WCW had begun to head down a similar road. (The very first “War Games”, basically a Survivor Series match held in a steel cage, also took place in 1993.) In November of that month, they designed an entire PPV around another concept they had done twice before, this one called Battlebowl. As WWE Network explains, "Stars are forced to randomly team up through a Lethal Lottery. Winning teams advance to the enormous Battlebowl Battle Royal main event."
The winner of Battlebowl was awarded with a ring (In WCW at the time, there was a push for more legitimacy, hence the use of rings after winning a “Bowl”) and all but guaranteeing themselves a title shot at a future date. For those with a more modern view, consider this a grandfather to Money in the Bank.
It should be noted that this was the only time Battlebowl was a separate Pay-Per-View. The reason why is our first lesson.
In our case, there were 8 Lethal Lottery tag-team matches back to back. By the time you hit match 5 (Ron Simmons and Keith Cole vs. Nasty Boy Jerry Sags and the newest member of the WWE 2K15 roster, Sting), you are completely overloaded on the concept. You’re pining for a singles match, a Triple Threat, anything! (oddly enough, 1993 is generally considered to be the first year any sort of three-way dance match occurred).
One redeeming quality of match 5 was that Sting and Ron Simmons were able to put together a sequence of moves that the modern fan would recognize as wrestling. What about the others, you may ask? Let us move to our next lesson.
Allow me to tell you about three of the wrestlers who appeared at this nationally recognized wrestling company’s PPV. I submit to you that none of these three (or likely many of the other talents on the card) would have a chance of competing in a WWE, NXT or even TNA ring.
- Charlie Norris, the Native American competitor who is likely best known for filing a racial discrimination lawsuit against WCW after being fired. Take one look at his match, and you’ll see racism likely had nothing to do with it. (Mini-lesson 2.5 - Watch the effort Vader has to put into power-bombing Norris at the end of their opening match, since Charlie doesn’t seem to be helping in the slightest. The best looking moves almost always require teamwork.)
- The Colossal Kongs. Two large men who got masks slapped on them and told they were wrestlers. Awesome Kong (not to be confused with the women’s wrestler of the same name) passed away in 2012. His obituary on many wrestling websites features a picture of The Rock, likely because both men are named Dwayne.
His partner, King Kong, was once part of a tag team named “The Fat Boys”. King Kong played the role of “Meat”, while his partner was... you guessed it, “Potatoes”.
One saving grace for the Kongs is that thanks to the Lethal Lottery, they were on opposing sides of this match. Which leads us to our next lesson.
This is a fairly self-explanatory lesson, but it bears mentioning. Despite Mean Gene Okerlund’s best efforts to hype the drawing of names from his BINGO tumbler (that is, when we wasn’t making a series of dirty old man comments towards his assistant, Ric Flair’s valet [and girlfriend at the time] Fifi), these teams were anything but random.
That is not to say that it was not entertaining. Cactus Jack and WCW Champion Vader told an excellent story in the opening match of the card. At the time, they were embroiled in a bitter feud that involved power-bombs on concrete, Cactus Jack wandering around with amnesia for a while, and the well-documented loss of an ear. Yet here they were as unwilling tag team partners, brawling before the match began yet somehow working fairly cohesively as a team.
In addition to the Kongs being on opposite sides, the team of Tex Slazenger and Shanghai Pierce (otherwise known as the Godwinns) had to face off against each other, and in their case, they actually got into a bit of a brawl near the end of their match.
In many cases, heels teamed with faces, perhaps none so entertainingly as Ricky Steamboat teaming with the man he was in the middle of battling for the World Television title, Lord Steven Regal. With that, we reach lesson number four.
For this lesson, we tread in subjective waters, yet this is my classroom, so I’ll have my say, thank you. While he never reached the pinnacle in either WCW or WWE (thanks, in large part, to a fairly serious drug habit), Lord Regal had everything one would hope to find in a wrestling superstar.
His persona and natural charisma were magnetic. When he was a heel (as he most often was), his disdainful facial expressions rival only Vince McMahon. Consider that when Steamboat makes a tag during their match, Regal stops and wipes his hand on the back of his trunks, looking like he just handled filth.
More importantly, he was one of the best in-ring wrestlers I’ve ever seen. At Battlebowl, he counters a full nelson is the most logical, believable way possible, the kind of move that makes you wonder why you’ve never seen it before. Soon after that, he pulls off a cartwheel mid-ring.
Seriously, if you aren’t familiar with William Regal outside of the NXT broadcaster, you owe it to yourself to spend some time watching his matches and segments. If you’re looking for a more modern viewing opportunity, the training segment with Eugene is one of my favorite things to ever happen on television.
We’ll wrap up today's lesson with something silly, yet striking. I’m embarrassed to mention it at all, but it must be shared.
Seriously, go look at Battlebowl. It’s almost eerie. Once you’ve done that, Google search some modern day pictures of Hyatt. This is your future, Miss Cyrus. You've been warned.