In some ways, I’m really excited to continue with these WCW articles. In others, I’m not. I feel like WCW was in a strange place at this point, with no real direction other than to pick up everybody the WWF let go. I don’t like that aspect, but I do enjoy seeing guys like Steve Austin get a chance to work. Stuff like that is what keeps me interested. Mostly, I’m just trying to get through this period and onto the next. When I saw the match times for some of these, I wanted to cry. Not happy at all.
– Taped to air August 21st, 1993, on WCW Saturday Night, from Center Stage Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia
Sting vs. Ric Flair for the NWA Championship
Pre-Match Thoughts: I accidentally saw the time for this match, and it’s one of those that was alarming to me. I can’t not watch it though, I don’t think that’s a legitimate option. I can’t believe I’m talking like this about a Sting/Flair match. Feels wrong, is wrong. The entrances are cut off, thankfully.
Match Review: These two lock up, and Flair goes to a hammerlock. He takes Sting down with a drop toe-hold, and Sting then reverses the hammerlock to his own. Flair makes the ropes, so we’re back where we started. Sting takes him down with a wristlock, then he shoulders Flair down to the mat. Sting arm drags Flair down, but Flair gets out and trips him only for his figure-four to be blocked. Flair shoulders Sting down again, then they botch a Sting attempt at a press slam. Well, that sucks. Sting puts a headlock on Flair, and now they do the spot right and Sting press slams Flair. Flair goes to the apron, but Sting suplexes him back in there. Sting then puts a Boston crab on Flair, but Flair makes the ropes. Good selling here. Flair goes for a walk, then gets back in the ring after a while and chops away at Sting. Flair follows those up with a knee drop that misses, then Sting goes to work on that leg with a half crab. Sting breaks it and press slams Flair once more, this time getting a 2 count. Sting misses an elbow drop, but he’s able to put an abdominal stretch on Flair until Flair breaks it by reaching the ropes. Lots of interesting holds in this bout. Flair moves away from a STINGER SPLASH, then pulls Sting to the outside for a piledriver attempt that is reversed to a backdrop. Flair crawls back into the ring and gets hip tossed, then Sting hits him with a clothesline for 2. Flair decides it’s time to hit him in the gut, then throws Sting to the outside only for Sting to get in there quickly. Flair’s chops are then no-sold, so Sting throws him hard from buckle to buckle. Sting shoulders Flair down a few times, then Flair crumples to the canvas. Flair causes Sting to chase him around the ring, then Sting misses a charge and clotheslines himself with the top rope. Flair knee drops Sting shortly afterward, then cradles him up for 2 after some slow punching and kicking. Flair’s chops are working now, and after some of them, he covers for 2 while putting his feet on the ropes. Don’t be a heel just yet! Flair suplexes Sting for 2, and it’s time for a commercial.
While we were gone, Flair had a cross body reversed for 2. Now, Sting is in the middle of missing a dropkick. Flair picks him up and drops him with a back suplex, and that gets 2. Flair goes up top and comes down with a big right forearm, then knocks Sting out of the ring with another chop. Sting comes back in with a sunset flip attempt, and that gets a 2 count. Flair goes for a hip toss, but Sting backslides him for 2. Sting throws Flair upside down into the corner, and that also sends him out of the ring. Sting tries to bring Flair in the hard way, but Flair thumbs him in the eye. Flair now goes up top, but Sting is there to slam him down. Sting clotheslines Flair, and that gets 2. Sting hip tosses Flair and clotheslines him again, the last of which sends Flair over the top rope. Isn’t that a disqualification in WCW? Guess not. Flair throws Sting into the railing, but Sting doesn’t care for that and stalks Flair around the ring again. Back in they go, and Sting flips through a back suplex to roll Flair up for 2. Flair pokes him in the eye again, and there’s more hard chops. Flair goes to a knee-breaker, and there’s the FIGURE-FOUR! Sting reverses it after a very long time, then cradles Flair up for 2. Sid Vicious is now on commentary wondering why he isn’t the challenger tonight, and I can think of a lot of reasons why that is. Flair chops Sting again, as Sid says Flair should be collecting Social Security. That’s a good line. He should keep using it. Sting picks Flair up and press slams him again, then drops him with a face buster that gets 2. Sting cradles Flair up and gets 2, it was a little sloppy that time. Sting climbs the buckles and punches away at Flair, then clotheslines him again for 2. Shocking how much Flair has done without resting at his age. Sting picks Flair up and slams him, then Flair blocks a splash with his knees. Flair tries a suplex, but Sting no-sells it and clotheslines him again. Sting applies the FIGURE-FOUR himself, but Flair makes the ropes just in time. Flair trips Sting and covers him with his feet on the ropes, but Sting reverses that and gets a 2 count. Flair begs off, but Sting gives him an inverted atomic drop. Sting goes for a SUPERPLEX, but Flair reaches the ropes on the cover. Sting drops Flair with yet ANOTHER press slam, but a cross body from Flair sends them both over the top rope. Sid decides it’s time to get involved, so when Sting makes it to the apron, he pulls him down and Flair wins after a count-out thanks to Sid’s help after 39:35.
While Sid argues with Flair, here comes HARLEM HEAT. Flair fights them off by himself, then Sid and Sting both get in there at which point Sid gets double teamed. That didn’t go well.
My Thoughts: So, two guys who wrestled for 40 minutes fought off Sid and a tag team. That’s awful. This match didn’t really do it for me for whatever reason. I thought the repetition of spots was out of place and this wasn’t wrestled at the pace of their match in 1988. The finish was horrible as well and Flair shouldn’t have wrestled as the heel against Sting given he was the babyface champion. That was a little frustrating. The work here was pretty good besides those gripes. Flair did a hell of a job managing his conditioning and being able to go for that long. I didn’t believe Sting would win the title, but this wasn’t a bad match despite what I disliked about it. **3/4. The run-time is certainly prohibitive and I don’t recommend watching this unless you really want to.
– Taped to air August 28th, 1993, on WCW Saturday Night, from Center Stage Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia
Best of 3 Series for the WCW United States Championship: Rick Rude vs. Dustin Rhodes
Pre-Match Thoughts: I’ve been looking forward to this series. The first match of any series is interesting. It sets the tone for everything else in it and shows what the wrestlers set out to do. I’m glad this feud is coming to an end and if I’m wrong about that I’m going to be upset.
Match Review: This crowd is heated. These two talk trash to each other for a bit, then break clean after going into the ropes. That happens again, then Rude puts a headlock on Rhodes for a bit. Good trash talk by Rude as he has that slapped on. Rhodes tries to power out to a wristlock, but that isn’t working yet. When it does, Dustin turns it into a hammerlock and tries to cover Rude, getting a count of 2. Rude makes the ropes, then ducks to the outside. He gets back in the ring and wants a test of strength, but Dustin decides to kick him and arm drag him. After holding the wristlock and armbar, the fans ask Dustin to break Rude’s arm. Instead Rude hits him in the mouth. Rude rams him face first into the mat, and it’s time for more trash talking. I think the trash talking is compensating for what he’d lost physically. Rude goes to a chinlock, and it’s time for a commercial.
Back from that commercial, Dustin has the chinlock now. During the break apparently Dustin blocked a RUDE AWAKENING and gave Rude his own neckbreaker. Okay. Rude fires off a back suplex, then heads up top for a right hand that connects. Rude goes up there again, and this time he hits Dustin from behind for 2. Rude goes to work on Dustin’s back with some forearms, then launches him into the corner. Rude goes back to a chinlock, but Dustin picks him up on his shoulders and drops him onto the mat. After that, Rude dodges a charge so Dustin flies over the top, that was a big bump. Dustin gets rammed into the apron, then Rude throws him back into the ring for a bear hug. Rude turns it into a belly to belly suplex, but that only gets 2 as well. Back to the bear hug, then an abdominal stretch while holding the tights. He’s pretty much exposing Dustin’s taint. Please don’t send the camera that way. Rude goes back to the chinlock, but tries to jump on Rude’s back only for Dustin to turn over and get his knees up. Dustin hits Rude with some big elbows, then an inverted atomic drop. Dustin BULLDOGS Rude, but Rude gets his foot on the rope at 2. Rude tries a sleeper, but Dustin backs him into the corner to break it. Rude heads up top, jumps over Dustin, and gets caught in a sleeper. Now they do a horrendous version of the Bret/Austin finish, and Rude picks up the victory at 24:58.
After the match, Rude cuts a promo on Dustin and Ric Flair as well, given he faces Flair at Fall Brawl. At the very end of my clip they showed the Shockmaster FALLING OVER again. Oh boy.
My Thoughts: This was not a good match at all. Not just not a good match given how long it was but plain out not good. The pace was too slow, Rude relied too much on long resting holds and didn’t bump very much, so the matchup just didn’t look right. Like I said at the start I am glad for this feud to be over and it’s good that things progressed down that path. Unfortunate the match wasn’t better though. *1/2. If somebody liked this match I’d like to know where they are.
– Taped to air August 28th, 1993, on Worldwide, from Disney Studios in Orlando, Florida
The Nasty Boys vs. Marcus Alexander Bagwell & 2 Cold Scorpio
Pre-Match Thoughts: This match has some potential. The Nasties weren’t in WCW long at this point, but given they were new it was a certainty they’d win this match. It’s a little surprising to me that they were going to be heels, but with the Blonds on their way to a break-up I guess that made sense.
Match Review: Scorpio and Bagwell dropkick the Nasties off the apron, and that’s how we start. Sags gets in there to continue the match, and he doesn’t break clean with Scorpio, hitting him instead. After some back scratching and biting from Sags, Scorpio hits Sags with a superkick and a standing moonsault for 2. Scorpio goes to an armbar, then tags in Bagwell for a double shoulderblock that gets 2. Bagwell takes Sags over with a belly to belly throw that gets 2, but Sags pokes him in the eye. Knobbs tags in there and misses a charge to the corner, so Bagwell arm drags him a few times. Scorpio gets back in there and clotheslines Knobbs, but Knobbs goes to the eyes. Scorpio blocks a backdrop, then hits him with a spinning kick and a facebuster. Scorpio runs the ropes, but Sags pulls the ropes down and that sends Scorpio to the outside where Sags bodyslams him. Knobbs snaps Scorpio’s neck on the ropes, then Sags tags in and throws Scorpio hard into the corner. Knobbs tags back in and drops an elbow for 2, then picks Scorpio up and slams him. Sags tags back in and Knobbs has a Boston crab on Scorpio, during which Sags elbow drops Scorpio for 2. Knobbs and Sags double team behind the referee’s back, then Sags puts Scorpio in an abdominal stretch. Knobbs tags in and drops another elbow for 2, then Sags gets back in and Scorpio drives him into the mat. Bagwell makes the hot tag, and that culminates in him ramming Knobbs into the buckle a lot. He slams Sags, then hits Knobbs with a flying back elbow. Sags prevents the cover and gets hit with a flying forearm by Scorpio, then Bagwell powerslams Knobbs. Sags goes to the second rope, drops a leg on Bagwell’s head, and Knobbs covers for the victory after 10:01.
My Thoughts: The first thing I noticed is that the Nasties looked tremendously out of shape. The match was good, although basic. I don’t have any complaints about it, but maybe the Nasties weren’t used to actually having to work. There weren’t many heels in the WWF who they’d have had to work hard against, and I don’t know what they were doing before they showed up in WCW. The crowd was hot, which always helps things. **1/2.
– Taped to air September 4th, 1993, on WCW Saturday Night, from Center Stage Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia
Best of 3 Series for the WCW United States Championship: Rick Rude vs. Dustin Rhodes
Pre-Match Thoughts: With Rude having won the first match, one more victory will award him the US title. I hope this is a better match than the last one, and it may well be if they don’t have to work nearly 25 minutes again. Here’s hoping. Rude didn’t change his attire from earlier in the taping. That’s gross.
Match Review: Both guys are quite cautious, and when they lock up, nothing comes of it. Dustin swivels his hips at Rude, so Rude hits him and rams him into the buckle a few times. Rude takes Dustin down with a headlock, but Dustin gets up and gives him a knee-breaker to stop it. Dustin hits him with some leg kicks, then goes to work on that leg by ramming it into the apron. Dustin trips Rude and drops some knees on that left leg, then goes for a figure-four that Rude stops with a cradle that gets 2. Dustin goes back to the leg with some elbow drops, so Rude has to kick him in the face. Rude drops Dustin with a DDT for 2, then a backbreaker follows. Rude follows that up with a front suplex, then gives Dustin a second one. Dustin goes back to the leg kicks, then when Rude goes for another suplex, he can’t pick Dustin up and is dropped with Dustin’s own front suplex. Rude blocks a splash with his knees, but Dustin gets up, backslides him and picks up the victory after 9:00!
My Thoughts: This was moderately better than the previous match between these two, and I’m glad it was becuase the prospect of watching three matches like the first one sounds terrible. They both worked harder and the match told a good story, which was nice. Rude sold his leg very well, so the match was able to naturally progress down that road. **1/4.
Harlem Heat and Sid Vicious (w/Col. Robert Parker) vs. Ric Flair (NWA Champion), the British Bulldog, and Sting
Pre-Match Thoughts: This isn’t a bad match at all, it sounds fun. On the previous week’s episode, Sid interfered during a match between Harlem Heat and Sting/Bulldog, attacking Sting to cause his new buddies to lose via DQ. Flair then chased him out of the ring with a 2×4. Because of that, we get this. I really don’t want to use the Kole and Kane names for Harlem Heat, but I will.
Match Review: Flair has his 2×4 again, and the babyfaces clear the ring immediately to start this off. Kane is Stevie Ray and Kole is Booker T. Kole and Sting will resume the action, and Sting takes him down with a flying hammerlock. Kole puts a headlock on Sting, and Sting back suplexes him. He misses an elbow drop, so Sid tags in and wallops Sting a few times. Sting comes back with a facebuster, then Kane tags in for the first time only for Sting to take him down with a cross body that gets 1. Bulldog tags in, then slams Sid and tags Flair in there. He comes off the top with an elbow, but Sid shoulderblocks Flair down a few times. Flair grabs the 2×4, but the referee gets distracted and Flair gets beaten up by all three guys. Kole tags in, clotheslines Flair, and Kane switches in for a backbreaker. After another one, Kole tags in and flies off the top with a clothesline. He throws Flair upside down into the corner, and Flair flies to the outside. Kane rams him into the rail, then Sid tags in for a double axehandle. Sid chinlocks Flair, who gets out and tries some chops only for Sid to ram him into the mat. Kane tags in, and it’s time to choke Flair. Kole gets back in there, at which point Sid throws Flair over the top. Sid beats him up for a little bit, then Kane suplexes Flair back in from the apron. Flair tries to fight out of the heel corner, but gets picked up and bodyslammed. Kane goes to the second rope, but misses an elbow drop. Bulldog makes the hot tag in, and beats up all three guys for shits and giggles. Rick Rude runs out there and starts beating up Flair, so Dustin Rhodes runs out there to deal with Rude! The bell rings at 10:31, and we’re out of time as everyone is brawling.
My Thoughts: This was a lot more entertaining than the last match even though it may not have exactly been better. There was intrigue for me in seeing how Harlem Heat worked, and obviously they were both really green. I didn’t see star potential in Booker T at all, but first impressions don’t always work that way. It’s funny that the match can be interesting when the heels didn’t do very much, but it was. I liked it. **1/2.
– Taped to air September 11th, 1993, on WCW Saturday Night, from Center Stage Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia
Best of 3 Series for the WCW United States Championship: Rick Rude vs. Dustin Rhodes
Pre-Match Thoughts: This is the final match of the series and it will decide the champion. Well, maybe it will. I remember them having other matches that were supposed to do so and didn’t. Given this was on a completely different taping, the fuel tanks were recharged and both guys were able to work hard. Rude did his whole pre-match routine! Dustin did the whole baby-kissing babyface thing. Somewhat surprising.
Match Review: Ric Flair is on commentary, and this match begins the same way as the last one. Lots of caution. Rude hits Dustin with some stuff, then puts a bear hug on him. Dustin gets out and backdrops him, then he jumps on his back a few times before a chinlock. That’s a LONG chinlock. Dustin tries to jump on Rude’s back again, and this time it’s Rude who gets his knees up. Reversal of roles there. Rude gives Dustin an inverted atomic drop, which sends Dustin out to the floor. Rude clotheslines him with the top rope, then picks him up and slams him as we go to a commercial.
Back from that commercial, they show a video of Rude dropping Dustin with a DDT for 2. Okay. Rude has a chinlock on Dustin now, until Dustin back suplexes him. Dustin misses a splash, so Rude heads up top and hits him with a right to the back of the head. Rude goes back to the chinlock, but Dustin fights out with some right hands. Dustin eats a knee on a charge to the corner, so Rude goes up top again for another right hand. They trade shots for a little bit, and Dustin’s backslide gets a 2 count. Dustin cradles Rude up for 2, then goes for a bulldog but Rude throws him into the referee. With him down, Rude grabs a chair to hit Dustin with, but RIC FLAIR grabs that chair away. Dustin rolls Rude up at 13:50, and we do have a new champion!
My Thoughts: The crowd was HOT for that finish, which wasn’t surprising given how hot the studio crowds been for Dustin ever since he showed up in WCW. The work here wasn’t great and that’s probably being generous. Rude hardly took any bumps. In the end, glad the whole thing is over, but shockingly Rude got elevated to the next level so he was going to be in more prominent matches even though his work wasn’t as good. *3/4.
I’m going to avoid the next week’s TV main event, which is probably messed up but I think it’s a little redundant as well. I also don’t want to see Rude and Sid tag up with each other. Anyway, the Shockmaster shows up and came out of the crowd to attack Harlem Heat when they interfered. I think WCW could have done a better job with the guys that weren’t on the top of the card. They didn’t put those guys in good spots with any of the other talent they had. That’s largely why this article revolved around such a small number of workers. Not much variety here. Next up, it’s Fall Brawl 1993. There’s a WarGames match, but I don’t know what to make of it.
Best: There was nothing super spectacular here, but giving Dustin Rhodes the US Championship was smart.
Worst: Lack of variety.