The Way Too Long Review of the Rise & Fall of WCW: Disc Three

Let’s wrap up this review.  By the way, if you would like my reviews of multi-disc sets to be broken up by disc like this, let me know.

Match #11: WCW Championship
(c) Ric Flair vs. The Giant
4/29/96 Nitro

I think by this point the sheet that contained WCW’s long-term plans for the World Championship just had ‘fuck if we know’ scribbled over and over again.  Flair tries for a shoulderblock but bounces off the Giant.  A chop doesn’t work either and Flair bails.  Back in, another shoulderblock doesn’t work and Flair begs off.  Show picks him up and press-slams him.  Hard whip sends Flair up and over the corner and to the floor, where he uses Woman and Miss Elizabeth as human shields.  Back in, Flair thumbs the eyes and chops away, but the Giant no-sells.  Shoot to the corner but Show misses a charge.  Flair climbs but gets caught and thrown off the top.  Vertical suplex by Show, then he goes for the chokeslam but Flair holds onto the ropes.  Woman and Liz distract the ref long enough for Flair to smack the Giant in the balls.  Flair smacks the Giant while he’s on his knees, but Show keeps swatting him away.  Flair loads up some brass knucks and punches Show in the face to knock him out.  Flair struts for a bit, then struts some more.  He slaps on a figure four, but the Giant comes to life, grabs Flair by the throat, chokeslam, new champion, huge pop.
1/2* One of the low points of Flair’s career.

Match #12: WCW Cruiserweight Championship
(c) Rey Mysterio vs. Dean Malenko
8/15/96 Clash of the Champions

Thankfully this isn’t a repeat from Rey Mysterio’s latest set.  Man, Malenko and Mysterio had so many televised matches together they could easily fill up an entire DVD by themselves.  Dean jumps Rey as he takes the belt off and snap-suplexes him.  Kneedrop by Dean, then a shoot off but Mysterio bails, then bails back into the ring.  Rey rams Dean into the post, then dropkicks him off the apron.  Baseball slide into a rana on the floor and Dean is looking quite pissy.  Back in, they trade reversals that leads to Rey firing off an armbar.  Shoulderblock into a springboard moonsault by Mysterio for two.  Spinkick by Rey leads to Dean bailing and walking up the aisle.  Dean charges back in and straight at Rey, only to get drop-toeholded.  Dean kicks Rey in the gut and fires off a disgusting, nasty stungun to take control.  Dean, sick mother fucker that he is, then fires off a leaping brainbuster for two.  Rey grabs a knucklelock and tries for a rana, changes up for a sunset flip, Dean misses a punch and Rey ties him up in a pin for two.  Snapmare by Dean into a chinlock with body-scissors.  Rey tries to fight out but runs into a kneelift.  Commercial time.

This commercial brought to you by The Wrestling Press, which had my story, “The Defense Calls John Cena” as it’s cover feature for it’s latest issue.  Who else but myself would have the balls to call John Cena a modern day Ric Flair?  Before you reach for the “Submit Reply” button or reach for the “E-Mail Writer” button to pile hatred on me, why not read it first?  http://www.thewrestlingpress.com which comes in both a PDF and Interactive version.  And check out all the other cool features (Scott Keith writes a hilarious story on wrestlers with side occupations).  Next month I’ll be dealing with steroids in professional wrestling.  Been done before, says you?  Guess again, because I argue in favor of them.  I figure I’m already going to hell for all the Chris Benoit jokes, so I might as well embrace it.

We’re back with Dean Malenko holding Rey in an STF, but he breaks it as we zoom in.  Shoot off and Malenko launches Rey into the ropes, but Rey lands on his feet and springs back at Malenko.  Malenko catches THAT, sets up for a reverse DDT, but Rey flips out of that and goes for a waistlock.  Dean tries to flip out of that but Rey catches it and gets a pin attempt for two.  Dean casually smacks Rey in the mouth, then hits a slam into a leglock.  Rey gets to the ropes, so Dean shoots him off and throws him up in the air for a pancake.  It gets two.  Dean ties Rey up in something that I can’t identify, then shoots Rey off.  Rey uses momentum to send Dean to the floor, where he dropkicks him between the ropes.  Flipping senton on the floor hits.  In the aisle, Rey tries to whip Dean into the guardrail.  Dean reverses, but Rey springs off the rail with a lionsault.  Should have been awesome, but Dean was slightly delayed in taking the bump for it and it looked fakish.  Back in, springboard dropkick by Rey catches Dean in the face, I’m guessing to make up for the lionsault spot.  Tilt-a-whirl slam by Dean is caught with a crossbody by Rey for two.  Springing rana by Rey gets two.  Reversals gets them to the corner, where Dean hits the MOTHER OF ALL EXPLODING GUTBUSTERS, COMPLETELY UNPROTECTED!  HOLY SHIT, THAT WAS THE FUCKING COOLEST SPOT OF MALENKO’S ENTIRE WCW CAREER!  It gets the pin, but Rey’s foot was actually on the rope.  Dean grabs the belt, but the referee tells him the match must continue.  Dean doesn’t even have time to be pissed because Rey comes in and hits a victory roll for the pin.
****1/2 Of all the Dean/Mysterio matches I’ve reviewed, that was the best one.  Some really innovative spots and a pretty decent pace really made this something special.  What I loved about these two is that they wrestled roughly a dozen times on TV in WCW and yet every match was completely different from all the rest.  Rey had his best match of his career against Eddie Guerrero, but I consider Dean Malenko to be his definitive opponent.

Maybe this disc won’t be so bad after all.

Match #13: War Games
Lex Luger, Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, & ????? vs. Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, & ?????
9/15/96 Fall Brawl

Arn Anderson starts with Scott Hall.  Hall kicks the poop out of Hall in the corner and rams him into the cage.  Stomp between the legs by Arn, but Scott kicks low to take advantage.  Whip to the corner and a clothesline by Hall.  Rake across the ropes, then ramming into the cage by Hall.  Brawling by Hall, but Arn fights back with some punches to the gut and a chopblock to the knee.  He slaps on a figure-four, but releases it quickly and goes to the knee.  What’s up with that?  Hall gets to the ropes, then brawls to the right ring.  Kicking puts Hall back in control, then he chokes Arn with the foot.  Two minutes remain in the period.  Arn rams Hall into the corner, then slugs him in the gut.  Sleeper by Arn, while they get ready for the coin toss in the back.  Hall fights out with a back-suplex and both guys are down.  Hall slugs it out but Arn hits the spinebuster.  Meanwhile, the announcers let us know the nWo won the coin toss.  Arn has a Boston Crab, but time is up and…

Kevin Nash enters.  Arn only has a few seconds worth of offense before the double teaming starts.  Hall holds Anderson for a free boot by Kevin.  Both guys ram Arn into the cage, but Arn only has to wait a minute.  Press-slam into a snake-eyes by Nash, then a clothesline from Hall.  Stompery follows, but Lex jumps the clock by fifteen seconds and clotheslines both heels down.  Ramming into the cage, then clotheslines for all.  Running forearms for all.  He lifts Hall up and slams him into the cage a few times, then slams Nash into the cage as well.  Arn holds Hall for some free shots from Lex, but Nash saves.  nWo takes control with some brawling, while the cage looks like it’s falling apart.

Anderson hits a DDT on Nash, but Hulk Hogan enters the cage.  Punches for Arn and Lex, but they end up getting shots in on him.  Ten punch by Lex, then he mounts punches on Hall.  Hogan and Nash take advantage on Anderson, then Hulk goes to the left cage with Anderson while the Outsiders double up on Lex.  Anderson fights off Hogan and rams him into the cage, then everything spills into the left cage and the heels take control.  Hogan drops the big leg on Anderson, then chokes at Lex with a foot.

Ric Flair enters and dares everyone to come into the right cage.  Hogan takes the bait and brawls Flair a bit.  Shoot off but Flair hits some stinging jabs and takes Hogan down.  Nash comes in to save Hogan but gets smacked in the nuts.  Hall gets his nuts punched as well and the faces start to clean house.  Flair hooks in the figure four on Hogan while the announcers speculate on who is the nWo’s mystery man.  And then…

Sting enters for the nWo.  Tony Schiavone’s dejected “it’s… Sting” call is easily the best of his career.  He didn’t oversell it like he did Hogan’s turn at Bash at the Beach.  It was just a perfect whimper of a call.  In reality, it’s Jeff Farmer, who had previously wrestled as “Cobra” in WCW.  And he’s likely a better wrestler then Sting on the basis that he is not Sting.  The likeness was excellent and I’m guessing most people watching this live totally bought it.  Farmer does a good job of mimicking Sting’s mannerisms, and his bulldog is spot on.  The fans live actually figure out that he’s not really Sting and chant for the real one.  The nWo goes back to cleaning house with random brawling.  Hogan slams Flair down and hits the legdrop.  Farmer hits Stinger Splashes on everyone, but they don’t look as good as his other stuff.  Time is up and…

The real Sting enters, and the announcers have a happy-happy orgasm.  He goes face to face with Farmer and hits a bulldog on him.  Chops for all the heels, and the babyfaces take control.  Stinger Splashes for all while the babyfaces all back away and watch him clean house.  Sting gets pissy that nobody trusted him and jaws with Lex, saying “Is that good enough for you?  Is that proof enough?”  He then flips them all off and bails on the match.  Hogan hits the big boot and the legdrop on Lex, then bites at him.  Bobby Heenan is hilarious on commentary, begging everyone to say their sorry so Sting will come back.  Farmer slaps on the Scorpion Deathlock on Luger, then Hogan hooks in a front-facelock and the nWo wins the match.
***1/4 which is way better then I remember it being.  I think starting Arn with Hall was a bad call.  I actually think starting Ric Flair with Kevin Nash might have been more exciting, as fans perceived Nash as the biggest WWE star the previous year, and of course Flair was the embodiment of WCW.  The fans went cold right off the bat because Anderson and Hall was about the most boring pairing you could have started the match with, and the heat never really recovered afterward.  The pace they cut was actually pretty decent, and truth be told given the limitations of all the wrestlers involved this actually should have exceeded expectations going in.  But it was a big mistake starting the match with anyone but Flair for the babyfaces, since it was up to him to carry the whole thing.

Match #14: United States Championship, Ladder Match
(c) Eddie Guerrero vs. Syxx
1/25/97 Souled Out

For modern fans who have never seen the first Souled Out, it was truly a different breed of wrestling pay per view.  Officially, the pay per view was an nWo event, and thus every WCW star was treated like crap.  You get to see it here, with Eddie Guerrero getting no entrance music and being called “the loser, Mexican jumping bean Eddie Guerrero” by a monotone ring announcer.  It sounds like the voice you hear during the dog show.  The set has a sterile, industrial feel to it.  The production values were intentionally weird, with strange camera angles through-out and occasional (intentional) glitches in the feed.  I actually liked it a lot, and I feel the only reason that the gimmick was not continued is because the card presented here was so bad that it bombed in sales.  This was kind of a recurring theme with the nWo angle.  In a perfect world, they would have split off the nWo into their own show and promoted their own pay per views, leaving WCW and the nWo to have a big year end Superbowl event.  But WCW was far from perfect and would blow the big moments that should have led to the company being split up.  Souled Out ’97 was the first bust.  The match you are about to read the review of was the only match that broke one star on the entire show.  Hindsight, you say?  Not really.  Anyone who looked at the card before the show could have told you this would be one of the very worst pay per views ever produced.  The other bust, and easily the more damaging one, was the Nitro prior to Starrcade ’97 where the nWo took over the show.  The first hour consisted of nothing but the WCW Nitro set being torn down and a new nWo Nitro set being built in it’s place.  The show was treated as a celebration of Hulk Hogan, complete with some of the worst wrestling ever televised.  The fact that so much time was used to show a new set constructed was just pure arrogance.  It caused the ratings to plummet by nearly a full point, while Raw got a small jump that was actually the beginning of their rise to dominance.  But it could have worked.  The fans wanted it to work.  But when the nWo was the focus of an entire show and not just a part of the ‘something for everyone’ formula that makes wrestling successful, those in charge did not give the best they could possibly do.  In fact, they kind of gave you close to the worse.

What were the other matches on this card?  Big Bossman vs. Hugh Morrus.  Jeff Jarrett vs. Mike Rotundo.  Scotty Riggs vs. Buff Bagwell.  DDP vs. Scott Norton.  The Giant vs. Hulk Hogan.  Oh, and a “who’s the ugliest girl” Miss nWo Contest.  Nobody would want to see this shit on free television, let alone pay $30 to see it.  Sure, this match and the Steiners/Outsiders match were hot draws, but the nWo were supposed to be the assholes who were taking over, and yet the Outsiders had made the Steiners look like bullies going into this.  It sent mixed-signals to the ‘mark’ fan base, and history has proven that they can’t handle mixed signals.  A fan needs a clear reason why someone should be cheered over another.  Even when the WWE was selling it’s bullshit ‘shades of gray’ theory during the Attitude Era, everyone knew why Stone Cold was the hero and Vince McMahon was the villain.  In the case of the Outsiders, no matter what the odds were they always held their ground (sometimes they were the ones out-numbered), they had the best lines on the microphone and the coolest signature moves.  So fans want to cheer the Outsiders over the Steiners.  But they still like the Steiners too.  If they’re happy no matter who wins, they don’t really have any vested interest in seeing the show.  End result: a 0.47 buyrate, or half of what Starrcade had drawn the previous month.  The next show, Superbrawl, did a 0.75 on the basis that it had a BETTER CARD and Uncensored in March did a 0.9.  The nWo was featured heavily on both shows, of course.  So it’s not the idea of the nWo being separate that didn’t work.  It was the bad match listing.  Someone looking at the card and saying “Why would anyone pay to watch this?” could have fixed the problem.  Because most people who bought the show admitted that, bad as it was, it was worth watching just because it was so unorthodox.

Tangent over, back to the show.  Eric Bischoff and Ted DiBiase are the announcers, and they actually call the matches pretty much evenly.  You would think both guys would channel Jesse Ventura and call almost everything for the heels, but they don’t.  Bischoff might have been fine as the smarmy play-by-play guy but DiBiase was wrong for the color commentator spot.  They should have just had Bobby Heenan join the nWo.  Syxx gets a hero’s entrance and is wearing the belt, but only because he stole it from Guerrero a few weeks before this.  You can see the crazy camera angles during the entrance.  It makes this like an episode of Parker Lewis Can’t Lose.  Guerrero jumps Syxx to start and shoots him off, only to run into Syxx’s karate kicks.  Hard chop against the ropes, then Syxx shoots him off and acts like he’s going for an elbow, then changes his mind and acts like he’s going to hit a side-slam on Guerrero, but Eddie starts to bump for the elbow and the spot is blown.  Go smoke another baggy or two of weed, Sean.  Eddie fights back with a punch and hits a head-scissors, then a tilt-a-whirl back-breaker, leading to Syxx bailing.  Eddie climbs and hits a flying crossbody off the top.  Eddie tosses Syxx back in and shoots him to the corner, but he gets caught on a charge.  Syxx climbs, fights Eddie off, and hits a spinkick off the top.  Bronco buster by Syxx and then a double stomp off the ropes.  Eddie flips out of a back-suplex and hits a dropkick that sends Waltman out of the ring.  Eddie loads up a suplex but Syxx reverses takes him over the ropes and to the floor.  Flipping plancha by Syxx, who then makes his way to the top of the aisle, which is where the ladder is located.  Syxx can barely lift the ladder up, but he does manage to hold it long enough to hit Guerrero with it.  He takes forever getting it into the ring and Eddie manages to see-saw it into his face.  Guerrero hits a few weak shots with the ladder, then chops at Syxx in the corner.  Whip into the ladder is reversed and Eddie runs full-force into it.  Waltman places the ladder on Guerrero and stomps on it.  Bischoff calls this well, saying he was actually trying to stomp through it but his aim was off.  Pancake into the ladder, then a suplex.  Waltman climbs, but the ladder is nowhere close to the center.  Eddie climbs and gets punched off.  Syxx then climbs down and closes the ladder so he can ride it down on him.  That whole setup was wasteful.  Waltman climbs the corner to ride it down, but Eddie dropkicks the ladder and crotches Syxx in the process.  Meanwhile, the announcers are taking back-handed shots at Shawn Michaels this entire sequence, not mentioning him by name but claiming that Scott Hall did all the cool spots Shawn did at Wrestlemania and Summerslam.  Superplex by Eddie and he preps the ladder, but Syxx climbs as well and they fight on top of the ladder.  Syxx springs up and hits a side kick to send Eddie off the ladder and into the corner.  Nice spot, but the crowd is just not into it.  By the way, this show only drew 5,000 live fans, which was a sell-out.  People rag on WCW for playing to small crowds, but you have to remember that they booked these shows several months in advance, before WCW had taken off and was selling as many tickets as they could have, and also because smaller venues actually come across as louder on television.  If you need proof of that, just watch ECW One Night Stand.  Of course the crowd has to be lively for the noise to be loud enough to echo, and that is not the case here.  By this point, the fans had sat through some really horrible matches and I think their will to live was all used up by time this match was going.  Another fight on the ladder happens.  Eddie falls off but bounces off the ropes and pushes the ladder over for a double-knockout.  Eddie recovers first and preps the ladder.  He slowly climbs.  How slow?  So slow that when he had his fatal heart attack eight years later his body was discovered two rungs below the top of the ladder.  It was that slow.  Syxx catches his foot after Eddie spent three hours making it to the second rung, but he gets kicked off.  Eddie climbs again and makes it to the top in record time (forty minutes, give or take), but Syxx catches him and both guys pull the belt off the harness at the same time.  They have a tug-of-war over the belt, with the first person to let go losing.  Eddie pushes the belt into his face, knocking him off the ladder.  Sadly, Eddie drops the belt in the process and the ending is botched.  He jumps off the ladder, picks up the belt, and wins the match.
**1/4 It’s really not entirely on the wrestlers, as they were handcuffed for the match.  Instead of letting these guys go out and have a unique ladder match, they basically went and out tried to mimic the style of the Shawn Michaels/Razor Ramon matches so that Eric Bischoff could make smart-assed digs at Shawn Michaels on commentary.  To that end, they were told to tone down some higher-risk stuff, and it hurt the match incredibly.  It’s not that what they did was technically bad, but it felt empty.  The Shawn/Razor matches did not work because of the ladder, but because of the size difference created a psychology of using power-moves.  Here, both guys were of smaller but similar size and thus there was nobody to play the part of Razor Ramon.  Thus we get a poor imitation instead of letting these guys do their own thing around the gimmick and create something that likely would have been good enough to stand on it’s own.  Your mileage may very and I’m sure I’ll get heat for the score.

Match #15: United States Championship, No Disqualification
(c) Eddie Guerrero vs. Dean Malenko
3/16/97 Uncensored

Like Rey/Malenko, there are so many televised matches between these two that they could easily fill up their own disc.  Shove off to start.  Eddie slugs it out and gets a shoulderblock.  Shoot off and Dean gets a shoulderblock, leading to Eddie bailing.  Back in, Dean slugs it out, then stomps Eddie into the fetal position.  Vertical suplex, then Dean gets in Eddie’s face and jaws with him.  Eddie rakes the eyes and then rams Dean into the corner.  Eddie stomps the shit out of Dean.  Turnabout is fair play.  Whip to the corner but Dean launches Eddie into the turnbuckle, then hits a back-suplex.  Ah fuck, we cut to the back where the nWo has killed Rick Steiner.  Oh yea.  Cut to the ring where Dean has Eddie in a half-crab.  He angles it high, torques on the back, then covers for two.  Dean dumps Eddie over the top and to the floor.  He grabs the title belt and smacks Eddie in the gut with it, then clubs him in the face.  STIFF FUCKING CLOTHESLINE nearly breaks Eddie’s jaw.  It only gets two.  Dean goes for a clothesline but Eddie catches him and fires off a rock bottom to take control.  He gets in Dean’s face and jaws with him, then smacks him.  Awesome match structure.  It reminds me of Piper/Hart from Wrestlemania for some reason.  They trade reversals on a whip, leading to Eddie getting a dropkick to Dean’s legs.  Dean’s leg ends up under the bottom rope, so Eddie dives over the top rope and lands on the leg.  Yipes.  Eddie climbs and drops an axehandle to Dean’s knee, then hits the flip-over splash onto the injured leg.  Now a standard leglock by Eddie, turned into an STF.  Meanwhile, using a seizure-inducing split-screen we see Rick Steiner loaded into an ambulance while the nWo hovers over him and mocks him.  I love wrestling.  “Ha ha, we just committed a major felony and now we’re going to sit here and taunt you while the cops scrape you up and load you into a meat wagon.”  We head to the floor where Eddie stomps away at the injured leg.  Dean reverses a whip and Eddie hits the guard rail with gusto.  Dean goes to limp back into the ring, but Eddie recovers first and dropkicks the knee.  Float-over stomp while we see the ambulance load him up.  Eddie slaps on the figure four, then uses the ropes for leverage for a couple seconds.  He gets a few near falls out of it.  Dean is completely out of reach to get to the ropes, so he thumbs the eye to escape.  Dean can barely stand, so Eddie uppercuts him.  Dean goes for a backslide but Eddie flips out and gets another uppercut.  Shoot off and a flying back-elbow.  Flip-over splash misses but Eddie rolls through it and catches Dean with a dropkick as he tries to bail out of the ring.  Eddie climbs to go for an axehandle, but Dean moves out of the way and Eddie hits the guardrail.  Dean lifts Eddie to his shoulder and then drops him on the guardrail.  Malenko tosses Eddie back into the ring, then takes some time to walk the injury off.  Back in, he shoulderblocks Eddie and hooks in an armbar.  Eddie escapes with some chops and then shoots Dean off and hits a tilt-a-whirl back-breaker.  Powerbomb with a jack-knife cover gets two.  Series of reversals leads to Dean blatantly kicking Eddie in the nuts.  He punches Eddie over, but then accidentally gets hit in the nuts legitimately while Eddie sells the move.  They cover this well by having Eddie immediately small package Dean for two.  See, that’s how professionals operate.  Don’t sit there and say ‘oops’.  Try to cover up the botch.  Eddie charges and gets caught in a powerslam.  Dean climbs and hits a frog splash for two as Dean gets cocky and pulls Eddie up, because it’s personal now.  Dean goes for a powerbomb but Eddie turns this into a head scissors.  Tilt-a-whirl slam by Dean gets two and now he realizes he made a mistake.  Both guys botch a victory-roll into a sunset flip spot, but they cover it by Dean pressing him for two.  Eddie goes for a body-scissors but Dean turns it into a release German suplex for two.  Dean charges but Eddie catches him and hits a nasty tornado DDT.  Eddie is cocky now and steals Dean’s move, the Texas Cloverleaf.  BUT WAIT~!! because Syxx shows up to steal the title belt again.  Eddie lets go of the hold to kill Syxx, who passes Dean the video camera he’s holding.  Dean kills Eddie with the camera and covers for the pin and the title.
****1/2 Really good match with excellent use of pacing and psychology.  Ending was lame and didn’t really lead to anything if memory serves me correct.  Everything before it was really hot, and even though they botched a few spots they covered them so well it’s barely noticeable.

Match #16: Cruiserweight Championship, Mask vs. Title
(c) Chris Jericho vs. Juventud Guerrera
2/22/98 Superbrawl VIII

Jericho was getting super hot as a heel here with his hyperactive paragon of virtue gimmick.  If only they could do this version of Jericho today, with all the talent he’s gained.  It would be amazing.  Jericho doesn’t even take the belt off before locking up with Juvy.  He decides to keep the belt on, just to be a dick.  Lockup and some flipping out of a wristlock, but Jericho chops out.  Juvy then dropkicks Jericho in the belt, which makes him collapse, unable to breathe.  He then casually hands the belt over to the referee.  Great spot.  These are the kinds of innovative things Jericho doesn’t do anymore because his gimmick isn’t tailored for it.  Juvy slugs it out and hits his spinning heel kick, then grabs a chinlock.  Jericho roughly turns this into an armbar.  Jericho was pretty good by this point, but still not totally crisp in the ring.  Picture Bret Hart circa 1990.  Close but not quite there yet.  And of course, for a period in the WWE he was using lifts and that set his progress back a couple of years.  Juvy charges at Jericho and gets a head-scissors.  Spin-heel kick over the ropes by Juvy, then a nasty, semi-botched springing rana off the apron and to the floor.  Jericho’s neck went a nasty angle on that one.  Jericho isn’t really badly hurt, but he’s a dick so he plays dead on the floor and tries to get counted out.  Juvy won’t have it so he drops an elbow on him.  Fans are knuckle-dragging retards so they don’t react to this spot.  Back in, Jericho chops away, then kicks at Juvy’s face.  He goes for a german suplex but Juvy escapes only to charge into a hot-shot.  Springboard dropkick sends Juvy off the apron and to the floor.  Jericho bails to slam Juvy on the floor.  He preps the stairs and charges at Juvy off them, only he gets caught and slammed into the guardrail.  Goddamn that looked sick.  Back in, Juvy jumps at Jericho but gets caught into a tombstone-piledriver type move for two.  Arrogant kicks by Jericho, then a lame back-elbow and the arrogant cover for two.  Victory roll by Juvy gets two.  Jericho kicks him in the face and starts to throw a temper-tantrum.  Delayed suplex and a back-splash gets two off another arrogant cover.  Back-breaker into a submission hold.  Juvy won’t quit, so Jericho starts to whine.  Juvy fights back and chops away, only to charge into a clothesline for two.  To the corner where Jericho sets up for a superplex, but Juvy pushes off.  Juvy goes for a rana but Jericho catches him, spins him around, and turns it into an electric chair.  It wasn’t in one motion, but it was very cool looking.  Jericho climbs but Juvy dropkicks him out of the ring.  Jericho goes to bail on the match, but Juvy springs off the ropes and hits his big flying, standing elbow-kick combo.  Got big distance on it, too.  Whip to the corner, Jericho tries to spring out of it only to get caught in the Michinoku Driver.  Juvy climbs and hits the 450 splash for the pin.  BUT WAIT~!! because Jericho’s hand was on the ropes.  The bell rings and Juvy thinks he’s won, but the match is still going.  Jericho chop-blocks Juvy and goes for a German suplex, but gets rolled up for two.  Clothesline by Jericho gets two.  Juvy turns a powerbomb into a facebuster (or DDT, either way) for two.  Jericho pushes out of a rana from the top, then gets caught in an atomic drop coming down.  Springing rana off the top by Juvy for two.  They trade near falls for a couple twos, then Jericho hits a reverse suplex for two.  Lionsault whiffs for Jericho, then Juvy goes for something but Jericho slams him down and goes to hook in the Liontamer, but Juvy turns that into a cover for two.  Juvy goes for a snap-rana, but Jericho hooks him in the Liontamer in the center of the ring and Juvy has to surrender his mask.  Jericho grabs the microphone and gives an Oscar speech.  He thanks the fans and all his Jericholics.  Juvy unmasks and HOLY SHIT, JUVENTUD GUERRERA IS REALLY MICHAEL JACKSON BEFORE THE BOTCHED NOSE-JOB!!  Okay, that was like of lame but that was the first thing I thought of when I saw him unmasked back in 1998.
**** They started out kind of sloppy, but then picked things up big time.  The false-finish with the 450 splash seemed like a spot that’s been played, but instead of that going straight into the finish they ended up doing a dozen more near falls, all of which could have conceivably been the finish.  Very cool.  Great effort by both guys.

Match #17: WCW Tag Team Championship
(c) Steiner Bros. vs. The Outsiders
2/22/98 Superbrawl VIII

This made the cut?  Jesus.  We get the full opening promo where Scott Hall makes it clear that they are the fan favorites for this match.  Tony Schiavone and Bobby Heenan mock the fans as a result.  These guys had been feuding for basically a full year here.  Time was seriously running short here, as a time-filler Disco/La Parka match went about ten minutes longer then it was supposed to and the Sting/Hogan main event needed at least a full twenty minutes to stink up the joint.  Bobby Heenan picks up on Scott Steiner’s heel turn right off the bat.  Rick starts the match, which is clue #2.  They might as well have fucking advertised it.  Hall throws a toothpick in Rick’s face and shoots him off, but a shoulderblock goes nowhere.  Weak shot to the face by Rick and a clothesline, then a belly-to-belly.  Ten-punch by Rick, then another, then another.  Sick mother fucking belly-to-belly overhead throw by Rick.  Nash comes in but Rick dumps him with a clothesline to clear the ring.  Scott comes in to pose, then clubs Rick.  Tiger Driver to Rick, and Scott is the newest member of the nWo.  Fans pop for it.  Hall covers Rick… for two.  Well that’s a little excessive.  Rick fights both of the Outsiders off, so Scott distracts the referee.  Outsider’s Edge, almost botches it, then retries it, hits it, and we have new champs.
No Rating for this title change angle.  That said, this was completely out of place on this DVD set.  Even with some of the bad matches here, this feels like it doesn’t belong on this set.  I really have no clue why this made the cut.

Match #18
Diamond Dallas Page & Karl Malone vs. Hulk Hogan & Dennis Rodman
7/12/98 Stallamania IV: Hooray for Stalling Bash at the Beach

Kill me.  Dennis Rodman is completely smashed for this match.  The longest stall in the history of our great sport starts.  Malone goes to start with Rodman, but then Rodman bails.  Another lockup and another stall.  A test of strength is also backed away from.  After forever, they finally lockup and Rodman gets a headlock.  Shoot off by Malone and Rodman bails.  Yea, more stalling.  After another six hour pause, Hogan tags in and Malone poses against him.  Malone asks for a test of strength, but this leads to another stall.  They finally lock up and Malone grabs clutch headlock.  He then turns this into a scoopslam.  Malone has earned his paycheck and thus DDP tags in… and the fans boo.  Hogan tags in Rodman and we get MORE STALLING!  Lockup and DDP pushes out of it, leading to Rodman bailing to the corner.  Fans love this shit so much they chant BORING!  After another twenty-two hour stall, Rodman spits on DDP.  Stall and then DDP spits on Rodman.  Feel the magic!  Lockup and Rodman gets an armdrag.  The announcers call it as if the successor to Lou Thesz himself has finally been discovered.  Okay, I blatantly stole that line from R.D. Reynolds, but I’m betting he would be cool with it.  That or he’s a 411 fan and we’ll be hearing from his lawyer.  Lockup and DDP grabs a headlock, which Rodman oversells.  Meeting of the minds, possibly on accident, leads to Rodman comically falling into the ropes.  Lockup and Rodman grabs a headlock, which he WAY over-torques on (big no-no in wrestling as that can cause all kinds of problems).  DDP throws Rodman down in what could very well be a botched spot, and it gets two.  Shoot off and Rodman does a couple leap-frogs, and Rodman goes for… something… or maybe it was DDP, but the end result is Rodman falls down and DDP bounces off the ropes.  Fans laugh at how bad this is, then boo.  It gets two.  DDP, visibly pissed off, tags in Malone.  I’m guessing DDP’s “Positively Page” attitude wasn’t shinning when this match was over.  Malone tags in and Rodman bumps off a kick that Malone hadn’t even come close to completing at that point.  Fuck me.  Tag to Hogan, and unlike Rodman, Malone took this stuff VERY seriously.  From everything I’ve heard, a lot of the WCW guys were very impressed with his professional attitude and how much he work he put in to being a passable wrestler.  He also was very charitable with his large paycheck for this match.  Hey, class guy.  In a different era, before the high contracts of NBA players, I bet a guy like Malone might have ended up dumping basketball for wrestling, much like Ernie Ladd or Verne Gagne did with football.  Malone and Hogan lock up and Hogan grabs a top wristlock.  Meanwhile, Rodman looks like he’s about to hurl on the apron.  Malone leverages Hogan down, and Hogan claims his hair was pulled.  Then Rodman comes in and clubs Malone.  The referee jaws with Hogan and this gives Rodman enough time to stagger into the ring and club Malone.  It’s pretty impressive that someone so piss drunk and inexperienced in wrestling would remember to hit their cue like that.  Hogan mounts some punches on Malone, then hits a thrust to the chest and a blatant choke.  Hogan’s horrible jawing with Malone is funny.  “What’s wrong with going for the throat?”  Body slam by Hogan and some elbowdrops, then a rake of the face with the boot.  Tag to Rodman.  He staggers in and drops an elbow, then another.  Rodman throws Malone into Hogan’s boot, then Hogan tags in to cover for two.  A few punches gets two.  Malone is actually very good at selling and snapping with the punches.  It’s really impressive how much he learned in a short amount of time.  Chinlock by Hogan, and he works the hold by kneeing at Malone’s back.  Rodman comes in to hold Malone for a free shot, then falls over like a lump when Hogan hits the punch on Malone.  Really.  I didn’t think Rodman could sink any lower then this.  Then I saw him on the Apprentice.  Back suplex by Hogan to Rodman, which Malone sells well.  That was one of the things that stood out to me about Malone.  Stunt-casted celebrity matches usually tend to involve a lot of over-selling.  Malone actually studied tapes of guys like Bret Hart, and understood that proper selling is a very big aspect of professional wrestling.  Kudos to him.  Hogan misses an elbowdrop and Malone makes the hot tag.  Page comes off the top rope with a clothesline for Hogan, then knocks an apparently sleeping Rodman off the apron.  He goes to whip Hogan but gets tossed into Rodman’s knee and the heels keep control.  Hogan takes his belt off and whips Page, then allows Rodman to get some choking in.  Shouldn’t choking be Karl Malone’s signature spot?  (I can practically hear all the Utah Jazz fans reading this reaching for their e-mail clients)  Fans chant “Utah Sucks!”  Rodman comes in and the heels double-clothesline Page for two.  Hogan rakes page with his finger-nails, then chokes with the foot.  Whip to the corner and a pretty stiff clothesline from Hogan.  Tag to Rodman and they hit a double-boot.  Rodman almost falls on his ass doing this.  Rodman then tries to go back to the apron, but he’s the legal man.  Rodman needs a nap, so he puts a front-facelock on Page, then tags Hogan.  The fans now chant “Rodman Sucks!”  Hogan distracts the ref while Rodman gets a choke in.  Hogan hits a suplex for two.  Stall, then a tag to Rodman and the both ram Page into the corner.  Malone slaps at Rodman, who hooks a front-facelock back on Page.  DDP almost lifts out of it a couple times, then gets close enough to make the tag but Hogan distracts the referee.  Double-teaming by the heels, then Hogan manages to stay in the ring.  Stupid Referee Syndrome (SRS) at it’s finest.  Hogan shoots page off, hits the big boot, but the legdrop matches.  Hot tag to Malone.  Malone jaws with Hogan, then clotheslines him a couple times.  Clothesline to Rodman that popped the crowd.  Scoopslams for all.  Noggin knocker to the heels, then Malone rams Hogan into the corner a few times.  Big Boot by Malone, then he tags in DDP who hits the Diamond Cutter… for nothing because that apparently pooped out DDP who can’t quite crawl over to make the cover.  Malone hits a Diamond Cutter on Rodman, BUT WAIT~!! because Brutus Beefcake is in to hit a stunner on DDP and it gets the pin for Hogan.  After all that shit, the heels win?  What fucking crap covered crap with crap on the side.  Malone hits the diamond cutter on Beefcake, then the referee.  Yea?
DUD Truly one of the worst matches in the history of wrestling.  Rodman was in no condition to be wrestling, the match was way too long for what they actually did, and it was basically an artistic failure in every way possible.  I hear Karl Malone was soured on wrestling because of the poor reception to this match, and that’s a shame because I hear he’s a big fan and always was interested in possibly pursuing wrestling once his career was over.  And given the fact that this was his first (and only) match and he did better then anyone else in it tells me that he could have made something of himself.  If the WWE wants to stunt-cast and upcoming Wrestlemania, they could do a lot worse then signing Malone to a three-month contract and put him in a tag-title match with MVP against Jericho & Big Show.  It would likely be cheaper then what they spent on Donald Trump who did NOTHING to move the needle.  Anyway, this match was a farce, and anyone who complained that this set doesn’t have enough matches to represent the ‘bad’ of WCW, shut up.  This match more then fills that quota.

Match #19: WCW Championship
(c) Goldberg vs. Diamond Dallas Page
10/25/98 Halloween Havoc

This was the first time a lot of people felt Goldberg’s streak was in danger.  Among other reasons, it was around this time that Goldberg started to be represented by agent Barry Bloom, who wanted to renegotiate his contract.  Bischoff, who previously used to put up little resistance to this stuff, had fired Sean Waltman and sued Ric Flair over similar situations in the months leading to this match.  It put a spin on this match, that’s for sure.  Goldberg’s music is overdubbed here.  I hope when they put out Goldberg’s set (it’s coming… what, did you think they interviewed him JUST for this set?) they pay the license for it.  Funny as it sounds, I’m a Goldberg fan.  It’s true.  I just dug the way he was booked in WCW.  It was an idea so simple and fundamental that I can’t believe nobody else tried it first.  Just have a guy plow the holy crap out of people for months.  Have a big winning streak.  Hype it up.  Never let him talk (what a huge mistake giving him a microphone was).  The only thing I disliked about his gimmick was the security guards.  What the fuck does an undefeated tough guy like Goldberg need them for?

To the match.  Lockup and Goldberg tosses Page into the corner a few times, but the plucky Page keeps coming back at him.  Page finally gives up on that and takes a breather.  Another lockup and Page gets an armdrag.  Instead of sitting there as if to say “What the fuck” Goldberg immediately closes in for another lockup and both guys tumble through the ropes and to the floor.  Nice.  They break clean there and return to the ring.  Page is popular, but Goldberg is the clear favor.  Lockup and Page gets a headlock takedown.  Page goes for a legsweep, which Goldberg backflips away from to escape, but Page follows it up with another.  They quickly go into a shove-off, then another lockup which Goldberg doesn’t take the time to mile.  He fires off a fireman’s carry into a cross-armbreaker.  I still dig watching this old Goldberg matches, because he was so unconventional.  Anyone who says he sucked in the ring can fuck off.  His style was so unique that he was never close to boring, especially during the extended winning streak in WCW.  Page goes for the Diamond Cutter, then Goldberg braces himself as if to say “go ahead and try!” and Page bails.  Lockup and Goldberg grabs a hammerlock, then a wristlock.  Page flips around to get out of it and chains it into a hammerlock of his own.  Goldberg pushes out of it and gets a shoulderblock, knocking Page out of the ring.  Goldberg closes in but Page hangs him up on the ropes, then dives in quickly to follow it up with a spinning-neckbreaker.  Russian-legsweep for two by Page.  Front-facelock now by Page, and this actually slows the match down as Goldberg doesn’t do a lot to fight out of it.  This was one of his problems, and lots of guys talk about how he would get nervous in rest-holds because he didn’t want to overstep the other wrestler who was always the one leading him through the match.  Which is why his infamous match with Steven Regal made him look so bad, because Regal used a lot of holds and Goldberg would miss his cues to come back.  Goldberg muscles to his feet and spins with a neckbreaker to escape.  Stiff punch by Goldberg, then he ducks a roundhouse by Page and punches him in the back.  Clutch-suplex by Goldberg, then a sidewalk slam gets two.  Another cross-armbar by Goldberg, which he rolls through.  Head-scissors by Page, but Goldberg pops out of it and hits the Hart-Stopping side-kick.  He tries to spear Page in the corner but misses and kills himself on the ring post, and for the first time in his career the fans now totally buy him as beatable.  Goldberg actually sells the arm injury well enough, then Page hits a flying clothesline off the top for two.  Stompery by Page, then a shoot off but Page catches him in a DDT while Goldberg slams him.  Both guys are out.  Page is up first and calls for the diamond cutter.  He turns around and Goldberg is fully recovered and plows him down with the spear.  Huge pop from the crowd.  Goldberg hurts himself doing the move and continues to sell the arm injury very well.  Goldberg tries to pick up Page for the jackhammer, but he can’t lift Page up for it.  He gets a burst of energy and lifts Page up, only for DDP to flip out of it and hit the diamond cutter, but it’s another double knock-out.  Page finally recovers enough to cover Goldberg for two.  He sets up Goldberg for a suplex, but Goldberg turns this into the jackhammer for the pin.
**** Definitely the best match of Goldberg’s career.  Typical non-conformist stuff from Goldberg plus some really good drama spots and actually some really good selling from him as well.  Crowd remained solidly behind him, and after this match anyone who thought it was a good idea to take the title off of him should be drawn and quartered.

Match #20: WCW Championship
(c) Booker T vs. Lance Storm
8/7/00 Nitro

Interesting choice to end the set with.  I didn’t watch WCW at this time have no idea why this was picked.  I actually can’t picture anything with Booker T being good enough to pick, leading me to think that this was picked at random.  But who knows?  Storm is the Hardcore, Cruiserweight, and United States Champion here.  Storm grabs a microphone and talks about how tonight he will become one of the truly great Canadians.  Lockup and Booker gets a shoulderblock.  Shoot off and Booker gets a forearm.  Storm goes for a waistlock but Booker elbows out of it.  Meanwhile, the camera focuses on Mike Awesome and some fat ass bitch with a plate of ham sandwiches.  For fucks sakes, this is why nobody watched WCW.  Match is impossible to follow as a result.  Storm dropkicks Booker in the leg, but we zoom to a close-up for Awesome on the announce table.  Storm hits a plancha off the top rope, then we focus more on the Hangman, the Fat Bitch, and the plate of sandwiches.  Back in, we cut to a shot of a fan holding up a Canadian Maple Leaf sign.  This shit is unwatchable.  One more cut like that and I’m done.  Storm slaps at Booker in the corner, then Booker slaps back and fires off a vertical suplex.  Storm goes for the maple leaf, but Booker kicks out of it.  Jawbreaker by Storm but Booker catches a superkick.  Storm kicks him down, then Booker hits a kick to the gut and hits the scissors kick.  Harlem side-kick gets two.  Thrust-kick to the chest, but Storm gets a foot up in the corner.  Storm dives off the top at Booker but gets caught in a slam for two.  Storm rolls through a slam and hooks in the maple leaf.  The announcers are beyond obnoxious during this whole match.  Booker makes the ropes.  Superkick by Storm only staggers Booker, who hits a spinebuster for two.  Missile dropkick for two.  Book Bottom by the Book and he wins the match.  After the match, Jeff Jarrett shows up and kills the fat chick with a guitar.  Jesus Christ, it’s a miracle that Nitro had the ratings it did during this period.
1/2* Practically worthless.  I would recommend even the most dense fan turn their disc off after the Page/Goldberg match.

BOTTOM LINE: Twenty matches, ten of which I scored as four-stars or better.  Only one of those matches is a repeat from another set (that being Flair/Steamboat, which was on the Greatest Superstars of the 80s).  Because this isn’t a collection of one wrestler’s highlights, the variety of matches is much better then the other great sets the WWE produced, like the Flair collection, Bret Hart’s set, Chris Benoit’s, Brian Pillman’s, etc.  Thus I’m ready to declare this the best DVD ever produced by the WWE.  For quality and variety, nothing out there beats it.  Big thumbs up. Now that the WWE is reaching into it’s “Lost Classics” collection (starting with Hulk Hogan) I’m guessing we’ll see more lost gems of WCW in the future.  This is only the beginning.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,