The SmarK Rant for WWE Network Hidden Gems (Part Two)
Continuing on with the Hidden Gems series on the Network, we take a trip to WCW in 1993!
This was really fun and easy to write, by the way, so if this gets a good response on the blog I’ll probably dig into the Network and see what else I can find in the same style.
“Of Monsters and Icons”
Sting v. Bruiser Mastino
From WCW Saturday Night in March 1993, Mastino is the very young and very green Glen Jacobs, fresh off his run in the USWA as the Christmas Creature. Frankly I’m shocked he didn’t get a job looking like he did. Mastino manages to get a couple of shots on Sting, and a slam, but Sting no-sells it and gets his own. Bruiser pounds away in the corner, but Sting gives him the turnbuckles, hits the Stinger splash, and finishes with the Scorpion at 2:55. Just a squash, but the craziness of Sting squashing Kane is good enough for a point. 1 for 1.
“The Bad Guy in ECW”
Scott Hall v. Justin Credible
Talk about a weird mix of eras. This is from late era ECW, November 2000, complete with melodramatic TV-MA warning beforehand. This is some kind of dark match from a TV taping, so we get a crawl warning us that there’s no commentary. I don’t even pretend to know what was going on with Hall’s career that he ended up doing an ECW shot while still employed by WCW. Hall takes Justin down and slaps him around while Francine clarifies to the referee that she’s not going to show the crowd her tits. Yeah, I can see where the TV-MA rating came from. Hall gets a chokeslam and clowns around, and a clothesline out of the corner gets two. Francine hits him with the cane and Justin takes over and yells at the crowd a lot. A chair to the head gets two and Justin grabs a sleeper. Even the ECW mutants are turning on the match at this point. Hall fights out, so Francine just comes in and canes him. They head to the floor for more sloppy brawling, and back in Hall gets the blockbuster slam for two, but Francine breaks it up again. So Hall gives her a wedgie and hits Credible with the Outsider Edge for the pin at 9:23. Suffice it to say, Hall looked HORRIBLE here. 1 for 2.
“The Destroyer and the Fallen Angel”
UPW heavyweight title: Chris Daniels v. Samoa Joe
From March 2001 on what looks like a B&W TV signal from the 70s, Joe is very young with very blond hair, and Daniels has…hair? Joined in progress with Joe trying a couple of leglocks, but the ref gets bumped and Daniels hits the Angels Wings, with no ref. So another wrestler runs in and makes the count, fooling Daniels into thinking he’s won, and Joe finishes him with an Emerald Frosion to win the title at 2:30 shown. Both guys would end up in the new “Ring of Honor” promotion the next year and take off from there. As a bonus we get a promo from new champion Joe, looking like he’s 18 years old at the time. Actually, he’s 38 now, so that’s not far off. 1 for 3.
“A Battle from Down Under”
WWE World title: The Rock v. Brock Lesnar v. HHH
This is from the Australian “Global Warning” show in August 2002 that I’ve got somewhere in my DVD collection but I’ve never watched. And it’s apparently a sellout of 56,000 people in Melbourne Stadium, too. Rock and HHH get rid of Brock to start and HHH quickly turns on him and pounds away in the corner, but Rock makes the comeback and slugs both guys down. HHH gives Rock a facebuster and Brock clotheslines him, which gives HHH two. And Michael Cole rightly questions why Brock would put up with that crap from HHH. Today, fuhgeddaboutit. Rock fights back again and Brock puts him down with a clothesline, but Rock backdrops him to the floor and then chases a manic Heyman around the ring, right into a HHH cheapshot. Back in, HHH takes over on Brock, but Brock uses some clubbing forearms until he runs into a high knee. Rock comes back in, but gets caught with a neckbreaker from HHH that gets two. Spinebuster gets two. Rock breaks it up with a neckbreaker on HHH, and that gets two. HHH tries for the Pedigree on Brock, but he backdrops out and clotheslines HHH out of the ring. He throws Rock around with a suplex and posts HHH to get rid of him. Then it’s time for the HULKBUSTING BEARHUG, the move that killed off Hulkamania for good, according to Tazz here. Well, racism and Gawker also helped, I guess. Rock fights out and walks into an F5, but he lands on his feet and makes the comeback with a DDT for two. Sharpshooter, but HHH breaks it up while bleeding from the post spot. KICK WHAM PEDIGREE for the Rock gets two, but Brock makes the save. F5 on HHHgets two, but now Rock saves. Spinebuster and People’s Elbow for Brock, but that only gets two. Rock stops to punch Heyman in the face, but walks into an F5 as a result, and that gets two, as HHH saves this time. Pedigree on Brock gets two. He tries one on Rock, but Rock counters with Rock Bottom to retain at 14:35. Started slow and awkward with all the punching and switching off, but it got awesome once they just decided to go balls-out with the finishers and saves. I’d go ***3/4 on it, and it’s an easy point. 2 for 4.
Val Venis v. CM Punk
From Sunday Night Heat in 2005, as Punk is “currently in the ring” at this point in WWE career. They trade armdrags as Coach relates the little information he knows about this “CM Punk” kid, who has apparently made a good name for himself on the independent scene. They do a stalemate and Val offers a handshake, so Punk clobbers him from behind and goes to work on the leg. Val fights back with chops, so Punk bails and posts the knee. Coach: “Well, you know, Punk is a lot more seasoned than the other guys you haven’t heard of before here on Heat…” Val catches him with a kneelift and makes the comeback with a clothesline and backdrop while selling the knee. Neckbreaker gets two. Blue Thunder Bomb gets two. He tries the fisherman’s suplex, but the knee gives out and Punk goes back to it again with a half-crab. Val actually has to power to the ropes, and counters Punk with a uranage before going up with the Money Shot at 6:35. Hell of a TV match, actually, and an easy point. 3 for 5.
“On the Fringe”
MNM v. Jon Moxley & Brad Taylor
This is a squash from Velocity in January 2006, notable of course because Moxley went on to become Dean Ambrose. Moxley tries a wristlock on Nitro and the jobbers manage to double-team him in their corner for a bit, but Taylor gets dumped like yesterday’s trash the tag champs take over. Man, MNM should have had way more legs than they did, it was a hot act and they were great workers. Mercury drops an elbow on Taylor for two. Nitro comes in with the breakdance legdrop and he goes to a chinlock, but Taylor manages to fight out and makes the jobber version of a hot tag to Moxley. He immediately gets creamed, doing a ragdoll sell, and the Snapshot finishes him at 5:08. Moxley was barely even in this one. 3 for 6.
“Who is Better?”
Antonio Cesaro v. Seth Rollins
From the pre-TV version of NXT, December 2011 (???). I guess this would be the last remnant of the FCW version of developmental? It’s branded NXT and it appears to be Full Sail, but a very very very open arena concept, with only a couple of rows of bleachers and no ramp or seats in the aisle. Plus the lighting is weird, as the arena is super-brightly lit and almost oversaturated with color. Cesaro cuts off Seth’s hyperactive flurry and hits him with a suplex for two, then tosses him onto the top rope for two. Rollins makes the comeback with a suplex out of the corner, but the Blackout misses, so he monkey-flips Cesaro over the top rope and follows with a dive. Back in, the Blackout gets two, but Cesaro hits him with the Swiss Death forearm to finish at 5:18. Now I’m really bothered, because this is branded as NXT and is from the NXT TV show, but it’s apparently six months before the show even debuted! Anyway, the match was OK, mostly notable for the completely unseen nature. 3 for 7. A quick bit of investigation and it looks like this was from tapings they did in December of 2011, which sounds like it was intended as a pilot for NXT using FCW wrestlers, and was never picked up because they decided to drastically retool the show first. I seem to vaguely recall something about that back in the day.
“The Young and Hungry”
Also from NXT, May 2013, as Ryback stops by for a dark segment, before Enzo and Cass interrupt. Enzo (clean-shaven and looking like a college student) does the whole spiel and no one knows what he’s talking about. Cass does a whole bit about how Ryback is hungry, so they’ll go get some food and he proceeds to name a bunch of food until Ryback finally declares that their parents were obviously brother and sister because they’re such idiots. I feel the same way about Enzo most of the time, Big Guy. So then they stand there plotting their attack and arguing over who’s going to give the “1, 2, 3” before they attack, and Ryback casually destroys Cass on 3, leaving Enzo to take everything back and hug him in desperation because he needs a ride back to Jersey. That of course does not end well for him. I guess this was supposed to make Ryback a heel, but Enzo was so annoying I find it hard to blame him. 3 for 8.
This was a weird, weird mix of stuff, to be sure. The Punk match is surprisingly good for a throwaway C-show match in 2005, but the rest is just kind of there. Still, loads of fun, and I’m gonna dig into these Network collections and see what other trouble I can get into in the future.