The SmarK Rant for WCW WrestleWar 92 – 05.17.92
Hey, as promised in the recent WCW Saturday Night rant, here’s a long overdue redo of one of WCW’s all time great PPV shows. Of course, immediately after this show ended, it was hardly the quality of the PPV that became the talk of the wrestling world.
Live from Jacksonville, FL, drawing what the Observer estimates at between 5000-6000 paid.
Your hosts are Jim Ross & Jesse Ventura. Those two just never meshed on commentary.
US tag team title: Greg Valentine & Terry Taylor v. The Fabulous Freebirds
I was never really clear on Taylor’s gimmick as “The Taylor Made Man”, aside from the fact that he wore a Hugh Heffner smoking jacket to the ring. Meanwhile, the Freebirds don’t even have matching gear at this point, so obviously the end was near for the team. Hayes manages to outsmart the champions and tricks them into a collision, then rolls up Valentine for two. Hayes gets a hiptoss on Hammer, but tries a second one and gets elbowed for his troubles, and Valentine chops away on the ropes. Hayes with a pair of clotheslines for two and brings in Garvin, who goes to work on Valentine’s arm. The Birds do some double-teaming behind the ref’s back and then bring Taylor over and work on his arm as well. It’s armbar after armbar, but Terry finally tosses Hayes to the ramp to escape, but then Hayes backdrops him back into the ring and drops an elbow for two. Garvin comes in and gets the heat for a bit as Taylor goes to a chinlock and this match is literally putting me to sleep. Hayes quickly gets the hot tag and cleans house, but Taylor breaks up a DDT attempt with the Five-Arm and Valentine gets two. Valentine with a backbreaker for two and JESUS are they doing another heat segment now? So yeah, Valentine works Hayes over on the mat and goes to the figure-four, but Garvin makes the save. Valentine works the arm and whips him into the corner, and Hayes basically just crumples without even taking a bump off it and everyone is lost. So Hayes slugs Taylor down and makes a hot tag to Garvin, who rolls up Taylor for two. The champs double-team Garvin and Valentine trips him up from the floor, but Hayes saves. Garvin DDTs Taylor and gets the pin and the titles at 16:00 while Hayes holds off Valentine, looking like he can barely walk. Hayes was pretty much done after this, and the Birds dropped the belts to the awesome twosome of Dick Slater & The Barbarian a couple of weeks later. And that was it for the belts as they were thankfully just forgotten and retired. This was a complete snoozer of an opener, although as Dave noted in the Observer, it would have been awesome in 1983. Hayes in particular looked AWFUL and blown up super early. *1/2
Tracy Smothers v. Johnny B. Badd
Well this is quite the random match, especially since Badd was feuding with Scotty Flamingo at this point. Badd gets a rollup for two and goes to work with armdrags, and Tracy bails to escape. Back in, Tracy gets a cheapshot and high kick for two, and chokes him out on the ropes. To the top with the flying elbow that eventually became The Jawjacker in SMW, but that only gets two. Back up again with a high cross, but Johnny rolls through for two. Another high kick gets two as this drags on with a dead crowd. Tracy goes to the chinlock and Badd comes back with a sunset flip for two and small package for two. Smothers goes back to the chinlock as Jesse questions whether the lips on Badd’s tights mean “kiss my ass” and JR just completely no-sells the conversation. I feel like Good Ol’ JR would have more fun with this pairing. Badd comes back with a powerslam and a sunset flip for two, but Smothers uses more redneck kung fu, so Badd punches him out for the pin at 7:02. A completely pointless match. *1/2
Meanwhile, the Freebirds and Precious (?!?) celebrate their title win. Where did THAT come from? Was she even on TV with them at this time? Also, she looks completely different with normal straight brown hair. After that, Tony confirms that we haven’t seen her in years, and I’m pretty sure we never saw her again after this.
Marcus Bagwell v. Scotty Flamingo
OK, at this point I’m thinking it might not live up to the reputation it’s gained. They fight for the lockup to start and trade slaps and takedowns, then bitchslap each other some more. Scotty bumps all over and Bagwell gets a backdrop suplex for two off that. Scotty tries his own suplex and Bagwell reverses to another one of his own, but Flamingo tosses him out and gets a backdrop suplex to take over. Scotty goes up with a fistdrop for two and hits the chinlock. They trade shoulderblocks and tumble to the floor, but Bagwell comes back and makes his goofy babyface comeback. Perfectplex gets two, but Flamingo lands in the ropes and Bagwell celebrates like a moron. He tries a rollup instead, but Scotty outsmarts him and rolls through with the tights for the pin at 7:15. Bagwell was still pretty green and this was another nothing match in a series of them thus far. *1/2
Junkyard Dog & Ron Simmons v. Cactus Jack & Mr. Hughes
I love how Hughes is still introduced as “The Bodyguard” even though he’s not actively guarding anyone at this point. The angle to set this up was Abdullah the Butcher and Jack attacking Simmons, so I have no idea where Hughes came from. Jack attacks JYD during the entrance and drops an elbow off the ramp in an awesome bump, probably the most impressive thing on the show thus far. So Dog gets carried out by officials while Jesse is like “OK, count him out and let’s get to the next match”. I dunno, the talent pool wasn’t particularly deep at this point. If we skip this one, we might end up with a 15:00 Vinnie Vegas match or something. So Simmons decides to go it alone and attacks both heels and the ref tells Cactus to stay out of he ring. So I guess it’s a singles match? OK then.
Ron Simmons v. Mr. Hughes
Simmons puts Hughes on the floor with a hiptoss as Jesse makes an offhand comment and brings up the name of BILL WATTS for the first time on WCW TV. Hughes with a slam and he drops a knee for two and pounds away in the corner. Hughes chokes him out on the ropes, but Ron gets a sunset flip for two. Hughes chokes him out on the ropes, but Simmons comes back with a hiptoss as Jesse is really worked up about Hughes and Jack not being allowed to tag. Who made this decision? How did they decide which one would wrestle? Jim Ross keeps trying to blow it off and Jesse keeps picking at that scab. Anyway, Simmons finishes with a spinebuster and chop block at 5:40. It was a match. *
Super Invader v. Todd Champion
See what I mean about the talent pool at this point? Anyway, Todd is representing the WCW Special Forces, and has the Olympic rings on his trunks, so I guess logically he must be representing the Special Olympics. The Invader attacks to start and drops an elbow as JR questions the significance of the glove on Invader’s hand. Um, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say TO PROTECT HIS HAND? Is there some other reason people wear gloves that I’m missing? Invader chokes away in the corner and follows with a suplex as he’s not even pretending to do the goofy karate gimmick here and is just doing the usual lazy Hercules match. Invader with the chinlock and this is BRUTAL. Champion fights out and Invader elbows him down and tosses him to the floor and into the railing as Todd flails like a fish out there. I can understand why dumbass promotions kept giving him chances but HOLY SHIT is he bad. Back in, Invader goes up and lands on Champion’s foot, and Todd makes the comeback and manages to fuck up a clothesline. So he gets an elbow instead, but Invader half-ass drops him on the top rope and finishes with a powerbomb at 5:28. These two stunk up the joint and then some. -**
Big Josh v. Richard Morton
COME ON. This show is making my recommendation look bad. Morton is subbing for Diamond Studd, who quit right before the show because they wouldn’t give him a guaranteed contract. Luckily, there was another promotion that was more than happy to push him in 1992. The endless heel run of Morton is baffling, as you’d think they would have just gone back to letting him do his usual role once it initially bombed and the York Foundation broke up. Josh takes him down and does the “log roll” on Morton, but Morton gets a kneelift and pounds on him with forearms. They slug it out in the corner and Josh won’t let him out of there and then hits him with a running forearm in the corner. He’s being pretty snug out there with those. Morton finally hits a backdrop suplex to escape that and drops a knee to take over. Josh chops back, but misses an elbow and Morton gets two. Kneedrop gets two and Ricky goes to the armbar for some reason, but Josh fights out of that and drops an elbow for two. Morton goes back to the arm, but Josh fights back with a belly to belly and follows with a butterfly suplex for two. Finally he hits an atomic drop and finishes with the butt splash at 7:28. Meh. Josh was all fired up with the chops and forearms for the first little bit, but the crowd was dead and Morton just slowed it to a crawl. *
WCW Light Heavyweight title: Brian Pillman v. Tom Zenk
WCW weirdness: They actually change Zenk’s mostly generic “YEAH YEAH YEAH” rock entrance to an even MORE generic rock song. Pretty sure that’s not overdubbed or anything. Zenk eschews the handshake because he’s all fired up, and they both try a dropkick and miss. Funny to see that Zenk is legit looking thinner here, as though the weight limit was a real thing. Pillman works the arm a bit while Jesse buries Miami of Ohio football and JR is just gritting his teeth. Pillman grabs a headlock and Zenk takes him down with an armdrag and goes to a hammerlock on the mat, but Pillman takes him down with a flying headscissors and goes to his own hammerlock. Pillman with the headscissors and Jesse is just agog at the idea of Pillman playing nose tackle. And JR just keeps no-selling all of Jesse’s bait. Stop taking yourself so damn seriously, Jim! Zenk with a pair of cradles for two and a sunset flip for two, but Pillman fires off some chops with MUSTARD and that actually makes the crowd go “OOOOOH!” Pillman works on the leg, but tries a senton onto the leg and misses, and that aggravates his bad back. Zenk gives a little heel sneer and stomps the back, and then adds a suplex for two. Jesse is relieved that someone has given in to the dark side, of course. Backbreaker and Zenk tries a pump splash, but Pillman gets the knees up and goes back to the leg. Pillman with the figure-four and they slap each other while in the move, but Zenk fights it into a reversal and the crowd is buying into it 100%. But then Pillman reverses it again and they end up in the ropes for the break. Pillman with more chops in the corner and he tries Air Pillman, but Zenk counters with a powerslam for two. Pillman with a crucifix for two. They head up and Pillman tries a superplex, but Zenk fights him off and follows with a high cross that nearly overshot, and Pillman takes a flip bump off it, which gets two. They trade leapfrogs and collide in mid-air for the double down, but Zenk faceplants him for two. Zenk collapses off an irish whip and claims a knee injury, so Pillman goes up and Zenk superkicks him on the way down for two. So now Zenk puts the boots to him and goes to the top himself, but the missile dropkick misses and Pillman rolls him up to retain at 15:33. Now THIS turned the show around. ****
WCW World tag team titles: The Steiner Brothers v. Tatsumi Fujinami & Takayuki Iizuka
Iizuka was a young lion at this point, as opposed to now, when he’s still around as a crazy old man with IRON FINGERS. I never understood the point of this, especially when they had done the title change from the Dangerous Alliance just a few nights earlier. I think swapping out the Steiners for Steamboat & Koloff in the Wargames match might have made it a bigger deal. However, Jesse clarifies the heat behind this match: The Steiners are fighting for American car companies in Detroit, and the Japanese are fighting for Toyota and Mazda. OK then! Scott trades basic stuff with Fujinami on the mat to start and then hits him with a stiff clothesline, so Iizuka comes in. He hits Scott with some shoulders in the corner and goes up with a flying elbow, then hits a somersault senton off the top for two! Very nice. Iizuka with a crab, but Scott powers out, so Iizuka turns it into a cradle for two and Scott bridges out of that and into the butterfly powerbomb. They take the kid into their corner and Rick comes in with the top rope elbow for two, smashing it into his face and busting his mouth open in the process. What a dick. Back to Fujinami, but Rick gives him a sick high angle german suplex for two. That was terrifying. Scott comes in with the half crab to work the leg, but the New Japan team double-team Rick and try a Doomsday Device, which Rick counters by powerslamming Iizuka on Fujinami’s shoulders, for two. Holy shit. Rick drops an other elbow on Iizuka for two and Fujinami takes pity on the kid and comes back in to work on the leg, since he’s unlikely to take this kind of bullshit from the Steiners. Fujinami does some nice work on the leg and brings Iizuka back in to continue, but Rick rolls him over for two and then stiffs the kid AGAIN to take over. Scott comes in with a tilt-a-whirl slam for two and throws Iizuka around with a suplex and a pumphandle slam, then drops an elbow for two. Scott just grinds on a submission hold on the mat, which means nothing to the crowd but had to be legit painful, but Fujinami tags himself in and cleans house, then takes over on Scott with an abdominal stretch into a rollup for two. Fujinami throws elbows on Scott, but Rick comes in and pounds him with forearms. Iizuka tags back in and Rick just BRUTALIZES him with a double leg that slams the kid’s head into the mat for two. Jesse is like “Ha ha, he sure rung his bell with that one!” Thankfully it’s back to Fujinami so the poor kid can recover, but he keeps coming back in, so Rick hits both guys with a flying Steinerline. Scott tries a superplex on Iizuka, but Fujinami breaks that up and Iizuka hits Scott with a german suplex for two. They hit Scott with a spike piledriver and Iizuka comes in with a missile dropkick, setting up Fujinami’s Dragon Sleeper on Scott. Scott basically no-sells it and gets the ropes, and they collide for the double down. Hot tag Rick and he bulldozes poor Iizuka and hits him with an overhead suplex, then takes him to the top with another overhead suplex to finish at 18:15. Holy shit, this was something all right. I can’t condone the liberties taken by the Steiners, but the New Japan team just kept coming back and taking more from them and it was never boring. ****1/4 No wonder Iizuka went crazy later in life, though. Probably had PTSD from this.
Wargames: Sting, Nikita Koloff, Ricky Steamboat, Dustin Rhodes & Barry Windham v. Rick Rude, Steve Austin, Bobby Eaton, Arn Anderson & Larry Zbyszko
Paul E. with his giant sheet of plans is an amazing touch. Austin starts with Windham and they slug it out right away, but Austin sends him into the cage. Barry blocks that and comes back with a slam, but misses an elbow and Austin works him over in the corner. They head over to the other ring and Barry can’t send him into the cage, so he hits a DDT instead. Austin clotheslines Barry between the rings and then clotheslines him into the other ring, but tries to hang from the ceiling and gets hauled down as a result. Barry runs him into the cage and we get some cheese grater action to bust Austin open and then he bites the cut for the cameraman. NOICE.
The coin toss, shockingly, is won by the heels, and Rick Rude is in for the 2-on-1 and he just wrecks Windham with knees and pounds away with shoulderblocks in the corner. Austin hits a middle rope clothesline and they run Barry into the cage and you know he’s gonna be bleeding soon. Steamboat comes in to save and the crowd is BATSHIT for him, so he’s all fired up. DDTs for everyone! Austin cuts him off and tries a somersault into the corner, but Steamboat grabs the ceiling cage and takes Rude down with a rana and slugs away. The babyfaces double-team Rude for as long as they can, but AA is the next guy for the heels and he immediately DDTs Barry. SPINEBUSTER for Steamboat and the Alliance is firmly in control. Arn and Rude do a double crab on Steamboat, but Windham saves and JR is in his glory with all the craziness and violence. SO MANY METAPHORS! Rude hits Steamboat with a piledriver and then tosses him into the second ring for a double down.
Dustin Rhodes is the next guy for the faces and he does the Dusty comeback on Arn, who knows exactly how to sell it. Dustin slugs away on Austin and gives him an electric chair, while Windham sticks Arn’s head between the rings and tortures him there. Steamboat puts Rude in a figure-four, but Larry is the next guy for the Alliance, and Dusty immediately jumps him and beats him up. Now that’s smart! Madusa manages to climb on top of the cage and drops the phone to Rude as a weapon, but Sting climbs up after her and she runs away again. This allows the DA to retain control as Rude works over Steamboat’s broken nose. Barry Windham is a bloody mess, but Sting saves for the faces and wrecks everyone. We get the awesome visual of Sting gorilla pressing Rude into the ceiling of the cage and Arn goes flying into the cage. Austin takes a crazy backdrop into the cage and Arn gets the cheese grater, but finally the heels overwhelm the faces and survive until Bobby Eaton is the last man in for the heels. Dustin is bleeding a gusher, of course, and Larry undoes a turnbuckle in the corner while the Alliance works over the babyfaces.
Finally, Nikita Koloff saves for the faces and the Match Beyond begins. Koloff viciously rams Arn into the cage and does the Megapower handshake with Sting once and for all, and they team up to beat on the Enforcers and resolve their differences like men. The crowd goes crazy for this and Sting hits Arn with a Stinger splash to set up the Scorpion, but Bobby makes the save there. Finally the turnbuckle gets broken off and Dustin puts Larry in a figure-four, but Rude makes the save there. Dustin goes up and misses an elbow and the Alliance teams up on Sting with the turnbuckle bolt, but Larry misses and hits Eaton in the shoulder with it, allowing Sting to finish Eaton with an armbar at 23:25. One of the best matches of the 90s and probably one of the best WCW matches of all time. ***** The Dangerous Alliance ran roughshod for months and then finally got what was coming to them here and then broke up at just the right time.
And then, in the most WCW twist possible, immediately after this show the regime changed, and it was time for Bill Watts. Regardless, the first half of this show was worthless, but the second half was one of the best shows they ever put on and this is still a WATCH IT recommendation without hesitation.