And now it's time for that new sitcom...Everybody Hates Netcop. This week's assault on your poor, humble, beleaguered (did I mention humble?) reviewer comes from Matt King (get it?) on the Steel Cage Asylum newsboard at www.cataclysmal.com/asylum/7.html, as he deconstructs my last Thunder review and calls me an idiot a bunch of times. Great reading, folks. Well, not really, but I figure I'd be a good sport and give him extra hits. (Too late. The website doesn’t exist anymore.)
Anyway, in order to dissuade those who think I'm biased against WCW (perish the thought!) , I thought I'd pick a WCW show with ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to make fun of, at all. Nope. Not a one.
The Netcop Retro Rant for Halloween Havoc 1992
(My first WCW PPV ever! And given the fact that we were finally getting TBS in Edmonton at the time, I could actually watch the weekly buildup on WCW Saturday Night and then ORDER THE SHOW! This was big news to us hardcore Canadian wrestling nerds at the time. Too bad my first WCW PPV had to be, you know, this show.)
- Live from Philadelphia, PA
- Your hosts are Tony Schiavone & Bruno Sammartino doing analysis and Jim Ross & Jesse Ventura on commentary. In a Hyatte-esque moment for me, Tony calls Rick Rude someone who will go down as one of the greatest wrestlers of all time, then throws to Missy Hyatt, who it occurs to me is willing to go down ON the greatest wrestlers of all time. (Class all around. Is it safe to say that Missy is actually doing better than Tammy right now, or did the crazy train leave the station too long ago for Tammy to ever make up that headstart?) Then, in an even weirder moment, Missy throws to Jesse Ventura, noting that she'd vote for him for president.
- Opening match: Bobby Eaton, Arn Anderson & Michael Hayes v. Johnny Gunn, Tom Zenk & Shane Douglas.
Gee, which side do you think the Philly crowd will cheer? The faces nearly get booed out of the building here, in case there was any doubt. The Pretty Boys clean house early. Douglas gets the least of the heel heat, Zenk the most. My buddy Rod Dixon (of www.tomzenk.com) (That site also no long exists. Haven’t talked to Rod in a long time, either. Rod! What’s up? Where the fuck is Tom Zenk at, anyway, dude?) noted that Zenk was the only one of the three who refused who work as a heel when it became apparent that they were getting a heel reaction. Zenk gets beat on for a while, then makes a hottish tag to Shane, and the heels cheat like nuts to regain the advantage. Jesse is in awe of the fans' reaction. Shane escapes a figure-four (oh, the irony) and makes the hot tag, and a pier-six erupts. Gunn (later to become Salvatore Sincere or Tom Brandi, depending on your view) hits the Thesz Press for the pin. (Question: When the Tom Brandi push was not working in the WWF, why did they not resurrect the Johnny Gunn gimmick and team him up with Billy? Discuss.) Crowd does not approve. Good opener. **3/4
- Missy tries to gain access to Rick Rude's dressing room to ask him about his upcoming US title defense against Nikita Koloff and NWA World title challenge against Masa Chono (both in the same night, as punishment from Bill Watts)...but Harley Race kicks her out. Hmmm...
- Brian Pillman v. Ricky Steamboat.
Pillman was freshly turned here. The face-heel reactions are back in sync again with the rest of the world now. They trade chops to start, and Steamboat does a wicked "playing possum" move to sucker Pillman into an armdrag. Great little mat wrestling sequence and Pillman starts cheating. Crowd chants "Brian sucks" in an era before that particular chant became commonplace. (Was that chant ever commonplace?) Philly was the pioneers in chanting about things sucking, so in the long run they'll always have that addition to the wrestling encyclopedia. Pillman pulls out all the cheap heat tactics (choke, hair pull, slapping Steamboat around) but Steamboat counters a superplex. Pillman blocks the bodypress with a dropkick, however. They trade two counts and Pillman gets a sleeper, which Steamboat fights out of. Jesse spends much of the match extolling the virtues of the eye poke and necksnap, and reminiscing about Philly crowds telling him how much he sucked. Those were the days, eh, Jesse? They trade chops and Pillman cheats enough to get a bodypress off the second rope for two. Steamboat gets a sunset flip off the top for two, which Pillman reverses for two, which Steamboat reverses for three. Good stuff. ***1/2
- Teddy Long interviews Masa Chono and his cronies: Hiro Matsuda, Kensuke Sasaki and whoever the NWA president was. (Jared from Subway.) Chono selects Kensuke Sasaki as his special referee for the NWA World title match. Rick Rude had already selected Harley Race as his.
- Bill Watts runs down the announcements for the evening: Terry Gordy is fired from WCW, so Steve Williams and Steve Austin will challenge for the tag titles tonight...Big Van Vader will sub for Rick Rude against Nikita Koloff for the US title...and that's about it.
- US title match: Big Van Vader (surrogate champion) v. Nikita Koloff.
KOOOOOOOOOOOOOLOFF. KOOOOOOOOOOOOOLOFF. (At this point there was a whole “Goldberg is just ripping off Nikita Koloff” thing going around, so Ryback can feel better knowing that no matter how fresh and original his second-hand act may seem, it's already been derided as imitation years before he even started.) My roommate beats me by MILLISECONDS, doing an improvised "Van Vader doing Rude's intro" bit. (C’mon, how hilarious would it have been to have Vader just come out and pretend to be Rude, doing his whole bit and acting like no one would tell the difference?) We have a bet between us as to who'll sell the first move -- it's Koloff. Not by much, but enough to make the difference. Vader dismantles Koloff, tosses him outside, whacks him with a chair (and a fan BEANS Koloff with a beer) then brings him back in, beats him up some more for good measure, and powerbombs him for the pin to retain Rude's title. Man, I wouldn't wanna be Koloff there. To no one's surprise, Koloff retired after this and has not been seen again in professional wrestling since. Unless you count Goldberg, of course. **1/2 Weird match -- Vader was being totally uncooperative at a couple of points, although he eventually allowed Koloff a bodyslam and some other offense. I wonder if Koloff pissed off someone in the back and this was the traditional "get the fuck out" message from Cowboy Bill? (I don’t think so. I think Koloff just wanted out of the business and put Vader over super-strong on the way out. By the way, they totally missed an angle opportunity here, since Rude failed to win the NWA World title later in the show. Rude should have come back to the dressing room to retrieve his US title and Vader could be like “Hahahaha fuck you” and BAM, there’s Rude’s face turn as he chases his own belt.)
- WCW/NWA World tag team title match: Barry Windham & Dustin Rhodes v. Steve Williams & Steve Austin.
Historical note: This is the only teaming of Steve & Steve, both of whose real name is "Steve Williams". Windham & Rhodes were having issues at this point. And no, Steve Austin wasn't TV champion at this point -- Scott Steiner was, in WCW's last attempt to make him happy and prevent exactly what would happen in January of 1993 -- the Steiners' WWF debut. Not even on the card, either, was he. Williams and Rhodes have a slobberknocker to start, with Williams kicking the crap out of him until Dustin hits a sneaky clothesline. Jesse pesters JR about an Oklahoma ass-kicking from the past week in a funny bit. Crowd chants "We want Flair" out of spite. Austin tags in and gets nowhere. Rhodes and Austin have a decent sequence, foreshadowing their later matches. Williams comes in and ducks a lariat from Windham to take control. I always found the booking of the Miracle Violence Connection to interesting in 1992 -- they were put over the Steiner brothers almost immediately in order to establish them as unstoppable monsters, and nearly destroying the Steiners in the process, while Windham and Rhodes were booked as the plucky underdogs who eventually were able to outsmart the champs and win the titles. (Never seen a Bill Watts show before, sport? Ever heard of the Rock N Roll Express?) Austin is doing a LOT of mat wrestling here, in stark contrast to his current persona. After about 15 minutes, Steve and Steve really start gelling as a team, cutting the ring in the half and executing all those other tag team clichés. Windham wisely gets to play Ricky Morton. Jim Ross has plenty of time to work with, so he works in the usual Dr. Death origin stories as the match proceeds at a leisurely pace. For those who don't know, Steve Williams was a noted amateur wrestler, and in one match he broke his nose in several places, but donned a hockey mask and wrestled the next night, causing the sports writers to dub him "Dr. Death". His name was then solidified in his early years as a wrestler, specifically a match in Louisiana where he was busted open and needed 108 stitches to close the wound, but came back to wrestle the next night! (If anyone could have single-handedly kicked cancer’s ass, it would have been Dr. Death. Or maybe Chuck Norris. The fact that he couldn’t do it leads me to believe a cure will never be found.) Windham makes a mini-hot tag to Rhodes, who promptly gets mauled by Williams and becomes Ricky Morton #2. Here's a shock: Rhodes blades. Rhodes and Austin do another really nice sequence, starting from an Austin body-vice. This is a nice, slow-paced, old-school tag match that's not using any restholds to meet a long time requirement. I have to admire Dustin Rhodes for being able to do that sort of match. Crowd is into it too -- not rabidly chanting and cheering, but paying close attention, you know? Williams suplexes Rhodes into dreamstreet for a couple of two counts. How come no one uses the forward double-underhook suplex anymore (except for Kevin Nash in Revenge)? Dustin gets a false tag with about 3 minutes left to time limit and a pier-six erupts. Ref gets bumped outside the ring, allowing the Steves to double-team Windham...and get the pin! Oh, wait, Windham's not the legal man. Rhodes gets a pin off the bulldog! Oh, wait, the timekeeper just rang the bell prematurely. All hell breaks out with a minute left, and NOW the crowd is on the edge of their seats. Dustin tombstones Steve for two, and the time limit runs out. Great match. ****
- Vader (still carrying Rude's US title) does an interview with Paul E and Harley Race. Madusa interrupts and Paul E fires her in a classic moment, going off on a misogynistic rant and making sure to spell "fired" because she's a woman and she's "too stupid to understand". She was only hired because "the other hooker had a previous engagement", you see. Big "ooooooooo" from the crowd at THAT line. Madusa flips out and kicks Paul E's ass all over the stage, sending the crowd into fits of joy. Great, great, segment. My mom was watching this show with my dad and I when it was on PPV in 92, and she nearly stood up and cheered for Madusa when this happened. (Paul’s “F, I, R, E…” and subsequent shot to the mouth from Madusa was EPIC. Sadly this led to nothing good.)
- Sting comes out to Spin the Wheel and Make the Deal. SPIN THE WHEEL, MAKE THE DEAL! SPIN THE WHEEL, MAKE THE DEAL! You kind of have to picture Cheetum, the demented evil midget chanting that line to get the full effect...or else buy a copy of Netcop Busts, which features the promo for this match as the first thing on it. It should be noted that the goddamned wheel gets pyro, but no one else does. Anyway, there's only two ways to explain the choice that ended up getting made here:
1) The wheel wasn't gimmicked
2) Bill Watts is a moron.
For reference sake, the matches were Spinner's Choice, Coal Miner's Glove, Lumberjacks with Straps, Texas Death, Cage, I Quit, First Blood, Bared Wire, Texas Bullrope, Prince of Darkness, Loser Spends Two Weeks In a Mental Asylum (oh, wait, that was the match Ric Flair lost this year) and a couple of others. Anyway, the wheel lands on the least interesting of the bunch...Coal Miner's Glove. I mean, my god, you have 10 other brutal matches to settle the Roberts-Sting feud, and WCW goes with a fucking Coal Miner's Glove match? What's the point of even doing the gimmick? How hard is it to gimmick the damn wheel so that it lands on, you know, A GOOD MATCH? Anyway... (I forget if it was ever established that they legitimately forgot to gimmick the wheel, or if it was just typical WCW tomfoolery to choose that stipulation and then people just assumed it was typical WCW tomfoolery to forget to gimmick the wheel.)
- NWA World title match: Masahiro Chono v. Rick Rude.
Rude gets a de facto face pop after his manager's turn in the Paul E. segment. This is the debut of the clean-shaven Rude. Now then, Rude and Chono had a really, really awesome match in Japan in the finals of the NWA tournament, Rude's best ever in fact. It hovered around ****1/2. This, on the other hand...is not. Remember my conspiracy theory from the Starrcade 92 rant about Bill Watts and Japanese wrestlers? No? Then go back and read it! Anyway, off the top of my head, here's a list of 10 more potentially exciting activities than watching this match:
10) Watching paint dry...blindfolded.
9) Organizing your paperclip collection
8) Sorting your tax deductible business expenses
7) Dubbing a "Best of the AWA" tape...using only Larry Zbyszko matches.
6) Watching a documentary on the three-toed sloth on the Discovery Channel.
5) Three words: Monday Night Curling!
4) Being ringside for a best of 29 falls Viscera v. Mideon match
3) Rewatching Shane Douglas v. Tully Blanchard...while taking Valium.
2) Helping my roommate catalogue his tape list, match by match. (Yeah, that one I actually did take part in. An anal retentive wrestling fan with a trunk full of VHS tapes is no picnic for anyone involved.)
And the #1 Activity That's More Exciting Than Watching This Match:
1) Rationalizing WCW.
So anyway, in between the ENDLESS FUCKING RESTHOLDS, a fight breaks out and the Philly fans desperately turn to that for amusement like a Tibetan monk turning to a porn star for sexual fulfillment after 20 years of chastity. Hey, I made a funny. So finally after TWENTY FUCKING MINUTES, *both* referees get bumped and Rude gets the Rude Awakening, but no one counts. Chono comes back with the STF and Sasaki counts the submission, but Race overturns it and gives it to Rude by DQ. A HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE abomination of a match with a Dusty finish to boot. -***1/2 Don't EVER watch this match. It's just not worth the 25 minutes of your life that you'll never get back again. (The rating seems a tad harsh, but my GOD does this match suck.)
- WCW World title match: Ron Simmons v. The Barbarian (w/ Cactus Jack).
Someone, for the 1992 year-end PWI issue, submitted a top 10 list as to why WCW sucked. 5 of the reasons were "Barbarian in a World title match". I can't argue with that kind of overwhelming logic. Hypocritical Jim Ross Note: In the last match he extols the virtues of WCW, nothing that the bodybuilders are "the other guys". Now, with two roided up monsters, he extols the virtues of "hard-hitting, power wrestling". Yah. (DID YOU KNOW: WWE is not a sport, except when they are for DVD ranking purposes.) You know what class reunion I'd like to attend? The Parts Unknown High School one. You'd get a pretty good cross-section of the wrestling community, because EVERYONE comes from there. I mean, I pity the poor teachers who had to teach all those guys. The town must have a horrible reputation, exporting all those nasty heels. I mean, sure, they produced Mr. Wrestling II and the Blue Blazer, but other than than they just keep pumping out all the bad guys in wrestling. What kind of lousy police force do they have there? Does anyone notice all these punks wearing masks and leather and chains?
Right, enough of that.
This match is absolutely not afraid to suck in 14 different ways. The best wrestler in the match is the manager...Cactus Jack. They do some stuff in the ring, then do some stuff out of the ring, then some stuff back in the ring again. Who the HELL thought that this was a good idea to book as the co-main for this show? What were they smoking at the time? Did Bill Watts, Dusty Rhodes and Ole Anderson all get together and share a crack pipe, knowing that they were all on the way out, and decide to see if they could sink the federation with one show? "Sure," Ole said, "The Black Scorpion was a dumb idea, but I bet we can top it if we do something REALLY stupid, like booking Barbarian in the main event of a major PPV." I bet even Dusty Rhodes was taken aback when THAT one got suggested. And this is the guy that put HIMSELF over Ric Flair...twice! Barbarian puts something vaguely resembling a move not entirely unlike something that might have been mistaken for a cobra clutch on Simmons, and the announcers are so embarrassed that they dodge around actually calling it a sleeper. See, now THIS is how Kevin Nash should destroy WCW from within if indeed that is his plan: Push Barbarian back to main event status again. I guarantee ratings of 0.5 or less within 6 months. Barbarian uses Jack's distraction to the BIG SMELLY FOOT TO THE HEAD OF HIDEOUS, FESTERING PAIN AND DESTRUCTION, and the SHITTY HEADBUTT OF TOTAL ANNHILIATION, but Ron Simmons kicks out and powerslams him for the win to retain the title. And the crowd goes...whatever. -**
- We are going rapidly downhill here.
- Tony and Bruno analyze the so-called match, and are joined by Erik Watts for so-called expert commentary. Crowd even boos Watts for the INTERVIEW. Man, that's cold.
- Coal Miner's Glove match: Sting v. Jake Roberts.
I always thought "Wheel of Torture" would have made a better name, but I guess I'm just not the creative genius that Ole Anderson is. Jake gets Steve Austin's music. Sting is wearing blue and white facepa...oh, forget it, the joke is dead. (I’M BRINGING IT BACK, BABY! Everything that is old is new again.) This is Jake's one and only WCW match. And thank god for small favors. The match goes like this: Move...staredown...circle...move...staredown...circle...move...repeat. They fight outside the ring for a bit, with Sting posting Jake a couple of times, and Sting makes a try for the glove, unsuccessfully. Ross notes that Jake was quoted as saying that he would not rest until Sting was eliminated from the sport. Hmm, I thought the quote was that Jake would not rest until every drop of liquor was eliminated from the bottle of hooch he had in his coat. Must be one of those "out of context" things. Jake takes control and chokes Sting out with his wrist tape. Kneelift misses. Stinger splash misses. Short-arm clothesline and DDT, Sting is out...for about three seconds. Sting is obviously unaware of the full power of the DDT, or else he was just as sick of this match as everyone else was and didn't feel like selling anymore. Sting climbs the pole...and Cactus Jack runs in with a defanged cobra for Jake. Sting gets the glove and nails Jake, and the "cobra" bites Jake on the face, with Jake obviously holding it there, and Sting gets the pin. Stupid, stupid, stupid, did I mention STUPID?, ending. DUD
The Bottom Line: Check the tape out, but FOR THE LOVE OF GOD stop it after the tag title match and don't ever speak of the last three matches again.
Hey, I guess there WAS something to make fun after all. What do you know?