Tuesday, 31 August 2010

DOUBLE A OF THE DAY #25

Arn Anderson, Rick Rude & Steve Austin v Ricky Steamboat, Barry Windham & Dustin Rhodes (WCW Pro, 4/4/92)

You should know what to expect from these tags now. Seeing how the heels will stooge and bump in the opening stretch of all of them is probably my favourite part, and the early stooging during the heels' opening gambits here is tops.

Each guy matches up with one from the other team at the start: Arn with Barry, Austin with Dustin, and Rude with Steamboat. Rude and Steamboat is in some ways the focal point since they've got themselves a pretty big hate feud going, but they don't give too much away on that front. Their opening exchange is obviously good, though.

Dustin and Austin have themselves a nifty little match up, too. There's a great sequence where Austin uses his trusty clothesline to flatten Dustin and appear to take control. That's a spot these two roll out quite a bit; Austin likes to throw clotheslines and Dustin's great at selling them, sometimes taking his inside-out-flip bump to boot. This time he follows up the clothesline with a whip into the corner, but Dustin reverses that, whips Austin into the corner and follows up with an attempted monkey flip. Austin throws him off and climbs to the second turnbuckle, but he doesn't notice Dustin rolling through and back up to his feet after hitting the mat, so he winds up jumping off into a payback clothesline from Dustin, this time out of mid-air.

The Arn and Barry exchange is number one and the best, though. They're the two that kick off the match, and before they so much as lock up Arn's complaining about Windham and his taped fist. Barry throws a half-hearted punch that's more designed to irritate than actually connect and cause damage, and Arn's looking at the referee like "Are you seeing this shit? What's the deal with this taped fist, ref'?", and you can tell what's coming. I spoke about the 2/22 8-man from Saturday Night back at the start of the month and how they kicked it off with a great sequence of comedy stooge spots as Arn and Eaton try to double team Barry. They do the same thing here, this time with Austin in Eaton's place -- Arn immediately backs Windham into the corner and buries a few shoulderblocks and a punch into the body, then follows it up by trying to whip him into the opposite corner. Windham reverses it by sending Arn in, charges in behind him and catches Arn's boot as he puts the foot up. Arn yells "OH NO!" and begs for mercy, but Barry's all smiles, spins him around and gives him an atomic drop, off of which Arn bounces into the corner and bumps his head off the turnbuckle. He staggers backwards out of the corner and Barry hoists him up again, this time sitting him on the top turnbuckle, at which point Austin comes in and clubs him from behind a couple times before hooking him for Arn, who's now recovered some, to come off the middle rope with a double axe or whatever. Just as he's doing this, Barry elbows Austin in the face to break the grip and digs Arn in the gut with the taped fist as he's coming down; Arn takes his flip bump as Austin tumbles out of the ring. Arn's dazed and doesn't know where he is, so you know he's gonna do the spot he loves where he'll stumble into the wrong part of town to get popped by every babyface on the apron, eventually stumbling back into the middle where Barry pops him on the chin with, you guessed it, a big taped right hand, and that leaves him bailing out on the floor to regroup with Austin and Paul E., complaining about getting stung with a closed fist "THREE TIMES!" Writing about it doesn't do it the sort of justice seeing it for yourself does, but it's seamless stuff and great every time.

Windham plays FIP here after Arn knees him in the spine as he's coming off the ropes, and Barry in peril is as good as Barry in peril should be. You look at that babyface team and it's really a who's who of outstanding FIPs. There's a great spot where he and Rude pinch an Anderson spot and careen into each other with a noggin-knocker, and fuck me did it look nasty. Windham just collapses on top of Rude and they manage to get a big nearfall out of it as well. Transition spot that leads to the hot tag is another Arn favourite. First he hits the ropes and gets caught in an abdominal stretch, but Dangerously gets up on the apron to distract the ref' so Austin can come off the top to break it, and from there Arn climbs the ropes for the second time in the match. When Arn climbs the ropes and starts taunting like it's all over but the shoutin' you can usually tell that whoever he's coming down on will counter somehow. This time it was a little less obvious because Barry's stirring and is in the process of getting back up to his feet, so you never know. Hell, maybe he'll actually hit that double axe that he tried earlier. Then he comes off the top and Barry just drops back to the mat and boots him in the teeth. Heyman's literally on the floor dragging Arn into his corner to make the tag, but by the time Rude gets in there it's too late; Steamboat's your house o' fire and someone's gonna get their wig split.

Steamboat is fired up like crazy and punching and chopping people left, right and centre, but most of it is directed at his new arch enemy Rude. Austin decides enough is enough, grabs a chair and uses it to break up Steamboat's pin off the cross body. Post-match looks like it's shaping up to be another Dangerous Alliance mugging, but Steamboat winds up with the chair and cleans house some more. Crowd is nutso and Steamboat's just had enough of these fuckers.

Tonnes of fun. The early spell with the Alliance members stooging around is strong, Windham's FIP stretch is strong, and while a DQ finish might not be as satisfying as a clean one, you couldn't watch this and tell me the crowd weren't psyched to the gills for what happened. The fact there's about 7 multi-man matches from '92 WCW that are better than it says more about the quality of wrestling that year than any "lack" of quality in this match specifically.

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