WCW SATURDAY NIGHT
October 3, 1992 (taped 09/21/92)
Wrestling on television during this time period was different from it is today. There were only one or two “competitive” matches, and the rest of the show comprising jobber squash matches. You usually had to wait for PPV shows and Clash of Champions specials to see anything important, but every rule does have an exception.
Shane Douglas . . . looks to be on the verge of a push to superstardom.
Mike Freeman . . . gets squashed, but looks much better than his opponent.
Dustin Rhodes . . . bulldogs his way to a huge win and aforementioned exception.
BRIAN PILLMAN vs. BRAD ARMSTRONG
As good of a job as Pillman did here playing the heel, the match suffered a bit from Pillman holding himself back and playing heel instead of working a match. Pillman taking cheap shots at Brad’s knee was a given, but Pillman was already maintaining control of things without a problem, so there wasn’t a need for going there in the first place. Brad’s sell job of his knee isn’t really anything special, and despite Ross saying Brad has trouble climbing up top, he seems to do it without a problem. The finish (and really the whole match) is clean, and it’s not Pillman cheating, but rather him being more aggressive. It’d have been nice to see Brad’s knee play into the finish though, Pillman punting Armstrong in the gut and cradling him for three, doesn’t really say much about Brad, and doesn’t lend any credence to the theory that a 100% Brad Armstrong could give Pillman a run for his money.
VINNIE VEGAS/DIAMOND DALLAS PAGE vs. MARCUS BAGWELL/SHANE DOUGLAS
This is more fun to watch knowing how all four would turn out (and the fact that both of the teams would go on to become WCW Tag Team Champions nearly ten years down the road). None of them had much experience at this point, and the match is fairly basic, without much in the way of interesting offense from anyone. Page is fun early on with his stooging and overselling, but when Page and Nash take over, it’s easy to stop paying attention. Ross and Anderson putting the hard sell on Douglas’ belly to belly (and the fact that Magnum TA taught it to him) explains the abrupt finish, but that’s the only thing about the match that really sticks out.
VAN HAMMER vs. MIKE FREEMAN
Okay, disregard my previous comment about Ross giving the hard sell, helping to explain anything. Ross gives the same sort of hard sell to Van Hammer’s improvement as a wrestler, when he does even less than Page and Nash did in their match. I’ve seen New Japan rookies use more variety of offense in their matches. Simple and effective do go hand in hand, but the only reason it’s effective is because of Freeman’s bumping and selling. Hammer using a slingshot suplex to get the win doesn’t even garner a reference to Tully Blanchard, despite the fact that his longtime tag team partner is doing color commentary with Jim Ross.
THE HALLOWEEN HAVOC CONTROL CENTER
A quick rundown of the card so far. It includes “The new World Tag Team Champions” Barry Windham and Dustin Rhodes, taking on The Steiners. Nothing says “a smart business move” like giving away the result of your TV main event before it airs. There’s also a clip of a Simmons/Windham vs. Roberts/Barbarian match from the previous week, to continue the buildup to Simmons vs. Barbarian at the PPV. It ends in a DQ with Simmons getting laid out. You’d think Simmons doing the job in a tag match would be a better buildup, but that’s WCW for you.
RON SIMMONS vs. KENNY KENDAL
There isn’t any mention of Ron defending the title here, so I’ll give WCW the benefit of the doubt on this one. Unlike when Goldberg was defending the World Title against jobbers six years later. Total squash here, with Ron really putting the hurt on, before he finishes off Kenny with the spine buster. Because he’s angry from what happened last week when the Barbarian laid him out.
THE BARBARIAN vs. RICK BRAVO
Another brutal squash. The Barbarian putting on the hurt and does the usual stuff that heels do in squashes before he kicks Rick’s face down his throat. Apparently scrapping this and the last match (which are about two minutes long combined) and simply running another angle to continue the buildup made too much sense.
BARRY WINDHAM/DUSTIN RHODES vs. TERRY GORDY/STEVE WILLIAMS © (WCW/NWA Tag Team Titles)
Although this is a big improvement over the NWA Tag Title match between these two teams, there’s still some room for improvement, thanks to the soon-to-be-former champions. Rhode and Windham make it clear how prepared they are for the match, they keep a solid focus on Gordy’s left arm to control the action. Windham and Rhodes also both use their speed to avoid Doc sneak attacking them as well as use their speed to allow Gordy any chance of getting control. When Doc is in, the champions don’t fair much better. He’s still outsmarted several times by both Windham and Rhodes, and can’t get much of any offense going.
The champions’ two control segments on Rhodes and Windham both come on the heels of the same thing, and it speaks for who the better team really is. The control segments both come on the heels of Barry and Dustin making a mistake, rather than anything the champions did. Doc and Gordy on offense are better here than it was at the PPV, because they incorporate more brawling and power into the mix, rather than just laying on the mat. There is some work on the mat in the form of Gordy’s STF and Doc’s Cobra Clutch, but neither of them is held on for any great length of time. The offense is better but still on the dull side, it seemed like they were holding back in order to make the win seem more believable. The finish is still a bit awkward, but doesn’t feel tacked on like the previous match did. Gordy going up top totally gave away the superplex, since Gordy never goes up there, and Doc and Rhodes’ mis communication concerning Doc trying to knock Rhodes off the apron, results in Rhodes standing there for a good ten seconds doing nothing waiting for Doc. But Rhodes sneaking in the bulldog behind Peewee Anderson’s back, to get the win (and a monestrous pop) puts over both teams. The new champs are put over for thinking ahead and taking advantage of an opening, and the fact that it took both the superplex and the bulldog to finally get the win is a huge tribute to Gordy. It’s awesome to see the faces get the big win, but it’d have been that much more awesome had Doc and Gordy gone all out and made the win seem more like a stroke of luck or a fluke. ***1/4
Conclusion: You only hunt down shows like this for one match, and it sure as hell isn’t the Vegas Connection vs. Bagwell and Douglas. The main event is historically significant as well as decent, with room for improvement. While it’s certainly not mandatory type viewing, there have been much worse matches that get pimped a lot more.