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, 27 August 2020

PPV REVIEW: WWF Royal Rumble 2001

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 2001 - Event poster
January 21, 2001
New Orleans Arena, New Orleans, Louisiana

It's fair to say that the year 2000 was the last full calendar year that everything was 'normal' in the world of professional wrestling as we knew it back then. 


By the end of that year, there were still three major players - the WWF, WCW, and ECW. Sure, the latter two may have been on their last legs, but they were there.

By the end of the year 2001, however, everything would be different. Not only would WCW and ECW be gone, but they'd be owned by the World Wrestling Federation, while the WWF itself would be only months away from not even being the WWF any more thanks to those pesky Panda People.

Still, at least everything seemed normal on that late January night when the World Wrestling Federation brought the Royal Rumble to New Orleans.






Here's what went down at the last Royal Rumble of an era remembered so fondly by so many of us...

The First Step Towards Immortality

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 2001 - Jerry 'The King' Lawler and Jim Ross called the event
Tonight’s video package was a bold, dramatic affair that told us that if Wrestlemania was the showcase of the immortals then the Royal Rumble was the first step towards immortality.

As with 99% of the company’s PPV intros, it was very well done and really got you psyched for the show.

The camera then panned the huge crowd both live in the arena and at WWF New York. Man, I bet WWE -or indeed any wrestling company in the world- would kill to have such a huge crowd that was as red hot as the ones back then.

Jim Ross and Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler welcomed us to the show and, with that, it was down to ringside.

World Wrestling Federation World Tag Team Championship
WWF World Tag Team Champions Edge & Christian vs. The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray & D’Von Dudley)

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 2001 - Edge and Christian battled The Dudley Boyz
The Dudleyz wasted no time going after their opponents and attacked them right from the opening bell, but Edge & Christian soon managed to cut D’Von off from his partner and dominate the bulk of the match.

That whole part was fine, but it did look as though it was going to give us a fairly bland opening match with neither team performing anywhere near the level they were capable of.

Then they began building towards the finish and it was absolutely tremendous.

Near falls followed counters followed reversals followed more near falls, all in one utterly enthralling finale which came to a head with a win for Bubba Ray and D’Von courtesy of the 3D.
Your Winners and NEW Tag Team Champions: The Dudley Boyz

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 2001 - Drew Carey meets Triple H and Stephanie McMahon
Earlier, on heat, comedian Drew Carey arrived at the arena. Also on that show, Vince McMahon addressed something that had happened on Smackdown and told us that, yes, Steve Austin would be in tonight’s Rumble match and, yes, Triple H would be challenging Kurt Angle for the WWF title.

Back live in the arena, HHH urged Stephanie McMahon not to let her hatred of Angle’s manager, Trish Stratus get in the way of him becoming champion.

After Steph was done ranting about her man winning tonight’s match, they were interrupted by Carey, who was excited about bumping into Kamala at an airport.

Honestly, that’s what he said.

He also said that he wanted to talk to Vince McMahon about promoting PPVs since the only reason he was there on the show was to promote his own upcoming PPV special.

Steph didn’t know where her Dad was, but she did want to introduce Drew to Trish, partly to get the comedian out of Hunter’s way (because who has time to talk about Kamala’s singing career when you’ve got a title match?) but mostly to stick it to Trish.

Always Poundin’ Ass

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 2001 - Farooq and Bradshaw with their questionable t-shirts
Across the arena, Farooq and Bradshaw were playing cards and drinking beer. They got into it about something but I’m not sure what because I was too distracted by their ridiculous APA: Always Poundin’ Ass t-shirts.

Seriously, who thought that was a good idea?

I sort of got the idea that they were talking about which number they’d drawn for the Rumble as both men flashed one another bits of paper and agreed it was going to make things interesting.

Crash Holly then burst on the scene to warn the two men that if they got in his way, he’d have no problem throwing them over the top rope.

‘DAMN,’ said Farooq.
‘And people call us drunks,’ added Bradshaw.

World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match
WWF Intercontinental Champion Chris Benoit vs. Chris Jericho

In the past year, these two had given us many great matches at events like Judgement Day 2000, Summerslam 2000 and many others, so it was fitting that they kicked off 2001 with another scorcher.

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 2001 - Chris Benoit faced Chris Jericho in an excellent ladder match
I’ve always said that my favorite match of all time was the Intercontinental Championship ladder match between Triple H and The Rock at Summerslam 1998, but I genuinely believe that Chris Benoit vs. Chris Jericho at the 2001 Royal Rumble might be every bit as good as that one.

Honestly, I’ve watched so much wrestling over the course of running this blog that I start wondering if I’m not becoming a bit desensitized to it all.

Then a match like this comes along and reminds me why I do love pro wrestling.

I can’t remember the last time I spent so long literally on the edge of my seat, utterly enraptured by every move. Nor do I ever remember joyously yelling ‘HOLY S**T!’ as often as I did here.

It was stiff, it was brutal, it was dramatic,  and it was absolutely exceptional.

Quality stuff from start to finish, this one ended when Jericho knocked Benoit from atop the ladder to the outside then climbed up and captured his third Intercontinental Championship.
Your Winner and NEW Intercontinental Champion: Chris Jericho

Out in the back, Drew Carey was busy getting rejected by Trish Stratus when Vince McMahon walked in.

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 2001 - Drew Carey flirts withTrish Stratus
Seizing his opportunity, Carey quizzed McMahon on how to better promote his upcoming PPV, but Vince was more interested in encouraging him to enter the Royal Rumble match.

Yep, that was happening.

Don’t Worry About Chyna

Across the arena, Chyna was gearing up for her match with Ivory as her buddy Billy Gunn urged her not to go through with it.

The Ninth Wonder of the World was in rough shape after being on the receiving end of a spike piledriver at the hands of Right to Censor, but she wasn’t going to let that get in the way of getting revenge on arch-rival Ivory.

Instead, she stormed off and insisted that Gunn would be better off worrying about the 29 other men he’d have to fight in the Rumble.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Your New Intercontinental Champion

Before we went back to Ross and Lawler, Michael Cole got a quick word with new IC champion Y2J.

Referring to Benoit as ‘one of the toughest bastards I’ve ever faced,’ Jericho kept it short and sweet, declaring that he’d proven his rival wrong once and for all.

World Wrestling Federation Women’s Championship
WWF Women’s Champion Ivory (w/ Steven Richards) vs. Chyna

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 2001 - Chyna presses Ivory in their women's title match
Though the match was very short, it was actually kind of fun to watch Chyna woman-handle her much smaller opponent, throwing her around like a rag-doll and generally kicking her ass all over the place.

Then the finish came, and it was really underwhelming.

The challenger backed the champion into the corner and went for her trademark cartwheel handspring elbow. However, as she struck Ivory, Chyna’s neck injury was reaggravated and she collapsed to the mat like a sack of crap.

A barely-conscious Ivory draper an elbow over her opponent and won the match in the space of just a few minutes.
Your Winner and Still Women’s Champion: Ivory

Selling the seriousness of the injury, Chyna lay prone on the mat, unable to move as Jerry Lawler abandoned his position at the announce table and hit the ring to check on her.

Chyna’s buddy Billy Gunn came down, quickly followed by agents Sgt. Slaughter and Tony Garea as we got a really long stretcher job.

I’ll Touch You, Trish

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 2001 - Trish Stratus confronted Stephanie McMahon backstage
Backstage, Stephanie McMahon headed to makeup to her hair fixed, only to find her nemesis Trish Stratus was already there.

Trish offered to touch it up for her, leading McMahon to warn the blonde beauty that if she cost HHH the title then Steph would, yes, touch her.

The crowd cheered at the thought of some Steph/Trish touching.

Ahem.

Drew Carey is a Big Deal

Elsewhere, Harvey Wippleman handed some wrestling gear to a very nervous-looking Drew Carey.

‘Hey, who's the guy in the goofy mask?’ Asked Carey as Kane walked in, looked at the comedian, and left again.

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 2001 - Kane stares down Drew Carey backstageNo doubt that would pay off later.

As if to hammer home the point that Carey being there was a big deal, his name was dropped in another segment when Vince McMahon told Lo-Down (Chaz and D’Lo Brown with Tiger Ali Singh) that neither of them would be competing in the Royal Rumble because they’d been replaced by Carey.

You’ve gotta feel bad for D’Lo Brown.

He was one of the most entertaining parts of the early Attitude Era midcard and now he was basically comic fodder.

Who Will Win the Championship?

At WWF New York, a bunch of fans gave their pick for the WWF title match.

It was pretty much a 50/50 split between those who thought HHH would win and those who were rooting for Kurt Angle.

Back in the arena, HHH got psyched up for the big match by snarling at himself in the mirror.

World Wrestling Federation Championship
WWF Champion Kurt Angle (w/ Trish Stratus) vs. Triple H (w/ Stephanie McMahon)

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 2001 - Trish Stratus led WWF Champion Kurt Angle into battle against Triple H
Point of interest, this was the first WWF PPV in which Triple H used his Motörhead ‘The Game’ theme.

After his entrance, Hunter engaged in a solid wrestling match with Kurt Angle which was mostly very good.

Why only mostly?

Because at one point, Steph and Trish got into a predictable catfight that had to be broken up by Vince McMahon because this was during the time when he booked himself to be shagging the beautiful Ms. Stratus.

That was unnecessary, but the rest of the match was damn fine.

The Game dominated, for the most part, spending a large part of the bout working over the champion’s leg before just going all out to try and beat him.

Toward the finish, Earl Hebner got murdered which gave Stone Cold Steve Austin the chance to run out and get revenge on HHH for costing him the title recently.

The Texas Rattlesnake smacked his rival in the face with the title belt then planted him with a stunner for good measure before hauling a mostly-dead Earl Hebner back in the ring.

A lifeless Kurt Angle managed to drape an arm over his opponent, Hebner made the slowest count in all history and the Olympic Gold Medalist had once again barely escaped another match with his title.
Your Winner and Still WWF Champion: Kurt Angle

Afterward, The Game stormed off, presumedly to find Austin.

Finally, The Rock Has Come Back...to New Orleans

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 2001 - Kevin Kelly interviews The Rock
Interviewed by Kevin Kelly, The Rock cut a fantastic promo about tonight’s 30-man rumble.

First, he addressed rumors that Kane and The Undertaker were in cahoots (that again?) and vaguely suggested they might be into some kind of weird brotherly incest before insisting that he’d throw both men over the top.

Finally, he confirmed that it may all come down to him and Stone Cold, if you could detect the odor of his efforts in the kitchen.

A video package followed, highlighting tonight’s Rumble competitors. The video did a good job telling us that Rikishi had the number 30 spot as well as showcasing main event stars like Kane, Undertaker, The Rock, and Stone Cold.

30 Man Royal Rumble Match featuring The Hardy Boyz, Drew Carey, Kane, Raven, Honky Tonk Man, The Rock, The Undertaker, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Billy Gunn, Rikishi and more...

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 2001 - Drew Carey tries to buy his way out of fighting Kane in the Royal Rumble match
From start to finish, this was one of the most entertaining Rumbles in history with nary a dull moment in sight.

Howard Finkle gave us the rules of the match, including the fact that there’d be two minutes between entrances.

Then it was on with Jeff Hardy as competitor number one, Matt Hardy as number three, and Bull Buchanan between them at number two.

The brothers made short work of Buchanan then turned their attentions to one another, holding nothing back as they battled tooth and stopping only to dispose of number four entrant Farooq.

Drew Carey made his way out at number five and rejoiced as Matt and Jeff eliminated each other at the same time. His celebration was short-lived, however, as Kane was out at number six.

Pacing up and down the ring looking goofy and nervous, Carey offered Kane a handshake. When that didn’t work, he offered him money.

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 2001 - The Honky Tonk man put in a surprise appearance in the Rumble match
Naturally, the Big Red Machine declined that too and was about to chokeslam Carey when number seven Raven came to the rescue.

Realizing he wanted none of that, the Drew hopped over the top rope and eliminated himself.

Raven’s arch-rival Al Snow then came out and filled the ring with garbage so that the two of them -along with Perry Saturn and Steve Blackman- could attack Kane hardcore style.

The Big Red Machine eventually cleaned house, only to be joined by none other than The Honky Tonk Man. Appearing in his first Rumble match since his last surprise appearance at the 1998 Royal Rumble, Honky wanted to sing his theme song, but Kane wanted to chokeslam him and eliminate him.

Guess who won that exchange?

With Honky gone, The Rock came out at number 13 to kick off the second, more serious half of the rumble.

In other highlights.

The Big Show returned to the company after a lengthy absence and murdered everyone in sight with chokeslams before being quickly eliminated by The Rock. To get his revenge, Show dragged Rock under the bottom rope and chokeslammed him through a table.

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 2001 - The Brothers of Destruction, Kane and The Undertaker
The Undertaker revealed that he and Kane were working together after all. The two cleaned house and then dominated the match.

Stone Cold Steve Austin was attacked by Triple H during his entrance. The Game beat Austin to a bloody pulp. Austin did a gruesome blade job that was even more intense than his infamous crimson mask from Wrestlemania 13. At one point, he honestly looked like Frank from the first Hellraiser movie.

Haku returned to the World Wrestling Federation, appearing in his first WWF PPV since the 1992 Royal Rumble. Haku looked impressive here, almost as impressive as he’d looked when he won the WCW Hardcore title at WCW Sin just one week before this event.

In the end, it came down to Austin, Kane, and The Rock. Kane got rid of The Great One but got smacked upside the head with a chair several times by Austin before being clotheslined over the top rope with force.
Your Winner: Stone Cold Steve Austin

Ladies and gentlemen, Stone Cold was going to Wrestlemania, and as the show closed, he threw a beer bash to celebrate.







Apart from the women’s title match which wasn’t really anything, WWF Royal Rumble 2000 was an awesome show from beginning to end.

Jericho/Benoit was the match of the night and is worth checking out for Jericho’s performance if nothing else.

Elsewhere, Kane and The Rock shone as MVPs of an utterly enthralling Rumble match.

A show well worth tracking down.

Other reviews of 2001 pro wrestling events: 
For more Royal Rumble reviews see:

Thursday, 20 August 2020

PPV REVIEW: WCW Sin 2001

WCW Sin 2001 Review - Event poster
January 14, 2001,
Conseco Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Indiana

Back in the day, there was a rumour floating around that World Championship Wrestling wanted to run a PPV series based on the seven deadly sins. 


Unfortunately, we'd never get to witness Tony 'Big T/Ahmed Johnson' Norris returning from his run in Harlem Heat 2000 to collide with Abdullah the Butcher in a Cheeseburger on a Pole street fight at WCW Gluttony. Nor would we ever see the inevitable moment in which Kevin Nash headlined WCW Sloth.

WCW would be closed for good just days after kicking things off with WCW Greed, but before that the seeds were planted with this:

The one and only WCW Sin pay per view.

Today, the event is infamous more for Sid Vicious' horrific broken leg than any of the actual matches, so why don't we head down to Indianapolis, Indiana and see what else went down besides that injury?







This is Sin

After all these years, WCW finally figured out how to make a good PPV opening video with just a few months left to go.

WCW Sin 2001 Review - Tony Schiavone and Scott Hudson called the event
Tonight's opening package was set to a haunting choral soundtrack and featured shots of World Championship Wrestling's biggest stars interspersed with graphics displaying the names of the Seven Deadly Sins.

The shots of the wrestlers didn't seem to have anything to do with the actual words on the screen, however. For example, Gluttony was immediately followed by a shot of Sid Vicious laughing like a maniac.

Whether this was a thinly-veiled dig at Sid for putting on some weight in the last year is anyone's guess.

I will say one thing though, they missed a trick by not showing a shot of Bryan Clarke when 'Wrath' came up on the screen.

Given that this PPV was called Sin and we'd have 'Greed' in March, I do wonder if the plan was to rebrand a bunch of other PPVs with the seven deadly sins, but I guess we'll never know.

Let Me Do This Alone

Anyway, after a greeting from our announcers Tony Schiavone and Scott Hudson, we went backstage where Shane Helms encouraged his 3 Count partner Shannon Moore not to get involved in the upcoming cruiserweight title match.

Moore agreed, and it was on with the show.

World Championship Wrestling World Cruiserweight Championship
WCW World Cruiserweight Champion Chavo Guerrero vs. Sugar Shane Helms

WCW Sin 2001 Review - Chavo Guerrero defended the Cruiserweight title against Sugar Shane Helms
You know, I can't remember the last time I watched a WCW cruiserweight PPV title match that didn't include a bunch of overbooking, mad stunts and run-ins.

Though the company still had talented performers who could work in the cruiserweight style, the division itself had -like almost everything else in the company- gone dramatically downhill.

So it was absolutely refreshing to see Chavo Guerrero defend his title against Shane Helms in a straight-up one-on-one match with no BS or wackiness.

It was an awesome match too, maybe not an all-time classic, but certainly a thrilling bout with lots to enjoy, including a gripping reversal-of-a-reversal-of-a-reversal finish that saw Chavo retain the gold with a Brain Buster.

Even though he won, there were many moments when it looked like Helms really could be our new champion, making this one of those occasions when a wrestler really did get more over despite losing.
Your Winner and Still Cruiserweight Champion: Chavo Guerrero

After Chavo's obligatory celebration, Schiavone and Hudson took some time to speculate on the identity of the mystery man who would be competing in tonight's main event.

If you're wondering where their usual partner, Mark Madden was, he had recently been fired for basically telling the truth about what a dismal state the company was in.

WCW Sin 2001 Review - Mike Tenay interviews Nature Boy Ric Flair as he arrives at the arenaTo be honest, I'm not complaining. The guy may have his fans, but this writer isn't one of them. Between him being a grown man making Jay & Silent Bob references to his repeated attempts to get himself over, there wasn't a lot to like about him.

Still, why they only had a two-man booth when the ever-awesome Mike Tenay was right there is anyone's guess.

Tonight, Tenay was relegated to waiting around backstage for CEO Ric Flair to arrive and then questioning him about the mystery man when he did so.

Unsurprisingly, Nature Boy wasn't letting anything slip, but insisted he'd reveal the mystery man when the time was right.

Vito is Ready for Reno

Yes, this feud was still going on.

Backstage, Mean Gene Okerlund caught up with Big Vito who had apparently reunited with his former partner Johnny The Bull.

Cutting a decent promo, Vito declared that it didn't matter what Reno and the Natural Born Thrillers did to him, he was going to get revenge tonight.

Big Vito vs. Reno

WCW Sin 2001 Review - Big Vito faced Reno
This was a surprisingly good match which surpassed all expectations.

Ok, so neither man had ever sucked, but they weren’t exactly known for stealing the show either, so it was a treat to see them go at it in such a fast and furious fashion.

Make no mistake about it, something had lit a fire under these two which meant they bust hump to give us the best match they were capable of.

In the end, Reno won with his Roll of the Dice finisher, but before that, there was a lot to enjoy here.
Your Winner: Reno

Finally, it seemed WCW had gotten out of the annoying habit of cramming 20 backstage segments into 90 seconds of pre-match time.

Here we just had one.

Mike Sanders offered Brian Adams some money to do a job for him (remember, the Acolytes were doing an APA gimmick), but after Sanders left, Bryan Clarke revealed that they’d been paid more money by somebody else to do a different job.

WCW Sin 2001 Review - Evan Karagias and Jamie Noble faced The Jung Dragons

The Jung Dragons (Yang & Kaz Hayashi w/ Lea Meow) vs. Knoble & Karagias (Jamie Knoble & Evan Karagias)

I just typo’d and accidentally wrote ‘The Hung Dragons.’ Something tells me that would have been an entirely different tag team.

Anyway, this was a lot of fun - a frantic Cruiserweight showdown with all the flips, flops, and flying you could ask for.

After all kinds of big-time moves and breakneck wrestling, a simple roll-up earned Kaz Hayashi & Yang the win.
Your Winners: The Jung Dragons

Post-match, the losers beat up The Jung Dragons because that’s what heels do.

Meanwhile, backstage, Totally Buff (Lex Luger & Buff Bagwell) arrived in a purple hot rod and started complimenting each other’s appearance.

Mike Sanders vs. Ernest ‘The Cat’ Miller (w/ Miss Jones)

If Miller wins, he becomes commissioner. If Sanders wins, he gets Miss Jones

WCW Sin 2001 Review - Ernest 'The Cat' Miller and Miss Jones
Since both men were arguably better on the microphone than in the ring, it made sense for them to each have some pre-match promo time before locking up.

Sanders began things, reminding us of the match stipulation and insisting that the WCW Commissionership was a role worth having because it paid well.

That’s probably about the only real reason anybody would want the job since it was basically meaningless now that Ric Flair was running things as CEO.

Ernest Miller, however, thought differently. Proving himself to be very over with the live crowd, The Cat insisted he could beat Sanders as long as he had the people behind him and was going to use the Commissionership to help WCW ‘get back on top.’

Ah, there’s nothing like a company openly admitting that they were failing live on air.

What didn’t fail was this match. Though it may be hard to believe, this was a very entertaining little match.

A rematch from their kickboxing encounter back at Halloween Havoc 2000,  Sanders and Miller put their best foot forward to deliver a bout that was made all the more enjoyable thanks to how beloved The Cat was by the audience.

Towards the finish, Sanders’ Natural Born Thrillers henchmen Shawn Stasiak and Mark Jindrak ran in to beat up Miller, but that’s when Kronik arrived.

The hired guns saw off Sanders’ goons then approached the commissioner himself, refunding the money he’d paid them by stuffing it in his mouth.

Miller hit the Feliner and became our new Commissioner.
Your Winner: Ernest Miller

Afterward, Miller and Miss Jones danced and celebrated their big win.

The Time for Talking is Over

WCW Sin 2001 Review - Bill Goldberg and Ric Flair watch a monitor
Backstage, Ric Flair and Goldberg watched the earlier arrival of Buff Bagwell and Lex Luger on a monitor. The CEO made the upcoming match between the three of them a No DQ match as if that actually meant something.

In the previous match we saw Sanders hit a blatant low-blow on Miller and Miss Jones kick Sanders in the back of the head all in front of the official, but sure Ric, make Goldberg vs. Totally Buff No DQ.

With that done, Ric had Goldberg go over to a couple of fans to sign an autograph and take a picture. It seemed like a weird thing to show on camera...

Elsewhere in the arena, Mean Gene interviewed Jeff Jarrett about tonight’s fatal four-way main event. Jarrett insisted that he had Scott Steiner’s back and was mad at Okerlund for suggesting otherwise.

‘The time for talking is over,’ claimed Gene as the segment came to an end, even though there’d be more interviews still to come.

Team Canada (Lance Storm, Elix Skipper and Mike Awesome w/ Major Gunns) vs. The Filthy Animals (Konnan, Rey Mysterio Jr. and Billy Kidman w/ Tygress)

WCW Sin 2001 Review - Team Canada (from L-R: Elix Skipper, Major Gunns, Lance Storm and Mike Awesome)
Special referee: Hacksaw Jim Duggan

I’ve been wondering recently why  Juventud Guerrera was no longer in the Filthy Animals, then it occurred to me that this must’ve been around the time he got canned for going crazy on an Australian tour.

Meanwhile, Hacksaw Jim Duggan was the special referee here after turning his back on America, joining Team Canada, then changing his mind about the whole thing and getting booted out.

In other words, Duggan’s heel turn bombed and nobody wanted to boo him, so they made him face again.

As a replacement, of sorts, Team Canada had Florida native Mike Awesome join them.

Before the bell, Lance Storm introduced the penalty box rule, telling us that anybody who broke the rules would get sin-binned.

The gimmick added an interesting aspect to what could have been a great match in its own right but, ultimately, it ended up making the whole thing confusing and hard to follow.

Sure, much of the in-ring action was pretty good, but with people constantly coming in and out of the penalty box it just got too much.

Storm won thanks to the Canadian Mapleleaf, ending a match which sounded great in theory but was shoddily executed.
Your Winners: Team Canada

Backstage, Mike Tenay interviewed The Natural Born Thrillers.

WCW Sin 2001 Review - Mike Tenay interviews Mike Sanders
“Well Mike Sanders, it looks like you won’t be needing that fancy commissioners’ office any more," said Tenay, who had clearly been taking lessons from Mean Gene on how to be a smug prick interviewer.

Ignoring The Professor, Sanders swore revenge on the ‘jacked-up muscle heads’ Kronik before Chuck Palumbo and Sean O’Haire promised to defeat the Insiders for the tag team titles.

I guess Palumbo’s ‘Perfect Event’ tag team with the other Shawn was all over.


Across the way, Diamond Dallas Page and Kevin Nash were shown stretching in anticipation of the match. This must have been a really big deal because usually when they cut to Nash backstage before a match he’d be reading a magazine or goofing off but nope, tonight he was in serious wrestler mode.

World Championship Wrestling World Hardcore Championship
WCW Hardcore Champion Terry Funk vs. Meng vs. Crowbar (w/ Daffney)

Terry Funk was the champion but Meng carried the title down to the ring. If you’ve read any previous WCW PPV reviews on this blog you’ll already have encountered one of the many rants about how much WCW ran this angle, so we won’t go into it again today.

WCW Sin 2001 Review - Meng won the WCW Hardcore title then showed up at the WWF Royal Rumble the following week
Instead, let’s just say that at some points this was a really good hardcore match and at other times it was incredibly sloppy.

If there’s one thing we can learn from it, it’s that Crowbar really wasn’t very good at selling.

At one point, he had Terry Funk in a figure four. Meng -widely regarded as perhaps the legit toughest wrestler ever- punched him twice in the head and the former Devon Storm didn’t even flinch.

Meng then dove off the top rope -seriously- splashed the bejesus out of Crowbar and murdered him with a piledriver, and the guy got back to his feet a few seconds later.

Then, Funk made a pin attempt on Meng and Crowbar tried to break it by lightly tugging on Funk’s t-shirt. It was so ineffective that Funk could have won the match, but that wasn’t the finish so he had to stop covering Meng for no reason which looked stupid.

A few seconds later, Meng slapped the Funker in the Tongan Death Grip and became our new hardcore champion. He’d be gone from the company and in the WWF a week later.
Your Winner and NEW Hardcore Champion: Meng

Out in the back, Ric Flair congratulated Ernest Miller on becoming the new commissioner then proceeded to give him the night off, because that's how important the job was.

Mean Gene then interviewed Sid, who did the whole sinister, psychotic whispering promo thing that we hadn't really seen him do since his last WWF run.

To be honest, he said nothing that would come as much of a surprise:

He was in the maint and was planning to win it.

World Championship Wrestling World Tag Team Championship
WCW World Tag Team Champions The Insiders (Diamond Dallas Page & Kevin Nash) vs. The Natural Born Thrillers (Sean O'Haire & Chuck Palumbo)

WCW Sin 2001 Review - The Insiders (DDP & Kevin Nash) defended the tag team titles against Sean O' Haire and Chuck Palumbo
Before the match got started, we were shown a video that told us how Chuck Palumbo and Sean O'Haire became the new Thrillers tag team.

Of course, it had previously been Palumbo and Shawn Stasiak and O'Haire partnered with Mark Jindrak, but then a tag team battle royal was held to determine new number one contenders to the Insiders' titles, and those four men were the last ones standing.

NBT leader Mike Sanders then made a match between them, with the last two men remaining becoming the new tag team.

Palumbo and O'Haire were it, and here we were.

Speaking of Sanders, he came down with the rest of his team and announced that he was going to make substitutions throughout the match -ultimately creating a handicap scenario- but Ric Flair came out and squashed that idea dead.

The match itself was pretty decent, with the youngsters working hard and the veterans playing to their strengths. Everything was going pretty well, but then WCW had to spoil it with an overkill finish.

Despite Flair threatening fines and suspensions if the rest of the Natural Born Thrillers got involved, they did so anyway, but this proved just to be a distraction so that Lex Luger could come out with a chair for some reason.

Page took care of Luger while Kevin Nash stood around in the ring, trying to act as though he wasn't just waiting for Buff Bagwell to run in and hit him with a monkey wrench.

O'Haire then hit the Seanton Bomb and, one three count later, this was all over.
Your Winners and NEW tag team champions: Chuck Palumbo & Sean O'Haire

Backstage, the Natural Born Thrillers celebrated their big victory while Mike Tenay stood around to get an interview.

Mike Sanders claimed that Totally Buff's involvement had nothing to do with them, while Tenay hinted that The Insiders would be going after Buff.

First Blood Match for the World Championship Wrestling United States Championship
WCW US Champion General Rection vs. Shane Douglas

WCW Sin 2001 Review - Shane Douglas challenged General Rection for the US title
Throughout the latter half of the year 2000, Shane Douglas had two things going for him:

1: He could cut an effective heel promo
2: He had Torrie Wilson by his side.

Torrie had been released from her contract in December, presumedly as a cost-cutting measure, so now Douglas' only redeeming feature was his mic skills.

Tonight, he used them to announce that he was going to defeat General Rection and use the US title as a stepping stone to get to Scott Steiner's World Heavyweight Championship.

Rection, however, had other plans.

He took the fight to the challenger in a mediocre match that could have been a lot better had they given a damn about the stipulation.

You see, this was a first blood match, with a steel chain hanging above the ring that they were supposed to grab and use as a weapon to bust their opponents open with. Logic would have it that both men would be eager to get the chain and win the match, but this was WCW, were logic was a dirty word.

Instead, both men completely ignored the chain and wrestled a normal match -albeit for one brief battle through the crowd- before coming to the finish, where Douglas pulled a chain out of his boot and waffled the champ with it for the fall.

Why couldn't he have just done that in the opening minute of the match?
Your Winner and NEW US Champion: Shane Douglas

WCW Sin 2001 Review - Mean Gene Okerlund interviewed Scott Steiner (w/ Midajah)
Backstage, Scott Steiner gave one of his usual insane interviews to Mean Gene, claiming that he didn’t trust anybody and would go down in history as the greatest world heavyweight champion of all time.

Elsewhere in the arena, a bloody General Rection had a mental breakdown over losing the US title.

No Disqualification Match
Totally Buff (Lex Luger & Buff Bagwell) vs. Goldberg & Sgt. Dwayne Bruce

If either Goldberg or Sarge wins, Goldberg is banned from WCW for life.
This all came about as an evolution of Luger’s feud with Goldberg.

At Starrcade 2000, Buff had attacked Bill’s trainer, Sgt. Buddy Lee Parker Dwayne Bruce, forming a team with the Total Package and leading us into tonight.

Despite the No DQ stipulation, referee Mickey Jay still enforced tags and the first half of the match was played out like your basic tag team encounter.

It was OK, but not particularly great, though I will give them some credit for an interesting finish. Remember earlier when I said that showing Goldberg signing autographs for a fan was weird?

It paid off here.

Towards the end, Luger was arguing with the fan and grabbed him by the shirt. Goldberg came to the guy’s rescue but it was all a ruse. The ‘fan’ sprayed Big Bill with mace, giving Luger & Bagwell the upperhand.

Lex put Goldberg on his shoulders, Buff planted him with the Buff Blockbuster and just like that, Goldberg’s WCW career was done.
Your Winners: Totally Buff

With the match over, a defeated Goldberg struggled to get to his feet before struggling to the back, walking out of World Championship Wrestling for good.

The move was supposed to give Bill time off for shoulder surgery, but the company was bought out by the WWF two months later and we wouldn’t see Goldberg again until he turned up in All Japan Pro Wrestling in 2002.

Here on Retro Pro Wrestling, we won’t meet him again until we get to WWE Backlash 2003.

Four-Way Match for the World Championship Wrestling World Heavyweight Championship
WCW World Heavyweight Champion Scott Steiner (w/ Midajah) vs. Jeff Jarrett vs. Sid Vicious vs. Road Warrior Animal


WCW Sin 2001 Review - Sid Vicious broke his leg in a horrific accident
This had been built for weeks as Steiner vs. Sid vs. Jarrett vs. A Mystery Man chosen by Flair.

Speculation ran rampant on who it would be. A returning Sting? A defecting WWF star?

Nope, it would be a bloated Road Warrior Animal, a reveal that would have been a bit deal 10-15 years earlier, but in 2001 was really underwhelming.

Not that Animal came out at first. Flair said that he would reveal his mystery man when the time was right, making this a three-way dance and leaving your writer with a sick feeling in his stomach.

Why?

Because the moment I saw Sid wearing those denim shorts, I remembered that this was the night he horrifically broke his leg.

Ugh, I feel ill just thinking about that.

Fortunately, they cut away from that terrible moment, showing us Flair getting his mystery man and cutting back to the ring with Sid in the ring for a really really long time with a messed up leg.

For some reason, they couldn’t just take Sid out of the match and carry on, so it all had to be cut short.

The Mystery Man came out in a mask, stomped Sid once, and allowed Steiner to pin Sid for the three count.
Your Winner and Still World Heavyweight Champion: Scott Steiner

I mean, imagine being Sid, being talked into doing a high spot by an official, breaking your leg doing it, and then having to sit in the ring in agony waiting to be pinned.







That main event was beyond awful, not because of anything that happened pre Sid’s leg, and not even because Road Warrior Animal was the biggest disappointing reveal since The Higher Power, but because of the horrible way WCW handled the injury and the finish.

Sid’s leg was a mess. They should have gotten him out of there immediately and improvised a new finish.

Instead, they kept him in the ring and even had Steiner kick him a bunch of times.

It was really hard to watch.

Other than that, this was actually a decent show with a really enjoyable undercard.

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Thursday, 13 August 2020

EVENT REVIEW: Smoky Mountain Wrestling - Fire on the Mountain 1993

Smoky Mountain Wrestling - Fire on the Mountain 1993 Review - Event GraphicAugust 14th, 1993
Freedom Hall, Johnson City, Tennessee

Perhaps one of the strangest and most unique things about Smoky Mountain Wrestling is its origins.

This little-territory-that-could, so steeped in a tradition of southern-style wrestling that was becoming ever more unfashionable with the larger global community and so beloved by what many of the company's own stars called 'hillbillies' was bankrolled by none other than Rick Rubin, the famous music producer known for working many of the most popular and cutting edge artists for the better part of four decades.





Still, it was perhaps a testament to Rubin's hands-off approach that there was no sign  of anything particularly cutting edge on a hot summer's night in Johnson City when Smoky Mountain Wrestling Wrestling came to town.

Here's what went down at Fire on the Mountain 1993.

Welcome to Fire on the Mountain

Smoky Mountain Wrestling - Fire on the Mountain 1993 Review - Les Thatcher and Dutch Mantel called the event
We began tonight with our announcers, Les Thatcher and Dr. Dutch Mantell standing center ring.

Apparently, Mantell had earned his Ph.D. since we last saw him back at Smoky Mountain Wrestling Bluegrass Brawl 1993, but that's beside the point.

The two announcers talked us through some of the main attractions on tonight's card, including Tracy Smothers defending his title against Brian Lee, and a main event 'Rage in the Cage' match between Cornette's Criminals and Armstrong's Army.

Speaking of Rage in the Cage, the winner of our opening contest would earn an advantage for his team in the said main event.

'Gigolo' Jimmy Del Ray (w/ Jim Cornette) vs. Steve Armstrong

Smoky Mountain Wrestling - Fire on the Mountain 1993 Review - Gigelo Jimmy Del Ray beat Steve Armstrong in the opening match
Before the bell, Jim Cornette got up on the mic to talk about how much he'd love to slap 'smart alecs' like the ones in attendance.

Man, say what you want about Corny, he sure knew how to get a crowd worked up. The Johnson City faithfull really hated this guy, and made more noise for him than they did for the actual match.

That's something of a shame because Gigolo Jimmy Del Ray and Steve Armstrong did put on a competent opening match which, while hardly spectacular, did at least entertain from bell to bell.

After a decent seven-minute outing, the dastardly Cornette wallopped Armstrong with his tennis racket behind the back of referee Mark Curtis. He then helped Del Ray get his foot on the ropes to ensure an ill-gotten victory.
Your Winner: Jimmy Del Ray

The fact that the winner of that match gained a 2-on-1 advantage in the upcoming Rage in the Cage match pretty much telegraphed a win for the heels right from the start, but it was still a fun effort despite the telegraphed finish.

You Fight, I Fight...

Out in the back, Brian Matthews interviewed Dirty White Boy about his upcoming match with The Mongolian Stomper.

Sounding incredibly excited about the impending battle, White Boy acknowledged The Stomper's legendary status but insisted that he'd learned everything he needed to know in order to defeat him from another legend, Ron Wright.

'Stomper,' said White Boy. 'You fight, I fight, and that's just the way I like it!'

That match was next.

'Battle of the Brutes'
Dirty White Boy vs. The Mongolian Stomper

Smoky Mountain Wrestling - Fire on the Mountain 1993 Review - Dirty White Boy faced The Mongolian Stomper
The last time we saw Dirty White Boy in action, he was dropping his world title to Tracy Smothers back at Bluegrass Brawl.

That match was pretty awesome.

This one, not so much.

White Boy attacked Stomper as the legendary grappler came through the ropes and from that point on, neither man let up, giving us five, unrelenting minutes of clobbering blows, the occasional bit of biting and... well, not much else.

Though watching the two men wail on each other wasn't bad, it was a little underwhelming.

After five minutes, the two were so engrossed in punching each other that they both shoved Mark Curtis aside when he tried to break them up.

That led to the double disqualification and this one was over.
Double DQ

Post-match, Stomper and White Boy brawled all the way to the back.

Who Will Drink From a Baby Bottle?

Smoky Mountain Wrestling - Fire on the Mountain 1993 Review - White Lightning Tim Horner faced Chris Candido
Up next, 'White Lightning' Tim Horner was set to take on 'Suicide Blonde' Chris Candido in a bout that had one unique stipulation:

Yep, the loser would have to drink from a baby bottle.

Before the match, Brian Matthews interviewed both participants. I'm not sure if Tim Horner intentionally meant to be so funny, but as he ranted on about how Chris Candido would have no problem sucking from a baby bottle because that's what he did 'all night, all the time,' you couldn't help but laugh out loud.

Chris Candido was a little more put-together in his promo.

One of the most underrated heels ever, 'Suicide Blonde' protested the indignity that he, the so-called 'Real World's champion' had to compete in a baby bottle match when the likes of Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair would never have to go through such humiliation.

With that out of the way, it was down to ringside.

'Loser Must Suck From a Baby Bottle'
WWA Heavyweight Champion 'Suicide Blonde' Chris Candido vs. 'White Lightning' Tim Horner

Smoky Mountain Wrestling - Fire on the Mountain 1993 Review - Chris Candido faced White Lightning Tim Horner
To be honest, I'm not quite sure where the WWA title that Chris Candido was wearing came from as I can't seem to find much information on it. If anybody reading this could fill me in, I'd be very grateful.

I'm also not sure whether Tim Horner knew that 'White Lightning' is a cheap brand of cider in the UK closely associated with alcoholics, but that's neither here nor there.

The match itself was pretty good stuff.

As with most Smoky Mountain bouts, you were never going to get a five-star classic here, but Candido and Horner did at least give us a solid see-saw battle with plenty of enjoyable moments.

Towards the finish, referee Mark Curtis tried to dive out of harm's way but got knocked to the outside by the two wrestlers.

Candido then tried charging at Horner, but White Lightning side-stepped, causing the Suicide Blonde to go crashing onto the outside.

Only seeing part of this, Curtis returned to the ring and called for the bell. Apparently thinking that Horner had deliberately thrown his opponent over the top, the referee awarded the match to Candido on the grounds that throwing someone over the top rope was illegal in SMW.
Your Winner via Disqualification: Chris Candido

Smoky Mountain Wrestling - Fire on the Mountain 1993 Review - Tim Horner cut an angry promo after his match with Chris Candido
Ignoring the fact that this was the second match in a row to end on a DQ finish of some kind, Candido smashed Horner in the face with his WWA title belt, then pushed him into the ropes where he tried -and failed- to tie him up using wrist tape.

Though he couldn't get him tied up, Candido did at least force his rival to suck from a baby bottle, so there was that at least.

Backstage, Brian Matthews caught up with Horner, who vowed that in revenge for Candido squirting milk on him, he was going to -and I quote- "squirt something on you, and it's not going to be milk!"

The less said about that, the better.

We're Ready for the Coal Miner's Glove Match

Smoky Mountain Wrestling - Fire on the Mountain 1993 Review - Brian Matthews interviews Tammy Fytch and Prime Time Brian Lee
Up next, we got pre-recorded comments from SMW Champion Prime Time Brian Lee and his manager, Tammy Fytch.

With Brian Matthews holding the microphone, Fytch expressed her disgust that her man Lee should have to compete in a coal miner's glove match before both of them went on about how much of a pervert Tracy Smothers was.

In one of the better promos of the evening, Lee promised that by the time he was done with his opponent, Smothers wouldn't be able to perv on Fytch any more.

We then went to more pre-recorded comments, this time from the challengers.

Pointing at himself, Smothers declared "the light's on but nobody's home." Surely that's up there with Sid Vicious' "I only have half the brain that you do" moment when it comes to inadvertently cutting a promo on yourself?

That dumb moment aside, The Wild-Eyed Southern Boy admitted that he was a hillbilly, a redneck, and all of the other terms that Lee had tried to use as an insult against him before vowing to dethrone his rival and become the Smoky Mountain Wrestling Champion for the third time.

Coal Miner's Glove Match for the Smoky Mountain Wrestling Heavyweight Title
SMW Heavyweight Champion Prime Time Brian Lee (w/ Tammy Fytch) vs. Tracy Smothers

Smoky Mountain Wrestling - Fire on the Mountain 1993 Review - Tracy Smothers challenged Prime Time Brian Lee for the SMW title
Prior to the bell, Tammy Fyth got on the microphone to address the crowd. When the Tennessee faithful roundly booed her and Lee, the SMW Champion declared that if they carried on, he and Fyth would simply leave.

It was an effective move to get the crowd well pumped up, but it didn't see the champ and his manager leave. Instead, they were yelled at by Tracy Smothers who -for like the tenth time on the show so far- referred to the future Sunny as 'Tammy Witch with a Capital B.'

Later, Smothers interrupted the match to take the microphone again, this time calling Brian Lee a 'f*ggot' much to the delight of the crowd.

Ah, the early 1990s, when casual homophobia was still a reason to cheer.

That aside, this was another pretty solid effort. Nothing flashy, nothing altogether memorable, but decent old-school wrestling that kept the crowd -and this writer- suitably entertained.

Sure, it would have been better if the two had made more of an effort to reach for the coal miner's glove rather than applying rest holds, but that aside, it was a good showing.

After close to twenty minutes, the champion retrieved the glove, which turned out to be nothing more than a rubber washing-up glove painted silver. Before he could use it, Smother's attacked with a dropkick slipped on the rubber glove and smashed his foe in the mush.

It was that point that shenanigans came into play.

Tammy distracted the referee while Dirty White Boy ran in and walloped Smothers with a chair. He put the glove onto Lee, draped Lee's arm across Smother's chest, and left the ring.

One three count later and this one was over.
Your Winner and Still SMW Champion: Brian Lee

Post-match, Smothers sought revenge, attacking his rivals and bending Tammy over for a good old fashioned spanking. White Boy and Lee retaliated, attacking the fallen babyface until Mark Curtis got on the mic and threatened to have them permanently suspended if they laid another finger on The Wild Eyed Southern Boy.

I won't lie, Curtis' voice was surprisingly deep for such a small dude.

Dissension in the Ranks

Smoky Mountain Wrestling - Fire on the Mountain 1993 Review -  Prime Time Brian Lee, Tammy Fytch and Dirty White Boy celebrate
Making their way backstage, White Boy, Lee, and Fytch stopped by for an interview with the ever-present Brian Matthews. After Tammy got done calling Smothers a 'woman beater,' Prime Time boasted that not only was he still the champion, but that he'd also now be able to collect a $20,000 bounty put on the head of The Wild Eyed Southern Boy by Ron Wright.

"Wait, what do you mean you'll get the $20,000?" asked Dirty White Boy. "I'm the one that took Smothers out."

The two began a little argument, but before it could escalate into anything, we were taken to the ring where Les Thatcher and Dutch Mantell introduced us to some pre-recorded comments from tonight's main event teams.

Ready for War

First up, Jim Cornette stood by in an empty dressing room with his team, Cornette's Criminals. Ever a convincing act on the microphone, Cornette promised that his team were ready for war, with The Bruise Brothers (Ron & Don Harris) serving as the big tanks that would mow everybody down before his 'Secret Service' of The Heavenly Bodies went in to finish the job.

Offering a retort, Bullet Bob Armstrong got insisted that his Armstrong's Army were all gunning directly for Cornette and that they would go through The Bruise Brothers and The Heavenly Bodies just to get their hands on the outspoken manager.

Rage in a Cage
Cornette's Criminals (SMW Tag Team Champions The Bruise Brothers, The Heavenly Bodies, and Jim Cornette) vs. Armstrong's Army (Bullet Bob Armstrong, Scott Armstrong, Steve Armstrong, and Rock N’ Roll Express)

Smoky Mountain Wrestling - Fire on the Mountain 1993 Review - Armstrong's Army cut a backstage promo before facing Cornette's CriminalsSpecial Guest referee: The Big Boss Man

Let's get this out of the way right now, shall we?

This was just about the worst-looking cage in the history of pro wrestling. Cobbled together using timber and chicken wire, it looked like something some half-assed backyard wrestling fed would get laughed at for using.

Seriously, it could hardly contain a couple of chickens, let alone ten human beings.

Still, it did a good job of containing our special guest referee for this evening, The Big Boss Man.

Having left the WWF earlier in the year (though not without first appearing on Wrestlemania: The Album), the former Big Bubba Rogers had made his way to SMW for a conflict with Cornette, for whom he'd previously been a bodyguard way back in the day.

Before the match, Cornette lambasted Boss Man and questioned whether he really had 'changed his ways' as he'd claimed. Finally, Jimmy introduced us to his team before the opposition made their way out.

The match began, and from that point on, Big Boss Man might as well have not been there. He simply walked around aimlessly while the other men went at it.

In case you're wondering just what 'Rage in the Cage' was, it was basically a low-rent War Games with the added stipulation that along with submitting someone, you could also win by handcuffing all of the opposing team to the cage.

It was a novel concept, however, much like the nine-man mess from Bluegrass Brawl, this one was hard to watch at points.

Fortunately, at other points, it provided some genuinely engrossing moments.

Ricky Morton got busted open about ten seconds into the match and proceeded to gush like a fountain for the remainder. Bullet Bob went crazy when he finally made his way into the ring as the last man for Armstrong's Army, and the remaining contestants saw to it that this was a very lively brawl indeed.

In the end, Armstrong's Army had all of Cornette's Criminals handcuffed to the cage, allowing Bullet Bob to clamp Jim Cornette himself into a submission hold and win the match.
Your Winners: Armstrong's Army

Though not exactly this writer's favorite type of wrestling, I can certainly see the appeal of a match like Rage in the Cage.

Special Bonus Feature:
Lumberjack Match
Bullet Bob Armstrong (w/ Armstrong's Army) vs. Jim Cornette (w/ Cornette's Criminals)

Special Guest Referee: Big Boss Man

Smoky Mountain Wrestling - Fire on the Mountain 1993 Review - Cornette's Criminals cut a backstage promo before facing  Armstrong's Army
This match didn't actually take place at SMW Fire on the Mountain 1993 but took place at some other event and was tacked onto this recording as a bonus.

This time, Boss Man was a little more involved, demanding Cornette get in the ring after the cowardly manager tried everything from feigning an injury to presenting a note from his mother to get out of the match.

Once things got underway, Boss Man continued to ensure law, order, and justice prevailed as he presided over a fun little contest in which Cornette used heel shenanigans (namely, interference) to get the upper hand.

All the while, The Bruise Brothers, The Heavenly Bodies, The Rock & Roll Express, and The Armstrong Brothers all hung around ringside in their role as lumberjacks, each man brandishing one of Cornette's trademark tennis rackets.

At the finish, Bullet Bob drilled James E. with not one but two piledrivers, one of which the announcer called an atomic drop.
Your Winner: Bullet Bob Armstrong

Post-match, a bloody Jim Cornette sold the piledrivers like he'd just been murdered and had to be stretchered out of the arena into a waiting ambulance. The whole thing played out as we listened to Bullet Bob Armstrong's theme song, Bad to the Bone by George Thoroughgood.

It was, admittedly, really cool, and probably the most unique end to a pro wrestling event this writer has seen in a long time.





All in all then, another good show from the southern promotion.

As I said last time, you're never going to get five-star quality from a promotion like Smoky Mountain Wrestling, but you will get plenty of entertaining, even if a lot of that entertainment seems incredibly dated (and, in the case of Smothers' slurs, pretty darn offensive) by today's standards.

Match of the night goes to Candido vs. Horner, if only because that terrible-looking cage made the main event look a bit ridiculous.

Other 1993 event reviews:

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Thursday, 6 August 2020

PPV REVIEW: NWA Starrcade '83: A Flare for the Gold

NWA Starrcade 83: A Flare for the Gold Review - Event poster
November 24, 1983 
Greensboro Coliseum Complex in Greensboro, North Carolina

"Folks, we've come a long way since Ric Flair vs. Harley Race at Starrcade '83."

That was Tony Schiavone, commenting at the end of a Bunhouse Street Fight between Jeff Jarrett and the Harris Brothers and The Filthy Animals at Starrcade 2000.

That one single line sticks out to me more than anything else that happened on that show. It stuck out partly because of how bewildered and bemused by the state of then-modern pro wrestling that was evident in Schiavone's voice.

After all, he was there at the very beginning. He'd seen it all -the good, the bad, and The Yhetti. So if anyone knew how much things had changed, it was Tony.







It also stuck out to me because it made me realise that I'd never actually seen Starrcade 1983. Not once had I sat down to witness the birth of an event that would often be referred to in later years as 'WCW's answer to Wrestlemania.'

Of course, that simply wasn't true. If anything, Wrestlemania was the WWF's answer to Starrcade, an event which proceeded Vince's annual spectacle by a good two years.

Without further ado then, let's head down to the Greensborough Coliseum for the debut of the NWA/WCW's flagship event.


Starrcade 83: A Flare for the Gold

Gordon Solie and Bob Caudle host the show, but there’s no opening gambit, no video package or special welcome, just straight to the ring for our opening match.

The Assassins (w/Paul Jones) vs.  NWA Mid-Atlantic Champion Rufus R. Jones & Bugsy McGraw.

NWA Starrcade 83: A Flare for the Gold - The Assasins beat on Rufus R. Jones
If you ever find yourself in a pro wrestling trivia contest and are asked to name the participants of the first-ever Starrcade match, don’t feel too bad if you don’t remember it.

After all, there was nothing particularly memorable about tonight’s opening contest.

Sure,  NWA Mid-Atlantic Champion Rufus R. Jones and Bugsy McGraw were entertaining in their own unique way, throwing their arms around a lot and doing the whole ‘crazy babyface’ thing, but much of the actual action was nothing to write home about.

After minutes, the masked Assassins pulled a switch-a-roo to score a win that this writer did not see coming.
Your Winners: The Assasins

After the official welcome from Caudle and Solie, we went backstage to a fresh-faced Tony Schiavone. One thing I will say, I love how Solie pronounced Tony’s name as Sch-Phoney.

NWA Starrcade 83: A Flare for the Gold - Tony Schiavone hangs out backstage as Roddy Piper talks to Ric Flair and Mark Youngblood
Anyway, out in the back, the NWA/WCW mainstay told us that tonight he would be conducting exclusive backstage interviews from inside the locker room, something Schiavone claimed was a first in pro wrestling.

Whether it was or not, I couldn’t say, but I did enjoy this segment. As the company’s future lead announcer spoke, we saw Ric Flair and Rowdy Roddy Piper talking in the background.

At one point, Charlie Brown from Outa Town (Jimmy Valiant in a mask) walked by and then Ricky Steamboat came up to say hi to Flair and Piper, all showing us that the wrestlers -at least the babyfaces- all shared one dressing room.

If you ask me, that was far more realistic than pretending every wrestler had his own dressing room like the major companies would eventually do.

Johnny Weaver & Scott McGhee vs. Kevin Sullivan & Mark Lewin (w/Gary Hart)

NWA Starrcade 83: A Flare for the Gold - Johnny Weaver & Scott McGhee vs. Kevin Sullivan & Mark Lewin (w/Gary Hart)
Our second tag match of the evening was a decent contest but again, not something that anybody would remember or be in any hurry to rush out and see.

Scott McGhee played face-in-peril for a while before finally making the hot tag to Johnny Weaver, but neither man was any match for Kevin Sullivan and Mark Lewin on this night.

The nefarious heels used multiple quick tags to get the better of their opponents before picking up the win with - of all things- a flying knee to the arm courtesy of Mark Lewin.

Well, come on, it was 1983.
Your Winners: Kevin Sullivan & Mark Lewin

Post-match, Garry Hart gave his men some kind of spike that Sullivan and Lewin used to stab McGhee in the face multiple times until he bled like the proverbial stuck pig.

Angelo Mosca eventually made the save, but the damage had already been done.  After a brief struggle, Mosca sent the heels packing then lifted McGhee over his shoulder and carried him out of the arena like a baby.

Harley Has Done his Homework

NWA Starrcade 83: A Flare for the Gold - Tony Schiavone interviews Harley Race, with Greg Valentine and Gerry Brisco
Somewhere on the front row, Barbara Clary interviewed a family of fans who were all excited to see Ric Flair win his match with Harley Race later on in the show.

Meanwhile, out in the back, Tony Schiavone had words with the World Heavyweight Champion himself. Flanked by US champion Greg Valentine and tag team champions The Briscos, Race took his time and cut a deliberate, almost sinister promo in which he claimed to have spoken to people who knew his opponent well and had learned everything he needed to know about Flair's flaws and weaknesses.

Carlos Colon vs. Abdullah The Butcher

The announcers told us that this match had been banned in Puerto Rico, presumedly for being too violent.

To be honest, there wasn't much to this match. I've never really seen the appeal in Abdullah The Butcher and this did little to change my mind.

NWA Starrcade 83: A Flare for the Gold - Carlos Calon attacks Abdullah the Butcher
Early on, Abby got Carlos Colon in the corner and discretely stabbed him with an International Object out of view of the referee.

A little while later, Colon managed to seize control of the object and stab The Butcher repeatedly with it. It was done in such a way that we were supposed to believe he was hiding the weapon, but the referee had to be a blind idiot not to see it.

Eventually, the official got knocked down by Carlos and inadvertently squashed by Abby. Colon applied a figure four, but future WWF Spanish Commentator Hugo Savinovich ran in and hit him in the head with something.

One three-count from a groggy official later and this was all wrapped up.

As I say, there wasn't much to this match and I can't really rate it all that highly, but to give them their credit, something these two did really got the crowd fired up.
Your Winner: Abdullah The Butcher

NWA Starrcade 83: A Flare for the Gold - Angelo Mosca cuts an angry promo about Kevin Sullivan and Mark Lewin
Backstage, Angelo Mosca was nursing a wound he suffered while rescuing Scott McGhee from the hands of Kevin Sullivan & Mark Lewin.

With a battered, bloody McGhee slumped by his side and looking like he might die at any moment, Mosca cut an impassioned promo in which he scolded Lewin and declared that even if he had only one arm, he'd still be on hand to referee tonight's tag team championship match.

Out in the crowd, Barbara Clary interviewed two young women with awesome 80s haircuts. Both girls were looking forward to seeing Ric Flair take the title later on in the show.

Dick Slater & Bob Orton Jr. vs. Wahoo McDaniel and Mark Youngblood

If you like tag team matches, this is the show for you. We're currently on three tag matches out of four matches total, and there's at least one more to follow in the form of the tag team title match.

NWA Starrcade 83: A Flare for the Gold - Wahoo McDaniel & Mark Youngblood faced Dick Slater and Bob Orton Jr.
Fortunately, this one was far superior to the other two and proved to be highly enjoyable from beginning to end.

Not from the very beginning, you understand - at the very beginning, the ring announcer decided that this was the most appropriate time to tell us that Dusty Rhodes was in the house, but his mic cut out so it was all kinds of awkward and weird.

But after that, the two teams went at it in a really solid bout.

Mark Youngblood did almost all of the work for his team, throwing dropkicks around like candy and playing face-in-peril before making the crowd-popping hot tag to Wahoo McDaniel.

Alas, his efforts were for nought.

Dick Slater and Bob Orton Jr. -both of whom looked awesome throughout this match- got the win when Orton drilled Youngblood with a second-rope superplex.
Your Winners: Dick Slater & Bob Orton Jr.

Afterwards, Slater and Orton took turns attacking McDaniel's arm like the dastardly heels that they were.

Flair is Ready for Race

NWA Starrcade 83: A Flare for the Gold - Ric Flair chats to Jay Youngblood and Ricky Steamboat backstage
Backstage, a sombre Ric Flair told Tony Sch-Phoney that he was ready for Harley Race before wishing his friends, Jay Youngblood and Ricky Steamboat, luck in their upcoming tag team title match.

In response, Jay Youngblood mumbled his way through an ill-advised promo in which he talked about training with Flair at Steamboat's gym.

This was not good at all.

Dusty Rhodes Says it All...


...well, at least he tried to.

Out in the crowd, Barbara Clarey attempted an interview with The American Dream only for the show to suffer audio difficulties once again.

Dusty didn’t care one bit that nobody could hear him. He went off on what looked like a very impassioned promo, but honestly, you couldn’t hear a word of it.

‘Dusty Rhodes said it all there,’ said Sollie said with a level of sincerity that made the whole thing hilarious before adding... 'well, if you can read his lips, you can tell what he’s saying’

Title vs. Mask Match for the National Wrestling Alliance World Television Championship
NWA World TV Champion The Great Kabuki (w/ Garry Hart) vs. Charlie Brown

True story:

NWA Starrcade 83: A Flare for the Gold - The Great Kabuki defended the TV title against Charlie Brown
Once upon a time in the early 90s, I found an old VHS tape on a market stall that featured a few NWA matches. Many years later, the only wrestler I remember being on that tape besides Ric Flair was Charlie Brown from Outa Town.

If you’re not familiar with Brown, he was better known as Jimmy Valiant doing a Masked Rider/Mr America ‘everybody-knows-who-I-really-am-but-I’m-denying-it’ gimmick.

The story was that The Great Kabuki’s manager, Gary Hart wanted to prove that Brown was Valiant, so he put Kabuki’s TV title on the line against Brown’s mask for the first fifteen minutes of the scheduled sixty-minute time limit.

The actual match was pretty captivating in a way that you don’t see all that much of these days.

The challenger spent the first half of the match applying sleeper holds to the champion. Every time he did, Gordon Solie would remind us how ironic this was because the sleeper was invented in Kabuki’s home country of Japan.

In the second half of the match, the man from the Orient clamped a claw on his masked nemesis and held it there for as long as possible.

Nothing much happened, but both the competitors and the announcers sold each hold like it meant something important, and that was enough to get this fan fully invested.

After a decent contest, Charlie Brown from Outta Town hit a basic elbow drop on the legendary Great Kabuki to capture the TV title.

Ah, the 80s. Such a simpler time.
Your Winner and NEW TV Champion: Charlie Brown

Cutting to the announcers, Bob Caudle interviewed some guy from the radio who I’m pretty sure they said was called Dude Walker.

Dude Walker. Seriously.

Anyway, like everyone else on the show, the dude abided by the script and told us he was sure Ric Flair would win, though Sollie was adamant that we couldn’t count out Harley Race just yet.

After all, said Sollie, he was the only man in history to be a seven-time world champion.

Meanwhile, Flair was only a two-time world champion. What a chump.

Race Reveals His Game Plan

NWA Starrcade 83: A Flare for the Gold - Tony Schiavone hangs out with Harley Race, Bob Orton, and Dick Slater
Out in the back, Tony Schiavone interviewed Dick Slater, Bob Orton, and Harley Race.

Slater and Orton bragged about previously taking Flair out on orders of the champion, but now that the Nature Boy was at Starrcade, Race revealed that he was gunning for the champion’s neck.

I don’t know about you, but I would’ve kept that information to myself so that my opponent didn’t have time to plan a defence, though I’m not a seven-time champion so what do I know?

Rhodes Wants the Winner

Elsewhere, they tried again with Barbara Clarey interviewing Dusty Rhodes and this time got a better result.

In a short promo, the ever-charismatic ‘Dream predicted a win for Race and declared that he was coming after the champ’s title once Starrcade was over.

Dog Collar Match
NWA US Champion Greg Valentine vs. Roddy Piper

NWA Starrcade 83: A Flare for the Gold - Greg Valentine hurts Roddy Piper in their classic Dog Collar Match
There’s a reason why this match is so legendary:

It was really, really good.

You know how some matches look a bit too polished with spots which, though they look impressive, are clearly well-choreographed?

This wasn’t one of those matches.

This was two men who hated each other battering one another to a bloody pulp until neither one could stand.

It was violent, it was brutal, and the creative use of the chain linking the two dog collars made it all the more engrossing.

By far the best match on the card up to this point, this one came to an end when Piper smashed his opponent’s face in and got the three count.
Your Winner: Roddy Piper

Afterwards, Valentine avenged his loss by beating Piper senseless. At least he kept his belt as this was a non-title match.

Flair is Ready

NWA Starrcade 83: A Flare for the Gold - Another Ric Flair promo, this time with Wahoo McDaniel
Backstage, we got another interview with Ric Flair because why not?

I get that they were going all out to make the main event a big deal, but two promos a piece from champ and challenger seemed excessive, especially when neither man had much to add in their second segment.

To be fair to Flair (TM Bobby Heenan), he did address a beat-up Wahoo McDaniel who was sitting next to him and thanked Daniel for helping get him ready for tonight because, if you didn’t already know, he really was ready.

Out in the crowd, Barbara Clary interviewed former tag team champion, Don Kernodle, for his tights on the upcoming tag team title match.

Kernodle also predicted a win for Flair.

National Wrestling Alliance World Tag Team Championship
NWA World Tag Team Champions Jack & Gerry Brisco vs. Ricky Steamboat & Jay Youngblood

Special Referee: Angelo Mosca

NWA Starrcade 83: A Flare for the Gold - Jack Brisco takes down Ricky Steamboat
If you’re only familiar with Gerald Brisco as a figure of fun from the Attitude Era, this one might surprise you.

He and his brother Jack Brisco were great wrestlers who put on an absolutely excellent tag team title match with Steamboat and Youngblood.

I know I complained earlier about there being too many tag team matches on the show, but honestly, when they’re this good, it’s not a chore at all.

No frills, no fancy gimmicks, just a solid back-and-forth wrestling match that ended with a win for Youngblood and Steamboat.

Very good indeed.
Your Winners and NEW Tag Team Champions: Ricky Steamboat & Jay Youngblood

Post-match, the booking committee once again ran the heel-attacks-the-face angle they’d run after like 80% of tonight’s matches.

This time, however, the good guys prevailed and proceeded to indulge in a lengthy celebration with their newly-won titles.

As the champs paraded through the crowd, the credits came up on the screen with Gordon Sollie trying in earnest to put over each member of the production crew.

It was kind of sweet, but also strangely very funny.

Of interest, one of the cameramen listed was none other than future WCW Head of Security, Doug Dellinger.

A Word With the Victors

NWA Starrcade 83: A Flare for the Gold - Tony Schiavone interviews new TV Champion, Charlie Brown From Outta Town
Out in the back, Nature Boy Ric Flair paced up and down while Schiavone interviewed some of tonight’s winners.

First up, Charlie Brown raved like a wild loon about how good it was to be the new TV champion.

In a complete contrast in tone, Piper then talked about Greg Valentine busting up his ear before challenging Valentine for the US title.

Finally, Youngblood and Steamboat addressed their unprecedented (for the time) fifth tag team championship reign.

Jay Youngblood had way more charisma than his brother Mark, cutting a convincing promo about his and Steamboat’s success.

He was even more charismatic than Steamboat himself, who tried his best to inject a little passion into his speech about competing with the best in the world and coming out on top.

Hey Look, It's Dusty Again

NWA Starrcade 83: A Flare for the Gold - Barbara Clary interviews Dusty Rhodes with some fans
I don't have too many legitimate complaints about Starrcade '83, but this insistence on constantly interviewing the same guys was getting pretty old.

Race had two promos, Flair had two promos, and now Rhodes had three promos and he wasn't even booked in a match.

This time, Barbara Clary interviewed him while he hung out with three girls who predicted that Flair (who else?) would take home the gold. After that, Dusty cut another promo in which he excitedly said his own name a lot and not much else.

Look, I love 'Dream as much as the next fan, but this was unnecessary.

After that, a performer called James 'Tiny' Weeks sang the National Anthem.

Steel Cage Match National Wrestling Alliance World Heavyweight Championship
NWA World Heavyweight Champion Harley Race vs. Nature Boy Ric Flair

Though it looked slow compared to the modern fast-paced-workrate-rules-all style of pro wrestling and featured none of the insane spots you'd probably find in a cage match today, this was a classic old-school battle which more than deserves its legendary status.

NWA Starrcade 83: A Flare for the Gold - Ric Flair battles Harley Race in their classic cage match
After some grand entrances that made this one stand out as a really huge deal, and after both men received a somewhat overly long address from the referee and former world champion Gene Kiniski, champ and challenger went at it in an intense, bloody war for the ages.

Flair started off wrestling methodically, taking the champion to the mat and attempting to wear him down. Reversing a front face lock into a suplex (or *suplé* if you're Gordon Sollie), Race then took control and stayed true to his word, beating down on his opponent's neck with brute force.

What followed was a brilliant seesaw battle in which both men got progressively more violent as time ticked on.

Of course, given that the whole show was built around Flair as the hero, the outcome was never really in question, but it sure was a joy to watch it unfold.

After an excellent match, Flair scaled the top rope and hit Race with a crossbody block. Referee Kiniski had taken a tumble and was on all fours, waiting for Flair to knock Race and Race to go tumbling over him, school-boy style. However, somebody was out of position so it didn't quite come off right, but it still led to the cover, the count, and the fall.

I'm not certain, but I wonder if that's the only time Flair has gone to the top and not been immediately thrown off. Still, given that it earned him a world title in one of his most legendary matches, it's no wonder Nature Boy would spend the rest of his career trying to hit that move again.
Your Winner and NEW World Heavyweight Champion: Ric Flair

Post-match, the babyface locker room spilt out into the ring to lift Flair on their shoulders and celebrate with the new champion as a defeated Harley Race looked on in shock and frustration.

After a kiss from his wife, Flair took to the microphone to address the crowd and thank them for their support.

Usually, this is where a show would end, but this was the NWA in 1983, so we got another ten minutes of promos.

First, we went to the back, where Ricky Steamboat congratulated the new champion. Flair was grateful for Steamboat helping him train and promised that if Ricky ever needed anything, he'd be there. It was interesting watching these two be such close friends after reviewing the epic battle they'd have at Wrestlewar '89 a few years later.

Dusty Rhodes then arrived on the scene and warned Flair that he was coming after his title. Unperturbed, Nature Boy insisted that he wasn't going to worry about that right now, and was only focussed on celebrating his big victory.

Then, after a lengthy summary from the announcers, we went to Harly Race's dressing room. With Barbara Clary holding the mic, the fallen champion insisted that despite losing the title, he wasn't going away.

Funnily enough, that's exactly what he did. Race would leave for the AWA the following year before showing up in the WWF in 1986 so that he could pretend to be a king and have that ridiculous brawl with Hacksaw Jim Duggan at the 37th Annual Slammy Awards.

Still, at the time, Harley insisted that he was gunning for his eighth world title and told the new champion to enjoy it while it lasted.

After more chatter from Caudle and Sollie, we went back to the babyface locker room once again were two funny things happened.

1: Flair said that tonight wasn't just about him, but was about people like "Roddy Piper Jimmy Valiant, and everyone who participated in this event" - thus blowing Valiant's 'Charlie Brown' cover.

2: The babyfaces had a champagne celebration. In the background, Jay Youngblood clearly got some champagne in his eye or had some other unfortunate incident and was seen stumbling around and having a bad time. I can't tell you why, but I found that hysterical.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, was the first-ever Starrcade, a great show that was a far cry from the last event some 17 years later.







I mean that, too.

Although the first half of the show was nothing too special, the last three matches alone make Starrcade 83: A Flare for the Gold must-see viewing.

It's a testament to Piper and Valentine that in an age when we've seen just about every act of violence and creative spot under the sun, their barbaric and bloody dog collar match remains as compelling today as it ever did.

The tag team title match was a pure joy to watch, featuring some of the crispest, solid wrestling you're likely to come across.

Then, there's the main event. Often regarded as a passing of the proverbial torch from Race to Flair, this was an utterly gripping title match that more than earned its legacy.



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Retro Pro Wrestling

New reviews of classic WWF/WWE events recalling every moment from Wrestlemania 1 - 30. You'll also find reviews of WCW, ECW, TNA and the occasional indie event, along with a look at old school magazines, merchandise and more.