My Favorite Wrestling! WCW Pro 9/7/96
This show is being billed as a huge deal because it's the long-anticipated debut of GLACIER!! I cannot believe that people had to sit through months and months of hype vids for Glacier, and WCW debuts him on what has to be their weakest show. Were they just petrified of him botching a match on live television? Why couldn't they have at least debuted him on a Saturday Night ep? Or debut him on the next week's Pro, which was at least right before the Fall Brawl ppv. Anybody have any clue why they hyped his debut for so damn long and then just threw it out on the Pro?
1. Scott Armstrong vs. Alex Wright
Battle of a couple 2nd generation workers! But sadly this doesn't get the chance to stretch out as they seem to be held to a pretty strict 3 minute rule. Nothing at all inoffensive about this match, but this felt like a pretty standard house show run of start with some mat stuff, go into some exchanges, one guy gets advantage, other guy transitions to advantage, first guy gets win without ever really transitioning back. Here Armstrong got the knees up on Wright's little slingshot corner splash, but Wright basically just went to his German suplex moments later to end it.
2. Craig Pittman vs. Terry Davis
Terry Davis used to pop up as a jobber all the time on WWF TV when I was a kid. The guy looks like a baby faced Luke Gallows, with no facial hair and horseshoe haircut and the most unflattering singlet/tights combo you've ever seen. This was one of those awesome Pittman matches where he was basically working with a mannequin. Davis got no offense, never attempted offense, he was just like a life-sized wrestling buddy who you could try moves on. And that's what Pittman does. You get the sense from watching some of these Pittman matches that he makes up most of these moves on the fly, and it gives the moves a sense of originality. At one point he takes Davis up into a torture rack and drops him into an atomic drop. Most of the time I got the sense that Davis was dead weight (or again, not sure at all what move Pittman was doing) so Pittman would just dead lift him and then slam him. At one point Pittman locked on a rad liontamer where he crossed Davis' legs. And I love Pittman's battering ram headbutt finisher. I'm genuinely starting to look forward to Pittman matches. This guy was the great lost worked shoot fighter of the 90s.
3. Big Ron Studd vs. Chris Benoit
Boy the only way you can describe this is "mismatch". Ron Reis is gigantic, and also not good at pro wrestling. Match still has a couple decent Oh Shit moments, like Benoit hitting a massive German on Reis, and then Benoit finishing with an enormous superplex (which is pretty stupid since Reis went to the top rope to get into position for it, and there's zero chance the guy was going to be doing ANY sort of offense off the top, but whatevs) that Reis baaaarely gets over for and practically spikes himself. Jeez. Benoit gets the pin and then stomps Reis' head after the pinfall which Reis clearly was not expecting.
4. Brad Armstrong vs. Dean Malenko
Cool short match ruined by the stupid, rushed finish. Both guys work super quick armdrag exchanges and the fans are jacked, Larry talks the whole match about the "Armstrong curse", and Brad gets to take like 80% of this. I'm into it, fans are into it, things are looking good. Then Brad hits the Russian leg sweep and instead of going for the pin instantly goes up top. So Malenko gets up from Brad's finisher after being on the mat only 2 seconds, as he has to be up in time to catch Armstrong. Armstrong hits a full impact crossbody off the top, Dean even did that bump where he jumps into the crossbody to take a huge back bump from it with Armstrong splatting right on top of him........and then Dean just rolls him over and pins him. What. The. Fuck. So Dean takes Armstrong's finisher, takes a massive crossbody off the top...and then just wins. I get that he was supposed to roll through the crossbody and use Armstrong's momentum against him, but then you'd think he'd take more of a rolling bump instead of a SPLAT back bump. Just garbage.
5. Glacier vs. The Gambler
So it has to be said that Gambler looks AMAZING here. Usually he comes out in just a satin little league coaches' jacket with "The Gambler" stitched into the back over a deck of playing cards. You know the jacket, because you wanted that jacket. But HERE he comes out decked to the nines as a riverboat gambler and it is INCREDIBLE. I have never seen him decked like this and here he full-on out-Robert Parkers Robert Parker! He's got a white button up ruffled shirt (tucked into his trunks), suspenders, pocket watch, black coat with tails, and dressed bowler hat. Amazing. The guy is doing card tricks on the way to the ring, has a cocky swagger and looks like an actual big deal. I love the Gambler. And I cannot imagine anybody else running into Glacier offense better than Gambler did here. All of the spots came off without a hitch and a lot of the set-up was fairly complicated. It would have been VERY easy for somebody to get lost along the way (though there was no doubt tons of rehearsal put into this), but Gambler made it. He sold all of Glacier's ridiculous 5 fingers of death strikes appropriately, ran into kicks like he was supposed to, and looked downright pro. Bowler hats off to The Gambler. I wish that guy had a job in wrestling today. Any clue what he is up to at all? For a guy who was a part of a major promotion for 5 years, I haven't heard anything about him in ages. Guys less famous than him have done shoot interviews.