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[1993-11-13-WCW-Saturday Night] Vader & Steve Austin vs Ric Flair & Arn Anderson

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A very strangely laid out match, but the action is excellent. The hot tag builds are weird, but there is also lots of stuff from these guys you don't normally see. I've talked about this match elsewhere before, so I'm being vague, as I'd rather focus on stuff that's new to me. But it's a very good match worth seeing. It's not a classic, which you might hope for a match involving these four going nearly 30 minutes, but it's very good.

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The action is very good, but it really goes nowhere, I mean literally. At one point past 20 minutes, it's like the match stops, the guys look very tired, especially Vader (even Ventura points it out), and it slowly dies down. That what happens when you book a match 10 minutes too long, even when great workers are involved. Arn Anderson just isn't a very compelling face in peril, and again it shows here, no matter how good he is. So, good action but not much in term of drama, and really the final hot tag that should have been epic just feels "there". Plus the non-ending is totally annoying. Dusty's booking was rotten at this point.

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Good God, is that match still going on? I thought that AA face in peril segment was never going to end. The opening was so good with Vader doing his chest bump onto the guardrail and Flair going after him with the chair. I was wicked amped for this match. Once everything settled down, it was still very good as Flair was supplying energy for four. Then they decided to do a 15 minute AA FIP segment. I marked for when Austin did the AA bump by taking AA's knees to gut during the knucklelock. Everything else was really good until the last 7 minutes or so when they ran out of things to do. Could have been a great one.

 

Also, I will say Austin with that look, gimmick and mechanics just reeked midcarder to me. He is one of the few wrestlers whose match quality improved in the WWF. I actually don't blame WCW for not thinking he was not main event material.

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Damn. That first ten minutes of action had me thinking I was witnessing some lost match that went under the radar. Everyone looked great but I was most impressed with Flair. He was than man during this part of match. Taking it right at Vader and chopping the hell out of him. No cowering or looking weak. Ric looks so invigorated and he is play the roll as face perfectly. I also really wanted to see Flair have a feud with that Stunning Steve guy. But the later half of this match was a big step below. Anderson spent way too long of a time as face in peril. Just dragged the energy out of the whole thing.

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Hey, Vader refers to himself as "The Man They Call Vader." I love those little anachronistic historical tidbits. Sid gets laid out before the match at the hands of Vader and the Colossal Kongs, which is quite the serendipitous booking decision to write him out now that that's necessary. Ventura even speculates that his career is over. Ha, Arn is the one helping Sid to the back.

 

For about 20 minutes, this is possibly the WCW TV match of the year, or at minimum the best TV bout since Watts left. But that FIP segment on Arn just goes on...and on...and on. I actually think Arn was a GREAT face in peril--it's just that this match is dragged out to the point where I'm not sure if Ricky Morton could keep it compelling. As a result, they lose the crowd and even to a degree lose the announcers. Speaking of which, more subtle burial of Sid on commentary, as both guys point out various reasons why Flair lucked out by having Arn as his partner instead. So, yeah, Arn is in peril for about 15 minutes it seems--and though there are some great cut-offs and the match is all action until everyone gasses out and the crowd is out of breath, this was just too much for its own good. It's too bad, because with time shaved off and a real ending this would be one of the premier North American bouts of the year.

 

Having said that, there was a lot of awesomeness here--the first 20 minutes are a total fucking war, with joshi-like pacing and a more amped-up version of the Tenryu/Hara match ,but with a bigger setting with more personal grudges. WCW is slowly but surely starting to look like a semi-hot promotion again, strictly in terms of product quality if not business. They're sort of stumbling bass-ackwards into it with Sid's sudden departure, but if you favor results over process there is more and more to like.

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It was not. The finish involved Sid coming back to do a run-in, so it had to be excised completely.

Oh thanks. Been trying to find that out for ages now.

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Since the numbskulls running this company couldn't be bothered to give this match a proper finish, I won't bother myself giving it a proper review. (No, Sid's unseen run-in doesn't count; if he was able to do that, they should have left him in the match and just gone ten minutes instead of thirty, even if they had to bury the match after he was fired.)

 

There's only one thing about this match that I'll acknowledge: Arn's tremendous performance after wrestling a full tag match earlier in the program. That was the point of his FIP segment; not only were Vader and Austin beating him to death in this match, but he'd already wrestled earlier, and not against scrubs. (Well, I know Orndorff wasn't a scrub. Yoshi Kwan I'm not sure about.)

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A really tough match to rank. Some really excellent stuff but like everyone else has said, this went probably ten minutes too long and really petered out in the end. Then you have that frantic sign off and non finish that just forces the viewer to wonder why they invested all of the time into the match only to get that. I did like Arn coming out to help his best friend and interject into the feud with Vader which has some juice right now for Flair. ***1/2

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This is really something. I agree with all the above comments about it being weird, being too long, it's messy, there's not much "psychology" in the defined story or strategy. All four guys are gassed as hell (Vader especially, but consider that Arn/Flair/young Austin are also gassed and Vader has 100+ pounds on all of them). Around the 12-15 minute mark, Flair goes on a huge string of extremely fired up babyface offense and it seems like it's heading to the finish, but then it goes on another 15 minutes. Somehow they never lose the audience despite plenty of miscommunications, sloppiness, and general aimlessness. In some ways this reminds me of a hateful puro tag match from the 80s, but the second half also has Arn/Flair working as the RNR Express. 

 

I don't give star or number rankings to matches I keep track of, I instead use this scale:

 

Skippable (nothing of note or value)

Skippable but interesting (little of note or value but maybe an interesting spot or pairing or some other historical oddity)

Recommended (Unequivocally good and worthy of your time)

Highly Recommended (Absolutely should watch)

 

I would give this a Highly Recommended rating if I was keeping track of it like I was going through the AJPW Archive. It's messy, long, full of flubs or at least weird miscommunications (Flair particularly has multiple times where he doesn't seem to have a good way out of a spot so he literally just falls down, not even the Flair Flop way, he'll clothesline Austin in the corner and then just fall over lmao), it doesn't really have a story in it beyond each side being "fuck you" from start to finish, a lack of a finish. But boy is it engaging and entertaining even in the down spots. I'm trying to imagine anything like this on WWE TV in 1993 or years in either direction. 

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That's basically the "Cornette classic" version of star ratings, minus the slot for 2 stars. :)

To paraphrase: no stars means "totally sucked and wasted your time," one star is "bad but at least there was a nice spot or something," two stars is "fine/about what we expected," three stars is "great," and four means "holy shit, they tore the house down." 

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