WCW: Fall Brawl 1997

1997-09-FallBrawl

WCW: Fall Brawl
September 14, 1997
Winston-Salem, NC
LJVM Coliseum

The current WCW champs were as follows:
WCW World Champion: Hollywood Hogan (8/9/1997)
WCW U.S. Champion: Steve McMichael (8/21/1997)
WCW World Tag Team Champions: The Outsiders (10/27/1996)
WCW World Television Champion: Alex Wright (8/21/1997)
WCW Cruiserweight Champion: Chris Jericho (8/16/1997)

Your hosts are Tony Schiavone and Bobby Heenan. We have a rotating third chair with Mike Tenay and Larry Zbyszko. This is the first show in I don’t know how long without Dusty Rhodes. (EDIT to the EDIT: Just looked it up. This is the first show since “Halloween Havoc 1995” without Dusty.) That’s right; no clubbering tonight.

  • WCW Cruiserweight Champion Chris Jericho vs. Eddie Guerrero

Tenay mentions that Jericho will soon be vying for the J-Crown title over in New Japan and could pull an Ultimo Dragon if he is successful here and in that match. “Eddie sucks” chants really grate on Eddie’s nerves to start. Headlocks and headscissors are exchanged on the mat. Eddie is just so good at this point. Probably the only consistently better worker in America right now is Shawn Michaels or Bret Hart. His bumping, his timing, his charisma, his psychology – it’s all there and it’s all top notch. Eddie tries to escape a wristlock on the mat and keeps getting taken down. As they run the ropes, Eddie gets launched and dropped throat-first onto the top rope by Jericho to set up the Lionsault for two. Guerrero snaps Jericho’s neck off the top rope and goes to work on the back with different variations of the the Gory Special. He bends Jericho’s neck back in a VERY unnatural way for some brutal treatment. Just fantastic mat work from these two. Eddie hits the back with the Hilo for two. Eddie applies the literal Gory Special, but Jericho slips out and applies his own Gory Special. Guerrero escapes, but gets face planted off Jericho’s shoulders. Jericho starts up the running corner clotheslines. Eddie tries to walk the ropes, but Jericho crotches him and springboard dropkicks Eddie to the apron. He’s looking for a powerbomb, but settles for another drop on the top-rope. Guerrero falls off the apron and backwards into Jericho as they collapse onto the guardrail. Back inside, Jericho lands a super sick release German suplex. Eddie comes back with a Uranage. With a rush of adrenaline, Jericho shoots up and catches Guerrero with a powerslam for two. He launches Eddie trying to charge him in the corner and hits him with a spinning heel kick for two. Jericho looks like he’s run out of ideas. Flapjack and La Magistral cradle gets blocked as Eddie jumps on top of Jericho for two. Jericho blocks a headscissors and drops Eddie with not one, but TWO powerbombs! He sits Eddie on the top rope and goes for a superplex, but Eddie falls on top of Jericho’s head. With Jericho knocked out, Eddie climbs to another turnbuckle and hits the FROG SPLASH for the win and the title. (17:22) Really good match, but I felt this could have been an instance where they could have brought out Eddie’s dark side and had him cheat to win the title – especially considering this was basically the coming out party for the next chapter in Eddie’s career.
***¾

  • Rick & Scott Steiner (w/Ted DiBiase) vs. Harlem Heat (w/Jacqueline)

Larry Z joins us for this match. The commentators discuss how emotional the Steiners are when they wrestle, which could come back to bite them. Scott and Stevie Ray start us off. In possibly his best bump, Scott charges right into Stevie Ray’s boot in the corner and hits the mat hard. It always looks good. Scott fights back with a belly to belly suplex to pop the crowd. The Heat regroup with Booker T tagging into the match. For some reason, he thinks a full nelson on Scott is a good idea. Even so, he manages to suplex Scott. Coming off the top, he flies down into an overhead suplex from Scott. You knew it was coming, but it was fun to see nevertheless. That brings the match down as Rick and Scott do the dog routine. This crowd LOVES the Steiners. Back inside, the Heat take over on Rick after a spinning heel kick from Booker. Rick catches Booker in mid-air though for a powerslam, but only gets two. Tag to Scott, he receives a superkick from Booker that takes him out to the floor. Really nice Barry Windham backflip over the top rope bump, too. Stevie Ray cheats a bunch out on the floor. Jacqueline tries to get in a shot, but fails to do so. Back in, Scott counters a spinning heel kick with a back suplex. See, by this point, the story between these two teams should be how well they know each other. I mean, how many matches have they wrestled each other? Hot tag to Rick, he’s all Steinerlines and slams. He hits Stevie Ray with the STEINER BULLDOG, but Booker breaks up the pin. They give Rick the HEAT SEEKER (Missile Dropkick Doomsday Device), which looked like curtains for Rick, but it appears they flubbed the finish. Not even sure how to explain that to you. Anyways, Rick gives Stevie Ray a Steinerline into a release German suplex by Scott for the win. (11:44) Not really a fan of the finish, but this was a fun hard hitting match with plenty of bombs being thrown. **½

  • WCW World Television Champion Alex Wright vs. Ultimo Dragon

Hello again, Mike Tenay. We have FOUR commentators right now, which is a tad overkill. Especially since they spend much of the match discussing Wargames. You know, for those listening at home on scramblevision who might buy the PPV now, if that’s even possible. Wright shows his power advantage over Dragon to start. He makes the mistake of dancing and takes a dropkick from behind. That gets Dragon going as he’s clearly the faster of the two. Headlocks and headscissors are exchanged. Dragon picks things up with his Kick Combo. Some horrible selling from Wright there. He needs to catch Dragon with a hotshot to turn the tide. His gameplan is to keep Dragon grounded with an extended chinlock that goes on for forever. After a few minutes, he cheats a little bit using the ropes. Moving on. Over to the corner, Dragon shoves off a superplex, but flies down onto a pair of boots. Wright can’t get the German Suplex, but connects with a spinning heel kick. The Flying Stomp from Wright misses as well. The Kick Combo from Dragon takes Wright out to the floor for the Asai Moonsault. Back inside, Dragon delivers a desperation headscissors. Wright stops Dragon up top and dropkicks him down to the floor. Weak plancha by Wright wipes out Dragon. Back in though, Dragon comes back with a butterfly suplex for two. Tiger Suplex garners the same result. Back in the corner, each one of them tries to deliver SOMETHING, but Dragon wins that battle and connects with the Running Ligerbomb! Cover, 1-2-NO! Moonsault by Dragon scores a two-count as well. Wright rolls through a Hurracanrana and gets two. Dragon comes off the top, but flies down into a dropkick. That gets two. Tons of nearfalls here, but very few of them having any anticipation. DRAGON FRANKENSTEINER and the DRAGON SLEEPER wakes up the crowd, but Wright immediately makes the ropes. Wright fights away another Dragon Sleeper with a jawbreaker and hits the GERMAN SUPLEX for the three-count to retain the TV title. (18:41) An off-night for both guys, I think. They really tried putting together some decent back-and-forth nearfalls, but it felt flat for some reason. Also, I do not care for the German Suplex as a finisher for Wright. I just don’t buy it. I think being a heel, maybe he needs a submission hold of some kind. **½

Over to Gene Okerlund backstage, tonight’s nWo team keeps walking in front of his camera while Gene tries to get you to call the WCW Hotline to listen to Arn Anderson talk about the parody. He sneaks into the locker room to find Curt Hennig (or as Gene put it, “PERFECT!”) lying face down on the floor.

  • Jeff Jarrett (w/Debra) vs. Dean Malenko

Winner gets a U.S. title shot at Halloween Havoc. This is the final WCW PPV for Jeff Jarrett until he returns in 1999, slap nutz. To eliminate distractions, Jarrett sends Debra backstage. Hammerlocks and headlocks are exchanged for the first five minutes to start. Malenko walks over Jarrett to piss him off. If there’s one thing we learn with future Jeff Jarrett is, DON’T PISS HIM OFF. Jarrett eats a dropkick and takes a powder. Back inside, Jarrett tries to outwrestle Malenko by keeping him down with a headlock. Malenko uses his fists, but winds up in a sleeper. He finds the ropes and executes a superplex. Both men are down. Malenko catches Jarrett trying a floatover out of the corner and drops him with a release German suplex. Time to go to Texas, but Jarrett finds the ropes. Hey, Debra is back. Malenko and Jarrett tumble out to the floor as Malenko goes for the knee. Jarrett uses the same gameplan and posts Malenko’s knee. He attempts to suplex Jarrett back into the ring, but his knee buckles and Jarrett falls on top for 1-2-NO! Jarrett tricks Malenko into trying the FIGURE-FOUR, but Malenko tricks Jarrett into an inside cradle for two. Nearfalls are traded back and forth. After he leapfrogs over Jarrett, Malenko comes down on his knee in a bad way. Jarrett seizes the moment as he clips Jarrett from behind and applies the FIGURE-FOUR to get the submission win. (14:55) This is a match I never really heard anything about, but it was pretty good with some consistent psychology, Malenko abandoning his baser instincts to punch Jarrett around, and I always enjoy Jarrett’s bumping. The result ends up being meaningless though as Alex Wright subs for Jarrett. ***¼

Team nWo vow to end the Four Horsemen tonight. IT WOULD BE AN HONOR.

  • The Faces of Fear vs. Mortis & Wrath (w/James Vandenberg)

Speaking of bombfests, this should be FUN. Larry Z makes an Arthur Sullivan quote to start. Tony is so confused. This starts out as you might expect. Mortis gets thrown around by the Faces of Fear, and Wrath stands toe to toe with Meng. When he gets Meng down, he tags in Mortis. Rinse, wash, repeat. Faces of Fear give Mortis one of my faves: the BACKDROP INTO THE POWERBOMB. DEATH. Wrath immediately makes the save because it was over. Back at the Faces of Fear corner, THEY BE CLUBBERIN on Mortis. He’s just getting brutalized. Vandenberg shakes the ropes and messes up Barbarian, but he headbutts Mortis down only to fly down face first into a boot. How many times have we seen that spot tonight? Wrath runs down Barb with a Bicycle Kick. While the ref is busy separating Meng and Vandenberg, Mortis and Wrath give Barb the POWERBOMB/NECKBREAKER combo. Meng makes the save though. Wrath rules Barbarian for a while. Famouser out of the corner by Mortis gets two. Back to Wrath, he catches Barbarian with a flying clothesline. Mortis cheats a little bit out on the floor as he sandwiches Barb’s head in between the ringpost and the steps. Back inside, Mortis and Wrath give Barbarian their own TOWER OF DOOM spot. Just flipping awesome. Hot tag to Meng, which is weird to type. Flying splash to Wrath gets two. As the match breaks down, Vandenberg finds himself caught in the TONGAN DEATH GRIP. Mortis tries to save him with a superkick to Meng, but he winds up in the TONGAN DEATH GRIP as well! With both of Meng’s arms outstretched, Wrath comes in and applies the DEATH PENALTY for the three-count. (12:24) Just a fun match as Vandenberg’s Oddities proved to be just too much for Meng and Barb – one of my FAVORITE WCW tag teams. As I said before, this is going to be a bombfest. If you look like you can hang with the Faces of Fear like Wrath did here, you’re a tough sonuvagun. As for Mortis, he’s shows us just how much potential he has in these 1997 PPV matches.
***

Gene Okerlund interviews the Four Horsemen without Curt Hennig. Chris Benoit says that Kevin Nash has been so many characters, that we aren’t sure what he’s about. He will know what the Four Horsemen are about though. Mongo makes some Book of Revelation references to scare the nWo. Ric Flair still has hope that Curt Hennig will be in Wargames. Tonight, the nWo will bleed, sweat, and pay the price. WOO!

  • The Giant vs. Scott Norton

Here is someone who has had nothing to do but chokeslam Eric Bischoff since Bash at the Beach. Giant is VERY angry and tries to power Norton around. Not an easy task though. Giant reverses a suplex out on the floor. Geez. Lots of brawling. Norton gets off a hotshot on the Giant. Again, another spot we’ve seen several times tonight. Norton avalanches Giant a few times and then puts him down with a back suplex for two. From the mat, Giant shoots his arm up calling for the chokeslam (zombie situp?), and uses the ropes to KIP UP. So he’s channeling the spirits of the Undertaker and Shawn Michaels? A couple of big boots and a dropkick leads to the CHOKESLAM. Good night. (5:29) Larry Z gets excited over this win over the nWo. ¾*

  • Lex Luger & Diamond Dallas Page vs. Scott Hall & Randy Savage (w/Elizabeth)

So after last week’s Nitro, we know that Luger and DDP are back to being buddies again. Hall wants to start with Luger, and gets his wish. He can’t match power with Lex, leading to Hall and Savage taking clotheslines from Luger. He literally cleans house as Savage gets tossed out to the floor on top of Hall. Crowd wants DDP. Hall goes through his armbar and slap routine on Page. DDP fires back with an atomic drop. Pancake Slam to Hall. Savage gets knocked off the apron and as DDP comes back around, he trips up Page to turn the tide as the nWo swarm on DDP. Fallaway Slam gets two. While Savage and Liz rake and punch on DDP’s face, Hall stomps Luger in between the two rings. To make matters worse, Savage heaves DDP from one ring to the other. The ref really loses control here when he’s punched in the face by Hall. When Ref Mickey Jay comes out to check on ref Mark Curtis, he’s kicked in the head. Larry Z has had enough of this though and leaves the announce table cursing. We get a showdown between Larry Z and Hall. The crowd is going insane with anticipation. Tony – “GET ‘EM LARRY!” Yeah, Schiavone is marking out. With Hall facing Larry Z, Luger starts to crawl back into the ring. While Hall is screwing around with Larry, Zbyszko gets one good shove in on Hall and backs into a rollup by Luger. Zbyszko gets down on the mat and makes the three-count. (10:19) Hall looks all embarrassed. Well, that’s stupid. Either way, it got a huge pop from the crowd as they were all into every move everyone in the ring was making. You have to hand it to Hall because he’s one of the only upper mid-card guys during the peak of the nWo that never really won a big match. *½

  • Wargames: Kevin Nash, Buff Bagwell, Konnan & Syxx vs. Ric Flair, Chris Benoit, Curt Hennig & Steve McMichael

Hennig doesn’t come out with the Horsemen crew. Buff starts off with Benoit for the first five-minute period. Immediately, this is a problem because as pissed and intense Benoit should be, he lets Bagwell pose and talk just a little too much. Even Tony says they go ahead and fight already. Benoit chops and throws Bagwell into the cage a little bit. He wants a Flying Headbutt, but the cage is too low for such things. On top of that, Bagwell moves out of harm’s way. This is a case where a guy like Benoit – who is a world renown workhorse in the ring – can’t adapt his style to the match at hand. We will see him do that in ladder matches and a few other cage matches throughout his career, but WarGames is supposed to be a different kind of concept. You don’t really wrestle in these matches as much as you are just fighting your opponent. Bagwell chokes Benoit on the mat and picks him up to toss him into the cage. Benoit takes a NASTY backdrop over the ropes into the cage that could have easily caused some neck damage. By the way, the heels win the coin toss for the tenth year in a row. More choking from Bagwell for the last two minutes until Konnan joins the match. Benoit takes care of business here until the numbers game catches up to him and Konnan drills him with a DDT. No one in Winston-Salem cares for Konnan. Being the hams they are, Bagwell and Konnan talk to the cameraman like this match is no big deal.

Mongo enters to even the score. He actually does it right with clotheslines and slams on the heels. The Horsemen control the ring until Syxx enters WarGames. He seems to be one of the few guys who “gets” WarGames with wearing the jeans and t-shirt like he’s come to FIGHT. I like it. He’s of little help to the nWo though as he gets bounced on and off the cage. That’s okay though because this match is designed for the FACES to get their revenge. See, Syxx gets it. With under a minute to go until Flair can join his team, here comes Curt Hennig with his arm in a sling. Looks like Flair is loading it up. In comes Flair to chop and low blow the three nWo guys. Kevin Nash is the final entrant for the nWo. He walks in and gives Flair a Side Slam. Benoit chops away at Nash, but gets slammed into the cage. With no one else on the Horsemen side standing, Nash boots Mongo down while once again Bagwell hams it up to the camera. Ugh. Even in this match, the W-S crowd wants Sting. Now Hennig makes his way into WarGames. As it turns out, his arm isn’t hurt at all! He pulls two pairs of handcuffs from his sling and NAILS MONGO! He tosses one pair to Nash, and hands the other pair to Konnan as they handcuff Mongo and Benoit to opposite sides of the cage. Curt Hennig rips up his Four Horsemen t-shirt – clearly joining the nWo. With the other two unable to help, Flair has no chance as he is QUINTUPLE-TEAMED. As the Horsemen are being ravaged, none of the three men choose to surrender. That is until the nWo threaten to slam Flair’s head with the cage door. When it gets to that level of insanity and the Horsemen clearly have no chance, Mongo chooses to surrender. (19:40) Just like in action movies and the bad guys get what they want, they still end up shooting the bait. Hennig slams Flair’s head with the cage door. Some say this match killed Winston-Salem, but the 1998 WarGames didn’t draw significantly less. Greensboro, which is only about 20 miles away and attracts a ton of the same wrestling fans, drew much more for the WWF in 1998 and 1999 during the hot Attitude years, so I wouldn’t say wrestling died because of what happened to Flair. It’s safer to say that it was a major blow to Ric Flair and the end of a complicated year for the Four Horsemen, but that’s where I would stop. The match is completely avoidable unless you want to see the ending. Much like the 1993 WarGames, only one man managed to make this not suck entirely. Then it was Dustin Rhodes, but here it was Syxx for bumping his heart out there. **

Final Thoughts: As you normally get from WCW PPVs during this era, a solid opener and a decent mid-card, but lousy work on top. Wargames is a definite drop in quality from the year before and never recovers. Kevin Nash seems to be at a place now politically in WCW and also bound and determined to get rid of the old dinosaur Ric Flair. I mean, first the Four Horsemen parody, then the nWo goes over the Four Horsemen in a Wargames match which is designed for the babyfaces to go over and basically rapes them in the finish, and then you slam his head in a cage door? This is all happening in the span of TWO WEEKS with the Four Horsemen never really getting anything over on the nWo. Hennig winds up in a feud with Flair, but when does Flair ever beat Hennig? It does seem a tad conspiratorial to me.

Anyways, with three matches at *** or better, I can’t exactly call it a complete waste of time. Plus, this Wargames is interesting historically even if underwhelming. I’ll go with thumbs solidly in the middle for Fall Brawl 1997.

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Posted on August 12, 2014, in WCW and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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