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Hulkamania Goes Down South Part 1

June 02, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

This is the start of a four part series chronicling Hulk Hogan’s first two years in WCW.

This year we’ve celebrated the birth of Hulkamania and the event that was built on the shoulders of Hulkamania. Now, we look back at the moment that shifted the wrestling industry and the way the big two signed talent. We look back when WCW shocked the wrestling industry and landed the biggest fish of them all: Hulk Hogan

In 1993, after disputes with Vince McMahon over the direction of his character and booking, Hulk Hogan would leave the WWE. Hogan had been the face of the organization since 1984, the headlining act for eight of the nine WrestleMania events. Hulk was a headliner of countless PPV’s and the man the WWE PR golden boy that the company sent everywhere. Need somebody for Regis and Kathy to promote the Survivor Series? Send Hulk.  When the average person heard and still hears the words WWE, their minds would probably show them one image, Hulk Hogan. So, for Hogan to no longer be associated with the WWE that was something that people couldn’t believe.

One person, who couldn’t believe it, was Eric Bischoff. Bischoff an ambitious television announcer had secured the position of Executive Producer for WCW in 1993. Depending on who you talk to, Bischoff is either a genius or a one hit wonder. He famously pounded Vince McMahon against the ropes for two years and could never put him away. When Vince started to pound back, Bischoff could put never McMahon against the ropes and pound on him again. What’s my opinion of Bischoff? While he famously went from the top man in wrestling to a cautionary tale, he did do some good in my mind. While many criticize him taping blocks of television at a theme park and at Centre Stage/CNN Center, I can counter that WCW’s live event attendance including television tapings were never WCW’s strong suit. He did famously let go of Austin, Foley and many of the players that helped to build WCW but he also recruited some of the best talent from the US and overseas. For every good move that Bischoff made, there will always be a “Yeah, but” counter from the other side. He did beat Vince in the ratings war, but WCW’s pay per view business was never that great is an example.

WCW rarely made a signing this large, sure the company had acquired big names every now and then but it was nobody on Hogan’s level. Plus, none of the big names still had the star power and exposure that Hulk had, even with being gone from wrestling for a year. Rude had been out of the spotlight for almost a year, working the occasional independent along with touring Japan. Steamboat had been through a demeaning run as a literal dragon, Sid disappeared for softball after WrestleMania VIII and Davey Boy Smith was never a huge star. Before you guys point out Flair, he was pretty much the exception to the rule.

Bischoff had a new vision of WCW that of which didn’t gel with many of the folks whom took a previous shot at running the company. While the Bill Watts and Dusty Rhodes saw WCW as southern style wrestling driven with blood and guts, Bischoff saw WCW as a WWE-style company, WWE South you could call it. Bischoff knew that he needed the man who helped to build the WWE and went about doing so. There was a certain convenience of having Flair as head booker whom Hogan got along with from their WWE days. Bischoff threw in everything he could to get Hogan signed: A cut of pay-per-view revenue (Anywhere between 600k to 1.5 million a year), a nice cushy schedule and most of all control over his entire character.

Wooing Hogan would be difficult however as Hogan had some reservations about coming to WCW. I can understand why if I was in his shoes, the company had never proven itself to have stable management and it had yet to turn a profit since being bought by Turner. If Hulk does sign and his run is a disaster, he could lose his bargaining chip with Vince for a possible return when his deal was up.

Ah, Vince.

While Vince and Hogan’s relationship had been strained, this is a big and I mean big MIGHT, but there might have been a possible chance for Hogan and Vince to reconcile. Once the steroid heat died down, I could have seen Hulk and Vince having a secret meeting at a hotel and patch things up. They keep Hogan’s return on the down-low until the fall, where Hogan fills in for Bret at MSG after Survivor Series 1994. Hulk drops the leg on Backlund and the company preps the new big monster for Hulk to slay at WrestleMania, maybe a KOTR rematch with Yokozuna. What happens to Bret? Most of all, would Savage stay around?

In reality, Hulk could have stayed retired probably since he was still working the big dates for New Japan Pro Wrestling. Also, Thunder in Paradise probably didn’t cost a lot to produce so it could find life on syndication. There was also Hollywood (Don’t laugh) and cameos playing off his image in comedies.

Oh well, we’d never know as Hogan would come to a deal with WCW in the spring and WCW played it off rather well. Hulk’s first major appearance came in an on-set interview with Mean Gene in-which Hogan played coy about returning to wrestling. Heenan then barged in and demanded that Hogan give him an update on his status, citing a PWI cover that had Hogan and Flair meeting:

http://www.pwi-online.com/covers/FullSize/1994/94-04.gif

Hogan would sign with contract on live television at Disney-MGM Studios, with a ticket-tape parade and all. Mean Gene would sum it up: Get ready for the ride of your life. Truer words were never spoken.

Robert Goeman has been writing for CamelClutchBlog since 2014 and has written for FiveOuncesofPain and What Culture. Follow him on twitter at https://twitter.com/RobertGoeman. After every article, Robert usually does “Talking Points” on twitter, bringin up points that didn’t make the article.

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Sting: From WCW Champion to Just Another Guy

May 28, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

17,500 fans

$543,000 at the gate

686,824 buys

Over 20 million dollars grossed from those buys alone

You have to realize that WCW never saw these types of numbers, even for the first major Hogan/Flair bout. WCW never had a PPV before that drew over 400,000 buys; the WWE had FIFTEEN PPV’s that grossed higher than 400,000 buys. The company never even had a gate that huge since the glory days of JCP, and the people came for one match and one match only.

Hulk Hogan vs Sting

If you were like me, and let’s face it you probably are like me (Just a bit more adjusted), then this was the match to see. I dare say this was the biggest match that either one of the big two had put on since Hogan/Warrior. Fans had waited one full year for Sting to finally get his hands on Hulk Hogan, and there would be no now to stop him. Sting would destroy Hogan in one glorious beat down for the world to see, and the head of the nWo would be severed. No, two heads would not appear, so don’t me any of this hail hydra bull. Sting would take the belt back for WCW, and all would be right with the world. Right? I mean, c’mon me and my brother were so hyped for this match that we didn’t even go on the internet looking for results the next day, since we had a copy of the event coming our way that afternoon. Don’t you remember flipping back to the last ten or so minutes or Nitro to see Sting just beat the absolute crap out of the nWo? Surely, surely the company would do the right thing and deliver Sting giving Hogan the worst pounding since the reviews for Santa with Muscles were published.

Well sort of.

Not at all

Crap in a hat

Yes, Sting wins in the end, but not before looking like a complete chump and only winning because Bret Hart complains and we get our first of 8,000 Montreal references in WCW. Instead of going with the time-old formula of face dominates, heel cheats and gets heat on the face, and the face makes his comeback and win it all, what we got was all Hogan beating on Sting. Hulk beats on Sting, drops the leg and Nick Patrick counts to three. The story is that it was supposed to be a fast-count playing into the whole “Nick Patrick being with the nWo” story. Hart was going to come out and deck Patrick, and the match was going to be restarted. Sting makes his big comeback, wins and the fans are sent home happy. Instead, we all know that Patrick counted normally and the story is that Hogan or even Bischoff called an audible without telling Sting. Sting doesn’t kick out since he’s expecting the fast count, making him look like a complete moron in the process.

Here’s the thing, this idea should have never been pitched or even thought about, in-fact the person who came up with the idea should be hit with a whiffle ball bat about a hundred times. Sting beats Hogan with the Scorpion Deathlock in the middle of the ring, clean. No debauchery, no Bret Hart, no dusty finish, the way it should have been. Some people have suggested that it should a squash on the level of Hogan/Sheik, but I think that would be a bit much. Here is how it should have gone down:

-Sting comes out hot and starts beating on Hogan and you know the crowd is eating it up. He’s showing signs of the old Sting as the announcers talk about how it seems like the old Sting is coming back to life. He even does the old howl taunt, which you know would get a large response from the fans.

-Then, you pull that carpet from underneath those fans when Sting misses a big move. It could be a dive to the outside or Stinger Splash while Hogan is against the post or railing. Did Sting ever nail that move anyhow? Hulk goes into heel mode, using eye rakes and chokes to kill any comeback by Sting. It seems like Hogan has this one in the bag, and even the announcers seem down and out. Dusty is in the booth, let him talk about the tradition and the legacy that is on the line with this match. If Sting fails, who is left from WCW to face Hogan?

-Sting starts to rally, it’s not huge but he’s starting to find his way back into the fight. He knows what is on the line, his legacy and the legacy of WCW. Right when it seems like Sting is ready to comeback; Hogan cheats his way and cuts it off. A low blow here would be the right move.

-Hogan hits the big boot and leg drop of doom and goes for the cover. Is this it for Sting? Nope, Sting barely kicks out as Hogan is shocked. Hogan calls for the nWo to come out, but the ENTIRE WCW roster cuts off the nWo as they come out. Hogan slowly realizes that it is just Sting and Sting has risen from the leg drop. Hulk has that “Oh crap” look on his face and turns around to face Sting, and Sting does that crazy gorilla beat on his chest.

-One year of anger, frustration and hatred is let out by Sting in a few glorious minutes. Sting beats Hogan from pillar to post, hits the Stinger Splash in all four corners, Scorpion Deatdrop and Hogan taps to the Scorpion Deathlock. We get the big celebration we ended up seeing, the crowd goes nuts and WCW is pretty much set for the next few months. Sting takes on various members of the nWo, slowly but surely picking the group apart.

Now, we know this didn’t happen. Instead, we got a convoluted continuation in-which Sting vacated the title to only beat Hogan for the title at SuperBrawl. Sting faced Hall at Uncensored, another person (Savage) turned on him for the 863rd time, and Sting drops the belt a month later to Savage. In the end, Hulk gets the belt a night later and Sting becomes another star whose knees get cut off. Instead of people watching and staying on Nitro when Sting arrives like they did a year earlier, they change the channel to Raw. Starrcade should have been the launch of a new draw for the organization, but thanks to the machinations of creative control, it never happened. Hogan cut his promos about being the only thing you should care about and the champ is worthless (Also done during Goldberg’s run and when Flair had the belt).

I know many people contest the drawing ability of Sting, but having Sting steamroll Hogan and you have so many options for what you could book after Starrcade. You can start the slow implosion of the nWo, with Nash questioning the leadership abilities of Hogan. Sting going after what’s left of the nWo (Hall, Nash, Savage), and heck you can end the nWo storyline before staleness sets in. What’s left of the nWo dissolves into the mid-card and you have a pretty sellable tag match: Hogan and Savage against Hall and Nash. Sting can work with Flair/Hart/Luger/DDP/Giant and then do the drop to Hogan who then drops it Goldberg. Surely, and I mean surely Goldberg will be that big megastar that WCW wants by the end of 1998, he’ll lea-

I just saw the knee cutter prepping a machete labeled Goldberg.

That’s for another article.

In the end, WCW took a massive successful card and what should have come with a boatload of momentum and instead squandered it. What should have been establishment of a new draw and turned him just another face in the sea of a bloated roster. Instead of an organization doing what was best for business, they catered to the ego of one man. While the good times were rolling, we know the end of the story. Just figured that it was a story that needed some telling.

Robert Goeman has been writing for CamelClutchBlog since 2014 and has written for FiveOuncesofPain and What Culture. Follow him on twitter at https://twitter.com/RobertGoeman. After every article, Robert usually does “Talking Points” on twitter, bringin up points that didn’t make the article.

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Wrestlers Are Like Seagulls Kindle Review

May 20, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Before we start, I know that JJ Dillon’s autobiography has been out since 2005 and you’ve probably heard the reviews. Unfortunately, the cheapest copy I’ve found for the book is $29 on Amazon with new copies going as high as a hundred books. I scoured most used book stores for a copy, but I’ve never had any luck. This, along with Gary Hart’s book were the two books that I’ve badly wanted to read over the years but their lack of availability hindered that. Fun fact: The only used copy of Gary Hart’s book will cost you a cool $1,302. Luckily, Crowbar Press has released their entire catalog onto the Amazon Kindle program and having a Kindle myself, I finally had a chance to read it over the weekend.

I can say without a doubt that this is the best wrestling book I have read. That is no joke in my opinion considering I thought nobody could top Foley, Jericho, or Hart but Dillon managed to do it.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t know about Dillon outside of the fact that he worked in Florida, Memphis, NWA/WCW with the Horsemen and in the office and finally for the WWE. I know he appeared a few times on WWE TV as an agent but I just thought that it was just some random guy. That’s the great thing about this book; I didn’t know how many different territories he worked for. I didn’t know he worked for Vince Sr. as a ref, Amarillo for the Funks, Houston, Georgia, The Maritimes, and Australia among other areas. There are so many great stories about workers like The Funks, Dusty Rhodes, Dick Murdoch, the clients he managed, Harley Race and almost every big name that was around in the territories.

Even though the meat of the story is Dillon’s run in the territories, I’d say the best part of the book is when he goes to work for Vince McMahon. You get a very clear picture of the type of guy McMahon is (Works 24/7, astute attention to detail) but Dillon talks about stuff you never hear about. Booking the arenas, coordinating travel for the talent, payoffs, merchandising and the best part is that it isn’t boring. You think this stuff could be boring, but the amount of detail he puts into the behind the scenes aspect keeps you interested. He also went over how the live events are set-up which interested me and how Vince is pretty much the great decider in the end, if something isn’t drawing well then Vince will kill it not matter what feud it is. You also get a scope of how different the company was booked back then, Dillon writes about how himself, Vince and Patterson would book everything at Vince’s house. It’s also interesting hearing about the company during the steroid saga and the fact that Jerry Jarrett was pretty much set-up to run the company if the worst happened. Vince even joked that he would have Dillon and Patterson over to help book the company from prison if the worst did happen. I’m not surprised actually. We learn about Dillon’s departure from the company and what caused it and just how messed up WCW was.

While I do love the Death of WCW book, Dillon gives an inside view of the slippery slope the company was on after 1998. Some stuff won’t surprise you (ATM Eric), but stuff like the company eating rental car fees is surprising and just how easy workers in the company got their way. Dillon was with the company from 1996 till the end of the company, so there is a lot to read. I didn’t even know that Jerry Jarrett was trying to buy the company before Vince bought it. This part and Dillon’s time as Vince’s right hand man are the must read aspects of the book. It’s also good to see that Dillon found life after wrestling as a correctional officer. In an era in-which we hear about guys struggling to make it and sometimes grim results, it’s good to know that Dillon has as-least found stability.

The most refreshing aspect is that Dillon doesn’t use the book to bear any major grudges. He does address what Mick Foley wrote about him in the first book in a diplomatic way giving his point of view on why they wouldn’t hire him. He addresses the situation with Dave Meltzer that I wrote about in my WrestleMania VII article regarding the Hogan/Slaughter angle. He doesn’t bury him or call either of them out; he just gives his side of the story. He even agreed that the angle itself was extremely tasteless, but there was really no changing Vince’s mind.

In the end, I cannot recommend Dillon’s book enough, I went in with high hopes and they were met. You don’t need a Kindle Fire to get a copy, any tablet or smart phone with access to kindle and you can get yourself of copy of the book.

“Wrestlers Are Like Seagulls”: From McMahon to McMahon

Robert Goeman has been writing for CamelClutchBlog since 2014 and has written for FiveOuncesofPain and What Culture. Follow him on twitter at https://twitter.com/RobertGoeman. After every article, Robert usually does “Talking Points” on twitter, bringin up points that didn’t make the article.

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10 MORE Sting Matches WWE Fans Should Watch

May 19, 2014 By: Category: lists, WWE | Pro Wrestling

A few days ago, our death match commentary overlord did an article talking about ten Sting matches you should watch. You’re not going to get any complaints from me because I pretty much agree with all of them. Luckily, Eric has allowed me to post ten more Sting matches you should check out. Some of these matches you may already know but I presume that some of the matches you’ve probably never seen before. So sit back, get some face paint on and revel at the fact that there’s no Hogan here to cut those knees off.

Sting and Ric Flair vs The Great Muta and Dick Slater: Clash of the Champions VIII 09.12.1989

First, this was supposed to Flair and Sting vs Funk and Muta, but Funk is injured, so we get the best Terry Funk impersonator of all time: Dick Slater. Even better, we get Jim Ross and Jim Cornette on commentary and Ross is great explaining the various types of mist. This match is just great, thanks to a hot South Carolina crowd. Slater plays Funk very well, Ric Flair makes a surprisingly good Ricky Morton to Sting’s Robert Gibson and vice versa. Muta busts out the yellow mist and most of all, Terry Funk attempts to murder Ric Flair. What’s also great is that the match sort of has a downer ending with the faces getting pounded. Flair is almost killed and Slater hits Sting in the leg with a branding iron much to JR’s disgust. What more could you want from a tag team match? Also, Clash VIII has two other great matches: Road Warriors against The Samoan Swat Team and Lex Luger against Tommy Rich. Watch this one and the whole card.

Now, Eric brought up three great contests Sting had with Cactus Jack, Vader, and Ric Flair. These next three matches are Sting against the same opponent, but these are matches that you may not have seen. Enjoy.

Sting vs Cactus Jack in a Submit or Surrender Match on WCW Power Hour: 11/23/1991

This is an interesting concept since you can either make your opponent say I Quit, submit or if he can’t respond to a ten count. So, it’s a hybrid I Quit/Submission/Last Man Standing match. This match actually made the Foley DVD and I’m glad it’s getting some recognition. Now, this may sound insane but I think this match up there with the Beach Blast match. It’s just an all-out war between the two guys and the finish is actually genius. Sting is draped over the second rope, Cactus goes to hit him with the chair but Sting moves and the chair bounces back and hits him in the face. Sting puts a knocked out Cactus in the Scorpion Deathlock and the ref calls the match. Great battle.

Sting vs Ric Flair on NWA Worldwide: 2/20/1988

Before their famous bout at the first Clash of the Champions, Sting and Ric Flair would open the February 20th edition of NWA Worldwide. This was probably Sting’s first big match since joining the NWA and much like the Clash match, it’s booked masterfully. Flair bumps around the ring like a pinball for Sting making him look like a million bucks and then Flair baits Sting into doing something stupid. Flair goes on the offensive as the once invisible Sting is being worn down by the veteran, and then Sting gets a second burst. The big difference is that since is a TV match and Dust has the book, we get two ref bumps and a non-finish. This went a long way towards establishing Sting as a legit star in the NWA. Ending is great with Sting holding Flair in the Scorpion for an extended period of time. The Clash may have Sting’s coming out party, but this match proved that he was ready for the Clash.

Sting vs Vader Title Change in London, England: 03/11/1993

The main reason I picked this over the White Castle of Fear, Fall Brawl 1994 Slamboree 1994, or the Bash match is that this is a match not many people may know about. Those matches are fantastic and thanks to the Network, you can watch them all the time. This one isn’t on the Network. It’s also a pretty rare match since it wasn’t filmed for television since Sting wins the belt. Sting would drop it in Dublin at the end of the tour, but what makes this match a match you should watch is the crowd. While Vader and Sting would work before decent sized crowds, this is a London card and the place is packed with 11,500 fans. The crowd is hot for everything in the match and all the kids are cheering their hearts out hoping to see their hero topple the monster. That is what makes this match so great, it’s the usual cat and mouse game between the two and the two of them hold the crowd in the palm of their hands. The two of them pretty much perfected their formula at this point, but it’s still a very good match between the two. The full match is on Youtube so you don’t have to sacrifice your first born to obtain a copy.

Sting vs The Giant at Slamboree 1996: 05/19/1996

Hey, another PPV that I got for a birthday gift! Even better, I got this and the criminally underrated Toy Story video game for the Sega Genesis. Sting was given a rather difficult task against the Giant, to carry him to a watchable or at least a good match. Heck, Flair wasn’t even able to accomplish that at this point. No offense to the big guy, but he was only a wrestler for about a year at this point, so Sting had the GIANT (Yes, that’s awful) task of carrying the Giant. Guess what? Sting managed to do it. Sting starts off by throwing everything he can at the big guy: Dropkicks, sleepers, clotheslines, cross bodies but he can’t even move the big guy. Heck, he even busts off the Enziguri and Giant reacts by kicking him half way across the ring. It’s similar to the Vader matches, every time Sting is on the verge of coming back,  Giant cuts him off. The Giant even busts off a dropkick. Great big man vs little guy match, probably the Giant’s best match in WCW.

Sting and Ricky Steamboat vs Ric Flair and Steve Austin on WCW Saturday Night: 07/30/1994

This took place a few weeks after Bash at the Beach 1994, and it’s one of the great fleeting moments of the WCW before Hogan arrived. All four men are at the top of their game, the crowd is super-hot and it also shows that there was still a glimmer of hope that Austin was on his way to the main event. Austin doesn’t feel like a mid-card guy in the match thrown in their since he’s in a rivalry with Steamboat, he’s booked like a top level guy. A great thirty minute tag match, the crowd is never bored and probably one of the better TV main events of 1994. Besides the ugly botch of Sting throwing Sherri to the outside, it is a much watch for WCW fans. Not much else to say on this one, a great southern style tag match.

Sting vs Barry Windham for the United States Champion at Clash of the Champions III: 09/07/1988

I will always call Barry Windham the forgotten best wrestler of all time. For about the last half of the eighties, Windham tore the house down with some of the best of them including a memorable series of bouts with Flair. Needless to say, the wear and tear that came in those few years reduced Windham to a shell of his former self in the mid 90’s. So we have this period of time and Windham would wind up tangling with Sting here. Sting and Windham mess really well in this match as the commentators sell it as the young lion Sting against the veteran Windham. Both men would have a rather good match in 1993 and I do wish we had seen Sting defend the belt against Windham after he won it from Flair. You get a pretty good match between the both men, hot crowd and the highly underrated Ross/Caudle commentary team. What more could you ask for?

Sting, Brian Pillman, and The Steiner Brothers vs Ric Flair, Barry Windham, Sid and Larry Zbyszko in a WarGames match at WrestleWar 1991: 02/24/1991

WarGames ’91 is the WWF Superstars to WarGames ’92 WWF WrestleFest and that’s not a bad thing. Most people remember WarGames 1992 as the violent and brutal epic, the pinnacle of the WarGames match. WarGames 91 is a very good match, heck a great match in its own right. It just happened the next WarGames match was fantastic. This match is still a great dramatic affair with an injured Pillman defying wisdom and entering number one to face Windham. It’s a great bloody battle with a super-hot crowd eating it all up. Even the botched powerbomb by Sid gets a pass from me since it just added to the brutality. Plus it made Sid look like a complete monster for powerbombing an already knocked out Pillman. This could have been the start of a feud between the two, but Turner had to get all he could out of Gigante’s Hawks contract. Still, I know there isn’t much Sting talk but its WarGames people.

Sting vs Diamond Dallas Page for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship on WCW Nitro: 04/26/1999

I’ll be the first to admit that there aren’t many great Sting matches in the late nineties and I can understand that seeing the company you helped to build is being slowly destroyed is a slight bummer. We’re going to ignore that the belt changed hands at the end of the night and that Nitro somehow lost by three points. Page plays a great phallic heel here and I remember reading about how awesome this match (Death of WCW book) was and I finally saw it when the first Nitro DVD came out. It does live up to the hype, the crowd is hot and both men are motivated. The finish is rather genius, Sting blocking the Diamond Cutter by using the ropes and hitting the Deathdrop to get the pinfall. I’d also recommend the champion vs champion match that both men had the previous year. Both guys have a surprisingly good amount of chemistry here and it works.

Sting, Dustin Rhodes and Brian Pillman vs Rick Rude, Steve Austin, and Paul Orndorff in a Thundercage Match at Superbrawl IV: 02/20/94

We close with an underrated gem of a steel cage match that featured one of WCW’s great rivalries (Sting/Rude), a solid rivalry (Rhodes/Orndorff), and what should have been a great rivalry (Pillman/Austin). It is handicapped by the lack of blood for a match featuring some big rivalries, but they work around it and they have a good match. The crowd is hot and the finish is rather creative. Sting throwing Pillman onto Austin to get the victory for their team and the crowd pops for it. The post-match is great too, Rude slamming the door on Stings face and hitting the Rude Awaking on the floor. The post-match would set the stage for Spring Stampede and the match would end up being Rude’s last match.

Recommended watching:

-Sting, Lex Luger and Barry Windham vs The Four Horsemen (The Main Event: 04/03/1988)

-Sting and Lex Luger vs The Midnight Express/Sting and Luger vs Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard (Crockett Cup 88) (General note: The Sting and Luger vs Express was cut out of the commercial release)

-The Sting/Vader series outside of the ones talked about in these articles

– Sting and Ricky Steamboat vs Rick Rude and Steve Austin (Clash of the Champions XVIII: 01/21/1992)

-Sting and Ric Flair vs Vader and Rick Rude (Clash of the Champions XXVI: 01/27/1994)

– Sting vs Steve Austin (WCW Saturday Night: 01/08/1994)

Well, I hope this list has been pretty informative overall. It was a nice break from dealing with the doom and gloom that came from Friday’s stock debacle and writing an article about it at midnight. While many can debate the drawing ability of Sting, very few can doubt that that he has a library of darn good matches. See you next time.

Robert Goeman has been writing for CamelClutchBlog since 2014 and has written for FiveOuncesofPain and What Culture. Follow him on twitter at https://twitter.com/RobertGoeman. After every article, Robert usually does “Talking Points” on twitter, bringin up points that didn’t make the article.

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10 Sting Matches WWE Fans Need To Watch

May 13, 2014 By: Category: lists, WWE | Pro Wrestling

Sting is now a member of the WWE roster and is expected to debut in 2014. Thanks to the WWE Network, new fans can get introduced to Sting through the entire WCW PPV library. Here are ten matches you should immediately watch to understand how this man became an icon among WCW fans.

Sting is coming to WWE television and for a lot of fans in the Universe, he is a stranger with a legacy. For fans that may be a little older, Sting is just one of the stars of TNA Wrestling. Yet for the fans that watched Sting for over 20 years in WCW, he is an icon of their youth. It is time you become familiar with this icon if you aren’t already.

For the purposes of this list I kept all of my choices to matches currently available on the WWE Network so it is not necessarily a definitive list of his greatest WCW matches. There are some great WCW matches of Sting’s that aren’t on the Network like his match with DDP on Nitro and his match in Tokyo teaming with Great Muta to take on the Steiner brothers. Otherwise every single one of these matches are available on the Network. If you haven’t seen them go watch them now because the Stinger is coming!

Sting vs. Ric Flair Clash of the Champions I - The granddaddy of them all when it comes to Sting matches. This match put Sting on the map although it was not his first televised match with Flair (they wrestled once on World Wide although the show cut off during the match). Sting was elevated to the big time as he took the Nature Boy to the limit for 45 minutes. Watching this match back today is fascinating as it is apparent quickly that Flair is carrying this bad boy completely. Regardless, it was a great match and deserves a top spot on the list.

Sting and Luger vs. Steiners Super Brawl 91 - This was a Dream Match at the time as it was rare to see two babyface teams at this level face off against each other in WCW or the WWE. The match started out as you would expect a match to start out between friends. Eventually friendships were put aside for the WCW tag team titles and the match turned into a non-stop back and forth tag match that went past expectations. Both teams had the crowd in the palms of their hands. The only criticism of the match is that it was too short.

Sting vs. Ric Flair Clash of the Champions XXVII - This was probably their best match in WCW yet it is often disregarded in favor of the Bash 1990 match.This was a great one and much better than their Bash 1990 match which I originally had in this spot. I’d say the crowd here really separated the matches as the crowd was super hot for this one. This match was pretty action-packed from start to finish with all kinds of cool spots including Sting taking out Sherri Martel with a dive to the floor after Flair pushed her into the way. Flair winds up pulling off the upset as he rolls up Sting while Sting checks on Sherri and unifies the championships.

Sting vs. Vader King of Cable Finals Starrcade 92 - Words can’t describe how great this match was. The Vader vs. Sting feud to me is one of the most underrated feuds in wrestling history. Every single one of their matches were great but this one stands out to me. The psychology here was tremendous with Vader being a complete monster with Sting’s giving it right back to him. This match had it all from strong style wrestling, brawling, and just high-intense action. The only criticism is the finish which seemed kind of weak considering all of the punishment absorbed throughout the match.

Sting vs. Mick Foley Falls Count Anywhere on the Gulf Coast Beach Blast 92 - Foley wrote in his book that Sting told him that this was his favorite match. I can understand why. This match was awesome the second it started with Foley meeting Sting on the ramp and brawling with Sting. These guys probably utilized the concept of Falls Count Anywhere better than anyone ever has. The many pinfall attempts on the floor were a unique twist. Sting won the match with a clothesline off the top rope onto Foley who was on the ramp. Great finish, great match, great crowd heat, and a great call by good old J.R. (not so much the Body). In hindsight it is amazing how little respect these guys got as this WCW title match was booked early in the show and the poster featured Steamboat and Rude. I am sure it had to be some kind of a motivator.

Sting & Flair vs. Terry Funk and Muta Thunderdome Cage Match Halloween Havoc 1989 - This was an odd match. Inside the ring the match was fantastic. The match had everything from great brawling to intense wrestling to dramatic psychology. Unfortunately it was scarred with a terrible gimmick in that the only way the match could end was with either Gary Hart or Ole Anderson throwing in the towel. Other than the ridiculous stipulation, this was a really exciting match. You almost get the sense that Ric Flair was having a lot of fun when you watch it back today on the Network.

Sting, Barry Windham, Dustin Rhodes, Ricky Steamboat and Nikita Koloff (Sting’s Squadron) vs. Rick Rude, Arn Anderson, Larry Zbyszko, Bobby Eaton & Steve Austin (Dangerous Alliance) War Games Match, Wrestle War 1992 - This match is probably one of the most underrated matches in War Games history. Some have even dubbed it the best War Games ever. This match told a great story from beginning to end which is tough in a War Games match. It had all of the crazy action you’d expect except the match continued to build and held together like a snug puzzle. Arn Anderson’s head winds up between the two rings at one point (a spot he borrowed from Barry Windham). Dustin Rhodes is a bloody mess and a steel hook from the top was used in the finish. Sting finishes off Beautiful Bobby with an arm bar to win the match and end the chaos in a classic.

Sting vs. Great Muta Great American Bash 1989 - This is one of my favorite WCW matches of all-time from my favorite WCW pay-per-view of all-time. This match has a faster pace than your typical WCW matches at the time. Beyond that, these two had chemistry that just clicked inside of the ring. Muta was built up brilliantly up to this point and the fans ate the match up live (I should know, I was there.) The double ring from the War Games was also used which made the match more fun.

Sting vs. William Regal Great American Bash 96 - An odd match on paper turned out to be one of the best matches in Sting’s career. If styles make great matches this one should have been terrible. Instead both men adapted to each other’s styles and produced a clinic which at times was very stiff. Sting’s critics will say Sting couldn’t “wrestle”. I challenge them to watch this match and back up that argument. Regal dominated the match, stretching Sting during most of the bout. Regal even nails an underhook suplex off of the top rope. Sting eventually mounted a comeback and won with the Scorpion Deathlock. This was much different than anything on the list and that’s a compliment.

Sting vs. Rick Rude Clash of the Champions XVII - This was a real fun match in a series that I never thought lived up to the billing. This match was certainly the highlight of the feud. The deal here saw Sting get injured earlier in the night from Lex Luger, teasing that he wouldn’t be back to wrestle Rick Rude. He did return and had a heck of a match with Rude. Rude worked on Sting’s injured leg for most of the match. The crowd absolutely ate up the drama of the injured Sting returning to wrestle the match. Unfortunately bravery was not enough to combat Paul Heyman’s interference. I should also point out how fantastic Jim Ross was here on the call. He took this match up a few levels simply due to his excitement during commentary. Do yourself a favor and check out Heyman and Rude’s post-match interview, it’s fantastic as well.

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The Robert Zone: WCW Ready to Rumble Review

April 28, 2014 By: Category: Entertainment, WWE | Pro Wrestling

The Robert Zone: Ready to Rumble

I’m not doing it Gargiulo, I’m not. You already subjected me to No Holds Barred, you cannot and will not subject me to Ready to Rumble. I don’t care what you do, I will not watch Ready to Rumble. You can send John Zandig after me and tell him I ran over his car or that I took his company. You did? Oh crap, review of Ready to Rumble it is then! What Eric doesn’t know is that I’m playing the videogame from 1999, so HA! Before we start, I have a guest at the door, so excuse me.

JEEEEEEEZZZZZUSSSSSSSS! YOU’RE GONNA DIE GOEMAN, I GUARANTEE IT!

Alright, Ready to Rumble it is.

Damn you Garguilo, is Joan Severance in it?

Ghost of Dean Ambrose: Nope.

Oh shut up, ghost of Dean Ambrose. Deep breaths, deep breaths, you can do this Robert. You watched the entire Black Scorpion angle and only suffered minimal brain damage. Alright, let’s meet our main characters: Gordie played by David Arquette and Sean played by Scott “Not James” Caan (Do not make that joke Ghost of Dean Ambrose). Gordie is an idiot man child, so it’s basically in Arquette’s range, so it’s not much of a stretch. Can’t believe he landed Courtney Cox. Sean is more or less the straight man to Gordie’s idiot man child character. It should be noted that the opening credits are rather well done; a mixture of older wrestling pictures current ones, so that’s one of the few positives of this movie. They live in Lusk, Wyoming which I didn’t think actually existed but actually did. My apologies to the good people of Lusk, Wyoming and the other fifteen cities I managed to offend by believing it didn’t exist. They worship Jimmy King (Oliver Platt), who is apparently undefeated and holding the longest winning streak in wrestling history. At that moment, Andre the Giant is prepping to return to the living and beat King dead.

In this movie, there are two groups: The heroes who believe wrestling is real and everybody else who wonders why these two weren’t drowned at some point. The latter group more or less calls them idiots and breaks the earth-shattering news that wrestling isn’t real. We get our first wrestling sequence with our well-written idiot man child and a convenience store clerk who calls kids retards. HOLY SH#T’S IT BONESAW AND HE’S READY TO KILL GORDIE.

Ghost of Dean Ambrose: That’s Randy Savage you idiot.

I can just presume that the slurpee drinks are laced with a form of LSD as Nitro Girls and Jimmy King shows up and the bald guy and Savage do the job to Gordie and King. Savage is just happy that he didn’t have to take the pin and that he didn’t job to Hogan the next night. We get our first poop related gag of the night as Gordie gets a free slurpee refill by sticking his finger up his butt and dear god this is awful already. We then meet Gordie’s dad, a creepy cop who hates wrestling and grabbing the nuts of young man. Are we sure this isn’t Feinstein? HIYO!

Ghost of Dean Ambrose: That was cheap and awful, why do I haunt you again?

Our heroes clean port potties for a living, continuing the great stereotype of wrestling fans being complete losers. More sh#t jokes, just great and a wrestling sequence in which Caan actually looks like a competent worker. They’re hyped for the big DDP/King bout on Nitro, continuing the trend of WCW giving away PPV matches for ratings. More unfunny gags including a pervy grandma, Gordie’s cop family and we’re finally at Nitro! This Nitro is highly unrealistic because the show actually looks well-booked and most of all, the building is sold out. They complain about their seats, even though the higher you’re seated the more action you see and a thoughtful conversation about having one testicle. Nitro girls! With our lead Nitro girl, Sasha played Rose McGowan, who I remembered for being hot and having one leg in that one movie. Still no Joan Severance though.

Ghost of Dean Ambrose: More testicles than you have.

We then meet our booker, Titus Sinclair played by Joe Pantoliano who hates Jimmy King and has a sinister plan in place! He also dresses with a cowboy hat and western jacket, looking like a complete tool. DDP has his backup which consists of SID, Juventud, Van Hammer, Prince Iaukea and Bam Bam Bigelow, and King has his court which-is Saturn, Konnan, and Henning, so basically the line-up you’d see on a Thunder. Missing from this movie just for insight and probably wanted to shy away from being associated with this dreck: Hogan, Flair, Nash, Hall, Hart, Benoit, Eddie and Steiner. Sinclair gets cryptic with Jimmy King as the match begins as we actually see the two calling spots out for basic moves and then we get the moment. Sinclair, who teleported to the crowd gives Page the call to shoot on King. Page starts to potato the crap out of King and King potatoes Page back. Slingshot to the outside through a table (Remember when Maeda shot on Chosu and did the same thing) and a run-in by DDP’s goons. The King’s Men run in and…..SWERVE! It’s a beatdown and King takes a four-post massacre and we have a new champion as Sinclair claims he has gotten rid of Jimmy King and tells King that he is done for good. What do ya give this match Ghost of Dean Ambrose?

Ghost of Dean Ambrose: Two stars at best.

Eh, I thought it was one at best.

More poop gags as I’ve slowly realized that there was a rewrite of this script by Vince Russo. This movie was probably a light-hearted comedy with some heart before Russo arrived and took a literal sh*t on the script. Poop gags, swerves, blending of what’s real and face and jokes that only 13 year olds would like. I’m sure at some point Russo wanted King to be escorted by a midget. He also arrived on the set to his Iron Man knockoff theme playing with a baseball bat and demanding rewrites. Back to reality, our heroes go on a quest to find King, hitching a ride with some nuns and my pen next to me looks sharp enough to stab myself in the eyes. They encounter a hacker who’s playing a crappy Jimmy King arcade game. We then get a humping joke with action figures and Sean singing Britney Spears; and please kill me Ghost of Dean Ambrose.

Ghost of Dean Ambrose: Not before I get revenge on the asteroid that killed me, and I’m taking the pen away.

We meet King’s wife who’s a white trash redneck with crabs and an idiot child. King is pretty much revealed to be a scumbag delinquent idiot who has no talent with illegitimate children, living in a mobile home. And he’s in drag, because drag queens= funny in Russo’s eyes. King is pretty much a giant inside joke about the personal life of Jerry Lawler, hell I’m not surprised that King doesn’t hit on a 13 year-old girl at some point. King is revealed to be a horrible person, as our idiots try to get him to believe in himself. King finally believes in himself as he agrees to join up with them to get revenge on Sinclair, starting at the Monday Nitro at Madison Squa- err New York Arena in a port potties. Sinclair insults King and the fans some more and King returns and beats up the two of them with a toilet seat. We’re not even an hour in and please end my suffering.

Ghost of Dean Ambrose: I took a saw blade to the head, sissy.

A fake one, you a#s. King beats up Page and Sinclair challenges King to meet Page in the steel cage for the belt and one million dollars. King’s career is on the line and are we sure King/Sinclair/Page aren’t working these idiots? Party scene, Gordie and Sasha flirt as we get drunk Mean Gene, wrestlers with terrible fashion sense, and a set-up to another sh@t joke! To get King in shape, they enlist Sal Bandini, an old-time shooter played….MARTIN LANDAU? What world are we living in when an Academy Award winng actor is in this movie? Fun fact, John Goodman was originally going to be in this, but Landau actually puts effort in. We are blessed with another Arquette scene in a HILARIOUS eating and sex scene with Sasha, because why the hell not and where’s my pen? The group tries to recruit Goldberg, and yes I know that John Cena was in this scene as an extra. Goldberg is a no go; Sid and Saturn break in and beat up Bandini and no I’m not making a scissors joke. Sasha is revealed to be working for Titus and holy sh%t this is something out of No Holds Barred. They dump Sasha, Bandini gives him a rousing speech as they go home to train king. King visits his redneck family, gets kicked in the junk which is a running joke in the movie. They make it home, Gordie gets taken home by his dad who wants him to have a career and King recruits his posse. Two idiots and a hot chick, which makes the Four Horsemen, look like the Dungeon of Doom.

We’re off to the big match, which means that this movie is almost over! Sinclair has a secret meeting with Sting, who looks as enthusiastic as he did when they explained his post Starrcade 1997 booking. Sinclair wants Sting to prevent King and threatens to kill Sting if he messes up. Shades of Russo, where’s Tank Abbott with the knife? Sean is dressed like the Kool Aid man and Sinclair bills it as One Man Suicide and it’s inside of the Cage of Death.

YOUTH GONE WILD

END THIS MOVIE FAST, I HEAR ZANDIG COMING AND HE HAS HAIR. WE’RE SCREWED.

In reality, it’s the Triple Decker Cage/Triple Dome of Terror/Tower/Doomsday Cage. Michael Buffer collects his paycheck and away we go. The cage is kind of cool since there is no door and that you lock up a panel of the cage. Of all the sh#t for TNA to steal, you take the awesome ramp but do nothing. Yet, no Triple Decker Cage? For shame, Dixie. We actually get the first chuckle of the night with “A diamond upside down is a pussy” bit and it only took us 90 minutes for a good joke! Juventud and some fat guy in a mask come in from underneath the ring. Sid/Bigelow/Hammer/Saturn break into the cage and Saturn takes a Ziggler-like bump for a ladder shot, so that’s a positive. The fat guy is revealed to be his son (SHOCKER!) and a beatdown ensues. Are we sure this isn’t a giant work? Goldberg leads a group to save the day: Himself (Awesome), Booker T (Pretty good pick), Kidman (Unorthodox, but I like it)….and Disco Inferno? BWAAWAHA.

Yeah, Russo must have re-written this.

Faces can’t break into the cage despite having Goldberg on their side and Gordie makes a surprise appearance, breaking into the cage via motorcycle. Yes, he’s dressed as a state trooper, Buddy Lee Parker be proud. I’m a Mountie guy, by the guy. Gordie’s dad does an about face seeing his kid tackle a fat kid. Sasha gets a ladder to the face because she’s a female in wrestling that happens to be evil. The fight does to the second cage and Page hangs Jimmy, but we’re getting to the last cage. King gets tossed off the cage, but STING REFUSES TO FOLLOW THE SCRIPT and knocks Page off the cage. Here comes the part we’ve been waiting for: Sting punching Gordie as the eight people who subjected themselves to this movie cheer wildly. Both men make their way back to the cage, low blows ensue, and King bodyslams Page through the cage. King wins the belt, sadly doesn’t fall through the cage, Sinclair gets hit in the fact and presumably eaten by cannibalistic wrestling fans, Goldberg offers to be King’s partner and King chooses the idiot boy instead. Sting is in the background wondering if it’s too late to call Vince about coming to work for him. Back him in Lusk, Goldberg violently assaults the convenience store clerk, and Martin Landau shows up to crush my soul some more.

It’s over, it’s finally over. What’d you think Ghost of Dean Ambrose?

Ghost of Dean Ambrose: Where’s that asteroid that killed me? I want it to come back and kill anybody involved and the ghost version of me.

Sound’s great. WCW actually thought this movie would turn things around when they agreed to do it in the summer of 1999. That’s right, it wasn’t some new angle, a new star or pushing a guy like Goldberg, it was a movie. Luckily, nothing else came of this as the movie flopped financially and critically and was quickly forgotten right?

Oh…and David Arquette won the WCW Championship. Yeah, the company was pretty much toast and the outrage was fun in 2000, but nothing was bringing WCW back. It was more indicative of the mentally that WCW had, cut the knees of anybody who could draw outside of Bisch’s boys (Bret, Flair, Goldberg, Sting, hell even DDP) and then hope that a movie would fix it. The Nitro after the title win saw WCW got blown out by almost a full five points thanks an universally awful show with a Tank Abott/David Arquette title defense and Hulk Hogan vs Mike Awesome main event. Raw had a very fun Rock vs Shane McMahon cage match as their main event. One of the many nails in the coffin of WCW.

Robert Goeman has been writing for CamelClutchBlog since 2014 and has written for FiveOuncesofPain and What Culture. Follow him on twitter at https://twitter.com/RobertGoeman. After every article, Robert usually does “Talking Points” on twitter, bringin up points that didn’t make the article.

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WWE WrestleMania X8 – Even The Rock Booed The Rock

March 25, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

-So this was a bit like the end of an era for years truly. I was graduating high school in just three months, making this the first WWE WrestleMania of my adult life. The last time WrestleMania resided in Toronto, I was in kindergarten. Now, I was a high school senior, and the big event’s back at the Skydome in Toronto, Ontario, this time on March 17, 2002. Weird how things end up in life.

-Your hosts are Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler, whose knees are still worn out from the groveling he had to do to reclaim his old job. The event looks like a hybrid of WrestleManias VI and X7, which is my way of saying it’s like X7, but with a darker lighting scheme. The atmosphere’s nice, I’ll give em that.

-The story is that WWE, at the end of the Attitude era, bottomed out with a botched WCW Invasion angle, and is now relying on a new crazy scheme: bringing back the New World Order. This is annoying to 18 year old Justin, because he doesn’t really want to live in the past, and it’s annoying to 26 year old Justin, because every time he types ‘NWO‘ in Microsoft Word, it changes it to ‘now’, and I usually forget to change it back. It’s annoying because there’s nothing ‘now’ about the New World Order.

-Here to sing “Oh Cana—“, er, nevermind, here’s Saliva to sing “Superstar”. Well, I do enjoy me some Saliva, and this was their “free” era. That’s when a band’s first one or two albums phenomenally rock your world, and then they “branch out” and listen to the corporate agents, who streamline their sound to try and make it more mainstream. Blood Stained Love Story says hi. Song goes on a bit long, but I do enjoy Josey Scott yelling “GET YOUR ASS UP OVER YOUR SHOULDERS!”. If I could contort my body like that, I’d be more popular at parties for sure.

-Nice opening video with the main event guys talking about what WrestleMania means to them. Scott Hall has comments too.

-The show kicks off, much like last year, with the Intercontinental Title match with, much like last year, William Regal defending against, much like last year, a long haired IWC idol who is apparently never pushed enough. In this case, it’s Rob Van Dam.

-Funny moment, as Regal goes for his now-trademark brass knux from the onset, and RVD kicks them out of his hand. They flew pretty far, and I wonder how long we as fans would have talked about the “fan getting hit with flying knux” story on the net had it happened.

-I remember bracing myself for the swerve in this match, since I was HYOOOOGE RVD mark and wanted so badly to see him win the IC Title, to become a “legit” contender. Now they just put the IC Title on whoever Vince has a crush on this week and the whole thing is moot. Here, Drew, looks good on ya!

-Just tremendous see-saw stuff, albeit rushed. That’s carny for “we only have, like, seven minutes, so let’s get about 40 moves in and hope that it looks good”. Don’t worry guys, it does.

-RVD tries for the catch-the-foot-throw-a-roundhouse spot, but Regal hits a SICKENING half nelson suplex that spikes RVD on his head, and Van Dam rolls to the floor awkwardly. I think we all thought RVD was dead here. That’s because we all forgot that RVD was a combination of Gumby and Drugs Delaney. He’ll be fine, just roll the man a little something something.

-Regal tries to finish with a second pair of knux, but RVD lands a roundhouse, and then lands the Five Star for his first IC Title. Hope you liked this match, because you won’t see the IC belt defended until WM25. You also won’t be seeing Regal on this tour until….well, ever. Man hasn’t had a Mania match since. What’s up with that? Seriously, great match to kick things off, though.

-Christian mocks DDP’s grin. Hey Christian, if you really wanna hit him low, you should point out how you learned to read thirty years before he did.

-After bashing Toronto to ensure that he doesn’t get cheered, Christian arrives to face Diamond Dallas Page for the WWE European Championship. The gimmicks in play here include Christian portraying a compulsive whiner prone to tantrums, and Page was a smiling motivational speaker whose smile scared children. So if you were a fan of Celebrity Deathmatch, imagine Kanye West taking on an anti-matter Matt Foley.

-Wow, JR plays the “DDP was at WrestleMania VI in this building as a limo driver” card. So when Edge watched Rhythm and Blues come out to sing, I’m sure he thought “One day, my kayfabe brother is going to fight that chauffer while I tangle with a man who sounds like Tone Loc with dreadlocks over a bottle of shampoo! Gonna be SWEET!”

-The whole point of the match is that it’s a six minute backdrop to provide Christian a chance to have a tantrum and thus validate his character. I dunno, that’s more of a Backlash-No Mercy concept, I think. I like my WrestleManias to have a little more substance. It was hard to take Christian seriously at this point anyway, since he resembled a male version of Shannon Moore.

-Christian nearly has a meltdown of Ozzie Guillen proportions after Page kicks out of the falling reverse DDT. He stops himself, but can’t stop himself from eating the Diamond Cutter for the pinfall loss. Christian finally does spaz when Page points out that he lost in front of 68,000 fans, and JR screams for someone to get Christian a diaper. No problem, unless Hulk’s being stingy with his.

-The Rock is backstage, and he abuses Jonathan Coachman into saying his prayers. Isn’t it funny how Coach is universally reviled by the majority of marks and smarks alike, yet he and Rocky among the select few on this show (excepting Trish Stratus as well) that can leave wrestling and never have to look back? Coachman’s with ESPN and likely earning in the six figures to tell us why Danica Patrick and Lebron James will always be important, and we should be proud of The Coach. He made it. So many others haven’t.

-In an odd choice for a match, Maven (of Tough Enough fame) defends the WWE Hardcore Title against Goldust. In essence, Goldust pummels Maven with weapons that have been spray painted gold (trash can, shovel, etc) until Spike Dudley runs in and steals the pin to become champion. Then Crash Holly gives chase, then Maven, then Goldust, yada yada yada.

-To waste some more time, here’s Drowning Pool to perform “Tear Away”, while, as Lillian says they “tell the story of tonight’s main event”. Like the guys who sang “Bodies” could give a damn that Chris Jericho’s limo hit a dog. For those who believe that WWE only began to insult the crowd’s intelligence recently, boy have I got news for you.

-Backstage, the Hardcore shenanigans continue, which sees Al Snow drive a go-cart into a stack of boxes that were there for some reason, and The Hurricane fly in on a rope and thrust kick Spike to win the title. Then Hurricane runs off. Because he hears sirens.

-Next we have Kurt Angle vs. Kane, which is a feud I barely remember. Angle does, however, insult the fans for the Canadian pairs skating team controversy. Angle can take any sign of the times and just roll with it for the easy cheap heat. Here’s the question: given how divided America was during the Vietnam War, if Angle had wrestled in the sixties, which side do you think he would have been more likely to antagonize? Makes you think, doesn’t it?

-Angle attacks with the ring bell! I can see Angle playing Savage, but Kane as Steamboat? A little odd, to say the least. Unless Kane was a “fire breathing dragon”.

-For a monster, Kane’s sure giving Angle a ton of offense. See, I like these matches, because the dark-side loving marks who cheer for Kane will appreciate Angle as a gut-stomping villain who can take the fight to anyone, and the smarks who revere Angle can appreciate Kane for keeping up in a good match with such a talented pro. Everyone wins.

-It’s a shame that Kane’s been reduced to being nothing more than a chubby trial horse for the kiddies on Smackdown to work their craft on. He’s keeping pace with Angle, with a minimum of hoss silliness.

-Kane tries for a chokeslam, but Angle fidgets with Kane’s mask to throw him off his game. So when Jericho did it to Rey, he’d gotten the idea from Angle. Thieves….are….HYP-o-crites…..

-After Kane kicks out of the Angle Slam, Angle tries the Ankle Lock about 400 times to no avail. Jeez, get a clue, Kurt, he’s not up for tapping tonight. Angle ultimately counters a chokeslam into an awkward cradle and pulls the ropes for a poor excuse for a pinning combo, yet he gets the win off of it. Really good match and one of Kane’s best ever, but the ending did no favors. Fun while it lasted, though.

-Instead of trying to leave the building with the Hardcore Title, Hurricane tries to hide amongst the Godfather’s ho’s. You can LEAVE, Gregory, it’s not like Bill Watts is running the show!

-Highlight package for the Undertaker vs. Ric Flair street fight, with two noticeable occurrences: one is La Resistance’s theme playing for part of the video, and the other is a fan that Ric Flair accidentally assaulted played by…..Paul London! That’s not realistic at all. He wouldn’t have been allowed into the building with after a proper cavity search.

-Flair, who has a knack for storytelling, immediately attempts to pound Taker into oblivion for attacking his son, his friend Arn Anderson, and for making him hit Paul London. London was trained by Shawn Michaels, and lord knows Flair would NEVER do anything to upset Shawn.

-It doesn’t last long, as Taker seats Flair at ringside and unleashes a nasty gusher from Ric’s forehead, just pounding the cut until it looks like Flair’s going to be emptied at any moment. Nobody can empty Flair quicker than the Internal Revenue Service, but Taker’s a close second.

-Taker punching. Taker punching. Taker punching.

-After a seesaw slugfest, Flair manages to retrieve a lead pipe from Undertaker’s motorcycle (yes, he was still a biker at this point), and bashes the Dead Man to bust him open. Well, it’s a minor wound, but Lawler still believes that Taker’s papercut is a worse gash than Ric Flair’s forehead, which looks suspiciously like a bowl of tomato soup. Lawler also believes that he could attract the same women he gets now without millions in the bank, so let’s not go and shatter his delusions.

-Ross on Lawler’s prior assessment: “Are you drunk?”. I hope he is. Gives Jake Roberts someone to play cards with.

-Arn Anderson slides in to hit Undertaker with a Spinebuster, which I marked like a mofo for, but it can’t keep Taker down. Because Undertaker is not Firebreaker Chip.

-After Taker disposes of Arn, he takes on a figure four from Flair, but he goozles his way free. Flair won’t take the Last Ride, so Taker’s all “screw it” and lands the Tombstone for the win. A damn good match that’s lost amongst the Rock/Hogan hoopla, and I loved the intensity throughout.

-Afterward, Taker raises ten fingers, one by one, on the apron to mark his milestone. Has anyone else even WON ten matches at WrestleMania, let alone in a row? I think Shawn’s won maybe 6 or 7. Good stuff.

-Booker T cuts a promo to prove his stupidity. I always liked that in WWE that we’ve never been allowed to have a black character that’s displayed a ton of intelligence and intuition, outside of maybe Faarooq in the NOD days. And yet, Vince is there to paste the Martin Luther King montage on Raw every January. Perplexing.

-Edge realizes his dream of wrestling in Skydome at a WrestleMania! YAY EDGE!

-Said dream entails of: a disinterested crowd, Edge nearly breaking his neck on a top rope hurrachanrana, a badly blown Spinarooni attempt, and a win over Booker T in a match that was contested over a bottle of shampoo. But he’ll always have a the dream.

-Here’s an idea: why not have Booker feud with Page over who brought the WCW Invasion down, then do a six man tag: Edge and the Hardyz vs. Christian and the Dudleyz, TLC for the European (if Christian has it) and Tag Team Titles? You can stick Billy and Chuck and the APA on the pre-show or something. Flows better, doesn’t it? I think so.

-Meanwhile, Mighty Molly bashes The Hurricane with a frying pan to become Hardcore Champion. What a team: devoted missionary and violent drunk. It’s like the plot of Hancock, except….somehow better?

-And now for an interesting one: Stone Cold Steve Austin takes on Scott Hall of the New World Order. Austin was none too happy about being shunted down the card to feud with a chronic drunk (oh, the irony), and actually walked out the following day, not returning for a couple weeks.

-Brutal slugfest to begin things, and Kevin Nash earns his money for the year by removing the turnbuckle pad. That was very risky of him to do, since that’s his GOOD triceps that he used.

-Austin is bumped to the outside, and has to bear the brunt of a Nash onslaught. Hit his leg, Steve, that tends to work.

-Back inside, Austin hits Hall with a spinebuster, Then he follows up with a Stunner, but Nash pulls the ref out and clobbers him. Outsiders double team and Hall gets a chair, but Austin manages to Stun both men by himself. Way to keep those nWo t-shirt sales strong, guys.

-Another ref comes in and Nash drops an elbow on him. What’s up with Nash….and doing moves and stuff? Crazy.

-Nash is lulled from ringside by the promise of free Revlon, so Austin finishes Hall off with two Stunners for the win. This did nothing for Hall, who has to be a ruthless invader, and nothing for Austin, who was proving to no longer be the main event star. Decent match, but came at a heavy price.

-This leads to the fatal fourway for the WWE World Tag Team Titles, as Billy & Chuck (pre-Rico) defend the gold against the APA, Dudley Boyz, and Hardy Boyz. As a bonus, Saliva plays the Dudz new music live, and Josey Scott gets to grind with Stacy Keibler. Lucky punk.

-Just your standard multiple team fare, without the fun of broken tables and JR freaking out. In fact, APA eats an early elimination after a 3D. Remember when Bradshaw was just midcard fodder? Shhh, no one’s supposed to know that.

-Jeff Hardy was looking AWFUL here. Imagine if Sheamus was a fifteen year old raver, and you get Jeff in 2002. Even JR has to note how sickly pale he looks. Maybe he’s a Make-a-Wish kid, because he just got to slap Stacy’s butt as she tried distracting him with a wedgie, following up by kissing her. Well, that was MY wish too.

-After D-Von crashes through a table at ringside, Bubba Ray falls victim to the Hardyz finish. The crowd’s scared that Billy & Chuck may survive with the belts. Who says Canada’s not judgmental?

-Sure enough, a Fame-Asser/belt shot combo is enough to keep Jeff down for Billy & Chuck to retain. Bland match, and the crowd wasn’t into it, other than rooting against the champs. Let’s just move on.

-So backstage, Hulk Hogan calls off the Outsiders in regards to his match, and Christian nails Molly with a door to win the Hardcore Title. Just getting these out of the way, because I’m giddy about what’s next.

-And here it is: the match that changed everything.

-WWE’s pro-youth stance was shattered on this night. All of the pandering that Vince McMahon has done from 2002 onward in regards to nostalgia acts and milking out-of-date gimmicks for all they’re worth can be traced back to this match. Hollywood Hulk Hogan vs. The Rock, in a match between a 48 year old has been who had been absent from WWE for nearly nine years, and a 29 year old man who was becoming world famous, and was a great ambassador for the industry.

-So Toronto booed the kid and cheered the old guy. But hey, didn’t we all?

-JR has the balls to call this a “mixed reaction”. JR also called the Grenada conflict “evenly matched”.

-Hogan shoves Rock down a couple of times and poses, and the crowd reaction is INSANE. My brother and I joined in as Hogan went all eighties-y on us and we marked out like we were kids. And I was 18, thus having no excuse.

-Rock comes back and takes Hogan down, and the crowd boos. No wonder Vince Carter quit on this city.

-AXE BOMBER!!!! He beat Stan Hansen with it! But Rock’s no Stan Hansen. Like Rock would ever drop a midcard title to Lex Luger.

-Hogan’s doing the most elementary of moves (abdominal stretch, backrakes, 10 punches in the corner, forehead bite) and the fans are losing their mind. I think if 70,000 fans cheered Miss Jackie vs. Trish Stratus, I could get into that, too. Not that this match here sucks or anything.

-Rock chops away, and then cups his hand to his ear to mock Hulk. Fans boo lustily. I’m enjoying myself far too much.

-Hogan chokes the #1 babyface in the world with his wristtape, and the fans begin chanting his name. Not Rock’s name, but Hulk’s name. Do you think this annoyed Rock any, or do you think he was busy trying to remember his lines for the Rundown?

-The fight spills to the floor and Hogan clears off one of the tables, but it doesn’t get used. Rock tries to use a chair, but has it taken away. I nominate this for “best alleged hardcore match in wrestling history”, next to any Steve Blackman Hardcore Title defense.

-Ref bump, and Rock takes Hogan down with a spinebuster and sharpshooter. Hogan taps, which doesn’t count. You may be noticing a trend in this era.

-HULK BOTTOM! IT GETS 2! And it’s Yappapi strap time, as both men exchange shots with the weapon. Rock gets the upper hand and hits Rock Bottom….BUT HULK KICKS OUT! HE’S HULKING UP! THIS PLACE IS INSANE! 3 PUNCHES! BIG BOOT! LEGDROP! BUT ROCK KICKS OUT! PANDEMONIUM!

-Hogan misses a second leg drop, and then Rock lands two Rock Bottoms and a People’s Elbow to win one HELL of a fun match. Afterward, Hulk shakes Rock’s hand, and the Outsiders attack Hulk for being a turncoat. After Rock and Hulk run them off, Rock has Hogan pose for the fans like old times, andwhat a moment that it was. The two men walk off together, with Hogan endorsing Rock as the modern day star. I can’t speak enough about how great this was, and I still got giddy eight years later watching it. If you haven’t seen it, do it.

-What do you mean the show’s not over?

-Crowd for X8: 68,237. Thank you, Howard Finkel (#18!)

-Now for the Women’s title match, which is just dead in the water. Jazz defends the gold against Trish Stratus and Lita. The only thing that’s notable in the early going is that Trish has a maple leaf on the back of her tights. Alright, I’m kinda interested now.

-Crowd is dead, except when Lita wrenches her knee in the turnbuckle. If they were banking on hometown girl Trish to keep the fans alive till the main event, well Jasper, they thought wrong.

-Trish goes off the apron and Jazz spikes Lita with the Jazz Stinger for the win. No offense to any of these three women, since I have no issue with any of them but…..NEXT.

-Christian tries to make his escape with the Hardcore Title, but is pinned by Maven outside, who then absconds with Christian’s ride to the hotel. Well, that was just utterly pointless, wasn’t it?

-And now, the death march commences.

-Chris Jericho defends the Undisputed Championship against Triple H. The storyline here was…..Triple H won the Royal Rumble and uhh….Chris Jericho was champion so uhh…..they have a match. Oh, and Hunter was divorcing Stephanie, and they fought for custody of the dog. So Stephanie sided with Jericho and Jericho’s limo accidentally backed over the dog. Jericho, the most important champion at the time, was also walking the dog because Stephanie told him to.

-I’m going to need a moment to re-cope with the reality of that statement.

-Drowning Pool is here to play their rendition of “The Game”. Dear Drowning Pool, you’re not Lemmy. Sincerely, everyone with taste. Dave Williams, the singer of Drowning Pool, died months later of heart failure on the band’s tour bus. Hey Marc Mero, there’s somebody you forgot to put on your “wrestling deaths” list. It’s ok, you can have this one for free.

-Oh, right, the other story is that HHH is still hurting from his prior quadriceps injury, and Jericho’s looking to exploit that. Wow, look, the first part of the main event that HASN’T annoyed me. The crowd is too dead to be annoyed. Hogan wore em out. Maybe TNA should just move to Toronto?

-Hunter slams Jericho from the top rope to ringside. Well, alright, that was cool.

-Hunter and Jericho take turns working each other’s legs, which is not really the way to go if you’re trying to resuscitate the crowd. Stephanie screeching isn’t really helping matters either.

-Jericho saves Stephanie after Hunter brought her in the ring. What he wouldn’t have gave to break character for just one second. Disappointment as a champion, eh? Poor Jericho.

-Jericho and Hunter try and re-enact the Walls of Jericho on the table spot that helped injure Hunter in the first place, but Hunter ends up going through a table instead. Well, at least the psychology is sound.

-Jericho ultimately locks in the Walls inside the ring, but Hunter avoids passing out. Triple H is a better man than us all.

-After Hunter DDT’s Jericho onto a chair, Stephanie interjects herself one time too many, and Hunter makes her eat a Pedigree in the middle of the ring. Crowd kinda cheers that one. For someone who had needed comeuppance for a long time, they can’t go crazy for that? Man, Hulk must be like roofies or something.

-Jericho tries his own Pedigree, but Hunter sends him to the buckles. Jericho’s rebound dive falls onto a kick, and Hunter spikes him with the Pedigree to win the Undisputed title. Technically, the match was pretty good, but the lack of emotion from the fans, and Hunter’s slow pace selling the injury made this hard to want to invest into. If the rumors about Jericho being buried by the office over his title reign are true, then he probably wishes he didn’t put in the effort. Not that it seemed worth it anyway. Weird end to a generally weird show.

-CYNIC SAYS: Well, forget about topping last year’s effort right off the bat. I wouldn’t say anything on this show was terrible, so let’s look for some middle ground here. Rock-Hogan is a must-see, and Taker-Flair, Angle-Kane, RVD-Regal, and Jericho-HHH I’d rank as good. Everything else is going to go based on your personal tastes. For me, too many short matches featuring good competitors.

So it’s not a bad show, by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, it was fun in a lot of parts. Sort of like an All-Star game that doesn’t quite live up to the hype: it doesn’t suck, but it was fun to see all the stars.

So let’s go with that.

Justin Henry has been an occasional contributor to Camel Clutch Blog since 2009. His other work can be found at WrestleCrap.com and ColdHardFootballFacts.com. He can be found on Twitter, so give him a follow.

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WrestleMania X8: A Portrait in Wrestling History

March 25, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

WRESTLEMANIA X8
From The SkyDome in Toronto, ON
March 17, 2002

BACKGROUND
One year after rolling the dice on a Stone Cold Steve Austin heel turn, the WWF found themselves in a rather unusual position. It had been a few years since the promotion needed to make any desperate moves or decisions, the last one being to put on a raunchier product. From there, it was smooth sailing for Vince McMahon and company, as there was no force that could trip up the surging juggernaut.

Wrestling’s popularity started to wane after WCW’s dissolution, as part of the fun for a number of fans was watching the entities compete for viewers. Interest picked up at the start of WCW‘s Invasion (spiking when ECW got involved, and The Rock returned from filming The Scorpion King), but the majority of fans were let down by the complete mismanagement of what could have been wrestling’s biggest moneymaker.

After WCW’s final ashes were shoveled away, ratings still remained an issue. Monday Night Raw dipped below 4.0 on October 22, 2001, the night after a PPV. It was the first time Raw had submerged below that level in several years.

Honestly, there was little for the WWF to worry about. Fans seemed to be burnt out on wrestling, as America can tend to get when one trend fades and a new one captures their minds, but that didn’t mean it would stay that way forever. A hot angle, a new talent, anything could jump start wrestling with volts of electricity into the business’ chest.

McMahon, however, seemed impatient. Austin was turned back face, doing increasingly silly things like fighting in churches and supermarkets to try and rekindle his bad ass image. It wasn’t working.

In a desperate move, Vince McMahon went out in January 2002 and rehired three men, one of them would change the course of WWF forever.

THE EVENT
In January 2002, after Ric Flair (now part owner of the WWF after buying Shane and Stephanie McMahon’s stock in a consortium) had thoroughly embarrassed Vince McMahon, the WWF Chairman suffered what appeared to be a psychotic breakdown. The result of his newfound disillusionment was a belief that the WWF had “terminal cancer”, and he was going to put it out of its misery before Flair or anyone else could.

To do that, he brought in the original three members of the New World Order: Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, and Hollywood Hulk Hogan.

Hulk Hogan found himself face to face with The Rock one night after No Way Out, and Rock laid down a challenge for WrestleMania X8 to determine the greatest wrestler of all time. Hogan, returning to the WWF after nine years away, accepted. Moments later, after Rock laid out Hogan with a Rock Bottom, Hall and Nash jumped the “People’s Champion”, and the nWo took turns beating him down.

After Rock was stretchered out, he was placed into an ambulance, which was then t-boned by Hogan, driving the front end of a tractor trailer.

The New World Order also turned their attention to the WWF’s other hero, Stone Cold Steve Austin. Austin took Scott Hall hostage on one episode of Raw, resulting in Hall’s humiliation at the hands of a frontline soldier that wasn’t going to back down from a siege. Hall responded by breaking a cinder block on Austin’s leg shortly thereafter.

With Rock vs. Hogan and Hall vs. Austin signed for WrestleMania, it seemed that the New World Order was overshadowing the World Title picture.

Chris Jericho would be that champion, having unified the WWF and World Heavyweight Championships at Vengeance in December, beating Rock and Austin in concurrent matches. However, despite the win, it seemed that Jericho had trouble gaining steam as champion. Other than a great match with Rock at the 2002 Royal Rumble, Jericho was often undercut as champion. He had barely beaten Rikishi and Maven (the winner of WWF’s Tough Enough) in title matches on Raw, and Jericho had only gotten 10% of the offense in a narrow win over Austin at No Way Out.

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Facing Jericho on the grandest stage was Triple H, who had returned in January eight months after a brutal quadriceps tear. Two weeks after returning, “The Game” won the 2002 Royal Rumble, last ousting Kurt Angle, and the comeback run was on.

During this time, Hunter and Stephanie McMahon had a marital falling out, including a marriage renewal gone awry days before No Way Out. Stephanie aligned with Jericho, a long time enemy, in order to stick it to her soon to be ex-husband. Jericho, sadly, was reduced to sycophantic duties, including walking the couple’s bulldog, Lucy. Jericho’s limo accidentally backed over the dog, adding an unusual layer of vengeance to an already bizarre feud.

Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler (who returned to the WWF in November) would call the action from ringside. Instead of a national anthem, Saliva opened the show with the song “Superstar”, while later playing the Dudley Boyz to the ring with their new song “Turn the Tables”. Drowning Pool performed “Tear Away”, as well as a newer rendition of Triple H’s song “The Game” for when he made his main event entrance.

THE RESULTS
WWF Intercontinental: Rob Van Dam def. William Regal in 6:19 to win the title
(Exciting and creative opener, though scary for a moment when Regal dropped Van Dam on his head with a half nelson suplex. Match was a bit more dramatic than Regal’s opener from a year earlier)

WWF European: Diamond Dallas Page def. Christian in 6:08
(The storyline of this match was that Christian was now prone to temper tantrums, complete with theatrics, when things didn’t go his way. Yeah, that’s way better than his “Captain Charisma” spiel)

WWF Hardcore: Maven went to a no contest with Goldust in 3:15
(Spike Dudley ran in and stole the pin. This would lead to Crash Holly, The Hurricane, Godfather, Al Snow, Mighty Molly, and Christian involving themselves in the 24/7 chase, with Maven yet regaining. Yay)

Kurt Angle def. Kane in 10:45
(An underrated match in WrestleMania annals, Angle and Kane worked a smart match based around Angle trying to get a submission. The crappy pinfall ending needs to be seen, however)

Editor’s Note: Reportedly Sting vs. Kurt Angle was the original plan here.

Street Fight: The Undertaker def. Ric Flair in 18:47
(Another underrated match. Flair and Taker bled buckets, Arn Anderson ran in to give Taker the spinebuster, and Taker gave Flair an old school Tombstone to win. Oh, and that’s then)

Edge def. Booker T in 6:32
(I think we can all agree that this was Edge’s worst WrestleMania match ever. It’s probably Booker’s also, until 22. You know why? THEY’RE FIGHTING OVER SHAMPOO!)

Stone Cold Steve Austin def. Scott Hall in 9:51
(Austin had no interest in trying here. Hall was dogging it less than he was, and that says something. Austin walked out for the first of two times in 2002 after this match)

WWF World Tag Team: Billy & Chuck def. The Dudley Boyz, The Hardy Boyz, and the APA in 13:50
(It bears noting that neither Dudley Boy or Jeff Hardy have ever won at WrestleMania. That said, this match sucked, except for Stacy Keibler’s self-induced wedgie. Mmmm)

The Rock def. Hollywood Hogan in 16:23
(A truly unforgettable match, and no fan who witnessed it will ever forget it. The Toronto fans turned on Rock, hailing Hogan as a prodigal hero. Hogan ran through his classic Hulkamania offense, and damn near blew the roof off the arena when he “Hulked Up” late in the match. After Rock won, Hall and Nash turned on Hogan, Rock saved, and the two posed together to deafening cheers. Unreal)

WWF Women’s: Jazz def. Lita and Trish Stratus in 6:16
(Talk about dead in the water. This match didn’t stand a chance after Hogan and Rock, which should have been the main event. At least Trish looked good in her white shorts with the red Maple Leaf)

WWF Undisputed World Championship: Triple H def. Chris Jericho in 18:41
(Speaking of dead, Jericho knew going into the match (having seen Hogan/Rock) that there was no way the fans were going to buy into his main event. The largely dead crowd barely reacted when Triple H won with the Pedigree. It was a good match, but just badly positioned)

ITS PLACE IN HISTORY

WrestleMania X8 will always be remembered for that Hogan vs. Rock classic. It’s a good thing to look back on with fondness and a twinkle in your eye, as fans of all ages were reduced to their pre-pubescent selves watching it. Wrestling became real again for over twenty minutes.

However, this is where the problem lies.

Hogan’s nostalgia act popped the crowd for weeks afterward, but the luster wore off when people realized that Hogan wasn’t Rock or anyone else in terms of being relevant, fresh, hip, or able to work the faster-paced modern WWF style.

But McMahon didn’t care.

By summer, Shawn Michaels was lured out of retirement, although he proved to still be an excellent performer. Over the next several years, WWF (soon to be WWE) juxtaposed nostalgia acts who were guaranteed to pop the audience with time-tested routines, with newcomers fresh from the development territories with no personalities, that had no chance of getting over.

It became a self-defeating system, one that WWE relied on as a lazy fail-safe. As long as Hulk Hogan, and others, kept coming back for a payday in exchange for a time-warp moment, the desire to build new stars took a backseat.

Justin Henry has been an occasional contributor to Camel Clutch Blog since 2009. His other work can be found at WrestleCrap.com and ColdHardFootballFacts.com. He can be found on Twitter, so give him a follow.

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WWE Flashback: WrestleMania X8 – Downtown With Darsie

March 25, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Sunday, March 17th, 2002 – SkyDome – Toronto, Canada – The last WrestleMania under the “World Wrestling Federation” banner and the second WrestleMania to head outside of the United States! At this Mania card, we see Chris Jericho defending his Undisputed WWF Championship against the returning Triple H, as well as Icon versus Icon when the Rock does battle with “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan, and the “Nature Boy” Ric Flair faces the Dead Man, the Undertaker!

The show opened with Saliva doing one of this year’s theme songs, “Superstar.” I miss the WWE going away from bringing in live bands performing a song or two at WrestleMania. I know it’s frustrating for me trying to pay attention to the music video for it and the camera men go back and forth on showing the band with the titan tron and panning the fans.

But besides my short rant, I do feel like “Superstar” by Saliva does fit perfectly for WrestleMania, any WrestleMania for that fact.

After Saliva got done, they showed a video package hearing from guys like Undertaker, Ric Flair, Triple H, and Chris Jericho talking about what WrestleMania means to them.

Jim Ross welcomes us to WrestleMania X8! Thanks JR! Jerry “the King” Lawler joins JR at the English announcer’s booth! The greatest tag team at the annoucer’s table!

WWF Intercontinental Championship match: Rob Van Dam versus William Regal (champ)

Within a couple of minutes, Regal put a pair of brass knuckles on his hand and RVD kicked them off of his hand.

RVD missed with a 5 Star Frog Splash and Regal hit the running knee and only got a near fall.

Out of the three PPV matches that Regal has had so far in 2002, this is his best. Nothing against Edge, but Regal’s wrestling style fits a lot better with RVD. It could also be the WrestleMania feel in the crowd, but I believe Regal hits better wrestling RVD.

At the end, RVD hit the 5 Star and became the Intercontinental Champion for the first time on his WrestleMania debut!

Superstar of the match: William Regal, for putting over RVD.

Lilian interviews Christian about his match against DDP for the WWF European Championship. Christian turned on DDP because he didn’t need him after getting back on his winning way. He also said that he became a better man when he left this town (Toronto) and moved down to Florida.

WWF European Championship match: Christian versus Diamond Dallas Page (champ)

Christian is hailing from Tampa, Florida, just to get more heat from the crowd.

Another thing I just realized, just like RVD, this is DDP’s first WrestleMania where he’s having his first wrestling match. His first Mania was at Mania 6 where he drove Rhythm and Blues (Honky Tonk Man and Greg Valentine) in a pink Cadillac.

DDP almost countered the Imprettier with the Diamond Cutter, but Christian countered that. So, yes, a double counter.

Shortly after, DDP hit his Diamond Cutter, and retaining his European title, and making his debut at Mania a success. He grabbed a mic and said that it wasn’t a bad thing that he won, that it was a good thing!

Superstar of the match: DDP’s smile, because it’s a good thing! And thinking of it, DDP made Christian feel the BANG!

The Coach interviewed the Rock, saying that tonight’s the biggest night in his career and his biggest match of his career. The Rock stopped the Coach, and you could hear faint “Hogan” chants. The Rock asked the Coach if he took his vitamins, if he said his prayers, and teased him up and down for taking his vitamins but getting too busy for saying his prayers! Rock asked the Hulkster what he’s gonna do when the Rock runs wild on him.

WWF Hardcore Championship match: Goldust versus Maven (champ)

Remember: this was still when the Hardcore title was under the 24/7 rule, so this might not be much of a review of a match.

Another odd fact: this is Maven’s first WrestleMania match. First three matches at Mania we see three men debuting at Mania.

There are two golden trash cans and a golden shovel that Goldust brought in to use against Maven. How golden does it mean to Goldust to win the Hardcore title.

After both men hit each other win a trash can lid, Spike Dudley ran out and pinned Maven and won the title!

Superstar of the match: Spike Dudley for being smart. Yup.

Drowning Pool preformed “Tearing Away” for the Undisputed WWF Championship match. Honestly, this drives me nuts on when they’re doing this music video and band performance. I feel like they should have done this for the main event. Granted Drowning Pool also preformed Triple H’s theme song, but it would be even more hardcore metal if they would have done two back-to-back songs right away at WrestleMania!

Crash Holly is beating on the new Hardcore Champion Spike Dudley in back and only got a two-count. Al Snow drove a golf cart and ran into some boxes. That would be fun to do. The Hurricane flew in and took out Spike and won the Hardcore title.

Kurt Angle versus Kane

Kurt grabbed a mic and said that if he would have won his gold medal like how Canada’s skaters won theirs, he’d want to show himself in the head. He didn’t have to whine to get his medal, he earned it.

Angle nailed Kane in the head with the ring bell before the bell rang. I guess it’s legal because the bell couldn’t have been rung before Kurt did that.

Angle hit an overhead belly-to-belly suplex onto Kane. That was super impressive that Kurt hit that.

Kurt also hit three consecutive rolling German suplexes. It’s weird seeing someone do that to a man the size of Kane.

Kane nailed the Chokeslam onto Angle and would have got the three count if he didn’t pin Angle right by the ropes. Kurt grabbed the bottom rope.

Within a minute, Angle hit the Angle Slam and only got a two. Kurt got angry and slapped on the ankle lock.

Kane was on top rope about to hit Angle with a top rope suplex, Angle ran up and suplexed Kane from the top rope to the mat. Angle tried with another Angle Slam, Kane countered, Angle countered Kane, rolled him up, had his feet on the ropes, and won.

Superstar of the match: Kurt Angle for outsmarting the Big Red Machine.

The Hurricane was walking around backstage and found himself in the women’s locker room. It was the Godfather’s ladies room. He ran the Hurricane out. I guess the Ho’s don’t want the Eye of the Hurricane and the Godfather doesn’t want to get hardcore with the Hardcore title.

The Undertaker versus Ric Flair

The Undertaker had to attack Arn Anderson, Ric Flair’s best friend, and David Flair, one of Flair’s sons, just to get a match with Flair at WrestleMania X8! The song playing for the video package is Renee Dupree’s theme song when he came to the WWE! Due to Ric Flair being the “co-owner” of the WWF, and competing at Mania, he got is “rights” revoked and full power given to Mr. McMahon. Vince made Flair versus Undertaker a no disqualification match.

I really like this “version” of the Undertaker, the “Biker Taker,” because it’s a version of the Dead Man where we could relate to the most. I know most people like the vintage character of the Undertaker, and that’s fine, but me personally, I enjoyed the “Biker Taker” years of the Dead Man’s career.

The fight went all the way to JR and the King within the first 90 seconds of the match, with Flair mounting the Dead Man and punching his face with the “Nature Boy” fists.

Undertaker yelled out: “We’re going to school!” But wait a second, isn’t Flair known as the “Dirtiest Player in the Game”? Wouldn’t that implied he knows what to do to get a passing grade in school, by going behind the teacher’s back?

The Undertaker hit Flair with a top-rope suplex and could have got the victory but pulled Flair up at two, just to dish out more pain to the “co-owner” of the World Wrestling Federation.

The Dead Man tried to hit the Nature Boy with Old School, but Flair pulled him off of the top turnbuckle. There is another move where I find strange for the Undertaker hitting on Flair because of the name. Flair’s been in the business longer than the Undertaker and Taker’s hitting Flair with Old School?

Ric Flair took the lead pipe that was in the Undertaker’s bike (see my WWE No Way Out 2002 review) and nailed the Undertaker with it across the forehead on the outside of the ring.

Flair hit a low blow and slapped on the Figure Four Leg Lock onto the Undertaker. The Dead Man’s screaming in pain, and the King said that it’s strange to hear him yell in pain. The Undertaker got out my chocking Flair and hitting the chokeslam. Only a near fall and the Undertaker’s surprised that Flair isn’t done due to the pain.

Arn Anderson came in and hit the Undertaker with a spinebuster. Flair tried to cover him to get the victory, but only got a two count. The Undertaker found Double A and started to do a number on him. Undertaker slapped on the Dragon Sleeper and Flair grabbed a chair and started to do a number to his back. Taker countered with a boot to the face of Nature Boy.

The Undertaker tried to give Flair a Last Ride but Flair couldn’t help to get up all the way, so the Undertaker hit him with a Tombstone Piledriver to become 10-0 at WrestleMania! That spot wasn’t that bad, because they made it a smooth transition into the Tombstone.

Superstar of the match: Double A’s spinebuster!

Michael Cole interviewed Booker T and said that Edge was questioning Booker T’s intelligence. Booker T said he’s smart for wearing glasses. Booker said that Edge isn’t better than him or smarter than him. Booker said he’ll beat Edge.

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Booker T versus Edge

Booker’s a former five-time WCW champion and a ten time tag team champion. Edge, at this moment, doesn’t have those kinds of title wins under his belt.

Hey, look! Teddy Long’s the ref for this match! Go Smackdown!

Here is another person, Booker T making his debut at WrestleMania.

To be honest, I’m starting to feel like this match, so far at WrestleMania X8, might be the worst match of the card. As you can tell, there isn’t much in this match where I feel like there’s much to mention. It might be because this match is right after the awesome Ric Flair/Undertaker match, and giving it some thought, I think that might be the reason why.

Edge won with the DDT.

Superstar of the match: Teddy Long, because he’s done it all in the business.

The Hurricane is in the parking garage and the Coach tried to interview him. The Hurricane said he isn’t a perv, and Molly Holly used a skillet to knock out the Hurricane and became the new Hardcore champ! Go Mighty Molly!

Stone Cold Steve Austin versus Scott Hall

It all started the month before at No Way Out 2002 where the nWo cost Stone Cold Steve Austin the Undisputed WWF Championship against Chris Jericho. I remember the nWo trying to offer Steve Austin a 6-pack of beer but he throwing it over his shoulder saying he wasn’t thirsty. There was some great comedy there.

I’m happy that Tim White’s the ref in this match. Tim White’s one of my favorite referee’s during this period in the World Wrestling Federation.

Steve Austin started the match before Scott Hall was able to take off his nWo vest.

Kevin Nash took off the top turnbuckle pad from the outside and Hall countered Stone Cold with a Irish whip into the exposed buckle.

Austin hit the Stone Cold Stunner on Hall and got the two then Kevin Nash pulled the ref out of the ring and took him out. After, Nash came in and took out Austin. Nash put Austin in a full nelson and Hall grabbed a chair. Austin hit Nash with a low blow and gave both Hall and Nash Stunners and this was the second time he should have got the victory. Nash took out the new ref (Jack Doan).

About five refs came out and ejected Nash from ringside.

Hall hit Austin with a Stunner and only got a two. Hall tried again but Austin pushed Hall into the exposed turnbuckle and hit him with two Stunners and picked up another victory at WrestleMania X8!

Superstar of the match: Tim White, with all the bumps he took in the match, he deserves it.

We see a video package of WWF Excess. The backstage interaction for the fans of the WWF who went to WrestleMania X8 is shown. If I ever go, I’d love to meet the Undertaker and Chris Jericho at one of those events. I’d love to get their autograph and get my picture taken with them. I’ve been vocal about being a huge Jericholic but I’m a huge Undertaker fan as well. I know with his character these days he won’t be at one of those events, which is super sad, but if I could, I’d love to shake his hand, get his autograph, and get my picture taken with him. He’s a true legend in the business.

Four Corners Elimination match for the WWF Tag Team Championship: Dudley Boys versus APA versus the Hardy Boys versus Billy and Chuck (champs)

The Dudleys had Saliva sing them down to the ring.

I always enjoyed Billy and Chuck’s theme song. I did because I feel like it was a spoof off of the boy bands that were huge around this time.

Right when JBL hit Billy with the Clothesline from Hell, the Dudleys hit him with the 3D and got eliminated. DAMN!

One thing I can’t figure out is why the Hardy Boys always take their shirts off and why the crowd cheers. Shouldn’t the men boo them because their girlfriends or wives or daughters are lusting over the Hardys? I know if I had any of them when the Hardys were huge, I would totally had them look the other way, or change the channel when the Hardys are on.

Bubba got eliminated when Matt hit him with the Twist of Fate and Jeff hit him with the Swanton Bomb. Poor Dudleys. Pack up your bags and head down to Orlando, you’ll find work there.

Billy grabbed one of the tag title belts and nailed Jeff and Chuck picked up the victory! YES!

Superstar of the match: Billy and Chuck’s theme song!

Scott Hall is venting to Kevin Nash, saying that Stone Cold got lucky. Nash said that the Rock won’t get lucky either. Hogan came up and said that he needs to do this by himself and needs to prove to himself that he’s the better man over the Rock.

Molly is trying to get out and got nailed by the top half of the door, and Christian pinned her and became the new Hardcore champion!

“Hollywood” Hulk Hogan versus the Rock

When the nWo theme started to play, the crowd went wild! The crowd went even louder when the Hulkster walked through the certain.

The match started with a tie-up and Hogan out-powered Rock and shoved him down and posed. The crowed popped even louder than when Hogan came out!

With the ref down, Rock slapped on the sharpshooter on Hogan and Hogan got to the ropes, but the Rock pulled him back to the middle of the ring, and then Hogan started to tap out. The Rock let go of the move to check the ref, and came back to Hogan and got low blowed and got nailed by the Rock Bottom and Hogan only got a two-count.

The Rock hit the Rock Bottom on Hogan and got a two-count, then the Hulkster Hulked Up. After a Big Boot and the Leg Drop, the Rock kicked out and Hogan doesn’t know what he needs to do to the Rock to defeat him. Hogan got another Big Boot but Rock moved to miss the Leg Drop and gave Hogan a Rock Bottom. The crowd boos. Suck it fans! Rock picks Hogan back up and hits him with another Rock Bottom. Nip up and the Rock connects with the People’s Elbow and the Rock wins it!

Superstar of the match: the fans!

After Hogan got up to his feet, he extended his hand and shook hands with the Rock.

Hall and Nash came out and attacked Hogan for losing to the Rock and not letting them come out to help Hogan against the Rock. The Rock came back and defended Hogan. Hogan and the Rock cleaned house against Hall and Nash.

The Rock stopped Hogan on leaving and asked him to pose for the crowd.

The Fink announces that they set a record of 68,237 people in the SkyDome! Wooo!

Women’s Championship match: Jazz (champ) versus Lita versus Trish Stratus

Probably the highlight of the match is how dead the crowd is compared to the match we seen before this wit Hogan/Rock. It seems like the crowd burnt themselves out with that match.

Jazz also hit the Fisherman Suplex on Lita off the second rope and got the victory and retained her title.

Superstar of the match: the bathroom, because this was a good bathroom break match.

Christian tried to leave the SkyDome but Maven school boyed him and became the Hardcore champion and took his cab! This is the second time Christian threw a temper tantrum.

Undisputed World Wrestling Federation Championship match: Triple H versus Chris Jericho (champ)

Drowning Pool preformed Triple H’s theme song from the WWF Forceable Entry album that came out not that long before Mania 2002. This is the second back-to-back Mania where Triple H had a band sing him out to the ring. The year before, WrestleMania X7, Motorhead brought out Triple H when he fought the Undertaker down in Houston.

Walking into WrestleMania X8 as the first Undisputed World Wrestling Federation Champion, for me this has to be one of Chris Jericho’s highlights in his wrestling career. Walking into a WrestleMania in Canada in the main event spot as World Champion must be huge.

We’re told that Triple H’s quad is being held by a wire. The announcers are trying to put an ounce of doubt in our mind that Triple H might not last the whole match, giving Jericho a heads in the match. If they wanted to give Jericho a strong push into WrestleMaina, they should have had him go clean over the Rock at the Rumble and Austin at No Way Out.

You know, I always wondered why they made Jericho carry around the WCW and WWF titles when he was the Undisputed Champion, especially when within two weeks of being champion, they made a new title for Triple H, not having him carry around both belts. I find that as a joke.

Jericho put Triple H up on the English Announcers table to slap on the Walls but Triple H got put, then Triple H tried to hit the Pedigree but Jericho backdropped the challenger through the Spanish Announcers table. Jericho put the Game back in the ring and hit the Lionsault and only got a two-count. That really blows.

Shortly thereafter, Triple H was turned to his belly and Jericho clamped on the Walls of Jericho! Earl Hebner checked Triple H’s arm and it only fell twice. Stupid Triple H. He got to the ropes and Hebner was forced to make Chris Jericho let go of the hold.

In the end, Triple H hit the pedigree and won the title. Yeah. JR put Triple H over. My emotions aren’t

Superstar of the match: Chris Jericho for his title reign coming to an end and having to put Triple H over after coming back from an injury.

This was a decent WrestleMania. The Taker/Flair, Hogan/Rock, and HHH/Jericho matches are matches that I would suggest if you never watched this Mania before. But if you have about four hours you’re wanting to waist, check out the whole WrestleMania X8 card. I thought the whole thing was pretty awesome for a WrestleMania, especially coming off of the year before WrestleMania.

WWE WrestleMania – The Complete Anthology 1985-2006

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WWE WrestleMania X-Seven: Simply The Best

March 24, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

-For the remaining nine reviews, since they’re all 4 hours (and one is 5), I’ll be chopping out a little bit of quantity to make it my standard 4000+ word format. Which is a shame because for this show, I want to rant forever.

-Who was the April Fool on April 1, 2001 as we come to you from the Reliant Astrodome in Houston, TX for WWE WrestleMania X-Seven? Well, Vince had just bought WCW so they were finished, and ECW was days away from its bankruptcy hearing, so the biggest non-fool was Vince. Wait, why am I wasting time? I only have 4000 words to tell you that this is the greatest wrestling show in the history of time, so let’s just do it!

-Your hosts are Jim Ross and Paul Heyman, who had taken over for Jerry Lawler one month prior when Lawler quit the company. He quit in protest because WWE fired his girlfriend, the one who three months later ran off with an indie guy and publically disgraced “The King”. Boy, you can imagine THAT was embarrassing.

-No America the Beautiful or national anthem. Given the events that occurred five months later, do you really think WWE is a patriotic company, or just cashing in on jingoistic trends? You can guess my point of view.

-We start with the IC Title match, as Chris Jericho defends against then-commissioner William Regal. Jericho besmirched Regal by peeing in his tea, so Regal besmirched him back by kicking the snot out of him. That’s exactly how Magnum TA and Tully Blanchard got started.

-I miss the days before Regal discovered tanning, when every babyface opponent he had would light him up with chops just to redden his chest. Hunter can try that now with Sheamus, to see if the chest will match the hair.

-A lot of fan pinfall attempts, which leads one to think that this isn’t going to be a very long match. Everybody get your stuff in now!

-Regal slams Jericho into the exposed turnbuckle a couple of times, but Jericho basically shakes the pain off and hits the run-up enzuigiri. Of the eleven matches on this card, I think this is definitely the best opener choice. You can cut it short, and nobody gets upset about it. It’s also two pros that can bring the massive crowd to life in the early going, so good choices all around.

-Jericho lands a lionsault and remembers that his shoulder’s supposed to be hurt before covering Regal to keep the gold. Good seven minute opener that did what it had to do, and we’re off to a good start.

-Shane McMahon arrives in a limo. Forget Triple H and Stephanie, is Shane the biggest Jericho hater in the McMahon army? He can’t even show up in time for his match on the biggest night of the year, and he owns STOCK in the company!

-Next up, in a moderate “Get everybody on the show” attraction, Tazz and the APA take on Right to Censor members Val Venis, The Goodfather, and Bull Buchanan. Remember when Bradshaw used to have to get heat with his patriotic Texas boy suck-up rants? He has to namedrop Nolan Ryan here to get the crowd behind him, even though he’s fighting three tools in dress clothes who want to get rid of sex and violence. Tough times for JBL.

-Match is basically just an exhibition to keep the crowd noise on life support as we progress into the bigger matches. The only real spot of note is Tazz missing the top rope on a whip because he’s about 4’7”. Tazz can speak in that angry voice all he wants, but I still laughed.

-Bradshaw finishes a quick one with the Clothesline From Hell on Goodfather. At least the faces won, which keeps the fans happy. Can you believe that on the face team, you have a WWE Champion, WCW Champion, and ECW Champion? I couldn’t believe it either.

-Just a quick side note: the greatest character in wrestling history is comatose Linda McMahon. Seriously, she’s so lifeless, how does she DO it? Oh, that’s just how she really is?

-To give the crowd a violence appetizer before TLC later, Raven defends the Hardcore Title against Kane and Big Show. This is notable because Show’s late getting to the ring, and JR goes on a worked-shoot tangent about how Show can’t make a living off of potential, that he has to get it done in the ring. Man, when a guy who’s known for making barbecue references in every third sentence calls you a lazy mook, then maybe you should get ye a treadmill.

-After brawling backstage through the sea of people, Kane and Raven keep the tempo alive while Show sulks behind. Alright, JR, you were right.

-Show tries to lock himself and Raven in an enclosure, but Kane just rips the door off. Hey Show, if Kane can tear off the Hell in a Cell door, this should be a cinch. For a bonus, Kane throws Raven through a window. That’s enough to earn Kane the Mike Mizanin “I Came to Play” award.

-Then comes the golf cart chase, as Raven tries to drive off and he and Show barrel into the chain link fence, then Kane follows with the referee and proves to be a smooth driver, not unlike Mike Myers in the original Halloween. Then he runs over Raven’s leg. Well, ouch.

-Finally, Raven gets put out of his misery when the fight spills back onto the stage, and Kane kicks him and Show off through a side platform. Then Kane leaps off and covers Show for the win and the title. It seemed like it was just going to be filler at first, but it turned into quite the exciting little match. I enjoyed it.

-Kurt Angle’s too busy watching a match with he and Chris Benoit to have seen Raven’s effort in the last match. Well, that’s just selfish. Also, The Rock arrives now, just to spite the undercard. Screw Bull Buchanan, who’d he ever beat?

-Up next is the European Title, as Test defends against Eddie Guerrero. Hoo boy, is this match just plain creepy now. At least Perry Saturn’s hat cheers me up.

-Eddie does what he does best, and he sells for Test and his power display. Question: Why do we refer to Eddie Guerrero as “Eddie” but Chris Benoit as “Benoit”? Is it because “Guerrero” is too complicated to spell for some people? It’s a surname, for chrissakes, let’s just learn it. GUERRERO does what he does best. There, I broke the habit.

-Now to spice things up a bit, Test gets his ankle caught in the ropes, and they have to spend 60 seconds figuring out how to free him, getting a big ovation when they finally do. It’s the biggest pop Test got post-1999, so it’s definitely a banner night for all.

-Dean Malenko runs out to speed things things along, since he wants to see the Benoit/Angle match, so he helps Saturn distract Test, allowing Guerrero to hit Test with the European title for the win and the gold. Decent match, but just was there to get everyone involved. First heel win of the night.

-Mick Foley promises to call tonight’s Vince and Shane match right down the middle. Yeah, like Mick has a reason to be biased against Vince.

-Now for something a little more serious: Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit in a straight up one on one match. This is the first time in WWE history that I can recall two men doing the mat-wrestling stalemate sequence to begin a match, and getting a tremendous ovation for it. I like the story here, as Benoit keeps scaring Angle with the Crossface, and Kurt’s nerves lead to him falling into other Benoit moves. The psychology’s always sound with these two.

-Angle takes control, dominating Benoit on the outside and then pummeling him with suplexes inside. They were really beginning to get Angle over as a mat machine, you know, before he and Austin became unlikely best friends. Badges?

-Angle gets his belly to belly suplexes, and Benoit comes back with the rolling Germans. I think we have the first match of the night candidate. Sorry, Raven and Jericho, you’re out of the running.

-Now for a staple of WWE at the time: mind-screw submission holds, as Benoit applies Angle’s own anklelock, and Angle manages to get his own version of the Crossface. Crowd’s enjoying themselves too. Maybe there’s hope for Daniel Bryan yet.

-After a ref bump, Benoit gets Angle in his own Crossface, and Angle of course taps without an official. Story of Benoit’s life. As Benoit goes to maybe blow a snot rocket on the dead ref, Angle gets an Angle Slam for 2. After Benoit gets the diving headbutt, but when Benoit tries for a German, Angle goes low and gets a complicated rollover to win. Great match, and it told the characters’ stories to a tee: one is great, but the other is greater when he cheats. I’m enjoying myself all over again.

-Psuedo intermission segment where the following happens: Kamala destroys Regal’s office, footage is shown at the Fort Hood rally (RIP to those who perished in the recent shooting), and Benoit beats up Angle backstage and makes him tap.

-Ivory defends the Women’s title against Chyna, and since I have disdain for both performers, let’s just say that Chyna dresses like some demented version of a Bratz doll and beats Ivory in three minutes to win the title. Remember when Chyna said that belt was beneath her? So do I. She’d be gone within months to realize her true calling: incomprehensible walking meltdown for the Howard Stern fringe crowd. Always good to see someone realize their potential.

-Vince promises that tonight, we’re going to get “shocking”. I hate it when he promises surprises. He’d be a great evil dad in horror movies, though. “You wanna go for a ride? I’ll take you….for a ride….heh heh heh heh….”

-So it’s Vince and Shane in a street fight, which began when Shane defended Linda’s honor after Vince cheated on her publicly with Trish. Stephanie sided with Vince because of the whole Elektra complex. Shane then bought WCW before his dad could, just to show that he could run something as doomed to fail as the XFL. Foley’s the ref, just because. Linda’s in a wheelchair doing her best acting over. Trish is here too. Got all that?

-Shane gives a shoutout to his WCW homies in the skybox. LANCE STORM! HE FINALLY MADE IT TO WrestleMania! I wonder if he’s writing down notes on how horrible this show is. He’s like Comic Book Guy with a six pack.

-The brawl spills to the floor, where Shane bashes his dead with a metal sign, and then some SICK shots with a kendo stick that was under the ring. Good God, can Vince take a beating or what? Say what you will, but in these matches, he seems to have some sort of endurance level that can’t be obtained by mere mortals. I mean, Shane is just PASTING him, not even holding back. I’m loving it.

-Know who’s needed in the skybox? Ted Turner, just so he can mark out TOO hard when Shane beats his dad with assorted weapons. That would be a hallmark moment.
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-By the way, Heyman’s unabashed devotion to cheering Vince is insanely funny, and it sounds like the ranting of someone who desperately needs money. Funny because it’s true.

-So Shane wipes out through the Spanish commentary table as Stephanie pulls her dad off of it. Shane gets to play dead for the next five minutes or so as Trish brings Linda out in the wheelchair. Now comes the fun stuff.

-Trish slaps Vince to signal a face turn, and then she and Stephanie get into a fun catfight that Foley tries to break up. Scrooge. Trish finally chases Steph to the locker room, and that’s when Vince spots Linda at ringside. His mouthing of a certain obscenity is a great moment.

-Vince smashes Mick with a chair as Foley tries to get Linda to safety. He brings Linda inside and sits her in the corner, so she can watch as he punishes Shane further. After landing a couple trash can shots, Vince gets cocky before doing the third, and is oblivious to Linda standing up (to a CRAZY pop). Vince turns and she kicks him right in the Genetic Jackhammer. Then Foley beats Vince up, and then Shane lands the Shane Terminator (corner to corner dropkick, into a trash can into Vince’s face) for the win. THIS is the template for “overbooked crap” that we need more of. Just insanely fun stuff, and it still holds up even today. Hell, the whole SHOW is holding up.

-Backstage, Undertaker warms up for his eventual match by shadow boxing. That’ll work off the pork rinds if you do enough of them.

-In case that the last match wasn’t enough of an insane spotfest, here’s something to take things up another notch: the Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match between Tag Team Champions The Dudley Boyz, The Hardy Boyz, and Edge and Christian. Difference between this and last year is that this year, there’s no crappy show to have to kick into high gear.

-Much like last year, they get the poetry in motion and the Wazzzzzup drops out of the way, just to get to the bigger stuff in a flurry. I wholeheartedly support this idea.

-Here’s a sick one for you: both Hardyz slide into a ladder, knocking the Dudleyz against the guardrail. I have to say, the dark sky peeking in through the dome makes it feel like that this match is taking place at WrestleMania VI. I’d love to see the Rockers, Harts, and Demolition in one of these matches. Crap, I just blew my own mind.

-“D-VON…..GET THE TABLES!” And with that, a two wide, two high stack of four tables is set up in the aisleway. Anyone else think they’ll get used? I do.

-And just like last year, all six men climb a set of three ladders for a race-spot, and all six men tumble off in painful fashion. It was times like this when WWE really knew their audience.

-To add a new wrinkle to this year’s match, all three teams have an ally that makes his or her presence felt. As Edge climbs to get the belts, Spike Dudley runs in and nails him with the Dudley Dog. After Spike gives Christian one as well, Rhyno comes in and accosts Jeff Hardy on behalf of E&C. Then Edge tries going up again, and Lita runs in to pull him down. Jim Ross utters “Lita….jerkin’ Edge off” and then pauses before saying “the ladder!”. I’m immature, I know, but what are you going to do about it?

-Lita creams Spike with a sickening chair shot and then removes her top, just get hit with 3D. Anybody else miss her protruding thong?

-Jeff decides that now is a good time to be insane, as he uses the painter’s ladder to Swanton off and put Rhyno and Spike through at ringside. That whacky Jeff, always living for the moment.

-Then with Bubba and Matt on another painter’s ladder, Rhyno shoves it, sending both men flying through the table tower in the aisle in what I feel is the greatest table bump EVER. Prove me wrong, readers.

-Finally, Edge prevents D-Von from climbing, and Rhyno lifts Christian in an electric chair lift, pushing him up the ladder so that he can grab the belts for the win. Off the charts insanity that topped last year’s match, and the truncated length definitely helped. Great effort from everyone involved.

-Howard Finkel (#17!) announces the crowd at 67,925 which makes me feel all nostalgic for 1990 and WrestleMania VI. Then Limp Bizkit’s “My Way” plays. Well, that ruined the feeling. Still, it’s Fred Durst’s best song, so huzzah.

-And now for the gimmick battle royal, with Mean Gene Okerlund and Bobby Heenan returning to do commentary. The participants are The Bushwhackers, Duke Droese, Iron Sheik, Earthquake, Doink, The Goon, Kamala, Kim Chee, Repo Man, Jim Cornette, Nikolai Volkoff, Michael PS Hayes, One Man Gang, Gobbeldy Gooker, Tugboat, Hillbilly Jim, Brother Love, and Sgt. Slaughter. Somewhere, RD Reynolds had a tear in his eye. And it wasn’t because he knew he’d one day employ Blade Braxton.

-What follows is three minutes of bad brawling, but who cares? It was FUN. Sheik finally wins it after dumping Hillbilly, and then Slaughter runs in to apply the Cobra Clutch on the winner. Watch out Slaughter, he’ll do a Youtube shoot on you for that one.

-Hooray for the patron saint of camelclutchblog.com. YOU VILL BE HUM-BELLED!

-MOTORHEAD! Sure, Lemmy can’t do the words to Triple H‘s theme right, but it’s ok. Chill-inducing rendition of “The Game”, as we lead into the semi-main event of The Undertaker and Triple H, streak vs. nostrils. The feud featured Hunter’s most bad ass moment ever, when he took Taker down backstage, put a chair over his throat, and then sat on it while taunting him. Good stuff.

-Spanish announce table #2 goes in a hurry, thanks to HHH. Good to see Hunter keep his dad-in-law’s pro American stance alive.

-Back inside, after a SMALL ref bump, Taker is pissed when Mike Chioda counts slow, so Taker simply destroys him and knocks him out. With an elbow drop. For 10 minutes. If you heard two sounds of gunfire at this point, that was tranq darts being fired at Cornette backstage and Storm in the skybox. Just shut up, you two.

-The two men then brawl through the crowd and over to the production tower, which is a unique situation for a wrestling match. The two men fight in there, and Undertaker proceeds to chokeslam him out of it. SICKNESS! Well, until they show the replay, where Hunter landed on about 7 feet of padded foam. Eh well, looked nice at first.

-Back to the ring after the extended crowd brawl, and Chioda is still out. That was some elbow drop.

-After some tomfoolery with the sledgehammer, Taker is unable to connect after a low blow. Then to get all nostalgic, Taker lands a tombstone for 2. CHIODA’S ALIVE! I’m relieved.

-Taker then tries for the Last Ride, but Hunter grabs the sledge and bashed the Dead Man’s scalp on the way up. He busts him open, but it only gets 2. Hunter then tries to punch Taker in the corner, but puts himself in position for his Last Ride to make Taker 9-0. Really great brawl, as you’d expect from these two. Ten matches in, and I haven’t even stopped for a piss break. And I’m watching this at 11 PM at night, with work the next day at 1 PM. Ya rly!

-Austin-Rock highlight package set to “My Way”. Austin said he HAD to win this match. Question is, just what will Austin do to ensure victory?

-Crowd is 80-20 in favor of Steve Austin, who is the home state hero. The Rock was the WWE Champion, and you wondered how they were going to end this. I’ll bet nobody watching guessed it right.

-Finkel did announce that it was no DQ, which is apparently shocking. You mean after a match where Taker flagrantly beats up the referee, they just threw the rulebook out? Absurd!

-Both men slug it out early and they bust out the classic moves, namely Austin with his Thesz press and middle finger elbow. You can sense the desperation from Austin here.

-They brawl into the crowd, like everyone else has done tonight. I think even Finkel and timekeeper Mark Yeaton went over the railing at one point.

-Austin dominates in the early going, which is consistent with the “I need to win” motif that he has, believing that it’s all over for himself if he loses. It’s those subtle character hints that WWE does better than anyone else. Are you listening, Dixie?

-Austin gets a superplex for 2 and then removes the turnbuckle pad, but Rock comes back to shift the momentum. They fight to the outside and Austin busts him open with the ringbell. Austin’s not going down without a fight.

-Austin works the cut as much as he can, and brings Rock back in to try and bash him into the exposed buckle, but Rock blocks and fires with lefts and rights to stop Austin in his tracks. After the two men jostle for control, it’s Austin who, ironically, eats the steel buckle. Then Rock repays him by waffling him with the ring bell. Tremendous, cerebral stuff, with a big time feel.

-With Austin now bleeding and Rocky now firmly in charge, the champ works the open cut and both men are fighting to stay alive. On the outside, Austin shifts the momentum yet again and slingshots Rock into the post, before bashing him with a TV monitor. At this point, the eventual winner was still not evident.

-Austin tries for a Stunner, but Rock takes him down and slaps on the sharpshooter. Reminiscent of four years earlier, Austin is bloodied, but will not give up. Austin uses the ropes for escape, and then wraps Rock up with his own Sharpshooter. The implied one-upsmanship on display here is incredible, and is a testament to both’s men abilities.

-Austin manages to get a Million Dollar Dream, but Rock uses the Bret Hart pushoff counter to get 2. Then Vince McMahon comes to ringside. But….but why?

-Rock takes down Austin with a spinebuster and then lands the People’s Elbow, but it only gets 2 when….Vince breaks up the pin? This was all so fresh and baffling. Why would Vince be helping Austin in the World Title match?

-Then after Austin lands a Rock Bottom on its owner, he gets 2, and then gives Rock an emphatic low blow. Then Austin….requests a chair from Vince? Vince….obliges?

-From here, Austin and Vince proceed to double team Rock in a truly surreal sequence. After Rock manages a kickout, he gives Austin a Rock Bottom, but Vince prevents a count. Rock pulls Vince into the ring, but Austin stuns Rock, getting only 2! AMAZING.

-Now we get the big finish: Austin destroys Rock with chair shot after chair shot while Vince barks out encouragement. In all, Rock takes about two dozen chair shots to the chest, gut, back, and hips as his body just simply gives out and Austin pins him to win the title. Austin and Vince celebrate with a beer, a handshake, and then Austin lays out Rock with the title to pull the trigger on his shocking heel turn. Excellent match to cap off an excellent show and, although the heel turn proved to be ineffective, the concept was interesting, and it added a new dimension to the character’s psyche: Austin felt his end was coming soon, and he had to do everything he could to hold his main event spot to prevent becoming an afterthought. Brilliant idea, but it just didn’t work.

-Limp Bizkit plays us out of here with a beautiful montage to “My Way”. I have to say, that might be my favorite WrestleMania song ever. And I HATE Fred Durst!

-CYNIC SAYS: Ho. Lee. Crap. I don’t think Vince McMahon, even with a perfect roster and a huge wave of momentum, could ever top this show. It was perfect from start to finish, and everything had a purpose. Those purposes were thusly served to perfection. Four matches you could make an argument were four stars are better: the technical masterpiece (Benoit/Angle), the wild soap opera (Vince/Shane), the insane spotfest (TLC), the mano y mano brawl (HHH/Taker), and the battle of the larger than life immortals (Rock/Austin).

This show is regarded as the end of the Attitude era, but what a way for it to go out. WWEE has not seen heights like this since, and although it may again one day, it’ll take a lot to convince me that it’s as good as this card. What’s left to say?

Oh, I know.

POSITIVE. FIVE. STARS!

Justin Henry has been an occasional contributor to Camel Clutch Blog since 2009. His other work can be found at WrestleCrap.com and ColdHardFootballFacts.com. He can be found on Twitter, so give him a follow.

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WrestleMania XII – A Portrait in Wrestling History

March 19, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

WRESTLEMANIA XII
From The Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim, CA
March 31, 1996

BACKGROUND
Never before in the WWF had such a display of hypocrisy been presented.

Beginning in 1994, with Bret Hart’s ascension to his second reign as WWF Champion, Vince McMahon’s empire draped itself in the colors of an ad campaign called “The New Generation”. McMahon chose to move forward with a newer set of soldiers, trying to bury the older ghosts of his company’s past.

But while McMahon painted over the murals of Hogan and Randy Savage and Ric Flair with the likes of Razor Ramon, Diesel, Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker, and, of course, Bret Hart himself, those banished ghosts found a new haunt in Atlanta called WCW.

And haunt Vince they would.

In 1995, WCW would premiere a trendy little show called Nitro to go head to head with McMahon’s flagship Monday Night Raw. The two shows traded victories in the ratings war, but McMahon’s product was, by comparison, stale and outmoded in relative to a show that was live every week and putting on marquee matches, as well as showcasing fresh international talent.

The ghosts of Hogan and Savage and Flair tormented McMahon by taking a good chunk of his audience. Lex Luger, who had been a McMahon trustee for nearly three years, left to rejoin WCW on Nitro’s maiden episode, having left Vince behind without a formal goodbye.

Soon, Razor and Diesel would give their notice, heading to WCW at the expiration of their contracts.

The New Generation was a failing concept. In a desperate, hypocritical move, McMahon littered his show with old names: Jake Roberts, a returning Ultimate Warrior, Roddy Piper, Ted Dibiase (as a manager) and Mr. Perfect (as an announcer) to name a few.

But it would be two relatively young, time-tested stars that would carry the New Generation banner proudly, and salvage WrestleMania XII.

THE EVENT
Much like one year earlier, Shawn Michaels found himself the winner of the 1996 Royal Rumble match, having dealt Diesel some Sweet Chin Music to knock him over the top in the finale. Michaels was routinely stealing the show at nearly every event he participated in, and fan sentiment led to a well-timed face turn in the spring of 1995. Soon, Michaels was winning the Intercontinental Title and defending it against Razor Ramon in a classic ladder match sequel at that year’s Summerslam.

On the same show, Diesel had his hands full defending his WWF Championship against King Mabel, injuring his shoulder during the ten minute slothing.

It seemed inevitable that Michaels would soon find his way back into the main event picture.

However, the championship took a detour, when Diesel’s year-long reign ended at the 1995 Survivor Series, as Bret Hart bested Diesel in a match that featured a memorable table bump. Hart began his third reign as champion, retaining over the likes of Davey Boy Smith, The Undertaker (in a DQ loss), and Diesel (in a steel cage match) to establish himself for the main event of WrestleMania XII.

Rowdy Roddy Piper (playing interim President while Gorilla Monsoon was selling injuries at the hands of Vader) decided to make the Hart vs. Michaels showdown for WrestleMania XII as memorable as possible. In what would be a first in televised WWF history, the fans would be treated to an “Iron Man” match, where the individual who scores the most falls over the course of one hour would be declared the winner.

Rather than feature a storyline full of twists and turns, Hart and Michaels were both portrayed as courageous and diligent athletes. Videos aired, featuring both men engaging in rigorous training exercises in order to get their bodies ready for the fight of their lives.

While Hart and Michaels had their road to WrestleMania etched in mutual respect, not every match would have that same backdrop. Supplementing the Iron Man match would be a formidable encounter between two giants. The Undertaker would take on Diesel in a contest several months in the making.

Undertaker was named #1 contender to the WWF Title in December 1995, which made Diesel feel slighted. As a means of protest, as Undertaker had Bret Hart pinned at the 1996 Royal Rumble, Diesel interfered to prevent “The Phenom” from winning the title. One month later, Diesel would face Hart in a steel cage match at In Your House for the title. In a famous moment, as Diesel went to exit the cage, Undertaker billowed up through the canvas, grabbed Diesel, and pulled him beneath the ring into a cauldron of smoke, preventing him from winning as well. The match was set to settle the grudge once and for all.

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Two legends would return to in-ring competition as well; Rowdy Roddy Piper would face Goldust in a “Hollywood Backlot Brawl”, and The Ultimate Warrior returned after a three and a half year absence to face upstart Hunter Hearst Helmsley.

Vince McMahon and Jerry Lawler would call the action for the third year in a row. In a rather curious move, there would be no celebrity involvement at this show, but the event DID feature the debut of WCW’s former Johnny B Badd, now known as “Wildman” Marc Mero.

THE RESULTS
Owen Hart, The British Bulldog, and Vader def. Ahmed Johnson, Yokozuna, and Jake Roberts in 12:51
(Decent opener, even if the action was a bit disjointed. Ahmed and Vader would become obvious components for the future of the “New Generation”, while Owen and Bulldog were typically solid. About what you’d want from an opening match)

Stone Cold Steve Austin def. Savio Vega in 10:00
(Underrated match, due to a dead crowd, as well as distractions from another match that was taking place at the same time. Explanation forthcoming. Austin wasn’t quite the “Texas Rattlesnake” yet, but he was getting there. Just wait a few months)

The Ultimate Warrior def. Hunter Hearst Helmsley in 1:36
(You know what’s great about this match? Not only did Warrior no-sell the Pedigree, but since he’s likely never going to return to WWE, Hunter can never get his “job” back over him. And you wonder why Hunter’s been so quick to bash Warrior publically: he’s bitter. I love it)

The Undertaker def. Diesel in 16:46
(That’s five. This is also Taker’s first “good” match at WrestleMania, as he and Diesel gamely exchanged big moves back and forth with few dull moments. Within two months, Kevin Nash would be “for lifing it” in Atlanta with minimal effort given for the rest of his career)

Hollywood Backlot Brawl: Rowdy Roddy Piper def. Goldust in an indeterminate amount of time
(It was what it was: a bizarre brawl featuring some cringe-worthy shots, a silly “chase” that used stock footage of OJ Simpson’s bronco chase, and ended with homosexual one-upsmanship that included kissing, and Goldust being stripped down to lingerie. You know, just your typical match)

WWF World Championship/Iron Man Match: Shawn Michaels def. Bret Hart 1-0 in 61:52 to win the title
(A somewhat polarizing match; some fans felt that it was too dull to exchange holds over the span of one hour, while others appreciated the athleticism and endurance on display. As for me, I watched my favorite wrestler of my childhood win his first World Title and didn’t care what anybody else thought. That’s why I don’t mock twelve year old John Cena fans: their Cena was my Michaels)

ITS PLACE IN HISTORY

The failure of Diesel as WWF Champion was evident as early as WrestleMania XI, when fans weren’t exactly thrilled to see him retain the gold over the villain of the match, Shawn Michaels. Michaels’ subsequent face turn would provide a maxwell of energy for a company that was stagnating toward creative lows.

If Diesel was Vince’s new Hulk Hogan, then Michaels was Vince’s new Randy Savage: the change of pace champion to provide a different main event perspective after one babyface lost the title. With Michaels as the man in charge, fans could expect the main events to be more athletic, dramatic, and crisp, which couldn’t be said about Diesel’s encounters.

Bret Hart was just as good a main eventer as Michaels, but Hart already had three reigns, and was eight years older than the “Heartbreak Kid”. It was time for something new.

This main event was contrasted with an undercard that featured a heap of washed up names (Piper, Warrior, Roberts, etc), as well as building blocks of tomorrow (Austin, HHH, Vader), but while the past and the future reigned underneath, it was the present that took center stage.

WrestleMania XII was the Shawn Michaels Show, and rightfully so.

Justin Henry has been an occasional contributor to Camel Clutch Blog since 2009. His other work can be found at WrestleCrap.com and ColdHardFootballFacts.com. He can be found on Twitter, so give him a follow.

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10 WCW Pay Per Views Worth Watching On The WWE Network

February 26, 2014 By: Category: lists, WWE | Pro Wrestling

WWE’s treatment of one-time arch-nemesis WCW is a curious paradox. When World Championship Wrestling was alive, they were a bumbling mess that pushed senior citizens, let the Radicalz go, and weren’t as cool as the sense-throttling action of WWF Attitude. In death, they’re looked back on with fondness as a worthy rival that shoved the McMahon Empire harder than any, and launched the careers of many notable stars.

There exists an entire generation of fans that have grown up without WCW. Yes, anyone that started watching wrestling after the spring of 2001 only knows of the company in the past tense, perhaps getting a sense of their glory on WWE DVD releases and YouTube.

With the launch of the WWE Network, curious viewers (the ones whose video isn’t besieged with more stoppages than SEPTA) have an entire archive of WCW history at their fingertips. The ones not a privy to the best that the company had to offer may be wondering where to begin.

While I can’t speak for every fan, I offer this list of ten WCW events worth checking out. Your mileage may vary if you were a fan of the product, and criticism will be understood in response to my list. However, as a primer for the curious, this is what I would recommend, in chronological order:

STARRCADE 1985

Very much similar to a 1980s WrestleMania, in that the undercard is filled with mindless diversion (Billy Graham and The Barbarian in an arm-wrestling match!), but the event that was stretched over the cities of Greensboro and Atlanta (beating WrestleMania II’s three-city concept by four months) produced three worthwhile bouts.

For one, Magnum TA and Tully Blanchard’s “I Quit” steel cage match is off the charts in terms of kayfabed hatred on display, a true ‘five star’ classic. The Rock n Roll Express faced the Koloffs in that very cage for the Tag Team Titles, while Dusty Rhodes and Ric Flair warred in the Atlanta portion for the NWA Championship in one of their better clashes.

GREAT AMERICAN BASH 1989

Simply put, it’s probably the best event NWA/WCW has ever produced. What WrestleMania X7 is to WWE, the 1989 Bash is to the Turner crowd. Six matches in, you get Sting vs. The Great Muta for the Television Title in an abbreviated classic that would wow most fans. Amazingly, that was only the fourth best match of the show, aced by the final three.

Lex Luger and Ricky Steamboat engaged in a classic US Title match immediately after, and THAT was followed by a War Games featuring The Road Warriors, Midnight Express, and Steve Williams against The Freebirds and the Samoan Swat Team. And THAT was followed by Ric Flair and Terry Funk in an expected classic the NWA Title. No wonder it’s the gold standard.

BEACH BLAST 1992

You’d think based on the name, it’d be in Florida, California, or even Hawaii, but the 1992 Beach Blast emanated from Mobile, AL, which sits as one of the northernmost points bordering the Gulf of Mexico. Still, you get Missy Hyatt and Madusa, pre-injectapalooza, in a bikini contest, which added a reasonable Spring Break element to the show.

As for the matches, one of Mick Foley’s personal favorites took place here, as he faced Sting in a falls count anywhere war. Rick Rude and Ricky Steamboat have the first televised Iron Man match of any kind, Brian Pillman and Scotty Flamingo (Raven) wrestle for the Light Heavyweight gold, and the Steiners and Steve Williams/Terry Gordy have a lengthy classic.

STARRCADE 1993

To be totally honest, Starrcade 1993 is about as close to a one-match show as you’ll find on this list. The only undercard match really worth watching is Ricky Steamboat and Steven Regal for the TV Title, but the main event is something. It’s perhaps the best built WCW match next to Hogan/Sting at Starrcade 1997, except this one had a more satisfying payoff.

Ric Flair challenges the near-unbeatable Vader for the WCW Title, with Flair putting his career on the line. “The Nature Boy” brings his family to the arena in hometown Charlotte, while Vader’s seconded by Harley Race, the man Flair beat for the title ten years earlier at Starrcade. If you’ve never seen it, it’s the greatest show-long drama WCW has ever produced.

SPRING STAMPEDE 1994

Anyone who tells you that the “Big Two” were stagnant before ECW and the New World Order kickstarted things is exaggerating a bit. WCW was producing some good television prior to Hulk Hogan’s signing that summer, providing a viable alternative to the mostly-watered down WWE that was reeling from roster cuts and the steroid trial.

Take this event from notoriously-rowdy Chicago. Early on, you get a wild brawl for the Tag Titles between the Nasty Boys and Cactus Jack and Maxx Payne, a template for later hardcore matches. Flair and Steamboat close the show with a half-hour classic for the WCW Title, highlighting a card where simpler stories were paid off by amazing work.

SLAMBOREE 1994

Five weeks after Spring Stampede, the show was actually improved upon with a legends-themed event in Philadelphia. The Tag Team Titles were put up in a chaotic sort-of rematch, with Kevin Sullivan replacing the injured Payne, made more auspicious with legendary Flyers enforcer Dave “The Hammer” Schultz as guest referee. Philly and their brawls, man.

Aside from that salute to ECW, Sting and Vader put forth another of their epics for the ill-fated WCW International Title, as you simply can’t go wrong with those two. The legends play a role through the night, notably fun nostalgia in the form of Terry Funk and Tully Blanchard’s spirited clash. Quite honestly, it’s a show with virtually no flaws.

STARRCADE 1995

The “Granddaddy of Them All” has played host to some unusual themes over the years, such as Battlebowl, Night of the Iron Men, and it was the scene of Sting having his final confrontation with The Black Scorpion. Other times, WCW’s experiments proved highly enjoyable, most notably with “The World Cup of Wrestling” in 1995.

The hook: WCW chose seven wrestlers (Sting, Randy Savage, et al), and New Japan chose seven of its best. They would face off in a best of seven to determine company supremacy. Savage, then WCW Champion, also defended his title against the winner of a Sting-Lex Luger-Ric Flair triangle match held that night, so it was a loaded show from top to bottom.

BASH AT THE BEACH 1996

The undercard is barely remembered, even though it featured at least two great matches: a pristine spotfest between Rey Misterio Jr and Psicosis (one of the greatest opening matches ever) and a surprisingly stellar Cruiserweight Title match with Dean Malenko and a holding-his-own Disco Inferno. Of course, the main event jogs more memories, to be sure.

The Outsiders were set to reveal their “third man” in a tense showdown with Randy Savage, Sting, and Lex Luger, in one of the most anticipated climaxes in the history of wrestling. You know the story: Hulk Hogan runs in to save the day, only to legdrop Savage in the mother of all heel turns. His post-match speech is, in my eyes, the greatest promo of his career.

NWO SOULED OUT 1997

I won’t even try to defend this show with it’s lone worthwhile match: a ladder match for the United States Title between Eddie Guerrero and Syxx (1 plus 2 plus 3, get it?). The event was essentially an anti-PPV, held by the New World Order at its peak of popularity. What makes this show interesting is the spectacle, not so much any content with consequence.

The WCW performers on the show (i.e. the anti-nWo crusade) entered without theme music, instead being introduced with condescending and insulting remarks. Eric Bischoff and Ted Dibiase provided biased commentary all night, and nWo referee Nick Patrick worked each match. It was a fascinating experiment, even if it tanked. Still, different can be fun.

SPRING STAMPEDE 1999

Almost literally, it was the only good PPV that WCW had between mid-1998 and the end of 2000. As the funeral dirge grew louder for a company mired by politics, confusion, disarray, and general apathy, this one event stands out as an inexplicable masterpiece. Almost every major match on the show ranked between good and great, for almost no reason.

Matches like Goldberg vs. Kevin Nash, and a four way with Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Sting, and Diamond Dallas Page, were both tremendous, even for their standards at the time. Add to that Chris Benoit/Dean Malenko vs. Raven/Saturn, Juventud Guerrera vs. Blitzkrieg (a forgotten gem), and Rey Misterio vs. Kidman, and voila: an incredible event.

Justin Henry has been an occasional contributor to Camel Clutch Blog since 2009. His other work can be found at WrestleCrap.com and ColdHardFootballFacts.com. He can be found on Twitter, so give him a follow.

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