Friday, June 14, 2019

The History of WCW SuperBrawl (1996)

WCW was still running on the WWF's old fumes....

SuperBrawl VI - Bayfront Arena - 2.11.96

WCW was nearing the end of its full-on WWF-lite phase, and the landscape was about to change only a few months after this show.  But for now we're stuck in retread mode, and the results are once again quite tedious.  Here we go....

I've said it before but I can't stand listening to Dusty Rhodes' commentary.  His overuse of the phrases "If you weel" and "Dubya C Dubya, where da big boys play" is so beyond grating I wanna stab myself in the face.  Also when did Tony Schiavone begin using the word "telecast" every thirty seconds?  I don't remember him ever saying that word in the 80s.  Jeezus Christ Tony!

The show opened with a mildly entertaining garbage match between The Nasty Boys and Public Enemy, which at the time was probably considered pretty wild.  Both teams were pretty dull to watch in general but this match was a little fun at least.

The surprising hit of the night was TV Champ Johnny B. Badd vs. Diamond Dallas Page.  Pretty decent stuff here, as these guys had good chemistry.  Weird to see Badd go over here since he was WWF-bound a month later.  DDP was morphing into the solid hand he'd become during the nWo era.

Taker musta been pissed....

This show had three very disappointing matches, and the first was a Tag Title match; Harlem Heat vs. Sting & Luger.  A major letdown considering the talent involved.  Too much of this and the followup match against the Road Warriors was taken up with "Is Luger a good guy or a bad guy?"  No one looked terribly motivated.  Hawk & Animal interfered to give Sting & Luger the win (I guess stemming from their feud with Luger?).  Pretty weak.

The US Title was on the line next as Konnan defended against One Man Gang.  Jeezus this was terrible.  I was never impressed with Konnan to begin with, and seriously, someone thought the One Man Gang would get over in 1996??  Gang's offense looked beyond sluggish and one-dimensional, and Konnan was sloppy as all hell.  Konnan won with the worst-looking cannonball-type move ever.  Brutally awful.

Speaking of awful, next was an "I Respect You" strap match between Kevin Sullivan and Brian Pillman.  Now correct me if I'm wrong, but is being forced to say the phrase "I respect you" really that much of a blow to someone's pride?  You can very easily have respect for someone you dislike; it's not like an "I Quit" match where you're admitting you got beaten.  Anyway, Pillman infamously went off-script here and surrendered 45 seconds into the match "I respect you, Booker Man!", and Arn Anderson was sent out as a sub.  Anderson and Sullivan plodded through about three minutes before Ric Flair broke up the fight and got them on the same page, uniting them against Hulk Hogan.  Utterly pointless.

The most disappointing match of the night was Sting & Luger's first Tag Title defense against The Road Warriors.  On paper this should've been a fine contest, and had it taken place seven years earlier it would've been.  But again no one looked motivated at all and the crowd gave less than a shit.  Just meandering, nondescript brawling until the double countout finish.  Next?

Is it me or have these guys lost a step?

Correction: the most disappointing match of the night was the semi-main event, pitting WCW Champion Randy Savage against Ric Flair in a Steel Cage.  How in God's name do you screw up this one?  Well, start with two guys who look totally lethargic and have them loaf around the ring awkwardly with no structure or flow to the match, add not one but two spots where Savage pulls down Flair's trunks to expose his bare ass, make sure the crowd is totally dead for the whole proceeding, and out of nowhere have Elizabeth hand Flair her shoe to use as a weapon, turning on Savage and giving Flair the win.  Don't get me wrong, heel Liz was super hot, but this match was not good at all.  These two had a classic just four years earlier but looked here like they couldn't care less about anything but collecting a paycheck.  After the finish Hulk Hogan came to Savage's aid, which just seemed odd to me considering his match was next.

Ok that was something

The main event was another of Hulk Hogan's attempts at reliving WrestleMania III.  The workrate was about on par with Hogan vs. Andre except Paul Wight was far more athletic here than Andre was ten years prior.  Wight actually no-sold three Hogan legdrops and it finally took a chop fight at the top of the cage, leading to Wight falling all the way to the mat, for Hogan to escape.  After the bell Kevin Sullivan's whole stable attacked Hogan, who chased them off singlehandedly with a chair.  Way to bury an entire heel stable.

I don't believe Andre ever did this spot

I have to wonder if WCW hadn't signed Hall & Nash two months after this, and thus the nWo was never formed, how long the company's ratings dominance would've lasted with this recycled 80s WWF formula.  This product was so tepid and devoid of any urgency, I have to think WCW's viewers would've started turning away within a year.  Of course if Hall & Nash had stayed with Vince perhaps Steve Austin wouldn't have caught on so strongly.  It's an interesting what-if.  But anyway, this show was quite a chore to sit through.  Most of the wrestling was sloppy and shiftless, and the characters and angles were faint echoes of a much more exciting era.  On paper this show looked quite good, but in execution it was a mess.

Best Match: Johnny B. Badd vs. DDP
Worst Match: Konnan vs. One Man Gang
What I'd Change: I'd have started pushing young talent way the fuck sooner and used all the big names to help them get over.  Where was Chris Benoit on this PPV by the way?
Most Disappointing Match: It's a tossup between Savage-Flair and Sting/Luger-LOD, but I gotta go with the former.  Two of the greatest of all time can't crack the two-star range?  Were they on valium at the time?
Most Pleasant Surprise: I guess the garbage match opener
Overall Rating: 4/10
Better than Starrcade '95? - Negative

SuperBrawl V
SuperBrawl VII

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