The Netcop Retro Rant for Uncensored 98 – No Meltzer on Monday = I watch more wrestling. In this case, we go back and redo a show that I did without my notes the first time, way back in 1998. (Since this is still a “Netcop” rant this would have been written in 2000, by the way. The font of the original Word document gives it away for me as well, because I was REALLY into Verdana for some stupid reason at that point.) My feelings on the show then were that it sucked for the most part, but then I was getting more pissed off at WCW’s booking by the day at that time and my judgment was thus clouded (There’s an understatement.), and I had about 10 other people who were bitching about the show hanging over my shoulder, so I wasn’t in a position to be objective. (And you KNOW how important objectivity and journalistic integrity is to me!) I wanted to go back and watch it again, but my copy of the show ended up looking like shit, so I never ended up watching it again and simply did the rant from memory. (See, INTEGRITY!) The results weren’t pretty, and I did a lot of the matches a big injustice as a result. So in the interest of fairness to a show that Phil Rippa recently called the best show he ever paid money to see (Phil used to say lot of odd stuff.), I thought I’d give it the ol’ second look without any distractions. Well, aside from my criminally woeful lack of sleep and/or money. (At this point I was working a shitty job where I did very early morning shifts and thus had the entirety of the day to watch wrestling and 24 DVD marathons. Given the lousy wage and the fact that I only worked 25 hours a week, I have no idea how I not only survived on that, but paid rent every month and had what I can only classify as ridiculous amounts of disposable income as well.) – I would, as always, be remiss in not mentioning that 1998 produced 12 of the lamest PPV promo spots ever produced by WCW or any other wrestling promotion. This month’s winner: The Game Boy ripoff spot featuring Wrath. (Oh, MAN, I totally forgot about that stupid promo. Let’s go to the videotape!) (Now if THAT doesn’t get you hyped up for this show, I have nothing more to say to you.) – Live from Mobile, Alabama, the only city named after a trailer. – Your hosts are Tony, Bobby & the Iron Professor. – Opening match, World TV title: Booker T v. Eddy Guerrero. This was the start of the “psycho Chavito” angle, as Chavo was forced to be in Eddy’s corner after losing a match to him the week previous. Eddy stalls to start. Quite a lot. Booker gets him in and blasts him with a backdrop and sideslam. Eddy bails and the crowd gets on his case. Back in, Booker hits a sidekick and poewrslam, and Eddy bails again. Booker chases and tosses him back in, elbowing him for two. He goes upstairs and Eddy strikes, knocking him off and superplexing him. Slugfest, and Booker hits a vicious superkick for two. Eddy counters the axe kick by dropkicking the other knee, and he works on it. Eddy uses a long kneebar to wear him down. Eddy hits a slingshot senton on the knee for two. Booker bails and Eddy follows with a tope. Back in, it gets two. Booker recovers and hits the axe kick, (Here’s one of those things I notice about my writing that I’m sure no one else does, but around this time I started deliberately changing my spelling of Booker’s “ax kick” to “axe kick” instead, even though I’m pretty sure “ax” and “axe” are interchangeable. I just remember it seemed very important to me at the time to make sure that “e” was there.) and a dramatic spinebuster, but a missile dropkick misses. He tries another axe kick, but misses and crotches himself. Eddy tries to superplex him, but Booker shoves him off and hits the elusive dropkick for the pin at 11:03. Ending seemed a bit odd, but the match was solid. *** Eddy sneak attacks a smirking Chavo to wipe the smile off his face after the loss. – Konnan v. Juventud Guerrera. Juvy goes after Konnan but gets lariated. Konnan bails and stops a Juvy highspot, and they brawl. Back in, Juvy gets a springboard dropkick for two. Konnan comes back with a warped lucha submission move, sort of a deathlock. Juvy tries a comeback and takes a release german suplex for his troubles. Konnan steals a move from Shinjiro Ohtani – he whose boots Konnan is not worthy to lick – by scraping his boots across Juvy’s face in the corner. He goes into a rocking horse cradle, but drops Juvy right on his head, so Juvy bails to regroup. Back in, a fireman’s carry gets two. He tries a superplex, but Juvy lands on his feet and comes back. Konnan gets an ocean cyclone suplex for two, however. Powerbomb attempt, but YOU CAN’T POWERBOMB…oh, wait, that’s Kidman. Juvy still gets the facejam, but the 450 misses. Konnan hits the 187 (I feel like I’m a short order cook…) for two. Samoan drop gets two, but Konnan does that there cocky heel cover, and Juvy rolls him over for the fluke pin at 10:13. This was all Juvy bumping for Konnan, but still worth watching. **1/4 – Cruiserweight title match: Chris Jericho v. Dean Malenko. This is the match that ended up leading to Jericho becoming the megastar that he is today. Jericho has one of the first pairs of “1004” tights here. Wrestling sequence to start, and Jericho screams like a girl. Jericho tries a hammerlock and yells out “Here’s #643!”, then Malenko takes him to school again. (And yes, for those who keep asking, this is where the “Arm-BAR” running gag comes from.) Jericho hits an enzuigiri, but misses the springboard dropkick. He tries running away, but Malenko brings him back. Jericho counters a leapfrog with a spinebuster for two. Suplex gets two. Jericho goes into the resting. Lionsault gets two. Slugfest in the corner goes Dean’s way, and a backdrop suplex gets two. Jericho comes back with a senton for two. He puts Malenko in the corner and dropkicks him, which serves to piss him off. Malenko starts countering moves, but Jericho gets an inverted suplex. Dean rolls him up for two. Backslide gets two. Jericho puts Malenko on the floor, then puts him back in. Jericho goes for a superplex, countered by Malenko for two. Dean misses a dropkick and Jericho gets a hard-fought Liontamer, but Dean makes the ropes. We go upstairs, and Malenko hits his killer gutbuster for two. Jericho swats a dropkick aside, and hooks the Liontamer, and that’s that at 14:41. Pretty good match for Jericho, who was still improving at this point. ***1/4 Gene Okerlund then badgers Malenko, calling him a loser who blew it. Gene asks him where he goes from, and Malenko replies: “Home”. In the weeks following, Jericho would mercilessly taunt Malenko, getting both men over without Malenko ever appearing on TV. And from there, Jericho springboarded to stardom. – Scott Steiner v. Lex Luger. Steiner is freshly heel-turned, and no one gives a crap. (Oh come now, I’m sure that much like the Rankor, even Steiner had a handler who cared for him and kept his steroid supply topped off.) Steiner didn’t actually get over until April of 99, when he beat DDP into a steaming pile of goo and debuted his “hooches”. Belly to belly suplex starts. Weak brawling outside follows, and Luger ends up suplexing Steiner off the apron. Wow, that was almost a bump. Back in, Luger hits his usual stuff, but Steiner blocks the rack with a low blow. He hooks the REAR CHINLOCK OF EXCRUTIATING TORMENT, but Rick Steiner saunters out and distracts Scott long enough for Luger to hit the STAINLESS STEEL FOREARM OF DEATH for the pin at 3:52. Well, you know what they say about ripping a band-aid off quickly making it less painful… ½* – US title match: DDP v. Raven v. Chris Benoit. Three-way lockup to start. Now that’s neat. We hit the floor in short order, where DDP hits the stairs. Raven & Benoit go inside the ring. Benoit gets two, then DDP takes Raven out. Benoit baseball slides Raven, and DDP hits a pescado on both. DDP neckbreakers Raven for two, Benoit suplexes Raven for two. DDP pancakes Raven for two. Benoit drops the flying headbutt on Raven for two. Rough night for Raven so far. DDP stomps Raven for two after Benoit gets off. DDP & Benoit brawl, and Raven follows with a pescado on both, then covers each in turn for two. DDP & Benoit fight up the aisle, Raven follows. Several two counts result. Raven grabs a trash can, and winds up wearing it, and DDP & Benoit double-team him with a pair of crutches. Benoit slams the garbage can into DDP’s often-injured ribs, and Benoit and Raven then team up to toss DDP through a convenient video wall. Neat spot. Benoit nails Raven with a kitchen sink, just to be cute. Raven retaliates by suplexing a table onto him. Raven sets the table up, but goes through it. They head to the ring, and Raven gets a low blow. He sets up a chair but Benoit hits his own drop toehold onto it. DDP crawls back to the ring. Benoit & Raven continue beating the tar out of each other. Benoit gets a sleeper, and DDP runs in for the triple sleeper spot that I hate so much. (SMH, you might say.) Benoit hits Raven with two of the rolling suplexes, and DDP suplexes both at once in a cool spot that the Radicalz lifted at Judgment Day. (There you go, written in June 2000.) Benoit holds DDP, and Raven gets a stop-sign from Lodi (still playing Raven’s lackey at this point) and nails DDP. Another table gets set up, but Benoit gets his own shot on Raven with the sign. DDP is on the table soon after, and Benoit tries to superplex Raven through DDP and the table, but DDP recovers, pushes Benoit down to the floor, and hits a bad-looking Diamond Cutter off the top, through the table, and pins Raven to retain at 17:10. I was about a hundred billion times more impressed with this match after seeing it this second time. ****1/4 Benoit supplied the match flow, Raven supplied the booking, and DDP probably supplied the autographed pictures of himself. (Come on, that’s still a pretty funny line today.) – Kevin Nash v. The Giant. Giant does stuff, Nash does stuff, nWo runs in at 6:30. Been there, done that, got a bad rating already. ¼* – Curt Hennig v. Bret Hart. Bret works a headlock to start. That goes nowhere, so Hennig bails. This was during the period when WCW didn’t know how to use Bret. Oh, wait, sorry, guess I should narrow it down a bit. This was just before his heel turn. You know, the one where he went nWo without ever giving an explanation? Anyway, back into the ring, where Bret quickly gets the Sharpshooter, but Rick Rude pops him and Hennig takes over. He works the knee. Hennig gets a figure-four and continues working that knee. What a thrilling match. He goes for a superplex, but Hart knocks him off and beings the comeback. Wait for it…wait for it…FIVE MOVES OF DOOM! Bret misses a blind charge and Hennig hits the Hennigplex for two. Rollup gets two. Bret reverses a sunset flip into the Sharpshooter and Hennig taps at 14:00. Way long and very boring. Finish was good, though. ** – WCW World title: Sting v. Scott Hall. Hall won World War III in 97 to set this up. Hall works the arm for a bit to maintain the illusion of still having wrestling ability. He chokeslams Sting and mocks the Giant. Sting comes back with a bulldog and a standing dropkick that sends Hall to the floor. Back in, Hall catches him with a lariat for two. Fallaway slam gets two. Collision leads to Sting’s cliché “fall on the guy’s crotch” spot. Hall distracts the ref, and Dusty sneaks in to drop a bionic elbow. Hall gets two off it. Sting comes back with a Stinger splash and the Scorpion deathlock, but stops to nail Dusty, and the ref is bumped (The late Mark Curtis, master of ref bump, once again demonstrates his superiority by making sure to take the bump right in front of the camera, and rolling his eyes back in his head for added facial expression as he collapses – CRAFTSMANSHIP, people, that’s what counts). Hall uses knuckledusters for two. Outsider Edge is countered with the Deathdrop for the pin at 8:27. Basic Nitro match. * – Age in the Cage II: Hulk Hogan v. Randy Savage. This was the culmination of the first stage of the first nWo breakup tease angle, although the trigger on that particular storyline would take another 5 months to be pulled as nWo Wolfpac was formed. On the other hand, the New Blood have now had roughly 20 different matches and/or feuds within the same stable. Draw your own conclusions. (Russo is a moron?) Hogan does his usual kicking and choking to start. Big boot gets two. Hogan continues methodically beating on Savage, who comes back with choking. Both guys are heels, so neither is particularly over, but I’d bet if you asked either one they’d both take credit for the buyrate. (I’d credit that commercial.) Hogan whips him with his belt. Big stinky nasty wart-infested Giant-killing legdrop misses and Savage whips him with the belt. Zzzzzzz. Hogan gets rammed into the cage (okay, “rammed” is subjective – “lightly tapped” is more accurate) and starts bleeding. Remember, kids, it’s OKAY to break company policy as long as you still put asses in the seats and have friends who run the company. (Or you’re married to the boss’s daughter.) Remember, no one cares about those midcard jabronies anyway, so if guys like Jericho and Benoit wanted equal treatment, let ‘em go to the WWF and see how far they’d get without Hogan’s star power to carry the ratings. Ungrateful bastards. Hogan backdrops Savage into the cage, which is the one single good bump in the match, and of course he bleeds, too. They fight to the door, and the referee politely opens the door for them so they have a meaningless brawl on the floor and thus completely invalidate the ENTIRE POINT OF HAVING A FUCKING CAGE MATCH. (Yeah, what was WITH that? I mean, now we just take it for granted that 17 people will run into any cage match booked, but back then there was still some semblance of attention paid to the stipulation and they just killed it dead here.) Back in, Savage recovers and goes to the top of the cage, hitting a double axehandle for two. Hogan’s “Upstage-O-Meter” starts flashing, so the Booty Disciple runs in (Run in? Cage match? Me no understand how these words go together) and takes out the ref. Call it a no contest in roughly 14:00, since no bell was ever rung to, you know, END THE MATCH. (I believe the phrase you’re searching for is SPORTZ ENTERTAINMENT FINISH) Sting rappels into the cage, and we get a big staredown, lasting nearly a minute, before (surprise surprise), Sting’s friend Savage turns on him and walks out. This is not to be confused with Superbrawl from the year before, where Savage also turned on his friend Sting — that year he didn’t walk out on him. The WWF won their first ratings victory in 82 weeks less than a month later, which is kinda the punchline and moral of the story all wrapped up in one. Pick a number between 1 and 5, add a “-“, and there’s your damn rating. Go with -* from me, cuz I’m generous tonight. The Bottom Line: Still not a terrifically great show by any means, but with the awesome three-way and some good action on the undercard, I’d definitely bump this one up to “Recommended show” without much hesitation. The “main event” matches absolutely kill the show, however, so be warned in advance.