Thursday, March 5, 2015

WCW Monday Nitro: February 3, 1997

Last week: Tony Schiavone lost his luggage at the airport, and was forced to dress like this:


Will he right the ship tonight? Nitro is NEXT!

LIVE from Memphis, Tennessee, home of tomato based BBQ, sad country music, and Jerry Lawler’s criminal history, THIS is Nitro!

 HOLLYWOOD HOGAN, TED DIBIASE, and VINCENT arrive. One of them is playing air guitar and strutting around like a gimp; but I’ll leave it to you to guess which orange colored sea creature is doing that. Wolfpac kisses all around. Really Vincent, is this what you spent all of 1991 fighting for? Martin Luther King Jr. is spinning in his grave. Hogan claims to be on a mission from God (....), and he’s a little annoyed that Piper’s allegedly been following him around the country. If they weren’t a travelling company, Hogan might have a case for stalking. Hogan demands Piper show up and admit that he (Hogan) is the better man, and he’s even willing to put up the belt to force the issue.

Your hosts are TONY SCHIAVONE and LARRY ZBYSZKO, and Tony has in fact located his sports coat. Our long national nightmare is over.

RAY MENDOZA JR. vs. THE ULTIMATE DRAGON (with Sonny Onoo)

Ray Mendoza Jr. just sounds like the name of a prospective serial killer. I’m not comfortable with his presence if my wild allegations are true, but I AM intrigued about letting his story play out. Mendoza is the second of the Villanos to start working in WCW unmasked, but let’s make no mistake about it, there’s a reason they wear hoods. Someone needs to go roll Bobby Heenan out from underneath his bottle of Peach Schnapps and tell him there’s a million ugly jokes just waiting to be heard. During a leapfrog, Mendoza doesn’t get enough air, and if not for a quick thinking Dragon, he may have lost his opportunity to produce Villanos VIII through XII. Sonny counts along with every near pinfall, doing a better job of being the Diamond Doll than the Diamond Doll. Mendoza hits his first offensive move about 2 minutes in; the clothesline. 20 years of experience, and he delivers a clothesline. His next move comes by dropping down on a leapfrog, getting a 2 count. Dragon has a near impossible time lifting the sandbag to the top rope, but they get there eventually. Dragonsteiner, Dragon Suplex, goodnight – 3:14. Intriguing serial killer or not, let’s part ways with Ray Mendoza Jr. 1/2*

BILLY KIDMAN vs. GLACIER

See, now Kidman vs. Dragon would have been a perfectly acceptable opener. Did Bischoff owe a favor to one of the first four Villanos? We’ll see if Kidman’s able to get anything out of Glacier and his 3000 year old helmet. Of course, first we have to get through his 3000 year-long entrance. Even the Undertaker knows to pick up the pace better than this guy. A running forearm karate chop thingy excites Tony (“lariat!!!”), and otherwise he throws kicks and goes through an elaborately stupid karate posedown routine. The fans have finally had about enough of him, and turn completely on this match. Kidman comes off the top, right into the Cryonic Kick at 2:08. Glacier Wins. DUDality.

ICE TRAIN (with Teddy Long) vs. LA PARKA

I’m starting to think there wasn’t a lot of thought put in to tonight’s undercard. It’s clearly time to start the Parka push, and Ice Train is as fine a specimen as any to play victim #1. Of course, starting by taking a huge clothesline and running avalanche probably isn’t how we want to keep Parka looking strong, but I’m keeping the faith. Parka comes back with a spinning heel kick and he heads up top. Super spinning heel kick is on point, and Train hits the floor. Of course, paying attention to any Mexican wrestler is rule #1 of being on the floor, but Train doesn’t, and gets nailed with a slingshot corkscrew plancha. They head back in, and Train catches Parka off a springboard crossbody, powerslamming him. Of course, none of this matters, because …

THE OUTSIDERS, wielding pipes, stand over a fallen LEX LUGER. Tony and Larry IMMEDIATELY jump to the conclusion that they’re responsible without once stopping to think it’s possible they are the first on the scene, having just come from the bathroom where they finally fixed the leaks caused by Chris Benoit and Kevin Sullivan’s general disregard for public property.

Back to action, which features Parka being beaten up some more. The Train Wreck finishes at 5:16. Eat a dick, WCW. 1/2*

It’s a little early for the Shank of the Evening, but since “MEAN” GENE OKERLUND is calling out RIC FLAIR, CHRIS BENOIT, MONGO MCMICHAEL, WOMAN, and DEBRA, my clock must need adjusting. The lack of Arn Anderson is a sad reminder that every show moving forward will feature a lack of Arn Anderson. Benoit refers to this period of the Horsemen as a “transitional period”, which is usually sports code for “we’re bottoming out”. Woman calls out Jackie, reminding her “you got my leftovers, girl”. Snap snap snap, mmm hmmm. Mongo declares his loyalty to the Horsemen, and asks for the right to replace Lex Luger tonight in his match against Jeff Jarrett. That sounds horrible! Debra reveals a bombshell: She’s won 318 pageants, and has an IQ of 145. Finally, we turn to Flair, and he remains a ray of sunshine, declaring everything fine in the Horsemen, and excitedly talks about how much sex they’ll all be having.

HARLEM HEAT (with Sista Sherri) vs. THE STEINER BROTHERS

Harlem Heat’s gone straight up OG tonight, donning their retro street-rags. A darn shame they went to all that trouble to be job fodder for the Steiners. THE FACES OF FEAR (wearing white Nitro shirts – dudes, come on!!!) and THE PUBLIC ENEMY have somehow acquired front row seats to watch this one. The Steiners get the DDP treatment, giving some silver lining to the nWo dominance by seeing some new stars slowly emerge as top level heroes. Booker rakes the eyes of Scotty and nails the Harlem sidekick, and he gets some quality heat for his shenanigans. Scott responds by picking Booker up over his head and throwing him to the outside, and both Steiners pose to a god-like reception. Stevie Ray and Rick pair off next, and Stevie’s come out firing tonight, adding a new move to his limited arsenal: the removal of the opponent’s head gear. Rick takes him down, and Scott enters the ring in a foul mood, applying a Steiner Recliner and threatening to break his neck. Break it doesn’t, and Rick comes in, walking straight into a bicycle kick. Booker tags in, hitting a beautiful Harlem sidekick for 2. Unfortunately for him, the leapfrog is blocked with a catch, and Rick powerslams his ass with some serious force. Scott enters, and hits Stevie with a butterfly suplex. At this point, we are given a lesson. And that is, you can’t turn a savage into a lackey. The most savage warriors in the history of mankind jump the barricade and beat the living daylights out of everyone in the ring at 5:00. Public Enemy joins in because they’re followers, and you have no idea what I wouldn’t give to see Rocco Rock take the Tongan Death Grip for the next 45 minutes. Both of the teams who interfere wind up fighting each other all the way to the dressing room, while the Steiners and Heat argue with Marc Curtis over which of them were truly the winners. *1/2

MIKE TENAY and “SOBER” BOBBY HEENAN replace Larry, who has gone off to try and qualify for the PGA tour.

MIKE ENOS vs. DEAN MALENKO (in a non-title match)

It’s really something that they insisted on putting the belt back on Malenko so fast, considering all they want to do with him is fight guys who aren’t within the weight boundaries of the division. Enos reminds Malenko he is Far Smarter, and displays those brains by finding himself on the mat and tied up like a pretzel. I’m not one to argue his smarts. After all, it takes a whole lot of something to dress like this:


Enos continues to point to his head as he misses an elbowdrop, and nearly gets taken down with a backslide by a guy who weighs a little less than a newborn sea turtle. Malenko starts to work over the left arm, and Enos responds by grunting and squealing like he’s visiting a Czech Hostel. Enos rolls out of the way of an elbowdrop, and the fans come alive because SYXX is coming through the crowd. He grabs the Cruiserweight title right off the lap of DAVE PENZER who isn’t a very convincing bodyguard, and heads back through the crowd with the gold. Enos hits a powerslam while Syxx parades around, showing off his newly captured prize. A vertical suplex is blocked with a small package, and Malenko scores the win at 7:10. Yes, 7 minutes for Mike Enos on Nitro. *

Malenko is informed of his lost title, and he reacts by looking exactly the same as he did before he was told.

“MEAN” GENE OKERLUND decides to hear from KEVIN SULLIVAN, JACQUELINE, JIMMY HART, and KONAN, which make up the bulk of the sad looking Dungeon at this point. Poor Maxx was forced to adhere to his curfew again. Sullivan calls Jackie the light in his tunnel. Hart, so emotional that he takes off his sunglasses, screams that he hates women in professional wrestling. Konan vows to take care of Sullivan’s unfinished business with Benoit, so that Sullivan can take care of his unfinished business with Jackie. Jackie brags about her all natural body, and promises to beat Nancy “like you stole somethan.”

DIAMOND DALLAS PAGE vs. THE RENEGADE

It’s nice to see that WCW remembered they have a number one babyface in Page and have decided to actually book him tonight. This is a rematch from Fall Brawl 1995, where Page needed 8 minutes and an assist from Maxx to capture the TV title. Something tells me, he may have an easier time now. Page bitchslaps Renegade around, and winds up taking a corner clothesline and handspring back elbow. Renegade goes to finish up top, but Page dives at the ropes to crotch him and hits the Diamond Death Cutter at 2:04! 1/2*

THE OUTSIDERS stand at the top of the ramp, still armed with pipes, and dare Page to come at them. Page nervously looks around for an out, which just so happens to be the moment that STING and RANDY SAVAGE turn up in the upper concourse. Page uses the distraction of them to grab a steel chair and arm himself. Sting and Savage disappear into the night, and the Outsiders decide to save their attack for another day. This whole scene felt like a standoff, and there was a serious nervous tension in the air. Perfect segment, it doesn’t get any better than this.

SUPER CALO vs. ALEX WRIGHT

One of the biggest misses of this WCW era was the lack of focus on the people behind the wrestlers. We can spend days on end talking about Kevin Sullivan’s relationship with Nancy, but we can’t get a 3 minute segment dedicated to Calo’s love of unmovable hats and sunglasses? Was he involved in a tragic Kraz-E Glu accident as a child? Does he carry his lunch under his toque? Is it at all related to the disappearance of Fit Finlay (may he rest in peace)? Catherine White REALLY should have been assigned to this; the lady spent weeks following around Cactus Jack on a dock in Cleveland, that chick’s relentless. Fans burst into a Boring chant, but I like to tell myself it’s a specific chant of frustration aimed only at Alex Wright. Of course, Calo lets me down by trying to climb the turnbuckle and slipping off the middle rope, drawing a chorus of laughs from this snarky group of Memphis folk. Fear not; the hat remains affixed. He goes to the well a second time, and hits the springboard crossbody this time. After he does his springboard armdrags (which make up 90% of his moves), Wright comes back with a spinning heel kick and belly to belly hammerlock suplex for 2. Wright gets knocked outside the ring, and Calo goes loco with a top rope plancha. Bobby and Tony finally notice that the hat and sunglasses never move, and with Bobby on board, you KNOW this is finally getting the attention it deserves. Tenay continues to call the action while they discuss the ridiculousness of his ring gear. Calo gets knocked out of the ring, and falls right into A FAN in the front row. Just as the dude gets to his feet, Calo runs into him a second time sending him sprawling, and the fans are eating that up. Buddy loses his shit, screaming at Calo, while Wright hits a plancha. With no further focus on the guy, was that all unplanned? If so, I dig it, because that guy was positively livid. Calo comes back in and hits a superplex off the top, but Wright kicks out at 2. Next, a super headscissors takeover knocks Wright down, but he misses a somersault guillotine. Heenan: “And his hat is still on!” Missile dropkick from Wright finishes at 6:38. Someone needs to call an audible and send in Gene to get a quote from the guy in the front row. This was at least seven stars; one for each day over the next week that I’ll think about this match and smile.

KONAN (with Jimmy Hart) vs. CHRIS BENOIT (with Woman)

Alright Chris, now would be a fine time to show us why you’re the Crippler. Konan hits his stupid tumbleweed clothesline and screams about Mejico. Seeing as how he’s the Hulk Hogan of Mexico, and seeing as how I have never seen any of Hogan’s overseas footage, is that how the Hulkster behaves overseas? Knocks a guy down with a punch and screams “AMERICA!!!” to a chorus of Japanese respectful silence? The first person to confirm Yes, this is a fact, gets to point me to their favorite international Hogan match for my own education. Benoit suddenly goes nuts, putting Konan on the top rope and chopping the ever loving shit out of his undershirt. A superplex connects, but it’s Konan who recovers first, and Konan nails Splash Mountain for 2! He goes for a second one, but Benoit slides off the back and nails a German suplex! Benoit calls for the finish, and as it turns out, the finish is JACQUELINE carrying a strap down to ringside, and the referee immediately calls a DQ at 4:16 before anything even happens. Chris rushes to Nancy’s safety and steals the weapon from Jackie. Jackie starts digging around under the ring for anything she can find, but comes up empty. How is that POSSIBLE? I’ve seen tables, chairs, ladders, sledgehammers, stop signs, fire extinguishers, a bucket of Curt Hennig’s poop, a bowling ball, kendo sticks, The Undertaker, handcuffs, baseball bats covered in barbed wire, and an entire courtroom of midgets under the ring, and you’re telling me that she can’t find ANYTHING? I’d encourage using the bucket of poop, but Curt Hennig neither works for WCW at this stage, and having a black wrestler throw poop at someone is probably all kinds of racist. *1/2

JEFF JARRETT vs. MONGO MCMICHAEL (with Debra McMichael)

Honest to god, if they could bottle Mongo’s energy and give it to a GOOD wrestler, they’d have a mega-star on their hands. I can’t believe I’ve reached a point where I’m retroactively defending Mongo in a wrestling capacity, but the other guys really could have learned a ton from him, on how to work a crowd. So, months of frustration have boiled over to this point, and Mongo’s pretty much getting the Goldberg push at this point, leading to Jarrett getting his ass whooped all over the ring. Only a missed elbowdrop (which Mongo sells like it’s been amputated) gets Jarrett back in this, and he flattens McMichael with a clothesline. A top rope crossbody gets 2, and Mongo kicks out with enough force to send Jarrett 4 feet backwards. Jeff responds with a dropkick that knocks Mongo over the top rope, and he’s seeing stars; but it turns out those are just the sparkles on Debra’s enormous breasts. Debra doesn’t want Steve back in the match, but Mongo tries shoving her off. She won’t say no, and because he won’t do anything to harm his wife, he winds up getting counted out at 2:20. Debra gives Jeff a wink and a smile, and Jeff pours gas all over that fire by telling him “you just couldn’t get it done, could ya Mongo?” *

That was your main event, because “MEAN” GENE OKERLUND hits the ring with only a few minutes left. RODDY PIPER comes down to ringside with ONE OF HIS KIDS. Piper’s in a great mood tonight, and the fans give him a lovefest. He isn’t sure why the company is giving him a title shot, because he’s already defeated Hogan. Nobody plays the Superbowl twice, and he’s already proven what he needs to prove, so he declines. Right on cue, brings down HOLLYWOOD HOGAN, ERIC BISCHOFF, TED DIBIASE, and VINCENT. Roddy begs “Terry” not to do this to him, and from the bottom of his heart, just leave him alone. Hogan laughs at his cowardness, and threatens to do something “real bad” to Piper and his family if the fans don’t stop booing. Piper’s son seems genuinely shaken, he can’t be more than 5, and Piper gently covers his ears and holds him closely. Hogan demand that Piper admit that he beat him like a drum. Piper appeases him, and asks again to leave. Hogan refuses until Piper also admits that he’s The Icon. Piper agrees, just to get him to shut up. Hogan tells him that it’s one thing to be a yellow bellied pansy, but to hide behind a kid is the sickest thing he’s ever seen. As Piper leaves, Hogan starts paintbrushing him. Piper gently moves his kid to safety … and it’s on like neckbone. Piper rips off his belt, and whips Hogan like the lowlife piece of garbage that he is. Bischoff grabs a chair, but won’t get close enough to Piper to do anything. Piper steals the World Heavyweight Title, and accepts the challenge, holding the belt high above his head. And you know what? As much as Piper’s driven me nuts … he looks good with the belt.


Sting is clearly the longterm plan; but if the rumors are true that Bischoff wants to hold off until Starrcade, a quickie run with Piper from February through, say, April might not be the worst move they’ll ever make. The fans aren’t going to accept nWo shenanigans forever, and a good will gesture on their part may be just enough of a carrot to stretch us out through December.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

WCW Worldwide: February 2, 1997

LIVE on 3-MONTH DELAY from the Disney MGM studios, it’s WCW Worldwide! What kind of sizzling hot action can we expect this week? Alex Wright, Kaoru, and Konan amongst others! For god sakes don’t you change that channel to … whatever the hell else airs on Sunday afternoons after football season!

TONY SCHIAVONE and “SOBER” BOBBY HEENAN who does not appear to be having an easy time standing up are your hosts. Heenan starts hyping tonight’s main event between Mysterio and Malenko for the 5000th time, by talking about Malenko’s 1000 holds and counters, then trying to figure out whether Mysterio has more or fewer, but he winds up confusing himself (and Tony), so Schiavone just moves it along by saying “it’s quite a rivalry!”

ALEX WRIGHT vs. BUTCH LONG

Poor Butch really missed his chance to make some real money in this business by failing to call Vince Russo in a year and propose a feud with Val Venis over which of them was truly “Long”. Butch, if you’re reading, I hope you can’t sleep at night. Bobby asks why Butch had his spleen sewn on to the back of his head, in reference to his quality single braided mullet. Wright hits a pair of headscissors takeovers, and gets booed for some reason. In this controlled environment, da hell is that? Butch pounds on the German “sensation”, and hits a backdrop suplex for 2. A sitting surfboard goes nowhere, so he uses the worst version of the Pedigree I’ve ever seen for 2. A vicious clothesline keeps Wright down, but Wright fights back with a couple of kicks and hits a running European uppercut to knock down the big man. Long botches a hiptoss sell, but Wright doesn’t slow down, hitting a spinning heel kick and missile dropkick for the win at 5:58. Butch was a fantastic combination of God Awful and Perversely Entertaining, so I think we need more of him. 1/2*

SONOKO KATO vs. KAORU (with Sonny Onoo)

Heenan shushes Tony during the intros, calling Kato’s theme a “catchy tune” (she’s using the Generic music usually associated with Kaz Hayashi or Jushin Liger). Tony asks him why he feels that way, and Bobby scoffs asking Tony “you don’t recognize KISS?” Tony argues that it’s not KISS, because he hasn’t learned that you can’t argue with the man. Also, in some old storyline progression, Tony says that Sonny is still pursuing the investigation against Bobby Heenan for the fraudulent attempt to sell him Nitro – which as it turns out Bobby didn’t own. Heenan calls it a misunderstanding, that he was simply trying to help act as a broker between Onoo and the people in charge; but Tony flat out says he saw Bobby with a 6 figured cheque and Bobby changes the subject at warp speed, focusing on trying to figure out what “GAEA” means on Kato’s sports bra. Both ladies take turns biting each other, which would be the plot for the sequel to 50 Shades of Grey had it happened in 2014. Kaoru throws Kato by the hair, and the fans rightly boo everything. Kaoru hits a snap suplex for 2. In a creative move, Kaoru locks Kato in a front facelock, and reaches around her own back with the other arm to pull at the hair. The referee sees it, so Kaoru hits a jumping Face Sitter. Kato isn’t ready for that kind of exploration, and hits a bulldog to get rid of her. A backdrop sends Kaoru to the floor, but before Kato can follow up, Sonny pulls her to the floor and stomps at her. Man on woman violence! At Disney? In front of the KIDS? It’s amazing WCW wasn’t immediately evicted! Marc Curtis DQ’s the heels immediately at 4:55. *

LEE MARSHALL starts talking about great second generation wrestlers, and I anticipate the arrival of some new star, but no, it’s just stupid DEAN MALENKO. Malenko says he hopes to accomplish half of what his father accomplished. Whoa, Dean, relax, we don’t need controversial comments like those on this show.

KONAN (with Jimmy Hart) vs. JERRY FLYNN (for the Mexican Heavyweight Title)

Holy shit – we haven’t seen THAT belt in months. Of course, Konan was officially stripped of the title in October, but that’s not stopping him from wandering around with it now and screaming “ARIBA MEJICO!” He’s basically the fat, slow moving uncle of Speedy Gonzalez. Jerry shows off his “lightning feet”, specifically waving them around in the air while trapped in an Indian deathlock. Tony speculates that Flynn will be a player once he develops some in ring skills, for which he has time because he’s a “young man”, a spry 38 at this point. Konan tosses Flynn with an overhead belly to belly, and finishes with the cradle DDT to retain his phony title at 3:36. DUD

“LORD” STEVEN REGAL proudly shows off his TV Title to LEE MARSHALL – and … is he smiling? Enjoying himself? Of course he is – he knows he’s the most important man in WCW since he’s the highest ranking champion still under the WCW banner. He has no interest in making movies like Roddy Piper, because he’s a wrestler, and the best wrestler in the world. When it comes to talking, “I can make Piper sound like he’s been sedated”. Oh, he’s feeling good, so Marshall tries to cut him down by pointing out a lot of hungry wrestlers still want his title. Regal blows him off by reminding him he’s already gone all over the globe once before, where he offered title shots to the planet, and nobody dethroned him. “If there was a ring in someone’s back garden, I’d wrestle there … and I did exactly that.” Why wasn’t that televised? Marshall concedes that Regal’s great, and Regal iterates one more time he’s the greatest specimen in WCW today. ALL HAIL LORD REGAL!!!!!

DEAN MALENKO vs. REY MYSTERIO JR. (in a non-title match)

Tony calls Heenan “Dream”, and Bobby gets pissed because he’s wearing a nice pair of shoes and not loafers covered in meadow muffins. Tony: “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to insult Dusty like that.” These two are all kinds of salty tonight. Tony notes that Mysterio may need knee surgery in the near future, which sadly would be an omen for things to come.

WCW takes its final timeout before the main event kicks off, and we return to find them circling each other. Rey sweeps out the legs, but both guys bounce back up immediately. Malenko tries a wheelbarrow, but Rey flips mid move and hits an armdrag, following with a springboard moonsault for 2! Rey tries for the headscissors, but Malenko grabs his ankles and hits a HARD double leg slam. Mysterio somehow fights off the pain right away and catches Dean in a small package for 2! A rana is blocked with a gutbuster, and the fans ADORE Rey, so the boos shower down on the champ. A standing vertical suplex gets 2. Malenko hooks on a headscissors to cut off Rey’s air circulation and slow the little guy down. Rey squirms loose, so Malenko hits him with a backdrop suplex and squeezes him with a headlock. A powerbomb gets 2, and Malenko looks a little frustrated. A pumphandle slam is twisted mid-move, and Mysterio gets 2. Dean goes back to trying to get Rey to tap out, but it’ll be a cold day in hell before that happens. A hot shot is delivered with such force that Rey bounces right off the ropes and flies to the outside of the ring. He slowly crawls back in before the 10-count, and finds the wind to charge. Malenko launches him over his head, but Mysterio lands on the top rope, flying backwards immediately with a springboard senton for 2! Rey tries a suplex, but Malenko blocks it with his weight, so Rey drops down in a bridge for 2! Mysterio hits a forward roll, and NEARLY gets the pin, with Malenko only kicking out at the last hair. Rey goes to finish with a super moonsault, but Malenko rolls away and the bellyflop is enough for Malenko to score the pin at 8:24. Tony called this one of their best matches ever, and while I wouldn’t go that far, it was a quality Worldwide main event. ***


Tony hypes the impending return of Jushin Liger to the Cruiserweight division. Heenan says no champion will ever hold the title in that division for an entire year, because they wrestle too frequently against strong competition. Armed with one of the smartest statements to ever come out of Heenan’s mouth, Tony wraps things up, and we outtie.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

WCW Saturday Night: February 1, 1997

One Year Ago: On the 02/03 Saturday Night, Ric Flair cheats to beat Dean Malenko before vowing to have Elizabeth ride Space Mountain one more time. On the 02/05 Nitro, Chris Benoit and Randy Savage tear it up, Marcus Bagwell has what is likely his best singles match ever, and the Road Warriors get a tag-team title shot. Feel free to look back fondly at all your favorite Todd Morton moments by clicking those links. I’ll still be here when you get back.

TONY SCHIAVONE and DUSTY RHODES welcome us to the Cyborg Factory aboard the Mothership for my favorite 2-hours of the week. Yes, even more-so than Nitro, because the nWo stays away from this show and they’re really starting to get on my nerves. Thank god Hogan doesn’t work Saturdays.

GLACIER vs. ACE DARLING

Tony hypes a man that has made a big impact in our sport; but I fail to see this person. Glacier sports his 3000 year old hat and Krang belt. This guy has the best deal in the company; work once a month, get a colorful blizzard every time you show up, and not only don’t you have to sell, your opponent isn’t allowed to hit you with an offensive move. When Hogan’s out-working you, you’re sitting pretty. Glacier does martial arts, causing Darling to cower in the corner, and Glacier won’t attack because of his Honor. Darling steps forward to fight, and like any good Mortal Kombat player does against an amateur, he sweeps out the legs. Darling knocks down Glacier and heads up, but he misses a guillotine legdrop and takes a tigerbomb. The Cryonic Kick puts this away, and Glacier remains undefeated at 2:00. DUD

The Bischoff / Randy Anderson segment is replayed from Nitro.

LEE MARSHALL checks in with the mental state of the STEINER BROTHERS. The latest addition to the world of leather fetish, Scott Steiner, has decided they are in fact the world tag-team champions no matter what Bischoff says. And, if the nWo want to reclaim the title, they’ll have to fight them. Glass half full!

THE AMAZING FRENCH CANADIANS (with Colonel Robert Parker) vs. HIGH VOLTAGE

I have to applaud the bookers, who, armed with a roster of 8000, have successfully put together a match I have absolutely no desire to see. Rougeau tries his hand at the National Anthem, and Dusty’s even ruder than Tony usually is, because he doesn’t even stop talking to give them a CHANCE, completely ignoring them. High Voltage gives them a Thumbs Down, and them’s fighting thumbs. Rage hits a springboard splash on Ouellette for an early 2, but the big man flattens him with a clothesline. The Colonel gets in a couple of free shots on the outside. Back in, Rougeau slams PCO onto Rage, and that sets up the Quebec Crash at 2:21. 1/2*

Teaser: Bischoff should be nervous, Piper returns Monday.

DISCO INFERNO vs. TREVOR ALLEN

You know, if Disco’s planning on being the Honky Tonk Man’s protégé like all the NewzSites are saying, he’s gonna have to hurry up and actually leave WCW. Movie buffs are likely familiar with Allen; he played the banjo in Deliverance.


Disco spends the first 20 seconds of the match carefully removing his neck chain and vest. I hope to god the instructions to his leg lock weren’t in there! Disco knocks down his beady eyed opponent, and then gives him a high five. That’s fantastic. Of course, he’s a dick, and immediately takes to stomping on his new friend, with a little bit of a mean streak in his actions. A side slam sets up the leg hold, but his opponent shoves him off immediately. Disco, unsure what to do now, hooks the ropes to dodge a dropkick and makes a second go of it. Disco actually figures it out this time, named the Last Dance, and he wins at 3:10! Disco screams “IT WORKS?!?” in disbelief! So proud, he goes to do it again, but the referee tells him to piss off. Disco is a superstar amongst jobbers. *

BUDDY LEE PARKER vs. ALEX WRIGHT

Is it a slow week at the Powerplant or something? I don’t feel like we’ve seen Parker in 1997 yet, but I have the memory of an ostrich. Tony starts beating his chest about being the big ratings winners in the war of professional wrestling, thanks in part to all the biggest stars like Lex Luger, The Giant, and Dean Malenko. Dean Malenko? Seriously? I mean, I like bland old Dean just fine, solid worker, and I appreciate Tony throwing the Cruiserweights a bone; but Rey Mysterio Jr. is the obvious kingpin of that division from a marketing standpoint. Parker nearly succumbs to a sunset flip off the top, but he’s a military man and he’s determined to “send this man back to Germany!” Wasn’t he a cop? And where the hell IS Lieutenant Wright? I’m going to assume he’s still assigned to the grizzly murder of Fit Finlay, but there comes a point when you need to consider the case cold and get back to your regular duties like issuing traffic tickets and wrestling the Steiner Brothers on weekends. Wright hits a plancha, but that’s old hat in contrast to our new friends from south of the border. German suplex gets the win at 4:30, but Alex needs to pick it up. The days of a white meat babyface being enough are done, and no amount of hype changes the fact that he’s getting outworked by even the lowest of the imports like Galaxy and Ciclope. 1/2*

JEFF JARRETT and LEE MARSHALL get together to clear the air. Jarrett starts calling out the Horsemen for not being man enough to take on the leadership of WCW. He reminds the world he’s beaten all of them, and if Mongo wants to step up and start taking cheapshots, he’ll happily put him in his place and take over the leadership of the entire Horsemen group himself.

KONAN (with Jimmy Hart) vs. SGT. CRAIG PITTMAN

Konan has adopted new music which I have to presume is his own, but I can’t hear it very well on my choppy old copy of the show. He takes on … awwwww hell, Pittman’s STILL employed?!? Why god? Konan remains an N short, and has seen his push stalled since he lost it. Pittman works some sort of awful hammerlock, which Konan sells by grunting pleasurably. He changes to a wristlock, and follows with a crossface (IE: sitting on his ass and wrapping an arm around his opponent). Look, I have a rule, and I call it the Backyard Rule. If any untrained 13 year old wrestler can perform your moves without hurting themselves, you probably shouldn’t be in the ring. Hell, *I* can do this:





What the hell IS that last move? And no, I didn’t catch him mid-stream in an attempt to make my point, that is honest to god what he was applying. Tony tells us that Pittman is wrestling “his kind of match”, which is fine, but maybe he can keep it to his living room and not nationally broadcast television? Konan wins with a cradle DDT 6:37. -**

SUPER CALO vs. THE ULTIMATE DRAGON (with Sonny Onoo)

Tony pimps out an upcoming WCW event at the Florida state fair; but Dusty has little interest in working, promising fans will find him walking around the midway eating cotton candy. I have absolutely no reason to doubt this, actually. Calo tosses Dragon across the ring, and hits a spinebuster for 2. Frustrated, Calo stops to check that his hat is still on his head. Thankfully it is, and he’s so excited he actually manages to hit a somersault legdrop off the top. Seeing as how this is the first top rope move he’s ever hit, he goes for another one, forgetting to play the odds and just knock it off. Dragon blocks a splash with the knees, and it’s go time now. Brainbuster gets 2. The handpring back elbow misses, and Calo hits a butterfly suplex for 2. A fast senton yields the same, and Dragon spin kicks Calo in the face. Calo sandbags a powerbomb, and despite Dragon fighting like hell to pick him up, he finally drops him … right on the back of his neck. He’s thankfully ok, and Dragon gets 2. A dropkick sends Calo to the floor, but he sidesteps the baseball slide and hits a rope swing dropkick of his own! A slingshot somersault plancha drops the former champion, and Calo poses for the fans; hat and sunglasses not an inch out of place. He goes for a corner senton, but Dragon sidesteps and Calo hits the corner, landing right on the back of his neck again. Not a good day for Calo’s future. Dragonsteiner sets up the Dragon suplex, and that’s that at 4:47. Despite Calo’s sloppiness, this was a ton of fun. ***

The most critical storyline in WCW history is aired in full: The debut of Jacqueline. It eats 13 minutes off the back of the show though, so I ain’t complaining.

LA PARKA vs. LEX LUGER

Ok, this pairing is sort of ridiculous. There is nothing wrong with feeding Luger a steady stream of fat jobbers; hell, Buddy “Valentino” Valentine must be looking for a payday. However, I don’t have any interest in watching the Chairman act as a tennis ball for Slim. Sadly, it’s what the bookers want. A jumping spin wheel kick sends Luger to the floor, and Parka’s all over him with a tope suicida! Back in, the missile dropkick has Parka in charge, and he gives Luger the old thumbs down. La Parkinator goes to finish … but Luger kicks out at 2. Fiddlesticks. Parka is unable to follow up and takes a clothesline, and it’s all Luger from here. Powerslam, Rack, goodnight dear skeleton at 2:57. *1/2

THE PUBLIC ENEMY vs. HARLEM HEAT (with Sista Sherri)

Nooooooooooooo! Calo and Dragon have completely saved this show from being one of the worst cards that I can remember in the last year+. Sherri helps too, calling the fan in the front row a “Green Bay Packer loser fan idiot!” She forgot scum, but that’s ok. Making matters worse, we’re gifted the “Nasty Boys” camera, where we do a “split” screen that only takes up a quarter of the screen so nobody can see anything. Try to remember this was shown on 27” tube TVs in standard def, making matters a zillion times worse. Grunge gets his hands on Sherri, but she scratches her nails into his eyes to escape, and everyone goes back to walking around the ring throwing punches. Somehow, Tony decides this is a fine time for commercial.

At some point while we were gone, between the walking and punching, everyone got back in the ring and a tag-team match broke out. Booker takes Grunge to the floor, and Sherri punches him in the pooter. Back in, Grunge fails to kick out at 3 off a snapmare, so the referee pretends he didn’t count to 3, and gives him a 4th chance to kick out. Stevie drops a leg for 2, and then distracts the referee long enough for Booker to get in a couple of cheap shots. Grunge hits a desperate neckbreaker, but Stevie manages to keep the ring cut off. He tries a jawbreaker next, but Booker punches Rock in the face to knock him off the apron, and then cracks Grunge with the Axe kick. Booker puts him up top, but Grunge hits a shoulderblock and finally gets the hot tag to Rocco. Both guys take clotheslines, and Sherri leaps on the apron. She’s held hostage on the apron, which just so happens to be right in front of TPE’s table. Booker pulls her to safety as Grunge flies in with the Drive By, and he takes his partner with him through the table. Both guys play dead for awhile, and the Heat Bomb finishes Rock at 8:35. Dusty: “This one was a mess.” Tony: “Yes, it was a mess, from the word go.” I couldn’t agree more. 1/2*

Tony replays the entire angle that led us to Roddy Piper’s title shot that was awarded Monday. Then we turn to “Language Experts” named MR. and MRS. SANDY MURRAY to tell us Piper was rambling about when he was hauled out on the stretcher back on the December 30th Nitro. Mr. Murray says that Piper was speaking ancient Gaelic and not in tongues. And, it just so happens that Mr. Murray is the director of the Atlanta Celtic Festival, and he just swelled with pride when Roddy started speaking his language while concussed. He calls Piper an excellent role model. Blow for everyone! Anyway, Piper reportedly said “the battle isn’t over until you get home” repeatedly, and while he can’t confirm that this was in reference to “Mr. Hogan”, he can assure us that He’s Serious and There Will Be Hell To Pay.

And just for your personal files, let’s meet Mr. and Mrs. Murray:


Dr. Unlikely is going to have a field day with these two, so I’ll pre-emptively thank WCW for their epic casting here.

Dusty believes that Piper’s rant means he still wants a match with Hogan. Thank god he’s here. Tony signs us off, by putting Piper’s “Gaelic” on a loop, which is probably about the 30 seconds of funniest TV I’ve seen since Viscera slipped on the beer.


Oh WCW, I love you sooooo much, but PLEASE, for the love of God, be better. With all the talent in the world at their disposal there's no reason for the last 6 weeks to have been so darn awful. Right the train, give me some quality mid-card wrestling, help Larry Zbyszko figure out what Sting's motives are, and we'll be ok.

Right?

Friday, February 27, 2015

ECW Crossing The Line Again: February 1, 1997

This is our first ECW arena show together, you and I. I remember, roughly 15 years ago, spending far too much time, effort, and money, trying to amass an unrivalled VHS collection of every wrestling program that ever aired in the history of the universe. This particular show was my first eye opener that there were some slippery people in the tape trading world. I, man of my world, traded someone a money order for roughly $25. They, in turn, traded me the finger. I never did wind up with my copy of Crossing The Line Again; though if you’d asked me to be patient for a decade and a half, and that one day everything I ever dreamed of could be digitally sought out and placed on a hard drive the size of one VHS tape, I could have invested thousands of dollars into my future and … who am I kidding, I wasn’t waiting no 15 years.

We start with a passionate speech from PAUL HEYMAN, promoting their first ever pay-per-view in April. THE ENTIRE ECW LOCKER ROOM is with him, though some of the more heely heels are located in the upper bowels. Taz is booked against Sabu to no surprise (but gets a 2 litre pop regardless). Paul then thanks all the fans for having his back when the PPV companies didn’t want to carry them (ignoring the fact HE allowed a 16 year old kid to get maimed on his watch), and the place explodes. Nobody can ever deny the charisma of a fired up Paul Heyman, and it’s his Us vs The World stuff that had wrestlers literally willing to die for him in the name of keeping the ECW brand alive.

JOEY STYLES hosts, because OH MY GOD nobody else is willing to work for free.

LANCE STORM vs. BALLS MAHONEY

This seems to be joined in progress, but it’s not far along because Balls isn’t sweaty. Balls no sells a lot of the early offense, but a spinning heel kick takes him off his feet. Balls tries one of his own, but Storm sidesteps and he twists his knee up between the ropes and the fall to the floor. A slingshot senton from Storm keeps Balls down, but back in, Mahoney turns the tables with a gutshot to stop a flying attack. A legdrop gets 2, while a t-bone gets nothing but probably hurt like hell. The Vaderbomb connects, and Balls grins sheepishly about his impending victory, but Storm kicks out. Balls whips Lance to the corner, by a springboard back elbow knocks the big guy down, and Storm gets back on the attack with his speed. A beautiful missile dropkick, with Storm’s rattail flowing like a beautiful golden sunset over a pristine lake setting gets 2. Balls recovers fast, and piledrives the small guy and goes for an elbowdrop off the second rope. It misses, and Storm quickly finishes with the spinning heel kick off the top at 5:22. This was a fun small man / big man clash, and probably about as good as anything you’ll get out of Mahoney. **

RICKY MORTON (with his Girlfriend) vs. BIG STEVIE COOL (with Hollywood Nova and The Blue Guy)

Wrestling, being the spectator sport that it is, relies on a specific criteria for its lady managers. Unfortunately, Ricky Morton does not understand this, bringing his very real girlfriend to the ring for god knows what reason. She looks like one of the rejected girls who didn’t make it to TV from last week’s Cedar Rapids Miss nWo contest. Thankfully, the Blue Guy knows exactly how to handle the “SHOW YOUR TITS” chants.


Morton takes a lot of heat, not getting anywhere near the old school respect that Terry Funk commands. And it’s for that reason Morton tells them to kiss his ass, and starts in with his antiquated offense. Stevie hits a clothesline, which kicks off a loud “BWO” chant. Morton plays possum and tosses Stevie outside, but Meanie was waiting for him and slams Morton’s face into the ring post. Back in, the Emerald City Slam gets 2. Stevie tries a cross arm breaker, but Morton wriggles out and stomps on his face. Morton punches Richards in the pooter, but Stevie only sells for a second before mounting Ricky in the corner and playing the 10-punch count-a-long, complete with face-fucking on 9. The Jackknife Powerbomb only gets 2, so Stevie warms up the band and finishes with the Stevie Kick at 5:35. Morton’s girlfriend joins the bWo after the match, wearing the t-shirt like a diaper thong. Totally one-sided, exactly as it should have been en-route to establishing Stevie as a legit challenger to Raven. *1/2

AXL ROTTEN vs. “DR. DEATH” STEVE WILLIAMS

Blink and you’ll miss this one. Axl starts in with the kick punch crap, but Williams has no time for amateur hour. 3 Point Stance sets up the Oklahoma Stampede for 2, and a backdrop driver finishes at 1:49.

JOEY STYLES heads down for an interview with Williams, and he wants a title shot. RAVEN arrives, and tells him if he wants the belt, then he’s gonna have to take it. I wouldn’t exactly encourage that, Raven just spent the last month chasing around The Sandman trying to get it back from the drunken klepto. The pair starts to brawl, so TOD GORDON shrugs and makes it a title match.

RAVEN vs. “DR. DEATH” STEVE WILLIAMS (for the ECW world heavyweight title)

Raven wastes no time in throwing Williams face-first to the ring post, and smashes a chair over the Doc’s back. Styles does a fantastic job selling Williams as the most dominant North American wrestler of the last decade, even though the only reason he hasn’t been pinned since the late 80’s on US soil is because he’s been hanging out in Japan and doing minimal high profile work in the States. Raven sets Williams on a table by the guardrail, but he rolls away as Raven flies in with a legdrop off the top and through the table. Williams grabs the chair, and gives Raven a shot to the face that would draw the ire of every medical professional in America today. Both guys are busted open, but Williams refuses to sell the pain, tossing Raven back into the middle of the ring. A powerslam gets 2, and a couple of fans were gasping there thinking that was it. Doc throws a series of clotheslines, and just as Raven escapes the third and looks to be on the move, Williams throws him halfway across the ring with a release German for 2. Raven staggers around, completely lost, and Williams nails a top rope shoulderblock for 2. He goes up again, and Raven throws a bunch of desperation haymakers to stop the attack. Williams is stunned just enough for Raven to jump up and hit the superplex. Charged with momentum, Raven jumps up in his pose to a massive reception … and passes out. THE BLUE WORLD ORDER, complete with TYLER and LORI FULLINGTON, make their way down to the ring. A confused Raven asks Stevie what the deal is, and the next thing you know they’re throwing punches at each other. He forgets all about Richards, who punches Raven in the back of the head, and he falls forward, noggin to noggin with Richards, knocking both men out. The Doc gorilla presses Raven into the entire bWo at ringside, except for Richards who’s still in the ring and offering his shirt to Williams. Williams tears it apart, so Richards gives him the Steviekick, but Williams pops up! A second one yields the same, and Death tells him to bring it on. The fans chant “ONE MORE TIME”, but this one’s blocked. Williams spins him around, and Stevie manages to snap off that third Steviekick. Williams isn’t getting up this time. A bloodied Raven sees his opportunity, hits the Evenflow, and retains the title at 8:27. A shame this was a one shot deal, Williams was put over like the birth of a hardcore Hulk Hogan, and he easily could have done a series with Raven. ***

THE SANDMAN vs. D-VON DUDLEY

D-Von manages to sit through Sandman’s entrance for roughly 45 minutes before he grows bored and jumps over the top to attack. I figure that was just to get the damn match started before his next birthday. D-Von grabs the stick, and smashes it over Sandman’s face repeatedly, and he’s already bleeding. D-Von sticks to the basics of punching Sandman in the face and jawing with the fans, but Sandman eventually figures to have had enough and kicks a field goal. The fans chant their rallying cry of “FUCK HIM UP SANDMAN, FUCK HIM UP!”, and Sandman obliges with a hotshot onto the guardrail, followed by a spinning heel kick off the apron. A table has been helpfully left at ringside, so Sandman smashes it over D-Von’s head and retrieves his Singapore cane. Repeated shots wind up breaking his toy, so Sandman whips him in the face with the splintered cane and DDT’s him. Bored, Sandman grabs a chair, drapes it across D-Von’s face, and drops a leg onto it from the top to score the easy win at 5:31. Sandman stares on, looking completely lifeless following the loss of his family, and doesn’t seem to particularly care that he won. The Sandman is probably one of the most tragic characters in wrestling history, because clearly feeds off of, and lives for the adulation of a group of fans who only love him because he’s a violent miserable drunk. But once that bell rings, he returns to his broken home, where you KNOW his fridge is stocked with about 400 cans of beer, and a half empty squeeze bottle of mustard. He’ll eventually pass out in his arm-chair, to the quiet flicker of late night infomercials from spirit-healing priests just begging you to send them money in exchange for miracle spring water, before he wakes up in a fog and returns to do it all again tomorrow. He’s the wrestling embodiment of an award winning short-film director who once said “don’t cry for me, I’m already dead”. *

JOEL GERTNER makes his way into the ring in the aftermath of this mess, and has the audacity to announce D-Von as the winner by a final score of 4-2, so Sandman knocks him out cold with a shot to the head with the cane. D-Von’s awake again though, and steals the cane, beating down the Sandman until BUBBA RAY and SPIKE DUDLEY come to knock it off. Face to face with their estranged brother … Bubba grabs a chair and smashes it into Sandman’s face! Spike can’t understand what the hell is going on, as both Dudleys break into grins. Spike attacks his brothers, dropkicking the chair into the face of Bubba, but two-on-one is far too much, and Spike gets nailed with a “double Bubba Cutter” which would in fact be the first appearance of the 3-D. Sandman takes a half dozen more chair shots and cane shots to the head until DA GANGSTAS clean house with a household worth of weapons. D-Von nearly gets killed with a messed up backdrop/Samoan drop thing which sends him face first into a chair via New Jack. Still, the Dudleys are the new hot team of the hour, and they come back, beating the former champs down and standing tall.

So, that was a lot of stuff for one segment. Far too much actually, Da Gangsta’s stuff could have been saved for a future show easily, instead of dragging that segment out for another 5 minutes.

THE ELIMINATORS vs. SABU and ROB VAN DAM (for the ECW world tag-team titles)

A freshly shorn Saturn starts with RVD, who struts around looking far too comfortable in his own skin right now. A spin kick knocks down Saturn, but he comes right back with a gorgeous dropkick to the face for 1. Kronus tags in and shows off, but he’s in there with the biggest show-off of them all, and Kronus is taken down with a bunch of martial arts kicks. A double-team slingshot splash introduces Sabu to the match, but Kronus hits a spinning heel kick to keep him at bay. A pumphandle suplex gets 2. Sabu hits a springboard back elbow off an Irish whip and turns matters back to Van Dam. Kronus rakes the eyes, and Saturn joins the fray as they hit stereo spinning heel kicks for 2! Sabu quickly holds Saturn hostage in a camel clutch, allowing RVD to hit a baseball slide dropkick to the face. Gory special is applied mid-ring, and Sabu flies off the top with an elbow to Saturn’s ribs. Kronus barely saves at 2, but it’s enough for Saturn to come back with a dropkick to the face. Saturn tries to block a tag by throwing a knee to Van Dam’s ear, but he manages to get there and Sabu heads in … right into a Saturnbomb for 2! Kronus and RVD throw down outside the ring, while Saturn drops Sabu with a Diamond Cutter. Everything breaks down now, and guys wind up in all parts of the outside area. Sabu dives at Saturn in the front row, drawing an “ECW” chant when he clears the guardrail. They head back in, and Sabu works a single leg crab while RVD drops a leg for 2. Rolling Thunder is complimented with a legdrop, and that gets 2. Saturn tags in his buddy, and Kronus greets Van Dam with a pump kick. Top rope splash gets 1 before Sabu saves, but he doesn’t see Saturn flying in next with a splash, and THAT gets 2. The show gets stopped with a quick scoop slam, and the challengers hit a top rope legdrop/splash combo for 2. Kronus tries to DDT Sabu, but it’s reversed into a hammerlock. Saturn breaks it up, Kronus hits an enzuigiri, and Saturn drops a leg for 2. Another enzuigiri sets up a superkick, and Kronus gets 2. A second rope senton backsplash has Kronus fired up and saying Bad Words, but he’s a little too full of pip and zip, getting backdropped to the outside by Sabu. Sabu sets up a table with Kronus on it, gets in, and goes for the triple jump legdrop; except Saturn’s too close and trips Sabu up while going for the top rope springboard. Sabu uses a leg lariat to fight off Saturn, while Van Dam brings the table into the ring. The Eliminators clean house before anything comes of it, but it remains in the ring, lurking like a bad dream. Saturn adds to the mess by getting a short painter’s ladder, but when he heads up to attack Van Dam, Sabu dropkicks it from behind and he falls on his partner instead! Both guys are wiped out with ladder shots, and they try for a dual pin. Both guys kick out, so the challengers climb each side of the ladder, giving the champs just enough time to get up and nail the ladder with Total Elimination to bring them crashing back down to reality. The fans are on their feet chanting “ECW” as Styles fills with company pride, while Saturn sets the ladder up ON the table. The table doesn’t look too sturdy, and as Saturn slowly makes his way up for whatever the hell he has planned, Van Dam kicks him off and nails him with the Van Daminator! Kronus barely saves the day, and once Sabu tosses Saturn, he’s left alone with the challengers. With nowhere to go, he fights as best he can, but succumbs to the numbers. The Triple Jump Moonsault misses, because Saturn just barely returns to shove Van Dam in the way, and Total Elimination finishes RVD off at 20:03. So, this match has been heralded a classic in some circles, but it didn’t do it for me. There were a lot of nice spots, but it literally felt like “ok, I did my move, now it’s your turn”, with very little selling of any kind, and absolutely no storytelling at all. Where Sabu’s concerned, you either love him or you don’t, and you can find me in the Don’t section. **

So after Sabu eats Total Elimination, cuz why not, TAZ shows up with BILL ALPHONSO. This is probably bad news for the fallen challengers. True to his word, Taz beats down RVD with a chair in retaliation for Van Dam’s previous assault, and locks on the Tazmission to prove that his hands are even MORE lethal than the steel. The Eliminations hold Sabu hostage, and Taz readies to strike with the chair … but he drops it and just spits in his face instead. Sabu tries to wiggle loose, but he’s dropped with the Total Elimination again. Taz tells him he doesn’t actually need the tag-team champs to do his bidding, because what he REALLY wants is for Sabu to grow a pair of balls and show up at the pay-per-view.

TERRY FUNK vs. TOMMY RICH

Really? This needs to be paid off? The fans use a surprisingly witty “YOU SUCK COCK” chant which gets a laugh out of me. Funk soaks in the love while Rich heads into the crowd to feed it to the locals, instead of getting fed as was the style in 1981. Terry busts him open with his left hands all of 3 seconds into the match, and Rich is on weak legs. They head outside, where Rich tries a kneelift, but he hits the guardrail instead of Terry. Funk smashes a chair into Tommy’s leg a dozen times or so, and Rich hobbles around like Zack Gowen. Back in the ring, Terry takes a seat on the chair, and starts lecturing Rich about respect while bitch slapping him over and over. Then he tosses the chair away cuz that’s not how Funk do; but that turns out to be a mistake because Tommy finds his wild fire and gives it to Terry. Funk is introduced face to face with the ring post, and dropped into the front row. Rich gives Terry a couple of REALLY weak chair shots to the head, and they head back in. Rich works a half crab across the top rope, while the fans give him the love via a “YOU FAT FUCK” chant. Tommy uses it for inspiration, and clotheslines Funk until he starts to bleed. A DDT looks to finish, but Funk won’t stay down. A second DDT gets another 2, and Rich finally has enough of the ref’s “slow” counts and DDTs HIM too – twice! Terry rolls to the “safety” of the table set up at ringside, but Rich grabs a chair and drives it into Funk’s knee. Rich gives himself a standing ovation, but Funk’s not down til he’s down, and starts throwing his desperation windmill punches. Rich sweeps Funk’s legs, and tries to finish Terry with the spinning toe hold – how heelish! Terry escapes and drops a knee to Rich’s junk, and now HE works the spinning toe hold until Rich gives it up (again?) at 10:51. Funk celebrates with another kick to the plums, and stands victorious with the fans. **1/2

THE TRIPLE THREAT (with Francine) vs. THE PITBULLS and TOMMY DREAMER

The babyfaces are stupid enough to stand on the buckles and pose when the heels are standing in the ring, in THIS company, and they wind up getting attacked. Brilliant work, boneheads. Douglas destroys #2 with chairshots to the head, and they make their way back in to celebrate. Of course, now THEY’RE the morons with any kind of premature celebration, and everyone spills back out to the floor and pair off. #2 winds up back in the ring with Lee and Douglas, but he successfully beats them both down until Dreamer’s able to join him with a bent piece of the guardrail. Lee is tossed into the railing, and Candido’s dumped, leaving Douglas alone with all his biggest enemies. “BREAK HIS NECK” scream the ever human fans, and lord do they try, press slamming Douglas into the guardrail, causing it to fold up on itself. On the floor, Dreamer grabs the Pitbulls chain and drives it into Candido’s face. They wind up back in the ring, and Candido crotches Dreamer across the broken guardrail piece. Tommy eats a spike piledriver while Douglas threatens to throw the guardrail at the fans. The Pitbulls wind up completely incapacitated, and the Triple Threat converge to work over Tommy with a bunch of chairs. A vertical suplex THROUGH a couple of chairs make it so that those won’t ever be used again, while Candido catches Pitbull #2 with the chain, and ties him up by the neck around the ringpost, trying to choke him to death. He’s a bloody mess, and probably not getting involved again for awhile. Candido gives Dreamer a snap suplex, and a kneedrop from Lee gets 2. The Bulldozer launches Candido off the top, right onto Dreamer for a super splash. Candido wants to finish now, and goes for the top rope powerbomb. Dreamer blocks it with a backdrop, and nails the DDT for 2. CLOUDY (?!?!) shows up now, but BEULAH’s right behind the nasty creature, upending it with a chairshot and dragging it back to the locker room. Really, Cloudy? Dreamer is held hostage by Lee with a chair, but he squirms loose JUST as Douglas and Candido come flying in with dropkicks, and the Bulldozer is down! The distraction lets the Pitbulls FINALLY re-enter the match, and they dump Candido to get their hands on Douglas. He’s tied up in the ropes, but Candido saves before anything happens. #1 is alone with Douglas now, and cracks him with a chair – but Candido dives back in to save his buddy from more. Everyone winds up back in, and the heels hit a trio of Rude Awakenings and start wiggling their hips, drawing a “you have GOT to be SHITTIN’ me” from THE MASKED MAN, who makes his way to ringside.. He tells the “fuckin’ assholes” that not only do they have no idea who he is, but they don’t know how to do the Rude Awakening. “Look behind you, assholes.” Too late, of course, with Lee and Candido dumped and Douglas tied up in the ropes, unable to do anything. #2 gives Douglas a press slam, and #1 hits the Rude Awakening while the Masked Man hangs Francine over the top rope and spanks her to the mother of all pops. Once she runs off to safety, Masked Man helps them set up a table and the fans want a Superbomb. In ECW, you want, you get, and #1 is powerbombed off the top through Douglas and the table to win the match at 16:23. This was a little better structurally than the tag-team match, but it was still disjointed mess, with all the emphasis on the weapons instead of the wrestling. **

Both Douglas and Pitbull #1 need to be stretchered, but this is ECW and there’s only 1 stretcher available, and Dreamer makes damn sure it’s HIS partner that gets it. Lee carries Douglas to the locker room while Styles signs us off.

So much for the hot streak! There was so much missed opportunity here, as evidenced by the fact that the best matches of the night were all put on by the older guys. The fact is, guys like Williams and Funk understand how to make a match violent, without resorting to all the stupid props and tricks. Hell, Terry managed to tell a fantastic story with a completely washed up Tommy Rich.

The young guys need to take something away from this. The locals will always pop huge for chair-shots and bloody messes, so it’s not like anyone’s going to be hurting for adulation; but longevity is brought on by making the fans want to see more instead of repeating the same spots week after week. This applies not only to ECW, but the nWo – and while hindsight is always 20/20, it’s not a wonder that the only group who successfully adapted was also the only one left standing at the end of the war.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

ECW Hardcore TV: January 30, 1997

Last week, Pitbull #1 returned to the mother of all pops against Shane Douglas, delivering the strongest January show to date. With one date left before we check in with Punxsutawney Phil, the month is looking to end with a bang (but sadly, not a bang bang, since he’s off grinding with strippers while dressed like a mentally deranged turd).

We are ANYTHING BUT LIVE from Scranton, Pennsylvania! JOEY STYLES kicks us off just as we started and ended last week, with THE TRIPLE THREAT and FRANCINE. Douglas forces Styles to stay in the ring, and says he’s fairly sure he knows who the masked man is. And, if it’s who he THINKS it is, then he knows he’s a ladies man who’s after Francine and not his belt, and if that’s the case, he best step off. Just to make sure the masked man keeps away, he’s hired a body guard. Out walks MIKE AWESOME – holy crap, I didn’t even know he was around in 1997! Douglas gives away the identity of the Masked Man for the handful of people who weren’t able to pick up on it by voice alone; by telling the mysterious fella that Awesome’s in a pretty Rude Mood.

A bandaged and beaten down TERRY FUNK reminisces on the ass kicking he took from Brian Lee. He puts over Tommy Dreamer as the man with the biggest heart he’s ever seen, reminding him of his father. His dad always wanted to be the world champion of wrestling, but he had a massive heart attack in June of 1973. On his way to the hospital, he asked Terry how much further to the hospital. And even though it was just a few more blocks, “dad gum it I just can’t make it”. Those were his last words as he passed away right there in the ambulance. 24 years later, Terry sits here trying to make sense of his own goals, and like his dad, he wants to be World Champion one more time. Terry breaks down, and says if he’s able to accomplish he’s dream he wants all the ECW fans in the arena to come into the ring, link arms with him in celebration and say “WE DID IT OUR WAY! Not like the WWF! Not like WCW! AAA, New Japan, All Japan, FMW, UFC … but the ECW way. What is the ECW way? It’s the only way, because it’s the most physical dangerous form of wrestling in the world today bar non. WE DID IT OUR WAY! BECAUSE WE LOVE IT THAT WAY!”

Okay, so he was a little rambly, and had some difficulty tying the story of his father into wrestling the hardcore style, but god damn if that wasn’t one of the best promos I have seen in a long, long time. Terry came across as a genuine middle aged dude, stuck at the cross roads of life, unsure where to go next. However, with father time NOT on his side, he’s getting to be an emotional guy, and is ready to appreciate and take advantage of every second he has left. Raw, unscripted promos from the heart like this simply don’t exist anymore, and it’s sad, because this was phenomenal.

We head over to Taz’s Dojo by satellite, and TAZ ready to come clean about his shoulder surgery apparently. Taz’s story: In December he tore up his rotator cuff and popped a labrum and had surgery. It was an old injury, he needed to have it done. He calls RVD a long haired punk bitch, he despises him. He went into a match with Van Dam thinking they were gonna have a classic old school grappling match, but the little bitch used a weapon because he can’t do it alone. Sandman needs a stick. Tommy Dreamer needs a garbage. And the 169-year old Terry Funk needs a shovel, even though he should be using it to dig his own grave. His hands are HIS weapons, he doesn’t need anything else. However, if Rob wants to play with weapons, we’re gonna play with weapons. The promo work is on FIRE tonight. Taz just came across as the angriest man in the world and pretty much the #1 most likely name to come up in a homicide report tonight.

Elsewhere, RAVEN brags about taking Sandman’s wife, son, and sanity. He warns Stevie Richards not to fuck with him, lest he want to be on the receiving end of Raven’s games. “Just remember one thing Stevie, no one gets out of here alive.”

Outside the bWo locker room, the fans are in party mode, celebrating Stevie Richards’ win over Little Guido earlier in the night. These guys are completely intoxicated on blue power.

RAVEN (with Lori Fullington) vs. THE SANDMAN (for the ECW world heavyweight title and Raven’s hair)

Sandman is still in possession of Raven’s belt, and Raven’s still in possession of Sandman’s wife. No worries though, because Sandman shakes off any potential pain by getting good and drunk before the match. Raven taunts him during the intros by having Lori sit on his lap in his sulkin’ corner, but he’s too busy playing the poster child for indoor smoking bans to notice. So, to get his attention he attacks from the crowd before Sandman finishes his intro, and smacks the cane over his head a bunch of times, drawing color all over 8 seconds into this. In the ring, Raven piledrives Sandman, and after a bit of a struggle, gets a table set up in the corner. Sandman reverses whatever Raven had planned, throwing the champ into the table, and it doesn’t give. Sandman returns to his drinking which he never finished (and I mean even now, not just on this one particular night), saving some to throw in Raven’s eyes. Raven hits the floor, but he plays possum to lure in Sandman and whip him around into various uncomfortable ringside objects, including a table which DOES break on impact. Sandman’s unable to stand, but that could just as well be the beer. Raven ties Sandman in the ropes by one leg, hung upside down towards the floor, and then stomps on his face. Back in the ring, Raven throws pieces of table at Sandman, and is handed a chair from Lori. Karma’s a bitch though, and that has bad idea written all over it, because Sandman dropkicks it in Raven’s face and DDT’s him on the steel. Lori saves at 2, but Sandman’s FINE with that, because he’s got TONS of unsettled beef with her. He rips at her shirt revealing … a bWo shirt underneath? Raven saves with a Singapore cane shot, but spies the shirt and he is NOT happy. He looks like he wants to deal with it, but he’s still got the smelly drunk on the other side of the ring to worry about, and he can’t seem to decide which is more critical. THE BWO makes it easy by storming the ring, and Raven tries to threaten Stevie to return to his roots with the cane. Stevie ain’t coming back though, and Sandman grabs Raven hostage for a Steviekick, and Richards gives him the blast to end all blasts. In fact, it’s SO hard that it knocks Raven’s head back into Sandman’s, and Raven falls on top for the pin at 6:20. There was about 8 different angles taking place here, but they were all intertwined in a way that Vince Russo couldn’t possibly comprehend if he spent days trying to wrap his peabrain around it. This was the usual junk from these two, but the sports entertainment kicks it up a notch. **

PITBULL #2 vs. BRIAN LEE

Joey doesn’t even give us time to breathe after the break, urgently ushering us back to the ring because this pair are throwing down RIGHT now. Pitbull is all fired up, backdropping Lee and jamming a chain into his throat. Following a spinning heel kick, Lee goes low to stop the assault. Primetime Slam connects, but Pitbull pops RIGHT up and beats his chest. Lee gives him a boot to the face, and hits a second Primetime Slam. Pitbull ain’t so quick to move this time, but still has enough to get into a slugfest with Lee. SHANE DOUGLAS and CHRIS CANDIDO don’t care for the heart he’s showing, and attack, ending this quickly at 1:54. 1/2*

The beatdown is on, but PITBULL #1 is back and not taking this anymore, taking out all 3 guys by himself! TOMMY DREAMER joins the fray, going after the Bulldozer, and that leaves only Francine still on her feet. #1 picks her up by the throat, but Douglas attacks the rehabbed neck to make him drop her. It works, and then some, because he’s howling that his neck’s broken again. The Triple Threat manages to take control of things, and pose to a loud “BULLSHIT” chant.

THE MASKED MAN hits the ring as Shane and his cronies slither towards the back, and he demands custody of Francine in exchange for Douglas maintaining his own freedom. He whispers something to her, and Francine makes her way to the ring as ECW heads off the air.


Man oh man, we had some pretty awful weeks to kick 1997 off, but this is rapidly becoming the show I’m looking forward to the most. Crossing The Line is in two days, and I’m fairly jazzed for it. When these guys hit, they hit.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

WWF RAW: January 27, 1997

Last week was one of the wildest, most unpredictable episodes of RAW seen since the Pillman gun angle a couple of months ago. Bret Hart, sick and tired of being jerked around quit the promotion out of frustration. Lead announcer Vince McMahon inexplicably rushed backstage to help appease whatever problems he was having; but why? This isn’t the first time it’s been insinuated on camera he’s got an awful lot more stroke than just calling the matches, and he’s slowly but surely getting outed as the puppet master behind it all.

Meanwhile, Steve Austin continued to trash talk everyone and anyone, and wound up getting into a brawl with just about every main event player on the roster as a result. Gorilla Monsoon also stripped Austin of his Wrestlemania title shot (but not his Rumble win), and booked a 4-way elimination match for the next pay-per-view amongst every wrestler directly impacted by Steve’s shenanigans, with the winner going to Mania.

Monday, February 23, 2015

WWF Superstars: January 26, 1997

With the Royal Rumble behind us comes a fresh set of WWF Superstars tapings from the Cajundome in Louisiana. A HUGE crowd appears to be in attendance for this one – and speaking of huge, JAMES E. CORNETTE has risen from the dead to reclaim his place at the announce table. Unfortunately, JIM ROSS is also here.

SUNNY, dressed in nothing more than a sports bra, is YOUR official timekeeper for the Superstars Bowl tonight. Lest we begin arguing on how family friendly Sunny’s cleavage is, the announcers turn to figuring out the rules for the Superstars Bowl. Despite a particularly convoluted explanation from Cornette, it’s an elimination tag-team match.

THE GODWINNS (with Hillbilly Jim) vs. FAAROOQ and CRUSH (with PG-13, D’Lo Brown, Clarence Mason, a Well Dressed Woman, and a Few Well Dressed Gentlemen) vs. DOUG FURNAS and PHIL LAFON vs. THE BRITISH BULLDOG and OWEN HART (with Slammy) (in a non-title Superstars Bowl)

Lafon starts with Bulldog, and takes him down with a single leg grapevine, but Bulldog makes the ropes. Lafon comes off the top, but Bulldog gets loose. Both guys reverse pinfall attempts, so Bulldog turns things over to Owen. Hart tries a monkey flip, but Lafon lands on his feet, so Owen hits a dragon screw instead. He starts working over the leg, taking a half second to smack Furnas in the face. The referee is forced to keep him in check, and Bulldog helps double team Lafon. Henry Godwinn gets the tag, so he just picks up Owen and slams him on Lafon for 2. Phineas tags in and hits Lafon with a vertical suplex. The Slop Drop is set up, but Crush saves for god knows WHAT reason. All hell breaks loose, and Furnas rushes in to dropkick Phineas into a schoolboy from Lafon, and the Godwinns are out at 3:56! The farmers take it to the Nation, slamming Crush face first into the ring steps on their way out, as we hit commercial.

Bulldog and Furnas are paired when we get back, but Bulldog quickly tags in Faarooq, and then clotheslines him as soon as he enters the ring, giving a 2 to Furnas. Crush comes in to a “JAILBIRD” chant, and hits a legdrop on Doug for 2.

We cut away to talk to HUNTER HEARST HELMSLEY with CURTIS HUGHES. He’s facing Ahmed Johnson later tonight in a non-title match, which is a preview for their actual title match at In Your House. Hunter doesn’t think that Ahmed’s even gonna make it to the PPV after he gets finished with him tonight.

Back to action, Owen is in and nails Furnas with an enzuigiri for 2! He argues with the referee, allowing Furnas to cradle him for 2. The Nation tag in, and Furnas does all he can to fight them off with elbows to everyone. He succumbs in time, and Crush gives him a sidewalk slam for 2. Bulldog heads back in, and he hits the standing vertical to set up the powerslam, but Faarooq rushes in from behind with a chop block, causing Furnas to fall on top and they eliminate the tag-team champs at 9:55! Down to 2, Faarooq starts headbutting Furnas in the corner, who has nowhere to run. Of course, all this wrestling is too much, and we head to the back where …

THE HONKY TONK MAN talks things over with ROCKY MAIVIA. Is he the next protégé? Does anyone even care anymore? We need a commercial break.

Back to action, and by action I mean the locker room, AHMED JOHNSON is talking about … soap and water not removing something something his title. Cornette: “Ahmed, thank you for taking time away from your day job as a United Nations interpreter to speak to us.”

Faarooq is working a sleeper, but Furnas escapes with a jawbreaker. That just pisses him off, and he slams Furnas and heads up. Furnas stops the attack with a punch to the gut, and launches Faarooq with an overhead belly to belly! Lafon gets the hot tag, and hits a spinning heel kick. Crush tries to get anything going, but he also takes a spinning heel kick. Lafon goes for the pin on Faarooq, but Crush saves. A backdrop suplex knocks down Lafon, so Furnas dives in at Crush to stop the cheating. Still, with everyone gone and Lafon prone to attack, he takes the Dominator and the Nation win the Bowl at 12:10. Silly me, I was hoping the Can-Am guys might actually be starting a well-earned push. **1/2

KEVIN KELLY introduces Bret Hart, determined to find out if he’s got a legitimate gripe or he’s just a crybaby. Bret’s concerned he’s going to be remembered as a loser and a complainer, but he’s trying to get across the fact he’s being pushed backwards. He thinks Shawn Michaels is out to destroy his career, that Steve Austin is a cheater, and he’s even getting screwed in smaller RAW matches like his fight with Vader a few weeks ago. He’s ready to let bygones be bygones, since he’s got another shot at becoming #1 contender at the next pay-per-view, and he knows he’s the best wrestler in the match. When he’s done, he’s gonna throw Michaels off the mountain (and, let’s be clear, I’m thinking he means a real mountain), and when the smoke clears he’ll be the WWF champion for a 4th time.

AHMED JOHNSON vs. HUNTER HEARST HELMSLEY (with Curtis Hughes) (in a non-title match)

Footage is replayed from Saturday’s MSG show where the Nation recruited Savio Vega, and continued their never-ending feud with Ahmed. Thankfully, he’ll be taken away from Faarooq long enough to face Hunter for the IC title at Final Four. While Cornette and Ross argue over the dates of live events, Ahmed shoves Hunter to the corner and glares at him. Helmsley gets to his feet, but Ahmed tells him to stay put, and mocks the Helmsley’s self-sanitizing routine. Hunter manages to get in a shot, which Ahmed looks amused by, before throwing a meathook of his own. “WHERE’S THE BELT?” asks Ahmed while hitting a spin wheel kick. Boot to the midsection sets up the Axe Kick, but he misses an elbowdrop on the follow up. Ahmed regroups and charges, but Helmsley pulls down the top rope and Ahmed hits the floor. GOLDUST and MARLENA watch on a monitor backstage, as we head to commercial.

Helmsley’s working a knee into Johnson’s weak kidneys, and once he gets Ahmed down he drops a knee to the face for 2. Triple H starts considering his next move, but takes far too long as Ahmed stands up with ease and hits a standing vertical suplex for 2. Hunter comes back with a boot to the face, but he wastes more time with a curtsy. Ahmed backdrops him, so Helmsley starts a conversation with the referee, drawing in Curtis with the belt to hit Ahmed in the back of the head. Hunter happily goes for the cover, but Ahmed powers out at 2 – launching Helmsley with enough force to send him to the floor. Johnson hits the floor and throws Hunter back in, where he plants the champ with a spinebuster! The fans can feel the impending Pearl River Plunge, but Curtis attacks again at that’s a DQ at 9:15. Clean finishes aren’t the forte of either company these days. *1/2

While Ahmed gives Hughes the spinebuster, Goldust rushes in from the backstage area to brawl with Helmsley. Johnson dives into the fray, and gives both guys the business! He stands tall as Hunter rushes to the backstage area, and Jim Ross ushers us off the air. RAW tomorrow – Ahmed faces Crush! Will THAT end clean? Don’t bet your allowance on it!