WCW Fall Brawl 96 (9/15/1996) Winston-Salem, NC
DIAMOND DALLAS PAGE vs. CHAVO GUERRERO JR.- 6.5/10
Good opener. They told a nice little story with Page slowly learning to counter Chavo’s lucha stuff. Chavo looked strong in defeat, too.
SUBMISSION MATCH: Scott Norton vs. Ice Train (w/Theodore Long)- 4.5/10
My expectations going into this match were very low, but this was a lot better than I was expecting. I wouldn’t call it good, but it was certainly competent. They used the I Quit match gimmick of the ref shoving a microphone in the guy’s face any time he was put in a submission hold, which allowed for the following hilarious commentary exchange:
Schiavone: You can’t win if you knock the guy out.
Dusty: Not unless you’re a good ventriloquist.
MEXICAN HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH: Konnan(c) (w/Jimmy Hart) vs. Juventud Guerrera- 7.5/10
Great match! Lots of high-flying from Juvi, lots of power moves from Konnan. A classic battle of power vs. speed.
CHRIS JERICHO vs. CHRIS BENOIT- 7.5/10
I got a nice ironic little chuckle out of Benoit locking Jericho in the Lion Tamer about two minutes into the match. The match was, as you would expect, great. Benoit worked over Jericho’s midsection and Jericho fought through the pain. Jericho definitely looked like a future star in this match
WCW CRUISERWEIGHT TITLE MATCH: Rey Mysterio Jr.(c) vs. Super Calo- 7.5/10
This was just like pretty much every other Rey Mysterio Jr. match from 1996… but that’s a good thing. A great fast-paced high-flying match with some completely crazy spots.
WCW WORLD TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH: Harlem Heat(c) (w/Sister Sherri & Col. Robert Parker) vs. The Nasty Boys- 6.75/10
Every time the Nasty Boys got the advantage, Sherri and/or Parker did something to distract them and give Harlem heat the advantage. Every time one of the Nasty Boys got fed up with it and went after Parker and Sherri, they would wind up getting taken down from the behind by Booker or Stevie or a shot from Parker’s cane and would get beaten down by the heels on the outside… and the crowd at it up. Classic babyface vs. heels stuff
THE GIANT vs. RANDY SAVAGE- 2/10
This had the beginnings of a good match until the nWo came out and jumped savage. They did a good job getting over the “Nick Patrick might secretly be part of the nWo” thing, but it felt like a complete and total waste of a PPV match.
MIKE TENAY INTERVIEWS TEAM WCW- Tenay wanted to know who was going to replace Sting in this match because he had seemingly defected to the nWo. Arn and Flair kind of ignored the question and just cut promos. Then Sting showed up swore to everyone that he wasn’t the one who attacked Luger on Nitro. Aside from the fact that Sting apparently waited six days to tell his teammates that it was an imposter who attacked Luger on Nitro, this was awesome.
WAR GAMES MATCH: Team WCW (Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Lex Luger, & Sting) vs. Team nWo (Hollywood Hogan, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, & Sting) (w/Ted Dibiase)- no rating. Awesome segment.
I really don’t like it when a promotion throws away a PPV main event just to set up or advance an angle, but it is okay if you do it once in a blue moon. That being said, this is now the second time that WCW has done this in just three months. Under normal circumstances I would have a major problem with this… but these are not normal circumstances. This is THE BEST SWERVE IN WRESTLING HISTORY!
Yes, there were some logical hiccups here (if they suspected Sting had turned heel, why didn’t the babyfaces find a different partner?), but this whole scenario was just awesome!
The whole Fake Sting thing was sheer brilliance in its simplicity. Heels lie. If they are willing to lie about Sting turning on WCW and joining the nWo, why wouldn’t they be willing to have an imposter Sting hang around with them just to mess with WCW’s head?
The stipulation confining the wrestlers to their locker rooms until it was their turn to enter the match was ostensibly done to protect the mystery of who the nWo’s fourth guy was (for those of people who trusted Sting, anyway), but it served perfectly to keep the real Sting backstage and preventing him from stopping the nWo’s shenanigans from being foiled until the shock had really set in on everyone. And once we saw Sting come out dressed in the nWo’s colors, and he started bating down Luger and Arn and Flair, we couldn’t help but think that First Hogan had turned on us. Now Sting. Who is going to save us? Once we had almost began to get accept to the idea of a heel Sting as part of the nWo… they pull the rug out from under us. Who is going to save us? And the answer, of course… was Sting.
When Sting is beating the crap out the nWo, there is this great triumphant sense of happiness. When nWo Sting was hitting his Stinger Splashes there was this quiet sense of disbelief from the crowd. When the real Sting came out and started hitting those Stinger Splashes, the place exploded. Meanwhile the rest of the babyfaces are just kind of standing around in shock, trying to process everything. Then they finally get it. Sting is for WCW. He was all along, and they never should have doubted them in the first place. Sting would never abandon the good fight… and then he does just that.
Just so you don’t think that this match was just stalling until the Sting thing, there were some other good spots in here. The segment of the match where Flair went all “Dirtiest Player in the Game” on the nWo was great, and the rest of the match was decent, but the real focus here was obviously the Sting thing.
THE AFTERMATH- after the match they continued to brawl and Randy Savage, #1 Contender to the World Heavyweight Title, came out to try to attack Hogan. He had Hulk on the run until The Giant came out and made the save for Hogan. The nWo proceeded to beat Savage down until Miss Elizabeth eventually came out to protect Savage with her body, so they spray-painted her instead, and Hogan then cut a promo on Savage and Elizabeth.
This wasn’t a bad segment (at least before it started to drag on WAY too long), but I think it would have been much better to do this on TV to lead up to next month’s main event. That way you both have a good segment to build up that match on TV, but the focus at the end of this show is on all of the stuff with Sting, which is what the show was built around.
Anyway, a great show from WCW. A very strong undercard followed by the best swerve in wrestling history (and one which would set up the next major angle in the company) as the main event.