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Well, it was only about five weeks between pay per views for WCW, but a lot had changed in their landscape. After Hog Wild... what a show that was, we also had a Clash Of The Champions event that largely changed nothing, Flair and Hogan in the main event went to a disqualification thanks to (shock-horror) interference from The Outsiders.
In the final week in August Ted DiBiase turned up in the Nitro crowd, counting to four, before counting to five. The implication was he was the fourth, and the fifth would be arriving next week. Believe it or not, WCW weren't entirely sure who the fifth member of the NWO was actually meant to be. Sure, it should've been the 1-2-3 Kid (who was awaiting clearance from the WWF that ended up ruling him out of the pay per view).
But the 123 Kid was hardly a big fillip at the time anyway. Sure, it would pop those who knew that Waltman was friends with Hall and Nash, but for any tangible size of the audience it would likely get an at best "oh, that guy" response. Waltman's introduction on television after the pay per view was more appropriate. But Fall Brawl was a 4 on 4 main event, who was going to be the fourth?
Save a Hail Mary approach for Bret Hart (who, was all but out of contract with the WWF at this point), their plans actually called for The British Bulldog to come in. Bulldog was in contract wranglings with the WWF ever since handing in his notice to stop it auto renewing earlier that year. But once he and Vince McMahon reconciled the company still had no guy.
So, at the beginning of September they turned The Giant and had him become the fourth member. Never mind that Giant had just faced Hogan three weeks earlier at the pay per view, he was added to the group as a big fourth member, tipping the balance of power further away from WCW. Of course, the minute you sit there and try to rationalise the switch the whole thing disintegrates. Go back twelve months and this same pay per view ended up with Giant snapping Hogan's neck. It's a decision that strikes you as something that was made at last minute...
Which is because it was.
This did produce a fresh problem. Giant was the fourth member, but he already had a match at the pay per view. So their second masterstroke was to have Sting turn on his friend Lex Luger six days before the show. That couldn't be right, could it? We're in Winston Salem, North Carolina.
Diamond Dallas Page vs Chavo Guerrero Jr
Not for the last time tonight, the Carolina crowd prefer the more established heel over the newer babyface. The match is fine, but Chavo is so new there's very little drama. Fortunately, he's quite good, there's enough going on to keep us interested. Page lobs Chavo into the second ring, which gets a pop, Page then hits a spinning powerbomb which got another big reaction. Page hits a diamond cutter, Chavo basically landed at a near-vertical angle. Another big pop and Page wins cleanly. Quite good this.
Scott Norton vs Ice Train (w/ Teddy Long) in what is apparently an I Quit/Submission match
Their outing at Hog Wild wasn't really long enough to be all that. Two big dudes wrestling, this is quite fun – we get a good mix of powermoves and an understandable level of holds given the stipulation. Teddy Long threatens to throw in the towel as Norton has a long arm bar locked in. Norton hits a lovely release spinebuster. Long gets on the apron, Norton gets distracted and train locks in a full nelson and Norton taps out.
Juventud Guerrera vs Konan (w/ Jimmy Hart) for the Mexican Heavyweight Championship
Konan is a heel that they've basically turned into a stereotype, which is unfortunate. Still, Konan with a heel direction is probably stronger than the listless look they were going for previously. This was really good, continuing the pattern of Konan matches that are exactly as good as his opponent is (fortunately Juve is excellent). The usual issues with a lack of selling and ECW levels of big moves not getting the win, but still. Juve hits a 450 splash then a spin off the top, Konan follows that with a big brainbuster which the crowd pop for, but still that isn't enough. Konan resets with a "powerdrop" (Razor's edge) off the second rope for the victory.
Chris Jericho vs Chris Benoit
Well here's one from the vault. Jericho in one of his first appearances for WCW as a white-meat babyface (with funky entrance music) against Chris Benoit, the much more established heel. Of course, we're in Horsemen country so the crowd is about 80% pro Benoit. Jericho tries that move where he vaults off the second rope over the top to the outside, unfortunately the second time he tries it he cocks it up and smashes his shoulder off the apron.
Fortunately he's OK, and he counters a Benoit attempted Tombstone with one of his own. Jericho hits a lionsault, but Benoit moves so Jericho lands on his feet (Jericho started as he meant to go on with that move, didn't he?). He follows that with a Frankinsteiner, but that only gets a two. Benoit goes to the top with Jericho, hits a nice superplex and for once a superplex actually wins a wrestling match. Not the classic you might expect from these two, but still, really nice.
Super Calo vs Rey Mysterio Jr for the WCW Cruiserweight Title
If you want really quite impressive action with very little context then Rey Mysterio is your guy. Technically this was a very good match – both guys complimented each other very well and Mike Tenay was doing his best Mike Tenay impression on commentary. But funnily enough, whereas on other shows this might have been quite noteworthy for being the "stand-out" match, given what had come before it this evening it was actually quite forgettable. Still, some nice dives onto the outsid,e and Mysterio wins it with a Frankinsteiner.
Nasty Boys (Brian Knobbs and Jerry Sags) vs Harlem Heat (Booker T & Stevie Ray w/ Col Parker and Sherri) for the WCW World Tag Team Titles
While the WWF's tag division is on life support (soon to be barely resuscitated by Owen Hart and The British Bulldog), WCW have depth all over the shop. Along with Ice Train and Norton (bizarelly split up when they seem far stronger as a unit) The Steiners and The Public Enemy there's enough going for the division at this point. This match was real good, up until the finish (where have I heard that one before? Oh right, the last three years of WCW tag team matches).
After a period of frequent tags we fall into Jerry Sags being the face in peril, with both Parker and Sherri on the outside running interference to keep the Heat firmly in control. We see an early scissor kick from Booker T, before Sags eventually gets the hot tag. Unfortunately, of course, the match ends when Sherri smacks Knobbs with a cane. Booker T, out for the count otherwise, pins him to retain the titles. Shame, this match was real good.
Randy Savage vs The Giant
When you think about it, given that the main event at this stage was bascially a 3 on 3 match with both sides having questions over who the fourth man would be, wouldn't it have been stronger to simply put these two in the main event? Anyway... this match is about all you can hope from the Giant at this stage – which is competent but no better. Still Savage eventually manages a bodyslam and the crowd explode!
Hogan comes out, pulls Savage off a pin and goads him up the aisle way. He lures Savage into a trap – as Hall and Nash attack him. They take Savage back to the ring while referee Nick Patrick is still checking on Giant this entire time. They roll Savage back in the ring and Giant pins him. The trap was nice but the long distraction was probably too elaborate. As is the overall story that's repeated in a bit that Savage seemingly has no friends.
War Games: Team NWO (Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, Hollywood Hogan and ???) vs Team WCW (Ric Flair, Lex Luger, Arn Anderson and ???)
We’re in the Carolinas here, so the fans are all over Flair and Arn. Given that there’s mystery over both fourth men, they decide to keep everyone in the back before they’re needed (which, even if just for the circumstances, is actually a really good idea). Given the talent in the match, starting with Hall and Anderson is a good idea. Nick Patrick claims he can “ring the bell and stop it right now” with Arn in a submission. Heel or not, he can’t!
Read More: Why So Much Love For The War Games Match?
The usual War Games stuff, the NWO win the toss and send in Hall. Babyface rallies, numbers game catches up with him, rinse and repeat to 3-3. Then out comes Sting for the NWO… except it’s not the real Sting, and everyone realises this. Credit to Jeff Farmer (The former Cobra, who’s playing Fake Sting) who does quite a good job at doing real Sting’s spots. Anyway, out at #4 is the real Sting.
He cleans house, then mouths of at Luger and just leaves. With that it’s 3 on 4. The heels take the advantage, Fake Sting puts Luger in the scorpion and he submits. A bit of a flat ending to an extraordinarily flat match. The Carolina fans wanted the NWO to get what they had coming to them thanks to the Horsemen, and instead not only did their team lost but the other guy they really liked walked out on them. Six days previously on Nitro they did the fake Sting angle – that was followed by over 700,000 homes tuning out in the 15 minutes that followed. If that wasn’t a sign that this was a bad idea, then I don’t know what was.
After the match we get a big ass brawl as the cage gets lifted. The Horseman are on the losing end of it but then just inexplicably disappear. That leaves Savage to get the piss beaten out of him by the NWO. Quite where the Horsemen, or indeed any members of the WCW roster are is anybody’s guess. Did they all go home? Liz comes out, showing remorse, and tries to protect Savage. Hogan responds by spray painting “N-W-O” onto her dress.
Score Rating: 7.5/10
Go Back And Watch: From a purely in-ring perspective the first two hours of this show are nearly flawless. But the show is undercut by matches that don’t matter, with the crowd largely cheering who they like and a final two matches that often defied belief. Still, this show comes with a high recommendation.