Fall of Rusev and Lana


Hi Scott,

Great article on creative's destruction of the great Lana and Rusev act.


All the best,
Oh yeah, I HATE what this feud is doing to everyone involved.  Poor Rusev has to travel on the road with a broken foot, too, in support of this abomination.  For a while there might have been an interesting dynamic if Lana had used her boob powers to make Ziggler into a Russian sympathizer or something different like that, but having to buy these two as an onscreen couple is even stretching the bounds of believability for a show where Nikki Bella is supposed to be a dominant champion.  Does any human being who actually watches the show buy that DOLPH ZIGGLER, who even in storyline has always been portrayed as a shameless poonhound, would suddenly be a virtuous white knight for Lana?  It's completely ridiculous and out of character for everyone involved.  And yeah, it's killing Lana as a character, like, completely.  They had the moment to turn her and make a big star, and they blew it, and now it's gone, probably forever.   

TNA rise and fall dvd matches

Hey Scott,

Thought this might be a good discussion for the blog. With the news of DA (allegedly) canceling impact, there must be a dvd in the near future from WWE about this ala ECW and WCW, right?

Aside from the standard documentary  , which matches would be included on the set? Aside from the Unbreakable three-way, and maybe a match from the first show, has TNA had any (allegedly) historic matches of any kind?

Thanks!
~Nick


​​
​Woof, good question.  Maybe an Ultimate X match of some kind?  Probably I'd go with a few representative matches to showcase the different styles of stuff they did (Full Metal Mayhem, Ultimate X, that other thing with the cage and the weapons) rather than trying to highlight specific things from their history.  Probably the Joe v. Angle matches would be the most historic, or something like Randy Savage's last match, I guess.  
Any better guesses?  ​

Fall Brawl 1999

Fall
Brawl 1999

Date:
September 12, 1998
Location: Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial
Coliseum, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Attendance:
7,491
Commentators: Tony Schiavone, Mike Tenay, Bobby Heenan
Reviewed by Tommy Hall
Well
we had to get here eventually, even though I don’t think people
wanted to. The main event here is Sting vs. Hogan for the title and
Goldberg vs. Page because those are fresh matches. We also get to
see the Revolution rising up the card in a big No DQ tag match and
Benoit defending the US Title against one of the draws in Sid, who is
nice enough to give Benoit a main event rub. This is also the first
show without Bischoff at the helm so some of the details could be
interesting. Let’s get to it.

We open with a video
that looks like it’s inspired by the Matrix with rapid fire text
behind shots of Sting, Luger and Hogan as they talk about who can
trust each other. Hogan will NEVER screw Sting of course.
The
announcers, all wearing black ribbons in honor of Mark Curtis (nice
touch), aren’t sure who should trust who either. Sid is officially
79-0 coming into tonight, because they wanted to match Goldberg’s
Streak but couldn’t even keep their fake wins even with Goldberg
fighting for the title in his 75th
match.
Video
on the Clowns vs. the actual wrestlers. The point of the video is
about whether they’re wrestlers or musicians plus something about
Eddie and Vampiro not liking each other in Mexico. Nothing is
mentioned about the Clowns and Vampiro recruiting various wrestlers,
making it even more pointless than it seemed before.
The set is a big FALL
BRAWL sign with the letters being used as the video screen. As I’m
sure you can guess, this makes the video almost impossible to see,
meaning WCW managed to screw up the idea of A BIG SCREEN.
Insane Clown
Posse/Vampiro vs. Eddie Guerrero/Rey Mysterio Jr./Kidman
Same
opener as last month. Mysterio now has bleached blond hair and the
same attire as Kidman. We pause a bit as the heels are scared
because they’ve never seen the color yellow. Xanthophobists. The
stalling begins as Heenan points out the resemblance between Violent
J. (with hair as blond as Mysterio) and Brian Knobbs. Kidman and
Shaggy finally get things going with Shaggy sending Kidman into
Vampiro’s boot. A dropkick puts Mr. 2 Dope (or is it Mr. Dope? His
parents gave him the middle name 2?) down and they botch a
wheelbarrow slam into a guillotine legdrop from Rey.
Eddie
adds the slingshot hilo and the Clown is in early trouble. Mysterio
hits the springboard falling splash before throwing him over for a
tag to J. A catapult sends him into the buckle and the Clowns do the
fake tag bit to bring in Vampiro. It’s off to Kidman who dropkicks
Vampiro back into the corner, meaning we get more Clowns. Oh how
blessed we truly are. J. scores with a chop (wow he can stick his
hand out!) and it’s back to Vampiro for a good powerbomb on Kidman
(that’s twice in two weeks. Kidman must be sick) for two.
A
top rope spinwheel kick to the hands gets two for Vampiro as Tony
gets in the revelation of the night, saying he used to braid his hair
like Vampiro. Thankfully Tenay doesn’t let that by but Tony gets
away from it as fast as he can. Back to J. for a weak chop before
Kidman nails him with a clothesline. Rey comes in with the
springboard seated senton and a Lionsault for two but the Clowns
cheat to take Mysterio outside. Shaggy even needs help whipping Rey
into the barricade.
Back
in for a chinlock and some horrible stomps from Shaggy. Vampiro goes
after Eddie and Kidman but it allows Rey to tag in Eddie to speed
things up. A quick mule kick puts Guerrero down though and it’s back
to J. for a side slam. Shaggy drops a top rope legdrop, which barely
grazes Eddie’s forehead for two. There is zero reason to allow them
to do high risk moves like that when they clearly can’t do them
right. If nothing else it’s not fair to Eddie to lay there with his
head and neck in danger like that.
Everything breaks down
and Shaggy and Vampiro HORRIBLY botch something like a 3D with
Vampiro sitting instead of falling and Shaggy losing his grip on
Eddie, turning it into more of an assisted backdrop than anything
else. Rey is down on the floor and seems to be hurt. Vampiro
gutwrench superplexes Kidman but eats a missile dropkick from Eddie,
who looks ticked off. The shooting star from Kidman is enough to pin
Vampiro.
Rating:
D-.
I feel so, so sorry for the Filthy Animals here as they were in there
with guys who had no business in the ring and had to babysit them.
Eddie had to take that legdrop on his head and the botched 3D and
Mysterio got hurt (might not have been the Clowns’ fault to be fair).
These guys should be on the Revolution’s level right now (Eddie
would be fine as a mouthpiece instead of Shane) but instead they’re
in these bad opening matches because they have one talented guy to
work with instead of three, putting them at a huge and unsafe
handicap.
The Revolution
guarantees a clean sweep tonight.
We recap Lenny Lane
winning the Cruiserweight Title, which is basically just him sending
Rey into Lodi and rolling him up for the pin. Kaz Hayashi pinned
Lenny in a match against Lodi and that’s enough for the title shot.
Of course these guys couldn’t keep an eye on the Clowns while the
other three fight over the title.
Cruiserweight Title:
Kaz Hayashi vs. Lenny Lane
Lodi
has at least toned it down a bit and is just covered in glitter and
wearing leather pants. It’s amazing how much different Tony is
without Bischoff around as he’s staying on the stories and matches
without saying anything overly stupid. Feeling out process to start
until Lane prances around the ring. Kaz fires off some kicks to the
leg and kicks Lenny in the back to pull him down into a sunset flip
for two. That’s a new one. A nice headscissors sends Lane to the
floor and he jumps into Lodi’s arms in an old standard. Kaz dives
onto both of them and the champ is still in trouble.
Lodi
finally gets something right by tripping Hayashi to give Lane
control. A sitout wheelbarrow slam gets two on Kaz and it’s time to
pose. Lane hits a nice sitout gutwrench powerbomb for two as this
match is actually pretty good so far. Kaz gets back up and sends
Lenny outside for a big flip dive. The advantage is short lived
though as Lodi gets in a cheap shot to give Lenny control again.
We
hit the chinlock with Chris Jericho look-a-like Lenny Lane telling
the referee to ask him. Hayashi escapes a German suplex and gets two
off a standing hurricanrana, only to get bulldogged down for the
same. The champ gets caught in a belly to back and a running Liger
Bomb out of the corner gets two more with Lodi making the save. You
can tell Bischoff is gone as Tony actually knew the name of the move.

Kaz
is crotched on top and you can see the glitter all over his back.
Lenny and Lodi almost collide, allowing Kaz to grab a victory roll
for two more. Lodi’s next attempt at cheating works though as he
snaps Kaz throat first across the top rope, setting up a Skull
Crushing Finale to retain Lenny’s title.
Rating:
C+.
Why do I have a bad feeling we just saw the match of the night? This
was far better than I was expecting, which isn’t saying much as I
didn’t expect anything from this one. It’s a totally acceptable and
at times quite good match with Kaz being a good choice as challenger
of the week to Lane’s title, even though he’s just keeping it warm
until we get to a bigger name to take over as champion.
Here’s
Sting for the pay per view interview before his title shot in the
main event. First up, Luger is on the verge of losing their
friendship forever. Tonight is beyond big for Sting so if Luger
sticks his nose in his business tonight, it’s the same result as it
was last week. I’m assuming he means earlier this week on Monday
when Sting punched him but you can’t expect grown men to remember
things like days of the week. Sting takes the mic and says his ninth
title reign could start tonight because it’s showtime folks. This
really didn’t need to be on pay per view.
We
recap the Revolution vs. the First Family and I still have no idea
why this match is happening.
Shane Douglas/Dean
Malenko vs. Hugh Morrus/Brian Knobbs
No
DQ for reasons that have yet to be explained. Shane says we’re in
Saginaw, Michigan, which to be fair is where they taped Thunder a
mere ten days earlier. It’s a brawl to start, which is what it
should be in a No DQ match. Morrus easily stomps Shane down on the
floor, leaving Dean to beat up both villains on his own. Shane comes
back in to low blow both guys as you can see the fans leaving to go
to the concession stands.
The
First Family poses outside so some baseball slides (baseball grab the
rope and kick for Shane) knock them into the aisle. The announcers
do everything they can to put the First Family over as a major threat
and a good team, even as Malenko and Douglas send them into the
steps. Lots of punching abounds until we settle down to Knobbs vs.
Shane in the ring. Brian gives him the Pit Stop before it’s off to
Malenko to armdrag the legal Morrus. Hugh hammers away in the corner
but charges into Shane’s boots.
Back
to Dean as you can still see about ten seats opposite the hard camera
sitting empty. They head outside with Brian sending Shane into the
barricade but Douglas trips Morrus off the apron to take over. Back
in and Knobbs slams Shane down, only to dive into a raised boot. The
hot tag brings in Dean to clean house as the fans really aren’t
interested. Could it be because he’s beating up some goofs who
should be headlining Saturday Night? Knobbs is sent to the floor
where he trips Dean, allowing Morrus to plant him with a slam,
setting up No Laughing Matter for the pin. It really was that
sudden.
Rating:
G.
As in good grief just close the doors now. I know the big match
coming later that people usually rant about on this show, but this
one is far more absurd. At least with the other one it’s a big name
going over an up and comer. This is putting two young(ish) guys down
for the sake of pushing BRIAN KNOBBS??? To make it even worse, the
First Family would win a total of two more televised matches for the
rest of the year, meaning this didn’t even lead anywhere.
This
comes off as more of a political move than anything else, as WCW can
now say the fans aren’t behind the Revolution because fans rarely
cheer teams that lose completely clean to low level tag teams on pay
per view. “See? The fans don’t like them so there’s no point in
pushing them. Maybe they can put over the Rednecks again so we can
laugh at those southern idiots cheering a couple of cowboys.” The
No DQ stuff didn’t mean anything else as they were only on the floor
in the first part of the match.
I
watched this match out of context a few years back and I was more
angry than anything else. Watching it again, with all the Nitros and
Thunders to give it context, it’s more sad now. Somehow seeing these
two jugheads beat the team that should be helping bring WCW into the
new generation doesn’t surprise me. It’s something that makes sense
for WCW and makes me wonder how Dean and company managed to stay as
long as they did. That’s sad.
Tony
immediately brings up Saturn being wrong about guaranteeing a sweep
tonight, just to emphasize that the Revolution is a bunch of losers.
We recap Saturn vs.
Steiner which is little more than old vs. new for old’s TV Title,
which he’s already said is worthless and doesn’t even carry with him.
TV
Title: Perry Saturn vs. Rick Steiner
As
usual, the announcers talk about Scott Steiner like he’s here every
week even though he hasn’t been seen in about four months. Steiner
immediately takes Saturn down and hits him in the face as we’re told
that Buff Bagwell hasn’t arrived yet so there will be a replacement
for his match with Berlyn.
Saturn
speeds things up with a superkick and spinning springboard legdrop to
send the champ outside, setting up a nice suicide dive. The fans
aren’t reacting to these moves but they’re nice at least. Back in
and a release German gets two on the champ but he kicks Saturn
between the legs (thankfully the referee wasn’t looking for a change)
to take over. Tenay talks about Mark Curtis passing away and you can
tell the announcers really cared for him.
Saturn
is sent outside and into the steps, followed by an exposed DDT on the
concrete. Now in 1986, that started a big house show feud between
Jake Roberts and Ricky Steamboat. Here, it doesn’t keep Saturn off
his feet for thirty seconds. Steiner hits a good looking release
German for two and we hit the reverse chinlock to keep the crowd
comatose. Now it’s a kneeling half crab, making Saturn slap the mat
to get the crowd fired up, which isn’t tapping out because of…..uh,
reasons.
Steiner
clearly isn’t even pulling back on the hold to make this an even
bigger laughingstock. Thankfully Saturn doesn’t bother to sell it
and hits a middle rope dropkick and a modified t-bone suplex for two
of his own. The Death Valley Driver gets the same to make it clear
that Steiner is retaining. He rams Saturn stomach first into the
buckle but gets crotched on top. It’s more false hope though as
Steiner shoves him off the ropes and hits the bulldog to retain.
Rating:
D.
Saturn was trying but you can’t out work stupid booking. I have no
idea who thought keeping the title on Steiner was a good idea at this
point but they must have had a lot of stroke. The TV Title isn’t
going to make it to the middle of April (and would be gone for about
two and a half months in between) and it’s this reign that killed it.
The matches haven’t been good (his opponents’ halves have been
watchable but that’s about it) and the fans just do not react to him.
Plus there was that time when he said the title was worthless. Why
keep the title around if there’s nothing to it?
Tony keeps piling on
the Revolution and makes it worse by bringing up Goldberg beating
Steiner last month, just to emphasize how many people there are that
are better than Saturn.
Hogan
is sick of the wrestlers questioning him. He’s promised his kids
that he will not stab Sting in the back because he would have done it
a long time ago. Tonight, he’s taking care of Sting and he’ll take
care of Luger later. Ignore the WE WANT FLAIR chants during this
segment because Flair isn’t a draw, especially in the Carolinas.
The announcers
speculate about Hogan being worried. They really picked now to kill
time after three straight heel wins?
Berlyn vs. ???
Berlyn
has a big bodyguard with him meaning the horrible blonde interpreter
seems to be gone. The replacement opponent……Jim Duggan. Berlyn
jumps him before the bell but a dropkick doesn’t put Duggan down.
Some clotheslines send Berlyn over the top and out to the floor for a
USA chant. After some stalling, an atomic drop sends Berlyn into the
corner as it’s almost all Duggan.
Berlyn kicks him in the
ribs and grabs a headlock before Jim no sells a European uppercut.
An eye poke finally slows him down and we hit the chinlock to kill
whatever momentum they were getting. Duggan fights up and drives
some shoulders into the ribs before they hit the mat for something
resembling a wrestling sequence, which is somehow even worse than you
would expect. Now they just stand there and look at each other until
Berlyn hooks the worst snapmare this side of Dusty vs. Flair at
Starrcade 1985.
We hit another chinlock
as Heenan says this looks like two winos fighting over a bottle on
the sidewalk. Bobby gets in an easy set of jokes about a hair
takedown (“Is that German? When I’m over there it’s Herr Heenan
and Okerlund is still Herr less.”) as they head outside for the yet
to be named Wall to run Duggan over with a clothesline. Back in and
they finally end this mess with Berlyn hitting a sitdown neckbreaker,
which Duggan sells by falling backwards onto him.
Rating:
F.
As much as I’d love to blast Berlyn, this was almost all on Duggan.
He wouldn’t sell and spent most of the match making goofy faces
instead of doing anything productive. The announcers were more into
the bodyguard than the match, but can you blame them after this mess?
This was pretty much it for Berlyn as he wouldn’t recover from this
mess. I feel bad for him as this is the second time this happened to
Wright. You might remember SuperBrawl V in 1995, where Paul Roma
basically did the exact same thing. That’s some horrible luck.
We
cut to the back to see Buff Bagwell who says he can be ready in two
minutes but agent Mike Graham says the format has already been
changed. Buff hits the ring but Duggan is mad at him. From what I
can find, Bagwell didn’t want to do the job so they sent Duggan out
there instead. As unprofessional as that is, can you blame Bagwell?
He was supposed to get this big push and then Piper wouldn’t put him
over in a wrestling match and Bagwell’s push was gone, so now he’s
supposed to job to Alex Wright in a gimmick that has already bombed?
As usual, WCW seems to be a huge mess behind and in front of the
camera.
Quick
recap of the Tag Team Title feud. The Rednecks cheated to win the
belts and Harlem Heat wants their rematch. After all this mess
tonight, a simple story like that sounds great.
Tag Team Titles:
Harlem Heat vs. West Texas Rednecks
Kendall
Windham in a spot this big doesn’t sound good however. Curly Bill
isn’t here, which is probably best for everyone involved. Curt
however is here with the cowbell. Heenan brings up the Steiners as
the most dominant tag team of all time (because where would we be
without praising them in 1999?) and Tony says they were the best team
of the 1980s, despite wrestling for a year at most in that decade.
After
a brawl to start it’s Booker kicking Kendall down before Barry comes
in and getting double suplexed. There’s a big boot to Barry’s face
as the crowd is trying to get into this for some reason. Then the
tag brings in Kendall and the fans go right back down, which WCW
never seemed to learn. Stevie stares at Kendall for trying to punch
him but a right hand from Barry puts him down. Barry just looks
horribly out of shape and it’s a very good thing that he’s wrestling
in a t-shirt.
Curt
doesn’t seem to be paying attention as a double clothesline gets two
on Stevie. Ray powerslams him down and it’s off to Kendall vs.
Booker with T. taking over with the usual kicks. Hennig gets on the
apron but Booker kicks Kendall down again, sending all three Rednecks
to the floor. Booker follows them out and gets beaten up as Stevie
is too slow getting over for the save.
Back
in and Booker shrugs off Kendall’s lame offense and hits the ax kick,
only to have Barry clothesline him down. Hennig gets in some cheap
shots as Stevie gets held back by the referee. Barry’s superplex
gets two with Stevie finally getting the timing right on the save.
The spinning sunset flip out of the corner gets two for Booker as
this match just keeps going. The referee doesn’t see the tag to
Stevie and the Rednecks cheat even more.
Kendall
gets two off a middle rope clothesline and Stevie doesn’t even have
to move from the apron to make the save. They redo the missed tag
spot but this time Stevie just beats the Windhams up anyway.
Everything breaks down and Curt hits Stevie with the cowbell but the
referee doesn’t see the cover. Booker comes in off the top with the
missile dropkick to give the Heat the belts back.
Rating:
D.
And that’s being generous because I’ve failed a lot of matches
tonight. This was so boring as it went on about five minutes longer
than it should have and didn’t get anywhere. Harlem Heat getting the
belts back is definitely the right move, but we’re right back where
we were after Road Wild went off the air. This show is long past the
point of saving and this didn’t help things. It doesn’t help that
this is the sixth match and the second won by good guys. Side note:
this is the eleventh title change of the year (counting vacations)
and we’re eight and a half months into the year. There would be
eight more coming.
We
recap the Sid Vicious Streak and Benoit challenging him because
that’s what a good, young wrestler does. Sid even called Benoit the
only member of the Revolution that stood out. Here’s his reward for
impressing Sid.
US Title: Sid
Vicious vs. Chris Benoit
I
love how the announcers just talk about Sid’s streak like it’s legit
and the same as Goldberg’s, even after showing us how he got there.
Tenay brings up the disaster that was the battle royal competition on
Monday to get things going. We start with the stalling as referee
Charles Robinson is accused of being a Sid cheerleader. Sid shoves
Benoit down and stops to yell at the fans. Tony: “That was a big
moment for Sid.” Sid knocks him to the floor with a shoulder as
the announcers are already treating this like a mismatch.
Back
in and Sid hammers away before choking on the ropes. A dragon screw
leg whip puts Sid down and Benoit starts working on the knee like a
smart wrestler would. An Indian deathlock makes Sid scream as the
empty seats are showing up again. The fans chant for Goldberg as Sid
gets back up and kicks at Benoit in the corner. A running boot
misses but confirms that Sid isn’t interested in selling the knee.
Benoit wraps the knee around the post and crushes them between the
post and steps (Tony: “HOLY CHRISTMAS!”) twice in a row.
Sid
is thrown back inside and easily catches Benoit’s top rope cross
body, even lifting up his good knee to drive into Benoit’s back,
meaning he’s holding Benoit up on the bad leg alone thirty seconds
after Benoit crushed it against the post. All hope is lost. Benoit
muscles him over with a German but Sid pops up and hits a Samoan drop
to counter a crucifix attempt. A cobra clutch puts Benoit down again
and we hit the chinlock (with Sid’s hands around Benoit’s face and no
pressure on the back because Sid CAN’T EVEN DO A CHINLOCK PROPERLY)
because all this no selling has made Sid tired.
Benoit
fights up and tries a sunset flip but Sid just sits on him to stop
any comeback attempt. Another dropkick to the knee puts Sid down and
there’s the Crossface. Sid SLAPS THE MAT but it’s hitting the mat in
disgust instead of tapping. My goodness this is killing my soul.
Sid of course gets to stand up and break the hold but is nice enough
to fall back down with his foot in the ropes. Not that it matters as
Sid avoids the Swan Dive and powerbombs Benoit for the pin and the
title.
Rating:
S.
For Screw You WCW. Seriously screw you. Benoit was doing everything
he could out there to tell a story by going after the knee and trying
to break Sid down but Sid just gets up and does whatever he wants
because WCW is run by a bunch of incompetent morons. It’s even a
theme tonight.
The
Clowns get on the show because they’re famous (to a niche group of
fans of course but when has that ever stopped WCW?) and WCW sends out
its talented guys to baby sit them. The First Family gets to beat
Malenko and Douglas completely clean because well why not. Then Rick
Steiner gets to keep his title because they haven’t buried that thing
enough yet. Bagwell, who is a veteran at this point as he’s been in
WCW for over eight years, doesn’t feel like losing so we have to
watch Duggan be a disaster (and likely not get punished for no
selling) and then see Bagwell do a run-in anyway, meaning he likely
got a PPV pay day.
Then
the Windhams still have jobs despite Barry not being in good enough
shape to wrestle without a t-shirt on (which is too small and we can
still see his huge gut). Then there’s this mess, which results in
Benoit being pushed down the card and Sid getting the biggest push he
ever had in WCW because they can’t get any worse than this right?
I’m so glad Benoit and company would be gone soon because no one who
works hard even at all deserves to go through this.
And
just to top it off. Tony: “He earned win #80 here.” Again, make
sure you emphasize that the Revolution is just not good enough in
case someone thinks otherwise.
We recap Page vs.
Goldberg, which is basically Goldberg destroying the Triad to give
him something to do before the big showdown with Sid.
Goldberg vs. Diamond
Dallas Page
Tenay
brings up the Halloween Havoc match from last year before admitting
that it’s a completely different Page now. We get an old school
weapons check….and the referee finds a chain. And a roll of coins!
That right there is the only funny thing we’re going to see all
night. Goldberg slugs Page to the floor and the stalling is already
on. Back in and Page gets caught in a headlock before getting shoved
into the corner a few times.
A shoulder sends Page
back outside where he threatens to leave if the Goldberg chants don’t
stop. They head into the crowd with Goldberg getting the better of
it, as if you would expect anything else. Back in and the Diamond
Cutter is countered into a powerslam. Page shoves the referee down
and kicks Goldberg low before pulling out a third weapon to knock
Goldberg silly. We hit the standard heel slowdown offense as Page
hits him with the object again. Thankfully the referee wasn’t
looking for no apparent reason.
Off to the chinlock as
this torture continues. Goldberg Hulks Up but gets caught in a bad
looking float over DDT for two. Page tries a spear but gets suplexed
down for two as the Triad is here. Kanyon breaks something over the
back of Goldberg’s head (drawing blood from the neck) and setting up
a left armed Rock Bottom from Page for two more. Not that it matters
as the spear and Jackhammer finish Page with ease.
Rating:
D.
One of the best matches of the night here despite being an exercise
in how long can we stay in Memphis before Page comes back and pins
Page. DDP was not working as a heel here with most of his heat
coming from Yo Mama jokes and then bad matches following. Nothing to
see here as the match was never once in doubt, especially with Sid
looming (and still not selling anything as he waits).
We recap Hogan vs.
Sting, which again is over trust or some nonsense like that involving
the Hummer, because that thing just won’t die.
WCW World Title:
Hulk Hogan vs. Sting
Buffer
says Sting has no affiliation. Hogan doesn’t really either does he?
Before the bell, here’s Bret Hart (Buffer: “Only to pass on his
offer of good luck for both men. He’s from the First Family of
wrestling.” Please, no more First Family tonight. They’ve done
enough.” Bret leaves without incident and I’m sure we won’t see
him again. They shove each other around to start and exchange pokes
in the chest. Hogan works on a wristlock before taking Sting down
for something like an STF without the legs being tied together.
Great. I have to put up with 15 minutes of Hulk Thesz tonight.
Hogan
yells at some fans for some reason before driving knees to the ribs
in the corner. You can see even more empty seats near the back of
the arena and it’s hard to argue at this point. Sting actually hits
the big jumping elbow drop for two and it’s off to the test of
strength. Hogan kicks him in the ribs (called a knee by Tony) but
Sting no sells a suplex. Oh no he’s been watching Sid tapes.
They
fight to the floor with Hogan talking about it being for the World
Title and choking with a cord. He’s definitely wrestling as
Hollywood tonight. Back in and a belly to back suplex gets two on
Sting and we hit another chinlock. Off to an abdominal stretch as
Hogan’s dominance continues. Right hands in the corner have Sting in
even more trouble and we’re just waiting on the interference.
Sting
gets two of his own off a cross body and hits two Stinger Splashes
but misses the third. It’s already Hulk Up time and the big boot
clearly doesn’t make contact. Cue DDP to nail the referee as the
legdrop connects. A Diamond Cutter puts Hogan down and Sting is put
on top but Hogan kicks out at two. That’s a Diamond Cutter for the
referee and another Hulk Up.
Now
Hart comes back in to take out Page but Sid comes out as well, only
to take the big boot to the shoulder (which he sells more than all of
Benoit’s offense combined because of course he does). Luger comes in
but drops the bat he was carrying, allowing Sting to nail Hogan
(drawing the pop of the night), setting up the Deathlock on the
unconscious Hogan for the title.
Rating:
D.
You have to be a really, REALLY stupid company to turn Sting heel but
they somehow did it. This wasn’t the worst main event ever, but they
clearly didn’t have any way to make someone lose here so they went
with the big mess instead. I can live with that and the match wasn’t
completely horrible, but again, they’re trying to turn Sting heel and
as anyone who has watched wrestling for more than 18 seconds can tell
you, that is never going to work.
Luger
and Sting celebrate as Heenan is thrilled with Hogan getting stabbed
in the back to end the show.
Overall
Rating:
Agoobwa.
The level of failure this show hits is beyond words. They have
somehow managed to do almost every possible thing wrong on a single
show and somehow made it even worse. I’m thinking of the good things
on this show and it’s a very short list: Kaz vs. Lane was match of
the night by about ten miles, Page having weapons on him was a funny
bit, and…..someone help me out here. What else was good on this
show?
It
takes a very special kind of show for me to get mad fifteen years
after it aired when I already know the results. Somehow this show
did it as it took me all day to make myself sit through this mess.
WCW managing to stick around as long as they did is astounding to me
as there is no reason to stick around after watching something like
this.
This
is being written six days after the 2015 Royal Rumble, which made a
lot of people say WWE was a disaster. Whenever you get annoyed at
WWE, go back and watch some late 1999 WCW and your perspective will
change. WWE today is light years ahead of this as you can at least
get more than one good match and there’s an actual story (albeit
somewhat misguided) in the main event. This show consistently goes
against every possible thing people could want to see and seems to
encourage its veterans to screw up and destroy the future.
I
can’t believe I’m saying this, but this is actually worse than Heroes
of Wrestling, which aired about a month after this. Yeah Heroes of
Wrestling is a disaster, but it’s a disaster in a way that you can
laugh at it. This show on the other hand felt more cruel than
anything else. It felt like they were trying to be as stupid and
short sighted as they could while taking the fans’ money at the same
time. WCW has officially hit rock bottom and things can only get
better with Russo. I mean that literally. I cannon imagine things
actually getting worse than this.

Remember to check out my website at kbwrestlingreviews.com and head over to my Amazon author page with wrestling books for under $4 at:

http://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Hall/e/B00E6282W6

The Rise and Fall of Kurt Angle


Hey, Scott.

I grew up watching wrestling but was super into it during the Attitude Era. I came to love Kurt Angle and then missed the era where he and Brock were battling for the title, and I guess his departure. What the heck happened that he burned his WWE bridges for good?

Related, following his entire career and seeing its progression into TNA makes me feel bleh about the whole thing. I remember the stories of him going to see ECW and then being appalled by that whole scene. Flash forward some years and he's allegedly not allowed back to WWE because of drugs and being a health risk due to his neck, I can't help but feel bad for him. 

Granted, I don't know what other stories there are, but I feel like this is just as bad as seeing a wresting go out due to an early heart-attack. He just seems like a guy that you'll read about on TMZ one day and another statistic that the world of pro wrestling totally consumed. 

Kurt was given a choice in 2006 of attending rehab or getting fired, and he chose getting fired.  I think that with all the Wellness changes that resulted from Benoit's death, in particular the more stringent physicals that led to guys like MVP finding undiagnosed issues, Kurt wouldn't have lasted much longer anyway.  Which is why his dreams of returning are probably gonna go unfulfilled.  

WCW Fall Brawl 1996: September 15, 1996

I apologize for falling over a week behind in my recaps – I am on VACATION and ON LOCATION from lovely Cape Cod, Mass. I expected to have time to keep on top of these bad boys, but we’ve been so busy it’s been made impossible.
It’s been a wild few weeks since Hog Wild came to an end. We’ve seen the nWo expand from 3 members, to somewhere between 5 and 7 (depending on whether or not we count DiBiase and Nick Patrick). A mysterious voice lingers and threatens us all as #8. WCW says Glacier debuted, but the only footage that exists seems to be of him posing, which we’ve already seen for 6 months. And speaking of at least 6 months, Scott Norton and Ice Train continue to be prominently featured even though nobody seems to have any interest in their feud. DDP has started a war with the Guerrero family, and may or may not be in bed with Nick Patrick and the nWo. Chip Minton and The Gambler haven’t won matches, and High Voltage has won too many. Konnan discovered the secret door to the Dungeon of Doom, and was not eaten by Braun, which is more than we can say about poor Chad Brock (RIP). Steven Regal won the TV title and was never seen again, everyone’s a traitor, and Chris Cruise is unbearable.
I think we’re up to date.

This is the first one I’ve done via the WWE Network stream – which you can watch along with me.
LIVE from Winston Salem, NC, our hosts are TONY SCHIAVONEBOBBY HEENAN, andDUSTY RHODES. Heenan says the guys in the back are trading bets that tonight is the nWo’s final match. Which means SOMEONE is betting on the nWo, so I’d suggest smoking those guys out and annihilating them. Nobody knows who WCW’s fourth guy is, with Sting having defected to the nWo.
The fans are clad in a sea of nWo shirts. WCW is just printing money at this point.
DIAMOND DALLAS PAGE vs. CHAVO GUERRERO JR.
So at the Clash of Champions a month ago, Eddie defeated Page for the Battlebowl ring. Page immediately stole it back, and somehow that’s led to Chavo playing the role of surrogate for Eddie. Which would be fine if he had an ounce of Eddie’s talent or credibility, but this is an awful mismatch that has no business on pay-per-view. Chavo takes Page to the floor, and hits him with a slingshot tope. Page is tossed into the guardrail, and later in the ringsteps. The belt is ripped right off Page’s waist, and Chavo whips him. Heenan correctly points out that Chavo would have been disqualified if Patrick was reffing this thing. Back in the ring, a crossbody block gets 2. Chavo works the arm a little, presumably to prevent the Diamond Cutter. Page makes the ropes, but the useless RANDY ELLERdoesn’t force a break. If it was Nick Patrick, he’d already be eating it from Gene. Page escapes, but Chavo hits an armddrag, and hangs Page in the ropes. He tries a baseball slide dropkick, but Page gets out of the way and finally gets some offense in. Back in, Page hits a top rope clothesline and calls for the Diamond Cutter. Alas, it’s for naught. Chavo manages a small package, but Page wiggles loose and continues his assault. Page pantomimes kicking dirt over Guerrero, and paint brushes him with the boot. Pancake gets 2. Chavo tries to get a little something going, but eats Page’s elbow. Page goes to punt Chavo, but he rolls away and Page does the slip on the banana peel routine. A knee rocks Page, and Chavo follows with a springboard clothesline. Missile dropkick gets 2. Chavo goes back, and this time hits the super headscissors, but Page escapes at 2. Page blocks a charge with a back elbow, but even with his feet on the ropes he gets 2. Page launches Chavo so hard that he clears both top ropes and they find themselves in the second ring, drawing a loud pop. Chavo comes back with a rana, and a schoolboy gets 2. Page fires back with a 360 Powerbomb, again to a LOUD pop. He signals for the Diamond Cutter, and the fans are completely eating him up. Lo and behold, he delivers, and scores the pin at 13:07. It seems absolutely unbelievable how much Page has improved in just the last 6 months alone (because lord knows, I had to watch those matches 6 months ago), and even more unbelievably, the fans have noticed. Stardom is calling, Mr. Page. **1/2
Gene issues a special report, recapping the entire nWo saga to this point.
SCOTT NORTON vs. ICE TRAIN (with Teddy Long) (in a This Feud May Never Endsubmission match)
Submissions weren’t really common in WCW at this point, and outside of specialists like Benoit and Malenko, most guys used pinfalls. Including these big lugs. So it’s almost laughable that we’ve spent nearly a month using the B and C shows trying to build these guys up as submission gurus, when all they’ve been able to muster are lousy armbreakers. This is literally the most random gimmick they could have slapped on here, this side of a Cole Miner’s Glove match. Train hits his finisher, the big splash, seconds into the match. He goes for a second, but Norton rolls away, and plants him with a DDT. Train comes back, and applies his big finish, the chinlock. Amazingly, Norton doesn’t tap. Tony laments the loss of Fire and Ice in the tag-team division. I’m sure everyone else IN the division misses them too, since they never won any matches! Norton applies a cross armbreaker, and Teddy threatens to throw in the towel, but Eller tells him to get lost, it’s on Ice Train. We’re long before mainstream UFC, but the idea of a 90 second cross armbreaker from a guy with arms like Norton and NOT tapping is something I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around. Not only that, he then slams Norton with EASE, and applies what Tony calls a “Japanese armbar”. It’s basically a normal armbar, but smaller and more efficient. Train tries the big splash AGAIN, but Norton lifts his knees to block. A powerbomb hits, and Norton applies a Boston crab. Train won’t give, so Norton shifts and works the armbar. Teddy jumps on the apron, distracting Norton. Norton goes to kill him, but Train comes in behind with a full nelson, and Norton taps at 7:17. Ironic, because I think this feud has also lasted 7:17 (that being months:days). Is this the end? Do NOT bank on it. *1/2
JUVENTUD GUERRERA vs. KONNAN (with Jimmy Hart) (for the Mexican Vanity title)
MIKE TENAY hits the booth JUST in time to watch Juvi excitedly walk backwards right into the ringsteps and topple over. This could have happened on any one of the syndicated shows and been edited out, but he chose pay-per-view, and I couldn’t be more pleased.

Konnan gives Juvi the fist bump of respect, but it’s a trick, and he knees Juvi in the gut. The announcers fail to give the appropriate amount of respect to the Dungeon of Doom for teaching him such treachery, but Tenay DOES launch into a discussion of whether or not WCW tried to Americanize Konnan when he came to WCW. It matters not, because now he represents, cuz la raza represents him. Juvi nails Konnan with a triple springboard full body assault, and follows with a tope to the outside. Konnan ain’t having none of that, and powerbombs him on the floor, causing Jimmy Hart to scream “ARIBA LA RAZA!” I’m loving the fact that the Dungeon of Doom is made up of society’s dredge and weirdos, and that Jimmy Hart assumed that the Mexican guy NOT wearing a mask is clearly enough of a freak to join his gang (and was right). Juvi does a convoluted trip between the two rings, and then even more unbelievably he does a headscissors that propels Konnan over the ropes and back into ring #1. Juvi hasn’t impressed me thus far, he’s trying wayyyy too hard, instead of sticking the lucha basics. Konnan backdrops Juvi over the top, which hangs him over the 2nd ring’s ropes like a wet towel. Konnan works some mat holds, but releases. Juvi tries a springboard moonsault, but gets powerbombed for his trouble. A duplex of German suplexes shake Juvi up, and he takes a powder. Juvi works his way back in with a springboard missile dropkick, and the big legdrop gets 2. Juvi tries to sunset flip powerbomb Konnan off the apron and to the floor, but he blocks with the ropes and dropkicks Juvi. Back in, a double leg dropkick off the top gets 2. The two trade bridges, to no avail. Juvi hits a springboard spinning heel kick for 2. Juvi comes again, but Konnan hits the wheelbarrow suplex that gets a loud reaction. They get tied up in the ropes, giving Juvi the chance to hit a somersault guillotine off the top. He goes to finish with the Firebird splash, but Dusty doesn’t even stop telling his story to acknowledge the move so you know it’s not enough. Konnan blocks something in the corner, and nails the double leg slam, following with a bridge for 2. A super brainbuster gets 2, before Konnan finally finishes with Splash Mountain at 13:45. They tried, lord did they try, but it just never clicked to take it to the next level. It just felt like a bunch of moves instead of a story – something Juvi would get better at in the years to come. ***
CHRIS JERICHO vs. CHRIS BENOIT
Temper your expectations a little, Jericho’s a major wiener at this point and not the shit disturbing d-bag he’d become later on. Benoit gets a loud reception, since the show’s in the heart of Horsemen country. Benoit viciously attacks Jericho, with a nasty hairpull that might have concussed him, and the fans are loving it. Spinebuster is on point, and Benoit applies the Liontamer like a boss. And no, he didn’t steal it – in fact he was the one who taught it to Jericho. Jericho escapes, and turns it around with a dropkick to the back of Benoit’s head. A springboard dropkick sends Benoit to the floor, and he nearly kills himself trying a springboard elbowdrop off the top, tripping mid move and falling headfirst – thankfully blocked by Benoit. Jericho’s unshaken, and heads up to a loud set of boos, and the missile dropkick gets 2. A powerbomb gets 2. The pair start trading violent chops, which Jericho ruins with a spinning heel kick. Benoit comes back with a snap suplex from the apron that sends Jericho to the floor. Jericho is sent face first to the ring post, and Benoit asks him if he wants to be famous? I REALLY recommend he NOT answer yes. Hotshot hangs Jericho out to dry, and a double forearm smash gets 2. Over to the abdominal stretch, which Benoit sells beautifully by turning himself purple while he pulls, and screams “ASK HIM!!!” Scoop slam sets up the swandive, and it’s one of the nicest ones you’ll ever see. Jericho manages the energy to apply a backslide for 2, but Benoit’s up and stomping on him before anything else develops. Benoit goes back to the Liontamer, but this time Jericho rolls forward and holds for 2. Northern Lights suplex from Jericho gets 2! Jericho lays in the chops, and reverses a tombstone attempt from Benoit into one of his own. Lionsault misses, but he lands on his feet and a clothesline gets 2. Top rope frankensteiner gets 2. Jericho goes back up again, but Benoit crotches him and hits a backdrop superplex for the pin at 14:36. Benoit kicks dirt on Jericho’s corpse, and gets a standing ovation. ***1/2
SUPER CALO vs. REY MYSTERIO JR. (for the WCW cruiserweight title)
MIKE TENAY has barely had enough time to reasonably recover from his last Latin experience, but with the ferocity of an 18-year old virile male, he’s ready to go with as much energy as ever. In fact, off the bell he’s already giving us Calo’s personal life story. A very audible fan yells “BOOOOOORRRRRING”, at the same moment Tony declares “this is very impressive!” Calo applies an armbar, because that’s what we want to see with a couple of Cruiserweights. Tenay expects this to be an offensive NBA style match, with non-stop action, but we’re 2 minutes in and literally nothing has happened. Rey finally wakes up with a springboard rana, and Calo hits the deck. Back in, Calo dropkicks Mysterio because we need to slow this baby down. He does hit an impressive powerbomb, using the ropes as a spring for a little extra bounce. Rey is sent to the floor, and Calo hits a dropkick off the top. A scoop slam keeps Mysterio down long enough for Calo to hit a slingshot senton to the floor. Back in, a reverse headscissors off the top gets 2. Mysterio’s arm is jerked off the top, and Calo puts on a short arm scissors. That leads to Dusty talking about the night Pat O’Connor put HIM in a short arm scissors for 30 minutes, and he’s still here to talk about it. That Mysterio WISHES he had half of Dusty’s manly forte. Calo moves on to the inverted surfboard, and drops Mysterio down on his shoulders for 2. Rey hits the floor, holding his arm for dear life. Just thank his lucky stars he didn’t have to face Pat O’Connor, I’ll tell you what. Back in, Mysterio botches a crossbody that was supposed to propel both to the floor, but the referee is there for an assist and pushes Calo over the top for some reason. That gives Mysterio the energy to hit the no-hands over the top rope somersault dick to the face. Back in, Calo dropkicks him in retaliation for the stuffed sausage, and turns his attention to the ever exciting wristlock. Once again Calo jerks the arm over the top rope as he falls to the floor. On the apron, Rey manages to spin out of a wristlock and hits a springboard rana to the floor. Tony calls for a replay, and none ever comes. A second dick to the face has Calo dazed, and back in a springboard sunset flip gets 2. Springboard sky twisting bodyblock gets 2. A rana is hit, with Rey holding the legs on the follow through for 2. Calo misses a dropkick, and Rey finishes with a triple springboard rana for the pin at 15:47. Very impressive finish, and thank god Rey retained because Calo SUCKS and I can’t live in a world where both he AND Ed Ferrara are former champions. I struggle enough with Jacqueline and Madusa. **1/2
THE NASTY BOYS vs. HARLEM HEAT (with Colonel Robert Parker and Sista Sherri) (for the WCW world tag-team titles)
Dear god NO, I can’t take it. Make them ALL go away please. What is it going to take to put the damn belts on the Faces of Fear, and just let them squash jobber losers in under 2 minutes for the next year? Stevie Ray and Jerry Saggs start, because this is hell. This would have been a compelling time to test Booker as a singles star, and it probably could have worked given the right storyline. Have the nWo attempt to recruit Harlem Heat so they can control the tag-team titles, Booker constantly refutes them because they have integrity, but Stevie has other plans and sells out. Booker dispatches of his traitor brother, and hones in on the rest of the nWo playa hatas. In fact, why ISN’T my fantasy booking happening, instead of the bloody CLUBBERIN’ that’s got Dusty in a happy place. Saggs threatens Booker with Pity City, but Sherri saves the day. Saggs offers to hit her with a chair – and I’m talking about a non-folding chair with the big metal legs. You know them from your high school auditorium, they’re bulky and awkward. Speaking of bulky and awkward, Stevie and Knobbs pair off. Stevie hits a bicycle kick, and since he’s now run through his entire moveset, he tags out to Booker. Booker hits the flying jalapeno, and punches Saggs in the face for fun. Saggs rushes in the ring, and in a nice spot, MARK CURTIS dives at Saggs almost with a crossbody block to prevent him from any kind of interference. Somehow a brawl erupts for a second, leading to Saggs chasing Sherri around, but nothing comes of it and everything goes back to a regular match. Booker is all smiles when he hits a double teamed second rope karate chop, but it doesn’t last when he misses the Harlem sidekick and crushes his beans. Saggs gets the hot tag, and bulldogs Booker. Stevie takes an avalanche, and gets dumped. Saggs calls for the finish, but Sherri re-appears and this time Saggs pulls her in by the hair. Booker tries to save, but Saggs rolls him up for 2, as Sherri skates away. A spike piledriver gets 2, saved by Stevie. Knobbs is all over him, but Curtis holds him back. Saggs heads up, but the Colonel trips him up with the cane and Saggs goes splat. Booker goes for an easy pin, but Saggs kicks out at 2. Axe kick knocks Saggs to the floor, where Stevie and Sherri work him over. Parker even gets in a kick, a rarity! Stevie can’t score the pin though, but Knobbs keeps trying to get involved allowing Booker to stomp his partner behind the referee’s back. Saggs manages to hit a double face slam on both members of Heat, and Knobbs gets the tag to a big pop. Clotheslines for everyone. Heenan calls Knobbs “fresh” before realizing the irony of his statement, as Knobbs hits a big splash on Booker for 2. Avalanche knocks Booker down, and Knobbs heads up while Saggs holds Booker hostage. The Colonel distracts, hands his cane to Sherri who breaks it over Knobbs, and Booker steals the pin at 15:31. And then somehow EVERYONE spontaneously combusted, and were NEVER seen again. **
In the back, a glowing MIKE TENAY interviews RANDY SAVAGE, who appears to be neither Mexican, nor a recent visitor to Mexico. Savage promises to hit a grand slam tonight against the Giant, setting himself up to rip Hogan’s black heart out of his chest at Halloween Havoc. Black heart? Is Hogan a smoker? Is he suffering from some sort of artery blockage? Is Savage looking out for his buddy’s best interests by removing the obviously damaged organ? Tenay does NOT ask any of this, instead opting to send Savage to the ring.
RANDY SAVAGE vs. THE GIANT
NICK PATRICK has been assigned to this which would seem to be a conflict of interest, but apparently the WCW brass have been blessed with coleslaw for brains. Giant enters to the Dungeon of Doom theme initially because apparently nobody told production that Giant left them last week. Someone eventually tips them off, right as Savage blasts him with a knee to the face. The camera spends an inordinate amount of time focusing on Giant’s tight tights, and while I’m not sure what goes on in the WCW Powerplant, I can tell you Giant definitely understands the small package. Savage hits the floor, and Giant flattens him with a crossbody block(!!!!). Who IS this man, and why is he letting the plodding Big Show wrestle in the WWE if HE exists? Giant hits a backbreaker, and holds his knee in place to torture Savage a little more. The fans are really in to this, as displayed by everyone’s eyes watching the entrance ramp for anyone. Giant applies a Boston crab, which is very exciting for the handful of fans watching the ring. Savage escapes and bites Giant in the eye. That’s followed with god knows what off the top, because Giant catches him in a bearhug and slams him with ease. A kneedrop misses, and Giant tries to walk it off but that’s enough to let Savage on his feet. He attacks the knee instantly, and goes up a second time. This time it’s a super faceplant, but Giant throws him off at 2 with enough force to send Savage about 5 feet in the air. Savage is all adrenaline now though, and slams the big man to a MASSIVE pop. That draws out HOLLYWOOD HOGAN just as Savage drops an elbow, and Savage chases him to the back where THE OUTSIDERS are waiting. Nash blasts him with a chair, and all 3 men work him over, while Nick Patrick misses the entire thing because he’s busy sharing his recipe for fall lentil soup with The Giant. Savage is rolled back in for the easy pin at 7:47. The fans were way into this during the hot points, which sometimes is enough to pull the rating up a little. Not a lot, mind you. **
MIKE TENAY is with RIC FLAIRARN ANDERSONLEX LUGERWOMAN, and ELIZBETH. Tenay wants to know who the 4th man for WCW is? Flair simply promises that WCW is going to kick ass. Arn says that he’s lost a partner, Luger lost a friend, and WCW lost an icon. But that draws in STING, and everyone’s fists go up. Sting says it wasn’t him on Monday night. Luger says he looked him right in the face on Monday in that parking lot, and doesn’t believe him. Sting says if he can’t believe him, he’ll prove it later.
You know what would have helped? Sting explaining where he has been for the last 6 days while everyone sat around feeling depressed about his actions. “It wasn’t me.” That’s weak. I used that excuse when my mother asked why my brother was crying, when I was 4.
TEAM NWO vs. TEAM WCW (in a Wargames match)
MICHAEL BUFFER does the ring introductions, and explains the rules which are the same as any other year. SCOTT HALL starts for the nWo with TED DIBIASE in tow to hang around ringside. ARN ANDERSON is out for the Horsemen as usual. NICK PATRICKis the assigned referee. Arn is fired up, and even Dusty can’t believe a day has come where he’s rooting for Anderson. Arn works over Hall’s leg for a bit, before Hall crawls to the safety of the second ring. He lures Anderson over, and beats him down. Arn comes back with a sleeper hold, but Hall escapes, so Anderson plants him with a spinebuster. Shock of all shocks though, the nWo won the coin toss, and KEVIN NASH is in now. Arn is waiting, but the double team is too much and he eats a big boot. Together the Outsiders launch Arn face first into the cage. Snake eyes has Arn doing the drunken stumble, and Hall tries to decapitate him with a clothesline. LEX LUGER is WCW’s second man in, and he hits both members of the Outsiders with a clothesline! Individually, Luger dishes more clotheslines out, and the fans are thrilled to see him. Luger uses Hall as a battering ram against a couple of sides of the cage, but Nash saves. Arn has managed to get back on his feet, and he sends Nash face first into the mesh.HOLLYWOOD HOGAN makes his way in now, and Luger is on him like a dog on meat. Arn joins in, and the fans are electric! The Outsiders are still around though, and they break up the party. Hogan slams Luger and starts dropping elbows, while the fans chant “WE WANT FLAIR” at the top of their lungs. WCW delivers, as RIC FLAIRhits the ring and demands a piece of Hogan. Heenan announces he’s not sure if Hogan can beat Flair, which would ignore the last 2-years worth of proof that says otherwise. Flair’s got brass knuckles on, and starts knocking out nWo members left and right. It’s a Horsemen party, at least until STING hits the ring on behalf of the nWo. Sting hits all his trademark stuff, though those watching closely might notice something’s off. In fact, some fans in attendance do, and start chanting “WE WANT STING!” Hogan hits Flair with the big leg drop. Sting hits the Stinger splash on all 3 members of the Horsemen, and beats his chest like a gorilla. Finally, WCW’s final guy is in, and … it’s STING? He walks right up to the obvious imposter now, and hits the bulldog. Everyone in the nWo starts eating it, courtesy of the real deal. Legitimate Stinger splashes are gifts for every one of them. Luger apologizes, but Sting asks “is that good enough for you? Is that proof enough?”, and walks away. Luger is heart-broken for the second time in a week, allowing Hogan the chance to hit the leg drop and bite his nose. The fake Sting puts Luger in the Deathlock, while Hogan applies a front facelock. Nick Patrick orders the bell, and the nWo wins via submission at 18:15. The match itself wasn’t great, but kicking off one of the greatest angles of the 90’s makes it all worth it. **1/2
Luger tries crawling to the back, calling for Sting’s help, but the nWo continues to work him over in the aisle. Flair and Anderson get back involved, with Flair giving a particularly nice ball-shot to Nash that makes me smile. RANDY SAVAGEappears out of nowhere now, pulling Hogan back to the ring area. However, THE GIANT is right behind, and Savage succumbs to the numbers, eating a Chokeslam.ELIZABETH rushes down as Hogan pulls out the spray paint, and Heenan starts announcing she’s with the nWo. However, that doesn’t appear to be the case, because she throws herself on Savage to protect him, and Hogan spray paints her with the nWo colors. Hogan asks for the stick, and calls Liz and Savage losers. Hogan says they promised to be together until death parts them, and he offers to make that a reality tonight. As usual, he’s a liar, and simply spits on them instead. They’re wayyyy early on PPV time, so to give the fans at home their money’s worth, we spend eons just hanging around the ring while the nWo poses. Eventually, after The Giant gives away one more Chokeslam, things are turned over to the announcers to waste another 5 minutes or so. Nothing of interest in mentioned, so we’ll wrap here.
Lots of questions as we head into Nitro tomorrow, and for a change, that’s a good thing.

September Classics: Ric Flair vs. Arn Anderson – Fall Brawl ’95

Well, since some of us mentioned it earlier this week when I posted the Pillman-Johnny B. Badd match, Fall Brawl ’95 was also highlighted by a very good match between longtime Horsemen stablemates Ric Flair and Arn Anderson. Of course, this angle all led to Sting looking like an idiot. Brian Pillman makes his heel turn here, then the three join forces with some fourth guy named Benoyte to reform the stable.


Ric Flair vs. Arn Anderson 9/17/95 by HookLineSinker4

The “Rise” and Fall of TNA (Part 2)

First, I am sorry that
this took longer than planned. Secondly, I used to be a big fan of TNA. I
started watching their product in late 2004 and became a regular watcher by
2005. The company was making strides. In fact, it made some of the biggest
strides I have ever seen a young wrestling company make. And the future for the
company looked to be even brighter. However, Dixie
Carter became obsessed with the stars of the past and the cancerous Vince
Russo. She loved him so much that she made excuses for him instead of fixing
the problems that fans were complaining about. TNA also became more concerned
at looking for lost wrestling fans than pleasing their hardcore fans. It
is honestly sad that Carter allowed self-indulgent famous employees from
the past to ruin her company. It is even sadder that she allowed them to.


Chris Harris had two great matches with James Storm and then a
star-in-the-making performance in the King of the Mountain match, so he faced Christian
Cage at Victory Road ‘07. He went toe-to-toe with The Instant Classic and
looked like he belonged. Dustin Rhodes, who had not been in the company in
years, cost Harris the match. They wrestled each other at Hardcore Justice,
where Dustin Rhodes debuted his new gimmick Black Reign (which was essentially
Evil Goldust). An overweight man with a silly gimmick beat the living shit out of
him. A bunch of X-Division wrestler had to run into the ring to stop him, and Sonjay
Dutt was spotted laughing at how ridiculous this entire thing was.

They wrestled again at the next PPV. Harris got a quick roll up victory
over Black Reigns, but he was, yet again, a victim of a beatdown. Harris was also
dumb enough to handcuff Reigns  to the
ropes and walk away forgetting that Reigns had the key. It is bad enough to
make the heel look smarter than the face; it is even worse to make the babyface
look like a complete idiot. Harris had to sell for a rat that Reigns put on his
face. Don West screamed and uttered out a ton of hyperbole about how horrifying
it was. Backstage, Harris began complaining about the way he was being used on TV, so Russo gave him a gimmick where he would just complain and whine. Shortly
after, he was released from the company.
TNA’s eyes were set on Bound for Glory 07, their Wrestlemania show. These
were the following main matches for the card:
(1) Jay Lethal was set defend the X-Division title against Chris
Daniels, although they hardly did anything to hype this up. The X-division
champion was too busy being beat up by Team 3D
(2) They brought back Reverse Battle Royal, even though the Observer
called it the worst match of the year of 2006.
(3) 10 years after anyone cared, the Steiner Brothers were booked to
face Team 3D in a Tables Match.

(4) They decided to debut the Knockout’s title in an Over-the-Top Battle
Royal that would crown the new champion, despite there being a Battle Royal
already on the show.
(5) The TNA Tag Champions Pacman Jones and R-Truth defended their titles
against Tomko and AJ Styles. The champions were not over and Pac Man was unable
to do anything physical, yet held the titles for longer than two whole months. They
elevated the titles’ credibility just as much as David Arquette elevated the
WCW title’s credibility. No real build for this either.
(6) The main event was Sting vs. Kurt Angle, and their storyline was an
unbelievably convoluted mess. Sting filed a restraining order against Karen,
disallowing her to come 50 feet near him. Angle then wanted to bring out Sting’s
mean streak in order to get the very best out of him. This was despite Angle being a
chicken shit heel that relied on Karen’s interference to win most of his title matches in the past.
He made Sting mad by attacking his son after the kid’s football practice. Sting and Angle’s “heated”
match began with wrestling holds and exchanges. Not once did it ever seem
like they hated each other, and Karen interfered in it anyways. Sting won
the title, yet dropped it back to Angle the next week on Impact.
Bound for Glory was, as a whole, a disappointing show. Two positive
things came out of it, though. Samoa Joe and Christian had their blow off match
that made Joe come out looking like the monster he once was and the birth of
the Knockout’s Division.
The Knockout Division became the strong suit of the company, with Dutch
Mantell as its
 booker and Scott D’Amore as its road agent. Gail Kim and Awesome
Kong had a series of matches that were very good and put the division on the
map. The Knockout’s title had more credibility than anything else did in TNA due
its logical booking and great matches. That was until Russo got his hands on
the division. The division has never been the same since then.
TNA changed its motto from “We Are Wrestling” to “Cross the Line”, though
the meaning was never explained. To understand the storylines and characters’
developments, one had to snort a few lines, though. Russo started to inaugurate
in “shades of gray” booking, resulting in too many poorly defined heels and
babyfaces. Or so we thought…
 A script of an Impact episode leaked online. It showed whether the wrestlers were faces or heels, meaning that Russo
was not using shades of gray booking. He was instead improperly accentuating the good and
evils parts of the characters. The script leaking was a blessing in
disguise for those that were confused about the wrestlers’ roles, though. Also: the words “to the back!” made every TNA viewer cringe. Instantly
after every match, the show would go to segment or promo that was happening in the back. They were mainly something ludicrous or purposeless. Due to how fast the cameras would go to the back, it made big moments, like a title or big win, seem pointless.
Team 3D and Johnny Devine wanted to demolish the X-Division and thus kept beating
up all the X-Division wrestlers. Therefore, the Motor City Machine Guns and Jay Lethal
decided to step up and fight for the division. Team 3D and Devine dominated
most of feud, but at least the X-Division wrestlers won the blow-off match. In it, Lethal came out looking like a superstar by overcoming a
three-on-one deficit in a hard-fought battle. Despite his popularity and momentum, the company barely did anything interesting with him afterwards.
 A few months later, he lost the title when Petey Williams cashed
his “Feast or Fired” briefcase on him. He never got revenge on Williams, as he was
too busy proposing to So Cal Val.  Also,
the MCMGs did not gain much from the big win either. In spite of them being great in the ring and being immensly popular, the company was too busy being mad at them for not wanting to blade. The angle was supposed to
help the X-Division. In hindsight, it did nothing for it at all.
For Lockdown ’08, the company built up Samoa Joe vs. Kurt Angle in a no-nonsense type of
way, and the build was excellent and refreshing. It placed a heavy emphasis on the
psychology things such as preparation, strategies, and the wrestlers’ strengths
and weaknesses. The whole PPV was being built up as a big change in the direction of the company. 
It ended up being the same old Russo drivel, though. The show had 46 wrestlers on it, a reversed cage battle royal thingy, a tag match with 8 teams where a wrestler had to be cuffed to a cage if they were pinned, and BG James vs. Kip James. Although, Samoa Joe finally won
the TNA belt, and the PPV did one of TNA’s biggest buyrates ever. However, Joe was barely the focal point of the company and was not
allowed to beat the main eventers without some sort of bogus finish.
Two weeks later, Kurt and Karen Angle renewed their vows
on Impact. Joe and Nash crashed the ceremony, though. They attacked
Angle and stripped him down to his polka dot underwear. The minister took a
bump that made him disordered. AJ Styles helped Karen Angle up and then the confused
minister pronounced them husband and wife. Angle, in his underwear, looked on confused. Styles then took Karen on a honeymoon to Gatorland the next week. He told her that every day would be a honeymoon if he truly were married to her .Only Russo would build to an Angle vs. AJ Styles dream match in this sort of way.

They both had two very good matches at Slammiversary and Hardcore
Justice, although, to no surprise, the finishes were overbooked. The first one had
Karen Angle interfere and the second one was a total mess. Angle was placed on a stretcher because of his injured neck. Styles then after attacked his neck on the stretcher. Randomly, Sting hit the Deathdrop on Styles as he walking up the entranceway. 
Angle and AJ had a Ladder
Match a week later on impact for Angle’s Gold Metal. AJ won from the lights
going out and Jarrett’s music playing. Just to recap, the babyface tried to steal the heel’s wife, attacked his possible broken neck, and then took his gold metals from him in a cheap way.
Frank Trigg was hired by the company to hang around with Angle. At
No Surrender ’08, he faced Styles in a faux MMA match that ended in a DQ.
It was mind numbingly bad and the crowd turned on it by shouting “We Want
Wrestling”, “Boring”, and “Fire Russo”. To make matters worse, the PPV feed cut
to a porno movie during the match. Nobody ever apologized for it.
In spite of being built up as a beast, Joe continued to be booked
poorly as one. He won his King of the Mountain match because Nash helped him win by Jackknifing
Booker off the ladder. It set up a feud with him and Booker
T, as the whole buildup was about no one thinking Joe could beat him. Meanwhile,TNA ran house shows that had Booker T vs. Samoa Joe main event them. To no surprise, Joe pinned Booker T in most of them – negating the entire storyline.
Joe snapped and went crazy on Booker T at their Victory Road match, reestablishing his mean
streak. Sting came out to tell Joe he has gone too far and then proceeded to beat him up
with his baseball bat ( making Joe’s beatdown on Booker almost pointless). Booker T walked out
with the TNA championship, and Tenay screamed “How can Booker T be champion!?”
The whole thing was convoluted, and it set up the contrived angle where the heel wrestler carries the title around like he’s the champion.
At Hard Justice, Joe faced Booker in a Six Sides of Steel
Weapons match to blow off the feud. Of course, Joe could not go over a
former WWE wrestler clean, so the lights went out and Jarretts’ music played. Despite only wrestling two matches hitherto, Sting ended up
facing Joe at Bound for Glory for the title. Even though everyone saw it
coming, Nash still turned on Joe – allowing Sting to win the title.
This was the end of Joe’s unmemorable title reign. He did not even beat a non-WWE
wrestler clean except Kurt Angle.
Russo booked a conflict between the young guys and the old
guys (an imitation of the WCW New Blood vs Millionaire’s Club feud). It was called the Main
Event Mafia vs. The Front Line, and it was an interesting angle at first. But, of course,
it ended up being booked completely backwards. The Front Line was never booked
as if they were on Main Event Mafia’s Level and didn’t even end up
winning the feud. The Main Event Mafia only disbanded because they couldn’t get
along.
Around this time, TNA was a “pick and choose” type of company. They had a
group of talented wrestlers and a lot of good matches too, but the booking and old wrestlers being treated superior than the young guys made the product frustrating. Other than most of Russo’s booking being lowbrow and nonsensical, another main problem was it was mostly about himself. He never made the wrestlers the focal point of a show. The central point was always about his storylines, hence the amount of swerves and turns the show had on a regular basis.

Before Gabe Saposkly developed a massive ego, he was the complete opposite in ROH. He knew that the wrestlers were the main assets and thus built the entire show around them. His booking was just to help them get over (not to stroke his massive ego). And you can laugh at how small ROH
was then all you want, but Saposkly made the company profit. That is something TNA has never been able to say.

Next: Vince Russo vs. Jim Cornette, The Calm before the Storm, Monday
Night Wars, Vince Russo finally gets fired, TNA’s product gets better but Aces and Eight
ruins it. 

The “Rise” and Fall of TNA (Part One)

Everyone knows by now that TNA is flirting with death. Despite
the fact that they do have content and finance, they are two months away from
losing their distribution. As ECW and WCW both quickly found out, it is almost
impossible to keep a company alive without that component. Although the reports
stated that Spike TV was not interested  in renewing Impact, those rumors ended
up being false. Spike TV’s President was live at one of TNA’s New York tapings,
speculating whether or not a renewal would be worth it. Even if the renewal falls
through, TNA still can find another network to show their television show – although
one must assume that it would be a significant downgrade to their primetime
timeslot on a recognized Network. Let us look at TNA’s history with Spike TV, and how it has
led up to this fiasco in this three part installment of the “Rise” and Fall of TNA. 

In 2005, FSN declined to renew Impact’s contract for the next year, leaving the show without a network. They decided to air
their shows online by using Bit Torrent, but shortly after, received a deal
from Spike TV. Even though Spike TV was a step in the right direction, TNA
still found themselves in a timeslot that made it hard for people to find the
product.

Although the company was struggling to find additional
viewers, it was still doing a good job of pleasing their hardcore fans. In addition
to that, the product had a sound strategy: they placed an emphasis on the wrestling in the mid-to-upper card and had the recognizable top-names in the
main event. The top names were making people watch, but the upcoming talents were the ones stealing the shows. In sum, the wrestlers of the past were bringing in wrestling fans to see what the foregone future of TNA was going to be (or so we thought).
TNA’s main commodity, which made it an alternative over WWE, was
its X-Division.  Kindred to the Cruiserweight Division, the X-Division had a
high-flying and fast-paced style. But unlike the Crusierweight division, it had no weight limits.
Even though there were a lot of talents who stuck out from this division, none of them stuck out as much as Samoa Joe did. Joe was someone who mainstream wrestling never really seen anything like before. He was an overweight and husky wrestler, who could move around and fly
like someone half his size, with had an outstanding work ethic.
TNA’s main event scene resembled a cast of over-the-hill
talents, but that somewhat changed when they signed Christian – a talented wrestler who was
misused in WWE.  They quickly added him
into the main event scene, and not too long after that, he became the TNA champion
by defeating Jeff Jarrett (who the fans were sick and tired of due to him
constantly hogging the title). As if it couldn’t become any better, TNA made its biggest
signing yet – The “Icon” Sting. 

Unfortunately, though, TNA could not come to an
agreement with the head booker Dusty Rhodes – who was tremendously helping the
company. Even though year 2006 took a dip in quality the department as a result, the company still had a lot
going for them. After all, their PPVs continued to be better than WWE’s PPVs, and they kept continuing to grow. In fact, Sting’s return to the company led to Impact’s
biggest rating ever, and because of that, Spike
TV gave them a primetime slot on Thursday nights.

Even though Sting winning the title at Bound for Glory was a big deal, TNA’s newsworthy signing of
Kurt Angle overshadowed that moment, as well any moment in the company. In spite of being around for only four
years, TNA made more strides than some wrestling companies ever had and were on track of becoming legit competition with
the flagship wrestling company.

It appeared that nothing could slow them
down from expanding to higher levels. However, TNA brought back a familiar face to the creative team – someone who was referred as a genius to some people while an idiot to others – Vince Russo.  This sparked a lot of controversy on the
internet about the decision. Some people thought it was a good idea, some thought it
was a terrible idea, while others didn’t think it would matter all that much.
Even though this had nothing to do with Russo, TNA
made a huge mistake with the Samoa Joe character. Joe – who was undefeated in his tenure in
TNA – jobbed to Kurt Angle in Angle’s first PPV match ever in the company. To make matters worse, Angle made the “Samoan Submission Machine” tap out to the Ankle Lock. Joe ended up getting
his win back in their rematch, yet Angle won the blow off match. Within three months, the biggest dream match people wanted
to see in TNA was already over. The feud could have been an epicly built up one,
yet it was instead poorly booked and hotshot.
Creatively, there were some recognizable changes within the
company. They were starting to have crazier gimmick matches, more wacky segments,
more focus on overbooked finishes, and less emphasis on wrestling. The pace of
Impact was also on speed – trying to fit in too many things in a short amount
of time. It was evident that Vince Russo was the new head writer of the show
and his booking philosophies hadn’t changed a bit.
While the Against All Odds 2007 PPV looked like a good show on paper, it ended up being one of TNA’s worst shows ever. In what was supposed to be
a heated feud, LAX and Team 3D ended up having a goofy-looking brawl. Austin Star
and Senshi, who are capable of stealing any show, had a toned down match with
most of its attention being on Bob Backlund. In an unlisted tuxedo match (I
wonder why), Hemme wrestled “The Big Fat Oily “Guy in what was a trainwreck of
epic proportions. Abyss and Sting had an over-the-top “Prison Yard” match. And
the main event between Christian Cage and Kurt Angle had the following: Samoa Joe as the guest
enforcer, a ton of run ins, a referee bump, and an anticlimactic finish. Russo
officially ruined one of TNA’s PPVs with gimmicks that hindered rather than
elevated matches, unpleasing finishes, run ins, overbooking, and angles that were either convoluted, muddled, trivial, or all of the above.
A month later, fans began to refute
against the company at Destination X. They chanted “that was weak” after Kurt Angle and Scott
Steiner’s match and then chanted “Fire Russo” during a goofy Last Rites match
between Sting and Abyss. However, much like 2007 in a nutshell, the roster did
a good job of overcoming the terrible booking and that resulted in a perfectly watchable
PPV.
Dixie Carter was upset from the fire “Fire Russo” because he had nothing to do with the angle. Even if it
was not Vince Russo – which it was – there still was a big problem: the fans were becoming tired of the booking. In spite of her being so
concerned about it, she did NOTHING about it. Consequently, another
“Fire Russo” chant broke out a month later at their Lockdown PPV. This time, it
was because of an “electrified” cage match between Team 3d and LAX, and I use
the word electrified loosely because it ended up being the saddest display of
effects ever. They turned off the lights off and lit the ring with a light
bluish color, and whenever a wrestler touched the cage – the light flickered
and the wrestlers fidgeted around as if they were tased. There were other times
where the wrestlers touched the cage and nothing happened. And, laughably, Hernandez wore gloves to climb the cage and miraculously could not be shocked
because of them. Meanwhile, Harris and Storm were forced into wrestling
a blindfold match on the same exact PPV, and the crowd managed to chant “Boring” and “We Want
Wrestling” during it.

Despite Vince Russo becoming an enormous problem, neither Jarrett nor Carter wanted to admit it. In fact, they were more
concerned about defending the booking rather doing anything about it.
And because the product wasn’t growing, they brought in as much former WWE
talent as possible – which caused the wrestlers who were supposed to be the future
of TNA to become afterthoughts in the main event scene. They also decided to
put the title on Kurt Angle at Slammiversary and then devote most of their hour of Impact around him. Thus, critics and fans began calling TNA “Total Nonstop
Angle”.

The company then signed Pacman Jones – who was suspended from the NFL for an entire year because he slapped a stripper in the face – with them thinking that any exposure is good exposure. To make matters worse, they gave Jones 250,000 DOLLARS before they realized that he could not do anything physical. This was arguably the worst decision the company ever made. 
Meanwhile, the overexposure of Kurt Angle started to become worse. For their
Hard Justice (August) PPV, they named Samoa Joe vs. Kurt Angle, with every
title in the company on the line as well the IWGP title. Logistically,
everyone thought TNA would build this up as an ultra-serious and important
match. Vince Russo, however, did not believe that was what this feud needed –
and for that reason – the main storyline was about Karen Angle dating and
sleeping with Samoa Joe. In what could have easily been hyped up as the biggest
match in TNA’s history ended up being a ridiculously overbooked episodes of “Days of our Lives”. Joe – who was a freakish monster a few months ago – also was turned into the
biggest fool in the company when Karen Angle cost him the match. It was a
swerve that literally everyone (yes, EVERYONE, Fuj) saw coming.

Angle was then forced to defend every TNA title at No
Surrender. And out of all the wrestlers that he could have picked to
co-hold the tag titles, he picked Sting – the same guys he had problems
with in the past. To no one’s surprise, they did not get along and it caused
them to lose the titles to R-Truth and Pacman Jones (the same “wrestler” that
cannot do anything physical). Angle lost the X-Division title to Jay Lethal, cleanly, in a hard-fought battle. But moments later, Lethal was saddled into
being one of the wrestlers that came out to stop Samoa Joe from killing
Christian. Joe ended up throwing Lethal out of the ring as if he was
a jobber – which hindered his definitive clean victory over Angle. Lastly, Angle
defeated Abyss to retain his TNA world championship, and after the match, Judias
Medias pulled Abyss down under the ring – which started their carbon copied
Undertaker vs. Kane feud.

Fans were becoming more and more frustrated with the
company’s development (or lack thereof). They were especially frustrated with
all of the former WWE/WCW/ECW talent hogging up the spotlight over TNA’s
homegrown talent and Vince Russo’s illogical and silly writing. But instead of taking the responsibility,
Dixie Carter started to blame it on the lack of airtime on Spike TV. She said that if
they received two hours, they would then be able to focus on other talents.
But even with the two hours they finally received, AJ Styles was still booked as a
goober, Samoa Joe was no longer the monster he once was, MCMGs were jobbers,
Chris Daniels was back in a spot he was in three years ago (one of the members
of Triple X), LAX were being improperly used, and the X-Division champion, Jay
Lethal, was being beat up on TV every week.

TNA, meanwhile, signed any former
WCW or WWE talent they could get their hands on – including Dustin Rhodes, Test, and Rikishi.  In sum, the X-Division title
lost most of its credibility, there was no more emphasis on the in-ring
product, wrestlers that could barely move in the ring were given higher spots
in the card than the talented wrestlers, and the booking, as a whole, was a disaster.
Everything that made TNA an alternative was quickly vanishing before its diehard fans’ eyes.


That concludes part 1. Part 2 will look at the downfall of Samoa Joe, the signings of more former WWE talent, the worst ECW reunion ever, failing to sign Paul Heyman, Jim Cornette vs. Vince Russo, the calm before the
storm, the entrance of Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff, and the short-lived Monday
Night Wars. Sorry in advance for errors I may have made. Most of this information came from what I could remember. 

Let’s talk about…..the fall of Roman Reigns

Let’s talk about….the fall of Roman Reigns
As he stood under the lights on Monday night, Roman Reigns
passed his first test with flying (well, decent) colors. The newly anointed savior
of our sport stood alone and cut his first main event promo, looking and
sounding like he belonged in front of us. The fans ate it up like a whale at a
buffet featuring all-you-can-eat Jonahs.

So where did this sinking feeling come from?
Let’s establish up front that the push of Roman Reigns has
proceeded rather flawlessly; indeed, the Shield has been handled as well as any
talents we’ve seen in the last ten years at this point. Slowly building Reigns
up, with few jobs and strong victories, his ascension to the top of the card is
nearly complete. We’re several months away from his final coronation, but
barring any injury or unforeseen circumstances, he will be holding the title
aloft at the end of Wrestlemania 31.
Speaking of unforeseen circumstances….
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to
repeat it” – George Santayana
Time for a stroll down the memory lane, don’t you think?
In the past 5 years, we’ve seen the ascension of 2 unlikely
stars to the top of the ranks in WWE; CM Punk and Daniel Bryan. And we’ve seen
the rejection of all of the following stars that WWE has tried to get over into
that spot – Alberto Del Rio, Ryback, the returning Batista, and old card
mainstays such as Cena, Orton, and the Big Show. In each instance, the fan base
has rejected these options in favor of the fan-grown wrestler that the audience
connected with. The booking of Roman Reigns does not fill me with confidence
that this trend will be avoided in the near future.
The fact is, I think that we’re seeing a new breed of fan
that has grown and matured over the last 5 years or so, and that fan is the
informed fan. Not the smark, like us, who analyze wrestling to a ridiculous
degree, but the fan who knows more about what is going on due to the internet
or whatever medium they use than ever before. I believe that the fanbase has
conditioned itself to reject many of the creations that WWE gives ‘superhero’
pushes to; initially, those wrestlers are welcomed as someone new to the main
event scene.
As time goes on, however, there is a real role that the fans
have taken on in determining who they want to receive a push, and not allowing
that push to happen organically is playing with fire. If Reigns is indeed the
long game for ‘Mania this year, the concern that I foresee is the fans getting
tired or restless with his domination to the point that they will reject him
the same way they eventually rejected a wrestler such as Ryback.
“Ryback? Reigns is twice the wrestler Ryback is!” Hmmmm….is
that really true? Reigns has been extremely protected up to this point with
regard to his weaknesses in the ring, which are very real. He fits in well as
the heavy finisher in tag matches, but can he carry a match on his back when he
needs to? I don’t put him in Scott Steiner territory by any stretch of the
imagination, but any wrestling fan can see that he has a severely limited
moveset to put it mildly. Spear, Superman Punch, dropkick to the ring apron. The
rest of what Reigns does in the ring is very basic kicky-punchy clothesline
type wrestling, and that type of wrestling has been a big part of what the fans
have rejected in guys such as Cena and Ryback.
Remember the Ryback push? He was given a pretty big shove
out there, pinning multiple wrestlers at once with big power moves to get him
over as a monster. Much like Reigns has been protected in tag matches, Ryback
was protected with short squashes. He was given title matches with Punk, main
events with Cena, both of whom are excellent workers, and the matches came up
relatively short. He was given a simple catchphrase to get over, which he did.  I think that the similarities are more evident
than people think. The only difference is that, when the time comes, I think he’ll
go over for the belt, whereas Ryback did not.
And that could be a problem. Because the fan’s role in
deciding whether or not he finishes his push at the top when the proverbial
rocket gets him all the way there is going to be determined by the epic nature
of his matches. And I’m not at all convinced he’s ready for that; while we make
fun sometimes of fans who may not know what’s really going on, ringwork has
always gotten people over. Just look at the Steiner/HHH debacle vs the
Angle/Benoit classic on the same show; wrestling fans will buy into good
wrestling . Will he be ready by Wrestlemania? Of course, he could be.
But what happens if they can’t sustain his act that long?
People tired of Cena’s superman act years ago, and have been vocal about that
to the point where it needed acknowledgement on television, something that
never would have happened to a top babyface from another era. Of course, Cena
is a special case, as his merchandise sales and public image for the company
require that he be kept a BINO (babyface in name only), but the boos far
outweigh the cheers. I don’t know that Roman has that type of skill set yet –
the ability to do the intangible things that are needed to sustain that type of
run at the top.
Contrast that with the man getting the second biggest pops
on the show right now – Dean Ambrose.
Ambrose is currently most smarks’ pick for the breakout star
of the Shield waiting to happen, and it’s all in how he carries himself in the
storytelling of his matches and his angles. He comes out and the crowd has NO
idea what is going to happen next. He wrestles like no one else on the card at
this time, sells like a motherfucker, and in general is a complete professional
wrestler.
But the reason that I see Ambrose as the bigger star down
the road is that he doesn’t feel like a WWE creation – he feels like a real
(crazy) person, who has no real equal in the Fed when it comes to both his
character and his unique ringwork. The fact is that if the fans are going to
choose the next main event star, I suspect that they will tire of Reigns faster
than they tire of Ambrose.
And that’s a real problem, because the WWE is going to
forget the history of even the last few years again. 
The rise of CM Punk came
because his character was unique and people were dying to see something that
didn’t look like John Cena up top. The fans rejected Batista because they didn’t
want to see the same thing, they wanted Daniel Bryan, who wrestled a unique and
different style than anyone else at the time, and who had a character that
appealed to the masses as a true underdog babyface, something that hadn’t been
done in a long time. The fact is, Roman Reigns is exactly what the WWE sees
when they look for a main event talent.
And the fact is, the fans have rejected that notion multiple
times over the last several years.
Please understand, I’m not rooting against Roman Reigns in
the slightest. I hope he pulls it together and proves me completely wrong. He
not only has the look, he has the same type of attitude that put Batista over
the top back in the day, the ‘cooler than you vibe’. It might carry him all the
way.
Or that rocket could explode before it clears the
stratosphere.
And that fall can kill you.
Rick Poehling
@MrSoze on twitter

The mighty continues to fall

image
UFC and FOX Sports Terminate Chael Sonnen's Broadcast…

The UFC and FOX Sports have terminated their respective broadcasting services agreements with analyst and former fighter Chael Sonnen, the companies…
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Going…going…
How do you even FAIL an HGH test?  Has that ever happened before anywhere?   Maybe he should go to WWE, where magically no one has failed a test in years.   

Fall Brawl 1998

Fall
Brawl 1998
Date:
September 13, 1998
Location:
Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Center, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Attendance:
11,528
Commentators:
Mike Tenay, Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan
Reviewed by Tommy Hall
It’s
WARGAMES! Well in name only at least as whatever they have tonight
certainly isn’t the same idea that gave us the best team gimmick
match of all time. Tonight there are three teams of three men each
but only one individual can win, making the team concept completely
pointless. The winner faces Goldberg, who isn’t on the card tonight,
for the title at Halloween Havoc. Let’s get to it.

The
opening video just shows all nine people in the main event.
The
ring setup is different than any other show as there are two rings
right next to each other. The matches will alternate between rings
all night.
The
announcers talk about the main event as a LOUD We Want Flair chant
starts up. They go over the rules of the main event before going to
the back where Ernest Miller is being restrained. There was a
lottery earlier and it will be Bret Hart vs. DDP to start. Another
new rule this year: the match can end at any time instead of waiting
for everyone to get in.
Gene
talks even more but Jericho interrupts and announces he’ll be in a
champion vs. champion match tonight against Goldberg. The fans are
very intrigued.
Davey
Boy Smith/Jim Neidhart vs. Alex Wright/Disco Inferno
Alex
and Davey get things going with Smith taking him into the corner and
hitting some forearms to the head. A hiptoss and gorilla press slam
send Wright into the corner to bring in Disco. He gets to face
Neidhart as the match slow down a bit. Some shoulder blocks put
Disco down and Anvil swivels his hips a bit. Disco fires back with
some stomps to the chest and a running knee lift, only to have
Neidhart drive him into the corner for the tag off to Bulldog.
Wright
comes in as well and stomps a German mudhole in the corner. Bulldog
cartwheels out of a monkey flip but Alex pops up and hits a spinwheel
kick to take over again. Back to Disco who hits a nice shot to the
jaw but Smith sidesteps him to send Disco outside. Jim gets in some
stomps on the floor and whips Inferno hard into the barricade. Disco
is thrown inside for a chinlock before fighting up and stepping on
Smith’s foot. He runs into Davey to knock him down (no move or
anything. Disco just collided with him) but Davey picks him up and
throws him at the ropes in what I think was supposed to be a hot
shot.
Neidhart
gets another tag and slams Disco onto the mat as Heenan picks Piper
to win WarGames. Jim bites Disco’s forehead as this boring match
continues so the fans chant for Flair again. Smith comes back in to
launch Neidhart in for a slingshot shoulder block but I think he
leaves it short (Disco tried to move so it wasn’t clear which
happened) and it’s back to Alex.
Bulldog
comes in and gets backdropped, which I believe is the move that broke
his back as he landed on Warrior’s trapdoor because WCW thought
Ultimate Warrior should have magical powers. The match degenerates
into a comedy match with the referee having to drop to the mat to
avoid a charging Bulldog before the injured Davey Boy gets Disco up
for the powerslam and the pin.
Rating:
D. This could have been on any
given episode of Saturday Night but instead it’s opening a pay per
view. Keep that in mind when you remember that guys like Eddie
Guerrero and the world champion couldn’t get on the card tonight.
This was pretty much it for Neidhart and Smith would be gone about a
month later after the back injury got infected and put him in the
hospital for six months.
Gene
is with Scott Steiner and Buff Bagwell with Scott saying he’s injured
and showing the Band-Aid to prove it. Steiner’s doctor has written
him a note saying he can’t wrestle tonight but JJ Dillon just happens
to be walking by and says the match is on anyway. Again, why bother
making up these stories and having them resolved in the same segment?
The match has been building for seven months now. Just have them
fight.
TV
Title/WCW World Title: Chris Jericho vs. Goldberg
We
get the long entrance from the back, complete with the debut of
RALPHUS as the Jericho Personal Security. Jericho finds the lunch
room, the door to the parking lot (“Not falling for that again!”)
and finally the arena. The pyro are just little puffs of smoke to
anger Jericho even more but the fans love him. Of course it’s not
the real Goldberg though as we get the all time favorite: the little
impersonator. At least this guy is taller than the top rope. The
fans are REALLY not pleased and can you blame them? We’re thirty
minutes into this show and we’ve had the opening match and this.
Jericho no sells the spear and wins with the Liontamer.
Rick
Steiner is at the internet location and isn’t happy that he has to
fight his brother. He knows his brother better than anyone does and
he’ll teach him a lesson. As generic as this was, it’s the second
best thing on the show tonight.
We
see the entire segment with Ernest Miller interrupting the Armstrongs
on Thunder, leading to Norman Smiley making a save.
Norman
Smiley vs. Ernest Miller
Miller
gives Smiley five seconds to get out of the ring before he takes him
apart but Norman chops him to the floor. Smiley follows him outside
but gets whipped into the barricade before we head back inside for a
variety of kicks. A double chop to the throat puts Norman down again
and Miller mixes up his offense with some knees to the chest. More
choking ensues against the ropes before he throws Smiley down with a
judo move. Off to a lame armbar before Norman comes back to no
reaction from the bored crowd. A delayed suplex gets two on Miller
but he breaks up a superplex attempt and hits two Feliners for the
pin.
Rating:
D. To clarify: WCW would rather
push a one dimensional martial arts guy over an international
submission/amateur style wrestler with years of experience wrestling
all over the world. Smiley had a lot of tools but never got to
showcase what he could do. But hey, at least we get to see ERNEST
MILLER.
We
recap Rick vs. Scott Steiner. Scott turned on his brother back in
February and has avoided the match over and over again before they
FINALLY go at it tonight.
Rick
Steiner vs. Scott Steiner
Scott
stalls on the floor for a few minutes before coming back inside for a
slugout with Rick getting the better of it. A right hand from Scott
has no effect and he bails to the floor. Rick chases him into the
crowd and drags him back
into the ring but Scott hits him low to escape a belly to belly
suplex.
After
more stalling Rick blocks a butterfly suplex and hits a DDT before
going up for the bulldog. Buff Bagwell interferes but gets rammed
into the buckle, knocking him out cold and dropping him to the mat.
Rick’s bad shoulder is sent into the post but he comes right back
with right hands. The referee is with Bagwell and the match is
stopped due to his injury, further ticking off the crowd.
Rating:
D-. This was getting better but
of course we have a false finish because waiting seven months for a
full match just isn’t long enough. I can’t blame the crowd for
getting even angrier after sitting through this as they were getting
their first interesting match of the night but it didn’t even break
six minutes.
Bagwell
is awake and talking to Scott as the crowd shouts what they think of
this nonsense. Trainers come out to check on Bagwell as the
announcers talk about how serious this is. A stretcher is brought
out as the show grinds to another halt. We go all the way to the
back to see Bagwell loaded into a stretcher with Rick saying someone
needs to call Buff’s mom. The ambulance doors are closed, Rick is
distraught, and of course Scott and Buff come back out and beat him
down. Nearly ten minutes were spent on this after the match ended.
Cruiserweight
Title: Silver King vs. Juventud Guerrera
This
is a rematch after Silver King got disqualified on Thunder. Juvy is
defending of course. The announcers spend the opening part of the
match talking about how they’re not going to talk about Bagwell.
Juvy takes him down with an armbar to start but Silver flips out of
it and sends the champion to the mat. The announcers mention the
match they had on Thunder, referring to it as “recently on WCW TV”.
They can’t even get the details of a match from three days ago?
Juvy
comes back with a quick hurricarana and a springboard into a
headscissors for two. Another springboard move is caught by a
dropkick from Silver King before he loads Juvy on his shoulder and
spins him, tossing him into the buckle. A shoulder breaker gets two
on the champion and a dropkick knocks him outside. Silver King hits
a nice springboard plancha to take Juvy out again as the fans chant
Taco Bell.
Back
in and Juvy tries a quick sunset flip but overshoots it and crashes.
Thankfully Silver King doesn’t walk over to him so Juvy can get the
near fall. Instead Juvy gets up and hits a quick springboard
hurricanrana for two and a missile dropkick gets the same. King
misses a charge into the corner and an inversted Frankensteiner is
good for two. Cool looking move, but of course it’s not enough for
the pin because why have a big, new move get a victory? The Juvy
Driver and 450 retain Guerrera’s title.
Rating:
C. This was good almost due to
how bad everything else has been. Silver King wasn’t the best choice
for a challenger but Juvy is cleaning out the division before someone
steps up to beat him. The Frankensteiner was a nice move but it
doesn’t make up for the first hour being a waste of time.
Konnan
is doing an interview on WCW.com when Scott Hall comes up and throws
a drink in his face.
We
recap Saturn vs. Raven. Lodi had won Saturn’s servitude due to
interference and Saturn has
been forced to comply due to his honor code as a former Army Ranger.
Saturn believed in honor so much that he allowed his fingers to be
broken instead of dishonorably breaking Riggs’ fingers. Tonight if
Raven wins then Saturn is Raven’s servant forever but if Saturn wins,
the Flock disbands.
Raven
vs. Saturn
Kanyon
is handcuffed to the ring to make it as far as possible. It’s also
Raven’s Rules. Raven chills
in the corner to start before getting in a cheap shot and sending
Saturn across the ring and down to the mat. A running knee lift has
Saturn in even more trouble but he comes back with some high kicks in
the corner and a spinning springboard forearm for two. Saturn gets
the same off a top rope splash and another kick sends Raven into the
barricade. Lodi goes over to help but both guys are taken out by a
nice suicide dive to wake up the crowd a little bit.
Lodi
interferes a bit to give Raven control and get a two count off a pair
of middle rope elbows. Saturn comes back with something resembling a
powerbomb for two, only to be taken down by a quick clothesline.
There’s a sleeper to Saturn but he comes out of it with a jawbreaker
to put both guys down. Raven is up first with some rolling Russian
legsweeps for two but Saturn hits him low to get a break.
We
get our first chair brought in for the drop toehold from Raven and
the Flock brings in a table. Kidman is on the other side of the ring
and comes in to turn on Raven with a dropkick before sprinting to the
back with the Flock chasing after him. Saturn’s Death Valley Driver
gets a VERY close two before he snaps off three straight suplexes.
Raven is out on his feet so Saturn slams him to the mat and gets two
off a spinning springboard legdrop.
Something
like a Juvy Driver gets two more for Saturn so he puts on the Rings
of Saturn but Lodi makes the save. The referee gets bumped and
Kanyon gets the key to the handcuffs out of his pocket to set himself
free. He gives Saturn a Flatliner but Raven can only get two.
Saturn drives Lodi through
the table with the Death Valley Driver but walks into the EvenFlow.
He kicks out again and the fans are WAY into this now. Another Death
Valley Driver is enough to split up the Flock.
Rating:
B. This was the only way to end
the feud and it worked very well. As is almost always the case, the
backstory makes the match much better as you have Saturn rising above
everyone else and surviving everything Raven throws at him. Kidman
turning makes sense as he had already been changing his look in the
previous months, which is always a good addition to a feud.
Jim
Duggan’s cancerous tumor was successfully removed and it was the size
of a football.
We
look at the end of the cage match from Monday with Arn Anderson
coming out to save Dean and blow the roof off the place. That’s the
problem with tonight being the double cage match: the Malenko vs.
Hennig cage match would have made more sense on PPV but they had to
do the whole thing backwards.
Dean
Malenko vs. Curt Hennig
Dean
goes right for Curt to start but Hennig bails to the floor. The fans
want Flair but get Dean ramming Hennig’s leg into the barricade
instead. Rude tries to interfere but gets stared down, allowing
Malenko to wrap Curt’s leg around the post. Back in and Dean stays
on the leg, leaving Curt unable to slam Dean. Tony declares this a
Horsemen style attack as Curt gets in a shot to the ribs to slow Dean
down and take over. He can’t keep up the attack due to the knee
though and Dean goes right back to it with a knee crusher.
Hennig
bails to the floor where Rude tries to help him to the back but Dean
will have none of that. Back in and Dean cannonballs down on the
knee before putting on a leg bar. Off to a different kind of leg
lock as the fans are just waiting for Anderson and Flair to run in.
Back up and Hennig forearms him down but the knee gives out on the
HennigPlex attempt. Instead Dean HennigPlexes Curt but Rude comes in
for the DQ.
Rating:
D+. GAH this
was irritating. Is it going
to kill Curt Hennig to have him job to Malenko on PPV? Apparently
so, because we couldn’t possibly let a cruiserweight like Malenko get
a clean pin over a big star, even if that big star hasn’t meant much
of anything in months. This was a very annoying ending.
Dean
gets beaten down but Anderson runs out for the save. Hennig and Rude
take him down with ease and stomp on his bad arm as no one runs out
to help. The NWO stands tall because that’s how WCW works.
Halloween
Havoc ad.
Scott
Hall vs. Konnan
Hall
does the survey and the NWO chant is barely audible. Feeling out
process to start until Hall throws the toothpick in Konnan’s face.
Scott cranks on Konnan’s arm and slaps him in the back of the head
for a bit so Konnan just punches him in the face. The fans go nuts
for Konnan all of a sudden before
he takes Hall down with a shoulder block. Hall does the changing
hands on a test of strength bit until Konnan punches him again.
Scott tries to run but gets caught in the between the rings and is
stomped down to the floor between the gap.
Stalling
ensues on the floor as the crowd dies again. Back inside and Hall
cranks on both arms and putting a knee between Konnan’s shoulders.
Konnan spins his arms around to reverse the hold but doesn’t move his
hands. In other words, the only thing keeping Hall in this hold is
him grabbing Konnan’s wrists. He finally kicks Konnan low to escape
and for a two count. The fallaway slam gets the same and we hit the
abdominal stretch. Hall even has a drink while he has the hold
applied.
Konnan
counters into one of his own but Hall hiptosses him down, only to
miss three straight elbow drops. Scott is rammed into the buckles a
few times but he comes right back with a clothesline. A belly to
back superplex drops Konnan again but he stops for a drink instead of
covering. Konnan kicks the cup into his face and hits the X Factor
to set up the Tequila Sunrise for the win.
Rating:
C-. Not a bad match for the
most part but it doesn’t mean anything. This was the same kind of
match that you would see in the Alliance era in WWF: not terrible but
doesn’t change anything for anyone. I’ll give them credit for
pushing Konnan though as this was as close to a clean win as you’re
going to get in an NWO match.
WarGames:
Team WCW vs. Team NWO Wolfpack vs. Team NWO Hollywood
WCW:
Diamond Dallas Page, Warrior, Roddy Piper
Wolfpack:
Kevin Nash, Sting, Lex Luger
Hollywood:
Hollywood Hogan, Bret Hart, Stevie Ray
There
are different rules this year. We’re going to start with Hart vs.
Page for five minutes and every two minutes someone else will be
added. The match can end at anytime and for the first time ever, by
pinfall. The first person to get a fall faces Goldberg next month at
Halloween Havoc. It’s a double cage so the ring is completely
surrounded, including a top. There’s no wall or barricade between
the two rings so people can change rings at will.
To
further annoy me, Sting vs. Goldberg is announced for tomorrow night.
That could have headlined Starrcade. This first period is five
minutes. Page cranks on the arm to start and gets two off a shoulder
block. An early Diamons Cutter attempt misses and Page is sent face
first into the buckle. Hart DDTs him down and rams Page into another
buckle. We have two minutes left in the match as the trade right
hands in the corner.
A
backbreaker keeps Page in trouble but he grabs the arm and drives it
down into the mat to get a breather. Page comes back with his discus
lariat to put both guys down as Stevie Ray comes in third. All
remaining periods are just two minutes. Ray chokes on Page and slams
him but opts to choke instead of cover. A clothesline keeps Page in
trouble as Sting is in fourth. Stevie meets him coming in and we
have action in both rings for the first time tonight.
Stevie
is sent to the other ring so Sting dives over two sets of ropes with
a clothesline (called the Stinger Splash by Tenay) as all four are in
the same ring. They’re already slowing down with Sting the only one
on his feet. Ray gets caught between the ropes and cage for a splash
from Sting as Hart piledrives Page. A second splash from Sting hits
the cage as Piper is in fifth. Piper bites various people and pokes
a lot of eyes because this is WAR. He nails Page because the team
concept means nothing. You might even be able to pin your team
members but it’s not specified.
Stevie
is stomped between the rings and Bret punches Page from one ring to
the other. Luger strolls to the ring at number six and goes after
Stevie while the other four guys are in the first ring. Lex jumps
Hart to end whatever bond they made on Thunder before moving over to
Piper. Roddy’s sleeper doesn’t last long on Luger and it’s Nash
(with pyro) in seventh. Big Kev cleans house as Hogan comes out a
minute and twenty seconds early.
Luger
Racks Bret but Hogan is knocking everyone out with Stevie’s slap
jack. Stevie and Hogan are the only people left standing as the
match stops cold. Hogan’s time ends despite him being in the ring
for a minute already. The match has completely died with Hogan
dropping leg after leg on Nash. There’s the Warrior smoke and
Warrior appears in the ring. Hogan jumps him from behind and lays
him out but more smoke fills the ring.
It
clears out and only Warrior’s coat is left. Warrior runs down the
aisle as Hogan panics. Stevie takes Warrior down with relative ease
as Disciple pulls Hogan out of the cage. Everyone else is still out
cold by the way. Warrior comes back on Ray and walks around the ring
looking at Hogan before kicking the cage wall apart and chasing Hogan
to the back. In the ring, DDP pops up and hits a quick Diamond
Cutter on Ray for the win.
Rating:
Agoobwa. This match was so
stupid that it’s beneath any letter grade. I’m not even sure where
to start. First off, this isn’t WarGames. This is more like a
regular match dressing up like WarGames for Halloween. There
was never any drama or intrigue and the match never felt important at
all. It was about fifteen minutes of lackluster punching and kicking
before Hogan and Stevie Ray knocked everyone else out with a weapon
so they wouldn’t have to fill in all that time with action.
On
top of that, this wasn’t even violent. Other than Sting splashing
Ray against the cage, no one was rammed into the steel until Warrior
sent Stevie into it. The biggest flaw here is there was no hatred or
personal animosity between these guys. They were just all assigned
to teams and might have had some matches that ended in DQ’s a few
weeks earlier. That doesn’t make for a match that is supposed to be
the biggest, most violent fight of the year.
It’s
very similar to the modern day Hell in a Cell matches. With so
little time to build up to them, there’s no reason to care about what
happens out there. Look back to let’s say 1992 with Sting’s Squadron
against the Dangerous Alliance. There were probably five individual
feuds in there and they had been built up for months. Or even look
at 1995 with Hogan’s team against the Dungeon of Doom. The match
sucked but at least there was a reason for them to be fighting other
than “we need members of each organization.” This wasn’t
WarGames. It was a multiple man match which happened to be in the
double cage.
Page
celebrates in the crowd to end the show.
Overall
Rating:
F-. If there was a
rating lower than this, the show would get that. This was dreadful
throughout with Raven vs. Saturn being the only match worth checking
out and even that’s a stretch. They took all of the good potential
that WCW had been building up for months and wasted it in one night.
No Guerrero, no Goldberg (he couldn’t even show up and beat on
Jericho?), no Flair, and Anderson gets beaten down because we need to
keep Curt Hennig looking strong. This ranks up there with the worst
shows of all time and I can easily see why it was named the worst
show of the year for 1998.
Remember to check out my website at kbwrestlingreviews.com and head over to my Amazon author page with wrestling books for just $4 at:
http://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Hall/e/B00E6282W6

Fall Brawl 1997

This is another old review.  Be forewarned.
Fall
Brawl 1997
Date: September 14,
1997
Location: Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum,
Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Attendance: 11,939
Commentators:
Ton Schiavone, Bobby Heenan
Reviewed by Tommy Hall

THINK THAT’S A LONG ENOUGH
LOCATION??? With so many WCW shows left I’m going to start
hammering more of them out by doing the remaining versions of various
shows, starting with the last three Fall Brawls, as in 97-99. Anyway
this is more or less the last classic WarGames and the roster for it
more or less sucks. The main perk of this show for old school fans is
that there are three matches over 15 minutes. Anyway let’s get to
it.

The opening video is about Flair and the Horsemen with
Anderson inducting Hennig into the Horsemen. Also the NWO making fun
of the Horsemen in a hilarious parody. That’s about it
apparently.

Heenan in a bowtie is a weird look.

Cruiserweight
Title: Eddie Guerrero vs.
Chris Jericho

Jericho is champion and
Eddie is freshly heel and dominant up to this point. The double ring
setup is always a nice touch. Eddie bails to the floor and covers his
ears to avoid the booing. Technical stuff to start us off with Eddie
getting frustrated. Very slow start here but they have a ton of time
to work with so it’s fine. Eddie gets some HARD chops in the corner
so Jericho is like screw that and chops Eddie down.

Chris
works on the arm and the fans want….something. Back to the mat with
Jericho working on the arm some more. Eddie tries to speed things up
a bit so Jericho LAUNCHES him into a hot shot across the top and hits
the Lionsault for two. Eddie counters an armbar into a smaller
version of the same thing Jericho did earlier. Nice little psychology
there. Modified Backstabber and Eddie holds onto it for a bow and
arrow style move.

Belly to back gets no cover for Guerrero.
There’s a surfboard and I still don’t see how that move is
physically possible. Oh never mind as he hooks it with a chinlock
instead of the regular move. Jericho gets up, only to be taken down
by a European uppercut. Hilo works on the back even more. Gory
Special goes on and Jericho is in trouble. Jericho reverses into one
of his own and slams Eddie face first.

They slug it out and
Jericho takes over, hitting some clotheslines in the corner. Eddie
walks the ropes ala Old School but gets crotched on the top. Jericho
hits his springboard dropkick and tries a Piledriver on the apron.
Instead he shifts to a powerbomb but drops Eddie backwards onto the
top as Jericho drops to the floor. It’s kind of hard to
describe.

Back in the Canadian hits a German to the Latino for
two. Eddie pops up and hits a spinning Rock Bottom but Eddie can’t
follow up. Powerslam gets two for Jericho. Spinwheel kick gets two.
Flapjack by Jericho but Eddie reverses La Magistrol for two of his
own. Jericho hits a double powerbomb and puts Eddie on top. Chris
tries a superplex but Eddie reverses into a cross body out of that.
Frog Splash gives Eddie the title.

Rating: A-. Gee what
a shock: you give Eddie and Jericho 17 minutes and you get an awesome
match. Eddie was the freaking man at this point as six weeks later he
and Rey would have what is arguably the best WCW match of all time at
Halloween Havoc. Great match with a ton of awesome spots and a fast
pace. Sadly, the rest of the show just wishes it could be this
awesome.

Jeff Jarrett is doing an interview on WCW.com. He
would be back in the WWF in like 5 weeks. You can chat with Jarrett
right now! Get off your couch and go to your computer and talk to
him!

Harlem Heat vs.
Steiner Brothers

Larry Z is on
commentary now instead of Tenay. This is a #1 contender match, even
though the Outsiders never actually defended the titles. I don’t
mean against the #1 contenders. I mean they never defended them
period. Basically a team would be #1 contenders for a few weeks then
there would be another match to determine new ones. Jackie is with
Harlem Heat and DiBiase is with the Steiners. Scott was about to
start his slow heel turn but it wasn’t quite here yet.

Stevie
and Scott start us off. Stevie hammers away and Steiner is like boy
please and hammers away on him. And never mind as Stevie kicks his
head off. Side slam gets no cover. Booker looks all ready for a tag
but that might be a better match so we’ll stick with Stevie. Scott
overpowers him for a bit but Booker busts out a full nelson of all
things to take over.

Suplex puts Scott down but Booker jumps
into a belly to belly and the Steiners clean house. Rick comes in to
hammer away on Booker but it’s off to Scott quickly. Big spin kick
puts Rick down and it’s off to Stevie. Rare to see the Steiners
tagging in and out that much. The Steiners get all physical on them
but Scott gets caught by a pretty sweet kick by Booker to send him to
the floor.

Stevie chokes away and Jackie continues to be
worthless. Rick tries a save but it’s time for Scott to play face
in peril for awhile. Big forearm gets two. Hot tag to Rick who cleans
house. He hits the bulldog off the top on someone but it’s the
wrong man. Heat Seeker (Doomsday Device but with a dropkick instead
of a clothesline) gets two on Rick. A German suplex/clothesline combo
ends Ray quickly after that.

Rating: C. Meh match here
as it’s really just a tag match. It’s not bad or anything but you
can only see the same two teams fight so many times before you get
tired of it. I’d have liked to see Harlem Heat get a shot but the
Steiners and Outsiders were joined at the hip for the most part so
that wasn’t going to happen. At least the Steiners would split in
February.

TV Title: Ultimo
Dragon vs. Alex
Wright

This was one of the worst title feuds you’ll
ever see and so it went on forever. The matches were ok but at the
same time it just went on and on and it was never really interesting.
Wright is champion here. Oh and Wright is kind of heelish now. There
are four commentators now. Long feeling out process to start as I
have a feeling we’re in for a ver long one here.

Wright hits
the floor for a breather and comes back with a headlock. Dragon
speeds things up and fires off the kicks, sending Wright to the floor
again. Back in Wright hits a Stun Gun and takes over again. Spinwheel
kick gets two and Wright hits a pancake (Piledriver but you fall
forward instead). Off to the chinlock as it’s clear we do in fact
have a lot of time here.

That gets broken up and we go right
back to it again in case you forgot what it looked like I guess.
Belly to back gets two and we HIT THE CHINLOCK AGAIN! Dragon wakes up
a bit and hits a crossbody followed by some kicks. A spinwheel kick
misses though and Dragon goes down again. The fourth chinlock in less
than five minutes goes on as you have to start questioning why
they’ve been given this much time when you could cut the match in
half to have an extra match. Larry says a lot of people used to kill
the clock like this, which is a nice line considering he’s
legendary for it.

Make that the fifth chinlock. When that’s
your best move, methinks you’re not that good yet. Wright dances
out of a sunset flip attempt and dances even more. Dragon knocks him
off the top but misses a dive, eating feet instead. We head to the
floor and Wright shows that he’s not that smart as he stands in
place for the Asai Moonsault against the guy who invented it and
turns around. How could you screw that up? Seriously, how could you
screw that up???

Back in and Dragon takes over with a rana for
no cover. That looked bad too. Back to their feet and things speed up
a bit with Dragon getting a butterfly suplex for two. Tiger suplex
gets two. Dragon sets for the super rana but Wright reverses. Dragon
reverses the reversal into a powerbomb out of the corner for two.
Mutaesque Moonsault gets two. Another rana is reversed into a sunset
flip in a nice bit of psychology there.

Wright counters a dive
with a dropkick to the ribs but Dragon reverses a belly to back into
a cross body for two. Small package gets two. La Magistral gets two.
Wright wants his German suplex finisher but Dragon reverses. Super
rana hits but he can’t get the Dragon Sleeper. Regular sleeper is
countered into a jawbreaker by Wright and the German suplex gives the
German the win.

Rating: C. If this was about a ten
minute match instead of the 18 they had, this is FAR better. The last
5 minutes or so were really good but before that it was rather
boring. It’s not bad mind you, it’s just really boring. Wright
would lose the title 8 days later to Disco Inferno of all people so
it’s not like this meant anything. Still though, nearly 20 minutes
for these two was WAY too long.

Gene is schilling the hotline
for later and Team NWO for later runs past. Methinks shenanigans are
coming. Gene goes to see and Curt Hennig is down on the floor. Say it
with me: HE’S TURNING ON THE HORSEMEN TONIGHT.

Jeff
Jarrett vs. Dean
Malenko

Winner is supposed to get the US Title shot
next month but that wouldn’t happen due to various things. Jarrett
sends Debra to the back for no apparent reason. Technical stuff to
start as you would expect with Jarrett taking over for the most part.
We’re about five minutes in now and there is nothing to say in the
slightest. Jeff has worked on the arm for awhile and other than that
it’s just a low gear exhibition.

Dean gets a nice dropkick
to take over and never mind as we’re back to the boring stuff. I’m
talking about just standing there with a headlock for like 20 seconds
and then taking it to the mat for another minute or so. Thankfully
they speed things up a bit and Dean takes over, ramming Jeff into the
buckle a few times. Bah there’s a sleeper to end that run. It might
have sped up for about 30 seconds and then it’s right back to the
slow stuff.

Double axe off the top hits and there’s a
superplex for Dean. It’s probably good to have him in control as
Jeff is Memphis through and through and that makes for some rather
boring matches at times, especially when there’s no real feud
between these guys. Memphis heat is based on hatred and when there’s
nothing there, it doesn’t work for the most part.

German
suplex by Dean looks to set up the Cloverleaf and there it is but
that might be interesting so we go to the ropes to break that up
quickly. Debra is here now for no apparent reason and both guys go to
the floor. Dean goes back in and hits a baseball slide to send Jeff
down again. Time for the knee work but Jeff takes over again and
works on the knee a bit himself.

Dean is able to counter a
cannonball drop to send Jeff out to the apron. Back to the floor
again with Jeff being sent into the railing. Suplex back in is
reversed into a cover by Jeff for two. Dean gets a sleeper which is
reversed into a suplex for no cover. Jeff goes up and jumps into the
boot but catches himself and grabs the leg in an attempt at the
Figure Four. Dean rolls it up for two and Jeff gets a neckbreaker for
two. Pinfall reversal sequence gets some nice counters but Jeff gets
a chop block and the Figure Four ends this.

Rating: C.
Just like in the previous match they went too long and the first ten
minutes or so were really boring. Tony calling it great is your
standard overhyping but it didn’t work at all for the opening half.
Dean was awesome in this year but it wasn’t on display here.
Another match that didn’t need to be as long, or on this show in
the slightest actually.

The NWO says they’ll win and they
have a plan. Konnan sounds WEIRD here.

Mortis/Wrath
vs. Faces of Fear

You
know, because THIS needed to be on PPV right? The Faces (team, not
the face/heel aspect which I don’t think has a face team in this)
are in red for some reason here. Barbarian and Mortis start us off.
Mortis hammers away with some success so Barbarian just throws him
into the corner like something that is easily thrown. Off to Meng who
has a brawl with Wrath for awhile.

Wrath gets a middle rope
clothesline and takes over. Back off to Mortis and that doesn’t
work all that well for him. Off to Barbarian again who hits a
headbutt to take over again. Meng backdrops Mortis into a powerbomb
in a spot that really wasn’t as good as it sounds. Pumphandle slam
gets two for Barbarian. Mortis tries to hammer on Meng and it doesn’t
work in the slightest.

Barbarian goes up again and gets
crotched while James Vandenberg (Mitchell) runs from a camera.
Barbarian dives into a boot so Wrath comes in for a beatdown. DWI
gets two on Barbarian as Meng saves. This is rather boring if that
wasn’t coming off. Wrath and Mortis take over for awhile and Mortis
hits a Fameasser off the top for two. Wrath gets a belly to back to
set up a top rope clothesline/punch for no cover still.

Mortis
rams the steps into Barbarian to keep up the dominance. That only
gets two back in the ring. This is taking forever to get through.
Three man Tower of Doom suplex sends Barbarian flying again.
Barbarian is a fun word to type. Wrath and Meng both come in to
hammer away on each other with Meng taking over. BIG chop to Mortis.
Kick of Fear to Mortis and a powerslam to Wrath gets two. Top rope
splash gets two for Meng on Mortis. Double Tongan Death Grip to
Mortis and Vandenberg but Wrath grabs a Death Penalty (Rock Bottom)
for the pin.

Rating: C+. Surprisingly enough this
wasn’t that bad. The problem in short though is that this was on
PPV for about twelve minutes. Why in the world should this have been
on PPV? There was no reason to have them fight it seems, but they did
anyway and they got a lot of time. I don’t get this one at all and
while the match was actually pretty good, that doesn’t mean it
needs to be here.

The Horsemen are ready for the main event.
No Hennig here. Flair rants loudly of course.

The
Giant vs. Scott
Norton

Giant is waiting on his match with Nash so
he needs someone to beat on I guess. Giant calls for the chokeslam
before the match even starts. Brawl in the form of a battle of the
big men to start us off as you would expect. Giant tosses him over
the top and we head to the floor for some more brawling. Norton
manages to ram Giant into the post and take over.

Giant
hammers Norton again as this is a fairly decent power brawl actually.
This doesn’t go much of anywhere because the moves are kind of
repetitive. Norton gets a rather impressive hot shot on Giant who was
indeed flying through the air. Giant takes some corner splashes and
Norton gets a belly to back suplex for two. With the help of the
middle rope, Giant hits a nip up. Ok that was pretty cool looking. He
goes nuts and hits the Chokeslam to end it quick.

Rating:
C. This wasn’t too bad I guess but for a match like this, another
battle of the big men, there’s only so much you can do. Norton
wasn’t going to win here and everyone knew it but he hit some big
moves and the power game was pretty cool. The nip up is awesome and
he only busted it out on occasion. Fun match for what it was but
nothing you can’t see a hundred times with various people in
it.

Diamond Dallas Page/Lex
Luger vs. Scott Hall/Randy
Savage

Literally no transition at all between
matches which is kind of odd but it was a WCW thing I guess. Larry
talks about how he used to beat up Hall back in the day but still
won’t say where this was. I guess it’s a copyright thing or
something. Luger and Hall start us off and with Lex shoving him
around a lot. Luger beats up both NWO guys on his own and clears the
ring.

Off to Page and Hall works on his arm. We talk about
NASCAR for some reason as Page hammers away. Both guys miss
clotheslines so Page hits a Pancake, one of his signature moves, and
then drills Savage because he can. Hall throws Page around a bit as
he becomes the face in peril to fill in time I guess. Page fights out
of the corner as we’re just waiting on the screwy finish
here.

Hall jumps Luger and literally beats him down between
the rings. Savage chokes Page a bit and then throws him into the
other ring. That isn’t a DQ because Page didn’t hit the floor.
Just get rid of the freaking rule already. They throw him back over
to mess up the rule again. Down goes the referee to set up the screwy
stuff.

Luger is still between the rings I guess. There goes
another referee and Larry goes out to help. Larry glares at him and
Luger pops up for the rollup pin. I mean literally, he pops up from
between the rings to roll him up. Screw being legal I guess. That
ends it of course. Oh and Larry counts the pin just because. Somehow
that counts apparently.

Rating: D-. The match was ok up
until the ending and then it all fell apart because it has to I
guess. Is it just impossible to have a match end cleanly? Apparently
it is because they never seem capable of doing it in this company.
Weak ending aside, this was nothing you wouldn’t see on Nitro any
given week.

CALL THE HOTLINE!

WATCH HALLOWEEN
HAVOC!

Team WCW vs. Team
NWO

WCW: Ric Flair, Chris Benoit, Steve McMichael,
Curt Hennig
NWO: Kevin Nash, Konnan, Syxx, Buff Bagwell

WarGames
here and here are the rules for the two of you that have somehow
never seen this match. You start off with a guy from each team for
five minutes. After that a coin toss will be won by the heels and
they get an advantage for two minutes. After those two minutes are up
another person comes in from the team that loss the coin toss. You
alternate like that every two minutes until all eight are in and then
it’s first submission (no pins) wins it. Also in a double cage of
course.

This is more or less a revenge feud for the Horsemen
after the parody that the NWO did on Nitro which was so dead on that
it was hilarious while being totally disrespectful. The teams are at
ringside here which would go back and forth. Not that it means
anything but these entrances are long so I need to fill in space.
Also this is the final traditional WarGames match, meaning it’s
more or less destined to suck.

No Hennig here due to the
beatdown earlier. Bagwell vs. Benoit to start. This should be a
massacre and very fun. This is for five minutes remember. Tony brings
up a great point: is there NO ONE else in WCW that could be out
there? They waste like thirty seconds before Bagwell slaps Benoit.
This is young and violent Benoit so how do you think this is going to
go for Bagwell?

All Benoit here since Bagwell kind of, uh,
sucks. Swan Dive misses so Bagwell unleashes his variety of stomps
and sends Benoit into the cage. Bagwell is really weak on offense
here. Surprisingly enough they haven’t messed with the clock yet.
They’ve stayed in the same ring here for the most part. Bagwell
backdrops him into the cage and yells at Flair a bit. Shockingly
enough: the NWO wins the toss. Literally, no face team EVER won a
coin toss in WCW. Ever. Not even once.

Benoit takes over with
about 20 seconds to go and it’s Konnan to give them the 2-1
advantage. Benoit seems to like the idea of being in trouble and
beats them both up. This lasts two minutes remember. Somehow being
down 2-1 makes Benoit do better for a minute or so until the numbers
finally catch up to him. Mongo, US Champion at the time, comes in and
beats up everyone.

Benoit is perfectly fine. I mean they’ve
only beaten on him for seven minutes so far so do you really expect
him to be beaten already? The Horsemen dominate for most of the 2-2
period and it’s Syxx in next. And that results badly for him as he
gets destroyed by Benoit. Total star making performance by him so
far. Crossface to Syxx who taps but it doesn’t matter yet.

The
NWO finally fights back about halfway through this period. With 40
seconds left here’s Hennig with his arm in a sling. Oh just have
him wearing the NWO shirt already. Flair comes in and cleans house.
Nash comes in after the Horsemen dominate for a good while. He
dominates the entire team and Bagwell couldn’t be happier. HUGE We
Want Sting chant goes up but you all know the ending already don’t
you? If not, GO READ A FREAKING BOOK PEOPLE.

The Horsemen take
over again before the period ends and here’s Hennig. Flair has Syxx
in the Figure Four and there goes the sling on Hennig. He pulls out
handcuffs and yep there it is. Seriously, did ANYONE buy that he
wasn’t turning here? Tony of course calls it this huge charade and
no one but him agrees.

Benoit is cuffed to the cage as is
Mongo. Again, IS THERE NO ONE ELSE IN ALL OF WCW??? Flair is
destroyed and a referee brings a microphone into the ring. Nash
offers the Horsemen the chance to surrender and they all say no.
After a long beatdown they give Mongo the chance to surrender to save
Flair from having the door slammed on his head. Mongo gives in and
they slam the door anyway. This would results in a huge blood feud
between Hennig and Flair and Tony walking off the show the next
night. The sight of Flair writhing in pain and holding his head ends
the show.

Rating: C. Not the strongest WarGames to say
the least, namely due to the Horsemen never being in trouble at all
for the most part and the really stupid ending. That being said,
WarGames is in itself inherently cool and this is no exception.
Benoit looked AWESOME in there but of course he would never go
anywhere in WCW until he was about to leave. Definitely not the best
WarGames, but the Benoit dominance was a cool visual.

Overall
Rating: C+. This was a weird show. It’s not bad and the
long matches were nice to see. They weren’t all particularly good
matches or PPV quality but there were no stupid 2 minute PPV matches
which helps a lot. Pretty good show overall but definitely not their
best. That being said, 1998 would be the beginning of the end so it
was nice to see a long show like this one more time before they fell
apart.

Remember to follow me on Twitter @kbreviews and check out my website at kbwrestlingreviews.com

The Fall of Del Rio


I'm still a huge fan of Del Rio's in-ring work and ring psychology but it appears that the crowd couldn't care two cents about him if his life depended on it and I was wondering where did it go wrong? He was progressing nicely after his debut and I didn't mind him winning the Rumble. After he lost at Wrestlemania, he seemed to be in a funk until winning MITB. And we all know what happened once he cashed it in. Do you think things would have been better for him if he had won the title at Wrestlemania or that he waited to cash in the briefcase? Also, why don't they do more with his character when the opportunity is right there in front of our faces? He's rich. Use it more to his advantage by paying off guys to do his dirty work or bribing referees or something. 

I feel like we've discussed this one a few times already, but yeah, I think he would have been 100x better off beating Edge at Wrestlemania to win the title instead of losing there and then losing to Christian and then losing to Cena and then losing to Punk.  The original plan had been Del Rio winning the belt and then dropping it to Orton right away, however, so either way he was kind of boned.  
And just ONCE I'd like to see him buy a better spot in the Royal Rumble ala Ted Dibiase.  

Could the Fall have been prevented?

Hey Scott,
Ended up down the Youtube rabbit hole the other day re-watching the keypoints from the Summer/Fall of Punk. Still amazed at how something with such an amazing start ended up turning into such a clusterfuck. (The WALKOUT!) But looking back on what we'd all agree was a botched opportunity, I ask: what should they have done?
The angle as I see it had a major structural flaw, which is that we all wanted Punk to be the new babyface megastar, but how does he do that as the guy who is walking out on the company? It was a tricky situation in that Punk needed to stay out longer to maintain his cred/aura, but at the same time it would have portrayed him as a guy who didn't want to fight. And our dream scenario of Punk defending the title in ROH, or creating some kind of ROH invasion, was just never going to happen and would have been a logistical nightmare to pull off on WWE TV anyway.
The other giant problem is that upon his return, Punk didn't have that corporate megaheel to feud with. Alberto was nowhere near over enough to mean anything. Cena (the obvious choice) was not going to turn heel on account of merchandising/sick kids/ The Rock match. And Triple H, who as a full-on actual HEEL could have taken Punk to another level, was not going to forego the Taker "End of an Era" match in order to play the Vince role and put Punk over.
At least they salvaged it to the degree that Punk has obviously become a top star, but in retrospect it seems that there were too many limitations for it to have been the revolutionary angle we had hoped for.
Thoughts?
Thanks,
-Pat

I think for me the main problem was the hotshotting of everything at once on that RAW, ala the Invasion.  In only two shows you had Vince declaring the title vacant, announcing a tournament, Rey winning the tournament, and then John Cena beating Rey in the SAME SHOW to win the title back and reset everything.  Especially given that the belt was going to end up with ADR at the end of Summerslam anyway, it was all a lot of needless machinations and title changes for no payoff.  Why not do the tournament final or semi-finals and finals at Summerslam?  Or the Rey-Cena match there?  That way Punk can take a few weeks off (not the months people seemed to think he should have taken, but certainly not just the one week he did take either) and return to challenge the champion at the end of Summerslam as the big payoff there.  Then you have your champion v. champion match for NIGHT OF CHAMPIONS (what a concept, I know).  
Of course, fantasy booking is self-indulgent tripe and we are lesser people for engaging in it.  

Fall Brawl 94

Was always curious how the main event match of Fall Brawl 94 came to be. It was Dusty & Dustin Rhodes & the Nasty Boys vs Terry Funk, Bunkhouse Buck, Arn Anderson & Col. Parker. How was that a main event at that time? The Dustin vs Studd Stable feud was not a main event feud. Hogan had debuted a couple of months earlier & wasn't even on the card, and neither was Flair. What gives?

Well, much like Brock today, they had a certain number of dates with Hogan per year, and didn't want to blow them on shows that wouldn't make back the investment.  Plus Rhodes v. Studs absolutely was a big program stemming from Arn turning on Dustin at Bash at the Beach, so I can at least understand the rationale there.  It was Wargames with a pretty hot feud, so why not?

Repost: The Rise And Fall of ECW

(As requested, a repost of the ECW DVD review I lost a while back.  This is originally from 2004, so for fun we’ll do some 2012 Scott sez stuff too, if warranted.)  The SmarK Rant for the Rise and Fall of ECW – And so here we are, years after the death of the little promotion that could, with the hardcore alternative ironically chronicled by the mainstream survivors of the wrestling wars. I was never a huge fan, to say the least, but they had their moments and you can’t deny the impact.  (I believe this is one of the biggest-selling DVDs in WWE history, if not the biggest one outside of Wrestlemania.)  – We start with Paul Heyman coming into Eastern Championship Wrestling and helping out booker Eddie Gilbert with a show, because wrestling was becoming hair bands. So Paul invented The Public Enemy and Taz. We are also introduced to Sabu and get some comments from Heyman and Tommy Dreamer about him. – Paul talks about Terry Funk wanting to come in and make some new stars to ensure the survival of the sport. This leads into the three-way dance 60 minute draw between Shane Douglas, Terry Funk and Sabu, which I always thought was horribly overrated. We also get the “smash your knee to obliticree” promo from Shane afterwards, as he wants to be champion. – Paul talks about his relationship with WCW. Quote: “I told them to go fuck themselves when they treated people like shit.” Well, this is certainly an M-rated DVD.  (Don’t tell Linda McMahon’s PR team!) – Next intro, Tommy Dreamer, as he transforms from pretty boy into someone the fans respect. This leads into the Sandman v. Dreamer feud that introduces Singapore canes to the wrestling world and turns Dreamer into hardcore tough guy. That was pretty nasty stuff and RSPW went insane for it back in the day.  (Don’t forget that Sandman used to be a California surfer dude before ECW made him into a totally new character too!  It was actually a really interesting approach to the usual repackaging, because instead of just taking Skip Sheffield and making him Ryback, for instance, Heyman would actually maintain character continuity by having Tommy Dreamer the character change from one thing to another, or have Scotty Flamingo get disenchanted with the world and become Raven, rather than just introducing Scott Levy as a new character.  It was an interesting approach to character rehab that doesn’t really get done anymore outside of, say, David Otunga suddenly becoming a coffee-drinking lawyer.)  – Tommy Dreamer talks about the differences between WWE and WCW and what ECW was doing at the time, and Paul talks about how you have to respect the past, but find something new to present.  (Like what I was just talking about.  Rehab the character instead of just throwing it out and starting fresh.)  – Mick Foley talks about WCW wanting to establish relations with ECW, and getting sent over as a goodwill gesture of sorts. Funny promo with Jack spitting on the WCW tag title and then talking about losing his real title: “World’s ugliest wrestler”.  (Pretty sure Ryback beat him for that one a while ago.)  – Next up, we meet Mikey Whipwreck, the ultimate hardluck underdog. We bypass the TV title reign that went nowhere and get into the tag title reign with Cactus Jack that was much funnier.  (I was really disappointed in the payoff for the TV title reign, actually, with Mikey just losing the belt to manager Jason one day.  That was always Paul’s downfall, in that he was all build and no delivery.)  – In August ’94, Shane Douglas wins the NWA World title…and throws it down to create the ECW World title, thus destroying the lineage of the NWA title pretty much for good. This isn’t as huge today, but it killed the NWA dead back then and it was pretty huge at the time. (Nowadays Colt Cabana could burn the belt live on his podcast and I’m pretty sure even the NWA wouldn’t give a shit.)  On the next show, Eastern Championship Wrestling was dead and Extreme Championship Wrestling was born. This was actually a double-cross on Dennis Corralluzzo, who had no clue what was happening around him. – We skip ahead a year or so, with the Malenko-Guerrero-Benoit invasion, thus showing that ECW was suddenly the cool place to make a name. It also allowed them to expand their audience with a more pure wrestling viewpoint. – Paul and his producer talk about their production style and hiding the negatives, which was pretty much their philosophy all along. Another philosophy: If we fuck up, it stays in. (That’s like the entire writing style of RAW now.)  This leads into a discussion of the fans, and Hat Guy gets his five seconds of fame with a mention on the DVD. – Onto Raven, and the feud with Tommy Dreamer. This been covered to death already. – Tazz talks about the history with Sabu and how they didn’t get along backstage. Sabu no-shows one night and Paul fires him, leading to a short-lived “Fuck Sabu” movement among the fickle ECW fans. Tommy: “Paul never lied to the fans. He lied to the WRESTLERS. But not the fans.” (Tommy’s a funny guy.)  Tazz breaks his neck and takes nine months off, setting up a big showdown when he returns. – We get a funny three-way argument (via editing) with Heyman, Bischoff and Vince, as Paul accuses Eric of raiding Benoit & Eddie, Eric accuses Vince of raiding the territories years back and Paul of bouncing cheques, and Paul retorting that Eric is full of shit. And then Vince admits that HE raided the ECW roster. That’s awesome. – So with the roster depleted, Paul brings in the Mexicans. Rey does a rana off a fan’s car. Paul: “If my father wasn’t a lawyer, I could never have pulled off ECW. I got sued more times than Martha Stewart.” – And then Steve Austin gets fired, which allows Paul to do his Steve Austin impression here, and Steve to do his Hulk Hogan impression back then. Both rule.  (I find it funny that Hogan’s cliched interview style was parodied by Austin, who in turn went on to create his own cliched interview style that was in itself ripe for parody.)  Not to mention the Monday Nyquil promo. The producer talks about the Austin and Foley promos and how great they were. No shit. I actually have a tape from RF Video from years ago that’s nothing but their ECW promos and it’s awesome.  (What are these “RF Video” and “tape” things he speaks of?)  – OK, so nine months later Tazz returns as the mat-wrestling animal instead of the Tazmaniac. Paul talks about Tazz bringing the “big fight atmosphere” to the arena, which was missing from wrestling.  (Um…does Paul do lottery numbers, too?  And guess who he ended up managing?)  – On the other end of the spectrum, Raven steals Sandman’s son and wife, which I never really cared for. – The Blue World Order ends up being the culmination of Steve Richards’ series of parodies, but the people went nuts for it and it ended up sticking. Well, that was pretty random. – So back to the Raven-Tommy thing, with Beulah announcing her pregnancy, which led to the goofy lesbian angle that paid it off. Tommy’s “I’ll take ’em both!” reaction was the moment that pretty much made him a legend in the ECW arena. – So back in the WWF, Mabel is King of the Ring and the Philly fans there are busy chanting “ECW” to show their displeasure. So Vince listens and stages an ECW invasion at Mind Games in 1996, with Dreamer and Sandman annoying Savio Vega during a match with future WWE champion Justin Hawk Bradshaw. – So back in ECW, Raven crucifies Sandman with Kurt Angle in the audience, thus making him stay away from wrestling for another three years. Raven actually apologizes to the audience for doing it. Paul lied to Angle about it. I’m shocked. I’m pretty sure this was never shown anywhere before. – The PPV era begins, sort of, as Paul can’t break through to In Demand, but the fans petition them until it happens. And then…Mass Transit kills it all. Thankfully they don’t show it. So Paul begged and whined and finally they got back on the PPV schedule again. – So with the WWF roster overseas in February, ECW gets RAW for one night in Manhattan, leading to a mini-invasion angle to promote the PPV. Vince admits he was funding them.  (Pretty fun show, too.)  – Barely Legal went off pretty well, although unfortunately due to timing they were entering the PPV arena after the peak of their influence. RVD and Lance Storm talk about Rob’s bad attitude that night and how he created the Mr. Monday Night persona as a result. – Tazz talks about the big match with Sabu, which unfortunately didn’t live up to the hype at all. Terry Funk won the World title from Raven 10 seconds before the power supply blew up to cap off the evening. My thoughts on the show are that it was good for the time, but doesn’t hold up today and didn’t pay off the promise that the promotion showed. – So Raven leaves, and Tommy finally gets the win over him. That leads directly to Jerry Lawler showing up to invade ECW, which went on forever and went nowhere. – We move onto Tod Gordon being a “mole” for WCW and getting fired as a result. Bill Alfonso was almost on the chopping block too for talking with Terry Taylor, but actually saved his job by having a great match with Beulah. Seriously. – The wrestlers talk about doing other jobs behind the scenes to keep costs down. Very interesting stuff, especially Stevie doing the ECW hotline and making up a pseudonym for kayfabe purposes and Tommy personally doing t-shirt orders. – The wrestlers talk about Paul Heyman being the David Koresh of wrestling, brainwashing his guys into doing what he needed from them. They also talk about having the creative freedom to do whatever they wanted. – This naturally leads to Al Snow talking about finding Head and saving his career as a result. Paul spent a fortune buying up Styrofoam heads for the fans, thus creating one of the weirdest pushes in history. – Bischoff denies that ECW was ever the #2 promotion, and explains exactly why. He also questions trying to create a national promotion out of something with hardcore content, and I have to agree with that too. Vince never considered them a threat and denies taking the Attitude era from ECW. This leads to a series of clips showing all the stuff they obviously stole from ECW. There’s a lot more open editorializing going on here than usual for one of these things. – Tazz talks about the match with Bam Bam where they went through the ring. This leads him to invent the Fuck The World title to express his annoyance with Shane Douglas ducking him. Eventually Tazz beat Shane to “unify” the titles. – Moving along to the Dudley Boyz and their fan-friendly activities and abuse of tables. I wouldn’t really call the flaming tables stuff worthy of mention. Sadly, we don’t get a Joel Gertner introduction. We do, however, get Bubba’s “We’ve got a woman who taught her daughter how to suck dick” line from the Heat Wave ’99 PPV. – Next up, the guys talk about working for little money as the wrestling business starts to plateau. Lance Storm talks about bounced cheques and having to confront Paul about it. Tommy didn’t get paid for SIX MONTHS. That’s why ECW wasn’t the great wrestling promotion it’s often claimed to be — wrestling is about making money, and it never did thanks to Paul’s lack of business acumen. And lack of delegation skills, which led to things falling apart when he couldn’t keep up anymore and no one else knew how to run things. – So to continue surviving, they needed national TV. So in September of 99, ECW debuted on TNN. By this time, however, the promotion had lived past its expiry date and was running on borrowed time, especially with Paul’s weird ideas about who to push on top. However, with two weeks to go before their debut, WWF stole Tazz and the Dudley Boyz. Tazz felt like he had nothing left to prove and needed a new challenge. The Dudleyz, however, just saw the financial writing on the wall and decided to escape while they could. They wanted to stay, asking only for $1 more to stay, but Paul refused and they left. – Paul’s list of TNN’s grievances with the show is pretty funny, and it leads to the creation of Cyrus, representing “The Network”. And then they wonder why TNN never promoted them. And in 2000, they got kicked off the network to make way for RAW, leading to Paul doing a crazed rant against TNN on national TV. And that was pretty much it for the promotion, as the PPV buys dried up and the fans stopped watching. – But we continue, as Rob Van Dam was the only remaining star left, and when he broke his leg there was nothing left. – More people leave, as ECW champion Mike Awesome jumps to WCW and the cops have to collect the title from him so he can’t throw it in the garbage. So Tazz does a surprise appearance at a spot show in Indiana and wins the title from Awesome, which left a WWF wrestler against a WCW wrestler for the ECW title at an ECW show. Sadly, Tazz brought the title back to the WWF and got to job to HHH. Just because, you know. Vince apologizes here for that one. – So back in ECW, Tommy Dreamer wins the title from Tazz, his only reign with the title, which was then immediately ended by Justin Credible and his opening-match act. Tommy’s “The only reason I won titles was because guys left” is kind of a sad and profound summing up of his career. – Bischoff talks about trying to serve the hardcore audience and win over the mainstream at the same time, and how it couldn’t work. So Paul talks about trying to find a new network, but they couldn’t because TNN wouldn’t cancel them. And when they finally did, the ship had already sunk. The really sad thing is the roll call of guys who had no choice but to stay with the dying promotion because they were outcasts who couldn’t get work elsewhere. – And in January 2001, the promotion quietly folded after a small show in the middle of nowhere, with a scheduled PPV never produced and no alternative thanks to the death of WCW at the same time. – Everyone talks about what killed the promotion, and it’s the usual reasons: too much violence, not enough business sense. Thankfully they don’t try to blame anyone but Paul Heyman, who keeps beating the drum about surviving if they found another network. I wholeheartedly disagree, as the promotion was dead before it even got onto TNN, and they just didn’t know it. – The final shovel of dirt on the promotion comes as Paul Heyman replaces Jerry Lawler on commentary for RAW and all those in denial had to finally acknowledge that it was over. The Extras: – ECW World tag title match, double-dog collar: Raven & Stevie Richards v. The Pitbulls. Scott Keith completists will already know my feelings about this one, but for the rest of you, this is a fairly famous match that is an answer to a trivia question about myself I once posed in a previous rant. The stipulation here is that the Pitbulls have to split up should they lose. Stevie Richards is notably absent from the introductions, and Beulah explains that he has a “broken arm” and will not be participating tonight, so for the sake of fairness the match will be 2/3 falls. Pitbull 2 attacks and hangs Raven with the chain they’re connected with, while Pitbull 1 heads to the back. Vicious chairshot for Raven as #1 finds Stevie in the dressing room, and indeed he’s already a bloody mess. Raven brings a table in, piledrives Pitbull 2 THROUGH the table, and gets the pin at 2:07. Wild spot there. Raven & Stevie double-DDT #1 and get a two-count. Steviekick gets two. Raven and #2 bring another table in and it gets set up. Stevie gets superbombed through it for the pin at 4:17 to even things up. Okay, that was all just the warmup session for the REAL fun. Brawl into the crowd as Pitbull 1 KILLS Stevie, but gets chaired. Meanwhile, #2 and Raven head back in, where a third table gets involved and the ref gets bumped in the process. The Dudleyz run in to make it 4-on-2, and the heels pair off and superbomb both Pitbulls at once. However, since the law of heel-babyface relations says that a babyface having his own move done to him does not have to sell, they invoke it and pop right back up. DDTs for the heels, and the Dudleys get superbombed. Yet another table is set up for Raven, but he hits his head on the EDGE of the table and I’m shocked he’s still alive. That gets two, so he’s alive. They beat on Stevie, while Raven readies an ether-soaked rag to choke #2 out. That spot was intended as a rib on Jim Cornette’s booking. Raven puts him on two tables, legdrops him through the first one, and elbows him through the second one. This being only 1995, that’s devastating enough to require EMTs for Pitbull 2. In the ring, Stevie goes up and gets crotched, and #1 suplexes him through a table for two. Raven unhooks himself from the chain and makes the save. Francine & Beulah do the mandatory catfight, but Raven DDTs Francine to end that. Tommy Dreamer runs in to take Pitbull 2’s place and beats the hell out of Raven. DDT gets the pin at 14:41, but Joey’s not sure who actually gets the belts. Turns out to be a moot point, as Bill Alphonso comes in to overturn the decision since Dreamer isn’t legally in the match, and he was just being nice allowing it to go on under 2/3 falls rules anyway. And the pin on Raven doesn’t count, so he’s still never pinned him. Tod Gordon gets all indignant and comes in to argue with Fonzie, and Big Dick sneaks in to use the currently-banned chokeslam on Dreamer. Fonzie suddenly waffles and decides to un-ban the chokeslam so that he doesn’t have to suspend Big Dick, and with that 911 makes himself known. For those who didn’t follow this stuff back then, fans had basically been waiting since the day of Fonzie’s introduction as Evil Ref for 911 to chokeslam the shit out of him, but Fonzie countered by banning the move. So 911 comes out, gives Fonzie the BIGGEST CHOKESLAM EVER, holding him up there for like 10 seconds, and the place is just going apeshit. Pitbull #2 rejoins things, and they set up Raven for the superbomb, then put Stevie on HIS shoulders, superbomb both guys at once, and Tod Gordon personally counts the pin at 19:40 as the Pitbulls finally beat Raven & Richards to win the titles. Whereas normally overbooking is done too often in the wrong place, this was exactly the right amount of excess done in the right match, with the right finish. And given the total insanity of everything after the 5:00 mark and all the intricate storylines weaved into one 20:00 match, this became the one and only match in ECW history that I ever rated *****, so for those of you who still e-mail me asking about it, there you are. This match was also voted #1 in the DVDVR awards for the Best ECW match of the 90s, so many agree with me on it. Of course, many also disagree, most notably Dave Meltzer (albeit in a nice way). This is definitely a match you need the right context to fully “get”, but I’d recommend checking it out at least once to see what Paul is capable of with the right motivation and guys. – Rey Mysterio Jr. v. Psicosis. OK, proper match this time. From Oct. 95, 2/3 falls. Rey sends Psi out of the ring quickly and follows with a springboard plancha into the first row. Another crazy dive, this one over the top, lands in the first row again. Dangerous area tonight. Back in, Rey snaps off a rana for the pin at 1:20. Second fall, as Rey dodges Psi and gets a leg lariat to send him into the corner, but charges and hits the apron. He recovers with a flying rana that sends Psi to the floor, and he follows with a rana from the apron now. Rey goes back in and Psi stops to recover. Back in, Psi gets an enzuigiri and whips Rey into the corner for a nice upside down bump. Into the other corner off an inverted body vice, and he spears Rey, who is hung in the Tree of Woe. He adds a running boot to the face and a powerbomb for two. Into a Sharpshooter, but he releases. Rey bails, so Psi follows and sends him into the railing, and adds a chair to the knee for good measure. Back in for a slingshot legdrop, but he misses a blind charge. Rey comes back with a handspring into another rana, but a quebrada is caught by Psi and turned into a tombstone for the pin at 7:05 to tie it up. Third fall sees Psi powerbombing Rey through a table on the floor to start, and slamming him into the first row. Nice bump. Psi goes back in and follows with a tope con hilo. Crazy. Back in, Psi misses a blind charge and takes another crazy bump, into the post, and Rey follows with a springboard plancha to the floor. They throw chairs at each other and Rey chokes him out with one, then sends him into the post with a chair around his neck. Back in, Rey gets a flying rana from the top for two. A headscissors puts Psi on the floor, and he follows with a springboard cannonball. They fight on the floor and Rey gets put on a table, and Psi follows with a senton from the top to put him through it. Back in, Psi gets another powerbomb and goes up, moonsaulting onto a chair to finish Rey at 13:53. That was a truly crazy and sick spotfest, and I loved it. Maybe it’s the recent toned-down attitude of the WWE, but this held up really well. ****1/2 – ECW World title, ladder match: Sandman v. Mikey Whipwreck. Sandman’s music is tactfully edited out by the production guys, for what should be obvious reasons. So is Mikey’s, since Beck costs as much as Metallica, I guess. The belt isn’t hanging anywhere, it’s just a match with a ladder involved. Entrances alone burn 10 minutes of the 18 allotted to the chapter, by the way, including Steve Austin’s saunter into the ring during the introductions and hilarious verbal attacks on both guys. Mikey hits Sandman with the ladder to start and they brawl outside, but Mikey gets dropped headfirst on the ladder as they head back in. Ouch. Sandman does his somersault legdrop (nearly slipping off the apron in the process) and Mikey bails to recover. Sandman throws the ladder at him, and then puts it on the apron and suplexes Mikey onto it. He follows with a legdrop that puts Mikey on the concrete. He finally gets some offense with a chairshot and a rana from the apron that allows Sandman to showcase his, ahem, awesome selling skills, and they fight into the crowd. Sandman jumps over the top, onto the ladder, hitting Mikey in the face with it as a result. That actually came across as improvised instead of horribly contrived for once. Back in, Sandman misses another legdrop and Mikey comes back by hitting him with the ladder, a couple of times. That gets one. Mikey goes up and splashes Sandman under the ladder for the pin and the title at 6:30. The pre-match promo was way better than the match. * – TV Title match: 2 Cold Scorpio v. Sabu. Sabu goes for the chair really quickly and takes Scorp out. Scorpio bails and Sabu follows with a chair-assisted tope con hilo. Back in the ring, and Scorpio reverses a powerbomb into one of his own, then a legdrop off the second rope. He rams Sabu face- first into a chair. He tries it again, and Sabu reverses. Air Sabu and we’re back on the floor again. Running somersault off the apron and back into the ring. Scorpio with a crescent kick to waylay Sabu and then he nails Sabu with a running chairshot. Scorpio on the offensive with a Stinger splash, but Sabu reverses an Ocean Cyclone Suplex attempt into a rollup for two. A wrestling sequence leads to Sabu going to the rear chinlock, then a regular chinlock. C’mon guys, GST. Get your Shit Together. Scorpio punts Sabu in the boys to send him outside the ring, then suplexes him in for two. Sabu doesn’t appreciate that and smacks him around, then hits a slingshot legdrop for two. Sabu works the armbar, but Scorpio escapes and misses a moonsault. Man, eh got so much hangtime he nearly overshot. Sabu the Arabian Facebuster for two, but he hurts his leg. Scorpio takes advantage with a pancake and a standing moonsault for two. He crotches him on the bottom rope for good measure. Tumbleweed misses, and Sabu goes to the top, but get powerbombed off for two. Scorpio to the top, and Sabu with a victory roll from the top for two. Scorpio misses a dropkick and heads out, and Sabu follows with a top suicida. Back in and a slingshot clothesline gets two. Sabu goes back to the armbar. Scorpio escapes and drops him on the mat face-first. He tries what looks like a TKO, but Sabu grabs the top rope and back out we go. Sabu moonsaults off the apron, almost breaking his knees on the railing in the process. He sets up a ridiculously intricate spot, putting Scorpio on the table in the front row, then setting up a chair in the ring. He jumps on the chair, onto the top rope, and dives onto the table, just as Scorpio moves, and goes through the table. Pretty cool spot, but out of place. Joey: “I think he may be dead”. Back in the ring and Scorpio gets a two out of all that. Scorpio with an ugly powerbomb, reversed to an uglier rana by Sabu. Either Sabu is a great actor or he’s really messed up. Sabu with a moonsault for two. Another one misses badly, and Scorpio hits a powerbomb and Da Bomb for two. Kind of a uranage thing sets Sabu up for a legdrop off the top with a chair across his face. It gets two. Back to the top, but Sabu smacks him with the chair and hits a rana for two. Double-KO spot with two minutes left. The fans smell the draw. 450 splash from Scorpio, but he won’t cover. He goes to the other corner and misses whatever by a mile. Sabu drops a couple of legs with a chair in the middle, but time runs out. Spotty, but pretty much the best Sabu match I’ve seen in a long time. **** – Tommy Dreamer v. Raven. This is what was supposed to be the “final” match between them, although Raven’s departure for WCW proved to be less final. Tommy and Raven immediately fight into the crowd and Tommy gets the best of that. This has commentary from Coach and Tommy on the secondary track, by the way. Yes, COACH, bastion of hardcore wrestling. Raven comes back with a piledriver on a table, which doesn’t break, and Tommy offers a self-deprecating comment about it. Up to the stage, where Raven rams Tommy into the wall and sets up another table, but that backfires on him. Coach and Tommy taking shots at Raven is pretty funny. Back down to the floor, as they whip each other into the guardrail and Raven gets crotched on it. Because it’s not a Tommy Dreamer match unless someone’s getting cracked in the nuts with a steel object. So back into the crowd with more funny comments from Dreamer and reminiscing about Heyman ripping him off. Back to the floor, as Raven chairs Tommy, and they finally get into the ring, where Raven gets the DROP TOEHOLD OF DOOM. And as expected, Tommy takes a shot in the nuts. Up to the top, but Tommy fights him off, only to get tossed onto a chair for two. He comes back with the hiptoss DDT, but the ref is bumped via a sign from the crowd. It turns out to be a road sign (which Tommy takes credit for inventing), and Tommy piledrives Raven on it for two. Lucas the lackey gets involved and Beulah gets rid of him, but Raven rolls up Tommy for two. Tommy rolls up Raven for two. Chastity sprays him in the face with something and Raven gets two, and we’ve got a catfight as the overbooking kicks in something fierce. Tommy gets a DDT onto the sign for two. The ref is bumped again as Tommy gets a millionth DDT, but now Louie Spicoli runs in and DDTs Dreamer and puts Raven on top for two. Tommy comes back and gets rid of Louie, but Raven DDTs him for two. Enough with the DDT. Tommy obliges by changing to a Death Valley Driver, then another DDT for the pin at 15:08. But the lights go out and RVD appears (doing the WWF invader gimmick) and beats up on Dreamer. Then lights out and Sabu appears for more beatings. Dreamer comes back again, so lights out a third time and this time it’s Jerry Lawler, and that was huge. It turns into a giant brawl with the heels just kicking the crap out of Dreamer and no one able to get into the ring and save. It would lead to Jerry Lawler v. Tommy Dreamer at the Hardcore Heaven PPV in a match was given rave reviews at the time, but pretty much sucks these days. Much like this one, which was brawling and a million DDTs and nothing else. Great commentary, though. *3/4 – ECW TV title: Tazz v. Bam Bam Bigelow. Michael Cole & Tazz are doing alternate commentary here, ‘natch. This is more famous for the finish than the match. Tazz takes him down with an armbar to start, but they quickly fight out and Tazz gets sent into the railing. Back in, Bammer gets a powerbomb for two. He sets up Tazz in the corner, but charges right into a lariat that looked pretty darn stiff. Tazz tries a suplex, but Bam Bam falls on top for two. Bigelow charges and gets dumped on the ramp, and Tazz follows with an exploder that results in him knocking himself silly on the railing as he takes the landing wrong. Tazz is loopy and talks about it on the commentary, so Bam Bam clotheslines him back to the ringside concrete again. Because that’s the best medicine for concussions. Back in, Bam Bam gets a DDT and goes up for a bad moonsault that gets two. Bammer grabs a table (which proves to be pre-broken) and can’t really set it up, but Tazz fights out of a powerbomb and flapjacks Bam Bam through it. Cole claims that Bigelow was sandbagging him on that one, which is kind of weird coming from Michael Cole. Tazz gets two. They fight outside and exchange shoot punches over a piece of wood that didn’t break right (according to Tazz) and it’s back into the crowd. BBB hammers on him, which only gets Tazz more fired up, and Bigelow slips and falls on his ass doing a low blow. Back in, Bigelow tries Greetings from Asbury Park, but Tazz reverses to the choke and Bigelow falls back…and the ring breaks, as they fall into a hole in the corner. Tazz reveals that he’s unconscious down there after hitting his head on the way down, and Bam Bam pulls him out and gets the pin and the title at 13:34. Didn’t like it back then, still don’t like it, although the commentary reveals a lot of hidden entertainment value. ** – ECW TV title: Rob Van Dam v. Jerry Lynn. This is from the Hardcore Heaven 99 PPV, and RVD provides commentary along with Michael Cole. They trade wristlocks to start and take it to the mat, but it’s a stalemate. Another reversal series and another stalemate follows. Rob does some stalling and talks about how Fonzie’s whistle didn’t actually bother him. He’s the only one. Another stalemate and Rob gets a mouse on his right eye, and it’s more stalling. Lynn bails and Rob follows with a plancha, but misses. Lynn dropkicks him on the apron and follows with a guillotine legdrop for two. They head up and Jerry gets a nasty bulldog from the top for two. Back up for Lynn, but Fonzie crotches him and holds up the chair. Lynn ducks tries a springboard dropkick, but Rob counters that and crotches him, then kicks him down to the floor, as Lynn takes the bump wrong and knocks himself out. That seems to be a theme for this disc. Rob picks up the dead weight JL (literally, not like Kevin Nash) and knocks him into the crowd again to buy some time. Jerry finally recovers as they head into the ring, and comes back with a rollup out of the corner for two. Rob hits him with a piledriver counter and Rolling Thunder, but another try misses. Into the corner, as they counter each other’s DDT attempt and Rob gets a bridge for two. Lynn powerbombs him out of the corner for two. Lynn heads out and sets up a table on the floor, but gets backdropped into the front row. Fonzie tosses a chair at Lynn, who stupidly catches it and eats a Van Daminator. Lynn recovers and they fight on the apron, however, but now Lynn gets backdropped off the top and through a table on the other side. Rough luck tonight. Rob puts him on the railing and drops the leg on him, and back in he gets two. The chair gets involved again as Rob kicks the chair at his head after 15 flips, and back to the top they go. Lynn goes down first and Rob follows with the legdrop, but Lynn fights back and they battle on the apron, which leads to Lynn powerbombing RVD off the apron, through a table. Back in, Lynn misses a blind charge, but comes back and kills Fonzie with a chair, then follows with a german suplex for two. To the top, but Rob kicks him down, and they fight over a suplex. No one gets it, as both fall off and the fans get on them. Rob picks up the chair, but Lynn hits him with a Van Daminator for two. Sneaky. Another reversal as they’re running on fumes, but Lynn goes for the cradle piledriver and then opts for a rollup for two. Back to the top and Lynn goes down this time, which allows Rob to follow with a split-legged moonsault for two. Lynn comes back with an inverted DDT attempt, but Rob reverses out and legdrops him, then goes up with the frog splash, but Lynn reverses the pin for two. They fight for a suplex, but Rob opts for the Van Daminator instead and finishes with the frog splash at 26:56. Started slow with a lot of stalling, but they really won me over by the end with all the counters and false finishes. **** Lynn should have gone over here, though. – Stevie Richards talks about suffering a serious neck injury in 1997, and then lying about it and going to WCW as a result. That didn’t last long, as he had heat with Raven and went back to ECW briefly before jumping to the WWE for good. So this is basically his apology to the boys for doing such a dillweed at the time. OK then. – Next up, Tazz talks about trying to get Paul Heyman’s blessing for his WWE career. It was always his dream to work in MSG, and he called Heyman from the train after not speaking to him for months. – Jericho talks about Paul’s travel booking skills, or lack thereof. Most notably, Heyman buying a bereavement fare for Jericho and Johnny Smith because “brother in law” Chris Benoit had “died”. – There’s also a couple of Easter Eggs here, the best of which is Mikey training with Public Enemy to prepare for his World title match with Sandman, as Rocco Rock sounds drunk off his ass. Funny stuff. The Inside Pulse: This was probably one of the best “history of” bits they’ve done, as Vince’s “ECW is not a threat” attitude meant that they had the freedom to basically paint history as it was rather than how the WWE wants it to be remembered. At three hours, it’s a bit much for casual fans, but if you want to know pretty much everything about ECW there is to know, this is for you. I think it also works as a sad chronicle of how wrestling is a business and not a grand fairy tale, summed up by the renegade promotion having its last gasp as part of a DVD released by the winners of the war. The extras disc is a mixed bag, but there’s pretty much something for every aspect of ECW here aside from the REALLY hardcore element, and it’s hard to find fault with the match selection. And hey, there’s always that 24/7 channel anyway. Highest recommendation.

Rise & Fall of WCW

Picked this one up in the bargain bin and if you can find it for $5, I will say that Disc 2 is arguably the greatest thing the guys that select the matches for these things has EVER done. Seriously you think it can’t get better than the previous match…and it does. Of course Disc 3 isn’t as good but there are some serious cruiserweight gems in there.

So if you’re home alone this weekend while Mr. Princess and the kid are on their annual fishing excursion, find this for $5 and watch it while you catch up on work.

But naturally I have a question about this from the “program” portion of the set and it concerns Dusty Rhodes. Generally I’m a fan of Big Dust but I am curious of how others think of him. Is Dusty’s reputation of being a visionary with occasional flaws one of fact or fiction? I know he had a role in a LOT of shit but has his role in that past success become greater through these various DVDs and WWE productions?

Fall Brawl 1996

This is another one that I did a long time ago so the quality again may not be that strong. I apologize in advance.

Fall Brawl 1996
Date: September 15, 1996
Location: Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Winston Salem, North Carolina
Attendance: 11,300
Commentators: Dusty Rhodes, Bobby Heenan, Tony Schiavone

Reviewed by Tommy Hall

WOW that’s a long name for a place to hold a show. This show is about two things: War Games and Sting. Six days before this, Sting had been announced as being in Japan for that day so he would NOT be at Nitro. Ok, fine. So later on in the night, Luger went chasing after someone in the NWO and ran into the parking lot where the NWO limo awaited. And out pops Sting. My jaw went through the floor when I saw it as a kid.

It turns out though that it’s a fake Sting and that the real guy really was in Japan. The deal here though is that even though we knew he was in Japan, he looked a lot like the real Sting so the WCW guys believed he had really turned until he told them otherwise. This was stupid from both sides. One: it was established he was in Japan.

If that’s the case, why wouldn’t they believe him? Second, can you blame them for believing it was him at least for awhile? Does NO ONE watch film anymore? So yeah the main event is NWO vs. WCW in War Games and neither team knows who the fourth guy for their team is, which makes things a bit odd but whatever. Let’s get to it.

The opening video is of course about the war between the two organizations. Oh and Giant has joined since the last show. Other than that it’s just about the chaos the NWO has been going off about in the last few months. We see the video from Sting “turning” and Eric FREAKING is great. We also see them destroying a car last night with their bats. Why were they never arrested?

Diamond Dallas Page vs. Chavo Guerrero

Well this is an odd pairing. DDP is a heel still and is feuding with both Guerreros at this point. Chavo is almost brand new here having been in the company like five months and is TINY here. He hit the gym over the years and filled out a lot which is good for him as he looks pretty pathetic here. There are two rings here and they’re in the left one.

Chavo goes off on him early on the floor and whips him with a belt that I have no idea where he got. Apparently Eddie won the Battlebowl ring at Clash of the Champions from DDP so at least they’ve set this match up. This is a real contrast of styles as Chavo is young and fast and DDP is really bad at this point still. He’s pretty much the prime example of a guy that started off as horrible and just clawed his way up to being a quite good wrestler that was popular as well.

He kind of had a gimmick change but it was really more that he turned face and got confidence. He hits a top rope clothesline to really take over as Dusty is having way too much fun here. DDP hooks a nice little rolling move as he’s improving at this point. To be fair though he was horrible before this so an improvement is hard to avoid. He had some flashes of good stuff though and you could see it here.

Not that we’ve been told this or anything as it’s all about the main event here even though we’ve already bought the PPV in theory so it’s not like it needs to be hyped or anything. In a nice move (again) he sets for a belly to back suplex but just spins him over so he lands face first. That was very nice. Chavo makes his comeback with really basic stuff and some jumping stuff but again he’s a relative rookie here so there we are.

He kind of messes up a hurricanrana but it wasn’t terrible I guess. And now we’re in the other ring and Tony actually asks if this could be a count out. That’s….actually an interesting question as they’re in a different ring but they’re still in a ring. The fans are rising up for rollups. That’s a good sign and then they cheer loudly for a Helicopter Bomb by DDP for two. In a creative ending, DDP stomps on Chavo’s foot and gets the Diamond Cutter to a NICE face pop. His turn was coming very soon.

Rating: C+. Nothing too special here but not bad at all. DDP was getting better and better every time he had a big match and this was one of them. He still wasn’t that good, but you could see a lot of promise in him. He had the good music and the kick ass finisher so he was well on his way. Once he turned face though, it was all awesome as his feud with Savage was one of the highlights of WCW. We’ll get to that soon enough.

SPECIAL REPORT

Gene talks about the NWO and what they’ve done. Uh, why are we seeing this now? Why would we need to see this if we’ve bought the show already? Couldn’t there be a match in this time or something? It’s a GREAT video that explains the first few months of the angle perfectly, but why are we watching this now?

Ice Train vs. Scott Norton

This is a submission match. Again I have to ask WHY? Is there anyone that thinks we need to see two matches between these guys? I was a semi-mark for Ice Train though so I’m not completely furious. Teddy Long of all people is managing Ice Train. Has this guy ever not been on a roster somewhere? He’s FAT looking here which is just bizarre considering what he looks like now. Train works on the arm which makes sense at least.

Now he uses…let’s call it a chinlock and be nice. Tony points out that Norton is using the same move that another guy uses for a finisher which might be bad but I’m not sure. They need to pick a freaking body part and STICK WITH IT. Norton has worked the arm, the back and the neck and now the arm again. Teddy comes in and distracts and a full nelson ends Norton. At least it wasn’t that long.

Rating: F+. Seriously, THIS gets 7 minutes of PPV time? Why? Who thought this was a good use of PPV time? Having them do one match at Hog Wild at least made sense, but did we really need to see these two in a gimmick match, especially THIS gimmick? I don’t think so.

Mexican Heavyweight Title: Konnan vs. Juventud Guerrera

Ok a lot to talk about here. For one thing, the Mexican Heavyweight Title is the AAA Americas’ Title, a title that was a midcard title that Konnan was the first to win. He won it then bailed to WCW with it so they just didn’t talk about it any more. He’s also a heel now with the whole street thing going on and has joined the Dungeon of Doom so he has Jimmy Hart with him. As for Juvy, he’s brand new here, having been around about three weeks.

There was also an internet rumor that he was actually Sean Waltman under the mask which is about as bizarre of a story as I’ve ever heard of. He trips over the steps during his intro in a funny thing, so maybe there was a reason for that story after all. Oh yeah we actually have a match to do now. Konnan is now described as a big man. That’s just odd to hear. In a painful looking spot, Konnan picks him up and just drops him over the top to the floor.

Juvy goes to the other ring and hits a QUADRUPLE jump leg lariat to take over. Take that Sabu. This is back when Konnan was motivated and therefore was actually interesting to watch as well as entertaining. The commentary just stops for like 30 seconds. That was strange. I’m watching a WCW show where there is decent wrestling going on.

Never mind on that strange comment. Juvy is flying all over the place here and it’s surprisingly working for me. Tenay calls the rope the top strand. Ok then. They botch the hell out of a moonsault press. I’d put that on Konnan though as it looked fine but Konnan didn’t sell it at all. He hits a great powerbomb to make up for it I guess. There’s a good deal of sloppiness here but for the most part it’s working.

In a STUPID move, Juvy has him set for a top rope rana and instead just backflips off the top. Konnan hits a dropkick immediately as he lands which Juvy freaking deserves. Damn that looked stupid. The masked dude hits a springboard spinwheel kick which is one of my favorite moves. 450 hits for two. A corkscrew splash gets two as for some reason the crowd is dead all of a sudden. Konnan hits what we would call a Musclebuster for two and then a super powerbomb from the top for the pin.

Rating: B-. This gets a much better grade if not for the sloppiness. I thought it worked quite well though for what they were trying to do. This was another example of WCW throwing some people out there and seeing what they could do. On that level I would say it definitely worked. Again though, the constant botches were hurting it. There was some good stuff though so I’d say it was good.

Chris Benoit vs. Chris Jericho

Yeah this works. Again you can see the solid lower and midcard guys having the best matches and then the main event stuff being pure drama that was epic. With this kind of combination, there was no chance for any other company to touch WCW. The announcers imply that Benoit could be the fourth WCW guy in case Sting has jumped.

Benoit uses the Liontamer (as in the more painful looking one) before Jericho adopted it which is very weird looking. Dusty thinks there could have been 20 men in that limo with Sting, somehow managing to rival the in ring match for entertainment value. It’s so weird seeing a motivated Jericho in WCW. He goes for a springboard move but lands BACK FIRST on the apron on the way down. Freaking OW.

You can see the star in Jericho begging to be let out. Sadly it would never happen in this company. Bobby says you can hear those chops in Vietnam. What’s in that cup he’s drinking? According to Joey Styles it was vodka so there we go. Benoit is a Horseman here so he’s incredibly popular as we’re in Horsemen country, which is always odd to me since they were the top heels in that area for the most time.

This is Jericho’s PPV debut so he’s brand new as well. Let the chopping begin! Heenan is a bit tipsy already I think. The headbutt hits but it’s more like a splash, which works just fine too. That’s a perk of having a move such as that as if it’s botched like that it still looks fine. Apparently he was going 65-70 miles an hour too. I love WCW commentary at times.

And of course we get a line about the Shell Answer Man which Tony of course tries to explain, going from entertaining to ARE YOU KIDDING ME mode in seconds. Jericho goes Canadian as Heenan makes the Shell joke again. Tombstone hits Benoit but the Lionsault doesn’t. Dusty makes the comment that Jericho would be a big star in WCW.

That’s one for two I guess, but he had an eye for talent at least. He also says Benoit is the best pound for pound athlete in WCW but forget the pound for pound aspect. Benoit hits a belly to back off the top to knock Jericho the fuck out for the pin.

Rating: B. This was a very physical match that told a good story: Jericho is the rookie that has nothing at all to lose and Benoit is the hot young guy that is looking to make a statement. These two should have headlined a bunch of PPVs, but alas we got Hogan vs. Savage about a million times instead.

Both of these two wound up main eventing Wrestlemania though so I think they had what it took, despite the old guys saying otherwise. Anyway, this was a very good match, but seriously, did you expect anything else?

Cruiserweight Title: Super Calo vs. Rey Mysterio

Thankfully Tenay is here for this but his mic doesn’t work. That leaves Heenan and Dusty to make their bad jokes about nothing in particular. Calo always looked kind of fat to me for some reason. He’s listed at 200lbs but I have some issue with that. He has a backwards hat on but I think the sunglasses are painted on his mask. So he’s the Blue Meanie? Some idiot chants boring a minute into the match.

Apparently his name comes from a big rap group in Mexico. Ok then. Rey is more or less the king of the hurricanrana so that’s the majority of his offense. He does the 619 but it’s more or less a taunting thing at this point. Calo hits a slingshot powerbomb which is a cool looking move. Calo hits an overhead senton to the floor onto Rey who is down. FREAKING OW! Calo is dominating here which isn’t expected by either myself or Rey.

Someone must have slipped Heenan some coffee as he’s far more coherent all of a sudden. We hear about some Lucha de Apuestas matches which is a new one on me in WCW (meaning I’ve never heard them talked about, not that I don’t know what they are). Rey finally comes back but Calo hits a dropkick to block his springboard something. It’s been probably 90-10 Calo here as he’s dominated.

Rey hits an INSANE rana with like 4 different bounces and springboards in it. This is why Rey used to be my favorite wrestler. Rey gets a springboard sunset flip for two as Bobby keeps trying to talk about the NWO and is actually ignored for the most part. That’s a different one also. Finally Rey hits a double springboard into the West Coast Pop for the pin.

Rating: B-. This was good but it went on WAY too long. This gets three minutes cut out and it’s way better. Calo was never really much of anything, but he’s another example of a guy that got a chance in WCW and since he was brand new to the American audience, he was considered cool because he wasn’t like what was being seen.

That’s the brilliance of Bischoff in the day: throw so much at them so fast they can’t tell if it’s good or bad. The ending was well thought out though so it worked. There’s your difference between Bischoff and Russo.

Tag Titles: Harlem Heat vs. Nasty Boys

Heat have the belts here. So we go from Benoit, Jericho and Mysterio to this. Ok then. We get clubbering as Dusty LOSES it. That was kind of funny. I had to do this match about 5 times in 94 and 95 so I really don’t care that much about it here. Double teaming allows the champions to take over. Knobbs and Stevie run the ropes and it’s painful to see. Knobbs is so out of shape it’s pathetic.

And let’s get a chinlock now because this match is so riveting otherwise. Also throughout the match Sherri and Colonel Parker keep interfering to get on my nerves. I’m just killing time here until we get to the next two matches as they’re the “meat” of the show with War Games and Savage vs. Giant. Why was Savage not thrown into War Games? They didn’t have a fourth guy and you have Randy Savage in a nothing match with the Giant?

Does this make anything resembling sense? Sags hits a piledriver which has Bobby freaking out over them using a move. That wasn’t a piledriver but whatever. Parker trips Sags up to switch momentum again and I just do not care at all. END THE FUCKING MATCH ALREADY!

It’s been ten minutes so far and it’s all brawling and stuff like that with a ton of interfering from the managers. END THIS. Knobbs gets like the 8th hot tag of the match and I’m barely paying attention at this point since the belts aren’t changing hands. FINALLY a cane shot from Booker to Knobbs ends this idiocy. Move on PLEASE.

Rating: F. Oh just no. Who thought that these guys deserved 15 minutes? This was just boring as all hell and NO ONE cared at all. This was terrible and deserves to fail.

Savage guarantees he’ll beat the Giant and then beat Hogan at Halloween Havoc.

Randy Savage vs. The Giant

Savage is wearing a Nitro T-shit. Great way to make your #1 contender look like a jobber. Giant still has the Dungeon of Doom music here. Tony and Bobby are just funny as far as the anti-NWO stuff goes. Savage wisely doesn’t let him get in the ring to start us off. And then he goes to the floor to fight. WHY DOES EVERYONE TRY TO SLAM BIG MEN? It’s A BODY SLAM.

It’s hardly some big epic move that’s going to kill someone or explode their kidneys. It’s a damn body slam. Giant says he’s going to make Savage disappear. Is he a magician all of a sudden? Giant hooks a back breaker hold as all of the fans are looking at something more interesting. Even the announcers point it out. And now it’s a Boston Crab. Yes, a guy the size of the Giant is using Rick Martel’s hold.

Can we just get to War Games now? Savage actually slams him in the only power display I’ve ever seen from him. He hits the elbow and doesn’t cover to allow the storyline to go forward. And here’s Hogan who he chases after. Yep, Hall distracts him and Nash pops him with a chair. Beatdown commences, Nick Patrick sees nothing of course, and Giant gets a simple pin.

Rating: D. This was short and bad. At least it wasn’t that long and now we’re down to War Games so I can’t complain. This somehow was supposed to build up to Halloween Havoc but whatever. At least this wasn’t that long and now I’m repeating myself out of boredom. Considering how awesome the first hour and 45 minutes or so went, the last half hour has been AWFUL.

The cage is lowered. This is always cool.

Flair, Anderson and Luger say their usual stuff. Flair is asked who will be the fourth man but doesn’t say a name. He almost implies there won’t be a fourth. Anderson starts talking a bit, but here’s Sting. He says it wasn’t him and Luger says he looked him right in the eyes and knows it was him. Maybe he should have gotten his eyes checked. Sting says he’ll see Luger in awhile. Other than a promo the next night on Nitro, he wouldn’t speak again until January 98.

Before we get going, here are the rules. It’s 4 on 4 (although we don’t know who the fourth guy is for either team as Sting has apparently been thrown out). They both send in a man in each to begin for five minutes. At four minutes in there’s a coin toss (the heels literally never lost) to determine control.

After the first five minute period ends, the team that won the toss sends in its second man and they have a 2-1 advantage. This lasts two minutes and after that two minutes the losing team sends in its second man making it 2-2. They alternate for two minute periods until all 8 are in and then it’s first submission (no pins) wins.

War Games: Team NWO vs. Team WCW

So far it’s Hogan, Hall and Nash vs. Flair, Anderson and Luger. You know there’s a huge angle coming when Hogan, Hall, Nash and Giant vs. Flair, Anderson, Luger and Sting isn’t the best they can do. That’s a SICK sounding War Games when you think about it, but that’s not the best they can do. Scott Hall is first for the NWO and he has DiBiase with him. Anderson starts for WCW. That promo from Sting was the first time he had been seen in 6 days.

To be fair, maybe he couldn’t get a flight back from Japan. Maybe I should stop thinking about it so much. We keep hearing about how awesome the Horsemen are in this match. Did they ever win one? Hall beats him up to start. Well that went well. Dusty cheering for Anderson is just wrong on so many levels. Nick Patrick is the referee. Bobby freaks out over who the fourth man is for the NWO and how unfair it is for them not to tell WCW who the fourth man is.

Tony: they don’t know our fourth man either. Arn gets the figure four for like 3 seconds which is just odd. The problem is that Arn vs. Hall really isn’t that interesting of a match. The key thing here is that it looks like an awesome structure and it really is. Patrick threatens to end the match right now much to the announcers’ chagrins. We hit two minutes left. The NWO of course wins the coin toss.

There’s the spinebuster on Hall and then a half crab which Hall taps to. It’s Nash in second and after about 9 seconds Arn goes down to a big boot. Nash hits Snake Eyes, and he was the guy that actually gave it that name when he was Vinny Vegas back in the early 90s. Luger jumps the gun and they realize there’s nothing they can do about it so there we are. He’s wearing black boots which is kind of weird looking.

He beats up both Outsiders for awhile and Arn is back up now. There’s a formula to these matches and to be fair it worked so there was no real need to ever change it. Heenan points out that everyone should just come out here now. WCW dominates as we have 15 seconds left.

Hogan is 3rd so it’s the original three vs. Luger and Anderson. Hogan goes off on Arn which is a match that happened a lot on Nitro in 96 actually. The fans want Flair as Anderson is beating Hogan up. That’s a new one. Hogan drops the leg on Anderson and we’re still waiting on Flair. There he is to an ERUPTION. It’s North Carolina. Did you expect anything else?

Flair stays in the empty ring and calls out Hogan. Dusty then cracks me up to the point where I have to stop the video. “One on one, I don’t know if Hogan can beat Flair.” WOW. I don’t think Flair has ever beaten Hogan, but all of a sudden Hogan can’t beat him. That’s just hilarious. We go split screen when for once we actually should. Flair goes low on everyone and WCW is in control again.

“Sting” is the fourth man in the NWO. This became a running joke as there would be like a million fake Stings over the years, ranging from Chris Harris to guys as tall as Nash and somehow the announcers could never tell. There’s another referee in there now too. The fans, having basic intelligence and passable vision, of course get the idea as they chant WE WANT STING.

Another way to tell is that Sting has always had a very unique striking style. Pop in some Sting tapes and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Oh and Tony offers a pearl of wisdom by saying the one man advantage has been the deciding factor. The clock runs out and it’s the real Sting. His pop is better than Flair’s so take that for what it’s worth. He beats the living crap out of the NWO on his own and stares down Luger.

He leaves, asking if that’s good enough. The NWO destroys them afterwards with Sting putting on a Scorpion and Hogan making sure he gets some credit by throwing on a horrible front facelock for the “submission.” In a scary line, Heenan says that hold could make Luger lose the use of his legs, which of course he has in real life. Luger crawls towards the back, screaming for Sting.

And now he gets beaten up even worse. The Horsemen keep fighting but it’s 4-2 at this point so it doesn’t mean much. Savage runs out and he goes straight for Hogan. Hogan runs and here’s the Giant. The beatdown is on and it’s bad for Savage. Here’s Liz to do….something. She tries to cover up Savage and gets painted with the words 4 Life on her ass. I’m sure there’s a joke there.

The fans think he sucks and he wants a mic. He talks about how they said they would be together until death do them part and he says he’ll make that happen then SPITS ON LIZ. WOW. Yeah he’s going to hell. Tony says this is the lowest WCW has ever reached. Oh you don’t want to go there dude.

This company had the Ding Dongs for crying out loud. Giant says he’s the best artist in the world. This needs to end. And now the NWO takes over the announce position in the middle of the announcers bitching about life in general. The show ended over ten minutes after the match ended.

Rating: C+. This match is about getting to the ending. The wrestling itself is just boring as hell though. However, it’s War Games, which makes it awesome by association. The match was of course second to the ending but it worked out fine for what it was. This was about setting up Sting and the biggest angle in company history and it certainly worked in that regard. It built to that point so I can’t complain.

Overall Rating: B. Other than the AWFUL tag title match, there isn’t really anything that bad on here. There are a ton of good and entertaining matches in play here and every one of them worked just fine. Also, other than the Savage match and the submission match, everything here is at least thirteen minutes long.

They let the guys go out there and work and it came off very well. This would become the system used for a LONG time in WCW: awesome midcard, terrible main stuff and while it started out awesome, ultimately it ended WCW for reasons we’ll get to later. Overall though, very good show and well worth checking out. Just fast forward the tag title stuff.

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