Category Archives: WCW

World Championship Wednesday: Road Wild 1997 review

Welcome to World Championship Wednesday, our review series on randomly selected WCW pay-per-views from the WWE Network. The selection process usually involves my wife picking a month and a year, and me watching the corresponding event. But she’s in Italy for the month, so randomppv.info it is!

THIS WEEK: WCW Road Wild 1997 (Aug. 9).

THE BILLING: “Lex Luger defends the WCW Title against Hollywood Hulk Hogan. The Steiner Brothers battle The Outsiders for the WCW Tag Team Title.”

So we’re in the thick of nWo dominance, only this is during the 10 minutes or so when Lex Luger was allowed to hold the world championship. Like, seriously … they gave the title to maybe the one main-event guy who is a worse wrestler than a 43-year-old Hollywood Hogan. (Note: This will not be the last, shot at the descipable Lex Luger this evening.)

We’re also in the thick of the “outdoor PPV in front of a bunch of bikers in South Dakota” era. This led to an … ummm … interesting atmosphere. Plenty of late ’90s eye candy, though, which will be pointed out by Dusty Rhodes basically all night.

WCW Road Wild 1997 Dusty Rhodes Tony Schiavone Bobby Heenan
All photos are screenshots from WWE Network programming unless otherwise noted.

Rhodes, Tony Schiavone and Bobby Heenan are on the call. And if a bunch of guys can win … WCW will FINALLY defeat the nWo. Dusty: “Opportunity is knocking on the DOOOOOR, if you will.”

We start with a typical WCW-nWo JV tag matchup. Cool matchup screens!

WCW Road Wild 1997 match screen

BUFF BAGWELL & SCOTT NORTON (w/Vincent) vs. HARLEM HEAT (Booker T. & Stevie Ray)

I’m a mark for Buff, so I’m all about this match, even if it’s the nWo B-squad. Also, this allows us to witness Booker in a Yankee hat.

WCW Road Wild 1997 Booker T

Not a fitted, though. You ain’t legit, sucka!

On another note, Norton just doesn’t seem like he wants to be there. Probably because Bagwell is a camera whore. Bagwell’s probably a camera whore because, well, look at him.

WCW Road Wild 1997 Buff Bagwell

Buff gets the upper hand on Booker with a pair of hip tosses and dropkicks to both faces, then a lariat that’s slightly better than Luger’s usual offering. Tag to Norton, but that fails. Well, he gets a side slam in at least, which is sold as a potential finisher. I miss the ’90s. Booker obviously was good enough to be a world champion in WCW and WWE, but it may have been after his athletic peak. His work in Harlem Heat, especially in those quick spurts, is absolutely fantastic. Stevie pulls the rope so Bagwell gets dumped over at 4:00, reminding us the Heat have been, in fact, heels at some point in their existence. Book with the scissor kick at 5:45, and a cover for 2. He locks in the second rest hold on Buff; Stevie had the first about a minute prior. Bagwell’s almost playing the face in peril here, and he gets a much better lariat to knock down Booker … right into a tag to Stevie. On the mic, there’s an interesting balance — Schiavone & Co. are calling the match athletically while still discussing the prevailing WCW-nWo tiff.

WCW Road Wild 1997 Jacqueline

Hold up … is that Jacqueline? I’m surprised, but for a different reason than the 1997 fans should be apparently. Then again, how often does a team get a manager mid-match? I only remember her from the WWF, hence my shock.

Meanwhile, Booker’s powerbomb attempt gets blocked, and Buff responds with a successful one. Hot tag to Norton (?) and he has lariats and shoulder tackles for everyone! Vincent (you know him as Virgil) distracts Stevie, and Norton hits the shoulderbreaker on Booker in the ring, but Jackie jumps on Flash long enough for Booker to hit a pair of kicks and get the cover, and Jackie pulls on Norton’s leg to get the assist.

WCW Road Wild 1997 Booker T Jacqueline

Time: 10:20

Technical Merit: Nothing great, but when a couple bad lariats are the only complaint, that’s not a bad thing.

Artistic Impression: Gotta love someone outheeling the nWo … and a surprise manager appearance. It works for me.

TOTAL SCORE: *3/4

Road Wild score: WCW 1, nWo 0

•••

WCW Road Wild 1997 KonnanK-Dogg. Mother F-ing yes.

WCW Road Wild 1997 Rey Misterio Jr

Skinny Rey. Also yes.

There’s some hatred here, and it’ll be settled (for now) in Sturgis!

KONNAN vs. REY MYSTERIO JR., Mexican Grudge Death Match

Rey sold the left knee on the way to the ring, but he hits a springboard dropkick and a headscissors in the opening moments. Lariat from K-Dogg and the “¡Arriba La Raza!” shoutout. It doesn’t even take 90 seconds for Konnan to throw on a leglock. I don’t think Nick Patrick counted when Konnan was pulling the ropes, so maybe “Mexican Grudge Death Match” means No DQ? Rey sells the knee again after a headscissors, and K-Dogg goes right back after it. Heenan declares Konnan will win because, well, he’s meaner than Rey. I declare he’ll win because the other guy has a bum knee. Rey’s crawling around 5 minutes in, and a legdrop into a legscissors. Great storytelling here. If you’re like me and only saw Wolfpac K-Dogg dropping gangsta promos, it’s interesting to see him work so well. At 5:45, we get the obligatory mask removal attempt. He’s successful, only Rey keeps it over his face. He gets it back on and hits a dropkick and a legdrop, and the leg gives again. Naturally, he hits another legdrop with the good leg, gets up and goes for a double springboard moonsault, but he misses and hurts the leg further. One short dropkick later, Mickey Jay FINALLY asks whether Rey wants to submit. Rey’s not about to give up, so he gets a belly-to-belly instead. K-Dogg grabs the leg, but Rey gets the rollup for 2. Then HE hits a short dropkick and limps around some more. Lather, rinse, repeat. Rey’s calling for the top rope? But he can’t get up there … OK, finally he gets there, only to jump into a cradle DDT. That was glorious. Tequila Sunrise time, still one of my favorite submissions ever, and Rey maybe took 3 seconds before tapping. Konnan still waits about 30 seconds before releasing the hold.

WCW Road Wild 1997 Konnan Tequila Sunrise

Time: 10:55

Technical Merit: This was Pro Wrestling 101 executed perfectly. The entire match was about Rey’s left leg, and it worked. Misterio still mounted some offense, but it was a matter of time before he just couldn’t go anymore.

Artistic Impression: Great storytelling, and a fun, simple old-school match to watch.

TOTAL SCORE: **1/2

Road Wild score: WCW 1, nWo 1

•••

Two things I learned after the match: Misterio was only 22 at the time, and gas in Sturgis was $1.30/gallon over that weekend.

WCW Road Wild 1997 Sturgis

I filled up my 1982 Subaru hatchback for about $9 at one point in the early 2000s; that gets you less than a quarter-tank in my 2011 Prius. And I’m the economically sound one, since it’s a hybrid! I miss my late teens.

WCW Road Wild 1997 Gene Okerlund

After Gene Okerlund plugs the hotline and shows off a tattoo — no, really — I hear some Horsemen music. Out comes someone widely considered one of the worst Horsemen ever, and a man who no longer exists in the wrestling world.

WCW Road Wild 1997 Steve McMichael Chris Benoit

The other team has questionable chemistry — you have a wannabe Ric Flair and a man who doesn’t give a damn unless it’s between the bells.

THE FOUR HORSEMEN (Chris Benoit & Steve McMichael) vs. WCW United States Champion JEFF JARRETT & DEAN MALENKO (w/Debra), elimination match

So Debra is Mongo’s wife at this time, but she’s in the other corner. Interesting. Also, Benoit has better hair and a better, more natural physique at this time. The Iceman and The Crippler put on a counterwrestling clinic to start; this is why people remember WCW so fondly. Then Mongo gets the tag and completely takes over.

If you’re WCW, why do you push this man? Why do you make him a Horseman? And why do you give him such great music in 1998? It’s mind-boggling. He doesn’t have the physique; he looks like a former defensive lineman who hit the treadmill, but not the weights. He doesn’t have the charisma. He doesn’t really have the ability. It just doesn’t make sense. He’s so … average.

Thankfully, it’s back to Benoit and we can get back to wrestling. OK, nevermind. At least Mongo hits a side salto before tagging Benoit back in. Meanwhile, Jarrett hasn’t been in the match. Mongo carries Dean toward that corner, only to get scoop slammed. Malenko finally escapes Mongo’s grasp … and he tags to Jarrett.

Wait a second … Jarrett pulls Mongo on top of himself, gets pinned, and bails. He still has the gold and the girl, so he’s Honey Badgering it.

WCW Road Wild 1997 Jeff Jarrett Debra

That’s … amazing.

Now it’s 2-on-1, but now Malenko is getting a second wind. That includes a Texas Cloverleaf, but Benoit is in the ropes. He goes for the piledriver, but Benoit reverses, then hits the ominous diving headbutt. Mongo hits a piledriver of his own, and this one mercifully ends.

WCW Road Wild 1997 Chris Benoit

Time: 9:36

Technical Merit: You have Benoit and Malenko, so that’s good. Nothing looked bad, but it wasn’t exactly great when McMichael was in the ring.

Artistic Impression: Jarrett’s bit was fantastic. Besides that, just a classic story of one man being worn down until he couldn’t go anymore. Thanks for nothing in that regard, Double J.

TOTAL SCORE: *3/4

•••

The next match will just be one giant mark-out moment. Not just for this man …

WCW Road Wild 1997 Chris Jericho

… but especially for this man.

WCW Road Wild 1997 Alex Wright

And it’s for my favorite WCW belt. I’m in love with this pay-per-view.

ALEX WRIGHT (c) vs. “Lion Heart” CHRIS JERICHO, WCW Cruiserweight Championship

Sounds like Jericho is the face here; Wright’s tactics are unsavory, but enough to get him the gold. Both men are second-generation athletes — Wright’s father, Steve, was a wrestler, and we learn of Ted Irvine‘s lengthy NHL career. Schiavone points out the fans can relate to the Canadian better than “the guy in key lime tights who dances”. I’m still rooting for Das Wunderkind here. Mike Tenay drops in and points out both men are over 220 pounds, which gives them advantages over the rest of the 225-and-under division. Subtle fact, yes, but completely missing from today’s programming.

Wright’s using the hair to maintain a side headlock at 3:30, but Lionheart breaks out and hits that trademark spinning kick to get an advantage. Jericho crotches Wright with the atomic drop variation, then hits a springboard dropkick to put the German on the outside. Another springboard, this time a crossbody, and pre-Y2J has set the pace. Vicious chop, break the count, slam onto the platform outside. Great ring psychology. He breaks the count again, but Wright puts him into the steps, then hits a vertical suplex, breaks the count once more and starts chopping away before depositing the challenger back in the ring. Simple, yet effective.

Wright goes up top, then goes down the hard way. Jericho follows by locking in 502 of his 1,004 holds all at once. That’s right, Junior. ARMBAR!!!

WCW Road Wild 1997 Chris Jericho ARMBAR

Jericho can’t decide what to do afterward, and Wright takes advantage with a spinning leg lariat. I love it when Tenay is around. Then Wright just sort of jumps off the top and lands a foot on Jericho. I guess it worked, because he had time to dance around and still whip ass. Back up, and after a slight delay, a missed moonsault. Jericho with a jawbreaker and three whips/running lariats, and he hits the Lionsault. Running senton, but only for 2. Jericho with a chain of two powerbombs, but the delayed cover results in 2 again. Jericho cimbs the rope, and Wright hits the great equalizer. Superplex from the champion, but another kickout. The German goes for the German, but a rollup results in a cover.  Jericho goes for another rollup out of the corner, but Wright rolls through, grabs the tights and wins the match.

Time: 13:03

Technical Merit: This was a good one. There’s the element of both men being so young and a little green, but each man executed his moveset well. Only weird parts were some delays in applying pressure, which resulted in the other man getting the upper hand.

Artistic Impression: This was more athleticism than story. In fact, as a one-off, the story seemed to lack a bit. What matters is it was a wrestling match, and a fun one to watch, and the heel did a heel thing to get the heel win and keep the title.

TOTAL SCORE: ***

•••

Round 3 of the WCW-nWo battle comes down to the most decorated world champion in American wrestling history …

WCW Road Wild 1997 Ric Flair

… and the man synomymous with go-away heat.

I liked Sean Waltman during the Attitude Era, but only because he was the little guy in D-Generation X, and I was a smaller guy, too. But it had nothing to do with wrestling ability. I’ve enjoyed one match of his in my life, and that’s when Bret Hart was doing Bret Hart things and made The 1-2-3 Kid look like a million bucks in a title match on RAW. But remember … Bret made Rikishi look amazing in a similar situation. So I’m with Hogan so far; the man can’t cut the mustard.

Also, why the hell does a skinny-fat white dude billed from Minneapolis have “thug” on his singlet?

WCW Road Wild 1997 Syxx

I digress. His opponent has class … and he probably had himself a whole lot of biker-chick strange that week. WOOOO!

SYXX vs. RIC FLAIR

1997 was during the time when Flair still looked like a million bucks above the shoulders, but clearly was focusing on maintaining cardio shape over being toned. Proof of this: Heenan said Flair was “probably in the best shape of his life!” The veteran is mentally defeating the kid early, and he physically asserts himself with a knife-edge chop. We reset at 3:00, only for Flair to chop Syxx down again. Kid finally gets an advantage with the foot to the back of Flair’s dome and those “educated feet” in the corner. Then the Bronco Buster. Yay. Hell, Schiavone even sells it in an athletic sense. Give this man more credit as an announcer! Rest hold headlock time around 5:30, and Flair gets upright, only to be stomped to a pulp in the corner. Scoop slam from Syxx, then the guillotine legdrop from the top, but not enough to pin the 13-time world champ. Both men trade blows, but a spinning kick from Syxx results in a cover … and another headlock. Flair’s so bored, he’s alternating half-hearted slaps to Syxx’s arm. A babyface comeback ensues with some chops and the drop on the knee, but Syxx kicks Flair down once more. Kinda-sorta 450 attempt fails miserably, and it’s Figure Four time until Syxx grabs the rope. Since Flair is Flair, he gets the 5 count and then some further leniency. Syxx locks in the Buzzkiller, also known as the chickenwing, but only briefly. He goes for a second Bronco Buster, but Naitch gets the leg up into the “midsection” before the patented dirty pin in the corner. Vintage Flair!

Time: 11:06

Technical Merit: The contrast of styles worked here. Still never actually been impressed with Waltman, but he was an OK foil for the Dirtiest Player in the Game here.

Artistic Impression: I honestly thought Flair would stare at the South Dakota sky, so the win was a surprise. The only real story was Syxx trying to wear Flair’s upper body down, but failing to do so. Not a memorable match, but it could’ve been far worse.

TOTAL SCORE: *3/4

Road Wild score: WCW 2, nWo 1

•••

Schiavone says they’ll “step away from the WCW-nWo issue” for a bit. I’d be cool with them not talking about how WCW is finally “winning” the war, etc. This is just a bitter WCW 1-on-1 battle … which is absolutely perfect. BANG!

WCW Road Wild 1997 DDP

CURT HENNIG vs. DIAMOND DALLAS PAGE (w/Kimberly)

Hennig knocked Page off the apron twice, so DDP pulls Hennig out of the ring. Finally both men enter and we get started. Meanwhile, at some point, it started getting dark and the lights are on. Now this feels like Saturday night wrasslin’! DDP pulled Curt around by the hair, and later slips under the ropes and introduces Hennig’s 5-hole to the post. All the while, Curt’s singlet is almost all the way off. Purple briefs for Hennig, if you’re wondering. Page goes up top … ? Yeah, that didn’t work. What did work was Curt’s towel, which he uses to hang Page over the ropes for most of a 5 count.  The singlet slowly moves back up Hennig’s body, and at 3:15 he’s modeling “The Andre”.

I know Hennig would be considered bigger now than then, but he seems a bit … less svelte at this stage of his career.

WCW Road Wild 1997 Curt Hennig

One thing that didn’t change is his technical ability, which is applied to DDP’s legs. The logic of the multiple spinning toeholds: Can’t hit the Diamond Cutter if you can’t stand up. Now the sleeper, but Page, with the backing of half the bikes in Sturgis, hits a jawbreaker. DDP appears to go for a crucifix, but slips into a backslide and cover.

This is the stage of Page’s career where there appears to be something there, but I don’t think anyone was sure what all he had. In less than a year, he goes from a midcard guy who maybe would work in the US Title hunt someday to being DIAMOND DALLAS PAGE and working with the top stars and celebrities.

Ref bump just after the 6-minute mark when Page kicks out and rolls on him, then Curt exposes a turnbuckle, hits DDP with the steel bolt and goes to the other side. Great heel work. Page is lifeless, but it’s Perfectplex time … and HE KICKED OUT!!! Guess that’s why they called it just the fisherman suplex … you know, besides character rights and stuff. Babyface comeback incorporates the turnbuckle and some punches, and another ref bump on a piledriver attempt. DDP hits his move the second time, falling forward this time.

Flair runs in to no avail, and he takes the Diamond Cutter. Hennig with another fisherman, but no ref? Oh, he’s awake! And he’s counting. We’re done.

Time: 9:44

Technical Merit: Everything had a purpose, and it was smooth.

Artistic Impression: Hennig always was one of the best heels in the business. Throw him against a man who has no problem breaking some rules himself, and you have 10 minutes of quality work.

TOTAL SCORE: **1/4

•••

Okerlund gives us another hotline update, this time on Raven and Stevie Richards … the “King of Swing”. Somewhere, Cesaro‘s like, “… really?” Then The Miz is like, “… really?” Anyway, quick break time, more or less before the big matches.

Fall Brawl plug, then nWo vignette with Eric Bischoff promoing on Luger. And riding a bike.

WCW Road Wild 1997 Eric Bischoff

So that had a clip of “Voodoo Chile” by Jimi Hendrix, but we can’t get it as Hogan’s theme on the Network? I’m sad.

A few seconds later, I feel better.

OHHHHHH YEAHHHHHH! It’s Macho Madness nWo time again. DIG IT!

WCW Road Wild 1997 Macho Man Randy Savage Elizabeth

“Macho Man” RANDY SAVAGE (w/Elizabeth) vs. THE GIANT

How many times did Giant join and leave the nWo? Also, how wooden can someone be en route to the ring?

WCW Road Wild 1997 The Giant

OK, there’s some personality! On the real, he did yell and make the chokeslam sign right before this. Still a cardboard box outside the ropes, though.

On another note, I LOVED Savage’s nWo look. Lot of fringe, etc., but all black and white, and a bandana in place of the cowboy hat. Macho goes for the slam, but Giant is just too big. Could’ve pinned him there, but he’ll dole out some punishment first.

Paul Wight can still get it done for someone his size, but it was almost revolutionary what he could do while in WCW and early in his WWF run. He had great agility AND strength … don’t think we’ll see him hit a dropkick here due to Macho’s ring psychology, but still just an awesome sight.

Savage has a habit of using Liz as a human shield on the floor, and in true babyface fashion, Giant gently lifts her, sets her down on the other side, picks up Savage and tosses him over the top rope back into the ring. Macho with the great equalizer … not The Great Equalizer, but several shots to the left knee to keep the 7-footer down. Savage hits a crossbody from the top, but when he goes up a second time, it’s catch, chokeslam, done.

WCW Road Wild 1997 The Giant 2

Time: 6:06

Technical Merit: Basic moves, and it just seemed like the match was getting going when it ended.

Artistic Impression: Great psychology from Savage working the knee, and great selling from Giant. As sudden as the finish seemed, it continues to sell the chokeslam as an effective finisher.

TOTAL SCORE: *3/4

Road Wild score: WCW 3, nWo 1

•••

Hey yo.

WCW Road Wild 1997 Scott Hall

Methinks it’s time for the nWo to take this one home. Also, The Steiner Brothers were still together? Methinks a turn is coming soon, if not tonight. WCW breaks out the fireworks and motorcycle entrance for the company’s longtime flagship tag team, and Ted DiBiase is in the house to manage. High hopes here.

THE OUTSIDERS (Scott Hall & Kevin Nash, c) vs. THE STEINER BROTHERS (Scott & Rick), WCW Tag Team Championship

Scott has an interesting look … he’s started the transition to Big Poppa Pump, but the hair’s still dark and pulled back into a tight ponytail. He looks like the type of guy who would run things in Sturgis.

WCW Road Wild 1997 Steiner Brothers

Suplexes for Hall, including a double underhook powerbomb, but Nash breaks things up. All four in the ring, and the good guys clean house.

Tag to Rick, who I just could never get into, but the WCW fans love the barking, etc. The Outsiders respond by sending Big Sexy in.

WCW Road Wild 1997 Kevin Nash

Kneelift, corner lariat, the usual stuff here. Goes for snake eyes in the corner, but Rick dodges and hits the belly-to-back. Scott’s back in, and he’s in control until Hall clips him outside, then Nash nearly decapitates him with the big boot. The Bad Guy’s in, and he hits a chokeslam. Nash returns and keeps choking Scott with the rope, but Patrick won’t DQ the champs, since this is a title match and all. Outsiders tagging well, and Hall hits the fallaway slam.

Hall looks great, and he did for most of the ’90s. He’s focused, in shape for a 280-or-so pounder, and crisp in the ring. Really, until the boozy angle, he was on point. Another quick tag to Nash, who’s daring Patrick to call for the bell. While he discusses with the ref, Hall hits the lariat, and the no-tag switch here. Hall and Nash, despite being singles competitors before coming to WCW, were an absolutely fantastic tag team. Quick tags, plenty of shortcuts, imposing individuals … this is how heels should work. Abdominal stretch, which Nash providing extra leverage, and a tag and elbow drop to the back. Nash drops Scott in the corner, then Rick on the apron, and it’s 2-on-1 on Scott. Hall officially tags in and keeps hammering away. The pace is more deliberate, and this match is aching for a hot tag. Steiner gets about a third wind, but Hall with the drop toehold and tag so Rick must stay outside. Now Rick gets in the ring, but to yell at Hall, who’s on the apron. What an idiot. Phantom tag once more, and Hall’s working the neck … until Scott powers out and hits the electric chair just before the 12-minute mark. STILL NO TAG.

Nash is in, and even dares Scott to tag Rick, but no dice. Patrick’s threatening the DQ, but unless there’s something I don’t know, why would Hall and Nash care about the DQ? They can keep the belts! Nash misses the boot in the corner, but Scott can’t get his bearings. Tag to Hall, elbow to the back, crotch chop to Rick. Bulldog from the ropes, and Rick is steaming. Hall goes for the Razor’s Edge, but Rick finally comes in for a lariat, and Scott hits a belly-to-belly … and doesn’t get the tag again.

… yet.

FINALLY at 14:45, Rick’s in to clean house. They set up Hall for the electric chair bulldog thing. 1 … 2 … Nash pulls him out. THAT will get the DQ.

Of course, DiBiase grabs the belts, but Patrick rightfully takes them away since titles, disqualifications, etc. Apparently, bikers are marks, because they’re booing and chanting about male bovine fecal matter.

Time: 15:28

Technical Merit: Solid matchup. That is how a tag title match should be where the heels go over. By hook, or by crook, keep the straps. I loved it.

Artistic Impression: EXCELLENT work keeping Scott in the ring for almost the entire match. The faces were a little doofy at times to advance the narrative, but when one of them is Rick Steiner, what do you expect?

TOTAL SCORE: ***

Road Wild score: WCW 4 (no belts), nWo 1 (1 belt)

•••

WCW Road Wild 1997 Michael Buffer

Michael Buffer alert … and he’s trying to fit in. He also welcomes us to the “Hog Wild” main event. Maybe there’s just too much pressure on the poor guy!

Random sidenote: Loved his work in “You Don’t Mess With The Zohan,” which may be my favorite post-“Happy Gilmore” Adam Sandler movie. Skip it at your own peril. Disco disco. Good good! Disco disco. Good good!

Let’s move on to the Biggest Icon in Wrestling.

WCW Road Wild 1997 Hollywood Hulk Hogan

No black beard this time, but a fit and trim 275. He’s starting to get a little soft in the pecs at this point, but the pythons are on point … in 1997 or 2014. Also, you can’t look perfect when your 44th birthday is two days away, can you?

More fireworks for the champion. You know, to make up for his lack of charisma.

WCW Road Wild 1997 Lex Luger

They call him “The Total Package” and he always had a great physique. But what a piece of crap in and out of the ring. One of the worst workers to hold the strap; MY lariats are more believable. The man couldn’t string a sentence together. He comes off as a total dick. He can basically thank Sting for having a career, and Vince McMahon for one of the least-deserved pushes in modern wrestling history. The Lex Express? The next Hogan?

imgur.com
imgur.com

The only things Luger knew how to do were hit somebody with a forearm and put guys in the Torture Rack, to which I’ll actually give credit. That’s a cool finisher.

But then there’s the whole part where he beat the hell out of Elizabeth, and she overdosed and died in his secret affair house while he had his real family somewhere else in the metropolitan area. Terrible, terrible human being.

When he shows up in WWE Network interviews, I want to throw something and curse repeatedly. Maybe he’s changed later in life, but I’ll still boo his career and his life. Basically, I’m this guy from RAW in 1993, only better looking:

RAW 022893 Luger

Anyway, let’s get back to the main event. Hopefully, this joke of a title reign will end in less than a week.

LEX LUGER (c) vs. HOLLYWOOD HOGAN, WCW/nWo World Heavyweight Championship

The main development: No spray paint on the Big Gold Belt.

For as long and as well as Hogan played a good guy, it’s kind of shocking just how effective he was as a chicken heel. The mind games, the backing away, the sneaky illegal tactics — it’s a man who was the best in the world at two different times with two polar opposite characters.

Hogan’s working the arm at about 2 minutes, presumably to neutralize the Rack, but Luger reversed that pretty easily.  A pair of armdrags ensue, while Hogan calls for The Messiah to heal his injuries and the crowd tells him he sucks.

We’re reset at 4:15 or so, and Hogan uses Luger’s back as a nail file. Now he’s working the neck and upper back, then the scientific front throat choke. Luger responds with the super-technical 10 headshots to the turnbuckle. Hogan gets technological outside the ring with a cable around Luger’s neck after bouncing his cranium off the steel steps. Think Luger has a metal plate in his dome, too? He has a thick skull for a reason …

Anyway, Hogan tells Luger to watch out, calls him a piece of meat and Lex Loser. Schiavone: “He’s Lex Champion. Address him properly, if you please.” The WCW fanboyism on the mic definitely got annoying from time to time, but they redeem themselves by discussing how Hogan can win and actually selling the big boot and legdrop as an effective combination. Bearhug time at 9:00, then some kicks to the gut in the corner. There’s a lot to read, but not really a lot going on. The benefit of this match is you can tweet, get something to eat or BS with friends, and you can drop in, hit a few major points and you’re good. Major point here: This nearly-minute-long test of strength. Luger fails, then rallies, then takes a low blow.

Hogan follows with a stomp to the lower abdomen … “A legal maneuver,” as McMahon or Gorilla Monsoon would say if Bret Hart were applying it … and the trash talk continues. Big boot at 12:20, but straight into the cover. The crowd reminds him he sucks again, and he implores them to kiss his posterior. Suplex from Hollywood, but Luger no-sells it. Of course, Hollywood doesn’t notice until it’s too late.

WCW Road Wild 1997 Hollywood Hulk Hogan Lex Luger

WCW Road Wild 1997 Hollywood Hulk Hogan Lex Luger 2

Yes! We get the Worst Lariat Ever at 13:30! That will never be confused with the Best Moonsault Ever, though it would be fun to see Christopher Daniels break out both. Hogan goes to the eyes again, rollup/cover, scoop slam, snot shot to the fans, missed legdrop.

Random sidenote, since there’s time: How would young Terry Bollea go over in the mid-2010s in NXT? What would his finisher be? Would he just basically be Bo Dallas with the beliefs, prayers, vitamins, etc.? Would he still come off as charismatic? It would be interesting to see.

Anyway, multiple bad lariats, including one where he looks like he taps Hogan’s head, and the nWo runs in. No DQ, though, since Luger was the aggressor and didn’t allow the bad guys to get a shot in. The ref is simply telling Nash to get out of the ring.  A fake Sting is out, though the announcers think it’s the real McCoy. Fake Sting hits Luger with the bat, then it’s legdrop, new champ and bail as the announcers’ tone suddenly becomes ominous and sad.

Time: 16:15

Technical Merit: It’s Hogan. It’s Luger. It’s gonna be as elementary as possible.

Artistic Impression: Hogan played his heel part perfectly. Besides that, classic nWo-centric main event with the run-ins leading to the bad-guy victory.

TOTAL SCORE: *3/4

Final Road Wild score: WCW 4 (no belts), nWo 2 (2 belts)

Dusty’s selling fake Sting as actual Sting in almost comical fashion. All three on the mic act like WCW is dying once again. It’s hilarious, sad and exasperating all at once!

Meanwhile, in the back, Dennis Rodman has a cigar and some spray paint for the belt. Poor execution (at least half the O is on a side panel, I think), but as a nWo fan and ’90s Chicago Bulls fan, this is the best finish to a pay-per-view ever.

WCW Road Wild 1997 Dennis Rodman nWo

Photo gallery: Paige, The Wyatt Family, Hollywood Hogan and more

Having a blog seems simple enough. Have a thought, write it down, click Publish. Trying to have a good blog involves other elements. Including watching as many WWE in-ring shows and typing as many coherent words as possible, there’s an essential visual element: Photos.

At realworldchamp.com, these photos are screenshots of WWE programming. There are a lot to sift through, and a lot to edit after that to get the right photos for the right posts. That almost leans there are a lot of leftovers. After hanging onto most of these for a month or more, here’s a quick batch of photos from WWE events I viewed in April. More from May will sprout up throughout the week.

AJ Lee confronts Paige before their WWE Divas Championship match at RAW on April 7. Paige won the match, and AJ hasn't been in the ring since.
AJ Lee confronts Paige before their impromptu WWE Divas Championship match at RAW on April 7. Paige won the match, and AJ hasn’t been in the ring since.
The Wyatt Family during RAW on April 14. Bray Wyatt accepted John Cena's challenge for a steel cage match at Extreme Rules, which Wyatt won.
The Wyatt Family during RAW on April 14. Bray Wyatt accepted John Cena’s challenge for a steel cage match at Extreme Rules, which Wyatt won.
Evolution — Randy Orton, Triple H and Batista — make their way ringside at RAW on April 28.
Evolution — Randy Orton, Triple H and Batista — make their way ringside at RAW on April 28.
Extra Main Event 042914 Goldust
Goldust walks down the ramp before a match against Alberto Del Rio at Main Event on April 29.
Paige celebrates a victory over Alicia Fox at the April 29 Main Event ...
Paige celebrates a victory over Alicia Fox at the April 29 Main Event …
... but not for long after seeing Tamina Snuka, her challenger for the WWE Divas Championship at Extreme Rules, right behind her.
… but not for long after seeing Tamina Snuka, her challenger for the WWE Divas Championship at Extreme Rules, right behind her.

Another fun part of the blog is/was World Championship Wednesday and Flashback Friday, which hopefully will make a return when The Champ gets some more spare time. One particularly entertaining WCW show was Halloween Havoc 1998, for some good and plenty of bad reasons.

The Ultimate Warrior made his final pay-per-view match appearance, beating Hollywood Hogan in a terrible semi-main event.
The Ultimate Warrior made his final pay-per-view match appearance, beating Hollywood Hogan in a terrible semi-main event.
Before his defeat, Hogan was posing and running his mouth with Eric Bischoff. Of note: The nWo Monday Nitro T-shirt on the leader of nWo Hollywood.
Before his defeat, Hogan was posing and running his mouth with Eric Bischoff. Of note: The nWo Monday Nitro T-shirt on the leader of nWo Hollywood.
Goldberg and Diamond Dallas Page after their main event, which Goldberg won to improve his unbeaten streak to 155-0. But the main reason for this photo? The shoutout to the 208 right behind them. I see you, Twin Falls!
Goldberg and Diamond Dallas Page after their main event, which Goldberg won to improve his unbeaten streak to 155-0. But the main reason for this photo? The shoutout to the 208 right behind them. I see you, Twin Falls!

Be sure to return Tuesday morning for a review of this week’s RAW. And give The Champ a follow on Twitter @jpetrie18.

World Championship Wednesday (or Thursday): The Champ reviews The Ultimate Warrior’s final pay-per-view appearance at WCW Halloween Havoc 1998

This was supposed to arrive Wednesday, and it was supposed to be a World War 3 review from 1997. But due to The Ultimate Warrior‘s passing, I took creative liberty and decided to change things up. As a result, we’re looking “live” at Las Vegas for the Warrior-Hollywood Hogan rematch 8 years in the making.

The event has a double main-event feel — Warrior-Hogan II, and Goldberg vs. Diamond Dallas Page for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship — also known as the two dream matches 13-year-old Champ would’ve paid to see. The WrestleMania VI main event was, at that time, my third-favorite match ever (the first two were from WMIII … you can probably guess which they were), and I was a mark for DDP. Goldberg was invincible, with the 154-0 record coming in, but there was always an inkling of hope Page would pull it off.

Had I bought the pay-per-view, I would’ve only been able to see one of the matches … this was when Eric Bischoff, in his infinite wisdom, had the gall to surpass the 3-hour alloted time for his show, not thinking the cable and satellite providers would just cut it off.

Challenge accepted, and Goldberg-Page had to be aired for free soon after. Luckily, the WWE Network has all 3 hours and 15 minutes of the action! (Minus a world premiere of a Konnan music video.) Tony Schiavone on the call with Bobby Heenan and Mike Tenay, and we lead off with the Nitro Girls. On another note, look behind them …

All photos are screenshots via WWE Network
All photos are screenshots via WWE Network

208 REPRESENT!!!!! *****

This is why this pay-per-view took so long … Nitro girls AND a Gene Okerlund interview with Rick Steiner before the first match. The Steiner Brothers explode tonight. BUFF BAGWELL FUBU BASEBALL JERSEY ALERT.

HH1998 Bagwell

Buff, who’s not in the nWo at the moment (specifically nWo Hollywood … this was when there were two factions), offers to be in Rick’s corner for the match — pending a J.J. Dillon ruling, of course. The Dogfaced Gremlin accepts, and stereo barking ensues. Is anybody NOT expecting a swerve here?

We finally lead off with a TV title match. The champion is the first proof of the WWE Network‘s rights issues — we get “Break The Walls Down” as he comes down the aisle.

HH1998 Jericho

My thoughts exactly.

Promo time with Raven, who has been on a losing streak. Now he has an unscheduled match. “What about me? What about Raven?” He’s taking his ball and going home. “Quote the Raven. Nevermore.” Chris Jericho thinks that’s a good idea, but the Jerichoholics want him to compete. “Because Chris Jericho equals buyrates, Chris Jericho equals rear ends in the seats, and Chris Jericho equals rock n’ roll.” He baits Raven with smarm by berating The Flock, “The biggest gang of morons and idiots in professional wrestling,” and declaring he could whip his butt in about 2 minutes because Raven’s a loser. That did it.

“Lionheart” CHRIS JERICHO (c) vs. RAVEN, WCW Television Championship

We have a leather-jacket beating and a cocky pin attempt from the champ, then a front suplex onto the steps and a running dropkick from said steps by the challenger in the first 90 seconds. Jericho hits a nice springboard dropkick onto Raven on the apron, then dives outside and misses into the barricade. Back in the ring at 4 minutes, Raven’s extra shirt comes off, so he chokes Jericho with it. Not-quite-yet-Y2J gets back in control with a running senton, then takes off a turnbuckle pad. Powerbomb from Raven, then a catapult into the exposed buckle, a clothesline and a cover. Raven slips a back kick and hits a belly-to-belly for 2 more. Raven hits a standing switch, but Jericho rolls forward and slaps on the Lion Tamer. Raven finally gets across the ring to the ropes, and Jericho starts a mini-tantrum. Evenflow DDT from Raven at 7:00, but Jericho kicks out. Rollup with a handful of jorts for 2, then a low blow and a bridge suplex for 2. Kanyon comes down and crashes into Jericho via Raven’s whip reversal, then Raven goes for the Evenflow again. Jericho blocks and applies the Lion Tamer, and Raven taps immediately.

TIME: 7:49

TECHNICAL MERIT: Well done.

ARTISTIC IMPRESSION: About average.

TOTAL SCORE: **1/2

WATCH OR SKIP? It’s quick and painless. Watch this one.

 

We’re apparently supposed to go right into the next match, but we get a visit from Bischoff and Hollywood, rocking the best wrestling shirt I’ve ever seen.

HH1998 HoganNitro

Typical Hogan heel promo, and we address his beatdown of his nephew Horace the week before. That was just an example of what’s in store for Warrior, because if you mess with Hollywood and the power he possesses, you’ll get beat up real bad … and it’s “4 Life, Brudda!”

 

How does WCW follow that? With Meng and Wrath, of course!

MENG vs. WRATH

Wrath with a flip dive from the apron early, then bashes Meng’s head into the turnbuckle … and Meng liked it, headbutting the buckle several times afterward. I expect nothing to report until the fall. This one’s a clunker until Wrath tries a sunset flip and fails, but hits a Rock Bottom variation for 2. Time for the Meltdown, a pumphandle slam. He has a foot under the rope, but that doesn’t seem to matter.

TIME: 4:18

TECHNICAL MERIT: Clunky, botchy and unskilled.

ARTISTIC IMPRESSION: Two big guys enter. One leaves. Yay.

TOTAL SCORE: 1/2*

WATCH OR SKIP? Skip.

 

Backstage to Kidman mid-Webcast(?!) interview, then it’s mark-out cruiserweight time.

HH1998 Disco HH1998 Juvi

DISCO INFERNO vs. JUVENTUD GUERRERA, Cruiserweight Championship No. 1 contender’s match

Disco’s apparently not of proper weight, but finds ways to “officially” weigh in at 225 or less. Botched Playmaker variation attempt around 1:30, but Juvi hits it on the second try. Disco charges a grounded Guerrera, but Juvi monkey flips him out and, without getting up to his feet, pulls himself through the ropes and hits a head-scissors takedown onto the floor. Well done! Inverted atomic drop from Disco, then a weak clothesline. Not Lex Luger weak, but I digress. Disco goes up to the second rope, dances a bit, hits the double axe handle and kinda-sorta covers for 2. Tenay calls it “poor weight distribution”. Juvi rolls up Disco, but Disco’s in the ropes. Spinning kick, and a cutter onto the top rope a few seconds later. Disco dips out before Juvi can hit a springboard maneuver, but Guerrera hits one on the other side. Hurricanrana back in the ring, then a Juvi Driver attempt is blocked. Both men briefly apply Dragon Sleeper-like holds until Disco picks Juvi up, throws him into the rope and hits the swinging neckbreaker. No cover, both men down. Disco drapes the arm, but only for 2. Disco picks up Juvi by the hair at 6:45, blocks a sunset flip attempt and starts the Macarena, but Juvi gets a rollup for 2. Giant Swing from Disco, but he’s dizzy. He falls. Into not quite the “lower abdomen”. Disco finally covers, but foot in the rope. Solid vertical suplex, then he goes up top. He wobbles, Juvi kips up and crotches him, then the Frankensteiner. Then a flying kick from the top rope for 2. Juvi counters Disco with a bulldog variation for 2 more. Juvi jumps onto Disco’s shoulders, then off, and Disco gets a jumping piledriver for the win.

TIME: 9:40

TECHNICAL MERIT: Botchy early, but made up for it in a big way.

ARTISTIC IMPRESSION: Nice story of two men battling for a title shot.

TOTAL SCORE: ***1/4

WATCH OR SKIP? Watch. This match packed more than 15 minutes of action into fewer than 10.

 

More Nitro girls, then more nWo black and white. It’s promo time with Big Poppa Pump. He’s in town, and he’s ready to pound. Not sure whether he means physical violence toward his brother, or sexual activity with the freaks. “Big Poppa Pump is your hookup. Holler if ya hear me!” I’m guessing it’s the freaks. He heels on Bagwell, then presents a tag-team title match: Rick & Bagwell vs. Scott & The Giant. Giant talks a bit, then Dillon interrupts to confirm the challenge. The nWo obliges. Dillon says if they’re so confident, if they drop the belts, we’ll get Steiner vs. Steiner after all. The genetic freak agrees. Very well.

 

Hey, remember this guy?

HH1998 Finlay

Actually, who cares. Remember THIS guy?!?!?!

HH1998 Wright

I’m retroactively marking out in back-to-back matches. I miss WCW.

FIT FINLAY vs. ALEX WRIGHT

Das Wunderkind in control early, but the crowd and the match feel a little flat. Finlay catapults Wright into the ropes, but hangs on for an innovative submission hold. He dumps Wright out and uses the edge of the apron to his advantage. Finlay re-enters, but Wright pulls him out and scoop slams him on the floor. Finlay with a fireman’s carry drop onto the barricade, but Wright sunset flips back in. Wright goes out and comes back in via missile dropkick attempt, but Finlay sidesteps him. Wright sidesteps a corner shoulder charge, and Wright hits his neckbreaker for the upset.

TIME: 5:10

TECHNICAL MERIT: OK, I guess.

ARTISTIC IMPRESSION: Could’ve been much better.

TOTAL SCORE: *1/4

WATCH OR SKIP? Watch Wright’s entrance. Skip the rest.

 

Webcast time with Ernest “The Cat” Miller, then this guy:

HH1998 Lodi

He faces someone much bigger and tougher. You know, a former Army Ranger.

HH1998 Saturn

LODI vs. SATURN

Lodi stalls, then Saturn finally gets his hands on him in about 30 seconds. Lodi gets a rope break, then notices someone stole his signs and goes to get them back. “Leave these right here! They’re important.” Great facebuster and legsweep from Saturn, and Lodi dips out to grab a sign. Saturn grabs him and brings him back in the hard way. Lodi’s sign obsession has a third scene, but Saturn follows him out and slaps the taste out of his mouth. Lodi looked prepared for an offensive maneuver, but Saturn hits a belly-to-belly, a running lariat, a T-Bone and a vertical sitout powerbomb. Death Valley Driver, and it’s academic from there.

TIME: 3:49

TECHNICAL MERIT: Saturn could go. Lodi could not.

ARTISTIC IMPRESSION: Lodi and his damn signs! I’m torn.

TOTAL SCORE: **

WATCH OR SKIP? Watch.

It’s not even 4 minutes. Why not? Saturn was impressive to watch, and Lodi’s chicken heel moments absolutely were effective in their annoyance.

 

Flashback to the Steiner-Steiner-Bagwell bit, then even more Nitro Girls. Disco’s title shot comes … already? After maybe a half-hour off? Damn. No dancing this time. There is more cruiserweight awesomeness, though.

HH1998 Kidman

KIDMAN (c) vs. DISCO INFERNO, WCW Cruiserweight Championship

Kidman was skilled … and quick. Nice sequence where he kips up after three straight hairpull takedowns, hits a head-scissors from the apron back in a few seconds later, then just starts stomping the hell out of Disco’s head. Disco successful slowing down the pace, and rightfully so, after trying earlier. Kidman tries to pick it back up, but Disco ducks him (haha, Disco ducks) and pulls the rope for a nasty fall. Disco follows him out, but Kidman hits a bulldog from the steps to the floor. Top-rope frog splash misses. Disco drapes an arm for 2. Rear chinlock. “Disco sucks!” chant. Kidman gets free. Irish whip, and Disco presses Kidman up for a long fall, then some posing. Stomp him in the corner, then some posing. Belly-to-back, no posing, cover. Kidman tries a comeback, but gets a rake to the eyes and his head snapped off the rope for his efforts. Scoop slam, second rope, dance, misses the double axe. Kidman gets up for a short sitout powerbomb for 2. Powerslam for 2. Disco goes for the piledriver, but Kidman flips out. The second attempt is successful, but slow to cover. Nonchalant cover, and Kidman lifts the arm. Vertical suplex attempt, Kidman lands on his feet. Bulldog attempt, but Disco reverses into a belly-to-back, then he hits a front suplex for the cover. Macarena, then a piledriver attempt, but Kidman reverses into the facebuster, then the Shooting Star Press. Champ retains.

TIME: 10:49

TECHNICAL MERIT: Nice balance of technique, pace and power.

ARTISTIC IMPRESSION: Nice story with Disco’s double duty and inability to keep focus, but a great effort nonetheless.

TOTAL SCORE: ***1/2

WATCH OR SKIP? Watch!

I was thoroughly impressed with Disco in his second appearance of the night, and Kidman always put out good matches. The story here was fantastic, and the wrestling itself hit all the right notes.

 

SCOTT STEINER & THE GIANT (c) vs. RICK STEINER & BUFF BAGWELL, WCW Tag Team Championship (1:30:37)

This was during Giant’s pre-match puff phase. Excellent heel work. Also, he’s actually wearing the gold … don’t think that’s even possible now.

HH1998 Giant

Apparently there was some cross-promotion involving “Bride of Chucky”. Too bad I missed/forgot about that! Giant softens up Rick a bit, then Scott’s ready. Buff is wearing Tommy Hilfiger jeans. This is SO 1998. Giant working on Rick outside, but Buff just kind of pushes him away. Between that, the constant jawing and no actual contact, this screams swerve. Rick finally gets some offense, an inverted atomic drop, and some punches on the mat and the corner, a no-sell of the atomic drop, then the lariat. Rick covered, then Buff tags in, double whip, Scott ducks, and … yep, there it is. Buff kicks Rick low, punches him and stomps him.

HH1998 Bagwell2

Schiavone said some of us maybe expected this, but Buff fooled him into believing he was legit. Heenan: “He got us again.” Scott kicks Rick low, then slowly pounds away. Tag to Giant, who continues the deliberate punishment. Side Russian legsweep, then a cover, but Giant lifts him up at 1. He repeats this twice, then tags to Scott. Rick starts the no-selling babyface comeback until the great equalizer. THREE NUT SHOTS! AH AH AH! Tag, and Giant goes up top while Scott holds Rick, and after a struggle to get up, Giant misses a missile dropkick. Steiner hits a top-rope bulldog and becomes the tag team champion!

TIME: 8:25.

TECHNICAL MERIT: Nothing too spectacular.

ARTISTIC IMPRESSION: Nice comeback from the swerve, which basically made it a handicap match.

TOTAL SCORE: **

WATCH OR SKIP? Skip.

OK match here, but I’ve never been a fan of Rick Steiner. No-selling, barking and hitting a couple strikes and a bulldog do not a wrestler or wrestling match make, in my semi-educated opinion.

By the stipulation of the prior match, we get a bonus contest, a.k.a. the match we were supposed to have in the first place.

WCW Tag Team Champion RICK STEINER vs. SCOTT STEINER, no disqualification

Scott tries to dip out, but Rick catches him, knocks his head into the steps and rolls him back in. Scott begs off to no avail. Rick stays on him until a FOURTH low blow, and Scott drops Rick with a suplex. Scott misses a Steinerline at about 2:45, but Rick catches him with a belly-to-belly. Another belly-to-belly, then a cover. Some dude in a Bill Clinton mask runs in and beats down somebody outside. He takes a slapjack from Stevie Ray, hits Rick and referee Charles Robinson, and the bell rings. Of course, the masked man was Buff again, and apparently the bell was a false alarm. Buff takes Robinson’s arm and counts, but Rick kicks out. After a Frankensteiner, same result. Rick comes back and hits the bulldog, then a second ref comes in and counts the fall.

TIME: 5:02.

TECHNICAL MERIT: Meh. Same as the first match.

ARTISTIC IMPRESSION: Nice way to put Rick over. Otherwise weak.

TOTAL SCORE: *

WATCH OR SKIP? Skip

 

Video setting up the Battle of the Outsiders. This is during Scott Hall‘s drunk phase. Nice booking, guys.

HH1998 Hall

At 1 hour and 50 minutes, we also get our first nWo Wolfpac appearance of the night.

HH1998 Nash

Hall tosses his drink, presumably a vodka-and-tonic (or maybe some gin?) into Nash’s face, and it’s time to go.

SCOTT HALL vs. KEVIN NASH

This basically starts outside, where Hall hits Nash with a mic and chokes him with a cable. After bashing his head into the barricade, he enters the ring. “Hey yo!” ensues. He cuts a quick promo while the trainer checks on Nash, but Nash comes back in and takes some more abuse. Nash isn’t even trying to fight back here. Scoop slam, then a set up for the Razor’s Edge, but Nash pushes away. Hall in the corner with some punches, and Nash pushes away again. Twice. Nash calls for Hall to keep going, and Hall obliges. Corner lariat, and some more right hands. Nash reverses a whip, whips Hall again and hits the sidewalk slam. So at 5 minutes, Big Sexy finally decides to show up. It’s the Rope-A-Dope! Or Rope-A-Drunk? Nash gets a couple shots and goes for the Jackknife, but Hall escapes. Nash finally rips off his Wolfpac shirt and calls Hall back in. Nash seems to be applying the Rope-A-Dope again, then hits a lariat and a couple stomps, then some strikes once Hall’s upright. Nash drapes Hall over the second rope, then splashes onto him twice. Ref checks on Hall, who seems out of it. Nash with the signature kneelifts in the corner, then measures him for the elbow. Nash calls Hall a piece of shit, then plays bartender. “Want another drink?” Kneelift. Repeat. “How about a double?” Two kneelifts. Out from the corner, then an elbow to the back of the head. Picks him back up, puts him down with the right. Picks him back up, and Hall’s done. Kind of flails at Nash, then takes a big boot. Big Sexy puts the straps down, then it’s time for the powerbomb. He mocks Hall’s drinking habit, then hits the Jackknife. Instead of covering, he polls the crowd and ask if they want another. “I think I’ll have a double.” Second powerbomb, struggling a bit before lifting him even higher than on the first. Crotch chop in Hall’s face, then he … leaves. This will be a countout; he’s off the floor at about 8.

TIME: 14:18

TECHNICAL MERIT: Not great.

ARTISTIC IMPRESSION: I get the story. I don’t like the story.

TOTAL SCORE: *

WATCH OR SKIP? Skip

This stays at the base score because of the storyline, which is a bit cringeworthy. Not a fan of someone having actual substance-abuse problems playing someone having substance-abuse problems. It just was in very poor taste to me.

 

MORE Nitro Girls, and we find out we actually missed Konnan’s music video! Not sure whether I’m happy or sad. Now we get some bad, unfamiliar music to introduce the United States Champion:

HH1998 Hart

His opponent in the battle of the Sharpshooter vs. the Scorpion follows. Red face paint and the goatee? Not so sure about this look.

HH1998 Sting

BRET HART (c) vs. STING, WCW United States Championship

Bret’s ducking Stinger, causing a delay of about a minute before the bell. Bell rings, Hart exits. Breaks the count, leaves again. While a flying soda buzzes Bret, Sting finally goes to retrieve him. Sting in control early, but Bret takes control about 2:30 in. For a rivalry that’s supposedly hot, this match is quiet and kind of boring. “Bret Hart sucks!” chant. Bret responds with a headbutt to the lower abdomen, and a legdrop for 2. Bret’s Wrestling 101 lesson directs him toward Sting’s lower back to set up the Sharpshooter. Strike, elbow, lateral press for 2. Headlock, and Sting escapes, but gets a knee to the gut. Bulldog, then a stomp to the chest. Inside cradle, then Bret’s back to work. Side Russian legsweep, then up to the second rope, but Sting counters into the Scorpion right next to the rope. Somewhat clean break at 3. Sting in the dominant position with some strikes, and during a whip sequence, Bret clutches his right knee during a leapfrog. This buys enough time to grab a foreign object, but he drops it before he gets to use it. Sting decides that’s not a bad idea, so he goes for a strike, but the ref stops him and distracts long enough for Bret to hit the low blow. Typical setup for the Sharpshooter, including a backbreaker, then a second-rope elbow for 2. Hart dumps him out and works him over in the aisle. Bret drops his foe neck-first onto the rail, then Bret re-enters the ring, hoping for a countout. Sting’s unwilling to oblige. With his back to the ring on the apron, Sting accidentally hits the ref, then Bret hits a legdrop to the back of said ref’s head. Not often you see the double ref bump. About 30 seconds later, it looks like Sting is checking on the ref or he fell down or something, and Bret attacks. Hart goes up top, but Sting crotches him and hits a superplex onto the ref’s legs. TRIPLE ref bump. All three men down, but both wrestlers get up. Stinger Splash goes a little high, so his head lands on the post. While he’s draped over the rope. Bret grabs the bat and wallops him. NOW he checks on the ref. The ref’s groggy, but when he finally comes to, he drops Sting’s arm three times while Bret has the sharpshooter on.

TIME: 15:04

TECHNICAL MERIT: It’s Bret Hart. Nuff said.

ARTISTIC IMPRESSION: Hart as a WCW heel just didn’t work.

TOTAL SCORE: **1/2

WATCH OR SKIP? Watch

This is four stars for the technique, and one for the story. When Bret’s petulant and hitting low blows and doing dastardly things, it just doesn’t come across well. He was booked so weakly in WCW during his entire tenure, and the Sting rivalry, which could have been fantastic, fell flat in anything I’ve watched from that timeframe. Afterward, Sting gets a neck brace and a stretcher/ambulance ride. The problem is nobody really cares.

 

Now it’s time for the BIGGEST REMATCH EVER!!!!!1!! No shirt, white feather boa for Hollywood. Then, the reason we’re here.

HH1998 Warrior

*pours out some liquor, keeps the bottle nearby*

HOLLYWOOD HOGAN vs. WARRIOR

Warrior certainly looks the part, though a bit aged. He starts with a couple shots, and Hogan backs out. Warrior wants a test of strength, but gets a collar-and-elbow instead. This has just been a mess of strikes and poor selling so far. NOW Hogan accepts the test of strength, while he’s dominant. After a long test, Warrior rises and we get their signature criss-cross spot. Hogan slam and celebration, then a Warrior slam and celebration. Warrior knocks Hogan out with a lariat. Some running around outside, then back in. Warrior ducks a clothesline from Hogan, which hits the ref. Hogan then drops a knee on the ref. Another double ref bump! Make that a triple. Hogan calls out the troops, but Giant’s big boot hits Hogan instead. Warrior fends off Stevie Ray and Vincent, then covers while the ref’s still down. Double axe handle and belly-to-back from Hogan, and the ref finally comes to and counts 2. Hogan takes off the weightlifting belt and whips/chokes Warrior with it. Hogan finally puts it back on and hits a scoop slam, but he misses an elbow, then another. Warrior runs out of real estate to roll away, so he literally rolls back into Hogan. Hogan sells it and falls down. That was an offensive maneuver. Splash misses. Warrior takes the belt off Hogan and delivers a receipt. While Nick Patrick implores Warrior to ditch the belt, Hogan digs out a lighter and some flash paper. He lights it tries to … I’m not exactly sure. Blind him with a fireball? The paper lights and goes out. That whole thing was SO poorly executed. Warrior with the double axe off the top. Another low blow, Hogan knocks Warrior down and hits the legdrop. He misses the second while Horace comes out, chair in hand. Warrior makes his rope-shaking, lariat-heavy comeback. Bischoff runs up on the apron and puts the ref in a headlock, allowing Horace, who was beaten down by Hogan six days prior, to hit Warrior with a chair and Hogan to get the pin. Afterward, they spray lighter fluid on Warrior, but WCW security stops them.

TIME: 14:19

TECHNICAL MERIT: This was … bad.

ARTISTIC IMPRESSION: This was … worse.

TOTAL SCORE: Zero

WATCH OR SKIP? Watch.

The rematch of one of the biggest matches ever swung on a run-in by Hollywood Hogan’s nephew. It used Stop, Drop & Roll as an offensive maneuver. It had a botched fireball attempt thing. It had basically no wrestling moves whatsoever. It’s been called one of the worst pay-per-view matches of all time. Sure enough … it lived up to the billing. Which is why you must watch it.

 

Now, 2 hours and 59 minutes into what was supposed to be 3-hour PPV, the challenger for the World Heavyweight Championship makes his way out to generic music. Apparently knocking off grunge-band hits means rights issues down the road for the company that buys you. Past the 3-hour mark, the champ arrives.

HH1998 Goldberg

GOLDBERG (154-0, c) vs. DIAMOND DALLAS PAGE, WCW World Heavyweight Championship

Goldberg throws DDP into back into the corner three times. Armdrag from Page, then Goldberg charges and both men tumble outside. Both men back in. Top wristlock from Goldberg, then Page legsweeps Goldberg twice. The first time, Goldberg BACKFLIPS ONTO HIS FEET. Great athlete. DDP goes for the Diamond Cutter at 2:30, but Goldberg pushes him right out. After a drop toehold and side headlock, goes back out with a shoulder block at 3:30. Page throats Goldberg on the rope, then a spinning neckbreaker and a short whip into a Russian legsweep for 2. Front facelock, but Goldberg powers out. Goldberg hits a kidney punch and just throws him. Sidewalk slam for 2. Cross armbar for the second time. Page with a head-scissors?! But it’s no-sold, and Goldberg hits the standing side kick. Spear attempt sidestepped, and Goldberg hits the post hard. Top-rope clothesline from Page for 2. Goldberg goes for a one-arm slam sort of thing, but Page counters into a DDT. Page up first and calls for the Diamond Cutter, but turns right into a spear. Goldberg stays down due to the prior shoulder injury, but he’s up first. He has trouble lifting DDP for the Jackhammer, and gets him halfway up on the second attempt, but Page goes over on his feet and HITS THE DIAMOND CUTTER! Page crawls for the cover, but Goldberg kicks out. Page goes for a suplex, but Goldberg blocks and counters with the Jackhammer for 155-0.

TIME: 10:29

TECHNICAL MERIT: Pretty basic. Pretty average.

ARTISTIC IMPRESSION: Also basic, but executed very well.

TOTAL SCORE: ***

WATCH OR SKIP? Watch

Goldberg actually looked vulnerable in this match, which almost never happened back then. Page pulled out all the stops with some decent chain wrestling, and he even hit his finisher. But Goldberg looked strong at the end, kicking out of that and, on the third try of the match, mustering just enough power to hit the Jackhammer. Goldberg won, of course, but Page was a worthy adversary as his run of main-event matches continued with one that actually was main-event caliber.

HH1998 DDPGoldberg

HH1998 Goldberg2

State of Pro Wrestling: What if the cruiserweights came back to WWE?

Every once in a while, the Real World Champ will discuss subjects that don’t exactly fit into a current show or hot topic, but generally are worth discussing in the world of professional wrestling. It’s called the State of Pro Wrestling, and this is the second installment. The first is here.

The best part of the WWE Network is accessing its vault of prior events, especially pay-per-views from WWF/WWE, ECW and my personal favorite, World Championship Wrestling. WCW set the biggest boom period of professional wrestling in motion with the New World Order in 1996, but the company had to find ways to appeal to not only those drawn to star power, but also hardcore fans who wanted to see some of the best technical wrestling in the world.

Enter the cruiserweights.

ECW introduced a bit of the lucha libre and Japanese styles to the U.S., using the likes of Eddie Guerrero, Chris JerichoDean MalenkoRey Misterio Jr. and, yes, Chris Benoit. All were smaller than the WWF template of the mid-1990s, and they put on technical masterpieces. These men didn’t stay long in ECW before Eric Bischoff saw them as a way to lead off WCW Monday Nitro.

When I got back into wrestling in the spring and summer of 1998, I came to WCW for the marquee stars of my childhood and the nWo. I stayed for the little guys — some of whom flew around like superheroes in the lucha libre style, and others who could stretch you every which way until you couldn’t take it anymore.

This topic came up on Twitter (major props to @NewAgeInsiders and new follower @JAMIEGotDatBOMB for the inspiration), and the names flying around brought back some of my fondest memories. There were the aforementioned. There was Billy Kidman, the greasy worker of Raven’s Flock who made the Shooting Star Press one of my favorite finishers. There was Juventud Guerrera, who could knock you out with the Juvi Driver or mesmerize you with the 450. There was Ultimo Dragon, with the cool mask and that vicious Dragon Sleeper. There were other smaller Americans like Lenny Lane and Sean Waltman, who had Cruiserweight and U.S. Championship runs as Syxx. There were some more, shall we say, unorthodox guys like Disco Inferno and Alex Wright. There even were jobbers like Kaz Hayashi, and there were plenty more luchadors like PsicosisEl Dandy and the Chairman of WCW, La Parka.

Toward the end, there were these guys.

3count

Oh, like I was going to get through a WCW post without mentioning 3 Count. Please.

Anyway, I watched these guys for the wrestling, the main-event guys for the promos, and I has a happy viewer for 3 hours every Monday night. All this nostalgia begged one question …

What if WWE revived the cruiserweight division?

SmackDown carried cruiserweights for a decent amount of the 2000s, after it acquired WCW and its younger, somewhat smaller talent, and it thrived until, for some reason, Hornswoggle won the championship in 2007. It’s been retired since.

In that time frame, there weren’t many credible wrestlers on the main roster who were under 225 pounds, since many of those who fit the criteria were phased out. But we’ve moved from a stage where guys like Edge and Randy Orton are on the small end of average at 240 to one where a 218-pound C.M. Punk was WWE Champion for 434 days, and 210 (if that)-pound Daniel Bryan likely will be WWE World Heavyweight Champion at 10:45 p.m. EDT on April 6. Guys like Dolph Ziggler and Kofi Kingston, who don’t seem all that small, easily would be cruiserweights.

In fact, here’s all the eligible talent via WWE.com as of April 5, besides Christian (likely to retire), Punk (likely retired) and Los Matadores (no weights listed), from lightest to heaviest.

  • Evan Bourne, 165 pounds
  • Rey Mysterio, 175
  • Tyson Kidd, 195
  • Hunico/Sin Cara, 205
  • Xavier Woods, 205
  • Daniel Bryan, 210
  • Yoshi Tatsu, 211
  • Kofi Kingston, 212
  • Dolph Ziggler, 213
  • Justin Gabriel, 213
  • Zack Ryder, 214
  • Heath Slater, 216
  • Seth Rollins, 217
  • Cody Rhodes, 220
  • The Miz, 220
  • R-Truth, 220
  • Jinder Mahal, 222
  • Curt Hawkins, 223
  • Dean Ambrose, 225

That’s a 19-man division ranging from main-event-caliber talent to low- to midcard guys, with enough contrasting styles to make it interesting. Some guys, like Slater and Mahal seem to be as part of 3MB, are likely destined in the current WWE construct to be jobbers. But they theoretically could be contenders in this division. Ryder, Miz and Truth could get new life with something to actually compete for. Imagine the high-flying action of Bourne, Kidd and Gabriel. Imagine WWE taking the kid gloves off Bryan (on a brief sabbatical from the main event in this case) and Rollins for 20 minutes. Imagine guys like Ziggler, Rhodes and Ambrose getting fresh in-ring chances to show off their workrate. This could work, and this could be fun.

The Intercontinental and United States championships aren’t being used anyway. Hell, why not just have Ambrose show up with a different belt when The Shield finishes doing its thing and start a seamless transition?

Let me guess, you don’t like the roster. Too many jobbers and stale guys, not enough freshness and excitement. Well you know who else is under 225? ALMOST EVERYBODY RELEVANT ON NXT.

  • Adam Rose, 221
  • NXT Champion Adrian Neville, 194
  • Aiden English, 215
  • C.J. Parker, 220
  • Corey Graves, 208
  • Sami Zayn, 192
  • Tyler Breeze, 195
  • NXT Tag Team Champion Viktor, 219

And those are just the guys who have competed on the show since the Network launched.

At least seven of those eight men have either the talent or persona deserving of a spot at the highest level. (I’m not sold on Parker.) Neville, Zayn and Graves are three of NXT’s best, and even with Bryan on the verge of being the company’s top man, they’re probably “too small to make an impact”. Why not give them a great chance of succeeding in a transition from NXT to the main roster?

Can you seriously say Sami Zayn and Corey Graves’ main event this week couldn’t be on the first hour of SmackDown? Are you telling me Neville and Ambrose, or Neville and Rollins, or Neville and Rhodes, couldn’t tear down the house? Like fans wouldn’t mark the hell out for Neville’s Red Arrow or the inward 450?

GIF from properlypromoted.com
GIF from properlypromoted.com

Like they wouldn’t be thoroughly entertained by a Tyler Breeze-Dashing Cody Rhodes “Not The Face” Match? Come on.

Triple H is developing these fresh faces for something, and they certainly don’t fit the 6-foot-4, 255-pound mold his chiseled physique once made. Why not ease the transition, give them a niche, and let them do something besides “pay their dues” jobbing for Alberto Del Rio or Sheamus in boring 5-minute filler bouts?

I miss the cruiserweights. Here’s a great way to bring them back in full force.

What do you think? Comment below, or drop me a line on Twitter. Enjoy WrestleMania Eve.

World Championship Wednesday: WCW Uncensored 1995 review

Welcome to World Championship Wednesday, our weekly review of a randomly selected WCW pay-per-view from the WWE Network. The selection process: My wife picks a month and a year, and I watch the corresponding event.

THIS WEEK: WCW Uncensored 1995.

Unsanctioned. Unauthorized. And unbelievable. It’s WCW Uncensored. From the booming metropolis of Tupelo, Miss. Yeah, this will be REAL hardcore. Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan and Mike Tenay on the call. The marquee matchup: Hulk Hogan vs. Vader in a strap match, with Ric Flair in Vader’s corner. Hogan counters with The Renegade. Wait, that’s not Lorenzo Lamas! We also get a martial arts match, a Texas Tornado match and a boxer vs. wrestler match. And for the first time, the first minute on the WCW hotline is free!

DUSTIN RHODES vs. THE BLACKTOP BULLY, King of the Road match (3:20)

They’re in a truck trailer, and the only way to win is by honking the horn. No, really. Take a look.

Uncensored 95 KOTR

 Heenan: “This has gotta smell like Dusty Rhodes’ living room in the back of that truck.” The Bully has one leg on the outside, but Rhodes connects with … a fencepost? We just saw a piledriver onto a hay bale, so I guess this is a wrestling match. Bully chokes The Natural with a rope, and Dustin gets a pail of water. New twist: Truck has to slow down and turn. Bully falls and Rhodes sways into the wire. Heenan: “I’ve seen Dusty walk that way before.” Shortly afterward, we pass a trailer park and Heenan has so many one-liners I can’t keep up. Also, the sun’s setting, so it’s hard to actually see the match. Now they’re at a stop sign, which must be the cue to end it, right? Bully apparently thinks that’s the case? Leg draped over again, and Dustin just starts yanking on the other. Both men up, Dustin falls back into the trailer. Bully reaches, but slips. Near the 13-minute mark, both men climb and reach for the horn.

Uncensored 95 KOTR2

Bully knocks Dustin down and gets the horn to stop the truck … oh, and win the match.

WINNER: Blacktop Bully, 13:12

TECHNICAL MERIT: Technical? Yeah right. ARTISTIC IMPRESSION: Interesting concept, but not a whole lot they can do.

TOTAL SCORE: 1/2*

This has to be why Dustin went to the WWF. “You make me go 13 minutes in the back of a truck … and lose? I’d rather rock face paint and latex and be … weird.”

WATCH OR SKIP? Skip.

Promo time: The Stud Stable is in the back. Bully made them 1-of-1. Arn Anderson will make it two in the boxer vs. wrestler against Johnny B. Badd, and Meng will complete the trifecta in the martial arts match vs. “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan. Actually, looks like Meng is up next.

MENG (w/Col. Parker) vs. “HACKSAW” JIM DUGGAN, Martial Arts Match (25:46)

The storyline here … I think: Meng was a bodyguard who superkicked Duggan at SuperBrawl and was stripped of his managerial privileges. So Meng (you may know him as Haku) transitioned to wrestler and took to it quickly. We have a special referee: Sonny Onoo, in his on-screen debut as a former karate champion. We have a slight delay, because Duggan refuses to bow. So many “HOOOO!”s and “USA!”s for cheap pops. Duggan finally relents, and Meng kicks him. Duggan working in the American style here … punches and a boot. Meng puts on a nerve hold, so Duggan grabs the other one.

Uncensored 95 Duggan

Sidenote: Duggan’s attire here is much better than his regular ring attire. He suddenly looks 10 years younger! All he needs is this:

Duggan FB2K

I kid, I kid.

Anyway, Meng is trying to make this match halfway technical with kicks, chops and holds. Maybe an eye gouge, as well. Duggan bumping around a bit, including falling down after he headbutts Meng. That means someone has a harder head than Hacksaw! Duggan gets some offense at 6:00, then grabs a hold of the ref. Duggan hits the traditional martial arts move, the 3-point stance clothesline, but Meng pops back up groggily. Parker on the apron, Duggan grabs him and Onoo, and Meng cuts an uncontested kick to the head for the pin.

WINNER: Meng, 7:04

TECHNICAL MERIT: Eh, OK, I guess. ARTISTIC IMPRESSION: Cool concept, but Duggan in a martial arts match?

TOTAL SCORE: *

WATCH OR SKIP? Skip.

Promo time: Johnny B. Badd, the boxer in this match against Arn. He’s wearing gloves, which seems dumb, but he thinks he can knock out the World Television Champion. Then video time with Arn out in the sticks with an SUV, talking about how tough and badass he is as the TV Champ. “What I do bell to bell is just wrestle. Better than anybody else.” He’ll try to prove it in a 10-round (?) match now.

WCW World Television Champion ARN ANDERSON (w/Col. Parker) vs. JOHNNY B. BADD (w/Roc Finnegan), Boxer vs. Wrestler Match (38:33)

So this is set up like a 10-round boxing match, except you can win by pin, submission or knockout.

Uncensored 95 boxing

Round 1: Badd leads with the jab; sound strategy. Arn tries to wrap him up, and Badd hits a combo in the corner that forces him to roll out. Arn selling well here. Credit to WCW: This round appears to be properly timed. Apparently no knockdown rule, or else Arn would’ve lost via TKO.

Round 2 (42:40): Now I think we’ll see some wrestling-type maneuvers. Well, until Badd with another combo. You can tell Mr. Mero has some experience. Single-leg by Arn, misses with the elbow. Still trying to figure out how the boxer is winning this one. Decisively.

In between rounds, Arn with the sneak attack and the DDT. NICE heel work. Then, while Mero’s in the corner, Arn attacks him again. He confirms with the ref it’s no-DQ, then tosses him outside.

Round 3 (46:44): Arn took advantage of the fact there are no rest periods in wrestling, and he has the advantage for the first time all night. The Colonel sets up the stool in the corner, and Arn whips him in. Big spinebuster, then Finnegan jumps on Arn to give Mero some time to recuperate. Mero unleashes a flurry with about 20 seconds left, but AA just discards him outside.

Bell rings, but Arn still going to work. After 3 rounds, Roc cuts the left glove. Arn interrupts again

Round 4 (50:45): Roc puts a bucket over Arn’s head, and Mero wallops him. He ditches the glove and nails AA with the left hook and the KO.

WINNER: Johnny B. Badd, :27 of Round 4

TECHNICAL MERIT: Nice work with the hands! ARTISTIC IMPRESSION: Very nice story.

TOTAL SCORE: ***1/4

Extra points for the crowd, which really got into the match. Great pop for AA finally getting his comeuppance. I liked this more than I should’ve, since this is the Match of the Night.

WATCH OR SKIP? Watch, and be pleasantly surprised.

Promo time: Savage in top form. Couldn’t understand about 60 percent of it, but there was this gem to Tenay: “I’ll knock you out. Get that smile off your face right now!”  SAVAGE PROMO: ***3/4

“MACHO MAN” RANDY SAVAGE vs. THE AVALANCHE (56:42)

If you watched WWF in the early ’90s, I could probably give you three guesses who Avalanche is, and you wouldn’t need two.

Uncensored 95 Avalanche

This was back when wrestlers couldn’t usually use the same gimmick in multiple promotions. Savage obviously was an exception. Earthquake was not, so a subtle tweak was needed. My wife popped when he heard Avalanche was “from Washington,” but the enthusiasm waned when I told her he was from the fictitous “Mt. Everett”. Savage with the crossbody onto the floor fewer than 90 seconds in, and he unsuccessfully went for the slam about 2 minutes in. The usual repertoire from the big guy, who really could move a bit for a super-heavyweight. DROPKICK AT 3:30. Someone in the front row with the best sign I’ve seen in a while:

Uncensored 95 sign

Savage takes the beatdown outside, then finally gets some breathing room on the apron. Top-rope crossbody into a STRONG kickout at 1. Sunset flip attempt squashed by the big man. Earthquake stomp around 8:00, but Savage rolls to temporary safety. Savage rolls Avalanche up for 2. Another dive attempt caught into a bear hug and smash into the turnbuckle. Powerslam and Avalanche to the second rope. Splash misses. Thank God. Savage goes up, Avalanche rolls out, Savage audibles to the double axe handle on the floor. Then a man dressed as a woman attacks Savage, then the ref.

Uncensored 95 Flair1

Punch, chop, punch, chop. I wonder who this is.

“WOOOOOOO!”

Uncensored 95 Flair2

Avalanche hits the splash, but Hogan runs in to even the score. Apparently, due to Flair’s interference, Savage wins an unsancationed match by DQ. LOL WCW.

WINNER: Savage (via DQ), 12:00.

TECHNICAL MERIT: Good. ARTISTIC IMPRESSION: Entertaining.

TOTAL SCORE: ***

This score is probably aided by 6-year-old Champ, who was all about Savage, Earthquake, et al. The Flair run-in helped, and I was pleasantly impressed with Avalanche. I forgot how formidable he was at his size, and how much he could do in the ring.

WATCH OR SKIP? Watch for Avalanche. Stay for Flair in drag.

Promo time: Harlem Heat.

Uncensored 95 HH

These guys were so good on the mic, they didn’t need Sherri Martel. It’s almost unfair having three people that skilled at promos. Booker: “After we leave this redneck town, it’s gon’ be obliviated, if you know what I’m saying.” HARLEM HEAT PROMO: ***1/2 Now it’s video time, recapping a Sting vs. Big Bubba Rogers feud that included a gimmick change for from The Guardian Angel back to his original Big Bubba persona:

Uncensored 95 Big Bubba

Stinger prepped for the match by going a little heavy around the eyes.

Uncensored 95 Sting

Sidenote: If you don’t want to have makeup like Flair or Sting (or Sherri), don’t forget to visit my wife’s beauty blog! She’s pretty, and she’s pretty good at what she does. Wife on Sting: “He didn’t blend. That’s the No. 1 rule!”

STING vs. BIG BUBBA ROGERS (1:16:27)

Sting gets the early offense, and Bubba’s entrance attire. He displays the hat like a battle trophy, then drops onto it and tosses it in the fifth row. Lucky kid. Sting is vicious in this one, beating up Bubba with strikes and chops. But when he goes for a leapfrog on the 6-foot-6 former Big Boss Man, he only jumps about 6-4. That one hurt me. Sting clutching the left knee; Bubba applying his Wrestling 101 lesson. Sting uses the right foot to break free, but not for long. One-legged Stinger uses the rope to hold himself up for a couple punches, but Bubba back to the knee. Elementary moves, but effective.

Heenan: “The prom queen’s name here last year was Bubba!’ “They should tear it down and build a slum.”  He LOVES being in Tupelo. 

Sting draped over the rope, so Bubba drops onto him. He makes another run, slides under and slaps Stinger. I think Heenan just made a Captain Planet reference. I think that was some subtle cross-promotion. Sting powers out of a piledriver attempt at 8:45, but hits the deck. Prof. Rogers has moved to the left ankle.

Heenan: “The good news is he won’t be able to sue ya.” Schiavone: *scoffs* “Why’s that?” Heenan: “Because he won’t have a leg to stand on!”

If you tune out for a few minutes, don’t worry. Bubba’s still working the left leg, though he seems to be recycling his moveset. Bubba goes up; Sting gets up and Bubba falls off the top. Sting goes up and hits him. Bubba goes for that slide-and-slap again, but misses. Stinger gets him inside and slaps on a sleeper until Bubba uses his tie for a jawbreaker. Top-rope splash from Sting, which hurts the knee, for 2. Sting hits Bubba and turns his back, so Bubba falls into the back of the leg.

The finish comes abruptly when Sting ducks a corner attack. Sting goes for the slam, but the leg gives and Bubba hooks it on the cover.

WINNER: Big Bubba, 13:47.

TECHNICAL MERIT: Somewhat repetitive, but good psychology. ARTISTIC IMPRESSION: Good story until the odd finish.

TOTAL SCORE: **1/4

WATCH OR SKIP? I’m torn on this one. Guess it wouldn’t hurt to watch.

The finish was so unexpected that it didn’t go over well, and it didn’t look good on TV because it was too close to the corner, and that’s the angle they used. Bubba looked OK, and Sting sold the leg well.

Video promo of the Tag Team Championship rivalry, then promo time with Brian Knobbs, who yells with a comical level of intensity. Jerry Sags, who’s somewhat subdued. A garbage can used as a prop, since the Nasties will stuff Harlem Heat in it. I don’t think they’ll fit. More video time with Harlem Heat.

WCW Tag Team Champions HARLEM HEAT vs. THE NASTY BOYS, Texas Tornado Match (1:37:46)

Texas Tornado Rules primer: Tornado tag, so all four men in the ring at the same time, and falls count anywhere. Sherri comes out alone, then the Nasties make their regular entrance. Knobbs takes a swing at Sherri, and she heads toward the aisle to implore her team to come out. They attack from behind to start things off. Double-team effort yields a sidekick from Booker T. at 1:30, a spike piledriver a few seconds later, and a big boot at 2:30. The Nasties are the faces here but, just like back in the day, I find myself rooting for Harlem Heat. The Nasties get a hold of Sherri, tear her clothes a bit, then send her on a Pit Stop from Sags. All four heading down the aisle 4 minutes in, and they’re fighting at the concessions. I feel like I’ve seen something similar … Sherri rightfully makes this a 3-on-2, and Stevie uses cotton candy as a weapon. Heenan makes a replacement player reference; I forgot about that part of the 1994-95 MLB strike.

This is a mess. Mustard everywhere, then Knobbs tries to hit one of Harlem Heat with something, slips and falls. I blame the slushies. Booker tosses Knobbs into the funnel cake stand at 8:00, destroying that, then Booker slips and falls behind Knobbs. Sags headbutts Stevie’s groin … and the bell rings? I guess Knobbs pinned Booker away from the camera. Then Sags pushes Sherri so she slips and slides butt first onto the concrete. Classy.

WINNERS: Nasty Boys, 8:49

TECHNICAL MERIT: Started strong, dipped quickly. ARTISTIC IMPRESSION: Nope.

TOTAL SCORE: 1/4*

Nine-year-old Champ watching this live would’ve loved the food night. Adult Champ couldn’t stand it. Just unsafe, and absolutely no concern for the manager, though Sherri probably didn’t care. That and the fact that finish was off-camera. That doesn’t advance the Uncensored gimmick; that advances the unorganized concept.

WATCH OR SKIP? SKIP.

Promo time: Vader and Flair, who have joined forces to try to eliminate Hogan. Flair is “possessed” by the concept, and since he can’t physically do it (I think he’s “retired” at this point), he enlisted Vader to do it. He changed into a sick Ralph Lauren T-shirt, but didn’t seem to use any makeup or polish remover. Great emotion from the dirtiest (and craziest) player in the game. FLAIR/VADER PROMO: ****

Uncensored 95 Flair3

Recap of the Hogan-Vader-Flair rivalry, then promo time with the champ. Typical Hogan promo, talking about the “ultimate surprise,” The Renegade. HOGAN PROMO: **

Before the main event, MICHAEL BUFFER ALERT. Did he do more main events for WCW or boxing? Serious question.

Uncensored 95 Buffer

WCW World Heavyweight Champion HULK HOGAN vs. WCW United States Champion VADER, Leather Strap Match (1:58:32?)

A bit of running commentary throughout the show: Jimmy Hart is missing, and he didn’t turn up with Hogan upon his entrance. Sidenote: It’s crazy how young Hogan looks … and how good he looks.

Uncensored 95 Hogan

He looked juiced-up and bloated during his WWF run, but he was only about 272 pounds for this match and it showed. The man’s physical prime was in his early 40s. … That’s a good sign for my future.

Flair and Vader had Hogan outnumbered in the ring, but The Renegade, a blatant Ultimate Warrior knockoff, runs to the ring and gets rid of Flair. Temporarily, anyway.

Hogan in control early, and he bites Vader in the corner multiple times. The strap makes its debut at 2:00, and Hogan uses it on Vader and Flair, who rolls out. Renegade no-sells Flair’s chops and runs Flair out. Vader slams Hogan at 4:00 and hits a Vader Bomb. We get a quick look at Renegade …

Uncensored 95 Renegade

… as Vader has his legs wrapped around Hogan’s upper body in a wear-down hold. Vader frees Hogan from the strap and whips him repeatedly as a battered Hart runs ringside just before the 6:00 mark. Hogan heads into the aisle, and Vader tries to introduce a chair to the proceedings. Hart creates a diversion, and Hogan gets a hold of the steel and hits Vader about four times, getting a running start on the last one. Strap, to which Hogan reattaches himself, then chair. Hogan dips under the corner in the ring to the other side and pulls Vader into the ringpost twice. Hogan reverses course, rediscovers the chair and reintroduces it to Vader. Meanwhile, Flair and Renegade are running around in and out of the ring, distracting from the main task at hand. The strap ends up between Vader’s legs, and Hogan pulls multiple times.

Schiavone mentions there’s been no attempt to win the match, and he’s right. It’s a typical strap match — touch all four corners successfully to win. Hogan slams Vader on the mats outside near 11:00. Hogan drags Vader around the outside and starts touching ringposts, but Vader yanks him into the barricade to stop the momentum. Vader takes a break from beating down Hogan to smack Renegade in the aisle, but the latter no-sells once again.

Back into the ring and a high-impact chokeslam at 13:00, followed by a splash. Strap shots and a suplex, but Hogan pops back up and unleashes the arsenal. Big boot and legdrop, but now he has to drag Vader around. He gets three corners, but Vader suddenly gets heavier. A masked guy runs in and lays out Renegade, then distracts Hogan long enough for Flair to bust out a wooden chair. Vader gets three, but Flair comes in with the wooden chair and convinces Vader to go for a splash. Somersault attempt misses Hogan and hits the chair. Flair pulls Vader, who is unstrapped, out of the ring and hits Hogan with another wooden chair. Flair struts while Hogan hulks up, and the Hulkster just starts whipping the Nature Boy. Big boot and a strap beating. Now he’s hooked Flair into the strap and he makes it around all four corners. Somehow this counts.

WINNER: Hogan, 18:27.

TECHNICAL MERIT: Below average. ARTISTIC IMPRESSION: Decent story, but WAY overbooked.

TOTAL SCORE: *3/4

Just way too much going on in this match, between Flair, Renegade *and* Hart ringside, and the masked man running in.

WATCH OR SKIP? Skip. Yes, skip the main event. Just do it.

Afterward, it’s a 2-on-2 fight until another masked man comes to the ring with a chair and goes to the side of the heels. Arn Anderson shuffles down the aisle in the same black sweatsuit of the masked man, but he’s tied up. The man in the ring hits Flair and Vader with the chair and unmasks, and it’s Savage. The heels bail, and Hogan, Savage, Renegade and Hart celebrate in the ring.

Final thoughts: This probably passed for edgy and cool in the mid-’90s, and like I said during the tag team match, 9-year-old me watching this live probably would’ve eaten it up. But looking back, it just doesn’t hold up. Flair’s crazy, and they have nothing good for Hogan to do at the top of the card. Jim Duggan is in a MARTIAL ARTS match. Boxer vs. Wrestler didn’t work when Muhammad Ali and Antonio Inoki did it, and it was a mess when Hogan and Sylvester Stallone followed suit. Why would it work here? There was a match in the back of a livestock trailer, and a glorified food fight involving the TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS. There was a disqualification in an “unsactioned, uncensored” match, a match that finished on the B-roll camera, and a strap match that ended when the winner dragged someone other than his opponent around the ring. It was a mess, and I think that’s what they were going for … it just was more hot mess than cool mess.

OVERALL WATCH OR SKIP? Skip this one.

WCW fans: Come back next week for a review of World War 3, 1997. FINALLY, our random selection includes the nWo!

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.

 

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.