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.

Post a Comment


  1. Fantasia was actually Brad Armstrong after he got kicked out of the match. Changed his name to badstreet afterwards

  2. Yep :) We'd see him more and more over the coming months after Superbrawl.
    Thanks for reading!