Norman Smiley vs. Dean Malenko
Aired 23 November, 1997
Universal Studios; Orlando, FL
This was an awesome display of mat wrestling. A number of people would watch this and talk about how great it was, but at the same time shit all over something like Negro Navarro vs. Solar when in general, this was the same basic type of match. I would say the only real difference here is that Malenko and Smiley worked out of the holds, where Navarro/Solar tend to work a more "catch-and-release" style that can sometimes be very frustrating to watch.
A lot of people watching this probably do not know that Smiley migrated to the US from Mexico, where he had a very successful run under the name "Black Magic" - even winning the CMLL Heavyweight Championship. So, it was right up his alley to head into WCW and have a grappling contest with the "Man of 1000 Holds", who showed off about fifty of them in this match.
I gotta be honest though, I dunno how much a real wrestling crowd would have been reacting to this match. These Universal Studio tapings have obvious piped in sound, and in addition they actually had "boo/cheer" signs for the audience so they knew what to do and when. So, although this match seems to have an excited crowd with them hold-for-hold, they probably would have been booed out of the building on a live Nitro.
That doesn't mean the match isn't good - it means that people are stupid and suck.