The SmarK Retro Repost – Superbrawl II


– Anyway, this redo of an earlier rant came about not because of any great desire to see Superbrawl Revenge this Sunday, but because my original review of the show from 1997 sucked ass, and no moreso was that noticeable than when I did my Top 20 WCW Matches of the 90s rant, and the Pillman-Liger match was reduced to a paragraph with no detail. Plus the DVDVR guys were pimping the US title match and the Austin/Larry v. Rhodes/Windham match, which caused alarm bells to go off in my head, because I didn’t recall liking either match that much the first time around. So let’s set the wayback machine for Feb. 1992 and hit this puppy again

– Live from Milwaukee, WI

– Your hosts are Jim Ross & Jesse Ventura. Interesting sidenote: Jesse suggests jokingly to Ross that he should start wearing a cowboy hat and call himself “JR”. Bet Good Ol’ JR doesn’t send the guv any royalties for THAT one.

– Opening match, light heavyweight title: Jushin Thunder Liger v. Brian Pillman. Pillman works the arm, and they each flip out of a wristlock. Leapfrog exchange sees détente on a dropkick attempt. Pillman goes back to the arm. Liger pound away, but gets headscissored and bails. Pillman does a sort of baseball slide and Liger stalls for a bit. Back in, Liger goes to the mat with a toehold. Pillman goes cheap to break into the corner for some CANADIAN VIOLENCE. Liger moonsaults out for two, and dumps Pillman with a dropkick. Highspot fakeout time, and a frustrated Pillman heads back in and goes to the mat with a form of the abdominal stretch. Liger reverses, but Pillman makes the ropes. He tries again, but Pillman breaks again. Liger follows him into the corner with a NASTY dropkick, but Pillman gets off a crucifix for two. Liger comes back with a sunset flip for two. Pillman hits a backdrop suplex that’s totally missed by the crack camera crew. Blind charge misses and Liger works on the knee. Figure-four in the centre of the ring gets several two counts and they channel Flair-Luger and slap each other around to see who would get control of the move. Pillman gets fired up enough to reverse, but Liger keeps pounding the knee once the move is broken. Pillman’s selling is awesome. He fights back with an enzuigiri and headscissors, but Liger calmly dumps him and hits a spectacular somersault senton off the top. Crowd is just shell-shocked by this stuff. Liger tries to suplex him back in, but Pillman blocks and nails Air Pillman. He suplexes Liger onto the floor (!) and heads up for a plancha. He misses another dive off the apron and takes his trademark chinfirst bump to the railing. Back in, Liger goes upstairs but gets stunned by a mid-air dropkick from Pillman. Pillman tries his own aerial move but Liger uses the same tactic on him. Dueling leg lariats both miss. Pillman comes back with a powerslam for two. Liger reverses a german suplex with one of his own for two. They go to the top, and Pillman blocks a superplex and hits a flying bodypress for two. Liger powerbomb gets two. Another try is reversed to a rana-rollup for two. Pillman DDTs him for two. Criss-cross leads to the double-KO. Pillman recovers first and goes upstairs, but gets superplexed for two. Liger goes for the Benoit headbutt to finish, but misses, and Pillman gets a fluke cradle for the pin and the title at 16:57. They do the handshake of respect and the crowd goes apeshit for both. This being WCW, both guys were buried weeks later. ****3/4

– Marcus Alexander Bagwell v. Terry Taylor. Taylor was playing Ted Dibiase at the time with his “Taylor Made Man” gimmick that went nowhere. Mildly interesting sidenote: The main event of The Main Event on TBS on the day of this PPV was Taylor & Greg Valentine winning the US tag titles from Big Josh & Ron Simmons. Why is this mildly interesting, you may be asking? Because The Main Event ran from 6:05-7:05 EST, and the PPV started at 7:00 EST, thus forcing viewers who ordered the show to choose between missing a title change on free TV or missing the opening match on the PPV. Ah, that wacky WCW. Taylor takes Bagwell down to start, but gets hiptossed. They demonstrate some fisticuffsmanship, then brawl onto the ramp. Back in, Bagwell cross-body gets two. He works a headlock, and other basic stuff. Crowd chants “Rooster”. Touche. Bagwell reverses a suplex into a sleeper, and they brawl outside. Taylor stiffs the hell out of him. Back in, they slug it out, but Bagwell makes the cardinal mistake and Taylor hits a Doctorbomb for two. Cross-corner clothesline and kneedrop get two. Ventura wonders when Marcus will start calling for mommy. 1998, by my count. Suplex and Taylor hits a flying splash for two. Piledriver is reversed, but Taylor cuts off the comeback with a rolling necksnap. Bagwell suddenly gets a rollup out of nowhere for the pin at 7:35. Ending made no sense, and I wonder what Taylor’s problem there was? *1/2

– Cactus Jack v. Ron Simmons. Jack hammers away off a cheapshot, and Simmons eats foot on a blind charge. Jack is quickly put into the “head stuck in the ropes” position that cost him an ear years later. They brawl outside, and back in Jack goes low and hits a facebuster. Slam and legdrop get two. Simmons makes a blind charge, and gets hit with a lariat out of the corner. Double-arm DDT and legdrop get two. Back outside, Jack is right at home. He nails a Cactus Elbow off the 2nd rope, and they head back in. Simmons tries a dropkick (!) but misses and takes a two count. Jack hits the chinlock, but Simmons escapes and gets right back on that horse again, hitting the dropkick this time. Jack dodges a shoulderblock and Simmons tumbles to the ramp. Jack charges and literally walks right into a spinebuster on the ramp that just looked sick. Back in, Jack comes off the 2nd rope and gets powerslammed on the way down for the pin at 6:24. Fun little power match. *** Abdullah the Butcher and JYD get involved in a brawl, and THANK GOD it didn’t go anywhere later.

– Richard Morton & Vinnie Vegas v. Van Hammer & Tom Zenk. Let’s see – Kevin Nash playing a big heavy in contrast to a smaller blond heel. It was RIGHT THERE for WCW and they didn’t even know it. That’s why they were always #2 with a bullet – they created their own great ideas and then watched them get taken by the WWF without even realizing it. Morton and Hammer start, and Ricky gets powerslammed quickly. Vinnie comes in and does the epic shoving match with Hammer. I always felt that WCW was missing the boat by not teaming Van Hammer with Greg “The Hammer” Valentine somehow, but I’m not 100% sure what the joke is. Wit is a dangerous thing, not to be trifled with. Vinnie goes to town, but gets headbutted low while trying a leapfrog (!), and damned if it isn’t a pretty nice one at that. WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED? Hammer works the arm with a hammerlock, and ONCE AGAIN WCW misses the boat with yet another witty submission-move name that just writes itself. They slug it out, and Vegas drives him hard into the corner, but Hammer comes out with a nice-looking lariat. Okay, where are the real Van Hammer and Vinnie Vegas? This is much too effort-intensive for it not to involve pod-people. Tom Zenk and Ricky Morton both tag in, and they do a quick reversal sequence to establish equality before Zenk dumps Morton and follows with a pescado. Back in, Nash and Hammer go again, as Vinnie hits a NASTY backdrop suplex and short clothesline for one. Hammer plays, er, Ricky Morton as Ricky Morton works him over. Vegas bulldog gets two. Gut wrench suplex gets two. Big boot actually makes contact (!), and Morton comes in to grab a two-count off it. Nash drops an energetic big elbow for two. Hammer gets a powerslam on Morton, but the ref is busy with Zenk and some heel shenanigans result. Ricky Morton must have laid this match out or something, because it’s total old school and the crowd is totally into it. Sometimes (a lot of the times, actually), it’s the old tricks that still work the best. Vegas and Hammer botch a suplex, but Hammer gets the hot tag to Zenk anyway. He destroys the heels. Powerslam on Ricky gets two, and a sunset flip finishes at 12:00. I liked this match WAY more than it had any right to deserve considering the talent involved. Or maybe it’s just because I’m such a huge Ricky Morton mark, I dunno. *** The effort in this match was a direct result of K. Allen Frye offering a nightly bonus to the guys who had the best match. Although really going against Pillman & Liger was an unfair competition at best.

– Larry Zbyszko & Steve Austin v. Barry Windham & Dustin Rhodes. This one of course stems directly from Halloween Havoc 91, where the Dangerous Alliance slammed a car door on Windham’s hand and broke it. The hand, not the door. Big brawl to start, and the faces get the advantage. Windham and Larry fight outside while Dustin pounds on Austin. Elbow, but Austin blocks a monkey flip. He goes upstairs, but gets clotheslined on the way down for two. Austin bails but gets tossed back in and Windham gets a dropkick. He then DEMANDS Larry get into the match, and tosses Austin over to make the tag. How can you argue with that? Larry comes in and hits a quick savate kick. Outside they go, where Barry reverses a piledriver attempt and clotheslines him back in. Lariat (the proper one, not just a generic Texan clothesline) gets one, but he chooses to pick him up. A vicious DDT follows and the faces double-team for two. Dustin works the arm. Barry hits a gut wrench suplex for two. He tries a piledriver, but Austin comes and plasters him to stop it. With the ref distracted, Larry tosses Windham over the top. Barry gets dropped ball-first on the railing and plays Ricky Morton. Austin gets a nice lariat and suplex for two. Windham tries a desperation lariat and misses by three feet, landing on his head on the floor in the process. Gotta love Barry Windham’s dedication to his craft. Larry talks some shit and hits a neckbreaker for two. Austin backdrop suplex gets two, and we HIT THE CHINLOCK. Larry comes in and goes to the sleeper while JR debates the relative merits of Jesse Ventura as a potential football commentator. No shit. Double-KO, hot tag Dustin. Atomic drop for Austin, elbow gets two. Lariat gets one. Austin blocks a rollup and suddenly hits a clothesline, as Rhodes does the samoan oversell job. The DA lays in the punishment. Larry gets two off a neckbreaker. DDT gets two after Dustin puts his head down. He then does the same and Dustin nails him and makes the classic tactical error of chasing Madusa. Austin nails him off the top to end that little side-project. Back in, Austin hits the chinlock again. Criss-cross, but Austin clotheslines him again and Larry calmly works him over. Rhodes comes back with a suplex, but Larry keeps him in enemy territory with a drop toehold. I love the little things like that, because it drives the fans nuts. Austin goes back to the chinlock, but redeems himself by putting his feet on the ropes. Dustin finally gets a desperation stungun on Austin, hot tag Windham. He kills Larry with a lariat for one. Pier-six, and a superplex is blocked but Rhodes shoves Larry off the top and Barry nails him with yet another lariat, this time off the top rope, and that’s enough for the pin at 18:28. More old-school goodness with the masters of it. ****

– World tag team title match: Arn Anderson & Bobby Eaton v. The Steiner Brothers. Scott controls Eaton to start on the mat, and goes to the knee right away. Scott puts his head down and takes a neckbreaker, but Bobby flies off the top, right into a release belly to belly that puts him right out of the ring. Rick and Arn go, stalling results. Funny spot as Arn drops down on a criss-cross, so Rick does the same to taunt him. Arn tries a leapfrog but gets slammed. He regroups outside. Scott works the arm, then muscles out of a double-wristlock attempt by the champs and the Steiners clean house. A cheapshot almost turns the tide, but Scott avoids a double-team and retains control of Arn. Bobby gets involved and Scott gives him a tilt-a-whirl on the rampway. Back in, the Steiners get a unique version of the Doomsday Device, but Rick takes a NUTSHOT FROM HELL from Eaton and plays moron-in-peril. Bobby works a hammerlock, and an Anderson elbow gets two. Scott sneaks in and the Steiners hit stereo suplexes. Scott gets the tag for real, and a suplex gets two on Anderson. Arn decides to sacrifice Eaton, and rams Scott into him to turn the tide. Alabama Jam gets two. Arn’s DDT gets two. He works his knucklelock spot in, but retains control by turning it into a boston crab. Arn nails Scott on the ramp, and the champs hit a Rocket Launcher on the ramp. Scott guts it out, and hot tag to Rick. Steinerlines abound. Heels try a Doomsday Device of their own, but Rick catches Eaton and slams him. Top rope bulldog for AA gets two. Madusa gives Anderson some powder to blind Rick with, and the inevitable ref bump follows. Scott hits the Frankensteiner on Eaton, and ref #2 counts the pin at 20:05. After a ref conference, the Steiners are DQ’d at 20:05. Solid but not as a good as I remember it the first time. WCW came to it’s senses a couple of weeks later and put the titles on the Steiners at a house show, in case you’re wondering. ***

– US title match: Rick Rude v. Ricky Steamboat. I didn’t like this match at all in the initial rant, but I was pretty tired when writing that one and was in a fast-forwarding mood, so let’s try it from scratch. The heat for Rude is so incredibly loud that he can’t even cut his pre-match promo. This marks one of the few times that WCW marketed someone better than the WWF. Steamboat is accompanied by his personal trainer and bodyguard, the mysterious Ninja. Not Tori, before you ask. Long lockup sequence to start, and Steamboat hammers him and goes armdraggin’. Facejam gets two. He works the arm and wraps it around the post. Back to the armbar, but Rude pounds him. Dragon kicks at the arm, then back to the armbar. Into a hammerlock slam and back to the arm. Criss-cross and crossbody get two, and back to the arm. Rude tries his own crossbody and the plan seems to be for both of them to go over the top, but the ropes are too tight and it doesn’t happen. They eventually make it out there and Rude drops him on the railing to take over. Suplex back in and Rude goes to the eyes to keep Steamer off-balance. Clothesline, but Rude hurts his injured arm further on the move. PSYCHOLOGY~! Rude hits the chinlock, and Steamboat fights out, only to get clotheslined again. Stungun and spinning neckbreaker set up a piledriver for two. Steamboat grabs a headlock, but Rude drops him on his head for two. Steamboat escapes a headlock with a kneebreaker and goes to a figure-four for good measure. Rude makes the ropes, then shoves him into the corner and clotheslines him from behind. Rude goes upstairs for the flying fist. Up again, and an elbow connects, followed by a nasty clothesline for two. Rude pounds him down and goes to a rear chinlock. Steamboat electric chairs out of it. Criss-cross and they collide, but Rude grabs a sleeper. Steamboat reverses, but Rude jawbreakers out of it. He goes up, but gets crotched and superplexed, for two. Steamboat continues the comeback with two clotheslines and an enzuigiri. Seated clothesline gets two. Steamboat presses Rude right onto his face and goes up for the KARATE CHOP OF DOOM. Flying bodypress looks to finish, but before he can hit the move his Ninja pulls out a suspicious-looking cell phone, breaks it over his head, and Rude gets the pin to retain at 19:57. The Ninja is of course unmasked as the banned-from-ringside Paul E. Dangerously, having kidnapped the real Ninja earlier in the night. I totally stiffed this match the last time around. ***3/4

– WCW World title match: Lex Luger v. Sting. Luger is totally unmotivated here, being that his contract was structured so that he didn’t even have to work this match to get paid and he was on his way out anyway. Staredown to start. Luger quickly hammers Sting to control. Blind charge misses and Sting goes in for the kill with the Stinger splash, but Luger no-sells and kills him with a clothesline. Sting reverses a Rack attempt to a german suplex and uses a Torture Rack of his own. Jumping DDT and Luger bails. They brawl outside, and back in where Luger begs off. Backdrop suplex gets two for Sting, and he grabs the Deathlock. Luger makes the ropes, then cheats to take over. Punch and kick stuff follows, with no effort from Lex. Press slam and piledriver get two. Sting comeback, but he ends up on the floor. Harley Race’s interference backfires, and Sting comes in with a flying bodypress to win the World title at 13:00. This was just a formality to end the Luger experiment and pave the way for Vader. **

The Bottom Line: I loved this show initially, and I still love it, but for different reasons now. Specifically that Windham/Rhodes v. Zbyszko/Austin match and the shockingly-good Morton/Vegas v. Hammer/Zenk match. This show was just dripping with effort and commitment (besides Luger), all of which ended once Bill Watts took over, sadly. I now know who to blame for what Kevin Nash became.

Highest recommendation.