Andy PG suggested this one, describing the Main Event as “the Cage Match from Heck” (I may have cleaned that up a little bit). I have actually seen this show before, but it’s been a while since I watched it and I was intrigued to give it another look.
This is showing up on a Monday instead of the usual Saturday slot as I had a G1 review to post on Saturday and Rick had one up on Sunday, so I decided to post this up on Monday so as to not over-saturate the place with too much of my stuff and to also try and not step on Rick’s toes too much. Feel free to check mine and Rick’s archives if you want to catch yourself up on the G1 action.
For those not au fait, these reviews are essentially me trying my own hand at what the fine folk at Wrestle Crap do, where I watch a show that is widely considered to be awful in a quest to see whether it deserves it’s stinky reputation or not.
This show took part in a strange little era for WCW, as Nitro had started in the autumn of 1995 but they hadn’t yet brought Kevin Nash and Scott Hall over from the WWF to give the company the big shot in the arm it needed. As a result they were still mostly doing the same old “Hulk Hogan Vs a group of cartoonish heels” routine that had been going on in some form since the 80’s.
Wrestlers like Eddie Guerrero and Dean Malenko had started making their way into the mid-card at this point, which usually meant you were likely to have a good match or two on these shows, whilst Ric Flair and Randy Savage were going for a more realistic storyline of Flair nicking Randy’s ex-wife and then spending all her alimony to get the Macho Man all good and agitated.
As a result the company had a kind of confused feel to it, with the gimmicky Hogan stuff feeling kind of out of place when contrasted with the more serious wrestling going on elsewhere on the card. This imbalance would eventually be addressed when the New World Order showed up later in the year, as it made the Main Event scene serious again and not just a parade of wacky gimmick bouts with outlandish Saturday Morning Cartoon villains trying to take down Hulkamania.
The big angle for this show was that Kevin Sullivan and his Dungeon of Doom had teamed up with Ric Flair and his Horsemen stable in an effort to finally kill off Hulkamania once and for all, leading to a ludicrous 8 on 2 Main Event where the two groups aligned to take on Hogan and Savage in a three tier cage match. Oh yes, you might want to attach a nose peg, because it’s likely that things are going to get stinky!
The event is emanating from Tupelo, Mississippi on the 24th of March 1996
Calling the action are Tony Schiavone, Dusty Rhodes and Bobby Heenan
I must say I never liked how WCW would do all the pyro and then have the commentators sit around for 5 minutes discussing the show before getting a match in there. The WWF thing of hitting someone’s music the minute the opening fanfare is completed strikes me as a much better way to go when it comes to sustaining crowd heat.
WCW United States Title
Champ: Konnan Vs Eddie Guerrero
Konnan was also the Mexican Champion here and had defeated One Man Gang for the Title, in probably the last major push of OMG’s career outside of runs in ECW. Eddie was the generic smiling babyface here, but it was already clear that his work was really good and it was helping him win some fans. Konnan is much maligned as a worker, but one thing I think he’s good at is working holds, especially when he’s in there with someone else who can do that as well, so they mostly do that here, especially as it suits the Face/Face alignment.
As an opener it’s okay in the sense that it eases the crowd in and features mostly solid wrestling with the odd flash counter, but it’s not like they’re doing anything especially exciting. These days you’d probably expect the opener to be one of the better matches of the night because fans are now conditioned to shows starting hot, but that wasn’t really a formula that WCW had established yet. That would change once the Crusierweight’s started getting featured more prominently, as throwing them out to pop the crowd with nice high flying was usually a good way to start things off brightly.
There isn’t much chemistry between both guys to be honest, and the action feels a bit disjointed as a result. Whenever there’s a chance for things to heat up, such as when Eddie slaps Konnan at one point to get the crowd to do some duelling chants, they end up slowing it down again and working the holds. I’m all for starting things out steady on the mat before picking things up as the match goes on, but that never happens here. They keep it steady, do something flash to get the crowd interested, and then take it all the way back down again. It’s like the world’s most mild rollercoaster.
One positive is that Eddie in general looks really good here, and you get the feeling that he’s trying to make the most of being on pay per view, especially when he lands on his feet from a monkey flip in a fabulous counter and then follows that up with a dive to the outside. It’s just a shame they always fire a cannon into the momentum by slowing it down every time it threatens to get interesting. I’m thinking that maybe Konnan just didn’t have the required puff to work at a consistent pace, hence why they have to keep slowing it down like this?
Eddie is working so well here that you almost wish they had a different opponent in there who could keep pace with him. Konnan is good at certain things, but working a fast-paced and exciting opener is not one of them. If you want mat wrestling and character work then he’s your boogieman, and there’s absolutely a place for that, but this sort of match is definitely not in his wheelhouse. We eventually get a couple of good near falls and then head to a banana peel finish, as Konnan accidentally catches Eddie right in the El Paso’s with a head butt when Eddie can’t clear him on a leap frog, and that allows Konnan to hold him down for three to retain.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: KONNAN
They went too long and it never kicked into the higher gear it needed to, but the wrestling for the most part was fine and Eddie gave a strong account of himself
Mean Gene Okerlund is in the locker room, where he hypes up the online chat room, with clips of Giant supposedly chatting with people. Talking to people on the internet in real time? I can’t see that ever becoming a thing! Col Rob Parker and Dick Slater come in for some promo time. Parker is doing the old Andy Kaufman routine where he’s wrestling a woman tonight, and says he’s fighting for women haters the world over. Parker’s gimmick of always sweating at all times never fails to amuse me. Seriously, someone get that man some Lynx Africa!
Lord Steven Regal w/ Jeeves Vs David “Fit” Finlay “The Belfast Bruiser”
Was Jeeves (Pronounced “Jives” by Dusty) an actual wrestler or was he just an actor they hired to play Regal’s man-servant? This one is English Snob Vs Rough Irish Brawler, which is a natural rivalry, and both men are more than happy to work snug, so they just beat the ever loving salt and vinegar out of one another. The crowd catches on that some proper strikes are getting thrown and they act almost like a Japanese crowd, where they watch intently and react to the hits. This one certainly isn’t for everyone, but if you’re into the old hyper-realism when it comes to your wrestling then this will likely tickle your fancy.
The match has genuine storytelling in it too, with Regal trying to get it on the mat more whilst Finlay clearly wants to keep it firmly as a slug fest, which eventually leads to Regal having to dig deep and dish out some knuckle sandwiches of his own. Regal even suplexes Finlay off the apron to the floor at one stage and then engages his inner Mick Foley by dropping an elbow down onto his foe. Finlay replies with some stiff kicks back inside, and that gets a noticeable pop from the crowd. Regal hits Finlay right in County Down in reply to that, but Finlay just keeps coming, earning the respect of the crowd as a result.
This feels a lot like an Americanised version of a Classic British Wrestling bout that you’d see on World of Sport in the 70’s or 80’s actually, as they are just brutalising one another and trading momentum rather than doing the usual American seven point structure. Both men fight outside and Finlay cracks Regal hard in the face, busting the Englishman’s nose in the process and causing it to GUSH with blood. Goodness me these lads aren’t messing about! This probably freaks out the director, as the camera zooms out in order to try and show as little of the blood as possible. Sadly the match ends up having a pretty flat ending, as Squire David Taylor and Earl Robert Eaton run in to attack Finlay for the DQ.
WINNER BY DISQUALIFICATION: FINLAY
This one won’t be for everyone, but I dug it and thought it was an interesting slice of something different
Finlay chases the heels to the back following the decision, and eventually he’d take on Regal in a Parking Lot Brawl to blow this all off.
Mean Gene is in the locker room with Jimmy Hart and The Giant. Hart says he’s going to prove how great a manager he is by having Giant take out former client Loch Ness. Giant cuts the generic growling monster heel promo and also targets World Champ Ric Flair.
We head back briefly to the commentary team before going to Mean Gene with Loch Ness (Giant Haystacks). Haystacks’ decidedly non-Scottish accent kind of ruins the gimmick somewhat. Hearing him cut the generic American promo in a thick Salford accent just seems really out of place here. It’s a shame that Haystacks never got a chance in America during his 70’s prime, because he was physically shot by the 90’s due to health issues. I watched a good match he had with Wayne Bridges recently actually and you can give that a goosey gander by clicking HERE if you want to see him when he could still go.
Colonel Robert Parker w/ Dirty Dick Slater Vs Madusa
I’m not sure of the exact background here, but I remember there was something going on with Parker, Madusa and Sensational Sherri, so this was probably part of that storyline. Parker is funny as a bumbling buffoon taking bumps for Madusa and the crowd is into the idea of her kicking his butt, so the match has decent heat. Parker even goes up for a body slam at one point, which is impressive on Madusa’s part for lifting him and impressive on his part for going up light. Both play their parts well and they protect Madusa by having her only lose due to interference from Slater.
WINNER: COL PARKER
Decent comedy bout
Lee “Tony The Tiger” Marshall hypes up the WCW tag team scene and brings in the Road Warriors for promo time. Hawk rambles about bodily functions and doesn’t even deliver the go-home line. LAME!
Diamond Dallas Page Vs The Booty Man
The story here is that Kimberly Page won a decent chunk of change from a game of Bingo but DDP nicked the money for himself and bought a bunch of flash stuff for it. However, Johnny B. Badd ended up coming to Kim’s rescue and won not only her freedom but also the Bingo money. DDP has put his career up as collateral here, with him getting both the money and Kim back if he wins. However, Marc Mero had jumped from WCW to the WWF before they could blow this off, so Booty Man (The former Brutus Beefcake) has randomly been inserted instead, with a subplot going on that Kim finds him really attractive.
DDP still has his “Rock and Roll Part Two” inspired entrance music here, probably because Gary Glitter has more pressing things on his mind than suing the WWE Network these days. Booty Man was a pretty rubbish attempt at recreating the popularity the Beefcake character had enjoyed, although it did predate Billy Gunn’s “A$$ Man” gimmick by a few years. DDP wasn’t quite at his peak as an in-ring worker here, but he could have a fun match with someone good, as he’d proven in the series with Mero. Booty Man was never an amazing worker, but he was good enough that he was able to have some decent matches as Beefcake due to the act being over.
DDP to his credit is working super hard here, practically wrestling himself at some points and taking all kinds of big wacky bumps in an effort to get this match over. It kind of works too, as pockets of the crowd enjoy watching him get a kicking and seem to be into Booty Man’s butt wiggling and generic 80’s babyface offence. DDP’s stooging almost borders on the ridiculous at certain points, but for the most part it works. Indeed DDP was working way harder than most others would in this sort of match and storyline, as he even has unkempt hair and really generic wrestling gear to sell that he’s now broke due to Kimberly getting the Bingo money back.
The shine seems to go on forever and, when they finally do the cut off of Booty Man missing a running cross body, they have to do the spot twice as Booty Man gets it wrong the first time around. This match has been “house show special” all the way, with the long shine and DDP doing cheap heat tactics like putting his feet on the ropes whilst having a chin lock applied and yelling insults at the crowd during the heat. It actually kind of works for the people in the building, but it’s not an especially exciting match that feels worthy of being on pay per view. Kimberly comes down to support Booty Man and DDP stupidly lays a smooch on her whilst in control of the match, which allows Booty Man to catch him with a High Knee (People complain about that one, but I actually think it’s a relatively humorous pun) and that’s enough to give Booty Man the three count.
WINNER: THE BOOTY MAN
Kind of boring in places but DDP busted his backside out there to try and have a good match, and I can respect that
Booty Man kisses Kimberly following the match and she sells it like she’s head over heels, although no one’s buying it. That being said, she really was with DDP at the time, so maybe she had certain quirks when it came to men?
Mean Gene is with Jimmy Hart and Lex Luger. The story at the time was that Luger was a heel teaming with babyface Sting, but Hart says he won’t be managing Luger anymore following tonight. Luger wishes Sting luck later, but can he be trusted?
Winner Gets A World Title Shot On Nitro
The Giant w/ Jimmy Hart Vs Giant Haystacks
This show is almost like an ITV World of Sport reunion show or something. I have to say, seeing Ric Flair when he could still go trying to get a match out of a completely finished Giant Haystacks in 1996 would have been genuinely fascinating. This was pretty much their way of ending the Haystacks experiment, as they have a mostly awful slug fest, aside from one very nice bump to the floor from Giant, and then Giant puts Haystacks away clean with a leg drop to mock Hogan.
WINNER: THE GIANT
Bad match that they thankfully kept short. Such a shame to see Haystacks reduced to this when he used to be a solid worker for a guy his size
Lee Marshall has a promo with Sting and Booker T. They are teaming tonight because Luger got entered into the Main Event, so Booker is stepping in to tag with Sting under the understanding that it will lead to Harlem Heat getting a Title shot at Sting and Luger’s tag belts.
Chicago Street Fight
The Road Warriors Vs Sting and Booker T
This match is pretty infamous for being super long, clocking in at roughly half an hour, but let’s see if it can at least hold my attention for the entirety of that run time. I do wonder if the reason it is so long is because a match earlier in the night went short or if this was always the plan to have them out there for so long. The actual brawling itself is mostly fine, with everyone’s punches and kicks looking how they should and everything mostly making sense. Booker holds his own and doesn’t really look out of place in this company, which is definitely a good thing as it suggested he may have more to bring to the table going forward.
I suppose one problem with doing such a long brawl is that it trivialises some spots because by necessity the person on the receiving end needs to get back up pretty quickly so that the match can keep going. For instance, everyone gets hit with a chair at one stage but the shots have to be shrugged off pretty sharpish so the fight can go on. I personally think a better way to do it would be to have one or two guys take a big move or weapon shot and sell outside the ring for a bit leaving the remaining two or three guys to go at it in the ring, with guys swapping out as required. This would give guys a chance to catch a breather and would also allow the bigger moments to have more of an impact.
I’ll be honest, I don’t hate this match. Yeah, shaving off 10-15 minutes would have definitely been preferable and would make it a better watch, but it’s a pretty cromulent brawl all things considered. The crowd mostly sticks with it too, so it kind of achieves what it sets out to achieve. I’m not sure I’d ever want to watch it again, but I’ve seen worse and the match does at least have some genuine star power in it, which in-turn gives Booker a bit of a rub due to hanging with them all in a feature match. Hawk is the only guy who I think has a less than satisfactory performance, due to his refusal to really sell anything, but Animal and Sting are game and Booker is working hard, so they kind of make up for Hawk’s stubbornness.
One of the sillier moments in the match comes when Sting heads to the back and returns with some brooms to use as weapons, but the resulting shots have so much air on them that Tony Hawk could execute a 900. You can tell at this stage that the guys are getting tired and it’s probably time to take it home. Booker actually looks like he’s going to leave and heads backstage, with Animal following him. As they fight backstage, Lex Luger is admiring himself in a mirror and they bump into him. This sends Luger flying into a rage and leads to he, Booker and Stevie Ray laying Animal out and handcuffing him to something backstage. Booker and Stevie head back down to the ring, where Stevie hits Hawk with a chair and Booker sneaks the pin for three.
WINNERS: STING & BOOKER T
Too long, but not awful
Sting confirms to Booker post-match that The Heat will indeed now get a Title shot thanks to this. I believe they eventually did and won the belts in the summer.
Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Meng, Barbarian, Lex Luger, Kevin Sullivan, Zeus and The Ultimate Solution Vs Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage
Ultimate Solution is a guy called Jeep Swenson who was originally supposed to be called The Final Solution until WCW was clued in that this might be a tad offensive. I’m sure whichever Harris Brother has questionable tattoos thought it was a great idea though! The idea here is that we have three cages stacked on top of one another. Hogan and Savage will start in the top cage and will have to fight their way down each level to the bottom cage, at which point it becomes pin or submission to win. The heels can defeat them prior to that though and different heels are stationed in different sections of the cage.
Flair and Anderson start out in cage one, with Flair having his iconic green trunks with yellow knee pads and boots look going on. Both he and Anderson seem really out of place in such a silly match. Apparently Brian Pillman was supposed to be in this one too, but he got wind of Hogan wanting to pin him and decided not to take part. Having this many guys and three cages kind of telegraphs the fact that this one isn’t going to end in cage one, which makes the action feel a little bit anti-climactic. It’s not especially bad or anything because all four guys are capable of having a passable brawl in a cage, but it’s hardly classic action.
Hogan and Savage chuck white powder at the Horsemen (Which was something they were probably used to if the stories of them partying are true) and that allows them to escape down a trap door to cage two before the thing upstairs can get its hands on them. Meng, Barbarian, Luger and Sullivan are waiting for them down there, and OSW Review has pretty much ruined Lex Luger matches for me now after pointing out his ridiculous yelps when he sells. Judging by the circular lights on the cage wall, it looks like The Mysterons have shown up to take part in this also. BUT WHOSE SIDE ARE THEY ON?!?! Hogan manages to trap Meng and Barbarian in one section of cage two and then tries to quite literally murder Sullivan by chucking him off the scaffold next to the cages down to the floor. Maybe he’d just completed Tekken with Kazuya and fancied recreating his ending FMV?
The fight spills out of the Doomsday Cage entirely and we get a section where Savage, Hogan, Luger and Sullivan all brawl around the regular ring (The Doomsday Cage is set off to the side of the entrance area) for a bit. The crowd doesn’t really seem to be following this. Either that or they don’t care, which wouldn’t be unreasonable really. I mean, it’s not like the wrestling itself has been awful here, but it’s just a very odd match that doesn’t really have a proper focus. Brawling all over the building hasn’t helped with that. Rule #1 of trying to make a big cage structure look fearsome is that it shouldn’t be easy to escape. Look at the hassle Shawn and Taker had to go to in order to fight outside in the original Hell in a Cell match for instance.
Hogan and Savage against Flair, Anderson and Sullivan in a regular 2 on 3 handicap tag match would have not only been less confusing but also likely a better match to boot. Zeus and Ultimate Solution finally show up once Hogan and Savage have things well in control, and drag them into the third cage to start working them over. The crowd actually chants for Hogan at this stage, which suggests they actually see the two big blokes as a threat and thus the match finally has some stakes. This bit is positively awful from a wrestling perspective, as neither Zeus nor Solution seem to know how to work a lick.
Thankfully Flair and Anderson come back into the ring and are able to direct them a bit, which causes things to pick up slightly. Things do indeed look bleak for our heroes. Will the Horsemen ride victoriously into the sunset? Will Kevin Sullivan find a comb over do that finally works for him? Will Zeus’ promising acting career eventually lead to him snagging a cameo in one of the all-time most popular super hero flicks? Is Ultimate Solution the result of a genetic experiment where some mad Eastern European scientist tried to splice the genes of The Warlord and Mantaur? Will I finally find someone I can talk to about this coffee? Find out next week, same Hulkster Time, same Hulkster Channel!
So yeah, with the faces on the defensive we’ve reached…
Yes, we’ve reached that. However, in their moment of need, The Booty Man shows up to help the faces by bringing them some white powder and some frying pans. I could make a joke about that, but sometimes fruit hangs so low that it just feels cheap y’know? Anyway, with the help of the deadly frying pans, the faces manage to make a comeback. Lex Luger tries to help out the heels by bringing a loaded glove into the ring, only to accidentally clock Flair with it instead. Sadly Luger’s timing was all over the place there and it ended up looking like he clocked Flair deliberately due to it being practically impossible to have actually connected accidentally. The faces flee the cage at this stage, but then Savage remembers that there has to be a pin, so he scoots back in to pin Flair and then scuttles out again.
WINNERS: HOGAN & SAVAGE
How do I even rate that? It was a bizarre viewing experience that featured some truly silly stuff that didn’t work whatsoever, but it was also oddly transfixing due to just how bonkers it was. It was a bad wrestling match to be sure, but as a spectacle it certainly had something going on. The finish was horrific though, and having WCW Champ Ric Flair eat the pin when he was already a pretty weak Champion who wasn’t far away from getting squished by Giant was just baffling. I mean, Barbarian couldn’t have taken one for the team there?
The commentators close us out and send us to the end credits. I’ve just noticed that the music used on the credits is the same one used to open up the commercial VHS tape of IWA Japan’s King of the Deathmatch tournament.
Is it a Stinker?
I’m kind of reminded of something I heard Jim Cornette once say about Ole Anderson. Ole apparently said to him once “Cornette, I used to think you were a real dumb s—, but since then so many other dumb s—‘s have come along that you’ve moved up without having to do anything”
That’s how I feel about this show in some ways. So many other awful matches and shows have come and gone since that horrid Doomsday Cage match that it’s almost become better without actually getting better if that makes any sense?
The Doomsday Cage match is a really bad wrestling match that is also kind of perversely entertaining, but the rest of the card is just “there” really, so I’m not sure I could honestly call the show as a whole a Stinker. The opener is okay, Regal/Finlay is good, Parker/Madusa is fun for what it is and the Street Fight is overly long but not terrible either. It’s more of a middling show with a bad Main Event, rather than being a genuine Stinker in my opinion.
As always, please feel free to suggest possible Stinkers for me to review and I’ll try to get to them. I’ve got a special Halloween Stinker review planned for the 31st and then we’ll be taking a bit of a break whilst I go back to reviewing Main Events for November and December, but I’ve already got a growing list of your suggestions for more Stinkers once we enter the New Year, so rest assured they are taken note of.