Wednesday, June 28, 2017

WCW Capital Combat 90': Return of RoboCop

WCW Capital Combat 90': The Return of RoboCop
Washington, D.C - May 1990

CHAMPIONSHIP RUNDOWN: Ric Flair is the World Heavyweight Champion while his challenger, Lex Luger, holds the United States Championship. The Television Champion is Arn Anderson. On the tag side of things, the Steiner Brothers hold the World Tag Team Championships while the US Tag Titles are held by Tom "The Z-Man" Zenk and "Flyin'" Brian Pillman.

COMMENTATORS: Jim Ross and Bob Caudle

Tony Schiavone welcomes viewers to Capital Combat 90: The Return of RoboCop. Holy shit. Much has happened since February's WrestleWar pay-per-view - Bob Caudle has rejoined the announce team and, based on the subtitle to this show, RoboCop has arrived and left and will presumably return here. I wish the Network featured the TV shows leading up to this.

A six-man tag opens things up - Kevin Sullivan, Bam Bam Bigelow, and Cactus Jack (with "The Big Kahuna" Sir Oliver Humperdink representing Bigelow) vs. The Road Warriors and Norman the Lunatic. Before the heels are announced, though, viewers at home are treated to what has to be the 5th reminder that RoboCop will be on the show. If you ordered this show in 1990 for $30, you understood this already but WCW must've feared you'd switch off the show if you weren't reminded, constantly, of RoboCop's impending arrival. Anyway - this might be the first appearance of Bigelow in a Kwang review. Hawk dominates early in the shine segment before tagging in Norman to go at it with Cactus. Bigelow and Animal come in and we get the first cool spot of the match - Animal clotheslining Bigelow over the top rope, but both men landing on their feet to the shock of the audience. Minutes later, Jack spills recklessly over the top, eats an awesome clothesline to the floor from Hawk, and then gets whipped over the guardrail in a nasty spill! Early Foley, even in shit matches like this, was insane. Bigelow gets tagged in and miraculously gets Norman up in a suplex before bringing in Sullivan to continue the attack. Sullivan bodyslam Norman in an impressive show of unexpected strength. Foley comes in and hits him with an axehandle from the top and then a neckbreaker that saw Foley himself fly over the top rope. I don't think he kept that one in his arsenal for long, but could be wrong. Sullivan and Bigelow then come in, Norman playing face-in-peril for the next few minutes as the crowd chants for the LOD. Animal comes in for the hot tag and a melee ensues, Hawk eventually hitting Kevin Sullivan with a clothesline from the top for the win. This match deserved a better ending because the work leading up to it wasn't too bad and the heels had garnered enough heat that the crowd would've popped for a bigger comeuppance. (2/5)

No longer a "Dynamic Dude," Johnny Ace shows up to take on "Mean" Mark (with Teddy Long). This is a pretty interesting match for one reason - the future Undertaker's work style roughly 6 months before he would debut for the WWF (WWE) at the 1990 Survivor Series. Unlike the no-selling, slow-moving zombie that would win a World Championship in his first year with the WWE, "Mean" Mark is more of your typical big man - though one with a respectable number of tricks up his sleeves, including a savat kick, a good-looking heart punch, and a respectable running elbow drop. His finisher, too, showcased his agility more than his strength as he walked the ropes before landing a big elbow drop. A year later, "Mean" Mark would rarely leave his feet, sell much of anything, or show emotion during his matches - here, he's working as a generic heel and while he may not be great in the role, he's more than serviceable and, had they actually pushed him and given him a gimmick with some meat on it, could've probably been a decent midcard threat. From what we see in this match, though, WCW didn't see enough of the guy to let him get a definitive win as Ace gets in way too much offense for this to be a "Mean" Mark showcase. (1.5/5)

After some meaningless backstage drivel, its time for The Samoan SWAT Team to take on "Captain" Mike Rotunda and Tommy Rich. Rotunda is usually awfully boring, but as a babyface, he actually hits a series of dropkicks and shows some energy early in the match. He's also none-too-shabby as a face-in-peril, though, I may just enjoy seeing him getting thrust-kicked in the face more than the average fan who didn't have to sit through some of his dull Varsity Club work. On the outside, Tommy Rich tries to keep the crowd going, but even ol' Wildfire can't keep the audience engaged as Fatu (the future Rikishi) leans into a front-facelock for what feels like a full 3-4 minutes. Rotunda rallies, but the Samoan Savage cuts him off and straps on a headlock in the center of this ring, the match needing anything but a resthold at this point. Finally, Rotunda makes the tag, taking out both Samoans with dropkicks, an elbow, and a back body drop before unloading on Savage in the corner. Rotunda tries to help out in a double-team, but it ends up costing them the match as the Samoan Savage is able to come from the top with an axehandle to the back of Rich's head. A few points awarded for the Samoans, who are decent, and Mike Rotunda for really good effort. (1.5/5)

Tony Schiavone interviews the reigning World Tag Team Champions, the Steiner Brothers, who run down their challengers tonight - Doom. 

Gary Michael Capetta acknowledges the winners of the 1990 Capital Combat Sweepstakes. Okay...why not? This is immediately followed by the arrival of Missy Hyatt and Jay Tapper, a world reknown hair stylist (who will shave the head of the loser of the next match). Missy Hyatt introduces "Precious" Paul Ellering and his opponent, Teddy Long, who makes his way down the aisle to the song that would later become Ron Simmons' WCW theme. Long, the heel, dominates early as the commentators question what may be hidden in his boxing glove. Ellering takes control, removes Long's glove, hits him with a scoop slam, and then using his boxing glove against him to get the quick W. Jake Tapper snips his hair and Long leaves the ring, shielding his bald head from the crowd. This entire segment runs maybe 3 minutes and draws barely any heat. (1.5/5)

Tony Schiavone is joined by Ole Anderson, Arn Anderson, Sid Vicious, and Ric Flair. Sid Vicious looks completely bizarre in the monkey suit he's wearing - he's also the only member of the Horsemen wearing a tuxedo for some reason. They run down Luger, promising to help Ric Flair hold onto his World Championship.

The Midnight Express challenge Flyin' Brian Pillman and Tom Zenk for their United States Tag Team Championship next. Cornette is locked in a steel cage at ringside (against his will) - which means he'll somehow get involved later. Eaton and Pillman start off for their teams, but things quickly fly off the rails and the faces get a combo of mirror and double-team maneuvers going. The crowd isn't as high on this as the work deserves, barely popping for the babyface shine stretch. Once the heels take over, the crowd wakes up a bit, especially when Pillman takes a nasty chest-first bump into the guardrail from the apron. The Midnights are masterful with their control, Bobby Eaton at one point hitting a maneuver I don't think I've seen before - a slingshot backbreaker. Pillman is a good face-in-peril and he's fearless in terms of taking big hits, eating a Bobby Eaton top-rope leg drop that should've broken his trachea. He nearly botches his comeback tilt-a-whirl slam, but the hot tag gets a loud response and Zenk gets an even bigger win when he kicks out of the Rocket Launcher. The Z-Man connects with a high crossbody but the overzealous Pillman ends up causing a distraction when he tries to keep Stan Lane out of the ring and costing his team the match. I wouldn't call this a "must see" match, but it was better than your average tag thanks to everyone's hard work and the ever-impeccable work of Beautiful Bobby. (3/5)

Sting comes out to a tremendous introduction by Gary Michael Capetta. Sting introduces his buddy RoboCop, but before the Policeman of the Future can make his way out, the Horsemen (sans Flair) shove Sting in the cage that was used for the previous match. RoboCop arrives, pulls off the door, and sends the Horsemen fleeing. This is a definite Network Nugget of Awesomeness. (+1) 

The Junkyard Dog is with Tony Schiavone. Jim Cornette interrupts the returning superstar to blab on about the Midnight Express. Cornette asks JYD where he's been at (I think he was in the WWE) and the Dog tells him he was at his mother's house in Louisville. Cornette runs off in fear and the Dog tells fans he's in the NWA to stay.

The Rock n' Roll Express make their way down the aisle with a jukebox in tow to face The Fabulous Freebirds in a strap match (the true story here is that, for whatever reason, they couldn't find straps so instead this match is fought with a lash from a bondage boutique). Gaga start with lots of schtick from Michael "P.S" Hayes before we actually get any sort of fisticuffs between Garvin and Ricky Morton. The babyfaces get the straps first and put a hurtin' on the Freebirds, running them out of the ring. The heels take over after a stretch, but surprisingly don't take advantage of the straps - instead, its Michael Hayes' quick right hand that is the difference-maker, knocking Morton out when the ref is distracted and then, minutes later, vanquishing one of his hope spots in the corner. Caudle himself mentions his surprise at the heels for not utilizing the strap twice before Hayes finally grabs it to use outside the ring, only to go back to ignore the stipulation entirely as the match enters its final stretch. Morton's face-in-peril work is great as always, Gibson's hot tag is good, and the finish makes perfect sense when you think of the characters of the Freebirds. Unfortunately, the camera angle telegraphs the last spot pretty obviously. I would've liked them actually utilize the straps more, especially when working on Morton, whose facial expressions would've really sold the danger of the strap. (2.5/5)

Doug Furnas joins Tony Schiavone for no particular reason other than to give his opinion that Lex Luger is going to win tonight. Sting comes out next and pretty much says the same thing. 

Time for the World Tag Team Championship Match - The Steiner Brothers defending the titles against Doom. I didn't go into this match expecting much, but it was pretty damn great - maybe the best Steiners match I've seen. While a handful of moments were a little sloppy, in the grand scheme of things, you can make up for sloppy work by just beating the shit out of eachother and that's exactly what the Steiners and Doom do here. Every big power move we had not yet seen on this card is delivered and is delivered with the intent to do damage. Both teams look like they are trying to win at every turn and I was sold on Scott Steiner in the face-in-peril role because both Simmons and Reed are absolute bastards in their cut-offs. The crowd is hot at the start and the match is wrestled at a nice clip with no restholds or too much overselling so the audience stays with it from beginning to end. I like the finish too as it doesn't come off as cheap at all. Do the Road Warriors have a better match than this on their resume? These two teams knocked this one out of the park - a "must see" tag match in my mind. (4/5)

Main event time - United States Champion Lex Luger challenging Ric Flair for his World Heavyweight Championship. This one is fought in WCW's "Thunderdome"-style cage, which isn't a dome at all and is my least favorite type of cage (barring, of course, the Punjabi Prison structure). I had typed up a full review of this match but lost it - so this is going to be condensed. The crowd is red hot for this and Flair sports a crimson mask after getting knocked into the cage. Its an obvious blade job, but its warranted here considering the stipulation. The story coming into the match is that Luger suffered a knee injury, so when Flair goes on offense, he targets the limb so that he can score a victory with his patented figure four finisher. After a solid 20 minutes of action, the Horsemen show up and look to get into the cage. At this point, Luger stops selling any knee damage and takes over in the ring, locking Flair in the Torture Rack as Sting and El Gigante try to run off the Horsemen. On commentary, JR explains that Ole Anderson has strong-armed the man in charge of raising and lowering the cage, allowing Barry Windham to sneak in and attack the Total Package (causing a DQ). The cage lowers again and the Horsemen beat down on Luger until Sting makes the save. Where Sid and Gigante go is never explained. Ric Flair gives a classic post-match promo but is shut up by the Stinger, setting up their match at the next pay-per-view. Not as good as the WrestleWar match and much has been written about the fact that Flair probably should've dropped the title to Luger (who was very over) but the company was so high on Sting that they didn't pull the trigger. (3.5/5)

Scoring a 2.56-out-of-5 on the Kwang Scale, Capital Combat 90' is a slightly less enjoyable watch than the previous pay-per-view. The difference maker here is in the undercard as the lowest points on WrestleWar never go quite as low as the unwatchable junk that fills up the first hour or so of this event. Dare I say that this show could've used a touch more RoboCop? Considering how much he is hyped throughout the broadcast, the fact that he doesn't make an appearance in the main event is a bit puzzling. With only one match I'd consider a "must see," this one earns a rating of...

FINAL RATING - High Risk Maneuver

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