Notes from the Nosebleeds #3
March 2, 2009
By: Matt O'Brien
How do you outshine the sun? You just can?t do it. Try as hard as you can but you will never be brighter than that big ball of gas, but you can be different. Just ask the moon. Wrestlemania has become so huge that no other wrestling event has ever been able to surpass it since its inception. Imagine the place WCW was in when they had Hulk Hogan signed, but no way to compete with Mania. While they didn?t have the ability to produce a Wrestlemania-like show in March of 1995, they were able to stretch their imagination (or borrow a page from ECW depending on who you ask) to create, a new pay per view concept: WCW Uncensored. It's the natural progression of a passionate and hateful wrestling program to culminate with a gimmick match, so why not hold a cutting edge pay per view that would exhibit mostly gimmick matches? For that time and place, it was an innovative concept for a large wrestling company and it had the potential to be huge. While it wouldn?t outshine Wre! stlemania, perhaps it could eclipse the Wrestlemania glamour with blood?unfortunately WCW had a No-Blood policy at the time. So how did the six years of Uncensored fair? Buy a $6 beer; sit down watch with me from the nosebleeds.
1995 Uncensored may have been the worst pay per view of the year. The show featured a Boxer vs. Wrestler Match pitting Johnny B. Badd against Arn Anderson, and a Martial Arts Match between Meng and Jim Duggan. While the show at least had a couple promising matches, such as Sting vs. Big Bubba Rogers, and Harlem Heat vs. The Nasty Boys in a Street Fight, the show will most be remembered for a bout between Randy Savage and Avalanche being stopped because Ric Flair dressed in drag and attacked Savage, a Strap Match between Hulk Hogan and Vader with Hogan retaining the championship when he dragged Ric Flair to all four corners. Yes, Flair lost the match for Vader. And there was also a King of the Road Match between Dustin Rhodes and The Blacktop Bully. What is a King of the Road Match? Why, it's a match where two men are forced to fight on the back of a flat-bed truck?while it's going down the road! Oh and you know how the show is called Uncensored? Well, both men blad! ed during this match so it was edited to show as little blood as possible because WCW had a No-Blood policy. And another thing; after risking their lives on the back of a truck and trying to save the match in any way they could by adding some blood, they were fired for bleeding.
1996 was a slightly better year. The show opened with a U.S. Title match between Eddy Guerrero and Konnan, and followed by a bout between William Regal and Finlay. The show also featured a Street Fight between The Road Worriers and Sting and Booker T, as well as a battle of the giants between The Big Show and Loch Ness. Yet while the audience in attendance was treated to a dark match between Dean Malenko and Jerry Lynn, they and the pay per view audience would later suffer through Colonel Robert Parker vs. Madusa Miceli, a Looser Leaves WCW Match between Brutus Beefcake and Dallas Page (yet somehow neither one of these men would leave WCW for quite some time), and a Handicap Cage Match in which Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage actually defeated seven men!
1997 was a totally different story. This was actually one of my favorite WCW pay per views. We saw a great U.S. Title match between Dean Malenko and Eddy Guererro, a thrilling display matching Ultimo Dragon and Psicosis, and a solid bout featuring Glacier and Mortis. The fourth match on the card was not the best, but the Strap Match Buff Bagwell won over Scotty Riggs was a natural step in their feud. Harlem Heat and Public Enemy faced off in a Street Fight. The commentary of this match turned it from a violent war into a comedy show as Dusty Rhodes nearly died from laughing at the absurd amount of weapons these men used on each other. Rey Mysterio Jr. was granted a shot at the TV Championship and had a good match with Prince Iaukea. The main event of Uncensored ?97 was a Three-Way Tag Team Elimination Match with the NWO, WCW, and the Four Horsemen going at it. While the actual storyline of why this match is taking place is confusing, it is an absolute blast to watch. A! ccording to Matthew Randazzo's book, Ring of Hell, Chris Benoit was actually scheduled to win this match before the NWO spoke up and suggested the match have a winner whom people actually paid to see (classy). Benoit was the last member of the Horsemen to be eliminated, leaving Lex Luger against all four NWO members. 1997 was a great year for Luger and this match was one of his great moments. He fought through the NWO and single-handedly eliminated Kevin Nash, Randy Savage, and Scott Hall before being cheated out of victory and falling to Hulk Hogan. The ending of this show was truly epic for WCW. While Luger's inspiring effort was thwarted, the NWO would soon fall victim to an attack from Sting, in which the enigma would finally get his hands on Hulk Hogan. It was one of the defining moments of the wrestling year.
WCW seemed to find a winning formula in 1997 and part of that was they did not load the card with stipulation matches, but focused on a few. 1998 would follow the same formula and have another solid show. At this time WCW had its best mid-card in years. Booker T, Eddy Guerrero, Dean Malenko, Chris Benoit, Raven, Dallas Page, Juventud Guerrera, Konnan, and Chris Jericho would steal the show this year. The top card matches were solid as well with Bret Hart going against Curt Henning, Sting defending the WCW Championship against Scott Hall, and Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan going at it in a Steel Cage.
1999 was one of the worst years for WCW and Uncensored suffered. While we were treated to a fantastic match of the year candidate between Billy Kidman and Mikey Whipreck for the Cruiserweight Championship, we would see disappointing storylines advance. Kevin Nash squashed Rey Mysterio Jr., manager Sonny Onoo wrestled, a Perry Saturn-Chris Jericho match had its potential gutted when it was turned into a Dog Collar Match, and the main event was a First Blood Steel Cage Match between Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair. The match was supposed to have the heel Hogan trade places with baby face Flair and change the face of their feud. Instead, wrestling fans were left scratching their heads as to what they had just seen when this First Blood Match was not stopped when Flair started bleeding, yet then went on to PIN Hogan. While 1999 was a golden year for WWF, WCW was on a quick downward spiral. As bad as most of the card was, there was a pleasant surprise on this show in a Street Fight ! between Stevie Ray and Vincent (Virgil). One would never think these two would have a good pay per view match, but these two surprised the hell out of us as they threw themselves around and had a great pay per view showing.
Apparently, WCW decided that the last Uncensored pay per view in 2000 should be just as bad as the first in 1995, and oh how close they came. We saw a tag team match featuring Stevie Ray and Big T going against Billy Kidman and Booker. No, not Booker T, just Booker. Why? Because Booker had lost his rights to use the letter T in his name in a previous match against Big T. These two men actually had a match over who could use the letter T in their name. The former Ahmed Johnson who once wowed audiences with his big man, high-flying abilities treated us to a leap over the guard rail onto his opponent. His opponent? Apparently it was the guard rail since that was where he landed. Sting went against Lex Luger in Lumberjacks with Casts Match. If you got thrown to the outside, you would get beaten by a bunch of guys with casts. I have an idea; let's have a real Lumberjack Match. This means two men would square off with large, bearded men wearing flannel shirts and suspenders ! surrounding the ring wielding axes and chainsaws. My favorite feud in WCW at this time was Jeff Jarrett trying to steal the World Championship from Sid Vicious. After months of feuding, these two would not be granted a one-on-one pay per view main event because that spot was reserved for Hulk Hogan. The main event of Uncensored 2000 featured Hulk Hogan winning another Strap Match by beating Ric Flair. At least Flair was actually a legal man in the match, right?
While many fans look back on the Uncensored pay per views and cringe, we must not forget the lesson they taught us. If you look at these shows, it feels like the best cards were 1997 and 1998 because they didn?t feature an overload of gimmick matches. Look at shows today like TNA's Lockdown and WWE's One Night Stand/Extreme Rules. The idea of an annual event that is loaded with gimmick matches is nothing short of a forced overload. Yet WCW took a chance and it was worth it because they had guys like Ric Flair and Sting to be true showmen. You had up and comers like Dean Malenko, Booker T, and Eddy Guerrero to steal the show, and you had sportsmen like Dustin Rhodes, Arn Anderson, Jim Duggan, Brian Knobbs, and Meng who would always go out there and do what was asked of them. Uncensored may not have eclipsed Wrestlemania, but it was on shows Uncensored we saw true professionalism shine through.
I heart rasslin moment of the week: Ricky Steamboat confronts Chris Jericho. How I wish Steamboat were twenty years younger, what a dream match that would be.
Quote of the Week: You can?t come out here and intimidate and threaten my wife. Who do you think you are-Randy Orton? (Edge to John Cena on Monday's Raw)
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Thanks for reading!