The year was 1992, and WCW was still going through life without Ric Flair. The first few months were a disaster of course but they managed to rebound pretty nicely when 1991 closed out and moved into 1992. Superbrawl II in February was a good show, and Wrestle War in May saw a successful return of the War Games. Considering that they were competing with a crazy loaded WWF roster, they were doing quite well for themselves here. Which of course means they were going to find some way to shoot themselves in the foot. Enter Bill Watts. Watts, the former owner and president of Mid South Championship Wrestling and the UWF, was put in charge of the company and was known for two things: not paying much and and old school wrestling mentality. And by old school I mean no mats outside the ring for guys to land on and no moves off the top rope. Yeah, moves off the the top rope were now grounds for a disqualification. Never mind that they employed a number of guys who used top rope finishers at the time. Thankfully these guys were good enough to work around that but it was still stupid.
Light Heavyweight Title Match: Brian Pillman (c) vs Scotty Flamingo
Flamingo was also known as Scott Levy, and would undergo a major character revamp a few years later as the bright colors would be replaced by grunge wear and he would become Raven. Pillman had been champ since February when he won the title from Jushin Liger in one of the best show opening matches ever. It was only fitting that on the first pay per view after Watts banned moves off the top rope, the opening match would feature a guy who specialized in aerial tactics. Great move there, Bill. Surprisingly, that didn’t hurt the quality of this match. Pillman was at the peak of his career here and got a good match out of Flamingo, who was just ok. Flamingo wins the match and the title after 17 minutes, which made zero sense at the time.
Ron Simmons vs The Taylor Made Man (Terry Taylor)
Another quasi showcase match for Simmons, who would win the World Title later that year. It was clear that they wanted to do something with Simmons but at this point weren’t sure exactly what. He’d challenged Lex Luger for the title less than a year prior in a match that wasn’t bad, but still had a limited moveset. Taylor was a good opponent for Simmons, as he was great at selling offense and thus made Ron’s power moves look better. Simmons wins with a powerslam after seven minutes. Match wasn’t bad at all.
Marcus Bagwell vs Greg Valentine
Bagwell was of course the future Buff Bagwell of the NWO; at this point he was a rookie, which was a key part of his character as the announcers stressed it often. Valentine was an old hand at this point in his career. Basically Bagwell wrestled a lot of mid and low card guys, winning some and losing some. That was the case here as well. Valentine did most of the work here, and in a true sign of Bagwell’s inexperience he sold injury to the opposite leg of the one Valentine was working over. Valentine would get in his patented figure four leglock for the submission win. Not sure what the point of this match was; Bagwell was a ‘future star’ so having him job clean to an old guy like Valentine on a pay per view show was kinda nonsensical in my opinion.
Sting vs Cactus Jack
This was a Falls Count Anywhere Match, but it wasn’t for Sting’s WCW title. And why it happened this early on the card was beyond me. Wild and crazy match, which of course you expect from Mick Foley. Looking back I find these matches a bit easier to watch than his insane WWE stuff; these were wild without being hard to sit through in spots. Sting wins a very entertaining 11 minute match. That may seem short but it’s about right for an no holds barred brawl like this. The match should have gone on last, though.
Iron Man Match: Ricky Steamboat vs Rick Rude
Great match here. Rude was still US champ, but this match was not for the title. I don’t have a problem with that here because it’s obvious they wanted to get Steamboat a big win but not switch the title, and that freed both guys up to have a better match with a clean finish and no shenanigans. They went eight minutes before the falls started, and they came up with good ways to get each one. Steamboat is always great, and Rude showed just how underrated he was by keeping up. This could have been the show closer also.
Dustin Rhodes, Barry Windham, and Nikita Koloff vs Steve Austin, Arn Anderson and Bobby Eaton
Good match here, everyone got some work in. Perfect way to go after a 30 minute barnburner between Rude and Steamboat. The ending was a wack DQ finish 15 minutes in when Anderson came off the top rope, now illegal thanks to Watts. This was part of the downward spiral for The Dangerous Alliance, the faction that had made WCW interesting at the close of 1991/beginning of 1992. In hindsight they had a pretty brief heyday and probably could have gone a few more months before the cracks started to show, but it looks today like Watts was putting his stamp on things and moving on to the Real Man Wrestling he was installing.
WCW Tag Team Title Match: The Steiner Bros vs Steve Williams and Terry Gordy
Why this went on last is beyond me, unless Watts wanted to showcase ‘his’ kind of wrestling. Three out of the four guys here worked for Watts in the old UWF, after all. It was a good match, but was a methodical kind of affair and after a 30 minute Iron Match with several falls and lots of drama you don’t want another 30 minute match with no falls. If the point was to get these teams together for a match with no winner then I would have cut it in half and had it go to a double DQ. And put it in the middle of the show. But this was Watts baby, with his guys Gordy and Williams coming over from Japan in what was supposed to be a dominant run atop the company that didn’t quite pan out. By October Gordy would be gone and it would be back to the drawing board in the tag team division. Watts’ fingerprints would begin to become more visible after this, and the talent would have to overcome them to put on good shows. His tenure would end in 1993 and had to be considered a personal failure in that his big push of Gordy and Williams did not work out.
Very good show. I had a few issues, namely the choice for the main event and how it and Sting’s match were booked. But beyond that no big problems. Worth a watch on the network.