Here we are, back again to look at the world of WCW in 1999 through the eyes of the companies’ C Shows. First up – WCW Worldwide.
For some reasons that I am completely unaware of, WCW Worldwide is about one and a half weeks behind the action. Thus, this episode is a strange one as it is covering events on the January 4th Nitro. I can only assume there will be a time period when the events sync back up or at least move a little bit closer than they are at the moment.
The big news from the Nitro was ‘The Fingerpoke of Doom’. We get a recap of Miss Elizabeth’s role in the arrest of Goldberg, the match and the aftermath. Now, as I mentioned in my first column looking at these shows, this is often touted as one of the biggest angles in the downfall of WCW. Having never seen the aftermath until this show, I’d argue that it is as detrimental. Goldberg is beaten down, hanfcuffed to the ropes, tazered and spray-painted by the now, the stable assisted by a now-heel Lex Luger. If Goldberg had come out and ran off the now, at least it would leave the fans with a notion that there was a member of WCW who had the NWOs number. Instead, it all just seemed too clinical, too absolute and I didn’t like it at all.
The other notable angle covered on Worldwide is the continued disintegration of the friendship between Billy Kidman and Rey Mysterio Jr. This time, during a match with Psychosis and Juventud Guerrera, Kidman mistakenly hits Mysterio with a top rope dropkick leaving him easy prey for a Psychosis legdrop off of the top rope for the pinfall. Whilst the LWO story dies a death around this time due to Eddie’s real-life injuries, this is an interesting little sidestory to the bigger picture of Rey’s reluctant LWO membership. I did like that Pyschosis picked up the pinfall – I’ve always been a sucker for a top rope legdrop.
This week I’m even treated to a couple of matches on the show – lucky me! At the time I committed to this, I didn’t actually realise Worldwide showed any of its own matches, so I can only imagine the type of wrestlers who end up wrestling on Worldwide.
Yikes, that says it all.
The first of two matches on the card sees David Sierra vs Lorenzo.Sierra seems to be a guy who was popular in other promotions but is relegated to perpetual job duty, whilst Lorenzo just looks…awful. The crowd do seem to enjoy what he brings to the table to an extent, but a man who has a slam as a finisher THAT HE BOTCHES is never going to amount to anything. Seriously, the slam looks like he fell on him rather than delivering any real impact. There is talk before the match that Lorenzo is a graduate from the Power Plant…this is not a good advert for the Power Plant.
The other match on the show is Mark LaRoux (a pre-Lash Leroux) vs Rick Fuller. What I never realised with WCW was the amount of big, big guys they seemed to have just sitting about on the roster. Factoring in your names such as Nash and The Giant, you have guys like Wrath and Bam Bam, before going even further down to find guys such as Chase Tatum and Rick Fuller. Fuller is at least more entertaining than Lorenzo, and has some decent big man offense. They do seem to be trying to make him an ‘athletic’ big guy, as he hits a spinning kick and a wheel kick, as well as locking in a submission hold. His finisher did make me cringe, as he hit a ‘twisting piledriver’ as the commentators called it, though it is basically a jumping tombstone that looked very unsafe. LaRoux bumps well and does very little else.
WCW Saturday Night
The opening match of the night sees the aforementioned Wrath versus Barry Horowitz. I’d argue that there is very little that sums up WCW at this time better than the fact that they signed Barry Horowitz to a contract. Don’t get me wrong, I like him, but the fact that he was still peddling his wares in WCW at this time just bemuses me. To be fair, he does bring a lot to this match/extended squash, as he tries to schoolboy Wrath, hits him with a reverse elbow off of the second rope and nails him with some goofy, baseball-esque wind-up punches. The ending is inevitable though, with Wrath using the excellent Meltdown for the victory. The big debate is whether he can use the move to defeat Bam Bam Bigelow, whom he will face at Souled/Out.
Oh, David Sierra, why do I get the feeling I will be subjected to more of your matches than I could have ever imagined doing this column? Considering the man lost to Lorenzo, it is unsurprising when he also gets defeated by Chad Fortune. It feels as if Sierra attracts the bad finishes as well, as Fortune’s finisher starts as a side-slam style setup before dropping back into a russian legsweep style move – whatever it is, it looks poor. Fortune is just lanky looking and doesn’t excite me in the slightest.
We see clips from Nitro now, with Ric Flair disbanding the LWO. There is also footage of the Flair and Flair brawling with Perfect and Windham just in time to setup their match at Souled/Out. Finally, we see Konnan seemingly kicked out of the NWO as the stable take exception to his interruption of Luger’s in-ring beatdown of Rey Mysterio.
The action in the ring is short and sweet as Mike Tolbert faces a returning Meng. Meng locks on the Tongan Death Grip within a minute and is victorious. Outside of how oddly muscular Tolbert looks, nothing really to discuss.
The shortness of the last match could only be to make way for a Konnan interview where he promises to beat Luger at Souled/Out. He also calls the members of the NWO ‘strawberries’, which is a new one by me. Further action from Nitro sees the build-up to the Bam Bam/Wrath match, as Wrath interferes in a match between Bigelow and Scott Hall. We are already starting to see the overkill of angles/interference within even mid-card matches, and this is no exception. Not only does Wrath interfere, Disco Inferno does as well, handing Hall the stun stick, which is used to counter Bigelow’s attempts at nailing Greetings From Asbury Park. Hall picks up the victory and Bigelow seeks revenge at the PPV.
Speaking of Disco, he is the next man to hit the ring as he takes on Jeff Warner. A strangely structured match, Warner has control for the majority of it but is often tentative with his offense and doesn’t look very comfortable. Disco fights back but is quickly shut down. However, a missed dropkick from Warner leaves him open to the Chartbuster and a loss to Disco. As (arguably) boring as Disco is in terms of his ringwork, he is hard to dislike due to how hard he tries to make the gimmick work.
After an NWO interview from Nitro where Hogan brings down the Hells Angels as back up, we get the long awaited rematch between… Chris Adams and Chip Minton. Yes, I don’t know why they are bothering either. Even stranger, but Chris Adams is wearing a gi to the ring. In the first match, Minton got the underdog victory with a big splash, so Adams is looking to get revenge. Even better than this being a rematch of a feud time forgot, but Chip Minton is actually a former US bobsledder who uses his fifth place at the Olympics as his heel schtick, blaming the other men for not winning the gold. The match is short, disjointed but surprisingly OK. Minton is bland but athletic, and Adams looks stupid in a gi but can wrestle. Feeding into the wearing of the gi/return to his roots, Adams nails the superkick but then wraps Minton in an arm/neck submission for the tapout victory.
More Nitro footage as we see Ric Flair torment Eric Bischoff on his first day with Flair as the new boss, and Kevin Nash using a wrench to hit The Giant and defeat him for the three count. If I am able to fully understand the ramifications of this match, I believe that leaves Nash as the ‘NWOs Giant’.
Just before the main event of the evening, we see the battle of the blands as Scotty Riggs, newly liberated from the Flock, faces Scott Putski. I’m impressed at how Putski looks, in as much as he doesn’t look as if he might explode like he did when he was in the WWF. The commentator’s big discussion point is Riggs’ eye, which has miraculously healed now that there is no need for him to be in the Flock. A fine, if a little boring, match, Riggs wins with the fivearm (that some people still call it this is, in itself, very worrying).
In the main event of the evening, we see a tag team match that is not in the tag team tournament, as Bobby Eaton and Kenny Kaos meet Bobby Duncum Jr and Mike Enos. The match is decent enough, with a couple of wrestlers who bring the experience and a couple who bring the power moves and strength. Particularly impressive is Enos nailing a slam after capturing a leapfrogging Kaos. The end is strange though, as Robbie Rage heads down to the ring to scope out his previous partner, Kaos. At no point does Kaos see Rage, Duncum Jr. hits a legdrop on Kaos and the ref counts to three, even though it appears there was a kick out before his hand hit the mat for the third time. Even Duncum Jr. looked confused by the outcome, so it could only really be a botched finish.
This episode just proved to highlight to me how big the roster WCW worked with was at this time. Though I’m sure some of these guys were on shorter contracts or paid per appearance, the fact that they could fill their show with a raft of different guys that wouldn’t even sniff the rarefied air of Nitro is impressive. I’ll gladly take a few more matches with Meng whilst I’m at it as well.