Six of the Best – WCW Uncensored

Uncensored has tended to have a bit of bad rep amongst the wrestling community, normally because it often produced some of the very worst matches of the year from WCW. For instance, the awful Doomsday Cage match of 1996 and the horrendous main event between Hollywood Hogan and Randy Savage from the 1998 version of the event stick long in the memory.

Despite this however, there were some good matches over the years at Uncensored, and I’ll be looking at some of them today. Uncensored was ultimately an attempt from WCW to cash in on the hardcore wrestling craze started by ECW in the mid 90’s, with the caveat that WCW wasn’t going to be prepared to take things as far as the Philly outfit, thus essentially missing the point of the whole craze to begin with.

Thus, none of these matches listed here are especially “Extreme”, but some of them did push the envelope as far as WCW was willing to go at the time, so they have that going for them at least. As usual, WCW’s strong mid card cast will feature heavily here, as they were the people you often relied on to bring something decent to the pay per view arena.

As always, these are just my own personal picks. This isn’t supposed to be some sort of objective list or anything. If I leave out a match that you think warrants inclusion, then please feel free to put it down in the comments section below. As with previous lists, I’ll be listing the matches in chronological order.

So without further to do, let’s take a look at Six of the Best for WCW Uncensored!

Uncensored 1996
Fit Finlay Vs Lord Steven Regal

This match is about Finlay and Regal brutalising each other in a super stiff war of attrition. There’s no moonsaults or planchas, but there are plenty of vicious looking holds and an unrelenting series of strikes. This is hyper realism in its most traditional sense, as everything that both men do looks excruciating and unapologetically violent.

Regal even busts out a dropkick at one point, to highlight how both men are leaving nothing in their lockers for this one. This is a big pay per view match between two men who had battled on the European independent scene for years, and they go out of their way to make sure that they make their moment on a global telecast count by leaving an indelible impression on the viewers who witness this war.

I can only imagine what some of the older and lazier members of the WCW roster must have thought watching these two men beat the ever loving fudge out of one another in this match. I can picture of nervous collar adjusting as they considered the possibility that they might end up in the ring with Finlay in particular going forwards. The only downside to the match is that we don’t get a clean finish, but the whole point was that this was the first match between the two and more matches were due to come, with the eventual blow off being a violent battle in a circle of cars. Considering the story was actually going somewhere, I can forgive the lack of finish in this one somewhat.

Uncensored 1997
No Disqualifications
Dean Malenko Vs Eddie Guerrero

This match came about due to Eddie accidentally costing Dean a match to X-Pac at SuperBrawl VII, thus this match was booked for Eddie’s United States Title, with the match stipulation added in order to ensure there would be a winner. Eddie wasn’t a heel yet, but he would get there by the second half of the year, although here he hadn’t yet officially drifted over to the dark side.

The fans certainly side with Malenko in the dispute between the two men, and cheer “The Ice Man” vociferously throughout the bout, especially when he gets an opportunity to hammer way on Eddie. In comparison, Eddie gets booed whenever he has control of the bout, showing that either the fans were ahead of WCW as to where the story was going or they just decided that they didn’t like Eddie.

The match itself is a great fight, with Malenko showing a really vicious streak throughout to get across how peeved he was at Eddie costing him his beloved Cruiserweight Title, whilst Eddie is perfectly happy to slap his former friend around when the opportunity arises. The beginning stages of Eddie morphing into Super Rudo are a treat to see, as he’d been a generic pleasant babyface before this storyline really kicked in.

I would have to rank this quite high on the list of great opening matches, a list that WCW always tended to do quite well on due to their policy of frontloading their shows with talented workers before closing the shows with generally lousy main events. It really is interesting to see how over this story line was here as well, with Malenko in particular being very popular with the amassed crowd. It really is a testament to how WCW could have continued atop of the wrestling world if they hadn’t squandered the next generation of talent in favour of the Hogan one.

Uncensored 1997
Martial Arts Match
Glacier Vs Mortis

Silly as the whole faux Mortal Kombat themed feud was between these two was, they generally had decent matches together due to the man under Mortis’ mask (Chris Kanyon) being a good worker who was able to carry things in the ring. Mortis bumps all over the shop here to make Glacier’s offense of mostly kicks look good, whilst Glacier carries his ends of things by selling well during the heat and making some good comebacks.

Back when I first watched this match I thought it was good because it exceeded my low expectations, but going back to watch it again I decided that it genuinely is a very enjoyable scrap. Even Blog of Doom head honcho Scott Keith liked it, enough to give it an impressive ***1/2 rating in his original review of the show. I do think that people tend to look at the wacky outfits and the weird fighting game styled narrative of this feud and let it blind them to the fact that there were some actual good wrestling matches amongst the silliness.

Let’s face it, would this feud really be considered that nutty these days? Yes, the outfits are garish and the story is a bit out there, but in a world where Lucha Underground exists, would this story line really stick out so much? I don’t know, but what I do know is that this is a great effort from both men.

Uncensored 1998
Triple Jeopardy Match
Diamond Dallas Page Vs Chris Benoit Vs Raven

What I like about this match is that, though it still retains the usual Triple Threat/3 Way Dance trope of two men fighting one another whilst another takes a breather, it doesn’t overdo it and instead features a lot of moments with all three men fighting one another at the same time. Indeed, the match opens up with a triple lock up, which eventually leads to all three men tumbling out of the ring.

When two wrestlers focus on one another you know as a viewer that the third competitor can leap in to attack someone at any moment. All three men work hard to make sure that they keep up a frenetic pace where all of them are interacting throughout the bout. It’s not easy to structure a match that way, which is why so many 3 way matches tend to feel more like three separate singles matches all going on at once rather than a true case of three men all battling each other at the same time.

There are also some great moments and spots in this match as well, such as DDP and Benoit putting a trash can over Raven’s head and smacking it with crutches, Benoit and Raven flinging DDP through the entrance staging and DDP bringing Raven down from the top rope through a table with a Diamond Cutter. The fact the table doesn’t break properly actually adds to the match rather than take away from it, as it just adds to general anarchic vibe the match is going for.

Benoit ended up being the odd man out here, as after having great singles matches with Raven and DDP at Souled Out and SuperBrawl VIII respectively he got pushed out of the United States Title picture here as the feud moved to DDP Vs Raven. We did get Benoit Vs Booker T out of it all at least, but it did seem somewhat unfair that Benoit worked so hard to have great matches with the two other men in this match, only to then get shunted to the side so that Raven and DDP could continue the story line without him. A pretty good allegory for Benoit’s general career in a sad sort of way.

Uncensored 1999
Billy Kidman Vs Mikey Whipwreck

This was Mikey’s WCW debut and a rare occasion where he got to work heel. Kidman really was in his pomp as Cruiserweight Champion during this period, having great matches with a variety of opponents and getting pretty over with it as well. Mikey actually doesn’t look out of place in the big leagues either, and carries things quite well as heel here, even though it was a role he hadn’t played that often during his ECW days.

The real star of this match is Bobby Heenan however, as he gets poor Mikey’s surname wrong on multiple occasions for comic effect before being part of one of my favourite commentary exchanges ever;

Bobby: “Do you think when Mikey was growing up he was his parents little whippersnapper?”

Tony: “Weren’t we all?”

Bobby: “No, I didn’t know his parents”

Kidman was just so “on” during this stage of his career that he could have a great match with anyone, so Mikey being so up for it in his WCW debut pretty much guaranteed a fun outing before the bell even rung. In a humorous/depressing addendum to the story, Mikey apparently got to meet Bret Hart the next night backstage at Nitro. The Hitman told Mikey that he’d heard that he had been one half of match of the night at the pay per view. Mikey said it hoped it would lead to something, at which point Bret gave him a knowing look and said “Yeah…you’re probably fucked”

And indeed he was. Because WCW.

Uncensored 1999
Lumberjacks With Straps
Chris Benoit and Dean Malenko Vs Curt Hennig and Barry Windham

The stipulations for this match came about because of Hennig and Windham using a leather belt to help them win the titles back at SuperBrawl IX. Hennig and Windham have a couple of Lumberjacks in their pocket in the form of future Texas Redneck stablemates Kendal Windham and Bobby Duncam Jr, so Arn Anderson comes out to back up his Horsemen colleagues as well. Ultimately though, this is just a great tag team match between four excellent workers, with the Lumberjacks just adding an extra level of spice to proceedings.

Windham had only recently returned to WCW after a couple of barren years in the WWF, where he’d played both a survivalist and a New Blackjack, but for this match he looks like the Windham of old. This match is a testament to what supposedly washed up wrestlers can be capable of when they’re motivated and in the ring with the right opponents. Windham is moving in this one, throwing dropkicks and sprinting from one side of the ring to the other.

Benoit and Malenko work well as babyfaces, with both taking a heat segment in classic RNR style, whilst Hennig and Windham are perfectly cast as devious heels who abuse the rules of the match to suit their strategy. It’s just a fantastic slice of old school tag wrestling and the crowd get into it as well. If you’re talented and experienced enough you can work the traditional tag formula and it usually works. This match goes beyond just basic tag formula though, and really is a very good match indeed. It just goes to show that no matter how bad things got, if you gave a WCW crowd a good wrestling match with people they cared about, they’d almost always appreciate it.

Honourable mentions

Ultimo Dragon Vs Psicosis (Uncensored 1997), Team nWo Vs Team Piper Vs Team WCW (Uncensored 1997), Booker T Vs Eddie Guerrero (Uncensored 1998), Chris Jericho Vs Dean Malenko (Uncensored 1998), Hardcore Hak Vs Bam Bam Bigelow Vs Raven (Uncensored 1999), Ric Flair Vs Hulk Hogan (Uncensored 1999)

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