Arn Anderson & Vader v Stars 'n' Stripes (WCW Saturday Night, 4/25/95)
I don't remember a ton of 1995 WCW, but this has to be sitting around the top 5 matches they put on that year. I mean, by and large, 1995 WCW isn't exactly loaded with great wrestling matches, and I wouldn't go to bat for this being as good as, like, 20 WCW matches from '92, but in a year where there's very little to pick from, something like this stands out.
Stars 'n' Stripes are the team of Buff Bagwell and The Patriot, and they're really good here, working within a southern tag formula and hitting all the right notes. Bagwell's a guy that takes enormous amounts of shit in some circles, but he was really good a lot of the time in the early-mid 90s. Re-watching a ton of nWo era WCW isn't something I plan on doing any time soon, so I dunno how he'll hold up on that front, but fuck it, Buff was the STUFF. He's the hot tag guy here and the crowd totally lose it for him going toe to toe with Arn and Vader down the stretch. Patriot's role isn't really that of a "powerhouse", because he doesn't work any more obvious powerhouse shtick than Bagwell does, but he brings plenty of cool offence - like a great looking flying shoulder tackle - and plays a nice FIP to boot. Him and Vader almost work a little sub-story during this, with Patriot letting loose on him any time he can with no fear, only to have his clock cleaned leading into his FIP section and then to come back and hit a big back suplex at the end to a massive pop. Current wrestling needs more Stars 'n' Stripes.
Arn and Vader are about as good as one would hope when working as a team... which is very good. Vader's this big bulldozer that'll plough through anybody while Arn will go about grinding you down and drilling your head into the mat with a DDT. Arn takes a whipping from the faces at the start, but manages to get something going by drawing Patriot in to distract the ref' while he and Vader do this awesome slingshot into chokeslam spot on Bagwell. I was thinking that would be the transition into Bagwell playing FIP, but it's only a tease because they wind up running through another awesome double team spot that transitions into the Patriot FIP section, with Arn popping both babyfaces with a punch, goading Patriot into chasing him around the ring where Arn ducks a clothesline and Vader's there waiting to squash him. Nifty cut-off spot later as Patriot has Arn reeling only for Arn to catch him with a drop-toe-hold and Vader to come in and drop the elbow while he's trapped. I love southern tag formula and will pretty much always enjoy a match that follows it, so I really get a kick out of seeing how and where guys plug in transitions, spots, cut-offs, etc. and I dug all of it here.
Run towards the finish is choice with Arn busting out another one of his noggin' knocker variations leading to the hot tag, and I already mentioned Bagwell coming is as a good house o' fire. Also mentioned the big back suplex spot on Vader which was really cool. Finish rocks as Bagwell has Anderson locked up tight with a fisherman suplex in the middle of the ring, only the ref's trying to get Patriot out of there so Vader comes in and hits a jumping headbutt to Bagwell's ribs. Arn rolls him up and that's game. Really good match. I don't know if I've ever seen this pimped anywhere, so I guess you could call it a "hidden gem" or whatever because it's better than all but one match I've seen so far this year.
Should also point out that Flair comes out to the ring mid-match, and I'm guessing it's his return after a fairly long absence because Heenan is going on about it on commentary and the crowd are amped up to the gills. It's awesome because he's going nuts out there, choking Bagwell and Patriot with his jacket if they get near him, telling fans to shut up, strutting around wooing, etc. Then at the end we get a shot of him repeatedly stomping on some Hulk Hogan foam finger thing like a geriatric lunatic. Great fun.
WATCH IT HERE!