Welcome to the first (of many) reviews of WCW PPVs amid the Monday Night War. I am not breaking any ground when I say that the wrestling industry was on fire at the time and WCW had seen a substantial uptick in business due to the start of WCW Monday Nitro a week or so before this PPV. The series will start here because it’s an important time in the industry and started wrestling down the path we find it currently. With that being said I rank my matches a little differently than John does with match rankings being Ugly, Bearable, Average, Good, or Classic and at the end of the PPV I will rank it as a Dud, Stud or Average PPV. So, will the first WCW PPV of the Monday Night Wars be a flop? Let’s find out.
WCW Fall Brawl
September 17th, 1995
Asheville, North Carolina
The show starts with a video package that does not age well. The voiceover talks about the matches tonight with the focus being on the War Games cage match which includes Lex Luger, who had just jumped to WCW on that inaugural Nitro show.
The crowd is in full force and we see the two ring setup that Fall Brawl was infamous for. We are live from Asheville, North Carolina and are greeted by the announce team of Tony Schiavone and Bobby “The Brain” Heenan. Tony talks about Hogan declaring war on the Dungeon of Doom which leads to tonight’s War Games. The most notable member of the Dungeon would be The Giant, who would go on to be The Big Show in WWE. Tony then sends us to the ring for the first match of the night!
Quick side note: Always a big fan of this announce team and the way WCW presented their shows. The two ring setup was different than anything else that had been going on and became a staple to set WCW apart.
“Flyin” Brian Pillman v. Johnny B. Badd
Michael Buffer is here as the ring announcer for the first match which would change as the company grew down the line. Buffer introduces both competitors as Johnny shoots some kind of gun off. The winner of the match gets a U.S title match against the champion at the time Sting. They lock up and Johnny takes the early advantage. They have a good back and forth with both men taking advantage of different waist locks and reversals. One thing right from the start is you can tell these two have a more of a high flying style and compliment each other well. Tony reiterates the War Games coming up later on in the night. Pillman has a nice takedown for a two count which he turns into a chin lock as both men are on the mat. Both men are back on their feet as Badd gets in the backslide for a quick two count. Pillman recuperates and hits Badd with a nice rollup for another quick two count. Flying head scissors on Badd and another nice roll-up. Pillman is living up to the “Flying” part in his name early in the matchup. Badd reverses and hits a nice arm drag followed by another chin lock. Pillman with the nice backbreaker to break up the Badd rest hold. He then locks in a Boston crab which he then drops out of nowhere. He then punches Badd with a closed fist which up to this point was a big no-no. Badd reverses some Pillman offense and gets a close near fall. He then works on Pillman’s leg with a drop down into a leg lock on the mat. Nice surfboard by Badd as Pillman is in pain. The two men shove each other to the mat and lock up once again. The fans are clearly in favor of Badd at this point as they continue to boo Pillman. Right hands in the corner by Badd as Pillman escapes up the aisle way. Pillman reaches for a handshake which Badd refuses and Pillman is back on the offensive. Badd back in control as he hits a nice move over the rope for a big near fall. Everyone in the arena thought that was it. Tony plugs the WCW hotline which has always been a secret favorite of mine. The two men take turns leapfrogging the other and eventually crash into each other. The fans are fully behind Badd at this point and as they raise to their feet Pillman puts him down with a headbutt. Both men are back down to the mat as the referee starts the ten count. Pillman is the first man up and drives Badd’s head into the turnbuckle. Michael Buffer announces that five minutes are remaining in the match. Badd with a nice suplex over the top rope which sends Pillman crashing to the floor. He then jumps over the top and crashes onto the floor on top of Pillman and rolls him back in the ring.
Badd jumps off the top and is dropkicked by Pillman for a two count. Badd recovers and hits Pillman with a sit-out powerbomb and Pillman kicks out at two. Buffer announces there are three minutes left as Pillman hits a tombstone on Badd and only gets a two count. Pillman signals for the tornado DDT which Badd reverses and gets another two count. Another rest hold from Badd as Buffer announces two minutes left. Russian leg sweep by Pillman into a nice submission move on the head and neck of Badd. Pillman continues the rest hold which Badd was out for two seconds before making the comeback. Badd surges and hits Pillman with the tooty fruity and Pillman just got the leg under the ropes. Badd complains to the referee as Pillman hits the flying clothesline and gets another two count. Buffer announces that time has expired but that the official has authorized a sudden death period. It makes sense since the winner gets a shot at the US title. Pillman immediately back on the offensive wasting no time getting the upper hand. Badd turns the tables and they go to the outside once again. Pillman throws Badd back in the ring and gets a dropkick coming off the top rope for his trouble. Both men are back down and Nick Patrick starts the ten count once again. Sleeper by Pillman which has Badd down but he recovers and hits a sleeper of his own. Belly to back counter from Pillman and both men are back down AGAIN. Badd then hits a beautiful sunset flip from the top and only gets a two! Badd goes for a powerbomb which is reversed by Pillman for another two count. Badd reverses a crucifix into another near fall. Badd perches Pillman on the top and hits a top rope frankensteiner which Pillman kicks out of again. Tornado DDT by Pillman which Badd kicks out of again. So many near falls in this match. Pillman climbs to the top as Badd hits the ropes and knocks him off. He then throws Pillman from the top into the steel guardrail. Badd hits a nice splash from the ring and rolls Pillman into the ring. Badd went to hit the bad mood which Pillman gets the knees up. Badd back out on the outside with Pillman leaping over the rope and landing terribly to the floor. Both men are exhausted at this point as they climb back into the ring. They do a nice spot of back and forth off the ropes and connect with a double splash into each other. Badd lands on Pillman and picks up the win at the 29:16 mark.
Winner: Johnny B. Badd
Match Rating: Good
Match Notes: What a start to the PPV. It was a good back and forth battle that hit the 20-minute time limit and then some. Both men showed their agility and high flying arsenal and with the match lasting as long as it did they pulled everything out of the hat. The length of the match would be my only gripe and I think that even if they shaved off a few minutes the match wouldn’t have suffered much. Nice way to start the show.
After the match, Johnny B. Badd celebrates in the ring as they go to replay. The fans are really into Badd at this point. For those who don’t know Badd would leave for the WWE not long after this and become “Wildman” Marc Mero.
Tony and Bobby talk about the matches coming up and hype up the grudge match between two friends in Ric Flair and Arn Anderson later on tonight.
Mene Gene is backstage interviewing Ric Flair himself. Ric talks about Arn and all the history they have shared both being a part of the 4 horsemen. Ric says that it’s fitting that they are in Asheville which is a horseman stronghold. Ric hypes up the match a little more and walks off and Mene Gene sends it back to the ring.
Cobra v. Sgt. Craig “Pitbull” Pittman
Cobra makes his entrance and awaits Pitman to make his entrance. Pittman’s music hits and he doesn’t come out. Classic line by Heenan here accusing Pitman of going “AWOL”. One of Pittman’s “privates” comes down to the ring and Cobra tells him to go get Pittman. As all of this is going on Pitman is coming down from the ceiling army style. Cobra is distracted until Pittman gets in the ring all decked out in camo paint. Pittman sneaks up behind him and puts a strap around Cobra’s throat. Pittman lays the boots to Cobra and tosses him to the outside. Cobra regained the upper hand and puts Pitman back in the ring. Pittman reverses a move and slaps the code red armbar on Cobra. The official has no choice but to waive for the bell at the 1:22 mark.
Winner: Craig Pittman
Match Rating: N/A
Match Notes: I refuse to rank a match that was just over a minute long. There wasn’t much offense and Pitman for essentially the squash victory. I am almost positive that Pitman’s entrance lasted longer than the match.
After the match, Pitbull refuses to let go of the armbar as they show replays. Yes, replays.
Backstage we see “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff questioning himself and asking is he is really Mr. Wonderful anymore. Then Gary Spivey shows up in a ridiculous looking outfit. He confronts Paul and tells him that he has been Mr. Wonderful the whole time. Paul looks in the mirror and repeats it to himself. Paul kisses his arm and stares into the mirror as we go back to the ring. What a segment let me tell you.
WCW Television Title Match
The Renegade vs. Diamond Dallas Page (w/The Diamond Doll and Max Muscle)
For those who don’t know The Renegade was a clear knock off of the Ultimate Warrior down to the face paint and running down to the ring. Renegade is the champion here and starts off the action here with a fury. DDP changes momentum and takes the offensive and is all over Renegade. DDP goes to the outside and is followed out and headbutted by renegade. Back into the ring, they go and trade back and forth blows. Renegade gets a headlock in and grinds it in. He finally drops DDP who is in a world of hurt and covers him for a two count. DDP makes a comeback and works over Renegade with the ring ropes. DDP hits a spinning neck breaker and tells the Diamond Doll to give him a 10. DDP remains on the offensive and continues working over Renegade and throws him to the outside. Renegade pops right back up and hits a nice sunset flip for a two count. Both men cover back and forth for a pair of two counts. DDP has a nice shoulder block in the corner and we are informed by the announcers this is the longest Renegade has been in a match. Renegade “hulks” up again and changes momentum back in his favor. He hits DDP with a nice clothesline that has him wobbled. DDP struggles to his feet and gets squashed in the corner for his troubles. Double ax handle off the top by Renegade only goes for a two count. DDP reverses an arm drag into a beautiful DDT which results in a two count. Renegade throws him into the corner and rolls him up for a two count. Renegade hits the power slam and dives off the top to the outside into the arms of Max Muscle who showed up to assist Page. Renegade gets back in the ring only to feel the Diamond Cutter and DDP gets the pin and wins the title! Match went 8:07.
Winner and New WCW Television Champion: Diamond Dallas Page
Match Rating: Average
Match Notes: Good back and forth match with DDP being the bright spot of most of it. I just can’t get over the obvious Warrior ripoff the Renegade was and his in-ring work here was just alright. I almost downgraded it to Bearable but I think DDP deserves at least an average based on how good of a worker he was.
DDP celebrates the victory outside with the title as the Diamond Doll looks on disgusted.
WCW Tag Team Title Match
Bunkhouse Buck and “Dirty” Dick Slater (w/Col. Robert Parker) vs. Harlem Heat (w/Queen Sherri)
Harlem Heat is out with Queen (Sensational) Sherri with Slater and Buck out with Col. Robert Parker. Booker T gets the start for Harlem Heat as Slater and Booker trade blows with Booker coming out on top. Nice double team moves by Harlem Heat working over Slater. Harlem Head making quick tags in and out. Buck and Slater start working Booker over to the corner and start working over Booker and isolating him from his corner. Booker makes a comeback and Buck finds himself in the Harlem Heat corner once again. Nice double team moves and tagging in and out by Harlem Heat. Both men working over with chin locks and rest holds. Booker T gets whipped into the ropes, reverses and leapfrogs over Buck. Great agility there. Buck somehow moves over to his corner and gets a tag to Slater who Booker then pummels almost instantly. Slater regained the offensive for what felt like 5 seconds before Booker gets right back on him. Tag to Stevie Ray who continues the assault on Slater. Harlem Heat showing great tag teamwork here making tags and not letting Slater catch his breath. Quick tags by both teams before Buck and Slater regain the advantage. They continue working over Booker with double team moves and keeping him isolated from his corner. Slater hits a nice Russian Legsweep for a near fall. He then hits the PILEDRIVER for a two count. We don’t see that move much anymore. Buck is wearing down Booker with a chin lock and just as Booker started to make a comeback Buck stays one step ahead. Booker hits the turnbuckle hard and lands on his head. Slater is quick to get the cover and a two count. Buck and Slater start using the double team moves again whipping Booker into the ropes and hitting a double clothesline. Buck then keeps the pressure on by slapping on a chin lock in the middle of the ring. Booker teases a comeback and is cut off by Buck once again and slammed down. Buck and Slater continue the tag tam assault working over Bookers leg and taking turns laying the boots to him. Booker finally gets on the offensive and gets the hot tag to Stevie Ray. Stevie is a house of fire and clears the ring of both men. Powerslam on Buck for a quick two count which was broken up by Slater. In the other ring, Parker and Sherri are taking the attention off the match by going after each other leading to the two kissing each other. Just as that is happening The Nasty Boys come down to the ring and hit Buck with his boot knocking him out. Stevie Ray covers Buck for the three count and Harlem Heat wins the tag team titles at 16:49.
Winners and New WCW Tag Team Champions: Harlem Heat
Match Rating: Bearable
Match Notes: The match as a whole wasn’t bad. I just wrote a column on my love for tag team wrestling and this was an example of how a tag team match is put together. Harlem Heat were always great workers in the ring and shined as a team. My biggest complaint on the match was that Buck and Slater didn’t show much as far as in-ring work here. They worked well as a team but overall their offense in the match was kind of bland. Stevie Ray getting the hot tag was a good sequence and used his size to his advantage. I also think the match suffered from being a touch too long and like the first match on the show could have done the same job with a little bit taken off.
After the match, Parker and Sherri continue kissing and celebrating. Parker is celebrating and his team lost the titles. Both teams go over and confront Parker and Sherri. Mean Gene meets Buck and Parker in the aisle way. Buck is giving the once over to Parker for kissing the enemy. Parker bites back and tells them he is the heart of the team and promises to get the belts back for them.
Back to Tony and Bobby who are promoting Halloween Havoc 1995 (which will be my next review) and go over the hype for Arn Anderson v. Ric Flair and the War Games match coming up.
Mean Gene is backstage with Arn Anderson who plays a video clip of his past with Flair. Arn talks about being a straight shooter and tonight will be no different. Family or no family he is going to teach Flair a lesson and as much as it pains him he is going to trade fists with someone he loves. Arn gives his word about getting respect from Flair.
Arn Anderson v. Ric Flair
Arns out first with that classic horsemen music. Flair comes out and the two men share a stare down from across the ring. Various wrestlers are spread out throughout ringside to watch the match. Flair taunts Arn a little bit before the two men lock up in the middle of the ring. Arn gets the upper hand and starts to taunt Flair a little himself. Test of Strength from both men and they lock up again with Arn getting a headlock in. The two shove each other down to the mat as Flair rolls to the outside. The fans are on fire for this match and it just started. Flair back in the ring and the two men circle each other before they trade moves back and forth. Arn stomps down on Flair’s arm and hits him with some stiff chops. The two get back to their feet and circle the ring and lock up once again. Arn with a hammerlock with Flair reversing and getting back on the offensive. They show the wrestlers at ringside again as Arn is taking control back in the ring working over Flair’s arm. Flair reverses an armbar and as both men get up Flair strikes with a chop followed by a chop block. Flair with another chop and knocks Arn down to the mat. Arn goes to the top rope as Flair meets him there. Arn slaps on a sleeper which doesn’t last long and then hits a hammerlock slam. Arn continues working over the arm of Flair and gets multiple two counts. Flair gets back to his feet and hits Arn with multiple chops. Arn quickly snuffs that out and goes back to working on the arm. Arn wraps his arm around the steel post a couple of times and Flair is in pain. Back in the ring and Arn puts an arm lock on Flair. Flair is back to his feet and reverses Arn and hits him with some chops. Arn whips Flair into the turnbuckle and he hits it like only Flair can. He baits Arn into attacking him on the apron but Flair is there to pull the rope down. Flair continues to pound on Arn outside the ring with rights and chops. Flair gets back in the ring and starts showboating a little bit more. Arn is back in the ring and Flair is laying the boots to him as the referee counts to five. Flair hits another chop that makes Arn hit the mat hard. Flair with a flying knee drop that was a staple of his matches. Flair covers with his feet on the ropes for a couple of near falls. Arn reverses Flair in the corner and starts working him over with rights and lefts. He whips Flair into the corner and hits a back body drop. Flair is begging for Arn to stop and hits a cheap shot move behind the referees back. Flair continues to hit Arn and tosses him outside the ring. Flair goes outside and starts yelling at fans which gave Arn a chance to recover and hit Flair with a back body drop. Arn tries to hit a suplex on the outside which is reversed. Arn is slow to get up but eventually gets back in the ring and is hit by Flair almost instantly. Delayed suplex by Flair and both men are down in the center of the ring. Another chop by Flair and Arn is back on the mat for a quick two count.
Arn hits a sunset flip that Flair attempts to block but ends up punching the mat. Arn throws Flair into the corner and Flair is caught in the tree of woe position. Arn works Flair over with some boots and chokes until Flair finally falls. Arn goes for a DDT but Flair hangs on the ropes and reverses it. Flair is the first one back up and goes up top and surprise, surprise Arn catches him and tosses him into the ring for a two count. Flair recovers and slaps the figure four on Arn as the fans are really into the match at this point. They trade spitting at each other and Arn reverses the hold. Both men battle out and Flair is the first one to his feet and hits a chop block. Flair attempts the figure four again which Arn reverses into a rollup for a good near fall. Flair has Arn back in the corner and hitting him with classic Flair offense once again. Brian Pillman is up on the apron and hits Flair. Flair returns the favor and knocks Pillman off the apron. Pillman gets back up and kicks Flair in the back of the head which leads to an Arn DDT and the win at 22:37.
Winner: Arn Anderson
Match Rating: Average
Match Notes: I mean how can you not give these two at least an average rating? The match has good pacing with a lot of rest holds. Flair and Arn both hit all of their trademark spots although I was a little bummed AA didn’t hit the spinebuster. Pillman interfering, in the end, was a little bit of a letdown because these two should have just done a clean finish. I understand it’s for an angle but I just wasn’t a fan of it. The length of the match was just about right and it didn’t drag much. As it shouldn’t when you have two wrestlers at this caliber in the match.
Post-match they show replays of the Arn victory and they start to lower the cages for war games.
A package is shown for the War Games match. One thing I can say is that these video packages are not very good. The story behind the match is that Kevin Sullivan has tasked the Dungeon of Doom to destroy Hulkamania. Hulk Hogan put a team together to take on the Dungeon inside the War Games match. Another package is shown to hype up the match where Hogan refers to the Giant as “Andre’s son”. I forgot that they did that for a short time. Vader was supposed to be in the match but is replaced by Luger.
Backstage Hulks team is all decked out in the war paint with old glory in tow. Typical over the top babyface promo making war references and they are all ready to go. Also, Hogan using DTA here for don’t trust anyone way before Austin adopted it.
Team Hulkamaniacs (Hulk Hogan, Sting, Macho Man, Lex Luger) v. The Dungeon of Doom (Kamala, The Shark, Meng, The Zodiac)
Micheal Buffer out again for the introductions. The stipulation is if Hogans team wins he gets five minutes alone in the cage with Kevin Sullivan. Mean Gene goes over the rules and the coin flip stipulations. For those who don’t know its kind of like the Royal Rumble with two guys starting and one guy coming in at two-minute intervals. Whoever wins the coin toss gets the advantage of having a 2 on 1 match for two minutes. The match can only end in submission or surrender. The Dungeon of Doom is the first team out and can I just say this has to be the funniest group of gimmicks in one place that I can remember seeing in a long time. Sting is the first in for team Hogan and Shark is the first one for the Dungeon. Shark starts pounding on Sting right away. He works Sting into the corner and steps on top of him. Buffer said Shark weighs “506 lbs” so that’s what they were going for here. Sting makes a comeback and takes Shark down to the mat. Sting stays on the offensive and even picks the big man up for a scoop slam. Shark recovers and hits Sting with a big splash. Shark locks in the bearhug as Sting tries to grab the top of the cage to escape. For the first time tonight they utilize the other ring in an actual match. Shark attempts to jump across both rings and falls short and lands on the ropes. Sting attacks but is eventually caught in mid-air and slammed down once again. Thirty seconds remaining as Sting gets Shark to the mat for the first time in the match. Sting locks in the scorpion deathlock as time expires and The Zodiac is 2nd in. Sting is on the offensive but is quickly double teamed and knocked down to the mat. Both men work Sting over and both hit big power moves and splashes. Double clothesline as The Hulkamaniacs looks on anxiously waiting to get in. Sting mounts a little bit of a comeback right before the next entrant who is The Macho Man. He comes in and starts pounding on both men and cleaning house. He puts The Zodiac in a Boston crab as the Shark lays into him. The Dungeon is pulling on Sting’s arm from the outside as they double team Macho. Both Sting and Macho are knocked down with Zodiac and Shark taking full advantage. Time is up and the next one is Kamala. Shark is holding Sting as Kamala beats on him a little bit. The Dungeon is back on the 3 on 2 advantage and they really work over Macho and Sting. One minute remaining as the Dungeon remains in full control. Time runs down as Sting and Macho starts to fight back. Time is up and the next one is Lex Luger. Luger starts cleaning house in both rings. He runs into The Shark and Kamala with a clothesline that knocks both men down. He throws Zodiac into the side of the cage as Macho comes off the top with a double ax handle. One minute remaining with Meng and Hogan the only two not in the match yet. The Zodiac and Luger exchange blows with Luger coming out on top. Luger hits Macho by accident and they start fighting each other as time runs out and Meng enters the match. The Dungeon has full momentum by now really working the 4 on 3 advantage. Meng is choking everyone in sight as the fans are cheering for Hogan at a fever pitch. Thirty seconds remain and the Dungeon continues beating on Hogans squad. Time is up and the last man in the match, being Hogan, is in. He has a powder that he promptly hits everyone in the eyes with. He is between both rings not surprisingly getting the best of everyone in the match. The Hulkamaniacs regain the advantage being led by Hogan smashing The Zodiac into the corner. Hogan has some classic offense here and the fans are eating it up. Team Hogan starts working together again and throwing every man into the side of the cage. Meng is now in the ring with all four mean taking turns pounding on him. Both teams are moving between rings with Hogans team keeping the advantage. Hogan puts the Zodiac in a camel clutch to which The Zodiac gives up and gives Hogans team picks up the win at 18:47.
Winners: Team Hulkamanics
Match Rating: Average
Match Notes: There is a lot to unpack here. Was it a good match? Not really. It was built more as an angle for Hogan and Sullivan with The Giant getting involved. A lot of the action in the ring was slow-paced and nothing really exciting took place. The fans were super into Hogans team though which made the match a little bit better. The Giant would face Hogan down the line for the World Title so it makes sense to start the build for it here. Everything else was fine with Sting, Macho and Lex all getting their classic spots in. The one thing I can say from this match though is that it is a perfect example of how much wrestling has changed and how we all consume a wrestling product.
After the match, Sullivan is running up the rampway and doesn’t want any part of Hogan. With Hogan’s team winning he has to spend five minutes in the cage with Hogan, alone. Doug Dillinger meets Sullivan at the entrance and is making him go back to the ring and get in the cage. Sting is out and throws Sullivan into the cage and gets everyone else out. Hogan goes to town on Sullivan and throws him across the ring into the cage. The rest of the Dungeon all leave and Sullivan is all by his lonesome. They are outside as Hogan continues the assault and drives Sullivans head into the sides of the structure. Back in the ring, Hogan untaped his fists and chokes Sullivan with it. The Giant makes his way down to the ring and tosses the referee to the floor. The Giant jumps over the ropes with great agility and he goes and grabs Hogan. Hogan hits The Giant but he isn’t fazed and grabs a chokehold on Hogan. He keeps it locked in and twists Hogan head as he hits the mat. Hogans team is out to help as The Giant and Sullivan escape from the other side of the cage. Hogan’s team is by his side as Buffer calls for paramedics and as they get to the ring we fade to black with Hogan motionless with his team surrounding him.
Show Verdict: Average (5/10)
This was an average to below-average outing. As you notice there were a lot of matches on the show that were just alright. I think what hurt some of them was just how long they were. In a lot of these, you could have cut time off and still been able to achieve what they did. I thought the opening match with Pillman and Johnny B. Badd was a solid opener and the War Games did its job telling the story. The fans were super into the matches all night though that shouldn’t be surprising being in a WCW stronghold like North Carolina. Some spots in the middle of the matches were BRUTALLY slow and could have used a jolt of energy. Overall though the show just an average run of the mill WCW show.
That’s it for this review, but I hope you will continue with me down this path of WCW in the mid to late 1990s. Next up will be WCW Halloween Havoc 1995 headlined by Hogan v. The Giant for the WCW Heavyweight Title. What did you think of this PPV? Love it? Hate it? Never seen it? As always keep the conversation going over @collectiveheel on twitter. Support the site and each other and I’ll be back soon with some more Collective Thoughts.