Eddy Guerrero v Dean Malenko (Uncensored, 3/16/97)
I need to watch their Starrcade match again, but this might be my favourite match these two had together. There’s some stuff in it that I wasn’t really fan of, like how they weren’t sure whether they wanted to run with the idea that Eddy’s shoulder might be hurt, and from time to time they’d just kinda bust out some random stuff, but on the whole I thought it was great and there was far more to like than complain about. There’s also a chunk of leg work that doesn’t really pay off, but they move away from it fine and it’s not like it was dropped in a lazy sort of way, so I didn’t mind at all. Coming in these two had kinda been at each other’s throat, so the vibe is much different from any of their ECW matches, which I’m thankful for since I don’t particularly like those “Eddy Guerrero v Dean Malenko: The Spirit of Competition” matches. Eddy slaps on a headlock at the beginning and I’m wondering if I was overestimating how much they’re supposed to be pissed at each other, but then he starts giving him a bunch of awesome little rabbit punches and that leads to both guys stomping mudholes in the other, which is spectacular if for no other reason than Dusty’s “mudhole stomper/mudhole stompee” ramble. And, naturally, I smile. This crowd is not a pro-Guerrero crowd. They’re all for Malenko, and while neither guy wrestles this much like a babyface, the match sort of becomes a story of Eddy getting totally fed up with being made out to be the root of Dean’s problems and descending further into pissed off dickhood as the match progresses. Crowd doesn’t want to cheer him so he won’t go out of his way to be cheered. Crowd have kinda been apathetic towards him ever since he came to WCW so why should he bother trying to be someone they can get behind? Someone’s “devolution” is one of my favourite in-match stories in pro-wrestling, and while this isn’t on the level of Austin’s complete reversion to paranoid sociopath that’s obsessed with the WWF title, it’s still a really fucking good character performance from Guerrero. It’s not a full heel turn, and there are still signs that he hasn’t completely embraced his douchebag side (putting Malenko in a figure-four and briefly grabbing the ropes before letting go because he's not quite a cheating scumbag yet), but the ball is most definitely rolling. More screwy nWo shit at the end, but it’s all leading to Eddy finally snapping at some point, so I can deal. Did Syxx actually do anything other than steal belts in WCW, btw? He just kinda bounces around like a thieving coke head looking for shit to knock.
Randy Savage v Diamond Dallas Page (Street Fight - Spring Stampede, 4/6/97)
Man, Savage is awesome here as an out of control headcase. Before he’s even in the ring he spots some little girl at ringside, turns and faces her and flexes his bicep, then he starts out stalling by jumping out of the ring and heading up the aisle, refusing to let the match start unless it’s on his own terms. From there he basically slips further and further into insanity, and by the end he’s bitch-slapping ring announcers and ready to take a swing at Michael Buffer. First few minutes of the match are okay, but once Savage takes over things pick up big. I remember thinking this was the weakest of the 3 Savage/Page PPV matches that year, and watching it again I’d say that’s still the case, but the middle portion is really good. I liked Page quite a bit in this as well. He’s got some really good hope spots and at one point he takes an amazing clothesline bump that lands him right on his neck. Good finish as well, and the Diamond Cutter is just ridiculously over. Post-match has more Savage insanity as he’s got a hold of Kimberly, and his crazy man eyes when Bischoff restrains him are tremendous. Also, does Kenny Powers wish he was Nick Patrick or what?
Randy Savage v Diamond Dallas Page (Falls Count Anywhere - Great American Bash, 6/15/97)
I might have liked this even more than Benoit/Sullivan from the previous year. Savage is fucking out of his mind again, piledriving referees, threatening to hit Kimberly, beating the shit out of camera men; the whole nine yards. At one point he’s taking the bandages off of Page’s ribs and Mickie Jay tries to restrain him, so Savage spits in his face, piledrives him and rips his shirt open. Mark Curtis then hits the scene and Savage decks him and tosses him like a sack of trash. A little later some guy takes his picture so he smashes his camera and tries to choke him out. Page is over like crazy again. There’s a great moment where Savage is beating on him in the corner (think this is directly after he’s assaulted Mark Curtis) and Page just grabs hold of him, tosses HIM in the corner and lets loose with rights and lefts while the crowd completely lose it. The Diamond Cutter might have been the most over move in the company at the time as well. Just crazy pops for it every time. Start of this is different from the last match – this time Page comes out from the crowd and jumps Savage, and he’s generally much more aggressive during the whole opening period, which is much better here than it was at Spring Stampede. Page also does a good job selling the ribs the whole way through, and they come up with a few cool spots with them as the focus. The parts where they decide to go for a wander and fight in a different part of the arena are really good in this as well. First they head up towards the stands and Page grabs some plunder (“He gettin’ some plunder now.” – Dusty) to beat on Savage with, then later they wind up at the VIP section and Dusty’s all “GIT THE BARBEQUE PIT! BEHIND YA! BEHIIIIND YA!” and sure enough Page gets the barbeque pit and slams him through a picnic table. Finish has your nWo shenanigans, but whatever. Really dug this.