(All screen captures are the property of World Wrestling Entertainment)
June 20, 1992
Mobile Civic Center
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Kip Frey is no longer in charge of WCW. The Turner executives believed he was spending too much money, so they brought in someone to cut costs and make the necessary changes to turn WCW into a profitable company. The man they chose was Cowboy Bill Watts, who had run the Mid-South/UWF territory for years. He was known for being a good booker and having a lot of traditional views on wrestling, but the business had changed quite a lot since his time. Watts immediately began making changes to the product. He removed the protective mats from outside of the ring because he thought it made their wrestlers look tougher. All this succeeded in doing was leading to unnecessary injuries. He banned moves off the top rope because he came from a time where that was a dastardly heel move that was meant to injure a person. He thought this would put heat on the heels for attempting something illegal. The problem is, high-flying moves were now popular and the high-fliers were typically babyfaces. He also implemented rules behind the scenes, such as not letting wrestlers leave until the final match was finished. That rule, in particular, did a lot to hurt morale. However, not all of his changes were bad. He was good at taking a no-nonsense approach to the shows and was good with continuity. Writing TV was one thing he was known for doing well. I will discuss some more of Watts ideas and changes as we progress through this review, but it’s safe to say the Watts era was a weird mix of solid writing, but outdated ideas.
The show opens with a video of people walking on an animated beach and waves crashing. A narrator talks about the matches and calls the company, “Dub-ya see dub-ya.” (I see where Vince gets it.) The video is cheap-looking and the match graphics appear to be written in crayon. (I guess Watts cut costs in the graphics department.) Then, Tony Schiavone welcomes everyone to the show. He and Eric Bischoff are dressed in their casual summer clothes. Eric is particularly loud in his Hawaiian shirt. They welcome Bill Watts to the stage and he talks about tough athletes and tough rules. He also announces that Paul E. and Madusa will be banned from ringside for the Iron Man Match. Finally, he says that everyone has agreed to their stipulations for the night, so hook ‘em up and kick it off!
Next, they go to Jim Ross, who is also wearing a Hawaiian shirt. (I guess it’s better than a toga.) He’s alone because Jesse Ventura is too busy getting a massage on the beach—or, should I say, the beach set in the entrance. Jesse reluctantly leaves the bikini-clad women and joins Ross. Ventura is wearing a tank-top and a scarf. (I’m sure Vince McMahon would have a good laugh if he saw him.)
Light Heavyweight Title Match: Scotty Flamingo vs. Flyin’ Brian (c)
Part of Bill Watts’ cost-cutting meant having to lower the pay of some of the wrestlers. Brian Pillman was no stranger to this change. Watts wanted to drastically reduce his salary, but Pillman balked. Watts then threatened to book him to lose all his matches, so Pillman said he would become the highest paid jobber in WCW. It wasn’t bad enough that the new rules were hindering the Light Heavyweight Division, now he was making less money too. You can see the frustration on Pillman’s face during this match.
Flamingo keeps celebrating simple moves, to begin with like he won some big victory, but Pillman keeps surprising him with holds. Then, Brian goes after Scotty’s arm. Flamingo tries every shortcut he can to stop the attack, but Pillman stays on the arm for a while. They fight to the floor and Brian hits an axehandle off the apron, but the ref has to warn him not to do anything off the top rope. Flamingo finally takes control by sending Pillman to the floor and hitting a slingshot cross body. He then wears down Pillman with holds and knee-strikes, as well as some choking and eye-raking. Eventually, Pillman dropkicks Scotty out of the air on a second-rope axehandle and hits a spinning wheel kick. However, Flamingo catches him in a powerslam on a charge. Brian sells fatigue, so Scotty slaps him and celebrates in the corner, only for Pillman to hit a second-rope back suplex. Scotty gets a foot on the rope, so they fight to the ramp and Pillman goes for a topé, but he misses and lands face-first. Flamingo sends him back into the ring and hits a weak-looking flying knee for the win.
This match never got out of first gear. It was slow and it dragged. You can tell that the rules about top rope moves hindered this match. The Light Heavyweight Division is one of the biggest victims of Watts’ changes. It also didn’t help that the finish was incredibly weak. I guess this is loss number one for the highest paid jobber in WCW.
Winner: Scotty Flamingo (New Champion) (17:29)
Jim Ross then talks about how Johnny B. Badd will host a bikini competition between Madusa and Missy Hyatt, which annoys Ventura. He says he should have hosted and Badd is more suited for being a competitor in it. (Why would he want to see that!?)
Johnny makes his entrance to a decent reaction, while Ross says that fans can vote on the bikini contest using the hotline. Ventura questions whether or not Badd likes girls and Ross does his best to stick up for Johnny, but I’m not sure his heart is in it. Johnny then calls himself a bad man and asks the fans if they’re ready for the greatest bikini contest of all times. (Times? Is this taking place across multiple timelines?) He says that the first round will be an evening gown competition, the second round will be bathing suits, and the final round will be an itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny, bikini. Badd is in full Little Richard mode and I’m surprised he didn’t get sued for it. Then, Badd says the fans can vote on the hotline, but the crowd will decide the winner. (Then, what’s the point of the phone vote?) The evening gown portion begins and Missy emerges from her tent in a sleeveless white gown. She gets pretty good cheers and she looks quite nice. Madusa comes out next in a wedding gown and veil. She has roses in her hand, that she nonchalantly tosses at the crowd. She then shoos the camera away and lifts her veil to give Johnny the stink-eye when he calls her beautiful. (I get the feeling Madusa would rather be wrestling than doing this.)
J.R. plugs the hotline again and tells kids to get their parents’ permission first before calling. (It’s a little weird to ask children to vote on a bikini contest.) He also plugs The Great American Bash before sending it back to Tony and Eric. They talk about the next match and Tony says that Ron Simmons received the key to the city of Tallahassee earlier that day. (How close is that to Mobile? They had poor Ron running all over the place!)
Ron Simmons vs. The Taylor Made Man
One thing that Watts was always good about is promoting African-American wrestlers. (That’s ironic, considering how Watts loses his job.) WCW had already been showcasing Ron Simmons, but Watts was about to take it to another level. This match is a way of building to that. During the entrances, Ventura mocks Ross, Schiavone, and Bischoff for their Hawaiian shirts, but Ross ignores the insult. Jesse then mocks the idea of getting a key to the city. Ross tries to explain it’s an honor, but Ventura would rather joke about using it to rob a bank.
Ron shoves Taylor around and backs him into a corner, so Terry complains of hair-pulling. Then, Simmons blocks a hip toss and hits his own, but Taylor barely leaves his feet. They trade punches, but Ron soon hits multiple chop-blocks. Taylor then sends Ron to the ramp, but Simmons press slams him back inside before clotheslining him out again. Ron then rolls him back inside and works Taylor’s ribs with slams, Irish whips, and a bear hug. Taylor is finally able to swing the momentum with an eye-rake and a missed charge by Simmons. He then wears Ron down with a jawbreaker, neck whip, backbreaker, and some holds. However, Ron fights back with a spinebuster and a choke-drop before hitting the powerslam for the win.
This was an impressive victory, but it wasn’t much of a match. The action was crisp but not thrilling. It was kept short enough to make Ron look strong without making Taylor look too weak, so it accomplished what it needed to do. I can’t really fault the match.
Winner: Ron Simmons (7:10)
After the match, Ross gets a word with Simmons in front of a fan sign that says, “Hulk who? Sting rules!” (You know they did this promo in front of that sign on purpose.) Ross calls it a tremendous victory and says Simmons has never looked better. He also brings up Ron’s problems with Harley Race and Super Invader, but he then mentions Simmons’ ultimate goal. Ron ignores the Super Invader part and says that his goal is to be the best. He says that people have placed the odds against him and he beat those odds. He then cuts an inspiring promo about working hard and getting off your butt to do something in this world. He finishes by promising to become the world’s champion.
Greg the Hammer Valentine vs. Marcus Alexander Bagwell
You would think this match is meant to showcase the young talent, Marcus Bagwell, but—well, you’ll see. Ross and Ventura spend most of the entrances talking about Ron Simmons, but Ross does take a moment to discuss the background of the men in this match. All that was missing is Gorilla Monsoon to tell us how Valentine takes 10-minutes to warm up in his matches. (I get the feeling he won’t have that much time in this.)
Bagwell gets the early advantage with a hip toss, arm drag, and a slam, but he ducks and Greg elbows him. Valentine then attempts a piledriver, but Bagwell back drops him. He follows that up with an atomic drop and some dropkicks, so Greg takes a breather. When he returns, he starts chopping the hell out of Marcus and hits a backbreaker, but then both men take turns missing moves. Bagwell hurts his knee on a missed knee-drop, so Valentine attacks the leg. However, Bagwell keeps surprising him with roll-ups and reversals until he comes up limping on a leapfrog. Valentine pounces on the opportunity and locks him in a Figure Four. Bagwell tries to hold on, but he ends up submitting.
I guess that Watts loves Valentine because he’s old-school. That’s the only reason I can think of as to why he would win this match. Did Valentine need this win? Wouldn’t it make more sense to use him to put over younger talent at this point of his career? I get that they were trying to make Bagwell look gutsy, but this match wasn’t long enough to establish that. It came off more like a light squash.
Winner: Greg Valentine (7:17)
Next, Ross talks about the upcoming Falls Count Anywhere Match. They show clips from the January Clash of the Champions, where Cactus Jack defeated Van Hammer in the same kind of match. He pinned him in a horse stable after Abdullah the Butcher hit Van Hammer with a shovel. (It’s not shown here, but Cactus ended up “accidentally” pushing Missy Hyatt into a horse trough full of water during the match. He was apparently instructed to make sure she ended up there.)
Falls Count Anywhere Match: Sting vs. Cactus Jack
Sting and Cactus have been feuding off and on since the summer of ‘91. The story here is that Harley Race once again hired Cactus to soften up Sting for Vader. During the build, Cactus questioned why this wasn’t for the title. (I asked the same question!) Sting said the decision was out of his hands, but Cactus didn’t believe him. Jack tried to intimidate Sting during a promo by bringing out a wooden box that he said represented Sting’s ribs. Jack then proceeded to drop a headbutt on the box, which broke it into splinters. The sight of a deranged Cactus stumbling around afterward was quite the visual.
Cactus stops on the ramp during his entrance and kneels to wait for Sting, so they immediately brawl when Sting arrives. Sting attempts a backslide before hitting a facebuster. He then tries to follow up with a running cross body, but Cactus ducks and Sting crashes on the top rope before falling to the floor. Cactus then does his best to wreck every bone in his own body by hitting a Cactus Elbow, swinging neckbreaker, and flying sunset flip on the concrete. They take turns whipping each other into the guardrail before Sting back drops him over it. He then hits a suplex on Cactus and my entire body is screaming just watching these nasty bumps! They surprisingly head into the ring. (I guess Cactus needed a respite from the hard floor.) Jack spends some time working over Sting’s ribs, but he eventually sends him outside again with a Cactus Clothesline. Jack then hits Sting with a chair and hugs it like an old friend before yelling, “Bang bang!” Sting fights back and goes for a Stinger Splash, but Jack hotshots him on the rail and attempts a piledriver. He nearly drops Sting on his head when his knee buckles, so he attempts a diving elbow off the turnbuckles instead. Sting moves and then takes Jack to the ramp, where he works over Cactus’ knee with the chair. Sting then attempts a Scorpion Deathlock, but Jack slides out and hits a Double-Arm DDT. However, Jack only gets a two-count. Then, Sting fires back with a running clothesline before climbing to the top rope. He dives off with a flying clothesline, from the ring to the ramp, for the win. (There are no disqualifications in this match, so top rope moves are allowed.)
This match was good chaotic fun. It was violent, but they kept it to the right length to not become excessive. Cactus took his usual nasty bumps, but they were worse because of the lack of protective mats. It’s tough to watch because of that, but it’s still a great match. I only wish it had been for the title. If Jack wasn’t winning, then there’s no reason this couldn’t have been a title match. It also should have been the main event.
Winner: Sting (11:24)
Tony and Eric talk about the match and Tony says he’s never seen anything like it. (He surprisingly doesn’t call it the greatest thing in the history of our sport. I was kind of disappointed.) Eric says that Sting wanted to prove he will take on any challenger. (Then, why wasn’t it for the title?) Next, the two of them talk about the Iron Man Match and Eric says Steamboat has the advantage because he’s a lighter man.
30-Minute Iron Man Match: Ricky the Dragon Steamboat vs. Ravishing Rick Rude
This is the second match in a row where a champion isn’t defending his title. Rude is still the U.S. Champion, but he refused to put it on the line because he said Steamboat had already had too many opportunities. The Dangerous Alliance has been a thorn in Steamboat’s side for a while. They broke his nose and paid some women to accuse him of sexual harassment. DDP exposed the truth by showing a video of Paul E. paying the women to lie, so Steamboat attacked Rude. Meanwhile, during the entrances for this match, Steamboat brings his wife and son to the ring with him. (Little Richie has grown a lot since we last saw him.) Ricky lets his son pose in the ring, while Rude watches in disgust. Rick tries to make a move towards Steamboat, as Richie is leaving, but Steamboat attacks Rude.
Ricky hits a pressing gutbuster on Rude and viciously goes after his ribs for a while. However, Rude surprises him with a knee-strike and rolls him up with a handful of tights for the first fall. (Rude 1-0) He follows it up with some more knees and a Rude Awakening and quickly gets another fall. (Rude 2-0) Then, Rude scarifies a DQ decision by diving off the top with a flying knee, but he makes up for it by cradling him for another pin. (Rude 3-1) Now that Rude has the advantage, and Steamboat is hurt, he wears him down with holds. He focuses his attack on Ricky’s back, which he hurt with the flying knee. Rude even takes a moment to swivel his hips, but he sells the hurt ribs. (I love those little details.) Rude then continues the assault on Steamboat’s back, but Ricky eventually power lifts Rude into an electric chair drop. Then, Steamboat attempts a splash, but Rude raises his knees and then hits a swinging neckbreaker. Rude continues wearing down Steamboat’s back and cutting off his comeback attempts until Steamboat reverses a Tombstone for a fall. (Rude 3-2) They fight back and forth and Steamboat hits a superplex, which apparently isn’t a DQ. However, Steamboat does get another fall off a backslide. (Tied 3-3) Ricky them attempts rapid-fire pins, but he can’t get more than a two-count, so they fight back and forth some more. Rude eventually attempts another Rude Awakening, but Steamboat reverses and hits the move himself! Rude gets a foot on the rope during the pin and eventually locks Steamboat in a long sleeper hold. Ricky starts to fade, but he finally pushes off the turnbuckles in desperation and falls on top of Rude for a pin. (Steamboat 4-3) Rude goes into a panic and attempts multiple pins, but he can’t keep Ricky down before the time expires.
This was an amazing match. I loved the story they told and the psychology. They never lost the crowd and they took them on a roller coaster ride. This is a great example of how to pace a match like this. It had all the peaks and valleys that it needed.
Winner: Ricky Steamboat (4-3) (30:00)
Next, they go back to the bikini contest. Ventura tells Ross not to get too excited, while Johnny B. Badd returns to the stage. Badd says he’s so outrageous that it’s contagious. He then introduces Madusa, who comes out wearing shades and she’s covering her swimsuit with a jacket. She marches down the ramp and opens the jacket to reveal a black one-piece with mesh trim. She seems more motivated this round, but she never stops smugly chewing her gum. Ross doesn’t seem that impressed, but he does say that there are a couple of things he likes about Madusa. (Easy now, Jim!) Johnny tells her to get loose and shake her caboose before declaring she’s almost as pretty as him. Then, Johnny introduces Missy, who comes out in a blue bikini. (I thought next round was the bikini round.) Ross says the outfit defies gravity and Johnny says, “Look at those two big, beautiful blue—eyes!” He then polls the crowd and they are solidly behind Missy.
Dustin Rhodes, Barry Windham, & Nikita Koloff vs. Arn Anderson, Steve Austin, & Bobby Eaton (w/ Paul E. Dangerously)
After War Games, Larry Zbyszko cost the Alliance yet another match and was finally ousted from the group. Now, the remnants continue on, but the Dangerous Alliance is showing cracks. Meanwhile, Steve Austin regained his TV Title from Barry Windham in a 2 out of 3 Falls Match on WCW Saturday Night. (2 out of 3 Falls were a staple of the early Saturday Night shows. It was one of the gimmicks of the program.) On a side note, Ole Anderson returned to WCW to work as a ref. He’s assigned to this match and listed as the senior referee. (How can he be the senior referee if he recently returned? Is it simply a statement about his age?)
Austin and Windham start the match and Barry keeps taking him to the mat. Rhodes also comes in and gets the better of Steve, so he tags Eaton. Bobby and Rhodes fight back and forth until Eaton tags Arn, who lures Koloff into entering the match by slapping him. Arn gets him down and goes to the top rope, but Ole warns him not to jump. Arn climbs down, but Koloff sends him over the ropes with a Russian Sickle. The Dangerous Alliance are furious that Ole didn’t call it a DQ, but he explains that Koloff didn’t throw him. The Alliance then attempt to double team Koloff, but he thwarts their plans and they regroup. Paul E. tells them to go with plan number two. Windham returns to the match, but he ends up colliding with Arn after an atomic drop. He eventually tags Rhodes, who has to fight off all three opponents until Arn rams him into Eaton’s head. Then, the Alliance uses ref distractions and frequent tags to wear down Dustin for a while. They keep cutting off Dustin’s comeback attempts and work him over in their corner. Eventually, Austin hits Rhodes with the Stun Gun (Hotshot), but Rhodes falls into his corner and tags Windham. The match then devolves into a six-man brawl and Windham hits a superplex, but Arn dives off the top with an axehandle. However, Ole sees him and calls for the DQ.
This was a solid enough match, but that finish was awful. It doesn’t make the face team look strong. It only makes the heels look foolish. This is a prime example of why that rule is stupid. The ending didn’t add anything to the match or the feud. I guess it does a decent job of building tension between Ole and the Dangerous Alliance, but that takes all the focus off of the babyface team. They’re just a backdrop to another feud now.
Winners: Rhodes, Windham, & Koloff (by DQ) (15:32)
Ventura says he’s going to get involved in the finals of the bikini contest, so he leaves the announce table. Then, Ross throws to Eric Bischoff, who is with Ricky Steamboat. He congratulates Steamboat on his win and Ricky thanks the fans. Steamboat then talks about the false accusations against him and how they took a toll on his family, but he lightens the mood by saying he proved himself to the world in the Iron Man Match. He calls it the hardest match of his career and then says the Dangerous Alliance can’t duck him anymore. He says he wants a U.S. Title shot, which brings out Paul E. Dangerously. Paul yells at him and says he received his final chance at the title. Dangerously says he will never get another one and then he starts flailing his arms around, which is a distraction because Cactus Jack attacks Steamboat from behind. Cactus pulls Ricky off the stage and they brawl while officials try to stop them. Eventually, they fight through the curtain, but the camera doesn’t follow them.
Then, they go back to the bikini contest. Ventura is on the stage complaining about not being the host, so he calls out Johnny B. Badd. He returns to the stage in a cowboy outfit and calls himself the new sheriff of WCW. Ventura doesn’t care about that. He accuses Johnny of being biased and asks if he likes girls. Badd doesn’t answer. He simply calls Jesse jealous and tells him to hush. Next, they introduce Madusa, who comes out in a red, white, and blue bikini, with chaps over it. This causes Jesse to make some rather unfortunate noises on the mic. Ventura then asks where is Missy. She hasn’t emerged from her tent and she calls them over for help. She says that someone stole her bikini and she produces an empty envelope that apparently held the outfit. Jesse strays too close to the tent, so Missy reaches out and grabs his scarf. Ventura is annoyed and starts yelling at Badd, who simply rubs Jesse’s bald head and tells him it’s like a baby’s bottom. Finally, Missy emerges from the tent to reveal she’s crafted a new bikini out of Jesse’s scarves and Ventura says that isn’t fair. Badd then declares Missy the winner. (So much for that phone vote.) Most of the fans cheer, but there are a few boos. Madusa becomes angry and starts shoving and slapping Johnny until she backs him into her tent. Jesse demands to know what he’s doing in there until Johnny reemerges with Madusa’s top in his hand. Ventura gets way too excited and enters the tent before poking his head back out to say Madusa is the real first lady of WCW. (This got a bit creepy.) Ross then negates what Johnny said by telling fans the phone poll is still open and they will announce the winner on Main Event.
Next, they go back to Tony and Eric. Tony asks Eric about Cactus attacking Steamboat. Eric says that there is going to be—something to pay when Ricky gets his hands on Cactus. (Is Eric afraid to say, “Hell?”) Tony then talks about the next match, so Bischoff makes some hurricane analogies. (I’m surprised the crowd didn’t boo that.)
World Tag Team Title Match: The Steiner Brothers (c) vs. Terry Gordy & Steve Williams
I have no idea why this is the main event. I guess Watts loves tag team wrestling and big hosses, but Sting/Cactus should have gone on last. Terry “Bam Bam” Gordy & Dr. Death Steve Williams had been teaming together in Japan as The Miracle Violence Connection, which is an awesome name. They were brought to WCW to compete in the upcoming NWA Tag Title Tournament, but they took exception to the Steiners being named the #1 seed. Before the match, Ross says that the NWA Tournament will begin on Monday at Clash of the Champions. (It’s odd that they’re doing a Clash so soon after a PPV.)
Scott and Gordy start the match and go into a long amateur wrestling sequence. Williams also comes in and grapples with Scott, while the announcers talk about everyone’s amateur backgrounds. Rick eventually enters the fray and Williams hits him with slams and chop-blocks until Rick hits a Steinerline. Then, Rick starts trading suplexes with Gordy & Williams. They almost get him under control, but Rick hits a belly-to-belly and tags Scott. He hits a t-bone suplex and starts grappling with Gordy again, but Williams tags in and the double teaming begins. They work over Scott in their corner with frequent tags and long holds. They even start attacking Scott’s leg and wear him down for a while. (And, I do mean a while!) Eventually, Scott powers through a Boston Crab and tags Rick, who hits a powerslam and a jumping bulldog on Williams. The Steiners then go for a second-rope Steinerizer, but Gordy knocks Scott off the ropes. Williams then hands Rick to Gordy, who is on the second rope, and he hits a diving powerslam, but he’s not the legal man. Poor Rick then gets the same treatment as Scott, as Gordy & Williams wear him down for a while. Williams attempts an Oklahoma Stampede on Rick, but he slips out and hits a Steinerline, with one minute left in the match. He finally tags Scott, who back drops and slams both opponents. He even hits a Tiger Driver and a Frankensteiner, but the time limit expires.
This was such a disappointing match. I expected more from these guys, but it was slow and boring. You could tell they were eating up time for a draw. The crowd was dead for long portions of the match. They came alive at the end, but it was too late. I’m sure Watts loved all the amateur wrestling stuff and the psychology, but I found this match dreadfully dull. This was not a good way to end the show.
Winners: Time Limit Draw (30:00)
Tony and Eric recap both the match and the night. Then, Tony says they will have the results of the bikini contest on Main Event. Afterward, Ross and Ventura also recap the night. (I feel like the Tony and Eric segments are becoming redundant.) Ventura brags about going into Madusa’s tent, which is creepy. Next, Ross plugs The Great American Bash and talks about Sting facing Vader. Ventura puts over Vader and says he will win the title. Finally, Ross plugs Clash of the Champions and says goodnight.
– Sting/Cactus was chaotic fun.
– The Iron Man Match was great.
– The pacing and match order of this show didn’t make sense.
– The new rules are a hindrance to the matches.
– Poor Brian Pillman and his situation with Watts.
– The main event was a flat way to end the show.
Performer of the Night:
I’m going to give it to Cactus Jack for taking those crazy bumps and putting on a great match. It’s tough to watch in retrospect, but I still have great respect for him because of it.
This was another two-match show. They were great matches and worth checking out, but the show as a whole wasn’t as good as WrestleWar. If they had put Sting/Cactus on last and made it for the title, it might have improved my overall opinion of this event. However, as it stands, this is a mixed bag. I would say to check out the two stand-out matches and skip the rest.
My next review will be WCW’s Great American Bash ‘92. Look for it next Saturday!