RETRO EXPRESS: WCW STARRCADE 1995 (DECEMBER 27TH 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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Starrcade 1995 is here. The World Cup of Wrestling… well at least the 1995 version of it. Not TNA’s version of the World Cup of Wrestling. Not WWE’s version of the World Cup of Wrestling from last year. Nope… WCW’s take it on it. By World Cup, they mean the USA’s WCW taking on Japan’s NJPW in a best of seven series. 7 of WCW’s best taking on 7 of NJPW’s best. Who will walk away with the honors?

Along with this, we had a triangle match between Sting, Lex Luger and Ric Flair. Whoever won this booked themselves an immediate title match against the Macho Man Randy Savage for the WCW title. Would one of the worst world title reigns of all time continue or would either Luger, Sting or Flair take the title from the Macho Man?

 

Date: December 27th, 1995

Brand: WCW

City: Nashville, Tennessee

Attendance: 8,200

Commentators: Tony Schiavonie, Dusty Rhodes and Bobby Heenan

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Before I get into this mega review, as these PPVs always seems to be with the WCW series, I have to mention some difficulties I had watching this PPV. This was the first show I watched since they switched the format of the WWE Network. If you’re subscribed to the Network and have watched anything in the last few weeks, you’ll understand.

It now has a format very similar to Netflix where if you scroll down, at least on a PS4 console, it just has list after list of categories and stuff. When I scrolled down, not once was able to find Starrcade 1995 or anything from my watchlist of content. I had podcasts saved I wanted to watch, I had some NWA matches I wanted to watch. I even have Total Divas saved on there but that’s an entirely different story for another time…

Anyway, I couldn’t find my watchlist including the Starrcade 1995 which I’d saved. So, I had to go find it. On a positive, they did group all of the WCW stuff together now. It used to be where you’d have to find the PPVs under PPVs and all of the Nitros under Vault or whatever that section was called. Now, if you look for WCW, it’s all there. PPV, Thunders, Nitro… even the WWE’s Monday Night Wars series they did. It’s all there.

I find it. I sit down and I get ready to watch the show. Then I have another problem, which is actually not WWE’s, WCW’s or any wrestling promotion’s fault. My remote starts playing up. I try to turn up the volume and, for some reason, it turns off my TV. I have no idea what happened to it but when I tried to turn up the volume, the TV turned off with Starrcade still running. I could turn it down no problems but I could not turn it up.

I find away around it and eventually, I got settled. Then I get all the way to the Lex Luger vs Masahiro Chono match. I had to stop to go get a protein bar or whatever it was I went to get. I had to get something. I come back and the match has already started playing on my PS4. So I try to re-wind it and, if you have the WWE Network, you know where I’m going with this….

I try to re-wind and I could only re-wind back 10 seconds at a time. You could rewind back 10 seconds, you could fast-forward 10 seconds… no less. Even if you missed like one spot in particular, you’d have to rewatch the last 10 seconds just so you can see a small detail. Unbelievably annoying this was. Also, if you rewind 10 seconds and then when you want to go back a little bit further because you realise that’s not enough time to rewind, the Network crashes. It completely crashed twice during the Luger/Chono match to the point where I had to turn off my PS4 off and start over.

Another positive I guess is that points and highlights of the show are easier to get to it when skipping forward but you still have to rewatch the whole segment or match from the beginning. I saw Luger flexing at the start of that match like 3 times during one watch of this Starrcade.

I’m hoping the Network changes things back because this is gonna make watching Nitros awkward for the foreseeable future.

 

Chris Benoit vs Jushin Thunder Liger in Match #1 of the WCW vs NJPW World Cup Of Wrestling

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This wasn’t particular;y one of the better Benoit matches I’ve started this series but this was by no means a bad match. It was pretty solid… minus a horrible finish which I think hurt the match. I think the fundamental flaw of this match is a fundamental flaw of many wrestling matches nowadays. It was all about the moves.

The best thing about great Benoit matches was that there was always a purpose for 70% of what he did in the ring to either progress the story or to do something which would make sense in the structure of an actual wrestling match. This match didn’t really embody this that strongly. It was just a bunch of moves, executed really well, that were put together until someone ran in which led to the finish.

I mean it started off well. Benoit won the test of strength. Liger got to his feet and did a hurricanrana and a Liger kick. Benoit, the heel, did a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker to thunderous cheers. It was a common theme on the his show was that there was purely blind loyalty to the US on this show. This was to the point where even the heels Lex Luger and Benoit got thunderous babyface reactions for one night.

Liger did a great belly-to-belly suplex and followed it up with a fake out back flip. Benoit did a snap suplex and a back suplex. Benoit actually whipped out a Liontamer of all submissions!

Benoit did a crisp German suplex with a bridge to big cheers for Nashville! Liger did a bow and arrow submission to Benoit and then locked on the dragon sleeper for extra twerk.  Liger then went to work with a camel clutch.

Benoit reversed this camel clutch into an electric chair. Liger countered a back suplex into a crossbody. Benoit’s tombstone attempt reversed into a Liger tombstone slam. Benoit went up for the superplex and the crowd ERUPTED after Benoit hit this… it was astonishing how much these fans popped for this move!

Benoit missed a diving headbutt which was followed up with Liger hitting a sit-out powerbomb. Liger did a brainbuster. Benoit did one german suplex and then Benoit hit a second and he SLAMMED Liger into the mat. This was a hard hit. Benoit hit a powerbomb. Benoit went up for a diving headbutt when the Taskmaster ran down with fellow Dungeon of Doom member Jimmy Hart holding him back. Benoit was distracted and Liger did a somewhat hurricanrana roll up for the win.

Bit of a silly finish to an otherwise solid opening match.

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Match Rating: *** (Feels a bit of a low rating but there wasn’t much of a story to the match for it to be higher. The moves were done crisply well and well executed but it was just a bunch of moves and the Taskmaster interference ruined it for me.)

 

Mean Gene Okerlund did an interview with Eddie Guerrero. Eddie said Taskmaster had no business being in the match against Benoit. Eddie said it was an honour to represent WCW and he was just happy to be here. He talks about his opponent Shinjiro Otani. Eddie says Otani is a tremendous athlete but Eddie had to be on top of his game. Eddie said he hit the gym and he said he’d give it his best. Mean Gene said he saw Eddie do push-ups and getting read for the match to which Eddie smiled! This was a great promo.

 

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion Koji Kanemoto vs Alex Wright in Match #2 of the WCW vs NJPW World Cup Of Wrestling

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They confirmed Hulk Hogan would be wrestling on Nitro which basically confirmed that Hogan was only to serve a one week suspension for going crazy with attacking officials, wrestlers and referees with chairs in the past month or so. It was like storylines emulating life with these weak punishments for WCW wrestlers. If we stick around to around the 2000s of WCW, you’ll see just how bad at punishing these wrestlers this company will get.

I liked this next match. It was Alex Wright vs Koji Kanemoto for Match #2. It was the fast, quick pace of Wright against the fast, quick but controlled pace of Kanemoto. I don’t know whether Koji was a face or a heel in NJPW at the time but here on this show, in US soil, he played the role well as the evil foreigner going as far as roaring at one fan!

Wright started off with dropkick headscissors to which Kanemoto responded by unloading chops and kicks to the leg, and then followed it up with a big wheel kick. Kanemoto gets Wright laying on the top rope, slapped him on the belly multiple times and did a dropkick to the gut! A creative little spot that I liked! Unlike anything you’d normally see in a match.

Kanemoto did a dive. I will say it bothered me when Wright ran right to the hard cam to catch Koji and just stood there as he dove on him. He didn’t even try to hide that he was waiting for Koji to catch him. Kanemoto did a tiger suplex but Wright’s feet was on the rope. Kanemoto did a moonsault but didn’t go for the cover. Wright leapfrogged Kanemoto in the corner and did a big german suplex for a near fall.

They battled for a while until Kanemoto dropped Wright face first on the top turnbuckle and followed it up with a bridge pin for the win. The right man won considering Kanemoto was the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion. Wright beating him here would have just made NJPW looked very weak.

WCW 0 – 2 NJPW

Match Rating: ***

 

Mean Gene did an interview with Sonny Onoo, who was the spokesman for Team NJPW. Mean Gene plugged the WCW Hotline. Sonny said it should be 5-0 right now to NJPW. Sonny vowed to buy WCW and Iowa. Mean Gene said WCW is not up for sale but advised that Iowa is a whole different story! Sonny said everything is for sale to which Mean Gene replied: “well you Japanese would know that!” Sonny messed with Mean Gene and Mean Gene got confused.

 

Lex Luger vs Masahiro Chono in Match #3 of the WCW vs NJPW World Cup Of Wrestling

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As I mentioned, it was here when I had the WWE Network issues with it crashing. It crashed at least twice if I recall correctly. To be fair, I wasn’t missing much with regards to this match. Really, I only needed to wait until near the end of the match. We got a legendary commentary moment which I will get too in a little a bit. I actually mentioned this in one of the WCW PPV reviews I did. I can’t remember which one but I at least knew what was coming!

The one thing I wanted to say, before we even get to that, was that Luger was such a heel in the last few months and now in Starrcade, the fans WENT NUTS for him coming out to deal with the Japanese! He was so beloved and over during this match, at least in this match anyway. Bobby Heenan even brought this up that he’s only being cheered because he’s going up against New Japan… the HEEL is the voice of right here!

Luger gorilla pressed Chono,  flexed and the fans went BONKERS for Team America. Chono did a big boot to send Luger crashing to the outside. Chono did a suplex. The fans chanted USA. Chono did a sleeper and dropped him with the reverse DDT. Chono locked on the STF. Bobby got all flustered with confusion with his WCW/NJPW Support. Then we got… the moment.

Mashario Chono throws this kick, and then Tony Schiavonie, WCW Professional Wrestling Commentator, refers to this kick as the Mafia Kick. In a match between the USA’s WCW and Japan’s NJPW, he calls this move the “Mafia Kick.” The responses from fellow commentators on this night, Bobby Heenan and Dusty Rhodes, were GLORIOUS.

Dusty Rhodes and Bobby Heenan buried him so hard. Before I watched this series, I’d seen this clip of Dusty and Bobby burying Tony before on YouTube over and over again. Here, I watched it again as part of the series and I died with laughter.

Dusty starts off by going “where do you get all of this?” to which Tony replies that this is his job. Dusty says that he kicked him right in the middle of the mush and re-iterates it has nothing to do with the Mafia. Dusty Rhodes goes: “Hell watcha talking about?” I laughed, I laughed and I laughed and I laughed. I was reduced to tears, I was laughing so hard.

Then Bobby takes over as Dusty starts laughing at Tony. He yells, at the top of his lungs, “TONY HE KICKED THE MAN IN THE HEAD!” Again, I laughed, I laughed and I laughed. Chono comes off the top and Luger hits him with the elbow and Dusty calls this saying that he hit him with the “Sicilian Elbow!” Bobby brings up a Yugoslavian Neckbreaker and he again goes… “HE KICKED THE MAN IN THE HEAD SCHIAVONIE!” He goes… “HE KICKED HIS BOSNIAN BUTT… HOW YA LIKE THAT?” My faces is red, tears are running down my face at this point! Then Luger locked on the Torture Rack for the win and to a HUGE POP by the fans. Fans went CRAZY for Luger. I was still in tears after Dusty’s promo on Tony Schiavonie.

This put Tony in his place for the way he would literally just make up names for the basic moves of the wrestlers. Remember when Johnny B Badd did a dive and he’d call it the Badd Mood? Tony came up with all of these crap names and Dusty and Bobby rightful destroyed him for it. These are professional wrestlers and Tony not calling the moves properly exposed the business and disrespects the wrestler that apply their craft in the ring. I’m paraphrasing Joey Styles’ shoot promo from 2006 but he’s right. This Chono just threw and kick and he had to call it something wacky. HE KICKED THE MAN IN THE HEAD SCHIAVONIE!

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Match Rating: *1/4

 

Sting did an interview with Mean Gene. Mean Gene reminds us that Sting lost the US title to Kensuke Sasaki, his NJPW opponent for tonight. I did mention this during the World War III review I believe. Sting cut a promo on Sonny Onoo. He talks about the triangle match. Sting talks about how Luger said he’s gonna do what’s he’s gonna do but Sting is gonna do what he’s gonna do. Sting gets all excited and Mean Gene goes YEAH. Great promo I wrote but your usual Sting promo at its very core.

 

WCW Television Champion Johnny B Badd w/Kimberley vs Masa Saito w/Sonny Onoo in Match #4 of the WCW vs NJPW World Cup Of Wrestling

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This was kind of a mess of a match here. Sonny Onoo cut a promo and said Kimberley should be at home cooking and that’s what is wrong with this company. Kimberley got the mic retorting with “this ain’t no Japanese bathhouse.” She says: “If this sport is just for men, then what are you doing here?”

Saito did a STO and locked on a choke from the ground position. Saito murdered Badd with some chops to the chest. Badd would slap him back but Saito battered and battered Badd in relation with chops. They sounded so hard and this was just brilliant to me.

Things kinda fell off a cliff here. Sonny choked Badd with the Japanese flag. Sonny grabbed the hair. Badd got back into a match and did a sunset flip. Badd fired back. Badd got his hands Sonny Onoo and then Saito dumped Badd over the top rope for the DQ. Badd then did the “Badd Mood” flip to the outside thing and missed by 100 yards. An absolute nothing match with one noteable spot where Masa beat the crap out of Johnny B Badd.

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Match Rating: *1/4

NOTES: Masa Saito actually passed away July 2018. R.I.P. Masa Saito as I’m not sure if we’ll see another WCW match with him during this series so I’ll say it now.

 

Lex Luger w/Jimmy Hart did an interview with Mean Gene. Luger talked about Kevin Sullivan aka The Taskmaster. He says Sullivan has a short fuse. Luger said all the top names in WCW are all after the top title. Luger said Savage is a pathetic one arm champion. He would have torn his arm out of its socket at World War III if it wasn’t for Sting. Luger says he’s going into the match by himself. Jimmy told Lex to bring home the gold and Mean Gene responded saying he has a book of clichés if he needs it! Great banter from Mean Gene! He had some great lines during this show!

 

Eddie Guerrero vs Shinjiro Otani in Match #5 of the WCW vs NJPW World Cup Of Wrestling

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I LOVED this match. Eddie Guerrero matches in WCW as of late have been so great. He had a great match with Johnny B Badd if I recall correctly, he had good matches with Benoit, he had a great match with Flair two weeks ago and here’s another one. Him and Otani. This was a great wrestling match and my personal favourite match of the night.

Otani took control of the arm from the get-go and raked at the face of Guerrero. Guerrero stood on Otani’s face, retribution for Otani going for the eyes. They grappled on the mat. Eddie turned things around with a hurricanrana. Eddie did a slingshot senton into the ring.

Eddie locked on the Boston Crab and followed it up with big powerbombs and brainbusters. Otani hit a nice springboard dropkick into the ring and then a springboard crossbody to the outside. Otani hit a German suplex and Eddie hit a frankensteiner for a near fall.

Eddie hit a big gory powerbomb for a near fall. Otani did a springboard dropkick to the back of the head of Guerrero. This was very much back and forth stuff.

Otani tried a dragon suplex. Eddie reversed it into a hurricanarana roll-up. A few roll-ups later, Otani picked up the win with a cradle of his own.

I probably wouldn’t have beaten Eddie here but he only barely just lot and it wasn’t like Eddie was buried here. Otani was just the better man.

A great match.

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Match Rating: ****

 

Mean Gene did ANOTHER INTERVIEW, this time with WCW Champion Randy Savage. God bless Mean Gene but he was all over this show. Savage cuts off Mean Gene. Savage said he liked being the underdog and Savage says he’s coming to get Tensan tonight. Mean Gene says he was off the phone with a suspended Hogan and Savage interrupts with “WHAT DOES HE HAVE TO SAY?” Hogan apparently asked for Savage’s mindset. Savage said he’s gonna even the score for WCW. He said: “Sting, be there for the USA.” Savage was wrestling Hiroyoshi Tenzan while Sting was wrestling Kensuke Sasaki.

 

WCW World Heavyweight Champion Savage vs Hiroyoshi Tenzan (or as the name plate called him Tensan) in Match #6 of the WCW vs NJPW World Cup Of Wrestling

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Another absolute nothing match. I understand Savage was injured here but at the same time, why did he work two matches on this show? You couldn’t get someone else to come in and beat Tensan in this match if Savage was working with an injury?

Tensan worked on Savage. Savage tries to fire back but Savage’s punches are no-sold by Tensan. Tensan clocked Savage with a big wheel kick. Tensan delivered a Samoan Spike to the floored Savage. Tensan did a samoan drop and a headbutt for a near fall.

Tensan missed a moonsault. After a suplex struggle, Savage only manages to lift Tensan into the ropes. Savage hit the elbow drop for the win to level things up for WCW.

Not a strong review from myself but this wasn’t a strong match to talk about. This was just another nothing match as things just kinda fell off a cliff for this PPV from this point. It really did just peak with Eddie and Otani.

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Match Rating: *

 

Mean Gene interviews Ric Flair. Flair says tonight, we’re talking about the world title. Flair says Sting and Luger need to know to be the man, you have to beat the man. Flair talks about being rested as he was literally losing his breath cutting this promo! Flair said he’d win the title. This was a fine promo.

 

Sting vs WCW United States Champion Kensuke Sasaki in a non-title match in Match #7 of the WCW vs NJPW World Cup Of Wrestling

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Your typical Sting match which, again, isn’t a knock on Sting but there wasn’t anything really exceptional about it. Looking at the result, it really did no favours for Sasuke as the US Champion if you look at the finish.

Sting brought the US flag to the ring. Sting hit an early Stinger Splash but this was followed by the bulldog from Sasaki. Sasaki unleashed two clotheslines, he tried a third but Sting ducked and did a dropkick.

Sasaki worked on Sting and even locked Sting in his own Scorpion Death Lock. Sting huffed, and puffed and pushed Sasuki up in the air and out of the hold. That I liked.

Sting fired back and then locked on his Scorpion Death lock but Sasaki tried to fight to the ropes but Sting pulled him back into the middle of the ring but Sasaki eventually submitted and WCW won the World Cup.

Again, Sasaki wasn’t buried TOO badly but this was also the man that also just lost clean outright to Sting when Sting had another match (possibly two) to worry about on the same night. It wasn’t like Sasaki lost to Sting at his best which is the best way I can put it.

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Match Rating: **3/4

 

Team WCW celebrated and Luger did come out. Sting and Luger hoisted up the trophy together. They showed a great promo hyping up the triangle match with Luger, Sting and Flair.

 

Sting vs Lex Luger vs Ric Flair in a triangle match to determine the number one contender for the WCW Championship

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For a match featuring Sting and Ric Flair, this was such a chore of a match to sit through. You all know how much I’ve raved about Sting vs Ric Flair matches. They would never not be good. It’s the same formula but they always found a way to work with whatever crowd they were in front of. They threw Lex Luger into this triangle match and it was easily one of the dullest long matches I’ve seen in a long time. It wasn’t technically a bad match and it wasn’t as offensive as that tag team title match from Fall Brawl but it dragged, and dragged and dragged. We got stalling, and stalling and stalling and it did this match… no favours.

The rules were two men would start in the ring and one man would be on the outside and could tag in and out. Whoever got the first pinfall or submission won. So no, it wasn’t a “traditional” triple threat or three way dance you’d see nowadays. In this match, two guys would be in the ring as one man stood outside.

I don’t think there was ever a storyline reason for why Ric never wrestled in the WCW VS NJPW thing but Savage, Sting and Luger did. I’m not surely if they’ll actually explain it but the announcers made it clear that Ric was the one with the advantage supposedly in this match! Let’s all remember that.

Dusty made a Jack Daniels joke regarding Bobby’s drinking issues. Back to my point from Episode #17 about Flair’s selling everything, Sting literally just grabbed Ric’s hand here and wrenched it and Ric went AAAAAA! It was brilliant to see Flair in such pain a minute into wrestling a man that’d already wrestled earlier on in the show.

So Sting and Flair wrestled. Tony talked about Sting’s heart in fighting two men at Halloween Havoc by himself, not remembering that Flair did the same thing two weeks before that Halloween Havoc show. Flair locked on a hammerlock and forced Sting to the ground. Flair chopped and went back to the hammerlock. Sting fired back and launched Flair with hip tosses and gorilla presses.

Sting did the punches in the corner and even bit Ric Flair. Sting  and Flair brawled on the outside. Sting no-sols being slammed into the barricade. Sting missed a dropkick as Flair grabbed the top turnbuckle. Flair went to work on Sting and kept trying to tempt Luger into the ring. Sting went for a cover but Luger tried to break it up. Flair bumped Sting into Luger and Luger made a blind tag, flexing right at Flair.

So to recap, this match started with typical Sting and Flair spots. Every spot they’ve ever done in a WCW ring. Then Luger hits the ring and Luger and Flair had to just wrestle, and stall, and wrestle and stall.

Luger brought Flair into the ring, literally CARRIED HIM into the ring after he tried to escape. As much as it was basically Flair 101 for Flair to beg off the babyfaces, he did it way too much during this match. Like over and over again. Flair Flair Flopped after the punches in the corner. Then Flair takes control of Luger. Keep in mind, Flair had just been wrestling with just Sting and now, Flair worked on Luger and Flair had essentially dominated Sting and Luger for the majority of the match up until this point… and he’s the most heel of the bunch. Sting did get a bit of offense in when he was in the ring but mostly this match was Flair getting the heat on both men.

Flair hit Luger in the knees with a chair. Flair locked on the Figure Four and Luger turned it over. Luger and Flair struggled for a suplex but Luger won and suplexed Flair into the ring. Flair is punching away at Luger and Tony said, when Flair is just punching away at Luger, “Luger is starting to mount a comeback.” Tony was so bad calling this PPV.

Flair tagged in Sting trying to stir things up between Sting and Luger. Sting and Luger are now just standing around for about 2 minutes, felt like 30 minutes. Then they LOCK UP… we had to be like 15 minutes into this match. The fans start to boo and get restless. Sting and Luger have a clean break following a lock up and the fans boo more. Luger finally starts punching away at Sting. Sting fires back. Sting no-sold an atomic drop and hits a clothesline.

Luger smashed Sting with the clothesline. Luger kicked out of the top rope crossbody by Sting. Sting tried a Vader splash but Luger got the knees up. Sting try to lock on the Scorpion Death Lock but Luger got the rope. When Luger was floored, Luger actually low blowed Sting and then Luger worked on this nut shot and did an atomic drop! Tremendous groin-based offense!

Sting fired back and did a bulldog. Sting hit a Stinger Splash. Luger locked on a Torture Rack and the ref went down as Flair chopped blocked Luger. Both Sting and Luger were sent outside.

Flair wakes up the ref and the ref counts out Luger and Sting while Luger grabs Sting’s arm to keep him outside of the ring. Therefore, that meant Ric Flair wins.

They made me sit there through a 28 minute match with Sting, Luger and Flair, a 28 minute boring-ass match between these three and Flair wins… with a count-out.  So after Ric Flair wrestles the majority of a 28 minute match, he wins and Savage is sent in to do battle with him. An injured Randy Savage vs an exhausted Ric Flair for your Starrcade main-event.

Match Rating: 1/2*

 

“Macho Man” Randy Savage (c) vs Ric Flair w/Jimmy Hart for the WCW World Championship

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Flair has about 5 minutes for a breather and then Savage comes out for the main-event. Savage starts working on Flair when MR WONDERFUL “PAUL ORNDORFF”, in a neck brace, appeared with his hands on his hips.

Savage missed a double axe handle to the outside as Doug Dillinger told Orndorff to head to the back. In hindsight, what was the point in Orndorff coming out? It’s not like he showed up in the post-match angle.

Flair worked on the arm. Flair chopped away at Savage. Flair, immediately after a 28 minute match, gets the heat and beats up Randy Savage who last wrestled more than an hour ago on this show. What a geek of a WCW Champion Randy Savage was here.

While Ric made it to the ring, Jimmy took a cheap shot kick at the gut of Savage. Ric did a hammerlock to Savage and dropped knees on the arm. Flair grabbed the wounded arm and just stretched it over his own shoulder. Savage fires back but runs into a sleeper hold. Savage does a backdrop

Jimmy threw the megaphone to Flair but Savage fought him, took the megaphone and used it on Flair which busted him up big time. Savage hit the elbow when the Four Horsemen ran down.

Benoit and Pillman ran down as Jimmy got the referee. Arn Anderson ran down and clocked Savage with the brass knuckles. Flair covers Savage to win the world title for the 12th time in his career as the fans go nuts.

The Horsemen have a big party in the ring. Pillman waffled Savage with the belt. and that’s how the show ends.

Match Rating: ¾*

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My initial reaction to this is, obviously, this pretty much solidifies Savage’s claim for one of the worst world title reigns of all time. All of Savage’s matches ended in a DQ and in the match where he loses the title, he gets his ass-kicked by an exhausted Ric Flair and gets beat. Was there shenanigans? Yes. But at the end of all of this, after Savage won what Buffer called the greatest battle royal in history last month, Savage drops the title to Flair and came off as a complete geek of a champion.

However, I will say this about the post-match celebration. Ric Flair sold this like it meant something and when you’re win your twelfth title reign and you still have to sell how much it means to you, that tells you how great Flair was. It still felt like a big deal when Flair won the title here and he sold it as if it was a big deal. The Horsemen were so happy, Pillman was going nuts and it showed legitimate passion that you don’t get from wrestlers nowadays. In a lot of ways, that was a success.

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That was Starrcade. That was an easier PPV review to do than I figured it would be. To be fair, a lot of the matches on this show were nothing matches. The big sell for the show was WCW vs NJPW but really the show-stealing matches were like Eddie vs Otani and Benoit vs Liger. Every other match was just in the area of slightly above average to an absolute nothing match and there was a lot of nothing matches where my reviews were just really short. Not a lot to say.

Going into 1995, the world title picture does have a bit of intrigue to it. Flair has the World title and Hogan apparently has a World title shot awaiting him after Starrcade. I’m pretty sure the match is happening on Nitro but this little period before the nWo arrive will be somewhat interesting to see how the world title picture shapes up before the big arrival of Scott Hall and Kevin Nash.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the WCW Starrcade 1995 review. We are now heading into 1996 which will be an eventful year for WCW and see a major shift in the wrestling landscape.

WCW Nitro Reading Order

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RETRO EXPRESS: WCW WORLD WAR III 1995 (NOVEMBER 26TH 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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Are you all ready for the biggest battle royal in the history of professional wrestling? 60 men will battle for the vacated World Heavyweight Championship. The title was held up after the controversial finish from Halloween Havoc‘s main-event title match between The Giant and Hulk Hogan. While The Giant won via disqualification, and Jimmy Hart had secretly signed a “title-can-change-on-DQs” stipulation, the big man was ruled to not be the WCW World Champion. WCW Commissioner Nick Bockwinkel determined that the vacated title will be awarded to the winner of their World War III 60 man battle royal.

This is a battle royal that included giants such as The Giant and The Yeti, Immortals like Hulk Hogan, all the members of the Dungeon of Doom including the recent turncoat Lex Luger, all the Four Horsemen including Ric Flair, other stars like Sting, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, Kensuke Sasaki, Eddie Guerrero and many, MANY more….

 

Date: November 26th, 1995

Brand: WCW

City: Norfolk, Virginia

Attendance: 12,000 (WCW said it was sold out)

Commentators: Tony Schiavonie and Bobby Heenan

(NOTE: Eric Bischoff, Dusty Rhodes, Chris Cruise and Larry Zybsko were also commentators for the battle royal. Mike Tenay was a commentator for the women’s tag team match)

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I had to watch this opening promo twice because I was clearly not paying enough attention to it the first time around. Hulk Hogan promos are always entertaining but he has a habit, especially during this period, of just being batshit crazy. There’s no other way to describe it and I apologise for the language but it’s true. We’ve had promos of Hogan wearing black gloves and comparing himself to OJ Simpson, he talked about being on the dark side, he cut a promo with a big sword two weeks ago. At this point, I was kinda numb to it as I just enjoyed them despite how crazy and exciting they were. There’s real no point analysing every little detail.

Here, it took me two attempts and several trips to the internet to figure out what he was on about. If Hulk Hogan would have cut this promo in 2019, where WWE have a weird obsession with making insider references to “dirtsheets” and the internet and all that crap, it probably would have worked out better. In 1995, this was just the most random promo I’ve ever heard.

I’ll break it down. He comes out with Sting and “Macho Man” Randy Savage. He says that out of everything bad, there’s always something good. The Hulkamaniacs have stuck by him even when he was on the dark side. He said he knows who his friends are and that the dark side of Hulk Hogan will be no more. He ripped off the black gear as he vowed to burn the Dungeon of Doom. He actually set the gear on fire in this bin. He vowed he’s gonna stand by Sting’s side and that he would never question Sting again. He flat out said “I WANNA BE YOUR FRIEND FOREVER STING.” Let’s all remember that for the main-event.

Savage apologised and called Sting the coolest dude in the world as he was questioning Sting too during these run-ins with the Dungeon of Doom. Then Hogan went on an incredibly insane tirade. He was mad that people were saying that Randy Savage actually had a legitimate arm injury. Hogan laughed and suggested that it was part of the plan and there was nothing wrong with Savage.

On the second attempt of watching promo, I had to transcribe the next part of this promo. He grabs a piece of paper and says the following:

“OBSERVE THIS. This is what we call a rag sheet. They said The Giant would win the battle royal. They said Randy Savage was injured. This is like a dinosaur compared to the the internet and that the internet has all the scoops. We’re gonna steal the world title.”

Now… this was aimed at the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Apparently, they “revealed” that The Giant was gonna win the battle royal and win the title and mentioned something about Savage’s injury. Hogan was a man here with creative control and a platform to complete bitch about Dave Meltzer and “rag sheets” and he laughed off this newsletter and literally burned it. He laughed at the idea that Savage was actually hurt (and he was actually hurt which you could tell by the matches we’ve watched him in as of late).

All I could think on the second attempt of watching this is what were the fans thinking during this promo? All I could think is they’re like “what is Hogan on about?” In 2019, this promo might have worked better since the majority of wrestling fans are hardcore fans nowadays. Here, there was a lot of fans who didn’t read Wrestling Observer Newsletter that had no idea what Hogan was on about. Surreal.

 

They recapped a DDP promo with Diamond Doll and Mean Gene. I think this may have been from WCW Saturday Night. DDP tells Diamond Doll to shut up and Diamond Doll says no and stands up for herself. Mean Gene gets all flustered and declares to the world that they’re in the middle of an argument! Lovely insight from WCW journalist Mean Gene Okerlund

Diamond Doll said that she will put herself on the line for this TV title match at World War III as DDP doesn’t appreciate everything she does for him. She said he wouldn’t know a 10 if it was staring him in the face.

 

Johnny B Badd (c) vs DDP w/Kimberly the Diamond Doll for the WCW Television Championship

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If there’s not much to the review of this match, it’s only because we saw this exact same match at Halloween Havoc. This was slightly better if anything. They wrestled for a bit. Heenan drove home that DDP was worth $13 million and that’s why Diamond Doll should stay with him! Badd tried a 619 but DDP evaded and Badd responded by doing a big dive to the outside.

Badd tried to get to DDP but DDP used Diamond Doll as a human shield. He then threw Diamond Doll at Badd to get a sucker punch in on Badd. There was a weird spot that saw Badd go for a hurricanrana but DDP countered into a tombstone slam. Yeah, not a tombstone piledriver. He got Badd into a tombstone position and then just slammed him down.

Badd’s method of getting back into things was just collapsing out of the corner as DDP drove himself into the ring post. We saw an awesome spot when DDP went for a full on kick to the gut but he missed and slipped as if he actually slipped on a banana peel! DDP was a tremendous seller.

Tony explained that these two men had a disadvantage going into the battle royal later but Heenan explained that at least they’re on first. Heenan actually kinda contradicted this point later but we’ll get to that.

Diamond Doll gave Badd the 10+ sign just as she did at Halloween Havoc. Badd hit a sit-out powerbomb for a near fall that the fans went nuts for. DDP tried a pin with his feet on the rope but Badd kicked out. Badd went for the “Badd Mood” springboard splash but DDP got the knees up. I think they screwed up a gut-wrench spot as DDP just dropped him with a gutbuster. This was kinda confirmed by the fact that they went for the spot again.

Badd reversed a tombstone piledriver for one of his own for a near fall. Badd hit a dive to the outside which Tony also called the “Badd Mood” and he got the pin to retain the title.

I actually loved Kimberly’s facial expressions. She’s on the outside as Badd hits this Badd Mood. She actually shows concern for her man DDP and when Badd gets the pin, she actually looks stunned. She’s not like super happy about it… she’s just stunned. It wasn’t until she actually got into the ring where she showed joy about Badd’s win as it took a long time for it to sink in. She was getting sick of DDP, which is why she put herself on the line in the match and thinking that it may motivate DDP, but he lost and it completely took her off guard. After all, Badd won the match at Halloween Havoc because of Max Muscle. Here, despite being happy to be with Badd she still showed concern for the ex. This was great story-telling.

Match Rating: **3/4

 

Mean Gene plugged the WCW hotline about the WWF steroid scandal. They actually name-dropped WWF this time which is an important and we’ll also come back to it later. Mean Gene interviewed Badd and Diamond Doll. Badd said he was gonna show DDP what respect is all about. Mean Gene was about to ask the question about how Diamond Doll felt about this but before she could give an answer, Badd offered her the chance to be his manager and wanted her to take some time to think about it. Diamond Doll appreciated the offer for her to think about it but respects the fact that the better man won tonight. Badd was excited for the battle royal.

This really hits home how good the story-telling was in this program. Badd’s not really shown to be a bad guy… pardon the pun. He allows Diamond Doll time to think about the offer and he’s not treating her like property. He’s treating her as a person and is giving her a choice of what to do. Even though she put herself up on the line, she’s got to be 100% cool with it for Badd to be cool with it. Diamond Doll is gonna think it over and I think in a week’s time, we’ll find out if she’s truly cool with this. This was awesome.

 

Big Bubba Rogers vs Hacksaw Jim Duggan in a “taped fist match”

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God, this was a bad match. I think if this would have been miles better if it wasn’t as long as this was. It was ten minutes long and in no circumstances should Big Bubba Rogers and Hacksaw Jim Duggan wrestle for ten minutes.

Duggan jumped Big Bubba from behind to get things going. Hacksaw tried to hit Big Bubba with the 2×4 but Big Bubba begged him off.

Hacksaw tried to clothesline him down with two attempts but he eventually sent him crashing to the outside with a third clothesline and then got a USA chant going.

I kinda feel bad for Tony and Bobby as their announce table was positioned right in the corner of two of the rings set up. It seemed unsafe as hell as Big Bubba nearly crashed right into it during the match.

Hacksaw and Big Bubba started scrapping in another ring. Hacksaw went for something off the apron but Big Bubba moved and Hacksaw crashed and burned. It didn’t occur to me until this match just how great a gig Hacksaw had in wrestling. This USA chant is so timeless that all he needs to do is yell USA and the whole crowd bursts out into USA chants and it gets them into the match and cheering for Duggan because he’s such a patriot in their eyes. He is even wrestling a fellow American from Georgia!

They tumbled into each other in another ring. Big Bubba whipped out possibly the only enziguri I’ve ever seen him do. Big Bubba whipped out tape and Tony asks “I don’t know what this is gonna do.” Isn’t the whole match a “taped fist match” for a reason? Isn’t the whole storyline that they’re constantly knocking each other out with these taped fists?

Hacksaw sent Big Bubba to the outside with an ugly looking tackle. Tony initially asked a legitimate question. They’re wrestling in all of these other rings. Why isn’t the referee technically counting him out if they’re supposed to be in one ring? In a standard singles match, this would be a good point. About a minute later though, Tony explained that this match can only be won via pinfall or knock out. Well then WHY WOULD THE REFEREE COUNT THESE GUYS OUT?

This really grinds my gears about the commentators. These commentators should be the smartest people in the WCW world. THEY should be the ones with all the scoops. Not the internet as Hogan alluded to earlier. This Tony Schiavonie doesn’t even know the rules of the match!

This also explains why Big Bubba taped Hacksaw’s arm to the rope and punches away at him and it’s not a disqualification. To be perfectly honest, they never even explained what the rules were until Tony mentioned the match can only be won via pinfall and knock out.

Hacksaw dumped Big Bubba to the outside and Big Bubba’s lower back SMACKED into the apron. It was one of the worst apron bumps I’ve ever seen and it wasn’t even intentional. Big Bubba was clearly not moving right afterwards. It looked so nasty that the fans all yelled oooowwww. Nasty.

Of course, then Hacksaw proceeds to slam away at Big Bubba’s back onto the mat.

Hacksaw hit a big clothesline as VK Wallstreet ran down with a taped fist of his own. Hacksaw hit Wallstreet with a 2×4 for a big pop. Big Bubba hits Hacksaw with a chain and knocked him out. By the way, this referee seemed so bored by this match just purely based on the delivery of his ten count. He looked like this was just a waste of his time. One arm up and looked half asleep. No that I blame him. This was a pointless match that went too long as they just brawled everywhere to no heat except when Hacksaw chanted USA. This was a bad match.

Match Rating: 1/2* and that is actually being generous. This match barely evaded a minus rating!

 

They plugged WCW stars being on CompuServe chatting with folks on the internet.

They cut to Mean Gene with Ric Flair. Flair was on form as usual. Flair says the whole wrestling world knows the Nature Boy is gonna style and profile. For what happened on Nitro a few weeks ago, the great one is back one more time to get Sting. Flair calls himself the best thing going today. Flair says it’s been his master plan as he’s got all the babyfaces in the same building and said that Flair would rule WCW one more time. Typical Flair promo.

 

Cutie Suzuki and Mayumi Ozaki representing JWP vs Bull Nakano and Akira Hokuto w/Sonny Onoo repreesnting AJPW

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Before I watched this show, I took a quick peep at the card for the show since they never advertised anything on Nitro. I saw Bull Nakano’s name as part of a women’s tag team match and I got giddy. Oh, I have no idea how good I was gonna get it.

Mike Tenay joined Tony and Bobby on commentary supposedly as the Japanese expert in WCW. This was great from the get-go as Bull and Akira whooped ass from the start of the match. Bull threw Ozaki around like a ragdoll. Akira had a hold of her arm and Bull started biting the other arm as Ozaki had nowhere to go as her hands were tied with these heel wrestlers!

They did a lovely spot where Bull choked and hoisted Ozaki up and Akira caught Ozaki from the elevated position for like a modified Hart Attack.

Ozaki fired back but Bull dropped her with a big right hand sending her crashing to the ground. Ozaki finally was able to get free by hitting a big DDT. Cutie got the hot tag and what followed was an awesome spot. I can’t remember who got the lock in on who but Cutie locked on a Single Leg Boston Crab. Ozaki locked on a Single Leg Boston Crab herself as they had both had stereo Single Leg Boston Crabs locked on to the heels as the fans ate this up. They were going nuts for this spot and it was truly well executed spot.

Bull eventually got mad and turned things around. There was miscommunication as Suzuki crashed into Ozaki and sent her onto the floor. Bull tried a moonsault but missed. Then Ozaki and Cutie went absolutely crazy as they unleashed top rope foot stomps on the big bad Bull. One after another after another as the fans were going crazy. They went for the cover but Bull STILL kicked out at two. This was great.

So much was going on as it was insanely difficult for me to take notes! They tried a double suplex on Bull but the clearly much bigger Bull reversed it into her own double suplex! Akira went for a dive but missed. The heels went for double powerbombs but they were countered into roll-ups for near falls. This was tremendous.

Ozaki and Suzuki both went off the top for top rope crossbodies. Ozaki hit a beautiful dragon suplex for a near fall. Akira then decided enough with these babyfaces and proceeded to commit attempted murder. She almost DESTROYED Ozaki with a German Suplex. One of the most dangerous looking German suplexes I’ve ever seen in my whole life. I saw Brock Lesnar hurl everybody in WWE with German suplexes across the ring. One of my memories was Brock killing Big E with a suplex at Beast of the East. This looked so much more brutal than any suplex I’ve ever seen.

Akira hit a double front dropkick from the top and did a flip to the outside on babyfaces. Bull and Akira did a Doomsday Device for a near fall. Bull did a big leg drop from the top for the pin in an awesome, AWESOME match.

I just saw two great women’s matches at the 2019 Royal Rumble. Ronda Rousey faced Sasha Banks and Asuka faced Becky Lynch. I was debating all week in my head about which one of these matches were best. This tag team match from 1995 was miles ahead of both of them. I’m not sure I’m gonna go as far as to say these women were better wrestlers than the likes of Asuka and Becky etc. (especially not Asuka) but there was just a sense of excitement in this one that was missing in those two matches. This was not a routine WWE match. This was not even a routine WCW 1995 match. This was these four women doing whatever the hell they wanted to do and it got over with this crowd that’d never seen these girls before. This was amazing.

Match Rating: **** (Exactly like Dave Meltzer from Wrestling Observer at the time and I have no problem agreeing with that rating. Everybody go watch this match on the WWE Network!)

 

OK, Mean Gene plugs the hotline AGAIN. He said there was more comings and goings from another promotion, they can’t talk about here but if you call the hotline you can find out… YOU GUYS named-dropped the WWF specifically earlier and the steroid scandal.

He brought Jimmy Hart and Lex Luger and Mean Gene flat out called Jimmy a little twerp. That made me laugh. Jimmy said you might just be seeing the next WCW World champion in Lex Luger. Luger said that they’re looking at the flagship and the future of WCW wrestling. He was gonna smash Savage into the pieces and he was gonna stand there as the WCW Champion.

 

Kensuke Sasaki (c) w/Sonny Onoo vs Chris Benoit representing the Four Horsemen for the WCW United States Championship

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You remember a couple of weeks ago when Benoit beat Sasaki in a 2 minute 40 second match on Nitro? This was like a couple of weeks ago and they’re here at World War 3 with Kensuke Sasaki as the United States Champion defending the title against Chris Benoit! What a twist of fate!

Since I don’t think I touched on this during my review of their first match, allow me to explain what happened. On the same week as the Benoit match, they did a big WCW and Japan supershow. This is not on the WWE Network before you ask. On that show, Sasaki challenged Sting for the US title and beat him to win the title. It’s hard to believe with the finish of the Benoit match on Nitro but yeah, Sasaki was the new US champion of WCW.

Sonny Onoo had a great line where he looked straight at the camera and said “this Chris Benoit thinks he’s an American wannabe” and proceeded to laugh like Waluigi! It really went like “wahahahahaha!” We need more heel managers like this in 2019!

There was some great technical wrestling going on in this one and all you could do was just sit back and watch. There was some small details about this which I liked. Benoit was dominating the technical game so Sasaki’s response was to bring brute force into things with a couple of scoop slams and knocking the wind out of the faster Benoit.

Benoit hit a big dive which almost saw Benoit crashed head first into the barricade. This was a very scary spot and even scarier with the “benefit” of hindsight (which really isn’t a benefit all things considered).

Onoo got on commentary for a little bit and mentioned some deal about Starrcade. Apparently, the story was that he got kicked out of WCW but supposedly he’s got a deal set up for Starrcade.

Sasaki hit a big powerslam during all of this. Benoit hit two German suplexes but he went for the third and Sasaki got out of it and just flat out hit a big clothesline. Sasaki tried a tombstone piledriver but Benoit reversed it into one of his own, which would have been a more special spot if I hadn’t seen it in the opening match with DDP and Badd. Those two did the exact same spot.

Benoit hit a diving headbutt. I don’t want to talk about this for too long but I couldn’t help but notice this. Benoit hits the diving headbutt here and then just goes towards the next spot in these 1995 matches. If you watch an older Chris Benoit in action, he’d hit the headbutt and then he’d be down clutching his head for a while before doing whatever spot was next. It’s not nice to think about but I could not help but think about this. How much can change in the span of a decade.

Benoit did a Frankensteiner for a near fall. Sasaki tried an armbar variation but Benoit got the rope. Sasaki then finished things off with a big clothesline and a Northern Lights bomb to retain the title.

Not as exciting as the women’s match but a very well-done technically proficient match.

Match Rating: ***1/2

 

I almost just left the room for the next segment. For what feels like the millionth time in my life, MEAN GENE OKERLUND DOES A PROMO WITH THE TASKMASTER, JIMMY HART AND THE GIANT!

HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO SEE THIS? At least with Ric Flair, you know it’s going to be entertaining every time you see it as you have no idea what he’s gonna say. Here, the Dungeon of Doom are just rambling and babbling about the same old stuff. No substance to any of this other than The Giant’s excellent facial expressions.

Taskmaster blabbed about taking no prisoners and called The Giant the uncrowned champion. The Giant had his eyes laser-focused on the hard cam for the majority of this. Then the fans burst out into Hogan chants and the Giant roared and it got Jimmy Hart fired up with his promo. Taskmaster refused to believe that the Dungeon of Doom would implode as the Dungeon of Doom would win. The Giant vowed to throw Hogan over the top rope. He graced us with a poem: “Roses are red, violets are blue, I’m gonna kick you’re butt to Calamazo.” This was definitely one of the more livelier promos from the Dungeon of Doom.

 

They plugged Starrcade, which was set to air on a Wednesday.

Mean Gene was with Savage again. Savage said what it is is what it is. Mean Gene asked if Savage was jittery to which Savage responded by saying that he’s always jittery. Savage said he was the total package and he was gonna get Lex. Savage insisted that he was a million percent which he clarified was better that hundred percent! He is mathematically correct! He said he and Luger had a date with destiny.

 

Randy Savage vs Lex Luger w/Jimmy Hart

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This was the 3rd match in the series between these two. Luger won the first match and Savage won the second match at Halloween Havoc so this was the rubber match. Bobby talked about losing his voice for Nitro but insisted that he’d be there as he needed this job as he’s supporting an orphanage in Guam!

These cameramen had no problem with constant shots of the Hooters girls in the front row.

I know the line between reality and fiction is very fishy with WCW. At Halloween Havoc, Savage was in kayfabe 100% against Lex Luger but worked very slow as he was working with a legitimate injury. Here, in storyline, the announcers played up that Savage’s arm was actually injured but Savage was working the match as if he was a million percent as he claimed earlier! Apparently, he still had the injury according to Wrestling Observer Newsletter so who actually knows how he was feeling.

He didn’t really add much to this match and it wasn’t like they did anything that they hadn’t done before. They did some stuff. Savage hit a scoop slam and hit an elbow drop but Jimmy Hart distracted the referee. Savage tried to throw Luger at Jimmy but Jimmy moved out of the way as Luger went crashing onto the floor.

It was here where we learned Sting and Luger were gonna team up on Nitro. Lex Luger locked on the Torture Rack on the outside as the referee was counting them down. As a true manager, Jimmy got on the megaphone and yelled at Luger what number the referee was at with his count!

Luger locked on an arm lock as Savage passed out in an odd finish. Luger refused to let go off the arm when Sting ran down. He got in Luger’s face just as Luger did for Sting when Sting locked on the Scorpion Deathlock on Flair on Nitro. Luger relented and Sting went to care for Savage. So even after they did the opening promo where Hogan and Savage had faith in Sting, they’re still playing up the nature of this friendship between Luger and Sting and that Sting is not totally on the babyfaces’ side.

Match Rating: *

 

They recapped the Sting/Ric Flair feud. Sting vowed that if he ever got Flair in the Scorpion Deathlock again, he would never let go.

 

Sting vs Ric Flair

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Tony plugged that Hogan would face Hugh Morrus on Nitro.

We had an awesome spot in this match where Flair was punched by Sting. The Nature Boy rolled out, rolled into another ring and started to style and profile in another ring! Flair even got a good thrust in towards one of the male fans who were outraged as the women cheered!

The fans were very hot for this match. Flair was dropkicked and rolled all the way into the third ring! Sister Sherri and Col Robert Parker randomly came out to watch the match and smooch. It’s every Sting vs Ric Flair match you’ve ever seen except Flair was able to flop and roll into three different rings during the match!

Flair got in the ring and tried a test of strength. Sting literally had hold of one arm and Flair yelled ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGH!

Sting tried a Stinger Splash but crashed into the barricade. In a spot I’ve seen at least twice in the series so far, Flair went for a chair but the referee Nick Patrick interjected himself and grabbed the chair. Sting grabbed Flair by the throat but as Nick was trying to yell at Sting, Flair got a cheeky low blow for the heat!

Flair worked on the leg of Sting and then went for the Figure Four Leg Lock. Flair was so desperate that he actually clawed and punched away at Sting’s leg! Flair then made the mistake of slapping Sting. Sting roared as Flair went bug-eyed and screamed as Sting turned it over!

Sting did a backslide for a near fall. Flair pushed Nick Patrick but the referee was having none of it and pushed Flair to the ground as the fans went crazy for it. Flair ran into another ring which the commentators clarified was ring #1. Sting did a comeback but Flair cut him off with an eye poke. Sting threw Flair from the top rope. Again, every Sting vs Ric Flair match you ever saw and all of the same spots will never get old!

Sting hit a big superplex and locked on the Scorpion Deathlock as Flair gave up. It’s actually funny. Sting let go shortly after he got the win despite claiming he wouldn’t let go. I watched this and thought this was a point blank plot-hole. However, I though about it when I reviewed the Lex Luger vs Randy Savage match. Sting ordered Luger to let tgo and not make the same mistake he did. So maybe, with that in mind, he decided to learn from his mistakes and not stoop to Flair’s level by trying to end his career. That at least makes sense to me.

Match Rating: ***1/4

 

Bobby actually predicted that none of the men that already wrestled at World War III would win. I said earlier that this was kinda a contradiction, since earlier he said Badd and DDP wouldn’t be at a disadvantage as they were wrestling first. Now he’s changing his tune and saying that they’re not gonna win. I dunno. It seemed like a weird lIne.

They revealed the three giants of the battle ring in each ring to be The Yeti, The Giant and HULK HOGAN. THAT GIANT… Hulk Hogan.

Speaking of Hogan, he was brought out for another interview with Mean Gene. Hogan said he smelt the stench of the smelly Giant. Hogan vowed to rip and tear his way all the way to the WCW title as he ripped his shirt off. Hogan said it’s every man for himself which actually turned out to be very accurate in the battle royal. Hogan said he had a chance to prove Hulkamania was the greatest force on earth. Hogan flexed as Mean Gene was so taken back by these physique to the soundtrack of the fans booing in the background!

I couldn’t help but notice, when they showed the WCW title, that Hogan’s name was still on the name plate. My question is how has it taken so long for that nameplate to be taken off the belt? I actually thought it was a spoiler about who would win the battle royal!

They showed the two other announce teams for this battle royal. Ring #1 was the announce team of Tony and Bobby. Ring #2 was the announce team of Eric Bischoff and Dusty Rhodes. Ring #3 was Chris Cruise and Larry Zybsko. God bless all of these commentators, but they had no hope in hell of successfully calling this battle royal!

 

The WCW World War III Battle Royal for the vacated WCW World Heavyweight Championship

Alex Wright vs. Arn Anderson vs. Big Bubba Rogers vs. Big Train Bart vs. Bobby Walker vs. Booker T vs. Brian Knobbs vs. Brian Pillman vs. Bunkhouse Buck vs. Chris Benoit vs. Chris Kanyon vs. Cobra vs. Dave Sullivan vs. Diamond Dallas Page vs. Dick Slater vs. Disco Inferno vs. Earl Robert Eaton vs. Eddie Guerrero vs. Fidel Sierra vs. Hugh Morrus vs. Hulk Hogan vs. Jerry Sags vs. Jim Duggan vs. Joey Maggs vs. Johnny B. Badd vs. Kensuke Sasaki vs. Kurasawa vs. Lex Luger vs. Lord Steven Regal vs. Lt. James Earl Wright vs. Marcus Alexander Bagwell vs. Mark Starr vs. Maxx Muscle vs. Meng vs. Mike Winner vs. Mr. JL vs. Paul Orndorff vs. Pez Whatley vs. Randy Savage vs. Ric Flair vs. Ricky Santana vs. Road Warrior Hawk vs. Scott Armstrong vs. Scott Norton vs. Scotty Riggs vs. Sgt. Buddy Lee Parker vs. Sgt. Craig Pittman vs. Shark vs. Squire David Taylor vs. Steve Armstrong vs. Stevie Ray vs. Sting vs. Super Assassin #1 vs. Super Assassin #2 vs. The Giant vs. The One Man Gang vs. The Taskmaster vs. The Yeti vs. VK Wallstreet vs. Zodiac

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Now I’m sure you’re all wondering why I listed all 60 men in this battle royal! Because WCW actually went through the effort of introducing all 60 men separately into this battle royal! They all came out at completely random times (except Hogan coming out last) and they call came down in a single file row. Nobody was out of position. They call trecked down to the ring. Harlem Heat came out separately. THE SUMO ASSASSINS came out and were introduced separately as Sumo Assassin #1 and Sumo Assassin #2. The Barrio Brothers.

Scott Armstrong, future WWE referee, looked like the biggest geek in the world as he came out with a mullet and pointed to the camera! Some guys, when I wrote down their names, I just wrote THAT GUY and THAT OTHER GUY! It wasn’t until I looked it up where I could clarify their names. I could not catch the name but I wrote like three different versions of Big Train Bart’s name! Cobra, with the most “charisma” I’ve ever seen with the most serious face imaginable looked at the camera and went… woo. No umph to it. Just… woo.

Let’s talk about The Yeti. The last time we saw this… thing, he came out as a mummy and dry-humped Hulk Hogan with The Giant. He came back here and he was dressed as a giant version of Scorpion from Mortal Kombat. I have no idea as the man built as a Yeti transformed into a Mummy and then transformed into a ninja! I’d love to know what Eric Bischoff, Executive President I believe of WCW, was thinking when he thought of the Yeti’s very gimmick!

I wrote on my notes that this was going to be the worst review of my life! So here goes nothing!

Michael Buffer finished the introductions and after all the fireworks in the world… all 60 men in the three rings started to fight!

There were three rings with 20 men in each ring. Once one of the rings were down to ten men, they’d go into another ring (I think ring #1 was the one they had to go into). So when it was down to 30 people, the camera focused on the one ring they were all in. By the way it took like 10-20 minutes in for them to get to 30 people in the ring!

I literally wrote on my notes: “You cannot keep up with any of this shit as there’s 3 screens.”

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Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair start to fight from the start of the match and the announcers are unable to call it. The fans are going crazy but because 60 people are all brawling at the same time, the announcers cannot see this thing.

Everybody was fighting. It’s hard to call what happened. My notes are mostly just these two men fought on the outside, Disco Inferno was on the outside, Lex Luger was on the outside, this guy tried an elimination, this guy tried elimination etc. Reviewing a battle royal is weird. I had no idea how to grade it when it was over.

A notable thing to note was that The Yeti was eliminated almost immediately. All the fanfare on Nitro before Halloween Havoc and on Halloween Havoc itself to hype up The Yeti and this ninja was thrown out early on in the match. One of the three giants was already eliminated!

Big Bubba Rogers was the Dolph Ziggler of this battle royal. Ziggler has this thing in battle royals where, I think as a means to show how athletic he is at staying in, he’s thrown out all the time but is able to hang on. Big Bubba did the exact same thing. The Shark and Hogan both tried to eliminate this guy but he stayed in by like hanging on the ropes or something. It was astonishing to see BIG BUBBA ROGERS of all people do this!

These announcers missed eliminations left and right and you really couldn’t blame them. I didn’t realise until like a third into the match that the referees were also in the ring during all of this! WHY EVEN BOTHER? One skinny referee is in there with all of these big bodybuilders, with 20 men in each ring, just squished. Why bother if there’s two much action for them to call?

5 minutes in and we had two eliminations – The Yeti and a dude called Mike Winner. Mike was actually the first one eliminated so he was not a winner. There was WAY TOO MUCH brawling outside of the rings. Hogan and Flair were brawling on the outside, Orndorff and Luger, Savage and Luger. Lex Luger is actually a key in all of this, He was on the outside for like 95% of this match. At what point do they start DQ’ing guys who stay outside of the ring in battle royals? I know this still goes on in 2019 but Luger was barely in the ring while everybody else was getting beat on. Why doesn’t everybody just wrestle on the outside so they can’t get eliminated? This bothered me way too much.

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Guys like Mark Starr, Big Train Bart were eliminated in the melee. Arn tried a piledriver on Luger on the outside but Luger somehow countered it. A Barrio Brother was eliminated. Scott Armstrong was eliminated and was left unmoving on the floor. It looked like he landed hard. Bobby Walker was thrown out. The Giant after like ten minutes decided to run wild. He tossed out Stevie Ray, the other Barrio brother and Brian Knobbs. Alex Wright was tossed out, somebody else was tossed out.

Randy Savage eliminated Lord Eaton. Dirty Dick Slater LEFT according to Tony! Ring #2 was down to 10 men so they all moved to Ring #1. VK Wallstreet was thrown out by Savage. Scott Norton was eliminated by fellow Dungeon of Doom member Hugh Morrus. Hulk Hogan and The Giant finally come to blows but this is barely touched upon by the announcers as they probably had no idea it was going on.

Finally, 31 people are left and are all fighting in one ring according to the announcers. The Dungeon of Doom all tried to attack Hogan. Pittman locked on an armbar on Joey Maggs and then threw him out. It was like he snapped his arm and they threw him out. It was kinda cool looking.

Eric Bischoff claimed Kurasawa was eliminated but it was never shown. It eventually emerged later that Kurasawa was still in the ring so Bischoff couldn’t even keep up. The man in charge of running the show could not keep up with this battle royal.

Somebody was stretchered out as Big Bubba and Hacksaw eliminated each other. Disco Inferno was eliminated and Dave Taylor was eliminated. The Dungeon of Doom then all turn on each other… FOR NO REASON. They’re dominating the match and then The Giant and One Man Gang start to fight. Then Hugh Morrus got involved and he started fighting with them. This was a complete mess of a match but I loved it. A train wreck of the most tremendous type!

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Jerry Saggs and Booker T were both eliminated. Hogan eliminated Taskmaster to a big pop. Steven Regal was eliminated. Hogan and Giant had a terrible lock up in the middle of the ring. DDP and Badd eliminated each other and fought to the back. Pittman was thrown out.

Benoit was eliminated. Savage tried to eliminate The Giant but Giant escaped and then headbutted Macho Man in his groin. Meng was thrown out. Flair and Sting fought again. Morrus eliminated another Dungeon of Doom member in The Zodiac. Sasaki finally got rid of Hugh Morrus.

Hawk eliminated Pillman. Hogan burst onto the scene and eliminated Hawk and Kensuke Sasaki. We were down to ten men. Sting almost eliminated Eddie Guerrero accidentally but Eddie stayed largely due to his legs leaving him hung out to dry. Hogan dumped out Mr Wonderful and as Orndorff rolled out, his legs got stuck up by the barricade and was propped like a doll on the barricade.

Ric and Arn Anderson worked together on Eddie Guerrero. Arn hit a spinebuster and threw him out. For a cruiserweight, Eddie Guerrero was given a lot in this big WCW PPV main-event. He made it to the final ten. Sting and Hogan worked together on Flair. Sting catapulted Arn into Flair on the top rope to eliminate Flair and then Hogan eliminated Arn in a matter of seconds.

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Fans are going crazy now they can finally see what was going on. Flair ran into another ring and was IRATE about this development.

The final six were Hulk Hogan, Sting, Randy Savage, Lex Luger, One Man Gang and The Giant. It was mostly babyfaces vs heels when it came down to the final six. Eventually, Sting and Luger worked together to try and eliminate The Giant. Just as they had him on the verge of elimination, HULK HOGAN eliminated all three men from behind.

So after all the talk about how he’d always be Sting’s friend and he’d always stand by Sting’s side, he eliminated Sting from behind. What an absolute cock this Hulk Hogan is! He eliminated his friend when his back was turned. He didn’t even wait until the end to have a fair fight. Hogan was totally a heel at this point!

Eventually The Giant pulled Hogan from underneath the bottom rope. They begin to fight and Hogan even slams The Giant but as this is going on, Savage eliminated One Man Gang in the ring. We couldn’t see it  but the bell rings as Savage was declared the winner.

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Savage declared the winner actually got a lot of boos. An irate Hogan, even more irate than Ric Flair, pleaded his case to the referees. He even went as far as to motion himself as if to show what happened. He was pulled underneath the bottom rope by The Giant. Hogan was such a great friend to Savage that after his friend Savage won the title, Hogan is trying to upstage him. He mockingly laughs at Savage being given the belt, he whines while Mean Gene insists this is gonna stand.

In Hogan’s defense, he was screwed. He was never technically eliminated and this match being such a train wreck actually plays into the story. As I mentioned how the referees must have no idea what was going on, the referees didn’t see HOW Hogan was suddenly out of the ring. So many people were going outside of the ring that they may have just been going over the top rope and the referees wouldn’t have known. Here, they saw the only two people left in the ring were Savage and One Man Gang. Hell, we had at least two occasions where rivals eliminated each other and then fought to the back. They may have seen Giant and Hogan fighting and figured, Giant eliminated him.

Savage is in the ring and said he valued Hogan’s opinions but he saw nothing. However, Savage lives by what it is is what it is. Hogan even went as far as to ask the fans if he went under the bottom rope. Mean Gene was unsure as to whether this would stand up in court.

Hogan said there was a dark cloud as neither man went over the top rope. Savage said that he wanted to see the film and Hogan said he wanted a title shot if it was shown he went under the bottom rope.

After a while, Hogan eventually calmed down and shook Savage’s hands. He gave congrats to his friend despite the fact that he was screwed in this battle royal.

Match Rating: **

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If you think about it, this finish was just the ultimate poetic justice for Hulk Hogan. At Royal Rumble 1992, Sid Justice eliminated Hogan from behind and Hogan was outraged by this. He was so outraged that he helped Ric Flair eliminate Sid. EVERYBODY except Hulk Hogan and Vince McMahon (and I guess Gorilla Monsoon if you listen to the commentary) saw Hogan as the heel. He helped a heel eliminate a babyface when he was FAIRLY thrown out of the Royal Rumble.

Here in this battle royal, he eliminates his friend Sting from behind after doing the big promo about he’d never leave Sting’s side and he wanted to be his friend forever. So he completely does a flip-flop from the Royal Rumble 1992 and eliminates Sting. This time, HOGAN is robbed of the Battle Royal and his other friend Savage wins the title. It’s the karma to end all karmas and if you want to look at this with that incident in mind, Hogan got what he deserved here.

Regardless, this was a great finish. This sets up three big matches. It sets ups Randy Savage vs Hulk Hogan as when it’s proven Hogan went under the bottom rope, he will get the title shot that he wanted. It sets ups Randy Savage vs The Giant as he was technically never beaten for the title and Savage never even eliminated him in the battle royal. It also sets up Randy Savage vs Lex Luger again as Luger beat him earlier on in the night.

I’d say this PPV was a thumbs up. The wrestling up and down the card was great with the exception of I guess the Big Bubba/Hacksaw match and the Savage/Luger match. The battle royal was a MESS of a match and extremely difficult to follow but I had a fun time watching it. It was a complete train wreck for the first half and in the second half it was more co-ordinated. This PPV gets a THUMBS UP.

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I am 7500 words into this review and I am pooped. We hope you enjoyed that review as I had a lot of fun writing it. I usually hate doing the PPV reviews as they’re longer but this one was a lot of fun to write. I hope everybody liked it and I will be back for more Nitro. Back for fallout from World War 3 as we’re on the road to Starrcade!

WCW Nitro Reading Order

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #10 (NOVEMBER 6TH 1995) – STING VS RIC FLAIR, THE GIANT “DEFENDS” THE WCW WORLD TITLE

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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So we’re coming off the heels of Halloween Havoc 1995. It’s still unclear as to the fate of the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. The Giant defeated Hulk Hogan via disqualification due to shenanigans from Jimmy Hart and Lex Luger. However, the title cannot change hands on a disqualification. Throwing a monkey wrench into things, The Giant is still declaring himself the champion and vowed to defend his “title” on Nitro.

With the WCW title situation up in the air, will this show give us some clear direction in the main storyline as we head towards World War 3?

 

Date: November 6th,1995

Brand: WCW

City: Jacksonville, Florida

Rating: 2

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

 

This was INTERACTIVE WEEK in WCW. The fans could call in and vote on who they wanted in the main-event of the show. Before we get into who they could choose, I’d like to point out that The Giant is the “champion” set to “defend the WCW title” and he ended up in the opener on the show!

So there were two locker rooms to pick from – the red locker room and the blue locker room. The red locker room had all the heels and the blue locker room had all the babyfaces. The options in their respective locker rooms were:

RED LOCKER ROOM: Ric Flair, Meng, Diamond Dallas Page, “Blue Bloods” Lord Steven Regal and Earl Robert Eaton, Big Bubba Rogers, The Shark and Scott Norton

BLUE LOCKER ROOM: Sting, Johnny B Badd, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Dave Sullivan, Alex Wright, “The Nasty Boys” Brian Knobbs and Jerry Sags and  Mr JL

It was so clearly set up to be Sting vs Ric Flair in the main event, to the point where Eric Bischoff was literally telling you throughout the show to vote for these guys. How miserable must it have been for the other guys back there to be back there as the Executive Producer of the show (at least I think he was) doesn’t want you in the main event of the show? With that being said, Sting vs Ric Flair was the match I would have wanted to see back in 1995! Maybe throwing in dudes like Randy Savage for example may get messy with that particular storyline.

I also like how there was a possibility that  Mr JL vs The Shark could have main-evented this show over The Giant’s WCW title defense! Bobby Heenan wanted to see Mean Gene Okerlund vs Tony Schiavonie.

 

The Giant (c) w/Jimmy Hart vs Cobra in a match apparently for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship

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I felt like such a massive idiot when I saw Cobra come down to the ring. We got constant, and I mean constant, high screech buzzing sounds. I had no idea if it was just part of his theme song or if it was technical difficulties with the sound. Little did I know until after the show that it was actually Morse Code!

In some ways, this is sort of clever but this got on my case real quick. I mean Jeff Farmer, the dude who was actually Cobra, got a different gimmick in 1996 so this does not last long. For spoilers sake, I won’t reveal what the new gimmick is in case you don’t know!

The idea that The Giant vowed to defend the WCW title on this show and the wrestler that WCW decided was a worthy challenger was COBRA is absolutely hilarious. You’ve got a literal immortal monster and you think Cobra is gonna beat him for the title? To their credit, Eric was still insisting that this was not a title match. However, the end of the show suggests that the WCW Championship Committee must have had some idea what was going with the title.

In the end, all of it didn’t matter. The Giant hit a chokeslam and pinned Cobra in 17 seconds to “retain” the title. I actually timed it. 17 seconds. Mongo actually had a great line where he says Bobby hadn’t seen anything end this quickly since his honeymoon. The one high spot of this match.

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Mean Gene was with the heels in the red locker room. Mean Gene talked about Interactive Nitro as the bad guys all looked mean. The Shark and Scott Norton were shoving at each other for screen time as the Blue Bloods were in the back drinking tea. Then they cut to the blue locker room…

This was an incredible sight. Tony Schiavonie was with the babyfaces and these babyfaces were so full of energy and so fired up for this interactive Nitro. There were technical difficulties this time around. The screen was going buzzy, the sound was going buzzy but that didn’t stop these guys. Charis were thrown, many promos were cut as Sting yelled that he wanted Flair. The Nasty Boys wanted the Blue Bloods, Hacksaw Jim Duggan is pacing back and forth in front of everyone. In the middle of all of this, Alex Wright, the most serious of the bunch, eventually breaks and is just reduced to giggling through it all! This… was gold.

I’ll tell you why this was gold. Here, there’s two sets of locker rooms with good guys and bad guys. Even if you’d not been watching the storylines of WCW on a weekly basis, anyone can switch on the channel and figure out easily who the good guys and bad guys were. In WWE 2019, you have no way of figuring out who are the good guys and who are the bad guys. What you need is like a police board, pointing to different characters, to let you figure out who is on whose side. That’s too much work.

Make it easy for your audience to understand all of this. The babyfaces in the blue locker room were all excited and happy. The heels in the red locker room were all acting mean and acting like dicks to one another. Is it that hard WWE? And don’t tell me that it’s not possible to have clear babyfaces and heels in wrestling anymore because that’s just a lazy excuse to let the writers have the dudes do whatever they want. Put in the work and let the actions of everyone make sense. Put in the work.

I apologise for going off in a random tangent about this during a Nitro review but Jesus. This was 23 years ago and WCW have got it all figured out… for now.

 

Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage were hanging out in Venice Beach. This was just a totally bizarre segment. They were hanging out with a bunch of geezers. They had a Jimi-Hendrix style of musician rocking the guitar while a random old guy was sandwiched between Hogan and Savage. Hogan claimed they were hanging out on the dark side as they were surrounded by people who really didn’t look like they wanted to be there!

Savage vowed to go back to Nitro and see who was friend or foe and who was in the light. This was all kinds of random.

 

The Taskmaster w/Jimmy Hart vs The Renegade

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Previously, The Renegade had Jimmy Hart as his manager. Here, the Renegade now had to go up against one of Jimmy’s new allies in the Taskmaster. This was a waste of match if we’re really being honest.

The Renegade ran down and clobbered into Taskmaster, which is the the best way I could explain it. Renegade ran wild with clotheslines and Kevin Sullivan tumbled to the mat. Jimmy distracted his former comrade which gave Taskmaster the heat. As soon as Taskmaster got the heat, Jimmy was yelling “YOU COULD HAVE BEEN THE NEXT HULK HOGAN” and hurling abuse after initially begging him of earlier on in the match.

Taskmaster slapped away at Renegade. Taskmaster went for a flip senton from the apron but Renegade got the knees up. Renegade hit a cartwheel elbow to the corner but somehow got himself caught up on the top rope. Taskmaster hit the running knee and then did the ugliest looking Coup De Grace I’ve ever seen for the pinfall.

In what turned out to be a very sad segment in hindsight, Jimmy then splashed water at Renegade and wiped away Renegade’s make-up. Jimmy yelled that Renegade was “plain old Rick” and left him beaten and broken in the ring.

If anyone is wondering whether or not this was the end of the Renegade character, it isn’t. I believe he comes back as just another guy and he loses the Ultimate Warrior gimmick because of this angle with Jimmy Hart. The tale does have a sad ending as following the release from his contract in 1998, Richard Wilson a.k.a. The Renegade takes his own life following depression about his release. In hindsight, this was an awkward angle to sit through knowing that it all goes downhill for the guy in the next few years.

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Mean Gene is shown backstage with the heels. This was also a great segment. It starts with The Shark and Scott Norton arguing again. Eventually Scott yells “WHY DON’T WE TAKE THIS OUTSIDE FISH?” and they start to fight! I laughed because upon first watching this, I have no idea what Scott Norton called him! It took me three attempts to figure out what he called him because there was a part of me that though he called him a bitch! I had to do some investigating and it did appear he called him a fish!

Then the lights went out! Technical difficulties which none of the wrestlers saw coming. THAT DID NOT STOP RIC FLAIR! He was undeterred as Ric Flair said like the lord above, he brought the lights back on and it’s up to him when the lights turn on and off! He’s in control of all of these lights! Fantastic recovery. He was just in Ric Flair crazy mode as he styled and profiled. Mean Gene actually asked the important question “who turned these lights of intentionally?” Brilliant.

Actually, now is as good of a time as ever to talk about this. This is the first review of WCW Nitro since the death of “Mean” Gene Okerlund. He died at 76 years old and within those 76 years, he gave so much to the wrestling business. As an interviewer, he was so charismatic and witty as he elevated stories and he elevated those he was speaking to by bringing out the best in them. He brought out the best in Hulk Hogan, he brought out the best in Ric Flair and he brought out the best in Randy Savage. These are not just random names either. These were the biggest names in wrestling history.

Well lemme tell ya something Mean Gene. Thank you for all that you gave to wrestling and my thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family. We do have a lot more Mean Gene moments to appreciate in this series and let’s celebrate as he does stay with WCW until they go out of business. Here’s to you Mean Gene…

 

In what sounds like quite the show, they plugged WCW Saturday Night which featured Arn Anderson vs Kurasawa, Disco Inferno debuting his new music video and Hacksaw Jim Duggan going to Ireland! Not making this up!

 

Chris Benoit vs Eddie Guerrero

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This was every bit as good as nearly every Chris Benoit vs Eddie Guerrero match throughout time. This was also the rematch from their match on Nitro where Benoit made his in-ring debut. Benoit actually had a sweet mullet so he and his sweet mullet jumped Eddie before the bell. Eric Bischoff told us not to look away as this action was going to be hot and advised that this match was back “due to popular demand” and I want everyone to remember that….

My notes said that Benoit hit a hard spinebuster but I have no memory of this (I wrote this a week after I watched the episode so please cut me some slack)! So then the production crew, in the middle of this match that was back due to popular demand, cut to the Japanese Contingent with Jushin Thunder Liger. The fans want this match again so we’re gonna cut to somebody else during the match! Way to go….

Eddie ran wild and hit a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Eddie hit a dive and even hit a huge brainbuster as Bischoff was talking about Hulk Hogan. Benoit hit a big superplex and then hit another huge powerbomb on Eddie Guerrero. This was not as memorable as the infamous powerbomb from their first match but by god, it sounded super realistic and and looked realistic too.

Eddie did the victory roll that he beat Craig Pittman with last week but Benoit kicked out. Eddie went for a school boy roll up for a near fall. Benoit hit a German suplex for a near fall and hit a Northern Lights suplex for a near fall. A fair amount of drama at this point.

Benoit and Eddie then channelled their inner Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn by doing the KO/Zayn brawl spot on the apron. The fans were so into this and it really was great stuff. Benoit went for a back suplex into the ring but Eddie reversed it over the top rope into a crossbody. As Benoit’s feet was on the rope, Eddie scored a pin with the referee oblivious to Benoit’s feet being on the bottom rope.

Great stuff as well between these two and this was rather good storytelling too. Benoit won the first match and although Eddie won the second match, the referee missed the feet on the rope so it gives us a legitimate reason to wanna see a third match. Eddie did not beat Benoit outright and Benoit can come out and yell about that. This was awesome.

I will say, there was an annoying bit of commentary at the very end. Bobby is rightfully yelling about how this was a bad call by the referee and the babyfaces Eric Bischoff and Steve “Mongo” McMichael proceed to ignore it and claim we don’t have time for an instant replay! In their defense, they didn’t even have the technology to provide the footage from Halloween Havoc last week until the very end of the show. So maybe they don’t have the technology for instant replays.

 

Sting vs Ric Flair

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So the fans correctly chose Sting vs Ric Flair for the main event of the show. Funnily enough, Ric Flair was dressed with purple trunks (close to blue) and was representing the red locker room in this main event!

Sting started firing away at Flair to a huge reaction as Sting Gorilla Pressed Flair over his head. He went to work in the corner with the ten punches spot. Flair finally got a bit of offense in with a suplex on the floor. Sting went for a Stinger Splash on the outside but Flair evaded it as Sting went crashing into the barricade.

We come back and Flair apparently low-blowed Sting during the adverts. Flair locked on the Figure Four Leg Lock and I loved this spot. Flair has Sting doomed with this Figure Four Leg Lock and as Sting is writhing in pain, Flair is grabbing the ropes for leverage. So suddenly, Sting gets fired up and beats his chest as the fans started to lose their minds. Sting, with his sheer leg power, dragged Flair to the middle of the ring meaning that Flair could not grab the ropes any more. Flair was dejected as Sting finally turned over the Figure Four but Flair quickly got himself out of it. This was brilliant stuff.

Flair chopped Sting but Sting no-sold the crap out of it and ran wild, to the fans delight. Sting hit a huge hip toss and a dropkick before Flair cut him off with an eye poke. They were on the outside and Flair grabbed a chair and then he started running at Sting with a chair over his head like how Arthur from the Ghost N Goblins game series charge at people! The referee, however, stopped Flair from using the chair.

Flair and the referee shoved each other as Eric alerted us that we’d get a special announcement at the end of the show. Flair kept pinning Sting with his feet on the ropes but referee Randy Anderson was unable to see any of this. Sting launched Flair from the top rope, crashing down onto the mat. Sting punched away at Flair but the referee got in the way. Sting’s response to this was to lift the referee like a toddler and then place him into the opposite corner! This was awesome!

As this was going on, Flair whipped out the brass knucks and hit Sting while the referee was not in position. Flair even hit an elbow drop for good measure but Sting kicked out. Yeah, Flair used the brass knucks and hit a move but Sting was still able to kick out! I also remember people, including Sean Waltman, complaining on Twitter in 2017 when Roman Reigns kicked out of the brass knucks when Kevin Owens used it during Royal Rumble 2017! Here, Flair hit the brass knucks and hit a move and Sting was still able to kick out!

Sting fired back and Gorilla Pressed Flair for like the third time in this match. Every time Sting did this, the fans went nuts. They gave the fans just the right amount of the things they wanted to see as opposed to the things they didn’t want to see. Sting hit a superplex and went for the Scorpion Deathlock. Flair gave up and Sting won.

However, Sting would not accept just beating the Nature Boy. Sting refused to let go of the hold as the referees start pleading with Sting to let go. This Stinger, however, had been pushed to the brink. Flair screwed him over at Halloween Havoc and this was payback. He HATED Flair at this point so there was no letting go of this submission.

Sting was yelling his head off as guys like Mr JL, Eddie and Dave Sullivan all tried to plead with him. Eventually, Hacksaw Jim Duggan and Johnny B Badd pried Sting away from Flair. Sting eventually went back for more of Flair as this time. Lex Luger went down to the ring. Now Lex Luger was a heel at this point but he was still Sting’s friend. He got in Sting’s face and said something to Sting which caused Sting to finally snap out of it as Sting and Luger left together.

This was all brilliant. This was put together so well and the actions of everyone involved made sense. Say what ever you want about WCW but at this point, this has been a brilliantly put together show since I started watching this. The characters for everybody, for the majority of the time, made absolute sense in WCW. It makes sense why Lex, despite being a heel, was coming down to plead with Sting. It makes sense why Sting hated Ric but also why he listened to Luger. WWE can make all the excuses that WCW stole all of their talent but this was clearly just a better show in general as opposed to what the WWF were featuring at the time. This angle didn’t really feature many old WWF talents. Sting, Luger and Flair all made their names in WCW and the story they told with this match was excellent.

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As Bischoff mentioned during Sting vs Ric Flair, we had a big announcement for the end of the show. The Giant, Taskmaster and Jimmy Hart were in the ring with Mean Gene. This show was also clever in the sense that The Giant was in there with what appears to be the three smallest people they could find to establish how big The Giant really is! It’s a subtle thing but it was clever!

Jimmy finally gave us an explanation as to the fate of the WCW World title. Jimmy explained that when Hogan was making his movies that wound up in the video stores, Jimmy was taking care of business. When Hogan was going around the world doing charity work with Macho Man, Jimmy was taking care of business. When Hogan wanted to step into the ring with The Giant, Jimmy did the contract for the match as he had the legal right to do so. Jimmy explained that he put in a stipulation that explained that if Hogan got disqualified during the Halloween Havoc 1995 match, he would lose the title. Jimmy attacking the referee, because he was Hogan’s manager, caused Hogan to be disqualified. Therefore, The Giant is the new WCW World Heavyweight Champion.

As the evil dudes cackled, a WCW attorney entered the ring. This attorney revealed that he had been talking to the WCW Championship Committee. The attorney confirmed that Jimmy was right when he said he had the legal right to make and sign the contract for Halloween Havoc. However, he whipped out an official written statement from WCW Commissioner Nick Bockwinkel. Everybody in the ring tried to lean over the attorney’s shoulder including Mean Gene who even whipped out his glasses!

The statement read that The Giant is actually NOT the champion right now. Nick had decreed that due to the dubious nature of the disqualification at Halloween Havoc, it had been ruled that the title has been vacated and will be awarded to the winner of the World War 3 battle royal.

The Giant yelled NOOOOO! and refused to  give up the belt, but Mean Gene confirmed that Giant needed to give it up. Taskmaster said that WCW could have the belt back as The Giant would just win the battle royal at World War 3. Taskmaster said that nobody was gonna throw Giant over the top rope. This began more than two decades of Big Show telling everyone that nobody could throw him over the top rope in battle royal type matches and then him GETTING ELIMINATED in these matches! It all stemmed from this point!

Jimmy was going nuts and throwing paper as the heels weren’t happy.

Hell of a segment that finally gave clarity as to the fate of the WCW title and the overall direction for the show heading into World War 3.

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This was a heck of a show when all said and done. We got another Benoit vs Guerrero match which is always quality. We got another Sting vs Ric Flair match which is always quality. The Giant was able to look like a monster with a quick victory. We had some great angles as we now have a clear direction for the collective storylines heading towards World War 3. This show gets a thumbs up from me!

Next week, we have Randy Savage vs Meng, Johnny B Badd vs Eddie Guerrero for the WCW TV title and Sting vs Dean Malenko. Very much looking forward to those matches and I like how Eddie is rewarded for winning two matches in a row against Pittman and Benoit by getting a title shot. The winners on the show are being rewarded. This is all lovely…

We will see you with Episode #11 of Nitro.

RETRO EXPRESS: WCW HALLOWEEN HAVOC 1995 (OCTOBER 29TH 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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At long last, we’ve managed to make it to Detroit, Michigan at the Joe Louis Arena. We’re here for a clash among men and among machines. A clash of titans for the right to be crowned king of the monster…. trucks. A clash for the right to be crowned the WCW World Heavyweight Champion. A clash for the right of revenge… revenge for a father’s greatest defeat at WrestleMania III or revenge for shaving a moustache on an episode of Nitro. These two men go head-to-head not once but TWICE on the same night. All will be terrorised when “The Giant” emerges in this ghoulishly grande event as there’s nowhere to hide for “The Immortal” Hulk Hogan. Will Hogan prove to be a mere mortal after all once this possibly deadly match comes to a close? THE GIANT VS HULK HOGAN FOR THE WCW WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP.

Without further ado, let’s get on with WCW Halloween Havoc… with much filler to get through before a truly unforgettable clash between The Giant and Hulk Hogan!

 

Date: October 29th 1995

Brand: WCW

City: Detroit, Michigan

Commentators: Tony Schiavone and Bobby “The Brian” Heenan

Before we get into the matches, the first clip they show is the two main-eventers in question Hulk Hogan and The Giant pacing back and forth in their monster trucks. The two snarled at each other as they revved up their engines for their monster truck match.

News also breaks that Ric Flair has been attacked by Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman ahead of his match teaming up with Sting against his former Horsemen buddies. It’s important to note right now that we don’t actually see video footage of what went down. They don’t show an angle or anything. Keep that in mind.

 

 

Diamond Dallas Page (c) w/Max Muscle and Diamond Doll vs Johnny B Badd for the WCW Television Championship

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The PPV started off strong, similar to what went down at Fall Brawl. We got a good match that the fans were into which got a good length of time. It wasn’t like a mind-blowing match or anything and it wasn’t on the level of Pillman vs Badd from Fall Brawl but it was good enough to warm up the crowd which is a good enough opener to have in their back pocket.

They recapped the entire feud between DDP vs Badd including the car tyre slashing from WCW Saturday Night and Episode #7 of Nitro where DDP laid out Badd before a scheduled title defence. Badd’s ribs were still hurt going into this one. Diamond Doll got a well-deserved pop when she came out. She looked… tremendous in her black dress.

This was the first time where I noticed this but DDP came out first in both title matches so far between these two. With that being said, Hogan would end up coming out first for the WCW title match in the main-event so I guess it’s not that rare to break tradition in WCW if this show is anything to go by.

It turns out there was method to this madness as an imposter Johnny B Badd popped up on the stage as the real Johnny B Badd flew in from behind to get the match started. ‘Twas revenge for Episode #7, where DDP flew in from behind with a title belt before their title match. Good continuity being used.

Badd ran wild on DDP and Max Muscle. Badd placed a bucket on DDP’s head and smashed him into a ring post which was strangely not a DQ. In the middle of all of this, Hogan and Giant were told to get out of their trucks as I believe they needed to get the monster trucks on top of the building they were dueling in.

Badd had a wrist lock locked on DDP to which the champion reached out to referee Nick Patrick’s shirt. Patrick simply warned DDP not to touch his shirt. DDP got the heat by dropping Badd on the top rope with a Snake Eyes. DDP apparently commanded Diamond Doll to hoist up the 10 card for that move but Diamond Doll didn’t do it. I’m pretty sure DDP yelled “come on woman” at Badd.

Bobby Heenan on commentary prophesied that DDP would become US champion some day. I’m pretty sure everybody in WCW during the final years became US champion at some time or another so DDP likely got a US title run to his name. We’ll have to wait and see if that happens.

DDP hit an early adaptation of the Styles Clash to which Tony GOD DAMN Schiavone called it The Pancake. There’s going to be an incident at Starrcade 1995 where Tony gets his comeuppance for this pet peeve of mine. The pet peeve of just giving every random move a random name as opposed to just calling the move. Call it a facebuster. If it’s a big move or a signature for the wrestler, give it a cool name. That’s fine. If it’s just a random move, just CALL THE MOVE. Thankfully, Dusty Rhodes will tear into Tony for this at Starrcade so prepare yourselves!

Tony did call Diamond Doll gorgeous… correct. Nick Patrick did send DDP cowering to the bottom rope as he yelled at him for something. I will say something, now that this is the second time Nick Patrick has stood up to a wrestler during a match. He did it to Orndorff in Episode #3. I initially was somewhat annoyed by it when I saw him do it the first time. Here, it kind of hit me that this is what we need more of in wrestling. I don’t want wrestlers to be shown as inferior to the referees or anything but referees holding a certain amount of authority and respect in a match. They’re not pushovers as they’re authority is final when it comes to the wrestling ring. I’d like to see that more in wrestling.

Badd struggled but eventually got DDP over for a backslide just for a 2 count. DDP responded with a huge clothesline. DDP tried a big boot which somehow landed on the top of Badd’s head. That’s possibly DDP’s fault for pulling the trigger too early on that spot but chances are it was just a bit of miscommunication. Heenan astutely noted that if you have money, you don’t have to make excuses. If you consider WWE’s business dealings and UFC’s business dealings in 2018, that was a pretty damn accurate statement.

Max distracted Nick as DDP choked Badd with some tape. Diamond Doll had the greatest facial expressions in the world with furious disappointment at first but then concern for her man for a brief second.. and then back to whipping out a scolding face! It was the best!

They did a spot where Badd “tripped” DDP with a roll but they weren’t even close to each other. Badd then ran wild in a frenzy where DDP somehow had his face cut up. Diamond Doll then gave JOHNNY B BADD the perfect 10 which the announcers played up big. Badd hit a sit-out powerbomb for a near fall. DDP hit a DDT which our main man Tony Schiavone referred to as the DIAMOND DREAM.

DDP went for a Diamond Cutter but Badd held onto the ropes. Badd attempted a fake-out 619 which did not look pretty in the slightest. Bad hit a flip to the outside onto DDP and DDP’s Muscle… pardon the pun. Muscle held Badd in position but DDP was somehow dropkicked into Muscle and rolled up for a big near fall.

Muscle then tried to get involved but Muscle ended up accidentally clotheslining DDP, which was shockingly also not a DQ. Muscle then throws his hands up as Badd clips in on the back of the head and his selling consisted of him doing a twirl and then slouching down on the apron like me coming in after a long day at work! Muscle clearly not in position for that spot as Badd got the pin off Muscle’s clothesline to win the WCW TV title much to Diamond Doll’s glee!

Sloppy in parts but a fun opener with a TV title change for the second PPV in a row. The fans went crazy as Badd won the title so it was a huge success. Muscle CLEARLY clotheslining DDP and it not being a DQ really bothered me, considering that it was the move that was the finish of the match. With that being said, I’m sure Muscle costing DDP the match will also be important down the road when considering his relationship with DDP. I guess we’ll see where it goes.

Match Rating: **1/2

 

If you’re a fan of very short pointless PPV matches, then feast your eyes on the following three matches…

 

Randy Savage vs Zodiac. If Randy Savage won, he would move onto a match with Lex Luger should Luger defeat Meng.

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It didn’t occur to me until just now. The build for Lex Luger vs Randy Savage at Halloween Havoc is that they must win their matches with Dungeon of Doom members before they can face each other for a future WCW World title shot. At least, that is my understanding of the storyline. Luger and Savage must win their matches to face each other. They never explained what happened if only one them won. If they both lost, they simply would not do the match but if only one them won, did that mean they got the WCW title shot automatically? I guess we never had to deal with that since both of them won… how convenient.

Now, followers of the Nitro review series may recall that it was supposed to be Randy Savage vs Kamala at Halloween Havoc. There is an explanation for this. As Dave Meltzer put it in his Wrestling Observer Newsletter at the time, “Zodiac subbed for Kamala, who decided to quit the promotion early rather than do a job here.” All due respect to Kamala but you didn’t want to job to “Macho Man” Randy Savage? My research showed that he did lose to Hacksaw Jim Duggan a couple of months before this but for some reason, he didn’t want to lose to THE MACHO MAN? That’s crazy.

So The Zodiac, the least threatening and intimidating heel in professional wrestling history, was Kamala’s replacement and the WWE Network’s editing saw Zodiac come out to Rey Mysterio’s WCW theme. It was strange.

There was nothing to this match but there is an explanation for this too. Savage was working with a detached bicep at this time. Hard to imagine that Savage worked TWICE on this PPV but at least they were both short matches and this was REALLY short… 90 seconds to be exact.

The only thing worth mentioning is that a fan ran in during the match. There was a massive reaction when they were being led out to which Heenan shouted “listen to this reaction for the Macho Man!”

Macho Man won with the elbow drop.

Match Rating: 1/10* (Honestly was not sure whether to even give it a grade… it lasted 90 seconds!)

 

Mean Gene plugged the WCW hotline when Johnny B Badd came out for an interview following his big win. Badd said if you breathe, you can achieve and that dreams can become reality. Badd said he’s never gonna quit, he’s never gonna give up as he’s a baaaaaaad man. Badd spoke at a 1000 beats per second during this promo. This was actually the kind of promo that was good for the majority of it but great for the 5 seconds where Badd spoke at the speed of light. Regardless, this was a good promo as you could sense that this title victory meant a lot to Badd.

 

Road Warrior Hawk vs Kurasawa w/Col. Robert Parker

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I had such low expectations for this match. Considering the disasterpiece that these two put on during the tag team match at Clash of the Champions, I could only imagine how bad this could get when it’s these two one on one. By WCW 1995 standards, this was fine. That’s the best praise I can give it.

They actually recapped the segment from Clash of the Champions when Kurasawa broke Hawk’s arm. An important note is that the Clash of the Champions match took place two months before this and here is Hawk all healed up from his broken arm!

Hawk smashed away at Kurasawa and hit a shoulder tackle. Hawk hit a neckbreaker and a fist drop early on into the match. Hawk stomped away at Kurasawa and roared.

Kurasawa went for the arm after Hawk ran shoulder first into the turnbuckle but Hawk was having none of that. Hawk hit a big powerbomb. Col. Robert Parker tripped Hawk to get Kurasawa back into the match. Kurasawa missed a top rope senton.

Hawk hit a beautiful flying clothesline to Parker which was a smart babyface thing to do as it took the distraction out of the equation. Kurasawa got the heat as Hawk went into the ring post. Kurasawa, out of nowhere, hit a samoan drop and Parker grabbed Kurasawa’s feet on the rope to steal the pin from Hawk.

Like I stated earlier, this was nowhere near as bad as I figured it would be and it wasn’t actually particularly bad at all. It was just… your average match.

Match Rating: *

 

Mean Gene had Savage for an interview. Savage reminded us that it was one down and one to go from him. Savage talked about Hogan’s promo on Nitro about his friends. Savage predicted that he would beat him if he was in the ring. Savage and Mean Gene ripped into each other’s facial hair. After a while of things getting heated, Mean Gene just asked “How did we get to this?” Great bit of banter!

Savage said his curiosity is killing him like it would kill a cat. Savage said friendships are friendships but business is business and he would be watching. A fine typical Savage promo.

 

Mr JL vs Sabu w/The Sheik

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A rematch from their Nitro match where Sabu beat Mr JL and then beat him up after the match for no reason. The original Sheik was there accompanying Sabu to the ring. Keep in mind that The Sheik was 70 here and he actually had a heart attack in the Spring of 1995. Keep that in mind as I explained how Sheik got involved in the match.

Sabu ran right at Mr JL and they start to fight. Mr JL tried a baseball slide but Sabu was too far away. Sabu did a springboard moonsault and hit Mr JL AND THE SHEIK. The 70 year old Sheik took a bump about 6 months or so after having a heat attack. Seems kinda dangerous.

Sabu flew at Mr JL but JL ducked and Sabu went crashing to the floor. Mr JL did a big dive to the outside. Mr JL caught Sabu with a moonsault in the ring. Mr JL hit a sit-out powerbomb. Sabu hit a springboard flip leg drop. Mr JL hit a big german suplex from the top rope.

I’m just running down the list of what they did at this point. There’s not a lot you can say other than this is your normal Sabu match. He goes at his own pace, which is usually fast, and he just goes for flashy move after flashy move with no substance to any of it. Watching Sabu matches in 2018 really doesn’t work out well. His matches have not aged well.

Mr JL hit a springboard dropkick which sent Sabu crashing to the outside. Sabu hit a springboard moonsault for the pin. The Shiek THREW A FIREBALL at Mr JL and celebrated with Sabu by carrying a sword. A very typical Sabu match. If you’re a fan of Sabu matches, this match was right down your alley. This is the best way I can describe it.

Match Rating: *3/4

 

We had a Taskmaster promo with his father “The Master” but before that, Heenan claimed The Giant watched videos of Hogan alongside HIS father Andre The Giant! That’s a vignette I would have loved to have seen.

The Master said that the stars were aligned for tonight. The Master said that Taskmaster will walk upon the galaxy because The Giant and The Yeti will destroy Hulkamania. Taskmaster said that when Hogan put on the black, the evil in Hogan was now out of control. The Dungeon of Doom’s monster truck was the strongest in the universe as Taskmaster claimed Luger, Savage and Sting were vultures. The fans booed. The Master’s speech was very hard to understand.

 

Mean Gene was with Hulk Hogan, with Mean Gene also pointing out that they may have needed an interpreter to translate what The Master just said. This was early Hollywood Hogan gear for the Hulkster. Now I think it was Episode #1 where a Mike Hill won the Harley Davidson sweepstake so this was Mike finally getting it. Hogan called Mike “Maniac Mike” as he presented the keys. They presented him with sweatshirts, t-shirts, hats and stuff. They talked about the motorcycle itself that he won and Mean Gene said something like he could use an exhaust himself! Mean Gene, the ultimate promoter of Harley Davidson gear!

Hogan touched the motorcycle and said that this motorcycle was the last thing he was gonna touch lightly. Hogan said he was gonna squash The Giant like The Giant squashed Hogan’s motorcycle from before. Mike Hill then cut a promo about the motorcycle he just won, saying that he was gonna ride this sucker right home. Then Hogan, like the world’s biggest dick, starts tensing his muscles, his 24 inch pythons, right in front of Mean Gene and the rest of the group after he was finished with his promo. He had to take up 75% of the screen by showing off his muscles!

They plugged WCW World War 3, citing that the winner of World War 3 would get a WCW World title shot.

 

Lex Luger vs Meng w/The Taskmaster, If Lex Luger won, he would move onto a match with Randy Savage for an opportunity at the WCW World title.

 

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Now we’ve just had three very short matches in a row. Savage vs Zodiac lasted 90 seconds, Hawk vs Kurasawa lasted 3 minutes and 15 seconds and Mr JL vs Sabu lasted 3 minutes and 25 seconds. So their idea of a long match to follow all of this is MENG VS LEX LUGER? This next match lasted 13 minutes and 14 seconds and it was a horrific match for 13 minutes and 14 seconds.

I’m sure there’s a pay-off to this but Taskmaster accompanied Meng down to the ring but he did not accompany The Zodiac don’t to the ring. Heenan talked about how the Dungeon of Doom has never attacked Luger, not mentioning that The Giant chokeslammed Luger a few weeks beforehand.

Luger launched Meng with a catapult. I will say that Heenan went out of his way to promote all of WCW shows, advising us that anything can happen at all their shows like Nitro, Pro, Main Event and Saturday Night. No show was never not important as you may miss something. That’s great. With that being said, I don’t plan to watch anything other than Nitro and the PPVs right now. I may watch Thunder but no promises.

Luger threw Meng into the ringpost and worked the arm. Meng bit away at Luger and Luger tried a back suplex but Meng reversed it into a splash in mid-air.

Meng hit a shouler breaker, hit a piledriver and then went to the chin lock. Nothing was happening in this match. I wrote down a few moves on my notes but nothing was going on between these two. We had long chin locks. We had Meng wanting to do a dive but Taskmaster told him not to. Meng kicked away at Luger. Luger fired back with a suplex into the ring and then followed up with three huge clotheslines.

Luger ran wild… at least by Luger’s standards. Meng hit Luger with a golden spike. Following this, Taskmaster ran in and kicked Luger for the DQ. His boy Meng was in control and after 13 horrible minutes, Taskmaster ran in for the DQ. By the end of the show, this makes a lot more sense. However, if Taskmaster’s plan was for Luger to win the match, why didn’t he slap him or hit him 10 seconds in if he wanted Luger to move on to face Savage? In fact, if Luger and Taskmaster were in cahoots at this point, why didn’t Taskmaster tell Meng to lay down for Luger?

Furthermore, the match ended in a DQ as an outsider ran in and attacked one of the other competitors. If that’s the case, why wasn’t Johnny B Badd DQ’d in the TV title match when Max Muscle hit DDP earlier on in the night? This was a bad, long and boring match followed by a dirt, horrible finish. This match did not ever need to be 13 minutes long and I never need to see this match again. Sadly, I looked it up and they will face each other again in a 1997 episode of Nitro… I may have to boycott that Nitro! I can’t handle seeing this match again after this horrible match.

Match Rating: -*

 

Mean Gene interview The Giant, who was dressed in driving gear. This was WCW branded gear too so they went through the effort to make driving gear exclusively for The Giant! I respect that.

The Giant grabbed Mean Gene’s hand as the announcer screeched in pain! The Giant said Hogan would be forced to hand him the title. The Giant cackled as Mean Gene complained about his hand. The Giant declared that if Hogan lives through the monster truck challenge, Hogan was in for the beating of his life.

 

Ric Flair and Sting vs Arn Anderson and Brian Pillman

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Before we get cracking, we’ve got another injury. Ric Flair suffered a rotator cuff earlier on in the week, which is why this match went down the way it did. I mean the finish of the match was probably planned for a while but Flair never really lifted a finger until the very end. I also felt the need to report that a dude was in the front row that looked liked the actor Scott Wilson who was Herschel in Walking Dead. I swear it was the spitting image of him. R.I.P. Scott Wilson, who passed away this year.

On Nitro a few weeks ago, Ric Flair walked down to the ring without Sting and Sting didn’t come down until later. Well, the tides were turned as Sting was forced to go at it alone as Flair was “injured” by Arn and Brian. That’s all well and good but my question is why did Sting bother to come out? This was Flair’s feud to begin with so why did Sting bother when Flair was taken out?

The fans chanted “we want Flair” as Sting ran wild on Arn and Brian. This was not at the level of Flairmania from a few weeks ago but it was still great. He was firing away from the get-go. Sting was lured out the floor but Sting was not easily suckered into a beating as Sting laid out both of the heels anyway. Sting press-slammed Brian.

Brian was gasping for breath in the corner as Arn looked frustrated that his partner was hurt and he had to do the work because Sting kicked Pillman’s ass.

Sting catapulted Arn into Pillman, who got crotched on the top rope. Tony said “Not many people can take on Arn and Brian at the same time” and was apparently not watching the last match where Flair destroyed the pair by himself. I like how when the moment Arn finally got a punch in on Sting in this match, Flair ran down to the ring!

Ric tried to get at Arn but the referee pushed him away. Flair ripped of his shirt but he still had his work slacks on! Flair had a big bandage on his head. There was a sign that said “FLAIR FOR PRESIDENT” which was actually foreshadowing of a future WCW storyline… we’ll see that develop in 1998 I believe!

Flair came in and hit Arn with one of his shoes but this was not a DQ. Arn tried to launch Brian into Sting but Sting got the knees up. Flair was fired up as he waited for the hot tag. Sting waddled over to Flair for the tag and he almost had it, but Arn attacked him and stopped the tag.

Flair chased Brian like a mad man outside of the ring. I love how the psychology of the match was very close to many WWE tag team matches nowadays in 2018 as they battled for the hot tag. At least tag teams nowadays, especially in NXT, are following the psychology of old school wrestling in establishing that it is important to fight to get or defend against a hot tag. It wasn’t just a routine part of the match. It was an important part of the match.

They beat on Sting as Flair could only watch as his new ally was getting beat on. Flair even tried to grab the hair of Pillman. That’s how much Flair wanted to get into the match. Flair couldn’t take it no more as he hit a cheap-shot at Pillman while they attacked Sting! Arn hit a spinebuster but Flair broke it up. Brian worked on the leg. Arn worked on a leg submission as Sting yelled “NATURE BOY” and Flair said “I’M HERE BROTHER” and I just loved it. Flair cheering Sting on this is just a perfect set-up for what’s about to happen…

The heels had the heat forever since Flair came down to the ring. Sting went for a tag once again but Pillman cut him off with an elbow drop. At this point, the fans were just begging for Flair to get the hot tag, as was I, but the heels stopped Sting at every turn. Sting finally clanked Arn and Brian’s heads together. I was laid down on the bed watching this PPV but as soon as Sting had a clear chance of making the tag, I sat up as RIC FLAIR GOT THE TAG.

FLAIR RAN IN. He was stylin’ and profiln’ as the fans were going crazy and in the melee… FLAIR DROPPED STING WITH A SUCKER PUNCH.

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My jaw dropped.

Flair, Arn and Pillman did a beatdown on Sting, who tried to fight them all off. Remember that Sting vowed to leave Flair for dead if Flair double-crossed him but all three men overwhelmed the one dude that had been beaten on for the entire match. The match gets thrown out. I had NO IDEA this was coming. This was an insane heel turn and as someone watching it for the first time, I could not believe my eyes after how great Flair had been in recent weeks as a babyface. However, now the old heel Ric Flair is back!

Ric eventually got on the mic and said something like he’s gonna take us all to school. Ric said the first thing you learn is that you don’t jump on Arn Anderson. The second thing you learn is that you don’t play around with Flyin’ Brian. The third thing is that you never mess around with the Nature Boy and fourth thing is that you don’t walk, talk or breathe until the Horsemen want you to. Flair said they were reunited and it feels so good.

This was sensationally great.

Match Rating: *** with a ***** heel turn and post match angle.

 

Mike Tenay interviewed Lex Luger ahead of his match with Savage after he “beat” Meng. Luger said there’s forces in WCW that wanna see Savage vs Luger tonight. He said when the bell rings, he will be there and he will be all over him. He says he is the Total Package and he would be the greatest WCW wrestler in WCW history. He said that he would be the WCW World Champion and he would make an example out of Savage. He would take apart the Macho Man piece by piece.

 

Hulk Hogan vs The Giant in a Monster Truck Sumo Challenge

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At long last, we have arrived at MACHINE VS MACHINE. We’ve built up 5 weeks of WCW programming for this showdown as these two monsters will face off in monster trucks in the mother of all sumo matches. It’s funny because as goofy as it is out of context, it is perfect for the blood feud that is The Giant vs Hulk Hogan. The Giant tried to kill Hogan twice and now these two will be trying to “drive” each other off of a platform which is pretty damn dangerous!

They recapped the feud between Hogan and The Giant and what a feud this was! Eric Bischoff came down to replace Tony for this one and joining them was Bob Chandler, who I believe was a monster truck expert. Bob claimed the motorcylces run on alcohol and 1500 horsepower. They claimed these monster trucks weighed 11,000lbs each! I’m not entirely sure I believe that considering the light body work that makes the body of the monster truck weigh a lot less! Then again, I could be underestimating the weight of the engines!

The referee told them the rules. He said the truck has to be completely out of the ring including the bumper. The Giant yelled “I’M GONNA WIN” as he and Hogan yelled at each other. They hooked the trucks together. The sumo match began as they pushed away at each other using their vehicles. The Giant pushed Hogan back but Hogan pushed back as the Hulkster was strapped to his seat!

The Giant growled at Hogan as they pushed each other. Hogan pushed away even more The Giant roared. It was very much even stevens at this point. Heenan said we always expect Hogan to be slow and he’s doing a heck of a job! The Giant pushed Hogan outside of the “ring” but he only pushed out the back wheels so the match was still going on. The Giant pushed him out again and hit one of the charges but apparently, Hogan’s truck was not fully out of the ring. Finally, Hogan pushed Giant’s truck outside of the ring as the Hulkster was the winner much to the fans’ delight.

(If any hardcore sumo monster truck fanatics out there were expecting better play-by-play reviews about this particular battle, I do apologise if I let you down. Monster truck battles are not my strong suit!)

So The Giant immediately got out of the monster truck. The Giant cornered Hogan and elevated Hogan to the top of the roof with a choke. Hogan pushed The Giant away but The Giant ended up falling off the top of the building they were battling on. Hogan, the new EVIL HULK HOGAN, was suddenly concerned when The Giant fell off the ledge.

It’s important to note that they never mentioned or showed where The Giant actually landed. Heenan asked the important question of whether The Giant actually landed in the water. Eric Bischoff’s response was to say that whether he landed in the water or in the parking lot, does it matter? My response to that is… YES IT DOES! Landing in the parking lot is instant death (unless The Giant landed on a conveniently placed tower of beds or he is in fact truly immortal) where as water can actually SAVE The Giant’s life if he can swim! Bischoff left the booth.

 

Lex Luger vs Randy Savage for a future shot at the WCW World Heavyweight Championship

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I’m not going to lie, for a match that had been built up since Lex Luger arrived in WCW, this was a major disappointment. Obviously, there were circumstances that prevented this from being a big match but 5 minutes is somewhat a shame considering all the build towards it.

Tony was back as Heenan yelled that this was all Hogan’s fault for what happened to The Giant… AND HE’S RIGHT.

Luger offered a handshake but Savage was having none of it. Jimmy Hart then waltzed down to the ring as he was dressed in black. Luger stomped away at Savage. Savage swung at the referee for Christ knows what reason. If Savage turned out to be apart of the Dungeon of Doom, they’ve built it up quite well with his role in all of this. With what happened in the main event, it appears that wasn’t the case. Savage is such a heel in all of this.

Tony keeps quietly speculating “what’s going on” and “will we have a title match” to which Heenan eventually snaps and yells “DAMN IT. FIND OUT WHAT’S GOING ON!” He was sick of Tony’s quiet speculation here. HE NEEDS ANSWERS ABOUT THE GIANT.

Savage and Luger brawled on the outside. Luger tried a pin with his feet on the rope but Jimmy Hart was distracting the referee. Luger was bumped into Hart. Savage hit the elbow drop and got the pin for a huge pop.

This was another nothing match. Furthermore, this match made even less sense when you take into account the finish of the show. Anyway, it appears Randy Savage is the number one contender for the WCW world title from the sounds of it.

Match Rating: 1/4*

 

They cut to the announcers and Heenan yelled at Tony for not following up on The Giant story (no pun intended) so he left the announce booth. Heenan returned 30 seconds later as he couldn’t get outside as there were hundreds of people outside!

They showed Giant falling off of the roof. I know Paul Wright didn’t actually die in real life because of this but I love how somebody DIED on screen and WCW had no problem with showing it again! Heenan even said: “Hogan, pretending he has a heart now!”

So Heenan begged the production crew to tell him what was going on and even asked someone for a walkie talkie. Heenan was unbelievably awesome during this. He was legitimately concerned for The Giant considering his connection with Andre back in the WWF. This was great.

 

Hulk Hogan (c) vs The Giant for the WCW World title

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Michael Buffer did the ring introductions for The Giant but then Hogan came down first this time. The fans were going crazy for Hogan 20 minutes after he killed a man! Hogan said what happened to The Giant was not supposed to happen and actually confirmed that The Giant did land in the the parking lot when all of a sudden… THE GIANT INTERRUPTED.

The Giant really proved himself to be immortal, after weeks of proclaiming himself as the one true immortal! He returned to the arena without a scratch on him. Hogan look stunned as Bobby even said that he rose from the dead! Hogan’s face was incredible here as he looked like he genuinely could not believe The Giant survived. I think he survived the fall but Bobby said that The Giant rose from the dead. I actually believe The Giant just survived since Bobby had no idea what was actually going on himself anyway.

The match starts. This is for the WCW World Heavyweight title. For a man in his first WCW match, The Giant did not look too bad in this one. I can confirm that he looked better in his first match than Braun Strowman did in his first match if you want modern day comparisons!

Hogan punched away at The Giant, with The Giant sporting Taskmaster like facepaint on his forehead. So maybe the Taskmaster had something to do with reviving The Giant. I’m hoping Nitro gives me the answer as to whether he actually died and was resurrected or he survived with help from the Taskmaster.

Hogan tried to slam him but Giant just clobbered at him. This was The Giant’s FIRST EVER WRESTLING MATCH (at least on WCW television) and he had such a presence about him in the ring. He looked like a main-eventer, smashing away at Hulk Hogan. Considering he was in a WCW pay-per-view main-event with Hulk Hogan, that is an insane accomplishment. Giant was overpowering Hogan with the test-of-strength and Hogan apparently cried out to Jimmy that he’s too strong. Suddenly, the Hulkster fired up. He fired up and fired up… and then the Giant just kicked him right in the chest!

The Giant went for the leg drop but he did not land in a seated position. In a hilarious spot, he waved his arms back and crashed to the mat! Suffice to say that this was a failed attempt at a leg drop, which was probably the point of it being executed like that! Hogan fired back with 10 punches in the corner and even BIT The Giant in the middle of this blood feud. Hogan even threatened the referee as the evil of the evil Hulk Hogan poured out for this match.

Hogan clotheslined The Giant over the top rope and the fans went BONKERS. Taskmaster tried to lead The Giant to the back at this point…. FROM A WCW WORLD TITLE MATCH? I mean I sort of understand if my theory about the finish is correct which I’ll talk about later.

Hogan clobbered Giant’s and Taskmaster’s heads together which appeared to not be a disqualification. Hogan smiled as he had Giant staggering. The Giant then came back with a backbreaker. We then got a long bearhug spot from The Giant which didn’t look particularly great. I swear it looked like Giant was just cuddling Hogan like he was holding a baby at one point. I didn’t really look threatening!

This bearhug lasted a long time and Heenan said we were watching a great match. Heenan, god rest your soul, but we were not watching a great match!

Giant hit a chokeslam but Hogan kicked out and Hulked Up. So after all of these weeks of The Giant smashing geeks with a chokeslam every week, he hits it in his first match and Hogan kicks out! Way to go.

Hogan fired away with right hands and hit a big boot but The Giant was still standing. In a case of deja vu, Hogan slammed The Giant just like he did to Andre. Hogan hit the leg drop but the referee was down. We, at home, couldn’t really tell what was going on. However, fans in the front row were pointing at Jimmy Hart but Jimmy is denying his involvement. Then, all of a sudden, Jimmy hit Hogan with the belt and was caught red-handed by the Hulkster! The Giant then bearhugged Hogan as Taskmaster laid in the boots. Jimmy Hart has joined forces with the Dungeon of Doom.

Luger and Savage then both ran down but Jimmy hit Savage with the belt. OUT OF THE BLUE, Lex Luger ATTACKED Randy Savage and turned on him as The Yeti ran down. The Giant and The Yeti did an infamous double bearhug but it honestly just looked like The Yeti humped Hogan. It was like Yeti was on vibrate as Giant locked in the bearhug! It was one of the funniest double teams (I swear that was unintentional) I’ve ever seen in a wrestling ring! Two men squeezed the life out of Hogan with an erotic bearhug in the main-event of Halloween Havoc!

Luger locked on the Torture Rack on Hogan and Savage. Yeti gave Savage some love as Hogan and Savage were left laying. Heenan applauded both men for getting this beating at the hands of the Dungeon of Doom. The referee threw the match out and said that THE GIANT WON via disqualification but Michael Buffer insisted the title cannot change hands on a disqualification. The replay showed that Jimmy hit the referee with the belt, which was supposedly the disqualification. Tony re-assured us that Hulk Hogan was still champion as we went off the air.

Match Rating: *1/2

We’re gonna be talking briefly about upcoming spoilers for Nitro so if you do not want to be spoiled, skip forward to the Halloween Havoc logo further down on the post.

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There’s a lot of questions that were raised because of that finish. Lex Luger and Jimmy Hart were revealed to be in cahoots with the Dungeon of Doom but this causes a lot of issues in terms of continuity with the PPV itself.

Firstly, if the Dungeon of Doom and Luger were in cahoots, why did Luger and Meng wrestle each other for 13 minutes? Let’s just pretend that Luger joined because he wanted to make sure he got his shot at the title. If that’s the case, why not have Meng lay down for him so Lex is 100% for Randy Savage? Why didn’t the Dungeon of Doom make more of an effort to help The Zodiac beat Savage to help Luger get his shot?

Why did the Lex Luger vs Randy Savage match go down the way it did? Why did Jimmy Hart screw up Luger’s match with Savage, costing him his shot at the title? Why didn’t the Dungeon of Doom help Luger out against Savage?

Then we can talk about Luger’s motivations. Why did Luger help The Giant win the title when, in the last time they were in the ring together, The Giant laid him out like he was nothing? Like there’s a part of me that thinks that this turn was decided during the show or they were possibly gonna do the angle with Savage instead but they changed it. Otherwise, this angle makes no sense when it comes to Luger.

Then issues come with the finish of the match. The referee declared it a disqualification. I was talking about Hogan clanking Giant’s and Taskmaster’s heads together and it not being a DQ. Maybe that is what the DQ was for. I know it took a while for the DQ afterwards but why else would The Taskmaster try to remove Giant from the match unless they wanted to lure Hogan outside? What Hogan did was a DQ so unless you wanna believe the official explaination of Jimmy causing the DQ, this is what I’m going with. Because Jimmy was officially Hogan’s manager when he got him DQ’d which made sense as to why Hogan was DQ’d.

Furthermore, there’s the issue of the title changing hands. They confirmed to us over and over that the title could not change hands on a disqualification. Yet at the end of the show, The Giant is parading around with the title.

Here’s the spoiler… This was supposed to be The Giant winning the title. I think it will be revealed later that Jimmy had it in Hogan’s contract that the title could change hands on a DQ. So knowing what happens in the future, Jimmy attacking the referee makes sense as he’s just won The Giant the title. However, at the time, they played it up like Hogan was still the champion.

I don’t want to speculate but I could see a scenario where Hogan didn’t want to lose to The Giant, at least cleanly. Therefore, they did a DQ finish where Jimmy sided with the Dungeon of Doom. However, Hogan had to take a bit time away from WCW after this match. At that point, they decided to go with the angle that the title could change hands on a DQ. That way, Hogan is still protected while Giant walks away with the title.

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This PPV, in many ways, was unforgettable. It was unforgettable because of the tag team match and because of the insanity of The Giant vs Hulk Hogan. If those two things weren’t there, this would have went down as an all-time horrible pay-per-view. However, they were the two money-making angles going in and they both worked. In a lot of ways, those two angles saved this pay-per-view.

That’s it from us at the Armbar Express. It has taken a while for this review to go out but we’re back to Nitros with Episode #8 and the fall-out of WCW Halloween Havoc 1995.

We’ll see you then. This will end up being the final post of 2018 so we will see you with more WCW Nitro reviews in 2019! I wish you all a happy new year from the Armbar Express!

 

WCW Nitro Episode List

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.

Money In The Bank 2016 Review – The Shield’s Main Event Dominance

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Money In The Bank was a pretty important and monumental pay-per-view for WWE. Not only would a new Money In The Bank holder be decided, but we had two of the biggest and most anticipated matches in recent memory. John Cena and AJ Styles finally had their dream match and Roman Reigns finally defended the WWE World Heavyweight Championship against Seth Rollins – the man that was never beaten for the title.

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“The New Day” Big E (c) and Kofi Kingston (c) vs Enzo Amore and Big Cass vs “The Vaudevillains” Simon Gotch and Aiden English vs Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows in a fatal four way tag team match for the WWE Tag Team Championship  

This may have been the match that has changed my perception of the idea of a fatal four way tag team match. Despite seeing them too often, at least these tag team matches will give you a lot of action and chaos which could see anyone fight each other. In one fatal four way tag team match, the New Day tried winning the match by having Big E pin Kofi! This tag team match at Money In The Bank made me realise something… this type of match is hard for the viewers to keep up with.

It was hard when trying to keep track of who were the legal men. There were moments that I got confused, as I questioned several times who the “legal men” of the match were. There was a lot of chaos and complication with this match, with a lot of badly screwed up spots. The huge spot that was messed up was when Enzo and Cass hit their finisher. They went for the pin and the referee counted one, two, three and then Luke Gallows broke it up. Yes. Luke Gallows failed to break up the pin in time as the fans all believed that Enzo and Cass won the match. The announcers didn’t mention this as the crowd chanted “that was three” as the match rolled on.

So this match was already a mess by this point and then it got worse. Gallows and Anderson hit the Magic Killer and Anderson made the cover. In an impressive feat of strength, Big E picked up Anderson and was able to get him up from that position into the set-up for the Big Ending. This would have been an awesome finish, if it were not for what happened next. Gallows is leaning on the ropes and watches as his partner is in peril as Big E is about to drop him. Gallows stares at him and does ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. The reason he does nothing is because supposedly, Big Cass missed his cue for whatever came next. So for a good ten seconds, Gallows stares at Big E as he’s got Gallows’ partner Anderson up for the Big Ending. THIS WAS… EMBARRASSING.

The New Day picked up the win but I just completed hated this match. I thought that the New Day should have won as Anderson and Gallows winning the belt should be in a normal tag team match with the New Day.

 

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Baron Corbin vs Dolph Ziggler

I was so incensed when I heard that this match was happening again at Money In The Bank and I actually have to a respond to a comment I saw on Facebook. Somebody on Facebook made a joke about Corbin and Ziggler fighting forever and some fool replied by mocking the fans who are now “complaining” after getting more feuds with slow burns. He talked about the fans wanting more lengthy storylines and then completely burying programs like this.

Let me explain something to this “fan” who made this comment. Here’s the issue with this theory. The fans do want detailed feuds that go on for months, provided that they are good. That’s all well and good. However, this feud is not good. This feud is not interesting. The WWE has not given us any new reasons for wanting to see these two fight again. The whole feud is based around one man winning a match, an attack from the loser which leads to another match. This is a cycle that is going on for some many feuds in WWE. This mindset does not give fans reasons to want to keep watching these matches. Instead, they zone out unless the match happens to be between wrestlers like Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn.

I actually remembered back to a feud between Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels in 2008. I thought about this as I was writing up my Retro Express piece on Unforgiven 2008, which featured their unsactioned fight. You know what was so great about that feud? Shawn Michaels, Chris Jericho and the WWE gave us a reason to want to keep watching these two go at it and their feud lasted from April 2008 to November 2008. That’s a really long period of time but they were able to keep the audience invested into that feud as they gave us something different each month. The feud stared with the question being asked of whether Jericho could trust Shawn. Then it became a blood feud, with Jericho turning on Shawn for lying to him. Then it became a personal feud, as Jericho punched Shawn’s wife at Summerslam. After Shawn destroyed Jericho and after Jericho won the World title at Unforgiven, it became a world title feud. The story of the feud changed each month as the WWE realised that the fans didn’t want to see these two wrestlers do the EXACT same thing each month. They wanted something different.

Ziggler and Corbin don’t give us anything like that. Not to mention that these two already did several blow-off matches, with Corbin beating up Ziggler at Extreme Rules and then Ziggler kicking Corbin in the nuts on RAW. There’s no other reason to keep the feud going, other than to waste the audience’s time. The audience felt that their time was wasted in this match. There were large chants of “boring” and “let’s go Ziggler, Ziggler sucks” among with others. With chants like that, it’s pretty obvious that the fans don’t want to see this match again.

With that said, this was an OK match. I was not blown away by it and it was boring in places but the right man won and HOPEFULLY both men can move onto different things.

 

 

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Becky Lynch and Natalya vs Charlotte and Dana Brooke

This was an OK women’s tag team match. Natalya, Becky and Charlotte are all good workers and Dana was doing fine when in the ring with these three talented wrestlers. The finish saw Dana throw Becky into Natalya, with the babyfaces clashing heads, leading to the heels picking up the win. The aftermath was the really important part.

Natalya is in tears in the ring as Becky tries to console her. Becky lifts her up as the fans start to applaud, which leads to Natalya turning on her friend Becky and attacking her. Natalya did in fact turn heel.

I don’t have a problem with Natalya turning heel and a potential feud between Becky and Natalya. Those two are really good workers and it’ll keep Natalya’s character fresh by having her be a full-blown heel for the first time in a number of years. However, the issue for me is what it took to get there.

Think about this for a moment. Natalya got beat in her last three pay-per-view matches against Charlotte and takes her anger out on Becky. Why did she attack Becky? The obvious explanation is that she was taking out her pent-up frustration but why was Becky the target? After getting beat by the heels, it did no favours for Becky and Natalya to do that angle. After losing to Charlotte and Dana, now these two losers are going to face each other in a feud. Other than personal interest in the careers of Becky and Natalya as well as the potential their matches could have, I have no other reason to see these two girls wrestle. If they had won this tag match and then they did the feud, then at least the two girls would be more interesting to the viewers. If they had the two beat the Women’s champion in a pay-per-view tag team match, fans might start to wonder whether that will lead to a title match for one of these women down the road.

Let’s say that they went with this. Natalya lost her two matches with Charlotte at Payback and Extreme Rules. She is very much disappointed with herself and is going into this match looking to at least get some redemption against her bitter rival Charlotte. So Natalya gets the hot tag and runs wild. She has Charlotte on the verge of tapping when Dana breaks it up. As Natalya is brawling with Dana, Becky makes a blind tag. Becky hits an exploder suplex and gets the pin or makes Charlotte tap out with the “dis-arm-her” finisher. However, Natalya is still annoyed at Becky for stealing this victory from her so she turns on Becky.

Natalya’s claim is that Becky was being selfish in stealing the victory from Natalya, when Becky knew how much a victory over Charlotte meant to her. Becky can lash back by claiming that all she did was try to win the match for her team. Natalya was in trouble with Dana, so Becky made the blind tag to make sure that she could capitalise on a weakened Charlotte. Both these women would have legitimate motivations for a feud and both of these women would be WINNERS after beating the heel tag team at a pay-per-view.

Maybe if the writers would stop going out of there way to elevate Charlotte and think about the rest of the women, maybe you could have an actually dandy women’s division. Instead, we’ve only got one women in the entire division that is even booked as a winner. Really does annoy me.

 

 

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Apollo Crews vs Sheamus

There was a lot of brawling between Apollo and Sheamus. It was very hard to get interested into this match but there was a lot of big hits with Sheamo and Crews. Crews won. The right man won in this match as the newcomer beat the veteran. I’m under the impression that this feud will lead to a rematch at Battleground, which is probably not the best route to take with these two. Keep Apollo fresh by squaring him off with other wrestlers. Him wrestling the same old mid-card talent is not going to do him any favours.

 

 

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John Cena vs AJ Styles

This match actually told a really good story. This was John Cena’s first match since December 2015 and he was up against a very active AJ Styles in this dream match. With Cena showing ring rust, AJ completely wrestled circles around the dude. Cena was constantly outmatched and out-thought by AJ as he had beaten him in every turn. This even led to Cena looking visually tired, which I’ll get onto later. AJ had all the tools to out-do him but he couldn’t put him away. When the referee was down, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson showed up and hit the Magic Killer, giving AJ the victory.

I will say that I will give the announcers credit in the fact that they played up how this was a big dream match that was ruined by the Club. This was exactly what the finish of the match demanded. I know there are a lot of people upset with the finish, believing that AJ should have won cleanly. However, I have no problem with this finish as AJ IS THE HEEL. He is supposed to cheat every once in a while and this match demanded a screwy finish. Anyone that has any clue about who the Bullet Club was should know that the Club were such good heels as they went against Japanese wrestling tradition. Interference and shenanigans were all part of the US adaptation of wrestling, which some will argue hurt wrestling as a whole. If a match like Kenny Omega vs Hiroshi Tanahashi ended with interference from the Bullet Club, that would lead to the Japanese being annoyed that they didn’t get a proper finish because of the dastardly Bullet Club. Gallows and Anderson ruined the match and JBL went on about how much of a disgrace that this finish was. Why do people feel that all the heels should win every match clean? Wouldn’t that defy the logic of what being a heel is all about?

Those were the positives of the match. Let me move onto the negatives. Firstly, Big Match John returned back to his glory days in terms of calling spots really loud in the ring. I wouldn’t have so much of a problem with calling spots in a match, if everything Cena said was not picked up on the referee’s hidden mic. Cena talked A LOT during this match which is not good. I have a feeling that this will decrease over time with the next few matches these two have but it is worrying for a fifteen year veteran to feel the need to call spots this loudly.

My next complaint is actually of the announcers. I did give them credit earlier but here’s the negatives. I mentioned that John Cena could have been suffering from ring rust, which would have explained why Cena looked slow in the ring. Bryan Alvarez from Wrestling Observer came up with a much better explanation, which is probably the best sounding theory. A day or two before Money In The Bank, John Cena traveled to China for that big conference where he was talking fluently in Mandarin. A short time after this trip to China, he is out there wrestling AJ STYLES of all people in a big match and looked slow and not himself. Hopefully you all are figuring out what I’m hinting towards, so I may as well just spill it out… JOHN CENA WAS SUFFERING FROM JET LAG.

These announcers, having mentioned Cena’s trip to China during that match, failed to make the link between Cena looking slow and his trip to China. The announcers didn’t bring it up. Jet lag would have been a great way to explain it so you also protect Cena even more. They could have even claimed that AJ was staying in Las Vegas for a few days before the event, to get used to the humidity. Having been to Las Vegas myself, I can tell you for a fact that the conditions at this desert were certainly hard to get used to. I’m from England and I was going to Las Vegas so OF COURSE I would not feel like myself. John Cena had made the trip from CHINA to LAS VEGAS. Of course he was going to be knackered.

With that said, it was a very well structured match. If only these writers did a better job at explaining a lot of this booking, perhaps my opinion of this match would have dramatically rose.

 

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Dean Ambrose vs Cesaro vs Kevin Owens vs Alberto Del Rio vs Chris Jericho vs Sami Zayn in a Money In The Bank ladder match

This was a really good Money In The Bank ladder match. These six have all been able to work well against each other and when you throw them together, you’re going to be in for a treat. My only major criticism, and it’s not really a big one, is the fact that this will not go down as one of the most memorable Money In The Bank matches of all time. There weren’t really a lot of memorable high-risk spots that I’ll remember in a few years time. The spot with Sami Zayn launching Kevin Owens onto the edge of the ladder was probably the closest one you’ll get, and it really was a sick bump for Owens to take. He was leaning on the ladder and the first thing that popped into my mind was a scene in the Simpsons where Homer was punched, landing on a fire hydrant and his back was arched on that hydrant. What Homer said after that punch was “this is more painful than it looks”, which was probably what Kevin Owens was thinking!

Everyone was able to get involved in the spots, including those not usually associated with this kind of match like Alberto Del Rio. We got an awesome spot from Cesaro, where he jumped off the ladder onto the ropes and then uppercutted Kevin Owens. That was one of Cesaro’s greatest uppercuts of all time and Cesaro throws some of the best uppercuts in the world. That basically means that this was one of the best uppercuts in wrestling history.

We had the usual spots of all six man battling on the ladders to reach the briefcase. They then had the ladders set up in a weird way, which allowed all six of them to do battle on the ladders. That spot might actually be one of those moments that people will remember. The end of the match saw Dean knock down Owens and win the briefcase.

I guess the reason why I don’t think that this ladder match will be that memorable is because of what happened at the end of the night being far more memorable. I sort of remembered Kane’s Money In The Bank match in 2010 when he won it, but his cash-in later that night sticks out even more. This was probably the same with Dean.

 

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Rusev (c) vs Titus O’Neil for the United States Championship

There was a great start to this match where Rusev and Titus O’Neil were outside on opposite ends to the ring. These two big bulls locked eyes, ran around the ring and clashed into each other with a massive double clothesline spot. A great big man spot to start the match.

Rusev won with the Accolade. Following the victory, we got an awesome post-match promo from Rusev. Being the absolute best heel he possibly could be, Rusev was out of the ring and stood next to Titus’ kids. He teased them about their father and told them that Titus was a loser. Then he left feeling triumphant.

I’ve got to say that Rusev will be one of the most over wrestlers in this company by the end of the year if the WWE keep going in this direction. The WWE are now well aware how great a talker Rusev is. He is tremendous at being an evil Russian and being a complete dick to his opponents and even THEIR FAMILY! He beats up these foolish mid-carders, reminds us that these mid-carders are failures and then leaves with Lana. Right now, it must be great to be Rusev! Easily my favourite thing going in all of WWE.

 

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Roman Reigns (c) vs Seth Rollins for the WWE Championship

I would not put this in the same realm as the last two pay-per-view main events, featuring Roman Reigns’ battles with AJ Styles. However, this was a good match between the two former Shield members. The match structure was very unique in the sense that Rollins worked the majority of the match as a babyface and Roman worked a lot of the match as a heel. There were even times when Roman mocked Seth, with Seth responding defiantly. Roman and Seth were both great in their roles for this match, which is another reason for why WWE should be pushing for a Roman Reigns heel turn. The dude is a natural big bad guy and Seth has the speed and the moveset of a babyface. Some great stuff here.

Seth was really going all out to try and test his knee, with a number of flips and dangerous moves. They even did a spot where Seth was thinking about doing the same powerbomb that he tried against Kane, which saw him blow his knee out. He hesitated but eventually did it and he seemed to have found his confidence. Not really sure whether it was wise for Seth to go all out in terms of testing out his knee.

There were some cool spots, including Seth countering Roman’s spear with a mid-air pedigree. The more I think about this spot, the more impressed I am by it. Seth was not able to hook the hands of Roman in mid-air, but the fact that he caught Roman’s head with his legs in mid-air and drove Roman head-first into the mat is an incredible feat. In hindsight, this should have been the finish.

Seth eventually hit another pedigree and defeated Roman CLEAN IN THE MIDDLE to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. With the news of Roman’s suspension, it does make a bit more sense about why Seth beat Roman clean here. I wouldn’t have booked a clean finish in this match due to what happened in the post-match, but I’ll dive into that in a bit. Overall, a good match with a surprising finish upon first viewing.

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Once the match was over and Seth Rollins hoisted the championship up high, Dean Ambrose’s music hits. Seth valiantly stood his ground, ready for Dean to fight him. He does not run, he does not hide and he is ready for a fight. Despite this, Dean Ambrose hits him with the briefcase from behind. Dean had an emotionless look on his face as he turned to the referee and gave him the briefcase. Dean then hits the Dirty Deeds and pins Seth Rollins. As soon as he wins, the fans go crazy. Meanwhile, the announcers are playing up the idea that Dean had finally won the big one after years of struggling. What they failed to mention however, is the fact that it was unfair for Seth to win the title fairly only to be cheapshotted and beaten for the title.

This is NOT going to be a popular opinion… but I was not a fan of this cash-in. Don’t get me wrong. The cash-in worked in getting Dean Ambrose over. Seth’s victory worked in keeping Seth looking strong. The idea of all three Shield members holding the WWE title on the same night is pretty cool when you think about it. However, this cash-in flies in the face of the idea of story-telling. For you see, the only one acting like a babyface at Money In The Bank was Seth Rollins… who is SUPPOSED to be a heel.

Seth wrestled the entire match with Roman Reigns as a full-blown babyface and WON the match as a babyface. He beat the man clean in the middle. You know what would have been really great? If you really wanted to make it seem like this was poetic justice when Dean cashed in on Seth, why not have Seth CHEAT to win? Why doesn’t he just act like a heel should and beat Roman either by hitting him with the belt or grabbing his tights? All this finish did was make Roman look bad, which was probably the idea considering Roman’s suspension. However, let’s just pretend for a second that Roman wasn’t suspend. The WWE are still promoting Roman for the main event at Battleground against Seth and Dean. Shouldn’t you do whatever you could to protect Roman before that match? By beating Roman clean, the only wrestlers that have credible claims to be in the WWE Championship match at Battleground is Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins.

Seth even said on RAW that Roman had no claim to a rematch as Seth beat him legitimately and cleanly. If Seth cheated to beat Roman, then Dean cashed in, then you can actually lead the audience to believing that Seth had this coming. Dean’s actions seem justified in the fact that Seth screwed over his best friend, so Dean might as well screw over Seth. Seth still has a legitimate claim for a rematch and it’s not like you hurt Seth, and Roman still has a legitimate claim for a rematch and it’s not like you hurt Roman. That way, a triple threat match at Battleground is more justified and all three combatants seem on par with each other.

I made the argument on SLTD Wrestling that it was in the company’s best interest to turn Seth into a babyface at Money In The Bank. You don’t necessarily have to turn Roman or Dean, although one of them turning would probably be best. However, there’s no reason to keep Seth as a heel but have him wrestle as a face. If Seth’s going to wrestle like that, then he should have just came back as a babyface. Now though, the chances of an eventual Rollins babyface turn in the future having the big impact that it should have are just rapidly decreasing. The reason for this is because you’re dragging it out. It’s watered down as Seth is facing the wrath of two babyfaces (one for the next 30 days) who are screwing him out of the title. At the end of the day, you are wasting everyone’s time who are losing investment into Seth’s character. The fans are quickly losing interest in Seth as Dean Ambrose is now the face that runs the place and is the most over man in the company. There’s a chance that a turn at Summerslam might be good, depending on how you execute it. However, I’m just not that confident about the future of Seth if he doesn’t turn soon.

With that said, this cash-in was a successful one with regards to the fan reactions and how over Dean Ambrose is. He’ll be a top champion and the viewership for the RAW after Money In The Bank went up significantly from last week. I can’t argue with the numbers but the storyline aspects of this is just very detrimental. That’s actually part of a bigger issue with the company, which is the lack of definition for the characters of ALL of their talent. The fans can cheer and boo for whoever they want. That’s all fine. The bigger issue is the fact that if you don’t make it clear about the motivations and alignments of all of your talent, the fans aren’t going to care at all.

 

 

Retro Express – Unforgiven 2008

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Coming off their first PG PPV in the “PG era” of WWE, the WWE came up with a new concept for a championship match type. This would be a new match that the WWE, World and ECW titles would all be defended in at Unforgiven, promoting excitement and unpredictability as five men would scramble to try and win the championship. The Championship Scramble saw CM Punk’s World title, Triple H’s WWE title and Mark Henry’s ECW title all in jeopardy. How many titles would change hands? Who would capture the gold? And finally, who would win the unsanctioned showdown between Shawn Michaels and the man that punched his wife at Summerslam? Well, let’s get to it….

 

WWE Unforgiven

Date: September 7th 2008

Brand: RAW, SmackDown! and ECW

City: Cleveland, Ohio

Attendance: 8,700

 

Mark Henry (c) vs Matt Hardy vs The Miz vs Finlay vs Chavo Guerrero in the ECW Championship Scramble match

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Matt Hardy and The Miz were the first two entrants in the match. Both of them got surprisingly big reactions. I know that this pay-per-view took place in Cleveland, where The Miz is from, but it was not like Miz was extremely over at that time. This was when he was with John Morrison and was only just starting to make a name for himself. It’s still nice that he got the big reaction here though.

The first five minutes between Matt and Miz were actually pretty good with not much to report on. There were no falls in the first five minutes with Chavo Guerrero being the third entrant. Chavo immediately pinned Matt with the Frog Splash, to become the interim champion. Chavo was able to pull off a rolling heel kick which was done well. What was not well pulled off was the Miz’s double crossbody on Matt and Chavo, which barely got Chavo. I guess that one could be put on Chavo for not being in the right place but it still came off looking sloppy. Matt ran wild and pinned Chavo with the side effect to become the new champion.

The fourth entrant was Mark Henry with Tony Atlas as his manager. Matt, Miz and Chavo all ganged up on Mark Henry but he pushed them all away. He ran wild and pinned Chavo with the World’s Strongest Slam. He beat everyone up. There was one interesting thing to note as the interim champions tried to retain their titles. Matt Hardy did this earlier in the match but the interim champions wore down the other competitors with long submission holds. Mark got the pin fall on Chavo a minute after he got into the match so we had roughly three or four minutes of Mark Henry putting everyone in bearhugs before Finaly came out. It makes sense for Henry to do that but this completely drained the match of life for a long period of time.

As mentioned, Finlay was the last entrant. He kept hitting Henry with DDTs as he took it to the current champion. Hornswoggle’s distraction led to Finlay hitting Mark with the shillelagh. Finlay and Matt were able to dump Mark over the top rope and out of the equation. Finlay then quickly hit Matt with the Celtic Cross and pinned him to become the interim champion. That’s team work for you everybody!

Matt eventually became the champion again, pinning Miz after hitting the Twist of Fate. Then we got a pretty stupid couple of minutes as we were drawing to a close. Mark Henry is killing nearly everyone in the match with World’s Strongest Slams but Matt broke them up each time. It was the case where Mark hit the finisher, Matt broke it up, Mark moved Matt out of the way and then hit someone else with the finisher. As a fan, I had only one thought in my mind… why don’t you turn around and kill Matt Hardy, so he won’t be able to stop you from pinning these other guys? Mark Henry struck me as someone that was just not learning from his mistakes as Matt kept breaking up the pin! It was just amazing.

There was actually a moment where Mark hit the World’s Strongest Slam on Miz but Miz was up again after like 20-30 seconds! Thanks for the no-sell Miz!

There was a big scramble in the last few seconds of the match with everybody trying to get a pin fall on each other. Matt kept trying to break all of them until the clock expired and Matt was declared the winner. There was a big pop when Matt Hardy won the belt which really lifted the crowd after the last ten minutes of the match really took them out of the scramble. I thought this was an OK Scramble match which did not set too great a precedent for other Scramble matches to follow. It started off exciting and then Mark Henry showed up, which took me right out of the match. Then there was the Matt/Mark incident near the end of the match which made the match seem like a total mess at times. In the end, the crowd was happy so I can’t bash this too much.

Match Rating: **1/4

Jeff Hardy congratulated Matt on his big win and Matt wished Jeff luck in the WWE Championship Scramble match later on.

There was a quick shot of WWE Champion Triple H and World Heavyweight Champion CM Punk warming up backstage. They were the champions going into their respective Championship Scramble matches.

Cody Rhodes (c) and Ted DiBiase Jr (c) vs Shad Gaspard and JTG for the World Tag Team Championship

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The announcers mentioned that Shad was once a bodyguard for “Iron” Mike Tyson. Am I the only person in the world that questions why MIKE TYSON of all people would need a body guard? I watched something recently with him in and he still looked like a pretty mean guy. If I tried to jump Mike Tyson in the street, I highly doubt that he’d need Shad Gaspard watching his back!

This match was a nice little tag team match. Nothing too fancy but it was just your slightly-above-average tag team match which was not really messed up at all. There was a funny incident at the start of the match where JTG was pulled off from Cody by the referee and JTG yelled “What are you doing?” Cody went for the moonsault but JTG moved out of the way. Shad got the hot tag. Cody hit the DDT on Shad while the referee was distracted but Shad would kick out of DiBiase’s pin. JTG and Cody became the legal men in the match. JTG went for the small-package on Cody but Ted rolled it over so Cody had JTG covered. The referee made the pin and the champions retained the titles. The two tag teams got into a brawl. Manu, the son of Afa, made his debut by turning the tide in the favour of the champions. They left and were feeling triumphant.

Match Rating: **1/2

Shawn Michaels vs Chris Jericho in an unsanctioned match

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Shawn Michaels was shown to be taping up his arm for his big unsanctioned fight with Chris Jericho. They showed an awesome video package to recap the feud between Michaels and Jericho. The biggest thing that I took from this feud was that Jericho was justified in nearly all of his actions during this program. He made the point when he turned on Shawn about how the fans were booing an honest man (Jericho) and cheering a lair (Michaels). He did a tremendous job in making Michaels out to be a villain in nearly every scenario, even when he was supposed to retire at Summerslam 2008. Some of the lines thrown in this angle were awesome.

The WWE were actually just starting out in the “PG era” but there was one “we want blood” sign, which was surprisingly not confiscated by security. It is possible that WWE knew that there might be blood in Jericho/HBK anyway so maybe that’s why it wasn’t taken away. HBK attacked Jericho with punches early on. He took off his belt and smacked Jericho with it. They fought in the crowd. Michaels went for a chair shot on Jericho but he missed. Jericho did a DDT to Michaels on the outside, which looked effective. Jericho pulled out a table and hit Michaels with it. Jericho tried a powerbomb but he ended up launching Michaels into the apron.

Jericho beat up Michaels with a chair. Jericho wedged the chair in the corner. They teased Irish-whipping each other into it. Jericho tried to suplex Michaels through the table on the outside but Shawn got out of it. They then showed Michaels flat-out choking Jericho in the ring with a crazed look in his face. I thought that was a nice touch as it shows just how badly Michaels wanted to hurt Jericho. Shawn went for the Superkick but stopped and then just started punching Jericho in the face! The more I think about it, the more of a good spot this became in my mind. I think it’s changed my opinion because the match itself was a totally different type of match then you were used to from Michaels and Jericho. Therefore, these moments make a lot more sense than if Michaels were to have done it at WrestleMania 19 for example.

Michaels locked on the crossface but Jericho was able to hurdle Michaels face-first into the chair. This obviously added to what happened earlier in the storyline, with Jericho injuring Michaels’ eye. Jericho targeted the eye and with the vision of Michaels impaired a little, Jericho turned it into an amateur boxing match for a while! Jericho did the Irish Whip spot to Michaels, where Shawn did a flip in the corner. It was so great because the flip actually helped Michaels out, as it was done to the same corner where the chair was still wedged in!

Jericho went for the Walls of Jericho but Michaels got the ropes. However, Jericho didn’t have to let go as it was no disqualification. Shawn was able to get under the apron and pull out a fire extinguisher. He sprayed Jericho to get out of the Walls and he hit Jericho with the extinguisher. Michaels took Jericho up the ramp and did a nasty looking suplex on it. It honestly looked like it hurt Shawn more than it hurt Chris!

Lance Cade, who was Chris Jericho’s protege at the time, tried a run in but Michaels cut him off. Cade’s response was to TURN HIM INSIDE OUT with a clothesline! Jericho and Cade targeted Michaels’ taped up arm. Jericho slapped Michaels while Cade helped him. Cade brought in a chair and Jericho smacked Michaels in the arm with it. He planned to break Michaels’ arm by wrapping the chair around it and jumping off the top rope with some move. As he went up, Michaels got out of it and superkicked Cade. Michaels took the chair and hit Jericho with it, causing Jericho to crash into the table. I thought Cade’s involvement was really well done and it led to a great spot with Jericho falling into the table. I thought this was all great.

HBK then unleashed a barrage of one-handed chair shots to Jericho which I thought were great additions to the match. It made Michaels look so great while he was in this state-of-mind. He wanted to beat up Jericho with this chair so much that he decided to do it with one arm! Michaels put Cade and Jericho on the announce table and then hit an elbow drop off the top rope through the table.

HBK then whipped Jericho with the belt. In what was a great moment, HBK then started whipping Jericho in the eye! If you’ll recall, Michaels mentioned in a segment on RAW before this about an eye for an eye and Michaels was legitimately trying to take out Jericho’s. He then laid into Jericho with a number of bare-knuckle blows. Jericho was KO’d and the referee called for the bell. Some of the fans booed and a lot of the fans didn’t get the finish but it was still pulled off really well. In a way, they did contradict themselves with the rules by claiming that it could only end via pin fall or submission beforehand. Then again when thinking about the storyline, the referee probably thought that there was no way that Shawn was going to go for the cover and Jericho couldn’t submit as he was knocked out. When factoring all of those things, the referee calling for the bell does make sense.

HBK still continued to beat up Jericho and he even super-kicked one of the referees. More referees came out to stop Michaels and attend to Jericho. This was all splendid.

The match itself was pretty damn great. I know a lot of people didn’t get how the match was put together. To be honest, I was one of those people when I first watched this. There was parts of the matches which I never really understood until I watched it back recently. It wasn’t a match which everyone got but it was still masterfully put together. It’s unfair to compare this match to other Michaels vs Jericho matches as it was obviously not set out to be like those matches that we saw in the past. However, it was still pretty damn great. The match actually gets better and better the more I think about it. TWO HUGE THUMBS UP FOR THIS!

Match Rating: ****1/4

Legacy were backstage. Cody introduced Manu to Randy Orton and Ted asked if Orton was impressed. Orton said he wasn’t and proceeded to cut an amazing promo on Ted, Cody and Manu. He delivered a great speech about talent and ability, berating them for using tactics that people like Cryme Tyme would use on the street. He was not impressed.

Triple H (c) vs Jeff Hardy vs Shelton Benjamin vs The Brian Kendrick vs MVP in the WWE Championship Scramble match

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This was a championship scramble match mostly revolved around two men – Triple H and Jeff Hardy. At the end of the day, the winner of the match was going to be either one of those two. Therefore, this made everyone else in the match seem irrelevant (except for The Brian Kendrick, which we’ll get onto later). I don’t know if I were to have booked it like this, as the whole point of the match is surely to tease that anyone can win. If you were going to book it as they did, wouldn’t it make for sense for Jeff and Triple H to start off the match? That way, you can get the fans into the match early on and also give Jeff and Triple H experience in wrestling 20 minute title matches with each other, which is important as they would go on to fight each other for the title in the next few pay-per-views.

They went with Jeff Hardy  and Shelton Benjamin as the first and second entrants respectively. It was a decent first five minutes. There was one strange clothesline spot where Shelton went down and it appeared that he thought that they were going to do the double clothesline spot, where they both go down. The third entrant was The Brian Kendrick, who was with Ezekiel Jackson at this time. As he was coming down, Shelton was trying to hit Jeff with a  German Suplex off the apron. Kendrick cut him off. Kendrick was pinned soon after by Jeff Hardy with an alley oop.

This was the part of the show where I thought that the wrestlers themselves really didn’t understand the rules of the match. The Championship Scramble was actually a complicated concept but it was made worse by the fact that the interim-champion Jeff Hardy tried getting a pin fall on Shelton Benjamin. Why would Jeff need to bother getting another pin fall? Why didn’t he do what his brother did earlier on and just wear down his opponents? It wouldn’t have been too big of a deal had it not been for the finish, which we’ll get to later.

Shelton hit the Pay Dirt on Jeff and Kendrick followed it up with “The Kendrick” to pin Jeff Hardy. THE BRIAN KENDRICK became the interim WWE Champion. The Brian Kendrick was really the only one, other than Triple H and Jeff Hardy, that stood out like I mentioned earlier. Kendrick got the pin fall and the entire crowd was stunned as well as the commentators! He then served as the best interim champion in the history of the Championship Scramble! He looked like such a star for the next five minutes or so. MVP was the fourth entrant and ran wild. He went for the dive-by but Kendrick cut him off with one of the most beautiful leg lariats I’ve ever seen. Kendrick then started to do a tremendous job in making himself seem like a legitimate threat in this match. He was the best wrestler in the ring for the time that he was champion and was outclassing everyone! Then Triple H came in as the last entrant…

All of a sudden, things went downhill for Kendrick. Triple H ran wild and pinned Kendrick right away after a Pedigree to become the interim champion. All of a sudden it became the Triple H and Jeff Hardy show, with Kendrick playing the same role as everyone else. Shelton Irish-whipped Triple H into the steel steps. As this was going on, Jeff pinned MVP with the Twist of Fate. There were some boos as this happened, with the some of the crowd seeing where this was going.

In a terrible twenty seconds for Kendrick, Triple H pinned Kendrick again with the Pedigree. Triple H turned around to catch his breath, which apparently meant that Triple H had lost his hearing as well. The reason I say this is because as Triple H was turned around, Jeff hit the Swanton Bomb on Kendrick to a big pop. Jeff then pinned Kendrick to once again become the interim champion. There were only two men that were getting reactions at this point and they were Triple H and Jeff Hardy. If the crowd were going crazy, then Triple H surely should have figured out that Jeff was somehow back in the match and going for something big. Surely that should have forced Triple H to turn around and stop Jeff Hardy from getting the pin, which almost cost him the WWE Championship. But no. Hunter turned around with a shocked look in his face as he was no longer the interim champion.

There was an awesome tower of doom spot with Shelton Benjamin, MVP and The Brian Kendrick. All three men were down. In the closing seconds of this match, Jeff hit Shelton with the Swanton Bomb which was followed by Triple H giving MVP a pedigree. Triple H was going for the cover on MVP with Jeff Hardy stood right in front of him. Did Jeff Hardy try to break up the pin? No. He turned his attentions to Shelton and TRIED TO PIN HIM. Once again, YOU WERE ALREADY THE INTERIM CHAMPION! All Jeff Hardy had to do was make sure that Triple H didn’t pin MVP and he would have won the title right then and there. Instead, he allowed Triple H to get the pin fall and the announcers tried to play it up like Jeff was so close to winning the championship. They were right. He was so close but he failed out of his own stupidity. Jeff Hardy came off looking like the dumbest man alive in this match. He tried to pin other wrestlers while he was already the champion and had no clue of how the match worked in the slightest.

They also tried to go with the angle that Jeff was too hurt to recover and do anything. He was too hurt to break up the pin but he was OK enough to go try a pin on somebody else?

So Triple H got the pin fall at the end, which saw him retain the championship as the last man to get a pin or a submission. Other than the ending, this was a decent Championship Scramble. I would go as far as to call it the best scramble in the show but that is not saying much. It didn’t help the match when everyone involved had at least one moment where they did something stupid or was completely squashed. SmackDown! did not come off looking good following this pay-per-view.

Match Rating: **3/4

Shawn Michaels did an interview with Todd Grisham. Shawn said that he was content with what he had accomplished in his match with Jericho but he did not find closure. He said that if he could, he would deliver the same beating to Jericho every single day of his life. He warned Jericho that the worst is yet to come. For the fans, the best was yet to come as those two would go on to have an incredible match at No Mercy in the following month!

World Heavyweight Champion CM Punk was interviewed by Eve Torres, future Divas Champion. Randy Orton interrupted Punk’s interview. Orton called Punk a fluke champion. They had a back-and-forth until Cody, Ted and Manu all attacked Punk. Kofi Kingston tried to help Punk but he was beaten down too. Orton then ended the beating by punting CM Punk in the head. Orton would tell Legacy that this was impressive. They left.

Michelle McCool (c) vs Maryse for the Divas Championship

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This was not great. Maryse could barely run the ropes in this match. Michelle tried to do a flip arm drag off the top rope but was only just able to land on her feet. They fought on the outside, with Michelle giving Maryse a clothesline off the barricade. The match actually did include a good of bit old ring psychology, with Maryse working on Michelle’s leg. Michelle then worked on Maryse’s leg. The big difference was that Maryse was selling her leg injury while Michelle wasn’t! I then was reduced to uncontrollable laughter after Maryse and Michelle tried a sunset flip. Maryse tried this sunset flip but it ended up with Maryse’s momentum causing Michelle to crush her!

Michelle won with a suplex facebuster for the pin fall. You could tell that the announcers barely cared about this match as about ten seconds after the match, Tazz suddenly just went “ooooh” as if he just realised that the match was over! This was slightly worse then your average women’s match. The only major thing that they messed up was the sunset flip which still brought me a fair amount of entertainment!

Match Rating: *1/4

They then cut to a poll that the WWE were running throughout the night. It was whether the Big Show should have been allowed to be in the WWE Championship Scramble. 77% of the fans said that he should have been in the match. I guarantee that if they ran this poll again in 2016 for whether the Big Show should be in the Elimination Chamber for example, 77% would have voted against having him in!

RAW General Manager Mike Adamle cut a promo. He announced that it looked like CM Punk was not going to be able to make it to the World Title Championship Scramble. He said if CM Punk couldn’t compete, he would find someone else to take his place. He guaranteed that a FIVE MAN championship scramble will take place tonight.

You know what’s funny about Mike Adamle is that I wasn’t really watching wrestling at this time period, so I never watched it during the Age of Adamle. If I was, I totally would have loved him as the general manager of RAW and here’s why. The thing is that I really loved John Laurinaitis, when he was in charge with People Power. I’m a sucker for characters that are so bad that they’re good. Even though he messed up a lot of promos and came out with some unintentionally great moments, there was never a moment where I wanted to turn off the television when Big Johnny came out. Mike Adamle had that same effect where you’re just watching him and you’re waiting for him to come out with a beauty of a line!

He never really messed up anything with this promo but I loved the way that he raised his voice at the end of his promo. Apparently John Cena convinced Adamle that the more you raise your voice, the better your promo will be!

Segment with Vickie Guerrero, Big Show and The Undertaker

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Big Show came out. He was in his singlet. I was about to question why Big Show was coming out in his ring gear when he wasn’t scheduled to compete. As it turns out, he was lobbying himself to compete in the main event and take CM Punk’s place. Then again, Big Show didn’t know that there would be an open spot in the match until Adamle just announced it a minute or so earlier! So again… why was he in his gear?

He started his promo by just saying “Hi” which got some laughs. Big Show offered to be in the main event in Punk’s place as mentioned earlier. He said that at least Mike Adamle wouldn’t have left him out of a scramble match unlike SmackDown! General Manager Vickie Guerrero. This somehow led to Big Show encouraging people to vote in the 2008 elections. I have no idea how he was able to segway into this!

Vickie came out. Vickie told Big Show that she warned him not to cause a disruption or else. She had warned him that he’d either be suspended or fined. He then called him a big, dumb giant and told him to leave. When Big Show refused to leave, Vickie didn’t act on her threat. There were no fines or suspensions. She did not fire him. She basically told him to go away!

By the way, Vickie Guerrero does not fit into the category of “so bad that it’s good.” At this point in her career, she could still barely act. She was god awful with her delivery on this show. At least Big Johnny or Adamle had something to make you want to stay and watch. Vickie was just so bad that it made you think that WWE were actually daring you to turn off the show.

The Undertaker popped up on the titantron as druids made their way down to the ring with a casket. Big Show was just laughing in the ring. Taker said that he promised that he would be coming for Vickie at Unforgiven. He said that the coffin would be her final resting place. He asked her whether she wanted to go voluntarily or by force. Big Show kept her in the ring.

Undertaker got a big pop when he was coming out. Vickie tried to exit via the crowd but Big Show brought her back into the ring. This gave me strange deja vus of Over The Limit 2012, when Big Show brought Big Johnny back in the ring after he tried to escape from the crowd. Anyone that watched that pay-per-view will remember how that went down. As amazing as it is, I got deja vus from a segment that took place in 2012 while watching a pay-per-view from 2008 in 2016!

Taker opened the casket and got in the ring. Undertaker then started taking off his coat and hat. I didn’t realise that Undertaker needed to be in his ring gear in order to take Vickie Guerrero to hell! He grabbed her by the throat and then the Big Show punched Taker in the face. Big Show, did in fact, turn heel on this pay-per-view. It’s just amazing that they did this exact same storyline in 2012 but with Big Johnny replacing Vickie and John Cena replacing the Undertaker. Incredible.

So Big Show beat up the Undertaker in a shockingly agile manner. He then drove Taker into the ring post and threw him into the barricade. He knocked over the casket and then kept punching Taker in the face, knocking him out. Vickie then spit in Undertaker’s face, slapping him for good measure. ALL OF THIS TOOK TWENTY MINUTES OF PAY-PER-VIEW TIME!

Segment Rating: -**

They then recapped a RAW segment with Randy Orton and CM Punk, which led to the attack from earlier.

William Regal tried to convince Mike Adamle to put him in the World Heavyweight Championship Scramble match. Adamle said he’d take his request under advisement.

Batista vs Kane vs JBL vs Rey Mysterio vs Chris Jericho in the World Heavyweight Championship Scramble match

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Batista and JBL started out the match. I was rather shocked and disappointed by the WWE’s decision to have Batitsa and JBL kick off the match. They could have put in Kane or Rey Mysterio, with Mysterio having a history of pulling off good long match performances. However, they decided that it was best for Batista and JBL to work a 20 minute match. Batista looked blown up at around the half-way point.

They also decided to have Batista and JBL start the match by locking on submission holds. Because if there’s one thing I associate Batista and JBL with, it’s submissions! Batista locked on the Figure Four Leg Lock for about a minute. It was much better when these two were just going blow for blow as opposed to just going for submissions. That brought out the best of them. Batista Irish-whipped JBL into the corner. He got into the ring and waited for the third entrant, who turned out to be Kane.

There was a fine back-and-forth between Kane and Batista. They went for finishers on each other but they were countering each other’s stuff. Then there was a nice little sequence between all three men, which saw Kane pin JBL off a chokeslam. The fourth entrant was Rey Mysterio, who brought life into the match for about a few minutes. He and JBL picked up the pace as Mysterio ran wild. Rey went for the 619 on Kane but it was avoided and Kane turned Rey inside out with a clothesline.

Rey and Batista then teamed up to do an elevated splash, with Rey on Batista’s shoulders. They went for it again but Rey turned it into a victory roll pin attempt on Batista. It’s funny that Batista thought nothing of Rey’s betrayal in this match when a year later, he got so mad at Rey for breaking up a pin fall which caused Big Dave to turn heel at Bragging Rights 2009!

JBL then took advantage of the brief squabble that Rey and Batista had. JBL hit a fallaway slam on Rey, which saw him land right on Batista. The fifth entrant was revealed to be Chris Jericho, who came out selling his match from earlier on in the night. Everyone in the ring was shocked as Jericho came out, with Y2J looking wrecked. Batista then speared Rey and Jericho out of their boots.

In a repeat of earlier on, Kane tried to go for the pin even though HE WAS THE CHAMPION. Fortunately, he only did this once. In the last 45 seconds of the match, Batista hit Kane with the spinebuster and pinned him to become the interim champion. Rey then tried a springboard move on Batista but it was countered into a Batista Bomb. This was a sweet reversal actually. As this was happening though, Jericho sneaked back into the ring and pinned Kane. The clock ran out and Chris Jericho won the World Heavyweight Championship!

I’ve got to say that the finish was really well executed. It was not done in such a way that it devalued the title as Jericho had already been beaten up before the match. Jericho was slaughtered by Michaels but still came back out, which put him over. Even if he didn’t do anything in the match, Jericho winning was the whole point of the match at the end of the day. The majority of the match was pretty boring but it did lead to a great finish. It was also not like the WWE Championship Scramble match ending, where Jeff could have done something to break up the pin. Jericho went for the pin as Batista was in mid-move. Batista could not stop what he was doing and go break up the pin. Really well executed finish with a match type which did have its fair share of problems. The finish gets a thumbs up from me!

Match Rating: **1/4

Overall, this was a fine pay-per-view. The Championship Scramble was a complicated concept, as mentioned earlier. Especially with the wrestlers themselves getting somewhat confused by it, it was a very difficult match to get your head around. Despite this, all three matches were different in their layouts and they all provided something different. Matt brought the triumphant new babyface champion, Triple H and Jeff brought the back-and-forth pin falls which lead to an exciting last minute of the match and Jericho brought the shock factor. The best match of the night was Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels BY FAR, but this was not a pay-per-view that delivered a lot of bad matches or anything. With the exception of the women’s match and the god awful Vickie, Big Show and Undertaker segment, this was decent stuff. Thumbs up from me!