by Martin Dixon (@BunnySuicida)
WCW Worldwide January 1st 1994.
In this “bonus” edition of Wrestling in the Clinton Years I decided to hop the fence & see what was happening over in WCW in early 1994 and happened upon WCW Worldwide from New Years Day, emanating from the Disney MGM Studios. Set firmly within the Pre Hogan era of WCW and pre Monday night wars we find WCW firmly entrenched in the number two spot, but with aspirations of more. So join me now as I take a look at this episode of Worldwide & see not only how WCW TV compares to the WWF TV I’m watching, but wrestling TV nowadays too.
The show begins with Mean Gene Okerlund outside in Disneyland informing is that the show will feature appearances from Flyin’ Brian, Tex Slazenger & Shanghai Pierce, and everyone’s favourite The Shockmaster, which may have been the clearest indication to change the channel WCW could have given the audience at the time.
Not that I’m saying I dislike Brian Pillman you understand, but this match of his against Denny Brown was as generic and dull as squash match as I’ve seen. To call this match “the match of many armdrags” would be appropriate, as Brian hits many of them throughout this short bout. This is not helped by the shows announce team of Tony Schiavone and Jesse Ventura. WCW Jesse Ventura at that. There’s no chemistry between the two, with a disinterested Jesse being particularly irksome. “Highlights” of their banter in this contest include veiled jibes at Jim Ross, and overt shots at the WWF with the proclamation that “you’ll never see midget clowns on WCW Worldwide”, which is still irritating even now when TNA takes potshots at WWE to those who get the reference it comes across as petty and must’ve been baffling to anyone unaware of Dink and company in the WWF. Brian takes the win after a top rope splash cueing the most 90s theme music I’ve ever heard. Musicality has always been an area the WWF excelled at and the lack of Jim Johnston penned themes gives Worldwide a very generic quality.
I must give praise to the studio the show was taped in though. Instead of arenas the production studio does give a brighter experience and the rotating ring is a fun sight, if completely pointless.
Next up Gene is about to interview a team back from Japan who the likes of Dusty Rhodes & Greg Gagne called “one of the most exciting new teams to come down the pike in some time” he’s talking of course, about Thunder & Lightning, two bland, jacked up fellows who feel the need to wear capes to compliment their American Gladiators knock off attire. The two caped crusaders blandly put over the competition of WCW and say little else. The crowd do seem to like them though.
Next up Gene, behind a terrible CGI desk to bring us up to speed with the major happenings from Starrcade 93, presenting stills of Flair upending Vader for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship, and Stunning Steve Austin defeating Dustin Rhodes for the US title. It’s also amazing to think that Dustin is now one of the most popular faces in WWE right now nearly 20 years later and just what he’s been through over the course of those years.
Some awful western themed music heralds the arrival of Tex Slazenger & Shanghai Pierce as they prepare to take on the dynamic duo of Thunder & Lightning themselves backed up by some terribly generic “Rawk” music. This isn’t very inspiring a contest either as a punch/kick affair is on the agenda here, with even more armdrags on top. That said, for two jacked up hosses, Thunder & Lightening are surprisingly agile, but that doesn’t save this boring match. Tex & Shanghai get the screwy win after a ref distraction allows Tex to attack Lightening from behind with a reverse DDT, allowing Pierce to make the cover.
More Gene next as Flyin’ Brian talks about the recent split of the Hollywood Blonds and laying the groundwork for a feud between Pillman & Austin. The main thread of Brian’s rant is a lame pun in which Brian repeatedly calls Colonel Parker “Colonel Sanders”
More awful music plays as The Shockmaster makes his way to the ring to take on Mike DiBacco who looks more trucker than wrestler. This match is so action packed Jesse feels the need to tell Tony and us the audience the history, theory and definition of the hip toss. Shockmaster hits a Bearhug slam to mercifully end this abysmal contest.
The quality goes up several notches as Television Champion Lord Steven Regal takes on Scott Sandlin. Regal is a class act, expertly working the crowd into booing him & cheering his jobber foe, his style looking light years away from anything else yet seen on the show. Regal brutalises Sandlin with uppercuts and elbows before finishing him off with a butterfly suplex in the best match of the show.
Okerlund is back to shill the WCW hotline before proceeding to interview Slazenger & Pierce who briefly express their displeasure at WCW management in not giving them a title shot at the Nasty Boys.
That brings us to the main event as Paul Orndorff and Paul “I can’t believe he was a horseman” Roma take on Maxx Payne and Cactus Jack. The cardinal sin here is that Payne is in the match pretty much the entire time. Maxx periodically stops selling for the heels at random points before selling the protracted beat down they give him as Cactus itches for the hot tag. Even when this happens the excitement is short lived as the match soon descends into a 4 way brawl during which Orndorff hurls Cactus over the top rope, getting disqualified in the process and handing Payne & Jack the victory. That was deeply unsatisfying as there was no real finishing sequence, and Cactus getting thrown over the top was obscured by the brawling Roma and Payne. The crowd rightly boo the finish as I understand there being the over the top rope rule, but compared to the more vibrant WWF, that rule felt outdated and archaic.
The show ends with Gene grabbing an interview with Cactus and Maxx in which Foley cuts a great unhinged promo where he admonishes the heels for ruining his good day and issues a challenge for a rematch on the next show.
I understand that Worldwide was WCWs “B” show, akin to Superstars or today’s Main Event, but this show was deeply unsatisfying, after the two WWF Raw episodes I’ve seen so far this left a bad taste in my mouth. Steven Regal making an appearance was welcome though, as he could entertain no matter the circumstance, but the awful announcing hampered by the unenthusiastic Ventura hurt the show overall. Even the great performers that appeared on the show just went though the motions and the lack of any real action from Foley in the main event were not conducive to an entertaining watching experience. I’m not turned off from watching WCW TV from this period just on the basis of one bad episode, but while the WWF is managing to exceed my expectations of the period, WCW is playing to the stereotype of wrestling in 1994. I aim to revisit WCW over the course of this project, but I may need to carefully consider what WCW TV I choose to watch.
If you’ve any suggestions for any 1994 WCW shows I should watch for WiTCY, please feel free to contact me on Twitter atwww.twitter.com/BunnySuicida and thank you once again for reading.