The SmarK Rant for WCW SuperBrawl ’91 (05.19.91)
Man, the original rant was written in 1998! I’d say that’s due for a redo. I added an Apple TV to the list of stupid gadgets that I really don’t need last week, so this will be my first crack at watching WWE Network on it. This will also be my first time seeing the full version of the show, as the original rant was done on the 2-hour home video version.
Live from St. Petersburg, Russia. Or Florida, whatever. Gate was 6000 people paying $76,000.
Your hosts are Jim Ross & Dusty Rhodes
US tag title: The Fabulous Freebirds v. The Young Pistols
Finally, the months of anticipation for Dave can pay off, as he’ll finally witness the debut of FANTASIA, who is definitely not Angel of Death or Steve Austin. There wasn’t really a tournament here, they just decided to put the belts up in this match after the Steiners vacated them. In an odd move, the Pistols are just “Steve” and “Tracy” now, like they’re a boy band. Steve gets a quick rollup on the stalling Hayes for two as we see the ocean of empty seats whenever the camera angle changes from the main one. Everyone was probably stuck in traffic, I guess. Big Daddy Dink gets involved, so Brad Armstrong comes out to chase off the managers and throw poor Dave off the scent for later. Had that angle actually paid off in any manner whatsoever, that would be a cool swerve. Although we JUST had the announcers trying to ignore the last names of the Pistols, but then they had to acknowledge that Steve and Brad are brothers. We get some bad comedy selling from the Freebirds as they clown around and the Pistols work on Garvin, but of course some opportune cheating turns the tide and Tracy is your face-in-peril. The fans are so invested that they chant for the Freebirds while they work Tracy over. Steve fights back with a superkick on Garvin and makes the hot tag to Steve, and we get stereo missile dropkicks that miss ridiculously. I mean, nobody on the Birds was even in the same TIME ZONE. Tracy regroups from that flub and clotheslines both Freebirds to the floor and hits them with a dive, then the Pistols hit their double team finish on Hayes but they can’t cover. They do another one on Garvin this time and the ref is bumped, and this brings out the mysterious FANTASIA, who hits the Pistols with a pair of DDTs, and Hayes pins Tracy to win the titles at 10:22. Ross notes that the shirt said “Fantasia” but it might as well have said “Brad Armstrong”. This was every Freebirds v. Pistols match you’ve ever seen in your lifetime. ***
Ricky Morton v. Dan Spivey
Capetta announces this as “the opening contest” because WCW. Spivey pounds on Morton in the corner and WASTES him with a DDT out of the corner. DAMN. Spivey with a powerbomb, but Morton fights back, so Spivey hits him with a blockbuster slam and legdrop for two. WCW Rule #1: No one gets the pin on a legdrop. Until 1994. Morton keeps fighting with a rollup out of the corner for two, but he misses a dropkick and Spivey gives him another powerbomb and finishes him with one foot at 3:10. Holy shit, working Japan in tag teams every night with Stan Hansen made Spivey AWESOME. WHAT HAPPENED TO THIS GUY?!? *
Meanwhile, Tony interviews the injured Tom Zenk and Missy Hyatt, who will apparently be allowed to go back into the dressing rooms.
Nikita Koloff v. Tommy Rich
They’re still building up the Luger-Koloff issue, which oddly never got a blowoff. You’d think that after Lex won the title at the Bash (sorry, spoiler alert) they could have used Nikita as a challenger, but NOPE. Nikita tosses Rich around a bit, but Tommy rolls him up for two. More things I don’t understand: Rich and Morton were a totally decent and workable tag team who hadn’t been beaten into the ground like all their other loser teams and they desperately needed new babyface teams…so they get split up and turned into jobbers as singles instead. And then turned heel immediately afterwards. Koloff goes back to beating on Rich, and without his 80s aura Nikita has NOTHING left to offer in the ring. Punch, punch, choke, choke. Rich makes a brief comeback, but whiffs on a bodypress and Nikita kills him dead with the Sickle at 4:05. Total squash. DUD
And now, JOHNNY B. BADD! Apparently he was fresh off his training with the Malenkos at this point, and he turned out to be a fast learner. He notes that he was so pretty he should have been born a little girl, but he’s still a bad man. I think the gimmick would have worked better as more of a rock star emphasis, like Dalton Castle, rather than playing on the “flamboyant” stereotype.
Terrence Taylor v. Dustin Rhodes
Taylor has a ponytail to go with his normal outfit, so in WCW logic that’s a heel turn. Dustin was a 21 year old near-rookie here, and of course he’s STILL going strong today, some 25 years later. Mr. Hughes debuts his badass suit and porkpie hat look here, doing Dusty’s favorite gimmick in a bit that ALWAYS works. Put a big guy in a sharp suit and glasses and have him wreck guys and no-sell shit, and it’s MONEY. Well, not Hughes specifically, but in general. Taylor stalls and checks the computer a few times (which isn’t even turned on, of course), but Dustin slugs away and takes him down with a headlock in an awkward spot. Taylor bails for more computerized advice. I feel like someone needs to make an Alexandra York Twitter account, as if she was tweeting from ringside in 1991. Taylor ducks a bodypress and Dustin lands on the ramp, allowing Taylor to suplex him in for two. Dustin makes the comeback with a lariat and atomic drop as we get a bunch of Dunn-like crowd reaction shots, and the bulldog looks to finish, but York is distracting the ref. Mr. Hughes gets involved and they manage to screw up the heel miscommunication spot somehow, as York has the longest conversation in wrestling history while they reset and try it again, but Hughes eventually hits Taylor with a loaded glove by mistake and Rhodes gets the pin at 8:06. I’m surprised Dusty didn’t book his son to pin all three heels at the same time, so this was marginally better than that, I suppose. Dustin was VERY green here. *
Big Josh v. Black Bart
Oh my god, this is turning into the most 90s WCW show EVER. And yeah, as promised in the Observer recaps, Josh has TWO BEARS in his corner. WHY DID THEY CUT THIS OUT OF THE VIDEOTAPE?! The man had ACTUAL BEARS in his corner and they didn’t even make the home video edit! But Dustin Rhodes and his boring ass match did! Josh controls with hiptosses to start, but Bart THROWS THE RULEBOOK OUT THE WINDOW and uses both an eye rake and a thumb to the eye. Jim Ross did warn us that Bart would use those sorts of tactics, so if you’re as shocked as I am, you have no one but yourself to blame for not listening. Bart works the arm as I already miss the bears and wish they had turned it into a trios match against the Freebirds and Brad Armstrong, because Hayes wrestling a bear would have been AMAZING, and then Brad would have had to job to the bear. Bart slugs away while Ross uses his assorted verbiage to tell us that yes, he knows this match is fucking awful, and he’s mostly sorry for it. It’s PHYSICALLY INTENSE. Much like a painful bout of diarrhea. Speaking of which, Josh finishes with the butt splash at 3:20. WCW: Sign Maniac Matt Borne and turn him into a fucking lumberjack. DUD
Paul E. Dangerously brings out Stan Hansen for an interview that goes nowhere and leads to nothing.
THE GREAT AND POWERFUL OZ v. Tim Parker
In true WCW fashion, they do an over-the-top entrance with the cast of the Wizard of Oz, complete with castle, and then give Oz generic guitar music. Oz, with hair dyed grey but not as grey as Nash’s real hair these days, finishes Parker with a spinning slam at 0:15. This was a complete failure on every level that you can fail on. DUD The idea, for those who don’t know, is that Turner’s office guys considered the Robocop experiment, which was intended to promote the home video release of Robocop 2, to be a success and wanted Jim Herd to come up with more corporate synergy in the wrestling division. And since Turner had the rights to the Wizard of Oz movie, this is what we got.
Meanwhile, Missy goes back into the locker room as this show continues to circle the drain in epic fashion. Stan Hansen, who was only there to do a 30 second interview with Paul E. Dangerously, is now taking a shower in his underwear as the payoff for all this hilarity.
Taped Fist Match: Brian Pillman v. Barry Windham
Pillman slugs away in the corner to start while Windham cowers to keep people from cheering for him, but then he takes over with a shot to the ribs. Pillman tosses him and follows with a dive and they brawl on the floor, but Windham runs him into the post and Pillman blades right on camera on the way back into the ring. Also, Windham is bleeding, because reasons. Oh yeah, Dusty is booking, I forgot. Pillman was never really a bleeder, probably because he was shitty at doing it. Windham drops him on the top rope while Ross recounts the feud for us. Let me summarize: Pillman loses every match to Windham in decisive manner, jobs at the Wargames, jobs in a loser-leaves-town match, becomes the Yellow Dog and loses more matches, storyline is dropped abruptly and never paid off or mentioned again. There you go. Windham finishes clean with a superplex after a low blow at 6:05 out of nowhere, just to further prove my point. *1/2 And then he beat him up some more on the way out! Windham just DESTROYED him here like he was nothing. And Pillman was supposed to be getting a push!
And now, MORE TALKING. DDP (with a headset mic where he apparently doesn’t know he’s live on the air) throws to pre-taped interviews from Luger and Sting, and then introduces us to the Diamond Studd, who is basically Razor Ramon right out of the box. “Well that was quite a debut” notes JR sarcastically. This is quite a PPV, I note equally sarcastically.
Stretcher match: Sid Vicious v. El Gigante
Thankfully I know there’s a top level match coming up because this is literally one of the worst shows I’ve ever seen thus far, by a WIDE margin. Gigante wins a power battle to start, which means we have to watch Sid try to sell, so it’s a lose-lose proposition. Sid goes low to take over and now we have to watch GIGANTE sell, which is even WORSE. Sid charges and hits boot, doing his flat back “bump” to sell it where he goes from standing to flat on his back without even bending his knees, and Gigante finishes with the CLAW at 2:00. -*** And then Sid disappears to the WWF as One Man Gang and Kevin Sullivan attack Gigante. As expected, Sid leaves and absolutely does not go out on the stretcher on his way out of the promotion.
If the show so far has been like a case of bad food poisoning, where every match is another trip to the bathroom to barf up whatever meals you’d consumed for the past 48 hours (There’s the McDonalds from last night! The cereal from this morning! Wait, when did I eat corn?) and finally you think you’ve reached the end of the solid food in your digestive system, but then El Gigante v. Sid forces you to drag your lifeless body back to the toilet to vomit up the bile that’s left in your stomach because you have nothing left to offer. I mean, that might be overstating it a tad, but HOLY FUCK THIS SHOW IS BAD.
THUNDERDOOM cage match: Butch Reed v. Ron Simmons
This was another one where the heel was on the way out of the promotion and they weren’t even sure he was going to show up. So of course you promote it on PPV! That wouldn’t ever backfire at all! I can tell ya that I was not feeling the Simmons singles push at this point in my life. Ron gets an atomic drop and whips Reed into the cage, but misses a charge and he also runs into the cage. This is supposed to be a “Thunderdome” cage, but it’s really a very low rent normal cage match. Reed drops an elbow off the middle rope for two and Simmons is bleeding, also very blatantly gigging himself right on camera several times. Reed pounds away with STRONG RIGHT HANDS, which are not quite up the level of a “soup bone” on the JR scale, but still nothing to trifle with. Simmons misses a dropkick and Reed chokes him down on the mat as these guys are lacking a certain something when they’re beating on each other instead of the Steiners. Reed keeps cutting off Ron’s comebacks by sending him into the cage, looking like he’d rather be back at the rodeo at this point in his career. Reed with a piledriver for two as the crowd cares even less than Reed does. Back into the cage goes Ron as they plod onwards and upwards and Reed gets two. Simmons escapes a chinlock, but Reed cuts him off with a neckbreaker and goes up with the flying shoulderblock for two. Finally Simmons makes the comeback, but Reed catches him with a high knee and they clothesline each other. Teddy Long throws an international object into the ring from his position in the cage above the ring, but Simmons hits a spinebuster for the pin at 9:42. Boring match and Simmons wasn’t ready for a push, but they had to push SOMEONE with everyone bailing on them. *1/2
WCW World tag team titles: The Steiner Brothers v. Sting & Lex Luger
Rick controls Lex with his mat skills to start and Lex retreats to the ropes and then puts him down with a shoulderblock that Rick sells like a champ. Powerslam gets two. Lex misses a charge and Rick hits a release german and puts him down with a clothesline for two. Lex comes back with his own clothesline out of the corner and a press slam as Rick is willing to take whatever here. Rick bails and Sting hits a running dive onto him as these guys are determined to save this fucking show on their own. Sting with a bulldog, but Rick no-sells and pops up, so Sting runs Rick into the corner on a backbreaker, but misses the Stinger splash. Over to Scott, who quickly unloads on Sting with the butterfly bomb and tilt a whirl slam. And the crowd is ALIVE. Finally. Sting catches him with a hotshot and Luger comes in with a suplex, but Scott quickly comes back with a belly to belly superplex on Sting for two. Scott charges and lands on the apron, and Lex suplexes him back in for two and follows with the powerslam. Scott counters out of the Torture rack by hitting a legsweep in a weird spot, and the Steiners sucker Luger into the corner for a top rope bulldog from Rick that gets two. Sting saves with a missile dropkick and they all slug it out, which leads to Rick and Lex colliding for the KO. Scott and Sting both tag in and Scott fights for the tombstone, but Sting hits it for two. It’s BREAKING LOOSE IN TULSA and Sting hits the Stinger splash on Scott, but Nikita Koloff charges in and hits Sting with the chain (while aiming for Lex) and Scott pins him to retain at 11:00. Can’t go the full monty any longer because they screwed up a couple of spots, but this was balls to the wall action from start to finish. ****1/2
World TV title: Arn Anderson v. Bobby Eaton
Totally forgot about this match, actually. Bobby’s music (and thus the ring intro) is sadly muted out and replaced with generic music, thankfully the only time it happens in this show. They trade headlocks to start and Eaton slugs him down, but Arn cheats to take over. Bobby clotheslines him out of the corner, but Arn pounds away in the corner and manages to slam Bobby off the top rope and onto the ramp. Eaton escapes a piledriver attempt out there and comes in with a double axehandle for two. Arn cheats again and wraps Eaton’s leg around the post to work it over. Eaton comes back and runs Arn into the turnbuckles a bunch of times, but the leg gives way again. Bobby keeps fighting and slugs Arn down, but Arn goes back to the knee to ground him. He works the leg, and hits the spinebuster for two. Arn goes up and gets caught on the way down, and Bobby makes the comeback with the neckbreaker and Alabama Jam to win the TV title at 11:50, as the camera completely misses the winning pin while following Barry Windham and Brian Pillman at ringside. This was Bobby’s only major singles title, and he had it for two weeks before falling victim to Steve Austin’s rise to prominence. Arn put him over like a champ, clean as a sheet, but the match was pretty dull. *** I know, Arn Anderson having a boring match, what a shock.
WCW World title: Ric Flair v. Tatsumi Fujinami
This was promoted as Flair defending the WCW title, but in actuality it was WCW title v. NWA title in a backroom storyline intended for the Japanese audience and the old men who still gave a shit about the NWA in 1991. But don’t worry, Fujinami’s IWGP title isn’t on the line because that would be CONFUSING. Flair no longer has “Zarathustra” as his entrance theme, and he does a weird entrance where he gives his watch to a guy playing his cook for some reason. They’re just doing everything to kill him off here. Tiger Hattori is the inside ref, and Fonzie is the outside ref. Flair throws chops to start and Fujinami throws right back and backdrops him out of the corner, and Fujinami stretches him with a bow and arrow hold and goes to a deathlock. Suplex gets two and Flair bails to the apron, so Fujinami suplexes him back in and puts him on the floor with a flying forearm. They slug it out and Flair crotches him on the railing. Back in, Flair goes to work on the leg and quickly hooks the figure-four, but Fujinami gets all riled up and reverses to the Scorpion deathlock. Side suplex gets two, but Flair tosses him for another brawl on the floor. Flair goes into the post and SURPRISE SURPRISE it’s yet another blade job on a Dusty Rhodes-booked show. Cage matches, check. Stupid gimmicks, check. Run-in finishes up and down the card, check. Overuse of blood, CHECK. Back in, Fujinami whips Flair in for the Flip. Flair comes back and misses an Oklahoma Roll attempt as they have a miscommunication there, and he decides to just bail to the floor and sell instead. Back in, Fujinami slams him off the top and hooks him in the Octopus, which no one has any clue how to react to. Flair counters out as this match is just dying for a variety of reasons, mostly because Fujinami is wrestling like the babyface but Flair is getting cheered for being American. They collide and Flair bumps to the floor again, which is becoming his go-to move for the match. Back in, Fujinami reverses a slam for two and cradles for two. And then we get a ref bump, (check!) and Flair cradles and holds the tights for the pin with the second ref counting the pin at 18:42. Terrible buildup + dead crowd + weird dynamic = FAIL. Dave really liked it, but this just didn’t work for me, like at all. ***
The tag match is well worth watching, but the rest of the show is NO BUYS. Just a bad idea for a main event and a whole of WCW 1991 stupidity here. And it would get WORSE soon enough!