Welcome to KB’s Old School (and New School) Reviews. I’ve been reviewing wrestling shows for over ten years now and have reviewed over 5,000 shows. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I’ll be posting a new review here on Wrestlingrumors.net, starting today. It could be anything from modern WWE to old school to indies to anything in between. Note that I rate using letters instead of stars and I don’t rate matches under three minutes as really, how good or bad can something that short be?
Date: February 21, 1993
Location: Ashville Civic Center, Ashville, North Carolina
Commentators: Jesse Ventura, Tony Schiavone
This is a one match show and it is all built around Sting vs. Vader. That’s one of those matches that is going to work no matter what, it’s the White Castle of Fear strap match. In other words, we might be in for some special mini movies, which are always, uh, something. Let’s get to it.
We open with a recap of Vader whipping Sting and abusing him with the strap to set up the main event. This is about as low key of an opening as you can get.
Eric Bischoff and Missy Hyatt welcome us to the show and announce that Maxx Payne is replacing Ron Simmons in the US Title match. Hyatt will be handling interviews tonight but won’t say who she’ll be interviewing. Eric brings out Johnny B. Badd (with the snappy sailor’s hat) to run down the card….and that’s it.
Tony Schiavone and Jesse Ventura run down the card because we might not know what we paid to see.
Maxx Payne plays a rock rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.
Hollywood Blonds vs. Marcus Bagwell/Erik Watts
Bagwell is the Rookie of the Year and it always seemed like he held that title forever. Austin and Bagwell lock up to start and the fans are behind Bagwell for one of the few times in his career. Bagwell armdrags him into an armbar before powering Austin down with a pair of top wristlocks. Back up and Steve punches him down, only to get knocked hard to the floor. That doesn’t last long as Austin is thrown inside for a double backdrop, plus a double clothesline to Pillman.
Watts comes in for an armdrag (which doesn’t work that well) on Pillman and a quickly broken armbar. Bagwell comes in for a crossbody and the headlock takeover puts Austin in trouble. It’s back to Watts and the fans boo him out of the building, including as he puts on an abdominal stretch. The announcers debate the merits of cheating (Jesse: “Always take the easy way out. That’s for all you kids out there.”) as Jesse notes the Watts booing.
A bad looking Boston crab has Austin in trouble so Pillman comes in to kick Watts in the face for the break. Pillman gets pulled down into the STF but he’s in the ropes in a hurry. They head outside with Pillman’s dive off the apron missing to send him crashing into the barricade. Austin is back up to beat Watts down on the floor, with the fans being rather pleased. Back in and Pillman breaks up a sunset flip attempt so Watts can be choked on the rope.
The double teaming is on with Austin luring Bagwell in for some double choking. The Rocket Launcher is blocked with raised knees but Austin is back in with a suplex to break up the tag attempt. Austin misses a running crotch attack on the ropes though and it’s a hot tag to Bagwell to clean house. Everything breaks down and Watts is sent outside but makes the mistake of trying to get back in. That leaves Bagwell to Yellowjacket (fisherman’s) suplex Pillman but Austin comes in off the top to break it up and give Pillman the pin at 16:35.
Rating: C+. It’s rare to see a match with two teams having such different levels of talent in one match. Bagwell was getting better but had a pretty firm ceiling. Watts…..no. I get that he was thrown in WAY over his head, but that doesn’t change the fact that he was WAY over his head. He was so tall, lanky and awkward (not his fault mind you as he had no idea what he was doing at this level) that the fans just did not want to see him.
The Blonds getting cheered like that was awesome to see, mainly because they were one of the best tag teams of the 90s and deserve any cheers they get. Better than expected, but almost all because of the Blonds. They just couldn’t get much more out of these two and it was very obvious.
We get a quick clip of the Sting/Vader White Castle of Fear mini movie, featuring Sting flying to the Rocky Mountain.
Bischoff and Badd confirm that Ric Flair will be here tonight.
Flair arrives but Missy Hyatt is escorted away by security while trying to get an interview.
2 Cold Scorpio vs. Chris Benoit
Well ok then. Jesse picks Benoit for his killer instinct, and I’ll go straight to Benoit elbowing Scorpio in the face to get away from that as fast as I can. Benoit stomps away but Scorpio is back up with a spinning high crossbody. A kick to the face puts Benoit on the floor and it’s an armbar back inside to keep Benoit in trouble. Scorpio goes with the hammerlock with his feet and drops backwards to crank on the arm, which does look rather painful. Back up and a Japanese armdrag sends Benoit outside in a huff.
Benoit gets back in for the test of strength with both using some good looking bridges. Scorpio takes him down by the arm again and drops a leg but misses a dropkick. Benoit misses an elbow though and the armbar goes on again. Back up and Benoit ducks a spinning kick to the face and hits that nasty clothesline of his. The backbreaker lets Benoit bend Scorpio’s back over his knee before we hit the chinlock.
Benoit drapes him ribs first over the top and kicks Scorpio outside. A shoulder to the ribs has Benoit staggered but he’s able to avoid the missile dropkick. The chinlock goes on again and it’s off to something rather close to a Liontamer. For some reason Benoit lets go of the hold and grabs another chinlock as we hit the fifteen minute mark about thirteen and a half minutes in. With the holds not working, Benoit takes him up top for a belly to back superplex.
The very delayed cover gets two and a Russian legsweep gets the same. Benoit powerbombs him for two with three minutes left. An enziguri drops Benoit and Scorpio adds a clothesline to send Benoit into the corner. The spinning splash in the corner connects and the twisting splash (which would today be known as Twisted Bliss) gets two. With forty five seconds left, Benoit blocks a victory roll and drops a middle rope leg for two more. Benoit is getting desperate but Scorpio grabs a rollup for the pin at 18:20 (or 19:59 officially).
Rating: B. The good start to the show continues in a much less surprising result. How were these two not going to have a good match? The timing makes sense here as it adds more drama and given that they were only off by about a minute and forty seconds is a minor miracle. I can always go for some Scorpio and while Benoit wasn’t at his greatness yet, you could see all the tools there, waiting to be developed.
Maxx Payne is replacing the injured Ron Simmons in the US Title match. He and his guitar (Norma Jean) have a song ready for champion Dustin Rhodes and of course we hear a little bit….of Taps.
Bill Irwin vs. British Bulldog
Irwin is an evil cowboy and the Bulldog gets a ROAR on his in-ring debut. Smith shoves him down with ease to start and the fans are behind Smith the whole way. Irwin’s shots against the ropes don’t do much good as Smith runs him down with ease. A hard clothesline puts Irwin on the floor and it’s a gorilla press back inside to make it worse. Back in and Irwin kicks away at the ribs as Tony tries to figure out what Jesse means when he talks about Bulldog’s cornrows.
A cover gets one with Smith pressing launching him on the kickout so the chinlock goes on instead. That’s broken up in a hurry and Smith sends him into the corner for a running shoulder. Jesse: “How come they call it an Irish whip? Is it from Ireland?” Tony: “Uh yeah 1863 in a wrestling match there.” Jesse: “….that’s amazing.” I have no idea if Tony made that up on the spot or not but Jesse had NOTHING in response. Anyway Irwin gets up a boot in the corner but dives into the running powerslam for the pin at 5:43.
Rating: D+. Not much of a match here but it was fine enough for an introduction to Smith. A lot of people already knew who he was but you need to let him come in there and beat someone up. That being said, it wasn’t exactly thrilling and Smith looked like he was already getting old and slow. Go while you have the chance I guess, but it wasn’t exactly good.
Vader is waiting for Sting in the White Castle of Fear.
Smith wants the World Title and is ready to eat Vader up.
Badd and Hyatt are ready for the UK tour.
Paul Orndorff is ready for Cactus Jack….who is right here to start their match in a hurry.
Paul Orndorff vs. Cactus Jack
Falls Count Anywhere and Jack chases Orndorff through the entrance with a shovel. Orndorff chokes with an electric cord but Jack slams him onto the concrete. The mats are pulled back for the elbow off the apron and the super sunset flip to the floor for two. They go inside with Orndorff ripping at Jack’s mouth but that’s enough so they fight outside and over the barricade.
Tony FINALLY explains the story here, as these two fought to team with Vader in a cage match but Vader jumped Jack. That made Jack get the shovel and he’s been swinging it since. Back to ringside with Jack being sent into the barricade, followed by a top rope ax handle to the head back inside. Orndorff starts going after Jack’s bad knee, taking the brace off in the process, and then suplexes him over the top and onto the apron (that’s a new one).
The Figure Four goes on and Orndorff grabs the rope. For some reason the referee yells at him but Jack punches Orndorff in the face for the break instead. Makes sense. They head outside again with Orndorff sending him knee first into the concrete. The knee brace to the head sends Jack to the floor again and Orndorff unloads on the leg with a chair. Orndorff calls for the piledriver but Jack channels his inner Old Man Marley and hits him in the face with the shovel for the pin at 12:17.
Rating: B+. Now that was a lot of fun as these guys beat the living heck out of each other for twelve minutes. It takes something special to hang with Jack in a fight like this for so long and that’s what Orndorff was. He’s grown on me a good bit over the years and they had a really, really good brawl here. Orndorff looked awesome and Jack was crazy over with the fans so what more do you need?
Rock N Roll Express vs. Heavenly Bodies
This is part of the Smoky Mountain Wrestling talent trade with WCW, meaning Jim Cornette is here with the Bodies. The idea is now former WCW boss Bill Watts brought out the Express as the SMW Tag Team Champions but Cornette came out with the Bodies and said not so fast. A feud was set off and it’s time to fight here, with Bobby Eaton out with Cornette and the Bodies.
So yes, Eaton and Stan Lane are against the Express and unfortunately we couldn’t get one last WCW match between the famous teams. The Express of course gets a crazy reaction and the fans can’t stand Cornette, partially because he talks about how ugly the fans are. It really isn’t all that hard you see. Eaton gets ejected before the bell (Cornette hugs him goodbye) and it’s Prichard driving Gibson into the corner to start.
A flying headscissors takes Prichard down though and it’s off to Morton for the hurricanrana. Lane comes in off a hot tag and is immediately armdragged into an armbar as the Bodies can’t get much going early on (because these people know how to book a southern tag match). Morton works on Lane’s arm and sends him into Prichard in the corner and Gibson comes in to do the opposite. Cornette and company need a breather on the floor, with Jesse making a thinly veiled gay joke.
A double backdrop puts Prichard down but he gets Morton into the corner. Morton is out in a hurry though and it’s a four way standoff. Morton and Lane hit the crisscross but Morton drops to the floor to chase Cornette. Back in and the Bodies get caught in a double noggin knocker and a right hand drops Cornette off the apron. Cornette gets a grab of Morton’s foot though and the Bodies FINALLY take over.
A swinging neckbreaker gets two on Morton and the chinlock goes on. The referee catches Lane trying to sneak in and breaks it up but Cornette distracts the referee as Morton grabs a sunset flip. Lane makes the save so Prichard can hit the powerbomb for two. A double DDT gets Morton out of trouble and the hot tag brings in Gibson to clean house.
Everything breaks down and it’s a double dropkick to Prichard but the illegal Lane and Morton distract the referee. Cornette comes in to distract Gibson though and Prichard is up with a bulldog. Morton is back up to take Prichard down for two but Cornette has the referee AGAIN. Cue Eaton, but he hits Prichard by mistake, allowing Gibson to get the fast pin at 12:53.
Rating: B. This is the old southern style tag match with five people who could do this match int heir sleep and then did it rather well indeed. It was a great flashback to a long gone era and that’s the point of something like SMW. Granted that didn’t work long term, but for a one off like this, it was pretty awesome.
Sting isn’t sure what to make of the White Castle of Fear.
US Title: Dustin Rhodes vs. Maxx Payne
Payne is challenging and substituting for an injured Ron Simmons. We even get a quick rule explanation and we’re ready to go. Dustin knocks him to the floor and then clotheslines him outside again. Back in and the armdrag sends Payne outside for a third time in less than two minutes. The armbar slows Payne down but he fights up, only to get caught in a running armdrag into another armbar.
Back up and Payne misses a charge into the corner, meaning we hit the armbar all over again. Payne fights to his feet again, misses a shot, and gets kneed in the arm again. Dustin charges into an elbow but gets up a boot in the corner. With nothing else working, Payne hits Dustin in the face and grabs…his own armbar. Egads can these people do anything else?
The Payne Killer (yes, another armbar) is blocked so Payne puts a knee in the chest instead. Some forearms put Dustin on the floor and a backdrop puts him down back inside. Dustin’s comeback thrills the people who haven’t left their seats and Payne misses an elbow drop. A running clothesline puts Payne down and a suplex gives Dustin two. The abdominal stretch goes on but Payne breaks it up, sending Dustin into the referee for the DQ at 11:29.
Rating: D. Egads what a mess this was. It was a bunch of armbars until they had a sloppy brawl and a bad ending. They really couldn’t come up with anyone better to challenge Dustin than Payne? I know Simmons wasn’t available but come on already. At least find someone who looks like a threat or you could pin.
Vader and Sting finally meet. These clips are less than ten seconds each and that might be for the best.
Here’s the returning Ric Flair to do commentary on the NWA World Title match. Flair is all fired up and reminds us that he never lost the title.
NWA World Title: Barry Windham vs. Great Muta
Windham is challenging and yes, we’re supposed to care about the NWA in 1993. Muta has Hiro Matsuda with him. We get the introductions and the WE WANT FLAIR chants are on again. Oh and the NWA allows you to come off the top, because the NWA and WCW had different rules and fans were supposed to be interested in all of this stuff. Feeling out process to start and Windham easily gets the better of a test of strength.
That’s broken up and Muta headlocks him to the mat, with Windham at least trying to fight up, which is something you don’t see often enough in a situation like this. Windham fights up for a belly to back suplex attempt but can’t escape yet. Back up and Muta scores with a dropkick so the headlock can go on again. Windham still can’t suplex his way out and we’re told it’s ten minutes in, even though it’s been less than seven.
Muta snaps off a suplex and drops the power drive elbow. The headlock stays on, they fight up, the headlock takes them down again. Another dropkick misses though and Windham hits a DDT for no cover. Windham knocks him outside as Jesse talks about Flair’s intimidating security team at ringside. Back in and Windham drops some knees to the head for two before grabbing the sleeper.
That stays on for a good while as the rather slow pace continues. Some feet on the ropes make it clear that Windham is the heel here, though I have a problem believing that the fans are going to be interested in anyone but Flair. Back up and Windham gets two off a gutwrench suplex before sending Muta outside. That lets Muta get fired up and the slugout is on with Windham getting the better of it and grabbing a chinlock. Muta fights up with some shots to the face but can’t get a sunset flip.
Windham’s piledriver attempt is countered with a backdrop so he knocks Muta right back down. The superplex is broken up though and now the comeback is on, including the handspring elbow. Muta misses the moonsault (as pretty as ever) but he’s fine enough to hit a belly to back suplex. Another moonsault attempt hits knees and Windham hits the implant DDT (or close to it as Muta was still on his feet while Windham landed) for the pin and the title at 24:09.
Rating: D. Well that didn’t work and the reason was Ric Flair. Ok so maybe that was part of it, along with Muta apparently having the flu. At the end of the day though, the fans only cared about Flair and were stuck waiting almost five more months before he would win the title. I’m sure there’s a logic to it, but having anything involving the NWA at this point was a waste of time.
Vader and Sting strap up.
The hosts make their main event picks.
Vader vs. Sting
Vader’s World Title isn’t on the line and it’s a strap match (four corners version) with Harley Race in Vader’s corner. They take their sweet time setting up the strap, allowing Jesse to point out how hard it’s going to be for Sting to pull Vader anyway. Vader uses the strap to pull him down to start and then does it again to set up the story of the match in a hurry. Sting is down again so Vader drops an elbow to the ribs as commentary explains the always hazy “broken momentum” rule.
A middle rope splash crushes Sting but he’s back up with those shots to the face that only he could make work. An enziguri of all things puts Vader down but Jesse points out that you can’t drag Vader around when he’s on the mat. The top rope splash makes the problem worse but Vader starts rolling around. Sting starts whipping away, including a shot to knock Race off the apron.
It’s time to go outside with Vader being pulled hard into the post and there’s a slam to put Vader down on the floor. Sting gets two buckles (posts actually) out there but gets sent hard into the barricade to break that up. Vader’s back is bleeding after that whipping so Sting makes it worse with a Samoan drop back inside. The standing body splashes put Sting down but he backdrops his way out of a powerbomb to show off the strength. Sting misses a top rope splash and gets crushed by Vader’s version.
There’s a Samoan drop to Sting to even the score and the Vader Bomb has Race celebrating. Now it’s time to whip Sting, with Jesse saying it’s like Tony whipping his children. A super Samoan drop knocks Sting silly but Vader can only get two buckles. The Vader Bomb misses and the fans are all happy again. The breather lets Sting crotch Vader on top and a slam brings him back down.
Vader is up first again though and hits Sting in the face, only to have Sting do it right back. A superplex takes Sting down again for three buckles but Sting ties his leg around the ropes. Sting drops Vader again and the momentum is broken. You don’t tick Vader off though so he unloads with rights and lefts in the corner. Vader uses the strap to pull him in so Sting uses a Liger kick to get a knockdown.
There’s a DDT but the referee gets bumped. Sting doesn’t seem to mind as he picks Vader up in a fireman’s carry for three, only to trip over the referee. Sting is exhausted so Vader sits on his chest and ties him up for three, but Sting isn’t done. He is however eternally stupid though and kicks Vader into the corner to give him the win at 20:54.
Rating: A-. Like these two could ever do anything wrong. Vader’s back was SCARY out there as he was covered in blood and looked like he had fallen on glass. This was what you would expect out of Vader and Sting, even if the White Castle deal was pure early 90s WCW stupidity. Ignoring that though, it’s a heck of a fight and makes me want to watch them go at it again, which they would do for a long time to come.
Post match Sting whips Vader to the floor.
Barry Windham joins the hosts and promises to win all the titles.
Tony and Jesse wrap us up.
Overall Rating: B+. There are bad things on the show but the stuff that works are more than enough to make up for them. This is an awesome show and a true hidden gem that no one ever talks about. Aside from the White Castle stuff and thinking the NWA still mattered (I’m still surprised it even existed) at this point, they let the wrestling speak for itself here and that is often a very good idea. Make a few changes and this is an all time classic, but as it is, it’s just a heck of a show and worth seeing if you clip some stuff out.
Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his- Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books. Get the latest and greatest in professional wrestling news by signing up for our daily email newsletter. Just look below for “GET EXCLUSIVE UPDATES” to sign up. Thank you for reading!