365 Wrestling, Day 11: Ricky Steamboat, Dustin Rhodes & Ron Simmons vs. Dangerous Alliance (WCW WorldWide, 1/11/92)

365 Wrestling, Day 11: Ricky Steamboat, Dustin Rhodes & Ron Simmons vs. Dangerous Alliance (WCW WorldWide, 1/11/92)

365 matches in 365 days, each from that specific date on the calendar? Challenge accepted. Welcome to 365 Wrestling.

Another Reader Recommendation today, as independent wrestler and Zubaz enthusiast Jeff Connelly pitched me on this six-man tag from WCW in 1992, smackdab in the heart of the Dangerous Alliance storyline. Specifically, Arn Anderson, Bobby Eaton and “Stunning” Steve Austin rep the Alliance against the babyface trio of Ricky Steamboat, Dustin Rhodes, and Ron Simmons.

You can find this match online with some strategic searching.

The Context

Paul E. Dangerously (who you might know better as Paul Heyman) formed the Dangerous Alliance over the span of several weeks in late 1991. Dangerously, who had been fired in storyline from his commentary position, was out for revenge. By late November, he had assembled his squad: Anderson, Eaton, Austin, Rick Rude, Larry Zbysko, and Madusa. At this point, in early 1992, the Alliance controls two titles in WCW, with Austin the TV Champ and Rude holding the U.S. Title. Anderson and Eaton are chasing the tag titles, currently held by Steamboat and Rhodes. They won the titles at Clash of the Champions XVII in November (the last major event before Dangerously “officially” forms his stable), beating Arn and Zbysko when Steamboat showed up as a surprise partner for Rhodes after the champs broke the hand of Rhodes’ original partner, Barry Windham, earlier in the night. As for Simmons, he was firmly ensconced in the upper midcard at the time. The week before, on the prior episode of WorldWide, the Alliance jumped Simmons at the end of a TV Title match against Austin when he had the champion apparently beat. Steamboat and Rhodes made the save, setting the stage for this match.

The Match

The Dangerous Alliance is such an impressive and underrated stable. They never reached the heights of success of other major heel groups in WCW like the Four Horsemen and the nWo, but stand out in two ways: one, by having good matches almost every week across WCW’s various programming; and two, with the synergy and teamwork they show. Even when they weren’t wracked by dissension, neither the Horsemen nor the nWo display the type of team-first mentality you witness from the Alliance. It shines through in sacrifice, such as when Arn smashes Dustin Rhodes’ head into Eaton’s noggin on the apron to help the Alliance finally take over the match after several minutes where each of the babyfaces fights off the entire trio and clears the ring, single-handed, in three separate segments. Eaton tumbles to the floor off the impact, and Paul E. is quick to check on him. Overall, Paul and Eaton show a chemistry that hearkens back to Beautiful Bobby and Jim Cornette in the Midnight Express.

The little touches really elevate this six man, such as:

–When Dustin kicks out after eating a huge clothesline from Austin, Steamboat (who was already headed in to try and break up the pin) starts cheering on his partner
–As the beatdown on Rhodes continues, Arn backs into the ropes to deliver a stalling kneedrop to Dustin, only for Steamboat to slide into the ring and take the knee across his own back
–A unique turnabout spot, where Arn goes to ram Dustin’s head into the outstretched knee of Austin in a tag-match spot we’ve all seen a million times, only for Dustin to send Arn’s cranium into the knee instead. Arn and Dustin smash skulls after the impact while Austin, doing the Wrestling Gods’ work, stumbles to the floor, selling his knee after the impact

The finish reiterates the theme of sacrifice and teamwork. After laying waste to the Alliance trio following a long-awaited tag from Rhodes, Simmons is the apparent victim of a double team by Arn and Eaton, with Arn restraining Simmons as Beautiful Bobby ascends to the top rope. Steamboat comes flying in to stop Arn, and Simmons catches Eaton in midair and delivers a spinebuster to give the good guys a rare victory over the Dangerous Alliance.

No time to celebrate. as Zbysko comes hustling to the ring for a 4-on-3 beatdown, which sees Steamboat eat both a spike piledriver and a flying Eaton legdrop before Windham sends the heels scattering.

Random Thoughts

–WorldWide was one of the B-shows for WCW at the time (this was pre-Nitro, remember, so WCW Saturday night is the flagship), but as I said the Dangerous Alliance had matches across every WCW program during this era, which makes for one of the most consistently entertaining, watchable runs of wrestling TV that ever has been produced.

–Ring announcer Gary Michael Cappetta clarifies this match isn’t the main event but the “featured confrontation.” Alright then.

–Paul E. jumping on his handheld phone trying to figure out what’s happening early when the babyfaces are in control made me legitimately chuckle.

Final Rating: 6.1

The action here is hard-hitting and the story is fairly simple. With a less talented group of wrestlers, this match easily would be skippable. Instead, the little touches and the overarcing storyline help make this a compelling watch.

Here’s the complete, ongoing list of matches in this project.

What’s Next

We head to SmackDown in 2007 for a match involving yet another of my personal favorites.

Got 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.

365 Wrestling, Day 7: Ric Flair vs. Bobby Eaton (WCW Main Event, 1/7/90)

365 Wrestling, Day 7: Ric Flair vs. Bobby Eaton (WCW Main Event, 1/7/90)

365 matches in 365 days, each from that specific date on the calendar? Challenge accepted. Welcome to 365 Wrestling.

Every story you hear about “Beautiful” Bobby Eaton being one of the nicest people in wrestling?

To quote Han Solo in The Force Awakens, it’s all true. All of it.

In the 2000s, Bobby lived in my hometown for a little while. I got to meet him through a mutual friend. He had a wrestling school downtown, for a little while, and I helped move the ring and apparatus into the upstairs location. He even came to the house a few times. Years later, after Eaton had moved on and I was working as a commentator for an independent promotion in the area, Eaton had been booked as a manager. Not only did he remember me, but when I said something about being tired (I was loading trucks at FedEx in the wee hours of the morning at the time, as my writing work had slowed down), he offered me a coffee.

His coffee.

In addition to being an all-around good guy, Eaton also is a fantastic wrestler. He’s known best for his tag work, especially in the Midnight Express with Stan Lane and Dennis Condrey, In today’s installment of 365 Wrestling, we’re taking a look at Eaton in singles action, as he challenges Ric Flair for the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Title from a 1990 Episode of WCW Main Event.

You can find this match on YouTube.

The Context

This is the second title shot for Eaton in a span of about a month. In the first, Flair won by DQ after Eaton’s ever-present manager Jim Cornette interfered to keep Beautiful Bobby from getting ensnared in the figure-four leglock. Cornette cuts a pre-match promo for his man, and hints that this time Stan Lane will be watching as well.

Flair was in the midst of a rare run as babyface champion, less that two months removed from settling the score in a feud with Terry Funk that remains one of my favorites of all time. (Note: if you haven’t seen it, go and watch his matches with Funk from the 1989 Great American Bash [arguably one of the best pay-per-views of all time] and Clash of the Champions IX, both available on the WWE Network. About a month after this match airs, Flair flips back to the heel side, when he and the Andersons kick out Sting from the Four Horsemen.

The Match

Flair spent so much of his career, especially during his runs as champion, bumping and selling and doing all he good to make his opponents look strong. Flair gives plenty to Eaton, who centers his assault around the neck of the champion, but it’s Eaton who embraces the role of making his foe look like a million bucks. Particularly, Eaton makes Flair’s chops look devastating. Flair does his part by laying them in (evidenced. by Eaton’s rapidly reddening chest), but Eaton takes some huge bumps off them, most notably one from, the apron that sends him facefirst to the floor. It’s not just the chops; around the five-minute mark, Eaton takes a shoulder tackle from Flair at center ring and spills all the way out of the ring. Eaton puts his body on the line in the final minutes, taking a backdrop on the concrete floor.

Let it be clear, this is a showcase for both wrestlers. One recurring theme throughout the match is the battle of strikes between Flair’s chops and Eaton’s punches (which always look excellent). Flair busts out his “Flair flip” over the turnbuckles twice: once when he tumbles to the floor and again when he dashes down the apron, scales to the top, and clobbers Eaton with a forearm smash.

Meanwhile, Cornette plays his role at ringside well, interfering at a couple of opportune moments to whip the crowd into a frenzy and add extra sizzle to the match. Ultimately, Cornette’s tactics bring down Eaton, as Flair shows his “dirtiest player in the game” rep, cutting off another attempt at interference by Cornette, grabbing the tennis racket, and using it to wallop both the manager and his challenger before scoring the decisive pin.

Lance Russell puts on a tremendous performance as the commentator for this match. He’s calling the match by himself (which I can tell you, from experience, is a challenge) and does an altogether excellent job. Simultaneously, he builds the story of the match, reacts organically to major events as they happen, and gives a straight call of the action without delving too far down any one path. Russell makes a side headlock by Flair around the five-minute mark of the video sound devastating. Later, when Eaton starts to take control, he makes a callback to Flair’s previous neck troubles from Funk piledriving him through a table the previous May.

Final Rating: 7.2

This is a very good TV main event with significant stakes and sees two of the best from their era facing off in a rare one-on-one encounter. Both men come out of the match looking strong. My only major complaint is that, in spite of his skill, you never really buy Eaton as having a legitimate chance to become champion, given the midcard status of the Midnight Express at the time of this match.

What’s Next

We get a second look at Minoru Suzuki in his only singles battle with one of Japan’s all-time greats.

Here’s the complete, ongoing list of matches in this project.

Got 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.