Here’s one from the dork ages of WCW. 1992 was a banner year for WCW with a lot of great matches, but by 1993 things had really fallen. We were building towards a Sid/Vader Starrcade main event that didn’t end up happening because Sid stabbed Arn Anderson and nearly killed him a few weeks after this. Anyway, we have a great and somewhat forgotten main event here: Vader vs. Cactus Jack in a “Spin the Wheel, Make the Deal” match. That means Vader spins a wheel to determine the stipulation of the match. Last year it was Sting vs. Jake Roberts and the wheel landed on “Coal Miners Glove Match” so anything really can happen here. Either they didn’t gimmick the wheel, screwed up gimmicking it, or the bookers were just fucking morons and thought a Coal Miners Glove match was a good idea.
This is the high point for Mick Foley’s stardom in WCW, but it does go to show that they pushed him a lot more than people realize. It turns out a lot of the people who were “held back” in WCW weren’t really held back nearly as much as you would think. I’d include Austin, Jericho, Benoit, Guerrero in that category too. None of them really became main eventers, but there were good reasons for all of them not to. Anyway, let’s get to the show:
We start with a mini-movie. This one is a forgotten classic. Kids come to Trick or Treat at Tony Schiavone’s house, where he creepily invites them inside. He then rips off his skin to reveal himself as a monster. That was actually pretty well done, though it had nothing to do with wrestling.
Our hosts are Tony Schiavone and Jesse Ventura. Amusingly, Tony is dressed as Ventura.
Ice Train, Charlie Norris, and The Shockmaster vs. The Equalizer and Harlem Heat
Oy, rough way to start the show. Unsurprisingly, this match is not good. Yes, this is THAT “The Shockmaster.” He was around for awhile after his disastrous debut.
The heels work on Norris for awhile. The only real highlight is Booker busting out the Scissor Kick. No Spin-a-roonie, though. Booker misses a Splash, Shockmaster comes in, and he gets the pin after some kind of Bearhug Slam at a borderline excruciating 9:45.
Analysis: 1/2*. Didn’t belong on PPV.
Paul Orndorff vs. Ricky Steamboat
Orndorff is accompanied by Assassin #1. The crowd riles up Orndorff with “Paula” chants. Orndorff gets the early advantage by jumping Steamboat while he’s removing his dragon wings. Steamboat tries to run all the way down the aisle to hit a Body Press, but Orndorff sees it coming and dodges. Steamboat hits some kind of Spinning Armdrag and works on Ordnorff’s arm. He eventually starts slamming Orndorff’s arm into the post. I think they were teasing a Steamboat heel turn at this point, because he had been cheating a lot in his last few matches. Couple minutes go by with Steamboat continuing to work on the arm. Orndorff yanks Steamboat off the apron while he’s talking to the referee and quickly takes over. He pounds Steamboat on the outside and then throws him into the crowd. They go back in the ring and Steamboat throws Orndorff out to the ramp, then hits the Flying Chop from the top rope.
Running Atomic Drop by Steamboat. Another Flying Chop from the top rope. Orndorff counters a Backdrop by slamming Steamboat into the mat. Steamboat Backdrops out of a Piledriver attempt. Steamboat gets a Belly to Back Suplex and goes up top. Flying Body Press, but the Assassin distracts the referee to prevent the pin. Orndorff Backdrops Steamboat to the mat behind the referee’s back, and then Assassin loads up his mask and headbutts Steamboat. Steamboat is unable to get back into the ring and is counted out at 18:36.
Analysis: ***. Solid match. Pretty much what you would expect from these two.
WCW World Television Championship: Lord Steven Regal (c) vs. Davey Boy Smith
Regal doesn’t want to lock up because Davey is covered in baby oil. I’d have the same reaction. The first few minutes are an entertaining series of mat wrestling counters. Davey Boy even does a front flip at one point. The story is that Regal is a snooty aristocrat and Smith is a commoner, so it makes sense as a story for Davey to try to show-off and out-wrestle Regal. Bulldog ends up locking in a Surfboard. Regal gets a knee to the gut after Davey hits the ropes to take over. Regal busts out a Somersault Splash. Regal goes to work on Davey’s arm.
Five minutes left in the match. Bulldog gets a Clothesline with four minutes to go, but Regal shuts down his comeback with a knee to the midsection. Regal continues to work holds with under two minutes to go. Smith comes back with one minute to go. Clothesline, Suplex. 30 seconds left. Running Powerslam! Regal kicks out. Wow. I think they botched the timing on that one, because it would make more sense for that to be the last move. Davey hits a Piledriver, but time expires at 15:00.
Analysis: ***1/2. Good match. Really enjoyed the mat wrestling from these two. And I’ve always been a sucker for time limit draws. Great way to build heat on the heel and build up anticipation.
Vader comes out to spin the wheel and determine the stipulation for his match tonight. It lands on the Texas Death Match. Definitely an improvement on the Coal Miners Glove.
WCW United States Championship: Dustin Rhodes (c) vs. Steve Austin
Austin dicklishly slaps Rhodes across the face to start. Austin controls the early portions of the match. Lots of punches, elbows, and headlocks. Rhodes makes a comeback mostly consisting of punches and ramming Austin’s head into the turnbuckle. Austin misses a corner knee and tumbles over the top to the floor. Rhodes goes right to the leg with a Toe Hold. Austin manages to distract the referee and kick Dustin straight in the nuts. That’ll put him down. Austin drops a few knees and then grabs a Chinlock. Dustin tries to throw Austin into the corner, but he manages to hit a Knee Drop instead after bouncing off the corner. Rhodes gets going with a Backdrop. Austin counters a Bulldog attempt by crotching Dustin on the top rope. Austin gets Dustin in the tree of woe, but the referee lets him out. Dustin fights his way out of the Stun Gun and they trade Sunset Flips. Austin does a Double Leg Takedown and pins Dustin with his feet on the ropes, but the referee spots it. Austin thinks he’s won, so Dustin sneaks up behind him and pins him at 14:25.
Analysis: **1/2. Too slow for my tastes. Finish really came out of nowhere too.
A frustrated Austin blasts Dustin in the face with the belt and leaves with it.
WCW World Tag Team Championship: 2 Cold Scorpio and Marcus Bagwell (c) vs. The Nasty Boys
Bagwell and Scorpio beat the Nasties on Saturday Night the night before this to win the belts. Bagwell force kisses Missy Hyatt, and the crowd roars for the sexual assault. Stay classy, professional wrestling. Loud “Whoomp, there it is!” chant from the crowd. It’s definitely 1993. A quick Flying Body Press from Scorpio takes down both Saggs and Knobbs. The Nasties bail and Scorpio takes them out with a Plancha to the floor. Scorpio and Bagwell control the next portion of the match with double teams and high-flying offense. Bagwell ends up getting dumped over the top to the floor and the Nasties take over. Saggs hits a Back Suplex out on the floor and then the Nasties roll their heat segment on Bagwell.
Knobbs telegraphs a Backdrop and Bagwell slams him to the mat by his hair. That allows Bagwell to tag in Scorpio, but the referee didn’t see it. Bagwell counters a corner charge and makes the tag to Scorpio. Scorpio Spin Kicks and Dropkicks both Nasties. Moonsault by Scorpio! Pier six brawl in the ring as Missy Hyatt and Teddy Long get into it on the apron. Scorpio hits the 450 Splash on Knobbs, but Saggs pulls of his boot and blasts Scorpio in the head with it. That’s enough for the pin at 14:40 as the Nasties regain the tag team titles.
Analysis: **3/4. Fun tag match. The Nasties heat segment was pretty dull as per usual, but Scorpio and Bagwell were a lot of fun with their offense.
Eric Bischoff interviews Sid and Col. Rob Parker. Sid still rules the world.
Sting vs. Sid Vicious
Let’s see if they can top their stinker from Halloween Havoc 1990. This match is being billed as determining who is the “franchise” of WCW. Sting immediately slams and Clotheslines Sid to the mat. Again, I would prefer it if he actually built up to that rather than just doing it immediately. Sting follows Sid to the floor and knocks him over the guardrail. They brawl into the crowd, which was a novelty back then. They get back into the ring and Sting hits a Flying Clothesline from the top rope. Parker grabs Sting’s foot while he hits the ropes and Sid hits a Chokeslam. Lots of choking and stomping ensues. Sid hits one of the weakest chair shots I’ve ever seen on Sting. Beahugs and Chinlocks from Sid. Sting finally elbows his way out and hits a Stinger Splash, then another. Parker tries to trip Sting, but accidentally takes down Sid instead. While Sid yells at Parker, Sting rolls him up for the pin at 10:42.
Analysis: 1/2*. That was pretty bad. Just tons of restholds from Sid after Sting’s initial flurry.
They tease Sid turning on Parker, but he ends up walking away. They were planning a Sid face turn and a run against Vader for Starrcade, but then Sid went and stabbed Arn Anderson and got himself fired.
We get a shot of Vader and Cactus Jack preparing for their match. Cactus sits holding himself in the style that Foley would as Mankind later in his career. Vader warms up by throwing punches.
WCW International World Heavyweight Championship: Rick Rude (c) vs. Ric Flair
The WCW International Heavyweight Championship was created when the NWA and WCW had a falling out and WCW was no longer able to feature the NWA World Heavyweight Championship on its programming. They just invented a title and claimed it represented the fictional enterprise “WCW International.” Not any faker than any other wrestling championship, I guess.
Terry Taylor is acting as outside enforcer here. Flair goes on offense right away. Rude blocks a corner charge and goes up top. He misses a Knee Drop, leading Flair to hit a Kneebreaker and lock on the Figure Four. Rude makes it to the ropes after about a minute. Flair wraps Rude’s leg around the ring post. Flair gets back in the ring and keeps working the leg. Rude eventually manages to throw Flair to the floor. Flair gets back in and hits a Body Press, sending them both over the top to the floor. Flair ends up coming off the top rope and hitting a Forearm. Flair tries it again, but Rude hits him with a shot to the gut. Rude goes for a chair and Taylor rips it away from him. Rude sits into a Rear Chinlock. After some gyrating, he goes to the top rope and hits a Forearm. After a LONG Chinlock, Flair does the Flair Flip and gets caught with a Clothesline while running the apron. Rude Suplexes Flair from the apron to the floor. Rude hits another Forearm from the top rope. Rude shuts down a Flair comeback attempt with a Clothesline and locks on a Bearhug. Rude goes to the top and misses a Forearm. Flair hits the Rude Awakening! Only gets two.
Flair hits a Suplex and goes up top. He comes off the top and eats Rude’s boots. Rude whips Flair into the corner and knocks down the referee in the process. Dusty was booking at this point, so we all know what’s coming. Taylor gets into the ring to referee and immediately gets bumped. Rude takes a swing at Flair with a loaded fist, but Flair ducks and hits a Back Suplex. Flair gets hold of the foreign object and hits Rude in the face with it. Flair covers and appears to get the three count, but Randy Anderson calls for the DQ from the floor at 19:22.
Analysis: **3/4. Finish definitely hurt the match. I mostly enjoyed the action, but the crowd deserved a definitive finish.
Fight ensues after the match when Rude tries to kidnap Fifi.
Texas Death Match: Big Van Vader vs. Cactus Jack
Rules of the Texas Death Match:
-Pinfalls and submissions count anywhere.
-No disqualifications or count outs.
-After being pinned or submitting, the man who was pinned has a ten count to rise to his feet. If he does, the match continues.
-30 second rest period between falls.
-The match ends when one of the competitors cannot answer the ten count.
So it’s a Last Man Standing Match, but you have to get a pin or submission to trigger the ten count. I think I like this format more because it means the action is less broken up. In the typical LMS rules, there’s too much standing around waiting for one of the guys to get up. The WCW Championship is not on the line here. This has been building since April, when Vader Powerbombed Cactus on a concrete floor and put him out of action for months. While WCW horribly botched the build to this match, the fans are still excited to see it.
Vader is out first with Harley Race. Cactus is out second and he and Vader rumble out on the ramp. Vader quickly removes his mask. This shit is going to get real in a hurry. Jack puts Vader into the ring post and hits him with a chair. Cactus hits Vader with another chair shot. They go into the ring and Vader blocks a corner charge. Stiff punches from Vader in the corner. Vader knocks Cactus out onto the ramp with a right hand. Vader tries to Suplex Cactus into the ring, but Cactus reverses and Suplexes Vader over the top onto the ramp.
Cactus is busted open. Might have been the hard way. Back Suplex by Cactus on the ramp. Another chair shot by Cactus. They’ve fought all the way to the top of the stage and end up rolling into a grave. Man, Cactus is really bleeding out of his eye. Definitely not a blade job. Vader comes out of the grave bleeding. Cactus is there to meet him with a Clothesline. Cactus gets the pin. Vader is up by three, but gets hit in the face with a prop cactus from the stage. That sends him off the ramp onto the floor, and Cactus hits the Cactus Jack Elbow from the ramp to the floor. That’s good for another pin. Vader is up by four. Vader gets a second wind and starts beating down Cactus. Cactus throws a table into the ring. Vader gets whipped into it, but it doesn’t break. Vader stumbles out of the ring, so Cactus comes flying off the apron with a Sunset Flip attempt. Vader blocks it and tries a Butt Splash, but Cactus moves. Cactus knocks Vader over the rail into the crowd and tries a Somersault Splash, but Vader moves and Cactus splats onto the concrete.
Vader hits Cactus with a chair. We see that Race has a tazer. Vader slams Cactus and hits the TOP ROPE MOONSAULT! That’s a pin for Vader. Cactus makes it to his feet at three. Probably should have drawn that out until nine. Vader beats on Cactus in the corner and throws him out onto the ramp. Cactus gets Vader in a Sleeper and climbs up onto his back. Holy shit, Vader just jumped backwards and landed with all his weight on Foley. Fuck, that could have killed him.
According to Have a Nice Day, Foley was actually intending to get injured there so he could cash in his insurance policy and retire. Didn’t happen, because his body is unbreakable. Vader blasts Cactus in the face with a chair and then DDTs him on the chair. Cactus is out and Vader pins him. Vader ignores the rest period and pulls Cactus to his feet. Cactus comes back and DDTs Vader on the chair! They’re both down and the referee starts counting. Cactus makes it to his feet, but Race tazes him and Cactus goes down. Vader is on his feet and Cactus is out. Vader wins at 15:57.
Analysis: ****1/2. Amazing brawl, one of the best and most realistic I’ve ever seen. Those guys were just beating the piss out of each other. No regard for safety or health. It’s cringe inducing, but also damn entertaining. I didn’t care for the way the match was booked. I don’t think I would have let Cactus pin Vader. It rubs me the wrong way that Cactus pinned the WCW Champion twice, especially knowing that they didn’t intend to do much of anything with Cactus afterward. I didn’t think the finish made a ton of sense, as Cactus had already risen to his feet during the rest period. Definitely would have made more sense if he hadn’t gotten up and DDTed Vader. Anyway, my quibbles aside that was a phenomenal match and should have resulted in Cactus being solidified as a main eventer. Unfortunately, this would be his only PPV main event in WCW, as he would slide back into the midcard after this.
Jack gets back up and hits the Double Arm DDT on Race. Vader doesn’t seem concerned about that and just takes off. Credits roll.
Overall: Pretty good show. A big improvement on the previous 1993 shows. The main event was outstanding, and several of the undercard matches were pretty good too. The Sting/Sid match and the opener both sucked, but everything else was at least watchable. I wouldn’t recommend picking this show up beyond watching the main event if you’ve never seen it before.