This past Sunday was WWE’s fifteenth annual pay-per-view dedicated to anything-goes hardcore wrestling. Originally called One Night Stand, it was officially renamed in 2009 to “Extreme Rules”, which better conveyed the event’s theme while also sounding really dumb.
In practice, Extreme Rules is just like any other pay-per-view but with a few more gimmick matches than usual – an underwhelming concept that WWE was beaten to by WCW by more than a decade.
WCW put on Uncensored in March 1995. While tame by today’s standards, Uncensored was also tame by 1995’s standards.
And it wasn’t too original, either. The company promoted the pay-per-view with the motto, “Unsanctioned. Unauthorized. Unbelievable”, which bore a striking resemblance to the motto that Randy Savage and the rest of the WWF announcers had repeated every week on Monday Night Raw just two years earlier.
Here’s a handy Venn diagram to sum up the two shows:
The WWF later aired a “Billionaire Ted” sketch alluding to the perceived plagiarism.
One idea of WCW’s that no other wrestling company had ever done (because it was so stupid) was the King of the Road match, which opened the pay-per-view.
In the King of the Road match, The Blacktop Bully (Barry Darsow) wrestled Dustin Rhodes over the rights to a full 10-letter “KING OF ROAD” license plate.
Or maybe that was The Adventures of Pete & Pete.
Anyway, the object of the match was to climb over bales and bales of hay to ring a horn.
Oh, and did I mention it took place on the back of a tractor trailer?
Or that you couldn’t see a damned thing? To avoid showing blood on camera, WCW had to literally edit the daylights out of the match…
…often using footage from alternate camera angles that was too dark to have made it to air otherwise.
It didn’t help that the tractor trailer was moving during all of this, making turns around the Tupelo countryside and stopping only for the occasional church bus.
It also didn’t help that the match was filmed in the waning hours of the day (that day being Saturday; the sun would have set two minutes into the match had it taken place live on Sunday night).
If viewers couldn’t tell already, a disclaimer in microscopic lettering during the end credits acknowledged that “portions of this program have been pre-recorded”.
“This is uncensored!” the announcers reminded us as WCW switched to a wide camera shot to hide all the blood.
After an excruciating thirteen minutes, Blacktop Bully rang the horn to win the match, but it was a pyrrhic victory; the next day, he was fired, along with producer Mike Graham…
…and opponent Dustin Rhodes, who didn’t even get to keep his KING O FROD license plate as a consolation prize.
Now, you couldn’t have a wrestling show called “Uncensored” in the 1990s without Steve Austin.
He beat Tim Horner on the pre-show.
Anyway, the second match on the card was a “Martial Arts Match” that marked the WCW pay-per-view debut of Meng.
Before he wrestled an official WCW match, Meng (the former Haku of the WWF) had served as Col. Parker’s bodyguard and was billed as a master of “over nine different forms of martial arts”.
So, ten martial arts. If he had known over ten, they would have said, “over ten”.
The announcers were all astounded at how well Parker’s bodyguard Meng had transitioned into a wrestler in just a few short weeks. That included Tony Schiavone, who had commentated many of Meng’s matches in 1989…
…and Bobby Heenan, who had managed Meng for four years.
This Martial Arts match was not the first time that Jim Duggan and Tonga Fifita had faced off, but it was certainly the first time that “Jim Duggan” and “arts” had been used in the same sentence.
Duggan didn’t think too highly of the martial arts, refusing for the longest time to even *bow* in a way that wasn’t suggestive as hell.
And what martial art was used in this match? The one with all the punching, nerveholds, and occasional stray boot. Hacksaw took off both his boots throughout the course of the match and even whacked Meng in the toes with one of them. What Duggan never tried, though, was to do the same move but with his foot actually *in* the boot. Gene LeBell called it a “stomp”.
It turned out, a martial arts match was just the same as a regular match except referee Sonny Onoo counted with his fingers instead of hitting the mat.
The Boxer vs. Wrestler match somehow included *more* wrestling holds than the previous match, despite one of its competitors having to wear boxing gloves. The match ended when Johnny B Badd knocked out Arn Anderson, who had wound up with a bucket on his head…
…as tends to happen in these kinds of matches.
The next match pitted John “Avalanche” Tenta against Randy Savage, both of whom had competed at Wrestlemania X, 364 days prior.
The Macho Man certainly had his work cut out for him with the colossal Avalanche, who squashed him so hard that Savage broke wind uncontrollably.
Just when it seemed Randy could eke out a win, a woman came out of the audience and attacked Randy Savage.
After getting in some stomps and signature chops, the lady revealed herself to be Ric Flair. Since this was an unsanctioned event, Flair shouldn’t have had to worry about getting fined for interference, which makes you wonder why he dressed up in women’s clothes in the first place.
Tony Schiavone reminded the viewers that, as part of this no-rules Uncensored pay-per-view, the match would continue despite Flair’s blatant interference.
Hulk Hogan then ran in to make the save, and Randy Savage was awarded the match by disqualification.
“If Flair will put on a dress and a wig and padded bra or high heels,” wondered Bobby Heenan, what would he and Vader do to Hulk Hogan? If the massive Vader could pin the Hulkster down long enough, my guess would be collagen injections and maybe a teddy.
Sting vs. Big Bubba Rogers opened with Sting playing keep-away with Bubba’s favorite hat, leading to perhaps the silliest leg drop in Stinger’s whole career.
By the time Sting removed Bubba’s tie and tore open his shirt, Bobby Heenan could see total nudity on the horizon. Do you think WCW would have stuck to their word and aired it uncensored? Fortunately, Rogers picked up the victory before we got to see his big bubba.
One of the few matches on the original Uncensored card to live up to the “no rules” theme was the Nasty Boys vs. Harlem Heat. Contested under Texas Tornado rules, not only could all four men be in the ring at once, but falls would count anywhere.
Brian Knobbs promised to beat the Harlem Heat “Texas Tornado style in Tucson”.
Given that the match was set to begin in Tupelo, Mississippi, WCW really wasn’t kidding about falls counting anywhere.
The match spilled over to a conspicuously placed, deserted concession stand, where the Nastys engaged in a mustard fight with their opponents.
Now where had we seen that before?
At one point, Stevie Ray used a tray of cotton candy to… smother Jerry Sags?
Brian Knobbs even executed a senton (sentón being Spanish for “pratfall”). Naturally, the floor had gotten just a bit slick in the food fight.
Knobs wound up scoring a pinfall off camera, ending the match…
…but that didn’t stop Sags from pushing Sherri like a jerk-ass for good measure.
Uncensored’s main attraction was a non-title strap match between World Champion Hulk Hogan and US Champion Big Van Vader.
Backstage, Vader vowed to make Hulk Hogan pay for his “stupidity”. He was flanked by Ric Flair, who cut a promo still wearing mascara and red finger nail polish that he couldn’t figure out how to get rid of.
To even the odds, the Hulkster had recruited a mystery man he dubbed, “The Ultimate Surprise” and said for weeks that fans would freak out when they saw him…
…and possibly hold their noses, because he apparently stunk to high heaven. Minutes before the pay-per-view, after the imaginations of fans all over the world had run wild (well, not so much run “wild” as run “in a straight line to The Ultimate Warrior”)…
…and more importantly, after all the pay-per-view orders had been called in, Hogan fired up the fog machine to reveal his secret weapon…
…whom Tony Schiavone appropriately dubbed, “A guy named Renegade”.
Now, it was an odd move for WCW, for a show that was supposedly totally unsanctioned, to hire Michael Buffer to announce the main event…
…and an even odder move to have him inform the crowd that this totally unsanctioned match was sanctioned by both the WCW Board of Directors and the Mississippi Athletic Commission.
Hogan started out the match at a 2-on-1 disadvantage until some suspiciously similar music hit and Renegade ran to the ring. Now, it didn’t sound exactly like Ultimate Warrior’s theme, especially since it skipped all over the place about 20 seconds in.
Hogan’s manager Jimmy Hart, who had gone missing earlier in the night, showed up to ringside with his clothes torn – but only partially. Um, Mr. Heenan, I believe we were promised nudity?
Vader and Flair were tied together with a leather strap in this match, which could only be won when one man dragged the other around the ring and touched all four corners. Hogan took the unorthodox route of touching the posts from the outside of the ring, but that was nothing compared to how he won the match.
After deciding he was done selling offense for the night, Hogan got a second wind, popping up off the canvas and hitting the big boot (pronounced, as always, to rhyme with “foot”) and leg drop…
…and trying to drag Vader around the ring to win the match.
He was interrupted by a masked man and Ric Flair.
Vader then dragged Hogan to three corners, but he too was interrupted by Flair, who insisted Vader splash him. It was a dumb idea.
Vader thought it was a dumb idea, too, so he one-upped Flair with an even dumber idea. Whatever the hell this roll was supposed to be, it missed.
Flair hit Hogan with a chair, but Hulk decided he was *really* done selling for the night…
…getting his third wind and hitting a big boot on Flair.
The Hulkster proceeded to drag the retired Ric Flair, who was famously not Big Van Vader, around the ring to touch all four corners.
For whatever reason, there was no referee in this match, so the decision was apparently up to the timekeeper. He decided that what Hogan did was good enough and rang the bell.
Remember, the rules stated that one had to drag one’s *opponent* around the ring to win the match. But also remember that there were no rules at WCW Uncensored. So this counted, I guess.
The masked man from earlier in the match rushed to ringside with a chair, but the ever-observant Tony Schiavone called him “another masked man”, spoiling the swerve.
Surprise of surprises, it was indeed a different guy underneath the mask, as a tied-up Arn Anderson (the first masked man) waddled out in a Talasana pose.
The other masked man took out Flair and Vader and unmasked himself as Randy Savage…
…whom Hogan had presciently supplied with an all-black get-up.
The “Monster Maniacs” celebrated to close out the first annual Uncensored pay-per-view. Yes, I said “annual”, because WCW would put on Uncensored every year until it folded.
I suppose that since their first uncensored, unsanctioned pay-per-view opened with a match that was censored and ended with a match that was sanctioned, WCW just had to keep trying until they got it right.