Thursday, 11 April 2019

PPV REVIEW: WCW Spring Stampede 1999

WCW Spring Stampede 1999 - Event poster
April 11, 1999
Tacoma Dome, Tacoma, Washington

Growing up in England in the 1990s meant that if you wanted to watch World Championship Wrestling, you were pretty much limited to a few hours of Nitro which came on after Cartoon Network finished airing every Friday night.

Though one of the company's B-shows would eventually get some TV time, Nitro was pretty much it for us. There was never any opportunity to watch Thunder, and certainly never any opportunity to watch the company's monthly Pay Per Views.

So for the most part, every WCW PPV that has been reviewed here on Retro Pro Wrestling has been reviewed from the viewpoint of someone who is seeing it for the very first time.

Tonight, however, is a little different.

At some point in the early 2000s, after WCW was already dead and TNA was just becoming a thing, your writer managed to get their hands on this show. As the only WCW event I had access to, I watched it quite a few times, meaning much of what we're about to experience together is likely going to be very familiar to me.

Still, by all accounts, I remember this being a really good show that kept me entertained for hours.






Will it still be just as fun to watch a few decades later?

Let's head to Tacoma, Washington, to find out.

Welcome to Spring Stampede

WCW Spring Stampede 1999 - Mike Tenay, Tony Schiavone, Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan
After a generic video package highlighting some of the competitors on tonight's card, we panned the crowd and went straight to Tony Schiavone, Iron Mike Tenay and Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan.

The trio put over tonight's main event, a four-corners match for the world title between reigning champion Ric Flair, Diamond Dallas Page, Sting and Hulk Hogan, with a returning Macho Man Randy Savage as the special guest referee.

Then, for what was probably the first time in the company's history, we went straight to the ring for our first match less than three minutes into the show. Most WCW PPVs had at least five minutes of talking before we got to the ring, so this was a nice change.

Blitzkrieg vs. Juventud Guerrera

Winner earns a cruiserweight title shot on Nitro

WCW Spring Stampede 1999 - Blitzkrieg vs. Juventud Guerrera
Here's one of the first things I remember from all those Spring Stampede 1999 viewings years ago:

A tremendous cruiserweight match between Juventud Guerrera and newcomer, Blitzkrieg.

Leaving nothing behind, both men went all out to deliver a fast-paced, high-flying match with several jaw-dropping spots expertly linked together by some fantastic action.

After a great back-and-forth battle, Guerrera landed a Juvi Driver from off the middle rope to bring this wonderful opening match to a close.
Your Winner: Juventud Guerrera

At last month's WCW Uncensored 1999, Chastity had turned her back on her brother, Raven, and aligned herself with Hak at the end of a three-way match which had also included Bam Bam Bigelow.


Tonight, she would lead Hak into battle with Bigelow once again, but first, we got a quick look back at the rivalry between these two former ECW stars.

Hardcore match
Hak (w/ Chastity) vs. Bam Bam Bigelow

WCW Spring Stampede 1999 - Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Hak
So far, Spring Stampede was two for two in the great match stakes.

OK, so this weapon-fuelled brawl had a completely different vibe to it than the earlier cruiserweight match, but it was still nonetheless a very fun outing between Bam Bam and Hak.

The two pummelled each other with crutches, with trash cans and broomsticks. They sent each other crashing through tables and they generally destroyed one another. Sandman even threw himself off the top of the stagecoach that was part of the Spring Stampede set dressing and sent both himself and his opponent crashing through a table.

Later, Bam Bam got his own back by hitting the former Sandman with a Greetings From Asbury Park off the top rope through another table. That was enough to bring this really enjoyable match to its conclusion.
Your Winner: Bam Bam Bigelow

Afterwards, Tony Schiavone urged fans not to replicate the kind of carnage they'd just seen.

"Fans, have a clue," he said. "Don't try this sort of thing in your backyard."
"Try it in your living room instead! It's more fun!" replied Bobby Heenan.

Scotty Riggs vs. Mikey Whipwreck

WCW Spring Stampede 1999 - Scotty Riggs faced Mikey Whipwreck
Scotty Riggs was now doing a Generic Narcissist gimmick where he was in love with his own appearance.

Here, he went up against Mikey Whipwreck in what we were told was an unadvertised bonus match, which basically meant the WCW booking committee needed to fill up a bit of time.

At one point, this run-of-the-mill singles match got a loud "boring" chant from the crowd which was probably a bit unfair.

Ok, so it paled in comparison to the other two matches, but as filler, it generally served its purpose and was perfectly fine for what it was.

After a few minutes, Riggs hit the ropes and bounced into Whipreck with a flying forearm for the win.
Your Winner: Scotty Riggs

Prior to the next match, we got a quick look back at the rivalry between Konnan and the Disco Inferno.

Konnan vs. Disco Inferno

WCW Spring Stampede 1999 - Konnan faced Disco Inferno
Better than you probably imagined it would be, Disco vs. Konnan was as good the two men involved could possibly make it given their individual talents.

It was a solid, by-the-numbers battle between the popular babyface (Konnan) and the cocky, arrogant heel (Disco) that kept the crowd's interest (and mine for that matter) from start to finish.

After an enjoyable outing, K-Dogg blasted Disco with Disco's own Last Dance (Stone Cold Stunner) to pick up the three count.
Your Winner: Konnan

Moving swiftly on

World Championship Wrestling Cruiserweight Championship
WCW Cruiserweight Champion & WCW Tag Team Champion Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. WCW Tag Team Billy Kidman

Yes, Rey Mysterio Jr. and Billy Kidman were both good friends and tag team champions, but tonight, the latter was challenging the former for the cruiserweight title.

Here, the two men put on a cruiserweight masterclass, going back and forth in a long, solid match that mixed what Mike Tenay loved to call "high-risk offence" with some well-thought psychology.

Captivating from start to finish, this very good match ended when Mysterio blocked from attempting the shooting star press and rana'd him off the top rope for the fall.
Your Winner and Still Cruiserweight Champion: Rey Mysterio Jr.

Up next, we'd find out which team would challenge Rey & Billy for their tag team titles.

Raven's Rules Tag Team Match
Chris Benoit & Dean Malenko (w/ Arn Anderson) vs. Raven & Saturn

Winner earns a tag team title shot
WCW Spring Stampede 1999 - Raven & Saturn faced Chris Benoit & Dean Malenko
Another lengthy contest, this one saw both teams given plenty of time to work one of the best tag team matches of that year, if not of the past several years.

With the crowd becoming more and more in favour of the recently reunited Raven and Perry Saturn and turning on Chris Benoit and Dean Malenko (with several loud "Horsemen Suck!" chants), the match got more intense, more dramatic, and more engrossing the longer it went on.

More than just your typical "face-in-peril makes hot tag, babyface come back, finish" this had a unique flow to it that made it all the more enjoyable.

After a good, long match, Benoit hit a diving headbutt onto a steel chair that was draped over Raven. Malenko, who was pretty out of it, got his arm over Raven and three seconds later we had new number one contenders to the tag team titles.
Your Winners: Chris Benoit and Dean Malenko

Up next, we were reminded that Ric Flair had stripped Scott Hall of the US title because Hall was basically AWOL. President Flair had then set up a tournament to crown a new champion.

That tournament had seen Scott Steiner defeat Chris Jericho to earn a place in the finals, after which Jericho had used a loophole to get back in and face Booker T. Booker T had also beaten Jericho, and would now face Steiner for the US title only a month after the two men locked up for the TV title back at Uncensored.

For what it's worth, this was the first WCW PPV not to feature a Chris Jericho match since Starrcade 1997.

World Championship Wrestling United States Championship Tournament Final
Scott Steiner vs. WCW TV Champion Booker T

WCW Spring Stampede 1999 - Scott Steiner faced Booker T for the US title
Is it possible that we focus so much on how crazy and intense Scott Steiner is that we overlook the fact that, at his best, he was a very, very good heel?

Big Poppa Pump spent the early part of this match just stalking the ringside, goading the fans and getting them riled up. Though it could be seen as merely stalling, it was a very effective way of establishing Steiner as an unhinged uber-heel, making you want to see Booker T beat him up even more.

Booker did beat him up, but unfortunately couldn't do enough to keep The Genetic Freak down.

After a so-so match, the referee took a tumble and the crowd immediately turned in unison to look at the entrance way, ready for the inevitable run in.

For once, nobody came, but Steiner did manage to pull Random International Object out of his trunks which he jammed into Booker's face during a suplex attempt.

Steiner then revived the referee and made the three count.
Your Winner and NEW US Champion: Scott Steiner

That really wasn't the best match ever...but it made for a decent change of pace after some really intense action earlier on the card.

Out in the Internet Location, Rey Mysterio told Mark Madden that he and Kidman were on the same page and looking forward to defending the tag team titles.

Kevin Nash (w/ Lex Luger and Miss Elizabeth) vs. Goldberg

WCW Spring Stampede 1999 - Kevin Nash vs. Goldberg
Back at Starrcade 1998, Goldberg's streak -then one of the hottest things in pro wrestling- had come crashing to an end at the hands of Big Sexy Kevin Nash.

Tonight, four months down the line, Goldberg finally got his revenge in a short, passable match that felt more like it was there to fulfil some sort of obligation to end the story the right way than it was to -you know- actually be entertaining.

Not that it was bad, it just wasn't quite the exciting match you'd probably want from two of the biggest stars in the company.

A Jackhammer gave Goldberg his win back, and all was right with the world again.
Your Winner: Goldberg

Finally, it was main event time

World Championship Wrestling World Heavyweight Championship Four-Way Match
WCW World Heavyweight Champion Nature Boy Ric Flair vs. Diamond Dallas Page vs. Hulk Hogan vs. Sting

Special Guest Referee: Macho Man Randy Savage
Here's a few interesting things for you:

This was the first WCW PPV of the Monday Night Wars that didn't feature Michael Buffer doing Super Special Introductions.

This was the first WCW PPV appearance by Macho Man Randy Savage since The Great American Bash 1998, and the first WCW appearance by Sting since Halloween Havoc 1998.


Together with reigning champion and WCW President Ric Flair, Diamond Dallas Page, and Hollywood Hogan, Sting made his return to PPV count in a very entertaining main event.

The rules here were simple:

All four men in the ring at the same time, first fall wins.

It made for a wild, chaotic brawl that made for very enjoyable viewing right up to the point that DDP slapped Hogan in a Bret Hart Figure-Four-Around-The-Posts deal.

Conflicting reports suggest that Hogan was either legitimately injured here, or that it was used as a way to write him off TV to heal a pre-existing knee injury, but either way, the nWo leader was taken out of the match and helped to the back.

For a moment, the remaining competitors -and Savage- seemed to just stare at each other as they tried to figure out how to turn the four-way into a three-way. Thankfully they managed it, and the rest of the match was just fine, though not quite as riveting as it had been prior to Hogan's injury.

Eventually, DDP hit the Diamond Cutter on Flair to become our new champion.
Your Winner and NEW WCW Champion: Diamond Dallas Page

After years of toiling within the lower-realms of the card, after years of scratching and clawing to get noticed, DDP was finally on top of the mountain and celebrated with his new title as Spring Stampede 1999 went off the air.






All in all then, this was a great night of pro wrestling. Not only was it one of the best PPVs of 1999, but it was also one of the best PPVs World Championship Wrestling had put out in a long time. 

Though some matches weren't quite on the mark for this writer, everything else -from the opening Blitzkrieg/Juvi bout to the main event was a joy to watch. 

Whether WCW could keep up this level of quality for another month, however, remained to be seen. 




Other 1999 pro wrestling reviews:
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