by Billy Carpenter (@4CR_Billy)
(image in header found via The Wrestling Fans Review)
‘Tales from Hill Valley’ has been a series a few months in the making. Hopefully, the title of the series isn’t lost on the reader–and for fans who are in the same age range as me, it should be a pretty easy correlation to make. I absolutely love studying the history of pro wrestling and, more specifically, going back and immersing myself in different time periods of the business. Matches, angles, backstage happenings–when I go back to these eras, I want to get into as much as I can find. To kick this series off, I went back to a time period that I continue to go back and view over and over again…
In 1992, I was living on Richwine Drive in the not-yet bustling town of Williamsburg, VA. Much like now, I was a huge wrestling fan and found myself getting lost in the world of pro grappling on most days. WWF, USWA, a fledgling Smokey Mountain..anything I could get my hands on, I was there. Stacks upon stacks of Apter mags lined the bookshelves in my bedroom. But growing up in the heart of the old Mid-Atlantic territory, the National Wrestling Alliance (and later, WCW) held a most special place in wrestling heart. World Championship Wrestling in 1992 is such an interesting time in the company’s history–from the insane amount of quality in-ring work to the probably even more insane backstage happenings that were the true story of 1992 WCW. The first series under the ‘Tales from Hill Valley’ banner will attempt to chronicle all of the good & bad both in the ring and out of it during this time. No better place to start than the beginning of 1992 , whch would see the end of the tumultuous Jim Herd regime, which had resulted in some of the worst booking & creative decisions in the company’s history outside of the Vince Russo era. To kick things off, I’m starting with a simple review of the first show that I could find for WCW in 1992–the January 5 edition of WCW ‘Main Event’! I know, there was the WCW/NJPW supershow on the 4th–that’ll be in an upcoming installment of this series. But for now, let’s kick it over to Tony Schiavone & Missy Hyatt for the first edition of ‘Tales from Hill Valley’!
Tony & Missy welcome us to Main Event before running down what’s in store for us this week. First, we head into Dustin Rhodes vs Arn Anderson from the previous night’s Saturday Night, as they show the overrun portion that didn’t make air. It breaks down with Bobby Eaton interfering on Arn’s behalf before Ricky Steamboat makes his way out. Steve Austin is out next to give the Dangerous Alliance the advantage again before Barry Windham evens the odds for the faces. Larry Zbysko is out but he’s followed by Ron Simmons and the ref finally calls for the bell. The crowd is absolutely molten right now!
Eric Bischoff is here with a segment dedicated to the WCW Magazine. He talks a little about Sting winning the first Battlebowl at Starrcade before kicking it to clips of “popular Japanese”, Jushin Liger winning the Light heavyweight title from Flyin’ Brian last week at the Omni. We get some news on the first match signed for the upcoming Clash of the Champions, pitting Sting & Ricky Steamboat vs Rick Rude & Steve Austin!
Arachniman is here…oy. His opponent is Cactus Jack. That guy’ll never draw a dime, even if you gave him the pen and the paper to do
it. In all seriousness, this early 90s WCW Cactus is always so interesting to me. This time frame is the first time I’d ever seen Cactus in any promotion, and there was something unique there. Sure, a lot of it is typical “brawler” stuff but there’s always been that intangible thing you can pick up on when one views Mick Foley matches. This match goes on much longer than it should but hey, this is essentially a dark match from WCW Saturday Night. For those who don’t know, Arachniman was Brad Armstrong in the worst looking faux Spider Man costume that you could imagine. Man, this match is getting a ton of time. Finish comes when Arachniman goes for a crucifix pin but Cactus puts his foot on the rope and leverages a pin of his own. Super creepy theme music for Jack, almost darker than his early Mankind theme. And for those wondering, yes, I know I technically spelled “Arachniman” wrong, but that’s how it was presented on his graphic. As for the character, you’ll probably see a few more reviews with him in it before Marvel lets WCW know that it’s just a wee bit too close to their trademarked Web slingin’ superhero.
Time for the Ross Report, and Jim is standing by with 1/2 of the WCW World tag team champs, Ricky Steamboat. He talks his recent issues with Medusa and also the difference in tag team vs singles competition.
Marcus Alexander Bagwell is taking on Chuck Coates in the next contest. Coates looks a little like a hillbilly Lance Storm. If he wrestles like one, we’re in for a treat. An everlasting armbar from Bagwell to start. Chuck gets a few shots in but the future Buff Daddy hits a bridging fisherman’s suplex out of nowhere (!) for the win.
Main event time, and here comes the team of Van Hammer & Big Josh. Their opponents, representing the Dangerous Alliance, Beautiful Bobby & the WCW TV champ ‘Stunning’ Steve Austin. They’ve got the lovely Medusa in their corner, of course. Austin gets the jump on Big Josh but our favorite lumberjack takes control rather quickly. An airplane spin takes out both Austin & Eaton and the heels regroup on the floor. Van Hammer gets the tag and he cinches in an armbar. Austin escapes and tags in Bobby, but he gets caught with an arm drag. Bobby sells the hell out of a shoulder block, falling to the floor. Van’s fans are apparently called “Hammerheads”, per Tony Schiavone. The ol’ Greco-Roman Knucklelock is won by Hammer…he tries to come off the ropes but Austin grabs the hair and pulls him outside. Austin comes in and hits a discus lariat before nailing Big Josh. Josh ain’t havin’ it and grabs his axe handle. Austin retains control though, but Hammer eventually fights back and tags in Josh. HE’S A HOUSE OF FIRE! Josh gets Austin in a pin but Bobby hits the Alabama Jam off the distraction by Medusa and Austin throws an arm on top and gets the win. This turned into a pretty decent affair when all was said and done.
There you have it, a quick little review to get us warmed up for ‘Tales from Hill Valley’. Pretty decent episode of Main Event and it gives you a good idea of who the main players are in the company right now. We were reaching the end of the Jim Herd era and were about to see new leadership (although unfortunately short-lived) in Kip Frey. You’ll definitely notice an increase in work rate as we go along here and that was thanks in large part to Mr. Frey and how he rewarded hard work in the ring. Part one of this series is officially in the books, and I’ve got some pretty big plans for it. I’m working on some guest writers to do an entry or two on this project, as well as some possible podcasts and maybe an interview or 2 to accompany this new endeavor. Hopefully, you enjoyed it and if you know someone else who might, send them the link. Next time, a look at the end of the Jim Herd era in WCW and what changes Kip Frey brought almost immediately to the struggling promotion.
Wanna watch for yourself? Here ya go: