WCW ALL NIGHTER
Back on the attack, plowing my way though all five+ hours of this. Thank God it's all good stuff. Except for those damn Road Warriors.
Picking up exactly where I left off last time....
Match #6: "Flyin'" Brian Pillman vs. "Stunning" Steve Austin, Baton Rouge LA. 11/10/93
Battle of the Hollywood Blonds here, the quasi-blowoff for their breakup. Pillman is already in the ring as Austin enters to his deeply, deeply cool theme music. Pillman jumps Austin to start, and he chases Col. Parker before Austin catches him with a lariat. They brawl around outside, and back in Pillman hits a back body drop and a series of chops to take over. Pilman gets a headscissors off a reversed whip, and Austin begs off. I take it back, the current SCSA really IS the old "Stunning" Steve. Pillman spits on him, then actually blows a kick to the head. How do you DO that? Austin bails and they brawl on the ramp way, with Pillman reversing a piledriver to a backdrop. He tries a splash from the top to the ramp, but Austin catches him with boots up, and then throws him off to the floor below, bouncing off the guardrail. Austin follows him with a leaping forearm and a chop, a works him over a bit outside. Pillman comes back in with a slingshot bodypress for 2, but Austin hits a press slam stun gun as we go to commercial.
Austin is getting a 2 count on Pillman as we return. He tries to pull Pillman off the ropes, but gets raked in the eyes for his trouble. Pillman levels him with a chop, but Austin stays on top with a rope choke, and then a rope assisted half crab (which Austin denies using, natch). Pillman fights back and wins a striking contest with a springboard back elbow off a cross corner whip. Austin goes up top, but Pillman crotches him by joggling the ropes. Austin blocks the superplex, but gets dropkicked coming off the top, and Pillman gets 2 _ off it. Pillman puts his head down on a whip and gets caught, but reverses a piledriver attempt with a rana (called by Tony as "form of a victory roll") for 2.pillman gets backdropped in the corner off a charge, but lands on the apron on his feet and comes back in with the same flying bodypress, but this time Austin is expecting it and hits a powerslam for 2 _. Austin misses the rope running leaping choke on Pillman, whose head and neck are draped over the ropes, and Pillman hits a DDT for 2 _. Pillman crucifix is reversed to a backdrop, but Austin (yes, Austin) misses a flying double knee drop (!) and Pillman gets a _ nelson for 2 _. Whip in the ropes reversed, but Austin's try for the stungun (what JR calls the hotshot as a tribute to Eddie Gilbert) is botched and Pillman lands on the apron. Pillman tries a third slingshot whatever into the ring, but Col. Parker hooks his feet and Austin gets the three. ***. Not much to say here. The plotline of "we hate each other, and thus must punch a lot" overwhelmed the wrestling, the psychology was minimal, and the flow was bad. And how to you botch a KICK? On the bright side, it was generally fun to watch with an athletic and advanced moveset, especially for 1993, and some good brawling. Somewhat above average, but disappointing for who was involved.
Match #7: Cactus Jack vs. Van Hammer, Topeka KS. 1/21/92
We are JIP as Van Hammer gets a 2 out on the ramp way off a small package. I'm assuming this is falls count anywhere, or Texas Death or something. Jack gets hip tossed off the apron in a trademark atrocious bump, and Hammer follows up with a diving lariat off the ramp for 2. They brawl backstage into a parking lot and whack each other with random objects. Missy Hyatt screams a lot. Jack attacks Hammer with a cow skull, which is in the same league as the M2K razor scooter for strangeness among plunder. Choking with some rope on Jack, and they brawl into a cow pen where ABDULLAH ATTACKS~! A fitting location. Abdullah whacks Hammer with a shovel for a Jack 3 count. *. An abbreviated RAW caliber hardcore match, from what was shown. It was, what it was.
Match #8: Samoan Swat Team vs. Road Warriors, Columbia SC. 9/12/89
THIS is what they choose from '89 now? Ok, if they say so. Paul E. is thin and has hair, the Roadies are over and still so roided they can barely move, and Rikishi is thin and non-funky. It seems like a lifetime ago, and in wrestling, it is. Hard to believe four major US promotions have died since this match was first telecast- the AWA, SMW, ECW, WCW. Animal starts the match with Fatu, and quickly dominates with power moves and lariats. Samu and Hawk go at it, and Samu bails, where Animal jumps him and throws him back in. Hawk hits a slam and a fistdrop for 2. Dropkick, and here's Animal. He dominates Fatu with power, and Hawk comes in to do the same. He gets 2 off a lariat, but dings his shoulder on the post.
Hawk is getting pounded as he return, including being crotched on the railing at ringside. He's actually selling not half bad, for him at any rate. False tag out of a bearhug to Animal. Samoans hit Demolition Decapitation, and you can just see Hawk selling less and less. It's not so much selling, as playing dead, really. Fatu flying splash catches boot, and Hawk makes the tag to Animal, who dominates with shoulderblocks and lariats. The Samoans get an advantage with a double team during a brawl, but Hawk blocks the attempted cell phone shot and kills both Samoans dead with lariats 'n such. Doomsday device finishes. Bleeech. Not offensively bad or anything, but not what you'd call good, or entertaining if you didn't happen to be interested in the storyline. *.
Match #9: Great Muta and Terry Funk vs. Sting and Ric Flair 10/28/89 (My birthday! Whoo!) Halloween Havoc '89
This is the Thunderdome cage match with Bruno Sammartino as ref, which took place between Great American Bash '89 and the Flair/Funk I Quit match at COTC: New York Knock Out, which ended that feud. Sting and Muta had been going back and forth over the TV title at this point, with Muta as champion at the time of this match; Flair and Funk, of course, were locked into a blood feud over the events at Wrestlewar '89, and Flair had just won his return match versus Funk via pinfall at GAB '89. The rules for this match were that it could only end by submission, when one team's attendant at ringside threw in the towel; for Muta and Funk, that's Gary Hart; for Flair and Sting, Ole Anderson. If, at this point, you're thinking "this screams setup for an overbooked screwjob finish" you just might be right. The cage is supposedly electrified at the top, for what that's worth, and is constructed similar to the Hell In A Cell cage in that it encompasses some of the ringside area. Something catches fire at the top of the cage to start, and Muta sprays mist at it to put it out. Yes, that does seem a bit odd to me too, but that's Muta for you. Flair and Funk start, and Funk gets a shoulderblock, but Flair chops him to death, then antagonizes the Muta on the apron. Flair stops Funk's offense with chops and slams, then dumps him over the top to the floor. Flair guillotines him on the ropes as he gets back in, pulls him to his feet, and goes to tag Sting as we hit....
Sting in, and he chucks Funk to the outside, then sticks his head between the metal squares making up the cage. He does the back rake, as Funk throws his drunken punches in his usual demented form of selling. Back inside, and Flair's in, as he and Sting connect on double back elbows. Flair with two cross corner whips, a big chop, and the trademark kneedrop. He once again jumps Muta on the apron, slapping him. All four men jump into the ring, and Sting holds Muta for Flair's chops. Flair works Funk over with punches, and brings Sting in for the big dropkick. Funk finally gets the chance to bring in Muta, as Ross takes amusing shots at the Ultimate Warrior on commentary, referencing the Blade Runners. The NWA's thing about mocking the WWF on commentary in this period may have been amateurish, but it was amusing. Sting mauls the Muta with punches, and press slams him right into Terry Funk. He hits a vertical suplex, then tags in Flair, who attacks the Muta with punches to the top of the head. Flair hits the inverted atomic drop, then chops in the corner, then the kneedrop. Sting comes back in and dumps the Muta, banging his head into the cage. Funk breaks it up, and back in the ring Muta and Funk beat on Sting. Very much a pure brawl at this point, fitting for the stipulations. Muta hits the driving swinging elbow drop, then a leg drop. It's so odd to see Muta clean-shaven and long haired, since these days he's bald and goateed. He looks completely different. Muta dumps Sting, but Flair comes in to just choke the Muta out, two hands around the throat. Muta rakes the eyes to break, as Funk chokes Sting on the outside. Muta takes Flair outside, and now Flair and Funk begin brawling, as back in the ring Muta hits a suplex on Sting. Funk with the kneedrop, Muta with the elbow drop, and now a series of elbow drops all on Sting before Flair breaks it up, bouncing the Muta from the ring. Flair works over Funk with punches and a suplex, as Sting ducks a Muta spinkick coming off the ropes, and hits a kick to the gut and a running facebuster. Funk gets the same. Sting guillotines Muta, Flair hits the atomic drop, and Sting hits the lariat. Sting goes for the scorpion, but Funk breaks it up and attacks Sting. This is the definition of "wild brawl" for 1989, as guys just throw each other out of the ring, hit three or four punches, then roll back in and do it again, with occasional wrestling holds interspersed into the whole. Flair and Funk brawl while climbing the cage with Flair winning, while Sting hits the suplex on Muta back inside the ring. Muta climbs the cage and Sting follows. They brawl there, and Muta gets "shocked" by the cage. Flair is meanwhile kicking Funk in the head. A lot. This match borders on the un-recapable, as the wrestlers are paired on opposite sides of the cage, and the camera switches between them every 2 seconds. Muta and Sting finally end up back in the ring. Funk climbs all the way to the top of the cage, and gets stuck hanging from it as Flair chops him. Think the scene from "Rocky" of Rocky punching frozen beef sides in a warehouse. Sting gets the press slam back in the ring....
...and drops the Muta hard. Flair and Sting end up back in the ring, as Funk is still hanging from the cage, and Muta now crawls under the ring. Was there ever an odder team than Muta and Funk? Sting climbs up after Funk, as Muta and Flair chop the piss out of each other down on the floor. Flair with the backdrop back in the ring, and he gets the figure-four on Muta, but releases it inexplicably to dump Muta outside. Boo! Muta nails Flair from behind as he watches Sting chase Funk with a stiff-ish kick, and gets the Indian deathlock, with bridge, as Funk works Sting's leg over five feet in the air on the cage. Ole Anderson climbs the cage to untie Sting, who Funk tied to the cage, as Flair gets the stuff piledriver from Funk and Muta, playing off his feud-starting neck injury at the hands of Funk. Muta and Funk kill Flair in the ring, until Sting leaps off the side of the cage into the ring with a flying body press on Funk. Awesome. The crowd goes ape shit for that. Muta climbs the cage as Sting chases, while Flair assaults Funk back in the ring, and goes for the knee with shinbreakers and kicks, and a kneedrop. Muta hits a backbreaker back in the ring, gives the throat cut gesture, and tries for the moonsault, but gets caught and crotched, falling to the outside. Flair gets Funk in the figure-four, and Sting hits a flying bodypress from the top onto Funk, TWICE. Sting is really being the man here, I have to say. Muta back in and he gets in Bruno's face, so Bruno pops him one. Ole then nails Gary Hart, who loses his towel, hitting Bruno with it and ending the match, giving the duke to the team of Flair and Sting. Well. A great brawl for 1989, and a great performance by Sting, reminding me why I used to love the guy. A few annoying spots and a lot of "I hit you, you hit me, roll to the floor and repeat" brawling, and a stupid non-finish with an accidental towel throw; still, a lot of fun and really wild, suitable for the stories involved. Good stuff. ****.
Match #10: Midnight Express vs. Ric Flair and Barry Windam Chattanooga TN. 12/6/88
See what I mean? HE'S EVERYWHERE. Windham is US champ at this point, while Flair is, natch, World Champ. This is one of those theoretical dream match ups, as Flair and Windham, the top 2 singles wrestlers in the NWA at the time (by holding their respective belts) are matched against the top tag team; things like this are what made the old NWA so kick-ass, as they'd put stuff like this contest together just because it would be a great match. Flair and Eaton start, and Flair breaks out the famous strut. Flair WHOOs on a break in the corner, and Bobby slaps him in the jaw, then scraps with Windham on the apron, then does his own strut. Tremendous. Lockup and Flair gets the chops in the corner, but Eaton comes out firing with his own punches, and a cross corner whip gives him a back body drop. Flair flips out of another cross corner whip, but gets nailed on the apron by Lane. That's what he gets for trying a trademark singles maneuver in a tag environment where it doesn't work because of the extra opponent. Psychology. Lane in with a kick on Flair, and he does a little swivel taunt.
Flair is abusing Eaton with slaps as we return, and he works away with chops and punches in the corner. Eaton rolls outside, but Windham stun guns him on the railing before Lane runs him off. Flair gets a double axe handle from the apron and a chop in on the outside, before rolling back into the ring. Flair brings Eaton in, tags Windham, and hits a chop and a whip on Eaton, and as Eaton rebounds from the ropes Windham takes his head off with a lariat, for 1. Gutwrench suplex, and a kneedrop, and a sleeper from Windham. Eaton armdrags out, and Flair comes back in with a kick and chops. His lariat off the ropes is blocked with a right hand however, and Eaton fights back on Flair with punches, triggering the Flair flop. Flair makes the tag, but so does Eaton, who takes out Flair and Windham with kicks and backdrops. He executes the dreaded double noggin knocker, and brings Eaton back in for the goozle, a high/low striking combo of a lariat and a chopblock. Flair tries to get back in, but Lane superkicks him back out, and Eaton goes up top. The Alabama Jam connects, and Cornette and JJ Dillon fight on the outside, as Flair sneaks in behind everyone and waffles Eaton with a shoe, rolling Barry on top for the 3 count. Perfectly good little formula tag match, well executed, though it could have been better given the participants. ***.
Match #11: Ric Flair vs. Terry Funk, New York, NY. 11/15/89
This is the famous I Quit match, and we are inexplicably JIP after the entrances, but before the match really gets underway. Flair looks daggers at Funk after a struggle in the corner, and the hate is palpable. Lock up, and Flair nails a chop so hard that it sends Funk over the top to the outside. Funk throws a fit and nearly assaults a fan, then cautiously makes his way back into the ring. Flair muscles Funk into the corner, and absolutely chops the shit out of him, like he's trying to knock his skin off. Two cross corner whips and another huge chop, and Funk bails to the outside again, where Flair follows hi, chopping away. He rolls Funk back in, but he bails again out of the other side of the ring. He makes his way back in and the combatants face off, glaring at each other, with fists balled up and ready for action. Funk throws a few jabs, and they lock up again. Side headlock for Funk, shoulderblock off the ropes, and Flair grabs Funk by the ankle and brings him down in a sort of statement: "this will not be a wrestling match, with the usual wrestling moves (like the expected duck under here, for another rope running sequence). This will be a fight, and the rules are different". Flair chokes Funk with two hands around the throat, anger and hate just emanating from everything he does here. It's great storytelling. Funk rakes the eyes to break, and he stomps Flair in the neck out on the apron where Flair rolled to. Funk punches Flair, chops him, and nails a headbutt, all on the apron. Back inside Flair gets the big chop, but Funk puts him down with punches, and throws him to the outside. Funk follows, and bangs his head off the railing, and punches him again and again. Funk gets the mic, says "do you quit?" and bangs Flair in the head with it. H fights through a chop and nails Flair with the mic again, then rolls back inside. Funk with the punches in the corner, and he taunts Flair: "do you, do you, do you wanna quit, Flair? SAY IT! YOU EGG-SUCKING DOG! I SAID SAY IT!" He pounds Flair in the corner with fists and the mic. Flair escapes with the inverted atomic drop, hits a chop, but puts his head down on a whip and gets caught with a swinging neckbeaker. This harkens back most recently to the start of the feud, to Funk piledriving Flair on a table at Wrestlewar '89 and injuring his neck, putting him out for months; but further back than that it brings up memories of Flair's 1975 plane crash, where his back was broken. This is really the definition of deep psychology, as they play off not just the events of their feud but off of real life events 14 years in the past. Funk slaps Flair in the face, but Flair fights to his feet and grabs Funk by the throat, the hate just white hot here. Knee to the gut! Chop! Chop! CHOP! And Funk falls to the floor, Flair chasing him all the way, raining down chops and punches on his enemy. Funk tries to escape over the guard rail, no dice, CHOP. Funk tries to get back in the ring, Flair pulls him back, as if to say "you brought it out here first, but this is MY territory"; head to the guard rail again, CHOP. Back in the ring finally, and Flair demands the mic: "NOW! You say I quit!" SLAP "Come here! You say it, huh!" CHOKE "SAY IT!" Flair goes after Gary Hart, and Funk nails him from behind. Funk with another neckbreaker, and he's selected his target. He gets the mic: "You remember the wreck, Flair? Your neck? Don't you want to quit before I...hurt you?" FOREARM TO THE NECK. That's just so brilliant I can't even do it justice. Funks sets up for a piledriver and howls "ask him before I piledrive him!" That's just the best psychology ever. Tommy Young: "he won't say it (with trepidation in his voice)... not now". Flair: "NO". Flair fights to escape the piledriver, and as we go to commercial Gordon Solie leaves us with this: "five letters, two words. I...quit...."
As we return Funk is pounding Flair's neck, elbows to the top of the head, and he throws him outside. He slams Flair on a ringside table, and positions it leaning on the ring. Flair fights back with chops, and he drives Funk's head into the table. Flair moves the table into a lean against the guardrail as Funk staggers off, but Flair hurls himself onto Funk in a white hot rage, appearing out of no where and driving him into the railing. He grabs Funk, chops him, and hurls him over the table on the other side of the ring. He attacks Gary Hart too, and keeps Funk from rolling back inside to escape the blows. He crotches him on the railing, then chops him off back to the floor. Back inside, Flair screams "NOW!!" and drops the knee across the face of Terry Funk. Funk bails out, then crawls back in to be met with an inverted atomic drop, and then...Flair goes to the leg. He drags Funk over to the ropes and drops his weight on Funk's knee, propped on the first rope. He stays on the target, alternating kicks to the knee with hard, blistering chops and right hands.
As we return Flair is hitting a shin breaker out in the entrance way, and a suplex back into the ring. "NOW!" Flair hyper extends the knee and goes for the figure-four, but Funk breaks with a rake of the eyes. Flair rolls to the apron, Funk tries to suplex him back in, but Flair reverses and dumps Funk outside onto the apron. Flair slams his knee onto the apron, and back inside it's Funk's fist's against Flair's chops, and Flair wins. Flair gets the figure-four, but Funk won't give: "no, never...never...oh god...my leg...oh god...it's breaking...my leg...AH! AHHHHH! YEAHHHH! YES I QUIT!"
Pure gold. Sadly this version is clipped, which is the only flaw; get the original tape of New York Knock Out for the full version. This is one of the best matches ever in the history of wrestling, and perhaps the only I Quit match ever with a clean finish. Just a perfect brawl with a perfect end, awesome psychology, a deep and rich story, nothing without a meaning, great selling, palpable hatred, perfect execution, perfect everything. None of the stupid spots which dominate '90's brawls like the "we must walk where I want because I hold your hair", or brawling into the crowd or backstage to kill time, or nonsensical table spots for the sake of breaking something. This is the match Cactus Jack/HHH from Royal Rumble 2000 wanted to be. This is what wrestling should always be. *****, Easy. They do the babyface handshake spot after the match, and Flair assaults Gary Hart to protect Funk, when Hart kicks Funk in the knee. Muta runs in to attack Flair (Ross: "the Japanese have attacked Flair! THE JAPANESE HAVE ATTACKED FLAIR!"), Sting runs out to save Flair, and here this tape cuts out, conveniently forgetting that then-WWF wrestler Lex Luger does a run in to demolish Flair and Sting in the full version. Politics, politics.
AND THAT'S THE SHOW! Oh, wait....
Ok, THAT'S the show. And what a show it is, as this one filled about 5 different holes in my collection for all time classics from the old NWA. There's five matches at **** or better by my count, three of them all time classics, and two ***** matches. Only two matches are anything less than good and above average, one of which was clipped, and the average star rating was between ***1/4 and *** _. That's amazing. More importantly, the tape is really just a whole lot of fun, and I'd recommend it highly for anyone who wants to remember the best of WCW, or just to look back at some of the greatest matches in history.
Highest recommendation. Get it NOW.
(Email me if you can't find another place to get the tape ;-) - CRZ)