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WCW Nitro: March 3, 1997

A screaming TONY SCHIAVONE can’t help but let us know that Monday Nitro is LIIIIIIIVE and ON THE AIR – while VCR tracking lines and general distortion remind me that it was live A MILLION YEARS AGO.


We’re on home turf in Atlanta, Georgia – the hottest ticket in the land announces Big Tone. But, before we get into the fact he’s joined by LARRY ZBYSZKO, we need to cut to the back because…


HOLLYWOOD HOGAN has emerged from a stretch hummer! And he’s joined by a few of his hundred closest friends, not limited to ELIZABETHKEVIN NASHSYXXTED DIBIASEMR. WALLSTREETVINCENTSCOTT HALLRANDY SAVAGENICK PATRICK, and ERIC BISCHOFF. Behind it, a limo arrives with … DR. HARVEY SCHILLER. “He’s WAY above Bischoff” says Larry Z, powdering his nose a nice corporate brown. Schiller is legitimately one of the highest-ranking officials inside the Turner corporate structure, as the President of the entire Turner Sports operation. There ain’t much bigger on the food chain, and I’d venture a guess that backstage shenanigans aren’t afoot tonight.

KONAN and HUGH MORRUS (0-0-0) vs. JEFF JARRETT and MONGO MCMICHAEL (with Debra McMichael and Haliburton) (0-1-0)

Tony reminds us that Jarrett and Mongo are the only healthy members of the Horsemen that can actually wrestle right now, proving that nobody watches Worldwide, including Tony himself, who called a Benoit/Anderson tag-team match JUST LAST NIGHT. Jarrett starts with Morrus, and the Horsemen take turns teeing off on the big man to an absolutely rabid crowd. You know, I personally wouldn’t be a disciple to the idea of sending out Mongo or Konan to fire up a crowd, but Atlanta’s completely smitten with WCW at this point. Morrus takes out Jarrett, and does a hilarious version of the Fargo strut to a MONSTER pop. Konan takes Jarrett hostage and Morrus goes to finish with No Laughing Matter, but Jarrett kicks Konan in the nuts and saves his bacon as Morrus hits his buddy with a top rope cross body. Mongo tags in, and the place freakin’ explodes as he starts in with the 3-Point Stance on both guys! It’s looking like the end, but keen-eyed camera men have spotted THE PUBLIC ENEMY trying to steal the Haliburton from Debra. Jarrett leaps off the apron to get into a tug-o-war over the suitcase, and Jarrett wins … walloping his buddy in the face who’s come over to see what’s going on. Konan dives on top, and scores the upset win at 3:16. ** just for the crowd.

ARN ANDERSON and RIC FLAIR hit the ring, followed closely by “MEAN” GENE OKERLUND. Mongo’s got a nasty gash on his forehead, and Anderson is incensed – demanding answers from Jarrett who he KNOWS “is not that clumsy!” Jarrett tells him not to start instigating, and asks for Ric to back him up. Flair isn’t having it, because he’s tired of Jeff making him look bad. “We gave you a chair – sit in it, quit falling off it!” Debra defends Jarrett, saying it was clearly a mistake, and she needs everyone to pull together because she refuses to be part of a losing team. Why Arn hasn’t just given him a spinebuster and stomped Jarrett to death is beyond me.

DIAMOND DALLAS PAGE (8-1-0) vs. RICK FULLER (0-2-0)

Page is given a heroes’ welcome, returning from the epic beat-down last week that saw him taken out in an ambulance. If the WWE ever wanted to get Roman Reigns over for good (or really, anyone they’ve decided is the next big thing), then this is the template to follow, because there is no way this man should have ever been a top-level fan favorite. At this point, there’s no turning back, because his discus punch nearly causes the crowd to spontaneously combust. The Diamond Cutter sends them into an orgasmic state at 2:11. 1/2*

“MEAN” GENE OKERLUND wants to relive the beating DDP took last week, primarily at the hands of Randy Savage. DDP has a quick message for Mach: “If you’re that much of a Savage … snap into THIS!” – queue up the Diamond Cutter.

RAY MENDOZA JR. (0-2-0) vs. JUVENTUD GUERRERA (1-4-0)

Mendoza, clearly having his finger on the pulse of what that fans want from their Cruiserweights, goes to mat based chain wrestling. Why does Mendoza wear “IV” on his tights anyway? I mean, it makes sense when Villano 4 does it – but Mendoza has no direct ties to him. Certainly he didn’t steal his tights just because they’re the same height, weight, build, and tone, did he? Is he working as a pharmaceutical sales rep, distributing saline hydration bags? The announcers do not spend any time discussing it, which is simply sloppy journalism. Mike Tenay would have never let this mystery slide. Juvi comes back with an ultra fast rana, and hits a baseball slide to Mendoza on the floor. Juvi tries something else, but Mendoza yanks him by the legs, slamming him face first into the apron – triggering memories of Regal/Mysterio last month. Back in, Mendoza tries a suplex, but it’s spun around and snapped into a neckbreaker instead. A springboard guillotine is on point, but Mendoza kicks out at 2. Juvi starts in on the chops, but Mendoza no sells, so Juvi hits a Frankensteiner and hangs on … for 2! Mendoza comes back, and the boys battle to the top corner buckle, trading blocked suplex attempts until Juvi just crotches his opponent. The Firebird Splash ends matters at 4:06. Mendoza has no business anywhere near WCW’s Cruiserweight division. *1/2

JIMMY HARTKEVIN SULLIVAN, and JACQUELINE decide to take over the announce booth for some reason. You know, why the hell not? The nWo proved the announcers are a bunch of easily intimidated slugs, you may as well. They’re here to brag about Sullivan’s dominance over Benoit at Superbrawl, and show off Jimmy’s disgusting new jacket – a personal valentine to Jackie and Kevin that reads “Too Legit to Quit”. For the love of god, it’s been like a year, can we settle this already?


MIKE ENOS (1-4-0) vs. DEAN MALENKO (9-3-2)

The announcers spend the entirety of the entrances justifying why they ran away during the last segment, and once they take some real time to explain it … they come away looking like even bigger pansies than ever before. It’s because, and I swear I am not making this up, freakin’ Jacqueline is the toughest person, male or female on the entire roster, and Tony wants NO part of that. “THIS LADY IS TOUGH!” cowers Schiavone. Enos surprises Malenko with a surprise attack as he goes through the ropes … and that’s pretty much all he gets, because Malenko’s no longer the Iceman, he’s Mr. Intensity! Enos is choked out repeatedly, with Malenko breaking at 4. You should only get a cumulative-5 count for the match, it would save a whole lot of scumbaggery. With Enos sufficiently brain dead, Malenko starts to work over the knee, cumulating with a particularly nasty kick while Enos has his leg draped over the guard rail. Back in, Malenko goes for the kill, but because Enos is BIG, he throws Deano with a belly to belly overhead … and his knee collapses from the move. Malenko latches on a grapevine like a swamp leech on Wil Wheaton’s plums, but Enos makes the ropes. A crossbody off the top sees Enos roll through for a surprise 2-count. He follows with a short arm lariat, but Enos then trips over himself because his leg is shot, and Malenko goes back to kicking the crap out of him. The referee forces a break, which causes Malenko to get in his grill, and Enos scoops up the small man during the hysteria. Of course, given he can’t put any weight on it, Malenko calmly hooks forward into a small package and scores the win at 4:29. *1/2

Dean grabs the microphone, and you can hear the world let out an audible groan. Dean reminds us he’s a great technician, but if there’s one thing he’ll excel at, it’s beating Eddie Guerrero. Honest to god, why is he allowed to speak 3-times a week? Couldn’t we give some of that time to, oh I don’t know … say “Lord” Steven Regal and ask him what the latest word on Fit Finlay’s unsolved disappearance is?

“MEAN” GENE OKERLUND is joined by ERIC BISCHOFF because RAW is about to start. Bischoff extends his thanks to Lex Luger, and is happy to put the nWo title belts against all of WCW – and given he’s the most powerful man in the company who is single-handled responsible for the most destructive force in the world, he demands the fans show him the respect he deserves. Cheers erupt, but it’s because DR. HARVEY SCHILLER has appeared. Bischoff is all smiles and greets his boss. Schiller asks Eric if he really believes he has unlimited power, and Bischoff is quick to point out that based on his contract that he’s the Executive Vice President, so yeah. Schiller asks if he really believes he can arbitrarily fire referees and strip titles at will? Eric gets a little defiant, and tells him absolutely. Schiller, in turn, is more than happy to suspend him. This means no financial transactions, no power, no phone calls, and quite frankly, he doesn’t even want to know he’s been in the men’s room at a WCW event. Schiller walks off with a desperately pleading Bischoff hot on his tail. Dr. Schiller’s an interesting cat – I’ve doled out a few dozen suspensions in my time, but I can’t remember ever doing it in front of the entire staff (and customer base), nor can I recall ending the meeting by not escorting the person out of the building myself. I gotta get me a job in ‘Murica – it looks like a whole lot more fun!

THE ULTIMATE DRAGON (with Sonny Onoo) (10-2-0) vs. EDDIE GUERRERO (10-3-2) (for the WCW United States title)

Sonny shows himself to be the real millennium man, by stopping on the ramp to take selfies with himself and the Dragon! Of course, he’s using a disposable Fuji film camera – but he’s still a good 15 years ahead of his time. You may recall that Dragon suffered his second loss of the calendar year on WCW Pro over the weekend, in a match where he tried to steal Glacier’s Super Helmet. Alert WCW historian Dr. Unlikely was quick to recall this wouldn’t be the last time:

Here we see Sonny Onoo trying to get his hands on the helmet, and just two years later, he’d be brokering a deal to get his charge, Kaz Hayashi, to buy the helmet for $25,000. Again we see, there is nothing you can possess, which Sonny Onoo cannot take away.

Say what you will about WCW, but this incredible attention to detail is the kind of intricate booking that’s sorely lacking on today’s programming. Dragon changes gears tonight, looking to claim the US title so he can cover up some of his nekkid spots that were previously taken care of by the giant collection of belts he is no longer in possession of. Guerrero leads the fans in a “USA” because he has no pride. Dragon strikes first, hitting a vicious Frankensteiner, followed by glaring at the entire world. Eddie comes back with a rana, but Dragon sends Guerrero packing to the floor, where Onoo is waiting with an onslaught of kicks. That just serves to piss Eddie right the hell off, but he stays focused on the match and opts not to chase Sonny around the ring. Back in, Dragon hits his martial arts kicks which drops Eddie, and he then follows with a myriad of punts to the kidney which HAS to smart. A spinning heel kick sets up a crossbody, but Eddie rolls through, hooks the ropes, and scores an illegal pin at 2:50. Dragon wuz robbed! *

“MEAN” GENE OKERLUND wants a word with the champ. Eddie says he’s a man of pure intentions, and he’s tried to apologize to Malenko, but it’s clear it’s not accepted. DEAN MALENKO storms the ring, because you can never have too much Dean Malenko. Malenko won’t stand by while Eddie gives the fans a … EXCUSE ME? Oh – he said Snow Job. The alternative would have been quite the undertaking. And they yell.

MIKE TENAY and BOBBY HEENAN join Tony in the booth while Larry fades into Bolivian. Tenay is all smiles because Bischoff is out. Bobby suggests if you want to see Eric in person, just head on over to the unemployment line tomorrow. I … don’t think that’s how a suspension works, Weasel.

MR. WALLSTREET (2-2-0) vs. SCOTTY RIGGS (5-1-0)

You know you’ve got the world by the short and curlys when Scotty Riggs gets a substantial pop. Still heartbroken from the loss of his one-and-only Marcus Bagwell, tonight he works towards finding new hope – by getting down with Marcus’ new best friend, Michael Wallstreet. Tenay tells us that Bagwell is tearing up “The Orient” with Masa Chono, and won’t be with us for awhile; and to be honest, I’m cool with that. Wallstreet dominates the early going, which means the match moves at a snail’s pace between moves. After dropping a leg for 2, Wallstreet moves to his signature move: the rear chinlock. Riggs fights to his feet and breaks loose with an Ace Crusher, but he can’t follow up and winds up eating turnbuckle moments later. Wallstreet sets him up for a superplex, but Riggs nails a missile dropkick and follows with a top rope sunset flip for 2. With the action heating up, the fans stand up to pay attention to the entrance because … HEY – Mike Tenay lied, MARCUS BAGWELL hits the ring for the DQ at 4:30. If I can’t trust Mike Tenay, I have nothing.

Meanwhile, WCW “claims” LEE MARSHALL is on the road for 1-800-COLLECT, in Panama City to hype next week’s show at Club La Vila – but given what I just learned about Buff Bagwell’s whereabouts, I’d venture a guess to say he’s actually snuck into La Parka’s dressing room here in Atlanta. Marshall tells us that the good people of Panana City have banned Bobby Heenan’s thong, since it’s “too much Weasel and not enough material”.


RODDY PIPER heads out to a thunderous ovation, the first time we’ve seen him since Randy Savage inexplicably joined the nWo after months of Hogan torturing him passed the breaking point of insanity. Piper starts off by reminding us he’s put Hogan to sleep twice now, and the only reason he’s not the champion is because he got completely blindsided by Savage’s turn. He won’t be speaking Gaelic tonight (thank Christ) – but instead declares full scale war against the New World Order. He recognizes he might need a little help, so with the help from the fans, he’s going to call on some potential guys.

SOME GUY comes to the ring to face Piper, and is locked in a chicken wing and taps in less than a minute. The fans boo him out of the building, and … that’s a wrap.


Next up, we’ve got … SOME GUY – but thankfully I recognize this one. Yes, it’s Roman’s brother, the much more useless LUTHER REIGNS. He comes out with some surprisingly good power stuff, but Piper slips behind him and puts him to sleep in under a minute again. He gets a bit of a better response, but the consensus still boos him to death.


Up next, we have SOME GUY who looks about as generic as generic gets.


Thankfully, he’s stopped by SOME HAIRY GUY with Seth Rogan’s hair and body type. This one wants a boxing match, and Piper’s game, because he just so happens to have a pair of gloves stuff down his shorts. Don’t judge; who amongst us doesn’t carry our sports equipment on our junk? Big Hairy hangs in there with Roddy, and even decides to try to apply a grapevine for some reason. Piper decks him with some quality hooks and the guy just keeps on coming – making this guy clearly one of the freaks that he wants the fans to rally behind but they’re having none of it. Piper declares a draw, but the fans give him the thumbs down despite Piper trying like hell to keep him in the game. Piper gets on the mic, begging the fans to vote for this guy, and then starts the brawl again. Tony: “We’ve never seen anything like this in the history of our sport!” Eventually, this stops.


Our segment continues – because here comes SOME GUY! I kept trying to place him, because he looks like one of those big uglys that WCW loves to push on the D-shows, but it turns out that he’s just kick boxer that Piper knew. Like the boxer, Piper clearly wants this guy to get over, and gives him a fair bit of offense – but his pants won’t stay up and the big guy spends every 8 seconds hiking them up. His selling is atrocious, doing this fake-ass head shake on Piper’s punches, and he nearly kills Roddy on a gorilla slam that he has no idea how to perform. Piper decides he wants him on the team, while the fans continue to boo this out of the building. And remember – these are people who were hot for Jeff Jarrett and Hugh Morrus in the opening segment!


Finally, we’re joined by SOME GUY. Ok, to be fair, this one is JOHN TENTA, and the fans are happy to see him because at least they KNOW him. Tenta no-sells an eye-poke, and he goes for a chokeslam before SOME GUY #4 and SOME GUY #5 save the day. Piper breaks up the melee, and declares the rain in Spain has fallen – and this is his family.


I mean … holy shit. This got nearly 20 minutes of air-time! A collective crew of 5 unknown wrestlers, and John Tenta who we haven’t seen since he was wrestling Carson City Silver Dollar on a Pole matches against Big Bubber are going to main event the next pay-per-view against the nWo. I can’t decide if WCW’s arrogance has reached the point where they actually believe they can put ANYONE on pay-per-view and break 1.0, if Piper has so much control over his own booking he decided to get his friends a nice pay-day, or a combination of both. Either way, as a multi-million-dollar touring company, this is beyond unacceptable. It’s insulting to the fans in the arena, the fans at home paying money, and … well pretty much everyone except Vince McMahon. While Souled Out was a pitiful display, I could understand that WCW genuinely believed the nWo might be able to exist as its own entity and at least make the attempt. This, on the other hand, is the moment where I can see the cracks really starting to develop – where it became clear that Bischoff was enjoying sucking his own kneecaps so much, he decided to see how it might feel to shove his head up his own ass. You want the start of the downward trajectory? This is it, right here. Slow, inoffensive in the short-run, but a sign of what’s to come.

MR. JL (1-8-0) vs. REY MYSTERIO JR. (8-3-2)

JL is coming off his biggest (and only!) win of the year, beating Billy Kidman on Pro! But, don’t get too invested because …

PRINCE IAUKEA wants to weigh in! See, he grew up on “The Island”, and never did he believe he’d be TV Champion. And, now that he is, Rey Mysterio deserves another shot at the title. Wait, what? How does him growing up on The Island have anything to do with that? This company has far too many microphones – let’s keep them away from anyone currently in contention for the TV title except for Steven Regal, shall we?

Meanwhile … oh who cares, WCW doesn’t, so neither do I. West Coast Pop wins it at 4:05.

Up on the ramp, MADUSA, looking incredible tonight, is with “MEAN” GENE OKERLUND. She reminds us that she trashed a world class title to come to WCW, and she can’t even got on TV because Bischoff is more invested in himself than anyone else. She wants the shot at Akira Hokuto’s belt – but before we can expand on that, she’s attacked by LUNA VACHON up out of the blue. Well heck, there’s a surprising addition to the roster. Nothing will come from it, because WCW has no idea how to book women, but it’s a nice thought.

After the break, we’re joined by THE NEW WORLD ORDER, including Bischoff (who is not doing himself any favors with the boss by being here), and shockingly, STING. Bischoff starts off by telling Schiller that he can’t be fired because he and Hogan are friends with “Ted”. Hogan tells the Doctor that he’s out of his league, just like Roddy Piper and the other guys “suckin’ wind”. Savage says Piper’s got mental problems, which got a laugh out of me. Sting stays in the corner, silent and unmoving the entire time, but still with the nWo.

THE STEINER BROTHERS (5-0-1) vs. LEX LUGER and THE GIANT (1-0-0)

Tony declares the Steiners’ “great shape” as the reason they bounced back so quickly from their car-flipping accident a few weeks ago. I guess it’s taboo to suggest an out of control Perc addiction got them back so quickly – but at least it would be more believable. Rick takes the fight to Luger in the early going, but that just fires Lex up, and he runs over Steiner with a clothesline. Rick comes back with a powerslam, and Scotty tosses him with a nasty belly to belly suplex. A double underhook Steinerbomb somehow doesn’t leave Luger crippled – and he manages to tag out to the Giant. A big boot levels Scott, and an elbow drop gets 2. Rick blindly tags in, and hits a top rope sledge behind Giant’s back, before both guys work to suplex the big man together! All 4 guys get in each other’s faces, just as THE NWO make their way through the crowd. Everyone stops dead to watch – before challenging the entire nWo to a fight together. They get backed by RODDY PIPER and THE FAMILY, and the fans are electric, desperately wanting the nWo to get creamed in what is finally looking like a fair fight. The fans break into a “WE WANT STING”, collectively praying together that he’ll come to his senses and save WCW. Of course, just as the nWo hits the ring … WE ARE OUT OF TIME!

What an electric ending! After nearly a year of build-up, and now standing with near unlimited power, we’re reaching the point where WCW needs to start clawing back some of its power. Whether that comes from Sting finally showing he’s on WCW’s side once and for all and challenging for the belt, or DDP dropping the big guns, or even Lex Luger being anointed WCW’s favorite son and saving the world, the fans are absolutely ready for some positivity and to have the nWo show a little ass for a change. The iron is hot … now’s the time to strike.