The SmarK Rant for WCW SuperBrawl III
Live from Asheville, NC, drawing 6500 and a 0.5 buyrate.
Your hosts are Tony Schiavone & Jesse Ventura
Maxx Payne plays the national anthem on his guitar to start, which is an odd choice since he was a heel at the time.
The Hollywood Blondes v. Erik Watts & Marcus Alexander Bagwell
It’s just too bad this show wasn’t in Philly because this would be a GLORIOUS reaction if so. Watts was fresh off having his daddy resign in shame, and I haven’t even watched this show in 15 years and I’m betting he does the job to send a message. You might as well call him “David Marcus” now. Bagwell works on Austin’s arm to start and they trade wristlocks, but Bagwell uses an overhand right so incredibly powerful that Austin bumps right out of the ring. Over to Watts, and the crowd just TURNS on him immediately. Like, immediate heel reaction from all the men. Watts with some super-sloppy armdrags and a dropkick (Oh Erik, give it up!), but Bagwell comes in and gets double-teamed by the Blondes. Bagwell with a cross-body on Austin for two and the crowd is fine with that, so it’s specifically Watts they hate. Back to Erik, and the boos commence again as Erik works a headlock. Bagwell comes in with a press slam on Pillman as the babyfaces continue to dominate and even Jesse points out that they’re booing every time Watts comes in. Watts is just way out of position on a bunch of stuff with Austin, but he tries a Boston crab because that’s at least tough to fuck up. Pillman just comes in and kicks Watts in the face to break, with an evil cackle to boot, and now FINALLY the Blondes cut him off and get the heat on him after a fake knee injury fools him. And then Pillman misses the dive and does his bump onto the railing anyway. The Blondes dump him to the floor with a double elbow as they just can’t get any heat going on him. Watts keeps fucking up simple bumps, like getting leveraged into the turnbuckles, and he won’t sell enough to build sympathy. It’s like watching Octodad go out there and flail around, which is weird because I’ve at least seen him do a workable match before this. Finally he takes the hint and just lets the Blondes do their thing and beat on him, but the Rocket Launcher hits his knees. Or more accurately, Watts forgot to get his knees up and Pillman had to aim for the knees to compensate. Amazingly, Austin and Pillman are so good that fans finally cheer Watts and it’s hot tag Bagwell. And since people actually LIKE him, the comeback segment is much better. Powerslam on Pillman gets two and it’s BONZO GONZO, but Austin hits Bagwell off the top and Pillman gets the pin at 16:32. There is absolutely no reason why this shouldn’t have been the place and time for the Blondes to win the titles. ***1/4 Would have been near **** without Watts dragging it down.
Eric Bischoff announces that Ric Flair is back, tonight. We cut back to the limo arriving, with Missy Hyatt trying to get the interview. The crowd immediately starts chanting “We Want Flair” and woe is the match that’s going to have to follow if they don’t bring him out right away.
Chris Benoit v. 2 Cold Scorpio
There was big plans for Benoit when Watts was in charge, not sure how much that changed once the new regime took over. Jesse and Tony put him over huge on commentary right away. Benoit puts him down with an elbow and snaps suplex to start, but Scorpio hits a bodypress and dropkick before a spinkick puts Benoit on the floor. They trade armbars and Scorpio shows some nice gymnastics as Jesse and Tony trade some funny jabs on commentary. “They’re a bunch of rednecks here, but they know wrestling.” “I lived here for many years, Jesse.” “That’s what I said, a bunch of a rednecks.” You can tell that Jesse is much more comfortable with Tony than with JR. They work off the hammerlock and Scorpio does some flips as a young Randy Orton waits for Twitter to be invented so he can write an angry tweet about it. They do another gymnastic sequence and the crowd is starting to get into it a bit more, as Scorpio works on the arm. We get a nice stalemate sequence and Scorp hits a superkick and back to the arm again, but finally Benoit takes over with a clothesline and works on Scorpio with a backbreaker. Scorpio grabs the hair to break and Jesse is LIVID. Benoit dumps him, but Scorpio comes back in with a missile dropkick, but it misses and Benoit gets two. We hit the chinlock and Jesse thinks he should have gone for the kill.
Sorry, my bad. Benoit takes him to the top for a backdrop superplex, but both guys are hurt coming down, and Benoit gets two. Russian legsweep gets two. Benoit with a powerbomb for two. Scorpio with a corner splash and he goes up with a twisting splash for two. Victory roll is countered by Benoit with a faceplant, and he hits a middle rope legdrop for two. Scorp with a rollup for two, but Benoit tries a german suplex, and Scorpio rolls him up out of that for the pin at “19:59”, which was actually 18:20. Interesting to see them actually do a finish instead of a draw in that situation. Benoit of course ended up going back to Japan for a long time after this. Match was threatening to be great, but the artificially slowed-pace in the middle intended to stretch it out to 20:00 really hurt it. Why couldn’t they just have done the same thing with a 15:00 time limit? ***1/2
The British Bulldog v. Wild Bill Irwin
The crowd goes NUTS for Bulldog, as I guess they didn’t realize he was here tonight. Bulldog of course throws Irwin around as Wild Bill bumps like a clown all over the place. I guess the deal was that they didn’t want Bulldog to squash a contracted guy and just brought in Irwin for the one show to lose? Which is weird because they had Erik Watts RIGHT THERE to humiliate, and they never made any effort to protect anyone on their roster before this. In fact, normally this would be the Cactus Jack spot. Irwin takes over with an elbow and some super-weak offense and we hit the chinlock as the crowd is already bored with this. They slug it out and Bulldog gets the delayed suplex as Jesse wonders about the origins of the irish whip. Tony immediately claims that it was invented in Ireland in 1863 during a match there. I’m dubious about that one. Jesse is impressed with his preparation. “People have been fired for not being prepared!” he notes. Was that a shot at JR? Bulldog finishes the future Goon with a powerslam at 5:53. Irwin was the wrong guy for this role, but Davey was destined to self-destruct anyway so it didn’t matter in the long run. ½*
Bulldog is after Big Van Vader’s title, and he points at the camera a lot to show how serious he is.
Cactus Jack v. Paul Orndorff
Orndorff was about to win the TV title tournament, so logic would suggest Jack going over strong here to create his first challenger, but logic never figured into plans at this point. This is falls count anywhere and Jack immediately brings a snow shovel as they brawl at ringside. Orndorff runs him into the railing and chokes him out with the TV cable as you can really notice his freakishly shriveled arm at this point. Jack pulls up the mats, since with Watts gone we now have pretty blue mats at ringside again, and he drops an elbow on the concrete. That gets two. Jack comes off the middle rope with a sunset flip to the floor, making sure to take the bump right on his hip on the concrete, and that gets two. Jesus, no wonder he can’t walk these days. Back in, Orndorff takes over and hurls him out of the ring again, and you KNOW that Jack is taking that bump full force. Down by the entrance, Orndorff whips him into the railing and Jack manages to take a bump where he flies over TWO sets of railings before hitting the floor. Then Orndorff suplexes him onto the railing backfirst and Jack bumps face-first onto the concrete for good measure. Back to the ring with Orndorff slugging away on him and now working on the knee for good measure. Jesse is again going on about how if an announcer doesn’t do his job, he doesn’t get paid. Paul tears off the knee brace and gets a figure-four, which is obviously no longer a banned move. He grabs the ropes for leverage and Jesse rightly questions why the referee would force him to break in a falls count anywhere match. Back to the floor and Orndorff just destroys the knee on the concrete. Jack climbs to the apron and Orndorff hits him in the face with the knee brace, and Jack takes an unprotected flat back bump to the floor off it. HOLY SHIT this guy. Orndorff brings in the chair and destroys the knee with it and even Jesse is calling for the ref to stop the match, but Orndorff stops to signal for the piledriver and Jack hits him in RIGHT IN THE FACE with the forgotten snow shovel to pay off that Chekhov’s Gun and pins him at 12:07. Holy shit this was great. ****1/4 This wasn’t just Jack bumping, either, Orndorff was INTO IT.
The Heavenly Bodies v. The Rock N Roll Express
Oddly, WCW doesn’t use the RNR’s old music despite still owning the rights. This was the last gasp of the SMW invasion of WCW, as Cornette’s relationship ended with Bill Watts. I was really hoping they’d go with Lane and Eaton for one last time after teasing it with him out there, but instead it’s Lane & Prichard and Bobby gets booted to the back. Robert controls Dr. Tom with a headscissors, and Morton comes in with a rana as the RNR control and the Bodies collide. We even get another small payoff, as earlier in the show Jesse was ragging on Tony for not knowing the difference between a “biel” and a “hiptoss” and here he calls it correctly and Jesse gives him props! The Bodies retreat for some moral support from Cornette. Back in, Morton slugs it out with Prichard, and the poor Bodies collide again while trying to get it together. RNR works on Tom’s arm and the crowd just gets it all instantly and knows how to react to everything. Criss-cross with Morton and Lane, and Ricky steps out to chase Cornette, who runs into the ring and collides with Lane, who is still running. That’s amazing. Finally Cornette trips up Ricky and hits him in the face with the racket and all is right with the world. That’s why Morton is a genius – he knows EXACTLY the right moment to peak the babyface control of the match and then suddenly turn the tide and start selling. The Bodies go to work and Tom drops a knee for two, setting up Lane’s neckbreaker for two. More greatness as the Bodies do a double chokehold on Morton, which allows the ref to count to four, chase Lane out of the ring, and then Prichard gets ANOTHER count of four before having to break. The detail that they think up for these matches blows my mind. Everyone who doesn’t think that Morton deserves to be in the Hall of Fame should watch this match. Morton slugs back, but walks into a powerbomb that gets two for Prichard. Morton fires back again for another hope spot, but Lane powerslams him for two. Ricky with a double DDT on the Bodies, but he makes sure to bump in the opposite direction from his corner to build maximum heat before making the hot tag to Robert. Gibson is the house of fire, but the Bodies double-team him, until Morton sneaks back in with the double dropkick on Prichard. Lane takes the ref, and Prichard recovers with a bulldog on Gibson, with no ref. That gets two. Morton with an atomic drop on Prichard, still no ref, but Bobby Eaton returns, hits Prichard by accident, and Gibson pins him at 12:50 while Morton tackles Lane to keep him away. The breakup of the Bodies continues, but sadly it never blew off with Lane & Eaton v. Prichard & Del Rey. This was an AMAZING throwback to 80s wrestling and would have stolen the show on any other PPV. ****
US title: Dustin Rhodes v. Maxx Payne
Payne is subbing for the injured Ron Simmons. This is a really odd look for Payne, as he dresses in teased hair and leather coats and then wears an amateur singlet in the ring. He got better once he changed his look by the end of the year. Dustin works the arm and you can tell they’re immediately lost out there, or maybe Payne has nerves, I dunno. Dustin keeps working on it while you can see huge swaths of empty seats on the camera side. And now Maxx goes to work on the arm and chokes him out on the ropes. They’re doing an admirable job of killing a molten hot crowd here. Dustin slugs back and hits a lariat and suplex, setting up an abdominal stretch. Payne grabs the ref for the DQ at 11:29. They would have been better off just scrapping the match. DUD
Ric Flair returns to WCW, sitting at ringside for the NWA title match.
NWA World title: The Great Muta v. Barry Windham
Windham wins a test of strength as this has “style clash” written all over it. Muta controls with a headlock and they stay on the mat for a long while. They call 10:00 at 6:00 for some reason, and Muta just holds that headlock in the middle of the ring while the crowd dozes. Finally Windham breaks after TEN MINUTES in the hold and hits a DDT, and then follows with a suplex on the floor. Back in with another suplex that gets two. Muta very clearly could not give a shit here. Windham with a sleeper and the crowd turns his way, so Windham puts his feet on the ropes to make sure he gets booed. That goes on for another long while, and he tosses Muta and it’s MORE CHINLOCKS back in the ring. Muta makes the comeback with a spinkick for two and they fight to the top rope, and Muta comes down with a…chop. Wow. Handspring elbow and he sets up for the moonsault, but Windham moves and it drags on with Muta hitting a backdrop suplex instead. The crowd is just openly booing Muta now. Another moonsault hits knees, and Barry THANKFULLY puts him down with a lariat and finishes with a butt ugly DDT to win the NWA World title at 24:07. Frankly I’m shocked they didn’t just have Flair pin him and win the title right there because god knows they wanted it on him as soon as humanly possible. -* Muta claimed to have the flu after the fact, but I don’t know what Windham’s excuse was.
WHITE CASTLE OF FEAR: Sting v. Big Van Vader
This is non-title and NON SANCTIONED BY WCW according to a graphic. Good, if this sort of brutality was sanctioned I’d have to write a letter to TBS or something. Jesse points out the obvious: Sting has to drag the 400 pound Vader to four corners in order to win, so immediately he’s at a huge disadvantage. They play tug of war with the strap and Vader clobbers him with a clothesline and drops elbows, then follows with a splash off the middle ropes. Vader stops to gloat, so Sting uses the strap to hit him low and slugs away to put him down. Enzuigiri and Sting goes up with a flying clothesline, and follows with a pair of flying splashes. Sting WHIPS HIM, WHIPS LIKE A DOG and the crowd is all about that. Vader bails and Sting uses the strap to yank him into the post. At this point Vader has developed horrifying bloody welts on his back from the strap. Sting actually does a cool idea where he touches the OUTSIDE posts in succession, but only gets two before Vader breaks. Back in, Sting with a samoan drop, but Vader wallops him in the corner. Sting backdrops out of the powerbomb and goes up again, but this time misses the splash and Vader takes over. Vaderbomb and he returns the whipping from earlier, which reminds Jesse of Tony and his children. Vader takes him to the top for a samoan drop as they just completely ignore the stips and beat the fuck out of each other. Finally Vader drags his carcass around the ring and touches two corners, but Sting breaks it up. Vader goes up again and misses the pump splash, but then goes to the top and gets crotched this time. Sting pulls him off the top as Vader is just bumping all over here. They slug it out on the mat and Vader takes him to the top for a superplex. He touches three with ease, but Sting clings to the ropes and breaks the count. Vader pounds away, but Sting makes another comeback and hits a nutso german suplex and follows with a DDT. He just beats Vader down in the corner, but the ref is bumped and Sting carries Vader around the ring on his back and touches all four. At this point Vader has managed to cut his own ear and in fact hit an artery in the process, gushing blood all over the ring. Sting has used up his last energy with the failed attempt to win, and Vader ties up Sting’s feet as the ref recovers, and drags Sting to all four corners to win at 20:54. And a good thing too because Vader needed medical attention IMMEDIATELY. Best strap match ever. ****1/2
This show is one of the few 100% thumbs up shows in Observer history, and deservedly so. With an insane three ****+ matches and a little bit of something for everyone, this was an all-timer.
Wrestlemania 9 will have a lot to live up to next month!