The SmarK Retro Re-Rant – Slamboree 1994 (Director’s Cut)
The SmarK Retro Rant – Slamboree 1994, Director’s Cut!
– This is a long-overdo do-over, of the first ever Retro Rant. The original, needless to say, wasn’t exactly verbose in terms of the match descriptions or details, so let’s try it again…
– Live from Philly, home of some indy promotion called “ECW”. Never heard of it.
– Your hosts are Tony & Bobby.
– Mean Gene introduces the legends – Ole Anderson, The Assassin, Peggy Banner, Red Bastien, Tully Blanchard (with a big pop), The Crusher, Don Curtis, Terry Funk, Verne Gagne, Hard Boiled Haggerty, Larry Hennig, Killer Kowalski, Ernie Ladd, Wahoo McDaniel, Angelo Mosca, Harley Race, Ray Stevens, Lou Thesz, Johnny Weaver, Mr. Wrestling II and Tommy Young.
– Nick Bockwinkel tries to award the WCW International World Saskatchewan Hardcore European TV Big Gold Belt title to Sting on a bizarre technicality, but Sting REFUSES to win in such a cheap manner and wants it to happen in the ring. Well, 8 years later THAT scenario sure played out different when HHH got involved with it. Kudos to Sting, though, for preserving the prestigious lineage of the title.
– Opening match, US title: Stunning Steve Austin v. Johnny B. Badd. Johnny has “Philly Rules” on his robe, perhaps to suck up to the crowd and thus negate his incredibly gay personality. The best that the camera crew can do is find some kid with a pathetic little 5×7 Johnny B. Badd sign – man, when even the guys planting the signs turn against you, that’s a bad sign. Bobby brings his lame Philly jokes out of mothballs, so you know it’s a special occasion. Johnny takes him down with an armdrag to start and works a headlock. Steve uses some mindgames, so Badd takes him to the mat and works a ѕ nelson. Austin escapes and drops an elbow to take over, grabbing a MAIN EVENT SLEEPER, which Badd easily escapes. Austin takes a powder and regroups, and Badd goes back to the armbar. Austin reverses to a headlock and they work off that, as Austin keeps overpowering him back to the mat. Tony spreads hurtful rumors of hair-pulling, but I won’t even dignify them. Criss-cross and now Badd goes back to the armbar again, and holds on through a slam attempt by Austin. Austin finally reverses to his own armbar, but Badd uses a headscissor takedown to move back into a headlock. Bodypress gets two. Back to the armbar. Col. Parker’s yelling match with Hawaiian Guy provides the most exciting moments of the match so far. Austin gives him the old knee to the gut to regain control, but gets cradled for two. Badd floats over, back to the armbar. Another criss-cross and Austin KILLS Badd with a double-axehandle to take over for good. Austin starts with the stomping and cheapshots, and tosses Badd to cut off a comeback. Suplex back in and kneedrop get two. We hit the chinlock, and Austin gets two while the fans chant “We’re not hostile”. Well, that’s good to know. Austin goes up and hits knee, and Badd hits a gutwrench suplex. Austin works him over in the corner, but gets backdropped. Badd hiptosses him and gets a rather nasty lariat, and Austin is reeling. Kneelift and Oklahoma Roll, but Parker is distracting the ref. Austin charges and hits Parker, and Badd rolls him up for two. Backdrop and Badd goes up for the flying sunset flip, which gets two. Austin goes to the eyes to come back, but Badd suplexes him, and Austin uses the tights to roll over for the awkward pinfall finish at 16:11. Weird ending, but the match was a solid mat-based affair. ***
– Okerlund interviews Wahoo and Ernie.
– Legends match: Tully Blanchard v. Terry Funk. There was actually all sort of politics going on here, as Blanchard was promised a larger payoff than he got, and thus refused to do the job as a result. Gordon Solie does the honors for this match. ECW was in its infancy at this point, and Funk was one of the reasons for the early success of the promotion. They get into a huge brawl to start and stiff the hell out of each other, until Funk gets an atomic drop to put him down. Into the ring, Funk gets a neckbreaker for two, and then tosses Tully and pounds away on the rampway. Funk uses a piece of the wooden stairs to nail Tully, and they head in for a piledriver onto it. Looked less dramatic with Terry’s ass taking the bump. They head to the ramp again, and Terry DDTs him there, as Nick Patrick chastises them like a couple of grade-school kids. The crowd wants blood, but it’s WCW, so it’s not likely. Back in, Funk gets another piledriver and goes up with the moonsault, which misses. That gets two for Tully. Blanchard starts pounding in the corner, and they just UNLOAD with stiff shots again. The ref is bumped and Funk gets a chair as Tully bleeds (thus guaranteeing that he wouldn’t return), and Funk sets him up for the piledriver off the top, which kind of fizzles out. Would have been cool, though. Patrick gets rid of the chair while Funk bails, so Tully gives Patrick a shot in the mush, too. They fight over the branding iron, until a DQ is called at 7:14. Good, wild brawl. **3/4 Funk elbowdrops Hawaiian Guy’s hat afterwards to vent his frustrations.
– Steven Regal v. Larry Zbyszko. Regal’s besmirching of America led Larry to finally retaliate on behalf of his country, thus coming out of retirement. If stalling was an Olympic sport, these two would be fighting for the gold and silver medals. That talent is put into full effect to start, as they jaw with the crowd and each other. Larry ducks a shot from Regal after a solid 2:00 of stalling, and they stall some more. Larry then shows off his time-tested finisher, the SEVEN MINUTE STALL OF DOOM, so as not to get shown up by the youngster. A spinkick puts Regal on the floor, where he continues his ongoing conversation with the fanbase. Back in, more stalling. Finally, Larry starts working the arm, and reverses an abdominal stretch into a rollup for two, before getting his own abdominal stretch. He even uses the ropes for old time’s sake. Regal reverses for two. They do an armdrag-reversal sequence that ends with Larry getting the move again, and back to the stalling. Larry takes him down with a short-arm scissors and jaw with each other again. Regal responds by hammering on him with forearms in the corner, and that gets two. Reverse elbow gets two. Regal goes to a unique facelock/half-nelson submission as the crowd starts to lose patience with the match. Larry reverses a forearm into a backslide, but Regal counters with a bow-and-arrow to block the pin. He keeps laying in the forearms, but Larry fires back. MAIN EVENT SLEEPER and Regal is in trouble, but breaks with a jawbreaker. Sir William gives Larry a shot with the umbrella for good measure, but he reverses a butterfly suplex into a bridge for the pin at 11:35. HUGE pop for the surprise win. Larry would win the TV title from Regal a couple of weeks later. This was pretty slow, but nothing to be ashamed of. Regal carried most of the match, not surprisingly. **1/4
– Terry Funk reminds us that we’re live and he can say whatever he wants for as long as he wants. Veiled threats to Dustin Rhodes are made.
– Gordon Solie hosts the Legends ceremony.
– Bullrope match: Dustin Rhodes v. Bunkhouse Buck. Buck attacks to start, but gets hanged by Dustin and dragged into the ring. So much for that plan. Dustin chokes him out and attaches it to Buck’s wrist, and hits him with a bionic elbow and a low blow. Elbowdrop gets two. Buck tries to leapfrog him, but Dustin yanks up on the bullrope and ends THAT rally. He starts pounding the knee with the cowbell and the Philly crowd wants Blood again. C’mon, guys, Rick Steamboat isn’t even booked on this show! Check your programs before you chant. Dustin posts the knee and hammers away on the knee. Not quite the fast-paced action you expect in this sort of match. Buck, ever the pragmatist, simply clobbers Dustin with the cowbell to come back. Now that’s more like it. In true hockey fashion, Buck pulls the shirt over Dustin’s head and then whips him, before bringing him out and introducing him to the post. Then, in a unique strategy, he ties Dustin to the post (and Bobby goes for the obvious joke about being “tied up at the moment”) and chokes him out at his leisure. Dustin fights back one-handed, and then frees himself and cowbells Buck. Back in, Buck goes up, but Dustin hammers him down with a Flip Flop and Fly and slams him off. That gets two. The ref is bumped, because you can never get enough of that, and Dustin suplexes him and chases Parker. Buck and Parker try a little double-teaming, but that of course ends badly for them and Dustin clobbers Buck with the cowbell for the pin at 12:32. Not as good as their bunkhouse house from the month before, with too much dead space and resting. **1/2 Terry Funk (with a towel over his head as a disguise) runs in and destroys Dustin, setting up a fairly lengthy feud.
– WCW World title: Ric Flair v. Barry Windham. The angle here was that Col. Parker was promising a 6’7” blond mystery challenger who was a former World champion himself. This was of course supposed to make you think it was Hulk Hogan. It didn’t work. Barry, deteriorated and pudgy, was the plan all along, but the fans weren’t particularly thrilled about it. Windham pounds away in the corner, so Flair responds with the chops. Windham slams him, but misses an elbow and bails. This isn’t exactly the 45-minute draw from 1986. Flair goes for the knee and keeps chopping, but Windham gets the laziest lariat I’ve seen from him in ages, and dumps Flair. Suplex back in and legdrop, but Flair keeps fighting back. We hit the chinlock to REALLY crank up the excitement. Flair starts chopping again, but gets Flair Flipped to the floor. They do some exceedingly weak brawling and head back in, where Windham pounds away in the corner before getting atomic dropped. Flair goes up, but gets superplexed for two. He keeps chopping until Barry falls and then suplexes him into the figure-four. This of course is silly since he hasn’t so much as punched Barry’s knee since the first couple of minutes. Windham makes the ropes, but Flair takes him down again. Windham kicks out of a second attempt, but a third one works. Talk about stubborn. Windham makes the ropes again, so Flair goes up…and hits a move! Call the press! It’s an elbow, for two. Kneedrop and more chops, but Windham slugs back and they tumble out on a botched cross-body. Very few things look stupider than that spot when one guy can’t go over the top properly on the first try. Back in, Flair wants a slugfest, and gets a rollup for two. Windham goes low to turn the tide again, and tosses Flair. That backfires, as Flair beats on Parker and sunset flips in. Windham blocks it for two, reversed by Flair for two. Windham rolls him up for two. They exchange chops and Flair does the Flip again, and finishes the move with a bodypress for the pin at 13:13. So there you go – proof that he HAS made it across the apron after flipping over the turnbuckles. And hey, you know it had to get the pin, since it only works once every 15 years. An unmotivated Windham is an ugly sight, but they pulled it together well enough by the end. **
– WCW World tag title: The Nasty Boys v. Cactus Jack & Kevin Sullivan. Former Flyer goon Dave Schulz is the special referee, and this is falls count anywhere. It was original supposed to be the Nasties losing the belts to Kevin & Evad, but a knee injury gave Cactus a shot at his first major title. It’s an insane brawl from the opening bell, as Sullivan drags Knobs out and Sags beats on Cactus. Kevin uses a crutch while Sags and Jack fight into the crowd and security frantically tries to keep the crowd back. Sags moves down the aisle, while Sullivan dropkicks Knobs in the ring. We move to the entrance, as Kevin piledrives Knobs on the ramp and Cactus hits Sags with a (full) trashcan. Now THAT’S how you do it. Another shot with the can puts Sags down, and Sullivan joins in the fun. Tony & Jesse are almost speechless. Knobs gets put on the can at ringside, and Jack comes off the top, but misses and elbowdrops the trashcan instead, flattening it. Knobs BOUNCES the remains off his head, just delivering brutal shots with it. Sags whips him with a camera, and Knobs uses a good old chair, delivering sick, unprotected shots to the head with it. The flattened trashcan is just brutal as they swing away with it without regard for their own safety. Cactus clotheslines Knobs back into the ring, and Sullivan hits him with another chairshot. Sags decides to get the tables (this of course was before the days when they were standard issue ring equipment) and biels Jack off the ramp, through the table. That was pretty heavy stuff for 1994. Jack, of course, is too stupid to stay down, and takes some abuse from a light stand, too. At ringside, Sullivan and Knobs beat on each other, and Jack drops the remains of the table onto Sags. Sags shatters a piece of the table on Jack, and Sullivan and Knobs head down to join in the party. A fire extinguisher gets used off-screen, as the bad lighting and overwhelmed cameramen miss it. But you know what? It’s actually improved by having that look and feel, because you get the “bootleg classic” kind of vibe, like an underground video that you shouldn’t be watching. They finally head back to the ring, with Cactus busted open, and Sags goes up for the Shitty Elbow, but gives Dave Schulz attitude instead of covering. He grabs the hockey stick, but that’s DAVE’S stick, and it results in a pummeling from the ref and a shot from Jack with the stick for a fast count and the World tag team titles at 9:33. An absolutely brutal classic, which set the template for ECW’s entire tag team division for years following. Maxx Payne comes out and gives Sags the MOTHER of all guitar shots to get his final revenge on the Nasties, and when Knobs backs away peacefully, Evad Sullivan hobbles out and nails him with the crutch, too. And THAT is how you blow off a feud. *****
– WCW International World Saskatchewan Hardcore European TV Western States Heritage title: Sting v. Vader. This was originally booked as Vader v. Rude for the title, which was going to set up Rude’s push to the top of the promotion for a presumed run against Hulk Hogan. He was injured against Sting in Japan, however, and never wrestled again. Sting and Vader have a stalemate to start, as Sting ducks and dodges. The always classy Philly fans inform us that “Sting must die”. Vader obliges, beating Sting in the corner until he sees Jebus. Sting fires back and Vader leaves to regroup. Back in, Sting gets a rather dramatic delayed vertical suplex and stomps away, and then they do the old “battle of the bulls” collision, which Vader wins 2 falls to 1, and then he goes up for the pump splash. That gets two. Another one gets two. Vader grabs a leglock for some reason and pounds on the back. Back to the leglock as we slow things down a lot. Sting fights out and drops an elbow, and both guys are down. Vader recovers first and drops his own elbow for two. Sting comes back and dives at Vader, but misses and bumps the ref. Vader chokeslams him for the visual pinfall, but Race gives Vader an accidental chairshot (a weak one, too) and Sting DDTS Vader for two. Sting dumps Vader and suplexes him back in, and then clotheslines him right out again. Geez, man, make up your mind. Vader comes in, walks into a Stinger Splash, but out-thinks Sting by catching the move and powerslamming him to counter. This sets up the moonsault, which misses, as Sting was playing possum, and Sting gets two. Race headbutts his own man by mistake, and a flying splash finishes for Sting at 13:51 to give him the title back. Another quality Vader-Sting outing. ***3/4
The Bottom Line:
One of my favorite WCW shows ever, featuring quality matches up and down the card and no bad matches. The Philly atmosphere (despite a very small crowd) made for a super-hot show, and the tag team title switch is a classic that still holds up today due to the tremendously stiff shots delivered and Jack’s insane bumping.
Highly, HIGHLY, recommended.