Sting vs. Cactus Jack (WCW Beach Blast 6/20/92)

Match Reviews

This review was commissioned by Coop C over on my Ko-fi account.

I have so much love for matches that refuse to waste anybody’s time. That’s true here in that this match, the tenth best of 1992, runs just under twelve minutes from bell to bell. But being short is not an accomplishment in itself (though it does often help), being efficient is far more important. We get that here, with the first few seconds of this match telling us everything we need about these two men and the dynamic they’re playing with. Cactus Jack doesn’t bother getting in the ring, instead to choosing to wait for Sting up on the ramp, and Sting shows no fear and charges head on to get into a slugfest.

WWE, GIF-ed by Joseph Montecillo

Then we get this tiny interaction that speaks volumes about both men’s strategies. Cactus tries to hip toss the Stinger off the ramp and the champ reverses it into a backslide. There’s a real innate charm to Sting trying to contain this madman with just straight up, fundamentally sound pro wrestling. A small spot like that does so much to illustrate the reasons why I love this match. Perhaps chief among is that it feels true to life of how a World Champion wrestler in Sting tries to neutralize this chaotic force in Cactus Jack.

From there, the match becomes about finding a middle ground for the Stinger to be able to work in. Not only using the more clever and fundamental wrestling technique to try to contain Jack, but also to rise to the challenge of this particular bout and find just enough brutality to overcome such a crazed opponent. The latter plays out in a rather nuanced way too, with Sting only ever escalating when Cactus attempts or threatens too first. Cactus tries to ram Sting into the guardrail? Fine, Sting plays that game, and boy does Cactus eat a whole plate of shit on those guardrail shots. The angle’s never entirely clear on the footage, but what we do see makes it sound like Cactus is simply allowing his skull to meet the steel repeatedly, and given all the other things he does in this match, that’s probably the truth of it as well. Later on, Cactus brings a chair into play, and so fine, when Sting gets his hands on it then it really is just fair game. Real simple eye for an eye stuff that can elevate such a wild brawl.

As is well known and legendary about this match, Cactus Jack puts in a hell of a bumping performance. All these years later, it still stands out as some truly reckless stuff, perhaps unmatched in Stinger’s circle until a little twerp of a man would appear in the 2020s. Jack throws himself at everything in this match, whether it’s leaping off the apron or the ropes to dive at Sting, or even just leaping off to catch Sting off guard. There’s the famous leaping sunset flip off the apron that Cactus does, not because it hurts Sting more to take what is just a pinfall combination, but more just cause it’s such an obscene angle to do it from that nobody could possibly see it coming. To Sting’s credit too, watch that man actively resist the momentum of coming down for that sunset flip. Just a little bit of extra fight before going down that makes this all feel that much more real.

I mentioned earlier that for Stinger, it’s about finding the balance of the brawl and the wrestling that gets him the win. Specifically, it’s about keeping up enough with Jack in this crazed stipulation before finding just the right shot to finally get him down. One gets the sense that within the context of this match, Jack needs the stipulation way more. The action takes a bit of a dip in the ring, and Jack in control in there doesn’t feel quite as good as anything else in the match. Sting gets used to the hardcore waters, and it’s enough so that the end he can catch Jack with a big shot: that running lariat down the big ramp, which sets up the big leaping clothesline for the win.

But it really is all about balance. Twice in this match, he overreaches and it costs him his control. Both times, it’s because he dives in for the Stinger Splash, only for Jack to evade and lead to Sting crashing into steel.

Sure hope that doesn’t haunt him about a month later.

IS IT BETTER THAN 6/3/94? I mentioned it in the Best of 92 video, but yes, quite easily. Something so compact, rich with character, and explosive as this really stands out as a stark contrast to my main criticisms of the King’s Road classic.

Rating: ****1/2

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