The SmarK Rant for WCW WrestleWar 91 – 02.24.91
IN STEREO WHERE AVAILABLE! I think the Network is in mono, actually.
Someone wrote in and pointed out that my only rant on this show is kind of dogshit, so twist my arm, let’s redo WarGames 91 because god knows I’ve got nothing else going on while I’m vacation and locked in the house.
Live from Phoenix, AZ
Your hosts are Jim Ross & Dusty Rhodes
WCW Six-Man titles: Ricky Morton, Junkyard Dog & Tommy Rich v. The State Patrol & “Big Cat” Curtis Hughes
Holy shit what an opener! Truly a main event in any flea market in the south. I’m a little disappointed that Rich & Morton weren’t able to find another redneck jackass with a mullet to join them as a partner. Was Buddy Landel busy? Dog slugs it out with Cat and BY THE WAY there’s a feud that WCW completely dropped the ball on. Either as a feud or a tag team it literally writes itself. The champs double-team James Earl Wright and Tommy works the arm. Over to Buddy and Tommy works his arm as well as JR clarifies that the State Patrol are in fact FORMER members of the State Patrol and do not represent any branch of the police services. That’s good because they both sound like they’re named after serial killers anyway. Morton cleans house with atomic drops and JYD beats on Buddy Lee. Back to Big Cat and we get a test of strength, which is won by JYD, but Cat uses the CLUBBING FOREARMS to take over and gets two. Dusty notes that JYD looks like George Foreman with his newly shaved head. Yeah, if Foreman literally drank all the fat that drained off his hamburger grills. Morton comes in and plays Ricky Morton as the Patrol works him over with a nice double backbreaker and Paisan Elbow for two. Morton tries a bodypress on Cat and gets caught with a backbreaker as we once again learn that if you want a good match, just put Morton in there and beat on him and he’ll take care of it for you. Finally Parker misses a blind charge and it’s hot tag JYD, as he Thumps Parker for two. Cat makes the save, but Morton dives onto Parker for the pin at 10:00 instead. I can’t hate on it too much, it was a fun opener. **1/4
The York Foundation joins Tony for an interview, with Alexandra York putting over the accuracy of her “computer”. She predicts a time of less than “15 minutes and 28 seconds” while Taylor predicts “pain”. I feel like the computer probably wouldn’t predict “pain”. Unless it’s Skynet or something. And I can’t live in a world where Skynet is based on something created by World Championship Wrestling. It would probably try to start nuclear war and accidentally launch missiles into the ocean instead.
Bobby Eaton v. Brad Armstrong
With the Midnight Express now out of Jim Herd’s hair for good, they decided to give Eaton a singles push to spite Jim Cornette and justify keeping Bobby around. Eaton’s theme music is a weird deal where the crowd is supposedly chanting his name, which seems a bit presumptuous. DID YOU KNOW? Brad has a brother fighting in Operation Desert Shield right now. You may have heard of him before in fact. Bobby attacks from behind despite him supposedly being a babyface, but Brad fights him off and goes to work on the arm with an armbar. Bobby slugs him down in the corner to escape, but Brad goes back to the arm again. Eaton throws him out to escape, but Brad runs him into the post and goes back to the arm in the ring. Nice spot as Brad walks up Bobby’s shoulders and takes him down again, but Bobby escapes with a slingshot suplex attempt. Brad lands on his feet and counters to his own suplex, but Eaton clotheslines him down for two. “He just about rearranged them peepers on Brad Armstrong” notes Dusty. Bobby with the elevated backbreaker for two and he drops an elbow for two, looking like he accidentally hit him right in the forehead as if Brad was supposed to move. Ouch. Bobby with a chinlock and Great Muta is at ringside to put over the WCW/New Japan Supershow, which still isn’t on the WWE Network as of 2020. Brad elbows out of the chinlock, so Eaton gives him a slingshot into an elevated backbreaker this time for two. Now that’s cool. Back to the chinlock, but Brad fights out, so Eaton tosses him to hurt the back and gets an abdominal stretch and grabs the ropes. These are not the actions of a man with the crowd chanting his name in his entrance music! They slug it out and Eaton rakes the eyes, but he misses a blind charge and Brad makes the comeback with the dropkick. LEGSWEEP OF DOOM gets two but Eaton is in the ropes. Brad puts his head down out of the corner like a doofus, however, and Bobby finishes him off with the Alabama Jam at 12:50. Eaton was completely booked as a heel but got himself over as a babyface because he’s awesome. ***1/2
Miss A & Miki Handa v. Itsuki Yamasaki & Mami Kitamura
Some random joshi here. Miss A gets double-teamed immediately but she throws some vicious kicks on Kitamura, and Handa comes in with armdrags and a slam for two. A with a suplex for two and she works the leg, but Kitamura gets a back elbow out of the corner and its’ over to Yamasaki. She manages a butterfly suplex on Miss A for two and Kitamura gets a backdrop suplex for two. Handa comes in and Kitamura gets a small package on her for two and follows with a bulldog. Yamasaki works on Handa with a gut wrench suplex and a headbutt for two, but Miss A comes in and kicks the SHIT out of Yamazaki in the corner. They trade cradles for two and Miss A gets a northern lights suplex for two and then kills her with a backdrop driver for two. This is some Steiner Brothers shit going down here. Kitamura manages to get a tag but Miss A overpowers her immediately and they double suplex her. Yamazaki gets a blind tag and comes in with a missile dropkick, and then gets a sunset flip with an assist from a flying clothesline from Kitamura for two. Miss A kills her again with a clothesline, but Yamazaki gets a rollup for the pin at 6:51. Crazy non-stop action here. ***1/2 So “Miss A” later became known as Dynamite Kansai and she obviously was a huge star, but I don’t think any of the others did.
Missy Hyatt joins Tony and announces that tonight she’s going into the dressing rooms to get an interview. Well there’s a lawsuit just waiting to happen.
Buddy Landell v. Dustin Rhodes
Dustin was fresh off losing at Royal Rumble 91, so naturally it’s the perfect time for bookerman Dusty to push him to the moon! Dustin with a backdrop and he chases Buddy to the corner, but Landell fights back with chops, so Dustin gives him elbows and follows with a lariat for two. Dustin works the arm and Buddy backs off to the corner, as Dustin misses a blind charge and hits the post. Buddy chokes him out on the ropes and gets two. Budro with a slam for two as they’re struggling for how to proceed and Dustin loses his place on a whip attempt, so Buddy grabs a sleeper. Dustin fights out of that and clotheslines him to the floor, still stumbling around awkwardly, and back in for the bulldog to finish at 6:30. Thankfully Dustin got much better later on. ½*
Meanwhile, in the dressing room, Missy Hyatt is in the dressing room about to go interview people in the dressing room and be the first woman in the dressing room. And of course she walks in and Stan Hansen is the first person she meets, as he goes off on “this heffer!” and chases her out with a mouth full of chewing tobacco.
The Royal Family (Jack Victory & Rip Morgan) v. The Young Pistols
Morgan and Victory sadly hanging onto their former connections to the Sheepherders is typical WCW. Like what is their gimmick even supposed to be at this point? At least once they shifted to “The New Zealand Militia” there was a bit of focus to it. Even though Jack Victory isn’t from New Zealand but that’s the least of the problems. The Pistols chase them out of the ring to start and then the lights go out in typical WCW fashion, so they have to fire up a spotlight instead to continue the match until the momentarily blackout ends. So Morgan grabs a headlock on Tracy while they straighten things out, but the Pistols double-team in the corner and clear the ring again. Back in, Victory with the headlock on Steve, but they hit him with a double shoulderblock for two. Steve misses a bodypress, however, and the heels go to work on him in their corner. Morgan with a back elbow for two, but Victory misses a charge and Smothers gets the hot tag. But then Morgan gets a cheapshot from the apron and runs Tracy into the post to take over again. Morgan with a bearhug as the slow pace continues, and a spinebuster gets two. Dr. Dusty notes that it’ll make your back crack, your knees freeze, AND your liver quiver! Man, any one of those things sounds like bad news by itself. Lower back injuries really are career-killers. Royal Family with another double-team on Tracy and they stomp him down, but they try a double suplex and Armstrong dropkicks them over to put Tracy on top of Morgan for the pin at 12:00. Eh, just a TV level match. **
Diamond Dallas Page, the new manager of the Freebirds, calls out Teddy Long, which results in Teddy running out and denying any rumors of Doom splitting up. Because homie don’t play dat!
No DQ match: Terry Taylor v. Tom Zenk
The Taylor thing was so weird in that he was feuding with Michael Wallstreet, who was the guy originally doing the computer gimmick, but then Rotunda was signed away by the WWF to be IRS and Taylor ended up turning heel and taking over the gimmick for himself. Someone REALLY wanted this computerized man thing to get over. Taylor gets a couple of cheapshots and that only serves to fire up Zenk, who chases Taylor to the floor for some advice from Alexandra York. That advice? “Marry the booker’s son and get implants.” I think the computer was giving that advice to her, actually. Back in, Zenk works a headlock on the mat, so Taylor retreats to the floor for more computerized advice. That advice? “If someone offers to make you a rooster, SAY NO.” Bit too late for that one, sadly. Back in, Zenk with a backdrop for two and he works a headlock on the mat and grinds on that for a while, but Taylor escapes with a headbutt and follows with a backdrop suplex. They fight to the floor while we learn that former US champion Nikita Koloff is at ringside watching, and Taylor chokes Zenk out with a TV cable. Back in, Zenk fights back, but Taylor pokes him in the eye and follows with a backbreaker for two. Taylor goes to a camel clutch and we get a shot of that amazing computer she’s using…
But can it run Crysis? Taylor drops a knee on Zenk for two and hits a clothesline out of the corner for two. Zenk comes back with a neckbreaker and hits the superkick for two, but Taylor is in the ropes. So he keeps coming with a powerslam for two and gets an enzuigiri to set up a flying bodypress, but Alexandra York takes the ref and Taylor wins with a rollup and a handful of tights at 10:48. Good match but not a lot of heat. *** Probably because the crowd didn’t quite understand the terrifying implications of Skynet fixing wrestling matches yet, what with Terminator 2 not releasing until later in the year.
Paul E. Dangerously, dressed like a particularly flamboyant matador, joins us for the Danger Zone and alerts everyone in Phoenix that he actually works undercover for immigration and all the Mexicans in the audience will need to take their refried beans and velvet paintings back over the border now. His guest is El Gigante, who stands there claiming not to speak English, while Paul calls all Latino people thieves and liars until Gigante finally slams him and then steals his hat. So he lied about speaking English and then stole the hat? I guess Paul was right.
RETURN GRUDGE BOUT: Stan Hansen v. Big Van Vader
Kind of a weird return grudge bout because they don’t really explain what the original match was or what happened. They immediately brawl as Vader heads into the ring and Vader just CLUBS him with a clothesline out of the corner and gets two. Vader with the corner splash and he drops an elbow for two, then goes to a chinlock. They head to the floor and slug it out down there, which gives us a good view of the WALL of empty seats on the hard camera side in the kind of directing faux pas WWE never, EVER does. Back in, Hansen gets a back suplex for two and drops an elbow for two. So they head to the floor again and just hit each other with whatever weapons are handy. Back in, they slug it out again and fall to the floor off that, as Vader drops him on the railing and drops an elbow as Dusty sounds like he’s having the time of his life watching this. Back in again, but Stan pulls him out of the ring again and runs him into the stairs. They head back in one more time and do another slugfest until the ref gets thrown out of the ring in the fracas and the match gets thrown out at 6:30. Too short and no finish but they were on track for something classic if it was allowed to be as crazy and violent as Japan would have allowed. I don’t think the crowd would have been ready for that anyway. *** And then Hansen tries to hang him with his bullrope and they fight all the way to the back.
US title: Lex Luger v. Dan Spivey
Odd that they never did anything with Sid Vicious putting over former partner Spivey before leaving for the WWF. They just mostly ignored their history. This is the last appearance of the classic 80s US title, which is a shame because it’s one of my all time favorite designs. Spivey pounds on Lex in the corner, but gets backdropped and hit with clotheslines by Lex. So this is an interesting match in that both guys were pegged by major promotions as “the next Hulk Hogan” at various points, and neither one could come close to living up to it. Spivey slugs on him in the corner, but runs into a boot in the corner and Luger punches him down. But he tries a bodypress and lands in the other ring, and Spivey suplexes him back in and follows with a tombstone piledriver for two! Oh there’s a message to Mean Mark there I bet. Spivey with a neckbreaker for two and goes to a chinlock, then hits a DDT for two. Spivey is BRINGING IT tonight. Spivey chokes him out on the ropes, but Lex slugs back, so Spivey headbutts him and follows with a corner clothesline for two. Another clothesline misses and Luger gets a rollup for two, so Spivey gives him some stiff kicks to the back to set up a suplex. Lex reverses that, but Spivey slams him and hits a flying elbow for two! Spivey with a neckbreaker for two. Spivey with a headscissors to work the neck a bit more, and he follows with a big boot for two. Spivey tries a normal piledriver this time and that gets two. But now Luger makes the comeback as the crowd goes nuts, until Spivey cuts him off with a belly to belly for two and goes to a chinlock. They do the arm test spot to build more heat for Lex and he fights out of that, but Dan catches him with the overhead armdrag. Spivey with shoulderblocks, but Lex hotshots him and makes the comeback for real this time, slugging him down and going up with a flying clothesline. Powerslam sets up the rack, but Spivey throws him out of the ring to buy time, so Luger comes in with a sunset flip and Spivey blocks it. They clothesline each other for the double down and slug it out from their knees, but they collide again and Luger lands on the apron. So he goes up and Spivey slams him off, but Luger rolls through into a cradle for the pin at 12:56 to retain. HOT DAMN. I always forget about this match but it’s seriously one of Lex’s best matches ever, as he meshes perfectly with a motivated Spivey. ****
And then Nikita Koloff and Grizzly Smith present Lex with the new US title belt, and Nikita turns on him and hits him in the head with the belt to declare that he’s BACK and ready to rip up WCW again after Luger stole the title from him in 1987. This was awesome, but Nikita couldn’t sustain the intensity he had here.
WCW World tag team title: Doom v. The Fabulous Freebirds
You may have heard about this one before. This was all-time WCW stupidity, as the Freebirds are challenging for the titles here despite already losing them to the Steiners at a TV taping a couple of weeks before they even won them. Thus they have the distinction of having a negative title reign. DDP also introduces Oliver “Big Daddy Dink” Humperdink as yet another manager for the Freebirds, to be joined by a THIRD manager in the form of Badstreet a couple of months later. The Freebirds were a case of WCW pumping endless money and creative forces into a team that basically returned zero in terms of money drawn. Meanwhile Doom were hitting their prime as a team and had another couple of years at least left in the tank and they were split up for the failed Ron Simmons singles push. Simmons beats on Hayes and slams them both, so Garvin comes in and Reed wallops him as well. Reed with a press slam, but Hayes slugs him down to break it up. Doom double-teams Garvin in their corner and Simmons works the back, but Garvin comes back with a DDT on Reed. Simmons cuts off the tag with a spinebuster and follows with a powerslam, but everyone brawls and Reed gets a foreign object from Long. That goes awry as he hits Ron with it by mistake, and Garvin falls on top for the pin and the titles at 7:00. And then Reed and Teddy turn on Simmons to break up the team for good. Match was OK but I have no idea why they needed to transition the belts through the Freebirds in the first place. **
Ric Flair, Sid Vicious, Barry Windham & Larry Zbyszko v. Brian Pillman, Sting, Rick Steiner & Scott Steiner.
Pillman’s shoulder is all taped up, due (kayfabe-wise) to a Horsemen attack covered in the pre-match video. Pillman starts with Windham and gets a flying clothesline with the good arm, and uses the roof of the cage for leverage as he takes Windham down with a rana. He chops away in the corner, and headfakes Windham into taking a missile dropkick. He misses a splash, however, but comes back with a low blow. All’s fair in love and Wargames. Barry hits the cage and starts the blood flowing early, so Brian gives him some extra treatment on the cage. Jawbreaker and he bites the cut and hammers it in the corner. Hiptoss and he goes ground and pound, and back into the cage goes Windham. Pillman goes up with a flying clothesline and another jawbreaker, and he tosses Windham into the second ring and into the cage again. Windham is just selling like nuts for Pillman here. Spinkick puts Windham down and Pillman goes to work on the leg, but Windham comes back and slugs it out with him. Windham tries a piledriver, but Pillman reverses and comes off the top with another shot. The first period expires and the heels win the coin toss (duh), so Flair is in next.
They exchange chops, which Pillman WINS, but the Horsemen double-team him and send him into the cage shoulder-first. Windham spikes him into the cage and Flair holds the arm while Windham pounds it, and they dump him into the other cage. They work over the shoulder until Sting makes the save. He goes nuts on both of the heels, and gets a double-clothesline that sends the crowd into the atmosphere. Sting pairs off with Flair with a bulldog while Pillman keeps at Windham, but Brian gets crotched and the two-on-one commences on Sting. Pillman comes back to save while Sting no-sells Flair’s chops, but Larry Z is next in. Pillman puts Windham in a figure-four, and Sting dives from one to the other with a clothesline on Zbyszko. Flair & Larry go after Sting, and Flair breaks up Pillman’s figure-four. The Horsemen take over and pound on Sting, but Rick Steiner is in next to save. He clotheslines everyone and pounds Flair in the corner, into a belly-to-belly. Flair meets the cage and starts bleeding. Meanwhile, Pillman pounds Larry in the other ring until getting hung in the Tree of Woe and stomped. Sid Vicious is next in, and he goes right for Pillman’s injured shoulder. He then helps Flair out by holding Rick in place for a low blow, and clotheslines Sting. Pillman keeps pounding Flair into the cage, as does Rick. Poor guy. Larry sends Rick into the cage, but he no-sells it. The heels take over on Pillman & Steiner, but Scott Steiner is the last man in and clotheslines both Flair & Windham. Butterfly bomb on Larry, and he nails Sid with a flying clothesline (blatantly called on camera by Sid and Rick) as Sting puts Flair in the Scorpion deathlock.
Sid works on Pillman’s shoulder, ramming it into the corner and ripping the bandages off it. Pillman fights back, however, and goes low, and soon it’s four figure-fours on the Horsemen as the crowd goes insane. They all escape, but Sting presses Flair into the cage roof in a cool visual stolen from Steve Williams. Pillman chokes out Zbyszko while Sid stomps Rick Steiner and the Horsemen double-team him. The Horsemen go after Pillman, but he keeps fighting Flair with chops. Scott DDTs Windham, but Sid lays him out. And then the spot that makes this a famous match – Sid faceplants Pillman, and then powerbombs him, catching his feet on the roof on the way up and dropping him right on his neck, nearly killing him. Then, he does it AGAIN, legitimately injuring him and drawing El Gigante out for improvised finish whereby he surrenders the match on his behalf to give it to the Horsemen at 22:05. Most assumed Pillman’s career to be over at that point. Typically great and bloody Wargames, although not quite as great as I gave it credit for first time around. Still one of the best WCW matches of the 90s, though. ****1/2
Hell of a show for a lazy weekend! That Spivey match in particular remains a pleasantly awesome surprise every time I see it, and there’s nothing I’d call really bad here. Definitely worth checking it out.