Welcome to In Your Head! Wrestling podcast, news and community!
Welcome to In Your Head! Wrestling podcast, news and community!
by "Playboy" Don Douglas
I actually missed this show when it originally aired. By that point, I simply didn't have access to PPV. Living in a rural area in 1993, the only TV options we had were an outside antenna, which actually didn't pick up anything where I lived, and the outdated huge satellite dishes, which picked up affiliates from CBS and NBC, and FX. That's it. And we had to walk outside and crank the dish by hand while someone in the house yelled "Stop!" or "Go back!" Yeah, yeah, I know: "And you had to walk 5 miles everyday to school, in the snow, barefoot." Well, for your information, the school was practically in my backyard, I had shoes, and at the first hint of snow, school usually gets cancelled around here. Too many mountain roads with curves and no guard rails. Anyway, you now see that I'm not just a bitter old school wrestling fan at 28, I'm a bitter old man at 28.
Speaking of old school wrestling, that's the theme of this show. That's one of the things that appealed to me. True, most of the legends featured here were before my time, but that never stopped me from being interested. Between the wrestling fans in my family and the magazines, I'd heard of most of these guys and knew the rest must be something special too. This show also had something else going for it: the return of original Four Horsemen. If you don't know by now, that didn't exactly go as planned. You'll see what I mean. With that, let's get started, shall we?
Sunday, May 23, 1993. The Omni, Atlanta, GA.
This DVD actually starts with the old Viewer's Choice logo.
That brings back a ton of memories. We get a 30 minute pre-show, and the one and only Gordon Solie is in the control center. He throws to Michael Hayes outside the arena. He gives a rundown on the legends and is waiting for them. He specifically mentions the NWA and the AWA. Someone off camera apparently tells him he's in the wrong spot, and he throws back to Gordon, who throws us to a video package.
Scheduled to appear (though not all are wrestling) are Baron Von Raschke, Bill Dundee, Blackjack Mulligan, Bob Geigel, Bugsy McGraw, Dick Murdoch, Dory Funk Jr., Dusty Rhodes, Fabulous Moolah (that's a bit of a surprise), Gene Kiniski, Greg Gagne, Grizzly Smith, Harley Race, Ivan Koloff, Hiro Matsuda, Joe Blanchard, Johnny Valentine, Jim Brunzell, Lord James Blears, Lou Thesz, Mad Dog Vachon, Don Muraco, Magnum TA, Mike Graham (wonder if he'll take credit for putting this show together), Mr. Wrestling II, Nick Bockwinkel, Ole Anderson, Ox Baker, The Assassin, The Crusher, "Golden Greek" John Tolos, Thunderbolt Patterson, Verne Gagne, and Wahoo McDaniel. Damn, what a lineup.
The WCW world title will be on the line when Davey Boy Smith challenges Big Van Vader.
Arn Anderson challenges Barry Windham for the NWA world title.
In a "lights out cage match," the unified tag titles are at stake as the Hollywood Blondes (Pillman and Austin, not Buddy Roberts and Jerry Brown)
(Hey, on this show, it's important to make it clear) take on former champs Ricky Steamboat and Shane Douglas.
Sting takes on Scott Norton
Dustin Rhodes and Kensuke Sasaki (that's an odd team) take on Paul Orndorff and Rick Rude (which is a hell of a team)
Too Cold Scorpio and Marcus Bagwell take on Chris Benoit and Bobby Eaton. Damn, that could have been an interesting team.
Ric Flair hosts "A Flair For the Gold" with a special guest. That's certainly an interesting way to put it.
Back in the control center, Gordon tells us the wrestling world is speculating about the return of the original Four Horsemen and mentions them all by name, adding that Barry Windham later joined the group with success. He tells us that the close bond among the Horsemen has been different lately.
We get clips of Windham winning the NWA title, and Flair coming into the ring to put the big gold belt around his waist. Windham is having none of it. We get a promo from Arn Anderson, who isn't happy about Barry's snub. As you'd expect, it's a great promo, and Arn challenges him for the belt.
Barry responds, for some reason surrounded by mid card babyfaces. He wants someone to go get Arn, but Arn is behind him. They get in the ring, but Arn quickly chases him away.
Gordon hypes the show and tells us to buy, before throwing to Hayes, asking if there's any indication that the original Horsemen will be getting back together. Hayes says it would be huge, like the Beatles getting back together, but he hasn't seen anything yet. He then sees four literal horses and says he may be on to something. That's a bit of a reach.
Gordon tells us he'll be back with more, and we get some trivia: Name the famous wrestling legend whose son is the current NWA champion. Since Barry Windham was champ, the answer of course is Blackjack Mulligan.
A video package runs down the top matches on the card and shows some legends, including Jesse Ventura and Jimmy Snuka.
Gordon is back, and begins talking about Vader vs. Davey Boy and we get some highlights of Vader. I somehow always forget how brutal he was until I see him again. He beats the piss out of some jobbers and Gordon tells us that Cactus Jack has recently fell victim to the champion, and throws us to a pre-taped promo from Davey Boy Smith, who is standing outside a building with a few fans behind him and wearing an absolutely re-damn-diculous shirt. I don't know how to begin to describe that thing. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so let's see if one helps.
He claims to have talked to Cactus on the phone last night (there's a conversation I'd like to hear) and he's in real bad shape. He says he promised Jack that he'd hurt Vader bad on May 23rd and take the title.
Vader (with Harley Race) responds that he's the man standing on top of the world and Davey better be ready for blood and to go to war. Harley stands by looking smug. Gordon questions if Davey had bitten off more than he can chew, if he can withstand the powerbomb and take the title.
Another trivia question, but it's an incredibly lazy one. Another hype video is shown.
Gordon is back to talk about the unified tag title match. We get highlights of the Blondes taking the titles from Steamboat and Douglas, but Gordon tells us the former champs have requested a cage match. Steamboat and Douglas give us a pretty good babyface promo. I think this was actually about the only time I really gave a damn about Shane Douglas, but to his credit, it wasn't just because he was teamed with Steamboat. The champions reply, and Pillman tells us the cage match is barbaric, and is shocked that Steamboat considers himself a family man and they're supposed to be fan favorites. "Don't they know we have acting and modeling careers after this?" Austin isn't happy because they don't play football in cages, so they shouldn't have to wrestle in one, and this isn't about taking the titles, Steamboat and Douglas want to end their careers.
Gordon hypes the show and throws it to Hayes, who is still sitting outside the arena. He's in a different spot, but again gets told it's the wrong one, so he throws back to Gordon and heads off. How much do you want to bet it's too much effort for the eventual payoff?
Some of the same stuff from earlier is replayed. I'm not recapping it again and I'm sure you wouldn't want to read it again. If you do, you can just scroll up and do it. I will say this: I'm still not sure what the hell Davey Boy is wearing in that promo. I'm not normally one to get hung up on clothes, but that thing is frigging awful.
At some point, Michael Hayes is back outside and Dusty Rhodes walks right by him, but PS doesn't notice. Remember what I said earlier about the payoff?
Damn I miss Gordon Solie.
Looks like we're finally onto the show. We get an intro hyping the legends and the current stars.
The legends have filled the ring and the apron. Don Owen is even there. Our hosts are Tony Schiavone and Larry Zybysko. Zybysko puts over the legends that inspired him, saying time fears only the pyramids and the legends of wrestling. Tony informs us that Jesse Ventura is in the hospital. I would have enjoyed hearing Jesse on this one, but Larry does a fine job, and perhaps more subdued is the way to go for a show like this.
On the stage, Maxx Payne plays Norma Jean (his guitar) which looks like it has quite a few autographs on it. I don't really see much point in this, and I doubt the legends are digging the music. Suddenly, several wrestlers step out carrying a veiled throne. I recognize Chick Donovan and Ice Train/MI Smooth, and there's one other guy who looks familiar. Maybe Tommy Angel. As expected, they were bringing Moolah, who is met by Greg Gagne. Maxx is still playing.
We go to Bischoff and Missy Hyatt. Bischoff says he knows Missy has a lot of plans for this weekend. I'm sure she does. Bischoff informs us that Scott Norton, who had came to WCW demanding respect, had got the attention of The Prisoner (Nailz) and now it will be The Prisoner taking on Sting. That's a downgrade if I ever saw one. I was actually looking forward to Sting vs. Norton. Part way through this announcement, the lights on Eric and Missy go out and Missy gets a big smile on her face. Well, I'm sure she felt more at home.
I'm surprised things didn't get out of hand. You'd think with Missy's reputation and Eric's adventures at the Gold Club, it wouldn't take much to get them started.
I can hear it now: some Barry White playing in the background, and Missy saying, "Is that the mic in your hand, Eric, or are you happy to see me?"
They stand there like goofs for a few seconds until Eric points out the technical difficulty and they switch to a shot of the legends, who are beginning to file out of the ring. Eric - "Hey, we got the power back up!"
They talk about the WCW title match, and Missy stumbles through her part. She has the hots for the Hollywood Blondes (big surprise) and Eric tells her to settle down. He then tells us that in a battle of former champions, former NWA champ Dory Funk Jr. will face former AWA champion Nick Bockwinkel. HOLY SHIT. I want to see that. But it's time for the matches, so here we go.
Bobby Eaton & Chris Benoit vs Marcus Bagwell and Too Cold Scorpio
Benoit & Eaton are out first, to the old Midnight Express music. Bagwell and Scorpio are in and start dancing. Bagwell dancing is hilarious. I'm not sure how to best describe it.
Of course, a picture doesn't convey everything when it relates to movement, so the above can't give you the full story. Thankfully, a WCW camera man made my job a little easier by catching an Omni employee's reaction, which should help you form the full picture in your head.
Benoit and Scorpio start us out. Zybysko points out how beneficial it can be for someone like Benoit to team with someone like Bobby. Some good quick action has Scorpio gain the upper hand. Benoit takes a shot at Bagwell, and while the ref is distracted with him, Eaton comes in and nails Scorpio. Double team is foiled by Scorpio's speed and agility and the heels get sent to the outside. Bobby tags in and doesn't have any better luck with Bagwell. Another double team effort is foiled and the heels are once again on the floor. Zybysko and Schiavone speculate that Nick Patrick could have called for a DQ due to Eaton being backdropped over the top. Bagwell keeps the advantage until Benoit clubs him as he runs the ropes. With the ref distracted, Bobby tosses Buffy over the top rope. Tony lists some accomplishments of the legends. It's nice to be reminded of the time when Tony seemed to still care. Bobby hits a knee drop off the top and tags in Benoit. He roughs up Buff and makes a tag. The heels work at getting the ref out of position so they can work over Buff on the ropes. Benoit back in. The crowd starts trying to get behind Buff, so Benoit takes him down and works a hold near the corner, grabbing Bobby's hands for leverage. Patrick doesn't catch it, despite the pleas of Scorpio. Benoit goes for a splash from the top and Buff gets the knees up. Hot tag to Scorpio and then all four are in. Scorpio hits a splash off the top in which he turned 180 degrees in the air. Bobby breaks the pin, but Buff gets him out of the way. Scorpio goes up again and hits the Tumbleweed or whatever and plants his ass right on Benoit's face. Ow. Three count ends it.
Tony tells us that Colonel Robert Parker has been showing up on Saturday Night looking for talent. He ended up not being happy with Van Hammer, so Parker has a guy who will be wrestling Van Hammer next.
Hammer makes his way to the ring to not much of a response, though a few people are headbanging and one person even has a sign for him.
Colonel Rob Parker (Robert Fuller) makes his way to the ring to announce his man. Fuller is one of my all time favorites, and the Col. Parker bit was great.
Parker reminds Hammer that they had a disagreement and Hammer laid his hands on him. He reminds Hammer that he told him it was a mistake. He then has some people bring down a stretcher for Hammer. Rob finally announces his man: Sid Vicious. As always, Sid seems to get a decent response. Sid kills Hammer, powerbombs him, and pins him. The crowd loves it. Only problem is, he's supposed to be a heel. Of course, Sid always played to the cheers. That didn't take long.
Eric is joined by Red Bastein and Bugsy McGraw. Red says that seeing guys like Sid remind him that he's happy he retired. Bugsy acts goofy but also puts over Sid. He then tells Bischoff he's wearing too much makeup. Bastein says, "You wear it well, though." I love it.
Legends 6 man tag is next.
Dick Murdoch, Don Muraco, and Jimmy Snuka vs Chief Wahoo McDaniel, Blackjack Mulligan, and Jim Brunzell
Wahoo gets a great response. Brunzell and Snuka start off, and we see hammerlocks, drop toe holds, and arm bars. Mulligan tags in to a great response. He works the arm, but Murdoch reaches over the rope and grabs his hair. Dick tags in and they brawl. Mulligan hits some arm drags and Murdoch finds himself in the wrong corner. He gets out of it and takes over. Mulligan powers out of a pin attempt and Dick heads to the back, but Wahoo leads him back to the ring. Muraco tags in. They trade some headlocks but Wahoo takes over with a series of slams and Muraco bails to the corner. He lures Wahoo in and Murdoch and Snuka work him over in the corner. Murdoch tags in and Wahoo starts firing the chops but they pin him back in the corner. Mulligan makes a couple attempts at a save, but the ref sends him back. Wahoo finally tags in Brunzell who hits a dropkick. Not to be outdone, Murdoch hits a flying head scissors. Yes, Dick Murdoch hit a flying head scissors in '93.
Ask anyone in the know, they'll tell you Murdoch was one of the all time greats. Brunzell now getting the triple team in the corner. Brunzell makes a tag but the ref doesn't see it. Muraco accidentally nails Snuka, but they seem to let it go. Murdoch goes back to work. Murdoch whips him to the corner, climbs up behind him, and comes down with a knee in Brunzell's back. Muraco in, but doesn't stay long before tagging Snuka, who doesn't go long before missing a diving headbutt and nearly getting pinned in a small package. Snuka hits the ropes and accidentally nails Muraco. Muraco comes in and jaws, but he and Snuka both get rolled up. Mulligan nails Murdoch. The cover gets 2, and with four men brawling in the ring, the ref suddenly calls for a DQ. The crowd doesn't seem to like that at all. Snuka bounces off the top rope, flips to the floor, and catches his head on the announce table on the way down. Larry Z says, "There goes my monitor."
It amuses me that everyone but Murdoch seems to be just standing there watching Snuka slowly bounce to the floor. He got up holding the back of his head.
Mulligan gives Snuka a punch just to be sure, I guess.
Tony throws it to Missy Hyatt, who is standing by with the Assassin and Mad Dog Vachon. That sounds like the setup for a joke. Mad Dog tells us he became a legend for all his friends in Canada and all the Mad Dog fans. Missy turns to talk to Assassin, and Mad Dog grabs her arm and says he's not done yet.
He says he wishes he was in the ring because he'd show them that wrestling is a dog eat dog world. The Assassin addresses some comments he'd made toward Dusty Rhodes, stating that they'd had problems he never felt were settled, so he issues an open challenge to Dusty, any time, any where. The crowd pops for it. Missy blathers on for a bit while Dog looks crazy. Pretty sure Missy was afraid of him.
Ivan Koloff and Baron Von Raschke vs. Thunderbolt Patterson and Bob Armstrong
Thunderbolt gets a good pop, but comes out alone. Thunderbolt tells us Bob Armstrong has had an operation on his knee, but it doesn't make a difference to him, he'll kick both their asses. Ivan and Baron run down the Armstrong family as a bunch of cowards, which brings out Brad Armstrong. He says one Armstrong is hurt, but he's not, and he'll be proud to be Thunderbolt's partner any day. Patterson tells him to take his shirt off and let's kick some butt. Wild brawl breaks out and the heels bail. If you've never seen Thunderbolt before, know that a lot of people believe Dusty Rhodes owes a lot to him, perhaps outright ripping him off, but it's not a case of "if you've seen Dusty, you've seen Thunderbolt." The guy definitely had his own thing going on. Baron throws some chairs around and they finally get back in the ring. Thunderbolt has an odd way of moving about, and keeps slipping out of Baron's headlock attempts. They both make tags and Ivan takes down Brad. Tag to Baron and bit of double team. Tony and Larry talk about Ivan's win over Bruno in Madison Square Garden. Tony informs us Baron Von Raschke was crowned the first ever TV champion. He gets the claw on Brad, but Thunderbolt breaks it up. Von Raschke still had the look.
See what I mean?
Hot tag to Patterson and they clean house. Thunderbolt nails a double chop to the Baron's throat as he comes off the ropes and gets 3. And yes, the crowd pops. Short match, but fun.
Tony tells us that Flair is reforming the original Four Horsemen and throws it to A Flair For the Gold. This is not going to end well.
The voiceover guy tells us, "Tonight, the original Four Horsemen will be reunited!" They had to know by this point. They HAD to. Flair tells us this is a night we'll never forget. He got that right, but for the wrong reasons. He at least doesn't use the word original when he says it's the reunification of the Four Horsemen, instead saying, "With that comes some good news, and some bad news." No shit. Before getting to that, Flair brings out Fifi. Flair introduces the next NWA world champion, his best friend, the Enforcer, Arn Anderson. Arn comes out in a tux and acknowledges the ladies on the couch. He promos the match with Barry Windham. Flair tells us there's bad news, Windham's being a problem, and Blanchard's not showing up, but tells everyone not to get down. Ole is brought out and Flair keeps continuity by introducing him as "my cousin." Ole says he told Flair that Windham was trouble and now he's got to "that kid" Tully. Flair tells him to have a drink and points out the ladies. Which brings us to the new addition. I'm kind of dreading typing this, and I'm damn sure dreading watching it. I've had it paused for a bit, and I'm obviously stalling for time by typing so much. Time to man up and get it over with. Flair tells us it's time for the newest member of the Horsemen. He tries to put him over before telling us it's "Pretty" Paul Roma. The crowd sounds like they just smelled a fart. Flair says, "Keep screaming girls, don't be ashamed of it." More like "Start screaming, girls, I know it sucks, just work with me, damn it." Horrible. Who thought this was a good idea? Who thought this would work? I refuse to believe that this was the best thing they could come up with. I can understand if they wanted to keep Windham solo. But you're telling me the best they could do was Paul Roma? I need to take a break after that.
Something tells me we won't be seeing that on a poster at Fanfest.
Okay, I'm back. On with the show and all that.
We go to Tony and Larry who are joined by, in Tony's words, the greatest US champion ever, Johnny Valentine. You may or may not agree, but there's no doubt he was one of the best ever period. His voice is actually similar to Greg's. We're having the Funk-Bockwinkel match, NWA vs. AWA, coming up, but Tony plugs Beach Blast first.
Dory Funk Jr. w/ "Canada's Greatest Athlete" Gene Kiniski vs Nick Bockwinkel w/ Verne Gagne
I'm looking forward to this. Johnny tells us they wanted to wrestle for years and couldn't get together on it. A couple of lockups go nowhere as they keep escaping each other. Neither man can get an advantage. Dory goes for a leg dive, but Nick steps away. Funk gives a knee strike and forearm but Nick fires back and they back up. Funk hits the strikes again, Bockwinkel returns, Dory grabs a hammerlock and Nick reverses, taking him to the mat. Valentine tells us he wrestled Dory for 90 minutes. Damn. Funk gets Bock in the corner and hits the forearms before taking him down in a neck vice. Dory keeps cranking but Nick gets to his feet. Funk takes him back down but Nick grabs a headscissors. Funk tries to kick out but doesn't have much luck until finally doing a headstand and twisting out. Funk confers with Kiniski. Nick gets a standing armbar, but Funk slams out of it. Nick returns the favor and Funk takes a powder and confers with Kiniski. Tony brings up Johnny Valentine doing the old silver dollars gimmick and that no one ever collected. Nick takes an armbar, but Funk sends him to the ropes and nails the forearms. Cover, but Nick quickly gets a foot on the rop. Rear chinlock applied, and I'd like to show this to anyone doing the move today. It doesn't look like a "rest hold."
See, when both guys actually work the hold, neither looks like they're resting.
Back up and in the corner, Nick throws some forearms of his own and I love Funk's selling. Nick goes for a cover but Kiniski pulls Funk off. Things cool down and Funk gets a front facelock and takes Nick down, but Bockwinkel turns him over into a pin. Back on their feet, and Nick gets a double leg takedown. Tries for a Boston crab, but Funk powers out. Side headlock by Nick and a back suplex by Funk. Two count and Funk gets the standing armbar. Again, they're working the hold, something that could be learned today. Nick tries to pick the leg, but Funk takes him down and gets a surfboard. Back to their feet, each man tries for the advantage, but Funk wins out. Nick tries to twist it around again and finally does. Great facial expressions from Nick. Funk gets out of it and they face off. Side headlock by Nick and Funk fires the forearms to the midsection and then the head. Nick turns him around and returns fire. Snap mare and a cover for 2. Rear chinlock and there's no daylight there. Valentine points out they're not breaking the rules. Funk back with the strikes, and a stiff one knocks Nick onto the apron. Funk suplexes Nick back into the ring for 2, and we've got 2 minutes left. Funk hits a piledriver, but Nick gets a foot on the ropes. Funk goes for a double arm suplex, but Nick turns it into a backslide for a near fall. Funk with an Irish whip and an elbow. Spinning toe hold with a minute left. Nick cradles him for a near fall. 45 seconds left and Nick gets the figure four. Kiniski runs in and boots Nick, but the ref allows it despite Verne's complaints. All due respect to "Big Thunder" but damn, he liked to inject himself into matches (Starrcade '83). They trade pin attempts as the time expires. Standing ovation from the Omni crowd and I'm with them. I'm also with Larry who asks for 5 more minutes. A lot of newer fans might think it was too slow paced and there wasn't enough action. I would say that everything that was done was done right, and it was WRESTLING. I love it. I want more. If any of the current WWE or Impact shows had one match like this on it per week - just one - I'd watch every week. I have to get some more stuff from Dory and Nick after this. I can't say enough good things about it, so I'm going to stop here and get on with it.
Bischoff is standing by with Lou Thesz and Bob Geigel. Eric puts over Thesz and says it's an honor to have him there. I have to agree. Lou is pretty humble. Bob puts over the match we just saw and Eric sends us back to Tony and Larry.
Between typing this up and getting the pictures, I somehow misplaced the 2nd disc, so that's all the pictures you get. But hey, it's still more than the last couple of times, so be happy.
Rick Rude and Paul Orndorff vs. Dustin Rhodes and Kensuke Sasaki
Rude is the US Champ, Orndorff is TV champ. Both men are wearing blue and silver robes. Rude wants the inner city sweathogs to close their mouths while he and Orndorff show them what real men are supposed to look like. They stand back to back and open their robes before doing a slow turn. I could understand the argument that they would be wasted in tags, but there could have been a ton of mileage out of this team. And from everything I've heard, if you wanted to put together a team to clear out a bar, Rude and Orndorff would be as good a pick as any. Rude circles Sasaki and isn't happy with his appearance. Sasaki returns the favor and powers Rude into his corner. That's not going to set well with Rick. Rude clubbers him down and yells at him. Sasaki ducks a clothesline and attempts to hyper extend Rick's arm. Paul tags in, but gets the same. Rhodes tags in and also works the arm. Sasaki back in and he goes to the arm. Paul tries to get out of it but Dustin tags back in. Finally he makes it over to tag in Rude. They trade shots and Dustin gets the better of that and hits a back body drop but runs into knees in the corner. Rude does the same, but Dustin charges after him, Rude ducks, and Dustin hits the floor. Rude occupies the ref and Sasaki while Paul slams Dustin into the railing a few times. We have our first "Paula" chant. Rude in control, yells at Dustin and swivels the hips. Tag to Paul and they double team short-whip Dustin into the turnbuckles. Paul hits him with a knee coming off the rope as Larry criticizes the crowd for the "Paula" chants. Rude works over Dustin in the corner and goes for a piledriver but can't get it. He then goes for a tombstone but Dustin reverses it into one of his own for a 2 count. Paul tags back in but both men end up down. Tags on both sides and Sasaki comes of the ropes. Inverted atomic drop and hip swivel by Sasaki, which gets a good response. Paul comes in but so does Dustin and the heels get the worst of that. Sasaki up top but Paul shoves him off. Rude hits the Rude Awakening, though Sasaki didn't seem to want to go down. He also didn't seem to want to be pinned, but the ref counted 3 anyway. He pops right up, but does at least grab his neck after a bit.
Gordon Solie is in the ring for the Hall of Fame ceremony. They drop the lights except for a spotlight on Gordon. The crowd gives Gordon a great welcome and he seems touched. But, being the class act that he is, after a few thank yous, he politely asks, "May I proceed, please?" He mentions legends who have passed on including Buddy Rogers, Andre the Giant, Pat O'Connor, Gene Anderson, Dick the Bruiser, Wilber Snyder, and one more he'll mention later on. We have a moment of silence for those men.
The first inductee for the hall of fame, which will be in the CNN complex (Wonder if it's still there) is Lou Thesz. I can buy that. Thesz won his first world title in 1937 and once held it for 8 years. His championship career spanned 29 years and had wrestled in Japan just 2 years prior. Lou bows to each side.
The next inductee is Verne Gagne and we get the rundown of his collegiate and hall of fame accomplishments. We're also getting pictures and newspaper clippings of each man, which is neat.
Next is Mr. Wrestling II to a huge pop. We get the story about his invite to the White House and his refusal due to having to unmask, which also gets a pop. I've met II, and he's a class act. Great to see him get this response.
Gordon mentions that there was one who was no longer with us that was being honored, and that is Eddie Graham, whose son Mike will accept. We get some of Eddie's accomplishments, without actually saying he ran the Florida territory.
THAT'S what I call a hall of fame class.
From that, we go to Missy Hyatt. Well, you can't win 'em all. At least she's joined by Lord James Blears and John Tolos. Missy seems happy to see John. Tolos says wrestling is the greatest sport in the world, and WCW is the only way to go. Lord Blears agrees and presents Missy with a monocle.
Gary Capetta introduces Sting, and with all due respect to Sting, this is going to blow.
Sting vs The Prisoner
Sounds like some people in the crowd are chanting bullshit. I have to agree. I'd rather see Norton in there myself. Lockup and Prisoner goes with a choke in the corner. And another choke. And another. And another. Finally, something else - an Irish whip and an elbow...followed by a choke. He slams Sting's head into the turnbuckle, Irish whip to the corner and some strikes. Bodyslam for 2. Prisoner misses a charge to the corner and they trade some blows. Prisoner's not really selling anything though. Tosses Sting to the outside and....chokes him with a cable. Prisoner has looked blown up for a bit. Chokes him with the cable again. Tony says, "This is incredible." Well, Tony, I was thinking, "Drizzling shits," but to each their own. Finally they're back in the ring. Irish whip to the corner followed by a charging knee. Sting hits a kind-of Thesz press but it was ugly. Back body drop. Stinger splash. Double leg and cover gets 2. Sting with a bodyslam but misses an elbow drop. Prisoner with some clubberin' in the corner but grabs the ref like an idiot. Sting goes up top and nails a clothesline for 3 and gets the hell out of there. Can't say I blame him.
Eric is with the Crusher and Ox Baker. Crusher mentions taking out bums with the Bruiser but says Ox is one he might have missed. Ox dusts off Eric's shoulders. Crusher says he wants Ox in a cage match and talks about his grandchildren. He says he can throw a tomato through a screen door. He keeps challenging Ox Baker. Ox says if Bruiser can find a way to come back, he'll get in the cage. Awkward. He sort of molests Eric and Crusher tries to give him a cigar. Okay.
Cage match for unified world tag team titles: Ricky Steamboat and Shane Douglas vs Hollywood Blondes.
This is the match that was included on Steamboat's DVD where he and Douglas are wearing masks and calling themselves Dos Hombres. We see a couple of guys in the audience paying close attention. I have no idea who they are. Larry says they look like Vito & Guido. I was thinking Sleazy and Greasy, but whatever works. They then speculate that they may be agents for the Hollywood Blondes. Austin and Steamboat start. Austin tries for the mask but can't get it. Pillman comes in but a drop toehold brings him down. Chops from Steamboat, but he eats a boot when he goes for a back body drop. Pillman tries to send him to the cage, but Steamboat blocks it. Armdrag from Steamboat. Still one of the best. Douglas comes in and works the arm of Austin. We get the weird guys at ringside again. One of them looks sort of familiar. Still can't place him though. Austin fights back but gets the cage to the back of his head. Douglas dances around, which Larry calls a "jumping bean jiggle." Fast work now and a back body drop on Austin sends his legs into the ropes. Fires him to the cage. Tag made, but Austin gets a thumb to the eye and tags Pillman. He briefly finds himself at a disadvantage, but hits a thumb to the eye as well. Tag made and Pillman gets pick up for a press slam and thrown into the cage. He manages to make the tag to Austin, but he doesn't have much luck with Steamboat either. Steamboat picks him up suplex style and hangs him upside down over the cage. He then splashes him and goes for a double team one, but Austin drops and he hits the cage. Pillman in and they take control. The Blondes slow it down and Austin hits an elbow off the turnbuckles for 2. Quick tags now from the Blondes. Pillman chokes him with a towel in the corner. Pillman comes off the turnbuckles but eats a boot to the face. Both men going for tags, but only Pillman is successful. Fast moving off an Irish whip and Austin gets nailed with a dropkick. He's briefly in the wrong corner but gets out of it. Larry says in the next decade, Austin is going to be up there "if his body holds out." It held out long enough for him to be up there. Hot tag to Steamboat and the Blondes eat the cage. Pillman gets crotched on the rope while trying to escape. Both men hit punches in the corner and then Irish whip the Blondes into each other. Douglas and Austin each get whipped into the cage. Steamboat climbs to the top of the cage and hits a crossbody onto both men. Miscue as the ref counts 2 but the bell rings. Match continues and the challengers are in controll. Reversal on a dual Irish whip spot leads to Austin hitting the Stun Gun on Douglas almost out of nowhere. Pillman cuts off Steamboat and the champions retain. Good match.
Eric Bischoff is with Stu Hart, Mr. Wrestling II, and Dusty Rhodes. Dusty puts over the legends, including those with him. He then tells Assassin that his big ass is right there. Mr. Wrestling II thanks WCW for the hall of fame honor. Stu addresses his sons that wrestle and his daughters that married wrestlers. Of course, one of them is Davey Boy Smith, who is challenging for the WCW world title tonight. Stu's hoping he can overpower Vader and become world champion.
NWA World Heavyweight title match - Arn Anderson vs Barry Windham (c.)
Tony mentions that tonight we've seen Tully Blanchard snub the Horsemen. I'm wondering why you'd put it that way unless you had an angle planned. Arn goes for a quick pin off a shoulder tackle and gets 2. I like it. It's a title match, why wouldn't you try to win it quick? Some work off the ropes and Arn hits a quick belly to belly for another 2 count. Barry looks concerned. Larry mentions Tully snubbing the Horsemen, saying maybe Barry got to him. Again, it sounds like an angle, but Tully never showed up. Barry nails Arn with a good shot, but shortly after, Arn hits a quick DDT for a near fall. The fight spills out to the ramp. Barry gets in first, but still looks concerned. Tony's been spouting wrestling trivia all night. I miss the days when he still cared. Arn comes off the ropes, but gets nailed. Windham gets a 2 count of his own and dumps Arn to the floor. Barry follows him just to give him an elbow to the face. Arn pulls down the rope and Barry spills out to the floor. Arn slams him into the rail and Barry is bleeding. Tony informs us that under WCW rules, the use of the rail would be a DQ. Arn with a small package gets 2. Punches and elbow to the bleeding forehead of Barry Windham. Frequent pin attempts from Anderson. Simple and logical. Arn grabs a rear chinlock for a bit then drops a knee across the head. Arn gives the throat slash and Tony mentions the blood stoppage from Starrcade '84. Arn goes up top, but Barry dropkicks him to the floor. Barry follows him and gives him a suplex. Back in the ring and Barry hits a clothesline from the top. Knee drop to the back of the head and Barry gets a 2. Arn fires a shot to the midsection and a big uppercut. Goes for a suplex but Barry reverses for 2. Arn reverses the Irish whip and hits the best spinebuster ever but Barry rolls to the outside before Arn can go for a cover. Windham grabs his belt and heads down the ramp. Arn tosses the ref aside and goes after him. Windham sails over the top and into the ring. Arn works him the corner and pushes the ref aside a couple of times. The last time he realizes he messed up and while he's distracted, Barry grabs the belt and whacks him in the head with it. Windham gets a 3 count and retains the title.
WCW World Heavyweight title match: Davey Boy Smith vs Big Van Vader (c.) with Harley Race
Davey out first, and they mention the "do it for Cactus" thing again. I guess this was before Cactus got amnesia and thought he was a sailor. Vader comes out looking like the monster that he is. Faceoff and both men are hesitant. Lockups, but no one is getting the advantage. Davey no sells a shot tot he chest and Vader looks perplexed. Shot to the midsection followed by a body block but again it has no affect. Vader backs into a corner to rethink things. So he backs Davey into a corner and beats the shit out of him. You can bet he felt that. Davey goes to the floor and Harley gives him a shot which puts him into the rail. Vader charges him but Davey moves and Vader goes into the front row. Davey then slams him on the floor. Vader slowly makes his way back in. Strikes from Smith who gets Vader up for a suplex and holds him for a little while. Crowd loves it. Of course, he immediately runs into a boot from Vader. Vader comes off the top but Davey turns it into a powerslam and then clotheslines Vader over the top. The crowd is going nuts and Davey's looking like a killer. Back in, Davey goes for a crucifix, but Vader drops back on him. Vader drops the elbow on the upper leg and he may have caught him in the giblets. So he gives him another one. Vader goes to the middle rope and we know what's coming. He hits it, but Davey kicks out at 2. Right hand and a forearm from Vader, both of which looked brutal. Vader hits a bodyslam and then hits a bodyblock from the middle rope. Tony informs us that Davey is bleeding from the nose as Vader beats the hell out of him the corner again. He sits Davey on the top rope and goes up after him. Davey fires back and tosses Vader down face first. Diving headbutt by Davey and both men are down. Vader gets a side headlock, but Davey picks him up and drops him on his ass. Vader comes back with a clothesline. Davey gets a sunset flip and dodges when Vader tries to sit on him. He got a 2 count from it. The ref admonishes Vader for using his fists, and Harley admonishes the referee for admonishing Vader. Big man goes up top and hits a splash but hurt himself in the process. Given that he actually yelled out quite a bit and booted the hell out of Smith when he approached, I think he may have been actually hurt. Vader tosses Smith and Harley has a little fun, but not too much. Vader beats the hell out of Davey in the corner again. I would have no desire to take that. Vader hits a bodyslam and a sit down splash. Davey is out of it. Vader sits on Davey's back with the chinlock, but Davey powers up to his feet and drops him backward. Smith comes back with strikes of his own for 2. Vader reverses the Irish whip but Smith catches him for a powerslam for 2 when Race grabs him by the hair and pulls him out. Davey grabs Race, so Vader grabs a chair and whacks him for the DQ. He tosses Smith back in the ring, and Marcus Bagwell runs in for the save, but Vader knocks the piss out of him. Scorpio in and he gets pancaked. Vader goes for a powerbomb, but Sting runs down and hits a clothesline from the top and Vader and Race are out while the faces celebrate.
Bischoff is joined by Magnum TA. Magnum says when the world title is on the line, it brings you to a whole new level and these guys aren't finished. Magnum puts over Vader, but says as long as there are men like Sting and Davey around it's going to keep things moving.
Tony and Larry are joined by Verne Gagne, who puts over WCW, and that does it.
Well there you go. Some good nostalgia, some good matches, and only one bad match on the card. Can't complain about that. I recommend checking it out, as all the title matches are good, the Funk-Bockwinkel match is a great old school style match, and there's great nostalgia with a great lineup of leg
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