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20 Days of Battle Royals: Day 20

January 26th, 2013 Posted by Gavok

Date: August 16, 2011 (aired on August 19, 2011)
Company: WWE
Show: Smackdown
Rules: Normal
Stipulation: #1 contender for World Heavyweight Championship at Night of Champions
Roster (19): Trent Barreta, Wade Barrett, Johnny Curtis, Ted Dibiase, Justin Gabriel, the Great Khali, Mark Henry, Tyson Kidd, Ezekiel Jackson, Jinder Mahal, William Regal, Cody Rhodes, Zack Ryder, Sheamus, Sin Cara, Heath Slater, Yoshi Tatsu, Jey Uso and Jimmy Uso

As we hit the last battle royal of this one-a-day series, we end on one of my favorites. It’s from the first Smackdown after Summerslam 2011. At that Summerslam, Wade Barrett defeated Money in the Bank holder Daniel Bryan. Sheamus’ sense of honor cost him when Mark Henry slammed him through a barricade and won via count-out. Randy Orton had finally ended his feud with Christian, meaning he needed a new contender for his World Heavyweight Championship.

And so, a battle royal was put together. It was meant to be a 20-man battle royal, but Daniel Bryan chose to challenge Alberto Del Rio earlier that night and got his arm destroyed. Too destroyed to compete again that night. Also, one of the angles of the time had Jinder Mahal more or less owning Great Khali, due to his status as brother-in-law. It’s a complicated Indian thing.

You can tell that they’re trying to make Mark Henry a big deal because when he walks to the ring, resident strong face dude Ezekiel Jackson is all, “Uh… shit.”

The bell rings and Henry stands in the center of the ring. With the exception of Khali guarding Mahal in the corner, everyone pounds on the World’s Strongest Man. He decides that it merely tickles. It tickles and Mark Henry isn’t a man who enjoys laughter.

“ENOUGH!”

He immediately removes Trent Barreta and Yoshi Tatsu. The minutes that follow include your usual filler of guys working each other over with nothing happening. Stuff comes alive when Ezekiel Jackson throws his rival Cody Rhodes over the top and he holds on by skinning the cat and pulling himself back in. Then Big Zeke just sends him back out with a massive clothesline.

Khali is still guarding Mahal in the corner and is commanded to take care of Ezekiel. Ezekiel stuns Khali with a running clothesline, steps back for a second one and runs right into a Brain Chop. Khali flings Ezekiel out of there and Henry decides to step up.

You might recall that Khali/Henry was a showdown that wouldn’t be in that 2007 battle royal I covered a few days ago and while they tangled in the Monster Mash, their interactions were barely of note. Finally, they’re going to go at it and I’m ready for it to be terrible. Khali chops Henry down and prepares for the Vice Grip. Henry powers out and then decides, fuck this, I’m the World’s Strongest Man!

Whoa! That’s kind of awesome! Extra points for most everyone else in the ring hanging back to see how this fight plays out.

Sheamus runs into Henry with an axe-handle and sends him rolling to the outside. He’s still in the match, but just angry. Also, champion Randy Orton is watching the battle royal unwind as he sits near the announce table with Henry angrily roaming around.

Whenever somebody gets eliminated, Henry proceeds to grab them and throw them around like a ragdoll. Just ask the Usos.

His rage not quite satiated, he returns to the ring and helps take the number down to four finalists: Henry, Sheamus, Wade Barrett and Sin Cara. You can tell Sin Cara is the fan favorite because of all the chants they edited in in post-production. Barrett, Sheamus and Sin Cara go at Henry together, but Barrett’s greed gets to the best of him and he turns on Sheamus. The two Europeans end up brawling on the apron after each going over the top rope. Sheamus wins the brawl with a kick to the chest and Barrett falls to the floor.

Sheamus and Sin Cara have a nice little battle that ends with Sheamus preparing to Brogue Kick him out of the ring. Henry gets up from the earlier beating and washes his hands of the big Irishman.

Now we’re down to Sin Cara vs. Henry. Sin Cara does a crossbody off the top and Henry falls over after catching him. It’s hard to tell if it’s a botch or not, but my gut says yes. Sin Cara is unable to move Henry with a couple hurricanrana attempts and goes for a crossbody off the second rope. Henry catches him correctly this time and crushes him with the World’s Strongest Slam. Then he presses Sin Cara’s sin carcass over his head and dumps him out of the ring like he’s nothing.

Mark Henry is the #1 contender and ends the show staring down Orton, taking a second to get a whiff of him.

“YEAH, I SMELL YOU. THAT’S FEAR. THAT’S FEAR I SMELL!”

After a career of being a jobber to the main event, Mark Henry would be rewarded for being suddenly awesome after 15 years by going over Orton cleanly and decisively. Twice! He proceeded to have the best heel title run in forever that sadly got derailed by an injury. Part of me will always lament that we never got the correct ending to the Rocky III Balboa/Clubber angle they were setting up with Daniel Bryan and Henry. But hey, said injury also led to Bryan’s heel turn and the whole, “YES! NO!” thing, so it all evens out.

Enjoy the Royal Rumble, everybody.

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20 Days of Battle Royals: Day 19

January 25th, 2013 Posted by Gavok

Date: November 23, 2009
Company: WWE
Show: Monday Night Raw
Rules: Normal
Stipulation: #1 contender for WWE Championship at TLC
Roster (8): Ted Dibiase, Mark Henry, Kofi Kingston, Randy Orton, Montel Vontavious Porter, R-Truth, Cody Rhodes and Sheamus

2009 to 2010 was a dark time for Monday Night Raw thanks to the guest host gimmick. Every week, there’d be a different guest host, originally in the form of a GM with power over the roster. Sometimes it would be a wrestler who wasn’t active at the time like the injured Batista or long-retired Dusty Rhodes. Sometimes it would be a B or C-list celebrity. Any given week, you’d be in store for a crapshoot that usually depended on how into it the guest was. Sometimes you’d get Bob Barker spinning straw into gold with the Price is Raw. Then you’d get Dennis Miller hosting the Slammys, which was just head-shakingly bad. I recall him making a “joke” that was just him going, “Hey, global warming isn’t real, am I right?” And when people didn’t react, that led to some insisting that the wrestling audience wasn’t smart enough to get that comedic genius. Ugh.

One guest host was former Governor and current nutjob Jesse Ventura. He started up a little controversy about John Cena as WWE Champion, pointing out how sick a lot of guys backstage were of him. Ventura decided on a series of qualifying matches between those who haven’t been champion before, meaning we’d get a much needed break from the never-ending Cena/Orton series of matches. The winners would advance to what he called the Breakthrough Battle Royal.

Throughout the night we had Kofi Kingston defeat Dolph Ziggler, Sheamus defeat Finlay, the team of R-Truth, Mark Henry and MVP defeating the team of Jack Swagger, Chavo Guerrero and Chris Masters, Cody Rhodes and Ted Dibiase defeat Cryme Tyme and a match between Primo and Evan Bourne took a strange turn. Orton was so angry about not being allowed into this match that he attacked Primo and took his place, having little trouble in beating Bourne. Since Ventura loves cheating, he let it slide. Meanwhile, smarks had someone to outright root against for this match because if WWE was stupid enough to let Orton win… Jesus Christ.

A backstage segment had Ventura rant at Vince McMahon in a way that almost seems off-script due to bringing up Vince Sr., something that’s usually a big no-no. Ventura wanted to make a little trip to the past and insisted that the commentary for the Breakthrough Battle Royal be done by he and Vince. Whoa. Now that’s something.

Now for the match. Ventura comes out to nearly zero reaction and Vince not only has his old 80′s theme song “You’re My Obsession” by Human League playing, but he has this swank bowtie picked out by Ventura.

The commentary is very weird. Familiar, but different. It is a trip to hear Vince talk at length in that tone that sounds like he’s thinking to himself aloud, plus Ventura telling him, “Shut up, McMahon!” It’s just that age and development has changed them. Ventura is an asshole face and Vince is a doofy heel when the face/heel alignment should be switched. Plus Vince is just plain grumpy at times, calling this a rotten idea.

There’s some interesting faction stuff going on in the lineup. This is the night after Survivor Series, which included a team that had Kofi, Henry, R-Truth and MVP against a team with Orton, Rhodes and Dibiase. So Sheamus is the odd man out here. At first, it’s the four guys from Team Kofi ganging up on Legacy while Sheamus hangs back and does nothing. Eventually, Orton slinks out of the ring and walks around, surveying the action. Henry and R-Truth start fighting each other to make things fair.

Nothing happens for quite a while, but at least the commentary is entertaining and there’s some nice tension with Sheamus and Orton each staying to themselves. Eventually, Sheamus snaps out of it, grabs R-Truth, clotheslines him down and then flings him easily out of the ring. Shortly later, Sheamus waits for the perfect opportunity to catch MVP off-guard.

Easy pickings, bringing us down to six.

Henry goes for Sheamus and almost has him out of the ring until Rhodes and Dibiase attack. Henry ducks a double clothesline from them and sends them both out over the top with a pair of clotheslines of his own. Sheamus clobbers him from behind and throws him out, giving us Sheamus vs. Orton vs. Kofi. By this point, Orton’s finally returned to the ring.

Sheamus hangs back for the most part, but when he does get involved, Orton makes short work of him. Orton sends Kofi over the top rope, but Kofi hangs on and takes out Orton via skinning the cat.

When Kofi gets back up, Sheamus is ready for him with a running axe-handle, sending Kofi to the outside. Sheamus wins and gets his title shot against John Cena at TLC. Not only are we saved from another Cena/Orton fiasco, but we also got that sweet Orton facial reaction above.

In the following segment, Sheamus and Cena have a contract signing where Sheamus annihilates Cena and puts him through a table. Ventura announces that their PPV match will be a Tables Match. Sheamus would go on to win that match and have a rather interesting feud with Cena. While Sheamus never got to outright defeat Cena decisively, the same can be said about Cena beating Sheamus. All in all, Sheamus looked plenty strong around this time until the Nexus showed up to make him run away in fear, thereby hurting his monster persona.

Kofi and Orton continued their feud. Kofi was looking like he was ready to ascend into the main event at times, but then he fucked up a spot, Orton RKO’d him, had an in-ring tantrum and the feud practically died right after. Since then, Kofi’s been stuck in the position/gimmick of “generic good guy who gets cheers”.

I haven’t heard much from Ventura after he was on Opie and Anthony and Jim Norton verbally destroyed him to the point that Ventura stormed out of the interview. Norton rules.

Tomorrow’s the last day and we’re going to be ending it strong.

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20 Days of Battle Royals: Day 18

January 24th, 2013 Posted by Gavok

Date: January 14, 2008
Company: WWE
Show: Monday Night Raw
Rules: Elimination does not have to be over-the-top
Stipulation: None
Roster: Batista, the Great Khali, Hornswoggle, Kane, Mr. Kennedy, Mankind

I talked about how injuries have a tendency to change the course of wrestling history to a dramatic degree, but it isn’t just injuries. In late 2007, a list was released of wrestlers who had been using an online pharmacy for certain items that were against the wellness policy. All of these guys (except Randy Orton) were suspended for 30 to 60 days depending on previous suspension records.

At the time, WWE was in the midst of an exceptionally stupid and never-ending story where Vince McMahon found out that he had fathered an illegitimate child and said child was on the WWE roster. This was meant to set up an angle where Mr. Kennedy was going to be revealed as Vince Jr. and feud with his “brother-in-law” Triple H. That didn’t happen because not only was he on that pharmaceutical list, but he had just done a big interview talking up how competent the WWE’s wellness policy was. So on Raw, Kennedy tried to say that he was Vince’s kid, only to be shut down and suspended. They’d find out the real answer the week that followed.

Backed into a corner, they revealed Vince’s son to be Hornswoggle, the undercard comedy act leprechaun whose only crime so far was becoming the Cruiserweight Champion and destroying the last remnants of that division for the sake of comedy. I’ll say that I wasn’t too opposed to the idea. I suppose the possibility of Hornswoggle becoming a Mini-Me version of Vince and barking orders in the form of vocal nonsense could have worked in some kind of surreal way.

The main story they went with was that Vince was embarrassed by his tiny son and out of either spite or insane parenting wanted him tortured in the ring as “tough love”. This meant putting him in matches that Hornswoggle would somehow come out of unscathed, either due to luck, guile or the help of Finlay, who disagreed with Vince’s behavior. These matches led to one of the most annoying aspects about Hornswoggle’s character, being the weird double standards about him being a competitor that continues to this day. If he gets the best of someone, then good for him! Way to go! If he is in any way attacked, even if it means being shoved over, Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler will act like they just watched a puppy get run over. How can they let this happen?! He’s just a defenseless child (who has a beard and is in his twenties). Of course, if Triple H murders him, that’s different. Haha, that Triple H! He sure taught Hornswoggle a lesson! That’s what you get for messing with DX!

With the Royal Rumble coming up, Vince decided to enter Hornswoggle into the big match. Backstage on Raw, he talked to his mute son and suggested a warm-up to get him ready. A “Mini Royal Rumble” that would feature a handful of guys scheduled for the PPV match. Hornswoggle went off to the ring, ready to prove himself.

Out comes Mr. Kennedy and… wait a minute. When Vince said it was a “Mini Royal Rumble”, he wasn’t kidding.

Yes, we’re about to get a Royal Rumble of vertically-challenged doppelgangers. Should I be offended? Maybe. Probably. Am I entertained? Probably. Definitely.

At the very least, it’s kind of a nice thing to do for Hornswoggle who himself is a trained wrestler who rarely gets the chance to wrestle guys his own size. The other guys are wrestlers who know what they’re getting into and they’re getting a payday for this, so it really isn’t the worst thing.

Mini Kennedy tries to do the intro bit where he announces himself from the middle of the ring, but the suspended microphone doesn’t reach that far down and he proceeds to jump up and down in a failed attempt to grab it. The bell rings and Kennedy gets a cheapshot in. They fight it out until Mini Mankind shows up.

He pulls out Mr. Socko and Hornswoggle saves himself by kicking Mini Mankind in his mini-er Mankind and throwing him through the ropes. Then Hornswoggle presses Kennedy over his head and throws him over the top.

Having cleared the ring, Hornswoggle awaits his next opponent, Mini Batista. Not only does Mini Batista perform the Batista entrance sequence…

…but his timing on the explosion is better than the actual Batista.

Mini Batista Spears Hornswoggle and shakes the ropes. He sets up the Batista Bomb, but Hornswoggle backdrops out of it. Soon after, Mini Kane enters. While he is the smallest man in the match, he certainly goes 100% into the gimmick by pulling off Kane’s uppercuts perfectly. Despite being the fresher one, he still fall prey to the Batista Bomb.

Hornswoggle again goes for a kick downstairs and flings Mini Batista out of there. Mini Kane starts to take him apart and does a jumping clothesline off the second rope. He goes for a chokeslam and we suddenly remember the size difference.

Hornswoggle hits the Celtic Cross and then slides Mini Kane out of the ring. I should note that probably the funniest part of this whole segment is how when Vince was suggesting it, he said that it would include Mr. Kennedy, Batista and maybe a mystery opponent. This is a subtle joke in how Kane has been the go-to mystery opponent for the past 15 years.

Hornswoggle awaits his final opponent and Great Khali’s music begins playing. Unfortunately for the leprechaun, it isn’t Mini Khali. It’s the actual Khali. He steps into the ring, ready to crush the little guy, but then Finlay appears with his shillelagh and goes to town on the giant. Like I said a couple days ago, Finlay beating the shit out of Khali with his shillelagh is a wonderful thing to watch. It’s like watching a lumberjack going to town on a tree with an axe before, during and after it falls. Khali ends up rolling out of the ring to evade the punishment, meaning that Hornswoggle wins the match. Also, Finlay gets a piece of Ranjin Singh, but lets him off easy with a simple clothesline.

The angle came to a head prior to Wrestlemania, where JBL helped Vince beat Hornswoggle to the point of hospitalization while Finlay was handcuffed and could only watch. JBL revealed to Vince that Hornswoggle was never his son after all, but was Finlay’s. JBL ended up going over Finlay at Wrestlemania in a Bellfast Brawl and Hornswoggle proceeded to star in some terrible, terrible storylines in the years that followed.

Way to go, Kennedy.

Tomorrow we return to the past to build for the future.

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20 Days of Battle Royals: Day 17

January 23rd, 2013 Posted by Gavok

Date: October 30, 2007
Company: WWE
Show: ECW
Rules: Normal
Stipulation: None
Roster: Big Daddy V, the Great Khali, Mark Henry and Kane

I will defend WWE’s ECW reprise to my grave. While there were some tremendous missteps, the show was my favorite part of WWE every week. Once it found its groove, it was a place where new wrestlers could debut and make a name for themselves, old wrestlers could get a new lease on life, guys could have awesome matches with simple-yet-effective booking and once somebody got popular, they’d be drafted away to a wrestling show that people actually watched. So really, it was a lot like the old ECW.

Today’s topic is something that I really can’t defend as part of that. In attempts to get ratings early on, WWE would put high-profile wrestlers in the main events. The main example was Big Show’s ECW title reign where he’d take on the likes of Ric Flair and Batista because of his fighting champion status. Today’s match takes place the night before Halloween from a show that features both Nunzio trick-or-treating with some kids while dressed as Dracula and Tommy Dreamer wrestling while costumed as Paul Heyman.

Because of the Halloween theme, the powers that be decided on a Monster Mash battle royal. The idea is that it would feature four “monster” wrestlers going at it: Kane, Mark Henry, Great Khali and Big Daddy V. There were a lot of other guys they could have included at the time, like Snitsky, Umaga and the Boogeyman, but I guess they figured not to go overboard on it.

I should note that Kane is the only face in this match and while all four men were on the ECW roster at some point before or after this, Big Daddy V is the only ECW guy at the time of the match. He’s also gross as hell due to his various manboobs flopping around.

There is one thing about this match that I absolutely love and redeems everything about it. Throughout the night, they’d hype up the match with a series of vignettes for each competitor (barring Kane, who got to cut his own promo). Each one was overly dramatic and narrated by a Boris Karloff impersonator who proceeded to make each guy sound pants-shittingly scary.

“A leviathan creature driven by malice, the Great Khali yearns to crush all who stand in his path.”

Holy shit. Why couldn’t they do more promos like this? They should have Fake Boris hyping up Ryback matches.

As the match begins, it really isn’t all that terrible. Sure, they’re moving in slow motion, but it starts out strong enough. The three heels try to corner Kane and he evades them, then fights back. Henry and Big Daddy V blame each other for this and go at it with a series of strength-testing running shoulders. Then they both bounce the ropes and collide like two trains.

SWEET!

So, hey, this isn’t so bad. Henry briefly holds up Kane in an almost Angle Slam-type position and almost gets him out. Kane goes back to fighting everyone and the match finally jumps the shark when Henry shoves Kane into Big Daddy V for a Black Hole Slam. Maybe it worked on paper, but…

Wait, wait! He can do that better! Give Viscera a mulligan!

Eh, never mind.

Henry and Khali grapple in the corner, allowing Big Daddy V to crush them both with an Avalanche. He tries the same on Kane but misses, allowing Kane to clothesline him into the ropes and lift him right out of there. Hey, it at least looks impressive.

Khali puts Kane in the Vice Grip, then turns his attentions to doing the same to Henry. Kane and Henry team up and send Khali out of there with a double clothesline. A very slow double clothesline, but an effective one nonetheless. Now we’re down to Kane vs. Mark Henry. On one hand, they’re the two best workers in the match. On the other hand, that’s really not saying a lot.

The two go back and forth for a bit and Kane seems to have things in the bag. He climbs to the top to do his leaping clothesline. Of course, the #1 rule when fighting Mark Henry is that you NEVER. EVER. JUMP AT HIM.

Henry seems pretty into his victory and being crowned King of the Monsters. Not that this match really means anything in the long run. It’s never mentioned ever again and isn’t used to springboard Henry into anything. Granted, his return to ECW down the line would lay the seeds for his build to relevance, but the Monster Mash battle royal is independent of that.

Still, the match was only four and a half minutes, so at least it was short. Speaking of short, check back in tomorrow for the next battle royal.

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20 Days of Battle Royals: Day 16

January 22nd, 2013 Posted by Gavok

Date: October 14, 2007
Company: TNA
Show: Bound for Glory
Rules: 16 men race to climb into the ring (over the top rope) until 8 make it in. Then it becomes a battle royal until there are two left. From there, it becomes a singles match.
Stipulation: The 8 that enter qualify for the Fight for the Right tournament. The order of eliminations creates the seeding system for the brackets.
Roster (16): Sonjay Dutt, “Wildcat” Chris Harris, Havok, Lance Hoyt, BG James, Kip James, Jimmy Rave, Junior Fatu, Kaz, Robert Roode, Chris Sabin, Shark Boy, Alex Shelley, “Cowboy” James Storm, Petey Williams and Eric Young

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. It was the time of Jim Cornette in TNA. It was the time of Vince Russo in TNA. Boy, is that apparent in this match.

To build up a new #1 contender, TNA decided to put together an eight-man tournament with sixteen guys to start. To cut the list in half, they’d have to earn their shots by… entering a wrestling ring. What the hell?

Yes, the Reverse Battle Royal. The same concept that millions of wrestling-loving kids came up with on their own, only to decide that, no, it’s too stupid and would never work. Our competitors surround the ring and then go at it, each trying to climb onto the apron, over the top rope and reach the inside of the ring with all the refs. Once they’re in, they’re in. After it’s down to eight men, the tournament roster is written and they fight in a battle royal over the seedings. In other words, the reverse part in the beginning is the only thing that truly matters.

Exciting stuff right there.

Junior Fatu (Rikishi) smacks aside fellow over-the-hill, ass-based wrestler Kip James and steps over the top, nearly unopposed. That’s one. Kaz and his rival Robert Roode go at it on top of one of the turnbuckles. Kaz wins out via hitting the Flux Capacitor.

Advertent or not, Kaz just introduced Roode into the tournament as well. Alex Shelley hops in. Eric Young makes a go for it and Lance Hoyt stops him. Standing on the apron, Hoyt presses Young over his head and prepares to throw him onto the other wrestlers below, but Young rolls out of his grip and falls into the ring. That’s five.

Chris Sabin jumps in just as easily as his Motor City Machine Guns partner Shelley a minute earlier. Hoyt prevents Havok from entering and steps in himself. That leaves one spot open. Kip James and Chris Harris fight over the last spot, but we see that James Storm has been camped out alone during the entire proceedings, picking his spot. With everyone beaten down and Harris and James busy with each other, Storm enters unopposed and gets in there a second before Harris. Harris is told by the refs that he doesn’t qualify for the Fight for the Right tournament and has to get out of there. That he got tricked by his former partner only proceeds to make him more irate.

Storm’s victory is short lived. At the start of the bell, Young steals his beer, ducks a haymaker and throws Storm right out of the ring. Junior Fatu lays waste to everyone else until he and Young accidentally back into each other. Young is filled with fear and tries his hardest to befriend Fatu, even going so far as to offer him Storm’s beer. Young’s attempt at creating new friends goes a little too far.

Fatu is cool with Young until Young makes the mistake of trying to lift the big man. Fatu continues taking everyone apart, including a spot where Young, Hoyt, Shelley and Sabin are propped into the corner and get crushed by his gigantic posterior. This is followed by a Stinkface on Young and Hoyt at the same time. Angry, Hoyt springs into action and drops Fatu with a running boot. Everyone gangs up on Fatu and it seems like they might have him. The Motor City Machine Guns hedge that bet.

Hoyt becomes the dominant one until the Machine Guns silence him. They maneuver Young into putting Roode in a submission hold, then add their own, creating a neat human knot.

As they go back to double-teaming Hoyt, Kaz puts an end to their reign by eliminating Shelley and knocking Sabin out with a plancha DDT into the ring. Kaz and Roode end up fighting on the apron and Roode wins out with a Rock Bottom out of nowhere. We’re down to the final four with Roode, Hoyt, Young and Sabin. Hoyt climbs the top rope for a moonsault, Roode runs over and shoves him to the floor. Although both faces try to team up on Roode, he’s able to use them against each other, quite literally, by hiptossing Young into Sabin as a way to knock Sabin off the apron.

Now that it’s Young vs. Roode, we have a singles contest. The mini-match is less than two minutes long and comes to an end when Young misses a moonsault, gets picked up for a suplex and rolls it into a pinning combination. Young wins the #1 seed and the crowd goes nuts for him. Though throughout this, the commentators are mostly paying attention to how the seeding system via the match has made it so that Sabin vs. Shelley is an opening round match.

The match is actually extremely fun and well-booked, so I’m glad I watched it. I have to blame that on Cornette, insisting that he took a crappy Russo concept and turned it into something enjoyable.

The tournament that followed was a gigantic mess, sad to say. Wrestlers kept getting removed and replaced mid-tournament and things were incredibly overbooked to say the least. Despite his #1 seed, Young was gone in the first match. The finals came in the form of a ladder match between Kaz and Christian Cage (who wasn’t even in the original 16). Kaz won and challenged Angle on the main event of a random episode of Impact. Angle retained and then a million run-ins happened. Naturally.

When you get to tomorrow’s update, tell them Boris sent you.

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20 Days of Battle Royals: Day 15

January 21st, 2013 Posted by Gavok

Date: July 17, 2007 (aired on July 20, 2007)
Company: WWE
Show: Smackdown
Rules: Normal
Stipulation: Winner becomes World Heavyweight Champion
Roster (20): Batista, Deuce, Domino, Kenny Dykstra, Eugene, Fit Finlay, Sho Funaki, the Great Khali, Chavo Guerrero, Matt Hardy, Mark Henry, Kane, Jamie Knoble, Brett Major, Brian Major, Chris Masters, Shannon Moore, Montel Vontavious Porter, Dave Taylor, Jimmy Wang Yang

I wouldn’t wish injury on an active wrestler, but it’s hard not to admit that injuries make things interesting in the long run. By-the-numbers storylines are suddenly shaken up and the writers scramble to make sense of things and make a show worth watching. As intriguing as it can be, it doesn’t always work out for the better. Today’s entry, for example.

Recently, World Heavyweight Champion Edge had defeated eternal #1 contender Batista in a match where if Batista lost, he wouldn’t be allowed to challenge Edge for the title again. Edge moved on to starting a feud with Kane while Batista answered an open challenge from heavily-pushed and still fresh monster the Great Khali. Two matches set up for the upcoming Great American Bash. Unfortunately, Edge got injured about a week before the PPV. Teddy Long had no choice but to strip him of the title and being that this is Teddy Long, he decided to put the vacated title on the line with a battle royal, playa.

The battle royal has only a few viable names in it, which explains the winner. All in all, it’s a pretty entertaining set of segments.

Once the bell rings, Batista goes right for Khali, then gets distracted by fighting Mark Henry. Everyone just kind of wanders around getting into fights and our first elimination comes a minute in when Henry does away with both Major Brothers.

Goodbye, pre-Ryder.

Henry and Khali both go to town on their opponents, laying waste to the entire ring. Soon there are only two left standing.

So much for that showdown. Most of the wrestlers team up to hoist Henry out of the ring. They even celebrate, which JBL points out is a stupid idea because they still have Batista, Kane and Khali to contend with.

Batista shows off his own impressive strength when being attacked by Deuce and Domino. They have him choked into the second rope, but he grabs them by the heads and is able to throw them both over the top rope from his unfortunate position. Not bad.

Batista and Kane have a showdown, not unlike Henry vs. Khali in the sense that it doesn’t go down. Instead of having everyone rush them, it’s just Jamie Knoble, whose angry strikes are rewarded with a swift elimination. Eugene thinks this is awesome, but his enthusiasm doesn’t help him.

At the time of the match, Chavo and Jimmy Wang Yang are feuding over the Cruiserweight Championship. They have a cool moment where they save each other from the wrath of Chris Masters and eliminate him together. Chavo turns on Yang, but gets eliminated by the Asian cowboy in response. Yang ends up lasting quite a while until being pulled out of the ring by Hornswoggle. Yet again, Hornswoggle ruins everything.

Batista and Kane briefly team up to get Khali out of there, but they’re out of luck and he powers through, shoving both across the ring. He takes apart both mega-faces, but then the only other competitor left in the match, Finlay, shows up with his shillelagh. 2007/2008 was an awesome time when it came to this. Back during the Finlay/McMahon angle about Hornswoggle being Vince’s son, Smackdown was filled with matches that ended with Finlay beating the everloving shit out of Khali with that shillelagh. It ruled every single time.

Kane puts an end to this by choking him. As he lifts him up for the slam, Batista rushes out of nowhere and Spears Kane down. Batista flings Finlay out of there and continues his duel with Kane. The two grapple while leaning against the ropes, Khali comes by and takes them both out in one go. The Great Khali, the immobile man given a push because he’s really tall, is the World Heavyweight Champion.

Um… You’re… You’re holding it upside-down. Khali? You’re—eh, forget it.

I suppose it makes sense. They couldn’t give it to Batista after spending all that effort on that “no more title shots against Edge” stipulation. They couldn’t give it to Kane because injuring the champ and suddenly becoming champ in his place is really not face behavior. Mark Henry wasn’t as over as a top heel, Finlay was never going to reach that plateau and Matt Hardy was feuding for a lesser title. Khali at least gave Batista something to chase after.

And chase he did. Batista and Kane had a #1 contender’s match later that night. There was a draw, so they had a Triple Threat against Khali at the Great American Bash (two days after this battle royal aired, remember). Khali retained and had a celebration on Smackdown. It was a strange segment, as Khali danced around with some Indian women and Batista showed up to angrily annihilate everything and attack Khali. If you showed it to someone who didn’t follow WWE and didn’t listen to the crowd reaction, you’d swear that Khali was the good guy with Batista out to destroy fun.

A couple months later, Batista defeated Khali in another Triple Threat Match, this time with Rey Mysterio as the third man. They had a rematch in the infamously silly Punjabi Prison Match, where Batista finally won the feud.

Khali is a unique one. While I don’t like that he became champ, I don’t hate him as much as everyone else. I consider him to be a challenge for people to put on decent matches. Khali can only do so much in terms of mobility and variety, but it is possible to carry him into something watchable. Hell, Sheamus got a good match out of him once, if you believe that. He’s not so much a wrestler as he is a human obstacle course.

Plus whenever I hear that one song by Blondie, I always like to pretend she’s singing about the Punjabi Playboy.

Khali! (Khali!) On the line
Khali, Khali, any, anytime
Khali! (Khali!) My love
When you’re ready we can share the wine
Khali!

Anyone else do this? Can you start so I can feel less awkward about it?

Tomorrow is keeping it in 2007. In fact, we’re just going to hang out in 2007 for a while if you don’t mind.

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20 Days of Battle Royals: Day 13

January 19th, 2013 Posted by Gavok

Date: October 7, 2005
Company: WWE
Show: Velocity
Rules: Normal
Stipulation: Winner gets a Cruiserweight Championship title shot at No Mercy
Roster (7): Funaki, Juventud Guerrera, Brian Kendrick, Paul London, Psicosis, Scotty 2 Hotty and Super Crazy

My choice for this update was going to be one of two matches. Either an X-Division Royal Rumble type match from 2004 TNA or this 7-man battle royal from Velocity. While the TNA one had some pretty cool spots and LA Park was there, I didn’t find there to be all that much to talk about. Velocity, on the other hand, gives me an excuse to talk about Tazz and his best commentary.

Velocity was a wonderful shelter away from Vince McMahon’s meddling, especially in the commentary sense. Just about everything terrible on WWE commentary these days is because of McMahon talking into Lawler and Cole’s headsets. Cole burying the roster, Lawler making jokes about Vickie Guerrero’s weight, the blatant fake laughter as a way to insist that Hornswoggle is so damn funny are all McMahon’s doing. At the same time, there’s always going to be the D-list show that he gives zero shits about, meaning he doesn’t find himself micromanaging. These days, that would be NXT.

That means you got a show that featured awesome matches alongside Tazz and Josh Matthews talking about God knows what. Their banter was absolutely weird, but entertaining as all hell. Did you know Tazz hates the solar system? Tazz can’t stand the solar system.

Unfortunately, I found that Tazz isn’t doing commentary for this match. Ah well. That doesn’t change his stance on the solar system, though. This is during a nearly forgotten time in WWE history where the Raw/Smackdown roster separation was in such full swing that they had PPVs that were independent from each other, outside of the usual big shows like Wrestlemania and Survivor Series. You can tell because Josh Matthews is trying to hype up a PPV match that involves Simon Dean.

At the time when the Cruiserweight division is healthy, the champion is Nunzio, heeling it up with Johnny the Bull as his enforcer. Interesting thing here is that of the seven guys involved in this #1 contender battle royal, three of them are in the same stable. Super Crazy, Psicosis and Juventud are the Mexicools, one of the all-time most racist gimmicks in professional wrestling.

As everyone makes their way to the ring, Nunzio and Johnny the Bull show up to watch the proceedings. The bell rings, everyone starts pounding on each other and over the next few minutes, it becomes apparent why I enjoy this one more than the X-Division showdown. With the bigger ring, these guys have more room to do their thing and it’s far less sloppy. Every elimination as well as plenty of spots are incredibly crisp and easy on the eyes.

Amidst the chaos, the first elimination comes from Brian Kendrick as he and Psicosis go back and forth with some high-flying offense and counters. Out of nowhere, Kendrick forces Psicosis into the ropes, steps back and then lariats the HELL out of him to the outside. Despite Kendrick’s size, Psicosis makes him look like a Serpentor-style clone made out of JBL, Stan Hansen and Nigel McGuiness’ DNA.

Now we’re at an even number and we get everyone pairing off. The next elimination comes a few minutes later when Funaki tries to do a Tornado DDT on Super Crazy. It doesn’t work out for him.

Kendrick throws Scotty out, but Scotty skins the cat and comes back in. Super Crazy sees this from the other side of the ring, runs around the others and nails him immediately with a clothesline, finishing the job. We’re down to four men in the form of two tag teams. London whips Juventud at Super Crazy, who instinctively backdrops him over the top. Juventud saves himself and is notably pissed at his apologetic partner. It’s okay, though, as Super Crazy gets his.

The final three fight it out and Kendrick and London have no problem going at each other. There’s not much of a team-up aspect here. Just a couple minutes of sweet every-man-for-himself action only with less gravity involved. Kendrick sends Juventud into the corner and does one of those running backflip moves, only London sees it coming, dashes over and shoves him in mid-air, sending Kendrick flying. London shrugs at his buddy as Juventud stands in the opposite corner, pointing at his final challenge.

This is a little over a year before Undertaker and Shawn Michaels had their legendary finale to the 2007 Rumble, so it was still pretty new to see the finalists in a battle royal have a lengthy back and forth tussle where either side can win. As Nunzio watches in amazement, London and Juventud are completely evenly matched. Lots of cool spots that lead to the two both staring up at the lights at the same time.

The final moments come from the two fighting in the corner. London tries to throw Juventud out, but he holds on, powering through London’s kicks. He tries suplexing London out, but London saves himself and the two brawl on top of the corner post, both in danger of an easy elimination. Superplex and powerbomb attempts go nowhere and London ends up stomping down on Juventud, trying to drive him to the floor. Juventud gets up onto the apron, the two collide and both wrestlers hang with both hands on the top rope. As they dangle, London keeps swaying and kicking Juventud in the stomach.

Juventud simply picks his spot.

Juventud wins and goes on to defeat Nunzio for the Cruiserweight Championship at No Mercy. Juvi would lose and regain the title over the next couple months and unfortunately get released in early January. Apparently, he didn’t listen when they told him not to keep doing that flippy move that broke Paul London’s face.

Tune in tomorrow as we see the Rock ‘n’ Wrestling Connection that didn’t work out so well.

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20 Days of Battle Royals: Day 11

January 17th, 2013 Posted by Gavok

Date: June 19, 2002
Company: NWA-TNA
Show: NWA-TNA Weekly PPV #1
Rules: Royal Rumble where upon there being two survivors, a singles match breaks out
Stipulation: Winner becomes NWA Champion
Roster (20): Apolo, Bruce, Buff Bagwell, Steve Corino, Scott Hall, Chris Harris, Jeff Jarrett, Justice, K-Krush, Konnan, Brian Lawler, Lash LeRoux, Malice, Del Rios, Rick Steiner, Ken Shamrock, Slash, Norman Smiley, Devon Storm and Vampire Warrior

I’m going to level with you. I know tremendously little about the first couple years of TNA. I practically know enough to fill a short paragraph. When coming up with the list for this battle royal series, I was told about how the very first TNA show had a Royal Rumble variation called the Gauntlet for the Gold, meant to crown the new champion. Without doing a single piece of research, I watched this match for the very first time last night.

TNA (which I’ll just say instead of NWA-TNA) is the unofficial sequel to WCW. About a year after WCW folded and got bought into WWF as their biggest instance of a ball being dropped, Jeff Jarrett and pals came together to create a new promotion where the shows would be weekly 2-hour PPVs. A radical idea with enough gas to get them off the ground. Dixie Carter’s money didn’t hurt either.

This match is absolutely surreal to watch as someone who didn’t follow TNA back then. Every entrant is a complete surprise to me outside of Jeff Jarrett. Being forced at #1, I’ve heard many stories about his dominance of the product despite the fact that nobody cared. He was like a mix between Cena and Triple H without the charm. Just a mid-carder insisting on being the dominant top guy out of spite for all the top guys who insisted that he’d never be more than a mid-carder.

I’m getting away from my point. Memories of WWE in mid-2002 can be hazy and what we have here is a roster made up of guys who weren’t in WWE at the time. A lot of them are WCW and ECW veterans that WWE had no taste for. Some of them are recent castoffs from WWE, especially because of substance abuse. Looking at Jeff Hardy, it’s good to see that some things never change. Then you have a couple instances of wrestlers who are familiar in hindsight as they’ll go on to become well-known.

Jeff Jarrett is at #1 and #2 is Buff Bagwell. Bagwell lasts almost as long as he did in WWF and he’s gone in about a minute. Jarrett proceeds to take apart Lash LeRoux and Norman Smiley one at a time, dominating the ring. At this point, I’m 80% sure that he’ll at least make the finals. 70% sure he’ll win.

Apolo finally stops the momentum. I’ve never heard of Apolo, but a look at his history shows he had a decent enough career in TNA and a cup of coffee in WWE developmental. He’s attacked by the following entrant, K-Krush, otherwise known as K-Kwik and currently R-Truth. He represents one of the more noticeable patterns of the commentary. Well, other than Ed Ferrera (or is it Don West? I can’t tell) constantly using the term “chucking” to an annoying degree when discussing eliminations.

A lot of the more famous wrestlers get their old promotions namedropped, something WWE has almost always refused to do. When Norman Smiley comes out, they bring up his WCW career. When K-Krush is out there, they mention that he was K-Kwik in the WWF. When Vampire Warrior is there, it’s mentioned that he used to wrestle in WWF as Gangrel. Same with Brian Lawler being Brian Christopher and Devon Storm as Crowbar. Yet at the same time, there are guys who they try to play off as new and refuse to discuss their past. Like at one point, ECW’s Joel Gertner shows up as the manager of a stable that includes Lodi and Lenny Lane, who are fresh off their rather over Ambiguously Gay Duo gimmick from WCW, as well as “Bruce”. Bruce is most obviously Kwee Wee from WCW and yet the commentary team acts like this is some mysterious, brand new guy they’ve never seen before.

The same happens for a couple guys who aren’t as noticeable. They have a guy named Del Rios, whose gimmick is that he’s a Scott Steiner knockoff in a company that doesn’t have Scott, but does have his brother Rick. I didn’t find out until afterwards that this guy was also Phantasio, the Wrestlecrap/Are You Serious staple gimmick who lasted one match in WWF in the 90′s. More interesting is when a guy named Malice shows up at #13. Chokeslams all over the place!

The guy looks very new to me and it surprises me because while he isn’t great, he’s kind of good for a big guy. He’s played up as a pretty big deal throughout the match as a monster heel. I didn’t find out until after the match that he’s WCW’s the Wall after losing a ton of weight! Whoa!

The match goes on and on and while there are eliminations here and there, nothing is too memorable. It is kind of crazy when a really in-shape guy named Justice starts going to town on everybody and after looking at him closely and seeing him perform a Black Hole Slam do I realize that this is the man who will one day be Abyss and Abyss’ doofy brother Joseph Park.

Things pick up with Scott Hall, fresh off of being fired from WWE for being his usual drunken self. He beats up the tired Jarrett and drops him with the Outsider’s Edge.

I should note that most of the time, they’d show the 90 second countdown in the bottom corner. I like that touch. Makes things come off as more legit. To go against the “more legit” claim, Hall sees who’s coming out next and welcomes him with open arms. It’s none other than unintentional parody of America himself, Toby Keith! Yes, the country star played a live performance earlier that was interrupted by Jarrett. He gets his revenge with a little suplex action.

Jarrett is out and I’m relieved. Hall adds a lot of charisma to the proceedings, like when he sits on the top rope and takes a breather, watching everyone else go at it. A few names down the line, we get Ken Shamrock and I do a double-take. Ken Shamrock! I forgot you even existed! I thought he was like Jenny Sparks from the Authority. Once the 20th century ended, he ceased to exist! I remember for years hoping that he’d return to the WWE so we’d get the feud with Kurt Angle that would have written itself. Alas…

Shamrock’s house of fire entry is snuffed out by Malice catching him and doing a powerbomb variation. A nice piece of foreshadowing. Brian Lawler is the last guy in there, although the guy in charge of the countdown clock doesn’t realize this for a few moments and prepares for the nonexistent #21. Whoops.

Our last five are Lawler, Malice, Shamrock, Hall and Apolo. Malice chokeslams Lawler and the other three begin to corner him. Malice demands they bring it on, but Shamrock decides that it would be better to simply toss Lawler while he’s half-dead. As Shamrock hangs back, Malice fights off both Apolo and Hall. First he backdrops Apolo to the outside. Then Hall does that stupid-ass spot that takes me out of every one of his matches.

He’s done this since his days as Razor Ramon. He sets up the Outsider’s Edge right in front of the ropes, as if he’d do the move in a way that would cripple or kill 99% of its victims. It never, ever hits and always leads to the same output: Hall gets backdropped over the top rope. Here is no different. We’re down to Shamrock vs. Malice and Ricky Steamboat comes in as the referee.

The brief match isn’t so bad, all things considered, outside of a moment where the two are so blatantly calling spots in front of the camera. It’s Malice’s size, resilience and heel manager interference vs. Shamrock’s relative freshness and submission skill. Shamrock can’t get him to tap with an armbar or ankle lock, but a belly-to-belly suplex out of nowhere catches the big man with a three-count. Shamrock is the champ. Malice looks strong here and it’s even more unfortunate that he’d pass on a year and a half later.

And what better way to end this very first TNA show that crowns its champ than cutting to Jeff Jarrett and Toby Keith being separated by security? God…

Tomorrow, we finally return to the WWE. To describe the next update in two words and a bunch of ellipses: “………………….is cooking.”

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20 Days of Battle Royals: Day 10

January 16th, 2013 Posted by Gavok

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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20 Days of Battle Royals: Day 9

January 15th, 2013 Posted by Gavok

Date: May 3, 2000
Company: WCW
Show: Thunder
Rules: I… I don’t know
Stipulation: Winner gets a WCW Championship shot at the Great American Bash
Roster (43): Tank Abbott, Brian Adams, Asya, Mike Awesome, Buff Bagwell, Big T, Big Vito, Bam Bam Bigelow, Chris Candido, Cash, Brian Clarke, Disco Inferno, Shane Douglas, “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, Ric Flair, Chavo Guerrero Jr., Don Harris, Ron Harris, Bret “Hitman” Hart, Curt Hennig, Horace Hogan, Hulk Hogan, Jeff Jarrett, Johnny the Bull, Chris Kanyon, Billy Kidman, Konnan, Lash LeRoux, Lex Luger, Medusa, Ernest “the Cat” Miller, Mona, Hugh Morrus, Diamond Dallas Page, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, Norman Smiley, Shawn Stasiak, Scott Steiner, Stevie Ray, Sting, Vampiro, Van Hammer and the Wall

During the two years before being bought off by Vince McMahon, WCW was a mess of comedic proportions. It was usually in one of two states. Either Vince Russo was the head writer and things were hilariously out of order, or he was thrown to the wayside and some other writer made the shows just as inept, only extremely boring. Usually, Russo gets the blame for most of the stuff that went on during this time, either because his garbage was more memorable or because it’s just an easier blanket statement.

Today’s battle royal entry comes from a magical time when WCW decided to have both Eric Bischoff and Vince Russo run the company together. On paper, the idea was that their good concepts would wash away any bad concepts. Buuuuuuut this is also when David Arquette is WCW Champion.

Also just want to take a second to thank Greg Merritt, who suggested I write about this match, which itself inspired me to do this daily series. He calls this battle “fascinating and terrible” and Great Zampano, he’s right!

The big storyline is that Bischoff and Russo have started a stable called the New Blood, made up of the younger wrestlers on the roster who are mad at the older, more popular wrestlers for holding them down. The older wrestlers, which include the likes of Hogan, Sting and DDP, are referred to as the Millionaire’s Club and in no way come off as devious, despite Russo’s supposed intentions to make this a “shades of gray” situation. In fact, his New Blood stable comes off as a big collection of whiners.

It also gave us the most cringe-inducing segment where Bischoff and Russo decided to reboot the title picture and that meant WCW Champion Sid had to give up the belt. Bischoff, making a sly reference to a real-life incident that only a very small fraction of viewers understood, taunted Sid by asking, “Did you forget your scissors?! …I said, did you forget your SCISSORS?!” The complete lack of reaction from the live crowd speaks volumes.

So anyway, this match. Near the end of an episode of Thunder, Bischoff and Russo are in the ring with a bunch of New Blood guys, most of them brandishing weapons. Bischoff calls out the Millionaire’s Club and invites them into some “guerrilla warfare”. I don’t know if that’s just a term here or if that’s what this match is supposed to be called. Either way, Flair accepts and brings some of his super-popular friends with him, demanding that they’ll have an over-the-top-rope battle royal and the last man standing gets a title shot at the Great American Bash. Bischoff accepts and points out that the men standing with him in the ring are the future of the business.

That might be the saddest part of this because that’s not true for a single guy in there. Guys like Ernest Miller, Buff Bagwell, the Wall and Shawn Stasiak fail to set the wrestling world on fire and the only guys involved who do all right are established wrestlers Jeff Jarrett and Scott Steiner. Yes, Steiner insisted upon being with the “young and hip” New Blood.

The challenge accepted, the Millionaire’s Club kind of jogs, then walks to the ring and we have 11-on-11, only the New Blood guys have weapons. Remember, these guys were supposed to be seen as being morally on the same level as the Millionaire’s Club.

In what seems like forever, there’s not a single elimination. Just dudes brawling. Then maybe five minutes in, some more guys run out. Konnan, Bam Bam Bigelow, the Harris Boys, etc. Commentary claims that they’re there to back up the New Blood. Then the Harlem Heat music plays and we get Stevie Ray, Cash and Big T, reminding me that there was an angle where Ahmed Johnson defeated Booker T for the right to have “T” in his name. Soon after, Tank Abbot comes out, being put over by the commentators as being a mercenary for the New Blood. It’s hard to really tell if these guys are supposed to be entrants in the match or not, but they succumb to the basic rules where being thrown out of the ring means leaving, so I’m going to say yes.

Finally, guys start getting eliminated and Millionaire’s Club members are able to get some weapons. It seems that everyone who comes out is on the New Blood’s side until Hacksaw Jim Duggan storms out with a 2×4 and lays waste to the ring until eliminating himself. Some of the WCW ladies come out and join the fray.

Then a limousine pulls up and someone with silver pants walks out. The camera refuses to pan up and we watch the man step to the arena in mystery. Who is this Pokemon?

OOOH YEAH! Savage helps clear the ring of some of the New Blood guys and tries to eliminate himself by jumping out, but Shane Douglas screws that up for him and Savage has to leave the ring between the ropes. Soon after, Bret Hart comes out and SHOCKS THE WORLD by hitting Hogan with a chair and leaving. Note, this is one of Bret’s final appearances.

DDP eliminates himself and Jarrett, which is just as well since they’re in a #1 contender’s match despite both being #1 contenders for the upcoming Sunday’s PPV already. We’re left with Kidman vs. Hogan and Flair vs. Douglas, which happen to be two of the upcoming Slamboree matches. Hogan is eliminated by going under the top rope and it seems that they’ve already changed the rules to reflect that. That puts it into question how Flair is still in the match, considering he spent a few minutes outside the ring earlier beating on Douglas with a bat.

The final two are Flair and Douglas and Flair wraps him up in the Figure Four. Russo runs in with bat in hand and accidentally hits Douglas instead.

Let me just repeat that for you.

Flair has Douglas in the Figure Four. Russo comes in and somehow accidentally hits the wrong guy.

Flair eliminates Douglas and wins his title shot. Or does he? I checked Wikipedia and Flair spent Great American Bash fighting his son while Nash got the title shot.

It’s not over. Hogan prepares a suplex spot on the outside, but Bischoff hits him in the knee and Hogan falls through a table. Savage ignores this for a minute so he can celebrate with Flair in the ring. Elsewhere, DDP and Jarrett climb a scaffold for no reason, punching each other all the way.

Savage finally chases off Kidman and Bischoff, then helps up Hogan. Savage’s very last WCW appearance is the Mega Powers buddying up.

In a final bout of incompetence, DDP does a huge bump off the scaffold, but it’s not shown. They’re so focused on Hogan/Savage that we just get a shot of DDP laying in some debris and a final shot of Jarrett celebrating on top the ramp.

Holy shit.

I’m going to do another WCW battle royal from 2000 tomorrow, but I’m going to leave with a couple quotes from this very match.

Tony Schiavone: “This has been nuts. It’s been absolutely nuts. Everything logical you can think about WCW over the past year thrown out the window.”
Mike Tenay: “Logic? Word doesn’t even exist in World Championship Wrestling!”

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