PodMania Retro Reviews: WCW Superbrawl VIII Review
Updated: May 21
Starrcade 1997 was WCW's largest grossing PPV. It had 'THE' hottest build in wrestling at the time, with Sting not wrestling for 18 months as he surveyed the nWo running roughshod over the WCW roster. Finally, Sting swooped down and confronted Hollywood Hulk Hogan, and the match was set; Sting vs. Hogan at Staarcade for Hogan's WCW World Heavyweight Championship. The buzz was palpable and the fan interest soared.
And they messed it up.
Sting surely had to win - the perfect pay off to the 18 month build. However, a company famed for not being able to do anything the easy way, didn't book it the easy way. Inspired by the signing of Bret Hart, fresh from the Montreal Screwjob, WCW decided to use this platform to have a pop at their Hartford counterparts. The idea was to have nWo referee Nick Patrick deliver a fast count as Hogan pinned Sting, only for Bret Hart to stop the match citing that it wasn't going to happen again. The match would restart and Sting would win the title clean.
That was what should have happened.
Depending on who you believe, the finish was either changed or Hogan got into the ear of Nick Patrick and told him to do a regular count rather than the previously agreed fast count, which he did. This meant that it merely looked as though Bret Hart was stopping the match despite Hogan having won clean. It was a shambles and completely took the shine off of the feud and, more importantly, the title win of Sting.
The decision and the finish were widely panned, and the company criticised for managing to spoil an almost perfect build.
Superbrawl 8 the following February, was a chance for WCW to right some egregious booking wrongs.
The News Report
[Wrestling Observer Newsletter 16.02.1998)
Louie Spicolli, a worker from WCW who was due to be on the card for Superbrawl VIII in a match against Larry Zybysko, passed away after drug overdose at age 27. Reportedly, his body was found in a pool of vomit by a friend who had stayed over at his house and was going to wake him up so he could catch his flight to Nitro. Spicolli, who had had close calls before, had apparently taken 26 Somas before washing it down with wine. Despite friends becoming worried about his pill usage that had led him to develop an incredible tolerance, and hiding the bottle, Spicolli sought it out regardless. His aforementioned tolerance to Somas meant that he could take 15 or so at a time without it affecting him and would take 25-30 every night to get to sleep. Unfortunately, the wine he would wash them down with on this particular night, greatly multiplied the effects of the pills.
The mood was said to be sombre laced with surprise backstage at Nitro, but it was also apparently business as usual for the most part. When WCW did acknowledge Spicolli's death on air, it was heavily criticised for the poor judgement shown, as Larry Zbyszko (the man due to have a match with Spicolli at Superbrawl) stayed in character and therefore refused to say anything about Spicolli. Apart from this, WCW didn't acknowledge it.
A side note, and jumping a head in history slightly, but despite working over the three biggest North American promotions at the time in WWF, WCW and ECW, only two people from these companies attended his funeral, with Rob Van Dam and Sabu acting as pallbearers.
WCW Nitro did its 2nd highest rating ever, with a 4.93. Though WCW always aimed for the oft elusive 5.0 mark, explaining the addition of their biggest money match of the time in Hogan vs. Savage, competition from the Olympics prevented them from hitting the mark that week.
Nitro also featured 'THAT' Goldberg vs. Steven Regal match, the same match which led to Steven Regal's firing from the company. Even though Goldberg was over, his matches were short for a reason, yet this went over 5 minutes. Many backstage thought Regal was shooting and intentionally trying to expose Goldberg, but Regal explained he was only doing as he was told backstage, while Dave Meltzer wrote that Regal was just wrestling a match, that Goldberg only had 3 moves and after he'd used them, he got totally lost.
A final side note away from WCW, and this is where the first reports of Jesse Ventura considering running for governor of Minnesota is reported. According to the newsletter, he was due to run later on in the year as part of the Reform Party, which he would eventually win.
So after completely messing up the most anticipated main event in the company's history through the overall horrendous booking of Sting/Hogan, WCW managed to give itself a reset in Superbrawl VIII.
With the fate of the Championship still not 100% clear after Starrcade 1997, another even more bizarre rematch took place on the following night’s Nitro from December the 29th, the pay-off of which took place after the show went off the air, with the title officially being held up as vacant from the debut edition of Thunder on January 8th 1998. Whether it be because the booking team needed to sit in a darkened room for a while, or because Hogan needed time to work out how to politic getting the belt back with minimal in-ring effort, the decision was made to finish the angle, not at the upcoming Souled Out 1998 PPV, but at Superbrawl VIII, thus leaving WCW without a World Champion for a full 6 weeks. Unfortunately, after the debacle of Starrcade, what red-hot momentum Sting had had dissipated due to appalling booking, and though WCW tried to rectify their mistake here, the magic of that 18 month build could never truly be captured again.
The other main story-line that was interwoven throughout all this was where the loyalties of Macho Man Randy Savage lay, after a pull apart argument with Eric Bischoff and back to back losses to Lex Luger. It was heavily implied that Savage had had enough and thought he had outgrown the nWo's usefulness, believing Hogan to have dropped the ball. However, come the opening of this show, Savage remained, at least for the moment, a member of the nWo.
Superbrawl VIII, from the historic Cow Palace in San Francisco, drew a reported 12,620 fans, accumulating a PPV buy rate of 1.1 at just over 399,000 buys. Not only did the show outdraw the WWF's latest offering in No Way Out of Texas by a landslide, but that buy rate of 1.1 was the second largest in company history at that point (second only to the Starrcade 1997 show, which clocked in at 700,000 buys at a rate of 1.9.)
A short and to-the-point video package outlining wrongs that must be put right after the utter shambles that was the finish of Starrcade 1997 greets the viewers, painting Sting as the dark hero attempting to do right, while asking if Hogan would be able to bring home the gold despite things falling apart around him, referencing the instability of the nWo.
The PPV starts properly with pyro exploding around the arena, with Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan and Mike Tenay on commentary. They wax lyrical about the main event - the biggest rematch in WCW history according to Schiavone - explaining that the title had been held vacant for some time after the Starrcade debacle, while pondering the seeming unrest in the nWo, especially surrounding Macho Man Randy Savage and his potential role in tonight's proceedings. Heenan does a great job here of adding another layer to Hogan's need for the gold, saying that there is no way he would want to go back to the dressing room and face the remaining members of the nWo without the belt.
Match #1 - Booker T def. Rick Martel (c)
[WCW Television Championship Match]
Originally scheduled to just be Booker T vs. Perry Saturn for the Television Championship, this is now the first of two Television Championship matches, with the winner of this match taking on Perry Saturn later tonight.
Absolutely enormous pop for Booker T, who refuses the handshake of Rick Martel and launches into the champion, sending him out to the floor straight away. Booker T continues the heat on Martel as the camera finds Raven's Flock - or as Heenan refers to them, a 'who's who of Skid Row' - in the crowd with a vested interest as Saturn, a member of the flock, would be taking on the winner later. Martel finally manages to find space after a High Kick from Booker T, but is immediately put back on the mat with a Superkick.
The pair exchange Wristlocks before Martel attempts to drive Booker's head into the top turnbuckle, only for it to be reversed by the Harlem Heat man. It is after Martel is flung into the opposite corner that two things happen; the first is Booker T's constant incomprehensible yelling to the crowd first becomes annoying. Secondly, and most importantly, Booker gives Martel a rudimentary Hip Toss, which results in Martel hitting his knee on the middle rope, tearing the ligaments in his knee.
Despite being in what must be unbelievable pain, Martel continues, sending Booker out of the ring before working him over on the outside. Despite more Martel heat, including running - with the aforementioned injury - a picture-perfect Powerslam, Spinebuster and, somehow, a Springboard Cross Body, Martel can't put Booker T away. The Harlem Heat man eats canvas as he comes off of the top rope but recovers in time to take Martel out of the air with a Side Kick to win the match and the Championship.
PodMania Star Rating: 7 stars
Not only is this match amazing for Martel having to work half of it with what would be a career derailing injury, but it had direct repercussions on the following match, as Martel was actually supposed to win. This meant that as Perry Saturn charged to the ring for his match with Booker T, the entire match had to be called in-ring, as it was actually supposed to be Martel vs. Perry Saturn - Amazing!
Match #2 - Booker T (c) def. Perry Saturn
[WCW Television Championship Match]
Saturn gives Booker T no time to catch his breath and launches into the new champion, attempting to lock in the Rings of Saturn but the champ just manages to get to the ropes.
Predictably, Saturn dominates the majority of the opening exchanges, building on the fact that Booker has just wrestled a 10 minute match. Booker T seems to finally get a reprieve after being worked over on the outside, reversing an Irish Whip into the barricade, launching Saturn into it instead, but he can't capitalise, and Saturn is quickly back onto him but he cannot put Booker away.
Saturn launches into Booker T with a Slingshot Crossbody onto the outside, and then follows it up instantly with a second rope Vader Bomb to the floor, making a sickening thud as he connected with Booker and with the floor. Again though, Saturn cannot take advantage, but does dart out of the way and watch as Booker attempts what looks like a Bronco Buster but, connecting coccyx first with the top turnbuckle, flips back onto the mat, taking what looked like an awful bump, and lending the momentum back to Saturn.
The pair fight to the middle rope, and Saturn lands a Back Drop Suplex but hurts himself in the process and is once again, unable to follow it up. Booker T finally finds a period of sustained offence, reversing a Superplex into a Front Suplex off of the top rope and following it up with a Missile Dropkick. The commentary team do a great job of putting over how exhausted Booker T must be wrestling back to back matches, as Saturn once again gains control, hitting a Fisherman's and a Belly to Belly Suplex for a close two count. The challenger then cannot capitalise on a Springboard Moonsault, with Schiavone starting to comment on how frustration must be setting in for Saturn.
The pair collide in the middle of the ring, both attempting Crossbodys, Booker T recovers first, but misses the Harlem Hangover. Saturn hits a Bridging Northern Lights Suplex followed by a Bridging German Suplex, both of which only get two counts. He goes for another, but Booker T flips out of it, hitting another Side Kick and pinning Perry Saturn to retain his newly won Television Championship.
What a great match, made even better knowing that it was called completely on the fly!
PodMania Star Rating: 8 stars
Chris Jericho is backstage with Lee Marshall as he talks about his Title vs. Mask match against Juventud Guerrera. Jericho states that whether people want to see Juve's face is irrelevant, as he will come out of this match having retained his WCW Cruiserweight Champion.
Match #3 - Disco Inferno def. La Parka
La Parka is out first, air guitaring on a steel chair, leading to Schiavone referring to him as the 'Chairman of WCW', a full 22 years before Shawn Spears stole the nickname. Disco Inferno emerges next to a modest pop while the commentary team inform us that the pair are fighting over dance moves...sure why not.
La Parka however, waits for no man, and launches the chair at Disco before the match officially starts, floors him, emulates some unbelievable dad dancing, and ties it all off by punting Disco hard in the stomach. The pair then exchange stiff clotheslines before Parka takes off and hits a stiff sounding Rolling Heel Kick and follows it up with a Corkscrew Plancha over the top. Parka is on fire here, reversing a reversal into the barricade and following it up with another thunderous Lariat.
Parka misses a top rope Splash, allowing Disco to get some offence, sending him to outside and launching him into the barricade, dropping him chest first onto another set of barricades. This seemingly annoys the Luchador, who responds by attempting to punt kick Disco's ribs out through his back and Yakuza Kicking his head off. However, this can only bring a two count as Disco gets his feet on the ropes.
The Mexican continues to dominate, taunting Disco's dance moves, before getting cocky and attempting an arrogant pin, which the commentary team make reference to as a bad idea. Parka then takes the same coccyx bump that Booker T took in the previous match, allowing Inferno his second wind, but this simply results in Parka delivering a stiff kick to the face, which he follows up with a Suicide Dive. Tenay refers to his as a Tope Suicida, which blows Schiavone's mind, while Heenan merely asks if he can get that with chips and salsa...oh Bobby!
Finally, Disco gets his first period of sustained offence after La Parka spears the ring post. He hits a Flying Forearm and a Swinging Neckbreaker but the Luchador kicks out. In the process of this, the referee manages to catch a thumb in the eye, allowing the 'Chairman of WCW' to call upon his favourite weapon. He sets the prone Disco up on the chair and ascends to the top rope, but Inferno manages to rally and the pair end up fighting on the top rope with La Parka being lobbed face first onto the chair. Disco follows it up with a Chart Buster and a 3 count for the win. A good match overall, just felt a little long.
PodMania Star Rating: 6 stars
Mean Gene Okerlund is on the ramp with the Chairman of the WCW Executive Committee - J.J Dillon who wants to shed light on the position of disgraced referee Nick Patrick. Patrick of course the man who delivered the (not so)'fast count' in the main event of Starrcade 1997, attempting to give Hogan the win. Dillon invites Patrick out and states that, because they couldn't find anything wrong in the tapes, he was reinstated as of that moment. Patrick celebrates and makes a promise to clear his name in the main event by calling it right down the middle. Dillon responds by saying that Patrick will not be officiating the main event as his name had not been drawn, before walking off, leaving Patrick to gabble at Okerlund before moaning about his lack of back pay.
Match #4 - Goldberg def. Brad Armstrong
A special surprise match was next, with it being added to the card at the last second, presumably as a replacement for the Larry Zbyszko vs. Louie Spicolli match.
Brad Armstrong, famous for being the brother of Brian James, otherwise known as the Road Dogg, makes his way to the ring to no reception whatsoever. Goldberg then arrives to chants of 'GOOOOLBERG, GOOOOLDBERG!' before making his way down the ramp, where braver people than me dare to slap him on his shoulders.
A Goldberg mauling then happens; Gorilla Press, Gutwrench Suplex, Spear, Jackhammer, Pinfall victory.
At a shade over 2 minutes, its pretty much an hour long iron man match in Goldberg terms.
PodMania Star Rating: 3 stars
Match #5 - Chris Jericho (c) def. Juventud Guerrera
[WCW Cruiserweight Championship Mask vs. Title Match]
Proving that he could be a brattish dick even in the late 90s, Jericho emerges, walks straight over to a fan holding an 'I'm a Jericholic!' sign, takes it from them, tears it up and walks off, sporting a jacket sporting the phrase'Your Role Model' on the back, a full 20 years before Bayley stole the nickname.
A beautiful juxtaposition in this match, with Juventud wrestling a very stereotypical Cruiserweight style, and Jericho focusing more on the strikes and submissions. The champ starts the match wrestling with the belt on, refusing to take it off until Guerrera smashes a Kick into Jericho's midriff, prompting him to gasp for air and beg the ref to take the belt. Jericho is completely over the top in this match and it's great. Nowhere is this more obvious than when he takes a nasty looking bump to the outside after Guerrera hits a very ambitious Springboard Hurricanrana to the outside. Once on the floor, Jericho plays possum, attempting to be counted out by the referee, very obviously looking up to check if anyone is paying attention before pretending to be out cold once more. Juventud is having none of this however and drops a snug looking elbow on Jericho to wake him up. The match pace picks up after these initial shenanigans. Guerrera flips out of a high angle German Suplex, while Jericho hits a Springboard Dropkick with Juve on the apron, sending him sprawling to the outside. While on the outside, Jericho uses the ring steps in an attempt to Springboard onto Guerrera, who has it scouted and half Suplexes, half drops Jericho throat first onto the barricade in yet another snug looking bump. Jericho takes back control of the match, attempting a series of cocky pins, even looking to hoodwink the referee into believing that Guerrera had submitted while in a Backstretch. Guerrera attempts to hit a top rope Headscissors, but Jericho blocks it and hits an Electric Chair slam to maintain the momentum. Jericho is once again sent to the outside from the top rope with a Dropkick from Juventud, and attempts to leave the match, but is stopped as Guerrera Springboards with Air Juve out of the ring and onto Jericho on the outside. Controversy reigns supreme however, as Guerrera catches Jericho attempting to leap over him using the top rope, planting him with a worryingly high Michinoku Driver, followed by a 450 Splash which garners a 3 count from the referee. However, just after the 3, the referee notices Jericho's hand on the ropes, and even though Juventud is celebrating and the bell has sounded, the ref cancels the call, and continues the match. A succession of quick near falls finish, with both men going all out at this point. Guerrera hits a Springboard Hurricanrana onto the inside this time, while Jericho lands an Inverted Suplex, but can't follow it up with the Lionsault as Guerrera rolls out of the way just in time. Juve does manage to wriggle free of the first Liontamer attempt, but as he goes for a Code Red, Jericho blocks it and locks in a second Liontamer which Guerrera cannot block and submits, giving Jericho the win and surrendering his mask at the same time. PodMania Star Rating: 8 stars Tenay especially throughout this did an excellent job of explaining to the audience in great detail just how important a Luchador's mask is to their tradition, and that certainly added another layer to this match. Guerrera understandably is reticent to take off the mask but slowly begins undoing the straps. Jericho however, ever the consummate dick, snatches the mask off his head, holding it aloft in victory as we catch our first glimpse of the baby faced Juventud.
A great match from an in-ring standpoint, and for that alone, this match probably deserves 9 stars. However, when you read that Juve never wanted to do this, and was pressured into it on the promise that it would be made into a huge thing, yet it was dismissed pretty much straight after this with nothing coming of it, it feels wrong. Couple with that the fact that Guerrera keeps his hair over his face as he was legitimately in tears, and I simply can't give it that rating. It's an unfortunate indictment of how the WCW mid-card, and especially the Cruiserweight division including Jericho, Guerrera, Benoit, Guerrero and Malenko were treated and viewed by Bischoff and other WCW higher-ups.
Match #6 - The British Bulldog def. Steve ’Mongo‘ McMichael
British Bulldog comes out to challenge Steve ‘Mongo’ McMichael next, fresh from his defection from WWE in support of Bret Hart.
The two have very similar styles, relying heavily on their power game, shown instantly from McMichael who starts on the front foot, hitting a rather untidy Gutwrench Slam, and a far better looking Powerslam. However Davey Boy, capitalising on a missed Leg Drop, then displays a lesser seen side of his offence, locking in his version of the Sharpshooter!
After both men take it in turns stomping relatively ineffectually on each other, Bulldog is sent sprawling to the outside through the middle rope. Mongo then takes his time hitting a dreadfully pulled Double Axe-Handle off of the apron and slamming Davey Boy into every barricade around the ring, before attempting to chop him as he stood propped against the ring post. Obviously, Bulldog moves and Mongo clatters his wrist against the ring post, legitimately breaking it.
The action returns to the ring, with Mongo clearly favouring his left arm. He is unable to set up correctly for the 3 Point Stance, and has to settle with two unconvincing Running Blocks to the knees of Davey Boy. After an astonishingly painful looking bump into the corner from the Bulldog, he catches Mongo with a Arm Bar and wrenches back. Even though Mongo doesn’t tap or say ‘I Quit’ the referee calls it and rings the bell, which not only gives the Bulldog a victory, but also marks the only time in my mind he won with a submission!
Post-match, Mongo is livid and shoves the referee over screaming that he never gave up which, in fairness, he didn't.
PodMania Star Rating: 4 stars
A fine match, but nothing more. It is strange that Bulldog won it with an Armbar, a move that I don’t recall him using to finish a match before, or indeed after this, which leads me to dispute whether this was the original intended finish, or whether they called an audible in the ring with Mongo’s wrist being legitimately broken.
Match #7 - Diamond Dallas Page (c) def. Christ Benoit
[WCW United States Heavyweight Championship Match]
Chris Benoit's entrance music in WCW really did not suit a man nicknamed The Crippler.
As the men make their way to the ring, Tony Schiavone does a brilliant job of putting over both competitors finishers in DDP's Diamond Cutter and Benoit's Crippler Crossface. With this being a face vs. face match-up, both men slap hands in a gesture of begrudging respect. Page works the shoulder early, but Benoit comes back at him with some lovely chain wrestling. DDP does however get the better of the early exchanges by pulling Benoit out of the corner, throwing him back into the turnbuckle and hitting a lovely-looking Gutwrench Gutbuster.
We get our first attempt at a finisher with Benoit taking Page down and going to the Crossface, but the Champion manages to scrabble to the ropes. A Test of Strength is followed by a series of Roll-Up attempts, before Benoit goes to the chops and DDP hits a Back Suplex. Benoit avoids the call for the Diamond Cutter by powdering to the outside. The action moves back to the inside, and Benoit tries another Roll-Up, but DDP shifts momentum again with a Wheelbarrow Suplex for a 2 count.
Page manages to counter out of a Cobra Clutch with a Jawbreaker, before Benoit hits a Snap Suplex for 2 count of his own. Benoit goes to a Sleeper Hold, and keeps it sinched in despite reversal attempts from DDP, who finally manages to break the hold by Backdropping Benoit to the floor. DDP manages to hit a top rope Superplex after he crotches Benoit on the top rope, leading to first, a Double KO spot, and then a slugfest. DDP wins and calls for the Cutter. He goes for it, but Benoit counters and throws him to the apron instead. Page uses this, and goes to the top rope to hit a diving Shoulderblock off the top. They go through a Small-Package sequence for 2 each time after Page fights out of a Crossface, before he sends Benoit into the turnbuckle and hits him with a Belly-to-Belly Suplex for a 2 count. Benoit hits the ever-impressive Rolling-German Suplexes, and bridges on the third for the closest of close 2 counts. The Crippler, sensing an opening, sends DDP to the ropes, but Page counters to a DDT for a 2 count. Another Cutter attempt is countered into a Backslide, but DDP flips him over and finally hits the Diamond Cutter for the victory and to retain his championship!
A great match between 2 great competitors. That closing sequence was excellent, and either man could have won at multiple times. Match of the night so far.
PodMania Star Rating: 8 stars
Tony Schiavone delivers the news that The Giant Paul Wight will not be joining us tonight due to travel complications (despite having been billed for the majority of the evening.) Instead, they promise that he will make an appearance at the following night's Nitro in Sacramento to address his neck problem, and when he will make his eventual return to in-ring action.
To seemingly make up for this, we have a black and white video package play, reminding us of the absolutely horrific bump he took at Souled Out at the hands of Kevin Nash, who dropped him straight on his neck after a botched Jackknife - seeing it in slow motion shows us that it could have been significantly worse for the future Big Show!
Match #8 - Lex Luger def. Mach Man Randy Savage
[No Disqualification Match]
The commentary team continue to question the sanity and reasons fuelling the Macho Man as he takes his sweet time making his way to the ring. Luger is out next sporting bandaged ribs which Heenan takes issue with on commentary, stating that you should never show your enemy a weakness to exploit - wise words Bobby!
Savage launches into Luger but misses, with the Total Package then attempting to Gorilla Press him, but then has to drop him because of the pain in his ribs - make a note of this, as it is the only time that Luger sells the rib injury!
Savage spends a lot of the next portion of the match in control, working the rib-cage of Lex with a series of kicks and strikes. This continues for several, relatively boring moments, with the commentary team wondering whether Luger was stupid for getting in the ring with Savage despite his bad ribs, or if he showed more intestinal fortitude than any other performer - Heenan seems to think it is a bit of both.
After another LONG few moments, we are still on the outside, Savage bouncing Luger off what seems like every barricade surrounding the ring. When the action finally gets back into the ring, Luger no sells a Suplex and hits a Spinning Powerslam, apparently forgetting his severely damaged ribs that Savage had been working for the past 5 minutes. Luger then follows this up with an unflinching Torture Rack attempt, only stopping when Elizabeth gets in to the ring, breaking it up.
This is the cue for all hell to break loose.
The nWo come out to attempt to try and help Savage, but are fought off by Luger, and Savage, affirming again that Savage is turning on the faction. The bell is clearly ringing as the faction rush the ring, but as Hogan makes his way down to the ring to call back the troops and leave Savage to his fate, we see in the periphery of the shot Luger submitting Savage with the Torture Rack.
So was the match still going? Why was Lex not able to Gorilla Press Savage at the start of the match, but is able to deliver the Torture Rack after 7:26 of getting his ribs attacked? Why are we focused on Hogan's face rather than the finish of the damn match?
A confusing and messy end to a very dull and plodding match, which is not something I often say about matches involving the Macho Man.
PodMania Star Rating: 2 stars
Match #9 - The Outsiders def. The Steiner Brothers (c)
[WCW World Tag Team Championships Match]
The fact that Mr. Meltzer, a man who's opinion - rightly or wrongly - I hold in relatively high regard, gave this match the same rating as the earlier match between Perry Saturn and Booker T at 1.25 stars, makes me cradle my head in despair. Sure, Meltzer didn't realise at the time that the Martel injury was legitimate and that the Saturn and Booker match had to be called on the fly, but this was less a match and more an angle.
The Outsiders arrive to an enormous pop, escorted to the ring by 'The American Dream' Dusty Rhodes, which has to be up there as one of the most pointless defections in this entire nWo run! Hall takes the mic and panders to the crowd with his survey schtick, which is still hugely over at this point, asking whether the crowd in San Francisco are there to see WCW or nWO - you can imagine what the crowd voted for...
Rick is a house on fire against Scott Hall during the early exchanges and manages to dump The nWo OGz to the outside while The Steiner Brothers perform their signature pose, Rick between Scott's legs. With a wink, Scott turns on his brother, delivering a Double Axe-Handle to the back and a Gutwrench Powerbomb to Rick, turning on his brother and joining the nWo...
Another day, another top stars joins the nWo...
As Dusty Rhodes sends his counterpart, Ted Dibiase, into the ring post, Rick attempts to fight back against Hall. However, the numbers game proves too much, and after a botchy initial attempt at The Outsider's Edge, Hall does finally manage to hit it and claim the pinfall victory at 4:16
PodMania Star Rating: 3 stars
We then get a short video package advertising Uncensored 1998 - a cringe-inducing volley of terrible rhymes, violent colour flashes and bludgeoningly awful techno-rock music - Good Lord I miss the 90s!
Match #9 - Sting def. Hollywood Hulk Hogan
[WCW World Heavyweight Championship Match]
Charles Robinson, or ‘Little Naich’ as he is affectionately known now, has gotten the nod as the referee for the main event. Hogan is already out when Sting storms the ring, sprinting full tilt at the leader of nWo. This doesn’t go well as for the next few minutes, Hogan proceeds to beat down The Stinger with his weight belt, before choking him out in front of the camera demanding Sting tell everyone who the man is - how this is not a DQ I have no idea.
Hogan’s dominance continues for a huge amount of the opening, choking him out with his coat and taking the action to the outside where he runs Sting into the barricades and ring post. Finally, after almost 5 minutes of the match, Sting manages to get some offence in as Hogan turns to pose to the crowd. He beats Hogan with strikes before taking the weight belt and striking him with it, mirroring the start of the match before Hogan powders to the outside. Sting follows though, choking out the Hulkster with the weight belt, bringing him back toward the ring and slamming him into the guard rail.
Heenan is on fire during this match, talking about why this match is so important to Hogan and how a loss could leave the nWo with no respect for him, stating how Hogan needed the group more than the group needed him. It brought another angle to this match, and a subtle one at that.
Speaking of Hogan, he takes charge once more as Sting misses a Stinger Splash and eats the guardrail before Hogan hits him with a chair and the weight belt again - all in front of the referee, is this supposed to be No DQ!? Do something Charles Robinson!
After biting Sting’s forehead in the corner, Hogan eats a Stinger Spash and is locked in the Scorpion Death Lock, but manages to scrabble to the ropes. He complains to Robinson about injuring his wrist, and then pulls him in the way when Sting attempts a second Stinger Splash. With the referee out of commission, Hogan hits the Leg Drop as a new referee - Neil Patrick - comes running down. However, he refuses to perform a fast count despite Hogan shouting ‘It’s me!’ apparently standing by his claims earlier in the night that he would call this match down the middle.
Hogan continues to chastise Patrick as he in turn continues to stop Hogan from cheating to win. Sting finally manages to ‘hulk-up’ and no sells the Hogan strikes before delivering two consecutive Stinger Splashes and finishing it off with a Scorpion Death Drop. Unbeknownst to Sting, Hogan kicks Nick Patrick on his way down meaning there is no-one available to count the three count.
In the ensuing chaos, the nWo B-Team cavalry comes down, but is fought off by Sting while, annoyingly just out of camera shot, we see Macho Man Randy Savage run down and deck Hogan, who is getting to his feet at this point, with a can of spray paint. With the nWo incapacitated, Sting covers Hogan and Nick Patrick, selling the gut injury masterfully, counts the pinfall.
PodMania Star Rating: 4 stars
Despite the commentary team hyping this as the biggest rematch in wrestling history, it certainly didn't play out that way. Mired, as so many matches for this promotion at this time were, with over-booking and convoluted stories, it was difficult to become invested in the match, even with Sting winning. After all, it was only due to Savage's interference that Sting won the belt, meaning that after two bites at Hogan, there still wasn't a clean finish. The match itself was meandering, but was a Hogan match in every sense of the phrase, with not a lot of action, and a whole lot of Hulkster dominance, with him on top for damn near all the match.
Post-match, Nick Patrick raises the hand of the new WCW World Champion Sting. Despite holding the offending spray paint can quite plainly in his hand, Patrick does nothing. Sting sprays WCW on the back of Hogan which is a nice throw back to the famous spraying of nWo onto Savage all those months ago.
And that's it... Sting walks to the back as champion and the broadcast ends, which is a little bit anti-climactic in truth.
The main feud heading out of this show was the feud between Hogan and Savage. The following month at Uncensored, Savage and Hogan would, somehow, fight to a double DQ in a Cage Match. Despite Sting attempting to help Savage during the match, the Macho Man attacked him and spat at Hogan. Savage challenged Sting for the belt in a winning effort at the next PPV, Spring Stampede 1998, before hot potatoing it back to Hogan the very next night on Nitro when Bret Hart turned on Savage and joined the nWo.
Rick Steiner would have to wait until Halloween Havoc 1998 before he got his hands on Scott after his betrayal, beating him in a 10 minute singles match that marked a damp ending to what could have been an excellent and passion-filled feud.
After Kevin Nash nearly damn-near broke his neck, The Giant did, eventually, get his revenge. After enduring a win via DQ at Uncensored and losing in a Baseball on a Pole Tag Team Match at Spring Stampede, he and Sting won the Tag Team Championships from the Outsiders in the main event of Slamboree.
The first two thirds of this PPV are excellent, and if the show ended after the United States Championships match, we could be legitimately be talking about this as 'the' great WCW PPV of this era. However, in the final 3 marquee matches, we had no clean finishes, plodding and painfully boring action and shenanigans aplenty, which completely ruined the ebb and flow of the show.
Once again, Hogan's point-blank refusal to lessen his vice-like grip on the main event scene was clear, refusing once again to lay down clean. Again, a story-line was nixed in favour of the nWo virus, and the rest of the match suffered hugely for it, as even after all of this, Sting was never seen as a viable champion, merely a transitional one. Sting, for his part, was a mere pawn with the belt eventually ending up back on Hogan anyway, and with him slowly making his way down the card until he finally ended up as another nobody in the nWo shuffle.
If the glass ceiling that so many aggrieved WCW mid-carders often talked about was visible, it would be glaringly apparent here right after the DDP match, with no-one being allowed into the main event scene without Hogan's express permission. There is absolutely not a chance that in 1998, Hogan and Luger should be in your marquee matches, and unfortunately, the cracks began to show here, as Hogan continued in the main event scene, his ego ultimately leading to main event matches with the likes of Jay Leno and Dennis Rodman.
Not that the main event was the only disappointing or flat out bad match. The psychology in the Luger vs. Savage match was non-existent, while the McMichael vs. Bulldog match made 6 minutes feel like an eternity.
But this wasn't a bad show.
There were far more positives to take from this show that negatives, with the undercard of this PPV really pulling out all the stops. Booker T began his ascent to the top of the card in a a pair of great matches, while the WCW Cruiserweight Championship match, uncomfortable forced stipulation aside, was fantastic with a great energy and pair of workers with tremendous chemistry. Match of the night however must go to DDP and Chris Benoit, who put on a face vs. face wrestling clinic for the United States Championship.
All in all, this PPV is certainly one of WCW better ones, but the final three marquee matches really let it down and left me with a real sour taste in my mouth. My final recommendation? Tune in for the first half, tune out for the rest!
Matches You Need To Check Out: Chris Jericho vs. Juventud Guerrera, DDP vs. Chris Benoit
Matches You Need To Avoid: Hulk Hogan vs. Sting, Lex Luger vs. Randy Savage, Steve 'Mongo' McMichael vs. The British Bulldog