Continuing the chronological look back at the NWA/Jim Crockett Promotions’ run in the mid-late 80s, it’s time for Starrcade ’85 “The Gathering”. Our main event is a rematch from Starrcade ’84, NWA Champ Ric Flair vs. Dusty Rhodes. However, perhaps the most anticipated match on the card is the I Quit steel cage battle for the U.S. Title between Tully Blanchard and Magnum T.A. Let’s roll…
So let's pretend WWE's corporate sponsors, investors and/or whoever else influences WWE programming collectively gives Vince McMahon the OK to bring back one "adult" element from the Attitude Era in an effort to improve ratings and subscriptions. Vince has the choice to bring back blood, nudity/sex (still cable-TV friendly) or cursing to WWE television.
If you were advising Vince, which one of the three would you tell him is best for business, and which of the three do you just personally want to see again?
I always enjoyed this show, and felt like it was buried amongst the crap that was 2003. So, why not a random review of a great show from your fearless leader, well, fearless assistant
to the leader.
announcer literally says this is an Austin and Bischoff Production. Austin said
he really dug doing the GM stuff on his DVD, which I wonder whether if that were
true of if he was trying to save face knowing he was just ruining his legacy.
Boyz vs. Chris Nowinski & Rodney Mack
was during Rodney’s White Boy Challenge, and apparently Nowinski is rolling
with him and Teddy as some sort of Uncle Ted or something. Thankfully, he’s
doing the brunt of the ring work, as he’s pretty damn decent, especially at one
point where he tears it up with Bubba. A pretty even match that saw the Dudleyz
hold the momentum near the end until Nowinski nailed Bubba in the back of the
head with this Cody Rhodes-like metal face mask, earning the pin. It’s a shame
that Chris had to retire so soon, I think he could have been something in this
hits Bubba with his Dr. Doom mask for the pin at 7:13 | ** Nothing worth
tracking down, but a perfectly fine opener.
JR talk about the Redneck Triathlon that’s going on between Austin and Bischoff
later tonight, and that one of the contests will be pie eating. The King says
it’s gonna be Poontang Pie. Yes. They’re gonna perform oral sex on women here
on PPV. Terri is hosting the first segment, which is a burping contest. Oh,
Terri. I will never be able to see her and not think Alli. Of course, the burps
are added in post, and they sure are hilarious. Because it’s burping! Chuck
Lorre saw this and thought “I could turn this style of sophisticated humor
into a TV show!” and thus, we got Big Bang Theory.
vs. Scott Steiner – for Stacy Keibler’s Managerial Services
gets a pretty big pop. Man alive the things a fucking catchphrase will earn
you. In the story here, Test is a sexist sleezeball and Scott is the better man
whom Stacy wants to be with. You know, as wrestling fans, we sure are asked to
suspend our disbelief a lot. Regardless, this could very well be Scott’s best
match while in the WWE. He worked babyface, getting his ass-kicked for a good
portion of the match, and the only offense he every really handed out were suplexes
and clotheslines, and not once did he win the lotto. Test served up straight
power offense maneuvers while he mocked both Scott and Stacy. The finish saw
Test take a swing at Scott with a chair, however he missed, it nailed the rope
which bounced back into his skull, at which point Steiner hit a reverse Russian
Leg Sweep for the pin. A damn fine match that delivered far more than I thought
hits a reverse Russian Leg Sweep for the pin at 6:27 | *** You know, it’s
worth tracking down to see Scott’s best WWE match
up is the Pie Eating contest. Bischoff has some hot chicks, and I wish they’d
just hurry up and get to him having to go down on Mae Young and get it over
with. It’s incredible how far away they are from things like this now a days.
footage from Judgment Day where Christian won the IC Title Battle Royal. He
cheated against final opponent, Booker T, which leads us to…
[C] vs. Booker T – WWE Intercontinental Championship
King makes a crack about Booker’s prison record, and The King says “Yeah,
there are some people who could have ended up in jail had certain situations
gone a certain way. *ahem*” The momentum is all Booker’s in this match,
crushing Christian with back-body drops, scissor kicks, and missile drop-kicks.
Only few spare moves, one of them being Booker’s Bookend, keep this from being
a total squash. Christian ends up hitting Booker for the DQ in order to keep
his strap. Shitty finish, and seriously more like a Main Event Squash than
wins via DQ at 7:55 | ** Decent, but it’s the first blemish on the show so
and Stone Cold come out for the Pie Eating. Oh my goodness, Stone Cold pulled a
ruse and Bischoff has to perform oral sex on Mae Young. I’m gonna shit my pants
from laughing so hard.
gets an interview. They do not enjoy America. I’m expecting them to take me on
a tour of ghettos so they can point out the crumbling buildings, and lackluster
Resistance vs. RVD & Kane [C] – World Tag Team Championship
thing is, any person who has done 10 seconds of research would see how much
better of a place France is than America. RVD gets a bit of offense in the
beginning, soon after Kane enters the fray and just destroys both of them until
RVD misses a summersault flip and nails Kane. This leads to a double chokeslam
on RVD for the pin and the titles. From what I’ve read during this era, these
guys were terrible, and the only reason they kept getting a push was because Sylvain
was the son of Patterson’s golfing buddy. Nepotism in wrestling? I am
displeased to hear of this. RVD and Kane sure had some odd, but well worth it
eats a double chokeslam for the pin at 5:49 | ** Far from a classic,
but helped the PPV going with another decent match that had some worthwhile
never liked Greenberg, and it made me sick that Jericho had to job to him in
2003. This one starts off with Goldberg tearing into Jericho, taking him down
with constant throws and power slams. Chris finally turns the tide when
Goldberg looks to spear him on the outside, but Chris side-steps, which sends
Bill crashing through the barrier in pretty incredible fashion. Chris is
immediately on him, working the shoulder. Goldberg eventually mounts a
comeback, only to stop short due to his shoulder. The crowd is about 60% Y2J
and 40% Goldberg. People really did not give a shit about Bill this time
around. Naturally, Goldberg wins this one, but Jericho carried him to one of
his all-time best matches. He actually had to tell a story this time around
that wasn’t the same ol’ shit he did in WCW.
hits the Jackhammer for the pin at 10:55 | ***1/2 worth looking up,
as it’s one of Goldberg’s all time bests. It gives this PPV another solid
a recap of the Shawn vs. Ric feud. It started when Shawn told Ric that he
couldn’t lay down for Triple H on Raw. So, at first it was babyface vs.
babyface, until Flair turned heel and claimed that Michaels was nothing but a
Flair wannabe. Really, it’s best this way.
Flair vs. Shawn Michaels
start off with some mat wrestling, and each time they’re pulled apart they
antagonize one another with slaps and pushes. Eventually while Shawn’s back is
turned, Ric gets the chop-block, then goes to work on his knee before putting
on the figure 4. Shawn eventually turns the tide and slaps on a figure 4 of his
own. Then, out of nowhere, Shawn goes outside to pull out a table for no
reason. He places Flair on top of it just as Randy Orton runs from the crowd,
only to eat a superkick. Shawn, not to be stopped, does a splash from the top
rope, turning in mid-air and driving Ric through it. Pretty spectacular,
although not enough to get the pin. Soon, the ref is down from an inadvertent
low-blow, Ric is down from Sweet Chin Music, and Randy is back up in time to
smash Shawn’s head with a steel chair, giving Flair the win. This is one of
those matches that’s never spoken of, and something I consider an underrated
gem. It’s another great match Flair had during his final run.
eats a chair and the pin at 14:18 | ***3/4 A hell of a match that’s
worth hunting down, and helps to put this PPV in a special class.
the stupid Redneck Triatholon ends with Stone Cold beating up Bischoff and throwing
him in a pig-pen. Yes, this is much better than just being retired.
footage of what happened between Nash and Triple H. They had a match at Judgment
Day where Triple H got himself disqualified by smashing Hebner with a sledge
hammer. This being, none of the refs want to take the job of Hell in a Cell,
thus bringing out Mick Foley.
Nash vs. Triple H [C] w/ special guest ref Mick Foley – World Heavyweight
Championship – Hell in a Cell
H opens up the match with a few punches, but that’s about all he gets before
Nash controls the match with back-drops on the outside, elbows, big boots to
the face, and steel chairs to the back. Triple H finally gets some momentum
right after he dodges a set of stairs that Nash threw at him. He soon bashes
Kevin in the head with a hammer, which doesn’t kill him. Making that the second
most hard-to-believe moment of the night, the first being that Scott Steiner
isn’t a creepy jerk who lists ‘date rape’ under his hobbies. Hunter soon finds
the mascot of the HIAC, the barbwire 2×4. Nash wrangles it from him, leveling
Triple H twice with it, busting him open the first time around. He then sets it
on the turnbuckle and drops him on it with snake eyes, pretty original spot.
Great near fall when Hunter is catapulted into the 2×4 on the turnbuckle, and
then jack-knifed. Hunter soon levels Nash with a sledge-hammer shot and
Pedigree for the win. Perhaps it’s because I’m so thirsty for something that’s
not the current sanitized product, but I was absolutely in love with this
match. I thought they tore the house down with weapons, plenty of blood, and
some brutal spots. These type of matches are sorely missed in wrestling today,
and are desperate for a comeback.
H hits the Pedigree and pins Nash at 21:01 | ****1/4 A fantastic
main event that capped off a great PPV. Definitely search for the match, as
it’s a Top 5 for Kevin Nash, and one of the few great ones from Triple H during
Showdown: Easy to see from the numbers that this is a solid PPV that belongs in
an elite class among the best B shows. The only major point deductions came
from the God-awful Stone Cold and Bischoff skits, but thankfully they were kept
to somewhat of a minimum. For those that just want the hits, make sure to track
down Flair/Shawn and HHH/Nash. Hell, while you’re at it why not check out
Goldberg/Jericho, simply to give some love towards Y2J’s busting ass in order
to make something happen with Goldeneye.
As always, much love to my editor, Steven Ferrari. He and I met when I was with a group of friends and we were trying to open up a summer camp. He was known as “Crazy” Steven, and warned us all that we were doomed. I listened, they didn’t.
Need more Caliber? Of course you do!
Str8 Gangster, No Chaser – My homebase, baby. Everything you need. From True Blood recaps, Top 4 lists, mock Big Bang Theory scripts that actually fooled fans of the show. What more could you want?
WCW In 2000 – I recently updated with a review of not only the worst Nitro ever, but the absolute WORST episode of wrestling programming in history.
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The Netcop Retro Rant for In Your House: Badd Blood. (Whoops, almost forgot I was doing the WWF shows too. Hey, I’m 38, you think I can keep track of EVERYTHING?) By popular request, here’s the show that featured the SECOND Shawn v. UT match in 1997, and by far the most famous. After we get this one done, then it’s onto the King of the Ring rants. And speaking of which, since the only real point of comparison for the Mankind-Undertaker match in 1998 was the last match before that involving Hell in a Cell, let’s set the way-back machine for October, 1997… (This was one of the last shows I bought on VHS before the DVD changeover came in late 99. I always wondered what was with the second “d” in Badd, though. A secret alliance between Marc Mero and Ricky Steamboat?) Live from St. Louis, MO Your hosts are Vince, JR and the King. Opening match: Rocky Maivia, Kama Mustafa & D-Lo Brown v. The Legion of Doom. Scheduled partner Ken Shamrock is injured, so the OLD go 3 on 2. (2012 Fuad Sez: HO HO, THE LEGION OF DOOM WAS VERY OLD AT THIS TIME, I GET IT!) Tentative “Rocky Sucks” chant near the beginning, which gets louder as we go along. Crowd isn’t really responding positively to the OLD, however – it’s all negative reaction to Rocky. Really, really dull segment with Hawk and Kama follows, but Rocky DDTs Animal (drawing more chants) and the Nation takes over. The crowd is silent when D-Lo or Kama is in, and gets on Rocky as soon as he comes in. Wild. (Kind of like John Cena, but people actually liked him deep down.) Rocky debuts the BALLSHOT OF DOOM here. Kama misses the Ho Train and Animal makes the false tag, which allows D-Lo to frog splash him for two while the ref escorts Hawk out. Hot tag for real and a brawl breaks out. LOD goes for the Doomsday Device, but Faarooq comes out to draw Animal’s attention, and Rocky hits the Rock Bottom (not called as such) for the pin. 1/4* Vince announces the cancellation of the Pillman-Dude Love match due to Pillman’s death. (What happened to “the show must go on”? Surely they could have booked a creative screwjob finish to get around his injuries.) Tarantula & Mosaic v. Max Mini & Nova. You might know Max Mini better today as Taz, while Nova went on to become Chris Candido. Yeah, I know, if in doubt, go for the midget joke. They seem to be blowing a lot of spots here, possibly due to lack of preparation. There’s a few nice spots, but the rest of the match has zero flow. Max pins Tarantula after an armdrag-into-crucifix move that probably sounded better in theory than it ended up looking in execution. ** WWF Tag team title match: The Headbangers v. The Godwinns. Sunny the Crack Whore does ring intro duty. (Man, that joke is less and less funny and more and more sad these days.) This was during the Uncle Cletus (the Dirty White Plumber) period for the Godwinns. (Oh damn, Tony Anthony as Uncle Cletus, how could I have forgotten that work of genius?) Crowd couldn’t give a shit about the Godwinns. The Bangers, bless their souls, try really hard, but the magnitude of suck is just too much to overcome. If only Mark Canterbury and Dennis Knight weren’t such good company men, maybe Vince wouldn’t feel the need to reward them with the tag belts on every repackaging. (To be fair, they didn’t get the belts as Southern Justice.) The champs dominate the Godwinns with double-team moves, but a cheap shot on Thrasher turns the tide. This is *such* an unspeakably horrible and boring match. The crowd might as well be at a Thunder taping for all the noise they’re making. After about 18 hours, Mosh gets the hot tag and the Bangers wake up the crowd with more double-team stuff. Mosh comes off the top with an ugly rana attempt, but Phineas catches him with an ugly powerbomb for the pin and the titles, which was the decision NO ONE wanted to see. The title reign would only last two days, before the OLD won their last tag title. 1/4* (Even then the LOD were basically just transitional champions in of themselves to get the belts onto the New Age Outlaws. Pretty much everything between the Bulldog-Owen loss to Austin-Michaels and the Outlaws was just killing time.) Review of the series of announcer-stunnings that added the last element to Steve Austin’s character that was needed to put him over the top as the authority-hating rebel. St. Louis legends segment, which is very classy and well-done, and also helps to eat up time that was supposed to be used by the Pillman angle. Intercontinental title tournament final: Faarooq v. Owen Hart. For those wondering why there’s a heel v. heel tournament final, it was supposed to be Owen v. Ahmed Johnson, which actually would have had intrigue and stuff, but Ahmed got injured or injured someone (it’s hard to keep track after a while) and was on suspension or injury leave or whatever, so Faarooq got stuck back in there. (Could have been both.) Steve Austin comes down to ringside and commandeers the timekeeper’s table. He does color commentary and improvises a little routine, but sounds like he’s on the verge of breaking down and crying, which he disguises with bluster. (Yeah, the guy’s best friend just died, why stick him out there like that?) Owen just looks totally out of it, too. Faarooq throws Owen around for a while, but Owen comes back and goes to work on the knee. Meanwhile, Austin terrorizes the various announcing teams. Faarooq misses a legdrop and Owen goes for the Sharpshooter. Faarooq escapes and gets a powerslam for two, which draws Jim Neidhart to ringside as a spinebuster gets two. Faarooq leans up against the ropes and Austin smacks him in the head with the IC title belt, and Owen gets the pin and his second title. See, Austin wanted Owen to get the title so he could win it from him. Match was a total yawner. 1/2* Wanna know how nicely some things end up where you least expect it? Because of this match, Faarooq started making challenges to Steve Austin, leading to a sort of unspoken feud between Austin and the Nation. After Survivor Series, Rocky Maivia made the first challenge to Austin’s title, and that was the feud that launched the careers of Austin and the newly dubbed Rock into the stratosphere. Bonus match: Los Boriquas v. DOA. DOA were always kind of political victims. Back when they made their debut as a gang in mid-97, DOA was hugely over, but because Vince’s braintrust thought it best to push the visible minority groups (Hispanic Boriquas, black Nation and retarded Truth Commission), the DOA inevitably got jobbed out in every match, until finally by this point any heat they initially had was gone. And the Nation didn’t get over until mid-98, when a feud with DX necessitated them all having personalities so DX could spoof them. (Oo! Oo! With the success of Sons of Anarchy, someone should do a new stable of guys based on being a big biker group! THEY’LL MAKE MILLIONS! Or maybe 0.8 of a million.) Anyway, back to the match: …well, really I have nothing to say. It’s another horribly boring match in a series of them tonight. I mean, let’s not kid ourselves, you’re reading this review for the Hell in the Cell match, just like I’m watching this show again for the same reason, and the only reason I’m even bothering to watch the entire show is to pay lip service to the review format and satiate the large number of people who bug me for this show. So I guess what I’m trying to say is: If you’re not reading this, I don’t blame you, because I’m not watching that closely. Crush gets a tilt-a-whirl slam on Jose for the pin, and big pop. See what I mean about DOA being over? Vince could have had something huge with these guys, at the very least a new form of Demolition with Brian Lee and Crush. Oh well, hindsight and all that… DUD (I know he’s long retired now, but just for visual impact alone, wouldn’t it be kinda wacky for Lee to be unmasked as the leader of the Aces & 0.7s? I mean, unless they were clearly stating that it’s Brian Lee they’d likely be leaving themselves open to a giant lawsuit, but still, he was famous for playing a biker and also for playing someone else famous, so…) Flag match: Bret Hart & Davey Boy Smith v. The Patriot & Vader. Big brawl to start here, as Hart and Smith use the flags as weapons. Match finally kicks off with Bulldog and Patriot. Bulldog gets dominated and tags out to Bret, who gets pummelled by Vader to a big pop. Vader was actually pretty over as a babyface, revisionist claptrap of Vader apologists aside. Patriot and Bulldog both get punked making a try for their flag. Pretty boring match so far. Bret tries a Sharpshooter on the Patriot, who reverses it for one of his own. Patriot tries to sneak up and grab the flag during a dogpile, but gets tossed off and into the Ricky Morton role. Doesn’t last long as Vader gets the hot tag and destroys Bulldog. The Harts nail him and go to work, however. Patriot comes in without a tag and it’s allowed for some reason. Harts kick *his* ass too, however. Man, this is a long match. Vader gets another hot tag and misses the moonsault on Bulldog, but lands on his feet and nails Bulldog anyway. Brawl breaks out and Bret clocks Vader with the bell. That enables more beatings from the Harts, until a fan charges the ring and gets the shit kicked out of him. Patriot hits Uncle Slam on Bret and Vader hits the Vaderbomb, but Bret reverses the Patriot’s rollup for the pin. Really long match at 23:13, and pretty dull. **1/4 (I think there might be some sort of conspiracy afoot to make Bret look like a midcarder next to Shawn.) Hell in the Cell: Shawn Michaels v. The Undertaker. This was the final result of Summerslam 97, where Shawn reffed the UT-Bret title match, and ended up fucking up and hitting UT with a chair to give Bret the WWF title. (That was a MAGNIFICENTLY executed and performed angle, by the way.) They had a wild match at Ground Zero, and then Shawn was forced into a tag match with HHH, and D-Generation X was formed. After another couple of weeks of incredibly obnoxious antics on Shawn’s part, this match was signed. And the general consensus was that Shawn was dead meat. DX tries to accompany Shawn, but get sent back. Shawn tries to avoid UT, who slowly stalks him around ringside. He runs into the ring and right into a big boot. UT rams him to the turnbuckle, and again, which Shawn sells bigtime. He goes for the chokeslam but Shawn kicks him in the shin and hammers away. UT shrugs it off and reverses a whip, sending Shawn crashing to the corner. UT with a wristlock, and he slams into Shawn’s shoulder a few times, then does the ropewalk. Shawn oversells again. UT with a headbutt and choking. Slam and legdrop for two. Michaels is dazed, and UT backdrops him to the heavens. Shawn gets up so UT knocks him on ass several times, and then tosses him over the top rope in a wicked bump for Shawn. He chokes Shawn against the cage, prompting Shawn to try to climb out of the cage. UT pulls him down to the floor, another wicked bump. Front row starts yelling “Make him bleed”, thus demonstrating how much Shawn was despised at this point. UT whips him into the cage, and then tears his head off with a clothesline coming back. Again. Great bumping by Shawn. The announcers are totally selling the idea of UT taking his time and destroying Shawn bit by bit. Taker tries a piledriver on the floor, but Shawn flips up and hammers on his head. UT calmly smashes the back of his head into the cage and drops him on the floor. Ouch. To the steps. UT hammers away on Shawn, and rams him backfirst into the ringpost, then to the cage, then to the ringpost, to the cage again. Crowd eats it up. This, folks, is a shitkicking of the first order. Shawn tries to push UT into the cage, but UT simply clotheslines him on the way back. He smashes Shawn into the stairs. UT whips Shawn into the cage, but Shawn uses the momentum to nail UT on the way back, giving him the advantage. He wisely rolls back into the ring to escape the Undertaker. He nails him a few times on the way back in, but UT snaps Shawn’s neck on the top rope on the way down. Shawn comes back and knocks UT off the apron into the cage. UT keeps coming. Shawn tries a tope suicida, sending UT crashing into the cage, then he climbs halfway up the cage and drops an elbow to UT on the floor. UT keeps getting up, so Shawn clotheslines him off the apron. Shawn, getting desperate, grabs the stairs and rams them into UT’s back a few times. He piledrives Taker on the remains of the stairs and rolls back into the ring to escape again. He comes off the top rope with a double-axehandle to UT on the floor. Back in the ring, and Shawn finds a chair under the ring before returning. A shot to the back puts UT down again. UT gets up, so Shawn knocks him down again. It get two. Notice the story, as UT controlled for the first portion, while Shawn had to use his brain and every advantage possible to come back. UT tries to come back, but gets caught in the ropes and pummelled by Shawn. Shawn charges and eats a boot to the mouth, and charges again and gets backdropped over the top, onto a cameraman. He nails the cameraman (a local worker) and injures him. The medical crew opens the cage to give the guy assistance as Shawn hits UT with the flying forearm back in the ring. Shawn with the Randy Savage elbow, and he cues up the band. Superkick, but UT sits up. So Shawn runs out the door. (The VERY FIRST ONE and they’re already violating the internal logic of the match!) UT follows and they fight in the aisle. Shawn dropkicks UT, but on a second attempt gets caught and catapulted into the cage. If you go in slow motion, you can see Shawn rip the blade across his forehead in mid-air. It’s not noticeable, though, otherwise. UT rams Shawn into the cage a few times like a battering ram. Shawn kicks him in the nuts to counter. Shawn climbs the outside of the cage to escape the increasingly crazed UT, and UT follows. They fight on the roof, and Shawn attempts a piledriver, reversed by UT to a big pop. UT grates Shawn’s face into the mesh as a neat camera angle from below lets us see it. Taker military presses Shawn onto the cage, then nails him, sending Shawn scurrying to the edge to run away. He starts to climb down the cage, so UT stomps on Shawn’s hands until he crashes to the table below. Like the Terminator, Undertaker follows and biels Shawn onto the French table, then press slams him to the remains of the Spanish table. Shawn is just bleeding all over the place. UT literally kicks Shawn’s ass around the cage, and tosses him back into the ring. Clothesline, then he puts Shawn on the top rope and chokeslams him off. UT finds his own chair and smashes it into Shawn’s face, then calls for the tombstone…and the lights go out. The now-familiar music and red lights start, and Kane makes his first appearance. He rips the door off the hinges, does the pyro thing, and tombstones Undertaker, then leaves. Michaels pulls his blood-soaked carcass off the mat, rolls over with his last ounce of strength, and covers for the pin. D-X drags him out of the ring before the Undertaker can wake up and finish killing Shawn. Ending deducts 1/4*, but make no mistake: This is THE match of the year. ****3/4 (It’s the full monty, who am I trying to kid here? It’s awesome. Also the last WWF/E match that got that rating from Meltzer before Punk/Cena last year. Think about that: He hadn’t rated a WWE match at ***** in nearly FIFTEEN YEARS.) The Bottom Line: Okay, so why was this so much better than Foley’s version? First and foremost, the storyline and psychology was there whereas it was not in the second. In the first one, you could FEEL how close Shawn was to pissing his pants in fear every time UT no-sold one of his best shots and kept coming back for more. The psychology of the match itself was solid, too: Shawn’s signature moves (superkick, flying elbow) are shrugged off by the Undertaker, forcing Shawn to resort to foreign objects and timely running away, to the point where Shawn has to invent new ways of running away. Taking out a cameraman was a brilliant idea (straight out of a World War II prison camp movie, almost) in order to escape, for instance. The bumps, although less spectacular, are more numerous and have almost the same effect cumulatively on Shawn as the match progresses as the Two Big Bumps did on Foley. Shawn’s dive off the side of the cage was a couple of feet lower than Foley’s, but still earned “Holy Shit” honors from RSPW at the time. And there was no standing around waiting for the next move here like there was in the second one. Plus the interference (Kane in the first one, Terry Funk in the second) was much better utilized: In the first one, it’s to establish that the ONLY way Shawn could beat UT is to have his demonic half-brother do his own finisher to him…in the second one, it’s a way to kill a couple of minutes while Foley’s spleen moves back out of his throat. Look, this is not some personal knock against Mick Foley. Hell, I said in the KOTR 98 rant that he SHOULD have won Match of the Year…just not for THAT match. I think if you watch Badd Blood’s Hell in the Cell and King of the Ring’s Hell in the Cell, it’ll become rapidly apparent who was able to carry UT to the better match, plus bump more consistently and tell the better story. Anyway, the show is recommended ONLY for Hell in a Cell. Fast forward through the rest.
The SK Rant for WCW New Blood Rising 2000 (Oh Christ, THIS show.) – Live from Vancouver, BC – Your hosts are Tony, Mark and Scott. – Opening match: Three Count v. The Jung Dragons. WCW always does this — they know they have at least one hot match, so they put it first and thus guarantee it gets forgotten by the fourth or fifth match. I’ve never understand that reasoning. Tank Abbott has a shirt with nipple-holes cut out, for those of you who are into that sort of thing. (Yes, that used to be a thing in WCW – Tank Abbott mentoring Three Count.) Three Count bolts for the ladders right away and bring one in. Shane (Future star Hurricane Helms)gets backdropped into the ladder by Yang, who then gets crotched on it. Shane hits a lame splash on Jamiesan (Future star Jamie Noble / James Gibson), and then the Dragons get piled on a ladder and splashed. Nice spot as we get stereo Doomsday Devices. Yang climbs and gets pushed off. Jamiesan hits a bodypress off the ladder, onto Three Count on the floor. Cool. More spots follow, too many to note here. Dragons hit spinkicks on Three Count, but Evan powerslams Kaz on the ladder. Nasty spot as Shane catapults the ladder into the Dragons via the top rope. Dragons hit double splashes on Shane from the ladders, and Jamiesan grabs the gold record…which is then taken by Tank. I guess that counts as Three Count getting the first part? Dragons sandwich Shane in the ladder and Jamie legdrops him from the top. Ouch. Tony vainly tries to explain the logic of the potential finish, but it’s a lost cause. Kaz & Shannon race up the ladders, but Tank pushes both of them over (?), and Evan climbs up and gets the recording contract for the win at 11:32. I don’t quite get the logic of having that finish, but retarded booking and blown spots aside, there was more than enough high energy and suicidal stuff to entertain me here as they die for my pleasure. ***1/2 (These poor guys were stuck in such a holding pattern for the last few months of WCW’s life. If I gave a crap about any of them at the time it would have been sad.) – The Cat puts the Filthy Animals into the tag title mess as special referees. Because THAT’S what it needs to make it better — more participants. – The Great Muta v. The Cat. Kick, kick, kick. Tigress wanders out. More kicking. Outside, more kicking. Muta spits mist, but Tigress hits Muta with a chair and Cat gets two. More kicking. Nice to see both guys showing off their moveset. A big kick from the Cat finishes at 6:48. Thrilling. DUD (Although Ernest Miller nearly saved his career with the Commissioner gig at the end, he was still awful in the ring.) – Judy Bagwell on a Pole: Positively Kanyon v. Buff Bagwell. (Yes, when we joke about the Judy Bagwell on a Pole match, it’s a REAL THING and not just a running joke. Kanyon was doing his impression of DDP as a motivational speaker at this point, and amazingly did not catapult himself to the main event as a result. Remember, Vince Russo LOVES people doing imitations of other people.) Judy’s actually on a forklift. (I now think of the special Judy-Buff relationship whenever I watch Hoyt and his mom on True Blood.) Brawl to start. Back in, Buff does some punching. Kanyon hits a russian legsweep off the second rope for two. He snips off a turnbuckle for some reason. A whiplash powerbomb gets two. Kanyon uses a cobra clutch for some inexplicable reason to waste some time as Buff sells it like a resthold and gives Russo another excuse to work in the sleeper arm-test spot. Buff escapes and comes back with a hotshot for two. Kanyon Kutter gets two…and David Arquette makes his triumphant return. Good god. Buff comes back…and Arquette of course turns on him, because it IS Russo booking this show. Buff takes both guys out with a Blockbuster and gets the pin at 6:46. (Vince Russo booking: This guy’s gonna run in, but people would expect him to screw his enemy over, so we’ll swerve them and have him turn on his friend instead, but then people would expect THAT to end the match, so we’ll SWERVE THEM AGAIN and have the guy who got screwed over win anyway!) One or two Kanyon spots saves it from DUD, but not by much. 1/2* – WCW World tag title match: Kronic v. O’Haire & Jindrak v. Perfect Event v. MIA. Disco Inferno is the in-ring ref and the other Animals are lurking around ringside. He slow counts everyone throughout the match. Epic Palumbo v. Adams match to start. Hey, shouldn’t Brian Adams be a massive babyface here? (I recall that one going completely over everyone’s head at the time for some reason.) Hugh Morrus plays bad-pun-in-peril for a while. A long while, in fact, as the crowd completely goes bored out of their mind with yet another sleeper spot and some horribly mistimed stuff from everyone involved. There’s just nothing happening. Finally, Kronik gets in and the match breaks down six ways from Sunday, as they try High Times on Palumbo, but now Vampiro and Muta add ANOTHER team to the match and run in. (Why was Muta getting such a huge push at this point?) Kronik still pounds Palumbo, but Disco won’t count. So now Chavo Jr. adds ANOTHER run-in to the match and steals the ref shirt, counting the pin for Kronik himself (and thus screwing over his own team) at 12:23. I think Kronik has actually gotten WORSE since getting this big push. You’d think that WCW would have looked at the horrible clusterfuck that was Thunder and realized that this was gonna blow goats, but I guess that’s why I’m not in charge. DUD (Vince Russo actually booking matches was such an unmitigated disaster that I’m frankly shocked most days that they didn’t just shut down the promotion and call it a day in July.) – Strap match: Shane Douglas v. Kidman. This is standard pinfall rules, thus negating the entire point of having a stipulation. (WCW, ladies and gentlemen!) Brawling outside to start. Back in, Kidman does some whipping, as does Shane. Kidman gets a rana and a pair of dropkicks. Rydien bomb gets two. More strappin’. Bulldog gets two. Torrie takes a swing at Kidman with her shoe, but hits Shane instead (what a shock) and Kidman gets two. Shane hotshots Kidman for two. Pittsburgh Plunge gets two. Kidman hits his version of the Tomikaze for the pin at 8:22. I hope Tommy Rogers is getting royalties for all the versions of that move floating around. (I think Christian pretty much has that one all to himself now.) Match was your typical Nitro mess with a couple more minutes added on. *1/2 Douglas tries to hang Kidman after the loss, Vito makes the save, and Reno attacks Vito. Man, we don’t get that Reno-Vito blowoff tonight? Bummer. (Is anyone else losing their mind just READING about all the bullshit packed into this show? Just me?) – Meanwhile, Jarrett does a good job of punking Booker out as he leaves his car. – ROTC match: Major Gunns v. Miss Hancock. Catfight starts, then they go into a HORRIBLE wrestling match, and Hancock rips off Gunn’s shirt for two. I don’t know which is stupider — Pinfalls in a stripping match or ripping off someone’s shirt and getting a near fall. Gunns gets an X-Factor and tears off Hancock’s shorts for two. Gunns gets a sunset flip for two. I apologize if my using actual wrestling move names to describe the “action” is misleading you into thinking that what they were doing is resembling wrestling, but it’s the closest equivalent I could think of on short notice. Please, ladies, head to the mud now because this isn’t working. Brawl outside, and Gunns is left in her bikini bottoms. Into the mudpit, where Hancock suffers “stomach pains” and gets pinned by Gunns at 6:43. Um, wasn’t the point to strip your opponent? Whatever. Hancock keeps clutching her stomach, and I get a sinking feeling where this angle is going (ie, Terri Runnels and D-Lo 1999) and I don’t like it one bit. –*** (I guess that’s what you call an aborted angle.) Notice how all the worst matches we’ve seen in decades are coming under Russo’s tenure? Just saying. To insult us even more, as Hancock gets carted off in an ambulance (still covered in mud), Tony has the gall to “break character” and insinuate that this is indeed a shoot. Right, SURE it is. (Here comes a historic line on my part!) I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The entire crux of the Russo mentality is that “The entire show you are watching is a work, but what you are watching RIGHT NOW is a shoot” and that is repeated for every match. (Thumbs up, cheap pop!) How can anyone older than 12 actually be expected to believe that Stacy was really pregnant and “had a miscarriage” over a few worked shots to the mid-section? – The Demon v. Sting. (Don’t forget this was a special main event!) Faster than I can type this sentence, Sting finishes with the usual at 0:53. DUD Vamp and Muta attack, and Kronik saves, and they want a tag title match TONIGHT. I don’t wanna see either Kronik or Muta wrestle twice in one night at this point, does my vote count? – Canadian title match: Lance Storm v. Mike Awesome. Storm has the Goldberg security escort. He appoints a special guest referee (crowd: “Bret! Bret! Bret!”)…Jacques Rougeau (crowd: [silence]). Real smart there, guys. (Didn’t ANYONE slap Russo around and tell him that it’s fucking stupid to tease Bret Hart as the guest referee and then deliver the Mountie instead? This shit is making me angry all over again and it’s 12 years later!) Awesome gets a quick double underhook driver to start, and a legdrop gets two. Storm superkick and he tosses Awesome to the post, and gets some Canadian Violence in. Awesome dumps him and they brawl. Back in, Awesome slips on the top rope, but goes for an Awesomebomb, which is reversed to a backslide for two. Ligerbomb from Awesome gets the pin, but Rougeau overrules the ref on the grounds of Canadian Rules, which state a five-count is needed. Storm sunset flip is blocked for three. Awesome gets a Dragon Sleeper for the tap-out, but this is Canadian Rules, so submissions don’t count. Sure, let’s just job the champ two or three times in his home country, why don’t we? Can you imagine Russo having that conversation with Bret in 1997? “Okay, so Shawn’s gonna get a clean pinfall and submission over you in the first five minutes, but it’s Canadian Rules…” and I bet it’d go downhill from there. Storm gets a few four-counts but takes a German suplex and flying shoulderblock for four. Awesome frog splash gets five, but now Canadian Rules state that Texas Death rules are in effect and Storm has to beat a ten-count. I know that Russo is going for the Over the Edge 98 thing here with Dude Love against Steve Austin, but that was a real good match even without the silliness, and this isn’t. Besides, Storm is supposed to a BABYFACE here. Awesome brings a table in, but Storm chairshots him for four. They fight on top, both go through it. Rougeau declares first man up is the winner, then punks out Awesome just to make Storm look completely weak. Storm retains at 11:01, and I bet Meltzer’s gonna get a call from that Awesome mark tomorrow on the show. The match was somewhat less than all that and a bag of chips. Maybe just a bag of chips. **1/4 Bret Hart makes a surprise appearance (Hello dipshits — why not use HIM as the ref?) and we do the All-Canadian Hug. – WCW World tag title match: Kronic v. Vampiro & Muta. The inexplicable Vampiro push continues. Clarke overpowers Vamp for two. Powerbomb gets two. Adams slams Muta for two. He powerslams Vamp for two. Vamp reverses a powerbomb and Adams plays pothead-in-peril as the match completely dies. Hot tag Clarke, Meltdown follows, but he doesn’t take the pin. Ref bump as Kronik hits High Times on both guys, but the friggin’ HARRIS BROTHERS return as you can hear the crowd audibly groan, and punk out Clarke, putting Muta on top for the pin and the titles at 9:06. (Yes, more run-ins and screwjobs. This ended up with Bret Hart, Jeff Jarrett and Harris Brothers as the nWo Silver, didn’t it? And all the idiots on RSPW were like OMG THE BAND IS BACK TOGETHER for some reason.) This is stupid on SO many levels, not the least of which is that we’re gonna have to see Harrissssessssess v. Kronik on the next PPV, and Muta wrestling more. 1/4* (Oddly, Muta would go on to have a career renaissance in Japan and I’d become a big fan all over again.) – Kevin Nash v. Scott Steiner v. Goldberg. (Oh fucking kill me now. I can’t even READ this show review anymore and there’s still this bullshit to get through.) Tony tries to sell that Goldberg was in a motorcycle accident and won’t be here, just to show how uncooperative he is. Nash gets a big boot on Steiner…and Goldberg runs in with taped ribs. Steiner drops an elbow on him for two. Are they shooting yet? I can’t tell. Steiner gets dumped and Nash & Goldberg go. Slugfest goes Goldberg’s way. Steiner suplexes Nash for two. Crowd gets into the “shoot” with a massive “boring” chant. I think I heard a few “Hogan” ones there, too. Goldberg pushes out of a Poochiebomb attempt and “walks out” on the match, meeting Russo in the aisle and “shooting” on him too, using naughty words. God, this is beyond idiotic. And now Tony is getting all upset, talking about how Nash and Steiner will have to “improvise” a new finish or some nonsense. As if Nash ever “improvised” anything not planned out for him move-by-move in his entire career. Steiner backbreaker gets two. Steiner’s chick comes out and hits some lowblows on Nash. It gets two for Steiner. Steiner tries a sleeper, but Nash breaks and finishes with the big boot and Poochiebomb at 10:49. Was that a shoot? * God help us all, it’s Nash getting ANOTHER title shot at Fall Brawl. I didn’t think it was possible to drop a buyrate much lower, but I guess that theory will be tested in one month. (Oh, it was possible all right.) – WCW World title match: Booker T v. Jeff Jarrett. Quick rollup for Booker gets two, and a leg lariat leads to a powerbomb for two. He dumps Jarrett. Brawl on the floor and in for a posting of Jarrett. Missile dropkick misses ugly, and Jarrett works the knee, smashing a chair into it. Boston Crab, which Booker escapes, and gets a rollup for two. Double KO spot. Spinebuster gets two, axe kick follows, but the ref is bumped on the breakdance spot. Oh, joy, a ref bump. Sidekick is blocked with the guitar to the leg, which is a nice spot. Jarrett hooks the figure-four, but Booker makes the ropes. I was actually thinking that they might switch the title for about 0.5 seconds until Tony started declaring that there was going to be a title change. I really wish wrestling announcers would get into the 21st century and realize that fans have picked up on that trick. Jarrett makes the run at Booker with the title belt, but hits the ref instead. Great, TWO ref bumps. He sets up a table, but irony shows her hand again and Jarrett goes through it in a weak bump. Into the ring, another ref comes in but gets bumped on a Jarrett chairshot. Jarrett hits the Stroke on said chair, but no ref. Still another ref comes in and counts two. Booker gets an ugly neckbreaker for two, and the Book-End finishes at 14:31. I thought the company line was that Booker and Jarrett would have a blow-away match to erase the memory of last month’s one? I actually liked the one at Bash at the Beach better than this one, which felt even more rushed and stuck together with chewing gum. **3/4 Fans pelt the ring with garbage after sitting through that PPV. (I want to pelt my screen with garbage just for reading about it.) The Bottom Line: Rome is burning while Russo is shooting. I think six months of this is pretty conclusive evidence that a) Reality angles don’t draw money and b) The crowd doesn’t care about them. A good match to start and a decent main event (but reminiscent of Summerslam 93, where the WWF literally promised a ****+ Michaels-Hennig match and couldn’t deliver) but the chances of the Dragons/Three Count feud leading anywhere are nil (Yup.) and Booker’s becoming a lame duck champion after a promising start (Double yup.), much like the entire dying promotion. (Bingo!)Next month: Kevin Nash brushes his teeth, live on PPV! It’s REAL, baby! Thumbs down.