For years, Saturday night at 6:05 was the time for wrestling. Long before any Monday night wars, WCW Saturday Night was wrestling’s flagship show; although by the time Raw and Nitro came around, it was left a shell of its former self. This week in Random Reviews, we’ll be plucking out some matches from the back end of of WCW Saturday Night.

Norman Smiley vs. Chavo Guerrero Jr (WCW Saturday Night, taped January 19, 1999; aired January 30, 1999)
WCW were still using the classic 90s “industrial” staging for Saturday Night at this point, and Norman Smiley hadn’t quite become as fixated on hardcore wrestling as he would do later in the year. This match came around as a continuation of the feud where Smiley ground down Chavo’s mascot Pepe.

Smiley exited the ring as soon as Chavo arrived, but he quickly fell into the path of some chops from Chavo, then a clothesline as the younger Guerrero started like a house on fire. A back suplex gets Chavo a near-fall, before Smiley’s decision to take a break doesn’t pay off, as he returns to the ring to yet more punches from Chavo.

Smiley eventually gets in an offensive move, dropping Chavo with a back suplex, and then again with a spinning powerslam. Chavo goes for a backslide, but Smiley flips out, and connects with a double underhook suplex into a side-slam for a two-count. Smiley’s effort at a dropkick gets nothing but air as Chavo holds onto the ropes, and Chavo connects with a dropkick of his own, but Smiley gets back into things and scores the win with a sunset flip whilst holding the ropes.

Not a bad match, but it started like a one-sided squash and was, to be polite, methodical. **½

Barry Darsow vs. Mike Enos (WCW Saturday Night, taped February 16, 1999; aired February 20, 1999)
We go to Barry Darsow next, in a classic gimmick that was destined never to make Nitro… “Hole in One” Barry Darsow, taking on former Beverley Brother, Mike Enos. In the intros, we see a clip of the match between these two from two weeks earlier, ending with Darsow using a golf club to the neck of Enos to get the win.

Blatantly dubbed in cheers mask Mike Enos’ theme music, and he makes a beeline for Darsow, who does a lap around the ring, allowing Enos to pick up a golf club and head for the ring. Darsow does the same, but thankfully we’ll not be getting a game of Rock ‘em, Sock ‘em Wrestlers with golf clubs. They spend forever easing a “will he, won’t he?” break the club spot with Enos, something that Enos finally does to the clearly-gimmicked putter.

Darsow then attacks Enos from behind with a double axe-handle blow as the action finally starts, with the former Repo Man and Demolition member throttling him, before throwing him over the top rope and to the floor.

Enos’ head gets rammed into the ring steps, before clotheslining him off the ropes. Enos finally fires back with a back elbow in the corner, but takes another lariat for a near-fall. Darsow fails with a leapfrog and gets clotheslined by himself, before Enos drops him with a belly to back suplex and a powerslam off the ropes for a near-fall. After sending Darsow into the ropes, Enos successfully leapfrogs his opponent, who crashes into the referee, meaning that Enos can only score a visual pin on Darsow after a standard suplex.

Tending to the referee leaves Enos distracted, meaning that Darsow goes for the putter, but he swings and misses, allowing Enos to reply with a shot of his own as payback, before dragging the referee in to make the count. Again, a basic match, nothing offensive, but nothing great either, particularly when it comes to Larry Zbyszko’s commentary! **½

Erik Watts vs. The Gambler (WCW Saturday Night, taped July 6, 1999; aired July 17, 1999)
From one “never on Nitro” gimmick to another, as Erik Watts takes on The Gambler, who was a pretty anonymous jobber, save for the fact that he had a hairline that would have looked better shaved bald. You knew he was a gambler by the fact that he carried a pack of cards to the ring… oh, what character development! Seriously, what character development?! By this point, Saturday Night had moved to a new, ultra-generic set, and the show was all the worse for it.

The Gambler started by trying to take Watts’ eyes across the ropes, but ended up taking a back body drop and a series of clotheslines before rolling to the floor. Watts followed him out, but after returning to the ring ended up taking a back elbow in the corner. Watts turned a belly-to-back suplex into a reverse bulldog, before missing a dropkick. That opened the door for the Gambler to rake his eyes, but his move to go up to the middle rope proved unwise, as he just jumped into Watts’ boot. Seriously, he wasn’t going for anything, he just jumped off the middle rope and landed.

Watts makes a comeback by dropping the Gambler across the top turnbuckle with a powerbomb, then an ultra-clumsy version of Matt Hardy’s Side Effect (Cobra Clutch drop) for the win. That wasn’t much to write home about, and that finisher… sheesh! **

Bull Payne vs. Hak (WCW Saturday Night, taped April 27, 1999; aired May 8, 1999)
Ah WCW, where jobbers really do come (out) first! Bull Payne gets wheeled out here for a match against Hak (aka The Sandman).

As the referee was distracted by Hak’s Singapore cane, Chastity (who was Hak’s valet at the time) set off a fire extinguisher in Payne’s face. That was followed up with the White Russian Legsweep (or as WCW called it, the side Russian legsweep with the cane), before he went for a table, and eventually placed Payne on it.

One clumsy Rolling Rock later (sorry, the WCW-sanitised move known as “the senton back splash”), and Hak picked up the win. That was literally… nothing. *½

Dee Dee Venturi vs. Mona (WCW Saturday Night, taped August 17, 1999; aired August 28, 1999)
Mona, of course, would be the future Molly Holly, whilst Venturi’s time in wrestling was about as remarkable as her theme music here. Which was non-existent.

The pair locked up to start us off, with Mona scoring an armdrag takedown, before flipping out of a tiltawhirl attempt by Venturi, and then scoring a headscissor takedown after another tiltawhirl effort. A simple clothesline decks Mona though, as Venturi went to the top turnbuckle and pulled her off the ground with a rear naked choke.

Venturi scores with a hiptoss, but Mona reverses another tiltawhirl effort, and scores a two-count following an O’Connor roll. Venturi took Mona down again and rammed her face into the mat, but took too long in a powerbomb attempt, allowing Mona to flip over and get a near-fall with a jack-knife roll-up.

Mona escapes a charging Venturi in the corner, before getting a two-count from a snap suplex. Venturi then went to throw Mona into the ropes, but she countered with a wheelbarrow roll-up for the win.

That wasn’t too bad for a Saturday Night match; Venturi was a lot better than I was expecting, which makes me wonder “where on earth did she disappear to after WCW died”? **¾

Dave Burkhead vs. Sid (WCW Saturday Night, taped September 28, 1999; aired October 9, 1999)
We round things off with a United States title match… okay, it’s a squash. When the challenger is unveiled (by Jeremy Borash, no less) as Dave Burkhead – a man whose only win in WCW came via DQ against the Blue Bloods in six-man action – you’ll be able to guess where we’re heading.

This came in the middle of a storyline where Sid was looking to build up a winning streak going into the new millennium, so there’s only one result here. Burkhead ducks a clothesline to start off, but goes straight into the path of a chokeslam. One powerbomb later, and Sid successfully retains. Told you it’d be a squash! *

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