WCW World Title Tournament In 1999: First Round
At Halloween Havoc 1999, there was a controversial moment where WCW World Champion Sting retained the championship over Hulk Hogan in their anticipated rematch from Fall Brawl. Sadly, Hogan would simply lay down and take the fall allowing Sting to retain. The purpose? I couldn’t tell you. By the end of the night, Goldberg, who won the WCW United States Championship from Sid Vicious earlier in the show, was also the WCW World Champion after defeating Sting in the main event at Havoc.
So, Goldberg is the champion, the top baby face is finally the top champion for the second time in his career. What could go wrong? Well….
The next night on Nitro, Sting claimed that he never agreed to a title match with Goldberg and thus he should be champion. However, JJ Dillion revealed that Sting had been stripped of the title for attacking a referee. How often does that happen? This led to a 32-person tournament taking place to crown a new WCW World Champion. I’m going to look at every match. You ready for this?
The tournament took place from October 25th, 1999 to November 21st, 1999.
Opening Round Match: Bam-Bam Bigelow vs. Norman Smiley in a hardcore match: Bigelow brought out a trash bin full of weapons as the hardcore rules were a last minute addition to the match. Bigelow has a broom and whacks Smiley over the back a few times. Bigelow uses the trash can lid to whack Smiley over the head. Bigelow has a trash can and Smiley begs off but get whacked over the head anyway. Bigelow puts the trash can over Smiley’s head, and they collide leading to Smiley falling down into Bigelow’s groin. Smiley proceeds to do the Big Wiggle and pins Bigelow. (DUD. The finish made Bigelow look awful and Smiley didn’t get any offense in to win the match. An awful first match for the tournament, I’d say.)
Opening Round Match: Eddie Guerrero vs. Perry Saturn: Guerrero dropkicks the left leg of Saturn from behind as Saturn was talking to the Filthy Animals. Guerrero slingshots over the top rope to splash down across the leg of Saturn over the apron. Guerrero tags the tape off his ribs to tie Saturn’s leg to the bottom rope and delivers another dropkick. Saturn drops Guerrero gut first across the top rope. Saturn drives Guerrero down with a gut buster and works over the midsection with an abdominal stretch. Guerrero comes off the ropes getting an abdominal stretch but Saturn quickly counters with an overhead belly to belly suplex. Saturn drops Guerrero gut first across the top rope and springboards off the middle rope to clothesline Guerrero off the apron to the floor. On the floor, Guerrero sends Saturn into the railing but Saturn drops Guerrero gut first across the railing. Here comes David Flair with a crowbar and attacks Guerrero with a shot to the ribs since Guerrero attacked his father. Saturn puts the Rings of Saturn on Guerrero and wins by submission. (**. A decent match between these two and the interference makes sense in a storyline sense.)
Opening Round Match: Meng vs. Madusa: Madusa is all about having an equal opportunity and she gets thrown into a match with Meng. Of course, she doesn’t look very confident about her chances. Madusa goes right at Meng with several strikes and kicks but Meng no sells them all. She lures Meng in and pokes him in the eyes. Madusa comes off the middle rope but gets caught and carried around the ring. Meng puts her on the top turnbuckle but Madusa slaps him followed by a missile dropkick and a spin kick but Meng still doesn’t go down. Meng blocks a kick but she delivers another kick only to stagger Meng. She gets on Meng’s back trying to choke him out but Meng slams her down. Meng puts the Tongan Death Grip on and wins hte match. (*. It was entertaining just to see Madusa try and get any form of offense on Meng and his no selling of it.)
Opening Round Match: WCW TV Champion Rick Steiner vs. Lex Luger: Luger starts the match working over Steiner with strikes and stomps. Jeff Jarrett makes his way down with a guitar as Steiner clotheslines Luger. Steiner takes Luger over with a belly to belly suplex. Jarrett wants a public apology from Luger since he didn’t hit Elizabeth. Steiner continues to hammer away on Luger. Steiner back elbows Luger for a two count. Jarrett leaves the commentary table and goes to talk to Elizabeth, who falls down. Luger goes to the floor and Jarrett swings the guitar smashing it over Steiner’s head on accident. Steiner gets up and stumbles towards the backstage area to get at Jarrett. Luger checks on Elizabeth and helps her up but drops her to get back in the ring and wins the match by count-out. (1/2*. Again, it’s just a match to tease some issues between Luger and Elizabeth since Luger isn’t paying attention to her properly.)
Opening Round Match: Billy Kidman vs. Konnan: They trade some go behinds until Konnan hit a dropkick on a seated Kidman. They trade strikes with Kidman getting the better of the exchange but Konnan hit a rolling thunder clothesliner. Kidman plants Konnan with a sit out spine buster. Kidman collides with the referee after running the ropes and here comes Harlem Heat to attack both men. Stevie Ray hits a pedigree on Konnan and Booker side kicked Kidman. Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio run down and they get attacked by Harlem Heat on the aisle way. Kidman rolls over and pins Konnan. (DUD. Nobody cared about the match between two guys in a heel stable, but they popped for Harlem Heat. So, of course Harlem Heat was broken up within a couple of weeks.)
Opening Round Match: Sting vs. Brian Knobbs: Sting walks to the ring clearly pissed off about the situation and just decks Knobbs with the baseball bat. He also takes out Hugh Morrus and pins Knobbs. (NR. This was exactly what it should have been.)
There was to be a first round match between DDP and David Flair, but David brutally attacked DDP with a crowbar causing the match to be a no contest, thus neither man advanced.
Opening Round Match: WCW US Champion Goldberg vs. Bret Hart: Hart is limping pretty badly as he made his way to the ring thanks to an attack from Luger. Goldberg backs Hart into the corner but breaks away cleanly. Goldberg delivers a few knee rams against the ropes followed by a short clothesline. Goldberg drives Hart down with a gorilla press power slam. Hart tries to fight back out of the corner with strikes but gets taken down and Goldberg puts a leg lock on Hart but can’t get a submission. Hart reaches the ropes and rolls to the floor to regroup. Hart backs Goldberg into the corner and hammers away on the champ but Goldberg no sells the offense. Goldberg yanks Hart out of the corner by his leg and the referee checks ion Hart, who doesn’t want to give in. Hart refuses to let the referee to call for the bell despite his ankle being in severe pain. Goldberg sends Hart hard into the corner back first. Hart stops Goldberg with a boot and more strikes before getting on Goldberg’s back. Goldberg rams Hart into the corner but doesn’t break free. Goldberg yanks Hart down with a snap mare and the referee goes down. Goldberg clotheslines Hart over the top to the floor and here comes the Outsiders and Sid Vicious. Goldberg takes out the Outsiders but a big boot from Sid stops Goldberg. Hall drives Goldberg down with a choke slam. Nash side slams Goldberg and Sid plants Goldberg with a power bomb. Hart is completely unaware as to what happened and returns to the ring to pin Goldberg, who popped his shoulder up just after the three count because you gotta stay strong even in defeat. Oh, Hart won the WCW United States Championship, too. (*1/2. I can’t believe this was a first round match, but of course it was heavy on an angle with Hart being hurt and the eventual interference. I believe this is the first time Goldberg was pinned on TV since his other loss was on pay per view.)
Opening Round Match: Vampiro vs. Berlyn: Early on, Berlyn takes Vampiro down to the canvas but Vampiro gets a head scissors before they pop up. They do the same sequence with Berlyn getting the head scissors and keeps control with a back suplex after they get up. Vampiro spin kicks Berlyn but runs into a snap power slam and a series of elbow drops from Berlyn. Berlyn takes Vampiro over with a snap suplex as The Misfits (the band) come out. Berlyn keeps control with a spinning heel kick and plays to the crowd. Vampiro back elbows Berlyn in the corner and spin kicks Berlyn. Berlyn stops Vampiro with a clothesline but soon runs into the referee. Vampiro connects with another spinning kick but here comes The Wall. The Misfits pull the ropes down and Wall crashes to the floor. Wall gets knocked out as Vampiro goes to the top but Berlyn stops him with a dropkick in midair. Berlyn delivers a high knee lift but gets tripped on a slam attempt allowing Vampiro to land on top and gets the win as the Misfits held down his leg. (*. Honestly, I think these two could have a really good match if they were given some time and not held back with interference nonsense. Berlyn, or Alex Wright, is a more than capable wrestler. The character just doesn’t allow him to show that.)
Opening Round Match: Lash LeRoux vs. Ernest Miller: Miller decks LeRoux a few times with right hands to drop LeRoux early on. Miller avoids a sunset flip by punching LeRoux followed by an elbow drop. LeRoux goes to send Miller across the ring but Miller’s knee gives out and LeRoux puts a submission hold on to win the match. (DUD. What the hell… They had Miller come back from a knee injury and he jobs out in less than a minute.)
Opening Round Match: Buff Bagwell vs. Stevie Ray in a strap match: Bagwell didn’t know it was a strap match until Ray told him it was. Ray works over Bagwell at the start with strikes and stomps. Ray whips Bagwell with the strap and chokes Buff with the strap over the ropes. Bagwell backdrops Ray over the top rope to the floor and chokes Ray with the strap. Creative Control run out and they attack Bagwell, but Bagwell escapes and apparently wins by disqualification. (DUD. Just advancing the issues that Bagwell had with the Powers That Be.)
Opening Round Match: WCW Cruiserweight Champion Disco Inferno vs. Curt Hennig: Prior to the match, Hennig embraced his father Larry at ringside. Inferno tried to get a handshake but that didn’t work out so well for him. Hennig attacks from behind and rams Inferno face first into the guard railing followed by a few chops. Hennig dropkicks Inferno but only manages a near fall. Hennig knee lifts Inferno to the floor and plays to the crowd. Larry holds Inferno on the floor and allows Curt to deliver a few more shots. Larry ends up getting a right hand to knock Inferno down. Inferno gets a big boot up and takes Hennig down with a swinging neck breaker. Inferno comes off the middle rope hitting a forearm drop. Hennig blocks a backdrop attempt with a kick to the chest and goes for the Hennig Plex but Inferno reaches the ropes. Hennig slaps Inferno a few times but misses a splash in the corner. Inferno went for the Chart Buster, but Hennig shoves Inferno to the floor and some mystery guy (Tony Mamaluke) ends up talking Inferno to the backstage area about some money issues and Inferno loses by count out. (*. Another angle advancement match in the tournament. The action was going alright, but the lack of conclusion was disappointing.)
Opening Round Match: Booker T vs. Jeff Jarrett: Jarrett attacks Booker during his entrance and drops Booker throat first across the railing. Booker sends Jarrett into the railing chest first and drops Jeff chest first across the railing. Booker tosses Jarrett over the railing into the crowd. Booker brings the match back into the ring and Jarrett stomps on Booker. Booker ducks a clothesline and spin kicks Jarrett. Booker decks Jarrett with a forearm smash but only manages a two count. Jarrett dumps Booker to the floor. Jeff sends Booker side first into the guard railing as we see Creative Control is watching the match from the aisle way. Jarrett comes off the top hitting a cross body but Booker rolls through nearly winning with a rollup. Jarrett comes back with a clothesline but gets stopped by a sleeper hold. Booker puts a sleeper hold on Jarrett but that’s short lived. Booker plants Jarrett with the Rock Bottom and a scissors kick! Booker does a spinarooni and side kicks Jarrett. Creative Control gets on the apron but that allows Jarrett to deliver a guitar shot and pins Booker. I guess DQ’s vary for the situation. (*1/2. It’s clear that these two are capable of something good, and it would only take eight months or so before that would happen on PPV.)
Opening Round Match: Evan Karagias vs. Madusa: Basically, Madusa got a second chance in the tournament, and nobody has any idea as to why she does. Anyway, Karagias hasn’t amounted to anything in his career to this point and is just a job guy in the Cruiserweight division. The whole match is basically Evan being smitten with Madusa and sexual advances throughout. Evan sends Madusa into the ropes and she pins Evan with a Thez Press and she kisses him on the cheeks. Yeah… What a joke this tournament is.
Opening Round Match: Dean Malenko vs. Chris Benoit in a steel cage match: Malenko quickly goes after Benoit with stomps in the corner and chokes Benoit to gain the cheap advantage. Malenko works over Benoit with strikes in the corner. Benoit counters a backdrop attempt and rams Malenko head first into the cage followed by a power bomb. Benoit works over Malenko with chops in the corner and Malenko begins to climb the cage but is crotched and dropkicked into the cage while crotched over the top rope. Benoit continues to work over Malenko and Malenko is begging off but Benoit isn’t listening. Malenko avoids a dropkick but holding onto the ropes and catapults Benoit face first into the cage. Malenko rams Benoit face first into the cage a few times but Benoit counters a tombstone with one of his own. Benoit decides he has had enough of this and begins to climb towards the top of the cage. Malenko gets up and stops Benoit hitting a middle rope electric chair slam. Perry Saturn comes running down to the ring and climbs the cage but Benoit tosses Malenko into Saturn and gets a chain that Saturn tossed into the ring. Benoit goes to the top of the cage and proceeds to hit a diving head butt not Malenko for the win! After the match, Saturn casually hits an elbow drop off the top rope and Benoit gets beaten down for his troubles. Shane Douglas nailed Benoit with his brace around his elbow. Benoit continues to be beaten down by the Revolution and is shackled to the ropes. The Filthy Animals come running down to the make save, but they are heels, too, I think. I’m confused. David Flair comes out and attacks the Filthy Animals with a crowbar for more revenge for his father. (***. I might be overrating the match a little bit, but I really enjoyed the action and it’s considerably better than anything else that has happened up to this point.)
Opening Round Match: Sid Vicious vs. Scott Hall: Sid pokes Hall and they seemingly go for another finger poke of doom, but Hall counters with an inside cradle to double cross Sid. Sid gets up and drops Hall with a clothesline. Sid drives Hall down with a back breaker. Sid taunts the crowd as Hall struggles to his feet. Sid works over Hall with several kicks as the fans are chanting for Goldberg. Sid delivers a running boot to keep Hall on the canvas. Hall gets stopped by an eye rake and a shot to the midsection. Sid controls Hall with a cobra clutch. Sid misses a clothesline and Hall hammers away on Sid a few times. Sid goes for a choke slam and hits it but Hall knocked the referee down to the canvas. Bret Hart makes his way to the ring and whacks Sid over the back with a crutch as he went for a power bomb on Hall. Hart goes towards Hall with the crutch but misses on the swing. Hall rolls to the floor and quickly rolls back in and pins Sid to advance in the tournament. (1/2*. That was pretty bad. Hall is a bad heel since the fans are loving everything that he is doing.)
Well, the first round is over with and to be honest, it was rather dreadful. Benoit vs. Malenko was easily the best match of the tournament, which shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. Some of the matches are strong on paper for a first round match, especially Hart/Goldberg which in hindsight would never be in the finals considering Goldberg’s feud with Sid at the time. Hopefully the nonsense stops the further we get into the tournament. Wishful thinking, I know.
What are your thoughts or memories on the first round of the tournament? In the next article, I’ll focus on the Second Round and then the final article will focus on the semi-finals and finals that happened at WCW Mayhem 1999.
Thanks for reading.