I wasn’t the only person completely baffled about a 6-man tag-team match being included on WCW’s VHS release where nobody seemed to know the wrestlers. In fact, WCW themselves never expected it. HOWwrestling: The truth behind that six-man - It was supposed to be the Steiners vs. the Hellraisers (Hawk & Sasaki) but the WWF signed the Steiners and blocked WCW from showing it, even though WCW argued it was a New Japan show which they had rights to and the WWF didn't. Then the WWF also signed Jim Ross, who was subsequently no longer available to go back and dub commentary on the new match.
Great insight here, but I’m still not willing to accept that Schiavone and Ross DIDN’T go to a sushi bar together. You aren’t taking that away from me.
We’re gonna skip the Power Hour this week, because … well, virtually nothing of note took place. I did a recap that ate up just over 1 page of written word, and I’m not gonna bother with it. However, I’ll give you the highlights. 28 seconds was dedicated to Teddy Long taking us through Jim Ross’ second career as the host of the Atlanta Falcons pre-game show. And … well, this gem:
MISSY HYATT welcomes us to “Missy Does the Mail”. The first question asks what the chances of Austin and Pillman taking the straps from Steamboat and Douglas. Hyatt looks at this mathematically. Steamboat loses 11 points for being married, and 7 more for having kids – since he won’t be able to train picking up after his brat while his wife is out shopping. Douglas gets 6 points for being single, but loses 10 for his god awful hair. The challengers are in far better shape, because Austin gets 3 points for those gorgeous blue eyes you could just drown in, 6 more for those round and well defined shoulders, 3 for the perfect pecks, and 10 for his hair. Given that his trademark became no hair at all – he should take a great deal of pride in knowing he was rockin’ it both ways. Pillman gets 8 points for his smile, 5 for his waist, and 11 points for not having an ounce of fat. “Brian Pillman can take MY belt anytime he wants to.” Missy’s whoring it up act is always fun. Missy actually whoring it up … not so much.
And with that, we’re off to the races.
JIM ROSS and LARRY ZBYSZKO welcome us to Center Stage, in Atlanta! Tonight is all about the build to the Clash of Champions coming up later this week. I’m down.
MARCUS ALEXANDER BAGWELL vs. BOB COOK
Ross gives mad props to Bagwell for winning WCW Magazine Rookie of the Year. This would of course pale in contrast to his sweeping of the 2001 RSPW awards, which included Worst Wrestler, Worst Worker, Least Favorite Wrestler, and Worst Match. You’re probably not particular impressed; but you need to understand that he ended a decade long by Hulk Hogan in the majority of those categories, no small feat! The announcers fail to pay any attention to Bob Cook, which I consider a hate crime. Here we have short, portly man, who is not letting his lack of facial follicles stop him from attempting a sad little mustache, while rocking a mullet straight out of the trailer park – and while most people meeting his description are found sourcing scrap metal from whatever rolled into their backyard that morning, Bob has decided to make something of himself. He even shows a little savvy, dodging a dropkick and punching Bagwell in the face repeatedly with his giant hams. While working a chinlock, I note that poor Bob is going bald. This man has NOTHING – would YOU mess with him?!? Marcus Bagwell is not particularly charitable, and leaves Bob with none of his dignity when he uses a Perfectplex for the pin at 5:40. This hurts my heart. *
Ross and Zbyszko promise to show us the Vader / Simmons title change, and … well, I guess they didn’t lie. I thought we might get to see the whole match, but no, they show us the end of the match where the title changed. Spoiler: Vader wins.
VADER and HARLEY RACE are god knows where. Harley gloats about being at the top of the mountain; but they’re standing in front of a blue curtain, nowhere near the white castle. Vader adds: “I AM VAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAADER!” I imagine he is!
VAN HAMMER vs. RANDY SLEDGE
Randy Sledge! Where have you been all my life? So what he lacks in shape, he makes up for in hair. He’s managed to groom a perfect mushroom cut, and then, if he wasn’t already the hippest cat in the room, he added a rat tail! This looks to be some sort of metaphoric battle between good and evil, as Van Hammer’s styling a pair of shiny silver pants, lined with stars all over the place, Sledge is wearing the black singlet, with a star on his crotch, another on his ass, and two on each boot. And, as Hollywood is apt to script, the alleged good side triumphs with a slingshot suplex at 2:14. Why can’t the coyote win, just this once? DUD
TONY SCHIAVONE stops Hammer on his back to the shower. Tony’s hopped up on some sort of early 90’s energy drink, because there is nobody more excited to see Tony Atlas and Van Hammer settle the Strongest Arm competition once and for all. Van Hammer says he’s already climbed the mountain, but he’s bringing a lot of bass and treble to the fight. Oh.
Z-MAN and JOHNNY GUNN vs. MIKE THOR and CHICK DONOVAN
O…M…G. Chick Donovan? In 1993? This is the greatest gift in the history of amazing gifts. He’s the spitting image of Randy the Ram here, while tied up in a Chippendales vest and bowtie. I had no idea the old CWA mainstay was still working – but a quick Internet search tells me that not only was here working here, well into his 40’s, but he’s still working TODAY, well into his 60’s. That’s it, I’m moving to the South. One of you readers must have some sort of job offer that’s going to get me a work visa so I can live in your beautiful country and follow the exploits of Chick Donovan. Donovan actually beats Zenk in a test of strength, which is probably the most effective anti-depressant I’ve ever taken. I’m going to replace my Wellbutrin with Chick Donovan owning the Z-Man. A bearhug from Grandpa Love Machine has Zenk wailing, and Thor comes in to try and put this one away. Unfortunately, I know a weak link when I see one, and Thor gets kicked in the face and Zenk makes the hot tag. Gunn nails the flying jalapeno on Thor, Zenk hits a superkick, and Gunn finishes with a dick to the face at 6:50. **
TEDDY LONG and CACTUS JACK share a moment. Foley can’t wait until the Barbarian steps into the Thundercage at the Clash, because there’s going to be buckets of blood. I agree with EVERY word Cactus just said, but I think we’re imagining different things. He talks smack about ERIK WATTS, who immediately gets in Mick’s face. He throws Cactus through the prop lockers, and locks on the STF. None of this is going to help me sleep tonight.
2 COLD SCORPIO vs. MUSTAFA SAIED
We saw Saied last week, and much as I want to throw him a little support, I can’t. His hair is perfectly normal, and his tights look like fluorescent Granny Panties. You can’t unsee that. Scorpio hits a superkick, and sends Saied to the floor with a dropkick. Of course, high flying in 1993 means “jumping off the apron gently”, and Saied sells it like he’s been shot. Back in, the 450 finishes quickly at 2:27. JR’s imagination has been captured – but really, outside of the 450, he’s not really flashy and his good matches were few and far between. 1/2*
TONY SCHIAVONE, wearing a plaid shirt and a red tie, wants to talk about BARRY WINDHAM’s bad blood with Dustin Rhodes. Windham points out that Dustin’s interfered in several of his matches, while he’s never done that to Dustin. He goes back to a match on Worldwide last week, which is conspicuously missing from my library. I’ll have to open a ticket with CFB Network tech support. Windham took Shane Douglas to the floor during the tag-team affair, and DDTed him on the concrete. Rhodes had an issue with that and ran down. Tony thinks he was just trying to help his friend. Windham: “Hey, when I want to know how my friends are doing, I call them on the phone, I don’t go sticking my nose in other people’s business.” Rhodes took a tag from Steamboat which the referee tried to stop, and Windham tried to help by kidney punching Dustin. Still, he got in and the referee let the match continue. Windham: “What match? I didn’t want him in the ring! I was trying to keep him out of the ring!” Barry’s particularly pissed because Dustin then walloped him with a cast across the face and the referee counted the pinfall. Windham issues a warning to Rhodes, which is the next time he steps in the ring with him, he’s going to relish the pain he’s going to put him through.
TEX SLAZENGER and SHANGHAI PIERCE vs. DIAMOND DALLAS PAGE and VINNIE VEGAS (in the Battle of the Bullies)
A Godwinn under any other name is still a Godwinn, and no matter how you dress up Tex and Shanghai, they’re still gonna suck. In the case of Tex, this also applies when he’s undressed. DDP is still 4 years away from being any good, and you probably know Vegas better as Master Blaster Steel. Page cheats like crazy on the masked man, softening him up for Vinnie. Tex fights loose and tags in Pierce. Vegas hits a gutwrench slam, and Page hits a face plant, using Pierce’s hair liberally. Pierce throws a clothesline to get back to his corner, and Tex hits a stomp off the second rope. Pierce works a step over toe hold, and Tex pulls his arm for added leverage. I admire the fan in the front row holding up a 4 foot poster that reads “TEX” in bold red font. That’s someone who knows what he likes, isn’t afraid to express it, and I respect that. Page gets worked over for 3 or 4 hours, before making the hot tag to Vegas. He’s shut down immediately with a rake to the eyes, and is forced to tag Page back in. That … doesn’t seem very wise. Still, Page hits a neckbreaker, and uses a Pedigree on Pierce for 2! Vegas fights Tex on the floor, and the referee is too busy watching them to notice that Pierce has hung Page over the top rope with a bullrope! Vegas rushes over with a wooden chair and smashes it over Pierce’s head, and the referee throws a double DQ their way at 8:50. How the heck are we supposed to settle the battle of the bullies now? You can’t just give a match that kind of a title and leave it without a conclusion. I expect the WCW booking committee to start drawing up ideas STAT.
Next up, this is happening:
Honest to god, does TONY SCHIAVONE’s mother dress him? They’re talking football for some reason. VADER is a former All-American, getting drafted in the first round by the LA Rams and winning a Superbowl Ring. Knowing goddamn well the Rams never won a Superbowl, I decided to Google this mess, and found that Vader was actually drafted in the 3rd round. I realize that heels are meant to be liars and all, but isn’t it Schiavone’s job to call him out? Instead, he’s eating this up – and then asks if he’s going to give a title shot to Sting? He says he’s ready to accommodate Sting anytime, any place, as long as he gets a rematch for the King of Cable. Ummm, ooooo kay? He defends his loss to Simmons in the summer, because he spent all his time training for Sting, and he was dealt Ron instead. As soon as he got his rematch, he was ready, and won, exactly as he expected to. If he wants a rematch, he can bring it. He fears no man, and fears no pain. His plan? To be the longest reigning WCW champion in history.
Looking at that last segment – this is EXACTLY what the WWE is lacking in every one of their heels except for Lesnar (which is why he looks so much better than the rest of the roster). Vader isn’t a chickenshit, which is pretty much the only heel they know how to write for any more. He talks shit, and is prepared to back it up with his actions. He is the real life version of basically every video game Final Boss that had ever been created to that point, and this is why Vader was so damn effective in his role. You knew he was going to maim pretty much anyone he’d face, and if his opponent had even a sliver of hope, you could immediately rally behind that person because it’s so glorious to watch the evil topple.
TONY ATLAS (with Cactus Jack) vs. DUSTIN RHODES (in a semi-finals match in the US title tournament)
We’re clearly headed right into Rhodes against Windham, so hopefully they make this one quick. Rhodes comes out firing, with dropkicks a plenty. Every time Atlas tries to get up, Rhodes hits him again or sweeps out the legs to keep him down. Atlas finally gets up in the corner, so that Rhodes can’t take him down. He goes to work on the broken wrist, slamming Dustin on it with a hammerlock. Ross reports that Rick Rude isn’t going to be able to compete at the upcoming Thundercage event – so they’ll update us on the new game plan before the end of the show. Rhodes takes back over with a clothesline and finishes with a bulldog at 4:12. *
BARRY WINDHAM vs. RICKY STEAMBOAT (in a semi-finals match in the US title tournament)
Steamboat, carrying both tag-team titles, makes a bee-line straight for the ring, and he’s a ball of energy tonight. You can feel how much these two hate each other – as they just throw a maelstrom of fists at each other in the opening moments. Windham bails, but Steamer’s right behind, chasing him until he’s able to catch and chop the hell out of Windham’s chest. Back in, Windham hides in the corner long enough for Steamboat to back off when asked; and that gives Barry the chance to attack at the leg. Steamboat goes for a slam, but Barry’s too heavy and he falls on top for 2. Steamboat throws a desperation karate chop at Windham’s head, but that’s all he’s getting before Barry turns the tide with a hard clothesline. With Ricky down, Windham stomps on Steamboat’s wrist, playing into the Dustin Rhodes injury. Barry works a hammerlock on the mat, driving his kneecap into the wrist over and over while the kids scream in horror. Steamboat elbows loose, but Windham’s not ready to give up yet – dropping down to the floor to snap Ricky’s arm over the top rope. Steamboat crawls to the apron, but Windham wants him in the ring, and attempts to drag him back in. Steamboat surprises him with a sunset flip over the top, and the big guy topples backwards for 2. Windham gets up, walking right into a jawbreaker from the former world champ, and Steamboat starts beating on Barry’s shoulder. Steamboat continues to sell his own wrist as he attempts to hold Windham in place, and when it looks like Barry’s making his way loose, Steamboat turns to his legs to hold the hammerlock. Steamboat wiggles around until he’s able to work a full half nelson on the mat, and Barry’s fading fast. Steamboat goes for the knockout blow, but he misses the karate chop, and in the process really hurts his wrist now. Windham, arm dangling to the side, uses his good arm to slam Steamboat’s face into the canvas. A vertical suplex gets 2, but Windham goes to the well a second time and Ricky reverses it mid-move for 2. Steamboat gets a head of steam to prep a clothesline, but Windham tries to sidestep and both guys collide head first into each other, Barry hitting so hard he collapses to the floor. Windham just makes it back to the apron at 9, and Steamboat’s ready with a suplex to bring him back in – except his wrist is mush, and he can’t hold it, letting Windham fall on top for 2. Windham uses a gutwrench slam, but he can’t get the pin, and he’s frustrated now. Going up turns out to be a huge mistake for the big man, and Steamboat catches him for a slam. Ricky decides to use the top rope, trying his karate chop – but Windham sidesteps and delivers a kidney punch on the way by. A jumping DDT makes the audience groan, and Windham locks on the Figure Four. Barry uses the ropes liberally, but Steamboat won’t tap out. After a long struggle, Steamboat reverses the hold, but Windham’s out quickly. Both guys are staggering, throwing haymakers. Windham whips Steamboat across the ring, but he can’t make it before his legs fall out from underneath. Back in, Windham puts on a headlock, but Steamboat turns that into a single leg atomic drop to set up the Figure Four! Windham howls, desperately clawing for the safety of the ropes, but he can’t make it. As a last hope, Barry pounds at the weak legs of Steamboat, and he’s forced to break the hold. A vertical suplex doesn’t finish Ricky off, and Steamboat faceplants Windham. He starts with the karate chops, and hits a swinging neckbreaker! Off the top, a karate chop gets 2. Steamboat picks up Windham for a slam, but his legs swing wildly and clocks Nick Patrick in the face, sending the referee sprawling to the floor in pain. Steamboat hits a top rope crossbody for a count of 6, but the referee is dead and it doesn’t count. Windham illegally tosses Steamboat over the top to the concrete, but he does it just as Patrick is stirring, and he calls for an immediate DQ at 17:37. ***1/2
Windham isn’t done, slamming Steamboat on the floor and preps the jumping DDT. SHANE DOUGLAS rushes in to save his partner, beating the piss out of Windham … and you know that means BRIAN PILLMAN and STEVE AUSTIN aren’t far behind. DUSTIN RHODES takes it to Windham on the floor, while Austin and Pillman double team Douglas in the middle of the ring. Steamboat hits the ring to protect his partner, and the newest heel unit bails for now. Steamboat’s announced as the winner in a bit of a shock – it seemed readily apparent we were gonna get Rhodes/Windham, but that’ll have to wait now.
Fun edition of Saturday Night, and it effectively sets up Wednesdays Clash. The mid-card is positively stacked these days, with Cactus Jack, Dustin Rhodes, Brian Pillman, and Steve Austin as the clear breakout stars heading into 1993 – and the timing is ripe to see who of this crew is going to develop. The main event scene is absolutely decimated, with little of substance beyond Vader and Sting, so the time is now for any one of these guys to explode as the next big thing.