(All screen captures are the property of World Wrestling Entertainment)
September 15, 1996
Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum
Winston-Salem, North Carolina
News & Notes: Much has happened since Hog Wild. I’ll try keeping it brief. At Clash of the Champions, Hollywood Hogan defended the WCW title against Ric Flair. It ended in DQ when the nWo interfered. The nWo continued terrorizing WCW in the following weeks. They spray painted production trucks and people. They put a black streak in Ric Flair’s hair. They also painted a yellow stripe down Savage’s back. Then Ted DiBiase appeared in the front row on Nitro. He held up four and then five fingers. The commentators thought it meant Ted joined the Four Horsemen. He didn’t. The nWo revealed DiBiase was their financial backer. If Ted was the fourth man, who was the fifth? That question was answered when The Giant attacked his fellow Dungeon members. He joined the New World Order. Ted DiBiase lured him to the group with money. (They wanted The British Bulldog as the fifth man. But Bulldog signed a new WWF contract at the last moment. The Giant was the backup plan.)
Meanwhile, WCW made two big announcements. Fall Brawl includes a War Games match pitting WCW against the nWo. Also, Randy Savage gets a WCW title match at Halloween Havoc. The nWo made demands for the War Games match. If they win, they want their own show. They asked for other things, including Pepe the dog. But their own show was the main focus. WCW chose their team for War Games. Sting & Luger put aside their differences with The Horsemen and combined forces. Sting, Luger, Flair, & Anderson would enter War Games. However, the unthinkable happened. Nick Patrick lured Lex Luger to the parking lot during a match. He found Ted DiBiase speaking with someone in a limo. That person emerged from the car and attacked Lex. It was Sting! (Or was it?) It appeared Sting turned his back on WCW.
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The Show opens with a similar video package to Bash at the Beach. They even use the same music. It recaps the nWo storyline so far. We see footage from Scott Hall’s first appearance to the events of Hog Wild. Then they show the nWo spray painting everything in sight, including Randy Savage. We also get clips of both The Giant and possibly Sting turning on WCW. It ends with The Outsiders smashing Lex Luger’s rental car. Luger kicks the car in frustration.
Tony Schiavone welcomes everyone to Winston-Salem and Fall Brawl. He’s with Bobby Heenan and Dusty Rhodes. Dusty says the nWo delivered shock waves to WCW’s doorstep. Heenan claims people are betting this will be the end of the nWo. War Games was made for the Horsemen. They also watch clips of Sting’s turn and The Outsiders destroying Luger’s car. Then the commentators speculate who WCW will add to their team to replace Sting.
Diamond Dallas Page vs. Chavo Guerrero Jr.
Notes: DDP continued defending his Battlebowl ring until it bit him in the butt. Eddie Guerrero defeated him at Clash of the Champions. A frustrated Page then gave Eddie three Diamond Cutters. Eddie’s nephew Chavo wanted revenge. He gained a surprise victory over Page on Nitro. Page retaliated by giving Chavo the Diamond Cutter and whipped him with a belt. Now, DDP faces Chavo in a rematch.
The Match: Chavo knocks DDP to the floor and nails a somersault senton. He then sends Page into the rail and whips him with a belt. Chavo also uses a slingshot splash and a crossbody before settling into some holds. But DDP takes control when Chavo tumbles out of the ring on a missed dropkick. Page nails a flying clothesline. He then wears down Chavo with strikes, throws, and submissions. This continues until Page misses a kick and Chavo nails a knee-lift. He flusters Dallas with crossbodies, dropkicks, and a dragonrana. DDP uses some shortcuts and throws Chavo into the second ring. Chavo fires back with head scissors and roll-ups. However, Page counters with a spinning powerbomb. Next, Chavo almost reverses a Diamond Cutter. But Page nails the move for the win.
Thoughts: This was a solid opener. DDP did good heel work. Chavo got enough offense to look like he had a chance. Plus, Dallas expanded his moveset with some impressive spots. I liked that spinning powerbomb. The only thing is, it’s winning over the crowd. Page is getting more and more cheers. He can’t remain a heel much longer.
Winner: Diamond Dallas Page (13:07)
Tony says fans can chat with WCW wrestlers on Compuserve. We see Harlem Heat, Col. Parker, and Sherri in the Compuserve room. They pester a WCW employee while he types everything they say.
Then Mean Gene gives us a special report on the nWo. He recaps the entire story from the beginning to tonight. It feels like a report from the nightly news. It features Hall & Nash’s debuts. (They edit out Nash’s adjective blunder.) Then they show the various attacks on WCW wrestlers. Gene also points out Nick Patrick’s shady officiating. He includes footage from Hog Wild. Gene speculates about more members joining the nWo. Next, we get The Giant joining the group and Sting’s apparent turn. Gene says WCW is reeling. It’s a full-scale assault from all sides. War Games is a match for survival. (This is Gene’s only appearance on the show. They taped it earlier. Gene’s contract with WCW expired. But he signs a new one soon after this event.)
Submission Match: Ice Train (w/ Teddy Long) vs. Scott Norton
Notes: Norton defeated Train again on Nitro. The referee stopped the contest because Ice couldn’t continue. This wasn’t enough for Norton. He attacked Train. Scott wanted to humiliate Ice by beating him in a Submission Match. Norton had a warm-up encounter with Teddy Long’s other charge, Sgt. Craig Pittman. Train saved Pittman from injury by throwing in the towel. Before this bout begins, Norton tells Teddy Long to keep his hands on the towel. He wants to hear Train submit with his own mouth.
The Match: They trade arm holds and takedowns. Then Train and Norton exchange powerslams, suplexes, and strikes. It’s back and forth until Norton puts Train in a Code Red. (He’s taunting Pittman with the move.) Long thinks about throwing in the towel, but he doesn’t. Train then fights back with another slam and a Japanese armbar. He continues with a clothesline and a senton. But Norton raises his knees on a splash. Norton follows with a spinebuster and places Ice in a Boston Crab. When it doesn’t work, Scott switches to an armbar. However, Teddy keeps distracting Norton. Train uses the opening to attack. He locks Norton in a Full Nelson and takes him to the mat. Scott can’t escape, so he taps out.
Thoughts: It was a decent fight. I didn’t hate it. But it wasn’t thrilling. They kept it the right length. It was good to see Train win. But I’m done with this feud. It’s time to move on. Also, having Train use his manager as a distraction was an odd choice. It’s a heel move. Some fans booed the finish.
Winner: Ice Train (7:08)
Mexican Heavyweight Title Match: Konnan (c) (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. Juventud Guerrera
Notes: Konnan joined the Dungeon of Doom. It’s a strange fit for him. Much like Big Bubba, the turn involves a change in appearance. Konnan ditched the singlets and bright colors for the Cholo look. (Those are WCW’s words, not mine.) He wears a white tank-top, baggy jeans, and a buttoned shirt. But he only fastens the top button. He also wears a nice hat. Konnan would fit into an episode of Breaking Bad with this look. In this match, Konnan defends his mythical Mexican Heavyweight Title. (He held a AAA belt, but he doesn’t have it with him. I doubt it’s on the line in this bout.) Konnan faces Juventud Guerrera. (I already introduced him in my ECW reviews.) They originally booked Konnan vs. Psychosis. But Psychosis is injured. Poor Juvi trips over the ring steps during his entrance.
The Match: Konnan throws Juvi around and out of the ring. Guerrera bounces off the ropes of both rings and nails some dives. But Konnan catches him and nails a powerbomb on the floor. He follows with a rolling clothesline and locks Juvi in various holds. Then they fight from ring to ring. Juvi lands some kicks, crossbodies, and springboard moves. Konnan counters with another powerbomb after Juvi botches a moonsault. Konnan fends off more flying moves from Juvi and blocks an apron powerbomb attempt. Next, they fight to the top rope. Juvi crotches Konnan, but he backflips off the ropes. Konnan capitalizes with a missile dropkick. He tosses Juvi around some more until Guerrera nails a 450 and a spinning splash. Neither move works and Konnan catches Juvi in an Alabama Slam. He follows with a Muscle Buster. Juvi still kicks out, so Konnan hits the Power Drop for the victory.
Thoughts: This was a fun bout. It was sloppy, but I enjoyed it. They used some crazy spots that popped the crowd. However, it didn’t involve much selling. Konnan matches usually don’t. It was a car crash, but it was entertaining.
Winner: Konnan (13:45)
Chris Benoit vs. Chris Jericho
Notes: I also introduced Jericho in my ECW reviews. You can go back and check out those entries. He won the ECW TV Title since we last checked in with that company. But Bischoff signed Jericho for his growing cruiserweight division. They brought him in as a white meat babyface. (We won’t get heel Jericho for a while.) Jericho uses the nickname Lionheart. He originally took that name while wrestling in Mexico. His music sounds like an inspirational theme from an 80s teen movie. He faces fellow Canadian, Chris Benoit. Benoit is alone for this match. Woman & Miss Elizabeth don’t appear.
The Match: They trade slaps and suplexes until Benoit puts Jericho in a Lion Tamer. (Did Jericho get the hold from him?) Jericho answers with dropkicks and a somersault plancha. (He hits the apron. It looked nasty.) Jericho also uses a powerbomb and a Tiger Suplex, but neither is enough. Then they trade chops and fight on the floor. Benoit hangs Jericho on the ropes and cuts off his comeback attempts. He wears down Jericho with strikes and holds. Next, they reverse through a Tombstone. But Benoit avoids a Lionsault. Jericho lands on his feet. He continues with a clothesline and a super Frankensteiner. However, Benoit retakes control when he crotches Jericho on the ropes. Benoit then nails a back superplex for the win.
Thoughts: This was a great hard-hitting match. I expected nothing less. These two never have bad matches with each other. It showcased Jericho’s moveset well. He held his own enough to look strong. However, the crowd almost ruined it. They only cared about Benoit because he’s a Horseman. They didn’t react to Jericho. This is a disappointing audience.
Winner: Chris Benoit (14:36)
Cruiserweight Title Match: Rey Mysterio Jr. (c) vs. Super Calo
Notes: Super Calo (Fragilisticexpialadocious) is a second generation luchador. His name is Rafael Garcia. He’s the son of Mexican wrestler, Bello Greco. His name and gimmick reference the Mexican rap group, Calo. He wears a mask with sunglasses and a paddy cap built into it. It’s a unique look. This is only Calo’s second match in WCW. They loved shoving newcomers into Cruiserweight title matches. It doesn’t make for good crowd heat. But this should be a fun match.
The Match: Calo controls the early match with a running powerslam and various holds. Rey fires back with arm drags and hurricanranas. But Calo gives Rey a powerbomb and a somersault plancha. Then Calo tries breaking his own hip by hitting a missile dropkick to the floor! They fight from ring to ring, and Calo focuses on Rey’s arm and shoulder. (Dusty says he’s rag-tagging Rey’s arm.) Rey rallies with dropkicks and planchas. But Calo dropkicks him out of the air and returns to the arm. Mysterio then fights back again with more hurricanranas and a baseball slide. He follows with another plancha and a springboard sunset flip. Calo reverses some moves, but he misses a dropkick. Rey uses the opening to bounce from ring to ring and land a dragonrana for the pin.
Thoughts: This match had strong and impressive action. Calo looked good. But he’s unknown. The crowd didn’t care about him. The lack of heat hurt the match. I enjoyed it, but the fan reaction brought it down a notch. This is a rough crowd. Some of them even shouted boring. I disagree.
Winner: Rey Mysterio Jr. (15:47)
After the match, Rey turns to the camera and sends a message to Dean Malenko. He dares him to come and take the cruiserweight title.
Tag Team Title Match: Harlem Heat (c) (w/ Sister Sherri & Col. Parker) vs. The Nasty Boys
Notes: The Nasty Boys felt slighted because they weren’t in the tag title match at Clash of the Champions. They demanded a championship opportunity. It feels like the Nasty Boys/Harlem Heat feud never ends. They’ve fought off and on for over a year. On a side note, The Nasty Boys claimed neutrality in the WCW vs. nWo struggle. They aren’t picking a side. We shall see how long that lasts. Meanwhile, the commentators joke we won’t see any cruiserweight wrestling in this bout. Dusty calls this the fine art of fist-fighting.
The Match: Sags and Stevie exchange strikes until Sherri distracts Jerry. The teams argue about the interference before The Nasties clubber Stevie. (Dusty loses his mind.) Then the Nasty Boys double-team Booker and call for Pitty City. Sherri prevents this by distracting them. Sags chases her, which occupies the ref. Harlem Heat use the opening to do their own double-teaming. They also switch without tagging and use more misdirection. Booker & Stevie wear down Knobbs with double-team moves. But Booker crotches himself on a missed sidekick. Sags then tags and cleans house. He evades more interference and nails a piledriver. However, Stevie breaks the count. Harlem Heat then retake control when Parker trips Sags. The double-teaming begins again until Sags gives Harlem Heat a double-facebuster. Knobbs returns and hands out clotheslines, a backdrop, and a splash. It leads to a four-way brawl. The Nasties hit a pumphandle/splash combo, but Parker distracts the ref. It allows Sherri to break a cane over Knobbs’ head. Booker covers for the victory.
Thoughts: This was a surprisingly fun match. They overbooked it, but that’s okay. Nasty Boys matches need a few bells and whistles. I liked the heel work from Harlem Heat and their managers. Plus, the crowd was hot for this bout. (It’s strange what they do and don’t like on this show.) I enjoyed it. Again, I may have to change my opinion of the Nasties. I’m liking far more of their matches than I expected.
Winners: Harlem Heat (15:31)
Next, they show a commercial for Fall Brawl t-shirts. Ric Flair shills the merchandise. He tells us to style and profile in this gear. (I’m sold! Where do I buy one?)
Then Mike Tenay interviews Randy Savage. He calls it ironic the most fined and suspended man in WCW is now their savior. Savage yells, “Stop the music!” (What music?) He also agrees about the irony. Randy calls himself the evil necessity of WCW. He’s going to step up to the plate and hit a grand slam against The Giant. Then Savage will take Hogan at Halloween Havoc. He threatens to rip the black heart out of Hogan’s chest. Tenay warns Savage not to overlook The Giant. Savage says he’s right. Randy vows to cut The Giant in half. He will only be forty-four feet tall. (Does he think The Giant is eighty-eight feet tall?) Savage says he’ll do it right now, so he heads to the ring.
The Giant vs. Macho Man Randy Savage
Notes: Savage accused The Giant of dropping the ball at Hog Wild. WCW booked a bout between them on Nitro. But it didn’t happen. They brawled with chairs before it began. This treatment drove The Giant to join the nWo. (DiBiase’s money also helped.) During the entrances, WCW forgets The Giant joined the group. They play his Dungeon theme for a moment before realizing their mistake. It switches to the nWo music. Also, the commentators notice Nick Patrick is the ref.
The Match: Savage jumps The Giant and they brawl on the floor. But Savage attempts a slam and fails. The Giant presses Randy into the ring and nails him with clotheslines and strikes. He even chokes Savage on the ropes. Then The Giant gives Savage a stalling backbreaker and bends him over his knee. Savage keeps escaping, so The Giant uses a Boston Crab and a bear hug. Next, The Giant slams Savage and attempts a knee-drop. He misses. Randy capitalizes by attacking the knee. Savage follows with a flying facebuster, but The Giant powers out of the pin. However, Savage slams The Giant! He then nails the flying elbow. This draws out Hogan to distract Randy. He lures him into the aisle and The Outsiders attack. Nick Patrick is too busy speaking with The Giant to notice. Hogan, Hall, & Nash use a chair and return Randy to the ring. The Giant pins him for the win.
Thoughts: I liked the storytelling. Savage’s selling helped. But the action was slow. Overall, I enjoyed it. It wasn’t a great match. But it served its purpose to build Hogan vs. Savage. It also continues the story of Nick Patrick. He did his best to avoid seeing the attack. It infuriated the commentators.
Winner: The Giant (7:47)
Next, they show a commercial for Halloween Havoc. Randy Savage stands in front of some Halloween props. He asks if we’re afraid of things that go bump in the night and fly through the air. Then the narrator does his best Vincent Price impression. He says the Halloween season draws near as Slim Jim snaps into Halloween Havoc.
Fireworks explode as the cage lowers over the ring. Meanwhile, Mike Tenay interviews Flair, Anderson, & Luger. He asks Ric who will replace Sting. Flair says they’re in the house The Horsemen built. Sting or no Sting they will win. Ric hears an ambulance coming for the nWo. He claims the Horsemen will kick ass! Arn then says they lost a friend, partner, and icon. He reveals they will do it by themselves without Sting. This summons Sting into the room. Everyone wants to fight, but Luger wants an explanation. Sting keeps it short and sweet. He declares it wasn’t him. (I expected him to sing that Shaggy song.) Luger claims he looked him in the eyes. He knows it was him. He doesn’t believe Sting. Sting says, “If you don’t believe it, so be it. I’ll see you in a while.” Sting leaves, so Ric calls Luger a lean, mean wrestling machine. He says it’s time to walk down the aisle. (I have two questions. Why did Sting wait six days to say this? And is Lex Luger legally blind? The second question will make more sense in a moment.)
War Games Match: (nWo) Hollywood Hogan, Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, & ???? (w/ Ted DiBiase) vs. (WCW) Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Lex Luger, & ????
Notes: Michael Buffer introduces the match. He says the fourth man for both teams is a mystery. A coin-toss will determine who gets the one-man advantage in the second round. The toss happens in the back. Also, both teams remain backstage until it’s time to enter the bout. They did this to hide the mystery. The kayfabe explanation is they didn’t want the teams fighting around the ring. The first two men are Arn Anderson and Scott Hall. Also, Nick Patrick is the ref for this match. For once, the official is inside the cage.
The Match: Hall and Anderson ram each other into the wall and trade punches. Arn then gives Hall suplexes and a spinebuster. He also puts Scott in a sleeper hold and a Half Crab. Then the nWo wins the coin-toss and Nash enters the fray. The Outsiders double-team Arn and Nash nails Snake Eyes. Luger has enough. He jumps the gun to enter the bout. Lex hands out clotheslines and forearms. All four men brawl until Hogan joins them. Arn hits Nash with a DDT before Luger & Anderson clubber Hogan. But the nWo use the numbers advantage to gain control. Hogan takes Arn to the second ring and drops elbows. The fans chant for Flair. They get their wish. Ric arrives and taunts Hogan until he fights him. Ric pulls out brass knuckles and uses low-blows. Every member of the nWo receives a ball shot. Then Ric puts Hogan in the Figure Four. But the nWo’s final member enters the cage. It’s—Sting? (The fans recognize he’s a fake and chant we want Sting. WCW cuts to wide shots to hide the deception.) The fake Sting nails some Stinger Splashes while the commentators lament this turn of events. Nash then gingerly gives Luger a powerbomb. (They almost have a Sid/Pillman situation.) But the countdown ends and WCW’s final participant appears. It’s—Sting!
The real Sting confronts the impostor. (Nick Patrick has an amazing expression on his face!) Sting attacks all members of the nWo. He nails them with Stinger Splashes and facebusters. Then Sting turns to Luger and says, “Is that good enough for you? Is that proof enough?” Sting then flips off his teammates and leaves the match! The nWo pounces on Lex. Hogan nails the big boot and the leg drop. Next, the fake Sting puts Luger in a Scorpion Deathlock. Hogan adds a front facelock to the mix. Lex has no choice but to submit.
Thoughts: I loved the storytelling of this bout. The crowd was hot for it. The action dragged at times, but the second half was great. This was one of the better War Games I’ve covered. Now, the story almost falls apart if you look at it too closely. How could Luger confuse the fake Sting (Jeff Farmer/Cobra) for his best friend? Why didn’t Sting contact WCW sooner? However, I like where the story goes from here. It’s wrestling. You can excuse a bit of silliness. This was an enjoyable and memorable main event either way.
Winners: The nWo (18:15)
The nWo continues attacking everyone while the cage raises. Luger crawls down the aisle and calls for Sting. Hogan attacks him. The Horsemen fight with The Outsiders and then Savage arrives. He takes Hogan back to the ring. Hogan backs off, but it’s a trap. The Giant attacks Randy. The Outsiders join them and The Giant gives Savage a chokeslam. Miss Elizabeth has enough. She runs to the ring and protects Randy. She begs Hogan to stop. Hogan spray paints the nWo letters on her back. Hogan says Savage and Liz once pledged until death do us part. He will give them their wish. He then spits on Liz. The fans throw trash and chant Hogan sucks. Hogan blows them a kiss. The nWo then spray paints nWo on Savage’s back. The Giant jokes he’s the greatest artist in the world and gives Savage another chokeslam.
The commentators call it disgusting. Heenan says neither Luger nor Savage will be the same. They beg someone to help Savage and Liz. However, the nWo storms the announce table. Hogan brings a sign that says, “This is nWo country.” The commentators scatter. Hogan calls Dusty Daydream Believer. The Giant says their message is brought to us by the Ric Flair retirement fund. (He tries saying that. He has trouble with his mic.) Ted DiBiase then says WCW must honor their demands. Everyone poses for the camera while the officials help Savage and Liz to the back.
The opener was solid.
Konnan/Juvi was a fun mess.
Benoit/Jericho was great.
The cruiser match was strong.
The main event told a good story.
The overall storytelling was well done.
The crowd’s inconsistent reactions.
Almost no Mean Gene.
Performer of the Night:
I’m giving it to Chris Jericho. This was his PPV debut. He had a chance to shine and took it. It was a strong showing, despite the crowd reaction.
This was another strong PPV. None of the matches were bad. The storytelling was great. It had memorable moments. The only downside was the crowd. Their apathy toward some matches brought it down a notch. But it’s not enough to ruin it. WCW was on a roll in the second half of ’96.
Thank you for reading. My next review is the WWF’s In Your House: Mind Games. Look for it next Sunday!
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