Segunda Caida

Phil Schneider, Eric Ritz, Matt D and occasional guests write about pro wrestling. Follow us @segundacaida

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

My Favorite Wrestling: WCW Worldwide 6/23/96

J.L. vs. Brad Armstrong

ER: So like...nobody really knew who Jerry Lynn was...and he's under a why were they married to acknowledging what his shoot initials are? He's under a mask, fucking call him anything. Bobby Heenan, on JL: "I...I don't really know anything about this guy." Brad Armstrong's mullet is the embodiment of "business in the front, party in the back". The front looks so damn professional, a nice high and tight, and a one millimieter turn to either side makes him immediately look like a total degenerate. Like, straight on he's a nice guy your sister met at church, then he turns and he's that nice guy's speed dealing ex-friend from high school. And this is pretty great as Brad doesn't actually work heel, but he gives JL most of the offense, takes some nice rolling Tim Horner armdrags and eats a tough missile dropkick (man I can never spell "missile" right on the first go through. My fingers just move in all the wrong directions), Lynn really shotgunned him to the chest. But they do that spot I hate where JL hits a flush crossbody off the top, Armstrong splats on the mat fully 100% taking the crossbody, hits the mat hard...and then rolls it through for a 2 count. That takes me so far out of the match. The Russian legsweep does look nice, but they took a dumb route to get there.

Arn Anderson/Taskmaster vs. Leroy Howard/Bill Payne

ER: Ohhhhhhh shit Leroy Howard is Rastaman from BattlArts!! IS THIS THE ONLY TIME ARN ANDERSON HAS FOUGHT A BATTLARTS GUY!?!? He somehow only has ONE listed match opposite Valentine? None against Backlund...There's got to be a really obvious one that I'm forgetting or a completely bonkers one that nobody would know ("oh yeah I think he wrestled Urban Ken on a charity show"). This is history! I had also forgotten all about an Arn/Sullivan tag team. And this match was kind of weird. Howard is only in this match for the first 20 seconds, and the rest is basically Arn and Sullivan stomping Bill Payne. Sullivan gets all rowdy when he tags in, and goes for a fucking headscissors! Like a Ricky Morton/Marty Jannetty style headscissors where you pose for a bit with your legs around your opponent's head while your body is jutting diagonally away from his torso. There's a major problem, which is that Kevin Sullivan has zero hops, so when he comes running in, his legs make it somewhere around Payne's waist. And BLESS BILL PAYNE because he grabs onto Sullivan's leg and is holding Sullivan upside down, and still manages to take a bump as if he had been headscissored. Sullivan kicks him in the eye as a thank you. Later Arn would hold him in a Boston Crab and drag him to the ropes so Sullivan can kick him in the head a bunch. I liked Arn in this, which shouldn't be a shock. He dropped a nice knee and obviously hit a great spinebuster. I do wish we could have seen more of Leroy Howard though.

ER: There's a Mean Gene promo segment promoting the upcoming (June 30th) WCW house show at the MSG theater. This feels like a big deal, and BRUNO is on the card as a guest ref. I'm sure there's a 6 hour Between the Sheets pod that covers this house show in detail. WCW touring into New York City feels like a big deal (even if running at "The Theatre at the Garden" feels like a pretty good self-own, like laughing about doing a merely passable job at ironing your exes' clothes), and a quick check shows that this upcoming house show will only be the 2nd time WCW ran NYC in the 90s. AND they only ran NYC *FOUR TIMES EVER*! And the two shows in 1998 were free PR events, one of them a free show with a few matches in Bryant Park and the other an event in conjunction with MTV called MTV Ultimate Video Bash, which was a flat out absurd event. It was an outdoor event in the pouring rain, maybe a hundred fans in attendance, with the original idea that wrestlers would represent bands whose videos would play throughout the show (Barry Darsow represented Run DMC!) in a tournament. But it was pouring so hard that the only match that happened was Public Enemy, representing LL Cool J, ARE ALREADY NAMED AFTER A LEGENDARY HIP HOP ACT. Anyway, PE fought High Voltage (representing Will Smith, which feels like a MAJOR missed opportunity to not be representing Public Enemy) in the rain, while we got the (probably?) never again commentary team of Shiavone, Zbyszko, and Matt Pinfield. The match is a couple minutes long, but High Voltage are great in it. This two minute match would have given them a standing on a DVDVR500. The ring is soaked and slippery as hell, and there are no mats around the ring, and they both go full speed on a spot where they get Irish whipped into each other, Rage bumps big to the floor, then takes an awesome tumbling bump into the barricades (remember, no mats) AND gets a Drive-By through a table. High Voltage owned this event.

Anyway, yeah, WCW only ran 4 times in NYC, in their entire history, and only two were "real" shows. This upcoming show on 6/30 was the realest, as the other was from 1993. This show was when they were much bigger as a company. The show looked good on paper, but it feels like a weenie move to only run the Theatre. Run MSG, even if you "only" get 4,000 people in there. Was there a deal in place where only WWF could run there? This whole show feels like a major moment in the promotion's history, and it's treated in this promo like just another house show. You'd think they would be advertising Bruno's name more. They bring it up and Mean Gene sounds like he thinks it's a big deal, but it only gets a quick mention. Before this I had zero idea that Bruno had ever done business with WCW in the mid 90s. I can't believe they didn't even have an onscreen graphic.

Chris Benoit vs. Eddie Guerrero

ER: I know it's easy to make these kind of statements after the fact, but my god can Benoit look like a dead-eyed soulless psychopath. Here he came out with Arn and Arn promo'd to the camera while Benoit just vacantly stared. Yeesh. I have a real hard time focusing during this one, but Eddie was a machine here. Benoit came off really sadistic - my perception or real, not sure - with some casually tossed off violent dead eyed offense; suplexing Eddie onto the top rope gut first a couple times, mean chops, hard knees to the stomach, all with this joyless killer face. Eddie bumps huge for all of it, but his comeback is a little bit too convenient. He just kind of snaps and then comes back with a snap suplex and hits a knees to the ribs frog splash. Kind of unsatisfying but it was hot as hell with the crowd. I don't like crapping on something the crowd is clearly hot for, and Eddie had great fire, just thought Benoit went from ice cold killer to overwhelmed a bit too quick. Arn Anderson had a great ringside cheat by pulling the top rope down to send Eddie flying to the floor. This was hot but I guess I just wasn't in the mood for it, but nobody could have any arguments with the move execution here.

Diamond Dallas Page vs. Kensuke Sasaki

ER: A kid mugging for the camera by the entrance gets surprised when suddenly large thick Asian man with a mullet and leather jacket walks by an inch from his small head. DDP’s gear seemed so dated in 1996, I still think it is completely unfathomable that he became as big a star as he did. Two years after this he was huge, and here he’s coming out in lime green tights with a shiny pink vest, smoking a cigar and wiggling his fingers at the camera. Who was this look based on? What type of person was he mimicking for his character? I love how well it ended up working out for him. And this match rules. It has an unexpectedly hot start that it can’t really maintain, but DDP knew exactly what he was doing and how to work through with a Japanese guy who Florida tourist fans would automatically boo just for being Japanese. DDP made Sasaki the clear face despite Sasaki not being great at playing to fans, at all. DDP takes a nice amount of time to get Sasaki to agree to a handshake, then as their hands have barely touched DDP is already booting him in the stomach and throwing hard elbows, Sasaki hits a sharp back elbow right under the chin, DDP eats a fast lariat that sends him to the floor, and he writhes on the floor on his back, comically. It’s a great start to the match. DDP’s basics are nice, throws a good kick to the stomach, nice stomp to he gut, a couple nice short elbow drops high on the chest, and his long gangly limbs almost whip around when he takes offense. Sasaki was a short little bull, hits a nice big rotation powerslam, and takes the Diamondcutter really well. His sell was one of the best I’ve seen, landing normally, but slowly lifting his face off the mat like he was a cat running into a sliding glass door. He naturally rolled over for the pin, really expertly getting into position after the cutter. Very nice.

The Mauler vs. Sting

ER: The Mauler is Mike Enos, not called Mike Enos on the onscreen entrance graphic, but instead called The Mauler. His hair is breezy, chin length and flops when he walks. He has a small mustache, and looks to be the inspiration for Buck, who likes to Fuck. And this match is an absolutely perfect 3 minutes of wrestling. Flawless. It crams everything you want to see into 3 succinct minutes. These two (three, with Col. Robert Parker out with Mauler) could have worked much longer than that, but a perfect 3 is sublime. Sting gets to shine early and Enos bumps big all around for him, ending with him being tossed hip tossed and stumbling and bouncing through the ropes to the hard stage, then having Parker hold him back for running recklessly back into the ring. He eventually does, and he ends up taking an even bigger, more spectacular bump over the top to the floor, onto that hard freaking stage, and the fans are flipping out for Sting. Sting even grabs Parker’s cowboy hat and sees which side of the crowd is loudest so he could throw it to them. Every time Sting pretended to throw the hat, ref Randy Anderson would jump in front of him like he was Secret Service jumping to stop a bullet from hitting the president. Sting then threatens to stomp the hat and Parker is flipping out, but Mauler has snuck quietly around the ring and sneaks in and lariats Sting in the back of the head, a hard backbreaker, then hits a HUGE powerslam that gave him a nice strut as he walked by Kensuke Sasaki later that taping. THAT’S how we do powerslams in Florida, motherfucker. We end quick but it's a quality ending, as Parker gets up on the apron to cheat by Mauler gets reversed into him, then Sting kicks Mauler’s leg out and locks on the Scorpion Deathlock. This was aces, 3 minutes of the best stuff.

Faces of Fear vs. Sgt. Craig Pittman/Jim Duggan

ER: Weird, disappointing match. It’s almost entirely Duggan and Pittman, and Duggan is working pretty light, Meng acts afraid of Pittman, Barbarian fights with Teddy Long over Duggan’s 2x4 for way too long, just an unsatisfying match. There is early intrigue in the Meng/Pittman sections, Pittman goes for a couple cool amateur takedowns, and the best part of the match was the two of them getting tangled in the ropes, but neither wanting to break. So Meng had gone to the ropes to break a hold but then had a standing grapevine on Pittman’s leg and neither man was budging. It could have gone somewhere interesting, but it didn’t. Faces of Fear kind of looked like doofs here which just isn’t totally what I wanted to see. I bet there’s a cool match between these two teams. Duggan isn’t always a lame, and the potential for some amateur tough guy shenanigans seems high.

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