The Barbarian was a big, strong, legit-tough dude, but a WORLD TITLE CONTENDER? On PPV? No wonder WCW lost so much money.
Welcome back to more Dream Matches! This week I have a sequel to last weeks’ Jake/Koloff match, as it’s Jake & Barbarian vs. Nikita & Ron Simmons, the WCW World Champion! Then, it’s one of the stranger “two guys you didn’t think ever met” contests, thanks to Erik Watts’ run in late ’90s WCW, where he takes on Disco Inferno on TWO separate occasions! Then it’s a giant Hoss Match as The Giant takes on Roadblock on WCW Nitro, in a match with a remarkable ending that’s stuck in my mind for 25 years! More Essa Rios content, as he & Funaki take on the Hardy Boyz back when Rios was “Papi Chulo”! Then it’s a shockingly very good Wrath match, as he & the underrated Mike Enos fight like hell on a filler WCW Thunder bout! With some commentary you really have to hear.
JAKE “THE SNAKE” ROBERTS & THE BARBARIAN (w/ Cactus Jack) vs. RON SIMMONS & NIKITA KOLOFF:
(WCW Power Hour, Oct. 17th 1992)
* By recommendations, here’s Jake & Barbarian as WCW heels vs. Ron Simmons (the WCW World Champion!) and Koloff. Jake’s in blue, Barbarian’s in black, Ron’s in green and slapping hands with the fans, and a very bored-looking Koloff is in a black singlet. Nobody seems nearly as over as they should be considering this has the World Champ and the guy he’s wrestling at Halloween Havoc in a week.
Jake boots Koloff in the gut to start, but gets tossed around when Nikita reverses a whip, then Nikita blasts Cactus off the apron. Ron comes in and shoulderblocks Jake, who does a HUGE ass-over-teakettle bump to really sell it. Ron slams him a couple times, but Koloff allows Jake to tag out so he can tangle with Barbarian. Both don’t really have much charisma at this point, but they get the fans into things by ramming into each other like a couple of hosses, and the fans cheer for Ron coming in- a shoving contest soon turns into Ron taking him down and they just start whaling the s--- out of each other and this is awesome. Barbarian hits a knee but Simmons comes flying off with his shoulderblock for a LIGHTNING-fast two-count- Nikita’s in, but gets smacked by Jake and Barbarian throttles him on the distraction. Dang, this is getting good- Cactus helps the violence and everyone takes turns choking Koloff on the ropes like good heels.
Jake kinda improvises holding Koloff on the mat so Barbarian can knee him, too. I liked that- it was an awkward grip but it looked like the way someone would do it in an actual scrap, grabbing however they could reach. Nikita fights out of a double-nervehold and uses a knee smash, but can’t tag and Jake puts a knee into his back. Jake stops another comeback and hits the short-arm clothesline, making sure to stare down Simmons as he does it, then signals the DDT- but Nikita backdrops out! Then hits a monster Russian Sickle (running clothesline) as Barbarian breaks up the count, but Simmons wipes out Barbarian with the same, only to squish the ref under the big guy on a second shot. The hosses brawl on the floor, neither selling a bit, and Cactus tosses in a chair- Nikita tries to cut him off, but Jake gets the better of him and BAM! DDT on the chair kills him dead. The ref recovers and counts the three at (7:57). Jake whips an albino cobra out of his snake-bag, leading Tony to panic on commentary, but Ron manages to grab Koloff and drag him out of the ring.
Okay, MUCH better than last week’s resthold-y affair. Everyone came here to brawl and that was awesome- if you have Barabarian & Ron Simmon in there, you just need some big f*ckers to go in, pose, then waffle the s--- out of each other like Godzilla & Ghidorah. And then when it came time for the heat segment, then did pretty well- Barbarian was an adequate power brawler and Jake had the sneaky tactics. I even liked his heel psychology, doing little things like just getting in the babyface’s way or holding him down any way he can, just to halt the momentum. Then some good down-home cheating nets the heels a win and puts heat on the Havoc match. Unfortunately, Barbarian as a World Title contender in 1992 wasn’t gonna sell any damn tickets, but I can’t deny the booking here in this match here at least.
Rating: *** (quite a delightfully fun little tag bout- hits all the necessary steps and never got slow or boring)
Because WCW: Erik Watts in “1999 D-Bag Clubbing Gear” as a midcarder.
DISCO INFERNO vs. ERIK WATTS:
(March 13th 1999)
* More from the era of “Erik Watts back in WCW”, as he’s still dressed like a Hardy Boy, while Disco is in the nWo Wolfpac as a tertiary member and wearing his white & black psychedelic trunks.
Watts wins an “International” sequence and mocks Disco’s little dance, but Disco wins one of his own- Watts counters an armdrag and takes him down, then hits the BUCKLE BOMB, but doesn’t even go for a cover- he just kicks Disco in the ass/thigh region and that gets two. Man, in 1999 the Buckle Bomb was brand freakin’ new and EVEN HERE it’s an early match move (maybe because they didn’t want to risk a tired guy doing it?). Watts does a pretty extended beatdown (hitting an uranage) until he misses a Stinger Spash and Disco does a 2nd-rope elbow & a weird clothesline (barely swatting the top of 6’5″ Erik’s head). Watts goes to the eyes, but Disco gets a sleeper- Watts counters to a sleeperhold slam and looks to finish, but Disco ducks a clothesline and hits the renamed Last Dance (stone cold stunner) for the win at (4:33). Haha, what? Watts was brand new to WCW and he’s jobbing to DISCO already?
Rating: *1/2 (pretty generic “methodical beatdown” match with the huge spot right in the opening minutes and then nothing much for the rest)
DISCO INFERNO vs. ERIK WATTS:
(Nov. 13th 1999)
* Many months later, we get a rematch. Watts is now with a singlet top while Disco’s the Cruiserweight Champion and absolutely roided to the GILLS here, every muscle puffed up and huge.
Weirdest freakin’ bit ever, as Disco attacks early and they do a short sequence, with the ref doing absolutely NOTHING until Disco hits the mat, at which point the bell is heard and the sequence is re-aired like that. Is that a taping glitch or a WCW production error? They go back and forth with random punches and kicks until Disco psyches Watts out and hits a clothesline, spiraling him into a Jannetty Sell. Disco throws more shots but gets uranaged like last match. Watts keeps doing “six-shooters” almost at random, like someone just spamming their taunt in SmackDown!. Buckle Bomb hits and Watts won’t cover to the chagrin of the commentators, and Disco soon hits a neckbraeaker & 2nd-rope elbow. Watts drops him in the corner but misses another Stinger Splash- he stops himself and points to his head to indicate intelligence, and naturally walks straight into the Last Dance for the fall (2:45)- Disco wins another one handily.
Rating: *1/2 (another quick “kick and punch” match, but at least the Buckle Bomb makes more sense in the story: the story being that Watts is a moron who sucks)
Monster Heeling 101: Coming down the aisle with an expression that says “ew- that’s a gross bug”.
THE GIANT vs. ROADBLOCK:
(WCW Nitro, Jan. 27th 1997)
* OH HELL YES GIANT HOSS MATCH! I reviewed a later Saturday Night rematch, but this one is one of my first big Nitro memories, and you’ll see why. Roadblock was nothing but a JTTS guy despite his enormity, which made him the PERFECT opponent for the even larger Giant, who could really throw his weight around now. Giant’s in the usual Andre gear, and is freshly pissed off from being robbed of the WCW Title by the nWo, while RB’s in the yellow shirt & black pants. Oh and there’s some weird random table on the side of the ring for seemingly no reason.
Roadblock wisely attacks the larger man as he gets into the ring, but Giant soon reverses a whip and clotheslines him in the corner. RB gets the boot up when Giant tries it again, but keeps going for a bodyslam, only to have the Giant slam HIM! RB tries one last comeback but gets clotheslined down, and then Giant just charges him and hits a DROPKICK, flipping Roadblock clear over the top rope and sends him through the friggin’ table! Giant goes out, tosses RB back in, and hits The Chokeslam for the pin at (1:47). Absolutely amazing bump for that huge man- you can see he braced himself over the top rope to ensure a controlled landing, but still- he’s gigantic.
Rating: *1/2 (largely simple Hoss Match with very little offense at all for Roadblock as the Giant appropriately squashes him and hits an outstanding final two moves to do so. Great bump by Roadblock and this was a huge way to put the rookie over)
“Hey, how can we get these hot young rookie stars over?” “Well put Michael Hayes out there in a way-too-tight shirt like he’s The Guy Who’s Too Old For This Club and have him be their Cool Uncle Manager!”
THE HARDY BOYZ (Matt & Jeff, w/ Michael Hayes) vs. PAPI CHULO & FUNAKI:
(Sunday Night Heat, July 1999)
* The Hardys, with “Cool Uncle” Michael Hayes, are in the midst of their early push- Matt’s in a white shirt and Jeff’s in a hilarious silver clubby shirt. Papi Chulo is Aguila/Essa Rios under his middle WWF name (“Pimp Daddy”), with Funaki as a fellow jobber for some reason. Chulo’s in pink tights and Funaki’s in pinstriped shorts.
The Hardys attack immediately, Matt hitting a springboard moonsault onto Chulo while Jeff tope con hilos Funaki on the floor. They double-team Chulo and Jeff hits the Swanton Bomb (just when that move was starting to get noticed on TV- I remember the DVDVR boards going nuts about it) but immediately gets up and starts showboating, Hayes freaking out over this. This ends up getting two because of the delay (soon that move’d be upgraded to being a proper finisher, which was the best use of an amazing spot like that), and lotsa punching follows.
Chulo lands on his feet from a double-back body drop (slipping a bit but he’s up fast) and Funaki punches away. Chulo hits a bounce off the ropes (nearly slipping again) but dumps Matt as Funaki actually hits CIMA’s Iconoclasm (inverted Razor’s Edge off the top) on Jeff (!), then Chulo hits his nutso Tope Con Hilo over the corner onto Matt! Funaki follows with a pescado onto Jeff, but whips him to the barricade and Jeff uses that to do his insane “Barricade Run” into a Hart Attack on Chulo! Crazy stuff for this time period. Funaki tries a Tornado DDT but gets caught in a… what the f*ck was that? For the three at (3:22). I think Jeff was gonna rana him, but switched to a Twist of Fate halfway through and didn’t get a full rotation on it?
Literally just “Spots & Punching” but a fun quickie tag match. Chulo hitting THAT SPOT every match and never getting a second look by the bookers is crazy, but the Hardys were on another level in terms of flashiness at this point. Funaki swiping CIMA moves was pretty funny.
Rating: **1/4 (good old-fashioned crazy spotfest, playing to the strengths of all four guys)
WRATH vs. MIKE ENOS:
(WCW Thunder, March 18th 1999)
* We’re back with more Wrath! But too late to do any good! Wrath crushed Enos in his Goldberg-esque streak the year before, but this is after Kevin Nash flattened him and Disco Inferno cheated to beat him, ending his big push for good. Enos, in black shorts, is one of WCW’s many “Utility” guys to job out. Wrath’s in green & black, and gets a pretty decent reaction.
Hilariously, Tony mocks Tenay & Heenan for going on about Buff & Steiner’s current issue instead of play-by-play… and immediately gets in on that same subject, leading to this giant rant by Heenan about how most people’s families are just horrible, selfish deadbeats who use everyone, leading to Tony mocking him for the “anger deep inside” and suggesting he seek therapy. Meanwhile, Wrath throws knees but gets armdragged as the two milk the early going (I assume WCW wrestlers were told to “just f*ck around” in the early minutes for said commentary rants). Wrath works a headlock but gets drop-toeholded, only to clothesline Enos out of his hiptoss attempt. Enos reverses a suplex for two but gets knocked to the floor, and Wrath follows with a CANNONBALL off the apron (!).
Back from break with Enos dropping Wrath on the steel guardrail, but he gets necked on the rope and Wrath hits a big Flying Clothesline for two- hey, Wrath’s still kinda over! He hits elbows & a chinlock to wear Enos down some more, but Enos gets a jawbreaker, headbutt & superplex for two. Heenan admonishes Enos for not cheating, going through a laundry list of dishonest tactics, with Tony & Mike cracking up over him miswording it as “distort the referee”. Enos takes his time working the back, but Wrath drop-toeholds him on the ropes and they just SLAM into each other when both try cross-bodies (OUCH), Wrath getting two off that. Enos is right back up and hits a neckbreaker, signaling the end, but Wrath catches him- Death Penalty (Rock Bottom)! And that’s it- the Meltdown (pumphandle slam) gets the win at (9:37). Man, Enos made him EARN that one.
Okay, this was NOT what most would be expecting at this point- Mike Enos taking Wrath nearly to ten minutes. It was a solid little match, though, as Enos was a very good worker and Wrath was quite good at what he did (all his stuff is flashy, while Enos is the “glue” holding the spots together). It really only slowed down for a couple of holds, and even THOSE led to something and fit the psychology of wearing the other guy down. A handful of big flying moves and power stuff at the end and you have yourself a decent TV match. Not bad for Blake Beverly vs. Adam Bomb!
Rating: *** (another solid TV match for the underrated Mike Enos, with Wrath again looking great with his stuff)