20 years ago this past Sunday WCW presented Fall Brawl. Once the subtitle for a Clash of The Champions show, Fall Brawl became a pay per view in it’s own right from 1993 to 2000. For the first few iterations – including this one – the PPV was home to WCW’s ultimate gimmick match for settling scores; WarGames! So, let’s see how Team WCW faired against Team nWo in today’s bonus edition of The Way We Was…
Date: September 15 1996
Location: Winston-Salem, NC
In a trend that will continue for the next few years, Fall Brawl was a WCW PPV built around one or two matches that in practice were comfortably the worst on the show. Luckily, and not too dissimilar to how things would be over the next couple of years, the rest of the show wasn’t too bad.
Before I run down the edited highlights from a very enjoyable undercard, we best cover the major developments from the top two matches i.e. those involving the New World Order.
The Giant vs. Macho Man Randy Savage
Firstly, the group’s newest recruit, The Giant, required a lot of assistance from Hogan, Hall and Nash to defeat Macho Man. Savage appeared to have the match – which largely consisted of a bear hug – won until the rest of the nWo appeared and laid into Macho Man. Where was the referee while this prolonged attack took place? Discussing the finer points of standing in a corner and wagging a finger with The Giant. Yes, you guessed it, the referee for this one was alleged crooked official Nick Patrick. An odd thing about this match was that, quite frankly, it didn’t matter. Savage is already booked to face Hogan for the WCW Title at Halloween Havoc. The reason for the premature announcement is because Macho Man’s contract expires after Halloween Havoc and as of Fall Brawl he has yet to commit his future to WCW…
Team WCW (Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Lex Luger and ?) vs. Team nWo (Hollywood Hogan, Scott Hall, Kevin Nash and ?)
In the main event, the nWo squad defeated WCW’s team when Lex Luger passed out while in two simultaneous submissions – a Scorpion Deathlock and a front facelock. However, WCW’s most recent failed attempt at retribution wasn’t the half of it. Six days on from Sting’s apparent heel turn there was a question mark over who would take his place on team WCW, leaving us to assume that The Stinger would be the nWo’s fourth man. Turns out he was the fourth man for each team. Sting appeared to enter as the nWo’s fourth man, only for another guy wearing face paint to enter and clean house for Team WCW two minutes later. This Sting – i.e. the real one – then asked his untrusting team mates who had earlier doubted him “is that good enough for you?!” before walking out on them. Sadly for Team WCW, the nWo lads recovered and made their numerical advantage count by battering Flair, Anderson and Luger for the remainder of the match and the show.
Sounds like a good angle on paper but in practice it didn’t really work, especially for the live crowd. Firstly, Sting – the real one – appeared earlier in a Team WCW promo protesting his innocence to his unconvinced partners. This sewed the seed that all was not as it seemed, and thus dampened the effect of any potential surprise. Secondly, The Sting that protested his innocence to Lex Luger and The Horsemen had a different face paint design to the Sting presented by the nWo. Either this was two different guys or Sting inexplicably changed his face paint at the last minute. Thirdly, while the fake Sting was relatively convincing to TV viewers, the live audience did not buy it for a second. A “we want Sting” chant broke out after the imposter had made his entrance and failed with a couple of trademark “Woo!” taunts. Anyway, while it wasn’t perfect, the message communicated here was that Sting – the real one – is now angry with his pals for not trusting him.
As for the actual match, sadly it followed a path trodden by most WarGames matches i.e the action did not live up to the gimmick. As a wrestling match this was as dull as dishwater. However, as a spectacle and vehicle to advance a storyline it was a job well done.
In Other News From Fall Brawl –
- The fake, or nWo, Sting is the artist formally known as Cobra. From a distance he is quite convincing, so long as he doesn’t wrestle
- The term “WCW vs. nWo” was officially coined
- The music used for The Hostile Takeover match at Bash At The Beach was used again here. I wonder if this version of Seal’s Crazy will become the default music for WCW vs. nWo matches in future?
- Speaking of music, WCW’s guy for that clearly wasn’t on the ball. The Giant entered to his Dungeon of Doom theme before it was swiftly changed to the nWo music
- Ice Train made Scott Norton submit, with a Full Nelson of all things. I certainly did not expect that
- Konnan defended his Mexican Heavyweight Title against Juventud, who is clearly not a heavyweight. Another problem with this bout – which was actually very entertaining – was the absence of a physical title belt. Had Juvi won what would the referee have handed him?
- Chris Benoit vs. Chris Jericho was another excellent match. Fans were solidly behind Horseman Benoit, and very much against squeaky clean babyface Jericho. Jericho’s 80s teen movie-esque theme music did him no favours either
- We saw more shades of grey with the Nasty Boys vs. Harlem Heat, which was a surprisingly good match. The Nastys tend to cheat and have been linked to the nWo, but they were the babyfaces here with Sister Sherri and Colonel Parker interfering for Booker and Stevie. Sherri broke a cane over Knobs’ head to hand her men the victory
- It may be early days, but Horseman country still rules over the New World Order. There were far more Horseman t-shirts than nWo in the crowd
- Chavo Guerrero Jr. Made his PPV debut in a spirited effort against Diamond Dallas Page. The youngster failed to get revenge on behalf of his uncle Eddie, but he did look good in defeat
- With such a solid undercard there were a few contenders for match of the night, but my pick was Rey Mysterio Jr’s Cruiserweight Title defence against the impressive Super Calo. Afterwards Rey called out former champion Dean Malenko, who is currently on a tour of Japan
- Liz has reconciled with Macho Man. Not unlike most episodes of Nitro, Fall Brawl ended with the nWo running roughshod over their opponents and the set. Savage tried to make the save but took a beating for his troubles. Liz then ran out and shielded The Macho Man from more abuse, but copped a spray painting for her troubles
- Diamond Dallas Page defeated Chavo Guerrero Jr.
- Ice Train (w/ Teddy Long) defeated Scott Norton in a Submission match
- Konnan (w/ Jimmy Hart) defeated Juventud Guerrera to retain the AAA Heavyweight Championship
- Chris Benoit defeated Chris Jericho
- Rey Mysterio Jr. defeated Super Caló to retain the WCW Cruiserweight Championship
- Harlem Heat (w/ Sister Sherri) defeated The Nasty Boys to retain the WCW World Tag Team Championship
- The Giant defeated Randy Savage by pinfall
- Team nWo (Hollywood Hogan, Scott Hall, Kevin Nash and nWo Sting) (w/ Ted DiBiase) defeated Team WCW (Lex Luger, Ric Flair, Arn Anderson and Sting) in a WarGames match
Pay Per View Buys
230,000. This is almost two and a half times the buys (95,000) from the previous year. By current, nWo era, standards it is about average and a slight improvement on last month’s Hog Wild Pay Per View buys are up, ratings are up, things are looking good for WCW…
You can read all previous ‘The Way We Was’ pieces here