RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #5 (OCTOBER 2ND 1995) – RANDY SAVAGE VS LEX LUGER, RIC FLAIR VS ARN ANDERSON II

Welcome to the Retro Express. This is where we’re taking a stroll down memory lane at wrestling history. This post is part of an ongoing series where we’re reviewing every episode of WCW Nitro from start to finish. Links to the previous posts are at the bottom of this post. We hope you enjoy.

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We’ve got to a pretty big episode of Nitro considering how the shows have been built in the last few weeks. Savage and Luger will finally face each other after weeks of not trusting each other and confrontations. Now these two are going to go at it and Lex Luger’s career is on the line. Ric Flair and Arn Anderson will face each other in the Fall Brawl rematch in the main-event as finally Ric is gonna “kick Arn’s ass” as he promised 2 weeks ago. The “double main-event” Nitro is here with Episode #5 as the build to Halloween Havoc continues….

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…BEFORE we dive right into it, we’ve got some business to take care of. I promised two bonus reviews of a Sting vs Johnny B Badd for the US title from the WCW Saturday Night (September 30th, 1995) before this show and Sting and Road Warrior Hawk vs Meng and Kurasawa from Clash of the Champions a month or two before this. If you want to know why, please read our Episode #4 review for more details.

Sadly, I can only deliver on ONE of those promises and it’s not my fault! It’s not my fault because when I looked up the WCW Saturday Night episode in question, there were two issues. Issue #1 was that this particular episode is not currently on the WWE Network. They only started whacking WCW Saturday Night episodes on the network this year and they’re only up to 1993. Issue #2 is that, believe it or not, there was no Sting vs Johnny B Badd for the US title on that episode.

Allow me to explain. Johnny B Badd was supposed to receive a title shot on this episode. Sting waltzed down to the ring. He’s waiting for Johnny as Dave Penzer does the ring introductions. Johnny is nowhere to be seen so Dave declares that they’ll try this later on in the show. Brian Pillman is angry at whoever that Johnny is not here for his big US title match. He wants to be in the US title match but he’s told no. They try again but Johnny is still not here. They eventually determine that Johnny B Badd has no-showed the show so Brian gets his way and gets the title shot. Sting beats him and retains the US title.

After the match is over, Johnny B Badd arrives in the arena and claimed he had a flat tyre. Apparently, it was revealed down the road or on the show that WCW TV Champion DDP was the one responsible for it.

To recap, Johnny B Badd became the number one contender at Fall Brawl. Johnny B Badd lost to Mr Wonderful CLEAN IN THE MIDDLE on the Nitro after Fall Brawl. Johnny is given the US title match anyway and on that show, he’s unable to make it due to a flat tyre. Way to go Johnny B Badd… one of the worst booked title contenders I’ve ever seen.

 

Date: October 2nd 1995

Brand: WCW

City: Denver, Colorado

Rating: 2.5

Commentators: Eric Bischoff, Steve “Mongo” McMichael and Bobby Heenan

 

The announcers are hyping up the show featuring a double main-event with Lex Luger vs Randy Savage and Ric Flair vs Arn Anderson II. Ric Flair cut them off in his robe and everything, telling Arn that “I’M COMING YOUR WAY BIG BOY” as he was going nuts. He was excited to kick Arn’s ass on Nitro after all of these weeks.

I got to say that this was probably the best performances for the trio of announcers for Nitro. All three of them showed excitement for the show! Steve “Mongo” McMichael was going nuts, Eric Bischoff was going nuts and Bobby Heenan was just a tremendous heel to bounce off these two idiot babyfaces! I loved it. For this one episode anyway, they all clicked!

They recapped the whole Luger/Savage feud, with the confrontations in the last two weeks and The Giant’s rampage from last week. I couldn’t help but notice it here during the replay, as I didn’t notice it the first time. The Giant GROWLS when he grabs Alex Wright for the bearhug slam! That was a nice touch.

 

Lex Luger vs Randy Savage

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I would be somewhat annoyed that one half of the “double main-event” for the show is going on first but it’s a hour long show and it is a great TV time to put the match on… right at the beginning.

Eric Bischoff alerted us that we could find out what happens on RAW by calling the WCW hot-line. I’m honestly surprised he didn’t tell us this week. Remember for Episode #1 when he spoiled that Shawn Michaels kicked “the big guy” in Sid? I have a feeling this may happen again in the future with a WCW commentator. Call it a hunch.

To be fair to WCW, they had a stacked card with Flair/Anderson II and Savage/Luger. Funnily, supposedly RAW and Nitro were tied this week. I was shocked. Mongo informed the fans that if they thought about turning the TV they’d be brain-dead like Bobby Heenan’s family. I swear babyface Mongo said that…

Luger and Savage get into the ring. They lock-up for about 45 seconds straight and they spill to the outside. Luger’s lock-ups are a weak point in his game judging on what I’ve seen from him since he’s arrived. Luger powered Savage into the corner and SLAPPED Savage, which was payback for what happened 2 weeks ago when Savage slapped Luger.

Savage tried a suplex on the floor and after a struggle, Luger turned it into a neckbreaker. Savage tried a small package but Luger kicked out. Luger pressed Savage over his head which is a greater feat of strength than you think. Savage may not look it compared to Luger but Savage himself was a big guy. He really was the “biggest boy” as he stated 2 weeks ago!

Luger was getting boos here as the fans don’t necessarily get behind Luger yet. Luger was way out of position for a Savage kick. They had an awesome spot where they battled for a backslide. For a full minute or so, they are trying to get the other man over for a backslide pin. Luger won the battle and got a near fall. I loved it as even a simple move like a backslide was fought for and was important to both wrestlers. There was a Booker T/Chris Benoit match I reviewed for Survivor Series 2005 where they did the same thing and I loved it. Every move should be important in a match.

Luger caught Savage off the top rope with a punch. Savage eventually hit a double axe handle on the outside. Savage threw Luger into the referee, slammed Luger and hit the elbow drop. In the latest of 101 ways to bury Lex Luger on Nitro, Savage has Luger down for a 10 count while the referee is out. Mongo is howling with laughter as the referee is taken out.

At this point, The Giant came down and choke-slammed Savage yet again for the second week in a row. Neither Luger or the referee saw it. The fans start to boo even more. Luger hurled Savage’s unconscious body up and onto his shoulders for the Torture Rack and won via submission. It looked kinda sloppy in execution but I liked the idea of Savage selling like he legitimately can’t move and Luger trying with all of his might to get him up for this move.

This actually got some serious heat with the fans as Giant helped Luger, a man who they already are not getting behind. Lex Luger has technically not done anything wrong as a babyface but a bad guy helped him win. I will say that this was a let-down as we got a screwjob finish but it did play into the storyline so I’ll allow it.

 

Man, this WCW Saturday Night show they advertised. They would explain what happened to Johnny B Badd in regards to his US title shot. They would have Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman vs Buckhouse Buck and Dick Slater as well as Hacksaw Jim Duggan vs Big Bubba Rogers.

Bobby Heenan hyped up that The Giant was here to get his hands on Hulk Hogan. Oh yeah, WCW World Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan was expected to be here as well! I didn’t mention that earlier but they hyped that last week!

 

They played Disco Inferno’s theme song and Disco came out. Eric Bischoff plays it like he doesn’t know what was going, Mongo appeared like he literally had no idea what was going on and Bobby Heenan was just sat there dancing as Disco made his entrance. Bischoff explains that we’re supposed to get Eddie Guerrero vs Dean Malenko tonight but Disco came out when he wasn’t supposed to. Eddie arrives to tell Disco to get lost. Disco obliges and leaves. That was Eddie Guerrero’s WCW Nitro debut everyone.

 

Eddie Guerrero vs Dean Malenko

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I was so excited to see this match pop up. They explain that Eddie Guerrero beat Jushin Liger on WCW Main Event the night before to appear on Nitro. That sounds like a really fun match. For the record, WCW Main Event episodes are not available on the WWE Network so I could not review that match.

Mongo’s analysis of Dean and Eddie were that these two fly more than two vultures around a bunch of dead meat. Mongo then questioned Dean Malenko calling himself the man of a thousand holds and mentions some book called “101 sex positions” or something weird like that. Before Bobby Heenan could say anything, Bischoff immediate cut him off by saying “don’t even touch that Bobby” to which Bobby sadly obliges. So I’m watching some of the most spectacular moves in a WCW ring since I started these Nitro reviews and in the middle of all this, they cut away from it to watch Hulk Hogan arriving at the arena.

It’s not like they just showed a second screen. Hogan took up ALL of the screen time and Eddie vs Dean was an afterthought. Hogan vowed to find The Giant and sort him out as my notes read. It’s all about the Hulksters out there and he’s gonna face The Giant eye-to-eye. They then cut back to Dean vs Eddie.

I didn’t take much notes during this match. It was very fast-paced and I just wanted to sit back and enjoy these two high-flyers put on a tremendous display. They showed slick reversals, monkey flips and eventually, Eddie hit the brainbuster. He was about to follow it up with the Frog Splash but Dean got the knees up. They both went for go-behinds but Eddie eventually tripped up him, grabbed the legs and pinned him. It was a lovely little match. Dean went up to Eddie after the match to ask for a rematch and Eddie accepted.

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So we finally get Hulk Hogan appearing in the ring with Jimmy Hart for an interview with Mean Gene. They talk about a man in town causing destruction and Hogan basically said there’s not a lot to talk about. Hogan said he had to go do some soul-searching after The Giant snapped his neck. He mentioned a kid doing a lung transplant who told the Hulkster to look Giant in the eye and take him down. Hogan said he’d go to the back and rip him apart but before he goes to rip the Giant apart, he makes the rounds and greets the audience with handshakes! Literally going from 0 to 100 real quick.. and then going right back to 0!

Obviously this would soon make sense as an old woman starts to beat up Hogan with a walking stick. Actually, an old woman beating up Hulk Hogan with a walking stick may not make sense! The old woman was revealed to be the Taskmaster. At this point, Mongo proclaims that this is what makes Nitro so great!

The Giant and Zodiac came down to help lay the boots to Hogan. The Giant ripped of Hogan’s neck brace and broke his neck yet again. Taskmaster then did the unthinkable… and SHAVED OFF Hogan’s moustache! It looked initially like they were gonna leave it as a Hitler moustache when they cut to The Giant chokeslamming somebody! The American Males and the Nasty Boys both came down to try and stop these miscreants but even the likes of the WCW Tag Team Champions were no match for The Giant. Throughout all of this, Bobby Heenan is laughing like a madman in the middle of all of this destruction. The heels soon left as Brian Knobbs literally crawled over to check on Hulk Hogan…

This was another great segment for the Hogan/Giant storyline. Giant destroyed the Hulkster and four other men and was a pure wrecking machine. Not many heels got this much heat on the Hulkster before so it was refreshing to see a huge threat to Hulkamania that didn’t seem like just another dude. The Giant was not like the other geeks from the Dungeon of Doom. He was his own Dungeon of Doom if you will and you were dead excited to see what would happen at Halloween Havoc. This was a thumbs up segment.

 

Ric Flair vs Arn Anderson

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The rematch from Fall Brawl 1995. As Ric Flair was coming down to the ring, Eric Bischoff was asking the hard-hitting questions of where Luger was when The Giant and his crew attacked everybody. They excused Savage as he was on a stretcher but WHERE WAS LEX LUGER? My question was why was Lex Luger expected to be out there? They couldn’t find any other fresh dude in the back that could have tried to stop The Giant?

Arn didn’t even get an entrance as they were just going fast from the bell. Bobby was still justifying the Dungeon of Doom’s actions and their attempt to cut Hogan’s hair as well by stating that Hogan needed a haircut anyway! Bobby was on top form tonight!

Arn and Ric brawled all over the place. I love how Ric Flair appears to be the babyface in all of this but was still begging Arn off during spots! Heel tactics aren’t going away that easy for Flair! Arn hit the spinebuster but both men were spent and Flair kicked out after Arn eventually made the cover. They traded sleeper holds. Flair locked on the Figure Four Leg Lock. Arn tried a piledriver but Flair countered it. Arn tried a DDT but Flair held onto the ropes and Arn took a flat-back bump.

Arn tried a dive from the top rope but Flair cut him off with a big mid-air chop. We had a perplexing finish as I have no idea what the intention was and I personally blame the referee for it. I didn’t write down who the referee was but I think it was Nick Patrick. Brian Pillman ran down as Flair got the Figure Four Leg Lock locked in. Pillman did a dive when the referee called for the bell. It was hard to determine whether the referee was calling the bell for the DQ or if Arn Anderson had given up. It’s not like Patrick decided Arn had given up before Pillman did his dive. He rang the bell after Pillman dived so I thought Flair won by DQ. Eric Bischoff, on commentary, was the one who clarified that Flair won as Arn gave up. I think the referee miss-timed calling for the bell so that’s how the finish got screwed up.

Flair and Pillman started clawing at each other but then Arn got involved. Flair wanted to chop Pillman as hard as he could but the heels overwhelmed him 2 on 1. This actually plays into the promo Arn and Brian cut last week as Arn warned that if Ric went for Arn, Brian would have his back. The heels were men of their words as Pillman ran down to help Arn and they eventually worked together to dispose of Flair.

It was then announced that WCW Commissioner Nick Bockwinkel booked Flair vs Anderson III to take place in a steel cage on next week’s edition of Nitro. They also announced Sting vs The Shark, Big Bubba Rogers vs Road Warrior Hawk and Sabu vs Mr JL.

I loved this little ending of the show. Eric declares that Nitro is as good as it gets to which Bobby and Mongo unleashed battle cries to end the show! Bobby goes “YEEEEAAAH” and Mongo howls at the moon as the show ends. I LOVED THAT. The announcers going crazy over the product and actually looking like their interested in it. A nice change of pace from WWE announcing in 2018.

 

This was a decent show. I wasn’t particular fond of the finish of the Savage/Luger match as I wanted a clean finish but the ending plays into the storyline so I’ll accept it. We got some good cruiserweight action, The Giant got to look like a dominant and big threat to Hulkamania and we had a decent match in the main-event which builds towards a big grudge match next week. Thumbs up for me. I liked it.

Before I leave you, I did also promise a bonus review of the Sting and Road Warrior Hawk vs Kurasawa and Meng match from Clash of the Champions that got a -2 star rating from the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. I was shocked at this rating but I will give you a bonus review of the match and see if my interest in Kurasawa is misplaced…

…spoiler but yeah, I may have placed too much stock in him because this was not particular great work!

 

Sting and Road Warrior Hawk vs Kurasawa and Meng w/Col. Robert Parker

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Michael Buffer did the ring introductions. The highlights from his ring introductions were that Meng was discovered by WCW as he worked as a bodyguard which appears to have been true in storyline. He then said that Kurasawa was the latest edition in Col Robert Parker’s “stud stable” because nothing says studs quite like Kurasawa and Meng!

By the way, Tony Schiavone and Bobby Heenan were the commentators. The heels jumped Sting and Hawk before the bell rang. It broke into a four way which was a terrible idea, as these four were brawling and everybody was in each other’s way. When the match was limited to two guys working together, it wasn’t so terrible unless Road Warrior Hawk was in there. When they had to do spots as tag teams or when all four guys were doing things, it was just a clunky mess.

It’s funny because I read up on our boy Kurasawa and he’s apparently had no martial arts background before going to WCW. It’s funny because although he had no martial arts background and he was throwing kicks all over the place anyway, Kurasawa was actually an accomplished amateur wrestler. Kurasawa actually competed in the 1992 Summer Olympics and won a bronze medal in the Asian Championship one time. He’s got this background but WCW saddle him with a gimmick of being a martial artist.

Kurasawa does these kicks and Hawk no-sells them like crazy. Hawk appeared that he did not give an ounce of care about these kicks that the deadly “martial artist” was delivering. Hawk was just on another level of bad here in this match. God bless Road Warrior Hawk, who is no longer with us, but he looked like he was on another planet and looked completely lost in the ring. Sting did an atomic drop and it looked like it went horribly wrong.

Kurasawa did some chops but Sting chopped away even more. Kurasawa and Hawk did a clothesline spot and there was no communication there at all. Kurasawa hit the clothesline and Hawk just tumbled to the ground. It was ugly. Hawk was just not reacting to anything. He didn’t try to protect himself. His arms were down, he leaned his head forward and his mouth was open as he lurched forward, and I’d hate to make this comparison, but very much like a zombie. He showed no emotion in this match.

Hawk even attempted a scoop slam and, even at this point, I was fearing the worst… from a scoop slam. Hawk almost messed this up as well as Kurasawa came very close to landing on his face. Sting eventually flew in. I had no idea if he even tagged in. Hawk had no idea what was going on. Hawk and Kurasawa had a legitimate contender for the worst brawl I’ve ever seen in my whole life. I think I made a similar comment regarding the WCW tag title match from Fall Brawl but there was nothing in that match as bad as this brawl between Hawk and Kurasawa.

Sting and Hawk hit a modified… I think a modified Doomsday Device or a Hart Attack. Either way, it was sloppy and Hawk got the pin. Kurasawa then broke Hawk’s arms and ran away.

This match was beyond bad. Out of the four wrestlers in the match, the two worst wrestlers (Kurasawa and Hawk) were the most used out of the four. Hawk looked like he had no interest in being there and Kurasawa just couldn’t get going. It was messy, it was botchy and it was no good. I’m not sure if I can go as bad as -2 stars. If I gave this match -2 stars, then I’d be saying it was as bad as Buckhouse Buck and Dick Slater vs Harlem Heat from Fall Brawl. I cannot say it was as bad as that match because at least this match was relatively short compared to that tag team title match. This was still a bad match though. I would not recommend it.

Match Rating: -*

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Thank you for reading and I’ll be back with Episode #6 of WCW Nitro as part of the Retro Express. We’re getting to see Sting back in action for the first time since Fall Brawl (at least on Nitro) and we got a big steel cage showdown between Ric Flair and Arn Anderson. We’ll see you at Episode #6!

WCW Nitro Episode List

 

 

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RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #3 (SEPTEMBER 18TH 1995) – FALLOUT TO FALL BRAWL 1995

Welcome to the Retro Express. This is where we’re taking a stroll down memory lane at wrestling history. This post is part of an ongoing series where we’re reviewing every episode of WCW Nitro from start to finish. Links to the previous posts are at the bottom of this post. We hope you enjoy.

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WCW Fall Brawl has came and gone. We got the big War Games match between the Hulkamaniacs and the Dungeon of Doom. Despite issues between Randy Savage and Lex Luger, the Hulkamaniacs survived the battle and toppled the forces of the Taskmaster. This meant Hulk Hogan got a chance to fight Taskmaster one-on-one in the double-ringed cage. This was interrupted by THE GIANT of all people, who beat down Hogan and snapped his neck. If the Dungeon was bad enough for the Hulkster, the second coming of Andre The Giant was not going to make things any better!

 

As much as I loved Fall Brawl, this fallout to Fall Brawl wasn’t very good. The Shark pulling off the “jumping the shark” spot during the War Games match was very appropriate when you think about this Nitro episode. I was rather perplexed through out this show. This was the show that did the WCW tag titles no favours as we’ll get to and it made the best match of Fall Brawl mean nothing when all said and done. The structure of the show was very clunky but we did get some great stuff regarding Randy Savage, Lex Luger and Ric Flair which we’ll get to.

 

Date: September 18th 1995

Brand: WCW

City: Johnson City, Tennessee

Rating: 1.9

Commentators: Eric Bischoff, Steve “Mongo” McMichael and Bobby Heenan

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Right off the bat, we get ambulance sirens which didn’t have anything to do with Scott Steiner. It had to do with the supposed murder of Hulk Hogan at Fall Brawl. Mean Gene is on the scene as The Giant arrives with the Taskmaster in an ambulance. The Giant said he’s been thinking about what it was like for Hogan to go into the back of an ambulance. The Giant said Hogan is called the “Immortal” Hulk Hogan but The Giant is the only true immortal in WCW.

At the time, The Giant was billed as (and I still can’t believe this) the SON OF ANDRE THE GIANT. For the younger fans out there, The Giant (a.k.a. Big Show) debuted in the professional wrestling business as Andre The Giant’s long-lost son. They played off that as Giant said if Andre were still alive, he’d be alongside Giant in his quest to destroy Hulk Hogan. The Giant then growled with a big grin on his face as a true villain should and he had such great presence for a guy who had only just started out in the wrestling business.

“The Blue Bloods” Lord Steven Regal and Earl Robert Eaton vs “American Males” Buff Bagwell and Scotty Riggs 

The American Males were supposed to face the Blue Bloods but the Blue Bloods were jumped before the match by the new WCW Tag Team Champions Harlem Heat (see our Fall Brawl review for details). Booker T got on the mic and said the Blue Bloods shouldn’t be here as Harlem Heat are the tag champions now. I guess they had inserted themselves in the match and, while they’re at it, decided that they were gonna defend the WCW tag team titles against the American Males…

“Harlem Heat” Booker T (c) and Stevie Ray (c) w/Sensational Sherri vs “American Males” Marcus Bagwell and Scotty Riggs for the WCW Tag Team Championship

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I don’t know if Harlem Heat going in there instead of the Blue Bloods was better. We missed out on seeing Lord Steven Regal in action. However, it just did not click at all with these two tag teams and there’s one guy at the centre of it. This Stevie Ray is SO HORRIBLE. In every task he was given in this match, he could not accomplish it with any level of success. He could not bump, he could not sell and he could not brawl. He tried to do all of these things and just couldn’t do anything right.

Booker, Bagwell and Riggs tried to wrestle around this big stump and they did try. Booker executed a sweet scoop powerslam on Riggs. Bagwell got the “hot tag” but this led to Stevie clobbering Bagwell from behind and then Booker hitting an axe kick just as regular move which was strange. Booker hit a Harlem sidekick which Bischoff was going nuts about as he declared this to be a wheel kick.

There was a “We Want It RAW” sign right in the front row of the hard cam which I was shocked was not confiscated. Bagwell got another “hot tag” which saw Stevie evade a dropkick by just side-stepping as Bagwell fell on his back. The finish saw Col. Robert Parker come down. If you recall at Fall Brawl, Parker and Sherri had lust in their eyes for each other as they made out. Parker wooed Sherri off the apron as they made their way up the entrance ramp. The match continued as Booker went for a pumphandle slam but Bagwell reversed it by bringing Booker down mid-move and scoring the pin.

In case anyone isn’t keeping track, allow me to clarify the WCW tag team title situation. Harlem Heat beat Buckhouse Buck and Dick Slater for the titles at Fall Brawl because of the distraction caused by their managers. On WCW Nitro the day after, Harlem Heat drop the titles to the American Males because of the distraction caused by managers. It’d be one thing if they did the title change at Fall Brawl and then Buck and Dick won the tag titles back the next night. At least it would continue the storyline. Instead a random new tag team, who didn’t even earn the tag title shots, beat Harlem Heat and they’re now the new WCW tag champs.

It was a very sloppy match. Not as horrifically bad as the tag match at the PPV but it was bad. Bad to the bone.

 

They showed a brief 10 second but awesome Slim Jim commercial from our boy “Macho Man” Randy Savage.

Mean Gene brings out Ric Flair for an interview. It was revealed here that Ric Flair would face Brian Pillman here tonight and judging by what happened at Fall Brawl, that makes sense. Flair was upset that Arn Anderson BROKE THE CODE. He said it’s OK for him and Arn to feud between themselves but Arn brought in an outsider into their feud. Something oddly foreshadowy about Outsider huh?

Flair said they’re gonna settle this feud within the family. Flair turned to Brian. I’m just gonna start calling him Brian Pillman in these reports. It makes life more easier for me and I don’t even think they referred to him as Flyin’ Brian in this show. So Brian Pillman it is.

Flair said he was going to chop Brian hard and that he was going to find Arn in Tennessee and kick his ass. The concerned Mean Gene insisted that you can’t say “ass” on WCW Nitro.

 

They showed the line up for Saturday Night, including Sting vs Regal, Craig Pittman vs Kobra in a Fall Brawl rematch, Dusty Rhodes being on the show and an update on Hulk Hogan.
“Mr Wonderful” Paul Orndorff vs Johnny B Badd

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The follow-up to the legendary segment shown at Fall Brawl with Paul Orndorff and Gary Spivey. Paul Orndorff, now realising that he was in fact Mr Wonderful, comes out to a theme song which was 10 times as beautiful as The Man Called Sting theme song I raved about from Episode #1. Two opera singers were singing that “THEY CALL HIM MR WONDERFUL” as Paul came down to the ring admiring himself in a mirror. Eric Bischoff and the announcers were crapping on the theme song which was unbearable to hear. Please guys… the theme was WONDERFUL.

Orndorff came out flying with rights and lefts into the corner on Johnny B Badd. This beating was so bad that Nick Patrick, THE REFEREE, had to get in Orndorff’s face to get him to knock it off.

This wasn’t much of a match in all honesty. I just like how, at this point in the show, Bischoff decides to mention that we’ve got a new WCW TV champion coming out of Fall Brawl. Diamond Dallas Page was the new WCW TV champion. We didn’t get a peep out Page throughout the show but yeah, now’s the time when we must inform you of this news. Not mentioning the fact that the WCW tag team titles have changed hands twice in the last 24 hours AND that JOHNNY B BADD is now the US title number one contender. JOHNNY B BADD, who was in this match, was not acknowledged as the number one contender for the US title.

They don’t mention that but they did mention that Badd maybe fatigued due to the intensity of the matches he’s been having as of late. Again, not mentioning the fact that Badd had a 29 minute match the night before with Brian Pillman.

Orndorff pinned Badd by, as Mongo stated it as, SITTING ON HIS HEAD. Mongo saying that would be one thing, if it we’re not for Mongo than asking him to sit on Bobby Heenan’s head at ringside.

To start the show, we had the new WCW Tag Team champions from Fall Brawl losing the tag titles to American Males. In the SECOND match on the WCW Nitro AFTER Fall Brawl, the new number one contender for the US title loses clean to Mr Wonderful. If this leads to Mr Wonderful becoming next in line for the US title shot then I’m fine with this. If this leads to Johnny B Badd still getting his US title shot, I’d be baffled.

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They showed “Macho Man” Randy Savage on the set of Baywatch doing a bench press. These actors are here cheering Savage until Taskmaster runs down at presses the weights on Savage’s chest. He threw sand at Savage. He mauled at him until Baywatch geeks and RIC FLAIR came out to make the save. Flair added that Taskmaster had went too far.

I don’t really have any idea when this was supposed to have taken place. If it’d happened before Fall Brawl, Savage would have mentioned it during the big Hulkamaniacs promo at the PPV. I guess it happened just before Nitro. They flew out to the set for Baywatch (him and Ric Flair anyway) and Taskmaster was on their tail and ambushed the Macho Man.

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Macho Man then shows himself in Tennessee. Macho Man talks about what happened on the Baywatch set. Macho Man told Flair “thanks, but no thanks” which was met with a lot of boos as these fans loved Ric Flair. Macho said he’d cut the head off the snake that is the Taskmaster. He said the strong survive and nobody is stronger than Hulk Hogan. However, Savage admitted that Hogan dropped the ball by picking Lex Luger for the Hulkamaniacs as Luger “cheap-shotted” him. Mean Gene pointed out that a lot of the wrestlers were behind Luger and that Luger “cheap-shotting” him was merely an accident. Savage questioned his sources as he now believed Sting, Jimmy Hart AND Lex Luger were all with the Dungeon of Doom.

This brought out Lex Luger. Luger said that Macho Man may be jealous of him. Luger said that Savage claims Luger is only looking out for himself as he wants the WCW World title but yet Savage also wants the WCW title himself. Savage says he’s got the guts to say that he does have the WCW title in mind but still insisted that Luger cheap-shotted him. Luger says he’s here to take on the big boys and Savage said there’s no bigger boy than the Macho Man. Savage was ready for a fight and even slapped Luger and as they’re about to fight… they cut to a break.

AT THE MOMENT where Luger and Savage are about to come to blows, they felt the need to show the WCW fans the words from their sponsors! They had great confrontation but they didn’t even show what happened after Savage slapped Luger. The next thing they show when they come back is the commentators talking about Hogan and The Giant. WHAT?

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They showed the clip in full of The Giant destroying Hulk Hogan’s Harley Davidson motorcycle. Giant smashed right into the bike using a Monster Truck just after Hogan shows it off to all the little Hulksters out there with him. He loved this bike before Giant destroyed it. Giant reversed back into the motorcycle at the slowest speed he could and it appeared to do NO DAMAGE! Hogan clawed at Giant and yelled “ARE YOU OUT  OF YOUR MIND?” to which Giant just cackled!

They then replayed Giant killing Hogan at the PPV. I couldn’t help but noticed this, as they didn’t show this at the PPV, but Giant grabbed hold to the top of the cage like monkey bars as he gets in and then just launches himself into the first ring! The Giant, at this time, was ridiculously agile.

 

Ric Flair vs Brian Pillman

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Wrestling Observer Newsletter had this match as being on par with the WCW tag team title match. I have no idea what they were thinking. This match was miles better than the tag team match. Maybe not miles but it was still pretty OK.

This match was… very much the 1995 version of a Dolph Ziggler match. Pillman’s going super fast and Flair, who is 40 at this time I think, just could not keep up and nothing was able to sink in as a move. Nothing really got much heat with the exception of Ric Flair CHOPPING Pillman like crazy from the get-go. I like how Flair still had to style and profile in the middle of this beating during a blood feud with Pillman!

By the way, they played up that Johnny B Badd was fatigued earlier. Pillman was wrestling Johnny B Badd in their 29 minute match at Fall Brawl and here is Pillman flying at 100 miles an hour against Flair. He didn’t even sell being tired. Flair locked in the figure four leg lock and won.

Flair got on the mic and called out Arn as Pillman just walks to the back. Flair then said that since Arn didn’t show up here, he vowed that Arn would get his ass kicked on next week’s Nitro instead.

 

The announcers close the show by randomly stating that WCW Commissioner Nick Bockwinkel would decide the fate of the WCW tag titles. Do we really need Nick to decide if American Males are the tag team champions? They won. Why does Bockwinkel need to decide if they’re the tag team champions?

Bischoff randomly says that something’s happening in the back. Then it just cuts to the card for the next WCW Nitro episode… I have no idea what that was about. Either it was a mistake by Bischoff to say that, a WCW production error or it was a WWE Network production error. Either way, we had no idea what happened in the back.

We do know that next week’s episode of WCW Nitro includes Alex Wright vs the Debuting Disco Inferno and Randy Savage vs Taskmaster. Ric Flair also said that he would kick Arn Anderson’s ass.

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I will say that upon review, this episode of Nitro was not as terrible as I remembered it being when I started writing it up. They were still some stupid stuff. I was mostly just upset at the lack of impact that Fall Brawl had on the product. Johnny B Badd became the number one contender and then lost to Mr Wonderful. Harlem Heat won the tag titles and then lost the tag titles to the American Males. We had some really sloppy matches along the way.

However, we had great stuff with Randy Savage as they built on the issues between him, Taskmaster and Lex Luger. I loved the Savage/Luger confrontation. Flair promos are always money. The Giant being all evil and diabolical was great to see too. In the undercard of WCW, there’s not much too it but the important storylines were dealt with carefully. Savage and Luger, Arn and Ric, Hogan and Giant. All these programs were dealt with brilliantly on this show. However, this was the worst out of the 3 WCW Nitro episodes I’ve seen so far. Hopefully things will improve with Episode #4 as Savage takes on the Taskmaster!

Thank you for reading and I’ll be back with Episode #4 of WCW Nitro as part of the Retro Express.

 

WCW Nitro Episode List

Retro Express: WCW Nitro #1 (September 4th 1995)

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For the first time in over 18 months, Retro Express returns to the Armbar Express! Only this time, the Retro Express is on a mission…

As long as I’ve been a wrestling fan, the biggest wrestling company I’ve ever known was World Wrestling Entertainment. I started watching wrestling in 2003, where WWE dominated the wrestling industry with no major competition at all from the sports entertainment side of things.

But there was a time, before I was a wrestling fan, where WWE did actually have huge competition. In fact, this was competition that almost drove them out of business. This competition… was World Championship Wrestling.

I’ve read Bryan Alvarez’s “The Death Of WCW” book (which, by the way, I would hugely recommend) and had heard all the stories about WCW. The narrative that WCW, a wrestling company powered by one of the richest men in the United States that crumbled as the “revolutionary” WWF Attitude Era rose to prominence. I don’t buy that narrative entirely.

Having re-watched some of the old recent WWF Attitude Era stuff recently (not covered in the Armbar Express yet), I can’t say there was a lot to praise from that era with the exceptions of like Austin vs McMahon as well as the rise of The Rock. WCW, in my opinion, were the ones that screwed WCW. I can’t go with the idea that the WWF were so great and WCW were so terrible. I don’t buy that. Obviously WCW did completely decline in their last few years but it’s not as if WWF was mind-blowingly good.

So then how is it that the WWE is still around, thriving and making hundreds of millions of dollars each year? How is that WCW are gone forever? What was it?

Well I decided to see if I can try and answer my own question. I’m not watching RAW IS WAR and Monday Night Nitro side-by-side but since I have never really watched WCW in a major capacity, I decided to watch every episode of WCW Nitro from start to finish. That’s right. 300+ episodes starting with an episode including Sting vs Ric Flair and ending with an episode…. including Sting vs Ric Flair.

Let’s get to it with EPISODE ONE….

 

WCW Nitro #1

Date: September 4th 1995

Brand: WCW

City: Minneapolis, Minnesota

Rating: 2.5

Commentators: Eric Bischoff, Steve “Mongo” McMichael and Bobby Heenan

 

We started things off with Eric Bischoff and STEVE MCMICHAEL opening the show, welcoming us to WCW Nitro. Seeing Bischoff as a babyface is extremely rare for me, knowing what’s going to happen in about a year’s time in WCW. Steve McMichael was one of the most annoying and worst announcers I’ve ever had to listen to in my life. I have no idea how long this guy will be doing commentary but I’m praying it’s a short term deal before Tony Schiavone is on the scene.

Bobby Heenan interrupts. He sucks up to McMichael after supposedly making some kind of remark about him. Very hard to figure out what he was on about.

 

Jushin Thunder Liger vs ‘Flyin Brian

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I enjoy re-watcing old things and, for the majority of the time, I don’t really have an issue with watching old stuff with modern eyes. I did have an issue with this match. I know how this is a very historic and romanticised match but time has not been kind to this one. I’m sure at the time this blew people away and the fans were going crazy for the match. That being said, this was a very sloppy match!

The match was OK for about the first minute when Liger hit a moonsault which barely connected. He went for a big boot which… barely connected. They attempted a hurricanrana spot and it completely fell apart as they both fell down. The head-scissors by Brian the second time was a vast improvement. There was some ridiculous spot where Liger tried to dump Brian over the rope but Brian ended up going through the middle rope. The crowd broke out into a USA chant because of course they did.

Steve McMichael, I don’t know who he said it to, but he gave either Liger or Brian the following advice: “Give it to him the way he wants it.” At least it’s nice to know McMichael was actually into this match. When he wasn’t invested in the match he made fun of Bobby Heenan with every pun in the book including “Bobby The Stain.” Sick burn.

Liger almost killed Brian with the powerbomb. Liger hit a Frankenstiener on Brian and PLANTED HIMSELF. I shrieked. His head dropped to the floor as he sent Brian across the ring. I’ve concluded that this was way worse than the Bayley/Sasha Frankensteiner from NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn a number of years ago. Oddly enough, Jushin Liger WRESTLED AT NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn a number of years ago. How he walked away fine after this is a mystery.

Brian rolled Liger up for the win and a HUGE POP. The crowd loved Flyin’ Brian in the first ever match of WCW Nitro. It wasn’t a terrible match but there was a lot of messy spots that could have ended way worse than it did.

 

They showed WCW US Champion Sting cutting a promo on Ric Flair basically vowing to beat Ric Flair on this episode of Nitro. Straight to the point, short and all you needed.

Then we cut to WCW World Champion Hulk Hogan… and PASTAMANIA was running wild! Now I’ve heard that Hogan did this back in the 90s… I had no idea it was like this. Hogan had a restaurant in Mall of America based in Minneapolis, which was where this particular show was based. First of, just the idea that this Nitro was based in a US Mall shopping centre. People were just doing their shopping and going down these massive escalators and watching these guys wrestle. WWE is not adventurous enough to try this in 2018 and that’s a shame.

So Bischoff interviewed Hogan with these little kids surrounding them, getting autographs with Hogan. Jimmy Hart was also there. Hogan cut this astonishing promo on PastaMania, saying PastaMania was running through his veins. He said that he was slimming trim with pasta! Yes, pasta! He said he was going to beat Big Bubba Rogers to retain the WCW title tonight. The PastaManiacs were going to help him win. Man, could you imagine WWE trying this with like “Roman Noodles” or something in 2018? PastaMania lasted less than a year, for those of you wondering.

 

Sting vs Ric Flair

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Before we actually get started, I have no idea if this match was for the WCW United States Championship or not. Pro Wrestling Wikia, who has details of almost ever show for like WWE, WCW, ECW etc., has this down as a US title match, which I though it was. However, The Internet Wrestling Database had this down as a non-title match. Either way, Sting vs Ric Flair is a match that will never get old. It never changes but it never needs to change. Ric Flair is the greatest seller in the history of pro wrestling. Sting going crazy is awesome and he’s one of the best babyfaces of all time.

Before we actually got the match, we had an invasion… LEX LUGER arrived in WCW. The fans were going nuts as Eric Bischoff played it up as if he was invading from the WWF. He said Luger wasn’t supposed to be there. Sting and Flair were confused and Luger was asked to leave, which he eventually did.

Luger debuting here was actually a pretty big deal at the time since, like the night before, he interfered in the main-event of WWF SummerSlam. There was no like internet or anything for the fans to know that Luger was coming. So when he showed up without warning, on Nitro, these fans didn’t know what to think. Are the WWF invading? Is he signed? What’s going on? Later on in the night, it was clearer as to what was going on.

Sting and Flair, after being confused for a solid minute or so, then started to fight. Sting Gorilla Pressed Flair OVER AND OVER AND OVER again. Sting ran wild. Flair turned things around with a poke to the eye. Flair and Sting somehow did the smoothest crossbody to the outside I’ve ever seen. Sting Gorilla Pressed Ric into the ring. Flair going to the top rope and then getting thrown off will never get old to me. ARN ANDERSON then came running down to the ring. It sounded as if Flair and Arn were doing a break-up angle. McMichael theorised that Arn had been down at PastaMania.

Sting made a comeback. Flair sold a clothesline on the apron as if he got shocked with a taser. Sting, like a completely doofus, distracted himself by talking to Arn when Flair did the chop block and put Sting in the Figure Four Leg Lock. This Figure Four  was awesome as Sting fought back, pumped up his chests and was ready to turn the hold around to put the pressure on Flair. Sting fought and fought but before he could turn it over, Flair got the ropes to break the hold.

So then Arn Anderson got in the ring and the bell rang. Having re-winded the show, it appears to me that Flair was DQ’d because he didn’t break on five after getting the ropes.  Arn broke up the Figure Four and he and Flair brawled to the back. Arn got in the ring to get his jacket and that was that. A very lame finish to an otherwise vintage Sting vs Ric Flair match.

 

Then almost immediately, SCOTT NORTON ran down to the ring. When I first was watching this, I had no idea who he was. Part of the problem was that they never mentioned on commentary who this guy was. He confronted Bischoff about a contract. Mongo stepped up to Scott. Randy Savage came down to say he’d fight him. Bischoff said no and then they cut to a Sabu hype promo.

This hype promo hurt my eyes but it couldn’t help but showcase that 90% of Sabu’s moves were just massive botches. This included a spot where Sabu did a moonsault onto a table which didn’t break. I assume this was all WCW Saturday Night footage or something.

Mean Gene Okerlund came down to congratulate the winner of the WCW Harley Davidson Sweepstakes they did. Congrats to Mike Hill from Alabama.

They plugged WCW Saturday Night with Sting and Randy Savage teaming up as well as WCW Fall Brawl.

They then showed ANOTHER video package. I was begging for a match. Michael Wallstreet, otherwise known as IRS, said that WCW is all about money and power. He said the “New Generation” was now the “Few Generation”. This was referencing WWF’s new change in creative direction. He said he was a real player and… Michael Wallstreet was here.

 

Hulk Hogan (c) vs Big Bubba Rogers for the WCW title

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This was every Hulk Hogan vs a big monster match you’ve ever seen. Very slow but when Hogan was attacking, the fans went crazy. PastaMania was running wild. They announced Randy Savage vs Scott Norton for next week. I’ve always thought in history that nobody threw worse punches in a match than Shane McMahon. Big Bubba, otherwise known as Big Boss Man in the WWF, threw some disgusting punches in the corner. This may not have been as bad as Shane but these were right up there. Heenan claimed Big Bubba knew martial arts which can’t have been true after watching these punches. God bless Big Bubba, who is actually not with us anymore, but these punches were that horrible.

Hogan was Irish whipped into a corner and responded with a big boot which missed Big Bubba by about 100 miles. All efforts to cover this up were fruitless including Bischoff claiming that “the heel” connected. In hindsight, that could quite possibly have been an impromptu inside joke attempt by Bischoff. Then again, I could just be overthinking this but it is WCW after all.

The referee grabbed Hogan by the hair as a means to pull him off of Big Bubba. Hogan pulled out the most heelish move in the match as he choked out Big Bubba with a jacket as Jimmy Hart ran distraction. I swear to all the gods, he did this and he’s the biggest babyface in the company. Then Hogan started stomping on his face…. how this man was a beloved babyface is mind-boggling when you see all these on-screen jerk-ass moments from Hogan.

Mongo’s jokes included “Bobby Hernia” among other lame lines. Big Bubba hit the uranage. Hogan made the comeback, hit the Leg Drop and got the pin. The crowd went batshit crazy for the guy after he won. PastaMania was truly running wild. Not particularly a tremendous in-ring match but I didn’t have high expectations going in for Hogan vs Big Bubba. The crowd loved it throughout which I guess makes all the difference so why not. This was a success for PastaMania.

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The geeks from Dungeon of Doom ran in to jump Hogan. Hogan fought them off when Luger came down to aid the Hulkster. Luger came down as Hogan was already beating on the Dungeon of Doom! The heels escaped. Hogan and Luger went face-to-face. Randy Savage and Sting came down to calm them down. Believe it or not, we got some “Luger” chants.

Mean Gene came down to interview them after they both somewhat calmed down. Hogan asked what Luger was doing here. I wish Luger actually went with what Mongo said earlier and explained that he was going to PastaMania. There was just a bunch of wrestlers in his path as he wanted to get an order in! XD

Luger actually said he was here for one thing and that was the WCW title. He confirmed that Hogan was the only world champion in wrestling right now. He said he was here to get it on with the big boys. Hogan said that he was going to be champion forever. Hogan asked Luger to shake his hand to have the match next week for the title. They shook hands. They pushed each other as Savage and Sting held them apart.

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Overall, I actually thought it was an OK show. I don’t know how long the hour-long episodes of WCW Nitro is going to last but I hope it’s like this for a whilte. I really think weekly wrestling shows need to be around an hour. If there’s one thing we can learn from wrestling’s past is that less is more. This was a very basic show to watch as it was not over the course of 3 hours and the structure for the majority of it was simple to follow.

Liger vs Flyin’ Brian didn’t really age well and was very sloppy at times but Sting vs Flair was everything it needed to be for me except the finish. Hogan vs Big Bubba got the crowd popping and the Hogan vs Luger main-event for next week was easily set up.

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That was that. Quick preview of episode #2: If the video packages are anything to go by, Michael Wallstreet and Sabu will both appear on WCW Nitro. We’ve got Randy Savage vs Scott Norton and of course, WCW World Champion Hulk Hogan vs newcomer Lex Luger for the WCW World title.

Thank you for reading and I’ll be back with Episode #2 of WCW Nitro as part of the Retro Express.

Retro Express – Bad Blood 2003

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Once upon a time, WWE used to be pretty big on building up interesting storylines for their wrestlers. From the opening act to the main-eventers, everyone involved in the show had a reason for being there. On Bad Blood, as amazing as it is, everyone on this show had a reason for being there. Everyone from Theodore Long at ringside for the opening match to Mick Foley as the special referee in the main-event. As simple as this show was put together, did the storyline work pay off with RAW’s first brand-exclusive US pay-per-view of 2003?

 

WWE Bad Blood 2003

Date: June 15th 2003

Brand: RAW

City: Houston, Texas

Attendance: 10,000

 

The Dudley Boyz vs Christopher Nowinski and Rodney Mack w/Teddy Long

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As mentioned earlier, this was a heavy storyline time for WWE. Every little program on Monday Night RAW in 2003 did its best to tell a storyline, including this simple tag team match with the Dudleyz facing Rodney Mack and Christopher Nowinski. Teaming up the Harvard graduate Nowinski with the new up-and-comer Rodney Mack, combined with the black supremacy advocate Teddy Long as their manager, was a bizarre combination to say the least. However, at least they got something. Not that I’d want to do an angle like this or anything, as I wouldn’t, but at least it gave the audience a reason to take notice once they got on television.

They did a backstage segment on Heat where Teddy Long pestered D-Von Dudley, questioning why his brother Bubba always told D-Von the get the tables. At least there was more to this match than just throwing two tag teams together. Giving D-Von an angle going into this match at least gets fans interested in him. Rodney Mack was also undefeated going into this event.

Mack and D-Von began angry lock-up before the match even began. We got early “we want tables” chant. Mack had a seriously hard time selling for the Dudleyz. The Dudleyz started off well and Bubba was a great babyface but then the distraction came from Teddy. Teddy was on the apron distracting Bubba and Bubba began waiting for Mack to jump him. He waits and waits and waits until Mack came in to throw a horrible clothesline.

We got a “Harvard sucks” chant directed at Nowinski. Mack hit a pretty decent spinebuster. Bubba got the hot tag, which included the big man hitting a top rope crossbody onto Nowinski! Keep in mind, this was not the slimmest guy in the world! A big man flying like that is very much a joy to see!

Nowinski, who was wearing a metal face protector worth $30,000 according to Jim Ross, tried to use it to no avail. Mack went for the “Black Out” submission but it was countered. The Dudleyz hit the “Wassup” while Teddy was yelling on the apron. Bubba told D-Von to the table but Teddy got in his way, tying into the segment from earlier. Mack attacked D-Von from behind while Nowinski hit Bubba with the metal mask and pinned him.

This was a slightly-below average tag team match with Mack being rather sloppy while the Dudleyz tried their best to get a good match out of him. Nowinski seemed to just be there. In terms of promoting new talent, the right team won. In terms of who the better workers were however, the wrong team won.

Match Rating: *1/2

 

Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler talked about the Redneck Triathlon scheduled between Stone Cold Steve Austin and Eric Bischoff. The Redneck Triathlon would consist of three rounds, with the first round being a burping contest and the second round being a “pie-eating” contest. Jerry was excited for the pie-eating contest. Now, I remembered the beginning and the end of this Redneck Triathlon. The pie-eating contest was what I couldn’t remember and it did strike me as odd regarding Jerry’s comment about the pie-eating contest. In hindsight, I should have known what that pie-ating contest was ACTUALLY about. More on that later.

We began with the burping contest, with JR claiming to have once won a burping contest in the eight grade. Both gladiators were stood with Terri Runnels doing the introductions while Stone Cold drank beer. Terri went over the rules as Stone Cold did starfish jumps, which is the perfect way to prepare for a burping contest. There would be three rounds of burps, with the loudest combined burps winning the contest. Bischoff went first and delivered a weak burp. This was probably the only legitimate burp in the whole thing. Then it was Austin’s turn. Some may have been upset that the majority of the burps were all sound effects pipped in by the production group and it that it was not a legitimate burping contest. However, this burp was delivered so well that you just couldn’t not laugh at it. Jim Ross’ and Jerry Lawler’s laugh after Austin “unleashed” this burp was great! This was exceptional delivery by production and by Stone Cold’s expressions.

Austin demanded another beer as Eric did his second burp. It was a decent attempt by Eric but Terri was disgusted.  Austin had a pretty weak second burp, which the Texas crowd loved. Eric was also disgusted by this and then delivered his third burp, which was slightly above average. Austin got the last laugh as he unloaded with a long final burp, with the later part of it sounding like a toilet was being flushed!

Austin won and then delivered a post-contest promo, congratulating Eric on being a good competitor and himself for winning such a competition. His UFC-like promo was actually pretty funny! Eric told Austin to see a doctor and that was that. Austin was 1-0 up in the Redneck Triathlon.

Moments like this really made me love the Austin and Bischoff co-general manager deal, with Eric almost coming off as likeable as he was involved in these funny angles with Austin. The crowd loved this burping contest as did I.

 

Test vs Scott Steiner for the managerial services of Stacy Keibler

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A lot of you reading this might not believe your eyes but Scott Steiner is probably one of my favourite wrestlers of all time. This guy was just one-of-a-kind in terms of his in-ring style, his promos and just the character as a whole. I ALWAYS paid attention whenever this guy was around.

In WWE around this time though, he hadn’t had the greatest of starts since his return at Survivor Series 2002. His program with Triple H, including a truly devastatingly bad World title match at Royal Rumble 2003, had seen Steiner’s stock drop significantly. Now he’d been put with Test and Stacy Keibler, as the two vied for the affection of the lovely Stacy.

This match was by FAR not one of the greatest technically gifted matches I’ve ever seen. I can’t even consider this a good match as far as the in-ring side of things is concerned. As far as the entertainment however, this match was in a league of its own and mostly because of Steiner.

One of the other highlights of this match was Stacy Keibler, who looked amazing on this particular show. Stacy tried to get in the ring but her “ex” Test yanked her off the apron to berate her. As amazing as it sounds, the spot that followed was one of the highlights of the entire pay-per-view and it was the mother of all botches! Scott got onto the apron as he had to save this love interest, who was in peril at the hands of the bad guy. This was Mario saving Princess Peach from Bowser. Mario would jump in and save the day. Scott Steiner ALSO decided to jump in and save the day! He leaped off the apron but didn’t have his balance right, so he slipped and plummeted down. He landed on the floor but at least he had the instinct to put his hands up for the double axe handle that had obviously been the original spot. He drops down, hits Test in the knee and Test slips as if he slipped turning around in the shower. This was one of the all-time great botches in the history of wrestling and it was actually a lot more entertaining than if he had just successfully pulled off this double axe handle!

So Scott Steiner beat up Test and when they got into the ring to start the match, Test begged off Steiner. Now, there have been many babyfaces that have fallen for this obvious trap set by the heels to lure him into trouble. These spots make the heroes seem like such fools. Scott Steiner was not like that as instead of backing off, Steiner said “Nah. Fuck You!” and beat up Test some more! Not that I’d encourage wrestlers to swear as they’re on the rampage but I laughed so hard at this. I’m just amazed that my DVD didn’t censor this moment as Steiner unloaded with swearing throughout this match. Steiner wasn’t having any of Test’s shenanigans.

Steiner did some press-ups and began yelling at the referee. Test used Stacy as a human shield to gain the advantage. Test then threw Steiner into the steps. I know a lot of people had mixed opinions about Test as a performer, who sadly passed away in 2007. All I’ll say is that he was effective in making people hate him! That’s a key part to be a good villain, having an unlikeabillity factor that even “great” in-ring work can’t get around. The douche level of Test’s character was high as he mocked Steiner and yelled “wait until tonight” at Stacy as he blew her a kiss. The fans chanted “you suck” as Test got the heat. Test did a sleeper hold as the fans rallied behind Steiner with “lets go Steiner” chants. Jim Ross had a very nice line about Stacy when he said that her heart was as beautiful as her face. He was… damn on point.

Steiner damn near killed Test when Test came off the top rope and Steiner caught him by the waist, and dropped him over his shoulder which I think was meant to be a belly-to-belly suplex. I like Steiner but Test must have been fearing for his well-being when Steiner caught him by the waist! Jim Ross called this a Northern Light suplex turned into a slam. Steiner ran wild. Test bounced off the rope and it appear that he was going up to take a back drop but he leaped up, and Steiner caught him in a powerbomb position. Steiner simply threw him over his shoulder and continued to run wild. This was NOT the best night for Steiner in terms of his in-ring wrestling.

Steiner kicked out of a Full Nelson Slam. Test missed a big boot but Scott hit a sloppy reverse DDT. This got a near fall and Steiner’s reaction was to simply yell “HUH?” at the top of his lungs! That was very funny. Steiner hit a pumphandle slam for a near fall. Test undid the turnbuckle when Stacy popped up on the apron. Test grabbed Stacy and said some very non-PG and not nice things about Stacy, calling her names. Stacy slapped him and Steiner almost bumped into Stacy. Test hit a big boot out of nowhere which I honestly thought was the finish! Steiner kicked out. Test grabbed the chair and pushed Stacy away with it. Test went to hit Steiner with the chair and instead hit the ropes, bouncing the chair back to hit his own head. Steiner hit the flatliner and won the managerial services of Stacy. Stacy was happy and leaped onto Steiner in celebration. Stacy got off Steiner and then began selling her backside, implying that Test’s chair push was a lot more mighty than we realised.

This was an entertaining match to watch but not by any means a good one! We had some very noticeable botches from Steiner but the heat was there for this match. Test was a good heel. The match picked up with the finish and the bully Test was in the end overcome as the two babyfaces stood up against him. Even Stacy was being brave as Test eventually let his cockiness get the best out of him and paid for it. This was fine, simple story-telling.

Match Rating: **

 

Bischoff and Stone Cold talked backstage. Stone Cold described burping as being an “art form” in Texas, which was a great line. Eric vowed to win the pie-eating contest. Eric said he did some research and invited Austin to meet some ladies, that were set to take part in the pie-eating. By taking part, I don’t mean actually eating real bakery. Apparently, THEY were the pie. In case you were wondering, this show was NOT PG in the slightest.

Eric wanted first dibs on eating the “pie” and Austin allowed this, as long as he decided what pie Eric was going to eat first. I can’t have been the only one that could see where this was going, and I’d never seen this pie-eating contest before.

 

Christian (c) vs Booker T for the Intercontinental Championship

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Picture this in your head. RAW had just recently reinstated the Intercontinental Championship that they inexplicably retired at No Mercy 2002. Christian won the title in a battle royal. Christian made his first defense of the title in a promising match between himself and Booker T, who happened to be from Houston, Texas where the Bad Blood pay-per-view was being held. You had all the potential in the world to make these two actual top stars on the red brand. The fans were going nuts for Booker T in one of the most heated moments in the entire show. This could have been something really special. Not like in the level of Randy Savage and Ricky Steamboat from WrestleMania III but a memorable match that’ll be remembered through the ages. Well, spoiler alert, but that didn’t happen.

On a show which included MANY non-wrestling segments featuring Stone Cold and Bischoff, Booker and Christian got SEVEN MINUTES of wrestling which resulted in an incredibly rushed match between these two great workers. Lawler did have a great back-handed compliment when he claimed that “there’s a lot of suckas in Houston.” Jerry Lawler in 2003 had some of the best crack in all of WWE in 2003! With that said, Lawler was pretty bad for the large majority for this match on commentary which we’ll get to. Jim Ross claimed that Christian leaving as the champion would be a miracle, which I think probably did Christian more harm than good.

The match started off very well, as these two worked well together. Christian sold one particular back drop from Booker very well as he was thrown HIGH into the air. Lawler was hardly paying attention to any of this as he constantly made jokes about Booker’s previously convictions. Booker T was once a criminal and Lawler mentioned this ALL THE TIME while on commentary during this time. It’s not like if Jim Ross mentioned it and praised Booker for overcoming it. No, Lawler made joke after joke during this match. Did NOT make Booker come off well either.

Christian tried winning by putting his feet on the ropes. JR completely ignored Christian hitting Booker with the Book End, in Booker’s hometown. Booker hit an axe kick on the ropes. Booker hit a top rope dropkick and followed it up with a spinaroonie. Booker went for the Scissors Kick but Christian ran away and took the title with him. I was initially pretty upset at this as this would have been a match that ended in a count out in the challenger’s hometown. Then the referee Jack Doan got a microphone and told Christian that if he didn’t get back in the ring, he’d forfeit the title. This announcement got a big reaction but when I think about it, how did Jack Doan have the right to make this call that Christian would lose the title if he walked out? He’s not like an on-screen authority figure or anything.

So WWE teased the count out finish but the referee put a stop to that. The fans got excited at the thought of seeing a clear winner in this match. Instead, Christian runs into the ring and runs right back out. Booker chases him around the ring and they get back into the “squared circle” of WWE. Christian then grabbed the belt and hit Booker in the face, causing a disqualification.

The fans were irate with this finish, chanting “bullshit” and these chants were pretty much justified. They teased a count-out finish only for it to end in seven minutes via disqualification. THIS was a let down.

Match Rating: **1/4

 

We had an advertisement for Jim Ross’ cook book, which I’ve got to get a hold of one of these days! Kevin Nash was taping up his wrists as he was set to challenge Triple H for the World title in a Hell In A Cell match.

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Jerry Lawler was in the ring for the pie-eating contest. He brought out Eric and commended him for his selection of “pie” for this event. Austin came out to a BIG POP in Texas. Austin reminded Eric that he would select Eric’s pie as agreed to earlier. Austin talked about Eric being into “mature women” which further solidified that I knew what was coming. Austin questioned Eric’s ability to please a woman with Eric insisting that he would be fine. Austin called Bischoff “Eric Jerk-Off” which the crowd popped for. Austin complimented Eric’s choice of women but Austin said that Eric would not be having any of their “pie” as he brought his choice for Eric. It was revealed to be Mae Young, who was accompanied by  Fabulous Moolah. Eric had a disgusted face which almost looked like he was about to sneeze. Austin just smiled with an awesome grin on his face.

Jerry protested this decision as he claimed it was supposed to be a pie-eating contest and not “cheesecake” that would be eaten. Disgusting, Jerry. Mae stuck her tongue out and Eric insisted that Mae put her tongue back in her mouth and called her a nasty old hag. Pretty mean words from Easy E. Eric refused to eat the pie but Austin called him a chicken. Mae tried to grope Eric but he told her to get her hand off his ass. Austin called Eric a piss-ant and demanded that Lawler declare him the winner. Eric cut him off and decided to go through with it. As shocking as it was, the fans started chanting “eat the pie” to which Eric responded by kissing her. Eric thought this was enough but Austin told him that this was a pie-eating contest. Mae low-blowed Eric and she was instructed to make Eric eat the pie. Mae gave Eric the stinkface while wearing a thong. Jim Ross called this as if he’d just watched Mankind being thrown off the Hell in a Cell. Austin was laughing, with Eric being furious and demanding that Austin goes next. Austin gave Mae Young the stunner, with Mae selling this possibly even worse than when Vince McMahon sold the first stunner that Austin gave him in 1997. Austin forfeited this contest and demanded beer. It was 1-1 in the redneck triathlon.

The times certainly have changed in the “tastes” of wrestling fans! This was a NUTTY angle but I guess nothing else could be expected considering that this was an angle involving Mae Young who, god bless her soul, was willing to do ANYTHING to entertain the fans. She probably loved doing this kind of stuff and the fans seemed to love it to a degree, especially when they chanted “eat the pie” at her. Mae was an entertainer to say the least!

As for the rest of it, it’s funny how Eric won the contest but Austin still seemed like the real winner of that contest in the end. Eric won but Austin still found a way to outsmart Eric Bischoff. The fans loved it and I guess that’s all that matters.

 

We got a vignette for Gail Kim, who would be debuting soon. As a matter of fact, she actually won the Women’s Championship in her debut a few weeks later. I hope I do get to review more of Gail Kim’s matches in the near future of this Retro Express as she was a great female worker.

Jonathan Coachman interviewed La Resistance, who were Rene Dupree and Sylvain Grenier at this time. They were challenging Kane and Rob Van Dam for the World Tag Team Championship next. Sylvain said that this was a big night and that he hated Texas. They buried then-US President George W Bush, which got a lot of boos in Texas. They dedicated the match to then-French President Jacques Chirac. This is actually amazing when you think about the political situation for the likes of US and the UK in 2016. It was amazing that the countrymen of the US and the French actually liked the people that ran their country at the time. Meanwhile, the US currently have a president-elect that they apparently don’t want in the White House anymore. It’s amazing.

 

Kane (c) and Rob Van Dam (c) vs “La Resistance” Sylvain Grainer and Rene Dupree for the World Tag Team Championship

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As far as putting the new heel tag team over, this was NOT the way to do it. La Resistance came out and Jim Ross called them jackasses, which was actually pretty funny. La Resistance got some serious heat. There were some seriously angry fans in the front row. Funnily enough, they showed the graphic for the old World Tag Team title design from the Attitude Era but the champions came out with the new belts that had been around since 2002! As I watched this DVD, I was rather annoyed at WWE for editing out the original theme songs that RVD and Kane came out too. Kane actually had been coming out to “Slow Chemical” from Finger Eleven at that time, which is one of my favourite wrestling theme songs of all time, so seeing that not make the DVD very much upset me.

RVD and Kane beat up La Resistance, with the storyline going in being that the champions were not on the same page. RVD did a great springbroad crossbody as he took over early. La Resistance turned the tide for a bit by planting RVD with a DDT. Kane got the hot tag and ran SERIOUSLY wild on the two french men. I mean Kane was DESTROYING these men all on his own as his partner had been beaten up by these two. Kane was having to contend with the heels on his own while RVD simply WATCHED from the apron. He eventually got the tag while Kane was still getting the better of these two heels. He’s doing fine on his own and then RVD got in. As Kane is battling these men on the outside, RVD goes for a dive and hits Kane accidentally when there was no need for him to go for the dive at all. RVD was attacked and hit the Double Flapjack for the pin as La Resistance won the World Tag Team titles.

The booking of this match caused steam to come from my ears. The whole angle was that Kane and RVD were having issues but here in this match, Kane was completely doing fine on his own while RVD cost them the match by getting involved when Kane was coping fine. The fact was Kane could have beaten these men by himself and he would have retained the title. How could La Resistance possibly have been taking seriously at this point? I guess La Resistance are remembered nowadays so I guess they became somewhat of a memorable tag team. However, this match was pretty lame and pretty perplexing.

Match Rating: *1/2

 

Goldberg vs Chris Jericho

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A common trope of mine is immediately looking up Dave Meltzer’s rating for the match I just saw during a Retro Express. Mine and Meltzer’s ratings are usually right in-line but for this match, I noticed that he gave this match three and a half stars out of a max total of five. Maybe it’s a mistake to watch old matches with modern eyes but I have NO IDEA what type of match he was watching. In case you were wondering what made me un-optimistic about the actual Goldberg/Brock Lesnar match for Survivor Series this year, THIS was the match.

I know these two had heat with each other around this time but even so, the wrestlers with the biggest heat with each other can usually put together some really good matches. Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart had some sublime matches back in the day. This Goldberg/Jericho match was NOT sublime.

Goldberg went for a lock-up and it was one of those lock-ups from a women’s match, that sees both wrestlers tumble out of the ring. Goldberg hit a World’s Strongest Slam as the fans chanted Y2J. Goldberg dominated early on, even gorilla pressing Jericho onto the ropes. Goldberg went for a spear through the wall but Jericho moved out of the way as Goldberg drove himself through the barricade. This actually played into the storyline going in, which Jericho claimed that he’d win the match by making Goldberg angry and sloppy. This was actually pretty good story-telling.

Jericho tried to get at Goldberg but referee Charles Robinson stopped him. I’m not sure why he did this as it wasn’t like the doctors came out to check on Goldberg. Jericho drove Goldberg into the ringpost. Goldberg was bleeding and his arm had been hurt from the spear, which Jericho took advantage of. Goldberg was working with one arm, actually selling the injury. Now, Goldberg rarely had to take the heat in many of his WCW matches. The idea was that Goldberg would destroy the opponent, hit his finishers and beat him early. In WWE however, he was not booked in this manner. He had to sell for Jericho so he tried to work with one arm. While he did this, his ring-work with one arm was pretty bad. If in doubt, DON’T HAVE GOLDBERG SELL.

Jericho locked on a Fujiwara Armbar. Jericho was caught off the top with a high knee. The fans started booing. Goldberg was not able to pull off working with one arm, struggling with an one armed hip toss. “Goldberg sucks” chants began to roar from the crowd. Jericho hit a dropkick and Goldberg waffled to the ground. We got more boos. Jericho hit the lionsault on the face of Goldberg for a near fall. Jericho went for a Lionsault and Goldberg was supposed to catch him but it went ALL WRONG. Goldberg hit the spear and we got even LOUDER “Goldberg sucks” chants. Goldberg went for the jackhammer but Jericho caught Charles Robinson in the eyes and hit a low-blow on Goldberg. This got a lot of cheers and big Y2J chants. Keep in mind that Goldberg was supposed to be the face and Jericho was supposed to be the heel!

Jericho tried the Walls of Jericho but Goldberg powered out, hit the spear and jackhammer, and won the match. And to put a cherry on top, Goldberg slid outside of the ring and got in the face of a fan that booed him throughout the match. A wonderful way to put over Goldberg as a babyface.

To be fair, Goldberg did actually get cheers when he won the match and Jericho tried ALL that he could but even he could not get a good match out of this man. Jericho’s on my list of greatest workers of all time as he had a reputation, in my mind, of being able to have a good match with everyone he wrestled. I remember him having a good match with Ryback at Money In The Bank 2013 for crying out loud! Ryback was mocked as being a “copy” of Goldberg, yet Goldberg couldn’t even have a good match with Jericho. This will be hard to hear for a lot of fans but Goldberg had a HORRIBLE night here.

Match Rating: *1/2

 

They showed a pig pen and Lawler questioned whether Jim Ross had brought his relatives along to the show. Terri was with Austin and Eric again. They spun the wheel for the third round and it landed on “sing-off” which Austin was upset about. Austin asked Terri if she thought that Steve was any good. She said no. Eric vowed to beat Austin in front of these rednecks.

 

Shawn Michaels vs Ric Flair

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This was probably tied with the main-event as far as the best match for the show, with these two legends going out. Despite that, I was still a little bit let down. This was certainly not at the level of their WrestleMania 24 match but I did expect something special and I really didn’t get it to be honest.

Shawn got a HUGE reaction from the Texas crowd. The two legends messed with each other with taunts but that came to an end when Shawn slapped Ric and mocked him. There was some nice mat wrestling between the two. There was a very old school feel to this match. Shawn slapped Ric and Ric came close to doing the Flair Flop but was able to keep himself up with one foot! Michaels dove onto Ric. Remember when Steiner was able to see through Test’s attempts at begging him off? Well Ric tried to beg Shawn off in this match… and it worked. I can at least accept the possibility of Shawn being conflicted as he was wrestling his idol that he respected, and not to mention that Ric is older and more experienced than Shawn so FINE.

HBK and Flair chopped the hell out of each other. Flair did the chop block. Flair worked on the legs and locked on the Figure Four Leg Lock, that Shawn was able to get the ropes for to break it up. Flair shoved referee Earl Hebner but Earl shoved back. The second time on this show where a referee stepped over his boundaries when calling a match, three if you count Charles Robinson holding off Jericho when he shouldn’t have. Ric got cocky and Shawn made him pay with an enziguri. Flair went up to the top and of course, Shawn threw him off the top turnbuckle.

There was a great exchange when Shawn went for the Super Kick but Flair countered it into the figure four leg lock. Shawn countered this into a small package and then locked on his own figure four. This was some solid professional wrestling right here. Flair poked HBK and they traded roll-ups. HBK hit a superplex and it looked like Shawn struggled to get Flair up for this superplex. HBK got a table and set it up. Flair teased suplexing Shawn through the table but Shawn got out and ended up laying Flair onto this table.

NOW, I personally was taken out of the match a little when they brought out the table. Firstly, it’s supposed to be a regular singles match. Since when are TABLES allowed in a normal match? Yes, Shawn didn’t HIT Flair with this table but he still tried to “cheat” by using a weapon to his advantage. That, to me, should be DQ but Earl let this happen. Secondly, I was very much into the regular singles match and the old-school wrestling behind all of this. Instead, when Shawn introduced the table, it just seemed so out of place to me. I just don’t think this was the time for a spot like this.

Shawn super-kicked the interfering Randy Orton and then jumped off the top and onto Ric, going through the table. Flair bled from the back. Flair was able to take the ref out by low-blowing Earl and Shawn at the same time. HBK fired back and dropped the elbow. Shawn superkicked Flair, Orton hit Shawn with the chair and RIC FLAIR PINNED SHAWN MICHAELS.

Maybe I’m in the small minority here but the table spot just completely took me out of this match. It was a great match up until that point but to me, it just negated the point of the match which was just to see who was better. Instead, Orton and the table got involved and it just became another shenanigan-filled match on RAW. I wanted a clear-cut winner and instead I got this. I think a few fans that were in that building felt a little cheated out of this finish. It was nice to see Flair get the victory over Shawn though.

Match Rating: ***1/4

 

The time had come for the sing off. Eric came out to literally NO REACTION as we’d seen him more than anyone on this show, so the fans were kind of uncaring when he came out. Eric said he’d sing his own theme song but he instead lip-synced his own theme song which I thoroughly enjoyed, as did he based on the way he “sung” this! Austin cut in and called him out on his lip-sync. They went back-and-forth on this like they were kids arguing about the smallest things. Austin told Eric that he sucked and ordered him to do it again. Eric sung badly and Austin called him pathetic. Austin suggested they re-spin the wheel and it came up with “Pig Pen Fun” which involved the pig pen from earlier on. Austin said that whoever threw their opponent into the pig pen would be the winner. Austin deputised the crowd to stop Eric from leaving. Someone threw Eric back in from the crowd.

Austin beat up Eric, stomped a mudhole and hit a Stone Cold Stunner. Eric actually sold this pretty well, with his selling of it probably being around 5000% better than Mae Young selling it earlier on in the night. Austin took Eric to the stage and threw him off it, with Eric landing in the safest way possible. Austin was declared the winner by Lilian Garcia as he drank some beer. Jim Ross had an awesome line in which he claimed that “those pigs may need counselling being so close to Eric Bischoff!” That was a serious contender for line of the night. Austin celebrated for about 30 hours but the fans didn’t seem to mind.

The fans loved all this and to be fair, I enjoyed a lot of the moments from this Redneck Triathlon. However, this went on way too long for me to care at the end. The burping contest was good and Austin had some brilliant banter but in the end, it was way too long. The ending made me feel as if this were a house show, which I don’t think was the purpose. This did not feel like it should have been on pay-per-view and it does rather upset me at how long this went, considering that Booker and Christian only went seven minutes.

 

Triple H (c) vs Kevin Nash in a Hell in a Cell match for the World Heavyweight Championship with Mick Foley as the special guest referee

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I have to say something about the video package they did for this match. They had the video package where they recapped the rivalry and did an amazing job at selling you on the idea that this type of match was important, rare and dangerous. The music, which was Headstrong by Trapt, fit right in as HHH, Foley and Nash beat the hell out of each other during a RAW segment and it was wonderful stuff. The video packages back in the “ruthless aggression era” used to be quality stuff.

I actually went through a phase with a mate of mine where he used to rave at me everyday about this song, and actually serenaded me with it everyday! And you know what… I had no problem with this. If you’ve never heard of Headstrong by Trapt, PLEASE go and listen to it. It’s fantastic stuff.

The special referee Mick Foley actually got the biggest reaction out of everyone, which should tell you how much the fans cared about Triple H and Kevin Nash. Triple H tried to poke the bear that is Mick Foley but Nash clobbered him. Nash smashed HHH’s with elbows. Nash slowly beat up HHH by driving him into the ringpost and the cell wall, as well as the corner of the cell. The fans cared little for Nash at this point. Nash threw HHH into the steel steps. Nash tried throwing the steps at HHH but thank got that Hunter ran out of the way as that would have been bad news.

In a pretty creative spot, Nash went for a Jackknife Powerbomb but Triple H used the cell itself to get out of it. HHH got out a toolbox and smashed Nash in the knee and the head with a hammer. Foley took the hammer from Triple H and pushed him down. Foley challenged HHH but HHH backed off. HHH grated Nash’s head with the cell wall. After a struggle, HHH wedged a screwdriver into Nash’s head. Foley yelled at Triple H. Triple H grabbed a bat wrapped in barbed wire and hit Nash in the gut. Nash fired back with punches and smashed Hunter in the head with the bat which got a big reaction. HHH was busted open. Nash wedged the bat into the turnbuckle and did a snake eyes onto it for a near fall.  There was a “big lazy” sign in the front row.

HHH smashed a wooden create over Nash. Triple H grabbed a sledgehammer but Foley tried to wrestle it away which got some boos. It made sense why, as it seemed for all the world at this point that Foley was screwing HHH in a no disqualification match. HHH attacked Foley which got some cheers. Nash did the drop toe hold spot onto the steel steps which felt slowly done. This got a near fall. Triple H hit Nash and Foley with a chair. Foley was bleeding as he whipped out Mr Socko. He locked on the Mandible Claw, with Triple H responding by kicking Foley below the belt. Nash accidentally hit Foley and HHH with the steel steps somehow. Nash went for the cover but Foley was out.

Nash tried to revive Foley. Foley was on the apron when HHH knocked Nash into Foley, who bounce back first into the cell wall. A very risky spot if you ask me. HHH went for the pedigree but Nash catapulted HHH into the barbed wire bat still stuck in the top turnbuckle. Nash hit the jackknife, Foley made the count but HHH kicked out. This was actually a GREAT near fall. I think a lot of people in that crowd thought that was the finish.

Triple H crawled for the sledgehammer and instead of pushing away the sledgehammer that he can see or grabbing it himself, Nash simply grabs Triple H by the hair. HHH made him pay with a sledgehammer shot to the head. HHH hit the pedigree and that was that.

The first part of this match was very much boring. Nash beating him up forever got no heat it seems but it picked up a little in the second half. The thing that was weird to me was that Nash and Foley both tried to screw Triple H, and Triple H is supposed to be the heel. In the end, the right man won. Judging on the crowd reactions, a Nash title run would not have gotten a great amount of interest from the RAW audience.

I thought this was a good match considering it’s a long match involving Kevin Nash and I personally thought this was the best match on the show.

Match Rating: ***1/3

 

This was definitely a memorable pay-per-view to say the least. Every match seemed to stand out to me, for many different reasons. I felt that the booking for a lot of these matches were really flat, although the main-event ended up being much better than I thought it was going to be. There were a lot of disappointing matches that struggled for time due to the Redneck Triathlon which took up way too much time. The Texas crowd loved this one for whatever the reason was but I can’t say that I’m too keen to watch it again.

29/08/16 RAW Review – Kevin Owens Wins The Universal Championship, Triple H Turns On Seth Rollins

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How’s it going everybody? Thomas Robinson here with the Armbar Express. Guess what? We’ve got a lot to talk about regarding the August 28th 2016 edition of Monday Night RAW. Indeed this will go down as an historic edition of the “flagship” WWE show, as a new Universal Champion was crowned in a shocking manner.

We had the fatal four way elimination match involving Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Big Cass and Kevin Owens. Big Cass was eliminated after several moves to put the big man down, followed by a big frog splash from Kevin Owens for the clean pin over Cass. Then we had the finish, with an awesome three way battle between Rollins, Reigns and Owens. Reigns had the upper-hand and hit the spear on Seth on the outside, when TRIPLE H came from out of nowhere to give the Big Dog a pedigree on the floor. Triple H rolled Rollins and Reigns into the ring, and Rollins pinned Reigns to eliminate him.

This came down to the two heels in Rollins and Owens. So Triple H rolls Owens into the ring, picks up both men and hits ROLLINS with the pedigree. Owens, with a shocked look on his face, scurries over to pin Seth Rollins and become the champion. Triple H raises Owens’ hand as the fans chant “you deserve it” after Rollins and Reigns were both screwed! Kevin Owens is the new Universal Champion.

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Suffice to say that I was extremely shocked at this outcome. Literally the day before RAW, I told everyone that would listen on Twitter that Kevin Owens would not win and that Seth Rollins would become the champion. I ignored all of the reports of future plans and all that jazz, and stuck to my gut feeling. I thought to myself that there was no way they’d put the belt on Kevin Owens right now. Well low and behold, Kevin Owens is the champion and Seth Rollins was turned into a babyface due to the betrayal of Triple H.

What’s funny about all of this is that WWE posted an interview with Kevin Owens on social media, and Owens seemed so out of character when talking about this being the biggest night of his life. It was not like he was the boastful Kevin Owens character. He was calm and relaxed. During the opening talking segment with all four contenders on RAW, Owens seemed like the only one that was not his usual self. It made me think that possibly something was going to happen, but I still was going with Rollins.

As it turns out, I was wrong. Apologises to everyone on Twitter for me getting this one wrong, although this is one of the situations where I was kind of glad that I was wrong. They did pull off the title victory and the Rollins babyface turn really well. I was so shocked at what I was seeing and the fans were really into the main-event match. As far as the presentation of the whole thing, WWE knocked it out of the park.

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Now let’s ask the million dollar question… was this the right move? Somebody asked on me on Twitter last night about who I thought was going to win. I looked at every one of the challengers and I thought that nobody was really IN a good position to win the title at all!

Big Cass is clearly not ready to be wrestling at that level, although he did fit in and get pretty over last night. No complaints on how he was used and he didn’t seem out of place to me at all. I really didn’t want to see a Roman Reigns title reign right now, as I still feel that he should be as far away as possible from the world title at the moment so he can build himself up again. The Rusev stuff did help him out and to put the title back on him would be unwise at this point, so I ruled him out. As for Kevin Owens, I really didn’t think he was in a good position either. Considering that he’d been doing comedy segments with Chris Jericho for the last month, the idea that he’s suddenly supposed to be the top man in the company is a little far-fetched. Of course, Finn Balor’s injury did change plans for WWE. However, with the knowledge of hindsight, WWE should have used Owens better leading up to the title win. He didn’t even beat Neville clean last week!

Finally, Seth Rollins was also not in a good position either. Seth won the WWE World title at Money In The Bank but was quickly robbed of the title by Dean Ambrose following a cash-in. In Rollins’ title match on the RAW before Battleground, it ended in a draw. In Rollins’ title match on the SmackDown! before Battleground, he got beat clean. At Battleground itself, he was unsuccessful again. At SummerSlam, he got beat clean by Finn Balor. Him winning the title right now would not have made a lot of sense to me.

Then a report came through, before the show, suggesting that Seth was going to turn into a babyface. I thought about it and, with the exception of Money In The Bank and Battleground (where he wasn’t the one pinned), there was no real reason to want to feel sympathy for Seth up until this point. The injury that Finn Balor sustained during Seth’s powerbomb to the barricade spot also didn’t help out. Trying to get across the idea that Seth is now somebody to root seemed strange to me, considering everything that happened.

I still think that Seth will make a really good babyface, but I think that they really should have done this turn sooner rather than later. All the buzz about Seth following his return has came and went to be honest, and it’s hard to find sympathy for Seth according to the story.

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Regardless of this, the fans loved the show last night as well as the conclusion. I would assume that it’ll be Kevin Owens vs Seth Rollins at Clash Of Champions. I’m not sure where Triple H and Chris Jericho will stand during all of this. Maybe Owens and Jericho will go their separate ways, although there was nothing last night that would suggest such a thing. Triple H and Seth Rollins could be a match down the road at WrestleMania possibly. I’m not sure that Triple H will be a regular on-screen figure on RAW, as that would lead to three authority figures on RAW. Unless Foley is fired and Triple H replaces him as general manager or something, I’m not particularly sure how this will work.

I will mention one more concern I have for Kevin Owens. I couldn’t help but make this comparison but this title win reminded me of Sheamus’ title win last year. Owens just came off as the right guy, in the right place and at the right time, as opposed to a legitimate champion. Not to mention that Triple H was the one that essentially gave Kevin Owens the championship, according to the storyline. HHH pedigreed Roman and Seth, so it was HHH’s move that beat the two men and not Kevin. Kevin’s only claim to fame was that he pinned Big Cass clean. That doesn’t bode well for his future, I think. At least if he’d hit the pop-up powerbomb, you’d be putting over Kevin’s finisher.

The impression I got from this was that Triple H was viewed as SO superior to everyone in this match, as it was his move that beat the two favourites going in. It’s not necessarily the end of the world for Kevin, but I feel that big wins on RAW and in pay-per-views are needed for Owens to legitimatise himself.

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I’m not sure what the plan is for RAW at the moment, although there’s rumours going around that Lesnar will be challenging for the Universal title at the Royal Rumble. Whether Owens makes it that long as champion remains to be seen but if there’s a chance he’s going up against Lesnar at the Rumble, he needs to get some serious victories under his belt.

Overall, I think this was a shocking start to a brand new storyline for the RAW main-event scene. I’m very thankfully that there’s some new blood in the title picture now, as we’ve really seen enough of Roman vs Seth for the time being. Maybe Roman can challenge Owens down the line but it looks like they’ve got some kind of plan for Owens, Rollins and HHH. I know Balor did get injured but in the week since last week’s RAW, surely they’ve got something in the works.

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Let me know by tweeting me @TomRobinson5199, @ArmbarExpress or by leaving a comment of what you think about the new Universal Champion. Is it the right time for Kevin to be champion? Should Seth’s babyface turn have been done sooner? What do you think will happen in the next few months! Let me know and let me just say this… RAW put on quite the show for SmackDown! to compete with this week!

How I Would Book… The Rock vs Dean Ambrose

The Rock has encountered some strange characters over the years in WWE. From throwing Shawn Stasiak over the top rope over and over again to losing to the Hurricane on Raw, a lot has happened in the career of the Great One. Wacky and unique characters bring out the best out of The Rock, so how about a lunatic fringe for a future program for the Brahma Bull? How about The Rock… vs Dean Ambrose?

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This is actually a very unique clash of styles. We’ve got the big hollywood movie star with an incredible physique against a lunatic with a hardcore mindset. There’s quite a difference in the two styles, although you could argue that Dean Ambrose would be very similar to Rock’s former tag team partner Mick Foley. However, Dean is much leaner than Mick but not as well built as The Rock.

In past How I Would Books, I’ve usually put Rock up against big men like John Cena and Roman Reigns. Dean Ambrose is not like them. Much like The Rock however, he is charismatic and talented in the ring. If The Rock wanted to throw down verbally and physically, Dean would be more than up for the challenge.

How to get to Dean Ambrose vs The Rock from this point on is very tricky. How do you give The Rock or Dean a reason to want to beat the tar out of each other? Do you have The Rock challenge for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship that Dean currently holds as of August 2016? Do you have Dean call out The Rock, feeling the need to face a megastar of the past to see if he’s as good as he thinks he is? No. What’s the one factor that could draw both these two into battle? Family.

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The one person that connects both Dean Ambrose and The Rock is Roman Reigns. Roman Reigns is related by blood to The Rock, with the People’s Champion saving the Big Dog on WWE television before. However, according to the storyline, Dean is probably closer to Roman than anyone else on the roster. They both refer to each other as brothers. It’s the connection between both men which could draw these two charismatic superstars together.

The bigger issue at the moment, when it comes to these two and Roman Reigns, is the WWE Draft. Roman Reigns is on RAW, Dean Ambrose is on SmackDown! and The Rock is currently undrafted. How are we going to develop a storyline involving all three men, while trying to preserve the idea of separate brands? I always preferred the idea of keeping RAW and SmackDown! as distant as possible. Therefore, with this in mind, let’s see if we can write a storyline without breaking those barriers TOO MUCH.

With that being said, we need to plant the seeds for a confrontation between Dean and Rock with Roman. Where’s the best place to start? The one pay-per-view coming up that will see the integration of the rosters… Survivor Series 2016.

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The whole idea behind this pay-per-view is to allow these rosters to interact after months away from each other. The whole idea behind the brand split is for these brands to compete with one another. My idea is after several months of taking shots at each other and the rise in competition, Stephanie and Foley would flat out call out Shane and Bryan for a inter-promotional five-on-five elimination match for Survivor Series. Team RAW would be consisted of Roman Reigns, Rusev, Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. Team SmackDown! would be consisted of Dean Ambrose, AJ Styles, Randy Orton, Chad Gable and Jason Jordan. These teams are interchangeable so it’s up to you who you want in the match. The two essentials for this storyline though are Dean and Roman.

Due to the competitive nature of the brand split, it would be difficult for the commissioners and general managers to agree on a referee to call it down the middle. Remember what happened when RAW and SmackDown! feuded in 2005. In a couple of matches (notably at Taboo Tuesday and Survivor Series), the RAW and SmackDown! referees would officiate the same match and prevent each other from making decisions. If WWE want to acknowledge the previous brand split, then this could make way for a special referee that would supposedly be impartial. Enter The Rock.

While I’m currently unaware of what The Rock’s filming schedule will be like in November, surely it’s possible for The Rock to appear as a referee. Not to mention that his inclusion will give the WWE the mainstream boost they need for one of the biggest pay-per-views involving both brands.

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The match comes down to Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins for RAW and Dean Ambrose for SmackDown!. Seth and Dean are the legal men. Roman accidentally clocks Seth with a spear when going for Dean. Dean hits Dirty Deeds on Roman as Seth comes to. Seth gets frustrated at his point, grabbing a chair. Seth goes to hit Roman but Rock stops him. He pushes Seth into Dean, who hits Dirty Deeds and eliminates him. Dean and Roman battle until Dean hits Dirty Deeds once again. As this happens, Seth gets to his feet on the outside and re-arms himself with the chair. The Rock sees this and goes after Seth, with Dean waiting in the ring for Rock to count Roman down. Rock eventually makes his way back into the ring but Roman kicks out at the last minute. Believing that Rock screwed him, Dean gets in his face. Rock hits a Rock Bottom on Dean, with Roman still out and oblivious to this. Roman gets to his feet, hits one more spear on Dean and pins him. Team RAW wins.

Now the seeds are starting to be planted. Rock screwed Dean but Dean can’t do anything about it… at least contractually. The Rock does make one more appearance on the night after Survivor Series, congratulating Roman and giving him his endorsement. This obviously gets boos as the fans didn’t like Roman and Rock screwing Dean. The Rock and Roman are cut off by Byron Saxton, who is told to go backstage as there are reports of wrestlers being taken out. He goes to the back but is launched right back onto the entrance ramp. Dean comes out and stares right at Rock. Dean comes down to the ring but Roman steps in between his “brother” and his blood. Roman tries to push Dean away but Dean retaliates with Dirty Deeds. Dean and Rock come to blows, drawing the attention of the security. Stephanie and Foley can’t afford for one of SmackDown!’s stars to cause havoc on RAW. Dean and Rock are pulled apart by security but Dean gets out. As he’s about to charge The Rock, Roman spears Dean out of his boots. This isn’t exactly a heel turn, but this does get negative reactions from the crowd.

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On SmackDown!, Dean makes weekly challenges to The Rock to fight him on Dean’s home turf in the blue brand. He says that he’ll forgive Roman for the spear from RAW, provided that he gets to fight Rock. Nothing happens up until the week before SmackDown!’s PPV in December. Let’s just say for now that this pay-per-view is TLC. Dean gets no word but Foley confronts him. Foley tells Dean that The Rock is a lot more dangerous than he lets on. He tells him to drop it but Dean is unwilling to listen. Dean tells Foley that HE has no idea how dangerous DEAN is, claiming to be just as extreme as any of your “ECW boys” from back in the day. Mick tells Dean to prove it and makes a challenge. While Foley can’t force The Rock to come out of hiding, he can organise a match with Dean and Roman for Royal Rumble. He will only do this if Dean defeats a free agent that is willing to make a one-off appearance in a tables match on SmackDown!’s pay-per-view. Dean agrees when the lights go out. The lights come back on and it’s Rob Van Dam. He takes out Dean with a chair and hits the frog splash. It’s ON now.

The reason I went with the lights out for RVD’s appearance is that it’s a callback to Jerry Lawler’s invasion of ECW at Wrestleaplooza 1997, when the lights went out and Jerry appeared with an alliance INVOLVING Rob Van Dam of all people. RVD might seem a random choice for an opponent for Dean, but he works with the hardcore style of the lunatic fringe. Dean wins the match, allowing him to fight Roman at the next inter-promotional pay-per-view in the Royal Rumble.

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What’s in it for Roman Reigns to  wrestle this match? How can Foley bargain with Roman? Simple. The promise of a Universal Championship match at FAST LANE if he wins. Him winning the title at Fast Lane means that Roman can main-event WrestleMania for a third year in a row… assuming a RAW wrestler wins the Royal Rumble that is. Dean is hungry for revenge but Roman is not exactly blood-thirsty himself. He only speared Dean on RAW as Dean attacked him first. He’s interested in winning the title and that’s that. Dean and Roman have choice words, with Roman having very LIMITED choice words. Dean’s deal is telling Roman that he should want to stop living in the Rock’s show. Rock bailed him out at Survivor Series, but he won’t be able to do it at Royal Rumble. Roman simply states that Dean is in his way for a title shot and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to beat his brother and main event WrestleMania again, something Dean’s never done.

At the Royal Rumble, it’s a close encounter. As Dean has Roman beat with Dirty Deeds, the lights go out. Trust me, there’s a purpose behind this one too! The lights come back on and there’s a jacked man in all-black, wearing a black mask. He lights up Dean with a huge clothesline. He takes the mask off and reveals himself to be… The Rock. He hits Dean with a Rock Bottom and People’s Elbow. Roman comes to and hits a spear to beat Dean again. The Rock officially accepts Dean Ambrose’s challenge and tells him to meet him at WrestleMania.

The finish can be what you desire, although a victory for Dean over The Rock would definitely get him super stardom.

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Roman could have some confrontation with The Rock, getting involved in his matches twice now but ultimately, there’s some sort of idea about how The Rock and Dean could come together. This was a very difficult one to write and maybe it seems like a simple storyline. However, on Rock’s side, not a lot is needed and not a lot can be done. His scheduling does provide issues but Dean can surely help spice things up on television for SmackDown! every week.

Have any suggestions for a How I Would Book? Simply tweet me at either @ArmbarExpress or @TomRobinson5199 on Twitter with your suggestions. Do also check out the rest of the content on my blog. I do a lot of other cool fantasy booking blog posts with my playthroughs of fantasy booking game Extreme Warfare Revenge. And there’s all sorts of other wrestling content as well. You never know, you might just like what you see!

 

 

Lucha Underground: Ultima Lucha Dos Review

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Following the successful first season of Lucha Underground, anticipation for the second chapter of this arc certainly ran wild. With the ending of season one tying up loose ends but also preparing the show for a future season, you could tell that something big was on the horizon for these stars.

So far this season, we had our fair share of big moments. The reign of Mil Muetres and Catrina followed by the return of Dario Cueto and the debut of Matanza showed the struggle for power between wrestlers. Rey Mysterio making his way to the promotion also provided the star power that the lucha libre promotion was looking for while new stars like El Dragon Azteca quickly became prominent figures.

For me, the storyline aspect of the show was the most compelling thing about it. However, there were a lot of matches that really stood out during the course of season two. Matanza and Cage had one of the best big man matches I’ve seen in a long time, Rey Mysterio was still able to hang with even the greatest of wrestlers at the promotion while Aztec Warfare II was an incredible episode to sit through as well.

However, this four hour extravaganza would be the culmination of another season of storylines and drama. Pentagon Jr would challenge the monster Matanza, hoping to get revenge for Matanza almost breaking his back in their last match. Prince Puma wanted to prove that he was even better than arguably the greatest luchador of all time. There were a lot of matches that was very much looked forward to by the fans, but could the three part show deliver?

 

Part One

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The first episode in this trilogy saw Dario Cueto’s “Tournament 4 A Unique Opportunity” which saw a four man tournament take place. In the first round, Cage faced The Mack in a rematch from last year’s Ultima Lucha while Son Of Havoc took on Texano. Both matches were hardcore matches, with Cage and Mack having a falls count anywhere match as well as Son Of Havoc and Texano having a bar room brawl. I thought the Cage and Mack match was really good, which was expected when considering how great their match from last year was. I don’t think this match was better than last year’s but it was still good. The Son Of Havoc/Texano match was also not bad but I can’t help but think that it would have been a much better match without the hardcore stipulation.

Let me get the big criticism out of the way. I’m sure that hardcore fans loved all of this innovation with weapons but these stipulations took away from the lucha libre style of wrestling that lucha fans tuned in to see. Not to mention that having so many hardcore matches on the first show left the fans feeling less excited for hardcore angles down the line, like the Death match with Mil Muetres and King Cuerno. Regardless, The Mack and Son Of Havoc won. They faced off in a short falls count anywhere match, which Son Of Havoc won.

Dario Cueto came out with two briefcases and gave Son Of Havoc one of two options. Son Of Havoc could choose between $250,000 or a Lucha Underground title shot at Ultima Lucha Tres. Son Of Havoc then claimed that it wouldn’t matter if there were $250 MILLION in that briefcase, he would want the title shot. Now, I understand putting the title over as if this was the most important thing in the world to a wrestler. However, would anyone really pass up on $250 MILLION just for a title shot? It seemed like a ludicrous claim to me, that the Lucha Underground title was worth more than $250 million. That’s probably more than what Lucha Underground is worth. Heck, I’m sure you could start a very strong wrestling promotion with $250 million and make YOURSELF a champion!

Havoc takes the title shot, which of course sprung a trap. Dario revealed that Havoc would only get the title shot if he won one more match. If his opponent won, that opponent would get the $250,000. Famous B then came out to reveal the opponent, who was his new client. It was a pretty big client for Famous B as it was revealed that Son Of Havoc’s opponent was Dr Wagner Jr.

This was a pretty big reveal. Dr Wagner Jr won in about two minutes, much to the delight of Famous B and his girl Brenda. I liked the whole culmination of Famous B’s quest to find the right client and in the end, he found a client that was already famous. I was kind of let down by the fact that I was expecting him to actually show up with a lesser-known name. I get the reveal that he found a client that was already famous, but Famous B’s whole service was about GETTING people famous. Dr Wagner Jr contradicting that was a little disappointing. I guess that’s a heel for you!

 

Part Two

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The “main attraction” of part two was the Gift of the Gods championship match, which was a seven person elimination match. Cage cashed in his title shot a few weeks before so a new champion had to be crowned. Sexy Star, Marty the Moth, Mariposa, Killshot, Night Claw, Daga and Sinestro de la Muerte were the seven entrants. The one thing which really got to me about the match was that the very best wrestlers in this match were eliminated the earliest. Killshot, Night Claw and Daga are all tremendous workers, so seeing them eliminated before the likes of Sexy Star and Marty the Moth felt like a slap in the face to those talents. Night Claw, who was debuting, looked awesome in this match. He eliminated two men and probably was the most over out of the bunch, before being eliminated.

It was down to Marty The Moth, Mariposa and Sexy Star, with the heels ganging up on Sexy Star. Mariposa was eliminated after Marty accidentally punched her in the face. I love how Mariposa’s origin story, according to Marty, was that she was part of a tribe of great warriors, yet she was eliminated her from a mere punch from her brother. Unless Marty has a punch that is equal in power to the Big Show’s WMD, I find it very hard to believe that Mariposa would be done after just one punch.

Sexy beat Marty to win the Gift of the Gods title. I know Lucha Underground wants to promote the idea of the women being just as good as the men, with two of the final three of this match being women. I’m also not totally against the idea of inter-gender wrestling, although I would go forward with extreme caution when booking such a program. If a woman is over enough and talented enough, she can wrestle the very best male athletes for all I care. That’s if the woman IS over enough and talented enough. Sexy Star wasn’t over enough, I don’t think. Sexy Star is not talented enough either. She’s an OK female wrestler but there’s only a handful of male wrestlers on the roster worse than Sexy Star. Every one else is miles ahead, so the idea that Sexy is supposed to be on par with these men is pretty unbelievable… even for Lucha Underground.

Next up was a “death match” between Mil Muertes and King Cuerno, which was essentially a no disqualification match. There was no murdering going on, but Mil sure did destroy King Cuerno. They brawled, with the heel Cuerno being more of a showboater while Mil was all about bringing the power game. Cuerno took a lot of punishment in this match, including rolling down the stairs. Their fight led them to the stage where the band that was playing were hanging out. Mil no-sold his head being thrown into a window. Cuerno put his hands on Catrina, which was the beginning of the end for Cuerno. Muertes put Cuerno through three tables with powerbombs, hit him with a crowbar, hit a tombstone and won. This was a fun no disqualification match, which did a great job with the two characters. Muertes was allowed to be a big, badass heavy hitter and Cuerno sold like crazy during the onslaught.

During the show, Mr Cisco was wired by Cortez Castro and Joey Ryan to meet with Dario Cueto. Cortez re-assued him by telling Cisco that Dario wasn’t going to kill… all the motivation one needs to meet with an sociopath! Cisco was doing this in order to clear himself of all charges. So Cisco meets with Dario, with Joey and Cortez listening in. Cisco claimed that he wanted to be in on whatever Dario was planning. It almost kind of worked with the storyline, as Cisco was so bad when acting here that Dario saw right through him. He asked if Cisco was wearing a wire and it was revealed. He grabs the mic and asks the cops to come get him. He asks if the cops wanted him for murder, quickly following up by saying if they weren’t before they would now. He grabbed the red bull from his office and killed Cisco with it by bashing him in the head. A very good scene which I’ll get more into later when I discuss the final scene of the season.

 

Part Three

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At the start of part three, Vampiro gave Pentagon Jr some last minute training before his match with Matanza. In a scene similar to the Empire Strikes Back moment where Luke goes into the cave, Pentagon Jr went into a similar cave and fought his own demons. He eventually bested Vampiro, who told him that he was ready.

The two-hour final part began with Drago, Fenix and Aero Star challenging Johnny Mundo, PJ Black and Jack Evans for the Trios Championship. A very fun and action-packed trios match as usual. When you put six wrestlers as good as these six together, a lot of great stuff will happen. I would argue that it was a bit too much, especially with Angelico’s return to get revenge on Mundo, but it didn’t bother me too much. Everyone worked well with each other and Drago, Fenix and Aero Star ended up winning the belts. Fenix became the first person to achieve the Lucha Underground Grand Slam, winning the Lucha Underground, Trios and Gift Of The Gods titles. I think that Fenix accomplishing the feat in two seasons, as well as winning all of the belts in the same season for that matter, hurts the prestige of the titles a little. However, at least there were good stories told in the build up to each of his title reigns. Therefore, I don’t really have a problem with it. It wasn’t like complete title hot-shots or anything. A great opener to the show.

El Dragon Azteca faced Black Lotus. Initially, this was a really weird match. It started off as a normal match and then El Dragon Azteca took control. He was the aggressor in this inter-gender match and the fans died down a little. Trying to promote the idea of a babyface male against a heel female in a match is really hard to do, as how are the fans supposed to root for the heroes in that situation? Heck, El Dragon Azteca was shown to be vastly superior to Black Lotus. Then Pentagon came into beat up both wrestlers, causing a no contest. He broke both their arms, and that was the end of this grudge match between Black Lotus and El Dragon Azteca. No satisfying conclusion to their entire program AT ALL. Ended in four minutes by a man that hadn’t had any interaction with either character up until this point. This led to Vampiro announcing that this was not Pentagon Jr, but now Pentagon Dark.

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Pentagon Dark cut an awesome promo in Spanish, which was thankfully subtitled. Even if it wasn’t, you can tell that Pentagon always shows some serious passion in his promos and the fans hang on to every word he says. He told the crowd that he was Pentagon Dark and wanted to fight Matanza now. Matanza came out, meaning that the Lucha Underground title match was the third match on the five-match card for this final part. I personally would have put this in the main-event although at least the position of the match made more sense with the ending of the show in mind.

This was a really great match to watch and I’ll explain why. The whole idea behind this transformation of Pentagon Dark was to show that this was not the same man as before. After training from Vampiro, he has become a totally different person to the man that fought Matanza and got destroyed. Therefore, the rematch was structured much differently than the first match. It’s not like when John Cena gets angry and the announcers say that this was a new John Cena, even though he wrestles exactly the same. Pentagon destroyed Matanza this time around as the training of Vampiro paid off. He destroyed Matanza, had the match won until Vampiro whipped out a bat wrapped in barbed-wire. This barbed wire bat would end up being Pentagon’s undoing as Dario’s involvement caused Matanza to grab the bat and use it on Pentagon. He hit him in the back with the bat, hit his finishing powerslam and just pinned him. I will criticise the ending just a little, as the series had previously shown Pentagon being able to take Negan-like barbed-wire bat shots TO THE HEAD from Vampiro. He took a hit from the back, was hit with Matanza’s finisher and beaten. I thought, after taking 90% of the match, that Pentagon getting beat like that was rather underwhelming. Other than that, it was a great match. Vampiro, who stopped taking his meds after part two to train Pentagon a little more, went back on them after this match.

Taya wrestled Ivelisse. A decent women’s match which saw Taya win and Catrina attack Ivelisse with a jawbreaker of some type. It appears that Catrina will be wrestling during season three, which I’m a little worried about. Catrina, as Maxine in WWE, was still a part of the worst women’s match I’ve ever seen in NXT along with Kaitlyn in 2010. How far Maxine has progressed in more than five years is unknown, but I do pray to all the Aztec gods that she’s good enough to be able to do decent work with the likes of Ivelisse.

The main-event was Rey Mysterio vs Prince Puma. This was an incredible match, with magnificent chemistry and great story-telling aspects to it. It was the up-and-comer Prince Puma needing to do whatever he could to beat the legend Mysterio. The crowd was into every move and the drama was there. This is a legitimate contender for the best Lucha Underground match of all time. There’s just one small complaint I have and it’s Matt Striker on commentary. He was not suited to call a match like this. Firstly, there were a lot of times when he was calling the match more like a fan than a legitimate commentator. Him calling a particular spot the “I’m sorry, I love you” moment felt so tacky and almost unprofessional if you will. Did you really need to tell the audience what was going on between Mysterio and Puma, when Puma found it hard to find the strength to put away this legend? Secondly, after Mysterio won, Matt Striker made an absurd claim about this being the future of Lucha Libre. If Prince Puma won the match, I could buy that line. However, the veteran Mysterio beat the future in Prince Puma! If Rey Mysterio is the future of Lucha Libre, then Lucha Libre is not going to be great shape should Rey retire in the next few years!

At the end of the show, Pentagon Dark attacked Vampiro. Vampiro was off his meds, so Pentagon just simply beat him up effortlessly. It was a pretty bloody beatdown. He did this because Vampiro introduced the barbed-wire bat in his match when he didn’t need to. Along with that, after telling Pentagon that he was ready, Vampiro introducing the bat proved that he still didn’t have enough faith in him so Pentagon was angry. Pentagon came off as such a star after Ultima Lucha Dos was finished.

The big ending saw Dario Cueto arrested and taken away in a police van. While in the back of the van, Dario simply smiled. And that was that…

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Overall, it was a good four hour event. We didn’t get any really good stuff until the Death Match but we did get some really great matches following that. The Pentagon Dark/Matanza match was great and the Rey Mysterio/Prince Puma match was a wondrous match. I thought the ending of the season fell flat to me, considering how great the finale of last season was as it tied up the loose ends. Following this, there’s still a lot of unanswered questions and a lot of stuff that needs explaining. Let’s hope that we get some answers in season three, which begins in September.