No intro; instead, we’re led right into the ring where THE OUTSIDERS are standing over a fallen gang of wrestlers. Let’s see, we’ve got HIGH VOLTAGE, THE NASTY BOYS, CICLOPE, and GALAXY. The head right over to the ringside seats, where your announcers TONY SCHIAVONE and LARRY ZBYSZKO are sitting. Nash is peeved at Tony for laughing at him last week, and asks him if he ever wants to be able to pick up his kids again? Hall says all he’s ever heard anymore is that the Faces of Fear are the scariest team in the world, but if they have the guts to come down to ringside, they’ll slap the coconut breath right out of them. (Hey, that’s racist!) Larry refuses to back down, no matter how much they try to intimidate him.
The Outsiders head to the back, and they’re ambushed by THE FACES OF FEAR and JIMMY HART. Hall is able to throw a heavy full garbage can at Barbarian, and he DOESN’T EVEN FLINCH! The Fear beat their asses all the way to the outside of the arena, where the camera man gives up following. I think my heart just grew 3 sizes.
After a commercial break, Tony explains that there was a triangle tag-team dark match between “The Nasty Boys, High Voltage, and a couple of Mexican wrestlers”. WCW’s view on the Cruiserweight division in a nutshell! Tony feeds it to Larry for not defending him, since he’s a former wrestler and Tony is not. Tony says he’s got 5 kids at home, a wife, and he doesn’t need 7 foot tall wrestlers getting in his face. And with that, he walks off, leaving us alone with Larry. No no no no, please, god anything but that! Is Chris Cruise in the back? Has Lee Marshall returned from the Road? Is Mark Madden running WCW Live? Actually, scratch that last option.
LA PARKA vs. JUVENTUD GUERRERA
This is the debut of the Skull Captain, your hero and mine, La Parka! I do my best to stay faithful to the Faces of Fear, but I do have a wandering eye and I can’t help myself. Juvi perches himself on the second rope waiting for the bell, and the second it sounds, he pounces and … somersaults. Oh. Skull Captain kicks Juvi in the mouth for being such a turd, as MIKE TENAY joins Larry. La Parka gives Juvi a rana over the top rope, and nails him with a HARD tope suicida! New World Odor count hits 2. Both guys battle to the top, and Juvi crotches La Parka. A springboard rana looks to finish, but La Parka kicks out at 2!! Good false finish. A springboard moonsault also gets 2, but this is the Skull Captain’s hizzouze, and this is not how we do. Juvi springboards again, and this time Parka catches him with a dropkick mid-move for 2. Juvi rolls to the outside, and Parka’s right behind him with a plancha off the top rope – which is a lot of weight travelling a long way! Back in, a powerbomb gets a close 2. New World Odor #3. Parka locks Juvi in the surfboard, then releases the arms and just squeezes Juvi’s legs to pieces as he hangs in mid-air. Juvi fights and manages to twist out, falling on top for 2. Juvi heads up for a missile dropkick, but Parka escapes at 2. Tenay drops a bombshell; Roddy Piper will make an appearance tonight. Is it to refuse the video evidence that he’s the biggest tool on the planet? Juvi hits a super Frankensteiner, but Parka just will not stay down. They fight back and forth, with Juvi leaping on to Parka’s shoulders, but Parka’s fighting … no, Juvi hits the rana, but Parka kicks out! Parka snaps up, and slams Juvi, heading up – but he misses whatever he was going for, and Juvi leaps on top for 2. Juvi hits a jumping spin kick, spikes Parka with the DDT, but he kicks out again. Parka fights Juvi to the top, but Juvi flies off with the tornado DDT for … 2! There is no end to the fight in Parka! Parka is again perched on top, and Juvi goes for the super Frankensteiner, but Parka hooks the ropes and Juvi has no one! Parka is right behind him with a corkscrew senton, and scores the win at 9:23!!! The fans were nowhere near as into this as I was, but that was a fantastic debut and match. ***
THE ULTIMATE DRAGON (with Sonny Onoo) vs. DEAN MALENKO (for the WCW world cruiserweight title)
Is it Ultimate, or Ultimo, WCW? Make up your minds! Dragon has 8 belts with him, which are: The British Commonwealth Junior Heavyweight Championship, the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship, the NWA World Junior Heavyweight Championship, the NWA World Welterweight Championship, the UWA World Junior Light Heavyweight Championship, the WAR International Junior Heavyweight Championship, the WWA World Junior Light Heavyweight Championship, and the WWF Light Heavyweight Championship. All of these make up the elusive J-Crown, and is considered amongst the most prestigious titles in Japan. Of course, despite the honor and prestige of holding these titles, I am holding out a LITTLE bit of hope that Dragon dumps the WWF belt in a garbage can, but it never comes.
Before we get started, we hear from REY MYSTERIO JR. Rey, as usual, says absolutely nothing. Blah blah blah, you were great Dean but I want another title shot, snore. Moving forward, let’s block him from talking.
Dragon is busy twisting Malenko into a human pretzel, as our New World Odor count hits 4. Dragon starts throwing kicks like a ninja, and follows with a handspring back elbow. Dean doesn’t really sell that move because it’s stupid, and locks Dragon in an Oklahoma roll for 2. Dragon hits the Dragon Suplex, but Dean kicks out FAR too easily at 2. I don’t care for that one bit. Dragon nails a spinning heel kick, and Deano hits the deck. Dragon misses a baseball slide, but still manages to whip Malenko into the guardrail anyway. Back in, Dragon goes up, but Malenko pounces. Dragon elbows him off anyway, but misses the moonsault. Dean goes for the Texas Cloverleaf, which draws Sonny to the apron. Malenko charges him, but now Dragon’s all over Malenko. A backdrop sends Dragon to the outside and … wait, we’re calling an over the top rope DQ at 4:05???? They haven’t called that in like a YEAR. I don’t have the energy to crawl back through my archives to find the last time they did that. Come ON, WCW. That was the laziest, cheapest, STUPIDEST way to avoid jobbing these guys I can imagine. Well, unless they’d gone to another 4:30 draw or something (I’m staring at YOU, WCW Saturday Night). Sorry, if Dragon is outclassing your champion to that degree, then you either don’t book the match, or you put him over and deal with it. Malenko was completely out of his element here, and Dragon looked like a million bucks. **1/2
THE AMAZING FRENCH CANADIANS (with Colonel Robert Parker) vs. THE AMERICAN MALES
Parker has completely embraced his new French Canadian roots, dressing like an 18th century soldier. His cigar remains intact, in a nice touch. Does this breathe a little easier than his last getup? Can he avoid mopping his brow? Meanwhile, Bagwell is feeling patriotic tonight, waving the American flag with such ferocity that the National Hurricane Center mistook him for a tropical storm. “It’s a great day to be an American!” screams Bagwell, and leads the fans in a USA chant. You can literally see the patriotism oozing from his pores, and it looks like HGH. He’s bulked up nicely in his time off, buff you might say. Rougeau starts doing kip ups, showing off his excellent cardiovascular system. Riggs puts him in a headlock, because he kinda sucks. Still, he’s in control and having fun, until a leapfrog sees him crash directly into Bagwell by mistake. Marcus is none too happy with his buddy, and lets him know it. That gives Rougeau lots of time to come over and whip Riggs to the heel corner, and the Frenchmen take over. Ouellette gets scoop slammed onto Riggs. Carl picks up a head of steam, bouncing off the ropes repeatedly, before hitting a hard clothesline. A double hotshot is all Bagwell can stand, and he hits the ring to get in a couple of free shots. Riggs manages the hot tag, who cleans house with slams on everyone! A backdrop levels Ouellette, and both guys are given the noggin’ knocker. Riggs dropkicks Rougeau, which sends him forward to headbutt an unsuspecting Bagwell, and Ouellette rolls Jacques on top for the pin at 5:24. **1/2
Good news, after the nWo vandalized WCWwrestling.com, they’ve managed to regain control, and … oh my god, this could NOT be more mid-90’s. It’s only missing the dancing baby, the flying toaster, a green hit counter, and a guestbook.
HUGH MORRUS vs. LEX LUGER
Luger gets a heroes’ welcome to the arena, and for all the heat the nWo has sucked out of WCW’s side, Lex Luger has been turned into the hottest babyface act this company has seen since … what, late 1993 Ric Flair? Incredible, considering 6 months ago he was a slimy conniving dirtbag trying to convince Sting he had his best interests at heart, while making enemies of everyone else. Before we start…
ARN ANDERSON chips in, reminding Luger he’s coming for him in Baltimore. They might want to think about televising this house show.
Luger starts working over Morrus, while the fans scream “WE WANT STING” in unison, without taking away their love of Luger. Luger hiptosses Morrus with far too much ease, and runs him over with a clothesline. Morrus comes back with a poke to the eye, and runs Luger into the guardrail. Avalanche drops Lex, and Morrus kicks him in the gut. Are we seeing an upset here? Is Hugh Morrus the answer to the nWo? Have we been overlooking the savior this entire time? A huge karate chop to the throat emphasises Morrus’ desire to be the man, and he’s grinning ear to ear. The fans try to rally Luger, but Morrus heads up for a big splash … no, he misses! Luger immediately puts him in the Rack, and wins at 4:22. The heat was off the charts great here. **
“MEAN” GENE OKERLUND hits the ring to talk to our winner. Gene is amazed that week after week Luger’s been winning. Other than submitting at Fall Brawl, I can’t remember the last time Luger lost a match, honestly. As they praise him, STING enters from the crowd, and you can feel the tension immediately. Luger tries talking to Sting, who just stares a hole through his soul. He points a red baseball bat at Luger, and shoves him to the corner, before handing him the bat … and walking away. Gene tries to keep the interview going, but Luger has no interest, and walks off, bat in hand.
Hour #2 kicks off, and taking over announce duties are ERIC BISCHOFF and “SOBER” BOBBY HEENAN. It’s gonna be hawt, sez Bischoff!
JOHNNY GRUNGE vs. CHRIS JERICHO
Bischoff tells us he’s worked a deal with New Japan to send Jericho overseas in the near future. Will he still be in America when he’s scheduled to fight Nick Patrick? The fans start to boo right away, and focus on the entrance way, because NICK PATRICK, wearing his neckbrace and wearing all black, is scouting Jericho. Jericho slams Grunge’s face to the buckle, but misses a moonsault off the top and gets run over with a clothesline. A sunset flip is blocked with Grunge falling forward, and he gets 2. Jericho comes back and sends Grunge to the apron, followed by a springboard dropkick to shoot him to the floor. Grunge grabs a chair, but Jericho baseball slides through his legs and trips Grunge who falls chin first against the apron. Still, they get back in, and Grunge gives Jericho a hot shot. The chair is set in the middle of the ring, where Jericho is placed following an atomic drop. A clothesline fires Jericho backwards over the chair – and since the referee appears cool with letting weapons go, Grunge goes to grab a table! Jericho is rolled on top of it, Grunge grabs the chair, and goes for a splash through the table with the chair – but Jericho rolls away! A quick missile dropkick finishes things at 5:22. That probably should have been thrown out at least 5 different times. No way Nick Patrick lets all those weapons go, he’s a man who believes in the rule book. *1/2
Jericho stays behind on the ramp to talk to “MEAN” GENE OKERLUND. TEDDY LONG joins them, and wants to tell Jericho that the one-armed match with Patrick might be too much. He apologizes for getting Jericho tied up in this mess, but Jericho reminds Teddy he’s an intelligent man with a great mind for the business. He says the one-armed match was a favor, because it’s the only way he’s going to be able to get revenge against a coward. This would be brilliant if it was a plot by Teddy Long to catch Jericho in a trap, and put him in the hospital, because he’s clearly stolen Jim Powers’ rightful spot in the mid-card.
HOLLYWOOD HOGAN, TED DIBIASE, ELIZABETH and VINCENT come strutting down to the announce booth, causing Heenan to disappear immediately. Hogan demands Bischoff anoint him as a bigger icon than Roddy Piper. Bischoff agrees, in order to avoid getting beat up. Hogan takes it further, ordering Bischoff to call Piper a coward. Bischoff says not everyone would agree with that, but because that’s what Hogan wants to hear, he agrees. Hogan goes further, by insisting Bischoff tell the world he’s 100 times richer than Roddy Piper, and if they stood on each other’s collective bankrolls, he would tower above Hot Rod. Bischoff agrees once more, and begs him to leave. Hogan allows him to carry on, now that everyone knows the nWo is running the show. Bischoff apologizes to everyone at home.
DIAMOND DALLAS PAGE comes out before the nWo leaves, to talk to “MEAN” GENE OKERLUND. Page says ever since Hall and Nash came back to WCW, that DDP was nowhere to be found while they wreaked havoc. That draws in the OUTSIDERS, SYXX, and THE GIANT. Hall asks Page if he’s received his wake up call yet? DDP says he really didn’t appreciate the Bischoff slag. Giant insists they punk DDP out like all of Hogan’s friends, but Nash and Hall hold him back. Nash promises something beautiful for later tonight, while Page re-affirms his loyalty to himself with a self-high-five. I want to know what happened outside with the Faces of Fear quite frankly, a missed opportunity from the usually sharp Gene Mean.
BOBBY EATON vs. JEFF JARRETT
I guess the Great Giant Killing Tour of 1996 is over, unless of course Eaton plans on wrestling this one on stilts. Heenan asks Bischoff why he keeps allowing the nWo in the building? Bischoff reminds him there’s been stipulations he needs to adhere to. MIKE TENAY joins the booth, but with neither guy under a hood, I’m not sure why. Jarrett takes Eaton to the floor, dropping him throat first across the guardrail. Back in, he gives Eaton the leg straddle across the ropes, and delivers a suplex. The Figure Four is applied, as RIC FLAIR in an ugly Christmas sweater shows up on the ramp. Eaton taps at 2:19. DUD
“MEAN” GENE OKERLUND wants to talk to Flair and Jarrett, but fails to ask why Flair has been shopping for clothes in the discount bin of TJ Maxx. Jarrett reminds everyone that WCW needs to unite, and is happy that Ric Flair has been able to do just that. Gene remembers that Sting hit him with the Scorpion Death Drop a week earlier, but Jarrett refuses to talk about the dissention from “the clown”. He wants to focus on The Giant. Flair endorses Jarrett as “good to go!”, and gives him his spot in the Four Horsemen as he recovers. STING watches all of this, intently, from the rafters.
BIG BUBBER (with Jimmy Hart) vs. JIM POWERS
No Teddy Long, and no Nick Patrick – it’s a new day for Juiced-Up Jim! Bubba misses a blind charge, and gets caught in a series of arm wringers. Tenay wants to know what the latest on Roddy Piper is, but Bischoff says there’s nothing to talk about because Piper isn’t there. He hasn’t been able to get a hold of any of Piper’s management, and any discussion of his arrival was just Internet rumors. Bubba locks Powers in a headlock for no less than 3 hours. Upon its release, Powers drives Bubba’s head to the buckle 10 times, and he’s staggering. Punch to the gut sets up a high knee, but Bubba fires right back with the Bossman Slam for the win at 3:57. 1/2*
CHRIS BENOIT (with Woman) vs. EDDIE GUERRERO
This is a make up for the post Havoc show, where both guys were beat up and unable to wrestle effectively. Eddie hits a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker, and chops Benoit in the ropes. Benoit tries to come back with a monkey flip, but Eddie lands on his feet, so Benoit hiptosses him and locks on the Crossface. Eddie makes the ropes. A European uppercut rocks Benoit, and follows with a slingshot senton for 2. Benoit throws Eddie into the buckle, and nails a backdrop suplex before slapping Eddie around. A hammerlock overhead belly to belly does more damage to Eddie’s already bad shoulder, and Benoit holds on to keep stretching the arm. He moves into an inverted surfboard, but Eddie won’t tap, so Benoit drops an elbow on his head. An abdominal stretch is applied, released, and Benoit goes for a powerbomb. However, Eddie rolls right over the shoulders, and catches a sunset flip for 2! With a short advantage, he thumbs Benoit in the eye, but Chris just smacks him with a forearm smash. Bischoff calls for a break about 4 different times, and is finally appeased.
Back from break, Eddie snaps off a rana, but Benoit pops up and throws Eddie in the air with a belly flop. A forward suplex leaves Eddie hanging over the top rope, and they fight to the top. Benoit wins that too, with a superplex, and both guys are hurt. Benoit tries for another powerbomb, but it fails again as Eddie turns it into a rana and they both crash to the floor. A slugfest emerges with Eddie getting the better of it – so Woman throws herself in the way to stop him. Eddie has enough class not to hit a woman, and Benoit uses that to attack some more. Back in, Eddie hits a side suplex, and heads up for the Froggie Splash! He changes his mind for a senton, but Benoit moves, and Eddie rolls through. He’s up first, hits a rana, but Benoit keeps rolling and scores the win at 9:24!! That was much more of what I’d expect from these two, good stuff as always. ***1/2
Main event time, and we get … ERIC BISCHOFF? He thanks everyone for coming out, and apologizes again for being forced to kiss Hogan’s ass earlier. He vows to keep doing whatever it takes to sign Roddy Piper to fight Hogan, but he hasn’t been able to get past his attorneys and manager to get a hold of him. However, a familiar set of bagpipes fires up, and out walks RODDY PIPER in the flesh, and he does NOT look happy. He stares a hole right through Bischoff the entire way to the ring, before cracking a sly smile and grabbing a microphone. Piper vows to tell the truth tonight, because he hasn’t heard that many lies since he was in his prime. He’s tired of being called a coward, and he points a finger squarely at Eric Bischoff, who’s looking really guilty about something. He shakes Eric’s hand, and gets in his face to make him a little uncomfortable. Piper wants to know if Eric flew first class or coach to Portland? He wants to know if the road is crooked or straight as you approach Piper’s ranch? Bischoff says he can’t remember, which just fires Piper up as suddenly THE GIANT appears and is all over him. SYXX, THE OUTSIDERS, and VINCENT aren’t far behind, and restrain him, for HOLLYWOOD HOGAN and TED DIBIASE. Hogan walks right over to Bischoff and gives him a hug, who starts grinning like a Cheshire cat. Hogan tells us what Piper’s already figured out; that Bischoff works for the nWo. DOUG DILLINGER is with various security guys, and just glares at Bischoff the entire time – beautiful touch. Hogan tells Piper they’ll never have a match, and vows to teach him respect now. Unfortunately, security intervenes, and keeps everyone apart, rescuing Piper (who’s trying to fight off security himself to get a shot at Hogan). Tenay and Bobby break the silence, and are in complete shock, barely able to form their sentences. Tenay calls for the show to end as Hogan backs up the ramp with his new buddy.
Wow. What else can you say? Everything makes sense, but you couldn’t have seen it coming without the benefit of hindsight. It wasn’t DDP getting them in and out of buildings; but Bischoff. It explains his mysterious disappearance the night of August 5th, which he refused to address, because the nWo were additionally not there. It explains why Nick Patrick keeps getting assigned to critical matches, despite being an obvious nWo plant. It explains why the nWo have been able to negotiate unreasonable, almost terrorist like demands, with absolutely no resistance from WCW. It even explains why Bischoff left the announce booth on September 30th, because the nWo was talking business without him present, and he needed to get to the hotel before they did something silly like sign the Nasty Boys to the group.
Everything’s there. But was the powerbomb at the Great American Bash planned? How much of a role did he play in getting Hogan to join? And why on earth would he attack his own company?
It’s a lot to digest in one night. Hopefully the pay-per-view answers a few of those questions.