by Daniel Johnson
In a recent interview indie star Alex Avgerinos spoke of what it is like to wrestle on the opener of an important card saying, “[I]t’s actually the next best thing from the main event.” This was perhaps no more true than in WCW, particularly late era WCW, when demonstrating every possible aspect of the importance of an opener was vital. The reason for this was that there marquee names like Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, “Macho Man” Randy Savage and others were all aging so it was getting tougher and tougher for them to deliver in the ring. To balance out the card thrilling matches were needed in order to get viewers to the point where they could sit back and in between yawning say, “Hey I’m watching Hulk Hogan in a main event, this is pretty cool!”
So let’s take a look at 5 Great WCW Pay-Per-View Openers You Don’t Appreciate!
1. Billy Kidman vs. Mikey Whipwreck from WCW Uncensored 1999
Looking at the name Mikey Whipwreck on this list I’m sure at least one or two of you had the same reaction as when you saw Chris Candido in the first image for this article. “Wait, that’s an ECW guy.I don’t remember him in WCW at all. This writer is an idiot!” While one of those things may be right what is also true is that Whipwreck wrestled for WCW for under a year (actually WAY under a year) in 1999. In Whipwreck’s WCW days he didn’t get the chance to wrestle on a whole lot of pay-per-views, but gave a good showing at WCW Uncensored 1999 in a bout for the WCW Cruiserweight Championship that went 15 minutes! That is actually more important than it sounds. After all you fans of current WWE may remember how long it took for Daniel Bryan or Antonio Cesaro to get 15 minutes or more for matches on pay-per-view. Whipwreck also comes off as a threat in this match and nearly wins it with a reverse DDT variation. However, Kidman gets Whipwreck up for a powerbomb turns it into a facebuster and after a shooting star press from up top it is all over!
2. Juventud Guerrera vs. Blitzkrieg from WCW Spring Stampede 1999
Not only is this match an opener that unfortunately not a lot of people tend to remember, but it also features two great forgotten talents. For those who remember Blitzkrieg he’s tended to be thought of as that guy who had a sort of cool look and was in WCW for a cup of coffee. Oh yeah, he also passed down the gimmick to indie star Jack Evans aka Blitzkrieg II. More people probably remember Juventud Guerrera, but his in-ring skill often gets overshadowed by what a crazy dude he is. As you may have guessed the opener from WCW Spring Stampede 1999 is lightning fast! This bout took place just one match after the aforementioned Kidman/Whipwreck encounter so there was still plenty of pressure to stand out among the cruiserweights with the division being as hot as it was. This match was also for a future shot at the WCW Cruiserweight Championship. The two succeed with some awesome spots including a springboad elbow from Blitzkrieg, an insane springboard dropick from Guerrera and an always lethal looking plancha from Guerrera. Guerrera walks away with a win after a Juvi driver…from the top rope!
3. Raven and Perry Saturn vs. Rey Mysterio, Jr. and Billy Kidman vs. Dean Malenko and Chris Benoit from WCW Slamboree 1999
Oh, the dying days of The Four Horsemen. Sad in a way, but a stable known for it’s technical wrestling was bound to deliver in a match featuring some other great talents. Those stars included two crusierweight phenoms from The Filthy Animals in Rey Mysterio, Jr. and Billy Kidman and the darkly intriguing team of Raven and Perry Saturn. This WCW Slamboree 1999 bout was for the WCW World Tag Team Championship and was performed during a time when WCW was trying to give some respect back to the title. The championship had already reached a low point after incidents like Kevin Nash squashing Rick Steiner in a singles match for it and more importantly Judy Bagwell (Buff Bagwell’s mommy) entering the history books as a WCW World Tag Team Champion. However, for all the crap the championship was put through this match was crazy entertaining. With The Flock you are guaranteed some brawling, with the Filthy Animals you are guaranteed some high flying and with Dean Malenko and Chris Benoit you guaranteed some of that aforementioned good old technical wrestling (especially since Arn Anderson was in their corner). Sure enough all three teams delivered. Although Kidman nearly wins another one with a shooting star press, Chris Kanyon interferes on behalf of Raven and Saturn, allowing Raven to hit his feared even flow DDT. Would Raven and Saturn go on to have a legendary reign as tag champs? Nope, this was WCW so Kanyon turned on Raven and Saturn less than a month later. Still, a good match is a good match!
4. Chris Candido vs. The Artist from WCW Slamboree 2000
This bout is a good deal shorter than everything else on this list, but is still a nifty brief bout fought for the WCW Cruiserweight Championship. I’m sorry to say that at this point in WCW’s history the company came to a stage where they would no longer have any luchadores hold the WCW Cruiserweight Championship (and before anyone corrects me no Chavo Guerrero doesn’t count). As for the match itself I’m using the word, “great” quite liberally here. For instance, it is great to see Chris Candido have some success in a major company after having to deal with so much garbage in his all too short life. The match though is filled with botches even if they never stop being entertaining. In fact, Candido technically wins the match twice once after a chair shot from valet Tammy Lynn Sytch and then when the match doesn’t stop Candido wins it again after a diving headbutt. Candido doesn’t even get to go home happy though because after the match The Artist’s valet Paisley gives him a shot to the nuts! This was WCW Slamboree 2000 aka WCW at roughly it’s lowest point so you could only hope for so much. I recommend you check this match out, but only for chuckles or if you are a huge Candido fan (or a fan of The Artist…are there any?) and can somehow overlook all the botches.
5. Jason Jett vs. Kwee Wee from WCW Greed 2001
WCW was getting back on track by the time WCW Greed 2001 (or just WCW Greed seeing as how there will never be another one) came along. Too bad Vince McMahon would kill WCW once and for all just a few days later (unless you count the WWF InVasion stuff, which you really, really shouldn’t). Unlike the previously mentioned Candido/Artist affair this is just straight up good match. Jason Jett hits a plancha, Kwee Wee goes for a big elbow drop and hits nothing but mat, it’s obvious these guys are going at top gear. You kind of feel bad for Kwee Wee when watching it since he got such little time to shine in WCW, but then you look at Jason Jett aka another ECW guy, EZ Money and feel even worse since he just got there. After all, at least Kwee Wee got an awesome theme. At any rate Jett puts Kwee Wee away with a reverse suplex variation to win the last WCW pay-per-view opener ever.
Photos 1, 4: en.wikipedia.org
Photos 2-3, 5-6: onlineworldofwrestling.com
Categories: Wrestling Lists