Due to being sick this week, I had some extra time on my hands. I did what any normal, sane, pro-wrestling fan would do and pop in old footage. When my supposed one-day cold turned into a 5 day affair, I ended up getting alot of stuff watched!
For whatever reason, I felt the need to check out WCW Saturday Night 1991. WCW in 1991 was at an interesting intersection. WCW was always a little more sports-oriented but the powers that be were obviously taking ideas from the WWF. Around this time, the more gimmicky WWF ideas were coming into play.
The best example of this at this time was Big Josh. Big Josh was Matt Borne regimmicked as Tommy Rich's "Huntin' Buddy", Josh Jones(Bet you didn't know Big Josh had a last name!). Big Josh was your typical wrestling lumberjack. Flannel shirt? Check. Tossel Cap? Check Boots? Check. Obviously, WCW learned nothing from the AWA as they AWA tried this a year earlier with John Nord and Flapjack "298 pancakes" Norton. Josh started out without the crowd behind him and continued on with no one caring until May 1992 when he made his last appearance. Sadly, Matt Borne went on to even cartoonier gimmicks, but his next cartoon gimmick worked out a little better...However, WCW's gimmicks are going to get alot worse...
Watching the WCW shows at this time period and it really doesn't appear that WCW had any idea about what's going on. People are debuting like crazy such as Buddy Landell, One Man Gang, Dan Spivey, Stan Hansen and Vader. I felt like I needed a scorecard just to keep track of who's who. At this time, they also had two jobbers making some of their first appearances which were Bob Holley(they added the E, not me!) and Marc Mero.
The show is just overall pretty hard to follow. People keep debuting only to never be seen again, storylines are developing and not being mentioned and the long term goals appear to be missing. My friend and I were talking about this last night and it seemed to be a part of WCW's problem of having 5 shows with first run matches every week. You got Power Hour, World Wide, Saturday Night, Main Event and Pro along with the odd PPV and the odd Clash. Add this in with the fact that all the matches were taped in various orderings and you end up with the Freebirds losing the WCW Tag Titles before they even won them!
The biggest confusion for me was Arn Anderson not wrestling at the War Games. Double A beat up Brian Pillman along with the rest of the Horsemen the night before Wrestle War 1991 and then suddenly gets substituted by Larry Zbyszko. I didn't even know Larry was in the company yet alone in War Games!
Here are some other pieces of info for this time period:
Sid - Sid was by far getting the biggest push. He was doing the gimmick where different people were getting stretchered out by him every week. The crowd ate it up and Sid looked like a Monster.
El Gigante - El Gigante was also getting a pretty big push at this time period. WCW were getting ready to match him up with Ric Flair, but apparently thought better of it before any matches made air. To be honest, I was looking forward to seeing what Flair could do with the man Michael Hayes referred to as "El Stinko". El Gigante has done about 4 interviews in all of the shows I've watched so far and WCW has him repeating - "I want the belt" - each time.
Before I go into this, I'd like to mention that since most of these matches are squashes it is a little hard to gather who is good and who's not. Brad Armstrong would probably be my pick from tv work as he was in a good tag match with Tim Horner against Windham/Anderson that Jim Ross called, "The best tag team match I've seen in my life". It was a good match, but not half of the match the Steiners would have with Hase and Sasaki the month after.
WCW may have had more announcers at this time than any other promotion in history. They had: Jim Ross, Tony Schiavone, Bob Caudle, Lance Russell, Paul E., Missy and Dusty. Lots of talent there and then there's Missy who was booked to be the most stereotypical woman ever.
WCW had two of their biggest managers being MIA during this time period. The Freebirds and their two managers(Big Daddy Dink and DDP) were not seen often. I watched about 6 weeks worth so far and I did not see DDP until the PPV. Sucks to be DDP. One other missing manager was Teddy Long. He was in for maybe one show which should have changed since...
Doom randomly broke up at the WrestleWar 1991 pay-per-view. WCW lead into it a little by pushing that Teddy Long was buying houses for Ron Simmons and Butch Reed. Butch was talking about partying and Ron was setting him straight by telling him that they need to focus on keeping the tag titles. Maybe Butch should have listened as they lost to the Freebirds(who had already lost it to the Steiners at this point). Doom breaking up seemed like a dumb idea to me at this time, but what do I know. WCW saw something in Ron and Butch was supposedly thinking about joining the rodeo(I'm not making this up). WCW ends up turning Ron face for a failed main event run. Had WCW kept Ron as a tough guy without the smiling and thumbs up and he might have worked out a little better.
Remember, that powerbomb on Brian from the world's safest worker Sid Vicious? Well, Brian comes on the show the week after and appears to be perfectly fine. WCW missed the boat on this one as they really could have pushed that Sid almost killed Brian. The powerbomb looked realistic enough to do so.
The Case of the Ric Flair clones:
Quick, how many Nature Boy's does one promotion need? My answer is 1 as long as he is the original. WCW decided to have two other wrestlers doing Ric Flair's gimmick along with Ric in 1991. Did Jim Herd see the writing on the wall? Or did WCW think Paul Lee was the next big thing? If you are wondering who Paul Lee is, then join the crowd. I don't know where they found him but he looked really similar to Charles Robertson's attempt at being Ric Flair. He had the gear and the entrance jacket down, along with similarly dyed hair. I guess WCW figured this out as in subsequent weeks he had his name changed to Ricky Nelson(Sure, rip off Ozzie & Harriet now).
Remember though that I said there were 2 Flair clones? Well #2 is none other than Buddy Landell. WCW explained that he was coming back and trying to get on the right path again, which is never really a good way a good way of promoting your talent. They recently also tried this with Tommy Rich, and that led to him being regimmicked. I like Buddy Landell, maybe more than others, but if you put him and Flair together, you know who I am taking.
That about wraps it up for now. I will try to get to some more WCW if I have time including some specific show reports.