Mr. December 70th is back!
I hope my fellow creatures out there had a merry Christmas.
Xanta Klaus brought me everything on my list: Best in the World CM Punk shirt, Stars of RoH DVD, pack of black socks and Ring of Hell: The Chris Benoit Story, which I'll review once I finish the book and its Dave Meltzer approved pause for laughter.
Not everyone had a merry Christmas, though. Vince Russo's kids had to fight each other off to see who could climb the tree first and retrieve their presents.
Cheap joke aside, we're now entering Russo Time!
What's Russo Time, you may ask?
Russo has a deep and sick love affair with gimmick matches and giving regular matches gimmick names, like the Thanksgiving Thursday (even though TNA tapes on Tuesday) Thong Thunder Knockouts match.
Which brings us to the one of the worst gimmick matches in the history of pro wrestling: the dreaded item on a pole match, also known as the Russo Special.
Special thanks to R.D. Reynolds and the great guys at Wrestlecrap; their books are great reference material.
Pre-Russo or B.R. (before Russo)
The American Wrestling Alliance had been around since the 1960s and ran most of its shows in the Midwest and Northwest with its home base in Minneapolis. Ran by Verne Gagne and focusing on pure wrestling instead of cartoony gimmicks, the AWA was on its deathbed during the WWF's Rock 'n' Wrestle boom of the late '80s.
Along comes a young Eric Bischoff, a junior announcer full of ideas of dreams that'll breath life into this dying promotion.
The Team Challenge Series was the last-ditch attempt to save the AWA. Bischoff denies having anything to do with the TCS, but I doubt old-school grappler Verne Gagne came up with "the behind the 8-ball battle royal."
One challenge was called "The Great American Turkey Hunt," where two men fought in an empty salmon-colored warehouse over a turkey on a pole.
Sadly, fighting over raw poultry didn't give the promotion the shot in the arm it needed and the AWA folded.
Bischoff would go on to lead WCW...right into the toilet.
During the Dusty days of WCW, the American Dream came up with some ground-breaking match ideas, like Wargames and the Scaffold match. He also came up with crap, like the Chamber of Horrors match and the stinker featured in this slide.
Jake Roberts was coming off a WWF run and Sting was the hottest babyface this side of Hulk Hogan; pitting these two against each other was money in the bank, or so WCW thought.
To help hype up their Spin the Wheel, Make the Deal encounter at Halloween Havoc '92, WCW filmed a mini-movie that featured: Sting confronting Roberts in a seedy bar, complete thugs, loose women and an eye patch-wearing midget named Cheatum.
The climax of this shoot was a staredown between both men that ended in lasers coming out of their eyes and everything exploding. Don't laugh, I'm being serious.
The night of Havoc hits and Sting spins the giant gimmick-filled wheel and instead of something good like a cage or death match, we're stuck with a coal miner's glove match—two men fighting over a what looked like an oven mitten.
Sting won this lackluster match and Roberts left WCW to go back to drinking.
Cheatum stayed, so all was not lost.
I'm not going to talk about the Bossman/Nailz match, because...
IT'S RUSSO TIME!
Russo Time couldn't of happened anymore than Chris Jericho's WWF debut match, which was in his hometown of Winnipeg.
As detailed in his second book, The Rock was set to take on the Big Bossman in a nightstick on a pole match, but the Rock couldn't make the show, so they stuck Jericho in the match.
The bell rung and the match went downhill from there. Jericho hit Bossman with a shoulder tackle and the bump caused the nightstick to drop to the mat. Comedy ensued as they scrambled around the ring to pick up the nightstick.
You could of heard the Rock laughing all the way from Florida.
Sex sells and no one tries to sell it more than Vince Russo.
These matches are just pure T and A, which isn't a bad thing, but sex only sells so much and so often.
A black eye to female wrestling and a quick ratings boost to Russo.
Just imagine if he was booking for SHIMMER.
Russo doesn't like luchadores and it couldn't have been made clearer than in this bomb of a match.
Sticking these luchadores in a battle royal would of been a better choice and use of their talents and like the nightstick match that would come years later, the pinata fell shortly after the match started.
The highlight, or lowlight, of the match was the debut of "Dr. Death" Steve Williams and his sidekick, O.K.
O.K. was actually WCW writer and Russo's partner in crime, Ed Ferrara, a fat and talentless man, mocking his former WWF boss, Jim Ross.
This would be the first time mainstream wrestling fans had seen Williams since being KO'd by Bart Gunn in WWF's Brawl for All, a legit fighting tournament that went over like a lead balloon with the fans.
I guess Dr. Death thought he was still in the tourney when he made his WCW debut, because he ended up putting El Dandy, Juventud Guerrera and Psicosis in the hospital.
You could view the match here.
Russo was high on Buff Bagwell; I guess Russo had never seen any of the Buff Daddy's work.
Just take your pick on what's wrong with this match:
1. Buff Bagwell
2. [insert item] on a pole match
3. David Arquette run-in
4. The entire damn thing
Russo is best known for writing reality TV-style trash, and the Viagra on a pole match is one of his greatest misses.
Billy Kidman, a talented cruiserweight and one of WCW's best workers, and Shane Douglas, the Franchise of ECW, were reduced to this big pile of Wrestlecrap.
The storyline was that Douglas stole Kidman's girlfriend, Torrie Wilson, and a hidden camera revealed that Douglas couldn't perform in the bedroom with Wilson.
The asinine booking keeps on going...
The WWF got Ken Shamrock and NWA champion Dan Severn; WCW got Tank Abbott. Who do you think got the better deal?
Tank Abbott is a fat, ballroom brawler who got his ass handed to him in the Octagon.
Russo thought it would be a good idea to sign this stiff and put the WCW title on him, an idea that got him sent home.
Some of you may know Big Al as ECW's 911—word is that Al is coaching high school football now.
This match, if you could call it that, was worse than Hogan/Warrior II and had all the appeal of a massive car wreck.
Skip to the end of the match to see Tank hold a knife against Al's neck and tell him "I could f------ kill you." Quick thinking by Tony Schiavone, who explained that Tank was trying to shave Al's beard; Al didn't have a beard.
Jeff Jarrett, the chosen one of paper champions, and Booker T squared off in a match that could only be thought up by one man: Vince Russo.
Russo Time was in overdrive during this match, but what the hell is a San Francisco 49ers match?
Four poles with a box hanging from each, one box contained the world title and the others were filled with joke items like a framed photo of Scott Hall, a blowup doll and a coal miner's glove.
The finish featured a run-in from Howard Stern regular, Beetlejuice, who gave Jarrett a lowblow as Booker opened the box with the title.
The belt fell out of the box before Booker could grab it and it hit the floor. Thankfully, announcer Dave Penzer was there to pick it up and hand it to Booker.
Russo would go on to book more gimmick matches as WCW was dying and then moved on to TNA, where he booked even more bad gimmick matches than ever before.
Thanks for the read and chime in with your favorite item on a pole match.