Ring Crew Reviews: WCW Great American Bash 1996
Posted by Jack Bramma on 05.12.2013
Rey Mysterio takes Dean Malenko to the limit for the WCW Cruiserweight Championship, Lord Regal has some business with Sting, and Ric Flair and Arn Anderson square off against the Legends of the Gridiron Mongo McMichael and Kevin Greene!
• Scheduled Card:
1. Number 1 Contender's Match for the WCW World Tag Team Championship: Fire & Ice vs. The Steiner Brothers.
2. WCW United States Championship: El Gato vs. Konnan (c).
3. Lord of the Ring: Diamond Dallas Page vs. Buff Bagwell.
4. WCW Cruiserweight Championship: Rey Mysterio, Jr. vs. Dean Malenko (c).
5. Big Bubba vs. John Tenta.
6. Falls Count Anywhere Match: Chris Benoit vs. Kevin Sullivan.
7. Lord Steven Regal vs. Sting.
8. Tag Team Grudge Match: Legends of the Gridiron vs. Legends of the World of Wrestling: Ric Flair & Arn Anderson vs. Mongo McMichael & Kevin Greene.
9. WCW World Heavyweight Championship: Lex Luger vs. The Giant (c).
• We get quick promos from Brain coach of team Flair/Arn, Flair/Arn themselves, Macho coach of team Mongo/Kevin Greene, Luger and Luger's perm, and Giant from Dutch angles all set to some very VERY 90s B-roll music. That's a pretty soul crushing beginning considering current production standards.
• The national anthem follows before we head over to the commentary crew of Tony, Dusty and Dusty's red leather coat that he didn't take off for three solid years in the 90s. Tony wants to know Dusty's thoughts on the tag match between Flair/Arn and Mongo/Greene. Dust: “A BUNCH OF CRAZED DOGS, BROTHA!” They then hype up Luger/Giant for the belt and whether or not WCW will go to war with “they” – meaning Hall and Nash.
• Number 1 Contender's Match for the WCW World Tag Team Championship: Fire & Ice vs. The Steiner Brothers. Tonight, there must be a winner because these teams had apparently had several matches with no clean finishes. That must have been quite the rousing series of broadways – not exactly The Hart Foundation/Bulldogs. Dust: “THIS IS THE PURE POWER OF FIRE AND ICE AGAINST ELECTRICITY, IF YOU WILL, OF THE STEINER BROTHERS!” If the Steiners were called electricity, they would never have gotten past job guys, just ask High Voltage. Not satisfied that he can't get the catchphrase over and wanting to show off his metallurgy prowess, Dust repeats electricity two more times and then changes Arn's name to iron: “THIS ONE GOING'S TO ERUPT INTO ELECTRICITY! THERE'S ELECTRICITY IN THE AIR! We skeen the Macho Man earlier, that crazed look in his eye. I tell ya what, I don't know about IRON and Flair and Bobby the Brain, have they been talking too much caviar and limousines? Are they ready for a fight?”
• Ice and Scotty to start. Scott armdrags him under and there's a stalemate as Dust brings up the recent “mortal combat” between Fire and Ice getting ready to break down. Ice comes back with a hiptoss and some dancing: “OH YEAH! DO IT, DADDY! BOOGIE.... boogin' around right here! BOOGA LOOING AND DANCING RIGHT HERE!” With no Brain, Larry Z, Tenay, or Lee Marshall to keep Dust in check, I'm not sure Tony's up to the job. Tony: “Two teams who approach this match the same way but differently as well.” Nope, Tony's got a hard enough time keeping himself in check. Scotty with a shoulderblock but runs into a Ice-line for 2. Scotty comes back with a hiptoss and another for an entering Flapjack Norton. Rick joins the party to club him down and the Steiners are standing tall. That was a strange spot for a powder out considering Ice more or less had the advantage in the exchange. Flapjack and Rick in as Dust drifts off to talking about Lex Luger. Norton with a few CLUBBINGBLOWS but whiffs on a Stinger Splash. Rick rolls him up but Scott rolls through(!) and clubs him down again. THE AGILITY OF THE BIG MAN, TONY! Norton blows through Rick with a shoulderblock. Dust: “Ya ever, hit yaself with a brick wall, or hit ya head on the cement? It just RATTLES YA! That's how thick he is, that's where the power of Fire and Ice comes in.” Or a concussion. Rick comes back with a big Steiner-line and holy hell, all these guys are bumping like crazy for each other and it's making this work. Rick with a belly to belly suplex for 2. Scotty tags in which Tony refers to as “one of the great hallmarks” of Steiner Bros wrestling as if these two are the only ones who use tags. Scotty with a Bluechipper dropkick but runs into a Samoan drop from Norton and Scotty bails out to the floor selling. That's pretty crazy selling but I like it. Back in, Train tags in with a snap suplex and a belly to belly for 2. The ref pulls away Train but that allows Norton to get in a cheap shot in the corner. Ice hits a big Ho Train in the corner and he's fired up to boos.
• He runs into a boot and... another belly to belly this time from Scotty. Steiner-line takes him down but Ice no sells to tag in Flash. Scotty jumps on him with a Gargoyle suplex and damn near kills Norton barely getting him over. Back in, Scotty goes up top but flies off into Norton CATCHING HIM! POWERSLAM! 1, 2, 2 ½. Short arm clothesline gets 2 as Dust wants to use Tony as a prop in his anatomy lecture: “That shoulder that was injured, really got shocked a bit earlier. Sometimes you get a shocker like a like a stinger, ya know? You ever been hit on the elbow, Tony?” Tony: “No, never have.” Dust: “You never been hit on the elbow? HOLD THAT THING UP THERE, LET ME KNOCK THAT--” Tony: “WAIT A SECOND!” Dust: “Well ANYWAY, it stings ya down there and... uh.... ya lose ya equillivefreeun on it, but then it comes back.” Ice goes back to a resthold. Scotty elbows free but Train runs into him and Scotty bumps in a botch where someone blew the spot. Norton back in with a nice shoulderbreaker. Rather than cover, Norton goes to the FUJIWARA ARMBAR! Rick in to break it up but Norton won't break the hold! Rick with a few Batista kicks that stiff Norton and he finally releases. Rick makes a blind tag to Scotty as Norton hits another shoulderbreaker. Rick tags in but goes to the Steiner-line. He heaves him over with a suplex and a backdrop for Ice. Ice dumps Scotty out to the floor and jumps Rick from behind. Norton powerbombs Rick and Ice splashes him for 1, 2, only 2 as Scotty breaks it up. Fire and Ice goes for Doomsday Device but Scotty dumps out Ice and crotches him. Rick gets to his feet and DDTS Norton. Train no sells a crotch spot and jumps on Rick from behind. This is... quite the strange ending with everybody no-selling cutoffs and not seeming like they want to work. Scotty illegally tags in from the wrong corner. Steiner hits the Super Bulldog and cover for nothing as Train breaks it up. Scott calls for the Frankensteiner but he doesn't get enough height and Flapjack while agile is still known as Flapjack and folds over like a... flapjack in a nasty spot. Scotty covers for 1, 2, 3 to win it at 10:28.
• I kinda liked this, stiff, bruising, but had some quality bumping at least in the early going. The no-selling for the ending was to put over the “have to have a winner” stipulation but it didn't make for the most competent craftsmanship in the world. Shave off a couple of minutes and have a cleaner ending and it's a lot more satisfying. **1/4
• Meanwhile, Schemin' Gene is in the back with Jimmy Hart (“that Nathan Lane wanna-be” [WTF?]) and Taskmaster. Jimmy tries to tell Sullivan they don't need the Horsemen tonight because they have the world title in the DOD to worry about. Sullivan says it's not about the Horsemen, it's about Flair, Arn, and himself. He showed everyone that Pillman was a quitter but Benoit is a different story – he's going to show the Horsemen tonight he means business. The entire time Sullivan is looking off camera making it seem like he's reading off a cue card which is unlikely but still looks strange – but this was pretty disjointed. THIS AINT ABOUT THE HORSEMEN! IT'S ABOUT BENOIT! BUT I'M GONNA SHOW THE HORSEMEN WHAT I'M ALL ABOUT!
• WCW United States Championship: El Gato vs. Konnan (c). Tony says this is El Gato's PPV debut, but he has a “lot of quickness,” a tiger mask, and some jungle music so he's going places. Gato is Pat Tanaka for what it's worth. The worst guy possible to sell this match, Dust, takes over: “El Gato's reputation has preceded him and... uh... as you said, I took a look at him... BUT one of the great athletes in this whole country, and uh uh, THE WHOLE UNIVERSE, if you will, all over the world, is Konnan and I guarantee ya this match for the United States Heavyweight Champion will be...-- [Dusty gets distracted by a fan in the crowd] Who is that?” Tony: “I don't know who that is, but I do know hearing from the Taskmaster Kevin Sullivan, they may try to pin each other up here where you and I are.” Dust: “He's deranged and he's looking for serpent ayes and we got a serpent aid hid up here, he will come up here and get it.” Where is Tenay when you need him?
• ANYWAY, Konnan is wearing a poncho designed after the Mexican flag and some blue headgear. Following up on his dazzling promo earlier, Dusty continues putting over El Gato by saying that Konnan must have watched tape on him and say that he's “very quick, very agile, and astute in the martial arts.”
• They trade some wristlocks and Gato armdrags Konnan over. Gato with some kicks to the back and a DSLW as Dust and Tony take turns repeating each other and discussing the differences between armdrags and legdrags. Gato blocks a punch and hits some more slow martial arts and poses to crickets. Dust: “El Gato is in spurts, you see that? I mean, what I mean by spurts is, if you're at home and watching or ya listening on the radio, is he's REAL quick, know what I mean? Then he'll back off, get his good base, get a good balance, cause Konnan outweights him, YOU CAN SEE THAT!” Konnan comes back with a knuckle-lock and an armdrag off the top. Konnan jumps him but Gato catches him and puts him up top. Konnan pulls him down by the hair and LARIATOS him down. Konnan covers for 1, 2, only 2. Konnan goes to the wristlock because apparently Gato wasn't as agile and quick as we'd been lead to believe. This must be the end of one of those spurts.
• Gato comes back with a head of steam and runs under a few leap frogs and hits a hook kick. He covers for a nearfall. Dust: “Well gato mean cat, don't it?” Tony: “Yes.” Dust: “And that was QUICK AS A CAT!” Gato with a karate chop and goes to a crucifix submission and Dust again takes over: “To be a champion, YOU GOTTA KNOW WHEN TO PUT 'EM AWAY! Trying to get him over right here, sometype-acallthatone.” Tony: “Sometype-acallthatone?” Dust: “No, I wanted you to call that one.” Tony: “Well, you were doing just fine.” Dust: “Well....it's a... uh... he's got him hurtin' there.” Tony: “It's a hurtin' submission hold.” Dust: “Well, I never used one of them submission holds right there, ya know? HE'S GOT THE ROPES! I KNOW THAT!” Gato indeed does use the ropes for leverage but gets no admonishment from the ref so he releases as Tony lets us know where Brain is while the trainwreck on commentary continues. Gato hits a Low Down Bomb for 2. BACKTOTHERESTHOLD! Gato switches to a sloppy headscissors before Konnan switches to a leg grapevine. Konnan says the hell with it and sends Gato into the corner for the reverse SWAT team roll bulldog. Konnan covers for nothing as Gato gets the ropes. The SWAT team LARIATO gets 2 but the crowd is dead. Gato refuses to go for a whip and instead dumps out Konnan. Gato whiffs on a baseball slide. Konnan slides back in and after some touch 'n go delivers an Arabian powerbomb to the floor. Crowd chants for Konnan as Gato tries up and over in the corner but Konnan catches him. Alabama Slam gets 1, 2, 3 to retain at 6:02. Sloppy, slow, and a crowd on siesta while Dusty feels his way through lucha. 3/4*
• Gene is in the back with Sting and he wants to talk turkey about Regal – “that sissy or prissy.” Sting says that Gene is stirring shit but Sting doesn't need stirring up. He mocks Regal's English manner and then says that ain't how they breed American men. Sting continues alluding that Regal may be gay and then says he'll “straighten him out.”
• Lord of the Ring: Diamond Dallas Page vs. Buff Bagwell. DDP is fresh off winning the Battlebowl and is still heel, still in pink, and still using cigars. DDP gets the stick and says all these Baltimore Bimbos will forget all about “Carl” Ripken when they get a load of DDP. Eh, not everyone can be Rick Rude. Still face and still with moussed up, blonde streaked hair Buff comes storming out and clears the ring of DDP. WATCH OUT, MARCUS!
• DDP jumps him from behind and dumps him out. Page goes to the CLUBBINGBLOWS but Buff snapmares him over the top and goes to work on the floor. Page goes to the eyes but Buff no sells and tosses him into the guardrail to wake up the crowd. Page sells it by tumbling over the guardrail and getting tied up in a chair awesomely. Back in, Page cuts him off at the pass but Buff crossbodies him for 1, 2, only 2. Buff goes to work on the arm and drops a few knees. DDP elbows his way free but runs into a burrito from Buff after a crisscross. Back to the arm for Buff. Buff with a big forearm and dropkicks DDP to the floor and follows out with a plancha. Buff postures to the crowd a bit much and that gives DDP time to cut him off and crotch him on the top rope. Dusty wants the fans at home to join in for some interactive low blows: “Ya ever wanna try that at home, jump off onto a clothesline or something. You got one hanging up in the back offya yard, you'll find out how much that one hurts. Just get up on the pole and jump off on the line.... straddle it... Tony?” Tony: “I don't think I'll do that, Dream.” DDP calls for the Bang but Buff cuts him off so DDP goes to the BLATANTCHOKE. DDP: “LOOK MOMMY, NO CAVITIES!” DDP with a back elbow and thrusts his hips for all the Baltimore Bimbos he was talking about earlier. DDP follows up going for an ab stretch but they botch it so he covers with a gutwrench backbreaker for 2. Regal-plex gets 1, 2, only 2. Now, DDP gets back to the ab stretch and they get it right this time.
• DDP grabs the ropes and they try the behind the ref's back gambit but the crowd has some mid 90s smarks and instead, they are on DDP's side so it's not clicking. Around a rope break, DDP hoists him up for a tilt-a-whirl tombstone. He covers for 1, 2, 2 ½. He calls for the Bang again to boos. Buff with a shot to the gut to come back and DDP slips on a banana peel and wipes out Looney Tunes-style. Buff hits a few atomic drops to crickets and DDP's slapstick selling ain't cutting it. Buff spins Page around and clubs him down and hits another back elbow. He slingshots in with another clothesline for 1, 2, 2 ½. Dead crowd is hurting this. DDP gets the elbow up in the corner and covers with one foot on the ropes for 1, 2, only 2. DDP again covers this time with TWO FEET on the ropes for 1, 2, 2.7. Awesome work there and that even got the crowd up. DDP: “SHADDUP!” Buff counters the tilt-a-whirl this time with a headscissors. Buff is fired up but DDP blocks a Perfectplex and hits the DIAMONDCUTTER! 1, 2, 3 to retain the ring at 9:38. Once again, I come away pleased with DDP's craftsmanship and commitment to cheap heeldom. It doesn't always work and the crowd doesn't always care, but DDP is never afraid to look like a complete buffoon to a match's benefit. Crowd couldn't care less, but I was inclined enough to be interested throughout. **1/2
• Mean Gene is in the back with Jimmy Hart and World Champ The Giant. Jimmy says that everybody wants to know what's up with him and Luger. Jimmy dodges and Gene intimates that he wants to see how far he can throw Hart. Giant then screams that he's the one true immortal one, he's beaten them all, Hogan, Macho, Sting, etc. If Luger thinks he'll get Giant up for the rack, he's SADLY MISTAKEN! Lex should have lifted a few more weights before he decided to step in the ring with the Giant. Very solid promo from Giant. Much better than some of his other crap from his first year.
• WCW Cruiserweight Championship: Rey Mysterio, Jr. vs. Dean Malenko (c). Tenay joins commentary to save Tony and Dust from sniffing paint and chewing on powerlines. Dust tosses aside Tenay's analysis and decides to do his own investigating: “IRON MICHAEL! LET ME TELL YA! How does he match up in this situation? Has he met Dean Malenko before? I'm sure he's studied tapes of him.” Thanks for that. Tony puts in some good work saying that Dean is anxious to show what he can do here because while he is champ, he lost two straight matches back in the double elimination tournament, so he wants to show he's a worthy champ. Good stuff.
• Headlock takeover leads to a headscissors and kip up and it's a stalemate. Mysterio flips over and goes for a fleeting cover for nothing. They both go through quick flip ups and kip ups and it's the ECW STANDOFF! Dean with a quick drop toe hold and into a chinlock. Rey escapes to the ropes. Dean sends him off and Rey floats over and hits a back elbow. Dean gets Rey up to his shoulders for the spinning gutbuster but Rey tilt-a-whirls around into an armdrag and Dean rolls out to the floor. That woke up the crowd a bit. Dean gets to the apron but Rey double jump dropkicks him back to the floor. Tenay doing quality work on commentary schooling the boys that Rey actually took his wrestling name from his uncle, not his dad, that he started wrestling at 14, etc. They go through a Greco-Roman knuckle-lock sequence before Dean catapults Rey to the floor. Dean goes for the baseball slide but Rey slides back in to avoid and outsmart Machino. Dean finally takes over with an arm wringer off the knuckle-lock and now we go to school, GREAT BORIS STYLE!
• Rey selling the arm well here immediately as Dean goes to work with a few armbreakers and drops a few knees on the arm. Dean goes to an armbar but Rey makes the ropes as Dusty drifts into one of his monologues: “Mike, I seen many a smaller guy beat a bigger guy in—in this great sport of ours and uh, in this situation tonight, we have one where we take a powerful look at Lex Luger, a big powerful man, but he's against a bigger man, so sometimes it ain't really the size of the dog, it's the bite of the dog that'll come back and get ya.” Tony: “Mike, do I have to translate any of that for ya?” Dust: “NO! He's in to my repertar.” Tony: “Sometimes, you gotta be with Dusty a couple weeks to know what's going on here.” ANYWAY, Dean decides to puro up and breaks Rey's arm USING THE GUARDRAIL! Back in, Rey comes back with a springboard dropkick and tries to flip Dean's shoulders but Dean shoves him away for a LARIATO! I can get behind Gaijin Dean. He goes to the Strangle Hold Gamma with a headscissors to continue tearing Rey's rotator cuff. Dean releases to boot the arm into the turnbuckle and then pull him out to the apron for armbreakers across the apron. Back in, Dean with a hammerlock-assisted back suplex!~! He covers for 1, 2, 2 ½. Back to another variation of the Strangle Hold Gamma. Dust: “The pressure on this young man's arm... ALMOST A UNCLEIN' SITUATION!” Rey: “GET OFFFA ME!”
• Now, Dean releases to switch to a hammerlock Northern Light release suplex. BEAST! Cover gets 1, 2, 2.7. Rey tries a Lionsault before hitting a bit of a dropkick to comeback, but Dean completely ignores to go to a Fujiwara armbar. Dean hooks the arm with his foot to DRIVE IT INTO THE MAT! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! After trying to describe to Tenay the ins and outs of the STF, Dust picks on Tony: “You sit there with your mouth open catching flies Tony, while me and Iron Mike discuss this.” Dean is just completely trashing Rey and wants the Mexican Surfboard and locks it in. After showing off, Dean releases to bridge into a cover for 1, 2, 2 ½. Tony switches now to talking about the “Hostile Takeover.” Malenko hiplocks Mysterio over into a badass kimura. Mysterio tries getting the ropes so Malenko armscissors and grapevines the arm. Something happens off-camera that amuses Tony and Dust has to steady the ship for a minute: “I'll tell ya what, he's—he has used quite a few of them THOUSANDS OF HOLDS ALREADY!” Dean is really stretching Rey all over the mat, but for this is pretty innovative stuff for most of the American audience in 96. BJJ and UFC weren't exactly common knowledge, so the crowd is getting antsy. Malenko now folds up Mysterio with a Saito suplex for 1, 2, 2.7. Butterfly suplex gets another nearfall. Malenko now floats into a bridge while going for an Americana at the same time trying to either submit him or pin him. Awesome stuff. Malenko with a few more armbreakers and back into a Fujiwara armbar and Dusty wants the match stopped. Mysterio drops to the mat and Malenko dumps himself out to allow Mysterio to come back. Rey baseball slides Mysterio off the apron and then springboard flip sentons to the floor. Nice move. Springboard dropkick gets 1, 2, 2 ½. Rey lands on top in a powerbomb attempt and now they trade roll ups for a few 2 counts. Mysterio flips to the apron and springboards ranas back in for 1, 2, nearfall. Crowd has woken up for the false finishes. Tony: “We are witnessing one of the finest cruiserweight matches EVER!” Mysterio fights off Dean for a rana off the top. Malenko tries a tilt-a-whirl but Rey floats on top for 1, 2, 2.99. Mysterio tries one final rana but Dean blocks and counters to the WILDBOMB! FEET ON THE ROPES! 1, 2, 3 to win it at 17:47.
• Now, that's a wrestling match. After a solid back-and-forth, feeling-out process, Dean takes over with a few of his several thousand holds as Dusty says. He grounds Mysterio into mincemeat destroying his arm. Before Rey comes fighting and flying back with tons of ranas and springboards. That's a pretty common Rey formula for the first year or so of his career in WCW – get his ass kicked for 15 minutes before he uses speed and high flying to even the score. I'd seen it used similarly with Ultimo Dragon, Calo, and Dean again later at Havoc. It wasn't until 97 when Mysterio got any semblance of outright offense and not getting pummeled the whole match. Still, this is possibly my favorite out of all those with the crowd expressing genuine enthusiasm for the opening chain and again getting caught up in the beautiful, crisp false finishes at the end. The best part is Dean not wanting to repeat his tournament results and being unable to fend off the spunky Mysterio without cheating to win. ****
• Meanwhile, Gene is with Luger. Luger says that he doesn't really want to give the interview but “out of respect” to WCW, he's here to give one anyway. Luger isn't here to scream, he's here to tell us that Giant has changed the landscape of wrestling, but Luger has won a lot of titles and has a lot of “pide in that” – I MEAN, A LOT OF PRIDE! I'M PISSED NOW! Luger plans on capitalizing on Giant's mistakes tonight to add to his collection of belts.
• Big Bubba vs. John Tenta. Dust: “It's tough to transition from cruiserweight electricity to two BIG, SUPER UGLY HEAVYWEIGHTS!” Bubba is Big Bossman as a member of Aces 'n Eights. Tenta is newly turned Shark as a babyface out of the Dungeon of Doom but as himself. Tony says that tonight, Tenta is determined to shave Bubba's head and then he's going after the Giant. Bubba bails out and jumps on Tenta early before rolling him off. Tenta cuts him off and knocks Bubba to the floor in a cool spot. Tenta goes to the CLUBBINGBLOWS and throws Bubba into the stairs and sends the stairs flying. Back in, Bubba begs off but eats a JUMPING PUMP KICK FROM TENTA! That was cool even if it had no hangtime. Dust: “I don't know if he knows 1,000 holds, but he does know a good old fashioned fist to the face.” Tenta follows up with a ButtBomb in the corner. Dust: “And also, a BUTT to the face, IF YOU WILL!” Bubba comes back with the loaded knucks and lays out Tenta. Bubba passes it off to Jimmy Hart and Nick Patrick can't find it. Bubba hits a fleeting enzuigiri to crickets and a Bossman attack. Bubba hits a few more and fires up to deafening silence. He covers for 1, 2, feet on the ropes but no one cares.
• Tenta tries a bodyslam but the back collapses because a 500 lb man should totally have trouble picking up a 300 lb man even though he's had no heat put on his back. Bossman with a few BLATANTCHOKES. This whole time, by the way, Tenta has had half his head shaved and just left it like that because in the words of Tony, “as memory to what happened. He wants to look in the mirror everyday and see that [haircut].” Tenta comes back with a few forearms but Bossman slowly jogs out to the floor and wants to crotch Tenta on the ringpost before he says the hell with it and wraps his leg instead. This is not good. Bubba drops a few knees and then spits on the camera because just because. More choking follows as Tony and Dusty argue about how to pronounce “garment.” Bubba with a nice back suplex on the big Tenta. He and Jimmy reveal the master plan which involves Jimmy standing on the apron while Bubba heads up top in a totally transparent spot. Sure enough, Tenta catches Bubba and powerslams him for 1, 2, 3 to win at 5:29. Not quite as bad as I was expecting. I have a soft spot for Bossman's cheap heat arsenal but even he seemed uninspired other than the back suplex. *
• Post-match, Jimmy moves in for the shave because he thinks Bubba won, but instead Tenta sidesteps and Bubba collides with Jimmy in a brutal spot. Tenta gets the clippers and takes off some of Bubba's beard. High drama at the Bash.
• Gene is in the back with Mongo and Debra and Kevin Greene and his wife and Mach is waiting in the wings. Showing a stunning insight and sense of continuity, Gene wants to talk strategy, nay, a gameplan. You see, Gene knows that with Greene and Mongo's vast experience on the gridiron, in lockerrooms, in practice, that they have to have a higher sense of gameplay and big picture strategy than your average wrestler. Gene knows these guys could construct a plan to invade Fort Knox if necessary. Even though they are going against three of the greatest minds in the history of the business, Flair, Arn, and Brain, fans would be wise to not discount the intellect of Mongo McMichael or Kevin Greene.
Gene: “Steve McMichael, the gameplan, very quickly, we know about gameplans.”
Mongo: “I DON'T CARE ABOUT A GAMEPLAN, GENE! ...”
Greene: “ALL I KNOW IS, BABY, IT'S LIKE GOAL LINE, BABY! SHORT YARDAGE, BABY! …. WATCH OUT, WE'RE COMING HARD!”
Mach: “THE SMELL OF WINNING IS IN THE AIR AND A LITTLE PERFUME, TOO!”
• So much for that. They finish huddling up and then Mach declares the interview over and he's out of the frame before adding from off-camera: “WE'RE GONNA GET 'EM AND GET 'EM, BIG GUY!” This is right up there with Sting/Luger/Hogan/Macho's epic rant from WarGames 95 for one of the most testosterone and possibly cocaine-fueled promos of the mid 90s.
• Falls Count Anywhere Match: Chris Benoit vs. Kevin Sullivan. Tony plays this as Horsemen vs. DOD but then strangely notes that Arn is backing Sullivan. Now, in one of my favorite match openings of all-time, Sullivan practically runs to the ring and STILL gets tackled and forearmed to the floor by a rampaging Benoit. None of that soaking-in-the-moment, collar-and-elbow stalemate, feeling-out process, ECW standoff crap. Two men who are so enraged that their anger can't even be contained long enough for the entrances much less, in-ring intros. IT'S FUCKING GO TIME! Sullivan responds by throwing Benoit into the apron and the stairs. Benoit no sells and comes back with the chops. Sullivan comes back with chops of his own and tosses Benoit into the front row. Benoit goes for a chair but Sullivan takes over with a thumb to the eye. Benoit fights back with several headbutts so Sullivan goes back to the eyes and then they brawl up the concourse and into the restroom. Tony: “They are up in the middle level, they are going out toward the concession area—THEY'RE IN THE MEN'S ROOM!” Dust: “Well... I'll tell ya what, there's some plunder in there.” Tony: “HOLY MOLY!” Sullivan wedges Benoit into a stall door and waffles him. Sullivan traps him and then BLASTS him again. Tough stuff. Dust: “THE TASKMASTER IS IN HIS ELEMENT IN THE BATHROOM, RIGHT HERE IN THE JOHN, IF YOU WHEEL!” Benoit tries a flurry but Sullivan going back to the eyes. Sullivan goes for the urinal swirly. Tony: “THAT'S WHERE HE'S GONNA GO! HEAD FIRST, RIGHT THERE, IN THE COMMODE!”
• Benoit blocks to instead trap Sullivan with a few stall door waffles of his own. Dust gets distracted by a woman: “THERE'S A LADY! THERE'S A LADY IN THE MEN'S BATHROOM! LOOK-A-THERE! … SHE JUST STOPPED OFF! SHE SAID, 'I GOT TO GET SOME RELIEF!'” As Dust continues drifting into gleeful insanity speculating about whether or not Benoit and Sullivan will brawl through a crawlspace and come out on the roof like Die Hard, Sullivan waffles Benoit with a bag full of toilet paper. Benoit tries a choke but Sullivan drops the trash can on Benoit. Benoit fights back with a trash can shot of his own. Dust: “FIGHT ACROSS THE ROAD TO THE WOMEN'S BATHROOM! LET'S SEE WHAT THAT ONE LOOKS LIKE!” They start potatoing the hell out of each other as they work their way back to the arena. Sullivan throws Benoit down about 10 stairs and then picks him up to DO IT AGAIN! Sullivan with a BLATANTLOWBLOW but Benoit fights back for more receipts. Sullivan cuts him off to crotch him on the guardrail. Sullivan throws a chair at Benoit but mostly misses so Benoit crotches him on the rail. Benoit tries to break out a table but can't get enough distance so he tosses Sullivan to the front row. Benoit flips the table on Sullivan and now they both finally slide in the ring for the first time. Sullivan tries an elbow drop on the table but Benoit avoids and then sits the table up top as a makeshift scaffold. Benoit hits a top rope superplex off the table to a BIGGG pop. Cover gets 1, 2, 3 to win at 10:25.
• Super stiff, intense brawl with the added innovation of relocating to the bathroom. ECW would and had to an extent crafted an entire main event scene around matches like this. By the time, WWF got around to it, the only way they could one-up this was to fight outside and have Road Dogg piledrive Al Snow in the snow and then they one-upped themselves by having Snow and Bob Holly street fight into the Mississippi River. WCW would later win the hardcore wars in a landslide by Meng throwing Brian Knobbs off a 30 foot balcony and thus killing him off from the promotion forever and holding an entire hardcore battle royal in a junkyard. ****
• Post-match, Benoit continues slapping Sullivan around. Dust: “JIMMY HART, YOU BETTER RUN, BROTHER! YOU DON'T WANNA GET CAUGHT IN THE BATHROOM WITH THIS GUY!” BUT WAIT! ARN ANDERSON HAS COME OUT! Arn pulls Benoit off only to punt Sullivan himself and the crowd erupts. The Dungeon comes out but the Horsemen are now back on the same page.
• Meanwhile, Gene is with Miss Elizabeth and Woman. Gene oogles the ladies but Arn comes in fresh off the Horsemen beatdown of Sullivan and Flair, Heenan, and Benoit join in. Arn cuts a strong promo saying that Benoit earned the right to be a Horseman by beating Sullivan and conquering the Dungeon's leader. Everybody follows up with more of the usual except Heenan who's trying not to act scared of Mongo and Greene but is failing miserably. Awesome. Flair reassures Heenan that TONIGHT, THE HOSSMEN ARE IN TOWN!
• Lord Steven Regal vs. Sting. Regal is in the Bluebloods and is accompanied by Jeeves, a powdered wig in a pilgrim get-up. Tony completely ignores both of them to talk about Greene, Mongo, Horsemen, the as-yet unnamed n.W.o but the “Hostile Takeover,” Lex Luger, The Giant, Sullivan, and Benoit. Of couse, Tony cuts out that shit to talk about Sting and put him over as the most popular wrestler in the company and one half of the tag champs. He brings up Sting's history of knee problems and how he won his first world title against Flair. Yeah, yeah, BUT WHO THE HELL IS THE BRITISH GUY IN THE RING?! Dust thankfully comes in to explain the feud: “Lord Steven Regal come in to a situation where he... he back-handed, what we call, a franchise player. This thing takes on, also Tony, a GRUDGE. MATCH. MENTALITY!” There ya go.
• Sting gets a hot start and Regal flips the ropes out to the floor. Sting pounces with a whip into the rail and a nice backdrop. Back in, Regal begs off 30 seconds in. I love it. Regal, of course, takes over with the BLATANTTHUMBTOTHEEYE and a European uppercut. Regal drops a knee for 1 and goes to a BRUTAL crossface and even Tony and Dust are wincing. Regal grinds a chinlock while the crowd chants for president and country rather than queen and country. Awesomely, Regal palm strikes Sting inbetween working the chinlock. Sting sends him off for the Japanese armdrag and is all HEY REGAL, PUT UP YOUR DUKES! After a solid minute or so of silence on commentary and in response to nothing in particular, Dust offers up this gem: “You know, sometimes, we, uh, use different terms kinda luce-lay but when you said, 'LITERALLY exploded,' boy, you are so right. Summertime is here and it's dancing in the streets.” During all of this, Regal takes a breather and jaws with the entire front row around two side of the rings and that somehow goads them BACK into a USA chant. Regal's the man. Regal steps back in but because he's a gentlemen, he wants to settle things diplomatically by calling an end to hostile relations for a renewed Treaty of Paris. Citizens of these two great nations – The United States and Great Britain – deserve better than to fight over such unpleasantries. They made the world save for democracy and ended the tyranny of the Third Reich. Surely, they can come together for peace in the year of our lord nineteen hundred and ninety-six at the greatest of bashes, The Great American Bash. Faced with a situation of grave geopolitical importance and fearing an international incident given that Sting is holding conclave with a British lord, Ambassadors Tony and Dusty advise. Tony: “SLAP HIM IN THE FACE RIGHT HERE!” Dust: “Sting came in ready to go to war with this guy and this guy got a gameplan--” Sting interrupts to no sell statesmanship for some realpolitik by telling Regal to suck it. Dust: “Did you see that?” Tony: “ELVIS... is in the building.” Dust: “... I don't think that was an Elvis move. I think that was a pelvis move.” Sting corners Regal and Regal wants a rope break. Regal comes back with a quick single leg and knuckle-locks Sting into a few covers. Sting overpowers in the test of strength but Regal kips up and twists Sting into a COBRA CLUTCH! WOOOOOOOO! ELBOW TO THE FACE! Regal with some stiff Euro uppercuts and then dances a ditty himself to answer Sting's fellatio offer with a boot to the face.
• Regal awesomely waves to the crowd and then shows off his handiwork and then stomps Sting's hand so he can't get up. Regal hooks in a MasterLock to ground Sting a bit more. Sting escapes and goes for the sunset flip. Regal fights it, tries grabbing the ref, then threatens to punch the ref if he doesn't come close enough so that he can block the move, before finally succumbing to the roll up. Just a wonderful display of character work and heeldom in a 5 second span. Regal kicks out and goes back to grinding Sting switching between an ab stretch, headlock, and half nelson crab. Regal mocks Sting's punch-drunkeness and then dropkicks him down for 1, 2, only 2. Regal mounts for a chinlock and then mouths off to the camera: “IS THIS AMERICA?! WELL I PITY EVERYONE!” Regal mumbles something about Old Britania before Sting back suplexes his way free. He still can't get anything going as Regal stays on Sting working a wristlock and talking trash in-between. Sting tries to stumble out of the ring so Regal trips him and goes back to the Bret Hart Dickensian headlock. Dust: “Right back to the headlock, arm hooked in there, arm in there scissored, if you will, headlock on him, bony elbow in yo face – Lord Steven Regal got a good gameplan on the man they call The Franchise, Sting.” Sting sends Regal off but Sting is out of it and ambles in the way for a coconut. Regal recovers first and then elbow Sting into a pulp before going back to the half nelson, neck crank. Regal talks more trash and then pulls Sting over to the ropes for more leverage. Regal is putting on a clinic, but more importantly, the crowd HATES him. Most technicians and grinders – your Benoits, Finlays, Malenkos, etc. – have a hard time getting a big reaction most of the time, but Regal (and Eddie) get more hatred from a snarl and hand gesture than most of the roster ever could get.
• ANYWAY, Sting fires up for the ABDOMINAL STRETCH! Yeah... that's something. It's payback for all the grinding but not exactly hot tag comeback territory. Regal, poor bastard, looks to have lost a contact so he points to the mat and the ref practically calls a timeout so Sting can help look for it. Of course, that leads to Regal cold-cocking Sting with a haymaker. Regal prances around and then shows off his bicep to the crowd. Regal tosses Sting over for a headscissors and an armbar which Dusty calls “almost a full situation.” Regal switches now to a step over wristlock. Regal: “YOU'RE NOT BLOODY GOING ANYWHERE!” Let's be realistic, Sting should have severed tendons in that arm by now, yet everyone knows what's coming. Sting kips up, no sells, and overpowers in the test of strength so Regal POKES HIM IN THE EYE! WOOOOO! Regal with a full nelson but Sting gets a corner break and fires up for a Bluechipper dropkick and Sting's a house of clotheslines afire. Sting covers for 1, 2, only 2. He instantly heads up top but Regal cuts him off with a Butterfly suplex off the top for 1, 2, 2 ½. Regal says that's it and goes to the Regal Stretch. Sting won't give it up, so Regal releases to just unmercifully beat the shit out of Sting in the corner. STIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINNNNNNGGG! That fires up the Stinger as you can break his arm and grind him into mincemeat for the better part of half an hour, but you shall NOT slap him in the face. Regal realizes he's made a tactical error and Sting now means business for sure this time. He pummels Regal and goes for the Stinger Splash but Regal GETS THE KNEES UP! WOOOOOOO! Sting backdrops him anyway and wants the Deathlock. Sting locks it in and Regal taps out at 16:29.
• Regal, despite being a serious contender to usurp Sid as Master and Ruler of the World, never had much of a strong go-home. He has that unfortunate ailment that snakebit even greats like Cactus and Jericho at different times in their careers – having a finisher that gets no reaction. The double-arm DDT almost never got a pop, neither did Jericho's Breakdown, double powerbomb, etc. Obviously, both had other moves that were more over – Liontamer/Walls of Jericho, Lionsault, Codebreaker, Mandible Claw, Socko – but still struggled to find multiple moves that were over with the crowd. The Regal Stretch go nothing from the crowd and the butterfly suplex got nothing either. Other than maybe the Regal-plex, Regal just didn't have a move over enough to make a crowd think the match was ending. He could have gone on for an hour pulverizing Sting and still might have no managed a believable false finish or seemed like a threat to win the match. It hurts the match a bit and makes Sting's final ultimate comeback seem sudden and unexpected. Very good and I wish I could go higher. ****
• Tag Team Grudge Match: Legends of the Gridiron vs. Legends of the World of Wrestling: Ric Flair & Arn Anderson vs. Mongo McMichael & Kevin Greene. Woman, Liz, and Brain are accompanying the Horsemen. Brain gets his own entrance and it's last for the heels! Crazy. Mongo and Greene are joined by Debra and Tara, their wives. Macho is last out for the faces as their coach and there is a spot-on, dead ringer for Macho in the front row. The costume is PERFECT.
• Anyway, Dusty is psyched up for this one. Dust: “Boy, I wanna tell you what, we been a sittin', we been a seein' a lot of things, but this one right here is getting ready to explode; CRAZED DOG TIME!” More importantly, this is Mongo's first ever match.
• Mongo and Greene run through a warm-up to pump each other up before deciding that Mongo will start out against Arn. Arn with a go-behind and mocks Mongo with some jumping jacks. Flair: “YEAHHHHHH! HAHAHAHAH!” Dust: “Tryin' to wrassle Iron Anderson is a bad situation to get in when you're Mongo McMichael, right here.” Mongo botches a bit of a wristlock but gets tripped on cue by Arn. While Arn regroups, Tony plays up Mongo's mercenary rep in the NFL: “15 years he played in the NFL. Of course, of those 15 years, 13 with the Chicago Bears, his last year with the Green Bay Packers. I asked him, 'Why did you go to Green Bay, one of the arch enemies of the Chicago Bears?' He said, 'Very simply, money. I'm winning for the money. They offered to pay me more and I went for the money.'” Arn stupidly agrees to a third point stance standoff and Mongo bowls over him. Arn wants one more go but this time slides behind with a drop toe hold and puts the boots to Mongo to a pop because wrestling > football in a wrestling ring. Mongo gets the boot up in the corner but Arn stops short but sells it anyway and then gets shoulderblocked down from the second rope. Arn takes a shot at Greene but ends up on the short end of a beatdown in the face corner. Arn bails out and stumbles around right into the waiting arms of Macho who waffles him one as well and Arn flops like Wile Coyote. Brain holds court in the corner while the heels regroup.
• Dust: “You can't learn to wrestle, Tony, overnight. You can't learn it, so do what you do best. Take what you do best and use that to your advantage.” The crowd gets a rally clap going to keep the energy up. Kevin Greene tags in and wants Flair. Greene runs through some breakdown drills and Flair shows him up by stylin' and profilin' for a bit. Flair teases a third point stance but goads Greene into dropping his guard and then Flair boots him down to a pop awesomely. WOOOOOOOOOOOO! Greene no sells some chops to shoulderblock Flair and Arn out of the ring. Greene struts and Flair is LIVID! He runs up the damn aisle all the way to the video-wall selling his anger. BUT WAIT! MACHOOOO! Macho runs him down from behind and throws him back in. Flair begs off before eating a shoulderblock. Greene with a few big clotheslines and Flair is toast. Mongo back in and he guns for the corner and Arn leaps off the apron avoiding a Flair tag in fear. Flair begs off but Mongo wants no part of it so Flair is all WOOOOOOOO and tries a shoulderblock but Mongo stands stiff. After another go-round, Flair rethinks that strategy for some chops in the corner. Mongo no-sells and Lugers up for a biel and a backdrop.
• Flair comes back with a BLATANTTHUMBTOTHEEYE but Mongo slams Flair off the top and Flair begs off. Dust: “NOW—NOW—NOW, GET IN YA STANCE! LET'S PRETEND HE'S JOHN ELWAY, NOW! YOU WANNA SACK HIM! GET IN YA STANCE!” Tony: “How about, pretend he's Troy Aikman and really go at him.” Dust: “Ohhhh, be careful where you tread.” Mongo puts the Figure Four on Flair and that's blasphemy but still gets a pop as Flair gives Mongo every benefit possible. Arn tries to break it up but Greene tackles him down. Greene now puts the F4 on Arn as the crowd is loving it. BUT WAIT! WOMAN RAKES THE EYES OF MONGO! WOOOOOOOOOO! Now, Liz and Woman back the cheerleader wives to the back while Flair chokes Greene and Arn hits the DDT on Mongo. Awesome. It would make more sense if the football wives ran Liz and Woman to the back, but who really cares? Flair tags in to work over Mongo as the heat begins while Dusty breaks out the English-to-West Texan dictionary trying to figure out if Brain should “implant” or “interact” his gameplan, but Tony won't bite.
• Flair shitcans him out so Arn can work him over before Macho comes to his rescue. Macho's advice: “FIRE UP! FIRE UP!” BUT WAIT! BRAIN COMES OVER FOR ANOTHER CHEAPSHOT! Macho chases Brain back into the heel corner and Macho's PISSED. Flair's chops go nowhere, so Arn distracts the ref while Flair hits the BLATANTLOWBLOW. The crowd GROANS at the impact. Dust: “In some circles, that's called a low blow. In some circles, that's called an equalizer.” Arn in for more choking and then a double suplex with Flair. Greene comes in but only causes more choking for Mongo. Mongo comes back with a clothesline and a double KO spot. Flair recovers to tag in Arn for more punishment. Mongo takes over with an atomic drop and Arn collides with Flair. Hot tag to Greene and he comes out flying with chop blocks and body slams. Greene hits an ugly powerslam but doesn't cover. Flair begs off before flipping to the apron off a whip for BIGFOOT MONGO to take him down, according to Dusty. Greene suplexes Flair back in but Arn clips the knee from behind again to a pop. Pretty clear split crowd, just with no booing and both halves cheering who they like. Arn blasts the knee on the apron and Dusty worries his football career is over. Arn tries a spinning toe hold but Greene boots him off. Arn still cuts him off so Flair try a F4 but Greene counters to a roll up for 1, 2, only 2.
• Flair hits the KNEEBREAKER! FIGURE FOUR! WOOOOOOOOOOOOO! ARN HELPS WITH THE LEVERAGE! BUT WAIT! MACHO! He knocks Arn off the apron and sends him into the guardrail. Crowd is feeling it. BUT WAIT! CHRIS BENOIT! FROM BEHIND, BENOIT HAS NAILED THE MACHO MAN! The numbers overcome Macho as he's beat down by the Horsemen. BUT WAIT! WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE!? DEBRA HAS COME OUT WITH WOMAN AND LIZ! Debra has the Haliburton briefcase fully of money and a Horseman shirt. HAHA! WOOOOOOOOOOO! We get a forced perspective shot of Mongo counting the money while Greene is in agony in the figure four. Dust: “OH GIVE ME A BREAK, MCMICHAELS! USE YOUR HEAD!” Greene flips it over and begs his friend for help. Greene: “MONGOOOO! MONGOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?” MONGO WAFFLES GREENE WITH THE HALIBURTON! Dusty: “WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE?!” Flair drapes the arm for 1, 2, 3 at 20:50.
• This may not be Thesz-O'Connor, but, man, it sure is a hell of a ride and a lot of fun. Mongo's turn is downright Shakespearean compared to some turns. Tony even awesomely foreshadows it on commentary bringing up that Mongo went to the Packers over the Bears for MONEY. Different than say Rodman or Malone and definitely Leno and Arquette, football players can easily step into the ring and be believable just based on size alone. LT is another obvious example of this. Greene and Mongo are two of my favorite celebrity forays into wrestling because it's kept simple and they aren't asked to do anything beyond their forte – be big, be intense, and hit some shoulder tackles. Flair and Arn do all of the heavy lifting and bump all over the place putting Greene and Mongo over. You even have a very energetic crowd and tons of starpower and commitment to the angle and story from Macho and Brain at ringside. I just loved the ride. ****1/4
• Post-match, Macho tries to restore order and stand up for truth, justice, and the American way but of course, the Horsemen put the boots and Haliburton to him. Dusty loses faith in humanity after all this. Dust: “MONEY TALKS! MONEY TALKS! MAN, I TELL YA, WE NEED TO TAKE A HARDCORE LOOK AT THIS COUNTRY AND WHAT REALLY MAKES IT ALL WORTHWHILE! THIS IS STUPID!”
• Meanwhile, Bischoff is out to answer the challenge of Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, and the Hostile Takeover. The as-yet unnamed Outsiders come out and the air is thick with tension. Bischoff accepts the challenge for BATB but first wants to know, if they are working for the WWF. Razor says HEY, IT AIN'T ABOUT THE PAST, it's about who WCW's team will be. Nacho Man? Huckster? The big-sized mang and the medium-sized mang and their mystery partner want WCW. Bischoff won't budge so Nash Jackknifes Bischoff through the stage to a HUGE reaction. This goes on for a while as paramedics attend to Bischoff and Tony leaves the booth to check on him and Dusty declares WAR with a heavy heart. Good segment but also a continuation of one of the greatest angles ever.
• WCW World Heavyweight Championship: Lex Luger vs. The Giant (c). Even Luger on his way to the ring stops to check on Bischoff and he seems visibly distracted and unable to get his head in the game on the way to the ring. Awesome stuff. Dusty continues unable to keep his composure. Tony rejoins him and fears a broken neck and Jimmy Hart even has to glance a few times back at Bischoff as he walks Giant to the ring.
• Tony says this was set-up by Giant ChokeSlamming Luger on Nitro through the table, so let's take a look.
• WCW World Heavyweight Championship: Lex Luger vs. The Giant (c).WCW Nitro 05/13/96. Bischoff plays up how everyone has been doubting Luger including Brain, but will Luger get it done on his third attempt against the big man. Giant no sells some shoulderblocks and clubs down Luger to boos. Luger ducks under and tries a slam but Giant just swats him away and Luger sells it to the floor. Back in, Luger slides out of a suplex and hits a few clotheslines but Giant no sells to hit a Oklahoma Stampede to boos. Giant chokes in the corner with his foot as Bischoff says he has legs like “oak trees.” No, no, Bischoff doesn't say BISCHOFF has legs like oak trees. He says HE meaning Giant, not Bischoff. Oh nevermind. Luger with a running surge and tries another big clothesline but Giant stands stall and tosses him out as Bischoff says that's the same move that put Yokozuna down recently. Giant press slams Luger back in as we cut to a shot of Flair sitting with Woman and Liz wining and dining at a huge banquet table. Looks like the training for Mongo and Greene is going well. Gotta carb up. Giant gets to the apron and Luger cuts him off at the pass and finally knocks him down to a pop. Giant recovers quickly to goozle Luger and drag him to the floor over near Flair's kingly set-up. Flair senses what's coming: “NOOO! NNNOOOOOO!” Giant clears the buffet and CHOKESLAMMMMMMMS LUGER THROUGH THE TABLE! The ref calls for the bell at 4:12 for the double countout. Post-match, Bischoff goes crazy trying to restore order and Jimmy Hart tries pulling Giant off Luger. HERE COMES STING! He covers Luger to shield him from further carnage. Hot crowd, hot finish. I'm sold. ***
• Now back to the PPV.
• Luger runs into a boot and Giant goes to work with... boots. After everything that's come before and after that n.W.o segment, the crowd is flat and neither wrestler even seems that jazzed up. Luger comes back with a couple clotheslines and sends Giant to the floor. Giant lands on his feet and then press slams Luger back in. Luger umph and owws his way through a comeback as Tony talks about the n.W.o (“THESE THUGS!”). Luger jumps on Giant's back for a Sleeper and Giant Frankensteins his way through selling/no-selling it. BUT WAIT! IT'S STING! And he holds off Jimmy Hart from interfering. Sting runs Hart to the back. Giant escapes to hang Luger in a Tree of Woe. Giant boots him down with a kick (Luger: “OWWWHWHWWWW!”) and another (Luger: “OWWWHWHWWWW!”) and another (Luger: “OWWWHWHWWWW!”) and a whip to the opposite corner (Luger: “OAAAAFFFFFFFFFFFFFFWWWWWWWWW!”). Giant with more CLUBBINGBLOWS to the lower back and Nick Patrick thinks Luger wants to quit but no go. Giant goes to the usual backbreaker submission. Tony: “NEVER DOUBT LUGER'S ABILITY!” Giant now gutwrenches Luger for the over the shoulder backbreaker and then tosses Luger down. TOTHEANCHORHOLD! Tony: “Nick Patrick, basically this entire match, has been asking Luger if he gives up.” Luger counters with a jawbreaker and picks up Giant for a slam but the back gives out and Giant falls on top for 2. Giant with more slow everything and goes for Sheamus's CLUBBINGBLOWBARRAGE spot. Tony tries covering for the quiet crowd by saying they are still in shock over Bischoff's injury. Luger slingshots in with a dropkick and a few LEX EXPRESS HAMMERS but Giant won't go down. Luger clips the knee a few times and Giant goes down to a knee to a decent reaction. Giant fights him off but misses a Stinger Splash and Luger calls for the Rack. He gets under Giant on the top rope and walks out with him. HE'S CARRYING THE BIG MAN! OH NO! HE COLLAPSES! Giant fires up for the ChokeSlam. He covers for 1, 2, 3 to retain at 9:39.
• That comes off like a big pile of shit after that Nitro match. On a different place on the card or with a different crowd, maybe they get more love for their feud or spots on that night, but they just weren't clicking at all and had nothing on the energy level or powerbomb through the table. Outside of a couple promos, the whole thing seemed like an afterthought all night and the match seemed like both guys thought so too. *1/2
The 411: By my count, we've got FOUR **** matches and three that are back-to-back-to-back. You've even got some watchable junk with Fire and Ice against the Steiners and DDP/Buff. And the Outsiders make an early appearance in the nWo saga. Well worth a look and then some.