June 20, 1992
So let me get this straight. I had to sit through the entire god awful undercard for WrestleWar, but this time around WCW opted to not include all the matches on the home video, despite the card looking much better. So the world needed to see Big Josh vs. Ricky Morton in full, but not Greg Valentine vs. Marcus Bagwell?
Cactus Jack . . . splats onto the exposed concrete a whole bunch of times.
Ricky Steamboat . . . proves for the millionth time why he’s one of the best of all time.
Ole Anderson . . . proves he’s an impartial referee, and ruins a perfectly good trios match in the process.
BRIAN PILLMAN © vs. SCOTTY FLAMINGO (WCW Light Heavyweight Title)
Whether he’s working as Raven, Scotty Flamingo, or Johnny Polo, there’s no question that Scotty knows how to get over his character and get the crowd going. His actual work in the ring is far from satisfying. His offense here is little more than punching, stomping, eye-raking, and choking. When he does do something other than that, it’s not anything that takes a great amount of skill to do, like his roll up reversal of Pillman’s short-arm scissors. This is his biggest win to date, and his brilliant move that led him to victory was to step aside and let Pillman go splat onto the ramp. When Pillman drags himself back in, Scotty finishes him off with a knee drop to the back. That’s *after* Pillman took a header onto the ramp.
What he lacks in offense though, Scotty makes up for with his bumping and selling. And being Pillman, Scotty always has ample chance to show that particular skill off. Pillman keeps this on the ground a surprising amount of time, and the early submissions targeting the arm look like something you’d expect out of Mutoh and Hase, rather than Pillman. Later on when Pillman gets sick of Flamingo and his constant use of the eye-rakes and choking, he starts handing it back, and there’s also a fun spot early on when Flamingo gets hung up in the ropes and Pillman just kicks him loose and lets him fall to the floor. Pillman’s knee does buckle underneath him a couple of times, whether it’s legit or just an attempt to give Scotty an opening, either way it doesn’t go anywhere. Pillman takes the ramp bump like a man, and had he not had to crawl into the ring, the KO sell from Scotty’s knee drop would have looked much better. Some obvious flaws aside, it’s still good look at what Pillman was able to bring to the table, even though it’s far from his best.
STING vs. CACTUS JACK (Falls Count Anywhere)
As fun as these matches can be, they don’t age very well. This isn’t so much a wrestling match as it is a bumping exhibition, and does anyone want to take a wild guess as to whom does the heavy lifting? Much like Cactus and Van Hammer’s match from January, the ratio of the bumps and the degree of them isn’t even close. Of course at least this time it makes sense for Cactus to take the big bumps, and there isn’t any need for Abdullah run-ins. Sting takes a few bumps into the guardrail, one of which is a Stinger splash, with plenty of protection from Mick. Compared with Cactus taking several bumps onto the concrete and ramp. Mick even tries another sunset flip onto the concrete, and this time it actually works and gets him a two-count. The lariat off the top onto the ramp that Sting uses to pick up the win has Sting mostly landing on his feet.
There isn’t anything wrong with the ‘bumping exhibition’ that this match is, but considering that there were two easy points of storytelling available and neither one was taken advantage of to any great degree, it’s disappointing. The obvious one is Sting’s rib. Considering the feud with Vader was still ongoing, and that Cactus used several chair shots and the elbow off the apron to weaken them, Sting could have put them over a bit. The other is Mick’s knee, which he hurts very early into the match with the elbow off the apron. Mick sells it throughout the match, but Sting doesn’t really take advantage of it very much. There’s the chair shot to it that leads to the Scorpion Deathlock attempt, which is nice. But other than that, it’s largely ignored. If your goal is to simply see how ‘out of his mind’ Cactus Jack used to be, then you can’t go wrong. There is one thing that Ventura was right about though. There is no doubt that Harley Race was watching this with a big smile on his face.
RICK RUDE vs. RICKY STEAMBOAT (Thirty Minute Iron Man Match)
Considering the participants, it’s not a surprise that this is good. But the iron man rules put some restraints on them, and create some goofy moments, and even though it’s good, it still comes off feeling like it could have been much better. Steamboat attacking right off the bat is fine, and he does a nice job of putting the hurt on Rude’s midsection, but Steamboat getting the early advantage won’t build any heat toward the finish, and the big offensive transition to the match is Steamboat blindly charging into a knee, to give Rude the first fall. Rude at least grabs the tights when he makes the pin, to cover it up a bit. The announcers try to put it over as Steamboat getting hit in the jaw and getting knocked out, but it still looks weird. Rude hitting the Rude Awakening right afterwards for a second fall, however was perfect. Then he gets himself disqualified for going off the top, but uses the damage done to Steamboat, to score a quick third fall. And he does all this while still selling his ribs, and Steamboat is selling like he’s all but dead. Rude works with some rest holds for a while after that. It’d normally be a knock on him for just killing time, but that’s what these matches are pretty much designed to do.
The problem though is that using the Rude Awakening so early on winds up causing several odd moments later, like Steamboat’s kick out and reversal of the move that comes later on. It also makes Steamboat surviving Rude’s piledriver attempt look strange. Now Rude’s piledriver never did get him many wins, but considering that Steamboat had already taken some damage to the neck, it doesn’t look right. Even odder was that Rude had taken little damage to the neck, but was pinned after a Tombstone. Other than that one, Steamboat gets his other two falls from a backslide, and bridging back on Rude’s sleeper. So in effect, Steamboat never needed his finisher to actually score the win. Steamboat’s final fall from bridging back on Rude’s sleeper is an especially nice moment. It makes perfect sense for Rude to go with it, and the way Steamboat actually goes about bridging it back, Rude letting the hold go wouldn’t have mattered. The final stretch is a thing of beauty, with Rude suddenly having to play ‘beat the clock’ and going for pins after even the simplest moves, while the crowd is going nuts the whole time. Time runs out and Rude leaves the match with his U.S. Title, and the fact that he more or less cost himself the match by getting himself disqualified early on. The only things that really hold this back are the goofy moments that the Iron Man concept caused them to have to do. ***1/2
BARRY WINDHAM/DUSTIN RHODES/NIKITA KOLOFF vs. ARN ANDERSON/STEVE AUSTIN/BOBBY EATON
Just when you think it’s impossible for WCW to screw something up, they go and screw up a simple southern tag match. Of all the matches to use an excuse to show off the top rope rule, the southern tag with a bunch of good workers (and Koloff) isn’t the one. At the very least they could have built up to Ole Anderson (the referee) disqualifying Arn for coming off the top, with Arn cheating here and there, and Ole either not catching it or possibly letting it go, so it’s uncertain whether or not he’s giving his cousin special treatment. Instead Ole more or less rides the Dangerous Alliance’s ass the whole time, and when things break down, Arn comes off the top for the DQ. The match itself looked like it was coming along pretty nicely, with Rhodes and Windham both looking really good, and all three heels bumping and selling like crazy. There isn’t much of a control segment on the babyfaces though. Arn getting Dustin in trouble by ramming him headfirst into Eaton was funny, and Dustin’s rebound on the Stun Gun looked nice, but it was right after that when things broke down leading to the stupid finish.
RICK STEINER/SCOTT STEINER © vs. STEVE WILLIAMS/TERRY GORDY (WCW Tag Team Titles)
As a big fan of tag team wrestling, I’ve got no problem with the show being headlined by a tag team title match. But the main event shouldn’t be booked to go to a thirty minute draw. It’s understandable with them having a match at the “upcoming” Clash of Champions (actually taped before this show) in the NWA Tag Title Tournament, but it’s not the sort of match that should be ending a PPV, more like something that should end WCW Saturday Night. The match itself is structured almost like a 2/3 fall match. The first fall is a nice little mix of working the mat, and brawling, very similar to their Clash match actually. The match also has a similar mentality to the Steiners match with Vader/Hughes back in January, with size not really factoring into things at all. There isn’t a wildcard though either, like teamwork in the January match. It’s a stalemate.
The second part of the match comes when the MVC starts working over Scott’s knee (which leads to their undoing at the Clash). Gordy using Chono’s finisher is cool, considering the match is between the top gaijin team in NJPW and the top gaijin team in AJPW. Scott’s selling of the knee is also good, but there aren’t many ways that they can work it over and keep it interesting. All the MVC really has at their disposal are various crab holds. It’s technically sound, but it gets old after a bit. When Scott finally gets to tag out is when the fun really starts though. Rick had shown in the early stages that he could take a beating, when Doc had planted him with the backdrop. And now with the clock ticking and Scott not being in a position to help, he’s on his own. Doc and Gordy put a good sized beating on him too. In a great moment, Gordy uses the Bam-Bam-Slam and covers, only for Randy Anderson to tell him he’s not legal in the match. When Doc gets in and covers, Rick barely kicks out. Doc also has a chance to win it with the Oklahoma Stampede, but waits a bit too long before he does it, and Rick escapes it. Rick tags out with a minute or so to go, and it’s a sprint, like the Iron Man match. It’d have been nice if Scott had sold his leg while he was in there. Or if Doc had clipped it before the time ran out to explain why he couldn’t finish off Gordy. Instead Scott hits the Frankensteiner and time runs out, making the MVC saved by the bell. Granted this finish is better than a double disqualification. But it doesn’t really make either team look good. Doc and Gordy couldn’t beat the Steiners even when one spent a good portion of the match hurt. And the Steiners couldn’t finish off Doc and Gordy before time ran out. ***
Conclusion: It’s not a ‘bad’ show in the least, there’s just so many instances where there was room for improvement. There are plenty of things to like about the show, and reasons to enjoy each of the matches. So I can mildly recommend it.