World Championship Wrestling Proudly Presents...
Welcome, cats and kittens, to yet another installment of the historically relevant Cewsh Reviews! We have a special treat for you tonight as we plunge headfirst through the endless voids of time, emerging unkempt yet stoic in the fine year 1996. And oh, what a spectacular view it is. In 1996 Braveheart won the Academy Award for Best Picture, that whole OJ Simpson thing happened, Boris Yeltzin became Russia's first president, some dudes cloned a sheep and the pop charts were ruled by the Spice Girls and the fucking Macarena. And now we have traveled back to this magical year in search of another historical moment that helped to define 1996 in the minds of millions of wrestling fans around the world. July 7th, 1996 to be exact. The day the New World Order was born. A moment that has been written about time upon time upon time. But tonight is different. Tonight, it will be reviewed by two people who have not only never seen it before, but who have only a passing relationship with World Championship Wrestling in the first place. So get ready for the formation of the now, and indeed, for all of WCW in 1996, tackled from a different perspective. If nothing else, at least i'll finally have a chance to use this:
So without any further ado, let's do a motherfucking review!
Cewsh: Ohmigod, ohmigod, ohmigod, it's so 90s.
I'm amazed there wasn't MORE denim.
Now all joking aside, as I mentioned earlier Ms. Cewsh has joined me to review this show. And let me make this clear, not only has she never seen a WCW show before, she...well i'll let her tell it.
Ms. Cewsh: I'm sure we all know “that guy”. That guy who gleefully reminds us that wrestling's fake and not worth watching. The one who jokes that all wrestling fans are beer swilling, wife beating rednecks, too dumb to realize it's rigged. Invariably, he watched as a kid, before the secret was out, and now he's out to ruin it for the rest of us.
Unfortunately, my dad is totally “that guy”. I remember watching wrestling twice in my young life: the first was probably a WWF Mania briefly flipped on and then off again with a, “Don't watch that crap, honey, it's all fake.” The second was some Dateline/60 Minutes/Sensationalism Today special on how wrestling is faked. I remember them lifting up the apron to show how the ring gives. Fascinating, but I still wasn't allowed to watch.
I saw my first wrestling match in 2005-ish, when Cewsh and I had been dating long enough that he couldn't quietly excuse himself on Monday nights. I didn't know WCW had even existed until probably 2007. And here I am writing a wrestling review blog about it.
Aren't you proud, Dad?
As this is my first introduction to WCW and only my second foray into the '90s wrestling scene, I hope you can take my perspective for what it is. Someone completely outside, looking in.
Cewsh: If it makes you feel better being on the outside of WCW limits your chances of catching something.
Cewsh: Thanks to you delightful fans, I actually already reviewed this match during our Cewsh Reviews Mega Ultra Super Technicolor Dream Show. So the debate raging in me right now centers around whether or not i'll just copy and paste that review of this match here, or provide ALL NEW CEWSH CONTENT.
Cewsh: Wrestling is rarely compared to art.
Not that that is very surprising, really. The leading connoisseurs of the activity are predominantly young men who spend absurdly large portions of their time on the internet staring at oiled up men touching each other in familiar ways. It doesn’t exactly speak to the poetic soul of humanity. However maybe wrestling would be best described as a performance art. A pseudo sport where they attempt to tell you a story through their complex movements and graceful expressions. Most wrestlers would probably not like to have themselves confused with ballerinas, but in reality, they’re in the same line of work, separated only by status and violence.
Though if you’ve ever seen ballerinas fighting for the last celery stick after a long practice, you might not even see much of a difference at all.
The point I’m trying to make is that there are times when wrestling truly can aspire to artistic value. Sometimes it’s through telling a story that leaves white hot trails across your soul. Sometimes it’s by producing a work of such barbaric depravity that it is beautiful as a picture of pure, unrestrained chaos. And then there are some times when the simple grace of the performers themselves elevates the concept as a whole. And this is one of those times.
Here we have Rey Mysterio (pre-steroids) and Psychosis (pre-insanity) going head to head for probably the 8 billionth time in their lives. As a result of their familiarity and Rey’s once in a lifetime mix of daring and grace, these two put on a spectacle that has to be seen to be appreciated. Every move is perfectly executed, every leap is perfectly measured and every spot is so carefully orchestrated, that what you get is, indeed, a ballet.
They dance together for about 16 minutes, leaving plenty of time for the fans to go nuts and the announcers to get completely befuddled by what they are seeing.
And that’s another thing to consider here. This style of wrestling was so unique in the United States at this point in history, that they had to bring in an extra commentator with knowledge of lucha libre simply to develop the vocabulary to describe what they were seeing. A few of them (Tony Schivone and Dusty Rhodes) rise to the challenge by providing enthusiasm to cover their ignorance. Bobby Heenan just remains Bobby Heenan, and the mix of enthusiasm with Mike tenay’s backing narration leads to an even more exciting way to watch the match than usual. You truly get the feeling that the announcers, the professionals, are in awe of the great new thing right alongside you, and it’s a really fantastic thing to behold.
Ultimately Rey Mysterio wins this match with a spectacular reversal of a top rope crucifix powerbomb into a reverse hurracanrana, and if any of that makes sense to you than you’ve got the wrestling bug to an incurable degree. It was a spectacular conclusion to match that, while devoid of story or improvisation, is a testament to what wrestling could be on the other end of the spectrum from the accepted way. Wrestling this clean and neat will never be perfect, or even truly great. But it can be art. And here, it is.
88 out of 100
Cewsh’s Seal of Approval
Ms.Cewsh: Rey Mysterio is one quarter of the reason I'm a wrestling fan. You'd never know now, but honestly I'm so hard on him because I'm disappointed. Like a parent. With a kid who smeared shit all over my priceless Picassos.
YOU USED TO HAVE THIS MATCH, REY! IT WASN'T THAT LONG AGO!
As for the match, it ages very well. It's an excellent opening lucha spot fest. Apparently these two had this exact match in every company all over, and it shows. They're incredibly comfortable together. Hot moves and my old, nimble Rey Rey.
It's so weird to hear Tenay. SO WEIRD. I think I'm going to have that reaction a lot.
75 out of 100
Cewsh: Mean Gene Okerlund (Hall of Famer) is backstage with Konnan and before asking him about his upcoming match or anything, he asked Konnan to explain what just happened in the end of the match we just saw. Now granted Konnan IN REAL LIFE was the intermediary who brought those two in, but to the best of my knowledge that is never mentioned anywhere here, so it appears for all the world that they just asked the nearest Mexican to explain flippies to them. Then Konnan goes on to talk about how he's going to kick Ric Flair's ass tonight, and Mean Gene looks distinctly skeptical. This is noteworthy because it will stand alone as the one and only intelligent thing Gene does during the course of this entire night.
Ms.Cewsh: So this match is between two huge guys. In an “on a pole match”. Where the goal isn't to retrieve an item to win, but to get a sock full of quarters to beat your opponent more thoroughly with. And the announcers don't know it's no DQ until after Bubba gets a belt and chokes Tenta with it. And then Jimmy Hart distracts the ref so Bubba can tape Tenta to the ropes, even though this is no DQ. And then Tenta cuts one of the flimsy supports holding the pole up. And then Jimmy Hart climbs the now unsecured pole to retrieve the sock, which Tenta then uses to beat Bubba with. Then the announcers announce Tenta has won, but then Tenta goes for a pin anyway.
I've got all that, right?
41 out of 100
Cewsh: Yep, that pretty much says it all.
The idea behind putting two guys north of 350 pounds in a pole match where the object is a solid 10 feet off the mat, let alone the floor, is questionable on it's own. The thought of having a match featuring two lumbering behemoths that aren't over and who have seen better days in every sense of the word is even more questionable. But letting them have 15 minutes to tell this story of epic proportions is perhaps the biggest miscalculation of all.
Mysterio/Psychosis was only 15 minutes ago, but after this match it may as well have been on a different show.
51 out of 100
Cewsh: Backstage again we have Lex Luger, Randy Savage and Sting all in Sting makeup and they all eagerly assert that they will be making mincemeat of those naughty Outsiders who have, like, totally been messing things up at work and stealing their paper clips and junk. Then Savage goes on a ramble of truly prodigious proportions. It was...um...good maybe? With Savage, it's always kind of hard to tell.
Ms.Cewsh: ...can you explain Macho Man to me?
Cewsh: Certainly, dear. This video should tell you everything you will ever need to know.
Cewsh: Okay, so this is a taped fist match. Starring this guy.
Ms.Cewsh: What is a taped fist match? Should I call CM Punk and Kellie Skater and inform them that they've been having gimmick matches all along?
This is the most boring match ever. Like ever, ever. Really.
49 out of 100
Cewsh: Jim Duggan's gimmick for years has been that when he Hulks Up (Duggans Up? Hacksaws Up? That's like a carpenter's toast) he gets a roll of tape and wildly wraps it around his hand, suddenly granting himself superhuman punching power. Now they both have taped hands ALL MATCH LONG and yet after the match is over Duggan winds up that tape, and punches DDP to the moon anyway. Because apparently the tape he uses instead of his FUCKING TWO BY FOUR is especially powerful, unlike the tape he, for some reason, failed to don prior to the match starting. Right.
Not that he needed it in any case, because this match is one long exhibition in beating up Diamond Dallas Page while he bumps all over the place. Page takes one fuck of an entertaining beating, but Duggan is about 10 years removed, at this point, from being able to convincing lay said beatdown without me looking impatiently at my watch and longing for a new match starring anyone, anywhere.
Well, maybe not Egotistico Fantastico.
You may also have noticed that this match is for the “Lord of the Ring”. That was not a misprint, this match is actually being contested over...a ring. Like one you wear of your finger, although since it is literally a ring, the name of it is conceivably the “Lord of The” ring, which sounds mighty prestigious to me. So now I must avail myself of you all and formally apologize to Total Nonstop Action at this time. Gentlemen and ladies, I was wrong to accuse you of being the only people stupid enough to do a wrestling angle based around a magical ring. I wish I wasn't but I was so so wrong.
I'm going to go cry now.
51 out of 100
Cewsh: The Dungeon of Doom is backstage and HOLY SHIT THE BIG SHOW IS SO FUCKING TALL COMPARED TO KEVIN SULLIVAN!
Ms.Cewsh: OH MY GOD, WHAT IS SHOW DOING?! And does Jimmy Hart manage everyone?
Cewsh: He looks familiar but I just can't place him. Hmm...
Ms.Cewsh: No. No no no. I signed on for WCW, not IWA: MS.
From “Johnny Grudge is being hanged!” two tables not breaking, the collar breaking...Tony Schiavone said it best. “That was a mess.”
I will add points for the inflatable shark.
28 out of 100
Ms. Cewsh said all that needs saying here. This was a miserable exercise in futility.
Here's what this match is. Imagine you go to a restaurant, a fancy one, for an anniversary or whatever special occasion you like. You go in and the interior is beautiful, there's an orchestra playing beautiful music, and you and your lady (or gentleman) are seated at a wonderful table with a breathtaking view. You are served a great salad with a tremendous dressing, and some great brown bread with a crispy crust. The experience has been great so far, and then the waiter comes to your table bearing a covered tray with your entree underneath, and you open it up and find, nestled between some cabbage leaves and assorted spices, a brick.
Now despite the fact that you are in a restaurant, and you have had appetizers, and you were served with all of the finery and fripperies of the occasion, the brick is not food. Wishing it is food will not make it food, and just because the waiter tells you “Well that gentleman over there very much enjoys his brick” that doesn't change the fact that IT IS NOT WHAT YOU ORDERED BECAUSE IT IS NOT FOOD. So it is here. There's a ring, a ref, some wrestlers, and this is a wrestling show, but what happens here is most assuredly not wrestling.
It is garbage. Lazy, uncoordinated, poorly thought out, insulting poor garbage. And it is inexcusable.
9 out of 100.
Cewsh: This is an interesting time in WCW history. The crusierweight division throughout its peak years were one of the most beloved and vaunted divisions in the history of wrestling, but with the luchadors only just getting their start on this show and the Japanese far less prevalent in WCW here, the division is built much more around guys who were, well, not really crusierweights at all. Disco Inferno being referred to as a crusierweight here is an incredibly generous compliment to the man, and guys like Raven (Scotty Flamingo) and Brian Pillman really weren't much better candidates. As a result, though, when people think of the crusierweight division in WCW, matches like this are most assuredly not what they are thinking about. And when people think about GOOD WCW matches, they are actually psychologically barred from even thinking the name “Disco Inferno”.
However, despite all of that, this is a complete surprise. See, the story here is that Dean Malenko is utterly no nonsense and makes a mess of anyone he faces, while Disco is a pure comedy character who has trouble winning matches because he showboats too much. So the announcers and Laenko both expect this match to be over in about 8 seconds, but Disco just keeps coming back and refusing to be defeated so easily. But even when Disco does a good job and gets Malenko down he has to visibly fight against the urge to pose and strut and do his normal things. He tries, though, and gives Malenko a serious run for his money as the announcers begin to look on with respect, before finally falling victim, as so many have, to the Texas Cloverleaf.
Frankly, this match was astonishingly good compared to my expectations for it. I've always thought Disco was horrible and Malenko was overrated, but they really put together a fun match here. This is probably without a doubt the shining moment of Glen Gilberti's career, and it's a shame that it gets so overshadowed by the opening match and the main event, but this match may very well have rescued this show from the doldrums. And that's no small feat with what has come before.
80 out of 100
Cewsh's Seal of Approval
Ms.Cewsh: Surprisingly, because of what I'd previously heard about Malenko, this is a really good, fun match. I was expecting a slow, plodding submission laden squash, but I actually got a fast paced, fairly even match with a great variety of move types.
I have no idea who Disco Inferno is. He seemed kind of goofy and bumbling at first, but he looked good during his comeback in the middle and bumped well. Hmm, typing that makes me realize I don't actually know if he was the heel or the face.
For his part, I'd always heard Malenko was a vanilla midget, like a smaller, less charismatic Benoit. I had no idea he could pull out flips and drop kicks. Very impressive. Together they had a no frills, no gimmicks, singles title match. It's all I've ever wanted! (In the last hour.)
80 out of 100
Ms. Cewsh: Why do we have a crab camera?
50 out of 100
Cewsh: Crab camera?
Well despite crab cameras, this match must be taken seriously. It is being contested between a professional football player who looks like Steven Segal on steroids and a man named Joe Gomez who I have never heard of before or since.
I truly wish I could tell you that this match defied the odds and managed to be an entertaining squash at the very least but it went for 10 goddamn minutes, with Gomez not getting in one iota of offense.
I don't want to be yet another of the people who have contributed to Steve McMichael being buried alive under a pile of scorn. Even though he was a Horseman, and a multi time champion, and was married to Debra. No, nothing but love for Mr. Mongo. Especially when he stops pretending to wrestling and goes home. But giving him 10 minutes against ANOTHER green guy and expecting this to somehow get McMichael over is pure lunacy, and thank god they eventually got the whole “football players wrestling” thing out of their system.
Eventually. But not soon enough to spare us from watching this match.
47 out of 100
Cewsh: Especially the one in the back who looks like a creepy stalker. That's my type, man.
Cewsh: First, before anything else, I need to tell you what Konnan is wearing here. The man is bald, as always, with a random bandage on the side of his head. He is wearing a traditional wrestling singlet with flames all over it, and a tassely hula skirts with tassels on his boots as well. Over top of this he is wearing Napoleon's goddamn jacket with AAA stiched onto it. Altogether it gives the impression that Konnan is a crazy Mexican pirate from Parts Unknown and this is both completely ridiculous and entirely endearing.
Ric Flair, on the other hand, is so pink he would have had to drive to the ring in a Barbie Dream Car in order to get any pinker. He has Elizabeth (aww) with him, as well as Woman (double aww) and they are going to be sticking their fine asses into this match whenever possible, as Konnan tries to fend them all off to defend his newly acquired championship.
Unfortunately, the word that best describes this match is...awkward. Ric Flair is Ric Flair and does what Ric Flair does. He does his usual spots and sells and begs off from Konnan, making Konnan look great, but Konnan seems uncomfortable wrestling Ric Flair's type of match, so they have no chemistry at all. Konnan tries his best to keep it together and keep up, but even the valets seem off in this match, like everybody here was just on a totally different page of different books. By the time the match is over, i'm glad to see it go, which sucks, because the idea of Konnan being such a rising star is really exciting to me. Perhaps here is the reason he never really rose to the top. This one match where everything fell to pieces, and neither man was able to pick them up.
62 out of 100
Ms.Cewsh: I've been trying not to bring up the unbelievable morbid undertones to watching this show. Unfortunately, 14 years is that long ago and sadly a lot of the talent have lost not only their careers or legacies, but their lives.
For some reason, watching none of the deceased wrestlers effected me, until Woman. I can't explain why, but I found her completely distracting for the entire match. Maybe because I never knew her as a wrestler until after I knew of her death, but it killed any possibility of enjoyment for me.
That lack of enjoyment was only intensified by the match. Konnan doesn't seem comfortable and a lot of the spots don't flow. Both men try, but it doesn't really seem to work. Plus Flair pushes the “refs are stupidly distractable” to epic heights and well past the reasonable suspension of disbelief.
68 out of 100
Cewsh : Gene Okerlund, just like he has all show long, is trying to figure out just who in the jingle fuck is the third man that is debuting tonight to join with the Outsiders. After spying outside the door (“His voice sounds familiar but I can't make it out”) and asking everyone on the entire roster, he's now just waiting outside the door like a loyal puppy waiting for a treat.
Don't worry Gene, you'll find out who it is soon enough. And you're not going to liiiiiiiiike it.
Cewsh: I don't know what the fuck they were thinking.
You may be assuming that that is something about Benoit, and you'd be wrong, because regardless of what he does later, all he is here is a competent wrestler trying to work with absolute dogshit for opponents. Arn Anderson and Chris Benoit were great wrestlers in their day, but the messiah couldn't return to Earth and make a (essentially) handicap match against Kevin Sullivan of all people seem interesting or noteworthy.
No, when I say “What were they thinking?” i'm referring to them putting the World heavyweight Championship of the Giant after he had had about a cup of coffee in the wrestling business and wasn't even ready to wrestle full matches on his own, much less carry an entire promotion. So they surrounded him with people to (poorly) do all the work for him until it is time for him to move on to a nother group that accomplishes the same thing. It's weird, it's lame, and it's just bad decision making, and it doesn't help that the closest thing to a storyline he'd had up until that point were some vague references to him being Andre's son. Fantastic.
When Giant finally does get into this match, after Sullivan and Benoit have wandered off, the match ends about 8 seconds later, leaving me to wonder whether or not they're doing this to me on purpose. Then, as Benoit puts the boots to Sullivan after the match is over Woman, who is not affiliated with either man in any way on the shows at this point runs down and begs Benoit to spare Sullivan. These is interesting, because Benoit was currently in the process of stealing Nancy from Kevin, and even more sad, because we know the future.
Sigh. The burden of knowledge.
50 out of 100
Ms.Cewsh: This match has exactly one positive attribute. It makes the last match look better by comparison.
Blown spots; bad camera work; a completely not ready rookie holding a belt he doesn't deserve, in a match designed to protect him; and all the participants have the charisma of wet paint drying on a piece of driftwood.
Oh, and Sullivan just wanders off at the end, in a bit of unintentional hilarity. I guess that's two positive attributes.
36 out of 100
Ms.Cewsh: One of the most famous and influential endings in wrestling history. A match that would shape the future of WCW and, by proxy, the wrestling world. Hulk Hogan turns heel for the first time in his career, beating Sting and joining with Hall and Nash.
And the match is just OK.
It seems like an elimination tag match, which I didn't really get from they hype, and the Outsiders start by saying they don't need a third man. They prove this by beating the ever loving fuckshit out of Team WCW. Luger gets taken out and it goes on as a pretty OK tag match. Then Hogan comes down, to help Team WCW because they lost a guy. The announcers wonder whose side Hogan is really on, a strange thing to ponder because he's the faciest face that has ever faced. But Hogan does turn, beating Sting, sort of. The finish is actually a no contest, because apparently Hall isn't an official referee! I know, I was shocked too.
The end is still surreal and a great moment, but because it doesn't have the shock value, it doesn't really age well. Hogan's promo is good, for him, but I never buy his character when he talks. I think it's the forced growl in his voice. Still, nothing can top the emotion of the crowd. It's worth the price of admission alone to hear those boos.
78 out of 100
Cewsh: There are two parts to this match to consider. The match itself, and the turn that ended and followed it.
The match was good, if not great. The Outsiders made fantastic heels, and are made to look so fucking amazing and badass in this match that it blows me away. They set out to make two individuals look like a threat to an entire company and that's exactly what they accomplish here, by having Hall and Nash beat eleven kind of fuckbutter out of Sting and Randy Savage after Lex Luger is knocked out by Sting on accident to start the match. The heels heel it up and the faces get their asses kicked, and everything is proceeding nicely as the heels get so much heat that the announcers start BEGGING somebody else to come out to make it a goddamn handicap match again.
It must be said, here, that regardless of any flak they have ever gotten, the WCW announce team is beyond spot on in this match. They're excited for the match, paranoid about the third man, angry about the heelishness, and downright petulant about Nash and Hall not just succumbing to the might of WCW. Then, when Hogan finally makes his arrival, the sense of elation in Tony Schiavione's voice is one of the most honest and riveting announcing calls in wrestling history, made even better when Heenan stops him mid sentence by asking which side Hogan is on. The team's indignance at Hogan's turn, and their seemingly very real emotions of anger and betrayal and anger towards Hogan sell this angle more than a million video packages could. If they could spit of Hulk Hogan they would, and that is POWERFUL.
Now the turn itself has been shown a billion time, so like Ms. Cewsh says, it has no shock value left, but that doesn't mean it isn't still a special moment, and when Hogan drops that leg on Savage man, that's a moment in time you'll never forget.
Hearing the dead silence in the crowd as they try to make sense of what is happening, only for that silence to turn into deafening boos as Hogan starts to explain his heel turn, is something special, as is the way that the fans litter the ring in garbage, not because it seemed cool to do it, but because they were honestly fucking ANGRY at Hulk Hogan for betraying them and for the newly christened now for utterly defeating WCW in their first true fight. It was a triumph in heelishness, and it was rad to see in its entirety.
So yeah, good heel work, great announcing, and the mega turn. That's enough for a seal of approval no questions asked. This isn't one of the great matches in wrestling history, but the match set up the moment flawlessly, and the moment was nothing less than magic.
83 out of 100
Cewsh's Seal of Approval
Ms. Cewsh: I was pleasantly surprised by the show. It wasn't good, I mean let's get that out of the way, but I expecting Superbrawl 2000. I got a couple good matches, a couple bad matches, and history.
I think you really have to have fond memories of Hogan or the NWO to get the last match. I don't, so I didn't really. But the cruiserweights were good, and there weren't a hundred 2 minute matches. I'll call that a positive.
Cewsh: Man were some of these old shows hard to watch.
It isn't even like this show was comically bad along the lines of late WCW, it was just basically a dreary show from a dreary time in wrestling. You could tell that a lot of that is on the cusp of changing for the very much better, but those pieces are only starting to shift into place. It'll be months and years before they hit full speed, and well, we all know how that story plays out.
The crusierweights were golden, the main event was special, the rest of the show was forgettable nonsense.
I wonder how often you could say THAT about a WCW show.
Well that'll do it for us this week boys and girls. We hope you enjoyed our blast from the past and reliving one of the most important moments in wrestling history. Next week it's back to reality as we head back to WWE after a TWO WEEK FUCKING BREAK to review WWE Hell in a Cell 2010. Will there be hell? Will there be cells? Will people be in things? Who knows? But one thing is for certain, your favorite review team will be right there to make as many puns as can fit into a single word file. So until next time be sure to keep reading and be good to one another.