I tried my hand at recapping shows for the first time back in 2001, on SlashWrestling. I knew that I wanted to look back at my favourite time in wrestling history; but I didn’t have the tape library, or the ability to really convey what WCW meant to me.
The first recap I did was of Great American Bash 1996, which is my favourite show in wrestling history. It was amazing, to me, how quickly WCW turned the corner from campy, overbearing characters like Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, and the Dungeon of Doom who were dominating the earlier half of the year, and managed to immediately start pumping out top quality material. Great American Bash was the perfect storm of great timing, and solid writing coming together.
I haven’t watched this show in nearly a decade. My memories are fond, but I don’t know if they’ll hold up. Wrestling has changed, and some of the earliest stages of what we saw from a Cruiserweight perspective, or even a hardcore brawl, might not compare to what we see today. I go into this show both with very high expectations – and a little bit of uneasiness. Is it still as great, in 2013, as it was in 1996, or even 2001?
There’s really only one way to find out.
COACH HEENAN opens the show, promising he’s ready, his team is ready, and hopes to god the “pigskinned buffoons” are ready. On Savage; “I’m not scared, I’m not worried, I’m not scared!!!”
COACH SAVAGE hangs out with the Power and Strength of MONGO MCMICHAEL and KEVIN GREENE.
RIC FLAIR, ARN ANDERSON, WOMAN, and ELIZABETH promise to take no prisoners.
LEX LUGER is still standing. Oh.
THE GIANT and JIMMY HART promise to show Luger first-hand what the definition of a Giant really is.
And we are LIVE from Baltimore, Maryland with hosts TONY SCHIAVONE, DUSTY RHODES. SGT. CRAIG PITTMAN earns a PPV cut by presenting the flag during the national anthem.
FIRE & ICE vs. THE STEINER BROTHERS (in a There Must Be A Winner match)
I assume the stipulation simply means that there can’t be a countout or double pinfall, but it’s pro-wrestling, so if a stipulation can be violated I’m sure we’ll find a way. While Dusty works on figuring out whether or not the Steiners were born brothers or not, Train throws Scotty with a belly to belly. A clothesline gets a quick 2. Scott comes back with hiptosses for Ice, then Fire, while Rick runs around barking. Of course, Rick is not actually a dog, he’s just brain damaged. Norton chops away at Rick, but Steiner explodes out of the corner with a clothesline and drops him. A belly to belly gets 2, and in tags Scott. Dropkick is right on the kisser, but Norton comes back with a crucifix slam right on Scott’s shoulders, and he rolls to the outside in serious pain. Hard to tell if that’s a legit injury or not, but Scott gets back in quickly, where Train throws him with a snap suplex. Belly to belly gets 2. Norton sneaks in a cheap shot, drawing the ire of Rick who makes faces. Avalanche splash squashes Scott, but a second attempt is blocked and Train is nailed with a belly to belly. Clothesline is on point, so Train tags in Norton, who walks right into an UGLY t-bone right on his head! Jeeeezus. Scott heads up, but Norton catches him in mid-air and after a struggle completes a powerslam for 2. Norton nails the shoulderbreaker, and nearly botches it – Christ man, these guys are gonna kill each other. Norton tries for a submission from a cross armbreaker, and even Rick can’t make him break it despite kicking Norton square in the face 5 or 6 times in a row! Scott won’t tap, so Norton goes for a second shoulderbreaker – hitting it, but missing the fact that Rick tagged himself in while Scott was in the air. Norton goes for the pin, but Rick explodes in from behind with a clothesline, and German suplex! Ice Train is backdropped, and he turns to start trading punches with Norton. Scott Steiner is dropped to the outside by Train, and Norton goes for the finish by powerbombing Rick, with Train coming off the middle rope with the big splash … but Scott saves at 2! Norton clotheslines Scott back to the outside, but he rushes back in and trips up Ice Train off the top rope. The Steiners combine to hit the bulldog off the top with Norton on Scott’s shoulders – but Train saves at 2! Now Scott has only one move left, and whips off an ugly Frankensteiner while Rick busies himself with Ice Train, and THAT does it at 10:28. Great finishing sequence, but overall they’ve had better on Saturday Night. **1/2
Backstage, “MEAN” GENE OKERLUND wants to talk Chris Benoit with JIMMY HART and KEVIN SULLIVAN. Sullivan re-iterates this isn’t between the Dungeon and Horsemen, because Benoit might not be a quitter like Pillman, he’s also not a Horseman. He promises to show Anderson and Flair that they can always count on the Dungeon of Doom.
EL GATO vs. KONAN (for the WCW United States title)
Seriously, they’re not even trying. Just to look at Gato it’s painfully obvious who we’re dealing with here.
Meanwhile, we have Konnan who’s been US Champion for, what, 5 months now? And he’s still not remotely over with these fans. It could be the lack of promo time, it could be that the fans weren’t ready to accept a foreigner, but maybe it’s because he’s dressed like a Mexican biplane pilot.
I totally can’t get into this, because while we’ve dealt with jobbing losers like One Man Gang and Kensuke Sasaki holding the US Title, I can’t even levy the ability to even pretend that they’d even consider letting a masked Pat Tanaka hold the belt. This belongs on a special edition of Prime, not my pay-per-view, thank you. Tanaka gets way too much offense, but a sunset flipped powerbomb off the apron to the floor changes momentum. Splash Mountain finishes for Konnan at 6:02. *1/2
STING gets a little interview time with “MEAN” GENE OKERLUND about that “prissy sissy” Steven Regal. How dare they. Sting makes gay jokes at Regal’s expense, wondering if that’s how they “breed tha boys in England”, but in ‘merica, it’s not ok to be gay. Then he forgets all his lines and turns it back to Gene. Eventually, he figures it out, and promises to straighten Regal out. Honestly – this is one of the most embarrassing Sting promos I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen plenty of them.
DIAMOND DALLAS PAGE vs. MARCUS BAGWELL (for the Battlebowl Ring)
Page gives himself a little pre-match promo time; promising the Baltimore Bimbos that once DDP gets through with Bagwell, they’ll forget all about that chump, “Carl Ripken”. Now that’s some grade-A trolling on the part of DDP. Meanwhile, coin-toss winner Marcus Bagwell charges down the aisle like a new-age Ultimate Warrior, but then promptly TUNS HIS BACK on Page, and gets attacked. In the words of Bugs Bunny, what a maroon. They brawl on the floor, where Page gets whipped into the guardrail and seated in the front row, wearing a chair around his neck. Tony: “Check his ticket stub!” Back in, Bagwell hits a crossbody for 2. Page swings wildly, but Bagwell side steps and hits a drop toe hold. Dusty talks about the prestige of the “ring”, which seems kind of ridiculous seeing as how it didn’t wind up coming with a title shot of any kind. Bagwell dropkicks Page back to the floor, and is right behind him with a plancha. Bagwell goes up to finish, but Page crotches him on the ropes as he did Scotty Riggs on the weekend. In a fun spot, Page fishhooks Bagwell against the ropes, and chirps to the camera “LOOK MA – NOOOO CAVITIES!” Gutwrench backbreaker gets 2. Abdominal stretch is worked with ample amounts of cheating against the ropes – caught on the 3rd try as per the rules of professional wrestling, and Bagwell’s able to hiptoss his way loose. Page fires back with a pancake, and gets 2. Diamond Cutter is called for, but first he goes for a punt – but Bagwell rolls away and Page slips on the banana peel. Bagwell hits a pair of atomic drops, and Page is rocking. A slingshot clothesline gets 2, and Bagwell looks frustrated. Bagwell charges the corner, but Page throws up a back elbow, and tries a pin with his feet on the ropes like a good little scumbag. Bagwell snaps off a rana in a last ditch desperation attempt, but he can’t follow up, and Page hits the Diamond Cutter out of nowhere for the win at 9:36. **
Backstage, “MEAN” GENE OKERLUND catches up with THE GIANT and JIMMY HART. Hart cements that his relationship with Lex Luger is finished. Giant promises torture, at the hands of the chokeslam and not the aptly named Rack.
REY MYSTERIO JR. vs. DEAN MALENKO (for the WCW World Cruiserweight title)
MIKE TENAY joins the commentary booth, to give us some insight behind the hype that is this 21-year old, 5’6”, 100 pound pipsqueak known as Rey Mysterio Jr. At first glance, Rey Jr. might be the least intimidating wrestler this side of Buddy Valentine – but of course, looks can often be deceiving. Tenay notes this to be the first meeting between Malenko and Mysterio, despite both of them having piles of international experience. Even at age 21, Mysterio’s already a 7 year vet at this point. The pair trade some early chain wrestling, to a polite reception. Malenko goes for a power move, but Rey whips around in a very creative armdrag that sends Malenko to the floor. Back to the apron, Rey’s all over him with a quick springboard dropkick. Malenko shakes it off, and goes back to the attack, managing to avoid a sunset flip roll up, and catapults Mysterio to the floor. Malenko quickly follows through with a baseball slide, but by the time he starts the kick, Mysterio’s so fast he’s already back in the ring. Malenko shows shades of frustration, but again, shakes it off. Back in, Deano dropkicks Mysterio’s arm while holding it – trying to dislocate the elbow. Rey is screaming in pain, and Malenko, ever caring, hits a hammerlock powerslam right on the arm. Centre of the ring, Malenko smells blood and starts dropping his knee down on the injured elbow, over and over. The arm is grapevine, but Mysterio forces a break and rushes to the safety of the outside. Except, he turns his back, allowing Malenko to rush over and drape the arm over the guardrail, and kick away at it. Back in, Malenko grabs the arm again, but Mysterio rushes to the top rope for a tornado springboard dropkick. He tries a rana, but Malenko shoves him off and then hits a vicious clothesline for 2! Malenko goes to the armbar, making sure to scissor the shoulder at the same time. Hold is released, and Rey drapes himself across the buckle – big mistake, because Malenko just dropkicks the elbow. A neat hammerlock backdrop is hit on point, but Mysterio remains resilient and kicks out. Back to an armbar, this time with the head scissored trying to cut off the air supply. Rey won’t tap – so Malenko gets nasty, with a hammerlock overhead belly to belly suplex, again only for 2. With Rey on the verge of death, Malenko starts in with a Crippler Crossface now – but releases that in favour of the Rito Romero special, which he then releases mid-move, straight back into a bridge pin, but Rey kicks out at 2! Malenko works his most vicious armbar yet, this time putting on more of a keylock than anything, and Mysterio looks just about done. Hold released, waistlock suplex … but Mysterio kicks out again at 2. Stealing a page from Steve Regal, Malenko tries a butterly suplex, and holds on to an armbar through the pinfall attempt, so that Mysterio simply can’t wriggle loose. A couple of idiot fans chant “boring”, and they seriously need to be shot on location. Mysterio makes the ropes, but Malenko tries to keep on him – only this time Rey hits a drop toe hold that sends Dean crashing to the floor, right on to an unsuspecting cameraman! Malenko rushes back to the apron, but Mysterio baseball slides to knock his legs out. As soon as Malenko hits the floor, Rey nails a swinging dropkick, and then flies with a tope con hilo! Back in, springboard missile dropkick connects, but Malenko kicks out at 2. Dean tries a powerbomb, but Rey rolls through for 2. A bridge attempt also gets 2. Malenko, enraged, charges, but Mysterio leaps to the outside, then back in with the West Coast Pop … but only 2! Malenko tries to backdrop Rey to the floor, but Mysterio stays on the apron and heads up. Malenko catches him, but Mysterio turns the tide and hits a Frankensteiner off the top! Malenko weakly tries a tilt-a-whirl, but Rey counters in mid-air to a crossbody and gets 2. Rey goes for a rana, but Malenko counters in mid-air to a nasty hard powerbomb, then puts his feet on the ropes for good measure and steals the pin at 17:50! This was the first show-stealing Cruiserweight performance that really highlighted what this division could do, while a star was born in Rey Mysterio Jr. This might not be everyone’s cup of tea who prefer the X-Division style of “finisher-finisher-finisher” – but I loved every second of this. ****
“MEAN” GENE OKERLUND is with LEX LUGER, talking about our main event. Lex says he’s not mentally here for this interview; instead, he’s focused on tonight’s main event. He takes a lot of pride in the championships in this company, and plans to capitalize on every mistake The Giant makes tonight.
BIG BUBBER (with Jimmy Hart) vs. JOHN TENTA
Dusty sums it up: “Transition from Cruiserweight to two big uglies!” Best case scenario sees this kept to 2 minutes or less. Tenta enters to no music because he’s not a fish, or an avalanche – HE’S A MAN! Bubba attacks Tenta outside the ring, and heads to the top rope, but Tenta knocks him off and right down to the floor. Bubba is whipped to the ringsteps, and crashes hard. Back in, Bubba begs for mercy, but Tenta doesn’t lay off, because HE’S A MAN! Bubba lies in the corner like a Rikishi victim, and much in the same vein, he takes a pair of asses to the face. Hart hands Bubba an “illegal object”, which is used to knock Tenta cold. Bubba follows with an enzuigiri, and a trio of Bossman straddles. Uppercut gets 2, because Bubba’s caught with his feet on the ropes. Tenta goes for a slam, but Bubba grabs the ropes and falls on Tenta for 2. The two start throwing sluggish punches like two heavyweight boxers in the 12th round, except we’re like 3 minutes in. Bubba starts dropping knees onto Tenta’s knee. Tenta’s face is slammed to the buckle, and dropped with a backdrop suplex. Bubba heads up, but Tenta catches him in midair and powerslams Bubba for the win at 5:25. Post-match, Tenta steals the scissors, and cuts off Bubba’s beard. Tenta promises he’s not finished with Bubba, though, we all hope he is. DUD
Wearing their team colors; MONGO & DEBRA MCMICHAEL representing da Bears, KEVIN & TARA GREENE with the Panthers, “MEAN” GENE OKERLUND wants in on the game plan. Mongo and Green shriek and holler, with their eyes crossed, and testosterone testing no less than 10 times over the normal limits. RANDY SAVAGE asks if they’re psyched to the max, and leads them in a charge out the door. Someone needs to let them know they’re not on next.
CHRIS BENOIT vs. KEVIN SULLIVAN (with Jimmy Hart) (in a Falls Count Anywhere match)
Benoit meets Sullivan in the aisle, and they fight against the guardrail, throwing intense punches at each other. Benoit throws the hardest knife edge chops he can, but Sullivan faceplants him into the guardrail and launches him into the front row. They fight right into the fans, where security and DOUG DILLENGER can’t keep them safe; though they’re trying. They don’t even look like they’re pulling their punches anymore – and they fight right back towards the concession stands, and into the men’s room. Dusty: “There’s some plundah in there. There’s some boys takin’ some relief in there!” Sullivan slams the bathroom door on Benoit’s head, over and over. HARD slam back against the stall, followed by another slammed door. At least 100 fans are gathered around in the bathroom, while Sullivan performs a Double Stomp on Benoit. That seems to fire Chris up though, who stands and punches.
Sullivan tries to dunk Benoit face first in the urinal – but Chris fights loose and starts slamming Sullivan’s head in the stall door. Then, Dusty absolutely loses his marbles, shrieking “THERE’S A LADY! THERE’S A LADY! THERE’S A WOMAN IN THE MEN’S JOHN RIGHT HERE IN BALTIMORE! CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT? SHE JUST STOPPED OFF – YOU GOTTA GET SOME RELIEF HERE BABY!” I’m seriously dying right now, Dusty is amazing. Sullivan busts open the janitor’s closet, and wallops Benoit with a bag full of commercial paper towels. He then grabs a full garbage, and slams it into Benoit’s head. Benoit trips the Taskmaster up, and then smacks him with the hard plastic trash can. Out of props, they just start slamming each other’s heads into the wall – because that’s how they roll. Back into the arena, Sullivan launches Chris down the stairs, and he rolls down the concrete steps about 10 deep before catching himself. Sullivan rushes down, grabs him, and throws him down the rest of the steps. Unbelievably, these guys haven’t taken a second of rest, and with Benoit back to his feet, they’re trading rock solid punches again. Sullivan crotches Benoit over the guardrail, and they head back to ringside. Dusty continues to carry on about the bathroom while Sullivan throws a chair at Benoit’s head. Chris shrugs it off, because he’s an absolute war horse, and crotches Sullivan on the guardrail. Sullivan attacks, but Benoit throws him into the front row, and grabs a table from under the ring. And I’m not talking about a WWE style “breaks with a stiff breeze” table, I’m talking heavy table, re-inforced with big metal legs. Benoit throws it at Sullivan’s face, and sets it up in the corner. Sullivan dives at Benoit, but misses, and slams himself into the table. Benoit sets it up on the corner, but Sullivan backdrops him onto the table. Sullivan joins him on the table, but Benoit superplexes him off the table and scores the pinfall at 10:01!!
This was the wildest, most chaotic, non-stop brawl of its time – the likes of which we’d never seen in professional wrestling to this point. This was one of the matches I was most concerned about holding up, but it’s still one of the greatest brawls of all time, and I have to go the full monty. *****
Hart tries to call out the troops after the match, and ARN ANDERSON rushes out. Anderson yanks Benoit off Sullivan, and tells Benoit to back off. Then he turns, and PUNTS SULLIVAN IN THE MID-SECTION! The fans are LOSING THEIR SCHNITZEL right now! Benoit and Anderson stomp a mudhole together in Sullivan, while the fans give one of the biggest pops you’ll ever hear. THE DUNGEON OF DOOM rushes in to save, but Anderson and Benoit bail, flash the four fingers together, and head to the back, where “MEAN” GENE OKERLUND is waiting. Anderson says Benoit earned the right to be called a Horseman, and the head of the snake has been cut off now for trying to poison the most elite group in the history of professional wrestling. Anderson declares them back together, and at war with the Dungeon of Doom. RIC FLAIR, BOBBY HEEAN, ELIZABETH, and WOMAN are there too – with Flair crowing about their team being far superior to any football team. Heenan says he’s not afraid of Savage (while stuttering on every word), while Flair continues to make things worse by screaming “there’s a lot of things Savage can’t do anymore that he used to, RIGHT LIZ??? WOOOOOOO!”
“LORD” STEVEN REGAL (with Jeeves) vs. STING
Sting appears to have eaten his Wheaties this morning, throwing some stiff shots at Regal right off the bell, and heading to the outside. Backdrop hits on the floor, and they head back in where Sting calls to the fans. Regal has no time for that, thumbs Sting in the eye, hits a European Uppercut, and takes it to the mat. Regal works a side headlock, getting in palm thrusts as often as he can until Sting fights loose. Sting demands he put up the dukes, but I’d say he probably best avoid getting into a bare knuckles fight with Regal. Regal, smiles and offers the hand of friendship, but Sting responds by posing like a pansy. He threatens to charge Regal, who has a near heart attack and dives into the safety of the ropes with a look on his face that is best described as “Scooby Doo Terror”. They head into a test of strength, won far too easily by Sting. Regal, back to his feet, hits two straight European Uppercuts, swivels his hips, and kicks Sting in the face. Full nelson is applied, but Sting won’t tap, no matter how many times Regal says he did. Sting hits a sunset flip that Regal comically tries to fight, but after a 2 count, he leaps to his feet and drops an elbow. Back to the mat in a half nelson, with Regal urging him to give it up. Sting to his feet, meets a European uppercut right to the jaw. Sting’s on spaghetti legs, and staggers into a dropkick, getting 2. Another European uppercut – my god he’s trying to kill the man! Open palm thrusts are hit with gusto, but Sting backdrops Regal. Regal recovers first, and applies an armbar with his knee on Sting’s head. Hold released, Regal tries to break Sting’s fingers. That fails, so he legdrops the fingers instead. An inverted Crippler Crossface is worked, but Sting gets loose, and the duo collides heads. Regal again moves first, and tries grinding Sting’s face into dust on the mat. Regal insist the referee ask Sting for a submission while he works a half nelson on the mat, and he starts using his feet on the ropes. The referee catches him in the act and reads him the riot act, with Regal feigning total innocence. While they jaw, Sting gets to his feet, and he manages to lock Regal in the abdominal stretch! Regal gets to the ropes, and drops Sting with a left hook! Regal starts using his legs as guillotines, chopping at Sting’s neck over and over, but it still just gets 2. Regal starts punching at Sting trying to drop him, but Sting fights back, squeezing the hand of Regal strongly … so Regal pokes him in the eye, and takes Sting back down with a butterfly nelson. Sting escapes, nails a dropkick out of nowhere, followed by a pair of clotheslines and gets 2! Sting heads up for the big splash, but Regal cuts him off, and nearly botches a double underhook superplex which gets 2. Regal Stretch is applied right in the centre of the ring, and Sting is screwed. Still, he refuses to tap, and Regal releases in shock that he can’t make Sting give up. Regal throws a word of palm thrusts trying to put him down for good, and then accents it with a back handed slap. Big mistake. Sting stops selling anything, and goes into a furious punching tirade, beating Regal like he’s Rihanna. Stinger Splash is BLOCKED by the knees, but Sting comes back with a backdrop and puts on the Deathlock for the submission at 16:31! This was so different from the last match, but in a perfect way, as the show moves along with a little something for everyone, but no less intensity. I take a little issue with the winner, as Sting’s like Teflon at this point, but I guess you need to keep him strong going into Bash at the Beach. ****
RIC FLAIR and ARN ANDERSON (with Miss Elizabeth, Woman, and Bobby Heenan) vs. MONGO MCMICHAEL and KEVIN GREENE (with Debra McMichael, Pepe, Tara Greene, and Randy Savage)
MICHAEL BUFFER immediately has me in stitches during the entrances of the ladies by calling them “Elizabeth … and THE WOMAN!” I wonder if The Woman dates Bret Hitman Clarke. I also take offense at the use of the nickname “Mean” Kevin Greene, because until Gene Okerlund endorces it – I won’t. Mongo and Greene go through a couple of pre-game pump ups, while Flair sticks to his usual routine of just popping out his eyes and screaming “WOOO”. Tony notes that Dusty Rhodes is the only announcer who believes in Team Football, but that really shouldn’t come as a surprise. Arn does jumping jacks in Mongo’s face to show him he can do the drills too. Finally they lock up, trade armdrags, and Arn just sweeps the legs out with ease, and flashes the 4 fingers. Mongo shows frustration, but gets back on his feet. 3 point stance … and Arn’s taken down, and wobbly. Mongo smiles proudly, and tells him that’s just the start. Drop toe hold from Anderson connects, but Mongo gets up and boots Arn in the face, following with a flying shoulder tackle off the second rope. Anderson’s not happy, and takes a cheap shot at Greene. That draws him in, they stomp away together – out to the floor … and right into the awaiting hands of Savage who beats him down! After a moment of regrouping, Kevin Greene tags himself in, does pushups and fires himself up. Flair tags in, and skips circles around Greene, struts, and is feeling amazing. Flair tries talking Greene down to a 3 point stance to start, Greene complies, and Flair kicks him in the face. Brilliance. Unfortunately, Greene is a roided up lunatic, and throws a nasty shoulder tackle, drawing in Arn who takes one too. Both Horsemen take a powder, and Flair heads up the aisle. Macho’s hot on his heels, slams Flair face first in the guardrail, and feeds him right to Greene in the ring who backdrops Ric. A pair of flying clotheslines hit the mark, and back comes Mongo who cuts off the ring, demanding Ric one-on-one for the Debra stuff. Flair charges … right into a brick wall, and drops. Boot to the midsection, Mongo set in the corner, and Flair starts with the knife edge chops – but Mongo wants more because he’s Hulking Up. Flair starts taking chops, and he drops to his knees, begging off. Mongo keeps coming – hits a backdrop. He goes to the old standby, the poke to the eyes, and heads up top – no Ric! He’s caught as always, and slammed. Mongo calls for the Figure Four – Arn rushes to save, but Greene comes out of the corner with a clothesline to cut him off, and it’s Figure Fours for everyone! Woman saves Ric by clawing Mongo’s eyes while the referee is tied up with Greene and Anderson. The ladies then turn their attention to Tara and Debra, chasing them to the backstage area, as Arn DDT’s Mongo. Flair comes back in, and starts firing chops with all his might. Outside, Anderson stomps on Mongo a bit before Savage comes over to break it up and give Mongo advice: “fire up!” Fans start a “WEASEL” chant, and Heenan dutifully complies with a boot to Mongo’s midsection! Mongo is rolled back in, fired up as Savage requested, and grabs Flair with a chokehold. Flair drops and punches him in the pooter. Anderson tags in and chokes Mongo out in the ropes, drawing the referee’s ire. While they argue, Flair grabs Mongo’s head and chokes him some more. Double team suplex connects, and both guys grab Mongo’s throat choking him out until Greene comes in to smack them around. Anderson misses a big right, allowing Mongo to atomic drop Arn who falls into Ric, and both guys are down. Greene gets the hot tag, and chop blocks both guys! Powerslams for all, with Ric yelling “NOOOOOOO!” Whip to the buckle, Flair falls to the apron and Mongo greets him with a boot to the face. Greene suplexes him back into the ring and celebrates – and Anderson sneaks in behind clipping him! Greene screams about his knee, which of course is all the Horsemen needed to hear. Arn hits a spinning toe hold, but Greene kicks him off and goes for the tag. The Horsemen cut off the ring, and Flair goes for the Figure Four, but Greene packages him for 2! Flair doesn’t care for that, hits a single leg atomic drop and slaps on the Figure Four!! Anderson helps by pulling the arm behind the referee’s back, but Savage rushes over and slams Anderson into the guardrail. CHRIS BENOIT comes in from the back, and he and Savage just start trading wild punches!!! During this, Debra McMichael has re-emerged from the back in a new dress flanked by Woman and Liz and a mysterious Haliburton. The fans start to buzz, as Debra approaches Mongo with the briefcase which is full of money, along with a Horseman t-shirt. Mongo looks conflicted, just as Greene starts clawing for a tag … and MONGO WALLOPS GREENE!!! Flair reaches over, gets the pinfall at 20:50, and Mongo is your fourth Horseman! The crowd is in complete shock, having gone from jubilation about the Horsemen reunion to being completely betrayed. This is where all those long winded productions about the football players came in so handy, because it was mentioned on numerous occasions that both guys were driven by the highest contracts during their playing days, and Mongo proved that was exactly the case, accepting the Horsemen’s incredible offer over loyalty. ***
ERIC BISCHOFF comes out to discuss the recent interruptions, and is ready to give an answer to the two WWF Outsiders. RAZOR RAMON and DIESEL slowly make their way from around the curtain, while the fans chant “DIESEL” as loud as they can. Bischoff says if they want a war, they’re gonna get their match. Bischoff: “It’ll be at Bash at the Beach”. Diesel shrugs, “whatever man”. Bischoff demands to know if they work for the WWF, and both guys claim they don’t. This was of course a legal issue; as the WWF was insisting they clear up that they weren’t WWF employees, but all that did was make it seem more like they were of course doing Vince’s dirty work. Razor wants to know who their three guys are, because they’re ready with their surprise buddy? Bischoff tells Razor he’ll tell them tomorrow on Nitro, but that just incites Razor. “You don’t jack us around!”, and Diesel picks him up and POWERBOMBS BISCHOFF OFF THE STAGE AND THROUGH A FRIGGIN TABLE! Immediately, the medical staff run over while Razor tells the fans “the real big boys? They just left the building!” Bischoff gets loaded onto a stretcher.
If you’re new to wrestling, it probably is no big thing to see anyone get beat up, because no character is realistically off limits. This wasn’t the case in 1996. Seeing Eric Bischoff, the executive vice president of WCW get powerbombed through a table by WWF cronies was one of the most unexpected turns they could have taken because non-wrestling characters were always off limits. You never saw Lord Alfred Hayes take a flying elbow from Randy Savage, or Gorilla Monsoon eat a Vaderbomb. It just wasn’t the style at the time, so the powerbomb added another layer of realism to this invasion angle. This was the kickoff to the golden age of WCW officially, there was no turning back.
LEX LUGER vs. THE GIANT (with Jimmy Hart) (for the WCW World Heavyweight title)
To say that nobody really cares about this match at this point is an understatement, after the Horsemen stuff and now Bischoff getting powerbombed. Luger stops off to check on Bischoff, and just looks like a man who’s head is in another place. Then Giant too gives Bischoff a look of concern, which is a beautiful little touch too – because heels and faces alike stop to sell the “real” story taking place in the back. Tony returns to the announce booth, because having had neck issues of his own he wanted to make sure Eric was ok. Luger tries to get re-focused, and charges Giant, running face first into his big foot. Luger gets up, clotheslines and clotheslines and knocks Giant to the floor! Giant lands on his feet, pulls Luger out with him, and then press slams Luger over the top rope and back into the ring. Back in, Luger kicks and punches as best he can – and hits a running knee to the face. Luger leaps on Giant’s back with a sleeper, but Giant slowly eases backwards to the apron where Hart is crouched with the megaphone ready to swing. STING comes in and grabs Hart’s megaphone, and chases Hart to the back. Giant finally fights off the sleeper, drives Luger to the buckle, and ties him to the tree of woe where he’s free to kick at Luger to his heart’s content. Giant punches Luger in the small of the back, then chokes him out with the big boot. Backbreaker from Giant, which he hangs on to and works a sort of torture rack across the knee. He picks up Luger on his shoulders, back down, and then leaps up and down again with another variation of the Rack. Luger nails a Stunner to break up the attack, and goes to slam Giant who simply falls on Luger for 2. Luger is hung out across the buckle, and Giant keeps pounding away. Luger finally gets an opening by Giant missing a blind charge. Slingshot dropkick hits, which gets Giant wobbly. Luger starts with the clotheslines again, needing 4 of them, and 2 chop blocks to take Giant to his knees. Giant rears up for an avalanche, but misses and lands across the buckle! Luger boots him in the midsection repeatedly, and calls for the Rack! The fans are on their feet, and because Giant is lying across the ropes Luger’s able to get him on his shoulders … but then the weight gives out, and Luger collapses. Giant screams for the finish, and sure enough the Chokeslam is all that’s needed at 9:39. *1/2 The announcers wrap it up fast and we’re out.
Has the show continued to age well after 17 years? Hell yes, and I believe you could show this to any casual fan and get the same type of reaction. It’s gripping, all the angles come together and are knotted with a fancy bow. If you’ve never seen it, make it a point to seek it out.
The Horsemen finally returning to full capacity sounds like it was a lot of fun.
Ric still seems to be unhinged, based upon his lack of caring about the Horsemen/Dungeon split.
My predictions going forward (ignoring any knowledge obtained since 1996) are that Anderson takes over as the leader of the Horsemen, and eventually finds a way to win the world title from the Giant. This will set up our main event for Starrcade or Havoc, where we will see if Hogan can finally beat Arn in a one-on-one match.
Also, despite the Fourth spot in the horsemen finally being filled, its still unclear as to what happened to Brian Pillman with his confusing short-term return right before Uncensored. He has got to either be insane for real, or be the Third Man. My money is on the latter.
Another one of those fascinating "what-ifs" involves the Horsemen, who looked like they were ready to take the company by storm, with the white hot Flair/Savage angle, Arn successfully suckering the Dungeon of Doom, Chris Benoit maturing into a star (though not yet a superstar), and Mongo's heel turn garnering a lot of buzz. That Horseman run on top of the promotion was cut way too short, because of the nWo topping them a thousand-fold just a mere few weeks later, but I wonder how this company would have looked had this incarnation of the Horemen had about 6 months on top, while the Hogan heel turn waited until Starcade?
Pillman as the "third man" feels like such a perfectly-built reveal that it's still strange that's not how it plays out, even knowing everything we do.
For all the faults of Kevin Sullivan as a worker and booker, I do consider how he put Benoit over here to be one of the great jobs of an aging-but-active booker putting over deserving new talent. Obviously, he probably did certain parts of the job a little too well, and I do hold this angle responsible for both Benoit and Zbyszko running the phrase "human chess" into the ground in the shows to come ("a game of human chess, Tony" would be right behind to "New World OoooOOoooodor, Tony!" on my list of Zbyszko announcing crimes, non-dead people edition). But I definitely remember Sullivan/Benoit at GAB as a game-changer for seeing Benoit as a major talent (and "a lady in the men's room!" as Dusty's finest call). There's no reason Benoit couldn't/shouldn't have been working a program with Savage right after GAB while Flair/Arn/Mongo continued to ignore the invaders to concentrate on finishing off the Dungeon.
Jumping ahead to what we do know, the weirdest thing not to come of the early nWo angle is Heenan's involvement with the Horsemen, which I somehow did not remember at all from this period. How did they miss the opportunity of running an angle where Bobby Heenan is forced to work for the side of goodness, unsuccessfully rallying the Horsemen and WCW against Hogan's New World Organization? It would have been the perfect way to bring in DiBiase and later Hennig, with Heenan calling in old enemies of Hogan to help, only to see them defect on him because Bischoff was sitting next to him pulling the strings.
Also, I get the whole Mongo thing, but how amazing would a Heenan-affiliated Four Horsemen of Flair, Arn, Benoit and Regal been as the first line of defense against the nWo? Arn could have been prepping Benoit to take his spot at the time, and eventually, Flair would have given over his spot to only deserving heir once he debuted later in 1996: La Parka
The last few weeks have been fascinating reads for me, as 96 and 97 for me were the years between dropping childhood wrestling fandom and picking it back up as a teenager. I'm aware of the big moments, but I've never 'watched' it unfold as I have in these posts. The comments have been just as good as the reviews, so keep it up everyone!
Originally posted by Dr UnlikelyI do hold this angle responsible for both Benoit and Zbyszko running the phrase "human chess" into the ground in the shows to come ("a game of human chess, Tony" would be right behind to "New World OoooOOoooodor, Tony!" on my list of Zbyszko announcing crimes, non-dead people edition).
One of my favorite PPVs. Just because it came so out of nowhere and had the right amount of swerves with some great, entertaining matches that had strong storylines.
This makes me want to watch it again. At least Benoit/Sullivan, Rey/Malenko and Sting/Regal. I don't remember Giant/Luger being too bad, and I also really liked the Horsemen tag match being a big surprise on all fronts.
Originally posted by Dr UnlikelyI do hold this angle responsible for both Benoit and Zbyszko running the phrase "human chess" into the ground in the shows to come ("a game of human chess, Tony" would be right behind to "New World OoooOOoooodor, Tony!" on my list of Zbyszko announcing crimes, non-dead people edition).
Eat your heart out, Harry Houdini!
Tenay's Balance of Power like it was Europe prior to World War I is still the worst of the era.
For all the faults of Kevin Sullivan as a worker and booker, I do consider how he put Benoit over here to be one of the great jobs of an aging-but-active booker putting over deserving new talent. Obviously, he probably did certain parts of the job a little too well,
If Kevin Sullivan doesn't squash jobbers for months in a weird wreckless fashion this brawl probably loses some of it's luster.
I think that the character Sullivan was aiming for would have worked, a single minded, vengeful, sadistic guy who carelessly squashed jobbers and would brawl with anyone and who rolled with a group of mostly canon fodder ... actually it did work only it was Raven.
Of course seeing Sullivan run around as the leader of the Varsity Club with Mike Rotudno three years later at the age of 50 is so hilarious/shameful/embarrassing that it is a shame we aren't going to get there.
For some reason the interview with George "The Animal" Steele hit me while watching it for the first time on the Legends of Wrestling game. He seems like a totally cool person, and a rather educated one to boot.