Previously on the Best and Worst of WCW SuperBrawl: 1997’s super duper brawl saw Rey Mysterio Jr. try to kill Prince Iaukea with a pelvis to the face, Debra McMichael shockingly betraying her husband with a metal briefcase, and Rowdy Roddy Piper spend a week in Alcatraz to ride a boat to San Francisco and announce he’s coming.
Remember, if you want us to keep writing 20-year-old WCW jokes, be sure to click those share buttons, recommend the column to friends and drop down into our comments section to let us know what you thought of the show (or our jokes). “Roddy Piper looks like he’s masturbating into the ocean” jokes don’t write themselves.
And now, the vintage Best and Worst of WCW SuperBrawl VIII, originally aired on February 22, 1998.
Best, But Very Worst: Rick Martel Has One Of The Best Matches Of His Career, Which Is Then Over
What you see in that picture is Rick Martel getting hip-tossed across the ring and catching the middle rope with his right leg on the way down. That badly damages the cartilage inside the knee, tears a ligament, and fractures Martel’s leg. It’s easy to miss if you aren’t looking for it — and Martel incredibly continues wrestling for several minutes after it happens, walking, running, jumping off the ropes and improvising a new finish — making you think it’s not a big deal. Martel apparently gets injured again trying to take a Harlem Sidekick, and it all adds up to a terrible truth: his in-ring career is over, and aside from one more, one-match attempted comeback in July, this is his final wrestling match.
Here’s the hip-toss in GIF form, which gets a little grosser every time it loops:
This is supposed to be the first of two matches on the night for new Television Champion Martel, who according to every source you can find was supposed to pin Booker T, then pin Perry Saturn to sorta cap off his big return to championship glory and set the stage for the next cycle. They’d been playing with Martel as a tweener between Booker’s white-meat, white-pants babyface and Perry Saturn’s pansexual ’90s club drifter heel, but they end up having to come up with a new finish on the fly, get Martel out of there, run an unauthorized title change and call a complete, pay-per-view-quality Booker T vs. Saturn title match in the ring, off the tops of their heads.
Booker ends up on top at the end of the series, showing he’s capable of having a great 10-minute match with Martel, capable of confidently calling a major audible and carrying his injured opponent to a believable and exciting finish, on-the-fly work an impromptu PPV title match with a guy with a COMPLETELY different style, and make it all look like it was part of the show. He gets a literal handful of runs with the World Heavyweight Championship before the company folds and ends up a WWE Hall of Famer, and I think this expert example of Handling Business couldn’t have hurt.
Best: Tony Schiavone Figures Out My Job Description 20 Years Ago
Heh, how does he keep up with the news like that?
Best: When You RT Yourself
Match three for the night is La Parka vs. Disco Inferno, which falls somewhere between “not great for a La Parka match” and “really great for a Disco Inferno match.” Disco had been putting it together in the ring for a few months before this — and started using the Stone Cold Stunner, which will definitely make him the same level of star as Stone Cold Steve Austin — and La Parka is a joy to watch no matter what he’s doing because he is La Parka, but it’s … mostly dull. They don’t give it as much comedy as it needs, have Parka wrestle like a luchador on the WWE roster in 2015 instead of on the WCW roster in ’98, and it goes for an astonishing 12 minutes, because everything back then did. It’s one of the reasons we loved Goldberg so much. He wasn’t as much of an investment. WCW would be like HERE’S FLYBOY ROCCO ROCK VS. JIM DUGGAN AND IT’S 15 MINUTES LONG, HOPE IT’S GOOD, SORRY.
It’s put together well, though. The finish is a lot of fun, with La Parka’s chair-related hubris kicking in and him trying to hit an ultimate kill move on Disco off the ropes, only for it to backfire, and for Disco to rocket launch him off the top rope face-first into it. One Chartbuster later and it’s over, and WCW brought their foot down on the issue of whether or not the Saturday Night Fever guy could out-dance a sociopathic Mexican skeleton. When the match is starting, Schiavone’s like, “with all this nWo vs. WCW stuff going on we’ve got a match about DANCE STEPS?” That’s kinda what happens when you turn your entire promotion into a war zone but still wanna book dumb fun shit in the middle.
Best: Chris Jericho Makes Juventud Guerrera’s Life Miserable (And Helps Him)
The one part of the show most people will tell you is good is the Cruiserweight Championship vs. mask luchas de apuestas match between Chris Jericho and Juventud Guerrera. Before the match even really gets going, Jericho does two magnificent heel bits:
- trying to wrestle with the Cruiserweight Championship belt on, which is always funny for reasons I can barely explain, and
- getting knocked to the outside and pretending to be “knocked out,” complete with Our Gang-quality head raises to check and see how it’s going, so he can intentionally lose by count-out. It’s not even about winning, really, it’s more about Jericho being such a piece of garbage that he’s forcing Juventud to physically leave the ring and come get him like two minutes into the damn match
They pull out all the stops to get Juvy over here, even doing a false finish where he thinks he’s won with a 450 splash, but Jericho’s grabbed the rope at the last second. That causes Juvy to prematurely celebrate, allowing Jericho to go back on offense. It’s like Jericho’s writing and illustrating a classic Wasteland Survival Guide on how to get pre-Ring of Honor wrestling fans to boo you. Before too many of us figured out that bad guys who are really good at their jobs are the most fun wrestlers.
Juventud loses, of course, in a great finish with Jericho (cleanly!) escaping a couple of quick near-falls and big moves and reversing a hurricanrana into a Liontamer for the submission victory. Juvy’s forced to unmask, and we’re introduced to the weird Lucha Libre Michael Jackson we grew to love:
I think Juventud Guerrera is the only time a luchador unmasking in WCW actually worked. A couple of reasons for that, I think, the first being wonderful creative heel Chris Jericho getting him from masked to unmasked and actually caring about the story instead of, say, Kevin Nash unmasking Rey Mysterio Jr. because it’d be fun and nobody wants to make any merch money. As a luchador, Juvy was exciting, but just another guy. With his mask off, we were able to see what a weirdo he was and measure his (really good) facial expressions, which allowed late-90s WCW audiences to actually feel what he’s feeling instead of waiting quietly between springboards. Just to clarify, that’s just a difference in American wrestling audiences, especially at the time, and not the inability of luchadors to express themselves through body language. It was just the right fit for the right place, at the right time.
Also, Chris Jericho is the fucking greatest. +1 (or possibly -1) to Bobby Heenan for jumping in at the end of Tony Schiavone and Mike Tenay’s Very Serious Conversation about how important masks are to luchadors with, “Have a look at it this way, now when he’s delivering pizzas everybody’ll know him.”
Who Do You Think Wins This Brad Armstrong Vs. Goldberg Match That’s On Pay-Per-View For Some Reason
… Best? Davey Boy Smith Teaches Mongo McMichael About Ring Psychology
This feud — which, in case you’ve forgotten, was caused by a series of fussy run-ins and Mongo’s incredible line delivery of, “Don’t stand there drinking coffee when a man’s talking to you!” — pays off a Davey Boy Smith vs. Steve McMichael beef with, I shit you not, a psychology-heavy submission match built around an injured wrist.
It’s kind of brilliant, and kind of hilarious. Mongo misses an overhead punch (?) on the outside and accidentally punches the ring post, allowing Davey Boy to go on offense. When Mongo makes a comeback, things are going well until he has to do his signature three-point stance … which he CAN’T DO because his WRIST IS INJURED. Without being able to plant, he can explode off the line! It’s so funny. They’re out here working a match about realistically selling on offense where the key moment is, “football guy can’t do the football thing, and can’t just use his other arm?” At the same time, they’re out here working a match about realistically selling on offense. A total A for effort, and a C-minus at best for the actual work. I legitimately think Davey Boy’s worse than Mongo in 1998. At least Mongo’s trying hard and spent his life playing another sport, Dave Smith’s been doing this for 20 years.
I just wish Bulldog had worked Mongo’s coffee-slapping wrist as a callback. You two are never gonna headline the Tokyo Dome at this pace!
Best: DDP Hit A Diamond Cutter Out Of This
The best part of the show that still makes everyone a little uncomfortable to watch, no matter what, is Diamond Dallas Page defending the United States Championship against Chris Benoit. The story is that DDP knows Benoit’s great in the ring and wants to give him an opportunity to challenge for a championship, but there’s also a roving gang of ’90s grunge junkies following them around, trying to drop toe-hold them into opened folding chairs and hit them in the face with trash can lids.
This match rules, as you’d imagine, as it’s over 15 minutes of that amazing, pre-Crisis Benoit where yeah, he’s clearly better than everyone else in the ring, but he’s got the personality of a rake and the hair of a hockey player who really should’ve cut his hair 10 years ago, so he’s not gonna win. You KNOW he’s not gonna win. It’s understood. Lodi even has a sign in that says, “BENOIT, WE KNEW YOU’D LOSE.” And then he does! But the wrestling was great, as it always does in WCW when you’re at least two matches on the card away from whatever Hogan’s doing.
Worst: Fleur de Liz
Hey look, now we’re within two matches from whatever Hogan’s doing.
Lex Luger vs. Macho Man Randy Savage in a no disqualification match is happening because Macho Man’s in the middle of a feud with Hollywood Hogan but Hogan’s still gotta emasculate Sting, so he needs something important to do. Luger’s here because as soon as he’s done blasting his pecs and buying poncho flannels that make him look like a Mexican lumberjack, he’s gotta defend WCW’s honor against the New World Order.
This is right in the middle of the feud that would turn the nWo into nWo Hollywood and the Wolfpack, so bless WCW’s mess while they figure out how to get from point A to point B. Here, their best idea is to send the nWo out to the ring to attack both men, have the men able to beat up the entire group, and then have Hogan stand at ringside pursing his lips while Luger sneaks up behind Savage and Torture Racks him. The crowd chants “Luger sucks,” aaaand we’re just gonna move forward with this whether y’all like it or not.
Hogan’s semi-betrayal will definitely not come back to haunt him two matches from now.
Best: Scott Steiner Pump-starts His Career
Going back through these shows, pretty much every Scott Steiner appearance from Halloween Havoc ’97 until right now is the show where being muscle pals with Buff Bagwell is going to turn him heel. It was telegraphed so long I’m surprised it didn’t start carrying around a Halliburton. But we’re finally to the Fireworks Factory, as Good Brother Scott Steiner helps Rick clear the ring, pops the famous Steiner Brothers bulldog pose, winks at the camera and takes the first, violent step toward embracing his inner Freakzilla and achieving his true form. Let that GIF loop a couple of times and watch the crowd slowly react to what’s going on.
Two bad asides:
- The Outsiders are Tag Team Champions again, which means the next year of programming in the tag team division is just swerves, mismatched partners becoming tag champs over and over, and multiple vacancies, and
- Scott doesn’t immediately become Big Poppa Pump after this, but telling you his post-SuperBrawl identity (if you don’t remember it) would be spoiling a really poorly thought-out surprise.
At least now Scott and Buff can now officially bond over their shared love of The Stuff.
Worst: Hogan Kicks Sting’s Ass Again
are you serious right now
The main event of the show is the Most Important Match-up in the History of Our Sport™, a rematch from the rotten conclusion to Starrcade where the referee was supposed to make a fast count, Hogan told him not to backstage, and Sting ended up looking like a total piece of shit who never gets his momentum back. But we’ve also leaned into three months of stories revolving around, “will that one referee who didn’t do anything wrong here get his job back in time to ref the same match again,” and “Hogan can definitely kick Sting’s ass whenever he wants to.”
He acts scared of him in those big nWo vs. WCW brawls and sells like a desperate cartoon character, but when they actually have matches, it’s always Hogan punching Sting and Sting doing nothing. Sting just lets Hogan beat the shit out of him for like 10 minutes, then stops selling, flexes and screams. He gets some punches in the corner, but then Hogan’s garbage ass back-rakes him or something and it’s 10 more minutes of Sting getting shit-kicked. It’s insane, especially considering this is the third match in the series, and the first two were Sting getting squashed and losing to a normal count before everybody pretends he didn’t.
As soon as Sting starts actually doing things, we get two (2) separate multi-person run-ins so Macho Man can slide in, hit Hogan with a can of spray paint — the deadly, deadly aerosol can — and give Sting the win. So after all of that, after the two years of WCW vs. nWo storytelling with Sting as the avenging hero, WCW finally “wins the war” when an nWo guy hits another nWo guy for not being nWo enough. The next pay-per-view is main-evented by nWo vs. nWo, with the WCW Championship stuck in the semi-main, because we have to set up two different, concurrent nWos. The announce team loses their minds over WCW finally winning the war and vanquishing the New World Order, and Hogan even gets “WCW” spray-painted on torso. Which, you know, would mean a lot more if Sting didn’t lose it less than two months later to transition it back to Hogan.
The Giant returns, The Renegade returns (?), and the lifelong feud between Chris Jericho and Lenny Lane over who stole whose tapes begins. I wish I could tell you there’s another positive boom period coming up for WCW, but … well, you know, [gestures wildly at everything].