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The SmarK Rant for the Monday Night Wars–01.13.97

The SmarK 24/7 Rant for The Monday Night War – January 13 1997

(Holy cow, the battle for the PPV redo is TIGHT, with the winner coming via the narrowest of margins.  Tune in tomorrow morning to see who wins!) 

WCW MONDAY NITRO!

– Live from New Orleans, LA.  (This was actually a notable show for business reasons, as it was the first Nitro to top 10,000 in attendance and did the biggest gate in WCW history in New Orleans.) 

– Giant immediately charges into the nWo dressing room, calling Hogan a “four-legged feline”. Well, that’s just hurtful. Apparently Hogan is backing out of the title match at Souled Out. If only they had backed out of the whole PPV.

The Mysterious Mr. JL v. Chavo Guerrero.

JL takes Chavo down to start, and Chavo responds in kind. Criss-cross and Chavo takes him down with a headscissors and dumps him, following with a pescado. Back in, Chavo goes up and gets dropkicked down and out, and JL hits him with a high cross to the floor. I love how the announcers are just totally ignoring the match and going on about Giant v. Hogan. I literally don’t think they’ve said a word about the match. Back in, they slug it out and Chavo gets a forearm for two and goes up. JL brings him down with a rana for two. Kick in the corner, but Chavo fires back with a butt-butt and goes up, hitting a moonsault press to finish.

(Chavo Guerrero d. JL, moonsault — pin, 4:16, **) Just background noise for the announcers. This meant nothing for Chavo, who wouldn’t even approach a push until a year after this.

(I’m constantly astonished doing these old shows at how LONG Jerry Lynn stuck around WCW.  I normally just think of him as dropping in as Mr. JL in 1995 and then leaving, but he was there for close to two years!) 

– Hacksaw Duggan comes out, waving a WCW flag instead of the US flag. I’m sure WCW paid someone hundreds of thousands of dollars to design that flag. Duggan wants Sting to stop being a sissy boy and choose a side.

Hacksaw Jim Duggan v. Super Calo.

No match, as Duggan’s comments towards Sting in the interview bring out Sting for a Scorpion Death Drop. Larry immediately concludes that Sting is nWo based off this. Tony asks us instead to consider a possible pattern to Sting’s victims: Jeff Jarrett, Rick Steiner and Jim Duggan. Hey, yeah, they’re all fucking awful!

Sgt. Craig Pittman v. Chris Jericho

Tony notes that it’s the debut of The New Adventures of Robin Hood after this show, which gives me a sinking feeling in my stomach. It’s not THAT show, is it? Pittman dumps Jericho but gets dropkicked and pinned.

(Chris Jericho d. Craig Pittman, missile dropkick — pin, 0:57, DUD) Whatever.

High Voltage v. Harlem Heat

Larry notes that Sting must be nWo because, even though everyone hates Jim Duggan and feels sorry for him because he’s so stupid, he’d at least knock him out from the FRONT and not from behind like Sting did. Now there’s logic. It’s more accurate to say that Larry would probably stall for 7 minutes until he dropped dead of boredom. Booker pounds on Kaos, but gets slammed. Rage slingshots in, but we cut back to the nWo dressing room, where the Giant is ANGRY. Now he’s calling Hogan a MONKEY. The labyrinthine plot continues unfolding, as Bischoff and Hogan reveal that Giant never signed a contract for the title shot, so he doesn’t get one. It’s like a David Mamet play, but without all the potty mouth. Anyway, back to the thrilling match, as Booker sideslams Rage and misses a kneedrop off the middle rope. Kaos comes in with a suplex for two, and it’s breaking loose in Tulsa! Booker dropkicks Kaos off of Stevie’s shoulders for the win.

(Harlem Heat d. High Voltage, Booker Heatseeker — pin Kaos, 4:07, *) Most of the match was Giant yelling at the nWo.

– Bischoff, Dibiase and Vincent give Tony and Larry the boot, which can only be an improvement. Larry gets a funny shot in at Bischoff, telling him that he’ll be mowing Verne Gagne’s lawn again if he’s not careful.  (Talk about the pot calling the kettle black with regards to coasting off Verne’s money.) 

Diamond Dallas Page v. Mark Starr

DDP grabs a headlock to start as Bischoff declares him a member of the nWo, done deal. Neckbreaker, but Starr slugs back, only to fall victim to the Diamond Cutter.

(DDP d. Mark Starr, Diamond Cutter — pin, 0:54, DUD) This is just a backdrop for the big angle.

– The Outsiders head down to the ring to formally welcome DDP to the nWo, as he dons the shirt, hugs Nash, and then turns on them with Diamond Cutters to begin the biggest push of his career.  (I undersold that one a tad, as this was a HUGE turn and had everyone online going nuts when it happened.) 

Dean Malenko v. Eddie Guerrero

Oh my god, the WCW Executive Committee has made a decision about Hogan v. Giant, and they’re going to be here to make an announcement… NEXT! What exactly do they do when they’re not doing that sort of thing, I wonder? Because it’s not like these shows ever have announced main events unless someone throws out a challenge. I should note that it’s also typical of WCW that even their FAKE figureheads are faceless committees entangled with legal mumbo-jumbo. I guess this is a US title match, although it’s not like it matters. Eddie takes Dean down with an armbar to start and grabs a headlock, but Dean reverses to a surfboard. But never mind that, because Tony has the decision from the Executive Committee: Hulk Hogan will have to defend the World title against The Giant, TONIGHT. Wow, that sounds like it’s totally going to happen! Oh, and don’t forget, tonight is also the debut of the New Adventures of Robin Hood, although I’m sure that won’t mean anything. Anyway, Dean dumps Eddie, but he comes back in for a leglock. Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve just been handed a decision from the WCW Executive Mullet Committee: There’s business in the front, and a party in the back! Eddie gets a figure-four, but Dean makes the ropes and takes a breather outside. Back in, Dean hammers Eddie down with elbows and they trade monkey-flips, but Eddie gets a backbreaker for two. The announcers have no interest in calling this match. Not that it’s a great match or anything, but still. Eddie goes for a tornado DDT, but Dean shoves him off and takes him down with a knee before going into an abdominal stretch. Syxx is making his usual faces on a ladder over by the ramp, while Dean and Eddie slug it out in the corner. Pinfall reversal sequence and Eddie gets a backslide for two. Dean blocks a hiptoss for two. Short clothesline gets two. Well, really, all of Dean’s clotheslines were short. Eddie gets the rana for two. Blind charge misses and Dean goes up, but gets caught. They reverse into a Malenko brainbuster, but the mullet shields Eddie’s head and Dean only gets two. Another one is reversed by Eddie into a rollup for two. Suplex and Eddie goes up, but gets distracted by Syxx and Dean powerbombs him.

(Dean Malenko d. Eddie Guerrero, powerbomb — pin, 12:17, ***1/4) It was looking dull to start, but they fought through the suck and got a good match out of the Hogan-Giant hype session.

HOUR #2!

Super Calo v. Konnan

Konnan takes Calo down for two, but Calo bridges over for two. Gymnastic sequence goes nowhere and Calo dropkicks him out and follows with a suicide dive. Back in, Konnan clotheslines him and adds a powerbomb, then picks him up and gives him another one. Calo immediately no-sells it and comes back with a rana for two. Huh? Konnan stops cooperating and drops him on his head with the 187 to finish. Weird match.

(Konnan d. Super Calo, brainbuster — pin, 2:56, 1/2*) The finish was really weird, as Calo wanted to do a bulldog or something, and just bounced off Konnan instead. Could have been time issues, I guess, but I’d be pissed if I was Konnan and I had just powerbombed a guy twice to no effect.

– Kevin Sullivan cuts a promo on Chris Benoit, with chess pieces set up on a board for checkers, which I guess shows how limited his skills must be.

Chris Benoit v. Jeff Jarrett

Tony notes that the Hogan-Giant match will be non-title, because you have to give the champion 48 hours to prepare in a title scenario. What the FUCK are they talking about? Anyway, Jarrett gets the momentary advantage and struts, but of course we’re immediately distracted by Mongo and Arn joining us at ringside. Jarrett gets a suplex for two, but Benoit clotheslines him and throws knees. Jarrett comes back with a corner clothesline and chokes him out on the ropes for two. Rollup gets two. Neckbreaker and he goes for the figure-four, but Arn Anderson distracts him and Benoit comes back. Mongo takes a swing with the briefcase, but Debra stops him and he accidentally hits Benoit instead. Mongo managed to mess up that spot big-time, as it was obvious that Benoit was standing there waiting to get hit because Mongo took too long.

(Jeff Jarrett d. Chris Benoit, briefcase — pin, 3:31, 1/2*) Not one of their better efforts.

– Benoit calls out Mongo and tells him to quit fumbling the ball, noting that he was PICKED to be a Horseman and Mongo got there due to an unfortunate circumstance (ie, Pillman getting fired). Mongo apologizes, but Benoit is still pissed at him. Good promo from Benoit, but this whole Jarrett storyline was such a mess.

Billy Kidman v. Scotty Riggs

Oddly enough, both guys would end up as a part of the Flock, although obviously Kidman would fare better in the long run. It’s so sad that Riggs is still using the American Males music. It’s like Tito Santana using the Strike Force tights for like 3 years after Martel turned on him. Let it go, Scotty, let it go. Riggs gets some armdrags to start, but Kidman takes him down with a headscissors and grabs his own armbar. Kidman looks like a total jobber with his mushroom cut and long tights. Riggs faceplants him, but gets dropkicked as Mark Bagwell comes out in his new gimmick as Buff Bagwell. Kidman misses a 450 splash and Riggs finishes with a fisherman’s suplex, Bagwell’s former move. It’s like a gay TV drama or something.

(Scotty Riggs d. Billy Kidman, fisherman’s suplex — pin, 2:16, 1/2*) Just a squash as Riggs is practically saying “I love you, Buff Bagwell, come back to me!”  (These days Buff would probably answer “For $100 a night, I will!”) 

Lex Luger v. Rick Fuller

Uh, ya think this will be a squash, maybe? Fuller would later become a WCW Saturday Night favorite of online nerds. (Even wrestling fans need someone further down the totem pole to look down on, I guess.  Sorry, Rick Fuller fans.) Luger grabs a headlock, but gets overpowered and Fuller legdrops him for two. Fuller starts to work on the arm and throws chops in the corner, but Luger slugs back and gets his usual clotheslines to set up the rack. He’s seen a million faces, and he’s racked them all.  (Come on, that was GOLD.) 

(Lex Luger d. Rick Fuller, torture rack — submission, 2:56, 1/2*) Just a squash.

– The Giant joins us for an interview, and HE WANTS IT REAL BAD. He’s not a bookend anymore! The books are falling apart! He’s read all the books! He’s going to close the chapter! And burn down the library! And jack off on the porno magazines and then put them back on the shelf! Then delete the original word processing files! OK, I made up a couple of those book-related metaphors, I’ll admit it.

Rick Steiner v. Arn Anderson

A rare historical boo-boo from Mike Tenay, as he’s talking about the history between these guys and notes that Anderson & Eaton ended a long title reign by the Steiners in 1991. Actually, it was the other way around, as the Steiners ended a long reign by the Dangerous Alliance. They slug it out to start and Steiner gets a belly to belly, which puts Arn on the floor. Tony notes that if we run out of time tonight, we’ll continue to get coverage during Robin Hood’s commercial breaks. But that wouldn’t happen, would it? Anyway, this match continues to suck, as Steiner clotheslines Arn to the floor. Arn walks out and gets counted out.

(Rick Steiner d. Arn Anderson, countout, 2:56, DUD) Hardly even a match.

Hollywood Hogan v. The Giant

Tony notes that we only have 5 minutes left in the show, all of which is eaten up by entrances, so now we have to watch Robin Hood and get updates “live” during the commercial breaks. Giant drags him into the ring to break up a promo as Tony tells us to stay tuned during the breaks. Which is exactly what happened, if I recall correctly: People changed channels and only came back during the breaks. Thankfully, they just show the whole match in one shot here. Hogan bails and Giant drags him back in for some chops, and clotheslines him. Hogan does his goofy selling and they do the test of strength, which Hogan loses. Another Robin Hood break and we return with Giant tossing Hogan into the ring and slamming him, but Hogan escapes the chokeslam. And the nWo runs in for the DQ.

(The Giant d. Hulk Hogan, outside interference — DQ, 4:05, DUD) This was supposed to be a “45 minute” match, “live” during the show, but the actual match ran less than 5. An absolutely ridiculous marketing ploy that was a total failure and thankfully was never tried again.

WWF Monday Night RAW!

Taped from somewhere not mentioned.

– Your hosts are Vince Mac-Man and The Honky Tonk Man.

Hunter Hearst Helmsley & Jerry Lawler v. Goldust & Marc Mero

Yes, the King teams with the King of Kings. Big brawl to start and the heels bail, as we start the match proper with Lawler and Mero. Mero backdrops him and Lawler runs to the corner. They trade shots and Lawler loses that battle, then takes a shot from HHH as a result of miscommunication. The heels regroup and it’s another brawl, but Mero keeps telling Goldust to back off. HHH pounds on Mero in the corner and brings in Goldust, but Hunter bails and brings Lawler back in. Honky Tonk Man tries to make OJ Simpson references on commentary and Vince actually asks him not to, which is the first time I’ve heard Vince avoiding the dated references. The heels keep backing off as Mero headlocks Lawler, but gets caught in the corner and double-teamed. Lawler gets a suplex, but Mero brings in Goldust and he gets double-teamed as well. What a boring match. Back over to Mero, but Lawler gives it over to HHH again, who tosses Mero. The heels pound him on the floor as Lawler uses the imaginary foreign object, and we take a break. Back with Hunter pounding away on Mero in the corner, but Mero gets a flying headscissors. Hot tag Goldust and he pounds on HHH, clotheslining him and slugging away again. Goldust punches him into the ropes and chokes him out, and it’s a DQ.

(Jerry Lawler & HHH d. Goldust & Marc Mero, choking — DQ, 11:25, *1/2) Total trainwreck, as they couldn’t get on the same page and get the match in gear.

– Meanwhile, at the Alamodome, Sid quotes Nietzsche and cuts a promo against Shawn Michaels.

– Shawn responds from San Antonio, noting that he delivers better than the US Postal Service. Although in all fairness, they don’t work Sundays.  (So weird how Shawn was playing smart-ass heel against Bret Hart in some segments, and then turning around and acting like a complete babyface for the Sid segments.) 

The British Bulldog v. Rocky Maivia

Bulldog grabs an armbar to start, but gets taken down by Rocky, who then follows up with a headlock. He gets his goofy armdrags while Bret Hart puts him over as the future of wrestling on commentary, showing how smart he really is, I guess. I mean, seriously, who would have ever guessed back then? Bulldog knocks him down with a shoulderblock, but Rocky pops up and dumps him, so Bulldog takes a walk and gets advice from Clarence Mason. Back in, Rocky goes back to work on the arm as Owen Hart joins us at ringside while Bulldog dumps Rocky. Bret and Owen have words at the commentary table and we take a break. Back with Rocky getting a sunset flip for two, but Bulldog clotheslines him. Bulldog hits the chinlock and there’s some really interesting stuff going on at ringside, as Bret has a very conflicted conversation with Vince about his relationship with Owen. This would all lead up to some really big things in the weeks to come. Bulldog, meanwhile, drops Rocky with a suplex and goes back to the chinlock. They collide and Rocky comes back and slugs Bulldog down, then takes him out with a Cactus clothesline. Brawl on the floor and Rocky meets the railing, but Steve Austin appears out of thin air and clips the Bulldog in an awesome spot. Owen chases him back to the dressing room and Rocky beats the count in.

(Rocky Maivia d. British Bulldog, 9:08, countout, *1/2) Really dull match with a bad finish. The Austin storyline continues, however.

The Undertaker v. Crush

A funny gaffe here, as they cut away to the live shot of Shawn in San Antonio, where Rocky Maivia has magically transported during this “live” show to pop in. Whoops. Undertaker attacks everyone on the way to the ring and gets caught from behind by Crush, but comes back with a DDT. Taker slams him and follows with a legdrop. Ropewalk, but Faarooq trips him up and Taker comes down the hard way, but recovers long enough to dump Crush. Crush necksnaps him from the outside and pounds away in the corner, but UT comes out with a clothesline. Crush catches him with a piledriver and they head outside, where Crush drops him on the railing. We take a break and return with Crush holding the chinlock and getting a backbreaker. He goes up and misses a fistdrop and Taker tries the tombstone, but Crush reverses to a belly to belly. Crush wants the heart punch, but Taker chokeslams him and it’s the nWo…er…NOD run-in to finish.

(Undertaker d. Crush, run-in — DQ, 8:40, *) Hey, we’re 3-for-3 with shitty non-finishes tonight! That must be a record or something.

Next week: Royal Rumble fallout!

Overall: Although Nitro was stupid and irritating and awful, at least it was memorable and had clean finishes in some of the matches. Can’t say that for RAW, which was a chore to sit through and featured absolutely nothing of note. Give the win to Nitro this week.