Eddie Guerrero & Essa Rios vs. The Hardy Boyz (and other Dream Matches!)

What happened to former WWE Superstar Essa Rios

The before-time, when Lita was introduced to the WWF audience as ESSA RIOS’ manager!

Welcome back to more Dream Matches! This time it’s a bunch more WCW stuff, but I throw in more Los Cowboys! We start off with an early Hardy Boyz match as they take on Eddie Guerrero & Essa Rios! Then it’s Yuji Nagata on his Western excursion as he takes on WCCW star Chris Adams, popularizer of the Superkick! A FAT MAN STAND-OFF as the One Man Gang takes on P.N. News!

Then come see Los Cowboys (Silver King & El Texano) as they take on the guys from last week- Doug Furnas & Phil LaFon! But as masked heel wrestlers in Mexico! Then it’s popular late-stage WCW act 3-Count (Shane Helms, Shannon Moore & Evan Karagias) oppose three jobbesr… including ELIX SKIPPER AND SONNY SIAKI, who yeah- were late WCW guys! Late WCW is more like Early TNA sometimes. And finally, as I have some space to fill, here’s the debut of the legendary HORSHU in WCW, as he faces poor schmuck Joey Maggs on the D-show.

EDDIE GUERRERO & ESSA RIOS (w/ Chyna & Lita) vs. THE HARDY BOYZ (Matt & Jeff Hardy):
(WWF RAW, April 17th, 2000)
* Here’s one recommended by Steve Austrian, with strangeness abounding as Lita leads a team AGAINST the Hardy Boyz, because when the former Miss Congeniality of ECW debuted (and had the mandatory surgery), she was the manager of the former Aguila. They barely even tried with Essa Rios, as he barely ever got mic time or any big wins, and quietly vanished. He’s in white tights with red, while Lita’s in a red bodysuit with cut-outs instead of her iconic gear. Eddie, meanwhile, is studying for his GED in an angle I don’t remember, and wearing a “VaChyna” t-shirt. Jeff’s got a black shirt and Matt has his best “2000s club guy” velvety blue shirt on.

The Latinos attack to start, beating down Jeff and Eddie leapfrogs Rios into a dropkick. Eddie hits a leg lariat & backdrop suplex, then tosses Jeff out so Chyna can forearm smash him while Lawler is maybe having a BIT too much fun trying a “Latino Heat” accent on commentary. Rios hits some generic stuff and Eddie does his great slingshot senton, but Jeff catches him with a tilt-a-whirl slam and Matt cleans house until the Hardys hit a DOUBLE Eddie Bump and backdrop Rios to the floor in another big landing. Jeff pescados Rios and they set up the Swanton Bomb, but Chyna hits the apron and shoves Jeff balls-first onto the top rope. Matt has a go, but Eddie suckers him into Essa’s moonsault press, and then LAUNCHES Rios in a ridiculous tope con hilo over the post! Huge bumps here tonight. Eddie sets up Matt for LITA to try a moonsault… but she just hits him! Like, nobody even moved- JR just passes this off as a miss and Matt boots Lita on the ass to remove her, then hits the Twist of Fate… for the win (4:42)! Come from behind by the Hardys! Two women cheating and they still won! Chyna is enraged about the loss, blaming Rios, so she boots and powerbombs him to crush the guy.

Really rapid-fire, impressive outing from all the guys- minimal selling and just hauling ass to impress people. Rios had two insane flips over the top and to the floor here, and really should have earned SOME credit instead of just being a footnote in history, as his flying was by far the most impressive. But you could see Eddie directing traffic and controlling things, nearly in the ring the whole time. The ending was kinda funny (like, Eddie just flat-out stood in the way and Lita aimed right for him) but as JR said, “Lita’s aim was off!” and that set up the Boyz to win with the deck stacked against them.

Rating: **3/4 (solid short match- insane flying moves and a good spotfest)

(WCW Saturday Night, Feb. 14th, 1998)
* Few things are more “WCW” than a cavernous midcard that can have a washed-up WCCW guy take on the future Ace of New Japan on a meaningless weekend syndicated TV show. So here we have Nagata, on his excursion before returning to his mega-push in NJPW, taking on Chris Adams, formerly a WCCW Champion and the man who popularized the Superkick… but now in his early 40s and really offering nothing but a warm body. Onoo talks s--- about England (“some island up north”) and writes off Adams, to which Lee Marshall chides him. Nagata’s in black trunks & Adams is in Union Jack ones. Both guys have nearly the same gear, height & physique, making this look like a weird mirror match.

Adams wins a wristlock challenge with a flipover move, but Nagata goes to the eyes and heels it up- he calls a spot and puts his head down, earning a belly-to-belly for two. But Onoo trips him up after a forearm, and Nagata exploders him for two. He throws some generic stuff then some corner kicks and the Nash Choke, but gets reprimanded and eats forearms from Adams- they each do ankle-picks and choke each other out, but Nagata knees the corner and eats a backdrop hold for two (Adams can’t maintain a bridge so it looks weird). Adams gets a piledriver two and just lays on Nagata and forearms the back of his neck like crazy (a complete “the ref has to stop this or it’s a fatality” move in MMA), but Onoo draws the ref so Glacier (now a heel, accusing Adams of stealing his finisher) can run in and do the Cryonic Kick to the back of the head (hilariously-delicately putting his foot against Chris’s neck and holding it there for a second to make it clear there’s no force being used), and Nagata slaps on the Nagata Lock (figure-four but from like, a different side and pulling on the extended foot) for the win (4:41).

This wasn’t bad for the most part until the ending- both guys were good technical wrestlers, Yuji could fight heel, and Adams tossed out interesting forearms and some decent stuff. Hardly outstanding, but much better than the usual 5-minute Saturday Night nonsense.

Rating: **1/4 (fine enough little TV match)

THE ONE MAN GANG (w/ The Diabolical Kevin Sullivan) vs. P.N. NEWS:
(WCW, Aug. 18th 1991)
* Hahahahaah NICE. So Akeem bailed on the WWF around this time, and ended up in WCW, where he gets to have a FAT MAN STAND-OFF with the beloved PN News, seen here wearing his way-too-tight orange unitard with “YO BABY YO BABY YO” written around it. Someone in the comments section calls out the two black kids in the front row who are CLEARLY unimpressed with the way in which his bars are spat. Gang is seen wearing dark maroon tights and a really tight black shirt- why are both of these dudes wearing clothes too small? Is WCW catering just THAT GOOD? They’re billed as within 10 lbs. of each other, but Gang is a LOT taller, if a bit less rotund. Sullivan, with his messy eyeshadow and wild hair, has “Indie League B-------” written all over him.

Gang chokes away with his jacket to start, but News blocks a punch and throws some embarrassingly-bad ones of his own. Gang is not only good enough to sell that s---, but takes a FACEPLANT off a belly-bomb in the corner! More horrible punches and belly-bumps follow, but Gang goes to the eyes and punches, kicks & chokes. Sullivan adds one of his own and he & Gang start exchanging hand-signals that crack up Tony Schiavone, and Gang starts making ridiculous faces while News starts Hulking Up, but tosses him and hits a clothesline on the floor. Chokes & headbutts follow another Sullivan shot, but News finally dodges an avalanche and hits a dropkick (I mean, sorta). News uses his own avalanche, but runs into a boot on the second one and the 747 Splash… misses! But News goes up and misses his OWN splash, coming off the top rope! Both guys go for my favorite spot of all- the Fat Guy Mutual Shoulderblock, but BOTH sell, and tumble out of the ring! Both can barely get up, but News beats Gang to the ring by half a second, winning by Count-Out at (7:17). booooooooooooooo!!! But Gang is my hero for clotheslining him after the bell and hitting the 747 Splash TWICE!

Actually not that bad! I mean, I was expecting a total disaster, but the Gang kind of did a decent job controlling the match without letting it get too sloppy or stupid and boring. Given how bad News was, Gang wisely kept all his offense to a minimum so even HE couldn’t screw it up, much as it looks weird to see Gang be all spritely and quick with his stuff. Not bad with all the splash finisher attempts, but the finish was a bit disappointing.

Rating: ** (nowhere near the disaster one would expect)

LOW COWBOYS (Silver King & El Texano) vs. LOS CAN-AM EXPRESS (Doug Furnas & Dan Kroffat):
(UWA, July 4th 1992)
* More Los Cowboys! This time against Furnas & Kroffat (aka Phil LaFon) of all teams! I didn’t even realize they’d moved through Mexico, but I guess it makes sense for a mostly international duo. Both teams dress in duplicated costumes, making play by play a little tricky, but thankfully Furnas is super-swole. The Can-Ams are in red tights and masks (??), while Los Cowboys are in blue tights.

FALL UNO: It’s a brawl immediately to start, Kroffat hitting a running powerslam for two on SK. Standing side kick & DDT work him over while they double-team him- he tries punches to come back, but gets kneed in the balls by Kroffat, who taunts the crowd with a little dance. Another punch comeback is stopped by one of the refs, prolonging the assault, and Furnas hits a powerslam- Texano saves. He’s now legal, but the same ref straight up GRABS him, and so Furnas catches him and the Can-Ams hit a Flying Hart Attack for the three. Lariat to the back of the head into a Tiger Driver easily finishes Silver King (4:17).

FALL SEGUNDO: The Can-Ams double-shoulderblock Texano down, and SK gets into it with the heel ref, who actually shoves him straight out of the ring! Texano gets clobbered a bit, but comes back repeatedly, always barely missing the tag while the heels keep getting to double-team him. Finally he reverses a suplex and SK runs in with clotheslines for everyone, then ducks a double-team and dropkicks them both down- Texano runs in for the same! Hey, Texano is bleeding. SK throws Furnas to the floor for a beating, then breaks up a pin in the ring. Los Cowboys hit a double-hiptoss then Furnas clotheslines his partner by mistake, and Texano flies in with a missile dropkick while SK hits a Northern Lights Suplex for stereo pins at (4:55).

FALL TERCERA: Silver King wins a couple exchanges with Kroffat, then dropkicks him into Furnas. Furnas has better luck, dodging a spinkick, but eats a facecrusher. Furnas gets double-teamed but manages a press slam for two on Texano, but takes an enzuigiri and is taken down. But Kroffat comes in to break that up, only to end up double-teamed himself for a minute or two, taking a lot of stuff- Furnas breaks up a camel clutch and they run the Cowboys into each other, but Furnas goes over the top and Kroffat takes an assisted sunset flip… for two! They whip him to the ropes but Furnas grabs him so they whiff dropkicks, and he covers both guys for two. A Cowboy goes into Furnas but Kroffat hits the Hurricanrana for two and gets knocked to the floor. The Cowboys tease dives with the Tiger Feint and SK pescados out, but is caught and whipped into the post by both guys- this leaves Texano alone, but he gets an inside cradle off a double-team for two. Kroffat comes off the middle rop and nails Furnas- Texano Ranas him, but Kroffat rolls through to pin him- SK tries a victory roll on Furnas, but is himself rolled up and that’s that at (6:38). The Can-Am Express wins!

Better than the last lucha thing I reviewed, and the falls were quick and well-wrestled. Again, though it’s that weird lucha thing where all basic moves are deadly and can score falls, so guys are jobbing to weak s--- all the time. It’s a bit to get used to. It was fun seeing repeated double-teams and rapid tags throughout, though, as 14 minutes of wrestling blows by and nobody rests. Kroffat in particular could always be counted on for great moves and double-teams, and Los Cowboys matched him on that front. Interesting how we had stereo pins in the middle fall, and nearly the same in the third, but the heels rolled through the Cowboys’ moves and tagged them. Apparenly the next month the Can-Ams lose a Hair vs. Masks match and unmask.

Rating: ***1/4 (pretty good for the lucha-style tag matches I have trouble registering properly!)

3-COUNT (Evan Karagias & Shannon Moore) vs. SONNY SIAKI, ELIX SKIPPER & CHUCK COATES:
(WCW Saturday Night, March 18th 2000)
* Yes, the “wait, huh?” of late-stage WCW happens once again, as SONNY SIAKI turns up. Looking into it, he was actually a Power Plant grad! Which explains why he was never any good! And he’s teamed up with fellow early TNA guy Elix, plus a flabby jobber in Chuck Coates, who debuted in like 1989 and was mostly a WCW enhancement guy (looks like he used to be ‘roided at some point, but certainly not here!). Elix & Siaki are in black shorts, while Coates is in the “fat guy at the pool” black shirt and the most hilariously tiny jorts ever. And their opponents are 3-Count, one of the greatest and most timely gimmick concepts ever- the “Boy Band Wrestlers” as they throw three pretty boys into a dancing stable and do “Freebird Rules” matches with them. However, this night it’s just two guys and Shane Helms isn’t here by way of a broken nose or something.

Coates actually gets some shine from Shannon, hitting a cross-body out of the corner and a wheelbarrow slam onto the ropes. Then Siaki makes him do the Eddie Bump and spinebusters him for two, leading to Elix’s slingshot splash for the same. Overdrive (ugh) gets two. Of course Larry Z is a fan of that move. Though he’s right in that Elix already has the perfect balance for a wrestler. Moore FINALLY makes a comeback, getting his feet up in the corner and hitting a spinning heel kick, then an assisted Flying Move/Front Suplex plasters the rookie. Powerslam & hiptossing Moore onto Elix get two-counts, then a missile dropkick/Russian legsweep and Moore’s slingshot senton stay on him. Their timing is a bit “off” here, with both guys kind of doing that “scoot back and forth because they don’t know what move to do yet, but want to do it quickly”. Elix catches Moore with a flapjack and Coates hits a tilt-a-whirl slam- Karagias runs in to break up the pin, setting off a donnybrook- Siaki quickly gets backdropped to the floor, and while Evan/Elix brawl, Moore sneaks up behind Coates with a sleeperhold-drop slam and gets the pin at (5:01).

Pretty fast-paced match with lots of double-teaming, with Coates & Skipper in particular looking like they wanted pushes, and Moorer largely acting like a tackling dummy (probably because Evan’s no good). But 3-Count managed to do an “All Double-Team Moves” spurt of offense and caught the jobbers, especially with Sonny being kinda useless strategically.

Rating: *3/4 (pretty decent for guys just running through a ton of moves until one team wins)

(WCW Saturday Night, Nov. 15th 1997)
* Oh man, it’s the DEBUT of Horshu! We’re so lucky! He’s already roided to the gills as Tony puts over his arms & size, and he’s up against poor perennial jobber Joey Maggs. Funnily enough, Horshu is using the theme Akira Hokuto & Bull Nakano did in WCW. Maggs is extra-doughy, in ideal jobber shape.

Maggs avoids the big rookie to start, but Horshu soon catches him with a clothesline and beats him up. Corner whip & backdrop suplex get two, but Joey catches him and engages in some jobber-fu (single-leg trip! punches! hiptoss!), schoolboying him for two. But he runs into an elbow and Horshu catches him with a second-rope flying shoulderblock for the three at (3:22).

Rating: 1/4* (super-basic jobber match with a rookie who was very stiff and couldn’t do much. Maggs was game, but it was pretty short)