Wednesday, 29 August 2018

WWE Monday Night RAW Review // 27th August 2018 // Reigns & Strowman vs. Ziggler & McIntyre

This week's RAW was a weird one as WWE looked to build a number of big shows at the same time. We got a major surprise heel turn, a classic Intercontinental Championship match between Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens, Trish Stratus making a surprise appearance to confront Elias in her hometown, as well as Baron Corbin's first week as Acting RAW General  Manager. But was it any good? Lets take a look!

The opening segment was as pretty paint by numbers situation, giving us both a main event for the next PPV, Hell in a Cell, as well as the evening, as Braun Strowman officially announced he'd be cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase against Universal Champion Roman
Reigns in San Antonio on 16th September, before Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre challenged the Monster and the Big Dog to a match. The interaction between Reigns and Strowman was decent enough, the two clearly still have some chemistry from their surprise hit rivalry last year, whilst the Toronto crowd reacted well to a few well-placed verbal jabs. After Ziggler & McIntyre interrupted though the segment lost any of it's sting. The pair seemed to talk for a long time without actually saying anything, firstly complaining about Ziggler losing to Seth Rollins and then rambling on about wanting to face Reigns and Strowman for reasons that they didn't really make clear, all while getting little to no reaction from the crowd. Things weren't made better when Acting General Manager Baron Corbin came out and made all the confirmed matches official, taking his sweet time in doing so. I get what they're going for with Corbin, with him attempting to take credit for the work done by everyone else, but he's got so little charisma that he ended up sucking more air out of a segment that was already dying. The entire segment went about 15 minutes, felt like 25 and could've been done in 8 or 9.

No Disqualification Match – Acting RAW General Manager Baron Corbin def. Finn Balor via Pinfall

Under the section labelled “Feuds that have gone on way too long”, we have Baron Corbin and Finn Balor in their fourth singles match since the middle of July. This wasn't a feud that anyone was clamouring to see in the first place. The match itself was okay, some good back and forth in the later stages, once we got past an endless stretch of the same weardown hold from Corbin. It was clear to see that the two have been working together regularly from the couple of slick sequences they put together during the second half of the match, with some good variations on stuff like Corbin's Bossman clothesline spot. The highlight came from a slingblade on the outside from Balor that lead into the ad break, whilst a Tope con Hilo in the closing stages also looked great. The finish was used as a way to establish Corbin as Acting General Manager further, with the Lone Wolf causing a Disqualification with a steel chair, only to announce he'd forgotten to make announce that the bout was No DQ, following up with another chair shot and an End of Days for the win. You'd expect that this feud is finally done now, but with Balor unable to get the victory without the Demon it's hard to see where he goes next, especially if Corbin is staying as AGM for any amount of time.

Despite the match being six weeks away still, we got a package looking at Triple H vs. The Undertaker at Super Show-down with Ric Flair, Christian, Mick Foley, Jeff Jarrett and Kevin Nash discussing what we could see and who they thought would win.

We learned that Dana Brooke would be facing Sasha Banks next in her first RAW singles match since November 2017 in a backstage segment with Titus Worldwide crew. There seemed to be some tension teased between Titus O'Neil and Apollo Crews, with Crews confused at O'Neil's optimism for Brooke's chances.

Singles Match – Sasha Banks (with Bayley) def. Dana Brooke (with Titus O'Neil & Apollo Crews) via submission

In the first of a number of short matches on the show, Banks put Brooke away with the Banks Statement in two and a half minutes. For what it was, I found this relatively entertaining. Brooke going for a number of roll up attempts early made storyline sense, whilst the wrestler, who has consistently been towards the lower end of the female performers since debuting in 2015, actually didn't look awful here, hitting a nice looking enziguiri, pulling out some flippy type stuff, before going for her Samoan Driver finish and getting caught with a backstabber. I'm not quite sure what this match was for, with very little storyline development, but with Evolution not to far away it makes sense to give some depth to a couple of women at the far reaches of the division to fill out that card.

Backstage, there was an interaction between Dean Ambrose and Jinder Mahal that filled sometime and would eventually lead to a match in the third hour.

The first very good segment of the show was next as we got promos from Intercontinental Champion Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens, with the latter accepting an open challenge from the former. Rollins promo was alright, not offering much beyond crowd pandering, but effective enough to keep Toronto engaged and getting pops when necessary, before issuing the challenge. Owens on the other hand was on fire, full of anger at not having Sami Zayn by his side anymore, like Rollins had Dean Ambrose at SummerSlam, whilst also discussing how RAW hadn't been as much fun as he'd expecting. The Toronto crowd was super hot for their fellow Canadian, that is until he mentioned he's from Quebec and began speaking exclusively in French to a chorus of boos. It was timed to perfection with Owens spending enough time reeling in the crowd to get them to believe in his cause, only to turn on them just before the match began. Although with the skill and fire of the segment of his babyface promo it's curious that Owens has yet to be seen in this role regularly since his very first match with WWE at NXT Takeover: R Evolution back in December 2014.

Singles Match for Intercontinental Championship – Seth Rollins def. Kevin Owens via pinfall to retain

A superb television match here, with Kevin Owens and Seth Rollins putting on what was almost certainly their best singles match in WWE, and definitely the best match on the show. Part of why this match worked better for me than their series over the Universal Championship in Autumn 2016 was that Rollins has grown and grown as a babyface since that point, becoming arguably the best performer on the main roster since then, honing his moveset, whilst also making better use of his impeccable selling. That was on full display here as Owens targetting the Architect's shoulder, including a lovely senton onto the afflicted area. A couple of tremendous sequences in the middle of the bout with Rollins looking to hit either the Curb Stomp or the Ripcord Knee, only for Owens to block with an attack to the shoulder, would eventually string together into Owens locking in a Crossface and then modifying the submission to block Rollins arm reaching the rope, in a well-done dramatic moment was a personal highlight. Some back and forth series of reversals that would conclude with Owens hitting a Stunner as an answer to Rollins' Avadra Kedavra was brilliant in a completely different way, more reminiscent of their indy work than their early WWE series, as both men continued to show their versatility as in-ring performers. I would have liked to have seen Rollins' shoulder used further in the closing stages, as whilst Rollins still sold well the injury was put on the back burner in the final third, whilst playing very little role in the eventual finish. I think that with a little work on that this bout could've been pushed even further. However, it was super cool to see Owens pull out a double jump moonsault from his bag of tricks and, of course, missing the move would lead to Rollins retaining his belt at the first time of asking, collecting a W with a Curb Stomp to bring a stellar Intercontinental Championship match to an end.

Backstage, Braun Strowman handed his Money in the Bank briefcase to Baron Corbin, signalling that his cash-in at Hell in a Cell is now official.

There was an intriguing angle post-match as a frustrated Owens, who has struggled for victories since moving to RAW in April, sat in the ring, muttered the words “I quit” before slowly walking to the back. Like most, I'm very intrigued to see what happens next, which is the most important part of any weekly wrestling show.

Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre managed to improve on their promo from the opening segment in an interview with Renee Young. The pair bought a whole heap more energy to their performances, whilst also seeming to have a better idea of why they were challenging two of the most dominant performers on the RAW brand. This boiled down to the idea that Reigns' body wasn't ready to compete following gruelling matches with Brock Lesnar and Finn Balor last week, whilst Braun Strowman's mind wasn't ready to compete after two thwarted Money in the Bank cash-ins in the same time period.

Tag Team Match – The Revival def. RAW Tag Team Champions The B-Team via pinfall

The B-Team's undefeated streak finally came to an end at the hands of Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder this week as The Revival went over Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas in a rematch from SummerSlam Kick-Off. This was a fairly basic tag match in structure, failing to get any real reaction out of the crowd. A lot of the action felt contrived and clunky, including a couple of roll-up spots that went on for way to long and killed an energy the match could have had. WWE seems to have no idea what made either team popular and even less of an idea about how it wants to present them to it's audience. Are the B-Team a comedy babyface act? Because there was very little in the way of shenanigan or attempted shenanigan from them here. This meant that the Revival's cutting off the ring schtick simply comes across as boring, because there's little to no promise of anything exciting or entertaining later on in the match. With The Revival's act, if the crowd aren't behind the face in peril then it falls flat. It's difficult to see how RAW's tag division can recover at the moment, as whilst there is some talent there, especially in Dawson & Wilder, the creative and attention to detail, both big and small, simply isn't there.

An entertaining segment saw Trish Stratus interrupt Elias, after The Drifter began ripping into Stratus' hometown of Toronto. Neither performer was without their slip-ups during their promos, but both has enough charisma to keep the crowd and the vocal talent to roll with their mistakes. There was a couple of really well-written lines in this with Elias making a reference to Torontonian Drake's song “Started from the Bottom”, whilst a pair of barbs from each wrestler later on in the promo got great pops from the crowd, even if it did feel like they were papering over that they had no legitimate chemistry. A Stratus slap closed the segment, with Ronda Rousey and Natalya's entrance for the next match being used as a way to swiftly move on from the fact that there wasn't any real ending in place.

Before, Natalya took on Alicia Fox, we got to here from Alexa Bliss, with the revelation that she was revoking or invoking or devoking perhaps, her rematch clause for Rousey's RAW Women's Championship at Hell in a Cell. Bliss also reintroduced Mickie James who hadn't been seen for quite a while, for a nice pop.

Singles Match – Natalya (with RAW Women's Champion Ronda Rousey & WWE Hall of Famer Trish Stratus) def. Alicia Fox (with Alexa Bliss & Mickie James) via submission.

A quick and simple win for Natalya in her home-country in her first match since her father, Jim Neidhart, passed away. Natty won with a Sharpshooter in a few minutes and whilst there was nothing of note in the bout, it's difficult to complain about WWE allowing for such a sentimentally sweet moment. This was made especially heart-warming/heart-breaking by Natty pointing to the sky and proclaiming the match was for her Dad afterwards. WWE doesn't always handle death well on it's television products, here's hoping that Jim Neidhart becomes an exception and makes a new rule.

Backstage, Natalya, Rousey and Stratus were met by the Bella Twins. Brie and Nikki talked awkwardly for a few seconds, before it was revealed they'd be returning to action on next week's show. Yay. (For fact fans, this will be their first TV match as a duo since the 17th October 2015 edition of Main Event, where they went over Team B.A.D.'s Naomi and Tamina on a show that also included Stardust vs. Fandango and Ryback vs. Adam Rose!)

Another look at what various WWE alumni thinks about The Undertaker facing Triple H in Melbourne in October. This time we heard from “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Booker T, The Big Show and Diamond Dallas Page, which was nice.

In a surprisingly entertaining segment, Baron Corbin informed Bobby Lashley that he had a match next, but that Corbin couldn't remember who he'd booked him against. I got a kick out of Lashley laughing it off, pretending to be pals with Corbin whilst slapping him on the shoulder. Corbin later informed Lashley that his match was a handicap match once the former Impact World Champion had got in the ring. I'm interested to see how long WWE pushes Corbin as the heel GM using his power irresponsibly and what the actual pay-off is, considering his boss is still the villainous RAW Commissioner Stephanie McMahon.

Two-on-One Handicap Match – Bobby Lashley def. The Ascension via pinfall

This was a thing. A rather stupid piece of booking, as Lashley going over two guys who haven't looked like a threat in years, but are also considered to have never been booked correctly since leaving NXT, isn't going to help him get over, whilst neither placing him in a feud with Baron Corbin. With the RAW tag team division a mess it's irresponsible to kill another team off in what was a pretty throwaway contest.

Singles Match – Dean Ambrose def. Jinder Mahal via pinfall

Completing a trifeca of short matches, Jinder Mahal's run at the top of the SmackDown brand seemed a distance memory as he lost cleanly to Dean Ambrose in under five minutes. Mahal had pretty much the whole match, controlling after a distraction from Sunil Singh, leading to dull and forgettable contest that offered very little in the way of entertainment. Ambrose's comebacks were repeatedly cut off by Mahal, the Lunatic Fringe reversed a Khallas attempt with a Dirty Deeds. Out of the three matches The Shield members had on the show, this was the weakest and ultimately most pointless, coming across as generic time-filler. I suppose Ambrose needed to be continued to be reintroduced to the audience and a quick win over a former World Champion is a solid way to do, but the delivery came off as lazy and unimaginative.

In the lockeroom, Braun Strowman and Roman Reigns had a confrontation, although seemed to be on the same page before the main event.

Tag Team Match – WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns & “Mr. Monster in the Bank” Braun Strowman vs. Dolph Ziggler & Drew McIntyre ended in a no contest

Less of a match and more of a set-up for a shock conclusion to the show, as Braun Strowman turned on Roman Reigns, appearing to side with Dolph Ziggler & Drew McIntyre as the trio turned away both Dean Ambrose and Intercontinental Champion Seth Rollins, before inflicting further punishment on Reigns. The match was alright up until this point, as Reigns battled against Ziggler and McIntyre as the face-in-peril with McIntyre and Ziggler continuing to work well as a team and showing plenty of intensity and physicality throughout as they thwarted various Reigns comeback attempts. But I'm not sure how effective the angle was or if it was the right decision to turn Strowman at this point. The Toronto crowd didn't seem to know what to make of what was happening, especially at the start, when it was very unclear where the angle was heading, but even then the reaction from them didn't match what was going on in the ring, mostly because nobody wanted to see a Braun Strowman heel-turn just 10 months after he became a babyface. Following the Becky Lynch heel-turn at SummerSlam, this feels like another case of WWE being out-of-touch with what it's core audience wants to see and how it is connected with the performers in the ring.

There's intrigue from this reviewer in how this plays out next week and going forward and it has been a while since RAW ended with a genuinely surprising moment. There is also potential in a Strowman/Ziggler/McIntyre vs. The Shield match to main event RAW with variational singles match also having promise whilst also filling valuable minutes of content. Like any good episodic TV ending, I was left asking questions about how the relationships between the characters were effected and whether there was an full and proper alliance between the villainous trio or whether this was one-off or month-long partnership, but I was also left questioning whether the timing was right, whether the correct person had made the turn and how WWE's insistence of keeping Reigns as the babyface star of the show could negatively impact on not just Strowman, but on Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose also.


As episodes of RAW go, this was high on big impact moments and talking points, but low on good quality content across the three hours, with some horrible booking seen throughout. Kevin Owens and Seth Rollins stole the show with their Intercontinental Championship match, whilst Owens' walk-out was probably the most interesting storyline development. Alongside this we had Braun Strowman's questionable heel turn and alignment with Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler, whilst we also got a surprise appearance from Hall of Famer Trish Stratus in a fun appearance with Elias. We also got a look at Baron Corbin in the role of Acting General Manager for the first time, something which feels like it could be fun in the short term, but could get tiresome if a pay-off doesn't come by Survivor Series at the very latest. A nice moment for Natalya and a surprisingly competent performance from Dana Brooke aside, the rest of the show was a mix between filler matches and dull matches with bad booking as WWE continued to struggled to know what to do with it's tag teams and Bobby Lashley.

Try to check out the gem of a match between Rollins and Owens in full, but I'm sure all of the moments worth seeing from the rest of the show are available on YouTube.

Review by James Marston

Monday, 25 June 2018

Retro Review // TNA Lockdown 2006

April 2006, Gnarls Barkley's Crazy was blasting out, everyone was about to die of bird flu and TNA were hosting Lockdown 2006. Gosh golly, it was a mad time to be about. The second ever all steel cage event was still a pretty novel concept at the time, with the show being headlined by Abyss challenging for Christian Cage's NWA World Heavyweight title and a Lethal Lockdown match with Sting being joined by AJ Styles, Rhino & Ron “The Truth” Killings to battle a Jeff Jarrett-led team that included America's Most Wanted (James Storm & Chris Harris) & Scott Steiner. But how was Lockdown 2006? Here's our review.

Brutality meets Hardcore”, the opening package throws up random words, focusing on Christian Cage vs. Abyss for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship, Samoa Joe defending his X Division title against Sabu and the Lethal Lockdown match pitting a Jeff Jarrett-led team against a group headed up by Sting. This promo is too much, man.

Screw McMahonism, I'm a TNAthiest” reads a sign in the crowd, as Mike Tenay and Don West welcome us to the Impact Zone in Orlando, Florida.

Six Man Tag Team World X Cup Preview Steel Cage Match - Team Japan (Minoru, Hirooki Goto & Black Tiger) vs. Team USA (Sonjay Dutt, Alex Shelley & Jay Lethal)

A sweet opener here with six talented young performers combining well to present an exciting preview to that year's World X Cup. Whilst the steel cage was barely used and the match would probably have been much better without, the six lads worked well within the confines, working a number of tight sequences and bringing in a number of sick fucking tag moves that hyped the crowd up well. Team USA worked particularly well together with the majority of their offence coming in short bursts of double and triple team offence, highlighted early on with a wheelbarrow gutbuster combination from Jay Lethal & Alex Shelley that was followed up with a lionsault from Sonjay Dutt. Whilst Team Japan would get the win with a tasty bridging Tiger suplex from Black Tiger (better known as Rocky Romero in New Japan Pro Wrestling) on Jay Lethal, I feel like Team Japan still could've been better presented in the main body of the match, often coming across as a little generic whilst Team USA got the majority of the exciting offence in. Lethal showed signs of the world-class performer he'd develop into in Ring of Honor, pulling out a good variety of action with his three opponents and looking the smoothest and most reliable performer on Team USA, whilst also doing a great job of selling his arm following a sequence that concluded with him getting caught in Minoru's signature submission, the Minoru Special (flying cross armbreaker).

Next PPV – On 14th May at Sacrifice, all six men would compete in the World X Cup Final Gauntlet match that also featured Eric Young, Incognito, Johnny Devine, Jushin Thunder Liger, Magno, Puma, Shocker, Tyson Dux and eventual winner Petey Williams. This would be the final TNA PPV appearances for both Hirooki Goto & Black Tiger.

Mike Tenay and Don West chatted a bit and showed us some of the matches that were still to come, whilst pushing the idea that Lockdown was a unique show because of the all steel cage gimmick

Jeremy Borash pushed the new TNA action figure set, before interviewing a Team 3D who all very intense with Brother Ray proclaiming he'd rather work for “that company in Conneticut” than hear the Canadian national anthem...also Latte Zbssskfko to ask Borash something, it was unclear what was going on.

Steel Cage Match - “The Fallen Angel” Christopher Daniels vs. “Formerly Known as Low-Ki” Senshi

Considering the pedigree of the talent involved, this match comes out feeling surprisingly throwaway and whilst it's still a pretty good outing, it doesn't come close to reaching the potential that a match between Christopher Daniels and Senshi had at this time when looked at on paper. This is partly down to a relatively basic match structure and a couple of teases of big highspots that ultimately came to nothing. Neither man seemed completely into the bout, perhaps feeling pissed at being chucked into the second match on the card with no build and this leads to a middle section with little direction and a surprising lack of high-quality sequences. There was however some strong psychology at work in the opening with Senshi taking the action to Daniels with the commentary team pushing that Daniels had been caught off guard by his former Triple X stablemate answering his open challenge with the former and future Low Ki unloading some stiff strikes on the Fallen Angel, including a brutal looking double foot stomp. The highlight of the match was a strong near fall for Daniels off a Best Moonsault Ever, but the finish ended up falling flat for this reviewer as Senshi escaped an Angel's Wings attempt into a pinning combination picking up the win with his feet on the middle turnbuckle. I've probably been a bit hard on this match and I'd still say it would be worth checking out, but if you're pushed for time and want an example of a singles match between the two then you'd probably be better served by watching their encounter from earlier in 2006 at Ring of Honor's Tag Wars event.

Next PPV – At Sacrifice, Christopher Daniels would tag with AJ Styles in a losing effort against America's Most Wanted for the NWA World Tag Team titles. On the other hand, Senshi missed Sacrfice but would return for Slammiversary in June, winning a six way elimination bout that also included Alex Shelley, Jay Lethal, Petey Williams, Shark Boy and Sonjay Dutt.

Jeremy Borash had a chat with “Bullet” Bob Armstrong and the James Gang ahead of Armstrong's arm wrestling match with Konnan...there's a lot of weird cliches that I'm sure sounded good when they came up with them...

The promo package for the Arm Wrestling match is an absolute dumpster fire, acting more as a promo video for whatever mad song is being played in the background than telling me what has actually happened in this feud.

Konnan cut a promo on Orlando, the crowd didn't react because the show is in a theme park, so the crowd is mostly tourists. Brilliant work Konnan, you cunt.

Steel Cage Arm Wrestling Match – Konnan (with The Latin American Xchange (Homicide & Hernandez)) vs. “Bullet” Bob Armstrong (with The James Gang (BG James & Kip James))

63 year old Bob Armstrong got the win in an overly theatric arm wrestling match, despite repeated attempt at cheating from Konnan. What else can I say?

As per the pre-match stipulation the James Gang got to administer ten whips with belts to LAX...this was a bit of a shambles, but did included an unintentionally funny moment when BG accidentally called Kip “Billy”, leading to Mike Tenay quipping on commentary that Kip had “jumped the Gun(n)”.

Next PPV – Whilst this was Konnan's final PPV match, Bob Armstrong would return for February 2008's Against All Odds event, tagging with BG James for an unsuccessful shot at AJ Styles & Tomko's TNA World Tag Team Championships.

Latte told Jeff Jarrett that his team had won the coin toss for Lethal Lockdown, as the rest of Team Jarrett chatted to Jeremy Borash about the upcoming Lethal Lockdown match, including Scott Steiner absolutely murdering the English language and a surpringsly competent performance from America's Most Wanted's Chris Harris.

X-Division X-Scape Match – “Primetime” Elix Skipper (w/ Simon Diamond) vs. Petey Williams (w/ Coach D'Amore) vs. Puma vs. Chase Stevens vs. Shark Boy vs. “The Captain of Team USA” Chris Sabin

Despite a convoluted gimmick, the X-Scape match featured the best action of the show so far with strong performances from the likes of eventual winner Chris Sabin and Petey Williams. If you're unfamiliar with the gimmick, it's basically an elimination match with pinfalls or submissions until the final two competitors have to attempt to “X-scape” the cage (seriously, Tenay really hammered home that they would be “X-scaping”) to earn the victory. The earlier part of the match is hampered by the competitors having to tag in and out for some illogical reason, but once Shark Boy gets eliminated and everyone begins flying around the ring at the same time it became an exciting spot-heavy clash, featuring a number of intricate fast-paced sequences. The match peaked with a ridiculous shooting star press off the top of the cage from Chase Stevens, where everyone failed to catch the Hoosier. The spot could've ended up much worse for Stevens and it's damn good job he performed the move perfectly. Wrestling-wise the best action resulted in Puma's elimination as the man now known as TJP had a brilliant exchange with Petey Williams with the pair going back and forth repeatedly before Williams catapulted Puma straight into a Cradle Shock from Sabin. I'm not sure how much the X-scape gimmick helped the finale between Sabin and Williams as the wrestling stopped and both men simply tried to jump over the top, which would have been cool if there was something on the line, but without anything to fight for it was hard to buy into the drama of those moments. The finish itself came across as a little hokey with Williams ending up falling on his manager Coach D'Amore's shoulders when trying to escape, allowing Sabin to pick up the win and the momentum heading into the World X Cup. With a few tweaks to the gimmick and perhaps a better performance from a lacklustre Elix Skipper, this match would've been brilliant, however it's still a very fun watch that doesn't outstay it's welcome.

Next PPV – At Sacrifice, Petey Williams would lose to Jushin Thunder Liger in the World X Cup, before going on to win the final Gauntlet match that also included Puma and Chris Sabin. Shark Boy had to wait another month for PPV action, taking part in the aforementioned six way elimination match that was won by Senshi, whilst Chase Stevens & Elix Skipper returned at July's Victory Road show as Steven's teamed with Andy Douglas at The Naturals to defeat Skipper and his partner David Young, known collectively as The Diamonds in the Rough (which is an awful tag team name)

Jeremy Borash had tracked down Abyss & Father James Mitchell backstage and Mitchell cut a mad promo about Christian Cage not being a real champion and promising that Cage's head will roll later tonight. Odd stuff, but oddly compelling also.

The promo for Samoa Joe vs. Sabu, showing us lots of mad things that have happened, but it appears there's not much of a feud here.

Mikey Tenay gave us the “X Factors” for the Samoa Joe vs. Sabu match, which included that Joe was yet to be defeated in TNA, that both men were the epitome of the X-Division's “no limits” ethos and that Latte had chosen to bring in someone from outside TNA in order to push Joe further than before.

X Division Championship – Sabu vs. “The Undefeated Samoan Submission Machine” Samoa Joe ©

This is neither man's best effort, but it does the job of putting Samoa Joe over strong as a dominant force capable of tackling an opponent with a unique style as Joe beats the shit out of the former ECW Champion. The match is probably 80% Joe as he lobs his opponent around the cage with Sabu being busted open pretty early, which really helps towards the aura TNA were trying to build around Joe at this time. I'm not a massive fan of Sabu, but he actually manages to hit most of his offence effectively here, including a number of old favourites, even if he called every move ridiculously loudly. There's some weird stuff with Sabu having a cast on a supposedly broken arm, which I don't think achieved anything as despite Joe repeatedly going after the cast, Sabu couldn't sell because he had a cast on and even if he didn't I'm not sure he'd have sold it anyway, because he's Sabu. Could the two have had a better match? Probably, under different circumstances, but considering Sabu would be challenging John Cena and Rey Mysterio for titles in WWE a few months later, this was a massive victory for Samoa Joe at the time.

Next PPV – At Sacrifice, Samoa Joe continued to build momentum as he teamed with Sting to defeat Jeff Jarrett and Scott Steiner. Sabu would jump ship to WWE, appearing on the ECW One Night Stand show just two month's later in June, going to a no contest with Rey Mysterio over the World Heavyweight title, before returning to TNA PPV in August 2010, losing to Rob Van Dam at Hardcore Justice – The Last Stand.

Team Canada (Coach D'Amore, Bobby Roode, Eric Young & A1) sang “O Canada” and Coach D'Amore explained that most of the issues between them and Team 3D come from Team 3D being fat or something. Latte was back as he continued to try to find out what the big announcement is going to be, but received no help from Team Canada.

Hype promo time in which we learn that Team 3D are furious for being covered in a Canadian flag at some point by Team Canada and some more weird nationalistic weird shit. The backbone of this was a ridiculously cringey promo from Brother Ray.
Six Man Tag Team Steel Cage Anthem Match - Team Canada (A1, “The Canadian Enforcer” Bobby Roode & “Showtime” Eric Young) (with Coach D'Amore) vs. Team 3D (Brother Ray, Brother Devon & Brother Runt)

Whilst there was a handful of great spots and nice creativity here, this match becomes a painful watch thanks to the awful gimmick and some horrible booking. Firstly, lets discuss the idea of the Anthem match. The aim of the match is to retrieve your country's flag from the top of the cage, which will then result in your country's national anthem being played and victory. Why? Team Canada had already came out to their usual entrance theme...”O Canada”...and also sang the anthem in the backstage segment earlier. Lads. Onto the booking which is very poor indeed. After a ref bump, Team 3D grabbed the Stars and Stripes, which, of course, didn't result in the end of the match because the referee was down. Team Canada managed to put the flag back and after Coach D'Amore nailed the “gatekeeper” with a steel chair, he got a table in the cage, which eventually Eric Young ended up going through with a diving elbow drop attempt on Brother Runt, before A1 took an Acid Drop from Runt and Roode a 3D from Ray & Devon, leading to Team 3D getting the flag down for the second time and winning the match. This made Team Canada look like an absolute bunch of chumps. They lost the match twice, despite underhanded tactics and spent a long time in control without even attempting to get their flag. Despite all this shit, there were a couple of great moments, including Roode taking an Avalanche Bubba Bomb early on and a lovely spot with A1 blocking an Acid Drop and setting up Roode for a wicked sitout powerbomb.

After the match, a terrible version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” played and Brother Ray and Brother Devon gave Coach D'Amore a 3D.

Next PPV – At Sacrifice, Brother's Ray and Devon came out on the losing side of a match with The James Gang (BJ James & Kip James), whilst it was a mixed night for Team Canada as despite Bobby Roode's victory over Rhino, A1 put over Raven and Eric Young was unsuccessful in the World X Cup Final Gauntlet match. Brother Runt's next PPV match would be for the HUSTLE promotion in June as he tagged with his storyline brother's Kinetaro Kinemura, Masato Tanaka and Tetsuhiro Kuroda at House Vol. 16 – The Road to HUSTLE Aid, before returning to TNA in July at Victory Road for another six man tag, this time seeing Team 3D losing to Abyss & The James Gang.

Mike Tenay and Don West attempted to talk about the two matches left on the card, but the crowd obviously wanted to actually sing the US National anthem still, because the version TNA played was impossible to join in with. Team 3D recognised this and ended up leading a sing-a-long at the top of the babyface ramp in what was actually a pretty cute moment.

After being heavily pushed in every backstage segment on the show, it turned out that TNA's major announcement was that they were going through a corporate restructuring. Come on guys, that's not going to get anyone excited about anything. What this boiled down to was that there was a new “face of TNA management”, who would be revealed at a later date. Latte was put on probation as the “Head of the Championship Committee” and former ECW World Heavyweight Champion Raven returned to the company, chasing Latte around the ring for reason's that I'm sure were clear if you were watch iMPACT at the time. Oh, Christy Hemme also made her TNA debut in this segment, delivering an envelope to the commentary bois.

NWA World Heavyweight Champion Christian Cage refused to be interviewed by Jeremy Borash

Good golly, it was all going on in the Abyss vs. Christian Cage feud in '06. Abyss and Father James Mitchell had stalked Cage's wife and beaten Cage up in his home and attempted to drown him, whilst Cage had looked to use a tyre iron on Abyss. Why are we having a wrestling match and not a day in court?

Mike Tenay ran down the tale of the tape for the NWA World title match, with some shit puns and stuff.

Steel Cage match for NWA World Heavyweight Championship - “The Monster” Abyss vs. Christian Cage ©

Whilst at times over-booked, Abyss vs. Christian Cage is a fun World title cage match, that has good variety and remained entertaining for over 20 minutes. The match is packed with strong near falls with Abyss kicking out of an Unprettier, whilst Cage survives a Blackhole Slam, as well as featuring a number of big highspots with the highlight being a Frog Splash from the top of the six sides of steel from the champion. The double ref bump was gratuitous, but both bumps were creatively done and allowed for a little added drama down the stretch, whilst the second showed signs of desperation from The Monster as he threw the ref into the cage to prevent Cage diving off the top, which in turn added a little depth to the storytelling in the later stages. I think at times the match lost sight of how serious the feud had been between the two, as after the opening brawl there's a slight lack of intensity from either man and things almost settle into a typical power vs. technique type contest. Whilst the thumbtack spots are brutal, they have more of an air of trying anything possible to win the top prize in the NWA than anything else. The finish, however, is done very well, with Cage countering a chokeslam and nailing the second Unprettier of the match, this time onto a massive pile of thumbtacks, whilst Tenay and West sold the moment on commentary. This is probably a Top Five singles match for Abyss in TNA, whilst also being the strongest match on the card.

After the match, Christian Cage attempted to gain some revenge on Father James Mitchell, but was instead low-blowed by Abyss, before being bloodied and hung by a chain using the steel cage in what was an unnecessary angle. Mitchell handed Abyss the NWA World Heavyweight title belt before the pair left.

Next PPV – The two would collide again at Sacrfice, with Christian Cage retaining once more in a Full Metal Mayhem match, which main evented the show.

Ron Killings, AJ Styles and Rhino were all interviewed by Jeremy Borash with Rhino giving the best account of himself on the mic, pulling out an intense promo, ending with his “Gore, Gore, Gore” catchphrase. Sting showed up at the end to say “It's showtime, folks”.

The hype package for the main event focused on the issues between Jeff Jarrett and Sting, whilst never actually explaining what those issues were, whilst also pushing Lethal Lockdown as the most

Lethal Lockdown – Team Jarrett (NWA World Tag Team Champion “Wildcat” Chris Harris, NWA World Tag Team Champion “Cowboy” James Storm, Jeff Jarrett & “Big Poppa Pump” Scott Steiner) (with Gail Kim & Jackie) vs. Sting's Warriors (“The Phenomenal” AJ Styles, Rhino, Ron “The Truth” Killings & Sting)

Lethal Lockdown produced an entertaining main event, that whilst at times lacking in substance, used the gimmick to keep the momentum building, whilst two massive spots make this a more than worthwhile watch. One of the spots is probably one of the most memorable moments in Lethal Lockdown history as AJ Styles and James Storm battled on top of the cage, concluding with Styles scaling a tall ladder and using some trussing to splash Storm through a table. Whilst this isn't shot particularly well by TNA, it still looks incredible and is a testament to what Styles was willing to do for the company at this time. This is also seen in the other spot as Styles is at the top of a ridiculous tower of doom spot that sees him fall from the top of the cage. Had their been more of an issue between anyone other than Jeff Jarrett and Sting, I think the latter stages could've been a much more compelling watch, as things essentially boil down to a sequence where everyone hits their signature moves, before an awkward sequence where Sting reversed a Sharpshooter from Chris Harris into a Scorpion Deathlock, which struggled following the massive spot from Styles and Storm on top of the cage. The undisputed lowlight was Jackie removing Gail Kim's skirt as she attempted to scale the cage, something which makes it seem like 2006 was a world away from the modern day.

Performance wise, there's no doubt that Styles is the MVP of this bout as he works his arse off throughout, helping others look like a million bucks, especially when starting the match with Harris, whilst taking part in the matches two biggest spots of the evening. Everyone else almost fades into the background, mainly appearing during their entrances to hit a number of big moves before coming back into the action for the finishing sequence. Everyone manages to look pretty good when first out the gate, with Rhino and Steiner's entrances in particularly lifting the contest at the right time, when they unleash a series of power moves, whilst Ron Killings also pulls out a greatest hits of his funky offence. For me, the two captains of the team put in disappointing efforts, as aside from a melodramatic stand-off with their guitar and baseball bat respectively, it's hard to point out anything particularly impressive or memorable from either man.

2006's incarnation of Lethal Lockdown is certainly worth a watch and has a case for being the best version of the contest, that has never quite fufilled its potential as TNA's version of WarGames. Although I'd put the Team Angle vs. Team Cage bout from the next Lockdown show as slightly ahead.

Next PPV – The feud between Sting and Jeff Jarrett continued at Sacrifice with Sting picking up another victory as he teamed with Samoa Joe to take on Jarrett & Scott Steiner. America's Most Wanted succesfully defended their NWA World Tag Team Championships against AJ Styles and his partner Christopher Daniels at the same event, whilst Rhino ended up putting over Bobby Roode. Ron Killings wouldn't be back on PPV til July at Slammiversary, taking part in a King of the Mountain match for Christian Cage's NWA World Heavyweight title, in a match that also included Abyss and Sting and saw Jeff Jarrett walk out with the ten pounds of gold.

Lockdown 2006 was a really solid PPV that, despite some issues with the booking, featured a number of entertaining matches. The opening stretch of X Division action (albeit broken up by a lame arm wrestling match) is an inspired way to do the first half, that also displays the sheer amount of talent that TNA had in that area at the time as we see appearances from Samoa Joe, Alex Shelley, Low Ki, Christopher Daniels, Chris Sabin, TJP and Jay Lethal. There's a definite lull in the middle with the Joe vs. Sabu match not setting the world alight, whilst the Anthem match has it's moments but features six men fighting against a poorly conceived gimmick, whilst the constant interruptions from Latte resulted in a disappointing “major announcement” (something that would become a running theme for TNA in later years). The prevalence of multi-man matches gets a little much by the end of the show as TNA seems dead set on trying to get as many men inside the steel cage as possible, but that does also mean that when it comes time for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship match the match gains more of a big match feel than it perhaps would have got following a series of particularly good singles matches. Indeed, for me, the Abyss vs. Christian Cage match is the best on the show, going heavy on the drama that is at times missing from the Lethal Lockdown main event, whilst also showcasing what was a perhaps surprising chemistry between The Monster and Captain Charisma. For the first time on Retro Review, I'd recommend this PPV as a complete watch, as despite it's flaws it is a good show that is mostly carried well across the three hours. You can check it out on the Global Wrestling Network

Next time - NWA Starrcade 1985 feat. Ric Flair vs. Dusty Rhodes, Magnum TA vs. Tully Blanchard in an I Quit Steel Cage match and The Rock N' Roll Express vs. The Russians in a Cage match.

Written by James Marston 

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Retro Review // WCW Slamboree 1993: A Legend's Reunion

May 1993 - What a time to be alive. This reviewer was an incredible two months old, Ace of Base were top of the UK singles charts and AC Milan put over Marseille in the UEFA Champions League Final. It really was halcyon days (especially for those Ace of Base fans from Marseille). Also who can possibly forget “hairgate”, eh? Well, amongst all that WCW was holding it's first ever Slamboree event! Presented as a “Legend's Reunion” event with appearances from heroes from yesteryear, the event pivoted around a pair of World title matches as Arn Anderson challenged for Barry Windham's NWA World Heavyweight strap and Vader put his WCW World Heavyweight title up against Davey Boy Smith! But how did all go down at the Omni in Atlanta, Georgia? Lets take a look.

A weird little video package leads us into the show, talking some nonsense about legends, because this show is a Legend's Reunion for some reason.

In the ring, a load of old lads are loitering, like Nick Bockwinkel and some other guys, who are all looking around awkwardly. 

Tony Schiavone and Latte Zbssskfko talk for a bit, with Zbssskfko saying something about time fearing pyramids and then something about Davey Boy Smith needing to bring his kryptonite tonight. 

In one of the weirdest moments I've ever seen in wrestling, Maxx Payne played some generic -tune on his guitar, whilst a load of oily slightly muscly blokes carry a velvet thing down to the ring, it has Fabulous Moolah in it. Nothing happens.  

Eric Bischoff and Missy Hyatt had a chat for a bit about Sting and The Prisoner and then the lights go off on them, but bless them they keep talking. Why are they still talking? Where is the wrestling? Stop running down the card. Stop it. 

Tag Team Match – Beautiful Bobby & Chris Benoit vs. 2 Cold Scorpio & Marcus Alexander Bagwell 

This was an odd match, as whilst it seemed to have a lot of potential early doors, the wheels fell off in the second half, concluding with a horrible looking finish. The highlight of the contest saw Chris Benoit & 2 Cold Scorpio produce some great exchanges at pace, getting the crowd excited. The two had just came off a hot bout at the previous PPV and it's clear to see that the two are well-matched for each other, with a developing chemistry, making it surprising that the two didn't get more opportunities together down the years (beyond a 1994 indy show in California). The match then settled into some heely cheating from Benoit & Beautiful Bobby, with Marcus Alexander Bagwell as your face-in-peril, which was fine, apart from the commentary team completely no-selling it. I was fully expecting a Scorpio hot tag to light the match up and send us home, but pretty much everything after the hot tag ended up coming across as awkward, with a real lack of timing, especially on the part of the veteran Bobby. There was an odd dive attempt from Benoit that got knees from Scorpio, where it was unclear what move Benoit was actually attempting, there was the camera getting the way of Scorpio as he attempted to climb the top rope and then there was Bobby breaking up a pin attempt off a strange looking diving splash from Scorpio at one. Oh yeah and that finish. Fuck me. Scorpio hit his Tumbleweed (Diving corkscrew somersault leg drop) and landed arse first on Benoit's head, which looked absolutely brutal. Things were not made any better by Bobby grabbing the referee who was attempting to count the pinfall for the finish, leading to a confusing ending. There was potential here for a good opener and whilst the match showed signs of heading that direction, the confusion of whatever Beautiful Bobby was doing in the end, the horrendous botch on the finish from Scorpio and Benoit and the deadweight that was Bagwell and you end up with a pretty disappointing contest.

Next PPV – WCW's next PPV was Beach Blast on 18th July, where 2 Cold Scorpio & Marcus Alexander Bagwell would team up again to take on Shanghai Pierce & Tex Slazenger (better known as Henry O. and Phineas I. Godwinn in the WWF). Chris Benoit & Beautiful Bobby had to wait a little longer for their return to PPV, however. AAA's When World's Collide show on 6th November 1994 saw Benoit (as Pegasus Kid) teaming with Scorpio, alongside Tito Santana, to take on Blue Panther, Jerry Estrada & La Parka, whilst it took Bobby over two years to make another PPV appearance as he became Lord Robert Eaton and tagged with Lord Steven Regal (bka as William Regal) as The Blue Bloods to challenge The Nasty Boys (Brian Knobbs & Jerry Saggs) for the WCW World Tag Team titles at The Great American Bash on 18th June 1995.

Schiavone & Zbssskfko chat some more shite for a bit, about not expecting the next match to be happening, but it is.

Colonel Rob Parker comes out to confront “Heavy Metal” Van Hammer for something Hammer had said previously. Parker gets some lads to bring out a stretcher and then introduces Hammer's opponents...golly, it's Sid Vicious. 

Singles Match - “Heavy Metal” Van Hammer vs. Sid Vicious (w/ Colonel Rob Parker)

A few punches and a powerbomb later and Sid had conquered Van Hammer. The crowd went mad for it, so what ever. 

Next PPV – At Beach Blast, Sid Vicious tagged with Big Van Vader as The Masters of the Powerbomb to face Davey Boy Smith & Sting, whilst it took Van Hammer over five years to return from this squash when he took part in the Three Ring Battle Royal at World War 3 on 22nd November 1998. 

Eric Bischoff interviewed Red Bastien & Bugsy McGraw, with McGraw wondering around aimlessly and looking into the camera in a weird fashion, whilst Bischoof looked inconvenienced by the supposedly coked up old guy.

Legend's Six Man Tag Team Match – “Dirty” Dick Murdoch, “Magnificent” Don Muraco & “The Superfly” Jimmy Snuka vs. “Chief” Wahoo McDaniel, Blackjack Mulligan & “Jumping” Jim Brunzell 

In principle a six man tag featuring a group of legends sounds like a pretty good idea and I'm sure that these six men in their prime would have had a lovely trios bout under the right circumstances, but these men were not in their prime in 1993. As a theme for the show developed, the early exchanges aren't all that bad. It's basic stuff with a few bodyslams and a couple of headlocks, but it's acceptable, before a surprising headscissors takedown from Dick Murdoch to Jim Brunzell became the unexpected highlight of the match. After that it was downhill quicker than a round of Double Gloucester, with Murdoch hitting a nasty looking thing off the top rope on Brunzell, Jimmy Snuka randomly getting in the ring in the middle of a sequence that he was not involved in and then the match ending for literally no reason when everyone started brawling and the referee called it off. Why? What was the point? Did everyone refuse to job? It came off as a complete shambles with no sense of direction and considering none of these guys were part of any on-going storylines, the point of finishing with a never ending brawl seems completely pointless. 

The lads continued to brawl after the match, with Jimmy Snuka taking a mad bump over the top rope. The camera cut away

Next PPV – Dick Murdoch would be the first of these six to return to PPV, jumping to WWF and appearing in the Royal Rumble match on 22nd January 1995. Don Muraco was next as he'd main event for the short lived American Wrestling Federation against Greg Valentine on 12th May 1995, before later that month Wahoo McDaniel would return for another Legend's Reunion, facing Murdoch on 21st May in what would be both man's final match on PPV. Jimmy Snuka had to wait until 17th November 1996, teaming with Flash Funk, Savio Vega & Yokozuna agaisnt Diesel, Faarooq, Razor Ramon & Vader at WWF Survivor Series. This would however be the final PPV appearance for both Blackjack Mulligan & Jim Brunzell and indeed turned out to be Mulligan's last ever match before his death in 2016. 

Missy Hyatt interviewed Mad Dog Vachon & The Assassin, with Vachon weirdly grabbing the microphone away from Hyatt at one point, whilst The Assassin's mask was ridiculously too small for his massive head and neck. Assassin issued an “open challenge” to Dusty Rhodes for a future match. Okay, hen.

Thunderbolt Patterson got in the ring and said that “Bullet” Bob Armstrong had had some kind of bad knee surgery or something, Ivan Koloff kicked off saying the Armstrong's had weak stomachs and were cowards. This lead to Bob's son Brad Armstrong coming out and offering to be Patterson's partner for the evening. Delightful. The lads brawled for a while before the match officially began, whilst the commentary team laughed away.

Tag Team Match - “The Russian Bear” Ivan Koloff & “The Master of the Claw” Baron von Raschke vs. Thunderbolt Patterson & Brad Armstrong 

A short tag bout, that would end up becoming the best of the three “Legend's” matches on the card. It was hardly anything to go crazy about and I certainly wouldn't come close to calling it a good match, but there was some fun to be had as Ivan Koloff & Baron von Rascke looked on confused as Thunderbolt Patterson was shucking and jiving. Ol' Latte on commentary pulled out a bemusing line, after Schiavone had listed some facts about the competitors, as he proclaimed “You're just a human fax machine, aren't ya?”, which apart from a fun Patterson hot tag was probably the highlight of the five minutes. Patterson hit a thing for the win and we were out of there. 

Next PPV – Brad Armstrong returned to PPV in 1996 challenging Dean Malenko for the WCW World Cruiserweight title at Slamboree on 19th May, whilst Ivan Koloff waited 20 years for his return as he took on Brad's Dad, Bob, at the Superstars of Wrestling 1 event on 16th November 2013. The show would be Baron Von Raschke's last PPV match before retiring in 1996 and also the last ever match for Thunderbolt Patterson, bringing to a close a career that began almost 30 years earlier. 

Flair for The Gold segment

I get that the Four Horsemen were a big deal, but I have no idea why this segment occurred on the PPV. Billed as the return of the original Four Horseman, what we'd end up getting was the worst incarnation the group ever had, as Paul Roma replaced Tully Blanchard (with Arn and Ole Anderson still present). There perhaps wasn't a more puzzling line-up change until Mutya left the Sugababes in 2005. Everyone cut mild promos, whilst Flair said something weird to Ole Anderson about getting his feet wet, before the Naitch went on a mad one revealing he was ready to compete once again challenge The Hollywood Blondes to a match down the line. This would've been an acceptable TV segment, but on this PPV with so much time already given over to interviewing various legends, it felt more than unnecessary. Flair getting us to stare at his future partner Fifi the Maid's arse was also a weird moment.

Johnny Valentine joined the commentary for the next match.

A promo for Beach Blast 1993 aired, which was only really a cartoon beach with some waves and that. 

Legend's Singles Match – Dory Funk Jr. (w/ “Canada's Greatest Athlete” Gene Kiniski) vs. Nick Bockwinkel (w/ Verne Gagne) 

What could be more fun than watching two men in their fifties wrestle to a 15 minute time limit draw? If you said literally anything else then you're absolutely correct. It's hard to blame either man for this, as what would anyone expect from two chaps of their age who had previously worked a much slower style than had been seen earlier in the show, with the majority of the blame lying with whomever decided that this match would be worth doing in 1993. The first ten to thirteen minutes of this are painfully dull, mostly involving the two exchanging holds with no real direction, whilst an uninterested crowd wasn't even roused by a couple of stiff Bockwinkel forearms. The match isn't helped by a lack of character definition, leading to the Georgia crowd starting a quiet but notice “boring” chant as they struggled to remain invested in the NWA vs. AWA concept. The match did manage to pick up in the closing stages, with some decent near falls as the two get closer to the time-limit, but there's also frustrating moments like Bockwinkel putting his foot on the ropes before the referee can even make a count of one after a Funk piledriver, what might have been a world time record for a backslide attempt and Funk's second Gene Kiniski randomly wandering into the ring on numerous occasions without any admonishment from the referee. 

Next PPV – Dory Funk Jr. was back on PPV three years later as he participated in the 1996 Royal Rumble for the WWF on 21st January. This bout would Nick Bockwinkel's last, bringing an end to career that began in 1954 and saw Bockwinkel compete for the likes of AJPW, the NWA and most famously the AWA. 

Eric Bischoff conducted an interview with Lou Thesz and Bob Giegle, who said some things presumably.

Rick Rude called the crowd “inner city sweat hogs” and then he and Paul Orndorff took off their robes. 

Tag Team Match – “Ravishing” Rick Rude & “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff vs. “The Natural” Dustin Rhodes & Kensuke Sasaki 

The one thing I came away from this match with was just how much hotter that crowd was for members of the current roster than they were for any of the legends, as the Omni began to wake up after being put to sleep by two lads in their fifties. This was a basic tag team contest for the most part, with the heels working over Dustin Rhodes, until a really cool Tombstone Piledriver reversal acted as a hope spot for The Natural. Kensuke Sasaki looked great on his hot tag, appeared to be super over with the crowd and came across as  mad entertaining when he started mocking Rick Rude's hip gyrations and then unfortunately the Slamboree curse reared its head and the finish went to shit. I've no idea what was actually happening. Sasuke waited for ages on the top rope to get pushed off, there was some random aimless brawling with Orndorff and Rhodes and Rude hit a crap looking version of his Rude Awakening finish to take the win. With a solid finish and better timing this would have been a rather cool tag bout, but just like the opener it was let down by some sloppy in the final stages.

Next PPV – At Beach Blast, Rick Rude and Dustin Rhodes would clash in a 30 minute Iron Man match for the the vacant WCW United States Heavyweight title, whilst Paul Orndorff put his WCW World Television title on the line against Ron Simmons. Kensuke Sasaki wasn't back on PPV until 26th November 1995, where he was featured in the Three Ring Battle Royal for the vacant WCW World Heavyweight Championship at World War 3. 

WCW Hall of Fame Inductions

Gordon Solie struggled with the rowdy crowd as he introduced the first inductees into the WCW Hall of Fame. Solie listed some dead lads who couldn't be there, including Buddy Rodgers, Andre the Giant, Pat O'Connor, Gene Anderson, Dick the Bruiser, Wilbur Snyder and someone else, asking for a moment of silence that was not very well observed. Lou Thesz, Verne Gagne, Mr. Wrestling II and Eddie Graham (inducted posthumously and represented by his son Mike Graham) were the four inductees with Solie introducing each man and giving us some facts about their lives and careers.

It was back to Missy Hyatt who conducted interviews with Lord James Blears and John Tolos, with Tolos telling us that WCW was the only way to spell wrestling...okay, John, you mad egg. Blears presented Hyatt with a monocle for some reason, which lead to her saying “Tally ho” in what sounded like a German accent, for reasons known only to her.

Bounty Match – Sting vs. The Prisoner 

Come back Nick Bockwinkel and Dory Funk Jr all is forgiven. Good golly, The Prisoner (perhaps better remembered as Nailz in the WWF) is a trash wrestler and even though Sting was coming off an all-time classic with Big Van Vader at the last PPV, he was unable to do anything to stop this match being a car crash. The highlights mostly came from Latte on commentary as he wondered whether the Prisoner was wearing a “fist proof vest” after he no-sold a couple of body jabs from the Stinger and then uttered “nobody in the cell that time” after Prisoner had missed an elbow drop. I also noted that both men were wearing orange at one point, because nothing of interest was happened for quite some time. The action was sloppy from start to finish, with Prisoner being incompetent at both selling and gaining heat, with the crowd completely ignoring a moment when the former Nailz wrapped a cable around Sting's throat and attempted to hang him until he got bored. After a weird moment where Sting double-legged Prisoner as if attempting to go for the Scorpion Death Lock, only to just go for a pin instead, Sting would win with a crap diving clothesline after Prisoner had been arguing with the referee. Easily the worst match on the card, with absolutely no redeeming features, Sting vs. The Prisoner was a steaming pile of wank, in all honesty. Don't watch it. 

Next PPV – Sting would go on to main event Beach Blast tagging with Davey Boy Smith against The Masters of the Powerbomb (Big Van Vader & Sid Vicious), whilst The Prisoner would never grace the medium of PPV again, going on to have a short run with New Japan in 1994, before retiring officially in 2000. 

The same promo for Beach Blast is shown, just in case you'd forgotten what you saw less than an hour ago

Eric Bischoff was joined by The Crusher, who struggled to remember his Grand children's names as he challenged Ox Baker to a cage match, whilst Baker stood next to him randomly patting himself down. These lads keep trying to work themselves into storylines for some reason. The segment ended with Bischoff looking confused as fuck as Baker gave him a big hug. 

Ricky Steamboat explains that he and Shane Douglas are wearing masks, body suits and sombreros tonight, because the outfits had previously bought them a victory over The Hollywood Blondes. In reality they kept the mask on because it was Tom Zenk and not Shane Douglas that was tagging with Steamboat that night.

Steel Cage Match for WCW/NWA Unified World Tag Team Championship – Dos Hombres (Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat & Shane Douglas*) vs. The Hollywood Blondes (“Stunning” Steve Austin & “Flyin'” Brian Pillman 

*Actually Tom Zenk 

A good Steel Cage match with a terrific closing stretch, this was easily the best match on the card up to this point. The foursome use the cage well at points, including a creative spot with Steve Austin being hung upside down and a Ricky Steamboat double crossbody, but at times it feels like this would've been a better contest outside of the confines of the cage, with their being very little animosity between the two tandems. There's a couple of moments of sloppiness, especially in the middle, with the aforementioned spot with Austin almost ending in disaster, as well as rough looking dropkick from one of the Hombres moments later and a shit looking spinebuster (I think?) from Austin. However, everything from the Hombres hot tag (seemingly to Steamboat) is bloody superb work, with Steamy lobbing lads into the cage and pulling out the always popular, doubble noggin' knocker. It's then onto a brilliant sequence of near falls for the babyfaces, with Steamboat jumping off the top, followed up by DDT's to both Austin and Pillman and then a pair of dropkicks all not being enough to take the titles of the Blondes as the Omni comes unglued with the best reactions of the entire show. Whilst the Blondes then picking up the win feels like an anti-climax, the sequence that leads to Austin nailing a stungun and Pillman hitting a DDT is very well put together, with it's intricacies only really noticeable on the replay. The matches with Shane Douglas are better, but this is another decent addition to the Hollywood Blondes vs. Dos Hombres rivalry.

Next PPV – The Hollywood Blondes would put their tag straps on the line at Beach Blast against the Four Horseman tandem of Arn Anderson & Paul Roma. Ricky Steamboat would have to wait until Fall Brawl on 19th September, where he'd put his WCW United States Heavyweight Championship up against Lord Steven Regal. Tom Zenk would stay with WCW until March 1994, but didn't receive another opportunity on PPV, before a short-stint with AJPW and then retirement in 1996.

Stu Hart, Mr. Wrestling II and Dusty Rhodes joined Eric Bischoff for another bizarre interview as Rhodes accepted The Assassin's challenge and started taking his clothes off, whilst Wrestling II seemed to have no idea who either man was and then Hart babbled about his family and put over Davey Boy Smith's chances in the main event.

Singles Match for NWA World Heavyweight Championship - “The Enforcer” Arn Anderson vs. Barry Windham © 

Whilst it was held back by an eleven minute run-time, Arn Anderson's challenge for Barry Windham's NWA World Heavyweight title still manages to tell a strong story, with enough big spots peppered in between to give this clash a real main event feel at times. With both men being members of the Four Horsemen at times, the story centralises around Anderson attempting to get into Windham's head with early covers attempts as the two exchange sportsman-like holds, before quickly erupting into a wild brawl that spills to the outside. Windham being the first to crack with some big strikes and a gruesome looking knee strike, leads the match well towards it's storyline peak with Anderson clattering Windham's head off the barricade twice and the Texan beginning to bleed relatively heavily. The use of blood is very effective here as it sells just how far the issue between the men has come from their good-natured wrestling at the start, whilst also adding to moments later in the match as Windham grows more and more desperate to end the contest and walk out with the belt in anyway he possibly can. In terms of spots, a dropkick from Windham that knocked Anderson off the top rope to the floor and is then followed up with suplex on the floor are amongst the highlights, whilst a well-timed out of nowhere spinebuster from Anderson gets a spectacular pop, despite being undersold by the commentary team (with Windham quickly rolling to the outside). The finish does come across as flat, mostly because the match had struggled for convincing near falls previously, as Windham nails Anderson with the title belt, after the ref had been chucked across the ring by a frustrated Arn, before simply getting a cover for win. Perhaps it's the times we're living in or that it was only 11 minutes into a World title match, but I fully expected Anderson to kick out before the match would head towards a much more satisfying conclusion, but nope, that did not happen and I looked to a non-existent camera in a way that would've made Martin Freeman proud. As you'd expect with these two lads, they don't put a foot wrong here, with a number of well-done sequences, both pure wrestling and brawling, but there just isn't enough of it. This bout is worth checking out, but be prepared to feel slightly unfulfilled by the time it ends.

Next PPV – Barry Windham would successfully defend the NWA World Heavyweight Championship against 2 Cold Scorpio at Clash of the Champions (16th June), going on to face Ric Flair with the title on the line at Beach Blast, whilst Arn Anderson challenged for the WCW/NWA Unified Tag Team belts with Paul Roma opposite the champions, The Hollywood Blondes. 

The commentary team discussed Davey Boy Smith getting involved in Big Van Vader's public workout the previous night on Saturday Night, before leading into the main event. I guess this was the closest we got to a hype package in 1993.

Singles Match for WCW World Heavyweight Championship - Davey Boy Smith “The British Bulldog” vs. Big Van Vader © (w/ Harley Race)

Big lads, big lads, big lads. Big Van and Davey Boy put on a really good power vs. power contest, that is loaded with power moves, some splendid highspots and actually a couple of good wrestling sequences as well. The first two thirds of the contest are especially well done, beginning with some simple “show and tell” sequences as we see that Vader's power is having little effect on Smith, before quickly snowballing into big spots like Vader missing a crossbody attempt on the floor and flying over the guardrail, before Smith gets to  show off his power with a beautiful powerslam on the floor (after hoisting Vader up over the guardrail and onto his shoulder in one smooth motion). The two shows a good chemistry when working quicker sequences also and whilst the two keep things relatively simple, it's clear that both know what will work and stick to it, as they use the fake out sunset flip spot, as well as Vader blocking a crucifix pin attempt with a ring-rattling modified samoan drop. The match begins to lose its way a little when Vader comes flying off the top with a splash and then loudly shouts “SHIT” when he lands awkwardly on his knee. Harley Race plays for time on the outside as Vader looks to finish the match, but it's clear that the match would have been much stronger in the closing stages had Vader not suffered a minor injury mid-match. We do get a great looking electric chair drop, that gets an equally electric reaction from the Omni, as well as Race breaking the cover after a running powerslam, but the match eventually ends with Vader clobbing Smith with a four-legged chair for the DQ. Another disappointing conclusion, in a show that is riddled with uncreative booking and lazy endings.

After the match, Marcus Alexander Bagwell and 2 Cold Scorpio both attempted to save Davey Boy Smith unsuccessfully, before Sting was able to come flying down the ramp to save Smith from a powerbomb...setting up this supposedly...

Next PPV – Both men would remain in the main event for the next PPV, Beach Blast, as Big Van Vader tagged with Sid Vicious as The Masters of the Powerbomb, against the team of Davey Boy Smith & Sting. 

Eric Bischoff was joined by Magnum T.A. To discuss the result of the match with Magnum putting over the quality of the competitors.

Tony Schiavone & Latte Zbssskfko spoke to Verne Gagne, who put over the talent of WCW, saying he was shocked at the quality on the roster, before the lads wished us a good night. 

The credits roll to close the show as some lovely generic rock music plays us out. What a time to be alive 1993 was, lads. 

Seriously, take out the Legend's matches and there's a good PPV in here somewhere. Bobby & Benoit vs. Scorpio & Bagwell and Rude & Orndorff vs. Rhodes & Sasaki both aren't perfect but feature some good wrestling at points and whilst Sid Vicious's short return and the god-awful Sting vs. Prisoner match aren't worth your time at all, the show ends up finishing with three good to very good title matches that have plenty of variety. Whilst all three finishes are anti-climatic the trio of bouts that close the show are all well-worth getting your peepers on if you haven't seen them already. But the Legend's matches all coming back to back mean that I wouldn't recommend this show as a complete experience. That would be irresponsible. The whole legends concept sounds pretty cool on PPV, but with the multiple interviews and the fact that the crowd couldn't have given a crap for any of these lads that WCW dragged out to them, in execution it's a shitshow pretty much across the board. 

Next time - TNA Lockdown 2006