Ringside Shadows #144: A 'better late the never' Fall Brawl Preview
I think the title says it all on this one... Fall Brawl has certainly crept right up on me, and with the actual event taking place in just a few hours, this preview lands as among the latest I've ever published. For that, I'll apologize, as will I for my lack of a partner in crime. John sends his regards, but he's been called away to work for this one. Seeing as how what I've got to say isn't deserving of the title World's Greatest, I've gone back to the old school formula here, which basically consisted of posting it as a regular RS column. Pretty exciting stuff. Anyway, let's take a look at what we've got this month from our friends over at WCW.
Despite a piss-poor series of Nitros, the big boys in Atlanta have actually pieced together something of a watchable PPV lineup here. For the most part, the inspired and / or rising workers are paired off with each other early on, with Skipper vs. Kwee Wee & Douglas vs. Kidman, and a large amount of the suck that just keeps hanging on to the top of the scene has been countered by a damn solid couple of new additions in Booker T and Mike Awesome. There are a several potential gems in this mix, but it wouldn't be fair to say so without mentioning the stinkers that contrast them. Another Russo "shoot" could be in order here, making it, what, three PPVs in a row now? If only he'd quit spitting into the wind long enough to notice those gems, just waiting to get five minutes of storyline-free matwork and a clean finish.
But methinks I complain too much. Let's just get to the match-by-match specifics, shall we?
100 Kilos and Under Title Match
"Prime Time" Elix Skipper vs. Kwee Wee with Paisley
Honestly, I had no idea there was any kind of feud here. While Skipper is the only member of Lance Storm's Canadian brigade that I'll applaud, (aside from Storm himself, obviously) the poor fellow hasn't been given much of a chance to showcase his skills on the big stage of Nitro. I'm not a religious watcher of Thunder or Smackdown by any means, and if that's where this feud was developed, some sort of video package that brings Nitro's viewers up to speed is certainly in order.
Technically, Skipper and Kwee Wee (how do you address this man in a formal environment? Mr. Wee?) are both quite sound, though neither has found their niche in the industry and the champion is greener than grass. They're both a breath of fresh air to the business as a whole, especially the man in pink, and it's a shame they aren't being given enough time to develop as definitive workers. I'll say this goes about three minutes before Russo whups out the "overbookin" stick and sends The Artist out to slap Kwee Wee around, ending the thing in a disqualification.
Winner: Kwee Wee (Skipper retains)
10-Man Tag Team Elimination Match
The Filthy Animals and Big Vito vs. Natural Born Thrillers
Ugh. I'll never be a fan of the fumblebuck, and that's what this will regress to, without a doubt. A ten man tag is an open invitation for sloppiness, especially if half involved aren't interested in much more than delivering their finisher and looking cool. The Thrillers haven't done anything to interest me in them thus far, aside from providing consistant fodder for Russo's swerve patrol victims, and the Animals haven't been booked as anything more than flukes since winning the tag team belts several weeks ago. While Juvy, Rey and Vito will all try to make this thing worthwhile, the numbers are against them in the end. It won't be worth watching.
As for a finish, the Animals and Big Vito need the win desperately, but Russo's mark is all over the Thrillers. As a sign of good faith I'm going with the Filthy ones, though a slaughter in the favor of their opponents (and accompanying ritualistic beatdown) won't be completely out of order.
Winners: The Filthy Animals
Sting vs. The Great Muta vs. Vampiro
Remember those days when Sting and Muta alone would provide the show stealer, based on their youthful energy, heat with the crowd, unique personalities and spectacular confrontations in the ring? I'm sorry to say it, but those days are long gone. With Sting maintaining all of his heat with the crowd, most of his moveset and more than a little energy, Muta's been riding a steady downhill slope for years. His green mist spit is just as stunning a counter as ever, but the similarities to the Muta of the late '80s pretty much end there. Where the Great One's uniquely eastern offense shone like a beacon in the NWA and WCW that housed his early American run, his sloppy, mailed in efforts today make him just another has-been, a name from yesteryear. Moreso than any other, Muta is jut going through the motions.
I suppose that's why Vampiro's been thrown into the mix here, to help with the execution of it all, but I've grown tired of the ongoing feud between Vamp and the Stinger. Instead of providing a fresh new angle to a struggling rekindling of an old feud, Vampiro just adds more soot. We may get a couple nice spots here, but overall the match is likely to fall short of what expectations it has produced. I'll go with Sting here, cleaning house and launching the Muta / Vampiro singles feud that we're likely to be seeing at Halloween Havok.
Pittsburgh Plunge Scaffold Mixed Tag Team Match
The Franchise and Torrie Wilson vs. Kidman and Madusa
Not long ago, when I composed my column covering gimmick matches, I mentioned my faith in these two and their ability to bring a distinctly WCW gimmick into the present, without losing any of the historical significance involved with it. Since then, WCW has seen fit to add Torrie and Madusa to the match, effectively destroying any of its credibility and renouncing the match as a joke. Now, I realize there's something to be said for T&A on a wrestling program today. I understand there's a good chunk of the viewing audience that tunes in to see a little cleavage on PPV. This. Is. Not. The. Place. Until that fateful moment a week ago, I was actually looking forward to this match above all others. I was anticipating what twists and turns Douglas and Kidman could throw into it, and mayben just maybe an incredible bump or two. Now that Torrie and Madusa have been added, one of the women must be thrown off the scaffold before the match can end. Let me say that again; one of them is going off the scaffold. So much for believability... if an untrained bathing suit model or a forty-year old has-been can take the fall, what does that say for Douglas or Kidman? It couldn't have remained a one on one match..
Winner: Kidman, because he's in no shape to take the bump
Kronik vs. The Harris Brothers
Have I already said 'ugh'? There isn't really much I can say about this match, aside from the fact that I'm definately not looking forward to it. Why the Harris brothers were brought back from an extended absence while more deserving, talented, watchable workers were released from their contracts ranks up there with the bermuda triangle and Amelia Earhart as one of the world's great unsolved mysteries. Seriously, these two had absolutely no redeeming value. Catch that wicked "promo" they cut on Nitro? They couldn't even complete a pre-taped segment without screwing up on several occasions. That takes a special kind of suck.
On the other end of the spectrum is Kronik, and their holier than thou, non-jobbing, non-selling, we-should-be-champions attitudes. And... yeah. There isn't much more accurate a description than that. Since their return from individual absences, Adams and Clark have given me more than one reason to lose all respect I ever held for them as workers, team players or human beings.
Worse than the combined negative aspects of both teams is the fact that this one will go more than a couple minutes. They'll get all the time in the world to stink that arena up, and I'll wager more than a couple fans find themselves sitting on their hands throughout. Because the Harris Brothers have been known to job once in a while, I'll take Kronik as the victors here, but I won't like it.
Bunkhouse Brawl Match
Jeff Jarrett vs. Mike Awesome
Here's a classic example of what WCW's doing wrong. Awesome and Jarrett, both dynamic in the ring, decent to above average on the mic and full of charisma. One would think all the necessary booking would instruct them to "head to the ring, have a good match and don't hurt each other." After all, they've got a combined two decades of experience in the ring between the two of them, why not let them cut loose and entertain the crowd? Instead, Jarrett will come to the ring amidst pyro, carrying a guitar and running from potential conflict while Awesome will drive the Partridge Family bus, step out in a leisure suit and play the "dude love" role from start to finish. It's funny, I thought the "sport" still came before the "entertainment" on the marquee.
Still, even if they are required to stick with their gimmicks, I don't see these two pounding out a bad match. They'll give us some nice counters, reversals and series, and we'll certainly see Awesome climb to the top rope at one point. It won't end cleanly, (oh, heavens no) but it'll be nice to look at until that point. Jarrett walks away with this one, on account of his association with Nash, Steiner and Russo.
Winner: Jeff Jarrett
Canadian Heavyweight Title Match
Lance Storm vs. General Rection
I think it says something that I'm a solid American citizen, and I'd rather be affiliated with Lance Storm than General Rection. Then again, I won't be voting come this presidential campaign, because neither candidate is a man that I feel confident putting in charge of our country. There have been better times to be an American, and General Rection seems to embody that sentiment.
I have enough faith in Storm's work to believe that this one won't be completely throwaway, and that he'll be able to drag a strong enough match out of his opponent for the evening. Still, I long for a worthwhile follow-up to his remarkable performance against Mike Awesome in the finals of the US Title tournament. Perhaps a dream for another day. I guess it should be noted that Storm's held that same belt for over two months now, which is quite a feat considering the crash-TV handling of just about every other belt in the fed. It's no two years, but I'm willing to believe he isn't quite halfway through his reign just yet.
Winner: Lance Storm
Goldberg vs. Scott Steiner
These two have never really had a proper feud in the past, and even now their PPV encounter seems a sort of predecessor for things to come, something to whet viewers' appetites for a larger collision in the near future. With that said, I don't think anything will be resolved here, aside from Goldberg's upcoming rise back to the World Title and Steiner's continued de-emphasis at the basement of the main event scene. These are two powerhouses, neither one as technically sound as they could be, but both making up for it with the sheer velocity of their respective moves. This won't be a masterpiece, but it won't be a waste of time either and I maintain that a prolonged feud between them could be big money down the road given the added incentive of the World Title.
You'd be silly not to realize they're primping Goldberg for another run as their top dog, and the road leads right through Steiner. I wouldn't put money against a second collision between these two next month after a shady finish tonight, but my gut tells me Goldberg goes to a decisive victory here.
World Heavyweight Title Match - Caged Heat Match
Booker T vs. Kevin Nash
Here's the shocker of the evening; I think these two can have one hell of a match. The last time they met in singles action, Kevin Nash gave an unusually inspired effort and renewed my interest in him. While it could be argued that his was only a token effort, as he'd receive the World Title later in the same match, the fact remains that he dug himself out of that rut long enough to do his job for the first time in years. If Nash comes out to play tonight with a rested Booker T, enough time alotted to give fans their money's worth and a better, cleaner outcome... well, I might just go home happy. Rumors have been swirling that Nash plans to hold the belt for over three months, but those same rumors sound pretty familiar, especially considering there was talk that he'd be champ for nearly a year last time. Booker's been on the receiving end of a lot of crap in recent weeks, and though Goldberg is by far the number one face, I'd be surprised to see Booker on Nitro without the gold this Monday.
I have no idea what this "caged heat" stipulation means, but if it provides a decent effort from these two, that's good enough for me.
Winner: Booker T
..and that should do it here. WCW's found themselves in yet another rut lately, and unless they whup out something truly remarkable with this PPV, could be in a world of hurt sooner than anyone expects. It's almost a last chance for the Atlanta promotion, and I'm not sure they have the tools to make it work this time.
At any rate, be sure to tune in next time as John and I will be around to unveil the World's Greatest Unforgiven Preview at the Oratory. Check it out, it's bound to be more entertaining than anything I could put out on my own.
until next time, i remain