Ringside Shadows #69: Fall Brawl Preview
Taking a quick glance at the issue number, I'll fight the desperate urge to cash in on the innuendo of the number I've reached with Ringside Shadows on this fine day. I have a couple memorable stories that come to mind regarding the number, but couldn't possibly hope to portray them with the grace or elegance that Dale did, when he reached this milestone a few short weeks ago. So, instead, I'll push out this Fall Brawl preview and be done with it.
WCW has lined up something of a better card in this month's offering, with the majority of their good workers featured somewhere (the only notable absenses I note are Juvi, Blitzkrieg, and Van Hamm... Juvi and Blitzkrieg.) The possibilities that could come to pass this Sunday evening are nearly endless, especially when you factor in the imminent return of Bret Hart looming on the horizon. How these possibilities are handled, however, has yet to be seen. With a few exceptions, this seems to be one of the stronger overall lineups we've seen from the Turner subsiduarie since the springtime. You've got an almost surefire cruiserweight spectacular with the Kaz/Lenny meeting.. Vampiro's in action taking on 3 of the top workers in North America, Rey, Kidman and Eddy.. Berlyn will make his anticipated debut.. Each member of the Revolution is in action, with 2 in contention for championship belts.. and Sting is getting his next shot at the world title.
But hey.. I'm getting ahead of myself.
Hollywood Hulkamania Whatcha Gonna Do Hogan v. Sting
World Heavyweight Championship
The matchup I'd wanted for as long as I can remember has lost 75% of the intrigue found in the original match. Still, both men were untouchable in the late 80's-early 90's heyday that was professional wrestling, and if both work their asses off, we could see something of a watchable match here. There is no excuse if this match extends beyond half an hour, and I'm putting a small bit of faith in the bookers to realize this. Hogan's said in a WCW Live interview that Sting was one of two men he'd consider passing the torch to, when the time is right. My train of thought lead me to concieve this as a good thing, as I have a strong respect for Sting as a person. I believe that the man behind the paint knows his time is coming to a close, and that he's not meant to last forever between the ropes. My hope is that Hogan passes the torch to Sting, only to watch it passed again.. this time to a younger athlete.
As for the match itself, I don't see Hogan dropping the belt this soon. It would be nice to see a Sting/Benoit meeting Monday Night, but I get the feeling tonight will be full of disappointments. I'll take Hogan after Luger interferes against Sting.
Winner: Hulky Hulk Hogan
Goldberg v. Diamond Dallas Page
The last time these two met they impressed more than a few. Complaints regarding Goldberg's endurance, DDP's credibility, and both men's overall ring prowess weren't exactly few and far between, and neither was an internet darling. However, at Halloween Havoc, both put forward a decent effort and went something like 20 minutes before Goldberg took home the clean pin after kicking out of a Diamond Cutter. I don't expect this weekend's match to rate as high, but wouldn't it be nice?
Goldberg seems to have taken as many steps backward in his absense (no-selling, psychology) as he has forward (ringwork, endurance) while DDP has almost faded into the background following his 2 world title reigns. I really don't see Goldberg dropping his first clean loss to DDP, especially not on his first serious PPV match since returning a couple months ago. The feud will end here, as Billy moves on to a battle with Sid Vicious that will probably serve to boost his credibility back through the roof. With that being said, I'm left wondering where DDP has left to go from here. Recently he's been something of a job boy. Don't get me wrong, I think everyone his age should put over younger talent on more than one occasion, but DDP appears to be the only one taking the fall here. A triad run-in would keep him from dropping completely out of the picture, but wouldn't exactly help either. However you spell it, Goldberg will take this one.
Winner: Bill Goldberg
Chris Benoit v. Sid Vicious
US Heavyweight Title Match
I can't express enough how f'n cool it would be to see Benoit over strong here, but I don't profess to be an idiot, and that's exactly what I'd have to be before I'd believe WCW would book something like that. I figure I'll be doing enough complaining following this one, so I'll keep it to a minimum here. Sid isn't a wrestler, he's a brawler. Benoit is.. to put it lightly.. whatever you need him to be. This could be one helluva match, certainly the best of Sid's career, if given the right time to tell a story. A Revolution or Rick Steiner run-in isn't completely out of the picture, but if Sid leaves this PPV without the US title the damage will be such that his upcoming feud with Goldberg could be in jeopardy, which is a real shame. Benoit is between a rock and a hard place, as it's pretty obvious he's not in a winning feud here, yet he still has some time left before he's ready to take the world title in the ensuing matchup this Monday. The only way the crowd would buy him as a strong world title contender would be following a big victory over somebody huge.
Somebody like Sid.
As Mark Madden stated in his column on wcw.com, "There's a lot at stake. This is one of WCW's most meaningful matches in recent memory. " I don't think I could have said it better myself.
Winner: Sid Vicious
Perry Saturn v. Rick Steiner
Television Title Match
I think I've had my fill of Rick Steiner. The tale of the Steiner brothers is, like every other life story with an ending, a tragedy. Two superb athletes, (Bruno Sammartino listed them as among the half dozen wrestlers worth a shit in his autobiography a decade back) finally broken into ordinary, run-of-the-mill sports entertainers. A match with these two in their prime was almost guaranteed to be entertaining (Their only Wrestlemania appearance, WMIX, remains quite good today), yet today they're "big poppa pump and his flunkie brother". For two men who never needed a gimmick, it's sad to see they've fallen far enough to where their gimmicks are all they have. Even more sad, however, is how both have waited until the majority of their skills have left them before seriously pursuing their singles careers.
But before I get carried away, I think it's safer if I take a look at the match at hand. Perry Saturn is the model of a WCW midcarder. A damned good worker with poor mic skills, little charisma, and trouble getting over. By the looks of things, the Revolution is helping with two of those areas, and I hope working against the heel Steiner will help the crowd to accept him as a steady face. I don't see this match coming through as anything more than mediocre at best, and with Dusty Rhodes at the helm we'll more than likely see a run-in here, too. When the dust settles, I see Saturn holding the Revolution's only gold.
Barry & Kendall Windham v. Harlem Heat
World Tag Team Title Match
I won't lie, this match will probably blow chunks, pick them up, and swallow them up again. Booker T is the only true worker left in the bunch (sad, considering Barry once carried the world title) and even he's not up to the kind of carry job this would require. My hope (as always) is that Stevie does something wrong, ending in Harlem Heat's inevitable split and Booker's continued ascention to greatness as a single. With a new addition in Vincent, the West Texas Rednecks seem to be going strong again, and I'm willing to bet they keep a tight grip on their tag titles.
Winners: Barry & Kendall Windham
Berlyn v. Butt Bagwell
Speaking personally, I'm actually excited. WCW managed to debut a wrestler with a decent gimmick, and hasn't screwed it up before his first PPV. Where Alex Wright is concerned, there's still quite a ways left to go before this 'Berlyn' schtick can be termed a success (his ringwork, his ring attire, his continued heat, his loss of the piss poor translator), and tonight will answer a lot of questions. I don't like how this angle has become another 'American vs. foreigner' bit, as we've seen that so many times before, and I hope to see a bit more inventiveness with Berlyn's future angles. Meanwhile, Butt has been in the doghouse of late for his backstage attitude.. not to mention his contract is nearing an end, a situation that means instant jobs in WCW.
This match will more than likely be average, perhaps slightly better. But neither man is noted for their superb ring expertise, so the shorter this goes.. the better. Seeing as Butt won his Nitro match, and Berlyn is just now debuting in the ring, everything is pointing to a Bagwell loss.
Winner: Berlyn zu bist tode
Dean Malenko & Shane Douglas v. Brian Knobbs & Hugh Morrus
Ugh... Somebody tell me WHY Malenko is in here?!
Knobbs and Morrus are two men who should NOT have work in this business, and Douglas' presence in WCW has been anything but spectacular. Seeing one of the world's best technicians in a slop match like this really makes me wonder what WCW is doing. The 'no-DQ' stip probably means both teams will come to ringside with trash cans, cookie sheets and giant Surge canisters, and Knobbs will try to look hardcore by working stiff again. As ECW graduates, Malenko and Douglas have past experience in matches such as these, but Morrus is one of the multiple human incarnations of 'suck', and Knobbs doesn't even deserve a comment. Douglas has looked sloppy in the ring since his arrival (which will probably result in a World Title shot), and Malenko appears to be the least pushed member of the Revolution. I see this one as another match used to soften the blow of Benoit's job to Sid further up the card.
Winners: Dean Malenko & Shane Douglas
Vampiro & ICP v. Rey Mysterio Jr, Eddy Guerrero & Kidman
Good... GOD! If Violent J weren't involved, this could tear the motherloving house down! Vampiro is a strong worker (who's had his differences with Eddy of late), Shaggy 2 Dope takes some of the most NASTY bumps this side of Shawn Michaels, and they don't make enough words to do justice to Rey, Eddy and Kidman. I was tempted to purchase the PPV for this match alone, but then I remembered I'm just a college kid and can't afford $30 on a card featuring Rick Steiner, the Windhams and Stevie Ray with Hogan in the main event. It's matches like this that make me sad WCW doesn't have a 'rescue of the week' like the WWF does.. allowing us to see the highspots of the previous night's ppv, as I guarantee the clip would be from this one. I see Vampiro & co. taking the win here, largely due to Kidman and Rey's trouble backstage and the Deadpool's recent aquisitions of 'talent'.
Winners: Vampiro & ICP
Kaz Hayashi v. Lenny Lane
Cruiserweight Title Match
...and we're sure to open up the card with the cruiserweight meeting of the evening. Both these men can be tremendous workers if "on". Hopefully both will give it their best, as it IS a PPV, and treat the viewing audience to some unbelievable spots. Lodi's presence at ringside has become something of a pleasant bit, since he seems to be a bit less reluctant to bump and much more willing to try some high-risk maneuvers to get his 'brother' on top. Kaz can give us something to remember, so long as he doesn't blow many spots.. his true weakness. In the last few weeks' time, setting up this feud Kaz has had matches with Lodi that didn't get near their potential due to just that.. blown spots. If the ropes aren't too loose, nor the turnbuckles too slick, this might be one to remember. Hopefully they'll give this one another while to develop into all it could be, maybe throwing in a couple more twists.. but even if it ends tonight, I'll be glad it passed at all. Getting the cruiserweight belt off Rey was one of the best moves WCW has made recently.
I'm taking Kaz, thanks to interference from Lenny's "insane fan"
Winner: Kaz Hayashi
And that'll pretty much do it for me. I'm off to pick up Final Fantasy VIII and kill my studies playing it all weekend, but I'll try to get something posted before the Tuesday review.
until next time, i remain