From this author’s perspective, Episode 5 of ECW TV is when things started to look Extreme.  There was silliness, innuendo, focus on females and, of course, the debut of a cult leader.  Let’s get to it!

ECW TV Episode 5

Jay Sulli and Stevie Wonderful kick off our show as per usual, but that’s not important.  What’s important is what Sulli is wearing. . .

Did anyone know they made tuxedo ties and cummerbunds in Tweety Bird yellow?  I didn’t.

We’re joined by ECW President Tod Gordon, who recaps the feud between Eddie Gilbert and Terry Funk, before sending us to Double Cross Ranch for a word with the Funkster.As Funk explains, he’s been riding around all day looking for Eddie Gilbert, but he can’t find him.  Then, all of a sudden, he shows up...

 

See what I mean?  It’s not “extreme”, but we’re getting there!

Funk fills the equine rump in on the rules of a Texas Chain match (no pins, no submissions, must touch all 4 turnbuckles) before asking for questions or a response from Gilbert.  What follows is seriously one of the funniest moments ever… Not the clip, but just this picture…

Bah Gawd, Terry, don’t do that, your face might freeze that way!

---

Match 1 - Magnificent Muraco and Eddie Gilbert vs. JT Smith and Glenn Osbourne

I’m not sure how we’re supposed to focus on wrestling after that, and this tag match doesn’t offer a whole lot to get excited about, save for the ending...

Yes, folks, that is the ECW debut of one Paul Heyman, though at this point, he is still known as Paul E. Dangerously, former manager extraordinaire in World Championship Wrestling, and the newest ally of Hotstuff International.  Heyman grabs a microphone (always a good sign) and lets us know that this merger between Hotstuff and the Dangerous Alliance makes this the greatest day in ECW history.

Or something like that.  I was too busy marking out to notice the specifics.  IT’S HEYMAN!!!
Match 2 - Super Destroyers vs. Tony Stetson and Larry Winters

Once again, the wrestling here seems like an afterthought to the promos, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, especially when the promos are done by two of the all time greats in Funk and Heyman.

Then there’s this guy…

The manager of the Super Destroyers announces that this is it. . . Without question, the absolute end of this feud. . . The final, ultimate, no mas match between his charges and Stetson and Winters.  So we know what that means...

The match begins, and we’re treated to the single biggest gimmick in ECW so far - That Jay Sulli is a stupid, stupid man.  Seriously, he’s still complaining to Wonderful that he doesn’t know the difference between Super Destroyer 1 and 2.  What is the point of him even being here?

We’re also treated to what is the superkick of 1993, aka the move that is completely overdone.  In this instance, its when one wrestler takes another one by the hair / back of the head and then slams them face first into the mat.  I swear, I’ve seen it twenty two times in 5 episodes.  Maybe it happened so much because of the preponderance of mullets???

The Super Destroyers cheat to win again, so as I said, we know what’s going to happen next…

Sigh…

---

No, NAIborhood, Cousin It never became a professional wrestler.  What you’re seeing is Salvatore Bellomo, cutting a promo. Don’t worry, though, he makes sure you know, lifting his hair out of his face to say “By the way, it’s me behind here.”  This is the WrestleSilly goodness I’m always craving!

As for what else Sal said, though, I remain in the dark.  If you thought anyone in WWE had accent problems, take a listen to the Wildman and hear what true nonsense sounds like.  I can only guess that it was about his upcoming title match, because…

 

Match 3 - Salvatore Bellomo vs. The Sandman

Apparently the ring attendant career is over for Peaches, for she now seems to be Sandman’s manager and is known as Miss Peaches.  Gee, I wonder who she is emulating…

As I’ve said in previous Diaries, Sandman’s in ring work strikes me as very different from his ECW heyday, though to be fair, I’m not well versed.  He does a lot of aerial moves and he LOVES the schoolboy roll-up.  As in, it happens multiple times a match.

However, we run into a problem, and that problem is the ECW ring.  Obviously smaller than a WWF ring, if not most rings, any attempt at a schoolboy inevitably winds up with one or both of the wrestlers lying underneath the ropes.  It accentuates the amateur qualities of this promotion each time it happens.

Sandman winds up winning by countout when Bellomo leaves the ring and seemingly forgets what he’s doing, wandering through the crowd.  Maybe that’s because he’s Wild??  Did Marc Mero ever do that??

---

Rockin’ Rebel and Tigra, who has also been promoted to manager, are by the lockers next, and I finally get a question answered that has plagued me for ages.

What did mullet owners do with their hair when they wanted to have a fancy night on the town? (They braid it, apparently)

 

Match 4 - Rockin’ Rebel vs. . . . Ernesto Benefico?

After his promo, which I didn’t listen to, Rebel gets showcased in the ring against. . .This guy.   I think that’s what the graphic said, though Jay Sulli pronounces it in about 37 different ways over the course of this 2 minute squash match.  All I know is that the guy looks like a young and blurry Borat.

I know that we’re dealing with 25 year old technology here, but how can WWE expect new fans, if any fan, to go back and watch some of these archived shows with the video quality like this?  (This is where you whisper - “Hey DC, they don’t expect you to. . .In fact, you’re the only one who does!”)

HD has spoiled us.  The person who figures out how to turn grainy old video into high definition gold is going to be swimming in money like Scrooge McDuck!

---

Tod Gordon is out with Hunter G Robbins and says that Stetson and Winters are willing to put their hair on the line in order to get another tag title match.  Robbins quickly signs, not reading the fine print where he will have to be handcuffed to Tommy Cairo for this match as well.  Robbins gets mad.

Don’t let it be said that I don’t keep you up to speed, friends.

---

We get another Suicide Blonds promo, which sounded just like the original one.  It actually might have been the same one, if I’m being honest.

 

Match 5 - Tommy Cairo vs. Jonathan Hotbody

Now that they are a tag team, Hotbody and Candido want to go by their full names, because that’s how we know they’re serious.

This next image is for Doc Manson, who as anyone who listened to our commentary on the Cruiserweight Classic knows, is a fan of cheeky predicaments.

 

Seriously, who thought chaps and wrestling trunks was a good combo?

As the action unfolds, Hotbody is sent to ringside early in this match, and being the good teammate that he is, Candido gives his aching back a nice massage.  Like I said, there’s nothing overt happening.  But the innuendo is there.

We see the advantages of having the announce team at ringside, as Candido is able to offer some pretty funny commentary at points during the match, at one time screaming that his partner’s hair is blond, despite all evidence to the contrary.

Despite my high opinions on both Cairo and Hotbody, this match isn’t fluid.  The best moment, when Hotbody DDT’s Cairo off the top rope, seemed to be a botched superplex.  Cairo wins when the Blonds once again crash into each other, leading to an O’Connor roll and a victory.

(Full disclosure: Up until a couple months ago, I thought this move was called an Okada Roll, and kept trying to figure out why it was named after a Japanese guy who wasn’t on the WWE roster.)

Cairo and Hotbody brawl at ringside and for the first time, we’re out of time, and the show ends relatively abruptly, but actually, I think that’s a good thing.  As I’ve written about before, the previous shows seemed to not have enough to fill the time, but this one did.  Once again, forward progress.

---

The wrestling in this episode was probably the worst of the five episodes so far, but the promos were easily the best.  Even Sal Bellomo was funny, if incomprehensible.  The pieces are beginning to fall into place.  I like where things are headed with ECW.

Until we meet again, my friends, I’ll see you around the NAIborhood.

 

I don’t know if you got the memo, NAIborhood, but there are over 7,000 hours of content on WWE Network.  You might not have heard, I think WWE has been downplaying it. . .

With almost 300 full days worth of wrestling to watch, some of you must be wondering why in the world I am subjecting myself to viewing the early days of ECW TV.  Before Van Dam, before Heyman, before even Taz or Tommy Dreamer.

Well, part of it is the small bits of OCD inside of me that insist on doing these quests of mine completely - That means from the very first episode to the very last one, no matter what horrors await me.  (Yes, I know you’re there, Tank Abbott wearing the shirt with the nipples cut out. . . )

Another reason is because of the lessons and connections one can make between wrestling of the past and today’s sports entertainment.  In that vein, let’s begin another THRILLING edition of DC’s Network Diaries.

 

ECW Hardcore TV, Episode 2

Once again, the episode starts with Hot Stuff Eddie Gilbert trying to insert himself into the commentary team, only to be met with opposition from one Terry Funk.  Now, I’m sure we’ll cover the future Chainsaw Charlie in much more detail as these episodes continue, but I want to focus on Gilbert right now.

Full disclosure - I know next to nothing about Eddie Gilbert.  I’ve read his name a bunch and seen him a handful of times in various promotions, but I am generally completely oblivious to Mr. Hot Stuff.  However, as I watch these early promos and interactions, I can see that he’s influenced a fair share of people.  I’d venture a guess that without Eddie Gilbert, the heel side of Chris Jericho would look a lot different.  There are similarities (albeit small ones) in terms of the use of inflection and cadence.  Now, I’m not saying that Gilbert is the originator of that, but it’s worth noting.  I look forward to seeing more Hot Stuff in the future…

That sounded bad… Speaking of uncomfortable names, let’s get to our first match.

 

Match 1 - Glen Osbourne vs. Johnny Hotbody

It’s a testament to the times that a wrestler who looks like Johnny does can get away with a name like Hotbody.  He’s not a Playboy Buddy Rose or Adrian Adonis, but he’s also nowhere near a Lex Luger, either.  For those who might only watch independent wrestling, though, I suppose he could qualify.

He is, however, my favorite ECW wrestler so far, which I know isn’t saying much, since I’m an episode in.  Regardless, Johnny Hotbody is a pretty good wrestler.  I keep getting Luke Harper comparisons in my mind when I watch him, though to be fair, that’s probably solely because of the combover.

That’s Luke Harper, the 2016 winner of the Triple H Ponytail Memorial DDT Award for best hair!  Be sure to listen to all three parts of our end of the year podcast-a-palooza!

I also see some Harper in Hotbody (awkwarddddd) because of the moveset.  Johnny breaks out a German suplex (back in 1993, Suplex City hadn’t been built yet), a suplex to the outside and then a pretty impressive shoulderblock from the apron to the floor.  Again, those aren’t moves to set the world on fire, but considers this was just about a quarter of a century ago, they were enough to make me sit up and take notice.

As for Osbourne. . . Well. . . He had a decent look.  Like if Tatanka met The Ascension.  And that’s about all I can say.

Tommy Cairo makes an appearance to seek revenge on Hotbody’s interference from the previous week, and Osbourne picks up the victory, despite having almost zero offense in the match.  That doesn’t stop it from cutting your typical tough guy promo, where he claims that Hotbody was “just the first victim” in his quest for the TV title.  Apparently Glen assumes we didn’t see the match.

 

Match 2 - Tony Stetson and Larry Winters vs. Chris Michaels and Samoan Warrior

Stetson and Winters, who we saw in singles action on the premiere episode, are the number one contenders to the ECW tag titles.  Just goes to show, NAIborhood, as bad as we might think the RAW and SDLive tag scene is, it could always be worse!  These two have pretty decent double team moves, which was fun, but other than that look very much like any random duo of jobbers you’ve seen.  Just to make you uncomfortable, here's an awkward picture of Larry Winters.

Billy Ray

I might be Billy Ray Cyrus, but I might not be...

Chris Michaels sees the majority of the in-ring action for the opposition, and my guess is his ring name comes from the fact that it looks like he stole the hair from Rockers-Era Shawn Michaels and stapled it to his head.  To be fair, this is not uncommon. . . The name thing, not the stapling thing…

Remember what we talked about in the last column, indie promoters used to fill their card with generic guys and then find a couple headliners to sell tickets.  However, if they could “trick” a very casual fan (or, perhaps, a casual fan’s grandmother) into believing there were headliners there who actually were not, so much the better.  I remember reading in PWI about a promotion where the headline match was Buck Hogan taking on King Kong Button, or something like that.  Up and down the card were names that looked somewhat similar to WWF names, but obviously were not.  Tricky promoters!

As for the Samoan Warrior (or, as Terry Funk called him, the Warrior from Sah-Moe-Ahhh), his best moves where when he gave himself bumps.  When you added another wrestler, things went bad fast.

Stetson and Winters get the victory here, and as usual, Terry Funk interviews them to try to put them over, to various levels of success.  I think he tries to quote the Jeffersons theme song and is then interrupted by Untalented Slick, who needs a lesson in talking into the microphone.

---

We get another look at Sandman and then the ECW champion is out to talk to Terry Funk.  He praises Funk and the fans, which is just hilarious when you consider his future of chain smoking and beer drinking.

 

Match 3 - Sandman vs. Kodiak Bear

Not surprisingly, Kodiak Bear is a 300 pound plus guy from Alaska, wearing the traditional Foley Flannel, albeit a couple years before Mick made it famous.  Even moreso than Johnny Hotbody, Bear looks like Luke Harper, provided Harper ate the Wyatt Family first.

The ring attendant is up on the apron, but Sandman just hangs his surfboard off the ringpost and apparently is going to wrestle in the faux wetsuit.  I swear, I am not making this up.  Actually, I mention the ring attendant because the commentary team spent a bunch of time this episode talking about how they couldn’t stop staring at the ring girls.  Classy move, gents.

Peaches (the name of the ring girl, and I assume the wife of Sandman) kisses the champion, then almost falls down the ring stairs.  Again, I’m not making any of this up.

After a quick match, Sandman wins with a missile dropkick, a slingshot shoulderblock and then a Cobra Clutch, which Stevie Wonderful dubs the Sandman Sleeper.  Now, perhaps he’ll prove me wrong as I keep watching, but I wasn’t aware that Sandman could do any of those moves.  I figured it was punches, kicks, Kendo Stick and then the White Russian legsweep (which is a pretty clever name for a move for an alcoholic gimmick.)

To celebrate his win, Terry Funk begins singing “Oh, Mr. Sandman”.  Not. Making. This. Up.

 

Match 4 - Eddie Gilbert vs. JT Smith

It’s our first in-ring look at Hotstuff (which is, apparently, one word) and not only does he give the ring announcer bunny ears, he does a pose which reminds me a bit of the “Drink It In, Mannnn” schtick.  Just saying.

Less than a minute into the match and we’re out among the crowd, and that’s after Gilbert hits Smith with a chair and bounces him off a table.  Apparently, disqualifications and count outs don’t apply here.  It’s also worth noting that the “barricade” which separates fans from the action looks like the same extendable seat belt things that banks use to signal how to line up.

JT Smith, another name from PWI lore, doesn’t do much in this match, though he has a nice fallaway slam and an impressive (albeit unsuccessful) moonsault.  Gilbert, having cheated the entire time, eventually picks up the win by hitting Smith with an international object.  Much offended, the play by play guy (whose name I still don’t know) runs out to inform the referee.  Imagine Mauro Ranallo doing that, or Michael Cole doing it as a babyface.

This serves as a good point to remind us all that this was once a thing.

To be fair, how many of us have biceps this good?

Match 5 - Tommy Cairo vs. Super Ninja

Another appearance by Ironman here as he picks up a quickish victory over Super Ninja with essentially what became a Deadlift German Suplex.  Super Ninja, according to Google, is indie wrestler Rick Michaels.  I only mention that because, on his Wikipedia page, is says he was signed by WWE in 2005, but as a tailor.  There’s a WWE Network series I want to see - The “Odd Jobs” of professional wrestling.  What is it like to be a tailor for WWE?  Do other former wrestlers do that?  What’s involved in the creation of wrestling gear?  I’m not kidding - I want this show!

Johnny Hotbody returns to continue his feud with Cairo, though he’s polite enough to run around the ring in a circle until Cairo gets the 3 count before attacking.  Chivalry is not dead, NAIborhood!  Cairo and Hotbody brawl “back to the dressing room”, which means they go up the stairs and onto the stage in this gymatorium.  (A gymatorium is a technical term in education for when small schools use a single space for both purposes.  I once worked in a school that had a cafegymatorium, where the physical education classes, assemblies AND lunches all took place.)

---

Terry Funk and Tod Gordon preview next week’s show, where we get the semifinals (and maybe the finals - Funk’s been wrong before) of the TV title tournament.  Terry also makes sure to shake Gordon’s hand. . . This is a big thing for the Funker; I’m guessing he feels like being seen shaking the hand of a talent is a sign of approval.  I do give him a lot of credit for adding his name and reputation to such a small promotion.

Overall, I found Episode 2 of ECW TV to be better than the pilot.  The matches were generally of a better caliber and now that I’m familiar with some of the talent, following the stories was fun.

Plus, come on, you gotta watch just to see Sandman wrestle in a faux wetsuit.

Cowabunga...

Thanks for spending some NAIstalgic time with me.  Until we meet again, my friends, I’ll see you around the NAIborhood.   

 

In case you’re a relative neophyte to the DDTWrestling experience, let’s take a minute for some education.  Doc Manson and DC Matthews began their online careers as writers, going back and forth in Google Docs.  If you can imagine a written version of our podcast, that was essentially it, only without any song parodies or food discussion.

As the podcast grew, the writing dwindled, to the point where I can’t even remember the last time I put fingers to keyboard, as it were.  This is a strange feeling - I’m not even sure I remember how to log into ddtpod.com!  This could be a disaster…

Regardless, while I didn’t sit down and scribe out resolutions for 2017, I did have a couple of goals in mind.  One of them was to dive back into the WWE Network archives.  Since the brand split, I haven’t had the time or the energy to watch anything other than the current WWE / NXT / 205 Live product.  On the most recent episode of Doc Talk, my partner in crime was effusive in praising my wrestle-nerd-dom, citing my perusal of “The Vault” as his prime example.  So, really, I have no choice in the matter.

Plus, Doc laid down the unspoken gamut by writing his own column about the puzzle that is the Emmalina booking.  Truthfully, I just think he was looking for a reason to post pictures of Miss Tenille without the Captain of the household (that would be Mrs. Manson, for those of you playing at home) questioning his motives.  Either way, though, now I feel like I need to contribute as well.  Thanks, Doc…

(Author’s Note: Another resolution for 2017 - To have my podcast vocabulary expand to as similar a level as possible as my written one.  I don’t feel like I use such expansive words aurally.  Perusal, effusive, gamut. . .  I’ve got to step my game up when it comes to my verbal verbosity.)

In an effort to mix the best of both worlds, let’s dust off the old “DC’s Network Diaries”, shall we?  As tempting as it was to head right back into the wonders of WCW, circa 1995 / 1996, I feel like I should start something new, especially if I’m going to be writing about it on the regular.

So, Mr. ECW, let us dance.   Michael Cole and Byron Saxton just LOVE bragging about how the “complete” ECW library is on WWE Network.  Now, that’s what Lewis Black would call a “Liar, liar, pants on fire situation”, since I don’t think I can find Marcus Cor Von or Kevin Thorn as much as I’d like to, but I do get what they’re saying.  Even WWE employees won’t count the Sci-Fi ECW as part of the canon.

Thus, our journey takes us back to April of 1993, and the first episode of EASTERN Championship Wrestling on TV.  Join us as we head into a high school gymnasium (though the announcers insist on calling it a college athletic center), won’t you?
ECW Hardcore TV: Episode 1

Before ECW was Extreme...

Our announcers are Terry Funk, Stevie Wonderful (a name worthy of every E-fed I was ever a part of as a kid) and . . . . Joey Sussi?  Jimmy Stewie?  Josh Suggi?  I don’t remember his name, but I do recall that he was doing as much as he could to look just like Sean Mooney from WWE, even down to the very gelled hairstyle.

We get a bit of banter between Funk, ECW President Tod Gordon (they weren’t making enough money to afford the second D, apparently) and Hot Stuff Eddie Gilbert.  More on him later.

 

Match 1 - Super Destroyers (ECW Tag Champions) vs. The Hellryders (EZ and HD)

I don’t know what HD Ryder is supposed to mean, and I am too uncomfortable to ask.

The Super Destroyers, according to Google, peaked with this tag title run. I found nothing else of note for either of these two, masked or not.  Neither did the announce team, apparently, since most of the match is spent trying to figure out which Destroyer is which.

Which one is which? Does it matter?

I like the archives because even though this match happened likely before most of you were born, you can watch it and still make connections to modern day wrestling.  For example, the Super Destroyers make you wonder why in the world the Authors of Pain ever took the masks off.  Rule 368 of pro wrestling: Monster heels should not have baby faces, unless they are covered up by Strowman style facial hair.

The match ends with an assisted powerbomb and then a somersault senton, which was pretty impressive for what I was expecting.  A successful title defense from the Super Destroyers.

After the match, the manager of the Super Destroyers, who shall be known as “The Untalented Slick” cuts a promo, but his voice was so Urkelish I couldn’t understand what he was saying.

---

We are then treated to a promo package hyping the ECW Champion, The Sandman.  Now, if you’re expecting Metallica, kendo sticks and self-induced beer can injuries, think again.  Back in 1993, The Sandman was a surfer.

Why?  I have no idea.

 

Match 2 - “Wildman” Salvatore Bellomo vs. “Ironman” Tommy Cairo

This is what I love about the WWE Network archives.  Both Bellomo and Cairo are names that I recognize from my days avidly reading Pro Wrestling Illustrated.  For those Internet natives reading this, PWI was what we called a magazine.  Ask your parents for more information.

Sal Bellomo is dressed like a Roman centurion if said centurion didn’t have on any pants, and he is managed by Generic Grand Wizard Ripoff #3.  Tommy Cairo, on the other hand, is the first guy to step between the ropes who looks like he could actually pass as a legitimate wrestler.  Decent musculature, good look, fair to middling promo skills.  This takes nothing away from Bellomo, who actually had some good moves, but if he were in either WWF or WCW during this time, he’d be Norman the Lunatic or Mantaur.

Man. . . I miss Mantaur. . .

Wrestle Silly at its best...

The match ends when Johnny Hotbody, who apparently is feuding with Cairo, tries to interfere but messes up, and Cairo picks up the victory.

Did I mention that there’s a tournament going on for the ECW TV Title?  No?  Well, there is, and people are even ranked!  I love that!

Somewhere around this point we also get our first glimpse of Hat Guy, an ECW standard. Just thought I’d mention it.

 

Match 3 - Tony Stetson vs. Rockin’ Rebel

For my money, this was the match of the first show, as it could have been on Monday Night RAW in 1993 and fit in relatively well.  Rockin’ Rebel is another guy who “looked like a wrestler”.  Imagine if Luther Reigns (remember him?) had an Eddie Guerrero mullet and you have a pretty decent idea of what he looks like.

Ladies and gentlemen, it's Caucasian Guerrero!

I don’t have as much to say about this match because I actually wound up watching it without taking too many notes, which is usually how I know something is good.  Stetson looks like the progeny of the Brooklyn Brawler, but was a decent wrestler (to be fair, so was Steve Lombardi) and Rebel proved why he was the number one contender to the ECW title.

Following his victory, Rebel calls out Sandman, who must have been too busy hanging ten to respond.

 

Match 4 - Jimmy Snuka vs. Larry Winters

Back in the day, the key to these little independent wrestling promotions was to stuff your card full of no-name guys like the Hellryders and Tony Stetson (no offense), and then get one or two “big names” to sell tickets.  The ECW TV intro is proof positive of this, as guys like British Bulldog and Nikolai Volkoff are seen, along with a bunch of “other” talents.

Snuka comes out and, from what I could discern, cuts a typical face “shucks, it’s good to be here” promo, but then Eddie Gilbert returns to announce he has signed Snuka to join his stable, which may or may not be called Hot Stuff International.  (I know that was a stable of his, thanks to PWI, but not sure if that’s what he called it this time).

Superfly then goes on to have a heel match against Larry Winters, which is what Glacier’s real name would have been had WCW gone that way.  Actually, on second thought, it would have been Cole Winters…

Not surprisingly, Snuka wins (Even at 50 years old, that splash was still beautiful to watch), then does the very heelish thing of throwing his opponent out to the floor, but then doing nothing else with him.

 

Match 5 - Salvatore Bellomo vs. the Unnamed Caped Man

My guess is that the folks at ECW wound up needing to fill more time on their TV show, because Wildman Bellomo comes out to protest his loss and demands competition, and thankfully there is a teenager in a cape in the ring (for reasons, obviously), so Sal squashes him.

That’s pretty much the end of episode 1 of ECW TV, though Terry Funk makes a point of letting everyone know that this is new for all of them and so things will get better.  Admirable from the Funkster, but it doesn’t fill me with optimism, especially since he’s obviously not sure what matches are when and who the champions are.  We also get a sneak preview of other matches in the TV title tournament (using the same type of computer graphics I learned how to do during my single semester television and media course I took in high school), along with an appearance from World Champion Sandman.

---

All in all, it was a nostalgic hour of wrestling, which is what you say when something isn’t very good but you don’t want to insult it too badly.  I enjoyed the Stetson / Rebel match and it was nice putting faces to the names off of the PWI 500.  Is it something I recommend the NAIborhood watch?  No, not really, despite being educational and a bit fun to mock.  

In which case, actually, yes, I do recommend it.  Go watch it right this second, and stay tuned, because I’ve already started Episode 2, so I imagine there will be another edition of DC’s Network Diaries coming at you real soon.

Thanks for reading, and until we meet again, my friends, I’ll see you around the NAIborhood.

 

Springtime for teachers is a whirlwind of assessments, field trips, evening events and counting down the days to summer.  Thus, it's been a little tricky for me to come home and put myself in a writing mood.  My apologies for that.  However, last night's Payback had too much going on to be ignored, so let's get to it.  Here are the lessons learned from WWE Payback.

 

Baron Corbin and Dolph Ziggler taught us that it's not always about the match result.

CorbinZiggler

I'm not saying that wins and losses don't matter, because they obviously do, but in this instance, there's more going on than just that.  While I was fighting the beasts of WWE Network lag during the pre-show (which, I might add, is a really disappointing statement to make for such a successful streaming service), the parts of this match that I saw showed that Baron Corbin is a beast.  He looked better than I think I have ever seen him.

Yeah, he did get rolled up by Ziggler in the end, but even that made sense, storyline wise.  This young kid was dominant, but made one rookie mistake and got rolled up by a wily veteran. That's exactly what's supposed to happen.

Twitter, for all of its wonders, definitely makes it easy to do snap criticisms without thinking big picture, and while I'm sure I'm as guilty as anyone is for that from time to time, it wasn't the case during this match.  The outcome made a lot of sense, and whether it's on RAW tonight or at Extreme Rules in 3 weeks, Baron will have his day.

 

Kalisto and Ryback taught us that the US title should matter way more than it does.

RybackKalisto

I'll go right out and say it again, especially since people thought I must have been hacked last night - Ryback did an OUTSTANDING job last night.  Poking fun at the Chicago crowd was inspired and his in-ring performance was excellent. I've given him credit where it's been due before, but this seemed to be on another level.  If I had to rank my top matches from last night, I think I'd have to put this one in my top 3.

There was practically no build to this Wrestlemania rematch at all, which is a shame considering how well both Ryback and Kalisto did. Hopefully we right that wrong in the next few weeks and see both of these talents get some increased screen time.

Yes, I just said I want to see more Ryback. . . I swear, I haven't been hacked!

 

The Vaudevillains and Enzo and Cass taught us that it's dangerous to be a pro wrestler, especially a smaller one.

Enzo

The best news to come out of Payback was that Enzo Amore "only" suffered a concussion - waking up to see a picture of him on his feet and goofing off with Big Cass definitely made my lack of sleep a little easier to deal with.  That was a very scary moment.  We see in-ring injuries all the time, but it's not that often that they require a stretcher AND oxygen.

Now, there is risk in all athletic pursuits, and between the hectic schedule and just the nature of the sport, pro wrestling is (I'd argue) more dangerous than most.  For someone who is generously listed at 5'11" and 200 pounds, I think Enzo is even more at risk than some of his peers.  He's going to spend a lot of his career being tossed around, by both his opponents AND his tag partner, so hopefully this is not the first of multiple concussions for Mr. Amore

Which makes me wonder - Will there be any discussions by WWE brass about potentially capitalizing on Enzo's greatest asset (his mouth) by making him a manager sooner rather than later?  Enzo and Cass will have a fantastic run, I'm sure, but I wouldn't be surprised if before too long, Enzo is the ringside mouthpiece for Big Cass' singles run.  It might seem harsh for me to bring up this topic less than 12 hours after Amore's injury, but I think the conversation needs to happen.

 

Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn taught us that they are the two best parts of WWE right now.

owenszayn

Nobody was in the right mindset for wrestling following the opening contest of Payback last night - Even Owens and Zayn looked out of it and concerned as they made their way to the ring.  Then they started wrestling, and before too long, everyone in the arena and everyone at home got lost in the epic-ness that was Zayn vs. Owens I (WWE edition).

It helped that we learned that Enzo was moving his extremities and talking, that's for sure.

WWE wants us to believe that Roman Reigns is the leader of the "New Era" of WWE, and while that's a lovely notion, there's no way that's true.  When we look back in 10-15 years, I imagine we'll pinpoint Owens' debut on RAW as the real moment when everything changed.  Just like Michaels and Razor or Benoit and Guerrero before them, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn will be seen as the heralds of this "indie era", when wrestling became fun once more.

 

Miz and Cesaro (and Owens and Zayn again) taught us that the Intercontinental Title scene is back where it has belonged this entire time.

mizcesaro

For the entire time I've known Jason Moltov and the NAIpod crew, we've spoken about the glory days of the IC title, when it was home to the best wrestlers of the WWF, leaving the World Title scene for the best "superstars".  Mr. Perfect, Bret Hart, the aforementioned HBK and Razor Ramon - These guys put on some of the best matches in company history fighting over that belt, and in many (but not all) cases, used the IC title as a springboard to stardom.

That hasn't been the case for the Intercontinental title in some time now, but WWE Payback (and perhaps 2016 in general) certainly seems to be changing that script.  Based on what happened during this match, I think we can safely say that arguably the three best wrestlers in WWE are going to be fighting over the IC title at Extreme Rules, joined by The Miz, who brings the Roddy Piper "we love watching him get beat up" factor.

Yes, I just compared The Miz to Roddy Piper.  Deal with it. 

 

Dean Ambrose and Chris Jericho taught ME that the Lunatic Fringe isn't as good as he needs to be.

ambrosejericho

Notice that I used the singular pronoun here instead of the collective - A lot of people in the NAIborhood still are enamored with Dean Ambrose, and I will continue to defend your right to have that opinion.

I just no longer share it.

In professional wrestling, there are certain talents who are able to have a great match with ANYONE.  Michaels, Helmsley, Steamboat, Savage, Seth Rollins - You know the kinds of guys I'm talking about.  Chris Jericho used to be on that list, though is no longer so.  As for Mr. Ambrose, I've come around to the opinion that he was never on this list in the first place - He is dependent on his opponent to have a "great" match.

Let's think about his career highlights.  Shield vs. Wyatts, where he had 5 other guys sharing the workload.  His feud with Seth Rollins. (I loved everything about these two, except the moments I remember don't take place in the ring, but rather the trunk of a car or a giant gift box.)  His Rumble finale and Roadblock match with Triple H.   As evidenced both at Wrestlemania and last night, without thr right opponent, his matches aren't anything to write home about.

Am I glad he got the win last night?  Sure!  Do I hope this leads to bigger and better things?  Absolutely!  But I'm done pumping Dean Ambrose's tires.  He no longer is the next great main eventer waiting to happen.  In fact, he's pretty far down the line.

 

Charlotte and Natalya taught us that the Diva Revolution is not without its drawbacks.

CharlotteNatalya

Before Wrestlemania, I'm not sure how much thought or effort was put into the booking of women's wrestling in WWE.  It seemed to be quite the afterthought, which is why so many people now run stopwatches during female matches these days.  With the new Women's title and the dawn of this new era, I think we all expected an increased focus on the "Diva" scene.

Don't look now, fans, but that's exactly what happened last night.

You might not have enjoyed what happened, but WWE definitely had to put a bit more thought into the result than they usually do.  They even did a WCW callback by having Lil Naitch (Charles Robinson) involved!  WWE treated Charlotte and Natalya like they would any other group of talents, for better or worse.  I look forward to seeing where this leads heading into Extreme Rules.

 

The McMahon Decision taught us that this "New Era" is definitely deserving of quotation marks.

While I am very intrigued to see what happens with both McMahon children running Monday Night RAW, I can't say that I was thrilled by the outcome of this segment.  One of the reasons the last few weeks of wrestling have been so good is because the McMahon family was NOT the center of attention - Shane's appearances were few and far between, letting the focus be on the wrestlers themselves.

Now, I think we can safely say RAW starts with Shane and Stephanie, which is a slight step backwards for this "New Era".  Obviously, the differences will be mostly cosmetic.

I will say that I enjoy the dynamic of Shane and Stephanie together, so I'll give them the benefit of the doubt.  Maybe this will be fantastic and I don't even know it.

 

Roman Reigns and AJ Styles taught us that hype might be all that matters.

reignsAJ

The NAIborhood spent the better part of the last month pondering, wondering and fantasy booking how Payback was going to end.  The Bullet Club?  The Balor Club?  The Roman Empire?  We all sat down last night hoping for something really new and exciting, and all we got was a really solid main event match.

It's hard not to be disappointed, since we aren't any further towards an explanation to the presence of Gallows and Anderson than we were 24 hours ago, but still. . . We got a really solid main event match!  That, in and of itself, is something.  Roman Reigns did far more than I think any of us expected, breaking out some new power moves, diving over the ropes with ease, and in the end, looking like a credible World Heavyweight Champion.  AJ Styles proved to any lingering doubters (who probably all work backstage for WWE) that he's a quality main event talent.  In the end, that's really all we needed.

Plus, without these questions answered, the hype machine can continue.  Will we see Finn Balor on RAW?  Do Gallows and Anderson reveal their true intentions at Extreme Rules?

As long as we're talking about it and watching it, WWE is happy, and quite frankly, after Payback last night, so am I.

 

In a little over 24 hours, the stars of WWE NXT will converge upon the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in little ol’ Dallas, Texas. In the two short years the WWE developmental system has been airing “special events” (for goodness sake, they’re pay-per-views) on the WWE Network, this weekend’s Dallas production might just be the biggest show NXT has put on since their Brooklyn card. I promised DC I’d pump out a couple articles about WrestleMania weekend before the festivities really got started, so here goes on breaking down the NXT TakeOver Dallas card!

 

Apollo Crews vs. Elias Samson

Call me easy to please, but I’m actually kind of excited about this match. I have no clue what the Elias Samson character is about, and I couldn’t even begin to guess. However, for some reason he appeals to me. Physically, he’s a cross between Seth Rollins and Damien Sandow. He’s had some entertaining matches over the past few weeks, and I think with a talent on the level of Apollo Crews, this match Friday night can be something special. The best thing about NXT has been its ability to book a match on no more reason than the fact that two people don’t like each other and want to solve their problems with violence. I won’t lie to myself and say this will be a show-stealer, but I’m excited for it anyway.

 

Predicted Winner: Elias Samson
Reasoning: Elias Samson has already gotten his first loss out of the way. If NXT wants to build him as, at the very least, a solid part of their midcard, he needs a win over a star the caliber of Crews.

 

Austin Aries vs. Baron Corbin

Baron Corbin has unfortunately been relegated – for lack of a better term – to welcoming in NXT’s big Indy name signings the past couple of Takeover events. He put on an *exceptional* match against Samoa Joe in Brooklyn, arguably his best special event showing to date. He had a great match against Apollo Crews in London, and I was actually shocked when he picked up the win. As much as I love both Joe and Crews, Austin Aries is arguably in a league of his own. Not many people can call themselves “The Greatest Man to Ever Live” and actually have the talent to back it up. Aries is one of the best professional wrestlers on the planet, and I am *STOKED* to see him on a niche platform like NXT, and with a talent like Baron Corbin. Corbin has shown he can hang with both big and smaller guys, and tell an absolutely amazing story. This one is gonna shock a lot of people.

 

Predicted Winner: Austin Aries
Reasoning: Simple, he’s The Greatest Man to Ever Live. However, this might be just the start of what could be one of the most compelling angles NXT has done in months.

 

Sami Zayn vs. Shinsuke Nakamura

This is the match that sold me on writing this little prediction article to begin with! I have only been a Nakamura fan since January 2015, when I watched him and Kota Ibushi put on one of the best matches of ALL of 2015. I have only been a fan of Sami Zayn since February 2014, when I watched him and Cesaro put on one of the most exciting matches of ALL of 2014. Putting these two talents in the same ring is a recipe for success. Zayn’s legacy in building NXT, in helping to make it some of the most intense, compelling wrestling of the past two years, is the perfect counterpart to Shinsuke’s legacy from all around the world, especially in New Japan Pro Wrestling. When he’s on his game, there is no one better on the planet – both as a ring technician and an entertainer – than Mr. Nakamura. Given that this might be the biggest stage he’s ever performed, Shinsuke will bring every part of his soul into this match, and I have no doubts Zayn will be there every step of the way. This match has the potential to not only be the best match on the Takeover card, but the best match professional wrestling fans watch all weekend.

 

Predicted Winner: Shinsuke Nakamura
Reasoning: I truly believe Sami Zayn was chosen for Shinsuke’s debut opponent because he could handle the King of Strong Style’s….style. ? This is going to be brutally hard-hitting, we’re going to get taken on an emotional roller coaster for however long the match is, and the story might just drain us before we even get to the main event. However, Nakamura will come out the victor in this insane battle.

 

The Revival (Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder) (c) vs. American Alpha (Jason Jordan & Chad Gable) – NXT Tag Team Championship Match

When Dash & Wilder first showed up as a tag team, I was NOT impressed. However, over the course of a few months, and especially once they won the NXT Tag Team titles from the Vaudevillains, I’ve become a believer. They aren’t flashy like Big Cass and Enzo, they aren’t characters like Gotch and English, and they certainly don’t have quite the appeal of Jordan and Gable. However, their hard-hitting technique, their focus on getting in, handling their business, and getting out has its own appeal. Jordan and Gable have taken over the NXT Tag Team division. They have meshed as well as just about any tag team I’ve seen in the past three years. They’re fun, they’re charismatic, they’re unbelievably talented, and they epitomize what tag team wrestling is supposed to be. The same can be said for Dash and Dawson (I still have issues with their tag team name, but that’s neither here nor there). I’m going to borrow DC Matthews’ prediction here and say that this match will set the foundation for what tag team wrestling (both NXT *and* the main roster) will look like for the next decade.

 

Predicted Winner: Jordan and Gable
Reasoning: It actually has nothing to do with Jordan and Gable, but all to do with Big Cass and Enzo. If ever there was a time for those boys to start dominating the tag team division as its biggest faces, it was back in August in Brooklyn. However, once Jordan and Gable crashed the party, it was clear NXT Creative was going in a different direction. Jordan and Gable are just now hitting their peak as faces, and beating Dash and Dawson could set both teams up for a feud that could indeed last across NXT and WWE for the next ten years.

 

Bayley (c) vs. Asuka – NXT Women’s Championship Match

Since Sasha Banks, has Bayley faced a more daunting mountain to climb than when she steps into the ring with Japanese sensation Asuka? When Regal announced this match-up, I was pretty surprised. Asuka has been in a pretty steady feud with Dana Brooke and Emma for the past few months, and only just recently started interacting with the current NXT Women’s Champion. I actually thought we’d see Asuka vs. Nia Jax before we saw Asuka competing for the Women’s Championship. However, now that this match *is* happening, I think I’m more excited for this than I was for Bayley’s Iron Man Match against Sasha. Both women bring a level of experience to this match-up that can only make for some of the best in-ring storytelling we’ll see in our lifetime.

Predicted Winner: Bayley
Reasoning: I don’t want to see Bayley on the main roster until there is a spot for her. If she drops the title to Asuka, that tells me she’s headed straight for Monday Night RAW, and I don’t think the other three Horsewomen are quite done telling their story over the Divas Title enough to bring Bayley into the picture. On the same side of that coin, as much as Asuka has been beating the crap out of Dana Brooke and Emma, I don’t think she’s completely ready to be the face of the NXT Women’s Division. Come back in 4-5 months when we’re heading into SummerSlam weekend, and my opinion might change.

 

Finn Bálor (c) vs. Samoa Joe – NXT Championship Match

Samoa Joe and Finn Bálor have been around this business for a LONG, LONG time, and while Bálor might have made his NXT debut first, it didn’t take Joe long to make his way to the main event scene right behind him. Doing quick research for this article, Bálor has been NXT Champion for over 9 months, and Joe has been his most intense opponent in those 9 months. Joe brings an athleticism and level of conditioning to this particular matchup that might actually give Bálor problems tomorrow night. Joe has never been more focused, more determined, in the past few months he’s been locked in this feud, and I think tomorrow night, we’ll see the absolute best Samoa Joe we’ve *ever* seen. It won’t be easy in the least. Then again, anything worth having is worth battling your heart out over, isn’t it?

 

Predicted Winner: Samoa Joe
Reasoning: I want to see Joe vs. Aries on a WWE platform. I want to see Baron Corbin thrown in the mix. I think NXT needs a dominant champion the level of Samoa Joe, and they need a heel champion the level of Samoa Joe. He can work with just about any talent on the NXT roster, and tell stories with his eyes closed. If he doesn’t win, I think this is the last we see of Joe in NXT. Third time’s gotta be a charm, right?

 

So, those are my analyses, predictions, and reasoning! Let me hear your thoughts, friends! What are you most looking forward to on the NXT TakeOver Dallas card? Who steals the show? Who shocks us the most?

One of my favorite parts of my quest to watch all the NWA / WCW PPV’s / Clashes has been discovering (or re-discovering) the seasonally themed PPVs.  WWE has their TLC, their Extreme Rules and the like, and they even have Summer Slam, but that’s about it.  WCW, however, had Spring Stampede, Bash at the Beach, and most importantly for today’s column, Halloween Havoc.  In fact, in my year plus on Twitter, I’ve heard numerous people (Magnum and Moltov chief among them) saying that they wish WWE brought back Halloween Havoc as their October “event”, and I agree wholeheartedly.

Halloween Havoc, for those who missed out on the WCW years, was incredibly corny, but that was what made it fun.  The announcers in costumes, gimmick matches, dark lighting and really campy promos, it was a thing of beauty.  So today, in a return to the DC Diaries (which, I might add, is what got me started as a wrestling writer), let’s take a look at one Havoc in particular, one that I actually would recommend you watch almost from start to finish, Halloween Havoc 1993.  This Havoc features a number of present and, in my opinion, future Hall of Famers, and some great matches.

The Intro

A group of kids, trick or treating, go to the spooky house at the end of the drive, and the scariest monster in all of creation answers the door.  No, its not Frankenstein, nor is it the Wolfman or the Mummy.  It’s . . . It’s . . .

TONY SCHIAVONE!  RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!

Truthfully, Mr. Schiavone does a good job of being creepy, and bad 90’s special effects follow.

We then see Eric Bischoff, who is actually dressed like Custer but to me, he looked like an amalgam of Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant.  Schiavone is dressed as Jesse Ventura, his play by play man, and Ventura is dressed, his words now, as “Bourbon Street’s favorite gynecologist.

If they just played some of the audio from Ventura’s 90’s WCW announcing today, he’d be in as much trouble as Hogan.

Ice Train, Charlie Norris and The Shockmaster vs. Harlem Heat and The Equalizer

I covered the tragic comedy that is The Shockmaster in my last podcast, and hopefully (though I’m not betting on it), you did your NAIborhood homework and watched his debut.  Joining him in “bad gimmicks on parade” is Charlie Norris, the Tatanka ripoff (and possibly the worst wrestler I’ve ever seen), and The Equalizer, a Berzerker rip-off that doesn’t even do that right.

I honestly don’t know what The Equalizer’s gimmick was, and this guy is most famous for being Kevin Sullivan’s “Eugene-esque” brother and huge Hulkamaniac Evad (That’s Dave backwards, friends).

The less said about this match, the better.  The only reason to watch is to see the bad gimmicks, and to see a REALLY young Booker T.  The match almost went 10 minutes, which should have been illegal.

Paul Orndorff vs. Ricky Steamboat

Anytime two Hall of Famers have a match, you know its going to be somewhat good.  Both Orndorff and Steamboat are at the tail end of their careers in this one, yet the match was quite physical and fun to watch.  I don’t recall what the bad blood was between this two, but there are probably more near-falls in this match than in any other one I can recall.  Definitely worth watching.

This match was supposed to be Steamboat vs. Yoshi Kwan, and if you don’t know the name, I’m not surprised.  He was a flash in the pan gimmick in WCW, an “Asian” martial artist sent to take out Cactus Jack during Jack’s feud with Vader (more on that later).  I use quotation marks because Yoshi Kwan’s real name was Christopher Ashford-Smith.   Now I’m not saying WWE has no racial issues at all, but at least they’re not putting white guys in makeup and calling them Asian.  At least, not that I’m aware of. . .

Random Aside:  Ricky Steamboat, to the best of my knowledge, never wrestled as a heel in his entire career, despite having a real name of Richard Blood.  BLOOD!  How did somebody not try to take advantage of that?

Spin The Wheel, Make The Deal

The centerpiece of these early 90’s Havoc’s was the gimmick of Spinning the Wheel and Making the Deal.  If you remember what RAW Roulette was, then this will be eerily familiar.  For the main event matches, there was a giant wheel, onto which were placed the names of gimmick matches.  A wrestler spun the wheel, and whatever match was landed on was the match that took place.  A great idea in theory, and a complete waste of time in practice.

The first of these happened in the previous year’s Havoc, when Sting was feuding with Jake “The Snake” Roberts.  What, you don’t remember Jake having a brief WCW run?  These two fought in a Coal Miner’s Glove match, which was almost too bad to even mention, and considering what I usually wind up talking about, that’s saying something.

Vader spins the wheel for the 93 Havoc, and he and Cactus Jack will be battling in a “Texas Death Match” in our main event.

TV Champion Lord Steven Regal vs. The British Bulldog

Speaking of people whom most might not remember having a WCW run, here’s Davey Boy Smith, who has spent much of 1993 with the Atlanta based promotion.  Since he’s battling Lord Steven, I imagine most of you are expecting me to be completely biased and only talk about how amazing Regal is.

That’s what I expected as well, before the match began.

But, very surprisingly, the Bulldog was INCREDIBLE in this match.  If you’re a fan of chain wrestling / grappling / anything like that, make sure you put the Twitter down for this one, because you’re in for a treat.  Bulldog and Regal had an excellent 15 minute match, ending in a time limit draw, something else you don’t see a whole lot of (in fact, you NEVER see them) in WWE these days.

Besides his match with Bret Hart at Summer Slam 1992, this is probably my favorite Davey Boy singles match now.  If I was doing this in a podcast, it’d be homework, so make sure to check it out.

So What:  Both of these talents are, to me, sure thing Hall of Famers.  I’m not sure when Bulldog and the rest of the Hart clan gets in, but for Regal, its only a matter of time.  That will be a HOF ceremony I make sure to watch.

US Champion Dustin Rhodes vs. “Stunning” Steve Austin

Continuing our streak of 3 excellent singles matches comes this one, featuring one of the greatest wrestlers of the last 20 years. . . And Steve Austin.

I’m kidding, I’m kidding!  They’re both great.

We see a sign that says that Steve Austin is the wrestler of the 90’s, so apparently there was a psychic in the New Orleans arena that night.

This is a match to watch if, for nothing else, just to see these two greats in the early point of their careers.  You can tell that both of them have the potential to be Hall of Famers, and while Goldust isn’t in yet. . . He will be.

For those keeping track at home, that makes 3 singles matches featuring 6 of the best wrestlers in history.  For that alone, make sure to watch this PPV.

Tag Champs 2 Cold Scorpio and Marcus Alexander Bagwell vs. The Nasty Boys

Our run of great matches comes to a screeching halt.  It’s not that this match was bad, because it wasn’t.  It just wasn’t great.  2 Cold and Bagwell, who had only been champions for a week or so, had Teddy Long in their corner for reasons that still defy my understanding, while Knobbs and Sags were joined by Missy Hyatt, “The First Lady of Nasty”.

I seriously think she’s out there solely because in her nasally voice, the word “Nasty” sounds REALLY annoying, so she just says it over and over and over again.

This is worth watching just to watch 2 Cold do his thing - He seriously is one of the main forerunners to Neville, Kalisto and every other high flyer, truly a man that gravity forgot.  Oh, and if you are Shannon Scott, you watch this just to get your Buff fix.  He’s so dreamy. . .

Sting vs. Sid Vicious

Apparently this match was to determine who the true “Franchise” of WCW was, though since Sid has just recently returned from his WWF run, I don’t know why we’re even asking.

It’s Sid in a wrestling ring, so its not like this is must-see.  To be honest, I remember very little about this match.  You won’t hurt my feeling if you skip ahead, especially when you consider what’s up next.

WCW International Champion Rick Rude vs. Ric Flair

OK, I had to have Magnum explain this belt to me, and I’m still not even sure I got it right, so I might need some corrections here.  Let me see if I can sum up.

History Lesson:  Ric Flair left for WWF in 1991, having put down a $25,000 deposit for the “Big Gold Belt”, the NWA title.  Jim Herd, who was running WCW at the time, refused to give him the deposit back, so Flair kept the belt and brought it with him to Stamford, showing up on WWF programming with the title.  Meanwhile, WCW went ahead and created a new championship - the WCW title belt.

When Flair came back to WCW, he still had the NWA title with him, so for a while, there were 2 world championships being defended.  Wanting to focus solely on WCW and not NWA, the Big Gold Belt was renamed the “WCW International Heavyweight Championship”, and was won by Rick Rude back at Fall Brawl 93, if memory serves.

I think that just about covers it.

Rick Rude, another one of those former WWF stars who had a brief run in WCW in the early 90’s, and much like Davey Boy, I think Rude had his best stretch during this period, which is a shame, since he gets injured and forced into retirement soon after this.

Rude owned these WCW crowds.  Truthfully, I may have never heard jeers and booing so loud as when Rick Rude took the microphone.  Plus, his in-ring work was top notch.  He truly deserved to be a “World Champion”, and also deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.

This match, while not as good as their first one, still is excellent and worth watching.  This is a classic match where limbs are worked over and strategy is used.  Remember strategy, friends?

The wheel has been spun, the deal is done, and it’s time for our main event.

WCW Champion Big Van Vader vs. Cactus Jack in a Texas Death Match

OK, the rules of this “Texas Death Match” are some of the most convoluted and silly I’ve ever heard.  It’s essentially a Last Man Standing match, but in this instance, you have to pin your opponent first.  Why?  Who knows?

So you pin your opponent, and THEN there is a 30 second rest period.  When that is over, THEN there is a 10 count, like a traditional LMS match, and if your opponent can’t answer the ten count, you win.   Like I said, silly silly silly.

Despite this, its Cactus Jack and Vader, who are famously known for legitimately beating the hell out of each other during their matches.  This one is no exception, as both men wind up bleeding by the end, and I don’t think it was a blade job.  They fight in the ring, on the ramp, on the floor, in the graveyard area (Is this where the buried alive gimmick came from?), basically everywhere in the actual arena.  It’s an excellent match, right up until the very end.

I try not to provide too many spoilers during these diaries, hoping to leave some excitement for the viewer, but in this case, I feel I can’t hold my tongue.  You have your champion and a guy who has been booked as someone who enjoys pain and can take a lot of punishment, so your ending needs to be unique, while also allowing both talents to save face.  Much the same way WWE will need to treat Brock and Taker at Summer Slam.

Near the end, Harley Race (Vader’s manager) pulls a Taser out of his pocket, going to great lengths to make sure we all know its a Taser (though the announcers don’t name it), by showing the audience the blue electricity running through it.  He then holds it in his hand for 5-10 minutes, until both wrestlers are struggling to answer the 10 count.

Race then reaches up onto the ramp, places the Taser on Cactus’ leg. . . And nothing happens.  I don’t think Jack noticed it was there, so Race had to do it again and growl very loudly before Cactus went down, allowing Vader to pick up the win.

Again, I get they needed to do SOMETHING to keep Cactus as a crazy man while Vader keeps the belt, but this was a pretty lame way to end a brutal brawl of a match, especially one between two Hall of Famers, assuming Vader gets in one of these days.

Conclusions

Obviously, I have some strong opinions on wrestlers missing from the Hall of Fame.  Bulldog, Rude, Regal, Dustin Rhodes and Vader all, in my mind, are “locks”, and I can even make a case for 2 Cold Scorpio and maybe even the Nasty Boys, if I sat and thought about it for a while.

Based on the sheer talent on this card, its worth watching, though I’d certainly skip around a bit to avoid the lowpoints. This is one of the better WCW PPV's I've seen since starting this journey.  I highly recommend it.

Should these talents I mentioned be Hall of Famers?  Should Halloween Havoc rejoin the WWE “Event” rotation?  Be Heard.

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