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WWE Network Deep Cuts (September 24, 2014): Christian's first title, Batista vs Coach, WCW in WWF, more

The Deep Cuts! The Deep Cuts is back!

WWE Network

Hello, my friends. We meet again. It's been a while, where should we begin? Feels like forever. WWF DESIRE

Anyhoozle, I've been absent from my post here for a couple of weeks, one week because the Mayweather-Maidana fight was taking up all my time, and the next week because my sleep schedule was still all messed up and I didn't realize until last Friday that I'd forgotten to do this.

But I'm back, and better than ever, with a knack for making things ... better? I guess that could potentially be true. LET'S TALK WRESTLING!

Barry Windham vs 2 Cold Scorpio (WCW Clash of the Champions XXIII)

Michael Buffer is here in 1993, and he wasn't paid enough to say "let's get ready to rumble" for this, so he offers "man your battle stations!" 2 Cold is announced as having OVER 400 WRESTLING MATCHES. And he says "The dis that don't miss!" All in all, a great time.

Windham is the defending NWA champion, which meant very little in 1993. It was basically like being world heavyweight champion in WWE the last six or seven years. You were clearly a runner-up to the real champion.

Ventura: "The Nor-Fork Scope. Why do they call it a scope?"
Schiavone: "It's Norfolk, not 'Nor-Fork.' Nuffuck."
Ventura: "Whatever, but why do they call it a scope? It's an auditorium."

Windham wanted to be called "The Lone Wolf" at this point, as Ric Flair had returned to WCW and there were questions about possibly reforming the Four Horsemen, since Flair, Windham, and Arn Anderson were still around. WCW would eventually reform the Horsemen, but it had Paul Roma and not Barry Windham. Which was ... great.

Since this is Horseman country in Virginia, too, Windham is arguably the fan favorite. And Barry's on point here, breaking out a lot of big offense -- flying lariat, DDT, gutwrench suplex. Scorpio had just come back from a tour of Japan, and Ventura theorizes that's affected his performance in this match. "What'd he think, eating raw fish was gonna make him stronger?" Hahaha. Jesse Ventura hates foreigners. Overall, though, Ventura does his usual good job making the babyface sound good and holding his status as a heel commentator, crediting Scorpio's toughness as he continues taking a pretty one-sided beating from Windham.

Everything here is done effectively enough that Scorpio's big, sudden hope run late in the match is met with a good reaction. It's also worth noting that Norfolk was one of WCW's great cities for a long, long time. The crowds there were always good. Eventually, they'd kill that town, too, but it took a while. Windham winds up retaining clean, and it's a pretty damn good match where they naturally built the crowd.

TAKA Michinoku vs Christian (WWE Judgment Day 1998)

This was really Christian's first notable singles match after he'd debuted alongside Gangrel in a big white shirt. The Brood never really made any sense or had much of a story. But they had frilly shirts. Edge had not yet joined up, as he was still Pleather Mystery Raven in the audience, though Christian was acknowledged as his brother. Which in 2014, we've decided never happened.

JR: "I don't know a lot about the gothic lifestyle that Gangrel and Christian lead."

TAKA had been WWF light heavyweight champion since winning it in December 1997, and here we are in October 1998, and the title has been pretty much cast aside already, never really getting a chance to become anything. TAKA didn't know his belt was meaningless, though, or at least he didn't wrestle like he did, as he just kept putting in a big effort on the occasion he'd get to wrestle.

This isn't very good, but it's not bad. Christian's trying to showcase himself, and TAKA is being TAKA. It also doesn't help that both of these guys are low-card heels.

Lawler: "Those shirts, what are those, like, gothic shirts? What is gothic, anyway?!"

TAKA busts out an Asai moonsault on the floor to a minor reaction. The WWF had done their job: they had made people not care about fast-paced cruiserweight-style action. Christian winds up countering the Michinoku Driver with a cradle to score the alleged upset to win a title he'd barely defend, but it was a key moment for him early.

Batista vs Jonathan Coachman (WWE Taboo Tuesday 2005)

Goldust and Vader were with Coachman, as The Coach had brought back some old timers to aid in his weird feud with Steve Austin, which was changed to Batista a week before this show. Vader fell over on RAW and looked very upset about it.

Nine years later, old timer Goldust is currently as good as he's ever been in his 25 year career, and is one-half of the WWE tag team champions. Since this was Taboo Tuesday, fans got to vote on the type of match. Would it be a verbal debate? No. It was a street fight.

To be clear, Batista was world heavyweight champion when this match took place. The world heavyweight champion was fighting Jonathan Coachman, an irrelevant Goldust, and a very old, very wobbly Vader. This is a weird ass match. It was a weird ass situation in general. Watching Batista whip poor, fat, old Vader with a belt while Vader basically cowers brings a tear to my eye. A TEAR TO MY EYE!

Gregory Helms vs Billy Kidman (WWE SmackDown! #98 - July 5, 2001)

Scott Hudson and Arn Anderson are on commentary, as they were for the ill-fated Booker T vs Buff Bagwell WCW world title match on the prior RAW, which pretty much killed the idea of WCW carrying its own show dead, dead, dead. This is for Helms' WCW cruiserweight title, and Kidman is still wearing his A-shirt and black jorts.

It's worth noting that the WWF's new WCW logo was pretty terrible, though not as bad as the final official WCW logo before the buyout. They really should have just gone back to the WCW logo that people recognized from WCW's prime years, but that might have helped them succeed, and I don't think that was really ever in the plans. I mean, I think it was, but deep down, I just can't imagine a scenario where Vince made WCW look strong. He never even did it with guys he purposely and excitedly brought over from WCW. Big Show, Jericho, basically anyone else had to go through a breakdown period at first, so that it didn't look like their WCW achievements prepared them for the big time of the WWF. Show and Jericho obviously wound up having phenomenal success in WWE, and both are still with the company in 2014, 15 years after they came over from WCW, but their early days were rocky, because McMahon had to feel like he'd "built" them, not that WCW did.

Plus, to be entirely fair, when WCW died in 2001, its audience had mostly abandoned it, and the WWF audience had been taught -- and been proven correct for the last two years and change -- that WCW was an inferior, crappy wrestling company. It would have taken a lot to make the invasion angle work the way we would have liked as fans. I think that gets overlooked when we discuss the dreadful failure of the story. There was no way that guys like Sting, Goldberg, Nash, etc., were going to take pennies on the dollar to leave guaranteed money from Time Warner AOL to sit at home, so that they could go wrestle for the WWF. DDP did, but DDP is a psycho in a good way, and then they buried DDP as soon as they could, anyway. Booker T had to be chopped down a bit and rebuilt, though he did get to work with top guys right off, at least.

But being totally honest, did any of us really see Page and Booker and Bagwell and whatnot as being on the level of Austin, Rock, Angle, Taker, even Kane? No. The WCW that would have made for an amazing invasion angle had long since been brutally destroyed by its own incompetence and terrible ideas. 2001 was not 1997. So much changed in those four years that it's unbelievable, looking back on it. We'll probably never see anything like that again.

Anyway, X-Pac is watching backstage. Arn Anderson was great on the mic, but he wasn't a good commentator. Too soft-spoken -- if ever a team needed a loud, dumb third guy, it was the highly rational Scott Hudson and Arn Anderson.

This is another pretty OK match, with Helms and Kidman busting ass to look good for the new audience. Kidman wins to win the title because he's slightly more famous than Helms and they needed Kidman to lose to X-Pac.

Kanyon vs Raven vs Saturn (WCW Road Wild 1998)

A pretty illogical and stupid three-way match, which is a lot of three-way matches, but this one also dies with no crowd noise from the bikers and other assorted riff-raff in Sturgis, who were there to see Jay Leno and Hulk Hogan and Goldberg, probably in that order. Falls count anywhere in the entire city of Sturgis.

They take the fight to the entrance way and stage, which is done to look like it's a road, and Tony decides it's actually asphalt. Moving asphalt.

There's effort and some cool stuff in here, but it's pretty bad. I thought maybe this match would seem better now. No.

Also, I want to mention that in 1998, WCW was still pretty hot business-wise, but y'all, the wheels were falling the hell off. By this point, they were putting on a lot of really bad pay-per-view shows. This one sucked, Bash at the Beach had sucked, Fall Brawl sucked even worse. '98 WCW was a bigger mess than we realized at the time, and at the time, it certainly felt like a mess. Everything from Starrcade '97 and on for WCW just contributed to the death of the company. It was like a big pool of standing water for 1998, and then after that, it started getting really gross.

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