Much like WCW themselves, BRM's monthly "This Day in Wrestling History" review series takes an ill-advised trip to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally for Hog Wild.
OPENING OF THE SHOW - They hired a helicopter to show us an overhead view of Sturgis, here for this show with a gate of $0. After a video package about the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and the aforementioned helicopter spot. Then we were treated to Dusty Rhodes and Tony Schiavone dressed like bikers. It was... quite a sight to behold.
WCW CRUISERWEIGHT TITLE MATCH:
Rey Mysterio Jr.(c) vs. Ultimo Dragon (w/Sonny Onoo) - 6.5/10
Or, as Dragon was both announced and billed "Ultimate Dragon." Well... it's a WCW show. Can you really expect any better?
I hesitate to write this for fear of giving modern fans any ideas, but early on in this match (right after the "USA!" chant got going" someone in the front row started throwing around what I am absolutely certain was an inflatable sex doll.
They have the ring set up on this platform that has about four feet of room on each side, covered in blue mats... and after that there is about a four or five foot drop to the ground, covered in gravel and dirt. I figured that meant there was no way these guys would be diving, but they did. Rey even did a springboard cross body from the top rope all the way to the ground.
The story of the match was mostly Dragon dominating but being cocky and celebrating when he should have been pressing his advantage and going for pins. It was relatively basic but fun Lucha Libre.
BIKER MEAN GENE PLUGS HIS HOTLINE - Gene is another one for the "you MUST see how he is dressed" category.
SCOTT NORTON vs. ICE TRAIN - 5/10
Fire and Ice explodes! They hit each other very hard, a lot. Ice Train's shoulder was taped up so Norton worked that over a bit and made him tap out to a Fujiwara Armbar.
RIC FLAIR INTERVIEW CLIPS FROM WCW SATURDAY ABOUT THE n.W.o.'s ATTACK ON ARN ANDERSON - A very good promo by Flair to help set up the War Games match next month. It's just of weird to see Flair talking about this on the show where he is defending his US Title against Eddie Guerrero as opposed to wrestling a member of the n.W.o.
WINNER SMASHES THE LOSER'S BIKE:
Madusa vs. Bull Nakano (w/Sonny Onoo) - 3.75/10
Sonny Onoo's bike was a Honda painted to look like the Japanese flag. The fans rallied behind Madusa by chanting "USA!" and "HARLEY" (I'm assuming her bike was a Harley) and by revving their bikes. The referee had to wildly flail around to even come close to avoid seeing Nakano nit Madusa with nunchuks at the beginning of the match. In hindsight, it's fairly clear the referee forgot what the finish was supposed to be because they tried the same spot twice in a row before getting it right the third time.
The ladies had a decent large heel vs. smaller babyface match for the time they got, but the execution of the finish was completely botched by everyone else aside from the two women and Sonny, killing the match. It was one of those deals where the person who gets hit with the bridging suplex gets his/her shoulder up but the person giving the suplex has their shoulder's down and is apparently too dumb to realize it. Nakano and Sonny started to celebrate as if they had won, which was what they were supposed to do and Madusa acted confused (because she couldn't have known Nakano's shoulders were also down), which was what she was supposed to do.
The referee, however, did not raise Madusa's hand and the ring announcer did not announce a finish. The announcers (and myself) assumed that Madusa had simply gotten her shoulder up and the match was still going on. Sonny Onoo grabbed the sledgehammer that was at ringside for the promised bike-smashing and went to smash Madusa's bike but the referee ran over to stop him. At this point the bell rang, so I assumed that Nakano had been disqualified because Sonny was going to break the bike before the agreed-upon position had been met. Madusa got the sledgehammer away from him and chased him away, then smashed Sonny/Nakano's bike. It was only now that one of the announcers figured out (or rather was probably told) what the actual finish was... which is something you'd think that they would have told at least one of the announcers before the match started... but this is WCW, so of course they didn't.
DEAN MALENKO vs. CHRIS BENOIT (w/Miss Elizabeth & Woman) - 8/10
I'm not sure why the referee randomly decided that this match couldn't end with a time limit draw, but I'm darn glad he did.
WCW WORLD TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
Harlem Heat(c) (w/Col. Robert Parker & Sister Sherri) vs. the Steiner Brothers - 6/10
Once both teams were in the ring, we got several minutes of nothing happening while the cameras showed us the bikers making noise. I'm not making any allegations here; just reporting the facts: This was the match that the crowd was most into BY FAR, and they were VERY pro-Steiners.
This match really dragged on. I think this match should be exhibit A for why it's always best to work a limb or the neck rather than doing a bunch of nerve holds and headlocks. The heels won with a finish involving powder and a shot from Col. Parker's cane. The fans threw trash into the ring after the finish.
STURGIS VIDEO PACKAGE - this was over three minutes of shots of wrestlers riding their motorcycles, other people riding their motorcycles, people getting tattoos, people showing off their tattoos and piercings, and people in very little clothing ("highlighted" by a man and submissive gal-pal in S&M gear, both of whom were AT LEAST 65 years old).
WCW UNITED STATES TITLE MATCH:
Ric Flair(c) (w/Miss Elizabeth & Woman) vs. Eddie Guerrero - 6.75/10
This was definitely your usual patterned Ric Flair match, but the crowd was into most of it, the heel finish was good, and it was quite entertaining.
JIMMY HART & THE GIANT PROMO - The Giant was good. Jimmy Hart was... Jimmy Hart.
LEX LUGER & STING vs. THE OUTSIDERS - 6.5/10
They spent the money to get pathetically lame fireworks for Sting and Luger's entrance. It was the story of stuff that if you saw it from a distance you wouldn't say "look at those pretty fireworks," you'd say "oh no! It looks like that building is about to explode.
They had an otherwise decent match with Sting as the babyface in peril, but Nick Patrick's infamous interference on the finish looked so bad that there is no possible way that anyone could have believable climax it was inadvertent. Yet another instance where Nick Patrick completely screws up a big moment.
WCW WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH:
The Giant(c) (w/Jimmy Hart) vs. Hollywood Hogan - 4/10
They actually brought Michael Buffer with them to Sturgis. He's in full tuxedo, as always. He asked "Bikers of the world... are you rrrrready?!" He also explained to us that Hogan was "wearing black instead of his customary yellow and red." We can see that, Mike. Hogan got fireworks that, while still lame, were at least better than what Sting and Luger got.
Lots of stalling early on from Hogan, followed by more slow stuff like the big "test of strength" spot. The match was pretty boring until the end. Big Show doing something that kinda-sorta mirrored Hogan's usual comeback was a really cool idea, and the execution of the run-ins was done shockingly well, considering that... well... it's WCW and look what happened in the previous match. Also, watching seven-foot Kevin Nash in his bright red gear try to sneak around ringside was hilarious.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Great. It's Hogan's birthday so The Bootyman, now wearing an n.W.o. shirt, brought Hogan a cake because it's his birthday. Hogan cut a promo that felt like it was going to be your usual long, rambling, pointless Hogan promo, but he actually managed to tie everything together, talking about how Flair's weakness was his best friend Arn Anderson, then showing that Hogan was willing to beat up his own best friend, "and If I'm willing to do that to my own best friend, imagine what I'm gonna do to you." Hogan then famously spray-painted n.W.o. on his newly-won WCW World Heavyweight Title belt.
Much has been said about what a terrible idea it was to go to Sturgis (in particular the financial idiocy involved in trading an arena full of paying customers for a much smaller non-paying audience), but one thing I have not heard discussed much is how this affected the look of the show. To be frank: it looked like they were presenting "Live Wrestling from the White Trash County Fair." The crowd often didn't seem interested, you could see station wagons parked in the background, people just wandering around and talking, and a good thirty percent of the males in the crowd were shirtless (including some children). It just looked like total crap and screamed "THIS PRODUCT IS NOT COOL." I'm really not trying to be an asshole. This is just how it came across to me.
In the ring, this also wasn't very good. Rey vs. Ultimo Dragon was fun and exciting and the Benoit vs. Malenko match was great, but things really went downhill once the bigger matches started, which was exactly the opposite of what you want. While I didn't have high hopes for Hogan vs. Giant, I did for Steiners vs. Harlem Heat, Flair vs. Eddie, and the Outsiders vs. Sting & Luger, and none of those three big matches delivered. This is definitely a show I will not ever be watching again... which is something I also anticipate saying about next month's "This Day in Wrestling History" review, but that show just looked too crazy to not watch it, so I'll be doing it anyway, But you'll have to wait until next month to find out what it is.