Thursday, 30 November 2017

PPV REVIEW - WCW Superbrawl VII

WCW Superbrawl VII Review - Event Poster
February 23, 1997,
The Cow Palace, San Francisco, California.

Though we often poke fun at WCW's tendency to declare - via lead announcer Tony Schiavone- that every show was 'The Biggest Night in the History of Our Sport' and every main event 'The Biggest Main Event Ever In The Whole Wide Universe,' you do have to hand it to them: 

They really did go all out to back up their claims.

Such was the case tonight, as the company presented the hotly anticipated rematch between nWo leader and World Heavyweight Champion Hollywood Hulk Hogan, and his arch-nemesis, Rowdy Roddy Piper.

For those of you just catching up, Piper had put Hogan to sleep in the main event of WCW Starrcade 1996, earning himself a shot at the Big Gold Belt.

If you ignore the ridiculous story where he holed himself up in Alcatraz for a week, WCW had crated a serious big-time fight feel coming into Superbrawl 7.

Would the show live up to the hype? Let's head to The Cow Palace in San Francisco to find out:

Roddy Piper is Released from Alcatraz 

WCW Superbrawl VII Review - Roddy Piper was released from Alcatraz
Remember that time Rowdy Roddy Piper locked himself away in Alcatraz for a week to prepare for a pro wrestling match against Hulk Hogan?

That match was tonight, and the past seven days has seen Piper locked up, growing more and more insane in the process.

Tonight, Superbrawl VII began with Piper being released from what he called 'hell' and taking a boat towards dry land, shouting like a lunatic en route.

I'm saying nothing about whether 'Piper in Alcatraz' was a good idea or not, but it made an interesting start to the show.

From there, we got our typical welcome from Tony Schiavone and his colleagues, Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan and The American Dream Dusty Rhodes.

The three talked about the big main event before giving us the back story to tonight's opening contest.

World Championship Wrestling Cruiserweight Championship
WCW Cruiserweight Champion Dean Malenko vs. Syxx 

WCW Superbrawl VII Review - Syxx beat Dean Malenko for the cruiserweight title
That story took us back to Starrcade 96, when Eddie Guerrero won the vacant US title in a tournament final.

If you recall, Syxx had run out afterwards to steal the title, only for Guerrero to beat him in an awesome ladder match at the otherwise terrible nWo Souled Out show back in January.

Trying his luck a second time, Syxx this time stole

Dean Malenko's Cruiserweight title, and also tried to make off with the US belt again before Guerrero stopped him.

Tonight, Malenko would look to get his belt back from a man trained by Dean's own father, Borris Malenko.

The match, though it may not have been quite as good as it could have been, was a perfectly acceptable opener between two talented performers.

After plenty of back-and-forth action, Syxx looked to use the Cruiserweight title as a weapon, only for Eddie Guerrero to run out and stop him.

A tug of war ensued which the referee broke up, in doing so turning his attention away from the combatants so that Syxx could waffle his opponent with the strap and win his first singles title in one of the Big 2.
Your Winner and New WCW Cruiserweight Champion: Syxx

WCW Superbrawl VII Review - Mean Gene interviews Diamond Dallas Page
Cutting to the locker room, Mean Gene Okerlund told us to call 1-900-909-9900 to find out which major WCW superstar he saw having breakfast with the nWo that morning.

Speaking of The New World Order, one of them would be facing Diamond Dallas Page tonight, though Page hadn't been told who his actual opponent will be.

Gene welcomed him as his first guest of the evening to run through the possibilities, finally deducing that Buff Bagwell was a real possibility.

By coincidence, at exactly the same time, Gene got word on his head set that Buff would indeed face DDP, who promised to Diamond Cutter the former American Male before storming off to end what was a solid promo.

   

Six Man Tag
Konnan, La Parka, Vilano IV vs. Juventud Guerrera, Ciclope, Super Calo

There was no backstory and no intense rivalry behind this lucha libre style trios match, but that was perfectly OK.

WCW Superbrawl VII Review - Konnan fought in a six man Lucha Libre match
Rather than progressing a storyline, this was a pure time filler, and as time fillers go, it was a rather fun one.

OK, so this one was not the kind of classic we'd see from other AAA imports like Rey Mysterio Jr. and Eddie Guerrero, and with Ciclope botching a moonsault to the outside so badly that he nearly Lille's himself, it had no chance of ever coming close.

But there were some entertaining spots here, and I find it hard to believe that anybody could watch this one and not find it fun to watch.

In the end, Konnan threw Juventud Guerrera about 10,000 million feet in the air and flattened him to win the match for his side.
Your Winners: Konnan, La Parka, Vilano IV. 

From there, it was straight back to the runt for our next match.

World Championship Wrestling World Television Championship
WCW Cruiserweight Champion Prince Iaukea vs. Rey Mysterio Jr. 


WCW Superbrawl VII Review - Prince Iuakea defended the TV title against Rey Mysterio
Having to really fight my autocorrect here, it insists I refer to the Champion as Prince Ikea, but obviously I'm not going to.

The story here was that the Prince had gone into a TV title match against then-champion Steven Regal as an underdog, but shocked everybody by winning the match, and the title.

Regal had blamed Rey Mysterio for the loss (what Rey did, I'm not sure, I'm just repeating what Tony Schiavone said), and somehow that meant we had Mysterio as Prince Iuakea's first major title defence.

I've read a lot of criticism of this match but honestly can't understand it.

Despite what you've read elsewhere, this was a perfectly good match which -whilst not a classic- certainly delivered value for money.

Towards the end, Regal came out to distract Mysterio in retaliation for the masked luchadore costing him the title.

Prince Iaukea got the win, but that was only half of the story.
Your Winner and Still WCW Television Champion: Prince Iaukea. 

Admittedly, this is where things started to get dumb.

After realising that his victory was tainted, Iaukea, being the good sport he was, actually offered Rey Mysterio his title.

Why he didn't offer him a rematch, or even a restart is beyond me, and apparently beyond the announcers, who joked that this was the first time nobody actually wanted a title, because Rey wouldn't accept it like that either.

The Giant is Calm

WCW Superbrawl VII Review - The Giant cuts a backstage promo
Backstage, Mean Gene once again urged us to call the hotline before introducing his next guest, The Giant.

The big man would be going up against The Outsiders for the Tag Team titles by himself tonight since Eric Bischoff had ruled his original partner, Lex Luger, unfit to wrestle.

The Giant didn't care about that, nor did he care about the mindgames his former team mates in the nWo had been playing with him.

In another solid promo, the former champion told us he was calm, he was ready, and he would destroy Kevin Nash and Scott Hall tonight.

Buff Bagwell vs. Diamond Dallas Page 

At the previous month's nWo Souled Out, Buff Bagwell had offered Diamond Dallas Page one last opportunity to join the nWo.

Page had responded by Diamond Cuttering the hell out of the nWo B-Team, effectively cementing his face turn in the process and setting up a new rivalry with Bagwell.

WCW Superbrawl VII Review - Buff Bagwell faced DDPSay what you will about the former American Male, he was both effective and entertaining as the arrogant, narcissistic heel, whilst Page himself was over as hell with the San Francisco crowd.

Unfortunately, neither of these made for that good of a match.

The sole highlight came when Buff shoved referee Scott Dickinson, only for the ref to shove back and verbally berate Buff until he backed down in the corner.

If that sounds familiar, it's because Earl Hebner had only just started to do that very same gimmick at the last two WWF pay per views.

After that, more uninspired back and forth followed until DDP hit the Diamond Cutter. Just when it looked like he was going to win, Syxx led the nWo B-Team to the rescue and Page hightailed it through the crowd.
Your Winner via DQ: Diamond Dallas Page 

Afterwards, Tony Schiavone told us about some guy named Keith who had won a PlayStation competition to be at the event. They put the camera on poor Keith for so long that he had no idea what to do with himself. He'd give us a 'yeah! Woo!' then look away and turn back, only to realise the  camera was still on him and give us a 'um...yeah!'

It was awkward. Poor guy.

World Championship Wrestling United States Championship
WCW United States Champion Eddie Guerrero vs. Chris Jericho 

WCW Superbrawl VII Review - Chris Jericho challenged Eddie Guerrero for the US title
This was a shame, because both men really worked hard to deliver a great match that ultimately did nothing to excite the live audience.

In a different time, this one would have gone down well, but tonight it simply fell flat, ending when Eddie Guerrero rolled up Chris Jericho for the three count to retain his title.
Your Winner and Still WCW Cruiserweight Champion: Eddie Guerrero 

Post match, Jericho looked visibly pissed at the loss and even argued with the referee. However, this would only serve to be the most subtlest of teases at an eventual heel turn, as he did at least shake hands with Guerrero and congratulate him on the match.

Triangle Tag Team match
The Faces of Fear (Meng & Barbarian) vs. The Public Enemy (Flyboy Rocco Rock & Johnny Grunge) vs. Harlem Heat (Booker T & Stevie Ray, w/ Sister Sherri)

WCW Superbrawl VII Review - Public Enemy faced Harlem Heart and Faces of Fear
As the Faces of Fear made their entrance (sans Jimmy Hart), Tony Schiavone reminded us that this was supposed to be a four way match until The Outsiders ran over The Steiner Brothers on Nitro.

That took Rick and Scott out of the equation and made this a triangle match where a title shot was not on the line.

The lack of a title shot (or 'opportunity' if you will, pal) didn't seem to matter to either of these three teams, who tore the hell out of each other in a short, passable match.

The Faces of Fear - who, I believe, were a far better team than many gave them credit for- were the stars here, doing most of the work before Public Enemy stole the win.
Your Winners: Public Enemy 

They must have been paying Mean Gene per-interview tonight, because once again we skipped the 'tween-match hotline shilling and went straight to our next match.

If Jarrett Wins, He Joins The Four Horsemen
Jeff Jarrett vs. Steve 'Mongo' McMichael (w/ Debra McMichael) 

WCW Superbrawl 7 - Debra McMichael wanted Jeff Jarrett in the Four Horsemen
Steve McMichael's wife, Debra McMichael had been campaigning ardently to get Jeff Jarrett into the Four Horsemen. Tonight, if the former WWF Intercontinental Champion could beat her husband, he would earn that spot.

This was the set-up for what turned out to be one of the best matches Steve McMichael would ever have in his career.

Look, I'm not saying it was great or anything, but for what it was, it was certainly very good.

Jarrett made McMichael look awesome before finally beating him after Debra not-so-accidentally passed him Mongo's steel briefcase:

One shot to the head later, and this one was over.
Your Winner: Jeff Jarrett 

Afterwards, Jarrett seemingly ignored Debra and strutted backstage boasting about his big win.

Talk about ungrateful.

San Francisco Death Match
The Taskmaster (w/ Jimmy Hart and Jacqueline) vs. Chris Benoit (w/ Woman) 

WCW Superbrawl VII review - Kevin Sullivan and Chris Benoit brawled backstage
As the two competitors made their way out, Tony Schiavone told us that a San Francisco Death Match was basically your standard no DQ match.

Confusingly, Woman and Jacqueline were then strapped together and begun whipping each other whilst Chris Benoit and The Taskmaster did their usual brawling routine.

As the show switched back and forth between the men and the women, not to mention occasionally going to that horrible split screen WCW loved to use whenever they could, it was obvious that this was nothing more than a disappointing mess.

At The Great American Bash 1996, these two had put on one of the most entertaining matches of the year in a similar no-holds-barred, falls-count-anywhere that was as wild as it was violent.

Tonight, this writer expected , as I'm sure many who were watching at the time did, to see the same kind of deal.

Instead, we got a poor man's imitation of ECW which ended when Benoit put Sullivan on a table, only for Jacqueline to lie on top of her man in order to protect him.

Benoit didn't care and dove off anyway, then pinned both Jackie and Sullivan beneath the table.
Your Winner: Chris Benoit

In order to really sell this as a big deal, Benoit, Jacqueline, and Sullivan all lay comatose in the ring for half an eternity whilst Paul Orndorff, Terry Taylor, and, randomly, Lee Marshall all took turns at coming to the ring and yelling at nobody in particular.

A long while later, the three were stretchered off as the show cut to a promo in which Hugh Morrus told us how crazy Uncensored 1996 was going to be.

World Championship Wrestling World Tag Team Championship
WCW World Tag Team Champions The Outsiders (Scott Hall & Kevin Nash w/ Syxx) vs. The Giant  

WCW Superbrawl VII review - Scott Hall & Kevin Nash faced The Giant
At the start of this one, Scott Hall and Syxx came out wearing t-shirts promoting the Mexican Promo Azteca promotion. Dusty misread this and somehow thought it said 'Alcatraz,' his logic being that The Outsiders were so worried about Roddy Piper coming out of Alcatraz to face Hulk Hogan that they decided to wear t-shirts about it.

Anyway, the bout itself was fine - nothing terrible, nothing spectacular, just fine.

After holding his own against the nWo for a few minutes, The Giant was rescued by his original partner Lex Luger, who bust in with a torture rack to which Kevin Nash submitted.

After the bell, The Giant chokeslammed Scott Hall, pinned him, and had the referee count to three, just to be sure that he was definitely responsible for winning the titles.
Your Winners and New WCW Tag Team Champions: The Giant and Lex Luger                                  
Luger and The Giant celebrated, but their reign would be short lived.

Just as he had done after Hall and Nash lost the titles to The Steiner Brothers at WCW/nWo Souled Out 1997, Eric Bischoff vetoed the win and gave the belts back to The Outsiders the following night.

Wasting no time, it was finally on to our main event.

World Championship Wrestling World Heavyweight Championship
WCW World Heavyweight Champion Hollywood Hulk Hogan (w/ Ted Dibiase and Vincent) vs. Rowdy Roddy Piper

WCW Superbrawl VII review - Randy Savage watches Hulk Hogan vs. Roddy Piper
The first part of this Mach was actually fun in an old-school, less-is-more sort of way, with Piper finally unleashing all that pent-up Alcatraz insanity on Hogan.

When the champ took over however, we ended up with a dull bear hug spot that lasted about two decades and literally nearly sent this writer to sleep.

At one point, Macho Man Randy Savage came out to take a look whilst Sting, who Savage had been palling around with since his return to World Championship Wrestling, came with but encouraged him to leave the match alone.

Macho would have none of that, and instead wandered to the ring, where he stood and watched Roddy Piper clearly and cleanly win the match -and the title- via sleeper.

All was not as it seemed however. In one of the most confusing finishes ever, we were told that Hogan had his foot under the ropes (I've read reports that said Savage put his feet there, but if he did, it was a blink-and-you'll-Miss-it kinda deal.

What Savage did do, was hand Hogan some brass knuckles. Hogan hit Piper with them, and 3 seconds later, this dumb piece of crap was over.
Your Winner and Still WCW World Heavyweight Champion: Hollywood Hulk Hogan

After the match, Randy Savage, who had been beaten up and humiliated for months by the nWo, revealed that he had finally joined them by assisting Hogan in a post-match beatdown of Piper.

   


So, did Superbrawl VII live up to the 'Greatest Night in the History of Our Sport' tag?

Not exactly.

Whilst there was nothing particularly terrible about this show, there was nothing especially spectacular either.

The only thing that really, really gets me about this show is Randy Savage's bizare heel turn.

After Hogan turned heel, there was no bigger enemy of the nWo than Randy Savage, and that includes Sting.

Savage was beaten down, humiliated, and blackballed from WCW, and then one day just shrugged his shoulders and went 'Oh well, if you can't beat em, join em?' yeah, that's dumb.

Anyway, thanks for reading. Next time, over the next few weeks we'll be looking at WCW Uncensored 1997 and WWF Wrestlemania 13. Be the first to catch the latest Retro Pro Wrestling reviews by following on Facebook or Twitter @RetroPWrestling.



1997 events reviewed so far:

  1. WWF - Royal Rumble 1997
  2. WCW - Souled Out 1997
  3. WWF - In Your House 13: Final Four 

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Retro Pro Wrestling

New reviews of classic WWF/WWE events recalling every moment from Wrestlemania 1 - 30. You'll also find reviews of WCW, ECW, TNA and the occasional indie event, along with a look at old school magazines, merchandise and more.