Wednesday, February 17, 2021

The History of WCW SuperBrawl (1992)

Welcome back to The History of WCW SuperBrawl!

SuperBrawl II - Milwaukee Theater - 2.29.92

The second edition was a streamlined eight-match show that made great use of WCW's thinning roster and put the focus back on a strong in-ring product.  1992 was the year the company got back to basics and this show set the tone.  Flair's 1991 departure had left a huge hole in the roster and this was where that wound finally started healing over.  Jesse Ventura made his WCW debut on this show and it's great now to hear him and Jim Ross as a broadcast team.  Interestingly Ventura was the first to point out that if Ross wore a cowboy hat he'd look like JR from Dallas.  I think Vince owes Ventura credit for Ross's WWF marketability as Good Ol' JR.

Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Brian Pillman was a goddamn helluvan opening match, for the Light Heavyweight Title.  This match showcased all kinds of action North American fans weren't yet accustomed to and helped introduce Liger to a new audience.  There was a miscue or two but overall this was full of great false finishes and big high spots.  Pillman won with a bridging leg cradle after Liger missed a top-rope splash.

This was crazy goddamn stuff for 1992

Second was Terry Taylor, under the Ted Dibiase-esque "Taylor Made Man" persona, against Marcus Bagwell.  What really should've been a throwaway was actually pretty entertaining while it lasted.  The ending was totally flat and felt like a mistake (the wrestlers even kept going after the pin was counted), but otherwise not too bad.

Cactus Jack vs. Ron Simmons was next and these two beat the hell out of each other for six-and-a-half minutes.  Much like Pillman vs. Windham the year before, this was way better than its running time would suggest.  Damn good slugfest.

Mankind beats up Faarooq

The one match I was dreading was Van Hammer & Tom Zenk vs. Richard Morton & Vinnie Vegas, but actually this was not as bad as it looked on paper.  The action was fine when Zenk and/or Morton was in the ring but Kevin Nash was pretty bad in 1992.  I'm not sure why they thought turning Morton heel was ever a good idea.  This went longer than it should've but it was still watchable.

Probably the second best match of the night pitted Barry Windham & Dustin Rhodes vs. Steve Austin & Larry Zbyzsko in a wild tag team brawl with a ton of heat.  The Dangerous Alliance had injured Windham's hand in a car door and the babyfaces were out for revenge.  This went a fast-paced 18 minutes including two hot tag spots, before Windham hit Larry with a top rope lariat for the win.  Quite entertaining stuff.

The Tag Team Titles were next as Anderson & Eaton faced The Steiners in a pretty action-packed match reminiscent of Anderson & Blanchard vs. The Road Warriors from Starrcade.  The Steiners controlled most of the match and appeared to win at the end, but a ref bump led to them being disqualified instead.  The ol' Dusty Finish strikes again.  But still a fine tag match.

I know you can't make out their faces, but trust me,
it's Austin, Zbyszko, Windham & Rhodes

The semi-main event went to the US Title match between Rick Rude and Ricky Steamboat.  These two always had pretty good chemistry, and so this match was a strong 20-minute outing.  The big subplot throughout the night was Paul E. Dangerously being banned from ringside, which more or less telegraphed that the mysterious ninja in Steamboat's corner would be none other than Paul E., who interfered at the end by smashing Steamboat with his cellphone.  Pretty silly ending to an otherwise solid match.

The main event was the one and only PPV main event we ever got between Lex Luger and Sting.  Luger had been the WCW Champ since July of '91 but his contract was up and he opted to jump to the World Bodybuilding Federation, on his way to the WWF.  Stupidly though, WCW used up all his contracted appearances long before this match so Sting was left to hype it by himself.  The match itself was pretty good, especially considering Luger wasn't at all motivated.  Finish sorta came out of nowhere when Harley Race tried to piledrive Sting on the floor, but Sting escaped, climbed to the top, and hit Luger with a flying bodypress to regain the WCW Title.  The match had a big fight feel though, which made it seem better than it probably was.

If only Luger had been more motivated here

Overall SuperBrawl II was a significant step up from the previous year.  We got a great opener, a few small undercard matches (of which Cactus vs. Simmons was the real standout), and four big matches in a row in the second half.  The two tag matches significantly upstaged the two big singles bouts, but nothing on the show was bad.  1992 WCW didn't have a ton of star power but the roster was well-rounded enough that they were usually able to put on consistently watchable PPVs, and this was probably their best overall show of the year.  Sting was about to fully take over as the face of the company and his feud with Vader would carry them through most of 1992-93.

Best Match: Jushin Liger vs. Brian Pillman
Worst Match: Terry Taylor vs. Marcus Bagwell
What I'd Change: Maybe cut the Taylor match and give more time to the Cactus-Simmons bout
Most Disappointing Match: I guess probably the main event since it only went 13 minutes, but it wasn't bad at all
Most Pleasant Surprise: Cactus Jack vs. Ron Simmons - for a six-minute match this had a ton of action
Overall Rating: 8.5/10
Better than Starrcade '91? - You bet your sweet ass

SuperBrawl I
SuperBrawl III

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