Assorted May-Per-View Countdown: WWE Judgment Day 2002

The SmarK Rant for WWE Judgment Day 2002 (So it’s been a DECADE since the WWF became WWE, and this was the first PPV with that new designation.  Sometimes it still feels weird.) – Okay, first things first: Vegas, baby! I wanted to jot a bunch of stuff down for a later road trip report, but I never really had the time, so consider this a “best guess” timeline for my experiences there. (Can’t believe it’s also been a decade since I was in Vegas.  One day I will return!  Although it’s more likely that if we’re taking a big trip now, it’ll be to Disneyland, but I’d still like to go to Vegas and have my vows renewed by Elvis.  And get tickets for a UFC.)  Day One (Thursday): – My friend Jody and I make the 3-hour drive to Calgary to catch the flight down to Vegas. Customs officers going into the US are total jerks, but whatever. (It’s even worse now, apparently.  Although the months immediately following 9/11 were particularly bad for obvious reasons.)  – We arrive in Vegas at about 6:00, and I’m immediately depressed when I trade in my $180 spending cash and only get about $100 US back for it. (Bwahahahahaha, not any more!  Now you suddenly WANT our Canadian money!)  Immediate questions spring to mind: How can you stand having money that all looks exactly the same? And aren’t there any $2 bills down there? I mean, sure in Canada it’s weird going through your pocket change and finding like $20, but it’s pretty easy to tell the difference just by touch. Every time I went to grab some cash from my wallet I had to stop and make sure I wasn’t paying for a drink with a $20.  (The state of Canadian currency is even weirder now, as all the big bills have been made with a new plastic like the Mexican peso instead of the usual paper.  It’s like futuristic play money or something.)  – First thing after getting off the bus from the airport, the incredibly oppressive and sweltering heat becomes noticeable. Whose bright idea was it to build a city on a DESERT? (Mobsters.  Easier to bury the bodies that way.)  You have to keep in mind that I come from a region of Canada where it only stopped snowing LAST WEEK. (I was since told that I got there at the time of year when it was considered kind of cool, in fact.)  We check into Ballys, and I’m immediately bowled over by the sheer amount of slot machines that are EVERYWHERE. I swear they’d start putting them in toilet stalls if it were feasible.  (I’ve heard that I just wasn’t looking in the right toilet stalls.)  After unpacking and revelling in the glorious air conditioning (sweet, sweet recirculated air.) we decide to head out and check out the Strip to see what all the hubbub is about. – With a couple of free hours before Star Wars, we fight off the hordes of annoying people handing out porn flyers and decide to sample cuisine from an apparent Scottish restaurant: McDonalds. Man, what will they think of next? At any rate, four things quickly become apparent: 1) Canadians are getting SHAFTED when it comes to super-sizing, as the drink and fries down there are roughly 1/3 larger than up here.  (Apparently the same craziness applies to Big Gulps at 7-11 as well.)  2) Dr. Pepper is nowhere, Mr. Pibb is everywhere. Both tasted the same to me.  (Still no Pibb in Canada.  I’m a huge Dr. Pepper drinker, so it was weird not to have it around.)  3) Getting sugar in your iced tea is like pulling teeth. Seriously, how can you people drink iced tea without sweetening? And drink so much of it that even the fountains don’t offer sweetened iced tea? What is WRONG with your country?  (Apparently this is a regional thing in the US, I’ve since learned.  In Canada, we all drink sweetened iced tea, and in fact iced tea powder is a big seller up here and is also nonexistent south of our border from what I’ve been told.)  4) Debit cards. Hi, welcome to the 21st century, where banks should be organized enough that paying with a debit card doesn’t require funny looks from the cashier and a $2 surcharge, assuming that you even have a compatible bank with what the store is using.  (Yeah, what Canadians consider debit cards, that is direct debit from the bank account instead of a fake Visa card, have never really taken off in the US, whereas up here it’s almost literally the only way anyone pays for anything.)  – Since they’re in the same building, we decide to check out M&Ms World and Coca-Cola World before the movie. Both are awesome, albeit expensive. I have my picture taken with the blue M&M for the hell of it and pick up a keychain for a friend of mine. You wouldn’t think there would be enough things dealing with M&Ms to fill a four-story building, but there it was. – Star Wars time! After navigating the maze-like path to the United Artists theater, the trip proves to be worth it as Episode II drags for an hour under the weight of political discussions masquerading as plot, until Yoda kicks much ass and saves the movie big time.  (I’ve since downgraded the movie to probably the worst of the series.)  – Back to the hotel for a bit of gambling, as I go up $20 on the slots for about, um, five minutes, and then lose it all again. Total net loss: $10 US. I can live with that. I completely avoid the card games, because I suck at them and find the slots cooler to look at anyway.  (This is my one big regret, because I’ve since become a pretty enthusiastic poker player, and I would have liked to try my luck at the tables.  Yeah, I’m sure I would have lost my paltry gambling money in the process, but damn it would have been fun.)  – We hit the bar for drinks, as I notice that no one is drinking Smirnoff Ice. In Canada, this would be a very odd sign, but I just file it away for future reference and go with a Vodka-7 as my drink of choice for the weekend. By this point I’ve missed Smackdown and don’t really feel any empty spot in my life. Day Two (Friday): – Back to the strip after lunch to check out the major hotels. The MGM Grand is just an awesome place to be around, even if that Divas commercial playing non-stop on their big screen made me want to poke my own eyes out after a while. We get ready to head over to the Hard Rock Hotel to catch Sammy Hagar later that night, but first it’s a stop at 7-11 to grab something to drink, and perhaps the strangest site I’ve seen yet: Hard liquor being sold in the same cooler as the rest of the soft drinks. That wacky Nevada.  (This is apparently an American thing in general.  That wacky USA.)  – Over to the Hard Rock Hotel, as I try my hand at gambling again, this time working with a $20 budget instead of $10. I know, I’m a high-roller. I try the $1 machines instead of the quarter machines, and on my first try I win $40 on video poker. 5 minutes later it’s fed back into the machine and I understand why Vegas makes so much money. – With a couple of hours to burn before Sammy, we hang out at the Hard Rock Café and do some more drinking. Despite warnings of overpriced food, the combo platter we get for $13 is actually quite worth the money, IMO. Again, no one’s drinking Smirnoff Ice and I’m confused now. So thinking it’s just the alcoholic content difference I order one, and that’s when my world is turned upside-down forever. Because, US readers, what you know to be Smirnoff Ice is not Smirnoff Ice. In Canada, where it’s the most widely-ordered drink in bars all over to the point where a summer shortage last year made news all over the country, Smirnoff Ice is a 7.5% vodka and lemon cooler that tastes great and and tends to give a buzz fast. (Sadly, Smirnoff Ice has fallen off as of late and no longer enjoys the same gigantic market share it once did.  Even I’ve basically switched to other vodka-based mixed drinks since then.)  In the US, it’s BEER. Frigging lemon-flavored beer, and a wimpy 5% beer at that. I mean, it tasted KINDA like the genuine article, but only in the way that unsweetened iced tea and Sweet N Low tastes kinda like sweetened iced tea. No wonder no one drinks it down there. FOR SHAME, Smirnoff. Anyway, mystery solved there. – Onto Sammy, as we wait in line for close to an hour to get into the Joint. It’s SRO anyway, so as long as you’re big and imposing enough you can muscle your way to the front anyway, no biggie. The set was smokin’, as he brought out Michael Anthony to play bass and the guy from Smashmouth to do backing vocals on a couple of songs. After running through all the big hits and closing with “I Can’t Drive 55” and “Mas Tequilla” he leaves to prep for the encore and I’m wondering what Van Halen stuff he’s gonna finish with. Well, he hasn’t done “When It’s Love” or “Dreams” or “Right Now” yet, so they’re pretty good prospects. Instead, after getting the crowd into a frenzy with the last two songs, he brings out Neil Schoen (who I think is awesome) and they do the first couple of songs from their “Planet Us” side-project together. P.U. “Vertigo” is this rambling mess with no real chorus, and then to close the show Sammy introduces “a song about serious child abuse” called “Peeking Through a Hole” and WTF are we watching here? The audience is just dead by the end of that, and poof, end of show just like that. I mean, GEEZ. Was he pissed because everyone hated his new pet project or something? We grumble about that and head back to the Strip.  (Planet Us never even ended up getting released, although thankfully I was able to see the reunited Van Hagar a couple of years later here in Saskatoon before they imploded for good.  Chickenfoot, however, is awesome.)  – We check out a bunch of the hotels after midnight with all the lights in full glory, and it’s a pretty neat place to be. New York New York is just mind-blowingly huge, and I think that I’d like to stay at Excalibur next time, since we ended up passing through there for various reasons about 18 times over the course of the weekend. The street level is a little more ominous after dark, however, with all the various groupings hanging out like a weird 50s cliché or something. Seriously the bikers all sat around in front of the Harley-Davidson Café, the black kids all stood around in front of Denny’s it was a bit weird to see it. Back to the hotel for a bit more gambling as I blow another $5, and then we call it a night. Day Three (Saturday): – It’s way over to the other side of the Strip now as we head to the Hilton to check out the Star Trek Experience. Talk about heaven for a Star Trek geek. The gift shop alone was almost enough to make me take out a loan and spend the day there. We had lunch at Quark’s Bar (I had the Wrap of Kahn) and met a Kingon before heading up to check out the museum and ride. Well worth the $25 admission price, and I’ll leave it at that so as not to spoil the surprise for anyone who’s planning on going and hasn’t tried it yet.  (Sadly, the Star Trek Experience has since been closed down.  Maybe JJ Abrams will reboot it as well.)  – Next stop, Mandalay Bay to pick up the tickets for Styx. Mandalay was probably the nicest of all the hotels (complete with another hotel inside the hotel for those who don’t want to gamble) and also the most expensive. – With time to burn before the show, we head over to the Luxor (the pyramid hotel) and after gawking at the architecture there for a while head upstairs and check out the rather huge arcade and then the Space Station 3D show at the Imax. And THAT in itself was a pretty amazing thing, too, despite the slightly-clunky 3D of the Imax cameras.  (This was of course before the 3D craze blew up and actually started making for pretty decent-looking 3D movies again.)  – Finally, after stopping for an early dinner at the Excalibur’s buffet (hey, I wanted to try at least one of the famous Vegas buffets) it’s over to the Mandalay Bay Beach to wait in line, again, for another concert. I’m there for like 72 hours and 2.5 of them are spent standing in line. Go fig. While in that line I had the unique experience of meeting a retired air force colonel who used to mix grain alcohol with his beer to make it “drinkable”. Someone suggested that he try Australia, and indeed he had been there and found the beer more to his liking. Anyway, I found the beach a terrible place to have a concert, but the show was good, albeit pretty much the same as the one I saw a few months back. Then it’s back to the strip for a bit before catching the monorail back to Ballys and calling it a vacation. Overall, great trip, and a vacation that I’ve needed for a while. Definitely a place I’ll be going back once I get the money together again.  (One baby and mortgage later…)  – Live from Nashville, TN – Your hosts are JR & The King – Some might argue that the promo video for Judgment Day, complete with talking corpses and death images, seems a bit too macabre after losing British Bulldog, Big Dick Dudley and Mass Transit in the span of one weekend.  (S---, I forgot Mass Transit was dead.)  Not me, though. Nope, because I know when I order a PPV, the opening graphics are the #1 thing influencing my buying decision and I know how they’re too important to simply dispense with over a little thing like three people dying. – Opening match, Intercontinental title: Eddy Guerrero v. Rob Van Dam. (Of course, after that diatribe there’s immediately a dead person in the first match.)  I am astonished that supposedly rational people are actually complaining that Eddy shouldn’t be pushed, due to his past problems. Well, two things on that score: 1) The WWF has always shown that they’re much more concerned with what might make them money than with what might happen to their talent should personal problems get out of control. A cynical viewpoint, but works for both the good and bad. Besides, if Scott Hall was having **** matches with Steve Austin, you can damn sure bet HE’D be around today, too. 2) The specific complaint is that Eddy is being pushed over RVD, who has supposedly paid his dues and doesn’t suffer from Eddy’s problems. Um, HELLO? The same guy who spent THREE YEARS blatantly flaunting his addiction to pot? I mean, as long as it doesn’t affect his work in the ring, whatever, but don’t act like RVD is somehow on the moral high ground in his dealings with Eddy. As long as Eddy can bring it in the ring, I can forgive his past troubles.  (Besides, what’s the worst that can happen if they let him work a full-time schedule again?  His heart explodes from years of steroid abuse and painkillers?)  To the match, then: Rob overpowers Eddy for two. Clothesline gets two. Powerslam and Eddy bails. Back in, he forearms Rob, who retaliates with a split-legged moonsault out of the corner and some kicks. Backdrop and legdrop get two. Backbreaker gets two. He stays on the back with an elbow and hooks a Rito Romero Special, which shows that he’s been paying attention to the last match with Eddy and has adjusted his battle plan accordingly. Of course, the match itself was given almost no time to develop on the RAWs leading up to it so they couldn’t even have Rob drop a soundbite like “Yeah, I’ve been watching tapes and learning stuff. Or whatever.” Because that sort of thing might eat into valuable skit time.  (Remember, they’re an entertainment company that’s in the business of telling stories, but the stories don’t have to make sense.) Rob bridges back on the move for two, then releases and quickly dodges the falling Eddy. Neat spot. Standing moonsault gets two. Eddy gets a cheapshot to take over and makes some friends in the front row, but Rob monkeyflips him to keep on the back. Another one sets up a hotshot into Rolling Thunder, which gets two. Eddy reverses a suplex for two, but Rob heel kicks him down and heads up. Eddy crotches him and gives him the MURDER-DEATH-KILL POWERBOMB~! (Always loved that powerbomb.)  However, his back is hurt too badly to cover this time, unlike the first match. Eddy heads up, but again the weakened back prevents him from hitting the frog splash, as Rob has time to move this time. Slugfest is won by RVD, and he goes up.but misses. Should’ve worn Eddy down more. Double KO and they do a criss-cross and collide. Rob backslides him for two, but Eddy proves smarter again and does his own backslide, but uses the feet on the ropes for the pin at 10:57. CHEAT TO WIN. Hell of an opener, even if Eddy was doing most of the work. ****1/4 Hey, he did the same with Chris Jericho in 1996. – Women’s title: Trish v. Stacy. (Funny how so many guys get sucked into the vortex of the business and can never escape until they’re dead, but the bigger female stars cash in and then cash out and go on to bigger and better things.)  The ex-Dudley Boyz are in opposing corners seconding the women. Personally I don’t understand how they can spend a month building to Trish v. Molly and then do this match instead. Well, I CAN, but you know what I mean. Stacy gets a horrible high kick for two. I mean, it LITERALLY missed by two feet. Trish lariats her and gets a Boston Crab, which turns into one of those laughable Eddy-Dean parodies. Kawada kick puts Stacy out, but she slaps Bubba and the hijinx begin. The Deacon (BATISTA!!!) slams Trish, and Stacy gets two. Choking follows (way to follow up), but Trish gets another high kick and finishes with the bulldog at 2:52. DUD Then the subtle undercurrent of the match reveals itself, as the Dudley Boyz get into a fight and Bubba ends up on the wrong end of a table spot as a result. I’m on the edge of my seat waiting for that showdown.  (Luckily they patched things up in time for another pair of tag titles in 2003 and 2004.)  – Meanwhile, Vince & Ric mend fences a month after the company was split because they hated each other so darn much. Whoops, guess the Bored of Directors have egg on their face now, don’t they? – The Hardy Boyz v. Brock Lesnar & Paul Heyman. The Hardyz attack Brock and chase Heyman, but Brock uses that to gain the advantage and he suplexes Jeff. Matt gives it a go, but gets overwhelmed thanks to Brock’s superior intellect. Powerslam and a pounding follows. Matt finally comes back with a DDT and makes the hot tag to Stick Boy. They do their usual stuff and dump Brock, leaving Heyman to carry the load for the team. Things look bleak, but the Hardyz collide and Brock finishes Jeff with the TKO (with Heyman making the pin) at 4:58. Okay, he’s a big monster and Heyman is a bad person, we get the point. Time to move up the ladder. ¼*  (Brock would do OK for himself.)  – Meanwhile, Booker is happy to be in the nWo. (That was a goofy storyline.)  He stops his interview so he can bust a move on a passing ringrat, however, and gets the key to her hotel. – Steve Austin v. Big Show & Ric Flair. The WWF seems to be trying to phase “Giant” in as a new name for Big Show with all their usual subtlety. Because THAT’s what’s been missing from his character: his old WCW name. (That went nowhere, as usual.)  And who did Steve piss off to get stuck this far down in undercard hell? (A lot of people, as it turns out.)  He should be winning the title TOMORROW so he can get it all polished up for Benoit when he comes back in June. (Well, not quite.  This would be Austin’s last PPV match for a long time.)  Steve holds off both heels and pounds Show down, and then dumps Flair and goes low on Show to set up a figure-four. Then one on Flair for good luck. Regrouping time as Austin gets a chair, which upsets Little Naitch’s moral sensibilities. Flair & Austin start the match proper, and Flair bails. Austin stops for a beer. Austin backdrops him him when he gets back in, but a good ol’ thumb to the eye and some chops follow. Austin returns fire, thus creating the long-awaited “What? WHOO!” battle amidst the peons. Flair does a flop to celebrate this cultural high-water moment. Another backdrop, and Austin pounds away until Flair lets Show have a go at it. He pounds away and gets the big boot. Flair comes back in and goes low, and they have at it with the chops again. Flair goes up and gets slammed off, and a mudhole is stomped. Show slams Austin to turn the tide, however. Flair tells some punk to shut his mouth (good, he was bothering me), (Wonder if it was the same person that was annoying Shawn Michaels at Beware of Dog?) but before the Phantom Fatboy can be told what Flair is going to do to his wife, the chopfest resumes and Flair goes to the knee to win that battle. Show helps out with that, and Flair tries the figure-four, but gets cradled for two. Flair gets it on the second try, however. Austin reverses, and gets a backslide for two. Austin wins a slugfest and gets a bad spinebuster into another figure-four of his own, but Big Show breaks again. Not smart, Austin. Show comes back in and promptly runs into Austin’s boot, and it’s Thesz Presses for everyone! Another spinebuster gets two, some jobber runs in and does nothing, and it’s KICK WHAM STUNNER on Show, which is no-sold. Well, f--- him. Flair takes it like a man and does the job at 15:38. All Big Show matches should involve him standing on the ring apron while Ric Flair does the wrestling. *** – Hair v. Hair: Edge v. Kurt Angle. Angle overpowers him, but gets rolled up for two. Angle pounds away, but gets tossed. Baseball slide follows and they brawl out. Back in, Angle stomps away, but Edge slugs back and ties him in the ropes. Angle escapes and suplexes him to the floor in a sick spot. Back in, Angle stomps away and starts laying in the chops. Man, you just can’t follow Flair-Austin, guys. Spinebuster gets two. Choking follows. This match is dying. DDT gets two. Angle hits the chinlock, and then follows with a suplex for two. Back to the chinlock, but Edge comes back with a suplex. Slugfest, won by Edge, and he gets a flying forearm and leg lariat. Edge-O-Matic gets two. Angle suplexes him, but gets tossed. Edge follows with a running pescado. Back in, Edge blocks the pop-up superplex and gets a missile dropkick for two. Angle suplexes him, but gets rolled up for two. Implant and Edge goes up, but now Angle gets the pop-up superplex. Why didn’t Edge go for the pin after the original DDT? Edge superkicks him and gets a tornado DDT for two. Ref is bumped, and Angle suplexes Edge on his head and grabs a chair. Spear, no ref. Again, but Angle uses that kick to block it again. Another spear gets two. Angle returns fire with his own spear, and that sets up the Angle Slam for two. Thought that would be the finish. Anglelock, but an Edgezuigiri breaks. Again, but Edge cradles for the pin at 15:29. Ugh, cheap finish. Match was really good, but not as good as Backlash due to the boring nature of the first 10 minutes and the manipulative “make the crowd pop for near-falls” nature of the ending, which then didn’t pay off because the finish was a rollup. If you’re gonna go the “My finish! No, my finish! No me doing your finish!” type of thing, you need a better ending. Just MODO. (That’s “My own damn opinion”, by the way, an RSPW-ism that never really caught on outside of the newsgroup.  Anyway, the “my finish, your finish, lame ending” thing would of course end up defining the entire main event scene for years to come.)  ***1/2 Angle escapes the head-shaving, however. – Meanwhile, Booker gets all freaky with the ringrat, but Goldust manages to sneak into the bed and reveal how hurt he is by Booker’s defection to the nWo. Booker storms out, buck naked. The story idea is good in theory, but there are FAR better ways to go about it than turning everything into a sight gag. – Hell in a Cell: HHH v. Chris Jericho. Is HHH using Hulk Hogan’s tanning bed or something? Good lord, I didn’t know he was secretly black. (He’s laid off it a little bit since then.)  Slugfest to start, and HHH gets the high knee and a backdrop Pounding in the corner and he tosses Jericho. They brawl and head back in, where Jericho gets a forearm and chops. Jericho misses a charge and bails and HHH gives him a taste of the cold, cold steel, and it don’t taste like chocolate, or so I’ve heard. Bloodflow starts slow, and HHH gives him a couple of shortarms and a suplex for two. Jericho tosses him and do some weak brawling. HHH tries the Pedigree on the steps, but Jericho reverses him into the cell and I’m hoping the usually reliable forehead of HHH will come through in the clutch. Jericho finds a ladder and gives HHH a mouthful. Back in, another taste of ladder. He whips Hunter into it and out, then tosses it onto him. Outside, HHH eats cage again. Back in, HHH uses a chair to counter the ladder, but gets bulldogged into it. Stairs get involved, but Jericho gets taken down into them. This is turning into a stunt show. HHH gets his neckbreaker and facebuster, and tosses the stairs at Jericho. Jericho has some cage for dinner with a side-order of cage salad. Back in, ref is bumped. Oh, come ON. JR suddenly recalls that Tim White is the only one with the key to the door! How about that. Timmy bleeds as Jericho works out his frustrations on him and a pack of rabid referees cut open the lock. (Was this the match that f----- up Tim White’s neck and ended his career, giving us the suicidal ref skits later on?)  HHH finds his trusty sledgehammer and KO’s Jericho, but all 15 referees are too busy to make a count. Jericho crawls out and slams the door in HHH’s face. I know Michaels-Undertaker was a really good match, but let’s use SOME originality. They fight at ringside and HHH DDTs Jericho on a table, which is totally oversold by JR. Jericho starts to climb as the HIAC “Tribute to Better Matches” tour moves to No Way Out 2000 and HHH finds a barbed-wire 2×4. I’d stick with the sledgehammer, myself. They head up to the top, but Jericho steals the 2×4 and gets his shots in. Walls of Jericho on top of the cage as the ref has now climbed up to follow and the match mysteriously turns into Falls Count Anywhere. (Yeah, I don’t know why that was suddenly a thing, but it was gone by the next Cell match.)  HHH powers out, and goes low to set up the Pedigree, but Jericho backdrops out. Cage holds this time. HHH uses the 2×4 for two. Pedigree on the cage finishes at 24:31 as Jericho remains HHH’s bitch. This was like buying tickets to seeing KISS and getting Black Diamond (I’m talking abou the leading KISS tribute band here, for those in the past who have asked me what I have against the song “Black Diamond”); bits and pieces of better matches patched together into a mish-mash that never really clicked. And not that I’m advocating people killing themselves, but if you’re going to build up a match on the promise of big bumps, you have to deliver. And finally, advertising a match on the basis of the inescapable cage and then having every match lead to a spot where they easily escape the cage is truly WWF Logic. *** – Meanwhile, Angle hides from Edge. – Meanwhile, Maven & Torrie have the lamest date since Anakin & Padme, at the ex-WWF New York. Hey, try telling her that the grains of sand are rough and she’s all smooth. I hear that’s the secret Jedi Pickup Line. Personally I think he should have gone with “Wanna feel my light-saber?” – WWF tag title: Chuckabilly v. Rikishi & The Mystery Partner. And indeed, the partner is Rico, as we go back to that most successful of Vince Russo formula: The Wacky Mismatched Partners Who Hate Each Other. Rikishi handles the champs, but gets flapjacked. Billy misses a dropkick, but gets a neckbreaker. Chuck hammers away and gets a suplex for two. Dumbasser gets two. Chuck slugs him down, but Rikishi suplexes him. This is truly awful. Rikishi makes his own comeback with a buttdrop for two. Bubba Cutter, but Chuck dropkicks him. Rico kicks Chuck by accident, and Rikishi pins Chuck at 3:54 to give the belts to Rikishi & Rico. Rikishi looked stoned throughout the whole match and moved like a slug. DUD  (I totally don’t even remember that whole thing.  Billy and Chuck must have gotten them back pretty quick because I do remember them dropping the belts to Edge & Hogan on the fourth of July show.)  – Meanwhile, Angle attacks Edge in the back and drags him to the barber, but Edge puts him out with a sleeper and shaves him mostly bald. Edge tells the crowd to chant “You’re Bald” from now on, but I suspect that’ll get over about as well as “You Are / An Asshole” did.  (Yup.  Now bald Angle is just normal.)  – WWF title: Hulk Hogan v. Undertaker. UT has newer, lamer, generic music and no bike. And surprise surprise, his pop is greatly diminished. How about that. (Thankfully he switched back to the classic one at Wrestlemania XX.)  UT attacks with the Hulk belt to start, but Hogan fights back with the WINDMILL PUNCH OF DOOM and he also uses that belt. Hogan slugs away and gets a clothesline. Oh, sure, Undertaker won’t sell for DDP, but this nonsense lays him out cold. Taker gets dumped and they “brawl”. WHEN SENIORS COLLIDE~! There’s a Fox special for you. (Undertaker actually started getting much better shortly after this, thanks to his love of MMA.)  Back in, UT works the arm, but gets crotched. Hogan pulls out that superplex from 1990 and gets two. UT clips him and works the knee so that Hogan can do the Dusty Rhodes thing and lay around in crippling pain on the mat instead of, you know, moving. Hulk comes back with more devastating punches, but gets kneed. No! HE’S ALIVE! Big boot, but the legdrop misses and UT gets a half-crab. I’m on the edge of my seat as we speak. Hogan makes the ropes. Phew. UT slugs away, but crotches himself. Hogan comes back again, but takes the worst chokeslam in recorded history for two. (That Kane-Big Show match on RAW a few weeks ago had a MUCH worse one.)  Hulk up! Well, god I hope so, a 4-year old could have kicked out of that thing. Big boot! Legdrop! It gets two. I’m shocked and appalled. Who will be my role model now that my role model is gone? UT DDTs him when he puts his head down. I’m shocked that the reflection off his bald head didn’t stun him. Vince joins us as Hogan regroups and drops another big leg, with no ref. Two legdrops, and UT isn’t crippled yet? HE’S SUPERMAN! Vince takes a legdrop for the team, but UT gets a slightly less-embarassing version of the chokeslam and wins the title at 12:30. DUD This was pretty much lose-lose in terms of the result, so I guess that one, younger, broken-down ex-star beating an older broken-down ex-star is the better choice.  (I love how they panicked and put the title on Hulk, and then panicked in the other direction and took it right off him again.  They should have just kept it on him for a few months and let Brock DESTROY him at Summerslam instead of on that Smackdown.)  The Bottom Line: Four good matches would normally make for an easy thumbs up, but the rest of the show was brutally awful for the most part and dragged it down a lot. Namely, the main event, which wasn’t bad enough for comedic value, thus leaving it with no upside in my eyes. Thumbs in the middle, leaning up. (I’d go thumbs down myself, outside of the Eddie-RVD opener.) 

Assorted May-Per-View Countdown: ECW Hardcore Heaven 2000

(Almost forgot to check in with ECW again before moving onto 2001.)  The Netcop Rant for ECW Hardcore Heaven 2000 – Live from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. – Your hosts are Joey Styles & Cyrus, although it takes a while for Cyrus to do his customary booting of Joel Gertner from the announce position. (I don’t know why they didn’t just do a three-man team, as it seems like it would be a natural combination.)  As another note, the opening was REALLY bush-league, as Joey and Joel were left hung out to dry by the production team, with nothing to do but stand around after Joel’s schtick, before lamely leaving the ring and heading to the announce position. It’s stuff like this that keeps them from achieving that #2 position they’re always bragging about.  (Sadly for WCW, by 2000 there almost was an argument to be made that ECW was almost the #2 promotion.  Not a GOOD argument, but people have tried.)  – Opening match: Ballz Mahoney v. Masato Tanaka. Ballz gets a ridiculously long intro, running through the entire song. Cyrus finally makes his appearance here, getting Kintaro Kanemura to choke Joel out, which looked pretty bad. Silly hammerlock sequence to start goes nowhere. Both head over the top and they brawl for a bit. Tanaka hits a tornado DDT on the rampway, and we do the duelling chairs. 3 shots to Tanaka gets two. Superkick to the chair gets two for Ballz. Ballz gets a bunch of chairs, but takes a tornado DDT on them for two. That was pretty contrived, but the payoff looked cool. Roaring Elbow misses, and Ballz hits a Michinoku driver for two. Diamonddust gets two for Tanaka. Nutcracker Suite on the chair pile gets two. Geez, that hurts. Legdrop misses, and the Roaring Elbow hits for…two. Wow. Flying chairshot from Tanaka nearly kills Ballz, but he stays on his feet. Another Roaring Elbow is enough to finish at 9:13. Surprisingly brutal and solid opener. ***1/4 – Lance Storm gives us a look at the intense Canadian inside him, pointing out that Justin always has backup, including “Scott and Kevin in New York”. I’m personally hoping he heads to the WWF and joins the legions of Canadians currently killing each other for my pleasure and/or delivering funny interviews.  (Well, he did, and it was a pretty huge disappointment on both fronts.)  – Simon Diamond v. Mikey Whipwreck v. Little Guido. Mikey does crazy really well, and the new theme (with the Minister’s laughing mixed in) is pretty cool. Nice triple sequence to start, leading to Simon getting a triple suplex on Guido for two. Mikey & Simon cooperate to chair Guido, giving Simon a two-count. The lights then go out, because it wouldn’t be ECW without a bush league production error. So we wrestle in darkness with a spotlight providing the light. The entire Simon entourage gets involved in a trainwreck spot. Back in, Guido gets two on Mikey from that. Simon with a rydien bomb on Guido for two. Mikey superkicks Simon for two, then a Whippersnapper finishes him. Mikey then pulls out the most jaw-dropping finisher I’ve seen in months, starting from a Pedigree position, then hoisting Guido on his shoulders like a backbreaker while still holding the arms, spinning around a few times, and dropping him back to the mat, completing the Pedigree. Just awesome. The bad part of it is that it only gets two. (That’s ECW in a nutshell for you.)  Weak ending follows as Sal interferes, takes a fireball from Mikey, and Guido hits the tomikaze on Mikey for the pin at 7:07. Good fast-paced action for the most part, although the ending was bad. **1/2 – Justin-UH Credible-UH does-UH his-UH best-UH Triple-H-UH interview-UH to show us how intense he is. – Kid Kash v. CW Anderson. Bunch of stuff with Jazz happens at the beginning, but since I don’t care about Jazz we’ll skip over that. Highlight is Elektra being stripped down to nothing but a piece of string. Kash hits a tope on both members of the Dangerous Alliance and we’re underway. Paul Heyman would be NUTS not to get Bobby Eaton for this angle YESTERDAY. (“Lou E. Dangerously” was a spot-on impersonation, but the angle itself had no legs.)  Kash gets a rana and dropkick, and CW bails. Back in, CW counters a rana with a powerbomb. CW tosses Kash and Billy dishes out some abuse. Kash gets a nice springboard bodyblock for two. Moonsaultpress is stopped by Anderson and reversed to an interted suplex for two. Powerslam for two. Blind charge misses and the Alliance interference backfires. CW still gets a superkick for two, but Kash finishes him with a botched top-rope rana at 6:00 Too much Kash and not enough CW, but it was still a decent little match. ** (I never got the love for CW Anderson at all.  He didn’t have a good look, he was a middling worker, and he couldn’t talk.)  – RVD is ready, and oh yeah, HE TRUSTS SCOTTY ANTON COMPLETELY. Oh man, as if we couldn’t all see this coming from 10 miles away as it is…  (Anton was e-mailing me around this time, bragging about his new ECW contract and how he bought a new computer with all the money he was making.  Those e-mails didn’t last particularly long.)  – The Baldies v. Danny Doring & Roadkill v. Nova & Chris Chetti. (Is it me or is this starting to feel like an indy show?  Paul was really hurting for major-league talent at this point.)  Big brawl to start. DeVito gets tossed off the ramp and hits the railing, then Nova & Chetti double-team him back in the ring, using moves that were 100% invented by Nova and thus anyone else anywhere in the wrestling world using any of them must mean that they’re DIRTY, DIRTY THIEVES. So all you people doing punches (or as Nova calls them, “Spider-Splats”) beware, because Nova has LAWYERS and he’s not afraid to use them. Swanton bomb (also invented by Nova and not that talentless hack Jeff Hardy, even though Joey calls it by the name that Jeff Hardy came up with…but Nova still invented it, make no mistake, because Nova never lies about that sort of thing) gets two. Chetti blows a springboard kick and gets slammed by Roadkill. Baldies chokeslam Roadkill on a pair of chairs, then Grimes runs in. Guitarshot from Angel eliminates Doring & Roadkill. Roadkill retaliates by splashing Grimes through a table on the outside. Back in, Nova catches DeVito with a Diamond Cutter out of the corner and the Tidal Wave finishes at 6:40. Just a bunch of spots (all of which are copyrighted by Nova, because he invented them all) and mindless violence, although I suppose some are into that sort of thing. *1/2  (For those who weren’t around 12 years ago, Nova threw a snit because someone stole his Kryptonite Krunch finisher, and I don’t even remember who had done so now.  Basically it was a tantrum very out of proportion to the “crime”, especially when Nova stole the move from Japan in the first place.)  – And it wouldn’t be a Baldies match without New Jack to run in and do his usual, and I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you: Weapons shots, balcony dive, and back to the ring to pin Angel. Whatever. – Steve Corino v. Yoshihiro Tajiri. (Which push in 2000 was more insufferable:  Corino or Credible?)  Tajiri chops away to start, but takes an enzuigiri. Powerbomb gets two. Tajiri gets the Tarantula, and they both end up on the rampway, where Tajiri hits a brainbuster on the ramp. Corino rolls to the floor and does his contractually mandated bladejob for the night. Into the Tree of Woe, a baseball slide from Tajiri actually SPATTERS BLOOD ONTO THE CAMERA. Gotta like that. Attempt #2 is thwarted by Victory, and Corino superkicks Tajiri for a one-count. Oh, and I would be remiss in not mentioning that Corino’s hair is dyed red by the blood. Corino bails and Tajiri sets up a table in the ring. He then dropkicks the edge of it, into the Two Stooges on the outside. Nice spot. Corino backdrops Tajiri back into the ring, through the table, for two. Fisherman’s suplex gets two. Northern lights suplex gets two. He sets up a new table, and Tajiri bails after a dropkick to load up the mist. Back in, they trade abdominal stretches, and Tajiri sprays Victory with the mist. Corino gets a powerslam for two. Tajiri goes insane with a series of kicks, knocking Corino silly. Double-stomp through the table finishes at 10:23. Good match! ***1/4  (Pretty much interchangeable with everything else at this point, though.)  – World TV title match: Rhino v. Sandman. Did Paul Heyman download “Enter Sandman” off Napster? (Hindsight now says “Yes, very likely he did.”)  Big staredown to start, then Rhino stomps him down. They brawl to the floor, and that goes on for quite a bit with not much happening. Onto the ramp, where Rhino charges and spears a table. Back in, Sandman gets a couple of piledrivers, and the cavalry runs in. Lori Fullington follows, and she gets into a tussle with Victory and Corino, spunky lady that she is. So Rhino piledrives her through a table from the apron, as any reasonable person would do. Now was that REALLY necessary? Sandman canes everyone, but as usual gets speared through a table and pinned at 6:23. I can see why were spared this one for so long. DUD  (And hey, there’s more Corino on the show!)  – Rob Van Dam v. Jerry Lynn. Pointless wrestling sequence to start. More reversing that looks pretty follows, to establish that they know each other really well and stuff. RVD hits a spinkick and cartwheel splash for two. RVD bails after getting nailed from behind and Lynn hits a somersault plancha. They do the railing dropkick spot, and Rob legdrops a chair onto Lynn’s head. Ouch. More brawling, and RVD misses a moonsault off the railing and splats on the hardwood floor. Double ouch. It gets two for Lynn back in the ring. Front suplex and guillotine legdrop gets two. Vicious swinging DDT gets two. Tornado DDT is blocked, and Fonzie deposits a chair. RVD legsweep misses and Lynn legdrops him on the chair. RVD comes back with a heel kick and rolling senton, for two. RVD does some flips and gets another chair, hitting a sloppy dropkick thing with it. Lynn reverses a top rope whatever into a powerbomb on the chair for two. Lynn with a superplex for two. Outside, where Lynn sets up a table and bulldogs Rob through it in a bad-looking spot. Anton steps in and gets taken out by Lynn. Back in, Fonzie assists with the VanDaminator, and ***** frog splash looks to finish…but the Network runs in again. Geez, two straight matches? (And it’s not like the Steve Corino Show was burning up the ratings or ticket sales or anything, either, which makes his overpush all the more mystifying.)  Corino & Victory get beaten back, but Rhino spears and powerbombs RVD. Rob fights back and takes out Cyrus with the VanDaminator. One for Lynn as well, and when Rob goes to the top…Anton turns on him. Geez, now THERE’S a huge shock. Didn’t see THAT one coming at all. A pair of cradle piledrivers gets the pin for Lynn, FINALLY, at 19:50. Not that it means much with all the overbooking, but it’s nice to see. (Just call him Rob Van Hogan!  I kid.)  The match itself was better than the famous series last year because Lynn carried the pacing and sequences this time around and sold like a mofo, but Rob’s ridiculous flippy-floppy offense continues to drive me insane. (I would say, and people will probably freak about this, that RVD is one of the rare cases where getting reined in by the WWE Main Event Style system actually helped him improve as a worker by quite a lot.  It didn’t help him become a bigger STAR, mind you, but by the time we got to 2006 he was more than equipped to carry his end of a match against John Cena.)  Still, a good outing that makes the fanboys happy and at least kept me entertained for 20 minutes. ***1/2 – ECW World title match: Justin Credible v. Lance Storm. Tommy Dreamer bows out for reasons too dumb to get into here. (I hate when 2000 Scott does that sort of thing, because I don’t remember and Wikipedia just says “injuries”.)  Slugfest to start. Storm tries a pescado but takes a cane to the head. Brawl on the floor. Back in, they exchange chops. Justin powerbombs Storm for two as the fans want Dreamer. Chinlock follows. More chops. This match is dying a slow and painful death. But mainly slow. Another chinlock. Storm breaks out and gets a rana, but Credible has a superkick for two. Drop toehold on the chair gets two. Flying bodypress is reversed for two. Abdominal stretch leads to a hiptoss through the table for Justin. Back in, and Dawn & Francine have a catfight. Storm canes Justin and piledrives him for two. Storm tries a tombstone, which is reversed to That’s Incredible for two. Swinging DDT gets two, and by the way, the crowd is totally SILENT for most of the match. I mean, you can literally hear a pin drop. Storm slingshot is countered for two. Storm goes to the top and gets caught and piledriven for the pin at 12:28, which is a way lame and boring ending to a way lame and boring match. *1/2 Okay, get the title off the jellyfish NOW. It was cute to see him with the belt once, but he is NOT anywhere near ready to be main eventing, no matter how much Heyman loves him. Swallow your pride, Paul, and give Raven the strap until RVD is ready for it, because he’s all you’ve got left right now.  (Nope, instead we went Credible – Lynn – Corino – Sandman – Rhino, an even more annoying series of changes.)  The Bottom Line: Since we’ve pretty much established now that long-term plans are out the window due to talent raids and injuries, I guess the only real criteria left for ECW’s shows are entertainment value and workrate. And this certainly had both, despite some notable dogs, which makes for a marginal thumbs up.  (Yeah, reading this show makes me think I’d be fine sitting through it again, especially since I don’t remember any of it.  I wish they’d put some of the Tajiri-Mikey stuff on DVD because it was a very underappreciated subgenre in ECW.)  But as for “The #2 promotion”, well, keep dreaming.  (To quote Van Halen, dream another dream, this dream is over.) 

Assorted May-Per-View Countdown: WWF Judgment Day 2001

The SmarK Rant for WWF Judgment Day 2001 Would have had this done earlier on Monday, but it was the Simpsons season finale and I HAVE PRIORITIES, DAMMIT.  (Man, back in the days before I could just DVR everything and move on with my life.)  Live from Sacra-mental, California. Your hosts are JR & Paul E. Opening match: William Regal v. Rikishi. Rikishi seems to be slipping into the Godfather’s old opening match slot as “lovable comedy figure to pop the crowd”, and if that works for them, so be it. (Now occupied by Brodus Clay.)  Slugfest, won by Rikishi and he gets a clothesline. Regal bails to the corner, and blocks an attempted Stinkface with a ballshot and hammers away. Sunset flip and Rikishi misses a buttdrop in retaliation. Regal gets the double-knee for two. Rikishi comes back with a legdrop and CHEEKS OF FIRE, setting up the Super-Mega-Extendo-Stinkface of DOOM. Regal escapes and gives us the best facial expression I’ve ever seen to fully express his disgust. (Really, Regal taking a Stinkface from Rikishi is such a natural pairing that I’m shocked no one thought of doing it sooner.)  Back in, Rikishi gets the superkick, but a blind charge misses and Regal finishes with his neckbreaker thingie at 3:56. This served the purpose intended. *1/2 (Rikishi sure fell hard and fast after his attempt to murder Austin.)  Kurt Angle v. Chris Benoit. (This was a three falls match, with one pinfall, one submission and one ladder match fall.  Weird concept to be sure.)  Angle attacks to start, and stomps away in the corner. Angle uses Benoit’s rolling germans and tries the flying headbutt, but misses and Benoit finishes him with the Angle Slam at 1:04 to win the first fall. (Although Benoit didn’t use the Angle Slam much after this, Angle of course worked the rolling germans into his regular moveset from then on.)  He grabs the crossface right away and Angle bails. They brawl outside and Angle eats stairs. Angle hits the post, but ducks a chop and sends Benoit nut-first to the post, drawing groans of sympathy from the crowd. (Not so much now.)  Paul quips that he’s “not sure what sort of submission move you’d follow that up with”. More brawling, dominated by Angle. Back in, Benoit evades the Anglelock, but Angle goes back to it. Benoit counters to the crossface, but Angle makes the ropes and runs. Angle gets a cheapshot, but Benoit hammers him. Angle beats him down again, however. A suplex is followed by a belly-to-belly (called quite obviously by Angle), but a second try is countered to the crossface. Angle makes the ropes again. Benoit hits a clothesline, but Angle goes to the ankle again. Angle tries some chops and a rollup (?), but Benoit suplexes him out of his boots ala Dynamite Kid. Angle hotshots him to catch a break, and puts a vicious reverse indian deathlock on. Benoit comes back and gets his own Walls of Jericho, drawing a monster pop. (Benoit was doing that move in Japan before Jericho borrowed it, too.)  Angle bails to the ropes again. Benoit tries a figure-four, Angle escapes. Benoit works on the knee in classic Flairish fashion, and Angle keeps going to the ropes, causing Ross to comment that he’s going steady with them. Angle finally dumps Benoit in desperation and they brawl on the floor. Back in, Benoit wins a slugfest and DDTs Angle, but takes the Angle Slam and the anklelock finishes at 13:27 to even it at one fall apiece. Ladder fall begins as they fight on the floor and Benoit posts Angle, but gets sent to the stairs. Angle grabs a ladder from under the ring and climbs for the medals, but the ladder is too short and Benoit pushes him over. Benoit grabs the “official” ladder and climbs, but Angle dumps him off. Suplex follows and Angle batters him with the ladder. He charges and Benoit backdrops him over the top to the floor, then grabs the ladder back and returns the abuse with the ladder. He heads back in to climb, but Angle lowblows him to stop it. He puts the ladder in the corner and rams Benoit into it, but Benoit catapults him into it. CANADIAN VIOLENCE! Angle climbs the ladder in the corner to stop the momentum of a whip into said corner, but Benoit dumps the ladder back onto him. That was SUCH a cool spot. Vicious german suplex misses the ladder by about 4 inches, but Angle pops up with a clothesline and whips Benoit into the ladder. He suplexes Benoit onto the ladder. Ouch. Benoit quickly comes back and see-saws the ladder into Angle’s jaw, and then hits him in the head with it for good measure. Benoit climbs with Angle under the ladder, but Angle pushes off and topples the ladder. They lifted that one from Shawn-Razor, but it’s forgivable. Benoit snaps off a crossface, meaning nothing, as Edge & Christian do the “run-in” and distract Benoit long enough for Angle to climb and regain the medals at 24:00. I didn’t like the screwy finish at all, but it’s fine as long as you book Edge & Christian’s later match that way it was booked. The rest of the match was par excellence and was given more than enough time to shine without feeling forced like the Iron Man match. ****1/4 Meanwhile, Jerry Lynn is so bitter and upset that he gives us a goofy death metal grunt to express the totality of his frustration. Oh lord…  (Totally forgot about Jerry Lynn’s brief goofy stint in WWE.  Maybe if they had let him have some matches with X-Pac like the old days, they could have gotten over together again.)  Hardcore title: Rhyno v. Big Slow v. Test. Rhyno & Test double-team Slow, but he dumps both guys and they all brawl. Slow dumps Test into the crowd and they head into the teeming millions, and into the back. Standard RAW hardcore stuff follows as they wander around and then head back to the arena. Test & Rhyno end up alone, oblivious to the fate of the Big Slow. Rhyno loads up the arsenal and DDTs Test on a trashcan lid for two. Slow lumbers back and chokeslams Rhyno, but gets booted by Test for two. Rhyno backs up and it’s ALGORE! ALGORE! ALGORE for Big Slow, but Test nails him for two. Test fire extinguishes Slow for two, but Rhyno dumps him, and ALGORE finishes at 9:13 to retain. Well, it’s better than Test & Show would’ve been, I suppose, but it was mostly the usual here. **  (I see I was still tweaking ways to make fun of Rhyno’s finisher.)  Women’s title match: Chyna v. Lita. Chyna is dressing like a Vegas drag queen tonight, complete with bizarre peacock head ornament. (Yeah she was spiralling pretty fast and if this wasn’t her last match in the promotion it was pretty close.)  Hug to start draws boos. Chyna overpowers Lita, but gets sunset flipped for two. Chyna cradles her for two off of a handshake, a distinctly Eddy-ish move. Chyna does some kicking and hits a clothesline. Another one gets two. Lita gets a DDT and does some phantom punches. Jesus, someone teach her to punch. Lita gets a flying clothesline for two, and she works the arm, loosing the SILICON FUNBAGS OF DEATH from their flimsy holders, drawing big heat from the horny males in the crowd. Chyna gets a neckbreaker and a powerslam for two. Gorilla Press gets two, but she picks her up. Lita does something resembling a cross armbreaker, but Chyna casually counters with a headscissors. Poochiebomb is reversed into a rana that’s uglier than Chyna, but another Poochiebomb gets the duke at 6:30. I really don’t get that finish. (It was “You won’t job to Lita?  Fine, you can win, but then you’re fired.”)  Match wasn’t good or anything, but at least they’re out of the negative stars. ½* Intercontinental title match: HHH v. Kane. HHH attacks with the chain and goes after the arm. He wraps it around the post and introduces it to the stairs, then adds some damage with a chair. Into the ring, HHH attaches the chain to begin the match proper. Kane slugs away and uses the chair, but it goes back to the arm. He comes off the top with a chain to the head for two. More armwork. He rams Kane into the stairs a few times and they head back in. Paul & Jim appear to have a running contest to see who can say “Game” and/or “Cerebral Assassin” the most times.  (Just think, this was 2001, BEFORE HHH was totally overpushed and overexposed.)  HHH takes an unexpected chairshot and blades, and Kane comes back. He chokes HHH out with the chain, and they head. Kane pulls out the old Muraco-Steamboat hangman spot, but HHH yanks him off the top rope back in the ring. Back out, Kane slams him on the floor, but they head back in and Kane walks into the facebuster. Pedigree is stopped with a ballshot, and a chain to the head puts HHH down. Kane goes up and gets a flying chain to the head. Chokeslam, but Austin runs in to help and gets tossed. He tries again with a chair, but hits HHH by mistake in another case of wacky heel miscommunication and Kane gets the pin at 12:28 to win the title. Longish and slowish, but it’s Kane, so what can ya do? ** It was better than their Wrestlemania XV anti-classic, that’s for sure.  (This was part of a plan to rebuild the I-C title for the millionth time.  It didn’t work.)  And now… TAG TEAM TURMOIL. I feel like it’s one of the old Coliseum videos where they introduce MIDGET MADNESS or the like. The APA v. The Radicalz. Saturn walks into a spinebuster at 1:31 to give the APA the first win. Well, that was brisk. DUD The APA v. The Dudley Boyz. (That probably could have been a bigger feud than it was.  Seems like they’d have good chemistry together.)  APA double-teams D-Von and a Faarooq powerslam gets two. The Dudz pound on Faarooq, but Buh Buh gets double-teamed for two. Buh Buh catches Bradshaw with a sideslam for two, and Bradshaw is your face-in-peril. D-Von legsweep gets two. Bradshaw fights back with a fallaway slam and big boot for two. Pier-six, Bradshaw takes the Dudley Device. Whazzup for Faarooq, tables are gotten. The Hollies run in and Hardcore whiplashes D-Von into his own table (OH! The harsh mistress that is irony…) and the Clothesline From Heck finishes Buh Buh at 4:56. Standard stuff here. ¾* The APA v. X-Factor. X-Pac SHAVED! Truly this is a new era. He gets Faarooq with a spinkick, but gets powerslammed for two. Bradshaw comes in with a suplex as JR notes the shaveitude “for those who might be keeping score at home”. Hey, that’s ME. Justin comes in and gets tossed, but Albert nails Bradshaw like the BIG BALD MONSTER he is. Back in, Bradshaw manages a powerslam, hot tag to the man with too many vowels in his name. Legdrop gets two. X-Pac beats him down, but gets powerslammed for two. Albert trips Bradshaw up and X-Pac gets the pin at 3:43. ¾* X-Factor v. The Hardy Boyz. I’m still in shock over the shave. (Hopefully he shaved for the sex tape.)  Big brawl to start, Hardyz double-team Justin. X-Pac pulls Jeff out and X-Factor posts him to take over. X-Pac hits the broncobuster as they’re apparently trying to re-establish that move. Jeff comes back with a double-dropkick, hot tag Matt. Yodelling legdrop, and they dump Justin. Poetry in Motion, and swanton gets two. Albert makes the save, and X-Factor finishes with a superkick at 3:13. RAW match. *  (What the f--- is with the X-Factor super-push here?)  X-Factor v. The Canadian Violence Connection. (Why did Benoit have to do a 25:00 match with Angle, and then work this as well?  They just bought WCW!  You’d think they’d have TONS of warm bodies to throw in there and fill the show!)   Note to the WWF: You can have that one gratis. Big brawl as Jericho & Benoit destroy X-Factor. Jericho dives onto Albert, but gets posted. And dropped on the railing. X-Pac works Benoit over with chops, and Justin gets an Aldobomb for two. He HITS THE CHINLOCK. Benoit sunset flip gets two, but he remains in enemy territory. X-Pac gets a flipping lariat, but the broncobuster misses. Hot tag Y2J. He nails everything that moves and gives X-Pac a missile dropkick for two. Ref bumped, X-Factor gets the double-superkick, and a new ref counts two. Justin gets catapulted into X-Pac, the CVC suplexes everyone and dumps Albert, and simultaneous submissions end X-Factor’s night at 5:15. Another good RAW match. ** Benoit & Jericho v. Edge & Christian. Winner is YOUR #1 contender. It’s MASS CANADIAN VIOLENCE to start. Jericho suplexes Edge, but he gets hotshotted and Edge stomps him. Christian hammers him for two. Edge dropkick gets two, Edge hits the chinlock. Kneelift, but Jericho fights back against Christian. Christian gets the backbreaker thingie for two. Edge misses a dropkick, Jericho misses the Lionsault. Christian misses Poetry in Motion, hot tag Benoit. Snap suplex for Christian and he dumps Edge. German suplex on Christian gets two, but Edge gets the Edge-O-Matic. Pier-six and E&C go for a double superplex, but Jericho stops it. Benoit dropkicks Christian off of Jericho’s shoulders for two. Edge DDTs Benoit as Jericho posts himself on blind charge. Conchairto is stopped by a double baseball slide, and the CVC try their own and miss. Edge & Christian try the real thing again, but Christian gets caught with a crossface and taps at 7:15. Good stuff. *** WWF title match: Steve Austin v. The Undertaker. They brawl up at the entranceway and back to ringside, where Austin meets the stairs. UT does a railing walk and into the ring, but Austin runs again. They fight out to the entrance again. Into the ring, Austin goes after the leg. Neckbreaker, and Austin works the knee. UT gets the flying clothesline, Stunner is blocked with a big boot for two. Brawl outside AGAIN, Austin gets posted. Back in, Austin wraps the knee around the post a few times. More brawling, Austin clips him on the floor. Back in, back to the knee, and those portions of the knee pertaining to the crotch. Austin grabs a legbar and lays around. UT escapes and they brawl out with Austin taking a TRIP ALL THE WAY BY GAWD TO HELL via the announce table and AS GOD IS MY WITNESS HE’S BROKEN IN HALF! Okay, so JR wasn’t quite that amped up, but you know he was prepping it. Back in, UT gets two. The camera shows a tiny nick in Austin’s back to underscore the severity of the injury from the table. UT drops an elbow for two. UT should start using the heart punch again, just so I can hear JR sell the psychology of why it doesn’t work against Austin, due to him being heartless and all. (Didn’t he start working it into some of his matches in later years, or am I crazy?)  Austin bails and weakly nails him with a TV monitor. He pulls a turnbuckle pad off as UT blades. More brawling. Back in, slugfest and THESZ PRESS, THESZ PRESS, THESZ PRESS, BY GAWD. Crowd boos and Austin is all Hollywood Blonds as he smirks. I miss the days when Austin & Pillman used guerrilla warfare on WCW brass to get over by any means necessary. (Zack Ryder tried that too.  Didn’t work out as well for him.)  Lowblow gets two. Austin stomps away (no mudhole) and grabs a sleeper, but gets suplexed. Austin grabs a chair and KO’s UT. KICK WHAM STUNNER…gets two. Chokeslam to come back, UT uses the chair in excessive fashion. HHH runs in to protest his lack of sportsmanship, and I guess he wanted to make sure no one would steal his sledgehammer or something because we all know how close he is to it. Austin chairs Vince by mistake and Taker goes for the Last Ride, but the sledge, acting of it’s own volition, nails Undertaker and Austin gets the pin to retain at 22:53. HHH should get that thing checked. UT tried hard, but the gas tank is empty and the overbooking killed it. *** The Bottom Line: I had a lot to say, but this is being written after RAW, so it was all negated in dramatic fashion. The show itself was pretty enjoyable, good enough for a thumbs up but nothing to set the world on fire or anything. RAW on the other hand…wow. My thoughts on that are up on for any interested parties.  (This seemed like a decent show, but it was totally forgettable. Creative was understandably distracted by other things at this point, though.) 

Assorted May-Per-View Countdown: WCW Slamboree 2000

(Yeah, OK, so it’s June now.  But if movie audiences can buy that CHARLIZE THERON would be threatened by the youth and beauty of Kristen Stewart, I’m sure y’all can pretend it’s still May for a while.  That movie was kind of disappointing, by the way.  And speaking of giant disappointments…) The Netcop Rant for WCW Slamboree 2000

“Déjà vu, just a different crapper” Terry Funk, just before the hardcore match.

– Live from Kansas City, Missouri. – Your hosts are Tony, Mark & Scott – The Millionaire’s Club arrives in a bus, which would be fine except that everyone in it already cut promos IN THE ARENA during the pre-game show.  (Perhaps they left and then came back again?)  – Opening match, Cruiserweight title: Chris Candido v. Prince Iaukea. Well, at least we can get the Artist out of the way. (The wrestling business took care of that for us after WCW folded.)  Prince gets a german suplex off a feeling out sequence to start. Candido takes a manly bump to the floor and they brawl. Candido tries a tope but gets caught coming down. Back in for a crappy wrestling sequence. Remember when this belt used to be contended in GOOD matches? Prince ends up on the apron and suplexes Candido to the floor. Back in, Prince hits a horrible powerbomb, but Candido blocks the jumping DDT. Thank god, given the spot-blowing shown here, he’d have killed Candido with that move. (Yeah, I know, there’s lots of mornings I wake up and think “Well, I guess this wasn’t the time that God drops an anvil on me in the middle of the night in retaliation for all the dumb things I’ve said over the years.”)  Candido tries a top rope rana but blows the move, then Prince comes off the top with what was supposed to be a flying rollup, but HE blows the move. The crowd starts chanting “You suck!” at both of them. Man, good thing this wasn’t an ECW show, the crowd would be eating them alive. (Maybe if it was “Free Bath Salts Night” at the arena…hey, is that an anvil I hear?)  Candido goes up again, but gets Samoan dropped off. Catfight erupts just to ensure we don’t get a clean finish, and Tammy hits Prince with a chair by mistake (well, in as much as she was aiming for Paisley) and Candido gets the pin. No, wait, the ref seems to think it’s two, so Candido goes up and hits the swandive headbutt for the redundant pin to retain at 7:58. Whatever. Match would have been decent if any of the spots had hit. *  (I’d call this era the low point of the belt, but I think Daffney ended up with it somewhere in here too plus we had already seen Madusa as champion, so this looks like Flair-Steamboat by comparison.)  – Hardcore title: Terry Funk v. Norman Smiley & Ralphus. Terry supplies us with the quote above, and we’re underway. Funk finds Ralphus in the bathroom and gets jumped by Smiley. Norman actually sheds his ridiculous “screamin’” personality and beats the hell out of Funk, which provides the good moments for the match. Then we swing 180 degrees in the other direction, as Ralphus throws cardboard boxes at Funk and delivers some of the weakest garbage can shots this side of Three Count’s reign. Man, if they had cut the Ralphus stuff out, this would have been a hell of a match. As it is, it’s just hell. Funk gives Norman some stiff shots on the table, then drags Ralphus out to the ring. Ralphus’ tights get yanked down and we’re blessed with the sight of his ass. To quote Scott Hudson: “Where’s standards & practices when you need them?”. Norman makes the save and wipes out Funk with a ladder, then Wiggles. Funk then recognizes the weak link (only took him 10 minutes, too) and pounds on Ralphus with a chair. Norman tries to protect him, and gets rolled up and pinned at 10:22. The Smiley-Funk parts were worth close to ***1/2, while the Funk-Ralphus parts were -**, so we’ll spilt the difference and call it *1/2. It was certainly perversely entertaining, though.  (There was a lot of that during this era.)  – Sean Stasiak v. Curt Hennig. I really hope that Hennig jumps back where he belongs in August and shows Sean the REAL way to do the Perfect gimmick. (Yeah, he did go back, and he was so spun out on coke that he got himself fired and then died.  Maybe he should have stayed away instead.)  Benoit-Hennig, anyone? (Definitely not now.)  Big long stall session to start. Curt seems totally uninspired here, probably because he knows he won’t win another match in WCW. He’s pretty over, though. Brawl outside, back inside where Sean gets a flying lariat and a sleeper. And that kills off a few minutes. The camera pans to the Misfits in the front row…but we can’t see them, because of the camouflage uniforms they’re wearing. Well, maybe if they were planning on invading Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory then the purple, orange and bright green outfits might hide them, but otherwise I’d say it’s time to fire the tailor. Small note: Van Hammer is wearing the orange suit while Lash LeRoux has green. Wouldn’t it make more sense for the red-headed Lash to wear the orange one? GOOD GOD, WHAT IS THIS BORING MATCH DOING TO ME??? Okay, shake it off, Scott. Hennig makes the comeback with some chops, but makes his usual fatal error: Slapping him around in the corner. And indeed, as anyone who’s watched more than, oh, two Hennig matches knows, the best way to beat him is to slingshot him into the ringpost, because he NEVER gets up from that. And indeed, Hennig is knocked silly and his very own Hennigplex puts the finishing touches on him at 7:53. Oh, Irony, what a cruel mistress are thee. Enjoy job-duty for the next three months, Curt. ¼*  (That’s pretty much how it went, in fact.)  – US title match: Scott Steiner v. Hugh G. Rection. Yes, Vince Russo has found a way to work his first naughty pun into a wrestler name, as TAFKA Hugh Morrus announces his “real name” before the match. And you all thought “Uranus” would be the first candidate for that sort of joke. Apparently this has gone from non-title match to title match between the pre-game show and this point, which pretty much gives away the finish. Wrestling sequence goes nowhere until Scott jumps on Hugh G. Rection and beats him. While this name is good for people such as myself to utilize, I can’t see Hugh G. Rection rising to the main event this way. Hugh G. Rection comes back with power stuff but the nWHos trips him up and Hugh G. Rection goes limp. Scott flattens Hugh G. Rection with an elbowdrop and a suplex. Scott stalls. And stalls. And argues with ringside fans. Next he goes into the bearhug, squeezing Hugh G. Rection for all he’s worth. Steiner stops and argues with some more fans. More stalling. Hugh G. Rection makes a comeback and rams into Scott in the corner, twice. Scott catches Hugh with a lariat on the third try. He tries a tombstone, but Hugh G. Rection is too heavy and causes Steiner to fall backwards, and Hugh hits a K-Driller (OwenDriver ’97, Austin-Killer, whatever) and goes for the moonsault. Hugh G. Rection goes up, but the hos come in and fiddle with Hugh G. Rection, and he misses his mark. Scott hooks the REAR CHINLOCK OF DOOM and pulls back on Hugh G. Rection until the submission at 9:22. Booker pulls Steiner off Hugh G. Rection before permanent damage is done. * Remember kids: DICK JOKES ARE NOT A TOY! Only professionals should be using them.  (Eh, I work with what I’m given.  I regret not mentioning how jacked up that Hugh G. Rection looked, or that Steiner was whacking Hugh G. Rection in the corner.)  – Mike Awesome v. Kanyon. (The dead wrestler count is starting to get depressing again.)  Slugfest to start and Kanyon hits the floor. Awesome follows with the tope con hilo. Kanyon rams him to the post, then follows with a somersault off the apron. Nice. Back in, Awesome gets the flying lariat and tosses Kanyon, then delivers some sweet chairshots and they brawl into the crowd. Back in, Awesome hits a slingshot splash for two. He goes up but gets crotched and neckbreakered off the top. Spinning neckbreaker gets two for Kanyon. Bodypress attempt is rolled through for two. Pancake drop gets two. Awesome comes back with a SCARY powerbomb on Kanyon, landing him right on his head. He goes outside to set up the mats and give Chris a chance to recover, then hits a slingshot shoulderblock on the way in. German suplex follows, and they go out to the ramp…and Big Poochie meanders down, followed by all of the New Blood and Millionaire’s Club for a big double-DQ at 12:10. Oh, man, that was the best match of the night and they RUINED it! *** – Buff Bagwell v. Lex Luger. The Idiots still aren’t sure if the Kronick are the tag champs or not. Hey, here’s a thought: Why doesn’t someone FIND OUT? (They eventually decided that in fact, they were.)  Anyway, this is every Buff-Lex match from 1996 (which sucked then) played back at half-speed. Pose, pose, chinlock, chinlock, and Liz comes out with the foam baseball bat and nails Buff, allowing Lex to get the rack at 9:30 (!) for the submission. Then Lex gets attacked by the New Blood’s secret weapon: Chuck “The New Total Package” Palumbo. Hey, that’d be cool if we hadn’t just seen the same gimmick in the Stasiak-Hennig match. DUD  (And then Buff and Luger started teaming after this as Totally Buff, right?  Or was that before and they did the breakup here?  And does anyone really care anyway?  And I thought there wasn’t supposed to be any more DQs in the New WCW?)  – Shane Douglas v. Ric “I will never do a job for Shane Douglas” Flair. (Talk about stupid f------ internet wank booking.  As if ANYONE watching gave a s--- about seeing Douglas finally get his win over Flair, six years after his ridiculous grandstand challenges in ECW.)  Wrestling sequence to start. They exchange chops, then Flair goes up and gets slammed off. Mark Madden steals my joke about Flair always getting slammed off. Douglas goes to the figure-four and Flair escapes, then hits a ballshot with MUSTARD. Ever see “Hot Shots: Part Deux” where Charlie Sheen hits the Asian brawler so hard that walnuts come out of his mouth? We’re talking that kind of pain here. Brawl to the floor. Back in, Shane pulls his trusty chain out of his boot, and even goes to the trouble of hiding it from the referee. Silly boy, there’s no more DQs in WCW anymore. Unless the storyline calls for them, of course. (Yeah, s--- like that really showed how the wheels were coming off the whole thing, even a month into the big reboot.)  Flair comes back with chops, and another pair of VICIOUS ballshots. Man, his muscle tone may have disappeared, but if you gotta hit a guy in the can so hard that his eyes pop out, there’s still only one man to call for the job. (I wonder if there was some reality injected into those as a receipt for the years of s----talking?)  Flair does some token work on the leg, but Buff and “Sting” come out and nail him with the baseball bat on the figure-four attempt and Douglas gets the pin at 8:56. Way to build up Flair for that title shot next month. (Did that even happen?)  Match was decent. **1/4 Flair decides that “Sting” is obviously Russo, so it’s obviously not. And in fact it’s David Flair, who jumps his father along with Russo and they beat him up. (What a swerve!)  I guess this is the 5-minute “match” because the clock is ticking. Kevin Nash comes out to save Ric, but Daffney jumps *him* and the Three Least Threatening People in Wrestling leave Flair and Nash laying. On the upside, at least Russo is beginning to grasp the whole “heel beatdown” concept. I just wish it wouldn’t have to involve him actually doing the beating down.  (Good thing he didn’t decide to put the World title on himself, HAR HAR HAR!)  – Sting v. Vampiro. Thankfully good taste prevails and Sting just walks out. (I find it hard to believe good taste prevailed on any show featuring Hugh G. Rection’s debut and the main event that we got, but then I was making a bath salts joke earlier so who am I to talk?)  They fight on the ramp to start. Into the ring, Sting hits a missile dropkick, and tosses him out, following with a plancha. He hits a DDT on the floor. Back in, Vampiro rallies with a lariat off the top. He finds a lead pipe and beats down Sting in full view of the referee. Ugh, I really hope we don’t have to put up with this nonsense in every important match from now on.  (As it turned out, we were long past the point of WCW having matches that could be described as “important” anyway.)  We head down the ramp, where Vamp hits a spin kick, then drags Sting back in. That was kinda silly. Vamp tries a top rope rana, but gets powerbombed (in a manner of speaking) off the top. Although Sting dropped to his knees doing the move, so the total impact was about one foot in the air. Two Stinger splashes and two deathdrops finish it at 6:48. I could have lived without the lead pipe. **  (Who did Vampiro blow to get programmed in a top level feud with Sting, anyway?  I’m sure Konnan would immediately say “Bob Barnett”, but I’d like to think I’m above that sort of thing.)  – Billy Kidman v. “Stone Cold” Hulk Hogan. (The flea market feud!  With Hogan’s “FUNB” vest in all its delusional glory.)  “Stone Cold Jr.” Horace Hogan gets tossed by Evil Referee Eric Bischoff before the match. Hogan tries a feeble attempt at a slam, which is reversed by Kidman into a small package for two. He crotches Kidman on the top rope, then grabs a chair and drops Kidman on it. Kidman comes back with a poorly-sold rana and a dropkick, so Hogan bails. Kidman uses Torrie as a shield, allowing him to get a cheapshot on Hogan and take over. They exchange weightlifting belt shots, then Hogan hiptosses Kidman to the floor. Back in, Bischoff won’t count. Kidman dodges Hogan’s elbowdrops, then back to the floor we go. Back in, Hogan hulks up, but Bischoff won’t let him do the legdrop. Hogan decks him, then knocks out everyone with a chair. He finds some tables and sets them up in the ring. Kidman hits him with a chair, getting two. Hulk blades. A second chairshot backfires, and Hogan powerbombs Bischoff through the table. Kidman sets up a fourth table and puts Hogan on top, but misses a splash and goes through it, giving Hogan the pin at 13:31. I don’t really see what this did for Kidman except allow him to bump all over the place for Hogan, but I’m sure some will praise Hogan’s work here. I’d rather see Kidman doing actual wrestling, but you take what you can get, I guess. **  (This is the classic, classic example of the anti-rub, where you put your newer star into a feud with an established guy who is so selfish that the new guy actually ends up LESS over for participating in it.  See also:  H, Triple.)  – Main event, WCW World title, Triple cage: David Arquette v. Jeff Jarrett v. DDP. Arquette is dressed like Elvis. I haven’t seen the movie in question, and the announcers basically assume everyone watching has seen the movie, so the result is less-than-impressive in terms of trying to figure out the concept. (I finally did of course see Ready To Rumble many years later.)  Arquette wisely runs away while Jarrett & DDP do their usual match. Jarrett gets posted on the floor and blades. I guess you have to use a ladder to climb to the second level, because there’s a bunch of them around. One gets set up in the corner and JJ and DDP take turns bumping off that. Arquette wisely stays out of the way. DDP makes it to level 2, Jarrett follows. They fight in the “hardcore cage” and actually break through the cage wall in a scary moment. Someone gets the bright idea of setting up a table on the second level, and after 10 tries to steady it, Jarrett goes through. Arquette finally scurries up to the top level…and stays there. Um, why not just grab the belt, dipshit? Either that or he’s gonna turn on DDP. Probably the latter, just to bug me. Mike Awesome suddenly appears on the second level out of nowhere, but gets Diamond Cut. Just what we needed – a run-in. Page and Jarrett hit each other with a selection of guitars from the third cage, then Page climbs to the top…and Arquette turns on him, of course. Jarrett grabs the belt at 15:20 and celebrates with Arquette. So we’re now back where we were two weeks ago, except the title is now worthless. Great booking. Match was a pretty good brawl otherwise. ***1/2 (WHAT?!  ***1/2 for that f------ piece of s--- David Arquette match with people popping in out of the layers of cage like they’re emerging from hyperdrive or something?!?  F--- off.)  Kanyon suddenly arrives on the second level (what, do they have taxi service up there or something?) and gets tossed off by Awesome through the rampway. Good god, did we HAVE to have someone taking an insane bump in THIS arena? Especially a meaningless one like that?  (Oh yeah, almost forgot about that bump.)  The Bottom Line: It ended up being a decent show despite itself – Russo is a weird mish-mash of interesting ideas while still being his own worst enemy booking-wise. If he’d only admit to his own weaknesses for once and let someone else handle the in-ring stuff, he might be all right. (BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!)  Sadly, WCW is having to go the ECW / WWF ’97-98 route and turning everything into a garbagy brawl because they either don’t have the talent to carry an actual wrestling match or the booker is too stupid to realize that he has actual wrestling talent who might not happen to fit his ideals of what American wrestlers should be. Another thumbs in the middle show, with bad wrestling saved by entertaining brawling, but this is not a strategy that is going to pay off in the long-term or do any favors for young guys like Kidman who don’t need to do this crap in order to get over. (To say the least.  This was the lowest buyrate in WCW’s history, by the way, until the 2001 death shows where only the hardest of hardcores were bothering to order anymore.) 

Assorted May-Per-View Countdown: WWF Judgment Day 2000

The Netcop Rant for WWF Judgment Day 2000 – As a reminder, or cheap plug depending on your point of view, there is also an AUDIO version of this currently available, featuring yours truly doing the spoken word interpretation for you illiterates out there. As a warning, I’ve been told I sound like a “soft rock DJ” by more than one person, but it’s still all good.  (With the switch to Blogger I’ve pretty much given up on my podcasting dreams.)  – Live from Louisville, KY – Your hosts are Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler. – Neat opening bit to start as they list all the things that happen in one hour. Unless I missed it, I don’t think “In one hour Mark Madden eats 750 jelly donuts” was there. – Vince offers the Regime a pep-talk as a way of reminding people of the matches for tonight. This segues into Gerald Brisco going for coffee and thus being forced to defend his Hardcore title all the way there and back throughout the show.  (I feel like Santino would be hilarious in the Crash Holly role today if the Hardcore title was still around.)  – Opening match: Kurt Angle, Edge & Christian v. Too Cool & Rikishi Phatu. For the Benefit of Those with Flash Photography (in Kentucky? Yeah right…), the pose tonight is “The Jug Band”, which in this case comes complete with instruments and silly teeth for Edge. As opposed to his normal-looking teeth? (Oh, man, the glory days of Edge & Christian.)  Kurt Angle has a new “menage-a-flag” pattern on his tights. Pier-six to start. Edge & Grandmaster Sexay start the match proper, with Edge taking an enzuigiri. Missile dropkick follows, and Scotty comes in for the double-team elbow. Scotty & Christian do a wrestling sequence that leads to a Scotty suplex. Funny spot as Sexay lies on the top rope to block a cross-corner whip that would hurt Scotty, but when Edge tries the same thing to protect Christian he gets hung up there. Grandmaster Sexay loses his pants, but manages to tag in Rikishi, who cleans house and gets caught briefly in the heel corner. Scotty comes in, but the Worm is stopped with a cheapshot. Angle controls with a suplex for two. Christian comes in and Scotty gets an over-the-shoulder powerbomb onto the top rope, ala Black Blood. Yeah, I know, 90% of you have no clue what I’m talking about there. (Black Blood was Billy Jack Haynes’ brief flirtation in WCW in 1991, doing a hooded executioner gimmick.)  Rikishi gets the hot tag and hits CHEEKS OF FIRE, then Kurt takes the Stinkyface. He tries the Rikishi Driver to finish, but the champs break it up and double-DDT Rikishi, which is no-sold. Edge spears him, however, and decides to mock the Worm. Big mistake, as Scotty retaliates with his the real Worm. Christian hits Rikishi with the ringbell in the meantime, but Sexay comes off the top with the Hip Hop Drop for the pin at 9:47. Good (and very HOT) opener. ***1/4 – Shawn Michaels cuts a quick promo and utters those words we never thought we’d hear: “Tonight, I’ll do that job”. Okay, so it’s in a different context, but it’s a start.  (Did Jimmy Korderas have to tape up his fists to get him out there to referee?)  – European title match: Eddie Guerrero v. Perry Saturn v. Dean Malenko. Saturn & Malenko hit the Decapitation move quickly, and generally look to be in cahoots. That ends quickly as Saturn turns on Malenko. Saturn pancakes Dean and press-slams Eddie. Guerrero escapes a suplex and lowblows both at once, then hits a rana on Dean, and one on Saturn. Malenko blocks a flying headscissors with a sideslam for two. Eddie gets a tornado DDT on Saturn for two. Dean ligerbombs Eddie for two. Reversal sequence gives Dean the Cloverleaf, but Saturn breaks it up. Eddie and Dean go upstairs, but Saturn drops Eddie on the top, then gets shoved off by Dean. Eddie heads back up and takes a gutbuster from the top. Saturn dumps Dean and splashes Eddie for two. Saturn gives Dean a Cloverleaf of his own, and Eddie breaks it up by using Saturn’s brainbuster on him, then Dean adds to the coolness by putting Saturn in the Rings of Saturn! Eddie breaks that up, and dumps Saturn. Dean suplexes Eddie and splashes him for two. All three are up and we get a triple german suplex, with one person suplexing the other two in the middle of their suplex. Wild. Chyna then trips up Dean, who falls on the LOADED ROSES OF DEATH (loaded with a lead pipe in this case) and Eddie hits an Oklahoma roll for the pin at 7:58. Great match with the right person going over. ***1/2  (Kind of weird that only three months after the Radicalz debut, they were already feuding with each other and going their separate ways.  Should have been able to milk that group for MONTHS.)  – The Big Slow v. Shane McMahon. Shane comes flying at him with the tope con hilo right off the bat, and that proves to be not terribly bright on his part, because the Show catches him and destroys him. Into the ring, where Show literally kicks his ass and looks to finish quickly, but the run-ins start with Bossman and T&A both inflicting some damage. Trish Stratus even contributes a low blow, but gets tossed out of the ring in dramatic fashion. Shane crawls to the entrance and gets tossed into it, bumping all the place. T&A attack, and all three men are able to beat the Show down with various plunder. Bull Buchanan adds to the attack, and Shane drops a speaker on Show’s leg, then breaks a gimmicked cinderblock over his head for the upset pin at 7:13. This was good enough for what it was, with some crazy bumps by Shane. ** I don’t see why yet another McMahon had to go over, though.  (Let it play out and see where it goes…)  – Submission match, Intercontinental title: Chris Benoit v. Chris Jericho. BRING ON CANADIAN VIOLENCE! Slugfest to start. Jericho gets a bulldog and chops away. Jericho goes into a Fujiwara armbar, and they trade tombstone reversals until Benoit hits a shoulderbreaker off it. Benoit hits a diving headbutt onto Jericho’s shoulder and stretches him, thus setting the trend for the match with the shoulder injury. Jericho escapes and tries the Walls of Jericho, but Benoit flips out of it and goes to the apron. Jericho follows with the springboard dropkick and they brawl on the floor. Jericho goes to the stairs as Benoit keeps on the shoulder. Jericho comes back with a kneebreaker on those stairs. Back in the ring, Jericho gets the double-underhook backbreaker and we do some meat-chopping. Jericho’s blind charge misses and he hurts his shoulder further. Benoit rams the shoulder into an exposed turnbuckle twice and works it with an armbar. More chops. Snap suplex and keepdrop to the shoulder follow. A short-arm clothesline leads to a vicious cross-armbreaker (called a “fujiwara armbar” by JR incorrectly). Jericho makes the ropes. Benoit charges and hits the turnbuckle knee-first, and Jericho takes some shots at the injured knee and pulls off the knee-brace, using it as a weapon. Figure-four is attempted and countered, so Jericho dropkicks the knee and Lionsaults him. Jericho then pulls out his own version of the Tarantula! Benoit fights out, and eventually works to the triple suplex, which is then countered into the Walls of Jericho. Benoit escapes by nailing him with the knee brace, then slaps on the Crippler Crossface. Jericho fights out twice, but Benoit subtly moves the arm down to the throat on the third try at it, and Jericho is choked out at 13:27, leaving the title with Benoit, who now looks like even more of a bad-ass with a finisher that can nearly kill people. (Um…yeah.  I’m gonna go be somewhere else now.)  Hella stiff match here, too. ****1/2  (Way too high.  They had much better matches later on.)  – Table match: The Dudley Boyz v. Smoke & Ashes. D-Von beats on Dogg for a while, then it turns into a formulaic tag match wit D-Von as face-in-peril. Nothing of note happens until Buh-Buh gets the hot tag and drops both D-Xers with an atomic bomb and a samoan drop. We head to the floor, where a brawl erupts and Road Dogg puts D-Von through a table with a pumphandle slam for the first “elimination”. Back in the ring, Buh Buh powerbombs X-Pac through a table to even it up. The ref then goes through a table to bump him. 3D on Road Dogg looks to finish, but the ref is of course out. They try to put Tori through, but Gerald Brisco stops them, and X-Pac hits the X-Factor on Buh Buh, through the table, for the win at 10:55. This was exactly as good as I and everyone else thought it would be. ** – Iron Man match, WWF title: The Rock v. HHH. Make or break time, kids. HHH sends the Regime back to the dressing room, because he wants to do this himself. – First fall: Staredown to start. Rock hits the headlock and they fight over that for a while. Rock gets a pair of two-counts of rollups and HHH bails. Back to the headlock. HHH breaks and works the arm. Single-arm DDT gets two. Back to the arm. Rock gets a Rock Bottom out of nowhere at 11 minutes for the pin. 1-0 Rock. – Second fall: They brawl outside. HHH drops Rock on the railing, but charges and hits his knee on the railing. Rock works the knee on the floor, dropping it on the stairs. Back in, Rock kicks at the knee, and applies a figure-four, once which is thankfully 1000% better than the one he busted out on Smackdown. (Rock is awesomely terrible at submission wrestling.  Has the guy managed to get ONE submission move right on a regular basis?)  It gets a few two-counts. HHH reverses and they brawl into the crowd. Back in with 20 minutes gone, HHH drops a pair of elbows for two. He keeps trying for the pin. I *love* that spot, especially in the context of a long match. HHH dumps Rock to the floor, then back in for a Pedigree and the pin to even it up. 1-1 tie. – Third fall: The Rock is still groggy, so HHH small packages him for the pin. 2-1 HHH. Great spot. – Fourth fall: Rock bails to recover and they brawl at the entrance. Back in, Rock tries a spinebuster, but that’s reversed to a facebuster and a piledriver for ANOTHER HHH pin. 3-1 HHH. – Fifth fall: HHH goes up top and gets slammed off, and Rock busts out La Magistral for two. Whoa! Moveset, baby! HHH hits a high knee for two. Sleeper follows. Rock fights out and hits a belly-to-belly, then a botched floatover DDT for the pin. 3-2 HHH. – Sixth fall: Back to the floor for more brawling. HHH grabs a chair and wallops Rock in the ring, drawing a DQ. 3-3 tie. – Seventh fall: Rock is out cold, so HHH calmly pins him. 4-3 HHH, and another great bit of booking there.  (Yup, giving up the fall to make another fall, but one that hurts Rock WAY more than it hurts HHH.)  – Eighth fall: 15 minutes left, so HHH goes to the sleeper again. And it WORKS! 5-3 HHH. Man, what a well-booked match this is, with all sorts of finishes that you don’t see everyday.  (Ugh, that was the start of HHH’s Main Event Sleeper spot.  Even he couldn’t get that one over.)  – Ninth fall: HHH & Shawn get into a fight, allowing Rock to come back. HHH takes a wicked bump over the top onto the cameraman, and they fight on the floor. Back in, HHH gets two. Rock superplexes him for a double-KO spot. He rolls over for two. Back to the floor, Rock slingshots HHH into the ringpost, but gets whipped into the stairs. Over to the announce table, where HHH tries a Rock Bottom of his own, but Rock reverses and Pedigrees HHH! And the table doesn’t break…OUCH! HHH gets counted out. 5-4 HHH. – Tenth fall: 4 minutes to go, the McMahons make their return en masse. Rock takes them all out as they come, People’s Elbow, goodbye. 5-5 tie. – Deciding fall: 2 minutes left, and all of D-X charges the ring and attacks, but the nursery rhyme video plays on the Titan-tron, and the Undertaker returns! The crowd goes apeshit as he chokeslams everything in sight (with Shawn having been bumped onto the floor) as time expires…but Shawn recovers, calls for one last DQ at the bell, and HHH wins the match 6-5 to win the WWF title for a fourth time. Could’ve lived without the finish, but the match was the best old-school WRESTLING MATCH I’ve seen since the 80s. HHH is God. ****3/4  (I have since regretted making that statement.)  The Bottom Line: I freely eat my words…I thought that HHH and Rock didn’t have the stamina, selling or moveset to pull this puppy off, but they did and they did it with mustard on top. 58 minutes of all-out busting ass, including some never-seen moves from them, awesome effort, and the only black mark being a goofy ending that kind of disrupted the flow of the match. Still, this is one of the best pure wrestling shows you’ll ever see, featuring nearly 90 minutes of sheer workrate in the form of the Euro title, the I-C title, and the WWF title. Who says wrestling doesn’t matter? Thumbs way up for one of the best wrestling shows I’ve ever seen.  (That’s pretty strong praise for a show I can’t even remember now, but 2000 was a hell of a year for PPV in the WWF regardless, and this was one of the strongest entries.  Sadly it’s never been released on DVD.) 

Assorted May-Per-View Countdown: ECW Hardcore Heaven 99

(2012 Scott sez:  I’m starting to feel like I’m turning into a WWE DVD documentary, eternally doing retrospectives of my own previous work because there’s not much interesting to work with in the present.  Maybe I should turn one of these over to Steve Lombardi so he can have a talking head segment in them as well.  Nah, that joke would get old by the second 2012 Brooklyn Brawler sez comment.)  (2012 Scott also sez:  HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA F--- YOU NEW YORK RANGERS!  Not that I like the Devils or anything, in fact I’m hoping the Kings sweep them to win their inevitable first Cup, but my Facebook has been kind of swamped with insufferable Rangers fans acting like the Stanley Cup was somehow already gift-wrapped for them.)  The Netcop Rant for ECW Hardcore Heaven 1999 – Well, here in Canada, Viewer’s Choice still hasn’t picked up ECW yet, so we have to settle for a bar viewing as usual. (Today we’d just go to [popular European streaming video site I won’t mention here] and watch it on the computer.  Back then you had to WORK to circumvent the system!)  However, the usual spot to watch it, Area 51 (aka Domain of the Fleas) shut down last month, so Zen the ECW Mark spent the afternoon frantically calling around the city looking for a bar that was a) Showing the PPV and b) Willing to let him tape it. The winner: Jox Sports Bar, which happens to be about a block away from the apartment and is about 100x nicer than Area 51. Calvin, if you’re reading this, sorry, but your bar sucked.  (I have trouble doing justice to the general shittiness of Area 51 in this paragraph.  Picture a bar that’s like someone’s basement, with all the walls painted black, and a single pool table and video game for entertainment.  And apparently the health inspectors get kidnapped and left to die in the janitor’s closet or something.  The s--- we used to go through to watch those f------ terrible ECW PPVs.  That’s life as a wrestling nerd in the 90s.)  Anyway, I made sure to have money in my account (I am constantly astonished at how much disposable income I thought I had in the days when I was splitting rent with a roommate and only working a part time job.  It was like “Well, rent’s paid, cable’s paid, guess I’ll go buy some booze and a million DVDs”.  No wonder I was broke all the time.), because there was no f------ way I was watching this show without booze in my system. (I’m starting to feel that way about RAW.)  Not after last time. So it was all good. And the waitress was cute. Too bad the show sucked. On with the bitching! – Live from Poughkeepsie, New York. – Your host is Jo-Jo, with help from Cyrus (he’s a Virus, you know) at various points. – Chris “Dead Meat” Candido (Poor choice of words there.) and his crack whore come out for the opening interview, and he decides to invite the Dudleys out as his “insurance policy”. Hey, maybe he’ll have a chance in hell now. I think even Paul E. realizes what a lame main event this is. And indeed, here comes Taz RIGHT NOW? Huh? – ECW World title match: Taz v. Chris Candido. Midget wrestling at it’s finest, as Chris taps about a minute in. And there’s your main event, kids. Isn’t Paul E. a f------ genius? He’s the best booker of his generation, you know. DUD (Maybe Paul was booking the Daniel Bryan-Sheamus match at Wrestlemania?) Man, if I had been one of the dumbasses who actually ordered this show based on wanting to see that match, I’d be pissed. But Paul E is a genius who loves his fans, right, so there’ll be something big later, right? – Um, do you think Chris might be going to WCW? Just a guess.  (Spoiler:  Yup.)  – And now the Dudleys are given the mike and allowed to talk. We ran off Sandman, broke Beulah’s neck, ran off Saturn, yap yap yap. (Bubba was always a good talker, but they used to get ENDLESS promo time on these PPVs.)  Ballz Mahoney attacks them, and does pretty well until they double-team him. Spike Dudley comes out to help. Oh, yay, because if there’s one match that HASN’T BEEN F------ BEATEN TO DEATH, it’s Spike Dudley v. The Dudley Boys. So this is the big surprise, eh? Spike Dudley and Ballz Mahoney. Not quite the LOD or TPE. The usual crappy Dudleys v. Spike match follows, with the highlight being Joel Gertner hitting a limp-wristed chairshot on Ballz, followed by his attempt at a fireball (which is basically him throwing matches at Ballz). Ballz retaliates with his own fireball (which misses by a good three feet — Jim Cornette needs to give these guys a lesson in fireball throwing), but turns around and gets 3D’d for the pin. Whee. DUD, DUD, DUD  (You know, the Hogan-Warrior abomination aside, I’ve long been a fan of nitrocellulose in wrestling.  We need a good fireball angle again to liven things up.  Last really great one was Kane v. HHH in 99, actually.)  – We’re less than 20 minutes in and I’m sick of this show already.  (I feel the same way about RAW recently.)  – Super Crazy v. TAKA Michinoku. Blasphemy! Taka is using Sasuke’s music. Taka controls to start, teasing a tope. Crazy hits a swinging DDT and Taka bails. Taka is totally playing heel. Match builds nicely, with Taka missing the springboard tope, then the camera totally misses Crazy’s quebrada. That’s just sloppy camerawork. (The director’s cheque probably bounced.)  Crazy goes to work on Taka’s knee (HEY! What’s that psychology stuff doing in a lucha match?). Taka misses his moonsault and Crazy does the three-step moonsault and gets two. Taka comes back again with the dropkick to the head and the Michinoku Driver, but goes for another one and it gets reversed to a Ligerbomb for the pin. Odd ending, and a disappointing match. **3/4 – Backstage, the Dudleys attend to Joel’s burns, and decide to take out their frustration on a bunch of people backstage. Target #1: Supernova. – Little Guido v. Tajiri. Stall-o-rama to start from Guido. Slow start with Tajiri working on the knee of Guido. Tajiri hits a couple of highspots and the Tarantula. I really like that move. (Yeah, until everyone got tired of it.)  Sweet facefirst bump by Guido as takes a header to the rampway. Guido hits a rockerdropper on the rampway and takes over, however. More decent stuff back in the ring, then Tajiri comes back and they trade some stuff, with Tajiri hitting a brainbuster for the pin. This was pretty good, but neither guy is going anywhere. ***  (Well, sort of.  Tajiri got a pretty good push up the card and ended up in the WWE in a decent role for a person of his stature and Asian-ness.  But mostly yeah.)  – YET ANOTHER Tommy Dreamer video, with “River of Deceit” providing the melodramatic soundtrack. (Again with Mad Season!)  Speaking of deceit, it’s not very nice to hype Shane Douglas in the pre-game show and here if you know full well he’s not showing.  (On the other hand, it’s not very nice of Shane to hype a whole bunch of people for his own show when he knew full well they weren’t showing and/or were showing up in no condition to work.  By the way, if that show was available to download for $5 or even $10, I’d be happy to get all liquored up and bury it for old time’s sake, but $20?!?  Don’t quit your day job, Shane.  And I mean that literally.)  – The Dudleys continue their quest, this time finding and beating Rod Price. I’m sorry, is there a point to this?  (I’d say they should Be A STAR, but now Bubba just comes right out and calls himself Bully Ray, so it’d be lost on him.)  – ECW live event shill. – Lance Storm v. Tommy Dreamer. Storm makes Beulah/Bytch/Dawn Marie/whatever the f--- she’s called now put her panties back on before the match. (Dawn Marie ended up being her permanent name) Stick in the mud. Tommy brings his new T&A source to the ring: Francine. (THAT was quite the wacky mismatch of personalities.  At least Beulah brought SOME level of class to Tommy’s white trash veneer.)  There’s a bunch of toys in the ring. Guess New Jack wasn’t available tonight. Note to Lance: Don’t sunset flip someone holding a garbage can lid. (Sage advice in any circumstance I can think of.)  They end up on the ramp and Lance reverses an airplane spin (A F------ AIRPLANE SPIN? Shoot me now…) into an inverted DDT. Sloppy spot. Really ugly…something…I think it was supposed to be a Russian legsweep…gets two for Storm. I couldn’t even make out who was supposed to be selling it. A railing ends up in the ring, and as per his contract, Dreamer gets crotched on it. We have some satellite problems (“Hello, Mr. Heyman, this is Rob Morgan from USSB…about that cheque you wrote last week…”) and comes back with Tommy taking a hiptoss over the top, onto a conveniently placed table. Back in, and Tommy blades, then hits a chair-assisted Stunner. Brawl outside the ring, and a ladder gets involved, with a couple of dumb spots resulting. Storm takes a DVD through the table, and the overbooking begins. Cyrus runs in, and gets taken out and Broncobustered by Francine, who gets attacked by Dawn Marie, who gets piledrived by Tommy Dreamer, who get nailed with a garbage can by Storm and pinned. Got all that? About on par with the other hardcore stuff in the Big Two, but Storm shouldn’t have to lower himself to doing this crap. **1/2 – We’re a little over an hour in with only two matches left. What’s going on? – Dudleymania continues, as Jack Victory gets beaten.  (That reminds me, Johnny Ace needs to hire someone to be his flagbearer just for fun.)  – Taz threatens the Dudleys. – Joey blabs. – ECW TV title: Rob Van Dam v. Jerry Lynn. (Was this the first match between them?)  Rob gets the monster face pop, and Jerry Lynn is working heel as a result. If Paul E is smart, Lynn goes over for the title and Fonzie turns on RVD and joins him. Mat wrestling to start, like last time. Way too much stalling here. Crowd is totally into RVD. Okay, Paul, PUSH RVD NOW! It doesn’t matter if he sucks, the crowd is eating him up and you need something to jumpstart your sorry little fed right now. (Hey, what’s the worst that can happen if he holds off putting the World title on him?  It’s not like the promotion is gonna fold!)  Another wrestling sequence and more stalling. Lynn gets the first highspot with a plancha. He takes control with a bulldog off the second rope, but RVD and his best friend the chair come back. Lynn blades. More stuff outside. What’s with all the stall tactics here? About half the match has been walking around outside the ring so far. Back in and RVD does his usual stuff. Lynn gets a powerbomb for two. Back outside, more stalling. Lynn tries a rana off the top, through a table, but RVD backdrops Lynn to the floor. More outside stuff and back in for an RVD two count. They tease the spot through the table again. Back in for more stuff, and then RVD ends up going through the table on a powerbomb. A nice sequence with a chair leads to Lynn getting a german suplex for two. Both guys to the top and they badly blow a superplex spot when Lynn slips and falls. Lynn with his own Vandaminator for two. RVD is just totally blown up here, sucking wind like nuts. Must be the pot before the match. Lynn literally carries him through a pinfall reversal sequence. Rob hits the twisty legdrop and five-star frog splash for two. Vandaminator for two, and another frog splash for three. What the hell? Why all the hype for the rematch if Van Dam is just going to go over again? (OK, so it was the second match then.  Given that Rob never lost the TV title and never moved up to the World title, they should have just traded the TV belt a couple of times.)  **1/4 Stylistically, it was a mess, and the stalling killed it for me. – More blabbing from the Dudleys, and now Big Dick returns to ECW, dragging Chris Chetti in to get beaten. What is the point here? – Joey announces that, by the way, Shane is gone from ECW and won’t be at this or any other ECW show in the future.  (Unless he resurrects the corpses of the remaining unemployed ECW guys in 2012 and books a disastrous show with them, but that’s pretty unlikely.)  – Justin Credible v. ??? Aldo runs down his victims, and issues an open challenge. BIG MISTAKE. – Justin Credible v. Sid! Okay, this is easy, right? Chokeslam, powerbomb, everyone goes home happy right? Well, Sid kicks Justin’s ass for a bit, then Jason’s ass, and even Lance Storm’s ass, but powder in the face earns a DQ for Justin. A F------ DISQUALIFICATION? IN ECW? The one redeeming thing about ECW is that you can usually count on a clean pin, and we get a DQ? Screw this s---. DUD (You get the feeling Paul was a bit distracted while doing this show?)  Sabu makes the save for Sid and accidentally puts Sid through a table. Sid powerbombs Jeff Jones. – Okay, we’ve got half an hour left and no more announced matches.  (Much like your standard episode of RAW.)  – Buh Buh Ray Dudley is out to waste more time, slowly going through his usual rant. Is there actually going to be a match or is Buh Buh just going to challenge more fans? Oh, geez, here comes Taz, pardon me while I s--- my pants with excitement. – ECW World title match: Taz v. Buh Buh Ray Dudley. Are you F------ KIDDING ME? *This* is the main event? Please someone tell me that this is a sick practical joke being played by Paul E. They fight into the crowd (where half the arena — and the cameramen!) can’t see anything, and into the back. And they come back. Taz has sliced open an artery along the way. E-C-W! E-C-W! D-Von interjects himself as our little viewing party comes to grips with the fact that THIS is the main event. Hello, Chris Candido, a talented worker and everything, was RIGHT THERE! (I think Candido was injured, too, but yeah, who the f--- would want to watch this as the main event of a PPV?)  BBR methodically sets up two tables in two corners, and the ref gets put through one of them. Pee Wee takes his place. 3D gets two, and of course Buh Buh gets put through a diagonally placed table. Why would ANYONE be so F------ STUPID as to set that table up in a Taz match? You’d think after, what, 3 years of that spot people would learn. Katihajime, tap out, end of show. I am truly in disbelief at this turn of events. –**  (Yeah, honestly this would be like if John Cena was set to main event against, like, Wade Barrett or something, and beat him in a minute to start the show.  Then at the end he defended the title against Titus O’Neil or something.  Keep in mind that 1999 Bubba Dudley was only two years removed from being an opening match comedy heel. )  The Bottom Line: WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?!? Chris Candido jobs in the first match in under a minute, the main event ends up being Taz v. Buh Buh for god’s sake…Justin can’t even lay down for MOTHERFUCKING SID…this is insane. This is crack-induced booking at it’s worst. I mean, I supposed the middle portion was okay, but who cares? How can it possibly justify the…whatever the hell the rest of the show was supposed to be? I also noticed that no mention of the mythical TNN deal was ever made (sure, it’s coming any day now, right), (In September of that year, in fact, for all the good it did them.)  and no mention of the next PPV was made. Bad sign. Bad, bad, sign for ECW. So what’s next? Taz takes on every member of the roster in the same show? Paul E signs the Pope to a one-show deal and jobs him to Justin?  (Oh, the Justin Credible push would get much, MUCH worse before it would get better, 1999 Scott.)  I know I’ve predicted ECW’s imminent downfall before, but the smell of death is on this promotion. I felt it with SMW, and I feel it now. You might want to watch ECW TV while you can, because if this show is any indication, it won’t be around much longer.  (About a year and a half, to be somewhat exact.)  Thumbs way down.

Assorted May-Per-View Countdown: WCW Slamboree 99

(No mean-spirited trick post this time around, fear not.  I only like to screw with my audience’s heads once or twice a year at most.)  What if they gave a PPV and nobody cared? The Netcop Rant for WCW Slamboree 1999 – Live from St. Louis, Missouri. – Your hosts are Tony, Bobby and Mike. – Okay, those not aware of my patented rating system, I’ll be using the Hot Poker Up the Ass system to rate the matches tonight.  In a nutshell, for bad things that happen, I shove imaginary flaming pokers up Tony Schiavone’s ass , and for good things, I cool him off by shoving cool, refreshing bottles of Surge(tm) up his ass.  In order to prevent permanent scarring to poor Tony’s tender areas, we’ll limit ourselves to 10 pokers and bottles of Surge(tm) either way. – Opening match, WCW World tag team titles:  Kidman & Rey Mysterio v. The Vanilla Midgets v. The Flock 2.0.  STUPID, STUPID, STUPID!  You don’t start out the show with the only match that is guaranteed not to suck.  (Well, another theory would say you do open the show with it because it’s a hot start to the show.)  Big mistake, I’m predicting it right now, because you can only go downhill from here.  (You can say that about a lot of WCW things in general.)  Anyway, Horsemen get a big heel pop, Flock gets a big face pop, and the champs are somewhere in between.  Saturn, Kidman, and Malenko start out, with Saturn and Kidman double-teaming Malenko. Kidman does the over-the-top bump from the belly-to-belly early.  Great double-team german suplex from the Horsemen.  Why is Rey dressed like a Godwinn?  Horsemen are drawing mad heel heat.  Beautiful sequence as Malenko alley-oops Rey to the top rope, and he comes back with a moonsault.  Just gorgeous.  Everyone fights to the floor, leaving Benoit against Raven.  Horsemen seem to be controlling the flow here, stomping everyone into oblivion at one point and tossing the fallen team members to the floor with regularity.  Big highspot crashup leaves everyone fighting on the floor.  Benoit and Saturn are left in the ring by default and Benoit takes advantage with the ROLLING GERMAN SUPLEX~! Malenko must be in a bad mood today or something, he’s spitting on the faces a lot.  OH MY GOD…Malenko actually powerbombs Kidman without it getting reversed!  This is a historic day!  Dragon suplex from Benoit gets two on Kidman.  I’m impressed at Tony actually calling the match. (I’m less impressed with 1999 Scott for NOT calling the match.)  Raven gets a hot tag and does his rolling vertical suplex~ on Benoit. It’s cooler when Benoit does it.  (Less cool once we realized what damage it was doing to him.)  A true pier-six brawl with everyone doing big moves on everyone else.  Kidman and Rey do the alley-oop rana on Benoit, but when they try it on Saturn he reverses to a superbomb. Kidman goes for the shooting star press, but Kanyon comes out of the audience and pushes him off the top, into an Evenflow DDT for the pin. Malenko had Saturn in the Texas Cloverleaf at the time, but I guess Saturn didn’t give up.  The Flock 2.0 is the new champions, which is the right booking decision.  (Yeah, until Kanyon turned on them for that Jersey Triad b-------.)  We’ll give Tony 8 bottles of Surge(tm), which should give him some leeway for the crap ahead.  Too much brawling for my tastes, but I’d give it **** easy.  (I don’t see how this couldn’t have ruled.)  – DDP video package. – Gonnad v. Stevie Ray.  An automatic 2 hot pokers for anything involving Gonnad (see Starrcade 98 for the precedent).  (Yeah, I wasn’t a big Konnan fan…well…ever, really.)  We play the CRZ version of the Catchphrases of Doom (basically it involves yelling “you suck” at the TV).  We run through the 3 moves of insufficient doom very early, but Vincent interference gives Stevie Ray the advantage.  Stevie Ray is the only guy in wrestling who has a lazy CHINLOCK for christ’s sake.  I mean, the whole idea of a resthold is that it requires zero effort, but Stevie can’t EVEN DO THAT RIGHT!  (Oddly enough, his color commentary was entertaining in a twisted way, whereas his brother got all the wrestling talent and can’t do coherent commentary to save his life.  That’s some odd DNA.)  Stevie comes off the second rope and Gonnad puts his foot in the air, in the general vicinity of where Ray’s head would be, but no contact is ever made.  Stevie sells anyway.  nWo interferes freely, and Rey Jr. tries to even the odds, so Stevie Ray is nice enough to slowly put Gonnad into the Slapjack and wait for Rey to come off the top rope and allow Gonnad to get the cradle for the pin.  We’ll add another 3 hot pokers for the match, and a bottle of Surge(tm) for at least keeping it short. – Kevin Nash video package. – Sting video package. – DDP meets Bam Bam Bigelow backstage and they have a male bonding moment.  (That ended up being the start of a bad storyline.  They had such a hot series of feuds going over the tag titles, and then the DDP/Bigelow/Kanyon team sucked the life out of the division for good.)  – Brian Knobs v. Bam Bam Bigelow.  The usual international objects line the ring.  Knobs is usual no-selling shitty self.  They fight outside the ring.  I think someone is severely overestimating the Nasty Boys’ worth on the cosmic scale for Knobs to get a job.  (Or severely underestimating Hogan’s influence.)  See, he’s a heel because he yells “Nasty!” every couple of minutes, I guess.  Knobs sells like the Rock — Starts at 100%, takes a bump, shakes his head for a minute, then is back to 100%.  (You shut your filthy whore mouth, 1999 Scott!)  Pretty boring hardcore match, too.  They fight to the back, where a conveniently placed souvenir stand awaits. Knobs pulls back the Wizard of Oz’ magic curtain, revealing a huge section of empty seats.  That’s a no-no, Brian. (Obviously 7000 fans were running to the payphones to call their friends and tell them to tune into the PPV mid-show.)  Knobs hits a version of the Nastie’s patented Shitty Elbow off the balcony to a table below, but Bigelow just no-sells, suplexes Knobs through said table, and gets the pin.  2 hot pokers for Knobs’ involvement.  (So let’s give Brian Knobs a BIGGER push!)  – World TV title match:  Booker T v. Rick Steiner.  Booker gets a rather anemic pop.  Steiner controls with shoulderblocks to start, but Booker comes back with his spinning kicks.  Steiner won’t sell Booker’s stuff for some reason.  (Because he was a grumpy shithead after the team split up?)  Steiner controls with some slow suplexes.  Really dull stuff here.  Steiner is just punching, choking and resting.  Crowd has absolutely no interest in this match.  Booker comes back with the axe-kick and spinebuster.  Missile dropkick, but Scott Steiner runs in and allows Rick a Steinerline for two.  Booker whips Rick into Scott for two.  Scott trips Booker and Rick Steiner gets the neckbreaking bulldog for the pin and TV title.  Oh, f--- you, WCW.  5 hot pokers for putting the TV on Rick Steiner and making a royal fuckup of Booker’s TV title reign.  (Luckily Booker would keep rising up the card, although Steiner would also continue failing up the card.  I kind forgot what my point was supposed to be.)  – Charles Robinson v. Gorgeous George.  Robinson’s robe and haircut is too funny, as he looks like a dead ringer for Flair.  The real Flair and the nurse (Asia?  Oh, I get it, ha ha) (Asya, actually.)  are at ringside.  George has kind of a cheerleader outfit thing going.  Please let this be short.  Please. They fight over a wristlock to start, with Charles even mimicking Flair’s selling.  Then Stall-O-Mania 99 breaks out, with Robinson bodyslamming the beauty queen on the floor and other shenanigans. Robinson chokes out George.  They trade chops and Robinson even pulls out a Flair flip, and gets slammed for it.  Flair Flop follows.  This is like watching a midget match in Mexico.  The evil nurse hurts George’s leg, and Robinson goes to work on the knee.  Well, can’t fault the psychology, that’s for sure.  Charles gets the figure-four (on the wrong leg, of course, but it’s reversed.  Then Flair interferes, and Savage interferes, and George drops an elbow off the second rope for the pin. This fell under WCW’s specialty division:  Entertaining crap.  5 hot pokers for the stupidity of the idea and putting this on a PPV, but 2 bottles of Surge(tm) for the principles at least making an effort not to suck.  (I seem to remember Little Naitch being ridiculously entertaining in this role and probably living out the dream of a lifetime in the process.)  – US title match:  Scott Steiner v. Buff Bagwell.  Buff jumps Scott before the bell, but a couple of blatant shots to the Konnans turns the tide.  Brawl outside the ring allows Scott the chance to chat with the fans.  Steiner continues beating on Buff while yelling at ringside fans. Half-assed Tiger Driver gets two.  Belly to belly lays out Buff, and Scott grabs a chair, which ends up getting used against him.  Buff comeback.  Two bad looking dropkicks and an atomic drop, but the ref is bumped.  Predictably, Rick Steiner runs in, waffles Buff with the chair, and Scott gets the SHITTY REAR CHINLOCK OF DOOM for the submission.  The reunited Steiner brothers beat on Buff.  Bagwell did NOTHING here.  I officially give up on Buff — the neck injury has ended his career.  (Yup.  Not much more to be said there.) 2 hot pokers for the bad match.  Both Steiner brothers are singles champions — the Apocalypse is officially upon us. – Goldberg video package. – Nash/DDP/Sting/Goldberg video package.  None of this does anything to explain why either Nash/DDP or Sting/Goldberg is even happening, but I suppose it fills time nicely. – Flair video package.  Same one we’ve seen for the past month or so. – Rowdy Roddy Piper v. Ric Flair.  Flair boots Johnny Boone out of the match and replaces him with Charles Robinson.  (Man, the days when I used to give a s--- about referee names.)  Stalling from Flair to start.  Piper throws his 1982 potato punches and Flair stalls again. Piper does his devasting eye poke and hand-clap, but Flair hits a low blow to take control.  Then Arn beats him up.  Then Asia beats him up. What a classic.  Flair should be ashamed for resorting to this crap. They “brawl” outside the ring.  Double KO spot — I feel like someone should be yelling “I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up”.  Figure-four, reversed by Piper.  Flair shows his ass on a sunset flip attempt. Robinson converses with AA while Piper gets a couple of pin attempts. Piper gets the figure-four, and AA breaks it up.  Piper puts the sleeper on him, then on Flair.  Asia breaks it up.  Piper kisses her, and puts the sleeper on her.  Flair gets an international object, hits Piper with it, and gets the pin.  Oh, great, now Eric Bischoff is out.  He declares Piper the winner.  Um, HELLO?  Didn’t he lose the Presidency? And how exactly did Piper win that match, anyway?  This makes no f------ sense. 10 hot pokers for this whole clusterfuck.  Even Tony Schiavone is having trouble explaining what’s going on.  (I remember exactly none of this, but at least it’s less embarrassing for Flair than his TNA run was.)  – Sting v. Goldberg.  The announcers are still trying to rationalize the last match.  Okay, anyway, on with this, which also makes no sense but at least it should be a decent match.  Goldberg messes up a backdrop and hits the powerslam early.  Sting stalls.  Back in and Sting clotheslines Goldberg out.  Goldberg stalls. Goldberg with a cross-armbreaker, and Sting escapes and dropkicks the knee.  Boston crab, which Goldberg powers out of.  Sting goes to the headlock.  Hmmm, maybe DDP *did* carry that match on Nitro.  Sting with a couple of Stinger splashes, but Goldberg catches him and slams him to a big pop, but Bret Hart comes in with a chair and it’s a big schmozz as Bret hammers Goldberg.  I suppose someone jobbing would have been too much to ask.  The Steiners attack everyone for fun.  Very disappointing match.  3 hot pokers for the match, 1 bottle of Surge(tm) for Bret Hart making an appearance, even if it is a token one.  Why did they even bother doing the match?  (So they could advertise it for PPV buys and then not have to deliver, of course.)  – DDP-Nash video.  Why are they even fighting again? – WCW World title match:  DDP v. Kevin Nash.  (I had actually forgotten that DDP’s title run was actually only a month.   Seemed much longer in retrospect.)  Okay, let’s see if DDP can carry the Laziest Man in the History of our Sport.  Tenay reminds us that DDP and Nash started out as a midcard jobber team.  Okay, maybe not in those words.  Hey, this was also the very first Thunder main event. How come they don’t mention that?  Nash gains control and runs through his usual stuff.  DDP comes back with the equalizer of choice tonight — the groin shot — and chokes him down.  He cuts off a turnbuckle pad to distract the ref and hits Nash with a microphone.  I feel like I’m in Memphis here.  Nash comes back and we have a slugfest.  DDP knocks Nash out with a baseball slide, and brings him in, then gets a two count with his feet on the ropes.  Another lowblow.  Must have been training with Scott Steiner.  DDP decides to start working on the knee.  Nash blocks the ringpost figure-four.  Another slugfest, won by Nash.  Snake Eyes to the exposed turnbuckle, and Jackknife powerbomb draws Randy Savage into the ring for the ultra-cheap DQ ending.  No, wait, here’s Our Hero, Eric Bischoff again, to restart the match.  On whose authority?  (The anonymous Nitro GM?  Joe Laurinaitis?)  DDP gets controls and gets a two count on an ugly clothesline.  They my favorite of moves, the sleeper.  Gosh, nothing I love more than a good sleeper and reversal spot.  DDP gets a chair but it backfires and Nash gets a two-count.  A DDP lowblow gets two.  Nash hulks up, and powerdrops DDP to win the World title.  Oh, how inspirational.  Nice to see the booker being so selfless and allowing DDP to escape without a stretcher job. (Yes, Nash not only sunk the company, he also booked himself to win the World title…TWICE.)  Call it 4 hot pokers, with no real redeeming value. The Bottom Line:  Well, our final tally stands at 36 hot pokers, and 12 bottles of Surge(tm) to counteract the burning.  That’s a grand total of 24 hot pokers against, which puts Tony in serious pain. Everything pretty much went actually as everyone thought it would, except for the brain-dead Bischoff thing, which means my recommendation falls right where I thought it would before the show:  Thumbs down.  (99 under the Nash regime was horribly non-memorable and yet shitty at the same time.  But just wait until we get to NEXT year’s show…)

Assorted May-Per-View Countdown: WCW Slamboree 1998

The Netcop Rant for WCW/nWo Slamboree 98 Live from Worcester, Massachusetts (Oh man, just reading this one over makes me think it’s LONG overdue for a re-rant, given all the historic stuff and interesting tidbits that I wish I would have known about 14 years ago.)  Your hosts are Veni, Viti and Vici. Recap of Bischoff’s grandstand challenge from Thunder. This becomes a recurring theme all night. (So yeah, historic thing #1:  Eric Bischoff challenges Vince McMahon to a fight, putting up a sign on the fake dressing room door that says Vince “Reason For The Ratings” McMahon.  The implication here is that the WWF’s ratings victory over WCW, which was a new thing back in 98, was somehow an aberration caused by Vince being all over TV and not by their stars.  So anyway, Bischoff issues a challenge for a fight, but in the buildup to the show WCW’s legal team makes him note that Vince would not be there to cover their bases.  However, the WWF’s legal team sues for falsely advertising Vince McMahon as appearing, because in wrestling when you say someone is NOT going to be there, you are implying that they ARE going to be there.  Thankfully they settled that one out of court without the judge having to rule on the nature of reality itself within the WWE Universe, although I don’t believe the official terms were ever disclosed.  It involved a lot of money, though.)  Opening match, TV title: Fit Finlay v. Chris Benoit. Cool wrestling sequence to start, but it slows down a lot. Many chinlocks from Finlay bring it down. A beautiful spot near the end, as Benoit tries a tope suicida, but Finlay simply holds up a chair, which Benoit slams into in mid-air. Cool. (Bret Hart once talked about how wrestlers get hit with chairs without it hurting or doing damage.  Short answer:  They don’t.  To expand on this, I often wondered how Benoit could slam his head into chairs repeatedly in stupid spots like that one without suffering brain damage.  Short answer:  He didn’t.)  Back in the ring, Finlay goes shoulder-first into the turnbuckle and Benoit does the triple suplex, but Fit blocks. Then a Crippler Crossface, but Fit’s in the ropes. Oh, dear lord, I don’t like the looks of this. Cue Booker, in a suit and tie. Benoit stands and yells at him, and Finlay baseball slides into him, knocking him out. Tombstone, and Finlay retains. **1/2, and may I be the first to say GODDAMN MOTHERFUCKING S--- DO I HATE THE F------ WCW BOOKING COMMITTEE AND I HOPE KEVIN F------ SULLIVAN FALLS INTO THE TOILET AND DROWNS THE NEXT TIME HE’S FIGHTING SOMEONE IN THE BATHROOM!!!!  (Well that’s a bit extreme, 1998 Scott.  The finish was right out of the RAW lazy booking playbook, though.)  Okay, I’m better now. Bryan Adams v. Lex Luger. Wow, demoted to second from the bottom. That’s gotta be a slap in the face. A gigantic, heaping plate of suck steak with fried suck potatoes on the side and suck pudding for dessert. (Mmm, suck pudding…)  Adams swings at Lex and he ducks and catches him in the Rack out of nowhere for the submission. Whoa, that last one was almost a wrestling move! DUD (Two matches in, two dead wrestlers.)  Cruiserweight battle royale: Chris Jericho comes out to introduce all the participants, in a bit so funny at times (“Rock rock til he drops, rock rock never stop!”) that I nearly spit out my Coke. I can’t even do it justice. (Chris Jericho when he was young and hungry and trying to Zack Ryder himself up the card was a thing of AWESOMENESS.)  No Malenko, though, oddly enough. A nothing battle royale which comes down to Juvy and Ciclope (!). They have a staredown, and suddenly Juvy jumps over the top and eliminates himself. Que? Ah, Ciclope is unmasking to be…drum roll…DEAN MALENKO! (The crowd came UNGLUED for that one.  One of the great swerves in WCW’s history, actually.)  Cruiserweight title match: Chris Jericho v. Dean Malenko. Dean looks like a tool in the Ciclope suit. He absolutely goes medieval on Jericho’s ass, and the fans pop like nuts. You hear that sound, WCW, it’s HEAT for this feud. (Yeah, but then it kind of died off after this, because they didn’t know where to go with it.)  Juvy cheers Dean on at ringside for the added touch. Good but not great match with terrific crowd heat, including several “Jericho sucks!” chants. Jericho tries the Liontamer a couple of times but Malenko keeps reversing it. Jericho tries the SuperFrankensteiner, but Malenko turns it into a gut-buster from the top rope, seemingly buggering up his knee in the process. Texas Cloverleaf, and Jericho has nowhere to go but Tap-Out City. The arena just explodes! **** for the whole thing, including the battle royale. (Apparently an exception to my non-rating of battle royales, although I hadn’t really established that rule back then.)  Juvy taunts Jericho a bit more as Malenko celebrates the title victory. Unfortunately, the show pretty much descends into silliness from there. We cut to a “Vinnie Mac Cam” outside the arena as a white limo pulls up. Nothing comes of it. (Except a giant LAWSUIT!)  Bowery Death Match: Raven v. DDP. It’s an enclosed cage with two garbage cans full of weapons on either turnbuckle. 80 million sharp objects and DDP goes for the bullrope. He tries to hang Raven a couple of times. Absolutely zero wrestling here, just senseless foreign object shots out of the Gangsta playbook. Okay, pay attention because now the Hyper-Fighting Booking Style of WCW kicks in: Ref gets bumped and is out for like six minutes. The Flocks runs in past the riot squad and cuts open the cage to interfere. Van Hammer is under the ring, and he comes out and holds off Riggs and Sickboy and Reese. Then two of the riot squad come in themselves and reveal themselves to be Kidman and Boulder. DDP is up and takes *them* out with a pair of Diamond Cutters, but Raven DDT’s DDP and then after another sequence gives DDP a Diamond Cutter of his own. But Page is up at 8 or so, delivers his own Cutter to Raven, and beats the 10 count up for the win. Yay, this feud should be over now. –** (That sounds pretty harsh to me.)  Then *another* riot squad member comes in and handcuffs the remaining Flockers, then Raven, then unmasks to be Mortis, who then unmasks again to reveal what Mortis looks like without the mask. I hope this kills those dumb “Mortis is Chris Champion” rumors. (I’m assuming that rumor came from Chris Kanyon having a similar name and some doofus on RSPW confusing the two.  And add Kanyon to our dead wrestler count for this show.)  Mortis smokes Raven with a chair. This is what Steve Austin was referring to when he noted that ECW is a “bunch of violent crap.” They didn’t even bleed here, despite a VCR shot to Raven at one point. There was no flow or storyline to this mess, just a bunch of weapons and Diamond Cutters. And ECW logic kicks in again: Raven isn’t put out by a friggin’ VCR to the head, but a Diamond Cutter knocks him out cold? Puh-lease, I have to endure enough of this garbage when I watch ECW, I don’t need Scott Levy importing it to WCW in a watered down form. I hated almost everything about this and I hope I never, EVER, have to see Raven v. DDP again. And furthermore, what about all the Jake Roberts and “childhood friends” hints and s--- they dropped? Were they just making it up as they went along? Next match, please. (Yeah, I dunno if that was Raven going into business for himself and trying to come up with a storyline or what, but that went nowhere, and later there was that stuff with Raven being a rich kid that got dropped and forgotten too.)  Ultimo Dragon v. EDDY~! Guerrero. Crowd just dies like THAT. (Speaking of dead…here’s another one to the tally for a total of four dead people thus far.)   Whoa, that’s not a good sign. The match is very lacklustre, mainly Sabu stuff (spot-rest-spot). Fast forward to the end: Eddy hits a tornado DDT (with the announcers correctly noting that Chavo uses it) but misses the Froggy Splash. Ultimo with the Dragon Sleeper, but Eddy flips out and puts Ultimo in his own. Nice. He puts both feet on the ropes, and Chavo jumps up and tries to break it up. While they argue, Dragon tries to kick Eddy but misses and nails Chavo. Eddy with the brainbuster and Froggy Splash #2 for the pin. A disappointing, Worldwide-worthy match. **1/2  (It’s gotta be better than that.  I need to watch this show again, I’m pretty sure.)  Chavo snaps and wipes the mat with Dragon for not freeing him from Uncle Eddy. Eddy looks very proud, but Chavo is about to hit him, too. Eddy begs him on, but Chavo can’t do it and gives him a kiss on the cheek instead. Is this feud EVER going to blow off? Do we get another two months of teases again?  (Nope they blew it off pretty quickly after this.)  US Title match: Goldberg v. Saturn. Apparently, the Gauntlet match that was announced on Thursday has already been scrapped and replaced with a Saturn-Goldberg match. That’s WCW for ya, here today, gone later today. (Just to clarify here, the bookers changing their mind on an advertised match after they were already announced…that’s something that WCW did.  So to do that would be a bad sign, right?)    I guess this is a face turn for Saturn, who told off the Flock in a previous interview, but putting him against Goldberg isn’t a great way to get him over a face, or a major factor in anything. Oh, well, there’s always Glacier. (The Raven v. Saturn feud ended up being pretty hot, although Saturn didn’t get any farther up the card than that position either in WCW or when he jumped with the Radicalz.)  Lots of standing around with the occasional good move tossed in. Goldberg comes so close to imitating Warrior’s mannerisms at times in this that it’s almost eerie. Be afraid. Not as good as Spring Stampede, and it’s the usual Goldberg ending. * In what I guess is the payoff for this whole stupid Vince McMahon angle, Eric Bischoff actually has Michael Buffer introduce a “match” between them, complete with referee. Vince, of course, doesn’t show up so it’s a win by forfeit for Eric. Words don’t do justice to how incredibly pointless this was. Why not challenge Steve Austin and then declare yourself the WWF champion when *he* doesn’t show? Same thing. (Vince would of course go on to make much crazier grandstand challenges to people who would never care a bit about answering him.  Oh, and when we finally did that payoff for the Eric v. Vince feud in 2002, it was…a hug.  ON THE FIRST SHOW.  And people were surprised when Brock lost…)  Bret Hart v. Randy Savage, Grudge Match From Hell. Hey, do you think I make up these match titles? (Well sometimes I do.  Mostly when midgets are involved.  Oh, and Randy Savage makes five dead wrestlers.)  Bret gets screwed out of the main event again. This is bad wrestling that segues into weak brawling outside the ring when they realize that the in-ring stuff isn’t working. So they go into the crowd, walk over to the hockey boards, do a shot there, and then walk back to the ring. Bret works on the knee. Move, taunt, move. In retrospect, I’m becoming more and more happy that Vince dumped Bret when he did. (In retrospect of that retrospect, I wish one of them would have swallowed their pride and made up so that Bret could go back to the WWF before Goldberg kicked a hole in Bret’s head to end his career.)  This is a 1995 Savage match, with Randy taking punishment then mounting a one-move comeback, that being the Big Elbow. Savage’s knee gives out, and he can’t make the pin. Sharpshooter, but Savage actually reverses it into his own. Elizabeth (what? She’s still here?) bounces out and gets into a shoving match with referee Roddy Piper, which allows Bret to deck him from behind with brass knucks. Ah, nice to know he’s become a total snivelling coward in the Hulk Hogan tradition. You know, this is exactly the sort of heel turn that Bret whined about Vince wanting him to do. (That’s because WWF Bret actually give a s--- about his character and motivations, unlike WCW Bret.)  And speaking of Hogan, he runs in and wraps Savage’s knee around the ringpost, which allows another Sharpshooter and a submission win for Bret. *1/2 Overbooked as usual and non-sensical to boot. Let me get this straight: Bret hates Hogan so he’s teaming with him, Savage hates Bret for teaming with Hogan and hates Hogan because he lost the World title to him because of Bret, and Hogan hates Savage so much he’s willing to help Bret. The question I have is why didn’t Bret help Savage to win on Nitro so that this match would be a title match? Oh, yeah, because he wants to win the title from Hogan, who he hates so much that he’s willing to help. You know, maybe it’s me, but this seems like a lot of trouble on Bret’s part, and furthermore who’s gonna want to see two mega-heels go at it? Why would Hogan even agree to give Bret a title match? (Hmm, so WCW was also known for characters changing motivations without any internal logic at the drop of a hat?  Sometimes from show to show because the creative team couldn’t keep their own storylines straight?  Interesting…)  Anyway, next match… Main event, WCW tag team titles: The Outsiders v. Sting & Giant. Just Giant, he had to drop the “The” when he joined the nWo I guess. And Hall actually shows. Seems a little wobbly coming in. I called the ending to this before the show even started, it should be noted. Hall brings back the survey, even though he’s endorsing nWo Hollywood while doing it. The usual crap once the match starts. Sting has deteriorated so much I’m surprised he doesn’t fall to pieces once he gets in the ring. He plays Ricky Morton, and makes the hot tag to Giant. Giant tries a top-rope splash, but falls flat on his face. Nash goes for the powerbomb, but Hall comes in and turns on Nash, decking him with the belt. Giant pins Nash and we have new tag champs. Rhodes and Hall celebrate with Giant as Sting looks stunned, probably because he’s trying to understand the booking just like me. DUD. (Don’t worry, once the Wolfpac threatened Hogan’s spot too much they reversed everything and turned them all heel again anyway.)  The Bottom Line: Why in the HELL would Scott Hall turn on Kevin Nash? I knew it was coming because that’s exactly the sort of thing that WCW has resorted to lately, but there’s only so many shock heel turns that can be done. (Hmm, so swerves and heel turns just for the sake of being shocking are a bad sign?  I see.)  Kevin Nash, Sting and Randy Savage are pretty much the only faces left on the upper card, and of those Sting is only one that even resembles a traditional babyface. There’s just no one for the fans to cheer for anymore. And none of it interests me as a wrestling fan. nWo v. nWo? Great, let them kill each other, it’s about time we got rid of them. I’m sure there’s others who agree with me on that one. (They probably would have some good coin off that too, had Kevin Nash not gotten out-Nashed by Hogan.)  There’s no “big money match” on the horizon — Nash v. Hogan won’t happen because of egos (didn’t happen until 99, long past anyone caring), and Hart v. Hogan won’t draw because the fans hate both of them now. (Happened on Nitro, no one cared.  Probably should have headlined a Starrcade.)  I don’t even know if I liked this show or hated it. Hall’s heel turn wasn’t really a heel turn because he was already a heel. I guess maybe it’s a Nash face turn, but he’s still nWo so he’s a heel, right?   (Nope, this was Nash’s face turn as it turns out.)  There is such a thing as too much character development, never more evident than in this case.  (You could say that having too many writers overthinking the details instead of paying attention to basic storytelling ruined things for WCW.  I see.)  WCW seems so concerned with shock value that they probably don’t even realize what a great reaction the whole Jericho-Malenko bit got. You know why it got a great reaction: Because Jericho’s a great heel and the storyline is timeless. And the face went over. (After the heel initially won to make the fans think that the babyface couldn’t beat the heel.)  Where does the upper card go now? Hall v. Nash, I guess, but that’s a dead-end feud. Hart v. Piper? Who wants to watch that? (A sharply decreasing number of PPV buyers.)  Hogan v. Savage…again?  (AND AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN) I dunno. Thumbs in the middle for Slamboree, leaning towards up, but I don’t know what they’re going to do when they run out of heel turns and they have to depend on, you know, wrestling to carry them. (Oh wait, I’ve got it!  We’ll beat our biggest star on the biggest show of the year, then the guy who beat him will just lay down for a fingerpoke from Hulk Hogan and lose the title to him!  That’ll put butts in seats!) 

Assorted May-Per-View Countdown: ECW Wrestlepalooza 98

The SmarK Retro Rant for ECW Wrestlepalooza 98 (I almost forgot that ECW had a few entries in the May PPV archives, so given that I’ve resigned myself to not finishing this project by May 31 anyway, we might as well stretch things out a bit more) – Back in the day, ECW’s PPVs didn’t air in Canada, so we had to depend on tape dealers to get copies of them, sometimes weeks later. In the case of this show, it took a long time for me to finally see the show, and by then my comments wouldn’t have been timely or original anyway. But four years later, I think I’m finally ready to sit down and rant on it.  (And 10 years after that I’m ready to rant on my rant, although 2002 is pretty much my cut-off point for when my style becomes the modern one, so there’s probably not much to bitch about.)  – Live from (If You Ever Take Take a Trip Down To) Cobb Country, GA. – Your host is Jo-Jo. – Opening match: The FBI v. Supernova & Blue Meanie. Guido starts with Nova and they exchange wristlocks, and Guido slams him for two. Nova rollup gets two, and he gets an atomic drop and leg lariat. Guido misses a charge, and Nova bulldogs the FBI into each other. Meanie comes in and Guido stalls, so Tommy Rich stops the match and declares a dance contest. The referee is the clear loser. Tracy uses the opportunity to attack Meanie in a shocking turn of events, but the FBI collide and Meanie gets two. Tensions flare between the FBI, so the ref slams them himself. Good lord. Nova hits Smothers with a missile dropkick and dumps Guido onto him, and then nails both of them with a plancha. Tommy Rich turns the tide with a cheapshot, and back into the ring Guido sets up a bicycle kick from Tracy, which gets two. Smothers superkick gets two. Guido legdrops him for two. I think perhaps the gesturing during the cover was a tactical error. Double legsweep and Paisan Elbow get two. Nova slugs back, but gets hit with a jumping sidekick by Tracy. Guido wastes time insulting the crowd, so Nova hits him with an inverted electric chair, hot tag Meanie. He cleans house, and they badly botch a four-way collision spot. Meanie goes up and fends off Rich, but misses the Meaniesault. The flag gets involved, but Nova gets the Flatliner for the pin on Guido at 9:26. Eh, this was silly and harmless, but as a match it was nothing to write home about. *1/2  (FBI were the go-to guys for silly opening matches during this period, even as the gimmick developed into something totally off the rails from where it started.  By the time it swung back to Little Guido & Tony Mamaluke actually trying to be Italian guys, the point was basically lost.)  – Justin Credible v. Mikey Whipwreck. Mikey spears Justin to start and hammers away in the corner. Justin bails and they brawl outside, which Mikey gets the best of. Justin bumps all over the place out there, but when they get to the apron Justin pushes him into the railing to take over. Back in, he sets up a chair and rams Mikey’s head into it, which seems like an awful lot of trouble as compared to, say, a chairshot. He stomps a mudhole and knees him in the face in the corner, and then powerbombs him onto the chair for two. Justin pounds away, but Mikey blocks a backslide. Whippersnapper is countered with an inverted DDT, and both guys are out. Mikey gets dumped and they do some more brawling, which leads to a table getting set up and Justin getting suplexed through it. Back in, Justin loses a chairshot duel and Mikey follows with a neckbreaker for two. Catapult into the chair gets two. They head up, where Mikey snaps off a rana for two. Whippersnapper, but the cast of Rent runs in, does a musical number, and in the chaos Justin hits his piledriver for the pin at 9:52. Really slow and too many run-ins for an undercard match. Seemed very indy-ish, with broken tables and bumps on the concrete replacing psychology and storyline. *  (I’m thinking this was before CRAZY MIKEY with the Sinister Minister managing him and Tajiri, because that gimmick completely ruled.)  – ECW Tag team title: Lance Storm & Chris Candido v. Axl Rotten & Ballz Mahoney. Candido & Storm were one of Paul Heyman’s favorite concepts: The Wacky Tag Team Partners Who Hate Each Other. Oddly enough, they were also the longest-reigning ECW tag champions in history up until 1999, when Raven & Tommy Dreamer, also Wacky Tag Team Partners Who Hated Each Other, eclipsed that record. So the key to longevity in ECW, obviously, is to pick a partner who you hate. (That would explain the success that New Jack & Mustafa achieved.)  Candido and Axl start, and Candido gets overpowered, but comes back with a hiptoss and armdrag. Axl slugs him down, so Storm gives it a try. Axl & Ballz work his arm over, but Ballz misses a charge. He comes back with a clothesline and the freaks get a double-team backbreaker for two. Storm takes him down with a leg lariat and Candido tags himself in, and gets armdragged. Mahoney gets a legdrop for two, and hits the chinlock. He slugs away in the corner and hiptosses him into a dropkick, but misses a high kick and lands on the floor. Candido’s pescado is blocked and turned into a trip into the railing, and Axl hits everyone with a somersault dive. There’s an old saying about not doing what you can’t do well, and I think that spot exemplifies it. (That being said, if Axl didn’t attempt anything he couldn’t do well, he’d be forced into retirement and would never wrestle again. And I don’t think anyone wants that…) Back in, Axl gets hit with a cheapshot from the apron and Candido tags over on him after dumping his own partner. An argument ensues, but Candido works through it and gets a delayed suplex on Axl. Storm misses a charge, but gets a superkick for two. Double-team elbow gets two for Candido. Chris hits the chinlock as the crowd is more concerned with Ric Flair than the match. That’s usually a bad sign. Axl with a sunset flip for two, but he goes up and gets caught with a rana. Candido’s strut is met by a clothesline from Mahoney, which gives Axl two. Candido goes back up and lands in Axl’s arms, but Axl ends up headbutting his crotch in a spot so ridiculously contrived that they could have handed out programs before it came. Axl DDTs both guys, hot tag Ballz. He slams everyone, but Tammy Sytch runs in to distract him, causing a fight between the champions. (“You pay her dealer off!”  “No, YOU pay her dealer off!”)  Everyone collides, the champions go low in stereo (which is immediately no-sold by Ballz & Axl) and Ballz goes for his chair, but gets dropkicked by Storm for two. Candido breaks it up and pins Ballz himself at 12:02. Oh, man, where to start? The styles completely clashed (brawling v. wrestling with no brawling = bad stuff) for one thing. Ballz & Axl were just not playing ball here, no-selling stuff at random. The ending was horribly anticlimactic, with Candido breaking up the pin only to get it himself. The match itself was slow and sloppy, and all the offense looked weak. There you go. *  (But on the upside, only one of the team members is dead now.)  – Joey brings out some Georgia legends, including JYD, Dick Slater, Masked Superstar (I assume it’s Bill Eadie but you never know with these things) and Bob Armstrong. Man, Bob sure turned to s--- in the four years since this. He looked 120 years old on the NWA-TNA shows.  (ARMSTRONG CURSE!  ARMSTRONG CURSE!  I kid.  Obviously the real answer is that he sold his soul to the devil to ensure the continued employment of Road Dogg and his life force has been sustaining the dark overlord ever since then.)  – Next up, Joey brings out Shane Douglas to stress how crippled he is. He gripes about guys today stubbing a toe and collecting a paycheque while on a guaranteed contract. Which is really funny because he signed with WCW and started taking time off for injuries not that long after this. (Also funny because guys in ECW were lucky to collect a paycheque that didn’t bounce.)  Shane gives his usual “Shawn Michaels is an asshole who held me down” (True, but it’s tough to feel sympathy for him these days)  and “Ric Flair is an asshole who held me down” (To this day I don’t get when exactly he was held down by Flair.  When he was a perpetual midcarder in 1993 WCW who got to ride Ricky Steamboat’s coattails as half of the tag champions?  The guy so memorable that they fired him, stuck Tom Zenk under a mask, and NO ONE COULD TELL THE DIFFERENCE?)  speeches and says that tonight may be his last match due to injuries. If only. Taz finally decides to interrupt the verbal masturbation and demand that Shane hand over his belt. It doesn’t come, so Taz chokes him out before security intervenes. Security stopping an impromptu match? In ECW? Bigelow comes out to lend Shane a hand, and security stops THAT fight, too. Listening to Shane Douglas (and LOOKING at him, with the ponytail and 50 pounds of muscle mass) gives a very strong vibe of someone else’s boring, self-serving promos. I can’t put my tHHHumb on who he reminds me of, though.  (These days, the phrases “Shane Douglas” and “muscle mass” are rarely uttered in the same sentence.)  – Bigelow stands around yelling at the crowd, until New Jack’s music hits. – Bam Bam Bigelow v. New Jack. Bigelow stops the initial attack and stomps him in the corner, thus keeping him away from the Bucket O’ Plunder. Avalanche and Bigelow grabs the guitar, but misses. New Jack uses his various signs and weapons to beat Bammer down, including the dreaded PLASTIC LIZARD OF DEATH. (Apparently New Jack was a fan of Harry And His Bucket Full Of Dinosaurs years before the show was even on the air!)  They brawl out, which puts Bigelow back on the advantage. He dives over the rail, missing completely, and they fight up into the crowd. Really weak brawling follows as they head over to the backstage entrance and do a lot of standing around. One wonders, since both guys are bald, how they were pulling each other around without hair to hold onto. (Weak nuclear force?  Static cling?  Velcro?)  New Jack wanders up to the balcony, finds what I suppose is an emergency auxiliary guitar left there in case of sudden outbursts of funkiness, and jumps down onto Bigelow, missing completely with the guitar. I guess the whoosh of air was so strong that it knocked Bigelow over. Bam Bam carries him back into the ring and pins him at 8:43. This made the usual WWE Hardcore title match look like Thesz-Rogers. * – The Dudley Boyz v. Tommy Dreamer & Sandman. It wouldn’t be an ECW show without a Tommy Dreamer video done to “River of Deceit”. (That was a quintessential 90s supergroup, by the way, composed of the singer of Alice In Chains and members of Pearl Jam.  Sadly, Layne Staley likely didn’t get a dime from ECW’s constant use of this song, although in all fairness he likely would have just spent the money on heroin anyway.)  Well, Joel’s introductions are generally a nice pick-me-up, at least. Sadly, Sandman’s entrance interrupts it, so we don’t even get THAT. Sandman, true professional that he is, sells a neck injury during the entrance. Dudleyz attack to start, but get clotheslined out of the ring in stereo. Everyone brawls and Sandman drops a table on Bubba. The Dudleyz get put on the railing and have to stand there for like 30 seconds while Sandman sets up and legdrops them. Back in, Dreamer gets his neckbreaker on D-Von, and Sandman brings a piece of railing in. But irony strikes in the worst way, as Sandman gets whipped into it. Tommy is concerned, but the Dudz beat on him. If that was HHH tending to HBK, the whole show would have drawn to a close. Dudleyz get a double-suplex on Dreamer as Sandman is carted out on a stretcher. Various double-teaming follows. They decide to go into a standard handicap match, so Bubba heads to the apron while D-Von gets his twisty elbow and sideslam. Bubba goes up, but Tommy comes back and superplexes him for two. Bubba gets a backdrop suplex and clothesline, but Sign Guy throws powder at D-Von by mistake. The ref is distracted, however, so no count. Double-team neckbreaker on Tommy puts him down, and they bring the railing back in. “You know, in all honesty, this is getting hard to watch”, notes Joey. I love shoot comments that aren’t supposed to be shoot comments. (There’s the catchphrase!  Everyone drink.)  Tommy gets crotched on the railing and they gave him a bad-looking version of the conchairto, and Spike Dudley suddenly makes a run-in and fights off the Dudleyz. He splashes them under the railing and gives both the Acid Drop on the railing, and both he and Tommy give them pescados. Back in, Tommy tries to dropkick a chair in D-Von’s face, but Big Dick powerbombs him. Spike completes the move. Big Dick takes care of Spike, and now Beulah and Sign Guy get involved, but Spike takes 3D. Sandman escapes from intensive care, cleans house with the cane, and stereo DDTs finish the Dudleyz at 11:22. Just a complete mess. ½* – ECW TV title: Rob Van Dam v. Sabu. This came from a rather clever twist whereby Sabu was scheduled to meet Bigelow for the title at this show, and they did a buildup match a couple of weeks before, where RVD would “soften up” the champion for Sabu. To everyone’s shock, Rob won the title, thus making the title match RVD v. Sabu. He would, in fact, never lose the title, and probably would have carried it into the WWF with him in 2001 had he not been stripped of it in 2000 due to injuries. (Heyman probably had to pawn the belt to make rent on the bingo hall that week and needed it back.)  Stalling to start. Sabu misses an elbow, and they do a token wrestling sequence that goes nowhere. Those cutesy parity spots always annoy the s--- out of me. Rob stops to cut a promo about how he’s not gonna fight Sabu and we’re all suckers. Sabu abruptly turns on Van Dam, however, and slugs away. Spinkick gets two. Slingshot legdrop gets two. Rob bails and Sabu follows with a pescado. They do a bit o’ brawling out there and head back in, where Sabu grabs an armbar. They showboat, and dropkick each other in the knee. Rob legdrops him for two. Rob with the Gory Special, but he bridges too far and Sabu falls out of it. That was pretty sloppy. Rob guillotines him on the apron and they head back in, where Rob stomps away and goes to a half-crab. He works on the leg a bit and superkicks him, but Sabu shakes it off while Rob is setting up a table outside, and dives onto him. Rob gets put on the table, but escapes before Sabu can put him through it. Sabu dives onto him in the crowd, instead. Back in, Sabu tosses a chair at him, putting Rob back on the floor again. They slug it out and Rob crotches Sabu on the railing, but Fonzie won’t help him with the chair spot. He’s being objective, you see. (He was the guy who called it right down the middle, that was his whole gimmick!)  Rob suplexes him on the railing and guillotines him, but Sabu returns the favor. Both guys are out. Back in, Sabu gets two. Triple-jump moonsault misses, however, and Rob gets two. He crotches Sabu and kicks him back outside again to use up more time. We’re about 15:00 in already with essentially nothing of any consequence having happened yet. Rob gets a tope con hilo, and both guys are out again. Back in, Sabu blocks a suplex from the apron and comes back with a moonsault, then suddenly ignores all the previous damage he took and goes on offense. That’s always been the big thing with Sabu. Incredibly, horribly blown DDT spot on the table doesn’t impress the crowd. Back in, Rob legsweeps him down and goes up, but Sabu sets up a table and puts him through it. Well, the table was already broken, so it’s more like putting him on it, but that’s nitpicking. They brawl outside and back in and throw the GIRLIEST punches ever at each other, and mess up a simple catapult under the ropes. Rob guillotines him on the apron again. Now we’re repeating spots. They brawl outside as Sabu does his version of selling by clutching his ribs for about five seconds, but then pops right back up again and crotches Rob on the railing. He gets a rana off the railing, and we take another break. Back in, Van Daminator gets two. Frog splash gets two. Sabu makes another random comeback and hits a triple-jump legdrop, for two. Rob poses, but Sabu clips him.and Rob doesn’t even notice, thus making everyone look silly. Rob monkey-flips him onto a chair, giving us more posing time. Elbowdrop gets two. Sabu goes back to the knee, and then follows up by legdropping a chair on his head. What a master of psychology. Another table gets set up, and this one breaks prematurely, too. Talk about amateur hour. Rob finds yet another table, and puts Sabu on top in very convenient fashion. Sabu makes yet another miraculous comeback, but then falls dead on the table in perfect position again and Rob frog-splashes him. Facebuster gets two for RVD. Sabu spinkicks him for two. Slingshot legdrop sets up a german suplex that gets two. Rob gets a moonsault for two. Sabu gets one of his own for two. And it’s a 30:00 draw. Total spot-rest-spot stuff here, with each guy getting hit with a killer, devastating move and then popping up to do his own 2 seconds later. I cannot believe (well, actually I can) that the ECW mutants were drooling all over themselves because of this nonsense. **  (Does anyone even remember this match today?  The RVD-Lynn stuff blew this out of the water and made Sabu look like amateur hour.)  – ECW World title: Shane Douglas v. Al Snow. Al’s entrance is still something to behold, and this was the absolute peak of his popularity.and one of his last matches in ECW. Common sense was saying that Snow, on the hot streak of a lifetime and more over than anyone in the promotion, was a shoo-in to win the title here. (In all fairness, Snow was under contract to WWE the whole time and they wanted him back at this point, so he wasn’t getting the belt only to have to lose it again right away.  Still, given the LONG rehab of his character and build for his title shot with the Head stuff turning into a phenomenon, I don’t think that even a short title reign to pay it off would have been asking too much.)  Douglas has an arm so heavily bandaged that he looks like he’s auditioning for Mummy 3. (Which came out nearly a decade after Mummy Returns and didn’t actually feature the Mummy in the movie.)  They slug it out to start and Snow goes after the arm, smartly. Shane gets an elbow, but Snow pounds away. He goes up, and they fight on the top, but Francine crotches Snow and he bails. They brawl on the floor and Douglas gets dropped on the railing and crotched on the post. Geez, three ballshots and we’re not even 5:00 in. Back in, Snow knocks him down for two. Douglas dropkicks him out again, however. They do some brawling out there, and head back in, where Douglas gets a terrible clothesline and hits the chinlock. Necksnap and Shane sets up a bunch of chairs, but Snow slugs away. Shane returns fire. THRILLING. Shane gives him an atomic drop, and Snow fails to take a big bump on the intricately staged chairs, succeeding only in knocking a couple down awkwardly. Shane powerbombs him on them instead. That gets two. Snow comes back with a DDT and a clothesline as Joey starts into his “What a classic!” voice. Candido runs in and gets tossed, but Shane gets the belly-to-belly for two. Oh my god, someone kicked out of a belly-to-belly suplex? CALL THE PRESS! (They can put flyers 15 feet in the air on telephone poles to promote it!)  Snow heads out with a quebrada onto Bigelow and Candido to get rid of them, so we relocate to the floor again. Everyone has come out to watch the match. HHH would be proud. (You know it’s 2002 when there’s THREE shots at HHH in the same review, and it’s a totally different company!)  Snow goes up for a bodypress, but Shane rolls through for two. Snow Plow gets two. Francine gets involved and gets taken out, as does Candido. Snow goes up, gets a sunset flip, and Shane counters for the pin at 11:29. The crowd completely turns on that finish, tossing the heads into the ring in protest. ½* (Seems like it was better than that, maybe ** or so.)  The ECW locker room puts the guys on their shoulders like this was a ****1/2 classic or something, which only serves to accentuate what a disaster this was. Snow, with no point in being in the promotion any longer, would show up on RAW the next night and never return. The Bottom Line: This is generally considered the consensus favorite for “Worst ECW PPV Ever”, due to some truly uninspired booking and style clashes. Paul Heyman smartly changed direction after this show, bringing in Mike Awesome and Masato Tanaka to freshen things up, but MAN was that Snow match a slap in the face to the fans. Strong recommendation to avoid.

Assorted May-Per-View Countdown: WWF Over The Edge 1998

The SmarK Retro Rant for WWF Over the Edge 98 – This is another one of my patented do-overs, as the original was of course done in 1998 and doesn’t hold up well as a review. Plus I always felt that I overrated a lot of the matches at the time. So let’s see what 4 years of perspective accomplishes, shall we?  (And then let’s see what another 10 years of perspective accomplishes.)  – Live from Milwaukee, WI – Your hosts are JR & King. – Opening match: LOD2000 v. DOA. LOD has new recruit Droz with them along with Sunny, and the DOA bring Chainz. Man, did that entire team go to hell or what? Between Droz’ injury and Sunny’s fall from grace, that babyface side ended up being a bad place to be. (Not to mention Hawk’s death about a year after I wrote this.)  Meanwhile, the Harris twins are still kicking. Go figure. Big brawl to start, and Animal starts with 8-Ball. Luckily, the Harris twins are good enough thugs to wear nametags on their leather jackets, so we can tell the difference. Remember, if you’re going to be rabble-rousing, at least have the courtesy to wear a nametag. 8-Ball gets a neckbreaker and a legdrop, but a charge misses and Animal gets a dragon-screw legwhip to take him down. A word on notation here, if I may. Most of this is short-hand for the more accurate descriptions of the move. For instance, some may find “Move vaguely resembling the same motions that one is supposed to make while doing a neckbreaker” too cumbersome to read (and type) 10 times over the course of a 10-minute match, so I just say “neckbreaker” for the sake of keeping things short and to the point, although perhaps I am sacrificing accuracy and/or clarity at the same time, but that’s a chance I’m willing to take. For your own reference, laugh after every move name if it helps you come to grips with how badly done each and every move in this match is, as in neckbreaker (ha!) and a legdrop (*snort*), and so on. Hope this helped. Skull & Hawk do some shoving, and Skull drops some elbows. Sideslam gets two. Piledriver is no-sold (and this is doubly apropos, because not only is no-selling the piledriver Hawk’s usual MO, but the piledriver itself is so bad, and so much in plain view as making absolutely no contact, that even Jerry Lawler has to cover up for it by noting that Skull didn’t get any contact with it) and Hawk gets the neckbreaker, allowing the LOD to work Skull over in the corner. Animal hits the chinlock, and Hawk’s legdrop gets two. Hawk then goes up and misses whatever, and he’s YOUR drunk-in-peril. DOA gets a double-boot for two. Choking follows. Well, at least they can do THAT properly. Elbow gets two as JR seems ready to break out that old bowling shoe reference. Hawk fights back, but gets laid out by the other Harris brother, and that gets two for the Harris brother who isn’t that Harris brother. Dammit, where’s those nametags when you need them? (To make matters even worse, Brian Lee’s real name is…Brian Harris.)  To the chinlock, crowd is bored. Beating in the corner continues, but Skull misses whatever off the top, hot tag Animal. He escapes a double-team and suplexes Skull, but 8-Ball switches off in a spot that goes nowhere. It’s chaos! Madness! Lunacy! Everyone is running around as cluelessly as Jackie Gayda in a battle royale,  (See, young’uns, Jackie Gayda was a f------ awful wrestler who managed to win a season of Tough Enough, although really not much worse than the Divas today but she had the misfortune of being around at the same time as Lita and Trish and Molly.)  until Droz distracts 8-Ball and Animal powerslams him for the pin at 9:55. To quote Marge Simpson, “It’s an ending. That’s enough.” DUD  (I love that quote.  It works in SO MANY situations.)  – Rock comes out to speak to his fanclub (which, admittedly, in 1998 wasn’t as large as it is today) on the subject of how incredibly ugly the women in Milwaukee are, and why everyone in the city must therefore be a drunk to keep sane and reproduce. Faarooq comes out to defend the honor of drunks everywhere and messes up a piledriver onto a chair, completely missing the chair, and thus making it look ridiculous when Rock is carried off on a stretcher as a result. They fight later, you know. – Jeff Jarrett v. Steve Blackman. The feud so hot that it just couldn’t be contained by RAW! Blackman attacks on the floor to start, and presses JJ back into the ring. Missile dropkick sets up something else from the top, but we never find out, as Jarrett bulldogs him when he tries it. Strutting results. Blackman kicks him down again, and gets a german suplex for two. JJ gets put into the Tree of Woe and choked. Tennessee Lee (Robert Fuller) distracts Steve by promising him a new pair of pajama bottoms, and the offer is so blindingly tempting that he doesn’t even notice JJ clocking him from behind on the floor. (We also would have accepted “Zubaz pants.”  Zubaz pants.)  Back in, Blackman quickly shakes off the daydreaming and goes up, but misses and Jarrett dropkicks him for two. He charges and hits elbow, but when Blackman goes for a pump splash, he hits knee. They do a laughable pinfall reversal sequence, before Jarrett steps things up with a sleeper. Oh, man, they should re-sign him! All he needs is a spinebuster and he’s set for the main event again! (Luckily TNA snapped him up so we’d never have to see him on RAW again.)  Blackman, presumably showing that same fire and drive for the bigtime that HHH talked about in his speech, reverses to his own sleeper, as if to say “Hey, Jeff’s not the only guy who can work main event style here!” Sadly, this deep and meaningful exchange of political statements is completely overshadowed by Al Snow trying to do commentary with the Spanish announce team and getting tossed out of the building. Who’d have thunk that mere years later, Snow and Blackman would forever revolutionize the face of tag team wrestling with Head Cheese? Well, I guess no one would have thunk that, because they sucked, but I felt like the moment needed a dramatic foreshadowing bit. (I’m sensing I was bored while writing this.)  JJ suplexes out of the sleeper, and that eventually gets two as they lay around in a dramatic selling bit to wait for Snow to get tossed out of the building. Blackman fights back and gets a backbreaker. Spinkick and Buddy Landell elbow get two. The KICK OF FEAR follows, but this time Tennessee Lee is offering him a new pair of sticks, and he gets off his gameplan again. The heels miscommunicate, however, and Blackman gets a rollup for two. He grabs the kendo stick and nails Jarrett for two. He goes up, gets tripped up by Lee, and Jarrett finishes him with his own kendo stick at 10:14. Oh, the irony. Pretty good finish bails this one out. **  (Amazingly they pushed Jarrett even HARDER after this.  I don’t know what he had on Russo, but it must have been good.)  – Marc Mero v. Sable. This was advertised as Sable picking a wrestler to defend her honor and help her escape a personal services contract with the evil Mero. If Sable won, she was emancipated. If Mero won, Sable leaves the WWF forever. FOREVER. However, it ended up being Sable taking on the match by herself, and giving a big speech about women’s empowerment and not needing a man to fight for her. Which was fine, except that Mero immediately tricked her into going for an easy pinfall, and then cradled her for the pin to win the match. “Forever” ended up being about two weeks, at which point she returned working for Vince McMahon and the angle was never mentioned again. Women’s rights ain’t what they used to be.  (Not to mention when she left the company for realz, she sued and won, and then came back from THAT as well a couple of years later.)  – Sho Funaki, Dick Togo & Men’s Teioh v. Taka Michinoku & Bradshaw. Seriously, what in the hell were they thinking with this feud? On the upside, it’s better than Bradshaw being the Texas Hardcore champ and feuding with Johnny the Bull on Heat while hitting him with a canoe. I think. (If only they had kept him there instead of deciding that making him World champion would be a splendid idea to try.)  Speaking of Japanese stereotyping, someone sent me a bunch of banned World War II cartoons, and I gotta say that even as someone who’s normally pretty much on the “lay off the politically correct BS” side of the fence, they did a pretty efficient job of offending me. Once Bugs Bunny starts throwing out racial slurs at buck-toothed and barefoot Japanese soldiers, that’s pretty much over my line of tolerance. It amazes me that America’s disgusting propaganda tactics got swept under the rug and buried while Germany got written as the only ones doing that sort of thing. I guess history really is written by the winners. (Most of those cartoons actually ended up on the last couple of volumes of the Looney Tunes Golden Collections, and in fact there’s a whole disc dedicated to them on one of the sets.  That was pretty awesome of Warner, actually, although they stopped doing the sets.)  Anyway, Bradshaw presses Taka onto Kaientai (this was, of course, before Taka joined the WWF-version of the team) on the floor. In the ring, Bradshaw comes in and Kaientai runs away like a monster is chasing them. Teioh starts with Taka to begin things properly and gets a hiptoss, but Bradshaw chases everyone off again. You get the feeling that the only one this is intended to help is Bradshaw? (Probably because it was.)  Togo pounds Taka, but misses a charge and Taka gets a tornado DDT for two. JR makes history by issuing the first apologetic statement about how he wants to see the light heavyweight division get better, and how they’re not quite there yet, but any day now. (You know what would really perk up the division?  A midget holding the belt, preferably one dressed like an adorable leprechaun.)  And people wonder why no one takes him seriously anymore. Funaki bails and Taka follows with a quebrada that gets so much hangtime that he overshoots and hits the railing at the same time as the target. Yikes. Togo jumps him on the way back in, however, and hits a wheelbarrow powerbomb. Funaki gets a suplex for two. Teioh with the big boot, and butterfly suplex for two. Togo corkscrews him and uses the Vulcan nerve pinch to slow things down a tick. Snap powerslam gets two. Funaki & Teioh hit the double-team DDT on him, but Bradshaw saves. Togo debuts the swanton bomb on PPV a year before Jeff Hardy (and hits it better), and then he and Funaki follow with a Paisan elbow. Taka elbows out of Funaki’s sleeper, but Kaientai do their triple-team sequence. Funaki misses a charge, and Taka makes the hot tag to Bradshaw. He no-sells EVERYTHING, and I mean he barely even registers any of the shots from three guys at once, and powerbombs Funaki in vicious fashion. Tiger suplex on Teioh gets two. Taka comes back in with a Michinoku driver on Togo that gets two, but chaos erupts and Togo sneaks in a senton bomb for the pin at 9:53. Why couldn’t we see the Miracle Ecstasy Bomb from Men’s Teioh, dammit? And why didn’t anyone stop and think that maybe it might have been a good idea just to make Taka & Funaki a team, and have them feud with Togo & Teioh instead of putting all the short guys on the same team? Bradshaw was useless for the purposes of this match, but there was some fun stuff with the Kaientai crew. **1/2 – Intercontinental title: The Rock v. Faarooq. Rock is sporting a fashionable neckbrace from the earlier attack. Faarooq attacks and rips it off right away, then hits him with it. And Rock SELLS it. Faarooq gets a pair of clotheslines, and Rock bails. They brawl out and back in, where Rock gets a clothesline to take over. He works the neck, and gets a reverse elbow. People’s Elbow gets a bit of a pop, although I was at a house show with him in the main event shortly after this and it got the MONSTER pop of the night. JR gives his usual disgust at Rock’s showboating, but four years later the move would be used to polish off Hulk Hogan cleanly at Wrestlemania. Think on THAT one. Smack is laid down, and Faarooq clotheslines him and drops a headbutt for two. Rock DDTs him for two. Faarooq spinebuster gets two. It’s the old “ref counts three but the heel has his foot on the ropes” trick, but the crowd is so bored that they don’t even register the false finish. Rock quickly uses the Ric Flair pin (and draws a big pop) at 5:12. Well, at least it was quick. ½* The Nation and D-X get into a pullapart brawl afterwards. – Kane v. Vader. This is, ahem, mask v. mask. Guess who wins. JUST GUESS. Slugfest to start, won by Kane. Kane walks into a boot and Vader clubbers him. Kane reverses a suplex, but misses an elbow. Vader gets a short-arm, which Kane no-sells. Kane gets his own and slugs away, and slams him. Kane up top with the flying clothesline. Zzzzzzzz. Vader slugs back and gets the big boot, but Kane turns the tide again. More punching. Kane hits the chinlock to liven things up and chokeslams Vader, but he bails and finds a wrench. Oh, no, not a wrench! Back in, he gets a clothesline and goes up, but misses the Vadersault. Tombstone ends my pain at 7:18. Man, Kane was not good in the early years. (As opposed to…?)  1/4* Kane gives Paul Bearer the Vader mask as a trophy, and Vader gives a rather infamous interview where he declares himself to be a “fat piece of s---” because he lost. Vader was gone soon after. (Rough week for Vader between the Cold Day In Hell rant and this one.)  – D-Generation X v. Owen Hart, D-Lo Brown & The Godfather. This was just after the “D-X visits Atlanta and turns face” angle that was inexplicably chosen by the WWE dunderheads on Confidential as the moment that sunk WCW. D-Lo and Dogg start and exchange hammerlocks. D-Lo slugs him down and overpowers him. He grabs a headlock, which Dogg hiptosses out of . Billy Gunn comes in and clotheslines Owen. Press slam follows, and we get some stalling, but Gunn walks into a leg lariat. HHH slugs Owen and gets the high knee, and a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for two. Dogg drops a leg for two. Owen goes low on HHH and Godfather comes in and pounds the s--- out of HHH. HHH gets a facebuster and Gunn comes in, but gets kicked to death. D-Lo’s dropkick is blocked with a catapult, and HHH stomps a mudhole on him. Road Dogg with the shaky-legs kneedrop for two. The Outlaws work D-Lo over and Gunn suplex gets two. HHH kneedrop gets two. Dogg gets caught in the heel corner with a cheapshot, and Godfather puts him down with a back kick. Owen gets a piledriver gets two. Neckbreaker and flying elbow get two. D-Lo’s legdrop gets two, and we hit the chinlock. Dogg fights back, but walks into the Skyhigh powerbomb for two. Dogg bodypresses Owen for two, but Owen hooks the Sharpshooter. HHH saves. Godfather misses a pump splash, but a clothesline gets two. Back to the chinlock, and D-Lo goes up with the moonsault for two. Senton misses, hot tag Gunn. He cleans house on the heels as the camera closes in on his pathetic missed punches in the corner. A belt gets involved and D-Lo gets piledriven on it, but there’s no ref. Owen Pedigrees HHH on that same belt, and gets the pin at 17:37. Whoa, that’s pretty much the only time you’ll see THAT finish. Pretty boring stuff here. *1/2 – WWF title match: Steve Austin v. Dude Love. Okay, here it is: The match that established the Steve Austin Main Event Style forever and gave Vince Russo his idea to recycle 800 times after this. The Fink is forced to robotically introduce guest ring announcer Pat Patterson in glowing terms while reading from cue cards. Funny s---. Pat is apparently a Canadian legend on the level of Anne Murray. No argument there. Pat then introduces fellow stooge (and guest timekeeper) Gerald Brisco, including a plug for the body shop, of course. “We know who does the rear ends”, JR notes. The introduction of guest referee is so incredibly over-the-top that you know Vince had to write it himself. And you know it’s a special occasion because Mick has his teeth in. Patterson refuses to introduce a bum like Austin, but everyone knows who he is. Undertaker then delays the opening bell by making a surprise appearance as the guest enforcer to keep Vince in line. Vince starts bullying Austin right off the opening lockup. Dude’s shoulderblock gets a REALLY fast two-count, and UT shoots Vince a dirty look. The counts slow down after that. (Perhaps Undertaker taped his fists menacingly in the locker room beforehand.)  Crowd is just INSANE for Austin. Dude gets a knee for one and grabs a headlock, and they work off that for a bit. Crowd chants “Vince is gay”. Well, that’s just slander. Dude’s teeth get knocked out, so Austin improvises a spot where he stomps on them. What an awesome touch. Well, now Mick’s pissed, and he pounds on Austin in the corner, but walks into a Thesz Press and gets dumped. They brawl, and Austin hits the stairs. Vince tells them that there’s no countouts, which is news to JR, so back in we go. Dude gets a legsweep for two, and chokes away. Dude drops an elbow and rams a knee into the gut for two. Austin gets a Neckbreaker and three clotheslines, and stomps a mudhole. Dude gets the Mandible Claw early on, but Austin hangs him in the ropes. Out we go, and Patterson “reminds” us that it’s no-DQ. This, also, is news to JR, and he gets a bit bent out of shape over it. (I think this match worked so well because Russo’s goofy conceit about the rules changing mid-match was one of the first booking twists in a long LONG time that was wholly original.  )Dude takes advantage of this sudden change of stips by choking out Austin with a TV cable, but hits a table and gets pounded. Austin sends Dude into the front row with a sick clothesline over the railing, and back to ringside for more ass-whooping. Back in, Austin crotches himself and Dude baseball slides him out again. Neckbreaker on the floor, and now Patterson “reminds” us that it’s falls count anywhere. JR is shocked and appalled. Dude gets a backslide for two in the aisle. Austin rips his head off with a lariat and they fight to the cars used as scenery, where Dude backdrops Austin onto a car, and gets two. Austin hotshots Dude onto a car for two. They head onto the roof, but Dude blocks a stunner and sends Austin crashing to the floor in a crazy bump. Austin blades on the way down. Dude then sunset flips him off the top of the car, for two. Dude grabs an exhaust pipe, but Austin isn’t ready to take the shot so they scrap it. Austin fights back, but a piledriver is reversed for two. Dude suplexes him and heads up to the roof of a car, but misses an elbow. Austin gets two from that. They head back to ringside and into the ring, where Pat trips Austin to put Dude back on offense. He exposes a turnbuckle, and rams Austin into it, then works the cut. Dude hits the chinlock and Austin fights free.but goes back into the turnbuckle again. Dude grabs a chair in desperation and uses that for a double-arm DDT that gets two, but charges and gets it back in the face. Now Austin is PISSED. Chairshot kills Foley DEAD, but Vince won’t count. Dude recovers and charges with the chair again, but now Vince gets it upside the head and goes night-night. KICK WHAM STUNNER, no ref. Another ref runs in to count, but Pat Patterson gets rid of him at two. Mick reverses to a Mandible Claw and Pat decides to exercise his refereeing powers to count two, but Undertaker exercises his right to f--- s--- up old-school and chokeslams him through a table. OH YEAH. Now THAT’S an effective use of Undertaker. You know a match is working when it’s 4 years later and you’ll still marking out watching it. Brisco tries the same refereeing strategy, and he gets no love from the Deadman, either. KICK WHAM STUNNER, and Austin uses Vince’s own hand to count the pin at 22:26 and blow the damn roof off the building. ****3/4 Now THAT’S sports entertainment. (Here’s why the current WWE “rules” about how to be a “professional” bug the s--- out of me.  So CM Punk gets punished because someone ratted him out to HHH about not wearing a suit in the airport.  Think about this for a minute:  When did Steve Austin, the biggest star in the history of the UNIVERSE, ever wear a suit?  What would happen if you told him to a wear a suit?  And yet he was the biggest star they ever had.  Further, what was the biggest FEUD they ever had?  I can sum it up in three lines of dialogue:  “You should wear this suit.”  “F--- you and everyone associated with you.”  “Well, then I’m just going to have to destroy you.”  In fact, they once did an angle on RAW where Vince tried to make Austin wear a suit, and Austin gave him a shot in the nuts in response.  The irony is so thick that I’m shocked it doesn’t choke out the oxygen in the arena some nights.)  The Bottom Line: Pretty brutal show for the first couple of hours, but in grand tradition of the Austin era, the main event completely bailed out the entire show and sent the crowd home on a high note. However, that match is available in full on the Mick Foley DVD, so skip Over the Edge and pick that up instead. Recommendation to avoid.

Assorted May-Per-View Countdown: WCW Slamboree 1997

(I could have sworn I did a redo of this show that wasn’t terrible, but I can’t find anything, so we’re stuck with the 1997 original rant.  Prepare yourself.)  William Shakespeare once wrote of sound and fury signifying nothing. Those were eloquent words. Slamboree was a three hour waste of time that didn’t even have sound and fury to keep the viewer’s interest. I’m not one to toss around phrases like “boring pile of s---” and “total waste of airtime” and “worst PPV of the year” but I think, realistically speaking, that all three apply quite nicely to this insult to the intelligence that was masquerading as a PPV. (Yeah, but Starrcade 97 was still to come.)  Even discounting for the moment the fact that I’m a WWF fan more than anything, I can still watch a show objectively, and this was a really, really, bad show. (My vitriol has died off a lot in the years since, given that I don’t remember a single thing about this show.)  How bad? Well… Opening match: Steven Regal v. Ultimo Dragon (TV title) This was the best match of the card, and that’s not saying much. And it was the start of a pattern tonight, because this was a looooooooong match. Around 20 minutes, I think. Steven Regal is not made for long matches. To be honest, the Militant Canucklehead contingent lost interest pretty quick and turned to discussing the Simpsons while this was going on, so I’m not even going to give it a star rating. (That’ll show them!)  At any rate, Steve Regal eventually hits the Regal Stretch for the submission and his fourth TV title, although at this point you’d be hard pressed to find someone who cares about that title anymore. (Oh, just wait.)  This was a SHITTY choice for an opening match, that much I’m sure of. Madusa v. Luna Vachon (Women’s title) We spent more time making jokes about the implants than watching the match here. Luna has, uh, developed rather dramatically since her appearance in ECW. Both women phone this one in, and that’s saying something considering that neither is particularly good to begin with. Madusa wins with the German suplex, I think there’s some kind of angle involving the championship belt, but who really cares?  (Yeah, that title disappeared right after this.)  Randy Savage comes out for an interview, DDP comes out to accept the challenge, Savage runs away, nWo runs in, DDP takes them out with a crutch, nWo gets the advantage, Giant cleans house. Whatever. This advanced nothing. Savage and DDP don’t like each other. Well, duh. Waste of five minutes.  Rey Mysterio v. some Japanese guy whose name I don’t remember. (That would be someone from WAR named Yuji Yasuraoka, who doesn’t even have a Wikipedia entry and apparently was out of the business soon after this.  Usually when I’m bitchy about Japanese guys I don’t recognize, it turns out to be someone famous years later, but in this case it was just a guy.)  Why the f--- was this on a PPV? For $27.95, you’d think WCW would deign to at least allow the fans to watch Rey beat someone who they know. Stick this crap on Nitro, but not in the middle of a major show. Rey wins, big f------ deal. I mean, I’m as much a fan of workrate as anyone, but I’d least like to see some name guys on a big show like this. Instead I get Rey Jr. against some kid who just had his debut match in WCW last night.  (It was probably a damn good match, but I can’t really be bothered to check YouTube and find out.)  But it gets worse! Yes, it is possible! I may have the order wrong here, btw. Jeff Jarrett v. Dean Malenko (US title) Sorry, folks, but Jeff Jarrett is just not on the same level as Dean Malenko. And this was one incredibly dull match. Jarrett tried the figure four like, 14 times in this match, finally hitting it near the end. The match ends when Jarrett gets tossed from the ring somehow, Steve MacMichael tosses him back in, and Malenko puts him out of his misery. Again, I ask, so what? This advanced nothing. We’re an hour and a half into this drek and nothing of note has happened yet. (Also no star ratings or significant match recaps even.)  This stupid Horsemen angle has been going on forever. Either split up and get back together or something. (They went with “split up” after September.)  And what happened to the big Benoit-Guerrero-Malenko hate triangle that was forming last month? (It disappeared into the vortex of suck that was WCW.)  Where did that disappear to? Mortis v. Glacier At least it was short. They do some stuff, Adam Bomb (or Wrath or whatever) runs in for the DQ about two minutes in. Then some kickboxing guy whose name I didn’t catch because picking my nose was infinitely more interesting than this match saves Glacier. (That would be Ernest Miller.)  Canadian Sensation immediately dubbed him “Chocolate Mousse” and I just call him “Mousse” for short. Next match, please. Meng v. Chris Benoit (death match) At this point, it’s a battle to stay awake. This does nothing to help it. Here’s the synopsis: Benoit carries Meng’s fat ass for what seems like half an hour, selling moves that he shrugs off when anyone else does them, until Meng hits the dreaded Tongan Death Grip for the submission! (Well, you know, you have to put Meng over here because, um, well…)  Chris, this is a heartfelt plea: Go to the WWF now. Call Vince McMahon. Call Bret Hart. Get out before it’s too late. The Hart Foundation needs you. Brian Pillman needs a partner. You can escape the madness.  (Well, Pillman and Benoit can certainly form a team now.)  Steiners v. Konan and Hugh Morris. Glorified squash for the Steiners. I think some kind of face turn by one of the Dungeon members was teased, but I’m nearly catatonic due to boredom so I’m not sure. I’m begging to be put out of my misery by now, but the worst was yet to come… Reggie White v. Steve MacMichael. I take every bad thing I said about Scott Putski back. I would gladly, with a smile on my face, watch Scott Putski from now until the end of the decade as long as Reggie White never, ever, ever steps in the ring again. Ever. He f----- up a clothesline. Twice. He was that bad. It took Mongo 20 minutes, and *two* suitcases, to finally put this idiot down for the count. *I* could have taken Reggie White in two minutes, and it takes Mongo *20*????? This was easily the worst PPV match of the year. (I wouldn’t say “easily”, but this was given WAY too much time.)  The “main” event: Roddy Piper, Ric Flair, Kevin Greene v. the Outsiders Oh, god, please let it end. I don’t care if Sting doesn’t come down from the rafters, or if Mr. Perfect doesn’t debut, just LET IT END. (I feel the same way about this rant.)  Here’s the rundown: nWo member comes in, poses, points to a face. Face comes in, poses, points to an nWo member. Repeat for 10 minutes. Insert Syxx’s very gay-looking move (you know the one) which draws a “Faggot” chant from the crowd. (And to think that WWE would make the broncobuster into a major spot for him and GOT IT OVER.)  Ref bump, pier-six brawl, nWo goes down, Nick Patrick comes in, counts the pin on all three nWo members at the same time. Match over. Thank god. Tony and Dusty are gushing about how it’s a major win for WCW, as though this show actually meant something. And that’s it. Roll credits. No Sting, no Hennig, no Raven, no Luger, no Hogan, no point. Thumbs down doesn’t even do this justice. There was nothing, absolutely nothing, memorable about this tripe. I could hardly even remember what matches took place ten minutes after watching it.  (Let alone 15 years later.)  And the scary thing is, I’m sure this won’t even be the harshest review of the show on the ‘net tonight. I’m going to go watch some ECW now to wake myself up… (I’m pretty sure that given a proper review today, this show would come off more as a “thumbs in the middle” deal, but the lack of star power here was really glaring and absolutely nothing memorable occurred, so 1997 Scott has a point.) 

Assorted May-Per-View Countdown: A Cold Day In Hell!

The Netcop Retro Rant for IYH: A Cold Day In Hell. With Summerslam 98 a mere two days hence, I thought it apropos to go back to the last time Steve Austin fought the Undertaker for the WWF title. (So that nails down the exact date this was written, at least.)  Live from Richmond, Virginia. Your hosts are Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler. Free For All match: Jesse Jammes v. Rockabilly. Yes, it’s the battle of the New Age Outlaws when they both sucked. Billy has his hair dyed brown for some reason. No heat on either side and Double J’s music gets messed up by the sound techs. Nothing match as Billy controls and hits a DDT out of nowhere to halt a Jammes comeback and get the win. 1/4*  (Astonishing that these two would be the hottest act in wrestling just a few months later.)  Opening match: Flash Funk (without Funkettes) v. Hunter Hearst Helmsley (without heat) BREAK IT…oh, wait, never mind. This was the “in between” period for HHH, after the blueblood thing and before the DX thing. He didn’t even have Mankind to feud with until Canadian Stampede. JR notes that the Hart Foundation bought five front-row seats from a scalper. (They should have just hung out outside the arena, probably would have gotten the same seats at that point from guys giving out comp seats.)  Pretty bad match with zero heat. HHH does his four offensive moves and very little else. Chyna interferes now and then. More boring stuff happens with a nice Funk bump. HHH goes to the top rope (!) but misses. Funk gets a cross-body but picks up Helmsley and goes for the finisher but HHH suplexes him off the top and Pedigrees him for the win. * Chyna drops Funk on the top rope for fun. (Poor Flash lost his Funkettes due to budget cutbacks at this point, a fate that will probably befall Brodus Clay pretty soon, I’d imagine.)  Clips from the UFC re: Ken Shamrock. Ken offers some soundbites on the situation. Mankind v. Rocky Maivia. After losing the I-C title to Owen Hart, Rocky got jobbing duty until coming back as a member of the Nation. (That was actually a good decision, because it allowed Rocky to blow off residual fan hatred of his babyface run.)  Rocky gives an introspective interview about too much success before the match. The Rock is drawing no heat here. Back and forth match, Mankind does a nice somersault off the apron onto Rocky. Crowd is dead. Match is boring. Mankind takes a wicked Rock Bottom on the metal rampway and that gets a decent pop. Rocky goes for the finishing series (no People’s Elbow) but Mankind rolls through a flying cross-body and applies the Mandible Claw for the submission. ** This loss was the catalyst for the heel turn. (And six months after I wrote this rant, they’d be main eventing for the WWF title.)  The original Austin 3:16 t-shirt commercial. Let’s take you back to RAW where we set up Ahmed’s gauntlet v. The Nation. Ahmed Johnson v. Savio Vega, Crush & Faarooq. I miss PG-13 rapping the Nation down to ringside. A very porky D-Lo Brown is also there and is a non-factor. If Ahmed can defeat all three members of the NOD, then they have to disband. Crush is the first guy in and they have a bad match. Ahmed uses a horrible Falcon Arrow for two. JR makes note of Ahmed’s gang roots, which was the prelude to his joining the Nation a few weeks later. Crush keeps signalling for the Nation to run in but Gorilla Monsoon prevents them. Crush goes for the heart punch but Ahmed rolls him up for the pin. Thank god. Savio is the next guy in and is actually looking very lithe here. Savio whomps Ahmed, but Ahmed comes back eventually to take control. It spills out of the ring and Savio takes to him with a chair and gets DQ’d, then destroys Ahmed with the chair. This was a decent segment (compared with the last one). That leaves Faarooq. Very quick match as Ahmed hits the Pearl River Plunge in short order, but Faarooq kicks out at two to a massive heel reaction. Faarooq clips him, Dominator and Faarooq gets the win. About *1/2 total. Ironically, about a month later the NOD would self-destruct, creating the Gang Wars, and Ahmed would join the new and improved Nation version 2.0.  (I just redid this match on Vintage Collection recently, and holy god was it horrible.  I think *1/2 was actually being exceedingly generous.)  More hype for Shamrock v. Vader. Ken Shamrock v. Vader. This is Shamrock’s debut in the WWF and it’s a submission match. (Has Vader ever submitted anyone in his entire career?  Does he even know any submission moves?)  Shamrock has different music from today’s. Shamrock with some oh-so-stiff kicks that were likely real. (That was actually a real problem with Shamrock in his early days, as he had trouble with worked strikes and needed to work with people who could get him adjusted to wrestling.  Oddly, no one told him that he didn’t know how to work and then buried him for months.)  Good thing he doesn’t do those anymore, otherwise there’d be muscle bruises all through the WWF. (People might have to get prescription painkillers!) They seem to be having trouble working together, which is understandable. Shamrock goes for a few submission holds which the crowd isn’t digging. Ken does take a nice bump as Vader suplexes him over the top rope to the floor. Vader bleeds hardway from the nose from a stiff Shamrock shot. Vader seems legit pissed at Shamrock because of it. (Now he knows how 60% of his opponents felt towards him.)  Vader gets the advantage and goes for the Vadersault, but Shammy barely moves out of the way. Shamrock with more submission moves and then starts pounding Vader in the corner with mega-stiff shots and Vader nails him with a legit-looking right to the head in retribution. Shamrock quickly grabs the leg for the ankle-lock and submission. **1/2 A less-than-thrilling debut for Shamrock. Vader is legitimately injured by the ankle-lock and limps out with help from the referee.  (Sounds like an interesting trainwreck, actually.)  WWF title match: The Undertaker v. Stone Cold Steve Austin. Austin is only really, really over at this point as opposed to the levels he’s at now. The Harts make their way to ringside as UT and Austin do the staredown. Brawl to start and then Undertaker takes over. Long side-headlock from Austin. UT breaks free and Austin goes to work on the leg. Austin wraps UT’s leg around the pole and then lips off the Hart Foundation. Back in the ring and Austin continues kicking at the leg, including an STF. Ross notes that if Lawler ever moved out of Memphis he might learn some more holds. Oooooo. More working on the leg from Austin, then Austin gets tossed outside the ring and Undertaker goes to work on *his* leg. Well, they’ve got the psychology thing down pat. Undertaker viciously stomps the braced leg of Austin. (Why didn’t more people do that, I wonder?  Dude wore a target on his knee for YEARS and no one ever really went for it.)  Austin responds with a spinning toehold, and goes back to work on UT’s leg. UT tries the ropewalk and Austin drops him on the top rope. Superplex blocked by UT, but his big elbow misses. Double whip, sleeper and Austin counters with a jawbreaker. Austin gets put in the corner and rears back with the field goal to the Undertaker’s…uh…creatures of the night. UT with his own lowblow (big pop), chokeslam, but Austin rolls to the ropes. Austin snaps UT’s neck off the top rope, Stone Cold Stunner, but Brian Pillman runs over and rings the bell so Hebner doesn’t count. Zombie situp, whip, reversal and UT goes for the tombstone, Austin reverses for his own, but Undertaker reverses AGAIN and hits it this time for the pin to retain. This was actually a really good match. *** (Note that they made sure to make Austin look like a legitimate threat before jobbing.)  The Harts beat the hell out of the Undertaker after the decision, and Austin uses the moment to dump Bret out of his wheelchair and steal his crutches in order to make the save. The faces clean house and the Harts retreat. Then, in one of *the* defining moments for Austin, he jumps UT from behind and stuns him, just because he can. Fabulous. The Bottom Line: Main event was a good piece of the Austin-Hart storyline, but the rest was pretty forgettable crap. The WWF was in a major rut at this time outside of the awesome Hart Foundation saga, and it showed as they missed Shawn tremendously. Recommendation to avoid, and see you at Summerslam!  (This sounds like an interesting show on paper, actually, with Rock v. Mankind, Austin v. Undertaker and Shamrock v. Vader all on one two-hour show.  Might have to track it down and give it another go sometime.) 

Assorted May-Per-View Countdown: WCW Slamboree 1996

The SmarK Retro Rant for WCW Slamboree 96 – Into the home stretch of WCW PPVs now, as we wrap things up with Slamboree ’96 (which I didn’t order back in the day and have only watched once since then) and then finish off with Road Wild ’99 (which I watched live, but was very drunk while doing so). And then that’ll be every WCW PPV ever, in the bag.  (I used to have a LOT of time on my hands.)  – Live from Baton Rouge, LA – Your hosts are Tony, Bobby & Dusty. – This of course is the last, and worst, iteration of Dusty Rhodes’ original “Battlebowl” idea, with “random” drawings forcing people to team up, with winners advancing until there’s 8 people left for a battle royale to crown the “Lord of the Ring”. – Opening match: Road Warrior Animal & Booker T v. Road Warrior Hawk & Lex Luger. Let’s see if Booker can carry three guys at once. Oddly enough, Hawk & Animal have different variants on the same “Iron Man” ripoff. Luger was in full babyface mode at this point, in preparation for the impending nWo invasion. Animal starts with Luger and they do the dramatic lockup in the corner, before Luger stomps away. Powerslam, but he doesn’t cover. Animal works him over in the other corner, and gets his own powerslam. Luger gets a suplex, which is no-sold, and Booker comes in to work on Luger’s arm. Charge hits boot, and Luger gets a clothesline out of the corner to take over again. Okay, we’ve obviously mastered the punching and kicking, let’s move into the 20th century now. Booker misses an elbow but recovers with a Spinarooni and sidekicks Luger. That gets two. It’s funny – WCW marketed Booker as a viable contender while ignoring the marketing possibilities of the Spinarooni, while the WWE markets his catchphrases while ignoring the viability of him as a contender. That pretty much sums up their differences in a nutshell. (And that’s why one is still here and one is gone.)  Axe kick gets two. Partners Hawk & Luger get into a fight, which leads to a pier-six brawl, and Luger runs away from the fight. It’s a double-countout at 6:55, which eliminates both teams from the tournament. That is so incredibly stupid that it can only have come from WCW. Horrible match, filled with bad wrestling. DUD – The Public Enemy v. Kevin Sullivan & Chris Benoit. This match really stretches the bounds of credibility as far as random drawings go. (It’s also pretty f------ depressing that 3 out of the 4 are dead.)  I mean, at least back in the early 90s (which I recently learned from the source that it WAS booked in advance, not truly random) (Wait, a wrestling event is predetermined?  HUBBA-WHAAAA?!)  the teams were suitably bizarre and thus seemed random. Benoit starts with Rocco Rock and gets pounded, and Rock hits him with a headscissors. That turns into a shoving match and stalling follows. Rocco gets a rana as Dusty and Bobby have a funny discussion about what would happen if they were partners. A second rana is reversed into a powerbomb by Benoit. He pounds away and brings Sullivan in, which turns the match into a brawl. That’s smart, because 3 out of the 4 guys aren’t good for much else. Sullivan pounds on Rocco with a chair, but gets put on a table. Benoit cuts off a dive by Rocco with a clothesline, but gets suplexed out of the ring. Sullivan and Johnny Grunge keep fighting on the floor, but Sullivan and Benoit both end up on the table, and the Public Enemy dive onto it, putting Benoit through when Kevin moves. Back in, Rocco gets the pin on Benoit at 4:44. This could have been SO much more if they had booked it like one of the crazy brawls both teams were known for. 1/2*  (Why the f--- would they put Public Enemy through to the next round anyway?  Who booked this crap?)  – Sgt. Craig Pittman & Scott Steiner v. Rick Steiner & The Booty Man. I’ve had nightmares involving these four guys wrestling each other. I mean, seriously, Rick Steiner and BRUTUS BEEFCAKE? Is that someone’s idea of a sick joke? Kimberly is playing Brutus’ “booty babe” as a result of DDP jobbing to him at Uncensored. So there’s at least one (or two) things to watch here. Pittman and Booty start, and do a ridiculously bad mat- wrestling sequence. Pittman headbutts him low to end that charade, and Scott Steiner, who was not yet the Big Bad Booty Daddy and thus couldn’t really be confused with The Booty Man at that point, comes in with a butterfly powerbomb for two. For some reason he tags Pittman back in, as Booty tags out to Rick. Pittman pounds on Rick, who cheerfully no-sells everything and powerslams him. Pittman gets a german suplex, but Rick comes back with a Steinerline and Pittman decides that cowardice is the better part of valor and tags out to Scott. This actually gets the crowd going, and Scott takes Rick down with a fireman’s carry. Rick responds with a side headlock, but Scott goes behind to control on the mat. They do some mat-wrestling, and Scott gets a side suplex, but Rick gets a Steinerline. Scott suckers Rick into checking on him, and cradles for two. Scott gets a full-nelson, but Rick reverses to a german suplex and goes up. Scott follows and superplexes him, but Rick tags out to Booty to end the awesome. So we get Booty v. Pittman again and Pittman works on the arm, into the cross- armlock. Booty tags Steiner to escape the hold (which isn’t actually legal), and Rick suplexes Pittman for the pin at 8:21. Oh man, that stuff with the Steiners fighting in the middle was shaping up to be one of the best matches of the year given some time and a proper match. (Sadly the eventual Steiners clash was junk, as Scott was too far gone to have a great match and Rick didn’t give a s--- anyway.)  The rest was junk, so it evened out. **3/4 I briefly considered giving it another 1/4* in celebration of Kimberly leaving her bra in the dressing room, but then we’ve already seen her naked anyway. – Lord Steven Regal & Squire Dave Taylor v. Hacksaw Duggan & VK Wallstreet. Amazingly, it’s another combination of archenemies facing regular tag team partners. Oddly enough, Mike Rotundo was playing a Wallstreet spoof of Vince McMahon 4 years before the WWF went public. Duggan and Regal start and we get a posedown-slash-stallfest. I’ll leave it as an exercise to the reader to guess who does what. Regal gets a cheapshot, but Duggan hiptosses him. Clotheslines send Regal running to the corner, and tags abound. Taylor and Regal work over Wallstreet’s arm, but he fights back with forearms. Duggan and Wallstreet can’t get the teamwork going, however, and Regal takes advantage with a beatdown on Duggan in the corner. Duggan & Regal collide, but Wallstreet won’t take the tag. Duggan makes his own comeback, including nailing his own partner, and uses the ATHLETIC TAPE OF DOOM on Taylor for the pin at 3:49. Short and bad. 1/4* – Dirty Dick Slater & Earl Robert Eaton v. Alex Wright & Disco Inferno. Disco ducks away from Slater to start, in order to save the hair. Dancing follows. Slater chops away, prompting Disco to tag out. Eaton slugs away on Wright, but he fires back and gets a hiptoss and bad headscissors. Leg lariat gets two. Slater comes in with a neckbreaker, but Wright escapes a piledriver and Disco cleans house. Was that supposed to be the hot tag? It’s breaking loose in Tulsa and Wright dumps Eaton, but Slater nails Disco with his boot and gets the pin at 2:56. Yeah, okay. DUD – DDP & Barbarian v. Meng & Hugh Morrus. This show gets better and better. Speaking of Hugh, I was watching bits and pieces of Confidential, and listening to him yelling at kids about how they’ll never make it in the WWE was kinda surreal. I mean, this is HUGH FREAKIN MORRUS telling someone that THEY don’t have what it takes to make it. All they need now is HHH to come out and tell the kids that they don’t know how to work. (Well, he is running developmental now, so that’s probably closer to reality than we’d like.)  DDP grabs a headlock on Morrus to start, but gets dumped. Hugh follows with a pescado and misses by a mile. Back in, Page gets a lariat for two and brings the Barbarian in. This leads to the showdown of the Faces of Fear, as Meng starts pounding with chops. Barbarian overpowers him in turn and elbows away, but neither guy sells anything. Barbarian finally gets a back kick to drop Meng, and he presses Page onto him. Meng comes back with a headbutt and Morrus comes in and goes up right away. Flying elbow gets one. He changes his mind and goes up again, but DDP crotches him and Barbarian gets a belly-to-belly superplex for two. That looked pretty bad. Meng comes back in for some double-teaming and Morrus heads up for the moonsault, which gets two. It’s BONZO GONZO and DDP eats a superkick from Meng while Barbarian hits Morrus with the KICK OF FEAR, and since DDP is in the ropes, Barbarian’s pin counts and they win at 5:16. Who booked this s---? They tried, but the universal suck force bound them together too tightly. 1/2* – Big Bubba & Stevie Ray v. Scott Norton & Ice Train. Kill me now. It’s like someone wanted to book Fire & Ice v. Harlem Heat, but decided to replace Booker T to ensure the worst match humanly possible. Why? Who would be cruel and inhuman enough to book such a match? Norton pounds on Stevie, but charges and hits boot. Stevie clotheslines him and brings Bubba in, as Norton does an astounding amount of selling for an astoundingly bad run of offense. Spinebuster gets two. Norton gives Bubba the worst faceplant ever seen on TV, and Juice Train gets a buttsplash for two. Clothesline and both guys are out, as even Tony is riffing on the excessive number of clotheslines in the match. When TONY SCHIAVONE thinks you’re lame, you’ve got trouble. Norton comes back in and hammers on Stevie, but Bubba collides with his own partner and Norton pins him at 3:28. And thank god it’s over. DUD – Eddy Guerrero & Arn Anderson v. Ric Flair & Randy Savage. If there’s any justice they’ll give this a decent amount of time. Arn attacks Savage while waiting for Flair to make his entrance, and Flair adds some punishment on his own partner until Eddy (still a babyface) makes the save. Flair chops away, but Eddy wants to bring it! Liz & Nancy quietly make their way to ringside. Eddy backdrops Flair and dropkicks him a couple of times, but Flair goes to the eye, and then nails Savage for fun. I guess that was a tag. Arn comes in and beats on Savage, with Flair’s blessing, but Macho fights back. Arn keeps pounding in the corner, but eats boot. He gets the spinebuster for two, however. Flair tags back in, beats on his own partner some more, but Eddy pokes him in the eye and chops away. This is wild. Another dropkick sets up a tornado DDT, and Savage comes in and goes after Flair again, while Arn turns on his own partner and DDTs him. Flair gets the pin on Eddy at 4:05. Oh man, that match was amazingly fun stuff and it’s tragic that they cut it off at 4 minutes. ** Liz and the Horsemen give Savage some more abuse on the floor afterwards. – We review the winners and set up the next round of matches (determined by another “random” drawing, with one team getting a bye due to the double countout. Mean Gene and some Hooters girl select a team at random for the bye – Fire & Ice. The rest of the matches are drawn from there. – WCW Cruiserweight title: Dean Malenko v. Brad Armstrong. Tony talking about the “lengthy double-elimination tournament” for the belt (in reality: One match between Shinjiro Ohtani and Chris Benoit) is slightly bizarre given that even in 1996 it was easy to look this stuff up on the ‘net. Also Dean is apparently a youngster. They do some mat-wrestling to start and Brad gets an enzuigiri. They fight over a hiptoss and neither gets it, but Brad armdrags him and Dean bails. Back in, Dean dropkicks the knee and wraps it around the post, going to work on it. He uses an Indian deathlock and gets a backdrop suplex. Brad reverses a fireman’s carry into a sunset flip for two, but Dean goes back to the knee and keeps him down. Stump- puller (now there’s a move you don’t see everyday) and Dean goes back to the knee. He grabs a kneebar, but Brad makes the ropes. Pump splash hits foot, and Brad makes the comeback. Charge hits boot, but he gets a powerslam and goes up for a missile dropkick. He puts Malenko into a Texas Cloverleaf, but Dean makes the ropes. Brad gets dumped, but goes up again until he gets caught by Dean and hit with an Atomic Gutbuster for the pin at 8:25. Crowd didn’t care about any of this, and you can thank Rey Mysterio Jr. for completely salvaging this division from the scrap heap. (Yeah, for all the talk about Eric believed in the lucha style and wanted to revolutionize the business with it and stuff, they were ready to jettison the whole thing before Rey Rey set the division on fire.)  Match didn’t really work, either. ** – Dick Slater & Robert Eaton v. Hacksaw Duggan & VK Wallstreet. Slater hammers on Wallstreet to start while Duggan takes Eaton. Duggan and Wallstreet want to go, but Duggan calls for peace…and Wallstreet turns on him and dumps him. Slater gets a legsweep on VK for two. Elbow and the Slater-Eaton team work him over in the corner, but he comes back on Eaton. Eaton bails and Duggan beats on him outside, and back in Wallstreet gets the abdominal stretch, but Duggan refuses to help out by grabbing his hand. What a wuss. Duggan tags himself back in and pounds everything that moves, and gets two on Slater. We hit the chinlock. Slater & Duggan collide and tags abound. Duggan & Wallstreet disagree and Eaton rolls up Wallstreet for the pin at 4:04. Well, at least it was short. 1/2* – The Public Enemy v. Ric Flair & Randy Savage. Liz throws out Savage’s alimony money into the crowd, so Randy charges out and attacks Flair during his entrance. Security pulls them apart to prevent anything interesting from happening, and TPE wins by forfeit. GIMME A BREAK.  (Seriously, can you imagine how awesome Benoit & Sullivan v. Savage & Flair would have been?)  – DDP & Barbarian v. Rick Steiner & The Booty Man. I can’t imagine this show getting much worse, so there’s always that on the bright side. Just call me Positively Netcop. We’re really rushing through now, so this should be short and painless. DDP pounds on Booty to start, but gets dumped. Tony actually stops to give a logical explanation for DDP’s reinstatement following his retirement match: Since Johnny B Badd left the promotion and thus the match with Booty Man wasn’t for the TV title, DDP was under no obligation to put anything up, either. Okay then. Steiner comes in and pounds Page, but gets dropped on the top rope. Barbarian uses the power of the foot on Rick, but gets caught with a backdrop suplex. Sloppy belly-to- belly gets two, but Barbarian no-sells and powerbombs Rick, for two. Booty accidentally ties up the referee’s attention, allowing the heels to work Steiner over in the corner. Barbarian gets a clothesline, but Rick hotshots him and makes the “hot” tag to Booty Man. High Knee of Death gets two. Rollup is broken up by Page, and Barbarian GETS THE PIN at 5:05?!? From an ELBOW? Geez, is Brutus suffering from that brittle bone disease like Mr. Glass or something? DUD  (Well he did have that facial problem…wait, is this where he becomes the Man With No Face?  No, it can’t be, because he’s Booty Man when Hogan turns on him at Hog Wild.  It’s hard to keep up with Leslie’s gimmick changes.)  – US title match: Konnan v. Jushin Liger. Liger is sporting the EVIL BLACK TIGHTS tonight, but the pink boots sort of ruin the effect. Konnan only has one “N” in his name at this point. Konnan takes him down with a reverse bow-and-arrow to start, but Liger escapes. They do the wristlock reversal spot and lots of RVD-ish flipping results. Liger gets a senton and Konnan bails, which allows Liger to follow with a pescado. Back in, brainbuster gets two. Liger goes into a cross-armlock, but Konnan reverses to a Regal Stretch. Liger goes to a half-crab while the crowd snoozes. They exchange palm strikes and Liger gets the Koppo kick, and they head up. Liger gets a superplex and goes back up with a flying splash that gets two. Dropkick puts Konnan out, and Liger follows with a plancha, but Konnan catches him with a kick on the way down. Back in, Liger gets a fisherman’s buster for two. Konnan gets a whiplash slam for two. Liger reverses a powerbomb into a sunset flip for two. Cradle gets two. Ligerbomb gets two. Liger goes up and lands on Konnan’s foot, which sets up Splash Mountain for the pin at 9:30. Crowd was getting into it by the end. *** – Flair and Arn Anderson are doing an interview, but Steve MacMichael interrupts and challenges them to a match for the next PPV. Kevin Greene comes out as Mongo’s partner. – Battlebowl finals: Scott Norton, Ice Train, Dick Slater, Robert Eaton, DDP, Barbarian, Rocco Rock and Johnny Grunge. This is just a plain old battle royale, with the winner getting a title shot at the Giant. Let me repeat that: The winner of THIS match, with THESE guys, was supposed to get a shot at the champion on PPV. This is why WCW was in so much trouble before the nWo. Usual kick and punch stuff with absolutely no storyline to the match. Page gets booted out by Barbarian, clearly eliminated, but the ref misses it (even though the camera shows it all). Gotta love WCW. More kicking and punching as guys randomly switch dance partners with no rhyme or reason. They should have done a Survivor Series elimination match or something to settle this. Rocco charges Barbarian and gets backdropped out. Slater hits Eaton with his boot and eliminates him. Slater follows him out via unseen elimination, and brawls with Eaton back to the dressing room. DDP dumps Norton, leaving four men. Ice Train powerslams everyone and forms an alliance with Barbarian, then turns on him. DDP Diamond Cuts everyone, and pins Grunge, and Train. Um, WHAT? Barbarian kicks out, however. This is retarded. What is this, the AWA World title battle royale? Where’s Tom Zenk? (Still don’t know the answer to that question.)  Barbarian clotheslines Page for two. He charges and Page gets two in the corner. Page charges and Barbarian gets two. Tombstone piledriver (which looked like it nearly killed DDP) gets two. That was almost an OwenDriver. Sleeper is stopped by DDP going low, but Barbarian gets a powerbomb for two. Barbarian goes up, but misses the flying headbutt, and the Diamond Cutter ends it at 9:36. And the crowd goes apathetic. ** DDP didn’t get his promised title match until more than two years following, at Halloween Havoc ’98, and even then he had to win WarGames to earn that. – WCW World title: The Giant v. Sting. We’ve got like 10 minutes of airtime left here, so this should be quick. Those who give me that garbage about Big Show not being able to move faster and be thinner than he is now should watch his stuff from 1996, when he still sucked, but sucked in such a way that you could at least watch his matches without being embarrassed by it. This would be the point when Sting started growing his hair out, for whoever asked me a couple of weeks ago. Sting tries a bodyblock to start, but bounces off harmlessly. He keeps hammering on Giant and tries a sleeper, but gets shoved down. Seriously, Giant is MAYBE 400 pounds here. Maybe. If he got down to that size again and stayed there, I’d have no problem with him in the main events. Sting keeps bouncing off Giant, and bails. Back in, Sting tries an enzuigiri, but that gets no-sold. Giant charges and Sting tries a slam, but Giant falls on him for two. Giant elbow and he simply walks on him to set up another elbow. Back elbow puts Sting down again and Giant works him over in the corner. Headbutt low and Giant chokes away. Another elbow and we head to a bodyscissors. That’s a pretty smart move, actually. Giant uses the ropes for good measure. That goes on for a while. Giant tosses him and sends him hurling down the aisle, but Luger prevents a chokeslam through the table by holding Jimmy Hart on the table. A REAL man would sacrifice his manager for the greater good. You think Ric Flair would have blinked twice before throwing JJ Dillon out there as a diversion? (JJ knew the deal.  Take the occasional Stinger splash in exchange for 10% of the Flair gravy train.  We’d all take that deal every day of the week and twice on Sunday.)  Giant misses a dropkick and the ref is bumped by mistake, as Sting makes the comeback and gets the Stinger Splash. He keeps hitting them, and Giant keeps not selling them. Giant finally goes down as Luger has Jimmy Hart tied up, but there’s no ref. Sting makes the fatal error of going after Hart with another splash, misses, and then recovers with a flying splash for two. Ref is bumped again on the kickout, so Sting hits him with another splash and gets the Scorpion Deathlock. Luger “accidentally” hits Sting with the megaphone, chokeslam, goodbye at 10:40. Surprisingly good, given that they kept it around 10 minutes to compensate for Giant’s weaknesses. *** The Bottom Line: Well, when the nicest things I can muster up about a show are that some of the matches are “surprisingly good” and “entertaining despite all the other crap” and “they tried hard but still sucked”, you know there’s not going to be much worth watching here. Not the worst show ever, but one of the weirdest in terms of booking, and certainly not one that you’d wanna watch more than once. Strong recommendation to avoid.

Assorted May-Per-View Countdown: WWF In Your House VIII: BEWARE OF DOG!

– Okay, this is the semi-famous Beware of Dog PPV, famous not because of anything that happened in the ring, but rather because storms in South Carolina blew out the transmission satellite feed and left the arena in darkness for the better part of an hour. In order to make up for this WCW-like snafu, the WWF offered a makeup show on the following Tuesday in the replay slot, called Beware of Dog II, where they’d redo the matches missed by the outage. That’s the show I’m reviewing here, as it was a spliced-together combination of the two matches from the first show and the three from the second.  (Insert ROH joke here.)  – Live from Florence, South Carolina / Charleston, South Carolina. – Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Jerry Lawler / Jim Ross & Mr. Perfect. – Free 4 All Match, WWF tag team title: The Godwinns v. The Smoking Gunns. This was taped at the first show. Sunny has her wagon hitched to the Godwinns, who upset the Bodydonnas to win their first tag title a week prior to this. (Sunny as a farm girl hick?  Kinda hot.  Just saying.)  Bart overpowers PIG, but they mess up a double-reverse spot and Billy comes in to work the arm. HOG comes in to break it up, but gets armbarred as well. Bart & HOG exchange wristlocks, and HOG clotheslines him for two. PIG stays on the arm, but now the Gunns work on HIS arm. That goes on for a while, until Sunny jumps onto the apron and gets kissed by Billy. I guess she must have been looking like Chuck Palumbo that night. (That wasn’t the case until a few years after when she was doing that porn site with Missy Hyatt.)  PIG is so distracted by this that Bart is able to suplex him for the pin and the titles at 4:53. If you like armbars, this is YOUR match! DUD Billy’s post-match interview sets up the Gunns’ heel turn and Billy’s eventual solo run.  (So blame this match then.)  – Onto the PPV. – Opening match, Wildman Marc Mero v. Hunter Hearst Helmsley. Mero attacks and they chase, allowing Hunter to gain control. Mero slugs him out of the ring and follows with a dive over the top, then gets a slingshot legdrop for two. Hunter goes to the eyes, but gets KO’d for two. Mero charges and hits the post, however, hurting his shoulder in the process. Hunter gives him another trip to the post for good measure, and then goes to work. Armbar takedown and he stomps away on the shoulder. He pounds away in the corner viciously, and gets a high knee for two. Back to the shoulder, as he surfboards the arm, but Mero cradles for two. Hunter nails the shoulder again and posts the arm, however. Back in, he works the arm using the ropes and stomps a mudhole on the shoulder. To the turnbuckle, and into a cross-armbreaker, but Mero blocks it. Vince is totally out of his league calling this stuff, and I think he knew it. That’s one thing about Vince; once he realized that a new style of UFC stuff was being worked into the matches, I think he knew enough to get out of commentating in favor of JR. (And then once UFC started kicking their ass on PPV, he tried for his old tactic of buying their lead announcer outright.  Thankfully, that one didn’t work.)  Mero can’t make it to the ropes, so Hunter starts cranking on the armbreaker and gets two before Mero makes it. Hunter kneedrops the shoulder, but Mero fights back. Hunter keeps yanking on the arm, however, and bars it with his own knee. Kind of a spinning toehold on the arm. Back to the turnbuckle, but Mero gets a fluke rollup for two. Hunter nails him from behind for two. Hunter stomps the shoulder again and snaps the arm off the top rope. He goes up and nails the arm coming down, and then goes to another armbar, using the top rope for leverage. Attaboy. Hammerlock slam and Hunter goes up again, but Mero crotches him and gets a top rope rana, making sure to sell the arm injury the whole time. Both guys are out, but Mero comes back with a flying headscissors and a kneelift. Backdrop and he’s fired up. He goes up with a sunset flip for two. Dropkick puts Hunter on the floor, but he misses a plancha and blows out his knee. Back in, Hunter goes for the Pedigree, but Sable doesn’t want to watch, and Hunter wants her to. So he yells at her until she gets in position to watch, goes for the Pedigree again, and Mero reverses to a catapult into the ringpost and falls on top at 16:22. Good finish, great match, as Mero keeps selling the arm the whole time. ****  (And Mero’s last great match before injuries turned him into the boxing heel and ruined his career.)  – Meanwhile, Camp Cornette prepares to “drop the bomb” on Michaels later tonight, and Owen Hart gets a manager’s license for one night only. – Okay, here the power goes out. (And if Facebook was around in 96 Gabe Sapolsky would have gone on a nutso rant on it.)  The show actually continued live in the arena in the dark, with all the babyfaces going over. If you want the full experience of watching the show live, turn off your monitor here and leave for an hour, then come back. I’ll wait.                             – Welcome back! – WWF title match: Shawn Michaels v. The British Bulldog. The “bomb” is Clarence Mason announcing a lawsuit for “attempted alienation of affection” on behalf of Diana Smith. As you might surmise, this angle went NOWHERE. In fact, according to Diana’s glorified roll of toilet paper “Under the Mat”, she was supposed to have seduced Shawn but had her advances spurned and sent Davey after him. That’s actually not a bad storyline, unlike this one, which IS a bad storyline. Bulldog attacks Shawn and he comes back with an armdrag and goes for the superkick quickly. Bulldog bails, but Shawn follows with a pescado. Back in, Shawn grabs a headlock and hangs on for two. Rollup is blocked and Bulldog catches a bearhug. Shawn escapes, and gets a rollup for two. Enzuigiri gets two. Shawn goes to an armbar and short-arm scissors for two. Bulldog powers out and stomps away. Hairtoss, and Bulldog hits the chinlock. It goes into a body vice and and a samoan drop. Legdrop gets two for Bulldog, and back to the chinlock as Vince points out that Shawn has never submitted or surrendered in any form. Unless of course you count Survivor Series 92, where he submitted to Bret Hart. (Or 2001, when he surrendered to Jesus.)  Okay, now it’s about 10 minutes into the match, and while they’re doing this chinlock Earl Hebner quite clearly tells Shawn to go home, and Shawn equally clearly starts arguing like a 12-year old, nearly throwing a tantrum while supposedly incapacitated on camera. It’s quite blatant if you know what to look for. (“I wanna go to WCW too!  WAAAAAA!”  Man, wouldn’t history have been radically different if Vince HAD called Shawn’s bluff and let him out of his contract?)  Shawn fights back and was supposed to take a kneelift from Davey on a criss-cross, but deliberately avoids Smith and misses by a foot, but sells it and takes a dramatic bump out of the ring anyway. They can’t even find a replay to show that would explain the bump, and Vince & Jerry are totally at a loss to justify Shawn’s behavior. (I’m gonna go out on a limb and say “Drugs”.)  Back in, Shawn slingshots in with a clothesline that again misses by a mile, and both are out. Another collision, both out again. Shawn makes the big comeback and goes up, and gets a double axehandle for two. Ref is bumped and Shawn gets the flying elbow, but Owen comes in and gets taken out by Shawn. Bulldog stomps Shawn as another ref comes in. Powerslam is reversed to a german suplex by Shawn, but both shoulders are down as both refs count the pin at 17:19. A big argument ensues, but tie goes to the champion so Shawn retains pending a rematch. Shawn’s childish reaction to having the match shortened from 30 minutes to 18 minutes aside, the match was actually quite good for what it was, especially considering most guys today would kill to get 18 minutes. ***1/4 – Okay, now we go live to the Tuesday show. – Strap match: Steve Austin v. Savio Vega. If Austin loses, Dibiase joins the nWo. Austin bails to start, but can’t go anywhere. Austin pounds away but gets backdropped and bails again. Savio uses the strap to yank him into the apron, and then follows him out and pounds away with the strap. Back in, more vicious strappings follow, and Austin bails over the top. Savio fires down with the strap and suplexes him back in. A superkick from Vega allows him to touch three, but Austin goes low. He starts in with the stiff shots from strap, but Savio takes him down and they scuffle. They head out and Savio chops away, but gets sent to the apron. Austin chokes him over the top and suplexes him back in. Austin drags him around for two, but Savio uses the leverage of the strap to whip Austin around the ring and into the turnbuckle. That’s some pretty wicked psychology, by playing up on Savio’s knowledge of using the strap and making it mean something in the match. (The rare case where the person’s specialty match does NOT mean they do a job and/or look like a fool.  Contrast with the main event tonight.)  Savio gets a clothesline with the strap, but Austin dumps him. However, it backfires as the strap is too short and takes Austin with Savio. Savio suplexes him on the floor and keeps strapping him, but Austin comes off the stairs.and gets nailed. Back in, Savio hogties him and drags him to two corners, but Austin legsweeps him down and gives him the leather. Savio comes back with a superplex attempt, but Austin headbutts to block. Savio crotches him and gets that superplex after all. Savio touches three, but Austin gets a wicked spear to stop the fourth. Austin chokes him in the ropes and in the corner, then stomps him down. Austin touches three, but then hesitates for some reason and allows Savio to poke him in the eyes. Hmm. Tombstone reversal sequence leads to Savio tumbling over the top, but when Austin leans over to suplex him in, Savio kicks him in the head. Austin recovers and goes to the top, but Savio redirects him on the way down using the strap and Austin meets the railing facefirst. He sends Savio into the stairs, however. Back in, Savio fireman’s carries Austin around, touching two before Austin uses Savio’s pants to block. Austin piledriver looks to finish, but Dibiase wants another one for some reason. Austin obliges, but Savio reverses. Austin goes to the Million Dollar Dream, but Savio manages to touch two while fighting out of it, and then pushes off the corner to break. Austin stunguns him and chokes him down with the strap, then drags him around the ring. However, Savio sneaks in to touch each corner after Austin, and when they get to the fourth they fight over the strap until Austin “accidentally” pulls Savio right into the corner at 21:22. The finish actually works once it was revealed that Austin deliberately threw the match to get rid of Dibiase. And the match was incredibly stiff and featured neat stuff you don’t normally see in strap matches, plus terrific psychology. Definitely an unappreciated classic, much like most of Austin’s early WWF stuff. ****1/4  (Definitely a case where Austin losing actually helped him in the long run, as it gave him a storyline and an excuse to redefine his character.)  – Yokozuna v. Vader. This was pretty much the last gasp for Yoko’s babyface run, before leaving the promotion later in the year. Slugfest to start, won by Yoko. Stalling follows. They do a sumo challenge, but Vader chickens out and stalls. Again, and Vader balks again. Finally they go ahead with it, and Yoko wins easily and Vader bails. Back in, Vader wins a slugfest but gets taken down and bails. Back in, he slugs away again, gets taken down again, and bails again. They slug it out, and Yoko gets a Rock Bottom and avalanche, into a samoan drop. On the samoan drop, you can actually see Vader doing it all himself. Yoko goes for the Banzai drop, but stops to beat up Jim Cornette. When he goes for a Banzai on him, however, Vader drags Cornette out of the way, and it misses. Vader splashes Yoko for the pin at 8:55. This was like watching the main event of a show from England in the 80s. ½* – Intercontinental title, casket match: Goldust v. The Undertaker. Taker attacks, and Goldust bails. Back in, he hammers away, but gets tossed around by Taker. Clothesline and Taker tosses him, but the lid is closed and he lands on top. They brawl outside, and Goldust eats stairs and has casket for dessert. Back in, Taker legdrops him and they slug it out. Taker gets the ROPEWALK OF DOOM and chokes away. Goldust slams him, no-sold. Tombstone by Goldust, no-sold. He gets a seated clothesline and rolls Taker towards the casket, but can’t shut the lid. Aker gets a big boot, but gets dumped. They brawl outside, and Goldust takes over in the ring. Taker keeps fighting back, but Goldust gets a sleeper. Into the casket, but again the lid won’t shut. Back in, Taker gets the flying clothesline and dumps Goldust. Chairshot is blocked and they head back in, where Goldust gets a powerslam and goes up. Flying clothesline, but he goes for a cover for some reason. Taker fights back and slams him off the top, then tombstones him. Into the casket.but Mankind pops up and puts him out with the Mandible Claw and into the casket at 12:36. I’m amazed two human beings can put on matches this boring on a regular basis. **  (Yeah, Undertaker and Goldust had negative chemistry together.  And Goldust was pretty much at his peak as a worker at this point, so you think he could bump around and get something out of Taker, but no, never could even come close.)  The Bottom Line: The two matches from the original show are both great, and the strap match from the second show is even BETTER, so call this thing an easy thumbs up. I’m not sure if it was ever put on video, but definitely check out the strap match if you can find it somewhere. Strongly recommended. (Not sure what’s been released from this DVD-wise.  I don’t recall Shawn-Bulldog being on any collections, and rightly so unless people are into fascinating trainwrecks.  I don’t see why HHH v. Mero would be on anything, and I think there’s a chance of Savio-Austin being on an Austin DVD but he loses so I doubt it.) 

Assorted May-Per-View Countdown: WCW Slamboree 1995

The SmarK Retro Rant for WCW Slamboree 95 (When I was going through the archives to see what needed to be done for May, I had to check twice to make sure there actually WAS a Slamboree show in 1995 and that I had actually done it.  There was and I had, but given I can’t remember a single match from it, that’s probably not a good sign.)  – Someone requested a repost of this one on my message board, despite my having never done it before. Ah, my fans, gotta love ’em. Anyway, we’ll get back to Japan next week. – Live from Leningrad, Florida. – Your hosts are Eric Bischoff & Bobby Heenan. Tony is off getting his neck surgery at this point (or as Eric might call it, back-leg-front-neck surgery) so we get the dulcet tones of Mr. Bischoff instead. Neck surgery apparently runs in the WCW announce crew, as Bobby was forced to go through it later that year, too. Apparently they were doing some jobs for All Japan on the weekends and things got out of hand during a match with Misawa. – Opening match, WCW tag team title: Harlem Heat v. The Nasty Boys. I firmly believe that if The Nasty Boys had changed their name to The Nasty Boyz, they could have established the trend that was set years later and thus extended their stay in the wrestling world by hours or even DAYS longer. Think about it. Despite the involvement of Booker T in this, the participation of Saggs and Knobs would seem to preclude any subplots involving shampoo, or personal hygiene of any sort for that matter. (Guessing this was written in 2002, then.)  Saggs comes out alone due to an undefined attack on Knobs. Perhaps it involved him stealing a Japanese shampoo endorsement contract, I don’t know. Please keep in mind that if you’re reading this in, say, 2007, these jokes will of course be horribly dated and probably make no sense out of context, but then that’s never stopped me before. (Besides, that’s what 2012 Scott is here for!  To explain the dated 2002 jokes!)  Hell, if Whoopi Goldberg can host the Oscars with HER material, then this is practically Season 5 Simpsons by comparison. Booker starts for the Heat and slugs away, but Saggs clotheslines him and holds off both Heat members. Double-DDT and he gets a shot in on Sista Sherri as well. Pumphandle slam gets two. Stevie Ray comes in for the double-team, but Sags goes low a couple of times. It gets two. Sags goes up with a double-elbow for two. Saggs chases Sherri like a moron and gets caught in the heel corner and choked out by Stevie. Booker gets a forearm and elbow, and hits the chinlock. The SPINAROONI (not yet named) and sidekick (which Eric calls something so incredibly stupid like “jumping front leg back spinwheel kick” that I’m inspired to note the rest of his retarded kick names) puts Sags down again, and Steve comes in with a dropkick. Sideslam sets up Booker’s Harlem Hangover, but he stalls too long and only gets two. See now, this has always been wrestling’s little mini-play about morality and the importance of following up right away, but really to be completely accurate, you’d have to also note that going to the top rope to do ANYTHING is pretty much a waste of time, given the spectacularly bad track record of heels who attempt to do so. Stevie Ray then makes my week by coming off the BOTTOM rope and yet still blows the legdrop. Now THAT’S funny. Eric thinks that this is so brutal that the ref should just stop the match. I not only fully concur with the sentiment, but I also vote the more extreme measure of building a time machine and going back to the 50s to kill all of the parents of the competitors. However, then I’d probably get jumped on the street by a gang of Comp Sci majors who spend their lives arguing that such a thing is impossible due to the precedent set by the Terminator movies. However, I do not personally discount the possibility of an evil computer from 20 years in the future sending back a cybernetically-enhanced Stevie Ray, whose only goal is to have horrible matches and annoy me. (At least I was in a good mood when I was enduring this.)  Sags suddenly starts no-selling (maybe HE’S the evil robot.) and piledrives Booker, as Knobs hobbles out with his indeterminate injury (there’s tape all over him, so it MUST be bad. I’d like to meet the medical personnel they’ve got working back there and find out how I can get a piece of that action — $500 an hour for wrapping a guy up like a mummy every time he gets kicked anywhere in the torso area seems like a pretty sweet deal to me.) He wants the tag! If I’m Sags, I’m thinking “Hey, great timing, I get beat up for 10 minutes and you hobble out like a hero and clean up.” But apparently Sags is too dumb to know when he’s being screwed, because he tags out and Knobs cleans house. Bulldog for Booker, and Stevie gets dumped. Sags then finishes Booker with the Shitty Elbow at 10:52 to win their third and final tag titles. Man, when they announced that it was the Nasty’s final title shot, I was like “Oh, man, they’ll NEVER win now because when does a babyface ever win their last shot ever at a title?” And then they went and won the title, and it was just like Andy Williams doing “Moon River” after all. You’d think that two teams who had as many matches as these guys would break ** one of those times, and you’d be wrong. * – The Man With No Talent v. Kevin Sullivan. Yes, it’s Ed Leslie’s all-too-brief babyface run from 1995, AFTER he realized that Kevin Sullivan was screwing him over as the Butcher, but BEFORE he went right back to him as Zodiac Man mere weeks later to join the fledgling Dungeon of Doom. Of course, later they claimed that he was a double-agent for Hulkamania all along, but then the WWF claims that Stephanie was in on the Vegas wedding and rape all along too, and we don’t listen to them, either. (Obviously time has shown that Stephanie wasn’t exactly putting up much of a fight against HHH.)  This was yet another epic storyline (in a series of them) stemming from the labyrinthine plot of the Evad Sullivan feud, as Kevin sacrificed the Butcher in order to get a win over his estranged brother. Butcher swore revenge, and then to show him that he REALLY meant business, he changed gimmicks.TWICE! First to the Man With No Face, and then to the Man With No Name. The first one was naturally false advertising, and the second is self-contradictory, much like rock groups releasing songs called “Untitled”. Besides, Eric generally refers to him as “Butcher, the Man With No Name” during the match, thus pretty much killing the point of the gimmick right out of the gate. Eric’s credibility streak continues, as he points out what great shape Butcher is in, while he staggers out with a Rikishi-like ass and beer gut. (In fairness to Butcher, by the tie he returned as Disciple he was in much better shape and had an awesome beard, too.)  Brutus starts out with a high knee and they brawl outside. Back in, Zodiac pounds away in the corner and chops away. Sleeper, but Sullivan miraculously escapes with a jawbreaker and tosses him. More brawling, but Bootyman chokes away when they head back in. Sullivan comes back, but Disciple no-sells and gets a chop to the head for two. I thought the Wahoo match wasn’t on yet? Butcher piledrives him for two. Sullivan goes to the eyes (hey, wait, I thought he didn’t have a face? REFUND!) and they brawl out again. Dizzy Ed meets the post, sort of, because he actually hits nothing, prompting Eric & Bobby to note that Sullivan was aiming for the TURNBUCKLE or perhaps the steel cable, “because it’s sharper”. I cannot make this stuff up if I wanted to. Back in, Furface misses a splash, and Sullivan hangs him in the Tree of Woe and finishes with the double-stomp at 5:45. THANK CHRIST! Well, it IS Easter. -*** Then just when you thought the pain was over, King Curtis appears on the video screen to direct Kevin to form the Dungeon of Doom. Why can’t these mysterious types direct the heels to do something useful, like planting drugs in Hogan’s gymbag and telling the FBI about it?  (Or hiding a video camera in his hotel room so they can frame him with a sex tape!)  – Legends Match: Wahoo McDaniel v. Dick Murdoch. This is in black & white, because that denotes things that are old and nostalgic rather than fresh and interesting. Gordon Solie is doing commentary, thus giving Bobby Heenan someone to recycle the material on. Wahoo gets a devastating armdrag, but Dick comes back with a series of elbows. They slug it out, and stalling results. Cheapshot turns the tide, but Wahoo gets him back. More stalling. Wahoo starts pounding, but Dick knees him and stomps away. Murdoch goes up and rides him down with a knee to the neck, and the big elbow gets two. Wahoo chops him down for the pin at 6:18. Smell the workrate! Oh, wait, that’s Ben Gay. DUD – IWGP title: The Great Muta v. Paul Orndorff. Wristlock sequence to start, but Paul retreats to the ropes. Muta takes him down and Orndorff stalls. Muta gets a spinkick (“jump back side kick”) and Orndorff stalls. They work off a headlock, which bores the crowd faster than an X-Pac match. Orndorff clotheslines him, but an elbow misses and Muta gets a dropkick (“jump double kick” I s--- you not) and elbow. (Bischoff’s commentary here reminds me of Sheldon on Big Bang Theory, endlessly correcting everyone because he happens to know a bit more about an obscure subject that no one else cares about.)  Then he hits the chinlock. That goes on for a LONG time, before Orndorff suplexes him and stomps away. The BOOGIE WOOGIE ELBOW OF DEATH sets up another chinlock, this time for Orndorff. That goes on about as long as the Korean War before Muta escapes and misses a dropkick, and Orndorff goes to a facelock instead. Muta comes back with a clothesline and elbowdrop. Orndorff keeps slugging away and a fistdrop gets two. Piledriver is reversed an Muta spinkicks him and gets the handspring elbow for two. Moonsault finishes clean at 14:10. Yes, FIFTEEN MINUTES. ½* – World TV title: Arn Anderson v. Alex Wright. Alex was undefeated but was getting screwed around by everyone in the promotion outside of Ric Flair. Wright gets a quick armdrag to start and works a headlock. That goes on for a while. Bobby, in a desperate attempt to revive obscure 50s catchphrases, notes that Alex has “greasy kid’s stuff” in his hair. Alex gets an enzuigiri (“back leg round kick”) and back to the headlock. Dropkick and back to the headlock. Well, he’s certainly got that one down pat. AA gets a cheapshot to break, but Alex gets an STF after ducking Arn’s version of the enzuigiri. Arn makes the ropes and bails. Alex follows with a pescado, and sends Arn to the post. Back in, Alex goes to the arm, but Arn cheats to win. Spinebuster and he goes to work. Alex escapes a toehold and comes back with a leg lariat (“jump spin wheel kick”), and gets a missile dropkick for two. Arn cradles for two, reversed for two. They collide, and Arn DDTs him back to Germany at 11:34. Not exactly a classic or anything, but it was watchable. ** – Hawk v. Meng. This is bigger than a Surprise Match OR a Bonus Match it’s a SURPRISE BONUS MATCH! Meng slugs away with kicks (“back leg round kicks”) and a clothesline. Piledriver is no-sold and Hawk gives him a neckbreaker, which is also no-sold. Hawk misses a charge and bails, allowing Parker to get his shots in. Hawk meets the post. Back in, backbreaker gets two for THEMONSTERMENG. Hawk comes back, and Meng gleefully no-sells it all like Paul Heyman giving excuses to the bankruptcy court. (High five!  Anyone?)  Clothesline finally works. Fistdrop gets two. Hawk goes up and misses all the way to the floor, and they brawl for the double-countout at 4:40. It’s both a surprise because I expected a finish of some sort, and a bonus because the match is over. ¼* A group of concerned jobbers run out to prevent any further match outbreaks. (I had totally forgotten about this rant and bitchy sarcastic Scott is pretty awesome around this time.)  – The 1995 Hall of Fame inductions are next, as Dusty Rhodes (I know, I’m shocked too), Terry Funk, Antonio Inoki, Big John Studd, Wahoo McDaniel, Angelo Poffo and Gordon Solie are all welcomed in. Angelo’s induction was largely a joke, as he was only invited there as cannon fodder for the Flair-Savage feud. – Sting v. Big Bubba Rogers. Sting brings a table with him. Stalling to start. Sting gets a dropkick and Bubba bails and stalls. He pounds away back in the ring, and uses his emergency backup tie to choke Sting out. What is he, Italian now? (Or Daniel Bryan?)  Sting dropkicks him to escape. Bubba slugs again, but Sting clotheslines him for two. They brawl out and Sting rams him into the folded table and slams him on it. Bubba comes back with the BABY POWDER OF DISFIGUREMENT and they head back in, where the table gets set up in the corner. Sting hits it, but escapes a piledriver. Stinger Splash hits table, however. Bossman Slam gets two. He goes up and gets slammed off, and Sting splashes for two. Clothesline and Sting slugs him down, then puts the table on top of him and double-stomps it to set up the Scorpion Deathlock for the win at 9:36. They should market this show as a cure for insomnia. ½* – Ric Flair & Vader v. Hulk Hogan & Randy Savage. Hogan & Vader start and stall. Vader pounds away but Hogan follows suit and gets a clothesline. Vader gets dumped, and Savage follows with an axehandle. They Megapowers try some double-teaming, but get bowled over by Vader. Flair attacks Savage outside, and back in Savage comes back. Flair Flip leads into a Hogan boot. Cute. Savage dumps Flair, and stalling follows. Back in, Flair goes to the eyes and starts chopping, but Hogan comes in and no-sells the chops. Clothesline, but Flair goes to the eyes again and drops a knee. To the top, but Hogan slams him off and goes for a Dusty-like figure-four. They even do the spot where Arn runs in and gets cradled. But Flair goes to the knee and starts working on it. Vader helps out with a toehold, as Paul Wight stands in the entranceway and looks menacing. That pretty much marks the peak for his career. (Hey now, he went on to win the IC title from Cody Rhodes.  That’s, something, I guess.)  Hogan no-sells a suplex, but puts his head down and gets discombobulated by Vader. Flair chokes him down and Vader avalanches him. Pump splash, but the moonsault misses. Hot tag Savage, who quickly gets decked by Flair, but comes back with the big elbow before Arn pulls him out. IT’S AN AMBUSH, RANDY! Too late. Back in, Flair drops a knee and Vader gets that moonsault, for two. Eric notes that Savage is tougher than Nailz. No way, dude, Nailz beat up Vince McMahon, no one’s tougher than him! (High five!  Anyone?)  Flair chops away, but Savage fights back. Eric notes that only one thing can stop this match, and that’s a pinfall or the marine corps. I think that one speaks for itself. Hot tag Hulk, who pounds Flair and slams both heels. Big boot, but Arn trips him up. Vader splash gets two, but he Hulks up. Arn hits Flair by mistake, legdrop finishes at 18:56. Hey, Flair jobs again, what a shock. Match was pretty fun. *** Angelo Poffo tries to save Savage from a heel beatdown, but he himself gets beaten down to set up a Flair-Savage match for the next PPV. The Bottom Line: This show is so bad that I hear George Bush is going to invade and destroy it for the sake of wiping out terrorism in the world.  (High five!  Anyone?)  Strongest recommendation to avoid.

Assorted May-Per-View Countdown: WWF In Your House #1

The SmarK Retro Rant for WWF In Your House #1 – Lots of people asked in the past why I’ve never done this show, and the answer was probably disappointingly simple:  I just never had a good copy before.  Well, now I do, so let’s get at ‘er. – Live from Syracuse, NY.  Someone better tell Shawn to avoid any Marines. – Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Dok Hendrix (Michael Hayes) – Opening match:  Bret Hart v. Hakushi.  Quite the opener, no?  Hakushi (Jinsei Shinzaki in Japan these days) was actually quite the breath of fresh air in 1995, getting over without speaking English or wrestling WWF Main Event Style.  This of course was far too threatening to those on top and he was crushed by the Clique as a result.  (And then apparently he was reborn as Lord Tensai.)  He was managed by “Shinja”, who was former Orient Express member Akio Sato in white-face makeup. Hakushi grabs a headlock to start and they do a stalemate sequence. Hakushi uses the hair to take Bret down and they exchange wristlocks before Hakushi gets a shoulderblock for two.  To the armbar and they work off that for a bit before messing something up on a criss-cross, so Bret improvises with a hiptoss and armdrags to send Hakushi to the outside.  He sneaks back in and attacks Bret from behind, but Bret pounds him in the corner.  Bret gets reversed with his turnbuckle bump and Hakushi gets a pump splash for two.  He stomps a mudhole and actually gets an early form of the Broncobuster, without the obvious gay undertones like with Sean Waltman.  Bret tries a rollup, but gets reversed to the floor and attacked by Shinja.  Back in, Hakushi pounds away with nothing of consequence and chokes him out in the corner.  He starts chopping and gets a handspring elbow and more choking.  There’s just too much dead space in between moves.  They slug it out and Hakushi uses the good ol’ thumb to the eye and gets a backbreaker for two.  To the top and a beautiful diving headbutt gets two.  He heads to the apron and springboards in with a splash, but misses, and Bret makes the comeback.  Wait for it…wait for it…FIVE MOVES OF DOOM!  Russian legsweep, bulldog, backbreaker, second-rope elbow and Sharpshooter in this case.  He gets distracted by Shinja, but manages an atomic drop and clothesline (with a great 0.8 Jannetty sell by Hakushi) to keep Hakushi down.  Bret hammers away on the ropes, but gets tripped up by Shinja and stops to hit him with a tope suicida.  Back in, Hakushi dropkicks him coming in for two.  “Not this way!” cries Vince.  (Funny, a lot of divas have also cried that at Vince.  Allegedly.)  Not with a dropkick?  Is there something inherently bad about dropkicks?  Bret reverses a suplex and they do an INSANE double bump over the top and to the floor. I mean, they barely even touched the apron on the way down.  Bret goes after Shinja again, and Hakushi hits him with an Asai moonsault that gets nearly 3 seconds of hangtime.  The crowd actually starts chanting for HAKUSHI.  Bret fights his way back to the apron and reverses a suplex in, and they reverse off that into a reverse rollup by Bret for the pin at 14:41. Hakushi’s offense was a bit plodding in the middle, but there was some CRAZY stuff in here that you didn’t see at the time and Bret gave his usual 110% PPV effort.  ***3/4   Bret, however, with another match later against Jerry Lawler, twists his ankle leaving the ring and may be hurt. – Stephanie Wiand (who definitely falls into the “What the hell were they thinking?” file) hypes the upcoming draw for the house.   When Todd Pedophile threw it over to “Stephanie”, I had sudden horrible thoughts of a 16-year old Stephanie McMahon doing interviews with an even SCREECHIER voice.  (And Hunter Hearst Helmsley checking her out?  OK, let’s not go there.)  – Razor Ramon v. Jeff Jarrett & The Roadie.  This was supposed to be a tag match with Ramon & Kid v. Jarrett & Roadie, but an injury (or rehab, I forget which) prevented that.  Storyline reason was injury, though.  Poor JJ – he spent most of 1995 being the only sober guy in the match.  (Well at least now he gets to work with Jeff Har…oh, wait.  Well, there’s also Kurt Ang…oh.  Never mind.  James Storm?  DAMMIT.)  Ramon starts with Jarrett and slugs him down.   Jarrett stalls and tries a comeback, but gets dumped and leads Ramon in a chase that results in a cheapshot from Roadie to turn the tide.  Jarrett gets an enzuigiri and does some strutting, but walks into a blockbuster slam for two.  Roadie comes in with a clothesline (this would be his PPV debut as a wrestler) and drops a few elbows.  Jarrett back in with a sunset flip, blocked by Ramon for two, reversed by JJ for two.  Ramon counters a suplex with a cradle for two.  Roadie comes back in and stomps away, but Ramon comes back until a 2-on-1 situation puts him down again.  It’s odd (although generally the way of wrestling) that the worst of the Armstrong family became the most famous of them.  Ramon does his “I’m going to give you a Razor’s Edge despite facing the wrong way and being 5 inches from the ropes and oh s--- you just backdropped me out to the floor” spot, and Jarrett nails him from behind to keep Ramon out until 9.  Back in, Jarrett goes up with a bodypress, rolled through for two. Jeff dropkicks him for two.  Neckbreaker and he chokes Ramon out, but crotches himself.  That’s normally where Ramon would make a hot tag, but it’s a handicap match, so he makes his own comeback after a double KO. Vince helpfully points out the tape on Ramon’s boots that says “Kid” in 1-2-3 Kid’s honor.  I was thinking that maybe Ramon just took the wrong boots because he was so drunk at the time, but even Waltman wouldn’t get stoned enough to wear banana yellow boots.  Backdrop suplex and it’s a lot of laying around to sell the beatings, but Jarrett tags Roadie in.  He drops a knee from the second rope for two.  That looked botched for some reason. Roadie hits the chinlock, but Ramon comes back with the backdrop suplex from the top.  Jarrett attacks from behind and goes for the knee to set up a figure-four, but Ramon shoves him into Roadie and finishes with the Edge at 12:39.  Well, that was certainly long.  **1/2  Jarrett does the post-match beatdown, but clips the knee and puts the figure-four on the wrong leg. Aldo Montoya makes the save for about three seconds before getting tossed again.  If I was Ramon I’d rather take the beating than get saved by him. (Oh, Pete Polaco, who would I have for the easy punchline in any situation without you?)  Then, OUT OF NOWHERE, Caribbean Legend Savio Vega (back before he had a name) makes his debut and chases off the heels.  Thinking him to be a crazed fan, the police drag him off.  Or it might have been for that little- known New York State law banning grown men from calling themselves “Kwang” within state lines, I dunno. – King of the Ring Qualifying match:  Mabel v. Adam Bomb.  Yes, they actually put this match on a PPV and expected people to like it.  Although Bryan Clarke wasn’t THAT bad at this point, Mabel wasn’t the guy to motivate him to anything special.  Mabel pounds away to start and gets a corner splash, but Adam ducks a second try and slugs away.  Shoulderblock puts Mabel on the floor, although the physics of that wouldn’t seem to agree with the bump taken by Mabel.  Bomb follows with a pescado and they head back in, as Bomb comes in with a slingshot clothesline for two.  To the top with another clothesline for two.  Bryan is working his ASS off here, no s---.  Mabel reverses him into the corner and gets his ridiculous rolling kick and a big fat splash for the pin at 2:08 to completely deflate the crowd. DUD  Vince might have taken a hint from that in later years, but we were still on the verge of the Mabel Mega-Push at this point.  Remember – no matter how bad A-Train is, remember that some of us had to live through MABEL.  (And now we have to live through A-Train AGAIN. But with FACIAL TATTOOS this time.)  – Meanwhile, Razor Ramon introduces us to Savio Vega.  His English got remarkably better in the years following. – WWF Tag titles:  Owen Hart & Yokozuna v. The Smoking Gunns.  Ah, the days when Billy was 220 and had a mullet and porn star mustache.  Billy evades Yoko and gets a pair of dropkicks, and Bart comes in and walks into a shot from Yoko.  Owen comes in and gets slammed by Bart, and the Gunns get a double-team for two.  Owen lures Billy back into the corner and Yoko hammers away on him and goes to the VULCAN NERVE PINCH OF DEATH.  Yoko was just getting grosser by the day at this point.  Owen gets a neckbreaker for two.  Billy sunset flips him for two.  Leg lariat sends Billy to the floor, but he dodges a Yoko splash attempt and heads back in.  Owen misses a charge and Bart gets the hot tag (?)  and a slam gets two.  Backdrop suplex and they hit a primitive version of 3D for two.  Bart dives at Owen and misses, landing him on the floor.  Yoko adds a big fat legdrop and Owen finishes at 5:43.  Very rushed – I guess they were running long.  (Can you imagine the days when you had to pay $15 for a PPV that wasn’t even as long as an episode of RAW?  Actually, given how tired I am of 2-hour shows, they should start doing that again.)  *1/2 The Gunns would eventually regain the titles in September of ’95. – Lawler interviews his “mother” (a twenty-something model) to hype the match with Bret Hart later tonight.  Bret reveals that he was faking the leg injury all along.  At least he didn’t give a 20-minute interview afterwards about how he lost his smile. – Jerry Lawler v. Bret Hart.  Bret attacks to start and Lawler runs for the hills, but gets rammed into the table and stairs.  Back in, he keeps begging for mercy, but Bret keeps punching him and drops the leg.  Backdrop and Bret chokes him out, but Lawler comes back with a piledriver.  Bret no-sells it.  If it was Memphis, fans would riot.  Bret bulldogs him and gets his OWN piledriver, which Lawler does not no-sell.  Lawler asks for help from his “mom”, so Bret steps on his head.  Lawler goes to the eyes and slams Bret, but stupidly goes up (jawing with the crowd all the way), and of course gets pounded coming down.  Bret elbows him and headbutts him low, and beats on him until Shinja comes out and runs interference.  Ref bumped and Bret legsweeps Lawler and gets the elbow, with no count.  Hakushi then joins us and nails Bret off the top a couple of times, which sadly the ref misses completely, and Lawler gets the pin at 5:01.  This wasn’t exactly Bret’s finest match, and they’re obviously running long given how rushed this was. 1/2* – Todd and Stephanie draw the winning entry in the house sweepstakes.  (The people who won didn’t end up living in the house, in case you’re wondering.  Apparently it was built in a super-affluent part of the state and taxes were so high that they couldn’t afford to keep it.)  – WWF World title:  Diesel v. Sid.  I’m sure if there’s a hell it’ll involve watching THIS match for all eternity, with New Jack v. Mustafa as your curtain-jerker.  The fans were teased with a Shawn-Diesel rematch for this show before a worked shoulder injury put Sid in his place because presumably there was someone on the planet who wanted to see this match. (I bet Nash got a text from himself telling himself to injure Shawn’s shoulder.)  Okay, it was Vince, but that one vote counts for a LOT. (Much like in the shareholders’ meetings.)  Diesel whips Sid around to start and elbows him in the corner, prompting Sid to bail.  Nash update:  He has currently gone 1:05 in this match without tripping and tearing his quad muscle. (Oh, Kevin Nash, where would I be without you around to use as the easy punchline?)  I think that beats his involvement in the RAW six- man last year.  Back in, Diesel gets two and Sid bails again.  They brawl outside and back in, but Dibiase distracts Diesel and they head out AGAIN. You sense a theme here?  Sid update:  He has now gone 2:45 without jumping off the second rope and shattering his ankle.  (Oh, Sid, where would I be without you around to use as the easy punchline?)  Sid pounds away outside and “rams” him into the post (because I’m not sure “gently places” works quite right in a main event title match) and heads back in for some stalling.  Well, good thing they rushed the other matches to accommodate this classic.  Back in, Sid pounds away with minimal effort (still sucking wind), but Diesel fights back.  Sid clotheslines him and stalls some more. More ogre-like clubbing and stalling as Sid shows why he’s been a draw* all over the world**. (*By “draw”, I mean “not a draw”)  (**By “all over the world”, I mean “nowhere”) Sid goes to the REAR CHINLOCK OF DEATH and can’t even be bothered to do THAT properly (I mean, it makes the Steiner Recliner look painful by comparison) and THEY JUST SIT THERE like that for like two minutes. Sid opts for a legdrop, and that gets two.  Back to the clubbing, and that sets up yet another camel clutch.  Vince notes that a lesser man would have surrendered to this punishment by now.  Well, call me lesser, because I SURRENDER.  Stop the horrible match!  Please!  Diesel breaks loose of the impenetrable hold, but gets chokeslammed.  Powerbomb and Sid chooses to play to the crowd rather than covering.  Finally, he gets two.  Diesel starts no-selling offense and makes the comeback, and Snake Eyes and the big boot result.  Powerbomb gets two and Tatanka runs in for the DQ at 11:41. 1/4*   Bigelow saves, and they actually stretched this feud out for TWO MORE SHOWS as a result. The Bottom Line: This was obviously a learning experience for the WWF, as they experimented with a two-hour show and ended up having to rush through the midcard after a lengthy opener.  Bret-Hakushi is good, take a pass on the rest. Recommendation to avoid.

Assorted May-Per-View Countdown: WCW Slamboree 94

(2012 Scott sez:  A 2-for-1 rant, as the original was the first ever retro rant from 1998, which of course was badly in need of a redo.)  Netcop Retrospective – Slamboree 1994. Okay, given that I was incredibly critical of this year’s effort by WCW, I felt it would only be fair for me to go back and review one of my all time favorite cards, the 1994 version of Slamboree, which was entertaining and action-packed from top to bottom and seemed to mark a high point for WCW, one that they hadn’t achieved since the switch from the NWA to WCW. Of course, this would all change with the very next card, as Hulk Hogan entered WCW and sent the federation (Promotion, you mean?) spiralling into the toilet until the cruiserweights came onto the scene, but that’s neither here nor there. (Pfff.  It was dull, but hardly into the toilet.)  This show came from Philly, and the crowd was decidedly ECW-ish, with Hawaiian Guy in the front row. Michael Buffer does his usual shitty job of announcing the title matches. US title match: Johnny B. Badd (challenger) v. Steve Austin (champion) (I think this was the only time I actually stated champion and challenger in a rant.  From then on I just went with the format of “Title match:  [Champion] v. [Challenger] and let the reader figure it out.)  This was during an ugly period in both guys’ careers. Mero (I just can’t think of him as Badd anymore) was going nowhere as Johnny B Badd and was jobbing to major champions (Rude, Austin, Steve Regal) to make him look like a contender when in fact he was a glorified JTTS. (As opposed to his WWF run, where he wasn’t glorified at all.)  On the other hand, it was during this time that he began to truly show the (arguable) greatness in the ring that was to come. The Hollywood Blonds had split months ago, and Austin had won the US title at Starrcade 93, but was perhaps the biggest non-contending US champion ever, eclipsed only by the recent reigns of Eddy Guerrero and Dean Malenko, in that his shots at the World title were non-existent, as were meaningful feuds. (I’d say pretty much every WWE US champion in the past 5 years would handily win that designation away from Austin.)  Quick: Who did Austin fight at Superbrawl? Spring Stampede? (The Great Muta!) Can’t remember, can you? (I went 1 for 2 at least.)  I rest my case. (MAAAAAAAAAAAAATLOCK!) This match was a very good one, with some mat wrestling in the middle that, predictably, the clueless Philly fans booed. Paul E. had not yet introduced that aspect into ECW at this point. (Hey now, Tony Stetson and Johnny Hot Body could probably rock the mat with the best of them.)  Oddly, Steve has completely changed his arsenal since entering the WWF, for whatever reason. (Injuries and evolving as a worker, duh.)  I think that’s one reason his stint seems much fresher than someone like Vader, who has essentially been wrestling the same match since 1993. (Because he stopped giving a s--- in 1996.)  The most striking thing here: Austin’s hair. He should have shaved it off years ago. It just never worked, no matter he tried, and the Guy Gardner look is no exception. (This is some tremendously in-depth analysis.)  Sidenote: Is anyone else waiting for Austin to declare himself the “one, true, WWF World champion?” Didn’t he actually use that quote on one RAW? If he starts wearing goofy boots and hanging out with a dog named G’Nort, I’ll kill myself.  (Well, in 2001 he started getting pretty goofy…)  Those who have no idea what I’m talking about, be glad. (Comic book reference to Justice League International.)  Okay, match going on, get a grip, Scott. (Jesus, I was already talking to myself back then.)  Super-hot ending sequence leads to several near-falls for the Badd Man, before Austin turns a belly-to-back suplex into an odd-looking pinning combo for the win to retain the title. ***1/2 Legends Match: Terry Funk v. Tully Blanchard. This would be the ersatz ECW invasion of WCW, three years before it happened for real in the WWF. (And then again four years after that.)  The crowd is totally behind the Funker here, and with good reason. Killer match, even Hawaiian Guy’s hat gets it here. Terry uses everything he can get his hands on — chairs, boards, the rampway — to funk up Blanchard. Crowd chants “We want blood!” several times. Gosh, what a surprise. Funk tries piledriving Tully, off the top rope, onto a chair, but it doesn’t quite work. Finally, Nick Patrick just DQs both guys, because it’s not ECW. **** for the match, but -1/2* for the ending, for a total of ***1/2 (I’m really not fond of doing that “subtracting stars for the ending” thing, or at least I’m not fond of quantifying it like that.  I’ve been reading really old-school Observers lately, like around Wrestlemania IV, and Meltzer was pretty fond of doing that sort of thing in his younger and snarkier days.  As I’ve gone on, I’ve come to think of the finish as just another part of the match good or bad, except for extraordinary circumstances.)  Non-title match: Steve Regal (TV champion) v. Larry Zbyszko God, hard to believe Regal has basically been TV champion off and on for almost four years now. Bill Dundee was playing Regal’s butler at this point, for you historical buffs out there. (Maybe Dundee got into a car accident with Regal and didn’t have insurance.)  Regal was a major-league heat machine back then, using stalling and psych-outs to the limit. For those who don’t know the backstory here, Regal made many anti-American comments while being interviewed by Larry Z, in retirement at that point, until finally Larry popped him one in retaliation, and came out of retirement. Did I mention the stalling? You want to see a human chess game, here it is. Regal and Zbyszko (hard to maintain 100 wpm while typing that…) (Thank god for autocorrect now.  Although my typing speed has fallen to about 80 since I’ve switched permanently from the full ergonomic style keyboard of my desktop to a standard keyboard on the laptop.  Just in case I decide to have a quiz later and you need to know that.)  pull out every trick in the book to psych the other guy out. Great stuff. (Yeah, Larry’s stalling, AWESOME, love it.)  The match itself is slow paced (can you guess how the crowd reacted?) but solid. Zbyszko reverses a butterfly suplex into a bridge for the pin, and gets a mega-pop. *** Zbyszko would go on to win the TV title from Regal before permanently re-retiring. (We can only hope.)  – I’ll skip the legends induction, because I edited it out of my tape for time considerations. Bullrope Match: Dustin Rhodes v. Bunkhouse Buck. Pretty weird watching Dustin as Dustin, because he and Goldust wrestle totally different match styles. (That’s because Dustin is a f------ nutjob method actor.)  Although lately Goldust has been incorporating Dustin stuff. (He’s got “getting fired” down pretty well.)  That being said, this was a pretty dull match, saved only by a post-match Terry Funk beating. Dustin won after hitting Buck with the cowbell, if it matters. ** for the match, extra 1/2* for the ass-kicking. **1/2 total. (Ugh, see, I don’t like that method of coming up with ratings.  Either it’s a **1/2 match or not.)  Dustin went on to do nothing of note in WCW, before getting fired for blading at the first Uncensored. Who can blame him for becoming Goldust? WCW World title match: Ric Flair (champion) v. Barry Windham (challenger) The big gimmick for this match was that Col. Robert Parker was promising a 6’2″, blond ex-World champion mystery man to challenge Flair, which was widely assumed to be Windham by everyone with half a brain at the time. WCW didn’t disappoint in disappointing, of course. Indeed it was Big Barry…and I do mean big. The guy had a beer gut the size of Texas here. Hey, it’s called a gym…you might try it sometime. (Cutting commentary there.)  It’s Flair v. Windham, which is always good, but Barry looked lacklustre, (If by “lacklustre” you mean “drunk off his ass and wanting to get the f--- out of there and collect his money”, then yeah.)  and Flair knew the end was near, so both of them kind of dogged it here. But that’s not bad given the talent…it had a lot of wasted potential, that’s all. The Flair Flip actually works here, as Flair nails the often-missed cross-body off the top rope for the pin to retain the title. **1/2 Aside: This was the last appearance of the true Ric Flair. Almost immediately after this match, WCW began a hasty heel turn in order to set up the ascension of the Hulkster to the WCW throne, basically flushing 6 months of character development down the toilet. Flair became a parody of himself, taking on Sherri as his manager and jobbing to Hogan twice that year, the second time sending him into (temporary) retirement. It was a truly sad thing to watch someone as great as Flair turn into a ranting old man, believe me, and a testament to the widely-held belief that the inmates should not run the asylum, of which WCW is a prime example. (Also, they shouldn’t marry the boss’ daughter, either.)  WCW World tag title match: The Nasty Boys (champions) v. Cactus Jack & Kevin Sullivan (challengers) The first of many, many ECW-style matches booked by Kevin Sullivan in WCW, and one of my top 10 favorite matches ever. (Maybe in 1998, but this is pretty far down the list now.  I’m just so tired of the style in general.)  Others prefer the Jack/Payne version of this match from Spring Stampede 94, but I like this one for it’s sheer historical weight. It settled, decisively, two separate feuds, gave Cactus his first major title, and set the template for every match the Public Enemy have since wrestled in WCW. It’s pointless to try to run down the match, because of the sheer chaos involved. Chairs, tables, fire extinguishers, garbage cans, a hockey stick, a camera from ringside, you name it, it was used here. Just utter, unmitigated brutality and hatred for ten minutes. Glorious, and never quite matched by any of these types of garbage matches in WCW since. Maxx Payne settles his score by giving Jerry Sags the coolest guitar shot you’ll ever see, and Dave Sullivan breaks a crutch on Knobs for good measure. Cactus and Sullivan winning the titles was almost incidental to everything else going on, which was a lot. Great booking, great match, the only complaint I have is Dave Schultz’s fast three-count, but he’s a hockey player, so counting that high is a challenge, no? I have since hated almost every other chaotic ECW brawl since, but this one still stands out in mind and is still enjoyable to watch today. One of the few times the Nasty Boys didn’t suck, which is worth ***** by itself. The match gets ****3/4 for the action, and the remaining 1/4* for the booking, for a total of ***** (God, stop with the piecemeal match ratings, pick one and stick with it.)  The only question left in my mind is why didn’t that match close the show? Instead we get… WCW/NWA/International/World/Gold Belt title match: Sting v. Vader. I won’t even get into the headaches that the fabled Gold Belt brought to WCW here, but suffice it to say at this point in time WCW was getting ready to unify it with the real WCW World title and get it out of their hair for good. Sting is subbing for Rick Rude here, due to injuries, politics, and a complex storyline involving a (sort of) title change in Japan. The match itself is #1856 (of 1872) in the eternal Sting v. Vader series, and just about all of them are an automatic ****. This is no exception, but by this time nobody really gives a s--- about them fighting anymore, including myself. Total letdown after the last match. Sting wins after Vader misses the big splash, to claim his 5th World title, although I’d very much dispute that this should be counted as a recognized World title reign. I’d dispute his 4th reign, which was also this version of the Gold Belt. Okay, just for those who don’t know the story, here’s a quick rundown. The Gold Belt, by 1994, was like the biggest inside joke in professional wrestling. Back in 1991, Ric Flair jumped ship from WCW to the WWF, while still NWA World champion. At this point, WCW left the NWA and created their own World title, which, despite the fact they now use the same physical belt, is *not* the same title as the NWA version, by any means. While Lex Luger won the WCW version of the World title, Ric Flair was continued to be recognized as the NWA World champion while in the WWF. Confused yet? You will be. (Clearly I already am at that point.)  Ted Turner bought the actual belt back from Flair, since Flair was the one who actually paid for the belt himself back in ’86 and thus owned it. (WRONG.)  By 1992, what was left of the NWA had stripped Flair of the title and was forced, by financial necessity, to cooperate with WCW again. So WCW arranged for an NWA World title tournament (and World tag title tournament) in 1992. The singles tournament was won by Masahiro Chono, making him NWA World champion, which basically meant nothing because the NWA was just a WCW puppet at this point. (Not so much.  They weren’t doing as well as the glory days, but they were fine without WCW.)  The title itself passed from Chono to the Great Muta to Barry Windham to Ric Flair, losing meaning and prestige by the day. Finally, when it got to Flair, the NWA itself folded and was restarted by Dennis Corraluzo, with no connection to WCW. (Little more complicated than that, but fair enough.)  So WCW no longer had the legal right to the NWA name, and now had a worthless belt. (As opposed to WCW’s other super-valuable belts, like the TV title that Jim Duggan eventually won by fishing out of a trash can.)  Rick Rude won the worthless title from Flair, and it was simply called “The Gold Belt.” It should be noted that the title became absolutely and totally worthless at this point, and any title reigns after this are bogus claims. WCW came up with a (bogus) “International Committee” which then decided to “recognize” Rick Rude as (get this) WCW International World champion. Many observers, myself included, felt this was a load of horse s--- and completely insulting to the viewer’s intelligence. (As noted in a thread recently, this situation actually becomes a lot more normal-looking in hindsight given that we’ve had two “World” champions in WWE since 2002.  Maybe WCW was just ahead of the curve the whole time?)  The 2nd World title was cheapening the real one, however, so before Hulk Hogan entered WCW, they did the wrestling equivalent of shooting the title to put it out of its misery by unifying it with the WCW World title. And it was about time, too. But I digress. Slamboree was, from top to bottom, a very entertaining card, with no match below the “fair – average” area. It was an easy thumbs up at the time, and remains so today. Of course, Hulk Hogan would soon bring Beefcake, Duggan, and the rest of his buddies and totally wreck everything they had worked so hard to build up, but that’s another rant. As always, I remain the net.cop… (Until someone tries to sue Sean Shannon over a frivolous trademark claim.)  The SmarK Retro Rant for WCW Slamboree 94 – This is a long-overdo do-over, of the first ever Retro Rant. The original, needless to say, wasn’t exactly verbose in terms of the match descriptions or details, so let’s try it again… – Live from Philly, home of some indy promotion called “ECW”. Never heard of it. – Your hosts are Tony & Bobby. – Mean Gene introduces the legends – Ole Anderson, The Assassin, Peggy Banner, Red Bastien, Tully Blanchard (with a big pop), The Crusher, Don Curtis, Terry Funk, Verne Gagne, Hard Boiled Haggerty (That is the most awesome wrestling name I’ve ever heard.  You just KNOW that f----- was tough.) , Larry Hennig, Killer Kowalski, Ernie Ladd, Wahoo McDaniel, Angelo Mosca, Harley Race, Ray Stevens, Lou Thesz, Johnny Weaver, Mr. Wrestling II and Tommy Young. – Nick Bockwinkel tries to award the WCW International World Saskatchewan Hardcore European TV Big Gold Belt title to Sting on a bizarre technicality, but Sting REFUSES to win in such a cheap manner and wants it to happen in the ring. Well, 8 years later THAT scenario sure played out different when HHH got involved with it. (Ha!  I write me some funnies sometimes.)  Kudos to Sting, though, for preserving the prestigious lineage of the title. – Opening match, US title: Stunning Steve Austin v. Johnny B. Badd. Johnny has “Philly Rules” on his robe, perhaps to suck up to the crowd and thus negate his incredibly gay personality. The best that the camera crew can do is find some kid with a pathetic little 5×7 Johnny B. Badd sign – man, when even the guys planting the signs turn against you, that’s a bad sign. Bobby brings his lame Philly jokes out of mothballs, so you know it’s a special occasion. Johnny takes him down with an armdrag to start and works a headlock. Steve uses some mindgames, so Badd takes him to the mat and works a 3/4 nelson. Austin escapes and drops an elbow to take over, grabbing a MAIN EVENT SLEEPER, (Bing!  So we’re in 2003 or so for the re-rant.)  which Badd easily escapes. Austin takes a powder and regroups, and Badd goes back to the armbar. Austin reverses to a headlock and they work off that, as Austin keeps overpowering him back to the mat. Tony spreads hurtful rumors of hair-pulling, but I won’t even dignify them. Criss-cross and now Badd goes back to the armbar again, and holds on through a slam attempt by Austin. Austin finally reverses to his own armbar, but Badd uses a headscissor takedown to move back into a headlock. Bodypress gets two. Back to the armbar. Col. Parker’s yelling match with Hawaiian Guy provides the most exciting moments of the match so far. Austin gives him the old knee to the gut to regain control, but gets cradled for two. Badd floats over, back to the armbar. Another criss-cross and Austin KILLS Badd with a double- axehandle to take over for good. Austin starts with the stomping and cheapshots, and tosses Badd to cut off a comeback. Suplex back in and kneedrop get two. We hit the chinlock, and Austin gets two while the fans chant “We’re not hostile”. Well, that’s good to know. Austin goes up and hits knee, and Badd hits a gutwrench suplex. Austin works him over in the corner, but gets backdropped. Badd hiptosses him and gets a rather nasty lariat, and Austin is reeling. Kneelift and Oklahoma Roll, but Parker is distracting the ref. Austin charges and hits Parker, and Badd rolls him up for two. Backdrop and Badd goes up for the flying sunset flip, which gets two. Austin goes to the eyes to come back, but Badd suplexes him, and Austin uses the tights to roll over for the awkward pinfall finish at 16:11. Weird ending, but the match was a solid mat-based affair. *** – Okerlund interviews Wahoo and Ernie. – Legends match: Tully Blanchard v. Terry Funk. There was actually all sort of politics going on here, as Blanchard was promised a larger payoff than he got, and thus refused to do the job as a result. (Blanchard’s story about the whole thing is really interesting, actually.)  Gordon Solie does the honors for this match. ECW was in its infancy at this point, and Funk was one of the reasons for the early success of the promotion. (Plus Paul saved money by stiffing all the talent.)  They get into a huge brawl to start and stiff the hell out of each other, until Funk gets an atomic drop to put him down. Into the ring, Funk gets a neckbreaker for two, and then tosses Tully and pounds away on the rampway. Funk uses a piece of the wooden stairs to nail Tully, and they head in for a piledriver onto it. Looked less dramatic with Terry’s ass taking the bump. They head to the ramp again, and Terry DDTs him there, as Nick Patrick chastises them like a couple of grade-school kids. The crowd wants blood, but it’s WCW, so it’s not likely. Back in, Funk gets another piledriver and goes up with the moonsault, which misses. That gets two for Tully. Blanchard starts pounding in the corner, and they just UNLOAD with stiff shots again. The ref is bumped and Funk gets a chair as Tully bleeds (thus guaranteeing that he wouldn’t return), and Funk sets him up for the piledriver off the top, which kind of fizzles out. Would have been cool, though. Patrick gets rid of the chair while Funk bails, so Tully gives Patrick a shot in the mush, too. They fight over the branding iron, until a DQ is called at 7:14. Good, wild brawl. **3/4 Funk elbowdrops Hawaiian Guy’s hat afterwards to vent his frustrations.  (Brock stole that spot from Funk!  I knew it!)  – Steven Regal v. Larry Zbyszko. Regal’s besmirching of America led Larry to finally retaliate on behalf of his country, thus coming out of retirement. If stalling was an Olympic sport, these two would be fighting for the gold and silver medals. (And if clubbing baby seals was an Olympic sport, Jake Roberts would get the gold.  The things you learn from wrestling promos!)  That talent is put into full effect to start, as they jaw with the crowd and each other. Larry ducks a shot from Regal after a solid 2:00 of stalling, and they stall some more. Larry then shows off his time-tested finisher, the SEVEN MINUTE STALL OF DOOM, so as not to get shown up by the youngster. A spinkick puts Regal on the floor, where he continues his ongoing conversation with the fanbase. Back in, more stalling. Finally, Larry starts working the arm, and reverses an abdominal stretch into a rollup for two, before getting his own abdominal stretch. He even uses the ropes for old time’s sake. Regal reverses for two. They do an armdrag-reversal sequence that ends with Larry getting the move again, and back to the stalling. Larry takes him down with a short-arm scissors and jaw with each other again. Regal responds by hammering on him with forearms in the corner, and that gets two. Reverse elbow gets two. Regal goes to a unique facelock/half-nelson submission as the crowd starts to lose patience with the match. Larry reverses a forearm into a backslide, but Regal counters with a bow-and-arrow to block the pin. He keeps laying in the forearms, but Larry fires back. MAIN EVENT SLEEPER and Regal is in trouble, but breaks with a jawbreaker. Sir William gives Larry a shot with the umbrella for good measure, but he reverses a butterfly suplex into a bridge for the pin at 11:35. HUGE pop for the surprise win. Larry would win the TV title from Regal a couple of weeks later. This was pretty slow, but nothing to be ashamed of. Regal carried most of the match, not surprisingly. **1/4 – Terry Funk reminds us that we’re live and he can say whatever he wants for as long as he wants. Veiled threats to Dustin Rhodes are made. – Gordon Solie hosts the Legends ceremony. – Bullrope match: Dustin Rhodes v. Bunkhouse Buck. Buck attacks to start, but gets hanged by Dustin and dragged into the ring. So much for that plan. Dustin chokes him out and attaches it to Buck’s wrist, and hits him with a bionic elbow and a low blow. Elbowdrop gets two. Buck tries to leapfrog him, but Dustin yanks up on the bullrope and ends THAT rally. He starts pounding the knee with the cowbell and the Philly crowd wants Blood again. C’mon, guys, Rick Steamboat isn’t even booked on this show! Check your programs before you chant. Dustin posts the knee and hammers away on the knee. Not quite the fast-paced action you expect in this sort of match. Buck, ever the pragmatist, simply clobbers Dustin with the cowbell to come back. Now that’s more like it. In true hockey fashion, Buck pulls the shirt over Dustin’s head and then whips him, before bringing him out and introducing him to the post. Then, in a unique strategy, he ties Dustin to the post (and Bobby goes for the obvious joke about being “tied up at the moment”) and chokes him out at his leisure. Dustin fights back one-handed, and then frees himself and cowbells Buck. Back in, Buck goes up, but Dustin hammers him down with a Flip Flop and Fly and slams him off. That gets two. The ref is bumped, because you can never get enough of that, and Dustin suplexes him and chases Parker. Buck and Parker try a little double-teaming, but that of course ends badly for them and Dustin clobbers Buck with the cowbell for the pin at 12:32. Not as good as their bunkhouse match from the month before, with too much dead space and resting. **1/2 Terry Funk (with a towel over his head as a disguise) runs in and destroys Dustin, setting up a fairly lengthy feud.  (My daughter often attempts to disguise herself by putting a towel over heard, operating on the logical fallacy of “I can’t see you so you can’t see me.”  And yet no matter how many times I’ve explained the underlying reasoning problems behind that strategy, she still thinks it’s hilarious when I pretend like I don’t know where she is.  Perhaps Terry Funk’s dad just never had that talk with him.)    – WCW World title: Ric Flair v. Barry Windham. The angle here was that Col. Parker was promising a 6’7″ blond mystery challenger who was a former World champion himself. This was of course supposed to make you think it was Hulk Hogan. It didn’t work. Barry, deteriorated and pudgy, was the plan all along, but the fans weren’t particularly thrilled about it. Windham pounds away in the corner, so Flair responds with the chops. Windham slams him, but misses an elbow and bails. This isn’t exactly the 45-minute draw from 1986. Flair goes for the knee and keeps chopping, but Windham gets the laziest lariat I’ve seen from him in ages, and dumps Flair. Suplex back in and legdrop, but Flair keeps fighting back. We hit the chinlock to REALLY crank up the excitement. Flair starts chopping again, but gets Flair Flipped to the floor. They do some exceedingly weak brawling and head back in, where Windham pounds away in the corner before getting atomic dropped. Flair goes up, but gets superplexed for two. He keeps chopping until Barry falls and then suplexes him into the figure- four. This of course is silly since he hasn’t so much as punched Barry’s knee since the first couple of minutes. Windham makes the ropes, but Flair takes him down again. Windham kicks out of a second attempt, but a third one works. Talk about stubborn. Windham makes the ropes again, so Flair goes up…and hits a move! Call the press! It’s an elbow, for two. Kneedrop and more chops, but Windham slugs back and they tumble out on a botched cross-body. Very few things look stupider than that spot when one guy can’t go over the top properly on the first try. Back in, Flair wants a slugfest, and gets a rollup for two. Windham goes low to turn the tide again, and tosses Flair. That backfires, as Flair beats on Parker and sunset flips in. Windham blocks it for two, reversed by Flair for two. Windham rolls him up for two. They exchange chops and Flair does the Flip again, and finishes the move with a bodypress for the pin at 13:13. So there you go – proof that he HAS made it across the apron after flipping over the turnbuckles. And hey, you know it had to get the pin, since it only works once every 15 years. An unmotivated Windham is an ugly sight, but they pulled it together well enough by the end. ** – WCW World tag title: The Nasty Boys v. Cactus Jack & Kevin Sullivan. Former Flyer goon Dave Schulz is the special referee, and this is falls count anywhere. It was original supposed to be the Nasties losing the belts to Kevin & Evad, but a knee injury gave Cactus a shot at his first major title. It’s an insane brawl from the opening bell, as Sullivan drags Knobs out and Sags beats on Cactus. Kevin uses a crutch while Sags and Jack fight into the crowd and security frantically tries to keep the crowd back. Sags moves down the aisle, while Sullivan dropkicks Knobs in the ring. We move to the entrance, as Kevin piledrives Knobs on the ramp and Cactus hits Sags with a (full) trashcan. Now THAT’S how you do it. Another shot with the can puts Sags down, and Sullivan joins in the fun. Tony & Jesse are almost speechless. Knobs gets put on the can at ringside, and Jack comes off the top, but misses and elbowdrops the trashcan instead, flattening it. Knobs BOUNCES the remains off his head, just delivering brutal shots with it. Sags whips him with a camera, and Knobs uses a good old chair, delivering sick, unprotected shots to the head with it. The flattened trashcan is just brutal as they swing away with it without regard for their own safety. Cactus clotheslines Knobs back into the ring, and Sullivan hits him with another chairshot. Sags decides to get the tables (this of course was before the days when they were standard issue ring equipment) and biels Jack off the ramp, through the table. That was pretty heavy stuff for 1994. Jack, of course, is too stupid to stay down, and takes some abuse from a light stand, too. At ringside, Sullivan and Knobs beat on each other, and Jack drops the remains of the table onto Sags. Sags shatters a piece of the table on Jack, and Sullivan and Knobs head down to join in the party. A fire extinguisher gets used off-screen, as the bad lighting and overwhelmed cameramen miss it. But you know what? It’s actually improved by having that look and feel, because you get the “bootleg classic” kind of vibe, like an underground video that you shouldn’t be watching. (Like NXT but with even less viewers.)  They finally head back to the ring, with Cactus busted open, and Sags goes up for the Shitty Elbow, but gives Dave Schulz attitude instead of covering. He grabs the hockey stick, but that’s DAVE’S stick, and it results in a pummelling from the ref and a shot from Jack with the stick for a fast count and the World tag team titles at 9:33. An absolutely brutal classic, which set the template for ECW’s entire tag team division for years following. Maxx Payne comes out and gives Sags the MOTHER of all guitar shots to get his final revenge on the Nasties, and when Knobs backs away peacefully, Evad Sullivan hobbles out and nails him with the crutch, too. And THAT is how you blow off a feud. ***** – WCW International World Saskatchewan Hardcore European TV Western States Heritage title: Sting v. Vader. This was originally booked as Vader v. Rude for the title, which was going to set up Rude’s push to the top of the promotion for a presumed run against Hulk Hogan. He was injured against Sting in Japan, however, and never wrestled again. (Although he was trying to just before he died.)  Sting and Vader have a stalemate to start, as Sting ducks and dodges. The always classy Philly fans inform us that “Sting must die”. (Philly was fine with Sting when he was there for Bound For Glory, so obviously they’ve forgiven him since then.)  Vader obliges, beating Sting in the corner until he sees Jebus. Sting fires back and Vader leaves to regroup. Back in, Sting gets a rather dramatic delayed vertical suplex and stomps away, and then they do the old “battle of the bulls” collision, which Vader wins 2 falls to 1, and then he goes up for the pump splash. That gets two. Another one gets two. Vader grabs a leglock for some reason and pounds on the back. Back to the leglock as we slow things down a lot. Sting fights out and drops an elbow, and both guys are down. Vader recovers first and drops his own elbow for two. Sting comes back and dives at Vader, but misses and bumps the ref. Vader chokeslams him for the visual pinfall, but Race gives Vader an accidental chairshot (a weak one, too) and Sting DDTS Vader for two. Sting dumps Vader and suplexes him back in, and then clotheslines him right out again. Geez, man, make up your mind. Vader comes in, walks into a Stinger Splash, but out-thinks Sting by catching the move and powerslamming him to counter. This sets up the moonsault, which misses, as Sting was playing possum, and Sting gets two. Race headbutts his own man by mistake, and a flying splash finishes for Sting at 13:51 to give him the title back. Another quality Vader-Sting outing. ***3/4 The Bottom Line: One of my favorite WCW shows ever, featuring quality matches up and down the card and no bad matches. The Philly atmosphere (despite a very small crowd) made for a super-hot show, and the tag team title switch is a classic that still holds up today due to the tremendously stiff shots delivered and Jack’s insane bumping. Highly, HIGHLY, recommended.

Assorted May-Per-View Countdown: WCW Slamboree 1993

The Netcop Retro Rant for WCW Slamboree 1993 (2012 Scott sez:  This was actually the first PPV I had ordered after getting “smartened up to the business” by RSPW once and for all.  By that time, the PWI Weekly newsletter was all but breaking kayfabe anyway because it was getting ridiculously difficult to spin stuff like the Freebirds’ negative title reign any way but basically coming out and saying “wrestling is fake”.  And this show sure cemented that.)   Live from the Omni in Atlanta, GA, wherever the hell that is. Your hosts are Tony and Larry, both of whom are remarkably on-topic and coherent (cf. today) Maxx Payne mangles the Star Spangled Banner on his guitar. This was odd at the time because Maxx was a heel. Opening match: Bobby Eaton & Chris Benoit v. 2 Cold Scorpio & Marcus Alexander Bagwell. Now, before you go getting all excited here, there’s some caveats: Caveat #1: Benoit was a glorified jobber back in 1993 Caveat #2: Bagwell & Scorpio were the ones getting the push Caveat #3: Eaton did most of the wrestling Caveat #4: The match was built around making Bagwell look good, and this was waaaaaaaaay pre-Buff. With all that in mind, it was a standard, Mickey Mouse opening tag match. This was before the era of Johnny B Badd having to be in every opening match on WCW’s PPV shows, as well. Benoit & Eaton play the typical cowardly heel team, with Benoit getting a chance to show absolutely nothing but his penchant for selling anything for anyone. (Benoit and Eaton actually would have been a HELL of a modern Midnight Express as far as in-ring goes.  Chris could pull off the flashy tights and everything.)  It should be noted that at this time, Raven was a light heavyweight contender named Scotty Flamingo. I s--- you not. (What?  Shut up!  You’re LYING!  Stop lying!)  Most of the match is Eaton v. Bagwell. Ugh. Bagwell sucked s--- more than just about anyone else outside of Van Hammer at this time, and we get to see him later, too. (Eh, he was green and overpushed, but not bad as such.)  Semi-hot ending as a big brouhaha erupts and a bunch of near-falls before Scorpio hits the Tumbleweed (one guess who jobs) for the pin. (Well, Benoit wasn’t even a regular guy at that point, why wouldn’t he job?  The goal was to get Bagwell and Scorpio over anyway.)  Bagwell and Scorpio would go on to win the World tag team titles in October. Yes, it’s 1993 WCW, where our motto is “We’ll push anybody!” (Especially if you’re black and suing us.)  ** Van Hammer v. Col. Parker’s Mystery Man. Col. Rob Parker had made his debut a couple of weeks beforehand and was pissing on Van Hammer’s leg (figuratively speaking, of course) because he wouldn’t join his stable. Hammer slapped him around a bit, and Parker promised a big payback for Hammer because of it. And who should Parker bring out but Sid Vicious! This was a huge shock at the time and the crowd pops big for it. (So big that Vicious nearly rode this push all the way to the World title.)  And the rout is on, as Sid dismantles and powerbombs ol’ Van in 30 seconds, legitimately injuring him and humiliating him so badly that he has no choice but to become a transvestite and join a creepy band of quasi-homosexuals after sitting out of wrestling for 4 years. *Sniff*, I still get weepy when I think about what a service Sid did for wrestling here… but the match is a DUD (Kind of a funny storyline progression if you think about it, as Hammer was the one who got wronged by the heels and was standing up for himself, and got DESTROYED as a result.  BE A STAR, Sid Vicious!)  Don Muraco & Jimmy Snuka & Dick Murdoch v. Wahoo MacDaniel & Blackjack Mulligan & Jim Brunzell. Yes, it’s as bad as it sounds. Tony spouts history like Mike Tenay and Jim Ross on speedballs. The sole high spots come from Capt. Redneck of all people. Respect for the legends is one thing, but you’re out of your f------ mind if you give these geezers 10 or 12 minutes to shuffle around the ring and only 7 or 8 to the opening tag match. A big brawl erupts and it’s declared a no-contest because of oxygen deprivation. 1/2* for the flying headscissors Dick does. (Given it was only 93 I’m not sure this was as bad as 98 Scott is making it out to be.  Murdoch was still pretty OK at that point, and Snuka was only 2 years removed from the WWF run, and Wahoo didn’t age until the day he died, so it might have been decent.  Probably was way too long, though.)  Baron Von Rashke & Ivan Koloff v. Thunderbolt Patterson & Brad Armstrong. Brad is taking the place of father Bob, who is supposedly injured here. Since when do commies and Nazis team up? (The lost Depression-era season of 24?)  Another s--- match in a series of them tonight, as Koloff and the Baron are older than dirt. Hey, the legends’ reunion might look like a good idea on paper, but it’s no fun actually sitting through the matches. Thunderbolt uses a LAME double-chop for the pin. -** A Flair For The Gold: Flair introduces one of the single STUPIDEST F------ IDEAS in the history of stupid ideas, namely promising the original Horsemen reuniting and then delivering PAUL F------ ROMA. This was SUCH a brainfart on somebody’s part and almost totally ruined the Horsemen name. I mean, NOBODY bought this former jobber as a member of the “most elite team in wrestling” for 2 seconds. It’s stuff like this that frankly leaves me shocked that WCW even survived 1993, let alone went on to become as big as they did. (Yeah, blatant false advertising on their part, as they were literally promising the original Horsemen lineup for weeks and then couldn’t get Tully Blanchard, so instead we got Paul Roma.)  Johnny Valentine joins us for commentary. Dory Funk Jr. (w/ Nick Kiniski) v. Nick Bockwinkle (w/ Verne Gagne). Speaking of brainfarts, here’s Verne Gagne, who didn’t think putting the World title on Hulk Hogan was such a great idea. Hey, Verne, where’s the AWA now? Man, talk about the stupidest move ever…I mean, how hard is it to note that the guy was OVER? Did it never occur to him that maybe when you fake putting the title on the guy and the crowd nearly RIOTS that maybe you should actually give him a run as World champion? Do you think he can draw, Verne? I mean, hindsight is 20/20 and all, but you’d have to be seriously retarded not to notice that there’s a seriously huge fanbase worshipping this guy. Ask Vince McMahon…Verne let him go and like 4 seconds later Vince puts the belt on him and lets him do his thing for *4 years*. How do you NOT see that kind of star potential? How do you miss that kind of glaring, golden, supermodel-lying-on-your-futon-naked kind of opportunity and NOT go out of business 5 years later? Okay, I’m ranting again now. (I’m thinking maybe Verne should have put the World title on Hogan, then?)  Back to the match. Larry manages to work in the “I retired Bockwinkle” comment a record 4 seconds into the match. Way to go, Larry. Decent, solid, mat wrestling match which bored the s--- out of me, but I can recognize good wrestling when I see it. 15 minute draw. **1/2 I just don’t want to watch it, that’s all. And I hate Dory Funk Jr. for other reasons. (No I don’t, that was just a very long running joke.)  US champ Rick Rude & TV champ Paul Orndorff v. Dustin Rhodes & Kensuke Sasaki. Worthless time-filling arm-dragging crowd-playing f------ boring horseshit featuring my least favorite Japanese wrestler at the time, if only because I didn’t yet know who Gedo was. At least he jobbed to Rude in this one. DUD  (Wow, calm down, cranky-pants.)  Sting v. “The Prisoner”. The parade o’ crap continues. This was supposed to be Sting v. Scott Norton in a bounty match, but Norton bailed out of WCW so we get Sting v. The Man They Can’t Call Nailz for Legal Reasons. Here’s the match: Choke, choke, choke, choke, choke, choke with a cable, kick, punch, Sting comes back, clothesline, pin. One of the worst pre-Crow Sting matches you will EVER see, I guarantee. -***, which is saying something because I don’t usually bother with negative stars. (Since when?)  And you know what…it was STILL BETTER than Sting v. Hogan from Starrcade. Go fig. (Oh come on now.)  The Hollywood Blonds v. Los Dos Hombres (WCW/NWA World tag title match). THE MOTHERSHIP IS CALLING ME HOME! My gods, my lords, my saviors, Steve Austin & Brian Pillman in the waning weeks of their greatness before WCW f----- them over. I relish each opportunity I can get to watch them tower over every other pathetic team WCW put together to try and deny that these guys were legitimately over. (I don’t think WCW was actually denying that they were over.  They just didn’t have the right political connections.)  This one included. The storyline here is that after Rick Steamboat and Shane Douglas lost the tag team titles to Steve & Brian, they pulled a fast one by wearing masks and masquerading as an up-and-coming pair of luchadors. They of course got the upset win in a non-title match and earned this cage match for the titles. The joke of course is that Shane Douglas was fired/quit/got injured/whatever before the whole angle even started, and it was Brad Armstrong under the other mask. (When you need a guy to work a **** match under a mask, call Brad Armstrong!)  And for this match, it’s Tom Zenk. (When you need a guy to say stupid s--- and get himself sued, call Tom Zenk!)  Yet the announcers act like it’s Shane the whole time. No wonder he’s so pissed at WCW. (Not so pissed that he didn’t take the big fat payday when they came calling.)  Not a great Blonds match, but Austin/Pillman was such a better team than everyone else in existence at the time that there just wasn’t anyone who could work up to the level they were at. I mean, these guys were in SUCH a serious groove at this time. Cage doesn’t really factor into this one, as the Blonds use their tag team stuff to work over Zenk most of the match. Super hot ending as Steamboat tags in and nails a cross-body…off the top of the cage…onto both guys! Yow! Ref counts two but the bell rings and the crowd goes nuts. Just a flub on the timekeeper’s part, however. They exchange a ton of near falls, then Austin catches Zenk with the Stun-gun out of nowhere and gets the pin to retain the titles. *** (I think I did a more legitimate review on one of the millions of DVDs where this match is featured.)  NWA “World” title match: Barry Windham v. Arn Anderson. Last hurrah at the OK Corral for Barry, as this is basically his last good match before he becomes…that thing that’s in the WWF today. The storyline is simple: Barry turned down the Horsemen, so it’s ass-kicking time. (That’s two different people with the same storyline on this show, I should note.)  And Windham bleeds like a stuck pig as Anderson just pounds the s--- out of him. However, Anderson gets frustrated and shoves the ref around, and that gives Barry a chance to just wallop Arn with the title belt and pin him to retain. ***1/4 and the best match on the card. Barry would lose the title to Ric Flair at the next PPV, but by then it was meaningless anyway. (This was a HELL of a match, actually, and 98 Scott is really doing it a disservice with the short review.)  Main Event: WCW World champion Big Van Vader v. Davey Boy Smith. This was the peak of the “brainless spending” era in WCW, in this case millions of dollars on Davey Boy, who hadn’t main evented a card in his life, and then shoving him in a World title match on PPV. I won’t even bring up the midget. Smith took extra steroids for this one, it seems. Still, can’t blame both guys for effort here, as they give it the old college try, even though there’s MAYBE 6000 people there (I’d bet 2000 paid at most) who don’t give a s--- anymore. But Davey Boy does some nice power stuff that Vader is nice enough to sell like a champion and the crowd is totally into it. Not as good a match as their Clash of Champions rematch a few weeks later, but still a good power v. power primer. Bill Goldberg, watch this match and take notes. Match spills outside and Vader bops Smith with a chair for the disappointing DQ that sets up…the MINI-MOVIE! NYAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH! **1/2 (I don’t remember this match at all.)  The various announcers wrap things up. The Bottom Line: 1993 was without a doubt rock bottom for WCW. They signed all the wrong people, pushed all the wrong talent, did everything possible that one company could do to self-destruct, and f----- that up too by actually surviving. If it wasn’t for Ric Flair at Starrcade 93, Turner’s accountants may have actually pulled the plug on the bottomless pit that was WCW because they lost something like 23 million dollars in that year before rebounding with the Hogan signing. I don’t know WHAT they were thinking with this show, which didn’t have a marketable main event or a particularly strong undercard to back it up. Good ideas on paper rarely translate well to real life. Still, the last three matches on the tape are certainly worth a look, even if everything before is utter tripe. Later. (This actually sounds like a decent show and may be worthy of a re-rant one day to view it through non-drunken eyes.) 

Assorted May-Per-View Countdown: WCW Wrestlewar 92

The Netcop Retro Rant for WrestleWar 1992: WarGames. – Live from Jacksonville, FL – Your hosts are Jesse Ventura and Jim Ross. – Opening match:  US tag titles, Greg Valentine & Terry Taylor v. The Freebirds.  The titles were all but dead at this point.  So was Terry Taylor’s career.  Freebirds were faces, if it matters.  Valentine and Taylor do some goofy heel miscommunication stuff to establish their heeldom.  Michael “7 minute stall” Hayes is somewhere between #10 and #5 on my “Wrestlers I hate with a passion” list.  (I’m sure if I was black the feeling would be mutual.)  Jimmy Garvin is in the top 5.  (No, I don’t have an actual list, I’m trying to make a point here.)  Freebirds with the devastating double-team armbar on Valentine. Then on Taylor.  I guess they saw it on TV and thought they would look like wrestlers if they did it, too.  Taylor dumps Garvin out of the ring, signalling the Face in Peril stage.  Hammer and Taylor hold it together a bit better while in control, but it doesn’t last long as Hayes gets the hot tag.  Pier six brawl and Hayes gets the DDT, but Taylor nails the Fivearm with the ref distracted.  Only gets two.  Hayes becomes the Ricky Morton.  Valentine hooks the figure four but Hayes escapes.  Hot tag to Garvin, who cleans house.  DDT on Taylor for the pin and the US tag titles.  Huge pop.  ** – (Not Yet) Fat Tony and Uncle Eric analyze the staggeringly obvious. – Tracy Smothers v. Johnny B. Badd.  Steve Armstrong had jumped to the WWF with the incredibly successful Lance Cassidy gimmick at this point, so Tracy gets to try a singles career.  (Oddly enough, it was Tracy who ended up with the more successful singles career after getting left behind.  Armstrong curse, I guess.)  Decent match to start, as Tracy carries things nicely.  Tracy with a nice back elbow off the top for two.  They botch a rollover on a crossbody, but cover up good enough.  A few restholds from Tracy, and then a high knee from Badd begins the comeback.  Powerslam and Badd goes to the top.  Sunset flip off the top for two.  Tracy misses the karate kick and Badd with the Bart Gunn left hook for the pin.  **1/2 – Missy Hyatt interviews the Freebirds (and Precious).  (That was a weird period.  She kind of disappeared again when the Birds turned heel again.)  – Marcus Alexander Bagwell v. Scotty Flamingo.  Were I to do this recap today, that would have read “Buff Bagwell v. Raven”.  No wonder he became so bitter and jaded, being stuck with that gimmick. (It was a big part of it, in fact.)  Long lockup sequence.  Then a bitch-slapping sequence.  Bagwell gets some token two-counts and then gets dumped out by Scotty.  Both guys look very green.  Decent but very basic match which goes back and forth with no advantage until Flamingo reverses a rollup for the pin.  Lord knows why Scotty was ever pushed in the first place.  **1/4 – Junkfood Dog & Ron Simmons v. Curtis “When you suck this much, they call you Mister” Hughes & Cactus Jack.  Whose ass is bigger:  Simmons, JYD, or Mick?  Cactus ambushes JYD and puts him out.  Go, Cactus! Simmons decides to go it alone.  A lot of clotheslines are involved. For those looking for historical precedent in the Bobby Walker case, look no further than Ron Simmons, who was pushed to the World title amidst allegations of racism in 1992.  (Walker was a WCW jobber who got fired in the late 90s and basically sued because he felt that his career prospects would have been better had he been white.  My feeling is that training at the Power Plant was his first mistake as far as career prospects go.)  Of course, Bill Watts likely is a racist, (…allegedly) but that’s neither here nor there.  This is basically a singles match between Hughes and Simmons, with Cactus on the outside acting like his usual charming self.  Simmons with a spinebuster, then a clip for the pin (!?).  Not terrible.  *1/2  (This period is so boring that I barely have anything to mock in this rant.)  – Todd Champion v. Super Invader.  Invader is the wrestler better known as Hercules.  Champion (not to be confused with non-relative Chris Champion) would go on to be another in the proud line of lame duck USWA Unified World champions.  This would be a total squash.  Kick and punch restfest all the way.  Invader blows a few simple spots during Champion’s comeback and then finishes Champion off with a powerbomb. 1/4*  (Not sure why Champion never got over given that he looks exactly like Vince would want someone to look.  Oh yeah, he was terrible.)  – Ricky Morton v. Big Josh.  For the 18th time, Josh is Matt Bourne, aka Doink the Clown.  Both guys are decent on a bad day and great on a good one, and this is somewhere in between.  (Zzzzzz.)  No real advantage from either guy.  Morton makes a mistake and Josh hits the sitdown splash for the pin.  I have nothing to really say about this.  **1/2 – Light heavyweight title:  Brian Pillman v. Tom Zenk.  This was during the original WCW light heavy division, which produced less than enthralling results outside of getting Jushin Liger over.  They do the “Tag partners know each others’ minds” bits to establish their former friendship.  Jesse gleefully awaits the first cheap shot.  Lots of mat wrestling which bores the crowd.  Pillman starts talking trash, subtly building his eventual heel turn later in the year.  Zenk lands a splash on Pillman’s knees and Pillman works on Zenk’s leg.  Enzuigiri turns the tide.  Zenk goes kneefirst to the turnbuckle and Pillman slaps on the figure-four and starts slapping his face.  Zenk reverses.  Pillman retakes controls, but Zenk reverses Air Pillman into a powerslam for two.  Crucifix by Pillman reversed to a fallaway slam, but Pillman holds on to the crucifix for two.  Pillman tries a superplex but it’s blocked. Flying cross-body (way oversold by Pillman) for two.  Duelling leapfrogs but they butt heads and it’s a double knockout.  Pillman whip, reverse to a bodydrop.  Pillman picks up Zenk but his knee is gimped.  Pillman to the top, but Zenk was goldbricking — he superkicks him on the way down, but Pillman gets his feet on the ropes.  Zenk to the top, but he misses the dropkick and Pillman with a double-leg-hook-rollover for the pin to retain.  Great match!  **** – The Steiners v. Tatsumi Fujinami & Takayuji Iizuka.  I know Fujinami but I don’t know the other guy.  Scott does a proper Blockbuster on both guys — something I haven’t seen him do in a dog’s age.  Iizuka looks really crisp when he gets in and immediately gets over.  Did he ever become anything back in Japan?  (Yup.  Lots of tag titles.)  Scott with the butterfly powerbomb and the bodyvice/elbowdrop double-team that the Steiners used to do when they didn’t suck.  Nasty suplex by Rick on Fujinami.  Iizuka is apparently cut open hardway from the double-team.  He looks to be bleeding from the eye and is having trouble seeing.  Fujinami comes in with a series of stiff kicks to the leg, followed by an anklelock. Steiner rolls him over for two.  Scott with a double-chickenwing on Iizuka for two.  Uranage by Scott.  Rick rubs his knee into Iizuka’s injured face, just to be a dick I guess.  Running bodyvice by Rick. Pumphandle slam by Scott for two.  Iizuka is taking a shitkicking here. Abdominal stretch to a cradle by Scott for two, and Iizuka finally makes the tag.  Big brawl erupts as the Japanese doubleteam Scott.  Fujinami with an abdominal stretch when it calms down.  Iizuka gets back in and gets right back to getting beat on.  Belly to belly for two.  Fujinami back in and Rick clotheslines both guys off the top rope.  Scott puts Iizuka on the top but Fujinami suplexes him off.  Iizuka with a german suplex for two.  Spike piledriver, then Iizuka dropkicks Scott off the top.  Sleeper by Fujinami, into a Dragon Sleeper.  Scott to the ropes. Again, but Scott kicks him in the face.  Double knockout.  Double tag and Rick destroys poor Iizuka.  Pier six, and Rick puts Iizuka on the top and belly to bellies him for the pin.  Fabulous match.  ****1/4 – WarGames:  The Dangerous Alliance v. Sting’s Squadron.  Steve Austin and Barry Windham start out.  Windham had just won the TV title from Steve Austin so there was an issue here.  Thunderous “Paul E Sucks” chants at various points.  Cute spot as Austin grabs the roof and swings at Windham, but he moves and simply allows Austin to fall on his face. Austin does the honors first after having his face rubbed in the mesh. Windham’s taped fist is covered in Austin’s blood.  Aaah, it’s like coming home after the past few years of crappy Wargames.  (Or like now, where there’s no Wargames at all.)  Heels win the coin toss, duh.  Rude is in and works Windham like a motherfucker while Austin sits in the corner and bleeds.  Windham facefirst to the cage and you can guess the result.  You know, the Wargames may have been the only good idea Dusty Rhodes ever had.  Steamboat is in to even it up.  DDTs for everyone and the crowd pops like mad.  Austin is a bloody mess. Windham is valiantly trying to catch up.  I love this match.  Anderson evens it up for the DA.  DDT for Windham, spinebuster for Steamboat. Double crab by AA and Rude on Steamboat.  More chaos and then Dustin in for the faces, and he destroys Anderson.  Rhodes atomic drops Austin and rams his head on the roof in the process.  Windham wedges AA’s head between the rings and pistons him.  Wild.  Rude and Steamboat are fighting nonstop on their own.  Zbyszko in and Rhodes wipes him out right off the bat.  Madusa on the roof and she slips the cell phone into the ring, but Sting chases her down.  Anderson brutalizes some people with it.  Dustin hits a gusher of his own.  Sting in next for the faces and he goes after Anderson.  He presses Rude into the cage multiple times.  Arn to the cage and he’s busted open.  Bobby Eaton is last man in for the Alliance.  Dustin is pumping blood like an oil well.  Rude loosens the top rope for some reason.  Nikita Koloff is the last man for the faces and he and Sting quickly settle their past issues by beating the hell out of Rude and Anderson, then share a hug.  (A great moment in a match full of them.  That’s how REAL MEN settle their differences in wrestling.)  Sting with the Stinger splash and Scorpion on AA, but Bobby breaks it up.  The top rope finally falls off and Eaton uses the metal fork that connects it to the post as a weapon.  Zbyszko takes a swing with the metal rod, but Sting ducks and Eaton gets nailed in the shoulder, and Sting applies an armbar for the submission.  GREAT F------ MATCH!!!  *****  Final bleeder count: Austin, Anderson, Rhodes, Windham.  The DA bitches out Larry for the gaff. The Bottom Line: The usual mediocre WCW show, but there’s two excellent scientific matches at the end, and then a BRUTAL Wargames that pretty much blew off the whole Dangerous Alliance angle.  A must see Wargames, the rest is hit or miss, depending on your tastes. Recommended.  (The rant, on the other hand, bored the s--- out of me.)