State of pro wrestling: How quick is enough? How long is too much?

Professional wrestling on TV has changed in so many ways. One of the biggest differences is clear just by watching some WWE Network programming from past and present.

Monday Night RAW was one-third as long when it started in 1993 as it is now. When it started, RAW would try to squeeze in 3-4 matches, along with major pay-per-view lead-up and recaps of WWF Superstars when necessary, into about 45 minutes of live air time.

As a result … welcome to the squash match!

The goal: Get as many top competitors as over as possible as quickly as possible. Get a few impressive moves in, get the finisher, get out.

In this recently-reviewed episode from Valentine’s Day, 1993, four matches totaled 23 minutes, 29 seconds of ring time, but most of that was a 14-man battle royal. Three other matches, featuring The Steiner Brothers shortly after their WWF debut, Yokozuna as the No. 1 contender for the WWF Championship and Ted DiBiase and Brutus Beefcake in a high-profile feud involving the WWF Tag Team Championship (and soon to include Hulk Hogan), took a total of 9:59 — squash, squash, DQ were the results.

In the present, NXT also has to pack a lot into an hour or less. This week, a “Vengeance”-themed show with well-built angles, had five matches — four in about the 2- to 5-minute range, and a main event closer to 15. Two were straight-up squashes, two were quicker-paced legit matches, and the main event was fantastic. The mix felt OK — the main event seemed like a big deal because it took time to breathe — but those two quick matches with two formidable competitors could’ve had a bit longer to develop.

RAW doesn’t have the luxury of packing action and moving quickly because of the self-inflicted extension from 2 hours (which was perfect for a flagship show) to 3. The 3-hour era has been widely panned because of how long and drawn-out it is, and they’ve tried to make things better with longer matches along the way. About one match per hour goes multiple segments, and though there are some mid-card quickies along the way, plenty of mid- and upper-midcard matches get a commercial break in between and go at least 10-15 minutes.

The flipside is the last WCW pay-per-view I watched on the Network: Fall Brawl 2000. They had 10 matches, instead of the customary 6-8 in current WWE PPVs, and the only one that passed the 15-minute mark was a 6-on-6 elimination tag match. All of the matches took at least five, and one of the best matches of the night was a 6 1/2-minute battle between Lance Storm and Bill DeMott for the United States Championship. There was, however, one problem: The main event, a World Championship match between Kevin Nash and Booker T., started 26 minutes before the hour but lasted only 9. With every other match being right around that, it felt like just another match, even with two top guys and a steel cage.

The question is this: Where is the proper balance? Do squash matches have a place; do we need more? Do you like 4-minute matches where both sides get in their basic stuff and get out? Do you prefer more longer-form matches to build feuds in-ring? Or do you want everything like Fall Brawl 2000, where most of the matches are the same length? Leave a comment below to build the discussion.

 

Flashback Friday: RAW Episode 5 (Feb. 14, 1993)

Remember when Monday Night Raw was about a third as long as it is now, and there wasn’t some corporate authority storyline bogging it down? When an angle started as simply as stealing somebody’s hat, using an arm cast filled with cement to hit them from behind, or hitting a guy’s surgically repaired face with a briefcase? When hipster fans didn’t try to “hijack” the show? Better yet, when hipsters didn’t even exist, and the ’80s still kind of did?

Then WELCOME, EVERYONE, TO MONDAY NIGHT RAW!!!!! … in 1993.

This week: We revisit Valentine’s Day, 1993. We’ll let the main characters take it from here.

Brutus RAW 021493

“Ted DiBiase, tonight I’m gonna prove to you and everybody else that I’m 100 percent healed and ready for action. The Barber’s back! A-ha-ha-ha!”

 

DiBiase RAW 021493

“Brutus ‘The Barber’ Beefcake, two years ago your face was shattered in a parasailing accident. But tonight, that’s gonna be THE LEAST OF YOUR WORRIES! Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!”

And that’s how we set up the Valentine’s Day edition of RAW, featuring Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake vs. “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase in his comeback match. We’ll also get a 16-man battle royal. “Macho Man” Randy Savage says Beefcake has two guys in his corner: The big guy upstairs and Hulk Hogan. In the meantime, we get The Steiner Brothers against some jobbers.

THE STEINER BROTHERS vs. GLEN RUTH & BOBBY WHO(?)

Scott Steiner begins, clearly a few years from his Big Poppa Pump phase. Full Nelson suplex on Glen Ruth’s head, then tag to Rick Steiner. *barking ensues* One jobber tags to another. He takes a suplex, then a dropkick from Scott after the tag. Nice combination move: Scott lifts Who up and tags to Rick, who goes off the top for an elbow drop. Who actually gets a strike or two before Rick regains the advantage. Tag to Scott for the double-arm powerbomb. Electric chair into a bulldog from Rick (well done!) and Scott gets the pin.

WINNERS: Steiners, 3:32.

TECHNICAL MERIT: Good for a squash. ARTISTIC IMPRESSION: Good for a squash, I guess.

TOTAL SCORE: *3/4

The Steiners, obviously, were technically sound, but just your basic quickie match to show them off.

“Mean Gene” Okerlund promos WrestleMania IX. We have Bret Hart vs. Yokozuna for the title, The Undertaker vs. Giant Gonzalez, and Crush vs. Doink The Clown. Now we move to the Royal Rumble winner and the No. 1 contender to the WWF Championship. He’ll face another generic jobber tonight.

YOKOZUNA vs. ROSS GREENBERG (10:50)

The prevailing storyline, other than Beefcake, is Savage’s mic doesn’t work and he’s not happy about it. “Wish somebody knew what they were doing around here!” Greenberg looks like he stole a pair of Shawn Michaels’ old Rockers tights. After 45 seconds of reluctance, Greenberg charges and Yoko clotheslines him. Powerful belly-to-belly follow, then a legdrop. “USA!” chant. Corner whip, then a butt charge. Punches him down, then the Banzai Drop. He remembered to let go of the rope just before Mike Chioda counted.

WINNER: Yokozuna, 2:02.

TECHNICAL MERIT: Squash. ARTISTIC IMPRESSION: Impressive squash.

TOTAL SCORE: *1/4

Yoko comes in, kicks some ass, leaves. Now a special report from Lord Alfred Hayes, who surprisingly was still around … I hadn’t retroactively seen him since the ’80s, I think! He flashes back to Superstars, when Yoko faced “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan. In a historic development, Duggan knocked Yoko off his feet, the first man in singles competition to do so. Hell of a sell from the big man as well. Then, in true Duggan form, he celebrates before the match is over and gets a bucket of salt for his insolence. Then multiple Banzai Drops, including one on Old Glory. That leads into a Mr. Fuji quick promo.

Lead in to the battle royal, which apparently won’t have Gonzalez because when he wanted to enter, everybody else said no. Superstars flashback to a 1-on-3 handicap match in which he chokeslammed one guy, and all three checked out. After the obligatory ICOPRO spot with the WWF Champion …

Bret Hart ICOPRO 1993

Back-to-back Savage commercials before the battle royal — one for WWF action figures. The other, of course …

Savage Slim Jim 1993

On another note, Savage stole Rob Bartlett‘s mic. Television viewers nationwide surely fist-pumped in apprecation.

Now it’s battle royal time. But it’s not exactly as advertised. Take a look …

Battle Royal RAW 021493

I don’t see 16 men …

16- 14-MAN BATTLE ROYAL (20:38)

Bell rings, everyone files in. Razor Ramon takes his time to get in; HBK took more. I recognize those two, Typhoon, Skinner, Tatanka, High Energy, Kamala, “Terrific” Terry Taylor, The Berzerker and “El Matador” Tito Santana. Some masked dude named Kim Chee has gone through the ropes twice. HBK eliminates Koko B. Ware at about 2:20. Look, it’s Bob Backlund! Also, a Quantum Leap plug. Great show. Damian Demento is in there as well. Skinner dances for some reason, and Typhoon eliminates him at 4:45. A few seconds later, Kamala knocks Demento out. At 5:38, Owen Hart has a sleeper on Berzerker, but Berzerker dumps him over. Amazing where The Rocket was in early 1993 compared to a year later. Kamala kicks Berzerker out at 6:15. Meanwhile, HBK and Santana continuing their WrestleMania VIII feud in one corner. Kim Chee and Typhoon team up to toss Kamala at 6:55. Kim Chee taunts Kamala, and the latter goes after his former handler over the top rope and into the Manhattan Center crowd. They moved toward the concession stand. Savage: “Put some mustard on him, Kamala! Do it!” 

*COMMERCIAL*

As we return, Typhoon has a hold of Michaels, but when Typhoon charges the corner, HBK lifts him over and out at 9:00. Now down to four — Razor and HBK appear to be teaming up against Santana and Tatanka. HBK and Tatanka, who have a rivalry heading into WrestleMania IX, pair off. Apparently, Tatanka beat the Intercontinental Champion in a non-title match on Superstars. Flying forearm from El Matador. HBK knocks Santana’s head into the buckle. Shortly after, the faces team up to knock his head into the buckle twice. Now a traditional whip in, and HBK does his spot where hangs himself up to dry. In this case, he gets kicked out at 12:00. Thirty seconds later, Gonzalez comes in to clean house. The 8-footer tosses everybody out, so maybe he’s the winner? Nope, Razor went through the ropes. When he gets back in, the bell rings and he celebrates accordingly.

WINNER: Razor Ramon, 13:30.

TOTAL SCORE: *1/4

A Giant Gonzalez vehicle after a generic battle royal. Could’ve done without it.

DiBiase comes down the aisle with a seemingly unhappy Jimmy HartBruti follows.

WWF tag team champion TED DiBIASE (w/Jimmy Hart) vs. BRUTUS BEEFCAKE (36:35)

I loved Brutus’ music. Good to have it back. Beefcake gets to the struttin’ early. No cuttin’ yet. Another duck and strut. Jimmy says manager-type things. No megaphone these days. Bruti hammers Teddy, and The Million Dollar Man rolls out. Hart: “I told you he’s not a pushover. Be careful with him.” Kinda bummed there’s no “Not The Face” chant, a la Tyler Breeze. Side headlock from Brutus, then a few more punches knock DiBiase out. DiBiase points from outside, and Beefcake invites him to kiss his ass. Ted returns and tries to knock Brutus’ face into the buckle, but Beefacke puts on the brakes and responds in kind. I.R.S. walks down to the ring at 3:45, and Hart isn’t pleased. DiBiase whips Beefcake into the ropes, and Schyster hits him in the back with the briefcase for the DQ. A beatdown ensues.

WINNER: Beefcake by DQ, 4:25.

TECHNICAL MERIT: Generic. ARTISTIC IMPRESSION: OK story that builds after the match.

TOTAL SCORE: *1/2

DiBiase holds Brutus up for Schyster to hit him in the face with the briefcase, but Hart tries to stop him. I.R.S. tosses Hart out, then delivers the blow. Jimmy checks on Brutus, who’s selling the effects. DiBiase decides he wants to get him some, and Hart begs off again. We’re getting a rare development here: The seeds for a manager face turn. Brutus continues to sell the briefcase facial, and the stretcher comes on to carry him off. We get a little color on the mat to further the sell as RAW goes to commercial.

Back from break a minute before the top of the hour, Vince says Beefcake is OK.

Next week: Money, Inc. in action; if they’re here, then it wouldn’t be a surprise if Hogan were as well. Also a six-man tag between Tatanka and the Nasty Boys vs. HBK and the Beverly Brothers.

Final analysis: It’s interesting how they handled feuds and returns back in the day. On RAW now, Hogan either would’ve made the save or been waiting at the end of the aisle upon Money, Inc.’s exit. It seems a lot of midcard feuds advanced on Superstars and were addressed as part of the happenings of RAW. There also was one prevailing theme this time around, and since it was an hour-long show, it took up about a quarter of it.

NXT 03/27: Vengeance wasn’t earned this week, but it didn’t need to be.

I was hyped for NXT’s Vengeance episode, knowing there were at least three matches on the card that would deliver.

To quote the winner of the opening match, I stayed hyped.

NXT just knows how to deliver every Thursday night, and for a true pro wrestling fan it’s, by far, the best weekly show in WWE. They packed five matches into 56 minutes this week, and the last four definitely were worth watching. The characters are still fresh, and the in-ring work remains more nuanced and innovative than almost anything on RAW or SmackDown. The only thing that would make it better would be going 75 or 90 minutes to let some of these matches breathe. Though I was pleased with the in-ring content, some matches received low scores simply because they didn’t get any time to build a story. You can do a lot more in 8 minutes than 4. Give Bo Dallas and Adrian Neville 13? You have a masterpiece.

MOJO RAWLEY vs. C.J. PARKER

The highlight of this one was the commentary. Alex Riley and Prince Albert/Albert/A-Train/Lord Tensai/Tensai/Jason Albert provided some great back-and-forth throughout the show, but I was really tuned in during this match because it was better than the athletic aspect. Albert said if Parker wants to save the world, then join the Peace Corps; the smell of patchouli oil makes him sick; and he had a 2-hour hunger strike once. ALBERT COMMENTARY: **** The other thing I noticed (and someone pointed out on Twitter) was the variety of camera angles, and the willingness to change angles quickly. Provided a fresh presentation. Anyway, Mojo won with corner splash, corner splash, butt bump, butt splash. Yay.

TECHNICAL MERIT: Still lacking. ARTISTIC IMPRESSION: Flat.

TOTAL SCORE: 3/4*

People like Mojo, and it would probably be more beneficial to have him actually get some offense in before the very end. Maybe he’s still that green, but I have a feeling if he’s on TV, he can at least go a little bit. If he’s going to win in 2 or 3 minutes, let him kick some ass! Parker … I just don’t get.

Business picked up with the highlight of the show 13 minutes in.

Breeze NXT 0327

Wife: “He’s really pretty.”

A-Ry: “He can turn left AND right. He’s an ambi-turner!”

That’s right. Rave reviews once again for the greatness of Tyler Breeze.

TYLER BREEZE vs. XAVIER WOODS

Prince Pretty was pretty aggressive throughout, and apparently he is wearing ostrich this week. He also overcame the adversity of multiple shots to the face (one via the turnbuckle, one Shining Wizard) and had some nice offense in the form of a bulldog into the turnbuckle, then later some nice defense yielding the Beauty Shot spinning heelkick for the win. I’d watch these guys go again, maybe for double the time, so they could build something.

TECHNICAL MERIT: Quick, but decent. ARTISTIC IMPRESSION: If the story involves Breeze’s face, great. If not…

TOTAL SCORE: *3/4

Bo’s a little less annoying with his promo this week. He at least had a valid point: Neville didn’t pin him to win the title. (Foreshadowing?)

COREY GRAVES vs. YOSHI TATSU

I love and hate Graves’ look at the same time. As a regular person I’d think he’s an epic douchebag. As a wrestler, it works! Enjoyed Yoshi actually getting in some offense. I like Graves’ in-ring style, too. He’s a bit smaller than average at 220, but he just strikes and strikes and strikes to batter the opponent. A sick-looking torquing of the knee and elbow until Yoshi kicked out of it. Some chops, but with the bum wheel, it was a matter of time. Dive to the knee, then Lucky 13. Yoshi? Not so lucky. Good, quick story of attempted vengeance and working a body part and forcing the other man to tap out. I’m a huge fan of submission finishers and submission-style guys, so this worked for me.

TECHNICAL MERIT: Solid. ARTISTIC IMPRESSION: Quick story, but good.

TOTAL SCORE: **

So they shelled out this week for Bret Hart to appear, but not Ric Flair? I’m disappointed. Still love the touch of the Summer Rae face cutout with the BFFs, though. Renee Young is here to talk about the ladies, and we will as well.

CHARLOTTE (w/Sasha Banks) vs. NATALYA (w/Bret Hart)

Natalya working the arm early, countered with a head-scissors from Charlotte, which is escaped with a kip-up. Nice step on the back, then a short dropkick to the head on the way back around, then a somewhat arrogant cover from Nattie. The last part wasn’t excellently executed. The subsequent clothesline was. Charlotte works Nattie’s legs in the ropes, then pulls her out. Wonder what she’s working on … ?  After two failed Figure Four attempts, Charlotte connects with the lower abdomen. Goes for a second shot, but Nattie counters into the Sharpshooter, and Sasha makes the save for the DQ. She gets a Sharpshooter as well for her efforts.

TECHNICAL MERIT: Not excellent, but pretty good. ARTISTIC IMPRESSION: Also good.

TOTAL SCORE: **1/2

I liked this match. Charlotte looks a little stiff still, according to the wife, but she’s athletic and she can slap on some decent-looking submission holds, and her leg screws sure as hell look better than Dwayne Johnson’s. So she has that going for her.

We follow up with the main event. NO MORE BO! NO MORE BO!

ADRIAN NEVILLE (c) vs. BO DALLAS, NXT Championship match

Bit of a slow start … definitely setting up for a longer-type match. Neville with a creative escape from the corner, then a missile dropkick. Sets up for The Red Arrow, Bo dips out, so Neville hits a moonsault instead. Dallas ducks under a springboard, then Neville with a crucifix for 2. Neville goes for another springboard attack, but Bo simply knocks him off the ropes and onto the floor. Bo breaks up the count, then goes outside for a huge clothesline. Repeated knee strikes when they’re back in. Neville’s still on the ground, so Bo hits him a few times with the forearm. We’re on three nearfalls in that sequence, and Bo’s starting to look frustrated.

*UNNECESSARY COMMERCIAL BREAK*

Back from break, Neville with a back kick to the gut. Dallas follows off the ropes and hits another big clothesline. Multiple nearfalls again. Bo gets a cover and appeared to have 3, but the ref catches his hand on the rope. Running elbow from Bo. Looks to set up for the double-arm, but Neville literally kicks out. Series of kicks puts Bo on the ground, and Neville goes to the rope. Springboard into a variation of the Superman punch for 2.  HUGE air on that one. Corner charge ends with an uppercut, and both men reeling.  Neville goes for the corner whip, but Bo blocks twice and connects with a forearm. Bo whips Neville into the corner, but he puts on the brakes because the ref is there. Bo with the heads-up rollup for 2. Neville kicks Dallas from the apron, and goes for the Red Arrow, which Bo blocks with his knees and covers for 2. That looked painful. Bo trying to lift Neville for the DDT, but Neville’s dead weight.  Bo gets him up, Neville pushes him back. Clothesline misses, then Bo pushes off the tornado DDT attempt. Bo puts Neville’s head into the buckle and charges, but Neville hits a superkick. Neville goes up top again with his back to Dallas and hits a 450 GOING FORWARD WHILE LEAPING BACKWARD for the pin. What. The. Fuck.

TECHNICAL MERIT:  Another great one from these two. ARTISTIC IMPRESSION: Great story, great match.

TOTAL SCORE: ****

I liked this more than the ladder match at NXT ArRIVAL, which was great in its own right. I trash Bo often here, but credit to him in this match. These two work well together, and it helps when Bo just … doesn’t … talk. He looked hungry as the challenger, and it showed. Neville just had more in the end. Also, what the hell are we calling Neville’s finisher there? I’m calling it the Backside 450 until I hear otherwise. If you have a suggestion, or just want to talk about the show, feel free to comment below!

World Championship Wednesday: Fall Brawl 2000. Wear a cup.

I’d never watched Fall Brawl 2000 — or, frankly, most of WCW’s stuff post-Fingerpoke of Doom. Now that I have, I’ll remember three particular things. One is the insane amount of stipulations and gimmicks tied to each match — there was a First Blood Chain match, a special enforcer match, a Pittsburgh Plunge Scaffolding Match, a Bunkhouse Brawl, a no-DQ match and a steel cage match. That’s 60 percent of the card. Another is “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan turning heel. (We’ll get to that later.)

 

The third is this:

Kidman FB2K

Seriously, how many times can people get hit in the nuts in one show? This was wrestling meets Jackass. Seemingly anytime somebody got an advantage … *Whack!* right in the junk. I get WCW was trying to match the WWF’s “Attitude” at the time, but this was the professional wrestling equivalent of that one friend who says “Fuck” and its variations as many times as possible to seem edgy and cool. You know you have one. Or two. Or 10.

Anyway, on to the wrestling, or whatever it was for most of the show. Watch or skip verdicts, of course, accompany each match in the review. I waste my day off, so you don’t have to.

We start with a vignette of the Scott SteinerGoldberg angle, complete with action figures … ? This is odd. Also Kevin Nash vs. Booker T. in a cage match for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship.  We have “10 huge matches” according to Tony Schiavone. He’s joined by Mark Madden (boo) and Scott Hudson (yay!).

We start off “hot,” according to Hudson, with a Cruiserweight Championship match. I don’t recognize these guys, though apparently Elix Skipper is Canadian, and he’s “Prime Time”.

This guy calls gimmick infringement:

Sports Illustrated photo
Sports Illustrated photo

 

“PRIME TIME” ELIX SKIPPER (c) vs. KWEE-WEE, WCW Cruiserweight Championship

Since Skipper is Canadian, it’s the 100-kg-and-under title. I like it. Kwee-Wee apparently has like a split personality thing. His first personality is a halfway-decent wrestler. Well, until he comes up an inch or two short on a leapfrog about 2 minutes in. *cringes in empathy* Back bodydrop 3 minutes in and Skipper lands on the apron. Double springboard flip over Kwee-Wee, then a full nelson suplex for 2. OK, you have my attention. “USA!” chant. Corkscrew guillotine legdrop for 2. Hudson providing excellent analysis by naming crazy moves. HUDSON COMMENTARY: ****1/2 Rear chinlock on Kwee-Wee; arm drops twice; he’s back. Kwee-Wee goes for the crossbody, and Skipper stumbles back and dumps Kwee-Wee over. HUGE springboard moonsault takes out Kwee-Wee AND the cameraman. That had to be 12-15 feet out. Both men back in, quick cover, Kwee-Wee’s foot on the rope. Skipper goes for the Overdrive (which looked like the Playmaker), but Kwee-Wee counters with a sit-out powerbomb. The Natural Born Thrillers come to the stage. Kwee-Wee’s second personality is somewhat angry, I guess. Thesz press, dropkick, cover, Skipper’s in the rope. Back bodydrop for 2 more. Kwee-Wee throws him over, and Skipper rolls knee-first into the rail. Kwee-Wee then drops him on the rail head first. One of the Thrillers, Mike Sanders, runs in and hits Kwee-Wee with a bat, giving Skipper time to recover. Top-rope crossbody rolled through for 2. Skipper does a Matrix-like move to avoid a strike, then dives at the knee and hits the Playmaker … er, the Overdirve … for the win.

WINNER: Prime Time, 11:03.

TECHNICAL MERIT: Good. ARTISTIC IMPRESSION: Random run-in made no sense…?

TOTAL SCORE: **1/2 WATCH OR SKIP: Watch this one.

LOVE the cruiserweights, even when I’m not entirely sure who they are. Speaking of cruiserweights …

3 Count FB2K

3 COUNT IN THE HOUSE!!! Clearly Shannon Moore‘s Ink, Inc. phase in TNA was a backlash to this. Also, according to “Sugar” Shane Helms, “EVERYBODY goes down for 3 Count!” Well, then. Now for their new single, “I Can’t Get You Out Of My Heart.” Schiavone doesn’t like them. I don’t like him right now. Best. Gimmick. Ever. Only missing Evan Karagias saying they’ll improve upon their platinum record by going gold next time. ****1/2 The Misfits In Action interrupt the encore. I recognize Chavo Guerrero; that’s about it. Though I guess Cajun could be Lash LeRoux?

3 COUNT (Shane Helms, Evan Karagias, Shannon Moore) vs. MISFITS IN ACTION (Corporal Cajun, Lt. Loco and Sgt. A-Wall)

Chavo … I mean Lieutenant Loco … starts with Moore. Weird misstep early, but Chavo makes up for it quickly with a sick throw. Tag to Cajun … Moore kind of hits a moonsault for 1. Tag to Karagias, who clearly is the inspiration for John Morrison‘s upper-body fitness goals. Helms and A-Wall enter, and A-Wall hits a Gorilla Press Spinebuster. THROW IT DOWN, BIG MAN! Tag to Cajun, and Karagias trips him up from outside. A cluster of double-team action, and Shannon and Shane hit a Samoan drop neckbreaker. Fame Asser variation (called the Show Stopper) by Moore for 2 at the 4-minute mark. Karagias in. Vertical suplex into a top-rope crossbody. Great double-team work. OK, Madden refers to Cajun as “LeRoux”, confirming my suspicion. Also, Lash LeRoux is 37 years old NOW. Karagias powerslam, then comes up a bit short with an elbow drop for 2. Helms reaches for a diving sunset flip. Russian legsweep, tag to Moore, backbreaker into a 180 top-rope splash. Madden calls it the “tumbleweed body press” to mock Hudson. MIA trying to get the ref’s attention … you know how that goes. Moore misses a splash. Springboard facebuster from LeRoux. Stereo tags; A-Wall in and hits a big boot on Moore. Backbreaker on Karagias. This guy is EXTREMELY over. Helms hits the great equalizer, the first of many. Moore springboard moonsault over a table onto LeRoux outside. Chavo dives onto Helms. Karagias onto LeRoux and Chavo. Helms goes for his turn, but A-Wall intercepts him. Goes for the apron chokeslam, but the rest of the team blocks it long enough for Helms to superkick him through the table. Chavo ducks a double-team, Karagias puts him in a full to set up the superkick again, but Chavo ducks and Helms hits Karagias. Dropkick on Helms, and Chavo counters a Moore hurricanrana attempt into a sit-out powerbomb broken up by Helms. 3 Count tries to suplex two MIA, but no dice. Chavo and LeRoux try to suplex Karagias, but he counters with a double DDT. Double cover; A-Wall pulls them out of the ring. I don’t think the term “legal men” applies anymore. LeRoux hits his finisher (a Samoan driver) on Helms for the pin.

WINNERS: MIA, 10:23.

TECHNICAL MERIT: A few misses dock them, but not by much. ARTISTIC IMPRESSION: The story is these guys can wrestle.

TOTAL SCORE: ***1/4. WATCH OR SKIP: Definitely watch.

That was fun, even if it was a clusterfuck at the end. Fantastic double-team action, and the chaos in the latter portion really helped ramp things up. It was clear 3 Count could work, which certainly added to the gimmick.

The champ is on the premises, and a kid wants an autograph. He only has $1.50, so Nash suggests the kid go buy a soda instead. HEEL WORK: ***1/2

Oh, these big sons-of-bitches. Followed by more big sons-of-bitches. Brian Adams suggests they up the ante and make it a First Blood match with the chains. Oh boy.

THE HARRIS BROTHERS vs. KRONIK (Brian Adams & Bryan Clark), First Blood Chain Match

David Pinzer takes a bump about 15 seconds in. Because that was necessary. So the guys are paired off and chained together, and the first guy to blade get busted open loses. Clark and one of the twins (guess it’s Don) go over the rail; Adams and Ron follow. Hudson: “We’re not gonna see hip tosses and go-behinds here.” No shit? Adam Bomb (Clark) decides the chain isn’t enough, so he grabs a chair. Ron chokes Crush (Adams) with the chain in the ring. Don (I think) tees off on Clark, and the ref takes a bump with the other chain. Clark with the great equalizer, then uses some TV-MA language. “Get your ass up. I’m gonna knock you out. Come here fucker. I got something for your ass.” Then he punches him in the face, which is nowhere near the ass. Don equalizes on Clark. Ron has a chained bat and tees off on both men, freeing himself along the way, but he’s bleeding so the match should be over. The ref comes to, and since Adams by now is busted open, the twins win.

WINNERS: Harris Brothers, 6:37.

TECHNICAL MERIT: Technique? ARTISTIC IMPRESSION: Art?

TOTAL SCORE: 1/2*. WATCH OR SKIP? Skip.

General Rection (you may know him as Hugh Morrus or Bill DeMott) cuts a passionate, patriotic promo on Lance Storm. He’ll bring the United States Championship and Major Gunns back to the good ol’ U.S. and A. He gives a “Duggan shoutout, then “HOOOOOOOOOOO!” Apparently he’s the special enforcer, and there are no “Canadian Rules.” Now the Canadian U.S. champ prepares for the match.

“If I can be serious for a minute … I stand here tonight with mixed emotions. I am so close, yet so far from home. I can’t believe living this close to the greatest country in the world, you all haven’t packed up and moved north of the border by now. Well tonight is your opportunity. After I defeat General Rection in this ring in front of that has-been hero Jim Duggan, I invite you all to join me for the drive up to Kitchener, Ontario, for Nitro, because after you get a taste of the good life, you’ll be applying for citizenship, and you’ll never come back to this hellhole. Show some class! All rise for the playing of the Canadian national anthem!” STORM PROMO: ****1/4

LANCE STORM (c, w/Major Gunns) vs. GENERAL RECTION, U.S. Heavyweight Championship; Hacksaw Jim Duggan special enforcer

This is like a ridiculous version of the U.S. vs. Canada bit the WWF did 3 years prior. The General with the early advantage. Storm goes for a crucifix, but Rection turns it into a slam. Storm scoop slams Rection, an impressive feat considering he was right around 300 pounds 136 kg. Superplex from General for 2 about 2 minutes in. Storm with “the great equalizer, the mule kick.” Schiavone’s words this time, not mine. That gives Lance the advantage, and he hits the springboard crossbody. Meanwhile, Duggan pretends his 2×4 is a machine gun. Cool story, bro. He distracts Storm long enough for Rection to get a shot in and get them back in the ring. Powerslam for 2. Crossbody caught, knee to the gut, gutwrench sit-out powerbomb for 2. Suplex countered by Storm. Storm counters a kick and hits a dragon screw. Rection avoids the submission hold and hits a release German, then clotheslines Storm out. Duggan tosses Storm back in for a scoop slam, and Duggan asks for No Laughing Matter. Rection goes up … and Duggan hits him with the 2×4! Storm goes for a half-crab, but Rection’s already out. The ref calls for the bell, then Duggan pushes the ref out and takes off his ref’s shirt to reveal a Canada shirt. No, seriously. This happened.

Duggan FB2K

MIA runs in, and Hacksaw beats them down. Hudson: “Damn you, Jim Duggan! Damn you to Canada!”

WINNER: Storm, 6:46 to retain the title

TECHNICAL MERIT: Solid. ARTISTIC IMPRESSION: LOL WCW swerve.

TOTAL SCORE: **1/2. WATCH OR SKIP? Watch.

This was a good match that could’ve gone longer, but they came out quickly, knowing what time they had, and impressed. Not sure what benefit there is to having Jim Duggan turn heel, though?

Thrillers are in the back. After Sanders says something, Mean Gene Okerlund calls Sanders a prick, refers to the group as piss-ants, then tells Sean O’Haire to blow it out his ass. That was … odd. Up next is some form of elimination match, and The Filthy Animals have a surprise. Konnan, as only he can, introduces … Mr. Wonderful?! YES! YES! YES!

NATURAL BORN THRILLERS (Mark Jindrak, Sean O’Haire, Chuck Palumbo, Mike Sanders, Johnny The Bull & Reno) vs. THE FILTHY ANIMALS (Konnan, Disco Inferno, Rey Mysterio, Juventud Guerrera & Big Vito, w/Tigress) & PAUL ORNDORFF, elimination match

UNMASKED REY MYSTERIO ALERT!!! He has facial hair. It’s as ridiculous as you think.

Mysterio FB2K

Apparently this is Mark Jindrak with him. Rey Rey hits a guillotine legdrop while Jindrak is stuck in the ropes. Jindrak counters a springboard attack with a slam, then tags to O’Haire. Rey tags to Juventud Guerrera, who uses some classic cruiserweight offense. Then the meathead catches him, lifts him for a vertical suplex but bombs him for a cover. Not bad. Jindrak in, then hot tag to Big Vito until Disco Inferno tags himself in. Clearly Jindrak and O’Haire are the workers of the NBT. “Best shape of his life” line on Orndorff from Hudson. (Hint: That means he’s not). Hot tag to K-Dogg, but O’Haire clotheslines Konnan’s stomach. Little bit of chaos now, and K-Dogg runs into Disco, who stuns him for the elimination. KONNAN OUT at 5:58

Johnny The Bull in. Nice leap straight to the top rope, but misses the spinning top-rope legdrop. Disco looks for a tag, but Vito slaps him and some dude named Reno finishes him off. DISCO OUT at 6:51

Reno and Vito trade some blows, then Vito hits a superkick. Chuck Palumbo blind tag, but he gets the Big Vito Special. Save by Johnny. Orndorff gives Vito the stickball bat that Sanders used to beat Kwee-Wee earlier. Vito gets hit with a kendo stick in the corner, then Reno hits Cross Rhodes for the pin. BIG VITO OUT at 8:38

Mr. Wonderful calls on Rey and Juvi to regroup. Juvi slaps Reno around, hits a kick, nails a spinning butt bump from the corner and tags Rey. Rey splash, then Juvi springboards off Rey for a high knee. Juvi Driver on Reno, then Rey with a legdrop from the top to the jewels. It’s 5-on-3 now. RENO OUT at 10:43

Jindrak and O’Haire come out to beat up the tag team champs. Rey lands on his back outside. Juvi with a top-rope dropkick onto O’Haire. Springboard crossbody outside, but the meatheads catch him, drop him onto the rail, then hiptoss him from the floor into the ring. O’Haire with the swanton for 3. Not bad for a big man. JUVI OUT at 12:07

Mr. Wonderful sneaks in and generates some offense, but Johnny The Bull and a kendo stick take advantage. Orndorff gets the stick and just starts smacking the shit out of him. Orndorff hits the piledriver for the pin. JOHNNY THE BULL OUT at 13:27

The meatheads back to work, this time on Orndorff. Jindrak goes for a splash to no avail. O’Haire does some impressive swings and misses, and Jindrak follows suit. Another piledriver after a struggle, but Orndorff falls over and looks hurt. Maybe his back? O’Haire pins him. ORNDORFF OUT at 14:51

Rey uses Tigress to hit O’Haire, and she puts the boots to Jindrak. Bronco Buster to Jindrak, then Tigress follows. Tigress slaps Sanders, then she hits the X-Factor. Palumbo comes in and Rey hits a facebuster on him. They’re wrestling around Orndorff until Charles Robinson just calls for the bell.

RESULT: No contest, 16:36, due to a legit Orndorff neck injury in the ring.

TECHNICAL MERIT: Pleasantly surprised. ARTISTIC IMPRESSION: Meh.

TOTAL SCORE: **1/4. WATCH OR SKIP? Watch to see unmasked Rey.

It looked like they were building toward something until Orndorff’s injury. Before then, meh. A way to get 12 guys, including the tag team champions, into a match.

KIDMAN IN THE HOUSE!!! (Cruiserweight mark-out moment) Kidman promos on Torrie Wilson and calls her a bitch. That’s awkward … then Madusa has some choice words. Torrie and The Franchise come out. I’ve never been impressed with Shane Douglas, to be honest, and his promo kind of … sucked. Apparently he’s afraid of heights. That doesn’t suck.

SHANE DOUGLAS & TORRIE WILSON vs. KIDMAN & MADUSA, Pittsburgh Plunge Scaffold Match

They’re “20 feet high” right now. Back bodydrop and a snapmare in the first few seconds; I expect a lot of those. Madusa puts the boots to Douglas, but Shane gets up and hits Kidman. Madusa misses an enziguiri, and Douglas puts the STF on her. The ladies head toward the ladders, and Kidman sees Torrie. Douglas powerslams him. Goes for a piledriver, but Kidman hits the backdrop, and a sit-out powerbomb a few seconds later. Ladder obstacle: The high-impact moves apparently shake it, preventing the females from climbing down. She’s going down now. Madden made the blowjob joke already. Douglas kicks her in the head, but Madusa gets the grapefruit clutch. Douglas keeps kicking, and Madusa falls off near the 4-minute mark. Apparently since she didn’t “climb” down, her team didn’t win. Okie dokie. Now it’s 2-on-1, though Torrie isn’t really doing anything. OK, she was there for the low blow, and Douglas tosses him off for a well-protected landing. Once Torrie climbs down, it’s official.

WINNERS: Franchise and Torrie, 6:15

TECHNICAL MERIT: Again, technique? ARTISTIC IMPRESSION: I’m sure it’s artistic for some.

TOTAL SCORE: 1/4*. WATCH OR SKIP? Skip.

That was worse than the chain match. Too gimmicky, too skeezy, too … stupid.

Sting cuts a promo, but Jeff Jarrett ambushes him while wearing a Frank Wycheck jersey. (Go Titans!) The Tennessee-Buffalo “Music City Miracle” bit comes into play later.

Jarrett FB2K

Now a recorded spot with Mike Tenay at David Flair‘s house. Flair isn’t taking being left at the altar by Stacy Keibler very well. Also, apparently, he didn’t make her baby. That’s a double-whammy, right? Tenay keeps asking about who the father might be. THEN it gets a little weird.

David: “Reid!”

Tenay: “Reid? Reid who?”

David: “My brother! I’ve seen the way he looks at her, the way he talks to her…”

Tenay: “Your brother Reid is 11 years old!”

David: “I’ve seen the things he does, and you don’t!”

Apparently, there’s a chance it’s Ric. The mailman comes and jovially tries to deliver David’s mail, but he gets a clothesline and a Figure Four for his efforts. I thought things couldn’t get worse than that segment, but the Insane Clown Posse are on my screen. What. The. Fuck. AND THEY’RE TAKING OVER THE BOOTH! I hate this show.

STING vs. VAMPIRO vs. THE GREAT MUTA

Whole lot of face paint in this one. And maybe the worst commentary I’ve heard in my life. And you’re using Sting and Muta this way? In the meantime, this match is just not technically sound. Muta hits an actually decent moonsault, Vampiro pulls him off, they fight a bit, the ICP come in to restore order, then Sting comes in with a bat, hits the Scorpion Deathdrop and ends this fucking piece of shit monstrosity.

WINNER: Sting, 5:10.

TECHNICAL MERIT: Shit. ARTISTIC IMPRESSION: I said “fucking piece of shit monstrosity” already, right?

TOTAL SCORE: (minus)*. WATCH OR SKIP? Do you have to ask?

Now we get some bit with “That ’70s Guy” Mike Awesome and Gary Coleman. Poor use of both. Now Double J and Slap Nuts to save the day. Jarrett parks in front of the Buffalo Bills in the front row, gets in, grabs a mic and cuts a HELL of a heel promo on the Bills and Buffalo fans. Can I give more than five stars? Yes. Yes I can. HEEL SPORTS PROMO: *****1/2

JEFF JARRETT vs. “That ’70s Guy” MIKE AWESOME, Bunkhouse Brawl

Nice Barry White knockoff for the entrance music. Nice hair, too. Awesome whips Jarrett into the barricade in front of the Bills. Twice. Lot of choking early on, first with a bullrope, then a leather strap. Broom to the gut, then the back. Awesome responds with a branding iron. Chair standoff won by Awesome at 2:15. Jarrett placed on a table a minute later, but intercepts Awesome up top. Goes for a table superplex, but blocked. Awesome Bomb attempt blocked, and Jarrett backdrops him shoulder-first into the table. Broom shot, and now we have a barbed-wire table. Head into the buckle on the other side. Awesome slides and misses the table, then Awesome whips him in back first, then head first. Awesome Bomb for 2 1/2. Awesome misses a top-rope splash, and Jarrett heels some more on the Bills, who decide they’ve had enough. They’re serving as lumberjacks on the apron now. Another Awesome Bomb for 2 1/2. Jarrett escapes a running Awesome Bomb attempt, but Jarrett hits a mule kick. How many nutshots can one PPV have? Jarrett grabs Slap Nuts, but Gary Coleman’s here for a run-in for a series of low blows. Apparently, you can always have more. Coleman celebrates, then gets the guitar. Thank. God. GUITAR SHOT: ****1/2 Jarrett goes for The Stroke, but Sting runs in and hits the Scorpion Deathdrop. Awesome finally gets the pin.

WINNER: Awesome, 9:05.

TECHNICAL MERIT: I guess there may have been some. ARTISTIC IMPRESSION: Cool story with Jarrett, the Bills, etc.

TOTAL SCORE: *3/4. WATCH OR SKIP? Skip.

There were fun moments, but just too many run-ins and other crap going on.

Steiner-Goldberg rewind. Okerlund calling it Godzilla vs. King Kong. Scott Steiner trying to use his best Brock Lesnar voice for this promo. He finishes with, “I’m a loaded sex pistol, and I’m ready to explode!” Shouldn’t you take care of that before the match?

SCOTT STEINER vs. GOLDBERG, No-DQ match

Steiner is masked due to a lead-pipe shot to the nose, and Goldberg’s right elbow is taped. They circle each other for almost a minute, then Goldberg hits a shoulder block and a Gorilla Press into a front shoulder slam. Steiner retreats, then baits Goldberg outside for a rail whip. Underhook suplex from Goldberg at about 3:00; cutter from Steiner at 3:30. Belly-to-belly for 2. Piledriver attempt reversed by Goldberg into a slam. Spear misses, but Goldberg avoids the post. Steiner up top; Goldberg catches him and slams him. Steiner rolls out again, and he whips Goldberg into the steps. Midajah comes out with some sort of implement. Steiner uses a chair, returns inside, then puts Goldberg in the Tree of Woe for repeated chair shots. Suplex, then the pushups. Backbreaker, cover. Full nelson, Goldberg escapes, but a belly-to-belly from Steiner. Midajah hands Steiner her lead pipe, but Goldberg hits the spear. Sets up for the Jackhammer, but Vince Russo runs in with a bat. Steiner covers, but Goldberg kicks out. “ASS-HOLE!” chant for Russo. Steiner tosses Goldberg out and Russo pokes him long enough to divert his attention. Steiner puts in work outside, then with Midajah’s help sets up a table. Basic bodyslam through said table. Rolls him back in, then slaps on the Recliner. Goldberg crawls out and gets to the rope, but Midajah kicks his hand off. Goldberg sneaks out the back and sets up for an electric chair, then drops him forward on/near the rope. Steiner lands on his feet and goes after Goldberg in the corner. Goldberg headbutts free, but Midajah and Russo trade shots from outside. Super belly-to-belly and cover for 2 7/8. Back to the Recliner, back to the rope. Goldberg uses his momentum to dump Steiner out. Steiner grabs a chair, but Goldberg blocks and hits a neckbreaker. Russo tries to intercept the spear, and Goldberg gets his hands on him. Steiner with a couple more pipe shots, and I think the third Recliner will be the charm, since Goldberg is knocked out.

WINNER: Steiner, 13:50

TECHNICAL MERIT: OK match for two muscle-bound guys. ARTISTIC IMPRESSION: Sporadic.

TOTAL SCORE: *3/4. WATCH OR SKIP? Probably skip, actually.

It was vintage end-of-WCW with the constant outside interference. At least the shots were above the belt, so that’s an improvement.

Booker T. with a promo and his new apparent catchphrase: “Don’t hate the player, hate the game.”

MICHAEL BUFFER‘S BACK!!! That’s the highlight of the third hour, I think. Also, we might have 10 minutes left for the main event. That’s not good.

KEVIN NASH (c) vs. BOOKER T., WCW World Heavyweight Championship; steel cage match

Nash with a slam early. Whips, buckle charge, etc. Some strikes, then Booker gets out. Nash big boot blocks Booker’s charge, then a clothesline and a cover. Rest hold already, then a side slam and a cover. Nash rips off the turnbuckle pad and goes for snake eyes, but Booker puts on the brakes and shoves Nash into it. Booker has the advantage, and he hits the axe kick. Bookend blocked, big boot, and a chokeslam. Both men down for the count 4 minutes in. Cover for 2. Nash tries to use the cage to his advantage, but he’s blocked. They reverse roles. Booker bashes Nash’s head into the exposed turnbuckle, punches him a few times, then rakes his head across the cage. Nine punches in the corner, but a low blow to counter. You expected otherwise? Goes for the Jackknife, but Booker grabs the cage. Missile dropkick for 2. Clothesline from Nash, who drapes an arm over for 2 1/2. Booker tees off on Nash again, then yet another low blow. Big boot, but Nash can barely stand. Straps down, Jackknife, but Booker lands on his feet. Bookend for 3.

Booker T FB2K

WINNER: Booker T, 9:02, to win the title.

TECHNICAL MERIT: Average at best. ARTISTIC IMPRESSION: Rushed.

TOTAL SCORE: *1/2. WATCH OR SKIP? Skip it.

This didn’t feel like a big match at all, especially with all the other stipulations involved all night. Plus, 9 minutes for a world title match? That’s shorter than five other matches on the card. The Cruiserweight title match was longer than the World title match. Really?

Final analysis: This show showcased many of the things wrong with WCW, and the undercard was filled with quality workers who put on matches worth watching. It wasn’t really worthwhile, unless you REALLY like cruiserweight wrestling. Then watch the first hour and bail.

RAW 03/24: Reality bites

Triple H is about buzzwords. It makes sense in a world where catchphrases quite possibly are the most important things a man can have. He and his wife, Stephanie McMahon, coined The Authority shortly after becoming heel power figures and screwing a certain goat-faced troll out of the WWE Championship. Hunter’s new buzzword: The Reality Era.

The “reality” in this case is Triple H will end the #YESMovement at WrestleMania by defeating Daniel Bryan. The reality is people living off past glory (Batista) or still-untapped potential (Randy Orton) can’t stop him. The reality is he’ll become WWE World Heavyweight Champion and become some sort of manly role model so fans will have bloodlust again and not tweet their displeasures to him. Or something like that.

The reality is RAW sucked last night.

Tuesday AM in the Mountain Time Zone was far from a quality TV viewing span for The Champ. How I Met Your Mother? Limping to the finish line in so many ways. The 100 on CW? Wifey cued it up on Hulu and I got through one segment, which is more than you should. A Monday Night RAW during WrestleMania season surely will be the saving grace, right?

Ambrose nope

The items that were worthwhile involved a fatal four-way No. 1 contender match for the Intercontinental Championship, which on Hulu Plus lasted all of 5 minutes; a decent tag match involving The Shield and The Real Americans that finally picked up when Seth Rollins started doing Seth Rollins things; and John Cena tied up in the ropes wearing Erick Rowan‘s sheep mask after a no-contest match against Luke Harper.

Cena sheep

Besides that, you probably can skip it all. Oh, and Batista finally wore jeans that fit … and split them.

Bray Wyatt’s sermon this week

“People don’t usually believe in things they cannot see or things they cannot touch. It is human nature, after all, but in the case of John Cena, we all see him. I mean, how can you possibly miss his billboards and infomercials   being shoved down your throat every day? We see you. But wheat I was wondering was have you ever taken the time, John, to see me? What I really am. I am the way into the city of woe. I am the way into eternal pain. I am the way to go among the lost. Beyond time I stand!. … What could you possibly do to harm something that just can’t feel?”

Not his finest work, but short, sweet and very Bray Wyatt-esque. PROMO: ***1/2

Streak vs. Gimmick

We get how The Undertaker‘s streak at WrestleMania is sacred. We get how awesome his matches are each year to “preserve” that streak. We get that it probably shouldn’t be broken, even though it’s a simulated winning streak in a simulated athletic universe. We get thatBrock Lesnar won’t break the streak, especially after Monday’s performance that saw Taker get the upper hand on him once again — seriously, would it be all that bad to make the streak at least appear to be in jeopardy?

That stuff only bothers me a little bit. It’s whatever. I know I’ll watch and be blown away in a couple weeks. What bothers me is the time and energy devoted to a gimmick years past its expiration date.

Fans get a nostalgia rush from Taker, which notably was missing from the Hulk Hogan segment with Arnold Schwarzenegger, two of my favorite stars of all time. They love the whole Deadman bit, the darkness and the mysticism. But when they brought out the druids and the casket and the whole nine Monday, it felt … long and drawn out. The entrance was long enough to take a leak, make a sandwich and *still* not miss anything. The mind game with Lesnar, where Lesnar did the whole meathead bit and kicked the casket and opened it to find nobody and later Taker showed up inside, seemed overdone — and done many times before. There’s just something hollow about the setup to this match, since usually one or both men can’t even be bothered to show up most weeks. It started strong, but the story is limping along.

And going over-the-top “Old School” won’t save it.

 

NXT 03/20: Watch the women work

NXT provides things the traditional WWE product simply can’t or doesn’t: New, fresh characters. Compelling matches that aren’t so formulaic. A much more embraced mix of styles and sizes. Guys who are still hungry and put out their best work every week (except for maybe Bo Dallas).

Women who can wrestle.

Females have found a niche within the NXT universe, and it’s not based on some pre-packaged style. It’s based on the substance that comes from finding women who either (1) know their way around a wrestling ring, or (2) are visibly trying to figure it out. The women’s matches aren’t some obligatory filler to plug some bullshit reality show on the E! Network. They’re a fixture in the second or semi-main spot to enhance the product on the WWE Network.

I’ve only been an NXT regular for about four weeks, with some sporadic views before. I’ve seen Paige and Emma put on an absolutely outstanding pro wrestling display at NXT ArRIVAL (full review of that show here). I saw Paige and Sasha Banks put on the Match of the Night last week. And this week I saw Bayley defeat Banks in a 4 1/2-minute match that packed more true action than any main-roster “Divas” match I’ve seen in years — and it’s the second-lowest rated NXT female match since the Network launch.

BAYLEY (w/Natalya) vs. SASHA BANKS (w/Charlotte)

Bayley with a full nelson, snapmare and shoulder block about 45 seconds in. Sasha gets a shot in, then back to the full. Sasha climbs the ropes so she’s parallel to the canvas, and Bayley provides a clean break by just dropping her. Then she steals Sasha’s shades and mocks her. Snakeeyes into the buckle, but misses with the splash. Sasha dropkicks her in the back in the corner, then the Lou Thesz press and repeated head bashes into the mat. Sasha tosses Bayley across the ring, cover. Stays on her, covers again. Rear chinlock. Bayley gets out, and Sasha puts the boots to her. Bayley blocks a punch and gets a few forearms. Bayley goes for a dropkick, but Sasha puts on the brakes, then throws her to the floor. Bayley back to the apron and applies a shoulder to the gut upon re-entry as Charlotte attacks Nattie outside. Bayley turns around and Sasha rolls her up, but Bayley keeps rolling and gets the 3.

TECHNICAL MERIT: Not bad! ARTISTIC IMPRESSION: I’ll take it. TOTAL SCORE: **

This match had comedy, some outside shenanigans, a surprise finish and some good, basic wrestling maneuvers. I absolutely LOVE Bayley’s character. She’s completely socially awkward but athletic, and the kind-of “aw shucks” cuteness certainly doesn’t hurt. Sasha plays the boss-bitch role well while continually falling just short of getting a win.

So we have Paige, the WWE’s best female performer at this moment. We have Emma and Bayley as awkward, comedic faces who are deceptively skilled. And we have Sasha Banks as the top heel with a mean streak. Those four could enhance the in-ring content on RAW or SmackDown immediately, but I’m kind of glad they’re not up on the main roster (or up full-time in Emma’s case). You could take those four, add them to A.J. Lee and Natalya, develop Charlotte (Ric Flair‘s daughter) and throw a Godfather offer at Beth Phoenix to come back, and women’s wrestling would MATTER.

I didn’t use to give two shits about women’s wrestling. Since Trish Stratus and Lita left (and even Phoenix and Michelle McCool, who was a great heel), it’s been eye candy to pass the time between matches people actually want to watch. Now that I’ve seen the talent WWE actually possesses, I want to see more.

And it’s frustrating that their best work probably will be viewed by thousands of educated fans instead of millions. 

*gets off soapbox* Now on to the MATCH OF THE NIGHT:

SHEAMUS vs. AIDEN ENGLISH

TECHNICAL MERIT: Elementary, yet effective. ARTISTIC IMPRESSION: Fun story balanced with serious competition. TOTAL SCORE: ***1/4

Sheamus performed expertly as the face in peril and made Aiden English, who at first glance looks like he belongs nowhere near a wrestling ring, look very strong in this nearly-10-minute main event. English’s ring attire is awesome. VELVET TIGHTS: ****1/2 So many glimpses of momentum were stopped by one hard hit from the heel English until Sheamus finally got things going. English keeps the moveset simple, relying on strikes and a few holds, but when someone will sell for you, that’s all you need to look devastating. There was a nice little comedy to set up the match that included Sheamus questioning whether English’s “stones” had actually dropped, and later had both men singing. SHEAMUS VOCAL PERFORMANCE: ***1/2 But when things got serious, both men delivered. Sheamus looked refreshed, like he was having fun, and he had the best full-length singles match I’ve seen from him in a while.

The rest of the show was OK. Mojo Rawley had a quick match that seemed more about getting New England Patriots tight end/perfect “Get Hyped, Stay Hyped” spokesman Rob Gronkowski over than actually focusing on wrestling.

MOJO RAWLEY vs. BULL DEMPSEY

TECHNICAL MERIT: A butt drop was the finisher. ARTISTIC IMPRESSION: At least some back-and-forth. TOTAL SCORE: *1/4.

Mojo’s ass provided the final two moves of the match. On the bright side, he operates out of a four-point stance instead of the three-point seemingly required of any professional wrestler who ever played high-level football. Dempsey looked like some keg-bellied jobber they pulled from some Florida honky tonk, but he set up Rawley’s comeback well.

Afterward, backstage to C.J. Parker, who is “shocked and sickened” by Rawley’s lifestyle choice … apparently he likes GMO-filled fast food. (Who doesn’t?) Parker says he’ll “humanely dispose of Mojo Rawley,” then recycles some crinkled-up paper. Besides the shock of a hippie who can’t work suddenly rocking a suit, it was a decent promo.

After a WrestleMania promo, we are honored to see Prince Pretty himself. Can we bring back the Dashing Cody Rhodes gimmick and either team these men up or make them square off in a “Not The Face/Selfie On A Pole” match? Something? Also, William Regal reports Tyler Breeze‘s boots and waistcoat are made from Peruvian chinchilla. So they’re soft, warm and breathable? BREEZE’S ATTIRE: ***** Form and function, people.

Sami Zayn comes out ready to face Breeze, but Corey Graves ruins the Real World Champ’s NXT Dream Match by ambushing him and ramming his head into the ringpost. I demand MORE Tyler Breeze and Sami Zayn, not less. (At least we get Breeze back in action next week).

ADAM ROSE vs. CAMACHO

TECHNICAL MERIT: A bit slow for most of it, with limited offense from Rose. ARTISTIC IMPRESSION: Decent story to show what actually brings out the mean streak. TOTAL SCORE: *3/4

Adam Rose the character is SO far ahead of Adam Rose the competitor at this juncture. By the way, ROSE ENTRANCE: ***** If he can find a way to just keep the action moving in the ring, Rose will more than carry his weight. Camacho has looked good the past couple weeks as a heel jobber to Adrian Neville and Rose. He gets in some offense to set up the comeback, then stares at the lights when it’s time.

Advertised for next week: Natalya vs. Charlotte, C.J. Parker vs. Mojo Rawley, Xavier Woods vs. Tyler Breeze, and Adrian Neville vs. Bo Dallas in a rematch for the title. It’s Vengeance Week on NXT, and I must say I appreciate the upcoming card.

World Championship Wednesday: SuperBrawl VI

Some people love the WWE Network because you can watch matches and events from the glory days of the WWF: The Rock N’ Wrestling Era, The Attitude Era, maybe even The New Generation.

Me? I’m simply stoked to watch WCW again.

As a result, here’s the first installment of World Championship Wednesday, a weekly pay-per-view review series on randomly selected WCW events — my wife gives a month and year, and I go for it. You’ll get a look at the card, some of the high/lowlights, and whether you should watch and enjoy or skip to the next contest.

This week: SUPERBRAWL VI (Feb. 11, 1996)

On the card: We get a Ric Flair-Randy Savage cage match for the title, and a Hulk Hogan-Giant cage match. Sting and Lex Luger vs. Harlem Heat for the tag titles, and the Road Warriors vs. the winners. Johnny B. Badd and Diamond Dallas Page for the TV title and some money stipulation. One Man Gang vs. Konnan for the US title, Nasty Boys vs. Public Enemy in a street fight, and The Taskmaster vs. Flyin’ Brian.

Tony Schiavone, Dusty Rhodes and Bobby Heenan announcing. This feels like a WCW pay-per-view. Also, it’s funny how different and kind-of cartoonish the characters are, especially considering what happens in the late spring and early summer. (If you don’t know, go watch Bash at the Beach. I’ll wait.)

We’ll start with a tag-team street fight. Falls count anywhere. Dusty: “We’re talking about a lot of clubbin’ goin’ on in this big confrontation right here!”

PUBLIC ENEMY vs. THE NASTY BOYS, Street Fight

Dusty: “No wrestling holds gonna be used in this one.” I don’t think they could use one anyway. The ring’s empty within about 20 seconds. Rocco Rock grabs a table about 45 seconds in, but Jerry Sags destroys him with five chair shots. He tees off on Johnny Grunge, but leaves the chair for Grunge to smack him thrice. Yes, I’m using thrice in a street fight commentary with four guys who couldn’t even say it. Sue me. Knobbs throws Rocco from the apron through a table on the floor. Grunge uses a chair to make the save. Sags grabs a trash can. Heenan: “That’s his lunch pail!” Piledriver on the trash can, which would’ve “hurt” Sags more, I think. Rope break on that cover. Split-screen action ensues … do we need two refs, since falls count anywhere? Anyway, outside, Knobbs suplexes Rocco through a table, then a couple chair shots and … an elbow drop? Knobbs tries to use a soda, but meets a trash can lid and a chair. Grunge bulldogs Sags onto the chair. Heenan: “This looks like last call at one of those honky tonks Dusty hangs out at!” Now a plastic trash can joins the fray, and yet another table. Rocco goes into the stands and goes for a front flip dive thing, but misses and goes through a table. Knobbs gets the pin. Not a wrestling clinic by any means.

WINNERS: Nasty Boys, 7:51.

TECHNICAL MERIT: Please. ARTISTIC IMPRESSION: Diff’rent strokes for diff’rent folks. TOTAL SCORE: 3/4*

WCW tried to copy ECW. Unsuccessfully. The only thing that made it worthwhile was the commentary. Heenan and Rhodes really shine; Schiavone stays out of the way and adds a bit.

WATCH OR SKIP? Skip unless you like hardcore matches without any cool hardcore spots.

Here’s Mean Gene Okerlund with the first of surely many hotline plugs on the night. Rumor mill: Two former WWF champions are coming to WCW? OK then. Now a Konnan promo, and he’s staring at the monitor. If you’re used to his gangsta gimmick, K-Dogg as a more traditional luchador is culture shock, to say the least.

I remember this:

Photo from imageevent.com
Photo from imageevent.com

Then see something more like this:

WWE.com photo
WWE.com photo

Confused? Me too.

Anyway, on the last World Championship Wednesday, Johnny B. Badd was a bikini contest judge with way too much makeup. Now he’s the TV champion and has The Diamond Doll (Kimberly Page) with him. Not bad at all. DOLL: ****1/4 

So the money stipulation apparently is $6.6 million? Well then, also a Linda Hogan sighting. DDP comes down the aisle with a dozen roses and no sign of denim. This is a disappointing double-take as well. Instead of this:

DDP photos from imageevent.com
DDP photos from imageevent.com

We unfortunately get something like this:

DDP 1996

JOHNNY B. BADD (c) vs. DIAMOND DALLAS PAGE, World Television Championship with The Diamond Doll and “$6.6 million” on the line

We find out the over-the-top-rope thing is still a DQ, but it didn’t apply when someone on the apron pulls someone over to the floor. Good to know. #WCWRuleProblems Nice leg drop from the apron back in from Mr. Mero, who, if I recall correctly, is headed to the WWF soon. Some spinning arm drag thing from Johnny, now a power struggle for the backslide. Johnny wins the battle, but not the match. Stun Gun from Page, who’s more preoccupied with showing off than competing. Elbow to the inner thigh…? Or maybe somewhere else, as he’s selling it. Waistlock pickup, holds Mero for a bit, and gutbuster. DDP apparently wants a 10 from Kimberly on what was an impressive move. Johnny wants a sunset flip and is blocked. Twice. Finally gets Page down for 2. Great DDT from DDP. Now he’s celebrating again. Kimberly gives him a zero and takes a swing. Page backs up, Mero trips him up for 2. Page wearing down Mero with the chinlock, using the middle rope for leverage. Twice. Thrice. Still hasn’t gotten caught. They go vertical, and Johnny escapes. Page goes for a side suplex, Mero lands on his feet and rolls up for 2. Page keeps going for 2. Johnny using the fists to drop DDP; WWF packaged him as a Golden Gloves guy a couple years later. Double ax-handle on target. Kimberly gives that a 10. Mero provides an elbow to the lower abdomen. Back up top, sunset flip, 2. Sit-down powerbomb for 2. DDP rolls to the apron, then introduces Johnny’s throat to the ropes. Sidenote: Dusty explaining anything anatomical is amazing. Another rollup from Johnny for 2. Page gets a cover, uses the ropes, gets 2. Flapjack from Page for 2. Sleeper now. Arm drops twice, then Mero hits a jawbreaker, then a sleeper of his own. Heenan: “That’s a choke.” The pro-heel agenda is intact. Piledriver attempt reversed by Mero into one of his own, and that’s enough.

WINNER: Mero, 14:58 to retain title; Kimberly gets her money back.

TECHNICAL MERIT: Good. ARTISTIC IMPRESSION: Decent. TOTAL SCORE: **1/2

Somewhat basic, but effective. So many stips involved, but they didn’t take away from the match itself.

WATCH OR SKIP? If you have 15 minutes, take a peek.

Back to Mean Gene and Harlem Heat. “Sucka” was used SO many times. Also, this was back in the BreatheRight days for Booker T. The first of two tag title bouts is next. Also, I LOVE the old WCW format of following the wrestlers down the ramp with one shot. It was like mini-promo time. Sting’s in his traditional look with black and red attire and paint, but darker hair. He and Booker start.

STING & LEX LUGER (c) vs. HARLEM HEAT, WCW Tag Team Championship

Stinger in control early until Booker wraps his legs around the head. Sting powers out. Headlock, tag to Luger, who turns on the power game, but Booker boots Luger in the head to counter a corner charge. Tag to Stevie, stereo elbows knock Lex down and eventually outside. Back in, immediate tag. Heenan calls it a smart move, which means the babyface Sting won’t like it. Stevie Ray puts the boots to Steve Borden, then knocks Luger off the apron. Hip toss/dropkick from Sting, but Stevie equalizes with a thumb to the eye. Tag to Booker. Couple kicks, strike, bulldog from Sting, then tag. Luger rakes Booker’s face across the top rope, then kicks him repeatedly in the corner. Pulls him out, kneelift, cover, 2. Suplex, cover, 2. Goes for some elbow drop thing, but is SO slow Booker escapes. Side salto, then he misses an elbow. Kick from Booker, then a tag. Powerful slam, then another, then a choke, then a choke across the middle rope. Clothesline, cover, 2. Tag to Booker. Luger kicks out of the corner, then one of the worst clotheslines I’ve ever seen. Well, at least since the last time I saw Luger. Tag to Stevie, who kicks Luger in the head. Variation of a powerbomb — throws Luger on his side. Cover, 2. Stevie’s squeezing the right deltoid, which wears Lex down. Luger back up, but not for long. Tag to Booker at about 9:30. Hits the scissor kick, but takes his time. Picks him up for a front facelock. Booker nails Sting to avoid the tag, then pummels Luger in the other corner. Back to a front facelock to keep Luger stationary. Tag, but ref doesn’t see it. That allows Stevie to get into the ring, and now all four men inside. Stinger Splash, Booker reverses a whip while Stevie pulls the top rope. Stevie picks Luger up … but Animal runs in and nails him in the stomach with a lead pipe. Hawk directs the ref back into the ring, and Luger flops onto Stevie for 3.

WINNERS: Sting and Luger, 11:49, new tag champs.

TECHNICAL MERIT: Decent. ARTISTIC IMPRESSION: Solid. TOTAL SCORE: **3/4

Good, solid tag match, with the LOD run-in to ensure Sting and Luger retain the belts. Sting’s happy, because he didn’t see what happened. They’ll face the Road Warriors later.

WATCH OR SKIP? Watch. Good tag team wrestling. Stevie Ray was maybe a bit underrated.

In the meantime, One Man Gang is looking to retain his gold for the Dungeon of Doom.

KONNAN (c) vs. ONE MAN GANG, United States Championship

Gang’s just beating the shit out of Konnan to start. K-Dogg dropkicks the leg a couple times, then a spinning kick. Missile dropkick, then charges him through the middle rope to the steps. Half-flip dive from the apron (Gang had to catch him). Gang guillotines Konnan on the rope. Back in, legdrop. Multiple chokes, breaking before 5. Side salto, then drops the fist across the face. K-Dogg starts to come back by “hittin’ him in the noggin. Fist him in the head!” The spurt is brief. STEVE GRISSOM IN THE HOUSE! #NASCARThrowback Gang maintained advantage, but Konnan gets away. Head-scissors, dropkick, but misses another. Gang with the 747 splash. Cover, 2 … picks him up. Oh my…goes for it from the middle rope and misses. Sloppy looking somersault from the top from the champ for 3.

WINNER: Konnan, 7:24, to retain.

TECHNICAL MERIT: Not exactly sound. ARTISTIC IMPRESSION: Meh. TOTAL SCORE: *1/4

WATCH OR SKIP? Nothing to see here. Skip

Another hotline plug, and the Road Warriors follow. Yelling ensues, and Hawk sounds drunk. “We’re gonna deviate your septums, detach your retinas, and other nasty things.” I’m … I’m not touching that one.

Up next: A strap/”I Quit” hybrid match. If one man says he respects the other, he loses.

THE TASKMASTER vs. FLYIN’ BRIAN (1:10:04), Strap/respect match

Brian Pillman sprints in, catching Kevin Sullivan by surprise. He gets some shots in, and Sullivan is just hanging onto his legs. Once Pillman gets free, he runs to the ref, grabs the mic. “I RESPECT YOU, BOOKER MAN!” Then he leaves and gives the finger halfway up the aisle. This, my friends, was a shoot, as The Masked Man eloquently covers here.

WINNER: “Booker Man”, :54.

Now Arn Anderson comes out in his finest Polo Ralph Lauren attire to save the segment, then gets strapped by Sullivan. Anderson takes this as “challenge accepted.”

ARN ANDERSON vs. THE TASKMASTER, same stip as before

Arn’s taking it to Sullivan, which is impressive since The Enforcer is in rose-colored shorts and something resembling hiking boots. Thumb to the eye, then goes 5-hole by pulling back on the strap. Taskmaster throws Arn into the corner, but Anderson gets control and knees Sullivan in the groin. Arn chokes him. They get to the floor, and Sullivan pulls him into the post. Arn returns the favor. Jimmy Hart brings Ric Flair out to break it up…? Apparently the Dungeon and the Horsemen are supposed to be on the same page — destroy Hogan and Savage. Flair keeps the peace, except for this shot at a fan: “Hey, if I want to talk to you, I’ll take your wife home and make a woman out of her!” FLAIR ONE-LINER: ****

Back to Mean Gene with a busy Jimmy Hart and The Giant. Paul Wight looked better with hair. Also, his promos were just ANGRY. “The last thing that’s gonna go through your mind … is MY FIST!” Jimmy Hart then disses the Hulkster’s non-wrestling career: “No more watching those B-grade flicks that you have out! No more Thunder In Paradise! And no matter seeing your face on WCW! *high-pitched cackle*!” HART ONE-LINER: ****1/2

I think that was about a half-hour break for the tag champs. Sting walks out quickly and well ahead of Luger, who’s taking his sweet time. After a seeming eternity of cat and mouse, where Luger just looks like a coward, the match finally begins.

STING & LEX LUGER (c) vs. THE ROAD WARRIORS, WCW Tag Team Championship

Sting and Hawk star, Hawk calls some spots. Shoulder block. Dropkick. Sting goes outside, takes a lap, lures Hawk in, then returns to the ring. Some grappling, then a snapmare from Hawk and a Regal stretch variation. Didn’t know he had it in him! Tag to Animal, who works Sting’s left arm. Sting escapes, tag. Animal gets control again with the usual power stuff, cover, 2. Tag to Hawk, couple punches in the buckle, then a whip and clothesline in the other one. Throws him through the ropes. Animal whips Luger into the steel barricade; Sting picks him up. Luger clotheslines Hawk, cover, tag. Vertical suplex, cover. Headlock, Hawk turns it into a cover. Back to the headlock. Hawk gets out and tags. Stinger with a shoulder block and “falls” into Animal’s not-lower-abdomen region. Tag to Luger, who suddenly wants to fight. Fumbles around, tries to pick Animal up and an inverted atomic drop (two botches on the night, if you’re scoring at home), then some stomps. Tag to Sting. Corner whip, ugly kick to gut, bulldog. Up top for a splash, but Animal blocks with the knees. Tags, but Hawk attacks Luger. Flying shoulder block. Legdrop, holds it to cover. Drops the fist. Twice. Then a chinlock with the knee into the upper back. Sleeper countered into a jawbreaker, tags. Stinger Splash into the Scorpion, but a clothesline from Hawk, who returns to the apron to get tagged in. Hawk wearing down Sting with holds on the mat. Hawk whips Sting, who goes for a sunset flip but gets blocked. He soon after gets a rollup to no avail, then gets clotheslined. Tag to Animal, who works the neck. Luger barges in, and Hawk joins him. Vertical suplex from Sting; Animal no sells it. They reverse roles. Animal with a dropkick, tag to Hawk from a neutral corner…? Luger gets back in, and Animal joins. Now all four men out, and they stay out. Lame. Ass. Finish.

RESULT: Double countout, 13:57.

TECHNICAL MERIT: Powerful, but not smooth. ARTISTIC IMPRESSION: Nothing spectacular. TOTAL SCORE: *3/4.

I barely paid attention, and then they cop out with the double countout. Dumb. Ass. Match.

WATCH OR SKIP? Skip

Back to Okerlund and Flair, who runs down Hogan, then Savage. Blood, sweat, tears, 3-way innuendo, etc.

The cage lowers for a pair of matches. In the meantime; a plug for Uncensored next month, then Okerlund with Elizabeth. For about a word, then the champ comes in. The Mega Powers are back together, and their forces are united to infinity and beyond.

Apparently the title match is the semi-main? #HulkRules Also, MICHAEL BUFFER IN THE HOUSE!!!

“MACHO MAN” RANDY SAVAGE (c, w/Elizabeth) vs. RIC FLAIR (w/Woman), Steel cage match for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship

Flair stalls for a couple minutes and finally enters. Savage attacks about 10 seconds before the bell rings. Flair gets a chop, but Savage quickly regains the advantage. Flair responds with a chop, then drops the knee. Throws Savage into the cage. Then he decks and stomps the ref out of nowhere. Savage with a backslide, but, well, there’s no ref. Couple clotheslines, and by that time the ref is back up. Savage chokes Flair, and the ref counts…? Now Savage works Flair in the corner and no count. WCW had a history of making things confusing. Flair throws Savage into the cage once more. Whip, back elbow, cover. Two chops, whip, hits the elbow. Flair has Savage between the ropes and the cage, and knocks him down. Flair up top … this always ends poorly. Savage goes for the Figure Four?! Flair’s shoulders hit the mat twice. He finally gets to the rope, and the ref kicks Flair’s arm off! A stern way of “no rope breaks in the cage.”

Couple kicks from Savage, chop from Flair, Savage knocks Flair down, cover. Slam. Then goes to the top of the cage. Flair gets up and is ready for a gut punch to counter the double ax-handle. Long vertical suplex. Slow cover. About four more covers, 2 each time. Flair throws Savage into the cage AGAIN, and Savage is draped over the top rope. Elbow drop. Figure Four, and Flair’s (legally) using the ropes for leverage. Savage gets to the ropes, then the cage. Flair keeps it on, and the ref pulls him off?! (OK, so the CAGE is a rope break? Or is the ref out of line?)

Flair gets Savage back into the middle for another Figure Four, but small package from Savage gets 2. Chop for punch trade, three times. Flair goes for the cage toss, but Savage reverses. Savage throws him again and rakes his face across the cage. Is Savage biting Flair? He throws him again. Ah, that’s what I thought. FLAIR CRIMSON MASK at 13:45. Savage gets 5 or 6 punches in the corner, but inverted atomic drop counter, and Flair does the face-first spot. Flair goes up, Savage pulls him by the trunks (the first of two ass-out spots for the Nature Boy), Flair fights him off, then crotches himself on the rope. Savage drapes the arm, cover, 2, but the bell rings. Act like it didn’t happen. Savage swings wildly and finds Flair, who hits the low blow. Stomps around a bit, then a choke. Ass-out spot No. 2. Savage gets up and bashes Flair’s head into the corner of the cage a few times. Flair fights him off again, then falls to the canvas. Savage tosses Flair into the cage. Flair tries to escape, but Savage catches him and knocks his head into the cage a few times. Cage door opens; ref shuts it. Savage ends up near the ropes, and Woman goes for the powder toss and misses.

Flair approaches the door. Elizabeth opens the door … and hands Flair her shoe! SWERVE: ****1/2 Savage goes for a cover, but Flair pegs him with said shoe. Cover, 3.

WINNER: Flair, 18:47, to begin his 13th WCW title reign.

TECHNICAL MERIT: Well done as usual. ARTISTIC IMPRESSION: Liked the swerve. TOTAL SCORE: ***1/2

Good title match, and nice swerve from Liz to help Flair get the gold once more.

WATCH OR SKIP? Watch

After Hogan ran down to the ring with a chair, then went to the back for a yelling interview … “Liz is a turncoat, brother, brother, brother, etc.” … he comes back out for the main event with a patched left eye, several bandages and only 274 pounds of body weight. He really did look better during his WCW run; it’s amazing what going OFF steroids can do for you.

Sports Illustrated photo
Sports Illustrated photo

HULK HOGAN vs. THE GIANT, steel cage match

Hulkster with some fists and a bite. Also, apparently this was during the “Giant is André’s kid” phase. #TooSoon Meanwhile, Hogan over Giant for 15 punches and a bite in the corner. SPOILER ALERT: There are four more bites in this match from Hogan alone. He tries to step on Giant and over, then resorts to the bite. Maybe an eye for an eye? Back rake, then he chokes him with the T-shirt. Bandana’s off…he means business.

Went for the slam to no avail. Giant tees off on Hogan’s back. Whip into the buckle, kick to the gut, back to the back. Stomps one of the injured hands twice, then goes into a Greco-Roman knucklelock. That’ll wear Hogan down *and* affect the injured hands. That, my friends, is ring psychology. Hogan gets a hand free, but Giant just kicks him around. Now a bear hug, countered with a bite. Tries to bash Giant’s head into the cage, but Giant reverses. Now he chokes Hogan with the shirt. Chop, corner whip, kick to the chest, elbow to the back of the head. Chop, then he finally starts going for Hogan’s left eye. Big elbow drop misses. Three big punches from Hogan, then calls for the slam. Eye rake and picks Giant up, but Giant falls across his chest, gets up and puts his boot on Hogan’s throat. STEEEEE-RIKE TWO!

Returns to the back. Corner whip, kick to the chest again. Maybe we’ve seen all of Giant’s move set? Well, toss the foe into the cage is a new one. Vertical suplex. Cage door opens, Hogan prevents Giant from exiting. Irish whip reversed, Giant scoops him up for the backbreaker. Another cage toss, then another. Then another. Back to the bear hug. After a minute or two, Hogan punches his way free, shoulder charge, then takes a shot to the gut, then back to the back. Giant chokes for a bit, then kind of botches the chokeslam. Like, really botches it. Hogan pops back up and starts Hulking up. The finishing sequence: Three punches, cage toss, bite No. 5, cage toss, cage toss, cage toss, cage toss, cage toss, cage toss, whip, big boot, still up, eye rake, bodyslam, legdrop, leg drop, leg drop. Climbs the cage, Giant cuts him off. They trade chops on the top buckle, and Hogan finally knocks him off. Over the cage and down, right into a Sullivan chair shot.

WINNER: Hogan, 15:05.

TECHNICAL MERIT: It’s a Hogan match. ARTISTIC IMPRESSION: It’s a Hogan match. TOTAL SCORE: **

WATCH OR SKIP? You’ve seen one Hogan cage match, you’ve seen them all. You decide.

Hogan no-sells the chair shot and chases Sullivan into the cage. The entire Dungeon of Doom arrives, and Hogan fights them off with the chair. The Loch Ness Monster (?!) comes down the runway and wants in, but the rest of the DoD pulls him back. Soooo Hogan just took out like seven guys by himself and stands tall to end the show.

Because, no matter the promotion …

Hogan wins LOL

FINAL ANALYSIS: You could kind of tell WCW was stagnant, but didn’t really have a way to shake it just yet. That, of course, would come during a Nitro in May and culminate in the formation of the nWo at Bash at The Beach. Not nearly as impressed as with last week’s show, but still some decent in-ring work and storytelling. We’ll have more WCW next week!