20 years ago this week saw WCW present Fall Brawl 1997, featuring the much anticipated WarGames match between The Four Horsemen and the New World Order. Let’s not hang around, it’s time for this week’s ‘Meanwhile, in WCW’…
- Lex Luger vs. Scott Hall is possibly the highest calibre main event, in terms of each man’s standing in the company, Saturday Night has seen in years. That said, we barely got five minutes before Diamond Dallas Page ran in to get involved. Macho Man then ran out to even the sides. This felt a little back to front, with the babyface running in first to cause the disqualification.
- It was announced that as DDP and Luger are no longer in the WarGames, they will face Savage and Hall at Fall Brawl instead.
- Eddie Guerrero defeated his nephew, Chavo, to little acknowledgement from the crowd or commentators. It really could have been just any other match, which felt like a waste of a family feud.
- Alex Wright teased Ultimo Dragon with some dance moves after the masked man had defeated Super Calo. Yes, this is literally what happened.
- Attention hotline fans; apparently WCW have been signing more wrestlers. There was also news of a potential “break up” at the top of another promotion.
- Mongo’s victory over Greg Valentine – who is still employed, somehow – was only by DQ because he was attacked by various nWo members as he went for the pin. His Horsemen team mates were on the scene instantly to sort out the trouble though.
- Disco Inferno defeated Lenny Lane with a terrifyingly shaky piledriver.
- ‘Acting Chairman of the WCW Executive Committee’ Roddy Piper cannot remember his own job title. Fair enough really. He also cut a promo on Hollywood Hogan. In kayfabe, why would WCW appoint Piper to a supposedly neutral position like this while he has an ongoing feud with Hogan? Furthermore, surely he should not be able to book himself into matches, especially against Hogan who also happens to be the WCW Champion?! I love WCW.
- Steve McMichael defeated Greg Valentine by disqualification
- Eddie Guerrero defeated Chavo Guerrero Jr.
- Disco Inferno defeated Lenny Lane
- Ultimo Dragon defeated Super Calo
- Scott Hall defeated Lex Luger by disqualification
As if a WarGames match between The Four Horsemen and the New World Order doesn’t sound good enough, Fall Brawl was brought to us from deep in the heart of ‘Horsemen Country’ in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Here’s what went down when the nWo team of Buff Bagwell, Kevin Nash, Syxx and Konnan took on The Four Horsemen team of Chris Benoit, Steve McMichael, Ric Flair & Curt Hennig inside the double cage –
Earlier in the broadcast, Mene Gene was trying to plug his Hotline when the nWo lads walked on front of the camera a couple of times. On the second occasion, the boys were laughing and joking after emerging from a room which was just off camera. Gene, nosey bastard that he is, decided to take peek in said room only to find Curt Hennig laying on the ground having seemingly been attacked. A short while later and the still giddy nWo lads cut a promo on how they had a plan to “eliminate and retire” The Horsemen tonight, with particular reference to Curt Hennig. Each man made these points more than once, thus dropping a gigantic hint to even the most inexperienced of wrestling fan that something shady would happen in the main event later in the show.
The Horsemen got some promo time too, only Hennig was not with them as question marks arose as to whether he would be fit to compete. In his absence, Chris Benoit got the rub by mocking Kevin Nash’s multiple former gimmicks and having Ric Flair call him the best wrestler in the world.
To the match, and this year both teams were positioned at ringside – or cage side, rather – from the start, which was not the case last year due to the whole two Stings angle. As predicted, Curt Hennig was not with The Horsemen, at least to start with. Chris Benoit and Buff Bagwell started the match while at ring side the nWo won the mysterious coin toss. As cool a match as it is, the heels always having to win the coin toss in a WarGames match is such an obvious plot hole. As such, Konnan came in to make it 2 on 1, before Mongo evened it up. Syxx then came out to make it 3 on 2. At this point ‘Courageous Curt’ eventually made it to the ringside area, albeit wearing a sling. Ric Flair, who is the dirtiest player in the game remember, was seen hiding something in Hennig’s sling before entering the cage to a huge pop and evening the sides at 3-3. Kevin Nash was last to enter fot the baddies, leaving just poor, defenceless Curt to help the outnumbered Horsemen. Hennig cautiously got into the ring but then threw aside his sling to reveal a set of handcuffs. However, just when we thought this was a Horseman ploy, Hennig smacked Mongo before making a b-line for Flair. With Benoit and Mongo occupied with Konnan and Syxx, Hennig joined Bagwell and Nash to beat the holy hell out Flair to the sound of massive boos. Yes, Curt Hennig double crossed Ric Flair and The Four Horsemen, what a dick! Adding insult to injury, Mongo and Benoit found themselves handcuffed to the cage while Flair got the crap kicked out of him. In a scene that probably wouldn’t have felt out of place in Sons of Anarchy, neither Flair, Benoit or McMichael would submit and surrender under torture. Eventually Mongo shouted “you gotta stop this”, which the referee must have taken as a sign of submission, after Hennig threated to slam Flair’s head with the cage door. The bell rang to end the match and give the nWo the win, but evil Curt smashed The Nature Boys’ head all the same. Afterwards Hennig ripped up his Horseman t-shirt and Nash cut a promo boasting about ending The Horsemen in their own back yard.
In hindsight, it was blatantly obvious that Hennig would turn having set it up all show long. That said, it was brilliantly executed with all the details falling into place perfectly. I guess my only gripe is the timing. The Four Horsemen had just been revitalised, there was mileage in them before having Hennig turn. The fact is he was only a Horsemen for 20 days and he has now joined an already bloated stable where he will likely struggle to find a role better than ‘Enforcer’ of the Horsemen. Ah well, as a stand-alone angle it was very well done, so at least he has that.
Here’s what happened on the rest of the show –
Eddie Guerrero defeated Chris Jericho (c) to win the WCW Cruiserweight Championship
On a show that provided plenty of entertainment, this was the best wrestling match of the night. With today’s wrestling – well, WWE – only having a memory as long as the gap between pay per views, it was strange to hear this billed as a rubber match. Why? Because although Jericho recently defeated Eddie, Mike Tenay also made reference to the pair’s match at Superbrawl in February, which Guerrero won. Anyway, this encounter featured just the right mix of mat wrestling, suplexes and high flying. Jericho targeted Eddie’s arm while Eddie attacked Jericho’s back. My highlight of the match was probably Jericho’s huge release German suplex on Eddie. The finish came when Guerrero reversed a superplex in mid-air, leaped straight back up to the top turnbuckle and landed a picture perfect frog splash for the win and Cruiserweight Title.
The Steiner Brothers w/ Ted DiBiase defeated Harlem Heat w/Jacqueline
It was that match these teams usually have, only better this time. It was hard hitting with plenty of suplexes and everybody – even Stevie Ray – delivering good performances. Stevie did the job after a clothesline into a German suplex combination from Rick and Scott. Ted DiBiase, sneakily prevented Booker T making the save.
Alex Wright (c) defeated Ultimo Dragon to retain the WCW Television Championship
If the crowd were hot for the first couple of matches, things came unstuck here. They were into Dragon at first, but this match just kept going. Having not had time to discuss the main event due to the quality of the first two matches, Tony Schiavone and co. discussed it in depth during Alex Wright’s multiple and lengthy headlocks on Dragon. Ultimately Wright reversed the Dragon Sleeper into what looked like a Stunner before scoring with a German Suplex for the win.
Jeff Jarrett w/ Debra defeated Dean Malenko
A solid, well executed but entirely vanilla match. Jarrett failed with his first Figure Four Leg Lock, but a chop block to Malenko’s knee injured The Iceman enough to make him tap next time Double J applied the hold. As a result, Jarrett will now face Steve ‘Mongo’ McMichael for the US Title down the road.
Wrath & Mortis (w/ James Vandenberg) defeated The Faces of Fear
This was the same match these teams usually have too. Wrath claimed the victory after hitting Meng with the Death Penalty – i.e. a Rock Bottom – as the Tongan hard man had both Mortis and James Vandenberg in the Tongan Death Grip.
The Giant defeated Scott Norton
This wasn’t too bad, especially for a match that was not promoted in any way. It was hard hitting from Norton and The Giant showed his nimble side with a nip-up and dropkick too. He scored with a Chokeslam for the win
Lex Luger & Diamond Dallas Page defeated Scott Hall & “Macho Man” Randy Savage w/ Miss Elizabeth in a No Disqualification Match
This match perfectly mirrored this entire feud i.e. lots of shenanigans but not a lot of technical wrestling. While it wasn’t the same as Guerrero vs. Jericho, this match did deliver just as much entertainment. Unlike the rest of the undercard, this bout actually made use of the extra ring. After DDP had been thrown from one to the other and back again, Scott Hall smacked Luger so hard he found himself stuck between the two rings. As Savage, aided by Liz, scrapped with DDP in one ring, Scott Hall punched the referee square in the face in the other. Another ref came out to check on his mate, but he copped a kick in the head from Hall. This enraged commentator Larry Zbyszko so much that he made his way to ringside give Hall a piece of his mind. As Hall was distracted, Luger – who was hiding between the rings – began to stir. Ultimately Hall found himself rolled up Luger with Zbyszko counting the pinfall. Weirdly, the bell rang to make the result official. Tony Schiavone covered beautifully by saying that if the nWo can make up rules as they go along – which they have done in the past – then so can WCW.
WCW tried to convey a sombre mood on Nitro following the damage done to Ric Flair at Fall Brawl the previous night. The broadcast opened with footage of an unconscious Nature Boy on what appeared to be a surgeon’s table. As we got underway Tony Schiavone abandoned his commentary duties because as a friend of Flair’s he just couldn’t continue. Almost the rest of the broadcast, which was led by Mike Tenay, felt like an episode of Saturday Night in that it featured matches and interviews but few angles. The one major exception was when the big players within the nWo showed up to cut a promo.
Curt Hennig was presented as the group’s newest member. He was introduced by Eric Bischoff and came out wearing Ric Flair’s robe, which he would later present to Hollywood Hogan as a trophy and symbol of respect for his new leader. A few minutes later in the show’s main event, Hennig defeated Steve ‘Mongo’ McMichael fair and square to win the Unites States Title. This was despite the fact that Jeff Jarrett is actually the number one contender for that particular title as of Fall Brawl…
In Other News From Nitro –
- I said that WCW tried to convey a sombre mood, well the production crew could have tried a little harder. Almost every fan they panned to during the two hour show was wearing a nWo t-shirt or holding a nWo sign.
- As per usual Hollywood Hogan took the lion’s share of the promo time when the nWo graced us with their presence. Long, and I do mean long, story short he accepted Roddy Piper’s challenge for a cage match at Halloween Havoc and hopes Sting watches what he does to Piper. It would also appear that the ‘crotch chop’ is a thing now, although Hogan isn’t very good at it.
- Diamond Dallas Page issued a challenge to Macho Man for Halloween Havoc. In contrast to Hogan, Savage accepted by using just five words; “it would be an honour”. Look at that, something Buff Bagwell did is getting over!
- A pumped-up Ray Traylor called out any and everybody from the nWo. I figured this would lead to a match later in the show, it did not. Traylor had a slip of the tongue when instead of saying Curt Hennig he said “Mr Perfect”. Oops.
- The Giant flattened Konnan in their match, much to the delight of the crowd.
- Rey Mysterio told the camera that he is feeling 100% after his victory over Juventud Guerrera.
- Raven was at ringside throughout the show. He eventually got in the ring to slap Stevie Richards and kick him out of the ring after The King of Swing lost to DDP.
- One of the most over things on this entire show was Dean Malenko’s offence against The Disco Inferno.
- Harlem Heat thought they had The Faces of Fear beat but Nick Patrick refused to count the three because The Barbarian was not the legal man. Subsequently Booker T found himself in the Tongan Death Grip.
- Steve Regal is back on TV, and carrying a bit of extra weight too.
- Dean Malenko defeated Disco Inferno
- The Faces of Fear (Meng & Barbarian) defeated Harlem Heat (Booker T & Stevie Ray) (w/ Jacquelyn)
- Rey Misterio Jr. defeated Juventud Guerrera
- Alex Wright I defeated Steven Regal to retain the WCW World Television Championship
- The Giant defeated Konnan
- Diamond Dallas Page defeated Stevie Richards
- The Outsiders (Kevin Nash & Scott Hall) I (w/ Syxx) defeated Mortis & Wrath (w/ James Vandenburg) to retain the WCW World Tag Team Championship
- Eddie Guerrero I defeated Ultimo Dragon to retain the WCW World Cruiserweight Championship
- Curt Hennig defeated Steve McMichael I to win the WCW United States Championship
“I was around when Piper was so-called the head of another organisation my friend, called the WWF, and Piper never told any of us what to do”
Pinocchio Hogan, who was the WCW Champion when Roddy Piper was the on-screen President of the WWF last year
- There is a conspiracy theory that the backstage heat between Ric Flair and the nWo over the infamous Horseman parody is all a work created by Kevin Sullivan. Given Sullivan’s history of such things – the Benoit/Woman angle – this is not out of the question. The lack of disciplinary action against Flair – who refused to cut a promo after the parody – is what most people are pointing to. However, the Wrestling Observer have noted that the decision to change the WarGames match to The Horsemen vs nWo was made after the parody, due to the heat it created. Moreover, Chris Benoit had to delay a tour of Japan to compete at the PPV. Would this have happened if The Horsemen vs nWo really was the plan all along?
- On the subject of Benoit, he was not mocked in the parody. The plan was actually for a mannequin to play the part of The Crippler, but that was nixed because of plans to use a mannequin to represent Sting the following week.
- The Giant has been working on a top rope moonsault that he wants to trial on house shows before breaking out in a big match. The idea is for it to be against Kevin Nash, although Nash is said to be somewhat reluctant. I don’t blame him, this time at least.
- Rick Martel has signed a two year contract with WCW.
- Due to his success with Nitro, Eric Bischoff is being eyed to help with other programming on TNT and TBS.
Not much to report from Raw this week, other than the continuation of the Intercontinental Championship tournament after the injured Stone Cold Steve Austin was stripped of the title.
Raw 2.55 – 3.85 Nitro
You can read all previous ‘Meanwhile, in WCW’ posts here