The SmarK Rant for WCW Saturday Night–04.04.92

The SmarK Rant for WCW Saturday Night – 04.04.92

(Originally written 04.03.18)

Well, these are only an hour long with the commercials removed, so that’s doable.

So for those who weren’t around at the time, this is a rebranded version of the World Championship Wrestling show, updated for the 90s and with a gimmick that the main event of each show is a big 2/3 falls match. That didn’t last very long, but this version of the show remained until it was cancelled in 2000. This is actually right about where I came into watching it, as TBS came to Canada in late 1991 for the first time. The show is commemorating the 20th anniversary of World Championship Wrestling on TBS, but I’m pretty sure that can’t be right because I thought RAW was the longest running episodic sports entertainment program in TV history.

Taped from Center Stage in Atlanta, with matches coming from whatever arena they were taping Worldwide that week.

Your hosts are Jim Ross & Jesse Ventura.

The idea for the show initially is that they were sort of aping the studio format of Primetime Wrestling, with Ross hosting the show from the ring in a setup like Miz TV or whatever.

The Z Man has words for Steve Austin tonight.

Meanwhile, Brian Pillman regains the light heavyweight title from Jushin Liger at Superbrawl II. Jesse is pretty sure we haven’t heard the last of this Liger kid. Bold words. Jim Ross thinks that Pillman is facing some stiff competition now, like Richard Morton or Firebreaker Chip.

Gee, I wonder why the division died soon after this?

Brian Pillman v. Brad Armstrong

This is not announced as being for the title, but JR declares that it’s a title match on commentary, so whatever. Pillman has the belt here so it’s not a case of adding storyline in post-production. Pillman works the arm right away and HOLY GOD is that canned heat terrible. I mean, they’re just layering it on like bad pancake makeup and it sounds completely ridiculous. Pillman controls with armdrags but botches a crossbody attempt out of the corner, and Brad tries to cover for him but then just grabs an armbar. Probably for the best. Pillman comes back with a victory roll for two and goes back to the arm again, then grabs a hold on the mat. HIGH FLYING ACTION. And then Brad takes him down and works the arm, then he also grabs a hold on the mat. HIGH FLYING ACTION. THE FAKE CROWD GOES WILD. Brad goes up and Brian dropkicks him to the floor and follows with a dive off the apron. Back in, he misses a missile dropkick, but comes back with a crucifix for two. Armstrong with a powerslam for two. To the top and Pillman fights him off and hits a crossbody, but Brad rolls through for two. Brian comes back with a leg lariat for two. He goes up and misses a splash, allowing Brad to hit the Russian legsweep, but Pillman is in the ropes. Air Pillman finishes at 8:34 to retain (?). This kicked off Brad’s heel turn that, like everything else in his career, ultimately went nowhere because he’s boring AF and they dropped the title later in the year. Match was fine, but of course they decide to “push” Pillman and then make him wrestle like everyone else. **1/2

Ron Simmons! He’s got a dream to be the champion! I wonder what Ron’s reaction would be if you built a time machine and told him that his entire career would be essentially forgotten and he’d be reduced to one silly catchphrase. I feel like he’d have something to say about it.

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Right.

Ron then joins us in the “studio” to discuss things with JR & Jesse, and he’s looking forward to a match with Rick Rude.

The Fabulous Freebirds v. Diamond Dallas Page & Cactus Jack

Man, that heel team is not one you’d have bet on having, what, seven World titles between them? DDP attacks and the Freebirds kick his ass and toss him out of the ring, and then double-team Cactus as well on the floor. Back in, Hayes tries to use speed against Hayes, but gets punched in the mouth and overpowered by Garvin. Cactus saves things for his team again, hitting Garvin with a legdrop, but Page comes in again and he’s completely useless. He misses a senton on Hayes and eats a DDT at 3:16. It was extra effective because Hayes was carrying about 20 extra pounds at this point. Total squash for the Birds and HOLY GOD was Page terrible here. ½*

Meanwhile, Rick Rude retains the US title against Ricky Steamboat at Superbrawl II in an awesome angle with Paul E. dressing as the Ninja. Later, Ricky beats on Dangerously during a match with AA, but Rude runs in and tries to hang Steamboat with his own belt, which leads to Steamboat actually doing it back to Rude instead. Man, they’d be so fired today.

Rick Rude v. An Enhancement Talent

Rude’s generic music from 1992 is overdubbed in ugly fashion with even more generic music here in 2018. I don’t even get it anymore. Rude with a suplex and he beats on the jobber with knees before finishing with the Rude Awakening at 1:24.

Eric Bischoff joins us with the WCW Magazine update (not at all ripped off from the WWF Magazine updates) and the topic of conversation this week is Sting’s impending title defense against Big Van Vader. Sting’s felt pain before, so he’s not worried.

BREAKING NEWS: The WCW Board of Directors are reviewing videotape of an attack on Ricky Steamboat by the Dangerous Alliance. Details are scarce, but here’s the tape from Worldwide, as Steamboat slaps Medusa in anger, feels hella bad about it, and then Rude WAFFLES him with a chair from behind. There’s just so many things in that segment that would never, ever fly today.

Also, DDP continues his feud with WCW President K. Allen Frey, as Page is censored for some reason. Well, Frey would be fired right away anyway.

World TV title, 2/3 falls: Steve Austin v. Tom Zenk

So this is actually in the ring at Center Stage as the weird new format continues. Austin grabs a headlock to start, but Zenk gets a backslide for two and a rollup for two. I actually thought Austin had chopped all his hair off by now, but he’s still got the ugly ponytail here. Austin grabs a chinlock and Zenk actually tries to pull the hair to escape, which is very un-sportsmanlike of him, to be honest. Crossbody gets two and he hits a pair of dropkicks, but misses another one and Austin takes over with a back elbow and gut wrench suplex. Zenk slugs back and gets two as Jesse points out that Zenk is using blatant closed fists and the point of the boot. He gets a rollup, but Austin reverses and grabs the tights for the first fall at 4:34. Well, serves him right, the cheater.

Back from break with the second fall, as Austin lays him out from behind and tosses him. They brawl on the floor while JR hypes up the Omni show on the weekend, because, you know, a nationally televised TV show is a great place to advertise what was basically a house show. Just made them look SO very bush league. Back in, Zenk works on the arm, but Austin takes him down and drops knees on his arm in turn. Austin goes to work on the arm with a hammerlock, but Zenk fights back with a Thesz Press for the surprise pin at 9:58.

Third fall and Austin is in control with a suplex and he chokes away on the ropes, but misses a charge and Zenk makes the comeback. Z Man misses the charge and Austin takes him down with an armbar again, but Zenk reverses to his own and slugs away on him. Backdrop and hiptoss sets up a series of dropkicks, but he charges like a moron and the stungun finishes at 14:37. Kind of an oddly-paced match, but it was well worked and good action. *** I actually liked the 2/3 falls format because they could insert commercial breaks at points that made sense in storyline instead of just going “…and RAW ROLLS ON!” while they fight outside of the ring or whatever.

Next week: Greg Valentine & Terry Taylor defend the US tag titles against the Freebirds 2/3 falls! And K. Allen Frey co-hosts! Uh…neither of those things sound particularly encouraging.

Anyway, this was a fun show and I’ll absolutely keep reviewing it.