— Hi guys, it’s David D. here with another retro recap.
— WWE Network update: I’m in early 2000 WCW and I thought I’d enjoy seeing the car crash but it’s so bad I can’t even enjoy the destruction. I thought I’d look back at the Russo era appreciating any of it but heavens no. It’s all bad.
— I successfully moved to Atlanta so once again, hit me up so we can go to Indie shows and be BFFs.
— Over at TSS, there’s a spirited debate over the best Beyonce song to cry to. Real G sh*t.
— Now, on to the recaps!
Best: Ultimo Dragon Swag Lord Infinity
I’m pretty sure Ultimo Dragon is one of Brandon’s favorite wrestlers of all time, and he should be yours, too. Ultimo Dragon is one of the great in-ring performers ever with extra bonus points for being nigh-God in Revenge. But nothing tops Ultimo Dragon in his full-on Every Belt Ever regalia. You know how Cena thinks he looks cool with his belts draped over his shoulders now? Ultimo Dragon I Sai Hee moonsaults all over that look. Swag. Lord. Infinity.
Worst: Use The Three Rings
Ultimo Dragon vs. Rey is great, as you’d imagine, ending with a f*cking springboard power bomb of death and destruction. But I don’t understand who you have World War 3 with three rings and don’t let these guys flip over every ring rope possible and set the crowd on fire. I’m sure it has something to do with not spoiling any spots for the battle royal or something but screw all of that. I’m pretty sure that Ultimo could springboard from the first to the third ring with ease, so just let him do it, dammit.
Worst: And Now Nick Patrick Gets A Match
For the last WCW pay-per-view, if you recall, Nick Patrick was the biggest attraction. He was the wrestler of the night. The main heel and the guy who pushed all of the story lines. Instead of, you know, wrestlers. So naturally he gets a match with Chris Jericho. And it’s the worst kind of match like this possible. Remember how last week WWF had Jim Cornette vs. Jose Lothario and it was like two minutes long with the bad guy getting his comeuppance? We get in and out quickly and it’s pain-free for everyone involved.
This is that. But totally opposite.
Instead we get Jericho with his hand tied behind his back and a match that lasts way too long. Now, for those that don’t know, Nick Patrick was a wrestler before he was a referee, so he has legitimate offense and can hold his own in the ring. But that wasn’t established before this match so it’s a lose-lose because every offensive move he executes makes Jericho look weak. So Jericho has to mount a comeback against a guy we haven’t established as being good in the ring. As opposed to when Bischoff started wrestling and we all knew he was a Kung-Fu master or whatever. But this match just looks like Chris Jericho getting smacked around by a referee.
The great thing here, though, is watching Chris Jericho figuring it all out. Sure, he was pretty great in 1996, but he wasn’t ready. He wasn’t ready to be a main event guy, but he was working on it. He’s learning the crowd and figuring out the beats to get them eating out of his hand so he can just show up, not say anything and get the biggest reaction. Sadly, matches with Nick Patrick don’t really help.
Best: WrestleMania 19 Slow Build
See that Sweet Chin Music at the end?! It’s a slow build to his match with HBK!
Best: Ric Flair’s Crappy Wrestler Roll Call
One of my absolute favorite things Ric Flair does is his roll call of legends. When he’s talking the NWA belt, the WCW belt or the legacy of WCW in the face of the NWO, he always goes into his famous roll call of wrestlers who’ve held down the legacy. It usually goes something like this: “you think you can take down WCW? Sting, Terry Funk, The Steiners, The Road Warriors?! We got it all!”
But you ever notice that he always brings up one shitsipping wrestler in the mix to I guess build them up?
“You know what the legacy of WCW is?! It’s Tully Blanchard! Arn Anderson! Dusty Rhodes! Buff Bagwell! Sting!” One of those doesn’t fit, Ric. For this particular promo against the NWO, Flair hits us with the “Benoit! Flair! The Steiners! Mongo!”
Good try, though, Naitch. Tune in next week when he yells “Magnum T.A.! Briscos! J.J. Dillon! Maxx Payne!”
Best: Early Crow Sting Owns
To continue my observations from last time, Jeff Jarrett is the definition of mediocre. If you look up the word mediocre in the dictionary, it’s a picture Jeff Jarrett. Next to a picture of Eddie Murphy on top of a picture of a Black guy getting asked to get his hair touched by Alex Riley. I think that’s how Dictionaries work. Anyway, the point I’m trying to make here is that Jeff Jarrett blows. He’s the 1990s Miz in my mind in that there’s nothing I want to see more than him get destroyed as often as possible.
That’s why short-haired Crow Sting coming to the ring to destroy Jarrett because f*ck Jeff Jarrett is among Sting’s greatest run-ins. I’m not sure why he decided to attack Jarrett nor do I really care at this point. It was probably one of those Sting/NWO red herrings WCW teased for a solid year and a half but it probably has more to do with Sting being as annoyed with Double J as the rest of humanity. Keep doing God’s work, Sting. You the real MVP.
Worst: Roddy Piper Is My Jive Talking Middle School Teacher
1) Roddy Piper once wrestled in half blackface…but it was half of his entire body. And he did disco dances with his Black side.
2) Roddy Piper refused to job to Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania I. The biggest heel in the world refused to job to the biggest babyface of all time at the biggest event in wrestling history up to that point. Nobody talks about this enough. It was a selfish decision that wasn’t good business. That’s why the one-time biggest event of all time featured a freaking tag match as its main event. Awesome.
In conclusion, I don’t bow down and grovel at the feet of one Hot Rod. Especially WCW-era Hot Rod. For this particular segment, Piper and Hogan have a contract signing for the Match Of The Century or whatever it is. Spoiler: it won’t live up to the billing.
And of course, Piper is basically jive talking old lady middle school teacher who’s edgy because he says “crap” and drops a TRL reference so all the kids think he’s cool for the first day of school until you realize he’s just as crappy as every other teacher who’s shilling out the same homework passed down from the powers that be. Ooooh you taught Vincent how to fight! Ooooh you see DiBiase behind you! What a badass. Excuse me if my kilt doesn’t hid my dismissive wanking.
Worst: The Dumbest Injury Angle Of All Time
Of course the big revelation here is that Piper had TOP SECRET hip replacement surgery that left a big ass scar. Hogan tells Piper to lift his skirt to reveal his scar and Piper shows his healthy leg first which is hilarious to me for some reason. Then we get the big scar reveal and things get even dumber.
Hogan and the NWO target the scar by hitting it with forearms and title belts and good God this is stupid. I don’t know how hip replacement surgeries work but I’m not sure what the actual damage of a title belt to the thigh does to exacerbate the situation.
Also, is it really that awesome to promote a match between two guys where one guy just had the most geriatric surgery a human being can have? Can’t wait for this catch-as-catch can battle of wills.
Best: Harlem Heat vs. The Amazing French Canadians Because *Shrugs*
Two pay-per-views. Two unexpectedly stellar tag team matches. I sort of watched the French Canadians and Harlem Heat with my eyes glazed over wondering what I’d write about it. Then things got out of hand really quickly with TFC selling like eyepatched auctioneers. Then they set up a table and two steel steps (THEY WEIGHT 43 TONS, MAGGLE) for a crazy ass spot that ends the match. Harlem Heat were absolutely clicking in 1996 and it’s a shame we didn’t get a sustained Heat/Steiners feud in the midst of all the NWO stuff.
Best: How Can You Not Like Dusty On Commentary?
When the match ends we get five minutes of Sherri and Colonel Parker due to the Harlem Heat winning and Dusty Rhodes loses his entire sh*t the whole time.
SHE HIT HIM IN THE BELLYWELLY. SHE CLAWOSHLAINED HEEM.
Throw shade if you so well please but Dusty earned his keep for these five minutes.
Worst: Lex Luger Talking Again
Best: Cruiserweight Title Match In The Semi-Main
You know what’s great about the entire roster being in a bloated battle royal? We get Dean Malenko vs. Psychosis deep into the event. And they absolutely tore it up. I’m pretty sure I’ll do a 1996 year-end awards post (please remind me I said this) and Dean Malenko is moving up the MVP ranks. Last month he had a monster of a match with Rey and now he and Psychosis had the match of the night.
The only thing here is that I wish every Cruiserweight match had a story to it. When Dean wrestled Rey there was at least the story of Dean wanting the mask. Here, much like Rey/Ultimo and most of the cruiserweight matches we just get fifteen minutes of inconsequential greatness. Sure, a title is on the line but the title is confined to the small flippy guys so what does it really mean in the grand scheme of WCW? Especially if it’s not eventually leading to World Title matches which it never does. But in a vacuum, give me more of these matches.
Best: Hall And Nash Are Loveable A-holes
Worst: For A Really Dumb Match
Hall and Nash vs Faces Of Fear vs. Nasty Boys is a million times better than it should have been. But the four corners/triangle tag match gimmick is as illogical as it gets. At least the Outsiders acknowledge this by immediately going to pin each other when the “tag team partners get tagged in” moment that’s supposed to get people excited. Really, though, the teams mesh well as the Nasty Boys bump like champs, Faces of Fear look like world beaters and the Outsiders are the best jerks in the business.
And that’s really the best part of the match. I so want Meng to rip out Scott Hall’s throat because he and Nash do things like pretend to smoke cigars while the other teams are in the ring. The Outsiders are troll-y glory. Plus, they know exactly how long to take their beatings before sneaking off with the win. They look like chicken sh*t while still being imposing at the same time, which is harder than it sounds.
Worst: The Most Unwatchable Match Of All Time
Reason #3,569 that the WWE eventually knocked WCW out of business: WWE knows gimmick matches and, with the exception of War Games, WCW had only the worst events. WWE had Survivor Series. WCW had Battlebowl, which stunk. WWE had Royal Rumble. WCW had World War 3 (which they continues to name World War 3 for multiple years in a row…but…).
Here are some logistical reasons WW3 stunk:
1. The match starts with 60 guys just walking to the rings. So we get five minutes of watching guys walk to the ring. We get the entire length of a Del Rio/Sheamus match of guys walking. That’s not great TV.
2. A triple screen where the action is exactly small enough for you to not really make out anything at all that’s happening.
3. Six (6!) play-by-play guys.
4. Sixty guys in three rings, which means that there are maybe 25 actual regular wrestlers on Nitro in the match.
There’s no rhyme or reason to anything and it’s basically a pee break until everyone clears into the last ring. Here’s an idea: just make the last ring stuff the entire match. Because I’m betting my entire life’s savings that Johnny Grunge isn’t getting a world title shot.
The entire ordeal lasts 40 minutes and we don’t get the final ring until about 10 minutes left, so we get 30 of the most unwatchable minutes of any event ever. Then, when everyone is in the same ring, WE STILL GET THREE TINY SCREENS. None of the eliminations are important. There isn’t a single moment that builds up any new talent. None of the other story lines are acknowledged and no story lines emerge. Eric Bischoff was recently on the Steve Austin podcast talking about how they had to use Turner cameramen and not people particularly familiar with wrestling so the camera angles were always sloppy. So let’s give them the toughest job ever of following the most unfollowable match.
Battle Royals are the most can’t-miss matches in wrestling. And yet, WCW made me hate them. Way to go, guys.