World Championship Wrestling presents: Starrcade – Night Of The Iron Man
Thursday, Week 4, December 1992
Your announcers: Jim Ross and Paul E. Dangerously
Backstage interviewers: Tony Schiavone, Eric Bischoff and Patricia Martin
Ring announcer: Gary Michael Cappetta
Ross: Ladies and gentlemen, we wish you all a very merry Christmas – and we hope that jolly old Saint Nick has brought you everything you wanted, best of all Starrcade on pay-per-view live from the Omni in Atlanta, Georgia!
Dangerously: Thank you as always for including this humble Jew in your festivities, Ross – the turkey was delicious, and I know you agree from the way you went back for second, third, and fourth helpings! Rick Rude, of course, has abstained from celebrating too much so far, and is busy refining our game plan to its absolute zenith with Madusa, but after an hour of beating Sting to a paste tonight Rude will have earned his Christmas dinner – with all the trimmings!
Ross: Folks, the Iron Man match for the WCW World title will be our main event, but we have a lot to get through before that, including our five Lethal Lottery matches and the BattleBowl match! And let’s throw it to our broadcast colleague Tony Schiavone, who is going to handle the draw for the first of tonight’s matches!
Schiavone: Jim, thank you, and good evening everybody! We’ve got twenty of WCW’s finest in the draw including the United States champion Steve Austin, both members of the Calgary Connection, the Young Pistols, all three members of the York Foundation, and many more! And I’m delighted to handle this first draw...
He walked over to a tombola and gave it a spin, before reaching in and taking out the first ball.
Schiavone: Our first team will comprise Ricky ‘the Dragon’ Steamboat and...
He drew out another ball.
Schiavone: ...’the Computerised Man of the 90s’, the reigning NWA World champion, Terence Taylor!
Steamboat and Taylor emerged from backstage, and it was clear that neither one was exactly delighted with their partner. Only Alexandra York looked pleased, apparently at the high calibre of partner that Taylor had drawn, but she frowned slightly at the sight of the taping around Steamboat’s shoulder.
Schiavone turned back to the tombola.
Schiavone: And facing them will be... a technical master in Dean Malenko... and one of the fastest-rising members of the WCW roster, Steve Armstrong!
Again, Malenko and Armstrong emerged and showed no signs of pleasure in their assignment as they approached the ring.
Ross: Both men are tag specialists, which hasn’t ever really been Taylor’s forte. Could that give them the edge?
Dangerously: It could, Ross. I think that Dean Malenko could be the most underrated talent in WCW. Did you know that he’s mastered almost seven hundred holds? And he’s learning more all the time!
Ricky Steamboat and Terence Taylor vs. Dean Malenko and Steve Armstrong
None of these four men seemed to be pleased with their partners, but Steamboat perhaps least of all. He stared daggers at Taylor after the attack by Paul E. Dangerously’s mercenaries on Saturday night.
Dangerously: Not a happy camper, is he, Ross? If he wants that title shot, he has to put the past in the past.
Ross: Ricky Steamboat is a former World champion, Paul. He knows what he has to do... but even someone as sharp as the Dragon can let emotions get the better of him.
Dangerously: More fool him, then.
With gritted teeth Steamboat and Taylor worked together, Steamboat ignoring any offer of teamwork from Taylor other than tagging in and out. Malenko and Armstrong could have capitalised on that, but their own teamwork was equally lacking, and the greater experience of Steamboat and the NWA World champion told as Taylor flattened Malenko with a Piledriver to pick up the win for his team, to his clear delight.
Ross: Two tough opponents for anyone in BattleBowl- Oh my!
Winners: Ricky Steamboat and Terence Taylor (B)
As Taylor celebrated victory...
...Steamboat caught him from behind with a German suplex. Climbing the turnbuckles, he sprang off the top rope and flattened Taylor with a diving crossbody. He looked down at the NWA World champion in disdain.
Steamboat: We’re not done, Terry. And judging by what happened on Sunday, I’m not the only one you have issues with!
In Jesse Ventura’s office, the Commissioner was barking orders at his flustered staff, demanding to know why Sting hadn’t arrived for the show yet.
Ross: Sting’s not here?
Dangerously: Oh, shame!
Ventura: Call him again! If he’s not here tonight, then the BattleBowl winner gets their shot tonight, and it won’t be in an Iron Man match, but-
One of the staff members waved a cellphone in the air.
Staff: It’s Sting! He’s on his way – but he said he didn’t want to be backstage where the Dangerous Alliance could try and attack him, so he’s been training at a gym all day.
Ventura: Smart. Okay, tell him he’s got to be here by bell time, or else! And where’s Cactus Jack – You know what, I don’t care! Cactus is out of the Lethal Lottery! If he can’t be here on time, I know just the man to step in and take his place!
Ross: Commissioner Ventura makes decisions without wasting time, Paul.
Dangerously: He does – but I want to know who Cactus Jack’s replacement is! We’ve been making plans for Cactus, and now this could be an issue! Madusa, I know you’re listening backstage, get on it!
Bischoff: Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve seen the first match of the evening, and I think we can all agree that we’re set for an incredible night if that’s just the beginning! Now, I’m lucky enough to be given the honour of drawing for match 2...
Bischoff walked over to the tombola.
Bischoff: And our first team will be... ‘the Animal’ Scott Steiner! And his partner will be... former WCW World champion Nikita Koloff!
The two hulking competitors appeared at the top of the ramp and regarded one another coolly. Both men went to walk down the aisle, but seemingly unwilling to walk side by side Steiner barked at Koloff to step back and let him through first. Koloff scowled, but gave way begrudgingly – and stared daggers at Steiner as he followed him down the ramp.
Bischoff: And their opponents will be... Joe Malenko, hoping for better luck than his brother, and... Bret ‘the Hitman’ Hart! Two technical wizards against two powerhouses, and you won’t see action like this anywhere other than World Championship Wrestling!
Hart and Malenko emerged from the back, and for the first time in the night there seemed to be no particular issue between teammates – Malenko perhaps recognising Hart as a fellow technical expert, and Hart having long since shown himself to be a pragmatist.
Scott Steiner and Nikita Koloff vs. Joe Malenko and Bret Hart
Hart and Malenko, with their dual technical talent, seemed like a formidable team – but their opponents’ power was quite enough to overwhelm them. Hurled from pillar to post, Hart and Malenko seemed doomed to defeat – but Steiner and Koloff began to argue between themselves over who would score the pin. As they argued, Hart leapt from the second rope, surprising Koloff with a sunset flip, Malenko hooked Steiner with a single leg takedown, holding him off for the three seconds necessary for Hart to score the pin!
Winners: Joe Malenko and Bret Hart (B-)
Enraged at his team’s defeat, Steiner lunged at Hart as the Hitman bailed from the ring. Denied his vengeance, Steinerturned his attention to Koloff as the latter man was getting to his feet. As Koloff turned around, Steiner hammered him with a Steinerline before picking him up and hurling him into the ropes.
Dangerously: Frankensteiner! Scott Steiner knows he wouldn’t have lost this – and Nikita Koloff has to pay the price!
Ross: Bret Hart had the edge on the night, but you can’t be condoning this, Paul!
Dangerously: Why not? Steiner’s taking defeat hard – and so he should! What a specimen he is!
Steiner stood over Koloff, rage evident on his features, clearly considering whether to inflict more punishment on his one-time tag partner. Apparently deciding that Koloff was done, Steiner stalked off.
Dangerously: A quick warning to anyone backstage – stay out of Scott Steiner’s way!
Bischoff: Ladies and gentlemen... Jason Hervey!
Hervey: Woo! WCW! Here we go – who wants to see some amazing matches!
The crowd cheered as Hervey stirred them up, although some booed as he blew kisses to young women in attendance.
Dangerously: How rude! This is a talented young actor, Ross!
Ross: I always preferred Kevin...
Hervey moved to the tombola where his first draw was... ‘Rough Diamond’ Shawn Michaels!
Michaels didn’t wait for his partner to be drawn, instead strutting out to the stage where he drew his own share of cheers and boos as he blew kisses to the women in the audience. He shared a laugh with Hervey, who moved on to draw...
Hervey: ‘Superstar’ Steve Austin!
Dangerously: This is where the night gets really interesting, Ross!
Austin wasn’t in the mood to play to the crowd, but got a few cheers anyway even amongst the heavy boos.
Ross: Apparently the ladies like Steve Austin just fine.
Dangerously: As though there was any doubt. I’ll grant you that Michaels and Hervey are more for the Teen Beat crowd...
Michaels and Austin eyed one another coolly, neither man in a rush to head to the ring.
Ross: No love lost between these two.
Dangerously: It’s a professional working relationship, Ross. They don’t have to be friends, and believe me, they both know about working alongside people they’re not friends with.
As Austin and Michaels stared one another down, Hervey drew the next name from the tombola... Lance Storm!
Storm emerged slowly, wary of the unmoving duo across the stage.
And the next name drawn was... Cactus Jack!
Ross: The wildman from Truth or Consequences! But he wasn’t here earlier tonight... so does that mean Storm is in a handicap match?
Well, that would just be even more of a foregone conclusion, quite frankly.
Hervey: Ladies and gentlemen, Commissioner Ventura did brief me on what should happen if Cactus Jack was drawn and did not appear, so introducing his replacement, making his full-time return to WCW...
Hervey: ...Sid Vicious!
Storm brightened visibly as his new partner emerged from backstage. Standing nearly 7 feet tall, Vicious towered over everyone else in the ring – and Austin and Michaels stepped backwards at the same time as he glowered at them, before striding down the ramp to the ring, Storm following close behind.
Shawn Michaels and Steve Austin vs. Lance Storm and Sid Vicious
Ross: Sid Vicious! We last saw him fighting Terence Taylor, and before that the Stocks And Shares Express! He’s had nothing but difficult opponents – and tonight is no different!
Dangerously: The Stocks And Shares Express won their NWA tag titles from Vicious, who’s never really been a tag wrestler – but his partner is, Ross, and that could make a difference tonight. Well, that is, if they weren’t in the ring with two talents like Shawn Michaels and the Superstar, Steve Austin!
Ross: I wondered how long until we got there...
Both Austin and Michaels were wary of Vicious, and with good reason. While the big man was carefully kept out of as much of the match as Michaels and Austin could manage, when he did enter the fray he pulverised Michaels with a big chokeslam that would have ended the match then and there, had Austin not been the legal man. It proved to be a lucky escape for the Alliance/Exchange pairing, as Vicious’ arguing with the officials let Page slide Austin a roll of silver dollars. Austin quickly KO’d Storm and the referee turned back to find Austin making the pin to advance his side to BattleBowl!
Dangerously: The fruits of a well-maintained partnership, Ross.
Ross: Well, why are you paying Madusa so much if you have Page in your back pocket, Paul?
Dangerously: It’s called covering your bets. Mr Vegas has been very helpful in advising how best to manage risky ventures...
Winners: Shawn Michaels and Steve Austin (B-)
Although Storm was down, Vicious was not – and the humongous one entered the ring with a bang, kicking Austin in the face and sending the United States champion sprawling. Michaels tried to get the first shot off with a savate kick, but Vicious caught his foot and stopped him cold. Yanking the off-balance Michaels towards him, Vicious pressed him high up into the air and held the Rough Diamond overhead.
Ross: Look at the strength of Sid Vicious! How can anyone hold another man overhead so easily as that!
Dangerously: And he doesn’t even look bothered! If Commissioner Ventura wants any more matches to take place tonight, he needs to get some security out here, because big Sid Vicious looks like he can keep Michaels up there for hours!
If not hours, Michaels was certainly aloft for a long, long time as he begged and pleaded with Vicious to be let down. Vicious smirked as Michaels panicked before the big man pitched him over the top rope to the entrance ramp, Michaels landing with a hard crash that echoed through the arena.
Ross: Oh, what impact!
Dangerously: Michaels will be feeling that for a long time to come – and how will that effect him going into the BattleBowl later on tonight?
Dusty Rhodes shucked and jived a little as he took up position by the tombola.
Rhodes: Ladies and gentlemen, good evening! Let’s get on with business, because we have some hungry athletes in here wanting that World title shot!
The first team drawn came from the Kingdom and York Foundation, as Mr Hughes and Richard Morton were paired together.
Rhodes: The strength and speed, the power and the glory, beauty and the beast... Take your pick! We’ve got an almighty team here, and now let’s see who’s going to try and topple the terrible twosome!
Hughes was impassive, Morton scheming with York as their opponents were drawn – Chris Jericho and Tracy Smothers!
Rhodes: Young blood on the other side of the ring! The future of WCW, maybe, and I know they’ll do the Dream proud as they go on out there to try and put their name in the history books!
Mr Hughes and Richard Morton vs. Chris Jericho and Tracy Smothers
This was comfortably the shortest of the Lethal Lottery matches, as Mr Hughes simply had no interest in working with Richard Morton. Given Morton’s experience, it might have been sensible to listen to him – at least for the duration of the match! Instead Smothers and Jericho, both of whom are members of successful tag teams, were able to work together with impressive effect, culminating in a double dropkick – the signature move of the Stocks And Shares Express – on Hughes that sent him tumbling through the ropes. Smothers then delivered a Jaw Jacker to Morton to give his team the win!
Dangerously: Harley never did have much time for mastering the art of tag team wrestling. He should have got Larry the Ax in for the night to give Hughes some lessons!
Winners: Chris Jericho and Tracy Smothers (B+)
Martin: We know that there’s just four names left in the Lethal Lottery, and those of you keeping track will know that both members of the Calgary Connection are two of them. It’s time to see whether they’re going to stay together – or be on opposite sides of the ring tonight!
Martin: And the first name draw is Brian Pillman. His partner will be... Robert Gibson! And that means their opponents will be Owen Hart and Marcus Bagwell!
As the four men made their entrance, it was notable that Hart and Pillman entered side by side, before separating to opposite corners.
Ross: No complaints about being screwed, Paul?
Dangerously: None at all, Ross. Oh, I’m sure that put together Brian and Owen would win outright, but with three of them in five matches, the odds were good that at least two of them would end up in the same match, and if they weren’t on the same team... Well, that just guaranteed one member of the Alliance will be in the BattleBowl. Now the interesting thing will be to see... which one?
Brian Pillman and Robert Gibson vs. Owen Hart and Marcus Bagwell
Ross: We saw Owen Hart and Steve Austin face off on Sunday night, but how will the Calgary Connection feel when facing one another?
Dangerously: There’s money to be made, Ross, and a World title shot at stake. These two will tear each other apart bell to bell – and then shake hands afterwards when the winner gets the drinks in!
At first it seemed that was correct, with Pillman and Hart ignoring their partners in the early minutes of the match as they fought cleanly and with clear relish for fighting one another. However, when Hart landed an enziguri on Pillman he hesitated rather than press the advantage, and tagged out to Bagwell. Pillman took advantage to tag in Gibson, whose experience allowed him to take the younger man to school. While Hart tagged back in to fight Gibson, he backed away once again when Pillman tagged in.
Ross: It seems that Hart has more qualms than Pillman does, Paul.
Dangerously: Indeed it does, Ross. Interesting...
With Pillman free to dish out almost unlimited punishment to Bagwell, the youngster’s team with Hart was soon in peril, even though Pillman showed no real interest in working as a team with Gibson. Taking apparent delight in punishing Bagwell, Pillman levelled him with a piledriver. Throwing a semi-apologetic shrug of the shoulders to Hart, Pillman followed up with a Shining Wizard for the academic pinfall.
Dangerously: Two men in the BattleBowl, Ross. And if you ask me, I’d say it was the two who wanted it more...
Winners: Brian Pillman and Robert Gibson (B+)
Patricia Martin was backstage, hurrying to catch up with someone much taller than her – Sid Vicious.
Martin: Sid, please, welcome back to WCW – may I ask you what brings you here?
Vicious stopped in his march through the backstage area to look back – and down – at Martin.
Vicious: It’s time to resume the journey along the path of destruction, not my destruction, no, this is the destruction of anyone foolish enough to cross me, anyone stupid enough to look at me as a target or opportunity, rather than the rightful ruler of the world!
Vicious smiled widely, before he subsided slightly.
Vicious: My time will come, but first I have business with the York Foundation. For injuring my friend, for taking our titles, for embarrassing me last month, each and every one of them will pay. Morton and Gibson tasted something of my wrath on Sunday night when I beat them down backstage, but there’s more coming soon – maybe even tonight!
Vicious strode off, leaving Martin to hand back to the announcers.
WCW World Tag Team Titles
Dustin Rhodes and Barry Windham (c) vs. The Diamond Mine
Commissioner Ventura had a lot on his mind before and during this show, so it’s perhaps not entirely surprising that this match may have not had his full attention. Given that both teams like to attack first wherever possible, it came as no shock that the brawl began on the entrance ramp, during the champions’ entrance. The fight spilled into the crowd as Vegas delivered a big boot to Rhodes that sent him flying off the ramp. Vegas followed as Studd and Windham fought their way down the ramp and into the ring – Windham with some assistance, as Studd launched him over the top rope with a big fallaway slam! Studd eased through the ropes with his typical swagger, but that was wiped away as Windham went low with a punch that, had the referee been in his usual position, might have ended matters there and then. However, as the bell hadn’t even rung to start the match, the referee had no recourse to end it!
The bell did then ring with Studd doubled over and Windham pulling himself up in the corner by the ropes. On the outside, Rhodes and Studd crashed into a section of crowd barrier and tumbled heavily into the ringside area. Dallas Page seemed torn between his clients as all four men struggled to catch their breaths, with Windham being first upright and charging at Studd, who met him with what might have been a swinging side slam, had Windham not grabbed the ropes to stop cold.
Ross: Windham the veteran – he knows where he is in that ring, and how to best use it to his advantage!
Dangerously: None of these men are small, either. The ropes are that little bit closer for a Windham or a Studd than they are for a Pillman or a Steamboat. Fractions like that can add up, Ross.
Studd and Windham continued to trade blows, but neither man could gain an advantage, and that only drew Vegas and Rhodes into the fight, brawling wildly as they ignored the referee’s entreaties to separate, to get to their corners, to pretend to care in the slightest about the rules...
...and with that realisation, the referee called for the bell, quite unnoticed as the four men continued slugging away at one another and the crowd cheered them on, enjoying the spectacle even if the match itself never really got going.
Harley Race led Don Harris to the ring, with Ron in close formation.
Race: The One Percenters have no respect for anyone else in the wrestling business except for the other members of the Kingdom. Maybe that kind of attitude will lead to trouble, but if so, I think it’s trouble that Ron and Don can handle! Now, Don has a title belt around his waist, and all we need is a challenger to step into this ring and be ready to get beaten down like everyone else who crosses the Harris brothers!
Ross: Who’s going to try and Beat the Champ?
Ross: Oh boy!
Ross: He said he’d be at Starrcade to fight, and that’s what he’s come to do! The Macho Man wants that Television title!
Randy Savage vs. Don Harris (c)
Not even the presence of his twin brother at ringside could keep Don Harris from the onslaught of the Macho Madness! Savage devastated Harris with a series of clotheslines before scaling the turnbuckles to level him a double axehandle. Ron tried to interfere by grabbing Savage’s foot as he ran the ropes, but a stern finger point and bulging-eyed stare from Savage made him back away. Don tried to use the distraction to recover, but instead he was flattened once more by a big powerslam from Savage, who went to the top once again for a Macho Elbow to take the pin – and the title!
Ross: It’s a month since anyone managed to defend the Television title – but something tells me that Randy Savage has very clear plans for that ten pounds of gold!
Winner: Randy Savage (B-)
Savage: See, the Macho Man has been around this business for a few years now. Been to the top of the mountain, yeah, and been to the depths of the ocean, ooh yeah. The Macho Man has seen everything, done everything, and knows everything, dig it! My eyes have seen all there is to see, and they’re wide open, yeah! I know when I see good in the heart of man – and when I see evil! And Steve Austin...
He broke off, chuckling.
Savage: Steve Austin, what I see in you is blackness – pure, absolute, blackness, yeah! I’ve only seen darkness like that once before... when I looked in the mirror, when I met my gaze, and when I stared into the abyss within!
Savage: Steve Austin, you feel the madness calling you, I know it! That all-consuming drive to be the very best of the best! I see it, in you, same as I saw it in me, and I know what it’ll make you do – absolutely anything!
Savage: So yeah, Steve Austin, I know where you’re trying to get to – the same place I did. I know how you’re planning on getting there – the same way I did! But it cost me everything, Austin. Everything! My best friend! My wife! And eventually it cost me the World title I sacrificed everything for!
Savage: A better man than me might try and save you, but not me, no, uh uh! You’re your own man, and you’re gonna walk your own path – wherever it takes you! But what I will do, once I’ve beaten five men who’ve come after this-
He held the Television title aloft.
Savage: -is come and take that United States title from you, boy. Because if I can do that, then maybe you’re not the man I think you are – or maybe the Macho Man’s still the cream of the crop, and this shiny piece of gold and the one you’ve got around your waist will be just the beginning, dig it!
Ultimate Warrior vs. Big Van Vader
The crowd were in feverish mood as first Vader (and Harley Race) and then Ultimate Warrior (alone, but for the spirits of the warriors, and whoever or whatever else may be driving him onwards) entered the ring.
Ross: For six months these two titans of the squared circle have been at one another’s throats. Vader has injured Warrior twice, but nothing seems to be able to stop him from coming back! He even seems to have shrugged off the beating he took on Saturday night!
Dangerously: If I were Warrior and I knew that Vader wanted me gone, I’d go – and I’d thank him by letter for giving me any sort of warning that let me walk out on my own two feet!
With no rules to enforce, the referee was largely a spectator as Warrior and Vader slugged it out. It only took moments for a Vader clothesline to send Warrior crashing to the outside of the ring, and the stunning agility of the bigger man was on display as he dove off the ring apron, crushing Warrior against the crowd barrier for the first count of the match – the referee reaching eight before Warrior pulled himself upright.
Vader didn’t give Warrior a chance to recover, firing in hard rights and lefts before backing up for a charge at Warrior. Warrior, however, moved with impressive speed of his own, tagging Vader with a block to the knee that sent the 450 pounder crashing into the crowd barrier, tipping a long section of it over with fans diving for safety, chairs scattered and toppled in their wake.
Dangerously: Caution! First two rows may get Vadered!
Ross: We need security out here – if anyone’s feeling brave enough to get between Warrior and Vader!
Warrior tackled Vader from behind, leaping onto his back and punching him in the sides and back of his head as Vader tried to pull him over his shoulders. As Vader dropped to one knee under the onslaught, it took Harley Race slamming one of the scattered chairs to make Warrior get off his client. Rearing back in pain, Warrior stumbled away from his opponent and Race wound up to send in another blow, only for Warrior to stop him with a hard punch to the face. Race staggered away and Warrior picked up his dropped chair, lunging at Vader only for the big man to punch it out of his hands.
Momentarily nonplussed Warrior was open to a counterattack and Vader fired in a hard left to the body before a right arrowed in on Warrior’s face – but Warrior caught Vader’s hand and held it, drawing appreciative cheers from the crowd as he forced Vader back, pushing him away to Vader’s clear surprise.
Dangerously: I’ve never seen anyone match strength with Vader like this!
Vader tore his arm free of Warrior’s grip, but Warrior darted inside his reach to grasp him tightly and lift him into the air. Cameras flashed around them as time seemed to stand still, Vader poised in Warrior’s grasp before Warrior slammed him down on the fallen chairs.
Ross: Oh, what impact! Flesh and bone meets steel and concrete, as all 450 pounds of Vader is hurled to the ground by the Ultimate Warrior!
Warrior turned to the crowd, arms aloft and pumping as they cheered his efforts, Vader struggling in the background. With only three seconds left on the clock he managed to get one foot under him, and Warrior turned to find him rising on shaky legs as the referee counted to nine – but no further. Warrior charged at Vader and slammed into him with a big clothesline, sending Vader tumbling back into a staircase. Clinging to the handrail for support, Vader stayed off the ground but seemed to be reeling...
...which may have been what prompted the appearance of Ron Harris, emerging from the crowd to blindside Warrior with a big boot. Warrior crashed to the ground as Harris checked on Vader, seemingly ready to help him up before Vader shoved him away and pushed himself upright. Backing up the stairs, Vader taunted Warrior as he stared down at him rising from the floor. Warrior hurled himself at Harris, nearly turning him inside out with a huge clothesline before charging up the stairs towards Vader. The masked man backed up the stairs to the top step, where he met Warrior head on, the two men trading blows without restraint.
Ross: Surely Warrior has to get the worst of this! Vader has two hundred pounds on him! And all it will take is one big hit to send him tumbling down those stairs!
But Warrior held firm, even gaining a little ground as he forced Vader to take a step back, allowing Warrior to gain a more secure position – albeit still at the top of the stairs. With the added room to manoeuvre, Warrior was able to sidestep a lunge from Vader and spin him around, putting the masked man on the edge of the stairs as Warrior unloaded on him with fists and a headbutt that had Vader reeling for a moment...
Dangerously: If he falls it’ll be measured on the Richter scale!
...before grabbing Warrior’s long hair to steady himself and driving a thumb into his eye.
Ross: Oh! Warrior could be blinded!
Dangerously: Vader will do whatever it takes to win, Ross, and you can’t help but admire that.
Ross: Maybe you can’t, Paul.
Dangerously: This ain’t grandma’s bridge night! Warrior wanted a no holds barred throwdown with Vader, and he got it! If the schmuck didn’t realise how far Vader would go, more fool him!
Vader grabbed Warrior’s head and seemed set to pitch him down the stairs all the way to the arena floor, but as Warrior struggled to break the hold...
...Cactus Jack emerged from the crowd and lashed out with a steel chair, catching Vader full in the face and rocking him back, releasing Warrior as he staggered backwards.
Ross: Cactus Jack has had trouble with Vader in the past – apparently it’s time for revenge!
Vader now stood on the edge of the stairs, ripe for a second swing from Cactus as he clutched at his now-bloodied face, but Cactus instead turned to Warrior and helped him regain his bearings. Sighting Vader, Warrior hurled himself forwards with a flying shoulder tackle that sent Vader toppling backwards...
...down the long flight of stairs...
...tumbling all the long way down as the crowd screamed and gasped until at last Vader crashed to the ground in a heap.
Ross: Surely there’s no way even Vader can get up from that!
Dangerously: That’s a two-storey flight of stairs Vader just fell down, Ross! Never mind get up from it, is Vader ever going to walk again?
The referee counted, but it was all but a formality, as Vader barely even stirred by the time the count reached ten.
Ross: And Warrior wins... but at what cost to Vader?
Dangerously: And I’ve got another question for you, Ross... If Warrior and Cactus Jack are buddying up, who’s the sane one in that partnership?
Up on the landing at the top of the stairs, Cactus and Warrior were indeed regarding one another without rancour. Bruised and battered, Warrior extended his hand gratefully to Cactus, who took it and raised it aloft as the fans cheered the winner of the match.
Ross: Two very unorthodox fighters... well, perhaps they’ve found some common ground?
Winner: Ultimate Warrior (B)
A video played highlighting the long, long history of Ric Flair and Arn Anderson – a decade stood side by side as members of the Four Horsemen, cousins, tag team partners, best friends...
...and then going their separate ways more than a year ago as Flair tried to hold onto his World title, and Arn joined the Dangerous Alliance.
Bereft of support, Flair lost his title, he was no longer The Man, he stepped away from the ring for a time to manage the Thrillseekers...
...while Anderson rode high in the world as United States champion, as NWA tag team champion, as the Enforcer and lynchpin of the Dangerous Alliance.
And slowly Flair began to recover his form, striking out alongside the Thrillseekers, alongside former rivals like Ricky Steamboat and Sting, even forcing his way into the World title picture, a year after his last reign had ended...
...and Anderson lost ground, lost his title, lost his confidence, lost his standing in the Alliance as Steve Austin forced his way into the centre of the group, even as it remained focused on Rick Rude and the World title.
And Flair moved like a man five or even ten years younger, confident, even arrogant once more – the Nature Boy, the living legend, Space Mountain...
...and the Enforcer was no longer the same man, struggling to find his niche, find his form, perhaps even find who he truly was outside of being Ric Flair’s most trusted ally.
Anderson: I never stopped believing in you, never stopped thinking, knowing even, that you were the best, the bar that everyone else needs to measure themselves against. And when you’re that good, Ric, everyone’s going to throw themselves at you, everyone’s going to try and take you down. That’s why I always had your back, always kept you from going down under the weight of numbers. When someone beat you, they beat you clean – I was your Enforcer, your corner man... your best friend.
Anderson: I saw that the Nature Boy, The Man, Space Mountain, the best to ever walk that aisle was back! You’re still The Man!
Anderson: And now, Ric, I want to face The Man.
Flair: That’s what you want, Arn? That’s what you want? You want to face The Man, one on one, for the first time ever, and you want to find out if you’re good enough to beat me?
Flair: You want to do this, Arn? You want to see how good the Nature Boy really is? One on one, first time ever? Then yes, damn it, yes! Come find me at Starrcade, and learn exactly how much I needed you over the years, and exactly how hard it is to be beat The Man!
Ric Flair vs. Arn Anderson
Ross: No Madusa in Arn Anderson’s corner tonight, Paul?
Dangerously: No. He said he had to ‘do this himself’. We’ll see how that pans out for him...
The two old friends circled one another carefully at the bell, tying up before breaking apart as neither was able to gain the clear advantage over the other. Slapping his chest, Flair seemed to psyching himself up for a typical match... but as he turned back to Anderson he clearly changed his mind. Holding out his hand for Arn, Flair was left waiting for a shake as the Dangerous Alliance man stared back, neither advancing nor retreating.
Ross: It seems genuine. It probably is genuine...
Dangerously: ...but Arn Anderson knows Ric Flair much too well to trust an offered handshake like that.
Slowly, the two veterans engaged once more, with Anderson targeting Flair’s left leg early on in a clear attempt to take the Figure Four from his arsenal. For his part, Flair went after Anderson’s right arm, with Dangerously speculating that it was an effort to take away Anderson’s Spinebuster – and maybe the DDT as well. But Anderson’s efforts had the added advantage of slowing Flair down as he landed his hits and torqued Flair’s leg.
Dangerously: The Nature Boy is limping, and that’s big news for the Enforcer!
Ross: Listen to you, all excited for your client. Where’s that been the last few months?
Dangerously: Every wrestler has hot and cold spells, Ross. I wouldn’t abandon a talent like Arn Anderson overnight – but he needed tough love to get through his recent run, and the Alliance gave it to him.
Ross: Yeah – in spades!
With the Figure Four looking unlikely, Flair increasingly looked to work on Anderson’s arm, slamming it into the ringpost and over the top rope. Hobbled by the assault on his leg, though, Flair struggled to capitalise. An attempted Fujiwara armbar failed when he couldn’t hold the bridge, his leg giving out under him as he struggled for leverage.
Tearing himself free, Anderson tried to lift Flair up for a Spinebuster, but Flair was able to break free as Anderson struggled to hold his grip. Landing beside Anderson, Flair grabbed him as he turned and delivered a Spinebuster of his own, jackknifing on the cover and trying to hold Anderson down for three, but the bad leg again faltered and the Enforcer rolled out from under the Nature Boy. As Flair tried to get to his feet, Anderson lunged off the mat, clipping the back of Flair’s knee and sending him crashing to the mat. Before Flair could recover, Anderson grabbed his legs and twisted them through his own, crossing Flair’s legs and applying pressure.
Ross: Figure Four! This is Anderson’s!
Flair bellowed in pain as Anderson leaned into the hold, throwing punches at Flair’s knee and thigh to add to the pain being inflicted.
Ross: This is Flair’s move – but Anderson studied him for years! Does he know Flair’s counters – does he have what it takes to hold this?
Dangerously: What can Flair do? They’re right in the centre of the ring!
Flair tried to turn the hold over, tried to pull himself over to the ropes, but Anderson stopped him in his tracks with a backhand chop to the chest, drawing a grimace as much of shock as pain from Flair. Anderson grabbed his head and delivered a series of right crosses, one, two, three, four times before Flair slumped back on the mat. The referee checked on Flair’s shoulders and counted one... two...
The Nature Boy jerked upright with a yell, right into another right hand from Anderson. Flair rocked back, and another punch sent him back down again. The referee was right on hand to count, and again Flair reared up, but this time it clearly took a lot more effort for him to do so – and this time just one hard right from Anderson sent him back to the mat, and this time Flair could only just get one shoulder up, and then just barely. Scarcely able to raise himself off the mat, and unable to break free, Flair stared up at Anderson, seeing no weakening in his eyes, no remorse, no pity for his long-time friend...
...and Flair submitted.
Dangerously: To his own hold! The Nature Boy gives up – and Arn Anderson is the winner!
Winner: Arn Anderson (A*)
With a victory of real significance under his belt, Anderson dropped to his knees as the referee tried to raise his hand, hands clasped to his face for a moment as the enormity of it all sunk in.
Ross: Arn Anderson has been struggling for months – but not tonight! He stepped up to the plate, faced down his best friend and the wrestler he’s looked up to for almost a decade, and Arn Anderson emerges victorious!
Getting to his feet, Anderson took in the ovation being given by the crowd.
Dangerously: And more importantly, he finally brings home the winner’s share of the purse for the Dangerous Alliance.
Ross: Will you stop, even if just for a minute?
Dangerously: Why should I? We’ve let Anderson stick around and mooch off us for months, Ross, you said it yourself. If he’s finally got his act together, great. I’ve never said anything against Arn Anderson as a wrestler – he belongs in the Dangerous Alliance.
Ross: If he wants that, of course...
As Anderson turned to leave, Flair called out to him. Pulling himself along the ropes, heavily favouring his bad knee, Flair reached out a hand to Anderson...
...and Anderson stared at it, as the hand was not held out to shake, but rather was showing four extended fingers.
As the crowd took on the significance of Flair’s offer, Anderson stared into his old friend’s eyes.
Flair: You and me. Equals. You earned it – Anderson and Flair, one more ride. You earned it, and Arn... I need you, brother.
Dangerously: No! Arn, don’t even think about it!
Arn looked down at Flair’s hand again, and his own hand came up, four fingers outstretched, mirroring Flair’s as the crowd erupted.
Ross: One more ride!
Anderson and Flair left the ring together, Anderson supporting his friend on his bad leg, their heads bowed together as they talked.
Dangerously: Fine! Go! That’s all you’ll get with Flair – helping him get what he wants, all over again!
Ross: No need to sound so bitter, Paul.
Dangerously: Bitter! Bitter, Ross? I’ll show you bitter – Madusa, call our attorney and tell him to hit Arn Anderson where it hurts for breach of contract!
Steve Austin and Brian Pillman were backstage with Madusa, apparently unaware of what had just happened in the ring. The pair were talking animatedly, as the camera got within range to hear what they were saying.
Austin: ...then it’s just the two of us.
Pillman: That’sright. We keep it tight, no loose cannons, until it’s just the two of us. And then, just one of us.
Austin: Well then, let the best man win... pal.
Pillman: I’ll shake on that.
The pair shook hands, staring one another down for a few seconds before walking off. Madusa, for her part, took out a cellphone as it started ringing.
Ross: Will you put that away?!? We’re live!
Dangerously: This is important, Ross!
Ricky Steamboat vs. Terence Taylor vs. Joe Malenko vs. Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Steve Austin vs. Chris Jericho vs. Tracy Smothers vs. Brian Pillman vs. Robert Gibson
Dangerously: Look at that field, Ross. What do you see?
Ross: A lot of great talent, for a start – and two of your clients.
Dangerously: Implying that Steve Austin and Brian Pillman aren’t great talents? That’s beneath you, Ross. I expected better of you – although for the life of me I can’t think why. No, look closer – Gibson, Malenko, Jericho, Smothers, Pillman. Sparking anything, Ross?
Ross: They’re tag wrestlers, in the main.
Dangerously: Right! All of these men have had singles success during their career, but they come into this match primarily as tag team wrestlers. Obviously we’ve prepared Brian Pillman so that he’s ready for the different challenge you’ll find in a battle royal where there’s no-one to watch your back, but I wonder if the others will be able to overcome that mindset.
Ross: Do you mean that Steve Austin won’t be watching Brian Pillman’s back? Or vice versa?
Dangerously: They’re both in it to win it, Ross; If they can help each other then I’m sure they will, but neither one of them is counting on the other.
Shawn Michaels was in no rush to enter the ring or, rather, he was quick to leave it as the bell rang – letting the other nine men go at one another, with Austin allying briefly with Malenko to go after Steamboat as Hart and Taylor, Jericho and Gibson and Smothers and Pillman all paired off. Malenko actually took the lead against Steamboat as Austin hung back, allowing his ally to draw Steamboat’s attention before the Superstar lunged in, trying to clothesline the Dragon over the top rope.
Steamboat held on, and even with Malenko and Austin both trying to lever him out of the match he was able to contort himself to stay on the right side of the ropes, at least until...
...a veritable titan strode down the entrance ramp, disregarding the efforts of referees, security and WCW officials to keep him out of the match.
Dangerously: He has no business here!
Ross: Relax, Paul. I don’t think the Dangerous Alliance are on Sid Vicious’ radar just yet!
Vicious stepped over the top rope, pausing only to pieface Malenko when he strayed too close to the Arkansan giant. That gave Steamboat the impetus to break free as Vicious levelled the charging Taylor with a big boot, sending the NWA World champion sprawling to the mat. Gibson disengaged from Jericho to launch himself at Vicious in defence of his ally, but Vicious snatched him out of the air by his throat, and delivered a ring-shaking chokeslam that seemed to knock Gibson clean out – before lifting him up off the mat once more. Gibson hung limply in Vicious’ hand, his feet dangling inches off the mat as Vicious snarled at the other wrestlers gathered around him and watching, before Vicious turned and hurled Gibson over the top rope to a booming crash landing on the entrance ramp, where he convulsed briefly before falling to the arena floor (9 remaining).
Ross: Gibson is out! And Sid Vicious isn’t done!
Taylor was trying to escape Vicious’ notice by leaving the ring behind his back. Vicious turned in place, however, and reached out a long arm to catch Taylor by the hair and drag him back into the centre of the ring. Vicious whipped him into the ropes and tried for another big boot, but Taylor adroitly dropped to the mat, sliding under the uplifted boot. Leaping to his feet Taylor bolted for the ropes again to escape and, seemingly struck by the same inspiration, Pillman and Steamboat pulled down the top strand as Taylor scrambled out of the ring (8) with Vicious in determined pursuit, clotheslining Gibson on his way up the ramp.
Ross: We’re down to eight – and any second now we might get this match back under control!
Dangerously: Who wants that, Ross? I can tell you now that Steve Austin and Brian Pillman do some of their best work when they’re on a catastrophe curve!
With some degree of normalcy resumed, Pillman lashed out at Jericho with running knee, sending the young Canadian crashing into the corner. Steamboat tried to reach Pillman, but was waylaid by Hart, who flattened the Dragon with a belly to belly suplex.
Ross: All well and good, but that won’t eliminate anyone!
Dangerously: Depends how hard you throw them, Ross.
Austin zeroed in on Jericho, delivering a series of hard stomps to the youngster’s face and chest as he lay slumped in the corner, before being surprised by Michaels, who slid back into the ring and nearly succeeded in dumping Austin over the top rope after blindsiding him. Jericho tried to get upright to help Austin, but Michaels delivered a kick to the face that dropped him back to the mat.
Across the ring, Steamboat was back on his feet and tussling with Joe Malenko. The technician was trying to take Steamboat down to the mat, but the Dragon’s resistance was enough to keep him upright, even as Malenko tore at his injured arm and shoulder. Steamboat’s efforts were abruptly terminated as Pillman dived in with a Shining Wizard, coldcocking him and putting him down on the mat. Malenko jerked backwards in surprise, and Hart deftly hoisted him up on his shoulders before dropping him over the top rope to the outside (7).
Dangerously: Pillman and Hart – I shouldn’t be surprised that combination works!
Ross: You seem awfully pleased given that doesn’t seem like great news for your boys, Paul. There’s not many left in that ring with any reason to like Pillman or Austin.
Dangerously: So who cares about being liked?
As Hart turned away from the ropes Michaels sprung out of the corner of the ring and caught him with a superkick flush to the jaw, sending him sprawling to the mat. With Jericho, Steamboat and Hart all down and in varying states of disarray, Smothers found himself the focus of the two Alliance men as Michaels took the chance to catch another breather, sliding under the bottom rope and yanking Gary Michael Cappetta’s seat out from under him so he could sit down.
Dangerously: See, that’s smart!
Ross: So why aren’t your boys doing that, Paul?
Dangerously: Who says they’re not going to?
Smothers fought hard, and with a few more seconds might have avoided elimination, as Steamboat was struggling to his feet and might have intervened, but before he could Pillman and Austin succeeded in heaving Smothers over the top rope and out of the match (6).
Ross: We’re down to six, and-
Pillman: Hey, Chris, hey!
Pillman had followed Michaels out of the ring and snatched Cappetta’s microphone. Getting back into the ring he grabbed Jericho and hauled him out of the corner, helping him stand on shaky legs.
Pillman: The way I see it, you’ve not got much choice here.
Behind him, Austin booted Steamboat in the gut, doubling him over. Grabbing Steamboat’s head, Austin pitched him into the corner, sending him crashing into the ringpost with his injured shoulder.
Ross: Steamboat can’t get any traction.
Dangerously: And that’s by design, Ross. You don’t let a competitor as dangerous as Ricky Steamboat get any kind of momentum going.
Pillman: Now the way I see it, I’m used to having a blonde Canadian from the Dungeon by my side. You may not be Owen, but you’re the next best thing in this ring right now, so you keep an eye on Steamboat and the Hitman here, and we’ll make sure you get a soft landing when one of us pitches you over the top rope. You finish third, fourth at worst, and that’s got to be good for your resumé, right? What do you say-
Whatever Jericho might have said, Pillman was cut off as Bret Hart grabbed him from behind and delivered an atomic drop that sent the former Bengal stumbling into the ropes. Hart charged forwards, clotheslining Pillman over the top rope and onto the ring apron. Before he could capitalise on the advantage, he was caught again by Michaels, vaulting to the top turnbuckle and leaping off with a flying clothesline that drove Hart away from the vulnerable Pillman.
Ross: What action! Only in WCW, folks!
As Austin and Jericho traded blows, Michaels turned to Pillman. Blocking his way back into the ring, Michaels held up a hand and rubbed his thumb and forefingers together. Smiling, Pillman nodded agreement to the unspoken request, and Michaels stood aside to let him back in the ring.
Dangerously: Beautiful! Michaels understands!
Michaels ran across the ring to throw himself at Steamboat, but the Dragon had recovered enough to avoid the attack, and Michaels found himself trapped in the corner with Steamboat firing in punches and chops with his good arm that had Michaels rocking and sagging on the ropes before Steamboat backed up and charged in with a dropkick that nearly sent Michaels up and over the top rope. Before Steamboat could capitalise, though, Austin levelled him with a clothesline as Pillman, Hart and Jericho slugged it out in another corner, none of the three Dungeon graduates able to force the advantage when each had two opponents splitting their focus.
Austin, with some help from the hurting Michaels, got Steamboat up off the mat and draped him on the top rope. As Michaels held his legs, Austin ran the ropes and leapfrogged Michaels, crashing down with all of his weight on Steamboat’s back, choking him on the top rope. As Steamboat writhed and thrashed in pain, he could offer no defence as Michaels and Austin threw him over the top rope (5).
Dangerously: What a beautiful relationshi-
As Austin exulted, Michaels superkicked him on the jaw with a crack audible around the arena. Austin collapsed against the ropes as Pillman broke free of the two Canadians, but Michaels stopped him with an expressive shrug, pulling Pillman up short as Michaels hauled Austin upright and shoved him, unresisting, over the top to ringside (4).
Ross: We’re down to four!
Dangerously: Remind me never to trust the Rough Diamond, Ross. The man’s a filthy rattlesnake!
Ross: I guess in a battle royal it’s best if you don’t trust anyone, Paul.
Michaels took the opportunity to catch his breath in the corner as Pillman tangled with Jericho across the ring. Hart hung back, having managed to avoid serious entanglement thus far in the match. He looked to be the freshest of the four competitors, with Jericho clearly struggling more than anyone. Michaels slowly stepped forward to engage with Hart, but he glanced down for a second as Austin reached under the bottom rope to grab his foot. As Michaels tried to shake Austin off, Hart caught him from behind with a knee to the kidneys, leaving Michaels bent over in pain. Austin snatched up a chair from, turfing an official onto the arena floor, before swinging it through the ropes and into the side of Michaels’ head. Michaels collapsed to the mat as Hart stared at Austin in surprise.
Dangerously: That, uh, may not be best for business Steve...
Austin stalked off, cursing loudly enough to be picked up on the ringside microphones as Ross hurriedly apologised for the Superstar’s language. As he marched up the ramp, Michaels was sent tumbling over the top rope by Hart, the Rough Diamond crashing hard to the ground (3).
Ross: Your hopes of a Dangerous Alliance win look a lot slimmer, Paul.
Dangerously: I still have faith in Brian Pillman, Ross. I have a feeling tonight could be the making of him.
Pillman launched himself at Hart, trying to ambush him before Hart could put any space between himself and the ropes. The Hitman, never unprepared, met him with a belly to belly suplex that nearly sent Pillman over the ropes, but for the Dangerous Alliance man snagging the top strand at the last second. Pillman teetered on the ring apron and might have been easy prey for Hart, but Jericho caught Hart from behind with a dropkick, sending the Hitman tumbling into the corner.
Ross: Was that inexperience on Jericho’s part? The kid’s got no manager out here tonight to guide him – he could have let Hart take out Pillman, and then tried to take Hart out!
Dangerously: Or maybe he knows a good deal when he sees it, Ross!
Jericho went after Pillman, trying to capitalise on his position on the apron. Pillman was ready, though, having recovered in the seconds Jericho had earned him. Grabbing the young Canadian by the back of the head, Pillman dropped him throat-first across the top rope. As Jericho rebounded Hart was right on hand to send him sailing over the top rope and out of the match (2).
Dangerously: What did I tell you, Ross?
As Hart turned back to Pillman, he found him poised on the top rope for a split second. Hart stepped back in surprise but Pillman was already in motion, springing into the air and soaring across the ring to crash into Hart.
Ross: Air Pillman!
Dangerously: We’ve been working on that – note how he had his arm folded in, Ross. More impact from more speed due to the narrower profile, and that means...
Hart tried to stand, but his legs buckled under him as he tried to put weight on them.
Dangerously: ...Hart’s equilibrium is all kinds of messed up right now! We call it the System Crash, and it’s an invaluable addition to Brian’s arsenal.
Pillman sized up the Hitman carefully, cackling as he framed him for a second like a movie director between his hands, then bouncing off the ropes to deliver a Shining Wizard that put Hart down for the count. Pillman posed for the cameras as the fans in attendance booed his arrogance, but Hart wasn’t moving at all as Pillman dragged him off the mat and towards the ropes.
Dangerously: In the end, Ross, there was nothing to worry about-
As Pillman tried to dump Hart over the top rope, Hart seemed to spring to life, grapevining Pillman’s arm and hanging precariously above the arena floor. The Hitman held on grimly with three limbs as Pillman bellowed in pain, Hart’s whole weight hanging on one arm, leveraged over the top rope. Hart tried to swing on the arm, reaching with his free hand for the edge of the entrance ramp – safe haven in BattleBowl as it stood above the arena floor.
Ross: I was sure Hart was down! All credit to this young man’s resilience!
Dangerously: It’s one reason we wanted him in the Alliance, Ross, but any sensible man ought to know why he’s beaten. Clearly we’re better off without him! Just drop!
Pillman, unable to shake Hart off, eventually seemed to decide that regrouping was worth sacrificing his victory, and with a heave he swung Hart towards the ramp. Hart pulled himself onto the sanctuary, but even here he wasn’t safe as he struggled to get his feet under him. Pushing himself unsteadily upright he turned to the ring, and Pillman sprinting towards him. With a huge leap Pillman sprang up to the top rope once more...
...and seemed to stand there for an age as flashbulbs popped all through the arena...
...before springing off and crashing down on Hart.
Dangerously: System Crash!
Hart toppled backwards, landing in a heap on the ramp as Pillman stood over him, sketching a bow in each direction before turning once again to Hart.
Ross: He hasn’t learned his lesson.
Dangerously: Yes he has. There was more impact that time, I could tell!
With the toe of his boot, Pillman shoved Hart off the ramp and finally to the arena floor (1), and as the bell rang he soaked in the boos of the crowd – albeit boos intermingled with a few cheers, some fans apparently appreciative of his athleticism and endurance.
Dangerously: Well, Ross? Whaddya got for me? Let me hear it, I want you to say it.
Ross: Well, Paul... I suppose... you were right.
Dangerously: There’s no suppose about it! The Dangerous Alliance won this match, exactly like I said that they would! And I don’t want to hear anything out of you about how Brian Pillman and Rick Rude will coexist between now and SuperBrawl III, because I should hope by now that we’ve proved that the Dangerous Alliance is a single, cohesive unit!
Pillman stood alone on the entrance ramp, until Owen Hart and Steve Austin came from backstage to join him. Even though Austin clearly was annoyed at not being the one with his hand raised, he congratulated Pillman and then he and Owen lifted their ally onto their shoulders.
Dangerously: And that man there is our rising star!
Ross: Which one?
Dangerously: All of them.
Winner: Brian Pillman (B+)
Ross: We’re going to take you backstage for a scene captured moment ago.
The camera cut to the parking lot, where a Harley Davidson rolled down the ramp and came to a stop. Sting climbed off, removing his helmet and jacket, his facepaint already applied.
Martin: Sting, can you-
Sting held up a hand.
Sting: The time for words is done. You can ask me whatever you want in an hour, but now... it’s showtime.
Sting charged to the ring, almost a year of pent-up frustration set for release as he tied up ith Rick Rude in a match all but guaranteed to deliver a winner.
Ross: No interference allowed on either side, this one will run for at least 60 minutes, and overtime if needs be – we must have a winner!
Dangerously: That’s right, Ross. And when Rude comes out of this, arm raised, and a clear margin of victory... well, I’ll expect to hear you admit that I was right, that the Dangerous Alliance was right – again!
Rick Rude entered second, the WCW World title secure around his waist. Handing the title to the referee, he allowed Madusa to untie his robe and reveal his impeccable physique.
Dangerously: Make no mistakes, Rick Rude is built as much for go as for show – even more so tonight. We’re not going into this blind, Ross. We know how good Sting is. He’s been Rude’s toughest opponent, and we’re not pretending otherwise. This challenge isn’t one we take lightly. Rick Rude is ready for 60 minutes of the toughest fight he’s ever had, but he’s ready to win – and put Sting behind him!
Ross: We all heard Sting just moments ago. He seems ready – and perhaps there was even a hint of veteran guile from this young man. He’s spent the last year watching the Alliance run roughshod over WCW. He was a Horseman. He’s faced and beaten Ric Flair, perhaps has the best record of anyone against the Nature Boy. This is no fool standing across the ring from the World champion.
As the bell rang, champion and challenger stared one another down. With 60 minutes in the ring together, neither man was willing to engage quickly and risk an early mistake that would hand momentum to their opponent. Rude contented himself with a double biceps curl that drew boos and some catcalls from the crowd. Sting responded with a pose of his own, bending forward slightly to show off his arms, chest and shoulders to best effect. Seemingly anticipating this, Rude kicked out at Sting, but seemingly anticipating that, Sting caught his foot in his hands, and a whip-quick dragon whip sent Rude tumbling into one corner of the ring. As he tried to regain his bearings, Sting flew in on him with a Stinger Splash that would have got the first pin of the match in the opening minute, had Rude not been able to get one foot under the ropes.
Ross: So close!
Dangerously: Close doesn’t count!
Rude bailed out of the ring to gather his wits, but Sting wasted no time in following him out. The two traded blows outside the ring with Rude coming out the worst, but he did manage to reverse an Irish whip sending Sting towards the ring steps. Sting had to vault over the steels steps rather than crash into them, and Rude used the opportunity to slide into the ring to catch his breath.
Rude met Sting’s return to the ring with a dropkick and mounted his challenger with a flurry of punches that had Sting covering up until the referee forced the break. Rude barked at the official, but couldn’t make him back down as he pointed out who was in charge of the match – and if Rude wasn’t careful, he’d be disqualified!
As the fans jeered Rude, he responded by kicking Sting in the ribs, following up with a bearhug to try and sap Sting’s energy.
But Sting wasn’t worn down enough to stay trapped for long, and even with Rude’s strength Sting managed to break free by delivering a series of clubbing blows to Rude’s ears, clapping his arms together on the sides of Rude’s ears to break the hold, before decking Rude with a clothesline.
Rude tried to get back to his feet, but Sting was there immediately to fell him with another clothesline, before following up with an atomic drop that sent Rude stumbling across the ring. As Rude clung to the top rope for support, Sting charged across the ring and delivered a clothesline that took both men over and out to the entrance ramp.
Ross: What a move! Straight out of Cactus Jack’s playbook!
With both men down, the referee looked somewhat torn as to how to handle the situation. He seemed ready to start a countout that might potentially see both men score a fall...
...but then Jesse Ventura appeared at the top of the ramp.
Ventura: Let me make this clear, Nick Patrick. No double countouts, no double disqualifications. Let them fight, but make your decisions count!
Ross: Great call by the Commissioner! We don’t need to pad the scores here.
Dangerously: And it means that Rude gets a chance to rest here, which is fine by me!
Both men found their way upright, and Sting charged at Rude, but Rude got down to backdrop Sting over the top rope and back into the ring, to groans from the crowd. Rude, uncharacteristically, went to the corner of the ring and climbed up to the top rope. As Sting climbed upright, Rude came down with a double axehandle to the top of his head. Before Sting could go all the way down to the mat, Rude grabbed him and turned him around and into a Rude Awakening, Making the cover, Rude scored the first fall of the match.
Sting 0 – 1 Rick Rude
Dangerously: The Rude Awakening, Ross. Name a more lethal move – if you can!
Ross: The Scorpion Deathlock?
Dangerously: Rude would break it.
After a short rest period Sting was cautious in coming out of his corner. As Rude smiled, his challenger extended a hand for a test of strength, arm outstretched at full length to stop Rude from taking advantage.
Dangerously: And you see Sting has had his confidence shaken. One win – that wasn’t a real pin – last month and he thought he was in Rude’s head, but Rick Rude scored the first pin, he’ll score the next one, he’ll score every one!
Both men vied for leverage, each seeking to find some advantage over the other, but unable to do so as they found their equal.
Ross: We’ve said it before – these two men are just as strong as each other.
Dangerously: For now. Once Rick’s pummelled Sting for another ten or fifteen minutes, let’s see where we are!
Rude tried to go low with a kick, but Sting was able to dart back, pulling Rude off balance. Sting pulled him in close with a snap suplex, before hoisting Rude up with a military press. Sting held Rude overhead for a long, long time as the World champion was made to wait for the impact, and Sting even howled for the crowd before hurling Rude across the ring. Rude lay sprawled in a corner as the crowd howled back, and the champions scrambled for the ropes as Sting closed in. The referee tried to back the challenger off, but Sting closed in regardless, and as the official argued with him, Rude reached over the referee’s shoulder to gouge Sting in the eye. As Sting reeled, Rude went low with a chop block to Sting’s knee, dropping him to the mat like a rock.
Ross: Sting’s injured knee! Three years ago he ruptured the tendons in his knee, and no matter how well it was repaired-
Dangerously: -it’s a weak point, Ross. We know these things!
Sting stumbled across the ring, his knee obviously weakened by the blow. Before he could recover, Rude rolled him up – and the referee missed the handful of tights as the World champion held Sting down for three!
Sting 0 – 2 Rick Rude
Ross: What do you call that, Paul?
Sting practically bounced upright, adrenaline firing him at Rude who fell back under the fury of his challenger’s onslaught. The referee tried to separate the pair to enforce the rest period, but after a few futile seconds he gestured for the pair to continue – as though he could have separated them!
Rude began to make some headway after a desperate headbutt – no pun intended – staggered Sting. Seeing a splash of red mingled with his opponent’s facepaint, Rude followed in with closed fists and elbows, but Sting rallied with a big dropkick that sent Rude tumbling through the ropes. Sting followed him to the outside and whipped Rude into the ringpost, sending him careening into the guardrail. Before Rude could react-
Ross: Stinger Splash!
-he was bent backwards over the railing as Sting launched himself through the air, both men crashing into the front row of the crowd.
Ross: No countouts here, not with both men on the outside. The referee has been told to let them fight!
Dangerously: And quite right too!
Dangerously: Yes, Ross. We want this to be definitive. I know you don’t believe me, but let Rude destroy Sting, and then there’s no question who’s superior!
Rude clawed his way across the floor, putting distance between himself and Sting. As Sting grabbed his leg and tried to pull him back, Rude turned over and kicked Sting in the chest, pushing him back. Rude got to his feet – and snatched up a chair, which he swung for a home run hit that would have made Terry Pendleton proud. Sting was set crashing over the guardrail as the referee called for the bell, disqualifying Rude.
Sting 1 – 2 Rick Rude
Rude looked raring and ready to go – unsurprising, as he’d gained a clear advantage with the chairshot. But this time the referee insisted on the rest period, and when Rude tried to argue, the official shot back, making it clear that the time not taken after the second fall would be used now, so Sting had a chance to recover.
Dangerously: What bull---- is this?
Ross: Uh, steady Paul! The referee’s allowed to use his discretion, after all. Folks, Paul’s just exercising his right to freedom of speech, but for anyone offended, well, we apologise on behalf of WCW.
Dangerously: If this costs my client, WCW will be hearing from the offices of Richard Heyman, straight outta the Bronx!
When Sting was able to make it back into the ring Rude went for an immediate cover to try and win a third fall, but Sting kicked out. Scowling, Rude remained on the offensive as he tried to put Sting down, but the challenger was in no mood to stay down. Time and again, the challenger got his shoulder up on two – and even one, which only seemed to enrage Rude still further.
Dangerously: He’s stupider than I thought, Ross. Rude’s got this, it’s just a matter of when. Sting should take the beating and just give up – once Rude restores that two point lead, he’s not going to let it go!
Had Sting heard Dangerously’s words, it’s doubtful he would have followed the advice given, for the challenger seemed to be growing stronger in spite of the punishment Rude was dealing.
Ross: As we near the halfway mark... Dare I say it? It seems almost like Sting’s playing rope-a-dope with the champion!
After yet another kickout Rude threw his hands up in frustration, looking to his corner – but Madusa wasn’t there, and the champion’s irritation seemed to grow deeper as he realised he was in there on his own. Rude went for a gutwrench suplex but Sting powered out, slapping Rude across the face. Rude fired back with a series of right hands and a thrust to the throat that left Sting reeling. The official warned Rude, but the champion ignored him and whipped Sting into the corner, following in with a Stinger Splash of his own!
Dangerously: Improvisation! I love it!
Rude clutched at his stomach as Sting stumbled out of the corner, apparently not used to the impact of the move, but he was able to grab Sting and deliver another Rude Awakening, covering to restore a two point lead.
Sting 1 – 3 Rick Rude
Dangerously: Lethal, Ross. Now see the champion shatter Sting’s hopes and dreams!
But rather than press the advantage, Rude bailed out of the ring and apparently sought to clear his head. As Sting recuperated on the inside of the ring, Rude stared daggers at him from the outside.
Ross: Rude just went up by two – but he doesn’t look happy!
Getting back in the ring, Rude went after Sting with unbridled aggression. Bombarding the challenger with slams and clotheslines, Rude retaliated against Sting’s earlier control of the match by delivering a military press of his own. But in his case, he was unable to hold Sting aloft as the challenger broke free and dropped behind Rude, delivering a German suplex that earned a close fall.
Ross: Seems like Sting’s got into the champ’s head, Paul.
Dangerously: Shut up, Ross. Rude’s got two falls, and twenty-five minutes to go. This is in hand. I’ll give credit to Sting, he’s making Rude work for it, but there’s no glory in beating some schlub; Not much money in it, either.
Ross: Sting’s certainly not that – he’s an incredible athlete to have come through not just the punishment he’s taken tonight, but everything else your clients and your mercenaries have inflicted on him!
For several more minutes Sting and Rude traded moves and holds, neither man able to establish a clear advantage. Still, it was Rude who once again seemed to show his frustration, nearly falling victim to a Stinger Splash and, even though he made it out of the corner, Sting landed on the second rope. Leaping off with a crossbody, Sting scored another close fall, prompting Rude to bail out of the ring once again.
Ross: I think your man needs some advice, Paul. What about it?
Dangerously: The champ has this, Ross!
Ross: I’m sure you thought he would by now, after the beating your thugs put on Sting last Saturday night. Maybe you underestimated him!
Dangerously: Oh, shut up!
Re-entering the ring, Rude ducked under a clothesline and went for a Rude Awakening. Sting, however, caught Rude’s arms and stopped him from locking in the hold.
Ross: Sting had him scouted! He’s taken two Rude Awakenings tonight, and knows exactly what Rude was going to do!
Dangerously: Oh, this is...
Exasperated, Rude shoved Sting away and again glanced to the outside. Sting’s focus remained laserlike as he stared at the champion before lunging forward – right into a big right hand from Rude!
Dangerously: Yes! Sucker!
Rude punched away at Sting’s face, widening the wound on his forehead and spilling blood over what remained of his facepaint after nearly forty minutes of gruelling combat. At one point Rude even grabbed Sting’s hair and yanked his head back, digging his nails into Sting’s forehead like he was trying to tear it open. The crowd jeered the unsporting behaviour, but Rude was way past caring. Shoving Sting to the mat he wiped his bloodstained hands across his tights before clasping them behind his head and swivelling his hips as he stood over the grounded challenger.
Ross: Oh, this is just- Wait!
Before Rude could react, Sting sprang up off the mat and cradled him tightly, holding his shoulders down for the three even as Rude tried frantically to escape.
Sting 2 – 3 Rick Rude
This time it was Sting who quickly bailed out of the ring, taking full advantage of the rest period between falls to grab a bottle of water and rinse the blood from his face. Sagging against the railings he managed a weary smile as the Stingers in the crowd cheered for him – all while Rude sat in the centre of the ring, staring at the referee in disbelief.
Ross: There’s no question! Rick Rude had been pinned once in over a year in WCW – and as my broadcast colleague would no doubt tell you if he ever manages to take a breath again, that was heavily disputed by the Dangerous Alliance! But there’s no doubt here, Rude was pinned in the centre of the ring, and with more than fifteen minutes on the clock his lead is down to one!
Sting was a man re-energised by scoring the fall, clambering to the top rope as Rude continued to argue with the official. He caught sight of Sting’s leap, but it was too late to do more than get his arms up to try and bear some of the challenger’s weight as he levelled the champion with a flying crossbody that gained a very close two count. Unable to react, Rude had to endure Sting sending him careening from pillar to post, delivering suplexes and clotheslines, Rude only managing to evade a crossbody off the ropes by dropping to the mat and rolling out of the ring onto the ramp.
Dangerously: That’s smart, there’s no countouts, he can clear his head...
Ross: No double countouts, Paul. Sting could level the match here if Rude doesn’t get back in before a count of ten.
Sting was clearly not in any mood for that, though. As Rude yelled at the vocal Omni crowd, Sting once again climbed to the top rope. Rude turned back to the ring, only to be met by a diving clothesline that splattered him on the ramp. Sting rolled upright, howling for the crowd before hauling Rude up and pitching him over the top rope and back into the ring.
Dangerously: It’s fine, it’s fine. We’re still in charge – Sting needs two for the title, and he’s barely got ten minutes left. Ross, no plan of battle survives first contact with the enemy. The champ got an early lead, that’s what we planned for, and that’s what’s going to win this for us.
Ross: Whatever you say, Paul.
Back in the ring, Rude slowed his opponent with a boot to the gut and tried once more for a Rude Awakening. However, before he could even turn Sting around Sting launched himself at Rude with a headbutt, driving Rude back into the ropes. As Rude rebounded Sting hit a spinning powerslam followed by an elbow drop.
Cappetta: Ladies and gentlemen, there are ten minutes remaining! Ten minutes!
Sting went to the second rope for another elbow drop, but Rude was able to roll out of the way. Getting to his feet, he met the rising Sting with a boot to the face and a quick cover of his own for two. Staying on Sting he tried to grind his bloodied face into the mat, but Sting somehow rolled him over into an armbar, cranking back on Rude’s shoulder, and even using the ropes for added leverage – which drew a count from the referee and anguished howls from Dangerously on commentary, but most tellingly saw Rude nursing his shoulder as he stood up. Sting was slower to his feet, the effects of blood loss and nearly an hour of battle clearly wearing on him, and Rude lunged forward to grab him by the head and wrench him around with a Rude Awakening!
Dangerously: Yes! Mark the scorecard Ross!
The referee’s hand had hit the mat twice and was on its way down for a third time when he stopped and broke off the count: Sting’s shoulder was up!
Dangerously: No! Impossible! No-one can escape the Rude Awakening!
Ross: With a bad shoulder, with nearly an hour on the clock, perhaps he didn’t get all of it, Paul.
Dangerously: You’re... you’re right, Ross... What do we have left, a little over eight minutes? It’s okay, it’s fine, we can still do this, just don’t make any mistakes, the champ’s still in the lead...
Rude looked exhausted and, once more, disbelieving as he gestured for a three count to the referee. The official shook his head, signalling two. With a shake of his head, Rude turned back to Sting, struggling to rise from the mat. Rude rotated his shoulder a couple of times before grabbing Sting by the head, seemingly preparing another Rude Awakening, but Sting rose quickly and batted Rude’s hands away before kicking him in the gut. As Rude doubled over, Sting grabbed his head and spun him around.
Ross: Rude Awakening! Sting scores with a Rude Awakening of his own!
As the crowd roared, Sting fell on top of Rude, the referee counting to three to level the match.
Sting 3 – 3 Rick Rude
Ross: I said earlier that Sting knew the Rude Awakening inside and out – and it’s paid dividends tonight! With just over seven minutes remaining, the scores are tied. We will have a winner tonight, but now Rick Rude’s advantage has been overcome by the challenger!
Rude’s face as he rose from the mat spoke of utter frustration, his lead vanished. Sting backed into the corner during the rest period, watching his opponent intently as Rude went to the opposite corner, bowing his forehead to the top turnbuckle.
Ross: And it seems like the champion is feeling the strain.
Dangerously: Give him the rest period, Ross! An hour is a tough ask for anyone!
Ross: Sting’s had the same demands on him, Paul.
Dangerously: Did you hear me mention Sting? Did I say a single word about your beloved Stinger? No. So clam up, Ross – I don’t want to hear a single word against Rude. He can still win, or take it to overtime. Then it’s sudden death, and Rude hasn’t been behind in this match!
Ross: I’ll say this for both men. After almost an hour tonight, after two years of pursuit for Sting, after almost a year of being the hunted champion for Rick Rude, it’s no wonder that the strain is showing. It’s a true testament to both men that they’re still standing, still fighting, and neither man has collapsed under the pressure!
With only a short time remaining and almost an hour behind them, neither man was fast out of the blocks as the referee called them back from their corners. The strain of the contest showed as weary muscles responded slowly when called on. Seemingly shorn of more technical ideas, Rude threw fists at Sting as fast as he could. Sting, for his part, managed to block some but not all of the strikes, and was forced backwards as the heavy punches struck home.
Cappetta: Ladies and gentlemen, there are five minutes remaining! Five minutes!
Dangerously: One punch could be a knockout! If that’s what it takes, just punch his lights out!
Sting dropped to one knee, but blocked the next punch and drilled Rude in the stomach with a punch of his own. Even with Rude’s washboard abdomen he sagged under the blow, and Sting quickly tried to cradle him for the lead. Rude rolled through and pinned Sting’s shoulders to the mat, but Sting managed to get an arm free to grab the ropes even as the referee’s hand hit the mat for the third time. Rude released the cradle and clearly felt he’d restored his lead – but one look at the referee’s shaking head alerted him to the reality.
Dangerously: But that’s fine! Sting couldn’t kick out! Get him again!
With a resigned shake of his own head, Rude pulled himself up on the ropes, kicking out at Sting. Sting caught his boot and tried to pull Rude off the ropes, but the champion hung on grimly, unwilling to surrender the safety of his position. Sting released Rude’s boot, his own frustration showing as the seconds continued to tick away. The referee stepped between the two to try and back Sting off as the fans booed Rude’s defensive approach.
Ross: The fans want Sting to win this – no disguising that!
Dangerously: You can’t always get what you want, Ross – unless you’re in the Dangerous Alliance!
As Sting argued with the referee Rude lunged at him, blindsiding him and trying to roll him up with a schoolboy pin. Sting got his shoulder up, but Rude kept hold of him, shifting his weight to once more put Sting’s shoulders down – and again Sting fought to only take a two count.
Ross: They all count, even if Rude would want a more emphatic end to the match.
After a third two count, Rude changed tack and tried to cradle Sting once more, but Sting rolled through – and suddenly Sting was on his feet, Rude’s legs clasped in his hands as he turned the champion onto his chest. Crossing Rude’s legs, Sting sat back and howled in unison with the crowd.
Ross: Scorpion Deathlock! For the first time tonight, Sting goes to his signature submission!
Dangerously: He’s never made Rude submit, not once!
Ross: But if he gets it now...
Sting leaned back still further, almost lying on Rude as he torqued back on Rude’s legs, putting everything he had into the hold...
...and Rude, nearly bent double and clearly in agony, submitted!
Sting 4 – 3 Rick Rude
Dangerously: No! Get up! There’s still time! Take it to overtime! Get up!
Rude lay on the mat, legs twisted, seemingly unable to move as Sting climbed the turnbuckles in one corner, saluting the crowd.
Ross: Sting thinks he has it! By the time the rest period ends, there’ll barely be a minute left!
Rude tried to stand as the referee called for him to be ready for the last moments of the match, but his legs simply wouldn’t take his weight, crumpling under him as Sting watched on from the corner.
Ross: If Rude can’t even stand...
Cappetta: Ladies and gentlemen, there is one minute remaining! One minute!
Sting walked forward, standing over Rude as the champion tried one last time to stand. Grasping Sting’s tights, Rude tried to pull himself up – or pull Sting down. But Sting stood tall, piefacing Rude and shoving him to the mat, Rude falling without resistance as Sting raised his arms wearily overhead...
...and the bell rang, marking the end of the hour – and of the World title reign of Rick Rude!
Ross: Sting has done it! Sting is the champion! Nearly two years in the hunt, and Sting is atop the mountain again!
The locker room emptied as Sting was presented with the title belt. Clutching it with both hands, he stared at it fixedly, seemingly unaware of everything around him until Rhodes and Windham lifted him up into the air, putting him on their shoulders as he looked around, seeing his friends and allies, holding the title aloft in salute to the roaring crowd...
...and catching sight of Brian Pillman, standing at the top of the ramp, watching in silence.
Ross: And as soon as Sting’s reign begins, challengers are stepping up to the plate. We know that Brian Pillman awaits at SuperBrawl, I’m sure that Rick Rude will want another chance at the gold, and what about the Ultimate Warrior, or Randy Savage? Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for sharing your Christmas night with us, and congratulations once more to Sting, who fought as hard as anyone ever has to claim the greatest prize our sport has to offer – the WCW World title!