Ring Crew Reviews: WCW Fall Brawl 1995
Posted by Jack Bramma on 03.12.2014
Arn Anderson and Ric Flair go toe to toe to see who the real enforcer is, Brian Pillman and Johnny B. Badd go 30 minutes in the opener, and The Hulkamaniacs go after The Dungeon of Doom in War Games.
• Scheduled Card:
1. WCW United States Heavyweight Championship Challenger Elimination Match: Flyin' Brian Pillman vs. Johnny B. Badd.
2. Cobra vs. Sgt. Craig “The Pitbull” Pittman.
3. WCW World Television Championship: Diamond Dallas Page vs. The Renegade (c).
4. WCW World Tag Team Championship: Harlem Heat vs. Bunkhouse Buck and Dirty Dick Slater (c).
5. Arn Anderson vs. Ric Flair.
6. War Games: The Dungeon of Doom vs. The Hulkamaniacs.
• TONIGHT, A CONTINUOUS BOMBARDMENT OF EXCITEMENT IS PROMISED! Two title matches and two main events. Arn and Flair are on the outs and taking their frustrations out on each other. Also, The Hulkamaniacs will take on the Dungeon of Doom in WarGames.
• Earlier today, Giant drove over Hogan's Harley with a monster truck. Brain's got the scoop. Giant said he was SORRYSORRYSORRY that Hogan wasn't in it when he ran over it.
• WCW United States Heavyweight Championship Challenger Elimination Match: Flyin' Brian Pillman vs. Johnny B. Badd. By the way, if you haven't heard this particular WCW music for Pillman, it has to be experienced in all it's glory. It's essential theme is that Pillman likes all women regardless of dealbreakers such as felony arrests, chain-smoking, bathing habits, etc. I LIKE 'EM SHORT! I LIKE 'EM TALL! I LIKE 'EM BIG! I LIKE 'EM ALL!
• Tony plays this as friend vs. friend and then talks up how over Badd is in Asheville noting a woman's marriage proposal sign in the front row. Brain: “Marry me? She'd have to beg... This is close to Mayberry, isn't it?” Tony: “It's nowhere near Mayberry.” Brain: “Everyone is dressed like Aunt Bea.” Badd then shoots his confetti cannon as a surrogate orgasm. Tony: “OH MY!”
• After a quick break, Brian offers a shake to show they're playing by the rules tonight. Badd with a quick hiptoss. They trade go-behinds and hammerlocks that ends with a Pillman hiptoss. Pillman headlocks him over and Badd sends him off. Pillman with a shoulderblock but runs under a leap frog. Pillman cuts him off for the leap frog spot and they go for stereo dropkicks. ECW STANDOFF! Pillman grabs the arm but Badd bridges up and over and tosses Brian down. Badd goes back to the hammerlock but Pillman snapmares him over. Tony drifts off talking about Giant. Brain: “I thought he was here. I saw the footprints out front. I THOUGHT THEY WERE A YETI!” You know, a 9 ft tall mummy that would break out of black ice and attack Hogan later in 1995, THE YETAY! NO! Not that Yeti, oh fuck it. Brian works a lying headlock but Badd sends him off. They collide both trying to take clotheslines but Pillman claims it and covers for 1, 2, only 2. Pillman grabs an arm and goes to work. Fine so far but this is more like going through the motions of a chess match than an actual even match. They talk over dinner later before calling the next spot. Pillman whiffs on whatever and Badd trips him up into a slow La Magistral. Not cool. Tony invites out of thin air that Badd was trained by Sting. Brain pounces: “So, Sting trained this man? So basically, Badd is Sting's pet.” Tony: “No--” Brain: “Like a cocker spaniel.” Tony: “No—no--that's wrong.” Brain: “Can he learn tricks? Can he retrieve and fetch?” Tony: “I DON'T KNOW!” Brain: “Have you ever rubbed him on the stomach and had him roll over?” Tony: “WILL YOU STOP?!” ANYWAY, Pillman drops Badd into a unique rollup as they continue this exhibition. Cover gets 1, 2, no. TOTHECHINLOCK! The crew spots a fan with a “Bobby Heenan for President” sign. Tony: “Did you have that designed and given to that fan?” Brain: “No, those are his own crayons. That's the Mayor of Asheville.” Tony: “That young man took the time to make a sign and you rip him apart.” Brain: “I'm not ripping him apart. If he wants me to be president, make a donation.”
• Badd catches Pillman trying up and over but Pillman counters back to a slick headscissors. Pillman rolls him into a wheelbarrow roll up for 1, 2, 2 ½. After those signs of life, they lay down for a while again. Back at it, Pillman floats over in the corner but Badd armdrags him down and goes to a lying headlock of his own. Pillman sends him off and tries a hiptoss but Badd hangs on and goes back to the headlock. Nice. Pillman counters out to a back-suplex-breaker for 1, 2, no. Pillman rolls him into a Boston Crab as Brain and Tony talk over pin mechanics. Brain: “That's a very nonchalant cover. He's gotta hook the tights or his leg or bang his head down one good time on the mat to ring his bell.” Tony: “Ya know, a lot of the wrestlers when they have a lateral press will hook a far leg, the leg furthest away to get added leverage. That time, Flyin' Brian had the near leg and that may have cost him.” Brain: “Well, they may be doing too much thinking. Maybe, trying to think two, three moves ahead. I would just play it by ear, gentleman. I wouldn't try to outsmart the man that much.” For as much as Tony gets shit and Brain rattles off zingers all the time, sometimes, they REALLY click and it's awesome. ANYWAY, Pillman releases the Crab and lays out Badd with a haymaker. Pillman: “WHO'S THE BAD MAN, NOW?!” Badd comes back with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for 1, 2, no. He grapevines the leg and works a spinning toe hold. Badd rolls him into a Surfboard but Pillman gets the ropes. They shove it out and Badd wins that one. Pillman goes to a back elbow and now the crowd hates him. Pillman rakes the eye down the ropes. Badd fights back with a combo and Pillman bails out to sell the Golden Gloves gimmick. Niiiiccccccccccccccccce. I can always get back gimmick and character work. Back in, Pillman offers another shake but Badd tells him HE'S THE BAD MAN! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Pillman's all C'MON, BROSKI! PUT 'ER THERE! The crowd boos the hell outta him so Pillman gives him a cheap shot and shitcans him out. Pillman bites but Badd blocks and smashes him into the turnbuckle. Badd slingshots back in with a guillotine leg drop. Cover gets 1, 2, 2.7. Badd goes to a resthold as Tony tells us that ALL WCW superstars are in the back right on the WCW Hotline. ............ After an uncomfortable silence from a room full of workers, WCW does what it does best – tells the monkeys in the truck and on the headsets to get back to what's important. Brain: “Soooo.......... who do you think will stab Hogan in the back first?”
• Meanwhile, Badd and Pillman have another go-round and criss cross and collide on crossbody attempts. Double KO spot as the crowd comes alive. Pillman staggers up at 9 and headbutts Badd back down for another double KO spot. That's pretty cool too. Pillman up first again and sends Badd into the turnbuckle. Badd blows the call and starts the get up so Pillman whispers for him to get down and Badd practically gets clipped by a sniper down to the floor. Buffer announces there are 5 minutes to go in the time limit and no one seems in a particular hurry, so we're headed for a time limit draw. Pillman tries a suplex back in but Badd blocks and dumps him to the floor. Brain brings up the old over the top DQ rule but no one cares because that rule sucked. Badd flies out with a plancha on Pillman. Back in, Badd tries another crossbody but Pillman counters to a DROPKICK! Cool spot. Badd cuts off Pillman with a sitout powerbomb for 1, 2, 2 ½. Pillman comes back with a tilt-a-whirl into a TOMBSTONE! 1, 2, no. 2 minutes left as Pillman tries a tornado DDT but Badd shoves him off and goes to the RESTHOLD! YEAHHHHHHHHHHH! GRIND IT! Or maybe not. All right, Badd's caught his breath so Pillman Russian leg sweeps him into a lying Octopus Stretch. Pillman goes to the ab stretch with a minute to go. Tony: “THEY HAVE TO KICK IT INTO HIGH GEAR! THE FINAL MINUTE!” Yeah, but it's just an ab stretch. Badd escapes out and lays out Pillman with THE KISS THAT DON'T MISS! 1, 2, Pillman in the ropes. Badd prematurely celebrates so Pillman springboards back in with a clothesline. 1, 2, 2.99999. Time limit draw at 20:08 but whatever. So much for that. BUT WAIT! Buffer informs us that the WCW Board of Directors must have a winner. Brain: “I've never heard of this before.”
• We restart the match with Pillman jumping Badd in the corner. Pillman gouges the eye but Badd fights back with rights, so Pillman takes a breather. They slug it out on the floor and Pillman sends Badd into the rail. These guys are noticeably huffing and puffing. Back in, Pillman heads up top but for the third time this match, they try the same move in unison and go to the double KO. Pillman up first and applies a Sleeper. Badd goes down in a heap and Pillman applies the vaunted ORTON LOCK! Badd gets the arm up on the third raise and elbows out. Badd sends him off for a Sleeper of his own but Pillman's out with a back suplex. Time for the 6th or so double KO of the match. They finally get to their feet and slug it out again. Nick Patrick: “HEY, GET YOUR FIST OPEN!” Pillman smacks Badd and puts him up top. Badd shoves him off for a super sunset flip for 1, 2, nearfall. Badd calls for the powerbomb but Pillman rolls him up for 1, 2, no. Pillman goes for a crucifix roll up but Badd drops down on him for 1, 2, 2.999. Badd ranas him off the top with Badd Day. 1, 2, 2.999999. Pillman counters out of the corner with a tornado DDT. Cover gets 1, 2, no. Pillman says it's over and heads up top but Badd crotches him on the top rope. Badd throws him ALL THE WAY down to the guardrail. Badd with a head of steam and flies out with a flip splash. They are DONE. It's been TWENTY EIGHT MINUTES! We are EIGHT MINUTES after a time limit draw. Brain: “I'm going to send out for pillows and a bed roller. WE'RE GOING TO BE HERE ALL NIGHT!” ANYWAY, Badd tries a splash back in but Pillman gets the knees up. Cover gets 1, 2, 2.9999999999999999. Pillman hangs him out to dry and Badd sells appendicitis. He works the count so Pillman flies out with a tope suicida half an hour in! Back in, Pillman tries a double jump splash but Badd crotches him again. They go round and round ducking each other and both land a crossbody but Badd lands on top for 1, 2, THREEEEEEEEEE to win it at 29:08.
• What a strange way to begin the PPV. Pillman's a high flyer of the highest order and a heat magnet at that; Badd's a consummate professional and masterful performer at what he does. But 30 minutes is just too damn long at what they were throwing out there. It was 50/50 sequence, resthold, 50/50, resthold, 50/50, double KO, resthold, etc. Neither guy seemed to have the gas tank for this, but if I'm blaming anymore, I'll throw it on Badd considering how quickly he would deteriorate in the coming months.
• Still though, Badd's problem isn't his conditioning here, it's his whole package. He's a man out of time and he got caught right in the middle of a business changing right under his very feet in the mid 90s and while he was over with the crowd, his shtick wasn't bringing them in any more. DDP was in the same boat and that's why they had magic together during 95/96 but were on different trajectories. DDP would change with the times overhauling his entire gimmick and Badd would stay Badd and he just didn't mesh with Pillman that well.
• I enjoyed Pillman's slow heel turn and both guys springboard planchas and dives down the stretch when they were totally gassed. If you can cut FF through every chinlock and double KO, you've got a really solid match that's bloated by half. ***
• Meanwhile, we take it to Tony and Brain talking about Flair vs. Arn. Brain blames this all on Hogan. Sounds good to me.
• Gene's with Flair. Flair raises the four fingers. DOCTOR! THE SYMBOL OF EXCELLENCE! Flair says he and Arn lived, sweat, bled, and cried together, and they shared a bond. Never having brothers or sisters, Flair being adopted and Arn from a broken home, they became what like was all about – BEST FRIENDS THROUGH IT ALL! They never asked each other for anything they wouldn't give back. But tonight, they're not walking the aisle side-by-side as the Horsemen, Masters of WarGames of old. NO! THEY GO FROM OPPOSITE ENDS OF THE BUILDING! Flair says that Arn has an opportunity, because while few people in their lives get to stand next to greatness, witness greatness, or be around greatness, tonight, Arn gets to FACE GREATNESS! PREACH, BROTHER!
• Gene wants to know if Flair hates Arn. Flair: “THE PROBLEM IS I LOVE HIM! BUT I LOVE HIM SO MUCH THAT TONIGHT, I GOTTA SHOW HIM WHY – HE'S GOING TO HAVE TO EXPLAIN TO HIS LITTLE BOY OR I'M GOING TO HAVE TO EXPLAIN TO MINE, THERE'S ONLY ONE KING OF THE HILL! AND IT'S GOING TO BE.... THE NATURE BOY!” FIYYYYAAAHHHHH!
• Cobra vs. Sgt. Craig “The Pitbull” Pittman. Cobra, who has Morse code music and would go on to infamy as n.W.o Sting aka Stink, has quite the backstory that Tony will fill us in on: “Interesting story: he's not a marine, he's in the CIA.” Thanks for that. For the cheap pop, Cobra gives his dog tags to a kid in the front row. BUT WAIT! PRINCE IAUKEA HAS COME OUT! Actually, it's Iaukea as a jobber private and this draws the ire of Cobra. Pittman gets the drop on him by rappelling from the rafters and choking him with a cache of bullets. Yes, you read that right. Pittman predated HBK and everyone else in the ceiling entrance department. ANYWAY, Pittman boots him around and dumps him out and hits the TROLL YELL to crickets. Cobra counters a whip and posts Pittman. Tony: “This is obviously personal.” Brain grasps for more intrigue but comes up dry: “Boy, I wish I knew the story.” Tony: “I bet you do. You love dirt.” Cobra heads up top and tries a crossbody but Pittman sidesteps and locks in an armbar. THE DREADED CODE RED! Randy Anderson has seen enough and calls for the bell at 1:23. What the fuck was that? Post-match, Brain puts over Pittman's entrance. DUD
• Meanwhile, Paul Orndorff had a recent loss to Macho Man and he began to question his whole approach. We cut to footage of him in the locker room throwing a fit and dumping the nickname Mr. Wonderful. Gary Spivey of the Psychic Companions Network comes to his rescue and he looks awful – like a bad combination of The Maestro and Richard Simmons with a Brillo pad wig and a middle school mustache. Orndorff says he doesn't know what to do because he used to have so many belts he couldn't carry them all but now he's a loser. Spivey gives him a Stuart Smalley pep talk in a mirror and this is some of the worst shit to ever grace a major promotion.
• WCW World Television Championship: Diamond Dallas Page vs. The Renegade (c). Page is a smarmy, cheap heel in the vein of HTM and a homeless man's Ric Flair but he does have Diamond Doll aka Kimberly and millions in the bank. Renegade is an Ultimate Warrior knockoff who got pushed hard but never took over. Big pop for DDP's entrance mainly because of Kimberly coming out first and then DDP talks trash to her and there's the heat. Either that or they're booing his gear.
• Rather than talk up this match, Tony reminisces about high school when the hot women didn't date him. Renegade comes storming out and scares DDP out of the ring. He mounts the corner to pose and Page waffles him from behind. Page goes to the hip checks and a Russian leg sweep. Cover gets 1, 2, only 2. Renegade no sells a headbutt and Hair Bands up and Page sells it to the floor and posts himself and falls into the front row. Tony: “HEY, HE DIDN'T PAY FOR THAT SEAT!” After another headbutt, back in, DDP wants a timeout but suckers Renegade into the corner. Renegade puts the brakes and counters to send DDP in. Renegade circles him around with a headlock as Brain puts over Renegade as a “friend of Hulk Hogan's.” Page gets to the ropes for a break but Renegade pulls him back in for a face bump and bowls over Page with a clothesline. Cover gets 1, 2, no.
• Renegade tries a burrito but Page ducks and Renegade goozles himself on the ropes. Page chokes away and lands a Bossman attack variation which Brain calls the “Ziricon Cutter.” Brain: “He's too cheap to be a real diamond.” Page lands a swinging neckbreaker and demands a 10 from Kimberly and she delivers to mild boos. MOARCHOKING from Page as Tony educates Brain on how to treat a lady but Brain takes offense on DDP's behalf: “Maybe she burnt the toast; you don't know.” Page shitcans him out to buy time. Renegade tries a sunset flip but Page counters, so Renegade counters back to a roll up for 1, 2, 2 ½. Page takes him down with a clothesline for another nearfall. Jimmy Hart tries a rally clap but DDP goes to the breadbasket and mocks the crowd to mild heat. Renegade escapes out of the corner and Page eats post. They exchanges blocked punches and DDP telegraphs a backdrop so Renegade takes him out. Lefty clothesline and down goes Page. Another and DDP sells a bad back right into a handspring back elbow from Renegade. He tries to head up top but almost trips and falls BETWEEN the two rings. That could have been ugly. Renegade lands a sledge off the top for another 2 count. Tony: “ACTION LIKE THIS MAKES WCW THE NUMBER 1 WRESTLING PROMOTION IN THE WORLD!!!!!!!” Settle down, Beavis. ANYWAY, DDP counters a backdrop with a SWEET swinging DDT. Delayed cover gets 1, 2, 2.7. Page: “GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!” DDP wants the Cutter but Renegade shoves him off and school boys Page for 1, 2, nearfall. Page goes to the throat. BUT WAIT! MAXX MUSCLE IS ON THE APRON! He collides with Page after Jimmy Hart's distraction and Renegade powerslams him. Renegade dives to the floor and takes out Muscle with a plancha. Muscle no sells to hold him down and DDP lands the DiamondCutter. Cover gets 1, 2, 3 for a new champ at 8:07.
• Luckily, DDP dumped the slapstick routine after a minute and just went to work with a competent match that got the point across. I know Renegade's rep but he's not horrible here nor at Bash 95. He's too hammy and awkward but so is the entire promotion in 1995. He's a bigger victim than perpetrator as within a year, half the roster in both companies would turn over and the direction of the entire business would change (for the better). **1/4
• Post-match, Tony tries to stick up for the Renegade but Brain tells him how to succeed in life. Brain: “Tony, do you want to be rich? You know how to become rich? You watch what poor people do and don't do it. IT'S THAT SIMPLE!” Tony dodges to instead put over the budding romance between Sensational Sherri and Colonel Robert Parker. He wants to know how this will affect the upcoming title match but Brain is already crocheting one-sies much to Tony’s delight. Brain: “Won’t they have beautiful kids?”
• WCW World Tag Team Championship: Harlem Heat vs. Bunkhouse Buck and Dirty Dick Slater (c). In case it wasn’t obvious, HH is accompanied by Sherri and the champs are accompanied by Col. Parker. Book cuts the patented, yelling—gibberish-over-the-commentary promo on the way to the ring: “YEAH! THAT’S RIGHT! I WANT MY STUFF BACK, SUCKA! O.G. FIXIN’ TO HURT SOMEBODY! BREAK YOURSELF BUCKET, SUCKA! IT’S ON LIKE NECKBONE!” Stevie does the same to the camera man: “LOOK OUT, SUCKA! I’M FIXIN’ TO GO TO WORK!”
• Nick Patrick, sans the lovestache but still sporting the mullet, keeps a very tenuous peace holding each team at bay. Book and Dirty Dick to start. Lockup takes them into a rope break in the corner. Slater with a cheap shot so Book clubs him down to get the advantage. Slater begs off to the corner to regroup. He drops Book into a toe hold but Book counters to a hammerlock. SMELL THE CATCH AS CATCH CAN CLASSIC BREWING! Nope, instead, Stevie tags in for yelling, kicks, punches, and more yelling. Slam and an elbow drop gets 1, 2, only 2 which Tony calls “street smart style.” Stevie chokes and then goes to the headlock. Tony and Brain continue putting over the challengers. Tony: “What you have to understand here, fans, is that to be a successful wrestler in WCW – to become a champion – you’ve got to really, really put a lot of effort, a lot of time in. You can’t just walk off the street and be a great street fighter and be a champion in WCW… You’ve got to put the time and effort into it and that’s what Booker T and Stevie Ray have done.”
• Good stuff. Book tags in and so does Buck. They fight over a wristlock so Buck goes low and boots him around. Brain, meanwhile, is still looking forward to the upcoming Parker-Sherri nuptials. Brain: “They’re in love, but their teams fight it out. Que sera sera, whatever will be, will be. And hop in my pickup, sweetie, and it’s off to Bucksnort, Tennessee.” Buck tries a guillotine so Book gets over to the corner and tags in Stevie for a little soupbone, neckbone action. Stevie chokes for a while and goes to the CLUBBINGBLOWS. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH THE CHINLOCK! Tony takes this opportunity to put over Sherri’s amnesia storyline but Brain has questions. Brain: “What are you saying? I should come up behind her with a baseball bat, waffle her, and see if she comes out of it?” ANYWAY, Book tags in for a spinkick and a 2 count. Buck escapes the chinlock but runs into a hiptoss. Tony: “WHATAGREATMOVE!” After a knee drop, cover gets 1, 2, no. Dirty Dick in and Stevie no sells everything he’s got for MOARCHOKING! Dick counters that with an inverted atomic drop out of the corner but Stevie won’t go down. Stevie finally goes down to a swinging neckbreaker. 1, 2, emphatic kickout and Stevie immediately goes back to no-selling and shoots on Parker for a double leg and some GnP choking. When did Stevie Ray decide that Dick Slater was a complete nothing jobber?
• Book tags in to take over but Buck kicks him from behind off a whip and Slater shitcans him out. Buck tackles him with a Ho Train on the floor. Back in, Buck with some knees and Book is reeling. A few more shots to the breadbasket and Slater is back in as the crowd is getting restless. Brain segues into discussing WarGames and Hogan demanding all of his Hulkamanics to take lie detector tests to prove their worth. Dick and Buck work over Book for a spell. Russian leg sweep gets another 2 count as you can audibly hear the crowd talking amongst themselves like a giant cocktail party. Slater piledrives Book for 1, 2, kickout. Buck shitcans him out and then Dicky SLOWLY sends him into the guardrail. If it’s even possible, Tony yells and drones at even slower half-speed, “WWWWWW-CCCCCCCCC-WWWWWW! WWWWWWWHHHHHEREREEREERE THE NUMBER ONE WRESTLING ACTION IN THE WORLD ISSSSSSSSSSS!” Back in, Buck gives Stevie a big boot to the neck and then they can’t decide if they want to choke or cover so Buck says fuck it and switches to an anchor hold. Brain: “You ever been in the dressing room when Bunkhouse takes that long underwear top off and hangs it on the hook there and goes in the shower?” TIME TO TAKE IT HOME!
• Book back in into the corner and then sends him across and goes for FLYING BOOK CANNONBALL PANCAKE… that I’ve never seen. Neither does Buck as he moves and Book wipes out. Slater tags in and taunts Stevie and lands a back suplex on Book for 1, 2, no. Slater lands the haymakers and covers for another nearfall. They fight over this lateral press and the crowd just doesn’t care even if they are working themselves into a solid match. After more nearfalls, Buck tags in and goes to the eyes and a Batista kick. Book elbows out but they botch then repeat then still botch but go through with a powerslam spot. Swinging neckbreaker gets 1, 2, crickets. Crowd is dead but I’m really appreciating the psychology behind the way Slater is working the pinfalls. Dick applies the Boston Crab, BUT WAIT! STEVIE’S IN WITH A FUCKIN’ PUMP CRANE KICK TO THE FACE! Buck dives in though to reapply as a half crab. Buck releases to send off Book but Book takes over with an ax kick. Tag to Stevie as Buck and Slater do some terribly mistimed feeding in for Stevie’s punches and bodyslams. Powerslam gets 1, 2, nothing as Slater breaks it up. Not exactly a house of fire from Stevie Ray on that sequence. Buck dumps out Stevie gingerly so they can double team Book. Stevie no sells the shitcan for a donnybrook as the camera pans wide to Colonel Parker spitting some Tennessee swag at Sherri. They get a bigger response than the entire match thus far. Tony: “I DON’T KNOW WHICH ONE TO WATCH!” This is insanity. TAKE IT AWAY, TONY! Tony: “THEY’RE GOING TO HUG AND KISS! OH! MEANWHILE, HERE COME THE NASTY BOYS!” They waffle Slater and Buck while Colonel dips Sherri with a kiss. Tony: “MY GOODNESS! HE GOT A BIG KISS ON BOTH ENDS!” Stevie drapes the arm for 1, 2, 3 to crown new champs at 16:50.
• This was thoroughly enjoyable if completely average in almost every way. The mild botches, the spastically perverse commentary, and the decent tag action add up to a satisfying schadenfreude experience that’s more entertaining than quality. **3/4
• Post-match, Gene gets the ex champs but Buck wants to give Col. Parker a piece of his mind. YOU LOVE SICK MAN! WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU?! YOU ALWAYS TALK ABOUT THE GRASS BEING GREENER... WELL, FROM WHERE I'M STANDING, I CAN'T SEE NO GRASS AT ALL! … ? … Parker whistles some Dixie and sends them to the back before going one-on-one with Gene. Parker isn't proud about all the lipstick he has and that he lost his boys the tag straps. But he'll tell Gene something, HE FEELS TWENTY YEARS OLD! HE'S GOT TO HAVE THAT GIRL, GENE!
• Next up Brain says that Flair is going to teach Arn a lesson later and with Hogan and his crew going against DOD in WarGames, tomorrow, the arena may be torn down to leave just rubble and a parking lot.
• Now, Gene has AA in the back. We get footage of Arn “costing” Flair against Macho at BATB and then Arn taking the losing pinfall against Vader in a handicap match. The vignette puts over how Flair has been consumed with beating Hogan and regaining the belt and that's cost him his focus and his friendship. I will just say that these 1995 vignettes are TREMENDOUS. They are like movie trailers with tons of footage and actually a story and not just footage of random beatdowns. ANYWAY, back to Arn. Whether you hate him or love him, he's always called a spade a spade; he's always loved with a passion and hated with a passion. Arn knows that every person has had a family member mess up and you've had to shake them, because words didn't matter anymore. Well, Arn's stomach has been in knots because he's a nervous wreck about having to trade fists with a man he loves more than God himself. Arn understands that Flair has been a better to him when he didn't have one, but he's got to trade fists with Flair, because when he gets up in the morning and looks in the mirror, he's gotta answer to himself. All a man can do in this world and stand up and live by his word, RIGHT OR WRONG! Trust me, Ric Flair, in the morning, Arn will respect himself and YOU WILL, TOO! Arn and Flair have sold the hell out of this match with two of the best promos imaginable.
• Arn Anderson vs. Ric Flair. There is a somber air around the match as Gene, Tony, and Brain are all melancholy about seeing two friends fall apart like this. Brain: “AND IT'S THAT PIECE OF HUMAN SEWAGE, HULK HOGAN, THAT HAS COME BETWEEN THEM!” Tony: “It is not.” Brain: “IT IS!” Tony talks about how the entire locker room wants to see this match and we get a shot of the Americans Males and Brian Pillman watching from the crowd which is a touch I've always loved. I get it that each character should care about their own match, but if a match and program is big enough, it's only natural the entire roster would want to see it, kayfabe or not. The Fed used to this the ultimate effect for the Trips/UT clash a few WM's ago.
• Flair and Arn go face-to-face at the center of the ring. Eddie Guerrero and Alex Wright are also looking on from the crowd. Tony: “All eyes of the wrestling world are on two greats.” They both taunt and feel each other out for a minute solid. Lockup and Arn sends Flair off for a shoulderblock but Arn takes him down with a drop toe hold and then taunts. WOO! Tony: “I think Arn has always known he's walked a step behind Flair.” Brain: “I think Flair is acting like a jerk.” Tony: “I think this is Arn's coming out party.” Arn now goes to the side headlock and he takes down Flair with a shoulderblock. He shoves Flair down and then wallops him with a haymaker and the fans love it. Flair powders out as the front row calls him a chicken. Back in, Flair goes to work on the arm so Arn counters to a TD and he stomps away on the arm. Flair is pissed at the disrespect and Arn shoves him down to a pop. Brain: “Something's wrong... AND IT'S HOGAN!” Flair works some chain but Arn counters to a hammerlock of his own. Flair drops down with a toe hold but Arn floats back to a hammerlock. Brain: “Arn's never been a world champion, has he? Flair's an 11-time world champ. How come he never gave Arn a shot? Tony: “That's a great point.” Flair takes over but Arn grabs an ARMBAR! Col. Parker and Big Bubba are also looking on from the crowd and Brain and Tony are just top notch on commentary during this match. Brain: “It's like their trying to teach every other a wrestling lesson. They haven't gone to the eyes, ears, or nose yet. They haven't gone full bore. You are seeing right here, tonight, mutual respect for each other.” Flair stacks him up and goes to the headlock and Arn headscissors his way free. Flair takes over with a CHOP to a POP. Flair clips the knee and NOW WE GO TO SCHOOL, CHARLOTTE STYLE!
• Flair sends him off but Arn gets the elbow up in the corner. Arn heads up top and gouges Flair's eye and drops down into the SLEEPER! Flair drives him back into the corner so Arn knees him down and hammerlock slams Flair. Flair begs off but Arn knows that game and goes back to the hammerlock. Arn works a few covers for 2 counts. Arn stays on the arm while Flair tries to chop free so Arn pulls him down by the hair. Arn stomps the arm and then drags Flair to the corner to wrap the arm around the post. Single arm DDT from Arn and he goes back to holding the arm. Brain: “I've managed both these men. I've been affiliated with them. I know what goes through their minds. I know how hard they work in that ring. I know how much they care about this great sport. And I know how much pride they have in themselves. There's going to be no one taking a back step here. But Flair hasn't been the same since Hogan came on the scene. His mind has not been focused toward his business.” YEAHHHHHH, TELL 'EM, BOBBY! ANYWAY, Flair begs off but he gets Arn into the corner for the chops. Arn fires up to come back with haymakers TO A POP! Arn sends him across for the Flair Flip. Arn moves in for the kill but Flair SUCKERS HIM IN, LOWERS THE BRIDGE, AND DUMPS HIM OUT! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Flair heads up top and wants the sledge and HITS IT OFF THE TOP TO THE FLOOR! *****! Whoops, sorry. On the floor, Flair goes to work with chops and rights but still sells the arm back in. Flair snaps him over the top rope and stomps away. Flair measures for the knee drop and Arn is laboring. Cover with the ropes gets 1, 2, only 2. Flair uses the ropes several times in classic fashion for more 2 counts. This is just classic stuff. Flair: “KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT, JERK!” Arn comes back with a knee and lefts and rights. Backdrop and Arn covers for 1, 2, 2 ½. Arn works several more covers and Flair begs off. Arn tries to lay him out but Randy Anderson pulls him off only for Flair to sucker punch him. Flair shitcans Arn out and struts and showboats a little too much.
• Flair charges in and Arn backdrops him on the floor and mounts on the GnP. Brain: “Did you hear that splat? Sounded like Sherri's lips hitting Colonel Parker's.” Arn tries a suplex but Flair blocks for one of his own on the floor. Back in, Flair with a big right hand and the hanging vertical suplex. Flair with more chops and Arn goes down for 1, 2, kickout. Flair sends him off and Arn gets the sunset flip. Flair blocks for the right hand but ARN MOVES! INTO THE TURNBUCKLE! EYE RACK FROM ARN! Flair Flip and Flair is hooked in the Tree of Woe. Arn stomps and chokes for a bit. Arn calls for the DDT but telegraphs Flair holding the ropes by a country mile and sure enough, Arn eats canvass all by his lonesome. Flair Flops anyway. Flair heads up top and Arn slams him off for a good callback. Arn drops the knee for 1, 2, no. Arn says it's over and heads up for a DOUBLE A HAMMER but Flair cuts him off for the F4! BUT WAIT! ARN BLOCKS! NO! FLAIR LOCKS IT IN! Flair torques the hold and SPITS ON ARN! YOU MOTHERFUCKER! TURN IT OVER, ARN! TURNTURNTURN! ARN TURNS IT OVER! Flair gets the ropes and Arn tries to capitalize but collapses. Flair clips the leg again but can barely walk himself. He wants it again but Arn small packages him for ONE, TWO, THREEOHNOHEALMOSTGOT'IM! Flair goes back to the knee and chops. He works the punch combo in the corner and shoves away the ref. He sends off Arn but Arn collapses and Brian Pillman has seen enough. He climbs the apron and tells Flair to come to his senses. Flair won't budge so Pillman waffles him with a kick. DDT! 1, 2, 3 and Arn takes it at 23:05.
• A borderline classic. The only issue is that both guys are better as heels but are both mostly playing faces here with occasional sprinkles of heel due to character. Flair's the closest thing to heel here but he's more like an angry face. He doesn't cheat so much as just act like a dick in going after his best friend. Arn gets most of the shine but even that is mild heel mat work and he never gets much of a comeback to put away Flair. He only gets to reverse the F4 and then DDT Flair after some interference. The psychology built into the cutoffs and counters and character moments were phenomenal. I really, REALLY liked it but it needed a stronger comeback from Arn. ****1/4
• Post-match, Arn gets a mixed reaction in going over Flair. The front row more or less boos him unconscionably. Pillman peals out and the ref helps Arn to the back.
• Next up, there's an epic promo for War Games. It starts with Sullivan getting some spooky lighting which segues into a push in for an extreme close up. Sullivan invokes the patented eerie voiceover for less than stellar results like he's haunting an old folks home which isn't entirely far from the truth. HOGAN! HOGGGGAAAN! HOOOOOOOOOOOGGGGGGGGGGGGAAAAAAAAAAAAAN! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHOHOHOHOHOHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAAHAHA! For some reason, in Sullivan's nightmarish screed, the War Games cage is electrified. THE SCALP ON HOGAN'S HEAD WILL START TO SMOKE AND BOIL! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! Sullivan then prognosticates Hogan's demise by pulling off rose petals and Caspers our way back to Tony and Brain.
• We cut to footage of Giant moving over Hogan's Harley with a monster truck.
• ANOTHER PROMO FOR WAR GAMES! Hogan even found his way to Mount Doom where Giant goozled him to death and Hogan subsequently claimed he was possessed by the spirit of Andre the Giant. No, really.
• We finally end with the most badass, spastic, over the top promo ever, surpassing even Warrior's attempt to telekinetically hijack Hogan's plane and kamikaze it into a mountain going into WM 6. There's too much here to dissect, so we'll go with the highlights.
1. Schemin' Hotline Gene compares this upcoming match to the D-Day invasion of Normandy.
2. Hogan cuts THREE distinct promos, the first of which is all about how the team drank Agent Orange in preparation for the match, the second startles Mean Gene catching him off guard, and the final one where Hogan claims they'll use Jimmy Hart as their bait to get the Taskmaster.
3. There's lots of melodramatic back-slapping and hand gestures from each guy - Hogan, Macho, Sting, Luger, and Jimmy Hart - especially when they're not talking. Macho, in particular, pantomimes his way through several promos waiting his turn to talk.
3. Macho smacks Sting on the chest for no reason and Sting responds, "YESSSS!"
4. Luger grabs Macho's hair trying to hug him and inadvertently pisses him off.
5. Sting practices uppercuts in front of Luger trying to cut a promo.
6. It contains a few classic Luger flubs: "It's the toweler... THE BELL TOLLS! ... We are as together as TODETHER CAN BE!"
7. Sting smacks Luger on the chest and they almost come to blows but Macho holds them apart.
8. Macho's in such a hurry to get to the ring that he waves everyone off before Hogan's third promo only for all 3 to run back past the camera and then do a few poses at the end.
• War Games: The Dungeon of Doom vs. The Hulkamaniacs. Since entering WCW in 94, Hogan had coasted through the main event beating Flair and Vader at every turn. At the same time, Hogan had been locked in a battle of wits and wills for the better part of eternity with Kevin Taskmaster Sullivan and his Algonquin Roundtable of goons including Meng, Shark, Kamala, and The Zodiac. This would all come to a head at Fall Brawl. In the weeks leading up, Vader would turn face and join the Hulkamaniacs, only to relent and jump ship to WWF. Instead, his replacement was Lex Luger filling out Hulk's reluctant band of brothers along with Macho and Sting. Oh yeah, if Hogan's team wins, he gets 5 minutes alone with the Taskmaster.
• Hulk and crew are all jingoistic in camo warpaint and wrapping themselves in the stars and stripes. Shark (Tenta aka Earthquake) and Sting are first to start out. Brain sees that as a misstep on the DOD's part because he would save his biggest man for last. Shark pummels Sting as he tries to step through the ropes. Shark with a few CLUBBINGBLOWS and forearms to the breadbasket. Shark with the Andre stepover spot and then bites Sting in the corner. Tony: “You can imagine what's going to happen once Hogan gets in there.” Thanks for that. Shark meanwhile whiffs on a Ho Train and Sting goes to work and wants the Stinger Splash but Shark bails to the other ring. Sting flies on top of him with a clothesline OVER the ropes. Nice. Tony, now, switches gears to wondering about where The Giant is and his monster truck, that would later get top billing at HH the following month. Tony: “INCREDIBLE MANEUVER!” Sting scoops Shark up for a slam and hits it and then sells his back nicely. He tries it again but Shark lands on top. No pins yet but Shark is too blown up and just holds the lateral press. Shark goes to the bearhug as Tony and Brain point out rightly that Sting's an idiot for going for a few scoop slams at 60 seconds in. Sting boxes the ears to escape but Shark pounds him back down. Shark tries Sting's flying clothesline from earlier but misses the mark by a smidge of 6 feet and hangs himself out to dry. Sting punts him a few times. Brain's a little worried about Shark's cardio. Brain: “He looks like he just coughed up a canoe. Who knows what this man swallows in a day?” Shark cuts off Sting's attempt at a crossbody. Brain: “He went to the dock one too many times.” Shark poses but then Sting crotches him as Brain continues with the marine biology puns. Sting tries to chop Shark down as he clips the knee. Sting rolls him over for the Deathlock as the timer's up at 5:00.
• Of course, the heels win the choice toss and it's Zodiac Beefcake. Sting uses the top of the cage for leverage to dropkick Zodiac down. Bodyslam and now Sting wants him in the Deathlock. Shark waffles him and the heels go to work. Sting has skipped to selling death without any heat from the heels as he collapses off a whip. Sullivan and Meng have climbed the cage to block the hard camera view but nothing's happening so no one cares. Marvelous. Sting comes back with a clothesline but still the numbers overcome him. The first cage violence of the match befalls Sting as the Mach is next at 7 minutes in.
• Mach shoves around everyone but Shark is trashed and can't get up for a suplex. So Mach says fuck it and starts clubbing him down instead. Macho goes to a Boston Crab and much like Sting tries a submission, falls victim to a dastardly Shark sneak attack, i. e. from the front. Meng and the braintrust get the bright idea to hold Sting down by reaching through the cage. Tony is aghast but Brain understands about war and bedfellows. Brain: “THIS IS WAR!... I wouldn't be surprised if they used flamethrowers before this is all over.” More indiscriminate brawling continues with Macho now shirtless and Shark hitting a World's Strongest Slam. The DOD now grab Macho's knee and start booting it uncontrollably while it's under the cage.
• Kamala is in at 9:00. Brain claims that Kamala is now safely back in the jungle... in the cage or something. Mach mounts in the corner on Zodiac but Shark atomic drops him to cut him off. Zodiac with a low blow on Mach while Kamala rings the dinner bell. Macho and Sting are done. Brain hypes the upcoming Flair/Pillman match on Nitro. Sting gets up on Kamala with rights but gets taken own by a Shark sleeper.
• HERE COMES LUGER at 11:00. Luger hits bionic elbows on everyone and helps Mach casually toss Zodiac into the cage. Macho with a SAVAGE HAMMER on Shark from up top. Luger tosses Zodiac into the turnbuckle while Kamala forgets how to sell a choke on the floor. Brain speculates that one of Hogan's Hulkamaniacs will turn on him. Brain: “Will they turn on him? I would.” ANYWAY, Macho tosses Shark into the cage as Luger no sells a Zodiac choke. BUT WAIT! Zodiac ducks and Luger waffles Mach from behind and that's all they need to tear apart at the seams. Oddly enough Zodiac and Macho are wearing the same black and white gear, minus the warpaint garb.
• Meng comes out plowing at 13 minutes. Meng mows them down and Mach gets tossed to the other cage. Luger sells a few Kamala rights like his contract didn't depend on it and then Meng covers by choking the life out of him and taking him down with a Cryo Kick. Shark tosses Macho into the cage again.
• Finally, it's Hogan time at 15 minutes for THE MATCH BEYOND! Hogan's got the chalk and blinds all the heels. Brain: “THE DIRTIEST, CHEAPEST, LOWEST MOVE I'VE SEEN IN ALL MY LIFE!” Tony: “So what? OH YEAH!” Hogan with several rights and noogies as Zodiac bounces between rings like a tackling dummy. Hogan works over Shark and Zodiac while Kamala asphyxiates on the mat. Sting and Meng continue their US title feud from all of 1995 over in ring 1. Kamala is up to eat a cage shot. Luger and Hogan almost come to blows but Hogan ignores intrigue for MOARBACKRAKING! Luger, on the other hand, oafs his way through a fire up. Hogan Camel Clutches Zodiac and he gives it up at 18:46.
• 20 minutes for that? So much for that dissension with the Hulkamaniacs. Boring, heatless, lethargic, and passionless. After the speed-induced rage of the promo, this had no chance to live up to any expectations, only to live down. Sting, Macho, and Meng are the only guys with much of a pulse throughout the year and even they couldn't make a dent on the lazy punches and general huffing and heaving on display. Not comically or surrealistically bad like say the Doomsday Cage from Uncensored or a Sumo Monster Truck match, just ordinary and joylessly bad. Almost zero fun to be had. *3/4 and that's probably *1/2 more than it deserves.
• Post-match, Sullivan tries to hightail it out but Dirty Doug Dellinger forces him back to the ring. Sting takes over and tackles Sullivan and slides him in the cage. Sullivan begs off as Hogan squashes him. Several cages shot later and Sullivan bails out to the floor. Hogan trashes him again and brings him back in. Hogan-line and the tape comes off. Time for some choking and the foot to the face. BUT WAIT! THE GIANT HAS COME OUT! He throws the ref down and chokes Hogan down. The Hulkamaniacs chase off Giant and Sullivan.
The 411: WCW was another season away from getting good (at least on PPV) and it shows. Pillman and Mero brought their work boots and you have a passable tag title change. Flair and Arn bring the promo goods to try and put it over the top but there's just a strange anachronistic feel to everything that taints even the watchable.