Flair In Sin City

Scott, any idea why Ric Flair was so desperately keen to return to WCW in January 1993? If I remember rightly,he returned at SuperBrawl that February but due to legal tie-ups didn't actually wrestle until July. Why did he hotshot his WWF exit with little hype then gladly sit out six months? Why not hang around for the Mania 9 payday and some priceless "Nature Boy In Vegas" vignettes? Flair v Savage II,Flair v Hogan,Flair/Luger v Savage/Perfect or even Flair/Razor would have been decent options for that show.

I think he was just really unhappy with his time in the WWF at that point and felt like WCW would be better money and people he knew.  Flair's never really been one for well-thought decisions in the first place.  

RetROH Recap: ROH Motor City Madness 10-7-06

–Since ROH TV this week is a Road Rage featuring clips from Best In the World, I thought I’d do something a little different and recap a classic ROH dvd from their glory days. Motor City Madness from October 2006 wasn’t necessarily the most important show in ROH history but it was a fun one nonetheless, and featured a hot double main event: “American Dragon” Bryan Danielson (or as you know him, former WWE World Champion Daniel Bryan) defends his ROH title against today’s current TNA World Champion Austin Aries, and The Briscoes take up the mantle of defending Jim Cornette in his conflict with “The Notorious 187” Homicide, who is partnering with Samoa Joe.

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–First off we have current ROH matchmaker Delirious facing a debuting Zack Gowen. Yes, the one-legged wrestler and WWE free-rehab client had a run with ROH for a few years, starting off here and leading him to a membership with Jimmy Jacobs’ Age of the Fall. Gowen has “Moonsault” printed on the back of his shorts here. Because that’s what people are gonna remember about him. His moonsault. For those who don’t know what Delirious’s gimmick was, he was a masked guy who was basically a paranoid schizophrenic, and he predated the Festus gimmick of coming to the ring calm and then freaking out when the bell rings into a flurry of activity. Plus he had a demonic component, with moves called Shadows Over Hell and the like. It sounds like a bunch of indie gimmicks rolled into one but he was pretty good about keeping all the elements in harmony, so he seemed more like a character than an over-ambitious Create-A-Wrestler come to life. Lots of “sports entertainment” jokes from Prazak and Leonard (the commentary team from hell, and one of the biggest reasons not to watch ROH’s early DVDs. If people are overly excited about Kevin Kelly and Nigel McGuiness these days, it’s probably because they remember how much worse it used to be). They each hit a few quick spots in succession. Gowen was a better wrestler than he ever got credit for, considering his handicap. You gotta give him credit for at least trying to become a better wrestler in spite of it, rather than just playing into the gimmick and never doing anything else, like so many others would. Gowen misses his trusty moonsault, and Delirious finishes him off with a cobra clutch-backbreaker segued into a Cobra Stretch (basically a Crossface but with a cobra clutch) for the submission. Fun little kickoff match, not much to it though.

Jim Cornette comes out to glad hand the crowd, and announces that Roderick Strong is too injured to wrestle. Roddy then comes out, and declares that he wants to compete, and Jim shuts him down. Six years later and Strong is just as weak on the mic, unfortunately. Homicide comes out to chase Cornette off and cap the segment that went nowhere and liked it.

–Next up we have some women’s wrestling, as Allison Danger (Steve Corino’s sister) and Lacey (the object of Jimmy Jacob’s desire during his “Emo Warrior” days and the subject of some of his original songs) team up against Daizee Haze and MsChif. Some combination of all these girls wrestled in tags and 4 ways on ROH shows for YEARS, give or take an Ashley Lane (aka Madison Rayne). These four are also SHIMMER vets. Not a bad match, although a little heatless, since a lot of the crowd seemed to thin out. Women’s wrestling in America, even top level wrestlers from SHIMMER, is still automatic smoke-break territory for a lot of guys, unfortunately. Haze & MsChif were sort of the faces, mainly, although for long periods they’d extend the formula and draw sympathy heat on Danger. At one point MsChif drilled Danger with a frankly insane rope-hung Pedigree. The ending saw MsChif spit green mist in Danger’s face, after Lacey put her in the path, and Haze scoring the win. Not bad if you want to see some quality female wrestling, although it wasn’t the fastest match ever held and the crowd was dead or not present.

–Before he was an American Wolf or ROH champion, we just had little Davey Richards from Othello, Washington, coming out to “Running With The Devil” and wearing that same robe and pretty much the same trunks. This was very early in Davey’s run and he still hadn’t won the ROH faithful over quite yet, although he got quite a bit of a face reaction. His opponent is Claudio Castagnoli, known these days as Smackdown lowcarder Antonio Cesaro. Claudio is still in his Swiss Banker gimmick here, and still has the stringy long brown hair and snazzy suit. Oddly enough though, Claudio was still part of the Kings of Wrestling at this point and was one half the tag champs, although he & Chris Hero were still in their banker & superhero characters and hadn’t quite yet become the team they would later make their name with. This starts out extremely slow, with a lot of armdrags and headlock takeovers from Davey. After a quick spill to the outside it picks up more, with Claudio working some ground technique and culminating with a series of traded strikes. Chris Hero appears at ringside to distract Davey, leading to Davey getting clubbed in the head with a Halliburton (remember them?) and Claudio hitting the Alpamare Waterslide for the win. Started out a little slow but it turned into something fun.

–Next up, the lights go out, and the soothing sounds of “The Ballad of Lacey” filled the arena as the fans held their lit cellphones aloft while Jimmy Jacobs made his entrance, along with Lacey and his partner Colt Cabana. (Do people still do that cellphone thing at concerts? It’s been a while since I’ve been to a big one. The last one was Sublime with Rome and everyone just held up joints). They are facing “Fallen Angel” Christopher Daniels (no appletinis, sadly) and Matt Sydal, who you now know as WWE superstar and Spice enthusiast Evan Bourne. Jacobs is still the “Emo Warrior” here and is infatuated with Lacey, who is mainly just a control freak. The story here is that Colt was sleeping with Lacey, and thus she was added to the team to Jimmy’s chagrin. Colt was still ostensibly a face despite this, so they were basically the “wacky tag team partners who hate each other”. Colt was in the early stages of taking pity on Jimmy here, and that would later lead to a feud between the two. Daniels and Sydal were pretty regular partners around this time. I should note that they come to the ring to Daniels’ regular theme, “Disposable Teens” by Marilyn Manson. Consider this: Colt came to the ring to “Copacabana”, Jimmy had his self-penned emo song, and Sydal was coming out to “Clavicle” by Alkaline Trio, an awesome song but one that sends the complete wrong message for a wrestler by saying “I wanna wake up naked next to you/kissing the curve of your clavicle” in the chorus. This might be the only time in recorded history where the guy coming out to Marilyn friggin’ Manson had the manliest theme song.

Anyhow, the match featured four guys with very unique styles that still managed to mix together well. Cabana & Daniels did a pretty decent comedy spot at one point, with Daniels grabbing hold of Lacey after she interfered, Colt making a charge and stopping himself before colliding with her, Daniels attempting to roll him over with a sunset flip pin, and Colt holding onto Lacey until Daniels pulled the both of them down, leaving Lacey laying between Colt’s legs, and Colt not wanting to let her go, to Jacobs’ chagrin. It sounds better than it was. After some more mat wrestling, Colt got fired up enough to hit the Bionic Elbows on Daniels in rapid order, but Daniels countered the final clothesline into a flatliner-into-Koji Clutch, which I didn’t see coming. Later Colt had another of his signature spots countered in excellent fashion, as he went for the Flying Asshole on Sydal and missed, landing on the ropes for Sydal to hit a gorgeous looking no-hands hurricanrana. In the end of the match, he did finally hit that Flying Asshole on Sydal, but then attempted to launch a top rope maneuver only to have Jacobs knock Sydal into him, leaving Colt crotched on the ropes. Jimmy was ready to capitalize with the Contra Code, but was soon distracted by his woman paying attention to Colt’s crotch, leaving Daniels to tag in and hit Angel’s Wings for the pin. In the appres. Jimmy’s former partner and then-heated enemy BJ Whitmer came out to brawl with him, only to be pulled apart by the other three. Whitmer cuts a promo on Jacobs and chases him to the back.

–But we’re not done yet! Daniels grabs the mic and cuts a promo on the Kings of Wrestling, challenging them to put the tag titles on the line. This draws out Chris Hero, by himself. Hero scoffs at the thought of giving Daniels and Sydal a title shot, and Sydal points out that while Daniels has nothing to prove, if the question is whether he himself is worthy, Hero can come to the ring to challenge. After both hemming and hawing, Hero accepts, and we have us a one on one match. Hero isn’t the muscled guy with the more traditional look that we know as Kassius Ohno today quite yet. Here he still is wearing his Superman-parody shirt and baggy yellow pleather pants. Hero hadn’t hit on the elbow-strike gimmick yet and didn’t much in the way of the cravat variations; here he was mainly a power wrestler with a handful of aerial tricks up his sleeve. It was another interesting contrast in styles, with Hero mainly trying to keep Sydal grounded. Sydal at one point does an AJ Styles-style moonsault into reverse DDT hold, but instead of dropping straight back with the reverse DDT he does that split-legdrop thing that Melina used to do. Claudio attempted to make the run in at the finish but was fought off by Daniels, leaving Sydal to hit Hero with a missile dropkick in one corner and a Shooting Star Press out of the other for the win. And hey, there’s “Clavicle” to play Matty out. Decent match but it showed more of Hero, who wasn’t at his best yet, than Sydal, who was pretty damn good here. He was also exceedingly charismatic, on the mic and on his way out. Wonder where that charisma disappeared to in WWE?

–Cornette’s back out to cut another promo on Homicide (or as he calls him, Homo-cide). Cornette gives his usual energetic hate-promo against Homicide. Imagine what he does regularly against Steen, just replace all the fat jokes with street thug or Hispanic jokes. Cornette finally goes as far as to call Homicide out to challenge him for a fight. At this point Cornette was basically a heel commissioner, although he took great pains to point out previously that he was not doing a heel commish angle and strictly had a problem with Homicide. Homicide gets ahold of Cornette and sets him up for the Cop Killa, but Cornette is bailed out by The Briscoes, who attempt to hit the Spike J-Driller on Homicide until Samoa Joe makes the save, setting up the Falls Count Anywhere street fight later in the show.

–A Six Man Mayhem match is next, featuring some young talent, many of whom are from the ROH training camp. We have “M-Dogg 20” Matt Cross, famous for failing to impress on the most recent season of Tough Enough. We have Pelle Primeau, who was talented but ridiculously small, even by ROH standards. We have Top of the Class winner Shane Hagadorn, who was always involved in ROH’s low card in one way or the other around this time and later became a manager for the Kings of Wrestling. We have both members of Irish Airborne, Dave & Jake Crist, who are now currently the Juggalo Championship Wrestling tag champs under masks as the Ring Rydas. Finally, still using the Embassy theme music despite Prince Nana having left ROH the very night before, we have Jimmy Rave. The gimmick with Rave, at the time, was that when he posed in the ring during his entrance, rather than the fans throwing streamers in the ring the way they would for a main event, they throw rolls of toilet paper at him. Pretty fun stuff, and one I’d love to see the ROH regulars adopt for someone nowadays, since Rave is semi-retired and working as a counselor at a rehab facility after having been a patient himself. Watching this back, I’m struck by how much talent and charisma Shane Hagadorn really had. Unfortunately, not many people have ever looked more like “just another guy” than Hagadorn, and he had no physique worth speaking of. Cross, as many who have watched him over the years will tell you, is actually a very decent athletic wrestler, and was probably written into Tough Enough as someone who was marked for failure. At one juncture he attempts a through-the-ropes baseball slide dropkick on Rave, which Rave ducks, and Cross held on, pulled himself straight back through the ropes, and hit it again. Words don’t do it justice, it was a cool athletic spot that looked like something John Morrison or Kofi Kingston would do today. Later he also dropped the rest of the fray with a Space Flying Tiger Drop. Rave was the biggest star in the match at this point, which is what made it a surprise when Pelle Primeau scored a surprise Stunner on him and the shock victory. Pretty fun for a trainwreck match, and it’s too bad to see that six years later the most successful amongst all these guys are the two wrestling for Insane Clown Posse. That’s wrestling for ya, I guess.

–For the ROH title, we have “American Dragon” Bryan Danielson vs. Austin Aries, a feud that had gone on for a long time in ROH and had headlined a number of shows, including Enter The Dragon a year prior (I have that one too, and if you play your cards right…..). In some ways, it’s really surprising that these two are two of the biggest stars in wrestling today, and in some ways it’s completely obvious, because they are clearly world-class workers. Aries was still an acquired taste for some people, as far as his semi-comedic offense went at this point (that goddamn Pendulum Elbow, bleh) but there was no denying he could put on a great match every time, especially with Danielson, who he had great chemistry with. Seeing Danielson during this time, no one ever believed he’d even make it to WWE, let alone be a World champion and main eventer. He was still wearing plain solid-color trunks, had very little muscle tone, and didn’t wear kneepads or kickpads on his boots. Couple that with his buzz cut, and he looked pretty much like a ringer for Bob Backlund (and he even used a Crossface Chickenwing at times). At least he still had “The Final Countdown” as his entrance music. Aries looks more or less like he does these days. Danielson was ostensibly the heel here, although the crowd still gave him support by doing the dueling “Austin Aries” and “Let’s go Dragon” chants. I won’t attempt to do any play by play here, as these two put on a clinic. Part of what made these two work so well together was that Danielson would put on his usual mat-wrestling clinic and could really get the crowd riled up against him with his smug heel schtick, and Aries could hang with Danielson on the mat but had the more explosive flashy offense, with his high flying moves and power spots. So Danielson could grind Aries down into the mat while mouthing off the fans the whole time and get the heat going, and then Aries could make his big comebacks on his feet and the crowd would pop huge. They had it worked out to a science, and yet their matches never really got repetitive. At the end it looked like Aries was going to finish it off, hitting the Brainbuster and then attempting a 450. Danielson moved out of the way of the 450 and Aries landed on his feet and rolled through, only for Danielson to counter into a small package for the quick win. I love those “slip on a banana peel” finishes because it makes both guys look good: Danielson for being smart and crafty enough to get the clean win, and Aries for having his opponent all but beat until one little window of opportunity lost it for him. Both guys looked like a million bucks here, and it wasn’t as long as some of Danielson’s usual hour-long epics. I’d say this looked like two stars in the making, but at this point they already were stars, and it’s gratifying to know that WWE and TNA have learned to agree.

Samoa Joe rushes out to attack Danielson, who he was feuding with at the time (the two would have one of my all-time favorite ROH matches in a cage at Chi-Town Spectacular) and is immediately cut off by The Briscoes while Homicide runs out to fill out our main event. The coolest thing about this match is that if they really wanted to they could have had a great traditional tag match with lots of mat wrestling and power moves, but they could just as well have a bloody brawl. For this one we got a little sampling of both. Things started out in the ring with some traditional tag work. Jay & Joe did a lot against each other, as they had a long history. A dive to the outside from Mark onto his opponents brought this one out of the ring, where the street fight aspect came into play. Well you don’t need to ask Joe twice: he started throwing half the chairs in the building over the rail onto Jay, while Homicide picked up the fallen ones to club Mark. He also suplexed Mark into a row of upright chairs, and then reversed a charge with a back body drop onto more upright chairs, before simply throwing several of them into Mark’s head. (Nigel would not approve, needless to say). Not to be outdone, Joe even powerslammed Jay through a standing chair. The bumps Jay & Mark take here are absolutely sick, and show what tough fuckers they are for continuing to work after the fact. The action then spills outside the building, where most of the fans spill onto street to watch the Briscoes get thrown into a brick wall, literally (although Mark does a Tiger Mask dodge up the wall at one point, he still looked like he wiped himself out completely). Joe also scores a Razor’s Edge on Jay into the side of the production truck, ala Nash & Mysterio, but Mark finally turns the tide with a Shooting Star onto both men off the same said truck. That’s more or less the last we see of Joe for this match. A table conveniently placed outside the arena is enough for Homicide to go through, although it doesn’t quite break, leaving it for another double-flapjack into it and Jay finally standing on it, attempting to stomp it down. Not to be outdone, Homicide hiptosses both Briscoes through a table back inside, and it still doesn’t break, even after a subsequent suplex to Jay. Jay then slams Homicide into it and the legs bow down, though the table still doesn’t crack. Jesus, Orton sells more than those tables. It’s crazy to see the whole crowd full of fans literally following these guys through the arena, leaving whole sections of chairs empty and primed for bumping into. Back in, The Briscoes attempt at a springboard Doomsday Device is countered into a Cop Killer attempt by Homicide which is then reversed into a Spike J-Driller for the Briscoes win. The crowd gives them the appropriate “That Was Awesome” chant, though Jay heels it up on the mic by telling them that it’s the stupidest fucking chant he’s ever heard, before cussing them all out. That the Briscoes managed to stay standing after the sick bumps they took during that one is astounding. Just an absolutely brutal hardcore brawl, and one that focused more on the hard hitting bumps that each team was taking than bloodletting and slashing stuff. I wouldn’t doubt if this one match shaved a year or two off Jay & Mark’s careers, but it really sold the hatred between them & Homicide & Joe. Absolutely sick.

–As I said, this maybe wasn’t one of the crucial shows in ROH history, but the two main events made it an easy thumbs up and one of my favorites from my modest ROH video collection. I don’t know if this one is still in print, so I can’t necessarily say to check it out for yourself, but if you manage to find a copy, then it’s for sure worth the buy. Until ROH TV next week, you know the drill…