WCW Superbrawl VIII (22/2/98) – Review
Ever since the debacle that occurred at December 1997’s Starrcade (which we covered in our “Starrcade Shutdown” article), the status of who should be the rightful World Heavyweight champion had been up for debate. More screwiness ensued with no clear-cut result, and then at the January pay-per-view Souled Out, new commissioner Roddy Piper announced the Superbrawl main event to be Sting and Hogan again for the title. To add some more spice, Randy Savage had been causing a stir by making a leadership challenge, and then on Nitro before the PPV, the nWo carried an unconscious Savage to the ring and dropped him at Sting’s feet.
Superbrawl was traditionally a strong WCW pay-per-view; would it turn out better than the finish of Starrcade 1997? Would we see the issue over the World title resolved in a satisfying way? Let’s find out…
The show began with an atmospheric video package in black-and-white, discussing how the ‘darkness’ had been lifted when Sting won the title, but the battle was still raging. Randy Savage is also shown arguing with Hogan as the video ends and Tony Schiavone welcomes us to the telecast along with fellow commentators Bobby Heenan and Mike Tenay. They discuss the main event, and what role – if any – “The Macho Man” will play in the final outcome.
Match 1 – Rick Martel vs Booker T (WCW Television Title)
Rick Martel arrived in WCW at the start of 1998, and made an immediate impact, being put in the mix for the World Television Title. After failing to defeat Booker T for the gold at Souled Out, he scored a surprise victory on Monday Nitro after interference from Saturn. What was originally going to be Booker T and Saturn for the belt at Superbrawl VIII was changed to Martel/Booker, with Saturn getting a shot later in the night.
Booker is the clear favourite, with Martel now getting booed. Martel wants a handshake, but Booker slaps it away. Martel tries a sucker punch but is cut off and then launched with a back-bodydrop, before being clotheslined over the top rope. As Martel gets back in, Raven, Saturn and the rest of The Flock arrive and sit in their ringside seats. Tony comments on Martel being much more “aggressive than we’ve ever seen him,” although the former Model has barely had time for a cup of coffee in WCW, but it is true that he initially came in as a babyface, interestingly enough. Either way, Martel’s short-cut tactics are ended abruptly after a Harlem sidekick.
Booker keeps going back to the arm bar, and Martel fights out of it, tries an O’ Connor roll, but Booker kicks out and then kicks Martel’s head off again. At this point, things breakdown when Martel is hip-tossed out of the corner and lands awkwardly into the ropes and turnbuckle on the other side. He buys some time by pitching Booker out over the top rope but there is a visible problem. Nevertheless, Rick takes the fight to the floor and goes after the lower back.
In the ring again, Martel continues the offence on the back but misses a charge into the corner, and eats a side suplex. Booker misses the elbowdrop but we get a Spinaroonie (not yet named) and a big forearm to Martel’s pretty face. Despite that and the injury, Rick manages to deliver a powerslam, into a reverse chinlock. Book gets out of it but then gets put down with a spinebuster (shades of Arn Anderson). He then locks on the Quebec Crab but its too close to the ropes. Martel goes for a crossbody but Booker turns it into a pinning situation for a near fall, followed by a sloppy O’ Connor roll which Martel also kicks out of and then flattens Booker with a clothesline.
Book hits a big flying forearm to the face and the scissor kick, before trying a bodypress off the top rope but missed. Martel tried to follow up with an ax handle off the top but gets hit with a Harlem sidekick in mid-air and we have a new TV champion. ~ **1/2
There’s no time to celebrate, as Saturn immediately hit the ring and applied the Rings of Saturn on Booker T.
Match 2 – Booker T vs. Perry Saturn (WCW Television Title)
Referee Mickey Jay orders the hold be released as the match had not yet started, which was a great call. Saturn tries a series of quick pin attempts but to no avail. Booker T gets whipped hard into the guard rail, and then Saturn eats the steel, but comes right back with a flurry of blows. A mix-up on an Irish whip into the corner so they try it again, and the end result sees Booker hit a big slam.
Still, Saturn came right back with a blow that sent Booker out of the ring, and then hit a slingshot bodypress to the outside. He followed it up with a slingshot splash onto the thin matting. Back in the ring, Booker hits his big forearm shot as they run the ropes which sends Saturn into orbit, but misses with a maneuver into the corner. Saturn gets a two count and then hurts himself giving Booker a belly-to-back suplex off the turnbuckles. Heenan makes the observation that if Booker loses, he would have the record for the shortest reign with the TV Title. Very good call. Tony continues by saying it would be the shortest reign “in our sport,” which is not so true.
Saturn tried another move off the top turnbuckle but Booker blocked the superplex and gets front suplexed himself, before being burned with a missile dropkick. Book knocks Saturn down again with a Harlem sidekick and then shot him into the ropes for a clothesline but Saturn counters into a full nelson with the possibility of a suplex but Booker blocks it, only to get turned into a T-bone Taz.. I mean, suplex. Another standing ten count, there’s been a few but its been a physical bout.
Saturn hits a belly-to-belly for another two count. Saturn stops a backdrop attempt and puts Booker down with a springboard moonsault, Ultimo Dragon style, whoop whoop. Booker gets whipped into the corner and tries a springboard bodypress off the top turnbuckle but its a little messy. Schiavone and Heenan have their first spat for the night as Tenay announces the grim news that Martel has suffered a knee ligament tear from the earlier bout. Big collision as both men run the ropes and each try a flying forearm for another double down.
Saturn misses a move into the corner and Booker goes through the repertoire – spinebuster, scissor kick and side suplex, but misses the Harlem Hangover off the top rope. Saturn reverts again to the Taz playbook with a series of suplexes but cant get the three. Book escapes from a belly-to-back and hits another Harlem sidekick for the win. ~ ***
Match 3 – Disco Inferno vs. La Parka
Tony makes a great call as Disco comes to the ring after La Parka’s entrance, that imagine everything going on in the war between WCW and the nWo, and these two guys are having a rivalry over dance steps. Couldn’t agree more. La Parka has his trusty steel chair (not sure if he had been named Chairman of WCW yet) and he flings it at Disco before the bell. Disco came back from that and they try something out of the corner but its a bit of a miscommunication, before Parka shoots Disco into the ropes and takes him down with a nice powerslam, before mocking Inferno’s dancing (for the first of many times).
Disco didn’t appreciate it and hits a powerslam of his own. Tony says they have a clear view of the backstage area and every time he sees security running around, he wonders if there’s something happening in the locker rooms. Only the third match in and already the inmates are running the asylum apparently. This would be a bit of a theme during this match as the commentators remind us about the big main event, or something with Savage and Lex Luger, which is a shame, because as we watch on, this isn’t a bad match.
Parka hits a short-arm clothesline and a spinning heel kick which causes Disco to seek refuge on the outside. It doesn’t work out so well, as Park connects with a twisty thing (or, corkscrew plancha, thanks Mike) over the top rope to the floor, as Heenan is too busy talking about how much Hogan needs the title to keep stability in the nWo. Parka reverses a reversal to send Disco crashing into the guardrail, and then cut him down with a running lariat. As Parka drops Disco chest first over the guardrail, Heenan is surprised La Parka isn’t doing more flying over the top rope with his “salto moons” to create a bit of mirth in the commentary booth.
Park hits a slam but doesn’t hit the top rope splash and gets pitched out of the ring, where Disco goes through the exact same sequence of moves Park gave him a few moments ago. Back in the ring, Parka lays in some stiff kicks to the ribcage and around the head like he’s Kawada on a debt collecting mission. As Parka slows down the pace with a rear chinlock, Tony talks to Mike – who grew up in Southern California – about what the lucha scene was like back in the day, so we get a brief conversation about some of the luchadores who appeared in Northern and Southern California, which was neat. Fittingly, in the midst of that chat, Park tries a Mahistral (sp?) cradle for two.
Park misses a flying nothing into the turnbuckles and eats a running back elbow, but moments later delivers a kick into Disco’s face where you hear an audible sound, but no obvious ‘thigh slap’ like you see all the time in today’s wrestling (grumble, grumble). Disco crashes to the outside and favours the right knee, which causes some concern from the commentators having already seen one blown knee on this PPV, but he appears to be okay. “Better hold the meat wagon before they send Martel off” – classic Brain. Park doesn’t help matters with a suicide dive (or tope suicida). (Funnily enough, the ring attire of Parka is torn at the knee at this point).
Disco counters multiple attempts by Parka to charge into the corner, and then flattens him with a clothesline for two. Heenan calls for the Chart Buster (Disco’s finisher, which is a Stunner basically) but instead hits another one of his staples – the swinging neckbreaker. Inferno does more Austin-like stomp kicks into the corner and flicks referee Scott Dickinson in the eye on accident. Parka flattened Disco and went for the chair, which instead of just hitting him with it, props him up on the chair and tries a top rope move. Dickinson has turned around, and Tony covers for him unsuccessfully saying that “there’s nothing he [Dickinson] can do because nobody has hit anyone with the chair,” as Disco and Parka battle on the turnbuckles. (This brought me back to Summerslam 1989 and the classic exchange between Tony and Jesse Ventura).
Park gets crotched on the top turnbuckle and then Disco goes for a superplex, which is blocked. They continue to jockey for position until Disco throws him off and Parka connects face first into the chair. Dickinson finally removes it in time for Heenan’s favourite move The Chart Buster to be applied for the victory. ~ **1/2
Mean Gene Okerlund conducts an interview with commissioner James J. Dillon in relation to the reinstatement of referee Nick Patrick. Patrick had been under a cloud after his horrendously fair count at Starrcade 1997 during the Sting/Hogan match. Now finally, Dillon can confirm after bringing out Nick Patrick, that as of now, he is reinstated. Patrick jumps for joy and even hugs and kisses JJ and Mean Gene, saying how well he will do officiating the main event. JJ bursts his bubble by saying that he is not going to referee the main, and walks to the back. “What about my back pay?” Patrick exclaims and promises that “this isn’t over.”
Match 4 – Brad Armstrong vs. ???
This next bout is a special ‘unadvertised’ contest, and Brad Armstrong is the first announced with his amazing theme music which I’ll link here. He’s also wearing a shirt that says ‘Armstrong Curse,’ which appears homemade (this is a reference to Brad’s long losing streak in the company, which also extended to his brothers Scott and Steve). Can Brad get back on top in this rare appearance on pay-per-view? No, because his opponent is Bill Goldberg.
Goldberg opens up with a half nelson leg trip from the initial lock-up. Brad is stunned but tries some strikes to no effect. Goldberg lands a couple of knee lifts and then does his leg grapevine submission which doesn’t look great, and Brad makes it to the ropes. Ironically, this is when Heenan says in all sincerity and is really a great compliment nonetheless, that he’s so impressed with Goldberg he would go back into managing. Brad then gets gorilla pressed and slammed down hard to a big pop, and moments later is put down again with a nice belly-to-belly.
Brad throws some more strikes and momentarily stuns Goldberg with a thumb to the eye, and hits his patented Russian legsweep. He turns away to celebrate which is ill-advised, as Goldberg is already up and launches Brad with a pump-handle throwaway suplex, before hitting the spear and Jackhammer for an easy win. Sadly, the Armstrong curse continues. ~ *1/2
Match 5 – Chris Jericho vs. Juventud Guerrera (Mask vs. Title) (WCW Cruiserweight Title)
Tony and Mike in particular talk up the importance of the mask to Juventud, and without the mask his career may be done. Jericho is at the beginning of his heel run, having turned at Souled Out in January. He starts the match wearing the title and pays for it shortly after a spin kick from Juvi to the stomach (which actually misses the belt but, we know what they meant). Finally Jericho hands the belt to referee Mickey Jay and then eats a spinning heel kick to the face. Iron Mike continues to discuss the importance of the mask, which makes him the perfect guy to commentate this match.
Juvi takes down Jericho with a headscissors takedown and a springboard spinning heel kick. Off the apron, Juvi sends Jericho crashing to the mats outside with a springboard headscissors. Jericho is floored with a chop and seems intent on just laying down and taking the count out loss until Juvi works out what’s happening and gets him back in the ring.
The champion gets in some strikes and tries a belly-to-back suplex but Juvi lands on his feet. He tries another headscissors but gets dropped across the top rope. Jericho follows it up with his spingboard dropkick, sending Juvi off the apron to the floor. Jericho tries to use the ring steps as a springboard but Guerrera sends him into the guardrail. (There’s certainly been a lot of outside-the-ring action on this show). However back in the ring, another springy move results in Jericho catching him and hitting a tombstone. After an Irish whip into a back elbow, Jericho does his new heel pin attempt, putting the foot on the chest and posing.
Tony and the team pontificate again about what may happen later with Savage and Luger, who have a no disqualification match, but have been having some private discussions. Is this like Roddy Piper and Virgil having lunch together right before Virg’ ‘saw the light’ and left Dibiase? See our Royal Rumble 1991 review and/or podcast for more information. Meanwhile, there’s a match going on and Jericho is trying to win it with a backbreaker submission hold, which for some reason he releases after a while thinking he’s won.
Juvi gets set up on the top turnbuckle but pushes Jericho down to the mat. He tries another headscissors but is caught and dropped hard in an electric chair drop. But he takes too much time trying for a top rope move and gets dropkicked by Juvi down to the arena floor. Jericho tries to walk it off but gets levelled by a springboard Air Juvi. In the ring, Jericho looks finished after a Juvi Driver and the 450 Splash and referee Mickey Jay does count three, at the same time Jericho gets his hand on the bottom rope.
The bell rings and Juvi thinks he’s won, but as he remonstrates with the referee, he gets chop blocked from behind. Still, Juvi almost rolls up Jericho for a close near fall, and a second time after a DDT. Juvi tried a top rope frankensteiner but is pushed off, and then recovers to catch Jericho with an inverted atomic drop. Another springboard headscissors for two, series of pinning attempts and then Jericho gets a reverse suplex, but misses the Lionsault. An attempt at the Liontamer is also countered into a pin but Jericho escapes. However, another attempt at a headscissors is countered into the Liontamer for the submission.
Jericho cuts a boorish promo thanking his Jerichoholics and taunts Juventud to take off his mask. Heenan wonders if it may be Okerlund under the hood. Juvi says “I love you” to his family as he undoes the mask, but its taking too long and Jericho swipes it away. The fans seem to sympathise with the young luchadore, and caps off a very good and emotional match. ~ ***1/2
Match 6 – The British Bulldog vs. Steve McMichael
This match came about because McMichael had a problem with Bulldog from the moment he arrived in WCW, for reasons I’m not sure were fully explained, just, didn’t like him I suppose. Tony is still egging on a fight breaking out in the locker room involving Randy Savage, which wouldn’t have endeared him to Head of Security ‘Donuts’ Dillinger. Mike also gives the final word on what happened previously with Juventud, again putting over the importance of the mask.
Mongo rushed in from the opening bell and got taken down with a drop toe-hold. He comes back soon after though after reversing an Irish whip, kicks the gut and hits a tilt-a-whirl slam. Pick up and a slam but McMichael misses the legdrop. Davey gets Mongo in a Sharpshooter but he makes it to the ropes after a while. Action goes to the outside – AGAIN – and Mongo hits a weak ax-handle off the apron. His stomps aren’t too bad, but everything else may not have cracked an egg.
Heenan remarks that Mongo is taking his dog for a walk as he leads Bulldog to the guardrail and introduces it to him a couple of times. He then runs Davey shoulder first into the steps and puts him up against the ring-post. He goes to hit Bulldog but missed and appeared to hit the post very hard. Apparently, Mongo suffered a legitimate broken arm in this match, and that was probably where it took place. If so, I will give extra consideration for the toughness shown here, as Davey does not shy away at all from working on the afflicted area. After using the steps and guardrail, Bulldog rolls Mongo back in.
Despite working with one arm, Mongo flips Bulldog upside down into the buckles with an Irish whip and then waits on him to get up. He tries the football three point stance but his wrist gives out, so he uses the other side of his body to upend Bulldog a couple of times. He then signals for the Tombstone but cant get him up. Bulldog takes him down into a Fujiwara armbar and after a time, the referee calls for the bell. Mongo complains about having not given up and shoves the official, brushes off the doctor and makes his way to the back. ~ *1/2
Match 7 – Diamond Dallas Page vs. Chris Benoit (WCW United States Title)
Some history is given as Benoit comes to the ring, as these two have had issues with Raven. Some chain wrestling to start, each working on the arm until its back to square one. Another good exchange and Benoit takes down Page with an arm drag off the ropes. Page resorts to forearms and elbows and after running Benoit hard chest first into the buckles, muscles him up and drops him torso first across his knee. Benoit blocks a suplex and hits a front suplex of his own, dropping Page across the top rope.
Page blocks a suplex, and then Benoit tries to get him into a Crossface, but Page makes it to the bottom rope. Mike claims that Page had a tape made up of the best of Benoit to prepare for this bout. Page gets the best of a test of strength, and a series of pinning attempts ensue before Benoit hits the first big chop of the match. Page again runs Benoit’s chest into the buckles before dropping him with a belly-to-back. He then signals for the Diamond Cutter but Benoit escaped.
The sportsmanship between the two babyfaces break down and the two make their way to Pier 6. They get caught up in the corner and as the referee tries to separate them, Benoit sucker punches DDP over the official’s shoulder. After an exchange Page scored with a wheelbarrow suplex for a two, but Benoit then takes him down with a dropkick to the knee, followed by a short-arm clothesline. Benoit grounds him with a wear down hold but with the fans in his corner, Page hits a jaw breaker for a big pop, as it looks a little like a Cutter.
Benoit gets the wear down hold back on DDP though, which he gets out of and then momentarily is put in a sleeper. After getting out of that, Benoit applies it again, and DDP backs him up against the ropes and deposits him over the top to the outside. Technically, it should have been a disqualification, as WCW still have the over-the-top-rope rule in play, but this isn’t the time, and Charles Robinson forgets he saw it. Benoit tries a move off the top but gets crotched and then superplexed as both men are spent.
Back up, and there’s an exchange of blows which Page gets the better of and floors Benoit with the spinny clothesline (or Tornado clothesline as called by Iron Mike). Signs for the Diamond Cutter but instead goes for a pin for two. Benoit tries to pitch DDP out of the ring, but he holds onto the middle rope, clambers up to the top rope and hits a clothesline for another two. Out of nowhere, Benoit goes for the Crossface but Page is too close to the ropes. Third chest first Irish whip into a suplex for another near fall for Page. Benoit comes back with a trio of German suplexes into a bridge for a very close near fall, the best of the match, so close that some fans boo Charles Robinson.
As Heenan brings up Nick Patrick, Page hits a leaping DDT out of an Irish whip and both men are out of it. Page just manages to drape an arm over for two. Third time lucky for the Diamond Cutter but Benoit catches the arms and they battle in a backslide. Benoit flips over and then gets caught with the Cutter for three. ~ ****
We shoot to the commentators where Tony discusses The Giant’s neck injury, which occurred at Souled Out during a match with Kevin Nash, as the result of a botched Jacknife. Tony says that due to a bad flight connection, The Giant will NOT be here at the PPV to discuss the incident. Instead, he will be at Nitro in the Arco Arena. Bobby cuts in and says, he doesn’t want to “talk to you two” (Tony and Mike), he wants to see a fight ie. Savage and Luger and then Hogan and Sting. He wants to cut to the Savage/Luger match, but Tony tells him we have to air this video package, another ominous sounding black-and-white video of The Giant putting down nWo members with the chokeslam, before himself being taken out with the powerbomb. Prior to the PPV, the powerbomb was now banned, and anyone doing one will get fined 50k.
Match 8 – Lex Luger vs. Randy Savage (No Disqualification)
Randy comes out first with Miss Elizabeth. He paces around, expecting someone to sneak out and attack him. Bobby Heenan calls him the most dangerous man of any sport. When he’s satisfied nobody is hiding to ambush him, he signals Liz to lead the way to the ring. Slight production error as they play the start of the Steiner’s music before Lex walks out with heavy bandaging around the ribs ala DDP, who is also in the midst of the eternal rib injury gimmick. Bobby smartly points out that the bandaging will be like a red rag to a bull, and Savage will target it. Nice camera shot of Lodi in the background with a sign saying “Benoit We Knew You’d Lose!”
Randy runs in for a quick start but Luger decks him. He goes for the gorilla press but the ribs give out. Heenan wonders if Luger is going to have any hope of using the Torture Rack. Savage naturally kicks and stomps the ribs and throws him over the top rope to the floor (how many times has a match gone to the floor on this PPV?!) Observations are made again about Savage’s pacing back and forth, clearly not able to focus completely on the match, and the attack on him by the nWo on Nitro is referenced.
Back in the ring, Savage continues to work over the ribs. He goes for a slam, but Luger gets him in a small package for two, but Savage is right back on him. Lex gets shot to the outside and there’s brawling all around the ringside area by Savage, as Luger can’t get out of first gear with any offense. Repeated shots in the guardrail, fighting in the front row and back again. Luger blocks a shot in the rail for the briefest of respites, but all Savage has to do is one shot to the ribs and Luger is in trouble.
Back in the ring again, Savage fires some more punches and hits a suplex, but Luger popped right back up. Luger hits a powerslam and signals for the Torture Rack, which elicits some boos. Luger gets Savage up, but Liz rakes Luger’s eyes to a big pop. The nWo hit the ring and Savage and Luger together fight them off as the bell rings. A no contest in a no disqualification match? No, it was an over enthusiastic bell ringer (perhaps one of the Ding Dongs?). Luger cinches on the Rack, at which point Hollywood Hogan comes down the aisle and tells his men to leave. “Im glad he (Savage) got beat, I’m glad he got beat,” Hogan roars. With the director showing us Hogan and the nWo, the replay has to show us that Savage submitted. This is an abrupt match and more of an angle, as presumably Savage is out of the nWo. ~ *1/2
Speaking of matches that are more like angles…
Match 9 – The Steiner Brothers vs. The Outsiders (WCW World Tag Team Title)
Tony talks about The Steiners being unified and this being a bad time for the Outsiders to wrestle them. Indeed, there had been dissension over Scott’s attitude change, hot dogging more and monopolising the ring time. Mike talks up The Steiners as well, so what could possibly go wrong? The Outsiders come out first with manager Dusty Rhodes, which is jarring to see. Hall first does the survey, and when he asks how many came to see WCW, it gets the biggest boo of the night. When asked if they came to see the nWo, it gets a big pop. Bischoff probably saw this as a win, but, is it really a good thing that fans boo the company and cheer the supposed heels? I remember a time when it got the reverse effect, which made a lot more sense. But, nWo are “cool” as the kids say.
Sidebar: This match is for the “unified” Tag Team titles. There are indeed two sets of belts; one set carried by The Steiner’s manager Ted Dibiase, and another set around each of the Steiner’s waists. Tenay discussed the history between the two teams, how The Steiners would beat The Outsiders, only to fall victim to politics (such as at Souled Out 1997), but they got a victory over them two weeks ago on Nitro and got to keep the titles. My memory is fuzzy and it was perhaps explained on Nitro, but it would appear The Outsiders had another set of belts and called themselves the champions.
Anyway, the champs come to the ring, with Dibiase in front, Rick in the middle and Scott walking behind. Rick slaps people’s hands, but Scott just ignores them, and shows off his biceps a couple of times. Heenan notes when they get in the ring that Dibiase tried to talk strategy, but Scott walked away. Tony shrugs this off as Brain being pedantic.
Rick kicks it off with Hall. Hall throws the toothpick in his face, and gets decked. Rick dropped him again with a Steinerline and a belly-to-belly suplex. Rick hits repeated corner punches. “He’ll [Scott Hall] have so many knots, he won’t be able to wear a hat for a year,” quipped Heenan. Then Rick rocks Hall with a tremendous overhead belly-to-belly release suplex. Nash comes in and gets Steinerlined for his trouble out of the ring. They then do their signature pose of Rick barking like a dog and going on all fours between Scott’s legs. After a few seconds of this, Scott lowers the boom on his own brother and leaves him to the wolves after giving Rick a double under-hook suplex. Dibiase gets leveled by Scott and Dusty runs him into the ringpost (some payback from Royal Rumble 1991, perhaps?)
Still, Rick kicks out of the pin attempt. The Outsiders rain punches in the corner but Rick fights out of it. Hall reverses a whip into the ropes, and with the referee distracted by Scott, Nash clobbers him from behind, right into an Outsider’s Edge. Well, almost. Hall puts him down and tries it again for the win. Scott hands over all the belts and deposits referee Scott Dickinson to the outside, before celebrating as the newest nWo member. Even Heenan sounds disgusted with the whole thing. ~ *
Match 10 – Sting vs. “Hollywood” Hogan (WCW World Heavyweight Title)
After a quick advert for the next PPV Uncensored, it’s main event time. Just like the issue over the Tag Team titles over who were the real champions, we’re going to decide once and for all who is going to be the real World Heavyweight champion. It’s a big deal, because WCW have paid Michael Buffer to be the ring announcer. So we get long, drawn out intros for both competitors, with Hogan out first. Tony comments as difficult as it is, we need to move on from what just happened with Scott Steiner, because this match is for all the marbles.
A somber Sting – possibly upset about the Steiners break up – walks out before breaking into a sprint and slides into the ring, where Hogan is waiting for him, and whips him with the weightlifting belt. It’s amazing how Sting could routinely beat up the entire nWo week after week on Nitro but Hogan has no issues again in the early goings, just like at Starrcade. Hogan repeatedly growls “I’m the man” as he chokes down Sting, and later uses Sting’s own coat as a weapon.
Outside the ring, Hogan continues to rag doll Sting with punches, chops and using the guardrail. Hogan applies a test of strength in the ring, again berating Sting. Finally, Sting shows signs of life, but a boot to the gut puts an end to it. A trademark Hogan clothesline into the corner gets a two count. He hits a slam and repeated elbowdrops and then turns around to showboat, but Sting is up. The crowd comes alive as Sting goes on the attack with a series of blows and hits an inverted atomic drop. Sting gets Hogan’s belt and whips him until he powders to the outside. Hogan tries to walk to the back but Sting catches him and chokes him with the belt.
After momentarily ending up in the front row, Hogan moves out of the way of a Stinger splash into the guardrail, and uses a chair across the back. In the ring however, Sting scores with the Stinger splash and applied the Scorpion Deathlock, but it’s too close to the ropes. Sting goes for another Stinger splash but accidentally levels referee Charles Robinson. Hogan hits a clothesline and legdrop as none other than Nick Patrick makes his way down, but Sting kicks out at two! Hogan is astonished and even says “it’s me” to the former nWo referee, but Patrick is calling it down the middle.
Hogan hits repeated closed fists until Patrick actually pulls Hogan’s hair to get him to stop, and even threatens to disqualify him, sending Hogan into a tizzy. Patrick tells him he’s going to have to follow the rules this time. Hulk hits a suplex and makes multiple pinning attempts but cant keep Sting down. Out of that we get another test of strength, which Hogan again gains the advantage, before applying a rear chinlock. Sting gets pitched out once more and eats some blows until coming back with a shot into the guardrail.
Back in, and Hogan hits a low blow. Nick may have been out of position, but he highly speculates what happened and gives a warning. Tony and Bobby on commentary just dismiss it, even though its not a no disqualification match, because that’s what desperate men do and this is the night for it. After repeated blows, Sting no sells and, well, Sting’s up on Hogan. After two Stinger splashes, he goes for the Scorpion Deathdrop, but on the way down, Hogan kicks Nick Patrick and he’s hurt.
The nWo hit the ring but Sting fends them off. Meanwhile, Savage hits Hogan with a spray can. Sting makes the cover, Patrick is there now and we got a new undisputed World Heavyweight champion! Sting spray-paints the letters “WCW” on the torso of Hollywood and James J Dillon hands Sting the World Title. ~ **
The Verdict: Superbrawl VIII is a tale of two parts; the first half is mostly good, but it falls away in the second stanza. DDP and Benoit in the second portion takes the Roadshow match of the night as they have a very good match, as does Jericho and Juvi, with the added drama of the mask stipulation. This angle and storyline does a lot for Jericho, who only turned heel at the previous PPV. The TV Title bouts are an example of professionals working on the fly; Martel’s knee injury was legitimate, and he would be out for several months. Sadly, Martel would have another match, where he would get injured again – ironically against Booker’s brother Stevie Ray – and be forced to retire. Booker was apparently not even scheduled to win the TV title, but an audible was called. Heck, even Disco and La Parka is not egregious.
But as we get to the second portion, it starts to fall away (with the exception of the aforementioned DDP/Benoit bout), although some consideration has been given as two of these were mostly angles which actually went somewhere. Savage and Luger was unsatisfying to say the least, marred by nWo involvement. The tag title match between The Steiners and The Outsiders gave us a heel Scott Steiner, and how many memorable – for lack of a better term – promos have we heard from Big Poppa Pump since? Scott came into his own as a heel and it worked, so I’ll give that a pass. Mongo suffered a legitimate injury as well, but I can’t imagine that really making much of a difference.
The main event again is another major letdown. Just like at Starrcade, Sting is not presented here as someone who is on Hogan’s level. Hogan has much of the offense – just like at Starrcade – and we get multiple ref bumps and more nWo run-in’s. Savage gives Hogan a receipt for earlier by costing him but again, Sting does not look like he deserves to be champion. You cannot present someone as strong as they did with Sting on Nitro week after week destroying an entire faction but then struggle to gain any kind of momentum in a singles, even if it is Hulk Hogan. Another dropped ball in this on-going saga around the World Title and Hogan’s creative control card. ~ ***