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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

July PPV Countdown: The Great American Bash 1988

The Netcop Retro Rant for Great American Bash 88.

- This is for two reasons:  One, for the winner of the 50,000th hit contest a couple of weeks ago on Rantsylvania (soon to have it's own domain name and professional design) and second for someone who won't stop NAGGING me about it.  You know who you are.  (I no longer know who that was.) 

- Live from Baltimore, MD.

- Your hosts are Tony Schiavone and Jim Ross.

- Opening match:  NWA World tag title match:  Tully Blanchard & Arn Anderson v. Sting & Nikita Koloff.

Big brawl to start.  There's no real story here -- Sting needed something to do while Lex took his turn on top of the card, so he got stuck fighting for the tag titles with Koloff, who was the opposite of resurgent, whatever that is.  (Cody Rhodes.)  Sting gets a couple of quick two counts before Arn runs away.  Koloff had a full head of hair at this point, by the way, which looks...creepy.  Move #393 (ARM-bar) comes into liberal use from Koloff, boring the crowd.  The faces manage to double-team Tully while the ref argues the legality of tagging your partner's foot with Arn.  Suddenly, the THE (Turner Home Entertainment) guys do a Sid-worthy scissor job on the match, (I SAID, did you FORGET your SCISSORS?) clipping to the finish as Sting gets the hot tag and destroys everything that moves.  Sleeper on AA leads to a messed-up sequence with Tully, which leads in turn to a Stinger splash and deathlock.  Crowd thinks it's a submission, but it turns out to be a time-limit draw, of which we saw 10:27.  That would turn out to be popular booking for the evening.  I don't know which was worse -- the effort of the workers or the editing job.  Match looked to be about *1/2 (It was better than that, but we’ll get to the full version later.) 

- US tag team title:  The Fantastics v. The Midnight Express. 

The Fantastics won the titles on a **** TV match a few weeks prior to this, and prior to that they did a ****3/4 MOTYC on the first Clash that nearly blew the roof off the place.  For this one, OverBook-A-Mania is running wild, as Jim Cornette is first placed in a straitjacket, then locked in a steel cage, and if the Midnights don't win he gets lashed 10 times with a belt.  So nice to see Cornette being given the book from time to time, isn't it?  Funny bit as Cornette tries to bribe the officials on the way to cage ("WOULD YOU TAKE $15,000?!?") but no dice. The pre-match nonsense eats up about 10 minutes, however, which is ridiculous considering that the 20-minute match is clipped down to 2:16. Obviously they were still learning how to edit a PPV tape at this point. I've seen the full match, and it's tres disappointing, about **.  (WHAT?!  No way, 1998 Scott.)  The ending is the ref getting wiped out and Eaton pulling out a chain and nailing Rogers with it for the pin to regain the US tag titles. Cornette still gets whipped in the end, of course, so everyone ends up happy.

- The Tower of Doom:  The Road Warriors, Jim Garvin, Ron Garvin & Steve Williams v. Kevin Sullivan, Al Perez, the Russian Assassin, Ivan Koloff & Mike Rotunda. 

Okay, unless you're a big WCCW fan you've probably never heard of this one before.  Here's the deal:  There's three cages stacked on top of each other, shrinking in size on the way up.  The smallest cage is literally up in the lights.  The object is to have all five team members proceed from the top cage, down to the bottom cage and out via the door, which is controlled by Garvin's wife and/or Sullivan's evil love-slave, Precious.  The issue at the time was whether Sullivan had brainwashed Precious, see.  (Obviously the Flair-Garvin feud from the year before was a much better use of Precious.)  Every two minutes, a trapdoor opens in the bottom of the top two cages, allowing people in them to move down within a 15-second window.  At the same time, a door in the small cage at the top opens, allowing a new member from each team to enter the match.  The gimmick itself was horribly complex and impossible to follow and book good matches around, so this is the only appearance.  (Sadly, Russo would bring it back in 2000, because RUSSO) The Tower of Doom match (called the Triple Dome of Terror at the time) first took place in World Class a few months prior, with longtime partners Terry Gordy and Michael Hayes fighting for the first time.  Anyway, on with the match.  We start with Ron Garvin & Ivan Koloff in the top cage, and they slug it out for a while, although the light standards are blocking the view so no one can tell what's going on.  And the cage is like 4 feet by 4 feet so there's no room to do much.  After 2:00, Garvin drops into the next cage, while Koloff is trapped above and Williams and Rotunda enter the match.  Williams handles both easily, and when the next 2:00 is up, Garvin drops into the bottom cage, and then leaves the ring to be the first man out for his team.  Hope that clears up the rules a bit.  Doc and Ivan go into the second level, meanwhile, leaving Rotunda at the top level as Al Perez and Animal join the match.  Doc wipes the cage with Koloff for 2 minutes, until the trapdoors open again and Perez & Animal move down to join Doc and Koloff in the second level. The top cage opens to admit Hawk and the Russian Assassin.  Hawk holds off both Rotunda and Assassin.  It's all a giant brawl.  Next period: Perez & Animal make it into the bottom cage and both leave.  The second level has Williams & Hawk v. the Russians.  Up top, team captains Jimmy Garvin and Kevin Sullivan have entered the match, and poor Rotunda is still up there in the top cage with them.  Next period:  Rotunda finally gets to drop down to the second level, while Hawk and the Russians all make it to the bottom and out.  We're down to four guys:  Garvin & Sullivan in the top cage, and Rotunda & Williams in the second cage. Next period:  Williams takes out Rotunda and escapes the cage, leaving Garvin 1-on-2 against the Varsity Club.  Next period:  Rotunda makes his escape, leaving the blowoff match:  Garvin v. Sullivan.  Garvin works on Sullivan's leg while in the second level to keep him from making it to the trap door.  Next period:  The strategy doesn't work, as both are able to make it to the bottom level, and it's first man out to to win. Garvin takes out Sullivan with the brainbuster (now THERE'S a perfectly good finisher just waiting for a new user) and tries for the door, but Sullivan dives for it, accidentally knocking Garvin to the floor for the babyface win.  But that leaves Sullivan alone in the cage with Precious, and he proceeds to basically kick the shit out of her.  I've always wondered why Kevin didn't get a booking job for the WWF -- he'd be PERFECT.  (Insert your own comment here.)  The faces have to go all the way through the cage maze again to make the rescue, but when Hawk drops down and clotheslines Sullivan on the way down, the pop is HUGE.  The match was...um...interesting, although if you think I can possibly rate it you're nuts.

- For some reason, they decided to stick a "bonus" match on a tape that was already hacked more than a WrestleLine article in order to make 125 minutes.

- World TV title match:  Mike Rotunda v. Sting. 

Taped from a house show a week or so prior, this is a completely paint-by-numbers Sting match, as Rotundo controls with his boring offense, Sting makes a quick comeback, and Rick Steiner runs in for the usual DQ at 8:15.  Why even bother?  *

- US title match:  Barry Windham v. Dusty Rhodes. 

The story:  Dusty was US champion, but he got into a big brawl with the Horsemen that ended with him going ballistic on the puppet president of the NWA at the time (I forget whether it was Geigel or Crockett at the time -- he also did the same angle in Florida and it gets hard to keep track) with a baseball bat.  He was suspended and stripped of the US title (Dusty? JOB?  Heaven forefend).  And of course, the next week Windham started getting dogged by the most mysterious of all mystery men...the Midnight Rider!  If anyone knows who that enigmatic guy was, let me know, because I'm stumped.  (Mr. America was slightly more mysterious, I’d say.)  Finally, the suspension ended, but not before Windham had won a tournament for the US title, going over Nikita Koloff in the finals.  So we got this match.  This was the peak of Barry's skills and luckily it coincided with the peak of his credibility as a wrestler, 1993 notwithstanding.  Barry bumps his ass off for Dusty to begin, as Dusty even manages a press-slam and DDT...then heads to the top?!? LUCHA DUSTY!  AMERICANA LA VACA!  Dusty pulls out the cross-body from the top that he hadn't used since 1979 (when he used it to pin Harley Race for the NWA World title) but it only gets two.  Man, you gotta admire Barry for taking the weight of a 600 pound man from the top rope and then kicking out.  HE'S A MAN'S MAN!  Windham bails, but Dusty pummels him when he returns.  They fight outside and Dusty opens a bigger can of whoop-ass.  Barry gets a cheap shot to temporarily take control, but when he tries to slingshot Dusty in, it backfires and Barry goes flying to the floor.  Why?  Because Dusty is JUST TOO FAT.  Nice bump from Barry, though.  Back in the ring, JJ runs interference, allowing Windham a knee to the back and the most dreaded of all finishers...the CLAWHOLD!  Nothing will put a man out faster than massaging his temples while wearing a black glove, you know.  Dusty spends about 5 minutes fighting out, but gets nowhere.  He even walks the ropes to escape, but Barry is tall enough to hang on.  Good psychology there.  Dusty finally elbows out and goes for the figure-four, but when he bends over Barry slaps the claw back on. That's VERY good psychology.  (Gotta love that clawhold.)  Dusty goes back to the ropes, and this time makes it far enough up to break the hold.  Ref gets bumped as Dusty comes down, however (a Dusty finish in a Dusty match?  WHAT ARE THE ODDS????) and Dusty slams Windham off the top and hits the BIG FAT ELBOW OF DEATH.  Ron Garvin runs in to wake up the ref...then it's KAPOW! and Dusty is down for the count after a grade-A heel turn.  Crowd is absolutely in shock as Windham slaps on the claw again and Tommy Young counts three.  As a young mark, my jaw nearly dropped when I heard Garvin turned on Dusty.  Windham carried the whole match.  ***  (No way this was ***.  I gave it a more sane rating later on.) 

- Backstage, Garvin accepts a big briefcase full of money from Gary Hart and JJ Dillon.

- Main event, NWA World title:  Ric Flair v. Lex Luger. 

This would be the NWA's first real money match in the PPV era.  Of course they screwed it up.  The story:  Luger is the young apprentice of the aging Four Horsemen, but decides that they're holding him back, especially what with JJ Dillon wanting him to lay down in battle royales so Dillon can win.  Luger is out, Windham is in, and now Luger is pissed and starts taking out the Horsemen one-by-one, leading up to Flair.  The Horsemen systematically attack Luger every chance they get, including a memorable parking lot beating the week before this show.  Luger totally overpowers Flair to start and tosses him around.  The usual from Flair as he bails and argues with the front row, then gets into a shoving match with Tommy Young.  Flair offers a test of strength, something which I don't think he ever tried again after what happened.  Luger has his way some more and goes for the bearhug, getting a two count off it until Flair makes the ropes.  Luger casually suplexes him back in, but misses the leaping elbow.  It's not like he sells it or anything, though.  Flair gets a cheap shot outside the ring to take control, but Luger keeps fighting him off, as if merely inconvenienced.  Luger goes for the kill but misses a dropkick and Flair goes right for the knee.  Figure-four gets put on the wrong leg as usual.  Luger powers out and comes back, but the knee caves in on him very quickly.  He shakes it off and hulks up, however.  Luger gets a backslide for two, then a really bad looking spot ensues as they both go over the top rope after about 3 tries at it. Flair and Dillon take turns ramming Luger into the post, finally busting him open....cue ominous music.  Back in the ring, and Luger decides to just dispose of Flair once and for all, powerslamming him and locking in the rack for the easy submission and his first World title...ah, no.

See, Baltimore was on this big anti-blood kick at the time, so in order to run it into their face the NWA booked a goofy ending whereby Luger would get busted open and the State Athetlic commission would stop the match and award it to Flair.  The end comes at 23:13 and when the crowd hears the announcement they are, to say the least, none too thrilled. I've cut myself open bigger than that shaving, I don't blame them.  A pretty weak Luger-Flair match here, but they'd have better ones in years to come.  ***1/2

The Bottom Line:  This card holds nostalgia value for a lot of people, but the wrestling is easily topped elsewhere.  The first Clash completely blows it out of the water for instance.  There's tons of better Luger-Flair matches out there, not to mention WAY better stuff with Tully & Arn, the Midnights and the Fantastics.  Sting is wasted here, as are most of the guys in the Tower of Doom match.  If you've never seen the practically-legendary Luger-Flair screwjob finish or are interested in the goofy gimmick match in the Tower of Doom, I'd recommend this one, but otherwise stick with pre-88 or post-89.

The SmarK 24/7 Rant for NWA Great American Bash 88: The Price For Freedom!

- Technically this isn't playing on 24/7 anymore, but I recorded it for when I'd actually have time to do it, which is now.

- OK, so story time. The original rant was written in what must have been 1998, because it was shortly before the dot-com transformation of Rantsylvania. The original rant came from the Turner Home Entertainment version of the how, which was edited down to two hours and was also the first tape I ever bought from someone on RSPW way back when. Many more would follow, although these days you crazy kids with your file sharing and YouTube just trade links. Anyway, this being 24/7, they show the much more awesome full PPV versions, which is why I slavishly devote my life to recapping their content. On with the show.

- Live from Baltimore, MD

- Your hosts are Jim Ross & Tony Schiavone

NWA World tag titles: Tully Blanchard & Arn Anderson v. Sting & Nikita Koloff

Good lord, they actually overdubbed Sting's generic 80s music with "The Man Called Sting". That's beyond awful. Big brawl to start and Sting quickly cradles Tully for two out of that. Arn bails and Sting follows him with a tope con hilo, and back in Arn comes off the top and gets caught. Sting puts him in an armbar and Koloff trades off on that, but Arn pounds him in the corner to break. Koloff comes back with a Russian Sickle for both heels, and gets two on Arn as a result. Sting comes back in and goes back to the arm, but runs into a knee. Arn makes another ill-advised trip to the top, but outsmarts Sting and sucks him in for a sleeper. Sting powers out of that and goes back to the arm again. Tully comes in for a double-team, but Sting dropkicks both of them. Tully immediately gets taken down with an armdrag, and Nikita goes to the arm as well. They stay on it and Koloff runs Tully's shoulder into the post, and we get a funny spot with Arn trying to tag Tully's foot and protesting the legality of it. This gives the challengers a chance to switch off again. Tully tries to fight back on Koloff, but Nikita takes him down with an atomic drop and goes back to the arm. Nice sequence sees Nikita holding a hammerlock and holding on through a snapmare counter by Tully, but it also puts them in the heel corner and allows Tully to tag out. Nikita takes Arn down with a drop toehold and holds him on the mat with a half-nelson, but goes after JJ on the floor and clotheslines the post as a result. And now we go to school, as the champs pound the arm and Arn gets the hammerlock slam and goes to work. Hammerlock on the mat, but Koloff fights back, so Arn gives him a DDT for two. Tully comes in for a cross-armbreaker and standing armbar, but Koloff fights out and it's hot tag Sting. Dropkick for Tully and press slam, and Arn gets bulldogged. Noggins are knocked, but Tully tags Arn in again, which allows Sting to put him in a sleeper with a minute left. Not MY strategy for a match with a minute left, but whatever. Tully tries a sunset flip to break, but Sting blocks and hammers away, and it's BONZO GONZO with time running out. Stinger splash for Tully sets up the Scorpion Deathlock, but time expires at 20:00. *** Sting and Koloff rather presumptuously put the tag belts on before the decision is even announced. There's confidence, and there's being an asshole, guys.

US tag titles: The Fantastics v. The Midnight Express

The Fantastics had won the US titles from the Midnights on Worldwide Wrestling in a rather legendary match and then retained them at Clash #1. In order to secure another rematch, the MX had to put Jim Cornette in a cage above the ring, in a straitjacket, and then promise to take 10 lashes with a strap if they lose. Strange story while I'm thinking of it: The Panasonic rep dropped off some demo DVDs at work to show off Panasonic's TVs with, and one of the segments featured is from a boat race on what I can only assume is ESPN 8 (The Ocho!), with two boating superstars being interviewed by none other than an aging and balding Stan Lane! Anyway, both "The Chase" and the Fantastics' custom intro music are cut ("From the city of the angels, please welcome Bobby Fulton and Tommy Rogers...the Faaaaaaaaaaantastics!") Kinda made Capetta's job redundant, maybe he sued and that's why they cut it. Cornette throws a tantrum about the stipulations before we start, as though he wasn't informed of it beforehand. The banter between Jim and the ref for the camera is tremendous, giving us this exchange:

Cornette: "Can I appeal to your baser instincts?"

Dick Wohrle: "You don't have to appeal to me, brother."

Cornette: "Well, can you be bribed, then? How about $5000?"

Dick: "I wouldn't take $10,000."

Cornette: "How about $15,000?"

Cornette is of course deathly afraid of heights in real life, which Jim Ross points out several times here, so this can't have been fun for him. Fulton and Eaton fight for the lockup to start and Fulton grabs a headlock and turns it into a sunset flip for two. Eaton comes back with his own headlock, but Fulton takes him down with a pair of flying headscissors and Eaton backs off. Lane comes in and wants the test of strength, but Fulton does the Ricky Morton walk up the shoulders, so Lane drops him like a sack of potatoes and then kicks the crap out of him with some SWEET legwork. I'm such a mark for Stan Lane's marital arts stuff. Fulton dumps Lane, however, and baseball slides him. Over to Rogers, who dropkicks Stan, so Lane elbows him down and brings Eaton in again, but he walks into an armdrag. Bobby takes him down with a knee to the gut and puts Rogers on top, but he slips out and rolls Eaton up for two. Nice sequence as Eaton kicks out and pushes Rogers off into the corner, and Tommy springboards back out with a bodypress for two. What a great spot that you don't see anymore. It's BONZO GONZO and the Fantastics break up a double whip and then chase the Midnights out of teh ring, and the challengers are looking lost without Cornette. Jim Ross makes sure to mention several times that the Maryland Athletic Commission is presiding over the matches tonight, which is paid off later.

Lane backdrops Rogers but gets rolled up, but has the foresight to tag Eaton beforehand, and Bobby bulldogs Tommy to break up the pin, and then gets two himself. Rogers is YOUR face in peril, and Lane throws kicks in the corner and necksnaps him, then slingshots in with a clothesline to kill Rogers dead. Eaton gets a big back elbow and kneedrop, as Rogers is just selling like nuts here. That gets two. Neckbreaker gets two. Lane comes in with the kick combo, and Rogers collapses right into a backbreaker from Eaton. TEXTBOOK. That gets two. Eaton slugs Rogers down and Lane gets two off it. Lane rams him into the mat and Eaton follows with a backbreaker for two. Divorce Court and Eaton works the arm, and then it's some quality cheating as the Express suckers Fulton in and double-teams Rogers for two. Lane goes to the abdominal stretch and gets an assist from Eaton (the only worthwhile use of that move, by the way) but they head out to cheat some more and it backfires, as Rogers manages to send Eaton into the post. Back in, Stan calmly pounds Rogers down with forearms, but Tommy gets a sunset flip for two.

Eaton goes up with the Alabama Jam and Rogers is DONE, and Lane gets two as Fulton saves. I love how they tag before making the cover, just to make sure they've got a fresh man in there. Back to the abdominal stretch, which Lane transitions into a russian legsweep, and that sets up the Rocket Launcher. That hits knee, however, and it's HOT TAG Fulton. Crowd is still 50/50 for the Express, however, so the pop isn't as huge as I expected. Rollup on Eaton gets two and he dumps Lane. Stan gets revenge, however, tripping up Fulton from the floor, and the ref is bumped by Rogers. Rogers sends Eaton into the post and fights off Lane, but Bobby Eaton finds a chain and wraps it around his fist to make sure no one slips on it, but then accidentally trips and punches Fulton in the face with it. Whoops, butterfingers. He then shoves the chain in Fulton's tights, just in case. New champs at 16:21 and that gets a pretty impressive reaction from the crowd. Loved it, loved it, loved it. May a yak marry the daughter of whatever buffoon cut this down to 2:00 on the home video release 20 years ago. ****1/4

Tower of Doom: The Road Warriors & Jimmy Garvin & Ronnie Garvin & Steve Williams v. Kevin Sullivan & Al Perez & Mike Rotundo & Ivan Koloff & The Russian Assassin (Dave Sheldon).

This was a goofy-ass idea they stole from World Class, themselves known for off-the-wall booking notions at that time (like the infamous "blackout" finish to the Iceman Parsons-Kerry Von Erich World title match), and the concept is thus: There's three cages stacked on top of each other, with the smallest on top, and team members at the top every two minutes and fight their way down, with the winner being the first team to exit. Precious holds the key and decides who wins, presumably. It's kind of funny to think back on a time when Jimmy Garvin WASN'T playing a smarmy sleazeball heel. Ivan Koloff and Ron Garvin start in the little cage on top and slug it out, despite being so high that no one can possibly follow the "action" from the crowd. I have no idea why they didn't just do the Wargames instead of this stupid idea. So the door opens and Garvin proceeds to the next level, leaving Steve Williams 2-on-1 against Koloff and Rotundo. The next period sees Ron Garvin heading to the bottom level and leaving while Ivan Koloff and Steve Williams fight to the second level. Up on top it's Rotundo & Perez v. Animal. What a fucking retarded match concept. The rules are so convoluted that it's like something even Vince Russo would reject for being too tough to understand. Anyway, next period sees Animal & Williams v. Koloff & Perez in the second cage, with Hawk v. Russian Assassin & Rotundo in the top cage and no one in the bottom. It's all just guys punching each other, so there's nothing really to call other than that. Third period and we've got Perez and Animal in the bottom cage, RA & Koloff v. Williams & Hawk in the middle cage, and Rotundo still on top with Kevin Sullivan against Jimmy Garvin. Animal and Perez both walk out to put the faces up 2-1. Next period and the Russians both drop down and look to depart, but beat up on Hawk first. Jimmy Garvin and Kevin Sullivan, the principles in the whole dumb Precious feud, are alone on the top, with Rotundo & Williams in the middle cage. Hawk walks, as do the Russians, so it's 3-3. The build is just all off for this thing, as guys fight in the bottom cage when they can just as easily walk out. What a mess. Rotundo and Williams both exit, leaving us with Garvin & Sullivan in the middle cage, where we should have just gone to in the first place. Garvin actually tries a spinning toehold of all things. They make it to the bottom and Garvin hits the brainbuster and leaves at 19:13. Yay, it's over. I don't know that I can even rate it. Call it a solid DUD and leave it at that. Afterwards, with Precious having chosen hubbie Jimmy Garvin over Sullivan, Kevin takes it badly and tries to kill her by strangling her. Uh, I don't know that it wouldn't have been a bad idea to edit that out given the time when they were airing it and all.

US title: Barry Windham v. Dusty Rhodes

This was quite the hot feud for Windham, with the whole "former friends" thing as Windham was on the hot streak of a lifetime as a Horseman. Barry backs off from the elbow to start, but Dusty shoulderblocks him down and Windham bails. Criss-cross and Windham drops an elbow to the back of the head, but Dusty presses him and DDTs him in response. Elbow and Dusty goes up (?!?), and a bodypress gets two. Windham, apparently thinking that an airplane crashed on the arena, is shell-shocked and bails to confer with Dillon. Back in, Windham slugs away in the corner, but Dusty is up for that challenge and fires back with some Flip Flop N Fly action. Barry bails again. They brawl outside and Barry tries a piledriver on the floor, but Dusty backdrops out of it and follows with a clothesline. Back in, Barry takes over by slugging away in the corner, but Dusty heads to the apron and slingshots him over the top, as Barry takes a nasty bump to the concrete. Dusty follows with a slam on the floor. Back in, Barry again gets the advantage by attacking from behind, and drops an elbow to set up THE IRON CLAW OF DEATH. AKA "Dusty gets to lay around and sell for five minutes". Keep in mind that this is Windham's finisher at this point, the move that he kills jobbers with and won the US title with. Barry gets a pair of two counts off that.

Dusty tries to fight up and climbs the ropes to escape, but just can't fire off that elbow, despite melodramatically cocking it. Windham brings him down, and Dusty's facing insurmountable odds, according to JR. Naturally that means Dusty is ready to escape, but Barry goes right back to it. So obviously the odds were surmountable, but just difficult. Dusty walks the ropes again to escape, but Barry decides to try a superplex and the ref gets bumped. They fight on the top rope and Dusty slams him off and drops the big fat elbow, but there's no ref. Cue the run-in, as Ron Garvin makes a random appearance, and then turns on Big Dust and knocks him cold with the Hands of Stone. And now Barry goes back to that claw, finishing at 15:54. Apparently Windham is no more of a miracle worker with Rhodes than Ric Flair is. This was pretty dull stuff, with Barry bumping all over for Dusty for 10 minutes, then Dusty selling the claw for five, and finally a run-in finish. **1/2

NWA World title: Ric Flair v. Lex Luger

There were many, many more to come, but this was the first match between them. Well, if you don't count the Battle of the Belts match from Florida that no one remembers. Luger of course joined the Horsemen in 1987, then lost the US title to Dusty Rhodes and regrouped by telling the other members of the team that he didn't need their help any longer and he wanted to stand on his own. So they did just that, and kicked him out of the group, then paid off his best friend to turn on him and join them. Now that's evil. Common sense, popular opinion and years of wrestling history said that Lex Luger wins the belt here and Flair regains it at Starrcade.

They fight over the lockup to start and Flair starts throwing chops, but Luger no-sells and hiptosses him into a dropkick, and Flair bails. Back in, Luger press-slams him and Flair is out again. Back in, another press slam and Luger goes to the bearhug. That goes on for a while. Flair manages to draw Luger into the ropes to force the break, and Flair bails to the apron. Luger suplexes him back in...and HITS THE ELBOW. Holy shit, I've seen him miss that thing like 800 times. A second try misses, however, so all is right with the universe again. Flair tosses him and uses some dirty tricks to take over, ramming his head into the railing before they head back in. Flair drops the knee and works on the arm, then hits a cheapshot to the ribs while Tommy Young is checking the arm. Luger comes back with a clothesline for two, but Flair slams him and goes up. You know what happens there. Luger hiptosses him out of the corner, but whiffs on a dropkick and we get a Flair Flop as both guys are out. Flair whips him into the corner, but Lex comes out with another clothesline for two.

Flair tosses him again, but Luger slingshots in with a sunset flip for two. Flair goes to the knee to finally get him to sell, and starts going to work on the knee. And it's figure-four time. Luger quickly reverses, so Flair kicks him in the knee again, but Luger comes back with a press slam. He misses a kneedrop (duuuuuuuuhhhh....him smart like dump truck...) and Flair goes up again, and gets slammed again. Luger's knee is iffy, however. Luger pounds away in the corner, but Flair brings him down with an atomic drop, and Luger does the All Japan sell by popping up with a lariat for two. Luger pounds away in the corner again, totally forgetting the knee injury now, and we get a Flair Flip. They brawl on the floor and Luger takes the fateful trip to the post (dumb dumb dumb....that's not a dramatic music cue, that's my opinions of the finish) and starts bleeding. Back in, Luger starts "bleeding", but still powerslams Flair and gets the Torture Rack, and Flair apparently submits at 23:13. Your basic Flair v. Broomstick match. *** BUT WAIT! Turns out that the tiny little cut on Luger's forehead forced the the "Maryland State Athletic Commission" to stop the match, and thus award the decision to Flair instead. Worst Screwjob Ever. This was completely ridiculous on several levels:

1) Baltimore had seen dozens of matches far bloodier than this one without ever hearing a mention of the Commission before this, or after this for that matter.

2) Luger's cut was so small as to have dried up 10 seconds after his blade job.

3) Luger was obviously able to compete, given that he was about to win the match and all.

Essentially, this was supposed to be Luger's ascent into Hogan levels by getting his big All-American win for the All-American World title ala Hogan in 84, but politics and a really bad job of blading screwed it all up and left Luger branded a choker for the rest of his career.

More importantly, however, this show really showed how out of touch with the audience that JCP was at this point, as WWF was still doing the superhero "send the fans home happy" finishes on their PPVs, and here you have heels going over up and down the card and casual buyers, who may have been excited to see a WWF alternative, getting kicked in the proverbial nuts at the end of the show with a retarded screwjob finish. You can screw with your audience if you're Vince McMahon and have legions of followers who will tune into Monday Night RAW every week no matter how shitty it gets or how many months John Cena holds the title for, but you can't do that when it's your first real PPV. And that's why Jim Crockett went out of business before he could do a SECOND PPV.

Still, a pretty decent show aside from the horrifyingly stupid Tower of Doom match. Mild recommendation, mainly for the Midnights v. Fantastics tag title match.

34 comments:

  1. The question I always had -- did Luger mess up the bladjob? Because if he's covered in the crimson mask, the finish make sense (even if it's not great) and would build sympathy for Luger without kicking the fans in the nuts.

    I also wondered why they didn't just do an nWo finish with the Horsemen running down & destroying Luger. Again, gain sympathy and he shows up for the rematch with Sting, Dusty & Koloff in his corner.

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  2. They also did the Tower of Doom match (or a pretty close impression) for that abomination of a main event at Uncensored '96. Though I could understand if you had blocked that out of your mind.

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  3. FEED ME MORE WCW!!!

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  4.  Re: Luger's bladejob. I always thought he messed it up. I don't ever recall him blading a ton before this, even in the WarGames matches and he was still really green (only about 4 years into the business at this point) so this might have been one of a handful of blades he'd done.

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  5. Luger never really bladed at all.

    and really up until the Foley match, i could recall a single memorable Edge bladejob.

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  6. "I'm such a mark for Stan Lane's marital aids' stuff."

    ... from motorboats to motorboating, I see...
    ... I thought Condrey was the "Loverboy"...
    ... why stop at midnight when you can go all night...

    ... okay, I'll stop there.

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  7. ahh the alliance to end hulkamania!! man the outsiders 2 months after that were the much needed shot in the arm that company needed at the time. still shitty 5 years later they folded.

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  8. now if the roles were reversed and they needed flair to blade there would be little doubt about the decision of the match lol. that man lives to blade.

    question for the board : Whats the story behind flair gettting fined by vince at wm 8, and bret not being fined even though he bladed too??

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  9. Yeah, I reviewed that match for my This Week With Caliber column a few weeks back. The column following that, I said the Barry vs Dusty match from this PPV is the 3rd worst WCW match of all time. 

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  10.  Bret made it look like he was cut hardway, and by the time Vince found out otherwise, he'd stopped caring.

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  11. I think (and I could be all sorts of wrong) that Flair was told not to blade and Hart was not- of course Hart might have just claimed it was a hardway like he did with Bulldog a few years later.

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  12. Yeah, no one was allowed to blade. But Bret needed the drama, and Macho wanted the same. IIRC, Macho cut Flair himself, and Flair said it was the only time that someone cut him without saying anything. Then Bret said it looked like Flair had a bunch of cat scratches on his forehead.

    On an unrelated note, I'm always passed along twitter accounts that are wrestling related and trying to be funny. Cranky Vince was the only one that actually was, until I was sent @HulkInThe80s . I'm actually pissed I didn't come up with this myself. It also reminded me that No Holds Barred hits DVD today, baby!

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  13. You need to watch Great American Bash 99.

    I dont think match got about **

    Hammer vs Mikey Whipwreck!
    Sting vs Rick Steiner!!
    The Cat vs. Horace!!!

    SMELL THE WORKRATE! TASTE THE BUYRATE!!!

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  14. Luger should have won the belt here with Flair getting it back at Starrcade. Yes indeedy.

     

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  15.  Plus it had MASTER P AND THE NO LIMIT SOLDIERS!

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  16. "It's the harley and me and you and the tree"

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  17. Luger and Flair had awesome chemistry together.

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  18. I think his first real blade was during the cage match with Angle in 2002. According to his book, he his philosophy was to never blade unless the match absolutely had to have it, hence why it was so rare that he actually did.

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  19. The full PPV version, in case anyone is interested:
    http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL050DC94F9A226C15&feature=plcp 

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  20. That horse was beaten to death and buried...and then the grave was dug up so people could beat on it more.

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  21. Re: the Horsemen. Generally speaking, they didn't run in as much as the nWo did, at least not for big matches like PPVs or Clashes. They did it more for tv matches, where there was a non-finish to convince you to go to a house show, or attacked after a match was over. But I don't think they ran in every match like the nWo would.

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  22.  Are you calling Lex Luger a dead horse?

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  23. That catchphrase still makes me so angry after 13 years.  Bischoff did some great things but that sure as fuck wasn't one of them.

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  24. I loved the west texas rednecks! their second single using jeff jarrretts 97 music was great (even had a bitchin music video of them doing hill billy shit).

    haha loved that they kayfabe played instruments too! also hennig hailing from texas instead of minnesota was gold!

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  25. Actually Caliber, it was at Starrcade '95 where Savage cut Flair without giving him any notice. If you watch the match at Wrestlemania 8, you can pretty clearly see Flair blading himself. Bret's bladejob didn't get noticed because he did such a good job of hiding it from everybody plus he didn't cut himself in an area where he had already cut himself several times in the past like Flair did.

    IMO, best bladejob of all time would be Shawn Michaels' mid-air bladejob in the first Hell In A Cell match, while my pick for all-time worst bladejob is a tie between The Undertaker's missed divejob in the second Hell In A Cell match where he dived at Mankind and missed even though Mankind was nowhere near him and then bladed himself in clear view of the camera; that was unusually sloppy coming from one of the greatest, most professional workers of all time.

    The other one would be Herb Abrams' bladejob from his UWF promotion, where Col. Red (I have no idea who that is either) gave him some really weak looking cane shots and you can see Herb on the ground blading himself the whole time. When they show his face, you can tell he had never done a bladejob in his life and he had absolutely no idea how to do one properly. He had inexplicably bladed himself on the nose! You can see it on YouTube, that whole video package was much more hilarious than WWE's alleged "comedy" skits.

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  26. FIGHT DUSTY! AMERICAN COW!

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  27. Worst blade jobs goes to RVD. He ALWAYS cuts himself above the eyebrow and a minimal amount of blood comes out.

    IMO, the best was Slaughter/Iron Sheik...and of course Muta.

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  28. What I liked about the NWA was that a big name would go after a lesser title after he did a program with Flair for the World title. It made the lesser title seem important.

    Also, I think the Garvin heel turn was hinting towards his signing to the WWF a few weeks later. (selling out for money.)

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  29. Very good picks. And yes, RVD's bladejobs have always been pretty bad. Got to put The Rock in the "bad bladejobs" category as well, although it's understandable that he didn't want to jeopardize a potentially lucrative acting career by carving up his forehead on a regular basis.

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  30. "for someone who won't stop NAGGING me about it. You know who you are. (I no longer know who that was.) "

    IT WAS ME, KEITH!! IT WAS ME ALL ALONG!!!

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  31. Luger is like DiBiase, in that they missed a golden opportunity to put the world title on him in both the NWA and the WWF.

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  32.  Yes, that was it. My apologies.

    Thanks for catching that.

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  33. i actually like robs blade jobs, people don't really bleed from the forehead. Above the eye though, yeah.

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