Justin C Watches WCW Starrcade 1999

We are right in the heart of Russo Land in WCW. This show would be one of the nails in the coffin for Russo’s first run in the Company. The buyrate was the worst in Starrcade’s history. And how can you blame people for not buying this? They butchered the build to what should have been a dream match between Bret Hart and Goldberg. Every other storyline written for the show was awful. I couldn’t tell you one match I’m actually looking forward to. The Nitros leading up to this have all been awful.

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The Montreal Screwjob: 20 Years Later

Wrestling is really starting to make me feel old. Last year it was twenty years since the formation of the nWo in WCW. This year it is twenty years since the most real life, off the script incident to ever take place inside the wrestling ring: The Montreal Screwjob.

If you are reading this site, you know the history of what happened in Montreal. Bret Hart signed a lucrative 20 year deal with the WWF one year earlier. Bret was to wrestle then take a backstage position with the company once his wrestling career was over. By the summer of 1997, Vince McMahon was already having buyer’s remorse. The company was facing money problems and  Vince didn’t think he could afford to pay Bret anymore. In addition, by the summer of 1997 it was becoming more obvious that the WWF was moving towards a more edgier product. Bret wasn’t the biggest fan of that. It also started to become clear to Bret that Shawn Michaels was Vince’s next chosen star.

All of this added up to Vince letting Bret Hart begin negotiations with WCW. But the problem? Bret was still the WWF Champion, and Vince McMahon had to find a way to get the Title off him. And that is where the drama kicks into high gear.

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5 Questions: WWE TLC 2017 (Shield, Sister Abigail, Cruiserweights, Asuka)

{Editor’s Note: This was written before the card changes Friday night. Look after the original article for the author’s additional thoughts on the changes.}

 

1 – Can The Shield create the same magic 5 years later?

Five years ago, 3 “stars” from FCW appeared at WWE Survivor Series during a WWE Championship match to powerbomb Ryback through the announce table. The former Tyler Black, Jon Moxley and Leakee weren’t just rookies on the main WWE roster, they were practically unknown to the majority of the audience. To say the trio made an impact on their debut would be an understatement and they followed this debut up with one of the most impressive stable runs of the modern era. They defeated teams consisting of Randy Orton, Batista, Daniel Bryan, John Cena, Triple H and even The Undertaker. And it all started at TLC 2012 in a match against Ryback and Team Hell No (Kane and Daniel Bryan). Five years on and these 3 “rookies” are three of the biggest names in the sport. Reigns and Rollins are both multi-time World Champions with Ambrose have one World title win as well. The reunion has been well received and interest in their return match together is high but will it deliver? When they won their debut match at TLC in 2012, it was a surprised and it was looked at as a good start for 3 fresh stars. Now they are in a match with The Miz, Sheamus, Cesaro, Braun Strowman and Kane. Not the top stars of the company and not fresh, budding talent. It’s a match that just seems to be… there. We will see Sunday if the nostalgia of The Shield reunion can carry through a TLC match or if it will die as soon as their entrance through the packed Target Center is over.

2 – Will the “Sister Abigail” character work?

Bray Wyatt is a unique character that has worked since its debut. What was once looked at as a Waylon Mercy rehash has outperformed many people’s expectations, even becoming a World Champion. And since the beginning there’s always been that dangling carrot of when will we finally see the infamous “Sister Abigail”. Who will play her? What would she look like? For awhile, I even pegged an unknown Alexa Bliss to play the role. But instead, in a peculiar twist, Bray Wyatt himself will play the Abigail role. Now, plainly speaking, I want this to work. Wyatt has needed a new dynamic to his character and this would do the trick. But will it come across creepy and goosebump-inducing? Or groan-inducing? This can go wrong in so many ways that I truly hope they (WWE & Wyatt) have something truly special planned.

3 – Will Asuka be used correctly on the main roster?

It is finally Asuka’s turn in the harsh spotlight of WWE’s main roster. She’s already proven to be a force for the women’s division and for women’s wrestling in general but will she continue on the same pace every Monday night? While it appears to be a no-brainer to let the undefeated Empress run roughshod over much of the roster, that can lead to problems as well. One can hope that the recent bookings of Goldberg, Brock Lesnar and Braun Strowman have proven that monsters can be unstoppable in today’s WWE, former NXT standouts The Ascension prove otherwise.

4 – Can the Cruiserweights deliver on PPV?

The Cruiserweights have three segments booked for the PPV/Kickoff show. A tag team match, a championship match and… a PowerPoint segment. MS Office product placement aside, this shows character development for the oft-forgot about Cruiserweights and is providing 7 different men the opportunity to show the WWE audience why they should care about the division. While other factors like TV time limits may still come into play, the ball is largely in the court of Gulak, Kendrick, Gallagher, Swann, Alexander, Kalisto and Amore.

5 – Is RAW still better than SmackDown?

While it may be coming off of one of the worst viewership ratings in recent history, creatively and match quality-wise, SmackDown has reached a peak. Hell in a Cell was a massive success and the core of the SmackDown roster is one of the best we’ve seen in years. But the blue brand still plays a supporting role to the flagship Monday Night RAW. Sunday is a perfect place for the Superstars of RAW to prove why. Every star (except Brock Lesnar) is booked on one of the most talked about gimmick PPVs of the year. The Shield, the most popular WWE stable of the current generation, has reunited while the most dominant woman in professional wrestling is debut at the big dance. The time is right and stage is set for RAW to solidify its place as the best and biggest show WWE has to offer. Yet, I don’t see it happening.

 

LAST MINUTE CARD CHANGE QUESTIONS

  • Why is Kurt Angle’s first WWE match in 10 years in an unpromoted, multi-man match with no storyline?
    • Kurt Angle is a WWE Hall of Famer and one of the greatest in-ring performers in history. His return to the WWE earlier this year was a huge deal and an amazing moment for fans. His first time competing in a WWE ring should have been built for months, culminating in a WrestleMania worthy match against an opponent who compliments the Olympic Hero’s style. Instead he’s been pegged as a last-minute replacement for Roman Reigns in what was supposed to be a Shield reunion. Why? No one knows. Angle wasn’t even with the company when The Shield was active and except for one segment last week, has never interacted with them at all. There’s no logical sense for Angle to be in this match and while I understand WWE needing a big name for Roman’s replacement, I think most people will be scratching their heads rather than appaulding this decision.

 

  • Will Finn Balor versus AJ Styles be the Match of the Year?
    • Hear me out… AJ Styles and Finn Balor are two of the most popular wrestlers in the world today. They are also two of the best performers inside the ring as well. A match between these two men is huge and could have been big business with the right promotion and storyline. We didn’t get that but we are in a different scenario that may prove magical. The WWE is scrambling and need to fill a PPV card when some of their top stars are unavailable. To do that, they’ve tapped two of their best and have said to go out and entertain. Styles and Balor don’t need a story to put on an amazing match and now, unlike Styles’ matches with Kevin Owens, they won’t be burdened with trying to tell a WWE story. All they have been tasked to do is be the best in the world and I truly believe we will see something special Sunday night.

Justin C Watches WCW Mayhem 1999

I’ve been making my way through the first Vince Russo Era in WCW. And let me tell you, it is awful. I could count the number of things I like on one hand, and I could still do it even if I had three of my fingers blown off. How anyone can defend any of Russo’s shit on Twitter nowadays is beyond me. What is there to like? Wrestling is non-existent. Matches are kept short and have constant interference, even more so than previous WCW. Women are objectified to nothing but sex objects (a byproduct of that era). Constant backstage segments and quick cuts that look like shit. Oh and he decided to push Jeff Jarrett to the moon.

This PPV is awful. Don’t watch it. Just read my review of it.

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Hell In A Cell 2017 Odds & Predictions

 

Bobby Roode vs. Dolph Ziggler

Dolph Ziggler is trying so hard to make something work that just isn’t working. I know he’s at the point in his career where something needs to click or he’s better off perusing another line of work but this isn’t it. It’s a horrible situation because Ziggler truly is one of the best in-ring performers of this generation. That said, this is former NXT Champion Bobby Roode’s first feud on the main roster. Look for him to come away with a clean win after a stellar match.

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Justin C Watches WCW Halloween Havoc 1999

And I’m here. The first PPV of the Vince Russo Era. And boy is it a bad one. If you watch the Nitro before this show, you can tell Vince Russo has fully taken over:

-There are more backstage segments and interviews on this show then on every other Nitro before this combined. And most of the cuts have awful transitions.

-Women are being objectified. Kimberly is used to seduce David Flair. There is also an evening gown match.

-Buff Bagwell REFUSES TO FOLLOW THE SCRIPT BRO. He intentionally loses to La Parka then takes the mic and asks Russo if he did a good job.

-And to make matters worse, Jeff Jarrett debuts.

The expectations are already low going in. This is going to be a shit show.

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JC’s Top Rope Report: Sometimes The WWE Still Gets It Right

We all know it. As wrestling fans, especially fans of the WWE, it has been a struggle over the last couple years. RAW becomes tired some to watch at times. I actually fell asleep during the main event of RAW this past Monday. I can’t remember the last time I did that. Trying to sit through three hours of RAW, then two hours of Smackdown Live, then maybe NXT and 205 Live along with a three hour PPV is a lot of damn TV.

And the WWE isn’t making it any easier with some of the storylines they put out every week. How sick of Jinder Mahal are most WWE fans? And just when we are sick of the same old anti-American schtick from Jinder, he cut what might have been the worst promo of his career this week on Smackdown Live. Taking pictures of Nakamura’s face and making poop and constipation jokes? You just know Vince McMahon wrote that segment. It was childish and beneath anyone holding the WWE Title.

But on the same show, we had a great storyline with the man who likely wrote the jokes for Jinder. How is that possible?

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The Good, the Bad and the Heat Exhaustion: Night Two of Battle of Los Angeles

pwg

 

The Battle of Los Angeles is a yearly tournament put on by, arguably, the biggest independent wrestling promotion in America, Pro Wrestling Guerilla. The tournament matches were set, the marquee special attraction matches were booked and there was only one thing left; for all of us to die in the heat. The WWE couldn’t run their average, at best, house shows in venues without proper air conditioning and seating for fans that paid top dollar to be there but PWG can. The business model PWG follows rubs people the wrong way but this is America and until fans refuse to pay rising prices American Legion Hall 308 will continue to sell out each and every time.

Every match that was booked for night two could headline any indy show across the world, for the fans in Reseda, California it was just another dream match night.

Donovan Dijak v. Trevor Lee 3.5 Stars

Dijak is on his way to NXT, Lee is a staple of PWG and GWF and these two did not disappoint. These two put on one hell of an opening match where Dijak was the winner and would move on to the quarterfinals. For me, this was the start of a 110 degree four hour ride.

Joey Janela v. Sammy Guevera 5 Stars

These two guys may not be household names yet but, especially, Joey it’s just a matter of time until he’s your friend’s favorite wrestler. Joey and Lio Rush were big news after their encounter at CZW’s show a few weeks back. On Saturday night Joey wanted to out do that performance and they sure as hell did. I rated this match five stars simply because in the 20 minutes these two battled they told stories, switched face and heel roles and Janela took two of the nastiest bumps I’ve ever seen and lived to tell the tale outside the Hall to me shortly after their match.

 

Travis Banks v. Mark Haskins 3.5 Stars

Two of the top United Kingdom wrestlers on the planet graced the Reseda crowd with a match that I personally expected more from. The two men had a great match overall just a few miss timed spots and a weird count finish left me feeling short changed from two guys that are on the WWE radar. Spoilers: From what I’ve read from night three Banks made up for it with his other match.

 

LDRS (Marty Scrull & Zack Sabre Jr) v. Matt Sydal & Ricochet 3.5 Stars

A tag team match from four guys that headline venues from California to Japan was the match before intermission. Sabre Jr the heel that Reseda loves to boo and Scrull interrupted Sydal’s and Ricochet’s entrance. This is where my experience kind of took a down hill spill. After spending time in line for water, again it had to be at least 110 degrees in the venue, I had lost my comfy standing spot and was left to stand behind a guy who was at least 6’3 the rest of the night. The first match with several, great near falls was on track for a four star rating until all four guys hit similar spots at shows I’ve been to before. Usually something like that doesn’t bother me, especially since I watch the WWE weekly but something just rubbed me the wrong way, probably the heat, but I was just taken out of the moment after Sabre Jr used his head turn submission several times.

 

Sami Callahan v. Jeff Cobb 2.5 Stars

The first post intermission match featured the highly over rated Callahan and Jeff Cobb, who outside of his strength, doesn’t offer much inside a squared circle. Although this match could headline the indy show in your local town it feel short of a PWG style match and I just couldn’t wait for it to end.

Matt Riddle v. Michael Elgin 4 Stars

By this time in the night Ronda Rousey’s presence was known in the hall but if you didn’t know she was there just look toward the stage where the UFC star was chanting ‘Bro’ with everyone else. Elgin is a guy to me that if you put him in the ring with the right guy you can get a four star match and this was just it. Riddle is a guy that will be WWE bound before we know it so enjoy the bootless bro for as long as you can because before you know it a $25 ‘Bro’ shirt will be all the rage at Full Sail.

Walter v. Keith Lee 4.5 Stars

If the WWE wants to continue to restock their big guy roster then these two are the golden tickets. Keith Lee is becoming a top star in the indy scene and it’s just a matter of time until the star of Vienna is on the radar of the E. Spoilers: William Regal was said to be outside talking with Walter prior to his match. Both of these men are larger than life and when the two killed and slammed each other all over the ring I knew this was something special. The crowd chanted ‘big match wrestling’ during their match and the hype lived up to just that; big match wrestling.

The Elite (Kenny Omega & The Young Bucks) v. Flamita, Rey Fenix & Penta El OM 4.5 Stars

The main event of the evening saw Kenny Omega return to PWG for the first time since 2014. We all stood in aw as Penta and Kenny stood nose to nose in the ring then beat the hell out of each other. This match had it all, comedy, crazy spots and hard hitting action. The real MVP of the night may have been Fenix. If the WWE wants another Rey Mysterio this guy is as close as they are going to get.

If you were ever thinking of coming to Reseda, please do. If not, buy the BOLA dvd, it will not disappoint.

Until next time, leave a comment, tell a friend, listen to the latest HTC Wrestling Podcast here or on itunes, follow me on Twitter @camdougharty and let’s talk wrasslin!

 

Justin C Watches WCW Fall Brawl 1999

So close to the Vince Russo Era!

I’ve finally gotten to WCW Fall Brawl 99. It is Sting/Hogan again. But this time Lex Luger is trying to plant the seeds of distrust in the mind of Sting. He showed Sting photos of Hulk Hogan in front of a white hummer, the same type of hummer that hit Kevin Nash. Randy Savage was also randomly in Hogan’s locker room. And then when Sting, Luger, Hogan and Bret Hart were all in Hogan’s locker room the lights went out and someone attacked Sting. Got all that? Okay.

In other WCW news we have Sid Vicious walking around as the “Millenium Man.” Essentially, he was mocking Goldberg’s streak. He would powerbomb jobbers to start the show and count those as match wins. And Chris Benoit has to carry him in a wrestling match here. Benoit is in a group with Shane Douglas, Perry Saturn and Dean Malenko known as the Revolution. They want their fair shot. In theory it’s a smart idea. But they were never getting past the politics in WCW.

If you want to know how bad of shape WCW is in right now, just check the attendance for this show compared to 1998. It dropped over 4,000. And this show took place in North Carolina, a WCW stronghold for years. A place they never had to worry about attendance being bad.

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Justin C Watches WCW Road Wild 1999

Here we are again. I’m getting so close to the Vince Russo Era that I’m stocking up on the alcohol in advance. We are at Road Wild 1999. These shows always took place at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. And I’m pretty sure WCW never made a dime on attendance. People joke that it was just an excuse for Eric Bischoff to ride his motorcycle around with a bunch of other bikers.

So last time we left you Randy Savage became WCW Champion. Well guess what? He lost it the next night to Hulk Hogan. And on the Nitro before this show, Hogan came back in the red and yellow. Nash is also now buddy-buddy with Sid despite facing him just a month ago. So nothing new on that front when it comes to WCW. The mid-card actually isn’t bad, but it will never break through to the main event portion of WCW.

Oh and Dennis Rodman is back wrestling Randy Savage. So lets go!

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