Thursday, July 22, 2010

Canon Wrestling Review: WCW Fall Brawl 1997

I should have done this yesterday, but I'm too lazy, and Hell's Kitchen was on, and other stuff, so I apologize for not updating The Canon Review yesterday. Anyway, the reason this review came about is that one of my friends said the other day that they attended this show, and Canon Review reader Ben W., who was also there at the time, suggested I go back and watch this show. Well, that's good enough for me, so let's start this show. Fall Brawl 1997 took place in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and is probably most known for the War Games main event, which takes place in two rings surrounded by a cage, between the Four Horsemen and the new World order, where somebody gets a door slammed on their face. Who is it? Well, read on to find out.

The three idiots at the broadcast position tonight are Mike Tenay, Tony Schiavone, and Bobby Heenan. Bobby has decided to wear a red sports jacket with a matching bow tie for reasons unknown. Up first is Eddy Guerrero wrestling Chris Jericho for Jericho's WCW Cruiserweight Title. Guerrero comes out, and the on-screen text introduces him as Harlem Heat. Last I checked, Guerrero was not two people, or black. No wonder this company went out of buisness. I half expected Jericho to be introduced as The Public Enemy, but at least they got his name right. Mike Tenay announces that Jericho is taking a tour of Japan after this match, which kind of gives away the winner of the match. We start off with an exchange of holds and chops, with neither man getting the advantage. Jericho seems to be concentrating on Guerrero's left arm, using a series of arm drags and arm bars to neutralize his opponent. The crowd chants something during the middle of the match, I tried three times to hear what it was, but I couldn't quite decipher it. A hotshot by Jericho leads into the Lionsault, and that gets a two count. Jericho remains in control, but Eddie counters a standing armbar with a jawjacker using the top rope. As Eddy stomps away at Jericho, he gets an "Eddy Sucks" chant. Surfboard by Eddy, he lets Jericho out, only to back suplex him down and put him in the Surfboard hold again. Jericho is really selling the move, as Heenan points out that it looks like Jericho has a "bitter beer face" Jericho gets out, but Eddy beats him down. Eddy does his trademark slingshot senton, which gets a two count. Undaunted, Eddy puts Jericho in his father's old finisher, the Gory Special. Heenan and Tony claim to have never seen the move while Tenay does a good job explaining the significance of Eddy using that hold. Of the three, Tenay was probably the least annoying commentator at this time, of course he's just awful in TNA now, but still.

Jericho counters the Gory Special with one of his own, than throws Eddy down off of his shoulders. Brawling ensues, Eddy gets Jericho in the corner and starts walking the ropes, but Jericho crotches him on the top rope, and pulls up and down on the rope to increase Guerrero's agony. Jericho has Guerrero in a powerbomb position on the apron, and decides to throw Eddy over his shoulders throat first on the top rope. However, Eddy comes staggering down on the outside and runs into Jericho, bumping him into the steel guardrail, so both men are down. Back in, Jericho hits a huge German Suplex, launching Guerrero high in the air. Cover, but Eddy gets his foot on the bottom rope. Jericho goes for another powerbomb, but Eddy escapes, and then catches Jericho with a Uranage suplex, slamming Jericho hard to the mat. Guerrero charges from the corner, but Jericho hits a quick powerslam, which nearly gets a three count. Jericho gets another two count with a spinning wheel kick, and follows that with a pancake manuever. Magistral attempted by Jericho but countered sloppily by Guerrero, that gets a two count. Jericho gets Eddy in the powerbomb position, and powerbombs him twice, holding on after each one. Instead of attempting a third powerbomb, Jericho puts Eddy on the top turnbuckle and attempts a superplex, but Eddy shifts his weight and lands on top of Jericho. With his opponent down, Eddy climbs the turnbuckle, and hits his finisher, the Frog Splash, which gives Eddy the three count and the victory. Match started out kind of slow, but the two really worked hard and had the crowd into the match. Most of the moves executed were done perfectly and the last five to eight minutes or so were just brilliant. Overall, I'll give the match a 3.8 out of 5.

Larry Zbyszko has joined the commentary team, which can not be a good thing. Over at the table, the webmaster is conducting a live chat with Jeff Jarrett, who is wrestling Dean Malenko later tonight. Up next is Harlem Heat (w/ Jacquelyn) vs. The Steiner Brothers (w/ Ted DiBiase) in the 830th match these two teams have had. The Heat comes out, which makes these two white guys so happy they high-five each other and start raising the roof. Apparently, the teams felt the presence of Zbyszko, so they decided to pay tribute to him by stalling for five minutes before starting the match. Scott Steiner and Stevie Ray start off with some brawling tactics. Stevie catches Scott with a boot out of the corner, and than whips Scott off the rope and side slams him down. Stevie puts Scott in the corner, but eats a boot of his own, and takes a belly-to-belly suplex. Stevie decides to leave and stall some more before Booker T gets tagged in. Full Nelson on Scott, and Booker lets him out to vertical suplex Scott down. Booker goes to the top, but gets caught by Scott and takes an overhead belly-to-belly. Gorilla Press by Scott on Booker, and Rick Steiner intercepts an oncoming Stevie Ray with a Steinerline. Harlem Heat recovers on the outside while Rick decides now would be a good time to chew on the bottom rope.

We finally get back to action, and Rick gets a two count on Booker after a body slam and elbow drop. The third boot to the face out of the corner in this match is used by Booker, who follows up with a spin kick. Brawling tactics by the Heat ensue, but Rick counters an attempted leapfrog by Booker by catching him and slamming him down. Tag to Scott, he starts to attack Booker, but a distraction by Stevie Ray allows Booker T to thrust kick Scott and sends him to the outside, where Stevie goes to beat up on him. Scott gets back in and whipped off the ropes by Booker, who decks Scott with a flying forearm. Booker goes for a spin kick, but Scott takes a step back and catches Booker, delivering a back suplex. HOT TAG to Rick, who cleans house and hits the top-rope bulldog on Stevie, but Booker breaks it up. Stevie gets back up, hoists Rick on his shoulders while Booker scales the top turnbuckle. Booker missle dropkicks Rick off of Stevie's shoulders in a move Heenan calls the Heatseeker, but Rick gets out at two. Booker gets sent to the outside, Scott catches Stevie Ray from behind and the two Stiener give Stevie a combination Steinerline-German Suplex manuever, and the match abruptly ends after that move gets the three count. The match had a few good moments, but they were too few and far in between. I'll give it a 1.94 out of 5.

Ultimo Dragon comes out to wrestle Television Champion Alex Wright. Mike Tenay is back, so now we have four men doing the job that two can do. Some people in the crowd dance, but most accuse Wright of choosing to live an alternative lifestyle by way of chant. Wright starts off by dancing a lot, so Ultimo gives him a dropkick and Wright bails to the outside to catch his breath. Some holds and counterholds are exchanged by the two men, until Dragon gets control by giving the champ a series of kicks. Wright gets back control with the stun gun (the former finisher of Steve Austin, not a taser). Wright gets a series of two counts after a jumping side kick and a back suplex, and in between those manuever he puts the Dragon in a series of chinlocks. Dragon reverses an Irish whip and cross body blocks Wright, than delivers a series of stiff kicks to his opponent's back. Dragon tries a spinning wheel kick, but Wright holds on to the rope, and goes on the attack with another chinlock. Wright gets up, knees Dragon in the stomach, than uses yet another chinlock. These chinlocks may not be putting Ultimo Dragon to sleep, but it's putting me to sleep. Back up, Dragon is sent into the ropes and attempts a Sunset Flip on Wright, but Alex punches him down and then rather unwisely decides to dance, giving Dragon the opportunity to roll Wright up and get a two count. Both men climb to the top, Wright is thrown down, but has the presence of mind to get the feet up when Dragon dives off the top rope, sending Ultimo to the mat. Wright uses a back heel kick and a snap suplex to floor his opponent, than goes up to the top, only for Dragon to counter his dive by getting the feet up. Dragon goes on the offensive with a series of kicks that send Wright to the outside, following up with his trademark Asai Moonsault which nearly takes the cameraman down along with Wright.

Back in, Dragon with a huracanrana, than both wrestlers just lie on the ground for a few seconds before exchanging knife-edge chops from their knees. Dragon gets the advantage after a short dropkick. Dragon goes up top, but Wright crotches him on the turnbuckle, than dropkicks Dragon to the outside of the ring. Wright with a suicide dive, which the announcers are quite surprised at considering Wright usually doesn't do those types of maneuvers. Back in, the two jockey for position, but Ultimo gets the advantage, and does a release Tiger Suplex on Wright which draws a two count. Dragon follows up with a Dragon Suplex with a bridge, but that also only gets two. Dragon picks Wright up and sets him on the top turnbuckle. The two fight on the top before Dragon flips over Wright's back, lands on his feet and powerbombs his opponent. Wright once again kicks out. Dragon is undaunted, and slams Wright down to set up for a moonsault, which connects and draws yet another two count.  Dragon tries for another Huracanrana, but Wright rolls through and puts Dragon on his back for a two count. Wright is down, and Dragon tries a top rope attack, but Wright gets up in time and catches Dragon mid-air with a dropkick for another near-fall. Both men perform a series of roll-ups for three more two counts, and Dragon dropkicks Wright into the corner and hoists him on the turnbuckle. Dragon then does a turnaround huracanrana on Wright off the top and follows with his finisher, the Dragon Sleeper, but Wright is able to get to the ropes. Dragon once again tries for the Dragon Sleeper, but Wright counters with a jawbreaker, and then uses his finisher, the German Suplex, to finally defeat the Ultimo Dragon and retain his TV Title. Good match that really didn't get going until it was about 12 minutes in, and had some awkward moments. Nevertheless, I'll give it a 3.05 out of 5.

Mean Gene Okerlund is shown in the back shilling the WCW hotline when the nWo comes running by. Gene goes to see what's going on, and finds one of the 4 Horsemen, Curt Hennig, lying on the floor. Will Hennig be ok for the main event? Time will tell. In the meantime we have a number one contenders match for Steve McMichael's United States Title pitting Jeff Jarrett against Dean Malenko. Mike Tenay has left again, so we're back to three announcers. The action has moved from the first ring to the second ring for this match for some reason. Jarrett sends his manager, Debra McMichael, to the back so there won't be any distractions in the match. Match starts, Jarrett uses a hip toss and then does his trademark strut. Back to action, the two exchange before Jarrett gets sent down hard with a Malenko shoulder block. The two exchange some basic wrestling maneuvers before Malenko takes advantage with some punches. Back down to the mat, Malenko gets the advantage with a dropkick, and Jarrett goes to the outside to catch his breath. Back in, Jarrett gets the advantage with a side headlock, but Malenko is able to whip Jarrett off the ropes and starts peppering him with punches before Jarrett ducks and uses a sleeper hold. Malenko gets to the ropes. Jarrett goes for a vertical suplex on Malenko, but Malenko blocks, lifts Jarrett up and sets him on the top turnbuckle, than Superplexes Jarrett down. Both men are down but get up at the same time. Malneko is back on the attack with a dropkick and a German Suplex, than puts Jarrett in his submission finisher, the Texas Cloverleaf. Jarrett gets to the ropes, but Debra comes back from the, well, back.

Malenko clotheslines Jarrett so hard that both men go flying over the top rope. While Jarrett is talking with Debra, Malenko uses the time to come back in the ring and uses the baseball slide kick to send Jarrett into the guardrail. Malenko starts to go to work on Jarrett near the guardrails before the two go back in, where Malenko gets a two count after a dropkick. The announcers, particularly Zybzsko, are grilling Malenko due to his lack of emotion in the ring, saying it makes him a worse wrestler or something, I don't know. Malenko whips Jarrett into a corner and charges, but Jarrett catches him with a back elbow and all of a sudden starts to work over Malenko's legs to set him up for the Figure-Four. While Jarrett is pulling on Malenko's leg from outside the ring, Malenko kicks him off, than as Jarrett gets on the apron, Malenko sets him up for a suplex. But Jarrett counters with a cross-body, and gets a two count. Malenko with a sleeperhold, but Jarrett gets out and than back suplexes Malenko down near the corner. Jarrett climbs the ropes and dives, but Malenko gets a leg up. However, Jarrett catches the leg and goes for the Figure-Four, and Malenko counters with an inside cradle to get two. A series of holds get two counts for each men, and as the two are countering each other's moves, Malenko does a leapfrog but lands awkwardly on his ankle. Jarrett attacks by clipping the leg and slapping the Figure-Four on Malenko, who has no choice but to give up. Jarrett now gets a U.S. Title shot at Halloween Havoc. However, he left WCW a few weeks later and was in the WWF by the time Halloween Havoc aired. Regardless, this was another good match. I'll say it's a 2.8 out of 5.

The nWo War Games team of Buff Bagwell, Konnan, Syxx, and Kevin Nash do a promo concerning tonight's main event. They promise to put an end to the Four Horsemen tonight, Zbyszko proclaims that the nWo makes him sick. Up next is a tag team match between the Faces of Fear (Meng and Barbarian) and the team of Wrath and Mortis. Why they decided to match up two heel tag teams together is anybody's guess. The Faces of Fear have matching red pants on tonight, a change up from their normal black pants. This is just a brawl early on, as the two teams just beat on each other and use clotheslines and body slams to beat each other down. Mortis comes in, gets backdropped by Meng into Barbarian, who catches and then powerbombs him. Wrath breaks up the count. Barbarian and Meng continue to dominate Mortis until Barbarian gets on the top rope, only for Wrath and Mortis' manager, James Vandenberg, to shake the top rope and crotching Barbarian in the process. While Meng chases Vandenberg, Barbarian recovers and dives off the top, only to be countered with a raised boot from Mortis. Wrath comes in with a pump kick, and the two nearly pin Barbarian after a powerbomb-neckbreaker combo move before Meng breaks up the count.

Wrath is tagged in and uses more punches and kicks to stifle his foe the Barbarian, then uses a backbreaker and an elbow drop to down Barbarian. Cover, but Barbarian gets his foot on the rope. Mortis is tagged in, and uses a variation of the Rocker Dropper where he comes in and drives a fully standing Barbarian down to the mat with his leg hooked around Barbarian's neck. That gets two. Wrath is tagged back in, and uses a top rope clothesline to send Barbarian to the outside, where Mortis dumps some stairs on him while he is down. Back in the ring. Barbarian is set up on the top rope. Meanwhile, Mortis is sitting on Wrath's shoulders, and they perform an Ultra Superplex on Barbarian, which really pops the crowd and the announcers. But Mortis is still down, and that allows Barbarian to get the Hot Tag to Meng, which gets the loudest reaction of the night up to this point. Meng is just clobbering people left and right, superkicking Mortis and pounding away on Wrath. Powerslam on Wrath gets a two before Mortis breaks it up.Mortis is in but gets slammed down by Meng, who climbs the top rope and delivers a picture perfect splash on Mortis. Wrath comes in to break up the count. Barbarian comes in but is disposed of by Wrath. Meanwhile, Vandenberg is on the apron but gets caught in the Tongan Death Grip by Meng. Mortis tries to break it up, but gets a Tongan Death Grip of his own. Wrath comes back in from behind, and delivers a Death Penalty (Rock Bottom) to Meng, which gets the victory for Wrath and Mortis. There wasn't a lot of finesse in this match, just a lot of hard-hitting action. Still, it was quite entertaining, so I'll give it a 3.139 out of 5.

Mean Gene is in the back with an interview with three of the Horsemen, Benoit and McMichael say a bunch of boring stuff before Flair fires up the crowd with his interview. Basically, the point was that they will go on without Hennig, making it a 4 vs. 3 match. Scott Norton comes out for his match against The Giant. The two waste no time as they exchange blows before heading outside the ring to continue battle. Giant picks Norton up on his shoulder, but Norton slips out and throws him into the ring post. Norton tries to suplex the Giant, but takes a suplex of his own instead. Norton gets in the ring first, and clotheslines the Giant back out just as he was stepping into the ring. Back in, the two exchange blows, but Norton goes downstairs, than catches Giant with a Stun Gun. Norton gets Giant in a corner and delivers some heavy blows to him. Finally, Norton gets Giant out of the corner and back suplexes him, but that gets two. Norton argues with the ref, but the Giant grabs a rope and then kips up. Not bad for a 7 foot 450 pound man. Giant with a big boot and a dropkick sends Norton down, and he calls for the Choke Slam. Giant grabs Norton by the throat, lifts him up, and slams him down, getting a three count. Short match which wasn't too bad, but not that good either. I'll give it a 1.5 out of 5. During the replay, Heenan calls Scott Norton Ed Norton. I don't know if he made a mistake or was just referencing the old Honeymooners character, but that's what he called him.

Next is a rematch from last month's Clash of the Champions featuring the nWo team of Randy Savage and Scott Hall against WCW's Diamond Dallas Page and Lex Luger, who have had some issues over the past few weeks. Schiavone makes the claim that Luger has the most recognizable upper body in sports. Um, OK. A test of strength between Hall and Luger starts off the match, and Hall loses. Zbyszko states that Hall is one of the most overrated wrestlers in the business, pulling no punches for their ongoing feud. Luger starts delivering clothesline to both Hall and Savage, and while Hall escapes to the outside, Luger Gorilla Press slams Savage over the top rope onto Hall. Tag into DDP, and he and Hall start going at it. Page gets the advantage with a series of punches and an atomic drop, all of which Hall oversells to comedic proportions. Page with a pancake piledriver on Hall and decks Savage off of the apron. That proves to be a bad idea, as Savage gets angry and trips DDP coming off the rope.

The nWo start double teaming Page, and Hall nearly gets a three count after a powerslam. Savage and Hall have Page trapped in the corner, but DDP escapes only for Savage to catch up and hold him from tagging out to Luger. Hall uses this opportunity to take advantage by slugging Luger on the apron and stomping him down in between the two rings, leaving Luger stuck there. While Luger's stuck, Savage and Hall take turns throwing Page from one ring to another, and while Savage is choking Page with a ring rope, Hall decides to deck the referee for no good reason. Another ref comes out, only to meet the same result. That brings out an enraged Zbyszko, who gets on the ring apron to jaw with Hall. Meanwhile Luger is finally getting up, and after Zbyszko shoves Hall, Luger rolls him up from behind and Zbyszko administers the three count, which is apparently good enough to make this a victory for Luger and Page. Schiavone claims that that moment where Zbyszko counted Hall down is a moment we will never forget. Well until five minutes ago, I had completly forgotten about it. This match was little more than a setup for a future angle, and nobody brought their A game, per se. I'll give it a 1.1 out of 5 and hope to never have to see it again.

Before the main event, Gene shills the Hotline once more. Michael Buffer is out, doing his thing. He comes up with a great line in introducing the match, which goes as follows: "Two teams, one cage. (long dramatic pause), It's time to set the stage, for the rage, of the WAR GAMES~!" Well, I liked it. The rules of War Games are this, there are two teams of four, the match starts with a five minute period of one on one action, there's a coin flip, and whoever wins gets to send their next man in, the losing them sends the next man in after two minutes, and after every two minutes, the teams alternate putting people in the match until everybody is in. At which time, the match can only end by submission or surrender. The two teams are matched up mainly due to a parody that the nWo did of former horseman Arn Anderson's retirement speech, which you can see right after I'm done writing. The cage is lowered, and the nWo team is out first. According to Buffer, this unit of the nWo want to be called the "Now Ready for Prime Time Players". I'm thinking Nash came up with that one. Anyway, Kevin Nash, Buff Bagwell, Syxx and Konnan represent the nWo. The Horsemen team come out, but Curt Hennig is conspicuous by his absence, so Ric Flair, Chris Benoit, and Steve "Mongo" McMichael have to go without him.  Bagwell and Benoit will start this match. Benoit dominates early and bounces Bagwell against the cage a couple of times before missing a swan dive headbutt off the top rope. Buff takes this opportunity to mug for the camera and throws Benoit against the cage. Both men get up, Benoit charges at Buff but gets backdropped into the cage wall, nearly landing head first on the mat. Buff stomps on Benoit some. The nWo wins the cointoss, but Benoit is starting to regain control of the match. Konnan comes in and tries to dive onto Benoit, but gets kicked on the way down. Benoit with a snap suplex on Konnan and a bodyslam on Bagwell. Once both men are up, Benoit sends them flying into the cage. The numbers prove to be too much, as Bagwell catches Benoit with a kick to the gut and Konnan DDTs him down to the mat. Bagwell takes this time to again mug for the camera.

The three men take the fight to the other ring but never mind that shit, HERE COMES MONGO! He makes his presence felt by delivering clotheslines and bodyslams to both of his opponents. Three point stance into football tackle by Mongo onto Konnan. YEAH! The two Horsemen are in control but here comes Syxx. But Benoit sees him coming and catches him with a brutal clothesline. The Horsemen continue to take the fight to the opponent, and Mongo picks Syxx up and slams him against the roof of the cage. Benoit with the Crippler Crossface on Syxx, and Bagwell breaks it up quickly, much to my delight. I'm not going to get into why that delighted me, but if you know much about Chris Benoit than you might know why. Benoit gets up and throws Syxx into the cage, but that is ignored by the announcers because Curt Hennig has come from the back with his arm in a sling. Flair enters the ring with knife-edge chops for everyone. The Horsemen spend the next two minutes dominating the nWo until Kevin Nash comes in. Nash goes after Flair, whips him into the ropes and sidewalk slams him down. Benoit comes over, but Nash picks him up and slams him back first against the cage. While Mongo is still fighting Konnan, Nash catches him with a big boot and all three Horsemen are down. Buff once again takes this time to mug for the camera. You know, Bagwell knew where the cameras were more than any other wrestler I've ever seen. In a way I almost admire that, but at the same time it gets annoying rather quickly. Syxx is rubbing Flair's face into the cage, but the camera focuses on Hennig. There's some brawling going on between the two teams, and Flair has Syxx in the Figure Four when Hennig comes in. He takes off the sling to reveal two pairs of handcuffs, much to the delight of the crowd. The crowd turns on Hennig about ten seconds later when he hits his teammates Mongo and Benoit with the cuffs and goes right after Flair. Benoit and Mongo are being handcuffed to the cage while the rest of the nWo take turns stomping on Flair. Nash gets a mic and asks if Benoit and Mongo want to surrender, but they refuse. Flair continues to take a beating while Bagwell takes the mic and asks Benoit if he wants to quit, and gets spit on for his efforts. Jacknife powerbomb by Nash onto Flair, and Mongo and Benoit both continue refusing surrender. Finally, Hennig drags Flair and positions his head near the cage door, and Nash threatens that unless the Horsemen quit, Hennig is going to slam the door into Flair's head. Mongo surrenders, but Hennig's such an evil guy that he slams the door in Flair's face anyway. To be honest, it didn't look quite as bad as the announcers were making it out to be, but it still looked painful enough. The nWo wins, Nash proclaims that the Horsemen are dead and Schiavone calls this the most sickening night of his life. Flair would come back a month later and feud with Hennig, so I guess it wasn't that bad. The match was decent enough but the ending kind of sucked the life out of the crowd and really made the Horsemen look like idiots. Plus, even at the time, you could see Hennig's turn coming a mile away. I'll give it a 2.40 out of 5.

Overall, despite the down note it ended it, WCW Fall Brawl 1997 wasn't a bad pay-per-view. Three were three rather good matches and two others that were decent as well. The worst match was the nWo-Page and Luger match, but even that served its purpose. I'll give the show en masse a 6.5 out of 10, as it was three hours of good wrestling action. Well, thanks for reading this monstrosity of a post, and if you have any thoughts about Fall Brawl 97, feel free to leave a comment. Also, if you have ideas for future reviews, than send them me via e-mail at I leave you with the nWo mocking the Horsemen on Nitro:

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