To give some greater context to this project, the collection of matches and segments I am watching come from a 1992 Yearbook created by Goodhelmet, a longtime poster at the Death Valley Driver Forum and other wrestling places. A cross-section of the best (and worst of wrestling within a certain year), it is a great snapshot of everything of importance.
The second day of February heralded a UWA World Heavyweight Title Match as El Canek defended the gold against Dos Caras. The usual trading of holds and pinfalls permeated the primera, though Caras took control with a variety of crossbody attacks. Avoiding a threatened dive to the outside from Canek then led to Caras taking the primera as he turned a suplex into the ring into a small package in a great little spot. Considering the two shook hands at the start, Caras’ decision to target the knee with a stamp after Canek got to the ropes doesn’t go down well with the referee or the fans as the segunda began, a spot he repeated moments later as he strived for a submission. This made Canek’s comeback consisting of a couple of spinkicks and a press slam into a pin all the more impressive.
Naturally, Caras continued to work the knee in the tercera, though the pace generally picked up as a mid-ring collision threatened to see both men counted down as did two pin attempts that saw two pairs of shoulders on the canvas. Canek found the wherewithal to kick out of several of Caras’ more impactful manoeuvres, but couldn’t kick out of a huracanrana into a pin. A simple, yet very effective, lucha contest which crowned a new champion.
A match that saw a four legends of New Japan collide followed as Hiroshi Hase teamed with Masahiro Chono to take on Shiro Koshinaka and Tatsumi Fujinami. Neither team were able to boss the opening exchanges as the match didn’t really settle into a rhythm as not one wrestler was isolated for a significant period of time. It ended up being Koshinaka who saw the ring cut in half for him as Chono and Hase worked him over with submission holds and occasional strikes, but he soon turned the tide on Chono, leading to an extended assault on the leg. This included a top rope kneedrop and a sharpshooter from Fujinami, though it was Fujinami who allowed Chono to get the tag after catching an enziguri to the side of the head.
As Hase fired up and looked to return the favour with a sharpshooter on Fujinami, Koshinaka hit an butt butt in an interesting way to break a submission. The pace picked up as Fujinami applied a Dragon sleeper to Chono, before Hase swung Koshinaka around with the giant swing. Koshinaka fell victim to a kenka kick by Chono and a side suplex by Hase, though this soon saw butt butts all round as he fought back with his best ass-based offense. This wasn’t to be enough as a double kenka kick had Koshinaka laid out for a Chono STF. The arrogant way Hase waited to see if Fujinami would come was gold, but the rest of the match wasn’t amazing. It only really picked up in the last six minutes or so.
The WCW Television Title at times offered the best value for money in terms of match quality on a weekly basis. That is unsurprising when you consider matches between wrestlers like Steve Austin and Ricky Steamboat battling over the gold. However, this specific contest didn’t necessarily deliver. Steamboat’s use of multiple early pinfall attempts and a wild plancha sold the time limit well, but the transitions between moves often appeared awkward, a clear example being when Austin kicked out a roll-up and Steamboat awkwardly took a delayed bump into the turnbuckle.
Another awkward spot saw Austin whiff on using Steamboat’s trunks to send him to ringside, whilst the announcement of the time limit at minute intervals killed the crowd as the draw became all too obvious an outcome. Weirdly enough, it didn’t even end with a hot Steamboat segment of him trying to grab a late victory as Austin actually came closest to getting the pinfall. The crowd were at least hot for the post-match where Madusa kicked Austin by mistake when targeting Steamboat. Decent, but a bit of a let-down if truth be told.
I’m an unabashed Jushin Liger fan; I have never seen a Norio Honaga match that I am aware of. Liger is the current WCW Cruiserweight Champion and it is up for grabs alongside Honaga’s IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title. In an interesting introduction, two massive balloons burst above the ring to herald the arrival of Liger to the ring. Honaga is significantly more no-nonsense than Liger, so whilst Liger was nailing sitout powerbombs, Honaga was blocking superplexes and landing double axehandles instead. Small heel things that Honaga does, such as grinding his knuckle into Liger’s ribcage during an abdominal stretch are nice touches as he sought to grind his way to victory. These escalated to some ringpost and table shenanigans and the most heel-ish of all submissions: the stump puller.
When Liger does begin his fight back, it comes with a dive from the top to the outside and a rolling senton over the top rope, further highlighting the clash in styles. The grinding down of Liger was highlighted as he began to look for desperation flash pinfalls, but it actually was Honaga’s one big risk that he took which cost him the match. A top rope clothesline saw him collide with Liger; Liger capitalised and won with a top rope huracanrana seconds later. A fun clash of styles that saw Liger take advantage of his opponent’s only real mistake and win the gold for the fifth time.
With a huge tag team match at Saturday Night’s Main Event that evening, Ric Flair joined Paul Bearer on the Funeral Parlor to promote Flair teaming with the Undertaker to take on Sid Justice and Hulk Hogan. Following the Rumble, Sid apparently apologised to Hogan, but it doesn’t matter to Flair or any of his associates as Mr. Perfect guaranteed that destruction will hit. Flair only really runs down the match, yet his control is masterful and he just feels like a world champion when he speaks. According to Flair, Saturday Night’s Main Event will be where we see if Hogan and Justice can truly walk that aisle.
From one strong interview to a…weaker option, Koko Ware was on Memphis Television the same day talking about a match against Kamala. Having pinned the champion, the USWA World Heavyweight Championship was held up due to Ware throwing Kamala over the top rope before the decision. Koko talked about loving to sing and dance, as well as having an affinity for the Memphis people that Kamala doesn’t have, but labelling Kamala a ‘baboon’ and dwelling once again on how the monster can’t talk just isn’t the most inspiring promo work. Ware does label himself the ‘People’s Champion’ at the end, which shows that perhaps Ware was more of a trendsetter than I realised.
A recap of the Eric Embry versus Dirty White Boy feud highlighted all of the action we’ve seen so far, alongside Embry attacking Boy in the studio the previous week, a segment that almost saw Dirty White Girl stripped to her bra and panties in order for Embry to whip her. However, at the next Coliseum show, some measure of revenge was gained as Boy and Girl seemed to get the better of Embry and CJ in a mixed tag strap match. Embry joined Dave Brown in the studio to talk about being embarrassed once more, as well as going back to his infatuation with making Girl’s buttocks bleed once he gets his hands on her, before doing the same to Boy. This is all to – rather uncomfortably – build to a Tennessee Street Fight Battle Royal: a match that appears to be all about removing the person’s clothes before pitching them out of the ring.
You can tell things aren’t going to end up well for Jeff Jarrett and Jerry Lawler as they are wearing their best clothes as they enter the studio to talk to Dave Brown. This is a recipe for a heel beatdown. Jarrett made some historical links by comparing Richard Lee to Rommel, before Lawler claimed that they were the first team to halt The Moondogs’ reign of destruction. This left the Moondogs getting a new member – Big Bad Dog (who Lawler calls ‘Big Black Dog’) – but Lawler sounded unfazed. However, Big Bad Dog became the difference maker after Lawler and Jarrett initially fought off an attack by the Moondogs which saw the best clobber of the faces ripped and defiled. That Big Bad Dog doesn’t have any information at Wrestlingdata.com probably says a lot about the quality or longevity of him as a gimmick/wrestler.
I’ve seen the Royal Rumble from 1992 many times, but I’ve never seen the Sid Justice/Hulk Hogan versus The Undertaker/Ric Flair match from Saturday Night’s Main Event – it is brilliant. Having apologised for his actions, this became the official heel turn and the storytelling to get there is great. From Sean Mooney ignoring Sid in the pre-match promo, leading to Justice walking out, to every time Hogan is taking the offense to the heels, Justice is staring daggers at him, it all works. Having teamed effectively for the bulk of the match, Justice showed his true colours in his lack of attempts to tag in when Hogan is in trouble, before just jumping off of the apron to avoid a tag and walking out. Sid was great here with his smarmy smile and shouting ‘music to my ears’ as the crowd booed him. Admittedly, this was taped so some audio sweetening could have happened, but there is no debate about who is the bad guy in this situation.
Luckily for Hogan, Brutus Beefcake comes in to help him fight off the heels after the referee is chucked to one side by Flair; Hogan still has to get in the win column no matter what. An intense post-match promo saw him repeat how Hogan couldn’t beat Flair on his best day, though he added that Hogan couldn’t beat him on his worst. Just brilliant work by all involved.
On the same show, Jake Roberts and Randy Savage battled once more in a continuation of the feud that had boiled over in 1991. After Roberts hinted at attacking Elizabeth for a second time and Savage fired off an intense promo focusing on how over the edge a man attacking your wife might make you, the match unsurprisingly started at a brisk pace as Macho Man attacked Roberts at ringside. An eye rake turned the tide, whilst Savage took what appeared to be a legitimately hard shot into the ringpost as the fight ended up outside again. A DDT after avoiding a double axehandle had Roberts arrogantly waiting for Savage to get back up, picking at the bones. This ended up costing the Snake as a second DDT is blocked and Roberts saw his throat driven into the guardrail with a double axehandle. This aimed to make the resulting top rope elbowdrop a viable one-two punch, though the finish still felt a little too quick and anticlimactic. Savage arguably made up for this with a second top rope elbowdrop that had officials scurrying out of the way.
This wasn’t the end, though Saturday’s Night Main Event did go off air with Roberts lurking behind the curtain waiting for Savage or Elizabeth, who had joined her man at ringside. Showed a week later on Superstars, the Undertaker stepped in to stop the attack, turning him face and leading to Taker/Roberts WrestleMania match.
Whilst there were some great matches (Canek/Caras, the SNME tag, Honaga/Liger), this selection also had a few that flattered to deceive (the New Japan tag, Austin/Steamboat). My personal favourite was seeing the official Sid heel turn and how great that all was, alongside a lucha title match between El Canak and Dos Caras that did all the simple things well. Check back next week as I continue to look at wrestling action from 1992 as That Was The Year That Was.