Thursday, June 14, 2007

WCW Television (01.01.1993 - 10.01.1993)

A while back I picked up a set of Clash Of The Champions discs from a trader on, and along with that picked up seven unlabelled DVDs of WCW TV from early 1993. They appear to each be 90 minutes worth of all the marquee (non-jobber) matches from the weekly shows and I said a while back I'd review these so here's a few thoughts on the first disc.

Erik Watts vs. Bobby Eaton

Ever wondered what five minutes of Erik Watts looking like a competent wrestler would look like? No? Well, thanks to dependable Bobby Eaton, here it is! Watts' STF looks every bit as piss-weak as John Cena's though.

Dustin Rhodes vs. Danny Spivey

Didn't really hold my attention to be honest, a broken down Spivey and a perceptively overpushed Rhodes. It's not that I don't like Rhodes, it's just that at this point in his career it felt like he was being pushed above his level based on his surname rather than any advancements he'd made in the ring.

Throughout 1991 and 1992 Rhodes had shown he could have good singles matches with Steve Austin on the undercard and could more than hold his own in uppercard tag team matches with and against the likes of Ricky Steamboat, Barry Windham, Arn Anderson, Bobby Eaton, Larry Zbyszko, Steve Austin and others.

But come 1993, elevated to the United States title position in major singles matches towards the top of the card and palling around with the likes of Sting, Rhodes failed to live up to his expectations in poor matches with Maxx Payne and a bitterly disappointing series with Ravishing Rick Rude which included a 30-minute Iron Man match at that year's Beach Blast pay-per-view which had no chance of living up to the standards of the previous Beach Blast Iron Man match pitting Rude against perennial rival Ricky Steamboat.

As for this match, it was fairly uninspiring but gone in about five minutes anyway. Next.

Ricky Steamboat & Shane Douglas vs. Barry Windham & Brian Pillman

Now we're talking! A rematch from what I always thought was a really good match between these teams at Starrcade '92 and this was every bit as good as that, if not more. It's kind of a shame Windham and Pillman were seperated as a team so quickly as they looked on course to take tag team wrestling by storm in 1993 before directions were changed and Windham ended up with the NWA World Title whilst Pillman with nothing to do was thrown into another makeshift team with Stunning Steve Austin, a pairing which was even better than this one with Windham. More on them later though.

Anyway, this was real good and probably the best match on this first disc clocking in at about 15 minutes, and if it wasn't 14 years later, I'd have probably bought into the potential of a title change taking place. Probably about ***1/2 - ***3/4 if you're into that sort of thing, and just a tremendous match for free TV.

Ricky Steamboat & Shane Douglas vs. Big Van Vader & Ravishing Rick Rude

More Steamboat & Douglas suits me, and how can you not love Vader & Rick Rude? And therin lies the problem as this one doesn't really live up to it's 'on paper' status of being ungodly great. It does make me yearn for a Steamboat-Vader singles match though, with Vader's killing prowess and Steamboat's superselling. Actually, it'd probably be a bit like that Vader-Shawn Michaels match just without the massive temper tantrums. In fact, I'd be pretty into seeing Shane Douglas take on Vader too, or Rick Rude for that matter. Remember when Rude wanted to "fuck with The Franchise"? Good times man, good times.

Decent to good match here anyway but nothing bollock-bustingly awesome or anything.

The Vegas Connection (Diamond Dallas Page & Vinnie Vegas) vs. The Texas Hangmen (Tex Slazenger & Shanghai Pierce)

You know, in another reality this is The Insiders vs. The Godwinns. As it is, this is a Battle Of The Bullies which is WCW Saturday Night kayfabe for heel vs. heel, although Tex does appear to have three very vocal fans who've brought along some huge banners displaying their support. I love the old school tapes where you get fans unabashedly cheering for the bad guys before such a thing was 'hip' and considered commonplace.

Somewhat unexpectedly, this is a lot of fun as sleazy DDP winds up taking the heat and the fans get into it not by cheering who they like and booing who they don't, but just making random noises every time someone takes a bump. Whacky~! Nash then gets the hot tag which honestly had me on the edge of my seat. I guess I just wanted to see the big guy cream the Texicans but it ended up breaking down in a pier sixer with one of the Hangmen living up to his name and dangling DDP over the top rope with his lasoo (a'la Repo Man and Davey Boy Smith) before Nash waffles him in the head with a steel chair to a big pop and the referee throws the whole thing out. Really fun while it lasted, and it'd probably be the best match here if not for that previous Steamboat/Douglas-Windham/Pillman effort.

And as an aside, in 1993 could you have guessed that half of this match would end up holding World singles titles? You never know!

Dustin Rhodes vs. Tony Atlas

More mediocre Dustin Rhodes here although to be fair, Tony Atlas was well past his prime. Skip it.

Ricky Steamboat vs. Barry Windham

More Steamboat~! More Windham~! More good fun~! In fact, this might be the best match on the tape now that I think about it, just a great long match that started a little slow but had me completely engrossed by the time they approached the finish line. Steve Austin and Brian Pillman end up on the outside brawling with Shane Douglas and Dustin Rhodes, but alas the six-man tag that everyone was expecting fails to materialise and isn't even announced for next week because they're already promoting the US Title tournament final between Steamboat and Rhodes. Bah, humbug.

Dustin Rhodes vs. Barry Windham

The best of the three Dustin matches on offer but I was always a little bit let-down by the Windham-Rhodes blow-offs. Given the way they lost the unified tag team titles and the kick-ass break-up which followed, I'd have expected a few bloody, all-out fist fights and Dusting juicing like the ghost of his old man to settle things, but they usually just came out with the sort of too short, pedestrian fights you'd expect between two undercard guys feuding over the Television title rather than a betrayl of former tag team titlists. Pretty solid, but not what I wanted.

Cactus Jack vs. Paul Orndorff

And we end things on disc one with this set-up for the upcoming Clash Of The Champions with the premise being that Vader's team (Vader, Barry Windham and Barbarian) are looking to add another super-tough guy to their team to take on Sting, Dustin Rhodes & Ron Simmons in Thundercage so Harley Race set-up this match pitting the increasingly popular Cactus Jack against one-shot deal Paul Orndorff. It's pretty decent stuff (aside from a few technical difficulties with the disc) around the level of their SuperBrawl III grudge match. Cactus ends up getting too pushy with Race on the outside so Vader attacks him from behind to officially turn Cactus face and set up their feud which ran all the way to the end of the year and included a couple of pretty famous match-ups.

And that's it!

Summary: This is great stuff, and there's six more volumes to come. More Steamboat~! More Windham~! Plus, The motherfucking Hollywood Blonds~! I can't wait.


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