On Sunday Night, Cactus Jack left about 800 wrestlers for dead. Everyone, from jobbers all the way up to the World Champion were no match for Jack and his shovel. Are there going to be repercussions for the madman from New Mexico? Will Dustin Rhodes win the big one? Just what DID Erik Watts do to get arrested? And what the hell is a Thunder Cage? We hope to address this tonight, but being WCW, I’ll be happy if just one of these points is touched on.
Since this is 1993, Vader’s team is dubbed “THE EVIL TEAM” by the Unknown Voice Over. Shades of grey weren’t wrestling’s strongest suit in those days.
LIVE from Milwaukee, WI, TONY SCHIAVONE is joined by … BILL WATTS? This can’t possibly be our announce team. Watts gloats about teaming with The Crusher against Larry Hennig and Larry Zbyszko in Milwaukee shortly after founding father Soloman Juneau settled in the region in the early parts of the 19th century. Watts takes us through the state of the union; Van Hammer tore a guitar string and won’t be able to arm wrestle tonight. He’s being replaced by Vinnie Vegas for reasons. Meanwhile, his son Erik, who he says is “like a son” to him, told him he was arrested for no good reason at all. And because of this relationship, Bill believes him; but it needs to be investigated. As a result, he won’t be wrestling Cactus Jack. Wouldn’t an appropriate punishment be to have him wrestle Cactus Jack?
In the back, LARRY ZBYSZKO is with the aforementioned ERIK WATTS, and it becomes increasingly obvious that he’s been charged with stealing the wardrobe from the host of Nick Arcade.
Bill Watts is frustrated that his son can’t compete, but has a fair replacement: Johnny B Badd. Man, that’s a shockingly low opinion he has of the man who’s “like a son” to him.
JIM ROSS and JESSE VENTURA are the real announcers, though I don’t know if this is an improvement.
CACTUS JACK vs. JOHNNY B BADD
These guys actually have a little history, partnering together in the Lethal Lottery at Starrcade – but like all other Cactus Jack partners, Badd ate it like a champ. Ventura correctly points out that the audience has a shocking number of Cactus Jack signs, fallout from Sunday’s anti-hero face turn. Cactus misses an avalanche, and gets rolled up for 2. Badd works an armbar, but that doesn’t go very far, and Johnny gets punched in the head. Badd slams Jack’s face into the buckle, and cradles Cactus for 2. Up top, Badd misses a sunset flip, and Jack drops an elbow for the quick pin at 2:53. This should have been a completely one-sided squash; that was WAYYYYY too much offense for (at this point) useless Johnny. 1/2*
During the break, the greatest music video in the history of wrestling debuts. I’ve posted it before; but let’s go through it one more time. A group of naughty (black) kids refuse to go to school, despite the pleas of the (good) white kid, because they just want to play basketball. They continue to play, when a limo pulls up, and a large woman begin shrieking “EVERYBODY HERE COMES TOO COLD SCORPIO!” The basketball is whiffed with one of the worst looking air-balls I’ve ever seen, which is both necessary to take us to the next part of the video – but also subliminally highlight that these kids should probably focus on their studies since an NBA career is not in the cards. The ball takes a perfect bounce into the limo, and Scorpio bursts through the doors bouncing the ball – basically playing the Wesley Snipes version of the Kool Aid Man. He dunks, drawing high praise from the drop-outs. Scorpio asks why they’re not in school, and one of the delinquents tells him they’re off to the Arcade. Scorpio tells them Mortal Kombat is going to have to wait, they need an education, and he’s going to take them there. The kids perk up, thinking they’re about to hop in the limo, bathe in Dom, and toss around Benjamin’s like Floyd Mayweather. However, Scorpio immediately blue balls them and informs the group “we gonna step”. Then he dances with a bunch of sluts for some reason. This entire segment is Faces of Fear levels of amazing, and completely defines a generation. What that is, is really hard to say – but we’re going to assume it involves stepping.
2 COLD SCORPIO vs. SCOTTY FLAMINGO
It breaks my heart in knowing Flamingo has no shot in hell following that video, because any man willing to strap on those tiny pink bicycle shorts and thrust violently at whatever’s he hallucinating about deserves a rocket strapped to his back. Flamingo actually has the crowd support which pleases me greatly. Scorpio hits Flamingo with a springboard back elbow before whiffing on a kick that Flamingo sells by literally jumping backwards and out of the ring. Champ. Scorpio decks him with a big right hand off the apron, but Flamingo’s back in first and hits a dropkick to send Scorpio back to the outside. A plancha (!) connects, and Flamingo throws Scorpio back in for 1. Scorpio sneaks in a small package for 2, and that enrages Flamingo and his protruding penis. Scorpio keeps on, hitting a pair of dropkicks and Flamingo begs for a time out. Instead, he’s given a rotating splash off the top, but Flamingo kicks out at 2. A Stinger splash misses, and Scorpio eats buckle, allowing Flamingo to roll him up for 2. A dropkick from Scorpio sets up a legdrop, and the Diss That Don’t Miss finishes us off at 4:12. **
CHRIS BENOIT vs. BRAD ARMSTRONG
This is Benoit’s WCW debut, and he’s introduced as a 7-year veteran by Ross to give him some credibility. Man did he age fast, he looks like a kid here, even though he’s in his mid 20’s. Benoit goes for an early powerbomb, but Armstrong rolls off the back and hiptossees Chris. A dropkick leads to an armbar to slow Benoit, who is an absolute ball of energy here. Benoit bridges loose and takes Armstrong down, winning a test of strength. Armstrong backdrops out, and goes back to the armbar. Chris finally has enough and counters into a hammerlock, but Armstrong dumps him through the middle rope, leading to another debut … the feathered mullet.
Back in, Armstrong plants Chris with a dropkick, and goes back to the armbar. I’m not sure keeping Benoit moving at a snail’s pace is the best way to show him off. Benoit shakes loose and goes for a Liontamer, but Armstrong won’t turn, so Benoit gives him a hot shot instead. Armstrong staggers on the apron, so Chris gives him a violent headbutt, and then nails him with a double jump clothesline drawing a massive pop! Armstrong crawls back in, and takes a clothesline so hard I’m surprised his head’s still attached. A backbreaker is followed with a scoop slam so hard that Armstrong bounces off the canvas like a basketball. Chris heads up, but Armstrong goes to cut him off. Benoit ain’t having that, headbutting Armstrong like a boss, and as soon as Brad falls, Benoit’s right behind him with the swandive. Still, Armstrong rolls away, and Brad hits a swinging neckbreaker for 2. Benoit immediately stands up and hits the Dragon Suplex for the win at 9:15! This was the tale of two matches, but as soon as Benoit got going, this was outstanding. It’s incredible they didn’t offer this guy a huge contract and immediately insert him into the US title picture, because he was ready, even at this point. ***
Meanwhile, TONY SCHIAVONE introduces a video package to highlight the reunion of the Rock n Roll Express. They’ve been tearing up Smokey Mountain Wrestling, but WCW’s arranged a one-time appearance for the new SMW tag-team champions to appear at Superbrawl. That’s a fantastic working partnership. I actually have the bulk of the SMW library on one of my hard drives … do I dare extend myself even thinner?
JESSE VENTURA excitedly hosts the latest in the Strongest Arm competition. The reigning champion is hurt, and the runner up, Ron Simmons, is in the main event – but we’re given Tony Atlas challenging … Vinnie Vegas. Apparently Vegas is being given this opportunity because he was eliminated unfairly from the tournament, since he is left handed. This is actually happening, isn’t it? Vegas, for the record, is sporting an incredible pair of pink hospital scrubs tonight. Jesse provides some scintillating play-by-play that I could not possibly top (“HERE COMES VINNIE VEGAS BACK! HE’S ROLLING THE DICE!”), and after roughly two and a half decades, Vegas wins. You know, even with the hindsight that Over the Top drew absolutely no money, WCW continues to run with this. Though, really, I’m secretly ok with that.
And speaking of things I’m totally ok with, VADER is screaming about Sting from inside a blizzard. He has a special challenge to present him with, but he wants to do it from inside his White Castle of Fear! Sting is promised a good time if he’s willing to live on the edge. I think this was Chapter 14 in 50 Shades of Vader.
LARRY ZBYSZKO covers the #1 contender tournament for the US title that’s been going on. Rhodes and Steamboat face off on Saturday Night, and will face Rick Rude on the 23rd … unless he’s too hurt to fight. If that’s the case, this weekend’s bout is for the strap. Fun!
THE WRECKING CREW vs. THE Z-MAN and JOHNNY GUNN
Rage and Fury make up the Wrecking Crew, but while Fury is probably not known to you, he has a couple of very famous brothers in Animal, and John Laurenitis. Rage is just the latest incarnation of The Reverend Al Green, who has not begun his beastial transition from 70’s Soul Singer to Dog. Ventura sums up his predictions: “I’ll take the two ugly guys!” That’s not very kind to Tom Zenk. Rage tries a press slam, but Zenk escapes and hits a cross body for 2. Team Powder Blue clear the ring, and while the Crew reground, Z-Man hits a tope on both! Gunn comes in and is held hostage by Rage, but he sidesteps the attack and Fury nails his own partner. Fury regroups and blasts Gunn with a forearm, but Gunn hits a quick faceplant and tags out. Zenk takes a gutwrench powerbomb to set up a spinning sidewalk slam, and Z-Man is reeling. Rage comes in and ties up a bit with the referee giving Z-Man a chance to hit a crossbody, but Rage hangs on and just drops him down into a slam. A second rope axehandle is blocked with the superkick, and Zenk makes the hot tag. Gunn cleans house, but Rage hits a cheap shot to set up the Wrecking Ball and the pin at 6:08. I always like a couple of lumbering, clumsy heels, and these guys will be exactly what the doctor ordered on the J-shows. *
LARRY ZBYSZKO has tracked down BRIAN PILLMAN and STEVE AUSTIN. Pillman promises that the champs are about to pay a hefty fine for carrying the gold, and guarantees a dynasty is about to kick off. I’m all in on the Hollywood Blondes era.
STING is welcomed to the arena by TONY SCHIAVONE to respond to Vader. He’s never walked away from an invitation in his life, and he certainly won’t walk away from the White Castle of Fear. DUSTIN RHODES and RON SIMMONS join Sting, and even though Van Hammer is too
useless injured to join them tonight, they don’t feel any more short-handed than they did before he was hurt. Only Van Hammer could be double booked and STILL not let anyone down when he fails to appear.
Back in the locker room, LARRY ZBYSZKO is joined by VADER, PAUL ORNDORFF, BARRY WINDHAM, HARLEY RACE, and the man who doesn’t need any partners to single-handedly win this match, THE BARBARIAN. Race doesn’t want to talk about the Thunder Cage because he’s so angry at Cactus Jack. Someday, he’s going to pay for “coming at me with a SCOOP … SHOVEL!” In fact, he doesn’t like anyone associated with Cactus Jack, and fires the Barbarian. The Barbarian lifts Race in a double armed chokehold because he’s the coolest man on the planet, but Vader cheap shots him from behind and Orndorff piledrives him. Race: “ONE MORE TIME!!!!” No one dares do it one more time, because there’s no reason to make the Barbarian any angrier than they already have. Just this stunt is going to cost everyone living in a small village their lives.
WCW airs a package on the history of Superbrawl because whatever The Barbarian is doing is definitely too graphic for your average viewer, and once they’ve managed to clean up the locker room, Larry’s retaken his post with RICKY STEAMBOAT and SHANE DOUGLAS. Steamboat promises that the dynasty is going to end before it begins. Douglas just wants to get to the ring and get it on. So does Chyna, quite frankly.
SHANE DOUGLAS and RICKY STEAMBOAT vs. STEVE AUSTIN and BRIAN PILLMAN (for the WCW world tag-team titles)
We’re on a 30-minute time limit given the TV limitations, but that seems asinine since there’s like 30 minutes left in the show and we have a Thunder Cage to see, assuming anyone survived the wrath of The Barbarian. I’m kinda amped to see this incredible collection of talent, and Shane Douglas, in one ring at the same time. Steamboat tries to end things early with a crossbody, but that just draws everyone in for a massive brawl. The faces clear the ring, and Austin’s not impressed at all. Back in, Steve offers the hand of friendship, but Steamboat slaps it away. Disrespect Austin and pay, and he beats the shit out of Steamboat. Pillman comes in, but Steamboat has his way with him, hiptossing and dropkicking him at will. Douglas and Steamboat tag in and out quickly, hitting one move at a time to Pillman’s arm, wearing him down. Pillman twists his knee and it looks like we may be throwing in the towel on this one early. Douglas cautiously checks it out … and takes a headbutt to the gut while Pillman laughs like a hyena. Pillman goes for a rana, but Douglas turns it into a slam for 2. Austin comes in but Douglas wrestles him right down to the mat. Steamboat helps keep Austin in the corner with a hammerlock slam, and a sunset flip from Douglas gets 2. Austin comes back with a handful of tights for 2, and gets into a test of strength. Neither wins, but Douglas rushes to the corner and bounces back with a second rope rear elbow for 2. Steamboat slams Douglas on Austin for 2, and when Pillman rushes to save his buddy, Steamboat slams Brian on Austin as well! Things calm down a little, and Austin inches his way back to his corner. Pillman decks Steamboat allowing Austin to hit a backdrop suplex, and Pillman tags himself in. A cheap shot draws in Douglas, and while the referee restrains him, Steamboat is thrown over the top rope where Austin happily slams him on the concrete floor! Dirty and delicious. Steamboat fights his way back to the apron and nearly suplexes Pillman to the floor, but Austin kicks Steamboat in the small of the back, and Pillman reverses to bring Steamboat back in for 2. The boys beat Steamboat like a pinada, and the longer he takes to spew forth candy, the harder they hit. A faceplant from Pillman is held on, and Steamer’s face is ground into the mat. Steamboat gets a surprise sunset flip, but Austin was busy chatting to the referee to get a count. Austin tags in as Steamboat desperately tries to karate chop his way loose, and JUST as it looks like he’s going to get out, Austin hits the backdrop suplex for 2! The crowd collectively gasped when Ricky was denied the tag, great spot. Austin works a reverse backbreaker, and Pillman makes the blind tag to attack … but Steamboat ducks and Pillman nails Austin! A springboard double karate chop knocks down both challengers, and Steamboat makes it oh so close before Pillman stops him. Steamboat hits him with a spinning suplex, and both guys are down. Pillman desperately tries to stop the tag, but Ricky makes it this time as the arena explodes, and Douglas destroys both guys. Pillman takes a belly to belly, but the referee is trying to keep the desperate Steamboat in his corner … and Austin drops a knee off the top rope! Pillman is rolled on top, but Douglas kicks out and the place is rocking now! Austin and Steamboat trade punches on the outside while the referee desperately tries to maintain order, but JUST as the referee starts dragging Steamboat back to his corner, Austin grabs a belt and sneaks in to blast Douglas upside the head with the sharp side of the gold! The referee was still paying attention though, and immediately disqualifies both guys at 13:43! The fans are positively rabid now, THRILLED the miserable bastards got caught. They don’t care though, as Pillman hits a DDT on Steamboat, while Douglas spurts blood from his forehead. Next, the belts are used to whip Steamboat, but BRAD ARMSTRONG leads a BRIGADE OF LOSERS to the ring to save the day. Austin and Pillman take the gold and parade around the ring, holding the belts as high in the air as they can. This is everything I could ever hope for from my favorite scumbags. ****
VADER and HARLEY RACE head to the ring to talk with JESSE VENTURA. Race gloats that Vader’s the greatest champion in history, but that draws out an irate RON SIMMONS. Simmons says the first time Vader lets his guard down, he’ll put him on his back. Race tries a sucker punch, so Simmons kicks his ass and then goes for Vader. A spinebuster takes out the champion, and Simmons turns back to the ramp to slaughter Race. Vader rushes in to save his manager, and jumps on the back of Simmons which HAS to smart! He splashes Simmons on the concrete, and attacks the injured shoulder with a pair of shoulderbreakers. STING and DUSTIN RHODES rush in to save their friend, but they’re way late. Simmons is out of the main event.
BARRY WINDHAM, PAUL ORNDORFF, and VADER (with Harley Race) vs. STING and DUSTIN RHODES (in a Come Dressed as You Are, handicap Thunder Cage match)
As it turns out, street clothes for Vader are exactly the same thing he wears all the time. I admire his dedication to the look. So, to answer what exactly a Thunder Cage is, it’s essentially a Hell in a Cell, but constructed like an upside-down deep fryer basket. Rhodes goes after Windham as you’d expect, but a blind tag surprises Windham, and he eats a face plant from Sting. Vader wants a piece of Sting, and tags in to go right after him. Sting is immediately overpowered, and Vader flexes to remind him he’s the man. Sting throws some desperate punches, but Vader starts throwing his giant clubs. Sting battles back and Vader starts rocking, so he quickly hits an atomic drop, followed by a DDT. The Stinger Splash has Vader wobbly, and Sting doesn’t relent, hammering with everything he’s got! The fans are loving Sting’s fight, but you know it this isn’t it, because here comes the heels. Sting fights them off, but Vader is able to recover and he hits the bear clap. Off the top, a clothesline drops Sting. Ross: “That defies logic! A 400 pound man should not be able to come off the top rope like that!” So, he opts to defy logic again, but his splash misses and Sting clotheslines him to the floor! The fans are rockin’, and Sting howls to them … completely missing that Orndorff has rushes him from behind, and Sting’s dropped with a German suplex! Vader officially tags Orndorff in, and he stomps Sting into a puddle. An elbow to the little Stinger (which Jesse reminds us is a legal blow in this match) brings in Windham, and he’s ready to dish a little violence. A vertical suplex is followed by a cheap shot to Rhodes. Dustin rushes in, and gets avalanched by Vader in the corner. Good job Dustin! Vader tags in, and crushes Sting with the avalanche as well before hocking a loogie at Rhodes. My man! A press slam, complete with Vader tossing Sting in the air as he benches him, keeps Sting down, and Windham comes in to hit his Superplex. Sting fights off the Superplex, which would have undoubtedly ended this, and gets the hot tag to Rhodes. Dustin fights with all 3 guys who have come into the ring now, and manages to beat them down briefly. Windham eats a corner clothesline, as CACTUS JACK rushes in with a pair of bolt cutters! He hacks his way through the lock, and welcomes himself to the fray – officially declaring himself on the side of the faces! Windham tries to stop him as Orndorff works over Rhodes, but he rips off his boot and starts clobbering all 3 guys! Vader avalanches Rhodes again, while Orndorff tosses Jack through the ropes, where he flies into the side of the cage and splats on the floor full force, as always. Sting is dumped, leaving Rhodes one on one with Orndorff. However, Cactus wills himself back in, and he comes off the top with the boot to the back of Orndorff’s head and scores the pin at 11:25! Sadly, this was rushed because TV time was at a premium and WCW didn’t think to cut out some of the unnecessary fat. **1/2
JIM ROSS wants a word with Jack, and the audience is fully behind this. Jack says for the last 9 years he’s been called a psycho, and a warped loser. He’s got a neck that hurts him every morning when he wakes up thanks to Orndorff, and he’s probably in over his head. His ribs hurt because Vader splashed him, and he knows he’s in over his head. However … you can beat him, you can hurt him, but you can’t stop him. “SO PAUL ORNDORFF, BRING IT ON! BRING EVERY OUNCE OF ENERGY CUZ YOU’RE GONNA NEED IT!” The face turn is complete, and it looks like we have the first break-out main eventer of 1993.
I wasn’t expecting a ton out of this show given the clog of names like Van Hammer and Erik Watts being heavily advertised – but not only was the dead weight shoved aside for the most part, all of the young guys were given plenty of opportunity to shine, and shine they did. Austin is looking like a polished vet, Chris Benoit is a phenomenal new intense entry to the federation, and Mick Foley’s the second hottest commodity they’re riding (behind Sting). We’re off to an incredibly promising start to 1993, and it’s all up to WCW to take advantage.