. By 1993, the fans would be so loudly and passionately screaming for the man they *really* paid to see that WCW would have no choice but to sign him again. WE WANT FLAIR! (At this point we’re kind of over Flair.) Paul E. Dangerously & Arn Anderson v. Missy Hyatt & Rick Steiner. Speaking of sad, pathetic jokes, we’ve got about 3 minutes of airtime left at this point and another cage match to go. Everyone comes out and the Hardliners kidnap Missy Hyatt, thus depriving the fans of seeing her beat up Paul E., which was the whole point of having this crappy mixed match to begin with. (Baltimore regulations forbade man-on-woman violence, so that’s why.) Anderson and Steiner half-ass it for a minute or so, and then Paul E. foolishly tags in, gets clotheslined by Rick, and pinned. And that’s it. End of show. The Bottom Line: It was the worst of times. WCW somehow managed to scrape even more off the bottom of the barrel, sinking lower than 1990’s Black Scorpion fiasco by turfing out their #1 guy and putting on the single worst show in the history of wrestling PPVs. There wasn’t a single redeeming factor about this show, not one match you could point to and say “This is the reason to watch this show.” It was just bad in every possible manner from start to finish. About the best match was the World title one, and when your hottest match tops out around **1/2 it’s time to take a serious look at where your federation is going and who’s running the show. (They did, and apparently Ted Turner had Herd enough.) Do I recommend watching the show? Yes. Without a doubt. Because that way, the next time someone reviews a show by any federation and calls it the worst PPV ever, you can say “Fuck that, I’ve seen WCW Great American Bash 1991” and that should be enough to shut up just about anyone. Later.
[Note: The following is based on the commercial video for Great American Bash 1990: New Revolution. 4 of the minor matches were cut from the tape for time considerations.] The Netcop Retro Rant for Great American Bash 90. – Live from Baltimore, Maryland. – Your hosts are Jim Ross and Bob Caudle. – Opening match, US tag titles: The Midnight Express v. The Southern Boys. The Southern Boys, Steve Armstrong and Tracy Smothers, would become better known as the Young Pistols. They had two principal feuds: This one and with the Freebirds. Guess which one I liked better. I consider this match required viewing for all new wrestling fans. If you’ve never seen the *real* Midnight Express in action (ie, Sweet Stan and Beautiful Bobby) and are wondering why everyone loves them so much, run out and rent this tape. (I’m assuming this is in comparison to the abomination of Bob Holly and Bart Gunn.) This is a jaw-droppingly great match. Just when you thought the Midnights were on the verge of being done for (okay, they were, but go along with me for the sake of argument) they go and pull this thing out of their bag of tricks. This is also the match that turned the ‘Boys from heatless slackjawed yokels into serious title contenders. That’s no mean feat. Midnights have their own built-in fanbase here, getting solid babyface reactions a lot of the time. Cool moment: Stan Lane and Tracy Smothers have a martial arts duel, drawing super heat from the fans. It’s cool shit like that, out of nowhere, in the middle of a match, that set the Midnights apart from everyone else. The sustained heat here is incredible. Smothers plays Ricky Morton, as the Midnights get to show off all their cool stuff. Cornette and Lane bolted to form SMW in November of 1990, so this is basically the swan song for the Midnights and they make it count. Armstrong gets the hot tag and goes nuts, and the ‘Boys hit their finisher with the ref distracted. Chaos ensues: The Midnights hit the Rocket Launcher, just get two. Ref is distracted again, and the ‘Boys do the old switcheroo (in what is usually a sure-fire match ender) and get a two count. Smothers is up and ready to finish Eaton, but the ref is distracted with Armstrong, and Lane nails a bee-yoo-tee-ful savate kick right to the back of Tracy’s head from the apron, and Eaton cradles him for the pin. Magnificent. ****1/2 The crowd is nearly breathless after that one. Cornette called it one of the best Midnight Express matches EVER. (Pretty sure I redid this match somewhere else later, because this seems very breezy compared to how I remember writing it, plus I distinctly recall rating this at ****3/4. Any help, obsessive fans?) – Gordon Solie interviews the Freebirds. I know it’s not politically correct to make fun of effeminate males, but they just looked soooooo faggy in this time period. I mean, really now, mascara and eye shadow? And the sequined outfits? And people thought Goldust was shameless… (Perhaps they were just metrosexual.) – Big Van Vader v. Tom Zenk. Hey, it’s Tom Zenk, how appropriate after that last interview. (Was there a “Tom Zenk is gay” meme going around in 1998?) And don’t blink or you’ll miss Vader killing him in his WCW debut. Steam-spewing helmet and all. Vader didn’t really make any kind of notable impression in WCW until late 1991. Big splash for the pin. * Always good to see Vader in the early years, though. (I should really redo this show.) – Solie interviews the Horsemen. – The Fabulous Freebirds v. The Steiner Brothers. Thank god Zenon is at the bar tonight so I don’t have to listen to him yelling “Yeah, Badstreet USA! Crank it!” when the Freebirds come out. (It’s true, that did happen very often.) The Freebirds are useful in exactly two areas: Selling the Steiners’ offense and pissing off the crowd. They excel at both. Steiners pummel the Birds for 5 or 6 minutes, which is good, but then Jim Garvin gets into the match, which is very very bad. Hot tag, Frankensteiner, but ref is otherwise occupied. Garvin DDTs Scott while Rick belly-to-bellys Hayes, and since the Steiners are the butchest team in the match, Scott gets to pin Garvin for the win. A better Birds match than usual, thanks entirely to the Steiners’ godliness at this point in history. *** (Ugh, this rant is driving me a little crazy.) – Arn Anderson, Barry Windham & Sid Vicious v. Paul Orndorff, Junkfood Dog and El Gigante. The lowpoint of the show. (Orndorff and JYD were hired by Ole Anderson because they would work cheap, and that’s about it.) This is Gigante’s debut, so if you ever invent a time machine and need to know when to send the assassin back to kill him, this is it. (His own body took care of that for us.) Luckily he doesn’t so much as touch anyone in this match. But the Horsemen still cower every time they get near, because he’s 7’7″. Welcome to the internal logic of wrestling, folks. The “Dudes with Attitudes” basically no-sell all of the Horsemen offense while the fans scream for Sid to get in (poor souls), until a melee breaks out and Sid tosses JYD over the top rope for a DQ. *1/2 – Gordon Solie interviews Flexy Lexy. – US title match: Lex Luger v. Mean Mark (w/ Paul E. Dangerously). Before the urns, evil brothers, casket matches, 2 WWF titles, (Only 2? This is definitely written in 98 then.) costume changes, deaths, resurrections and Inferno matches, there was only “Mean” Mark Callous, a two-bit big man who could walk the ropes. WCW considered him unmarketable and dumped him unceremoniously a month after this match, figuring it a futile gesture to bother resigning him. This is the same governing body that thought the Black Scorpion was a good idea. In November of 1990, Vince McMahon made them look like the idiots they were by repackaging Mark Callous and debuting him at the Survivor Series in a gimmick that would literally change the face of wrestling forever. He seems to do that sort of thing a lot, doesn’t he? And thus was the Undertaker born of WCW’s usual collective corporate boneheadedness. As for this match, well, just imagine if Lex Luger and Undertaker fought tomorrow, then imagine them 8 years younger, and you’ve about got it. Punch, kick, armbar here. It’s so weird seeing Mark display actual emotion and move-selling. Given his abilities in both areas, I can say without fear of contradiction that the Undertaker is the perfect character for him to play. Luger with 3 clotheslines and the Rack, but the ref gets bumped and Paul E. whacks Luger with the phone and revives the ref. Only a two count, then Luger pops up, nails both Mark and Paul E. with rights, then clotheslines Mean Mark and gets the pin (?). *1/2 Kind of an anti-climactic move to get the win with, no? A good looking clothesline from Luger for once, though… – Solie interviews Sting. – NWA World tag team title: Doom v. The Rock N Roll Express. How deeply fitting that the last gasp of greatness for the Midnight Express should come on the same card as the last gasp of greatness for their eternal rivals, the Rock N Roll Express. Shakespeare himself couldn’t have written more perfectly suitable irony. (That’s not really iro…whatever.) Robert Gibson banged up his knee shortly after this match and the team degenerated into what you see stinking up WWF Shotgun on the weekends. By Bash 91, Morton and Gibson were fighting each other. This, by contrast, is an excellent way to end the Rock N Roll legacy in the NWA, as they symbolically allow Doom to step into the “legend” area. Reed & Simmons had become incredibly improved as a team at this point, in stark contrast to the lumbering dolts who debuted under masks at Havoc 89. Doom controls this one, with Ricky Morton playing…uh…well…Ricky Morton. Doom beats on him like he’s their bitch. The Baltimore crowd is almost ECW-ish, completely turning on the Rock N Rolls as Doom gets more and more offense in. Morton does get several near falls in, keeping the pace up. A Reed chinlock slows it down a bit. Here’s why the top rope rule used to be a good idea: The heels would toss the face over the top with the ref distracted, and the face would sell it like he’d been shot. That’s good, old-school wrestling tactics. The fans would eat it up, too, and they do just that here. Reed misses a splash and Morton hot-tags Gibson. Katie, bar the door, it’s a pier-six brawl! Hey, Gordon Solie is in the building, how can I *not* use his cliches? (Obviously this is pre-BONZO GONZO for me.) Chaos ensues, of course, and Reed hits Gibson with a shoulderblock off the top as Gibson is beating up poor Teddy Long. Doom retains. Great match! **** – Solie interviews the runner-up in People’s Online Beautiful People poll. (Oh yeah, I remember that! RSPW ran a ballot-stuffing write-in campaign for Ric Flair and almost got him elected Beautiful Person of the Year or something.) – NWA World Title match: Ric Flair v. Sting. You know the setup, right? Sting is invited to join the Horsemen in 89 so Flair and his cronies can leech the youth factor from him, but Sting is STUPID enough to actually challenge Flair for the title *and* trust him not to retaliate. What a maroon. The Horsemen turn on him like ugly on Dionne Warwick and destroy his knee, putting him on the shelf for months and turning Lex Luger into a babyface again in the process. This is the blowoff match. And how overbooked can you get? No DQ, no countout, The Dudes with Attitudes are around the ring to keep the Horsemen out, AND Ole Anderson is handcuffed to El Gigante. They must have gotten Flair drunk before he agreed to sign *that* lop-sided a deal. I miss Sting. The real Sting, not the bum who’s been sitting in the rafters and letting his muscles atrophy for months on end. (Must have been written in 97 then. This REALLY needs a redo if that’s the case!) This was *supposed* to be the match where Sting was introduced to the world and Flair faded into the sunset. He would of course go on to win 7 more World titles after this. (And then a few more after I wrote THAT.) Ring psychology: The Horsemen killed Sting’s knee, and even the marks remembered it, so when kicks him there, they all gasp in fear. This is like the Reader’s Digest Condensed Version of the Flair-Sting series. Flair works on the knee and goes “Whoo” a lot. Sting comeback, but Flair destroys the knee and builds to the figure-four. Crowd is oddly quiet even for the Sting offensive portions. Sting comeback, and he seems unsure of what the script is. Kinda weird little segment, actually. Anyway, he gets his shit together and gives Flair the Stinger splash, which is always a good start, and puts him in the Scorpion deathlock. Flair escapes as the Horsemen and Dudes with Attitudes brawl on the rampway. Crowd can sense the ending is near and start to buzz. Token wrestling sequence (bridge, backslide, you know the routine) leads to Stinger splash #2, but Flair moves and Sting crashes into the turnbuckle…knee first. The crowd gasps like Flair is the villain in a movie serial and Sting is Penelope. Flair (Nyah-hah-hahhaha…all he needs is a moustache to twirl) goes for the figure-four, but Our Hero does the done-to-death inside cradle to reverse it, and gains his first World title in the process. And the crowd goes BALLISTIC. Wow, they were really saving that sucker up. *** For a really outstanding Flair-Sting match, see the first Clash of Champions in 1988, or Clash 27 in 1994 where they unify the two World titles. The Bottom Line: Cartoonish main event aside, this was a terrific effort on WCW’s part to kickstart the Sting title reign. So what the fuck happened? (Ole Anderson.) WCW went completely into the tank between this show and the debut of the Dangerous Alliance in late 1991. (Ole Anderson.) Still, a commendable effort all around for this one. Highly recommended. (Youtube the Midnights match, skip the rest.)
The SmarK Retro Re-Rant for WCW Great American Bash 89 – This is yet another one of those rants from 1996 that I was never entirely happy with, so here’s a redone version, now with proper play-by-play and match times. Most of my comments and feelings on the show still stand, though, so don’t expect much in the way of new insight here. This is being done from the Turner video, not the live PPV version, so it’s been hacked down to 125 minutes, albeit in expert form by the Turner video guys. (The thing that really pissed me off the most about losing WWE 24/7 was that they showed the full PPV version of this show something like the WEEK after it was dropped by Sasktel.) – Live from Baltimore, Maryland. – Your hosts are Jim Ross & Bob Caudle. – Opening match: “King of the Hill” double ring battle royale finals. Kinda like the Bunkhouse Stampede of years past, the NWA held a series of battle royales, with 20 of the winners competing here in the finals for a bunch of money. Whee. When you’re eliminated from the first ring, you go to the second ring and another battle royale ensues for the losers. Winner of A v. Winner of B for the money. Our contestants this evening: Mike Rotundo, Kevin Sullivan, Ranger Ross, Eddie Gilbert, Steve Williams, Terry Gordy, Rick Steiner, Scott Steiner, Sid Vicious and Dan Spivey. Meandering brawl to start. Ranger goes first, and thus moves to the other ring. (No truth to the rumor that he tried to burn down the first ring to conceal the evidence of his elimination.) Ron Simmons (with a huge Foley-ish ass going on there) gets tossed, and moves to the other side to pummel Ross. However, he misses a charge and goes out. Man, eliminated by Ranger Ross AND forced to wear a gladiator outfit in 1996. Could Ron’s career suck any more? Scott Hall (with well-conditioned blond hair and a porn star moustache) and Terry Gordy move to the other ring, taking Bill Irwin with them. We’re clipped closer to the end, as Sid runs the table in Ring A until it’s down to him and Brian Pillman. Insert obvious squeegee joke here. (I SAID, did you go find your SCISSORS?) In Ring B, it’s down to Dan Spivey, Steve Williams and Mike Rotundo. Williams & Rotundo slug it out until a botched spot sees Captain Mike going over the top, and Spivey disposes of Doc shortly thereafter, at 8:28 shown. So of course, to completely negate the point of the thing, Sid Vicious wins ring A and Dan Spivey wins ring B and they agree to split the money rather than fight. Damn that SD Jones for setting that precedent in the 80s. An interesting opener with a cheap ending. I don’t rate battle royales. – Wild Bill Irwin v. Brian Pillman. JIP as Brian gets tossed. This is pretty much right after Brian’s debut in the NWA. Back in, Irwin chokes away, but crotches himself on a charge. Pillman comes back with a pair of dropkicks and a lariat. Splash gets two. He goes up, but misses a dropkick. Irwin pounds on him and hits a gutwrench for two. He dumps Pillman right into the other ring, but Brian outsmarts him by hitting a bodypress from that ring back into the original ring for the pin at 2:42 shown. Good enough. *1/2 – The Skyscrapers v. The Dynamic Dudes. Here’s a kicker for ya: The Skyscrapers had the love and respect of the smark fans in the audience here, and those fans hated later smark darlings Shane Douglas & Johnny Ace. (Ho ho, I wouldn’t call Johnny Ace a “smark darling” any longer, 2002 Scott.) When Sid is in they cheer, and when Sid isn’t in they chant “We want Sid!”. That, my friends, is why Sid got pushed as much as he did despite sucking: Because the NWA *listened* to what the fans wanted to see. Not just company line like the WWF spews, but they actually paid attention and got rid of what didn’t work instead of pushing it down people’s throats. We’ll pretend that the Dynamic Dudes didn’t exist for the sake of argument here. The same argument applies somewhat to Hogan today, but in this case the argument generally isn’t “Hogan shouldn’t be on TV”, it’s “Hogan shouldn’t be booked in serious angles as World champion and put into a position to carry the company”. JIP as Sid works Shane’s back over as only he can by applying a clawhold to the back. What’s he trying to do, massage him to death? Sid tags out and the crowd boos. Spivey slams Shane as the “We Want Sid” chants start. Spivey misses a flying headbutt as the world over asks “What the fuck was he trying that for?” Hot tag Johnny, but even the awesome power of the rampaging babyface isn’t enough to do any damage. Man, that’s just cold. A flying clothesline gets two, but Sid calmly dismantles both guys to the delight of the jaded crowd. The Skyscrapers clothesline each other in a very contrived spot, but Sid doesn’t sell, then stops to nail Johnny again before Spivey puts the poor guy out of his misery with a powerbomb at 3:11 shown. See, now THAT was a squash. ½* (I’m sure Johnny got his revenge by wishing Sid well in his future endeavours at some point in the future after this.) – Everything from this point on is complete on this tape. – Tuxedo Match: Jim Cornette v. Paul E. Dangerously. Of course, today everyone is VERY familiar with the Cornette/Heyman two-sided snipefest that seems to result every time one of them mentions the other, but back then they were just a pair of managers feuding with each other in storyline terms. The relationship only went downhill from there. (I’d say Heyman won that feud overall, since he’s still employed by WWE and Cornette has basically burned all his remaining bridges.) In storyline terms, it’s the final match in the Midnight Express feud, as both of Dangerously’s Express pretenders had been bounced from the NWA by Cornette’s team until this was all that remained. Cornette pops Dangerously in the mouth, but Paul uses powder to take over. Dangerously slugs away and Cornette bails, so Paul injects a little psychology into things by pounding on Cornette’s infamous injured knee. Cornette gets posted, but crawls in. Both guys are selling like nuts. Paul gives him some shocking stiff shots for a comedy match, but misses an elbow. JR’s comment about how Paul was “watching the mat the whole time, but still missed” is one of the funniest lines he gets here. Cornette hulks up, however, and lays in his own stiff shots. Bob Caudle seems exceptionally excited to see male nudity. Paul’s shirt gets torn off, but they collide for a double KO. Sneaky Paul E goes for more powder, but irony rears her ugly head as Cornette kicks it back in his face and yanks his pants off for the win at 3:54. Among manager v. manager comedy gimmick matches, this was certainly near the top of the heap. I don’t rate tuxedo matches, though. – Texas Tornado match: Rick & Scott Steiner v. The Varsity Club. Notable for three reasons: 1) It’s the final blowoff for the whole Varsity Club feud, end of the line, fini, everyone lives happily ever after; 2) It’s the PPV debut of Scott Steiner and the debut of the Steiner Brothers, period; 3) It’s the first appearance on PPV of the Kevin Sullivan style ECW-ish brawl that he would book into the ground over the next 9 years. (This was set up, for those curious, by Rick winning the TV title from Rotundo at Starrcade 88, and then dropping it back to him at Chi-Town Rumble due to his own crushing stupidity, namely letting himself get pinned while applying a sleeper hold. He brought in his brother for the final showdown.) Big brawl to start, and it never lets up. Rick & Kevin head outside for some mindless violence and pound each other with chairs, but Rick gets crotched on the railing. It’s like Kevin Sullivan’s signature or something to have one of the guys crotching themselves on the railing. In the ring, Rotundo and Scott do some wrestling, while Rick hits Kevin with a nearby table. I mean, he literally picks the whole thing up and uses it like a weapon as if this were an N64 WWF game or something. So Kevin uses the stairs while Scott hammers Rotundo and gets a hiptoss. The Varsity Club double-teams Rick with lariats, but Rick suplexes Sullivan. Scott puts Rotundo in the Tree of Woe while Rick powerslams Sullivan. Rotundo escapes and suplexes Scott, and Sullivan & Rick take the opportunity to brawl out again. Rick loses that battle, allowing the Varsity Club to double-team Scott and try stereo pinfalls. Rick then blocks a sunset flip by headbutting Kevin Sullivan in the groin about 18 times. No wonder Nancy left him for Benoit. (Now we all wish she hadn’t, of course.) Scott cradles Rotundo for two. Another double-team on Scott, and Sullivan grabs a STRETCHER for use as a weapon. Scott tosses Rotundo and when Sullivan tries to slam Rick, the Steiners dog-pile him for the pin at 4:44. Literally all action, bell-to-bell. ***1/4 – World TV title match: Sting v. The Great Muta. Sting is mighty mighty over here, and Muta is no slouch himself. How they managed to develop two overnight sensations like these guys, build them to main event level, and then destroy both of them by the end of 1990 boggles my mind to this day. Sting dives over the ring to attack a stalling Muta to start, and they head back to the intended ring, where Muta hits a precise chop off the top and pounds him. Handspring elbow and backbreaker set up the moonsault, which misses. He lands on his feet, however, and readjusts with an enzuigiri that puts Sting on the floor. Muta follows with a pescado. Back in, Sting clotheslines him and heads up for another one. It gets two. Dropkick and Muta bails, and they brawl. Back in, Sting gains control and gets a plain old slam for two. Muta reverses a suplex into the sleeper. Jim Ross is truly in his glory here playing up the “All American Boy v. Evil Japanese Monster” angle. If he had better material to work with these days, he might not be such a parody of himself. Sting makes the ropes and gets a press-slam. Elbow misses, so Muta hits the Power Elbow (still the best elbowdrop I’ve ever seen) and hits the chinlock. He takes it to an abdominal stretch, and into that cradle that Hogan is so fond of these days. I am proud to note that he both remembers to hook the left leg (as Gorilla Monsoon would have pointed out) AND use the ropes for leverage (as Jesse Venura would have pointed out). He tosses Sting, but Sting has had enough of Muta’s shenanigans and pops right back in. Muta casually pokes him in the eyes to end that bit of jingoism. He starts throwing the low kicks in the corner, but the Handspring misses. Sting comes back with a bulldog and JR is about 3 seconds removed from waving the American flag and signing the Star Spangled Banner in Sting’s honor. That’s not a knock on him — Evil Foreigner angles will always have a place in wrestling when done properly. Standing dropkick sends Muta out, but they mistime the tope spot. Back in, the dreaded RED MIST OF DEATH is unleashed, but the ref gets it and he’s blind! So how do you tell the difference? Stinger splash misses, and Muta gets this awesome cocky look on his face as a result, before hitting a beautiful moonsault as Tommy Young runs in to count two. JR, the entire audience and (originally) myself all thought that was the finish. (Should have been.) Muta gets frustrated and throws a high kick that misses by a mile, allowing Sting to get a backdrop suplex for the pin at 8:06. However, video replay would reveal one or more shoulders being lifted at two, leaving the title vacant for months, until Muta won the rematch. This was total state-of-the-art high-impact speed/power wrestling at the time, and remains really peachy keen today. **** – US title match: Lex Luger v. Ricky Steamboat. The storyline here is that everyone in the NWA and the audience wants this to be a no-DQ match, except of course for Lex Luger. He protests on general principles, and finally Steamboat caves and drops the stipulation. Even a monster heel turn couldn’t dent Luger’s popularity, as he gets one of the biggest superhero pops of the night. Lex overpowers him to start, but gets cradled for one. Small package gets two. Cradle gets two. Two dropkicks and Ricky starts chopping like a motherfucker. Man, I remember the days before Luger’s scrotum fell off. He wisely bails before his chest starts swelling up. They brawl and Steamboat is like “You think those were bad? Take THIS and THIS and THAT!” and just unloads monster chops that are like 1.2 Benoit. He gets an atomic drop, too, but being that he’s a total idiot he lets Luger get into the ring first and walks right into a kneelift coming back in. They head out and Luger beats him to a pulp, but Steamboat pulls out the chops again. Back in, Steamboat goes up, but gets caught. Backbreaker follows and Luger goes for that general area. Press slam pops the crowd. Elbow to the back gets two. Then a really cool spot, as Luger protests the speed of the count, and specifically instructs Tommy Young to count “123” instead of “1..2..3” next time. So of course Steamboat cradles him and Tommy gets off an ultra-fast two count. Little details like that are missing nowadays. JR & Caudle don’t even pound the joke into the ground like Michael Cole would today it’s just a subtle little thing that’s put there for people who are paying attention. Steamboat is about to make a comeback, so Luger just MURDERS him with three clotheslines, allowing Steamboat to do his most dramatic punch-drunk oversell. (In retrospect, Luger as Super-heel and Steamboat the overselling babyface is a brilliant combo and I don’t know why they didn’t run it into the ground, because it was pretty awesome.) Luger hotshots him, but Steamboat goes back to the chops again. A cheapshot ends that, and Luger gets a powerslam for two. Steamboat tries again with a bodyblock for two, but Lex atomic drops him. However, he puts his head down and falls prey to a neckbreaker. Luger, now frustrated, charges and goes over the top, and Steamboat won’t let him back in, smartly fighting from a distance and forcing Luger to expend energy while trying to make it into the ring again. See, it’s the DETAILS. Steamboat tries a slam back in, but Luger reverses for two. Steamboat charges and misses and Luger goes up, but gets slammed off. Steamboat goes for the kill with more chops, and gets the flying karate chop to set up the finish. However, Luger backdrops him into the other ring and we move there. Luger fetches a chair, obviously trying for the DQ, but Steamboat catapults him into it, which Tommy Young appears ready to ignore. However, Steamboat snaps and starts pounding him with the chair, and Tommy can’t ignore THAT and gives Luger his DQ at 10:26. Steamboat makes sure to get his money’s worth, though. See what happens when a match is smartly laid out and both guys are unselfish enough to sell the shit out of each others’ offense? You only help yourself by taking the chops like a MAN and not trying to hog every bit of offense for yourself. This was probably Luger’s best singles match outside of Flair, bar none. ****1/2 – WarGames: Michael Hayes, Jimmy Garvin, Terry Gordy, Samu & Fatu v. Stan Lane, Bobby Eaton, Steve Williams, Hawk & Animal. This was, for all intents and purposes, only the second year for WarGames, as the 1988 version was never shown anywhere that I’m aware of. (It ended up on a WWE DVD!) Garvin starts with Eaton as the first two victims. They slug it out, which Eaton of course wins. He gets a neckbreaker, but Garvin slugs back. Eaton gets an atomic drop, but runs into a foot. Eaton tastes the cold steel of cage (which, as JR would note some 12 years later, does not taste like chocolate), and gets choked. He slugs back, but gets forearmed by Garvin. Hayes lays on the badmouth for good measure, as a running gag develops on the outside with Dangerously promising to the camera every chance he gets that Hayes will be the next one in the match. Eaton comes back with a pair of backbreakers that set up a Boston crab, but Gordy (and not Hayes, as promised) is the next in. Dangerously assures the camera that Hayes is coming right up. Things go badly for Bobby in the 2:00 2-on-1 segment, as they send him to the cage repeatedly. Dr. Death is next in for the babyfaces to make the save, and it’s MIRACLE VIOLENCE time. He goes for Gordy and presses him into the ceiling of the cage an insane EIGHT times. Garvin chokes Eaton as the heels regain the momentum. Williams sends Gordy to the cage, and Samu is in next. But don’t worry, Hayes is coming right away. Yup. They target the good Doctor and Gordy gives him a backdrop suplex while Garvin handles Eaton. Doc keeps coming back, but Gordy & Samu double-team him. Animal comes in to even the odds again, and he whomps righteous ass on everyone. Big boot for Samu, and when he retreats to the other ring to escape, Animal follows with a shoulderblock over the ropes. The faces clothesline anything that moves until Fatu makes it 4-on-3 again. The SST work Animal over with lots of headbutts. Gordy chokes out Doc to keep him occupied. Stan Lane is next, and various heels taste the unforgiving steel. Doc & Animal just clothesline the shit out of the SST while the Express handle Garvin. Hayes is finally in last for the heels (“I gotta go in?” he asks Dangerously. “There’s no one left!” Paul replies. “Damn.” ) , and he starts DDTing everyone. He celebrates with some strutting. Things look bleak for our heroes as the heels pound away, but Hawk enters to begin the Match Beyond. Bodies are flying everywhere and now Eaton returns the DDT receipt to all the heels, and everyone moves to one side and slugs it out. The LOD try a Doomsday Device on Gordy, but Garvin breaks it up. However, he’s actually walked into a trap, as Hawk kills him with a lariat, gives him a bunch of neckbreakers, and then puts him in the Hangman for the submission at 22:22. That was, to coin a phrase, a true slobberknocker. **** Just for fun, the heels wait until everyone but Animal has left, and then jump him for the huge post-match massacre. Hey, they’re the bad guys, you expect sportsmanship? – NWA World title: Ric Flair v. Terry Funk. The storyline is simple: Flair regained the title at WrestleWar, and jealous ringside judge Funk decided to come out of retirement and make a grandstand challenge on the spot. Flair rightly turned him down, so Funk threw a tantrum and piledrove Flair through the ringside table, breaking his neck. And now Flair’s back and he wants sweet, sweet revenge. Flair wastes no time, attacking on the floor, and Funk wants none of that action. Flair chases and pounds away, so Funk runs for cover again. Into the ring, Funk chops away, but Flair returns fire with cherries on top. Funk takes a powder again, so they brawl outside. Flair gets posted, and Funk pounds him. Back in, a suplex gets two. He starts targeting the neck, so Flair takes a breather of his own. When he gets to the apron, they fight over a suplex, and both guys tumble to the floor. Chops are exchanged, and then eyepokes. Back in, Funk goes for his first try at a piledriver, but Flair reverses. More brawling and now Flair works the neck. Back in, he drops the knee on it, twice, for two. A pair of piledrivers and Funk is dead. Finished. Kaput. Done. DOA. However, he has enough left to bail and make a run for it. Flair heads him off and they slug it out, which Flair wins back in the ring and gets two. Backdrop suplex sets up the figure-four, but Funk is smart enough to grab the branding iron and tattoo Flair with it to break the hold. Flair starts bleeding as a result, and now Funk chooses that moment to hit the long-awaited piledriver. It only gets two, so Funk rips up the mats on the floor. Flair reverses that piledriver attempt, but Funk gets three neckbreakers back in the ring. Flair gets that branding iron for himself, however, and soon both guys are bleeding. They brawl out and in, and Flair hammers away on the cut. He misses a charge and hurts his knee, so Terry goes for the spinning toehold. Ric grabs his free leg and trips him up to set up the figure-four, but Terry reverses to an inside cradle for two, which Flair reverses again for the pin at 16:20. The psychology was a little goofy, but the brawl was super-intense and had tons of blood. ****1/4 Muta & Funk then do the classic beatdown of Flair that leads to Flair & Sting v. Funk & Muta at the first Halloween Havoc. The Bottom Line: Untouched by the ravages of time and sports entertainment bullshit, this show remains the pinnacle of the early NWA PPV era and the single greatest wrestling PPV ever produced. The matches, while slightly shorter than usual, have absolutely no wasted space in them and almost zero resting, as everyone turned it up about 150 notches for this show and put on a blowaway effort in every sense of the word. But is Wrestlemania X-7 a better show? Well, comparing the top matches. – Rock/Austin v. Flair/Funk Better storyline for Bash, better match for WM. Give the edge to the WWF here. – TLC3 v. WarGames – Better gimmick for the Bash, more eye-popping spotfest for WM. Since the styles are so drastically different, call it a push. – HHH/Undertaker v. Steamboat/Luger No contest here, I think, comparing power v. technique matches. Luger could MOVE back in the day, whereas UT has been in slow motion since he returned in 2000. Definite edge to the Bash here. – Sting/Muta v. Benoit/Angle. Too close to call. Both featuring state-of-the-art stuff and hot new workers. However, Sting/Muta had an actual backstory and buildup, whereas Benoit/Angle was just thrown together the week before the show, so I’m gonna give the edge to the Bash again. So the final tally: 2-1-1 for the Great American Bash, winner and STILL PPV champion for the foreseeable future. And in case you haven’t figured it out, HIGHEST recommendation. Ever. (I can see why this one might not be as beloved by those who didn’t live through the time period, but much like comic books, the golden age of wrestling is defined by the person, not the era.)
The Netcop Retro Rant for Great American Bash 88. – This is for two reasons: One, for the winner of the 50,000th hit contest a couple of weeks ago on Rantsylvania (soon to have it’s own domain name and professional design) and second for someone who won’t stop NAGGING me about it. You know who you are. (I no longer know who that was.) – Live from Baltimore, MD. – Your hosts are Tony Schiavone and Jim Ross. – Opening match: NWA World tag title match: Tully Blanchard & Arn Anderson v. Sting & Nikita Koloff. Big brawl to start. There’s no real story here — Sting needed something to do while Lex took his turn on top of the card, so he got stuck fighting for the tag titles with Koloff, who was the opposite of resurgent, whatever that is. (Cody Rhodes.) Sting gets a couple of quick two counts before Arn runs away. Koloff had a full head of hair at this point, by the way, which looks…creepy. Move #393 (ARM-bar) comes into liberal use from Koloff, boring the crowd. The faces manage to double-team Tully while the ref argues the legality of tagging your partner’s foot with Arn. Suddenly, the THE (Turner Home Entertainment) guys do a Sid-worthy scissor job on the match, (I SAID, did you FORGET your SCISSORS?) clipping to the finish as Sting gets the hot tag and destroys everything that moves. Sleeper on AA leads to a messed-up sequence with Tully, which leads in turn to a Stinger splash and deathlock. Crowd thinks it’s a submission, but it turns out to be a time-limit draw, of which we saw 10:27. That would turn out to be popular booking for the evening. I don’t know which was worse — the effort of the workers or the editing job. Match looked to be about *1/2 (It was better than that, but we’ll get to the full version later.) – US tag team title: The Fantastics v. The Midnight Express. The Fantastics won the titles on a **** TV match a few weeks prior to this, and prior to that they did a ****3/4 MOTYC on the first Clash that nearly blew the roof off the place. For this one, OverBook-A-Mania is running wild, as Jim Cornette is first placed in a straitjacket, then locked in a steel cage, and if the Midnights don’t win he gets lashed 10 times with a belt. So nice to see Cornette being given the book from time to time, isn’t it? Funny bit as Cornette tries to bribe the officials on the way to cage (“WOULD YOU TAKE $15,000?!?”) but no dice. The pre-match nonsense eats up about 10 minutes, however, which is ridiculous considering that the 20-minute match is clipped down to 2:16. Obviously they were still learning how to edit a PPV tape at this point. I’ve seen the full match, and it’s tres disappointing, about **. (WHAT?! No way, 1998 Scott.) The ending is the ref getting wiped out and Eaton pulling out a chain and nailing Rogers with it for the pin to regain the US tag titles. Cornette still gets whipped in the end, of course, so everyone ends up happy. – The Tower of Doom: The Road Warriors, Jim Garvin, Ron Garvin & Steve Williams v. Kevin Sullivan, Al Perez, the Russian Assassin, Ivan Koloff & Mike Rotunda. Okay, unless you’re a big WCCW fan you’ve probably never heard of this one before. Here’s the deal: There’s three cages stacked on top of each other, shrinking in size on the way up. The smallest cage is literally up in the lights. The object is to have all five team members proceed from the top cage, down to the bottom cage and out via the door, which is controlled by Garvin’s wife and/or Sullivan’s evil love-slave, Precious. The issue at the time was whether Sullivan had brainwashed Precious, see. (Obviously the Flair-Garvin feud from the year before was a much better use of Precious.) Every two minutes, a trapdoor opens in the bottom of the top two cages, allowing people in them to move down within a 15-second window. At the same time, a door in the small cage at the top opens, allowing a new member from each team to enter the match. The gimmick itself was horribly complex and impossible to follow and book good matches around, so this is the only appearance. (Sadly, Russo would bring it back in 2000, because RUSSO) The Tower of Doom match (called the Triple Dome of Terror at the time) first took place in World Class a few months prior, with longtime partners Terry Gordy and Michael Hayes fighting for the first time. Anyway, on with the match. We start with Ron Garvin & Ivan Koloff in the top cage, and they slug it out for a while, although the light standards are blocking the view so no one can tell what’s going on. And the cage is like 4 feet by 4 feet so there’s no room to do much. After 2:00, Garvin drops into the next cage, while Koloff is trapped above and Williams and Rotunda enter the match. Williams handles both easily, and when the next 2:00 is up, Garvin drops into the bottom cage, and then leaves the ring to be the first man out for his team. Hope that clears up the rules a bit. Doc and Ivan go into the second level, meanwhile, leaving Rotunda at the top level as Al Perez and Animal join the match. Doc wipes the cage with Koloff for 2 minutes, until the trapdoors open again and Perez & Animal move down to join Doc and Koloff in the second level. The top cage opens to admit Hawk and the Russian Assassin. Hawk holds off both Rotunda and Assassin. It’s all a giant brawl. Next period: Perez & Animal make it into the bottom cage and both leave. The second level has Williams & Hawk v. the Russians. Up top, team captains Jimmy Garvin and Kevin Sullivan have entered the match, and poor Rotunda is still up there in the top cage with them. Next period: Rotunda finally gets to drop down to the second level, while Hawk and the Russians all make it to the bottom and out. We’re down to four guys: Garvin & Sullivan in the top cage, and Rotunda & Williams in the second cage. Next period: Williams takes out Rotunda and escapes the cage, leaving Garvin 1-on-2 against the Varsity Club. Next period: Rotunda makes his escape, leaving the blowoff match: Garvin v. Sullivan. Garvin works on Sullivan’s leg while in the second level to keep him from making it to the trap door. Next period: The strategy doesn’t work, as both are able to make it to the bottom level, and it’s first man out to to win. Garvin takes out Sullivan with the brainbuster (now THERE’S a perfectly good finisher just waiting for a new user) and tries for the door, but Sullivan dives for it, accidentally knocking Garvin to the floor for the babyface win. But that leaves Sullivan alone in the cage with Precious, and he proceeds to basically kick the shit out of her. I’ve always wondered why Kevin didn’t get a booking job for the WWF — he’d be PERFECT. (Insert your own comment here.) The faces have to go all the way through the cage maze again to make the rescue, but when Hawk drops down and clotheslines Sullivan on the way down, the pop is HUGE. The match was…um…interesting, although if you think I can possibly rate it you’re nuts. – For some reason, they decided to stick a “bonus” match on a tape that was already hacked more than a WrestleLine article in order to make 125 minutes. – World TV title match: Mike Rotunda v. Sting. Taped from a house show a week or so prior, this is a completely paint-by-numbers Sting match, as Rotundo controls with his boring offense, Sting makes a quick comeback, and Rick Steiner runs in for the usual DQ at 8:15. Why even bother? * – US title match: Barry Windham v. Dusty Rhodes. The story: Dusty was US champion, but he got into a big brawl with the Horsemen that ended with him going ballistic on the puppet president of the NWA at the time (I forget whether it was Geigel or Crockett at the time — he also did the same angle in Florida and it gets hard to keep track) with a baseball bat. He was suspended and stripped of the US title (Dusty? JOB? Heaven forefend). And of course, the next week Windham started getting dogged by the most mysterious of all mystery men…the Midnight Rider! If anyone knows who that enigmatic guy was, let me know, because I’m stumped. (Mr. America was slightly more mysterious, I’d say.) Finally, the suspension ended, but not before Windham had won a tournament for the US title, going over Nikita Koloff in the finals. So we got this match. This was the peak of Barry’s skills and luckily it coincided with the peak of his credibility as a wrestler, 1993 notwithstanding. Barry bumps his ass off for Dusty to begin, as Dusty even manages a press-slam and DDT…then heads to the top?!? LUCHA DUSTY! AMERICANA LA VACA! Dusty pulls out the cross-body from the top that he hadn’t used since 1979 (when he used it to pin Harley Race for the NWA World title) but it only gets two. Man, you gotta admire Barry for taking the weight of a 600 pound man from the top rope and then kicking out. HE’S A MAN’S MAN! Windham bails, but Dusty pummels him when he returns. They fight outside and Dusty opens a bigger can of whoop-ass. Barry gets a cheap shot to temporarily take control, but when he tries to slingshot Dusty in, it backfires and Barry goes flying to the floor. Why? Because Dusty is JUST TOO FAT. Nice bump from Barry, though. Back in the ring, JJ runs interference, allowing Windham a knee to the back and the most dreaded of all finishers…the CLAWHOLD! Nothing will put a man out faster than massaging his temples while wearing a black glove, you know. Dusty spends about 5 minutes fighting out, but gets nowhere. He even walks the ropes to escape, but Barry is tall enough to hang on. Good psychology there. Dusty finally elbows out and goes for the figure-four, but when he bends over Barry slaps the claw back on. That’s VERY good psychology. (Gotta love that clawhold.) Dusty goes back to the ropes, and this time makes it far enough up to break the hold. Ref gets bumped as Dusty comes down, however (a Dusty finish in a Dusty match? WHAT ARE THE ODDS????) and Dusty slams Windham off the top and hits the BIG FAT ELBOW OF DEATH. Ron Garvin runs in to wake up the ref…then it’s KAPOW! and Dusty is down for the count after a grade-A heel turn. Crowd is absolutely in shock as Windham slaps on the claw again and Tommy Young counts three. As a young mark, my jaw nearly dropped when I heard Garvin turned on Dusty. Windham carried the whole match. *** (No way this was ***. I gave it a more sane rating later on.) – Backstage, Garvin accepts a big briefcase full of money from Gary Hart and JJ Dillon. – Main event, NWA World title: Ric Flair v. Lex Luger. This would be the NWA’s first real money match in the PPV era. Of course they screwed it up. The story: Luger is the young apprentice of the aging Four Horsemen, but decides that they’re holding him back, especially what with JJ Dillon wanting him to lay down in battle royales so Dillon can win. Luger is out, Windham is in, and now Luger is pissed and starts taking out the Horsemen one-by-one, leading up to Flair. The Horsemen systematically attack Luger every chance they get, including a memorable parking lot beating the week before this show. Luger totally overpowers Flair to start and tosses him around. The usual from Flair as he bails and argues with the front row, then gets into a shoving match with Tommy Young. Flair offers a test of strength, something which I don’t think he ever tried again after what happened. Luger has his way some more and goes for the bearhug, getting a two count off it until Flair makes the ropes. Luger casually suplexes him back in, but misses the leaping elbow. It’s not like he sells it or anything, though. Flair gets a cheap shot outside the ring to take control, but Luger keeps fighting him off, as if merely inconvenienced. Luger goes for the kill but misses a dropkick and Flair goes right for the knee. Figure-four gets put on the wrong leg as usual. Luger powers out and comes back, but the knee caves in on him very quickly. He shakes it off and hulks up, however. Luger gets a backslide for two, then a really bad looking spot ensues as they both go over the top rope after about 3 tries at it. Flair and Dillon take turns ramming Luger into the post, finally busting him open….cue ominous music. Back in the ring, and Luger decides to just dispose of Flair once and for all, powerslamming him and locking in the rack for the easy submission and his first World title…ah, no. See, Baltimore was on this big anti-blood kick at the time, so in order to run it into their face the NWA booked a goofy ending whereby Luger would get busted open and the State Athetlic commission would stop the match and award it to Flair. The end comes at 23:13 and when the crowd hears the announcement they are, to say the least, none too thrilled. I’ve cut myself open bigger than that shaving, I don’t blame them. A pretty weak Luger-Flair match here, but they’d have better ones in years to come. ***1/2 The Bottom Line: This card holds nostalgia value for a lot of people, but the wrestling is easily topped elsewhere. The first Clash completely blows it out of the water for instance. There’s tons of better Luger-Flair matches out there, not to mention WAY better stuff with Tully & Arn, the Midnights and the Fantastics. Sting is wasted here, as are most of the guys in the Tower of Doom match. If you’ve never seen the practically-legendary Luger-Flair screwjob finish or are interested in the goofy gimmick match in the Tower of Doom, I’d recommend this one, but otherwise stick with pre-88 or post-89. The SmarK 24/7 Rant for NWA Great American Bash 88: The Price For Freedom! – Technically this isn’t playing on 24/7 anymore, but I recorded it for when I’d actually have time to do it, which is now. – OK, so story time. The original rant was written in what must have been 1998, because it was shortly before the dot-com transformation of Rantsylvania. The original rant came from the Turner Home Entertainment version of the how, which was edited down to two hours and was also the first tape I ever bought from someone on RSPW way back when. Many more would follow, although these days you crazy kids with your file sharing and YouTube just trade links. Anyway, this being 24/7, they show the much more awesome full PPV versions, which is why I slavishly devote my life to recapping their content. On with the show. – Live from Baltimore, MD – Your hosts are Jim Ross & Tony Schiavone NWA World tag titles: Tully Blanchard & Arn Anderson v. Sting & Nikita Koloff Good lord, they actually overdubbed Sting’s generic 80s music with “The Man Called Sting”. That’s beyond awful. Big brawl to start and Sting quickly cradles Tully for two out of that. Arn bails and Sting follows him with a tope con hilo, and back in Arn comes off the top and gets caught. Sting puts him in an armbar and Koloff trades off on that, but Arn pounds him in the corner to break. Koloff comes back with a Russian Sickle for both heels, and gets two on Arn as a result. Sting comes back in and goes back to the arm, but runs into a knee. Arn makes another ill-advised trip to the top, but outsmarts Sting and sucks him in for a sleeper. Sting powers out of that and goes back to the arm again. Tully comes in for a double-team, but Sting dropkicks both of them. Tully immediately gets taken down with an armdrag, and Nikita goes to the arm as well. They stay on it and Koloff runs Tully’s shoulder into the post, and we get a funny spot with Arn trying to tag Tully’s foot and protesting the legality of it. This gives the challengers a chance to switch off again. Tully tries to fight back on Koloff, but Nikita takes him down with an atomic drop and goes back to the arm. Nice sequence sees Nikita holding a hammerlock and holding on through a snapmare counter by Tully, but it also puts them in the heel corner and allows Tully to tag out. Nikita takes Arn down with a drop toehold and holds him on the mat with a half-nelson, but goes after JJ on the floor and clotheslines the post as a result. And now we go to school, as the champs pound the arm and Arn gets the hammerlock slam and goes to work. Hammerlock on the mat, but Koloff fights back, so Arn gives him a DDT for two. Tully comes in for a cross-armbreaker and standing armbar, but Koloff fights out and it’s hot tag Sting. Dropkick for Tully and press slam, and Arn gets bulldogged. Noggins are knocked, but Tully tags Arn in again, which allows Sting to put him in a sleeper with a minute left. Not MY strategy for a match with a minute left, but whatever. Tully tries a sunset flip to break, but Sting blocks and hammers away, and it’s BONZO GONZO with time running out. Stinger splash for Tully sets up the Scorpion Deathlock, but time expires at 20:00. *** Sting and Koloff rather presumptuously put the tag belts on before the decision is even announced. There’s confidence, and there’s being an asshole, guys. US tag titles: The Fantastics v. The Midnight Express The Fantastics had won the US titles from the Midnights on Worldwide Wrestling in a rather legendary match and then retained them at Clash #1. In order to secure another rematch, the MX had to put Jim Cornette in a cage above the ring, in a straitjacket, and then promise to take 10 lashes with a strap if they lose. Strange story while I’m thinking of it: The Panasonic rep dropped off some demo DVDs at work to show off Panasonic’s TVs with, and one of the segments featured is from a boat race on what I can only assume is ESPN 8 (The Ocho!), with two boating superstars being interviewed by none other than an aging and balding Stan Lane! Anyway, both “The Chase” and the Fantastics’ custom intro music are cut (“From the city of the angels, please welcome Bobby Fulton and Tommy Rogers…the Faaaaaaaaaaantastics!”) Kinda made Capetta’s job redundant, maybe he sued and that’s why they cut it. Cornette throws a tantrum about the stipulations before we start, as though he wasn’t informed of it beforehand. The banter between Jim and the ref for the camera is tremendous, giving us this exchange: Cornette: “Can I appeal to your baser instincts?” Dick Wohrle: “You don’t have to appeal to me, brother.” Cornette: “Well, can you be bribed, then? How about $5000?” Dick: “I wouldn’t take $10,000.” Cornette: “How about $15,000?” Cornette is of course deathly afraid of heights in real life, which Jim Ross points out several times here, so this can’t have been fun for him. Fulton and Eaton fight for the lockup to start and Fulton grabs a headlock and turns it into a sunset flip for two. Eaton comes back with his own headlock, but Fulton takes him down with a pair of flying headscissors and Eaton backs off. Lane comes in and wants the test of strength, but Fulton does the Ricky Morton walk up the shoulders, so Lane drops him like a sack of potatoes and then kicks the crap out of him with some SWEET legwork. I’m such a mark for Stan Lane’s marital arts stuff. Fulton dumps Lane, however, and baseball slides him. Over to Rogers, who dropkicks Stan, so Lane elbows him down and brings Eaton in again, but he walks into an armdrag. Bobby takes him down with a knee to the gut and puts Rogers on top, but he slips out and rolls Eaton up for two. Nice sequence as Eaton kicks out and pushes Rogers off into the corner, and Tommy springboards back out with a bodypress for two. What a great spot that you don’t see anymore. It’s BONZO GONZO and the Fantastics break up a double whip and then chase the Midnights out of teh ring, and the challengers are looking lost without Cornette. Jim Ross makes sure to mention several times that the Maryland Athletic Commission is presiding over the matches tonight, which is paid off later. Lane backdrops Rogers but gets rolled up, but has the foresight to tag Eaton beforehand, and Bobby bulldogs Tommy to break up the pin, and then gets two himself. Rogers is YOUR face in peril, and Lane throws kicks in the corner and necksnaps him, then slingshots in with a clothesline to kill Rogers dead. Eaton gets a big back elbow and kneedrop, as Rogers is just selling like nuts here. That gets two. Neckbreaker gets two. Lane comes in with the kick combo, and Rogers collapses right into a backbreaker from Eaton. TEXTBOOK. That gets two. Eaton slugs Rogers down and Lane gets two off it. Lane rams him into the mat and Eaton follows with a backbreaker for two. Divorce Court and Eaton works the arm, and then it’s some quality cheating as the Express suckers Fulton in and double-teams Rogers for two. Lane goes to the abdominal stretch and gets an assist from Eaton (the only worthwhile use of that move, by the way) but they head out to cheat some more and it backfires, as Rogers manages to send Eaton into the post. Back in, Stan calmly pounds Rogers down with forearms, but Tommy gets a sunset flip for two. Eaton goes up with the Alabama Jam and Rogers is DONE, and Lane gets two as Fulton saves. I love how they tag before making the cover, just to make sure they’ve got a fresh man in there. Back to the abdominal stretch, which Lane transitions into a russian legsweep, and that sets up the Rocket Launcher. That hits knee, however, and it’s HOT TAG Fulton. Crowd is still 50/50 for the Express, however, so the pop isn’t as huge as I expected. Rollup on Eaton gets two and he dumps Lane. Stan gets revenge, however, tripping up Fulton from the floor, and the ref is bumped by Rogers. Rogers sends Eaton into the post and fights off Lane, but Bobby Eaton finds a chain and wraps it around his fist to make sure no one slips on it, but then accidentally trips and punches Fulton in the face with it. Whoops, butterfingers. He then shoves the chain in Fulton’s tights, just in case. New champs at 16:21 and that gets a pretty impressive reaction from the crowd. Loved it, loved it, loved it. May a yak marry the daughter of whatever buffoon cut this down to 2:00 on the home video release 20 years ago. ****1/4 Tower of Doom: The Road Warriors & Jimmy Garvin & Ronnie Garvin & Steve Williams v. Kevin Sullivan & Al Perez & Mike Rotundo & Ivan Koloff & The Russian Assassin (Dave Sheldon). This was a goofy-ass idea they stole from World Class, themselves known for off-the-wall booking notions at that time (like the infamous “blackout” finish to the Iceman Parsons-Kerry Von Erich World title match), and the concept is thus: There’s three cages stacked on top of each other, with the smallest on top, and team members at the top every two minutes and fight their way down, with the winner being the first team to exit. Precious holds the key and decides who wins, presumably. It’s kind of funny to think back on a time when Jimmy Garvin WASN’T playing a smarmy sleazeball heel. Ivan Koloff and Ron Garvin start in the little cage on top and slug it out, despite being so high that no one can possibly follow the “action” from the crowd. I have no idea why they didn’t just do the Wargames instead of this stupid idea. So the door opens and Garvin proceeds to the next level, leaving Steve Williams 2-on-1 against Koloff and Rotundo. The next period sees Ron Garvin heading to the bottom level and leaving while Ivan Koloff and Steve Williams fight to the second level. Up on top it’s Rotundo & Perez v. Animal. What a fucking retarded match concept. The rules are so convoluted that it’s like something even Vince Russo would reject for being too tough to understand. Anyway, next period sees Animal & Williams v. Koloff & Perez in the second cage, with Hawk v. Russian Assassin & Rotundo in the top cage and no one in the bottom. It’s all just guys punching each other, so there’s nothing really to call other than that. Third period and we’ve got Perez and Animal in the bottom cage, RA & Koloff v. Williams & Hawk in the middle cage, and Rotundo still on top with Kevin Sullivan against Jimmy Garvin. Animal and Perez both walk out to put the faces up 2-1. Next period and the Russians both drop down and look to depart, but beat up on Hawk first. Jimmy Garvin and Kevin Sullivan, the principles in the whole dumb Precious feud, are alone on the top, with Rotundo & Williams in the middle cage. Hawk walks, as do the Russians, so it’s 3-3. The build is just all off for this thing, as guys fight in the bottom cage when they can just as easily walk out. What a mess. Rotundo and Williams both exit, leaving us with Garvin & Sullivan in the middle cage, where we should have just gone to in the first place. Garvin actually tries a spinning toehold of all things. They make it to the bottom and Garvin hits the brainbuster and leaves at 19:13. Yay, it’s over. I don’t know that I can even rate it. Call it a solid DUD and leave it at that. Afterwards, with Precious having chosen hubbie Jimmy Garvin over Sullivan, Kevin takes it badly and tries to kill her by strangling her. Uh, I don’t know that it wouldn’t have been a bad idea to edit that out given the time when they were airing it and all. US title: Barry Windham v. Dusty Rhodes This was quite the hot feud for Windham, with the whole “former friends” thing as Windham was on the hot streak of a lifetime as a Horseman. Barry backs off from the elbow to start, but Dusty shoulderblocks him down and Windham bails. Criss-cross and Windham drops an elbow to the back of the head, but Dusty presses him and DDTs him in response. Elbow and Dusty goes up (?!?), and a bodypress gets two. Windham, apparently thinking that an airplane crashed on the arena, is shell-shocked and bails to confer with Dillon. Back in, Windham slugs away in the corner, but Dusty is up for that challenge and fires back with some Flip Flop N Fly action. Barry bails again. They brawl outside and Barry tries a piledriver on the floor, but Dusty backdrops out of it and follows with a clothesline. Back in, Barry takes over by slugging away in the corner, but Dusty heads to the apron and slingshots him over the top, as Barry takes a nasty bump to the concrete. Dusty follows with a slam on the floor. Back in, Barry again gets the advantage by attacking from behind, and drops an elbow to set up THE IRON CLAW OF DEATH. AKA “Dusty gets to lay around and sell for five minutes”. Keep in mind that this is Windham’s finisher at this point, the move that he kills jobbers with and won the US title with. Barry gets a pair of two counts off that. Dusty tries to fight up and climbs the ropes to escape, but just can’t fire off that elbow, despite melodramatically cocking it. Windham brings him down, and Dusty’s facing insurmountable odds, according to JR. Naturally that means Dusty is ready to escape, but Barry goes right back to it. So obviously the odds were surmountable, but just difficult. Dusty walks the ropes again to escape, but Barry decides to try a superplex and the ref gets bumped. They fight on the top rope and Dusty slams him off and drops the big fat elbow, but there’s no ref. Cue the run-in, as Ron Garvin makes a random appearance, and then turns on Big Dust and knocks him cold with the Hands of Stone. And now Barry goes back to that claw, finishing at 15:54. Apparently Windham is no more of a miracle worker with Rhodes than Ric Flair is. This was pretty dull stuff, with Barry bumping all over for Dusty for 10 minutes, then Dusty selling the claw for five, and finally a run-in finish. **1/2 NWA World title: Ric Flair v. Lex Luger There were many, many more to come, but this was the first match between them. Well, if you don’t count the Battle of the Belts match from Florida that no one remembers. Luger of course joined the Horsemen in 1987, then lost the US title to Dusty Rhodes and regrouped by telling the other members of the team that he didn’t need their help any longer and he wanted to stand on his own. So they did just that, and kicked him out of the group, then paid off his best friend to turn on him and join them. Now that’s evil. Common sense, popular opinion and years of wrestling history said that Lex Luger wins the belt here and Flair regains it at Starrcade. They fight over the lockup to start and Flair starts throwing chops, but Luger no-sells and hiptosses him into a dropkick, and Flair bails. Back in, Luger press-slams him and Flair is out again. Back in, another press slam and Luger goes to the bearhug. That goes on for a while. Flair manages to draw Luger into the ropes to force the break, and Flair bails to the apron. Luger suplexes him back in…and HITS THE ELBOW. Holy shit, I’ve seen him miss that thing like 800 times. A second try misses, however, so all is right with the universe again. Flair tosses him and uses some dirty tricks to take over, ramming his head into the railing before they head back in. Flair drops the knee and works on the arm, then hits a cheapshot to the ribs while Tommy Young is checking the arm. Luger comes back with a clothesline for two, but Flair slams him and goes up. You know what happens there. Luger hiptosses him out of the corner, but whiffs on a dropkick and we get a Flair Flop as both guys are out. Flair whips him into the corner, but Lex comes out with another clothesline for two. Flair tosses him again, but Luger slingshots in with a sunset flip for two. Flair goes to the knee to finally get him to sell, and starts going to work on the knee. And it’s figure-four time. Luger quickly reverses, so Flair kicks him in the knee again, but Luger comes back with a press slam. He misses a kneedrop (duuuuuuuuhhhh….him smart like dump truck…) and Flair goes up again, and gets slammed again. Luger’s knee is iffy, however. Luger pounds away in the corner, but Flair brings him down with an atomic drop, and Luger does the All Japan sell by popping up with a lariat for two. Luger pounds away in the corner again, totally forgetting the knee injury now, and we get a Flair Flip. They brawl on the floor and Luger takes the fateful trip to the post (dumb dumb dumb….that’s not a dramatic music cue, that’s my opinions of the finish) and starts bleeding. Back in, Luger starts “bleeding”, but still powerslams Flair and gets the Torture Rack, and Flair apparently submits at 23:13. Your basic Flair v. Broomstick match. *** BUT WAIT! Turns out that the tiny little cut on Luger’s forehead forced the the “Maryland State Athletic Commission” to stop the match, and thus award the decision to Flair instead. Worst Screwjob Ever. This was completely ridiculous on several levels: 1) Baltimore had seen dozens of matches far bloodier than this one without ever hearing a mention of the Commission before this, or after this for that matter. 2) Luger’s cut was so small as to have dried up 10 seconds after his blade job. 3) Luger was obviously able to compete, given that he was about to win the match and all. Essentially, this was supposed to be Luger’s ascent into Hogan levels by getting his big All-American win for the All-American World title ala Hogan in 84, but politics and a really bad job of blading screwed it all up and left Luger branded a choker for the rest of his career. More importantly, however, this show really showed how out of touch with the audience that JCP was at this point, as WWF was still doing the superhero “send the fans home happy” finishes on their PPVs, and here you have heels going over up and down the card and casual buyers, who may have been excited to see a WWF alternative, getting kicked in the proverbial nuts at the end of the show with a retarded screwjob finish. You can screw with your audience if you’re Vince McMahon and have legions of followers who will tune into Monday Night RAW every week no matter how shitty it gets or how many months John Cena holds the title for, but you can’t do that when it’s your first real PPV. And that’s why Jim Crockett went out of business before he could do a SECOND PPV. Still, a pretty decent show aside from the horrifyingly stupid Tower of Doom match. Mild recommendation, mainly for the Midnights v. Fantastics tag title match.
(2012 Scott sez: I took June off because King of the Ring never really interested me that much, but this is a much more fun trip down memory lane and in fact is the only WCW PPV concept to get integrated into WWE after the buyout. For the sake of stretching things out I’ll also cover Beach Blast and Bash at the Beach as part of the same concept. And we begin with a show that isn’t technically a PPV, but rather a videotape release featuring one of the greatest matches of all-time. So it’s got that going on.) The Netcop Retro Rant for NWA Great American Bash 87: WarGames! This is not one show per se, but rather a 2 hour compilation of the highlights of the Bash 87 tour. Opening match: WarGames. Ric Flair, Tully Blanchard, Arn Anderson, Lex Luger & JJ Dillon v. Dusty Rhodes, Nikita Koloff, Hawk, Animal & Paul Ellering. This is it – the first WarGames, ever. (I went back and checked out a 1987 Observer to see what Dave Meltzer thought of this, and he basically no-sold it at the time, describing it as a “much-hyped tornado cage match” with “good action” but not a match of the year candidate. To be fair he was going off second-hand info at that point. I’m kind of curious where his opinion stands now.) The story: Everyone hates each others’ guts. That’s all you need to know. Big Dust and AA start out. Lots of situations where a pinfall would usually happen to stress that there are no pinfalls. AA is bleeding two minutes in, just like everyone else in this match. An 11 year tradition begins here, as the heels win the first ever coin toss. Tully is next and Dusty elbows them both before they inevitably destroy Dusty. The overriding storyline of the match: When it’s even odds, the faces are in command, but when the heels have one man up, the faces have no chance. (That’s wrestling in a nutshell, baby.) Animal comes in to make the save and slingshots Tully into the cage THREE TIMES. No release. Wild stuff. Flair is in next (whoo!) and Animal is bleeding 10 seconds later. You like blood? This is the match for you. Incredibly hot crowd, they must’ve been distributing speed in the hot dog vendors or something. (The Bash tour of 87 was a GIGANTIC success and it’s all the more baffling that Dusty managed to bankrupt the company by the end of 88 the way he did. They were doing 10-13K legit sellouts of these shows in their core markets like Atlanta.) Koloff is in and just obliterates everyone. Luger is in and goes right after Koloff, and Flair helps out by giving the most blatant ballshot you’ll ever see. Then Flair and Tully give Koloff *two* spike piledrivers in a row. Brutal. Even the bad wrestlers look good because they can punch and kick away and it’s totally in context. (That’s why Wargames is so brilliant and why it’s so amazing that WCW could fuck it up so badly. It’s the PERFECT match for disguising weaknesses and focusing on the strength of the brawling guys!) Dillon is in last for the heels and not surprisingly doesn’t turn the tide much. Ellering comes in, wearing the spiked gauntlet from one of the Warriors, and starts jamming it into Dillon’s eye. Then the Warriors corner Dillon 2-on-1 and just absolutely murder him for about three minutes until he finally surrenders to the end the whole thing. A bloody, brutal classic. ***** (JJ suffered a legit shoulder injury taking a Doomsday Device in this match, showing that it truly was a brutal match.) Rick Steiner v. Barry Windham. This was when Steiner was still an Eddie Gilbert crony in the UWF. (It’s funny that people thought that WWE would possibly remember the UWF “invasion” of 1987 and somehow learn from the milions of mistakes made there.) Standard babyface Barry match with a weird ending – Steiner suplexes Windham off the apron and rolls on top, but Windham kinda pushes Steiner over and cradles him for the pin. It just looked awkward for some reason. ** (Probably because Steiner was about 2 years away from being any good as a worker.) US title match: Nikita Koloff v. Lex Luger, No-DQ cage match. We join this about 25 minutes in. (I’ve heard the full match is pretty bad.) Luger was Das Wunderkind back in 87, having just ousted Ole Anderson from the Horsemen. Koloff had been US champion forever, beating Magnum TA the year before. Koloff has a neck brace after WarGames. Luger works the neck constantly. It’s pretty sad when rookie Luger displays more skill and psychology than Wolfpac Luger. (Probably because rookie Luger actually gave a shit and was excited to be there making big money.) Koloff whipped to the corner and sickles Luger on the way out, but Earl Hebner gets KO’d during the move. Dillon tosses in a chair and Luger smacks Koloff on the back of the head, then picks him up into the torture rack. Koloff is unconscious so the ref just declares Luger the winner and new US champion for the first time. (Koloff screwed Koloff! By the way, watching this tape in early 1988, my MIND WAS BLOWN seeing Earl Hebner as a referee for the NWA.) **1/2 from what I saw. Texas Death Match: Dick Murdoch (w/ Eddie Gilbert) v. Steve Williams (w/ Magnum TA). Pretty bad. (Now there’s the in-depth analysis and wit you keep coming back for!) Williams KO’s Capt. Redneck with his arm cast and Murdoch isn’t able to answer the 10 count. * (That sounds low. I should watch this tape again sometime.) Michael Hayes, Terry Gordy & Buddy Roberts v. Manny Fernandez, Ivan Koloff & Paul Jones. Throwaway six-man match to give the Freebirds some heat. Buddy Roberts gets beat up by the heels for a while, then Terry Gordy gets in, destroys Paul Jones, and pins him with the big elbow. DUD. (That sounds right.) $100,000 Barbed Wire Ladder match (lights out, non-title): Tully Blanchard v. Dusty Rhodes. The circumstances surrounding this match always bugged me, because on Worldwide they showed the initial match to set it up (where Dusty got screwed during a TV title shot), the buildup (JJ cons Jim Crockett into putting up $50,000 on his behalf) and they talked about it constantly, but they never actually said WHO WON THE DAMN THING. (Crockett was never in a TV company mindset, which I think was part of his problem. Dusty’s booking led to house show payoffs, but it sucked as an “episodic program”, as Vince likes to call it. Unless something major happened like a title change or big angle, you would never hear the results on TV and guys would just move onto the next program.) It’s a standard ladder match, but the ring ropes are covered in barbed wire. Crappy match. Most of the spots involve one guy trying to cut the other on the wire. Rhodes cuts Blanchard’s arm right on camera…ick. Barry Windham is seconding Rhodes and Dillon is seconding Blanchard. The ladder never really gets used as a weapon, just as a ladder. Rhodes fights off interference from Dillon to climb the ladder and claim the $100,000. DUD. (For two guys with as much history between them as these two, their matches fucking SUCKED, every time out. You’d think Tully v. Dusty would fluke out and produce something above the level of “totally awful” just once, but you’d be wrong.) NWA World title match: Ric Flair v. Jimmy Garvin, cage match, title v. one night with Precious. Flair considered Jimmy a non-contender (rightly so) and demanded that he put Precious up as a collateral for the title shot. Garvin is a *really* bad wrestler at this point and even Flair has trouble carrying him. (Was Garvin ever a GOOD wrestler? Maybe in World Class for a while, I guess.) Flair blades as usual, and graciously allows Garvin to beat the holy hell out of him for a while. But Garvin lands wrong during a leapfrog and bungs up his knee, and Flair goes to school. Whoo! Ronnie Garvin comes down to ringside to cheer for Jimmy and make it look all epic and stuff, but Garvin sucks dick so it doesn’t work. (I think I’m being a tad harsh on this match, although not by much.) Highlight of the match: Ronnie trash-talks Flair, and Flair (as far as I know) debuts the “hump the cage” maneuver to respond. Jimmy, the consummate actor, says “Ow, Ow, Ronnie I busted up my knee” to the camera every chance he gets. But then he gets all stoic and stuff and makes the comeback, and Flair ends up showing his ass to the crowd twice. (Some heels liked to “show ass” as a part of their character and to let babyfaces get heat on them. Flair just liked to take it further and do it LITERALLY as a part of his act.) Of course, they do the spot where Flair is on the top rope and he ends up trying to walk across, but falls on his crotch instead for a Garvin two-count. Jimmy goes for the brainbuster to finish it, but the knee gives out and Flair slaps on the figure-four, hangs onto the top rope, and doesn’t let go until Garvin blacks out from the pain. (That’s a pretty great finish, actually.) Some idiot fan tries to climb the cage and you can just make out Ronnie Garvin beating the shit out of him in the background. (That should be an extra star right there.) Flair gets one night with Precious, although it would turn out to be drastically different from what he imagined… ** (I looked this up on Youtube and it’s WAY better than I’m giving it credit for here, with the crowd totally buying into the drama of Garvin having to give up his wife for one night, with even the guy trying to climb into the ring because Flair is such an asshole for holding the ropes with Garvin in the figure-four adding to things. And Flair’s MANIACAL celebration interview is awesome. I’d give the whole shebang **** now, in fact. Check it out…) The Rock N Roll Express v. The Midnight Express, World tag team title v. US tag team title. Cornette was in the midst of a banana emergency and wasn’t there that night. (Oh dear, the banana joke era on RSPW. I know someone’s gonna ask, and the answer is that yes, there was a story about Jim Cornette and a banana, and I’m sure you can fill in the details yourself.) Big Bubba is, though. I love this match. If you’re not an obsessive collector of everything Midnight/RnR like I am, this is a good primer on the feud and how they worked together. Literally non-stop action. Oddly, Robert Gibson plays Ricky Morton here. Morton gets the hot tag and they double-dropkick Eaton, but Lane makes the save and Tommy Young escorts him out. Morton gets whipped off the ropes and Bubba moves in the ring faster than I thought he could move and Bossman-slams Morton, but leaves his trademark hat and glasses behind by accident. Young turns around to make the count…but sees the hat and calls for the DQ instead. The usual **** match from these two. (Maybe if you’re counting a star per minute, because this was a short match. They had better matches on TV that month alone, I’m pretty sure. Probably ** given the length.) WarGames II: Ric Flair, Tully Blanchard, Arn Anderson, Lex Luger & “War Machine” (Ray Traylor) v. Dusty Rhodes, Nikita Koloff, Hawk, Animal & Paul Ellering. Basically the same match as the first, with War Machine (Big Bossman) taking the place of the injured JJ Dillon. Ellering again brings in the spiked gauntlet, and this time War Machine is the victim as the faces spike it into his face until he submits. Not quite as intense as the original. **** The Bottom Line: Hey, this stuff is mana from heaven for NWA enthusiasts like myself. I wish they’d have included a better Flair title match, but it was slim pickings until Lex Luger turned face. One of those “something for everyone” tapes. Very recommended.
Thought it would be fun if you did a thread on the best promos and I have a couple of questions which arise from my top half dozen:
6) CM Punk, Raw 2011. Punk “shoots” on Vince, the audience, ice cream bars and kicks off the summer of Punk. Seen by the IWC as a break-through moment and hopefully the start of a new direction for the WWE but in fact went no-where and if the ratings are to believed fell flat with the mass audience.
5) Mick Foley , ECW TV – the hardcore promos. Unintentionally or otherwise Mick foreshadows why eventually ECW and the attitude era will eat themselves and calls out wrestlers for being bigger marks than the fans.
4) Bret Hart, WWE Raw – Bret turns heel on the US fans in 1997. Several great promos in this series but the “here in Canada we look after each other” one wins for me.
3) Steve Austin, ECW TV – the “all I’ve seen is a bunch of violent crap” promo. For me beats out the more famous WWE King of Ring 3:16 promo as the real the birth of Austin character and the attitude era.
2) Hogan, WCW Bash at Beach – Hogan turns heel on the fans and forms the NWO. Kicks off the WCW end of the most profitable period in wrestling’s history and reinvents the Hogan character for a another half decade.
And in first place..
1) Dusty Rhodes, Mid Atlantic Wrestling – Hard Times. The promo equivalent of Steamboat / Savage; in three minutes Dusty gets himself and Flair over, explains why they are feuding, connects with the audience and remembers to sell the damn PPV! In my opinion the perfect promo from one of the greatest of all time on the stick.
Looking at this list two things leap out. Firstly five of them are heel promos and at least two if not four are actually cut on the audience as much as another wrestler – so it is easier to do a great heel promo? Secondly where is the Rock in the list given that he is supposed to be one of the most charismatic stars of the modern era?
Well, I mean, it's your list, so you'd have to tell me where the Rock is. Rock did a lot of great promos on a weekly basis, but nothing I'd call a single great money promo like these. Just like Austin did a lot of the same kind of stuff week after week, and Flair in the glory days of TBS. I'd also put HHH's "I Am The Game" promo in there somewhere because it kicked off a decade-long push.
And yeah, I think it's easier to do a great heel promo, because there's so many more shortcuts and tricks they can use that babyfaces really can't. A heel doesn't have to connect with the audience and make them empathize, it just works out better if they do.
I’m starting to get overlapping mailbag questions so I should probably start clearing them out.
Saw a preview for the new WWE Greatest Rivalries DVD: Hart/Michaels. It looks really good, and I’ll probably check it out, but it got me thinking of future Greatest Rivalry DVDs. If they were to continue with these titles, what Rivalries would you like to see? Some come to my mind, but I don’t know if there’d be enough material for a 3-disc set.
Edge and Christian/Hardys
Rock/Austin seems like a no-brainer.
Hey Scott– So the Bret v. Shawn dvd is out in a couple of weeks, and all the early reviews indicate that it’s going to be the best wrestling dvd released this year. However, I’m wondering if the ‘E can really go any further with this concept, especially given the truly unique nature of what went down between Bret and Shawn. Can you think of any rivalry they could do this kind of dvd with in the future, or is this a "one and done?"
I know they want to do more in the future. Rock/Austin is a natural and would probably sell like gangbusters. Austin/Vince, although that would be 99% promos and only a few matches. I’d also say Rock/HHH, which gives you a BAZILLION good-great matches to choose from and some real history between them. Plus we’d hopefully finally get the Iron Man match on DVD. I’d also pick Hogan v. Savage, but that’s obviously never happening for a million reasons I don’t need to get into here I’m sure. Flair v. Sting is again another one mired in political bullshit so it wouldn’t ever happen. But it would quite the set.