Classic Wrestling Review: Spring Stampede ’94

(All screen captures are the property of World Wrestling Entertainment)

Spring Stampede

April 17, 1994

Rosemont Horizon

Chicago, Illinois

News & Notes: We are entering an era of prime nostalgia for me. I started watching wrestling in 1994 and this was the first PPV I saw live. I wanted to see it earlier, but my brother didn’t like wrestling. I had to wait until he moved out of the house and I had control over the TV in our room. I started viewing the TV programs in the weeks leading up to this event, so when my cousin invited me to his house for Spring Stampede, I jumped on the opportunity. Luck would have it that I picked a perfect first PPV. This show is headlined by Ric Flair defending his WCW title against his old nemesis, Ricky Steamboat. Steamboat was promised a shot of the winner of Flair/Vader and it looked to be a friendly rivalry until an unfortunate miscommunication. Steamboat accidentally hit Flair after a match and Flair took exception to it. We started seeing shades of heel Ric Flair emerge. He would send a message to Steamboat by attacking an enhancement talent and locking him in the Figure Four. Flair was a babyface since he came back in ‘93, but that was changing with the shadow of Hulk Hogan looming on the horizon.

Meanwhile, there was an incident during the tour of Germany that I need to discuss. Cactus Jack faced Vader at one of the shows. Jack did his usual hangman spot where his head is twisted between the top and middle ropes. It creates a cool visual of Cactus getting trapped. It’s painful, but Jack never had trouble pulling himself free. However, 2 Cold Scorpio complained that the ropes were loose and WCW tightened them a bit too much. When Jack did the hangman spot, he panicked because he couldn’t get free. He eventually wrenched his way out, but he ripped his ear. The match continued, and the ear was torn completely off by one of Vader’s clubbing blows. WCW officials placed it in ice, and Cactus went to the hospital, but they couldn’t reattach it. They salvaged the remaining cartilage on the side of his head, which left a misshapen lump where an ear used to be. The hope was they might be able to construct an ear later, but that never happened. However, in true Mick Foley fashion, he wouldn’t miss much time. He and Maxx Payne face The Nasty Boys in a Chicago Street Fight at this event.

There are a few more notes I want to discuss before I begin. WCW made some aesthetic changes to their presentation. They ditched the blue, black, & gold ropes in favor of black ones. The turnbuckles would still use the blue & gold color scheme. (I like this look. It’s the classic Jim Crockett Promotions colors.) Also, they started using the WCW target logo on the mat that I associate with my early days watching the show. I know it’s not huge news, but I’ve always been a sucker for aesthetics in wrestling. I love unique looking rings and venues. Finally, the other note I have is this event had a strange dark match. Danny Bonaduce wrestled Christopher Knight. I guess WCW was trying to get some publicity, but I’m glad they left that off the main show.

The show begins with clips of all the major feuds for this event. The narrator talks about titles being on the line and challengers hogtying the champions. (Wait, what kind of show is this!?) He also makes many groan-worthy puns about each feud, such as suggesting Cactus & Maxx will play a tune on the Nasty Boys as they show Sags smashing the guitar on Maxx.

Then, Mean Gene welcomes everyone to Chicago and Spring Stampede. He says everyone is hanging from the rafters and then introduces Aaron Neville to sing the national anthem. (He must have been in high demand at the time. Both the WWF and WCW used him within a year. Also, I can’t hear him sing without instantly thinking of Turk from Scrubs doing his Aaron Neville imitation.) He does an understated but pretty good rendition, but it’s hard to hear him over the loudness of his leopard print outfit.

Next, Tony Schiavone and Bobby Heenan welcome everyone to the show. Tony says Mean Gene and Jesse Ventura will also be there. Heenan says it’s always a pleasure to be in Chicago, but the fans chant weasel at him. He also says he can’t wait to see Flair beat Steamboat. (I see he’s back on the Flair bandwagon after the last PPV.) Tony then points out the weasel chant, so Bobby tells him to shut it.

Johnny B. Badd vs. Diamond Dallas Page (w/ The Diamond Doll)

Notes: DDP finally settled on a permanent Diamond Doll in his real-life wife, Kimberly. She would stay by his side for a while. (They’ve since divorced, but I heard it was amicable.) He’s facing Johnny B. Badd. (Get used to this because they will face each other multiple times over the next couple of years.) Johnny is dressed like the world’s most flamboyant cowboy and he sets off some Badd Blasters. Tony says he set off some litter. He corrects himself to say glitter, but Heenan says he was right the first time. Next, DDP makes his entrance and Tony calls him DDP, but Heenan asks, “Who?” Tony has to remind him that it stands for Diamond Dallas Page. Thankfully DDP didn’t hear that because he tells the Diamond Doll to give Heenan a gift, which is diamond cuff links shaped like his initials. Heenan becomes the biggest DDP fan for the match after receiving the gift.

The Match: Badd surprises DDP early with some moves and sends him to regroup. They trade mat holds and reversals, but Badd keeps getting the advantage. This causes DDP to yell, “God damn!” DDP finally takes control by pulling Badd into the corner and hitting him with a gutbuster and a back suplex. Then, he wears Johnny down with holds until Badd hits a dropkick. He also hits a back drop and some flying head scissors before hitting the Kiss That Doesn’t Miss. However, DDP falls out of the ring. Badd doesn’t let him rest. He hits a dive over the ropes and sends Dallas back inside. DDP grabs the ref for a moment’s rest, but the ref shoves him and Badd hits a flying sunset flip for the win.

Thoughts: It was a decent opener, but I think it needed more time. They rushed through it and never gave the crowd a chance to become invested. I know they’re not already pressed for time. I guess one match had to be short and this was it. Nothing was botched and Badd looked crisp. It was fine but disappointingly brief. I do like that Tony played up the fact that the winner could get a title match. It’s good to put some level of importance on even the filler matches.

Winner: Johnny B. Badd (5:55)

Tony talks about the rest of the card and mentions the Chicago Street Fight. Heenan says he’s going to wear a raincoat during that match because you never know what will happen. (Tony doesn’t know what to say to that comment.) Tony keeps talking, so Heenan holds up two fingers behind his head. Then, they go to Mean Gene with Jesse Ventura. Jesse jokes that he feels like a million bucks and Gene says he can buy some new suits with the change he picked up recently. (They’re talking about a lawsuit Jesse won against the WWF for unpaid royalties.) Gene then plugs the hotline with Gordon Solie and Larry Zbyszko interviewing wrestlers during the night. Jesse says he might call and talk to Gordon because he may not be around much longer. (What does he mean by that?) Gene also says that Jesse will be on the hotline later in the week to dish the dirt on what has been happening. Finally, they talk about the rest of the card and Jesse says Flair and Steamboat have met before, but not for this level of prestige. (Wow, that’s a harsh shot at the NWA.)

TV Title Match: Lord Steven Regal (c) (w/ Sir William) vs. Flyin’ Brian

Notes: These two have a bit of a history. When Pillman suffered an injury, Regal stepped in as a substitute for a Hollywood Blonds title defense. The Blonds would lose the titles, so Pillman has a bone to pick with Regal. They faced each other for the TV Title on Saturday Night, but it ended in DQ and Regal gave Pillman a piledriver on the floor. Meanwhile before the match, Michael Buffer does his introductions. He talks about Pillman’s looks and his popularity. (It almost sounded like a dating profile.) Then, Buffer introduces Regal as a former European singles and tag team champion, as well as the current TV Champion. Regal’s thigh is still taped. (I swear it was perpetually hurt during this period.) Heenan jokes that Prince Charles gave Regal his robe, but Tony says, “You’ve gotta be kidding me.” Bobby replies, “Why? Is Prince Charles cheap?” (On a side note, Heenan’s mic stops working for the first few minutes of this match because he stepped on his headset.)

The Match: The match starts quickly with Pillman attacking both Regal’s leg and arm. Regal fires back with headbutts and uppercuts and he also catches Pillman on a leapfrog. He then spends some time tying Brian into a pretzel with various holds, like a modified Regal Stretch, a surfboard stretch, and a bow and arrow lock. Regal keeps blocking his comebacks with a Regal Roll and more holds until Pillman dropkicks him out of the air. The time is ticking away, but Pillman goes for ten-punches in the corner. He realizes his mistake and attempts a cross body, but both men tumble to the floor. Then, they try getting back into the ring, but the limit expires. (The fans boo while some fan holds up a sign that says, “Who booked that?” I guess smarks existed in 1994.)

Thoughts: This was a solid technical match and they surprisingly never lost the crowd, except with the finish. There were a couple of near-botches, but everything else was crisp. It wasn’t thrilling, but I enjoyed it. I’m even okay with the finish. Regal held the title for a while, which makes him look like a strong champion. The time-limit draws are a big part of the story they’re telling with him. It will make it more satisfying when someone finally takes the title.

Winner: Time Limit Draw (15:00)

Meanwhile, Gene is backstage with Col. Parker and Bunkhouse Buck. Gene calls Parker one of the greatest promoters, but he mocks Buck for smelling like a fertilizer salesman. Parker takes offense to that comment and berates Gene for not paying attention. Parker then implies he’s related to Elvis’ old promoter, Tom Parker before promoting the upcoming Austin/Muta match. Next, Parker talks about the Dustin Rhodes/Bunkhouse Buck match. He calls Dustin a pup and says Buck will whoop him. Gene then turns to Buck for a word and Buck says he smells the way he does on purpose because that’s what his daddy taught him. (He doesn’t fully explain that idea, but I guess he means it’s a psychological tactic.) He also calls Dustin a ten-cent drug store cowboy and yells about beating out Dustin’s brains. Gene has enough and tells Buck to take a shower before sending it back to the arena.

Chicago Street Fight: The Nasty Boys vs. Cactus Jack & Maxx Payne

Notes: The WWF did a Falls Count Anywhere Match at WrestleMania, so WCW decided two could play at that game and they could do it better. This is labeled as a Chicago Street Fight, but it’s Falls Count Anywhere rules. However, this is a non-title match for some reason. I’m not sure why. During the entrances, Knobbs yells that it’s time to get nastysized. (I don’t know what that means and I’m not sure I want to know.) Cactus has his ear bandaged for this match. (I’m surprised they’re letting him wrestle so soon after losing an ear. That probably wouldn’t happen nowadays.) He’s also wearing flannel (big surprise) and a t-shirt that reads, “Superdad.” (I like when wrestlers wear street clothes for a street fight. It’s fitting.)

The Match: Everyone starts brawling before Cactus & Maxx finish their entrance. They hit each other with pool cues, pipes, and chairs. (I have to point out an odd occurrence. You can see security escorting a female fan from ringside during the fighting. I’m unsure what happened there. She looked more confused than anything.) Maxx and Knobbs end up fighting to a fake souvenir stand. (It’s sectioned off by guardrails. The fans couldn’t even approach it if they wanted to.) Knobbs hits Maxx with a trash can, but Maxx slams him through a table. He also tries stuffing a Nasty Boys t-shirt down Knobbs’ throat. Cactus and Sags join them, but Sags whips Jack over the rail and they fight to the ramp. Then, Sags rams a table into Cactus’ head, but Jack takes it and back drops the table onto Sags’ body. However, Knobbs clobbers Jack with a snow shovel and Sags tries to piledrive Cactus on the table. It crumbles under their weight and they barely escape a nasty situation. (Pun intended.) Sags recovers and shoves Jack off the ramp before hitting him with the shovel and pinning him for the three-count.

Thoughts: This was great chaos and violence. It is how you do a Falls Count Anywhere Match correctly. I’ll give the cameramen credit because they did a good job of following the action. The match was both enjoyable and also uncomfortable. It’s difficult watching Foley take these bumps so soon after losing his ear, but the man rarely slowed down during this time. This match made the Nasties look like killers for once. It’s a shame they never really continue that momentum after this feud.

Winners: The Nasty Boys (8:54)

Next, Jesse Ventura is backstage with a very sweaty Johnny B. Badd. Jesse talks about Badd’s win and he plugs Slamboree in Philadelphia. Badd says it’s no surprise he beat DDP. Dallas is a good wrestler, but he’s a bad man! Then, Badd challenges the winner of Austin/Muta because the only thing he’s lacking is gold around his waist. Jesse asks him to clarify, so Badd says he’s going to shock the world and prove he’s the greatest wrestler of all times. (Times? Plural? Is he including alternate timelines in this? That’s a bold statement!)

U.S. Title Match: Stunning Steve Austin (c) (w/ Col. Parker) vs. The Great Muta

Notes: Muta has once again returned to WCW to challenge Austin for his U.S. Title. Col. Parker decided to help Austin prepare for the match by bringing in Japanese wrestlers to spar with Steve. (I say Japanese wrestlers, but half of them weren’t actually Japanese. Oh, WCW!) During this preparation, Austin developed a new finisher. It’s an Inside Toe Hold that he calls The Hollywood & Vine. Buffer does the introductions again and claims that Muta has come to take the title out of the country and back to Japan. (Isn’t Austin supposed to be the heel? Why is Buffer putting heat on Muta?) Then, Austin makes his entrance and they show fans holding KFC buckets to mock Parker. They also show a horrifying fan sign that shows chickens clawing at Parker’s face. Heenan then makes jokes about Japan owning half the United States, so he says they might as well own the U.S. Title. (It’s like WCW doesn’t want the fans to cheer Muta. It thankfully doesn’t work because the crowd is behind him in this match. On an amusing side note, during this match Heenan claims he sang the national anthem and Aaron Neville lip-synced. Neville must have heard him because he moves his chair next to Bobby’s and Heenan changes his tune.)

The Match: They trade mat holds while Parker does his best to distract Muta. Austin sends Muta to the floor, and Parker chokes him with his handkerchief, so Heenan claims he was wiping drool from Muta’s mouth. Austin then attacks Muta outside and rams him into the rail before wearing him down with holds. He locks him in an abdominal stretch, but Austin gets caught using the ropes. Muta fights back until he misses a dropkick and Parker chokes him again. Finally, Muta gains control with a spin kick, a back drop, and a suplex, but he misses a missile dropkick. Austin attempts to lock in the Hollywood & Vine, but Muta blocks it and gives Austin the Stun Gun. He also hits the handspring elbow and a super hurricanrana, but Parker distracts him. Muta knocks Parker down and Austin charges him, but Muta back drops Steve over the ropes and the ref calls for the bell.

Thoughts: The match started slow but solid and was building to something good before that lame finish. The fans were into it, and they were getting excited towards the end. They were telling a good story, despite it being a slower pace. I liked it for the most part, but the finish kind of ruined it. I get they wanted to protect both men, but this is PPV and it should have been more decisive. It ended up being a disappointment.

Winner: Steve Austin (by DQ) (16:20)

Then, Tony says, “Standing by now, the dressing room—with this interview.” (I’m pretty sure Ventura conducts this interview, not the dressing room.) Jesse is with Dustin Rhodes, but first Ventura praises the last match. He then talks about the Bunkhouse Match between Rhodes and Bunkhouse Buck. He shows a clip of Buck breaking a trophy over Dustin’s back. Rhodes says he doesn’t need to see that because he felt it and he’s been getting out of bed a little bit harder lately. (Oh, MY!) Dustin then says he’s going to give Buck some advice. He tells him there’s a big difference between the T in Texas and the T in Tennessee. (He doesn’t explain the difference.) Instead, he says he’s going to get Buck’s possum raccoon butt under that tree! (What!? What does that even mean!? I don’t think Dusty could even understand that line!) Finally, Dustin threatens to whip Buck’s butt and then leaves the room. (This was a hilariously bad promo.)

International World Title Match: Sting vs. Ravishing Rick Rude (c)

Notes: Rude slammed the cage door in Sting’s face at SuperBrawl, so the next logical step would be a Title Match. However, Rude claimed Sting didn’t deserve a shot. Sting decided to counter with some rather unique tactics. Rude picked a woman from the crowd to kiss like he usually does and the woman asked for an autograph. Rude signed it without looking, but it turned out he had inadvertently signed a contract for a match with Sting. The woman was Sting’s friend. (It’s a bit silly, but I always loved this storyline.) Buffer does his introductions and and says that Rude is wearing multi-colored artwork under his gorgeous robe. (Did Rude write that line himself?) Rude grabs the mic and tries to do his spiel, but Harley Race appears to interrupt him. Race says Vader challenges the winner of the match. Harley then grabs Sting and raises his fist, so Sting attacks him and whips Harley into the corner for an upside down bump. (It’s crazy that Harley still took bumps like that as a manager. On a side note, Commissioner Nick Bockwinkel sits ringside for this match and the rest of the show.)

The Match: Sting immediately attacks Rude before he can remove his robe and back drops him both in and outside the ring. Then, Sting slows the match down with frequent front facelocks until Rude crotches him on the ropes. The two men brawl on the floor and the ramp and Rude begins attacking Sting’s back. He locks him in a rear chinlock and pounces on Sting before posing for the fans. Sting briefly shows signs of life until Rude puts him in a sleeper hold, but he breaks it early. Unfortunately, this allows Sting to hulk-up and back drop Rude, who lands awkwardly on his leg. Then, the ref goes down when he’s hit by an Irish whip and a sandwiched in a Stinger Splash. Sting puts Rude in the Scorpion Deathlock, but Race and Vader appear. Sting fights both of them until Rude clips his knee and attempts the Rude Awakening. Race grabs a chair and tries to hit Sting, but Sting ducks and Harley hits Rude instead. Sting capitalizes by covering Rude for the win.

Thoughts: The match started a bit slow, but it picked up by the end. The crowd was into it. I even like the finish because it keeps both men looking strong while also building Sting’s next program. Plus, we get another Sting/Vader match, which I definitely like. (Also, Bobby Heenan was great on commentary. He kept describing ways to cheat that became increasingly violent to the point that Tony was disturbed.) Unfortunately, this would be Rude’s final PPV match. The feud would continue on a tour of Japan where Rude would suffer a horrific back injury. He landed awkwardly on the ring platform, and the injury would end his in-ring career.

Winner: Sting (New Champion) (12:50)

Tony and Heenan recap the night and talk about the rest of the card. Tony snaps his fingers to get Heenan to focus, so Bobby takes offense. Then, Tony talks about how Flair invited Hulk Hogan to the show, but Heenan doesn’t see him in the crowd.

Bunkhouse Match: Bunkhouse Buck (w/ Col. Parker) vs. Dustin Rhodes

Notes: Dustin’s feud with Parker’s Stud Stable continues, but now Parker has added a new member. He enlisted the help of his real-life cousin, Bunkhouse Buck. (He used to wrestle and team with Parker in Continental Wrestling as Jimmy Golden. You might also remember Buck from when he played Jack Swagger’s dad in WWE. I’m unashamed to say I like Buck. He’s highly amusing. He comes from the Lex Luger school of making as much noise as possible while selling.) They are facing each other in a Bunkhouse Match, which is basically a Street Fight. Buck does his entrance and Cappetta is introducing everyone, but Rhodes runs down the ramp and hits a flying clothesline over the ropes.

The Match: They brawl in and out of the ring and Buck sells like a drunk man. However, Dustin misses a cross body and tumbles to the floor. Parker chokes Rhodes and Buck breaks a small board over his back before gouging his forehead with it. Dustin is bleeding, so Buck attacks the cut and then attacks Dustin’s leg. He rams it into the rail and the post, but Dustin grabs a packet of powder and blinds Buck. It’s not enough because Buck removes his belt and whips Dustin before kicking him in the groin. Dustin eventually fights back and returns the favor by whipping Buck with a belt. He also busts open Buck’s forehead with the buckle. Then, Rhodes takes off his boot and drives it into the cut. Buck plays a little pocket pool for a foreign object, but he can’t find it. (I swear that’s not completely a joke.) He has to return to the ring empty-handed and Rhodes hits a bulldog. Parker then distracts Dustin, so Rhodes whips him too, but Parker hands Buck some brass knuckles that he uses for the win.

Thoughts: This match was great bloody violence. It was a good intense and believable brawl. I guess this was WCW’s answer for ECW’s more violent product. It’s a shame that Hogan is about to come along and change the tone. This wasn’t a wrestling match, but it didn’t need to be. However, it is a bit strange they would have two street fights on one show, but they spread them out and made them unique.

Winner: Bunkhouse Buck (14:11)

Next, Ventura is backstage with an angry Rick Rude. He’s holding an ice pack to his head and punching lockers while Jesse says he’s confused about what happened. Rude says he didn’t send out an S.O.S., and he didn’t need any help. He says fourteen years of hard work went down the drain. (Oh, he doesn’t know how prophetic that is.) Then, Vader arrives, and the two of them argue. They nearly come to blows, but wrestlers break up the fight. Jerry Sags tries to help, but he came from the shower and is barely holding a towel in place. Thankfully, they go back to the arena before Sags has a wardrobe malfunction.

Tony and Bobby then argue about who is at fault for Rude’s loss before Tony introduces a recap of the Vader/Boss feud. They show the clip of the Boss breaking the cuffs at SuperBrawl. (I’m glad one of the cameramen caught the moment. It’s a shame they didn’t show it on the PPV.) Tony talks about the controversy around Vader’s loss at SuperBrawl, but Heenan ignores him because he’s still mad at Tony.

Big Van Vader (w/ Harley Race) vs. The Boss

Notes: During the entrances, they show a fan sign that says, “Big Boss Man.” (Aren’t they in a enough trouble over this gimmick already?) Vader then makes his entrance and has to pull Harley forward to avoid the fireworks. (Vader gets both fireworks and flames. They went all out for the entrance.) Boss then meets Vader at the ramp and Harley tries to hold him, but Boss moves and Vader wipes out Race.

The Match: The Boss sends Vader in and out of the ring with clotheslines and punches. They trade stiff strikes, and Vader impressively slams Boss over the ropes. Vader then attempts to dive from the ramp, but he face plants in the ring. They brawl to the floor again and Vader crashes into the guardrail, so Boss picks him up and slams him on it. Then, they return to the ring and trade more nasty punches and headbutts until Vader is bleeding from two spots on his face. Vader ends up back dropping Boss over the ropes, suplexes him back inside, and then hits a splash. Boss fires back again, but Vader hits another hard clothesline and attempts a Vader Bomb. However, Boss stops him and slams him before giving Vader a DDT off the turnbuckles. Boss also hits a flying tackle and goes for another, but Vader catches him in a powerslam. Next, Vader hits the Vader Bomb, but Boss kicks out at two! Vader realizes that’s not enough, so he goes to the top and hits a moonsault for the win!

Thoughts: This was a good old fashioned hoss fight. They beat the hell out of each other, and were throwing potatoes like crazy. It was great. It wasn’t a long bout, but that’s probably for the best. It was exactly what a match between two big guys should be. When I watched this live, it was the first time I saw Vader do the moonsault. I was blown away by what I saw. This match is the reason Vader quickly became one of my favorites.

Winner: Vader (9:02)

After the match, Race grabs the handcuffs and the nightstick. He tries cuffing the Boss, but Boss fights back and hits both Race and Vader. Then, Boss wails on Harley with the nightstick until Bockwinkel enters the ring and makes him stop. Vader stares down the Boss and Bockwinkel makes him leave, so the fans boo. Vader then goes to the announce table and yells, “Who’s the man!?”

Then, they go to Mean Gene. (Heenan jokingly asks, “Who!?”) Gene says that Sting will be on the hotline later and Teddy Long will be on it on Friday. Gene then tells everyone to hold onto their hats for the main event. However, Tony says something is going on backstage.

Jesse is with Nick Bockwinkel and the Boss. Nick admonishes the Boss for his actions. He tells him he’s supposed to represent good people, but they don’t conduct themselves that way. (Is he sure about that?) Then, he takes away the Boss’ cuffs and nightstick. He also takes away the Boss’ name. He says he’s not the Boss anymore. Nick says he sympathizes with the Boss and knows how he feels, but he did the wrong thing. This was done to end the Boss gimmick because the WWF was threatening a lawsuit. The Boss would soon be repackaged with a new gimmick called, The Guardian Angel.

No, it’s not that kind of guardian angel! He would join the anti-gang/crime-prevention organization called The Guardian Angels. (They’re basically an unarmed citizen patrol group. Boss felt it would be disrespectful if he simply donned the gimmick, so he went through the training to become an official member.) He would only use this moniker for a short time before eventually turning heel and reverting to Big Bubba Rogers.

WCW Title Match: Ric Flair (c) vs. Ricky the Dragon Steamboat

Notes: Steamboat’s music begins early, but they awkwardly stop it. Tony brings up the fact that these two faced in Chicago five years prior, but he also brings up Hulk Hogan. Heenan accuses Hogan of being an egomaniac and trying to steal Steamboat’s thunder. (Careful, Bobby. It sounds like you’re shooting.) Flair makes his entrance and Heenan compares him to Babe Ruth, Red Grange, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, and Wayne Gretzky. He also throws in Hugh Hefner, which I thought was amusing. Buffer then does the introductions, including name-dropping almost everyone on the WCW crew. (Isn’t that why WCW has credits at the end of their shows?) I’ll give Buffer credit, this is one of his better introductions. He does a good job of building up both men.

The Match: Steamboat keeps frustrating Flair with flying head scissors and headlocks, so they start slapping each other. He repeatedly takes Flair to the mat and slows the pace, so Ric tries throwing him over the ropes. Ricky skins the cat and returns to the mat holds until he misses a dropkick. Flair answers with chops, punches, knee drops, and multiple pin attempts, but the two of them tumble over the ropes on a cross body. Then, Flair attempts to piledrive Ricky on the floor, but Steamboat back drops him and goes for a chair. Ricky spots Bockwinkel, so he tries to splash Flair instead and crashes into the guardrail. However, Ricky retakes control in the ring, whips Flair around, and even puts Ric in the Figure Four. Flair breaks it with an eye poke and eventually locks in his own Figure Four. Steamboat makes it to the ropes, hits Flair with a superplex, and locks him in a Double Chickenwing. He then turns it into a pin for a three-count, but both men’s shoulders are on the mat. Referee Randy Anderson arrives and confers with Nick Patrick, who announces that both men were down, so it’s a draw.

Thoughts: The match started kind of slow, but it built at a good pace to a crescendo. There was some great intensity and storytelling. The ending was a bit confusing, but I don’t think it ruined it. Flair wasn’t losing because they’re building to a match with Hogan, but they also didn’t want to make Steamboat look weak. The finish does a good job of accomplishing those goals. This match is what hooked me on wrestling because it was the first big main event I watched. Plus, it was hard-hitting and believable. It’s not as great as their ‘89 matches, but it still holds up as a solid bout.

Winner: Draw/Double-Pin (32:19)

After the match, Bockwinkel explains to Tony and Bobby that the decision goes to the champion in the case of a double-pin. Nick says Flair will retain his championship until he confers with the board. (They have a rematch on Saturday Night that Flair wins.) Heenan tells Bockwinkel that he did the fair and just thing, so Nick jokes that it’s unusual to get compliments from him. Next, Tony tries to recap the night, but Heenan keeps interrupting him because he wants answers. He even crumples up Tony’s notes in frustration. Tony says Bockwinkel has to meet with the board, so Heenan says to fire the board. Tony has enough and says goodnight after plugging Slamboree.

The Good:

– The main event was great.

– The Chicago Street Fight was chaotic and fun.

– The Bunkhouse Match was entertaining and violent.

– Vader/Boss was a great big man match.

The Bad:

– Some of the finishes were disappointing.

– Austin/Muta didn’t live up to expectations.

Performer of the Night:

If you had asked me this years ago, I’d make it a tie between Flair and Steamboat. However, now I can appreciate the other wrestlers on this card too. I have to give it to Cactus Jack for taking nasty bumps only a couple of weeks after losing an ear. (Flair and Steamboat still get an honorable mention and Vader too.)

Final Thoughts:

This is easily one of the best WCW PPVs I’ve covered. (I’m not saying that because I’m biased.) Nothing on the show is actively bad and much of it is good to great. This show is a prime example of good variety. It has everything from bloody brawls to technical clinics. This PPV comes with the highest recommendation. It’s a shame that the second half of the year is a drop in quality.

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My next review will be ECW’s When Worlds Collide ‘94. Look for it next Saturday!

 

Written by Paul Matthews

I am chronologically reviewing all the pre-network era WWF/WCW/ECW PPVs from Starrcade '83 to WrestleMania 30. Join me on this journey every Saturday!
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