Wednesday, 28 July 2010

The 1992 WCW Train

Jushin Liger & Brian Pillman v Chris Benoit & Beef Wellington (Clash of the Champions XIX, 6/16/92)

More of a really good spot exhibition of the era than something I'd call a great match or whatever, but there's also a neat little story of Benoit and Wellington being all business like and trying to keep the two high-fliers grounded, even if it never really develops like I was hoping. Some impressive stuff in this, though. Liger hitting an Asai moonsault has to be one of the first to find its way to the States, right? Crowd totally lose their shit for it, as does Jesse on commentary. I actually liked how Liger and Pillman seemed to come across as two guys that were actively forcing their opponents out to the floor so they could hit all this dangerous offence, not because it looks snazzy, but because that's where it hurts most. Still, my favourite parts were when Pillman and Benoit would turn loose and just start chopping each other to shit. We all know Benoit wasn't afraid to lay it in, but Pillman was a stiff little bastard when he wanted to be too. Benoit also takes a hideous backdrop suplex off the top in this. Wellington didn't look very good, but he boots a jumping bean in the face at one point and his stringy hair and bald patch add a bit of ugliness to the pretty wrestling on show, so thumbs up to that.

Steve Williams & Terry Gordy v Barry Windham & Dustin Rhodes (Great American Bash, 7/12/92)

I pretty much loved this. Their match from Saturday Night a few months later is still much better, but I had never really thought all that much of this in the past. The crowd is dead as shit, and I do think Gordy and Williams control *too* much of it, but I didn't mind it as much this time around, perhaps because I can buy the Texicans being *so* wore down already from their previous two matches (where as Gordy and Williams only had one) that they're in an uphill struggle to begin with..? I dunno. Either way I was totally into it this time. I like how in a lot of these Gordy and Williams matches they'll transition into the FIP section by more or less continually waring the opponents down, cutting the ring off and keep tagging amongst themselves in their corner so the fresh man is always in there. Usually with southern tag formula there'll be one big spot that indicates the babyface is in trouble and it's time for the heels to take over. With Gordy and Williams, they just keep grinding you down over and over, and it's like a slow transition into a heat segment. Dustin's the one taking most of the beating in this, but he's one of the best ever in that role and always keeps it interesting. Also thought the finish was really cool, with Williams missing a big shoulder tackle in the corner and Dustin trying to capitalise with a bulldog, only for Williams to shove him off and Dustin runs right into Gordy, cracking skulls and leading to Williams take his head off with a lariat. I guess you could call this a disappointing final all things considered, but I'd probably call it my second favourite tag match of the show now. Top honours still go to the awesome Rude/Austin v Barry/Dustin match, but I was surprised at how much my stock in this has risen since the last time I saw it. Again, Great American Bash '92 was a Hell of a PPV, man.

Jake Roberts v Dustin Rhodes (Saturday Night, 9/26/92)

Oh man this was tremendous. It's about 15 minutes and the first seven are Dustin's, working the arm while Roberts tries and fails to shake him. Some great little touches that make what would otherwise be really simple stuff and put it over the top, like Roberts throwing big hooks that Dustin will duck and then retaliate by popping him with a punch of his own. Roberts is great selling the shots, checking to see if his teeth are intact. Also love how Jake sells the arm work. He'll roll out to the floor and use the bottom rope to stretch the arm and Dustin will grab him and drag him back in, going right to work again; he'll bite his fingers as if he's trying to shift the pain in his arm to another part of his body; he even tries to grab Damian after everything else fails. GREAT transition spot into Jake in control - he goes over Dustin with a leapfrog and appears to land badly on his knee, selling it like crazy. Dustin wants to keep the pressure on, but the ref' wants him back so he can check the leg, and that lets Jake get back up to his feet where he pops Dustin with an AWESOME cheapshot, like a hopping superman punch. Roberts is such a sleazy prick. I find myself watching Jake Roberts matches these days and constantly looking for instances of him doing something sleazy and dickish, he's pretty much the perfect scumbag heel. He tosses Dustin out to the floor at one point and starts doing squats with this shit eating grin on his face. He works Dustin's throat here and it rules. There's a great moment where Dustin starts firing back, so Jake jabs him right in the throat, floors him, and follows it up by STANDING on the throat. He's also good at selling the early arm work, grimacing and shaking the arm after cutting Dustin off with a clothesline. Finish rocks as well, as Dustin hits the bulldog and thinks he's got the three, but Jake's foot is on the ropes. Dustin switches off and you don't do that with such a slimeball because Jake's back up and wasting him with a DDT soon enough. I honestly can't see too many people liking this as much as I did, but fuck if I didn't love it.

Barry Windham & Ron Simmons v Jake Roberts & The Barbarian (Saturday Night, 9/26/92)

This is like an absurd dream match for me. Windham and Roberts are to of my favourites ever, and I mark hard for Simmons and Barbarian, even though I can't really explain why that is. This was originally supposed to be Butch Reed with Barb, but for whatever reason we've got Roberts taking his place. Some nice early powerhouse stuff with Simmons and Barbarian and the crowd go nuts for Simmons hammering him with a big clothesline. Unfortunately Barb isn't in the mood for selling much here, so there's some "indestructible monster" shtick that I wasn't really feeling, but we get some more Roberts arm work that plays off the Dustin match from earlier in the night, and Windham takes a nice stint in peril on top of that, so there's enough to like. Finish is woeful, though. Did Roberts and Windham have a decent-length singles match at any point? I know Roberts made a pit-stop in Florida around the time Barry was hitting a nice stride there in the early 80s, but even a 12 minute match in 1992 WCW would be something I'd be all over. Yeah, I need a Jake/Barry singles match.

WCW 1992 Project

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