Happy Saturday Everyone!
We’ve got a bit of a hit and miss WCW pay per view this week, as some of the stuff on SuperBrawl VIII is very good and some of it is less so. WCW was coming off a very bad Starrcade and a much better Souled Out here, with the Main Event being a rematch of the awful Starrcade Main Event between Hollywood Hogan and Sting. We’ve also got The Outsiders Vs The Steiner’s and Diamond Dallas Page taking on Chris Benoit.
You can view the card by clicking below;
The event is emanating from San Fran, California on the 22nd of February 1998
Calling the action are Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan and Mike Tenay
We get the big opening video package that pushes the idea that Sting is the hero to save WCW, which would mean more if Sting hadn’t looked like such a chump back at Starrcade.
The commentary team does the usual WCW thing of chatting wham at the beginning for an inordinate amount of time, thus killing the momentum the show built from the opening pyrotechnics. Just get a match in the ring WCW, why do you always do this?!
WCW World Television Title
Champ: Rick Martel Vs Booker T
Martel had gone Heel to win the belt from Booker on Nitro but both men are also feuding with Perry Saturn, so whoever wins this will face Saturn next. Saturn was originally supposed to wrestle Booker here, but they’re going to let Booker have a chance to try and win the belt back first. Booker is very over with the crowd, showing how good a job he was doing at the time as a singles star.
These two had good chemistry together and that’s displayed here in the early going, as Booker bumps Martel around and the crowd is into it. Martel really bored me during his time as The Model in the WWF from an in-ring perspective, but he’s fun to watch here and his pre-Model stuff is generally entertaining as well, so I can only surmise that his heart just wasn’t into it when he was modelling in the WWF.
Both of these guys really are superb athletes, something that becomes clear when Booker does a huge leapfrog and Martel doesn’t even need to duck down to get under him, leading to Martel then doing a faultless backward roll when attempting an O’Connor Roll. That might have been the most graceful roll I’ve ever seen in a wrestling match.
Martel eventually manages to get a desperation back body drop to the floor and then knocks Booker off the apron when he tries to get back in, which leads to the cut off and our Heel heat segment of the bout. Booker sells well during that and Martel does a good job as the Heel on offence, showing the kind of passion and aggression he so rarely did during his Heel days in the WWF.
Booker makes sporadic attempts to fight back but Martel always manages to cut him off to keep the heat going, with the crowd giving Martel the business when that happens. Martel goes for THE DREADED YOUNG LION BOSTON CRAB at one stage, but Booker is very close to the ropes and is able to grab them to break the hold. The move was pretty over though, so the crowd was certainly buying it as a potential bout ender.
Things get a little bit sloppy at points as the match wears on, but the bout always has good energy and the crowd remains into it. Even when they aren’t making a lot of noise you can tell that they’re invested in the action and care about Booker’s quest to regain his belt. In a nice subversion to the usual formula, Booker doesn’t even really get a proper comeback, as instead Martel heads up to the second rope and gets caught with a kick on the way down to give Booker a last gasp victory, which puts Martel over for being a strong Champion whilst also putting over Booker for being gutsy.
WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: BOOKER T
Saturn leaps right into the ring following that and flings Martel out before going to town on Booker in order to start up our next match.
WCW World Television Title
Champ: Booker T Vs Perry Saturn
Rumour is that Martel was supposed to win the previous match but they called an audible when he suffered a gnarly leg injury, so now Saturn and Booker have to call this one on the fly. I’m not entirely sure that is true though because why would they go with a Heel Vs Heel match here when Booker winning the belt and then having to wrestle again makes for the better story?
Saturn tries to win it quickly right out of the gate seeing as Booker is hurting and only just managed to win the previous match, but Booker manages to hold on and avoid getting pinned. Booker’s selling is great here and Saturn looks good on offence as well. I think Saturn was still working through a leg injury here, which the big brace on his left leg would seem to suggest, but this is probably the closest we’d got to see ECW Saturn on WCW pay per view up to this point.
I will say that it does feel like they’re calling it in the ring at points here, as you can see Saturn and Booker talking to one another at certain stages and there’s the odd occasion where they don’t seem to know what’s coming next. They manage to mostly cover for it though, with Saturn busting out some high flying offence to the floor at points in order to keep the pressure on Booker.
Saturn does a fantastic Marty Jannetty sell off a Booker forearm at one stage and that leads to Booker getting a brief flurry until Saturn is able to take control again. This one has the feel of a struggle to it, perhaps because they are calling it in the ring and thus are having to quite literally knit the threads together in order to make it all work, and thus it isn’t especially slick or fluid like a pre-planned match would be.
Booker eventually manages to fight off a Saturn Superplex attempt and gets a nice looking Missile Dropkick for the double down before making the comeback proper with a spin kick. Saturn gets a T-Bone Suplex for another double down, which leads to both men having another conversation before the action picks up again. The crowd aren’t quite as into this one as they were for the opener but it’s been a solid effort from both men.
Tony and Bobby are having an argumentative night on commentary here, whilst Tenay tries to hold the broadcast together. Booker gets some more big impact moves and heads up for the Harlem Hangover, but Saturn is able to dodge it and gets some suplexes for two. Saturn was kind of doing the Taz suplex gimmick at the time and Taz was a bit miffed by it if you ever watch shoot interviews from him at the time. Booker manages to slip out of another suplex attempt from Saturn and gets the side kick for the hard fought win.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: BOOKER T
Both wrestlers worked hard here and it was a good match, although I felt it was a bit disjointed at points, possibly because they really did need to call it on the fly. If that was the case then I think they did a good job of flying by the seat of their pants, especially as Booker had already put some time in against Martel
At the internet booth, Chris Jericho is being interviewed by Mark Madden and Lee Marshall.
The Disco Inferno Vs La Parka
I’m not really sure on the backstory here but Parka was getting over as a result of hitting people with chairs and doing a wacky dance. Yup, that’ll do it. For some reason La Parka doesn’t have his usual entrance music here, either because they just gave him something else or they decided to dub it out on WWE Network/Peacock. Surely they can use his normal theme? It’s just generic production music that Sabu even used to have at one stage during his WCW stint.
The commentary seems to suggest that both men were getting involved in each other’s matches with Yuji Nagata and that led to the feud heating up. Parka jump starts things, leading to both men trading power slams. The match in general is quite back and forth, with both wrestlers trading the momentum and the wrestling itself being a tad messy but generally quite fun. Parka even busts out a crazy spinning tope at one stage that really looks great.
This one doesn’t have a lot going on in the way of crowd reactions, possibly because the fans aren’t sure about who to cheer and who to boo. It’s not like neither man is trying to get the fans involved either, with Parka in particular regularly breaking for some dancing and taunting in an effort to get the crowd invested. Some of the crowd actually get a bit restless at points and heckle the wrestlers, which is unfair as the match has been decent and it’s not like either wrestler isn’t making an effort to play to the audience and involve them.
Parka continues to bust out some impressive moves, including a TOPE SUICIDA, called as such by Mike Tenay which impresses Tony Schiavone. These days Tony is impressed with Excalibur for similar reasons of course. The match continues to pick up following the dive, as both men have chances to win it and the action being good fun. The ref gets momentarily blinded and Parka tries to use his steel chair, but Disco fights that off and ends up throwing Parka onto the chair, which the commentators explain isn’t a DQ because the ref doesn’t know who brought it in. Stunner follows and Disco gets the three.
WINNER: THE DISCO INFERNO
There was enough ambiguity with the chair being in the ring there that I can live with it not being a DQ when Disco threw Parka onto it. Disco could always argue that he didn’t personally bring the chair into the ring and he was groggy at the time when he threw Parka off the top rope and didn’t even realise the chair was there. The ref wouldn’t really have any evidence to the contrary so he’d have to go along with it. It’s still not a great spot but someone clearly thought about how to make it work at least. The match itself was solid for the most part, although it was lacking crowd heat
Mean Gene Okerlund is in the aisle with James J. Dillon, where they talk about the referee for the Main Event later on. Dillon asks for referee Nick Patrick to join them and then tells Patrick that he’s reinstated as a referee. Dillon bursts Patrick’s bubble though by saying that those he’s reinstated to ref, he won’t be reffing the Main Event tonight.
Brad Armstrong Vs Goldberg
This is only Goldberg’s second pay per view match, as they had kind of rebooted the character as 1998 dawned. Previously he’d been kind of a Heel and had been feuding with Mongo McMichael, but now he’s being positioned more as a babyface and is ploughing through people for fun. Bobby Heenan is already very excited about Goldberg wrestling here, as he was on the Goldberg Train from day one and he always did an excellent job hyping Goldberg up.
I do love Brad’s royal blue and white gear, but it’s kind of appropriate attire considering how often he was on the losing side during his WCW career. Brad doesn’t really get any offence in here, as Goldberg makes easy work of him, with Brad doing an excellent job selling and bumping for all of Goldberg’s move. Brad kind of looks a bit like Rob Conway actually, which I didn’t really notice before. Brad gets a Ukrainian Leg Sweep at one stage, which was his finisher, but Goldberg pops right up and Jack Hammer follows for a big pop.
This was a magnificent squash match and the live crowd loved it. It’s amazing how WCW managed to get Goldberg right for so long as usually they would have ruined someone like him by this stage. Armstrong was great here and made Goldberg look like a monster
We get some replays of Goldbergbeing terrifying and it’s straight on go the next match.
Lucha de Apuestas
Title Vs Mask
WCW Cruiserweight Title
Champ: Chris Jericho Vs Juventud Guerrera
Jericho was getting a renewed push as a Heel, which led to a rushed feud with Juvi where Juvi agreed to put his mask on the line for a Title shot. This could have actually been a really good storyline as well if they’d given it the proper build-up, with Juvi having to put everything on the line in order to get one last chance at the belt, but instead they made the match with very little fanfare for the most part and it’s kind of just another bout on an already bloated card.
Jericho refuses to take his Title belt off to start, but eventually changes his mind when Juvi kicks him in the waist. Jericho was supremely entertaining as the insincere egomaniacal bad guy, and he takes some nice bumps for Juvi in the early going, including a rana off the apron to the floor at one stage. Jericho tries to buy a count out loss following that, but Juvi makes him pay for that by dropping and elbow and throwing him back inside the ring. Heenan of course loves Jericho’s cheating and underhanded tactics.
Jericho eventually manages to catch Juvi on a cross body attempt and plants him with a modified piledriver for the cut off, leading to Jericho trying the arrogant one footed pin attempt not too soon after. I like how they let you do that on the WCW Revenge game for the N64. Juvi does a decent job selling during the heat and Jericho draws some good heat from the crowd by being the biggest douche in the whole building. I do like how Jericho didn’t even try to be cool during this run, as his goal was to be as thoroughly unlikable as possible, which made him stand out when every other Heel in the company seemingly wanted to be cool.
Juvi eventually manages to make a comeback and comes off the top rope with a 450 Splash, but Jericho gets a hand on the rope at the very last moment to break the count, before then cheap shotting Juvi just to be as big a jerk as he can. Jericho totally got this character and he was great at it. Both wrestlers do some really good near falls in the closing stretch, with the crowd getting oohing and ahhing along as it happens. Juvi manages to avoid the Lion Tamer a few times but he finally ends up caught in it and he has no choice but to submit.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: CHRIS JERICHO
This had some really good stuff in it but there was also some sloppiness in parts and the crowd didn’t quite bite as much as you would have liked them to. Some tighter work and a more invested crowd and this one could have been flirting with ****+ as it felt like they had that in them
Juventudapologises to his family and then unmasks, whilst Jericho makes fun of him for how ugly he is, although the joke is on Jericho as Juvi is a rather handsome guy, to the point that I wonder why he was wearing a mask to begin with.
Mongo McMichael Vs Davey Boy Smith
This one came about because Smith was drinking coffee when Mongo was trying to talk to him, leading to a feud starting between them. I’m sure there was more to it than that but that reason amuses me more. On commentary they seem to suggest it had something to do with Smith being a WWF guy and Mongo not liking those guys coming in.
Smith wasn’t quite finished as a top level wrestler by this stage in his career yet, but he was getting there and a trapdoor bump later in the year would finish the job. I’m not really sure who we’re supposed to see as the babyface here as both men were ostensibly good guys at the time, so they kind of just do stuff, leading to a sloppy and mostly heatless match.
Mongo had an entertaining weird charisma going on, but his wrestling ability was sorely lacking, with him struggling to even do the basics most of the time. Despite all of that he could deliver a very nice Tombstone Piledriver though. The fight spills outside at one stage and Mongo accidentally chops the post, leading to Smith targeting his wrist. This means that Mongo can’t deliver his Three Point Stance move properly, meaning it’s lacking in effectiveness, and Smith manages to apply a Fujiwara for the submission victory.
WINNER: DAVEY BOY SMITH
This was better than I thought it was going to be, but I thought it was going to be a debacle, so I’ll take what I can get. The work was sloppy but the psychology actually made sense, so I’ll be generous
Mongo states that he didn’t actually submit and then shoves the referee down. I think the story was that the ref stopped the bout for Mongo’s own safety, which makes sense I suppose but they needed to do a better job telling that story if that’s what they were going for.
WCW United States Title
Champ: Diamond Dallas Page Vs Chris Benoit
Benoit had been feuding with Raven and had earned himself a Title shot after a win back at Souled Out. This one really is an excellent match, as it’s respectful to start and both wrestlers got at it at a quick clip with the work being nice and crisp. Benoit eventually heads to the outside for a breather and that leads to DDP getting annoyed, which in turn leads to things getting feistier in there as both wrestlers start throwing more strikes at one another.
The crowd is into the idea of the two wrestlers throwing down, and Benoit kind of becomes the defacto Heel at one stage by locking DDP in a modified Cobra Clutch in order to grind him down. This gives the fans a chance to get behind DDP, more because they want the action to pick up again than anything else as it’s not like they hate Benoit, they just want to see the two babyfaces do cool stuff like they were in the opening exchanges.
Benoit does an excellent job of pacing this whilst DDP sells well and fights the holds Benoit uses as best he can, which makes them feel like working holds instead of rest holds because both wrestlers are acting like they are fighting over them rather than just lying around to reserve energy. It’s a little thing but it’s so important in making holds feel worthwhile rather than an excuse to reach for the fast forward button.
DDP does eventually manage to fight his way back to his feet and then flings Benoit to the floor in an impressive bump from Benoit. DDP gets an equally impressive flying clothesline off the top not too soon after, but Benoit keeps dodging the Diamond Cutter and manages to get the Crossface applied, although DDP is too close to the ropes. The finishing stretch is done really well, with both wrestlers getting some slick counters and some tight near falls. Benoit keeps fighting off any Diamond Cutter attempts, until DDP finally catches him with it and that’s night-night.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: DIAMOND DALLAS PAGE
This was an excellent match, as was usually the case when these two were given some time out there. The only thing I didn’t like was DDP’s lackadaisical pin on Benoit at the end, as he made Benoit look kind of weak. I get that the idea was that the Diamond Cutter was so devastating that once it was hit then it didn’t matter how the pin was made, but I would have still done a proper pin, or at least do the arm drape finish where you sell that both men are knackered and DDP just happened to get his big move in first. DDP pinned Benoit like he was relaxing on a sun lounger there and it kind of made a mockery of him. It’s always bothered me whenever I watch this match, especially as the rest of it was so good and both wrestlers entered strong performances. This feud wasn’t quite over yet, as Raven would get reintroduced to things and the three combatants would clash throughout the Spring in differing combinations
Benoit is out like a light following that and spread-eagled on the canvas whilst DDP celebrates with his belt. At the time there was some disgruntlement that Benoit lost here, but DDP was on a real hot run as a character and he’d only just won the belt at Starrcade so it didn’t really make sense for him to lose it here so soon.
The commentary team talk about The Giant, where they say Giant won’t be here for a scheduled promo segment due to travel issues. Giant was doing a neck injury angle at the time as Kevin Nash had dropped him on his neck with a botched Powerbomb, which led to the move getting banned for a few months. We get some black and white footage of Nash and Giant fighting. This was all designed to set up a match between the two at the March pay per view event. WCW treating the Nash Powerbomb botch like the Zapruder Footage is kind of perversely funny and I don’t think they intended it to come across that way.
Randy Savage w/ Miss Elizabeth Vs Lex Luger
This was a rare example of logical booking in WCW, as they did a DQ finish on the last pay per view so this time we have the No DQ stipulation in order to ensure we have a finish. That makes so much sense that I almost have whiplash from the shock of it. Luger is the babyface but gets his fair share of boo’s here, as they were teasing a Savage babyface turn and he gets a mostly positive response for his entrance as a result. Luger also has taped ribs here, which could come into play as the bout progresses. I’m not sure where that injury came from as the commentary team doesn’t really go into the particulars for those of us watching in 2023.
This match mostly revolves around Savage going after Luger’s injured mid-section, with Luger doing a good job selling it all in fairness to him. OSW Review has of course ruined every Lex Luger match for me now by pointing out that he yelps whenever he gets hit (once you see it you can’t un-see it) but Luger is good here and Savage is also good in the way he methodically targets the injured part of the body. The crowd really doesn’t like Luger, which impacts the drama somewhat as the whole match is designed for you to feel sympathy for him, but the work itself is fine.
Luger eventually starts Lugering Up, making the comeback with a powerslam to boo’s from the crowd. Elizabeth prevents The Human Torture Wrack by going to the eyes, which leads to the nWo running down to help Savage. Savage ends up clocking some of them in the melee though because he’s a wild animal who will fight anything. This brings Hollywood Hogan down to regroup the troops. Luger goes to the Torture Wrack in the chaos and Hogan refuses to allow the nWo to rescue Savage, leading to Luger winning to murmured boos from the crowd.
WINNER: LEX LUGER
That was an odd finish but the match itself was mostly fine. They actually rang the bell to make it seem like a DQ but I think the official finish was the Torture Wrack. Luger sold well throughout and Savage was fine at holding it together. I think I generally like this one more than most though as I’ve seen it receive some really lousy ratings. I don’t know, I thought it was okay
Savage is helped to the back by Elizabeth following that and he is not in a good mood.
WCW Tag Team Titles
Champs: The Steiner Brothers (Rick and Scott) w/ Ted Dibiase Vs The Outsiders (Kevin Nash and Scott Hall) w/ Dusty Rhodes
They had been teasing Scott Steiner going Heel for months, so now it’s finally going to be paid off. Rick gets a quick shine to start and does the traditional tag team pose with Scott, only for Scott to turn Heel and clobber him. Rick still tries to win it in a 3 on 1 situation, but the numbers game becomes too much and Hall gets The Outsiders Edge for the win. Ted Dibiase even gets clonked by both Scott and Rhodes.
WINNERS AND NEW CHAMPIONS: THE OUTSIDERS
I did like how they didn’t have Scott fight The Outsiders at any stage during the match, as I generally hate it when guys have already agreed to turn but will still work a match first. The turn was well executed but it was more of an elongated angle than an actual match
Scott Steiner hands the nWo the belts whilst Dibiase is helped to the back by a gaggle of refs. They would tease the eventual match between Scott and Rick for months, with it finally happening at Fall Brawl, although it went to a lousy non-finish.
We get the Uncensored pay per view commercial, complete with a wacky song and Wrath miming “Rules are for Fools”. I’ve seen this advert a lot and I kind of love it, even though it’s cheesy as all anything and seems completely out of place in 1998.
Hollywood Hogan vs Sting
Hogan and Sting had wrestled back at Starrcade, with Nick Patrick accidentally-on-purpose fudging a supposed fast count, leading to Hogan essentially pinning Sting clean with a normal count. Bret Hart eventually restarted the match and Sting “won”, but it was a very lame ending to over a year of build and it was one of the many beginnings of the end for the promotion. The belt was held up due to the silliness and tonight we’ve got a match to settle things.
Hogan takes the majority of this match, which was possibly done as a way to appease him seeing as he would actually be losing here. This defeats the whole point of why Sting got over in this guise though, as for a year he’d come out and destroy swathes of opponents to bigger and bigger pops. People were paying to see Hogan get his clock cleaned, not to see Sting sell a bunch. The mostly pro-nWo crowd does seem to dislike Hogan at least though, which is a bonus.
Sting does a decent job selling for Hogan, but this is a really counterproductive way to structure this match. Sting getting the big shine to pop the crowd followed by Hogan working some heat leading to a finish would be fine, but Sting rushes the ring to start and gets barely any offence for ages whilst Hogan looks like a monster, which doesn’t suit the storyline they’ve been telling for the past year at all. If it’s this easy for Hogan to batter Sting then why was he soiling his nickers at the thoughts of wrestling him for so long?
Hogan is finally generous enough to allow Sting to get some offence in, although he sells it in comically bad fashion, which has to be deliberate as selling is probably the thing Hogan does best so he has to be actively trying to be this cartoonish and bad at it. The crowd does respond to Sting’s offence at least, but I can’t shake how completely arse backward this entire match has been. Sting of course misses when he tries to give Hogan a Stinger Splash outside the ring, which would make it something like the 789th time he’s missed that by my count.
Sting still manages to get Hogan in the Scorpion Deathlock back inside the ring, but Hogan makes the ropes and then Charles Robinson ends up getting sandwiched between the two wrestlers for our ref bump. This leads to Nick Patrick joining us, but he ends up being a fair referee and stopping at two when Sting kicks out of the Legdrop of DOOM rather than counting the Stinger down. We get more of Hogan battering Sting following that, because apparently we haven’t seen enough of that here in this Main Event. We get it Hulk, you’re big and tough, now how about making your babyface look good seeing as you already made him look like a chump back at Starrcade?
Sting does finally get to Stinger Up a bit and gets the Scorpion Death Drop, although Hogan kicks at Patrick in the process in order to bump him. This leads to Sting fending off an nWo run-in whilst Randy Savage gets revenge for earlier by clonking Hogan with a spray paint can. Sting turns around from destroying the Putty Patrol and pins Hogan for the win, although the heat for that win has mostly gone onto Savage instead of Sting, because Hogan will be feuding with Savage next you see and he doesn’t want that pesky Sting getting over.
WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: STING
This may have been one of the most selfish performances I’ve ever seen from a wrestler, as Hogan gave Sting basically nothing here and spent roughly 90% of the match destroying the guy that was supposedly so scary that he ducked out of wrestling him for a year. Either the Hogan character has major self-esteem issues or everyone Sting beat up in order to earn a match with him was an utter geek. The wrestling wasn’t terrible or anything, although some of Hogan’s selling was pretty comical, but the match structure killed it and all of the focus was on Randy Savage when we were supposed to be caring about Sting just becoming the World Champ
Sting sprays “WCW” on Hogan following the match and gets his belt from James J. Dillon, although it feels like kind of an empty gesture after he just got destroyed in the match and won thanks to Savage getting the decisive blow.
Hulk Hogan is really the person who should be called “The Game” in wrestling, as he lost to Sting twice but both matches were bouts that he dominated and he had an out for every loss. The big story out of this show wasn’t Sting as Champion but rather Hogan and Savage feuding, meaning that Sting was immediately shunted into the background despite being the Champ whilst Hogan retained his Main Event status. Hogan is the ultimate political manipulator.
The show itself had some very good wrestling and the first 2 hours or so make for a very solid event. The last 45 minutes drag it down somewhat from a match quality perspective and the Main Event really agitated my onions, but overall I’d have to call the show a thumbs up just for the fact that there was a lot of good in-ring action. Maybe stop watching after the US Title match though.
Mildly recommended show