X-Pac vs. Billy Kidman
X-Pac heat was one of those internet tropes I always bought into. Sean Waltman struck me as a cocky, annoying person that I wanted to see get beat within an inch of his life. It was only until later in life when my brain cells worked better and I realized that was what he was trying to accomplish all along. At his core, Waltman’s character ,X-Pac, will always be a punk. Whether he is the scrappy punk friend you have to look after at the club afraid that he will say something, or the punk that will go up to your girlfriend and try to impress her, the fact remains that he is a punk. The face/heel direction of his character is solely based on the notion of whether or not Waltman is “your punk” at a certain time. These characters in my life experience are the best allies in the face of conflict because they can be loyal to a fault. Waltman was at such a crossroad at this event and was looking across the ring at his counterpart from another promotion.
Billy Kidman’s career has a perception of something more. Lurking in the background of Raven’s flock, Kidman shined in early opportunities on WCW Pro and the rare Nitro appearance. He was able to hit a stunning shooting star press which got over immediately with any audience it was performed in front of. Starrcade 1998 was a particularly important event for Kidman as he became the man in the cruiserweight division. He flirted with the top of the card throughout the rest of his WCW career including a ball-busting program with the immortal Hulk Hogan. WWF purchasing WCW seemed like a golden chance for Kidman to launch himself into the upper card and become a main eventer. He, much like Waltman, presented himself with a little attitude and rough around the edges. It was a natural inclination to match Kidman with Waltman at Invasion.
The match they have here is not near as exciting as it could have been if giving adequate time to develop. X-Pac starts out playing to the fans but quickly realizes that will be falling on deaf ears. He adjusts accordingly by hamming it up for them. The opening matwork shows him being dominant and proving he can hang with the younger Kidman. He emphasizes this point by doing the slapping on the back of the head spot. Kidman has to use more flash in order to execute the same move but is able to do so. I thought this was setting the stage for a pissing contest between the two and was excited at that prospect. Kidman ups the pace by sending X-Pac to the outside. He follows up with a baseball slide into Pac slamming him into the outside mat. It was at this moment when I realized how utterly bizarre it was for Michael Cole and Jim Ross to be calling a match as a duo. Pac is able to turn the tide fairly quickly by using some resourcefulness by slinging Kidman to the outside and he takes a pretty nasty bump. X-Pac does a nice crossbody to the outside onto Kidman and mugs for the crowd. Back inside, Kidman gets a glimmer of hope but is to flashy and Pac keeps him in check with a spinning kick for a two count. Pac is now work essentially as the heel and taking control of the match.
The pace slows with X-Pac and Kidman exchanging chinlocks and sleepers for the next few minutes. X-Pac gains the advantage and climbs to the top again mugging for the crowd. He misses a front somersault flip and Kidman gets a flash sequence ending in him hitting a powerbomb variation for two. Kidman pounds away in the corner but X-Pac reverses and even uses the ropes to assist on the pinfall. Awesome dick move there by him. Then we get one of my least favorite spots in wrestling, the Kidman powerbomb spot. You know already how this one went. Kidman goes to the top but gets hit with an X-Factor on the way down for a nearfall. Pac sets up the bronco buster but Kidman gets a boot to the nutsack in a neat looking spot. One shooting star press later and WCW has their first win on the night.
The match is not long or very good at all. It set up a couple of interesting narratives but didn’t have much time to develop them and the ending run felt really scatterbrained and one spot after another without a chance for any of the ramifications to be felt by the viewer. Kidman seemed poised to have a good run with this win as X-Pac was still a solid competitor and this had some sort of torch passing magnitude to it. Still, the match was given no time to deliver a classic and even though the match had some decent spots and Waltman recognizing to go heel, the overall premise of the match was a much more exciting contest than the execution.
Final Grade: **