Not sure if I’ve ever mentioned it, but I’m not a big fan of what I call “garbage” wrestling. I have no problem with the odd chair being brought into the ring, or a ring bell here and there, but anything more than that, to me, is just a bit silly. Not that wrestling itself isn’t silly; after all, how could you continually punch a guy in the face, drop elbows on his face, and then pile drive him and not only will the guy get back up, but continue to fight?
Still, there is something to be said for some suspension of disbelief. So when foreign objects get brought into the ring, well, I like them to be not TOO foreign. For instance, a chair has a place at ringside. People have to sit there, you know. And a table, well, I guess that makes sense. (Though, come to think of it, I don’t know why you need like six of them under the ring. If your tables are that faulty, you should probably find a new manufacturer.) Anything beyond that, though…does it really make sense in the grand scheme of things?
I’ve rambled long enough – you get the point. I don’t like a bunch of other crap in wrestling that doesn’t make sense to be there. My main reason is that with each succeeding item brought in, fans are looking for what’s next. You bring in a chair, they want tables. You bring in tables, you want fire. Don’t believe me? Watch the next TNA PPV.
Or the last one.
And really, when you have to bring something like fire into the ring, to me that’s pretty much the definition of lazy booking. When you can’t create a match that fans want to see without the competitors setting each other ABLAZE, I think we can all agree that there’s a problem. Of course, there were problems aplenty in WCW in the year 2000, so it’s almost not a shock that the braintrust came up with something they dubbed “The Human Torch Match” at the 2000 Great American Bash.
The Bash historically was a mixed bag. The 1989 version, featuring Ric Flair versus Terry Funk, is considered a high water mark in wrestling history. The 1991 Bash, the first WCW show without Ric Flair, is almost universally called the worst show ever. And while I’m not sure if it actually surpasses the ’91 one, the 2000 Bash was pretty damn bad too. Not only did it feature the bout we’ll be discussing today, but stuff like GI Bro, Vince Russo in a starring role, and the heel turn of Bill Goldberg. You could argue that we could induct the whole darn thing, but realistically, I want to be able to spend a little more time on this Human Torch dealy (and thus also give me plenty of space for discussing other items on the show in similarly sized fashion in the future).
After all, it’s not everyday that I get to write about wrestling involving FIRE.
So Vampiro and Sting had been feuding for a while. So far, so good, right? Two good wrestlers, and if you put them face to face, it would look like a natural match up. The two had actually been paired up for quite some time (with Vampiro almost always doing the job), so the Bash looked to be the final bout between the two. And if we were to believe WCW, there would never be a hotter match anywhere.
Unfortunately, they meant literally.
See, the build up was that Vampiro wanted Sting to burn. He demonstrated this desire by trying to put our hero’s greasepainted mug in a burning trash can and then challenging him to the world’s first ever HUMAN TORCH MATCH, a bout in which the winner would light the loser up like a Fourth of July sparkler.
But little did Vampiro know that Sting also had a darkside. For once the bout started, it was Sting whose fire burned first.
A fire, I should mention, that appeared to be coming from a Coleman lantern.
Maybe he thought he could patch thing up with Vamp over some S’mores.
Vamp would have none of that, though, and the two proceeded to have a wrestling match. Really. With body slams, clotheslines, the whole deal.
But hey, who wants that, right?
WE WANT FIRE!
WE WANT FIRE!
So Vampiro pulled out a small red can and proceeded to douse the Stinger.
I guess when your dumping gasoline on a dude’s head, you really don’t need a giant can, or a gas pump at ringside or anything, but seeing a can that sits in my garage and fuels my mower just kinda took something away from the severity of this situation.
Sting sold this fluid as though he’d been hit in the head with an anvil (either the thing you hit with a hammer, or Jim Neidhart – take your pick). Seriously, Vamp had to drag him up the ramp so we could continue the stupidity…
…at the entrance stage. And then, because the match wasn’t quite dumb enough, Vampiro started climbing the Nitrotron or whatever it was called.
And just for the record, I’m guessing it wasn’t called “Nitrotron” because that’s at least somewhat clever and as anyone who watched WCW during this period could tell you, WCW was anything but clever so they probably called it ‘The Giant Screen’ or something.
Laugh if you want (and I understand if you don’t, it wasn’t that good a joke), but this is the same company that promoted matches for a title belt called, and I quote, “The Big Gold Belt”, so the precedent is there.
So the guys start climbing. And climbing. And sure enough, Tony calls it THE GIANT SCREEN.
And I swear I did NOT write that joke before he actually said it.
As Bryan often told me a hundred times when we were working on Death of WCW, when writing about WCW, the jokes just write themselves.
Anyway, they’re climbing and Vampiro knocks Sting off!
Oh wait. This being WCW, they immediately cut to an angle wherein you saw that Sting landed safely on a stuntman’s crash pad. And then Sting, showing no ill effect, simply got up got up like he was getting out of bed in the morning.
The jokes just write themselves, folks.
So up The Giant Screen the Stinger goes, following Vampiro. They got up to the top and we got a nutty STROBE LIGHT EFFECT, followed by both men DISAPPEARING. Yes, they simply VANISHED.
And then they reappeared.
And then they vanished again.
And then they reappeared again.
And then they vanished again.
And then they reappeared again.
We hadn’t seen magic like this since the heyday of the Black Scorpion.
You know, the jokes just wri…ah, the hell with it.
The “match” (heh heh…match) came to an end when Vampiro lit Sting on fire atop The Giant Screen, but not before Sting gained about 50 pounds. Well, that or they just replaced Sting with a stuntman and set him on fire. Regardless, “Sting” jumped off the scaffold and landed on, yep, another stunt pad.
Hey, look – I gots no problem with having a stuntman doing this instead of a wrestler. I do, however, have a problem with doing something like this in the first place.
The EMTs then proceeded to put “Sting” on a stretcher and as he was being wheeled away, continued to spray him with fire extinguishers for approximately five minutes.
I wouldn’t think that coating the guy’s lung with whatever the hell is in a fire extinguisher would be good for him, but then again, I was never a member of the crack WCW medical crew so who am I to say?
Cut to Tony Schiavone, who villified Vampiro for lighting Sting on fire. Not sure why he would be so offended, since that was the stip as to how you WON THE MATCH.
Oh wait, Tony actually explained it – see, when they were promoting that a man would be set on fire, Tony thought it would be something minor, like a LEG or an ARM. I guess those aren’t important extremities. Don’t ask me. Ask Tony.
Anyhoo, the sound guys weren’t offended, as they played Vamp’s theme music as Sting was carted off.
In the end, the sole voice of reason was Scott Hudson, who stated following the match, “this is just not wrestling anymore.”
And less than a year later, WCW wouldn’t be wrestling anymore, either, the promotion itself having gone down in flames.
Somehow that just seems appropriate.
Tony Schiavone: “Vampiro climbing now the grid surrounding THE GIANT SCREEN.”
Tony Schiavone: “When we talked about setting a man on fire, I thought well maybe, hopefully, his leg will get on fire, his boot will get on fire, his arm or something.”