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The SmarK Retro Repost – Fall Brawl ’97

August 15, 2002 | Posted by Scott Keith

– Live from Winston-Salem, NC

– Your hosts are Tony, Bobby, Larry and Mike.

– Opening match, Cruiserweight title: Chris Jericho v. Eddy Guerrero. No real backstory here, just Guerrero suddenly deciding to go rudo and kill everyone in his path on the way to the title. Various hair-pulling shenanigans to start. Jericho’s bouncing babyface act isn’t really effective. Some nice mat stuff both ways, with neither guy able to gain any advantage. Jericho dumps Eddy on the top rope, then hits the Lionsault for two. Eddy comes back and works on the back. Long sequence of submission moves from Eddy, including a Gory Special, which is reversed in turn by Jericho. The crowd, surprisingly, is digging the match, even with the more psychological stuff that normally elicits boos. Eddy tries to walk the ropes like Undertaker, but gets crotched and Jericho makes the comeback. He looks to powerbomb Guerrero off the apron, but instead drops him throat first on the top rope. Back in the ring and a series of reversals leads to Eddy getting a uranage. Jericho recovers with a powerslam for two. Leg lariat gets two. Eddy reverses a cradle for two, but Jericho comes back with the double powerbomb and a superplex. Eddy shirts his weight during that move, and land on top to stun Jericho, then hits the Frog Splash for the pin and the title at 16:44. Terrific match. ****1/4

– Harlem Heat v. the Steiner Brothers. The Heat say “sucka” a lot on the way to the ring. This was during their Jacquelyn phase, as WCW stuck her with them, because they’re all black. No, really, that’s the reason. This was, amazingly, YET ANOTHER #1 contender match, which made about 405 over the course of 1997 total. Stevie Ray starts out with the Big Bad Booty Daddy and actually dominates. You know, Scott actually looks SMALLER these days, which is scary. Not much going on, as Scott plays freak-in-peril for a while before getting the hot tag. Suplex-o-rama leads to a double-team German suplex, with Scott clotheslining Stevie Ray on the way up as Rick suplexes him, for the pin at 11:45. Phoned in on all counts. *1/2

– World TV Title match: Alex Wright v. Ultimo Dragon. Wright is of course Berlyn, without the haircut and trenchcoat. Dragon goes after him quickly, prompting Wright to stall. Dragon carries him through a mat sequence, then unleashes his kick combo. Wright bails out. He gets a stun gun to gain control, and proceeds to chinlock Dragon into oblivion. Uh-oh, someone’s not ready for prime time. Larry Z offers his feelings on the subject of the chinlock: “You know, I…er…I mean, some people used to [stall] like that all the time!” I wonder whom he was talking about there? Skip ahead about 10 minutes as Alex goes for the German suplex, but Dragon reverses, and Wright reverses again to a leg lariat for two. They head outside the ring, where Dragon gets the quebrada, and then back in for a rana and a dropkick to the face. He goes to the top, and Wright dropkicks him to the floor and follows with a pescado. Back in and the Dragon gets a Tiger Suplex for two. A nice sequence sees Wright put on the top rope and get powerbombed off for two. Moonsault gets two. Rana by Dragon, reversed to a sunset flip by right for two. Dragon to the top, blocked by Wright for two. Small package for two. Dragon with la majastral cradle for two. Dragon puts Wright on the top and gets a rana, then applies his finisher, the dragon sleeper. Wright fights it off, Dragon tries it again. Wright fights it off again, hits the GERMAN SUPLEX OF DOOM, and gets the pin at 18:51, which is about 5 minutes too much for these guys. I really hope Wright has found a new finisher to go with his new EEEEEEEEVIIIILLLL personality, too. ***1/2 But then when was the last time the cruiserweights got 20 minutes on a WCW show?

– The nWo interrupts a hotline shill to sneak attack Curt Hennig. Those bastards.

– Jeff Jarrett v. Dean Malenko. My roommate, who has entirely too much time on his hands, points out that Jarrett’s music here was recently recycled into “Good Old Boys” for the Rednecks. Jarrett has the puppies with him at this point in his WCW career, but chooses to send her back to the dressing room for whatever reason. Slow start, boring match. Malenko doesn’t seem particularly inspired here. Skip ahead to about the 12 minute mark, as they do a pinfall reversal sequence that gets a few two counts. Jarrett manages to clip Malenko out of nowhere and get the figure-four and the submission. Bleh. **1/4 Jarrett was supposed to get a shot at the US title, but he instead chose to bolt to the WWF when his contract expired, and he took Debra with him.

– The Faces of Fear v. Wrath & Mortis. WHO’S BETTER THAN MORTIS? Oh, never mind. And now, a poem from Larry Zbyszko: “Darwinian Man / No matter how well-behaved / Is merely a gorilla / Well shaved.” Put Larry down as a supporter for the Kansas school board, I guess. Mortis takes a pretty good beating, as does Wrath. Barbarian does a nice powerbomb on Mortis, with an assist from Meng in the form of a backdrop, and it gets two. Pump-handle slam gets two. They send Mortis to the corner, and THEY BE CLUBBERING! CLUBBERING, TONY! Sorry, just channeling Dusty there for a minute. Meng chops Mortis into oblivion, drawing a good reaction. Barbarian goes to the top, but gets knocked off and the Curious Oddities do the same neckbreaker/powerbomb combo that ended the career of Villano IV. Mortis gets a top rope fame-asser for two. The Oddities hit an eye-popping double-team assisted superplex (Mortis sits on Wrath’s shoulders and suplexes Barbarian from the top) but Barbarian still makes the hot tag. Meng kills both guys (with Mortis bumping like a pinball) but goes after James Vandenberg and gets caught from behind with the Death Penalty from Wrath for the pin at 12:22. Why, yes, Kanyon CAN carry three guys. **1/2

– The Giant v. Scott Norton. Giant was slowly becoming the Big Slow at this point. Some brawling to start, and then the one highspot of the match as Norton manages a stun gun on Giant. More beating ensues, before Giant finally shrugs him off and chokeslams him for the pin at 5:25. 1/2* Do you realize that the nWo legacy finally ended last week on Nitro when Vincent joined the Rednecks, and further that SCOTT FREAKIN’ NORTON is the very last member, ever? How can WCW execs sleep at night knowing this stuff?

– DDP & Lex Luger v. Scott Hall & Randy Savage. This match, like much of the card, is a rematch from Clash 31 in August of 1997. The one with the vulture, remember? Total crap match, with the buildup being for Hall taking out referee Mark Curtis (RIP). Mickey Jay tries to help, but gets beaten on as well. Finally, Larry Zbyszko, getting more airtime than many wrestlers in WCW at that point, charges from the announce position and takes matters into his own hands, executing his dreaded finisher…the SEVEN MINUTE STALL OF DEATH! This allows Luger to cradle Hall from behind and Zbyszko counts the (bogus) pin at 10:11. Total junk. DUD

– Wargames: Kevin Nash / Syxx / Konnan / Buff Bagwell v. Chris Benoit / Ric Flair / Steve MacMichael / Curt Hennig. This match was signed due to the infamous nWo parody skit, of course. Hennig is persona non grata following the beating earlier in the night. Bagwell starts out against Benoit and gets KILLED. Total carnage…I LOVE IT! Sorry, video game reference there. My hero misses the swandive and Bagwell takes over, however. Both guys bump all over the place. Heels win the coin toss. Konnan is next in, and Benoit gives it a go but gets DDT’d. Mongo in next, not much going on. Syxx is up and gets DESTROYED by Benoit, much to the announcer’s delight. Syxx (X-Pac) was a human pinball machine at that point, bouncing all over the place and killing his body. Hennig finally arrives, with his arm in a sling. Flair is next and it’s chops for everyone! Nash bats cleanup, laying waste to all. Curt Hennig makes the final save…and then promptly turns nWo. He pulls handcuffs out of the sling and Benoit and Mongo get cuffed to the cage, then Flair is summarily tortured for about five minutes. Finally, Hennig threatens to slam Flair’s head in the door, and Mongo submits at 19:30. So Hennig does it anyway. What a depressing ending to an otherwise good show. ***

– The Bottom Line: August/September of 97 was an interesting time in WCW, as they attempted to push longer matches and cruiserweights. For some reason it abruptly ended at Halloween Havoc, but I really appreciate the effort made for the most part. This show bombed due to the lack of star power, but it’s certainly worth a watch if you have the patience to sit though a series of 15 minute matches. Recommended show.

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