365 Wrestling, Day 24: Eight Man Tag (WCW Souled Out, 1/24/98)

365 Wrestling, Day 24: Eight Man Tag (WCW Souled Out, 1/24/98)

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

If you wanted to introduce wrestling to a friend of yours who hadn’t seen it, what would you show them? This is a question I’ve tossed about in my head for years, and one with endless potential answers depending on what you define as good wrestling. What about if you wanted to show someone a specific style of wrestling… lucha libre for example? I might suggest showing them this match that served as the opener of Souled Out 1998. Sit back and enjoy this eight-man tag (or, to use the parlance of lucha libre, atómicos) in all its splendor.

You can watch this match on Peacock.

The Match

This match kicked off the pay-per-view card, and we’ve got Chavo Guerrero, Jr., Lizmark, Jr., Super Calo, and Juventud Guerrera facing La Parka. Psicosis (billed as Psychosis at this time by WCW), El Dandy, and Silver King.

This is positioned as a sprint to fire up the crowd before moving on to other matters that are higher on the booking priority list. Still, there’s lots to like here and plenty of highlights. Whenever Dusty Rhodes is on commentary, you can always tell when something really cool is about to happen because Dusty drops his accent.

Silver King and Lizmark really get the crowd going with a swank exchange of chops punctuated by a titl-a-whirl backbreaker by Lizmark, Jr. El Dandy doesn’t play a big role in the match but he makes the most of his ring time, most notably taking a monkey flip by Chavo and then delivering a headfirst suicide dive as part of an amazing sequence of dives near the end of the match. La Parka stands out by being the only man in the eight who really plays up to the crowd.

If I had to give an MVP to the match, it might be Silver King. He fully commits at every moment he’s in the match, whether on offense or feeding into one of the four tecnicos. He also takes the biggest bump of the match, springing off the middle rope on a plancha to the floor only to miss and eat the concrete.

After Chavo pins Psicosis after a tornado DDT, La Parka runs amok with a steel chair, wiping out each of the four men on the opposing team, and then blasting two of his own teammates for good measure. Following a celebratory dance on the chair to the delight of the crowd, La Parka tucks it under his arm and strolls out. The character work here is a delight.

Final Rating: 6.5

This match lasts less than 10 minutes but damn if these eight don’t make the most of their time — and then some. It’s also a fantastic opening match for a card, with nothing but action and a bunch of big moves to get the crowd fired up for anything and everything coming next.

Eric Bischoff and his role in wrestling remains a pretty polarizing topic, but I always felt he deserved credit for the WCW cruiserweight division — the predecessor in many ways to Ring of Honor and the X-Division of TNA and the style that is now popular across a variety of promotions with TV exposure. Bischoff also brought in a solid contingent of luchadores in the summer of 1996, most of them straight from Mexico, and several of them taking part in this match. Both these moves — emphasizing the cruiserweights and giving luchadores a platform on nationwide American TV — changed wrestling. Not only that. Bischoff let the Mexican luchadores wrestle their style, as opposed to signing them and trying to “Americanize” them.

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

What’s Next

Now, how about an American twist on lucha?

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 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.

The Dangerous Alliance is one of my favorite factions in wrestling.

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: Arn Anderson, Beautiful Bobby Eaton (who we’ve already seen as part of the project), Stunning Steve Austin (long before he was Stone Cold), Rick Rude, Larry Zbysko, and Madusa.

The Dangerous Alliance never reached the heights of success of other major heel groups in WCW like the Four Horsemen and the New World Order, but stand out by having good to great matches almost every week across WCW’s various programming. Matches like today’s entry, from WCW WorldWide on January 11, 1992, pitting Anderson, Eaton and Austin against the trio of Ricky Steamboat, Dustin Rhodes, and Ron Simmons.

You can find this match online with some strategic searching.

The Match

By 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 from Arn and Zbysko at Clash of the Champions XVII in November of ’91, 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.

All caught up? Good.

Tony Schiavone is on commentary solo and does a good job keeping track of so many moving pieces, including more subtle cues, such as when a groggy Dustin Rhodes reaches for a tag in the vacant neutral corner. From a structural standpoint, note how each of the fan favorites has a separate chance to shine early, as each man single-handedly clears the ring of his three Alliance foes. Paul E. helps sell it, twice dialing up some unknown soul on his gigantic handheld phone trying to get his team back on track.

Teamwork is one of the themes of this match. In an innovative transition, the Alliance take control when Arn smashes Dustin’s into Eaton’s noggin on the apron. Much of the action here would be defined by modern standards as basic. No crazy moves. Not trying to re-invent the wheel. But the difference is that everything is done with precision and intensity. It’s good solid wrestling, and lots of it, happening at a brisk pace from bell to bell.

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 when Steamboat disrupts a double-team by Arn and Eaton, and Simmons catches Beautiful Bobby in midair for 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 legdrop by Eaton before Windham sends the rulebreakers scattering.

Final Rating: 6.8

With a less talented group of wrestlers, this match easily would be skippable. Instead, the little touches, the overarching storyline and the overall talent of the six men involved help make this a compelling watch.

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

What’s Next

Some tag action from 2007 featuring one of my favorites.

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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.

You may have heard or read a story about “Beautiful” Bobby Eaton being one of the nicest people in wrestling?

Whatever you’ve seen or heard, it’s probably true.

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 a friend and I helped move the ring and apparatus into the upstairs location. He even came to the house a few times for cookouts and pay-per-view nights. 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.

For all who knew him, I assure you, he is missed.

Though Eaton is known moreso for his tag work, especially in the Midnight Express, in today’s installment of 365 Wrestling, we’re taking a look at a slice of his 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 Match

This is the second title shot for Eaton in 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. Flair was in the midst of a rare run as babyface champion, roughl;y 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 Peacock.)

Flair spent so much of his career, especially during his runs as champion, making his opponents look strong and gives plenty to Eaton, but Beautiful Bobby also embraces the role of making his foe look like a million bucks. Eaton makes Flair’s chops look devastating, most notably one where he’s standing on the apron and drops facefirst to the floor.

Momentum shifts on a, pardon the pun, beautiful swinging neckbreaker from Eaton and Lance Russell brings up Funk’s piledriving Flair through the table the previous May and ponders its cumulative effects. By the way, Russell puts in some stellar work on commentary. He’s calling the match by himself (which I can tell you, from experience, is a challenge) and simultaneously 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. Definitely worth studying for any current or aspiring commentators who read this.

Eaton focuses his attack on the neck of Flair, sprinkling in several of his perpetually excellent-looking punches and using a version of Flair’s signature figure-four against him, but securing the hold around the neck of the champ. Cornette plays his role to the hilt, interfering at a couple of opportune moments to whip the crowd into a frenzy and add extra sizzle to the match like a good manager should. After Flair makes an impressive and creative counter to a top rope kneedrop by Eaton, Cornette’s tactics bring down his man, as Flair grabs the loaded tennis racquet and wallops both manager and challenger before scoring the decisive pin.

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. My only real criticism is that Eaton doesn’t seem a legitimate chance to win, given the midcard status of the Midnight Express at the time of this match.

What’s Next

Two of Japan’s all-time greats square off in their only singles battle.

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

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365 Wrestling, Day 3: Juventud Guerrera vs. Mortis (WCWSN, 1/3/98)

365 Wrestling, Day 3: Juventud Guerrera vs. Mortis (WCWSN, 1/3/98)

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.

The Match

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.

What’s Next

It’s January 4, so there’s only one destination… The Tokyo Dome.

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

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