The SmarK Retro Rant For WCW WrestleWar 91


The SmarK Retro Rant for WCW WrestleWar 91

– This is another one of those rants where the show is great but the original rant (done more than 5 years ago now) is so bad that I didn’t feel right about keeping it up as the archived version any longer. So lucky you, you get a new one!

– Live from Phoenix, AZ.

– Your hosts are JR & Dusty.

– Opening match, World Six-Man title: Ricky Morton, Tommy Rich & JYD v. Big Cat & The State Patrol. Big Cat is better known in later years as Mr. Hughes. The whole concept of six-man titles was something I could never get my head around – it always seemed to be more created for the Road Warriors to hold a title without having the tag belts than anything else. Dusty notes that the champs are “loaded and ready”. Well with Tommy he’s half-right at least. JYD starts with Big Cat and they slug it out, which goes badly for Cat. James Earl Wright comes in and gets worked over by Morton, who hiptosses him and starts with the armdrags. JR always calls the overhead armdrag a “Japanese armdrag”, but I’ve seen tons of Japanese wrestling and I’ve never seen anyone do one of those. Rich comes in with the Drunken Bodyslam and Wright comes back with his own, although probably not a drunken one. Buddy Lee Parker misses an elbow, but works Rich over with shoulderblocks. Rich comes back with armdrags. Parker gets caught in the wrong corner and double-teamed, and Morton gets a series of atomic drops on the heels. Back to the armdrags. JYD pounds away until Big Cat comes back in and he wants the test of strength. Dog takes him down and drops a headbutt to win, but Cat pounds away on him with his own headbutt. Morton comes in, but gets caught with a cheapshot and plays well, you know. Wright stomps away and the Patrol double-teams him for one. Cat drops an elbow for two. A dropkick (!) gets two. Je stomps away in the corner, but misses another elbow (apparently having exhausted his moveset) but Morton can’t get away from the heel corner. Parker powerslams him for two. The Patrol uses a Bushwhacker headbutt into a Parker bulldog into a Wright elbowdrop for two. Double slam into a double elbow gets two. That’s some quality double-teaming. Cat comes in and blocks a leapfrog with a backbreaker, for two. Cat lures Rich into a drunken charge, allowing triple-teaming in the heel corner on Morton. Parker hits the chinlock, but misses a blind charge and Ricky makes the hot tag to JYD. Headbutts abound. Thump on Parker gets two. Morton then scoots in for another cover, which finishes at 9:52. Solidly entertaining six-man opener that the crowd was way into. ***

– Tony interviews the York Foundation (including Terri, back when she wore clothes), as they predict that Taylor beats Tom Zenk in less than 15:28.

– Brad Armstrong v. Bobby Eaton. JR notes that Brad has a brother fighting in Iraq, and that would turn out to be Road Dogg. Weird piped-in “Bobby” chants during Eaton’s entrance music, ala Goldberg but without the subtlety. Especially since he’s theoretically a heel here. Eaton attacks to start and grabs a headlock, and they criss-cross into an Armstrong headscissors and armdrag. Brad stays on the arm, but Eaton slugs him in the corner to escape. Brad comes back with a monkey-flip into another armbar. Dusty’s analysis of the armdrag (involving heads spinning around and ears ending up on the wrong side of the head) sounds more like recapping a Picasso painting than a wrestling match. Bobby tosses him and they brawl outside, but Eaton hits the post and they head back in. Brad goes back to the arm and holds the armbar, but Eaton makes the ropes. They go for the test of strength instead, which Eaton gets the best of, but Armstrong does the Ricky Morton “walk up the shoulders” escape, into a cross-body that gets two. I love that move. The crowd would go nuts if Rey Mysterio started doing that. Back to the armbar. Eaton slugs out of it and tries a slingshot suplex, but Armstrong counters with his own suplex. Back to the arm. Brad rolls him up, but Eaton counters with a lariat. That gets two. Backbreaker gets two. Elbow gets two. That was kinda nasty, too, as he dropped it right on the forehead. Eaton hits the chinlock and Armstrong fights out, so Bobby knees him in the face and gets a sweet slingshot backbreaker. He actually whipped him into the ropes chest-first, while holding onto the tights, and then slingshotted him into a backdrop suplex position before landing the move as a backbreaker. That gets two. Back to the chinlock, and Eaton lets him escape before elbowing him to the floor. Bobby follows and drops him on the railing, and back in he hits the abdominal stretch. Using the ropes, of course. The ref sees it and breaks the hold, allowing Brad to make the comeback and dodge an Eaton charge. High dropkick and Russian legsweep gets two. He puts his head down, however, and Eaton finishes him with the neckbreaker and Alabama Jam at 12:50. Ah, the days when midcard acts with no gimmick would get 13 minutes just for the purpose of getting someone over. What a concept. ***1/2

– Miss A & Miki Handa v. Mami Kitamura & Itsuki Yamasaki. It’s a big brawl to start and Yamasaki controls Miss A with a pair of flying wristlocks, but she comes back with pair of stiff kicks in the corner. Handa comes in with a slam on Kitamura that gets two. Miss A with a suplex for two. She works on the leg, but Kitamura comes out of the corner with a flying elbow and makes the tag to Yamasaki. Dropkick sets up a double-arm suplex for two. Kitamura with a backdrop suplex for two. Handa comes in, but gets cradled for two. She comes back with a vertical suplex for two. Kitamura dropkicks her into the corner and then bulldogs her out, and Yamasaki comes in with a rolling headbutt and a side salto for two. Miss A lays in BRUTAL high kicks in the corner, and a roundhouse kick that puts Yamasaki down and out. They opt for a test of strength, but Yamasaki leaps over and into a sunset flip for two. Miss A with a northern lights suplex for two. Miss A gets a sick backdrop suplex for two. Handa with a fisherman’s suplex for two. Kitamura manages to get a tag, but she’s double-teamed with a suplex. Yamasaki gets back in with a missile dropkick on both girls, and a sunset flip on Miss A gets two. Miss A comes back with a lariat for two. Yamasaki finishes with a reverse rollup at 6:52. Looked like they were having nerves out there, but some of shots were brutal. **1/2

– Buddy Landell v. Dustin Rhodes. This was, of course, roughly 3 years before Dustin was any good. They slug it out to start, and Dustin gets a quick backdrop and dropkick for two. Buddy hides behind the ref to buy time, and then knees him in the gut to take over. Chops in the corner, but Dustin fires back with elbows and a lariat for two. He goes to the arm, but Buddy slugs away again and goes up, which results in getting slammed off. Match is going nowhere fast. They do some stalling and Dustin misses a charge, allowing Landell to stomp away on the shoulder. He slugs him down for two. He works on the arm and does a lot of raking the eyes, which is a smart move but doesn’t make for an exciting match. Slam gets two. They mess up an irish whip spot and Buddy gets the MAIN EVENT SLEEPER, but Dustin reverses. Buddy takes him into the turnbuckles to break, but runs into a big boot. Dustin comes back with another clothesline and dumps Landell, and they head back in right away for a press slam and bulldog that finishes at 6:32. Weak finish, and Rhodes was all over the map. *

– Jack Victory & Rip Morgan v. The Young Pistols. The Royal Family attacks to start, and counters a doe-see-doe with a pair of clotheslines, leaving Tracy two-on-one with them. Armstrong comes in with a cross-body on both heels, however, and the heels bail. We lose the lights and they have to use spotlights to light the ring (ah, WCW), as Rip Morgan hammers on Smothers out of a wristlock and they work off a headlock. The lights appear to be fixed. Smothers brings Rip into his corner and the Pistols double-team him with a double-dropkick and send the heels running again. Back in, Morgan hammers Steve Armstrong, and Jack Victory comes in but walks into an armdrag. Victory overpowers him a couple of times and they trade headlocks, but the Pistols double-team with a shoulderblock that gets two. Smothers goes to the arm again and the Pistols double-team him, but Armstrong misses a cross-body and lands on his face, putting the heels in control. Morgan stomps away and they work him over in the corner, and an elbow gets two. They take turns hammering him down and Victory slugs him into the corner, but runs into a boot. Hot tag Smothers, who superkicks everyone and gets a flying elbow on Morgan. A cheapshot turns the tide, however, and they work him over on the floor and post him. Well, so much for that rally. Back in, Victory gets some good punches and Morgan hits the bearhug. Victory comes in and does his own. Smothers keeps fighting out, so the Royal Family keeps switching off. Smart tag wrestling. Morgan whips Smothers into a vicious lariat that gets two. Morgan gets an elbow while Victory goes after Armstrong, but Armstrong dropkicks them to break up a double-suplex, and Smothers falls on top for the pin at 12:01. Match was a bit long and the ending kinda abrupt, but it was standard tag team formula and done well. ** Sadly Victory wouldn’t gain a personality until 10 years after it was too late to do anything with him.

– Tony interviews new Freebirds manager DDP, who haterizes on Teddy Long and draws him out for a confrontation. Wonder why Teddy hasn’t resurrected “Homie Don’t Play Dat” as a catchphrase?

– Terry Taylor v. Tom Zenk. This is no-DQ, stemming from TV matches between them. Taylor bails to start, and back in he grabs a headlock but gets dropkicked. They slug it out, and Taylor takes another powder. Back in, Zenk wins another slugfest and Taylor bails again. Back in, Zenk works a headlock and a shoulderblock gets two. Back to the headlock. Taylor makes the ropes and bails again. Dusty speculates that he’s getting his hair fixed. Back in, Taylor slugs away while JR explains “staunch” to Dusty. Zenk comes back with a backdrop and gets two. Back to the headlock. That goes on for a while, until Taylor headbutts out of it and into a backdrop suplex. They head out and Taylor chokes him out with the TV cable, allowing Zenk to do his goofy facials. Back in, they slug it out, won by Taylor with a thumb to the eye, and a backbreaker gets two. Zenk gets a sunset flip for two, but Taylor clotheslines him down again and goes to a rear chinlock. It would be more convincing if the miracle computer that York carried around was actually TURNED ON. Zenk dumps Taylor to escape, and they brawl outside, which ends with Zenk hitting the railing. Back in, Taylor gets two. Kneedrop gets two. Another clothesline gets two. Zenk comes back with a neckbreaker and the superkick, which gets two. Powerslam gets two. Enzuigiri and Zenk goes up, but York distracts the ref while Zenk gets a bodypress for nothing. Taylor rolls him up for the pin at 10:59. Taylor spent the whole match doing his exaggerated heel mannerisms to make sure the fans knew who to boo, and it really dragged the match down a lot. Plus I hate that cheap schoolboy finish. **

– Paul E. Dangerously interviews El Gigante, making the usual racist comments before getting his ass kicked.

– Stan Hansen v. Big Van Vader. This was well before Vader meant anything in the US, and I believe was just there to promote a rematch in Japan. Big brawl to start on the rampway, and Stan brings him back in with a clothesline. Hansen stomps away, but walks into a clothesline from Vader that gets two. Corner splash and elbow gets two. We hit the chinlock as Hansen’s tobacco spews all over the place. Vader dumps him and they brawl outside, which Vader wins. Back in, he slugs away in the corner, but misses a charge and Hansen suplexes him for two. Elbow gets two. They head out again and start brawling with whatever objects aren’t tied down, and Dusty’s right into it. Back in, Stan slugs away and they head out, where Vader drops Hansen onto the railing. Back in, Vader stomps away, but Hansen pulls him out and jumps on his arm. Back in again, they slug it out until the ref gets in the middle and calls a double-DQ at 6:21. Crowd was just getting into the potentially crazy brawl, too. *1/2 They keep fighting all the way to the back.

– US title match: Lex Luger v. Dan Spivey. This is the final appearance of the classic 80s US title belt, which is the one they should have based the new design on, rather than whatever nightmare Vince McMahon had to inspire the monstrosity shown on Smackdown. They fight over a lockup to start and Spivey slugs him in the corner, but gets backdropped. Luger overpowers him and gets a clothesline, but Spivey calmly pounds him down again. An atomic drop is countered with a backdrop suplex by Luger, which gets two. Spivey charges and hits boot, and Luger slugs him down and hiptosses him, but misses a cross-body and lands in the other ring. Spivey suplexes him back in and gets a tombstone for two. Neckbreaker gets two. We hit the chinlock momentarily, and Spivey opts for a DDT that gets two. Spivey chokes him out but Luger makes the comeback, only to get headbutted down again. Spivey gets the corner clothesline for two. Luger rolls him up for two, but Spivey kicks him down and lays them into the back. Luger blocks a suplex and gets his own, but Spivey goes up with a flying elbow that gets two. Not a great one, but geez, the guy’s HUGE. Neckbreaker gets two. Spivey grabs a legscissors to keep Luger down, and the big boot gets two. Piledriver is blocked by Luger, but he keeps trying and gets it for two. Luger makes the comeback and no-sells Spivey’s punches, but Spivey gets a belly-to-belly for two. We hit the chinlock again as Luger makes the big comeback, but walks into an armdrag. Spivey overpowers Luger, but gets dumped onto the top rope with a hotshot. Luger fights back and goes up with a flying clothesline, and a powerslam. Spivey dumps Luger to buy time, but Lex sunset flips in, which Spivey blocks with a punch. They clothesline each other and slug it out on the mat, which Luger wins. Another collision and both are out, but Luger makes it up and heads up to the top, only to get slammed off by Spivey, but he uses the Steamboat reversal for the pin at 12:49 to retain. Spivey absolutely worked his ass off there and carried Luger to one of his best non-Flair, non-Steamboat power matches. ***1/2

– Luger heads over to get presented with the new US title belt (not the one that was retired in 2001), but Nikita Koloff clocks him with it to declare himself back in the game. Sadly changes in management and plans would render that feud a dead issue soon enough.

– WCW World tag title: Doom v. The Freebirds. This is one of the most historically significant matches in wrestling history, and not in a good way. For those who don’t why, here’s the story. 11 days before this show, fans at a TV taping for the Saturday show watched the Steiner Brothers wrestling the Freebirds for the World tag titles? And indeed, the Steiners won the belts, despite the Birds not actually being the champions yet. Not to ruin the surprise, but the Freebirds won the titles here, making them the only champions in wrestling history to have a negative title reign, at -11 days to be exact. PWI avoided the whole kerfluffle by recognizing the title change as of the airdate. Oliver Humperdink takes over as the Birds manager here, leaving DDP free to introduce the world to the Diamond Studd at the next PPV. Simmons pounds on Hayes to start and gets a spinebuster for two. Charge hits boot and Hayes bulldogs him for two. Ron powerslams him, as well as Garvin, and gets two. The Birds bail, and back in Garvin tries it against Reed. Jimmy pounds away and Reed casually clotheslines him, but Garvin gets a sunset flip for two. Hayes comes in and gets press-slammed, as does Garvin. Hayes slugs Reed in mid-move, however, to break it up. Reed ignores that and gets a backbreaker on Garvin, and a double-arm suplex for two. Simmons works on the back with a legdrop and headbutts, and Reed works him over on the floor. Back in, Simmons slugs him down, but Reed puts his head down and gets DDTd by Garvin. Jimmy can’t make the tag, however, and Simmons gets the MAIN EVENT SPINEBUSTER for two. Powerslam gets two. Everyone fights while the ref is talking to Humperdink, but Reed uses an international object and hits Simmons by mistake, giving Garvin the pin and the title at 6:57. Talk about your short-lived celebrations, though *1/4 Doom splits for good afterwards.

– Wargames: Sid Vicious, Barry Windham, Ric Flair & Larry Zbyszko v. Sting, Brian Pillman, Rick Steiner & Scott Steiner. Pillman’s shoulder is all taped up, due (kayfabe-wise) to a Horsemen attack covered in the pre-match video. Pillman starts with Windham and gets a flying clothesline with the good arm, and uses the roof of the cage for leverage as he takes Windham down with a rana. He chops away in the corner, and headfakes Windham into taking a missile dropkick. He misses a splash, however, but comes back with a low blow. All’s fair in love and Wargames. Barry hits the cage and starts the blood flowing early, so Brian gives him some extra treatment on the cage. Jawbreaker and he bites the cut and hammers it in the corner. Hiptoss and he goes ground and pound, and back into the cage goes Windham. Pillman goes up with a flying clothesline and another jawbreaker, and he tosses Windham into the second ring and into the cage again. Windham is just selling like nuts for Pillman here. Spinkick puts Windham down and Pillman goes to work on the leg, but Windham comes back and slugs it out with him. Windham tries a piledriver, but Pillman reverses and comes off the top with another shot. The first period expires and the heels win the coin toss (duh), so Flair is in next. They exchange chops, which Pillman WINS, but the Horsemen double-team him and send him into the cage shoulder-first. Windham spikes him into the cage and Flair holds the arm while Windham pounds it, and they dump him into the other cage. They work over the shoulder until Sting makes the save. He goes nuts on both of the heels, and gets a double-clothesline that sends the crowd into the atmosphere. Sting pairs off with Flair with a bulldog while Pillman keeps at Windham, but Brian gets crotched and the two-on-one commences on Sting. Pillman comes back to save while Sting no-sells Flair’s chops, but Larry Z is next in. Pillman puts Windham in a figure-four, and Sting dives from one to the other with a clothesline on Zbyszko. Flair & Larry go after Sting, and Flair breaks up Pillman’s figure-four. The Horsemen take over and pound on Sting, but Rick Steiner is in next to save. He clotheslines everyone and pounds Flair in the corner, into a belly-to-belly. Flair meets the cage and starts bleeding. Meanwhile, Pillman pounds Larry in the other ring until getting hung in the Tree of Woe and stomped. Sid Vicious is next in, and he goes right for Pillman’s injured shoulder. He then helps Flair out by holding Rick in place for a low blow, and clotheslines Sting. Pillman keeps pounding Flair into the cage, as does Rick. Poor guy. Larry sends Rick into the cage, but he no-sells it. The heels take over on Pillman & Steiner, but Scott Steiner is the last man in and clotheslines both Flair & Windham. Butterfly bomb on Larry, and he nails Sid with a flying clothesline (blatantly called on camera by Sid and Rick) as Sting puts Flair in the Scorpion deathlock. Sid works on Pillman’s shoulder, ramming it into the corner and ripping the bandages off it. Pillman fights back, however, and goes low, and soon it’s four figure-fours on the Horsemen as the crowd goes insane. They all escape, but Sting presses Flair into the cage roof in a cool visual stolen from Steve Williams. Pillman chokes out Zbyszko while Sid stomps Rick Steiner and the Horsemen double-team him. The Horsemen go after Pillman, but he keeps fighting Flair with chops. Scott DDTs Windham, but Sid lays him out. And then the spot that makes this a famous match – Sid faceplants Pillman, and then powerbombs him, catching his feet on the roof on the way up and dropping him right on his neck, nearly killing him. Then, he does it AGAIN, legitimately injuring him and drawing El Gigante out for improvised finish whereby he surrenders the match on his behalf to give it to the Horsemen at 22:05. Most assumed Pillman’s career to be over at that point. That obviously was not supposed to be the finish. Typically great and bloody Wargames, although not quite as great as I gave it credit for first time around. Still one of the best WCW matches of the 90s, though. ****1/2

The Bottom Line:

Not only a great wrestling show top-to-bottom, but a show with two of the all-time WCW boners (the Freebird title win and Sid’s botched powerbomb) makes this an easy recommendation. Good luck finding it anywhere, but if you can, it’s a great show for wrestling and historical purposes.

Highly recommended.