(Continuing on with the Flair-Steamboat theme this weekend, here’s one of their last matches together, the rematch from Spring Stampede 94, which I reviewed on WWE 24/7 shortly after the amazing Flair DVD set came out!)
The SmarK 24/7 Rant for WCW Saturday Night – May 15 1994
– Man, this channel is crazy sometimes. After the last Flair DVD came out, people were like “Why put the Spring Stampede match on there when there’s a much better one from TV a month later?” Well, apparently that’s what 24/7 is for.
– Previously, at Spring Stampede, Steamboat and Flair pinned each other, and tie goes to the champion, so Flair retained. Steamboat was pretty pissed, however, and wants a rematch. Flair “vacated” the title in protest, although no one counts it as actually being vacant.
– Hosted by Tony Schiavone & Bobby Heenan.
Ravishing Rick Rude v. Mark Starr
Rude, the International World champion, overpowers Starr and slams him, then no-sells Starr’s comeback offense. He throws some REALLY stiff shots to put Starr down and adds a backdrop suplex, then hits a piledriver and yells for Vader in a feud that sadly went nowhere due to Rude’s retirement. Belly to belly suplex gets two, as he stops to pose. He goes to a bearhug and then finishes with the Rude Awakening at 3:40. So he didn’t make Slamboree to defend against Vader, which I guess would make this final televised wrestling appearance. That’s kind of sad.
Rude joins Gene Okerlund to hype his match with Vader, as he promises that it’s “Evil against evil” at the PPV.
The Nasty Boys v. Quinn Nash & Brad Anderson
Sadly, the Nasty Boys admit to injuring Evad Sullivan in the dressing room before this match, thus taking him out of the tag title match at Slamboree. Knobs beats on Anderson to start and the Nasties double-team him with a backdrop, and Sags adds a horrible looking kneedrop. I’m surprised he didn’t break the kid’s nose with that one. They be CLUBBERING in the corner, but Knobs misses a blind charge and Nash tags in. Sags quickly drops him with a backdrop suplex and then whips Knobs into him, and the SHITTY ELBOW OF DEATH finishes at 3:27. It’s funny, because Brad Anderson was a guy who was supposed to be a big deal and was billed as the son of Gene Anderson, but he just turned into a jobber at some point and never recovered. Wikipedia claims that he actually is the son of Gene Anderson, but I dunno.
Dustin Rhodes v. The Shadow
Dustin works on the arm and finishes with the bulldog at 2:51. Not much more to it than that. Afterwards, he calls Col Parker a raccoon or possibly a possum.
The Patriot v. Tony Zane
Man, Zane got FAT in the years after his days as a jobber on World Championship Wrestling. Patriot works a hammerlock, but Zane elbows out of it, so Patriot takes him down into a rear chinlock. Zane slugs back, but Patriot gets a backslide for two. He slugs away in the corner and adds a very nice dropkick, and the Patriot Missile shoulderblock sets up Uncle Slam to finish at 4:00.
Larry Zbyszko cuts a pretty good promo about Steven Regal and how the British are terrible people.
Sensuous Sherri continues her search for the perfect man to manage, which ended up as Ric Flair.
Tex Slazenger & Shanghai Pierce v. Kevin Sullivan
Dave is out, so this is a handicap match, apparently. He fights off the cowboys, and Shanghai accidentally clotheslines Tex, but the Nasty Boys run in for the DQ at 1:00. The beatdown commences, but Cactus Jack makes the save and sets up the tag title match at the PPV. You know, the simple angles are often the best. Afterwards, Jack lets Kevin know that he hates his guts and he’s not Dave’s babysitter, but put them together in Philadelphia and it will be glorious. Money promo. The match was awesome, as well.
WCW World title: Ric Flair v. Ricky Steamboat
Flair takes him down with the headlock to start and works on that, and they go into a wristlock power match. Steamboat wins and goes to an armbar, but Flair makes the ropes. They reverse hammerlocks and Steamboat takes him down and works on a hammerlock on the mat. Flair bridges out and takes him down with a half-crab, but Steamboat escapes. He catches Flair with a press slam (!), and then hits another one for good measure. Flair bails to the apron and Steamboat suplexes him back in for two. Back to the arm and Rob Parker joins us at ringside, and Steamboat keeps Flair down with armdrags and it turns into a slapfest. And Steamboat is PISSED, backhanding Flair and then chopping him into a backdrop. That backhand slap was PIMP, man. Flair bails to think it over, and heads back in again.
Steamboat starts with another headlock, but Flair goes low and pounds him in the corner to take over. We take a break and return with Flair hitting a flying axehandle off the apron and brawling with Steamboat on the floor. Back in, a cradle gets two. Flair holds the pin, making Steamboat escape, and they trade throws on the mat until Steamboat throws chops to get away. Flair goes heelish again and slugs him down, then works on a pin again while using the ropes, really making Steamboat work for it. Dragon fights back and Flair hits him with a backdrop suplex, and then pokes him in the eyes for good measure. Steamboat bails to shake it off, and Flair elbows him in the nose on the way back in. See, that’s awesome — he’s not doing anything technically illegal but he looks like a heel and gets the fans into it as a result. Steamboat sunset flips in for two, and a slam gets two. Blind charge hits boot, however. They do a great sequence trading near-falls until Flair chops him down again, and adds an elbow, then goes up with a rare kneedrop off the top. Flair adds a sleeper and Steamboat is forced to fight out of that, and he rams Flair into the corner to break. Flair Flop results and we have to take a break!
Back with Flair tossing Steamboat and then it turns into CHOP-A-MANIA 94 before Steamboat tosses Flair into the Flair Flip, and then chops him off the apron. He follows with a flying chop off the top, but Flair nails him on the way down to the floor. Steamboat comes right back with a suplex out there, and now Steamboat hammers him on the apron. Suplex back in is reversed by Flair, and he chops Steamboat down, but misses a kneedrop. Steamboat gets cheeky and starts working on the leg, wrapping it around the post and splashing the knee. Figure-four and Flair is fighting, so Steamboat keeps chopping him down for near-falls while holding the move. Flair makes the ropes, so Steamboat goes right back to the leg and then chops him like crazy in the corner. For some reason, even with commercials cut, Gary Capetta’s time announcements synch perfectly with my stopwatch. How is that working? Are they overdubbing the time announcements in post-production for 24/7? And we take another break.
Back with Flair getting a suplex for two, but Steamboat hits him with a knee to the forehead from his back. However, Steamboat tries another headlock and Flair hits the kneecrusher and it’s figure-four time, as he’s not screwing around any longer. He even grabs the ropes despite being a babyface at this point. Pee Wee catches him and forces the break, so Flair kicks Steamboat in the leg again and adds another kneecrusher. Steamboat slugs him from that position, however, and adds an enzuigiri, then slams Flair off the top. And the time announcement is STILL perfectly synched. That’s WEIRD, man. Flair flips again and comes off the top with a flying bodypress, but Steamboat rolls through for two. Flair comes back with a stungun and tries a backdrop suplex, but Steamboat flips out into a sleeper. Flair suplexes out of it again and they go into the pinfall reversal sequence, and Steamboat puts Flair on the top and follows with the superplex. That gets two. Steamboat sends Flair into the corner and hits a backdrop suplex for two, then comes off the top with a flying chop for two. Back up for another chop and that gets two. Press slam and he goes up to finish, but the cross body wipes out the ref. He recovers quickly and Flair gets a rollup for two. Steamboat with a small package for two. Rollup gets two. They criss-cross and Flair boots him in the face, but Steamboat does a nice jackknife rolling cradle that Flair reverses for two. And here you can SEE Capetta making the 35 minute announcement at ringside, so it’s not even post-production trickery. I just don’t get it.
Steamboat tries a leapfrog and Flair headbutts him in the little Dragon and pins him at 36:34 to “regain” the title. I dunno, Meltzer portrayed this as significantly better than the Spring Stampede match when talking about the latest Flair DVD, but I’ve seen that match tons of times and I wouldn’t call either one better or worse than the other. It was great but they were obviously running out of gas after 30 minutes and I didn’t feel like it built to a proper ending. Still, well worth going out of your way to see and it should have been on a Flair DVD. Maybe a Steamboat DVD is forthcoming, who knows? ****1/4 Afterwards, Flair ponders Parker’s offer of a briefcase full of money, but decks him and takes the money anyway.
Actually a really fun show that built up the Slamboree card well and hit all the major issues. They were obviously building towards another Horsemen reunion, but Hogan came in and changed the entire dynamic of the promotion, so it was just a case of what might have been.