What the World Was Watching: Slamboree ’95

The promo poster for this show is odd as it makes it seem like Ric Flair is the babyface since he is “seeking revenge.”

Eric Bischoff and Bobby Heenan are doing commentary and they are live from St. Petersburg, Florida.  Bischoff is substituting for Tony Schiavone who is on the shelf with neck surgery.

A video package hypes Harlem Heat, spliced with a generic promo of how they are going to beat the Nasty Boys tonight.

Opening Contest for the WCW Tag Team Championship:  The Nasty Boys (23-1-1) defeat Harlem Heat (Champions w/Sister Sherri) (22-2-2) when Jerry Sags pins Booker T after the Trip to Nastyville at 10:51:

The deck is stacked against the Nasties as this is their last tag team title shot against Harlem Heat and Brian Knobbs is nowhere to be seen in the early going since he was attacked by the Blue Bloods on the Main Event pre-show.  The audience is also treated to some man-on-woman violence as Sherri takes a Sags right hand when she hops on the ring apron to halt his early momentum.  She responds later in the bout with a few slaps of her own – right in full view of the referee – and somehow avoids getting her team disqualified.  After a Sags piledriver produces a double KO, Knobbs makes a late entrance to the ring, with his ribs taped up like a future Diamond Dallas Page, although the tape goes over his shirt which is not in keeping with good medical care, and the Nasties use his fresh condition to roll to victory when Knobbs gives Sherri a spinebuster, tosses her over the top rope, and the Nasties give Booker T their finisher.  This had a hot finish, the crowd was enjoying it, and both teams worked hard throughout.  However, it had some bad timing issues that kept it from being anything but slightly better than average.  Rating:  **¼

After the bell, the Blue Bloods appear by the entrance and shake their heads.

Bischoff interviews the Nasty Boys.  Brian Knobbs tells the Blue Bloods that they will be considered number one contenders.  Jerry Sags adds that it is time to figure out if the Blue Bloods really bleed blue.

Gene Okerlund interviews Kevin Sullivan, who says he hates the Man With No Name because he still believes in Hulkamania.

Kevin Sullivan (7-2) defeats the Man With No Name (3-2) after a double stomp at 5:26:

Fans are still unsure whether to cheer for the Man With No Name or not so that hinders the match.  It also does not help that Bischoff still calls him the Butcher.  Rest holds are kept to a minimum and the brawling that starts the match gets it off to a good start, but the middle drags a lot as both men run out of ideas.  For example, the Man With No Name does a piledriver and Sullivan is up shortly afterward to lay in some blows of his own.  An errant blind charge sends the Man With No Name’s face into the post and Sullivan stomps his way to victory.  Rating:  *

After the match, King Curtis, looking like a crusty old man, appears on the entrance screen and calls Sullivan “my son.”  He talks about a bunch of nonsense, but the main idea is that Sullivan needs to “come home” and destroy Hulkamania.  This is setting up the Dungeon of Doom versus Hulkamania feud for the summer.

Okerlund interviews the Monster Maniacs and Jimmy Hart.  Hulk Hogan recycles his greatest hits, saying Angelo Poffo was doing a backstroke on the way to St. Petersburg and that Arn Anderson is a “no good” enforcer.  Savage also tries to top Hogan’s silliness by saying that in swimming to St. Petersburg he saw lots of sharks and submarines.  Of course, Hogan cannot afford to be topped so he starts comparing the veins in his bicep to a 747.  After what seems like an eternity this interview ends.

Legends Match:  Wahoo McDaniel defeats Dick Murdoch after a chop off the ropes at 6:18:

This was supposed to be McDaniel facing Dory Funk, Jr. but Japanese wrestling politics caused Funk to pull out of the show and Murdoch, who competed for the WWF in the Royal Rumble in January and made some appearances on house shows, to be booked in his place.  Since this is a legends match, Gordon Solie does commentary and the bout is shown in black and white because, according to Solie, “this is where it all began.”  On paper, it seems like a good idea to give old stars a chance to shine but it is awful in practice as McDaniel and Murdoch are well past their primes.  After spending much of the bout exchanging strikes, McDaniel catches Murdoch coming off the ropes with a chop and wins, a predictable outcome because he is going into the Hall of Fame later in the evening.  This would be the last “legends match” that would air on a WCW pay-per-view, although one could joke that the age of WCW’s main eventers by the late 1990s kept the concept going.  Rating:  ¼*

Okerlund interviews Big Bubba Rogers, who says that Sting better get ready for a big beating tonight.

IWGP Heavyweight Championship Match:  The Great Muta pins Paul Orndorff (6-2) after a moonsault at 14:11:

Muta won the IWGP Heavyweight title a few weeks before this show, defeating Shinya Hashimoto in Fukuoka, Japan and ending Hashimoto’s year-long reign as champion.  WCW reportedly had thoughts of putting Johnny B. Badd in this match before settling on Orndorff, possibly due to concerns that putting Muta against another babyface would split the crowd.  Orndorff was also an easy sacrificial lamb because WCW had few plans for him going forward.  Minutes into this match viewers are getting “Methodical Muta” as he does some extended rest holds and mat wrestling with Orndorff.  Bischoff also runs out of material, making an analogy between the pressure Orndorff puts on Muta’s neck during a reverse chinlock with that felt by Schiavone who is recovering from his neck surgery at home.  Orndorff goes for his piledriver out of nowhere but Muta escapes, does a few of his greatest hits, and wins after the moonsault.  This match was out of place on the card and there was no drama because WCW gave the audience little reason to care about the IWGP title.  Rating:  ½*

A video package hypes the Arn Anderson-Alex Wright Television Championship Match.

Okerlund interviews Television Champion Arn Anderson, who is with Ric Flair and Vader.  Anderson says he is going to give Wright a wrestling lesson tonight.  Flair notes that he is going to turn Vader loose, with Vader saying he is the most powerful wrestler in the world.

Television Championship Match with an Extended Thirty Minute Time Limit:  Arn Anderson (Champion) (11-9-2) pins Alex Wright (35-0-1) after a DDT at 11:35:

This was arguably the best built match of the entire card as Wright carried an unblemished record into the pay-per-view and pushed Anderson to the limit in two prior title matches, which is why this showdown featured an extended thirty-minute time limit.  Of course, WCW being WCW this stipulation is quickly forgotten by the announce team who never bring it up during the encounter.  As has been the case in their previous matches, Wright finds ways to flummox Anderson with his quickness and agility but soon runs into his opponent’s veteran wit.  Wright comes close to winning the title after an excellent missile dropkick and a reversal of Anderson’s small package, but he falls victim to Anderson’s fake punch, which causes him to put his head down and eat a DDT to go down for his first loss.  Anderson gets a big pop for that, showing that the WCW faithful were not buying into the young German’s push.  Still, having Wright fail took him down a peg on the card since the story seemed to be building to him capturing the title.  He looked like a choker and that will cut the legs out from underneath any rising babyface.  According to The Wrestling Observer, Ric Flair wanted Wright to go over here, but Hulk Hogan nixed those plans because he wanted the newly debuted Renegade to be Anderson’s next challenger.  If this had fewer rest spots in the middle it would have earned a higher rating.  Rating:  **½

Bonus Match:  Meng (w/Colonel Robert Parker) (15-0) wrestles Road Warrior Hawk to a double count out at 4:39:

Hawk returned on the Main Event pre-show to attack Meng and was challenged to this match, which he accepted.  Hawk last appeared in WCW in 1993, wrestling at Starrcade with Sting in a failed effort to win the WCW tag team titles from the Nasty Boys.  He spent the next two years wrestling in Japan with Kensuke Sasaki as the Hell Raisers since his partner, Road Warrior Animal, was at home recovering from a back injury and collecting on a disability policy.  WCW wanted the Road Warriors to return in 1995 to bolster the tag ranks but Animal was unwilling to come in as long as he was receiving a disability payout, so Hawk came in at this time as a singles competitor, which always looked weird.  If Jim Ross was on commentary, he would call this match “Bowling shoe ugly.”  Strikes are the order of the day as normal maneuvers will not work with Hawk not selling a piledriver and Meng responding in kind when Hawk tries a reverse neckbreaker.  Eventually the action spills out of the ring, producing the predictable double count out because Meng could not afford to lose due to his push and Hawk was not someone to lose in a debut match.  After the bell, WCW security breaks up both men as they keep fighting.  Although the workrate was low, the crowd ate this up and WCW was smart to keep it short.  Rating:  ½*

Gordon Solie inducts Wahoo McDaniel, Terry Funk, Dusty Rhodes, Angelo Poffo, Big John Studd, and Antonio Inoki into the Hall of Fame.  Then, Solie is taken by surprise and inducted too by Rhodes.  Solie is incredibly touched by the induction, showing how much the Hall of Fame meant to him.  Sadly, this would be the last induction ceremony for the Hall of Fame as Solie would quit the company shortly after this because he did not feel Poffo was worthy of an induction, and since Solie managed the project WCW would abandon it.

Okerlund interviews Sting, who vows to put Big Bubba Rogers in a Scorpion Deathlock.

“Lights Out” Match:  Sting (13-1) defeats Big Bubba Rogers (17-1) via submission to the Scorpion Deathlock at 9:30:

Having these two square off in a no disqualification match now seems silly since they wrestled at Uncensored and that was supposed to be the pay-per-view where hardcore matches occurred.  Also, nothing in the build to this match did anything to suggest that both men needed to settle their issue in a no disqualification match.  If anything, the build was about whether Sting would submit Rogers and whether Rogers could beat Sting a second time.  And both men must have hated the “lights out” stipulation as they made fun of it on WCW programming.  Heenan makes the call of the night during this bout, saying that Rogers is trying to impose the WCW dress code when Rogers chokes Sting with a tie.  Most of the match revolves around a non-gimmicked table, with both men using it as an object to pummel their opponent, and Sting flies into when he tries a Stinger’s Splash.  Sting kicks out of the Big Bubba Slam and one can hear Rogers falling down the card after that as Sting rallies, does a fun spot where he double stomps Rogers after putting the table over him, and locks in the Scorpion Deathlock to prevail.  Their Uncensored match had more psychology, but this one played well to the gimmick and was a good conclusion to the feud.  Rating:  ***

A video package recaps the Monster Maniacs-Ric Flair & Vader feud.

The Monster Maniacs (w/Jimmy Hart & the Renegade) (3-0) beat Ric Flair & Vader (w/Arn Anderson) when Hulk Hogan pins Flair after a leg drop at 18:56:

During the Monster Maniacs entrance, Paul Wight, who has not yet been given a name by WCW, is shown coming out of the backstage area before being stopped by WCW security.  He later appears by the entrance in sunglasses midway through the match as well.  The Renegade comes out after the Maniacs and is sporting new theme music due to the WWF’s lawsuit that his original music was too much like the Ultimate Warrior.  Parts of this match are like a bad dream from Uncensored as the Renegade keeps punking out the heels and they appear defenseless against the babyfaces.  Flair’s chops are no sold, Vader gets pinballed off the apron at will (becoming more a joke with each passing pay-per-view), Flair ends up in a figure-four, and Anderson somehow gets cradled during the match as if he is a participant.  What saves a lot of the match is Savage’s ability to sell for the heels.  He is even willing to take Vader’s moonsault, even though that only results in a near-fall.  Hogan starts cleaning house after the hot tag, heel miscommunication between Flair and Anderson knocks the Nature Boy out, and a leg drop keeps the Monster Maniacs undefeated.  After the bell, Heenan goes all Jesse Ventura, yelling about when Hogan’s reign of terror is going to end.  Although there is a lot to critique in terms of match layout, this had some entertaining spots that kept the crowd engaged and it was well paced.  Rating:  ***

After the bell, the heels ambush the babyfaces and throw Jimmy Hart over the top rope.  Angelo Poffo comes out of the crowd to save his son but ends up being brutalized by Flair and Anderson, paving the way for a Flair-Savage match at The Great American Bash next month.

The Last Word:  This show had some bright spots, namely the fun garbage brawl between Sting and Big Bubba Rogers and Gordon Solie’s reaction to being inducted into the Hall of Fame, but the rest was sub-par, continuing a trend for WCW pay-per-views in 1995.  Hulk Hogan’s run as champion is bringing some eyeballs to the WCW product but his main event run is ruining everything it touches because he will not appear vulnerable.  This was the perfect chance to rebuild Flair and Vader going into the summer but instead they are made to look inferior to the babyfaces yet again.  Where is the drama when the heels are outshined time and time again?

Attendance:  7,000

Buyrate:  0.57 (+0.09 over previous year; est. 100,000 buys)

Up Next:  WCW Pro for May 27!

And if you want to read what was happening in the WWF as a companion to this series of WCW reviews, check out my e-book on Amazon.  $4.99 for an electronic copy of the e-book or $26 for the paperback copy, which provides more than 800 pages of reviews, statistics, and angle breakdowns of the WWF in 1995!