WHAT HAPPENED WHEN MONDAY WITH TONY SCHIAVONE & CONRAD THOMPSON
Episode 14: WCW Uncensored 1995
Release Date: May 1st, 2017
Recap by: Dominic DeAngelo
Top Newsworthy Items:
- The Renegade
- Drawing blood and the firing of Mike Graham, Dustin Rhodes and Barry Darsow
- Vince’s “Shut down WCW” letter
- Uncensored 1995’s a successful clusterf**k
Subjects covered (with timestamps)
(7:25) WCW Superbrawl V
(12:05) Rumors of Road Warriors & the new Four Horsemen
(16:50) Jimmy Hart
(21:10) Corporate shake-up
(25:40) 10 PPVs a year – good idea?
(27:00) PPV pricing
(30:45) Meltzer polls
(36:30) Gene Okerlund’s absence & Steve Austin in a dark match
(40:05) The Renegade’s WCW start
(47:00) The Renegade’s backstage demeanor
(49:00) Tony’s live commentary starts
(52:45) Dustin Rhodes vs. Blacktop Bully coverage
(1:07:18) Mike Graham’s blood controversy
(1:10:35) Meng vs. Jim Duggan
(1:27:25) Avalanche vs. Randy Savage
(1:31:55) Bubba Rogers vs. Sting
(1:34:45) Harlem Heat vs. Nasty Boys
(1:44:15) Craig Leathers & Vince McMahon sending the letter to WCW
(1:47:45) Hogan vs. Vader
(1:53:00) Next week’s poll
(7:25) Conrad sets the stage: on the heels of Superbrawl ’95, which had Hogan vs. Vader drew a legit sell-out. It was the third largest gate in the history of the company. DQ finish, but Meltzer gave it 3 1/4 stars. They planned for blood on both of them, but they went to plan B. Tony was confident Hogan would draw big money and he knew Vader was a legit big man. Lots of promotion, including an ad on Richard Petty’s car. Kyle Petty, Richard’s son, calls them “WWF.” Nothing you can do except remind them that we are WCW.
(12:05) Return of the Road Warriors versus the New Four Horsemen, which was speculated to include Steve Austin, Vader, Dustin Rhodes, Tully Blanchard, and even Curt Hennig. Tony said there was always talks about guys like that being discussed as new members to reestablish the Horsemen. The Horsemen were a big brand for WCW. Flair quits over the booking, supposedly hot over the booking with Hogan and Savage. Meltzer surmised that Flair and Hogan want to relive the glory days of the ’80s, but cooler heads did prevail. Tony knew Hogan’s booking power would be a problem and they had to come to some sort of compromise because things obviously worked out.
(16:50) Tony thinks Jimmy Hart should still be working in the WWE. The gimmicks and music got better when he worked for WCW. Nobody works harder than him. When Jimmy Hart came in with Hogan, his contributions made it a bigger deal. Every new character and established act all had their new music. Jimmy Hart knew that music was extremely important. Conrad met Jimmy and says he is a natural at PR – he gives you way more than you expect. Jimmy is exactly what you want him to be when you meet him. Tony says he has a property in Daytona Beach and they should do a Bash At The Beach podcast. Tony thinks Jimmy is mad at him though. Jimmy was trying to get back into wrestling after WCW went down. Tony started working with the XWF, but Jimmy wanted him to work for another promotion. Cox Media group told him no more wrestling, so maybe he has heat with him. Conrad doesn’t think so.
(21:10) There was a corporate shake-up. Harvey Schiller was now the chief overseer of WCW. He replaces Bill Shaw. Rumor has it Schiller isn’t much of an overseer, which gives Bischoff a little more creative control but with a family-friendly focus. Good move? It had people nervous, Bill Shaw was very appreciated and well liked – was the guy who was responsible for JR leaving and giving Bischoff control. Tony loved the straight-talk of Schiller though. With the product becoming more kid friendly, Heenan and Tony would live rib by continually announcing that it was “Uncensored” on the air.
(25:40) Tony thought doing 10 PPVs a year was a smart move. Bischoff wanted to get rid of the house shows. Even though the expenditures of PPVs were more expensive it was worth it.
(27:00) A WCW pay-per-view cost $27.50 before the day of the show and a $5 increase the day of. Tony thinks they shouldn’t have had different prices for the shows. Just make it one flat price the entire time.
(30:45) 9.6% Thumbs up 85.3% thumbs down. 5.2% in the middle. Tony said thumbs down before the event even started. Uncensored was not uncensored. Lots of entertaining things but thumbs down. Best match was Harlem Heat vs. Nasty Boys. Worst match was Jim Duggan vs. Meng. Why Tupelo, MI? Tony said it was brand new venue and was a pretty nice place to hold it. It did a 9.6 buyrate. Hogan was definitely bringing in more buyers. Tony says of course he was. It would make it the biggest money show in company history.
(36:30) Gene Okerlund misses the show due to kidney replacement surgery. Mike Tenay was doing all the backstage interviews. Steve Austin wrestles in a dark match in a 1:27 match. Tony is disgusted by this fact. A year later Austin would be in the WWF, but here he was in a dark match. Vader comes out with Jimmy Hart’s jacket saying he “disappeared.” There was an “ultimate surprise” of the Road Warriors being in Hogan’s corner, they then tried for Ultimate Warrior, but he wanted $2.5 million. WCW balked at that.
(40:05) The Renegade grew up in rural Georgia and received minimal training in wrestling. He moved to Boston and worked a stripper show called “Men In Motion”, and met a man named Dick Bern. Bern wants to book him in a Tarzan-like gimmick named Rio Lord of The Jungle. They book him in short matches due to his lack of wrestling skill. This was in 1992. So in 1995, Renegade was called in to work the Uncensored show despite not wanting to mimic the Ultimate Warrior’s gimmick, but WCW plays it off like he is Jim Hellwig. Tony said Warrior and Hogan at WrestleMania 6 had a very good match. He didn’t see this move as a way of revenge to get back at Warrior. Tony didn’t know that, but he thinks Dick Bern was right in not wanting to rip-off the Warrior gimmick. Conrad asks why there is so little creativity in WCW? Tony thought that WCW recycling these gimmicks was a way to build off the old days. He didn’t agree with it, but that’s what they did and that’s why WCW eventually went under.
(47:00) Tony says Renegade was a very nice, quiet young man and was in a tough spot to turn down $150K a year, but Tony had no problems with him.
(49:00) Tony and Conrad start the live PPV commentary of Uncensored 1995.
(52:45) Dustin Rhodes vs. Blacktop Bully (Barry Darsow) – Mike Graham, the agent for the match, didn’t know there was no blood allowed. Due to this, three very good performers got fired. David Crockett was responsible for all the equipment and props. Who’s idea was it to wrestle in a trailer truck and blow the horn to win the match? Tony didn’t know. Terry Taylor was driving the truck apparently.
(1:01:00) This match seemed like a great departure from Crockett Promotions. The expenditures were ridiculous but David Crockett was a trooper and up for the challenge. Tony says you have to give props to the editing crew. Conrad says without this match, Dustin turning into Goldust would not exist. Tony just thinks Vince was trying to dig into the Rhodes family.
(1:07:18) Conrad brings up the Mike Graham blood controversy with him, Dustin and Barry all getting fired. It was rumored that the firings were just to cut costs and that’s what the boys thought. Tony does credit the PPV for having good video packages. He thought that it brought a big deal to every match.
(1:10:35) Meng may be Tony’s favorite wrestlers ever. Tony said if he ever had Bischoff’s job of running the company, he would have brought Meng everywhere he goes. Conrad jokes that when you think of martial arts you think of Jim Duggan.
(1:22:20) Meltzer called the Duggan vs. Meng match one of the worst matches of all time. Negative 2 1/2 stars. Next was Johnny B. Badd vs. Arn Anderson in a boxer versus wrestler match. Meltzer called it “entertaining” and gave it 2 1/2 stars. Arn made this chicken salad. Arn wore a bucket on his head in this match (they called him “bucket head” backstage and he did it in good nature). Arn called Flair “Beak.” They called J.J. Dillion “Johnny Bench” because he could hold seven baseballs in one hand. What about the nickname “minnow bucket?” Arn always said that J.J. Dillion had a scrotum the size of a minnow bucket. That’s why Tony never changed in the dressing room.
(1:27:25) Conrad says to turn to 1:06:44 on the Network, bringing you to Avalanche vs. Randy Savage.
(1:31:55) Bubba Rogers vs. Sting – Sting blew out his knee early in the match. Rogers gets an upset win. Meltzer gives it 2 1/2 stars. Sting was getting pushed down the card even though he should have been “the ultimate surprise” for Hogan. Tony said Bubba could take some hellish bumps as a big guy.
(1:34:45) Conrad prompts you to turn to 1:37:36 on the WWE Network for Tony to commentate on Harlem Heat vs. The Nasty Boys.
(1:44:15) Tony says it was a horrible PPV but a lot of fun. Tony says Craig Leathers was the director, but a lot of guys would make up the finish. Meltzer gave it 2 1/2 stars. It was fun for what it was. Tony made an inside comment on-air that was in regards to Vince McMahon sending a letter to Ted Turner to either “clean up or shut down the company.” Tony said he loves Vince and Linda, but Vince sending the letters was flimsy-ass BS.
(1:47:45) Hogan vs. Vader in a strap match. Flair was in Vader’s corner and Renegade was in Hogan’s. A masked man came out and hit Renegade with a chair. Hogan won the match using Flair to touch all corners. A real booking mess but Meltzer gave it 3 1/2 stars. He says the camera crew missed a lot of shots, but there were some entertaining parts of the match. This show drew a lot of money.
(1:53:00) Next week’s poll: Less than great events in 1996! (1) SuperBrawl VI (2) Uncensored 1996 (3) Hog Wild 1996 (4) World War 3 1996
Score and review (8.2)
If you’re big on the live commentary aspect of WHW, this episode has it. Tony and Conrad both sound like they’re loving the sheer ridiculousness of it all. The factoids aren’t too noteworthy for this event, but if you’re looking to be entertained (which if not, why are you listening?) then their coverage of Uncensored 1995 certainly has that in spades. You can tell Tony absolutely loves doing these podcasts, which in turn makes it fun for the listeners.
About the Author
Dominic DeAngelo has a weekly column on PWTorch.com, “Rising Star, Fading Star” and runs a sports, entertainment, and lifestyle blog in the Pittsburgh area called The Keystone Statement. In addition, he writes book reviews for The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. His wrestling top three are Scott Hall, Bret Hart & Bruno Sammartino. Follow him on Twitter @DominicDeAngelo and visit his site www.keystonestatement.com
If you missed it, check out last week’s recap of What Happened When.