Friday, March 25, 2016

Random Network Reviews: Spring Stampede 2000

Spring Stampede 2000
April 16th, 2000 | United Center in Chicago, Illinois | Attendance: 12,556

The venue that hosts this show, the United Center, is rather large. I always wondered why WWE doesn’t run there, but I’m sure they could have sold it out in 2000. WCW…not so much. Things were going so badly, that Vince Russo, head of creative, decided to hit the reset button. That’s right, every single champion was stripped of their titles and this show featured tournaments to determine new champions. It is a bold move for sure and showed just how desperate the company was getting. Obviously it didn’t really pay off, but let’s see if the show it at least entertaining.

The opening video package shows when Vince Russo announced the reboot. He went off on Ric Flair, calling him a piece of shit. I think the New Blood plan was good on paper, but having them as the heels came off in a bad way. Eric Bischoff turning on Hulk Hogan is also shown, as Bischoff drove a white hummer into a limo that Hogan was in. 

Then, Bischoff is pacing backstage because he’s worried since Hogan checked himself out of the hospital. For some reason, that sends us to a second video package, showing basically the same stuff we saw in the first. I don’t get it. Commentary includes Tony Schiavone, Scott Hudson and Mark Madden. They run down the card, which I always hated because it kind of gives the show a slow start instead of going right into a match.

World Tag Team Championship Semi-Final
The Mamalukes w/ Disco Inferno vs. Team Package w/ Elizabeth vs. The Harris Brothers

Team Package is a strange damn name. They consist of Lex Luger and Ric Flair, the latter in street clothes. By street clothes, I mean a dress shirt and slacks. This is supposed to be a straight up tag match but Vince Russo shows up to add the Harris Brothers. He calls the Mamalukes rookies, which is odd since Vito had been working for nearly a decade by this point. Team Package takes a beating, and it’s odd to see the other two teams working together, since I reviewed a show from January where they were feuding. Team Package rallies a bit, but the numbers game hurts them. The two heel teams target Flair and give him a kicking. Flair climbs up top, as Skull hilariously looks at him like “really dude? That never works.” It doesn’t here either. They do the false hot tag spot, but Luger is probably happy he doesn’t have to work just yet. Disco gets in a cheap shot before two random large men take him away. The heel teams turn on each other, allowing the hot tag to Luger. 8-Ball climbs up and takes FOREVER. It’s so long that Luger even shrugs as he stands there, waiting to complete the spot. Luger wins this for his team with a Torture Rack.

Winners: Team Package in 6:16
This was a giant clusterfuck. I get the idea of Team Package being in trouble, but it was kind of a mess, so it actually fits in to WCW in this era. ½*

Mike Awesome gets interviews backstage and is beyond jacked up. It’s kind of irritating. Bam Bam Bigelow interrupts, leading to Awesome attacking him.

Jimmy Hart w/ Hail vs. Mancow w/ His Entourage
Who the hell thought this belonged in wrestling, let alone on a damn Pay-Per-View? The gist of this feud seems to be that Jimmy Hart says Mancow is a knockoff Howard Stern. Both guys talk before the match, but Mancow looks so uncomfortable doing so. He just repeats himself and says Chicago a few times. He attacks from behind, leading to a catfight of sorts. Hart hits a low blow as Mark Madden calls this “utter nonsense”. If Madden is embarrassed by a match, you know it’s dire. Hart actually comes off the top, but Mancow pulls the referee in the way. Hail enters the ring and he’s a big dude. He press slams him into the Entourage. Their names are Terd, Al Roker Jr. and the Brian the Wimpy Boy. Hart sends Hail away like an idiot, allowing Mancow to hit him with a chair and win.

Winner: Mancow in 2:46
The only good thing I can say about this, is that it was short. The fact that it was kept at under three minutes keeps it from being a dud, but just barely. ¼*

Billy Kidman comes out after the match to his awesome theme music. He attacks Jimmy Hart because of his feud with Hulk Hogan. So let me get this straight. Face Hulk Hogan is feuding with heel Billy Kidman, so he attacks heel Jimmy Hart, who is face Hogan’s manager. My head hurts.

WCW United States Championship Tournament Quarter Final
Scott Steiner vs. The Wall

For some reason, Scott Steiner comes out to the awful STEINERLINE theme song. That’s a worse decision than putting Mancow vs. Jimmy Hart on Pay-Per-View. Both guys are members of the New Blood, because seven of the eight guys in this Tournament are from that group. Steiner manhandles him, but Wall gets in some shots. Steiner hits a low blow that doesn’t cause a DQ. At least commentary addressed that earlier, saying that referees were told to be lenient with the rules. It’s not like usual WCW from this era where things happened with no explanation. The battle goes outside, where Wall gets a table. Steiner rakes Wall in the eyes, and puts the referee in front of him. Wall, temporarily blinded, chokeslams the ref through the table. A second ref appears to call for the DQ.

Winner via disqualification: Scott Steiner in 3:37
I get that the disqualification protected your big monster like character, but at this point, I believe Wall had suffered a fair amount of losses. Scott Steiner, who was set to be a World Champion later in the year, should have gone over him cleanly. The match itself was short and didn’t completely suck. *

Mean Gene interviews The Cat, who calls WCW the biggest redneck company in the world. Bigelow appears again to beat him down and take him out.

WCW United States Championship Tournament Quarter Final
Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Mike Awesome

Mike Awesome debuted the previous Monday by taking out Kevin Nash, while he was still the ECW World Champion. This is his first official match for WCW. Bigelow runs in to replace Cat, which is somehow official. I guess they figured the impromptu nature would make Awesome feel more comfortable in his transition from ECW. The action starts outside where Awesome nails a pescado. He then gets whipped into the guardrail, and you can hear him tell the fans to move before he backdrops Bigelow into the audience. He then leaps over the guardrail to take him out. They’re doing a fine job showcasing how impressive Awesome really is. Bigelow gets in offense as the Cat appears and kicks him. He grabs a microphone to dance for the fans. This went from a decent match to completely absurd. Awesome stops the dancing with a clothesline. He hits the Awesome Splash to advance.

Winner: Mike Awesome in 3:20
What? So did the Bigelow near falls not really count? Was the Cat legal the whole time? Does anyone in WCW know any of this? Too much extra nonsense. Mike Awesome should have run through Bigelow to showcase how good he was. There was a lot of potential in that guy. 

After more worrying from Eric Bischoff in the back, Mean Gene interviews Buff Bagwell and Shane Douglas. They put over the New Blood, though I seriously question how Shane Douglas is considered new blood.

World Tag Team Championship Tournament Semi-Final
Buff Bagwell and Shane Douglas vs. Harlem Heat 2K w/ J. Biggs

J. Biggs is apparently Clarence Mason. I had no idea he went to WCW, though I loved him in WWE. Like pretty much every other match on this card, it starts with a brawl. Harlem Heat has the early advantage. Fat Ahmed Johnson hits a spinebuster on Buff and he yells in an extremely high pitched voice. He really needs a shirt. Buff gets two on a Vader Bomb. People need to not use the Mastodon’s move dammit. They do this double hot tag, but it’s been like two minutes only so there’s no build for it. Douglas gets the win for his team.

Winners: Buff Bagwell and Shane Douglas in 2:47
These matches are seemingly getting shorter and shorter. Like I’ve been saying, these matches have been too short to get the dud rating, but they still aren’t any good. ½*

Mean Gene, earning checks, conducts another interview. He talks to Booker T, who says that he’s with the New Blood on the hope for opportunity, but he’s not really down with them. In other words, he’s like the only “young” face in the company.

WCW United States Championship Quarter Final
Booker T vs. Sting

With no shenanigans, this has potential to be match of the night. I don’t think either guy should be out in the first round, but it makes sense from the New Blood standpoint of wanting their guys in the finals. Booker shows his power early with a shoulder block but Sting hip tosses him. Sting hits a flurry that sends Booker outside. A cameraman gets taken out from an Irish whip outside. When they go back inside, Booker is in control with a knee drop. He moves to a chinlock to slow things down. Sting gets the fans behind him to rally but Booker stops that with a knee. He hits the Axe Kick but only gets two. The flapjack is followed by the SPINAROONIE. He tries another kick but Sting ducks and goes into a rally. He nails the Stinger Splash but goes to the well too much as the second attempt fails. Sting is able to counter a suplex into the Scorpion Death Drop to advance.

Winner: Sting in 6:35
Easily the match of the night, but I was still slightly disappointed. Both guys could go, but it was kept rather short. I wish they got a bit more time so this could go into the next gear. **¾

Post-match, Sting goes to leave but Booker T pulls him back in the ring to give him a fist bump. Mean Gene interviews Billy Kidman and Eric Bischoff. Bischoff is still worried about Hogan.

WCW United States Championship Quarter Final
Billy Kidman w/ Torrie Wilson vs. Vampiro

Looking at the bracket for the Tournament, the finals should be Sting vs. Billy Kidman with Kidman going over. Instead, it looks like the winner of this faces Sting in the next round. Early on, Vampire tries to powerbomb Kidman so he obviously doesn’t have this man scouted. Kidman counters with a hurricanrana. Kidman goes for ten punches in the corner but Vampiro counters into a powerbomb toss. Well, he shut me up. He tries again, but Kidman counters into the facebuster. Kidman goes into an offensive flurry. The problem is that the fans don’t know what to do because these guys are heels. Vampiro busts out a one handed chokeslam like he’s the Big Show or something for two. In the middle of the match, we see a car pull into the arena and out comes HULK HOGAN! He runs into the match, no selling for Kidman. He throws him outside of the ring and continues to pound on him. Hogan pretty much tries to murder Kidman with steel steps before using them as a platform to chokeslam him onto the announce table. I get that there are relaxed rules, but how is this not a DQ? Madden again states the obvious by asking, “what has this promotion become?” He rolls him inside for Vampiro to pin Kidman.

Winner: Vampiro in 8:24
This was going well until the Hulk Hogan appearance. I think this should have happened in the finals. There was no reason for Vampiro to go over Kidman. Plus the lack of a DQ call was a bit much. **¼

Eric Bischoff is scared as Hulk Hogan searches for him. Vince Russo leaves Bischoff alone to do something about this. Hogan easily finds Eric, but before he can do anything, security or cops come in to stop this. They pull their guns on Hogan to stop him.

WCW Hardcore Championship
Norman Smiley (c) vs. Terry Funk

Terry Taylor tells Terry Funk backstage that Norman Smiley is afraid to face him. Funk goes to catering to find Norman, where everyone stooges him out as being in the bathroom. When Funk finds him, he screams. “Screaming” Norman Smiley is one of the best things WCW ever did. Funk throws him around the catering area, but Smiley uses a trash ca to come back. They use some fun weapons like a Diet Coke and laptop as they fight backstage. Schiavone calls it a “slaptop” because he’s so funny. Smiley hilariously hangs like a bat from the pipes by the ceiling. The fight makes it to the arena. In the ring, Smiley does the Big Wiggle, but Funk whacks him with a chair. Dustin Rhodes appears to take out Funk with a piledriver. He goes to fly from the top but Funk gets the feet up to block it. Funk throws the ladder on top of Smiley and pins him.

Winner and New WCW Hardcore Champion: Terry Funk in 8:40
The hardcore division in WCW never really took off, but anything with “Screaming” Norman Smiley is entertaining. It was just two guys wailing on each other with ridiculous weapons and at the very least, this was fun. **

WCW United States Championship Semi-Final
Mike Awesome vs. Scott Steiner

There goes that damn STEINERLINE theme again. This should be a good battle of two powerhouses. Steiner dominates the early goings and does some push-ups. Awesome comes back in the ring with the slingshot shoulder block that pops the crowd. He was really athletic. A top rope flying clothesline gets two but Steiner turns the tide with a low blow. Steiner lays in some chops, but Awesome fires up and hits a springboard back elbow. The fans go nuts as Kevin Nash limps out and strikes Awesome in the back with a crutch. Steiner Recliner is applied and Awesome submits.

Winner: Scott Steiner in 3:13
That was way too short to be good. The stuff we got was actually pretty good and I think that with more time, it could have been something interesting. Instead, we get a short match with another pretty cheap finish. **

Backstage, Vince Russo is pissed as Dustin Rhodes for allowing Terry Funk to win the Hardcore Title. Russo fires him and says he was only worth anything as Goldust because it was Russo who created that character. SEE HOW BADASS WE ARE? WE TALK ABOUT THE OTHER COMPANIES! WE SHOOT!

WCW United States Championship Semi-Final
Sting vs. Vampiro

When it comes to WCW 2000, these two are kind of synonymous with each other. Sting charges the ring only to eat an ugly spinning heel kick. Sting no sells some shots and fires up. They brawl outside for a bit before Sting climbs to the top. He hits a pretty impressive splash for two. Sting misses a Stinger Splash into the guardrail. Mark Madden sees a basic kick to the back from Vampiro and calls it like Sweet Chin Music. Vampiro is now in the driver’s seat but Sting is resilient. I think they were going for a spot where Vampiro leaps from the top and Sting catches him in the Scorpion Death Lock but they mess it up and Sting just kind of swats him down. He then hits the Death Drop and makes Vampiro quit in the Death Lock.

Winner: Sting in 5:54
Two guys that would fight a ton in 2000 didn’t seem to have much chemistry. Both guys seemed to kind of mail it in. IT wasn’t really bad, but it wasn’t very good either. 

DDP cuts a promo on Jeff Jarrett backstage because Mean Gene needed to keep earning that paycheck. Could you imagine if he got paid by the interview?

Shane Helms and Shannon Moore appear to perform 3 Count’s theme. There is a girl in the crowd who reacts like they are a real boy band. They perform the ENTIRE song and go to do it again before their opponents come out.

WCW World Cruiserweight Championship
Suicide Six Man Match
Chris Candido vs. Crowbar w/ Daffney vs. Lash LeRoux vs. Juventud Guerra vs. The Artist Formerly Known as Prince Iaukea w/ Paisley vs. Shannon Moore w/ Shane Helms

Right off the bat, this seems like a big clusterfuck. They never specify, but I think the title is vacant. Crowbar gets two on a surprisingly nice Northern lights suplex. LeRoux gets to do offense, before Juvi hits the Juvi Driver. Basically, each guy is getting a chance to show off while someone else breaks up the pins. Daffney climbs up top for the Frankenscreamer, but catches Crowbar by mistake. LeRoux takes them out with an ugly dive outside. The Artist does the same, before Juvi does the same. In the coolest spot so far, Shane Helms launches Moore onto everyone. A wild David Flair appears to take out Helms. The Artist goes up top with Candido, who knocks him off and misses a headbutt. Paisley throws in a steel chair, but Tammy Sytch appears to knock the Artist off onto the chair, allowing Candido to win.

Winner and New WCW Cruiserweight Champion: Chris Candido in 5:10
That match gave me a headache. It was just nonstop nonsense. There was no structure or plan as it was just guys getting in offense. Even the dives outside weren’t really that good. Disappointing. *

Mean Gene interviews Jeff Jarrett, complete with Slapnuts guitar. Jarrett threatens to slap Gene’s liver spots off his face, making him my favorite in the main event.

World Tag Team Championship Finals
Buff Bagwell and Shane Douglas vs. Team Package w/ Elizabeth

Throughout his entire career, Lex Luger was always miscast as a face, but this gimmick and theme make it EXTRA hard to cheer for him. Buff Bagwell gets worked over early by Luger’s basic offense. Shane Douglas made a career out of throwing verbal jabs at Ric Flair. Even to this day, they dislike each other. Flair gets in some short punches outside, but ends up as the face in peril. When Madden runs down Flair, Tony Schiavone straight up responds “BULLSHIT”. They’re cursing like this is an ECW show. They do the hot tag and Team Package looks like they may be rallying. Russo gets up from commentary to interfere, but Buff turns the tide. He mistakenly hits the Blockbuster on Douglas, leading Russo to pull Nick Patrick out of the ring. They get into a shoving match that just looks so awkward. Kronik runs in through the crowd, making their return, to take out Luger. Russo lays out Patrick, steals the ref shirt and counts the three.

Winners and New WCW World Tag Team Champions: Buff Bagwell and Shane Douglas in 8:36
A lackluster effort all around. This is like, the definition of four guys seemingly mailing it in. Of course, it had to end with interference involved too. ¾*

WCW United States Championship Finals
Scott Steiner vs. Sting

Seriously, who thought he should use the STEINERLINE theme? Both guys receive pre-match backstage interviews by Mean Gene, but neither is really anything of note. Sting surprises me out of the gate with a dive outside but his top rope splash looks bad before Steiner gets the knees up. Steiner jaws with a lady at ringside after a gorilla press slam. Is she a freak? Steiner busts out a T-Bone like suplex but wastes time with another fan. Sting blocks a top rope belly-to-belly suplex, going into the comeback. He nails a Stinger Splash but his second sees the referee pulled in the way. He hits a third but when trying the fourth, Vampire comes up through the ring and pulls him down. Did Russo watch Undertaker do this to Diesel before booking this match? Vampiro brings Sting back up and he has blood on his mouth. Steiner applies the Steiner Recliner and the referee calls for the bell since Sting is passed out.

Winner and New WCW United States Champion: Scott Steiner in 5:38
Here’s another match tonight that had a lot of potential but wasn’t any good. Scott Steiner seemed to just want to kill time with the fans until the interference finish. Another match, another disappointment, another shoddy ending. 

WCW World Heavyweight Championship
Diamond Dallas Page w/ Kimberly vs. Jeff Jarrett

The “Chosen One” gimmick was actually really good. Both guys get overly long entrances from their locker rooms. Trying to sell how personal this match is, DDP is aggressive from the start. The action spills into the crowd, which is good. This isn’t just about the title, DDP wants revenge for what happened to Kimberly. When they finally make it back to the ring, Jarrett hits a second rope suplex. He gets a steel chair, laying into DDP’s midsection. DDP did have the worst case of injured ribs I’d ever seen. DDP brings out a sitout powerbomb for two as Eric Bischoff walks out. In a super heel move, Jarrett steals DDP’s book from a fan and rips it up. That’s cold. Kimberly gets involved, pulls Jeff by the hair but he shrugs it off. It does allow DDP the breathing room to turn things around. It doesn’t last long though as Jarrett puts him in the Figure Four. Kimberly grabs the guitar, but doesn’t do anything with it. DDP refuses to quit, so Jarrett lets go only to get rolled up a few times. Jarrett leaps from the second rope into a jawbreaker for two. Things slow for a moment when Jarrett applies a sleeper but DDP fights out and goes to a sleeper slam. Bischoff grabs the official as DDP hits the Diamond Cutter. Like a complete moron, he doesn’t pin and instead wants Kimberly to hit her with the guitar. Kimberly waffles DDP with the guitar and the Stroke finishes this.

Winner and New WCW World Heavyweight Champion: Jeff Jarrett in 14:58
Both of these guys are capable workers and this was a perfectly acceptable match. It wasn’t great and of course, it was another “swerve”. Tony Schiavone is terrible at giving those away by saying the exact opposite. “BISCHOFF MUST BE HELPING DDP!” Well he wasn’t. Anyway, not a bad match. **½ 

Overall: 3.5/10; Not Good. Surprisingly, this is the highest score I’ve given WCW in 2000. Nothing on this show is must see at all, but I managed to see a near three star effort. With the exception of the Mancow/Hart match, everything is at the very least watchable. The fact that there are fourteen matches means that things move by rather quickly, which helps. There was potential here, but everything is so overdone by shenanigans that is ends up ruining it. My randomizer has chosen my next “Random Network Review” as Saturday Night’s Main Event from 11/2/85!