Mike Reviews – WCW Uncensored 1999 (14th March 1999)

Happy Uncensored Saturday Everyone!

This was the first WCW tape I ever owned, as I got it as a Christmas present in 1999. I remember reading a lot about it at the time in the wrestling mags though, as it was the first time in a while we actually got a proper release of a WCW pay per view on a commercial tape over here in the UK.

The Main Event on this one is Ric Flair Vs Hollywood Hogan in a cage. If Flair wins then he gets to become WCW president for life. If Hogan wins then Flair’s career is done. I’m watching the Warner Home Video version of this, which means I don’t have to bother with dubbed music, although the general picture and sound quality isn’t on par with the version on Peacock/WWE Network.

The event is emanating from Louisville, Kentucky on the 14th of March 1999

Calling the action are Tony Schiavone, Mikey Tenay and Bobby Heenan

Opening Match
WCW Cruiserweight Title
Champ: Billy Kidman Vs Mikey Whipwreck

Mikey was making his WCW debut here, even though he seemed like a strange pickup for WCW at the time. Bobby Heenan immediately decides to come up with a shtick for him, constantly mispronouncing his surname. People got annoyed about this at the time but apparently Mikey was cool with it as he knew Heenan wasn’t doing it to bag on him but rather have a running gag that would help fans remember Mikey.

Heenan gets another great line in at one stage when he asks Tony “Do you think Mikey was his parents little whippersnapper when he was young?” to which Tony replies “I’m sure he was, weren’t we all?” to which Heenan, sharp as a tack, replies “No I never knew his parents”. Man, when Bobby was on he was still the man, even as WCW hit the iceberg.

They have a really good match here, with Mikey keeping up with Kidman and actually doing a good job working as a Heel, which wasn’t something he’d done a lot of prior to this stage in his career. The crowd is really into the action too, and it seems to really jazz both guys up to put even more effort in. Mikey does a lot of nice high-flying moves and looks like a pretty polished worker. Outside of his terrible indie-riffic ring gear, Mikey doesn’t look remotely out of place for a major company from an in-ring perspective.

They tell a good story of Mikey almost taking Kidman unawares due to having him scouted and Kidman not really knowing what to do with the new guy, thus allowing Mikey to get a lot of offence and Kidman having to up his game in order to put the debutant away. Kidman teases going up for the Shooting Star Press a couple of times, but Mikey is able to fight it off a couple of times, building anticipation for when Kidman finally gets it.

There’s even a bit where they fight outside of the ring and Mikey takes a Cactus Jack like tumble over the railing into the front row when Kidman dodges his flying cannonball attack. Mikey gets a fantastic clothesline off the top rope back inside the ring at one stage, with it leading to a nicely executed near fall. They trade near falls off of that, with the crowd continuing to be into the action. Mikey gets an insane back drop driver off the second rope at one stage, which looked fantastic and was something I don’t think he used that often. Mikey makes the ultimate mistake of trying to powerbomb Kidman though, and you know the rest from there.

WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: KIDMAN
RATING: ***3/4

This was a really good opener, with Mikey looking like he belonged and the crowd being into Kidman. It was an excellent way to start the show hot

In a very WCW moment, Mikey was apparently talking with Bret Hart the day after this match, where Bret complemented Mikey on having one of the best matches on the show. When Mikey said he hoped it would lead to something, Bret replied with “yeah, you’re probably f—ed” because he knew how messed up WCW was at the time.

We get a video package of the cage being made.

Match Two
Harlem Street Fight
Winner becomes the leader of nWo Hollywood
Vincent Vs Stevie Ray

The Hollywood faction was basically the putty patrol for the Wolfpac at this stage, so being the leader wasn’t much of an award in all honesty. Interestingly Vincent actually gets the real nWo music here as opposed to the B-Team music that he used to normally get.

Neither of these guys are really that good, but sticking them in a brawl like this is probably the best chance you’d have of this match being watchable. They essentially have Stevie work as the de facto babyface, which is probably the best way of doing it, as unlike Vincent he at least has somewhat of a natural cool factor and charisma that can make up for his in-ring inadequacies.

Vincent gets pummelled from pillar to post for the most part here, and actually sells it well, leading to both men brawling out into the crowd where they happen to find an area of closed off seating. I’m not sure if those seats were just unsold or if they were using that part of the arena for production purposes. It was full in all of the areas surrounding it so I’m guessing it was the latter. According to Cagematch.net they’ve got nearly 16,000 people in there and the building does look pretty full.

We head back to the ring following that, which leads to both men actually trying to wrestle and the match quality drops as a result. Stevie does show some good fire at least though. Horace Hogan eventually runs down and throws a slapjack into the ring, although he says he doesn’t care who wins as he’s really the leader. Vincent gets the slapjack first, but his usual bungling leads to him failing to use it in time and Stevie ends up hitting the move called the Slapjack (basically a Pedigree) and that’s enough for three.

WINNER: STEVIE RAY
RATING: *1/2

I’m not sure that really solved anything in the storyline but it was a passable brawl until they got back into the ring and actually tried to wrestle

I have no idea how they resolved this storyline and I don’t care to find out

Match Three
Kevin Nash w/ Lex Luger and Miss Elizabeth Vs Rey Mysterio Jr

Nash had defeated Rey to take his mask at SuperBrawl IX but had agreed to put him over on an episode of Nitro to make it up to him. Rey has since beaten a couple of other big guys following this to do the Spike Dudley giant killer thing, but now it’s time to move him into the tag team and Cruiserweight ranks, so he’s here to get beaten by Nash again so that the feud can be ended.

Nash does give Rey a little bit of offence at least and the crowd is into the idea of Rey maybe pulling off another upset. Nash actually takes some pretty big bumps when you consider the size difference, and Rey of course bumps and sells fantastically when it’s his turn to do so. Rey without his mask had nowhere near the same level of star presence, but this more rap based gimmick wasn’t a bad idea for 1999, they just WCW’ed it by the time the summer came along and people got sick of it.

There is one notable moment that really doesn’t make sense, as Rey kicks Nash right in the Vinnie Vegas area but the ref just allows it. The ref could have at least done the “inner thigh” mime to explain why it wasn’t a DQ. They protect Rey in the finish, as Luger trips Rey whilst Nash distracts the ref and that leads to a Jack Knife from Nash for the three count (complete with tights pull from Nash)

WINNER: KEVIN NASH
RATING: **

Decent Big Vs Little match there, as they did quite a lot to protect Rey in defeat

In a very ironic moment, the match time for this bout just so happened to be 6:19

Spooky!

We get a video to hype up the Triangle match later on.

Match Four
Handicap Match
The Cat and Sonny Onoo Vs Jerry Flynn

This was an interminable feud between Cat and Flynn, with both men working martial artist gimmicks and Cat cutting off Flynn’s terrible rattail for cheap heat. Flynn actually looks better without it to be honest. This match is worked under tag rules, with Cat and Onoo having to tag in. The storyline is that Cat is trying to work Flynn over long enough that Onoo can come in and pick the bones, whilst Flynn is trying to get revenge for his hair.

Flynn does bust out a plancha to the floor at one stage onto the Heels, but it gets quickly shrugged off so that Cat and Onoo can cut him off and work some heat. The previously super-hot crowd is content to sit on their hands for this one, and it’s not like the wrestling is really that good either. Flynn does a good job selling at least, and they do the usual “manager is wrestling” cheap heat spots, with Onoo getting the odd shot in now and then.

Onoo is actually pretty entertaining when it comes to his facial expressions and cowardly manager mannerisms, but that’s about all he brings to this one. Cat could have an entertaining match if he was in there with a good worker and the crowd was into the story of the match, but the crowd doesn’t really care about this feud and Flynn is a middling worker at best. Flynn doesn’t even get a proper comeback, as he just whips Cat into Onoo and then pins Onoo following it.

WINNER: JERRY FLYNN
RATING: *1/2

Pretty meh match. The storyline wasn’t over and the wrestling itself was pretty dull

Video package to hype up the Tag Team Title match later.

Match Five
Raven’s Rules
Raven w/ Chastity Vs Bam Bam Bigelow Vs Hardcore Hak

These three guys had been brawling all over the place on the TV shows, so this match was set up to try and establish who the King of Hardcore was in WCW. This match will divide people, because it’s ultimately just three blokes clobbering one another with weapons. Some will find it entertaining and some will just think it’s a violent mess. Personally I enjoy it, mainly because the crowd is into it and all three guys are working hard in there.

The big downside is that the commentators treat it like a comedy break, which pretty much typecast the Hardcore division from this point onwards as a lower card sideshow, when it could have perhaps been a more serious division they could have used to treat the competitors within it as actual tough guys you could care about. The WWF did similar with their Hardcore division to a certain extent, but they never went as far with it as WCW did.

Hak in particular takes some pretty heavy duty bumps in this one, and actually spends most of the match selling whilst the other two guys take the lion’s share of the offence. Bammer is the most dominant guy in there, which makes sense as he had only just come off a feud with Goldberg. There is actually an “EC-Dub” chant from the crowd at one stage but the sound guys mute it out in an almost impressive display of spite. Even the WWF used to leave those in!

We of course get an I AM THE TABLE moment, because Maffew probably has kids he needs to put through college, with Bigelow trying to Super Bomb Hak through one, and when that doesn’t happen he crushes poor Hak with a splash off the second rope, which does finally succeed in causing the table to break. Sadly the big finish doesn’t really work, as Raven tapes Sandman’s hands together but the tape comes undone, thus making his eventual miraculous win ever so slightly less miraculous.

Bigelow sprays Chastity with a fire extinguisher to cause her to flee into a hamper before heading up for a Moonsault. She pops out with a fire extiniguisher of her own though, causing Bammer to fall through a table to take him out of commission. It looks like it is then Raven’s match to lose, at which point Chastity turns Heel on Raven by giving him a head-butt right in the Johnny Polo’s. Hak drapes an arm following that and that’s enough for three. Again, that would have been more last gasp and impressive if Hak still had his hands tied together.

WINNER: HARDCORE HAK
RATING: ***1/4

This was a chaotic mess, but in a good way if that makes sense?

Hak and Chastity leave together following that. I’m not sure what the storyline reason for Chastity’s turn was, and I’m not sure if that constitutes a turn for her, him or both of them.

The announce team kill some time whilst they clear the ring of all the weaponry. Heenan spends most of it annoying his two colleagues. Bobby really is “on” tonight and I’m here for it.

Match Six
Lumberjacks with Straps (Norman Smiley, Chris Adams, Prince Iaukea, Hugh Morrus, Kenny Kaos, Bobby Duncum Jr, Kendall Windham and Meng)
WCW Tag Team Titles
Champs: Curt Hennig and Barry Windham Vs Chris Benoit and Dean Malenko

Hennig and Windham used a leather belt to cheat Benoit and Malenko at SuperBrawl IX, so tonight they’ve got lumberjacks around the ring with belts of their own to supposedly ensure that doesn’t happen. Morrus, Windham and Duncum are clearly going to help out Hennig and Windham though, so Arn Anderson shows up with a strap of his own as a replacement for Chris Adams. I was going to make a gag about hoping Adams still got paid for the show, but he was probably on guaranteed money anyway.

This match is great, probably the last classic match that Windham in particular ever had, with the crowd loving the lumberjack gimmick and both teams playing their respective roles well. The Horsemen are mega over and the crowd is very much into the idea of them winning the belts. The Horsemen get a long babyface shine, which The Champs sell really well for, and the action is excellent, with Windham looking like the Windham of old for one more night.

Hennig eventually flings Benoit out to the floor so that the Heel lumberjacks can wear him out with the straps, leading to the cut off and Heel heat segment. Benoit of course sells that excellently, with Anderson doing a great job coaching him from ringside in an effort to get him back into the match. Seeing as this match is a bit of an old school tribute, we get the old double Heat segment as well, with The Horsemen getting a flurry leading into Malenko getting cheap shotted for some more heat.

Malenko sells that great also, with a fantastic spot where he stops himself getting low bridge by Windham, only for Hennig to clock him from behind so it ends up happening anyway. I’m a sucker for stuff like that. Windham gets a fantastic float-over vertical suplex at one stage in the heat too, leading to a great spot where Hennig puts Malenko in a chin lock and starts jawing with Anderson whilst Anderson tries to let Malenko know how close he is to the ropes.

They don’t just get the big stuff right in this one but they nail all the little things as well, and it makes the match all the better as a result. For instance, Windham teases that he’s going to do a 10 punch but then stops once the crowd starts counting along, drawing instant heat as a result. Malenko eventually peppers Windham with punches whilst on the receiving end of a back suplex, which leads to a double down and the hot tag to Benoit.

Benoit runs wild and looks great doing so, leading to the match breaking down with all four guys going at it. The action continues to be great, with Benoit and Windham fighting outside the ring with the lumberjacks. That allows Hennig to hit Malenko with a belt whilst the ref is distracted, and he pops Anderson for good measure, but Anderson hits him with a tyre iron in response. Malenko fights with Windham and that allows Benoit to come off the top rope with a head-butt onto Hennig for the three count and the monster pop.

WINNERS AND NEW CHAMPIONS: BENOIT & MALENKO
RATING: ****1/4

This one is an underappreciated hidden gem, with great tag team formula work and a fantastic finish of the Heels finally getting their comeuppance for SuperBrawl IX. Anderson hitting Hennig with a weapon would normally be a Heel move, but Hennig cheated first so he was just redressing the balance, proving once again that wrestling is the ultimate morality play

The Horsemen get a big celebration following that and the win feels like a big deal as a result.

Match Seven
Dog Collar Match
Chris Jericho w/ Ralphus Vs Perry Saturn

Jericho had defeated Saturn in a “Loser Wears a Dress” match, so Saturn has gone all Goth with it, complete with Marylyn Manson inspired music. Saturn looks really freaky here with yellow contacts and black lipstick, but in “this is a dangerous man who could kill you” sort of way, so it works for him. He stares down into the camera and yells “What are you lookin’ at?!?” at one stage, which was part of his entrance music at the time. Jericho tries to duck out of the match by getting Ralphus to wrestle in his place, but Ralphus refuses so Jericho is forced to take part after-all.

Jericho decides to wear a mouth guard here, which I think is supposed to be a display of cowardice but it just makes him look smart in all honesty. They do quite a few spots early on to show that Saturn understands how to use the chain in a match situation whilst Jericho is less skilled at it, including Saturn using it to pull Jericho into moves and send him into the turnbuckle etc. It’s a decent match from a mechanical standpoint, but the crowd isn’t really that into it, possibly because they’re still recovering from the previous one.

Jericho eventually manages to work some heat, with the action continuing to be good, but the crowd still doesn’t really care that much. I feel sorry for them to a certain degree as they’re putting the effort in but the crowd either isn’t into this feud or they are just worn out after some previous matches and are struggling to heat themselves back up again. It happens sometimes. Jericho does play to the crowd a bit, which gets them a bit more invested, although Saturn’s comeback doesn’t get the reception you’d expect.

Probably one of the biggest reactions in the whole match is when Saturn puts his skirt over Jericho’s face before doing a ten punch. There’s a very creative spot where Saturn yanks on the collar in order to fight his way out of The Lion Tamer at one stage, which the crowd recognising what they’re doing a reacting to it. This leads to Jericho taking the collar off of Saturn so that this won’t happen again, but he ends up missing a splash off the top rope and Saturn follows up with a Spicolli Driver for three.

WINNER: PERRY SATURN
RATING: **1/2

Work was fine but the match was pretty flat due to the crowd not biting

Saturn says that “life’s a drag” on his way to the back following that.

Oh ho! Is funny because he is a man wearing a dress. Oh ho hooooooooo!

Semi-Main
WCW World Television Title
Champ: Scott Steiner w/ Buff Bagwell Vs Booker T

Bagwell was great as Steiner’s hype man and general lackey, and I was genuinely a bit upset when they split them up because it was such a good combo. Booker is very popular with the fans here, with a lot of them raising the roof for him during his entrance. Steiner was doing a lot of old school Heel tactics here, stalling and refusing to go at it with Booker, which always seemed like an odd thing for a guy his size to do, especially as his whole gimmick was that he was a big scary dude with legitimate amateur wrestling credentials who could quite literally snap at any moment. That was an aspect they’d adjust when he was Main Events in 2000 where he would just destroy people.

This is a solid match because both men know one another well after years of going at it in the tag division and they are both good at playing their respective roles, with Steiner being an unlikable bad guy and Booker being likable good guy that you want to get behind. Booker gets to out wrestle Steiner in the early going with basic stuff and then unloads with some shots when Steiner tries to make it more of a fight. Booker actually gets to control things for quite a bit in the early going to show that he’s a deserving challenger, but Bagwell provides a distraction and Steiner is able to use it to cut Booker off outside the ring.

Buff’s interference was actually in full view of the ref there but they kind of cover it by pointing out that Steiner is so scary that the referee is too afraid to disqualify him, which works well enough I guess. Booker sells well in the heat, with Steiner getting a series of impressive power moves. They’ve built this one pretty well actually, and even though it hasn’t been fought at the fastest of paces you don’t really need to work Heavyweight bouts like that. It’s a very old school structure with a more modern style of wrestling, which works well for the most part.

Booker eventually makes a comeback, with his offence looking good and he also throws around the massive Steiner with relative ease, which is pretty darn impressive. Buff gets involved again though by crotching Booker when he tries to head up top, with Steiner at least distracting the ref this time, and Steiner follows up with a Superplex before demanding that Buff brings a chair into the ring. Buff swings at Booker, but Booker ducks and Steiner gets hit instead, which leads to Booker taking out Buff and then pinning Steiner for three. And because Buff was aiming for Booker the ref is happy to let it stand, which works I think but the commentators should have probably pushed that story point more.

WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: BOOKER T
RATING: ***

This was a good match outside of a few little things and it was put in the Semi-Main slot of the show as well, highlighting how WCW saw both of these men as potential Main Eventers of the future. The finish worked for the most part, although you can argue that the ref should have thrown it out, but I do like how the Heels were hoist by their own petard there and the ref decided to just let it go

We get the same video package from earlier of guys setting up the cage.

Main Event
Steel Cage First Blood Match
WCW Presidency and WCW World Title Vs Ric Flair’s Career
Champ: Hollywood Hogan Vs Ric Flair

Flair tells referee Charles Robinson to use his discretion when it comes to calling the blood rule, which will prove to be important later. There is barbed wire atop the cage and there is no door on the cage either, which is designed to ensure that no one can interfere or escape the cage. Now the big story of this one was that Flair wanted to turn Heel, even though basically no one else wanted him to (including the fans). He was so desperate to be a Heel again that he even talked Hogan into going babyface, so the whole point of this match is to do a double turn so that they can leave with Flair as a Heel and Hogan as a Face.

You can tell from the outset that they’re trying to present Hogan as the babyface, as he bumps Flair around and gets the better of him in traditional babyface ways, whilst Flair is far sneakier and takes a lot of bumps like a Heel would, even begging off at points. Hogan and Flair would usually have good matches together so the action is fine for the most part, it’s just a bit of a weird atmosphere to the match as the fans are into the idea of getting behind Flair but then have to adjust once the match goes the way it does.

Hogan takes most of the early portion of the match, complete with his traditional babyface posing and mannerisms and actually busts Flair open by flinging him into the cage. He even brings some of the wire down from the top of the cage and rubs it in Flair’s face, in a decidedly non-WCW style moment for the late 90’s. Robinson doesn’t call for the bell though; despite the fact Flair is now bleeding a gusher. This is clearly sus as all heck, but it makes sense due to Robinson later being revealed to being in Flair’s pocket as a corrupt official.

What doesn’t make sense is how pin falls magically all of sudden count after a certain point, especially as Flair getting sliced open and Hogan then losing on something lame like a nosebleed would have totally suited the story they were telling and would have made Hogan a genuinely sympathetic figure due to how screwy in nature it would have been. Instead, Flair just busts Hogan open and they keep wrestling. With Hogan now selling, it leads to David Flair and Torrie Wilson joining us, as David had recently turned Heel on Ric to join the Wolfpac, but I guess he’s actually a babyface now if Hogan also is?

David can’t really do much outside of giving Hogan helpful advice such as “Hulk Up”, which is on par with Mr. Burns telling Daryl Strawberry to go hit a home run. Hogan does indeed Hulk Up, complete with the whole “getting fired up by seeing his own blood” trope, and the crowd responds to it positively. Flair even does the big suplex and taunt spot, only for Hogan to pop up and Flair to start begging off again, as the double turn is fully completed now. Well, you can’t say they didn’t execute the whole thing correctly I guess.

Arn Anderson eventually joins us and takes out David, leading to a spot where Torrie climbs on his back to a big pop. He manages to shrug her off though and hands Flair the tyre iron from earlier. Flair clobbers Hogan with that and then locks Hogan in the Figure Four. Hogan is out cold from that and Robinson counts his shoulders down for three to give Flair his 14th World Title.

WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: RIC FLAIR
RATING: ***

Silliness of the finish aside, you can always explain it away by saying that Flair was the acting president and could change the rules on the fly I guess. I personally didn’t and don’t think the double turn was a good idea, as the fans clearly still wanted to cheer for Flair and The Horsemen were just starting to get over as star babyfaces, but they pulled it off successfully and left the stable in a strong position by giving them both the World Title and the Tag belts. As a match it was a good Hogan/Flair outing, with both men knowing just how to play their roles and the action having good energy to it.

Anderson helps a bloody Flair to the back whilst The Horsemen’s music plays.

In Conclusion

This was probably WCW’s second best pay per view show of the year, with good action up and down the card and a strong Main Event to close things out. Seeing so many people in the arena for this event and hearing how hot they were for so much of the show really rammed home the fact that WCW was still salvageable at this stage if only someone with an actual clue could have taken control of the reins. They probably wouldn’t have caught the WWF at this point, but they could have at least consolidated themselves as a solid #2. Alas, the downfall would continue despite this and Spring Stampede being great shows.

Recommended show