Wrestler of the Day – February 10: Curt Hennig

Today’s pick is a bit better than usual. Actually he’s perfect: Curt Hennig.

Curt started with a brief AWA run but really got his start in the WWF. Here’s a match against Eddie Gilbert from November 22, 1982 in MSG.

Curt Hennig vs. Eddie Gilbert

This is Gilbert’s MSG debut and Gorilla says this should be a crackerjack match. They fight over a lockup to start and Curt gets a quick hiptoss. Gorilla gets the guys confused, which isn’t that hard as they’re about the same size and have curly blonde hair and red trunks. Gilbert takes him down and puts on a leg lock before they do some amateur stuff on the mat. The fans are pretty silent so far and to be fair there isn’t much to be interested in yet.

Gilbert hooks an armbar as the announcers talk about a Lou Albano vs. Jimmy Snuka match. Back up and Curt puts on an armbar as the fans are just gone. They finally get out of the hammerlock and have Curt do three straight headlock takeovers which are countered by a headscissors and quickly broken. A right hand staggers Curt and gets the only reaction of the match but Hennig shoulder blocks him to the apron to stop any crowd interest at all.

They run the ropes a bit and both guys try leapfrogs and collide in the air. Curt grabs a long headlock but Gilbert finally sends him into the buckle to break it up. Eddie misses a charge into the corner and gets suplexed back in for two. A sunset flip gets two on Curt and the twenty minute time limit runs out at about 15 minutes.

Rating: D. This was a very dull match which was clearly there for the time limit and nothing more. That being said, it was WAY too long with most of the match being spent on an armbar. There’s just nothing interesting about watching armbars and headlocks. I’ve seen a lot of thrilling technical matches and they can work very well, but this just wasn’t one of them.

After the WWF there was a stopover in Portland, including this match from September 3, 1983.

Assassin/Dynamite Kid vs. Buddy Rose/Curt Hennig

This is 2/3 falls. Before the match we’re told that Oliver and Assassin won the tag titles back a few days earlier. Also Owen picks now to announce Andre and Harley Race are coming soon. After about four minutes of disrobing, Hennig, who looks about 15 years old here, starts with Dynamite in what would be an awesome match four years from now. Dynamite flattens Hennig with a shoulder but Curt snaps up to a standoff. Off to a headlock by Kid before Assassin comes in. The announcers are talking about alcoholism for some reason.

The fans keep cheering for Curt but he gets dropped by a double headbutt. Hennig comes back with a big sunset flip for two on Dynamite but it’s back to Assassin. Apparently Hennig is Pacific Northwest Champion. Hennig fires off a right hand and a fireman’s carry but Dynamite breaks up the hot tag attempt. We hit the chinlock from Assassin but Curt finally fights up. Dynamite saves another hot tag and hits a top rope fist to give Assassin two. Kid comes in legally for another long chinlock but Hennig fights up and avoids a knee, allowing for the tag off to Rose.

Buddy cleans part of the house but gets caught in a few armdrags, only to come back with some dropkicks. Assassin tries a sunset flip but Rose rolls forward into a cradle for the first fall. Hot finish there. During the break between falls, Hennig, Rose and Hayes accept the challenge for the six man tag.

Back to the match with Rose hitting a quick dropkick on Assassin to send him to the floor. Assassin gets back in and takes over thanks to a cheap shot from Dynamite. Kid comes in legally and sends Rose into the buckle before dropping a knee for two. Back to Assassin for a knee drop of his own, followed by a standing knee to send Rose to the floor. Curt helps his partner back in but Rose is caught in a quick chinlock as the match keeps going.

Rose fights up as Dynamite tries to come in to break up the tag, only to have Curt make the save. Rose, known as a big guy, nips up but walks into a loaded headbutt from Assassin for the second fall. After a break we come back for another promo from the face guys. Curt talks about the people giving his team an edge over the Clan to be a good suck up. Rose says all three guys want a shot at NWA World Champion Harley Race.

We’re running out of TV time here and the third fall begins with Assassin pounding on Rose in the corner. Dynamite comes back in to crank on the arm and stomp on it on the mat. Not that it matters as Buddy gets over to the corner for the hot tag to Hennig. House is cleaned and the heels get caught in stereo abdominal stretches (big move back then), only to draw Oliver in for the DQ.

Rating: B. If you drop the promos in between the falls and have a better finish, this would have been a great match. The crowd was WAY into this and it’s easy to see why these guys would become big stars in the near future. The ending sets up the big six man in the near future and we got a good match out of it as well. Nice stuff here.

Next up was the AWA where Curt would get his start in a big tag team with Scott Hall before setting his sights on Nick Bockwinkel’s AWA World Title. The two would square off several times, including on December 26, 1986.

AWA World Title: Curt Hennig vs. Nick Bockwinkel

Feeling out process to start with Nick working on the arm but getting nowhere. They trade shoulder blocks until Curt gets two off a powerslam, sending the champion to the floor. Back in and Nick grabs a top wristlock but Curt looks more annoyed that hurt. Curt counters into one of his own before taking Nick to the mat and dropping knees on the champion’s arm. They hit the mat with Hennig working on a hammerlock and Nick having to fight his way over to the ropes in a nice sequence.

Some forearms put Curt on the floor but he slides right back in and rams Bockwinkel’s head into the buckle to take over. Nick comes right back by tripping Hennig and wrapping the knee around the post over and over. Back in and we hit a modified Indian deathlock from the champ. Nick adds some ax handles to the back of Hennig’s head and Curt screams about his leg. Curt headbutts his way to freedom but Bockwinkel goes right back to the leg to regain control.

Curt suddenly gets in a shot to the ribs and wraps Nick’s arm around the post. Oddly enough that goes nowhere at all as Bockwinkel shrugs it off and takes over again by taking Curt to the mat and dropping knees for two. Curt goes back to the arm but injures his own knee in the process to slow him right back down. Hennig drops some elbows for two but Nick grabs his sleeper to stop Curt in his tracks.

Hennig almost falls into the ropes for the break and puts on a sleeper of his own. Bockwinkel breaks it pretty easily but Hennig sends him into the buckle and drops a leg between Nick’s legs to keep control. Back up and both guys try right hands and they both go down. Nick is up first and throws Curt through the ropes, taking out a cameraman in the process.

Back in and another right hand gets two for the champion but Curt comes back with a quick dropkick for two. A small package gets the same and a second dropkick gets a VERY slow two count. Bockwinkel is sent into the referee and Hennig is able to counter the piledriver with a backdrop over the top rope. Back in and Curt’s missile dropkick connects but it’s a DQ because of sending Nick over the top.

Rating: C-. Long match here and entertaining but that’s the AWA in a nutshell for you: tease the title change as long as humanly possible, wait another two months and THEN change the title. Hennig was clearly the future as Bockwinkel was 52 years old at this point and still world champion. Nice match but the ending was obvious from a mile away.

Hennig would win the title about three months later and hold it for just over a year before jumping to the WWF like almost every other big star in the AWA. He would debut in July as Mr. Perfect and go undefeated for months, eventually facing the Blue Blazer at Wrestlemania V.

Mr. Perfect vs. Blue Blazer

That would be Owen Hart in a kind of superhero gimmick that eventually led to his death. Perfect is pretty new here too and I believe is debuting his singlet look. Hennig hits a quick hiptoss that doesn’t do much at all. Blazer blocks a slap and takes Perfect down to stagger Hennig a bit.

They slightly botch a flip out of a hiptoss and Blazer dropkicks Perfect to the floor. Blazer hits a quick hiptoss (why is that so popular here?) of his own and a dropkick for no cover. A modified northern lights suplex gets two for Blue but a top rope splash hits knees. Off to a reverse chinlock for a few moments by Perfect but Blazer fights up and hits a standing powerslam and a belly to belly for two each. A crucifix gets two more but Blazer spends too long arguing with the referee and the PerfectPlex ends this clean.

Rating: C+. This match is popular for some reason but it’s only pretty good. Owen would get to show off a lot better later on and the Blazer gimmick didn’t stick around that long. The ending here was clean too which is what Perfect would get quite often around this time. He wouldn’t really do anything of note for about a year though until having a house show feud with Hogan.

Perfect would finally lose a televised match at Wrestlemania VI against Brutus Beefcake. His record was good enough to get a match with Hulk Hogan at Saturday Night’s Main Event #26 though.

Mr. Perfect vs. Hulk Hogan

Dang, he main events Wrestlemania and less than four weeks later he’s opening a TV taping. I miss the awesome logos everyone used to have. They were so simple yet so cool at the same time. That gum slap never gets old. Hogan says that they’re perfect fools and that Hulkamania will never die. It’ll never retire either. Gene is wearing one of those southern ties where it goes into two parts if that makes sense. I hate those things.

Jesse points out something very funny by saying Hogan must be hard of hearing since it takes him four tries to hear the roar of the crowd. That’s very true. This was allegedly supposed to be the main event of Mania 6 after Perfect won the 1990 Rumble, but that show’s main event was changed so many times I’ve heard of at least 4 different possible main events that Vince was contemplating even up to the new year.

Compared to the previous year and Mania 5 where the main event was set in stone about 18 months in advance, that’s saying a lot. In a stunning turn of events, Perfect is in trouble at first but then takes over and the fans are SCARED! It’s weird hearing Vince and Jesse like this after hearing them on Raw three days ago. They’re almost perfect here and it’s sad that they didn’t use this formula on Monday night.

I love how Vince defended Hogan forever back then but today more or less hates his guts. We’re on the floor at this point with Hogan beating up Genius. This allows Perfect to get the scroll and blast him in the head with it. We take a break with Hogan in trouble and apparently this show is called the Tussle in Texas. I can’t stand gimmick names like that. They just sound stupid. Perfect is on control and you can hear the hearts of fans breaking everywhere.

This match feels really accelerated as Perfect controls for about two minutes before he Hulks Up and everything you expect to happen ends it. He beats up Genius afterwards to restore the glory of Hulkamania despite it never being gone in the first place. In a very interesting line, Vince calls Hogan the Brahma Bull. Holy goodness. Vince mentions to Jesse we have a Barbecue, and Jesse is none too pleased.

Rating: B-. This was Hogan 101 and it worked fine. It’s just weird seeing Hogan opening a show. This was fine as it was just a little TV match, but it was a perfect example of how to make Hogan look great and get a solid pop from the crowd. He was in trouble but he came back and defeated Perfect with relative ease. However, that’s the problem: he defeated Perfect with relative ease. Perfect was supposed to be a big deal but he looked like a jobber here. He would win the IC Title in a mostly fake tournament soon enough though, so that means enough I guess.

Due to Ultimate Warrior winning the WWF Title at Wrestlemania, a tournament was held for the vacant Intercontinental Title. Mr. Perfect made it to the finals against Tito Santana.

Intercontinental Title: Mr. Perfect vs. Tito Santana

Extended feeling out process to start with neither guy being able to take over. Perfect slaps him in the face and gets dropkicked out to the floor for his efforts. Back in and something resembling a slingshot shoulder gets two for Santana and we hit the arm wringer. Santana scores with some shoulder blocks but tries one too many and falls to the floor.

Tito starts a comeback but gets forearmed out to the floor just as quickly. Santana wraps the leg around the post and goes to work on it but here’s Bobby Heenan to debut as Perfect’s manager. Tito loads up the forearm but Heenan’s distraction lets Perfect get a quick small package for the title.

Rating: C-. Not much to see here but the match was just there to set up Heenan as the new manager. Perfect was a pretty obvious winner from the day the tournament began and there’s nothing wrong with that. He was overdue for a title reign at this point and the Intercontinental Title actually meant something at this point.

Perfect would hold the title for a year and a half other than a two and a half month reign by Texas Tornado. He would roll into Summerslam 1991 for a showdown with Bret Hart.

Intercontinental Title: Mr. Perfect vs. Bret Hart

Perfect has been champion since last November so he’s a pretty big deal. He also has his Coach (former wrestler John Tolos) with him. Stu and Helen Hart are in the audience to watch their son. Feeling out process to start with Bret scoring first by hip tossing Perfect to the floor. Back in and Bret grabs a headlock followed by a crucifix for two. Bret puts the headlock on again as Heenan and Piper are going to war on commentary. Gorilla: “WILL YOU STOP???”

Perfect grabs at the hair to escape and chops Bret’s chest off. A slam puts Bret down but he kicks Perfect away and slams him down, only to have Perfect kick him right back. Bret is all like screw this wrestling stuff and clotheslines Perfect to the floor. The champ tries to run but Bret throws him back in and the dude in pink is mad. Perfect gets in a HARD kick to the ribs and Bret is sent to the floor where Coach whistles at him.

Bret tries to get up but is knocked off the apron and right on top of a production guy who has a very confused look on his face. Back in and Bret jumps over Perfect in the corner and gets two off a rollup. The fans are WAY into this so far. Perfect sends Bret chest first into the buckle to take over again as Heenan is starting to lose his marbles. Another hard whip into the buckle gets two for the champion followed by the Hennig neck snap for two more.

Hart is sent to the floor for a bit and they both come back in on the top. It’s Bret crashing down to the mat to give Perfect two as Heenan is thinking Perfect should get himself disqualified. The champ hooks a sleeper but Bret fights up into a crucifix, only to be dropped down into a Samoan drop for two. The PerfectPlex looks to finish Bret but it only gets two, sending MSG into delirium.

Back up and Bret fights back, sending Perfect across the ring and crotch first into the post. A suplex and small package get two each for Bret and it’s Five Moves of Doom time. Bret yells at the referee and gets rolled up for two before Bret starts going after the knee. He loads up the Sharpshooter but he has to knock Coach to the floor. The distraction lets Perfect get in a shot to take over. Perfect drops a leg between Bret’s legs but as he tries it again, Bret grabs the leg and puts the Sharpshooter on from his back. He turns the hold over and Perfect submits really fast but it’s good for Bret’s first singles title.

Rating: A. Oh come on it’s Bret vs. Perfect from Summerslam 91. Do I really need to explain this one? It’s one of the best matches of all time and holds up over twenty years later. The counter by Bret is a great way to show how solid of a mat wrestler he was. Kicking out of the PerfectPlex was the perfect idea as Bret took the champ’s best shots and still won. It’s still excellent and required viewing for wrestling fans.

Perfect would take a year off from the ring due to injuries before coming back in late 1992 as a face. He would wrestle regularly for about a year before facing off with Shawn Michaels at Summerslam 1993 in a match about six months in the making.

Intercontinental Title: Mr. Perfect vs. Shawn Michaels

Shawn is defending. This match was literally months in the making with the WWF basically saying “this is going to be the match of the year, guaranteed.” To continue the theme of things that just aren’t the same today, Perfect is trying to become the first three time IC Champion. We also have Radio WWF with JR and Gorilla Monsoon doing commentary. Wrestling used to be broadcast on the radio back in the day, with legendary sportscaster Bob Costas doing commentary at one point.

Shawn easily takes it down to start but Perfect snapmares him down as well. Perfect takes over with an armdrag and drives some knees into the arm. Shawn comes back with a headlock out of the corner but Perfect avoids an elbow and we have a stalemate. Some LOUD chops in the corner snap Shawn’s head back and a clothesline turns him inside out for two. Back to the armbar on the champion but Shawn escapes and goes up top, only to dive into an armdrag.

Perfect puts on another armbar before catapulting Shawn out to the floor in a great crash. Perfect goes to the floor but has to stare at Diesel, giving Shawn an opening for the yet to be named Sweet Chin Music. Shawn hits an ax handle of the apron to Perfect’s back before heading back inside to drop knees onto the back. A hard whip into the corner puts Perfect down again and Shawn drops down onto Perfect’s back.

Off to a backbreaker with Shawn bending Perfect’s back over Shawn’s knee. A stiff right hand gets Perfect out and a running dropkick puts Shawn down again. Perfect gets two off an atomic drop before countering a backslide into the PerfectPlex, only to have Diesel pull the leg for the save. Diesel gets punched in the face before both guys brawl on the floor. Shawn slides back in to distract the referee, allowing Diesel to post Perfect for the countout.

Rating: C. This was ok and nothing higher than that. The ending was lame and the match was a bunch of arm/back work with no heat segment or drama at all. It was a one off match that collapsed under the weight that the company put on it by saying it would be a classic and all that jazz. Not much to see here.

That would be Curt’s last major match in the company as his back would flare up again a few months later, putting him back on the shelf for a few years. He would debut in WCW in 1997 and join the Four Horsemen, leading to WarGames at Fall Brawl 1997 against the NWO.

Team WCW vs. Team NWO

WCW: Ric Flair, Chris Benoit, Steve McMichael, Curt Hennig
NWO: Kevin Nash, Konnan, Syxx, Buff Bagwell

WarGames here and here are the rules for the two of you that have somehow never seen this match. You start off with a guy from each team for five minutes. After that a coin toss will be won by the heels and they get an advantage for two minutes. After those two minutes are up another person comes in from the team that loss the coin toss. You alternate like that every two minutes until all eight are in and then it’s first submission (no pins) wins it. Also in a double cage of course.

This is more or less a revenge feud for the Horsemen after the parody that the NWO did on Nitro which was so dead on that it was hilarious while being totally disrespectful. The teams are at ringside here which would go back and forth. Not that it means anything but these entrances are long so I need to fill in space. Also this is the final traditional WarGames match, meaning it’s more or less destined to suck.

No Hennig here due to the beatdown earlier. Bagwell vs. Benoit to start. This should be a massacre and very fun. This is for five minutes remember. Tony brings up a great point: is there NO ONE else in WCW that could be out there? They waste like thirty seconds before Bagwell slaps Benoit. This is young and violent Benoit so how do you think this is going to go for Bagwell?

All Benoit here since Bagwell kind of, uh, sucks. Swan Dive misses so Bagwell unleashes his variety of stomps and sends Benoit into the cage. Bagwell is really weak on offense here. Surprisingly enough they haven’t messed with the clock yet. They’ve stayed in the same ring here for the most part. Bagwell backdrops him into the cage and yells at Flair a bit. Shockingly enough: the NWO wins the toss. Literally, no face team EVER won a coin toss in WCW. Ever. Not even once.

Benoit takes over with about 20 seconds to go and it’s Konnan to give them the 2-1 advantage. Benoit seems to like the idea of being in trouble and beats them both up. This lasts two minutes remember. Somehow being down 2-1 makes Benoit do better for a minute or so until the numbers finally catch up to him. Mongo, US Champion at the time, comes in and beats up everyone.

Benoit is perfectly fine. I mean they’ve only beaten on him for seven minutes so far so do you really expect him to be beaten already? The Horsemen dominate for most of the 2-2 period and it’s Syxx in next. And that results badly for him as he gets destroyed by Benoit. Total star making performance by him so far. Crossface to Syxx who taps but it doesn’t matter yet.

The NWO finally fights back about halfway through this period. With 40 seconds left here’s Hennig with his arm in a sling. Oh just have him wearing the NWO shirt already. Flair comes in and cleans house. Nash comes in after the Horsemen dominate for a good while. He dominates the entire team and Bagwell couldn’t be happier. HUGE We Want Sting chant goes up but you all know the ending already don’t you? If not, GO READ A FREAKING BOOK PEOPLE.

The Horsemen take over again before the period ends and here’s Hennig. Flair has Syxx in the Figure Four and there goes the sling on Hennig. He pulls out handcuffs and yep there it is. Seriously, did ANYONE buy that he wasn’t turning here? Tony of course calls it this huge charade and no one but him agrees.

Benoit is cuffed to the cage as is Mongo. Again, IS THERE NO ONE ELSE IN ALL OF WCW??? Flair is destroyed and a referee brings a microphone into the ring. Nash offers the Horsemen the chance to surrender and they all say no. After a long beatdown they give Mongo the chance to surrender to save Flair from having the door slammed on his head. Mongo gives in and they slam the door anyway. This would results in a huge blood feud between Hennig and Flair and Tony walking off the show the next night. The sight of Flair writhing in pain and holding his head ends the show.

Rating: C. Not the strongest WarGames to say the least, namely due to the Horsemen never being in trouble at all for the most part and the really stupid ending. That being said, WarGames is in itself inherently cool and this is no exception. Benoit looked AWESOME in there but of course he would never go anywhere in WCW until he was about to leave. Definitely not the best WarGames, but the Benoit dominance was a cool visual.

Hennig would win the US Title a few weeks later and hold it until Starrcade 1997 where he dropped it to Diamond Dallas Page. He wouldn’t do much of note for several months due to injuries and personal issues until getting a world title match against new champion Goldberg at Bash at the Beach 1998.

WCW World Title: Goldberg vs. Curt Hennig

No Rude for the challenger tonight. Goldberg runs him over to start and hits a kind of release belly to belly, sending Curt into the corner. Goldberg uses his legs to take Hennig down and Curt bails to the floor. Back in and Goldberg charges into a boot in the corner but Hennig gets caught in a gorilla press powerslam. Curt goes after the knee with a chop block and some cannonballs. The HennigPlex gets two and it’s the spear and Jackhammer to retain the title.

Rating: D. You know all those other Goldberg matches? Read whatever I said about any of those and swap out whatever that opponent’s name for Curt Hennig.

Hennig would drop way down the card soon after this and enter into the tag division, hooking up with Barry Windham for a team that would have been awesome ten years earlier. They would enter a double elimination tournament for the vacant Tag Titles, culminating at SuperBrawl IX.

Tag Titles: Barry Windham/Curt Hennig vs. Dean Malenko/Chris Benoit

Since WCW is stupid, in this case if the cowboys get the first win, they win the titles (they’re vacant coming in). If the Horsemen (Malenko/Benoit as it occurs to me that all four have been Horsemen at one point) win the first fall, they have a second match. The cowboys have beaten the Horsemen once already in this tournament. Tony goes into a long explanation of how the teams have motivation to win the match, because WINNING THE TITLES isn’t a good enough reason.

 

Dean and Barry start things off with Barry running away a lot. They go to the mat and Dean rolls Windham around a bit so it’s a double tag. Tony explains how three of the four guys in here are second generation wrestlers. Heenan: “So is (referee) Mickie Jay.” Tony: “Who is his father?” Heenan: “Well he wasn’t a wrestling referee. He umpired a peewee football league in Moline, Illinois.” Heenan’s on tonight with the comedy.

 

Hennig gets chopped to the floor and runs from Malenko. Off to Barry vs. Benoit Windham gets thrown around and it’s off to Malenko who hits a dropkick but I think Windham was supposed to hold the rope to avoid the contact. There might have been a tag in there somewhere but it’s Barry vs. Dean still anyway. Even Tony says that was kind of odd. Hennig comes in for a double clothesline which missed but Dean sells it for two anyway.

 

Dean manages a bridging pin of some sort as the crowd is quiet again. That’s a shame as they were white hot for the opener. Dean rolls through and tags Benoit in after not having much damage done to him. Chris cleans house and backdrops a cheating Windham. Backbreaker gets two on Curt. Back to Dean who gets two off a belly to back suplex. Benoit comes in again and the referee literally has his back to the action for about 20 seconds. Swan Dive hits Hennig but Windham makes the save again.

 

Now Dean covers him but the referee STILL isn’t paying attention. It’s not even a heel thing. He’s just not doing that well in this match. The fans are booing him now. Curt gets crotched on the top so Dean dropkicks him down to the apron. Everything breaks down and throwing someone over the top isn’t a DQ this time for whatever reason. The referee is with Barry again but turns around to see Hennig hit Dean low. Think that’s a DQ? Nope, as Barry comes back in to suplex Malenko for two.

 

Now the referee doesn’t pay attention as the Cowboys beat up Malenko on the floor. Barry covers him with one hand for two and it’s back to Hennig. The fans aren’t thrilled with this match. Benoit comes in before he’s tagged but the referee is cool with that. The crowd is dying quickly. Back to Barry who hits the superplex but Dean saves. By “saves”, I mean doesn’t touch him but Barry jumps off Benoit anyway. This is like a comedy of errors.

 

The Cowboys hit a double suplex (after messing up a bit first of course) for two. Hennig hits his necksnap for two. Heenan wants a flamethrower brought in here. Tony: “You are an idiot.” Dean makes a save off a Windham something that we don’t see. This match is going on WAY too long. Benoit finally breaks through and gets the hot tag. Everything breaks down and on the second attempt, the Cloverleaf makes Windham tap.

 

We get a thirty second rest period between falls here. The Horsemen hammer on Hennig during the break and Dean goes for the Cloverleaf again. Windham chokes him out with a belt and pins him to win the titles in 20 seconds.

 

Rating: D. I love the Horsemen but the refereeing was HORRIBLE here. Actually most of the match was horrible here. Aside from that, Benoit still hasn’t won a title at this point. Instead we get a title on BARRY FREAKING WINDHAM??? In 1989 sure but in 1999? Seriously? A boring match and stupid stipulations so that Benoit and Malenko can win and then not get the titles anyway. Stupid all around, but such is WCW. Malenko and Benoit would get the titles in three weeks and lose them in another two weeks.

Hennig wouldn’t do much over the rest of the year, though he would lose a retirement match to Buff Bagwell at Mayhem, putting him out of action for a grand total of eight days. That would pretty much be it for Hennig in WCW as he would have a lame feud with Shawn Stasiak before leaving in June. After a year or so on the indies, he would head back to the WWF for a few months and look good, only to get fired after getting drunk on an infamous flight. He made another indy run and jumped to the newly formed TNA for a quick feud with Jeff Jarrett, including this match from December 11, 2002.

NWA World Title: Jeff Jarrett vs. Curt Hennig

Curt is challenging of course. He’s also a heel here which might clear up a few things later. Feeling out process to start with neither guy being able to get anywhere. We get a standing switch and the fans think it was gay. Ok then. Hennig takes him to the mat with a headlock and lets go for no apparent reason before doing it again and getting another standoff. Jeff gets in the first good offense with a dropkick before taking Hennig to the floor and getting very aggressive with right hands.

A chair shot has Hennig in even more trouble, but remember that a DQ can change a title in TNA. Jarrett rams him into the chair before putting his hand on the guitar but changing his mind. Back in and Curt takes him down for a quick Robinsdale Crunch. The fans are behind Jarrett as Hennig works over the knee by wrapping it around the post. Back in and Hennig puts on a leglock for a good while as the crowd stays behind Jeff.

The champ gets out and hits a quick enziguri to set up a catapult into the buckle. Jarrett’s knee is perfectly fine in a hurry. The buckle pad is pulled off and Curt goes face first into the steel, setting up the worst ref bump I can remember in years. Jarret grabs the guitar but puts it down, only to have Hennig hit him low. Vince Russo runs in and hits Hennig with the guitar (doesn’t even break) and Jarrett retains.

Rating: D+. This wasn’t the worst match in the world but it was clear that Hennig was there to collect a paycheck and little more. Jarrett was doing what he could in TNA at this point but there wasn’t much interest. Russo helping Jarrett against his will was the start of the first big storyline TNA had which helped them out a good bit.

Curt Hennig would be dead less than two months later due to a cocaine overdose.

Hennig was a guy who could have been a huge star and got pretty close when you think about it. That being said, his personal issues held him back so much that he hit his peak in the early 90s and pretty much coasted for the rest of his career. Hennig’s stuff as Mr. Perfect was some excellent work but he was stuff in the Hogan/Warrior years, meaning there was no way Curt was getting a title run. He’s an excellent talent, but I wouldn’t look at his work past 1993 as it really drops fast.

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