(It was pointed out to me that I skipped this show and went right to the Nitro the night after. So here we go. Also, this show was dogshit and thus I’m never watching it again, but I’ll probably at the very least rewatch Bash 96 to get a fresh look for the Scott Sez repost.)
The SmarK Retro Rant for WCW Slamboree 96
- Into the home stretch of WCW PPVs now, as we wrap things up with Slamboree '96 (which I didn't order back in the day and have only watched once since then) and then finish off with Road Wild '99 (which I watched live, but was very drunk while doing so). And then that'll be every WCW PPV ever, in the bag. (We are at least now approaching the point when I met my longtime circle of friends in Edmonton in late summer of 1996 and learned about the wondrous creation that was that the black box imported from Mexico, which meant I didn’t have to order PPVs anymore.)
- Live from Baton Rouge, LA
- Your hosts are Tony, Bobby & Dusty.
- This of course is the last, and worst, iteration of Dusty Rhodes' original "Battlebowl" idea, with "random" drawings forcing people to team up, with winners advancing until there's 8 people left for a battle royale to crown the "Lord of the Ring". (Now, at the point I was writing this, would Lord of the Rings jokes have been a hilarious and topical thing? Because I’m surprised I didn’t go for the low-hanging fruit in some form if so.)
- Opening match: Road Warrior Animal & Booker T v. Road Warrior Hawk & Lex Luger.
Let's see if Booker can carry three guys at once. (Spoiler: Fuck no.) Oddly enough, Hawk & Animal have different variants on the same "Iron Man" ripoff. (So apparently when they did the graphics on Nitro a few weeks before this where they were the “Roadwarriors” as all one word, it might have been some weird legal dodge because WWF ended up with the rights to the Road Warriors name after their initial stint there. If so, that’s would be all kinds of fucked up.) Luger was in full babyface mode at this point, in preparation for the impending nWo invasion. (More specifically, Giant chokeslammed him through a table on Nitro leading up to this, which was the babyface turn once and for all.) Animal starts with Luger and they do the dramatic lockup in the corner, before Luger stomps away. Powerslam, but he doesn't cover. Animal works him over in the other corner, and gets his own powerslam. Luger gets a suplex, which is no-sold, and Booker comes in to work on Luger's arm. Charge hits boot, and Luger gets a clothesline out of the corner to take over again. Okay, we've obviously mastered the punching and kicking, let's move into the 20th century now. Booker misses an elbow but recovers with a Spinarooni and sidekicks Luger. That gets two. It's funny - WCW marketed Booker as a viable contender while ignoring the marketing possibilities of the Spinarooni, while the WWE markets his catchphrases while ignoring the viability of him as a contender. That pretty much sums up their differences in a nutshell. (Guess this was written pre-2003.) Axe kick gets two. Partners Hawk & Luger get into a fight, which leads to a pier-six brawl, and Luger runs away from the fight. It's a double-countout at 6:55, which eliminates both teams from the tournament. That is so incredibly stupid that it can only have come from WCW. Horrible match, filled with bad wrestling. DUD
- The Public Enemy v. Kevin Sullivan & Chris Benoit.
This match really stretches the bounds of credibility as far as random drawings go. (This whole show really stretches the bounds of credibility as far as “wrestling PPV” goes.) I mean, at least back in the early 90s the teams were suitably bizarre and thus seemed random. Benoit starts with Rocco Rock and gets pounded, and Rock hits him with a headscissors. That turns into a shoving match and stalling follows. Rocco gets a rana as Dusty and Bobby have a funny discussion about what would happen if they were partners. A second rana is reversed into a powerbomb by Benoit. He pounds away and brings Sullivan in, which turns the match into a brawl. That's smart, because 3 out of the 4 guys aren't good for much else. Sullivan pounds on Rocco with a chair, but gets put on a table. Benoit cuts off a dive by Rocco with a clothesline, but gets suplexed out of the ring. Sullivan and Johnny Grunge keep fighting on the floor, but Sullivan and Benoit both end up on the table, and the Public Enemy dive onto it, putting Benoit through when Kevin moves. Back in, Rocco gets the pin on Benoit at 4:44. This could have been SO much more if they had booked it like one of the crazy brawls both teams were known for. 1/2* (OK, I confess to being really confused as this point. Benoit and Sullivan didn’t interact at ALL on Nitro around this time, but by Bash 96 they’re engaging in a giant blood feud? When did Sullivan transition from Pillman to Benoit as far as the feud went and where did that happen?)
- Sgt. Craig Pittman & Scott Steiner v. Rick Steiner & The Booty Man.
I've had nightmares involving these four guys wrestling each other. I mean, seriously, Rick Steiner and BRUTUS BEEFCAKE? Is that someone's idea of a sick joke? (That’s Hulk’s idea of DRAWING MONEY, brother.) Kimberly is playing Brutus' "booty babe" as a result of DDP jobbing to him at Uncensored. So there's at least one (or two) things to watch here. (I was referring to her boobies.) Pittman and Booty start, and do a ridiculously bad mat- wrestling sequence. Pittman headbutts him low to end that charade, and Scott Steiner, who was not yet the Big Bad Booty Daddy and thus couldn't really be confused with The Booty Man at that point, comes in with a butterfly powerbomb for two. For some reason he tags Pittman back in, as Booty tags out to Rick. Pittman pounds on Rick, who cheerfully no-sells everything and powerslams him. Pittman gets a german suplex, but Rick comes back with a Steinerline and Pittman decides that cowardice is the better part of valor and tags out to Scott. This actually gets the crowd going, and Scott takes Rick down with a fireman's carry. Rick responds with a side headlock, but Scott goes behind to control on the mat. They do some mat-wrestling, and Scott gets a side suplex, but Rick gets a Steinerline. Scott suckers Rick into checking on him, and cradles for two. Scott gets a full-nelson, but Rick reverses to a german suplex and goes up. Scott follows and superplexes him, but Rick tags out to Booty to end the awesome. So we get Booty v. Pittman again and Pittman works on the arm, into the cross- armlock. Booty tags Steiner to escape the hold (which isn't actually legal), and Rick suplexes Pittman for the pin at 8:21. Oh man, that stuff with the Steiners fighting in the middle was shaping up to be one of the best matches of the year given some time and a proper match. The rest was junk, so it evened out. **3/4 I briefly considered giving it another 1/4* in celebration of Kimberly leaving her bra in the dressing room, but then we've already seen her naked anyway.
- Lord Steven Regal & Squire Dave Taylor v. Hacksaw Duggan & VK Wallstreet.
Amazingly, it's another combination of archenemies facing regular tag team partners. Oddly enough, Mike Rotundo was playing a Wallstreet spoof of Vince McMahon 4 years before the WWF went public. (And now he and his sons all work for Vince. Life is funny.) Duggan and Regal start and we get a posedown-slash-stallfest. I'll leave it as an exercise to the reader to guess who does what. Regal gets a cheapshot, but Duggan hiptosses him. Clotheslines send Regal running to the corner, and tags abound. Taylor and Regal work over Wallstreet's arm, but he fights back with forearms. Duggan and Wallstreet can't get the teamwork going, however, and Regal takes advantage with a beatdown on Duggan in the corner. Duggan & Regal collide, but Wallstreet won't take the tag. Duggan makes his own comeback, including nailing his own partner, and uses the ATHLETIC TAPE OF DOOM on Taylor for the pin at 3:49. Short and bad. (Just like both of Rotundo’s kids, AM I RIGHT?) 1/4*
- Dirty Dick Slater & Earl Robert Eaton v. Alex Wright & Disco Inferno.
Disco ducks away from Slater to start, in order to save the hair. Dancing follows. Slater chops away, prompting Disco to tag out. Eaton slugs away on Wright, but he fires back and gets a hiptoss and bad headscissors. Leg lariat gets two. Slater comes in with a neckbreaker, but Wright escapes a piledriver and Disco cleans house. Was that supposed to be the hot tag? It's breaking loose in Tulsa and Wright dumps Eaton, but Slater nails Disco with his boot and gets the pin at 2:56. Yeah, okay. DUD (Disco was really a non-entity on Nitro at this point, as the last I’ve seen of him was getting squashed by the Booty Man. It really wasn’t until the two and three hour versions of the show that guys like him started getting any kind of TV time.)
- DDP & Barbarian v. Meng & Hugh Morrus. This show gets better and better. Speaking of Hugh, I was watching bits and pieces of Confidential, and listening to him yelling at kids about how they'll never make it in the WWE was kinda surreal. I mean, this is HUGH FREAKIN MORRUS telling someone that THEY don't have what it takes to make it. (Huh. Now there’s an oddly coincidental comment on my part.) All they need now is HHH to come out and tell the kids that they don't know how to work. (They do have that, it’s called NXT. That’s what he’s been telling Hideo Itami, in fact.) DDP grabs a headlock on Morrus to start, but gets dumped. Hugh follows with a pescado and misses by a mile. Back in, Page gets a lariat for two and brings the Barbarian in. This leads to the showdown of the Faces of Fear, as Meng starts pounding with chops. Barbarian overpowers him in turn and elbows away, but neither guy sells anything. Barbarian finally gets a back kick to drop Meng, and he presses Page onto him. Meng comes back with a headbutt and Morrus comes in and goes up right away. Flying elbow gets one. He changes his mind and goes up again, but DDP crotches him and Barbarian gets a belly-to-belly superplex for two. That looked pretty bad. Meng comes back in for some double-teaming and Morrus heads up for the moonsault, which gets two. It's BONZO GONZO and DDP eats a superkick from Meng while Barbarian hits Morrus with the KICK OF FEAR, and since DDP is in the ropes, Barbarian's pin counts and they win at 5:16. Who booked this shit? (Kevin Sullivan.) They tried, but the universal suck force bound them together too tightly. 1/2*
- Big Bubba & Stevie Ray v. Scott Norton & Ice Train.
Kill me now. It's like someone wanted to book Fire & Ice v. Harlem Heat, but decided to replace Booker T to ensure the worst match humanly possible. Why? Who would be cruel and inhuman enough to book such a match? (Kevin Sullivan.) Norton pounds on Stevie, but charges and hits boot. Stevie clotheslines him and brings Bubba in, as Norton does an astounding amount of selling for an astoundingly bad run of offense. Spinebuster gets two. Norton gives Bubba the worst faceplant ever seen on TV, and Juice Train gets a buttsplash for two. Clothesline and both guys are out, as even Tony is riffing on the excessive number of clotheslines in the match. When TONY SCHIAVONE thinks you're lame, you've got trouble. Norton comes back in and hammers on Stevie, but Bubba collides with his own partner and Norton pins him at 3:28. And thank god it's over. DUD
- Eddy Guerrero & Arn Anderson v. Ric Flair & Randy Savage.
If there's any justice they'll give this a decent amount of time. Arn attacks Savage while waiting for Flair to make his entrance, and Flair adds some punishment on his own partner until Eddy (still a babyface) makes the save. Flair chops away, but Eddy wants to bring it! Liz & Nancy quietly make their way to ringside. Eddy backdrops Flair and dropkicks him a couple of times, but Flair goes to the eye, and then nails Savage for fun. I guess that was a tag. Arn comes in and beats on Savage, with Flair's blessing, but Macho fights back. Arn keeps pounding in the corner, but eats boot. He gets the spinebuster for two, however. Flair tags back in, beats on his own partner some more, but Eddy pokes him in the eye and chops away. This is wild. Another dropkick sets up a tornado DDT, and Savage comes in and goes after Flair again, while Arn turns on his own partner and DDTs him. Flair gets the pin on Eddy at 4:05. Oh man, that match was amazingly fun stuff and it's tragic that they cut it off at 4 minutes. ** Liz and the Horsemen give Savage some more abuse on the floor afterwards.
- We review the winners and set up the next round of matches (determined by another "random" drawing, with one team getting a bye due to the double countout. Mean Gene and some Hooters girl select a team at random for the bye - Fire & Ice. The rest of the matches are drawn from there.
- WCW Cruiserweight title: Dean Malenko v. Brad Armstrong.
Tony talking about the "lengthy double-elimination tournament" for the belt (in reality: One match between Shinjiro Ohtani and Chris Benoit) is slightly bizarre given that even in 1996 it was easy to look this stuff up on the 'net. Also Dean is apparently a youngster. (In all fairness he looks exactly the same today.) They do some mat-wrestling to start and Brad gets an enzuigiri. They fight over a hiptoss and neither gets it, but Brad armdrags him and Dean bails. Back in, Dean dropkicks the knee and wraps it around the post, going to work on it. He uses an Indian deathlock and gets a backdrop suplex. Brad reverses a fireman's carry into a sunset flip for two, but Dean goes back to the knee and keeps him down. Stump- puller (now there's a move you don't see everyday) and Dean goes back to the knee. He grabs a kneebar, but Brad makes the ropes. Pump splash hits foot, and Brad makes the comeback. Charge hits boot, but he gets a powerslam and goes up for a missile dropkick. He puts Malenko into a Texas Cloverleaf, but Dean makes the ropes. Brad gets dumped, but goes up again until he gets caught by Dean and hit with an Atomic Gutbuster for the pin at 8:25. Crowd didn't care about any of this, and you can thank Rey Mysterio Jr. for completely salvaging this division from the scrap heap. Match didn't really work, either. ** (And then Brad was on Nitro the next night doing a meaningless job to DDP anyway.)
- Dick Slater & Robert Eaton v. Hacksaw Duggan & VK Wallstreet.
(Yes, two of these people are going to the FINALS.) Slater hammers on Wallstreet to start while Duggan takes Eaton. Duggan and Wallstreet want to go, but Duggan calls for peace...and Wallstreet turns on him and dumps him. Slater gets a legsweep on VK for two. Elbow and the Slater-Eaton team work him over in the corner, but he comes back on Eaton. Eaton bails and Duggan beats on him outside, and back in Wallstreet gets the abdominal stretch, but Duggan refuses to help out by grabbing his hand. What a wuss. Duggan tags himself back in and pounds everything that moves, and gets two on Slater. We hit the chinlock. Slater & Duggan collide and tags abound. Duggan & Wallstreet disagree and Eaton rolls up Wallstreet for the pin at 4:04. Well, at least it was short. 1/2*
- The Public Enemy v. Ric Flair & Randy Savage.
Liz throws out Savage's alimony money into the crowd, so Randy charges out and attacks Flair during his entrance. Security pulls them apart to prevent anything interesting from happening, and TPE wins by forfeit. GIMME A BREAK.
- DDP & Barbarian v. Rick Steiner & The Booty Man.
I can't imagine this show getting much worse, so there's always that on the bright side. Just call me Positively Netcop. (Well don’t really call me Netcop because I don’t wanna get sued.) We're really rushing through now, so this should be short and painless. DDP pounds on Booty to start, but gets dumped. Tony actually stops to give a logical explanation for DDP's reinstatement following his retirement match: Since Johnny B Badd left the promotion and thus the match with Booty Man wasn't for the TV title, DDP was under no obligation to put anything up, either. Okay then. Steiner comes in and pounds Page, but gets dropped on the top rope. Barbarian uses the power of the foot on Rick, but gets caught with a backdrop suplex. Sloppy belly-to-belly gets two, but Barbarian no-sells and powerbombs Rick, for two. Booty accidentally ties up the referee's attention, allowing the heels to work Steiner over in the corner. Barbarian gets a clothesline, but Rick hotshots him and makes the "hot" tag to Booty Man. High Knee of Death gets two. Rollup is broken up by Page, and Barbarian GETS THE PIN at 5:05?!? From an ELBOW? Geez, is Brutus suffering from that brittle bone disease like Mr. Glass or something? (Cocaine is a hell of a drug.) DUD
- US title match: Konnan v. Jushin Liger.
Liger is sporting the EVIL BLACK TIGHTS tonight, but the pink boots sort of ruin the effect. Konnan only has one "N" in his name at this point. Konnan takes him down with a reverse bow-and-arrow to start, but Liger escapes. They do the wristlock reversal spot and lots of RVD-ish flipping results. Liger gets a senton and Konnan bails, which allows Liger to follow with a pescado. Back in, brainbuster gets two. Liger goes into a cross-armlock, but Konnan reverses to a Regal Stretch. Liger goes to a half-crab while the crowd snoozes. They exchange palm strikes and Liger gets the Koppo kick, and they head up. Liger gets a superplex and goes back up with a flying splash that gets two. Dropkick puts Konnan out, and Liger follows with a plancha, but Konnan catches him with a kick on the way down. Back in, Liger gets a fisherman's buster for two. Konnan gets a whiplash slam for two. Liger reverses a powerbomb into a sunset flip for two. Cradle gets two. Ligerbomb gets two. Liger goes up and lands on Konnan's foot, which sets up Splash Mountain for the pin at 9:30. Crowd was getting into it by the end. ***
- Flair and Arn Anderson are doing an interview, but Steve MacMichael interrupts and challenges them to a match for the next PPV. Kevin Greene comes out as Mongo's partner.
- Battlebowl finals:
Scott Norton, Ice Train, Dick Slater, Robert Eaton, DDP, Barbarian, Rocco Rock and Johnny Grunge. This is just a plain old battle royale, with the winner getting a title shot at the Giant. Let me repeat that: The winner of THIS match, with THESE guys, was supposed to get a shot at the champion on PPV. This is why WCW was in so much trouble before the nWo. Usual kick and punch stuff with absolutely no storyline to the match. Page gets booted out by Barbarian, clearly eliminated, but the ref misses it (even though the camera shows it all). Gotta love WCW. More kicking and punching as guys randomly switch dance partners with no rhyme or reason. They should have done a Survivor Series elimination match or something to settle this. Rocco charges Barbarian and gets backdropped out. Slater hits Eaton with his boot and eliminates him. Slater follows him out via unseen elimination, and brawls with Eaton back to the dressing room. DDP dumps Norton, leaving four men. Ice Train powerslams everyone and forms an alliance with Barbarian, then turns on him. DDP Diamond Cuts everyone, and pins Grunge, and Train. Um, WHAT? Barbarian kicks out, however. This is retarded. What is this, the AWA World title battle royale? Where's Tom Zenk? (Good question. Did we ever figure out what the hell happened to Zenk that caused him to disappear off the face of the earth? Jail?) Barbarian clotheslines Page for two. He charges and Page gets two in the corner. Page charges and Barbarian gets two. Tombstone piledriver (which looked like it nearly killed DDP) gets two. That was almost an OwenDriver. Sleeper is stopped by DDP going low, but Barbarian gets a powerbomb for two. Barbarian goes up, but misses the flying headbutt, and the Diamond Cutter ends it at 9:36. And the crowd goes apathetic. ** DDP didn't get his promised title match until more than two years following, at Halloween Havoc '98, and even then he had to win WarGames to earn that.
- WCW World title: The Giant v. Sting.
We've got like 10 minutes of airtime left here, so this should be quick. Those who give me that garbage about Big Show not being able to move faster and be thinner than he is now should watch his stuff from 1996, when he still sucked, but sucked in such a way that you could at least watch his matches without being embarrassed by it. This would be the point when Sting started growing his hair out, for whoever asked me a couple of weeks ago. Sting tries a bodyblock to start, but bounces off harmlessly. He keeps hammering on Giant and tries a sleeper, but gets shoved down. Seriously, Giant is MAYBE 400 pounds here. Maybe. If he got down to that size again and stayed there, I'd have no problem with him in the main events. (Keep in mind this was written something like 14 years ago, and now Show is still stinking up main events.) Sting keeps bouncing off Giant, and bails. Back in, Sting tries an enzuigiri, but that gets no-sold. Giant charges and Sting tries a slam, but Giant falls on him for two. Giant elbow and he simply walks on him to set up another elbow. Back elbow puts Sting down again and Giant works him over in the corner. Headbutt low and Giant chokes away. Another elbow and we head to a bodyscissors. That's a pretty smart move, actually. Giant uses the ropes for good measure. That goes on for a while. Giant tosses him and sends him hurling down the aisle, but Luger prevents a chokeslam through the table by holding Jimmy Hart on the table. A REAL man would sacrifice his manager for the greater good. You think Ric Flair would have blinked twice before throwing JJ Dillon out there as a diversion? Giant misses a dropkick and the ref is bumped by mistake, as Sting makes the comeback and gets the Stinger Splash. He keeps hitting them, and Giant keeps not selling them. Giant finally goes down as Luger has Jimmy Hart tied up, but there's no ref. Sting makes the fatal error of going after Hart with another splash, misses, and then recovers with a flying splash for two. Ref is bumped again on the kickout, so Sting hits him with another splash and gets the Scorpion Deathlock. Luger "accidentally" hits Sting with the megaphone, chokeslam, goodbye at 10:40. Surprisingly good, given that they kept it around 10 minutes to compensate for Giant's weaknesses. *** (And then there was no followup on that megaphone deal the next night. Because WCW.)
The Bottom Line:
Well, when the nicest things I can muster up about a show are that some of the matches are "surprisingly good" and "entertaining despite all the other crap" and "they tried hard but still sucked", you know there's not going to be much worth watching here. Not the worst show ever, but one of the weirdest in terms of booking, and certainly not one that you'd wanna watch more than once.
Strong recommendation to avoid.