Adorable Adrian Adonis’ review yesterday inspired me to do another WCW PPV retro review.
MARCH 14, 1999
WCW is still in it’s decline as WWF is now running away in the ratings war. This is still in the pre-Russo days. Ric Flair has 20 days left in his presidency of WCW after winning it from Eric Bischoff. Now he’s putting his wrestling future on the line in a steel cage match against Hulk Hogan. Three former ECW stars, Raven, Sandman, (now called Hak) and Bam Bam Bigelow have been beating each other senseless in recent weeks, all trying to show who is the most hardcore. WCW still has no idea what to do with Bret Hart, as his most recent match was against fucking Van Hammer. Rick Steiner has recently returned and has been going after his brother Scott and his crony Buff Bagwell. At SuperBrawl, Curt Hennig & Barry Windham gypped Dean Malenko & Chris Benoit out of the tag team titles and have thus far refused to give them a rematch. Goldberg is still a dominant force but is now just another guy the NWO has screwed over. Rey Mysterio was unmasked after his SuperBrawl loss to Kevin Nash, but has since become a giant killer, beating Nash, Bam Bam Bigelow, and Scott Norton. These are the storylines that lead us into…
TAGLINE: No Rules. No Mercy. No Way Out.
From Freedom Hall in Louisville, Kentucky, we are welcomed by play-by-play man Tony Schiavone and color commentators Mike Tenay and Bobby “The Brain” Heenan. They announce that the main event barbed wire steel cage match between Flair and Hogan will be a First Blood match. “Mean Gene” Okerlund informs us that these matches are unsactioned by WCW. SCANDALOUS! He plugs the hotline. I don’t know anyone who ever called it, but I’m sure it was a bigger ripoff than the Gobbeldy Gooker.
WCW CRUISERWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH: MIKEY WHIPWRECK VS. KIDMAN (c)
Mikey Whipwreck is making his WCW debuting seemingly out of nowhere, because I watched the shows leading up to this event, and his name was never mentioned once that I can remember. Kidman is over and Whipwreck gets a lot of heat from the crowd during his entrance. Very fast pace at the start. Heenan keeps pissing off Tenay by calling him “Shipwreck”. The Brain is the gold standard of heel announcing. When we get to the middle of the match the two are fighting on the outside, using the barricade and the apron. Kidman comes out on the losing end of the exchanges outside and Whipwreck slows the pace down in the ring, dishing out a lot of punishment.
Kidman is one of the first high-flying WCW wrestlers, he really went against type in that company that had been used to the slower, Southern-style offense. Even when he was a heel in The Flock, the crowd was always in awe of his aerial maneuvers, especially the innovative-at-the-time Shooting Star Press. He went for it after making a short comeback and the crowd popped hard, but Whipwreck knocked him off the top rope to the outside. Mikey brings out his ECW roots with some good fighting over the barricade and in the crowd, he does a flip over the barricade and lands on his back on the concrete. He hits a drop toe hold on Kidman, who goes face first into the steel steps.
Leading up to this PPV, on ECW Hardcore TV, Joey Styles berated WCW for having an Uncensored PPV (which they’d been having since 1995) and scoffing at the notion of WCW being “hardcore” in any way, but if this first match is any indication, they will do a damn good job of living up to the event’s billing. The crowd isn’t going wild for this match but they’re definitely into it, and solidly behind Kidman. As the match gets closer to it’s conclusion, we get a lot of high-impact and high-risk moves in the ring along with pinfall attempts by both men. The crowd goes nuts as Kidman hits a face buster and sets up the Shooting Star Press, and there’s a huge pop when he nails it for the win.
Excellent action in and out of the ring. Amazing how good Mikey Whipwreck is, considering he never trained as a wrestler before joining ECW as a member of the ring crew. This was a terrific opener and will be tough to follow.
Match Rating: Eight Gold Medals
HARLEM STREET FIGHT: STEVIE RAY VS. VINCENT
For supremacy of the NWO Black and White faction. Vincent/Virgil is as much of a leech as Brutus Beefcake. I can’t see any way Vincent wins this match. The match quickly makes it’s way into the crowd and Vincent is thrown down a few flights of steps covered with folding chairs. Steve Ray dominates back in the ring as expected until Vincent hits a low blow. Horace Hogan throws a slapjack into Vincent, but he misses and Steve Ray hits a move that looks like the Pedigree for the win. The audience didn’t seem to care about this match, nor did I. Nobody gave a shit about which insignificant guy gets to pretend to be in charge of the NWO Black and White. It was a decent match but seemed like filler.
Match Rating: Three Gold Medals
Mark Madden is interviewing Chris Jericho in the internet area ahead of his match vs. Perry Saturn as they promo wcw.com. If you type that into the address bar now, it redirects to wwe.com’s WCW area.
KEVIN NASH W/LEX LUGER & LIZ VS. REY MYSTERIO
Mysterio comes out to an awful rap song by Konnan. WCW insists on showing the full music video on every Nitro and Thunder. If you dare:
Mysterio lost his mask in a tag match with Konnan vs. Nash & Hall at SuperBrawl, and since then he’s defeated much larger men. He turned down an offer by Nash to join the NWO, and Nash attacked the shit out of him from behind backstage to set up this rematch. It’s gonna be brutal and Rey is gonna take a ton of punishment, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him pick up another shocking win.
Nash tosses him around like a rag doll at first, but gets overconfident, and crowd goes nuts when Rey hits a bulldog and then what looks like a springboard Fame-Ass-Er from the apron. A spinning wheel kick knocks Nash out of the ring and has him dazed with the crowd on fire, but Nash recovers soon enough to catch a baseball slide attempt and throw Rey into the steel guardrail.
With Nash back in control, Mysterio is back on the pain train. Nash’s cocky and taunting attitude makes him so each to hate. Mysterio counters Nash and gets a two count then starts making his comeback, but as Nash distracts the ref, Lex Luger trips up Mysterio before Nash hits a big boot. Nash follows it up with a Jackknife Powerbomb for the win.
It was a classic heel win as Nash needed Luger’s help to beat a guy half his size. The crowd was super hot for this match and the action was really good. Mysterio gets ragdolled and does some great selling, and, a shocking statement, Nash sold really well for Mysterio.
Match Rating: Seven Gold Medals
HANDICAP MATCH: JERRY FLYNN VS. ERNEST “THE CAT” MILLER & SONNY ONOO
Miller bills himself as the greatest karate champion of all-time. Sonny Onoo is his obnoxious little manager. Flynn thinks he’s better than Miller at karate. There’s your background. If it sounds boring and uninteresting, it is. Sonny stands on the apron and is too afraid to get into the ring. Onoo finally gets involved when Flynn is down on the outside. He and Miller double team him. He still refuses to get into the ring. Miller, constantly referring to himself as “The Greatest”, dishes out a ton of punishment in the ring to Flynn.
Maybe the match is more interesting than I thought, because Miller gets a big reaction to his taunts, he has a ton of heat with the crowd. I’m sure they also want to see Onoo get smashed. Onoo finally tags in, but as soon as Flynn makes some recovery he scampers away and manages to get to Miller. After Miller gets some more punishment on Flynn and tags Onoo back in, Flynn surprises Onoo and gets the pin. I was surprised how into the match the crowd was, and the technique and action was pretty good.
Match Rating: Five Gold Medals
TRIANGLE MATCH: BAM BAM BIGELOW VS. HAK VS. RAVEN W/CHASTITY
Hak, as usual, comes to the ring wrapped in barbed wire. Raven comes out with his “sister” Chastity. After the match starts, Chastity goes to the back and returns with a cart full of weapons. And I mean FULL. Garbage cans, Singapore canes, boat oars, an ironing board, a mailbox, you name it, and they’re all throw into the middle of the ring and put to use immediately. With all the drinking and weapon shots that Hak/Sandman has had in his life, I don’t know how he has any brain cells left.
This is pretty much a stereotypical New Jack ECW match. And that’s not a bad thing. Bischoff said on his 83 Weeks podcast (which is awesome BTW, check it out) that he hated gimmick/hardcore matches because it didn’t involve actual wrestling. My take is that it has it’s place in sports entertainment/wrestling as long as it’s not overdone. ECW didn’t have rules and every match could have been just weapons, but they had tremendous wrestling as well as hardcore spots.
This match barely has any wrestling at all. It does have Raven driving a boat oar into the Bigelow’s and Hak’s balls. Hak does hit a Frankensteiner on Raven and the announce team is amazed that a move was done without a weapon being used. Hak then immediately grabs a table and the crowd, as they’ve been doing for the whole match, chants “ECW”.
An unplanned moment as Bigelow powerbombs Hak onto the table from the second rope, but the table does not break. Thinking quickly, Bigelow just does a quick body splash onto Hak, and the table breaks. God damn, both of those things had to hurt so much. As Bigelow grabs two more tables, Schiavone quips “There must have been a buffet here before the show.”
These tables are way too strong and terrible for wrestlers’ use, because Raven and Sandman through Bigelow towards a table set up in the corner, and it BARELY broke a little bit. Chastity gets some duct tape for Raven, who tapes Hak’s hands behind him and bashes his remaining brains in with a chair. Bigelow hits Raven with Greetings from Asbury Park but sets up another table instead of going for the pin. He puts the table on top of Raven and goes for a top rope moonsault, but Chastity sprays him with a fire extinguisher. Chastity turns on Raven, sprays him with a fire extinguisher, headbutts him in the balls, and Hak pins him for the win.
I’m sure we’re gonna find out Hak is fucking Chastity, but who cares. No matter who is banging who, this match was amazingly entertaining.
Match Rating: Nine Gold Medals
WCW WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP “LUMBERJACK WITH STRAPS” MATCH: DEAN MALENKO & CHRIS BENOIT VS. CURT HENNIG & BARRY WINDHAM (c)
Lumberjacks for this match include Norman Smiley, Chris Adams, Prince Iaukea, Hugh Morris, Kenny Kaos, Kendall Windham, Meng, Bobby Duncum Jr., and The Barbarian. This is a rematch of the finals of a tag team tournament, won by Hennig & Windham at SuperBrawl when Windham choked out Malenko with his belt. Barry Windham’s brother Kendall is one of the lumberjacks, and Tenay points out the Hennig winked at him as the match starts.
“The Enforcer” Arn Anderson makes his way down right at the start of the match. Anderson is the leader of the new Horsemen, of which Malenko and Benoit are a part. Anderson says something to lumberjack Chris Adams, and Adams leaves as Anderson takes his place. Hennig and Windham try to run but get whipped and thrown back in by the lumberjacks
Some match highlights:
- a bridging German suplex by Malenko that got a two count on Hennig
- a brutal knife-edge chop by Benoit that knocked Hennig on his ass
- Hennig having Malenko in a sleeper, Arn Anderson telling Malenko how close he was to the ropes, and Hennig continuously yelling “SHUT UP ANDERSON!”
- every time someone got thrown out of the ring and whipped with straps by the lumberjacks
- Malenko getting lifted up for a side suplex and delivering multiple rapid closed-fist punches to Barry Windham’s face, and getting suplexed anyway
- Benoit getting a hot tag and banging Hennig & Windham’s heads together
- the lumberjacks inevitably, finally, fighting each other
- Hennig hitting Malenko and Arn Anderson with his belt, followed by Anderson hitting Hennig with a tire iron
- Benoit hitting a diving headbutt following the tire iron shot for the win
We got new WCW World Tag Team champions as Arn Anderson celebrates with his fellow Horsemen. Another match where the crowd was super hot and the action was great. And a surprisingly well-booked finish, not something WCW was known for.
Match Rating: Seven Gold Medals
DOG COLLAR MATCH: CHRIS JERICHO W/RALPHUS VS. PERRY SATURN
Saturn claimed in the weeks prior that what he wore tonight would shock Marilyn Manson. He comes out wearing a dress made of chains, goth makeup, dark blue lips, and bright yellow/green contacts. Jericho is freaked out. He tries to make Ralphus take his place in the match, but Ralphus refuses. Jericho smacks him and kicks him out.
- Jericho getting out of the ring and trying to leave with the dog collar wrapped around his neck and attached to Saturn
- Saturn standing on the outside and using the chain to whip Jericho from the apron to hitting his face on the steel guardrail. No offense whatsoever for Jericho to this point
- Jericho sliding under Saturn on an Irish whip and pulling the chain up into Saturn’s nutsack; he finally takes control
- Jericho powerbombing Saturn from the apron into the ring and getting flipped over the ropes himself because of the chain
- Saturn using the chain to throw Jericho around by his neck multiple times
- Jericho putting the Lion Tamer on Saturn while Saturn pulls on the chain to choke Jericho, putting both men in a submission and forcing Jericho to break the hold before he passed out
- Jericho kicking out of Saturn’s finisher, the Death Valley Driver
- Saturn tries for a Frankensteiner, Jericho turns it into a top rope powerbomb for a two count
- Jericho unhooks the chain from Saturn, wrapped it around himself, missed a Lionsault
- after another missed Lionsault, Saturn hits another DVD for the win
Another tremendous match, another super hot crowd. They love this show, and for good reason. It’s been amazing.
Match Rating: Eight Gold Medals
WCW TELEVISION CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH: BOOKER T VS. SCOTT STEINER (c) W/BUFF BAGWELL
I wouldn’t be surprised to see the recently-returned Rick Steiner get involved in this match. Steiner keeps stalling at the start of the match, getting in and out of the ring and telling the ref to back Booker T up. Finally he gets in and they lock up.
- Steiner’s constant trash talk
- Buff Bagwell’s bright red wind pants
- Booker T nearly taking Steiner’s head off early with side kicks and clotheslines, while Steiner keeps rolling outside the ring out of frustration
- Buff Bagwell pulls Booker T off of a pin attempt, Booker throws Buff into the steel guardrail, Steiner does the same to Booker T, they fight into the crowd. Bagwell contributes by pouring a bottle of water onto Booker, which probably helped his recovery. Buff is a fucking idiot.
- Steiner goes for a cocky pin on Booker with one knee
- Bagwell choking Booker with cables
- Bagwell again, knocking Booker off the top rope, leading to a Steiner Superplex
- Bagwell brings in a chair to hit Booker, Booker ducks, Bagwell hits Steiner, Booker kicks the chair into Bagwell’s face, Booker pins Steiner to win the Television Championship
This was great storytelling and psychology with Booker basically having to beat two guys. He proves himself up to the task while Bagwell proves himself retarded. The fans might have been down a little bit for this match, but they’ve been so hot all night that I’m sure they’re a bit tired. I really liked the flow, the action, and, as I mentioned, the psychology. A new champ is always exciting, especially when it’s the face getting the win. I’m just surprised Rick Steiner didn’t show his face.
Match Rating: Nine Gold Medals
WCW WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP FIRST BLOOD BARBED WIRE STEEL CAGE MATCH: RIC FLAIR VS. HULK HOGAN (c)
IF RIC FLAIR WINS, HE IS NAMED WCW PRESIDENT FOR LIFE. IF HE LOSES, HE IS BANNED FROM WCW FOR LIFE.
Michael Buffer does his main event introductions as only he can. There is no door on the cage. There is no escape. Flair uses his power as president to tell the ref to stop the match at his discretion, not if one of them has a little scratch. It looks like a prison as the top of the cage is wrapped in barbed wire.
- A large portion of the chanting “Hogan! Hogan! Hogan!”
- A chop war in the corner between Flair and Hogan, actually won by Hogan. Hogan is well in control early
- Hogan putting Flair in the Figure Four
- Flair’s forehead is split open but the referee does not stop the match
- Hogan pulls down some of the razor wire and rubs Flair’s face on it, starts whipping Flair with his weight belt, then starts bouncing his face off the cage. Flair has done absolutely nothing thus far in the match
- Hogan Big Boot™ and Leg Drop®
- Flair pulling something like brass knuckles out of his knee pad and punching Hogan to take control of the match just before David Flair comes down with Tori Wilson. David turned on Ric at SuperBrawl. Ric kicked at David through the cage and spit at him before going back to work on Hogan. Flair in firm control now
- Flair WAS in firm control. Hogan Hulks Up© and hits another Leg Drop ®
- Hogan has Flair over his shoulder ready to launch him into the cage, Flair slips out, pushes Hogan into referee Charles Robinson, punches Hogan in the dick. Arn Anderson runs out, decks David Flair. Tori Wilson jumps on his back and he throws her off before giving Flair a tire iron. He blasts Hogan in the face with it, puts the Figure Four on Hogan, ref counts a quick three, Flair wins his 14th world championship.
Meh, I was hoping for a more back-and-forth match and more brutality. Flair kept getting thrown into the cage, but that got old after a little bit. Hogan Hulked Up© like a face. The ending was chaotic, which in this type of match, it should be. It was the part of the match I enjoyed the most. It wasn’t a bad match, but it wasn’t really good either, and disappointing as a main event, especially considering how great the rest of the show was.
Match Rating: Four Gold Medals
This was a terrific show, I have a bad feeling about where things go from here. Obviously I know that WCW is a sinking ship anyway, but the main event seemed to really plant the seeds for some bad stuff going forward. Also, where the fuck was Goldberg? Why didn’t Rick Steiner show up during the Television Title match? Where was Bret Hart? Where was Scott Hall with the United States Championship? Those things aren’t going to have an impact on my rating of the show overall, but they give you an idea of what a cluster fuck booking was in WCW.
Overall Show Rating: Seven Gold Medals
We’ll probably see some ECW reviews on here next. Until then, enjoy this, watch the event, and let me know what you think the show and my assessment of it.