The SmarK Rant for WCW Great American Bash 1996

The SmarK Rant for WCW Great American Bash 96 – 06.16.96 Upgraded from my Roku Streaming Stick to the brand new version of the Roku 3 today, and everything is blazingly fast now. Except for the WWE Network, which immediately crashed the Roku when I tried to fast-forward something. Because of course. Live from Baltimore, MD Your hosts are Tony Schiavone & Dusty Rhodes. I totally forgot about the goofy SNME-style promos before the show, actually. They were definitely ripping off aspects of the WWF presentation style around this point. Fire & Ice v. The Steiner Brothers Ice Train overpowers Scott for two, but the Steiners clean house. Norton works on Rick, but he gets suplexed for two and Scott adds a dropkick. Norton of course is merely inconvenienced and beats Scott down, allowing Ice Train to come in for more punishment. Corner splash misses and Scott suplexes him out of the corner, then he suplexes Norton and nearly breaks his neck. He’s got a pretty thick neck anyway, I’m sure he wouldn’t have even noticed. Norton bails and Scott tries a flying bodypress in the ring, but Norton catches him with a powerslam for two. Train comes in and works on the shoulder, with Norton adding a shoulderbreaker into an armbar. Rick repeatedly kicks Norton in the face to break that up and I’m sensing some tensions here. Another shoulderbreaker, but Scott manages to tag Rick while on Norton’s back and Rick runs wild with clotheslines. Fire & Ice double-team Rick with a powerbomb into a splash, however, and they try a Doomsday Device, but Scott breaks it up and they get the flying bulldog on Norton for two. Scott with the Frankensteiner on Norton to finish at 10:31. Kudos to Flash for taking that thing. Good hard-hitting match to start. *** US Title: Konnan v. El Gato Gato is no Joe Gomez as far as challengers go. As always, I remind you that El Gato is Spanish for “Pat Tanaka”. This was typical WCW weirdness, as they decided to book a match between Konnan and a masked man named El Gato, but had no real idea of who would play the part. So instead of getting any actual Mexicans, they found Tanaka at whatever waffle house he was wrestling out of in 1996 and gave him the gig instead. And they’re not even TRYING, as Tanaka is just wearing his usual gear with a Tiger Mask gimmick stuck over his trademark hair. Gato uses his South American martial arts to take Konnan down with armdrags, but Konnan puts him down with a clothesline for two. Gato gets a superkick for two and a sunset flip for two, but Konnan takes him down and works on the leg. Konnan puts him on the floor with a powerbomb, and then finishes with a jackknife slam back in the ring at 5:57 to retain. Just a Nitro match. ** Sting goes on a huge rant against Steven Regal and his prissy mannerisms, but then completely loses his train of thought mid-promo in a funny goof and Gene has to give him a minute and jumpstart him again. That was definitely live. Lord of the Ring match: Diamond Dallas Page v. Marcus Bagwell They immediately fight to the floor and Bagwell sends Page into the front row, but DDP cuts him off on the way back in. Bagwell starts working on the arm as Tony relates a backstory about a film student finding DDP homeless on the campus of his college and then giving him the money to enter WCW again. So was that the payoff the benefactor angle? Bagwell dumps him and follows with a dive, but goes up and gets crotched as DDP takes over. Backbreaker gets two. Backdrop suplex gets two. Page with the abdominal stretch and some sort of half-hearted piledriver for two. Bagwell comes back with a pair of atomic drops and a slingshot clothesline for two, but a blind charge misses and DDP gets two. Bagwell comes back again with a headscissors, but DDP drops him with the Cutter at 9:36. You can see them building up the “out of nowhere” aspect of that move and really getting it over. **1/4 Pretty dull stuff here. WCW Cruiserweight title: Dean Malenko v. Rey Mysterio Jr. For those keeping track, this is where the show really takes off. This is of course Rey’s PPV debut, on par with a Joe Gomez although without the longevity or career highs to follow. They do the stalemate sequence to start and start pulling out the awesome lucha gymnastics as Dean bumps to the floor. Rey with the springboard dropkick, and back in for a sunset flip out of a knucklelock. Dean dumps him and tries a baseball slide, but Rey casually slides back in to avoid it. Back in, Dean goes to work on the arm with some vicious stuff, but Rey walks the ropes and dropkicks out of it. Dean puts him down with a clothesline out of the corner for two and goes back to the arm with a hammerlock slam for two. Dean really cranks on the arm as this stays on the mat for way too long. Dean stomps him down and starts on the arm again. What an odd choice of a match style for REY MYSTERIO to debut with. Even WWE knew enough to have him go out there and fly all over the ring when he started. Butterfly suplex gets two. Dean goes back to the arm, but Rey finally makes the comeback and puts Dean on the floor before following with an insane somersault plancha halfway up the aisle. Back in with a springboard dropkick for two. They trade pinfall reversals for two and the West Coast Pop gets two. They fight to the top and Rey takes him down with a rana for two, and reverses a backbreaker attempt for two. Dean blocks another rana attempt with a powerbomb and pins him with his feet on the ropes to retain at 17:55, however. Those last few minutes were CRAZY. **** Meltzer kind of buried the match, despite giving it the same rating, noting that Rey’s cred was pretty much shot now because he lost his debut to a midcard guy. BURIED. And he spelled his name wrong, listing it as “Oscar Gonzales”. DOUBLE BURIED. Big Bubba v. John Tenta They brawl outside to start and Tenta throws him into the stairs and then works him over in the corner. Bubba finds an international object and slugs Tenta down for two, then follows with an enzuigiri for two. Tenta tries a slam and falls back, and Bubba smothers him for a while. Bubba goes up, however, and Tenta powerslams him for the pin at 5:31. Unfortunately, this feud MUST CONTINUE. DUD Falls Count Anywhere: Chris Benoit v. Kevin Sullivan They immediately do a crazy brawl into the crowd and up the stairs, ending up in the men’s bathroom. Dusty is just in his glory here, as this is literally the greatest thing he’s ever seen, culminating with them fighting over a urinal and a woman in the men’s bathroom. Sullivan shoves Benoit’s head into the extra toilet paper and they get into a vicious slugfest before heading down into the arena again. Sullivan just dumps him down the stairs and chucks a chair at him at ringside. Benoit retrieves a table and they take turns whipping each other into it, but Benoit sets it on the top rope and they fight on top of it. And then from there, Benoit finally puts him away with a superplex at 9:52 to a huge pop. Can’t really go with the full monty any more, but it was still a great brawl with non-stop action, that set a template for Vince Russo for years afterwards. Not to mention it was Dusty’s finest hour as a commentator, even as he lost one of his oldest friends the day before. Now that’s a pro. ****1/4 Benoit goes for the beatdown, but Arn Anderson makes the save…and then turns on Sullivan and kicks the shit out of him as well. And that was an awesome payoff, too. Meanwhile, the newly rejuvenated Horsemen cut their victory promo, and they wouldn’t be done yet tonight. Apparently Benoit has now “earned his stripes” with the Horsemen and is set for life with them. Sting v. Lord Steven Regal At this point I switch to the iPad for various reasons, and the quality is pretty iffy on it tonight. Also, has anyone commented recently how “The Man Called Sting” and “Steinerized” are basically the same song? Because they totally are. This was actually a pretty fantastic little feud built up on Nitro and WCWSN, with Regal being all kinds of a British super-dick and Sting being all “America is awesome, derp derp” and damn if it didn’t work great. Sting attacks to start, but Regal takes him down and pounds him with forearms, but Sting fights him off and Regal goes to argue with the front row for a bit. Thankfully the crowd is aware of their location in the USA and informs Mr. Regal. Back in, Steve offers a heartfelt handshake and smile, Sting THRUSTS HIS CROTCH at him. Is this how America treats visiting dignitaries and great men like Mr. Regal? No wonder he hates all the fans. Regal takes him down and rubs his knee in his face, then goes into a cobra clutch and pounds away with forearms. Regal controls him with a full nelson, but Sting takes him down with a sunset flip for two. Regal, who is a great professional wrestler, makes faces while fighting the move and threatens to take out his frustrations by punching the referee in the face at the same time. Regal was on another level of greatness at this point. Unfortunately we’re getting close to the point where he indulged in the drink and got fat and lazy for a long time. Regal with a dropkick for two and he goes to a headlock, but Sting suplexes out. Regal stays on him with a wacky armbar while yelling at the bloody fools in the front row and using the ropes. MULTITASKING~! Sting comes back with an abdominal stretch, but Regal slugs him down and shows his dance moves. Regal puts him in a headscissors and gets two off that, and he goes back to cranking on the arm. Sting fights up, so Regal hits him with rabbit punches (Dusty: “He needs to hit him with that open hand…NO NOT YOU, REGAL!”) and Sting goes down again. Regal goes for a crossbody out of the corner and Sting hits him with a dropkick with AWESOME timing and makes the comeback. They fight to the top and Regal takes him down with a butterfly suplex for two and hooks in the Regal Stretch, giving him the quality demoralizing trashtalk at the same time. Finally he just beats on Sting in the corner with backhands, and Sting has HAD ENOUGH. Sting beats the hell out of him with an awesome camera angle in the corner, but Regal blocks the Stinger splash with double knees. Sting isn’t taking more of Regal’s shit, however, and just hooks him in the Deathlock (with Regal kicking and screaming the whole way) to finish for good at 17:10. LOVED IT. Regal was just an insufferable dick the whole time and Sting got his revenge. FOR MURICA. **** Ric Flair & Arn Anderson v. Steve McMichael & Kevin Greene Most people were expecting a by-the-numbers celebrity trainwreck, which makes what we got all the better. The crowd already hates Mongo and some dudes managed to bring in a huge “Mongo Sucks” sign on a bedsheet. They’re not wrong. Arn does some football drills with Mongo and that goes badly for him. Tony relates a conversation with the football players, where he learns that rattlesnake hunting is a profession in Texas. Dusty is flabbergasted. “Of course! We all hunt rattlesnakes in Texas!” The football team does a beatdown on Arn in the corner at Savage’s behest and the Horsemen regroup, and Kevin Greene comes in for his debut. Greene is having a blast and Flair comes in and matches energy with him, then waits for Greene to go into the three-point stance and kicks him in the face. Greene comes back with shoulderblocks, however, and the Horsemen run away again. And this time Savage kicks Flair’s ass and tosses him back in. Flair is so great that he actually makes two green rookies look like killers and makes the crowd cheer for them. Mongo tags in and Arn pulls back from Flair’s tag in a funny bit. Mongo keeps overpowering Flair as they keep it simple and effective, and Mongo no-sells the chops and does his own, then adds a backdrop as Flair is just bumping like crazy here. Flair goes up and gets slammed off, and we get stereo figure-fours from the football players as the crowd goes crazy for it. The women all head back to the dressing room after an argument and Arn finally turns the tide with a cheapshot on Mongo, and the Horsemen go to work. Mongo gets dumped and Bobby gets his shots in, and back in Flair goes low and drops the knee to make sure the heels get no sympathy from the crowd. Kevin Greene as the babyface who is incredulously angry at the rampant cheating is just amazing for someone having his first match. The Horsemen cut off the tag to continue building sympathy for Mongo as face in peril, but he rams the Horsemen together off an atomic drop and makes the hot tag to Greene. Powerslam on Flair and you can see Flair leading him through the positioning for the next spot, but doing it totally naturally. Greene suplexes him in from the apron, but Arn clips him from behind like a dick and goes after the knee. The Horsemen cut off the ring and Flair tries the figure-four, but Greene reverses into a small package for two. Flair stays on him with the kneecrusher and this time gets the move, complete with help from Arn in the corner. Finally Savage can take no more of these shenanigans, but Chris Benoit joins us and beats on him. And then the evil women return with newly glammed out Debra and the Halliburton case filled with cash, which Mongo considers carefully…and then hits Greene in the face with it. Flair gets the pin at 20:50 of an insanely entertaining tag match. ***1/2 And the Four Horsemen are complete again! We get an epic beatdown of Randy Savage and Kevin Greene for good measure. Mongo was a terrible worker but fit in perfectly with the group as a character. Given that everyone assumed it would be the usual goofy match and celebrity going over Flair formula, this was awesome. This would have been the capper on any other PPV as it is. But wait, there’s MORE! Eric Bischoff brings out the invading Hall and Nash, so that WCW can formally answer their challenge. Bischoff still won’t use their names, which is another nice touch. So the match will happen at Bash at the Beach, and Bischoff specifically asks if they work for the WWF, trying to get the lawyers off his back. Bischoff promises the reveal the WCW team on Nitro, so Hall kicks him in the gut and Nash powerbombs him off the stage and through a table, which has the crowd freaking out. This was amazing on so many levels, not the least of which was that Bischoff had never been touched to that point, and it was the first acknowledgement that Bischoff was the guy in charge of the company, a year before Vince came out as owner of the WWF on TV. Needless to say, I was losing my shit at this point and this was one of the biggest angles in the history of the company. It was suddenly a totally different atmosphere, with two guys who weren’t playing by the arbitrary rules of the wrestling “universe” coming in and just doing what they wanted in ways that fans didn’t know how to react to yet. It was DIFFERENT and off-putting and suddenly made everything must-see and dangerous. Really, the World title match should have been stuck in the middle of the show somewhere because nothing was going to top that, but they go ahead with it anyway. WCW World title: The Giant v. Lex Luger Really, these guys have no hope of following anything that came before. Luger slugs away on the Giant to start and clotheslines him to the floor, then does a clumsy leap onto Giant’s back with a sleeper. Jimmy Hart tries to break it up with the megaphone, but Sting comes out and chases Jimmy to the back. Giant beats Luger down in the corner to escape and whips Luger around the ring, as Luger somehow grunts even louder when he’s selling than when he’s on offense. Giant puts him in a body vice and tosses him down for a surfboard and the crowd is just totally dead. Can’t even blame them. Giant slowly pounds away on the back. Lex makes the comeback with the offense grunts instead of the defense grunts and pounds away on the Giant, who charges and ends up laying on the top rope somehow. Luger uses that contrived position to put him in the Rack, but Giant falls on top of him and finishes with the chokeslam to retain cleanly at 9:30. I think with hindsight they should have put the title on Luger here and passed it to Hogan that way, since it would have ripped the hearts out of the fans that much more and Luger had earned it anyway. *1/2 The Pulse If not for the main event, this is the greatest PPV in WCW history and probably one of the greatest of all-time, period. As it is, it sits comfortably below Bash 89 on my list. Taken with Bash at the Beach three weeks later, it’s a hell of a one-two punch that nearly destroyed the WWF in the process and really, probably should have. Strongest recommendation!

Great time to be a fan

HI Scott,

What a great time to be a fan don't you think? There is so much entertaining wrestling out there today and you don't even have to look very hard. Lucha Underground feels fresh, NJPW is a workrate paradise, and even NXT has become 'can't miss' wrestling fun, isolated from the rest of WWE's poor programming. Why is everyone so hung up on staying with the WWE's main shows for their fix? Even worse, why do people insist on complaining and generally being negative about it all when there are alternatives available which address all their complaints? The WWE will continue on its existing course regardless what people say, because those same people continue watching. 


To quote Lisa Simpson from that Halloween special when all the giant statues came to life: "Just don't look". 

I have been a fan of the WWE ever since I watched Jim Duggan and Harley Race brawl through the backstage area at the Slammy's in 1987. That's almost 30 years of investment in the product. But I simply don't enjoy watching the WWE any more, and I won't waste my energy being negative about things out of my control. What I do control is what I choose to watch, and I am very happy that the alternatives exist so that I can be entertained once more. Have you watched all the NJPW on AXS TV episodes? Okada vs. Tanahashi are tremendous matches with exciting commentary. What's not to enjoy with Finn Balor's ascent into super stardom? Great matches and an insane special entrance. How great is Prince Puma in Lucha Underground? Incredibly gifted wrestler, with an intriguing backstory that has still to play out. 

Wrestling is FUN again! 

​That may be, but for lots of people WWE is the only option.  I can tell you, for instance, that if I ever want to see a live show with people that I know, my only hope is to wait for WWE to visit the one or two times per decade they come here.  But absolutely, New Japan is awesome right now and NXT is a fun alternative, and I'm glad they exist and can provide people with something better than the junk we're getting on Monday nights right now.  ​





Last great WWE period?

Hi Scott,

As a community we air our displeasure of the current product yet the merch still sells and tickets for RAW keep on selling showing that it must appeal to someone if not us vocal online percentage.

Has there every been a year where everyone thought WWE/WWF was a great product? I can think of 2000 being a fine period for all and there being far more hits than misses in regards to quality PPVs and TV programming. That was 14 years ago so has there been a great wrestling year since where everyone was happy?

Thanks.

​Well ratings are way down lately and RAW hasn't even been selling out (or in the case of the Slammys, even coming close) so I wouldn't say it's appealing to many people right now.  
2000 was definitely was the last universally defined great year, although most people seem to like 2005 as well (what with the rise of Cena and Batista and a general feeling of something new and different).  I pretty much stopped watching and switched to WWE 24/7 at that point so it's tough for me to gauge reactions other than that.  ​

Great American Bash 1999

Great
American Bash 1999

Date:
June 13, 1999
Location: Baltimore Arena, Baltimore,
Maryland
Attendance: 11,672
Commentators: Tony Schiavone, Bobby
Heenan, Mike Tenay 
Reviewed by Tommy Hall 
To
say this show doesn’t sound thrilling is an understatement. We’ve
spent weeks getting ready for Nash vs. Savage with antics ranging
from makeup to human waste to attempted murder. Other than that we
have Rick Steiner no selling against Sting for the TV Title and more
of the mess that is the Tag Team Title scene. Let’s get to it.

Master P. and the No
Limit Soldiers arrive. Curt Hennig pops up and says how much he
loves him and asks how much he loves him. P. signs a CD for him
(which one of his guys just had in his pocket) and Hennig breaks it.
The Soldiers all start jumping up and down and shoulding what sounds
like “Hoody who” in high pitched voices. This is a southern
promotion for a show in a southern city and they expect Hennig to be
booed here?
The opening recap video
shows us a stupid Savage vs. Nash feud.
Tony
and the announcers explain who Master P. is and call him the biggest
entertainer of our time. We hear about the main event as well.
We
recap most of the matches on the card. Well at least it cuts into
the main event time. They even go back and cover the hardcore match
twice.
Hak vs. Brian Knobs
I
sit corrected: this is a kendo stick match and Knobs is officially
part of the First Family. So why did he say he had to think about
it? Tony calls this a kendo stick hardcore match because they can’t
even keep their stupid gimmicks straight through a single entrance.
Brian has promised Mrs. Nasty a birthday win today so let’s get rid
of the sticks and have a real hardcore match. So in the span of 90
seconds we’ve gone from kendo stick to kendo stick hardcore to
hardcore. I know it doesn’t matter but it sounds like WCW has no
idea what they’re doing.
Brian
wants to throw away the weapons but Jimmy throws him a trashcan for a
cheap shot. Knobs hits him in the head with a trashcan lid and
there’s the Pit Stop. Hak stops a charge with two boots to the face
and blasts Knobs with the trashcan. It’s ladder time but Knobs comes
back with a trashcan shot of his own. He gets decked by the ladder
though and Hak hits a slingshot….something onto the ladder onto
Knobs.
Hak gets thrown into
the ladder in the corner and a few more ladder shots put him down.
The advantage only lasts a few seconds as you would expect but Hak’s
Swanton only hits ladder. Jimmy holds up a chair but Hak sends him
face first into the steel, setting up a kendo stick shot for the pin.
Rating:
F.
We waited thirteen minutes for the matches to start and this is the
best they can give us? The only positive about this is the match
wasn’t even six minutes long, which is way better than the usual
lengths that we have to sit through. It’s still bad though and I’m
tired of seeing these disasters.
Hugh Morrus comes out
and helps beat down Knobs.
Piper
is in the back when Buff comes up to thank him for giving him the
ball. He has a big match tonight (against Disco Inferno) and
promises to have Piper’s back tonight against Flair. Buff leaves and
Piper mutters about stupid kids. Lines like that defeat the purpose
of Piper as the mentor to the young guys. He should be thrilled with
where the future is going instead of being annoyed with them for
saying they’ll have his back. Also, is a match with Disco Inferno
“getting the ball” when you had a US Title match last month?
Mikey Whipwreck vs.
Van Hammer
Bonus match. Mikey
gets shoved down a few times but comes back with some armdrags.
Hammer chokes him to take over and drives a knee into Mikey’s ribs.
A middle rope slam sends Mikey flying as the fans think this is
boring. Hammer gets two off a delayed vertical suplex and a legdrop
before we hit the abdominal stretch. Nick Patrick finally catches
him holding the ropes so Hammer throws Mikey to the floor. Mikey
goes throat first over the barricade but he comes back with a legdrop
to the back of the head and a plancha. Back in and Hammer catches
him in a spinebuster, setting up a cobra clutch slam for the pin.
Rating:
D-.
Somehow that was eight and a half minutes long. To recap, we can’t
get Booker T. on this show but there’s time for Mikey Whipwreck vs.
Van Hammer. Mikey is one of those hires that never made sense. He
won like two matches in his six months with the company, even though
WCW knew he was banged up when they got him. Eh whatever you can do
to screw with ECW I guess.
Disco Inferno vs.
Buff Bagwell
In
case you didn’t get enough of it on Nitro I guess. They start fast
for a change by trading kicks to the ribs until Disco grabs a
neckbreaker to send him outside. Back in and Buff kicks him in the
ribs a few times, setting up a swinging neckbreaker of his own. Buff
cranks on an armbar and starts a DISCO SUCKS chant. An early
Blockbuster attempt sends Disco running to the floor and Buff says it
was that close.
Back
in and Bagwell flips him off (some hero) so Disco nails him with a
Stun Gun to take over. Disco chokes on the ropes so Tony
congratulates all the recent high school graduates in the country.
Ok then. More slow stomping in the corner from Inferno followed by a
dancing middle rope elbow for two. Disco goes up for the same spot
but Buff moves (that might have been some miscommunication as Tony
made a big deal about Bagwell not moving the first time) and starts
his comeback.
Some
right hands look to set up the Blockbuster but Buff takes too long
and gets crotched. They head outside and Disco hits the Last Dance,
only to take too long dancing to allow Bagwell to beat the count.
Back in and the Macarena Driver (exactly what it sounds like) is
countered with a backdrop. Buff hits some really basic stuff and
goes up for the Blockbuster. Disco ducks away but Bagwell doesn’t
bite and hits the Blockbuster for the pin. Nice little callback
there.
Rating:
D+.
Of all the guys that WCW never pulled the trigger on, Bagwell might
surprise me more than anyone else. He was young (29 here), an eight
year veteran, had a great look and a good finisher, yet he never won
a singles title in WCW. That’s not even factoring in the whole
broken neck story. He’s a good example of a guy that could have been
something but instead we’re stuck with the Steiners as the midcard
champions and Nash vs. Savage for the World Title. Bagwell never
would have carried the company or anything, but there’s no reason he
couldn’t have gotten the US or TV Titles a few times.
We
recap the battle of the musics. Again, WCW was stupid enough to
think that the country boys would be the heels in this story.
DJ
Ran wastes our time and brings in Master P. and the No Limit
Soldiers.
Curt Hennig/Bobby
Duncum Jr. vs. Rey Mysterio Jr./Konnan
Tenay
actually picks rap. We also get the debut of Rap Is Crap as the
cowboys’ theme song. I have no idea why A, Mysterio is Cruiserweight
Champion is he never defends the thing and B, why he and Konnan come
out wearing gas masks. Tenay tries and fails at getting me to care
about Master P. The rappers jump Hennig for talking trash about
Master P. and the cowboys are quickly dispatched. P. gets in a cheap
shot to the back of Curt’s head because that’s what good guys down.
We
get down to an actual match with Mysterio dropkicking Hennig to the
floor and nailing a plancha but diving into a backbreaker from
Duncum. A big powerbomb plants Rey again and Hennig slams him down
as well. Rey takes the Bret Hart chest bump into the corner and the
cowboys keep things slow. The referee misses the hot tag to Konnan
and takes him to the floor, allowing Bobby to send Mysterio hard into
the barricade.
Back
in and Curt hits a perfect dropkick to Rey’s jaw and spits at Konnan
to draw him in. Bobby crotches him against the post and Rey is in
big trouble. Hennig does a Rude hip swivel and it’s quickly back to
Duncum. Rey crawls through the legs and tags Konnan which the
referee sees but “he didn’t see it” so it doesn’t count.
Hennig
gets two off a suplex but Rey moonsaults over him and scores with a
dropkick. Now the hot tag brings in Konnan as everything breaks
down. There’s the Bronco Buster to Curt and he fights with Konnan on
the floor. Cue Barry Windham to nail Konnan but Master P.’s
bodyguard Swoll jumps the barricade and nails Duncum, setting up a
slingshot legdrop for the pin.
Rating:
D+.
This was pretty dull and the ending was messier than it needed to be.
The idea doesn’t work either as the country boys are far more
popular with WCW’s fan base but we’re supposed to cheer for rappers
who jump up and down and shout HOODY WHO for some reason. But hey,
at least Master P. is on the show right?
The
cowboys destroy the rappers post match.
The
announcers talk about what we just saw and we look at a replay of it
to waste even more time.
Cat
vs. Scott Norton
Sonny
has a briefcase with him. Actually scratch Norton as Horace comes
out to complain about getting hit with the crowbar on Thursday. Time
for a replacement.
Cat vs. Horace Hogan
Horace
says Miller couldn’t even beat himself and the fight is on. Cat gets
beaten down in the corner and choked with a boot before they head
outside. That goes nowhere so Miller kicks him in the face back
inside. Miller slams him down and throws Horace outside for some
kicks from Sonny. Back in and Horace hits a slam of his own and
drops an elbow for two. A splash gets two more but Sonny gets up on
the apron for a distraction. Horace sees through it and backdrops
Miller to the floor. In the confusion, Miller gets his sparkly red
shoe from the briefcase and kicks Horace senseless for the pin.
Rating:
D-.
Oh come on man I already had to sit through this on Thunder. Isn’t
that enough for WCW? I knew things were going to get bad around this
time but no one told me I was going to have to sit through this match
twice in four days. Miller needs to turn face soon and Horace needs
to turn to another career.
We
recap Piper vs. Flair. Piper is old, Flair is crazy (actually just
more evil than anything else) and they’re fighting for control of the
company.
Roddy Piper vs. Ric
Flair
Flair
has Asya and Arn with him. They trade chops to start and Piper takes
over with some lefts to the face. We get a delayed Flair Flop and
Ric begs off in the corner. The slowest backslide this side of the
last Piper match gets two and Flair gets punched to the floor. Back
in and Piper bites Flair’s nose, followed by even more of his weird
punches. Ric finally gets in a low blow to get a breather and things
slow down even more. Anderson gets in a shot on the floor and Asya
adds a rake of the eyes.
There’s
another low blow from Flair but a sunset flip sends his trunks down
as usual. Ric gets slammed off the top and Piper nails Anderson for
bad measure. I can’t say there’s anything good, even a measure, in
this match. Back in and Roddy puts on a sleeper but Flair quickly
breaks it. Anderson trips up Roddy so Flair can nail Piper with a
foreign object. Piper is up at two but there’s the Figure Four.
Bagwell comes out to break up Anderson’s interference and goes in,
drawing the DQ.
Rating:
F.
Gah. Seriously just gah. This was another mess with Flair having to
work down to Piper’s level and Piper just being awful. I have no
idea why WCW insists on keeping Piper out there when the fans don’t
care and the stories go on and on. Piper and Flair had a great feud
seventeen years ago. We really don’t need to see it again here and
this match is good proof of why.
Post
match Piper nails Bagwell, making this whole feud TOTALLY POINTLESS.
Bagwell gets whipped with a belt for good measure. So yeah, Piper is
in league with Flair and Anderson, presumably for daring to challenge
the status quo.
DJ
Ran. Again.
We recap Sting vs. Rick
Steiner who are fighting…..actually I have no idea why they’re
fighting. My best guess is Goldberg is out making a movie though.
Sting vs. Rick
Steiner
This
is hardcore and non-title for no apparent reason. Sting scores with
an early clothesline and they head outside to start brawling. That’s
a bit too boring though so they head inside where Rick nails some
forearms to the back. A pair of atomic drops don’t have much effect
on Steiner and they head outside again. Tony says there must be a
winner.
Steiner
hits Sting with a chair and then a beer. Sting comes back but the
Stinger Splash hits the barricade. A piledriver on the exposed
concrete gets two and somehow doesn’t break Sting’s neck. Back in
and Rick gets two more off a release German suplex, followed by the
chinlock. Rick cannonballs down onto Sting’s back and gets two off
an elbow drop. Sting finally gets his knees up to crotch Rick and
some Vader Bombs actually keep him down.
The top rope splash
connects for two and Sting is all fired up. He nails the Stinger
Splash and puts on the Deathlock but Rick crawls under the ropes.
They fight to the internet location and into the back where Tank
Abbot is waiting…..with two dobermans and a rottweiler who attack
Sting. They take Sting down as security runs in like a bad shot from
an action movie. Rick is declared the winner as the fans just rip
this apart.
Rating:
F-.
Three dogs. Three dogs. THREE DOGS. Next. Please.
The
Steiners say Rick pinned Sting off camera because WCW was too scared
to air it. They own WCW, Baltimore sucks, etc.
We recap the Triad
against Saturn/Benoit. The easiest version: Kanyon was in league
with the Jersey boys the whole time but Benoit and Saturn beat Kanyon
and Page for the titles on Thunder.
Tag Team Titles:
Chris Benoit/Saturn vs. Kanyon/Diamond Dallas Page
The
announcers are joking about pyro after Sting WAS NEARLY MAULED BY
DOGS. That’s a long running problem with commentators: they have the
attention span of drunken gnats. Someone must get in their ear as
they start talking about how terrifying a moment it was but assure us
that Sting was dragged away from the dogs. Benoit runs Kanyon over
to start and Page isn’t pleased. The champs clear the ring with
clotheslines and Benoit stands…..well not very tall actually.
It’s
off to Page vs. Saturn with DDP taking a few slams. Everything
breaks down again and the champions easily dispatch the Jersey boys.
That’s not enough for them though as they go outside to beat up
Bigelow before snapping off overhead belly to bellies on Page and
Kanyon. Bigelow trips Benoit to the floor and sends him into the
barricade to get the first advantage. Kanyon gets two off a middle
rope Fameasser and Benoit is in trouble. Back to Page whose
powerbomb is countered into a sunset flip but Benoit gets kicked
right back down.
The
helicopter bomb gets two on Benoit and it’s back to Kanyon, but he
misses a moonsault. The hot tag brings in Saturn for a frog splash
on Page. Saturn hammers on Page in the corner but Kanyon takes him
down with an electric chair faceplant for two. Things settle back
down with the challengers hitting a nice sequence into a Russian
legsweep from Kanyon and an elbow drop from Page. Saturn grabs a
sunset flip but Kanyon tags out on the way down and holds Saturn’s
head so Page can come in off the top for the save.
Back
to Kanyon for a front facelock into a swinging neckbreaker. A sitout
Dominator from Kanyon gives Page two but he misses a charge into the
corner. It’s finally enough for the second hot tag to bring in
Benoit for some much needed house cleaning. Kanyon takes the Rolling
Germans for two but Page makes the save.
We get the old school
dragon suplex for a VERY close two and Benoit hits the Swan Dive,
only to have Saturn dive into the Diamond Cutter. Cue Dean Malenko
to try and help Saturn back in but the distraction lets Bigelow come
in to lift Benoit up for a super Diamond Cutter. Kanyon’s
unconscious body is put on top for the pin and the titles.
Rating:
B-.
I’m so glad they gave us that three day reign before the Triad got
the belts back. As usual the (mostly) old guys get the win and the
titles while the (mostly) young generation is laid out. In theory
this sets up a six man at least which should be good, but knowing WCW
it leads to Benoit, Saturn and Malenko jobbing for months.
Dean gets laid out too.
We
recap Savage vs. Nash. Savage wanted a title shot so he put lipstick
on Nash’s face, called him a stupid person and tried to have him
crushed with a Hummer. Don’t you see the logical progression of
events?
WCW World Title:
Kevin Nash vs. Randy Savage
Nash
is defending and powers Savage into the corner to start, showing
absolutely no injuries from being crushed by a Hummer six days
earlier. Wait scratch that as he winces a bit after a clothesline in
the corner. The impact is kind of lost though when he picks Savage
up for a side slam three seconds later.
Randy starts going
after the ribs and knocks Nash to the floor so the girls can get in
shots of their own. Back in and Savage drops the big elbow for two.
Nash comes back with Snake Eyes followed by a big boot and the strap
comes down. The girls all interfere and get dispatched but SID
VICIOUS runs in and attacks Nash for the DQ.
Rating:
F.
The main event of a pay per view didn’t even make it seven and a half
minutes. Actually that’s a bit better than the alternative of
watching these two fight any longer as it’s clear that Savage has
nothing left in the ring. Sid interfering was a big surprise as he
hadn’t been seen in a major wrestling company (unless you count ECW)
since 1997. Nash not selling the ribs for the opening part of the
match brought it down but you can’t expect Nash to sell and toss his
hair at the same time.
Overall
Rating:
F.
If I’ve ever seen a less interesting or worse show, I can’t recall it
off the top of my head. There was one good match, three matches that
should have been on Nitro or Thunder (one of which was) and Sting
being attacked by dogs. Say that out loud and see if you think it’s
stupid. Couple that with the horrible main event and there isn’t
much to feel good about.
The
problem here is much more than the wrestling being bad. This show
died because there’s nothing interesting going on. Nothing on here
makes me want to tune in to see what’s coming. It’s all the old guys
dominating and the young guys getting beaten down. In theory that
should set up a good story, but I have no faith in WCW to pull that
off. Hogan’s return looms over everything too and that might make
things even worse. I’m not sure how, but it could. This was one of
the worst shows I’ve ever seen and I didn’t see much hope.
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

Great News About Your WWE Network Subscription

July Classics: The Great Sasuke vs. TAKA Michinoku – 7/6/97

The WWF wanted to form a lightheavyweight division, and Japanese legend The Great Sasuke was the target to head that division. TAKA Michinoku was brought along by Sasuke to help showcase the style to a North American audience. They had this match at In Your House: Canadian Stampede and a second match the following night on RAW. NOTE: I could not find a Daily motion version. I have included the Youtube version of the RAW match as a comparison.

http://network.wwe.com/video/v31327267/milestone/31345889

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c09FimmhRr4

QOTD #23: Great Random Matches

Today’s Question:
What was the best random
match you watched recently that you had never seen before? (Either WWE Network,
Youtube, or through your own vast wrestling collection)
I’m looking forward to seeing what you can come up with.
Start the discussion now if you want to skip over yesterday’s discussion by
scrolling to the end or hitting “Comments”. Otherwise, stick around.

Yesterday, we looked through the drek of WCW 2000 to find
the gems that existed here and there. They were tough nuggets to get ahold of,
as each show contained about 85 segments, but you managed to come up with
plenty.
sfu13: Although Sid is infamous for his promos,
especially the half the brain you have line, my favorite Sid promo in 2000 was
when he opened by saying ‘HEY! I’m not as stupid as I look!” That gets me
every time.
That is awesome; even more so because I totally don’t even
remember this.
Bill DeBarr: Sugar Shane Helms loved the guy. Will always
feel that the ball was dropped with him but they did recover a little with the
Hurricane.
Helms was more of a product of 2001, as he was simply a cog
in the 3 Count machine for all of 2000 – but he was one of their major breakouts
that simply was in the right place at the wrong time. Two years earlier,
turning the Nitro girls into his personal dance crew would have had him getting
massive reactions, and probably supplanted Billy Kidman in the Cruiserweight
division.
White Thunder: This is an easy one for me. Flair winning
his final world championship from Jeff Jarrett. The match was a typical thrown
together Russo mess, but seeing Flair at the end of the show with the belt was
truly surreal. As ridiculous as it was I actually really enjoyed the Flair –
Russo feud. It was the first time Flair seemed to have any passion in a long
tine. Of course it ended with Russo shaving his head in a segment that left me
mortified. Nature Boy had even grown his hair back out to legendary lengths.
My stomach turned a little when Russo felt the need to call
Flair a “piece of shit on the bottom of my shoe”, but that would become par for
the course that year. I’m not sure why Flair was re-invigorated by that angle,
but I suspect the goal of getting his sons over probably trumped personal
pride.
Devin Harris: Booker T winning the title. The Russo/Hogan
stuff was beyond stupid but the payoff was worth it. Just seeing the fans celebrate
with him is one of the main reasons I’m a wrestling fan in the first place.
Seeing Booker T get his due was great; but the timing was so
strange. Booker was coming off losing his T to Awesome Kong Ahmed
Johnson, while ziplining around the arena as GI Bro. His stock hadn’t been
lower in years. He had been ready since the early part of 1999. I’ve always
seen that title change as almost an apology of the wasted year, farting around
with Stevie Ray, and the hopeful start of a new direction … for this week.
Basscase: The Cat doesn’t get enough love – he was
very entertaining, between the Japanese music, his mic skills, and Miss Jones.
I still have no idea why he was causing self-inflicted
attacks from Jung Dragons, or how he convinced James Brown to dance with himself,
or most importantly how one of the greatest pure trash talkers of our time
turned himself into one of the most beloved babyfaces in the company – but while
none of it made sense, he was fantastic.
dynamic_dave: I remember randomly tuning into Nitro in
November 2000 and seeing Steiner showing a picture, one-by-one, of all his
victims on the Not-Titantron. It was a great heel promo.
Steiner, like Booker, had been ready to be the man for
nearly 2 years. I’ve always maintained that he should have been the one to stop
Goldberg, sometime in the summer of 1999. His wrestling skills were far below
his younger days, but his character had never been stronger. In a year of
neutered characters, Steiner managed to rise above.
Starscreamlive: I enjoyed the Mike Awesome “Fat Chick
Thrilla” gimmick.
Oh Jesus.
Elmo Machete: Jeff Jarret as World Champion. I know it
probably actually sucked, but for some reason I always loved that guy in that
role. Probably because there was nobody else to plug in there, and
“slapnuts” still makes me laugh.
Slapnuts was one of those things that got less funny every
time; and as all things cool that happen in wrestling it got driven into the
ground. Still, he was a competent worker, and with the rocket strapped up his
ass, he was as credible as anyone else in the company at that point so why not.
Magoonie NOT Teddy
Belmont:
I can’t remember if this
happened in 99 or 2000 but at the time I really liked the “reset”
Russo did. Taking all the titles and having tournaments for each of them,
changing guys up, starting the New Breed (was that the name? Damn my memory
sucks) challenging the older, established guys. It felt fresh, like it was
breathing new life into WCW.
I genuinely believed things were about to turn for the
better, for about 3 days. By Thunder when they aired the segments out of order
I realized it was more of the same.
SodiePop: Interestingly enough, it wasn’t one thing
that kept me watching during the 2000 era. To be honest, for as much trouble
the company was in and the crap they could produce at the time, there was
enough to enjoy on the Nitro and Thunder shows. Booker T’s rise and Scott Steiner’s
brutality and hilarity were mentioned prior, and I found factors like the
cruiserweight and Lance Storm matches to be a lot of fun. Perhaps I’m pinning
for the past and/or still wishing the WWE product will finally change its
format or style one of these days, but I can remember being at college during
that time and rarely missing any of the shows in 2000 up until the end.
I was working overnights in radio that year, and I didn’t
miss *anything*. I had wrestling nearly every night. RAW on Mondays, Nitro on
Tuesdays on TSN, Thunder on Wednesdays, Smackdown on Thursdays, ECW on Fridays,
WCW Saturday Night, and PPV Sundays. Despite the horrendous WCW, as you
mentioned, there was never a shortage and for the super fan, it was great.
LeeleePhoenix: And I’ll shamefully admit, I enjoyed that
summer of Russo booking in 2000. Even the ridiculous crap with Daffney and Miss
Hancock. Say what you will, he cared about the entire card. I miss watching
wrestling in 2000… those were the days.
As mentioned above, I was a full-fledged addict. The
Daffney/Hancock love affair, however, was an embarrassment.
Uncruisimatic_Buck_Nasty:
if you don’t believe random kanyon
kutters make the list, you need to re-evaluate your priorities
We’re on the same page … OF POSITIVELY KANYON! BANG~!
ziggaman730: Vampiro vs Sting in an inferno match where a
stunt double got lit on fire
Thank god for the big fire-retardant poofy mat below the
scaffolding, just in case any random stunt men got lit on fire.
BeardMoney: I liked when Kaz Hayashi and La Parka were
briefly paired as Kazanova and The Bone Daddy, complete with over-dubbed
jive-talk promos. I don’t know, some might say it was kind of racist-ish, but I
just saw it as a funny and clever way to showcase two underused workers with
language limitations. According to Wikipedia La Parka ended it by throwing away
the mic in the middle of one of the promos.
The absolute peak of this angle was the night La Parka was
cutting a nasty promo against Buff Bagwell, but holding up signs explaining
that he was sorry, he wasn’t really saying this stuff. Then Parka attacked promptly
turned heel on Bagwell again anyway.
JDW: Lance Storm: Triple Champion (He could have
been a main event player after that if they had followed-up right)
Great pick. Storm came in with a crazy wave of momentum,
putting on great matches weekly, and taking every title in sight, the kind of
thing you’d see in an e-fed but never on a national stage. Unfortunately, they
turned him into your standard chickenshit cheating heel, who spent a couple of
months “winning” matches against Mike Awesome and General Rection in the same
way Bray Wyatt “beat” John Cena inside the cage. He found his groove again
towards the end paired with Awesome, and they probably would have been staples
in the tag-team division for much of 2001 had the company not folded.
Rimshoot: I liked Tank Abbott as a fan of 3-Count.
That was some good fun.
The nipples though, man. The nipples.
VintageECW: Far too many to count. I love 2000 WCW
almost as much as any company from any era. I loved Mike Awesome debuting.
Awesome powerbombing Shaggy 2 Dope off the 70s bus. Judy Bagwell on a Pole
match. Stiener v Nash v Goldberg at Fall Brawl. Candido v Funk in the horse
stables. Sid v Benoit. Suckas gots to know. The Cat as commishinor. Kanyon
getting thrown off the Triple Cage. Jarrett v Booker at Bash at the Beach. Tons
more, one of my fav times ever.
Let’s be clear. It was a Judy Bagwell on a Forklift match.
Jeremy Rinehart: Flair promising Steiner’s Starrcade 2000
opponent would be at the level of Steve Austin and Rock. The opponent was Sid
Vicious.
WCW had no hope in hell of bringing in anyone to that level,
so my hopes were low and I admit to being shocked when Sid walked out after his
turfing in the spring. But then, I love me some Sid.
We’ll wrap it up here. Thanks for a great thread, and for
somehow keeping the Red Power Ranger to just 1 post. See you again tomorrow,
have a great Sunday.

July Classics: Sting vs. The Great Muta – Bash ’89

At this point, Sting was the future of WCW, and coming into this match he was the World Television Champion. The Great Muta was managed by Gary Hart, and they had challenged Sting to something called a “Dragon Shi” match. When Sting accepted the challenge, Hart claimed that Muta wasn’t ready. Sting’s friend, Eddie Gilbert, stepped in and accepted the challenge. At Clash VII, Muta was set to demonstrate “Dragon Shi”, when Gilbert appeared and in response to Muta’s mist, threw a fireball that was meant for Gary Hart into a jobber’s face. Finally, Sting vs. Muta was signed for Bash ’89 for the TV title, and this was the result. NOTE: no Network link for this match because there’s no milestone marker. But if you want to watch Bash ’89, I highly recommend you do so here’s the link for the entire show:http://network.wwe.com/video/v31589169

Here’s a copy of the match itself:
http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x17n813_sting-vs-great-muta-tv-championship-match-nwa-wcw-great-american-bash-1989_sport

MeekinOnMoviesOnGames On…..Valiant Hearts: The Great War

Game:  Valiant Hearts: The Great War
Developer: Ubisoft Montpellier
Platforms:  Windows, PS4, Xbox One,   
Did I Pay For It: Sorta

The debut trailer for ‘Valiant Hearts: The Great War’ is one of the best ever. Stark and boiling over with gravitas and pathos, if you got a chance to watch Ubisoft’s E3 Press Conference, it’s clear the audience was seven seconds away from bursting into tears.

But the problem with a great trailer is pretty much anything can be made look awesome with the right music, pacing, and tone. Hell, just look at how exciting my life is when you throw in a little Haddaway and rip off the Scrubs finale: Family: The Trailer.

Yes, I know I spelled experience wrong.

There’s no way Valiant Hearts would be able to maintain the emotional punch its trailer did, and it doesn’t. If you do a google of “Valiant Hearts” and “Cry” you’ll likely find countless reviews saying the imagery and music and location and narration got them in ‘the feels’, but in reality, that’s not going to happen as strongly as you think unless you approach the game wanting and needing an emotional response.

The problem with Valiant Hearts: The Great War, is that it mashes up two great ideas that don’t go well at all together. It’s a driving range at an Opera. A jigsaw puzzle at a wake.  It’s a Hell In A Cell match between Jackie Gayda and The Brooklyn Brawler.

To fully explain, we’re gonna have to go Greek, so puff out that chest hair and getcyha Feta ready.


Aristotle’s three modes of persuasion are as follows; Ethos, Pathos, and Logos. For Valiant Hearts, we’ll be
speaking specifically of the last two.

Ethos is an appeal of authority. I.E I’ve seen all of the best movies to ever come out in the history of the universe, therefore I am qualified to be excited about Apocalypse Now. I’ve seen every single episode of Monday Night Raw, therefore I’m qualified to tell you every thing about the WWE sucks right now. I know more about this thing than you do, so you should listen to me. For example: Scott Keith is Ethos defined. He’s likely forgotten more wrestling than most of us remember.

Pathos is an appeal to your emotion. Please read my review because I’m a lonely person with no friends who seeks attention like a puppy-dog seeks love.Why are you guys so mean to me, don’t you see I’m just trying to entertain? Can’t we all, for us, for wrestling, for our humanity, and for America, get along?! Countless upworthy and Gofundme.com links rely on their ability to capture your emotions to draw you into whatever it is they’re trying to persuade you into doing, be it clicking a link or funding their stupid indie film.

Logos is an appeal to logic. Daniel Bryan is the most popular wrestler on WWE Raw, therefore he should be world champion. Tom Brady is getting older and declining, so he needs weapons or else the Patriots can’t compete at an elite level any more. Logos is the most analytical of the three, and relies on a person’s ability to deduce information in a sensible way. That’s not to say Logos can always be correct. For example an inaccurate statement in the Logos vein would be “90 percent of statistics are made up”.

Valiant Hearts wants you to think it’s all Pathos. A World War I drama, it follows the interconnecting paths of folks torn up in the turmoil of the era. The characters range in culture, ability, personality, and their back-stories are compelling enough to warrant your attention and interest.

But the game wants your heart. Between the somber piano music and hand-drawn art style that’s synonymous with games like Braid, Valiant Hearts is seems to desire some indie cred, as Ubisoft has clearly taken notes from the multiple games that endear the player via melancholy tone and wistful beauty.

Which is fine. The atmosphere of the game is wonderful and somber and reverent, characters animate in a way that is broad and universal as well as often times touching;
be it a chirp, laugh, or the whimper of a puppy who sticks his nose in
the wrong business. When I mentioned the word stark above, I meant it.
Valiant Hearts’ art-style screams care and oozes personality. It will remind some folks of the Triplets of Belleville.

Valiant Hearts is clearly
setting the player up for some kind of heart-wrenching tragedy, as a brother vs. brother dynamic unfolds via a German immigrant in France who’s forced to return home and
fight for Germany, ostensibly against his wife and literally against his father-in-law. Other threads emerge, and the likelihood of a  truly happy ending is not high. Valiant Hearts is about the horror and camaraderie and memories and tragedies and experiences
only people who have served in a war can truly understand.

But sometimes what something’s about and what it is aren’t the same. Valiant Hearts’ gameplay trades exclusively in the currency of Logos. It’s an adventure game that’s heavy on puzzles and making your way through a given area by pulling the right switches in the right order. Dig a specific way, use an item to distract a guard over here, walk in tandem with your puppy here, then use him to distract a guard there, and so on and so forth. Each character has a special ability or two, and you’ll switch between them to accomplish the more elaborate challenges.

The puzzles grow in complexity and in their mind-bending nature, to the point where the first boss battle is pretty much an update of the final encounter in Super Mario World; pick up this thing, angle it the right way, and toss it into the open spot. But the game’s closest relative is probably Blizzard’s The Lost Vikings, where you’d complete mind bending puzzles by switching between characters on a 2D plane. Both games feature combat but are not about combat. Both games aren’t so much about action as they are about action being the end result of pondering.

There are other kinds of gameplay that break up the puzzles, including
weird rhythm sections when you’re healing a wound like Rock Band: Combat Medic edition, and ‘get out of the
way of the incoming bomb’ moments that are often set in time with music.You’ll do other assorted tasks too in service of the story like roll out a giant bowl of soup for your captors while a POW, and so on.

Completing levels and finding collectibles rewards you with a
boatload of historical information, various medals and other easter-eggy
kudos, and leads into more of the narrative. It’s really fun in that mind-bending sort of way, and no puzzle is too difficult to give complete pause. If you enjoy stuff like Lost Vikings, Braid, Myst, Monument Valley, or old adventure games like Day of the Tentacle or Indiana Jones and the Lost City of Atlantis, playing Valiant Hearts scratches that niche wonderfully.

But there’s something weird about having puzzles that challenge your analytical thinking ability, while the narrative deliberately presses on the parts of your brain that are intentionally irrational – your emotions. There have been puzzle games with wonderful plots like Portal and Portal 2, and Braid was as mind bending as it gets. But those games weren’t trying to tell a story specifically designed to impact you the way Valiant Hearts is. Valiant Hearts is about specific places, people, and events, and is clearly desperate to make you sad in that ‘beautiful’ way movies like Saving Private Ryan do.

It’s like taking a test that switches between complex algebra and interpreting All Quiet on The Western Front. By its very nature Valiant Hearts needs to come to a complete stop every few minutes to allow you to approach and solve a puzzle. There’s no flow.  If you’re not super into puzzles, but are into well written and creative stories you have yourself a bit of a pickle.

Which is great if you like pickles. It’s perfectly fine to enjoy both these elements separately and get your 15 bucks worth out of the game – and then some. The puzzles and narrative are too creative to be considered anything but quality, even if they arrive at perpendicular angles to one-another. getting through the 8-10 hour adventure felt a little like Bioshock:
Infinite in that I’d be banging my head against a wall to progress just to see the story, only to like the story less because I was irked from the stuff I had to do to see it in the first place.

If I bought this game I would have been a little confused and a little dissapointed, but realized the quality none-the-less I’m just not a big ‘puzzle’ guy.

If you’re a puzzle guy or gal, history buff, or just like playing games that are unique and visually interesting, Valiant Hearts: The Great War is a great way to learn about some bad stuff that happened in Europe a few decades ago.

Lightning Round: Last Great Matches 2

Kane

Randy Savage

Booker T

Scott Steiner

Jake Roberts

Vader

​Kane:  Not a singles match, but the MITB he won was pretty good.  
Savage:  DDP in 97.  He was way too broken down after that.
Booker:  He had some good ones as a part of BookDust.
Steiner:  The Nitro finale against Booker?  
Jake:  Gotta go back pretty far for something great.  Probably This Tuesday In Texas.
Vader:  Shawn at Summerslam 96. ​

Lightning Round: Last Great Matches

Their greatest match was long ago, and since this is wrestling, we can’t say we’ve definitely seen their last match. But what was the last great (or at least very good) match for these wrestlers: Ric Flair The cage match against HHH at the Taboo Tuesday show.  Or Cyber Sunday?  Whatever. Kurt Angle He’s probably had others since, but the last one I can remember is the Samoa Joe series in TNA.  Shawn Michaels Well considering his retirement match against Undertaker was damn near *****, that would be the obvious choice.  Steve Austin His retirement match against Rock.  Bret Hart I’m tempted to say Montreal, but he had a good one with Flair at Souled Out after that.  Hulk Hogan He’s never had a good one. 

The SmarK Retro Rant for WCW Great American Bash 1991

The SmarK Rant for WCW Great American Bash 1991 Live from Baltimore, MD Your hosts are Jim Ross & Tony Schiavone and a whole lot of bad vibes. Scaffold match: PN News & Bobby Eaton v. Steve Austin & Terry Taylor So this kind of sums up all the problems they were having, and the match was hilariously dissected by Steve Austin on his podcast recently, as the people who built it made it too narrow for anyone to pass each other. Hell, I was watching the product weekly at this point and I couldn’t even tell how they ended up with this ridiculous combination for an opener. Would a normal tag match or two singles matches been too much to ask? So let me attempt to describe the “action” here. The guys line up single-file along the scaffold because they can’t go around each other, and Austin crawls around on his hands and knees menacingly while trying not to tumble to his death. The next highspot sees News laying on Taylor after a test of strength before the guys move as fast as humanly possible to the safe zones at the ends of the scaffold and pair off there. And thankfully, Bobby grabs the heel flag (sorry, did I not mention that you have to capture a flag to win the match? Because you totally did.) but Steve Austin sprays him in the face with hairspray. The announcers are remarkably unconcerned about someone walking around blind while 30 feet in the air, as Jim Ross is like “Wow, he’s blinded, that kind of sucks.” And then the match is just over and the babyfaces win at 8:00 for no adequately explored reason. Hell of a way to kick off the PPV! -**** Jim Ross explains that, yeah, Ric Flair is “no longer considered the WCW World champion” but we’ve got a hell of a show anyway! Lex Luger and Barry Windham, folks! How can that not be awesome? Meanwhile, Paul E. Dangerously and Arn Anderson cut a promo while they take the scaffolding down. Also, they’re now in a mixed tag match against Missy Hyatt and Rick Steiner for some reason. The announcers continue filling dead air while they take the stupid scaffolding down. The Diamond Studd v. Tom Zenk DDP with a mullet, plus bedazzled fanny pack, could not be any more clichéd 90s wrestler unless he was wearing Zubaz. WCW’s crack camera crew shows Zenk standing at the top of the ramp with his harem of cheerleaders, all of them standing there looking bored until it’s time for the entrance, at which point they all excitedly come down to the ring like they were excited the whole time. WCW, ladies and gentlemen. Zenk and Studd quickly brawl to the floor as I should point out that Scott Hall has “Stud” on his tights instead of “Studd”, which would be his name at that point. Because, you know, WCW. They slug it out in the ring and Studd gets an abdominal stretch, and judging by Hall’s physique DDP must have his fanny pack stuffed with steroids for him. Zenk tries a comeback and gets chokeslammed, and this would seem to set up the big finisher they’ve been hyping, but instead Zenk gets a sunset flip for two. Studd keeps punching and kicking, but Zenk hits a superkick and they continue this war on the floor. Back in, Zenk with a missile dropkick and he beats on DDP for some reason, allowing Studd to hit a backdrop suplex for the pin at 7:00. Not exactly a dominant PPV debut for the Diamond Studd. And they were actually TRYING for god knows what reason. How can I bash this show if the wrestlers are gonna make an effort? Some people are so selfish. Hall was probably too drunk to even realize Flair was gone anyway. ** The Great and Powerful Oz v. Ron Simmons OK, now I’ve got something to work with. No one ever accused Kevin Nash of trying too hard at anything ever. Ironically, back then he was dying his hair to make it MORE grey. So true story, Turner had recently purchased the rights to show Wizard of Oz on TBS, and wanted a wrestling character tie-in to take advantage of the brand. And this is what the combined brain power of Kevin Sullivan and Dusty Rhodes came up with: Kevin Nash in neon green tights. So Mr. Oz puts Ron down with a big boot, but Simmons takes him down with drop toehold and I think Nash tears a quad on it. They’ve found his one weakness: Taking simple bumps! Oz continues staggering around the ring until Simmons clotheslines him to the floor while one poor bastard keeps trying to start a “boring” chant. Oh, buddy, you have no idea what you’re in for later, you should save that. So with Nash having done his highspot for the match, they head back in for a test of strength. JR’s analysis: “It would favor the taller guy, unless the smaller guy is stronger.” So the test of strength favors the stronger guy? Fascinating. Oz with a sideslam for two and the Great Wizard (wearing slacks and sneakers underneath his mysterious robe) gets a cheapshot in. And now it’s time for Nash’s other highspot, the BEARHUG. Simmons thankfully escapes that predicament and comes back with shoulderblocks…which finish at 8:00. See? Nash’s one weakness, the simple bump. And that was that for Oz, never to be seen in the business again. * Wait, he went on to be World champion? Multiple times? WHAT THE FUCK, WRESTLING? The WCW Top 10! This WCW Top Ten and any files transmitted with it are confidential and intended solely for the use of the individual or entity to whom they are addressed. If you have received this WCW Top Ten in error please notify the system manager. This message contains confidential information and is intended only for the individual named. If you are not the named addressee you should not disseminate, distribute or copy this WCW Top Ten. Please notify the sender immediately by WCW Top Ten if you have received this WCW Top Ten by mistake and delete this WCW Top Ten from your system. If you are not the intended recipient you are notified that disclosing, copying, distributing or taking any action in reliance on the contents of this information is strictly prohibited. If you’re Ric Flair you’re pretty much fucked already, legally speaking. 10. Johnny B. Badd 9. Ron Simmons 8. Diamond Studd 7. Terrance Taylor 6. Arn Anderson 5. Bobby Eaton 4. Steve Austin 3. Sting 2. Barry Windham 1. Lex Luger And the World title, of course, is vacant. Ricky Morton v. Robert Gibson Some might have argued that the Rockers’ breakup was the most memorable of all-time, but I would argue that…wait, no sorry, I wouldn’t actually argue that. My bad. This was awful and no one wanted to see it. Also, Morton is still wearing the same tights despite the team breaking up, which I call Tito Santana-itis. IT’S A REAL THING. Look it up on Alexandra York’s word processor! Could she access Gopher on that thing, I wonder? They brawl on the ramp to start and Gibson gets a slam in the ring, sending Morton flailing to the floor in terror. Morton gets some advice from the computer, and it turns out to be an e-mail notifying him of late child support payments. Back in, Morton stalls as I ponder whose bright idea it was to take the most effective babyface in the history of tag team wrestling and TURN HIM HEEL. So Gibson slugs away, but Morton sends him into the corner to take over and goes to work on the injured knee. Yup, the dream clash of the Rock N Roll Express is one old dude working the knee on the other old dude. Jim Ross notes that he’s not an orthopedic surgeon, but that could be bad for Gibson’s surgically repaired knee. Whew, I was about to go put a guy wearing a leg brace in a figure-four on his advice, but at least now I can’t sue JR. So this match keeps happening and it’s literally all Ricky Morton working on the damn knee while they lie on the mat. So after ELEVEN MINUTES of that, Gibson tries a comeback, but Morton is still working on that damn knee. Alexandra York is so bored that she’s sexting Dustin Rhodes on her computer and people are literally sitting at ringside and yawning. Finally, Gibson tries another comeback, but Morton dodges a dropkick and…you guessed it…goes back to the knee. People are so bored that they start chanting for CM Punk, which is weird because he would have been in elementary school at the time, but obviously the crowd had enough time to collectively build a time machine and travel forward 20 years to watch good wrestling before returning to be annoyed by this shitty match all over again. And then after literally 15 minutes of Morton working on the damn knee, York distracts the ref and Morton just hits Gibson with the computer for the pin at 16:27. Some dude in the front row is so irritated by that stupid finish that he tosses garbage at the ring. Who booked this shit? DUD Elimination tag match: The Freebirds & Badstreet v. Dustin Rhodes & The Young Pistols Dustin’s pre-match promo where he says absolutely nothing is a thing of beauty. Thankfully he got much better at them and evolved beyond yelling “WE’LL SHOW YOU SOMETHING ABOUT ELIMINATION SIX-MAN TAG MATCHES!” while pointing at the camera. Dustin clears the ring with elbows as everyone bumps for the Knight of Nepotism long before he was any good. The Freebirds quickly take over with a cheapshot, giving Jimmy Garvin plenty of time to stall. They literally stand around posing while even the announcers question why Tracy Smothers is stupid enough to let them do it instead of, you know, hitting them. The Pistols bring Badstreet in and Steve Armstrong puts his own masked brother on the floor. Badstreet returns the favor and Garvin gets a cheapshot on Smothers and go to work on him. Hayes with a sleeper as I ponder WCW logic: The Freebirds need a third guy, so instead of getting another Freebird they put Brad Armstrong under a mask. Like, was Buddy Roberts REALLY asking for that much money? And Garvin doesn’t disappoint in sucking, going right to a chinlock. Badstreet comes in with a neckbreaker for two, but Smothers makes the alleged hot tag to Armstrong and it’s BONZO GONZO. Steve tries for Badstreet’s mask, but Hayes DDTs him and gets the pin at 13:47. And then he immediately throws the eliminated Armstrong over the top and gets DQ’d. Er, why? Never mind. I don’t really care. So now it’s just a total mess and Garvin DDTs Smothers for the pin at 15:19. Dustin then eliminates Garvin with a lariat at 15:32 and finishes Badstreet after a decent little sequence with a bulldog at 17:00. Why was this even elimination rules? *1/2 Bounty match: The Yellow Dog v. Johnny B. Badd The Yellow Dog actually brings a yellow dog to the ring with him, because WCW. Speaking of which, at this point the screen goes black and there’s a disclaimer from the Network that there was technical difficulties and this was the most complete version available. Dammit, we almost lost this match! And someone saved it. WHY? The Dog gets a suspiciously Pillman-like dropkick and chops Badd to the floor, and then a Pillman-like crucifix gets two. I’m starting to suspect that this mysterious yellow-clad figure is not who he represents himself to be. Badd attacks him on the floor and they slug it out in the ring, where the Dog botches a crossbody attempt. Good thing it’s not Brian Pillman because that would be embarrassing for him. Badd goes for the mask with no success, but the Dog comes back with a backdrop suplex. He goes up with a high cross, but Teddy Long runs in for the DQ at 6:00. Yeah. So this happened. * Meanwhile, Eric Bischoff goes to interview Missy Hyatt in her locker room, which seems a tad inappropriate. So Eric actually goes into the shower, clearly knowing that she would be naked, and he’s all shocked when she freaks out and kicks him out. And yet instead of getting fired for sexual harassment, he was made Executive VP two years later! Only in America. Lumberjack match: Black Blood v. Big Josh What is with all the shitty stipulation matches tonight? Josh is of course from the North Woods, although where in the North and which Woods are never specified. You might be thinking “Oh, Billy Jack Haynes v. Matt Borne, this should be decent” but OH HOW WRONG YOU WOULD BE. Black Blood is apparently a literal executioner, carrying a bloody axe to the ring after guillotining someone in France. Do you have to check that thing at the airport? Well, clearly now you would, but I guess it was a simpler time before 9/11. DAMN YOU TERRORISTS, robbing hard-working executioners of the ability to carry their tools. I feel like that’s the reason why the gimmick was dropped, because all things being equal he would have been World champion had the hassle of carrying the giant axe from city to city not overcome him. So anyway, Josh slugs away and the lumberjacks randomly brawl with each other. You know, if House taught me anything, it’s that Black Blood in his urine would indicate kidney shutdown, so perhaps Mr. Blood should see a doctor. Maybe that’s why the gimmick failed? And is Black Blood any relation to Ricky Steamboat? So Blood grabs the axe, apparently wanting to literally decapitate Big Josh to win a wrestling match, but luckily Josh gets a small package after assistance from Dustin Rhodes for the pin at 5:41. Ah, the old beheading trick, oldest heel move in the book. If only Henry VIII’s wives had known that you could small package the executioner to evade beheading, history would look a lot different. I believe his finisher was called the Robespierre, or at least should have been. DUD El Gigante v. One Man Gang Kevin Sullivan is working double duty tonight, seconding Gang as well as Oz. He was supposed to also be in Black Blood’s corner but was apparently too busy getting his skullet teased for this. I should note that even Big Josh gets a harem of women to accompany him, whereas Gigante gets four midgets as his posse. Thankfully, Kevin Sullivan beats them up. Gigante uses the WORLD’S LARGEST CLUBBING FOREARMS while poor Gang has to bump for him. Gigante misses a “charge” and “sells” it by staggering around like a drunk guy, allowing Gang to use a wrench to take over. Yes, an actual wrench. Why not just grab Black Blood’s giant bloody axe and use that instead? Unless airport security already made him check it with the baggage. DAMN YOU TERRORISTS! I remember when you could carry an Uzi on with you and then buy ammunition from the Skymall while doing coke with the hooker/stewardess. DAMN YOU TERRORISTS. I may be remembering it wrong, granted. Gang hits a splash and goes up and then stands there waiting for Gigante to remember his mark and slam him off. Line? Oh yeah, it was “WAAAAGH!” Gigante puts the claw on Sullivan, but Gang gets a bunch of powder, or salt, or something according to Tony, which Gigante kicks back in his face for the pin at 6:30. Shit, I bet those fascist airport guards wouldn’t let him carry that bag of blow on the plane with him, either. DAMN YOU TERRORISTS! -** Negative stars are starting to lose all meaning for me. Russian Chain match: Sting v. Nikita Koloff This actually was the one match on the show with good heat and backstory to it, so of course they ruin it with one of my least favorite stipulation matches. So yeah, they brawl around the ring and Sting manages two turnbuckles before Koloff clotheslines him and takes over on the floor. Sting runs him into the post, but Koloff wraps the chain around his arm and drops elbows on Sting. We get a dull heat segment and Koloff drags him around for three corners before Sting breaks it up. They do a silly bit where they fight in a bearhug and end up touching two corners at the same time, and then both guys go to the nuts, which kind of an allegory for this fucking show. And then both tumble into the third corner at the same time, because WHAT THE FUCK, but Koloff breaks it up and we’re still at 3 each for some reason. Sting dives in and knocks Koloff into the turnbuckle to give him the win at 11:50. Even by the low standards of the gimmick match this whole thing made no sense. * WCW World title, cage match: Lex Luger v. Barry Windham The dead space before the match just allows the crowd to get good and pissed off and chant for Flair, as it was now readily apparent that Ric Flair was not going to show up. Oh, and they spell Windham’s name wrong in the pre-match graphic. Because WCW. And the belt appears to be an old Western States title belt with “World Heavyweight Champion” superimposed via cheap gold plate. Because WCW. And now the hostility really starts from the crowd, as they unload with both barrels because WE WANT FLAIR. Man, that Flair, what a petulant child, leaving like he did just because Jim Herd wanted to cut his pay in half and dress him like a gladiator. So on the bright side, people liked Lex Luger, so at least they’d have a top babyface after this, right? They do the feeling-out and this crowd is just ready to HATE the match like they’re John Cena and Randy Orton. Slugfest and Windham gets a backdrop but the crowd would really rather see Flair. They continue having a match and Windham goes up with a flying elbow that misses, but Luger comes back with the clotheslines for two. The cage has played absolutely no part in the match thus far, by the way. Powerslam sets up the Torture Rack, but Windham manages to use the ropes and counter out, then hits a backdrop suplex as the crowd starts to get into it against their will. They fight to the top and Windham fights him off and follows with a top rope clothesline for two. Back to the top and a missile dropkick gets two. And now one of the great miscalculations in WCW history, as Harley Race and Mr. Hughes head to ringside, and Luger piledrives Windham for the pin and the title at 12:20. This was apparently supposed to be a heel turn for Luger, but fans cheer it anyway. And Luger of course went to be a giant flop as heel champion before leaving for the WWF in 92. Match was pretty decent despite the atmosphere and hostile crowd. But really, a heel turn in a main event where you should send the angry fans home happy? *** The Real Main Event: Missy Hyatt & Rick Steiner v. Paul E. Dangerously & Arn Anderson Thankfully, Paul is the one to break out the Zubaz and thus confim that it’s 1991. This was also pretty mind-boggling as the Maryland commission didn’t actually allow mixed gender matches so Missy wasn’t allowed to have any real involvement in the match. And indeed, Murdoch and Slater kidnap her, thus leaving Rick at a disadvantage. Without, you know, Missy Hyatt to depend on. They actually try a match for some reason, with the heels double-teaming Rick for a bit, but he quickly finishes Paul E. with a clothesline at 2:00. Pretty sure half the crowd had emptied out by then anyway. DUD JR & Tony recap all the carnage to end things. Tony notes that they’ve made a statement tonight. Oh, that they did. The Pulse Gotta say, it was bad no doubt, but not the giant flaming car wreck I remember from the 90s. I have actually seen much worse shows and would downgrade this one from Worst Of All-Time like it usually gets. It’s legendarily bad, sure, but the crowd was into some of the stuff and some of the guys were trying at least. It’s at best #2 behind Heroes of Wrestling on the list of most atrocious crapfests ever put on PPV. Now there’s some exuberant praise for you.

Stranger Things Presents: Another Great Poll in a Series of Great Polls

So a guy creates a column dedicated to the greatest pay-per-view matches in a particular month’s history, and it gets over reasonably well enough to justify in the continuation of the series. But he runs into a quandary: WrestleMania has been held in both March and April, and there have been other shows from WCW, namely Uncensored and their final PPV ever, Greed. So, I have decided to break Wrestlemania up into two months. The March Wrestlemania’s, and the April Wrestlemania’s. I figured this was the way to do it. With that settled, once again, I give the BoD Universe the opportunity to whip out your figurative BoD app, and vote for what you believe is the greatest match in March pay-per-view lore. To the poll!

What is the greatest match in March PPV history?
Ricky Steamboat vs. Randy Savage – Wrestlemania III
The Ultimate Warrior vs. Randy Savage – Wrestlemania VII
Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart – Wrestlemania X
Razor Ramon vs. Shawn Michaels – Ladder Match – Wrestlemania X
Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin – Submission Match – Wrestlemania XIII
Chris Benoit vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H – Wrestlemania XX
Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels – Iron Man Match – Wrestlemania XII
Eddie Guerrero vs. Kurt Angle – Wrestlemania XX
The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels (Part II) – Wrestlemania XXVI
Eddie Guerrero vs. Dean Malenko – Uncensored 97
  
pollcode.com free polls

Yes, it is skewered significantly on the WWF/E side, but WCW did not run a pay-per-view in March until the very first Uncensored show in 1995, and we all know that Uncensored usually did not bring the goods. This list does not signify everything that will eventually make the Top 5, so if you don’t see something here that deserves props, it doesn’t mean it won’t make the final post on March 1. This is to determine #1 as chosen by YOU. Choose wisely, you opinionated bastards.