By Nicholas Jason Lopez
WCW World Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan’s huge signing to World Championship Wrestling in June earlier in the year was a sign that perhaps things would change.
To an extent, that was correct.
Hogan’s arrival brought more money and sponsorships to WCW and his creative pull allowed him to bring in various faces of his past and recreate some magic.
Still, for every feud he had with Ric Flair, there was a Butcher match in the wings. If you told us that he’d be the main event of the biggest show of the year instead of doing the “Loser Must Retire” match there, we would’ve laughed too.
Star power doesn’t always provide a star product. That’s evident up and down through this card, though the quick wits of Bobby “The Brain” Heenan on commentary make it easier to sit through.
WCW tried to pass off “What’s Old Is New Again,” but alas, we just feel like it was done better somewhere else before.
By Nicholas Jason Lopez
“Unsanctioned, Unauthorized, Unbelievable.”
If a tagline ever fit a World Championship Wrestling show, this was it.
Uncensored – WCW’s attempt to bend the rules and present an “extreme” Pay-Per-View with only gimmicked matches, was an experiment in the beginning.
Headlined by a Leather Strap Match between WCW World Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan and WCW United States Heavyweight Champion Vader in the midst of a hot feud between Hogan and “A Man Possessed,” Ric Flair, it was enough to salvage for the rest of the malarky.
What malarky? Put in a “Boxer Vs. Wrestler” Match, a “King Of The Road” Match and a “Martial Arts” Match.
Oh and because of recent creative changes, no blood was allowed at all.
By Nicholas Jason Lopez
“Notes In Observance” features random thoughts and analysis on recent television shows. Quick results can be found at the bottom of the post.
Desperate Times, Desperate Measures
– Headed out of WWE SummerSlam on the SmackDown Live side was the news that AJ Styles cleanly pinned 15-time World Champion John Cena in the ring and despite a close effort (in a dud match), Dolph Ziggler didn’t fulfill his opportunity against WWE World Heavyweight Champion Dean Ambrose and fell short yet again. It was a smart idea to have the gloating Styles and upset Ziggler collide in the locker room based off SummerSlam alone. The only thing that confused us was a random locker room as Baron Corbin talked to Erick Rowan (with the sheep mask on) and Apollo Crews spoke with Rhyno. Like, what? Anyways, Styles had Ziggler snapping at him coming since he called the guy a loser to his face. Styles has comfortably settled into the “pest heel” role and it doesn’t hurt to have a solid character behind the guy who can go in the ring.
The Daily Show With Seth Rollins
– Booker T, why would Roman Reigns have to pay a ticket to see a show he is currently on? Head-scratcher. The opening segment with Reigns and Seth Rollins shoved the Jon Stewart-Rollins celebrity rivalry to the forefront. The crowd wasn’t receptive for Roman, but being it was Jersey, you can’t be shocked. An audible CM Punk chant broke out during the segment, which also couldn’t have been good. For what it’s worth, the crowd did positively react to Reigns punching Rollins and spearing J & J Security. Making Reigns look tough and ruthless is the only way to go and the “One vs All” dynamic is a good way to describe his WrestleMania push, quite frankly.
– The backstage segment with Rollins, J & J Security and Randy Orton was interesting in Orton trying to “help” Rollins and sort of gave a glimpse into what could happen in the future (obvious official turn on Authority) but we’re not there yet. This needs to happen sooner than later. Even when Orton turns, we’ll be right back to where we were after FastLane.
– The Dean Ambrose-Bad News Barrett match had R-Truth on commentary yet again, which wasn’t bad. When allowed to utter more than “What’s Up?” he is entertaining enough to root for. The match was okay, but continued the godawful trend of Barrett having his Title stolen by Truth again and losing yet another match. The random appearance of Luke Harper walking out with the belt added something new. This isn’t making the belt look prestigious, it’s making it look like a toy. Pathetic. Does Ambrose earn two Title shots now with multiple wins over Barrett? He should. It’d make about a much sense as what they’re currently doing.
– It can never be a good thing when the whole locker room is backstage, but it had promise because it was related to The Miz. Damien Mizdow upstaging Miz and subjecting him to public ridicule with an erectile dysfunction commercial was a good, yet edgy way to go. They’re teasing the official turn slowly with it getting closer and closer, well done.
– Bray Wyatt’s stage promo with the burning casket was a good promo with a visually stunning image, if you will. There was a moment of tease, but no Undertaker. He’ll have to appear sooner than later. Can Wyatt drag this out until Mania? Our hopes are slim on that, when this could be a bigger feud if Taker would throw his two cents already.
– The Tyson Kidd/Cesaro/Natalya-Usos/Naomi match was okay and continued their program and established rocky waters again between Natalya and Kidd, with Natalya upset being the one to lose the match an Kidd made up by consoling her. Where will this ultimately lead? There’s more money in Natalya with Kidd than against him. The flip-flopping isn’t working.
– The segment with John Cena and Stephanie McMahon worked mainly because of Steph’s bluntness. You have to question the risky logic behind leaving Cena purposely off the Mania card so far, but McMahon tore into Cena well and made some valid points. It’s funny she actually encouraged the crowd to chant for her point. What better way to kill the awesomeness than with Curtis Axel, though it sort of played into the Mania conversation. Cena’s serious “warning” to Axel was somewhat heelish, but expected. Axel playing to the crowd with Hulk Hogan’s mannerisms was good for a laugh or two. When Rusev/Lana came out and teased a possible acceptance just to say no, it continued the anticipation per se. Cena’s driven and Rusev isn’t convinced. We can bet the match will happen, but will there be a cheesy stipulation? Stay tuned.
– The sit-down interview clip with Michael Hayes and Arn Anderson validating Sting’s credibility was a nice touch to add, but it’s not like blonde-haired Sting was a star the caliber he is now.
– The Triple H-Booker T segment was also strong, as adding Booker T to the mix with his WCW history with Sting was a nice nostalgic feel this angle needed. Him speaking out against Triple H was good and Triple H’s response by firing him was good for the shock value and bringing him back showcased his argument about “control.”
– The rematch for the Divas Championship with Paige and Nikki Bella was more intriguing than usual for a Divas match with Paige seconds away from winning and having Brie attack her. This all cleverly set up AJ Lee’s return. Had to know the CM Punk chants would happen too.
– The AJ-Paige backstage segment played up their past history and explained why they were teaming together as they both had a common enemy. Closing loopholes doesn’t happen often enough in WWE and happy it did here.
– “The Daily Show with Seth Rollins” segment turned from comedic to quite serious as Stewart planted seeds of doubt in Rollins’ head with a better-than-average wrestling promo. It’s good when WWE brings in celebrities that actually know the product and don’t bore the audience to death. This also led to Orton making his appearance, intentionally yet unintentionally allowing Stewart to escape. Foreshadow much?
– Stewart’s backstage promo was awkward, nervous and witty, which sounded about right for how he’d respond to the last segment. Is this the last of him in WWE or will he have a role in Mania?
– Is Harper having “fireflies” in his Titan Tron entrance done intentionally? This would show a loose tie to Wyatt. Harper needs something more to his character as his abilities are underutilized. Right now, he’s basically “that guy with the eyes who could wrestle.” That said, Harper can get over on his own more as a singles guy, where guys like Erick Rowan need Ryback and Dolph Ziggler to do so, and that is even a stretch.
– The Harper-Daniel Bryan match wasn’t too long but they made the most of it. Bryan getting the win kept him going strong and there was more IC Belt hot potato as Ziggler ended up with the belt now. Disappointing involvement for Bryan considering where he was about a month ago, but all this could’ve been righted if he was just put in to the World Title match at Mania. You only get one Mania a year. Why try to purposely derail the popularity of who was the most over guy in the company upon his return? They’ve smushed him down to the upper mid-card. We have to wonder if he will ever get a lengthy run with the Title.
– Cool to see Alundra Blayze get the nod for WWE HOF. Also good to see them play up the moment she was known most for – dumping the WWE Women’s Championship into a trash can on Nitro.
– The backstage segment between Orton and Rollins continued the tension of Orton demanding a thank you and having the rest of the Authority members shun him away.
– The Paul Heyman promo was epic on many proportions. We use “epic” loosely, but more or less, Heyman used his angry voice for shock value and spoke to casual fans and insiders alike. He’s one of few promo-cutters in the business that can successfully pull this off. The mic going out several times on two separate mics had to be more than a coincidence than faulty sound. Heyman could damn near hype this Mania match on his own.
– The Reigns-Rollins (w/J & J Security, Kane, Big Show) main event match was somewhat entertaining but was mainly known for the result of Orton helping Reigns win the match and the utter dominance shown by Reigns in the final minutes with the over the top rope and spear. This helps Reigns get over, but with Mania getting closer, we still haven’t really seen a real reason to cheer for Reigns against someone like Lesnar on the biggest stage.
– Dean Ambrose def. Bad News Barrett via pinfall
– The Usos/Naomi def. Natalya/Tyson Kidd/Cesaro via pinfall
– John Cena def. Curtis Axel via submission
– Divas Championship – Paige def. Nikki Bella (Champion) (w/Brie Bella) via DQ; Nikki Bella retains
– Daniel Bryan def. Luke Harper via submission
– Seth Rollins (w/J & J Security, Big Show, Kane) def. Roman Reigns via pinfall