Assorted April PPV Countdown: WCW Spring Stampede 2000

The Netcop Rant for Spring Stampede 2000 Funny story: I called to order the show on Friday afternoon, but the automated phone system wouldn’t allow me to complete the order. (By this time the cable company had switched to digital cable and we could no longer watch PPVs by less-than-legitimate means, which meant that I was back to ordering them again after a fairly long break from spending hundreds of dollars a month on wrestling shows.  Given my lack of wife, though, it’s not like I had anything better to spend my paycheques on anyway.)  So I called Shaw Cable’s customer service and explained the problem, and not only was the show spelled wrong in their database (“WCW Sprint Stampede”) but the Sunday show wasn’t even listed in the computer, only the Tuesday replay! The funny part? They hadn’t caught the problem yet because I was the only one to that point who actually wanted to order the show.  (Not surprising given the buyrate.  Basically after Kevin Sullivan was fired, Bischoff and Russo were put in charge of the promotion and immediately went on Nitro and stripped all the champions of their titles, coming right out and declaring a reboot of the entirety of WCW because the previous version had sucked so bad.  I’m sure that made everyone who had been watching up until that point feel terrific.  This show is the tournament finals for all the belts, because in Vince Russo’s world TOURNAMENTS ARE AWESOME. ) – Live from Chicago, IL – Your hosts are Tony, Mark and Scott – Opening match: The Mamalukes v. Lex Luger & Ric Flair. Vince “Iron Man” Russo declares that it’ll be a 4-on-2 match instead, sticking the Harris brothers on the Italian side. Pretty much a mindless brawl all the way through with a few highspots from Hugger, until Flair manages to fight off three guys, leaving Luger in the ring to rack Hugger at 6:11 and advance to the finals of the tag title tournament. Match was a total mess, but energetic if nothing else. * – Mancow v. Jimmy Hart. (Mancow was a Chicago DJ who was controversial or something.)  This was about as good as you’d expect, which is to say not at all. Emery Hale, under whatever name he’s using this week, tries to interfere, but Mancow recovers and gets the pin on Hart at 2:49. (HALE WARNING!  HALE WARNING!  That guy made Ryback look like Goldberg.)  What a waste of PPV time. -**** – The Wall v. Scott Steiner. I’m hoping for one to cripple the other, but no such luck. Scott hammers him, but Wall comes back with a big boot and a legdrop. Ooo, Wall’s got his working boots on tonight. They fight to the floor, where Scott pokes him in the eye, thus blinding him so extensively that he mistakes a referee for Steiner and chokeslams him through a table for the DQ at 3:52. That’s a pretty vicious eye poke right there. Match was a total load. ½* – Mike Awesome v. Ernest Miller. Awesome was unveiled as the mysterious eighth entrant in the tournament earlier, then got into a brawl with Bam Bam Bigelow. So as a result, Bigelow decides to punk out Miller pre-match and take his place. Oh god, now they’re stealing Paul Heyman’s BAD ideas, too. Awesome puts Bigelow on the floor and hits the tope con hilo pretty quick, then they brawl. Back in, Awesome hits a nice diving clothesline. Bigelow falls on top to block a backdrop suplex for two. And now the Cat is back out and he kicks Bigelow right out of the ring. And dances. Man, I was actually into that match, too. Awesome destroys Miller and pins him after the frog splash at 4:01. *1/2  I *really* don’t get the logic of that booking. (Perhaps some sort of booking seminar would be helpful to explain it.)  – Buff Bagwell & Shane Douglas v. Harlem Heat. Amazingly, they’ve finally debuted that “Perfect Strangers” ripoff that Jimmy Hart was talking about months ago. Pretty much a total squash for the New Blood here, with Douglas finishing Stevie Ray with the Pittsburgh Plunge at 2:41 following heel miscommunication. ¼*  (Shane actually tried to escape to the WWE along with the Radicalz, but they basically turned him down.  I’ve always been amused at the notion of fiercely independent loose cannon Shane Douglas being forced to crawl back to WCW with no leverage, like someone swimming back to the Titanic because there’s nowhere else to go. That’s why burning your bridges on the way out is a BAD IDEA.)  – Booker v. Sting. (Oh yeah, this was during the period when they decided that the “T” was holding him back.)  Trash talk to start, and Sting gets the advantage. Brawl to the floor, where Booker gets control, and we HIT THE CHINLOCK, BABEE. That lasts a while. Sting escapes but gets scissor kicked. Sting comes back with a Stinger splash, blocked with a sidekick, but he reverses a spinebuster into a deathdrop for the pin at 6:34. The announcers yell and scream about what a great match it was. I fervently beg to differ. *1/2 I believe this ended up being the only clean pin of the evening. (You know it’s Russo because there’s three different tournaments ongoing and none of the matches run more than 5 minutes or so.)  – Kidman v. Vampiro. Vamp gets a couple of suplexes to start, then hits a missile dropkick for two. Kidman comes back with a rana, but gets powerbombed doing the 10 punches in the corner. Vampiro hits a pair of suplexes for two, and a chokeslam, but Kidman reverses the Nail in the Coffin with the facejam. Vampiro goes into the kick combo and an armbar, but Kidman counters with a DDT. And of course, now the Orange Goblin has to ruin a perfectly good match, as he comes out and destroys Kidman, tossing him outside and slamming him through the ringside table (well, after two tries at it), then throwing him back in for the Vampiro pin at 8:28. Horrible, horrible ending drags it way down. If it’s a quick Hogan interference I can live with it, but he beat on him for like three minutes. ** (Stone Cold Hulk Hogan!   This was the infamous “flea market” feud between Kidman and Hogan that did nothing for either guy and in fact pretty much destroyed Kidman forever.)  – Hogan heads back to assert his manhood on Eric Bischoff in the dressing room, but Vince Russo calls the cops, and they pull their GUNS on him to back him down. (Hogan should have been all “Check out these guns, brother!” and then destroyed the entire police force with a POSEDOWN.)  Oh, geez, do we have to go there again? Didn’t the fallout from Pillman’s gun act in the WWF teach anyone anything? – Hardcore title: Norman Smiley v. Terry Funk. They start in the catering room, where they go through the usual series of goofy food-related spots. (Vince Russo Booking = People hitting each other with food in hardcore matches.  And tournaments.  Sometimes both at once.)  Sadly, that’s about all Terry can do anymore, so it’s for the best. Funny bit as they head into the hall and Norman climbs a heating pipe on the ceiling to try to hide. They head back to the ring, where Duh-stin interferes, but it backfires, and Funk drops a ladder on Smiley and pins him to win the Hardcore title at 8:03. Pretty entertaining crap, and I’d rather see Smiley lose here and move on to, say, ANYTHING ELSE than get stuck in that dead-end gimmick again. *** (This was pretty much it for Norman, actually.  They never figured out how to use him properly again.)  – Scott Steiner v. Mike Awesome. Steiner pounds on Awesome to start, but takes a flying shoulderblock and splash for two. Flying clothesline gets two. Steiner comes back with a belly-to-belly, but Awesome gets a springboard elbow out of the corner for two. Cue the run-in (or in this case, stroll-in), as Big Poochie breaks a crutch over Awesome and Steiner gets the submission with his deadly REAR CHINLOCK OF DOOM at 3:15. Next. ½* I didn’t go back and rewind, but I think I heard the announcers saying something about Steiner beating Sting to win the title at this point, which would be a pretty stupid mistake on their part if they said it. – Vampiro v. Sting. Slugfest to start. Sting over with some basic stuff and a flying splash for two. Out we go, with Sting missing a splash to the railing. Vamp superkicks him. Back in, Sting doesn’t seem to be cooperating when Vamp tries to set him up for top rope moves for some reason. Weird. Vamp goes up for something, but misses, and Sting hits the deathdrop and Scorpion deathlock for the submission at 5:57. Pretty boring match. Although I guess this was the SECOND clean finish of the night. *1/4 – Jobberweight title: Shannon Moore v. Crowbar v. Lash LeRoux v. Prince Iaukea v. Juventud Guerrera v. Chris Candido. Candido & Crowbar start, with Chris getting a few two-counts. Lash & Juvy go next, with Juvy hitting the Juvy Driver for two. Daffney comes in with a “frankenscreamer”, but hits Crowbar with it by mistake. Lucky guy. Funny spot follows as Juvy goes after her, but she holds him at bay with the SCREAM OF DOOM. We hit the trainwreck spot rather early in the match, with every doing highspots on everyone else, leaving Candido and Prince alone in the ring. Iaukea goes for the jumping DDT, but Sunny the Crack Whore returns to wrestling and pushes him off, and Candido pins him at 5:14 to win the title. Good god, is she transporting more ECW defectors in her ass or is that just from Ben & Jerry’s ice cream? The match went nowhere, with no one really getting any time. *1/2 (Hey, let’s count all the people who either died or left the business altogether here!) – WCW World tag title match: Ric Flair & Lex Luger v. Shane Douglas & Buff Bagwell. May I just say, thank god Flair is wearing street clothes in the ring now. Stalling to start. Idiotic spot as Buff gets the advantage on Luger, then stops to pose. Shane yells at him to turn around, and when he does, Luger…poses. Oh god, someone tell him it’s not 1988. Douglas comes in and gets pummelled by Flair. Bagwell & Douglas work him over for a while, as we listen with rapt attention to the commentary stylings of Vince Russo. (The only thing worse than his booking would have to be his commentary.  You’d think the guy who WROTE THE STORYLINES could make sense of them, but you’d be wrong.)  Flair misses his own signature move – the Flair flip, and Luger gets the hot tag. Brawl leads to the figure-four on Douglas. Buff goes for the blockbuster, but hits Douglas by mistake. Flair goes for the pin, but Russo pulls out the ref at two and punks him out. Bryan Adams and Bryan Clark then run in, chokeslam Luger, and Bagwell pins him (with Russo making the count) to win the tag titles at 8:31. Awful match. And the Clark/Adams debut added nothing but another hotshot angle to an already overloaded show. ½* (I should note that Kronik then went on to win the tag titles from Buff & Shane soon after this, thus making this even more nonsensical.)  – US title match: Scott Steiner v. Sting. Steiner tries power stuff, but Sting knocks him out and hits a pescado. Flying splash hits the knees, and Steiner takes over. He stops to yell at fans a few times. Sting comes back with the Stinger splash, bumping the ref. Vampiro pops up from under the ring, doing the Undertaker thing and dragging Sting “straight to hell” (it’s WCW, he’s already there…), which marks the second 96 WWF angle Vinnie Roo has ripped off from himself tonight, and Sting emerges with obvious fake blood on his face, falling easy prey to the chinlock for the submission at 5:32. (Talk about angle overload on this show.  One clever idea is OK, but this show was angle after angle with no payoff for them.)  Another bad match. ½* Nice to see that being a psychotic, roided, uncooperative, deteriorated, often-injured maniac results in getting put over three guys in one night to win the #2 belt in the company. Had he snapped and killed a fan at ringside, he’d probably be World champion. (Well, the World title would come later.) – WCW World title: Jeff Jarrett v. DDP. Yes, this is our main event, might as well accept it. DDP gets a lariat and atomic drop to start, and a DDT gets two. Jarrett bails and Page follows with a pescado. Brawl into the crowd, with a retarded ultra-wide angle shot. Back in, Jarrett gets a chair and works on DDP’s back. Page comes back with a powerbomb for two, and back to the floor. Bischoff joins us in the aisle, looking sinister. Jarrett rips up a copy of Page’s book, to really draw heat. His sales just went up by 15% if JJ bought that one. (This was back when I could freely mock others for low book sales.)  Back in, slugfest, and we get the requisite ref bump after the Diamond Cutter. Jarrett nails DDP with the title belt and gets two. Jarrett hooks the figure-four as Bischoff comes to ringside. DDP escapes and cradles for two. DDP comes back with a uranage for two. Jarrett goes to the sleeper as the “boring” chants erupt. Bischoff distracts the ref as Kim comes in with Jarrett’s guitar. Gee, who do you think she’s going to hit with it? Especially since she’s taking her sweet time lining up that shot at Jarrett. Oh, gosh, what a huge swerve, she turns on her husband. Oh the irony. Oh the humanity. (Angle after angle after angle after angle after angle…)  Jarrett hits the Stroke and gets the pin and his first World title at 15:02. Guess they convinced him to take that World title after all. ***1/4 (Basically Jarrett was offered the belt repeatedly and he kept turning them down because he didn’t want to be remembered as the guy who sunk the company.)  – The nW…er, New Blood all celebrate with their titles and their evil booker friends, end of show. The Bottom Line: I can see where people might be fooled into liking this show by the manic pace and sheer number of angles, to the point where there was some huge development in EVERY MATCH, but I can’t excuse all the mediocre wrestling with bad finishes that went on here tonight. I mean, geez, maintaining a sense of urgency in the booking is one thing, but a good solid match once in a while would be a nice change of pace. And instead of having run-ins leading to a DQ, we get the DQ waived tonight and instead get run-ins leading to a screwy finish. And seriously, they’re not even TRYING to hide what they’re doing with the New Blood – it’s the nWo yet again, this time in a different shirt. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Still, the show was entertaining enough for a thumbs in the middle, but that’s under the “throw enough s--- at the wall and eventually something sticks” theory of booking, and I can’t foresee them maintaining that frenetic pace for long without the fans getting tired of it. Well, better this than Sullivan or Nash, I guess. (This booking killed the company for good, so I’d take Sullivan or Nash any day of the week and twice on Sunday instead of Ruschoff.)