WCW: Road Wild Retro Review | August 14th 1999

TWM goes back in the time machine to 22 years ago this week where WCW continued their Sturgis Motorcycle Rally tradition, disregarded a pay per view ticket revenue gate when business was on the way down, and presented the fourth WCW Hog… I mean, Road Wild pay per view.

As it was WCW in the late 90s we of course had a stipulation tied to the main event that would not be lived up to. From the opening video package, we learned that the WCW Heavyweight title main event between Hulk Hogan, who had recently let go of the “Hollywood” persona and dawned the red and yellow once more would defend against Kevin Nash with both men’s careers on the line in a retirement match, or at least that’s what they were trying to convince us. In execution, the stipulation lasted all but a few weeks. Another cog in the wheel of WCW killing stipulations and reasons for fans to care about future stip matches. Doesn’t that sound oddly familiar?

It might have been me being used to the lockdown shows with no fans, but the lack of responses was quite obvious from the somewhat uninterested crowd. The setting was uniquely impressive though with the sun setting on an outdoor venue at the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in Sturgis, South Dakota. However, the large crowd of onlookers reacted to very little (if at all) only sporadically revving their motorbike engines that the commentary team acted as if it were a sign of approval.

Speaking of the crowd, for those that didn’t like wrestling (which seemed like most of them) they were sorted for hamburgers, hot dogs, steak sandwiches, butterfly fries and lemonade as the huge food stall signs were in clear shot in the background of the hard camera. If that didn’t distract you the trucks or groups of cars driving past did as there seemed to be a very busy road right behind the fans on the floor, again in plain view of the hard camera.

WCW Road Wild (TV Special 1999) - IMDb

If you were watching this show in isolation you would have thought that Hogan was returning from injury or hiatus, although the constant echoes of “Hulk Hogan has returned to WCW” was in fact him losing the “Hollywood” persona and going back to his red and yellow roots.

In the match itself, Hogan tried to wrestle a 1980s WWF main event style on an injured left leg. That meant he didn’t do much, the opening was filled with pose downs, taunts and stalling tactics. This was the first Hogan vs Nash main event, not for the want of trying. Ever since the nWo formed in 1996, WCW had hinted at booking this match a few times, but the build for this first-time match came almost out of the blue and hinted at a bit of desperation on WCW’s part.

They brought out the old school test of strength before Nash wore Hogan down for what seemed like 20 minutes but was only nearer to 8. But in true 1980s fashion, Hogan kicked out of Nash’s Jackknife Powerbomb, Hulked up, punched Nash three times, hit a big boot, dropped the leg and picked up the win.

Of all the people on the roster, and all the performers in the ring that night, and after all the interference leading to finishes throughout the night, in one of only three clean finishes that night (out of nine matches) they chose to decisively pin Sting clean. One of the most iconic and popular stars in the history of WCW, and someone who is/was so much of a legend that they are still on weekly television today was seen as a stepping stone as Sid was on his way to a feud with Goldberg. The match was pretty decent but it was ruined by the commentary team trying to play up Sid’s supposed undefeated streak and comparing it to Goldberg’s legendary run that got him to superstardom the year before. Sid dominated throughout, consistently cut Sting off on any hope spots, blocked a Stinger Splash, hit a chokeslam and picked up a rare win without any outside interference for the “Millenium Man”. 

Of note, Chris Jericho has debuted in the WWF just four days before this event with his famous “Countdown to the Millenium” countdown clock. And what a coincidence it was that WCW thought to give a “Millenium Man” nickname to someone they were pushing at the same time…

Bill Goldberg and Rick Steiner luckily made it to Sturgis just in time to compete in their scheduled match. According to Bryan Alvarez’s Death of WCW book Goldberg and Steiner drove their motorcycles to the event but got very lost on the way to the point there were major concerns until they eventually showed up. Their match was the typical Goldberg type: Steiner got some offence in using Goldberg’s own knee brace, until falling shortly after with a spear and jackhammer.

Wrestlespective / Randy Savage vs. Dennis Rodman (WCW Road Wild 1999)

In another classic WCW moment, they had Dennis Rodman on the show and didn’t mention his name until his match (quite like this article!). Or if they did, they didn’t do a good enough job to make it clear that one of the biggest sports stars in the world was going to be there. His match with Randy Savage was entertaining and included Rodman being thrown into a portable toilet.

Rodman did more than usual here and actually worked a very decent match for a non-wrestler. Referee bumps a-plenty and some brawling on the stage helped to disguise any shortcomings and the wrestling mind of Randy Savage helped carry Rodman to a passable match.

The lack of ringside photographers just showed how much Rodman and WCW had fallen in recent times when compared to his previous appearances for the company.

One of the few matches that had both good wrestling and a decent reaction from the crowd was the Chris Benoit vs DDP, No Disqualification match for the US title. Benoit fought back and came close with three German suplexes, and after fighting off the other members of the New Jersey Triad three-on-one he put away DDP with a diving headbutt. We can all just ignore the disturbing belt around the neck spot halfway through, please. Surprisingly it is still on the network.

In other matches:

The opener was a trios match between the dream team of Eddie Guerrero, Rey Mysterio and Billy Kidman against a not so much dream team of Vampiro and The Insane Clown Posse. Raven accompanied Vamp and ICP and if he was in the match he would have made it so much better.

Harlem Heat beat Kanyon and Bam Bam Bam Bigelow to win the tag titles after DDP tried to interfere but accidentally collided with Bigelow.

We were greeted with the very catchy ” Rap is Crap” theme music for the West Texas Rednecks before they lost a trios match to Dean Malenko, Perry Saturn and Shane Douglas.

Ernest Miller and Buff Bagwell had a dud, probably due to the fact they had a real-life fight in the back before the show as Bagwell felt disgruntled over the planned finish (according to Dave Meltzer and the Wrestling Observer newsletter). And to make it worse Bagwell, the babyface, on the mic hinted that the Sturgis crowd didn’t like Miller (“You don’t seem too much of a fan favourite if you know what I mean”) hinting that the colour of Miller’s skin automatically makes him a heel in this part of America. Lovely… 

Final Thought

WCW at this time was in chaos. Workers were unhappy (Jericho had left weeks before, Konnan and Rey Mysterio had voiced their concerns by this time), people were walking out (Raven would leave shortly after this event, Randy Savage walked out and missed the next few shows because of the booking of his Rodman match), fights were breaking out backstage (Miller and Bagwell), ratings were tanking (the next night’s Nitro would report its lowest number since the boom) and the famous backstage political power struggles were in full swing. Eric Bischoff, Nash, Hogan and Dusty Rhodes all had creative input during this time, while on-screen Sting, Ric Flair, JJ Dillion and Dusty all were fighting for “control” of the company in a convoluted storyline.

The chaos going on the backstage was filtering to in front of the cameras too. People were swearing on-screen, interferences were running wild and the calibre of shows were decreasing.

This pay per view could be seen as a textbook WCW show in a nutshell. Decent workers stuck in midcard matches and feuds with no road to the main event. The same old-timers hogging the main event scene. Interference all over the place, hotshot booking and stipulations that would be forgotten weeks later, therefore, killing any fans in the future believing any others. The decision to keep going back to Sturgis was a poor piece of business too. WCW received no gate receipts for these shows, the lack of enthusiasm from the crowd brought the whole showdown and made their wrestlers look like they had lost their star power with the lack of responses. Thankfully they did see some sense as this was the last Road Wild as the show was retired and replaced with New Blood Rising in 2000.  

All in all a very average show with no match recommendations to go out of your way to see. But hey, it was WCW in 1999, what did you expect?

More From This Author