- How about this for a random choice? A compiled set of all the matches featured on WCW Saturday Night and the Main Event, all leading up to crown a NEW United States Champion at the Great American Bash PPV. Vader, the previous champion, had been stripped of the belt for whatever reasons. I want to say a lack of title defenses, but he probably beat up an authority figure, or something (Note: According to Tony Schiavone, Vader did something nefarious to Dave "Evad" Sullivan, the #1 Hulkamanaiac). It's not like WCW's storylines ever made sense, anyway. Vader was the U.S. Champion but was constantly challenging Hulk Hogan for the World Title, including a ridiculously over-booked piece of garbage at the inaugural Uncensored PPV. Now THERE'S a show that no one wants to sit through ever again.
With that all out of the way, it's time for the Tournament, where the Sixteen most deserving competitors in WCW are set to embark on a championship journey. If it wasn't obvious how much of a roster turn-over WCW had at this point, the tournament is littered with WWF cast-offs that were either deemed washed-up or were just really good friends with Hulk Hogan. Seriously, WCW fans in 1995 must've been WWF fans in 1991, considering the similarities in who was on the active rosters for both.
- Sting vs. Arn Anderson:
Woah, why is THIS an opening round match? Arn isn't what he used to be, but he's still the reigning TV Champion, after all, and Sting... well, Sting had just finished feuding with Big Bubba Rogers, so maybe this isn't such a stretch considering the main event scene had been taken over by Hulk Hogan and his buddies. Lockup to start, and we get a clean break in the corner, although Sting screams in his face. Lockup #2, and Sting throws Anderson to the canvas. Lockup #3, and Arn grabs a headlock. Irish whip, and a shoulder block goes in Sting's favor. Sting grabs a headlock now, followed by another shoulder block. Arn with a boot to the knee and a wristlock applied. Irish whip, and Arn with a shoulder block. Criss-cross sequence, and Sting with a boot to the midsection followed by a bulldog, sending Arn rolling out of the ring. Arn rams Sting to the buckle, but gets caught coming off the ropes, and booted over the top rope. It's not a Disqualification, because Arn went over on momentum rather than deliberate attempt. Back in the ring, and Arn drives a knee to the midsection. Anderson with a snapmare, but Sting blocks a stomp and ear smacks him in honor of the Killer Bees. Lockup into the corner, and Arn drives a series of shoulders to the midsection. Anderson with a snapmare, followed by several knees across the throat. Sting rolls out of the way on a third attempt and goes to work on the left leg, then applies a single-leg Boston Crab. Anderson makes it to the ropes, so Sting goes back to working the leg. Sting with an atomic drop to the knee, a page pulled out of the book of Flair. Sting with mounted punches in the corner (only eight). Sting blocks an atomic drop attempt, but runs into a spinebuster, and now both men are down. Anderson with a series of blows to the midsection, then applies a chinlock. Sting struggles back to his feet and breaks the hold with a jaw buster. Arn quickly comes out of the corner with a clothesline, but that only gets a two count. Sting catches Arn into a body scissors, but Arn turns it into a Boston Crab. Yes, he does use the ropes for leverage, but it seems a little funnier considering the comical way he does it. Irish whip to the corner, WITH AUTHORITY. We get a slugfest, with Sting coming out on top with some chops. Whip to the corner is reversed, but Sting boots Arn coming in. Sting ducks a clothesline, but gets caught with a DDT instead. Arn takes forever to cover, and only gets a two count because of it. Arn stomps away, taking the action out of the ring. He goes for a piledriver, but Sting counters with a back drop. Back in the ring, and Sting comes off the top rope with a splash, but that only gets a two count. Whip to the corner, and it's a Stinger Splash time. Sting goes for it again, but meets an elbow. Anderson heads to the top, but gets slammed off. Sting pounces and applies the Scorpion Death Lock, and it's enough for the submission at 14:20. *** Started out a little slow, but they worked in some pretty good spots and it kept gaining momentum until a pretty strong finish. Not a memorable match or anything, but definitely something to appreciate when you consider some of the other "gems" we'll be seeing throughout this tournament.
- "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan vs. "Stunning" Steve Austin (w/ Col. Robert Parker):
From the April 23rd, 1995 episode of The Main Event. Jim Duggan's tenure in WCW at this point included a reign as... yup, United States Champion, thanks to a 30-second "fluke" win over an unsuspecting... yup, Steve Austin. If Hulk Hogan having pull wasn't an obvious factor in that, then I cannot explain otherwise why a washed up has-been like Duggan won the secondary belt in the company. Austin tries a sneak attack, but gets scared off by the 2x4. Lockup, and Duggan shoves Austin across the ring. Austin with a wristlock, but Duggan quickly counters and tosses Austin into the corner. Most of the match has been Duggan doing his usual nonsense of stomping around like an idiot and chanting U-S-A. Austin grabs a headlock, but again, Duggan powers out and applies an armbar. Austin escapes and rolls out of the ring for another breather. Austin thumbs the eyes and dumps Duggan to the outside. Duggan trips Austin up and wraps his leg around the post in retaliation. Duggan yells at the camera man and punches the knee. Back in the ring, and Duggan misses a charge to the corner. Austin chokes him across the rope, and then Col. Parker chokes him behind the referee's back. The choking continues. Austin with a snapmare, then applies a chinlock. Duggan quickly pops up and escapes with elbows to the midsection, but Austin quickly puts him back down with a running knee. Austin heads to the top rope, but gets caught coming down. Duggan hammers away with rights and lefts. Whip to the corner, and Duggan scoops him up for a slam. Duggan calls for the end, and nails his signature clothesline, but the momentum sends Austin out of the ring. Duggan attacks Parker, allowing Austin to come up on the apron and attack, but Duggan's too smart for him (HA!). Then, in a shitty finish if I've ever seen one, Duggan BACK SUPLEXES Austin back into the ring, but can't get his shoulder up because Col. Parker was holding down his foot, and Austin ends up getting his shoulder up as the three count is made at 7:24. How does holding down the foot keep Duggan from just rolling his shoulder over? It's not like Austin was on top of him, and Duggan needed his legs for added momentum to kick out of a pin attempt. Duggan clearly was in control of the situation and pinned himself, because he's a big, doofy idiot. DUD I wanted to give it a lower rating, but the match wasn't awful enough, I guess. At least the right man advances, even though he looked like crap in the process.
- Marcus Alexander Bagwell vs. Meng (w/ Col. Robert Parker):
From the April 29th, 1995 episode of Saturday Night. Bagwell seems to have the least chances of winning, being half of Stars & Stripes with the Patriot, a tag team with little going for them since dropping the Tag Titles at the end of 1994. You all might know Meng best for his run in the WWF from 1986 through 1992 as Haku. As Meng, he's the silent bodyguard of Col. Parker, and only recently had begun wrestling regularly. Bagwell avoids some crappy martial arts stuff and hammers away. Bagwell with a series of dropkicks, but Meng comes back with a chop to the throat, followed by choking. The referee pulls the hair of Meng to get him off Bagwell, and gets scared out of the ring for his troubles. Bagwell catches Meng off guard with a plancha, but Meng no-sells it and rams Bagwell into the ring apron. Back inside, and Bagwell hammers away with rights and lefts, but fails on a slam attempt. Meng connects with a reverse crescent kick, and that gets the three count at 2:00. 1/2* Short and to the point, I guess.
- "Macho Man" Randy Savage vs. The Butcher:
From the May 6th, 1995 episode of Saturday Night. The Butcher is the Hogan lap-dog formerly known as Brutus Beefcake, in only the third of about fourty terrible and/or forgetable gimmicks thanks to WWF owning the rights to the only name that got him over. Butcher was also calling himself The Man With No Name, so he's working TWO different names that didn't get over. Butcher ambushes Savage and hammers away on him. Butcher with a scoop slam, followed by choking. Irish whip, and Butcher applies a Sleeper Hold. Savage escapes ramming Butcher to the corner and connecting with a jaw breaker. Savage with a running high knee, sending Butcher out of the ring. Savage heads to the top and comes off with a double axehandle. Back in the ring, and Savage with a slam. Savage heads to the top rope, and he nails the Flying Elbow. That's enough for the three count at 2:32. Well, that sure was short. Afterwards, Arn Anderson and Ric Flair storm the ring, but THE RENEGADE cuts them off. Now Vader comes to ringside, but Hulk Hogan runs up and nails him with the championship belt. Slamboree is coming up next week, and the main event will be Savage and Hogan taking on Vader and Flair, so there ya go. 1/2* Short and sweet is always the best route when it comes to Ed Leslie.
- Johnny B. Badd vs. "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff:
From the May 7th, 1995 episode of The Main Event. Orndorff was experiencing new-found confidence thanks to some helpful advice from Gary Spivey, a self-help guru with a brillo-pad for a wig. Sadly, we don't get introductions and miss out on Orndorff's "wonderful" entrance music. Johnny B. Badd was in limbo at this point, doing nothing of note until heading for the WWF by this point the next year. Lockup to start, and Badd applies a wristlock. Orndorff counters, but Badd quickly takes him over with a fireman's carry and applies an armbar. Irish whip, and Badd with a scoop slam, forcing Orndorff out of the ring. Back in the ring, and Badd rolls him up, but they get caught in the ropes. Lockup, and Orndorff with a knee to the midsection, followed by a series of forearms. Irish whip, and Badd comes off the ropes with a cross body, but Orndorff counters for a two count. Badd with a single-leg trip and a step-over toe hold applied. Orndorff fights back to his feet and connects with an enziguri. Badd goes back to the legs and turns Orndorff over into a Boston Crab, but releases it for whatever reason. Orndroff with a drop toe hold, and he hasa silly ankle lock applied, then rams the knee into the canvas. Orndorff continues to work over the leg leg, but Badd grabs the arm and pounds away on it. Badd with a wristlock and then turns it into a step-over armbar. Irish whip, and Orndorff surprises Badd with a small package, but they're in the ropes, again. Whip to the corner, and Badd follows in with a clothesline, but that only gets a two count. Irish whip and a back elbow from Badd for another two count. Orndorff uses the tights to toss Badd out of the ring. Badd with a sunset flip back in, and again it's only enough for two. Badd with a knee lift for another two count. Orndorff avoids a charge, causing Badd to spill out of the ring. Badd with another sunset flip, but Orndorff hooks the ropes, and that gets the three count at 9:21 to advance. *1/2 Not a terrible match, but nothing to write home about, either.
- "Das Wunderkind" Alex Wright vs. Big Bubba Rogers:
From the May 13th, 1995 episode of Saturday Night. Wright was still undefeated at this point, and Big Bubba was just about done feuding with Sting, so this match could go either way. Wright offers a handshake, and gets a slap for his troubles. Rogers shrugs off a lockup and leg sweep attempt, but gets slapped in retaliation, cause Wright's German and he doesn't take anyone's crap. Bubba tosses him into the corner and hammers away with rights. Whip to the corner, and Wright comes back with a dropkick and roll up for a two count. Wright grabs a headlock, taking Rogers to his knees. Irish whip, and Rogers runs Wright over like he was a Hummer. Rogers slaps him around some more, but misses a butt splash. Wright with a series of rights and european uppercuts. Whip to the corner, and Rogers shrugs off a monkey flip. Wright charges back in with shoulders to the midsection, and on the second attempt takes Rogers over. Irish whip is reversed, and Rogers nails a spinebuster. He takes his time to trash talk before making a pin attempt, and eventually gets a two count. Rogers with a series of knees to the back, but Wright surprises him with a crappy small package for a two count. Bubba goes back to work, using choking as his most common hold. Bubba with a Popeye Uppercut for a series of two counts. Bubba applies an abdominal stretch, and yes, he uses the ropes for leverage. Wright (eventually) escapes with a hip toss, but is quickly knocked down with a roundhouse right. Bubba chokes Wright across the middle rope, then does some face pulling. Bubba with a slam, then he heads to the top rope and comes off, missing a splash. That wasn't obvious. Wright fights back with blows to the midsection, followed by more uppercuts. Irish whip is reversed, and Wright takes him over with a sunset flip for a two count. Wright with more uppercuts and a jumping heel kick. Wright heads to the top and nails a missile dropkick for a two count. Wright with a twisting cross body, but Bubba catches him and tosses him over the top rope, drawing a Disqualification at 9:50, and sending Alex Wright into the next round. After the match, Sting rushes the ring and slams Bubba off the top rope, then clears him from the ring. Remember, they wrestle at Slamboree in a Lights Out (No DQ) Match. 3/4* The opening minutes were surprisingly fun, but Bubba's heel heat segment just dragged this to hell, and a cop-out finish really doesn't do much for Wright, especially since this was the only match of the first round NOT to have a decisive finish.
- The Patriot (w/ Marcus Bagwell) vs. Ric Flair (w/ Arn Anderson):
From the May 14th, 1995 episode of The Main Event, and the final 1st Round Match. I take it back about who had the worst odds of winning their match. The Patriot being paired up with Ric Flair makes this probably the most lop-sided in terms of card placement. Lockup into the corner, and Flair gives Patriot a "Woo!". Flair works the arm, but Patriot counters and takes Flair to the canvas. Lockup, and Patriot with a headlock, followed by a shoulder block. Another lockup leads to another shoulder block. Flair grabs a headlock, then goes to a hammerlock, but Patriot counters again. Flair starts working the Patriot over in the corner. Whip to the corner is reversed, and Patriot takes Flair over with a back drop. Patriot with a series of clotheslines, then a whip to the corner sees Flair flip out of the ring. Patriot tosses Flair back in the ring, and Flair immediately plays possum. Flair thumbs him in the eye, then seems to laugh about it, which always makes me smile. Flair with more punishment in the corner, followed by a snapmare and a knee drop. Flair tosses the Patriot out of the ring, then comes off the apron with a double axehandle. Flair continues to work over the Patriot, who is stuck in no-mans land on the apron. Patriot tries a sunset flip back in, but Flair fights it off... then punches the canvas. Patriot with a series of lefts, and Flair retaliates with chops. Guess who wins THAT battle. Whip to the corner and another back drop from the Patriot, followed by a nice looking dropkick, but that only gets a two count. Patriot sets Flair up on the top turnbuckle, and takes him over for a super-plex, but he decides to go to the top rope rather than attempt a cover. Flair is back up and drops him with a nasty chop. Flair to the top now, and yes, he gets slammed off, just like every other time he's attempted that since 1977. Whip to the corner and Patriot floors Flair with a clothesline. Patriot to the top rope again, and he nails a diving shoulder, but he sells a knee injury following the impact. Flair, like a John Tenta smelling blood... applies a sleeper? Patriot escapes with a jaw buster, but Flair goes to the leg and starts jerking the hamstring. Patriot counters a Figure-Four with a small package for a two count. Patriot grabs a headlock, and a shoulder block sees both men go down. Suddenly, Arn Anderson and Marcus Bagwell get in the ring for some chaos, and Arn DDT's the Patriot behind the referee's back as he shows Bagwell his way out. Flair quickly applies the Figure Four, and the referee counts the Patriot's shoulders down at 10:17. ** Decent enough match that picked up after the first few minutes, but I don't understand why Flair needed help to beat the Patriot. Then again, the whole Arn vs. Flair thing built up for Fall Brawl focused on Flair's constant reliance on Arn for all of his matches.
- Flyin' Brian Pillman vs. Meng (w/ Col. Robert Parker):
From the May 21st, 1995 episode of The Main Event, and we're just hours away from Slamboree: The Legends Reunion. Winner of this match gets to face the Stinger in the Semi-Finals. Again, just to keep everything tidy and in sync with the previous match, Pillman beat Bunkhouse Buck without much trouble, and Meng squashed Marcus Bagwell. Pillman suckers Meng with a few dropkicks, but Meng catches a third and throws Pillman down. They trade chops and slaps, with Meng ending the battle with an eye rake. Irish whip, and Pillman tries for a sunset flip, but Meng lifts him up by the throat and tosses him across the ring. Meng with a SICK sounding slap across the chest. Whip to the corner, and Meng meets the feet of Pillman on a charge attempt. Pillman tries hammering on Meng, but it's no sold, and Meng regains control with a bunch of "martial arts" kicks. Meng with some choking, followed by a piledriver (and a beauty!), but that only gets a two count. Pillman goes after the feet, and I hope to GOD Meng did something to his feet before the match as a gag if that was planned in advance. Meng with a slam, but he misses a splash from the second rope. Pillman with several clotheslines, followed by a spinning heel kick, knocking Meng over the top, to the floor. Pillman heads to the top and comes down with a cross body. Whip to the securty rail is reversed, then Meng rams him into the ring post. Meng knocks Pillman off the apron with a crescent kick, knocking him into the security rail in the process. Col. Parker rolls Pillman back into the ring. Meng quickly finishes him off with a tilt-o-whirl backbreaker at 4:40. After the match, Road Warrior Hawk attacks Meng, for whatever unknown reason, then beats the tar out of Col. Parker. This would lead to an UNSCHEDULED SURPRISE BONUS MATCH on the Slamboree PPV. Oh, as for this match, call it about *, just because it didn't suck, but it wasn't very good, either.
- "Macho Man" Randy Savage vs. "Stunning" Steve Austin (w/ Col. Robert Parker):
We're live in Charlotte, NC on the May 27th, 1995 episode of Saturday Night. We're reminded of what happend at Slamboree, where Ric Flair beat the crap out of Savage's father (Angelo Poffo). Just to recap, Savage beat the Butcher, and Austin beat Duggan, to get here. Lockup to start, and Austin gives a slap after a break in the ropes. Savage retaliates with an elbow and some choking across the top rope. Austin rakes the eyes and rams Austin to the buckle. Austin with a series of shoulders to the midsection, followed by some mudhole stomping. Austin tosses Savage out of the ring, and continues to pound away on him. Back in the ring, and Austin takes him over with a snapmare, then drops a knee. Austin to the top rope, but he misses a splash. Savage tosses Austin out of the ring, then rams him into the Slim Jim ring post (as called by Schiavone!). Back in the ring, and Savage plants Austin with a slam. Savage heads to the top rope, and he nails the flying elbow, and that gets the three count at 2:20. What is with Savage winning his matches in such short fashion? Beating Butcher is one thing, but Austin that fast? For shame! 3/4* I enjoyed the intensity, but there wasn't much time to do much else.
- "Das Wunderkind" Alex Wright vs. Ric Flair (w/ Arn Anderson):
The final match of the Quarter-Finals Round, and the winner of this one faces Savage in the Semi-Finals. Wright got past Big Bubba by DQ, and Flair needed Anderson's help to finish off the Patriot, so really, these two had the weakest victories of the opening round, probably (other than Austin, of course). Wright takes Flair to the corner, and they quickly exchange rights and chops, with Wright coming out on top of that exchange, forcing Flair out of the ring for a breather. Lockup, and Wright with a headlock and takeover. Flair takes it to the corner, and we get another exchange of blows. Wright takes control and whips Flair to the corner, then takes him over with a back drop. Whip to the corner again, followed by a monkey flip. Flair begs Wright off and thumbs him in the eye, then thumbs the other eye for good measure. Flair stomps away on Wright, like a flaming bag of dog doo. Wright keeps fighting back, but Flair maintains control. Whip to the corner, and Wright surprises Flair with a dropkick, followed by a hip toss and another dropkick. Wright with a headlock, and a third dropkick sends Flair over the top rope, to the floor. Back in the ring, and Wright goes backc to work with european uppercuts. Whip to the corner, followed by a back drop. Wright heads to the top rope, and connects with a missile dropkick for a two count. Flair catches Wright with a shot to the midsection. Irish whip, and Wright surprises Flair with a back slide for another two count. Irish whip, and a collision puts both men down. Flair heads to the top rope, and you don't need me to tell you what happens to him. Whip to the corner, and Flair flips his way out of the ring, and to the floor again. Wright follows him out, and connects with ANOTHER dropkick. Flair thumbs the eye again and heads back in the ring... then flops comically. Wright with a sunset flip back into the ring, but Flair blocks it and nails Wright between the eyes. Flair with an atomic drop to the knee. Wright retaliates with an enziguri, then applies a single-leg Crab. Flair manages to grab the ropes to break the hold, though. Flair takes Wright over with a headlock, and Wright counters with a head scissors. We get the bridge up and back slide spot from Wright, but that only gets a two count. Irish whip, and Wright connects with a spinning heel kick for another two count. Irish whip, and Wright with a back drop. Wright heads to the top for a cross body, but Savage runs in and tosses Wright out, then attacks Flair for the Disqualification at 9:55. A bunch of scrubs hold Savage back as Arn pulls Flair to safety. The winner of the match... RIC FLAIR?! But Savage attacked Wright first, and deliberately broke up a pin attempt for Wright. Oh well, it's Logic in Wrestling. *3/4 Match was going okay, but I'm knocking a portion off the rating for the retarded logic for the finish. So this means Savage meets Flair in the next round.
Well, in short, the Semi-Finals match between Sting and Meng became the Tournament Finals, thanks to the previous "matches" ramifications and the fact that Savage and Flair were scheduled to wrestle at the Great American Bash, as well. I know the latter part wasn't the reason, I just thought I'd state the obvious. So with that out of the way, let's get to it...
- WCW United States Championship Match; Tournament Finals:
Sting vs. Meng (w/ Col. Robert Parker):
From the 1995 Great American Bash. Sting's path to the gold included Arn Anderson and Paul Orndorff, while Meng had a slightly easier path in the form of Marcus Bagwell and Flyin' Brian. It's a shame Sting was relegated to fighting over the secondary belt thanks to Hogan hogging the spotlight. Meng tries intimidating Sting with his martial arts, Sting fears nobody and they go face-to-face. Meng with a sucker punch, followed by some rapid fire blows in the corner and chops across the back of the neck. Meng uses a choke hold to bring Sting back down to his knees and continues to hammer away. Sting fights back with rights and a dropkick, but that only makes Meng mad. Meng wins a feeling out battle and continues to beat the tar out of Sting with chops and kicks. Sting with a rake of the face and a series of punches, followed by another dropkick. Sting misses a cross-body, but lands on the apron, but then gets knocked off with an elbow from Meng. Meng heads out and whips Sting into the security rail. Back into the ring, and Men with more choking. Meng connects with a sit-out powerbomb, but Sting gets up at a count of two. Meng with a shoulder breaker, but that only gets two, as well. Meng with the TONGAN DEATH GRIP as we're reminded of Sting's rise and falls at the previous Great American Bash events. Meng with a series of knees to the midsection, then he dumps Sting out of the ring, where Col. Parker gets in some cheap shots. Back in the ring, and Meng continues working the neck. Irish whip, and Sting goes for a sunset flip, but Meng blocks and nails a chop to the throat. More Togan death grips. Meng pounds away, but Sting comes back with a desperation shoulder tackle. Sting goes for a back slide, but he ends up flipping over and comes out of the corner with a back elbow from the second rope. Meng heads to the second rope, and he connects with a headbutt, but it only gets two. Meng covers again for another two count. Sting counters a back suplex with a cross body for a two count. Sting with a series of clotheslines, and now he's mad! Sting bounces off the ropes again, and a flying clothesline puts Meng down. Sting with a boot to the midsection followed by a bulldog. Sting connects with an inverted atomic drop, and a diving clothesline takes both men over the top rope, to the floor. Sting pins Meng down and takes a few shots at his almost lifeless body. Sting takes out Parker, and Meng sneaks up on Sting, only to miss a charge into the corner. Back in the ring, and Sting connects with a fist drop square to the jaw. Sting applies the Scorpion Deathlock, but Meng powers his way out of the hold. Sting clips the knee of Meng, then heads to the top rope, coming off with a flying clothesline. Sting goes to the top again, and this time he nails a splash, but that only gets two. Sting with a jumping DDT, and finally, that's enough for the victory and the United States Championship at 13:35. ** Started out a little slow, but picked up at the half-way mark, and the last few minutes were some classic Sting hot spots. I'm pretty sure these two would have a rematch at Bash at the Beach, and put on a pretty good match there, from what I remember.
Final Thoughts: Much like any "Championship" Tournament, especially one held across several television tapings, the match quality and booking for the early rounds was probably non-existant, especially when you consider some of the more random pairings, or in other cases, head-scratching ones. In terms of match quality, only a few matches were what I would consider good, and most of those were standard formula matches from the usual suspects. Throw in a few squash worthy matches and some stupid finishes, and you've got a perfect example of what WCW had to offer in 1995. A Main event level guy fighting over a midcard title, a bunch of WWF cast-off's being pushed for no reason, and a whole lot of nothing else.