Stud Stable vs. Dusty Rhodes, Dustin Rhodes, and the Nasty Boys (9/18/94)

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There’s been a lot of talk on TV lately about eras ending. Chris Jericho, for example, is one of the last of an era where wrestlers valued overseas experience and came to places like the WWE ready to go from day one, which is one hell of a specific era. The Hell in a Cell match between Triple H and the Undertaker was billed as an End of an Era match, specifically referring to the Attitude Era that both men were cornerstones of. Right now, John Cena has admitted that the reemergence of Brock Lesnar could lead to the end of his era. For the most part, however, eras are a tough thing to define in wrestling. Even when given names, like the WWF New Generation or the Attitude Era, there are enough holdovers from previous eras that the only real change is in the marketing, the amount of blood, the guys with the top titles.

This match, however, represents a true era-ending moment, as, one month later, Hulk Hogan would make his WCW debut against Ric Flair. The Ted Turner owned WCW had two very distinct eras—before Hogan and after Hogan—and, despite what WCW was able to do with Hogan and, later, the nWo, his arrival pretty much made down-and-dirty, southern-style wrestling extinct as a mainstream artform. The transition from WCW’s classic style and something more closely resembling the cartoonish elements of late Rock ‘n Wrestling era WWF was not a slow one, either: Hogan was in, Terry Funk was out, Cactus Jack was out, Vader was out, Dustin Rhodes was out, and so on, replaced with the rightly-mocked Dungeon of Doom.

This 1994 WarGames match was a hell of a way to go out, then, pitting two of the medium’s oldest, truest archetypes against each other: The cocky, manager-run stable and the father-son family unit. Robert Parker‘s Stud Stable may be one of the more underrated groups in the history of wrestling, if only because its run in one of the big two promotions was so short-lived and marred by forces beyond what any quasi-successful group could withstand. First, Terry Funk quit WCW. Then, Arn Anderson left to rejoin Ric Flair and the Four Horsemen. Finally, Meng left the group to join the Dungeon of Doom. By that point, Fuller was left with Bunkhouse Buck and late addition Dick Slater, who were a good tag team, but not one around which a company builds. The biggest tragedy—if any wrestling storyline is truly a tragedy—is that Meng’s role as Parker’s bodyguard made him look like an absolute killer, and an eventual singles run under Parker’s control would likely have made him a main event star. Instead, he was just another cog in the machine that was maybe the worst stable in wrestling history. So it goes.

The Rhodes/Nastys union is, on paper, one of the more curious things about this match, but Dusty wrote it off by rambling about being family one week, needing to be nasty the next. Dusty got to wear an awesome shirt that read “NASTY DREAMS,” and the Nasty Boys got one relevant run as a top face tag team out of the deal. Dustin, meanwhile, continued to not quite make it over the hump in WCW. I’m not exactly sure who thought pairing him with his world famous dad would do the trick—recent WWE history bears out that the sons who have the most success are those the least like their father—but Dustin went from being somebody who looked like a star to being somebody who’d stagnated. Not that he ever stopped having good matches, because his WCW work is a large part of the reason why he’s one of the 1990s more underrated workers, but he, much like Steve Austin in the same era, would prove themselves an early indication of why WCW wasn’t built to last, an inability to create their own stars.

The match itself is awesome, which may be a real eye-opener if you’ve always been of the opinion that the Nasty Boys were better at riding Hulk Hogan’s coattails than wrestling. 1994 was the last year these guys were relevant, as the Dungeon of Doom and, later, the nWo, pushed them further and further out of the picture. There is a dirty grimness to this match, as the cage seems to be more sloppily constructed than in past War Games efforts, nearly crumbling the first time anybody hits it, and you’ve got Anderson and Funk and the Dream in there, tearing it up, not to mention Col. Parker’s flop-sweating performance outside the ring. Parker’s tremendous, and the Stud Stable’s really the only time he was a big time manager on a big time stage. Yes, he also managed Sid, Harlem Heat, and the Amazing French Canadians, but those were outsized personalities who didn’t exactly benefit from his presence, nor he from theirs. If at any time you wonder to yourself what could possibly bring Arn Anderson, Terry Funk, Bunkhouse Buck, and Meng under the same roof, just remember, Col. Parker was the Greatest Promoter on the Face of the Earth.

And he gets his comeuppance in the end, submitting to a Dusty Rhodes figure four leglock while the Nasty Boys drop elbows on him and Dustin plays keepaway, nailing any member of the Stud Stable who moves. I don’t know if its because I’m feeling particularly curmudgeonly tonight or if it’s because I’m practically giddy that a simple and simple-looking armlock is the WWE’s new death move, but I really like how barebones that is. When you think about it, a dude like Col. Parker would probably submit merely from the figure four. Start laying elbows on him, however, and you’ve got a case for murder. That’s the kind of stunning logic one doesn’t always get from late-era Dusty matches. It’s also probably one of the reasons this one’s flown under the radar.

Stray Observations:

  • Buckhouse Bunk is from “Bucksnort, TN,” which makes me wish that wrestlers on TV still came from places like Bucksnort, TN. St. Louis, MO and Tampa, FL are great towns, but there’s an aura around “Truth of Consequences, NM,” you know?
  • Boy did WCW waste Meng. Here, he’s Col. Parker’s bodyguard. Later, he’d be a member of the Dungeon of Doom. If they’d have done something with him, Meng could have been one of the great monster heels.
  • Bobby Heenan points out that the fencing used to make the cage is “cyclone fence,” which looks a lot like the fences in my neighborhood. For a long, long time, I didn’t climb fences because I was worried bout the “little burrs” that Heenan talks about.
  • Col. Parker: “You’re breakin’ every rule in the book out here!” An awesome heel manager would complain about that in a No DQ environment.
  • Bobby Heenan: “The Rhodes family, they’re illiterate!” “Dusty makes the big X, and Dustin gets the little one.”
  • How can you tell that Dustin Rhodes hates Arn Anderson? Two words:

    “Dick Stomp.”

  • WCW didn’t exactly have a history of cool-looking shots, but this is one of them:
  • Arn and Dustin go the full five minute period without a freakin’ breather until the coin toss. Absolutely fantastic, and makes one wish that Anderson’s career hadn’t ended in 1997.
  • Every ring-to-ring transition looks incredibly dangerous due to the big gap between the rings.
  • Funk is at his madman best before even getting into the ring, hurling chairs indiscriminately, shaking the cage, entering the match with a shoe off. I don’t think he would have lasted very long the squeaky-clean Hulk Hogan WCW, but it’s pretty awesome that he got to moonlight there for a little while.
  • Granted I’ve never been hit by a cowboy boot, but I don’t understand its effectiveness as a weapon.
  • That the longstanding Rhodes/Funk family feud plays ANY role in this match is amazing and good considering that, just last night, one guy Triple H fired a few months ago and another who he destroyed just over a year ago came to his aid after a Brock Lesnar attack. Continuity matters most of the time, and when it doesn’t, it’s at least nice way of telling your fans that you value their continued viewership and don’t view them as rubes.
  • The End of Hulkamana has been a recurring storyline from 1984-2012.
  • I could watch Funk sell the cowboy boot all day. Especially when he spaghetti westerns to the mat like he’s been shot dead.
  • I could also watch Col. Parker freak out about entering this match all day. You can’t see it from this image, but he’s so good at being terrified that he manages to sweat through his shirt before entering the ring.
  • Those BOOM BOOM BOOMs for Dusty’s elbows are incredible. Great crowd, and they got exactly what they wanted.