November Countdown: WCW World War III 1996

The SK Retro Rant for WCW World War III 96 – Well, in one of those wacky coincidences, this show was on the same tape as Buried Alive, which I did last week, so I figured I might as well get this one wrapped up as well.  (Remember the days of plugging a tape into the VCR and finding surprise shows on there?  Good times.)  – Minor clarification from The Final Thunder Rant: When I said “one of these days I’m going to write a book about WCW” I wasn’t kidding around. In fact, I had a proposal for a book tentatively titled “The Wrong Stuff” as a followup to The Buzz on Professional Wrestling (available NOW on Amazon.com or a Barnes & Noble near YOU), but a couple of people in the publishing biz talked me out of it at the last minute and got me to switch to a WWF-oriented book instead. (By “talked me out of it” I mean “Offered me money to do a WWF book and didn’t offer me money to do a WCW book”.)  As Randy Newman said, it’s money that matters. (Like I just said.  Besides, the RD Reynolds “Death of WCW” book is much better than mine would have been anyway.)  I’m shooting for Winter 2001 or so as my goal to get the WWF book out, assuming a publisher goes for it, and the WWF doesn’t get pissy about my calling it “Tonight…In This Very Ring!”  (It came out in early 2002 in fact, and that was the final title as well.  For those who have asked in the past, Buzz was a “work for hire” deal where I basically signed on to assist with someone else’s book, and then the original author flaked out and I was left to write the entire thing myself.  As a result, I only made about half of what I would make for future books and I had to share the credit with someone else, even though it was 100% my writing.  The rumor at the time is that it was RSPW personality Jack Epstein who had the original deal, but I honestly have zero insight on the matter because I was too busy cackling with glee at the giant pile of US cash that I received for a few weeks’ work.  After it was released, the editor quit the publisher and started a literary agency with me as one of the first clients, Ventureliterary.com, of which I am still technically a client.  The rest of my books were then pitched and credited solely by myself.  For anyone who wants to get involved with writing books, I will say that online publishing is a GODSEND because now I can publish whatever I want on whatever timeframe I want and call it whatever I want and get paid almost right away.  Kindle Publishing is AWESOME and I will never go back to physical book publishing again.)  – Live from Norfolk, VA. – Your hosts are Tony, Bobby & Dusty. – Opening match, J-Crown title: Ultimo Dragon v. Rey Mysterio Jr. WCW was still billing him as “Ultimate Dragon” at this point, but since they’re not around to defend themselves anymore I’m going to wilfully ignore that bit of stupidity from now on. Dragon starts with a headlock, into a wristlock and armbar takedown. Rey goes to the knee, but Dragon keeps him grounded and slams him for two. They trade a hammerlock and Dragon flips out of a wristlock. Complex criss-cross sequence goes nowhere, but looks nice. Dragon gets the kick combo, but Rey charges and goes to the apron, then gets dropkicked to the floor. Suplex in is reversed by Rey, reversed again to a german suplex by Dragon for two. Dragon drops him facefirst off a whip and throws some stiff kicks. Spinning backbreaker drop and Rey seeks refuge. Dragon goes into a half-crab, then a powerbomb -> hotshot combo for two. Spinebuster and he pulls out the Giant Swing. Interesting stylistic choice there, and I’ll leave it at that. Rey heads to the floor, and back in where Dragon hits a fisherman’s buster for two. Brainbuster gets two. Vicious. Suplex is reversed to a small package by Rey for two, but Dragon lays in the kicks again and goes to a legbar. Tombstone gets two. Dropkick puts Rey on the floor, and Dragon sends him to the railing. He tombstones him on the floor, hits a pescado onto him, and Rey is DEAD. Back in, they go up and Dragon gets a top rope rana for two. Running Ligerbomb gets two. Rey gets a quick leg lariat and double-jump moonsault for two, however. A springboard dropkick puts Dragon out, and Rey follows with a springboard somersault plancha. Back in, sunset flip gets two, reversed for two. Rey cartwheels into a rana for two. Dragon gets a Dragon suplex for two. Powerbomb is reversed by Rey into his rollup for two. The springboard rana is caught, however, and Dragon finishes with a slingshot powerbomb for the pin at 13:46. Quite the opener there. **** A bit one-sided for Dragon for my liking, though. – Evil nWo Ref Nick Patrick v. Chris Jericho. Chris is being managed by Teddy Long here, for reasons which I can’t be bothered to remember or care about. (I can’t remember either.)  Oh, and he has to wrestle with one hand behind his back. Jericho legsweeps Patrick and hiptosses him, and Patrick bails. Nick’s selling is so overblown as to be hilarious. Remember, future wrestlers, overselling can always be toned down, but once you get into the habit of no-selling, you’re only one step away from being Hawk. (Also, once you start injecting yourself with monkey hormones to evade steroid testing, you’re also going down that road.   Hawk was a messed up guy.)  Jericho grabs a hammerlock, and hits the spinkick in the corner. Hiptoss and Patrick escapes again. Back in, Jericho casually kicks away and Patrick runs again. Jericho clotheslines him and he runs again. Jericho chases, but hits the ringpost by mistake and Patrick takes over. Back in, necksnap and Patrick demonstrates his fisticuffsmanship. A blind charge hits boot, and Jericho comes back. Backdrop, and Patrick runs again. Back in, Nick hits a running forearm and goes to the top rope (?!) Well, just guess how that ends up. Jericho superkicks him for the easy pin at 8:02. I don’t see what purpose giving this 8 minutes served, but it didn’t feel like an eternity or anything, always a good sign for this sort of match. *1/2 (Nick was a pretty decent worker before he became a ref, actually.)  – Jeff Jarrett v. The Giant. For those without your nWo scorecard, this was after Giant turned nWo for the first time. Jarrett attacks to start out, but gets nowhere. Finally Giant gets bored and clotheslines him. Blind charge misses and Jarrett dropkicks him into the corner. He runs into a big boot, however, and Giant’s big elbow gets two. Giant keeps pounding at him at will, as we find Sting brooding in the rafters. Big boot and legdrop, but he misses the pump splash and Jarrett hits a bodypress for two. Giant falls out of the ring as Sting walks in, destroys Jarrett (in an angle that was never really explained) and Giant finishes with AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH THECHOKESLAM at 6:04. Just a match. ½*  (Yeah, what WAS with that Sting/Jarrett storyline, anyway?  Obviously JJ bailed and jumped back to the WWF before it could be paid off, but what the heck was the payoff supposed to be?)  – Come with us now to Jurassic Park, as Roddy Piper calls out the nWo so he can sign his big contract with Hollywood Hogan. Hogan’s busy, so a freshly-turned Bischoff has power of attorney. (Just like real life, more or less.)  Dibiase and Vincent/Virgil get in his face, so Piper goes into a senile diatribe against Bischoff. Hogan and his cronies join us, he talks, Piper talks, Bischoff talks, I snore, the contract is signed, nWo beatdown follows. WCW: The pioneers of using one PPV to hype another PPV. (TNA of course has it down to an artform now, whereas WWE has progressed to the point of using PPV to hype TV shows.)  – The Amazing French Canadians v. Harlem Heat. The Canadians are of course Jacques Rougeau and Pierre Oulette, on a brief layover in WCW before Vince would steal them back again in time to do nothing with them. The talent raids weren’t all wine and roses, you know. The storyline here, as it were, saw Parker leaving Sherri at the alter for Madusa, and then defecting to Canada to manage the Amazing French Canadians. If the Heat win, Sherri gets five minutes with him. The aborted wedding from the Clash of Champions is a work of such sublimely horrible acting, writing and execution that if was any promotion other than WCW, one would think it was brilliant self-parody. Sadly, it’s WCW, so they actually wrote it that way. (Look for it to get ripped off on RAW any time now.)  Jacques works on Booker with a headlock, but gets kicked in the face and the Heat double-team him. Pierre comes in with a lariat on Stevie, and nefarious heel tactics follow. Pierre gets caught in the wrong corner and double-teamed some more. Booker hits the axe kick, but misses an elbow. SPINAROONIE, SPINAROONIE, SPINAROONIE. Mark Madden must be SO happy to know that years from now, that’ll be the sum total of his contributions to the wrestling world. Jacques pulls down the top rope, and Booker hits the floor. I’m both shocked and appalled at this behavior. Booker T is YOUR minority-in-peril. The Canadians hit a double goozle and Jacques slams Pierre onto Booker for two. Jacques hooks a Boston Crab and Pierre drops a leg. Match has no heat whatsoever. Hot tag Stevie Ray. He presses Jacques onto Pierre and katie bar the door and all that. Ref is bumped and the Canadians hit a spike piledriver and bring a table in. And two sets of stairs. So one set goes on the mat, the table goes on the top rope, and the other set goes onto the table. This isn’t the least bit contrived, nope. Pierre goes on top of the stairs on the table, and Jacques brings him down onto Booker, but it misses (duh), and the Harlem Hangover puts the match out of it’s misery at 9:16. * – Sista Sherri v. Robert Parker. She pounds him, he runs. Silly but fun. Sadly, the announcers ruin it by completely overstating the comedic nature of the match (with Tony calling it the funniest thing he’s ever seen in his 20 years of announcing or some such nonsense) until the effect is completely ruined by the unhip announce crew pounding the point home.  (SOUND FAMILIAR?!) – Cruiserweight title match: Dean Malenko v. Psychosis. Dean works the knee on the mat to start. A surfboard rollup gets two and they exchange headlocks. They trade wristlocks, which goes nowhere. Dean goes back to the leg, crowd gets REALLY bored. Psychosis makes the ropes, and Dean goes back to the leg. Psychosis comes back with a leg lariat and a dropkick puts Dean on the floor. Psychosis blows a tope and hits the railing. Back in, Dean hooks a headscissor on the mat, then drops a leg for two. Into a half-crab, tiger driver, and cloverleaf, but Psychosis makes the ropes. Dean dropkicks the knee and works on it. Psychosis tries a monkey flip but ends up on the floor. Dean follows and slams him, then comes off the apron with a somersault senton. Back in, legdrop gets two. Dean goes up and gets crotched, and Psychosis gets a rana for two. Dean reverses a suplex for two, but takes a heel kick. Tombstone reversal sequence ends in Dean’s favor, for two. Rollup and bridge get the pin to retain at 14:35. I don’t know what happened here, but neither guy seemed into it and the fans were gonzo as a result. **1/4 – WCW World tag title: The Outsiders v. The Feces of Fear v. The Nasty Boys. Big brawl to start, and they be clubberin, Tony, but jus’ a lil’. Nasties double-team Barbarian for two. I briefly consider doing this entire match recap in Dusty-ese, but it might turn into one of those deals where a person becomes a stutterer by doing it himself. (The story that Randy Bachman always tells is that his younger brother used to always do a joke stutter, until he one day found himself with an actual speech impediment, which was then referenced in “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet” as an homage to him.)  Sags legdrop gets two. The Faces of Fear do some clubberin’ as the champs relax on the apron. Art imitates life. Nash tags himself in and executes some of his precision offense on Knobs. He misses a blind charge, but tags in Meng. Funny how a month ago Meng jumping to the WWF was considered a fairly big deal, and now they’re gonna get the entire promotion. (And yet Meng disappeared completely before the Invasion even started.  That Haku appearance at the Royal Rumble was the true death knell for WCW, when Vince could just casually sign away their champions and not even make a big deal out of it anymore.)  Life is funny. Meng is not. Hall comes in and pounds on Barbarian, but gets clotheslined. Hall lets Knobs in instead, and THEY BE SIX-WAY CLUBBERIN’, TONY! Bobby has some trouble grasping the vernacular as Sags piledrives Barbarian for two. Nash gets a sideslam for two. Hall comes in and gets double-teamed by the Faces for two. Barbarian and Knobs go next, and the Nasties work the knee over. This may be the most boring match ever. No storyline, no flow, no heat, no defined babyfaces, no point, no doubt as to who would win. That’s a bad run of factors. Hall continues working that knee, and a brawl erupts. Nash kills Meng to end that. Barbarian comes back in and gets Nasticized. Barbarian and Knobs tag in the Outsiders against each other in a spot lifted to the molecule from Summerslam 96. Nash lays down for Hall in a finish which the WWF would in turn lift from here two years later for the New Age Outlaws. Nash would in turn modify it into the Fingerpoke of Doom and kill the company as an indirect result. So if you want to know where the downfall of WCW came from, look no further than Summerslam 96. Hall grabs the megaphone, nails Knobs, and the Poochiebomb finishes for real at 16:07. Somewhat like a root canal, without the cheerful upside. ¼* – World War III: WCW makes no attempt to have a coherent listing of the participants or give me a chance to note them all, but from what I could catch on the rushed ring entrances we’ve got Lex Luger, Eddy Guerrero, Jim Powers, DDP, Kenny Kaos, Robby Rage, VK Wallstreet, Marcus Bagwell, Scotty Riggs, Craig Pittman, Booker T, Stevie Ray, Big Bubba, Hugh Morrus, Konnan, Steve Regal, La Parka, Pez Whatley, Mongo, Disco, Rentagade, Joe Gomez, Meng, Barbarian, Bunkhouse Buck, Arn Anderson, Rocco Rock, Johnny Grunge, Ciclope, Syxx, Hall, Nash, Giant, Scott Norton, Dragon, Mike Enos, Mysterio, Roadblock, Juice Train, Jack Boot, Jim Duggan, Chris Benoit, Juvy, Jacques, Pierre, Prince Iaukea, Malenko, Jarrett, Bobby Eaton, Dave Taylor, Jericho, Alex Wright, Rick Steiner, Scott Steiner and Kevin Sullivan. (Only 7 dead, although part of me thinks that Roadblock is dead too, but I’m not sure.)  Anyone else left unaccounted for is inconsequential. Horsemen and Dungeon of Doom brawl at ringside before we even begin. Benoit and Sullivan fight into the crowd and up and down the stairs. I can’t even follows this mess. The ref throw the entire group of heels out of the match completely. Tony Rumble and Ciclope go out first off-screen, as does Mike Enos. Poor Mike – he was involved in the moment that kicked off the biggest angle in WCW history and he was jobbing again two months later. Luger tosses La Parka. Speaking of which, my overall take on the WCW death can best be summed up by something DVDVR contributor John Pelan once said, which is basically that any company that has a guy in a skeleton suit who dances and plays guitar with a chair, and can’t draw children, doesn’t deserve to be in business in the first place. Norton goes, as does Whatley. Galaxy, Rentagade, and Jimmy Graffiti all get tossed by the nWo, as does Mark Starr. I suppose if I really cared about the match I could go back up to the top of the paragraph and add all these names to the master list, but if WCW doesn’t care, then I don’t either. Prince goes bye, as does Kenny Kaos. That’ll change the whole complexion of the match! The nWo stands around doing nothing. Joe Gomez goes flying. The announcing you hear here has almost nothing to do with what you see on the screen in any of the little boxes. NWO tosses Roadblock, while in another ring everyone gangs up on Ron Studd and dogpile him in a funny spot. I forget if Ron Studd was the Yeti and/or the same guy as Ron Reis, but he’s another big useless dipshit at any rate. (I believe he was Yeti, yes, and was supposed to be the son of John Studd in kayfabe.)  Oulette and Rougeau go out, but take Duggan with them. The American Males eliminate each other and squabble, as Eaton goes out. DDP puts Wallstreet out. Jericho dropkicks Juvy over the top as the rings start merging. Eddy & DDP on the way over. Hall puts Jack Boot out. Speaking of DeWayne Bruce, someone page Wrestlecrap and remind them about Jack Boot. (That was yet another gimmick for Buddy Lee Parker, in case you’ve blocked it out like me.)  Grunge goes over the top as well. Jarrett puts Malenko out, DDP dumps Pittman. The nWo tosses Booker T, Disco, Bunkhouse Buck, and Stevie Ray. Ron Studd and Rick Steiner go, as does Ultimo Dragon and Alex Wright and the eliminations are going so fast I have to keep pausing the tape to keep up with them all. Jericho gone, Juice Train gone. So we’ve got the nWo against Luger, Jarrett, Regal, Guerrero, Mysterio and DDP kind of floating in the middle. Eddy goes fast. Giant tosses Rey out one-handed. Hall Edges Jarrett and he’s gone. DDP charges Regal and he’s finished, then the nWo dumps Regal. So it’s Luger against Hall, Nash, Syxx and Giant. Giant misses a charge and gets racked. Hall tries the Edge and gets tossed. Syxx gets tossed. Nash gets racked, so Giant dumps both guys and wins the thing at 28:25. His title shot would come at the first ever Souled Out in 1997. nWo poses, end of show. I don’t rate battle royales, but as a rule if you see “World War III” you know it sucks. The Bottom Line: A couple of mildly entertaining matches to start, but there’s just nothing in the midcard to support the show, and the main event collapses under it’s own weight as usual, so by the end there’s nothing left to recommend here. Recommendation to avoid.