The SmarK Rant for Monday Night RAW–07.08.96

The SmarK Rant for Monday Night RAW – 07.08.96 Back from being away from the internet for three days! Unfortunately I don’t have time to catch up on Payback or even Nitro this morning, so we’ll go with RAW instead. I did read JTG’s book while I was away, along with a bunch of old Observers from 1988. The most interesting thing was the discussion of the Hogan-Andre match, which of course ended up being the most-watched wrestling match in history. However, that being said, what I didn’t realize was how disappointing that rating actually was. NBC put them on prime time with expectations of being a top 5 show for the week so they could use the Main Event as a backdoor pilot for a live weekly prime time show, and in fact the show ended up something like #25 for the week and was actually viewed as a failure. Dave felt like it was actually a blessing, because there’s no way WWF would ever be able to pull off a live two-hour show on a weekly basis anyway. Taped from Green Bay, WI Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Jerry Lawler Gorilla Monsoon announces that Ultimate Warrior is immediately suspended for no-showing, but he’s here tonight at this show to wrestle Owen Hart. Because this show is totally not taped or anything. AWKWARD. I love how they sanctimoniously bury the Warrior for no-showing, and then make sure to cash in on his name one last time by showing his match instead of just cutting it out and using some of the other hours of shit they had taped from the past month. Like they couldn’t have subbed in something from Superstars or a King of the Ring match or something? The Ultimate Warrior v. Owen Hart Vince hopes we’re not seeing the Warrior for the very last time on RAW. Somehow I don’t think that feeling is accurate. Although according to the Observer at the time, Vince was still proceeding as though Warrior would in fact be posting his appearance bond and would be returning after the PPV and facing Bulldog at Summerslam. That seems uncharacteristically optimistic for Vince. As someone else noted on the blog, if the taping cycle hadn’t been so annoying, they could have booked Warrior to do a squash job to someone like Vader. Meanwhile, in an inset promo, Shawn Michaels and Ahmed Johnson promise to unveil their replacement partner in a few minutes. At least Shawn does, because I seriously had no idea what Ahmed was saying. Poor Owen bumps all over the ring for Warrior while Vince and Lawler make ridiculous speculation on who the partner will be. Warrior completely destroys Owen and gives him nothing until finally Owen hits a leg lariat…and Warrior no-sells it. Finally Owen clotheslines him with the cast a few times to turn it around and we take a break. Back with Owen choking away on the ropes and a shot with the Slammmy gets two, but Warrior makes the comeback with the usual and Bulldog runs in for the DQ at 10:44. Well, this was clearly Warrior’s best match of this run, which isn’t saying much. **1/2 Camp Cornette does a 3-on-1 beatdown afterwards to write him out of the promotion. Meanwhile, the third man is on his way. No, not that one. Savio Vega v. Justin Hawk Bradshaw Brian Pillman tries to attack Savio on crutches, but gets cut off by JJ Dillon. That went nowhere. Savio pounds away in the corner and follows with a leg lariat for two. Bradshaw comes back with a bulldog for two and Vince declares it a SEE-SAW MATCHUP, his highest praise. Bradshaw uses the clobbering forearms to put Savio down for two and grabs a sleeper. Bradshaw with a big boot and elbow for two, and we hit the chinlock. To think that Bradshaw’s braying moron cowboy character would end up as a rich New York stockbroker and color commentator. Savio comes back with a splash that was supposed to miss but actually hits Bradshaw’s back, and Vince implores him to SHOOT THE HALF while Lawler makes “jokes” about debuting wrestler Who. Man, RSPW didn’t shut up about that one for about six months. Bradshaw goes back to the chinlock as this crowd-killer continues unabated. I think people in the front row are literally falling asleep. And then we get a phone interview with Mr. Perfect as we take a break. OH MY GOD JUST END THIS MATCH. Back with Bradshaw hitting a pumphandle slam for two as speculation on the third man now includes Yokozuna and Mr. Perfect. Not quite the same interest level as the PPV the night before. Savio comes back while Lawler continues his unfunny feud with Jake Roberts, and Savio finishes with a leg lariat at 14:24 off an accidental trip from Uncle Zeb. *1/2 The British Bulldog & Vader v. The Godwinns Camp Cornette overpowers Bulldog to start, but Henry comes back with a clothesline on Vader after a missed charge, and PIG splashes him for two. Bulldog comes in and it’s a bulldog on the Bulldog, which Vince thinks is the greatest thing ever. Jim Cornette, on commentary: “How much caffeine have you had today?” Vince: “It doesn’t matter!” They had such a great dynamic on commentary together. The Godwinns double-team Vader, but HOG walks into a clothesline and the heels take over with more boring offense. I should note that Cornette and Lawler going off on Hillbilly Jim about how stupid he is works fine from a heel standpoint, because it’s not based on anything real like the Jake Roberts stuff is. With Jake it’s just constant mean-spirited harping on a real problem and doesn’t build any kind of usable heat. We take a break and return with Henry still getting beat up, but he catches Vader with a bodyslam out of the corner and it’s hot tag Phineas. Poor Cornette runs over and tries to pound the mat and get the fans going, but even the canned heat is bored. It’s BONZO GONZO and Bulldog powerslams Phineas for the pin at 14:37. Yeah. ** Meanwhile, Shawn and Ahmed are STILL promising their partner will be here. Jim Cornette promises that everyone else in the WWF is booked, so they’re BLUFFING. And in fact, Shawn reveals that his partner is Sid. Boy, did THAT one backfire on him by November. The Pulse Ugh, fourth week of the taping cycle still to come. Although I should note that the week after THAT is where RAW gets picked up in Canada by TSN and thus I’m able to watch it semi-live every week.

The SmarK Rant for Monday Night RAW–07.01.96

The SmarK Rant for Monday Night RAW – 07.01.96 Taped from Green Bay, WI Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Jerry Lawler Shawn Michaels v. Marty Jannetty Shawn doing the “Kliq Cam” gimmick and hauling super-old Jose Lothario around with him just makes this such a cheesy deal to sit through these days. The Rockers have Jim Cornette with them for this, although that ended up being just a one-shot deal. They do the usual stalemate sequence to start with a nice fight over a backslide, and Marty slugs him down. Shawn comes back with armdrags and Marty runs away for advice from Jim Cornette. That advice? “Never hire ultra-violent black guys as a tag team in your southern-based promotion.” That’s some oddly specific fake advice. Shawn gets tossed and lands on the railing, allowing Marty to take over in the ring. Sadly, the camera cuts away from his goofy dance celebration. Marty suplexes him onto the top rope for two and we hit the chinlock and take a break. Back with Marty still holding that chinlock, but he misses a blind charge. Shawn tries to monkey-flip him, but Marty lands on his feet and puts Shawn down. He takes over again and goes up, but Shawn gets his foot up and makes the comeback. Shawn with a powerbomb, reversed by Marty, reversed by Shawn into a sunset flip for two. Crossbody is reversed by Marty for two. We take a second break and return with Marty hitting the Rocker Dropper, but the flying fistdrop misses. Shawn escapes a suplex and follows with a piledriver, and the flying elbow. Superkick finishes at 18:14. Dull start but the last 10 minutes were spectacular. ***1/2 It should be noted that although Vince is still hyping Ultimate Warrior as Shawn’s partner, two days earlier the relationship completely went into the toilet and Warrior left the promotion for good. Meanwhile, on Superstars, Sunny tells off Phineas Godwinn once and for all and the Gunns attack him, but Hillbilly Jim makes the save and Phineas slops Sunny to get his revenge. Now you’d think this would be leading to yet another Gunns v. Godwinns title match at the PPV, but no, it was Gunns v. Bodydonnas in a non-title match instead. Vince uses his “HE’S…HE’S GONNA PUKE!” voice to express his excitement over this development. Mankind v. Duke Droese We randomly take a break 20 seconds into the match with Mankind choking away in the corner. Even production has been getting sloppy on these shows. It’s an odd juxtaposition, because although ratings were in free-fall, Shawn was drawing on the road as champion at this point and crowds were described as “super-hot” up and down the card. Mankind pounds away in the corner, but walks into a spinebuster and Duke comes back with a sleeper as they overdub cheering fans onto the half-asleep crowd. Duke tries a bearhug for some reason, and Mankind applies the Mandible Claw to escape and finish at 6:13. Pretty much a squash. * Jerry Lawler and Jake Roberts spend the whole match sniping at each other on commentary, setting up one of the worst feuds and matches of the year. Meanwhile, call the Superstar line to find out why Ultimate Warrior is in the doghouse! Answer: His father died. The WWF response: Have the ring announcer tell crowds that “Ultimate Warrior refuses to wrestle in an arena like this one” to explain his no-shows. Classy out the assy. Goldust v. Marc Mero Speaking of comings and goings, Barry Windham returns at this point. Here’s Meltzer’s snark on it: “Barry Windham had a meeting with Vince McMahon this past week. He was said to have been around 275 pounds, maybe 20 pounds overweight, and was interested in making a comeback at the age of 36. It looks pretty good that he’ll be coming in. Maybe they can team him with Dustin Rhodes as Silverdust.” From this actually launched a substantial rumor that Windham was going to be Silverdust. Not that the New Blackjacks was much better, but there was a pretty low ceiling for Barry at that point anyway. Mero gets a crossbody for two and Goldust bails while Steve Austin continues to show personality on commentary. Back in the ring, but Goldust bails again off a dropkick as we take a break. Back with Goldust taking over after a clothesline while the announcers discuss the weird period where Marlena was supposed to be hitting on Sable. Gee, I wonder who come up with THAT one? Mero escapes a chinlock, but Goldust dumps him and continues his stalling. And then it’s back to the chinlock. Steve Austin goes on an awesome rant on commentary about how he beat everyone in the WWF by proxy when he won the tournament, except for Davey Boy Smith and Shawn Michaels, but everyone knows he can beat them anyway. Mero escapes and gets a rollup for two, but Goldust comes back with a fistdrop as we take another break. Back with, you guessed it, another chinlock. Mero comes back with a powerslam for two while Marlena heads over to put the moves on Sable. Thankfully Terri’s acting would improve to at least passable levels by 1999. Mero goes up with a double axehandle for two and he follows with a kneelift, but Mero gets distracted by the quality acting on the floor. Goldust finishes with the Curtain Call at 16:20. Next week: Ultimate Warrior has his swan song in the WWF against Owen Hart. The Pulse Shawn v. Marty is worth checking out, but the rest is the usual dead crowd and boring storylines from around this time.

The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro–07.01.96

The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro – 07.01.96 Call it schadenfreude, but BYE BYE FLAMES. I’m man enough to admit it. So apparently the reason that Nitro isn’t being further updated is because no one is actually watching the archived content. Seems like kind of a catch-22 to me. Well, I’m watching, all the way to the bitter end when I run out of Nitro episodes in a few weeks. IT’S STILL REAL TO ME, DAMMIT! Live from Landover, MD Your hosts are Tony Schiavone & Larry Zbyszko DDP interrupts the opening spiel to complain about his magic ring being stolen. STRIP SEARCHES FOR EVERYONE! Oh, and Larry promises that this Sunday will bring a “new world order” of some sort. Yeah, well, that’s like, just his opinion, man. WCW World tag titles: Harlem Heat v. The Steiner Brothers Scott throws Booker around with a belly to belly and press slam, then dumps him to the floor. Somehow, Scott Steiner is getting bigger literally by the week. The Steiners clean house and we take a break, returning with the Four Horsemen enjoying some refreshments at Flair’s private table. I’m guessing that gag went away for good after next week. Rick with a Steinerline on Stevie Ray for two, and Scott takes him down with a backslide and overhead suplex as Larry again is all about the new world order. Rick wipes out Booker with a pair of clotheslines while Col. Parker now joins us at ringside. Booker hits the sidekick for two, but Rick brings him down off the top rope with a belly to belly for two. Scott with a butterfly powerbomb for two, but Stevie hits him with a cheapshot from the apron and the Heat take over. Booker with a flying splash for two, but Scott makes the hot tag to Rick. Clotheslines and powerslams abound, and Scott hits the Frankensteiner on Booker, but he’s not legal. Rick goes up with the flying bulldog, but Parker whacks Rick with his walking stick on a second attempt and the Heat retain at 10:08. Did Parker miss his cue there or something? Not sure why they suddenly put the Heat back with Parker again. Solid match with the guys throwing each other around, however. *** Meanwhile, Mean Gene brings up the open wound of Joe Gomez’s Nitro debut getting ruined, and Debra admits that she might be a bit high maintenance. GLACIER is on the way! At this point it’s actually getting pretty funny. Disco Inferno v. Kurasawa Kurasawa has somehow dumped Sonny Onoo and turned babyface for some reason never adequately explored. Mainly comedy here, as Disco runs away and Kurasawa no-sells everything and looks to finish Disco off…but it’s the oldest finish in the book, as Disco’s music hits and an Elvis impersonator comes down to distract Kurasawa, allowing Disco to pull down the disco ball and hit him in the back for the pin at 3:42. Like I said, the oldest finish in the book. DUD Diamond Dallas Page v. Scotty Riggs Unlike last week’s show, DDP’s generic butt rock music has been restored to its former glory with no wacky overdubbing. Page pounds away and drops Riggs with a backdrop suplex, and slugs him down for two. Page with the abdominal stretch and he blocks a sunset flip, but Riggs finishes the move for two. Page boots him down again and gets a pumphandle backbreaker for two, but Riggs makes the comeback. Dropkick puts Page on the floor and Riggs follows with a dive, and back in for a flying forearm that gets two. But, alas, Diamond Cutter out of nowhere finishes at 5:36. Good work from both here. **1/2 Randy Savage v. Greg Valentine Valentine gets the recycled Hollywood Blonds music as they dig him out of whatever state fair he was working in 1996. Hammer pounds away but misses a blind charge and Savage gets two. They fight to the floor and Valentine drops an elbow. Back in for some choking as Tony speculates that GREG VALENTINE might be the third man. Savage comes back with a slam and goes up, but Valentine catches him coming down. The ref loudly calls out a 30 second time warning, so Valentine “knocks himself out” on a back suplex and Savage miraculously drops the elbow at 5:14 to move us to the second hour. Meh. * Hour #2! Still live, still in Landover, MD. Your hosts are Eric Bischoff & Bobby Heenan The Outsiders joins us at ringside, with popcorn and drinks and about a million extra viewers over RAW. Bischoff refers to “Kevin Nash” for the first time here. WCW World title: The Giant v. John Tenta The announcers reason that Tenta is so mad at Big Bubba that he might just take it out on Giant and win the title! I’m gonna go with “no” to that one. Tenta indeed unleashes his fury and rage on Giant, but sadly he’s not quite as angry as, say, Alex Riley and quickly gets his ass beat in the corner. This progresses at a leisurely pace while I check the Observer, and apparently at this point Hogan kind of gave away the third man deal on a movie set. Also, in much more important news, Glacier debuts at some sort of toy fair and people mock his ridiculously expensive gear and point out how cheap it looks, comparing him to Chris Champion. BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD! Anyway, this shitfest continues unabated, with Giant endlessly choking and pounding on Tenta in the corner while the Outsiders eat popcorn in the front row. Finally Tenta dodges a blind charge and makes the comeback, putting him down with a dropkick, but now Kevin Sullivan comes out for the distraction and Giant finishes with the chokeslam at 6:37. The dastardly Big Bubba shaves off half of Tenta’s beard now. You’re probably asking why he doesn’t just shave off the rest and regrow it, but that would be putting way more thought into this than the booking team did. -*** Meanwhile, a Rey Mysterio video is interrupted by the Outsiders stirring up trouble, until security throws him out, with Nash yelling “Attica! Attica!” all the way. Is it any wonder they were instantly bigger stars than anyone in the promotion? Meanwhile, Jim Duggan reveals that he found DDP’s ring in the men’s bathroom, but he wouldn’t want to keep it anyway because he wears a MAN’S ring size and not the feminine piece of crap that DDP wears. Page storms in to reclaim the ring and Duggan hits him with a taped fist as Page takes a dramatic bump off it. This was fun stuff. Well, except for Gene accidentally calling it the “King of the Ring”, which has a panicked Bischoff immediately clarifying it as a slip of the tongue so that they don’t get any further legal threats from the WWF. The Four Horsemen v. The Rock N Roll Express, The Renegade and JOE GOMEZ Finally, the Desperado assembles his team of anti-Horsemen to get his revenge! And yes, this is your main event, why do you ask? Team Gomez cleans house and Flair starts out the match properly with Morton, who takes him down with a rana and the double dropkick for two. Well that finisher is dead. Oh wait it’s 1996, no one gives a shit anyway. Over to Arn, who falls victim to an enzuigiri from Gibson. Benoit comes in and beats on Renegade, but it’s GOMEZ TIME and he beats on Flair in the corner to kick off the greatest era of WCW TV since the glory NWA years. Backdrop gets two, but Joe gets distracted by his own perfect hair and Flair kicks him in the nuts to take over. Benoit beats on him in the corner and takes him down by the hair, clearly jealous. Gomez fact: Joe Gomez has a much better chance of making it into the WWE Hall of Fame than Benoit does. Mongo comes in and pounds Gomez down, and Flair drops the knee. Gomez comes back with a sunset flip on AA for two, but walks into a spinebuster. He gets a backslide on Benoit, who punches Gomez in his beautiful, beautiful face to put him down again. Flair tries the figure-four, but Gomez reverses for two while Bischoff notes “I don’t want to say anything bad about Joe Gomez, but he’s been getting hammered in there.” Clear proof that this man is nWo through and through, because only a traitor to the entire promotion would dare say anything bad about the heart and soul of WCW, Joe Gomez. If Joe Gomez had been the guy in the rafters, you can bet he wouldn’t have failed like Sting did. And in fact, Gomez decides to tag out to Renegade and share the glory, because that’s the kind of guy he is. Renegade runs wild, but misses a flying whatever while Mongo flails wildly with the briefcase at nothing (did, like, EVERYONE miss their cue for that one? Jesus Christ.) and Renegade submits to the figure-four at 11:53. Joe Gomez had that match well in hand, you hack! 12 minutes of Joe Gomez masterpiece, a match almost as impressive as his hair, ruined by the Renegade’s ineptitude. ***1/2 Mean Gene interviews the Horsemen to wrap things up. Next week: WCW presents Bash at the Beach, with the third man revealed in another typical WCW angle that went nowhere and satisfied no one. Does anyone even remember who the guy was?

The SmarK Rant for Monday Night RAW–06.24.96

The SmarK Rant for Monday Night RAW – 06.24.96 Live from Green Bay, WI Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Jerry Lawler Ahmed Johnson v. Hunter Hearst Helmsley Ahmed overpowers HHH while an enterprising group of fans opposite the hard camera get a giant “Eric Sucks Dick” sign featured every chance they get. Ahmed cranks on a side headlock while Vince runs down tonight’s electric card and confuses Savio Vega with Bob Holly. Hunter finally pulls down the top rope and Ahmed takes a gentle bump to the floor to give Hunter the advantage. Ahmed gets run into the post as the crowd is already bored and quiet. Back, Hunter with a double axehandle for two. Flying clothesline gets two and we hit the chinlock. We take a break and return with Ahmed making the comeback and whipping Hunter into the corner for two. Harvey Wippleman is a terrible referee, by the way, slow-counting both guys and frequently being out of position. Ahmed with the spinebuster and he takes too long setting up the powerbomb and gets backdropped. Hunter throws forearms in the corner and slaps him around, but Ahmed hits the Pearl River Plunge to finish at 12:25. Typically boring Ahmed match. He was fine in short squashes, but the longer matches had hot starts and hot finishes but boring stretches of nothing in the middle. ** The Bodydonnas v. The Brooklyn Brawler & Jerry Fox The disaster that was the Bodydonna babyface run continues, as fans still boo them despite Vince working hard to convince us that we were supposed to like them for having a cross-dressing freak manager instead of the hot blonde who everyone loved. This is a lengthy squash with a dead crowd. Of note: Sunny, on commentary, promises to bring in a singles wrestler to challenge Shawn Michaels soon. And that of course would be Faarooq. Zip finishes geek #2 with the top rope rana at 4:00. Even more exciting, the PPV will feature a NON-TITLE match between the Gunns and Bodydonnas. Take all my money! Owen Hart, British Bulldog & Vader v. Aldo Montoya, Savio Vega & Barry Horowitz And they seriously couldn’t figure out why Nitro was destroying them in the ratings? Bulldog pounds on Savio to start and Vader beats on him in the corner, but Savio comes back with a spinkick and brings Aldo in. Owen quickly drops him with the leg lariat and Bulldog adds the delayed suplex. Corner splash by Vader into the Bulldog powerslam and then the Sharpshooter from Owen finishes at 4:18. Steve Austin v. The Undertaker Brian Pillman cuts a promo on Vince before the match, demanding to know where his money is. Not sure where that ever went. I assume this was the first ever Austin v. UT match in their series of eight million? They slug it out and fight on the floor to start, and Austin gets sent into the post. Back in, Taker chokes him down and they fight to the floor again, albeit very slowly. We take a break and return with Austin now in control very slowly, working on the leg. This goes on for a while with Austin laying around on the mat in a hold while Goldust joins us on commentary. And we take another break. Back with Taker missing a clothesline, but he comes back with a chokeslam. Goldust breaks up the tombstone with the old glitter to the eyes finish at 15:15. This was a whole lot of nothing. * The Pulse Thankfully this show gets much better in August, because they have been on a BRUTAL run of bad shows for about the past two months now. They needed an influx of new talent in the worst way…and maybe a new head writer, too?

The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro–06.24.96

The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro – 06.24.96 This show was the first sign of really bad news for the WWF, because Nitro destroyed RAW in the ratings even coming off the King of the Ring PPV. Live from Charlotte, NC Your hosts are Tony & Larry / Tony & Bobby We start with another recap of the Outsiders powerbombing Eric Bischoff at the Great American Bash, and Dave was out of his mind guessing at the third man in the Observer at this point. Lex Luger was the original plan, but now speculation has moved to Mabel (?!), Bryan Adams and Bret Hart as an extreme outside chance. Or maybe just someone from inside the company turning heel. Meanwhile, Team WCW is all facepainted up in a show of solidarity. This interview marks the first official naming of the invaders as The Outsiders. Sting is like “You challenge three guys every week but you only bring two, WHAT’S UP WITH THAT?” Look at the big math brain on Steve! Sadly, the Steiners and Harlem Heat interrupt Sting’s Seinfeld-ian comedy routine and we apparently have a three-way main event tonight. Lord Steven Regal & Squire David Taylor v. The Public Enemy I don’t know what the hell is with the music, but TPE’s usual theme is clumsily overdubbed with even more generic music, which drowns out the commentary and crowd. That was an in-house produced theme! They own the rights to it! Regal takes Rocco down and busts a move, but he gets dropkicked and bails, hilariously overemoting the whole time. Taylor comes in and pounds away on Rock in the corner, but he too tastes the wrath of Rocco’s dropkick. Rocco misses a bodypress and Regal shows more dance moves before putting the boots to him. Taylor throws forearms, but Johnny Grunge gets the hot tag and runs reasonably wild until Bobby Eaton trips him up. He literally knocks himself out with his own cast, but recovers and hits Taylor with it instead for the pin at 7:00. Who seriously thought putting these two teams together would produce anything good? Just a colossal train wreck style clash. -** Kevin Sullivan v. some jobber Sullivan hauls the guy immediately into the crowd and takes him into the concession area, which results in him getting disqualified at 1:30 or so. The fate of the poor geek is never explored, as Sullivan returns to the ring to cut a promo. BLOOD RUNS COLD…coming next month! We think. Hardwork Bobby Walker v. Dean Malenko Malenko methodically squashes Walker and puts him in the Cloverleaf, but Disco Inferno comes out and provides distraction with dancing. This allows Walker to make the comeback with a backdrop and a rollup for two while Disco is literally standing in the ring dancing, and Malenko basically ignores all this and finishes with a northern lights suplex at 4:37. What a mess this was. DUD The Barbarian v. Eddie Guerrero Well this is super random. Barbarian tosses Eddie around for a few minutes, but Eddie takes him down with a terrible rana and goes up very slowly. Barbarian finally gets up and crotches him, and follows with an overhead suplex where Eddie hurls himself literally the entirety of the ring and to the floor. Come on, we’re not on the moon! Back in, Barbarian tries a superplex and Eddie falls on top for the fluke pin at 5:26. This was pretty bad. ½* The Rock N Roll Express v. Arn Anderson & Chris Benoit Always a good choice to haul the RNR out of mothballs in the southern states. At this point we get a disclaimer stating that the show is presented in the most complete version available due to “production problems”. Now what was THAT about? Typically they do that message when they’re cutting out something controversial and lying about it. Benoit quickly beats on Morton, but Ricky hits a moonsault press for two and goes to the arm. Over to Robert, who gets caught in the Horsemen corner and put in a sleeper by Arn. Robert counters out as the crowd openly cheers for the heels at this point. Arn lures Morton out to the floor for a sneak attack by Benoit, and Ricky Morton plays Ricky Morton. More importantly, at Bash at the Beach, Mongo will face the PPV debut of the juggernaut himself, the Big Dog, the Desperado JOE GOMEZ. Gibson quickly gets the hot tag and tries a backslide on Benoit, but Mongo waffles him with the briefcase and Benoit gets the pin at 6:00. The Horsemen’s beatdown is interrupted by the awesome force of JOE GOMEZ, who is dressed in his best Nelson tribute band outfit (“Thank you Charlotte, we are After The Rain!”) complete with leopard skin vest and fringed jeans. Sadly, he gets his ass kicked before he can sing “(Can’t Live Without Your) Love And Affection”, but it takes three of the Horsemen to put him down because they’re all cowards who would have been destroyed in a one-on-one showdown with the Desperado. Nothing match. *1/2 Diamond Dallas Page v. Alex Wright Another weird music edit as DDP’s usual generic music overdub is redone with a staple gun and again cuts out the commentary. Usually they’re really slick with this stuff, but this show has been all over the place from an editing standpoint. Page gets a snap suplex on Wright and follows with a gutbuste, but he dramatically misses a kick and lands on his ass. Wright puts him down with a back kick and goes up with a double axehandle, but Page puts him on the floor and Wright springboards right back in with a missile dropkick. Page bails and Wright follows with a dive, but he hits Page’s knees on a splash in the ring. Diamond Cutter finishes at 4:05. Not bad. *1/2 Meanwhile, Kevin Greene is ready for Mongo and feels like the Panthers have a good shot this year. Well, the FLORIDA Panthers did go to the Stanley Cup final that year. Randy Savage v. VK Wallstreet Mr Wallstreet tosses Savage over the top behind the ref’s back and pounds away in the corner, but Savage boots him down for two. Tony notes that the face of pro wrestling will change on July 6 1996 at the Bash PPV…and in this case he was actually 100% correct. Wallstreet makes a minor comeback and goes up, but lands on Savage’s foot and Macho makes the comeback and goes up for the big elbow. Wallstreet moves and bails to escape, but Kevin Greene tosses him back in and a second elbow finishes at 4:30 * WCW World tag titles: Sting & Lex Luger v. The Steiner Brothers v. Harlem Heat The Heat work Scott over to start, but he hits Booker with a butterfly powerbomb for two. Stevie comes in and misses a blind charge on Rick, who puts him down with a Steinerline for two. Over to Sting, who gets beat up by the Heat, but Booker does an awesome miss of the sidekick and lands right on the top rope. Sting gets two off that. He misses a pump splash and Stevie goes to a nerve hold as we take a break. Back with Sting fighting back as they collide and Luger gets the tag and runs wild. Powerslam for Booker, but now the Outsiders head down to ringside and a ZILLION cops storm the ring to head them off, while one of the Heat rolls up Luger and pins him to win the titles at 11:00. The scene was so chaotic that the winning pin wasn’t even shown on TV until the replay. That was a crazy ending. ** The Pulse Pretty bad show, but I will say that Tony did an amazing job of hyping the PPV and really building the importance of each and every match that related to the show tonight. And the ending with all the guards going for their guns while the Outsiders stared them down with baseball bats was the kind of anarchy you don’t get any more. I’m pretty pumped to redo Bash at the Beach now this weekend.

The SmarK Rant for WWF King of the Ring 1996–06.23.96

The SmarK Rant for WWF King of the Ring 1996 – 06.23.96 I’ve kinda been hemming and hawing about this one, but the original rant isn’t great and it does contain one of the most important moments in the history of wrestling and all. Oddly, this is the home video version instead of the original PPV broadcast and is actually about 10 minutes longer than the PPV thanks to “Coliseum Video exclusive” material. Live from Milwaukee, WI Your hosts are Vince McMahon, Jim Ross and Owen Hart. King of the Ring Semi-Final: Steve Austin v. Marc Mero Mero has his grumpy jobbing face on during the ring entrance. Orton gets that one a lot, too. They trade headlocks on the mat to start and Mero puts him on the floor with a headscissors. Back in, Mero starts to work on the arm, but Austin stomps him down while Owen sums up the difference between Mero and Austin: “You don’t see Austin out there with some hosebag in his corner!” Austin offers a handshake and they go to the test of strength, which allows Austin to cheat and take over. He tosses Mero and drops him on the concrete with a press slam, which is a move you don’t see out of Austin very often. Back in with a snap suplex for two and Austin drops the middle rope elbow for two. Press slam into a backbreaker gets two. Boston crab as Austin busts out every bit of wacky offense in his playbook. Mero manages to power out of that one and gets a small package for two, but Austin puts him down with an elbow and goes back to the crab again. Mero powers out again (with help from some really well-timed cheerleading from Sable, which is impressive for someone so new in the business) and they trade near-falls off that, and Mero gets a rollup for two. Austin just slugs him down and counters a sleeper with a jawbreaker, but Mero launches out of the corner with a butt-butt. Mero makes the comeback and slugs away in the corner, and a double axehandle gets two. Mero tosses Austin (who is suddenly gushing blood from his lip) and follows with a dive, and back in for a missile dropkick that gets two. They fight to the top and Mero brings him down with a rana, which gets two. Austin comes back with a stungun variation out of a powerbomb for two, and the Stone Cold Stunner finishes at 16:48. And that was Mero’s first loss, so no wonder he was grumpy. Hell of an opener, with tons of crazy stuff from Austin and heat that built consistently throughout. **** Reading the original rant, I was thinking I must have overrated it, but no, Austin and Mero were working their asses off here. King of the Ring Semi-Final: Vader v. Jake Roberts Vader overpowers him and starts working the arm on the mat, and a big splash gets two. Jake blocks a blind charge and slugs back, but Vader escapes the DDT and beats him down in the corner. Corner splash misses and Jake gets the DDT, but the ref gets wiped out and calls for the DQ on the way down, giving Jake the win at 3:38. Nothing much to this one. ½* Vader completely destroys Jake afterwards to set up the storyline for the finals. Of mild note here is Owen calling him “Big Van Vader” during the beatdown, which probably got him a dirty look from Vince. WWF tag titles: The Smoking Gunns v. The Godwinns Thankfully this version of the show omits the pre-show match with Cloudi the transvestite managing the Bodydonnas, although they do show “highlights” here. The commentary and Billy’s pre-match promo really hammer home that the Gunns are HEELS NOW, DAMMIT, SO STOP CHEERING FOR THEM! Billy attacks PIG, who has immediately spazzes out while we cut to an inset interview with Cloudi. Was “she” ever seen again? I don’t recall the character lasting much beyond this. Meanwhile, Henry works on Bart’s arm, but a cheapshot turns the tide and the Gunns beat on Henry in a dull heat segment. Henry reverses a slam for two, but Billy continues working on the back before missing a blind charge and taking what would become a trademark bump. Bart comes in and misses a flying bodypress, and Phineas gets the hot tag. We get the requisite pier-six brawl, but Bart takes off his boot and nails PIG with it, giving Billy the pin at 10:00. Not terrible, but really, really, really boring. I was reading a recap of the 28-hour Marvel movie marathon over on the AV Club while watching this match, and now I know what he must have felt like by the time Age of Ultron rolled around. * Ultimate Warrior v. Jerry Lawler Lawler does a wonderfully cheesy rundown of the crowd on the way to the ring, basically insulting everyone in the front row one by one. I have to say, the impact of Warrior’s entrance is lessened a lot by the fancy pyro, because it minimizes the chances of him just storming to the ring and destroying someone. King attacks with the royal scepter and chokes Warrior out on the ropes, and Vince notes that Warrior certainly didn’t expect those sorts of tactics. I would presume that Warrior would have watched a Jerry Lawler match at some point in his life, in which case he should have expected those and more. Finally Warrior has had enough and no-sells a piledriver, making the comeback and destroying Lawler at 3:50. And that was the last time Warrior ever wrestled on a WWF PPV, although he did a couple of house show and TV appearances after this. What a way to go out. DUD This was pretty much exactly how the match needed to go, however. Undertaker v. Mankind This was looking to be another “urn thief of the month” feud for Undertaker, but then it suddenly caught fire and ended up evolving both guys. A severely pissed Undertaker attacks out of the darkness to start and pounds Mankind down in the corner, and Mankind bails for advice from the voices in his head. That advice: “Talking to yourself isn’t crazy. It’s only crazy if you answer yourself.” Back in, Taker works on the arm with the ropewalk, but Mankind slams him and slugs away in the corner. Mankind tosses him a couple of times, but he charges with a chair and that backfires on him. Taker backdrops him onto a chair on the floor. And you wonder why Mick is in the shape he is now. Back in, Taker gives him a shot with a chair behind the ref’s back, but Mankind escapes the tombstone and puts him down with a neckbreaker to set up the Mandible Claw, but Taker sits up to block it. It’s kind of amazing that they could get a simple move over to the point where Taker blocking it could get such a huge reaction from the crowd. He’s basically sticking his finger’s into a guy’s mouth, but the crowd is horrified and fearing for Undertaker’s safety when he does it, and overjoyed when Taker blocks it. Mankind with a Vulcan nerve pinch, but Taker slugs out of it and they brawl to the floor, where Mankind debuts the running knee into the stairs. Taker, not to be outdone, smashes in the face with a chair and they head back in. Taker beats on him in the ropes and adds the flying clothesline, but Mankind pulls out the piledriver out of nowhere for two. Mick gets all riled up and steals the urn from Paul Bearer, but can’t get it away from him. Taker seemingly moves in for the kill, but Mankind applies the Claw…and Paul accidentally hits Taker with the urn while aiming for Mankind, and that’s all for Undertaker at 18:18. Great brawl that kicked off a series of matches which gave us the first big reinvention of Undertaker’s gimmick. ***1/2 Intercontinental title: Goldust v. Ahmed Johnson Much like Mankind, this should have launched Ahmed Johnson into the stratosphere, but unfortunately ended up being a peak that he was never able to achieve again instead. Ahmed bursting through the doors and knocking the poor doormen down in a great visual, as he charges to the ring and starts beating on Goldust. They head to the floor and Ahmed throws the stairs at him, which has Owen criticizing his aim. Owen was pretty great on commentary here as the snarky jerk. Finally Goldust dodges a blind charge and takes over with a lariat, slugging him down for two. Goldust goes to a chinlock, and a rather lengthy one at that, and a piledriver gets two. Back to the chinlock, but Ahmed fights out and Goldust knees him in the back to slow him down again. Goldust with a sleeper, but he releases the move so he can give Ahmed some mouth-to-mouth, at which point Ahmed wakes up, does the crazed angry black man comeback, and squashes him for good with the powerbomb to win the IC title at 15:27. Way too long in the middle leading up to Ahmed’s big comeback. Also, the whole nonsense with the Savio Vega title controversy really lessened the impact of Goldust finally losing the title. ** This was set up to be the launching pad for Ahmed, and it just didn’t happen. Not for lack of trying, however, as this felt like a big deal at the time and you could sense the rocket getting strapped to Ahmed. Brian Pillman joins us at ringside to cut a crazed promo about how Jeffrey Dalmer should have eaten everyone in the city because Milwaukee sucks so much. Pillman’s gonna rape, pillage and plunder the WWF! If only he could have. King of the Ring finals: Steve Austin v. Jake Roberts Austin wisely goes right for the ribs and throws down on them. Austin slaps him around and tears the rib tape off, which brings Gorillla Monsoon out to check on Jake personally. Owen raises a good point – Why SHOULD Austin stop the beating unless he hear a bell? Jake decides to fight back, but Austin casually blocks the DDT by going to the ribs, and the Stone Cold Stunner finishes at 4:35 to kick off the Austin Era. DUD At least they kept it short. And then, the REAL moment, as Austin cuts his coronation promo and buries Roberts for his bible-thumping promos. “Austin 3:16 says I just whipped your ass” suddenly became the ultra-cool catchphrase for online fans everywhere, and soon there were signs all over TV. Although as awesome as this moment was, no one had any idea how big Austin would become. WWF World title: Shawn Michaels v. British Bulldog So weeks after the entire point of the match has been shelved for good (the Diana lawsuit), the main event of this show limps into the home stretch. Sadly, Curt Hennig is exiled to the outside referee position, as they can’t even resist a bait-and-switch for a guest referee stip. They trade headlocks while Owen vocalizes what we’re all thinking: We all KNOW Shawn is a gutless coward, so how can he retain his title without cheating or getting himself disqualified? I love how Owen was making no effort to get himself over as a cool hip guy here, just going all out to be an unlikeable lying jerk. Shawn dumps Bulldog and follows with a rana off the apron, and poor Cornette gets spanked with the tennis racket. Back in, Bulldog goes back to the headlock, but Shawn reverses into a cross armbreaker and then evades Bulldog’s power to stay on the arm. Shawn with a sleeper, but Bulldog runs him into the corner to break and tosses him around the ring. Shawn puts him down with an armbar and goes up with a flying axehandle to the shoulder, but Bulldog presses him and drops him straight to the floor in a crazy Shawn bump. Bulldog adds a suplex on the floor and then presses Shawn back into the ring again for two. Bulldog with a chinlock, and he whips Shawn around the ring again and hooks him with the Rito Romero Special, then bridges back for two. Back to the chinlock, and he puts Shawn down with a backdrop and legdrop for two, which gives us a rare burst of emotion from Diana at ringside. She almost smiles and emotes! Vince puts over Shawn’s fanbase and Owen goes on an epic rant about how wrestling fans are morons and Bulldog should be champion because he’s talented and a winner, like himself. He’s just such a great asshole. Shawn fights up and Bulldog puts him down with a lariat and goes back to the chinlock. Shawn escapes with a crucifix for two, but they trade finisher attempts and then Bulldog kills him with another clothesline. That’s the kind of stuff Bulldog should have been doing all along. Piledriver and Bulldog goes up, but he misses a diving headbutt in embarrassing fashion. Owen, without missing a beat, immediately accuses Jose Lothario of pulling the ropes and tripping him up. Shawn goes up and Bulldog brings him down with a superplex for two. Another one is reversed in mid-air by Shawn, for two. They slug it out and collide, and Shawn recovers first with a rana, which Bulldog turns into a powerbomb for two. Both guys are out, but Shawn makes the comeback and the ref is bumped. Shawn with the flying elbow and superkick to finish at 26:23. Perfect didn’t even factor into the match after all the buildup. **** Bulldog and Owen proceed with the heel beatdown, which turns into Camp Cornette beating down Shawn and Ahmed Johnson, and then Ultimate Warrior makes the save to set up the six-man for the July PPV that no one remembers. The Pulse This show had the misfortune to be sandwiched between two of the greatest PPVs in history on the WCW side and saddled with a main event angle that no one cared about, but it’s a pretty tremendous show during a shit time for the company. Bookended by **** matches and featuring a surprisingly great performance from Undertaker in the middle, it’s really only hampered by Jake Roberts stinking up the KOTR tournament itself. Check it out on the Network if you’ve never seen it!

The SmarK Rant for Monday Night RAW–06.17.96

The SmarK Rant for Monday Night RAW – 06.17.96 I actually watched the new Jerry Springer “Too Hot for TV” show on the Network this morning because it was only 30 minutes anyway. The Waaaaaaaaah-ditude Era crowd will probably dig it to a certain degree because it’s absolutely raunchy and shows how tame the shows are now by comparison. Basically the first one is called “Love Hurts” and it’s a bunch of 8 minute segments covering topics like Sable & Mero, Hunter & Steph, Lita being a whore, and the Billy & Chuck wedding. Honestly, it would have been better off split into shorter “episodes” and stuck on YouTube because I got tired of it about 20 minutes in and completely lost interest by the time they were at Al Wilson & Dawn Marie. Also, almost none of the “great” moments highlighted there are available to watch on the Network, so there’s that. And even the title is contradictory, as all the “Too Hot For TV” moments already aired on TV! And then they EDITED many of them here anyway! Springer sounds vaguely bored most of the time while doing the narration, which didn’t really help either. I was kind of hoping for a new take on “Are You Serious?” with wacky hosts and Puppet H and stuff, and Springer just doesn’t come off as someone who knows or cares anything about wrestling. I don’t think they’re gonna be able to milk this concept much past 2 or 3 shows, but it’s something different, so fine. Taped from Fayetteville, NC. Yay for fourth week taping shows. Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Jerry Lawler King of the Ring Quarterfinal: Steve Austin v. Savio Vega Vega chops away in the corner and gets a leg lariat for two, and Austin flails to the outside to escape. Back in, Austin works on the leg after a cheapshot, which draws Vince’s highest compliment as a worker: He’s mixing it up in rough-house fashion! Savio returns fire on the leg while Vince tells us to “expect the unexpected” tonight and then gives away all the big developments via on-screen graphic. Wouldn’t you maybe want to keep Brian Pillman’s debut a surprise? This episode did a horrid rating anyway, and in fact saved Kevin Sullivan’s job as booker because Nitro won by such a big margin. Savio continues working on the leg and gets a kneecrusher for two. Big splash misses, however, and Austin comes back, but they collide and we take a break. Back with FISTICUFFS erupting and Savio hits the leg lariat for two. Vince is confident in Savio’s chances here, but Austin suddenly debuts the STONE COLD STUNNER out of nowhere and gets the pin at 10:00. Vince, obviously not knowing that the business had just changed forever on this shitty TV show, doesn’t even give the move a name and immediately moves onto a recap of Undertaker v. Mankind. ** King of the Ring Quarterfinal: Marc Mero v. Owen Hart Steve Austin joins us on commentary, finally showing some personality on his own now. They trade hammerlocks on the mat and Owen complains about damage to his broken wrist. So that cheating Mero goes right after the cast and takes him down for an armbar. He goes up and misses a bodypress, and Owen goes to a chinlock. This poor crowd is SO burned out and tired. We take a break and return with Owen in control with a Boston crab while Mero makes WILDMAN faces to the camera. Oh god, someone shoot this taping and put it out of its misery. Owen with a Perfectplex for two, but a flying splash misses and Mero makes the comeback and finishes with a rollup at 11:35. So dull. *1/2 Meanwhile, Vince cuts to Bulldog doing an interview at a live event, which is supposedly going on at the same time as this show. Bulldog talks some smack and Shawn runs out for a brawl. Meanwhile, on the Superstar line, who are the 5 new superstars coming to the WWF? The answer is TL Hopper, Freddie Joe Floyd, Alex Porteau, The Goon and Sal Sincere. Jerry Lawler attacks Aldo Montoya, thus robbing us of a match against HHH. And then after he already piledrives and beats him up, Jake Roberts comes out to save. Brian Pillman makes his WWF debut, signing his contract at WWF HQ just days after nearly dying in a car accident that basically ended his career as we knew it. He actually had to be pulled out of the hospital with a high fever in order to film it. Pillman gives a tearful thank you for the opportunity. Jake Roberts v. Goldust Harvey Wippleman is now suddenly a referee in the payoff of that storyline where he was taking notes at ringside. That one got forgotten almost as fast. Goldust runs away literally for the first 2:30 of the match while Jake does an inset promo promising to help the new generation not to make the same mistakes he did. Well, THAT sure didn’t turn out the way he intended. In fact he ended up doing even more drugs over the next 20 years. Goldust tries to fondle him and then continues his regimen of running away and stalling. Finally he suckers Jake into the post while we get a bizarre bit on commentary with Jerry Lawler spoiling the plot of Mission Impossible. What was THAT about? Jake comes back and slugs away and finally we cut away to Mr. Perfect, who has the SCOOP on the guest referee for Shawn v. Bulldog. But first he wants to watch the end of this match. Not me. And then we take a break. Back with Goldust slowly working Jake’s knee over, giving us some exciting laying around on the mat. Jake comes back with the short clothesline, but Marlena gives Goldust a handful of glitter and he blinds poor Jake with it and pins him at 13:35. Ah, the old Rip Taylor finish. However, justice prevails, as Harvey sees the sparkles on Jake’s face and reverses the decision. Even better! -** Meanwhile, Jim Cornette announces that the special referee is…Mr. Perfect. The Pulse Probably one of the worst episodes of the show I’ve ever seen, although I feel like I say that a lot.

The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro–06.17.96

The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro – 06.17.96 Live from Richmond, VA. Finally, back in a city big enough to warrant inclusion in the opening! Your hosts are Tony Schiavone & Larry Zbyszko, now seated at the announcer’s desk to replace the injured Eric Bischoff. Was that it for Bischoff as the announcer on this show? Must be fun to be the fans in attendance who have to sit there for 5 minutes at the beginning of the show while they recap the PPV. Oddly, the Bash PPV on the Network doesn’t have “WWF” muted when Bischoff asks the Outsiders if that’s who they work for, but the clip on this show does. So I’d assume that means this was originally produced for WWE 24/7, then. Stevie Ray v. Rick Steiner I was kind of afraid we’d get this trainwreck after the great Booker v. Scott match last week. Stevie attacks and boots Rick down in the corner and follows with a BLACK DYNAMITE CLOTHESLINE, complete with kung fu pose. That gets two. That about exhausts Stevie’s moveset, so Rick takes over with an overhead suplex and the flying bulldog for two. Stevie comes back with a powerslam, but misses some ridiculous bullshit off the middle rope and the Steinerline finishes at 2:18. Wisely, this was booked to be short. *1/2 The Heat do the beatdown afterwards and Scott sacrifices himself to save his brother. The crowd was ridiculously excited for all of this. Disco Inferno v. JOE GOMEZ The Desperado debuts! Finally my life is complete again! Apparently Gomez is very outspoken about the Horsemen situation, and when Joe Gomez talks, people fucking LISTEN. Gomez dominates Disco with a bodyslam and beats him up on the floor, and then hits a dropkick back in the ring. Sadly, he misses a bodypress and clotheslines himself on the top rope and Disco takes over. My wife is HORRIFIED that Disco is messing up Gomez’s beautiful hair. I know, right? Luckily, Gomez makes the comeback while constantly touching his hair, but Disco hits the neckbreaker and stops to dance. It gets two, but Gomez rolls him over for the pin at 3:32 to complete the greatest Nitro debut in history! ******, plus another ½* for the hair. Meanwhile, Mean Gene interviews Ric Flair and his newly expanded harem, thus beginning many long years of Debra never shutting up. Arn Anderson & Chris Benoit v. The American Males Arn casually punches Bagwell off the apron in an awesome moment, but gets rolled up by Riggs for two. Arn evades a speedy Riggs and just kicks him in the gut to a big pop, but Riggs dropkicks him for two. Over to Bagwell, who gets to face a pissed off Benoit (who is also made up like he has a black eye to sell the brawl from the Bash). Bagwell uses his fancy wrestling stuff, but a splash hits the knees and the Horsemen go to work on him. Bagwell gets a backslide on Arn, but Benoit comes in with chops to take over. Backdrop suplex sets up the diving headbutt for two, and then Arn cuts off a comeback to a GIANT babyface pop. Hot tag to Riggs regardless as there’s a clear division in the crowd tonight, but Benoit suplexes Riggs on the top rope to finish at 5:48. Probably should have been even more of a slaughter to really sell the return of the Horsemen. ** Big Bubba v. John Tenta The feud too big for the Bash to contain! Bubba runs away from a slugfest and trips Tenta up to post him, and slugs him down for two. We hit the chinlock as Tony is hyping the countdown to the second hour. So we’re now counting down to the countdown? But I guess this was the start of the 82 week ratings dominance, so maybe it worked. Tenta makes the comeback with some splashes and the powerslam for two, and then a second one (with feet on the ropes) finishes at 4:30. But then we take it up ANOTHER notch to notches unheard of before, as Bubba gets his revenge with a sock full of silver dollars, as he’s apparently an old-timey prospector now in addition to wannabe biker gang member. * Hopefully it wasn’t his…private sock, if you know what I mean. Because that would be painful AND unhygienic. Meanwhile, Macho Man is ready to kick off the second hour, and gives a promo about how he’ll be out shortly to be on the second hour. He has seen a psychiatrist, and she diagnosed him with OCD: One Cool Dude. I don’t think that’s an actual medical diagnosis. Randy Savage, as promised, joins us to kick off the second hour, and thankfully it can’t be much worse than the first hour. He chases Bobby Heenan around while poor Bobby tries to join the commentary team. Randy Savage v. Ric Flair Savage attacks like some sort of vicious, primal…guy, and we immediately take a break. Back with Flair dumping him into the crowd, but Savage runs him over to the VIP table and assaults him with various high-priced food items and associated dips. That table has been an awesome running gag for months now. Back in, Savage slugs him down for two and pounds away in the corner, which gives us a Flair Flop and a Flair Flip. Savage follows with a dive and lands facefirst on the railing, and we take another break. Back with Flair throwing chops and fighting off a Savage comeback, but he goes up and gets slammed off. Flair keeps slugging and finds a foreign object, which gets two, but Savage goes low after a ref bump and drops the big elbow. Savage wants another one and the women all shield Flair, but Savage drops it anyway. Benoit runs in and gets piledriven, but Mongo gets to be the Horsemen hero and clobbers Savage with the HALIBURTON OF DOOM and puts Flair on top for the pin at 13:00. Hell of a match, with Savage just crazy intense the whole time. I know, who would have thought? ***1/2 Glacier is totally coming, you guys! We recap the Bash PPV, including a detail I had missed before: The briefcase of money given to Mongo was Macho Man’s alimony money! That’s actually pretty great. Cruiserweight title: Dean Malenko v. Rey Mysterio Rey works a headlock and does some nice flying into a moonsault press, and a rolling cradle gets two. Dean puts him down with a short clothesline and works on the back with a half-crab. Brainbuster gets two. Rey escapes to the floor, but Dean brings him back in and goes up. Rey blocks, but Malenko puts him down with an electric chair for two. He continues working on the back with wacky holds on the mat, and then MURDERS him with a powerbomb for two. Overhead throw gets two. They head to the floor and Rey whips him into the railing and then follows with a rana from the apron to the floor, which draws a gasp from the crowd. Back in, they head up top again and Rey comes down with a sunset flip for two. Rey with a crazy spinning rollup for two. He counters a slam for two, but Dean puts him down with the inverted DDT for the pin at 8:44. Dean guzzled him slightly less here, but they still had yet to grasp that “LET REY DO WHATEVER THE HELL HE WANTS” was the best way to book his matches. ***1/2 Meltzer, in the Observer, was still unimpressed with Rey’s showing at this point. The Giant v. Scott Steiner For the person who was asking on the blog previously, Dave mentions in the Observer here that the current plan is to run Giant v. Hogan for the title at Hog Wild, so that’s where they were going before the heel turn. Giant goes after Scott’s ribs, which were injured in the opener when Scott saved his brother from certain doom at the hands of Harlem Heat. Giant works him over and we take a break, returning with Giant still working on the ribs. The match is so boring they’ve even killed Super-Crowd. Suplex and Giant puts him on the floor and grabs a wooden chair. Back in, he misses a charge and Scott gets a mind-blowing backdrop suplex on Giant to wake up the crowd, for two. Scott grabs the chair and breaks it on Giant’s back, but he ignores it and chokeslams Scott to finish at 8:15. Terrible match up until the finish. * Glacier is coming…but now we have a date! July 1996! Still didn’t happen, of course, but I appreciate the effort. Mean Gene announces the three men who will face the Outsiders at Bash at the Beach: Lex Luger, Sting and Randy Savage. The Pulse A great show made all the better by JOE GOMEZ.

The SmarK Rant for WWE Extreme Rules 2015

The SmarK Rant for WWE Extreme Rules 2015 Live from Chicago, IL Your hosts are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler & JBL To say there’s no buzz about this show would be a gross understatement. Chicago Street Fight: Dean Ambrose v. Luke Harper They brawl outside immediately and Dean hits him with a dive, although Cole clarifies that you have to pin your opponent inside the ring. So even in a no-rules street fight, there is in fact SOME rules. I mean, you wouldn’t want anarchy. Ambrose grabs a kendo stick and beats on Harper with that, but he gets suplexed onto an open chair in a spot that probably isn’t good for the longevity of his back. Harper beats on him with the kendo stick and drops him on another chair in the corner for two. Ambrose comes back with a slam onto the chair and a tornado DDT, and the crowd wants tables. Please, it’s not the properly approved PPV for tables yet. You might as well chant for stairs while you’re at it. Ambrose with the flying clothesline for two, but Harper counters the lariat with a big boot and they end up on the floor again. Ambrose chases him to the entrance with a kendo stick and we travel into the locker room and backstage area. Harper jumps into someone’s car and steals it, and Ambrose dives in after him as the match is apparently on hiatus at 8:30 or so. Apparently car theft laws are also suspended under the Extreme Rules banner. Nothing really to the match. ** Meanwhile, Seth Rollins continues to squabble with Kane in a segment that feels like it’s 10 minutes long. Kiss Me Arse match: Sheamus v. Dolph Ziggler Yes, they actually paid people to come up with this match stipulation. Ziggler really builds that heat here by making fun of Sheamus and his Mohawk on Twitter. Greg Valentine v. Wahoo McDaniel it ain’t. I will say, Sheamus’s new music is BADASS. I will also say that I will not be using the hashtag “KissMeArse” to discuss this match on social media. Ziggler slugs away in the corner and they head to the floor right away, but Sheamus beats on him while Jerry Lawler wonders if either guy has washed their ass in preparation for the match. Well, JBL would be the expert on THAT. Back in, Sheamus goes to a chinlock and then blocks the fameasser with a powerbomb for two. Sheamus puts him down with a pair of short-arm clotheslines and goes back to the chinlock while deriding short people. Just to be clear here, in WWE-land Ziggler is NOT tall? Because that seems weird. Ziggler slugs out, giving us our first “creating separation” of the night, but Sheamus pounds him down again and hooks the Cloverleaf. Ziggler gets a nice counter into a rollup for two and a superkick gets two. Sheamus gets the tilt-a-whirl backbreaker (which Cole is now calling the Irish Curse, something like the third or fourth move to get that name) and goes for the Brogue Kick, but Ziggler counters into a rollup for two, and a small package finishes at 9:25. This was fine, didn’t really go anywhere though and lacked a big heat sequence or climax. The crowd was shockingly into the stupid stip, however. **1/2 Seems really early to blow off the heat on Sheamus, but that’s the WWE midcard in 2015 for you. And as usual they renege on the stip, as Sheamus lays out Dolph with a low blow and Brogue Kicks him instead, then shoves Dolph’s face into his ass. This week on the WWE Network, a bunch of crappy shows that no human being would possibly want to watch. Like really, a retrospective about Mayweather v. Big Show? Gee, I wonder why they’re suddenly reminiscing about that match? I thought PPV was dead! Although apparently King of the Ring is coming back, so there’s that. WWE tag titles: Cesaro & Tyson Kidd v. The New Day The Brass Ring Club are the clear babyfaces here. Tyson controls Kofi and gets a backslide for two, and Cesaro comes in for a slam on Big E and a double stomp for two. They fight to the floor with Tyson getting a nice somersault dive on Kofi, but the New Day double-teams him to take over. Kofi with a dropkick for two as the crowd is unsure what to chant for the champions. Big E misses a charge and lands on the floor, it’s hot tag Cesaro. He throws uppercuts on Kofi in the corner and gets a clothesline for two, but tries the Giant Swing and Kofi escapes to the top rope. Cesaro suplexes him and Kidd drops the elbow for two. Big E comes back in with the spear off the apron and it’s BONZO GONZO, but Kidd blocks Kofi’s wacky kick and hooks the Sharpshooter. Big E breaks it up with a suplex on Kidd, but Cesaro cleans up and gets the Giant Swing on Kofi. Cesaro gets distracted with Woods, however, and Kofi rolls him up for the pin and the titles at 9:40. Good double-team stuff here, but the finish was pretty bad. Still, Kidd and Cesaro are on another level of awesome right now. So of course they jobbed. ***1/2 I feel like we’re through the looking glass now, in an era where they talk about how the promotion is all about entertaining the fans and then they push guys who are defined by how much people hate watching them. Meanwhile, the New Day’s victory promo is interrupted by Dean Ambrose crashing into the arena with the stolen vehicle, as they continue the match. Dean Ambrose v. Luke Harper, Part 2 Back to the ring as both guys grab some chairs from under the ring and Harper powerbombs him on one for two. He buries Ambrose in chairs and goes up, and there’s already a million logical problems with that one, but Ambrose slams him off and hits the Dirty Deeds for the pin. Did that really need the 30 minute break? I mean, it’s kind of a clever idea, but it’s not like it made for a better match or anything. US title, Russian Chain Match: John Cena v. Rusev Rusev attacks in the corner and touches two corners, but Cena quickly touches three before Rusev cuts him off. Rusev dumps him and ties him in the ropes for some punishment, then back in for two corners. There’s a major issue here in that the chain is WAY too long to build drama. The guys are just walking around the ring touching the corners, without having to sell the drama of dragging the other guy around. Cena runs Rusev into the post and touches two corners, but Rusev beats him down with the chain. At this point the announcers discuss what an underdog that Cena is, because this is Rusev’s match. A match that has never been broadcast on WWE TV before and thus is Rusev’s first time. They’re kind of contradicting themselves there. They keep hitting each other with weak shots from the chain as this has no drama to it, and the crowd is so bored that they chant for Lana. Lana waves at them, which angers Rusev and he sends her back to the dressing room. So now Cena comes back after 10 minutes of nothing and hooks the STF. And…? This match is STUPID. Cena touches two and now Rusev gets the Accolade. Again I ask, and…? Cena powers out and runs Rusev into a pair of corners, which light up for Rusev, but Cena cuts him off with the FU. Both guys are down and they crawl around the ring touching corners and then Cena gives him another FU and touches the fourth to retain at 13:33. Just because Eddie Guerrero had one good “touch all four” match 11 years ago doesn’t mean we need to ever see it again. ** WWE Divas title: Nikki Bella v. Naomi Apparently Naomi is now a Sasha Banks-esque heel and Nikki is the babyface. Because reasons. WWE: Where we’re telling stories, except when we’re too lazy to actually tell the story. Naomi controls with a chinlock and drops an elbow for two, but Nikki rolls her up for two. Naomi bulldogs her into the turnbuckle for two and a kick out of the corner for two. Nikki mounts the comeback, but Naomi gets the butt splash for two. A moonsault misses, but Naomi escapes the Rack Attack and rolls her up for two. Nikki gets a jumping kick out of the corner for two and Brie adds a shot from the outside, and the Rack Attack finishes at 7:15. This is apparently shocking behavior to the announcers. Dull and way too long. With AJ and Paige gone there’s literally nothing left in this division of interest. *1/2 Meanwhile, Rusev yells at Lana in Russian, and she goes to see the Authority. Last Man Standing: Roman Reigns v. The Big Show Roman slugs away on the Human Pee Break and dumps him before grabbing a table, but Big Show shoves it back under the ring in a cute spot. Reigns hits the apron kick and gets another table, but this time Big Show uses his frying pan sized hands to break it. Roman grabs a kendo stick, but Show slugs him down and breaks that, too. So that’s where all their budget on the Network went to – replacing needlessly broken weapons. Show punches Reigns down, but he grabs a chair and beats on Show with that. See, but we already had all the chair spots in the street fight, so why drag them out again on the same show? Reigns grabs a pair of tables, but Show hits the KO punch and Roman is up at 8. Show tries a chokeslam onto the table, but Reigns gets a samoan drop through it and Show is up at 8. Show with a spear for an 8 count and he goes up with a pump splash that misses by a foot and still gets an 8 count. My god, if that splash had actually made contact, Reigns would be DEAD! They slowly lumber to the top rope and Reigns goes down, but comes back and slams Show off. Two superman punches follow, but Show blocks a third and chokeslams him through a pair of tables at ringside. Luckily, Roman is up at 9. Show charges and goes through a table for 8, but bails to the floor and Reigns spears him through the barricade. Show is up at 9 and goes to the announce table, so Reigns spears him from one table to another and buries him under the Spanish announce table rubble to win at 19:45. Probably as good as you were going to get out of this, although the stalling early hurt it a lot and you’ve gotta wonder how many crazy beatings that they can put Reigns through in order to make up for their lousy booking of him. ***1/4 Bo Dallas joins us to tell us how smelly that Chicago is. You tell ‘em, Bo! Sadly, Ryback does not Bo-lieve and comes out to beat him up. And then to waste more time, we get ANOTHER WWE Network commercial. Meanwhile, Rusev announces that he’s facing John Cena AGAIN next month, this time in an I Quit match. Come on, really, four PPVs in a row? Why not continue Cena’s open challenge with a mystery opponent or something more interesting? WWE World title: Seth Rollins v. Randy Orton This show has really been dragging since the tag title match so hopefully this is quick. Seth tries to run right away and Orton pulls him down and slugs away. Rollins climbs for it again and Orton slugs away in the corner, but Rollins powerbombs him for two. They keep kicking and punching and Seth gets a clothesline for two as the crowd completely dies off. Orton makes a comeback and Rollins keeps trying to run away, then hits Orton with the flying knee off the top rope for two. Orton comes back with the powerslam for two, but Rollins escapes the draping DDT and gets a superkick for two. They fight to the top again and try to escape, but now J&J Security comes out to interfere in the match where no one can interfere, and Rollins is saved. Kane tells them to get lost and Orton takes over on Rollins again with the draping DDT, and a Pedigree for two. Orton tries to go for the door and Kane won’t let him out, but then Rollins goes for the door and he slams it in his face, too. So now Kane and J&J all head into the cage, where no interference can possibly happen, and Kane chokeslams the security geeks and then Orton and Rollins as well. I don’t even understand what the motivation is supposed to be at this point. Kane puts Rollins on top for two, but Orton gives Kane an RKO and then Rollins gives Orton an RKO and exits the cage to retain at 21:04. Well that was definitely not quick. Or particularly good. **1/2 So apparently due to controversy, this feud MUST CONTINUE. Because otherwise what would they fill time with? The Pulse Nothing bad tonight, although the cage match was a boring letdown and took the show down from thumbs up territory for me. I didn’t regret the three hours, particularly, so I’d call it thumbs in the middle tonight. Check out my rundown of the show at the Sporting News as well: http://www.sportingnews.com/sport/story/2015-04-27/wwe-extreme-rules-2015-wwe-network-seth-rollins-randy-orton-big-show-roman-reigns

The SmarK Rant for WCW Great American Bash 1996

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

The SmarK Rant for Monday Night RAW–06.10.96

The SmarK Rant for Monday Night RAW – 06.10.96 Taped from Sioux City, IA. Week three of a 1996 RAW taping cycle. Feel the excitement. I don’t think there’s much this show could do to top the batshit craziness of Nitro this week, ether. Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Jerry Lawler King of the Ring Qualifier: Owen Hart v. Yokozuna Owen attacks and pounds Yoko with the broken arm, showing what a badass he truly was. He’s like Tara on SOA! Yoko chops him down, but misses a legdrop and Owen takes over after a cheapshot from Cornette. Owen hits him with a leg lariat, but goes up and misses a dropkick to allow Yoko to make the comeback. Banzai Drop misses and Owen pins him with his feet on the ropes at 4:03. The end was rapidly approaching for Yokozuna’s career. This was OK thanks to Owen bumping all the place. ** Meanwhile, Jake Roberts has some big problems, man. Choking on his own vomit due to coke and pills and such. But then among us hasn’t been there? That’s why it was such a relatable character. King of the Ring Qualifier: Bodydonna Skip v. Marc Mero Mero has been hanging around for three months now and I still have no idea what his character is supposed to be. I kind of wish he had just come in as Marvellous Marc Mero instead of having to fall back on that gimmick after the injury. Mero sends Skip running with some armdrags and a dropkick, but Skip suplexes him on the top rope to take over while Jake continues his sob story on commentary. Skip with a flying fistdrop and Vince plays “What’s in the news?” to show how LIIIIIIIIIVE they are. Skip goes up top after 15 years of this barnburner and Mero dropkicks him on the way down, but Skip goes to a devastating surfboard. Skip misses a top rope rana, but recovers with an enzuigiri to the shoulder for two. And we take a break. Goody. Back with Skip holding a chinlock and he follows with a gutwrench for two. Another chinlock and a slam gets two. Skip dumps him and misses a dive, and Mero gets his own five and finishes with a top rope rana at 12:34. Way too long for what it was. *1/2 Jerry Lawler presents Ultimate Warrior with the infamous framed portrait, while Warrior RUINS the whole angle with that damn baseball cap. They could have drawn millions and outdone the nWo, but Warrior’s baseball cap sunk the whole thing. And in fact Lawler hits him with the portrait, Warrior basically ignores it, and then runs off. Wow, what an angle. Also, Meltzer rips the lid off the whole comic book lie in the Observer this week, noting that Vince made up the whole “#1 comic in the world” thing and that most major distributors don’t even carry it. Shocking. Note to Jerry Lawler: This feud didn’t work because it was STUPID and no one bought Lawler as any kind of threat, not because of any baseball caps. British Bulldog v. Undertaker Also, this week in the Observer, Bulldog clears up his issues with the WWF thanks to promises of dropping the entire Diana angle, despite getting a “big money offer” from WCW, and he basically agrees to stay after all. Whew. So now the heat shifts to Jim Cornette being given the right to select a guest referee for the title match instead. Bulldog slugs away in the corner, but Taker chokes him out and Bulldog runs away. Back in, Taker goes old school and drops the leg for two. Bulldog hammers away on him and hits the delayed suplex, but Taker sits up, so Bulldog powerslams him for two. We take a break and return with Bulldog holding a chinlock, but Undertaker makes the comeback. Bulldog cuts him off with a neckbreaker and legdrop for two and goes back to the chinlock again. That goes on for a long time, with Bulldog making O Faces for some reason to really sell the exertion, but Taker finally suplexes out. Bulldog with the powerslam, but Taker escapes and they slug it out. And then we take another break to really stretch things out. Back with Taker hitting the chokeslam and they fight to the floor, but Mankind pops out of the ring apron and holds Taker’s foot, giving Bulldog the countout win at 17:19. Wow, way to really build up Bulldog for that title match in two weeks. Mankind beats the hell out of Undertaker again and we’re out. Does it kind of weird anyone else out thinking about Undertaker as a part of these shows that seemed like a lifetime ago, with everyone dead or retired, and yet Undertaker was just wrestling Bray Wyatt third from the top at Wrestlemania a few weeks ago? I guess it just shows the effectiveness that his character retoolings have had over the years that he can still be a believable part of the show today. ** The Pulse You literally missed nothing if you skipped this one.

The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro–06.10.96

The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro – 06.10.96 Uh oh, content warning. Must be a Benoit episode. HOUR #1! Live from somewhere. But our main event tonight is the Horsemen v. Joe Gomez & Renegade, so that’s pretty exciting. Apparently it’s Wheeling, WV. Your hosts are Tony Schiavone & Larry Zbyszko Booker T v. Scott Steiner A little less than five years later, and these two would be closing out the history of WCW as World and US champion. No wonder WCW died, they gave away the last ever World title match on a free Nitro five years beforehand! They fight over a backslide and counter each others’ suplexes, but Scott hits him with the butterfly powerbomb. They fight to the floor and HOLY COW who is the hot blonde sitting at the table with Tony and Larry? Back in, Booker with the ax kick for two and he goes up with a nice crossbody for two. Scott reverses a suplex into a Slop Drop and they slug it out, but Booker runs into a boot. Scott with the belly to belly , but Booker dodges the frankensteiner and puts him down with a sidekick for two. Booker goes up and misses a flying splash, and Scott hits him with an overhead suplex for the pin at 5:55. Anticlimactic finish, but a really good TV match, with all action! *** Not as good as Gomez & Renegade v. The Horsemen will be, but pretty good. Debra McMichael interrupts Scott Steiner’s post-match promo because she’s so upset about Steve. He might go crazy and hurt someone! As long as neither Joe Gomez nor Renegade get hurt before our main event tonight, I’m fine. Diamond Dallas Page v. Jim Powers It’s the Nitro debut of Powers, where clearly they have no steroid testing. He looks an overinflated parade balloon for pete’s sake. Powers gets a pair of rollups and Page takes him down by the hair and stomps away. Gutwrench powerbomb gets two and Page chokes away, but Powers makes the comeback with the dropkick for two. Page finishes this goof with the Diamond Cutter at 4:00. DDP is now fully slimmed down and sporting the look that would make him a star later in the year. Almost as big of a star as Joe Gomez. Meanwhile, Konnan is ready to face the “legendary” El Gato, who is well known all over South America. No part of the continent in particular, of course. Maybe it’s like these Nitro shows where they don’t announce the country that El Gato comes from unless it’s over a certain population? They really had no idea what to do with Konnan at this point, did they? You know who they did have clear plans for, at least? Joe Gomez and the Renegade. Sting v. Meng Meng fires away in the corner, but Sting comes back and then misses a dropkick. Meng continues beating him down, but Sting slugs back and bulldogs him. Meng sneaks in with a small package for two, but Sting rolls him up for two. Meng goes up and Sting brings him down and hooks the Scorpion Deathlock (sort of) for the submission at 3:00. This was pretty shitty. DUD Hopefully Joe Gomez and Renegade can save this show. Meanwhile, Debra tracks down Bobby Heenan, trying to stop the match before Sunday. Heenan slams the door on Okerlund, and Debra runs out of the dressing room screaming. Flair and Arn are apparently so fired up that they beat up Joe Gomez and Renegade right there in the hallway, thus robbing us of our advertised main event tonight! FUCK YOU, HORSEMEN! DAMN YOU TO HELL ON BEHALF OF JOE GOMEZ AND THE RENEGADE! Hacksaw Jim Duggan v. David Taylor Apparently our new main event will be Flair and Anderson now challenging for the tag titles against Sting and Luger. That’s still a pretty big step down from Joe Gomez and Renegade. IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE GOMEZ’S NITRO DEBUT! Duggan hits the three-point stance for two while I’m mourning the loss of the main event, and finishes with the taped fist at 2:20. This gets one-half Joe Gomez out of five. Meanwhile, we get a video package for Dean Malenko’s upcoming title defense against some midget from Mexico. Ron Mysterian or something. This video apparently takes place two weeks ago on Nitro according to the random graphic overlay. Meanwhile, Big Bubba feels like John Tenta might actually be a fish…a BEACHED WHALE. Well, that’s a mammal, but I appreciate the effort. Scott Norton gets promo time. Just accept it. HOUR #2! Your hosts are Eric Bischoff & Bobby Heenan WCW World title: The Giant v. Scott Norton At least the booking of Norton last week makes a bit of sense now. Norton attacks Giant in the corner and gets nowhere, bumping to the floor off a shoulderblock. Giant follows him out, chokeslams him on the floor, and pins him to retain at 1:40. OK, that booking makes less sense again. DUD Lex Luger runs out to make the save and he gets his ass kicked as well, but comes back by using Flair’s VIP bucket as a weapon. This makes Giant very angry, but not angry enough to chase after Luger while he cuts a promo at the announce desk. Lord Steven Regal v. Billy Kidman And now we get Kidman’s debut as the babiest babyface who ever babyfaced. Regal destroys him after surviving a flurry of offense and a missed 450, quickly finishing with a Liontamer at 1:00 while STEPPING ON HIS HEAD. Sting makes the save with a vicious backhand in retribution for last week, and Regal’s besmirched reaction is the greatest thing ever. What a magnificent human being. The Nasty Boys v. The Public Enemy Same goofy brawl they always have. Except with no weapons and the announcers completely ignoring the match and talking about the Bash main event. We take a break and I scour the Observer for interesting stuff because there’s nothing in the match to talk about. Oh, here’s something from this week in history: “I think they are going to keep the identity of the third member of the Nash & Hall team a secret until the 7/7 show. There are things that lead me to believe it may not be Lex Luger after all, which is a mistake. Rumors are flying it’ll be Jeff Jarrett since Vince McMahon on the WWF hotline brought up Jarrett’s name with Diesel and Ramon as expecting him to join WCW. Jarrett gave notice to Titan and is working out his notice in USWA and he is WCW bound, however his WWF contract doesn’t expire until the fall so it probably won’t be him. The WCW team will be Sting & Savage and either Flair or Luger.” Holy god can you imagine a world where Jeff Jarrett was the mysterious third man? They would have been out of business by January! Anyway, we take a break and return with another Glacier promo and more stuff happening. We’re at, what, three months now for those Blood Runs Cold promos with nothing evident? All the split-screen cameras in the world can’t make this match not suck. Finally someone throws in a garbage can and the ref calls for the DQ at 11:00. I was literally paying no attention to this match, but DUD seems fair. Hulk Hogan still has the red white and blue running through his veins! Although Hogan’s legal team would like to stress that it’s only running through his veins for medical reasons, and it was legal in the states where it was running through his veins at the time, and was only obtained with a legal prescription for the red white and blue. WCW World tag titles: Sting & Lex Luger v. Ric Flair & Arn Anderson Bischoff apologizes for not delivering the debut of Joe Gomez here. Leave the memories alone, Eric. Just stop saying words! Flair throws chops on Luger and gets nowhere, as Luger clotheslines everyone. Flair bails and then gets dominated by Luger again. Flair getting repeatedly press-slammed and beat up is just great no matter when. Over to Arn and he fails to outsmart Sting and gets bulldogged. Sting joins the press-slam party on Flair, who retreats to his VIP table to regroup. And Giant already ate all the fancy cheeses! Flair asks for a timeout, so we take a break and return with Sting in control of AA again. Arn gets pinballed for two, but Sting misses the Stinger splash on Flair. Flair stupidly goes up and gets slammed, and Sting gets a flying clothesline for two. Superplex gets two. Arn comes back with a spinebuster for two to take over, and the Horsemen go to work. Flair can’t get a suplex because his back is injured, so Arn cheats on his behalf and keeps Sting in the corner. Flair’s figure-four is reversed for two and we take another break as Heenan desperately wants to go to ringside and manage. Back with Flair chopping the shit out of Sting, but he comes back with a sunset flip for two. They do the pinfall reversal sequence, but Flair tags out on the backslide and Arn puts Sting down again. Arn misses a pump splash and it’s HOT tag Luger, who just no-sells everything and goes to town. Powerslam on Flair gets two. He puts both Horsemen on the floor with a clothesline, but Giant heads into the ring for the DQ at 17:37. Great match, as you’d expect. ***1/2 The babyfaces go crazy and attack him with chairs, but Giant no-sells all of it and casually walks away. He promises Mean Gene that Luger goes out on a stretcher on Sunday. Eric Bischoff goes to wrap things up with a fired-up Heenan…but Scott Hall returns to cause more trouble. Bobby running off in terror is such a great reaction. Bischoff wants to know where the big surprise is hiding…and here’s Kevin Nash to remind us what the adjective in “Where the big boys play” is. LOOK AT THE ADJECTIVE. Nash wonders if they could actually get three of their fossils cleared long enough to work a match between Slim Jim commercials and crappy TV shoots. So this Sunday, if the Outsiders want to show up at the PPV, Bischoff will bring them their match. Oh man, this was AWESOME. And also the Bash PPV was one of the greatest of all time, so there’s that. The Pulse Yeah, I’m gonna redo the Great American Bash 96 this week, don’t worry. Definitely the best of the two-hour Nitros thus far, a really entertaining show aside from the bad spot with the Nasties and Public Enemy. I just hope Joe Gomez can weather this setback in his career and become the main eventer that we all know he can.

The SmarK Rant for Monday Night RAW–06.03.96

The SmarK Rant for Monday Night RAW – 06.03.96 HULK HOGAN’S ROCK N WRESTLING is added! You know I’m gonna review the SHIT out of that. Now that’s what I’m talking about. Taped from Fayetteville, NC Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Jerry Lawler King of the Ring Qualifier: Bob Holly v. Stone Cold Steve Austin Austin is now running solo after deliberately losing to Savio Vega at Beware of Dog 2, which Meltzer at the time complained made no sense but in fact ended up changing the course of wrestling. They trade headlocks and Vince talks about how they’re going to “break with tradition” and show footage from the PPV. They just showed the entire main event of IYH5 a few months before this! Holly rams into the turnbuckles, but Austin fires back with chops, so Holly takes him down with a chinlock. Austin powers out with a backbreaker and drops the knee, and the middle rope elbow gets two. He tosses Holly and necksnaps him on the way back in, then drops another knee for two as we take a break. Back with Holly making the comeback with an elbow for two and he slugs away in the corner, but Austin drops him and finishes with the Million Dollar Dream at 11:00 to advance to the second round. The crowd was really getting into Austin here. *** Mankind v. Barry Horowitz Mankind beats Barry down and hangs him in the Tree of Woe for a dropkick, and they head to the floor for more abuse of Horowitz. And we take a break. Really? For THIS match? Back with Mankind finishing with the Mandible Claw at 5:45. Total squash. Meanwhile, we get RARE footage from the PPV, as they do an incredibly lame double-pin finish to build to a rematch at King of the Ring. And then, to continue the comedy of errors that was this year, British Bulldog gave 90 day notice after this episode and actually could have left for WCW at the end of the summer had he wanted to. That’s probably where the nWo third man rumors about him came from. He of course re-signed and got the tag titles in September instead. Meanwhile, a naked Goldust lounges in his den and assures us that he saved Ahmed Johnson’s life last week. Also, he loves chocolate in his mouth. The Godwinns v. Tekno Team 2000 This show is sliding downhill rapidly. Speaking of downhill, the Bodydonnas are on a search for a new manager, and we all know where THAT ended up. Tekno Team works on PIG with some pedestrian stuff and Erik Watts gets a standing moonsault for two. Troy drops elbows and we TAKE A BREAK?! Back with Phineas making the “hot” tag to Henry, who dodges a charge from Fortune and finishes with the Slop Drop at 8:11. The crowd was literally silent for the entire match before mysteriously cheering loudly for the finish. ½* Meanwhile, Clarence Mason clarifies that he’s now suing Gorilla Monsoon, as they suddenly drop the Diana angle due to her objections and Davey’s possible departure, and shift the heat to that storyline instead. So by the time we got to King of the Ring, the main event angle was beyond dead. King of the Ring Qualifier: Jake Roberts v. Hunter Hearst Helmsley It was stated explicitly in the Observer at the time, for those wondering, that this is the beginning of Hunter’s punishment for the Curtain Call and it’ll probably last for a while. So it wasn’t just something that we found out retroactively. Hunter escapes an early DDT attempt while they let his valet talk to Lawler for some reason. Vince just BURIES her on commentary in a really funny bit, deadpanning that she’s part of the “Rocket scientist of the week program”. Speaking of burials, Vince then goes off (for legal reasons) on a long explanation about how Razor Ramon and Diesel are in fact not under contract to the WWF and are “perpetrating a ruse” while under contract to a rival promotion. Well, that pretty much puts an end to that invader angle over on Nitro, I’d say. Of course, the more he made those claims, the more it made people think that he was being a lying carney and they were actually working for the WWF. You’d think the smart thing would be to just shut up and let the lawyers do their thing. The stalling just goes on FOREVER here, as Hunter keeps evading an armbar and we take a break after 5:00 of literally nothing happening. Back with Hunter working him over in the corner as Vince talks more ridiculous bullshit about Warrior’s comic, which has now exploded into one of the highest-selling comics of all time. Meanwhile, Hunter goes to a chinlock, but Jake fights out and gets the short clothesline, but Hunter elbows him down for two as we take another break. Back with Jake hitting the DDT out of nowhere for the pin at 13:40. Hunter on his back looking at the lights would quickly become a familiar sight. -* The Pulse Terrible show this week aside from one good Austin-Holly match.

The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro–06.03.96

The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro – 06.03.96 Live from somewhere. HOUR #1! Your hosts are Tony Schiavone & Larry Z. Big Bubba v. John Tenta Before the match, Tenta clarifies that he’s not a fish or an avalanche, but a real live man! A man with a stupid looking haircut now. Bubba still has his hair for some reason, so Tenta attacks and then RUNS WITH SCISSORS. Bubba wisely runs away at 1:00. Amazingly this feud would get worse from here. DUD HIGH VOLTAGE v. The Faces of Fear It’s the epic debut of future WCW tag champion Kenny Kaos, although his partner was dubbed “Ruckus” here instead of Rage, as the world would soon come to know and love and remember forever. And yet, still better names than Konnor and Viktor. High Testosterone double-teams Barbarian, but he gets sick of that shit and powerbombs Robbie Ruckus to a big pop. Ruckus gets repeatedly slammed by Barbarian and he hits a top rope belly to belly, and DOUBLE FLYING HEADBUTTS and the mafia kick from Meng finish at 3:20. Consider those geeks SQUASHED. * Meanwhile, Sting and Luger accuse the Steiner Brothers of taking cheapshots last week. This was obviously all leading to something that never was going to pay off due to the dramatic change in direction of the company a month later. Disco Inferno v. Sgt. Craig Pittman Pittman goes for the arm immediately and Disco freaks out and makes the ropes, but Pittman suplexes him for two. Pittman goes for the armbar, so Disco gives up before he can lock in the move at 1:40. That would be a smart move in MMA. Plus, as Disco notes, if he suffered a broken arm he couldn’t disco dance. DUD There were some spectacularly ugly people dancing along with Disco here. Just saying. Lord Steven Regal v. Hacksaw Jim Duggan Regal walking around reacting to the bottom-feeding hicks at ringside is worth the price of admission. This show HAS to be in the South given the toothless morons cheering for Duggan tonight. There’s literally a guy in coveralls at ringside! A quick check of the Observer confirms that this was in Asheville, North Carolina, which has to be the least surprising thing I’ve read all day. Duggan quickly overpowers Regal and he bails, and back in for more abuse from Duggan as Regal bumps all over the place. This brings the Bluebloods out to surround the ring while Duggan tapes his fist, but Regal rolls him up for the pin at 4:24. * for Regal’s facial expressions. Not exactly a stellar way to get him ready for Sting at the Bash. Regal cuts a great promo afterwards, however, detailing how he wants Sting mean and nasty and rude for the match. Kevin Sullivan v. Prince Iaukea A video package before the match helpfully recaps the Sullivan-Benoit feud thus far. This is Iaukea’s debut, by the way. Sullivan blitzes the poor guy and hangs him in the Tree of Woe, then finishes with the double stomp at 1:20. Meltzer at the time clarifies that this isn’t “Rocky Iaukea” but might be his younger brother because he kind of looks like him. Ric Flair & Arn Anderson v. The Rock N Roll Express Jesus, the Road Warriors leave and they bring in the Rock N Roll Express to replace them? We almost had the greatest tag team division in history! We almost had Sting & Luger, The Steiners, The Road Warriors, The Faces of Fear, The Four Horsemen, The Nasty Boys, Public Enemy, The Rock N Roll Express, Harlem Heat and the Outsiders all in the same promotion at one time. For some reason they do the second hour pyro a minute into this match, complete with countdown on the screen, and switch to the Bischoff/Heenan announce team. After the frou-frou, Flair gets down to beating on Morton, but the RNR double-team him in the corner and the Horsemen bail. Gibson hits a flying bodypress on Arn for two and puts Flair in the figure-four, and we get double figure-fours because it’s apparently 1986 every day in this arena. Flair and Randy Anderson even do the shoving gag for old time’s sake. Flair and Arn bail again and we take a break. Back with Morton controlling Arn in the corner, but Flair comes in and chops Morton for some dramatic selling. Finally a blind charge misses and Ricky Morton is face-in-peril. Arn stomps on his head and Flair runs him in the railing on the floor. Back in, Arn goes to work on the arm and Flair gets a suplex. We actually get Morton on camera appealing to a fan in the front row to help him, as he just pulls out every trick in the book here. Speaking of which, Morton comes back with a sleeper, but AA drops him with a backdrop suplex and Flair comes in for the figure-four, which Morton reverses for two. Sunset flip is blocked by Flair and they cut off the ring as Bobby Heenan heads down to ringside to give some advice to the women. I’ll skip the advice gag because otherwise it’ll get pretty dark. Hot tag Gibson and the RNR hit the double dropkick, but Woman pokes Gibson in the eye and Arn finishes with the DDT at 18:02. This should have been really entertaining and stolen the show, but it just felt like a sad retread of the 80s for the RNR and completely lost steam at the end. **1/2 Still, for the most part I enjoyed it for what it was. Bobby Heenan confirms the rumors that he will indeed be managing the Horsemen at the Bash. This was pretty great. Hulk Hogan is still a thing that exists. WCW World title: The Giant v. Ice Train Ice Train yells at Jimmy Hart like a moron, and Giant chokeslams him at 0:30. DUD Scott Norton comes out to defend his partner, so Giant chokeslams him twice as well. Scott Norton v. Hugh Morrus Norton is still out, so Morrus legdrops him for two and drops elbows while talking trash. Morrus goes up to finish, but Norton catches the moonsault and pins him after…something…at 1:10. Kind of looked like a powerslam, maybe, sorta? Gotta keep Norton strong. Because reasons. DUD Meanwhile, Mongo and Kevin Greene discuss strategy at the Power Plant and decide to hire Randy Savage as their coach. Well that decision didn’t exactly work out well for them, did it? WCW World tag titles: Sting & Lex Luger v. The Steiner Brothers Randy Savage calls in as they split-screen the match with the announcers for some stupid reason, so we basically lose the first two minutes of the match and take a break. Back with Luger getting double-teamed by the Steiners and Rick hits the bulldog for two. Sting comes in with the Stinger splash and Scorpion, but Scott saves and suplexes Sting. Top rope ran gets two, but Sting gets the Deathdrop and Luger comes in with the Rack. It breaks down again and everyone brawls for the no-contest when Giant chokeslams everyone at 8:40. But then everyone teams up and fights back on Giant, allowing Luger to clothesline him out of the ring. Lots of action but the match didn’t go anywhere. ** Scott Hall interrupts the wrap-up (amidst vicious legal threats from Titan) and his accent is already changing. Sting tries to save and challenges him RIGHT NOW, but hall doesn’t like to be told what to do. So next week, a BIG SURPRISE for Sting. And for once, that would be a surprise that would pay off. And we’re out. The Pulse A much better-paced show than the first two-hour effort, although the wrestling was still crap outside of a pretty decent Horsemen v. Rock N Roll match. The booking just feels like on-the-fly nonsense at its worst, though.

The SmarK Rant for Monday Night RAW–05.27.96

The SmarK Rant for Monday Night RAW – 05.27.96 Anyone have experience with the Amazon Fire TV? I know they don’t have WWE Network on it yet, but apparently it’s a lot more powerful than the Roku Streaming Stick that has been steadily flaking on me for the past year now and it’s not like I have any shortage of devices that can access the Network anyway. The other problem is that they don’t technically ship to Canada, but there’s ways around that as well. Live (THANK GOD!) from Fayatteville, NC Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Jerry Lawler King of the Ring Qualifier: Goldust v. The Ultimate Warrior Hopefully this will be better than their atrocity at In Your House. Vince throws me off yet again by noting that the tournament will happen on the “WWF Network” but in this case he was referring to this show and Superstars. Goldust runs away for the first minute , but Warrior hits him with a pair of atomic drops and Goldust bails. Back in, Warrior no-sells all of his offense and chases him out of the ring again. They fight on the floor and Warrior sends him into the post, which gets two. Vince claims that Warrior #1 is the highest-selling comic book in the world at that point. Given that it was pretty much impossible for any of the indy presses in 1996 to ship more comics than your average Batman or X-Men issue at that point, I would find that statement highly dubious. Plus Diamond sales figures were delayed by months. I mean, it would have been impressive to sell [x] number of copies or whatever, so why did it have to be “the #1 selling comic book in the world”? Goldust runs away again and we take a break as Ahmed Johnson chases him back to the ring again. Warrior misses a charge and Goldust dumps him to give us MORE stalling. Back in, Goldust works on the arm, but Warrior backdrops him for two. Warrior with a belly to belly for two as he’s loudly calling spots right on camera. Goldust takes him down for a neck vice as Vince notes how bad the officiating has been “lately”. Has he not been watching wrestling for the past 100 years?! Goldust goes to a lengthy chinlock, but Warrior powerslams him for two. Warrior makes the comeback and Goldust runs away yet again, with Warrior following this time for the world’s more boring double countout finish at 14:47. So both guys are tragically eliminated from the King of the Ring tournament. I guess this was slightly better than their first match? -* Jerry Lawler tries to attack Warrior with a chair, but gets nowhere, and that’s the kickoff of THEIR feud. Meanwhile, Ted Dibiase is so confident in Steve Austin that he’ll leave the WWF if Austin can’t beat Savio Vega at Beware of Dog II. The Smoking Gunns v. The Bodydonnas For those keeping track, the idea is now supposed to be that the Gunns are heels with Sunny as manager and the Bodydonnas are now babyfaces, but this was all so poorly executed that fans continue giving them the reverse reactions. The Gunns dominate Zip with power moves and Skip comes in for some nice reversals with Billy as we take a break. Back with Zip apparently saying “fuck it” and going heel again with a low bridge on Bart to take over, and Skip gets a legdrop for two. Zip with a Doctorbomb for two. Skip with an elbow for two as the Godwinns come out to confront Sunny as the long beating on Bart continues. Billy comes in and gets double-teamed, and the Donnas hit Bart with a slingshot suplex, but Skip tries a flying bodypress and Bart rolls through for the pin at 11:37. The heel Gunns ended up being an effective act, but this wasn’t a good start for it. ** King of the Ring Qualifier: Ahmed Johnson v. The Man They Call Vader Slugfest to start and Ahmed beats the hell out of Vader in the corner as the crowd goes BATSHIT for him. Finally Vader pokes him in the eyes to escape and returns fire with his own beating, but Ahmed clotheslines him out of the corner and takes him to the floor with a Cactus Clothesline. Cornette finally whacks him with the tennis racket to slow him down, but Ahmed shrugs it off and we take a break. Back with Vader going to the middle rope with a splash for two. They slug it out again in the corner and Vader hits him with a corner splash, but Ahmed suplexes him. Vader puts him down again and goes up for the Vadersault, but it misses and Ahmed makes the comeback with clotheslines. Powerslam and Ahmed hauls Cornette in for a beating, but a disgusted Owen Hart runs in from the commentary table and nails Ahmed with his arm cast, giving Vader the win at 11:00. That arm took the better part of a year to heal! Really fun match with Vader happy to let Ahmed lay into him as hard as he wanted. *** Meanwhile, the doctors haul Ahmed to the back on a stretcher, but Goldust intercepts it and gives him mouth-to-mouth. A horrified Ahmed wakes up with gold paint on his lips and kills the first fool who gets in his way, in this case Bob Holly. He drives some poor geek through Goldust’s dressing room door, takes out the cameraman, and then stalks off to end the show. That was a GREAT angle and made me want to see Ahmed destroy Goldust and get his revenge. Which he did. The Pulse Really solid live show aside from whoever had the brilliant idea of having Warrior go 15:00 with Goldust.