20 Days of Battle Royals: Day 10

January 16th, 2013 by | Tags: , , , , , ,

Date: October 18, 2000
Company: WCW
Show: Thunder
Rules: Royal Rumble with 30 second intervals
Stipulation: Winner gets a title shot the Nitro after Halloween Havoc
Roster (29): Brian Adams, “That 70’s Guy” Mike Awesome, Big Vito, Booker T, Bryan Clark, Crowbar, Disqo, “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, David Flair, “Lieutenant Loco” Chavo Guerrero, Don Harris, Ron Harris, Jeff Jarrett, Mark Jindrak, Billy Kidman, Konnan, Kwee Wee, “Corporal Cajun” Lash LeRoux, Ernest “the Cat” Miller, Rey Mysterio Jr., “Coach” Kevin Nash, Sean O’Haire, Chuck Palumbo, “Above Average” Mike Sanders, Shawn Stasiak, Scott Steiner, Sting, Lance Storm, Alex Wright

I think during WCW’s final months, the quality was getting almost as good as when everything started to go wrong a couple years earlier. It wasn’t all bad, but it wasn’t all good either. It wasn’t outside the realm of possibility that with a little effort, WCW could have been turned around to being halfway successful before a Turner higher-up decided to pull the plug.

Take the Countdown to Armageddon, for instance. The main event of a Thunder in late 2000, only five months before the company would become McMahon’s new set of action figures, is head and shoulders above that guerrilla warfare idea from yesterday’s update and is almost well-booked at times. Almost.

The Royal Rumble knockoff is a 29-man battle royal for a shot at the champ the night after Halloween Havoc. Goldberg isn’t allowed to be in it, I think because his storyline is that he needs to equal his old winning streak before being allowed another title shot. The match has 30-second intervals, meaning the whole thing blazes through.

Unfortunately, whoever booked it must have been in a real rush because the “random draw” barely even pretends to exist. Our first two entrants are “Above Average” Mike Sanders and the Cat, two wrestlers who happen to be feuding over full rights as Commissioner of WCW. Having these two start it off isn’t too weird, right?

The next two are Shawn Stasiak and Chuck Palumbo. They and Sanders are all members of the Natural Born Thrillers and work on the Cat, though Stasiak – “the black sheep” – has some problems coexisting with Palumbo. Again, it isn’t too off. That stable has a lot of wrestlers.

Then Disqo (a renamed Disco Inferno) comes out, followed 30 seconds after by his partner Alex Wright. Shortly after, Ron and Don Harris come out consecutively. Even the commentators can’t make sense of this. It’s briefly suggested that maybe one of the co-commissioners created the order, but why would they be the first two, then?

Speaking of commentary, it’s the best of times and the worst of times. Joining Tony Schiavone are Stevie Ray and Mark Madden. Stevie is so bad he’s great while Madden is so bad he’s terrible. There’s something so weird about both guys from Harlem Heat being the two most awesomely bad commentators in wrestling history.

Canada-loving turncoat “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan enters the fray. Just want to remind everyone that this was a thing.

With 11 in the ring and no eliminations yet, the Natural Born Thrillers’ leader “Coach” Kevin Nash is out at #12. They go right to commercial and time seemingly freezes. Once they’re back from commercial, Nash enters the ring and there’s been zero entries in the past two minutes. Uh huh.

He proceeds to clean house until the only ones left are Nash, Palumbo, Stasiak and David Flair. Stasiak finally strikes Palumbo and knocks him out of the ring. Afraid of Nash’s wrath, Stasiak hops the top rope and runs off. That leaves David Flair to lay into Nash with zero success. Nash, the big, tough guy he is, takes out Flair with an eye-poke.

Nash plays the same role he did in the ’94 Royal Rumble that got him over: clearing the ring and taking out every new challenger. The one to stop his streak is Rey Mysterio. Sadly, this is late WCW, meaning it’s unmasked Rey, wearing stupid devil horns and looking like a 12-year-old boy.

My thoughts too, Big Sexy. My thoughts too.

Rey slows him down and our next guy out is Booker T! …What? I didn’t notice this when rewatching it as the WCW title picture is confusing as hell as is, but when I looked up who the winner would be facing… well, Booker T is the WCW Champion. He’s in a match to earn a shot against himself! And nobody on commentary seems to notice this! What the fuck?

Sting and Mike Awesome come out soon after and the four faces take apart Nash before eliminating him. Out next are Jeff Jarrett and Scott Steiner. I don’t mean in consecutive order. I mean that Steiner rushes the ring early just for the sake of laying into his upcoming PPV opponent Booker T. Yes, he too is trying to earn a shot at a title he already has a shot at.

Sting and Jarrett eliminate each other and Awesome removes both Booker and Steiner at the same time, leaving him against Rey. The ring fills up some more and our final spot goes to both members of Kronik at the same time, playing into their upcoming handicap match against Goldberg. Once things whittle down, we have Mike Awesome (face) against Kronik, Jindrak and O’Haire (heels). The four beat on him and prepare to dump him out when Goldberg’s badass Viking theme starts blaring.

Goldberg rushes in and is almost immediately taken down by Kronik. Still, the diversion is enough for Awesome to trick Jindrak and O’Haire into eliminating themselves. In a rather cool ending, Goldberg Spears Bryan Clark as Adams sneaks off to fetch a chair. Goldberg throws Clark out of the ring and Awesome grabs Adams’ chair, opening the Kronik member up for a second Spear. As Adams struggles to stand, Awesome holds the chair and warily keeps an eye on Goldberg. Is he here to take out his frustrations on everyone else allowed in this match? Is he planning to Spear Awesome next? Goldberg sees the chair and things get tense.

But clearer heads prevail and they take out Brian Adams together. Mike Awesome gains his title shot and gets a bit of a rub from Goldberg.

It’s a shame things didn’t work out for Awesome. I always enjoyed his work and thought his role as “That 70’s Guy” was criminally underrated when they subdued the gimmick enough that it wasn’t so in-your-face. He worked the same way John Morrison’s “Palace of Wisdom” gimmick worked, at least in my opinion. Which is fitting, since Awesome looked like a beefed up Morrison with Roddy Piper’s face.

That’s our last look at WCW. We’re halfway through the list and tomorrow we’ll continue on with WCW’s reincarnation.

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3 comments to “20 Days of Battle Royals: Day 10”

  1. I actually saw Hacksaw at an indie show while he was doing the Team Canada gimmick. He got on the mic to calmly explain to the audience that they shouldn’t chant “USA!” any more because he was now representing Canada, which of course they continued to do. Fun stuff. Unfortunately, the show also featured Mae Young and Fabulous Moolah. It did not feature Sid, who no-showed. I bought a couple tapes of Japanese wrestling (yes, on VHS, which shows how long ago this was) as well as a tape of Hulk Hogan’s Rock’n’Wrestling, which I only had the vaguest of memories of. It promised two episodes and a special message from the Hulkster, but included only a single episode and no message. This was probably a blessing in disguise considering how awful that show is.

    Anyhow, enough rambling. I also liked Mike Awesome. Loved his matches with Masato Tanaka, one of which was actually on one of the tapes I bought at that show.

  2. This post is the first time I’ve heard anyone say that Mike Awesome’s “That 70s Guy” WCW gimmick was salvageable, for while it was certainly better than being a “Fat Chick Thrilla,” it lacked the inherent viciousness of the “Career Killer.” But in a post-John Morrison, post-Joey Ryan world, I do understand.

    I got to see Mike Awesome at the very first live wrestling event I ever attended. It was after his ECW run and certainly post WCW and the Invasion: around 2003 during one of MLW’s earliest shows. Much of the fed was clearly built around ECW nostalgia, and the crowd even chanted ECW at the start of his match, but DAMN that was a solid card.

    That night, Mike Awesome fought Masato Tanaka one more time, and while it wasn’t quite as insane as some of the ECW stuff, it was plenty nuts and nobody in attendance seemed to harbor ill will towards Awesome since with Tanaka as his opponent he could hit all that classic ECW-era offense that nobody in WCW or WWF was willing to take. Or more like “nobody else in the world aside from Masato Tanaka.” Because that’s the thing, isn’t it: when you take away the multiple powerbombs, splashes, and tables from his repertoire there wasn’t a whole lot Mike Awesome had to make him stand out.

    Well, there was ONE other thing. I did get autographs from both Tanaka and Awesome that day, and I complimented Awesome on his AWESOME MULLET that I declared the best mullet in wrestling (which is a crowded field indeed). He agreed wholly, which is why the fact that they gave him the Wesley Willis song treatment in WWF all the more sad. All I had for them to sign was one of those slightly lame Tokyopop FMW DVDs, and I do wish they’d signed the insert instead of on the more easily worn-away plastic because now it’s a 10-year old memento of a dead guy that probably deserves better care than being crammed in a cardboard box like how I’ve got it.

    At the time, this WCW battle royal made me think Awesome was on the road to hitting it big, but it didn’t turn out that way. Like so many talented guys who went through WCW, the dude deserved better than he got.

  3. @Daryl Surat: What won me over with Mike Awesome as “That 70’s Guy” was his feud with Vampiro and ICP. He’d do these hardcore matches with spots that perfectly mixed the 70’s gimmick with his ECW style. Rather than go completely over-the-top (ie. his atrocious Lava Lamp Lounge segments), he was a shirtless dude in jeans with a thin gold chain and feathered hair. And he powerbombed one of the ICP guys onto the Partridge Family bus. He had a nice balance of being a dude who enjoys the 70’s without it being so in your face that you’re embarrassed for him.

    Hell, even in this match, he’s got the same thing going on. He comes out in a 70’s-looking shirt and sunglasses, quickly removes them and heads to the ring to get right down to business. Had they stuck with that, they could have had something really cool.