Coming into World Championship Wrestling’s annual February event, the company was at a crossroads featuring two of the biggest names in wrestling history. Hulk Hogan’s time as wrestling’s top bad guy was dying a slow, painful death. Ric Flair had become the President of WCW and was looked upon as the savior that company had been searching for in its battle against the nWo.
But Ric Flair wasn’t the only man looking to take down the poisonous group. Diamond Dallas Page, Rey Mysterio, Booker T. and even Roddy Piper all had matches against nWo members. While everything sounds good, lets find out if it actually is a classic.
February 21, 1999
1. Booker T. defeated Disco Inferno
2. Chris Jericho won a match against Perry Saturn via count out
3. Billy Kidman successfully defended the Cruiserweight title against Chavo Guerrero
4. Barry Windham & Curt Hennig won the vacant WCW World Tag Team title by defeating Chris Benoit & Dean Malenko
5. The Outsiders (Kevin Nash & Scott Hall) won a Hair vs. Mask match against Rey Mysterio & Konnan
6. Scott Steiner successfully defended the WCW TV against Diamond Dallas Page
7. Scott Hall became the new WCW United States champion by pinning Roddy Piper
8. Goldberg pinned Bam Bam Bigelow
9. Hollywood Hulk Hogan retained his WCW World title against Ric Flair
Harlem Nights: After being accepted by the nWo, Disco Inferno had the task of proving himself, starting with Booker T. A few days earlier, Booker almost choked Disco to death for getting in the mind of Booker’s brother Stevie Ray and convincing him to join the nWo.
The early going saw Disco’s offense and taunting be neutralized by Booker’s power and speed, as well as the hot crowd in support of the man from Houston/Harlem. It wasn’t until the action spilled to the floor did Disco have a chance to take control. The action swung back and forth, with both men hitting bigger and bigger moves without going for pins. The end came almost at the ten minute mark when Disco took too much time showboating instead of hitting a super Chartbuster, taking the Harlem Hangover instead; and got pinned because of Booker’s attack.
This was a solid opener that the crowd was hot for from bell to bell. Not only did Booker T. pick up a victory, but Disco also looked stronger here than … well, almost his entire career. With the right opponent, Disco was a highly underrated talent, as seen here.
Perry Likes It. He Really, Really Likes It: One month earlier, Perry Saturn lost a match to Chris Jericho where the loser would have to wear a dress. Rather than be upset over the whole gender-bending situation, Perry accepted his loss and became one with his new style of ring attire. But that didn’t mean Saturn didn’t want out of that dress. If he won here, Saturn would be dress-free from now on.
With his personal security guard, Ralphus, wearing his own dress, Jericho mocked Saturn’s ridiculous attire as well as his cross-eyes. Saturn didn’t take offence to Jericho’s words, but did enjoy the chance of beating “The Ayatollah of Rock & Rolla” from pillar to post after the opening bell. Even when Jericho got some offense in, Saturn didn’t feel any pain. Saturn’s attention turned to the pink dress-wearing Ralphus, to which Saturn ripped off the dress to expose Ralphus’ … ahem, physic. This moment of Ralphus stripping cost Saturn as Jericho springboard dropkicked the back of Perry’s head to turn the tides.
Jericho spent the next few minutes peppering Saturn with attacks and insults until the fans rallied behind Perry and got him to fight back like never before. By the homestretch, they were going back and forth. One second, Saturn was in control thanks to a falcon arrow. The next, Jericho swept Saturn’s legs from underneath him to lock in the Lion Tamer. Ducking a spin kick, Saturn was able to hit the Death Valley Driver, but refused to go for the cover. Instead, Saturn attacked the ref and walked off to get himself disqualified.
The ending, while not great at all, wasn’t bad in the grand scheme of things. Saturn got his revenge, but being mentally unstable caused him to sacrifice a win to continue wearing the dress because if he won he would’ve felt he had no other option but to remove his dress. Another solid encounter to continue the good start to this show.
Thankfully Pepe Wasn’t Here to See This: Cruiserweight champion Billy Kidman and Chavo Guerrero had the opportunity to win the WCW World Tag Team title during the Tag title tournament, but lost in the first round. Now, they fight each other!
Kidman controlled the pace for several moments until Chavo hit a brain buster out of nowhere. Like the match before them, after one man gained a slight advantage for several minutes – in this case Chavo – the other made a comeback and began a back and forth battle that started getting the crowd excited. Shockingly, some of Kidman’s biggest maneuvers like the Liger Bomb just couldn’t put the feisty challenger away. Though hurt, Chavo tried to counter Kidman’s power bomb with one of his own, only to find out you can’t power bomb Billy Kidman (no, this isn’t a joke. Kidman was seemingly impervious to being power bombed). With Chavo down, Kidman executed the Shooting Star Press without impaling himself on the turnbuckle to retain his title.
While the match wasn’t up to par in comparison to the first two matches, Kidman and Chavo went out there and tried their hardest to keep the show’s positive momentum flowing with a spot-monkey style encounter.
Battle of the Beasts: Bam Bam Bigelow decided to attack Bill Goldberg on a weekly basis to prove he’s the biggest and baddest big man in the business. The crowd was on fire as the two big men locked up and Goldberg powered the near 400 lbs. Bigelow around the ring. Smartly, Bigelow clipped Goldberg’s legs from underneath him to wear him out with headlocks. While this wasn’t the most enthusiastic portion of the match, the fans didn’t die as they supported Goldberg in his attempt to comeback. When Goldberg powered his way off the mat, the former WCW World champion not only belly to back suplexed Bigelow, but also ran through Bam Bam with the Spear. But Goldberg wasn’t done. Waiting for Bigelow to get up, Goldberg unleashed another Spear to a huge ovation. With the fans on their feet, Goldberg motioned and executed his famous Jackhammer to prove his dominance once again by picking up the pin fall victory.
This match doesn’t get a lot of love, but it’s a competent, high impact battle between two behemoths that saw Bam Bam try to slow down the freight train that was Goldberg; only to be run right over. And the hot crowd definitely helped make this match feel that much better.
Way to Ruin Twenty Minutes: With the Tag Team title being up for grabs in a double elimination tournament, Chris Benoit & Dean Malenko representing the Four Horsemen had to best the team of former Horsemen and future West Texas Rednecks Barry Windham and Curt Hennig twice in one evening. Hennig and Windham found themselves in a great spot of only having to win once to become champions.
The match itself was completely different than most formulaic tag team bouts as the action never truly stayed in the favor of one team for any extended periods of time. Malenko and Benoit kept the pace fast in the early going, frustrating their opposition before Windham saved Hennig from being locked in Malenko’s Texas cloverleaf.
From that moment on, it was a battle to keep one opponent on their side of the ring. Malenko was the whipping boy for several minutes until he broke free of Hennig’s grip and tagged in Benoit for the diving headbutt.
With all four men trading big maneuvers, the referee had a hard time keeping control until Malenko locked Windham in the Texas Cloverleaf. Unlike earlier, Hennig couldn’t pay his partner back for the submission save when he was yanked into Benoit’s Cripple Crossface. A few seconds later and Benoit made “Mr. Perfect” tap out to a great ovation after the fans seemingly didn’t care for the match thus far.
During the rest period between the falls, Windham removed his belt from his pants to clock Malenko in the face as Dean went for the Texas Cloverleaf on him. With Dean dazed, Windham choked out Malenko with the belt behind the ref’s back for a pin fall title victory. The fans don’t boo over this travesty of justice. They just sat there and waited for the next match.
Many called this an instant classic not long after it happened. In retrospect, it’s a tag team match that’s ahead of its time not featuring the usual tag team match formula in front of a pretty apathetic crowd and featured an ending that ruined any hope the fans had of Benoit and Malenko winning after finally becoming enthusiastic following the successful Crippler Crossface. Yes, the ending set up a match for the next show where Benoit and Malenko win, but the way they got to that point with what happened here just makes me roll my eyes and wish I had my twenty minutes back.
You’ll Appeal More This Way: With Ms. Elizabeth’s hair and Rey Mysterio’s mask on the line, Rey Mysterio teamed up with former nWo member and old friend Konnan to take on The Outsiders (Kevin Nash & Scott Hall) after Lex Luger got injured. Rey and Hall did a great job setting a fast pace featuring Hall bumping around like mad, but things went downhill fast when Mysterio got hit with Hall’s fall away slam. After being beaten for several minutes, Rey finally tagged out so Konnan could go wild for a short period of time before he was clotheslined down. Rey had to play Superman and do his best to turn this thing around by flying, kicking and even being propelled into Hall and Nash thanks to Konnan.
The fans were going wild as it seemed Rey was on the verge of winning when Luger yanked Konnan to the floor. With Rey alone and distracted, Hall was able to finish Mysterio off with the Outsider’s Edge. After the match, Rey willfully unmasked as the announcers questioned if he’d ever be the same. Of course, the fans weren’t surprised or booing because they didn’t want to see Rey unmask. They sat on their hands, apathetic after being hot for the final minutes of the bout.
The real reason this match even happened is because Eric Bischoff felt Rey wasn’t marketable as a masked wrestler. Yes, the same Rey Mysterio that went on to become one of WWE’s top grossing players over the last decade. The same Mysterio that is pretty much synonymous with American Lucha. It was stupid then and it’s even worse now to think that someone felt Rey without the mask would do better than Rey Mysterio – high-flyer of mystery.
I Want Your Woman, And There’s Nothing You Can Do: So, Scott Steiner is not only a genetic freak who can get single women, but he also wants your wife. Or at least, the WCW TV champion wanted Diamond Dallas Page’s wife, Kimberly. Steiner went so far as to kidnap her, only to throw Kim out of a moving vehicle when DDP tried to save his damsel in distress.
DDP came in with a fire in his eyes and an attitude that showed he wasn’t here to play. This worked perfectly as the fans dug the abuse DDP dished out to defend the honor of his woman. Even when Buff Bagwell tried to interfere, DDP couldn’t be stopped. But the numbers game eventually overwhelmed Page, and he was left fighting off the big man that was the champ while being peppered with chair shots to the back and insults from Bagwell.
Interestingly, it was Steiner’s anger with the referee that cost him as he ran into a DDP. The momentum started swinging and DDP have the chance to winning better than ever. Then it happened! Bagwell undid the top turnbuckle so Steiner could us it as a weapon to hurt DDP’s back. One Steiner Recliner later and the fans were thoroughly disappointed again by the fact their guy lost in his effort to defend his wife’s honor.
Once again, the hot crowd’s hopes were dashed in a few minutes thanks to a match that started off so well, but deteriorated fast when Bagwell’s interference and Steiner’s plodding offense became the focus rather than DDP’s heart and search for revenge.
A War to Bore the Score: Okay, for those who have forgotten already, this was 1999. Roddy Piper’s hips and knees were shot, and Scott Hall was battling his demons on a constant basis. Yet, there is a match for the U.S. title between these two put on pay-per-view. And man does this one suck. Here’s a quick summary: punch, kick, eye poke, punch, kick, eye poke, Disco Inferno interference backfires, Piper low blow on Hall, Piper low blow on an interfering Kevin Nash, Hall with the rope-assisted roll up, new champion. There, saved you eight minutes of pure agony.
A Flair For the Old: Once again, this was 1999. WCW World champion Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair were (and still are) struggling with the ravages of age in the ring. So it’s fine they main evented one of the biggest shows of the year for WCW. In reality, this match is a guilty pleasure of mine for a sequence that saw Hogan whip Flair with his weightlifter’s belt, only for Flair to snap and start loudly cursing like a sailor at the champ. Seconds later, Flair did a shoot single leg takedown, only to be whipped on his bloody head with the belt until he got back in line and started working.
But one piece of golden wrestling hilarity can’t save this match from sucking between that single moment. Both men were flopping like fish out of water with no chemistry other than punches, kicks, eye rakes, and elbow drops. There are low blows and chair shots right in front of the referee without repercussion. And probably the worst offence was Hogan working like a fan favorite even though Flair was the one trying to save WCW from Hogan’s tyranny. And you wouldn’t think it would get worse, but it does. The end sees an unnamed Torrie Wilson attack Flair to bring out a masked man who used a stun gun on the challenger. Hogan picks up the win three seconds later, and it’s revealed that David Flair – Ric Flair’s actual son – was the man who cost his father title.
Why? Because it’s a swerve! No real reason other than to swerve everyone and lead to nothing because David Flair couldn’t even wrestle at this point. And that’s not even mentioning the fact the nWo beat David down just weeks ago. There’s nothing else I can really write to justify any of this outside of Hogan and Flair fighting over a belt like two, drugged up people in a nursing home is as funny and sad as it sounds.
Is It A Classic: For some reason, this show actually got positive marks and ratings after it initially aired. Watching it on VHS months later made me question who would give this show a good review. That feeling still resonates today as this is a semi-abysmal show that actually started off decently and made a quick descent into the horrible territory. There are no matches worth going out of your way to see, let alone be heralded as anything more than “solid”. WCW was a sinking ship at this point, and action/booking like what was seen here is a good reason why fans were starting to give up on the company they held so dear.