WCW Fall Brawl 1995: War Games (9/17/1995)- Asheville, NC
The only two matches that got hyped up in the opening video package were Flair vs. Arn, and The Dungeon of Doom vs. Hulk Hogan & the Hulkamaniacs. These two things just came off as so different that the only possible way to put this was that one seemed like a legitimate sporting competition while the other seemed like a cartoon.
They did not give those of us new viewers who might be ordering our first WCW PPV after having seen WCW for the first time on Nitro over the last two weeks ANY explanation of why there were TWO rings instead of one.
WCW UNITED STATES HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP CHALLENGER ELIMINATION MATCH: Johnny B. Badd vs. “Flyin’” Brian Pillman- 8.5/10
I’m not trying to be funny. I swear to G-d that this is what Michael Buffer called it, and I don’t think this was a Buffer screw-up, either, as he was reading the card the entire time, so someone had to have written something this long. He also explained to us that “the winner of this match will be the mandatory opponent for the WCW US Heavyweight Champion,” which was nice because I thought that it wasn’t mandatory for the champion to actually defend the belt against the challenger, and he could just go on holding the belt and not defending it for as long as he wanted.
One fan brought a sign asking Johnny B. Badd to marry her. I guess she hasn’t seen Sable. Well… either that or she has actually met Sable. ZING!
They had a back-and-forth match, but as things wore on, Pillman started resorting to some dirty tactics like hair-pulling and striking with a closed fist. Because of this, Mero no longer wanted to be his friend. Why can’t we have simple booking like this nowadays?
The match was great, with Pillman working over Johnny’s head while Johnny worked over Pillman’s back. Towards the end of the twenty-minute time limit, they exchanged finishers, with Badd kicking out of Pillman’s “Air Pillman” while Pillman got his foot on the ropes before three after he took Johnny’s finisher, which was called (I swear to G-d I am not making this up) the “Tooty Fruity.”
They wound up doing to the time limit, but Michael Buffer informed us that the WCW Board of Directors must have a winner, so we are going to “sudden death overtime.” Was the first twenty minutes not sudden death?
Once we got to overtime, they took it to another level. I was stunned by all of the stuff they kicked out of. This was still 1995! I was expecting half of these moves to be the finish. They also did a good job of refocusing the story on their desire to win, leaving their friendship all but forgotten (though that’s likely Pillman’s fault for his actions earlier on). They didn’t do anything illegal, but they were very intense, showed a lot of “never say die” attitude, and were very willing to risk their own bodies to hurt the other guy (I thought the two dive spots got that over perfectly, especially Pillman’s), even when it might have been a better strategic move to stay in the ring. An AWESOME opener.
At one point during this match, Schiavone finally explained why there was a second ring there. Unfortunately, by this point, my mind had begun to wander and came up with entirely new questions about this ring that I needed answered:
1. Do pinfalls count in the other ring?
2. Can you get counted out if you are in the other ring?
3. If we are brawling on the outside and you lock me in a sleeper hold, but I grab the ropes of the other ring, do you have to break the hold?
4. Can I make a legal tag if I am holding the tag rope attached to a corner of the other ring?
GENE OKERLUND INTERVIEWS RIC FLAIR- decent promo by Flair
COBRA vs. SGT. CRAIG PITTMAN- DUD!... but a hilarious one.
The announcers did not explain anything about his feud, so I did some research. Apparently Pittman is the heel. He is a former Marine sergeant who abandoned Cobra, one of his men, in the desert during the Gulf War, the reported him as being AWOL so Cobra was dishonorably discharged. Then, one day, Cobra saw Pittman on WCW TV, so he decided that he would learn to be a pro wrestler so he could get his revenge on Pittman for ruining his life. Sure. Let’s go with that.
First Cobra (Jeff Farmer) entered, but when it was time for Pittman’s entrance, another Marine showed up instead. We were told that this was a solider under Pittman’s command. While this soldier distracted Cobra, Pittman snuck into the ring to attack his opponent from behind… and when I say he snuck up on Cobra, I mean he really tried to sneak up on him.
First Pittman rappelled down from the rafters to the arena floor. Then he crawled into the second ring, and did a commando crawl under the bottom ropes, across to the first ring, and then under those bottom ropes as well. This was completely wacky, but made a fantastic amount of sense. I loved it. It felt like I was watching CHIKARA with a bigger budget (there was also a certain amount of meta-humor in watching someone rappel down from the rafters to sneak up the man who would go on to minor fame almost exactly one year later as the Fake Sting).
So Pittman sneaks up behind Cobra and then starts to f*cking GARROTE him. The ref makes him stop, but then orders for the bell to be rung to start the match. Pittman kicked Cobra’s ass in less than a minute, getting the submission victory with a cross armbreaker.
PAUL ORNDORFF SEGMENT- F*CKING HILARIOUS… but probably wasn’t intended to be.
They showed us security camera footage from Orndorff’s locker room after a recent loss to Randy Savage. Orndorff was throwing his robe and slamming his shoes, and grabbing various mirrors and angrily shaking them, all while dejectedly and angrily shouting “WHO IS THIS?!” and “THIS AIN’T ME!” in a manner that… well… the best approximation I can give you would be to have you imagine Mojo Rawley doing this, trying to convey these same emotions, but still staying in his “I stay hyped” character.
We then switched to a normal camera right next to Orndorff, watching him lace up his boots, and lamenting that “I just don’t know, man.” Then there was a knock on the door (and they felt the need to cut to another camera to show us the door).
The door opened, and in walked the most ridiculously dressed man I have ever seen. He was wearing white jeans, a chest exposing white shirt made out of the same material they use to make shaggy carpets, which was also blindingly white… and he had a silver afro. Orndorff immediately knew who this man was: “GARY SPIVEY?!” he exclaimed in surprise. I guess he’s “Dangerous” Dan Spivey’s brother or something.
Orndorff apparently sensed my confusion, and provided a bit more exposition, so he asked “Gary Spivey? Of the Psychic Companions Network? What are you doin’ here?” Spivey says he got a vision that Orndorff wasn’t doing well. Orndorff laments that he used to be “the highest rated wrestler in the whole world” and that he “used to have so many belts that I couldn’t carry them all.” Spivey says that he knows these things. He tells Orndorff “you’re Mr. Wonderful, but you’re not feeling so wonderful.”
The short of it is that Spivey tells Orndorff that his troubles will pass, but he just has to see himself as Mr. Wonderful again. This was utterly ridiculous and hilarious. The announcers then told us that we were now only supposed to refer to him as “Mr. Wonderful” and no longer as “Paul Orndorff.”
WCW TV TITLE MATCH: The Renegade(c) (w/Jimmy Hart) vs. Diamond Dallas Page (w/the Diamond Doll & Maxx Muscle)- 4/10
An okay match with some hokey selling at times. Good finish, though. For some reason, the Diamond Doll was not happy when her man won.
WCW WORLD TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH: Dick Slater & Bunkhouse Buck(c) (w/Col. Robert Parker) vs. Harlem Heat (w/Sister Sherri)- DUD!
Almost seventeen minutes of boredom, and with a dumb finish. This was pretty much all rest-holds and kick-and-punch stuff, aside from a couple of cool moves from Booker T. Booker was the babyface in peril and sold well, but even that couldn’t save this from being a dud. The finish saw Parker and Sherri, who were a kayfabe couple at the time, start to make out in the second ring. This distracted the referee and the wrestlers. It also allowed the Nasty Boys to sneak in and knock Slater out by hitting him with one of his own boots. Booker T then and made the pin.
After the match, Buck got angry at the Colonel and Harlem Heat got angry at Sherri. If Booker wanted to win cleanly, why did he make the cover? Sherri says this was all part of her plan to get them the titles back.
GENE OKERLUND INTERVIEWS BUNKHOUSE BUCK & THE COLONEL- Buck cut a good promo on Colonel Parker. The Colonel told them that he was serious about his relationship with Sherri. The Colonel ordered Buck to go to the back, and assured him that he would get them another title match. Parker then actually cut a great promo explaining his feelings.
MEAN GENE INTERVIEWS ARN ANDERSON- AWESOME promo by Arn.
RIC FLAIR vs. ARN ANDERSON- 7/10
They really put over just how COOL the idea of Flair and Arn wrestling each other was by having a lot of the wrestlers grab seats in the stands to watch. Arn worked over Flair’s arm, Flair worked over Arn’s knee. Brian Pillman interfered, helping Arn win, though Arn didn’t know about it.
WAR GAMES VIDEO PACKAGE & TASKMASTER PROMO- complete and total cartoony bullsh*t, with obnoxious video effects, too. The only cool part was Taskmaster asking “Hogan do you know what’s going to happen to you?” and then smashing a Hulk Hogan action figure with a shovel.
After that, Taskmaster answered his own question by telling Hulk “you’re gonna get buried,” which is normally a scary thing for a wrestler to hear the booker say, but not if you’ve got creative control like Hulk Hogan.
WAR GAMES VIDEO PACKAGE #2- This one was much better. While the other one was just lame, this one fully embraced the cartoonish nature of the angle. It felt like I was watching a recap of the last episode of an early 90’s children’s action show (think Power Rangers). It does its job of explaining the background of the match, but you absolutely cannot watch it without laughing your ass off.
MEAN GENE INTERVIEWS THE HULKAMANIACS- just… wow…
They’re all dressed up in camo, with camo facepaint on and camo paint on their arms, all wearing shirts in military green with the War Games logo on the front. Hogan’s got a camo bandana on, Savage has an American flag-pattered banana, while Jimmy Hart is holding an actual American flag. Hogan informs us that he and his team just drank “a couple gallons of Agent Orange”… and thus they are currently impervious to pain. I don’t know about being impervious to pain, but think Savage definitely drank something, but he was acting like f*cking Blue Meanie.
Savage and Luger both cut promos saying that they were unified, Sting said he was ready to fight, and Jimmy Hart told about how American they all were.
Then Sting, Luger, and Savage being to run around like hyper five year olds while Hogan cut a promo. Hogan then said that he couldn’t wait to get five minutes alone in the ring with The Taskmaster, then declared his intention to use Savage as “bait” in this match.
WAR GAMES MATCH: The Dungeon of Doom (Kamala, Zodiac, Shark, Meng the Face of Terror) (w/the Taskmaster) vs. The Hulkamaniacs (Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Sting, & Lex Luger)- 5.25/10
- If the babyfaces win, Hogan will get five minutes alone in the ring with the Taskmaster.
Hogan was introduced as “the King of Hulkamania.” Really.
Sting bit the Shark. That made me laugh. The cage was so effective that the heels were able to pull Randy Savage almost halfway out of the ring between the cage and apron.
Most of the match was standard War Games fare. Babyfaces win when things are fair, heels win when they aren’t. It was competent, but it wasn’t… you know… good or anything like that. Then, towards the end, Luger accidentally hit Savage in the back of the head and they stated to brawl, but Sting had to break it up.
To make things worse for the babyfaces, Meng came in right after this and mowed them down. Hogan was, of course, the last man in, and was, of course, the big hero. Kind of. Rather than just fight them like he normally would, he decided to take advantage of the No DQ’s rules by throwing powder in all of the heels’ faces. This was kind of weird as it was, and was made worse by the fact that the heels hadn’t used any weapons or dirty of their own at all (aside from the aforementioned attempt to yank Savage out of the cage. Hogan made Zodiac submit to an atrocious-looking camel clutch.
HOGAN GETS TO BEAT UP THE TASKMASTER- decent.
Hogan tossed Taskmaster around for a while. It was got boring very quickly. The Giant came out and got into the cage (they left the door open… which makes the cage kind of pointless doesn’t it?), no-sold Hogan’s punch, choked the life out of him, and twisted his neck. The Hulkamaniacs came back out to check on Hogan, while the PA system called for paramedics to come check on Hogan.
A decent show from WCW. The Arn vs. Flair match and the surprisingly fantastic opener saved it from being total crap. You hear that, everyone? The quality of Marc Mero’s match saved the show.
STUPID ANNOUNCER QUOTES:
1. As Pillman was walking to the ring for his match, Tony Schiavone told us that “this is one of the most important matches of this young man’s life.” Pillman was almost thirty three (he would later also emphasize how young Johnny B. Bad was: Johnny was thirty-five). To make things even worse, this was just a #1 contendership match, and yet it was somehow more important than the large number of actual title matches Pillman had had in his WCW career (which was even pointed out to us during Pillman’s official introduction).