Last time out I listed what I believed to be the six best matches from the former annual September WWE pay per view Unforgiven. Seeing as I gave WWE’s former September showpiece the business, I decided to do the same with WCW’s Fall Brawl event.
The Fall Brawl pay per view event ran annually from 1993 to 2000, and was usually the show WCW chose to unleash its #1 gimmick match known as War Games. Sadly WCW had a strict no blood rule during this era and their greatest showcase bout suffered as a consequence. However, Fall Brawl still hosted its share of good matches over the years and I found more than enough matches to make a top six.
As always, these are just my own personal picks. If you think I’ve unfairly excluded a particular match then please share your thoughts in the comments section below. As with the Unforgiven list, I’ll be listing the matches in chronological order, just for the sake of ease.
Fall Brawl 1994
Bunkhouse Buck, Terry Funk, Arn Anderson and Colonel Parker Vs Dustin Rhodes, Dusty Rhodes and The Nasty Boys
This would probably be my personal favourite of the “Bischoff Era” War Games matches, as WCW made up for the lack of blood by building the match around beloved legend Dusty getting his hands on hated heel manager Parker instead. As a storyline tool it works beautifully as Dusty is super over with the Virginian crowd and they zealously cheer him on as he hits everything in sight with his patented “Bionic Elbow”
Having great workers like Funk, Anderson and Dustin in the match helps things flow well and the heat builds nicely to a crescendo when Dusty finally enters the cage as the conquering hero. Say what you want about Dusty being portrayed as his teams tank, but the fans eat up everything he does and there’s no doubt that the amassed crowd plonked down their ticket money to see Dusty batter Parker, and batter him he does! Indeed, rumour has it that Parker took such a walloping here that he actually soiled himself as a consequence! Now that’s a beat down!!
This is as good a War Games as you could probably get without letting the wrestlers get some colour, and it’s thoroughly enjoyable to watch the duplicitous Parker finally get his comeuppance.
Fall Brawl 1995
Brian Pillman Vs Johnny B Badd
This will likely be little surprise to anyone reading this, but Brian Pillman was an absolutely fantastic professional wrestler, as this match clearly shows. He carries things for the most part here and gets a superb match out of Badd. Badd was an excellent athlete back in the day and a legitimate Golden Glove boxing champion, but he was never what I would consider an elite worker. However, if you’d only ever seen this match you could be forgiven for thinking he was.
Pillman’s metamorphosis as the battle progresses is something to behold, as he starts out the match as a babyface but gradually acts more and more heelish as the contest ebbs on until he’s cheerfully being an absolute dick by the bouts conclusion. I consider this match to be one of the best opening bouts of all-time, and a lot of that is down to Pillman’s performance. Pillman crafts a match that gets the very best out of his opponent whilst also making himself look better in the process. I love the finish as well, as both men go for a running cross body at the same time and end up crashing into each another, with Badd just happening to land on top for the pin.
WCW was always renowned for having great opening matches and Pillman Vs Badd is one of its finest.
Fall Brawl 1995
Ric Flair Vs Arn Anderson
Two founding members of The Horsemen being at odds and doing battle in Horseman Country™ is an occasion that would pique most wrestling fans interest. However, the possibility of Arn Anderson battling Ric Flair was almost unthinkable after all the years “The Enforcer” had come to “The Nature Boys” aid. However, relations between the two had become so fractious by the autumn of 1995 that there was no alternative but for them to lock horns in Asheville.
The match builds from an initial technical wrestling duel to a much more aggressive fight, as you can see the friendship between the two men deteriorating with every hold and strike. Tony Schiavone and Bobby Heenan do an excellent job on commentary by getting the story of the match across and putting both men over as wrestlers. Heenan is in fact moved to tears at the bouts conclusion and it really adds to the feeling of this being a monumental contest that wrestling fans never truly thought they would see.
It’s a shame that the match has a screwy ending involving interference from Brian Pillman, but it ends up leading to a great match and angle at the following months Halloween Havoc, so I’ll give it a pass. This is an all-time classic match that features tight wrestling, strong psychology and emotional storytelling.
Fall Brawl 1996
Super Calo Vs Rey Mysterio Jr
WCW had such a loaded roster during this time period that it felt like they could use a random name generator and end up with a great match. This bout has that feel to it, as Rey was actually in a program with Dean Malenko at the time, but The Iceman wasn’t getting another shot until Halloween Havoc so they decided to throw Calo in there and see what happened.
Seeing as this is probably the most high profile singles match of his WCW run, Calo makes the most of it by showing off his high flying offence. Rey is mostly relegated to selling for large parts of the match, but he’s such a good underdog that it ends up working in the matches favour. What I like about the match is that Calo frequently goes for covers, which makes the match feel like an actual fight where guys are trying to win rather than just a display of hot moves.
Both men work really hard and eventually succeed in getting a pensive crowd into the match and then proceed to blow the roof off with the finishing sequence. For those who have never seen it before, Rey springboards from one set of ropes onto another before getting the match winning rana. I love watching the crowd during this as you can see people literally LEAP out of their seats in excitement. Definitely one of Rey’s better matches of his early WCW run and well worth a look if you’ve never seen it.
Fall Brawl 1998
Raven Vs Saturn
I was really into The Flock angle during this timeframe and really wanted to see Saturn destroy Raven in the build up to this. This has all the classic hallmarks of a Raven match, as it features numerous twists and turns as well as some nail biting near falls. Billy Kidman gets to turn face by hitting Raven with a missile dropkick, before leading the rest of The Flock away so that Saturn can finally put an end to the group once a for all.
The near falls really are stupendous and few people out there can do this sort of match better than Raven. He’s always been great and putting together these long intricate finishing sequences without making them seem overly choreographed. The result of all this is that the fans are vociferously behind Saturn and they practically explode when he finally puts Raven away with the Death Valley Driver.
The match sadly doesn’t save an awful show, but it’s presence at least ensures that Fall Brawl 98 doesn’t end up being the worst pay per view of all-time. It’s a shame WCW squandered Saturn following this by sticking him in a heat sapping feud with Ernest Miller, as he was super over following this match and they definitely could have done more with him.
Fall Brawl 2000
Scott Steiner Vs Goldberg
This is one of those matches that falls comfortably into the category of “Big blokes throwing each other around with reckless abandon”, which is a specialist genre within wrestling that certainly has its appeal when done correctly. Steiner and Goldberg flinging each other from one end of the ring to the other with almost seamless ease is something to behold and it makes the match a lot of fun. They are also smart not to overstay their welcome, keeping things under fifteen minutes and letting both men go all out.
The copious amounts of interference from Vince Russo and Midajah leave a bitter taste in the mouth but they at least give Goldberg an out for losing and could have been excellent groundwork for a big rematch between the two men at Starrcade later in the year. However, this being WCW they just blew it off on a random Nitro and had Steiner and Goldberg work with Sid Vicious and Lex Luger respectively at their biggest show of the year instead.
It’s a shame such a fantastic match didn’t get a suitable follow up, but WCW was circling the drain at this stage and probably would have ruined it had they kept the program going anyway.
Steven Regal Vs Ricky Steamboat – Fall Brawl 93, Sting Vs Vader Vs Guardian Angel – Fall Brawl 94, Chris Benoit Vs Chris Jericho – Fall Brawl 96, Eddie Guerrero Vs Chris Jericho – Fall Brawl 97, Alex Wright Vs Ultimo Dragon – Fall Brawl 97, Lenny Lane Vs Kaz Hayashi – Fall Brawl 99
Well thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane. Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below and add any matches you think should have been included.
I also write for a website called Gaming Respawn. My most recent article was a retrospective on Tekken 5. You can read my thoughts by clicking right HERE.
Meanwhile, elsewhere on the Blog of Doom;
Head honcho Scott Keith has FINALLY re-reviewed WCW Slamboree 1997 after nearly two decades and you can read what he thought by clicking tight HERE.
Logan’s review of WCW Pro from the 18th of February 1995 is now up and you can read what he thought of the Alex Wright Vs Paul Roma main event by clicking right HERE.
And finally, you can read my fellow countryman Lorcan’s thoughts on the most recent episode of World of Sport Wrestling over on ITV by clicking right HERE.