And one of the biggest misuses of talent in WWE history.

OVW Christmas Chaos 2001
Date: January 31, 2001
Location: Louisville Gardens, Louisville, Kentucky
Commentator: Jim Cornette

Ah OVW, how much I love thee. This is from sometime around Christmas of 2001 which I’ll try to find an exact date for (future edit: got it). OVW was the official developmental organization for WWE for a very long time, just like FCW is now. They didn’t have PPVs but they had big shows where WWF guys would come down and this is one of them. The production value is very low here and the fact that it’s from a VHS isn’t helping.

The main event is Leviathan vs. Kane. Leviathan is part of a devil worshipping stable kind of and is nicknamed the Demon and the Guardian of the Gates of Hell. He would come up to the main roster in about five months under the name of Batista. See what kind of stuff we’re getting here? Let’s get to it.

Well the first good thing is that this is in the Louisville Gardens which is a hockey arena and has some actual size to it as opposed to the Davis Arena, their usual home arena, which might hold three hundred people. The name Christmas makes sense as they were supposed to hold this in the middle of December but there was a bad snowstorm.

A woman named Angela Batista sings the national anthem, who is the real life wife of the Animal. It’s weird seeing a lot of these people as I’ve watched OVW for years and a lot of these guys are mainstays of the company. Kind of cool to see them on a release like this.

Johnny Spade/Sly Scraper vs. Brock Lesnar/Shelton Benjamin

See what I mean about guys you might be surprised to see here? Lesnar and Benjamin were known as the Minnesota Stretching Crew and a handful of people are smiling at that reference. Scraper is someone you may remember as Sylvester Terkay. Spade likes to talk a lot but never was anything special. John Morrison would eventually use the name Johnny Spade but they’re definitely not the same guy.

Brock and Shelton are brand new here and this is their biggest match ever according to Cornette. Spade spits at Shelton and something tells me that’s not going to go well for him. You can barely see anything as the lighting is terrible, but like I said that wasn’t something you could expect there. Both Shelton and Brock have under a year of experience.

Benjamin shows off early and gets a slick headscissors to Scraper. Yeah Shelton’s debut was in November of 2000. Shelton gets a kick which busts Scraper open. Brock is in tights like Angle wears which is odd to see. Nip up by Brock as he destroys Spade just because he can. There’s that belly to belly of his. All Minnesotans so far.

Spade sends Shelton into the ropes and Scraper pulls the top rope down to shift the momentum. It’s amazing how calm Cornette is during this and how smoothly he says everything he talks about. Modified What’s Up to Shelton. Scraper looks like Bruiser Brody. How weird is it to see Brock and Shelton as completely brand new rookies? Spade and Scraper use a wheelbarrow splash to crush Shelton a bit more but Brock makes the save.

Both Shelton and Spade go for cross bodies at the same time and here comes Brock and Scraper. Big tilt-a-whirl slam to Scraper and a double Rock Bottom has Scraper in trouble. Spade saves the pin as everything goes crazy. Spade tries a monkey flip on Shelton but Shelton just flips over and lands on his feet. SICK superkick from Benjamin takes Spade’s head off.

We have three minutes left and the camera goes over to the corner where Brock is up top. He throws out a SHOOTING STAR PRESS! HOLY FREAKING CHRISTMAS that was awesome. Since OVW isn’t that smart though, it doesn’t end the match as Spade saves. That was incredible. Shelton throws out a 450 to end it even though we don’t see it. Look up that Shooting Star though as it’s something that has to be seen to be believed.

Rating: C+. Basic formula tag match here as Cornette knows how to book a show perfectly. Starting with a pretty fast paced tag match is a great way to get the crowd going and that Shooting Star didn’t hurt anything. Brock was scary good and couldn’t have been wrestling more than 6 months at this point. They were booking Shelton as the star of the team but obviously that didn’t exactly wind up being the case.

Slick Robbie D vs. Randy Orton

Cornette is in the Control Center and gives a brief intro to each match so they’re not as rushed as they seem. Robbie went nowhere but could jump like few I’ve ever seen. Orton is a rookie as well and even has hair here. The referee is a chick with big hair. Randy has few tattoos and isn’t orange yet.

Robbie hammers away on Orton so Cornette plays up how much of a rookie that Orton is. There’s that gorgeous dropkick by Orton and he grabs an armbar. Wheelbarrow suplex gets two for Orton. He’s freaking jacked here too. Big superkick by Robbie gets him out of trouble though. Leg drop gets two. Robbie hits a dropkick to send Orton to the floor. Apparently if you intentionally throw someone over the top it’s a DQ. I will never get that rule.

BIG plancha takes out Orton. Robbie tries to go up and goes so slow “that a crippled moose could be up there by now.” I love Cornette’s expressions like that one. Superplex brings Robbie down and both guys are down. Orton starts his comeback and hits some basic stuff. In a rather abrupt ending, Orton tries for a full nelson slam, his finishing move at the time. It’s blocked so Orton tries it again and hits it for the easy pin. Like I said, rather abrupt.

Rating: C+. Another decent little match here as I feel like I’m watching a Before They Were Stars tape or something like that. Orton wasn’t that great here but it was clear that they were going to try to make him into something. As with a lot of other guys I don’t think anyone had any idea how big he would become but the potential was there.

Rob Conway vs. Ron Waterman

Waterman is a UFC guy and this is under UFC rules, which means it’s a submission match. Conway is a guy you may remember in La Resistance and is one of the OVW Originals. The ring announcer says “This is a submission match and check this out, Ultimate Fighting Championship Rules!’ Waterman has a bad elbow here. UFC meant next to nothing at this point as they weren’t even up to UFC 30 yet.

I think Waterman was supposed to fight Lashley recently but had to back out due to an injury. Conway is self-obsessed and they push Waterman as a family man and all that jazz. They hit the floor almost immediately and Conway messes up his ankle. Cornette talks about how Conway is a thinking man’s wrestler because he goes after the arm. Yes because you need a huge brain to go after the BIG BANDAGED ELBOW.

Boston Crab by Waterman who is huge above his waist but has somewhat skinny legs. Naturally this is just a wrestling match where you can’t win by pin and not a UFC match like they advertised it as. Granted most people wouldn’t know what UFC was at this point so it’s not like it matters.

This started with Conway saying Waterman was a rookie and that said rookie was wasting too much TV time that should go to Conway. Conway finally works on the arm to take over. Waterman comes back but once we go to the floor Conway ducks and Waterman’s arm rams into the post. There’s an armbar and the referee stops it as Waterman passes out.

Rating: D+. I’m not sure what to think of this. It wasn’t anything special at all and the UFC aspect didn’t mean much. The submission made sense but did we need to call it a UFC match? This wasn’t horrible but I never could get into it at all. Waterman more or less disappeared while Conway would get to WWE for awhile.

Cornette tells us about a former referee named Phil Fair who had a drinking problem. A trio called the Suicide Blondes tried to get him out of trouble and to AA meetings and all that jazz. The other two guys in the upcoming match more or less encouraged him to drink and be a jerk so we’re getting this as a result, called a Family Feud match.

Suicide Blondes vs. Phil Fair/Sean Casey/Chris Michaels

The Blondes are Rip Rogers (kind of sort of almost famous), Derrick King and Jason Lee, both of whom mean nothing. If the Blondes lose they have their heads shaved but if they win then Fair has to kiss up to all of them. Why is that always such a common theme? Fair comes out with a sling on his arm and a neckbrace due to slipping on spilled gravy in Kenny Bolin’s (fat heel manager) locker room. He says he has a replacement who is the only true blonde in wrestling, bringing out Nature Boy Buddy Landell. Wow they’re going into the past for this show to balance the new guys.

Suicide Blondes vs. Sean Casey/Chris Michaels/Buddy Landell

Lee vs. Casey to start. I don’t know much about anyone in this but Landell and Rogers to an extent. King comes in and gets a top rope rana for two. The main feud here is Rogers vs. Fair which means nothing at this point. Off to Landell who is in a full body orange workout suit. Michaels draws Lee in and Michaels/Casey beat up King for a bit.

This referee is kind of awful as he isn’t even looking at the shoulders on pins. Double chokeslam gets two on King. X Factor by King to Michaels and both are down. Tag out to Lee who gets a big backdrop on Casey. Moonsault gets two to Michaels. You can kind of see why these guys are in a match on a show like this. Fair comes in and the Blondes all cover him for the pin. Landell more or less walks out and it’s kissing time.

Rating: D+. This was what it was: a quick six man with Buddy Landell there to say that Buddy Landell was there. The kissing stuff was kind of pointless as according to the storyline this only humiliated Fair and doesn’t really accomplish anything. Then again it’s an indy company that needed a storyline so this works as well as anything I guess.

Fair is in the bathroom and wants Michaels and Casey to shave the Blondes’ heads.

Russ McCullough vs. Damaja

This is Last Man Standing. Damaja is more famous as Danny Basham and is another OVW mainstay. McCullough is a seven foot monster and former football player apparently. Russ looks like Nash from behind. He throws Damaja to the floor almost immediately and the red line under his name is irritating me so he’s Danny or Basham from now on. Danny gets a kind of messed up tornado DDT for a count of six.

The match is clipped a bit but it doesn’t seem like much at all. Russ uses basic power stuff and a legdrop gets a count of eight or nine. And never mind as he’s right back down and we clip it again so we don’t even get a count. Layout powerbomb by McCullough which is apparently his finishing move. That gets about nine and a half though and we clip it one more time.

A second powerbomb is blocked with a bunch of shots to the head as Danny is coming back. Nice headscissors takes the big man down and Basham goes up. Missile dropkick mostly hits and we get the second count on Russ even though Cornette says it’s the first. Up at eight but Damaja is on him again. A choke bomb (called Brain Damage) puts Russ down for about 9.5.

A low blow puts Basham down and Russ pops him in the back with a football helmet that is his signature weapon it seems. Naturally that doesn’t get the ten either…ok so it does. He was almost up when it ended which made me think it was still going. That and the whole that ending kind of sucked aspect.

Rating: D+. Are we not allowing a match to go beyond seven or eight minutes tonight? Is that some kind of unwritten rule? It’s not like this is a short tape or anything as it has a two and a half hour run time. Either the last matches are REAL long or there are 15 or so matches on this. Weak match though with Damaja hammering away but Russ never seeming to be in any real danger at all. That and having Danny on his feet at the end looked really stupid.

Flash/Trailer Park Trash vs. Rico Constantino/Mr. Black

This is hardcore. Flash Flanagan is a guy that was supposed to be one of the breakout stars of OVW but a bad injury kept him off the WWF roster just after he was going to be called up. Rico made it of course but is freshly heel here. Black is a big security guard and Trailer Park Trash is a guy I have no idea about. Constantino and Black are part of Bolin Services, the top heel stable in OVW. Oh and Black is Hardcore Champion.

Apparently Rico isn’t in Bolin Services yet but if Bolin can get him the OVW Title he’ll join the team. Cornette: “Bolin is the kind of a guy that if he tells you the sun is coming up tomorrow you better go buy a flashlight. He’s the second most dishonest person I know after that promoter in Philadelphia.” There is some real bad blood there which is 100% legit.

Flash and Trash (just a big guy in jeans and a shirt) bring the weapons. Rico and Black bust out garbage can lids which means they take them to the head. Flash accidently hurt Rico about a year ago to start their feud. This is Trash’s return after about a four month absence. I think you have to be in the ring to get a fall but I’m not sure.

It’s really hard to tell who is who here. Rico has long hair here so you can’t really tell which guy he is. Trash pulls out a bowling ball and it collides with Black’s balls. Flash sets up a table on the floor and Rico goes onto it. Springboard spinning legdrop half kills Rico but Flash is down too. Trash doesn’t look like much of a technician to put it mildly.

Trash gets a door from somewhere (Perry Saturn’s factory maybe?) and lays it between the ring and the railing like a bridge. He wants to suplex Black through it but of course gets shoved through it himself. Flash and Rico are back up and Flash misses a big moonsault. We clip it a bit to see Trash getting hanged by Black. Rico has a broom and everyone is down for the most part.

Black gets a suplex to Flash and we bring in frying pans and tires. Rico puts the tire around Trash’s neck and superkicks the tire. That was different. We throw in a toilet seat and a mailbox to really make this out there. More clipping as Flash takes a Bossman Slam from Black.

The beating has been going on for a good while now. I guess morale hasn’t improved enough yet. Black goes for a top rope splash but Trash makes the stop and slams him down. We hit ten minutes and Flash hits what looks like a middle rope neckbreaker/Blockbuster on Black onto a chair to end this, again very abruptly.

Rating: C-. This was a long match, running over ten minutes. I’m not sure if a hardcore tag match was the best choice to do that with but apparently Trash is a big fan favorite here so they’re giving them what they want in that sense. Pretty dull match and like I said another abrupt ending which came out of nowhere.

Mark Henry vs. Big Show

They had both been in OVW for rehab stints/extra seasoning so this was a feud in both companies. There’s a guy named Thurston Throckmorton who is the attorney for Bolin Services and thinks he’s Randy Savage. By that I mean he’s doing the spin, the OH YEAH, he has the glasses and robe and is throwing out Slim Jims. Debra is the ring announcer for no apparent reason.

It says a lot when Show needed seasoning and was a former world champion. Show is still kind of slim here. Hopefully this is quick. Henry talks trash and they shove each other a bit. Henry charges and Show gets a freaking drop toe hold of all things. I told you Show was a completely different guy back then.

They do the basic power stuff as this is a nice throwback to the very old school freak show battles of the monsters. Show gets him into the corner and stomps away with a ton of force. Henry gets a clothesline which Show just shrugs off. A superkick puts Henry down but the attorney interferes and here comes Henry. Henry more or less punts Show and his ribs are in trouble. Bolin comes out and holds up the briefcase which of course Henry goes into. Chokeslam ends this. Quick and mostly harmless so no rating.

Post match Bolin distracts Show and Henry beats him up and adds some splashes to Show’s bad ribs.

Hardy Boys/Lita vs. Disciples of Sinn/Sinn

Sinn is the female manager of Payne and Damien, the OVW tag champions at the time. Hardys are over as all goodness. The Disciples were a big deal in OVW but never went anywhere. Their stable mate is Leviathan as I mentioned earlier but he’s not here for this one. The main thing people want to see here is Lita more or less kill Sinn.

Matt and Damien start us off. Apparently Damien hears voices. Payne is apparently the new member of the team. They’re tagging in very fast. Sinn comes in to slap Matt and gets caught in there against the fat man himself. Off to Lita but Sinn runs away to bring in Damien. Lita tags in both Hardys and the referee seems cool with it. They destroy the Disciples and it’s off to Jeff now.

Very fast paced stuff so far which is weird for the Disciples as they’re pretty decent sized guys. Payne gets a big clothesline to Jeff to take over. Spinebuster gets two for Payne on Jeff. A pretty bad powerslam by Damien gets two. Oh wait that’s Payne. They look a bit alike and the lighting makes it impossible to tell which is which.

Matt acts kind of stupid as he comes in and Jeff gets double teamed. Granted it’s not as stupid as the referee who lets the Disciples switch without tagging twice in a row. Well I guess that puts them back to even. Chinlock has Jeff in trouble. Cornette talks about how much the cheers mean to Jeff. I guess he hasn’t been watching his TNA lately.

Jeff finally gets the tag to bring in Matt and the beating is on. Everyone comes in again and it’s a double clothesline to put Matt and both Disciples down. Sinn tags herself in and so does Lita. Lita takes down Damien because she’s more awesome than everyone else in there. Sinn takes over for a bit but Lita slams her off the top and gets a spear.

Moonsault hits but everyone comes in and it’s a big brawl. Payne hits a Sky High on Lita and Sinn is the only one left. It’s table time now but Jeff saves. Double DDT by Matt and Lita. Jeff throws out a Swanton on the chick through the table. The pin is academic and the pop is pretty solid.

Rating: B-. It’s probably not that good but I’m kind of feeling sorry for this show as the matches haven’t been that good at all. Still though this wasn’t too bad and the Hardys helped it a lot. The point here was for Sinn to get beaten down and that’s exactly what happened. Fun little six person match which worked fine.

OVW Title: Chris Benoit vs. Nick Dinsmore

Dinsmore is more famous as Eugene and is more or less the best wrestler of all time in OVW. He more or less was a Benoit clone so this should be interesting. Benoit had lost the IC Title ten days before this so he was pretty big as you would expect. He yells at the crowd about how awesome he is and still gets a face pop. Benoit is freaking jacked. Cornette talks about how great Dinsmore’s German suplex is.

It’s weird to see Dinsmore looking in great shape as opposed to being kind of chubby as Eugene. We start with a technical match of course as that’s both guys’ bread and butter. They hit a Test of Strength and Benoit gets him down onto the mat but Dinsmore bridges out. In an incredibly impressive spot, Benoit jumps into the air and drops down onto said bridge but can’t break it. He does it again and STILL Dinsmore stays up. That was awesome looking.

Pinfall reversal sequence gets two for both guys. Benoit outmaneuvers Dinsmore with relative ease because he’s Chris Benoit. Chris works the arm and hooks a surfboard. Dinsmore fights back a bit but it doesn’t last long as Benoit works on the knee a bit. He drapes Nick over the top rope and might have hurt his ribs.

Dinsmore hasn’t been in control for the whole match so far as Benoit is dominating. Nick gets a small package for two and Benoit is like OH NO YOU DIDN’T and chops the heck out of him. Off to a chinlock as this has been going almost ten minutes now. OVW was part of the NWA at this point. I didn’t realize that and it kind of surprises me as they’re also part of the WWF system.

Another rollup gets two so Benoit takes his head off again. Benoit pounds on him some more but Dinsmore goes for a backslide. Benoit blocks so Dinsmore rolls through into a sunset flip. As he has every time though, once Dinsmore gets a rollup he gets his head taken off by Benoit. Nick gets a Dragon Screw Leg Whip out of nowhere which gets him nowhere also.

Dinsmore gets a fifth or sixth rollup and for the fifth or sixth time he gets his head taken off. Benoit goes up but Nick runs up the ropes and chops the tar out of him. Superplex puts Benoit down but Dinsmore is half dead too. They slug it out and here comes Dinsmore. Superkick (is there anyone in OVW that doesn’t use that move?) sets up a missile dropkick which sets up the German Suplex but Rico Constantino runs in for the DQ as he goes after Dinsmore.

Rating: B. Good match here but nothing classic. This was more or less Benoit beating the heck out of Nick for about 15 minutes and then Dinsmore finally getting some offense in. The ending works as you can’t have Benoit win the title but you don’t want to have him lose to Dinsmore clean either. Constantino would take the title from Dinsmore in about a month. Best match of the night so far.

Post match Benoit decks Constantino because he cost him the match. How weird is it that Rico went from being awesome to being a comedy character?

Here comes Good Old JR to interview STONE COLD STONE COLD STONE COLD! Considering Austin had just won his third Rumble and was on his way to Wrestlemania, this was a pretty big deal. They acknowledge JR as the VP of talent, as in the guy responsible for bringing in new guys. Huge pop for Austin of course.

This is the big segment of the night of course. JR says that his money is on Austin winning the title at Mania which makes sense I’d think. He talks about beating HHH up for what he did to him and wants to know if you think he’s ready for Wrestlemania. JR asks what Austin thinks of Mr. McMahon. That’ll take awhile to answer so Austin needs a beer to pass the time.

Make that two beers as JR needs one too. He could go on forever about Vince but he’ll pass as he wants to see the rest of the show. Austin says that Vince is a huge piece of trash which gets a big pop. JR brings up Rico which is just weird to hear in the same discussion as Austin. He talks about Rico’s balls for no apparent reason.

Here are Bolin and Rico to talk to Austin and I think you know what’s coming here. You can barely understand Rico given how loud the booing is. What in the world happened to him on the way to the main roster? Rico says that when he gets to the WWF he’s coming for Austin and says he’s a role model which is his thing at the time. Stone Cold is in a good mood so he’s going to let Rico live. Rico says don’t turn your back on me, and there’s a Stunner for the future stylist.

We get some music videos on Leviathan who is kind of freaky looking actually. The other is about Kane and how they have a rivalry which more or less means they talked about each other and Leviathan got to beat people up before this.

This is the largest non-PPV crowd in Louisville since 1977.

Leviathan vs. Kane

Remember that Leviathan is Batista and is undefeated here. Batista comes out with Sinn from earlier. Sinn says that every bone in her body hurts and draws the biggest non-Austin pop of the night. She says no one can beat Leviathan, including Austin himself. They stare each other down and Big Dave sends Kane to the corner which lasts for about a second.

Clipped a bit to Kane hitting an odd running clothesline. The ring is smaller than a standard WWF one so he’s probably a bit thrown off by it. Chokeslam doesn’t hit as Sinn distracts him. Belly to belly puts Kane down and we hit the floor for a bit. Clipped again to Kane hitting a DDT but walking into a big old spinebuster for two. MORE clipping as Kane is coming back now.

I’ve seen the full match before and they’re clipping the heck out of it here. Top rope clothesline hits but the tombstone is reversed and down goes the referee. Chokeslam hits but there’s no referee. Sinn comes in and here come the Disciples for the save. Batista gets a spear to put Kane down as the Hardys and Lita make the save. Austin comes out and stares down Batista. Double bird and a Stunner puts Batista down. Chokeslam ends this.

Rating: C. Really hard to give this a fair grade given how much clipping they gave it. This wasn’t horrible though as Kane and Batista were working pretty hard out there and it worked ok. This was about making a main event seem huge and they did that for the most part. It’s no classic or anything but being so short and clipped as much as it was it’s hard to grade it fairly. Fun though.

Overall Rating: B. Now keep a few things in mind here. First off, this was a massive house show for an indy company. An indy company had Kane, the Hardys, Lita, Big Show, Benoit, and the guy that was about to main event Wrestlemania on their show. I think that more than makes this a success. There isn’t a truly bad match here although some aren’t so good.

You get guys like Lesnar and Orton and Benjamin way before they were stars and the whole thing was rather fun. Again keeping in mind that this was a house show and a very good one at that, this is pretty awesome stuff. Benoit vs. Dinsmore was good but aside from that there isn’t really a great match on here. Still though there are enough decent ones and nothing horrible to make this a very solid show, with an emphasis on the words all things considered. Now go check out that Shooting Star Press.


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