Date: February 21, 1993
Venue: Asheville Civic Center (Asheville, NC)
Commentators: Tony Schiavone & Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura
The war between Sting and Big Van Vader continues into 1993 as the two headline WCW’s first PPV of 1993. It’s not just any match, however, it’s a ‘White Castle of Fear’ match. What does that mean exactly? Strap match. It’s a strap match. Also on the show The British Bulldog makes his debut, Ric Flair makes his PPV, and Maxx Payne of all people gets a shot at the United States Championship.
- WCW WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION: Big Van Vader
- WCW UNITED STATES HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION: ‘The Natural’ Dustin Rhodes
- WCW WORLD TELEVISION CHAMPION: Vacant
- WCW WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS: Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat & Shane Douglas
- NWA WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION: The Great Muta
- Erik Watts & Marcus Alexander Bagwell vs. The Hollywood Blondes (*3/4)
- 2 Cold Scorpio vs. Chris Benoit (***3/4)
- Davey Boy Smith vs. Bill Irwin (**)
- Falls Count Anywhere: Cactus Jack vs. Paul Orndorff (**1/2)
- The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express vs. The Heavenly Bodies (***1/4)
- Dustin Rhodes [c] vs. Maxx Payne for the WCW UNITED STATES CHAMPIONSHIP (DUD)
- The Great Muta [c] vs. Barry Windham for the NWA WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP (***)
- White Castle of Fear: Sting vs. Big Van Vader (****)
–Eric Bischoff welcomes the home/arena audience on the interview stage alongside Missy Hyatt. Bischoff announces that Maxx Payne will be taking Ron Simmons’ place in the United States Championship match tonight. Aw man, a Dustin Rhodes/Ron Simmons match would have been pretty cool. Hyatt hints at a big interview but won’t tell Bischoff who it is. Bischoff then introduces his special guest Johnny B. Badd. His theme song straight up says he looks like Little Richard just in case you didn’t understand the gimmick already. That’s pretty awesome. Badd says this is a good place to be a Badd man. Cool story. They take it to the commentators for the evening, Tony Schiavone and Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura. This is Ventura’s one year anniversary in WCW. Cool. Schiavone goes over the rules of the White Castle of Fear: it’s a strap match where the winner has to touch all four corners of the ring. Gary Michael Cappeta introduces Payne, who plays the National Anthem on ‘Norma Jean’, his electric guitar. Jimi Hendrix he isn’t but it’s still pretty good.
Erik Watts & Marcus Alexander Bagwell vs. The Hollywood Blondes (‘Stunning’ Steve Austin & ‘Flyin’ Brian Pillman)
Watts was brought in last year as a super green rookie due to the fact his father, Bill Watts, was running things at the time. Obviously he got a push he wasn’t ready for and fans were not into it. Bagwell is entering year 3 as a member of the roster and is still a bright-eyed babyface looking to find his place in the company. He sort-of finds it as a member of like 50 different semi-successful tag teams but his true success comes in about four years when he joins the NEWNEWNEWNEW World Order. Austin & Pillman started teaming late-1992 but don’t have the Blondes name officially yet I guess since they aren’t announced as such but we’re using it here anyway. They’re the number one contenders to the WCW Tag Team Titles, held by Ricky Steamboat & Shane Douglas.
Bagwell backs Austin into the corner, Austin shoves him away and hides in the ropes to prevent getting attacked. Bagwell brings Austin to the mat and grabs an armbar, a very vocal (male) part of the crowd booing him immensely. Austin tries to power Bagwell down with a top wristlock but Bagwell outmuscles him to the mat. Austin backs Bagwell into the corner and connects with a back elbow. Ventura calls Austin a veteran despite only being in the business one year longer than Bagwell. Austin carries himself as such though so I can’t blame him. Dude was good almost immediately. Watts tags in and they connect with a double backdrop on Austin. Crowd haaaaaaates Watts, poor kid. Watts fights his way out of the corner as Pillman tags in. Watts hits some sloppy ass offense and ends the sequence with a wristlock. Yikes. ‘Erik Sucks’ chant can be heard. Bagwell tags back in and get sent to the heel corner. Austin tags in, Bagwell ducks a couple of clothesline and hits a crossbody for a two-count. Bagwell barely grazes Austin with a dropkick and goes right into a side headlock takeover. Watts tags in, applies an abdominal stretch in the center of the ring. Ventura chides him for applying the move too early. Bagwell tags in and applies an abdominal stretch of his own. Austin escapes with a hip toss and tags into Pillman, who chops Bagwell hard in the corner. Bagwell reverses an Irish whip and hits a military press slam, forcing Pillman to beg off in the corner. Pillman ducks a clothesline but walks into another and gets covered for a two-count. Watts tags in and the boos continue, Schiavone tries to say the crowd is saying ‘woo’. I was saying Boo-Urns.
Austin tries a splash on Watts, but Watts gets the knees up and rolls him up for two. To the Boston Crab we go, but he doesn’t really sit down on it. I’m trying not to hate on Watts like people did back in 1993 but he’s really bad. Finally he sits down on it and Pillman kicks him in the face to break the hold and take control of the contest. Nice. Crowd loves it. Watts catches a kick and goes into the STF but Pillman quickly forces a rope break. Watts tries to whip Pillman into the ropes but he keeps dropping down, feigning a knee injury so he can get a cheap elbow to the gut. Pillman tosses Watts to the floor but misses a splash and he hits nothing but guardrail. Ouch. Pillman pulls Watts into Austin’s right hand. Austin tags in proper and they send Watts over the top rope and onto the floor. WCW had a DQ rule for that stuff but only used it when they needed an out in a match finish. Austin slams Watts on the floor and rolls him in. Austin tries a sunset flip but Watts fights back with rights. Pillman attacks him from behind to stop that flurry though like a good tag team partner. Watts manages to roll Pillman up but Austin distracts the ref so he has time to kick out. This match is going on longer than I expected. Austin sucker punches Bagwell to distract the ref and allow for some more double team work. Blondes try to use the Midnight Express finisher but Watts gets his knees up. Austin stops the hot tag with a belly-to-back suplex on Watts but only gets a two-count. Austin misses a splash against the ropes, Bagwell gets the hot tag and the crowd goes WILD (because he’s not Erik Watts). Bagwell with a powerslam on Pillman, Austin breaks it up. Watts awkwardly distracts the ref as Bagwell hits a Fisherman’s suplex on Pillman. Austin breaks it up with a flying forearm and Pillman covers Bagwell for the 1…2…3!
The Hollywood Blondes defeated Marcus Alexander Bagwell & Erik Watts when Brian Pillman pinned Bagwell (16:34)
- Well I certainly didn’t expect a match with Erik Watts to go nearly seventeen minutes but here we are. The Hollywood Blondes are one of the greatest tag teams of all-time so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that their chemistry was off the charts here as they dismantled the white meat babyface duo of Watts and Bagwell. I tried to give Watts a fair shake but even with an open mind the dude was real bad and uncoordinated, wrestling in the big leagues way before– he was ready. The Asheville crowd absolutely hated him too, giving him the most heat in the match. He inadvertently (or hell maybe on purpose) also made Bagwell look like even more of a face as the crowd would loudly cheer whenever he got tagged in because at least he could hit moves correctly (besides that dropkick early in the contest but shhh). Anyway a decent opener, albeit one that went too long, and the Blondes get the win to cement their number one contendership status. (*3/4)
-We take it to Bischoff and Badd at the interview stage, where they formally announce that Ric Flair will be in attendance tonight. Cut to Hyatt who’s outside trying to get an interview with ‘The Nature Boy’ but she’s held back by security. Limo door opens and a couple of ladies pop out followed by Flair, who gives a celebratory ‘WOO!’ for his return. The Asheville crowd chants ‘WE WANT FLAIR’, Ventura says people have been waiting for the both of them to be in the same place at the same time. Not necessarily but I’m down with that.
2 Cold Scorpio vs. Chris Benoit
This is Benoit’s WCW PPV debut, part of his first run with the company which ends up being rather uneventful. Scorpio debuted in WCW last year and does a whole lot of flippy moves that are ahead of their time. This should be pretty good.
Benoit is the aggressor in the opening, nailing Scorpio with a hard elbow to the jaw off an Irish whip followed by a snap suplex. Benoit’s Hart Dungeon training is brought up almost immediately. Scorpio gets sent into the corner and scales the buckles, hitting a crossbody for a two-count followed by a spinning kick that sends his opponent out to the floor to regroup. Schiavone pronounces Scorpio’s home state as ‘ColoradA’ which is weird. Also I think Ventura is eating while commentating, sounds like he’s got his mouth full. Respect. Both men trade wristlocks, using their agility to try and outwrestle each other. Benoit wins the shootout and the crowd gives them a round of applause. Scorpio uses the ropes to flip out and takes Benoit to the mat with a backdrop, keeping an armbar applied on the way down. Scorpio transitions into a hammerlock using his feet, falling back for extra torque. Benoit blocks an O’ Connor Roll, Scorpio does a backflip and connects with a Japanese armdrag, sending Benoit out to the floor once again. They lock knuckles and jockey for position, Scorpio sending Benoit into a bridge. Benoit powers back up, Scorpio bridges as well. Benoit tries to land on him to break it but Scorpio holds strong. Benoit tries a monkey flip, Scorpio lands on his feet and connects with a dropkick, going back to the armbar as the crowd cheers. Same, Asheville crowd. Same. Benoit dodges a dropkick but misses an elbowdrop and gets hit flush with a superkick before we go back to the armbar once more. Ventura gets mad when Schiavone refers to them as ‘athletes’ not as wrestlers. The announcer says ten minutes have gone by in the match but I’m only at 8.5 on my stopwatch so I call shenanigans.
Benoit ducks a spinkick and takes Scorpio’s head off with a clothesline, popping the crowd. I like these Asheville folks, too bad WWE doesn’t travel there. Benoit connects with a backbreaker and holds Scorpio there to put more pressure on. Scorpio breaks the hold by grabbing the hair and Ventura yells at him to call it out. Benoit hangs Scorpio out to dry over the top rope and sends him to the floor with a series of kicks, then plays to the crowd. Scorpio sends Benoit into the turnbuckle but misses a missile dropkick from the top and Benoit covers for a two-count. To the reverse chinlock we go! Scorpio ducks a clothesline but runs into a standing spinebuster and Benoit transitions into a Lion Tamer-ish Boston Crab. Back to the reverse chinlock to kill some time. Announcer says fifteen minutes have gone by, we are 13.5 by my account. They have five minutes remaining in the match I believe. Benoit seats Scorpio on the top turnbuckle and connects with a super belly-to-back suplex from the top rope. Instead of covering Benoit holds his neck in pain. Finally he covers but only gets the two. Benoit connects with a Side Russian Legsweep but only gets two once again. Scorpio counters a belly-to-back with a lateral press but Benoit kicks out. Benoit counters a backdrop with a forearm and hits a power bomb for the 1…2…Scorpio uses his legs to kick his way out. Ventura blames the ref for stalling the count. Scorpio tries for a sunset flip but they mess it up a bit. Benoit charges at Scorpio in the corner, Scorpio hits him with a knee then takes him to the mat with an enzuigiri…that hits the shoulder but Benoit sells it with a flip anyway. Benoit ducks a couple of spinkicks but gets leveled with a clothesline. Scorpio connects with a 360 corner splash and heads to the top as one minute remains. Scorpio hits a spinning splash for the 1…2…BENOIT KICKS OUT. Benoit counters a victory roll with a flapjack and hits an Alabama Jam from the middle turnbuckle for the 1…2…NOPE. Benoit tries a German suplex, Scorpio counters with a roll-up for the 1…2…3! One second before the time limit expired. Supposedly.
2 Cold Scorpio defeated Chris Benoit via pinfall with a roll-up (Officially 19:59 but really 18:21)
- Scorpio and Benoit tore the house down with this one, especially the opening few minutes. It sagged a bit once Benoit took control and they started padding out the match but the end sequence picked it back up and Scorpio getting the win just in the knick of time was cool. Gave Scorpio the W while making Benoit look super credible. Can you believe WCW would sleep on this guy until 1995? Ridiculous. Also ridiculous and heartbreaking is that Benoit murdered his goddamn family. Ugh I’m going to be using all of my brain power to keep that disconnect going as I do these reviews. (***3/4)
Benoit argues that the time limit had expired while Scorpio is officially announced as the winner. Ventura is on Benoit’s side like the heel he is. Love it.
-To the interview stage we go where Bischoff shills the WCW Hotline. Dustin Rhodes is shown doing Hotline stuff with Gordon Solie and Michael Hayes. Maxx Payne is Bischoff’s guest. Payne shuts Bischoff up so he can finally talk. Payne plays ‘Taps’ on his guitar, dedicated to Rhodes.
‘The British Bulldog’ Davey Boy Smith vs. ‘Wild’ Bill Irwin
Smith was fired by the WWF in late-1992 as the company came under fire for allegations of steroids. He and The Ultimate Warrior were both receiving HGH in the mail and Vince had no choice but to get rid of them both. Seeing Smith show in WCW with the same gimmick was jarring to say the least for six year old me as I didn’t know how the business worked yet (still don’t). Made me think WWF and WCW were owned by the same guy. Turns out I was right but only about eight years too early. His opponent, Bill Irwin, has been bumming around WCW for a few years at this point, mostly losing matches to established talent. A couple years after this he’d don a hockey gimmick and call himself The Goon for the WWF. I would’ve just stayed put in WCW given that choice, yikes.
Smith gets a crazy loud pop for his WCW PPV debut but weirdly comes out to a generic rock theme. As expected Smith easily overpowers Irwin at the start, Irwin desperately complaining of a hair pull to save face. Irwin catches Smith with a series of rights but gets taken down with a series of shoulderblocks. They do a criss cross and Smith clotheslines Irwin out to the floor. No DQ called as expected. Smith connects with a military press slam, Irwin stumbles out to the floor while backing away from the Bulldog. Irwin takes control for a bit, clotheslining Smith in the corner and hitting a back elbow off the Irish whip. Smith easily kicks out of a pinfall attempt at 1, throwing Irwin across the ring. Irwin slaps on a reverse chinlock. Smith escapes and both men trade jabs. Smith wins the shootout and connects with the delayed vertical suplex he’s known for. The Asheville crowd barks at Smith, trying to reappropriate what they used to do for Rick Steiner. Stop trying to make fetch happen, guys. Irwin gets his boot up when Smith charges at him and tries a crossbody but Smith catches him and hits the Running Powerslam for the 1…2…3.
Davey Boy Smith defeated Bill Irwin via pinfall with the Running Powerslam (5:50)
- It’s Smith’s big PPV debut so it makes sense he’d win in short order. Irwin did manage to put up a little fight though so good for him. Honestly this would have been right at home as a Power Hour main event but hey they needed a cooldown match after Scorpio/Benoit and Smith is super over so why not put it on the big show? (**)
After a clip of that real dumb ‘White Castle of Fear’ video they shot to hype tonight’s main event we go to Schiavone with the victorious British Bulldog. Smith says he’s come to WCW for one reason: to become the World Champion (or as he said ‘World Championship Heavyweight Champion of the World’). Smith puts current champ Big Van Vader on notice. Looks like we’ve got our next title feud set.
Cut to the interview stage where Badd is with Hyatt. Badd hypes WCW’s big UK tour.
FALLS COUNT ANYWHERE
Cactus Jack vs. ‘Mr. Wonderful’ Paul Orndorff
These two began their feud just the month prior when Jack officially turned face. Bischoff tries to interview Orndorff but Jack chases him out to the ringside area with a snow shovel as the bell rings. They brawl around the ring, Jack ramming Orndorff into the guardrail. Jack lifts up the safety mats and slams him on the concrete…well sorta, Orndorff goes feet first. Jack follows up with an elbowdrop but only gets a two-count. Jack climbs to the middle turnbuckle and hits a flying sunset flip on the concrete but only gets two. WAS IT WORTH IT, JACK?!? Jeeeeez. Orndorff moves the action into the ring and belts Jack with a clothesline off the Irish whip. The action moves into the entrance aisle as Orndorff whips Jack so hard into the guardrail that he flips over and hits hard on the concrete. Jack fights back with jabs and tosses Orndorff back into the aisle, but Mr. Wonderful gets the last laugh in that exchange by hitting a vertical suplex onto the guardrail. Back inside the ring Orndorff removes the brace from Jack’s right knee in an effort to injure it even more. Orndorff suplexes Jack out to the apron, missing the ringpost which is what I’m sure they were going for. Oh well them’s the breaks. Orndorff punishes the knee with a Figure Four, the same night that Ric Flair is making his WCW return. Orndorff uses the ropes for leverage which legal but the ref argues with him anyway to the chagrin of Ventura. Jack escapes with a couple of right hands but can’t put his weight on his knee yet and gets clotheslined back out to the floor. Orndorff drives the knee repeatedly into the concrete floor and rams him head-first into the apron. Orndorff gets back into the ring and grabs the knee brace, walloping Jack with it and Jack smacks down to the floor once again, taking all of it on his back and neck. Orndorff rolls Jack into the ring and grabs a steel chair, cracking him repeatedly in the knee. Orndorff signals for the Piledriver while Jack grabs his shovel. Jack hits Orndorff in the skull with the steel and covers for the 1…2…3.
Cactus Jack defeated Paul Orndorff via pinfall (12:18)
- Decent brawl with Jack taking some crazy bumps. That suplex onto the guardrail caused me to audibly yell and scare my dog. People aren’t supposed to bend like it, least of all a guy built like he is. Despite it being Falls Count Anywhere though a lot of the action was inside the ring and things didn’t get too out of hand like I was hoping for so that was a bit of a downer but overall I enjoyed it just fine. (**1/2)
-Bischoff, Badd, & Hyatt are on the interview stage. Bischoff chides Hyatt for not getting the interview with Ric Flair she promised, Hyatt mentions that Flair will be making a full-on appearance later in the show. Badd then hypes the Rhodes/Payne match later on.
The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express (Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson) vs. The Heavenly Bodies (Tom Prichard & ‘Sweet’ Stan Lane) [w/ Jim Cornette & ‘Beautiful’ Bobby Eaton]
Jim Cornette left the company with Stan Lane back in 1990 but returned three years later in a talent exchange with Cornette’s southern territory Smoky Mountain Wrestling. Eaton, being the nice guy that he is, apparently harbors no resentment towards his former manager and Midnight Express partner as he’s rejoined with them. The Heavenly Bodies are probably best known for their uneventful WWF run, with Prichard teaming with Jimmy Del Ray, but this is the original configuration and honestly the better one. I like Lane way better than Del Ray. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express hopefully need no introduction so I’m not going to give them one. These teams have been feuding in SMW over the Tag Team Championship, because Morton and Gibson just couldn’t stop clowning on Cornette’s teams. The neverending blood feud. Love it.
Eaton is introduced as a member of The Heavenly Bodies and gets ready to actually wrestle the match alongside Lane and Prichard but is forced to the back by a couple of referees. Some of the Asheville fans are understandably upset because we almost got a Midnight Express reunion. Match starts with Gibson getting the upper hand on Prichard. Morton tags in and connects with a hurricanrana. Lane tags in and runs right into an armdrag takeover. Lane tries repeatedly to make the tag but gets pulled away, Prichard runs in and Morton sends both Heavenly Bodies into one another. Gibson blocks the corner so Morton doesn’t get hurt during an Irish whip. Prichard tries to do the same thing but gets knocked off and Lane gets sent butt-first into his face. The Bodies, having been outmatched, bail to the floor to regroup as Cornette calls for a time-out. Homophobic heat for Cornette when he consoles Prichard with a hug. Morton ducks a clothesline and hits an atomic drop on Prichard, sending him into a charging Lane. Prichard catches a kick from Gibson, Gibson hits an enzuigiri and gets a two-count. The Wrecking Crew were supposed to wrestle The Bodies originally, but RNR got themselves into the match instead. Poor whoever The Wrecking Crew were. Morton fights his way out of the corner and the Bodies get some advice from Cornette. A criss cross goes down and Morton chases Cornette right into the still-running Lane. Awesome. Gibson with a double noggin kocker to the Bodies, Morton decks Cornette right off the apron. This match is super fun.
Cornette distracts Morton, Lane knees him out to the floor and distracts the ref so Prichard and Cornette can get their shots in. Lane drops Morton with a clothesline and gyrates for the crowd. More double teaming behind the ref’s back. Lane hits a spinning neckbreaker but Morton narrowly escapes. Prichard tags in and The Bodies connect with a double snapmare and double chokehold until the ref forces a break. Quick tags from The Bodies, who hits a suplex/powerslam combo. Lane follows up with an elbowdrop and Cornette distracts the ref for whatever reason while Morton rolls Lane up for a sunset flip. Prichard breaks the count and illegally enters the contest. Phantom tags are the worst. Prichard counters a backdrop with a sitout power bomb but only gets two. Batista is not amused. Lane tags in and counters a crossbody into a powerslam for the 1…2…NOPE. Prichard tags back in and Morton hits the Bodies with a double DDT. Gibson gets the hot tag, backdrop to Prichard and right hand to Lane. Prichard clears Morton from the ring and the Bodies double-team Gibson. Morton reenters and the Express hit a double dropkick on Prichard. Cornette climbs the apron, Gibson slingshots him into the ring. He distracts Gibson long enough for Prichard to hit him with a bulldog but the ref is too distracted so he only gets two. Prichard backdrops Gibson to the floor, hurting his knee on the way down. Morton covers Prichard while Cornette distracts the ref, Eaton tries to interfere but hits Prichard instead. Gibson reenters the ring and covers for the 1…2…3!
The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express defeated The Heavenly Bodies when Robert Gibson pinned Tom Prichard (12:52)
- This match is pure fun. I’m not a big fan of tag team wrestling but the southern-style is fun enough for me to get over it. The action was good, Cornette’s shenanigans were great, it all gelled together beautifully. The Bodies were a way better fit for WCW, too bad they ended up jobbing out in the WWF like they did. Man this PPV is pretty damn good. (***1/4)
Eaton and Prichard get into a shoving match but are broken apart by Cornette and Lane.
‘The Natural’ Dustin Rhodes [c] vs. Maxx Payne for the WCW UNITED STATES HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
Rhodes joined WCW when his father, Dusty Rhodes, took over as booker back in 1991 but unlike Erik Watts he kept improving and is actually worthy of the spot he’s in. Payne is new to WCW, and the mainstream wrestling world, and it’s surprising to say the least that he’s getting such a big match so early. Payne’s wrestling gear is very generic, the complete opposite of his entrance attire. They make a big deal about this match being under ‘WCW Rules’ which pretty much sets up a cop-out finish but hey maybe I’m being a negative nancy, let’s see what happens.
Rhodes goes right at Payne to start, sending him scurrying to the floor after a running clothesline. Rhodes rolls Payne up for two, then takes the big man to the mat with an armdrag, and Payne once again bails to the floor. Payne backs Rhodes against the ropes and escapes a wristlock with a pair of knees to the midsection. Rhodes ducks a clothesline and hits a jumping armdrag but they’re in the ropes so he can’t follow up. Rhodes keeps things in his favor with an armbar (ARMBAR!), pushing his knee into the side of Payne’s head. Payne escapes a wristlock with a rake to the eyes but his offense doesn’t last long as Rhodes goes back to the arm. Payne manages to catch the champ off-guard with a back elbow but his splash attempt is countered with a big boot. Payne reverses an Irish whip and yanks on Rhodes’ arm as he starts weakening it for the Payne Killer. Rhodes counters a Payne Killer attempt with a headscissors but gets felled quickly after with a clothesline. The action moves to the floor and Payne wrenches Rhodes’ arm around the bottom rope. Rhodes tries a crossbody, Payne counters with a slam and misses an elbowdrop. Rhodes connects with a lariat and the crowd starts waking up a little bit after being put to sleep during this contest. Rhodes hits a vertical suplex and covers for the 1…2…nope. Rhodes locks in an abdominal stretch (?!?) in the center of the ring, Payne hits the ref and the match ends in a DQ. Ugh.
Dustin Rhodes [c] defeated Maxx Payne via DQ to retain the WCW UNITED STATES CHAMPIONSHIP (11:26)
- This match blew. I knew this PPV was going to have dip somewhere in quality but holy hell it had to be a championship match. Payne wasn’t ready for this and they almost put the entire crowd to sleep. Jesus. Boo this one. (DUD)
Payne continues the attack after the bell rings, hitting Rhodes with a shoulderbreaker on the floor and continuing to injure The Natural’s arm. Rhodes fights back, sending him into the post and the apron. The action moves back inside the ring and Rhodes clears Payne out with a dropkick as three refs try to break things up. I don’t caaaaare. What a shitshow.
Gary Michael Cappeta introduces ‘The Nature Boy’ Ric Flair and the crowd goes nuts. Schiavone welcomes him back, Flair says he’s back and ready to rock and roll. He’ll be sitting in on commentary for the NWA World Heavyweight Title match. Flair mentions he never lost the NWA World Title which is false. He never lost the WCW World Title but they like mixing the lineages together.
The Great Muta [c] vs. Barry Windham for the NWA WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
Muta defeated Masa Chono for the NWA Title the month before in Japan at NJPW’s annual January 4th event at the Tokyo Dome (now known as Wrestle Kingdom). This match was aired a few weeks later on PPV via WCW under the name Japan Supershow III which happens to be the first WCW PPV I ever ordered. I love that match to this day, even if it probably hasn’t aged well. We’ll see when I eventually pull that VHS out to review it. Windham is Flair’s former running buddy in the Four Horsemen and also the man Muta eliminated at Starrcade 1992 to win the second annual BattleBowl so there’s some history between these two. Hiro Matsuda and Grizzly Smith accompany Muta to ringside as they’re members of the championship committee. Randy Anderson goes over the rules of the match as the crowd almost drowns him out with a ‘We Want Flair’ chant.
Muta and Windham lock knuckles in a test of strength, Windham bringing the champ to his knees. Muta gets back to his feet, Windham turns it into an almost Northern Lights suplex to break it. Muta with a shoulderblock and a spin kick right to the jaw before going into the side headlock takeover. Flair and Ventura are pumped to finally be in the same company at the same time. Windham tries to counter with a belly-to-back suplex but Muta holds on and brings him back to the mat. Windham escapes and takes Muta down with a shoulderblock but ends up running right into a dropkick and Muta goes back to a side headlock takeover. Windham backs Muta into the corner and connects with a right hand, but Muta counters his suplex attempt with one of his own and follows up with one of his legendary quick elbowdrops before, once again, applying a side headlock.
Windham finally manages to break out and dodges a dropkick, following up with a DDT that Muta takes on the top of his head. Windham sends Muta to the floor and drops him on the protective mat with a belly-to-back suplex. Windham brings Muta back in with a vertical suplex but only gets two. It just got smoky in the arena out of nowhere, don’t know where that’s coming from. Something on fire? Windham gets another two-count following a kneedrop and goes to wear Muta down with a sleeperhold, bringing him to the mat and using the ropes for extra leverage. Ref finally catches him cheating and forces the break. Windham connects with a side salto suplex but Muta kicks out of the lateral press, his facepaint all but gone. Muta and Windham trade strikes, Windham stopping the champ with a rake to the eyes. Windham with a scoop slam and elbowdrop but once again Muta kicks out and the challenger is getting a little annoyed. To the reverse chinlock we go. Muta escapes and goes for a sunset flip but Windham counters with a right hand. These guys are sweating profusely, but apparently it’s almost 100 degrees in that ring so I can’t blame them. Muta ducks a clothesline and connects with a crossbody for the 1…2…Windham kicks out in the nick of time. Muta counters a piledriver attempt with a backdrop but doesn’t have enough to follow up and Windham is back on the attack. Muta catches Windham with a spin kick out of nowhere, Windham responds with a thumb to the eye. Rock beats scissors. Windham seats Muta on the top turnbuckle, signaling for the Superplex but Muta fights him off and hits a flying chop from the top, following up with a back handspring elbow in the corner. Muta connects with a backbreaker but misses the Moonsault. Muta counters a vertical suplex with a belly-to-back suplex. Muta wakes up and goes for a second Moonsault but Windham gets the knees up and follows up with a lariat and a spike DDT for the 1…2…3! New NWA World Champion!
Barry Windham defeated The Great Muta [c] via pinfall with a spike DDT to win the NWA WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP (24:09)
- The pace was slower than my ADD brain is used to but I liked the match overall. A solid back and forth wrestling match that went on just a little too long. Cool to see Windham get the win and the NWA Title though; he’d been long pegged as a future World Champion so it’s nice to see him win it here even if the NWA Title isn’t at the top of the mountain any more. I wish I had more to say about this one other than ‘pretty good’ but here we are. (***)
Flair straps the NWA World Title around Windham’s waist but Windham takes offense to it so the Nature Boy struts out awkwardly. The seeds of that feud have been sewn.
-Bischoff, Badd, & Hyatt hype the White Castle of Fear to kill some time.
THE WHITE CASTLE OF FEAR (UNSANCTIONED STRAP MATCH)
Sting vs. Big Van Vader [w/ Harley Race]
Sting and Vader have been feuding since last year when the latter ended the former’s reign as WCW Champion. It’s one of WCW’s greatest rivalries and it’s no surprise as to why, these two worked great together. Vader’s WCW World Title isn’t on the line for this one as it’s unsanctioned by WCW, an excuse they wouldn’t use once they went all in on those terrible Uncensored events. To win the White Castle of Fear you need to drag your opponent to all four corners of the ring, a stipulation that never gets used nowadays but one I miss.
Both men are attached at the left wrist as the bell rings. They try to grab more of the strap for leverage, Vader overpowers Sting and yanks him to the mat, posing for the crowd. Vader pulls Sting in and connects with a hard clothesline and follows up with an elbowdrop to the midsection. Vader flattens Sting with a splash from the middle turnbuckle. Sting surprisingly gets right to his feet and peppers Vader with repeated right hands, sending the champ down to the mat as the crowd goes nuts. Sting connects with a front-face enzuigiri kick followed by a clothesline from the middle turnbuckle. Sting connects with two Superfly Splashes in succession then exposes Vader’s back for some whippin’. Race climbs to the apron, Sting belts him off but Vader manages to roll to the floor while his opponent is distracted. Sting pulls the strap and sends Vader into the ring post repeatedly, Vader’s back full on bleeding from being whipped. GROSS, MAN. Sting slams Vader on the floor and starts touching ring posts as he drags him around the ring. Apparently you can win on the floor as well. Vader stops the third, pulling the strap and sending Sting hard into the guardrail. Sting and Vader roll in, the former hitting the latter with a Samoan Drop. Vader bodies Sting and goes for the Power Bomb but Sting counters with a back bodydrop. Vader dodges a Superfly Splash and connects with a standing splash of his own. Vader potatoes the hell out of Sting’s skull then flattens him with a Samoan Drop of his own. Vader heads to the middle buckle and connects with a Vader Bomb then whips him hard across the back with the leather strap.
Vader picks Sting up in a Fireman’s carry and climbs to the middle buckle, falling back with a SUPER Samoan Drop. Hot damn. Vader touches two buckles, Sting kicks him and the ref waives it off so he has to start again. He fell into the buckle though so…you know what, strap matches are weird sometimes. Vader goes for another Vader Bomb but Sting rolls out of the way. Vader climbs to the top, Sting yanks the strap and crotches Vader then pulls him off sending him crashing to the mat. Sting connects with a couple of leaping right hands, Vader responds with a Greco-Roman thumb to the eye. Vader connects with a superplex from the middle buckle and starts touching corners. He gets to three but Sting stops the fourth with a hard kick, breaking the count. Vader backs Sting into the corner and peppers him with a series of hard ass jabs. Vader tries to pull a now busted open Sting to him but eats a tumble-kick for his trouble. Sting with back elbows and a release overhead German suplex followed by a DDT (looked like they were gonna do a vertical suplex but Vader was already on the way down so they switched it). With anger in his eyes Sting beats Vader down with hard ass rights of his own. Sting takes Vader’s mask off and picks him up, knocking the ref over. Sting almost hits all four buckles but trips over the ref so NOPE. Vader, bleeding profusely from his left ear, hits a sitout splash and ties Sting’s foot up in the strap to drag him along. One, two, three…Sting holds onto the bottom rope and kicks Vader into the final corner WHICH APPARENTLY COUNTS and the ref calls for the bell. Vader wins. Wait a minute.
Big Van Vader defeated Sting in a WHITE CASTLE OF FEAR Strap Match (20:57)
- The nWo can go kick rocks, the greatest story WCW ever had was the blood feud between Sting and Vader. These two had some of the best matches in this company’s history and every time they met in the squared circle you could just feel the hatred between the two come out in the action. You could really believe this feud, a testament to both men. This match was no different, a brutal and bloody encounter that totally tore the house down and was worthy of the main event. I loved every minute of it and that’s despite the hokey ‘corner touching’ rules. It was vicious and visceral and exactly what I was looking for. However I do have to take umbrage with the ending; earlier in the match Sting kicked Vader into the corner and the ref called off the corner count but later on the same thing happens and the ref calls for the bell? That’s dumb. Maybe Vader accidentally fell into the corner earlier in the match so they had to just go with the ending anyway but it was a little hard to buy after seeing that. Issues with the end aside this match is definitely worth your time if you like watching two wrestlers in a blood feud massacre each other. The Sting/Vader feud is some of the best pro wrestling has ever offered. (****)
Sting angrily pelts Vader with the strap some more before the champ and his manager bail out.
Cut to Bischoff, Badd, and Hyatt on the interview stage. Badd and Hyatt have a party to get to so they bail and Bischoff brings in new NWA Champion Barry Windham. Windham says he’s on the prowl and there’s no championship in the world that’s safe.
Cut to Schiavone and Ventura, who close out the show.
FINAL THOUGHTS: SuperBrawl III is one of the best WCW PPVs I have ever seen, with a good to great undercard and a stellar main event. There was one major dud on the show with Rhodes/Payne but outside of that the action was great and the show moved smoothly along. I definitely recommend this one to any fan looking to check something out on WWE Network. And seriously HOW GOOD WAS BIG VAN VADER IN WCW? Goddamn.