Usually, I've been watching lucha when I do these, but hey, I've got tons of old WCW/WWF tapes around. Why not watch one of those? So, let's head back to June 1998 and see what I preserved for the ages.
1. Fit Finlay vs. Scott Louden [Worldwide]
The aroma of carnage is in the air already. Scott's a bald guy with Storm on his singlet, and Fit Finlay beats the hell out of him in this. The first forearm has me wincing as it echoes through the studio. As does a clothesline. As does a boot to the back. Louden did try a dropkick, with Watts-ian results, even though Scott's looked like it would land below the knee. I'm sure Fit's shoelaces would have been in pain. Nasty looing tombstone to end this.
2. Reese vs. Jim Duggan [Worldwide]
I'd love to hear compelling reasons why I kept this match on this tape.
3. Hammer & Juventud Guerrera vs. Horace & Reese [Nitro]
Back-to-back Reese matches? I've got to index these things before watching them. However, if you've ever wondered if Hammer could do a pescado, this match answered the question. Mind you, one would need to add the "but not very well" amendment to that. Juventud gets the chokeslam to end it.
4. Booker T vs. Chris Benoit [Nitro]
Mercifully, something ends the streak of Reese-ness. Match #6 in the best-of-7 series. There is a nice-length to the feeling out process to start this, something that seems so strange when you watch today's Monday Night programs. There's nothing earth-shattering in this one, but there is solid work, with much more stiff brawling as opposed to the wrestling, which Tenay can finally get in a word beyond Tony's constant shills to point out. Stevie Ray comes to ringside, and gets in a pep talk. Good heat as we approach the ending portion, which sees a Booker kick out of the German suplex, a series of flashy kicks from Booker T. Benoit fires back with Ye Olde Mudhole Stomp, but when Benoit misses a corner charge, Booker sunset flips him for 3.
5. Evan Karagis vs. Dean Malenko [WCW Saturday Night]
Features the stretchiest Texas Cloverleaf known to man. Evan starts flopping around like a fish out of water as Malenko sets for the hold, prompting Malenko to try to make a semi-circle out of Karagias when he finally gets to apply the hold, falling short by only a few inches. A short peek through RSPW's archives claimed that Malenko was depushed out of his angle with Jericho as punishment for this.
6. Bradshaw/TAKA Michinoku vs. Steve Boz/Mike Anthony [Shotgun]
Oh yes. The always-charming Americanize the foreigner angle. It is close, but I think that the jobbers get in more offense than TAKA. Bradshaw doesn't sell anything in this one (Quelle surprise), and wins with the Lariat on Anthony.
7. Kurrgan vs. Kevin Quinn [Shotgun]
Special guest ring announcer is the incomprehensible Fred the Elephant Boy, but that is still more interesting than the actual match.
8. Wayne Bloom vs. Fidel Sierra [Worldwide]
Make it stop. Please make it stop. A squash for the (far) lesser Beverly Brother. Absolutely nothing of note. Bloom wins the battle of the lower than lowcarders.
9. Barbarian vs. The British Bulldog [Worldwide]
I fast forward. Bulldog with the meandering powerslam.
10. Val Venis vs. Trench Phillips [Shotgun]
If you didn't watch the WWF at this time, you'd have to guess who did the adult entertainment star gimmick from the matchlist. Long live the attitude era! In defense, this is actually good and pretty competitive. Nice mat stuff from both, which surprised me, especially from Trench. It's the same type of squash you'd see on Heat with Val, but I don't mind those, and I don't mind this.
11. Dustin Runnels, Terry Funk & Bradshaw vs. Jerry Lawler, Brian Christopher & Scott Taylor [Shotgun]
I'm guessing this show was taped in Texas, but I really can't be bothered to check. Jacquelyn isn't involved on the Texans side in any form. It couldn't be Memphis, as Lawler gets 2 piledrivers in on Funk without the coroner getting a phone call. Bradshaw wins the match for his team with the Lariat.
12. Horace (w/ Lodi) vs. Kanyon [Nitro]
Quick "innovative offense" from Kanyon, with a cradle neckbreaker, a Pedigree variant (Kanyon drives a kneeling Horace's head to the mat from behind). Horace busts out a tope, so I officially can't hate this, except for Tony shilling Karl Malone & DDP driving a truck to Tampa for somethingorother. Lodi interferes, with no success, and then Horace gets Flatlined for 3.
I've got some tapes like this...I actually have Superstars from Superbowl Suday with a Fatal 4 ways tag elimination match involving the Godwinns, Body Donnas, Owen/Davey, and Doug Fernus/Phil Lafon I think. Anyways I think Owen and Davey Boy pull off the win.
Banned Once! The independant thought alarm went off, knew to much about b*tching.
The RAW Bowl! Where teams could call a 'timeout' if they were getting pinned! That was a pretty clever gimmick match, actually.
"When this bogus term alternative rock was being thrown at every '70s retro rehash folk group, we were challenging people to new sonic ideas. If some little snotty anarchist with an Apple Mac and an attitude thinks he invented dance music and the big rock group is coming into his territory, [that's] ridiculous." - Bono, 1997
And the Superstars Bowl was won by Faarooq & Crush. I've got that in tape as well, surrounded by the same years Royal Rumble and Superbrawl. Thankfully, that wasn't played for football like the RAW bowl, although the Godwinns wore football jrseys.
So why begrudge Randy Orton from the start? He worked his ass off in OVW. He's worked his ass off in WWE and has constantly been improving. He's got an enormous amount of pressure on him because all eyes are on him.