1993 was a surprisingly lean year for WCW, especially considering the talent going around at the time. That year, Ric Flair returned and The British Bulldog defected, causing a change in the main event scene of the company. Another noteworthy event was the new stars brought in and being developed: Harlem Heat, Steven Regal, Cactus Jack and Dustin Rhodes seem to be some of the stars of the future WCW are trying to build here. As for Fall Brawl 1993, it can probably be said they pushed the wrong stars and/or in the wrong way. As wrestling reviewer Arnold Furious put it: “WCW in 1993, despite their great roster, would push some of the biggest, most worthless lumps they could find. Fred Ottman, Dave Sullivan, Ice Train, Charlie Norris and that’s just this show.”
The show is headlined by a WarGames encounter, most notable for the PPV debut of The Shockmaster. With the tagline “One will fall, one will rise”, it sees Sting’s group take on a WCW World Heavyweight champion Vader-led faction, in a match filled with future and present star power.
Regarded as one of WCW’s weakest PPV events, let us review Fall Brawl ’93 to see if that view is a fair assessment of the show.
The Show Opens
In a dark match, Erik Watts beat Bobby Eaton, which goes to show you how competent WCW were at the time. This was a match, Meltzer said, “would have made a bad show worse.”
We begin with some old-timey footage of a teacher educating children before it is interrupted with fun graphics and a bombastic voice-over announcing the title matches and the “the most explosive match in history” main event.
This is very notable because outside of the title matches and the main event, this card is lacking desperately.
We get the commentary duo of Jesse Ventura and Tony Schiavone, who always worked well together. A young Eric Bischoff throws to Michael Buffer for the first match.
WCW has gone for the classic long stage layout and beautiful, massive golden curtain entranceway.
WCW Television Champion Ricky Steamboat vs. Lord Steven Regal (w/Sir William)
This one should be fun. My personal favourite wrestler ever, Steamboat, and a compelling candidate for the best ever in Regal. It also gets the Michael Buffer treatment, which is a huge rub for both guys, even if they do have to curtain-jerk here.
Steamboat still has his maligned dragon gimmick, why did WCW keep this? “The Dragon”’s left-side ribs are taped up from an attack Regal unleashed on Saturday Night with his umbrella.
The match starts with Steamboat on offence, delivering a flurry of strikes, largely chops. Even so, the effect of the ribs is quite clear. Naturally, Regal focuses in on targetting the ribs. An aggressive Steamboat resists a common scientific wrestling match in the early stages. His dirtiness is shown by playing possum to trick out Regal before Ventura brings up a great point: “How come when “Flyin’” Brian [a heel] does that he’s cheating and when Steamboat [a face] does it he’s brilliant?” A short-arm scissors is locked in and Regal powers up Steamboat but Ricky holds on and re-applies the manoeuvre.
Regal wears down Steamboat with a number of submission holds, including a Ventura-esque Canadian backbreaker.
The crowd come alive for a great show of strength after Ricky counters a tombstone into one of his own. This is eventually followed up by his finisher, a diving crossbody. Despite the fact it is his finisher, he rarely ever seems to win with it in big matches.
Regal throws Steamboat over the top which seems to not be a DQ here. As Regal distracts the referee, “The Dragon” skins the cat but is thwarted with a shot of Sir William’s umbrella. A German suplex, a bridging cover, a win! William Regal wins the TV title, his first WCW strap. A girl in the crowd is screaming at this, I think she is…happy?
A big moment for Regal, it gave him a huge win over an established star. As for a rating, because of my love of both men, this is likely to not be devoid of bias, as much as I may want it to be. Kevin Pantoja of 411Mania wrote: “Very good choice for an opener. They worked a very smart match, utilizing great psychology and building the match around the injury.”, which I do agree with. Perhaps not a promising comment but this is probably the best match on the card.
Star Rating: **½
(For reference, this means two and a half stars)
The Nasty Boys cut a promo, foreshadowing “A big, big secret sitting right at the end of Nasty Street.” Both men squawk as we arrive back at ringside
Charlie Norris vs Big Sky
Out first is Big Sky, who looks like a weird mash-up of Chris Jericho and 1980s James Hetfield of Metallica. He is built like a particular brick outdoor facility so much so that I am surprised he was done so little with. Who is this guy? He is named Tyler Mane and this was his only PPV match before finding greener pastures of the acting realm with not insignificant roles in X-Men, Troy, and the Halloween film remakes.
Out comes his opponent Charlie Norris. A native American, he comes out doing his raindance to which I can only think that Tatanka debuted about a year before he did and did the gimmick better. By 1993, this just feels a little outdated as he is like Tatanka without the frills, which is something nobody wants. Ventura comments, “He owns half the stock in the Red Grand Lake Casino.” I imagined, wrongly, that Norris may be a denim-wearing, no-nonsense hardman like an amalgamation of the actor Charles Bronson and Chuck Norris, but really he is playing the moniker of generic ‘70s native American.
Looking at both men’s physiques, appearances, and gimmicks, this feels reversed as it looks as though Norris will be playing the enhancement role in the match.
The match starts to crowd apathy as Norris works an arm stretch. The 6’9 Canadian hits some power moves and lines up Charlie for a second rope flying nothing: Norris obviously moves as Sky lands on his knees.
Norris executes the chops that I feel all natives are obligated to use whilst dancing around the ring. After an Irish whip to the corner, we get a bicycle kick. Oh, that’s it.
This was fairly dull—your typical Saturday Night or Worldwide squash match. I would have preferred to have seen WCW push Big Sky (but with a better name) more so than Norris. Hard to say much more than it’s unremarked and that it definitely happened.
Star Rating: ½
The British Bulldog cuts a fairly generic promo about the main event, saying his team will not quit and will not surrender.
2 Cold Scorpio & Marcus Bagwell vs The Equalizer & Paul Orndorff
Having lost the TV belt to Steamboat a few weeks back, Paul Orndorff is now aligned with the musclehead egg Equalizer, who would go on to be better known as Evad Sullivan. They take on the young duo of 2 Cold Scorpio and Marcus “Buff” Bagwell, the latter of whom is the WCW Magazine Rookie Of The Year. Before the match, the colour-matching face team do some dancing as “The Body” on commentary comments: “White man can’t dance.” The match was unadvertised.
Bagwell and Scorpio arrive in matching purple and yellow tights. In the spirit of OSW Review, I ask “What Bar?” are these men. They are a Cadbury Twirl.
We start with Equalizer and Bagwell: it makes sense—always start with the worse wrestlers(!) After some Equalizer dominance, the faster duo dropkick him to the outside.
Scorpio takes the heat, including the camera picking up some obvious spot-calling in the corner, before 2 Cold hits Orndorff with a rotating crossbody. The team follow up with a double hip toss and elbow combination. While the referee is distracted, Sullivan lowers the rope that Bagwell is going to bounce off, knocking him to the outside.
Scorpio gets a hot tag and knocks down both men including Orndorff with a dropkick that just about connects. Paul breaks up a pin leading to a brief schmoz, during which “Mr Wonderful” decks Scorpio with one hell of a clothesline. In the chaos, Orndorff accidentally knees his partner before the future Flash Funk hits a 450 splash for which the crowd come unglued. It gets the three.
Within five seconds, Sullivan is back on his feet and beating up Scorpio. Some bad-looking moves are hit—just bad camera angles perhaps—as the heels get their heat back.
The match was fine. Many say it was boring, which is a little harsh. That said, it was not necessarily a fun match, with little heat and a feeling of being rather irrelevant. Nice finish but the rest was fairly meh.
Star Rating: **
Regal and Sir William have a brief promo, chastised by Bischoff for the dubious win. Regal says he will defend the honour with duty and pride, which he very much did in a brilliantly heelish way.
Ice Train vs Shanghai Pierce (w/Tex Slazenger)
Ice Train is in the next match, oh dear. On the What Happened When podcast, Tony Schiavone commented the ring entrances must have been, “Ladies and gentlemen, this is a one-fall match. In this corner: Ice Train, and his opponent making his way to the ring: it doesn’t f**king matter, it’s going to be a lousy match.” Conrad Thompson meanwhile called him “Black Bill Kazmaier without the records.”
Maybe best-known for his Fire & Ice tag team with Scott Norton, Ice Train here takes on Shanghai Pierce and Tex Slazenger—the team who would go on to be Henry O. Godwinn and Phineas I. Godwinn (Mideon) later on, Train arrives doing train whistle noises as Pierce is decked out in cowboy attire with a red mask.
There is a lot of stalling early on until Pierce gets the dirty cut-off post-test of strength spot. Train blocks a suplex for one of his own that rattles the ring. An eye poke from Pierce was followed by an attempted tag spot with his manager—why would they attempt this right in front of the referee, do they want to get DQ’ed?
Train counters the bull rope move, which kind of looks sloppy. Maybe it is the camera angle but Train hits a scary-looking power slam like Shanghai was about to be dropped right on his head. A pin and a win in just over three minutes. Train knocks both men out of the ring after the match when they try to jump him, clearing house. What was the point of this match?
This was not good, folks.
Star Rating: -½
WCW World Tag Team Champions Arn Anderson & Paul Roma vs. The Nasty Boys
The Nasty Boys come out with their surprise: new valet Missy Hyatt. Pulled off in a surprisingly muted way, she just walked out with them being “Nastysized”, in the words of Ventura. This is revealed to be a huge shock to the commentators yet cameras show at least two signs related to Hyatt joining. The hodgepodge Horsemen duo Paul Roma and Arn Anderson—the tag champs—arrive at the ring with kick-ass pyro.
Michael Buffer intro for this match. Whilst Arn is introduced as a three-time TV champion and five-time tag champion, Roma is introduced as “wearing black”. I wonder why he is considered to be the worst Horsemen(!)
Brian Knobbs tries to jump Roma, who dodges it. The heels are knocked to the outside although Sags fails to go over the top rope. Arn is tagged in and quickly focuses on Sags’ leg, smashing it against the ring post. The assault continues on the leg, including a tag wishbone. The leg is worked over for a long time before the cut-off.
Sags applies a chin lock on Roma with the escape botched so the duo do a redo about a minute later when Roma hits an electric chair. After his tag, Arn takes down Sags but a referee distraction allows Knobbs to knock Arn over the ropes. Subsequently, the assault on the outside continues, including thwacking “The Enforcer” with a chair. The back is then focused on, with The Nastys pinpointing Anderson’s lower back. Arn shows his days as a heel are not totally over, biting the forehead of Knobbs to get out of a bear hug. Another bear hug is applied: boy, The Nastys really seem limited. A double-team facebuster opens the door for a tag.
As Roma is set up for The Nastys tag move, there is a megaly-botched spot. Arn pushes Sags into Knobbs, who falls forward with Paul who has to no sell with a schoolboy roll-up, which is not quite broken up by Sags. Arn’s usually brilliant spinebuster looks pretty bad when hit on Knobbs; I’ll blame Brian. Roma nearly falls off the top but hits his diving splash. Sags then hits the covering Roma with a diving elbow, after which Knobbs pins him to win the tag titles.
This match went nearly 24 minutes which is far too long. Arn was the worker of the match, even if not at his best, but that could not sort out this mess as the sub-par Nastys disappointed in this stretched-out encounter. Also, did anyone want to see The Nasty Boys as tag champions in 1993? The match saw more Nasty Boy shouting than wrestling. Just bad all around.
Sean’s Wrestling Reviews summed it up best saying: “24 minutes long and it felt like an hour-long match, crazy to think how high I was on the tag team division a year ago with The Steiners, Windham & Rhodes and now we have this.”
Star Rating: *
In a post-match promo, Hyatt says “It doesn’t make a matter if I make a difference or not.” I hope she is not there to cut promos for them.
We get a promo package for the next match, in which Cactus Jack faces Yoshi Kwan.
Cactus Jack vs Yoshi Kwan (w/Harley Race)
This match is part of the greater Jack/Vader feud. On Saturday Night, Vader concussed Jack with a powerbomb on the concrete, causing amnesia. This created the infamous ‘Lost In Cleveland’ skits. Jack’s prized bag, a tiny little sack, is taken by Race during Jack’s absence. At Clash Of The Champions XXIV, Jack returns, jumping Vader after “The Mastodon” had defended his WCW title. A bounty was put on Jack’s head and was answered by Yoshi Kwan, thus setting up this match for the possession of Jack’s bag.
Yoshi Kwan was a stereotypical evil Chinese wrestler, in the mould of Fu Manchu, played by English wrestler Chris Champion. Just ignore the fact the name Yoshi is Japanese. The gimmick really has not aged well, especially when he is led to the ring by a suit-wearing white man. Just to hammer home he is Asian, he has massive pronounced eyebrows, a fan with dragons, and a pointy triangular hat.
Jack wastes little time attacking Race and Kwan, hitting his patented over-the-top clothesline. As an Asian wrestler, the majority of Kwan’s offence is flying kicks, including a nice cartwheel kick in the ring. He even tries a crane kick. Kwan has the biggest sell of a back rake I have ever seen, yelling loudly with his face writhing in pain.
The ending is more than a little messy. Race trips Jack, Jack does not move out of the way of a kick before Kwan distracts the referee. Harley holds Jack for a Kwan kick, Jack moves so Yoshi hits his manager. A double arm DDT and Mick Foley beat the evil foreigner.
Afterwards, Jack suplexes Race into the ring, reclaims his bag and challenges Vader.
I feel the bag stipulation was rather shoehorned and not necessary for the match—the upcoming Jack/Vader match was a big enough story to justify the match. Personally, I think this match would have worked better on weekly programming whilst Jack would have been better off in the main event match. That said, I thought this match was good for what it was—a good PPV return match for Foley and a strong victory on his road to the built-to match with Vader, knocking down Race’s cronies.
Star Rating: *½
WCW International Champion Ric Flair (w/Fifi) vs. Rick Rude
First, let us elaborate on what the WCW International title is. The belt was created to represent a fictitious company after the NWA split off from WCW. Flair was the NWA champion but then became the International champion, a belt still represented by the same physical title.
The build for this match starts on a ‘Flair For The Gold’ segment where Flair’s valet and maid Fifi was forcibly kissed by Rude, dressed in one of the most ridiculous outfits I have ever seen. Flair’s valet rejected Rude so an incensed “Ravishing” Rick jumped Flair and hit the Rude Awakening. In revenge, Flair helped Dustin Rhodes beat Rude for the US title.
After Buffer does the announcing, Rude takes off his robe to reveal Fifi’s face on his tights: great heel heat.
There is some heel misogynistic commentary from Ventura as the duo lock up in the ring. Rude goes for a diving knee, no longer a DQ in WCW, but “The Nature Boy” moves. Flair locks in a Figure-Four but Rick quickly gets to the ropes. Do my eyes deceive me, or does Ric Flair actually hit a diving top rope move after Fifi distraction, who should be “barefoot and pregnant” according to “The Body”? Fun fact: later in the match Ventura had his mic cut, with The History Of WWE explaining that “the female production manager [cut his mic] after he made several sexist remarks in regards to women and specifically Fifi.”
Flair gets the advantage with several arm holds before an eye rake allows Rude to take over. “Slick Ric” continues targeting the arm, which makes sense scientifically and psychologically but does not exactly excite the audience. Both topple to the outside after a Flair crossbody when Rude leans against the ropes.
Rude hits a suplex into the ring when he then again takes control, applying a camel clutch for a long time, about three minutes. Flair gets a second wind with a flurry of chops but is snake-eyed on the top rope. A long bear hug from Rude, which once escaped from, is followed up by a top rope move. And another. He goes up a third time after a delay, it is clear as day it will be countered—and it is!
A while later, Flair bites Rude to escape a Rude Awakening before hitting one of his own, but Rude gets to the ropes. Flair works on the leg, including a diving leg snap, before a diving move to the outside. Flair jumps into the ring with a diving move but misses, then hits a diving fist drop, which is kicked out of.
Rude brings in Fifi after forcing her to kiss him. He lifts her in with ease, which takes great strength but is made to look easy. The referee is distracted invertedly by Fifi whilst Rude cannot wait, immediately getting out brass knuckles the second he is locked in the Figure-Four. A punch, a pin and a new world champion!
The result comes as somewhat of a shock. All three face-held titles have changed and are now heel-held titles, with this being Rude’s first world title.
As KB’s Wrestling Reviews put it: “This was half an hour long which more or less sums up the major issue with it. This went on WAY too long and it got very boring after a while.”
Neither man had their best match here. That said, it was a good match, albeit a bit of a letdown considering the participants. The story of the match made sense, allowing Flair to drop this belt to follow the WCW title whilst rewarding Rude for his top workmanship. Maybe a bit long with a few too long rest holds, it was nonetheless a good match between two good workers.
Star Rating: ***
Sting, The British Bulldog, Dustin Rhodes (w/Road Warrior Animal) & The Shockmaster vs. Vader, Sid Vicious & Harlem Heat (w/Harley Race & Col. Robert Parker)
So, how did we get here?
Bulldog debuted in WCW in 1993 and quickly became a top star, beating WCW champion Vader at Slamboree but not winning the title. At Beach Blast, due to a storyline involving a midget trying to explode their boat, Davey Boy Smith and Sting defeated Vader and Sid, with Smith getting another title shot after pinning Vader in that match, a shot he would lose. The faces united whilst new team Harlem Heat joined the heels. The Shockmaster debuted on a ‘Flair For The Gold’ segment with one of the most infamous debuts of all time, losing all credibility (if he were to have any anyway) but falling flat on his face breaking through a wall; he replaced Road Warrior Hawk.
The cage is lowered over the ring at a dodgy angle but it just about makes it.
The heels get a group entrance but Vader does not have his title belt. Animal leads the faces to the ring and what star power (and also The Shockmaster). So bumbling was his iconic debut, The Shockmaster has already been repackaged with a construction worker gimmick.
Against his team’s wishes, Rhodes starts off, fighting Vader. Dustin uses his boot but is quickly thwarted by Vader. Vader hits the Vader Bomb early but the match cannot end until all eight men have entered, I’m glad that has been clarified.
It feels short but a new man is in. Surprise, surprise: the heels win the coin toss and get the advantage, as they should really. In comes Kane in his red, flame-adorned attire—no, it is not Republican arsehole, in my opinion, allegedly, (yes, I’ll see you in the comments!) Glenn Jacobs but Stevie Ray. The entrants come in every two minutes so little happens between entries but Dustin was double-teamed, including shots with his own boot. The time between entries does feel too brief.
Sting comes in like a house on fire, clotheslining both men down, throwing Kane into the cage, and then a Stinger Splash to Vader. In the other ring, Dustin has blood pouring from his face with stains on his arms and body: it looks really gross.
Sid comes in and chokeslams Sting who almost bashes his head on the cage a la Brian Pillman hitting the cage at WrestleWar ‘91 when the top is not high enough. Sid and Vader then press Sting into the cage but it looks pretty weak. If it was not evident already, the match is mostly people not knowing what to do with it and is almost all stomps, kicks, and punches.
Bulldog comes in, knocks down Sid, and slams Vader. They press slam Sid into the cage in retaliation. Sting clashes Kane and Sid’s heads, which is no-sold even though they are not foreign. A funny spot where Dustin gives a regular Irish whip and Sid seems to voluntarily just leap into the cage face-first.
In comes Kole (Booker T). Nothing much happens for a while until Kole jumps over the ropes of one ring into another for a move that misses.
The Shockmaster comes in and it looks like he goes through an army training crash course making his way to the further away ring. The Shockmaster makes the odd choice to wrestle in jeans, a belt, and a shirt. As The Shockmaster clears house, Rhodes continues clocking Sid with his boot.
The Shockmaster locks Kole in a bear hug. Ventura says “He could get a submission with this hug.” Yeah, right(!). The action comes to a standstill as both Kane and Sid stare at their partner in this hold and seemingly do everything to not break it up. Wait, that’s it? Kole submits, and the crowd seem to be surprised, to say the least! Yes, The Shockmaster submitted future six-time world champion Booker T. Weird.
The heels yell furiously in the ring and celebrate for some reason as the show just ends. With a whimper and not with a bang.
Admittedly, the match was not good for WarGames standards, ranking in the lower half undoubtedly. I will, however, always get enjoyment out of WarGames matches and their concept. It was a perfectly fine match but really needed more remarkable moments, feeling quite brawl-heavy with a limited amount of moves. A good line-up and somewhat of a story was told but it was not the best WarGames match by any standards.
Star Rating: **
I think it should be quite a drawable conclusion from this review that Fall Brawl 1993 is not exactly a strong show. The reviews reflect this too. 0.09% of Wrestling Observer viewers gave the show a thumbs up. The show itself drew an abysmal 0.46 buyrate.
Sean’s Wrestling Review did not exactly skirt around the unpleasant in its review: “Awful PPV, I do not recommend checking anything out on this card. WCW in 1993 continues to crash and burn.”
J.D. Dunn and Arnold Furious both comment that bad booking played its part in hindering the show, with Dunn saying “the talented guys either didn’t give effort, were mismatched, or had been beaten down by bad booking,” whilst Furious states “Not that the booking helped any. Bischoff’s Disney tapings killed any heat the majority of the matches would have had.”
At the time, booking was handled by Dusty Rhodes alongside Ole Anderson and Jim Ross. Ross aside, the booking team cannot be considered a great one. Dusty used some sweet, sweet nepotism to put over Dustin Rhodes constantly when Dusty himself was not on top. Dusty had previous form, booking in Jim Crockett Promotions and constantly booking himself and his interests over others and what was best all-round. Ole Anderson came up with both The Black Scorpion and voiced The Shockmaster…what more is there to say?
Both were obviously bad reviews, such as mine, with Dunn calling it “just horrible gimmicks and wrestling. One of the worst shows of all time. Just awful.”
Furious said “WCW got even worse here. This is a new low by my reckoning and possibly the worst WCW show ever by this point, especially considering the stacked nature of the card…Thumbs way down. Avoid at all costs.”
411Mania’s Kevin Pantoja gave it a 1.5 rating out of 10, calling the PPV “extremely horrendous.”
Eric Bischoff, the EVP, even said on his podcast “I wonder what was going on in Dusty’s head” when booking this show.
Another factor crucial to the show’s badness is that although there was still star power, even more so to modern eyes: Steamboat, Flair, Rude, T, Regal, Sting, Rhodes, Vader, and Anderson—this event saw a whole new changing of the guard. The show saw the WCW PPV debut of The Shockmaster, a man who famously had such a fumbled debut he immediately had to be repackaged and not taken seriously. Also, it signalled the PPV debuts (in any company) of Charlie Norris, Big Sky, Ice Train, The Equalizer, Yoshi Kwan, and Harlem Heat (Booker T & Stevie Ray). Of these debuts, which could the fans really get invested in and care for? Perhaps Harlem Heat but they were so quickly thrust into the main event that it felt premature and disjointed. In the cases of Norris and Kwan, it would be their only ever PPV match. This is not even to account for returns such as The Nasty Boys and Road Warrior Animal. Even by 1993, these characters seemed from a bygone era.
Overall, to summarise the show, it was indeed pretty terrible. In fact, shockingly bad, dull, and uninspiring. Shockmaster was a lot of fun though. It is better than Starrcade 1994, but how low can we really set the bar?
What did you think of WCW Fall Brawl 1993? Leave your comments below!