Hope all the members of the Sleeze Synod had a Happy Easter. Here is the most excellent hymn to celebrate the Paschal Mystery
|NOW That is an Easter Bunny!|
WCW Cruiserweight Champion Ultimo Dragon vs Dean Malenko
WCW Clash of the Champions XXXIV
Malenko will you come up from your leg bar and let the fans love you? You gotta let the fans love you before they fall asleep.
The fans at the Mecca in Milwaukee wanted desperately to cheer for Dean Malenko to kick some ass. Literally, every Malenko highspot gets a pop and they go wild for the finish. However, Malenko and Dragon seem committed to reversing the psychology much to the chagrin of the fans. Malenko vs Dragon is my least favorite cruiserweight/junior heavyweight match up of the 90s. Building an entire match around Ultimo Dragon selling the leg is a risky proposition and as expected he does not sell in the long run. Which makes the fact that Malenko won't work a hot sprint, fist-throwing sprint all the more frustrating. Instead, they settle for the worst indulgences of 90s NJPW Junior match meaning first 75% is perfunctory submission, limb psychology before kicking into high gear. The perfunctory submission was actually very well sold and Malenko worked over the knee really well, but I knew Dragon would be up hitting Asai Moonsaults and landing on his knees without pain so it was just a waste. It was doubly so because this was a crowd begging to cheer for Malenko. They popped for a kneecrusher for Christ Sake! Anytime, Malenko did anything besides a hold they were ready to cheer. You know what they did not want a Dragon comeback, but that was the only possible option after Malenko basically took a heat segment. I really enjoy Dragon's offense, but it is so frustrating because Malenko did such a stellar job working over the leg. Dragon's opponents should only work the arm. The finish run built to the climax of Malenko decking Sonny Onoo and applying Cloverleaf pretty well and the crowd popped huge for it. Deano Machino was over despite himself. Maybe he was playing hard to get? ***
WCW Cruiserweight Champion Syxx w/Kevin Nash vs Rey Mysterio - WCW Nitro 4/21/97
After a prolific breakout year in America in 1996, Rey Mysterio had a bit of a sophomore slump. Yes, he would have the best WCW match of the late 90s in 1997, but there was a wide chasm between the Halloween Havoc classic and his next best match. That is what happens when you feud with Prince Iaukea and basically given shit in the summer. I did not think the Dragon match at Spring Stampede was all that special so I would hold this up as my second favorite Rey match of 1997. As for Syxx, depending on how the Eddy ladder match goes, I have this only behind the tremendous Slamboree Six-Man for his tenure in WCW. It is so disappointing they were given such a short time, but they sure packed in a lot of action. Syxx was great at feeding Rey so fun spots early to get the crowd invested. His transition was great using Rey's speed against him by tossing him up and throwing him down. After being in the land of the giants in WWF, it must have been so cool for Syxx to finally be the bigger man in a match. You kinda forget that Syxx is a normal size human when he is always wrestling these behemoths. Syxx kicked some serious ass, but also kept it heel with the Bronco Buster (never liked that as a face move) and the cheating on the ab stretch. Rey crawling away from Big Sexy was a great visual. Rey's comeback off Syxx's missed Bronco Buster was great, but left you wanting so much more, a beautiful rana followed by maybe his best somersault plancha ever. Just when Rey Rey looked poised to win, Nash came in quick as a cat to stick him with the Jacknife. I actually liked Nash's involvement as it made the Cruiserweight Title mean even more with the elite of the New World Order taking the time to be at ringside and ensure his buddy's victory. It would have been better if it set up for a kickass rematch on PPV. Imagine Flair/Rey vs Nash/Syxx on Nitro to build to it. WOW! I have said it before and I'll say it again, if only I could have been booker of WCW in 1996-97 what a talent pool! Awesome TV match! ***1/2
WCW Cruiserweight Champion Chris Jericho vs Ultimo Dragon
WCW Bash At The Beach 1997
Jericho certainly had a penchant for biting off more than he could chew in this time period. The dropkick while on the top rope could have been disastrous and the Super-Rana on Gedo was. Jericho was trying to make a name for himself and I respect that. Hell, WCW was putting him in a position to succeed his WAR buddies and people like Eddie Guerrero. I liked this match warts and all. There are a lot of warts in the form of blown spots, but this dripped with effort and was very competitive something that has been missing from previous Dragon matches. I really felt the competitive rivalry in the form of the chippiness of some of the back elbows and the kicks. The opening babyface mirror matwork spots were fun until they got to the passe dropkick each other spot, which got them no applause. Good on on you Florida, don't encourage that bullshit. I was always a mark for the Dragon headstand in the corner and I liked it as the transition here. A lot of the work revolves around them knowing each other well so you get a lot of them going the extra mile to sucker their opponent in or using a dropkick as a counter. Dragon's kicks look great and he seems much more invested in winning this match than showing off. Jericho is here to win and make a statement and his double powerbomb is the perfect move to accomplish both goals. A great familiarity spot is Dragon does his usual floatover in the corner and Jericho keeps running to hit a quebrada off the turnbuckles. Jericho knew what was coming and leveraged it for the upper hand. They struggle on the top rope and Dragon bails before Jericho dropkicks him. I think that was pretty wise by Dragon and Tony & The Brain agree. Jericho follows that up by wiping him out with a springboard shouldertackle to the floor. Jericho was vanilla as fuck as a character, but he was trying his damnedest to get over with his in-ring work. It does get a little too move tradey down the stretch as everyone starts hitting dropkicks to counter and Dusty points out all these counters are great, but you got to get to the pay windah. I agree there is competitive and then there is is just oversaturation and the counters become inconsequential. The spot that really sticks out is when Jericho goes for the springboard shoudlerblock again and Drago side-steps him that was one helluva bump to set up the Asai Moonsault. Loved, loved Jericho doing a Lionsault when Dragon setting up a dropdown-run the ropes-tackle spot. That was the little shit that throws you off and makes me pop. Lionsault does not get it done. Jericho wriggles free of the Tiger Suplex and Dragon Sleeper. Dragon snaps off a quick hurricanarana, but his own momentum takes him over and Jericho scores the victory. There were too many cool, unique spots to not call this less than very good and it all worked in the context of two familiar, competitive rivals. Tighten up the match and connect with all the spots and this would have been a classic. As is, it is a very good unheralded WCW babyface vs babyface cruiserweight match. ***3/4
WCW Cruiserweight Champion Chris Jericho vs Eddie Guerrero - Fall Brawl 1997
WOW! I have seen this match before a bunch of times since I have it on DVD and always thought it was good, but today it really clicked with me. Eddie was just on fire during this heel run. He was doing all the right things. He was a sniveling coward, a funny stooge and a sadistic muthafucka at all the right times. Jericho during this bland Lionheart babyface run is not too fondly remembered, but when he was kicking ass he came off as a badass. I loved his chops and late in the game he kept up with Eddie spot for spot. His top wristlock really needs to be tightened up especially when Jarrett later on the show works a way better one. I miss top and double wristlocks in wrestling.
Big Eddie Sucks chant early and Eddie hits the stall to milk it by covering his heel. On the first armdrag, Eddie claims his hair was pulled. Eddie makes all of Jericho matwork really fun. Eddie takes his first big bump when he goes flying into the top rope to set up the Lionsault. It is all Jericho early who looks like a runaway freight train. Eddie out of desperation on the apron snaps Jericho's neck across the top rope. Eddie goes to town on Jericho's back with a ton of cool surfboards even breaking out the Gory Special. Jericho reverses into his own and drops Eddie on his face. Jericho follows up with some weak clothesline. I like how Tony calls them as such because Jericho has taken a beating that's how you call what you are selling but give a good kayfabe justification. Jericho consolidates his advantage when he crotches Eddie on the top rope and sends him for the ride. That spot never gets old! Perfect timing for Jericho's springboard dropkick. In the gnarly spot, I always remember Jericho looks to powerbomb Eddie off the apron, but drops back with it hotshotting him. Eddie falls off the apron onto Jericho. It was a desperation play by Jericho to level the playing field, but not without cost to himself. They just start throwing bombs with reckless abandon and it is super fun. Everything is hitting so crisply. Jericho's release German sent Eddie flying halfway across the ring. Again, Tony covering for the kickout saying Jericho had to crawl so far cost him the pinfall. Jericho hits his double powerbomb spot and places Eddie on the top rope for the superplex. Eddie counters mid-move (Yes, it does look like Eddie took a Brainbuster) by reversing his weight. This leaves Jericho prone for the Frogsplash.
I really liked how this match built perfectly to the finish. You had Jericho dominate early, but get caught by a nefarious Eddie tactic. Eddie worked a tremendous heat segment with a wicked sneer. Then it just came down to a crazy wild finish of bombs with each going for the win. It made the Cruiserweight title feel really important. I loved the finish with Jericho looking to pull the trigger on a superplex, which could win him the match, but on this occasion he pays the price for this high risk move and Eddie capitalizes. Great stuff! ****1/4
WCW Cruiserweight Champion Eddy Guerrero vs Rey Mysterio - WCW Halloween Havoc 1997 Title Vs Mask
When people talk about matches that you need to see before you die, this is near the top of the list. In fact, I think even non-wrestling fans could appreciate the athleticism and execution on display from these two high caliber wrestlers. From a pure execution standpoint, you will be hard-pressed to find a better match. It was two of the greatest wrestlers ever at their absolute peak just both having the night of their lives and coming together to make violent, yet graceful art. Rey was absolutely poetry in motion. Not one single flub in a performance that featured some of the most complicated moves you will ever see while not coming off as a forced spot. The springboard DDT counter and the somersault plancha into the hurricanrana are just mind-blowing. Then you have to remember, he had to do this having just taken a shit kicking from Eddy. Eddy was just at his violent best. Everything was just so crisp and nasty. His chops and strikes reverberated around the building. His backbreakers and whips into the steel were violent. His holds stretched Rey to his breaking point. Ripping at the mask, he was just adding insult to injury. The mask was attached to the bodysuit because of a previous incident where Eddy ripped off Rey's mask, which caused a Rey loss. The Las Vegas crowd was with them in lockstep. "Eddie Sucks!" filled the ring during every brutal hold on Rey's back. They bit on Rey's nearfalls desperately hoping he would win the title and keep the mask. Eddy never let the match get out of hand. For every breath-taking Rey counter, he literally had a breath-taking counter which would evacuate the air from Rey's lungs (wicked double leg whip or back suplex) or knock him senseless (violent dropkick to the back of the head and HOLY SHIT powerbomb). Rey, though he screamed in agony, never quit. At first his fancy footwork was his downfall because Eddy anticipated his movements and could counter at will, but slowly he was connecting with more and more. Finally as he pulled himself from the Tree of Woe and Eddy slid into post, Rey took control and the crowd was cheering him on with each incredible move, the hurricanrana out of the tilt-a-whirl backbreaker is one of the best false finishes of all time. Eddie still would get his when he turned a springboard hurricanarana into a backbreaker. Eddy was poised to win with a frogsplash, but Rey moved and Eddy rolled through. Eddy looked to polish him off with Splash Mountain and just when it looked like Rey ran out of escapes he pulled out his best the hurricanarana out of Splash Mountain. You know until I watched it this time with a critical eye, it was the first time I noticed with was sub-15 minutes. They pack so much action in there that feels like a 20 minute match, but it is still so well-paced that you never feel like it is tiring. It does feel slightly abbreviated and they never really get a chance to milk any one spot, minor quibble. Eddie is just the meanest man in this match. He may have the best sneer in wrestling history and to think he may also have the most charismatic smile makes me miss him all that much more. Rey is the ultimate underdog. That is it, he is the best underdog ever. You know how much the mask means to him and here is Eddy ripping it at and just being a total prick. They just could not fire a bad shot in this match. ****3/4
Rey Misterio Jr & Juventud Guerrera vs La Parka & Psicosis - Nitro 12/15/97
Gotta love Larry Z marking the fuck out for the 450 Splash, which is a personal favorite move of mine. These guys went balls to the wall for this match and never let up. They win the crowd and the announcers over. Psicosis and La Parka were such great heels. it is a shame they never got pushed as a tag team. La Parka telling a fan to suck it was awesome. La Parka and Psicosis went off early with Psicosis hitting a nasty Guillotine Legdrop and La Parka with a wicked powerbomb. Rare misfire in a great match was when Juvy was shot into his own corner during the FIP. Once Rey gets in, they go all out to impress everyone. The stereo somersault planchas were awesome. I love when La Parka and Psicosis are shown up like when they kick La Parka leg out causing him to dropkick Psicosis. Juvy throws Rey into a hurricarna onto La Parka. WOW! Psicosis pulls Rey out. La Parka with a wicked chop, but Rey pays them back by tripping up La Parka. Juvy counters a top rope slam in mid-air and Tony loses his fucking mind. La Parka gets caught dancing one too many times and damn Rey's huricanrana game was off the charts as he nails him with a springboard hurricanrana to the floor on La Parka. 450 SPLASH! WOW! If only all spotfests were this good! ***3/4