Six of the Best – WCW SuperBrawl

This time out we look at one of WCW’s gala events in the form of SuperBrawl. Indeed, for some within WCW itself, SuperBrawl was actually the event they considered to be the biggest event of the year, even bigger than Starrcade. This mostly was the case when Eric Bischoff took over, as he’s gone on record saying he never really cared for Starrcade due to it happening in December and preferred SuperBrawl’s February date.

SuperBrawl was generally a decent effort from WCW, and usually saw some pretty newsworthy big matches, such as Hollywood Hogan battling with Roddy Piper, Sting and Ric Flair in 97, 98 and 99 respectively. One SuperBrawl event in particular ended up dominating the list however, but in my defence you could probably make an argument for it being the best pay per view event WCW ever put on!

As always, these are just my own personal picks. This isn’t supposed to be some sort of objective list or anything. If I leave out a match that you think warrants inclusion, then please feel free to put it down in the comments section below. As with previous lists, I’ll be listing the matches in chronological order.

So without further to do, let’s get to it!

SuperBrawl
Sting and Lex Luger Vs The Steiner Brothers

The first SuperBrawl was actually held in May 1991, before subsequent events were moved to February to tie in with the NFL’s SuperBowl event. I had to include this match though, because it’s chuffing awesome, so I’m going to bend the rules so that I can lead with it here.

What can I say about this match that hasn’t already been said? This was WCW’s top four babyface stars going out there and leaving it all in the ring in front of a jazzed crowd. Considering how crap most of the original SuperBrawl is (Check Scott’s write up if you don’t believe me), this match really does save it from contention as one of the worst events of all time. It’s that good.

You get technical wrestling, big power moves, hard clotheslines and punishing suplexes all in the same match, as the two babyface squadrons are not afraid to tear into one another, with Sting even getting a big plancha in the early stages. Watching Sting hold his own in an incredible match here really highlights why so many consider him a Hall of Fame calibre worker.

Sting and Scott Steiner are both the stars of their respective team, with both of them pulling out huge moves and taking the sort of big bumps that men their size don’t often tend to take. Scott Steiner was utterly terrifying during this period, as he was yet to succumb to foot and back issues and was an absolute monster in the ring.

If you’ve never seen this match then I heartily encourage you to do so. It’s hugely exciting with oodles of hot moves and great near falls. Most importantly though is that the match is just super, super fun. They go 100 miles an hour from start to finish and it’s an absolute riot. What a great match!

SuperBrawl II
Jushin “Thunder” Liger Vs Brian Pillman

This match really is the archetypal hot opener, as Liger and Pillman combine excellent technical wrestling with eye watering high flying to send the Milwauke crowd into raptures. What often gets overlooked though is just how good the actual wrestling is in this one, as both men are technically proficient and know their way around a wrist lock.

It’d be churlish however to not admit that the high flying is what everyone is salivating for in this one, and it more than satiates the crowds thirst when it happens. The highlights when it comes to dives are Liger getting a rolling senton from inside the ring to the outside, only for Pillman to top it by getting a big cross body from the top rope to the outside.

Both men literally dropkicking each other out of the air is a brilliant visual spot and the match is just fantastic from start to finish. It might seem a tad tame to big fans of modern day spot fest companies like Lucha Underground, but this match was state of the art in 1992 and it’s still really fun to watch even today. If you’ve never seen this one then you owe it to yourself to rectify that sharpish!

SuperBrawl III
Chris Benoit Vs Too Cold Scorpio

This was during an odd period in Benoit’s career where he came to WCW for a bit in 92-93, but didn’t stick around for very long and ended up going back to New Japan and eventually ECW before coming back to WCW in 1995. Watching matches like this makes it confusing as to why WCW didn’t do more to retain him as he was already an excellent in ring performer and just needed a bit of polish to get to the next stage.

Benoit actually shows some good heel attitude in this one, taking the time to taunt the crowd and just generally being a jerk, whilst Scorpio is a great babyface, using his speed to catch Benoit unawares whilst also doing an admirable job of hanging with him on the mat. The Asheville crowd show appreciation for the smooth technical wrestling and are into the action throughout the bout.

This is two men going out there and working the match like it’s an actual contest between two finely tuned athletes. It’s a good battle of styles and the execution from both men is on point throughout. What I also love about the match is that they tease like it will go to a time limit draw but then actually deliver a finish in the dying seconds of the bout. The crowd seems almost certain that the draw is coming, so their reaction when the pin fall happens is one of surprise and joy.

This really is a bit of a forgotten classic, but it’s an utterly superb bout and I really can’t recommend it enough. Matches like this are why wrestling is such an enduring art form.

SuperBrawl III
Falls Count Anywhere
Paul Orndorff Vs Cactus Jack

Mick Foley takes an absolute battering in this one, as Orndorff uses the guardrails in numerous creative ways to inflict all kinds of horrific punishment, including actually suplexing Cactus onto the one whilst it is stood up. It really is a gruesome spot to see Cactus lad back first on the point of the railing and then slide off to the unforgiving concrete. Tony Schiavone at one point calls the bout “barabaric”, and he isn’t far off.

After flinging Cactus into and onto the railings, Orndoff takes him back inside, where he mercilessly goes after his knee in vicious fashion as well. This really is an absolute beat down, and it went a long way to establishing Cactus as a gutsy babyface, as he survives the beating and ends up picking up an unforeseen victory thanks to a last gasp shovel shot.

This match can be a bit uncomfortable to watch at points, as Orndorff really holds nothing back in his brutal destruction of Cactus, but it’s also a fantastic exhibition of Mick Foley’s threshold for pain as well as his abilities to be a genuinely sympathetic and likeable babyface. The crowd loses their mind when he finally manages to prevail, as they know he earnt it. Two guys even high five on the front row!

SuperBrawl III
White Castle of Fear Strap Match
Sting Vs Big Van Vader

This is an absolute war between the two top stars of WCW at the time, and it served as the blow off to their original feud before things started heating up between them again in 1994. For those not au fait, Sting and Vader had the sort of magic chemistry that few wrestlers truly have together, with them almost being the perfect opponents for one another.

Vader was big enough and mean enough that it was believable that he could manhandle and destroy the muscular and powerful Sting, whilst Sting was gutsy enough and fiery enough that it was believable that he could actually hang in there with such a monstrous foe. Both men’s gimmicks and ring styles just worked together and created a formula for greatness.

As with most matches between these two, Sting takes an absolute battering from Vader, getting pummelled into mush at times, but what separates this from other matches in their feud is that Sting gets a chance to really hammer away at Vader in response for once, and he takes it with absolute gusto, busting Vader open hard way with the strap and just generally beating him into a brutal paste.

Despite this however, it is Vader who ultimately ends the bout victorious, as he essentially hogties Sting and drags him to each corner to pick up the victory. It’s a pretty decisive win for a heel in such a big stipulation match, but then again that’s kind of what Sting Vs Vader was all about. Sting would get battered over and over but would keep coming back for more because he was so gosh darn brave. It was one of the few feuds where the face losing would still get him over, because he’d done such a good job taking it to the monster so that he gained something even in defeat.

Most people tend to remember this match for the laughable video segments to hype it, which saw Sting hop in a helicopter and journey to a Vaders version of the Batcave in order to agree to the strap match. For me however, the memory from this match that sticks with me is Sting hurking Vader up into a fireman’s carry and trying to carry him to each corner, and almost succeeding! It’s that sort of balls to the wall madness that is exactly why I love this rivalry much. Who else would be able to do that to Vader and make it look even remotely close to being believable?

SuperBrawl VIII
Chris Benoit Vs Diamond Dallas Page

It’s been interesting to see how views on DDP have changed over the years. 20 years ago you would have got pilloried on certain parts of the internet by trying to suggest that DDP was a good worker, but these days most people will be happy to admit that he was at the very least decent between the ropes, if not better.

I always loved DDP’s scummy man in jeans gimmick from this era, and I genuinely think it did a lot of good for the WCW side to actually have someone competent representing them. Sting aside, DDP was the closest person the WCW team had that even bordered on being “cool”, and even that was a very non-traditional style of cool when compared to the sort of cool the nWo portrayed.

As this match shows though, DDP was not only over as a character but he was also more than capable of keeping up with an elite worker like Benoit. This match starts out as a technical wrestling match before things break down into more of a fight, which fits the story of these two ultra-competitive men going all out to prove they are better.

I actually really loved the DDP/Benoit respect program from 1998, although it was a shame that Benoit ended up getting phased out of it so that DDP could start feuding with Raven. Benoit works this one as the subtle heel and aggressor, targeting DDP’s perpetually injured mid-section and trying to wear DDP down with an assortment of debilitating holds.

The closing sequence is fantastic and they take the match home with the feeling that there is still stuff left on the table for a future match, whilst also giving the crowd a clean finish. The only thing I dislike about this match is DDP’s half arsed cover on the winning fall. I get that the Diamond Cutter is supposed to be devastating, but you could do the other guy the courtesy of pinning him properly at least.

That small quibble aside, I really do enjoy this match and think it tells a really interesting story from start to finish, combined with solid work from both men. This is another match that I can happily and heartily recommend if you’ve never seen it before. It’s just a well worked match between an elite worker in Benoit and a very intelligent worker in DDP.

Honourable mentions

Arn Anderson Vs Bobby Eaton (SuperBrawl), Ricky Steamboat Vs Rick Rude (SuperBrawl II), The Heavenly Bodies Vs The Rock N Roll Express (SuperBrawl III), Steve Austin, Rick Rude and Paul Orndorff Vs Sting, Brian Pillman and Dustin Rhodes (SuperBrawl IV), Vader Vs Ric Flair (SuperBrawl 1994), Vader Vs Hulk Hogan (SuperBrawl V), Randy Savage Vs Ric Flair (SuperBrawl VI), The Giant Vs Hulk Hogan (SuperBrawl VI), Chris Jericho Vs Eddie Guerrero (SuperBrawl VII), Juventud Guerrera Vs Chris Jericho (SuperBrawl VIII), Disco Inferno Vs Booker T (SuperBrawl IX), Terry Funk Vs Ric Flair (SuperBrawl 2000), Chris Kanyon Vs Diamond Dallas Page (SuperBrawl: Revenge)