Wednesday, May 17, 2017

We Are At War: WCW Slamboree (1998)

Fucking got that right.

WCW/nWo Slamboree, May 17th, 1998
Tenay, Schiavone, and Heenan are trying really hard to explain everything we're going to see. props to them, cause even secondhand, I know how wacky this show has been in the past few months.

Fit Finlay vs. Chris Benoit for the World Television Title
This match was as good as you would think a match between these two would be, which has a high ceiling of potential. The crowd was amazingly awake for this match, and the opening minutes were a spectacle of technical wrestling and striking from both men. But, as Finlay is inclined to do, turned to the roughneck breaking down of Chris both outside of the ring and in.  Benoit got momentum back, and tried a suicide dive to the ring. Finlay decided to crank him in the head with a steel chair to counter it, and I screamed. This was Not a Disqualification. Booker T came out to distract Benoit, which let Finlay take advantage, but not the fall. This came shortly after the distraction with a Tombstone.

Meltzer Rating: ***1/4
A really good match, not that I doubted it would be. But as it went longer, it slowed down and the crowd started to die. Still would recommend it to people who want to watch a good match.

Brian Adams (w/Vincent) vs Lex Luger
Lex Luger looks like hes made of tanned bacon. If the match had ended with zero offense from Adams it would have been better, Luger's opening offense had the crowd crazy. But I guess there had to be heat. Torture Rack is over.

Meltzer Rating: 1/2*
This was okay. Always wish Crush had gotten over.

Perry Saturn cuts a very good, intense promo.

Cruiserweight Number 1 Contendership Battle Royal
Chris Jericho was always a charismatic bastard. He managed to introduce everyone to the ring with some slandering bullshit. It was awesome. Literally every man under 220 in WCW was in this match...besides the important ones (Eddie, Rey Mysterio, Dragon, etc. Though I don't know where Rey is honestly...). Dean Malenko, under a mask and full body suit, won the match and unmasked, getting the biggest and most sustained reaction of the night.

Chris Jericho vs Dean Malenko for the WCW Cruiserweight Title
Malenko took 75% of the match, ignoring most of his technical arsenal in favor of just beating Jericho down. Because Malenko understood that sometimes, you have to change what you do in the ring to portray the story you're trying to tell properly. The top rope gutbuster from Malenko is still great and scary. Dean eventually got the submission with the Cloverleaf, and the crowd went wild.

Meltzer Rating: ***1/4
It was a very good match that may have had the most build of anything on the card. It's amazing what a little forethought can do for your match.

Diamond Dallas Page vs Raven, Bowery Death Cage Match
It's the battle of the Nirvana covers. If you're asking what a Bowery Death Cage Match is, it's the child of a Last Man Standing and a Hell in a Cell match that was raised by ECW. The two had a very good, well paced fight. It wasn't an ECW weapons match, but a good brawl that had weapons involved. Both DDP and Raven tried their best, but the fans in the arena couldn't see shit, so there was no reaction. Flock got involved, Flock got Diamond Cutter'd, eventually Raven ate one as well.
DDP answered the 10 count when Raven couldn't.

Meltzer Rating: **1/2
Pretty fun to watch. Kanyon came into the ring and delivered the chair shot of all death on Raven. The crowd did not react

They showed a security officer looking for McMahon, DX and Steve Austin with black and white pictures of them all for reference. Because, for some reason, they wanted to convince us that someone didn't know what Steve Austin or Vince McMahon looked like

Eddie Guerrero (w/Chavo Guerrero) vs Ultimo Dragon
There is certainly a part of me that wished this match took place somewhere, anywhere, else. The crowd was not nearly as into the match as I would've been for these two, who had a great match. Dragon was arguably in his prime here, and Eddie was always on throughout his career. Much like the opening match, this one was certainly as good as you would expect it to be. Technical prowess, flying, and good storytelling all went into this one, that ended with a brainbuster and a Frog Splash from Guerrero.

Meltzer Rating: ***1/4
This and the Television Title match are the two big matches worth watching on this show.

Goldberg vs. Saturn for the WCW United States Title
The commentators bragged about how "WCW has a finger on the pulse of what WCW fans want". Ill let that one sink in for you. I learned in this match that Saturday Night WCW was still a thing at this time. So WCW fans were expected to follow at least 6 hours of wrestling per week, which is even a lot to expect from a single company today. Saturn was a very unique stirker and personality, and how he never got bigger than he was is a mystery to me. I'm not talking a lot about the match, because you've seen one Goldberg match than you've seen most of them. Actually I lie, because this match was very back and forth, Saturn got a lot of offense on Goldberg before he activated Green powers. This was actually a fun match to watch.

Meltzer Rating: 3/4*
I came out of this match liking both men more for it. Goldberg was getting better at having longer matches, and Saturn got in what he could. I think *3/4 is pretty unfair.

Eric Bischoff stroked his ego for 5 minutes on PPV, coming out to "fight" Vince McMahon and "winning" by countout. They took time throughout the show to build up if Vince was coming (we knew he wasn't via lawsuit). Fuck this all.

Bret Hart vs. Randy Savage, Special Referee Roddy Piper
What do I say about this match? Bret has often said that he lost the passion for wrestling when he jumped to WCW, and you can tell that here. He seems very hollow when he's going through the motions here. What should've been a great match, a classic almost, felt plodding and long. Savage himself seemed to be going through the motions, and the crowd really couldn't care less about the fight. They went hither and yon at one point for a brief spot, that went practically nowhere. The two tried to work a main event level match, but with the fans so not into it, and indeed the wrestlers not really caring like they seem to not here, there was no hope for a match. This match, that Roddy promised wouldn't end in a DQ, ended when he disqualified Randy.

Meltzer Rating: **1/2
I should have liked this match, I should have LOVED this match but I didn't. It actually makes me mad.

The Outsiders (w/Dusty Rhodes) vs Sting and The Giant for the WCW Tag Titles
Scott Hall had to be drunk here. This survey gimmick is ridiculous. But I don't need to go into that. Instead, lets take a minute to appreciate Dusty's holy hell, ugly jacket.

Scott moved like he was drunk, The Giant and Kevin Nash plodded, and Sting looked like he wished he were anywhere else. This was a boring match that set up to Hall and Dusty turning on Nash, keeping the inside war between the nWo fueled. The people reacted appropriately. Nash was alright, I think, and Giant was better than he is now at mid 40s and hurting.

Meltzer Rating: DUD

 This show was great until the last two matches. The card was stacked, and awesome, and full of talent. But a pair of matches with a lack of passion sunk my attitude over all. And that's a shame, because there was a crop of men working really hard to give the people something to enjoy. I want to hope it gets better from here, but I know better.

(All Ratings taken from the May25th issue of the Wrestling Observer)

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