In the world of wrestling, worked boxing matches always suck.
They sucked when Roddy Piper fought Mr. T…
…and they sucked when Scotty Flamingo fought Johnny B Badd.
You know what else in wrestling always sucks? Shoot boxing matches with wrestling thrown into the mix.
They sucked when Muhammad Ali fought Antonio Inoki…
…and they sucked when 16 undercard wrestlers fought in 15 Brawl-For-All matches on Raw…
…and they really sucked when Bart Gunn fought Butterbean (at least if you were Bart).
And do I even need to explain how much it sucks when a wrestling promotion hosts a worked boxing match and then throws wrestling into the mix with absolutely no explanation?
No, I do not. But I already wrote about it for this week’s induction, so you might as well read it.
The year: 1999. The promotion: World Championship Wrestling. The writers: probably stoned out of their minds.
Now, at this time, Roddy Piper was Vice President and Commissioner of WCW and was aligned with Ric Flair, the President following a convoluted series of matches and power shifts.
Also around this time, famed gigolo and then-professional wrestler Buff Bagwell had taken exception to President Flair for not putting him in main events. Oh, and also for bragging about having sex with Buff’s girlfriend and nearly dying on top of her.
Curiously, Vice Presidential Commissioner Piper announced that at Bash at the Beach, he himself would square off with Bagwell.
One can only assume that Ric Flair had yet to be medically cleared following his mid-coital cardiac arrest.
Always having his finger on the pulse of the audience, Hot Rod announced that said bout would be a boxing match.
The same fans who booed the Ernest Miller-Jerry Flynn kickboxing match out of the building just minutes earlier now got to look forward to a potential half-hour of basically the same thing, minus the kicks.
Fortunately, one of WCW’s many other authority figures, JJ Dillon, was really on the ball that night, cutting in just seconds after Piper first made the match to announce the bout’s new special referee: the star of the Judge Mills Lane Show, America’s Judge, Judge Mills Lane.
The referee of the infamous Tyson-Holyfield fight was so adamant about laying down the law that he forgot what state it was supposed to take place in. Ah, the wonders of live television…
…except they played the exact same clip at Bash at the Beach, six days later, without bothering to edit out the gaffe. Ah, the wonders of World Championship Wrestling.
Fortunately, by Sunday Mills had figured out precisely which coast he was supposed to fly to, arriving in Ft. Lauderdale in time for the fight.
Factor in Michael Buffer, who was in the house to introduce the participants, and this match was practically Tyson-Holyfield III. All that was missing was Tyson and Holyfield.
Age-wise, this was a mismatch, Roddy Piper sporting an artificial hip while Buff Bagwell still had all his original body parts, those calf implants he had put in for a week in 1995 notwithstanding.
Skills-wise, Piper was the favorite, having won the Golden Gloves in his youth, but Bagwell did have some amateur boxing experience of his own, so if any of you gamblers out there plunked down cash in Vegas hoping that Buff would go down, you should have waited until 2014.
But trainer-wise, Piper had the clear advantage, bringing Ric Flair to the ring for the bout. So in one corner, you had one bona fide wrestling legend being seconded by another bona fide wrestling legend.
In the other corner, you had a male stripper type who dragged his mommy out as his surprise corner-person. Now guess whom WCW wanted the fans to cheer for.
Not that there was much to cheer about anyway, as fans endured two three-minute rounds of aimless punching.
As if the idea of a worked shoot fight weren’t bad enough, the boxing action was devoid of many of the finer techniques of the “sweet science,” namely any kind of attempt to actually block any of the punches.
Between rounds, Flair sprayed alcohol on Piper’s gloves so it would get in Buff’s eyes when he punched him…
…while Judy Bagwell scrubbed down her Marcus with a sponge, a privilege that nowadays would run a woman a few hundred dollars, at least.
At the start of the third round, Roddy attacked Buff before the bell. Fortunately, Bagwell’s mom came to the rescue, first biting Piper’s ear as Mike Tyson had done to Evander Holyfield only weeks earlier.
(106 weeks earlier, to be exact.)
Then, she dumped her water bucket over Roddy’s head, leaving him open for sucker-punch…
…followed by a very un-boxing-like Block Buster and… a pin?
Sure, why not.
Gee, do you think that right about then, JJ Dillon and the unseen Executive Committee regretted shelling out the big bucks for a guest referee to keep order when he couldn’t even be trusted to remember what sport he was officiating?
Or am I missing something in the Marquess of Queensbury rules that this fight was conducted under?
You’d think that a guy who had officiated 102 championship fights in his career would have thought to himself, “Have I ever done this before? Do I normally count pinfalls in boxing matches?”
Afterwards, Bobby Heenan complained that Roddy Piper had been cheated — not because you can’t be pinned in a boxing match, but because Judy Bagwell had interfered.
Nobody seemed the least bit bothered by the fact that a boxing match had ended when one boxer pinned the other.
Nor did anyone point out what a huge deal this victory should have been for Buff Bagwell. Consider this: In the WWF, Jimmy Snuka, Ric Flair, and Bret Hart were the only three men to have pinned Roddy Piper with cameras rolling (and unless you bought Coliseum videos or got the MSG Network, you probably only knew about the WrestleMania match against Hart).
In WCW, that list expanded to include Hulk Hogan and Scott Hall. Still, by 1999, only future Hall of Famers had pinned Piper’s shoulders on TV.
I don’t know what’s worse: the sight of the legendary Ric Flair fleeing from Judy Bagwell as she chased him the entire way around the ring…
Or Roddy Piper, after being protected for the better part of two decades from jobbing to virtually anyone, getting pinned one-two-three to little fanfare…
…thanks to his opponent’s mom…
…in a match — and sport — with no pins.