(2013 Scott sez: It occurs to me that I never actually posted this followup to the original drunk version.)The Netcop Retro Rant for Superbrawl VIII Quick background: I originally did a rant of this show from the live PPV broadcast, and I was both somewhat drunk and very annoyed at the time, so I gave it a bad rating. To make matters worse, the review was HORRIBLE, done in an experimental format that proved to be one of the worst reviews I’ve ever done. (Re-reading it now, it’s not so bad. I count my revamped RAW reviews in 2005 as worse than that.) So I felt I always owed this show a second look, and here it is… – Live from San Francisco, CA. Original airdate, Feb. 22 / 1998. – Your hosts are Tony, Bobby and Iron Mike. – Opening match, TV title: Rick Martel v. Booker T. Newsflash: I just heard that Jim Duggan fished the TV title out of the garbage on the WCWSN tapings, so there’s another title going from dead to worse. (Yes, this was a thing that REALLY HAPPENED. There’s a top 5 list for someone to follow up with on Wrestlecrap – Top 5 Worst Ways A Title Was Awarded. HHH still wins.) Meanwhile, two years ago, it actually meant something. Martel won the thing from Booker on Nitro shortly before this, and Booker was feuding with Saturn at the time, so it ended with this as a rematch for the title first, and the winner gets Saturn immediately after in another title match. (Today they’d just have Teddy Long make a three-way after all three guys lost to the other secondary champion in Beat the Clock qualifiers.) Booker goes after Martel quickly, clotheslining him to the floor. Raven and the Flock join us at ringside and do nothing of note all night. Booker works the arm. Leg lariat and kneedrop gets two for him. Martel actually draws heat, getting a “Martel sucks” chant, as Booker blocks a rollup and superkicks him for two. Back to the arm. Blind charge misses and Martel backdrops him to the floor. Booker gets up but ends up bumping onto the railing. Back in, and Booker hits a quick slam and breakdances up. Martel gets a powerslam on him for two to break up that comeback. Spinebuster sets up the Quebec Crab, which Booker escapes easily. Martel hits a crossbody, which Booker rolls through for two. Rollup for two from Booker. Martel hits a quick lariat for two. Booker comes back with a flying forearm and ax kick, the usual sign that the end is near. Spinebuster sets up a flying bodypress, which misses. Martel goes to the second rope, but gets caught with a leg lariat on the way down and Booker gets the pin and the title at 10:31, his second. ***1/4. Sadly, Martel landed REALLY badly coming off the ropes and ripped his knee apart, and had to retire as a result, right in the peak of his comeback. Saturn leaps out of the crowd and attacks, and we’ve got… – TV title match #2: Booker T v. Saturn. Saturn applies the Rings of Saturn right off the bat. Booker escapes and gets a sunset flip for two. Booker rolls out and gets whipped to the railing. He returns the favor right away. Back in and Booker blocks a clothesline and powerslams Saturn. He gets tossed out again, and Saturn follows with a pescado and a pump splash from the apron to the floor. Back in, Booker recovers enough for a flying forearm. Blind charge misses – nice looking bump off that one. It gets two for Saturn. Super backdrop suplex follows, and Saturn follows up with a regular superplex, but Booker blocks it and comes crashing down with a wicked stiff missile dropkick. He hits a leg lariat, but Saturn nails an exploider suplex for two. (That was during the brief period when I cared about trendy move naming vis-a-vis ECW enough to use “exploider” instead of just calling it a “suplex” or just the Americanized “exploder”.) Belly to belly gets two. He hits a Lionsault, but it leaves both guys down and out. Saturn goes for choking on the ropes. Booker tries a flying cross body, but misses. It gets a two count for Saturn. Back up, both collide for a double knockout. Saturn misses a blind charge of his own, and gets spinebusted. Ax kick flattens him, but the Harlem Hangover misses. Saturn hits a Northern Lights suplex for two. German suplex gets two, but Booker comes back with one last burst and hits a quick sidekick for the pin to retain at 14:20. Tough match. ***1/2 – La Parka v. Disco Inferno. No real angle here. Parka gets a quick chairshot and a powerslam to start. And now we dance. Disco comes back with two running corner clotheslines for two. Parka hits a leg lariat to knock Disco out and follows with a corkscrew plancha. Brawling sees Parka whip him into the rail and clothesline him. Back in, Parka gets a two count. Flying splash misses and they brawl outside again. Disco gets the better of it this time. Back in, Parka gets a head kick for two. Majastral cradle gets two. Resting abounds. Blind charges misses, cue the Disco comeback (on second thought, let’s not…). (Too bad, he did in fact make a comeback with TNA a few years after this was written.) Disco puts his head down and gets kicked in the face, however. Parka uses a headscissor to take Disco to the floor and hits a tope suicida. Back in, he hits the ringpost and Disco comes back again. He shoves the ref, allowing Parka to find his chair and sit Disco in it. They end up fighting on the top rope, where Disco tosses La Parka off, headfirst into the chair, followed by the Stone Cold Apocalyptic Chartbusting Last Stunner Dance for the pin at 11:39. Dull but solid. *** (That’s a hell of a rating upgrade.) – Brad Armstrong v. Goldberg. Before he was Buzzkill, he was just roadkill. (RIP) Spear, jackhammer, and we be outta here at 2:23. ½* – Cruiserweight title v. Mask: Chris Jericho v. Juventud Guerrera. FINALLY, THE JUICE HAS…oh, wait, wrong gimmick. Jericho refuses to take the belt off, so they start the match with him wearing it. (There’s a Ziggler gimmick waiting to happen.) Juvy kicks him in the belt, and he removes it. Jericho dominates, but gets caught with a springboard leg lariat. Juvy follows with a rana off the apron to the floor. Jericho acts dead and tries to take the countout, which is a REALLY funny spot that he never does anymore. (Really, why wouldn’t more champions try that tactic? Not outright walking out on the match like the lame-o writers come up with twice an episode sometimes, but actually putting the onus on the challenger of winning the belt? Leave the ring, force the other guy to chase you and MAKE you get back into the ring. That’s heel psychology!) Juvy tosses him back in and chops away. He flips out of a german suplex and gets dropped on the top rope. They hit the floor and Jericho tries to springboard off the steps, but ends up running into the railing instead. Back, and Jericho gets a piledriver fro two. Arrogant cover gets two. Juvy hits a victory roll for two. Delayed suplex and senton gets two. They fight on top and Juvy comes off with a rana but Jericho counters with the electric chair. Juvy dropkicks Jericho to the floor and follows with a springboard elbow. Back in, Juvy hits a tombstone and 450 for the pin…but Jericho was in the ropes, so we continue. Jericho clips him, but Juvy rolls him up for two. Jericho gets a lariat for two. Powerbomb is reversed by Juvy to a DDT for two. He goes for a top rope rana, but Jericho blocks. Juvy sets up again and this time hits a springboard variation and gets two. Jericho gets an inverted suplex, but the Lionsault misses. Liontamer is attempted, but reversed to a rollup for two. Juvy tries to finish with another rana, but this time Jericho blocks and applies the Liontamer for the submission at 13:27. Whew, great finish. ***3/4 Juvy unmasks after some taunting by Jericho, and the Juice we all know and love is revealed at last. Jericho, of course, steals the mask for his trophy case. (The only case where WCW unmasking someone helped him out. Before there was no connection with the fans or empathy, and once he was unmasked we got all the great babyface expressions and emotions from Juvy during the matches. Unlike, say, Psicosis, where the initial “Put the mask back on him!” joke reaction from Heenan was probably the correct one.) – The British Bulldog v. Steve MacMichael. This is a feud that started with one of the all-time great bad lines, supplied by Mongo on an episode of Nitro: “Don’t stand there drinking coffee when a man’s talking to you!” Mongo gets the quick advantage. Bulldog goes for the Sharpshooter (doing very badly at it), but Mongo continues his, ahem, blistering offensive onslaught. Some of the punches even make contact. Almost. Brawl on the floor, where Mongo punches the ringpost. The ringpost actually does a better sell job than Mongo is usually capable of. Bulldog works on the wrist, in order to prevent the three-point stance. Well, I guess it’s a *kind* of psychology. And sure enough, Mongo goes for the three-point stance, but his wrist is too sore to stay in the down position. Why he couldn’t just lean on the OTHER wrist I’ll never know. (Because SCIENCE!) Anyway, the wrist is now crippled or something, and Bulldog applies a wristlock (which Mongo mistakes for a wristwatch) and gets the submission at 6:10. But see, Mongo protests that he never tapped out, thus protecting his spot or something. Yup. DUD – US title match: Diamond Dallas Page v. Chris Benoit. This was just before DDP’s big feud with Raven, and his sudden revelation that adding the word “scum” to anyone’s name could make him sound cool. (Much like Steve Corino, I guess.) This mini-feud with Page was actually a neat bit of politicking on his part, as he saw the incredibly heated Raven-Benoit feud and decided he wanted a piece. So he had Benoit moved into a “respect” feud with himself (which had the advantage of giving the illusion that he was a great wrestler) and then phased Raven into the feud as a result of that previous Raven-Benoit rivalry. Once Raven was in, he then segued the feud into DDP-Raven, and sent Benoit crashing back down to the undercard again. Isn’t backstage politics fun? Have I mentioned recently that Benoit beat the Rock on RAW last week? Who’s Page beaten recently? (Well, in the grand scheme of things, DDP is a hell of a guy who will always have my admiration now for what he’s done to help people, so 1999 Scott should probably shut up with that comparison now.) Anyway, Page works the arm to start here. He whips Benoit into the corner and gets a rotation gutbuster. Benoit suplexes him onto the top rope in retaliation. Quick crossface attempt, but Page makes the ropes. Pinfall reversal sequence, then DDP gets a backdrop suplex. Benoit dodges the Diamond Cutter by rolling out. He gets back in and they have a staredown, and it occurs to me that the natural progression would be for Benoit to slap the smirk off DDP’s face, and HE DOES! A really loud one, too, that gets the crowd ooo-ing and aaah-ing. They get into a slugfest, and Benoit hits a cheapshot. Rollup gets two. DDP counters that with an ocean cyclone suplex for two. Benoit dropkicks the knee and goes back on offense. He uses a cobra sleeper, but DDP escapes with a jawbreaker. Benoit hammers on him in the corner, to a big pop. DDP responds in kind. Benoit pulls out the snap suplex for two. I love it when he uses that. Back to the sleeper. DDP escapes, but Benoit tenaciously goes right back at it. DDP dumps him over the top in desperation. Benoit goes to the top, but gets crotched. DDP gets a superplex for a double knockout spot. Slugfest follows as they get up, and DDP mounts a comeback. Spinning lariat gets two. DDP goes upstairs and hits a flying clothesline for two. Suplex attempt is suddenly reversed to a crossface, and the crowd goes NUTS. DDP makes the ropes. Suplex attempt again, this time reversed to a cradle for two, and again reversed by DDP for two. Page gets a belly to belly for two, but Benoit comes back with the rolling suplexes for two. The crowd is DEEPLY into this. Double knockout, then DDP comes back with a jumping DDT for two. Diamond Cutter attempt, but Benoit blocks and goes for a backslide, which Page flips out of and hits the Diamond Cutter out of nowhere, and it’s academic from there. He retains at 15:43 in an awesome match for Page. ****1/4 Lodi offers sage advice via a sign: “Benoit, We Knew You’d Lose”. (Better advice: “Lay off the unprotected headshots and don’t fuck someone else’s wife.”) Work, shoot, it’s all the same thing. I panned this match in my original go-around because of my initial bitterness at Benoit’s loss, but time has mellowed me to it, because really it’s all worked out just fine for Chris, while all the jerks who held him back are busy sinking with the Titanic right now. Instant karma IS gonna get you. (It sure got Benoit.)– Randy Savage v. Lex Luger. This is no-DQ. I believe it’s also stipulated as being “no-workrate” and “no-heat”, but I could be wrong. Luger has heavily taped ribs. HUGE “Luger sucks” chant, so I guess San Fran is nWo country. (In all fairness, he did suck at this point.) This was during the initial stages of the drawn-out and boring angle that would eventually lead to the Wolfpac and thus destroy WCW completely. Although to be fair hindsight is 20/20 and all that. (Just look at the Page-Benoit review for proof.) Savage kicks him in the ribs all over the place a bunch. They fight outside, and back in, where Luger suddenly ignores the crippling injury, makes the comeback, and fights off nWo interference to get the rack for the submission at 7:20. Whatever. * The Savage-Hogan split is furthered here, leading to their epic battle (Age in the Cage III) at Uncensored the month after, which of course we will get too next month when I bite the bullet and slog through all of those wretched shows. – WCW World tag title match: The Steiner Brothers v. The Outsiders. After 6 long months of incredibly screwy title changes, backstage politics, boneheaded substitutions to prevent certain people from jobbing, and match after incredibly bad match, this was finally the one that ended the feud. Scott Steiner’s long-awaited heel turn and singles push had been teased ENDLESSLY leading up to this, to the point where every match he was involved in from Halloween Havoc 97 onward was “the one where he’s gotta turn”. And FINALLY, here it is. Thankfully, they don’t draw it out any longer than needed – about a minute into the match, the Steiners clear the ring and do their standard “barking pose”, and Scott suddenly turns on Rick and destroys him. Rick’s heart is thus ripped out, and the Outsiders squash him and finish it with an Outsider’s Edge at 4:14 to regain the titles. Nash, of course, did nothing. ½* Scott made his re-debut on Nitro the next night as “White Thunder”, and took another year to get over. (Scott Steiner is another example of the philosophy of not giving up on something you want to get over. They did something like a dozen minor repackages and re-pushes of the guy before it finally took at the main event level, and they could have given up right after WHITE THUNDER and didn’t. Maybe they should have, but they DIDN’T.) – WCW World title match: Sting v. Hulk Hogan. This was as a result of the incredibly screwy finish of Starrcade 97. The title ended up being held up and put up for grabs here. Hogan chokes him out with the WEIGHTLIFTING BELT OF DOOM to start. Then he chokes him with Sting’s own coat. Alleged brawling outside follows. Helpful hint for Hogan: Most streetfighters don’t utilize back rakes as part of their offense. (Unless they’re a secret assassin like Remo Williams.) Back in, Hogan continues squashing Sting with the usual. Sting comes back and whips Hogan with his own belt. What irony. It’d be almost Shakespearean if the match didn’t suck so much. Hogan runs away, and we get more brawling outside. Back in, and Sting gets the stinger splash and scorpion deathlock, but Hogan makes the ropes. Ref gets bumped on a second splash. Hey, a ref bump, that’s just what this match needed. Hogan’s legdrop gets two as another ref comes in. Half-assed suplex gets two. After some resting, a rollup gets two. Back outside, more brawling. No way these guys need this much time for this match. Sting takes over, but good ol’ Ballshot #1 turns the tide. He manages two stinger splashes, but now we have yet another ref bump. An nWo run-in follows, but Sting fights them off and hits the deathdrop on Hogan. But because Hogan won’t job to Sting’s finisher, we have Savage do a BONUS run-in (2 for the price of 1!) and hit the already unconscious Hogan with…something…and that’s enough for Sting to get the pin and the title at 16:30. Waaaaaaay too much Hogan offense and general screwiness. ¼* Sting spraypaints “WCW” on Hogan as the announcers declare this the big triumph for WCW, blah blah blah. Hogan would have the title back around his waist a mere two months later, thus making the announcers look like idiots (In all fairness…), as per the status quo in WCW. The Bottom Line: The great thing about the 97-99 period for WCW was that the nWo/”main event” group and the mid-card were both segregated into their own little niches on the card, and thus the chances of having a talentless lunk stink up a perfectly good Benoit match were minimal, and thus you ended up with some damn good wrestling on WCW PPVs. (It’s true! Which is why it might actually be a good thing for the Main Event Superfriends to have their own mini-division these days.) And that, my friends, is why I continued watching through the wretched nWo years. Do like I do and ignore the crap that managed to float it’s way to the top of the booking toilet like so much diarrhea, and this is a great show with four matches breaking ***, an easy thumbs up no matter how you slice. Recommended show, but as always stop before the main event.