The SmarK Retro Rant for WCW Great American Bash 1998
– No idea why I picked this one, I just read the original rant recently and discovered that it was a truly horribly-written one. So let’s head back to the prime of Goldberg and WCW, shall we?
– Live from Baltimore, MD.
– Your hosts are Tony Schiavone, Mike Tenay & Bobby Heenan.
– This was during the nWo Hollywood / nWo Wolfpac era, so expect lots of silliness.
– Opening match: Booker T v. Chris Benoit. This is the concluding match in the famous best-of-7 series, as a flashback from Thunder a few nights previous refreshes my memory about Bret Hart interfering and necessitating an eighth match in the series. Winner of this gets Fit Finlay for the TV title right away. The match is crazy over with the crowd, which must of course be a hallucination on my part because neither guy has ever drawn a dime or knows how to work main event style. They exchange hiptosses to start and Booker grabs a headlock, but Benoit takes him down with a drop toehold and sends him out. Back in, Benoit grabs a hammerlock, but Booker reverses him to the mat and gets two. Benoit tries again, but Booker elbows out and gets a back elbow for two. Benoit charges and hits boot, but suckers him in with a dragon-screw to work on the previously-injured leg. Benoit starts chopping and gets the back elbow for two. Backdrop suplex gets two. Benoit hits the chinlock, but Booker comes back and they criss-cross, into a Benoit chop that gets two. Now that’s a chop. Snap suplex gets two. Benoit sends him into the turnbuckles, but Booker counters another suplex for two. Back to the chinlock by Benoit, but Booker powers out again, only to run into a knee. Benoit suplexes him onto the top rope and slugs him to the floor, but Booker makes it back in again. Lariat gets two. Benoit chops him down again and goes back to the chinlock. I’ve always found it odd that WWE doesn’t let them use chops for near-falls. That was uniquely a WCW thing. Benoit switches to a nasty surfboard, using his head for leverage, and Booker powers out and gets a powerslam. He heads up and totally whiffs on a high cross, missing by a mile. Benoit tries to crossface him, but Booker fights it off long enough to make the ropes. Benoit goes back to the chinlock, but Booker fights out again, and this time counters the dragon-screw with an enzuigiri. MAIN EVENT SPINEBUSTER and Booker makes the comeback with a flapjack, and does a primitive Spinarooni, but the stalling costs him, as he goes up and gets caught by Benoit with a superplex. Benoit gets two off that after selling the bump. He used to take such a cool bump on that move before the neck injury, as he’d roll backwards and flip over in the process. Rolling germans are blocked by Booker, but he gets a dragon suplex for two instead. The crowd pops HUGE for that. Man, how did they ever f*ck these guys up so badly? Back to the chops, and then he blocks Booker’s sunset flip out of the corner with another chop. Awesome. Booker is DEAD, so Benoit heads up with the flying headbutt, which gets a MONSTER reaction, and both guys are out. Benoit recovers first and gets two. Booker gets a small package for two. Booker comes back with a sidekick to the back of the head, and a spinkick, and now Booker goes up with a missile dropkick that gets the pin at 16:19. Weak (albeit totally clean) finish, great match. Booker looked a lot less polished than he does today, but Benoit carried him like a champion through the whole thing, and made them both look like a million bucks. ****1/4
– Perry Saturn v. Kanyon. This is just after the original unmasking of Mortis, as he fought the Flock. Kanyon sneaks from behind using a Mortis decoy, and gets a rollup for two to start. Neckbreaker gets two. Kanyon slugs away in the corner, into an inverted electric chair for two. The Flock starts coming in, as Kanyon dumps Saturn, but gets tripped up. Saturn slingshots in with a splash and lays in some stiff kicks in the corner. Blind charge misses and Kanyon takes him down with a bulldog out of the corner, and more Flock guys come in and lay in the beatdown. Saturn hits everyone with a dive, and Nick Patrick tosses everyone. Brawl outside, as Kanyon gets sent into the railing. Saturn suplexes him back in, using the middle rope, for two. Kanyon would later swipe that move. Criss-cross and Saturn takes him down with an anklelock, but Kanyon makes the ropes. Saturn takes him down again with a crazy bridged full-nelson, but Kanyon makes the ropes again. Crowd doesn’t know what to do with any of this stuff. Saturn crotches him on the top rope and clotheslines him to the floor, and then grabs a chair and sets it up as Kanyon crawls back in. He springboards off the chair with a dropkick into the corner ala Air Sabu, and then takes the triple-jump moonsault from him for two. Talk about showing your influences. Kanyon comes back with a Russian legsweep, but Saturn springboards at him again, which allows Kanyon to catch him with a northern lights suplex for two. He tries a slingshot elbow, but misses, and Saturn gets a neckbreaker for two. He hits the chinlock, but Kanyon fights out, only to have his suplex reversed for two. Another suplex works, however, and both are out. Kanyon hotshots him and gets a small package for two. Saturn backslides him for two. It’s a weird sitout version, too. Bridge gets two. Saturn takes him down with the Rings of Saturn, into a pinfall combo for two. Kanyon comes back with a back elbow, into an F5 (!), which gets two. Torture rack drop gets two. Downward Spiral is blocked by Saturn with a suplex, for two. Saturn goes for the DVD, but Kanyon escapes, so Saturn superkicks him. They head up, where Kanyon fights him off, and they both end up crotching themselves on the top rope. Everyone is out on the floor, but now multiple Mortises (Mortisae?) head into the ring and start fighting, ending up on the floor. Kanyon finishes Saturn with the Downward Spiral in the meantime, at 14:45. One of the Mortisssesses turns on Kanyon, revealing himself as Raven, in pre-tattooed days. This was crazy, state-of-the-art stuff that the crowd would be going nuts for today, but it was only 1998 and WCW’s fanbase didn’t know how to deal with it. ***3/4 Raven chastises Saturn’s failure, so the Flock turns on Saturn, and he fights them off. But who was the other Mortis? How can I sleep at night?
– Cruiserweight title: Dean Malenko v. Chris Jericho. The title is technically vacant at this point, as Dean won it at Slamboree in a super-hot angle, but Jericho whined about conspiracy until Dean gave up the belt. So this decides things. They clothesline each other to start, but Jericho stomps him down and starts chopping. Dean comes back with a release german and stomps a mudhole, showing more emotion than he usually does. Dean misses a charge, allowing Jericho to pound him down and headlock him. Jericho overpowers him, but Dean counters the Liontamer and slugs him down. Vertical suplex gets two for Dean. He hits the chinlock, into a surfboard, but Jericho mulekicks out of it. Dean slugs him down again and sends him into the corner, as Jericho does a Flair Flip, but Dean charges too soon and posts himself. Jericho follows him out with a pescado to take over, and they head back in. Delayed vertical suplex into the ARROGANT COVER~! gets two. MAIN EVENT SLEEPER, but Dean elbows out of it and gets his own. Jericho quickly suplexes out of it, for two. He chokes him down and stomps away, but the Lionsault misses. Dean comes back with a leg lariat into a rollup for two. Dean slugs away in the corner, into a bulldog, for two. Jericho gets dumped, but tries going up, and gets caught with an exploding gutbuster attempt, which Jericho turns into a rana from the top. Jericho gets two after a 10-count. Powerbomb is reversed by Dean for two. Jericho reverses that into the Liontamer (Walls of Jericho), but Dean makes the ropes. Jericho stops to threaten the ref and goes back to chopping Dean, then reverses a headscissors into a whiplash slam. They do a series of counters into Dean’s Texas Cloverleaf, and Jericho makes the ropes. Jericho comes back with the double-underhook backbreaker and stomps away, but makes the mistake of slagging Dean’s dead father, which prompts an attack from Dean. They brawl outside and Dean goes nuts, using a chair for the DQ at 13:52. Well, maybe it wasn’t a mistake after all, as Jericho wins the vacant title. Bad finish, but they were going into a pretty good groove near the finish. ***1/2 They brawl into the parking lot afterwards, although the feud was dropped soon after.
– Juventud Guerrera v. Ron Reese. Well, there goes the great match streak. Reese is the Flock member formerly known as the Yeti, and he’s big. And that’s about all he brings to the table, which makes me wonder why he never got a WWE developmental deal. The idea was to make Juvy into a “never say dieÃ¢â‚¬Â guy, so in their charmingly retarded way, this match was supposed to get him over. Reese tosses him around to start, but Juvy fights back, getting nowhere. Reese keeps chucking him down, so Juvy bails. And runs. He tries a pescado, which Reese casually catches, and presses Juvy back into the ring. Back in, Juvy goes for the knee, taking him down with kicks, and goes up. He jumps on him with a sleeper, bringing him down, but Reese casually escapes and gets a backbreaker. Hiptoss and bearhug, but he lets Juvy go. Juvy goes low a few times, but Reese drops to his knees and punches him in the face. That looked ugly. Reese suplexes him and wants the count instead of a pin. Juvy fights up, so Reese grabs a chair, only to have the ref steal it. Juvy goes up and tries a rana, but Reese catches him. Van Hammer (ex of the Flock) chairs Reese down and Juvy gets the pin at 8:44. Way, WAY too long, and the relationship between Juvy & Hammer is just a bit too weird for my liking. Ã‚Â½*
– Eddie Guerrero v. Chavo Guerrero. This is the payoff match for a brilliant angle where Eddie gave Chavo “tough loveÃ¢â‚¬Â until the poor guy finally snapped and went crazy, putting Eddy in the position of being on the defensive. Chavo has the most awesome shirt in history here, by the way, the “Eddie Guerrero is my favorite wrestler / Cheat to Win!Ã¢â‚¬Â one that I would have killed to own. Eddie has the full mulletude going. Eddie begs for peace, but gets slapped around by Chavo as a result. That’s the spirit! Eddie starts chopping, but Chavo returns fire and backdrops him. Eddie tries taking him down for some ground-n-pound, but Chavo hits him right back. Chavo charges and gets sent into the turnbuckles, allowing Eddie to take him down with a snapmare, but now Eddie charges and gets sent into the corner. Chavo pulls him back off the ropes while Eddie yells “He’s crazy! Get him off me!Ã¢â‚¬Â in a funny bit, and Chavo rams him into all three turnbuckles. More chopping sets up a flying headscissors, twice, but Eddie takes a powder. Chavo brings him back in, but Eddie uses a cheapshot to turn the tide. Backdrop suplex as the announcers discuss the never-seen Grandma Guerrero. If they ever introduced her, she’d be more over than half the roster. Maybe not. Eddie goes for the arm, but Chavo does a nifty reversal into the monkey-flip, and goes up with a moonsault press for two. Chavo charges again and hits the floor, however, and Eddie sends him into the stairs. Back in, Eddie gets a brainbuster and slaps Chavo around, but Chavo does the Undertaker situp and chokes him down. Eddie bails and runs away, leading to a chase outside that ends up with Eddie hiding behind the referee. He dives out and clips Chavo, however, and dropkicks the knee to take over. Good stuff. Figure-four, but Eddie gets preoccupied yelling at the fans and lets go. Back to the knee, and into the Gory Special, as the fans get involved in a guy getting tossed by security. Bobby actually makes a remark about how Eddie should fall back from that position, and in fact Chavo himself used that move as his finisher for a while. Chavo escapes, but misses a dropkick and Eddie gets the knee again. Eddie pounds him down, into a body vice, which then turns into the Helicopter Slam. Eddie charges and gets dumped, and Chavo follows with an insane tope con hilo that gets so much hangtime he nearly misses. Chavo faceplants him back in, as the crowd chants “We want FlairÃ¢â‚¬Â. This was during the period when Flair was suspended by Bischoff because of what was basically a petty argument. No matter how much HHH puts himself over the roster, no one will ever chant “We want HHHÃ¢â‚¬Â if he ever takes more than a few months off. Bulldog gets two for Chavo, but he goes up and gets caught. Eddie then goes up, but misses the frog splash. Chavo turns a tornado DDT attempt into a necksnap, and then gets another DDT for the pin at 14:47. That was pretty unexpected. ***1/2
– World TV title: Fit Finlay v. Booker T. Finlay won the belt in a bizarre upset over Booker on Nitro a few months previous to this, and Booker faced Benoit in the best-of-7 series to determine the #1 contender. Booker slugs him down to start and blocks a charge with an elbow, setting up a back kick for two. Enzuigiri misses and Fit takes him down with a leglock. Back up, Booker grabs a headlock, and forearms him down for two. Fit goes to the knee, however, and puts him in an Indian deathlock. He turns it into a half-crab, and stays on the leg, keeping it on the mat. He hammers on the knee in the corner, but Booker comes out of their with the rollup for two. Fit grabs the leglock again, however, and won’t let Booker get up. He uses Brock’s kneebar-around-the-neck, but Booker counters and slugs on the mat. He grabs a headlock, but Fit uses a kneecrusher to escape and goes back to work on it again. They head out and Fit keeps pounding the knee, sending it into the post. Back in, and back to the knee, as he slams Booker and gets a pump splash, while the crowd is engaged with a fight in the stands. He keeps stomping the knee, but Booker comes back with a spinkick and a powerslam. Axe kick and Spinarooni, but Fit lays him out on the way up. He tries to finish with the tombstone, but Booker reverses and they mess that up badly. Fit misses a charge, hits the post, and Booker piledrives him for the pin at 13:12. That finish was all kinds of ugly. **1/4
– US title: Goldberg v. Konnan. Kind of eerie to see both Rick Rude and Curt Hennig seconding Konnan. Hennig was supposed to be taking the bullet here, but developed a sudden and crippling case of Jobberitis of the Knee. Goldberg was “99-0Ã¢â‚¬Â at this point (in reality much less, but you might as well make the 100th one a PPV win, I guess). Unlike today, Goldberg was undeniably the #1 babyface in WCW at this point and one of the few things that WCW ever managed to not totally screw up. He overpowers Konnan, who bails. Back in, Goldberg grabs a headlock and takes Konnan down with an awkward anklelock, but Konnan makes the ropes. Konnan tries a simple beatdown, and blocks a charge, but it’s spear, jackhammer, arriba la jobba at 1:54. Now how hard is THAT to figure out? WCW spent months never having the guy in a match longer than 5:00 and the WWE still hasn’t figure it out yet. Ã‚Â½* Hennig & Rude turn on Konnan and reveal a white shirt under the red one, back in the days when the booking was so lazy that people could turn heel by re-accessorizing.
– Hulk Hogan & Bret Hart v. Randy Savage & Roddy Piper. I guess Savage was part of the nWo Wolfpac at this point, although honestly the whole stupid period was such a blur that I don’t remember that. As an added stipulation, the winner of this match gets a federally-certified document guaranteeing legally sane status for at least a year. Piper and Savage were also feuding at this point, if you can figure that out. Bret was kinda feuding with Hogan, but not really. You needed a scorecard to keep track of Bret’s heel turns at this point anyway. I believe this is also the only time Hogan and Bret ever teamed, also I’m pretty sure I was at a house show with Savage & Piper as a team at one point in the 80s. Piper & Savage argue within themselves about who’s crazier, but that’s a stalemate. Piper wins because he went on HBO and slagged the WWE, while Savage only cut a rap album, and thus Piper starts. Hogan stalls for time, so Piper attacks him and uses the EYEPOKE OF DEATH, as does Savage. Sadly, Hogan is not blinded. Savage comes in and slugs away in the corner, and Piper comes in with an atomic drop as Tony sells them like they’re the Anderson brothers or something. Piper bites Hogan and they keep him in the corner, as Piper gets two. They keep switching off, but Brutus the Booty Disciple With No Name trips Piper up, and HE BREAKS HIS HIP! Oh, wait, no, sorry. Bret, the spry youngster of the bunch, comes in and hammers on Piper, and catches him with a facelock. Backbreaker and the heels work Piper over, as Tony notes that Piper draws his strength from the fans. Gee, according to that HBO special, he draws it from something else entirely. Hogan uses the BACKRAKES OF DOOM and Heenan thinks the craziness will come out of Piper soon. He doesn’t know the half of it. Bret with a legsweep and elbow from the middle for two. Hogan works Piper over from the outside while Savage tells the ref about an idea he has for a rap album. Piper gets two with a small package, but Bret reverses for two. Bret brings him back to the corner and Hogan stomps away, and Bret cuts off a potential tag. False tag while the ref is busy with Hogan, who’s telling him about an idea for a promotion out of Universal Studios, but Savage runs over in a fit of jealousy so he can pitch an idea for a role in Spider-Man, and hits Bret with a chair on the way over. Piper makes the hot tag to Savage, and he’s so fired up that he writes a song about Hogan on the spot. Back elbow gets nothing. Heel miscommunication and it’s BONZO GONZO, as the heels have a meeting of the minds and Savage sets up Hart for the big elbow. Piper accidentally knocks him off the top, however, and Brother Butcher Zodiac takes out Piper, which allows Bret to finish Savage with the Sharpshooter at 11:40. Huge mess with a bunch of old guys shuffling around the ring. *1/2
– Roddy Piper v. Randy Savage. Now, whoever thought of double-booking two of the oldest guys on the roster, way to go. Savage chokes Piper down to start after a weak clothesline, and slugs Piper down. Flying elbow, but he hurts his own knee. He gets two anyway. Savage takes out the ref and Piper goes low on him and goes after the knee, getting a figure-four, and Savage uncles at 1:37. Yeah. DUD
– Alleged main event, WCW World tag titles: The Giant v. Sting. Giant (Big Show) was in his smoking phase at this point, which is pretty much the lamest cheap heat tactic I can think of. Okay, so this was the result of an incredibly convoluted storyline, where Sting & Giant won the tag titles from the Outsiders, but then the nWo split up 14 different times and they ended up on different sides, and somehow there ended up being a match with Giant & Bryan Adams v. Dallas Page & Lex Luger on Thunder for the titles, which was then overturned and made into this instead, because I guess this was preferable to an actual tag match. Winner get to pick his partner. Giant blows smoke in his face, and Sting is so upset about the dangers of second-hand smoke that he hammers away and tries a Stinger splash right away. That misses, and Giant tosses him. Giant is positively skinny compared to today. He’s called “513 poundsÃ¢â‚¬Â but he’s MAYBE 340 at this point. Sting tries a bodyblock and bounces off, and Giant drops an elbow. Press slam into the corner sets up a bearhug. Sting fights out and slams him off a pair of Stinger Splashes, setting up the Scorpion Deathlock. Giant powers out. Scorpion Deathdrop gets two. Giant tries a chokeslam, but Sting reverses to another Deathdrop for two. Giant charges and hits boot, and Sting finishes with a top rope version of the Deathdrop at 6:33. Sting would pick Kevin Nash the next night on Nitro. Match was nothing special, but not terrible or anything. *1/2
The Bottom Line:
Definitely a much better show than I originally gave it credit for, with a bunch of ***+ matches underneath all the main eventer silliness. Benoit-Booker is pretty much required viewing, the rest is optional, to say the least.