When discussing WCW, the "Monday Night War" between Vince McMahon's then-World Wrestling Federation and Ted Turner's World Championship Wrestling usually dominates the majority of most conversations, wouldn't you think? And why wouldn't it? For years, it seemed that nobody would ever come close to being on the same level as the WWE after Vince essentially signed most of the biggest stars away from rival promotions and territories. Sure, there were still some companies around that could do some decent business, but certainly nothing on that top-tier level of the WWE.
It wasn't until some of the big stars, such as Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall moved to WCW that they really became a threat to the WWE. The formation of the nWo and the guaranteed contracts that Ted Turner was handing out left and right made for a more relaxed working environment (for a while, anyway) and people just wanted to be a part of it.
What's sometimes easy to forget is that long before the nWo ever existed and the big money was flying around, WCW really did have some great talent and put on some big shows and big matches that just don't get the publicity of the nWo era. So what I thought I'd do today is take a look at some of those pay-per-views and matches that you may have forgotten about. Trust me, it would be worth your time to hit up the WWE Network and check out some of these classics.
These are listed in chronological order. I'd love to hear your thoughts on how these rank in your book. Feel free to do so in the comments section at the bottom of this page. Enjoy. Here are the 15 hidden gems in WCW you should watch.
17 Lex Luger vs. Ric Flair - Starrcade 1988
16 Chi-Town Rumble 1989
15 Great American Bash 1989
14 The Steiner Brothers vs. Sting & Lex Luger -SuperBrawl
13 WrestleWar 1992
12 Ricky Steamboat vs. Rick Rude - Beach Blast 1992
11 Sting vs. Vader - Starrcade 1992
10 Cactus Jack vs Vader - Halloween Havoc 1993
9 Spring Stampede 1994
8 Starrcade 1995
In an event that more promotions (and by that, I really mean WWE) should try to copy, 1995's Starrcade pay-per-view pitted WCW's best stars against the best wrestlers from New Japan Pro Wrestling in some unbelievable matches in what was called the World Cup of Wrestling. Just to put things in perspective, the match that opened the show was Chris Benoit vs. Jushin Thunder Liger. WCW took four of the seven matches with NJPW, but that wasn't even the entire show.
7 Dean Malenko vs. Ultimo Dragon - Starrcade 1996
Okay, so these last two are into the nWo era...sue me...but they do deserve a mention. While 1996's Starrcade event will be remembered as the event that revived the Hulk Hogan vs. Roddy Piper feud, the opening match that night was the standout. While Rey Mysterio vs. Jushin Thunder Liger two matches later gets a little more attention than this one, I think that this match was the better one. In a title unification match for Malenko's WCW Cruiserweight crown and Ultimo Dragon's J-Crown, which is a unified belt in itself from Japan, the two put on a dizzying display of spots in an extremely underrated match.
5 Chris Jericho vs. Raven - Halloween Havoc 1998
In the midst of this time period, Chris Jericho was growing more and more frustrated with his position in WCW. He had just come off a feud with Goldberg in which WCW opted against giving the two a PPV match. Raven didn't have many great moments in WCW either, but here we had two heels actually getting the crowd into the match. The bout lasted only eight minutes, but the two made every second count, before Jericho retained his Television Championship.
3 Bret Hart Doesn't Doubt El Dandy - Nitro, 1999
Why would this be considered a hidden gem? Well, because Bret Hart wasn't really known for his promos and his tenure in WCW was a complete waste. He did have a couple of shining moments though and here we have him facetiously saying cruiserweight wrestler El Dandy deserved a shot at his United States championship. Hart managed to crack people up as a heel, all while keeping a straight face. If there's one Bret Hart moment worth watching in WCW other than a match, it's this.
2 Spring Stampede 1999
The reason 1999's version of Spring Stampede warrants inclusion on this list as I think it's the last great pay-per-view that WCW ever had. It had everything that made WCW great. There was great cruiserweight action with Rey Mysterio vs. Billy Kidman and Juventud Guerrera vs. Blitzkrieg. Bam Bam Bigelow and Hak (remember that ridiculous name they slapped on The Sandman) had probably the best hardcore match in the company's history.
Three of the four Radicalz that would later invade the WWE took part in WCW's last great tag match when Chris Benoit and Dean Malenko took on Raven and Perry Saturn. Even Scott Steiner versus Booker T was great. And the world was shocked when WCW pulled off one of their great surprises when DDP beat three of the greatest of all time in Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair and Sting in a Four Corners Match to win the World Heavyweight Championship.
1 Scott Steiner vs. Goldberg - Fall Brawl 2000
You wouldn't think that anything WCW did in 2000 would be considered a gem, but here was one match they actually executed properly. You also wouldn't expect Goldberg and Scott Steiner to have amazing chemistry, but against all odds, these two put on an enjoyable match. There was nothing fancy in this bout. It was a straight up brawl, and that's all it needed to be. The match would have been better off without Vince Russo interfering. Steiner eventually won after making Goldberg pass out to the Steiner Recliner, in a match that was much better than anyone would have ever expected.
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