As those of you who’ve read Death of WCW know, Ted Turner’s wrestling company in 2000 was a very confusing place. Regimes were changing on a nearly weekly basis, wrestlers were leaving as fast as possible; all of which led to storylines that made zero sense to the fans sitting at home. Factor in bookers who liked to make things needlessly complex, and it was a recipe for disaster.
Call me old fashioned, but I like wrestling matches simple. To me, that’s always been a part of the beauty of wrestling: the fact that even the dumbest biped walking the planet can understand the rules. And when you have two really good wrestlers in the ring, they can make magic just by abiding those guidelines.
Despite the fact that during this period WCW was falling apart, they did maintain a roster of very capable performers. In fact, at the beginning of 2000, they may have been the one thing they held over the WWF. Guys like Rey Mysterio, Chris Benoit, Eddy Guerrero, Psychosis…they made up a core group of wrestlers that virtually guaranteed fans great matches no matter how bad things were elsewhere in the company.
And at Souled Out 2000, that seemed to be the case as well. Billy Kidman, one of the best young workers in the company, was scheduled to wrestle no less than three times, taking on Dean Malenko, Perry Saturn, and the Wall. Eh, two out of three isn’t bad. Besides, the match with Malenko was sure to be a classic.
Except for one little thing: this wasn’t any old match. This was a “Catch as Catch Can” match, with the stips being that if a man’s feet touched the arena floor, he lost. You might want to remember that.
Because one of the participants didn’t.
The bout started out as expected: that is, awesome. The two worked various holds, and things were moving along at a blistering pace.
After a missed Kidman dropkick, Dean went on the offensive, scissoring Kidman’s leg and working into a front face lock. That didn’t last long however, as Kidman worked his way loose, and started pounding on Malenko’s face. At this point, the crowd was really getting into it, and it looked as though a ****+ classic was well within reach.
But then Malenko rolled to the floor…and that was that.
Remember? The rules were if your feet touched the floor, you LOST.
Malenko, not even aware of his miscue, simply climbed back into the ring, and began to circle Kidman. Suddenly, though, the bell rang, as everyone from Malenko to Kidman to the fans at ringside looked on totally confused.
To their credit, the announcers on the PPV were quick to point out exactly what happened. Perhaps they should have told Malenko, because he appeared to have no clue as to why the bell had rung. In fact, he looked totally befuddled before he finally had a conference with referee Charles Robinson, who explained the situation.
Here’s a quick rule of thumb for future bookers: when you make matches so complicated that you need to explain the rules of wrestling to DEAN FREAKIN’ MALENKO, you may want to dumb things down a bit.
Kidman looked equally thrilled with his “victory,” motoring out of the arena as fast as he could. Or maybe he was just thinking about the water-to-wine level miracle he’d need later in the evening in his cage match with The Wall.
Still, Souled Out 2000 wasn’t a total bust. After all, the main event featured Chris Benoit finally winning the WCW World Title over Sid Vicious.
Of course, that reign lasted one full day before Benoit, along with Guerrero, Saturn, and Malenko, fled WCW for the WWF, running as fast as their feet could carry them.
Hmmm…maybe Dean didn’t screw up in his match.
Perhaps he was just looking to take off as fast as he could.