What the World Was Watching: WCW Pro – November 18, 1995

WCW Prime for November 13 featured a new match, with Chris Cruise and Dusty Rhodes doing commentary.

Prime “MOOOO” Match of the Week:  Sting & Lex Luger (2-0) defeat the Blue Bloods (24-7-2) when Sting pins Earl Robert Eaton after heel miscommunication at 6:38 shown:

This is a match more fitting for WCW Saturday Night than WCW Prime, but the audience will gladly take it after suffering through the Star Blazer-Big Train Bart feature match last week.  Cruise and Dusty discuss whether Sting’s alignment with Luger makes him a heel since Luger is affiliated with the Dungeon of Doom through Jimmy Hart.  Dusty’s comedic wit appears again, referring to Eaton as “the Earl of Bob.”  What unfolds is a typical tag match, with Luger being placed in peril.  The Bloods do not bother using any unique offense or even heeling it up much before Sting gets the hot tag and pinning Eaton after he runs into Lord Steven Regal.  Regal and Eaton have now lost four straight matches and completely lost whatever momentum they were building during the summer.  Rating:  *¾

And now onto WCW Pro for November 18, with Cruise, Dusty, and Larry Zbyszko calling the action for the first half of the show.  This show also gets a new opening, with a rock beat to match the grunge-like setup for Disney/MGM that debuted last week.  It is all a welcome breath of fresh air.

Opening Contest:  Chris Benoit (5-1) beats Vern Henderson after a dragon suplex after 3:53:

Cruise puts over Henderson as a football coach for an undefeated high school program in Florida and he looks great in defeat, switching out of a German suplex effort and using one of his own and then planting the Canadian Crippler with an overhead belly-to-belly.  Benoit goes under a clothesline and hits the dragon suplex for the pin, ending one of the more entertaining squashes of the year.

Ten-Man Battle Royal:  The Disco Inferno wins after eliminating the State Patrol at 4:58:

Other participants:  Dave Sullivan, Ned Brady, Cobra, Mark Starr, Frankie Lancaster, and the Barrio Brothers

It would be nice if this battle royal had stakes, possibly a television title shot on Monday Nitro, but it is simply used as a vehicle for the announcers to hype the World War 3 battle royal.  Disco runs away from the action, which sees the heel tag teams toss out the other participants until Disco is left with the State Patrol.  After a brief beatdown, the Patrol go to throw him out, but Disco is able to stop his momentum and both of the Patrol go over the top rope.  The bookers picked the right winner and they were smart to keep this short since the match lacked big stars.  Rating:  *

Gene Okerlund provides a new World War 3 Control Center.  New entries into the battle royal are the Renegade, Road Warrior Hawk, Alex Wright, Mr. J.L., and Sabu (who would not appear).  A new match added to the card is Kensuke Sasaki defending the United States title against Chris Benoit.  Okerlund quickly tells fans that Sasaki recently won the title from Sting.  Little did fans know at the time that this signaled dark days for the U.S. title as the belt would not be treated as something important until Ric Flair won it the following summer.

Eddie Guerrero (8-2-3) pins the Gambler after a frog splash at 3:49:

WCW has begun spelling Guerrero’s first name correctly so that will be adjusted in future recaps.  The Gambler was one of the noted WCW jobbers of the 1990s, possessing a customized ring jacket that featured playing cards on the back and carrying cards to the ring.  He was a WCW Power Plant project who was trained in 1990 and then worked on his gimmick in the USWA, doing jobs on WCW television periodically over the next five years.  While in the USWA he was a tag team champion with Brickhouse Brown and Gorgeous George III (who later appeared in WCW as the Maestro).  Guerrero drops the Gambler on his head with a headscissors and brainbuster, setting up the frog splash and giving him some momentum going into his match with Chris Benoit on WCW Saturday Night.

The second half of the broadcast gives us the New Japan portion, with Cruise and Sonny Onoo calling the action.  Onoo laughs about Kensuke Sasaki defeating Sting in Japan for the United States title, saying Sasaki’s loss to Benoit on the recent Monday Nitro was just a ploy to lure Sting into losing the title.

Jushin Liger (0-2) beats Barry Houston after a fisherman’s buster at 3:20:

A big problem with the WCW-New Japan angle is that fans are supposed to hate the Japanese talent, but Liger was a crowd favorite when he wrestled in WCW in the early 1990s and during his appearances against Brian Pillman and Eddie Guerrero in 1995.  The Disney crowd goes along with booing him, though, because they do not know better.  Houston shows some nice fire, avoiding a somersault splash and then doing a springboard reverse flying body press onto Liger on the arena floor and then doing a Northern light suplex on the concrete.  However, when he goes to the top rope, Liger superplexes him off and then follows with a fisherman’s buster to end a fun squash.

Koji Kanemoto defeats Scott Armstrong (0-10) after a tiger suplex at 6:35:

Kanemoto was best known in the early 1990s as Tiger Mask III.  That run ended in January 1994 when he lost a mask versus mask match to Liger at the Tokyo Dome.  At the time of this broadcast he was the promotion’s junior heavyweight champion.  Kanemoto appears to struggle getting his moves in under a more compressed television format, slowly striking Armstrong and Armstrong countering every now and then with a wrestling hold.  Kanemoto eventually dials things up to ten in a hurry, delivering a moonsault and then picking Armstrong up to deliver a tiger suplex and win his American television debut.  Rating:  *

Onoo, Jushin Liger, and Kanemoto appear near the announce table, with Onoo gloating about Japan now possessing the U.S. title.

Sting does a taped promo where he says that Hulk Hogan has offended the Little Stingers and that he is not afraid of Hogan because he has faced lots of big dogs throughout his career in WCW.

The Last Word:  The split broadcast was a great idea in theory to give WCW Pro some relevance but it is not working in execution because Sonny Onoo is a terrible broadcaster who cannot put over the angle and American fans do not know enough about most of the Japanese stars to care.  It may have been better to use Onoo – or better yet someone who was a veteran talker – as a manager and splice the Japanese invasion between matches that featured WCW talent so that the end of the shows did not feature glorified squashes.  Concerns about commentary and show layout aside, the in-ring product was pretty good on this episode except for the main event.

Up Next:  WCW Worldwide for November 18!