Mega Powers Running Wild!

The legendary 'Macho man' Randy Savage teams up with 'The Immortal' Hulk Hogan to take on Ted Dibiase and Andre The Giant in the first ever WWF Summerslam!

Shawn Micahels vs. Mankind

The Heartbreak Kid defends the WWF Championship against Mankind in a thrilling main event at WWF In Your House: Mind Games.

The Birth of the nWo

From Hulk Hogan's shocking turn at WCW Bash at the Beach 1996 to the addition of Ted Dibiase, THe Giant Syxx and more, relive the very beginning of the New World Order.

Austin 3:16 Says I Just Kicked Your Ass

It's one of the most famous promos of all time; Stone Cold Steve Austin wins the 1996 King of The Ring and serves notice on all the WWF superstars. Check it out in our complete review

Wrestlemania 12 Review

The boyhood dream comes true as Shawn Michaels battles champion Bret 'The Hitman' Hart in a classic 1-hour iron man match. Plus, Diesel vs. Undertaker and more.

WCW Fall Brawl 1996 Review

Was Sting in cahoots with the New World Order? Would Lex Luger be able to get along with the Four Horsemen as they faced the nWo in War Games? Find out in this review

Thursday, 10 October 2019

PPV REVIEW: WCW Mayhem 1999

WCW Mayhem 1999 - Event poster
November 21, 1999
Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

To give WCW credit, when they went with an idea, they really, really went all the way with it.

When they created the nWo, they recruited half the roster to the black & white army and even ran their own nWo PPV.

When they wanted to truly compete with the World Wrestling Federation, they brought in most of that company's biggest stars and most recognizable faces, hiring everyone from Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage to Mean Gene Okerlund and Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan.

And when they needed a babyface to save Sting from the clutches of the evil Four Horsemen? They didn't just send in any babyface, they sent in freakin' Robocop!

And so it was that when the company teamed up with Electronic Arts to produce a new video game called WCW Mayhem, they once again proved just how much they loved going all the way with things.





Not only did we get the video game, but we also got a music album which combined a small number of wrestlers' entrance themes with a random selection of pop, hip-hop, and metal.

As if that wasn't enough, the company decided to take the Mayhem brand to the next logical level:

Creating an entire PPV designed to promote the video game, and generate interest in the absolute musical weirdness that was  WCW Mayhem: The Album.

Was it any good? Let's head to WCW's first ever PPV from Canada to find out.

The tournament finals are tonight!

After the bizarre, confusing, and annoying finish to last month's Halloween Havoc 1999, Sting had been stripped of the WCW title for attacking an official. As a result, the WCW brain trust had created a 32-person tournament for the vacant title.

At the start of tonight's show, Tony Schiavone talked us through clips from Nitro which showed the first few rounds of the competition.

In notable highlights, Madusa persuaded the Powers That Be to let her enter the competition, only to lose her match to none other than Meng.

Madusa then got re-added to the competition for no apparent reason, but then lost her second attempt to Chris Benoit, who made it all the way the semi-finals after also beating arch-rival Dean Malenko in a steel cage match.

Jeff Jarrett had also made it to the finals by virtue of being 'The Chosen One,' as had Sting -who got in by hitting Brian Knobbs with a baseball bat and pinning him in about five seconds.

Finally, Bret Hart had also made it through despite being injured.

After this lengthy opening video, we then got a second opening video which told us pretty much the same thing as the first, albeit with more soundbites from the various wrestlers promising to become our new champion.

With that, we got the usual introduction from Schiavone and Heenan (I miss Mike Tenay being part of the announce booth), and it was onto our first semi-final match.

World Championship Wrestling World Heavyweight Championship Tournament Semi-Final 1:
Jeff Jarrett vs. Chris Benoit

WCW Mayhem 1999 - Jeff Jarrett battled Chris Benoit
Easily one of the best opening PPV matches of that year, if not of the past several years, Chris Benoit vs. Jeff Jarrett was absolutely tremendous.

Holding nothing back, both went at it full-tilt in a fast-paced, hard-hitting contest with nary a dull moment in sight.

After trading the advantage several times, The Crippler looked to have things sewn up thanks to his patented top rope headbutt, only for Creative Control (Ron & Don Harris) to save Jarrett from defeat.

At that point, Dustin Rhodes ran in to fight with the Harris boys which distracted referee Charles Robinson.

With Lil Naitch's back turned, Benoit was able to wallop Jarrett with Double J's own guitar and score the fall.
Your Winner: Chris Benoit

Afterwards, a blood Jeff Jarrett joined Creative Control in laying waste to Benoit until Doug Dillinger and a gaggle of nobodies ran in to break things up.

Disco is all about the mon-ay

WCW Mayhem 1999 - Mike Tenay interviews Cruiserweight Champion Disco Inferno
Out in the back, Mike Tenay reminded Disco Inferno that as well as putting his cruiserweight title on the line against Evan Karagious, he was also putting up $25,000 of his own money.

Tenay questioned whether Disco cared more about the money than the title, but before the champ could really explain how insulted he was by that remark, he was attacked by Jeff Jarett for no reason.

Jarrett laid into Disco and was eventually pulled off him by an odd assortment of characters including Konnan and Jerry Only from The Misfits.

World Championship Wrestling World Cruiserweight Championship
WCW Cruiserweight Champion Disco Inferno (w/ Tony Marinara) vs. Evan Karagious (w/ Madusa)

WCW Mayhem 1999 - Evan Karagious (w/ Madusa) faced Disco Inferno for the cruiserweight title
The actual match here was pretty good - not flashy, not out of the ordinary, but a relatively decent cruiserweight title match.

The only problem was that you couldn't really pay any attention to it because some annoying little kid called Tony Marinara was doing color commentary.

The story was that Marinara was the son of some kind of New York Italian mobster, who had been sent by his dad to collect a $25,000 debt owed by the Disco Inferno. Disco, it seemed, had been spending beyond his means, which made the whole concept of him putting $25K on the line seem like absolute nonsense.

Doing his best (worst) imitation of a character he once saw in a Godfather movie, Mariana spent the whole match talking about himself which was completely off-putting.

In the end, he got involved in the finish, which saw him accidentally take a chair shot from Disco Inferno.

Seizing the opportunity, Karagious got Disco in the ring and rolled him up for a three count.

The weird thing was that despite winning the title, Karagious appeared like an afterthought in this match. Even his girlfriend, Madusa, played a more important role.
Your Winner and NEW WCW Cruiserweight Champion: Evan Karagious

Backstage, Bret Hart was shown entering the arena and sipping on a Starbucks.

Elsewhere, an off-camera Vince Russo was heard yelling at Jeff Jarrett for screwing up his match with Benoit. Russo warned Jarrett that he had until the end of tonight's show to prove himself.

WCW Mayhem 1999 - Mean Gene Okerlund interviews Screamin' Norman Smiley Screamin' Norman Screams as Normal

Out in the back, Screamin' Norman Smiley was all decked out in full Toronto Maple Leafs hockey gear to protect him in his upcoming hardcore title match against Brian Knobs.

Smiley told Mean Gene Okerlund that he was more than ready for Knobs, but then panicked and screamed like a girl when he heard someone doing construction work off camera.

It was supposed to be funny.

It wasn't.

World Championship Wrestling Hardcore Championship
Brian Knobs (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. Screamin' Norman Smiley

What was funnier was this: a kind of slapstick comedy hardcore match in which Knobs and Smiley battered each other with a thousand trashcan shots before wandering off backstage for a brawl through the food storage area.

There, Jimmy Hart climbed a ladder and hilariously began throwing food at Norman from a self.

WCW Mayhem 1999 - Nasty Boy Brian Knobs faced Norman Smiley for the WCW Hardcore titleNext, they brawled into an elevator, but when they came to get out, Hart accidentally struck his own man, allowing Norman to get the win and become the company's first ever hardcore champion.

Though this may not have been a classic match, it was certainly a lot of fun in a goofy, comedic kind of way.
Your Winner and NEW WCW Hardcore Champion: Norman Smiley

Post-match, Knobs hit Smiley with yet another garbage can then beat up on Hart for costing him the match.

You say you want a revolution...

Up next, we got a video package highlighting the feud between The Revolution and The Filthy Animals.

Out in the back, Revolution hinted to Mike Tenay that they would be gunning for Torrie Wilson. Now the oddball of the group, Perry Saturn then appeared to randomly take credit for wiping out the dinosaurs before storming off.

Across the way, The Filthy Animals offered a retort to Mean Gene, basically cutting a generic promo in which they vowed to end Revolution.

In other backstage shenanigans, Tony Marinara promised that he was showing up to Nitro the following night and bringing 'The Boys' (The Mamalukes) which left Disco rocking back and forth and referring to himself as a dead man.

Elsewhere, Jeff Jarrett stormed down a corridor having apparently stolen a 2x4 from Jim Duggan.

Six-Person Inter-Gender Elimination Match
The Revolution (Dean Malenko, Perry Saturn & Aysa w/ Shane Douglas) vs. The Filthy Animals (Eddie Guerrero, Torrie Wilson & WCW Tag Team Champion Billy Kidman w/ WCW Tag Team Champion Konnan)

WCW Mayhem 1999 - Torrie Wilson
For saying there was so much incredible talent involved, this proved to be a seriously sloppy mess of a match.

At various times it looked as though the wrestlers had all had some big falling out backstage and refused to sell to each other. Eddie Guerrero dropkicked Dean Malenko in the back, but the Iceman just turned around and acted as nothing happened.

Later, Eddie put Saturn down then climbed the ropes, only for Saturn to pop back again as if he'd just had a really refreshing nap.

When the wrestlers did lock up, most of the actual action looked disjointed and horrible.

There have been worse matches than this in pro wrestling history, but probably none as overwhelmingly disappointing as this one.

In the end, Torrie Wilson was the sole survivor for her team but she got beat when Perry Saturn hit her with a low blow.

Yes, you read that correctly. A woman lost to a low blow.
Your Winner: Perry Saturn

Out in the back, Jef Jarrett was seen beating up Buff Bagwell in the locker room.

Loser Retires Match
Curt Hennig vs. Buff Bagwell

WCW Mayhem 1999 - Curt Hennig lost his 'retirement match' to Buff Bagwell
The announcers kept referring to this as a "loser must hang up his boots" match, but I'm pretty sure they meant it was a retirement match and not that the loser had to tidy his clothes away.

Curt Hennig was no longer a West Texas Redneck and was back to being just a straight-up pro wrestling legend, though I believe his feelings about the quality of rap music remained unchanged.

Here, he too got beat up by Jeff Jarrett and Creative Control before entering into a passable contest with Buff Bagwell.

Though neither man's finest hour,  it's was perfectly acceptable as mid-card filler which would have been Ok if this weren't, for all intents and purposes, Hennig's retirement match.

After a strong performance, he lost the bout to Buff Bagwell, who then walked off as though retiring a legend was no big deal.
Your Winner: Buff Bagwell

Post-match, Hennig got a standing ovation from the Canadian crowd.

Sting's formula for success

WCW Mayhem 1999 - Mike Tenay interviews Sting
Out in the back, Mike Tenay told Sting that his formula for success was "beat Bret Hart."

I'm not sure if Tenay knew that this wasn't actually a formula.

Sting replied by asking Tenay to relay a message to The Hitman:

He didn't care if they were in Canada, he was still going to beat him.

Alas, Tenay wouldn't get to relay that message as the match was next, meaning Sting would see Bret before Tenay did.

World Championship Wrestling World Heavyweight Championship Tournament Semi-Final
Bret 'The Hitman' Hart vs. Sting

WCW Mayhem 1999 - Sting and Bret Hart faced off in the World title tournament
The last time these two fought on PPV was at Halloween Havoc 1998.

This one was marginally better than that one, but only marginally. For the most part, the two veterans put on a solid show, but then it all came unraveling with the arrival of The Total Package Lex Luger.

Luger took Sting's baseball bat and waffled Sting with it, but Bret wasn't happy, so he attacked Luger and put him in the sharpshooter.

Referee Mickie Jay then decided that because Luger had struck Sting, Sting should be disqualified because who the hell cares about logic, right?

The Hitman argued with Jay that he didn't want to win that way and encouraged the match to be restarted. When it did, things got much better and we actually got a pretty dramatic final sequence which saw The Hitman reverse the Scorpion Death Lock into a Sharpshooter for the Eins, Zwei, Drei.
Your Winner: Bret Hart

Afterwards, Sting called Bret back into the ring for a showdown but revealed that he actually just wanted to shake The Hitman's hand as a mark of respect.

The Crippler is Ready for The Hitman

Out in the back, Mean Gene Okerlund interviewed Chris Benoit about his world title tournament final match against The Hitman. Benoit, as charismatic and flamboyant as ever, promised to overcome Bret later on tonight.

Man, talk about an over-the-top personality.

Lex is Hurt

WCW Mayhem 1999 - Lex Luger feigned an injury
I feel like this doesn't get said enough:

In terms of character, few were better in the 80s and 90s than heel Lex Luger. Sure, he may not have been amazing in the ring, but his mannerisms were out of this world, and always made this writer in particular laugh out loud.

Here, he was found backstage sporting a neck brace (sorry, 'cervical collar') and telling Mike Tenay that Bret Hart had injured him so much in that last match that there was just no way he could compete tonight.

Ever the generous soul that he was, The Total Package promised to write a personal check to every fan who had hoped to see him wrestle tonight.

His manager, Elizabeth, agreed that this was very generous, though you sort of got the feeling she was more than a little tired of Flexy Lexy ducking out of matches.

Chain Match
Vampiro (w/ Jerry Only) vs. Berlyn (w/ The Wall)

WCW Mayhem 1999 - Berlyn and Vampiro battled in a crappy dog collar match
Though it was called a 'chain' match, this was supposed to be your standard dog collar match.

I say supposed to be because what it actually turned out to be was a big pile of insulting garbage.

Vampiro put the collar around his neck, but then Berlyn decided that he'd rather knock out Lil Naitch than put his collar on. What transpired next was that we got about five minutes of Vampiro brawling inside the ring with The Wall, and Berlyn duking it out with Jerry Only off camera.

This was bad enough, but it was made worse by the arrival of Oklahoma and Steve Williams.

You remember Oklahoma, right?

Basically, it was Ed Ferrara doing a very distasteful parody of Jim Ross.

It was awful, and it made the presentation of this whole terrible match even worse.

In the end, The Wall stormed off after getting into an argument with Berlyn, leaving the former Alex Wright to take a pounding from Vampiro and Jerry Only.

Naturally, Vampiro won the match.
Your Winner: Vampiro

Afterward, Dr. Death destroyed Vampiro.

Scott Hall issues an Open Challenge

Out in the back, Mean Gene Okerlund told us that since Rick Steiner was in the hospital after getting powerbombed through the stage by Sid, that somehow made Scott Hall the Television Champion.

Carrying both the TV belt and the US belt, Hall told Mean Gene that he was issuing an open challenge for tonight. Hall looked a mess here.

One in, one out

Also in the back, Curt Hennig was shown leaving the arena, shaking hands with the likes of Konann on his way out. As he left, Kimberly Page arrived through another entrance, ready for her match against David Flair.

Oh boy, can't wait for that one.

Lex Luger (w/ Elizabeth) vs. Meng

WCW Mayhem 1999 - Lex Luger was an awesome heel
Apparently, The Powers That Be had ordered Lex to compete despite his "injury," so he was forced to face Meng, who he had attacked with a crowbar in order to advance in the world title tournament.

The match wasn't bad, but you know, it was Lex Luger vs. Meng, so it was never going to be a five-star classic.

The sole highlight was when Meng had Luger down in the corner and stood on his neck brace, prompting the clearly terrified Luger to call out "help! help!"

Didn't I tell you heel Lex was a riot?

At the finish, Elizabeth spent about five hours trying to take the top off a can of mace while Luger and Meng hung around on the ropes waiting for, all but killing suspension of disbelief.

Liz was then supposed to spray it at Meng, only for Meng to Meng to move and Lex to get a face full of it, but instead, she pointed the can directly and Lex and sprayed.

It looked stupid.

Finally, Meng tore off Luger's neck brace and slapped on the Tongan Death Grip for the win.
Your Winner: Meng

You know, when this show started I had really high hopes that it was going to be a great show, but the longer it goes on, the worse it seems to get.

Putting friendship aside

Out in the back, Bret 'The Hitman' Hart told Mean Gene Okerlund that he was going to put his friendship with Chris Benoit aside in order to beat him for the WCW title.

World Championship Wrestling United States and Television Championship
WCW US and TV Champion Scott Hall vs. Booker T

WCW Mayhem 1999 - Scott Hall defended the WCW and TV titles against Booker T
It's honestly hard to tell if Hall was drunk or if he'd just stopped caring. Either way, he looked a mess here.

The weirdest part was that despite this, he was able to have a pretty good with the man who answered his open challenge:

Booker T.

Though short, this double title match was pretty enjoyable, at least it was until Jeff Jarrett came down and helped Hall defeat Booker with the Outsider Edge.
Your Winner and still US and TV Champion: Scott Hall

Post-match, Jarrett and Creative Control beat up on Booker T. The lights went out, and when they came back on, a female bodybuilder called Midnight appeared and saved Booker.

Meanwhile, behind the scenes, Lex Luger went looking for Elizabeth.

From there, we got a look at the story behind our next match. That story was basically that David Flair was some kind of psycho stalker and potential rapist, with Kimberly as his victim.

The two would face off next.

Kimberly vs. David Flair

WCW Mayhem 1999 - David Flair faced Kimberly Page
Tony Schiavone called this "one of tonight's marquee matches," which should tell you everything you need to know about the state of WCW in 1999.

This was less of a match and more of a crappy angle. Flair threatened to bash Kim's head in with a crowbar, so Kimberly kicked him in the nuts. Flair didn't flinch, giving us the idea that he was wearing a cup, so Kim pretended she was getting ready to go down on him, then whipped the cup out and blasted him in the balls anyway.

She beat David up some, but he regained the upper hand and the damsel in distress had to be rescued by her husband's friend Chris Kanyon. Finally, DDP himself came out and was about to hit Flair with the crowbar when Arn Anderson came to David's rescue.

The Pages walked off, and that was that.
No contest

WCW Mayhem 1999 - Mike Tenay interviews Sid Vicious Afterwards, Flair walloped Anderson in the back with a crowbar and Double-A had to be stretchered out, which seemed a little excessive.

We then got a video for the upcoming Sid/Goldberg match, followed by Mike Tenay interviewing Mr. Vicious himself.

Big Sid told Tenay that he would never say 'I Quit' to Bill Goldberg, but would instead beat on Bill until he admitted that Sid was the Master and the Ruler of the World.

I don't care what you say, Sid was always great.

I Quit Match
Goldberg vs. Sid Vicious

I say 'great,' I mean more in terms of his promos and character than anything he did in the ring.

Of course, it didn't help that they made this an I Quit match, effectively taking away the only things that made Sid and Goldberg attractions and forcing them to wrestle a submission style match neither man was suited to.

After a few minutes of nothingness, Goldberg made Sid pass out, and that was basically that.
Your Winner: Goldberg

Backstage, Lex Luger told Mean Gene that he was going to get even with Elizabeth for costing him the match with Meng.

Finally, it was time for our main event.

World Championship Wrestling World Heavyweight Championship Tournament Final
Chris Benoit vs. Bret 'The Hitman' Hart

WCW Mayhem 1999 - The Best There is, The Best There was, and The Best There Ever Will BE
This had the potential to be an all-time classic main event.

Instead, run-ins from Dean Malenko, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, and Goldberg all diluted things to a large degree. The run-ins were all completely unnecessary, but even despite them, Hart and Benoit worked tirelessly to deliver the best main event they could given the circumstances.

The only sad thing was that such circumstances dictated that this was only going to be a very good match rather an incredible one.

Not that this is much of a complaint. This was still a great effort that ended with a win for The Hitman courtesy of the Sharpshooter.
Your Winner and NEW WCW World Heavyweight Champion: Bret Hart

Bringing his wife and kids into the ring, The Hitman hugged Benoit then celebrated with his new title and the Canadian flag as Mayhem went off the air.





And so WCW's first PPV in Canada was headlined by a good main event between two of Canada's biggest stars, but was it any good?

Yes and no.

On the whole, this was far better than some of WCW's other PPVs from 1999. The opening Benoit/Jarrett match, the fun hardcore match and both of Bret Hart's two matches delivered to an extent, but again there was a lot of frustrating and confusing moments, dumb stuff like the Elizabeth botch, and The Filthy Animals vs. Revolution match in which everybody seemed to phone it in.

With another thirteen or fourteen WCW PPVs to go, I'm hoping, praying, that we get at least one more good show from start to finish but to be honest, I won't hold my breath.



1999 events reviewed so far
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    Thursday, 3 October 2019

    WCW Mayhem - The Music (1999) - A track-by-track review

    WCW Mayhem - The Music album -  A Track-by-Track Review

    Give WCW their due, when they hit on an idea they liked, they sure did milk it for all it was worth.

    Don't believe me?

    Just look at how much mileage they got -or at least tried to get- out of the New World Order or how many Fake Stings we got over the years.

    So it shouldn't have come as much of a surprise back in 1999 when somebody decided they liked the name Mayhem so much that they decided to plaster it not only to a video game, but also an entire Pay Per View event and yes, even a tie-in CD.

    OK, perhaps it was a little surprising that they even bothered to release an album.

    For while the WWF had released numerous albums over the years, World Championship Wrestling had only really put out one release, 1992's Slam Jam Vol 1, an album which gave us songs about how Ricky Steamboat didn't cheat on his wife.

    Sure, there was Christmas Brawl in 1996, but that was more of a promotional marketing gimmick than anything else.

    Since both of those releases, the presentation of WCW had changed dramatically, and so too had the music which went along with it.

    Gone was the cheese and cheeriness of early WCW themes, replaced by kick-ass, take-no-BS heavy metal and hip hop.







    WCW Mayhem - Track-by-Track Review

    Yes, if WCW Mayhem - The Music stands as evidence of anything (besides WCW milking every good idea dry), it's their last-ditch attempt to appeal to a mainstream audience by updating their presentation with a thoroughly modern soundtrack and bringing in major recording artists like Master P, Megadeth and others.

    But don't just take my word for it.

    Without further ado, here's your track-by-track review of WCW Mayhem - The Music.

    1. DJ Ran - Make Some Noise (Mayhem Mega Mix)

    "Ladies and gentleman this is David Penzer, get ready for the Mayhem of World Championship Wrestling!"



    You remember DJ Ran, right?

    He used to get all up in your area every Monday night on TNT. Here, he kicks off the album with a special Mayhem Mega Mix which is supposed to replicate the way Ran would get the live crowd pumped up at the beginning of Nitro.

    In that sense, this works. 

    Ran yelling at us to MAKE SOME NOISE, coupled with a greeting from WCW announcer David Penzer really does serve as a great start to the album. Honestly, it's about as close as you're going to get to capturing the atmosphere of a big-time late-90s pro wrestling show on a music CD.

    While Ran spins his tunes, WCW's biggest stars are given an opportunity to speak.

    Most of them take that opportunity to put themselves over.

    Big Sexy tells us he's in the house. Big Poppa Pump tells us he's our hook up. Buff tells us he's the stuff.

    But Macho Man Randy Savage

    He decides not to put himself over, instead taking his one spot on the opening track to instead put Hulk Hogan over.

    "You know something brother?" he asks. "Hogan is the man."

    This probably wouldn't be so bad if the two were still nWo team mates, or even still portrayed as friends on screen, but by 1999 the two had almost nothing to do with each other in the storylines which just makes Savage's line a little odd.

    Funny, definitely, but odd.

    2. Purity - Adrenaline V.1 

    "Adrenaline.."



    If neither the artist nor title of this track are familiar to you, don't worry; you'll instantly recognise it the moment you press play.

    Yes, ladies and gentlemen, twenty years after the fact, your writer has only just discovered that the theme tune for WCW Nitro was actually a song called Adrenaline V.1 by a London-based, all-female electronica outfit called Purity.

    Want to hear the full version of the track?

    Here you go.



    Rather than just give us that straight-up banger for three-minutes, WCW Mayhem simply gives us the standard thirty-second WCW Nitro intro with Tony Schiavone welcoming us to 'the one and only Monday Nitro.'

    Schiavone is his usual hyperbolic self here, bigging up the show -or in this case, the album- as some huge spectacular. 

    Sadly, he stops short of calling Mayhem 'the greatest album in the history of our sport,' or anything like that.

    Oh, and in case you were wondering, Purity are still very much doing their thing, with main songwriter Jill Stark composing a lot of stuff for films and games. 

    3. Insane Clown Posse - Take It 

    "Everything is up to him // It's all out, you have to take it"


    I could be wrong on this (please correct me if I am), but I'm pretty sure Insane Clown Posse have the unique distinction of being the only musical performers not named Jimmy Hart to appear on both WCW and WWF music albums.

    Their time with The Oddities in the World Wrestling Federation led to their theme 'Oddities' appearing on WWF The Music Vol. 3. Now, they were here on WCW's album with their kick-you-in the-nuts, nu-metal-style monster, Take It, a track that served as Vampiro's theme during his time with The Dead Pool

    I've never been the biggest ICP fan ever, but even I have to admit that this angry noisefest is a pretty decent track, albeit one that is definitely of its time.

    This very much sounds like the kind of stuff you'd hear if you hung out in the metal/alt crowds back at the turn of the Millenium, and is absolutely befitting the chaotic, violent world of professional wrestling. 

    4. Slayer - Here Comes The Pain 

    "I am the new hell on earth // The lord of agony divine // Domination, intimidation // Lives within these eyes"


    Oh yeah, now we're talking.

    To be honest, I've no idea how Slayer ended up on a professional wrestling album. As far as I know, neither they, nor this absolute bruiser of a track, ever ended up on WCW programming, but hey, it's f'n Slayer, so it's always going to be good stuff.

    OK, so Here Comes the Pain isn't the best Slayer song in the world (that's South of Heaven, obviously), but it's still a solid, battering metal track full of snarling aggression and brutality.

    Though it may seem out of place at first, this track does perfectly encapsulate the driving energy that WCW Mayhem was supposed to be all about. In that sense, it is actually a pretty perfect fit, even if it might have been even more perfect as the soundtrack to the WWF game Smackdown: Here Comes The Pain.


    5. Invasion (Goldberg Theme)

    "How about that ladies and gentlemen? GOLDBERG - and this crowd is on their feet!"


    And so we reach the first truly recognisable song on the album.

    Even if you'd never heard of Slayer, ICP, or DJ Ran, there's no wrestling fan on Earth who hasn't heard of Goldberg and wouldn't be familiar with this iconic theme music.

    Sounding like the kind of dramatic fanfare that would play as  Roman gladiator made his way into battle, this short-but-memorable theme was a big part in creating the main event aura around Bill Goldberg and, dare I say it, had a big part in his success.

    After all, nobody would argue that Big Bill's legendary status had much -if anything- to do with his in-ring prowess. It was all about the presentation, and this bold, powerful theme was a big part of that.

    Fun fact, before Invasion became synonymous with Goldberg, it was used for a spell in the mid 90s by Pat Tanaka.


    See?

    6. Megadeth - Crush 'Em 

    "Now we've found you (crush), we're gonna pound you / We're gonna beat you (crush), gonna defeat you / We're gonna bust you (crush), we're gonna crush you / We're gonna (crush 'em) crush 'em"


    While we all remember Invasion as the classic Bill Goldberg theme, there was a time in the summer of 1999 when he used Megadeth's sporting anthem Crush 'Em to accompany him to the ring.

    OK, so the song is almost universally derided by die-hard Megadeth fans, but there's no denying that this is a great track to get the blood pumping.

    Yes, the lyrics are cheesy and yes, it lacks the scathing guitars of Peace Sells... or the snarl of Sweating Bullets, but we're not  here to dissect heavy metal, we're here to talk about wrestling music and as such things go, Crush 'Em is a solid effort.

    It's just a shame they gave it to Goldberg.

    Had they kept this as the soundtrack to video montages or even for a PPV opener, it could have worked well. As it was, they tried to fix something that wasn't broken by having Goldberg walk out to this and it just didn't work.

    No wonder very few people have fond memories of this song.

    7. What Up Mach (Macho Man Randy Savage Theme)

    "What up Mach? OOOOHHHH YEAH!"


    Speaking of wrestlers with iconic themes, Macho Man Randy Savage is so synonymous with Sir Edward Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance March No.1 that even when people hear that piece in a non-wrestling context they can't help but yell out OHHHH YEAH!

    When Savage returned for a brief and largely terrible run in 1999, however, World Championship Wrestling decided to give him a thoroughly modern makeover and have him come out to a gutsy heavy metal riff which sounds a bit like a thrash metal band upping the tempo on a cover of  Metallica's Bad Seed.

    We'll have more from Metallica later on, but for now I'll just say that although few will ever equate Macho Madness with this track (which features his valet, Gorgeous George asking What up, Mach?), it's still an enjoyable piece of metal riffery perfectly in keeping with the edgy, aggressive attitude WCW were going for at the time.

    8. Kid Rock - Blast 

    "Kid Rock back in this *** house // Feel the effects of my shotgun blast // Mothers crying from theses shotgun blast // Feel the effects of my shotgun blast // People dying from theses shotgun blasts"


    Kid Rock fans might know this song better by its full title, Shotgun Blast, the 13th track from his 1996 album, Early Morning Stoned Pimp.

    Apparently, as edgy as WCW were trying to get in 1999, they still couldn't include the word shotgun, nor could they include the multiple instances of the F-Word which feature in Kid Rock's original track. 

    That aside this is one of those tracks which, like the earlier Slayer anthem, doesn't seem to have any direct link to the world of pro wrestling. 

    If you're already a Kid Rock fan, then there's no doubt you'll enjoy this one, but honestly, it's probably the weakest track on the album so far. 

    Not bad, but a little meh.

    9. Self High-Five (Diamond Dallas Page Theme)

    "Ya love me, ya hate me, you'll never forget me. Get ready to feel the BANG"


    So far, this is the second album to feature obvious Smells Like Teen Spirit knock-off, Self High-Five.

    The track originally appeared three years earlier on the Christmas Brawl album, where I referred to it as "hard, edgy, and full of energy."

    I stand by that statement today, partly because it's true, but mostly because I can't think of anything to say about DDP's theme that hasn't already been said before.

    Indeed, it's one of the most iconic WCW themes and is still fun to listen to, especially at a time when WWE Network have dubbed over it with their own, less thrilling version.

    10. Primer 55 - Loose

    "Here I come with the new style kicking // Just can't help it 'cause it's so damn wicked // Insane in the brain with a mind like Cujo // Ya better run 'cause I'm about to get loco // Feelin' this way is an everyday thing // See ya talkin' shit, but you don't know me"


    Nu-metal really hasn't aged all that well, has it?

    Sure, some bands from that period in musical history have evolved and gone on to do good things but this, this is very much a product of its time.

    Whether that's a good thing or not is really up to you.

    If you're all about baggy jeans, down-tuned guitars and mixing basic rapping with angry screaming, this is the jam for you.

    Interestingly enough, Loose was the WCW theme song of a tag team called Air Raid who competed in the cruiserweight division during the dying days of the company's existence and who featured a young man known as Air Styles, better known to you and me as former WWE Champion, The Phenomenal AJ Styles.

    11. 'Sting Theme' 

    "Riddle me this, riddle me that, who's afraid of the big, black bat?"




    Was there any cooler character in the Monday Night Wars than the re-invented Steve Borden? Ditching the colorful face paints in favor of a look directly inspired by The Crow, the WCW icon was genuinely one of the most intriguing, compelling stars at the time, at least until the debacle that was Starrcade 1997 ruined most of his mystique. 

    Sting's Crow Theme was perfectly suited to his character during this time period, and remains one of your writer's all-time favourite WCW themes. 

    Stil, by the time 1999 came around, the Sting character had gone through enough of a transformation that this gem of a track was no longer really suited to him.

    So it's probably just as well that they swapped it for our next track.

    12. Metallica - Seek & Destroy (Live at Woodstock '99)

    "Scanning the scene in the city tonight // Looking for you to start up a fight // There's an evil feeling in our brains // but it's nothing new, you know it drives us insane."


    As the biggest Metallica fan in the world, I loved seeing Sting coming to the ring to the sound of this scathing thrash metal anthem from the band's 1983 debut, Kill 'Em All, even if I was never entirely convinced that it suited him.

    The longest track on the album by a good few minutes, this comes directly from the band's appearance at the infamous Woodstock 1999 festival

    Though it might not be the greatest rendition of this classic track, it's still Metallica tearing up like only they can in a track that is undoubtedly a highlight of the album.

    13. Buff Daddy (Buff Bagwell) 

    "Buff....Dadd-Ay!"



    We've had the ferocious riffs of old-school metal, we've had the swagger and hostility of hip-hop and we've had the aggression of late-90s nu-metal.

    What better way to follow all of that than with, erm, Buff Bagwell gleefully shouting about how sexy he is as a chorus of back-up singers croon "Buff, he's the stuff."

    To be honest, I always found Bagwell's post-nWo theme to be pretty hilarious, but it seems a little out of place coming between Metallica and Limp Bizkit.

    Still, if you can ignore that, Buff Daddy is plenty of fun in a cheesy, over-the-top kind of way.

    14. Limp Bizkit (Ft. Everlast) - Faith (Remix)

    "Baby, I know you're askin' me to stay // Say please, please, please don't go away // 'Cause you're givin' me the blues"



    Remember when Limp Bizkit were one of the hottest bands in the world?

    Every angry teenager you met walked around sporting a backward red baseball cap and baggy jeans while telling you that they wanted to break stuff.

    It was a weird time, but it does explain why Fred Durst et al ended up on this WCW music album with what is a pretty lackluster version of their famous George Michael cover.

    Gone is the outright brutal chaos of the original track from their abrasive 1997 debut, Three Dollar Bill Y'All.

    In its place is a chilled out hip-hop track which, though it may have its fans, does nothing for this writer.

    Still Limp Bizkit were still one of the most popular bands around at the time, so it makes sense to include them in here as an incentive for non-WCW fans to buy the album.

    15. American Made (Hulk Hogan's Theme)

    "He's got the red, white, and blue running through his veins // He was born and raised in the U.S. of A // He's government inspected, he's U.S. grade // If you mess with the flag it's like a slap in his face."



    This is the second time this year that I've reviewed this track. If you recall, it features as one of the stand-out songs on Hulk Rules, a 1995 album by Hulk Hogan and The Wrestling Boot Bandthat somehow manages to be awesome, awful, weird, and hillarious all at the same time.

    In that review, I wrote:

    The song was clearly meant to be an updated take on his famous WWF theme, Real American. Though it's nowhere near as iconic as that Rick Derringer-penned track, I'd argue that it's the better of the two in terms of pure rock-out fun.

    I stand by that today, partly because it's still very much true, but mostly becuase I feel like this album has been playing for the last thousand years.

    16. Lyrical Giants - Bone Crusher 

    I honestly can't make out a single lyric in this track...I'm sorry.



    As you've probably figured out by now, this WCW Mayhem - The Music review is written by someone who listens to way more rock music than rap.

    In fact, I'll go so far as to confessing that I'm woefully ignorant about hip-hop to such an extreme that all I can think of when I hear this is "Hey, it sounds like that DMX track that was big around the turn of the Millenium."

    That's not a criticism by the way. 

    As hip-hop tracks go, this is a pretty good one, with an upbeat vibe to it that I imagine makes it great for clubs and parties and the like.

    Who knows, maybe they played this jam at those Nitro Parties they had?

    17. Got Him in the Corner 

    "He's got him in the corner and here we go...Oooh! That's gotta hurt!" 

    I won't put a video here, this is basically a clip of Tony Schiavone calling a 'ten punches in the corner spot.'

    It's not really anything, but I promised you a track-by-track review, so dagnammit, we'll include one here.

    18. Ruff Ryders featuring Drag-On, Jadakiss, Eve, Styles - Pay Per View 

    "I'm a total savage // Like Lex Luger, you'll get the total package // Straight power bomb like Kevin Nash and Sid Vicious // Small like Rey Misterio put y'all in big ditches"


    In case you hadn't figured it out, we're well into the hip-hop section of the album now, with rappers Drag-On, Jadakiss, Eve, and Styles tell us how bad ass they are by liking themselves to various WCW stars.

    Jadakiss, for example, boasts about how he's like Sting, you know, all black with a bat, before Eve strangely boasts that "I'm feared like Miss Elizabeth."

    Now, God Bless Miss Elizabeth and, apart from in our review of her botched performance at the WCW Mayhem 1999 PPV, you'll find nary a bad word said against her at Retro Pro Wrestling, but I'm not sure too many people actually feared her.

    Still, this is a pretty fun, catchy tune, even if it's one I doubt many people are even aware of.

    19. Big Pun & Fat Joe - Make the Crowd Roar 

    "I'm like Hollywood without the Hogan // I'm like Konnan without the slogan"



    If you haven't yet had enough of rappers likening themselves to pro wrestlers, Fat Joe and the late Big Pun have got some more for you here, with Mr. Pun himself telling us that he's going to "make shit messy like Kevin Nash."

    Because if there was one thing Big Sexy was known for, it was being untidy. 

    I joke, but there's seriously a part of this song that rubs me the wrong way. 

    At one point in the original, uncensored version of this song, Big Pun raps:

    "Just remember to roll with God
    And try not to kill yourself, like Owen Hart.
    No disrespect, I know you miss him, Bret." 

    I mean seriously. 

    OK, I'm probably being a little too sensitive, especially since somebody was clearly smart enough to censor Owen's name out of this version of the song, but still. This album was released about six months after Hart passed away, and yet here we are.

    Is it just me or is that pretty bad? Especially given that Hart didn't actually kill himself.

    Rant over, let's move on.

    20. Kevin Nash - Wolfpac Theme 

    "Wolfpac is back, causin mass destruction, guess who's here, the bad boys of wrestling." 


    Another one of the more memorable WCW themes, here we have the track that was used for the nWo Wolfpac and for Kevin Nash as a singles wrestler.

    Back then, I always thought this was one of the cooler tracks WCW had at the time. It's got a certain swagger and yet is also pretty dark, making it a perfect fit for a guy who was cool, cocky and yet could straight up kick your ass.

    21. Cypress Hill - Fist Full 

    "Put you to the ground, chokeslam on your back while I'm chillin' with Nash and the honeys, Wolfpac style." 


    These rappers sure did love them some Big Sexy, even if the dude was a bit messy.

    To be fair, this is a pretty bad ass track. It's exactly the sort of thing you can imagine WCW using as the soundtrack to a highlights package, or as background music for the WCW Mayhem video game. 

    Like others before them, the Cypress Hill boys basically brag about how they're going to kick your ass like professional wrestlers, but they do it with an energy and aggression that the likes of Big Fun and Jadakiss lacked.

    All in all, this is one of the better songs on the album.

    22. Count That Man Out 

    "One, two, three...Count that man out!"

    No video here, this is just another Tony Schiavone soundbite. This time, the current AEW commentator calls the action as somebody gets pinned.

    23. Screwball - Give it Up 

    "War you want, war you get." 



    I can't seem to find much information about this track, but if you enjoy listening to rappers bragging about how bad ass they are, then you're in luck here.

    Honestly, I feel like I've been writing this review forever, I'm getting tired, and as much as some people might like this song, it does very little to change my energy.

    Decent, but entirely forgettable. 

    24. Konnan featuring Madd One - Bow Wow Wow 

    "Bow-wow-wow, yippie-yo, yippie-yay // Arriba la raza, all day, every day"


    Of course, you can't have a hip hop section of a WCW album without an appearance by K-Dogg himself. If you were watching at the time, you probably remember this one.

    Konnan had debuted in WCW wearing a mask as the 'Mexican Champion,' turned heel to join the Dungeon of Doom and then randomly morphed into a gangsta during his time with the nWo, then released this music video for his team with former opponent, Rey Mysterio Jr. 

    Konnan was incredibly popular around this time, so obviously WCW decided that the best thing to do with his video was to use it as the basis for a feud with Disco Inferno.

    That aside, this is actually a really good track, not quite as good as the other one he did for The Filthy Animals, but still damn enjoyable all the same.

    That's despite the fact that it starts with a soundbite of K-Dog inviting the listener to toss his salad. I mean seriously, Konnan did a bit on the mic before every match, he said all kinds of things over the years, yet out of all the clips they could have picked, the producers of this album went with him talking about someone sticking their tongue up his bum. 

    25. West Texas Rednecks - I Hate Rap 

    "There's only one thing that I hate, cos it's a bunch of crap, I hate rap!"


    If you didn't remember K-Dog's theme, you'll certainly remember this one.

    WCW positioned Curt Hennig and his chums as the heels, but the crowd decided that they loved the West Texas Rednecks more than they the gang's rivals, Master P. and the No Limit Soldiers.

    Of course, it didn't help that they also gave the Rednecks one of the most entertaining songs to ever come from a pro wrestling country.

    Naturally, you have to overlook the fact that  Hennig, Bobby Duncam Jr. and the Windham brothers were now suddenly talented musicians capable of writing and performing a hit country song, but that aside, the whole Rap is Crap thing was a fun time in WCW and was a rare highlight of their programming at a time when so much of the company's output sucked a large one.

    26. Loona - Bailando

    "Bailando, Bailando, my friends, let's go!"



    If the CD had ended with Rap is Crap it would have been perfect. Instead, we got this latin-infused dance number that was apparently used for some of the Nitro Girls dance routines. 

    Bailando was a hit for Paradiso in Europe, who reached number one on the charts in Denmark and broke the top ten in a few other countires. A few years later, Dutch artist Loona took her cover of the track to the top of the German charts.

    This version closely resembles Loona's version, albeit with English lyrics sung by Stephanie Marano and some dude randomly shouting out NITRO GIRLS! BODY SLAM!

    It's a decent song, but it feels kind of tacked on and out of place here.

    Not that I'm complaining, at this point, I'm just glad it's over.







    If you're wondering how exactly WCW Mayhem - The Music managed to cram a whole 26 songs into one album, it's because a large number of  those songs last barely a minute. While tracks by actual artists are featured in full, the wrestling themes are cut as short as possible.

    Despite this, WCW Mayhem still feels like it takes an eternity to listen to and would have been just as good with half of the tracks missing.

    Still, as a big rock and metal fan, I won't deny that it's great to find an album which combines my love of pro wrestling with some kick ass tunes by Metallica, Slayer and Megadeth. 

    If you want to get a copy of this album for yourself and support this blog at the same time, you can buy WCW Mayhem from Amazon.com and we get a tiny percentage of the profits as a referral fee.

    Otherwise, thanks for sticking with this review all the way to the end. If you're looking for more pro wrestling album reviews, here's a few more for you:

    Don't miss our other Retro Pro Wrestling reviews by following @Retropwrestling on Twitter or liking the Facebook page

    Thursday, 26 September 2019

    GAME REVIEW: WCW Mayhem - PlayStation (1999)

    WCW Mayhem - PlayStation1 Review - Game Cover
    Released: August 1999

    Maybe you needed to be there. Maybe there's no other way to realy appreciate what a big deal the WCW Mayhem game was back in 1999 than to have lived through it.

    For while the first World Championship Wrestling game to be developed by Electronic Arts may not seem like anything special, back then it was the biggest thing to hit the niche market of pro wrestling video games since...well...forever.

    At least, it was if you believed WCW.

    For months, the company invested all their stock in promoting the hell out of this game.

    Week in, week out, Mayhem advertising featured prominently on both Nitro and Thunder.

    As if that wasn't enough, the company even got rid of their annual World War III PPV in October and replaced it with a new event called -you guessed it- WCW Mayhem.

    Meanwhile, gaming critics heralded this as a game of firsts.

    It was the first WCW game to feature all twelve PPV settings as well as Nitro, Thunder, and Saturday Night. It was also the first US-based wrestling game in which the characters could fight backstage.

    Further praise came for the commentary (more of which later) and the excellent job done in motion capturing hundreds of different pro-wrestling moves.






    So yes, back in 1999, WCW Mayhem for the PlayStation was a pretty big deal.

    But how does it stand up twenty years later?

    Let's turn on the PS and find out.

    First Impressions 

    There's a lot to like about this game right from the start. 

    The introduction puts us in a WCW Control Room type environment were serious-looking dudes in identical uniforms and matching hats set about loading up everything you'd need for the perfect wrestling event.


    They load the arena, fill it with a crowd, and even fire our announce team, Tony Schiavone and Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan, for a night of WCW action.

    Not content to leave it there, our guys even create their own prototype pro wrestler in their laboratory, but when they crank his aggression levels up to 95%, the perfect prototype transforms into an angry Goldberg, who smashes his way out of the lab and into Slamboree 1999.

    Honestly, as intros to pro wrestling video games go, this is probably one of the coolest ever made, at least for the time period.

    Combined with an aggressive heavy metal riff, it gets you pumped up and ready to smash some heads in.

    So far, a 10/10 score for WCW Mayhem, and we haven't even selected our characters yet.

    Roster 

    WCW Mayhem - PlayStation 1 Review - Roster selection Sting
    The game boasts that it features no less than 50 World Championship Wrestling athletes, though not all of them are available when you first play the game.

    While there is a good selection, if you want to unlock all fifty characters then you'll need to go through the Beat the Quest mode multiple times and unlock them all.

    In terms of the starting characters, the roster is split up until multiple factions. 

    You have your main WCW stars, the nWo Wolfpac and Black and White job squad, and the Four Horsemen, as well as cruiserweight and hardcore division

    WCW Roster

    For WCW, cover star Goldberg, as well as Sting, Diamond Dallas Page, Randy Savage, and Bret 'The Hitman' Hart are all accounted for, as are Booker T, Buff Bagwell, Konnan, Curt Hennig and an assorted cast of undercard characters like Kenny Kaos and Bobby Duncam Jr. 

    Weirdly, Kaos is a starting character but his High Voltage tag team partner Robbie Rage doesn't even feature in the game

    nWo Roster

    WCW Mayhem - PlayStation1 Review - Eddie vs. Juvi vs. Psycosis
    If you want your main eventers, Hulk Hogan, Scott Steiner, Kevin Nash and Lex Luger are all Wolfpac 4 life here, while Horace, Scott Norton and Stevie Ray are on job squad duty.

    Four Horsemen

    The game starts with the last itineration of the Four Horsemen, with Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, and Steve McMichael all appearing as starting characters despite Mongo leaving the company in February of that year.

    No guesses as to who the unlockable characters are in this group. 

    Cruiserweights

    There's a fun selection of cruiserweights here, with staples like Rey Mysterio Jr., Kidman, Eddie Guerrero, Juventud Guerrera and Psycosis all appearing alongside interesting choices such as Lizmark Jr. 

    Hardcore 

    Raven, Saturn, and Kanyon all represent the hardcore division, with a whole bunch of characters to be unlocked. 

    Everyone else, from major stars like Ric Flair to curious additions like former Smoky Mountain Wrestling star Bobby Blaze and Sgt. Buddy Lee Parker all appear as unlockable characters.

    WCW Mayhem Create-a-Wrestler Mode 

    If you don't like any of the roster choices the game gives you, you can always create your own wrestler.

    This is a pretty standard feature in wrestling games today, but the concept was very much in its infancy back in the 1990s and it certainly shows here. 

    Maybe I've been spoiled by playing games like Smackdown: Here Comes the Pain as of late, but Mayhem's Create-a-Wrestler mode is as frustrating as it is disappointing.

    Naming your character 

    WCW Mayhem - PlayStation1 Review - El GiganteFirst things first you have to give your wrestler a name. This is fine, except for the life of me I couldn't figure out how to put a space between words. I spent far too long on this before eventually giving up, convinced that if you wanted to name your character Cactus Jack for example, you'd have to settle for calling him just 'Cactus' or 'Jack' instead.

    To be fair, you can add to your character by giving a pre-set nickname. 

    Some of these are interesting to say the least.

    Of all the genuine WCW names to include, El Gigante is an option, and if you want to go extreme, you can always go by the name War Machine. 

    You could also choose to be Kid Lightning, though apparently not Lightning Kid since Sean Waltman had been back in the WWF for a year by the stage.

    Appearance

    WCW Mayhem - PlayStation1 Review - Create-a-Wrestler
    Things get even more interesting and frustrating when it comes to choosing how your wrestler looks.

    There are only three body types to choose from:
    • Small
    • Large
    • Powerful
    Powerful is exactly the same as large, albeit with a more defined physique. 

    From there, you can select from a bunch of pre-defined character templates which are great if you want your wrestler to look like a Human Wasp Man or a zombie, but not so much otherwise.

    On the plus side, one of the templates is hilariously called 'Invisible' and, as you might suspect, it makes your character completely invisible.

    That's pretty funny.

    What's even funnier is that you can choose to apply the 'Invisible' template to only select parts of your wrestler. So, for example, you could make your head invisible and create The Headless Horseman (to replace Mongo, probably). or you could decide to have a character with no body if that's the kind of thing that gets you giggling.

    WCW Mayhem - PlayStation1 Review - Kane outfit
    When it comes to dressing your wrestler ready for action, the choices are pretty limited.

    If you're used to having an almost infinite number of tights, shorts, and other assorted garments as you do in other games, you'll be disappointed.

    You'll also be pretty bummed if you're familiar with WWF/WWE games which have a habit of sneaking in attire you recognize as belonging to wrestlers not included in the game.

    Whereas it's usually been possible to put together a pretty decent looking Jushin Liger and other characters in the WWF games, that's not really a thing in this game.

    There is, of course, one exception.

    For some reason, the game includes what is pretty obviously Kane's ring gear from that time period. Though I couldn't find his actual mask, if you ever wanted to see The Big Red Machine waging war on WCW Saturday Night, this game is as close as you're ever going to get to making that happen.

    Otherwise, this whole part of the game is pretty lackluster.

    Match Types 



    Selecting the 'Main Event' option from the main menu allows you to wrestle a variety of matches at any WCW event.

    Along with the standard singles and tag options, you can also have a triangle or four-way match.

    Alternatively, you could opt for either Raven's Rules, No Disqualification, both of which are pretty much the same thing, or a Weapon's Match, which is the same thing again albeit with weapons already in the ring.

    Honestly, I wouldn't get too excited about these. Even in the standard matches, you can brawl outside of the ring, head backstage and blast each other with weapons and not get disqualified or counted out, so I'm not sure what difference -if any- it makes if you choose No DQ.

    I would have liked to have seen War Games, or even just a ladder or a cage match, but honestly, it's not a big deal. 

    As we'll get to in a moment, you can have enough fun just playing the actual game that you don't really need fancy gimmick matches to enjoy WCW Mayhem.

    Game Play 


    For the most part, actually playing WCW Mayhem is a lot of fun.

    Unlike some games which seem to take a bit of getting used, you can get the hang of things and start winning matches pretty quickly here.

    At first, the controls felt a bit counter-intuitive for me, especially for some characters. With Bret Hart, for example, hitting down and triangle lifts your opponent up for a suplex, but hitting up and triangle drives your opponent down for a piledriver.

    It's a bit off-putting at first, but you soon get used to it.

    For the most part, the moves look crisp, sharp, and well-executed. 

    All that praise for the game's motion capturing is certain well-warranted. Suplexes are smooth, powerbombs look devastating, and most submission moves are very well done.

    Shortly before I played this game, I also played WWF War Zone which was released the year before Mayhem and wasn't nearly as smooth or engaging in terms of actual gameplay. 

    However, as with most things in life, playing WCW Mayhem isn't exactly perfect. 

    Some moves just don't seem as if they've been mapped out very well.

    For example, if you go to the top rope for an ariel move, the game pays no attention to where your opponent is and just has you diving recklessly in the middle of the ring.

    WCW Mayhem - PlayStation1 Review - Cruiserweight action
    On many occasions, I had my rival knocked out on the mat and climbed to the top, ready to crush him with a sweet splash. Yet because he was too close to the corner or not properly positioned, I just ended up flying over him and hitting the canvas.

    It's at this point that Tony Schiavone would make fun of me, claiming that if I spent a little less time showboating, I would have hit that move.

    No, Tony, if the game developers had thought things through a little better, I would have hit that move. 

    There were other times too when I'd have my opponent in perfect position and yet a move would just completely miss for no reason. 

    Still, as much as I gripe about this, it wasn't enough to put me off playing. On the whole I enjoyed the experience of playing WCW Mayhem, even if it was completely unrealistic. 

    See Hulk Hogan's Fabulous Flying Dropkick 

    When reading up about this game, I saw people who are more into gaming than wrestling talk about how each wrestler has his own unique move set, signature taunts and entrance.

    This isn't entirely accurate. 

    It looks as though Electronic Arts devised about five or six different entrances and five or six different taunts and then just divvied them up at random, almost as if they drew them out of a hat.

    Ok and the next wrestler is...Rey Mysterio Jr. and his signature taunt is...

    *picks out of a hat*

    Hulk Hogan's hand-to-the-ear thing. 

    Then you have Bret Hart hulking up and flashing his muscles, and Wrath doing bodybuilding poses that I don't think I ever saw him do once his entire career.

    Sure, some guys have their trademark mannerisms.

    In making their entrance, Rick Steiner gets on all fours and barks like a dog (naturally), and Scott Hall has his famous strut, but some make no sense at all.

    Juvi, Perry Saturn and a bunch of others all come out and adjust their tights in the exact same way, while just about everbody else does some weird Lex Luger flexing before marching to the ring.

    Then there's the moves.

    If you were expecting an experience that closely replicates what you'd see on TV, you might be disappointed. 

    Again, most trademark moves are present and correct. 

    Goldberg will drop you with a gorilla press slam, most of the cruiserweights will flip, flop and fly, and Bret Hart does his signature side russian leg sweep, but then when you go to follow it up -as Bret often did- with a driving forearm from the corner, The Hitman instead decides that he's going to leap off with a flying splash.

    Not surprisingly, he misses 90% of the time and lands in the ring to be chastised by Tony Schiavone.

    Then there's Hulk Hogan, who will think nothing of hitting you with a standing dropkick or taking you to the top rope for a superplex, you know, just like he did all the time in real life?

    Again, it's like the developers got a bunch of moves in one hat, a bunch of wrestlers in another, and paired them all up at random.

    Story Mode: Quest for the Best 



    On your first play-through, there appears to be a lot to like about Quest for the Best, which is WCW Mayhem's answer to the typical Career Mode.

    Starting at the bottom, you start by defeating the top five contenders to the TV title before winning that belt and then defending it against five contenders.

    You then repeat the same process for the United States Championship, and then again for the world title.

    WCW Mayhem - PlayStation1 Review - US title winner
    At first, this is a lot of fun, and throws up random quirks like Bobby Duncam Jr. being the number one contender to Goldberg's world title while Hollywood Hogan is only the fifth-ranked contender.

    As you work your way up to the TV title, you even unlock a few bonus characters.

    I beat Sgt. Buddy Lee Parker and Bobby Blaze and unlocked both of those, then beat Ernest Miller to unlock his manager, Sonny Onoo.

    So far, so good, but after a while it gets a little repetitive.

    There are no cut-scenes, no 'tween-match drama or random side quests, just keep beating dudes one after another. 

    It actually gets worse once you win the world title. 

    WCW Mayhem - PlayStation1 Review - World title winnerInstead of just having five challengers, the list of dudes coming after your gold never seems to end, so you simply find yourself squashing one after the other with no real finish line in sight.

    While the gameplay is pretty fun, it's simply not enough to keep you invested in the game for any real length of time when all you're doing is winning one match after the next after the next.

    Still, if you've got the patience for it (which I really haven't), then it's worth going through this process just to unlock all the extra characters.

    Graphics and Appearance 

    As I've said before, I approach these game reviews from the perspective of a wrestling fan, so I'm perhaps not as qualified to comment technical details as much as a serious gamer might be. 
    WCW Mayhem - PlayStation1 Review - Halloween Havoc set

    That being said, WCW Mayhem really is a great looking game, at least for a PS 1 release. 

    The menu and loading screens are bright, vibrant and attractive and the characters themselves are very well done for the time.

    As for the arenas, while the TV set-ups are nothing spectacular, some of the PPV shows look amazing in a way that my crappy screenshots simply don't do justice.

    Sure, WCW Mayhem may not be perfect, but it sure does look the part.

    Sound and Commentary 

    Again, I read somewhere that all of the wrestlers in this game have their own entrance themes. This isn't true. 

    Most of the major stars do, while those belonging to either the Wolfpac or nWo Black & White have their stable's theme. Yet many wrestlers are assigned a theme that doesn't actually belong to them.

    The majority of the cruiserweights, for example, come out to Eddie Guerrero's awesome Latino World Order theme, while anyone from WCW that isn't a main eventer gets the generic Nitro music. 

    That's not a big deal though, as most of the themes that you'd actually want to here are all present and correct.

    Where this game really shines, however, is on the commentary.

    Remember how dreadful it was to have Michael Cole and Taz doing the worst commentary in history on WWF Smackdown - Just Bring It?

    There's none of that here. 

    Schiavone and Heenan provide some of the most realistic commentary you'd ever heard on a video game up to this point. In fact, I'd say it's even better than on some of the games that came long after Mayhem was released.

    Sure, the longer you play, the more likely you are to hear repeated phrases, but for the most part, the commentary is very refreshing.

    At one point, I was brawling backstage and the duo began bickering for a good couple of minutes, much like they'd do on Nitro.

    It's a nice touch, and certainly one of the best things in the game.

    Final Impressions 

    So, is WCW Mayhem for the PlayStation 1 really as good as it was made out to be back in 1999?

    Not exactly.

    Yes, for the most part, it's a great game. It looks great, it sounds great, and if you can get over your character diving into the middle of the ring like an idiot, it plays great too.

    But there's not much too it and I don't think you get the same kind of longevity out of Mayhem that you do with other games.







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