Written By: Matt Peddycord
WCW Superbrawl I: Return from the Rising Sun
May 19, 1991
St. Petersburg, FL
The current WCW Champs were as follows:
World Champion: Ric Flair (1/11/1991)
U.S. Champion: Lex Luger (12/16/1990)
World Television Champion: Arn Anderson (1/14/1991)
World Tag Team Champions: Rick & Scott Steiner (2/20/1991)
U.S. Tag Team Champions: Vacant (2/20/1991)
World Six-Man Tag Team Champions: Tommy Rich, Ricky Morton & Junkyard Dog (2/17/1991)
Before we get started, my Turner Home Entertainment tape has thrown out five matches from this twelve match card.
* Danny Spivey pinned Ricky Morton (3:11) after a powerbomb.
* Nikita Koloff pinned Tommy Rich (4:07) with the Russian sickle.
* Dustin Rhodes pinned Terrance Taylor (8:05) after some interference from Mr. Hughes backfired.
* Big Josh pinned Black Bart (3:46) after a seated senton.
* Oz pinned Tim Parker (0:26) with a helicopter slam.
Credit goes to ProWrestlingHistory.com
Your hosts are JR & Dusty! This would be Dusty’s last PPV as a color man until Starrcade ’95, which is a good break for all of us.
The Freebirds (w/Big Daddy Dink, DDP & some random chick) vs. The Young Pistols – Vacant WCW U.S. Tag Team Titles
Yes, that’s Diamond Dallas Page. He’s managing the Freebirds at this point and desperately trying to get over the phrase “good gawd”. He doesn’t even stay for the match before he leaves Dink all to himself. Big Daddy Dink is in case you’re unaware, Oliver Humperdink dressed up all in leather. Formerly known as the Wild-Eyed Southern Boys, the Young Pistols (Steve Armstrong & Tracy Smothers) are being billed from Wyoming to give them as much a non-partisan feel as WCW possibly can, I’m assuming. I mean really, who’s from Wyoming besides Dick Cheney and Dick Cheney’s gay lesbian daughter? Anywho, as the US tag champs, the Steiner Brothers had to give up the belts because they had defeated the Freebirds (technically before they actually won them, but we won’t get into the negative title reign issue) for the WCW World tag titles. Since we have vacant titles and not enough tag teams to make a legit tournament for these second-tier titles, WCW picked the former World tag champs and a team that could use the face time in the Young Pistols. Armstrong tries to take advantage of the Michael Hayes prancing with a quick rollup for two. Hayes chops back and dumps Armstrong out for some cheating, but all that backfires. Back in, Dink trips up Armstrong to gives Hayes the advantage. We see Brad Armstrong come out to even the odds, which the ref won’t allow, so he sends both Brad and Humperdink to the back. Smothers and Garvin both tag. Smothers gets stuck in the Freebirds corner, but escapes and tries to set them up for a top-rope move from Armstrong. They see it coming, but they don’t see Smothers charging at them. Hayes gets knocked out to the floor while Garvin gets caught by Armstrong. Freebirds regroup, but its not too long before the Young Pistols nail Garvin with STEREO JUMPING SHOULDERBLOCKS for two. Hayes tags in and tries to get the crowd into it, but they hate him. Smothers grabs a headlock, but Garvin pulls the top rope down as Smothers comes off the ropes to crash and burn on the floor. The ‘Birds just hotshot Smothers on the railing for crying out loud. Smothers crawls back onto the apron, but Garvin kicks him off for the back-first bump to the railing. Hayes sneaks in a left jab and the crowd starts to turn in the Freebirds favor. Back in, Garvin goes to a neck vice. Smothers elbows out, but Garvin catches him with running knees. Smothers attempts to come back once Hayes tags in with some ten-count corner punches. Hayes tries to counter with an inverted atomic drop, but it misses. The left hook from Hayes does not. Garvin tags, but eats a superkick soon after to set up the HOT TAG TO ARMSTRONG! After Steve goes SLAM CRAZY, the Pistols go for it all with STEREO DROPKICKS, but the Freebirds avoid them both! They dump the Pistols and pose for some reason instead of following up. I don’t know why I’m surprised because it’s the Freebirds, but it doesn’t seem to make much sense. Smothers sneaks in and catches them both with a flying clothesline before taking them both out to the floor for a flying crossbody from Armstrong! Back in, the Pistols deliver their double-team finisher which doesn’t have a name – it’s like the Doomsday Device, but with a missile dropkick or something off the top-rope instead of a clothesline. The ref goes down after they finish off Garvin, but then a guy in a bird suit (which is later named Fantasia, but due to copyright issues is changed to Bradstreet) give the Young Pistols DDTs out of the corner. It’s Brad Armstrong, by the way. After he’s done his dirty work, he flies the coop (har har). Hayes covers Armstrong as the ref wakes up and counts 1-2-3. The Freebirds are the NEW WCW U.S. Tag Team Champions. (10:19) With less stalling and more work from the Freebirds, you get a decent little match. **½
Now let’s skip the debuts of Johnny B. Badd and Oz and four other matches to this…
Just like at WrestleWar, Missy Hyatt sneaks into the men’s locker room for another attempt at getting an interview. Terry Taylor lies to her and says that Tom Zenk is in the showers, but it turns out to be once again Stan Hansen. Why doesn’t Wayne Arnold stand up to him?
Brian Pillman vs. Barry Windham – Taped Fist Match
Barry Windham has been beating the crap out of Brian Pillman for months now and here is the blowoff. Windham takes Pillman too lightly to start and gets beat on hard in the corner. Windham goes low to take over and targets the ribs. Windham heads up top, but Pillman dropkicks him down to the floor. Pillman follows him out with a flying fist drop and busts open Windham. Windham wants back in the ring, but Pillman pulls him back out for more clubberin’. It proves to be a bad idea because Pillman gets pulled into the ringpost to get him all busted open. They go over to the runway where Windham drops Pillman throat-first to the guardrail. Man, Barry is FIRED UP! Back in, Pillman surprises Windham with a spin kick. Windham quickly goes to the eyes and drops Pillman across the top-rope. They trade chops, but it’s Windham who delivers the back suplex. Double-KO spot follows. Pillman blocks a suplex and gets one of his own. He heads up top, but Windham meets him there and low blows to set up the SUPERPLEX for the 1-2-3. (6:09) Too short, but still an intense fast-paced brawl all the way to the end. ***½
Sid Vicious vs. El Gigante – Stretcher Match
This would be Sid’s last match in WCW until his return two years later, as he’s ready for his first trip to McMahonLand. It’s a real sight to see when Sid is the most talented man in the ring. Sid can’t get anything going on the big guy until he starts going after Gigante’s knees. Sid rams his body into Gigante a few times and then goes for a big charge, but Gigante sticks his boot up to block and grabs the CLAWHOLD for the 1-2-3. (2:13) Short enough, but still really terrible as Gigante can hardly move around the ring. Post-match, One Man Gang and Kevin Sullivan attack Gigante with parts of the stretcher. CRAP
Butch Reed vs. Ron Simmons – Thunder-Doom Cage Match
Nothing special about the cage- it’s just the regular NWA/WCW-style cage. Teddy Long is here, but he’s being stuck in the mini-cage that your Jim Cornettes and JJ Dillons would hang out in a lot during the late ’80s to prevent any shenanigans. Doom lost the tag titles at WrestleWar, so Teddy Long and Butch Reed dump Simmons. This was basically it for Reed as well, until he made a brief return in late ’92 when Simmons won the WCW World title. Simmons misses a dive into Reed up against the cage and eats the steel for Reed to take over with elbow drops. Simmons is already bleeding in the first several minutes thanks to the cage. Simmons mounts a comeback, but he whiffs on a dropkick for Reed to take back control with fist drops. Another comeback try from Simmons is stopped as Reed pulls him into the cage. Reed rubs Simmons’ face in the mat and then delivers a piledriver for two. Bunch of punches and cage-use gets two. Oh boy, now Reed goes to a chinlock. Simmons elbows out, but he telegraphs a backdrop and Reed catches him with a swinging neckbreaker. Reed goes up top for the FLYING SHOULDERBLOCK and connects. Simmons lands near the ropes as Reed covers for 1-2-NO! Reed tries for a splash, but Simmons gets the knees up. Simmons hits a backdrop, but then Reed catches him with a knee. Double-clothesline happens and the crowd collectively sighs as a result. Meanwhile, Teddy Long throws a chain to Reed. Before he can use it, Simmons spins Reed around for the SPINEBUSTER. Cover, 1-2-3. (9:39) Real boring affair. *
WCW World Tag Team Champions Rick & Scott Steiner vs. Lex Luger & Sting
No build necessary when you put four of the top ten biggest stars of 1991 anywhere in the world together in the same ring. Rick and Lex start it off with a real stiff tie-up. They’re all buddy-buddy, so there’s no cheapshots happening in this one. Rick takes Lex to the mat several times, but Luger always finds his way to the ropes. Luger speeds it up with a shoulderblock and boy did he ever ROCK Rick Steiner. Luger follows up with a powerslam for 1-2-NO! Rick avoids a corner charge and nails Luger with a release German suplex and then delivers a Steinerline for two. Rick cross-corner whips Luger, but Lex explodes out and blasts Rick with a huge clothesline. Lex delivers a press slam and tags in Sting for the first time in this match. Sting catches Rick with a clothesline out to the floor and follows him out with an awesome tope! Back in, Sting hits the face slam. Rick NO-SELLS, so Sting kicks him in the gut, lifts Rick up and then drives him stomach-first into the corner ala Scott Steiner. Sting stalks Rick in the corner and wants the Stinger Splash, but Rick moves out of the way and tags in Scott. He immediately runs in and kills Sting with the butterfly powerbomb to pop the crowd. Tilt-a-whirl slam follows. Man, Scott is freakin’ PUMPED for this one. It’s like he’s got some serious roid rage going on even back in ’91. During all that commotion, Sting regroups and reverses a whip to set up Scott for a hotshot. Luger tags in for a suplex and then brings Sting back in the match. Scott catches him with an inverted atomic drop and then puts Sting up on the top turnbuckle for a Belly-to-Belly Superplex for 1-2-NO! Scott sets him up in the corner again and then looks like he wants to give Sting a Steinerline out to the floor, but Sting avoids it and Scott falls out on top of JR and Dusty. Lex gets another tag and gives Scott a suplex back in for 1-2-NO! Lex hits a powerslam and wants the TORTURE RACK, but Scott counters into a Russian legsweep. Blind tag to Rick gets Luger decked with the TOP-ROPE BULLDOG for 1-2-NO! Sting hits Rick with a missile dropkick as he stands up out of the pin and sends him flying chest-first into the corner. Rick and Luger trade blows, which ends in a double-KO spot. Sting gets the tag as does Scott. Sting ducks a clothesline and drops Scott with a back suplex, but then he telegraphs a backdrop. Scott wants a tombstone piledriver, but Sting reverses into one of his own. Cover, 1-2-NO! Rick makes the save. Luger runs in to get Rick out of the ring, but the ref gets stuck in between them and he’s down. In the ring, Sting hits the Stinger Splash on Scott. He wants the SCORPION DEATHLOCK on Scott, but Sting notices that Nikita Koloff is running towards Luger with a chain. He shoves Lex out of the way and takes the chain to the face. The damage is done, so Nikita leaves as Scott covers for 1-2-3. (11:09) At the end of the day, they’re all still friends. Phenomenal match with only a few minor problems with some botched moves. Other than that, this is one of the best standard tag matches of the ’90s in American wrestling. ****½
Tony Schiavone stops Nikita in the locker room for a word. He says Sting was in the wrong place at the wrong time and then gets nailed from behind by the Stinger. They brawl out to the parking lot, but its too dark to see what’s going on.
WCW World Television Champion Arn Anderson vs. Bobby Eaton
Bobby’s been chasing the TV belt for six months now and here’s his first chance on PPV. CAN HE DO IT? Arn basically held the title for the majority of 1986 – the year the Horsemen got started and hardly if ever defended it against anybody on the big shows. He held it again for the entire year of 1990 and did not defend it once on PPV because he was always going after tag team gold much like in 1986. He’s regained it from Tom Zenk back in February (according to the taping schedule) and out of his three title reigns (we’re talking a total 2 years of being the TV champ at this point), this is the first time he’s ever defended it on a major show that I’m aware of. Hey, I love Arn Anderson probably more than most people, but I wouldn’t put him at the top of my list of greatest TV champs of all-time simply because he always seemed to pursue other goals. Guys like Austin, Regal, Booker – those guys were great TV champions. Hey, I cared about the TV belt. What can I say? Arn tries a couple headlock takedowns, but Eaton counters them all with headscissors and finally pops Arn with a right hand. Arn’s on DREAM STREET! He goes low on Bobby though, but then charges into a boot out of the corner and takes a clothesline for two. Eaton grabs an armbar, but Arn’s in the ropes. They fight on the apron, but Bobby goes to the top like he’s going to do something and gets slammed onto the runway. Arn wants a piledriver on the runway, but Eaton backdrops out and returns to the ring. Arn doesn’t see Bobby coming and gets nailed with a double-ax handle on the shoulder for two. Back to the armbar. Arn fights his way to the corner and pulls the ref in the way for a cheapshot. He slides out and drags Bobby’s legs over to the ringpost for a little steel-wrapping. Great psychology when you factor in that Bobby’s finisher is a top-rope leg drop. It’s like going after Ric Flair’s legs to avoid the figure-four. Arn works the leg Anderson-style until Eaton kicks him off into the corner. Bobby fights back with some turnbuckle smashing. Actually, a whole lot of turnbuckle smashing as Eaton drives Anderson’s face into all three turnbuckles at six times. Bobby wobbles over to Arn, but then he gets blasted in the knee for Arn to take back over. Bobby does his best with the right hands to stun Arn, but he can barely walk. Once Bobby falls to the mat, Arn grabs the leg and hooks on a legbar. Arn tries a suplex, but Bobby blocks and gets one of his own. Not without consequences though because of the hurt leg. Arn returns to the legbar, but Bobby kicks him off and limps around in between right hands. Arn kicks back and goes for the pump splash, but Bobby gets his knees up. Bobby goes for a clothesline, but Arn ducks and catches Eaton with the Spinebuster for 1-2-NO! Bobby nails Arn on the way down as he tries a double-ax handle and then follows up with the Swinging Neckbreaker to set up the ALABAMA JAM! Barry Windham runs down to save his fellow Horsemen, but Brian Pillman is there to beat him back to the locker room. Can Bobby deliver the move? YES HE CAN! Cover, 1-2-3! (11:50) Real good match that saw Bobby Eaton really shine. It was good to see him win the TV belt, although he would lose it on Worldwide within a month’s time to Steve Austin. He would be involved in some great things during the remainder of his career, but this was the only singles belt he would ever hold in the big time. ***
WCW World Champion Ric Flair vs. NWA World Champion Tatsumi Fujinami
Alright, so WCW is back from touring Japan where Tatsumi Fujinami defeated Ric Flair. According to Japan, the WCW and NWA belts were considered separate, but WCW never acknowledged that or Fujinami’s title reign. Because of the mess that was made, WCW looks to “unify” the belts. That’s the best way I know how to describe the circumstances. It’s just one of those issues that would frustrate your average wrestling fan. During Flair’s entrance, he’s met by a French maid, a cook, a butler and apparently some kind of lady of the night. Also, Flair’s theme music has been changed to some tune I don’t recognize. It’s terrible what Jim Herd tried to do to Flair, but this is what happened. Tiger Hatori is the official for this match while Bill Alfonso is the “backup” ref down on the floor. They do some nice mat stuff until Flair takes it into the corner and decks Fujinami with a forearm. They trade chops, but it’s Fujinami with a backdrop before applying a bow-and-arrow submission. A monkey-flip is mistimed and blown, so Fujinami chops Flair into the corner. Fujinami slaps on a Boston crab and then maneuvers into an Indian deathlock. Flair escapes and hits a suplex, but Fujinami comes back with a flying forearm for two. Flair rolls to the apron and takes a suplex back in and then takes a couple more flying forearms to put him out on the floor. Fujinami follows Flair out, but he probably regrets it as Flair drops him crotch-first on the guardrail. Back in, Flair goes to work on the leg. Shin breaker leads to the FIGURE-FOUR as it always should. Flair slaps Fujinami around, which only revives him and gets his own hold reversed. They trade blows, but Fujinami trips up Flair and puts on the Scorpion Deathlock. Flair makes the ropes pretty easily. Back suplex from Fujinami gets a couple two-counts. Flair fights back with a back suplex of his own and follows up with the Rolling Knee Drop. They try a headlock sequence and Fujinami wants to float over into a backslide, but he can’t seem to get off his back. Flair tosses Fujinami to the floor for some guardrail action, but Fujinami blocks and makes Flair taste the railing. Flair blades and then gets sent into the ringpost. Back in, Flair wants to do the Flair Flop, but Fujinami won’t get out of the freakin’ way. Fujinami whips Flair in the corner for the Flair Flip, but even that fails. Fujinami pounds on the cut forehead, but then runs into a boot in the corner. Flair wanted an Oklahoma roll, but Fujinami wouldn’t roll over for him. Instead, Flair just wanders out to the floor and flops down. Flair gets back on the apron and thumbs Fujinami, but then heads up top and gets slammed down and applies the Octopus Stretch. Flair manages to escape the hold, but it took a lot out of him. Another slugfest leads to a Flair Flop. A big collision causes both guys to fall out of the ring. Back in, Fujinami falls on top on a slam attempt for two. Fujinami gets an inside cradle for 1-2-NO! Fujinami catches Flair with a rollup off the ropes, but Flair pushes him off into Hatori. Flair grabs Fujinami by the trunks for a schoolboy as Bill Alfonso hops in the ring for the 1-2-3. (18:39) Now everything is back to normal. It was good for the first ten minutes, but the rest turned ugly real quick until they limped their way to the finish like Bobby Eaton limped his way to the TV title. Only that was much more entertaining. **¼
Final Thoughts: An amazing tag team dream match, a great brawl with Pillman and Windham, and a long-awaited TV title win for Bobby Eaton are the highlights. Everything else is passable unless you care to see Flair’s last PPV match before he heads up north with the big gold belt. I’ll go with thumbs in the middle, but the tag titles match is must-see if you haven’t already.