Place to Be Nation is extremely excited to present This Week in 90’s Wrestling, courtesy of our good friend Charles from Pro Wrestling Only. We’ll highlight the best of professional wrestling in the 90s – WWF, WCW, Memphis, USWA, All-Japan, and more – for each day of the year! You can find the complete archive of this series here.
Clips of a Jerry Lawler and Jeff Jarrett vs The Moondogs match aired on USWA television from the January 20 Mid South Coliseum show. The match appeared to be around **** just based on the clips, and resembled FMW brawling as much as it did Memphis brawling. This had everything — tables used as weapons, stiff chairshots and punches, chains, fireballs and blood. The mayhem did not stop there, as we also saw clips of a strap battle royal from the same show, which Eric Embry won when he eliminated “Dirty White Boy” Tony Anthony. DWB used a cat-o-nine tails as a weapon during the match, and the announcers never even tried to hide it.
On WWF Superstars, we learned that Ric Flair’s challenger at Wrestlemania VIII would be either Hulk Hogan, The Undertaker, Roddy Piper, Randy Savage or Sid Justice, and each man delivered a short promo to make his case to WWF President Jack Tunney. Also on the show, a vignette aired to promote the upcoming debut of Tatanka.
World Championship Wrestling, which was taped on January 22 in Kansas City, was headlined by The Steiner Brothers facing Larry Zbyszko and Bobby Eaton. Also on the show, Ricky Morton faced Brian Pillman and Arn Anderson wrestled Dustin Rhodes in a match that was good, but nowhere as good as their match three weeks earlier. The show still pulled off an impressive 2.9 rating.
WWF Monday Night RAW aired live from the Manhattan Center in New York, and was headlined by Ric Flair doing the honors for Mr. Perfect in a *** match where the loser had to leave the WWF. Flair had been in talks with Bill Watts about returning to WCW after the airing of some of his old matches drew high television ratings. At the same time, Vince McMahon no longer wanted to use Flair in a main event role. He told Flair when he entered the company that if he would not be used on top at anytime and he wanted to leave, he would grant him his release, a promise he honored, even while getting in the line “It’s all downhill from here for Ric Flair” on commentary as a parting shot. While this was Flair’s last match on television, he continued working WWF house shows briefly before returning to WCW a few weeks later. The show drew a 2.6 rating, which was considered a disappointment since it was the night after the Royal Rumble. The rating was actually down from the 2.8 rating the previous week. You can watch this show on the WWE Network.
WCW aired Clash of the Champions XXX live on TBS from Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, NV, in front of 3,500 fans. Because of higher ticket prices, the show also did the biggest gate of any Clash special to that point. The show was heavily promoted by Caesar’s Palace employees, and Randy Savage did a great deal of local media to hype the event. Ric Flair returned to a television role after being sidelined for three months to sell the loser-must-retire stipulation of his Halloween Havoc match against Hulk Hogan a few months earlier. The Guardian Angel also turned heel after getting into an argument with Sting before being reborn as Big Bubba Rogers, his third gimmick makeover in 13 months. However, the show is most famous for the main event, where Hulk Hogan teamed with Savage to face Kevin Sullivan and The Butcher. It was not the match itself that was memorable so much as it was one spot, where Savage delivered the first and last ever Reviving Elbow to wake his unconscious tag team partner. The post-match angle was also notable for Vader hitting the ring to attack Hogan, splitting his pants when pulling off a powerbomb, which Hogan then no-sold anyway. The show did a 3.5 rating, which was considered a disappointment since it was Savage’s first match in the company, they hyped Ric Flair’s return and even purchased a half-page ad in USA Today. You can watch it on the WWE Network.
PG-13 mocked Flash Flanagan’s father, who seemed distraught by his son’s injury in what was some pretty bad acting. Also on the show, Jerry Lawler faced Tracy Smothers in a fun match. Smothers was now in the USWA Nation of Domination and was thus billed as Shaquille Ali.
A masked man with a familiar-looking body and a familiar sounding voice showed up on ECW television and began sending wrestlers after Shane Douglas. It was later revealed to be Rick Rude, but it was obviously him the moment he began talking. Also on the show, Shane Douglas, Chris Candido and Brian Lee attacked Tommy Dreamer until Terry Funk made the save. As Dreamer was stretchered out, Tommy Rich attacked both Funk and Dreamer.
Under the auspices of the New World Order, WCW presented Souled Out on pay-per-view from Cedar Rapids, IA. The show has a reputation as a disaster, but I actually thought it was a bold move and a courageous risk to even attempt the show, even if the only real standout match on the show was Eddy Guerrero’s U.S. title defense against Syxx in a ladder match. The show opening may be the most memorable part of the event, opening in black and white with sirens in the background as the NWO entered the building on huge trucks bearing NWO flags. The show also had a disastrous Miss NWO pageant which is more memorable for the wrong reasons. Hulk Hogan headlined the show, defending the title against The Giant, while Scott Hall and Kevin Nash lost the WCW World Tag Team Titles to The Steiner Brothers in a decision that did not stick. Unfortunately for WCW, the pay-per-view did a disappointing 164,000 buys, the second lowest of the year for the company. You can watch this show on the WWE Network.
WCW Monday Nitro aired live from Dallas, TX, in front of 15,103 fans. From an in-ring point of view, it was a very good night for WCW, as Scott Hall and Bam Bam Bigelow had a ***1/4 ladder match, while Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash and Scott Steiner faced Ric Flair, Chris Benoit and Steve McMichael in a strong main event given plenty of time. Also on the show, Flair continued his weekly humiliation of Eric Bischoff, this time putting him to work at the souvenir stand, and the NWO booted Curt Hennig from the group. Hennig would remain a heel but would now team with Barry Windham in a tag team of over-the-hill second generation wrestlers that were no longer over. Perhaps the most endearing highlight of the show was Bret Hart’s promo, where he rolls out the semi-famous “Who are you to doubt El Dandy?” line and once again talked about his groin pull the likes of which we had never seen. The show drew a strong 5.0 rating.
WWF Monday Night RAW aired live from Phoenix, AZ, in front of 13,538 fans. Owen Hart and Jeff Jarrett defeated Ken Shamrock and the Big Boss Man to win the WWF World Tag Team Titles and in the main event, The Rock defeated HHH in an “I Quit” match as part of an angle where Chyna turned on HHH and joined The Corporation. Also on the show, Shawn Michaels announced a match between Steve Austin and Vince McMahon for St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. Meanwhile, Val Venis also aired his latest film entitled “Saving Ryan’s Privates” where he had intercourse in a shower with Shamrock’s storyline sister Ryan. The show drew a 5.5 rating, once again holding off Nitro.
In The “To Watch” Queue:
Jushin Liger vs Akira Nogami (NJPW 01/25/90)
Ricky Steamboat vs Larry Zbyszko (WCW Worldwide 01/25/92)
Steve Austin vs Dustin Rhodes (WCW Pro 01/25/92)
Rick & Scott Steiner vs Bobby Eaton & Larry Zbyszko (WCW Saturday Night 01/25/92)
Mitsuya Nagai vs Mark Ashford (RINGS 01/25/95)
Yoshihisa Yamamoto vs Hans Nyman (RINGS 01/25/95)
Akira Maeda vs Volk Han (RINGS 01/25/95)
Tony Halme vs Mitsuya Nagai (RINGS 01/25/96)
Toshiaki Kawada & Akira Taue vs Kenta Kobashi & Johnny Ace (AJPW 01/25/98)