We focus on the moments, matches and events that made WCW a serious contender and a force to be reckoned with
Editors note: This article was originally published on February 1, 2008 by Joe L.
Don’t think that I hate WCW (World Championship Wrestling), because I don’t and this article will illustrate why. For every Pinata on a Pole, a young stallion named Booker T won the World Heavyweight Championship. For every Mini-Movie Trinity, there was Ric Flair defeating the monster Vader at Starrcade 1993. There were so many great moments in WCW that deserve to be recognized and it is my goal that the recognition of these moments becomes known.
You’ll notice that this column is missing other worthy candidates and I agree. This column will not cover the pre-1990 WCW because I do not have the great knowledge or time to access them. So if anybody feels outraged about my list, I apologize. Feel free to write your thoughts at the end of the article in the comments section.
Ric Flair Saves WCW
In 1993, WCW was in an all-time low; buy rates and house show revenues bombed big time, paper champions and inexperienced losers got bigger pushes than the hard-working athletes, booking was off the wall, storylines lacked logic and sense and a succession of retarded promotional moves ranging from the 13-month tapings recording debacle to the Unholy Trinity of Mini-Movies to Cactus Jack’s amnesia storyline nearly drove the company to bankruptcy.
Somehow, they survived. Prior to Starrcade 1993, Sid Vicious made his return and was given an immediate main event push to tackle Big Van Vader for the World Title. Unfortunately for Sid, fate reared its ugly head. At England, Sid and Arn Anderson were in an actual brawl and Sid nearly stabbed Arn to death multiple times with a pair of scissors. Afterwards, Sid was fired and Vader had no credible challenger to face. He had already beaten Sting, Cactus Jack, Ron Simmons, British Bulldog and Ricky Steamboat. So WCW did what they would always do in a bad situation: they went back to Ric Flair.
In an emotional storyline, Flair would challenge the champion in exchange of putting his career on the line. With that settled, the Starrcade main event happened and in a brutal brawl in front of Ric Flair’s hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina, Flair clipped Vader’s legs and rolled him up to win the championship. When he won the title, Ric Flair was given a role as head booker where he would push Steve Austin, Sting, Ricky Steamboat and Arn Anderson to semi-main event status and allow Mick Foley to book his own hardcore-style matches that would rank as some of the best in wrestling history.
Although it didn’t save WCW financially since it had lost nearly $20 million due to a series of stupid blunders, it was enough to convince fans to stay loyal to the product as the wrestling quality went through the roof and the rise of promising stars such as Steve Austin and Johnny Badd gave us a better glimpse of hope for the future of the company. As a result, WCW was rejuvenated and ready to embark a new dynasty that secured a golden age in its legacy.
Booker T-Chris Benoit Best of 7 Series
One of the most well-sounded and athletic feuds in WCW’s falling run was a best of seven series between Chris Benoit and Booker T. Coming off his feuds with Raven and Diamond Dallas Page, Benoit was booked in a succession of seven matches against Booker T where the one that wins the most matches would get a title shot at the Television Championship that was won by Fit Finley.
This feud was a fantastic rivalry not only because it gave some of the most intriguing wrestling matches in WCW but it also turned Booker T from a solid tag team performer to a great singles competitor in a matter of two months. Even Booker admits it was the standing point to his career as a singles wrestler. With each wrestler gaining wins over each other on PPV, Nitro and Thunder, the outcome on who would come on top was unpredictable. Their final match was at Great American Bash 1998, which was actually the 8th match between the two since an angle involved Bret Hart seeing partiality against Benoit.
Booker won in a 16-minute ****1/4 classic with a top-rope missile dropkick and became the TV Champion, the first of several titles to come.
Owen Hart Memorial Match
The death of Owen Hart in Kansas City will go down as one of wrestling’s greatest tragedies. Rather it was the right or wrong move for Vince McMahon to continue the show after this is debatable but regardless of what one thinks, Owen Hart did not deserve to lose his life.
Owen Hart was not only an outstanding wrestler but he was considered a great husband, a wonderful father of two children, a likable person in the back and the youngest of Stu and Helen Hart’s children.
It’s worse when you consider that his death occurred by accident during a live WWF PPV while trying to follow the script. It was a miserable time for wrestling fans and nobody close to Owen could ever get over the tragedy.
Saddened by the death of his younger brother, Bret Hart asked Owen’s close friend Chris Benoit to wrestle at Kansas City on a NITRO episode to pay tribute to the “King of Harts”.
Benoit agreed and on October of 1999, after former NWA Heavyweight Champion Harley Race classily introduced both wrestlers to the ring, the two men wrestled in a match that could only be described as a masterpiece. This match had no storylines, no “sports entertainment” garbage, no angle or anything related to a script. It was just two great friends putting out a flawless, competitive, old-school wrestling match in homage to a late great wrestler.
For thirty minutes, Bret and Benoit put on a wrestling clinic not seen since the Dean Malenko vs. Eddie Guerrero battles in ECW and when it was over, the fans gave both men a standing ovation for their outstanding performances. To some, this match is to this day highly (and deservedly) heralded as one of the top five best wrestling matches in WCW history.
AAA and NJPW Wrestlers Join WCW, Cruiserweight Division Emerges
In the early 1990’s, WCW was emerging as a considerable threat against Vince McMahon’s WWF. What better way to for WCW to show their alternative lifestyle than by providing the perfect counterpart to WWF’s big, heavy and strong wrestlers: short, less muscular, high-flying but technically experienced wrestlers.
Although the WCW Light Heavyweight Division had already been around when the likes of Brian Pillman and Jushin “Thunder” Liger feuded with each other in 1991-1992, the Division was greatly popularized when WCW pulled off the coop de grace and signed some of the best wrestlers from Mexican and Japanese promotions in 1994-1995.
Back in 1994, the Mexican promotion AAA had reached its golden year peak with When Worlds Collide, a show that was presented by AAA but promoted in conjunction by WCW. Eric Bischoff may have made a lot of mistakes but he deserves credit in helping AAA securing a show on an American pay-per-view, as this show introduced the high-flying lucha- libres style to American wrestling fans.
Because of its strong reviews and great popularity, wrestlers such as Juventud Guerrera, Rey Mysterio and Psychosis would later go to WCW when the Mexican economy was in a decline. Similarly, NJPW (New Japan Pro Wrestling) had working agreements with WCW and Japanese wrestlers such as Jushin Liger, Koji Kanemoto, Shinijiro Ohtani and Kensuke Sasaki were given a chance to shine in WCW, most notably at Starrcade 1995 in the appropriately titled “When Worlds Collide”.
Although most Japanese wrestlers returned to their home country, the Mexican lucha-libre style and Japanese wrestling intrigued many fans and fans who were grown tired of seeing Mabel, Diesel and Sid Justice turned over to watch NITRO to see these guys perform. At that point, Bischoff had re-established the Light Heavyweight Division and renamed it as the Cruiserweight Division. The Light Heavyweight title had also become the Cruiserweight title. Along with nWo, the Cruiserweight Division was one of the factors in contributing immense popularity to WCW.
Russo Screws Hulk, Booker T Becomes Champion
In an era where a C-list celebrity actor won a World title and Mexican wrestlers competed to grab pinatas on the pole, WCW was going down the shitter faster than dinosaur-sized turds. Throughout Vince Russo’s disastrous booking debacle, every mistake that was made completely diminished the company’s fanbase. A stiff, well-balanced brawler named Mike Awesome becomes a character that chases fat chicks and dons a 70’s-style persona, Goldberg becomes a bad guy in a turn many people saw as a failure, one of WCW’s most prominent leaders Sting is ridicule in retarded gimmick matches that see a stuntman burn on fire, a steroid-inducing Chyna rip-off wins the Cruiserweight title and an ego-ridden jackass who credits himself as the genius behind the Attitude Era gets a win over the “Nature Boy” Ric Flair.
It was the blunders like this that drove WCW out of business. But perhaps the one thing that no one could ever see coming was Vince Russo doing something most employees would never have the guts to do: fire Hulk Hogan on public television.
Hulk Hogan was utilizing his creative control to ensure another World title reign but Vince wanted to keep Jeff Jarrett as the strong champion. So straight out of Halloween Havoc 1999 at Bash at the Beach 2000, Russo ordered Jarrett to lay on his back and have Hulk pressed his foot on top of him for a title reign. Vince Russo came back a couple of matches later, buried Hulk on network television and declared that a new World Champion would be crowned between Jeff Jarrett and Booker T. At the main event, Booker pinned Jarrett to win the title, in what was perhaps the happiest moment in 2000 for WCW. As for Hogan, shoot or work, he never showed up in WCW again.
Hold #2: ARMBAR!
The Paragon of Virtue. Our Role Model. The Victim of Conspiracy. The Man of 1004 Holds. Chris Jericho may be a lame face or a stale heel today but back in WCW in 1998, he was one of the best heels at its time.
He was so funny that if the Rock would have seen his heel promos at that time, he would have eaten his own words. A welcome relief from the stale nWo factions, Jericho proved that little guys can be great bad guys as he provided entertaining moment after entertaining moment such as stealing gimmick items and masks from his defeated opponents, insulting the participants of the Cruiserweight Battle Royal at Slamboree (“Kidman needs a bath”. “He can’t afford a mask, so he’s using paint.” “I don’t even care about this match.” “From El Paso, Mexico”. “You notice this guy’s hat never comes off.” “This guy used to be a great bartender”. I can go on all night.). And of course, insulting Bill Goldberg by claiming to hold a 3-0 record (The midget segment at Fall Brawl was classic stuff) over him.
My personal favorite moment with Chris Jericho was during his feud with Dean Malenko when he beat Marty Jannetty, he had a long, long list to show that he knows more holds than Malenko (Malenko was considered the Man of 1000 Holds but Jericho made fun of him by proclaiming himself the Man of 1004 Holds) and he spent five minutes literally naming these holds such as arm drag, armbar, moss-covered three handed family gredunzal, armbar, jericho screwdriver, armbar, spinning nerve hold, shooting-star stable superplex, armbar.
Today, Jericho’s wrestling career has been hit-or-miss but there was a time when he was the true “Ayatollah of Rock ‘N’ Rollah”. This is it.
Lex Luger Swerves WWF
Probably the defining moment that marked WCW’s entry to the Monday Night Wars was the shocking appearance of Lex Luger, a man who Vince McMahon took at his word of staying with his promotion. When Luger debut at the first night of Monday Night NITRO during a match between Sting and Ric Flair, it sent shockwaves throughout the wrestling industry, the first of many more surprises to come from WCW before dropping the atomic bomb with the formation of the nWo.
The Man They Called Vader
Some of you might know Vader as the guy that fell off the apron on his ass in an episode of RAW but before he became a parody of himself, he was a MONSTER.
Simply put, there was no bigger badass than Big Van Vader. Big, stiff, powerful, muscular, athletic monster from the Rocky Mountains, anyone who got in his way was destroyed and sent to the hospital for his trouble. Vader was a legend in Japan that formed an unstoppable tag team with Bam Bam Bigelow and won every single IWPG title in the country.
When he stepped foot in WCW, he became a monster heel to end all monster heels. Despite his misuse in 1990-1991 due to the incoherent booking and instability of the management, in 1992, he was given a main event feud with Sting for the WCW World Heavyweight title.
From one great match to another, Vader was given an additional manager Harley Race and together, they did everything they could to win the World title, even going as far as breaking Sting’s ribs in the process.
At the Great American Bash 1992, Vader defeated Sting in a hellacious beating after Vader delivered a vicious powerbomb to become the first man to win a World title from 4 countries (United States, Mexico, Austria and Japan).
Vader’s title reign ended in three weeks but his rage grew stronger than ever. No one could escape the Mastadon’s wrath. Vader crippled Ron Simmons’ shoulders, destroyed Nikola Volkov’s neck and broke wrestler Joe Thurman’s back. Vader was once again the World Champion. Vader and Sting were engaged in another series of awesome matches, culminating at Superbrawl III in a strap match where Vader won the match, ending their intense feud for now.
From there on in, the Rocky Mountains Grizzly Bear fought an unknown wrestler named Cactus Jack. Challenged by Mick Foley in early 1993, Vader beat the hell out of Cactus by shattering his nose, pummeling his face with 27 stitches and giving him a concussion. In their rematch, Vader powerbombed Jack on the concrete, which shocked the fans into thinking that he was actually dead.
It spread throughout wrestling fans who even went as far as trying to find Foley’s home phone number to see if he was okay. Mick was put in the notorious “Lost in Cleveland” storyline, where he suffered a bad case of amnesia and then got his title shot at Vader in Halloween Havoc 1993 in a Texas Deathmatch.
One of the great brawls you’ll ever see, Vader defeated Cactus Jack in a hellacious war and moved on to feud with Ric Flair at Starrcade 1993. Despite turning Flair’s face into dog meat, he was toppled at the end. Still, 1992-1993 was the pinnacle of Vader’s career as a professional wrestler going from a dominantly monstrous heel to being one of the most fearful champions WCW ever had.
Outsiders Make an Impact
No WCW’s great moments list can be complete without the impact that Kevin Nash and Scott Hall made in WCW and the wrestling industry in general.
It is easy to poke fun at these men today, given their unfortunate tendencies (Hall’s alcohol problems and Nash’s notoriety of injuring his knee) but no one can deny how much these men contributed to the success of WCW back in 1996.
It was an ordinary NITRO as Sting wrestled Ric Flair when Scott Hall made his presence felt by walking through the crowd and into the ring, telling them he was here to invade under the orders of the WWF executives.
A couple of weeks later, Hall was joined by Kevin Nash as Nash grabbed Bischoff and told WCW that they were not here “to play”, as the slogan states.
Jumping shifts is hardly new today but back then, it was a big deal as Hall and Nash were part of the WWF and their proclamation of an invasion had audiences believe that they were not only actual WWF employees in a WCW show (which was untrue as Nash and Hall were let go of their contracts in Spring 1996) but that their presence had others believe that other WWF wrestlers were leaving that company and joining WCW.
One notorious rumor was that Shawn Michaels was going to WCW and WCW even tried to coax Bret Hart but both stayed, although the latter left for WCW a year later for reasons 99.9% of the wrestling community know.
One notable incident that is stale today but was shocking at the time was when Kevin Nash powerbombed Eric Bischoff off the stage at Great American Bash 1996. The idea of a wrestler physically assaulting a wrestling company owner was rare at the time.
Just witness Roddy Piper accidentally hitting Vince McMahon with a chair in Fall 1991 or Austin stunning Vince at MSG on RAW 1997 and look at how people reacted. These surprising turn of events would serve as a precursor of the heel turn that changed wrestling forever.
Hogan Tells Crowd to Stick It, nWo is born.
1996 was a year of surprises and unexpected moments but nothing could have prepared the world for one of the most legendary heel turns in wrestling history.
Taking place in the aftermath of the Outsiders’ arrival, the two troublemaking invaders from WWF, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall, issued a six-man tag team challenge to Sting, Lex Luger and Randy Savage at the Bash of the Beach 1996, with their mystery partner revealed later that night on PPV.
During the match, the Outsiders injured Lex Luger and Luger was taken to the back. This gave many fans the assumption that the mystery partner was Luger. But out of nowhere, Hulk Hogan made his appearance and fans believed him to take on the Outsiders.
What the fans did not expect was something that would shock the world. Hogan came in the ring and proceeded to legdrop Randy Savage, who was a babyface. Hulk Hogan, turning his back on a babyface?! Hulk Hogan a heel? Many fans could not believe it and the ring was littered with so much recluse, it made the Staten Island Dump look tame.
Hogan shot back at the fans, told them to stick it and that he and the Outsiders were the New World Order of wrestling, brother. This was the peak of the nWo angle and it helped propel WCW from a number-two company to the hottest promotion of the late 1990’s. If the Outsiders’ invasion was the manifesto, then Hogan’s heel turn was the revolution itself.
Cactus Jack vs. Nasty Boyz
Before Hogan and his friends polluted the WCW main events and before ECW started the Revolution, WCW was a fresh product that had quality wrestling, solid storylines and fast-paced but still coherent and welcomingly original booking that was a contrast to the cartoonish, kiddie-like product of the World Wrestling Federation.
Enter freshness in the form of the infamous Tag Team title brawls between Foley and Nasty Boyz. After Cactus Jack had lost his shot at the WCW World title against Big Van Vader, Foley was given free rein to book his own hardcore matches. Foley had the decency to give us two of the greatest matches in WCW, two matches that set the template for the countless ECW brawls that have often imitated them but never surpassed them in terms of emotional impact and intensity.
The first match took place at Spring Stampede 1994 as Cactus Jack teamed up with Maxx Payne and the second match when Cactus Jack teamed up with Kevin Sullivan took place at Slamboree 1994 the following month.
Both these matches involve the Nasty Boyz and the Tag Team Championships, which made the brawls more meaningful. Both these matches showed how certain tag teams could adapt to a style that disguises their weakness. Both these matches featured little wrestling but intense brawling, where each weapon shot actually connected and nothing was blocked. Everything was used in these two matches: souvenir stands, shovels, tables, chairs, clubs, crutches, fire extinguishers, hockey sticks, trashcans. It was chaos, a mess, a full-fledged disaster. But it was revolutionary because no company, not even ECW or WCW, had ever attempted to do matches like these before.
It is a testament to the strengths of Public Enemy, Sullivan, Payne and Foley that these matches became influential classics in their own right. Simply put, without these matches, there’d be no TLC matches, no Hardcore title matches and numerous ECW tag teams such as Public Enemy, The Gangstas and The Pitbulls would be unable to wrestle a type of match that disguises their weaknesses in the ring. If you think ECW brawls are cool, check these out instead. You’d think Heyman, not Bischoff was in charge here.
Arn Anderson’s Farewell Speech
Arn Anderson did not deserve to be injured or have his wrestling career cut short. He was a phenomenal interviewee, an old-school technician and a man you’d want to look at as an inspiration and a man that could turn young guns into high-caliber athletes making statements. Anderson could still be wrestling in tag matches with Flair as of this day. But an accident in vertebrae surgery prevented all that.
When he was fused his fifth, sixth and seventh vertebrae, it had gotten so bad that four vertebrae had to be removed. It caused a paralysis in his left hand that became so weak he couldn’t even change channels on the remote. It was heartbreaking from a guy that loved the business for wrestling, as opposed to others that loved it for money. It became even more so during his retirement speech in late 1997, declaring his resignation from the Horsemen.
He gave a sad story of a man that innocently slapped him on the back when he was in pain one day in a gym. He said that regardless if they hated or loved him, the audience knew he gave his all and everything he had and showed the Four Horsemen sign as a token of appreciation from those that respected him. He relinquished his spot from the Horsemen and gave it Curt Henning, who declared “It would be an honor”.
It was moments like this that made you feel good to be a wrestling fan, regardless how polluted the morale in the company was. And despite what was to come (Henning turned on Horsemen at Fall Brawl 1997), the fact that it still sticks into our mind will forever be a moment that is considered to be even more than great.
Brian Pillman Respects Kevin Sullivan
Many gimmicks drew ire and intrigue from many wrestling fans but few were as controversial as Brian Pillman’s Loose Cannon gimmick. Strange, unpredictable and uncontrollable, The “Loose Cannon” Brian Pillman set the wrestling world with a series of worked shoots that blurred the distinctions of reality and fiction.
One of the most notorious worked shoot incidents took place at Superbrawl VI 1996 as Pillman faced Kevin Sullivan in an “I Respect You Strap Match”. The only way to end this match was for a wrestler to force his opponent to say “I Respect You”, similar to “I Quit”.
Sullivan could not have predicted Pillman’s actions in the ring. Flying Brian took the mic and told Sullivan to his face: “I respect you, booker man” and left the ring. This gained notoriety because Kevin Sullivan was a booker at the time and the Internet had yet to achieve exposure and popularity. Another infamous event took place at an episode of “Clash at the Champions” when Pillman tortured color commentator Brian Heenan by choking him by the collar, prompting the disgruntled commentator to scream “What the fuck are you doing? On air.
Because his “loose cannon” gimmick was becoming effective, Brian adopted it backstage as well, confusing wrestlers and fans alike. It worked so much that Bischoff even fired Pillman so that he could go develop his gimmick in other organizations.
Unfortunately for Bischoff, Pillman had no intention of returning to WCW. Despite this, Pillman’s “loose cannon” gimmick was important in showing how WCW was willing to push the envelope at a time in an era of Doink the Clown, Duke “The Dumpster” Drose and evil foreigners.
Lenny and Lodi are Brothers
Move over Billy & Chuck and meet the original ambiguously gay duo. The odd team of Lenny Lane and Brad Cain had teamed before and were even deemed as brothers. But none of their team gimmicks were as successful and eye-brow-raising as the West Hollywood Blondes. A take-off of the original “Hollywood Blondes, Lenny and Lodi were a controversial tag team even by the Attitude Era standard.
They would be seen wearing glitter, licking lollipop, donning long, blonde hair, performing feminine taunts (Like the “talk to the hand” gesture), showing signs like “Lenny All Over Me” and “About My Diet” and hugging each other.
Their double-team moves were questionable to say the least (check out the crossbody/suplex combo). Imagine a cross between Chris Jericho, Cyndi Lauper and Bob George. This was something no one from either WWF or WCW had attempted before and this is from two companies that made fun of corporations, religion, dead people and foreign countries. That is what made the gimmick worked: it may have been controversial but it was fresh and it garnered strong heat for this team. It worked so much that it would have you believing that these two men were actually gay in real life.
It was a fun moment for several months before Turner Standards & Practices brought it to a complete halt and Lenny and Lodi returned as parodies of that television department. Lenny and Lodi would never reach success again like they did here.
Goldberg Goes for the Title
Goldberg was promoted as an unstoppable monster that squashed opponents in his path. It’s easy to judge his ego and somewhat sloppy wrestling skills (I have done it many times) but there was no dismissing the fan reaction he would receive each time and WCW for once did not screw this one.
The climax of Goldberg’s popularity took place in the Georgia Dome where he challenged Hollywood Hogan for the World title after beating Scott Hall. One of the hottest crowds in history, these fans wanted nothing more than to see Hogan lose his title and just go away.
The match was horrible but the fans made it an unforgettable event and when Goldberg pinned Hogan clean 1-2-3, the audience erupted in a frenzy the likes of which not seen since Rick Steiner’s dramatic victory over Mike Rotunda during the Varsity Club split angle.
Rick Rude on Both Sides of the Fence
In the aftermath of the Montreal Screwjob, many people feared the worse for the WWF. Backstage morale was in an all-time low and everyone predicted death in Vince McMahon’s company. With that in mind, WCW took this opportunity to verbally bury and heckle the WWF in every single method, rather it’s Eric Bischoff coming out and cut promos on how WCW score a better rating or signing Bret Hart to a $3 million contract to shove it in Vince’s face.
While that didn’t work, one controversial event that saw WCW try to make a point was the late great Rick Rude appearing on both RAW and NITRO simultaneously. RAW was still taped in advance in the aftermath of the Screwjob where Rick Rude introduced Degeneration X.
Then moments later, Rick Rude showed up on NITRO with the nWo and publicly declared Vince McMahon’s actions at Survivor Series PPV as wrong and unjustifiable. It was one of the last shocking moments during the nWo era.
“We Want Flair! We Want Flair!”
Despite the back injuries, the criticism of being past his prime and his formulaic move set today, there is no denying that Ric Flair was the man. Even as the most hated heel in a company didn’t distract the respect and admiration from many fans and wrestlers in what he brought in the ring or on the mic.
That level of respect helped Flair survived the worst moments of his professional life, as well as some colossal blunders made by WCW; case in point, the notorious Great American Bash 1991, where Flair was supposed to drop the title to Lex Luger but was fired by Jim Herd.
It pissed off the crowd so much that during the horrible PPV where Barry Windham became Flair’s replacement, the audience screamed “We Want Flair!” “We Want Flair!”, thus not caring about the match that’s taking place but wanting to see the most hated heel in the company.
The announcers tried to dodge these chants throughout the entire year but the crowd was so obsessed in wanting him to return that WCW had no other choice but to bring back Ric Flair, after the Nature Boy decided to stop working for WWF at that time.
“We Want Flair” became common place in 1998 after Eric Bischoff sued Ric Flair and tried to get him to file for bankruptcy. When Flair was out, the crowds were so hostile that they chanted the same sentence in every WCW pay-per-view before Flair finally made his return in September of 1998 to a deafening roar.
Despite what the management says in trying to rid us of Flair, as long as fans chant his name from the top of their lungs, there is no way that the Nature Boy will ever go away.
Rey Mysterio: Human Dart
One of my favorite nWo moments occurred on one Monday Night NITRO evening when The Outsiders were attacking Arn Anderson, the American Males and Rey Mysterio outside the building.
The highlight was Mysterio going for a crossbody but Nash caught him and threw him headfirst into a wall like a dart. This was so shocking that some people thought this was actually a legitimate fight and called the cops.
At the time, the nWo were becoming the hottest thing in wrestling. This moment shows why that was the case.
Chris Benoit vs. Kevin Sullivan
Perhaps no other feud captured as much hatred and intensity from in and out of the ring than between Chris Benoit, representative of the Four Horsemen vs. Kevin Sullivan, representative of the Dungeon of Doom.
Sullivan, who was then a primary booker, decided to push himself in a feud with Benoit with a one-side issue: that Benoit was having an affair with Kevin’s wife Nancy. Life imitated art, however, Benoit was actually indeed having an affair with Kevin’s wife.
The tensions between these two were so thick that you could cut it with a proverbial knife. At around the same time (in storyline), Pillman had left the Horsemen due to his “respect” for Sullivan (read #14) and Sullivan (then called the Taskmaster, no relation to the ill-fated Shockmaster) tried to recruit Arn Anderson to be the member of his forgettable “Dungeon of Doom” stable.
Benoit took Pillman’s place and had a succession of brawls between himself and the Taskmaster. Their greatest bout took place at the Great American Bash of 1996 in a falls-count-anywhere bout.
Benoit and Sullivan hammered each other in the crowd, near the entrance and in the male restroom (Dusty Rhodes: “There’s a lady in the man’s bathroom”.) where they bash each other in commodes and bathroom doors. Back out, Benoit and Sullivan attempted to put themselves through a table that doesn’t break. In the end, Benoit wins with a top-rope superplex with the table used as a platform.
But what follows is a classic moment: Benoit beats down Sullivan and Arn Anderson tries to stop him. Instead Arn and Benoit team together to pound the Taskmaster that blows the roof of the building. The HORSEMEN RIDE AGAIN!! An incredible bout, an unforgettable post-match moment and the best match Kevin Sullivan will ever be in without anything involving Mick Foley.
Spring Stampede 1999
In a horrible 1999, WCW became the target of butt-jokes throughout the world with a stale nWo storyline, Master P declaring war on country music, Ric Flair becoming a mental patient in a psychiatric ward, Hogan returning to his brown-stained red-and-yellow gimmick and the release of Chris Jericho, Raven and the Giant that angered many wrestling fans. But despite all the crap that they deuced on themselves, they still provided one of their finest PPV outings in the spring with Spring Stampede.
A wrestling-oriented bonanza that featured two of the year’s best matches (Benoit/Malenko v. Raven/Saturn in an awesome Tag title match and Juventud Guerrera/Blitzkreig) and solid midcard action from the Steiners, Booker, Filthy Animals and Goldberg and Nash of all people (!!), Stampede showed just how good WCW was if they took themselves seriously.
The main event was surprisingly good in itself, with Hogan v. Flair v. Sting v. DDP, which included Hogan injuring his knee that delighted many anti-Hogan fans who predicted another World title reign for the Orange Goblin.
In a swerve, Randy Savage dropped the “career-killing” elbow on Flair for DDP to win a title. While the booking is a perplexing, DDP’s title win was one of the unexpected surprises in the early 1999 that many people talked about.
Of course, his title reign flopped but it was still a shocking moment that took all of us by surprise. Despite the ending, the PPV was nevertheless praised as the best of 1999, in a year that gave us some of the biggest turdburgers from both sides of the fence.
Bischoff Loses His Job
Instant karma IS going to get you. From his days as an executive to being the self-proclaimed owner of Ted Turner’s company, Eric Bischoff’s ego trip surged off the charts. His pleasure of burying talented wrestlers and hard-working athletes in exchange for a bunch of over-aged, crippled, self-centered has-beens was evident, his jealousy for Ric Flair and the Horsemen even more so, his conveying to the whims of Hulk Hogan and Kevin Nash that show his love for the money rather than roster.
Eric Bischoff was the most intolerable and obnoxious human being in the wrestling industry that couldn’t be toppled, regardless of how many Ric Flair interviews that were cut against him and regardless of how many wrestlers left because of him. The more his ego grew, the more the revenues started to sink.
It was at that moment that the management saw what was happening at last and after wrestlers voiced so many complaints, Eric Bischoff was publicly fired by the WCW executive vice president Bill Busch and gone for good. Thus there was rejoicing.
With Bischoff gone, without any dim-witted bookers manipulated, it seemed all was right for the world. We had several good wrestling matches and a ***** encounter between Bret-Benoit at NITRO, that gave us hope for a better future. Vince Russo came in and that future was gone.
Written by Joe L. (February 1, 2008)