365 matches in 365 days, each from that specific date on the calendar? Challenge accepted. Welcome to 365 Wrestling.
Back when the Monday Night Wars were in full swing, WCW became extremely aggressive signing wrestlers. This created a glut of talent — more than could be used at any one time — to the point that wrestlers were under contract for years and rarely booked or not used at all. 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.
You can find this match online with a shrewd bit of searching.
A quick plug of the WCW Hotline by Mean Gene Okerlund has us fully ensconced in WCW nostalgia mode. Tony Schiavone spends a little time on commentary building a story that Mortis is out to become the best masked wrestler in WCW. This is one of those C-show plots that basically occurred in a vacuum. Case in point: Juventud wins the Cruiserweight Title for the first time less than a week later on Thunder, while by February of 1998, Mortis has abandoned the character altogether, unmasking and allying with Raven.
More people are aware of the ability of Mortis (aka Chris Kanyon), and his influence on future wrestlers, after his Dark Side of the Ring episode. We see some of that innovation here. Following a very well-timed bit of interference by James Vandenberg (better known as the Sinister Minister these days), Mortis takes control and busts 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 has a big size advantage and it plays into a teased comeback by Juventud, who converts an apparent tilt-a-whirl headscissors into a sleeper (Dusty Rhodes delightfully calls this as a “whirlybird”). Later, Juvi uses Mortis’ larger size against him, countering an original Flatliner (from a fireman’s carry off the second rope) with a sunset flip powerbomb. However, it’s not long before Mortis finishes with a move Schiavone calls “the D.O.A.” but is now the move we wrestling aficionados know as the Flatliner.
Final Rating: 5
There’s nothing wrong with the action here, but not a lot worth seeking it out, either. However, current and aspiring managers should watch the interference by Vandenberg for the artful timing on opening the ropes quickly and at the exact ideal moment.
It’s January 4, so there’s only one destination… The Tokyo Dome.