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WCW Classics by Mike Regan




January 21, 2001

WCW Classics: January 21, 2001

After the detailed blow-by-blow for last episode's Windham-Flair classic, I'm going to step back for a more observational approach as this week's show epitomizes some of the biggest flaws of this series.

As usual, Dusty Rhodes welcomes us to the show. Our main event will feature the mysterious "Mr. R." Our opener puts the spotlight on Jake Roberts, so we start with some classic clips of Roberts destroying Barry Windham, eventually sending him through a wooden barricade.

December 1983:
Jake Roberts (with Paul Ellering) vs. Ron Garvin

Both Garvin and the referee are sporting blonde mop-tops which make them look like the rhythm section from Styx. Ellering (the future manager of the Road Warriors) is carrying the Wall Street Journal, something I only thought he did in his last disastrous stint in the WWF (Hawk suicide angle, anyone). Most of the match sees Roberts target the knee of his opponent, in order to stop Garvin's stomp-based offense. Garvin rallies with his trademark punches (which wouldn't be knockout inducing for another couple years). Roberts gets the win after a bodyslam, with Ellering holding Garvin's leg to prevent a kick out (6:06 shown). Let me repeat: Roberts won with a body slam, which brings us to problems one and two with WCW Classics.

Problem 1: Destroying the credibility of old time wrestling.

Showing a match that ends with a body slam just won't fly in the 21st century. It's a good thing Greg Gagne never competed on TBS, or else we'd be treated to classics where he beats people with his standing dropkick. But this is a minor flaw compared to:

Problem 2: Always making the spotlighted wrestler look weak.

So we feature Jake Roberts, and use a relatively weak performance that ends with a bodyslam and managerial interference (by a manager whose presence Dusty Rhodes never even acknowledges). I'd bet that spotlighted wrestlers are shown winning maybe fifty percent of the time. For example, Roddy Piper went 0-for-2 in his episode.

So anyway let's go to our second match.

October 1983:
Tommy Rich vs. Buzz Sawyer (also with Paul Ellering)

Rich and Sawyer had a series of memorable matches in 1983. This is not one of them. Rich (wearing street clothes with cowboy boots) jumps Sawyer to start. The two roll around punching and biting each other for a bit, until Ellering runs in for the DQ (3:15). Rich chases the heels off with his boot, then some other guy (I think it's Mr. Wrestling II, but they never confirm this) strolls in afterwards to help Rich.

Problem 3: Showing the wrong matches.

Rich-Sawyer was one of the most famous feuds ever in Georgia, but you really wouldn't know it from this match. Three minutes of rolling around that accomplished nothing.

Anyway, let's move on to the main event.

February 1984:
Ted DiBiase vs. Mr. R (assumed to be Tommy Rich)

Before the match, DiBiase brags about how he will unmask Mr. R and prove that he's really Rich. Wait a minute.

Problem 4: Matches shown without any explanation.

Why is Tommy Rich under a mask? We never find out because all Dusty ever does is talk about himself. Why was Jimmy Valiant wearing a mask as Charlie Brown? What did Roddy Piper do that got Jay Youngblood so upset? It would be nice if we got some explanation for what we are seeing. I believe the single biggest improvement that could be made for this show would be to replace Dusty with someone who would actually put the classic matches in perspective. But that will never happen, since it's Dusty's show (if you don't believe me, watch the closing credits).

Anyway, back to the match. R looks like a reject from the world's worst witness relocation program, wearing a mask and an ugly blue jogging suit. R has a brief advantage, but DiBiase soon takes over and concentrates his efforts on pulling the mask off. He soon manages to tear it off, and the camera zooms in to show . . .Brad Armstrong!! DiBiase suddenly sees Rich giddily jumping around at the interview area. This distracts Ted long enough for Armstrong to roll him up for the pin. (5:46)

And with that, we leave on a truly historic moment: The last time Brad Armstrong won a televised match (I'm kidding, I think).

Until next time,

Mike Regan
[slash] wrestling

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