Sunday, April 1, 2018

Revisiting WCW Spring Stampede 1994!

Taking a look back at one of the greatest pro wrestling pay-per-views of all-time - from Cactus Jack getting concussed with a snow shovel to Flair and Steamboat putting on an unsung classic to AARON GODDAMN NEVILLE, this show has it all!

By: Jimbo X

Well, it's WrestleMania week, which means Internet Law requires me to publish at least one rasslin' related article. Sure, it would be extremely easy (and lazy as a motherfucker) to just pick a random WM from years gone by and give it the old play-by-play treatment, but that's way too predictable. In fact, we being the supreme outside-the-box-thinkers we are, we here at The Internet Is In America has decided to celebrate the biggest WWE spectacle of the year by turning our attention to their old arch-rival ... and what may very well be the single greatest pay-per-view event they ever produced.

Mid-1993 to mid-1994 WCW has always been "peak WCW" in my eyes. Indeed, the run from Beach Blast '93 to Bash at the Beach '94 might just be the best one year run any North American rasslin' promotion had in the 1990s, if we're talking about sheer in-ring product. From the time Ric Flair returned to the company to the moment Hulk Hogan entered the fray, just about every WCW PPV was AAA material, and for my money, no WCW PPV represents the greatness of the epoch more than Spring Stampede '94.

Simply put, this shindig from the Rosemont Horizon in Chicago-Town has it goddamn all. We've got Brian Pillman and Steve Regal putting on an awesome-as-usual TV title technical showcase. We've got Dustin Rhodes and some dude who looks like a child molester making each other bleed buckets in a Bunkhouse Brawl. We've got Cactus Jack, Man Mountain Rock and the fuckin' Nasty Boys putting on one of the single greatest garbage matches in the history of any promotion ever. We've got Big Van Vader and the Big Boss Man just fucking whaling on each other in an outstanding flab-fest. And for the main course? Oh, nothing major ... just Ric Flair taking on mother-fuckin' god-damn RICKY STEAMBOAT in a 30-minute-plus war of attrition for the World Heavyweight Championship.

Yeah ... you don't need me to tell you this thing's going to be great, do you? Well, how about we cut out the jibber-jabber, fire up our old Turner Home Video copy of the show and take a trip down memory lane, why don't we?

We begin the program with Mean Gene Okerlund saying the Chicago crowd is "hanging from the rafters," which is probably untrue because that's almost assuredly a safety code violation. Here to sing the national anthem (of the U.S., duh) is AARON GODDAMN NEVILLE, who is rocking a leopard print vest, a ton of gold, a giant assed birthmark over his right eye and some fucking HUGE beefy biceps, thus looking more like an actual wrestler than 95 percent of the current WWE roster.

Pulling commentary duties tonight is Tony Schiavone and Bobby Heenan. Proving Chicago, once and for all, is a collection of classless assholes, these motherfuckers have the audacity to boo The Brain. Well, fuck them.

Our first match of the evening is Johnny B. Badd (dressed like Cowboy Curtis from Pee Wee's Playhouse, for some reason) taking on Diamond Dallas Page, back when he was more fat than muscle and still couldn't read. You know, Johnny B. Badd has to be the single blackest-looking white dude in the history of melanin. DDP gets clotheslined out of the ring early. DDP hits his foe with a great looking back body suplex and locks in a crossface. Badd counters it into a wristlock. DDP escapes but Badd hits him with a series of arm drags and you can audibily hear Page say "god damn it" on camera. DDP locks in a guillotine, but Badd bridges out of it and hits a fucking BOSS looking modified Ace Crusher, but it's only good for a two count. DDP with elbows in the corner, followed by a belly-to-back suplex. DDP with a gutwrench suplex into a gutbuster. Man, Page had some pretty good looking suplexes back in the day. Page tries to crush Badd's head with a neck wrench.  Man, Kimberly Page sure was flatter than I remember. Badd rolls out of the way and drops DDP with an inverted drop and a clotheslines. There's a back body drop and a pair of flying headscissors. A discus punch sends Page reeling to the outside - where Badd splashes him with, of all things, a fucking' plancha. Badd goes up top and lands a sunset flip on the follow-through for the fairly anticlimactic three-count.  

Well, all in all, that wasn't too bad. Both guys showed off some pretty inventive moves, and the fact that WCW actually had Badd coming out to a ripoff of  The Dukes of Hazzard theme song for a while makes me all kinds of happy. Not great by any stretch, but still a decent enough  [** 1/2] opener. (Oh, and a reminder - unlike that closeted homosexual Dave Meltzer, we here at The Internet Is In America actually has a scientific rubric to explain our star ratings, which you can evaluate anytime you want right here.)

Mean Gene Okerlun is with Jesse "The Body" Ventura, and goddamn, does he look ridiculous with that chrome dome and ponytail. Holy shit, I totally forgot that even back in 1994 WCW had Michael Buffer doing announcement gigs. Anyhoo, up next, we've got Lord Steven Regal (with Sir William) taking on Brian Pillman in a TV Championship match. Fuck, how long DID Regal have the TV title? It seems like everytime I watch a WCW PPV from 1993 to 1995, he's the perma-television-title holder. Anyway, we've got a 15-minute time limit to work with here, so be ready to pace yourself. Pillman goes after Regal early, and Pillman slaps the taste out of the Limey's mouth and we all cheer. Regal reels to the outside following an arm drag. When Pillman pursues him on the outside, Regal Pearl Harbors  ... uh, Boston Massacres him, I guess would be the better historical analogy? Back in the ring and Pillman takes Regal down with an armdrag. Then he starts slamming his arm against the metal ring post a couple of times. Pillman with some NASTY chops in the corner, to which Regal responds with an equally nasty looking European uppercut. Regal wrenches the arm and Pillman keeps slapping him. Pillman goes for a Lou Thesz press and Regal counters it with a NASTY bridging suplex.  Man, Regal is getting all kinds of heat from this Chicago audience. Regal looks like he's going for a powerbomb, of all things, but Pillman uses the ring ropes to counter it into a school boy. Regal kicks out and does a leg whip into a SICK STF variation. Regal with more European uppercuts. Pillman goes for a backslide, but Regal counters it into a muffler/crossbow stretch. Shit, that looks painful. Pillman escapes and breaks out the slaps again. Regal goes for a gutwrench powerbomb, but Pullman counters it with a hurrancanranna (but not before he conks HIMSELF on the top of the head in the process.) Regal does his patented "Regal roll" into an abdominal stretch on the ground. Now Regal's working a modified crossbow submission. Goddamn this stuff is great. Pillman gets out by absolutely CLOBBERING Regal with stiff punches, then Regal says "fuck you" and locks Brian in a single leg crab. And there's the Indian death lock. Shit, Steven Regal fucking rules. Five minutes to go until the bell sounds. Pillman back to his feet, and he drops Regal with a knife-edge chop. Regal uses a half nelson to keep Pillman grounded. More Pillman slaps. Regal fires back with some vicious elbows and a "desperation headbutt." Heenan advises Regal "pull Pillman's hair until it's straight." Pillman lands a dropkick and both men take a while to get back to their feet. Regal looks for a Boston crab but Pillman flips him over. And there's Pillman with the enziguri. Pillman goes for a monkey flip, Regal misses the fist drop and Pillman drop kicks him with a minute left. Pillman with a backbody drop and punches in bunches in the corner. Regal catches Pillman in a bear hug, they tumble over the top rope, Sir William takes a swing at Brian, and both men make it back into the ring right at zero. So yep - that means we've got ourselves a good old fashioned 15-minute draw, kiddos. 

Yeah, the ending was kinda' bullshitty and there were some botches here and there, but for the most part, that shit was entertaining as fuck. You really wouldn't expect the styles of Pillman and Regal to gel so well, but they actually put together a solid little, ground-based technical showcase there, complete with some of the stiffest striking you'll probably see in WCW outside of a Vader match. World-changing, it might not be, but I still had a hoot with this one. Let's give it a very, very solid [*** 1/2] and carry on our merry way, why don't we?

Of course, allowing another dude to smash him in the face for real with a snow shovel isn't even in the top ten list of stupid/dangerous/awesome things Mick Foley has let people do to him for money...

Up next, we've got a falls-count-anywhere "Chicago streetfight" between The Nasty Boys and the team of Cactus Jack and Maxx Payne (a.k.a., fuckin' Man Mountain Rock.) OK, I vividly remember this one from like three or four different compilation DVDs. LOL at Payne hailing "from a State of Euphoria" and Cactus literally wearing a tee-shirt reading "Superdad" to the brawl. Unsurprisingly, the Nastys go after Cactus and Payne before they even make it down the entrance ramp, and the carnage, it is ON. Payne spine busts Jerry Sags while Brian Knobbs goes after Cactus with a sawed-off pool cue. Oh shit, now Cactus has it and its time for Knobbs to chew lumber. Jack sends Knobbs over the top rope with the fattest clothesline you've ever seen in your life. Meanwhile, Sags beats the shit out of Payne with a metal folding chair. Fuck, this feels so comfy. Now Cactus has the chair and he's whaling on Knobbs. Payne hits an elbow drop on Sags. Repeatedly. Knobbs clotheslines Cactus INTO the ring. He's still bonking him with the pool cue. Sags does a one foot plancha off the guardrail onto Payne. Heenan makes a joke about Aaron Neville, which FINALLY makes sense in context now. Cactus and Sags are still going at it. Payne throws Knobbs into a souvenir stand and Knobbs clobbers him with a plastic garbage can and throws a table on top of him. We go split-screen so we can watch Cactus bite Jerry's face in the ring. Cactus goddamn WAFFLES Sags with a chair and Heenan makes ANOTHER joke about Aaron Neville. Payne grabs Knobbs and body slams him through a whole bunch of WCW merchandise. Then he tries to cram a Sting tee-shirt down Knobbs' throats, because goddamn it, back in the '90s the wrestling business knew how to do violence RIGHT. Now Knobbs is using the metal fragments of the table to beat up Payne, as Cactus gets launched over the guardrail like a 300-pound cruise missile that votes Democrat. The merchandise stand is absolutely destroyed at this point. Now Sags is bashing Payne OVER THE HEAD with a table and it makes the most satisfying "PLONK!" sound every time the balsa wood connects with skull. Cactus see-saws a table on top of Sags before setting it up on the ramp way. But LOL, here comes Knobbs with a fucking snow shovel to El Kabong him. Now Payne grabs it and fucking wrecks him with it. Then Cactus tries to piledrive Knobbs on the table but since combined they weigh about 600 pounds physics says "nah, fuck this shit" and the thing disintegrates underneath them. Knobbs back body drops Cactus off the ramp (that's a good six or seven foot fall, by the way) and Knobbs picks up the snow shovel and literally launches it at Cactus' carcass like a lawn dart. And to capstone all this mayhem, Knobbs picks up the snow shovel like the Sword of Damocles and fucking SMASHES Cactus in the face with it one more time before scooping up the 1,2,3. And because this match isn't awesome enough already, Sacks picks up the broken table, gets a running start and El Kabongs Payne ONE more time after the bell, just 'cause.

Shit, that match was INCREDIBLE. That has to be the most insane pre-ECW brawling the Big Two put on in the 1990s, and even now it's one of the greatest PLANNED train wrecks in the history of 'rasslin. The whole thing barely went ten minutes and these four fuckers didn't waste a second cramming as much over-the-top violence in there as the could. This stuff was super-entertaining in 1994, just as awe-inspiring in 2004, every bit as fun in 2014 and I'm pretty sure it's going to STILL hold up come 2024, 2034 and 2044, too. Yeah, it's hardly anything more than a glorified garbage bout, but it's easily one of the greatest garbage bouts ever. Call me crazy, but I think this is - from start to finish, every nanosecond in-between accounted for - one of the best WCW matches of the 1990s. Hell, maybe even top ten, pending I ever get around to rewatching a whole bunch of shit from the early '90s someday. I'd feel VERY comfortable giving that last one a stellar [**** 3/4] rating, and I'm not even being ironic about it, either.

Next up, we've got a bout with the United States title on the line. Out first is the challenger, THE GREAT MUTA, who comes out wearing  gaudy red sequin robe. And his adversary is the reigning, defending champion, STUNNING STEVE AUSTIN, accompanied to the ring by Col. Rob Parker (get it, because Elvis' manager was named Col. TOM Parker?) Shit, Austin's music was awesome. Of course, he still has hair at this point. LOL at Bobby Heenan talking shit about the Japanese owning Radio City Music Hall and "three quarters" of the rest of the country. Muta does some spin kicks and The Brain is gobsmacked by how big the Japanese grappler is. Muta with a headlock takedown. And there's the clean break. Austin with some hard right hands and a leap frog, but Muta counters with an abdominal stretch. The fans keep chanting for "Muta," which is pretty rare for a WCW crowd in the mid 1990s. I mean, shit, shouldn't they be screaming "U-S-A!" at the top of their lungs by now? Muta with a suplex and another headlock takedown. Austin with a backdrop and Muta counters it into a suplex. Now Bobby is saying Aaron Neville lip-synched the national anthem. Muta still has Austin in a side headlock. Muta with a shoulderblock, Austin leapfrogs and Muta hits him with a dropkick. Austin counters with a headscissors submission - which looks for all the tea in China that he's making Muta suck his dick on live television. Austin breaks the hold and rolls to the outside, where Col. Rob fans him with his slave owner hat. He grabs the tights on a school boy (I didn't know Steve was Catholic!) but Muta counters with a wristlock. Now Aaron Neville is sitting beside Bobby the Brain. Heenan, of course, acts like he's the best singer in history now that he's within earshot. Parker takes a couple of free shots at Muta after Austin dumps him to the outside. It looks like Muta's face is busted up, but since he's wearing red face paint, it's really hard to tell. Austin with a running elbow off the apron, then he makes Muta eat guardrail. LOL at Tony S. bringing up "winning Battle Bowl" as one of Muta's greatest accomplishments. Schiavone says the owner of the Blackhawks is in the house tonight. That's our cue for an extended abdominal stretch sequence. Heenan says the move doesn't look too impressive on TV, but he assures the audience it still hurts like the dickens IRL. Muta finally gets a rope break, but he whiffs on a dropkick. There's Austin with a fist drop off the middle turnbuckle. Then he chokes Muta on the ropes with his boot. Heenan makes a crack about Hillary Clinton as Muta drops Austin with a spin kick. Muta with a suplex and a standing dropkick. He goes up top and, of course, Austin dodges the attack. Austin goes for "The Hollywood and Vine," this really shitty look toe-hold, which Muta easily escapes from. Then Muta STUN GUNS Austin! Steve scrambles to a neutral corner and Muta hits him with his famous cartwheel elbow smash. Muta puts Austin on the top rope and almost breaks his own neck sticking the hurrancanrana. The crowd goes wild after Muta slugs Parker, but OOPS! He accidentally back body drops Austin over the top rope, so Muta gets disqualified. Still, that doesn't stop him from hitting a slingshot plancha on both of 'em just for the hell of it immediately after the DQ verdict is announced.

Well, that was a bit of a letdown. The hot crowd kept it interesting, buy by and large it just felt like both Austin and Muta were going through the motions. Far from being a bad match, I'd just say it was rather unremarkable, all things considered - let's give it [** 1/4] and keep chugging along.

The "International World Title" is on the line as Sting does battle with Rick Rude. Obviously, "The Man Called Sting" gets a huge pop from the crowd. And Rude gets booed, but goddamn, how anybody could boo entrance music THIS tremendous is simply beyond me. Of course, Rude immediately demands his music be cut so he can make fun of the crowd for being fat white trash, but he's interrupted by Harley Race. He says he's here on behalf of Vader and it doesn't matter who wins, his man's gonna' kick his ass regardless. This leads to Sting - rather unheroically - clobbering Race out of the blue and back body dropping Rude over the top rope. Rude begs for mercy and Sting - in these bad ass black and white pants - mercilessly pummels him anyway. Sting gets a two on a suplex. Nick Bockwinkel joins the announce team, even though he literally doesn't say a goddamn word. Sting with a headlock from the north-south position. Sting with a standing scoop slam and an elbow drop on the rebound. Two of them, actually. OK, make it three, just 'cause he's a fuckin' showboat. Sting goes back to the north-south choke. LOL at Heenan saying Sting has a Bart Simpson hairdo, because it's literally fuckin' true. Sting still working the neck crank. Rude crotches Sting on the top rope and clothelines him to the floor before. But it's not a disqualification, because like WCW ever gave a fuck about providing a logically consistent product. Rude slams Sting's head on the ramp and tosses him back into the ring. Fuck, Rude had some great punches. And his hairy, ripped abs are just so manly - not that I'm gay or anything like that. Uh, no homo. Now Rude is shaking is dick at the audience, because that's what real men do, damn it. Rude works a camel clutch. Sting goes for an electric chair drop and Rude counters it into a roll, but then Sting counters THAT into a roll, but he only gets two. Rude back on the offensive. Now he has Sting in a standing sleeper. The ref starts doing the old "I'm going to raise your arm three times" chestnut but Rude actually breaks the hold before the third drop. Apparently, he wants to beat Sting standing. He feeds Sting a couple of forearm shots but then Sting starts to, uh, Sting up? Sting lands an inverted atomic drop, then he botches a regular atomic drop. Clothelines galore. Rude lands really iffy on his leg on a backbody drop, and an errant Stinger Splash wipes out the ref. Still, the official being incapicated doesn't prevent the Stinger from locking Rude in the Scorpion Death Lock. Harley Race tries to interfere but Sting whups his ass. Then Vader comes out and Sting kicks his ass, but it allows Rude to clip Sting's knee like a no-good sonofabitch and then Race comes in with a chair and accidentally El Kabongs Rude, allowing Sting to pick up an easy 1,2,3 to win the International Title. 

Not the best match these two have had, but it was pretty entertaining for what it was ... and wasn't. The screwball finish took forever to come to fruition, though, so I reckon that's worth detracting a quarter star. Still, it's better than average fare - let's give it an admirable [** 3/4] and keep chugging along.

Shit ... with guns like those, Aaron Neville would be one of the most swoll wrestlers in the WWE today.

Now it's time for Dustin Rhodes vs. Bunkhouse Bunk in a Bunkhouse Match - which I suppose makes more sense than having them fight in a "Dustin Rhodes Match." Bunkhouse Buck, by the way, is Jimmy Golden, and to his credit, he literally looks like a dirty scummy chi-mo IRL, so props to him for playing the gimmick to its fullest. Also, because he's managed by Col. Rob Parker, the keep showing this one guy in the audience holding a bucket of KFC chicken and  - surprise - he's actually white. Dustin Rhodes makes a bee line for Bunk, literally flying over the top rope to give that motherfucker a clothesline before the bell even sounds. Now it's time for some heavy duty punches. Both guys are wearing blue jeans and cowboy boots, by the way. Also - I have no goddamn clue what a "bunkhouse" is, so don't even bother asking. Oh, and they also have their fists taped and one coal-miner's glove on the hand of their choosing. LOL at Rhodes wearing a tee-shirt that just says "Texas." Rhodes pokes Bunk in the eyes but he crashes and burns on a flying crossbody. Col. Rob chokes him on the outside, then Bunk clobbers his ass with one-by-two, which is a lot like a two-by-four, except, uh, only half as much. Rhodes does a full 360 rotation on a Buck clothesline. Then he chokes that honky motherfucker like a motherfucker. Rhodes takes a wild swing and falls down, allowing Buck to stomp the dog shit out of Rhodes with his cowboy boots. Oh shit, Rhodes is bleeding buckets. Huh - the more I look at Buck, the more he kinda' reminds me of Kenny Omega. Shit, he COULD be his dad, for all we know. Rhodes kicks Buck in the face a few times and falls back down. He reaches into his britches and pulls out a white piece of paper. Heenan wonders if it's his will. Nope, it's that good old fashioned "white powder," because apparently it's impossible to make "baby powder" sound threatening as a weapon. Buck pulls off his belt and starts lashing Rhodes like a runaway slave and Bobby makes a funny about how if Dusty had beat the shit out of his kid when he was younger, he probably wouldn't be in this mess. And there's Bunk with the old "kick to the cojones" chestnut. Man, this stuff is just grimy as fuck. Buck punts Dustin in the stomach. Repeatedly. Buck gets stuck on the top turnbuckle and that's our cue for Dustin to punt the shit out of that asshole. And there's the elbow smash to the noggin. Rhodes pulls off his belt and he clobbers Buck something wicked. Rhodes takes his cowboy boot off, climbs the top rope and hits Buck right in the middle of the forehead with it. Uh, wouldn't it have been easier ... and more effective ... to just jump on his head like Low-Ki or something? Rhodes rips Buck's shirt off and starts whipping Buck like Kunta Kinte. And there's another clothesline over the top rope. Now Buck is bleeding like a stuck pig. Heenan keeps talking about how much he likes "this brand of wrestling." Buck has a foreign object of some kind. He misses swinging it and Rhodes climbs the turnbuckle and elbows Buck in the head ten times, shakes his dick in his face, clotheslines him in the adjacent corner and bulldogs that fucker right out of his shoes. Parker interferes and Rhodes suplexes him into the ring and starts whipping him. Buck sneaks up behind Dustin for a schoolboy (just like Michael Jackson would!) but he only gets a two. Rhodes and Buck have a GREAT brawl in the middle of the ring and Dustin puts Buck down with another elbow smash. Parker gives Dustin a pair of brass knuckles, and of course, he clocks Rhodes right on the kisser to score the easy pinfall.

Well, that was some glorious sleaze right there, wasn't it? There are better all out brawls to be found from WCW - hell, including the Jack/Payne vs. Nastys donnybrook from earlier in the show - but this is still an immensely fun little bloodbath. It's *probably* one of the top 20 matches of Rhodes career and easily the best one of Bunkhouse Buck's career. Hell, come to think of it, I'm not sure I've seen *any* other Bunkhouse Buck match, the more I think about it. Let's call it a solid [****] and soldier forth.

Jesse Ventura is in the locker room with Rick Rude and he still looks goddamn ridiculous with that skullet-ponytail combination. Rude and Vader get into a shoving match and the Nastys have to break it up and we come THIS close to seeing Jerry Sags' testicles on live television. 

Up next, it's THE BOSS vs. VADER. And yes, "The Boss" is indeed THE BIG BOSS MAN. I'm pretty sure this is close to being the last match he wrestled under with that moniker, since the WWF was REALLY anxious to file copyright infringement suits back then. Anyhoo, this is billed as a "Gigantic Grudge Match," because why not? Vader, of course, fucking rules as always, so I've nothing to add to that, I suppose. Harley Race holds up the Boss and Vader goes to splash him on the ramp and, of course, the Boss ducks and Vader creams his own manager. The Boss (in a snazzy all black uniform) clotheslines Vader into the ring and he big  boots Vader back OUT of the ring because this is all about getting as much man meat and flubber flying around as possible. They brawl on the ramp some more and Vader drops the Boss with a hard jab. Then he slams Boss back into the ring. He takes a running start, jumps over the top rope and the Boss gets his knees up on the attempted splash. The Boss lands a couple of elbow drops and he clotheslines Vader to the outside again. Vader takes a WILD bump over the guardrail into the front row of fans. Then the Boss drops Vader on the rail, throat first. Man, WCW NEVER let anybody fuck up Vader this bad. It's hard to believe the company wanted to push the Boss Man THAT much, huh? The Boss with a headbutt, then he slings Vader into the turnbuckle post. Boss goes for a body slam and he gets it. LOL at Tony S. saying Vader weighs 450 pounds. Then they have an AWESOME slug fest. Goddamn, Vader had some brutal looking punches. The Boss takes a fucked up backdrop to the outside. Vader is bleeding heavily from his eye. God damn it, Schiavone is STILL talking about Aaron Neville. Vader suplexes the Boss back into the ring. VADER SPLASH, YOU MOTHER OF FUCKERS. Vader with more clubbing blows in the corner. Good, his jabs were the tits. Boss starts punching back and he connects on a sidewalk slam. The Boss lands a clothesline and Vader gets a boot to the face, followed by a fucking GRISLY lariat. Vader's eye looks like something out of a horror movie at this point. Boss launches Vader off the top rope and goes for a superplex. He botches it into a DDT then he climbs up the top rope hisself. He tries to clothesline him but he hooks it into a weird, shitty looking DDT at the very end. He goes up top again and this time Vader converts it into a power slam. Fuck, this match rules. VADER SPLASH, BUT THE BOSS KICKS OUT. Vader goes to the well again. AND THEN HE HITS A GODDAMN TEN OUT OF TEN MOONSAULT FOR THE 1, 2, 3. God damn it, that thing almost brought a tear to my eye it was so awesome. In the post-fight, the Boss grabs a nightstick and goes Rodney King on Harley Race, resulting in Nick Bockwinkel chastising him for excessive force. Meanwhile, Vader's bloody, flabby ass celebrates in the ring with all of his fat rolls jiggling and it's still freakin' awesome. In the locker room, Bockwinkel chews out the Boss for being a bad sport and LITERALLY takes his name away from him.

Yep. Nothing says "I'm an accomplished adult male" quite like holding up a KFC bucket and flipping off people pretending to hurt each other for a living.

Now that's the kind of wrestling that just don't exist no more. None of this flashy, soyboy, hippity-flippity bullshit, just two big old boys smacking the tar out of each other and bleeding buckets for the LOVE OF THE ART. Vader goddamn rules no matter what and when the Boss was allowed to go, he could flat out GO. A match of the year it may not be, but there's no denying this one was a fun as shit [*** 3/4] caliber match.

Time for the main event. Ricky Steamboat comes out to his awesome WCW music even though he's still wearing that stupid WWF "The Dragon" costume with the lizard wings and the whole fire-breathing shtick. And in the most '90s thing that has ever happened ever, the camera pans to a guy with a disposable camera taking a picture next to a guy holding a sign featuring Beavis and Butt-head calling Ricky Steamboat cool. Another guy has a sign that reads "This steamboat will run over nature," which, uh doesn't make any damn sense. And of course, Flair comes out to the theme song from "2001," or, as it is more commonly called, "fucking Ric Flair's music, motherfucker." Michael Buffer tells the crowd now is the appropriate time to rumble and pre-N.W.O. Nick Patrick is the referee. Buffer brings up Steamboat beating Flair at the Chi-Town Rumble five years earlier. He gets a surprisingly mixed reaction from the audience. Yeah, this is DEFINITELY a Ric Flair crowd here tonight. I love Heenan calling Flair Red Grange, Kareem Abdul-Jabar, Wayne Gretzky and Hugh Hefner rolled into one human being. And to his credit, Tony S. does an admirable job recapping the famous Flair/Steamboat rivalry without coming off as too marky (New Japan announcers, take fucking note.) We get some solid arm drags and pseudo-chain wrestling to begin. Flair with a front face-lock and a quick breather against the ropes. "This people in Chicago would boo the Easter Bunny," Heenan says. "They'd *mug* the Easter Bunny." Another collar and elbow tie-up. Steamboat with a shoulder-block takedown. More good ground grappling, with both men working some great headlocks and scissor takedowns. And holy shit, Steamboat just slapped THE TASTE out of Flair's mouth, and Ric sells the shit out of it the way only he can. A ton of leapfrogs from Ricky and then we get a power slam. He hits Flair with two funky headscissors and two beautiful dropkicks, completing the combo with a flying karate chop off the top rope. You know, I never understood why it was illegal to back bodydrop a motherfucker over the top rope in WCW, but clotheslining a sumbitch over the top rope was perfectly legal. Flair with an armlock and he keeps throwing Steamboat to the mat. And now, it's time for CHOPS. God, this is fuckin' terrific. Flair momentarily exits the ring and re-enters the fray. Steamboat with a side headlock takedown and a ring rope assisted bulldog. Heenan drops a reference to People's Court, for some inexplicable reason. Steamboat with a shoulderblock and another side headlock. Now THIS is a technical showcase, kids. I LOVE how Steamboat slaps Flair's face while he has him in a headlock. Steamboat keeps spamming the headscissors. Shit, Flair used to have some DEADLY sounding chops back in the day. Steamboat still working a neck crank. More shoulder blocks from Steamboat and Ricky skins the cat ... that sick bastard. Ricky only gets a two-count on the attempted schoolboy. You know, this match has been about 50 percent nothing but headlocks but its still better than 95 percent of what the WWF put out in the 1990s. Steamboat STILL has that headlock/neck crank submission locked in. Flair tries for an atomic drop but Steamboat blocks it. Steamboat with a drop toe hold and he goes right back to the headlock. Heenan wonders why Flair's opponents never try to take his legs out, which come to think of it, is a really great kayfabe observation. Flair with shoulder charges in the corner. Ricky whiffs on a dropkick and Flair chops the SHIT out of that motherfucker in the corner. God, this is so comfy. Flair hits a knee drop. "I can smell pineapple juice," Heenan hilariously comments. Flair with chops galore and another knee drop. Just a two count. Flair keeps trying to go for a pinfall, but Steamboat kicks out like 17 times in a row. Flair with a NICE spinning elbow off the ropes. Steamboat retaliates with some HARD knife edge chops, and Steamboat is MORE than willing to return the favor. Flair ducks a chop and sends Steamboat and himself reeling to the outside on a crossbody. Flair goes for a piledriver on the outside and Steamboat flips him over. Ricky goes for a flying clothesline but he (ironically enough) winds up clotheslining himself on the metal guard rail. Flair throws him back into the ring. Flair goes up top, so of course Steamboat pursues him and superplexes that motherfucker. Naturally, it's only good for a two count. Flair does his patented turnbuckle bump and Steamboat chops his ass off the canvas. And there's flying karate chop to the outside for good measure. Flair begs Steamboat for mercy and Ricky punches Ric ten times in the corner, per the wrestling constitution. FLAIR FLOP TIME! But Flair gets his foot on the rope on the pin attempt. Steamboat gets dumped to the outside and Ric goes for a sunset flip - but Ric counters by punching him right in the goddamn face and it is glorious. Ric goes for a knee drop and Steamboat COUNTERS IT INTO A FIGURE FOUR! Flair keeps trying to get a rope break, and when he can't get it, he just pokes Steamboat in the eyes. Flair is hobbling around the ring. He tries to suplex Steamboat back into the ring but Ricky reverses it into a fallaway pin attempt. After that we have about a dozen near-fall counters with reversals, backslides and headlocks galore and it is goddamn amazing. Steamboat with a small package and Flair begs for his life once more. Steamboat backs Flair into a corner and Ric chops him good. Steamboat shoves the ref out of the way and starts throwing a million billion backhand chops. Flair flops his way through the ropes onto the ramp. Steamboat goes for a suplex. Flair counters it, then Steamboat counters the counter and chops Flair back into the ring. Ric takes another wacky turnbuckle bump and Flair gets his foot up on a flying karate chop attempt. This is an OUTSTANDING match. This one black kid in the crowd rubs Stemboat's shoulders and its really, really funny looking. Flair lands some chops, Steamboat fires back with some chops of his own. Steamboat hits a flying crossbody off the top rope but Flair kicks out. Flair chops Steamboat again and lands a snapmare. He goes up top and Steamboat launches his ass halfway across the ring. Ricky goes up top for another splash but Flair rolls out of the way. FIGURE FOUR TIME MOTHERFUCKER! Steamboat tries to block it, but he can't prevent Ric from fully sinking that fucker in. Steamboat, however, eventually makes it to the ropes. Ric immediately starts kicking Ricky's knees and goes for the Figure Four again. Steamboat rolls up Ric, but it is only good for a two count. Steamboat with a backslide - just a two. Steamboat goes for a superplex, but first he's got to punch Ric fifteen times in the face. And he sticks the 'plex. Both men are splayed out on the canvas as the ref administers a ten count. Ricky makes a cover, and Flair KICKS OUT! The ref gets bumped to the outside, but Flair esacpes the pin attempt anyway. Steamboat has an awesome bearhug/chicken wing submission locked in and he falls down, allowing Ricky to chalk up the three count? Except wait a minute, both men's shoulders were down for the count? Here comes Nick Bockwinkel to render an official verdict. LOL, he says Flair won because, technically, he was on top of Steamboat at the time of the pinfall. Some piddly looking fireworks go off and the fans boo the bullshit finish. Bockwinkel tries to explain how Flair won the match, but his explanation makes zero sense whatsoever. Well, even when WCW was awesome, they STILL had to find ways to fuck things up, didn't they?

The goddamn 1990s defined in one picture.

Anyhoo, that was a SUPERB main event, even with the screwy finish. Granted, it wasn't as good as their 1989 trilogy, but there's no denying it was some of the best pure, no-bullshit-need-apply mat wrestling of the decade. I'd EASILY consider this one of the best WCW PPV main events ever, and an easy [**** 3/4] classic that, for some reason, doesn't get anywhere near as much love from the smarks as you'd imagine. BTW, Flair and Steamboat had a follow-up bout on the ensuing week's edition of WCW Saturday Night, which was also pretty fucking great (and with a far more conclusive finish.) If you haven't, definitely go out of your way to check that one out, too - it's one of the best TV 'rasslin bouts you'll ever see, regardless of the decade.

Needless to say, with one of the best all-out brawls of the decade and one of the decade's best scientific clinics ... plus a great man-meat festival with Vader/Boss Man, a scummy Hepatitis-C-spreading blood bath between pre-Goldust and some registered sex offender looking fucker, not to mention a way better than it had any right to be "throwaway" Pillman/Regal time filler ... on the same show, this is EASILY one of the best WCW PPVs of the 1990s, if not the company's absolute best ever

WrestleMania 34 might be really, really good, and it might not. Who knows with the product in this day and age. What we know for sure, however, is that this particular PPV is all kinds of awesome, and if you're in dire need of some good, old-fashioned, Southern-style, lights-out, hide-the-women-and-children pro RASSLIN' the way God intended, this is pretty much the most reliable pick-me-up I can think of.

This is a show WELL worth going out of your ways to experience, folks. If for whatever stupid-ass reason you never saw it back in the day, by all means, hit up the Vimeo or the DailyMotions or the Pornhubs or whatever you kids are using nowadays and see if this tape is still making the rounds.

Trust me; you won't regret investing the time to find - and enjoy watching every second of - this all-time mat masterpiece.


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