The Furious Flashbacks – WCW Superbrawl IV
Posted by Arnold Furious on 07.12.2006
Flair v Vader II and WCW dusts off the old Thundercage
The Furious Flashbacks – WCW Superbrawl IV
Flair v Vader II and WCW dusts off the old Thundercage
20th February 1994.
Interesting story behind this one. It was never released commercially, to my knowledge, and as a result is a little tricky to track down. Like say if you're reviewing as many old WCW PPV's as you can and make it up into 1994 without missing one. So to the rescue comes 3CW announcer Stevie Aaron who taped this show off DSF, a German channel, back in the day. I also used to watch WCW PPV's on DSF because despite the German commentary it was a way to check the show out for free.
We're in Albany, Georgia. Hosts are Tony Schiavone and Bobby Heenan. Ric Flair is now the head of the booking committee and Big Dust is now gone.
PROMO TIME – Michael Hayes comes out here with a sick note looking to dodge Johnny B. Badd. The Freebirds being over doesn't compensate for how old they were by this point. So Hayes is out of the match but Nick Bockwinkel uses his authority to place Jimmy Garvin in his place. So instead of one old codger we get another.
Harlem Heat v Thunder & Lightning
The Heat are still Kane and Kole but are starting to look more like the Harlem Heat I remember. On the other side of the ring is Thunder, which is Dave Nelson who is now the owner of NWA Ohio. He tried to buy TNA off Panda Energy when they were struggling a little before the TV deal. He's an ambitious chap. Lightning is Jeff Farmer who went on to niche success as the nWo Sting. Neither one of them is much good and Stevie Ray was pretty green at the time too. That doesn't bode well. I've seen worse though. That's the benefit of watching so much bad wrestling that you can tell the difference between average wrestlers and really shitty ones. This pretty much flies by without anything happening. Thunder gets picked off for a while but then hits a dropkick and Stevie gets his arm worked over. They get some double team work going and stick to the arm. I can't really fault them for that. Harlem Heat kick it up a notch by illegally throwing Thunder over the top and railing the sucker. Now there's a heat segment on Thunder, which makes sense because he just took a header into the rail and Harlem Heat used illegal stuff to get the advantage so Thunder is selling it. We get a cutaway of Flair's locker room to give us an idea of how he's preparing for the main event. That's what UFC do now so that's ahead of it's time. Meanwhile Harlem Heat use their continuity to avoid a sunset flip with a tag. Lightning hot tags and gets a bit over excited barely hitting a few moves including a dropkick. This all breaks down and you'd better believe that Harlem Heat are better at referee positioning for Lightning to get kicked in the head for the pin. *1/4. Very ‘meh'. It probably shouldn't have gone 10 minutes.
BACKSTAGE Gene Okerlund talks about how much security is knocking around to prevent Vader from kicking Flair's ass before the match.
The Equalizer v Jim Steele
Dave Sullivan v AJPW's Wolf Hawkfield then. I believe that currently Steele is wrestling under Jim Steele again. Couple of green armdrags from Steele to start. Sullivan bumps them before he's even dragged. Steele does slightly better with a dropkick. When you can't even get the basics right, just fuck off. Sullivan fucks up a few stomps before hitting a legdrop. Backbreaker gets 2. Evad has nothing left so he does to the BORE-HUG. Steele gets out by clapping and gets a crucifix for 2. Ok, bored now. Evad goes to the cheating and boots Steele in the face for 2. Take THAT Lightning! Evad throws Steele outside and won't let him back in. He shoulderblocks back in, hits a brutal dropkick and a clothesline. Some horrific Irish whip reversals follow. I mean, wow, an Irish whip. Just, urgh, so bad. Steele thankfully puts everyone out of their misery with a Thesz press at 6.30. DUD. That suck diddly ucked.
PROMO TIME – Ricky Steamboat discusses his potential title match with Ric Flair should he retain his WCW title against Vader. Steamboat says he's been negotiating with the championship committee and whoever wins tonight will face Steamboat next. Steamboat adds in some notes on how everyone is nervous backstage because of the tension ahead of tonight's big title match.
Diamond Dallas Page w/Diamond Doll v Terry Taylor
This would be Taylor's last push in a major company. He's just come back from the Red Rooster debacle. DDP meanwhile is on the show because he lives next door to Eric Bischoff. That's not quite enough to get him a push yet but it's enough to get him on the show. I'm 80% sure that the Diamond Doll is Kim Page. I don't remember him using anyone else from '94 onwards and it does look like her. Taylor walks DDP through some basic stuff including a near falls sequence, which is good stuff considering it was a year before Guerrero-Malenko made the spot popular. DDP runs himself into a lariat for 2. Taylor is controlling the pacing of the match, which is a little weird for a babyface. DDP takes over and just clubs away randomly for a few minutes. DDP does a weird looking scoop suplex for 2. I think he changed his mind in mid move. Gutwrench gutbuster from DDP and he drops an elbow for 2. Taylor puts some psychology into it by using the rope rather than kicking out. DDP's sluggish and undirected offence gets rather tiresome after five minutes. Taylor must sense it too as he tries a comeback but DDP cuts him off into a headlock. Taylor has enough of that and suplexes out of it. He follows up with a dropkick but then DDP cuts him off again. Lay off, Dallas. Taylor with a crossbody for 2 but DDP kills him with a punch. See, that I don't mind. It's still dragging though. DDP misses a big corner charge and is rolled up as a result at 11.47. *1/2. That sure was long. Page looked green as hell keeping his offence to a bare minimum. Taylor is just the guy to bump and make a match interesting but he wasn't a miracle man by any stretch of the imagination.
PROMO TIME – Ollie Muffler, from Germany. He's the German announcer who somehow managed to get invited to Superbrawl. Whether it actually got played in the USA I don't know. Okerlund uses it as an excuse to shill the European tour. Muffler quizzes Okerlund as to whether Flair can beat Vader again. Okerlund ducks the question.
Johnny B. Badd v Jim Garvin
I could have sworn Garvin was retired. He's an airline pilot now. So if you ever hear your pilot is James Williams then you're being flown by a Freebird. He even looks like a pilot at this point. Short hair and an immaculately maintained moustache. Badd works an armbar as soon as Garvin stops popping outside to chat with Michael Hayes. You can still hear Hayes talking constantly off camera. Badd refocuses on the arm by dropping a few knees. Armdrag to armbar and Badd is totally in control here. Garvin backs Badd into the ropes and gets himself a breather. He revels in the crowd heat. Badd gets right back on his arm and takes it to the mat. Hayes is still ranting away about "Badstreet". Garvin calls for time and goes out to consult with Hayes again. Back inside Badd finds a new way to get to the arm by going to the head first and then spinning out. He seems to be enjoying himself anyway. Garvin gets his feet up allowing Badd to run face first into them. This gives Garvin his first real offence of the match and he uses it to work a lengthy chinlock. Garvin calls for the DDT but Badd backdrops out of it. Badd has his groove back on and throws punches and a headscissors takes Garvin down. He calls for the "Tooti Fruiti". Garvin ducks it but stands right back up to get clocked with it. Badd heads up top and the sunset flip off there finishes off a tired Garvin at 10.45. *. There was nothing wrong with the match but it sure was boring. Badd's armbars got a little dull after a while and Garvin big attempt to control the match was a chinlock that ran over a minute. In the words of Bernard Rage; "this show has too much Freebirds".
POST MATCH Garvin whips out a Stunner of all things.
BACKSTAGE Okerlund is still on about the security backstage and how Vader wants to get at Flair. I love the "Restricted Area" sign that someone has written "Vader" on the bottom of. They have him in his own part of the building where he's warming up by throwing chairs around. He refuses an interview.
TV title – Lord Steven Regal (c) w/Sir William v Arn Anderson
You can tell Naitch is booking as Double A suddenly has a push and a PPV match. Regal's left thigh is heavily strapped. Crowd chants "USA" and its clear where their allegiances will lie during this bout. Regal stalls a lot and complains of an ear problem while the German commentators lay into the English. Bloody Germans. I can understand you! The stalling lasts some considerable time with Regal diving into the cover of the ropes at every available opportunity. Regal goes after the arm but Arn reverses and stamps on the elbow. His thigh is taped! Come on Double A! Regal is even selling it by putting on a slight limp but thus far nothing from Arn. They run a test of strength with Arn coming out on top and FINALLY Arn goes to the leg with a kick but it's merely so he can hook up the arm again. That really doesn't make sense to me but then it is the Anderson MO. He hits a hammerlock slam and it looks like his attention is to work the arm so he can use all his trademark arm stuff. Arn kicks it up a notch by dragging Regal into the corner and posting his arm. Back inside Regal throws a few forearms but hurts him in the process. Remember Regal is a southpaw and his strikes will come from the left side where Arn has been working. Regal realises this and takes it to the mat where he can utilise some basic holds instead. Arn now has two targets to strike at to get him out of those predicaments though leaving Regal at a huge disadvantage and it's only his mat skills that prevent Arn being able to hook a submission on that now badly damaged arm. Regal controls with a cravat but Arn backdrops out of it and goes back to the arm. Regal breaks away and throws forearms from the RIGHT side showing his ability to switch his strikes about to compensate for the injury. Sir William bails him out of the ring after Arn gets the arm again. Arn hangs Regal up on the ropes to get him back in. Regal manages to hook up a half crab and he uses the ropes to keep Arn down. The ref is wise to the trick though and catches him. Regal hooks up an early version of the Regal Stretch where the legs are tied up but it's the arm instead of the arm & neck. Meanwhile Sir William holds his foot in order to give additional leverage. Arn gets pissed off with all that shit and destroys Regal's gimp leg. Regal kicks him off and Sir William belts him in the neck with his cane. Worse still Arn's sweaty back is covered in Johnny B. Badd's confetti. Arn gets the leg again and cranks at it. Regal picks off Arn's leg and goes to the eyes to even everything up. There's about 5 minutes left on the time limit. Regal goes back to working at the neck. Sir William's accent is slipping somewhat. More turn of the century New England rather than England. Arn wins a strike battle for 2. It's that damn Anderson left hand. Regal reverses once again on the mat where he's looked great all night. Arn goes to a bodyscissors to defend himself. Regal wrestles out but gets slapped in the sleeper. Arn runs him into the buckles and rolls him up for 2. Arn gets an inside cradle for 2. ANDERSON SPINEBUSTER! Regal goes belly down to defend himself and Sir William distracts. Arn goes for a sunset flip back inside but Regal fights it, grabs Sir William's cane and sits down on Arn's shoulders for the pin and three count at 26.56. No idea what the time limit was but it was approaching quickly. **3/4. Some interesting stuff and the psychology was certainly there but there wasn't enough match to justify nearly half an hour.
Tag titles – The Nasty Boys (c) v Cactus Jack/Maxx Payne
Knobbs mockingly has a guitar with him. This will become important later. Missy is now gone btw after going over Bischoff's head to complain about sexual harassment when Bischoff did nothing about her complaint. That Eric, eh? Payne shows off his skills here with a NOICE German suplex on Knobbs to kick things off. Knobbs is so stunned he bails out. Saggs takes his place. He goes to kick Payne who catches him with a CAPTURE SUPLEX. Saggs bails out and the Nasties have been stunned by Maxx's technical prowess. They were probably expecting a brawl. Knobbs has another go at Maxx but runs into the Sambo suplex. Saggs in again and he's caught in a front splash. Payne sure is looking Kurt Angle style indestructible here. Jack gets a tag and cleans house in his usual style. It's hard to see where the Nasties are going to get a win from already. Their usual continuity hasn't been given an opening and the challengers are better one on one. They soon discover that Cactus is damn near impossible to hurt to boot. Knobbs even finds himself out of his element in terms of strength as well. That is until Saggs clips Payne's knee and brings him down to size. Payne's heat segment doesn't last long but it does include a missed legdrop. Who'd have thought the Nasties would have a speed advantage over anyone? Quick tag to Cactus who throws knees at Saggs and rides him on the ropes. Knobbs jumps in but Cactus sees him and charges wiping him out with the Foleyline. Knobbs exposes the concrete floor and Saggs bashes him off the apron. Foley, like the sick fuck he is, flat backs a bump off the apron onto concrete without even thinking about it. And he doesn't even stay down from that. He staggers up to his feet bleeding from the mouth. The ref gives him some leeway with getting back up, which doesn't do him any favours when he gets back in and gets beaten up some more. Jack takes a heat segment with the Nasties working over the obviously injured back. Cactus looking demented and bleeding from the mouth is a fun visual. Knobbs works a Boston Crab. Payne takes exception and comes in to drag Cactus over the ring. Saggs distracts so impartial referee Nick Patrick misses the hot tag. Cactus pops up with a double DDT, which the crowd pops huge and Cactus gets the hot tag. Payne looks seriously badass and pops off suplexes like a BAD MOFO. Knobbs lands on his neck off a German suplex and is prone for the PAYNEKILLER. Should be over but Saggs grabs the guitar they brought out and bashes Payne in the head for the DQ at 12.27. ***1/4. I really enjoyed that. Payne looked like a monster and I remember exactly why I was such a mark for the guy back in the early 90's.
BACKSTAGE Gene Okerlund nips into Ric Flair's locker room and name drops Hulk Hogan. Flair skips him and says he's focusing on Vader tonight. Ricky Steamboat is also there and Flair puts him over as well. Hogan didn't actually join WCW officially until June of 1994 but plans were in motion to bring him in as soon as 1993 came to and end and Ted Turner noticed how much money Eric Bischoff had lost.
Thundercage – Rick Rude/Steve Austin/Paul Orndorff w/Rob Parker v Sting/Dustin Rhodes/Brian Pillman
The pop for Sting is SO fucking loud. I mean like Hulk Hogan at the height of Hulkamania, Austin at his zenith, the Rock as his most popular. That kind of reaction. Totally drowns out his music. Dustin encourages the "Paula" chants not that he needs to because Sting is in the ring and the crowd are still going nuts. Rude gets knocked down with repeated clotheslines popping back up in between to make Sting look like a million bucks. It's great to see main event wrestling working perfectly. Orndorff comes in to kill Maxx Payne's finisher by using it constantly on Sting to little reaction. Austin comes in and he bumps around for Sting too before bullshitting a knee injury. Superb heel cowardice from Austin so Sting slaps him in the Scorpion Deathlock. Everyone piles in allowing Austin to get a roll up for 2. Outside and Austin gets whipped into the cage. By the way, the Thundercage is very much like the Hell in a Cell only with incredibly high walls as opposed to a roof. Pillman gets a tag and they spill outside for a brawl where Austin hurls Pillman face first into the cage. Good use of the environment. Orndorff thinks that looks like fun too and throws Pillman into the cage himself. Pillman is such a good sport bumping everything like the Grim Reaper just touched his shoulder. He's bloodied too as Rude comes in to have himself some fun. Orndorff comes in, blocks a clothesline and BACKDROP DRIVERS Pillman on his head. Either he doesn't like Pillman or Pillman just invited the heels to beat fuck out of him in this match. Rude adds in a knee off the top for 2. Austin comes in and gives Pillman a kicking helping to further open up his head wound. An early Austin elbow off the 2nd gets 2. Austin tries to come off the top again but gets caught BIG TIME by a dropkick from Pillman. Man, this is fun. Sting gets the HOT tag and cleans house on all the heels. Orndorff particularly annoys him and takes a header into the cage. Dustin comes in for the first time and wails on Orndorff. He's FUNKY LIKE THA MONKEY! Big elbow puts Dustin on top so he can wail on Orndorff some more. Dustin punches Rude when he comes in and looks for the bulldog but Rude blocks and throws him into the buckles. Then suplexes him off and now its heat on Dustin with Rude going to the BORE-HUG! Austin gets the tag and Dustin kicks him off the apron into the cage. Dustin hits a back elbow off the second rope and Pillman tags in to get a measure of revenge on Austin and dropkick the other heels off the apron. Revenge is sweet. Everyone in for another big brawl. Sting cleans most of the heels out leaving Austin and Sting throws Pillman on top of him for the win at 14.36. ***1/2. An absolute barnburner. Loaded with action. It kind of reminds me of Canadian Stampede with the hot crowd and constant action but it never quite reaches the insanity levels of that match. Plus it had 10 more minutes. If this ran 10 more minutes it was an outside shot for 1994's match of the year. Although it would have been outside thanks to Wrestlemania X.
POST MATCH Rude gives Sting the Rude Awakening on the floor. That'll learn him! Rude's feud with Sting would be his last as an active wrestler. Which is sad. He didn't really have the career he could have had.
Thundercage/WCW title – Ric Flair (c) v Vader w/Harley Race
Ray Traylor is the referee for this one because there's no referee who can keep control on Vader. Boss struggles to shut the door while Race moans at him for doing so. So Race is outside the cage. Vader charges at the bell but Flair side steps him and strikes so quickly in the corner that he's able to beat Vader down. Then it's straight to the eyes to ensure that Vader can't regroup. In a match like this he'll be able to get away with stuff like that. He promptly bashes Vader with a chair a few times. The mask comes off but it's not Vader getting upset its Vader getting flustered. Vader then busts out the Flair corner bump much to everyone's shock. He pounds Flair down and the VADERBOMB connects. That's just over 2 minutes in. No pin but Flair is in the shit now. Vader gives him the short clothesline. Vader goes up again, all the way up but the moonsault misses. Vader ALMOST lands on his feet and hits the Vader Attack to drive Flair back into the corner. Flair falls outside where Race manages to choke him on the cage and punch him through it. Flair fires back with chops and strikes but Vader shrugs him off so Flair goes to a choke and Vader shrugs him off again. The big question now is what can Flair do to stop Vader? He runs right into the Vader Attack again allowing Race to headbutt him through the cage. Vader suplexes Flair back inside and takes this to the ropes for a HUGE superplex. Flair just about has enough to roll away from a follow up elbow drop but once again Race grabs him. The Boss spies him doing it this time and goes to handcuff him to the cage. But Vader has other ideas and blindsides the official. A DQ surely? So it's Traylor and not Race who ends up cuffed to the cage and Vader uses Traylor's own night stick. Race is also in the cage now and he holds Flair so Vader can rough him up. As if he even needs that advantage. It's a pity because the match was fine without all this. Arn Anderson runs out here but there's no way into the cage. Vader accidentally knocks Race on his ass. Flair follows suit and cleans house on the two heels. Ricky Steamboat is out here too trying to break into the cage with a chair. Boss manages to break his cuffs and grabs his trusty night stick. Vader is knocked down and Flair slaps on the Figure Four for the "submission" at 11.29. In that I didn't see Vader quit and Traylor wasn't the most impartial of referees. **1/4. Overbooked when the match was great as a one on one. Hold up, Flair was in a cage match and he didn't blade?
The 411: There were a couple of decent matches with the tag title match and the six man. The main event was a bit of a letdown but in general the more consistent nature of the booking really helped. There are clean finishes all over the place, which is almost like returning to 1992 where the booking was far more simplistic and yet enjoyable.