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, 30 June 2022

PPV REVIEW: WWE Bad Blood 2003

June 15, 2003
Compaq Center, Houston, Texas

WWE Bad Blood 2003 - Event Poster

WWE Bad Blood 2003 is often cited as the company's first Raw-only PPV. If you want to be all pedantic about it, it wasn't. Insurrextion 2002 was technically the first WWE Raw-only PPV, but since most fans don't count those UK PPVS as anything important, it's Bad Blood that usually gets the honor.

With that little bit of nit-picking out of the way, let's head down to Houston, Texas, to see Kevin Nash clash with Triple H inside Hell in a Cell, Shawn Michaels take on Ric Flair without telling him he loved him, and more.

Bad Blood Runs Deep

WWE Bad Blood 2003 - Jim Ross & Jerry 'The King' Lawler called all the action

Our opening video focussed on three main raw rivalries:

Eric Bischoff and Stone Cold Steve Austin, Chris Jericho and Goldberg, and Triple H and Kevin Nash.

While focussing on their recent actions, the video told us that these feuds ran deep, hinting at / but never outright saying / that Austin’s beef with Eric might have something to do with the latter firing him from WCW while Goldberg and Jericho’s also had real-life issues back in their time in Turnerland.

Jim Ross then gave an impassioned welcome to Bad Blood as he and Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler got set to call the action.

The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray & D’Von Dudley) vs.Christopher Nowinski & Rodney Mack (w/ Theodore Long)

WWE Bad Blood 2003 - The Dudley Boyz

On the pre-show episode of Heat, Theodore Long’s stable of Christopher Nowinski, Rodney Mack, and Jazz had confronted D’Von Dudley.

The former reverend hadn’t taken too kindly to it, but when Nowinski asked D’Von why he always took orders from his white brother when it came time to get the tables, Dudley did at least stop and think.

In the ring, the two teams delivered a decent opening contest.

The Dudley Boyz were now well behind the glory days of tearing it up with Edge, Christian, and The Hardy Boyz, but they’d gotten their routine down to an artform now and went through it from one trademark, crowd-popping spot to the next without it ever seeming forced.

Towards the finish, Bubba Ray Dudley ordered his brother to get the wood. Long hopped up on the apron to confront DVon, who hesitated for barely a moment before scaring off the future Smackdown GM.

In the resulting confusion, Nowinski used his face mask to hit Bubba behind the referee’s back to pick up the win
Your Winners: Christopher Nowinski & Rodney Mack

WWE Bad Blood 2003 - Terri declares Steve Austin the winner of a burping contest against Eric Bischoff

Out in the back, Terri officiated over round one of the Redneck Triathlon between Raw co-General Managers Stone Cold Steve Austin & Eric Bischoff.

Each man had three burps each to emerge victorious, though each of their attempts were so loud and ridiculously exaggerated that they were obviously fake.

Not that this was a bad thing, the absolute absurdity of it and the fact that the burps were clearly piped in made it funny in a “this is so dumb it’s comical”
Kind of way.

Winner Gets Stacy Keibler as a Manager
Test vs. Scott Steiner

WWE Bad Blood 2003 - Stacy Keibler looks like she just smelled a fart

Stacy Keibler was more over than both of the men fighting for her services, so she got her own entrance and then sat at ringside as Test and Scott Steiner gave us the best match they were capable of delivering given their ability at the time.

Test's character work as the arrogant and misogynistic heel was on point and far surpassed his in-ring talent, while, at this stage of his career, Scott Steiner made a smart move to rely more on his Big Poppa Pumpisms than taking his opponent to suplex city.

Throw in Stacy's involvement, and what you had here was a fun match which served its purpose well and ended when Steiner hit Test with a Flatliner to secure the three-count and the services of the lovely Stacy.

This was never going to be a classic, but it certainly worked for what it was.
Your Winner: Scott Steiner

WWE Bad Blood 2003 - Austin and Bischoff prepare to eat pie

Out in the back, Eric Bischoff and Steve Austin prepared for round 2 of thieir redneck triathlon; a pie-eating contest.

Bischoff had, naively, assumed this to be a traditional pie-eating contest, only for Austin to reveal that rather than blueberry, cherry, or chocolate, the type of pie they'd be eating was poontang pie.

After that revelation, Bischoff had been out and picked up four young beauties to serve as the pie, and argued that as a result, he should go first.

Offering a counter-argument, Stone Cold insisted that since they were in his home state of Texas, he should go first.

The two went back and forth on this because, you know, who wants slopppy seconds? 

Eventually, however, Austin relented and agreed that Bischoff could go first as long as he -Austin- got to pick "which flavor of pie" Uncle Eric got to eat.

I've never seen this show before as I was taking a break from wrestling in 2003, but I feel like I can almost guarantee that Austin picks some fat, ugly woman rather than one of the four beauties and we're all supposed to find it hilarious.

WWE Intercontinental Championship
WWE Intercontinental Champion Christian vs. Booker T

WWE Bad Blood 2003 - Christian takes control of Booker T

Chrisitan had "stolen" the Intercontinental Championship by cheating his way to victory in a battle royal for the vacant title back at Judgement Day 2003.

Since then, he'd been on a roll as an "underserving champion" who constantly cheated and fluked his way to victory.

Tonight was no exception.

As they often did, he and Booker T put on a good, solid match that was the best thing on the card up to this point.

Then, after an enjoyable back-and-forth contest, the champion found himself at risk of losing, so he grabbed his belt and high-tailed it up the ramp, only for referee Jack Doan to warn him that he'd forfeit the championship if he didn't make it back before the count of 10.

Begrudgingly obeying the referee's orders, Christian returned to the ring but then smashed Booker in the face with the gold, getting himself DQ'd.

It was a solid match, though it did make you wonder why Doan was happy to strip Chrsitian of the title for getting intentionally counted out but not for getting intentionally disqualified.
Your Winner via DQ: Booker T (Christian retains the title)

Out in the back, Kevin Nash taped up his wrists ready for his upcoming match with Triple H. 

As I've mentioned many times, I was a big Diesel fan back when I was 11 years-old, so a part of me popped to see him with the initials "BDC" emblazed on his top.

The Redneck Triathlon: Round 2

OK, so I was wrong about the big, fat heffer thing.

WWE Bad Blood 2003 - Steve Austin and Eric Bischoff

Jerry Lawler announced that we'd have the pie-eating contest right here in the middle of the ring and brought out both men for the proceedings to begin.

Austin then teased Bischoff about liking "mature women," which -if you'd ever seen any wrestling in the last 5 years leading up to Badd Blood '03- immedietly told you that we'd be getting an appearance from Mae Young.

Not that she appeared right away. Austin teased some more, drawing this out for much longer than necessary before bringing out the grappling granny.

Naturally, Bischoff was reluctant to go down on Mae, but also didn't want to forfeit. 

Not that he'd have a choice.

As Sleazy E psyched himself up in the corner, Young kicked him in the bollocks, stripped down to a thong and suspenders, and gave Bischoff a bronco buster for the ages.

When it was his turn, Stone Cold simply forfeited by booting Mae in the tummy and giving her a stunner.

This whole thing went far too long and was nowhere near as entertaining as it was meant to be, though I did laugh out loud at Austin stunning Mae Young.

A word with La Resistance

WWE Bad Blood 2003 - Coach interviews La Resistance

After a look back at Raw, when Kane failed to come to the aid of his fellow tag champion Rob Van Dam, Jonathan Coachman interviewed the duo's upcoming opponents, La Resistance.

Sylvain Grenier and René Duprée said nothing about the match itself, instead telling Coach that George W. Bush was a buffoon but French president Jacques Chirac was awesome.

Alright then, way to get me excited about your tag match, I suppose.

WWE World Tag Team Championship
WWE World Tag Team Champions Kane & Rob Van Dam vs. La Resistance (Sylvain Grenier & René Duprée)

WWE Bad Blood 2003 - La Resistance won the tag team titles

Kane and RVD may not have been on the page, but they still gave a good effort against the young La Resistance.

This wasn't a bad match by any stretch, but it wasn't all that impressive either. It felt more like a reasonable attempt at a time-filler on Raw than a high-quality pay per view match, but if that's the worst I have to say about it then it can't have been too terrible.

After just under 10 minutes of average-at-best action, RVD went flying over the top rope looking to hit the challengers but nailing his own partner instead.

At that point, La Resistance dragged Van Dam back in the ring, hit him with a double-flapjack and won the titles.
Your Winners and New World Tag Team Champions: La Resitance

WWE Bad Blood 2003 - Goldberg vs. Chris Jericho

I'm including this Goldberg/Jericho graphic here because I just want to show you how poorly done the graphics were for Bad Blood 2003.

WWE normally excelled in the presentation department. 

Say what you want about the quality of their product, their presentation was usually better than any other wrestling company around, but these graphics -and indeed the entire visual appearance of this show- made it look like a low-rent indie fed with graphics done by the time-keeper's brother on Gimp.

Anyway, this graphic led us to a look back at how the rivalry between Goldberg and Chris Jericho.

This all started with Lance Storm trying to run Goldberg over, only to be forced by Austin to face him in a match. Goldberg naturally destroyed Storm, who threw his former Thrillseeker's buddy under the bus and confessed that Jericho had put him up to the attack.

Jericho admitted that yes, he hated Golberg, and his reasons all dated back to their time together in WCW when Big Bill thought himself too big of a star to face The Ayatollah of Rock 'n' Rolla.

The two would finally meet next.

Chris Jericho vs. Goldberg

There's no getting away from the fact that Goldberg's first run in WWE was a disaster.

Despite being pushed as a superstar babyface, the fans had booed him out of the building when he faced The Rock back at Backlash, a reception that was so hostile and -to WWE Creative at least- so unexpected that he hadn't been seen on PPV again until tonight.

Not that it made much difference.

The fans still hated Big Bad Bill, partly because he was a WCW guy, but mostly because his limited ability was more exposed in WWE than it ever had been in WCW.

Thankfully, the ever-talented Chris Jericho was on hand to help Goldberg through, and the result was the best match you were going to get out of a monster babyface who had not much to offer and even less appeal.

After a reasonably good match, Goldberg got the win by hitting Jericho with a jackhammer.

It was a result that was never in question, and it certainly didn't harm Y2J's career much, but didn't do much to endear Billy Boy to the WWE faithful either.
Your Winner: Bill Goldberg

After the match, Goldberg argued with a Jericho fan at ringside before cameras showed us a pig pen that had been set up at ringside.

Somewhere in the back, Triple H was probably having traumatic flashbacks about Henry Godwin.

JR told us that the pig pen was for the third and final round of the Redneck Triathlon, which was weird because when Austin and Bischoff spun the wheel backstage, it revealed that the tie-breaker round would be a sing off.

This made Bischoff happy and Austin mad because everyone -including Stone Cold himself- agreed that The Texas Rattlesnake was not a very good singer.

Nature Boy Ric Flair vs. Shawn Michaels

WWE Bad Blood 2003 - Shawn Michaels vs. Ric Flair

Prior to the match, we got a look back at the rivalry between Shawn Michaels and Ric Flair.

It was an emotionally charged video which really made this match seem like a huge deal, and that can only be a good thing.

Flair came out first, followed by Michaels who, wrestling in his home state of Texas, wore the very same tights we’d last seen him wear at the 1997 Royal Rumble.

OK, so they may not have been the exact same pair, but they certainly had the exact same design.

The match was excellent, and I don’t know why anybody would say otherwise.

Michaels -who had grown up idolising Flair before going on to become just as big of a star in his own right- took the fight to Nature Boy in the early going, slapping him around the ring with gusto and getting the better of him at every opportunity.

As the intensity built, Flair managed to take out HBK’s leg and worked over that for a while before the action spilled to the outside.

There, Randy Orton popped up but immediately got decapitated by a Michaels super kick before The Showstopper put Flair on a table and lept off the top rope onto him.

That proved to be the spot of the match, especially when Naitch’ sold it like it he’d just been shot.

As the match kept getting better and better, Earl Hebner took a tumble.

HBK went for the sweet chin music (albeit without confessing his love for Nature Boy) but Orton re-emerged, drilled Shawn with a chair and draped a lifeless Nature Boy over him.

Three seconds later, this one was done.
Your Winner: Ric Flair

That was a great match and I don’t even mind the interference finish if it allowed the HBK vs. Evolution feud to continue.

Redneck Triathlon: Round 3

This was supposed to be the singing contest, with Bischoff first Milli Vinillying to his own theme song before Austin demanded he sang for real.

It turned out Eric was just as bad at singing as Austin was, so Stone Cold decided they were going to have “pig pen fun,” which equated to Austin hitting his co-gm with a stunner and throwing him in the pig pen.

I’m normally pretty lenient with WWE comedy stuff, but this whole Redneck Triathlon stuff was pretty awful.

Hell in a Cell for the World Heavyweight Championship
WWE World Heavyweight Champion Triple H vs. Kevin Nash

Special referee: Mick Foley

WWE Bad Blood 2003 - Mick Foley refereed the Hell in a Cell match between Kevin Nash and Triple H

Prior to the match, we got a look back at the build up to this match which involved all the referees refusing to officiate it because Triple H always destroyed them like the time he ended Tim White’s career back at Judgement Day 2002.

This led to Mick Foley being introduced as the special referee because he was the only person crazy enough to do it.

This led to a big brawl between HHH and Foley because apparently, that was more interesting than anything The Game was doing with Nash.

I can see why people may have written this match off because the first half was pretty tedious.

Eventually, however, it picked up and became a compelling blood match for the ages.

That’s exactly what I liked about this one.

Unlike other Hell in a Cell encounters, it didn’t rely on huge stunts and insane spots.

It just involved the champ and challenger beating each other -and the referee- to a bloody pulp.

It was captivating, it was compelling, and it was brutally entertaining.

By the end, all three men (yes, Foley included) looked like they’d been involved in a car wreck and it was kind of a miracle that a battered and bloody HHH was able to hit the match-winning pedigree.
Your Winner and Still World Heavyweight Champion: Triple H

Post-match, The Game’s Evolution buddies Ric Flair and Randy Orton came down to help the lifeless Champion out of the ring as Badd Blood 2003 went off the air.

This show wasn’t as bad as some people might have you believe but it wasn’t that great either.

The Redneck Triathlon stuff started humorously enough but soon descended into a never-ending dumbness that was beneath both men. Honestly, I’m a fan of both Austin and Bischoff, but what they gave us here was embarrassingly painful.

Match-wise, only the blood-soaked main event and the HBK/Flair match really stood out, with the latter earning match of the night honours.

If you’re going to watch this show, maybe don’t set your expectations too high but be sure to enjoy the last two matches.

Other 2003 pro wrestling reviews: 

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Monday, 27 June 2022

EVENT REVIEW: WWF The Big Event (1986)

WWF The Big Event - Event Graphic

August 28, 1986,
Exhibition Stadium, Toronto, Ontario

Although currently classed as a PPV (sorry, Premium Live Event) on the WWE Network, WWF's The Big Event was never broadcast on Pay Per View, or anywhere else for that matter other than the fondly-remembered Coliseum Home Video.

Despite that, it was a phenomenal success for the World Wrestling Federation, attracting some 65,000 fans to the Torono Exhibition Stadium for a world title main event between reigning champion, Hulk Hogan, and his arch-nemesis, Paul Orndoff.

Here's what went down:

Welcome to Toronto!

Our show tonight began with a helicopter’s eye view of Toronto with Mean Gene Okerlund giving a voiceover in which he pretended to be on the actual helicopter.

C’mon Gene, your fooling nobody with that one.

As the ‘copter flew across the city and random shots of tonight’s stats were intercut, Okerlund told us how amazing Toronto was before putting over tonight’s big matches.

The wrestling clips from this intro were clearly from the event itself and the first thing you notice is just how loud and crazy the crowds were.

WWE may be more profitable than ever these days, but you can’t help but wonder if the part of Vince McMahon that still cares about his product doesn’t pine for the days when he could pack an arena full of fans who were genuinely this enthusiastic.

Hoss & Jimmy Jack Funk (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. The Killer Bees (Jumpin" Jim Brunzell & B. Brian Blair)

With the intro, we cut straight to our opening contest with both The Funks and The Killer Bees already in the ring and the trio of Gorilla Monsoon, Big Cat Ernie Ladd, an Lucious Johnny Valiant on commentary.

The match was -I kid you not- fantastic.

OK, so if you compared it to a modern day Bryan Danielson classic it probably doesn’t seem all that fantastic, but it was way better than I expected for a 1986 WWF show.

The Killer Bees clearly brought their working boots and kept up a relentless pace, so relentless that there wasn’t a single moment when I could pause to grab a half-decent screenshot because everybody just kept moving.

Meanwhile, The Funks proved to be the perfect heels for the match, countering B. Brian Blair & ‘Jumpin’ Jim Brunzel’s fast-paced technical style with underhand tactics and general bad guy shenanigans.

It was a lot of fun.

In the end, the ‘Bees decided to confuse both their opponents and the referee by donning masks so that nobody could tell who was who.

The confusion allowed Blair & Brunzel to pick up the win.
Your Winners: The Killer Bees

That whole mask gimmick seemed like something heels would do, the crowd were so vocally into The Killer Bees that it was met with roaring approval.

King Tonga vs. The Magnificent Muraco (w/ Mr. Fuji)

WWF The Big Event Review - Magnificent Murraco vs. Haku

King Tonga was, of course, a svelte and youthful Haku and he was booed by the Toronto crowd just as loudly as his opponent, Magnificent Muraco, which makes it impossible for this writer to tell if Tonga was a heel or a face here.

The match went to a full 20-minute time limit draw but it was heavily clipped so we didn’t see the whole thing.

The heavy editing job was welcome here because this was far from the most exciting match you’ll ever see.

The parts we were shown were mainly rest holds and Muraco slowly, methodically working Tonga’s legs.

I’m not prepared to say that it was awful because it was very much a match of it’s time period, but you do have to question how boring this match really was if all the highlights were so uninspired.
Time-Limit Draw

Moving on…

Ted Arcidi vs. Tony Garea

WWF The Big Event Review - Ted Arcidi

This wasn’t a good match. The crowd didn’t care about it at all and spent half their time looking at something elsewhere in the arena while Tony Garea clearly did his best to make Ted Arcidi look good but failed.

After less than three minutes (at least as it was shown here) Arcidi took Garea out with a bear hug.

To be fair, that finish was at least funny.

To really sync the hold in, Arcidi bounced up and down with Garea in the bear hug so the referee started bouncing up and down with them and it looked like all three were having a fun time.

At least they were because I’m sure nobody who watched this match had fun.
Your Winner: Ted Arcidi

WWF The Big Event Review - Mean Gene Okerlund interiews Jimmy Hart

Out on the arena floor, Mean Gene interviewed Jimmy Hart.

Hart began to rant about all the terrible things The Junkyard Dog had done to him and swore that he’d get revenge tonight.

Before he could go any further, Hart was dragged away by the man who would get that revenge for him, Adorable Adrian Adonis.

Adorable Adrian Adonis (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. The Junkyard Dog

WWF The Big Event Review - Adorable Adrian Adonis with  Jimmy Hart

I appreciate this may be blasphemy to some, but I’ve never really understood why Junkyard Dog is held in such high regard.

In all the years that I’ve been watching pro wrestling, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him in a good match.

Of course, it didn’t help that Adonis was his opponent tonight.

Now fully into the flamboyant, gender-bending ‘adorable’ character, Adrian had really let himself go by this stage in his career and couldn’t seem to wrestle a decent match if his life depended on it.

In fact, this match tonight was only a few months removed from his horrible Wrestlemania 2 match against Uncle Elmer which for years had been the worst match I’ve ever seen in my life until I recently watched the scaffold match from WCW Great American Bash ‘91.

Anyway, not only was this match not great from a wrestling standpoint, it made absolutely no sense.

Early on, JYD blatantly pummelled Adonis with his steel chain right in front of the referee who let it slide.

Then, Junkyard (who was the babyface, remember) grabbed the same referee and threw him across the ring in what I’d describe as a pretty unprovoked attack.

Instead of calling for the DQ, the ref simply let it slide and the match continued.

The two combatants then brawled to the floor and barely beat the referee’s ten count.

Once back in the ring, JYD threw Adonis back outside and the referee instantly called for the bell without bothering to give Adonis a ten count.
Your Winner via Some Bullshit Finish: Junkyard Dog

Seriously, what the heck was that?

That was either the worst case of biased officiating ever seen in favour of a babyface or that idiot referee had never seen a pro wrestling match before in his life.

Dick Slater vs. Iron Mike Sharpe

WWF The Big Event Review - Dick Slater Haters Are Greater

Dick Slater wasn’t dirty yet and that made him the babyface here while Iron Mike
Sharpe was a heel whose loud, vocal selling really made this entire match.

The version shown on the WWE Network wasn’t very long and the action itself was decent but forgettable, though Iron Mike’s constant backing off and loud “no! No! No!” Yells every time Slater came near him made this a pretty fun match.

Slater won with an elbow from the top rope to Iron Mike’s head.
Your Winner: Dick Slater

WWF The Big Event Review - Mean Gene interviews Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan

Back on the arena floor, the ever-entertaining Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan spoke to Mean Gene about his involvement in our next match.

Heenan was, just as you’d expect, excellent at riling up the crowd here.

The Machines (uper Machine, Big Machine & Captain Lou Albano w/ Giant Machine) vs. King Kong Bundy, Big John Studd and Bobby Heenan)

WWF The Big Event Review - The Machines

For those unfamiliar with The Machines, the story goes thusly:

Andre The Giant was in a feud with Bobby Heenan and his crew. Giant no-showed a match which led to Heenan calling for his suspension.

The storyline suspension was granted, which gave Andre the chance to take time off to rehab an injury and film The Princess Bride.

When he returned, the suspension was still in place, so Andre did the whole “masked guy who’s real identity is obvious” ala The Midnight Rider, The Yellow Dog, Mr. America etc and called himself The Giant Machine.

Captain Lou Albano had then recruited two other masked machines who were better known as Bill Eadie and Blackjack Lanza, and thus we got tonight’s match.

Though this was far from a technical masterpiece, the crowd were hot for it and the competitors did their best to keep them hot, which made for entertaining viewing.

After a decent big man match, all hell inevitably broke loose and Giant Machine -who wasn’t officially involved in the match- stormed in and attacked, causing the referee to call for the bell.
Your Winners via DQ: Bobby Heenan, Big John Studd, and King Kong Bundy.

Post match, Andre beat up Heenan who sold like an absolute hero.

Howard Finkle then announced the heels as the winners by disqualification and the babyfaces looked absolutely shocked, as if they didn’t know that having an illegal man come in the ring and attack would lead to a DQ.

Maybe they were hoping they’d have the same dumb ass official from the JYD/Adonis match and expected a different outcome.

Snake Pit Match
Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts vs. Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat

A snake pit match was basically a no-DQ, anything does match.

WWF The Big Event Review - Jake 'The Snake' Roberts vs. Ricky 'The Dragon' Steamboat

To the surprise of no one, this was the best match on the card so far by a country mile.

The two wrestled, they brawled, Ricky Steamboat got busted open, and Jake Roberts was so good that the crowd seemed to love him despite him being a sinister heel.

After an excellent battle, Roberts had Steamboat beaten down and battered into a bloody mess, but The Dragon caught him off guard with a roll-up at the last second and snatched victory from the proverbial jaws of defeat.
Your Winner: Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat

That was good.

Billy Jack Haynes vs. Hercules Hernandez

It’s interesting seeing Billy Jack Haynes looking so well put together here when I’ve been far more used to seeing him lately as the portly Black Blood at events like Clash of the Champions 15 five years after The Big Event took place.

As the two locked up, it became obvious that Gorilla Monsoon was calling this match solo, and was doing so from a studio rather than an arena. 

Gorilla explained the jarring change in commentary by claiming that his colleagues Johnny Valiant and Ernie Ladd had gone out to buy groceries.

Because, you know, what a normal thing to do while you're in the middle of calling a wrestling show.

Nothing really happened in this match, so a clearly bored Monsoon went through the motions and spent as much time bigging up the magnitude of the event as he did calling what little action there was to call.
Your Winner: Billy Jack Haynes

The Rougeau Brothers (Jacques & Raymond) vs. The Dream Team (Brutus Beefcake & Greg Valentine)

I’m very much one of those people who believes that opposing wrestlers shouldn’t wear the same attire, but apparently, Greg Valentine wasn’t.

He wore the exact same trunks as his opponent which looked kind of dumb and occasionally gave the impression that he was on their team.

Having returned from his grocery shopping, Valentine and Brutus Beefcake’s manager, Johnny Valiant cheered them on as they gradually picked apart The Rougeau Brothers and gave us a solid, formulaic tag team match.

I don’t mean “formulaic” in the bad sense either.

The standard tag team match formula has worked for decades, and it certainly worked here, giving us a match that may have been the best thing on the card had we not seen the Roberts/Steamboat match.

As a side note, I love the way Gorilla Monsoon consistently referred to Raymond Rougeau as “Ray-moan.”

Speaking of The Rougeaus, as good as The Dream Team were at being the aggressors, Ray-Moan and brother Jacques were effective as the popular babyfaces.

That said, they were obviously much better as heels, if only because their heel run gave us one of the greatest pro wrestling themes of all time.

After a well-fought match, The Rougeuas emerged victorious thanks to a sunset flip by Jacques.
Your Winners: The Rougeau Brothers

And on we go..

Harley Race vs. Pedro Morales

We joined this match in progress and I’ve read some pretty poor reviews of it, but I honestly didn’t think it was that bad.

Clocking in at a little under four minutes, it was obviously designed to give space between the excellent tag match and the main event, and it served its purpose well.

After a few short minutes of decent but unremarkable action, Handsome Harley Race got the win with his foot on the ropes.
Your Winner: Harley Race

Post-match, the crowds chanted loudly. I thought they were changing “Hogan!” But Monsoon said they were letting it be known what they thought of the match which may mean they were actually chanting “Bullsh*t!”

World Wrestling Federation Championship
WWF Champion Hulk Hogan vs. Mr. Wonderful Paul Orndorff

WWF The Big Event Review - Paul Orndorff thinks he's the champion!

This was a good Hogan-style main event with Paul Orndorff getting the best out of the reigning champion.

This was the match that had sold out the venue to capacity, so it was no surprise that the crowd were red hot for it, and that level of pure excitement helped to elevate this one to something special.

After a good 80s-era WWF main event match, Paul Orndorff got disqualified when his manager, Bobby Heenan, struck Hogan with a chair.
Your Winner via DQ and Still WWF Champion: Hulk Hogan

Afterwards, Heenan put the belt on Mr. Wonderful who proceeded to attack Hogan, only for the champion to make his big comeback to send the crowd home happy.

The Big Event was big in stature but not so big on quality wrestling.

I can’t remember the last time I watched a wrestling event with such a large audience of fans who were so rabidly enthusiastic and genuinely excited to be there.

Yes, I know Wrestlemania is a humongous event these days, but while it may match tonight’s event in terms of the crowd it draws, modern day Mania pales in comparison to The Big Event in terms of a lively, impassioned crowd.

Still, the match quality wasn’t great. Although I personally enjoyed the opening match much more than many other reviewers seem to, and although the main event was good for a Hulk Hogan title defence, only Dragon/Snake and the Dream Team/Rouegaus matches stood out as being particularly excellent from a pure wrestling standpoint.

Not the greatest show of all time then, but certainly one I’m glad I watched.

Monday, 13 June 2022

EVENT REVIEW: WCW Clash of the Champions XVI - Fall Brawl '91

WCW Clash of the Champions XV - Event Logo

September 5, 1991 
Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center, Augusta, Georgia

WCW Clash of the Champions XVI - Fall Brawl '91 was not only the last of the four Clash events with the Fall Brawl subtitle (I haven't reviewed the other three yet), but it was also the last Clash event to have any subtitle at all.

After this, all Clash shows outside of the 20th-anniversary event would be given a number only, while the Fall Brawl name would eventually return in 1993 for the company's fall PPV. 

Tonight's event would see the finals of a tag team title tournament to find new champions after the previous titleholders, The Steiner Brothers, were forced to vacate the titles due to an injury to Scott Steiner. 

Scott's brother, Rick, had managed to make it to the finals with a temporary partner in 'World's Strongest Man' Bill Kazmaier, but would the new duo be able to replicate The Dog Faced Gremlin's success with his brother, or would the relatively new team of The Enforcers (Arn Anderson & Barry Windham) prevail?

Let's head down to Augusta, Georgia, to find out. 

Welcome to Fall Brawl

Our show tonight began with an opening video which was decent by WCW standards.

WCW Clash of the Champions XV - Tony Schiavone and Jim Ross called all the action

The video highlighted some of the main matches including a battle royal, the finals of the tag team tournament and an appearance from world champion Lex Luger.

If you somehow missed that, don’t worry because as Jim Ross and Tony Schiavone opened the show, they ran down the card once again.

The now-current AEW announcers then sent it to their colleagues Eric Bischoff, Paul E. Dangerously, and Missy Hyatt, who aimed to get us excited by telling us that Missy would be interviewing the world champion while Dangerously would be speaking to his upcoming challenger Ron Simmons later on in the show.

WCW Clash of the Champions XV - Eric Bischoff with Paul E. Dangerously & Missy Hyatt

I might have missed something, but they really made it sound like that match was happening tonight. I was a good solid hour into this show before I realised Simmons vs. Luger wasn’t until Halloween Havoc and had to come back to rewrite this part of the review.

With all that done, it was on to our opening contest.

Georgia Brawl Battle Royal

Featuring: The Z-Man, Thomas Rich, Beautiful Bobby Eaton, Ranger Ross, Tracy Smothers, The Incredible Oz, Rapmaster PN News, Sgt. Buddy Lee Parker, Stunning Steve Austin (w/ Lady Blossom), The Natural Dustin Rhodes, Terrance Taylor, Big Josh, Barry Windham, One Man Gang, El Gigante

WCW Clash of the Champions XV - Battle Royal

As early 90s mid-card battle royals go, this one wasn’t bad.

The match went the better part of five minutes before a single-elimination, at which point Big Josh impressed everybody by skinning the cat and bringing Terrance Taylor out with a head scissors.

Unfortunately, Josh couldn’t hang on and also crashed to the floor. Somehow, Ranger Ross got caught up in it all and was eliminated too.

The eliminations started coming thick and fast then until it was down to Oz, One Man Gang, El Gigante, and Dustin Rhodes.

Just when you got worried that Dusty’s son was going to win in the same the way he’d won every Clash and PPV match since January, Oz dumped him on the outside.

El Gigante then clotheslined both Oz and One Man Gang but was so ineffective that Nash visibly had to jump over the top rope and eliminate himself.
Your Winner: El Gigante

Honestly, I have no problem with that outcome. George Gonzales may not have been a very good wrestler, but it’s totally believable to have the biggest man in a battle royal win the whole thing.

After a quick plug for the WCW Hotline, it was back to the action.

Light Heavyweight Championship Tournament Semi-Final
Badstreet vs. Flyin’ Brian Pillman

Badstreet came down with The Fabulous Freebirds but they got sent to the back before the match began.

Meanwhile, Flyin’ Brian had been reinstated after the whole Yellow Dog thing went nowhere.

WCW Clash of the Champions XV - Brian Pillman vs. Badstreet

The two men were given a decent amount of time to show what they could do and absolutely made the most of it, giving us a fast-paced match with a few exciting big spots and a couple of ugly ones too.

At one point, Badstreet suplexed Pillman to the outside, but Brian either tried to reverse into a neck breaker or just didn’t take the bump properly because it looked like he almost snapped his opponent’s neck off on the way down.

Later, Flyin’ Brian dove at Badstreet on the outside but overshot me crashed face first into the guard rail.

Not long after, Pillman won this enjoyable match with a sweet crossbody from the top.
Your Winner: Brian Pillman (advances to the finals)

Before the break, the announcers ran down the WCW Top 10 rankings which put Beautiful Bobby at number ten, but placed tonight’s world title contender Ron Simmons at number two behind US champion Sting.

Speaking of the Stinger, the champ would be in action next.

United States Champion Sting vs. Johnny B. Badd (w/ Theodore Long)

WCW Clash of the Champions XV - Sting vs. Johnny B. Badd

Sting had been receiving some mystery gifts as of late, including one that was Abdullah The Butcher and his massive man boobs who came to attack the US champ.

Looking to forget about all that for now, Sting locked up with Johnny B. Badd in a match that was far more entertaining than some other reviewers have given it credit for.

What I liked about this was that, despite being the heel, Badd didn’t resort to shady tactics here.

He simply held his own against Sting and gave a fine account of himself, at least until a mystery package appeared at the entranceway.

At that point, both men just stopped and looked at it before agreeing to continue, at which point Sting immediately scored the win with a roll-up.
Your Winner: Sting

I don’t understand why the US title couldn’t have been on the line if Badd was going to be made to look so strong and Sting was going to win anyway.

It didn’t matter because as soon as the bell rang, Cactus Jack burst out of the package and attacked Sting before throwing him to the outside and hitting him with a wicked top rope elbow.

WCW being WCW, the cameraman missed the shot of Jack bursting from the package.

Light Heavyweight Title Tournament Semi-Final 2
Mike Graham vs. Richard Morton (w/ Alexandra York)

Wow, Mike Graham. WCW had really gone out of their way to bring in some major names for this tournament.

I actually have no problem with Graham, but Richard Morton was overwhelmingly boring as a heel.

His match at Great American Bash ‘91 with his former partner Robert Gibson was one of the most tedious things I’ve ever witnessed, and this sadly wasn’t much better.

This wasn’t awful of anything, it was just completely void of heat or even anything marginally exciting.

Much as I did with the aforementioned Gibson match, I completely zoned out here and almost missed Morton getting the roll-up for the three count.
Your Winner: Richard Morton

After a commercial break, Jim Ross shilled WCW magazine before showing us Bill Kazmaier in the Guinness Book of Records:

WCW Clash of the Champions XV - Big Bad Bill Kazmaier

Kazmaier was set to attempt a new world record here tonight and came down to the ring with a bunch of ring crew workers carrying a huge inflatable globe to make sure that everybody knew he was ‘The Strongest Man in the World.’

Big Bill then bent a steel bar around his head but was immediately attacked by his upcoming opponents Arn Anderson and Larry Zybysko.

That was, happened I suppose.

Non-Title Match
WCW United States Tag Team Champions The Fabulous Freebirds (Michael ‘P.S’ Hayes & Jimmy Jam Garvin vs. The Patriots (Todd Champion & Firebreaker Chip)

Ah yes, here we have Todd Champion and Firebreaker Chip representing ‘ WCW Special Forces’ and hailing from the super-specific location of “USA.”

I love the idea of WCW Special Forces, that all these star wrestlers had side gigs saving and protecting the United States, though I do wonder who else they had working for them.

El Gigante rescuing cats who got stuck in trees?

Sting working double duty as a policeman?

Maybe that time Dr: Death Steve Williams rode around in an ambulance back at Clash of the Champions X wasn’t a dumb skit after all but an honest-to-goodness look at his work as a member of WCW Special Forces?

Anyway, here Champion and Chip locked up with The Fabulous Freebirds in a match that wasn’t very good but which nonetheless popped the live audience.

Hayes & Garvin won, which would have been fine except this was a non-title match and the two teams were already being advertised as facing each other again for the titles in a few days time.

This left me with some questions:

1: Again, if you’re going to have the champions win, why not make it a title match?

2: If you’re going to have The Patriots lose, why should anybody believe they were worthy of a title shot literally days after this?

3: If you were going to have the babyfaces win the titles so soon after, why not just do it here to make both the win and this event seem like a bigger deal?

I don’t know the answer to any of those questions, I just know I’m happy to see The Fabulous Freebirds fighting anybody other than The Young Pistols.
Your Winners: The Fabulous Freebirds

After the break, Paul E. interviewed Cactus Jack in the middle of the ring.

WCW Clash of the Champions XV - Paul E. interviews Cactus Jack

Just as Cactus was telling us that Sting’s career was over, a large box identical to the one he’d bust out of earlier was wheeled out towards the ring.

Assuming it was his “business partner” Abdullah The Butcher coming to greet him, The mad man from Truth or Consequences went over to give him a hug, only for Sting to burst out of the box and attack.

This led to a wild and hugely enjoyable brawl.

I’d assumed this set the stage for their now-famous street fight, but apparently, we still had nearly a full year to go before we’d see that one.

Ron Simmons Used to Play Football

Did you know that Ron Simmons’ jersey was retired at Florida State?

What a silly question, of course you did. How could you not?

Jim Ross mentioned it literally every single time Simmons wrestled for the rest of his career.

Anyway, before Simmons came out to compete, we saw a video clip of the actual retirement ceremony followed by a word from his former coach in which he said it didn’t surprise him to see Big Ron competing for the world championship in wrestling.

Ron Simmons vs. The Diamond Studd

Of course, Simmons wasn’t competing for the world championship, at least not yet anyway.

Instead, he was facing The Diamond Studd who was apparently no longer with DDP and who came out yelling “I’m the Bad Guy!” to the camera.

You know, I’d always heard how The Studd Character was the blueprint for Razor Ramon, but it wasn’t until I started watching these early 90s WCW shows that I realise how much of the Razor character Scott Hall already had down before he went to the land of Titan Sports.

His match here with the man whose jersey was retired at Florida State Was decent enough, but it didn’t last long and saw Simmons treat Studd like a jobber, steamrolling over his opponent in about two minutes.

I get that Simmons needed to look strong heading into his clash with Luger, but it’s disappointing that this match wasn’t more competitive.
Your Winner: Ron Simmons

As advertised at the start of the show, the post-match gave us Paul E.‘s promised interview with our man Ron.

WCW Clash of the Champions XV - Ron Simmons cuts a promo on Lex Luger

Simmons cut a decent babyface promo talking about making dreams come true and how any one of us could make our dreams a reality just like he had.

He then turned his attention to Luger’s entourage of mentor Harley Race and Mr. Hughes.

Ron called the two men out and said he was happy to give them what for, but when Race and Hughes did come out, he changed his mind, claiming that he was tired of looking at them and was going to go and find The Total Package.

Way to backtrack, Big Ron.

Terrance Taylor (w/ Alexandra York) vs. Heavy Metal

WCW Clash of the Champions XV - Van Hammer

This was Van Hammer’s WCW debut. 

He demolished Terrance Taylor and squashed him in under forty seconds. It wasn’t much to write home about which, as you can imagine, makes my job difficult as a guy who literally writes about wrestling.

Instead, I’ll mention that I only just learned today that some people thought Van Hammer was a repackaged Ultimate Warrior due to the fact that the two looked vaguely -and I mean really vaguely- similar.

WCW had apparently done nothing to discourage that and even had Hammer acting all wild and shaking the ring ropes ala the late Mr. Hellwig.

Of course, Hammer wasn’t Warrior, he was a big, tall muscular guy who, as he made his way out, pointed a Flying V guitar at some clearly visible pyro rigs which exploded when pointed at.

I assume we were supposed to believe Hammer was shooting fire out of his guitar or something, but when you could see the pyro all laid out and ready to go, it kind of ruined the illusion.

Anyway, Hammer seemed to have the look and a tremendous presence about him, but sadly not much else.
Your Winner: Van Hammer

Out in the locker room, Missy Hyatt looked forward to getting an interview with Lex Luger, but before she could, Ron Simmons ever-so-politely knocked on Luger’s dressing room door and then walked in wanting to confront the champion.

Luger was in no mood to talk and shoved Simmons out, closing the door behind him.

Making sure that none of us could possibly forget that he used to play football, Ron got down in a three-point stance and then barged into the room.

He was immediately followed by a gaggle of babyfaces who were to break it up.

There was no need for him to barge in when he could just as easily have walked through the door again, but I guess that doesn’t make for very exciting TV.

World Championship Wrestling World Television Champion
WCW TV Champion Stunning Steve Austin (w/ Lady Blossom) vs. The Z-Man.

WCW Clash of the Champions XV - Stunning Steve Austin w/ Lady Blossom

After a few lacklustre contests, things finally picked up with a decent effort between reigning champion Stunning Steve Austin and his challenger, The Z-Man.

Though not the best match in the world, the emphasis on actual solid mat wrestling and well-put-together spots made this one of the better matches on the card.

After a good showing from both men, Lady Blossom slipped her man some brass knuckles which he used to retain the title.
Your Winner and Still TV Champion: Stunning Steve Austin

Up next, we were supposed to get the contract signing between Lex Luger and Ron Simmons but apparently, Luger wasn’t quite ready.

WCW Clash of the Champions XV - Lex Luger and Harley Race

That was convenient really, as it gave WCW an opportunity to roll some footage of Simmons being a super babyface by giving a motivational speech to The Boys Club of Atlanta then taking two school busses full of kids to see him wrestle at the Omni.

When Luger was finally ready, he offered Simmons a job as his limo driver after beating him at the PPV.

I’m not saying that was racist, but I do wonder if that same line would’ve been used if Simmons weren’t a black man, especially since the only other time the “limo driver” angle had been used in recent years was when Ron’s former manager Teddy Long had to be Ric Flair’s limo driver if Doom lost to The Four Horsemen.

Anyway, Ron didn’t take too kindly to that so attacked Luger who then ran away and sped off in a limo.

World Championship Wrestling World Tag Team Championship Tournament Final
Rick Steiner & Bill Kazmier vs. The Enforcers (Arn Anderson & Larry Zybysko)

WCW Clash of the Champions XV - WCW World Tag Team Championship

This was a decent match which, like a lot of Clash contests, didn’t really last very long.

With Kazmier still hurting from the earlier attack, Rick Steiner tried to pick up the slack for his team only to find himself double-teamed and beaten down by The Enforcers.

Predictably, Kazmier finally made the hot tag. Well, I say ‘hot,’ nobody seemed to care so it was more like a slightly lukewarm tag.

He tribes to overpower the dastardly heels but his ribs gave out Zybysko and Anderson quickly overcame him to become our new tag champs.
Your Winners and New WCW World Tag Team Champions: The Enforcers

Post match; the show closed with a compelling promo as The Enforcers boasted that “two plain old wrestlers” had overcome The World’s Strongest Man and a college graduate.

WCW Clash of the Champions XV - Jim Ross and Tony Schiavone interview Arn Anderson and Larry Zybysko

This was a strong way to end a rather mixed bag of a show.

Clash of the Champions shows were rarely known for being excellent, but this one did at least try.

After kicking off with an inoffensive battle royal, the Pillman/Badstreet and Sting/Badd matches were both high quality, but the show pretty much fell off a cliff somewhere around the hour mark and didn’t really get it together again until the end promo from Anderson & Zybysko.

Not that it mattered, this one was clearly designed to get Ron Simmons over. Indeed, if this was a modern day show, fans would accuse WCW of “shoving him down our throats” (a phrase which always seems to overlook the fact that nobody forces us to watch pro wrestling and we can always just turn it off if we’re not enjoying it) as Simmons himself and his upcoming title match were the real focal point.

We’d see Ron -along with the contractually-obliged mention of his jersey being retired at Florida State- at Halloween Havoc ‘91.

Other 1991 pro wrestling reviews: 

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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.