A Mark’s Eye View is a weekly look at some of the things that made me a huge fan of professional wrestling.
St. Valentine’s Day Massacre is one of the most legendary events in professional wrestling history. The event saw The Rock and Mankind battle to a draw in a Last Man Standing match. (Guess who was the booker, bro?) Even more memorable was the main event: “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Vince McMahon took their feud to the next level as they battled in a steel cage match. The ending saw a debuting Big Show cost Vince the match and begin a career of baffling booking. As was the case with the Attitude Era, the rest of the card ended up not mattering.
Unsurprisingly, WWE was not the first promotion to host a supercard named after one of the most infamous moments in American history. Even less shocking is that it was an NWA event. Ten years before the 27th and final In Your House, Clash of the Champions V was held. It was probably a coincidence that the two shows have such similar names. In all likelihood, Clash V was not even the first wrestling event called St. Valentine Massacre or some such variation. But there sure are a lot of similarities between the two shows.
Fans were robbed of finishes
The main event of Clash V was scheduled to be the heel team of the Road Warriors and frequent partner Genichiro Tenryu taking on Sting, Junkyard Dog, and Michael Hayes. Before the match could begin, Kevin Sullivan locked the faces in a cage so the Varsity Club could take their place. The match ended up a disappointing double disqualification when the faces escaped and stormed the ring.
Vince Russo topped this in 1999 by booking a non finish in a Last Man Standing match and making Big Show look like a geek in a little over half an hour. In his defense, it’s not like people watch wrestling shows for wrestling, anyway.
One of the things about the Attitude Era that has not aged well with time is how women were portrayed. St. Valentine’s Day Massacre was no exception. Debra was there to be eye candy while the brilliant Ryan Shamrock whore angle continued. If only Ken had gone in for the incest suggestion.
Clash V saw a less obnoxious situation that still managed to ooze misogyny. Ric Flair was days away from defending the NWA World Title against Rick Steamboat. After Steamboat declined an offer to take home one of Flair’s female companions, the “Nature Boy” suggested the “Dragon” go home and “help the misses with the dishes.” This led to an awesome brawl that saw Flair stripped down to his socks and underwear.
Wrestling has seen some surprisingly long careers. One of the most surprising is that of Teddy Long, who started at the bottom and worked his way to General Manager of SmackDown. Over that time, he has also appeared in both the NWA and the WWF (and in WCW and WWE). The interesting part is he was a referee on two Valentine’s Day B-list supercards that were ten years apart. Holla!
Next stop: World Title
Both shows set up matches for the top title in the promotions. At St. Valentine Day’s Massacre, Austin’s win over McMahon earned him the right to challenge Rocky for the WWF belt at WrestleMania XV. Stone Cold would go on to regain the title. Clash V was only five days before the first part of the Flair-Steamboat Holy Trinity. It was a great angle that delivered. By the time Chi-Town Rumble came, fans could not wait to see the two long time foes do battle. Steamboat won the Big Gold Belt in the best match of the year — until the two topped it in April with the greatest pro wrestling match of all time.
Next week: A Hartless talent gap