WCW RetroView fans, we’ve reached one of my favorite WCW pay-per-view. Today we look back at WCW Fall Brawl 1997. The war between WCW and the nWo is still red hot, but WCW has a player in power with the new commissioner, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper. One of his biggest moves is setting up the year’s War Games match. The 1997 edition of the dual-ring 8-man cage match features the Four Horsemen taking on the nWo.
Beginning the show is a video package highlighting Arn Anderson’s emotional retirement speech and offering of his spot within the Horsemen to Curt Hennig. It also shows us the nWo’s reprehensible reenactment, complete with Kevin Nash’s farcical portrayal of Anderson. This act sparked the feud between The Four Horsemen and the nWo leading into War Games. In the main event, Ric Flair, Curt Hennig, Chris Benoit, and Mongo McMichael take on Team nWo: Kevin Nash, Syxx, Konnan, and Buff Bagwell.
Following the video package. Tony Schiavone, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, and Mike Tenay welcome us to the show. Conspicuous by his absence is the late, great Dusty Rhodes. The trio talks about how the Horsemen have united WCW and are ready for war with the nWo.
WCW Fall Brawl 1997
WCW Cruiserweight Championship Match
Chris Jericho (c) vs. Eddie Guerrero
We see two future legends kicking off the show in their prime in a championship match. Heading into this match, these two had been engaged in a competitive series of TV matches. Their most recent match saw an attack by Guerrero after the bell.
Guerrero comes out first in full heel mode, something that the announcers not named Heenan are disappointed in. Jericho comes out next; however, the WWE Network’s version of the event features his WWE theme music instead of his WCW music. The crowd is fired up for this match, serenading the champion with “Jericho” chants. Early on, the two trade hip tosses, arm drags, headlocks, and takedowns, each able to match the other’s efforts. When Jericho takes control, Eddie is superb at selling his offense.
Schiavone and Tenay continue emphasizing the change in Eddie’s attitude and demeanor. Jericho’s strategy is obvious, slow down Guerrero’s high-flying abilities with holds and submissions. Eddie uses heel tactics like pulling Jericho’s head down on the ropes and consecutive dropkicks to the back to gain the advantage. This really is a solid match with both men trying to wear down their opponent.
The sequence to end the match Is fantastic. Jericho hits back-to-back powerbombs before putting Guerrero on the top turnbuckle. From there, he attempts a superplex, but Guerrero twists his body and lands on top of Jericho. Seizing the advantage, Guerrero wins the Cruiserweight Championship with his patented frog splash.
Winner – Eddie Guerrero
After the opening match, we cut Jeff Jarrett being interviewed for the WCW website.
Jarrett talks about how he plans to beat Dean Malenko.
The Steiner Brothers w/ Ted DiBiase © vs. Harlem Heat w/ Miss Jackie
The “Living Legend” Larry Zbyszko joins the commentary team as Schiavone sums this up perfectly… “You’re going to see two of the finest teams in the world tonight.” Scott Steiner and Stevie Ray begin the match at a methodical pace. Neither team wanting to make the first mistake. Both trade power moves like a side slam and hip toss before Scott gains the early advantage with a perfect belly-to-belly suplex. This quick turn of momentum brings in Booker T. Booker’s flurry of momentum is met with a belly-to-belly suplex then full-body press by Scott. This brings in a fired-up Rick Steiner, and we get our patented Steiner pose mid-ring.
The two teams trade momentum, with Booker T emphatically side kicking Scott over the top rope. Jacqueline gets in a few punches on Scott outside the ring before Stevie Ray chokes him with a television cord. Harlem Heat gets an awkwardly close two count after nailing a heat seeker. The finish comes a bit abruptly when Rick clotheslines Booker T into a German suplex for a pin.
Winners – The Steiner Brothers
WCW Fall Brawl 1997
WCW Television Championship Match
Alex Wright © vs. Ultimo Dragon
Dragon comes out first in his impressive silver and black ensemble. Then comes out the dancing Television Champion. The camera shot of fans dancing is pure 90’s gold.
Wright begins the match using his power to take the early advantage. His dancing celebration leads to a stiff dropkick by Dragon followed by an arm drag that sends the champion to the floor. The crowd is firmly behind Ultimo Dragon, cheering on the former champion. Wright controls a fair portion of the match, something Heenan praises… “He’s making Dragon wrestle his match.”
This is a solid 18-minute match with Wright retaining using his impressive German suplex. Crazy to think how much of a push Wright had with such a goofy character.
Winner – Alex Wright
Mean Gene is next in the locker room for his WCW Hotline plug. This week on the hotline, Okerlund will be interviewing Arn Anderson. Okerlund is interrupted by a charging Nash, Syxx, Konnan and Bagwell. He investigates, only to find Curt Hennig laid out in the locker room.
Jeff Jarrett w/ Queen Debra vs. Dean Malenko
The winner of this earns a shot at Mongo McMichael’s United States Championship the following month at Halloween Havoc. This is a match of two expert technicians, and they put on a clinic. Not a lot of flash, just two second-generation wrestlers doing what they’ve trained their whole lives to do. Both men attempt to utilize their dangerous submission holds throughout the match. In the end, it’s Jarrett’s version of the figure four that gets Dean Malenko to submit, surprisingly.
Winner – Jeff Jarrett
Up next, we get a black and white promo of Nash and his cohorts taunting Hennig and the Four Horsemen.
Nash foreshadows that the nWo has a plan for the upcoming War Games match.
Mortis & Wrath w/ James Vandenburg vs. The Faces of Fear
The Barbarian and Mortis begin the match, and Mortis takes the early advantage with his martial arts attack. His advantage is short-lived as the Barbarian responds with a flurry of punches and power moves. Meng tags in next and unleashes his crazed assault before a quick tag is made to Wrath. From here, the two big men absolutely brawl in the corner, both wildly throwing punches. Wrath eventually gains the advantage with a flying lariat from the middle turnbuckle. The Faces of Fear pull off their impressive back body drop into a powerbomb on Mortis, waking the quiet crowd.
Vandenburg helps tip the momentum in favor of his team, grabbing the ropes before the Barbarian can jump off the top turnbuckle. His interference grabs Meng’s attention allowing Mortis and Wrath to hit their combination powerbomb neck breaker. Mortis and Wrath hit yet another impressive double team a few minutes later when Mortis super plexes the Barbarian from the top turnbuckle while sitting on Wrath’s shoulders. The pin is interrupted by Meng, who absolutely demolishes both of his opponents. Another Vandenburg distraction leads to the manager and Mortis being locked in a double Tongan Death grip. However, this allows Wrath to come in and finish the monster with a modified chokeslam for the win.
Winners – Wrath & Mortis
Backstage, Mean Gene is joined by Flair, Benoit, and Mongo. No update is given on Hennig as each man makes a statement about the upcoming War Games match. Flair passionately talks about having more heart than all of the nWo combined, finishing the promo saying… “We will sweat, we will bleed, and you will pay the price.”
Scott Norton vs. The Giant
Talk about a battle of big men. Norton and The Giant both take it to each other right out of the gate, spilling to the floor quickly. Norton attempts a suplex, but the Giant reverses it. Norton gains a brief advantage back in the ring, which includes a side suplex and slam into the ropes. The suplex awakens the Giant, who impressively nips up before finishing Norton with an even more impressive chokeslam.
Winner – The Giant
WCW Fall Brawl 1997
No Disqualification Tag Team Match
Diamond Dallas Page & Lex Luger vs. Macho Man Randy Savage & Scott Hall
Entering this match, Luger and DDP weren’t on the best of terms. Commissioner Piper removed them from the War Games match due to doubts about their cohesion. Hall and Luger begin the match, and Luger’s power shines through. Luger fires up the crowd with a pair of running forearms and a double clothesline before full body pressing Savage to the outside onto Hall. Luger tags in DDP, and it’s amazing to see how over with the crowd he is at this point. Every move he does receives a loud pop from the audience as they anxiously wait for a Diamond Cutter.
Savage, providing a quick distraction, swings the momentum into the favor of the nWo. Eventually, chaos breaks out, and Hall is able to beat down Luger to the point that he gets stuck between both rings. With Luger incapacitated, Savage and Hall throw Page from ring to ring. The referee is taken out by Hall before a second ref meets the same fate. This causes Larry Zbyszko to leave the commentary table to confront Scott Hall. After a brief, tension-filled moments on whether Zbyszko will get in the ring or not, Luger sneaks back in. Zbyszko shoves Hall, allowing Luger to roll him up; the Living Legend then makes a fast three count giving the WCW duo the victory.
Winners – Diamond Dallas Page & Lex Luger
Mean Gene returns for his second hotline plug, promoting Arn Anderson’s interview.
Okerlund segues to the promotional video for WCW’s next pay-per-view Halloween Havoc.
WCW Fall Brawl 1997
War Games Match’
Team Horsemen vs. Team nWo
As with most WCW pay-per-view events, Michael Buffer rings in the match with his vintage… “Let’s get ready to Rumble…….” Pyro goes off, and the covered double cage begins its descent from the rafters as Buffer goes over the rules:
- There are seven periods of War Games, the first period last five minutes. All other periods are two minutes.
- One man from each team enters during the first period.
- At the end of the first period, the head referee flips a coin; the winning team sends in it’s second man.
- After the second period ends, the other team sends in its second man.
- After the third period, the team which won the coin toss sends in its third man.
- Teams alternate during the remaining periods until all eight men are in.
- Surrender and submission is the only way to win.
- No pinfall, count-outs, or disqualifications.
- Official time is kept at ringside; the head referee has the final say in War Games.
Team nWo comes out first, full of their usual swagger and bravado. Team Horsemen come out to a rousing ovation; you can tell they are in Flair country. As expected, Hennig is missing.
WCW Fall Brawl 1997
Buff Bagwell and Chris Benoit enter the cage first for the opening five minutes. Bagwell poses and taunts Benoit before slapping him across the face. This enrages Benoit, who proceeds to throw Bagwell against the cage multiple times. Benoit is more than willing to use the cage as a weapon, even suplexing Bagwell into it. He attempts the diving headbutt; however, he misses, allowing Bagwell to gain the advantage.
Team nWo wins the coin toss, and Konnan celebrates gaining the first advantage. Konnan enters the cage for Team nWo, and Benoit is able to fight off both men, even body slamming Bagwell on a fallen Konnan. The numbers advantage eventually catches Benoit when Konnan hits a DDT. Team nWo only has the advantage for a minute until Mongo McMichael enters the cage. McMichael body slams both nWo members, allowing Benoit to recover.
The four pair off, Benoit and Bagwell, Mongo and Konnan. From here, the Horsemen have an advantage until Syxx enters the match. Syxx is met by a furious Benoit, who throws him around the ring. As with any War Games match, the numbers advantage eventually catches up with the Horsemen. As the clock counts down to Flair’s entrance, Curt Hennig makes his way ringside. Complete with arm in a sling, Hennig and Flair discuss strategy before Flair enters the cage.
WCW Fall Brawl 1997
The crowd goes berzerk for Flair’s entrance, and the Nature Boy delivers. Each nWo member feels Flair’s wrath. Now three on three, the Horsemen build momentum. Flair zeroes in on Syxx in-ring one while Mongo and Benoit take care of Konnan and Bagwell in ring two.
Nash enters next, giving the nWo their final numbers advantage. He goes straight for Flair, hitting him with a big sidewalk slam. Nash then slams Benoit into the cage before the nWo’s big man hits Mongo with a big boot. In the final 20 seconds, before Hennig enters, Flair nails both Syxx and Bagwell with low blows.
Hennig enters, removes the arm sling, revealing handcuffs, but he attacks Mongo, not Kevin Nash. With a shocked crowd watching on, Hennig attacks Flair. As Mongo and Benoit are handcuffed to the cage, the nWo continues its assault on Flair. Schiavone and Heenan are absolutely disgusted and shocked on commentary as the nWo picks apart Ric Flair.
WCW Fall Brawl 1997
Nash grabs a mic and asks Benoit if they surrender; Benoit spits in his face. He asks Mongo, and the former Chicago Bear refuses. The Assault continues, and Benoit spits in Bagwell’s face when asked to surrender. Nash then nails a jackknife powerbomb on Flair. The nWo moves Flair over to the cage entrance, and they threaten to slam the door on Flair’s head. Mongo surrenders in an effort to save his leader. Hennig, in an absolutely disgusting display, slams the door on Flair’s head anyway.
As the crowd sits in stunned silence, Nash announces… “Death of the Horsemen, right in their own backyard.”
Winners – Team nWo
The show ends with Flair being attended to by paramedics as Tony Schiavone condemns the nWo for their actions.
Another WCW RetroView in the books.
Our next visit down WCW memory lane takes us to Halloween Havoc 1997.
A night featuring two of WCW’s greatest matches along with one of their worst.