Quin Voet explores some Milwaukee History at the MeccaWhen: February 29, 1992
Venue: Milwaukee Theatre at the MECCA
Tagline: Best Friends Now Bitter Rivals Brawl For It All
Where to Watch (Legally): WWE Network, Turner Home Entertainment VHS Tape
Background of the Event
World Championship Wrestling at the time was a distant second to the top dog World Wrestling Federation in both ratings and presentation. They had the backing of media mogul and owner Ted Turner but they were still looked at as the southern rasslin’ company that was hemorrhaging money as fast as they were switching Executive Vice Presidents. Speaking of that Kip Allen Frey was in the middle of his very short tenure at that position being best known for instituting a work bonus to whichever wrestler(s) he thought tried the hardest to put on the best match. What many didn’t know about WCW is that they had the better in-ring product during the early nineties with possibly the deepest, most talented roster in history as made apparent by in this card. Also at the time, WCW wanted to build Superbrawl as their flagship, “Wrestlemania” event, much like what they have been doing for their December event Starrcade for the previous 10 years.
Starting with the top feud, World Champion Lex Luger who has held the title since the 1991 Great American Bash in June was built as the top heel and the challenger was WCW’s longtime top babyface and former friend of Luger, Sting. To vilify Luger even more WCW paired him up with former World Champion and longtime notorious heel Harley Race to be his manager. What many knew and didn’t know at the time was this was Lugers last match in WCW until 1995 because the WWF signed Luger to a massive contract to be the centerpiece of Vince McMahon’s newly formed World Bodybuilding Federation. The second big storyline was the Dangerous Alliance running roughshod through entire roster. The members were leader and manager Paul E. Dangerously (Paul Heyman), United States Champion Rick Rude, Steve Austin, Larry Zbyszko, and World Tag Team Champions Arn Anderson and Bobby Eaton. All five wrestling members were featured in matches throughout the event. Lastly, leading up to the event Kip Allen Frey revealed his big surprise for the event which was former WWF wrestler, commentator and future Minnesota Governor Jesse “The Body” Ventura as WCW’s new color commentator. What many didn’t know was WCW was originally going to sign the WWF’s Intercontinental Champion Bret “The Hitman” Hart who was going to bring the belt with him as retaliation for Ric Flair doing that with the World Heavyweight Championship the year before. The deal fell through as Hart would be resigned and later in the year won the WWF Championship.
Tony Shiavone and Eric Bischoff are our hosts to make sure it’s “greatest night in the history of our sport” and Missy Hyatt is our backstage interviewer. They cut to Jim Ross who is in the ring to introduce his new commentating partner Jesse Ventura “a man who tells it like it is.” Ventura comes out to pyro, riding a Milwaukee Harley Davidson, suggesting to Ross that he should start wearing a cowboy hat and call himself “JR”. OH THE IRONY.
In a match of two of the best workers in the world and this did not disappoint one bit. The WCW Light Heavyweight Championship was established in late 91 as a precursor of the Cruiserweight Championship with Pillman being the first man to hold it. He would lose it to Liger in Atlanta on Christmas night and this was the rematch. Liger was an already established junior-weight superstar in Japan and this run of his was America’s first taste of him and the high-flying junior style. A lot of what was done in this match has never been seen before by an American audience which included power bombs, huricanranas, off the top rope flips and dives to the outside of the ring. As obviously apparent the Milwaukee crowd went absolutely nuts and were in aw-struck from what they were seeing from these two men. They started off chain-wrestling and trading aerial maneuvers until Pillman missed to the outside giving an opening for Liger to work on his legs. Pillman comes back with an enzuigiri and blocks Liger’s suplex to the outside attempt with a springboard clothesline or Air Pillman. After suplexing Liger to the outside Pillman again misses with a plancha giving Liger the advantage again and he hits Pillman with a german suplex and eventually a Ligerbomb for a two-count. Pillman hits a DDT and goes to the top only to be met by a recovering Liger who hits a superplex. Liger goes back to the top and attempts a flying headbutt, misses and Pillman rolls him up with the bridge to get the pin and the title. This is a fast and furious 17 minutes and a must watch as it’s the match of the night in my opinion. Both show each other respect with a handshake and Milwaukee goes insane for both.
9 out of 10, Winner and new champion: Brian Pillman
Marcus Alexander Bagwell vs. The Taylor Made Man (Terry Taylor)
Before the match begins a young college student from Syracuse guest ring announces this bout after winning a contest WCW held. This is hilarious as the crowd meets him with loud boos and he’s wearing a ridiculous outfit consisting of the upper body of a tuxedo including the cummerbund but for some awful reason he has gym shorts on. The story leading up to this match was Bagwell is the baby-faced rookie and Taylor who is in the fourth terrible gimmick of his career is the experienced veteran. The Taylor Made Man by the way is just Terry Taylor but he comes out wearing a cheesy Ted Dibiase rip away tuxedo. This match starts off pretty decent with the rookie out wrestling the veteran with some brawling and a nice looking cross-body off the top rope. Bagwell’s greenness shows up and the match falls apart as it’s greeted with some “rooster” chants, making fun of Taylor’s awful WWF Red Rooster gimmick. Seven minutes in Taylor attempts a piledriver but it’s reversed only for Taylor to end the comeback with a rolling necksnap. Bagwell suddenly gets a rollup to get the pin. Terry Taylor has always been a solid worker but not even he could make up for Bagwell, as the match made zero sense and had little to no chemistry.
3 out of 10, Winner: Marcus Alexander Bagwell.
Cactus Jack vs. Ron Simmons
Simmons just recently split up from his Doom tag team partner Butch Reed to be the All-American baby-face. Six months later he would become the first African-American World Heavyweight Champion. Cactus Jack came out to a huge crowd ovation and began with Cactus cheapshotting Simmons. Jack quickly dives through the ropes and gets his head tied up and after there is some brawling on the outside. Cactus gains back control with a double-arm DDT and tosses Simmons to the outside to hit his patented elbow drop off the second rope. After they get back into the ring they tumble through the ropes onto the ramp where Cactus walks into a sick spinebuster on the ramp. With six and a half minutes in Cactus goes off the second rope in the ring but Simmons counters it into a powerslam to get the win. Afterwards Abdullah the Butcher comes down to gang up with Cactus to take out Simmons but Junkyard Dog comes out from the crowd to make the save. Fun, short power match, with Cactus taking some big bumps for Simmons. Junkyard Dog probably and surprisingly got the biggest pop of the night from the Milwaukee crowd.
6 out of 10, Winner: Ron Simmons
Richard Morton and Vinnie Vegas (Kevin Nash) vs. “Heavy Metal” Van Hammer and Tom Zenk
Kevin Nash is in his last of three terrible gimmicks WCW gave him early in his career, and he’s teaming with longtime babyface, now heel tag team wrestler Richard Morton. If you don’t know about Richard or Ricky Morton it’s that he was for a long time apart of the Rock N’ Roll Express with Robert Gibson, which is one of the greatest tag teams of all time, and he always played the guy that took all the punishment or the babyface in peril. He and Vegas are up against rookie sensation/big lug Van Hammer and WCW Magazine’s Sexiest Man of The Year Tom Zenk, who has always been a solid worker. So two of the four men in this match are solid workers but what’s incredible is that all four, especially Nash/Vegas are trying super hard to try to get that Frye bonus mentioned before, even though it was easily going to Pillman and Liger. The effort by all four men with the preciseness of the moves and the selling makes this match a somewhat enjoyable one to watch even though there isn’t really a reason why this match is happening. Another interesting aspect of this match is Van Hammer is playing Ricky Morton while Ricky Morton is playing Robert Gibson but a heel. On to the actual match, Van Hammer is taking the punishment with a beautiful looking big boot and flying shoulder block from Vegas, but Van Hammer gets the hot tag to Zenk lays out both Morton and Vegas. Morton misses a splash into the corner and Zenk rolls him into a sunset-flip to get the three count at 12 minutes. Morton had to lay out this match because it was very old-school and the crowd absolutely loved it. Adding that all four men gave incredible effort, it makes it for a fun watch.
7 out of 10, Winners: Van Hammer and Tom Zenk
Larry Zbyszko and “Stunning” Steve Austin vs. Barry Windham and Dustin Rhodes
Leading up to this Zbyszko broke Windham’s hand by crunching it in a car door, hence the nickname “The Cruncher.” Both were longtime veterans by this time but very solid in-ring workers to say the least. Austin and Rhodes were the great, young workers who were along for the ride to create a solid tag team grudge match. Of course it starts out with a big brawl and the faces begin with the advantage. Windham demands that Zbyszko gets in the ring where the heel takes a beating while Rhodes tags in to work on the hand of Zbyszko. Windham comes back in and attempts a piledriver only to get drilled by Austin and while the referee is distracted gets tossed over the top rope. He then goes on to take a beating getting cut off from Rhodes. What a liked a lot was how the heel team would almost allow the tag to Rhodes but at the last second cut him off which drove the crowd nuts. Windham gets the hot tag on Dustin only for him to eventually take a beating from the heels. Rhodes becomes the face in peril but hits a desperation stungun on Austin to hot tag Windham back in. Windham kills Zbyszko with a lariat and after Rhodes neutralizes Austin, hits Larry with a top rope lariat to get the pin at 18 and a half minutes. Fun old school grudge match.
8 out of 10, Winners: Barry Windham and Dustin Rhodes
-Next we get racism as Missy Hyatt tries to get an interview with Ricky Steamboat only to get met by his friend and bodyguard “The Ninja”. The Ninja rejects Hyatt in a very stereotypical Japanese accent and demeanor.
WCW World Tag Team Championship Match: “The Enforcer” Arn Anderson and “Beautiful” Bobby Eaton (c) vs. The Steiner Brothers
Paul E. Dangerously is barred from ringside and the champs are suddenly looked at as the underdogs. On paper this match looks incredible as it’s the best tag team in the world, the Steiner Brothers against two the greatest tag team wrestlers of all time, Arn Anderson with the Four Horseman and Bobby Eaton with the Midnight Express. This match didn’t meet expectations in my opinion as it didn’t have the best formula and the finish was classic WCW. The formula was that the Steiner Brothers, the faces, pretty much dominated the first 15 minutes of the match. During this time you saw your classic Steiner Brothers’ plethora of suplexes and double team maneuvers. The champs turn the tide when Scott is hit with an Alabama Jam by Bobby and then a DDT by Arn, both which gets two counts. Scott guts it out and gets the hot tag to Rick to once again take over the match. In the middle of the chaos Arn throws powder into Ricks face to blind him and he accidently suplexes the referee. With Arn taken out Scott hits the Frankensteiner on Eaton to get the pinfall from another referee that came in and the apparent referee. Now here’s the classic WCW title finish; since the first referee was knocked out by Rick and the ref didn’t know it was on accident, the Steiner Brothers were disqualified, hence not the new champions. DUSTY FINISH.
7 out of 10, Winners: Arn Anderson and Bobby Eaton
WCW United States Heavyweight Championship Match: “Ravishing” Rick Rude (c) vs. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat w/ The Ninja
Again another match featuring two all-time great workers that fell short of expectations due to WCW over-booking the finish. Don’t get me wrong this match was very good if not great but it was subpar of what we’ve seen from these two in the coming months, including a phenomenal 30-minute ironman match from Beach Blast in June. Rude comes out first and his pre-match promo was met by probably the biggest heel heat from a crowd I’ve ever seen. It was so loud he couldn’t cut it on his first two attempts. Steamboat comes out and dominates the first part of the match working on Rude’s arm. Rude turns the tide but does some great selling of the worked on arm when he hits Steamboat with a clothesline but wrenches in pain from using the injured arm. Going into this match Rude injured Steamboat’s neck and that’s where Rude goes to when he gets on offense hitting a stungun, spinning neckbreaker and a piledriver, only to get a two count. Of course Rude is setting up for his finisher the Rude Awakening neckbreaker. Rude hits a couple top-rope moves but can’t put Steamboat away and locks in a rear chinlock only for Steamboat to electric chair out of it. Rude goes to the top rope again only to be met by Steamboat who gives him a beautiful superplex. Steamboat continues the comeback with a flying karate chop off the top and goes back to ropes to attempt his finisher. There his bodyguard, the Ninja pulls out a suspicious-looking huge cell phone and breaks it over Steamboat’s head and Rude gets the pin to retain at 20 minutes. The cellphone is of course Paul E. Dangerously’s patented accessory of choice. Very good match with great psychology and storytelling but it failed to go into that next gear and the finish was bad. It makes Steamboat look like an idiot since he couldn’t tell the difference between the actual Ninja and Paul E. Dangerously disguised as the Ninja.
8 out of 10, Winner: Rick Rude
WCW World Heavyweight Championship Match: “The Total Package” Lex Luger (c) vs Sting
This was right before Luger’s major motorcycle accident in which he wasn’t the same afterwards because surprisingly and no one talks about it, he was a very good worker before the injury. Yes he was mostly a follower but he wasn’t the proverbial broom where he had great matches against Ric Flair, Ricky Steamboat, Brian Pillman and even a four star match against Dan Spivey of all people a year previously. There was one major thing missing, mostly from Luger and that was EFFORT. Since he was already out the door and dropping the title he didn’t put anything in this match and it was noticeably bad. The first five minutes actually looked decent as they started with a staredown and strength contest. Sting even reversed Luger’s Torture Rack into a german suplex but once Luger took over it got horrible. He was walking through the movements and holds. Eventually, Sting gained back momentum and nailed a flying crossbody to win the title at 13 minutes. Awful but short world title match and if Luger would’ve at least put in some effort it would’ve been a good match.
This was one of the greatest in-ring wrestling paper-views of all time, regardless of the awful main event. You saw three very good if not fun tag team matches, a phenomenal all-time great opener and a great U.S. title match. If some of the finishes weren’t overbooked and the main event was watchable this show would be talked about as the greatest of all time. Highly recommend to watch if you want to enjoy 3 solid hours of wrestling with some great and classic matches.