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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 7

January 13th, 2013 Posted by Gavok

Date: November 22, 1998
Company: WCW
Show: World War 3
Rules: 60 men compete in three rings. Once it’s down to 20, they all converge into one ring.
Stipulation: #1 contender for WCW Championship at Starrcade
Roster (60): Chris Adams, Chris Benoit, Bobby Blaze, Ciclope, Damien, El Dandy, Barry Darsow, the Disciple, Disco Inferno, Bobby Duncum Jr., Bobby Eaton, Mike Enos, Scott Hall, Héctor Garza, the Giant, Glacier, Juventud Guerrera, Chavo Guerrero Jr., Eddy Guerrero, Hammer, Kenny Kaos, Kaz Hayashi, Horace Hogan, Barry Horowitz, Prince Iaukea, Chris Jericho, Kanyon, Billy Kidman, Konnan, Lenny Lane, Lex Luger, Lizmark Jr., Lodi, Dean Malenko, Steve McMichael, Ernest Miller, Chip Minton, Rey Misterio Jr., Kevin Nash, Scott Norton, La Parka, Sgt. Buddy Lee Parker, Psychosis, Scott Putski, Stevie Ray, The Renegade, Scotty Riggs, Perry Saturn, Silver King, Norman Smiley, Scott Steiner, Super Caló, Johnny Swinger, Booker T, Tokyo Magnum, Villano V, Vincent, Kendall Windham, Wrath and Alex Wright

I didn’t get into WCW until sometime in 1998, shortly before this event. I actually didn’t start watching WCW simply because I’m a wrestling fan, but because I was a huge fan of the Nintendo 64 game WCW/nWo Revenge. Me and my best friend rented that game so many times that it gave us enough familiarity with the product to want to start checking it out. While I didn’t watch this match on PPV, I did watch it scrambled, back when that was a thing.

World War 3 was a rather short-lived match gimmick in WCW that sounded outright epic to someone who hadn’t seen one before. Royal Rumble has 30 men? World War 3 has 60. Royal Rumble has one ring? World War 3 has three rings! Having watched them all a few years ago, I discovered that sometimes bigger isn’t exactly better. The ones for 95, 96 and 97 were complete clusterfucks. Like with that Battle Bowl match, there’d be picture-in-picture, only for that we’d see the different rings while so much battle royal brawling is going on that you can’t even keep track of what’s what and who’s who. There’s no drama and nothing worth paying attention to.

Then when you get to the end of it, there’s always some kind of dumb swerve that kills it. Real life situations makes this edition of the World War 3 match infamous, but yet it’s still easily the best one. It’s too bad that it’s the last one because they really started to get a good handle on things. No picture-in-picture. Just constant focus changes with it explicitly saying which ring it is on the screen and a tendency to not have anything too important going on in two rings at the same time. There’s a counter of how many guys are still in the rings at any given time, making things easier to follow.

Not only that, but there’s actual story going on throughout the match instead of only getting interesting once there are 20 left.

Prior to the match, we get over five minutes of introductions as nearly the entire WCW roster empties out the back and into the ring. There’s one Turnertron video playing throughout that zips through all 60 names in different fonts. The commentators keep bringing up that Hollywood Hogan isn’t there. Cute thing in there is that some of the guys had matches earlier in the night and this includes Jericho, who’s selling his match against Bobby Duncum Jr. from minutes earlier.

Finally, the rings fill up and we’re off. Ring 2 is a ring where nothing is really going on, despite being where most of the big names are. They’re just killing time so most of them can stick around for the final round. Ring 1 is made up of a lot of smaller wrestlers with name value, such as Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit, Alex Wright and Disco Inferno as they share the ring with the Giant. Giant remains in the corner for most of the match, choosing to stay to himself. Then you have Ring 3, where it’s Kevin Nash and 19 jobbers. Nash decides to just go to town and clears the ring in less than three minutes.

Before he gets around to that, there is a funny moment where El Dandy and La Parka eliminate Tokyo Magnum. Then La Parka leaves El Dandy hanging.

Who are you to not high-five El Dandy?

Van Hammer is the last challenge to Nash and puts up enough of a fight, but he too is thrown out of there. That allows Nash to sit back for the next fifteen minutes or so, hanging alone in Ring 3 to catch his breath. Amusingly, his nWo Wolfpac comrade Konnan gestures to him from the second ring that they’ll catch up on things later.

Neat moment in Ring 2 is when former long-time tag partners Stevie Ray and Booker T cross paths. They decide that it isn’t even worth the effort in fighting.

Wow, Alex. Way to show some effort. You’re like me when I’m helping someone lift a couch.

Meanwhile, back in Ring 1, Giant starts going to town on everyone. This leads to everyone in the ring going after him all at once. It doesn’t work out so well.

Disco Inferno tries to rally the troops, but Chris Benoit figures he’d be safer in attacking Disco and hoping that they survive long enough to be in the final 20. Ring 2 whittles down enough that they get that. Everyone converges onto Ring 2, although Saturn and the Cat get themselves disqualified by leaving the ring and fighting to the back. A lot of the smaller guys are removed in one fell swoop and soon we’re down to various factions sticking together. nWo Hollywood has Scott Steiner, Scott Norton and the Giant. nWo Wolfpac has Kevin Nash, Lex Luger and Konnan. The Four Horsemen has Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko and Mongo McMichael. Scott Hall is out on his own. Then you have other independent wildcards like Booker T and Wrath.

One of the stories going on in the match is the status of Scott Hall. He’s been kicked out of nWo Hollywood and they’ve been doing some awesome teasing of he and Nash getting back together. One of the better instances is when they team up to beat on the Giant together and would have him out if not for the interference by the other Hollywood members.

When they’re down to ten, WCW newcomer Bam Bam Bigelow runs out and tries to enter the ring. The survivors fight him off until security pulls him out. Soon Goldberg rushes out and they start going at it until a dozen or so security guards pull them apart. During all this, the competitors in the ring take a break a watch on.

With only a handful of guys left, Nash steps forward and points at the Giant, who has since lost his Hollywood allies. Giant is ready to fight them all off on his own, but he’s overwhelmed and gets thrown over the top by his remaining enemies. Scott Hall makes sure to wave him off as he leaves the ringside area.

Our final three are Scott Hall, Kevin Nash and Lex Luger. Nash and Luger make a friendly, “What happens happens,” gesture and it becomes a three-way brawl. Luger is the first person to knock Nash over the whole match and it allows him to take apart Hall. For this final World War 3 match, they added a stipulation that pins and submissions are allowed. On one hand, it’s a moot point as nobody is shown getting pinned or submitting, but I guess it’s just there for the sake of having Luger pick up Hall in the Torture Rack. That opens him up for Nash to get back up and take both of them out with a running boot. Nash is the last man standing and wins a shot against Goldberg at Starrcade.

Did I mention that Kevin Nash was booking this? Because he was. Nash wrote that he should dominate this 60-man match so that he could go on to main event the biggest show of the year and end Goldberg’s streak. It’s something that in hindsight it’s easy to gnash at the teeth about (no pun intended, seriously), but at the time, I was all for it. People talk about how nuts WCW was to ever end Goldberg’s streak, but here’s the thing: Goldberg’s streak was boring as hell.

They refused to ever book him properly in the first place and only put him in midcard matches against guys who had zero chance. His streak and ho-hum title reign started to make him a borderline heel because they were running low on interesting challengers and whenever he fought another face (ie. Sting and DDP), it was too easy to root for them. Personally, I thought that when it was Nash’s time to step to the plate, the whole streak concept had run its course.

Unfortunately, they went about it all in the most convoluted (AKA “WCW”) way. The match ended in a clusterfuck and led to the amazingly stupid Fingerpoke of Doom where the nWo came back together under Hogan’s leadership. And that was the beginning of the end for WCW.

Tomorrow, we return to the WWF for Vince McMahon’s foolproof plot to escape Steve Austin’s wrath.

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Wrestling History (From My Recollection): Part 2

May 13th, 2012 Posted by Gavok

In Part 1, I lazily glossed over the first century of pro wrestling and stopped at the early-mid-90′s. WWF was focused more-or-less on Bret “The Hitman” Hart, though they shoved him in the background to push a badass, near-7-foot-tall trucker named Diesel as champion. As a heel, Diesel got popular due to his ruthless and cool demeanor, but when they turned him face and made him champion, they wussed him down by making him a smiling good guy with no edge. His year as champion was a financial failure as his presence simply failed to draw money. Bret was eventually made champion again.

WCW wasn’t doing much better. This was a company where Hulk Hogan was being dry-humped by a giant mummy that the commentator kept insisting was, “THE YET-AAAY!”

ECW had brought in Steve Austin, fresh off his firing from WCW. He was injured at the time, so he could only do interviews for a while, but good gravy, were they good interviews. It was a weird fit because on one hand, he spent all of his time ranting and raving about how badly WCW treated him, which we were supposed to like. But he’d also run down ECW for being garbage, which we were supposed to hate. It was a definite prototype for what would change the business in the near future. He was soon scooped up by the WWF.

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The Summerslam Countdown: Day Nine

September 3rd, 2011 Posted by Gavok

Well, I needed a bit of a writing break to recharge my batteries and that pesky hurricane gave me little choice in the matter. Anyway, I’m back and I’m ready to finish what I’ve started. In other wrestling news, Rifftrax has released a new video on demand where they tackle the Jesse Ventura early 90′s movie Abraxas: Guardian of the Universe. It’s like a cross between Terminator 2: Judgment Day and Jack Kirby’s Fourth World, only completely and utterly boring. And with Jim Belushi as a principal only because the lead woman was his wife at the time!

Highly recommended.

Now back to the list.

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The Survivor Series Countdown: Day Eight

November 18th, 2010 Posted by Gavok

To show how bored I am when I’m not writing and how desperate I am to fill this intro space, I put together this presentation.

Stupid jerk Big Show, beating up Blue Meanie, Taka and Funaki for no reason.

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The Wrestlemania Countdown: Day Five

March 21st, 2010 Posted by Gavok

Let’s take a second to look at some random Wrestlemania trivia.

Jeff Hardy and Goldust share the worst win-loss records with 0-5. After them are Crush and the Dudley Boyz, each with 0-4.

“Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff is the only wrestler to go from the main event of one Wrestlemania to the opening match of the next. Similarly, Lex Luger and Eddie Guerrero have gone from having world title matches on one show to being in the opening match the following year. Edge and Chris Jericho have done the reverse by being in the opening match one year and then the main event the following.

Hulk Hogan vs. Zeus was once in the cards for the main event of Wrestlemania 6.

For three years in a row, scheduled matches were dropped from Wrestlemania’s card due to time restraints: British Bulldog vs. the Berzerker (Wrestlemania 8), Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Kamala (Wrestlemania 9) and a ten-man tag match (Wrestlemania 10).

Shawn Michaels and Finlay have both opened three Wrestlemanias in a row.

Bret Hart and Owen Hart have a combined 20 matches at Wrestlemania. Only one of those matches (Bret vs. Austin) has ended with a Sharpshooter.

Wrestlemania 4 is the only time Ted Dibiase has won or lost a match via pin. He’s never won or lost via submission despite his finisher.

Yokozuna has wrestled four world title matches over the course of two consecutive Wrestlemanias.

Undertaker vs. Big Boss Man is the only heel vs. heel match to take place at Wrestlemania.

The mini-tournament in Wrestlemania 10 was decided with a coin toss in-story. Had it started with Bret Hart vs. Yokozuna, Lex Luger would have had a singles match with Crush before facing the winner.

If you face Kurt Angle in a title match at Wrestlemania, you will win. If there is no title on the line, you will lose.

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