Thursday, 25 October 2018

PPV REVIEW: WCW Road Wild 1998

August 8, 1998 
Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Sturgis, South Dakota

Yes, it was that time of year again, time for the stars of World Championship Wrestling to jump on their Harleys and ride into South Dakota.

Their mission?

Put on a wrestling show that nobody would have to buy tickets for just so that head honcho and noted motorcycling enthusiast Eric Bischoff could have a chance to hang out at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

In books, articles, and on countless blogs (including this one), WCW's Road Wild concept has been written off as being a pretty dumb idea, but this time, this time the company were really out to excel themselves.

This time, the company had booked a main event so ludicrous and so baffling that it still has wrestling purists scratching their head to this day.

Here's what happened when World Championship Wrestling rode into Sturgis for the third year running with Road Wild 1998.






Jay Lenno: Wrestling Superstar?

Our show tonight began with a hype video for one of the most ill-advised main events in pro wrestling history: Hulk Hogan & Eric Bischoff against Diamond Dallas Page and Jay Leno.

WCW Road Wild 1998 Review: Mike Tenay, Tony Schiavone, Bobby 'The Brain' HeenanYes, that Jay Leno, the podgy, middle-aged television presenter who wasn't exactly renowned for his athletic prowess.

Sure, Dennis Rodman may have been terrible at the previous month's Bash at the Beach '98, but at least you could feasibly make the argument that Rodman was at the top of his chosen sport and therefore had at least some athleticism that could have made a move to pro wrestling work (if 'The Worm' wasn't so off his face when it came to match time).

Jay Leno: Wrestling Superstar, however, will forever go down in history as one of pro wrestling's all-time worst ideas.

Anyway, intro aside, we got our regular introduction from Tony Schiavone, Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan and Iron Mike Tenay. Whilst Tony Schiavone went all out with the Village People impression and Mike Tenay did at least don a spiffy-looking denim jacket, Bobby Heenan had apparently ditched the annual tradition of looking a bit silly at the Sturgis show and instead just wore a t-shirt and baseball cap.

As we'd soon see, Heenan wasn't the only one who couldn't be bothered making an effort on tonight's show.

From there, we got Mean Gene Okerlund sitting on a bike to shill the show's sponsors, after which, it was down to our first match of the evening.

The Barbarian (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. Meng

WCW Road Wild 1998 Review: Former Faces of Fear partners Meng & Barbarian faced each other
Often underrated, The Faces of Fear were one of my favourite tag teams from this period and could always be relied upon to deliver a pretty unique match.

Unfortunately, their quality as a tag team didn't translate to being able to put on a decent singles match.

Whilst Barbarian hitting a couple of huge suplexes (including one off the top rope) was genuinely exciting, they were the only things that were.

The rest was directionless brawling which served only to link the two suplex spots together.

What made things worse was that even when Barbarian hit the Big-Ass Top Rope Suplex of Doom, a cool move no matter who you are, the Sturgis crowd failed to react.

Still, at least this was a blow-off match to an epic, well-thought-out story, right?

Not exactly.

Apparently, not even the announcers new why Meng had returned after a hiatus and begun feuding with his former partner.

After a sluggish opener, Meng slapped on the Tongan Death Grip, and this one was over.
Your Winner: Meng

Though of course, it wasn't.

Throughout the match, you couldn't help but be drawn to the fact that non-wrestling manager Jimmy Hart was wearing elbow pads.

If this seemed like an odd choice of attire, it suddenly made sense. Hart and Barbarian were joined in the ring by former Dungeon of Doom teammate Hugh Morrus.

The three attacked, with Hart diving off the top rope and splashing Meng before Morrus hit the No Laughing Matter moonsault.

Finally, Hacksaw Jim Duggan stormed to the ring to put us all out of our misery and finally get the crowd active with the proverbial "USA! USA!" chant.

The Dancing Fools (Disco Inferno & Alex Wright w/ Tokyo Magnum) vs. Public Enemy (Flyboy Rocco Rock & Johnny Grunge)

WCW Road Wild 1998 Review: Alex Wright & Disco Inferno vs. The Public Enemy
With very few exceptions, I always like to give any match the benefit of the doubt.

After all, some matches which look bad on paper prove to be actually enjoyable when they actually take place.

Unfortunately, this wasn't one of those matches.

In fact, this one was even worse in practice than it looked on paper.

After several minutes of truly terrible wrestling, Tokyo Magnum handed his teammates a trash can, and Alex Wright smashed Johnny Grunge over the head with it.

Instead of calling for the DQ, the referee just stood there whilst Wright and Disco Inferno stomped the hell out of Grunge.

To make matters more silly, Rocco Rock didn't even bother to help his partner at first, instead going all the way to the back to fetch a ladder to hit them with.

It was at this point that Tony Schiavone told us "they" had changed the match into a no-disqualification street fight.

Who "they" were would remain a mystery.

If it was the wrestlers themselves, what gave them that authority?

If it was the officials in the back, how did they let the wrestlers know?

If it was the referee, why refer to him as a plural?

It was dumb.

WCW Road Wild 1998: That toilet seat is a good indication of how shit Dancing Fools vs. Public Enemy really was
What was even more dumb was that The Dancing Fools walked off and came back out with a table, then challenged Public Enemy to a street fight AFTER Schiavone had already told us that's what it was.

The Public Enemy then went to the back again and brought out more junk including a toilet seat and the kitchen sink because, you know, the kitchen sink joke in hardcore matches never got old.

More garbage -in every sense of the word- followed. This included an incredibly botched ladder spot and Magnum Tokyo accidentally hitting Alex Wright, causing both men to just...walk off.

"This is a mess," said Tony Schiavone, vocalising what we were all thinking.

I say all, the Sturgis crowd did seem to like the sight of grown men hitting each other with aluminium cookie sheets and trash can lids, but honestly, Schiavone was right. This was a mess.

With his partners gone, Disco Inferno had to writhe around selling a beating for the better part of three minutes whilst Public Enemy rearranged furniture for the finishing spot.

Honestly, this took so long that it completely took you out of the match, or at least it would have done had the rest of said match not been so utterly awful.

In the end, Grunge put Disco on top of three tables and Rocco climbed a lighting rig then crashed onto Disco.

Grunge rolled Disco back in the ring, and this was finally over.
Your Winners: The Public Enemy

Man, this was really not a good show so far.

Dean Malenko: Special Referee

WCW Road Wild 1998: Dean Malenko hangs out in the Internet Location
Out in the back, Lee Marshall (looking like a fat Ted Dibiase) asked Dean Malenko if he could be impartial in his role as special guest referee for the cruiserweight championship match between Chris Jericho and Juventud Guerrera.

In his usual charismatic, flamboyant style, The Man of 1,000 Holds basically said that no, he wouldn't.

So there was that.

Raven's Rules: Falls Count Anywhere in Sturgis City Limits Triangle Match
Raven (w/ Lodi) vs. Saturn vs. Kanyon

Raven and Saturn had put on a spectacularly bad match back at Bash at the Beach, but with the addition of Kanyon, they were able to take things up a notch and deliver a passable Falls Count Anywhere match.

An early highlight saw Kanyon and Saturn pay homage to the latter's ECW days by drilling Raven with Total Elimination (or as Joey Styles would have it TOTALELIMINATION!), after which we got your standard three-way match with a walk up to the entrance way and back again.

Though it failed to elicit any real excitement, this was at least more entertaining than the two matches, right up until the finish where Lodi ran in, Horace Boulder got involved and made a terrible mess of everything, and Saturn DVD'd Raven for the win.
Your Winner: Saturn

Not one person in Sturgis cared.

Psicosis vs. Rey Mysterio Jr

Winner Earns a Cruiserweight title shot

WCW Road Wild 1998: Psicosis vs. Rey Mysterio Jr.
Eschewing the usual lightning-fast pace of your typical cruiserweight match, Psicosis and Rey Mysterio Jr. worked a slower, more methodical style here and, surprisingly, it worked really well.

Though this may not have been to the level of their previous pay per view outing at Bash at the Beach 1996, it was still an enjoyable bout that proved the two were much, much more than just one-dimensional spot monkeys.

After a good effort which saw Psicosis dominate the bulk of the contest, Mysterio hit a neat springboard 'rana to earn the right to challenge for the cruiserweight championship.
Your Winner: Rey Mysterio Jr

Moving on, this show was about to go from bad to worse.

World Championship Wrestling World Television Championship
Acting TV Champion Stevie Ray vs. Chavo Guerrero (w/ Pepe)

This whole thing was so confusing and outright stupid that I had to go read a whole bunch of backstory just to make sense of it.

WCW Road Wild 1998: Chavo Guerrero faced Stevie Ray for the TV title - neither man was actually the champion
Basically, Booker T was the actual TV Champion, but he was injured so his brother, Stevie Ray, had taken it upon himself to defend the title.

Since nobody had actually told him not to, Stevie had declared himself the champion.

This led Chavo Guerrero to state -quite rightly- that if Stevie could just randomly declare himself the champ, then so could he.

Thus, Chavo, now in full-on bat-shit crazy mode following his big feud with Uncle Eddie, claimed that he had just as much right to call himself the legitimate champ as Stevie Ray did, and had even typed up a contract to make it official.

On the face of it, that's actually a logical storyline.

I'm not saying it's a great one, but in theory, it works.

In practice, however, none of this was actually explained properly, so all you got was Chavo randomly talking about a contract, two minutes of Stevie Ray chasing Chavo around the ring before hitting him with the Slapjack (Pedigree) for the three count.
Your Winner and Still Self-Proclaimed TV Champion (Dave Penzer's words): Stevie Ray

Afterwards, Big Stevie threatened to beat up Chavo some more, but Eddie Guerrero, who had been feuding with his nephew right up until the previous month, came out to make sure Chavo came to no further harm.

Still quite rightly not trusting his uncle, Chavo refused any help.

Again, this could have worked. This should have worked, but it was all played out in a half-assed random fashion that it made no sense.

Nor did the announcers even try to make it make sense which, you know, is kind of their job.

Chris Jericho is Ready for Juvi

Out in the 'Internet Location,' Cruiserweight Champion Chris Jericho told Lee Marshall that he was going to put away Juventud Guerrera once and for all.

Rick Steiner vs. Scott Steiner

WCW Road Wild 1998: Scott Steiner (w/ Buff Bagwell) tries to get out of his match with Rick Steiner
And so, months after turning on his brother back at Superbrawl VIII in February, Scott Steiner was finally going to get his comeuppance against Rick Steiner here tonight.

Except he wasn't.

Instead, J.J. Dillon came out and told us that because Rick had battered Scott with a steel chair on that week's episode of Thunder, doctors had declared that Big Poppa Pump would be unable to compete for the next two weeks.

Just to hammer the point home, Buff Bagwell wheeled Scott Steiner out on a hospital bed, wrapped up in casts and wearing an oxygen mask and a drip. Bagwell also wore a neckbrace for reasons obscure.

With the crowd chanting a very loud "BULLSHIT! BULLSHIT!" Dillon informed us that the match would take place at Fall Brawl, and if it didn't, Scott Steiner would be "banned for life" for wrestling.

At that point, Steiner made a miracle recovery and lept from his bed in anger. Rick Steiner then gave chase and that was that.

Bullshit indeed.
No Contest

On a related note, the "wear a cast to pretend you're injured but then suddenly forget you're injured and make a miracle recovery" thing is the exact same gimmick Buff Bagwell had already used at Spring Stampede 1998 just a few months earlier.

Brian Adams (w/ Vincent) vs. Steve 'Mongo' McMichael

WCW Road Wild 1998: Steve 'Mogo' McMichael faced Brian Adams
Look, I'm not going to lie and tell you this was a good match. However, I do have a bit of a soft spot for Steve 'Mongo' McMichael.

The guy was hugely charismatic and he always gave it everything he had, even if what he had wasn't very much.

So yes, I enjoyed watching Mongo here, and yes, I know I'm probably one of only three people in the world who did.

In reality, the match was nothing to get too excited about and ended with a ref bump, a botched chairshot which saw Vincent hit teammate Brian Adams, and a Mongo Spike (Tombstone Piledriver) for the win.
Your Winner: Steve 'Mongo' McMichael

Afterwards, Mean Gene hung out with some hot women to once again shill the show's sponsors.

World Championship Wrestling Cruiserweight Championship
WCW Cruiserweight Champion: Chris Jericho vs. Juventud Guerrera

Special Guest Referee: Dean Malenko
WCW Road Wild 1998: Chris Jericho defended the Cruiserweight Championship against Juventud Guerrera
At his most arrogant and annoying best, Chris Jericho did a perfect job of riling up the fans before the match, telling them that he rode a Honda motorcycle and calling the fans 'Weekend Warriors.'

Clearly, Jericho was one of the few men on the card who came motivated to work today.

At least his opponent was equally as fired up.

Between the two of them, Jericho and Juventud Guerrera were able to get the crowd more involved in the show than they had been at all up to this point, pulling them along for a very good cruiserweight championship match which was helped further by Malenko.

After what turned out to be the best match on the card, Jericho found himself on the top rope. Juvi charged forward, Malenko launched him into the air towards Jericho, and one top-rope hurricanrana later, we had ourselves a new champion.
Your Winner and New WCW Cruiserweight Champion: Juventud Guerrera

Afterwards, Deano Machino laid out Jericho, who could later be seen throwing a tantrum and whacking the corner post with a steel chair.

nWo Invitational Battle Royal
Featuring: WCW World Heavyweight Champion Goldberg, Scott Hall, Scott Norton, The Giant, Scott Hall, Curt Hennig, Konnan, Lex Luger, Kevin Nash, and Sting

WCW Road Wild 1998: Scott Hall & The Giant
If you ever wanted to see a bunch of main event stars (and Konnan) standing around doing as little as possible, this the match for you.

Right from the word go, you got the distinct impression that nobody in the ring would have even moved if they thought they could get away with it.

It's like they went out to deliberately do the bare minimum and go home. Hell, Lex Luger didn't even bother to get changed, wrestling the whole thing in jeans.

Anyway, with a pinfall or over-the-top rules, Goldberg threw everybody out (apart from Kevin Nash, who eliminated himself going after former partner Scott Hall) and then hit an admittedly-impressive Jackhammer on The Giant to pick up the win.
Your Winner: Goldberg

Ladies and gentlemen, there's still half an hour left and only one match to go, this can't be good, especially as we all know what that match is.

Hollywood Hulk Hogan & Eric Bischoff (w/ The Disciple and Miss Elizabeth) vs. Diamond Dallas Page & Jay Leno (w/ Kevin Eubanks)

WCW Road Wild 1998: Jay Leno & Diamond Dallas Page
Kevin Eubanks is apparently Jay Leno's band leader from his TV show...

Because if there's anyone you want in your corner to back you up in a pro wrestling match, it's a band leader.

Surprisingly, this wasn't the worst match on the card tonight, in fact, it actually wasn't *that* terrible.

Perhaps it's because the last time Hogan and DDP met in a tag team main event, an off-his-face Dennis Rodman had been involved and made the whole thing look a mess.

Compared to Rodman's performance, Jay Leno looked like AJ Styles, and to give the TV host his credit, he did try hard and put in some effort.

Still, despite said effort, and a good effort from all involved, this was still only decent at best.

After an over-the-top back-and-forth contest, Eubanks hit Bischoff with Diamond Cutter, Lenno got the pin, and this was all over.
Your Winners: DDP and Jay Leno

Post-match, the nWo did a beat down until Goldberg ran out for the save. We then had an awkward moment where Goldberg and the referee botched the typical "everybody stand with their hand raised" spot to end the show. Making a mess of such a simple move was actually a fitting end to such a horrible, horrible show.





Though you have to give Jay Lenno credit for working as hard as he could, it really does speak volumes about the quality of Road Wild 1998 that his match wasn't the worst thing on the card. 

With the notable exception of Jericho/Juvi, nothing on this show was worth watching, and though I gave some praise to Mysterio/Psicosis and the three-way Raven's Rules matches, those bouts were only really good in context and, in the grand scheme of things, really aren't worth tracking down. 

Watch for the novelty value of Jay Lenno: Wrestling Superstar, but otherwise, avoid this show. 

I ended last month's Bash at the Beach review by saying that it was one of WCW's worst shows of 1998, if not all time, but I stand corrected. This is, and by a long shot. 



1998 events reviewed so far
  1. WWF - Royal Rumble 1998 
  2. WCW - Souled Out 1998
  3. WWF - In Your House 20: No Way Out of Texas 
  4. WCW - Superbrawl 1998
  5. WCW - Uncensored 1998 
  6. WWF - Wrestlemania 14 
  7. WCW Spring Stampede 1998
  8. WWF - In Your House 21: Unforgiven
  9. WCW Slamboree 1998
  10. WWF - In Your House 22: Over The Edge
  11. WCW Great American Bash 1998 
  12. WWF - King of the Ring 1998
  13. WCW - Bash at the Beach 1998 
  14. WWF - In Your House 23: Fully Loaded 
Other WCW Road Wild Reviews
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