Jumping back from Japan to the US and the very weird year that WCW had in 1991 with their next big thing not getting over as well as they hoped, their real biggest star leaving the company, an old booker returning with new, but not good, ideas, but leading to a very good first half of 1992. I’ll be looking at each week available to me, but it makes sense to start just after Starrcade 1990, so here we are.
This is a two hour show, but sans commercials it’s under an hour and a half.
Hosts/commentators are Jim Ross and Bob Caudle, the latter of whom looks like an old, old man but is still a decade younger than JR is now as an AEW commentator.
Beautiful Bobby vs. The Italian Stallion
Bobby is the only remaining member of the Midnight Express at this point, doing a tweener deal until a short babyface run as TV champion in a few months. He’s working somewhat clean, but not playing to the crowd. Jim’s doing more to put over Stallion than Bobby at this point between spaghetti eating and amateur wrestling. Bobby gets Sweet Home, Alabama out of nowhere, but Stallion comes back and comes off the top with a double axehandle for two. Norman wanders out dressed as Santa to throw toys off and annoys Bobby into getting distracted, so when he goes out to take it up with him Norman decks him. Who is this match designed to get over? The jobber or the goof? Back in, Bobby just can’t get anything going at all until he gets a clothesline out of nowhere, then takes out Stallion for a camera closeup punch. Bob pushes the Christmas night at the Omni show, showing it wasn’t just a Bill Watts initiative. Stallion comes back with a powerslam and dropkick, but drops his head for a neckbreaker and Bobby gets the three. Way too long with too much focus on the jobber and not the guy being pushed. At least you get to hear Chase.
At this point, I’ve decided that my rating system is going to be either The Greatest… (as in “The greatest night in the history of our sport”), meaning good, or Because WCW, meaning bad, and obviously the match above is going to be Because WCW.
Promo with Michael Wallstreet and Alexandra York, with Tommy Rich the target. The computer says Wildfire’s going down in under six minutes.
Rick Steiner vs. Barry Horowitz
Never got half of a tag team, never mind half of the tag team champions (US), having random singles matches. Barry interrupts Rick and Norman’s playtime, so gets stiffed in return. Quick belly-to-belly off the top after no selling some headbutts, with Norman sitting on top for the weight assist. At least it was quick. The Greatest… Bob suggests Barry might sleep through Christmas after that. Yeah, Bob, about Barry…
Paul E Dangerously and his mullet patronisingly speaks to Rick after the match when the Freebirds come out. They wanted both Steiners, so Michael Hayes challenges Rick to a captain’s match for a title shot after getting a knock in on the departed Nasty Boys. Rick’s up for it, so that’ll be later in the show.
Starrcade Report – Gordon Solie speaks from minutes after the event. Last few seconds of the Steiners winning the tag team tournament, Lex Luger regaining the US title in a famously screwy finish, then Sting vanquishing the Flair Scorpion, but taking a beating from the Horsemen while Jack Victory and Dave Sheldon struggle to hold Dick the Bruiser back, who was really trying to break loose from them.
Brian Pillman vs. Jim Corbett
Rare pink for Pillman. Corbett sets Pillman up for what looks like a great charge through the ropes, but peters out at the end, then Pill dropkicks him in the face. Again, the jobber is getting way more than he should, but that was a WCW thing. Brian gets some of his stiff chops in and an elbow. Jim pushes the following week with Tom Zenk challenging Arn Anderson live on TV for the TV title. Air Pillman finishes after a spin kick. The Greatest…
Missy Hyatt previews the Main Event, which is going to feature two rematches from Starrcade, namely Terry Taylor vs. Michael Wallstreet and the Z-Man vs. Bobby Eaton, which makes you question why they put those matches on PPV to begin with.
Sid Vicious vs. Scott Sandlin
Sandlin is a foot shorter and half the size of Sid, so this should be good. Sid gets annoyed with Norman too and kisses him off. Helicopter slam to start, followed promptly by the powerbomb. Nobody destroyed little guys better than Sid. The Greatest… Sid then rams Norman into the post to fuck him off, with one concerned kid running down to check on him, then picking up an errant toy out of his sack and immediately changing mood!
The Motor City Madman and the Big Cat vs. Tim Horner and Allen Iron Eagle
JOE GOMEZ! The Greatest… I’m actually surprised the heels are still around at this point after getting squashed by the one night only reunited Skyscrapers at Starrcade. Apparently Allen was only 19 here, although he looks older. I believe the legend with him was that he was the WCW Florida hookup for whatever you wanted, regardless of whether it was birds, booze or blow, so everyone loved him. The faces do hold their own for a bit, but the boring bastard heels pound the back and Big Cat finishes Allen with a torture rack, which he almost drops the guy from before he’s done. Because WCW.
Promo with Lex Luger in his typical insincere manner while eyeing cue cards every other words, ahead of his match teaming with El Gigante against Madman and Cat at the Omni in a match that would break the Meltzer scale.
Clips from Starrcade of Arn and Barry against Doom, with Barry looking like a gay biker. I’d forgotten that they’d actually tried to account for Ric Flair’s absence by suggesting Barry was replacing him after Doom and their goons had beaten him up when Teddy Long drove him to the middle of nowhere as his chauffeur for the day. Another crappy Starrcade finish with a double pin. The clips make this look decent and intense, but the better Horsemen/Doom match was at Halloween Havoc.
WrestleWar ’91 commercial, with Michael Hayes playing Uncle Sam for some reason.
Ricky Morton vs. Lt. James Earl Wright
Wright, better known as Dale Veasey, is the lesser known half of the State Patrol. He complains a hair pull despite having a buzz cut. Ricky works the arm while Jim and Bob talk about anything other than the match. Morton misses a shoulder charge to the post as he seemingly also missed the memo about just rolling over the jobbers. Sunset flip out of nowhere for the win. Nothing bad, nothing good. Because WCW.
The Z-Man vs. Dutch Mantel
I know he was liked by the guys, but I never liked ring announcer Rhubarb Jones and his weird intonations. Bit of a contrast in bodies with these two. Zenk is like a mini Lex Luger while Dutch is the hairiest wrestler who ever lived. Apparently the only parts of him he shaved were his sides so it didn’t irritate guys he put into headlocks and the backs of his hands and wrists for his tape. Bob says Dutch isn’t called the Dirty Dutchman just because he doesn’t take a bath, although that’s probably true too. So, Dutch rakes the eyes to prove how dirty he is and gets a short clothesline for two. Rope-assisted chinlock, although I’ve no idea how arbitrarily draping a foot on it really helps. Z-Man elbows out and gets a clotheslines, but whiffs on a dropkick. Dutch gets frisky and goes for his own one and misses too, then Zenk finishes with a missile dropkick for the win. It was fine, I don’t mind it being a few minutes of perfunctory stuff if it’s at least two stars. The Greatest…
Paul E talks to Z-Man regarding his 45 straight wins (didn’t he lose to Bobby at Starrcade?) and challenging Arn next week. Zenk thinks he can upset the Enforcer, but Arn and his red jacket come out to dispute that. Arn cuts his usually awesome promo about being an overachiever… As good a heel as he was, Arn could’ve killed it in the modern era as a babyface, even in the Attitude Era.
The Master Blasters vs. Brett Wayne and Joe Barrett
Oh shit! This is the second iteration of the Blasters, with Blade (Big Al Greene) replacing Iron. Brett Wayne is Buzz Sawyer’s younger brother, way overweight by this point. Big Sexy Steel comes in and misses an elbow and just about catches Barrett off the top, then some stiff (as in movement, not force) forearms. That Nash got as decent as he did is amazing given how bad he was. Double shoulderblocks finish Barrett. Because WCW. Jim describes them as “rough around the edges”, which history has told us is code for “absolute shit”.
Junk Yard Dog vs. Joe Cazana
Dog is obese too at this point, with a massive gut. Talk about a guy that went from one of the biggest stars to washed up in record time. Ross calls Cazana Joe Barrett. Cazana is actually the grandson of Knoxville promoter John Cazana. Update on Norman: he’s very dizzy and not making much sense, which sounds like normal for him. More JR-ese: “Dog moves at a very methodical pace”, which reads as “He’s a slug”. Dog eschews the Thump for a Russian legsweep, which is probably because it was the only bump he fancied taking. Because WCW.
World Championship Report – Gordon Solie recaps the Starrcade main event again. In typical WCW style, they couldn’t even get all of the fake Black Scorpions the same bodysuit or gear. Then we see Flair emerging from the pod, obviously Flair given the stance and nose, although Ross and Dangerously play dumb for as long as they can. Gordon talks about how Sting is physically and emotionally exhausted at this point, which Sting confirms in a promo despite coming out the winner. Flair sounds more confident, managing to talk off the Scorpion as a tactic he used, before rededicating himself to getting the belt back. If you listened to the two, you knew which one was going to be coming out on top easily.
Tommy Rich vs. Michael Wallstreet
Jim pretty much confirms on commentary that Wallstreet’s music is a Dallas ripoff. The clock is ticking to confirm whether the computer prediction is correct. For the unaware, Captain Mike Rotunda hooked up with computer genius Alexandra York after inheriting a fortune and was using futuristic computer technology to analyse opponents and calculate a strategy for success against them. Ultimately, the computer was only really useful for whacking people with. Rich gets a neckbreaker three minutes in and a small package for two. Got to say, the timer does introduce a level of tension not normally inherent in Mike Rotunda matches. Rich with a dropkick, but he gets poked in the eyes and they bounce off each other. Rich gets a sunset flip, but Wallstreet sits down and holds the ropes for the pin. So, the computer was right. Actually not a bad match. The Greatest…
Got to mention the bumper between breaks, suggesting that people going to holiday parties don’t drink and drive, as if all the wrestlers on this show weren’t stoned or loaded to some degree.
Michael Hayes vs. Rick Steiner
Hayes is playing nice, as insincere as ever. Rick bites his arse to establish the position he’s working out of. Did you know that you can get tickets to the Omni show from Turtles Records and Coconut? Bob will tell you. Rick continues the arse biting as much as possible when Hayes turns his back. Norman update: he’s going to the hospital. Way too much focus on him, as I don’t think he was around in 1991, so I guess they were writing him out. Rick turns a Hayes leapfrog into a powerslam and Jimmy Garvin comes out for moral support. His advice? Get into the airline pilot profession rather than a Vince McMahon stooge for life, it’s less stressful. Actually, it’s punch him in the nose, hit him in the stomach, “and stuff like that”. Rick gets a couple of slams in and sets Michael up for the belly to belly off the top, but Hayes gets his one good move, the left of death in, to turn the tide. Bulldog, which was one of his many clunky ones, although the following DDT isn’t that bad. Rick fights back with Steinerlines and sets up the finish, at which point Jimmy tosses a board into Rick. Rick grabs it, then Hayes jumps on the mat like he’s been hit with it, and the referee guesses he has and calls it a DQ win for Hayes to give him and Garvin a US tag team title shot. Garvin yucks it up so Rick hits him with it instead to pay off that gag. Can’t complain, wasn’t half as bad as it could’ve been. The Greatest…
Jim and Bob sign off, but Paul E walks on to complain about no Danger Zone on the Main Event tomorrow. Jim tells him, presciently, to go and complain to his mom and dad about it.
Melting it down: Absolutely fine show, very much cut of the cloth that I would expect from the time. It’s going to be fun to go through these and see who pops up, especially knowing a massive forgotten flop is imminent.