In the small window between the Clash of the Champions and the Great American Bash PPV, the main angle was putting over the fact that the “Dudes with Attitudes” (Sting, JYD, Paul Orndorff, El Gigante and The Steiners) out number the Horsemen and the gang warfare is actually on the babyfaces side for a change.
El Gigante was given several jobbers to squash at house shows, primarily his “trainer” David “The Cuban Assassin” Sierra. So he goes from short matches with a fellow Spanish-speaking worker to the Horsemen. I can’t wait!
Ole Anderson keep bringing in older talent to replace the more costly young men who were on the roster. Thunderbolt Patterson and Mr.Wrestling II were both brought in for non-combative roles to help plug the Omni house show that was upcoming. Buddy Landell and Moondog Rex were both signed to be lower card heels.
Rex had some good size to him, so I’m a little surprised he wasn’t given a mask gimmick and a little push. Since the Black Scorpion angle was about to kick off after this PPV, that would actually have been a good fit, so as long as you were just seeking a short term monster heel. I enjoyed Rex’s run as “The Masked Champion” aka “The Nightmare” in Mid-South, so maybe I’m just looking through glasses that are a bit too rose colored.
July 6th, 1990
Jim Ross and Bob Caudle call the action.
“Flying” Brian Pillman vs. Buddy Landell
Pillman runs down to a big ovation and his music doesn’t start until he almost hits the ring. Pillman slaps the chubby looking Landell. They go tit for tat until Pillman gets a crossbody. That elicits a “Buddy” chant. Pillman drop kicks Buddy to the floor. Landell responds with some Hogan poses and asks Brian if he wants more of him. Buddy slaps Pillman and runs away. The “Nature Boy” catches Pillman on another crossbody attempt and grounds him with a back breaker. A missed dropkick keeps Pillman on the mat. Landell wears on Pillman with various rest holds.
Pillman slugs his way back into the match but Landell cuts off several comebacks. Brian misses a charge and flies unto the ramp. Landell turns his back and Pillman scales to the top rope for a flying crossbody that finishes the match. Perfectly acceptable opener.
“Captain” Mike Rotunda vs. The Iron Sheik
Sheik uses his flagpole to batter Rotunda and chokes him with his robe. Sheik bails after Capt. Mike starts to fight back. Sheik goes to the eyes and locks on a horrible looking abdominal stretch. A gut wrench and belly to back suplex down Rotunda. Mike fires up and starts to unload on the Sheik, who drops to his knees and does the Muslim prayer bow to beg for mercy. It’s a ruse and he goes to Rotunda’s eyes.
Sheik absorbs a suplex but chucks the Captain to the floor. Sheik attempts a double underhook suplex but Mike reverses it into a backslide for the pin to avenge Wrestlemania 1. Not good. I was entertained by Sheik’s awfulness though.
Doug Furnas vs. Dutch Mantel
Furnas knocks Dutch on his butt several times. Doug out punches Mantel and then presses him in the air and gives him a ride to the mat. Dutch slaps Furnas several times to try and rile the youngster up. Doug flips out of the corner and dropkicks Mantel to the floor. Dutch slows down the pace with headlocks and armbars. The crowd starts to get restless – as do I.
Furnas hits a flying clothesline and a big powerslam. Dutch sends Furnas off the ropes and Doug sneaks behind him to hit a belly to belly suplex for the pin. Furnas continues to look like missed prospect for WCW. Match was a chore to sit through though.
Tommy “Wildfire” Rich vs. Harley Race
Race is old and chunky. The match drew in Ole’s GCW 10 years earlier though, so I guess he wanted to see it again for nostalgia’s sake. Race has been working in Puerto Rico and Japan since leaving the WWF in early 1989. He stuck around as an in ring talent for the next 5 months, losing to Lex Luger, JYD, Rich, Rotunda and others on house shows before finally calling it a career after almost 28 years in the ring and 8 World title reigns.
Race bumps around a bunch to start to show he still has it (to some extent). The announcers gracefully say both men are washed up. Race catches Rich with a flying knee and piledriver. He suplexes Rich on the ramp. Rich avenges that by clotheslining Race over the top rope and slamming him on the concrete. JR makes a joke about Race’s former “King” gimmick as Race nails a belly to belly suplex. Both men topple over the top rope.
Rich tries a crossbody and Race rolls through it for the pin! The crowd reacts with a mix of boos and applause of respect. Race looked good technically…yet, he was just cosmetically no longer able to pull off “the look”. Match was far better than expected, which simply means it did not stink.
“Mean” Mark Callous (with visible veins in his bulging biceps) tears up a Lex Luger T-shirt as a sign of what is to come. All the interviews conducted tonight have put over Sting vs. Flair as a mega-event, mentioning it along with the wrestler’s own match. WCW got that part right.
US Tag Team Champions The Midnight Express vs. The Wild Eyed Southern Boys
The heels knock the Boys to the floor and a four-way donnybrook breaks out. The Boys trap Eaton in the ring and double back drop him. Eaton smacks Armstong with some fists but Bobby gets caught on the top rope and slammed off. Steve hits a HIGH flying clothesline from the top rope. Smothers out wrestles Eaton and even uses “karate” kicks. Cornette complains that karate is illegal in WCW, and JR points out Stan Lane uses it all the time. Lane comes in and has a karate stand off with Smothers. Lane hits several blows but Smothers gets the best of him ultimately. The crowd is rooting for the heels for whatever reason. Maybe a Confederate gimmick doesn’t fly in Baltimore?
Smothers uses the ropes to propel himself into Eaton with a dropkick. Then uses the ropes to swing his feet into Eaton’s face. Lane jumps Smothers from behind but Eaton and Lane are both hit with another HIGH flying clothesline from Steve! The heels are then chucked together as Cornette loses his mind at ringside.
Lane chucks Tracy over the top rope and then flings him into the railing. Cornette adds a racquet shot for good measure. Smothers tries to climb back in and Lane knocks him back into the railing in a sick looking bump. The Midnights start working the quick tags and double team moves to entrap Smothers in their corner. Eaton hits the Alabama Jam but is too injured to go for the pin. Smothers manages to flip Eaton to the floor but Lane cuts Tracy off right away. Smothers escapes a double team attempt and makes the tag.
Steve explodes on both heels and a four way breaks out. Armstrong hits a flying dropkick but the ref is busy and misses the pin. Armstrong goes up again but Lane shoves him off from behind. Eaton is launched on top of him from the top rope and Armstrong somehow kicks out! Smothers switches off with Steve and gets a small package for a near fall. Lane kicks him in the head from behind and Eaton gets his own roll up for the pin!!!
Michael Hayes and Jimmy Garvin cut a promo in glitter and lipstick. Ok then.
Tom Zenk vs. BIG VAN VADER
This is Vader’s debut. Zenk is mauled right away. Zenk is clubbed in one corner and then splashed in the other. Vader no sells a dropkick and press slams Zenk. Vader delivers an elbow that makes a woman at ringside recoil and twinge. A suplex and splash end it in under 3 minutes. That’ll teach Zenk to have a good contract in an Ole Anderson run company. Fun squash!
The Steiner Brothers vs. The Fabulous Freebirds
The Freebirds jump the Brothers to start and isolate Scott Steiner. Scott fights them both off and Rick wipes them both out. Scott chases them to the floor and nails a double clothesline. The crowd start a “faggot” chant and Garvin stalls to yell at them. Garvin is Steinerlined and flung over Rick’s head. Hayes comes in and stalls. Hayes begs off so Rick bites his ass. That’s enough for Hayes and Garvin is tagged back in. Scott takes on both heels at once and send them flying. The Freebirds take a walk to regroup.
Hayes is back in and guess what? He stalls(!) Shocking development. Hayes is Tiger bombed and Garvin is nailed with a tilt-a-whirl suplex, leading to the Freebirds running away again.
The crowd upgrades to a “Michael is a bitch!” chant. Rick flings both Hayes and Garvin over his head. Hayes manages to catch Rick with a big punch and the Birds double suplex him on the concrete. Hayes delivers a bulldog back in the ring. Garvin locks Rick in a long sleeper hold that finally ends with Rick nailing Jim with a modified bulldog. Scott tags in and explodes on both heels. The Steiners nail stereo Steinerliunes and Hayes is knocked out with a Frankensteiner. Jimmy Jam sneaks in and DDT’s Scott, so Rick sneaks in and belly to belly suplexes Hayes and tosses his brother on top for the win! Good stuff in between the Birds stooging.
El Gigante, Paul Orndorff and JYD vs. Barry Windham, “The Enforcer” Arn Anderson and Sid Vicious
Gigante gets a nice pop from the audience. Arn teases like he is going to start off against Orndorff, then tags in Sid instead. Sid makes some great facials before he grabs Orndorff and chokes away. Sid misses a leg drop and Mr. Wonderful kicks away at his leg. Windham and Arn charge the ring and Orndorff hip tosses them both away. Paul tries a hiptoss on Sid and that goes poorly for him. Arn goes to work on Orndorff until all 6 men end up in the ring and the heels scatter when Gigante appears. All 3 faces punch away at Anderson’s skull. Arn gives an astounded look when Gigante hovers over him.
Windham tags in and JYD schools him with headbutts. JYD no sells a DDT and proves too fat to body slam. Windham suplexes him and Orndorff tags in and whoops all 3 heels until Windham catches him from behind while Mr. Wonderful attempts a piledriver. The crowd starts a “We want SID!” chant and so Arn complies. Sid comes in, locks in a chinlock and tags out. WORKRATE!
Arn and Barry start to grind the life out of Orndorff until Paul manages to tag in the JYD to slugs away on every body until JYD is tossed over the top rope for the lame DQ. Gigante never even tagged in. Gigante clears the ring by himself and the heels head for the showers. This was fine, all things considered.
US Champion Lex Luger vs. “Mean” Mark Callous
They neutralize each other’s power early on so Luger starts to use grappling moves to try and find a method to victory. Callous misses a charge and Luger goes back to work on Callous’ limb. Callous uses blunt force to take control. Mark slams down with forearms and drives a boot into Luger’s face. The ropewalk forearm drop fails to keep Lex down. The Total Package charges at Callous and a quick side step sees Lex fly onto the concrete.
The hosses end up throwing bombs back and forth as their stamina reserves start to become tested. Luger manages to rock Callous long enough to lock him in the torture rack. The ref is bumped and that allows Dangerously to sneak in the ring and crack his cell phone into Luger’s ribs. Callous sets Luger up for the heart punch but runs into a boot instead. Lex hits a lariat and manages to snag the pin. Solid match.
World tag champions DOOM vs. The Rock and Roll Express
Simmons compares physiques with Gibson and then offers Robert the chance to leave instead of messing with DOOM. Reed and Simmons both beat on Gibson. Morton shares the same fate. Gibson tags back in for further punishment. DOOM is stomping and clubbing away – nothing of note.
Morton tags in to zero reaction and manages to roll Reed up, only for Simmons to nail a clothesline to the back of his head.
Morton then absorbs several minutes of uninteresting offence from both members of DOOM. Morton manages to catch Reed with an elbow but the crowd remains dead. Reed goes for a splash like a moron and lands on Ricky’s knees. Gibson gets the chilly tag and is quickly double teamed by DOOM. A four-way scuffle breaks down and the crowd finally wakes up for Reed being tossed into Teddy Long. Gibson starts to go after Long and Reed nails a flying shoulderblock for the pin. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ…
I assume Ole figured the Express would draw in the old JCP hotbed of Baltimore, but the crowd roared in joy for their defeat. A boring 15 minute encounter.
World Champion Ric Flair vs. Sting
Sting soaks in the adulation after being out of action for almost five months. Ole Anderson is handcuffed to El Gigante. The Steiners, Orndorff, and JYD are around ringside to prevent shenanigans. Sting out muscles Flair to start. He cuts off a “Wooo!” with a scream of his own. Flair is press slammed, dropkicked and flung across the ring. Flair is clotheslined on the ramp and then sent back in the ring the hard way. Sting no sells a suplex and catches Flair with a flying cross body.
Flair decides it’s time to test Sting’s mettle and he kicks away at Sting’s surgically repaired knee. Flair sends Sting bouncing onto the ramp and continues to assault the knee with boots. Flair misses a knee drop and Sting locks him in the figure-four. Flair escapes to the floor, where Sting no sells being flung into the railing. Sting slams Flair off the top rope but ends up getting his knee kicked out from under him. Sting kicks Flair away when the Nature Boy attempted a figure-four. More chops are no sold by Sting. He press slams and suplexes Flair. The Stinger Splash leads to the Scorpion Death Lock.
The Horsemen charge down but the faces at ringside fend them off. Flair manages to make it to the ropes. Sting no sells more chops but charges at Flair knee first and hurts his leg again. Flair goes for the figure-four and ends up small packaged for the pin and title change.
The usual good Sting/Flair match, but the climax felt a tad flat and in my opinion the end should have been the Scorpion Death Lock, instead of that being another false finish. If you have a guy you want to make your mega star, then he should have his move put over as hard as possible.
Sting’s post match promo then puts over Flair as being better than himself, and Sting “will do the best I can”. Not quite the victory speech needed to signify the dawning of a new era that this moment was meant to be.
Overall a very watchable event, but the Southern Boys vs. Midnight Express was the only encounter that proved to be a must see. Ole’s first PPV in control featured too much filler and too few actual feuds. The roster issues that began in 1987 continue to haunt WCW as Sting’s legitimate challengers list is awfully small. Next time I’ll be covering the September Clash: Fall Brawl ’90 as we begin the Black Scorpion saga.