The journey continues! I'm already four shows into the nWo run, and now I'm up to a big one: Fall Brawl '96. At this point, the new World order had gotten stronger, as Ted DiBiase and The Giant had joined Hogan & The Outsiders. War Games was signed to pit nWo against WCW, but there were also mind games going on, as the loyalty of Sting was being questioned. Really, everything tonight is built upon the one match, making the rest most likely forgettable (although I'm hoping for a few gems as I go through the review). Let's get to it.
WCW Fall Brawl '96 |
Posted by the Accelerator, February 11th, 2013
- Interestingly, my video has a "Countdown" show for the pay-per-view on it, which actually works well. It gives me a good update on storylines that have taken place over the previous few weeks. With that in mind, I'll start the review with the last part of the Countdown show (hosted by Mean Gene Okerlund) and continue from there.
- It's great to see some promotional material for Fall Brawl that just features Sgt. Craig Pittman. Hilarious, when you think about it. I mean, that's like Santino Marella getting the full promotion for a card.... oh. Nevermind.
- Mean Gene covers how Sting & Luger confronted the Horsemen (Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Mongo McMichael, & Chris Benoit) on a Nitro about the "major problem" in WCW. War Games is a "Horsemen" match, but Sting & Luger want the spots of Mongo & Benoit, since they've wrestled in War Games before. Flair & Anderson agree (with Mongo & Benoit stepping down), and we have our team.
- Of course, things changed after that. Mean Gene briefly covers how Ted DiBiase surprisingly showed up as the 'fourth' member of the nWo, bank-rolling them. He also mentions how The Giant turned on WCW and sided with the nWo, which was a huge blow.
- We then get clips of the 'turn' of Sting. We see Nick Patrick coming down during a Lex Luger/Rick Steiner match and telling Luger that something was happening out back. We see DiBiase standing outside a limo, with Sting's voice coming out. Luger shows up and wants to know where Sting is. "Sting" then comes out of the limo and attacks Luger, with the announcers in total shock as the rest of the nWo joins in a Luger beat-down.
- Mean Gene speculates on who will be the fourth member of the WCW team, and the fourth member of the nWo team. It's unknown at this point.
- After a break, Mean Gene finally shows us shots of The Giant coming in during an nWo beatdown and choke-slamming The Barbarian, joining the nWo. He choke-slams Meng as well. Savage comes down and attacks all nWo members with chairshots, but he misses Hogan, allowing him to be taken down (and low blowed). The Giant chokeslams Savage, which will lead to the Savage/Giant match at Fall Brawl.
- Mean Gene briefly covers the other matches, showing how much they matter *lol*. The countdown then wraps up, which means it's showtime...
And now, our feature presentation...
- While I don't have an official cover, I know what it looks like, featuring Ric Flair and "Hollywood" Hulk Hogan shown in front of a steel cage.
- "You want a war? You're going to get one!" The show starts with a pretty impressive montage of the new World order, showing everything that's happened in the last few months. We see the first appearances of Hall & Nash, Bischoff getting powerbombed through the stage, Hogan betraying WCW to form the nWo, Hogan winning the WCW World Title and spray-painting it, Luger & Sting attacking a limo (to try and see who's in it), DiBiase showing up as the 4th member of the nWo, The Giant turning on WCW and joining them, and the recent actions of "Sting" apparently doing the same. Great starting video, it got me energized for this one.
- The announcers are Tony Schiavone, Dusty Rhodes, & Bobby "The Brain" Heenan.
- We've got two rings set up for tonight's War Games match, side by side. That will come into play in at least a few matches tonight.
- The early talking point is, of course, about Sting "obviously" turning on WCW. We see the footage again, with the beatdown. We also see the nWo destroying Lex Luger's car on WCW Saturday Night. No one knows who the fourth man will be for WCW's team.
Diamond Dallas Page vs. Chavo Guerrero Jr, "Special Grudge" Match:
Backstory: In recent months, Diamond Dallas Page had been defending the BattleBowl ring that he had won at Slamboree '96. On Clash of the Champions XXXIII, Page put up his ring against Eddie Guerrero, but this time, Guerrero came out on top, winning via a frogsplash. Afterwards, DDP went for a handshake, but instead hit several Diamond Cutters on Eddie, injuring him, until Chavo Jr came out to his uncle's aid. Page has been feuding with the Guerrero family over the subsequent weeks, leading to tonight's contest.
The Match: I'm a little surprised to be seeing this one start us off, as I'm so used to Mysterio kicking things off. I guess they're saving him for later. Chavo Jr, though inexperienced according to the announcers, starts off strong with dropkicks followed by a flip over the top rope to the floor. Chavo Jr dominates on the outside for a while, even using a belt to whip Page. Even Heenan thinks he should be disqualified, but the ref lets it go. Back in the ring, we get arm bars, which slows down the flow greatly. Chavo Jr eventually makes a mistake, trying to dropkick Page in the ropes and missing (going through them instead), and Page takes over for a while. Chavo comes back with a series of leaps off the turnbuckle, but he can't put DDP away.
Page comes back again and actually tosses Chavo Jr from one ring to the other, to the cheers of the crowd. We're going back and forth, with both wrestlers trying hard to win. The fans are biting on each roll up and pin attempt, especially after DDP hits a spinning powerbomb that gets the crowd roaring. Page calls for the Diamond Cutter, looking to end it. He goes for it, with Chavo Jr reversing into a backslide attempt. But DDP stomps on Chavo Jr's foot, freeing himself, and then the Diamond Cutter successfully hits. The pin is academic, as DDP gets the clean victory.
Ace Thoughts: More impressive match than I was expecting, although it's not a tremendous 5-star classic or anything. Chavo Jr did the best he could with his limited experience, landing some nice moves, and DDP impressed the crowd with a few of his own. Clearly, the Diamond Cutter was getting over at this point. Poor Chavo Jr fades out after this, with DDP & Eddie Guerrero taking over the main part of the feud for the next several months. Chavo Jr would eventually have a good run, but it would take time (as well as a wooden stick horse, as I recall).
- Mean Gene summarizes all of the nWo history. He did it in the Countdown show above, so I won't go into it again here.
- As the participants for the next match come down, Schiavone talks about all the demands that the nWo is making, including their own television show and bills paid.
Scott Norton vs. Ice Train w/ Teddy Long, Submission Match:
Backstory: Norton & Ice Train, at one time, were a tag-team called "Fire And Ice". But the team fell apart when Norton attacked Train, ending the partnership. At Hog Wild '96, the two were set to face off, only to have Train get his shoulder injured by The Giant the night before. This didn't stop Norton from targeting the shoulder during the match, eventually beating Ice Train. At Clash of the Champions XXXIII, Norton attacked Ice Train again (this time during an online session), continuing the feud. The two signed to have a "Submission" Match here tonight to finally settle things.
The Match: From these two wrestlers, all you can expect is power and more power. The fans don't seem to be into it, honestly, as they beat on each other. Heenan makes a point that you get nothing by knocking your opponent out, since they wouldn't be able to submit. Dusty immediately brings up the "ventriloquist" possibility. This idea would later be converted for Mankind/Rock in the WWF. It's basically a slow contest. Long is giving advice to Ice Train throughout, although he also teases throwing the towel in when Ice Train gets stuck in an arm submission from Norton. The announcers quickly point out that Ice Train would have to submit, not his manager. Late in the match, Long became involved again, coming onto the apron with the towel, but this time Norton grabs him and drags him in, holding him in the air. Ice Train takes advantage, getting his full nelson locked in. Norton's down on the ground and gives up, giving Ice Train the win.
Ace Thoughts: Uh, yeah. This was a tough match to get through. I wouldn't it call terrible, just... slow. Who convinced the higher-ups that a submission match would be good between these two? A Falls Count Anywhere or a Steel Cage, maybe, but not a submission match. Sadly, this was about the biggest win left in Ice Train's career, as he really dropped down the card after this, only wrestling on one more WCW pay-per-view (World War III '96). Norton, meanwhile, will salvage his WCW career, ironically, by joining the new World order soon enough.
- "The Professor" Mike Tenay is joining us for the next match, asking whether a great little man can compete with a great big man. As Tenay's talking, Guerrera trips over the ring steps, falling backwards. Bad timing on that one.
Konnan(c) w/ Jimmy Hart vs. Juventud Guerrera, Mexican Heavyweight Title Match:
Backstory: Konnan has been wrestling in WCW for a while now, having a long stint as the WCW United States Champion. He lost the belt, though, to Ric Flair at Bash At The Beach '96, and has since become more of a thug, taking the cheap way out when he can. He's gotten such a bad rep that he was recruited by "The Taskmaster" Kevin Sullivan into the Dungeon of Doom. Juventud, meanwhile, is making his first WCW appearance, after time spent with his father (Fuerza Guerrera) in AAA. Guerrera is replacing Psicosis, who was injured (supposedly by Konnan) and kept out of the match. For the record, Juventud is wearing his mask at this point.
The Match: Nick Patrick is our referee, but thankfully he has little effect on this match. We begin with Konnan dominating, throwing Guerrera around like he's nothing. Guerrera responds with a triple jump over two rings to nail him! Nice move, although the crowd didn't really react to it. We go outside, with Konnan powerbombing Guerrera on the outside mats. Ouch. After some submission holds are applied, we get back to the high-flying, and the fans are finally starting to get into it. Late in the match, Guerrera goes up top and hits his 450 splash, but the announcers all basically miss it, due to Rhodes talking about Nick Patrick. They're not helping this contest. Konnan comes back with some nice moves, including one that looks like Samoa Joe's Muscle Buster. Juvy kicks out of it, but Konnan doesn't let him get away, landing a "Power Drop" (Splash Mountain-like maneuver) off the turnbuckle for the victory, retaining the title.
Ace Thoughts: Way too much time given to this match considering that the fans had no idea who Juventud was. There were some nice moves, as you would expect, but there were also several blown spots. The announcers also annoyed me, as only Tenay seemed intent on putting over the wrestlers. The rest wanted to talk about Patrick, about the nWo, and about anything else, but I suppose they weren't prepared for the switch-out of opponents, either. I'd expect more from Guerrera/Konnan, so maybe that's part of the reason I wasn't a huge fan of this one. Guerrera really wouldn't hit the big time in WCW until he lost his mask in '98, while Konnan's alliance with The Dungeon of Doom would continue for several more months.
Chris Benoit vs. Chris Jericho:
Backstory: Jericho just came to WCW a few weeks before, and is competing in his first WCW pay-per-view. He was coming from a run in ECW, which got people talking about him. Benoit's a member of the Four Horsemen at this point, but he also has history with Jericho in other parts of the world, which, surprisingly, the announcers mention. But then, what else did they have to talk about a "thrown-together" match?
The Match: Surprisingly, we start off with the two men jawing at each other, followed by an exchange of slaps, which is won by Benoit. That got the crowd hot early, which is what you want to see for a 'throwaway' match. A lot of the first part of this one is Benoit dominating (including a Lion's Tamer variation), with Jericho only able to get in some pinning combinations and some legwhips. He fires up, though, with his springboard dropkick to knock Benoit to the outside. He follows it up with a back elbow drop outside, in a nice maneuver, and I'm suddenly remembering that I'm not supposed to call every move. It's hard not to, when you've got a good match like this one.
Worth mentioning is that Jericho climbs the turnbuckle and gives the fans a yell, and receives a lot of boos. This is the beginning of Jericho's heel turn, in a way, as the fans are much more behind Benoit. Jericho gets in a few more moves, but then Benoit actually suplexes Jericho over the ropes and to the outside! Ouch. He brings Jericho back in and taunts him about wanting to be famous, before kicking him in the head. Benoit dominates for a long while, including submission holds and the Swan Dive headbutt. Jericho's offense becomes desperation counter pin attempts. Jericho's big comeback is when he reverses a tombstone piledriver. He misses a Lionsault, but a lariat crushes Benoit, putting Jericho in control. But Jericho later makes a huge mistake, getting caught on the turnbuckle (and racked). Schiavone mentions that Jericho's head hit the ringpost. Benoit takes full advantage with a high back superplex, and it's over.
Ace Thoughts: Amazing match, and I shouldn't be surprised by that, but I didn't know if a "non-promoted" match could get the fans going like that. But Benoit and Jericho put together their first great WCW match, and it's a shame that it's mostly forgotten by most even today. This was just a sign of things to come for these two superstars. Benoit would continue to work with the Four Horsemen and would continue his long-running feud with Kevin Sullivan, while Jericho would get into a memorable (and not in a good way) feud with referee Nick Patrick and the nWo.
Rey Mysterio(c) vs. Super Calo, WCW Cruiserweight Title Match:
Backstory: This would be Super Calo's first pay-per-view appearance for WCW, as he'd been a growing star in Mexico's AAA organization. Mysterio, meanwhile, had been on a roll, winning the Cruiserweight Title from Dean Malenko and defending it all summer and fall against some top international athletes (such as Ultimo Dragon and Psicosis). As Mysterio approaches the ring, he says "I've got the Cruiserweight Title! Dean, I'm looking for you!" So I guess the Mysterio/Malenko feud is still on-going in the background, as Dean has been trying to find a way to reclaim the gold for months now.
The Match: "The Professor" Mike Tenay is back to give us a lot of knowledge about Super Calo's background, to let the fans know who this masked guy (with painted sunglasses) is. Surprisingly, Super Calo is in full control early on, dominating the champion. Mysterio comes back with his usual moves, sending Super Calo from the ring (and far away, so he can't get jumped on). Mysterio's momentum doesn't last long, as Super Calo's quickly back in charge. It's like they've asked Super Calo to show off each and every move he's got. That includes some amazing high-flying moves on the outside.
Back in the ring, Super Calo keeps up the abuse, actually taking the folks to the other wrestling ring. Super Calo's doing some good moves, but just like Jericho, the fans aren't getting behind him. They keep switching rings, which is apparently legal, as referee Anderson just keeps following them. Super Calo does several submission holds in a row, which doesn't go over quite as well as Benoit/Jericho. Even when Mysterio comes back, Super Calo finds a way to counter to take him down again. Finally, though, the champion starts getting some of his high-flying moves in, taking it to Super Calo. In the end, after a few more exchanges, Mysterio finds himself between the ropes of the two rings, with Super Calo down in ring 2. Mysterio springboards off the ropes of ring 2, flipping backwards into ring 1. He then comes back and jumps up, springboarding off of BOTH ring 1 and then ring 2's ropes before getting the hurricanrana pin on Super Calo for the victory!! Amazing move, worth checking out Here. Mysterio taunts Malenko with the belt one more time before leaving, saying that he's looking for him.
Ace Thoughts: That final move really brings the match up at least half a star from me, as it was beautifully performed. That being said, for a WCW cruiserweight match, this one just didn't hit the levels I was expecting. Maybe my hopes were set too high, or maybe (most likely) it was because they pushed Super Calo a little too heavily. Either way, it was a good match, but not near a great one. Super Calo would hang around WCW for a few more years, but rarely had any success when compared to other luchadores. Mysterio went back to his Malenko feud, and would be facing him for the championship at Halloween Havoc.
Harlem Heat (Booker T & Stevie Ray)(c) w/ Colonel Robert Parker & Sister Sherri) vs. The Nasty Boys (Brian Knobbs & Jerry Sags):
Backstory: Harlem Heat and the Nasty Boys had faced off numerous times at big events, going back to Clash of the Champions XXIX in November '94. At this point, the Nasty Boys were considered the 'face' team, as Harlem Heat had been using Parker & Sherri to win matches with powder to the eyes and cane shots.
The Match: After Benoit/Jericho and Super Calo/Mysterio, this one's just going to feel slow. We get a lot of punching and striking at the beginning, with the Nasty Boys taking control, only to have Sags get distracted by Sherri. This leads to Knobbs taking a beating for a while. Sags finally gets the hot tag to come in, taking down both men. Sherri tries to distract again, but that just leads to her getting thrown into the ring and knocked out! Sags works to put Booker T away, but Parker manages to trip him with the cane, causing Sags to go after him... and get clotheslined by Stevie Ray. Now Sags is the one in trouble, but he eventually manages to nail both Harlem Heat members and tag in Knobbs, and the Nasty Boys are on fire! Knobbs hits Booker T with a flying splash, but Parker distracts the referee, so Sags takes Parker out. But, as always, this is a mistake, as Sherri comes into the ring and smashes Knobbs with the cane, allowing Booker T to get the weak pin for the victory, retaining the titles.
Ace Thoughts: I've seen worse, but this one had WAY too much interference for me to enjoy it. Talk about weakening the perceived strength of Harlem Heat! I mean, if it wasn't for 987 distractions and interventions from Sherri & Parker, they would have lost! Rough match to get through, with only a few slivers of brilliance here and there.
- Mike Tenay interviews "Macho Man" Randy Savage in the back about the Giant. Savage is pumped up about fighting the nWo turncoat, but he's also wanting to get his hands on Hollywood Hogan. Priorities, Randy! You've got a freakin' Giant to beat first!
"Macho Man" Randy Savage vs. The Giant:
Backstory: After Hall, Nash, & Hogan got together to form the new World order, they touted that they would have new members coming soon. The Giant seemed to be on the side of WCW, but lost the WCW World Title to Hogan at Hog Wild '96, leading to the belt being spray-painted. A few weeks later, the nWo brought in Ted DiBiase to be their fourth member, and touted that a fifth would be joining them soon. The fifth turned out to be The Giant, who betrayed WCW (and the Dungeon of Doom) to join the nWo, giving them a huge power edge. That same night, Savage attacked the nWo, but was unable to fight off the power numbers, getting chokeslammed by the Giant in the end. That leads us to tonight's contest, as the Giant is in Savage's way to Hogan.
The Match: The referee chosen for this match is Nick Patrick, who has been showing nWo tendencies lately. Savage, at first, refuses to allow the Giant in the ring, kicking at him when he tries, so the Giant pulls Savage out and we fight on the outside to begin. The Giant is soon in firm control, both out and in the ring, throwing Savage around like crazy. Savage's only attack is to go after the Giant's knees, to try and cut him down to size. When Savage can't pin the Giant, though, he goes for the slam, managing to bodyslam the monster! Take that, Hulk! The flying elbow drop connects, but now Hogan's out to pull the Giant from the ring before Savage can pin him. Savage goes after Hogan, but the rest of the nWo attack Savage with a chair (and where's WCW at this point? Nobody watching?). Of course, Nick Patrick isn't seeing it, instead facing the Giant and talking to him about, uh, something. Savage gets rolled back into the ring, and the Giant puts him away for the victory.
Ace Thoughts: Oy. I get that they need to keep the nWo strong, but this was once where all the interference shouldn't have been fully necessary. It was bad booking to put Savage and the Giant into this match, where neither could afford a clean loss. It does bug me that, after multiple months of the nWo assaulting WCW members, no WCW stars were ready to help Savage. I mean, at least send a mid-carder or two out to be squashed! Anyhow, forgettable match, so put it aside.
- The WCW War Games team is in the back with Mike Tenay, to talk about which Horsemen was replacing Sting in the match. Flair says the Horsemen have stepped aside, so I guess there's not a replacement. Anderson says WCW lost an icon, but the Horsemen are going to kick ass. Sting then appears, stating that it wasn't him at Nitro, and that he hasn't joined the nWo. Unfortunately, Luger doesn't believe him, saying that he looked into the Stinger's eyes on Nitro. A frustrated Sting says he'll see them "in a while" and leaves. Flair pumps Luger up, as they head out to 'walk the aisle'.
Team WCW (Ric Flair, Lex Luger, Arn Anderson, & Sting) vs. Team nWo (Hollywood Hogan, The Outsiders [Kevin Nash & Scott Hall], and one other w/ Ted DiBiase), War Games Match:
Backstory: I think I've covered most of the nWo history beforehand, so I'll leave that for you to read above. The background to this match in particular is that it was originally set up for the Four Horsemen (Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Chris Benoit, & Steve "Mongo" McMichael) to face the nWo in the War Games match. However, Lex Luger & Sting confronted the Horsemen, wanting to fight the nWo and stand for WCW. Flair & Anderson agreed, giving up Benoit & McMichaels' spots to Luger & Sting. However, speculation began to grow that a member of the team might be on the nWo's side, and that seemed confirmed when it appeared Sting came out of an nWo limo and beat down Luger, turning on WCW. As stated above, though, Sting denied that it was him.
The Match: We start out with Arn Anderson and Scott Hall brawling it out for five minutes. Anderson eventually takes over, getting some submission holds on Hall, before the 5 minutes are up and Kevin Nash comes out (the nWo apparently won the coin toss). The Outsiders beat down on Anderson for a few minutes before Lex Luger can come out (seemingly early) to even things up, beating down the Outsiders until Anderson can recover to help out. Next in is Hollywood Hogan, and he surprisingly gets double-teamed for a while by the faces. But the 3-on-2 advantage eventually takes effect, and the faces are in trouble. Ric Flair comes in next, and calls Hogan over to the other ring! The two have it out, with Flair using an 'equalizer' (brass knuckles) to smash Hogan, followed by low blows to Hall and Nash!
The faces take over, with Flair getting Hogan in the figure four leglock, and the crowd is absolutely insane at this point. when the final nWo member arrives: Sting! But, if you look close, it's really not Sting, just a look-alike. The face-painted man soon to be known as 'nWo Sting' comes in and gives the nWo the advantage, destroying the faces. Heenan wants to know who's left for WCW. The fans aren't fooled, chanting "We Want Sting!" The nWo Sting gives everyone a Stinger splash, as the countdown begins... and the REAL Sting runs out and attacks the nWo one! He destroys the nWo forces, with a Stinger splash for every one! Now, all of the sudden, the announcers are all sure who the real Sting is.
However, after destroying the nWo, Sting asks Luger and the rest "Is that good enough for you right there?? Is that proof enough??" Sting then leaves, heading to the back, and suddenly the nWo is back in control 4-3. Hogan gives Luger the leg drop, followed by biting his nose (ugh). Heenan tries to plead to Sting, saying that they're sorry and they want him back. Luger gets put in the Stinger Deathlock by the nWo Sting, as well as a facelock from Hogan, and apparently Luger passes out, because the bell rings and the nWo gets their arms raised (by Nick Patrick).
Ace Thoughts: There are obviously much better War Games matches out there, but this one definitely had the emotions churning, as the fake Sting/real Sting storyline really came together here. It seemed like Sting was going to battle through it, but then, feeling betrayed, he flipped off his teammates and walked out on them. It twisted at the gut, as the fans weren't sure what to do when their icon left the faces to get squashed. So it's worth seeing, just for that alone, even if parts of the match aren't quite as well-booked.
- Afterwards, the nWo beats down the WCW guys some more, and we get a vision of Luger crawling on the floor calling Sting's name. Powerful. The nWo catches up with him and beats him down, with Flair & Anderson coming to his aid. And suddenly, Randy Savage is there, going after Hogan in the ring. Hogan flees Savage, but the Giant is out to destroy Savage from behind. Savage takes a massive chokeslam, and the six members of the nWo stand tall, even spray-painting Elizabeth's back (as she tries to shelter Savage). Hogan rants on the mic, Savage gets chokeslammed again (and spray-painted), and then the announcers have to flee, as the nWo take over everything. End of show.
Final Thoughts: This show was pretty up-and-down, with a lot of the 'great' matches coming in the first half. The second half were definitely weaker, and you can't blame it all on the nWo at this point. This was when the nWo booking started to be more about keeping them strong and keeping WCW weak. That being said, the awesome Sting storyline was set into motion here, as was the struggles of WCW to counter the growing nWo, so there are some good things here. If you're into the wrestling only, watch the first half. If you're into the nWo stories, the second half is for you.