Mega Powers Running Wild!

The legendary 'Macho man' Randy Savage teams up with 'The Immortal' Hulk Hogan to take on Ted Dibiase and Andre The Giant in the first ever WWF Summerslam!

Shawn Micahels vs. Mankind

The Heartbreak Kid defends the WWF Championship against Mankind in a thrilling main event at WWF In Your House: Mind Games.

The Birth of the nWo

From Hulk Hogan's shocking turn at WCW Bash at the Beach 1996 to the addition of Ted Dibiase, THe Giant Syxx and more, relive the very beginning of the New World Order.

Austin 3:16 Says I Just Kicked Your Ass

It's one of the most famous promos of all time; Stone Cold Steve Austin wins the 1996 King of The Ring and serves notice on all the WWF superstars. Check it out in our complete review

Wrestlemania 12 Review

The boyhood dream comes true as Shawn Michaels battles champion Bret 'The Hitman' Hart in a classic 1-hour iron man match. Plus, Diesel vs. Undertaker and more.

WCW Fall Brawl 1996 Review

Was Sting in cahoots with the New World Order? Would Lex Luger be able to get along with the Four Horsemen as they faced the nWo in War Games? Find out in this review

Friday, 29 April 2022

PPV REVIEW: WWE Backlash 2003

WWE Backlash 2003 - Event poster
April 27, 2003, 
Worcester Centrum, Worcester, Massachusetts

The weeks leading into WWE Backlash 2003 saw three major names make their presence felt in World Wrestling Entertainment.

First, Rowdy Roddy Piper had put in a cameo appearance at Wrestlemania 19 and was now back working for the company for the first time since 1996, this time as a manager. 

Then, on the first post-'Mania Smackdown, Sable had returned to the company despite having filed a lawsuit against them following her exit during the Attitude Era.

Really though, the biggest debut of them all was Bill Goldberg.

One of WCW's best home-grown superstars, the man who had been famous for his undefeated streak, limited matches, and awesome entrance hadn't been seen since WCW Sin in 2001, but now that his Turner contract had finally expired, he was back in professional wrestling.

Tonight, here at Backlash, it was Goldberg's in-ring debut.

Would he be able to recapture the magic of his WCW days? 

Let's head down to Worcester, Massachusets to find out.

Goldberg Has Done Nothing

WWE Backlash 2003 Review - King and Coach called the action

Our opening video focused on tonight’s main event match between The Rock and Goldberg.

On one side, we had clips of Bill running rampant in WCW during his undefeated streak with commentary soundbites from Tony Schiavone and Bobby Heenan.

On the other side, we had The Rock dismissing the streak, and Goldberg himself, by saying that the former WCW champion had done nothing while he, The Rock, had done it all.

The video package was well done, sure, but I can’t help but feel like repeatedly telling there world that “Bill Goldberg has done nothing” wasn’t the best way to make him seem like a credible challenger for Rock.

Still, it was really cool to hear Schiavone and Heenan again.

Anyway, with the video over, we got the usual pyro followed by a brief introduction from announcers Jonathan Coachman and Jerry “The King” Lawler.

The duo then sent it to Smackdown announce team Michael Cole and Tazz for our opening contest.

WWE Tag Team Championship
WWE Tag Team Champions Team Angle (Shelton Benjamin & Charlie Haas) vs. Los Guerreros (Eddie & Chavo Guerrero)

With their fearless leader, Kurt Angle, currently out of action due to having neck surgery, Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas paid tribute to the Olympic Gold Medalist by carrying his portrait -adorned with gold medals- down to the ring and dedicating the whole match to him.

WWE Backlash 2003 Review - Charlie Haas puts a hurting on Eddie Guerrero

Unsurprisingly, the duo did Angle proud with a great match against challengers Eddie Guerrero and Chavo Guerrero Jr.

While it wasn’t the greatest tag match of all time or even the best match we’d ever see between these two teams, it was still a solid effort that only got better the longer the match went on.

After a very enjoyable opener, Chavo went to suplex Charlie, only for Shelton to hook the challenger’s leg on the outside.

Haas fell on top of his opponent, Benjamin held the leg down, and Team Angle continued to reign supreme.
Your Winners and Still WWE Tag Team Champions: Team Angle

Post-match, the tag champs embraced Kurt’s portrait, only for Chavo to launch himself over the ropes -with an assist from Uncle Eddie- and onto the champs.

The Guerreros then stole the title belts and made their way backstage where they escaped the arena in a pimped-out green lowrider.

From the opening bell it the match to the moment Eddie and Chavo left the venue, this whole thing was a lot of fun.

Test is a Creep

Backstage, Torrie Wilson warned pervy sex pest Test to stop calling her and trying to hook up with her, reminding him that she was friends with his girlfriend, Stacy Kiebler.

WWE Backlash 2003 Review - Torrie Wilson is unhappy with Test's flirting

Blinded by his own arrogance, the star claimed that Torrie’s Playboy shoot told him that she wanted him.

The blonde beauty then tried to leave, but in a moment that aged really badly, Test grabbed his arm and forced a kiss on her because sexual assault equals entertainment apparently.

Ouch, that was uncomfortable to watch.

Anyway, as Torrie freed herself from the clutches of Test, the recently-returned Sable appeared in a doorway and smirked, her plan to cause problems for Wilson apparently paying off big time.

For those keeping score of these kind of things, this was Sable’s first PPV appearance since No Mercy UK in 1999.

Sean O’Haire (w/ Rowdy Roddy Piper) vs. Rikishi

WWE Backlash 2003 Review - Rowdy Roddy Piper & Sean O' Haire

Rowdy Roddy Piper had returned at Wrestlemania 19, getting involved in the Hulk Hogan/Vince McMahon match.

Since then, he’d taken Sean O’Haire under his wing as the two entered into a feud with Rikishi.

The story was built around Piper planting ‘Kishi with a coconut, a throwback to the time he did the same thing in that legendary angle with Superfly Jimmy Snuka.

Before the bell, Piper came out solo carrying a basket of coconuts and greeted the crowd before introducing his protege who, in this writer’s opinion, looked like a legit badass.

The majority of the match was inoffensive but also uninteresting, and I was ready to write it off altogether until both combatants took each other out with big kicks.

This gave Piper -who had been trying to get involved from the opening bell- a chance to get in the ring ready to coconut-blast (not a euphemism) the Samoan for a second time.

Unfortunately, he failed.

Big ‘Kish got hold of the coconut and took out Piper, much to the delight of the live audience, but then succumbed to O’Haire’s finish.

The first part of the match was nothing, but the finish was at least reasonably entertaining.
Your Winner: Sean O’Haire.

Out in the back, sh*t-stirrer Sable told Stacy Kiebler that she had seen Torrie Wilson kissing Test.

WWE Backlash 2003 Review - Sable tells Stacy Keibler about Test

An irate Stacy stormed off as cameras cut to World Tag Team Champions Kane and Rob Van Dam.

The usually calm RVD was fraught with worry about Chief Morley appointing himself as the special referee for their title defence against The Dudleyz and didn’t see how he and Kane could possibly win with Morley calling the shots.

WWE Backlash 2003 Review - Kane & Rob Van Dam

Thankfully, The Big Red Machine had a solution.

No, he didn’t suggest Rob go roll one up and chill out. Instead, he merely insisted that if the duo were going down, they were going to take Morley and The Dudleyz with them.

WWE World Tag Team Championship
WWE World Tag Team Champions Kane & Rob Van Dam vs. The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray & D’Von Dudley)

As the participants made their way to the ring, Coach told us that Morley had made himself the official because he didn’t trust Bubba Ray & D’Von to get the job done due to the challengers having some dissension between them.

This was despite the fact that the duo had only reunited five months earlier at Survivor Series 2002.

The match got underway and was solid if unspectacular until Morley inevitably began getting involved in the action.

He low-blowed Kane, but when he went to clothesline RVD, he accidentally struck Bubba Ray instead.

Naturally, this raised the ire of D’Von, who proceeded to lay waste to the former Val Venis until Lance Storm randomly ran in.

Storm did nothing but get his ass handed to him and chaos reigned supreme until the champs took out the Dudleyz and a second official ran in to count the fall.

The ending was bedlam, but the rest of the match was nothing out of the ordinary.
Your Winners and Still World Tag Team Champions: Kane & RVD

Backstage, Stacy Kiebler confronted Torrie Wilson about her kissing Test and proceeded to attack her. The entire women’s roster tried to break up the attack and a cat randomly ran across the screen.

I’ve never seen the TV shows from around this time. Did one of the female wrestlers have a cat as part of their gimmick or what?

It also strikes me as silly that the whole Test/Torrie incident was recorded and it would have taken two seconds for somebody to say “Hey, Stacy, watch this!” But then I guess that would be too logical for a pro wrestling show.

WWE Women’s Championship
WWE Women’s Champion Trish Stratus vs. Jazz (w/ Theodore Long)

Prior to the bell, Jazz’s new manager, Theodore Long, took to the microphone to proclaim that tonight was all about vindication for Jazz and that she would undoubtedly become the next women’s champion.

WWE Backlash 2003 Review - Teddy Long and Jazz

True to Teddy’s word, the challenger emerged triumphant after a decent match.

Arguably better than their last PPV bout at the 2002 Royal Rumble, this wasn’t the most amazing thing you’ll ever see, but both women performed well and it certainly didn’t suck.

After a good effort, Jazz caught the champion off guard with a roll-up to capture the title.
Your Winner and New WWE Women’s Champion: Jazz

Backstage, former nWo teammates Shawn Michaels, Booker T, and Kevin Nash reassured one another that they were all ready to take on their opponents in tonight’s triple threat match.

WWE Backlash 2003 Review - Kevin Nash, Booker T, and Shawn Michaels prepare for their upcoming match

In a cool nod to his earlier run with the company, Nash had the words “Big Daddy” emblazoned on his top in Diesel-style writing.

The Big Show vs. Rey Mysterio

Rey Mysterio had recently embarrassed The Big Show on a number of occasions leading to tonight’s match.

WWE Backlash 2003 Review - Rey Mysterio faced The Big Show

A short but entertaining game of cat and mouse, this one saw Mysterio use his speed, cunning, and a well-placed chair shot to constantly get the better of his much larger opponent.

The former Cruiserweight champion even took down his rival with a trio of 619s, first to the gut, then the legs, then finally to the noggin.

However, when he attempted a West Coast Pop, the angry giant caught his opponent in mid-air and chokeslammed him straight to the seventh dimension of Hades.

It was only a couple of minutes long, if that, but these two one-time WCW stars told a good story and entertained the best they could.
Your Winner: The Big Show

Afterwards, they sold the brutality of the match-winning clothesline by having EMTs come out and place Mysterio on a stretcher.

Before he could be carted off though, Show returned, picked up the board that Rey was strapped to, and swung it at the ring post like he was a professional baseball player swinging for a home run.

It was a cool, unexpected moment that put Show over as a monster while also giving us a unique visual.

The Boys are Ready

Backstage, Lillian Garcia interviewed the trio of Chris Jericho, Nature Boy Ric Flair, and World Heavyweight Champion Triple H.

WWE Backlash 2003 Review - Lillian Garcia interviews Chris Jericho, Ric Flair, and Triple H

The three team mates discussed their upcoming match with HBK, Nash, and Booker, with each man addressing a particular opponent.

Jericho was ready to make Michaels tap to the Walls of Jericho following their classic outing at ‘Mania ‘19, 16 time champion Ric Flair had a problem with Booker boasting about being a five-time, five-time, five-time dubya see dubya champion while The Game had his sights set on rival Kevin Nash.

This was a compelling promo which got this fan excited about the upcoming six man.

Across the way, Torrie Wilson threw Stacy into a wall causing a big box to fall and land on the leggy diva’s head.

This prompted Scott Steiner to appear and show a rare moment of compassion as he picked up Stacy and began carrying her towards the medical room.

Before he could get there, however, the two were interrupted by Test, who was irate at seeing Stacy and Big Poppa Pump together.

Hmm, I wonder if a feud was a-brewin’?

WWE Championship
WWE Champion Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena

It’s interesting to see these two go at it for the title so early in their career given the kind of megastar status the two would enjoy a decade later.

WWE Backlash 2003 Review - Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena

John Cena was still a fully-fledged heel here and, to prove it, he declared that he would be a better champion than Bruno Sammartino while also wearing a New York Yankees shirt because, in his words, his home state of Massachusetts sucked.

It was effective work from The Doctor of Thuganomics, really making the crowd hate him to the point that they were ready to see babyface champion Brock Lesnar kick his ass all the way back to New York.

Despite being the next big superstar, it was clear that John Cena’s time wasn’t now and the ending of this match was never in doubt.

While the predictable outcome did put a slight dampener on things, this was nonetheless a good effort from both me , with the challenger taking the fight to his larger opponent and proving that he belonged in the upper echelons of the WWE hierarchy.

Sure, this wasn’t the greatest match of all time. It wasn’t even the best match Cena and Lesnar would have together, but the two young stars gave a good account of themselves before a battered and bloody Brock put his opponent away with a single F5.

Honestly, I like that finish a lot.

As we moved further and further into an era when finishing moves have become meaningless given how many times every one kicks out of them, it was nice to see that just one F5 was enough to put away a man who had really seemed to take Lesnar to his limits
Your Winner and Still WWE Champion: Brock Lesnar

Prior to the next match, we got a look back at Kevin Nash returning to action and saving Shawn Michaels from a beat down at the hands of Triple H, Ric Flair, and Chris Jericho.

The Game had told Nash that he needed to choose between aligning with him or HBK.

Naturally, Nash sided with his former Two Dudes With Attitudes partner which gave us the build up to tonight’s six man.

Six-Man Tag
Chris Jericho, Nature Boy Ric Flair, and WWE World Heavyweight Champion Triple H vs. Booker T, Shawn Michaels, and Kevin Nash

I won’t lie, Big Daddy Cool Diesel was my hero when I was 11 years-old while HHH, HBK, and Y2J have since become my three all-time favourites, so I was more than a little excited to see them all in one match, especially when Big Kev came out wearing that Big Daddy top with a theme that sounded like a rocked-up version of the classic Diesel theme found on WWF Full Metal.

WWE Backlash 2003 Review - Booker T, Shawn Michaels, and Kevin Nash vs. Chris Jericho, Ric Flair, and Triple H

That theme was certainly better than the lame rehashed theme that Booker would come out to tonight.

What was wrong with the Harlem Heat theme? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

All that aside, this was a fantastic match which was helped in no small part by the fact that the two most consistently capable performers, Shawn Michaels and Chris Jericho, seemed to do most of the work for their respective teams.

That’s not to say that the others didn’t play a part, but it was definitely the two men who stole the show at WM19 who did the same thing here in this match.

After a lengthy match which never once felt boring, all hell broke loose, with Nash and Hunter brawling on the outside while Flair put Michaels in the figure four as Jericho hit his rival with a lionsault.

The King of the World then locked the Heartbreak Kid in a Walls of Jericho, only for Big Sexy to abandon his plans of putting HHH through a table and run to the rescue.

Retro Pro Wrestling’s favourite referee, Nick Patrick, then took a tumble, allowing The Game to take out Nash with a sledgehammer.

Hunter made the cover, Patrick made a miraculous comeback, and one three-count later, this very enjoyable match came to a close.
Your Winners: Chris Jericho, Ric Flair, and Triple H

Prior to the main event, The Rock gave an interview to the lady he called “Giggle Panties,” better known to you and me as Terri Runnels.

WWE Backlash 2003 Review - Terri Runnels interviews The Rock

As he had been since his recent-ish return, Hollywood Rock was positioned as a heel in his feud with Goldberg, but his promo was so damn captivating and entertaining that the crowd couldn’t help but love him.

The Rock vs. Goldberg

Regular readers will know that I’m usually pretty generous with my reviews, but even I can’t deny that this was absolutely dreadful.

WWE Backlash 2003 Review - The Rock vs. Bill Goldberg

In fact, I’d even go as far as to say that this was one of the worst main events of all time.

The Rock came out brimming from ear to ear, a smile of cockiness and arrogance that told you he had no doubt about his ability to overthrow a man the commentary team had done their best to burry before he even came out.

Goldberg finally made his arrival using his same entrance routine from WCW, albeit without Doug Dillinger and his ever-present entourage of rent-a-cops.

Big Bill’s entrance was genuinely cool, but that was the last good thing in the entire match.

For the first few minutes, The Rock stalled, stalled and stalled some more before finally staring down his opponent.

As all this was going on, Jerry Lawler gave us the line of the night:

I used to be the president of the Bill Goldberg Fan Club but I resigned due to loneliness.

Yeah, I know I just complained about the announcers burying the former WCW star, but that line made me laugh out loud.

The Rock was as entertaining as he could be too, but even his innate charisma and natural talent couldn’t stop this match from absolutely sucking.

It was so dull and so painfully bad that I simply tuned out half way through while the live crowd turned on the babyface Goldberg and began actively booing his every move.

Towards the finish, the “Goldberg Sucks!” Chants became deafening, and though I’ve never thought Bill was as bad as everyone says (wrestling certainly has a place for performers like him), I can’t deny that they were right on this occasion.

Goldberg sucked, and so did this match.

After the better part of 15 minutes, two spears and what Jonathan Coachman called a “Jackhammer Slam,” earned Bill the win and even more boos.
Your Winner: Bill Goldberg

As the show went off the air, The Rock lay dazed and confused in the middle of the ring, perhaps bewildered at how his last match for almost a year had disintegrated into such an absolute shit show.

Honestly, it boggles the mind how the very same company that gave us one of the greatest Wrestlemanias of all time only a few weeks earlier could then go on to deliver such a lackluster PPV at Backlash 2003.

The opening tag match was solid and the six man was better than most people give it credit for, but the rest of the undercard never got better than being decent and that main event was truly one of the most disappointing matches of all time.

Not the worst PPV ever then, but certainly not something you should go out of your way to watch.

Be the first to catch the latest Retro Pro Wrestling reviews by following on FacebookInstagram, or Twitter @RetroPWrestling.

Friday, 22 April 2022

PPV REVIEW: WCW Superbrawl 1

WCW Superbrawl 1 review - Event poster
May 19, 1991
Bayfront Center, St. Petersburg, Florida

Here’s a rarely-discussed piece of wrestling trivia for you:

Superbrawl 1 saw both Scott Hall and Kevin Nash debut new characters in World Championship Wrestling.

Both men had been in the company before, Nash as part of The Master Blasters (last seen, I think, at Halloween Havoc 1990) and Hall as a guy who apparently wrestled alligators.

Tonight, Nash would debut the terrible Oz character that we’ve all been laughing about ever since, while Scott Hall stepped out onto the stage for the first time as The Diamond Studd, displaying the cockiness, confidence, and unbridled charisma that would be such a hallmark of his character for the rest of his career.

The duo would later go on to change the game when they returned to World Championship Wrestling a few years later and started a revolution known as the New World Order, with Hall himself being the first of the two Outsiders to appear.

I mention all this now because I started writing this review during the weekend that Hall was first reported to be on life support, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about how sad I am that The Bad Guy is now no longer with us.

Scott Hall was one of a kind, and though I’ve published my tribute both here on the blog and on the Retro Pro Wrestling Facebook page, I didn’t want to start today’s review without a ten bell salute for one of the all time greats.

Welcome to Superbrawl 1: Return from The Orient

As most WCW shows did around this time, Superbrawl Began with clips of all tonight’s stars doing their thing in the ring, this time shown in between graphics depicting the US and Japanese flags.

WCW Superbrawl 1 review - Brandi Brown sang America The Beautiful

Then, to lend some kind of credibility and legitimacy to tonight’s proceedings, singer Brandi Brown performed America The Beautiful.

She wasn’t bad at all, but this writer was totally distracted by the fact that the WWE Network version of this event is clearly an old VHS tape, complete with all of the squeaks and tracking troubles that such tapes developed when they were old.

WCW Superbrawl 1 review - Dusty Rhodes and Jim Ross called all the action

With that over, Jim Ross and Dusty Rhodes welcomed us to the show, with Rhodes in particular getting very excited about our world title match.

WCW United States Tag Team Championship
The Fabulous Freebirds (Michael ‘P.S’ Hayes & Jimmy ‘Jam’ Garvin w/ Big Daddy Dink) vs. The Young Pistols (Tracy Smothers & Steve Armstrong)

WCW Superbrawl 1 review - The Young Pistols faced The Fabulous Freebirds for the 1,00th time

The US tag titles had been officially declared vacant so that former champion The Steiner Brothers could focus on holding the WCW and IWGP tag belts.

Tonight, they were up for grabs in yet another enjoyable outing for The Freebirds and The Young Pistols.

As usual around this time, Diamond Dallas Page accompanied the trio to the ring and trash-talked on a microphone, taking away the shine on his wrestlers and generally being very annoying.

Seriously, I know it’s tantamount to blasphemy to say anything bad about DDP, and I did enjoy his later work, but I really hated his association with Michael Hayes and Jimmy Garvin.

Thankfully, he didn’t stick around long, leaving the ‘Birds road manager, Big Daddy Dink, to run interference at ringside.

Having seen enough, Steve Armstrong’s brother, Brad, raced to the ring to even the score until referee Bill Alfonso sent Dink packing.

With all outside shenanigans out of the way, the two teams were free to deliver a match which was at least as good as their outings at Clash of the Champions XI and Clash of the Champions XII.

Towards the end, Fonzie got knocked on his arse for the second time in as many PPVs, providing an opportunity for a masked man (whom the announcers identified as Fantasia) to run in and take out the Pistols, giving the win to Hayes & Garvin.
Your Winners and New WCW United States Tag Team Champions: The Fabulous Freebirds

Moving on…

Ricky Morton vs. Dangerous Dan Spivey

WCW Superbrawl 1 review - Dangerous Dan Spivey destroyed Ricky Morton

As squash matches go, this one was actually pretty good.

Ricky Morton came out swinging, only to be overpowered by his larger opponent and dumped on the outside like a bag of crap.

Again, the valiant Morton struck back, and again, he was beaten down and treated like nothing by Dan Spivey.

The big man proceeded to dominate, looking just as impressive in his role of the aggressor as Morton did in his role as Spivey’s happless victim.

Toward the end, Morton mounted a comeback, but then in a weird spot, he bounced off the ropes into Spivey and neither man looked sure of what to
Do so they both just kind of hugged one another.

Not longer after, Big Bad Dan put Ricky out of his misery with a powerbomb and this one was done.
Your Winner: Dan Spivey

WCW Superbrawl 1 review - Tony Schiavone with Tom Zenk and Missy Hyatt

Out on the entrance way, Tony Schiavone stood by with The Z-Man and Missy Hyatt.

First, Zenk told the announcer that despite being off the shelf with injury for the past six weeks, it was still exciting to be on hand for such a “fantastic” night.

Then, Big Bad Tony reminded Missy of the time she went into the men’s locker room and got chased out by Stan Hansen back at WrestleWar’91.

Apparently, that was sooooo funny that WCW had decided to do it again, or rather “the fans” had decided in an online vote that I’m sure was rigged.

“Wildfire” Tommy Rich vs. Nikita Koloff

Nikita Koloff had returned to the company back at WrestleWar, where he’d attacked Lex Luger and vowed to come after Luger’s US title.

WCW Superbrawl 1 review - Nikita Koloff makes his way to the ring to face Tommy Rich

So, naturally, his first PPV match since (I think) Bunkhouse Stampede wasn’t an epic title grudge match against Luger but rather a short, forgettable squash against ‘Wildfire’ Tommy Rich.

I get that part of the story was Koloff being told he had to earn his title shot, but this still seemed like a bit of a wasted opportunity.

There was nothing wrong with this one, it was just kind of bland and pointless.

To the surprise of absolutely no one, Koloff picked up the victory thanks to his trusty Russian Sickle.
Your Winner: Nikita Koloff

On the entranceway, Johnny B. Badd made his PPV debut in an interview with Tony Schiavone.

WCW Superbrawl 1 review - Teddy Long and Johnny B. Badd

His manager, Teddy Long promised that Badd would take out PN News because, despite appearances, Johnny was all man.

Badd agreed, he really was a man, though he also boasted that he was so pretty he should have been born a little girl.

I’m not going to lie, I enjoyed that.

The Johnny B. Badd character would never work in today’s culture (quite rightly), but it was certainly different and Marc Mero played the role with such gusto that I can’t help but appreciate it.

Dustin Rhodes vs. Terrence Taylor (w/ Alexandra York & Mr. Huges)

Jim Ross told us that Dustin Rhodes was so far undefeated in World Championship Wrestling, an achievement that I’m sure had everything to do with merit and nothing at all to do with nepotism.

Meanwhile, Terrence Taylor was in the midst of his own push, as evidenced by the fact that not only did he have manager Alexandra York and bodyguard Mr. Hughes (The Artist Formerly Known as Big Cat) with him, but he also got a special entrance in which the York Foundation Board of Directors (a bunch of extras in suits) waiting for him and Alexandra at the top of the entranceway.

WCW Superbrawl 1 review - Alexandra York leads Terrence Taylor into battle

The match got underway and proved to be a good effort that could have been much better were Dustin Rhodes not still finding his feet as a pro wrestler.

It wasn’t that he was bad. On the contrary, there were many times here when “the natural” looked every bit worthy of the nepotism push he’d been getting, but then there were other times when he’d accidentally stumble or otherwise act a little sloppy.

All in all though, he and Taylor gave us a watchable match with the kind of finish that makes you wonder how dumb pro wrestling referees really are.

Towards the end, Dustin looked to have Taylor finished off, only for Alexandra York to hop up on the ring apron and distract referee Nick Patrick for the next five minutes.

While that was going on, Mr. Hughes hopped up on the apron and waited around for a while until he could grab hold of Rhodes for a Taylor attack.

That worked, but when Hughes went to plant Dusty’s Kid with an International Object, Taylor bore the brunt of the attack instead.

Dustin made the cover, Patrick turned around, and the fall was counted.

It was a perfectly reasonable way to end a match were it not for the fact that it took *ages* to execute.

Indeed, at one point it looked like Taylor went over to Patrick in order to tell him to stay busy while he, Dustin, and Hughes got their act together.

I don’t know if it was Hughes, Rhodes, or Taylor whose timing was off, or if WCW were had planned all along to set a new record for the amount of time it takes to pull off a simple heel interference finish, but the whole thing took so long to pull off it that it was hard to maintain suspension of disbelief.

Seriously, was Nick Patrick such an idiot that he had no problem spending an embarrassingly long time yelling at York (who wasn’t really doing anything except standing there) even though he had a match to call.
Your Winner: Dustin Rhodes

Prior to the next match, Dusty and Jimbo Ross talked about Big Josh bringing live bears to the ring with him.

I love pro wrestling. How can you not with such ridiculous things as live bears?

Black Bart vs. Big Josh

The crowd couldn’t give a single care about Black Bart and greeted him with total silence as he made his way to the ring.

WCW Superbrawl 1 review - Big Josh and his bears

Big Josh (the late, great Matt “Original Doink” Bourne) was overdue to him bringing two live bears to the ring with him. It was a unique gimmick that was guaranteed to be popular and would’ve been fun had those poor bears not looked so utterly miserable.

I know this isn’t the time to get on an anti-animal-cruelty rant, but I definitely felt bad for Big Josh’s captive companions.

Speaking of Josh, he retained the crowd’s support through a match which wasn’t as bad as some people might have you believe, but was far from entertaining.

Let’s put it this way, JR told us that the match wasn’t “the prettiest you’ll ever see,” which was just another way of him calling it “bowling shoe ugly,” and we all know what Ross meant by that.

Anyway, after two or three minutes of meh, Big Josh ran the ropes and finished off his opponent with an Earthquake splash.
Your Winner: Big Josh

As Josh went to the back, Ross and Rhodes decided among themselves that his finisher was called “a big butt drop.”

“Speaking of big butts,” said JR, “here’s another one:”

The Danger Zone with Stan Hansen

WCW Superbrawl 1 review - Paul E. Dangerously interviews Stan 'The Larriat' Hansen

Up next, Paul E. Dangerously hosted an interview segment with Stan Hansen.

In a comical moment, Dangerously tried sucking up to Hansen by wearing his own cowboy hat, only for Hansen to laugh at it because it was made in New York, and then laugh at Heyman for being a work shy yuppie.

The real point of this segment was Hansen bemoaning the fact that nobody had stepped up to fight him tonight. Feeling angry that he didn’t get a match, Big Bad Stan challenged Dustin Rhodes to stop “hiding behind [his] daddy and fight.”

I’m not sure if there was some sort of backstory there which I’m not familiar with, but it did seem like a bit of a random challenge.

Anyway, Hansen stormed off, leaving Dangerously to rag on the state of Florida and then quit his job (as host of The Danger Zone, presumably) due to his microphone not working properly.

Not much happened here, but that was genuinely one of the most entertaining things to have happened at Superbrawl 1 so far.

The Great and Powerful Oz

“Once upon a time there lived a wizard, not the Wizard of Oz, but a great and powerful wizard who ruled over all of Oz,” said one of the most confusing voiceovers of all time as the arena was filled with green light and smoke billowed across the entranceway.

WCW Superbrawl 1 review - Oz is greeted by Dorothy and The Wizard as he makes his debut

At this point, Dorothy appeared with her homies Tin Man, Scarecrow, and the Cowardly Lion.

The three were led up the aisle by the Wizard of Oz (the source of the voice-over) who promised to show them this most magnificent wizard of all.

Naturally, that’s where we got the WCW debut of Oz when Kevin Nash turned up wearing an enormous cape, mask, and wig.

At that point, the creepy, eerie music that had been playing stopped, and Oz began making his way to the ring to a theme that sounded like somebody was trying to play Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust” but couldn’t remember how the main riff ended.

It was goofy, sure, and the whole character has been laughed at for the past three decades, but there’s no denying this was one hell of an elaborate entrance that rivaled -in scale and ambition if not quality- the kind of Super Special Entrances we see at modern Wrestlemanias.

I mean seriously, this was the most extravagant entrance ever seen in WCW -if not all pro wrestling- up to that point in history, but all Jim Ross could talk about was how big Oz was.

“This guy is huge!” He repeated as Nash waded through thick green smoke with the characters from The Wizard of Oz scurrying in front of him. “He’s huge!”

To be fair, JR probably couldn’t think of anything else to say since the Land of Oz didn’t have a football team Nash could’ve played for.

Oz vs. Tim Parker

WCW Superbrawl 1 review - Oz poses after beating Tim "Who's Yo Momma?" Parker

Poor Tim Parker didn’t stand a chance here. With the Wizard (the other one, not Nash) still in the ring, the Big Green Giant picked up Parker, tossed him across the ring, then hit him with an admittedly cool tilt-a-whirl powerbomb that Nash really should’ve kept in his repertoire.

That was all she wrote. The whole match was over in about 25 seconds, making it a good few minutes shorter than the actual entrance.
Your Winner: Oz

Backstage, Missy Hyatt entered the men’s locker room for an interview with her heart set on her main crush, The Z-Man.

Instead, she found Terrence Taylor and began to interview him before heading into the shower looking for Zenk.

Instead, she once again found Stan Hansen, who emerged from a shower drenched in tobacco spit and kicked her out of the lockerroom.

This wasn’t funny at Wrestle War, so why anybody would think it would be funnier a second time is beyond me because it wasn’t.

Taped Fist Match
Flyin’ Brian vs. Barry Windham

This was an excellent match that this writer wishes would have lasted longer.

This feud had been raging since The Four Horsemen attacked Brian Pillman on the eve of WrestleWar ‘91. Pillman had gained a modicum of revenge in that show’s classic War Games match only to get destroyed by Sid, so tonight he was looking to finish the job and get his revenge once and for all.

Alas, he didn’t.

Following a short but brilliantly brutal brawl, Barry Windham hit a huge superplex for the win.
Your Winner: Barry Windham

Up next, Diamond Dallas Page hosted “The Diamond Mine.” This was supposed to be a talk show ala Paul E.’s Danger Zone or Piper’s Pit.

WCW Superbrawl 1 review - Diamond Dallas Page poses with his Diamond Dolls

Instead, it was mostly another opportunity for DDP to yell “good gawd!” a lot and revel in the excess of his own gimmick.

While he was doing all that, Page started by bragging about The Fabulous Freebirds US tag team title victory. This allowed him to segue nicely into talking about tonight’s world tag team title match between champions The Steiner Brothers and challengers Sting and Lex Luger.

It was the latter two who appeared as Dallas’ “guests,” albeit in the form of a pre-recorded promo in which they talked about what good friends they were with Rick and Scott and how it was going to be a tough match for them.

WCW Superbrawl 1 review - Sting and Lex Luger

Back in the arena, DDP claimed Sting & Luger’s promo just wasn’t cutting it, so to make up for it, he was going to introduce a new member of the Diamond Mine, none other than the debuting Diamond Stud.

The Stud looked huge here as he gave the famous toothpick flick that would become such an iconic trademark for the rest of his career.

WCW Superbrawl 1 review - DDP reveals the debut of The Diamond Studd

As the big man flaunted and flexed and Page’s Diamond Dolls stripped him of his leather jacket, Page himself announced that the two of them would be going across the country in search of a “studette” who could serve as Hall’s manager.

Early DDP still annoys me, but that was a good segment because it actually had a purpose beyond giving Page a platform to be loud and obnoxious for the sake of being loud and obnoxious.

Stretcher Match
Sid Vicious vs. El Gigante

Say what you want about his in-ring ability, Sid Vicious had such a powerful presence that he was always super over. Even when playing a heel, the fans seemed to love him, and so did your reviewer, not that this match gave you much to love.

WCW Superbrawl 1 review - El Gigante stares down Sid Vicious

I’ll remind you that this was a stretcher match:

Normally, the rules of such a match are that the only way to win is to place your opponent on a stretcher and wheel him over a line.

At Superbrawl 1, the rules seemed to be “bring a stretcher to the ring and then forget all about it,” because that’s exactly what happened here.

Sid’s opponent, El Gigante, brought the stretcher to the ring and then left it there while the two competitors proceeded to do almost nothing for the next two minutes either.

I’m not kidding either. There was a staredown, some jockeying for position, a teased test of strength which resulted in Sid getting clotheslined to the outside, and that was pretty much it.

Once Sid got back in the ring, he somehow fell prey to Gigante’s claw and was pinned. In a stretcher match.
Your Winner: El Gigante

OK, so you might be thinking maybe this was a version of a stretcher match where you have to pin your opponent and then put him on the stretcher, but no.

That was just a straight singles match where a stretcher just happened to be at ringside.

To be fair, it did come into play when Kevin Sullivan and One Man Gang attacked Gigante after the match, with the latter getting slammed onto it by the big man before picking it up and hitting Gigante over the back with it.

Sullivan blasted Gigante in the face with some kind of powder and whipped him, but the ginormous superstar simply shrugged it off and the two heels scarpered.

Meanwhile, Sid Vicious immediately disappeared and was never heard from or spoken about again.

Quite literally.

After this, Sid was done with WCW, though he would soon show up in the World Wrestling Federation in time to play a prominent role at Summerslam ‘91.

Thunder Doom Cage Match
‘Hacksaw’ Butch Reed vs. Ron Simmons

(Teddy Long must be suspended in a cage over the ring)

WCW Superbrawl 1 review - Butch Reed hurts Ron Simmons

WCW had a Thunderdome catch match back at Halloween Havoc 1989, but this was a grudge match between Ron Simmons and Butch Reed, so obviously, that made it Thunder Doom. To be honest, though, it was just a big standard cage match.

And I do mean bog standard.

The former tag team champions hadn’t yet been given separate entrance themes, so both Reed and Simmons came down to the awesome Doom theme.

So too did Teddy Long, whose role in the match was to be suspended in a shark cage above the ring. Naturally, Long acted completely surprised by this and protested but ended up in the cage anyway.

This gimmick of the heel manager never quite worked for me.

I get suspension of disbelief and all that, but look:

Even in kayfabe, there must have been a point before the match when these heel managers must have agreed to be suspended in the cage otherwise it wouldn’t be advertised as such.

So why do they always act so surprised and appalled by the idea of doing something they must have agreed to?

Anyway, that tangent aside, this was a pretty mediocre match.

The two started with a brawl (which we didn’t get to see due to the cameraman focusing on the referee locking the cage) and then Reed proceeded to beat up his former partner for the majority of the match before Simmons pulled a spine buster out of thin air at promptly won the match.

It was OK, and clearly the two men put a lot of effort in, but it was far from must-see TV.
Your Winner: Ron Simmons

Oh, and incase you were wondering, yes, JR did tell us that Ron Simmon’s jersey had been retired at Florida State.

He told us twice in fact.

Within the first minute.

Before Simmons had even made it to the ring.

I’ve got to be honest with you, as an Englishman who knows nothing about football in the USA, I have no idea what a retired jersey signifies, but Ross clearly thought it was a big deal.

Somebody clearly thought Big Ron was a big deal too because he would get pushed to the moon after this while Butch Reed was pretty much gone.

World Championship Wrestling World Tag Team Championship
WCW World Tag Team Champions The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott Steiner) vs. Sting & WCW US Champion Lex Luger

The Steiners had been on a roll as of late. Their IWGP tag team title match at WCW/NJPW Supershow 1 was an instant classic and this one looked to be much the same way.

Things started with Lex Luger and Rick Steiner exchanging headlocks and holds, the two friends not wanting to go on a full-force attack like they normally would.

Then Steiner ran into Luger and got shoulder-barged down the mat with ferocious might. That one power move caused the whole match to explode, erupting in a maelstrom of hard-hitting offence and non-stop excitement.

Seriously, this was a great match in which friendships were quickly tossed aside in favour of both teams just absolutely battering each other.

In the end, Nikita Koloff ran out to try and attack arch-nemesis Luger but got Sting instead.

The interference allowed Rick & Scott to get the win.
Your Winners and Still WCW Tag Team Champions: The Steiner Brothers

Post-match, Sting ridge backstage to attack Koloff and the two brawled all the way to the outside of the arena.

World Championship Wrestling World Television Championship
WCW TV Champion Arn Anderson vs. Bobby Eaton

WCW Superbrawl 1 review - Arn Anderson tries to snap Bobby Eaton's leg off

Since we last saw Bobby Eaton, he had become a fully-fledged babyface and was all set to challenge for his first singles title in WCW.

The match with Arn Anderson turned out to be fantastic, not just because of the actual wrestling, but more because Anderson and Eaton were such masters of the art of selling.

Seriously, in the opening moments, Eaton interrupted a series of lockups and takedowns with a big right hand which Anderson sold like a pro, his face expressing not just the pain of being socked in the mouth, but the utter surprise and bewilderment at having been socked in the first place.

It was a thing of beauty.

Later, the champion took control and Beautiful Bobby likewise proved himself to be a selling machine, doing a damn fine job of convincing you that Anderson’s continued assault really was putting him in agony.

I’ve never trained to be a pro wrestler so I can’t say this for certain, but I’d like to imagine that if I did, I’d be watching this match for days to learn how to sell.

Anyway, the match wasn’t the fastest or the flashiest, but it was incredibly solid apart from one tiny moment when the challenger was clearly repositioning himself on the mat ready for Arn’s Vader Bomb attempt.

Later, it was Eaton’s turn to hit the top rope ready for the Alabama Jam.

At that point, we got a totally random run in as Barry Windham rushed to the ring to help Anderson but was stopped by Brian Pillman who fought him off before the former US champion could do any damage.

Eaton hit his ‘Jam and made the cover, but WCW being WCW decided to focus on Pillman and Windham racing to the back rather than the match-winning fall.

Other than the run in which contributed nothing but momentary confusion, this was a good match indeed.
Your Winner and New WCW TV Champion: Bobby Eaton

Prior to the main event, Tony Schiavone helped us peek through the dressing room door of Tatsumi Fujinami as his entourage got him psyched up for his world title match against Nature Boy Ric Flair.

As Fujinami left for the ring, his manager, Hiro Matsuda, stopped by to tell Schiavone that the title was definitely coming back to Japan.

World Championship Wrestling World Heavyweight Championship
WCW World Heavyweight Champion Nature Boy Ric Flair vs. IWGP World Heavyweight Champion Tatsumi “The Dragon” Fujinami

WCW Superbrawl 1 review - Ric Flair stares down Tatsumi Fujinami

Putting all the confusion and chaos of the world title scenario out of the way, Flair/Fujinami II was a solid if unspectacular bout.

Fujinami had a few Japanese flower girls scatter petals en route to the ring while Flair was met in the entranceway by his butler, his maid, his cook, and his limousine driver, you know, because he was RICH!

As if to prove it, he took off his Rolex and put it on a silver tray being held by his maid.

The two combatants eventually shook hands (a weird gesture given that Flair was a heel) and kicked up for a match that started very slowly and eventually built up into a good effort.

Many have commented on how the lack of crowd reaction killed this match.

While it’s true that the audience weren’t exactly moved by this one, both wrestlers worked hard regardless, even if they couldn’t quite give us a classic main event.

After a good effort (which naturally saw Flair busted open), the Japanese official took a tumble, allowing Flair to catch Fujinami by surprise in a roll-up so that outside referee Bill Alfonso could make the three count.
Your Winner and Still WCW World Heavyweight Champion: Nature Boy Ric Flair

As Flair made his way to the back, Jim Ross and Dusty Rhodes recalled tonight’s events before signing off with a reminder that we’d next see WCW on PPV at The Great American Bash.

Prior to Scott Hall’s passing, the original introduction to this review talked about how Superbrawl was one of my favourite WCW PPVs and an event I felt should have been held in the same reverence as Starrcade.

In a weird way, I’m almost relieved that I got to rewrite that introduction because Superbrawl 1 was nowhere near to the standard that you’d expect from one of a company’s top flagship events.

The tag team title match between The Steiners and Sting/Luger was awesome, the Eaton/Anderson TV title match was great, and the main event proved that Ric Flair was still better than most even on an off day, but there was a lot of stuff here that just didn’t quite hit the mark.

Still, this was the show that brought Scott Hall one step closer to stardom, and for that, this fan at least will always remember Superbrawl 1 fondly.

Rest easy, Bad Guy.

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.