Kevin Greene passed away this week. Of course he was mostly known for his career as a NFL linebacker. But he also had a handful of matches in WCW in the mid 1990s. So why not take the opportunity to look back on one of them right now?
Lets dive into WCW Slamboree 1997!
We have the commentary team of Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan and Dusty Rhodes on commentary. That can only mean shenanigans are going to be about.
WCW TV Championship: Ultimo Dragon (c) vs Sony Onoo vs Steven Regal
And now Mike Tenay joins the announce team for this opening match. A four man announce booth is bad even when you have good announcers involved like this. Regal doesn’t want to be known as Lord Steven anymore. Just Steven. I guess people treated him bad because of his Lord name. We would truly never do that to you my fine British friends.
Regal keeps the action on the ground early on. I guess Ultimo Dragon beat Prince Iaukea to win the TV title. So at least Dragon saved us from a Prince Iaukea match. Dragon finally escapes Regals offense and lands some hard kicks to the back then keeps the offense on the mat as well.
Tenay claims the TV title is the only title Regal wants. He doesn’t want the US Title because he hates America, and apparently he doesn’t like the nWo’s vandalism to the World title. Umm, sure Mike. He could have won the US title and renamed it the Newcastle United Championship or something!
There are some sudden bursts of offense where both men get to their feet but it quickly goes right back to the mat. I would say about 90% of the match has taken place down on the mat. The crowd actually breaks into a Regal chant which is weird. Dragon sends Regal to the outside and Onoo lands some kicks which doesn’t seem to make the Dragon happy.
Dragon hits a hurricarrana off the top for two but misses a top rope moonsault. Regal hits a double arm suplex. Dragon cradles Regal but they end up in the ropes. Dragon sends Regal to the outside. Regal casually walks away as Dragon half asses a springboard dive to the outside. That was weird. It doesn’t matter because Dragon throws Regal into the railing then hits a springboard moonsault to the outside.
Onoo lands some more kicks but Dragon sends him away. Onoo then kicks Dragon as Regal pulls Dragon back into the ring. Regal hits a front suplex then applies the Regal Stretch and Dragon gives up. Good match that picked up in intensity then kind of fell flat in the last couple minutes.
Luna Vachon vs Madusa
Wow, I completely forgot Luna Vachon was in WCW for a cup of coffee. And now we have Lee Marshall on commentary, because I guess he is an expert on the women’s division? If you listen to the Lapsed Fan Wrestling Podcast like I do it is quite funny that Marshall is out there doing commentary.
Madusa already has her ridiculously over sized breast implants. For some reason she also needs to yell every time she delivers an offensive move. She is like the Lex Luger of female wrestlers. Madusa wins with a German suplex. They tried. I will give them that much. But it wasn’t anything great.
Mean Gene plugs the hotline. Nothing too juicy. The Macho Man’s nWo music plays and he comes out with Elizabeth. I really hate that Randy Savage ended up joining the nWo. Savage and Sting should have never joined the nWo.
Just looking at the crowd behind Savage. Boy we are in redneck country. Savage says DDP does not want any part of the Madness anymore. DDP comes out through the crowd with a crutch as Savage and Liz bail.
DDP wants to know why Savage bailed He says he guesses Savage has to go to Hogan’s house to wash his car and kiss his ass. See how easy it is for guys to get over naturally with promos like these? Savage tells his nWo buddies who came out to move to the side, including Virgil.
Savage comes to the ring and DDP lays into him with the crutch. He hits everyone in the nWo including Bischoff. A piece of crutch goes flying off and luckily hits the ropes and doesn’t go into the crowd. Norton hits DDP in the ribs and the nWo gets control until the Giant makes the save and the nWo bails.
As much as I hated seeing Savage in the nWo, this feud did help make DDP. I normally wouldn’t like segments like this on a PPV but it was good and the crowd loved it.
Yuji Yasuraoka vs Rey Mysterio Jr.
Dun dun dunnah. Dun dun dunnah. Rey’s WCW music was so cool. Imagine how easy it would be if the WWE let cruiserweights go out there and do what the cruiserweights in WCW did. Nope, have to work the WCW style. And people wonder why nobody watches 205 Live.
Yuji is on offense early. But it is some pretty terrible offense. I think he is trying to get some heat but the crowd does not care. Mark Curtis steps in front of Rey trying to hit a dive to the outside. So instead Rey somersault planchas over Curtis to the outside.
Rey attempts to humble Yuji by applying a camel clutch. Yuji’s offense just looks so weak. It barely looks like he makes an impact when landing moves and it looks like he puts no effort into his submissions. I had no idea who this guy was. I looked him up and he retired in 1999 from wrestling. He was a motorcycle enthusiast so he went back to that. Right move in my opinion. But he does hold a win over Jushin Thunder Liger and was a former tag team Champion with, get this, Tomohiro Ishii. That’s right: Tomohiro Ishii was once a junior heavyweight.
Yuji has made a WCW Rey Mysterio match unwatchable. This is what happens of course when the heel is on offense the majority of the time, and said offense is horrible. Rey misses a splash off the top then Yuji hits a double underhook DDT, apparently his finisher, but only gets two.
Yuji goes to the top but Rey catches him coming off with a dropkick. Rey then hits a springboard hurricarrana for the win. That was not good.
Mortis w/James Vandenberg vs Glacier
Ah yes, who could forget the BLOOD RUNS COLD feud. We get some more good WCW era theme music with this Mortis theme. Mortis and Vandenberg stole Glacier’s helmet, so we know this feud is personal.
Mortis attacks Glacier right as he gets into the ring. Glacier’s fake snow is still falling. I wonder if Sting is sitting in the rafters realizing that would be a part of his entrance 23 years later. Mortis signals for Wrath to come down to the ring, who does his best Undertaker slow walk to the ring.
Wrath takes the cane of Mortis and hits Glacier, causing the DQ. Mortis hits a fameasser on Glacier on the steps. Suddenly the announcers think a fan is in the ring. But they end up realizing it is Ernest Miller, who they remember is a karate champion. Miller cleans house before security takes him away.
Mean Gene plugs the hotline and says a key member of WCW may be ready to hit the road. Nobody is really coming to mind right now so I think Mean Gene is full of it.
WCW United States Championship: Dean Malenko (c) vs Jeff Jarrett w/Debra McMichael
The string of good WCW music continues here. Hell even Jarrett’s WCW theme here isn’t bad. Malenko gets a good pop again. Too bad these guys could never interact with the nWo for some reason.
A loud “Jarrett Sucks” chant breaks out as the match starts. My thoughts on Jarrett are pretty well known here. I don’t mind and even like mid card Jarrett from his first WWF run through this WCW run. Once he goes back to the WWF he gets annoying and when he finishes off his career in WCW as a main eventer it’s awful.
The tactician that Dean Malenko is immediately focuses on a single body part. Malenko focuses on Jarrett’s left knee and works it over. He drapes it over the railing and kicks the knee into it. Jarrett though quickly jumps on Malenko getting back in the ring to get the advantage. Jarrett goes to the abdominal stretch/gain leverage spot that we don’t see enough of nowadays.
Malenko escapes a Figure Four attempt. He goes for a Texas Cloverleaf but Jarrett escapes that. Jarrett sends Malenko to the outside and drops Malenko on the railing. Both men exchange sleepers until Jarrett hits a knee breaker and applies the Figure Four. Malenko is able to get to the ropes.
Steve McMichael comes to the ring and throws Jarrett back into the ring and takes Debra back from ringside. Malenko ends up hitting a powerbomb and applies the Texas Cloverleaf as Jarrett taps. Okay match. Perfectly Acceptable Wrestling.
Death Match: Meng vs Chris Benoit w/Woman
Meng sends Jimmy Hart to the back. Chris Benoit being in a Death match is quite awkward, especially with Woman at ringside. For a Death Match is starts off pretty basic as Benoit tries to chop down the legs of Meng. Meng pushes Benoit to the outside but Benoit drops him on the steps.
Both men exchange chops as Miss Jacqueline comes down the entrance way. Woman is there to meet her and Jacqueline walks away. That was weird. Meng applies a half crab. Benoit is literally inches from the ropes but milks it for a bit and he eventually grabs the bottom rope.
Meng headbutts Benoit then hits a piledriver but Benoit gets up before the ten count. Benoit goes for the crossface but Meng gets to the ropes. Meng tries to throw his best Vader punches but they aren’t great. Benoit keeps getting up and tells Meng to bring it.
Benoit moves out of the way of a Meng charge. Benoit hits two German suplexes but Meng blocks the third. Benoit gets Meng down and applies a Crippler crossface. Meng slides to the outside but Benoit charges out with a suicide dive. Both men go to the top. Benoit slides out and hits a German suplex. Benoit goes to the top but Meng catches him coming down with the Tongan Death Grip. Meng keeps it on until Benoit passes out and the ref calls for the bell.
Konnan and Hugh Morrus w/Jimmy Hart vs The Steiner Brothers
The slow transformation of Scott Steiner is already starting here. The Steiners gear makes it look like it is painted on. It is really weird. Scott hits a belly to belly on Hugh Morrus and tags in his brother as the crowd barks along. Rick then hits an overhead belly to belly and a shoulder tackle off the top as Hugh bails to the outside.
It is always weird to remember that Konnan was at one point a member of the Dungeon of Doom. Good thing he joined them towards the end of their run and not when they were getting beaten by Hogan every week.
Jimmy Hart grabs the leg of Scott and trips him to give his team the upper hand. But the upper hand only lasts for so long as Rick gets the hot tag and cleans house. Scott comes back in and hits a Frankensteiner on Hugh and Rick gets the pin. Konnan isn’t happy after the match and takes out Hugh. He would join the nWo two months later.
Steve McMichael w/Debra vs Reggie White w/Kent Johnson
Oh boy, this should be fun. Mongo can’t knock White down the first couple times he tries to with a shoulder tackle. White then applies a headlock of his own and after Mongo breaks it White knocks Mongo down with a shoulder tackle.
Mongo tricks White into a trench battle. Mongo takes out the leg the first time. The second time White leap frogs him then lands some of the worst punches you’ve ever seen. One of White’s teammates, Gilbert Brown, stops Mongo from leaving and carries him back to the ring.
It is pretty obvious, and it was made clear in the Wrestling Observer at the time, that this match was laid out move for move before hand. They do a set of moves then reset and repeat. White breaks an armbar again with one of the worst looking swings you will ever see. It’s suppose to look like a punch but actually looks like a half hearted clothesline.
Mongo gets to the ropes to break a headlock. Reggie White, not understanding the rules I guess, questions why and Mongo chop blocks him. Mongo works over the leg a bit before White catches him with a crossbody.
Mongo keeps working over the knee of White and boy is this boring. Mongo goes to the top but White powerslams him off. Mongo keeps getting the advantage back but both guys are gassed because someone thought this should go 15 minutes.
Debra gets on the apron and pretends to be hurt. White, playing the role of dumb babyface, goes to check on her. Mongo grabs the briefcase but Gilbert Brown pulls it away. Jeff Jarrett comes out and tosses a new briefcase to Mongo and he hits White with it to get the win. They apparently tried to get these guys to end the match early but no one could do it because they laid out the match move for move beforehand so they couldn’t improvise.
nWo (Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and Syxx) vs Roddy Piper, Ric Flair and Kevin Greene
This match also had some good behind the scenes stuff to it. Piper and Flair apparently didn’t want Syxx in the match and Piper almost balked at doing the match because of it. Of course Syxx is the only guy who could actually bump around and wrestle good enough on team nWo. This is also Flair’s first match back in 8 months.
Flair and Syxx start and Flair immediately shoulder tackles Syxx and he bumps hard. Syxx seems to be bumping extra hard to prove a point to Flair. Hall tags in. Flair does his classic pull away and tags in Greene. Hall tags in Nash. They shove each other once until Nash backs Greene into the corner with knees and lands some more knees and elbows in the corner.
Nash throws Greene into the ropes and Greene hits a shoulder tackle then a clothesline. He bodyslams Nash then turns around and double clotheslines Hall and Syxx as the crowd loves it. Imagine a hometown hero looking good like this in today’s WWE.
After the nWo regroups Hall comes in and wants Piper. Piper comes in and slaps Hall hard then lands some punches in the corner. Piper lands shots on all three nWo guys in the corner. Nash distracts the ref allowing Syxx to come in and kick Piper’s bad hip.
The nWo gets some offense in until Piper kicks Hall away and tags in Flair. Flair goes nuts until Hall thumbs him in the eye. Flair bumps over the top then gets caught by Hall coming off the top with a throwaway slam. The heels work over Flair. He makes a tag to Piper but the ref didn’t see it. So Piper decks him. I think they said this was No DQ anyways.
All hell breaks loose as all six men brawl all over. Greene throws Syxx into the post on the outside. Flair applies the Figure Four on Hall. Piper applies a Sleeper on Nash. Greene hits a shoulder breaker. Nick Patrick, a former nWo referee, comes in and counts the three for Greene.
So the story ends up being, to keep the match together, that the nWo guys agreed to do the job to make it seem like they were the good guys behind the scenes. Of course the match is also better with Syxx in it bumping around so the nWo guys were right.
Kevin Greene is one of the athletes who just got pro wrestling. He took it seriously, he put in work to get better, and he never looked out of place or lost when he was in the ring. I don’t have problems with athletes like that when they enter the world of pro wrestling. It would have been interesting to see him as a possible full time wrestler after his NFL career but he was too old to transition at the time. In the WWE today he would be a quick World Champion.
Overall the show felt kind of like a throwaway. The matches were fine, but nothing big happened from a storyline perspective. But since Hogan wasn’t on the show at least WCW didn’t have to pay him 25% of the buyrate!