It’s me again with another installment of Vintage Best and Worst. I don’t have much to say besides I hope you’ve been enjoying so far. I’ve been taking all the suggestions into consideration to make this as enjoyable as possible for everyone and I’m still working on bigger and better recaps. Remember, Bray Wyatt was once Husky Harris. So just know you have great things to look forward to for a few months before I ruin it by having a possessed kid write these for me.
Next week, we have three options:
1. I can continue in order with the next WWF PPV – In Your House: International Incident
2. I can go back and do WCW Uncensored 1995 because it sucked so much.
3. I can pick one of your suggestions at random as long as you follow me on Twitter and share this article.
Deal? Deal. *Mega Powers handshake*
Now, on to the Recap!
Fashion Break: Look At Dusty!
The best part of Hog Wild is watching wrestlers in their street clothes. Because you have to understand that most wrestlers look like cot damn fools whenever they’re left to pick their own clothes. However, a combination of them not giving a damn because they spend all their time in their underwear and the fact no one will walk up to Big E and say “nice silk shirt, goober” means they get to wear whatever they want. Add in the fact they’re dressed in super cool macho gear and you get Dusty Rhodes in a f*cking two-color denim short set and cowboy boots. Look at him. Hard times.
Best: Of Course This Is A Best
Yes, yes and yes.
I think this is the match WWE had in mind when they had that crazy boner for a Sin Cara vs. Rey match. This is the match I have in mind when I want to go to a happy place.
Sports (I’m lumping wrestling in here for argument’s sake) has a way of making the past semi-obsolete. Like, I can appreciate Jerry West as a basketball player for his time, but he’s probably think someone invented the Super Soldier Serum if he were on the court with Lebron James. That’s why watching Rey and Dragon here is amazing. These moves hold up damn near 20 years later.
Put this match in 2014 and the crowd still loses its sh*t.
Fashion Break: LOOK AT MEAN GENE, TOO
Ol’ Boner Joke Gene is popping mollies and taking names!
Worst: This Is The Worst Hoss Fight Of All Time
I’m a sucker for hoss fights. If I ever go back to 1994 and do a few recaps, I’ll write a thousand words about how Big Bossman vs. Bam Bam Bigelow was the bee’s kneecaps. So it’s pretty hard to make me hate a big powerhouse fight.
I hate this powerhouse fight.
First of all, Ice Train sounds like a name the writers would give the main suspect on the annual SVU urban episode, but that’s neither here nor there. Second, Scott Norton has one of the worst WCW Revenge-to-real-life-skill ratios of all time. Thirdliest, they’re working an injury angle. Hoss fights don’t need injury angles. They don’t need psychology. They need tilt-a-whirls and back breakers until someone’s spine falls out of his ears. Also, I don’t understand how Scott Norton is built. He’s built like Ed McGuinness draws fat people.
Best: Backstage Beat Down And Flair’s Revenge
The NWO angle was a lot of really crappy moments that don’t seem as crappy because we remember all the really awesome moments in between. One of those great moments was the parking lot incident where the NWO beat up a bunch of guys with baseball bats, then murder launched Rey Misterio into a production truck.
The best part about that angle at the time was the fact it organically worked Flair into the conflict and made me say:
The NWO could have feuded with the Four Horsemen for a solid year and it could have been great. But the “Flair must suck at all times” rule is omnipresent and I know what happens next. Still, it’s cool to live in this moment where I can imagine that Flair is going to go all Oldboy and revenge murder everyone in the name of Arn Anderson. Let’s all live in this moment together.
Also, Flair talking about Arn never stops warming my heart.
Best: Bull Nakano Hair Swings
I’m always here for Bull Nakano swinging the sh*t out of women by their hair. It just looks like death every time.
Worst: Botched endings or
Best: This Ending Is Hilarious
I’m not quite sure what happened at the end of this match. The ref was maybe not supposed to count to three and the match maybe wasn’t supposed to end. So the ref counts to three and everyone stops for 30 seconds. Like, literally, everyone. Then Sonny Ono (too soon, WCW) just hightails it to the post-match angle. Just the sight of him darting across the screen and YOLOing it tickles the hell out of me. Then everyone in the ring sort of shrugs and goes about the post-match motorcycle breaking. Plus, since it wasn’t until then that the bell rang, we have a match that ends in DQ due to excessive motorcycle damaging.
Fashion Break: Steiner Shades!
Scott Steiner’s shades can’t fall off…so he has the old lady glasses string. I love it.
Worst: who thought sturgis was a good idea? and Why Are You Making Me Worst A Benoit/Malenko Match?
WCW booked this pay-per-view perfectly for the crowd of idiots present who didn’t give a sh*t about wrestling. They had some flippy guys, some big muscular guys and chicks wrestling. So even if nobody there cared about Boston crabs, they could still enjoy the spectacles.
Then, a wrestling match happened and these mouth breathing neanderthals didn’t know how to act. To them, Benoit vs. Malenko was boring as hell. So boring that when the first fall ended in a draw, the crowd booed that they were getting five more minutes. Read that again: the crowd BOOED five more minutes of Benoit/Malenko. F*ck these morons.
The problem is I think Benoit and Malenko sort of got rattled by the lack of reaction abad the overtimes seemed to devolve into big moves to get people back into it instead of following with the story.
Still, if you watch this match on mute, it’s pretty incredible. Of course it is. It’s Benoit/Malenko.
Worst: Rules Are Dumb
The match went like this: regular time limit, then five more timed minutes then another overtime. At one point, Schiavone says they’ll have to go to “sudden death” next. However, “sudden death” rules are “the first person to score wins,” so technically the whole match and every match that ever happened ever was a sudden death match. So if you’re going to keep adding time to the match under “sudden death” rules, then just makes the rules “wrestle forever until one person scores a fall.” Your rules make zero senses.
Worst: F*ck This. Seriously.
Brandon sometimes interjects commentary about how misogynist and horrible wrestling can be when it comes to treating women because he’s totally gay or something. Right bros? And inevitably someone will comment that he’s taking it too seriously or he should get over it or something.
Well, I’m about to get serious, too, for a minute. So if you think I’m taking things too seriously or bringing your day down, you can skip all of this.
Still here? Good. F*ck this racist f*cking crowd with all my heart.
The Sturgis crowd had been pretty dead for the last 45 minutes and it’s clear they didn’t know who to cheer or who to boo throughout the night. Then Harlem Heat came out and everyone lost their sh*t. Harlem Heat got the most heat of the night and it’s only because they were two black guys in the ring. Sure, Ice Train came to the ring earlier but he was bandaged and clearly the babyface.
But Harlem Heat got a nuclear reaction from the 99.9 percent crowd because they were two Black guys. The crowd is yelling, incensed, holding up Confederate flags and yelling at Booker and Stevie more than they yelled at anyone the entire night.
Basically, the whole match devolved into a glorified Klan rally. Now would be a perfect time to talk about the stereotypes of Black wrestlers through the years and how it perpetuates racism in the same way some portrayals of women contribute to sexism. But I’m not convinced this crowd has watched enough wrestling to have been programmed that any Black character not shucking and/or jiving is a heel. No, these f*cks are just racist all on their own.
Watching this back makes me have a newfound respect for Booker T and Stevie Ray as they didn’t get rattled and used the crowd reaction to get even more heat by playing into the chants and cat calls. Still, this is horrible to watch and I can’t even think of all the things the crowd yelled at Harlem Heat.
Meanwhile Shiavone and Dusty are all, “this is what it’s all about! Crowd is getting into it! Woohoo” as if they’re totally oblivious to WHY the crowd is revving its engines and little kids are flipping the bird.
I know a few people will say I’m overreacting and this is all my imagination. Right. I swear I’m not going to debate this fact no matter what your Devil’s advocacy says: the crowd booed and hated Harlem Heat because they were Black. That’s racist. And that sucks.
Urban legend has it that a young Bulgarian was in the crowd, got indoctrinated into the racist culture of Sturgis and vowed to go on to wrestle and camel clutch every Black guy he saw ever. JOKEZ!
Best: Flair vs. Guerrero Is The 12 Reasons To Die of Matches
I’ll get to the point, I promise. Give me a second, though.
Rap music is at an interesting place right now. Rappers are finally reaching their 40s and trying to find relevance and longevity in their careers and most of them are struggling for a few reasons. One, it’s hard for musicians to be taken seriously talking about the same stuff they talked about 20 years ago. It’s just not cool to be the old guy at the club anymore. Also, there are just fewer ways to keep a certain style fresh over a long period of time. While a singer can go through a ballad phase or a cover album phase into his 60s, rappers have to just keep on rapping, which is hard to keep fresh. Finally, rap eats its old.
The way artists have kept fresh in their 40s has been by linking up with younger producers who were fans of theirs to keep their music fresh. That’s where Ghostface and 12 Reasons To Die comes in. Ghost linked up with Adrian Younge – a huge Ghost fan – who basically crafted an album catered directly to Ghost, so all he had to do was rap like we’ve been accustomed to while Younge did the heavy lifting. The result was 12 Reasons To Die, a great album that was powered by Younge’s desire to make a Ghost album and his creativity in crafting a world based on his work.
That’s what Flair vs. Guerrero was, and what I wish they would have let Flair do more of in WCW. While I think that the argument of “watch one Flair match, you’ve seen them all” was over-exaggerated in the 80s, he was definitely knee-deep into a routine match by 1996. And while his matches were still good at worst, much like Ghostface phoning in a verse is still pretty damn good, big-time Flair matches were starting to get few and far between. That’s why it’s so beautiful to see what Eddie Guerrero does with this match.
Guerrero is Adrian Younge here. He let Flair do his magic, then added some tweaks and turned the formula on its head just enough to make you say, “wait, that’s different” enough times to make this one of Flair’s better matches of the late-90s. It’s beautiful.
Also, Guerrero was pretty good at wrestling.
Worst: Oh , Right. Hogan Killed The Giant’s Dad
Remember last year when Stephanie McMahon was all “Big Show, we grew up together backstage” and everyone was all confused. I’ve always wondered if it was a callback to the WCW story that Big Show was Andre The Giant’s son. Because, if you recall, that was definitely a thing in WCW.
The Big Show Origin Story was that Hulk Hogan body slammed Andre The Giant to death at WrestleMania III and his secret son, The Giant, came to WCW to seek revenge. Dear Hogan, the Eddie Guerrero post-death angle between Mysterio and Orton called and said you might have gone too far with this one.
The story carried on all through 1995 and as we could hear in Giant’s promo to hype his title match with Hogan, it’s still a thing. Apparently Giant knew all along that Hogan was crooked and would join the NWO because Giant expected such a thing from someone who body slams people to death. Because Hulk Hogan killed Andre The Giant. With a body slam.
Seriously, I don’t understand how Hogan can sue Gawker for leaking his sex tape when he basically whipped his junk out and masturbated on TV for the entirety of the 90s.
Best: Sting vs. Outsiders Was Incredible While It Lasted
One underrated aspect of Sting’s greatness (yes, he was great), was his understanding of what made a compelling babyface. He knew just how much to give the crowd to make them lose their minds while also keeping the bad guys strong. On the Nitro before Bash At The Beach Sting slapped Hall’s toothpick out of his mouth. That’s it. But it was the first bit of offense WCW got on the Outsiders so it ended up being badass. Sting was the master of that. He knew how to create these little moments where he would get the crowd in a frenzy over his bowing up to the big bag guys and they never stopped being great. See also: his entire feud with Vader, which I’ll mention every single week because I can, dammit.
In this match, between Sting, Luger and the Outsiders, Sting creates one of those moments again by squaring up with Nash to the point the crowd gets all amped for him to get in the ring and kick ass. Instead of just going right to babyface flurry, he gets beat up some and THEN goes all chest-pounding Sting mode. The guys is a maestro, people. I don’t care what your snobby star ratings suggest.
Worst: Lex Luger’s Nervous Titty Twitch
Remember when Luger used to make his boobs jump up and down against Flair in matches and the crowd would go wild for it because I guess it means he’s strong or something? Well, this isn’t that. This is the weirdest sh*t ever. Luger just stands there for like 30 seconds and makes his boobs jump. Non-stop. On repeat forever. My wife watched this match with me and had to ask, “why is he doing that with his chest?”
I don’t know, honey. Maybe his body is rejecting his bionic metal arm plate.
Best: Hall And Nash Are A-holes
It generally took few months before WWF guys got to WCW and realized they didn’t have to care about having good matches anymore so it was always important to enjoy them early. Hall and Nash were grade-A bros and it was great. They had the perfect swag of guys who were bigger than their opponents and guys who knew they were going to win. Everything from the “rock, paper, scissors” before the match to Hall’s constant smirks and Nash’s laughing through the match were just jerk moves. And they were awesome.
Worst: The National Nightmare Of The Heel Ref
The Hall/Nash vs. Sting/Luger match ends with Nick Patrick chop-blocking Lex Luger and costing WCW the match, thus introducing us to the world of the heel ref AKA the laziest trope in professional wrestling. In theory, the idea is pretty novel – that the NWO would pay off a ref and use it to their advantage. But the execution is always poor. For a solid year whenever WCW didn’t feel like coming up with an actual finish, they’d run Nick Patrick out there and the ending would be “Nick Patrick doesn’t count for WCW pin then fast counts NWO pin.” This would happen multiple times on the same PPV and there was no creativity to it.
Of course, WWF would adopt the heel ref stuff and still use it now when they don’t have anything better in mind. I’m looking at you, Brad Maddox costing Ryback his title match against CM Punk.
Worst: Hogan Heel Matches Are Unbearable also This Is The Next Year And A Half
Here’s the secret of being a heel is that at some point in a match, you’re going to cheat, get the upper hand and be required to beat up the good guy for an extended period of time. This requires, you know, a repertoire of moves.
Hulk Hogan doesn’t have a repertoire of moves. Hulk Hogan doesn’t have a handful of moves. Hulk Hogan doesn’t have a thimble’s worth of moves. So his Hollywood Hogan matches were basically “Stall. Half-ass bump. Scratch back aggressively. Whip with belt. Punch” until 9:45 when someone would run in and help him win the match. This match is no different. And it’s trash as hell.
Worst: Where’s WCW?
One of the biggest logic gaps that would happen EVERY Hulk Hogan match was the lack of help anyone would give WCW guys. Didn’t the NWO just go all gang warfare on everyone in WCW? Still, for a solid year, whenever NWO would jump in on Hogan matches, there was never a WCW guy to come help out. Did the NWO put chains on WCW locker rooms before every run-in? Did they put every WCW backstage TV on a tape delay and the guys would run out, realize they missed everything and say “aw, man, got us again, NWO.” This never failed to not make sense.
Worst: The Booty Man Heel Turn Has Rocked Wrestling
Brutus Beefcake did literally nothing well as a wrestler. So when he came out to the ring to get beat up by the NWO, I sort of wanted to cheer them. But I was so brain dead from the worst 30 minutes of “wrestling” I’ll ever see until the next Hollywood Hogan match that I was reserved to wondering what kind of cake that was and what they would do with it after the PPV. I hope Marcus Bagwell didn’t get any.
Worst: The Giant Is Still On The Ground
Through all of this: the post-match celebration, the Booty Man beat down, and the spray painting of the belt, the Giant is still on the ground. Motionless. FROM A TITLE BELT SHOT TO THE HEAD. Just six months ago, the man got monster trucked off a building to death and survived and now he’s in a coma from a title shot to the head. This NWO thing is so stupid in hindsight. Hogan is the ruiner of things.
Best: Signing Off
I love with all my heart the way the broadcast would end with the announce team’s final thoughts. That’s how they do it in sports and that’s how they did it in WCW. Now, WWE is doing these post-PPV press conferences which are boss as hell, but the announce team signing off is unbeatable.
Bonus: WE GET PENSIVE DUSTY IN A DENIM SHORT SET! “RUG MATERIAL BELT BUCKLE, TONY SCHIAVONE SHO’ IS LOOKIN” – 2 Chainz. Or not. But probably it should be 2 Chainz.