My Favorite Wrestling! WCW Pro 8/17/96
1. Chip Minton vs. Diamond Dallas Page
This wasn't much and I'm kinda shocked that WCW never tried to push Minton at all. I mean, how often does an actual US Olympian get into pro wrestling? He was pretty raw but had some obvious talent. Instead we get a bunch of Larry Z griping about how bobsledding won't make him a better wrestler and acting as if Minton was leading a bobsledding invasion against WCW wrestling.
2. Jim Powers vs. The Gambler
Alright, I'll be honest with you: Jim Powers is not very good at pro wrestling. But what's even worse is that he's not very good in a completely boring way. He does hip tosses. He rams guys' heads into the turnbuckles. He throws a super light dropkick. He has just nothing going for him at all. You can't laugh at him for being horrible, your brain just goes blank for 4 minutes. So thank god for The Gambler, who tries his damndest to have a fun match with Jim Powers. He doesn't succeed, but he tried. This was at least notable for being one of the few matches where The Gambler controlled the match and took most of the offense. Powers was working comebacks most of the way through so Gambler got to control with Arn Anderson-meets-Chris Elliott charm. I wish actual good wrestlers would try and work a competitive match with him.
3. High Voltage vs. American Males
Hey, you know who used to be good? Marcus Bagwell. I really liked him in this, working the hot tag for Riggs. He had a really nice dropkick, cool shoulderblock and a great crossbody off the top for the win, and this was an enjoyable 7 minute tag. You know who wasn't good back then? Kaos (or "Chaos" as it was spelled here). He was just totally lost and it was a testament to how decent Bagwell was that this thing didn't fall completely apart. Kaos was totally baffled by rope running spots and got way confused during all those exchanges.
***Baseball Rambling Below***
So all through this show they've been showing an ad for an old Sega Genesis baseball game (World Series Baseball 2?) and what so odd about the commercial is Brad Radke is the guy they used as the sports star hawking the game. Now Brad Radke was one of my favorite non-Giant ballplayers of all time. He was a small market guy who played his whole career on the Twins and retired when he wanted to, while he was still a relevant player. What made me really like him was his numbers always looked worse than they actually were, and he regularly got overlooked as a really good player because of that (Matt Cain would later hold many of these traits Radke held, and Cain is one of my all-time favorites. What made me love him so early on was it felt like the Giants finally had their own Radke). I mean, in the last couple seasons before he retired, Radke had a 5+ K/BB ratio. That's great. But this was not later career Radke being featured in a commercial. 1996 was only his 2nd year, and what was notable about his first couple seasons was that he gave up more HR than any other pitcher in MLB over those 2 years, giving up 32 in '95 as a rookie and 40 in '96. His rookie year ERA was 5.32 (5.42 FIP, oooof). And this commercial was amazing because Radke was in it for just that reason: he gave up home runs. The commercial showed him giving up bombs and painted him as a bad luck loser. For a 23 year old player to make fun of himself like that just made me love Radke that much more, and even more awesome that he averaged 5 WAR over the next 5 seasons after this commercial. So not only did Radke make fun of himself, but he had the last laugh. Awesome.
***Baseball Rambling Over***
4. Scott Flash vs. Mark Starr
This could have been a really good jobber match, but Norton just absolutely refused to sell anything that Mark Starr throws. It was real bad. He just walked through punches and kicks and made it pretty clear that Starr was a doofus. It did show just how decent Starr's punches were, when they can look good even when somebody doesn't acknowledge them. Norton was a beast here, so I get it. But I felt bad for Starr. Norton's shoulderbreaker is a vicious, reckless move that looks insanely painful.
5. Chris Benoit vs. Joe Gomez
Jim Powers, why can't you be as hilariously awful as Joe Gomez? Gomez was just awful. Hilariously awful. Even Rachel noticed how often he tossed his hair back while horribly executing basic offense (did BJ Whitmer watch a lot of Gomez when he was younger?). Here he does an insanely slow backslide set-up, stopping midway to whip his hair back TWICE. By far the best part of the match was Gomez missing a running crossbody block off the ropes. What made it so great was the fact that Gomez clearly did not know he was missing the crossbody. This is what a missed crossbody looks like when Joe Gomez clearly thinks he's going to be crashing into Chris Benoit. But Benoit ducked, and Gomez flew hilariously/dangerously/awesomely into the ropes, and then rolled to the floor. It was spectacular. Later in the match Gomez goes up to the top and it looks like he's climbing ropes for the first time right here and now in front of the world. Every step up looks super shaky and he has to stop on each rope to regain his balance. Yes, he did not even climb up on the buckles, he climbed up on the ropes right next to the buckles. When he finally disastrously gets to the top, he leaps off with the worst top rope splash I've seen, coming in way forward heavy, like he was attempting to do the Worm by first leaping off the top. He just flops there hilariously, and then lies there on his face, a total failure pile. Even better, Benoit just kinda lets him lie there for awhile, face down, until casually walking over and putting on the crossface. Thank you, Joe Gomez.