365 matches in 365 days, each from that specific date on the calendar? Challenge accepted. Welcome to 365 Wrestling.
Our third installment of this unique traipse through the history of costumed murder gymnastics is also the first Reader Recommendation of the series.
You see, back when the Monday Night Wars were in full swing, WCW became VERY aggressive signing wrestlers to contracts. This created a glut of talent — more than could be used at any one time (much like what WWE faces now, even with all its different “brands. Anyway, this also led to some bizarre and highly entertaining matchups on WCW’s three C-level shows: WCW Saturday Night, Pro, and Worldwide. We reach into that wacky grab bag for today’s match: Juventud Guerrera vs. Mortis from the Jan. 3, 1998, episode of Saturday Night.
Mortis spent most of 1997 feuding with Glacier. This evolved into a tag rivalry, with Mortis and Wrath (aka Bryan Clarke or Adam Bomb) taking on Glacier and Ernest Miller. The whole angle between them basically got dropped by late summer of 1997.
As for Guerrera, by the time this match aired, he had been with WCW for about 16 months. That included sporadic appearances on the flagship show Nitro, and several challenges for the TV and Cruiserweight titles, but no real success to speak of yet.
Tony Schiavone spends a little time on commentary trying to build a story around this match, that Mortis was out to claim he was the best masked wrestler in WCW. The size difference between the two is… significant. Mortis starts out with some basic clubbering but the match hits a second gear after an artful bit of interference by James Vandenberg (better known as the Sinister Minister these days), who yanks down the middle rope to send Juvi spilling to the floor in an excellent bit of timing.
After that, things get wild, starting with Mortis busting out this:
After consulting with WCW super-enthusiast and technical wrestling specialist Jeff Connelly, we’re going to call this a deadlift pumphandle fallaway slam. It’s not so much the trip as the landing — Juvi gets dropped throatfirst across the top rope then crashes back to the canvas.
Mortis isn’t done. He follows up with an electric chair into a sitout facebuster. Though Mortis dominates most of the match, Juventud gets a few chances to shine: executing a partial tilt-a-whirl into a sleeper that Dusty Rhodes delightfully calls a “whirlybird”, and then countering an original Flatiner (from a fireman’s carry off the second rope) with a sunset flip powerbomb. Soon thereafter, Mortis finishes it, blocking a leap off the top by Juvi with a standing Flatliner — called “the D.O.A.” by Schiavone. Later, as Kanyon, he starts using this as the Flatliner.
— Mean Gene Okerlund shills the WCW Hotline prior to this match. That really took me back, you guys … I don’t remember ever calling it, though. How about you?
— It’s the first episode of WCWSN since Starrcade ’97, and Schiavone and Dusty spend a good bit of time on commentary talking about all the controversy, and how Sting is the new world champion. If you weren’t following wrestling at that time, you probably won’t understand how unique and impressive the build for that match was … and how disappointing the actual match between Sting and Hollywood Hogan ended up being.
— This match basically occurs in a vacuum from a booking perspective. Even though he’s in glorified enhancement talent mode here, Juventud won the Cruiserweight Title for the first time less than a week later on Thunder, later embarking on a feud with Chris Jericho that costs him his mask. Meanwhile, Mortis abandons the gimmick altogether by February, allying with Raven.
Final Rating: 5
There’s nothing wrong with the action here, but it’s one of those matches that is just kind of there for me. Sure, Mortis busts out a couple of crazy moves (most notably the one in the gif above), but the match itself is skippable. Booking moves for both render it irrelevant and there’s no real heat, drama, or stakes in what amounts to a glorified squash for Mortis except for a couple of big moves by Juvi.
What’s your favorite random match from a WCW C-show? Have a match you’d like me to watch as part of this 365 Wrestling project? Agree or disagree with my take on this match? Let me know by using the contact form on this site, or reach me on Twitter.