Date: November 21, 1999
Location: Air Canada Center, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Commentators: Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan
Date: November 21, 1999
Location: Air Canada Center, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Commentators: Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan
Reviewed by Tommy Hall
It's tournament time with the final four participants in the World Title tournament squaring off to find out who Russo has decided should be his first World Heavyweight Champion. Other than that, we have a bunch of stupid gimmick matches for stories that make next to no sense and are likely there to make fun of the WWF and expose the business as much as possible. Let's get to it.
We open with a recap of the tournament, which for some reason had 32 people involved (or however many it was when you take out all of the Madusas) and we hear about how the final four got here. Just so you know what's going on, they recap EVERY SINGLE MATCH before they get to the important ones. Two and a half minutes into the recap, we know the final four names.
Opening video. Wait that wasn't what we just watched?
The announcers, with Tony in a snazzy suit, preview the show and try to talk over the WE WANT FLAIR chants. I think this is the first time we hear the card in full.
WCW World Title Tournamet Semi-Finals: Jeff Jarrett vs. Chris Benoit
Guess who the fans are behind here. Jeff tries to jump Benoit from the bell but gets chopped into the corner for a tornado DDT for two. A top rope superplex gets two for Benoit less than two minutes in as he's coming out swinging here. He misses a baseball slide but wins a quick chop off on the floor. That earns him a crotching against the post as the American takes over.
Back in and Jeff gets two off a powerslam (that's a rare one for him) and almost drops him in a vertical suplex. There's the sleeper as you can see fans posing to see themselves on the big screen. Normally I would say watch what you paid for, but I'd be stunned if a good chunk of that arena wasn't papered. Benoit reverses into a sleeper of his own but Jeff belly to backs his way to freedom. Something like an Irish Curse (I won't bother saying “Canadian Curse?” as it's WAY too easy of a joke) sets up the Rolling Germans for two on Jeff and here are Creative Control to prevent a good match from breaking out.
Jarrett hot shots him to the floor but Benoit comes back in and rolls through a high cross body for two. A belly to back sets up the Swan Dive but Creative Control breaks it up and lays out Benoit, allowing Jarrett to hit the Stroke. Cue Dustin Rhodes to fight Creative Control as Benoit kicks out at two. The guitar is brought in but Benoit takes it away and blasts Jeff (totally against his character of course) to go to the finals.
Rating: B-. Dang it they almost had me there for a second. I almost thought we were going to get a good match from beginning to end between two talented guys who can work whatever kind of match you ask. But alas, it took three run-ins and a weapon to make this REALLY interesting. It was nice while it lasted though.
Benoit gets beaten down post match and the fans think Jarrett, who isn't even involved in the show at this point but he used to be in the WWF and therefore matters, sucks.
Disco Inferno insists he cares about the title but is curious how much the gold is worth. He's bet $25,000 on himself tonight because there's NO WAY he could lose to Karagias. Jarrett and Creative Control lays him out due to frustration.
Cruiserweight Title: Evan Karagias vs. Disco Inferno
Disco is defending but is also running from gambling bosses who want the money he owes them. The banged up champion has Tony Marinara in his corner but Evan jumps Disco in the aisle, but the referee starts the match anyway. The bell rings and they get inside with Evan getting two off a clothesline. Marinara joins commentary to ask why Heenan is called the Brain. Heenan goes to answer but fugitaboutit. He's Italian you see. Disco fights back but Evan does some leapfrogs into a dropkick for two. Feel the workrate baby!
A springboard twisting cross body gets two on the champ as the fans have died quite a bit since the opener. Imagine that. The announcers discuss what Schiavone is paid before talking about haircuts. Madusa offers a distraction and we get an awkward, mostly messed up sequence into a rollup from Evan for two. A nice Russian legsweep plants Karagias and the dancing elbow (complete with a kiss to Madusa) gets the same.
Disco throws him to the floor, unfortunately causing Madusa to walk towards the camera. Back in and Evan's splash hits knees as the fans are REALLY not impressed. With Evan down, Disco goes outside to hit on Madusa. That goes as well as you would expect so Marinara gets leaves the booth to try his hand with Madusa. Evan goes after Tony, who gets chaired in the head by Disco. Tony: “What else can go wrong?” Oh you don't want to ask that Schiavone. Evan hits a high cross body for the pin and the title, plus $25,000. That makes no sense but whatever.
Rating: D+. Here's the problem: these matches aren't cruiserweight style matches. They're matches that happen to have cruiserweights involved. Evan wrestles a cruiserweight style but he's just not very good at it. The gambling story is interesting but as usual there's too much going on in the same match to keep track of it. It didn't help that Marinara's HORRIBLE Italian stereotype made the commentary even more horrible.
Bret Hart arrives half an hour into the show.
Russo tells a bloody Jarrett to prove himself by the end of the show or his favors are over.
Norman Smiley is scared of construction workers but is ready for the Hardcore Title match. Well he's in luck then.
Hardcore Title: Norman Smiley vs. Brian Knobbs
The title is vacant coming in and I believe this is for the inaugural championship. I've seen this billed as a tournament final but I don't remember anything but Knobbs getting to face the winner of a match. Norman comes out in Maple Leafs gear to keep the fans behind him. Brian hammers him down with whatever weapons he could find to start but misses a middle rope trashcan shot. Some hockey sticks onto the trashcan onto Knobbs has Brian in trouble but he breaks up the HARDCORE WIGGLE. That's like the Big Wiggle, but HARDCORE. What's HARDCORE about it isn't clear but it's 1999 so you have to say HARDCORE in a loud voice.
Knobbs finally has a good idea and takes off some of Norman's pads, only to get nailed in the head with a trashcan lid. Norman goes after Jimmy Hart though, allowing Brian to knocks Smiley into the cart full of weapons. They stagger backstage and just happen to run into a waiting camera crew.
Knobbs sends him through a table and breaks a crutch over Norman's back. They fight by the hamburger buns and Knobbs' face is RED. Jimmy throws cans of soup at Norman and this is finally getting to be kind of entertaining. They fight into an elevator and the doors close.....but unfortunately open again with Jimmy hitting Brian with a trashcan by mistake to give Norman the pin and the loudest pop of his career.
Rating: C-. See, the way to make the hardcore matches entertaining is to take them out of the ringside area. These things are so much better when they get creative with them instead of just doing the same weapons spots over and over again. I mean, would you want to try to make something out of Brian Knobbs without mixing things up a bit?
Knobbs beats Norman up post match.
We recap the Revolution vs. the Filthy Animals, which is built around kidnapping Torrie Wilson. This story made little secret about it being a way to showcase Torrie, which was one of the best ideas they could have had here.
The Revolution wants to see Torrie get stuck alone without help.
The Animals speak whatever language they use. In a genuinely funny moment, Gene stares at Konnan, so Konnan asks if it's the hat or the belt this time. Gene in a deadpan voice: “Hat.” Torrie is going to use the Revolution as toothpicks or something.
Marinara is bringing the boys to deal with Disco tomorrow. Disco thinks he's a dead man.
Jarrett has a 2x4 and is going to deal with someone. That would be the fourth promo segment in 90 seconds on a pay per view.
Revolution vs. Filthy Animals
It's Saturn/Malenko/Asya vs. Guerrero/Kidman/Torrie and this is elimination rules. Kidman and Guerrero storm the ring to start fast as Douglas sits in on commentary. That's a very repetitive theme for WCW these days. Eddie backdrops Dean to officially start and the fans chant for Torrie. The guys fall to the floor so Saturn takes both of them out with an Asai Moonsault.
Kidman dives on all of them but a Canadian clown pokes Malenko with a Canadian flag. They treat it like a real fan but you never can tell around here. The girls go at it with Asya getting the better of it but walking into a BK Bomb. Eddie checks on Torrie but shoves Kidman into a rollup for the elimination. After about four seconds of the Revolution's theme music plays, the Revolution guys jump Eddie and the Animals are in trouble. Saturn kicks Eddie in the back from the apron as Konnan leaves as well. Some teammate.
Asya suplexes Eddie for a round of applause, even though she would be an appetizer for Chyna. Off to Dean who gets dropkicked into the corner, setting up a hurricanrana from Eddie for the elimination. Not quite Hostile City Showdown but that might be entertaining. Saturn t-bones Guerrero down as Torrie is on the floor like a manager due to a bad ankle injury. Heel miscommunication (another running theme tonight) sees Saturn superkick Asya, setting up the Frog Splash to make it 2-1.
It's Saturn with a northern lights suplex for two as you can see a “Who booked this crap” sign in the front row. Eddie gets out of a sleeper with a jawbreaker and puts on one of his own, only to get tossed down by a belly to back (not a t-bone Tony). A tornado DDT gets two for Eddie but he walks into the Death Valley Driver for a near fall, sending Douglas into a panic. Saturn misses his great looking top rope elbow but rolls through a high cross body into the Rings of Saturn to make Eddie give up. So it's Saturn vs. Torrie with the girl kicking him low for two. Douglas low blows Torrie with his cast to give Saturn the pin.
Rating: C. This was decent due to the talent in there and Torrie in general but there wasn't much of chance with how fast the eliminations went down. What was the point of the eliminations anyway? Other than having an unnecessary stipulation, I don't know why they needed to put it out there. Couldn't they put Torrie on a pole or something?
Jarrett and Creative Control lays out Bagwell, even though that would be hurting his chances to get rid of Hennig, even though the Powers That Be seem to want to get rid of Bagwell at the same time.
Curt Hennig vs. Buff Bagwell
Loser retires, which makes you wonder why the Powers That Be didn't give Hennig this stipulation from the start. Or why Buff is in this stipulation at all. Creative Control and Jarrett come in to beat down Hennig and the bell rings as the attack begins. Bagwell comes out with the 2x4 to make the save but Hennig decks him anyway because both of their careers are on the line. The fans chant PERFECT as he takes it to the floor and walks Bagwell around ringside.
Hennig gets in a rant that I couldn't understand on the headset before they head back inside. Buff knocks him right back to the floor for an ax handle off the apron. Back inside with Buff in control, which Tony interprets as being all Hennig. Curt takes over a few seconds later with a legdrop between Buff's legs for a smattering of applause. Off to a sleeper (I believe the fifth of the night) before Hennig chokes Buff with Buff's necklace. That goes nowhere so it's right back to the sleeper.
An elbow drop with a biceps flex gets two for Curt but Buff claims gimmick infringement and takes control as a penalty. Heenan tries to say this is the most important match of their careers and you can tell he doesn't believe a word of it. A Blockbuster out of nowhere (seriously, they were just trading punches before it hit) makes Hennig retire. They keep using the term “hang up his boots”, which he'll probably do literally before taking a pair from the Powers and turning heel.
Rating: D-. I have no idea what happened in this story and it was clear that they just gave up trying about three minutes in. I'm still not sure how we got to this match and why the Powers want to get rid of either guy, but the match was horrible most of the way around. Bad stuff and why do I not believe Hennig is really gone?
Hennig gets a standing ovation from the respectful crowd.
Sting says we may be in Canada but it's still Showtime.
To give you an idea of Russo's pace, we're not even halfway through this show and we have seven matches left. For a comparison, Wrestlemania XXX and XXXI had seven matches total.
WCW World Title Tournament Semi-Finals: Sting vs. Bret Hart
Recent DVD releases suggest that Bret is really proud of this one. Sting has already started wrestling in the t-shirt. They shove each other around to start and stare each other in the face before Bret wins a slugout. Tony: “Those have authority!” Something I've always wondered: whose authority is that?
It goes outside with Bret still in control before taking it back inside for the Five Moves of Doom. Sting, having seen ANY Bret match ever, is easily able to break them up. Yes, Sting was actually smart. It's shocking I know but it does happen occasionally. Sting sends him into the buckle but Bret kicks him in the ribs. I guess his horrible knee injury from a few weeks ago is just fine now. A low blow from Sting (who seemed to have turned face again recently) puts Bret down and we hit sleeper number 8 or so tonight.
Back outside for some reason with being sent into the announcers' table. The Stinger Splash hits the table (at least it wasn't the barricade again) to change control and they head back inside. Sting pulls the referee in the way of a top rope forearm because we need to get to the interference. As luck would have it, here are Luger and Liz with the former hitting Sting in the knee with the bat.
Bret isn't cool with that and puts Lex in the Sharpshooter, but that's a DQ win for Hart. He doesn't want it that way though so he goes through the Five Moves, gets kicked in the face, and counters the Scorpion into the Sharpshooter to make Sting tap. Again, Russo has no idea how his characters work.
Rating: D+. That's what he was proud of? It was decent enough but as usual it turned into a brawl instead because neither guy seemed interested in doing a match. They need to pick a side for Sting, but NOT ONE THAT TAPS OUT. Just totally against his character but why should that matter to Russo? I mean, he's just a wrestler. Interesting coincidence here: the two semi-final matches had exactly the same time at 9:27 each.
Sting shakes Bret's hand to turn face again I guess.
Benoit says it would be an honor to beat Hart for the title in Canada.
Luger already has a surgical collar on and doesn't think he can compete tonight against Meng.
Vampiro vs. Berlyn
Dog Collar match just because. You win by pins or submission. In case this isn't enough, Dr. Death and Ferrara as JR come out with the latter doing commentary. Berlyn hits the referee with the collar as Ferrara lists off football stats. The Misfits are sent to the floor as Wall beats up Vampiro. Wall misses a big boot and gets crotched with the chain as Berlyn stomps on Jerry Only outside. That doesn't hurt Wall's bricks though so Vampiro slams him down.
Berlyn comes back in and stomps Vampiro down, only to have Wall put the collar around his own neck. A HUGE chokeslam puts Vampiro down and Wall covers for two. That angers Berlyn but the referee keeps counting anyway. Wall, minus the sunglasses now, throws the collar at Berlyn (Ferrara: “COLLAR! COLLAR! COLLAR!”) and walks away. Vampiro hits a spinwheel kick and throws him down with a release superplex. Now Only gets in for a double suplex, followed by a Vampiro camel clutch with the chain to make Berlyn tap. Vampiro and Berlyn were never attached by the chain.
Rating: F. Next. That's all I've got. Next.
Williams beats up Vampiro and Only, because this whole mess was there so we could have a laugh at JR's expense. It wasn't a funny laugh but it was indeed a laugh.
Rick Steiner has forfeited the TV Title and, news to me, was scheduled to defend against Scott Hall tonight. Therefore Hall is now a double champion and issues an open challenge for both titles tonight.
Kimberly is just getting here.
Meng vs. Total Package
Luger is wrestling in the surgical collar. Meng hammers on him to start and no sells a slam. That takes them to the floor with Meng dominating, but Tony thinks the neck brace is a way to block the Tongan Death Grip. And yes, that is EXACTLY the point of the thing. Back in and Meng tries the Death Grip to no avail. Meng chokes in the corner (should that work either?) and Luger screams for help. Luger: “HELP!” See? He screamed for help.
Luger tries a headbutt to about as much avail as you would expect and Meng runs him over a few more times. A kick to the face gets two and Meng chokes on the ropes, only to pull Luger up so Liz maces Luger by mistake (same deal that started the feud). Meng takes off the brace and puts on the Death Grip to win.
Rating: D-. A month ago Luger went over Bret on pay per view and now he's jobbing to Meng in five minutes. This was a one idea match and it made Meng out to be a one move wrestler. I could have seen this sort of thing on Thunder but instead we get it late in the second hour of a pay per view. Only in Russo World. Also only in Russo World can Liz play Jimmy Hart to Luger's Brian Knobbs and Meng's Norman Smiley as it's basically the exact same ending from an hour ago.
Bret says he's been here for two years and is going to win the title he deserves. Luger can be heard shouting for Liz as he's talking.
David Flair is polishing his crowbar in anticipation of holding Kimberly down against her will or making her scream that she can't take it anymore.
TV Title/US Title: Scott Hall vs. ???
After the survey, with Hall saying Nash is on his way, the open challenge is answered by.....Booker T. Well he does deserve a big spot like this. If nothing else, Booker is the second young guy to get a shot at a main event star tonight. Ignore the commentators' surprise after his music came on for a second and then went back off. Hall is insanely over because this is Canada and if you were over in the WWF, you were over forever. For life you might say.
Hall drives the shoulders in to start but Booker hook kicks him for two and some booing. A forearm puts Hall on the floor and he has to check for loose teeth. Back in and the chokeslam and fall away slam have Booker in trouble and a clothesline puts him on the floor. Hall puts on a sleeper and we've got Jarrett plus Creative Control. Tony makes sure to point out that they're Patrick and Gerald because that's so funny. Booker fights out and kicks both twins down but gets caught in the Outsider's Edge to retain the titles.
Rating: D. It's a shame too as this could have been a good match had they just let these guys fight. In theory this is just Booker getting screwed by the Powers and not Hall being on their side, unless there's some grand scheme to get all the titles on a select group of Russo backed wrestlers. Nah that couldn't happen.
Midnight comes out for the save.
Luger is still trying to find Liz.
We recap David Flair vs. Kimberly. So Kimberly tried to get David to sleep with her for reasons not clear, but she wound up sleeping with Ric instead. That sent David into insanity so she ran him over with a car. He was crazy enough to no sell it and has turned into a B-movie stalker ever since. Note that instead of Ric vs. Page in what could be a decent match, this is the best we can get.
Kimberly vs. David Flair
After running scared of David for weeks, Kimberly comes out in leather pants and a low cut backless top with a smirk on her face (she looks great in other words). David no sells a low blow and shoves the referee down, so Kimberly drops to her knees. You know what the fans are chanting. She unbuckles his pants and takes out the cup he was wearing before getting in some kicks as the fans turn on this mess. David stands up so here are Kanyon and Page (Why was he not with his wife all night???) to lay out Flair. Arn Anderson comes out to save David and gets beaten up by the tire iron. That's the, ahem, match.
Anderson is taken out on a stretcher.
We recap the Goldberg vs. Sid rematch from last month where the match was stopped due to Sid's excessive bleeding. Sid has kind of turned face since then so this should be interesting. Horrible of course but interesting.
Sid says he won't say he quits.
Goldberg vs. Sid Vicious
I Quit match. The fans boo Goldberg to start and then INSTANTLY start chanting his name. That's one fickle group. They start slugging it out before Goldberg even gets in the ring as Heenan says this is like the Super Bowl or the World Series. It heads to the floor immediately and the fans think Goldberg sucks. Back in and Sid's cobra clutch slam gets a nice reaction. He slowly chokes and rips at Goldberg's face and plants him with a pair of chokeslams.
Goldberg pops back up and cranks on the arm before picking him up and clotheslining him down a few times without letting go of the bad arm. The fans boo this out of the building as Goldberg puts on a horrible cobra clutch (Goldberg: “This is it.”) for the win with Sid passing out. Well having Goldberg's hand on your forehead and holding your hand is indeed painful looking.
Rating: F-. This was supposed to be Hart vs. Austin, but that was four times longer than this, had two competent wrestlers, and a ton of emotion. Oh and that whole iconic image thing. Instead, as usual with Russo, they tried to get to the ending without putting in the effort first and it looks like a disaster instead of what they were going for.
Luger says Liz knows she screwed up and he'll find her.
WCW World Title: Bret Hart vs. Chris Benoit
Feeling out process to start until Bret takes him down in an armbar. A headlock puts Bret down for one and they hit a pinfall reversal sequence, capped off by a Crossface attempt to send Bret into the ropes. The fans are WAY into this one as they know one of their heroes is coming out champion.
Benoit gets sent to the floor and the Canadian Clown from earlier jumps the barricade to attack him with the flag. It's Dean Malenko in something else he probably hated doing. Bret chases him off and piledrives Benoit for two. A belly to back gets two on Hart and both guys are already beaten down. The tombstone and Swan Dive get two more as we have Outsiders (late to break up the pin so Bret had to make an awkward kickout).
They nail the referee so Goldberg comes out to deal with them. That earns him a chair to the back but Bret helps fight them off as we're left with Benoit vs. Goldberg in the ring. A new referee comes out as Goldberg fights the Outsiders on the stage. The screen splits to show the three of them fighting in the back while the WORLD TITLE is being decided in the ring. Benoit goes after the leg but the Figure Four sends Bret right to the ropes.
With the knee suddenly fine again, Bret scores with a backbreaker followed by a superplex. Bret starts in on the back and throws Benoit to the floor, where Benoit is pelted with trash. Back in and Chris rolls some Germans but can't get the Crossface. Instead Bret sweeps the legs and puts on the Sharpshooter for the submission and the title.
Rating: B. Well that was.....well it was something. It's the best wrestling match in the Russo Era so far, but that's covering some very shallow ground. The ending being clean helps this a lot and gave it the legitimacy it was needing. However, this brings up the same question that comes up every night: what was the need for the interference? What did those three coming to the ring add to this match in the slightest? They even threw in a split screen to make sure you knew they weren't doing anything important. Bret winning the title is a good thing, though it should have been a year ago at the latest.
Bret's family comes in to celebrate and he hugs Benoit. Tony says this is just another day in Bret's career to end the show.
Overall Rating: D-. The opener and main events carry this as far as they can but the rest drags it down through the floor, the concrete and the upper half of the earth's mantle. Way too much interference and nonsense throughout the show cripples it as the stuff they have ranges from not making sense to being there just to pad out the show in the place of wrestling. It's clear that they have no idea what they're doing on a wrestling show and somehow it's only going to get worse. The wrestlers are trying where they can, but they're fighting a guerrilla war against people that hate what they do and why they're there.
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