New E-Book: KB’s Complete 1997 Monday Night Raw Reviews

As 1996 came to a close, it was clear that WCW was in command of the Monday Night Wars. While Monday Nitro was running away with the battles, Monday Night Raw was the same show that we had been seeing for years. It was clear that something needed to change but it wasn’t clear what. The solution would wind up being everything over the course of the year.

In this book, I’ll be looking at every episode of Monday Night Raw in 1997. This was the year where things started to change. From Bret Hart turning his back on the fans to Rocky Maivia becoming the Rock to the Undertaker having a brother and dead parents to Steve Austin showing he had staying power to Mankind having three personalities, 1997 saw Monday Night Raw go from its roots to a modern show in a hurry. As usual I’ll be providing play by play, context and analysis of every show.

The books runs over 400 pages on a Kindle and only costs $3.99, or the equivalent in other currencies. If you don’t have a Kindle or e-book reader, there are several FREE apps you can use to read it on pretty much any electronic device. You can find those from Amazon here.

You can pick up the book from Amazon here.

From the UK Amazon here.

From the Canadian Amazon here.

Or if you’re in another country with its own Amazon page, just search “KB Raw 1997” and my book will be the first thing that pop up.

Also you can still get any of my previous books on the WWE Championship, Monday Night Raw from 1998 and 2001, Monday Nitro from 1995-June 1998, In Your House, Summerslam, Starrcade, ECW Pay Per Views, Royal Rumble, Saturday Night’s Main Event, the WWF and WCW pay per views from 1998, Clash of the Champions and the first year of NXT’s Full Sail Years at my Amazon author’s page here.

I hope you like it and shoot me any questions you might have.

Thomas Hall

ECW CyberSlam: February 22, 1997

ECW online nerds collide in their annual geekfest! ECW Cyberslam is actually what the modern day Axxess is (albeit on a much smaller scale). Starting with Double Tables in 1995, the February event became the yearly chance for rspw regulars to meet up, mingle with the wrestlers, attend a Q&A, and watch a little wrasslin’. CRZ and others who actually attended some of these events can provide a lot more background and context than I can do justice – but the long and the short is that this was geared entirely towards your online crowd.
There’s little chance they’ll be able to top Brian Pillman’s “smart marks” debut from last year – but being ECW, lord only knows what they’re got in store.
This is actually the second night of a two night event – and this was the one commercially released. My copy is absolutely ass, but we make do with what we got.
JOEY STYLES graces us, all by his lonesome as usual.

THE ELIMINATORS vs. SABU and ROB VAN DAM (in a tables and ladders match for the ECW world tag-team titles)
 Saturn sucks up to the locals, reminding them he plays for them, team ECW! At least until WCW makes him a bigger money offer, then he’s outta here. Slow going off the bell, as RVD and Saturn feel each other out a bit. RVD hits the first blow with a dropkick, but Saturn ties him up in a headscissors. Kronus enters and nails Sabu with a Rock Bottom for 2. Sabu tries a half crab, but Saturn flies in off the top with a boot to the face to break it up. Both guys hit spinning heel kicks on opposite sides of Sabu, getting 2. Van Dam quickly tags in as Sabu locks on a camel clutch, allowing RVD to dropkick Saturn in the face. Saturn crotches RVD on the top rope, and hits a springboard crossbody, careening them both to the floor. Everyone starts fighting over a ladder on the floor, and they’ve spilled all over the place. If it seems to you, the reader, that it’s literally “one team hits one move then the other team hits a move”, that’s EXACTLY what’s happening, and it’s aggravating me – despite the fact the crowd is positively rabid for every bit of it. Both teams brawl all over the arena for awhile, but little happens, and the action returns to the ring. Sabu throws a chair in the face of Saturn, setting up the triple jump moonsault – but he hurt his ribs and can’t go for the pin. RVD enters, and eats a brainbuster from Saturn for 2. Sabu grabs the ladder, and slams Saturn on it, allowing both guys the chance to tee off with sentons and legdrops, getting a 2 count. Saturn stands up and hits a spin kick – because selling has no place in this match. RVD is whipped into the ladder, where Kronus crushes him with the handspring back elbow for 2. The Eliminators toss the ladder into the awaiting arms of RVD and Sabu, and dropkick it back into the both of them. Saturn finds a smaller ladder outside the ring, and tosses it at the skull of RVD. That’s sold for approximately no seconds, before Saturn gets locked in a surfboard while Sabu dives off the top with a stomp to Saturn’s ribs in mid-air. An Arabian facebuster with the ladder gets 2. RVD nails a double underhook front suplex, and slams the ladder on Saturn, getting another 2. And after that kind of excruciating beating, Saturn clotheslines both guys and tags in Kronus. Stereo superkicks drop Sabu, and a senton from Kronus gets 2. A lovely Juvi Driver gets 2 from Saturn, and moments later Saturn’s dumped into the front row where Sabu’s able to hit a springboard assault over the guardrail. RVD comes off the guardrail with a moonsault on Kronus, while Saturn is already recovered and hitting a Frankensteiner on Sabu for 2. Saturn sets up the smaller ladder and splashes Van Dam off the top, but Sabu’s right there to break up the party. Kronus is placed on a table outside the ring, and Sabu nails a senton bomb through it. Meanwhile, RVD is hitting a split legged moonsault on Saturn, through a ladder, a move with such dire implications that it factors in this match in no way. Sabu hits Saturn with the whisper in the wind, but Total Elimination comes out of nowhere on Van Dam twice to score the pin at 20:42. Holy hell, I hate *both* these teams. They’re both loaded with an amazing array of gorgeous tag-team manoeuvres, but none of them can stop themselves from sucking each other off long enough to ask “how can we make this look realistic?” They’re fully capable of a 5 star match, even under hardcore rules – but they’re so far up their own asses that the tunnel vision has blinded them from remembering there’s an art to professional wrestling. I’m sick to death of Harlem Heat, but I’d rather watch them execute the same bland match time and again than continue to watch these teams flush their potential down the toilet for the sake of getting their stupid spots in. *1/2
Post-match, Sabu agrees to shake the hands to both guys, but Van Dam isn’t interested; a throwback to the lack of respect RVD showed Sabu early on, resulting in their feud (and subsequent friendship when Van Dam learned a little class). Sabu berates him for being a dick, and the fans shower him with “ASSHOLE” chants, but RVD’s having none of it, walking off.
JOEY STYLES riles everyone up with a PITBULLS appearance. #1 wants Douglas to stop behaving like Shawn Michaels and actually face his maker. Oh no he didn’t! SHANE DOUGLAS and FRANCINE show up at the top of the ramp, and Douglas tells the lot of them to kiss his ass. “I don’t give a fuck about Monday Night RAW, I don’t give a fuck about ECW, what I give a shit is you Gary Wolfe, running your mouth.” Douglas demand he never be compared to a fucking asshole like Shawn Michaels, and if the Pitbulls want a piece, they can have at him right now.
Of course, the Pitbulls charge, where the TRIPLE THREAT is waiting in the shadows. Brian Lee puts #2 through a table, while Candido chokes out #1 with his own dog chain. The brains are not particularly functional for that pair, are they?
LITTLE GUIDO (with Tommy Rich) vs. CHRIS CHETTI
Rich talks about his history with the Mafia, and introduces the world to his new family – the Full Blooded Italians. After coining “do you smell what I’m cookin’” which fails to catch on, the crowd treats Rich to a “YOU SUCK DICK” chant. That one gets me every time. Guido bitch slaps Chetti, which starts a foot race around the ring, going nowhere. Back in, Chetti hits a rana for 2. A gutwrench gutbuster turns things back for Guido, and an elbow to the face gets 2. Chetti tries to fire back, but an eyerake stops that, and Guido dumps Chris into the awaiting arms of Rich. Chetti gets crotched across the guardrail to no surprise; Rich always loved to work the groin. Guido drops a knee for 2, and follows with a nasty powerbomb for 2. Chetti refuses to die, and it’s getting to Guido now, who shows a little frustration as he heads up. A kneedrop misses, and Chetti dives in with a cradle for the massive upset at 5:52! Rich was the one who’d coaxed Guido into using more top rope manoeuvres, and he’s not happy about it. The fans politely request “FUCK HIM UP GUIDO, FUCK HIM UP!” However, Rich reminds Guido they’re a pair of Full Blooded Italians and need each other. To the fans, “FUCK EVERY ONE OF YOU!” *
BALLS MAHONEY vs. BIG STEVIE COOL (with Da Blue Guy, Hollywood Nova, and 7-11)
Balls gets the fans going in a “BALLS” chant, which Stevie completely one-ups when he starts a “BWO” chant loud enough to break the sound barrier. Stevie plants Balls with a dropkick to the mush, and works an armbar. The fans break into “SHOW YOUR TITS”, which Meanie happily obliges. A fujiwara armbar doesn’t do a lot of good because Stevie can’t get a lot of leverage on the big man, and Balls is on his feet and pounding away on Richards seconds later. Richards ducks a clothesline and hits a crossbody to regain control, and he goes back to the armbar which is silly because it was completely unsuccessful the first time. Our second go is no better, but Richards keeps on Balls with an early rendition of the Stink Face. Balls has no use for THAT, and clotheslines Richards with enough force to send him into the next zip code. A spinning heel kick against the ropes sends Richards barrelling over the top, and Balls is fired up, warming up the band for god knows what reason since that isn’t his move. The bWo tries to snap Richards back into it, so Balls just picks Stevie up by the hair and gives him a Stunner across the top rope. A second rope elbowdrop leads to an arrogant cover, but Balls drops a leg before the ref can finish counting anyway. Richards throws a desperation kick, and follows with a dropkick off the second rope. That’s stopped dead with a Nut Cracker, and Stevie’s wails around with his plums in hand while Balls does the Memphis strut around the ring. A legdrop off the top looks to finish, but Stevie rolls out of the way, and the fans rally Richards back into it. Stone Cold Stunner (called as such by Styles) gets 2. That doesn’t keep Balls down for the long, and he hits a fallaway slam while doing Da Blue Guy’s “me me me” routine. Balls drops the straps as the fans scream “SHAVE YOUR TITS”, but his powerbomb fails as Stevie rolls off the back, and a field goal to the Mahoneys sets up the Stevie Kick and the win at 12:16. Richards bounces around like Shawn Michaels while a FEMALE ADMIRER hops the guardrail to dive at ECW’s boy-toy. She’s hauled off by security, while Richards leaves through the crowd, a hero, despite the awful match. He should probably be on top of the promotion right now, and the bWo milked for everything it’s worth while it’s sizzling. Given the revolving door of this place, they don’t have time to dick around with red hot gimmicks. *
AXL ROTTEN vs. SPIKE DUDLEY
Spike charges around the ring like a bull in a china shop, throwing his chair wildly at absolutely nothing. Axl, using his pea-brain to his advantage, crouches behind the stairs and clotheslines Spike’s head plum off – but he’s made of lego so he’ll be ok. The fans chant for Axl, while he parades around like the special needs cousin of the Bushwhackers, but a blind charge misses and Spike starts gnawing on his forehead. Rotten hit the floor, but Spike’s right behind him with a somersault plancha off the apron, and he rushes back in to hit a plancha off the top rope a few seconds later. They head back in as Spike goes to the well once too often, and he takes a clothesline on his way down. A bulldog is shoved off by Spike, and he quickly hits the Acid Drop! THE DUDLEY BOYS rush down and attack, and while Spike manages to fight them off, it gives Rotten time to recover and hit the Dominator for the pin at 4:29. What is this company’s affinity for useless fat guys? 1/2*
So the Dudleys beat Spike into a pulp, but a familiar beat comes over the house and takes us right into …
THE DUDLEY BOYS (with Big Dick Dudley) vs. DA GANGSTAS
Axl sticks around long enough to get bloodied up by New Jack, while Mustafa and Bubba square off in the ring. By the time we check back in on New Jack and D-Von a few seconds later, D-Von’s already squirting blood. I’m gonna save you and I a whole lot of time: Everyone swings weapons for awhile, and The Dudleys win with a Bubba Cutter on a diving New Jack at 14:22. This was nothing even close to resembling professional wrestling – and if we’re even going to compare it to some of the other hardcore templates from years gone by, this isn’t close. It doesn’t take a ring magician to make a hardcore match work; for god sakes Brian Knobbs and Jerry Sags have been involved in some absolutely phenomenal street fights. But I expect, if nothing else, for there to be some level of intensity, a little story-telling, and a real reason that both teams want to win. Much like the rest of this show, this match had *none* of that. It was just 4 guys swearing at each other and throwing things around between forehead gigging. I get the feeling the ECW crowd is gonna be calling for my head after this review, but this show sucks. DUD
TAZ (with Bill Alphonso) vs. TRACY SMOTHERS
Taz actually came back a few weeks ago, but I think this is the first time he’s been fully televised. Tracy’s making his ECW debut here, and I’m not thinking it’s going to go very well. A number of bitch slaps from Taz draws an irate Smothers into try and tackle him, but Taz is a wrestler’s wrestler, and he rides Tracy like a classy escort – with energy and vigor. A clothesline shakes Smothers to the core, but he manages to hit a crossbody for 2. An enzuigiri drops Taz for 2, and Smothers starts throwing elbows to the jaw of the little orange pitbull. The jaw jacker gets 2, and Styles is beside himself selling this one right now. Taz finally finds a base, and launches Smothers with a German suplex. T-bone sets up the Tazzmission, and Smothers taps immediately at 3:30. Unbelievably, in just 3 minutes, Taz has set the bar for match of the night. **
RAVEN and BRIAN LEE vs. TERRY FUNK and TOMMY DREAMER (with Beulah McGillicutty)
Lee is of course part of the current Triple Threat – so it’s a bit of an odd alliance with Raven when you consider that Douglas is likely to eventually set his sights on the World Title. He’d be better served to back Terry Funk, seeing as how he’s 104 years old and probably an easier mark than the psychotic Raven. Raven reminds Dreamer that they’ve known each other since they were 12, and Tommy’s never beaten him at anything. So tonight, he’s prepared to lay on his back and let Tommy pin him, no games, no tricks … if Tommy’s prepared to cost Terry Funk his title shot at the pay-per-view. “COME ON TOMMY, PIN ME! YOU’VE WAITED YOUR WHOLE LIFE FOR THIS! YOU DON’T HAVE THE BALLS DO YOU?” And with that, Dreamer dives at Raven and beats the shit out of him for being such a smarmy asshole. Funk tags in, and Raven sits up laughing. “Come on Tommy, why didn’t you pin me? You couldn’t hurt your mentor, could you? Bring on the old man!” Funk approaches … and Raven immediately tags out to Lee. Tommy heads back in, and takes a pounding from the Bulldozer. Once Dreamer’s down, Raven happily comes back in and drops a fist to Tommy’s babymaker. Dreamer, angrily, hits the Evenflow, but he goes for the pin … before realizing that’ll cost Funk, so he tags in Dreamer. Funk rushes as fast as he can, but Raven’s recovered enough to kick out. Lee heads back in, but Funk’s running on adrenaline, and he throws as many fists as he can. Lee wants out, but Raven won’t tag in so long as Funk’s in the ring. Dreamer comes in to double team Lee, and as soon as Funk returns to his corner, Raven comes in. All four guys spill out to the floor, and Funk grabs a hold of Raven, throwing those old calloused fists at Raven’s head. The quartet head into the front row, while Funk smacks Raven over the head repeatedly with a chair. Raven, dizzy, feels his way back into the ring, but Funk’s hot on his trail. Raven does the only thing he can – uppercuts Funk in the Double Cross Ranch, and happily starts talking trash again. “Is that all you’ve got old man?” He slams Terry’s face into the mat over and over, as the crimson mask from the earlier chair shots starts to develop some character on Raven’s face. Funk fights to his feet, throws a few punches, grabs the mic, and calls Raven a bitch. Terry starts to set Raven up to finish, kicking away at Raven’s leg, and as he collapses, Terry slaps on the Spinning Toe Hold. Raven screams he quits … but the referee is too busy trying to get Brian Lee to lay off Tommy Dreamer, who has been quietly kicking his ass from North to South Philly and all points in between during the entire Raven / Funk exchange. The ref comes back to check, but Lee’s right behind with a trash can to save the day – and because no one heard Raven submit, the match rolls on. Lee hits Funk over the head with the trash can a half dozen times, and every time Dreamer crawls to the apron, he’s met with a shot to the face courtesy Oscar The Grouch. Lee remains merciless, and neither guy can stand. Tommy begs Funk to give it up, as he’s bleeding and completely off balance. Funk shoves him away and calls him a son of a bitch for even suggesting he quit. MEDICAL STAFF hits the ring to haul Terry away, as Dreamer tries like hell to protect him. Wild eyed and confused, other than the fact he knows he’s in the middle of a fight, Dreamer is dragged to the gurney, swearing the entire way. They start to wheel him off, but Funk hops off and battles his way back to ringside, with Dreamer desperately trying to hold him back. “FUCK YOU, TOMMY!” Styles calls this officially the end of Terry Funk as he’s finally wheeled off backstage, while Raven and Lee pose in victory.
BIG STEVIE COOL storms down to the ring, with TYLER and LORI FULLINGTON right behind. Raven begs Richards for a Steviekick – and as Richards warms up the band, he’s goozled and given the Prime Time Slam from the man he was completely ignoring. A trash can over the head cements the message, so Lori comes in to ask what the hell is wrong with Raven? An Evenflow DDT is the quickest way to shut her up, but now Dreamer’s on his way back in. He makes a bee line for Raven, again missing the fact that Brian Lee’s in there too, and a Prime Time Slam takes him out again.
Tyler disappears backstage … re-emerging with THE SANDMAN of all people, who’s carrying his son on his shoulder. Sandman looks happy for the first time I can ever remember, with Tyler holding his Singapore Cane high in the air for everyone to see. Of course, he’s got a beer, and stops to chug it before doing anything else. Lee goes to stop him as he does everyone else, but Sandman smacks him with the cane to break the choke hold. Raven’s after him now, but a couple of shots from the cane, followed by the Evenflow … and Sandman gets the pin at 18:55?!? Sandman and Tyler re-unite, sharing a huge hug, and while it’s a little confusing, I’ll accept that maybe the Evenflow from Raven on his mom was enough to break the spell. Sandman throws Tyler’s bWo shirt away, and they head backstage together holding each other.
This is a hard match to rate, because from a story perspective, it was phenomenal. However, there were so many dead periods, and the match ended when someone not even involved somehow got a pinfall – so from a traditional wrestling standpoint it was completely and utterly ridiculous. Let’s go about halfsies and hit it ***, for a really entertaining 20 minutes.
CHRIS CANDIDO vs. SABU
 Yes, Sabu’s pulling double duty tonight – and Candido’s fired up for this one. He’s pissed that Sabu’s already looking past him, focusing on Taz and putting himself through a tables and ladders match on the same night he’s booked against Candido. “You can’t wrestle your way out of a paper bag, so get your ass out here!” Sabu goes for the camel clutch almost right away, but Candido wiggles away and flips him off. “FUCK HIM UP SABU, FUCK HIM UP!” Sabu obliges, knocking Candido to the floor and using a baseball slide dropkick to send him into the front row. A fan tosses Sabu a chair, and the triple jump leap into the front row … goes nowhere, as Candido rolls away and Sabu crashes into about 10 chairs. Candido heads back in, and with Sabu down, he’s able to hit a crossbody off the top, into the front row, with them rolling backwards into the chairs again. They head back in, and Candido drops Sabu with a spike piledriver. A second piledriver should do it, but Candido takes his sweet ass time because he wants to embarrass Sabu. Dude, haven’t you read wrestling tropes? That NEVER works! Still, he keeps the pressure on with a brainbuster off the second rope, and heads outside to grab himself a table. No, no, NO! That’s wrestling a Sabu match – big mistake kiddo. Sabu gets back to his feet and dumps Candido over the top, with nothing to break his fall. Sabu, of course, is right behind with a suicide dive, with both guys crashing into the steel barrier. Sabu grabs the table now, but Candido doesn’t want him to get to it first, and they wind up fighting over it. Sabu wins the exchange and lays Skip out – but he takes too much time to set up the legdrop inside the ring, and by the time he flies over the top, Candido’s moved and Sabu crashes though. Candido seems to have Sabu well scouted … just sit on the outside, wait for him to do something stupid, and roll away. I’m convinced I could beat this guy using that template. Back in, Candido works a headlock, and Sabu does an excellent job of selling the holds, looking like he’s in a world of pain as he gets stretched back and forth. Of course, he’s never gonna tap, so this is more to wear him down than anything else. Back to action, a swinging neckbreaker drops Sabu, and Candido wipes his hands of this before going for the pinfall, but it only gets 2. Having fun with this now, Candido grabs a microphone and asks the fans what they think of Mr. Hardcore now … before beating him down with the microphone, making a sweet “thud” with every impact. To the apron, Candido goes to knock Sabu to the floor, but Sabu grabs him and snap suplexes Chris all the way to the floor. Of course, Candido knows exactly what to do – hanging out by the guardrail until Sabu launches his body at him, at which point he sidesteps once more, and Sabu eats steel. Candido heads back in, but Sabu throws a chair in his face to set up Air Sabu into a rana for 2! Great sequence. Sabu tries a springboard back elbow, but Candido steps forward to catch him on his shoulder and drop back with the backdrop suplex. They fight to the top where Candido’s superplex is blocked by a faceplant, followed right behind with a somersault legdrop for 2! Sabu heads up once more, but Candido cuts him off and nails a super Frankensteiner for 2. Candido decides now to use Sabu’s own playbook against him, setting up the chair in the middle of the ring .. .but before he can even pick up a head of steam, Sabu’s already flying off the chair with a leg lariat. They battle back to the top, where Sabu launches Candido across the ring with a backdrop. The triple jump moonsault is blocked with the knees, and Candido hits a quick Doctor Bomb to keep Sabu down. The swandive is blocked with a chair to the face, and a triple jump legdrop scores the pin at 18:26. Chris tells him that he got beat at his own game, and “you’re a better fuckin’ wrestler without that bullshit”. He shakes Sabu’s hand, and they share a hug. I wait for the Triple Threat to kick Sabu’s ass, but it never comes.
Candido did a better job of keeping this together than the opener, so it was a little more fluid – but of course Sabu always means a spot-fest, so it went back and forth between a hard fought wrestling match, and a spot-for-spot match, depending on the segment. Sabu has a niche, but main eventer probably isn’t it. **1/2

This was the tale of two shows – as the first half was an absolute drag. The Raven show steals it, much as it did at last month’s Crossing The Line Again, and he’s become so adept at telling a story that he has to be one of the 5 best overall workers in North America at this point. ECW arena shows remain hit and miss, and this one was a miss. However, with Monday Night RAW and a PPV on the horizon, the sky remains the limit for these guys. Personally, I’d run Stevie against Raven at the pay-per-view, but it’s pretty clear at this point they’re setting Raven up for a showdown with Terry Funk. Given Terry’s connection to the ECW crowd, and his overall name recognition, that’s probably not the worst decision in their first run at a national pay-per-view audience. What’s nice here is that they have plenty of main event options, all of them interesting, which is far more than we can say about what’s happening with either of the Big Two companies at this point. How they’ll gel with the RAW roster is another story … and I can’t wait to see it play out.

WWF Shotgun Saturday Night: February 22, 1997

LIVE from the depths of Shawn Michaels’ ass-crack (hey, I found his smile!) – it’s Shotgun Saturday Night! Of course, we’re not actually live, because we scrapped this show’s format weeks ago. But … it’s Saturday night! Taped on some other night!
VINCE MCMAHON and JAMES E CORNETTE welcome us to Some Unclear Location in front of … well, a fairly big crowd all told.

THE BRITISH BULLDOG (1-2-0) vs. CRUSH (3-2-0) (with Clarence Mason)
Someone appears to have doodled a penis on Crush’s forehead.
Cornette takes offense to the crowd chanting “Jailbird” since the folks in attendance look like “they’ve spent a few nights slummin’ with the warden”. Yes – but were they tattooed with phallic scribbling? That’s the real key to knowing if you’ve truly been on the inside. PG-13A WELL DRESSED MAN, and D’LO BROWN head down to ringside to support Crush, which is a double cross of Clarence Mason’s clients – and before we can find out what happens, we take a commercial break.
OWEN HART and his Slammy have come down to even the odds, and in fact play peacemaker, shaking the hands of his good friend Clarence. Crush doesn’t need the help anyway, as a belly to belly suplex sets up the dreaded nerve hold of eternal damnation. A big boot only gets 2 – shocking considering the eternal damnation of that nerve hold he just felt. A backbreaker gets 2, but only because Crush took about 8 years to go for the pinfall after hitting the move. Gotta keep on top of your man – prison should have taught you that! The black power fist sets up an elbowdrop, but it misses and Bulldog hits a neckbreaker. A standing vertical suplex (6 seconds!) dizzies Crush, and Bulldog dumps him before throwing a cheap shot at a Nation member on the apron! Back to Crush, Bulldog suplexes him back in, but SAVIO VEGA hooks his leg, tripping him up, and Crush falls on top for the pin at 8:22. *1/2
Bulldog freaks out, and calls Clarence Mason back to the ring. “Whose side are you on? And whose side are YOU on?” – glaring at Owen on that second one. Bulldog fires Mason no fewer than 8 consecutive times, to really get his point across. Owen completely disagrees, but stays loyal to family.
TL HOPPER (0-1-0) vs. GOLDUST (2-4-0)
Marlena’s absent of course, still tending to injuries from the unnamed Amazon woman who shook her like a martini on Monday night. Hopper looks exceptionally confused by the concept of Goldust, and Cornette helps us out by pointing out “they don’t have things like Goldust down in Tennessee”. Of course, mind games aren’t expected to work here because “Hopper doesn’t even have the game pieces”. Cornette’s so on fire tonight he’d ignite Jake Roberts’ breath if he got too close. Goldust wins with the Curtain Call at 4:39. DUD
After recapping the entire saga of Monday Night’s attempt to run the title match between Bret and Sid, SYCHO SID hits the live arena to share what’s on his mind with KEVIN KELLY. Dear god yes, Kevin, please don’t miss a beat here! I need to know how he feels about all the hottest topics of 1997. Does he agree with Princess Diana’s stance to ban land mines? What do we make of the rise of Microsoft as the world’s most valuable company? Does he enjoy Savage Garden? Is Tony Blair truly the best the UK can do? Does the prosecution have a tighter case for OJ’s civil trial? Was he really at McDonalds with Kato at the time of the murders? Is the golfing world ready to accept Tiger Woods? Did he consider taking a bit part in the summer hit “The Full Monty”? Come on Kevin, don’t let me down. Unfortunately, Kevin Kelly is still Kevin Kelly, and he does the second best thing – just let Sid ramble about whatever he feels like. He circles the ring while screaming words that vaguely tie in “Undertaker” “Sid” and “I’m The Man”. Whatever the case, Sid doesn’t seem remotely concerned about his upcoming series with Taker – an unlikely candidate to ever shit his pants in the presence of the phenom.
THE HEADBANGERS (3-1-1) vs. THE GODWINNS (1-3-1) (with Hillbilly Jim and Cletus T Judd)
Jesus Christ, can we PLEASE stop running out this combination on every second edition of this show? When the main eventers aren’t in the house, this roster is *terrible*. Thankfully, we aren’t subjected to this, when two homosexual cowboys, allegedly “BARRY WINDHAM” and “JUSTIN HAWK BRADSHAW”, run in at 1:26. They beat the piss out of the swine farmers, and Vince calls for a commercial break.
THE HEADBANGERS (3-1-2) vs. THE NEW BLACKJACKS
Brokeback Mountain got themselves booked in place of the Godwinns, who’ve … simply vaporized, apparently? There were 4 of them, they just openly agreed to leave? Why aren’t more fans storming the ring during every Godwinn appearance then? We’d be rid of them in no time! Bradshaw is billed as the son of Blackjack Lanza, because apparently the truth (he’s his nephew) would simply kill his credibility. As stupid as Bradshawk looks, Windham looks positively ridiculous with the jet black hair and wispy moustache. I’m all for changing up your look; in fact, Bradshaw underwent one of the finest transformations of all time when he became JBL, but trading out your trademark blonde mop for a handful of shoe polish and a 70’s prison pussy probably isn’t the smartest of career moves. THE GODWINNS return to break this up at 2:17.

Paul Heyman’s phone call from RAW is replayed. Will ECW actually show up on RAW in the Manhattan Center? That’s the big question between now and then – and we’ll be headed over there after an exciting episode of Superstars, so hold on to your socks boys and girls, it’s gonna be a big one.

ECW Hardcore TV: February 22, 1997

It’s been awhile – but the last time we left off with Hardcore TV, we’d spent the last two weeks re-living memories from Crossing the Line Again. We’re now 3 weeks removed from that special event, and with Cyberslam happening later today, we should see some new footage and angle development.
Hiding out in an empty subway stairwell, RAVEN chats about his #1 obsession – My Little Pony. That’s right, he’s a full-fledged Brony. Of course I am kidding, his life is, was, and always will be Tommy Dreamer. Apparently Tommy believes that his time is now, but it will never ever be his time. Nor will it be for his mentor, 53-year old Terry Funk. “What infuriates me most of all, is that you’re so old you could be my father. And I hate my father! I’m gonna beat you and hit you like that bastard did to me. My father beat me Terry Funk, and I’m gonna beat you the same way.” After musing about all the psychological damage he’s done to the Sandman, he reflects on the lost Stevie Richards. He left, just like everyone else, wanting to be his own man. He offers Stevie one last chance to come back, and he’ll forgive all. This guy really needs a little time with Dr. Shelby.

JOEY STYLES can’t wait for Barely Legal in April, the promotion that’s all the talk of the Monday Night Wars. No immediate response to the WWF’s challenge on Monday, instead opting to take us through a look at Raven’s torture of the Sandman and Tommy Dreamer. Dreamer is still without a win over Raven, no matter how much he’s beaten the man. And then there’s Terry Funk, the old man who is pleading with the company for one more title shot. As it stands, all these guys will have a chance to hunt Raven at Barely Legal – the main event isn’t set and we’ll be establishing that in the coming weeks.
THE SANDMAN vs. D-VON DUDLEY (with Sign Guy Dudley)
Sandman’s entrance lasts long enough for him to chug three beers; and while the act admittedly doesn’t take him very long, he’s got a couple of cigarettes to work over in between. Match preparation can’t be rushed. The fans offer emotional support by chanting “FUCK HIM UP SANDMAN, FUCK HIM UP!” This is a rematch from CTLA, where Sandman was destroyed at the hands of the now united Dudley Boys. We re-live that and miss the opening bell, coming back in time to see D-Von and Sandman engaged in sword play with a chair against a Singapore cane. Chair wins this round, and Sandman is staggering – either punch drunk, or just drunk. On the floor, D-Von asks the fans to TESTIFY, while laying in some, slow ass punches. They circle around the ring with D-Von throwing a new punch every 15 seconds or so, carrying this one for a few minutes. Sandman eventually backs up and hits a drop toe hold, sending D-Von face first into the support post. In his fog, he sees D-Von’s glasses, and decides to wear them. I’ve been there bud – everything seems like a good idea at closing time.
Sandman crawls around under the ring looking for god knows what; maybe a table, maybe a Singapore cane, maybe the Ultimate Warrior, but he comes up with a ridiculously tall red ladder. Mistaking this for D-Von, he suplexes the ladder – but thankfully, it falls on D-Von, making the move a success. Back in the ring, the ladder is set up in the corner, and Sandman’s got that drunken smile on his face – the one where you’ve managed to remember all the words to “Freebird” while performing karaoke. D-Von reverses an Irish whip, and Sandman hits the ladder. D-Von traps Sandman under the ladder and drops a leg. Using the ladder for leverage, he still only gets 2. D-Von heads up, but Sandman drunkenly stumbles into the ropes – D-Von falls off the top, but hits the ladder on the way down, catapulting it upwards into the Sandman’s face. That’s a pretty unique spot, and probably should have been the finish, but, well, ECW. After the inevitable kickout, D-Von sets up the ladder and tries a splash from about ¾ of the way up – but Sandman moves and D-Von bellyflops. Sandman nails a DDT, and heads up to the ceiling – where he swings off a beam and drops a leg onto D-Von for the pin at 9:42. From a pure trainwreck standpoint, this was kinda fun – but wrestling it ain’t. *
JOEL GERTNER hits the ring for the official decision, but before he opens his mouth, he takes a Singapore cane to the face, yielding a man-sized pop. BUBBA RAY DUDLEY attacks from behind, but Sandman’s not having anything tonight, single-handedly beating up both guys … until they hit the 3-D out of nowhere, and leave him lying as we head to commercial.
Via satellite, impending ECW imports GRAN NANIWAGRAN HAMADA, and THE GREAT SASUKE pimp Michinoku Pro wrestling, which is the ECW of Japan. English ain’t their strong suit, but Sasuke will more than make up for that in the ring.
TAZ (with Bill Alphonso) vs. SCOTT TAYLOR
This is Taz’s return to the ring, in preparation for Lance Storm at Cyberslam. Taylor is of course a ridiculously young Scotty 2 Hotty, and he’s got a phenomenal 80’s mullet on the go. Taz bitch slaps Taylor, and when Taylor gives it right back it may as well be a death sentence. A cross armbreaker is only broken up by a foot on the ropes. If there’s no DQ, why bother letting go? Taylor hits a savate kick and follows with a dropkick sending Taz to the floor. Giving Taz a chance to breathe is probably a mistake, and Taylor knows it, hitting a springboard plancha to keep the little monster down. Back in, Taylor gets caught in an overhead front facelock suplex, and Taz feeds him a clothesline that turns Scotty inside out – just in case he had any misconceptions of winning this one. Taylor ducks a big boot, slides to the outside, trips Taz up, and crotches him on the ringpost! A springboard clothesline gets 2, and that’ll be the end of Taylor’s offense. A t-bone about kills the poor guy, and the Tazzmission finishes at 6:06.Taz, when given someone who can pinball around the ring for him, looks like the midget prototype for Brock Lesnar today. **
TAKA MICHINOKUTERRY BOY, and DICK TOGO check in via satellite. THE BWO join them, and Stevie apologizes for the interruption, but due to the overwhelming popularity of their group, they need expansion. Taka: “Oh, international?” And that’s exactly what they have in mind, offering shirts to the trio. All 6 lead a “BUY THE SHIRT” chant as we take another break.
Man – I thought we might get through this show SHANE DOUGLAS free, but no such luck. FRANCINE is hanging on, and Douglas is in a bad mood. He didn’t care for the comment that Funk made that the ECW title is the only belt worth going for, because he’s made the TV title mean something. “Terry Funk, you do it your way, the ECW way, and I’ll do it my way.” He shoves his tongue down Francine’s mouth, who comes up for air and lets us know “and he does it so well”. I feel like I caught several diseases just watching that.
CHRIS CANDIDO carries on like a lunatic, about what I *think* is a promo against Rob Van Dam. It’s hard to tell, because he’s buzzing around like a bee on cocaine.
Fan Cam footage from last weekend shows the return of SABU, confronting TAZ. Before they throw down, THE ENTIRE LOCKER ROOM rushed the ring to keep them apart. There’s something decidedly un-hardcore about keeping guys from fighting. Just as the credits roll, Sabu manages to bust through the wall of wrestlers and hit Taz with a hands free plancha! The guys roll around on the ground, throwing punches, and we are out of time. Infomercials are NEXT!

WCW Nitro: February 24, 1997

One year ago this week: Kimberly and Johnny B Badd share their last carriage ride together before he heads off for browner pastures on the 02/24 Saturday Night. Love is a fickle matter, because by the 02/26 Nitro, she traded in her Frisbee for Booty Shorts, making eyes at Ed Leslie. And, most importantly, over on the 02/26 Prime, Cobra did battle with James Earl Wright, in the war of the feds vs. the state. Click through, enjoy, I’ll still be here when you’re done.
fg76Angry about Hogan winning the way he did. Just wasn’t what it should have been. This should have been the moment the yellow and red Hogan showed up and destroyed Piper or Piper beating the weak heel Hogan. What happened was garbage and I was a Hogan fan.
While I was busy being angry about the Savage turn like it was 1997 all over again, completely lost is the fact that Piper beat Hogan clean as a sheet, in front of the watchful eyes of Mark Curtis. The WCW referees were a class of bumbling idiots, but Mark Curtis always seemed above the rest of them. The guy was exceptionally observant, and keen eyed fans could see his enthusiasm for everything he did. It is positively mind-boggling that this guy, who watched Hogan’s arms drop just 6 inches from his face, somehow let himself be manipulated into believing that hmmm, maybe Hogan’s leg WAS under the rope. I mean, wrestlers wouldn’t lie, would they? If they wanted to pull this garbage they may as well have assigned Nick Patrick to do the job. Instead, WCW looks dumber and dumber with every passing moment.

What’s left for us now? Piper, fighting for his son’s name, got completely betrayed by WCW’s ineptness. Randy Savage, the wild eyed lunatic who was as likely as anyone to put a screwdriver in Hogan’s skull is now his best friend. DDP is fantastic, but as a world title contender? To quote himself, I don’t think so. The Giant’s been done to death. Hacksaw Duggan is too busy searching for “Terry” to be bothered with Hogan. Sting got another knife in the back, so he’ll probably be wiping his tears in the rafters for another 6 months before doing anything about it. The Horsemen and Dungeon of Doom can’t stop obsessing about each other for 5 minutes. It comes back to the same person it’s always been, but that WCW seems hesitant to move on: Lex Luger. Luger has been the hottest babyface in the company for nearly a year now, and in that timeframe he’s had exactly 1 major title shot (Great American Bash). He never loses, the fans are treating him like the second coming of Hulk Hogan, and he’s the only WCW superstar in the company that they haven’t hurt with repeatedly one-sided booking. I think it’s safe to say he’s gonna be stripped of the tag-team titles tonight, and the logical route to take is to bully Bischoff into a World Title shot, with the Giant acting as his bodyguard against any potential shenanigans. Run with this through Uncensored or even Spring Stampede, and you’re printing money.
This is unless, of course, they decide put the rocket on Meng and the Barbarian, in which case I’m done with Lex Luger.
One night removed from a fantastic pay-per-view completely ruined by an awful main event, THIS is Nitro! TONY SCHIAVONE and LARRY ZBYSZKO try and get us up to speed through the popping pyro, but we have no time for Tony to even bring us a single still shot from last night’s show, because the ring is already filling with bodies.
THE PUBLIC ENEMY (4-1-0) vs. JEFF JARRETT and MONGO MCMICHAEL (with Debra McMichael)
Last night, Jarrett pinned Mongo and as a result he’s officially a Horseman, apparently. I still have no idea how the hell this came to be, or how it makes sense. Mongo’s wife is clearly in love with this guy who desperately wants to become best friends with Mongo himself, except nobody likes him, but now Mongo will put up with him because of a match stipulation. Get it? Got it? Good. Rocco starts with Mongo, and he throat punches the big man a few times. Both guys trade out, and Jarrett takes a neckbreaker from a dancing Johnny Grunge. Mongo finally has enough and blindsides Rocco when he steps a little too comfortably near the heel corner, and the Horsemen take over. Jarrett hits a drop toe hold, and Mongo follows with a legdrop. Teamwork from the mortal enemies? Debra’s got a smile so wide that I’m shocked she’s not trying to cool down with a cigarette. 3 point stance gets a big thumbs up from Jarrett, and Jeff hits a powerbomb for 2. Debra hands the Haliburton to Mongo, and he HAPPILY accepts it, immediately waffling Jarrett and the Public Enemy get the win and 4:36. Debra is livid, but Mongo happily owns his actions here. *1/2
ARN ANDERSON and RIC FLAIR join the boys in the ring with “MEAN” GENE OKERLUND. Mongo said he’s been told to treat Jarrett like family, so he’s taken him in like a little brother. And, like all annoying little brothers, he needs to be slapped around. Flair, who’s absolutely pimpin’ tonight, reminds Mongo that he promised if Jarrett could win, he was in. Being a Horseman means being a team player, so he wants these guys to remind everyone why they’re the symbol of excellence. Arn’s even more desperate, reminding us that “The Dungeon is getting stronger” (REALLY?!? THIS is where their attention is?!?), and wants a hand shake right now. Mongo smiles, and tells Jarrett that he might mess with him, but nobody else will, he promises. Fingers in the air!
GALAXY vs. JIM DUGGAN (3-0-1)
Now THIS is the kind of Worldwide match up that really gets my juices flowing! … Unfortunately this is Nitro, and this is kind of ridiculous. I dislike wasted TV time during your most popular show; and this just feels like space to talk about Macho Man, even though we have TONS of time to do that. Duggan beats Galaxy from pillar to post, including a slam on the exposed concrete. Duggan’s always been a giant cheater, and he hides behind the American flag as if to justify himself. Your thumbs up and three-letter catchphrase aren’t fooling me, Jimbo. Galaxy tries a moonsault, but misses by 12 feet, and Duggan goes into the 3 point stance. The taped fist, DIRECTLY in front of the referee is NOT called for a DQ, and Duggan screams “HOGANNNNNNNN” before issuing the punch and getting the win at 3:23. DUD
Duggan continues to carry on like, well, Roddy Piper after a week in Alcatraz, and “MEAN” GENE OKERLUND wants a word. He’s still pretty angry about “Terry”. This is the second time he’s brought this guy up, this guy must have REALLY wronged him. And now, Savage has shown he has a Black Heart. Does that come with a bigger package? Duggan vows never to come through Hogan’s back door (thank goodness for THAT), but he may just be seeing him soon.
JOE GOMEZ  (0-1-0) vs. HUGH MORRUS (7-3-0)
This was actually a dark match last night, and CRZ, who was in attendance that night, reports on what was pretty memorable action: Wikipedia says there were two dark matches which I totally don’t remember.
It’s going to be hard for them to top that kind of response tonight, but let’s see what they bring. Gomez gets completely man-handled, pounded down in the corner with nowhere to go. He eventually manages a leapfrog, and he sneaks in a small package. Larry carries on about the human game of chess being played by Kevin Sullivan. Is this like a LARP thing?
Morrus drops Gomez with a clothesline, and Larry encourages Gomez to Use His Science. Since Gomez is not a chemist, but a Desperado, he immediately falls victim to No Laughing Matter at 3:16.
LA PARKA (2-2-0) vs. ICE TRAIN (2-0-1) (with Teddy Long)
8 months ago, WCW began a series of Latino imports that changed the face of the mid-card for good. Gone were the days of trying to fill space with the never-ending Alex Wright push, and instead, we were treated to numerous high flying aerial displays the likes of which we’d never seen. And now, as highlighted with the Galaxy match earlier, we are entering the next stage of its evolution: Squashing them like bugs against plodding midcarders. Stage 3 will see the imports moved exclusively to Worldwide, to get squashed there instead. Parka throws everything he’s got at Ice Train, who stands there laughing at our favorite skeleton. Then he starts throwing powerslams and pumping his fist. Parka shocks him with a spinning heel kick off the top, but he kicks out and throws Parka across the ring to remind us He’s Much Bigger. Parka hits a jawbreaker, and follows with another pair of spinning heel kicks. Teddy takes a second to talk his man up, and Train turns around just in time to eat a 360 plancha. Back in, Parka tries a springboard Crossbody, but he gets caught, slammed and hit with the Train Wreck at 3:57. *
CHRIS JERICHO and EDDIE GUERRERO vs. THE FACES OF FEAR (4-2-1) (with Jimmy Hart)
Breathe, Chris, breathe. I’m so damn giddy I can barely control my bodily functions. The fans boo the Faces of Fear because they don’t know what’s good for them. Barbarian misses an early Kick of Fear, and Jericho, realizing the mistakes these guys make are few and far between, dropkicks the man and hammers with everything he’s got. Then he turns things over to Guerrero, because he has no desire to die. Barbarian throws Eddie in the air like a game of Angry Birds, and Guerrero crashes nose first into the mat. In comes Meng, and Eddie hilariously throws punches that causes Meng to stare at him like “you’re kidding, right?” Then he throws a man-sized headbutt and powerbombs Guerrero with enough force to knock the earth off its axis. Back to Jericho, and Team Wiener hits a double backdrop,  before a short senton gets 2. Meng just gets up and gives Jericho a backdrop suplex right to the back of the neck, and Barbarian wants a piece. His fantastic overhead release superplex nearly clears the whole ring, and Barbarian gets 2. Jericho goes for a small package. Why do you insist on upsetting them? It’s like dealing with a bear, just play dead and get it over with. Meng comes in, walking into a springboard crossbody, and he stands up PISSED off, pounding Jericho right into the mat and choking him out while waving his head around like Willow Smith. Eddie gets angry, and the distraction allows an illegal switch – but I don’t think they needed the distraction. If you were refereeing would YOU tell these guys what they are and aren’t allowed to do? Meng backdrops Jericho into the happy arms of Barbarian, and Chris eats a powerbomb. Barbarian sticks out his tongue to remind us he has more charisma in his mouth than you’ll have in your lifetime. Both guys fly off the top like missiles, delivering the double swandive, and only a desperate Eddie Guerrero stops this from ending. Jericho says something to Eddie, and I have to figure it’s “dude, seriously, stop. I can feel the life escaping my body, please just let them pin me!” Barbarian cuts off the ring, and when Jericho tries showing a little fire, Barbarian rakes him in the eyes. Meng tags in and takes his sweet ass time, which has to be like torture for Jericho – not knowing what’s coming next. Meng whips him into the ropes, and Jericho hits a surprise Lionsault. Meng tries to drop an elbow and break his head open like a melon, but Chris rolls away and tags in Eddie. Guerrero throws himself at Meng, who doesn’t budge, but screams to the heavens like a warrior ready to perform a human sacrifice. Eddie dropkicks him, which buys just enough of a distraction for Jericho to come off the top with a crossbody. A double dropkick sends Meng back to his corner, so he just tags in Barbarian. Coleslaw for brains on Team Wiener, I tell you. Barbarian runs over Jericho with a clothesline, but since they’re cheating and keeping 2 guys in the ring, Guerrero dropkicks him from behind. Jericho dropkicks Meng off the apron, and a double suplex has Barbarian down for a second. Jericho goes for the Lionsault, but Meng pulls his dumbass to the floor for a legendary beating. Eddie goes for the Frog Splash, but DEAN MALENKO rushes down for a little payback from last night, shoving Eddie into the awaiting Kick of Fear from Barbarian, and even though they didn’t need the help, the greatest tag-team in the history of the galaxy pick up the win at 7:43. I’m not allowed to post Youtube links on Blogger anymore, but you guys are self-sufficient enough to track this down. ****
Since the US Champion is usually the default #1 contender to the World Title, and since Barbarian just pinned the US Champion, he should be getting a title shot, no? This would make as fine a main event for Uncensored as anything I can imagine. Hogan trying to Hulk Up while Barbarian stands there in complete contempt for the stupid side show before kicking his head into the upper deck would get me to pay $30 to watch it every time I viewed the clip. Infinite money. I’d never be able to retire.
The second hour brings “SOBER” BOBBY HEENAN and MIKE TENAY into Tony’s circle of friends. The conclusion from these brilliant minds is that Sting is probably working with the nWo.
JUVENTUD GUERRERA (0-3-0) vs. REY MYSTERIO JR. (7-3-2)
Mysterio is the rightful TV Champion right now, having been handed it by the unworthy Prince Iaukea last night, but Mysterio wanted to “win it” by “pinning him”. A forfeit’s a forfeit, yo, just take it. Juvi DDTs Mysterio and nails a springboard dropkick to knock Mysterio down. Remembering he just had knee surgery, Juvi locks on a grapevine, but Mysterio fights out.  Both guys nearly pin each other simultaneously, and bridge up at the same time for the easily delighted crowd. Both guys trade chops, before Juvi grows bored and just smashes Mysterio’s face with his forearm. A moonsault gets 2, but Juvi doesn’t miss a beat, putting on a chinlock less than a half second after the kickout. Juvi tries to follow up, but Rey spins around his body before hitting a rana with enough force to send Juvi sliding to the floor. Heenan: “It’s like wrestling a helicopter!” Juvi blocks a baseball slide, but Rey just whips his body through with a headscissors takeover that sends the Juice into the guard rail. Back in, Mysterio goes up to finish, but Juvi cuts him off and hits a super powerbomb for 2! Juvi dropkicks him back to the floor, and tope suicida connects! Back in, Juvi goes for a springboard senton backsplash, but Mysterio catches him on the way down and turns it into a powerbomb! The West Coast Pop is academic, and Rey takes it down at 5:37. Juvi probably deserves a lot better, but as long as he keeps putting on fantastic matches with his opponents, his win/loss record is secondary to me. ***
GOLDBERG PAT TANAKA (0-1-0) vs. PRINCE IAUKEA (3-1-0) (for the WCW world television title)
I’ve been hard on the poor Prince. After all, it’s not his fault that WCW is run by a group of legendary chowderheads. As a result, in an effort to try and appreciate Iaukea a little more, I drew up a pros and cons list to see if we can learn to accept him.
Tony continually refers to Prince as a “youngster”, which comparatively to the main event scene is probably true – clocking in at a spry 32. Heenan covers Iaukea’s decision to try and give the TV title away last night: “This guy’s got brains made of coconut!” Iaukea knocks down Tanaka with a karate chop, but he fails to follow up, and takes a leg whip. Iaukea comes back with a clothesline, and does his ridiculous karate poses in an attempt to establish a personality. Tanaka’s having none of it, and powerbombs Prince for 2. Iaukea comes back with a Samoan drop, and follows with a top rope crossbody for the pin at 2:55. “You hit a move, and then I hit a move!” Who needs selling? DUD
THE ULTIMATE DRAGON (8-1-0) (with Sonny Onoo) vs. DEAN MALENKO (9-2-2)
After some chain wrestling, Malenko offers Dragon the hand of friendship. Dragon doesn’t believe him, but Malenko insists, refusing to let it go … and he immediately clotheslines the doof as soon as he accepts. Dragon gets kicked in the back of the head repeatedly, but he manages to avoid a pinfall. Malenko lets him up, and that’s a mistake, because Dragon lays in his rapid fire kicks in retaliation. A dropkick is planted right on the nose, but Dean sweeps out the legs and pounds away on Dragon’s face. A brainbuster rattles Dragon’s cage, and Malenko works a chinlock, driving his knee into Dragon’s spine for extra effect. Dragon throws him off by moving forward, and holds on to rock Malenko backwards in an upside down surfboard. The hold is released, but he just turns it around to work an Indian deathlock! Dean won’t tap, so Dragon releases and just takes to kicking him in the kidneys instead. Malenko backdrops Dragon to make him go away for a second, and he finds the energy to powerbomb Dragon for 2. Dragon smashes Malenko’s face into the buckle, and sends him to the floor. A swinging dropkick makes a nice clapping noise on impact, and Dragon then comes off the top with a crossbody – appearing to hurt his own knee in the process. Back in, Malenko goes for a powerbomb again, but this time Dragon turns it in mid-air and uses a Frankensteiner into a roll up for 2! La Majistral gets 2! Fast and furious now. A handspring back elbow is blocked, and Malenko throws him with an overhead release German suplex! Malenko, frustrated, chokes the hell out of Dragon, and the announcers figure he’s simply lost it over last night. Sonny tries to get involved, but Malenko piefaces him to the floor and goes back to trying to choke the life out of Dragon – getting himself DQed at 8:58. This was about the floor as far as these two guys go, still a *** match.
“MEAN” GENE OKERLUND wants answers about Malenko’s behavior, since he’s typically the “consummate professional”. Dean says he’s sick and tired of the lack of respect he’s been getting, and he hasn’t forgotten about Syxx. His bigger issue, however, is that Guerrero is someone he fully trusted, and since he decided to get in his business, he’ll be giving him the business going forward.
DIAMOND DALLAS PAGE (7-1-0) vs. DAVID TAYLOR (2-1-0)
The master of the European uppercut! My god how I’ve missed you! Now, in the defense of the Squire, he’s been on the search for Dr. Livingstone for the better part of a month now. You can tell he’s still not completely back to his civilized self, because he mistakes the front row for a pride of lions and prepares to defend himself accordingly.
Page might be picking up a ton of momentum, but he hasn’t faced the wrath of our world traveler. Taylor goes right to the European uppercuts because he is not a man who messes around. Page is rocked with two of them, and it’s bordering on impossibility that he’s actually still on his feet. Page tries a Diamond Cutter, but as a former shark fighter, he summons his training and pokes Page in the eyes. THE OUTSIDERS come out to admire Taylor’s incredible ringwork, as Page picks up Taylor in a fireman’s carry. Out of this move, he hits a Diamond Cutter, and seeing as how Taylor had no counter, I have to believe that’s a completely illegal shoot hold, because otherwise there is no chance he could have connected it against this beast. Before Taylor can kick out, Nash and Hall prevent Page from even trying the pinfall – which is good, we don’t need his finisher killed. Taylor leaves the boys to their business, because he still has uncharted jungle to map out.
RANDY SAVAGE sneaks in behind Page while he’s distracted with the Outsiders, and attacks from behind. Savage shares a little love with his new friends, while A FAN gets the brilliant idea to run in and ask everyone for an autograph. All 3 nWo guys take turns teeing off on the moron, who decides to tuck tail and head for the hills – SECURITY hot in pursuit. Savage tags Page with the spray paint, and puts on his brand new shirt. An elbowdrop cements his spot in the group, and everyone shares Wolfpac signs.
The inconsistencies here are completely wild. Savage, god bless him, has always been more like a Diamond Dallas Page than anything. He’s more or less an independent, not interested in a lot of friends. Watching him “sell out” to the nWo lacks in any kind of believability from what we’ve been taught to know about him over the years. Hogan makes total sense, he’s always surrounded himself with people who bow to the power of Hulkamania. Savage never needed that … or any of them. He made friends with Hogan only once the Hulkster started acknowledging him as a top guy; and the minute he felt threatened, he tore him apart. The story they’re running with is that Savage did this in order to get his job back with WCW, but I’m not buying this. If that were a plausible scenario, Savage should be as uncomfortable as Elizabeth, or at least as “accepting” of his new spot as Mongo is with Jarrett. In a perfect situation, had the agreement been that he helped Hogan retain, and Savage happily agreed (with the intent to seek and destroy immediately afterwards), we would have had a heck of an intriguing storyline. Would the fans have accepted the “sell out” Savage, trying to use the ends to justify the means? Or would they have given him the Lex Luger treatment of last year? Would the WCW guys have been able to trust him moving forward, or would he be on an island unto himself, forced to take on all comers in the name of remaining employed? There were a million directions to take this. Instead, they chose the laziest path available. And this was just the beginning of the “lazy” turns. Strap yourselves in, there’s a million more on the way.
After a commercial break, the trio is still in the ring, where Hall is welcoming the audience to nWo Monday Nitro. Savage is introduced as the newest member, and Hall brings out “another icon” to join them, welcoming HOLLYWOOD HOGAN. Hogan sucks up to the locals (another big problem with this group – constantly fluffing the fans to ensure they picked up all the heat, good and bad). Macho is given his introductory present – a smiling ELIZABETH, with TED DIBIASE and ERIC BISCHOFF. Okay, here’s MORE inconsistencies. Just last year, this lady was running with Ric Flair, tossing Savage’s money into the crowd left, right, and center. Then, out of nowhere, she re-develops her feelings for Savage, and joins the nWo to get a movie role – actions that are counter-productive to each other. Savage, having nothing but hate for the woman, starts crying over her on Nitro to the point you don’t think he’s actually going to be able to fight Hogan because he’s so downtrodden, until he shows up at the pay-per-view and none of this is even brought up. 4 months later, all’s good – and they can be a couple now because they wear the same t-shirts. Maybe I expect too much from my shows, but as recently as Last Summer, they were working their asses off to ensure everything tied together. The Bischoff as the nWo boss stuff was positively brilliant, dropping subtle hints for months until we were clued in. The DDP as possible nWo backer, until it was revealed it was actually DiBiase was a fantastic red herring. And all those commercials to let us know Glacier was Coming really came together when he finally arrived. Now that they’re the runaway clear #1 game in town, it almost feels like they just stopped trying.
HARLEM HEAT (8-2-2) (with Sista Sherri) vs. LEX LUGER and THE GIANT (1-0-0) (for the WCW world tag-team titles)
At this point, it’s probably because I’m already in a mood and nitpicking to high hell, but why are Harlem Heat getting the title shots after Public Enemy won the #1 contender’s match last night? ERIC BISCHOFF runs down to ringside before we get underway, and before he makes his impending announcement, he invites THE NWO to join him as back up. nWo Sting and Masa Chono are missing, but otherwise, the gang’s all here. Bischoff reminds Luger he wasn’t cleared last night, and as a result, they are not the tag-team champions. Shocker. It’s bad when even Tony Schiavone sniffed this one out last night, because he doesn’t catch on to *anything*. Luger refuses, saying he’ll need to be removed on a stretcher before he gives the title belt. Unless – he’s willing to agree to one match. Luger wants every single belt on the line at Uncensored, World, Tag-Team, Cruiserweight, all of them. Bischoff agrees, as long as they hand over the gold immediately.
STING walks out from the back while both sides jaw with each other, and he marches right up into the ring. The ring parts like the red sea, and Sting coldly looks at everyone, before settling on Hogan. He burns a hole through Hollywood, and Hogan responds by giving Sting a big bear hug. Sting steps back … and poses with the nWo. Oh Christ almighty, really?!? Really?!? REALLY?!?!?! Tony speaks for all of us – “I can’t take this anymore, goodnight!” As the credits fade to black, Bischoff can audibly be heard, clearly wearing a loud smile, “Oh I LOVE this!!!”

I bet you do, Eric.

WCW Superbrawl: February 23, 1997

Out on the prison island of Alcatraz, RODDY PIPER, panting like a post-coital dog, informs A SECURITY GUARD that he knows the way. Screaming, he rushes through the gate, looking dishevelled. “I didn’t spend 7 days from hell for NOTHING!” I’d reckon wearing a skirt in prison probably wasn’t the smartest thing h could have done, but there’s not much of this plan that I believe he thought through.
LIVE from San Francisco, this is Superbrawl! DUSTY RHODESTONY SCHIAVONE, and “SOBER” BOBBY HEENAN are the A-Team tonight. Heenan screams about the escape from Alcatraz, and there’s a mad-man headed for Hollywood. Is everyone under the impression that Alcatraz is an active prison?

SYXX (0-1-0) vs. DEAN MALENKO (9-1-2) (for the WCW world cruiserweight title)
Syxx is wearing the gold, having stolen it from Malenko during last week’s match. I’d probably find it a much more heinous act if Malenko had ever bothered to defend the damn thing, but seeing as how this is the only way to goad him into a title match, good work Syxx. Malenko marches to the ring, completely focused, by wearing the exact same look on his face he always does. Thankfully, his actions are intense, as Syxx takes a man-sized beating right off the bell. Dean has a chance to win early, but opts to pull the challenger up at 2. Syxx throws some weak right hands, and even tries a bitch slap, but Malenko continues the assault, accentuated with a nasty powerslam for 2. The fans start a “1-2-3” “SUCKS!” duel, while he misses a Thesz press and puts himself in a tree of woe. Malenko dropkicks Syxx from the upside down position and goes for the Cloverleaf. Syxx shoves off, so a pissed off Dean sends him to the floor with a crossbody block, Cactus Jack style. Malenko heads over to Dave Penzer and takes his belt back, showing it off in front of Syxx’s face. Syxx tries a jumping spin kick on the floor, but Malenko ducks and decks him again. Back in the ring, Syxx finally hits his first move, with a backwards enzuigiri. Finally, with a chance to embarrass the man, Syxx hits the Bronco Buster, getting an audible groan from the crowd since this is still a relatively fresh move. A sleeper hold is applied, but Malenko drops forward, sending Syxx’s face into the buckle to break. He shakes it off and puts the sleeper back on. A backdrop suplex allows an escape, and Dean gets 2. Both guys are seeing stars, but it’s Syxx who recovers first, laying in some nasty chops. Malenko is laid out across the apron, and Syxx drops an elbow from the top rope, across the exposed throat. A brainbuster gives Syxx a chance to go high risk again, and a guillotine legdrop gets 2. The neck is clearly the target now, so Syxx goes to the sleeper hold one more time, and this time Malenko drops to the mat and is fading fast. Syxx loosens for just a sec, and that’s all Malenko needs to fight to his feet and drive Syxx backwards into the buckle. Malenko slaps on his own sleeper, but he’s still groggy, and they wind up headbutting each other. Syxx is up first and heads up top, but Malenko crotches him to a good pop. Dean tries a backdrop superplex, but Syxx twists mid-move and crossbodies Malenko, turning the impact on the champ. Syxx grabs the belt, but that draws in EDDIE GUERRERO who’s had enough of this kleptomaniac shit. They get into a tug-o-war which Malenko joins from the other side, pulling Syxx’s other arm. It’s Eddie who accidently lets go, and the belt flies back, smacking Malenko in the face HARD! Guerrero can’t believe what he’s done, and it’s made worse as Syxx gets the pin at 12:02. I really want to believe this is the spark the division needs to get back on track, but considering Syxx never really wrestles, I’m not optimistic. Good match, though. ***
“MEAN” GENE OKERLUND shills the hotline, carrying on about potential new nWo members he saw having breakfast with Eric Bischoff. If this is legit, shouldn’t the ever scheming Gene do the right thing and report it to his WCW superiors so they can take some sort of action? I’d be real sick of the mustachioed scumbag profiting off my company’s internal dissention when he has information that could be vital in STOPPING it. Anyway, speaking of the nWo, DIAMOND DALLAS PAGE is going to face an unknown member of the gang with Big Bubba on the sidelines. Page figures it’s not as unknown as all that, because Hogan’s busy with Piper, Hall and Nash are tied up with The Giant, Syxx doesn’t have the guts to pull double duty … so basically, a member of the C-team. DDP narrows it down to Buff Bagwell, and Gene gets word in his ear at that very moment in time that yes, that’s exactly who it is. I would have used nWo Sting, he’s gotta be fresh as hell, he hasn’t wrestled in months.
KONAN, LA PARKA, and VILLANO 4 vs. CICLOPE, JUVENTUD GUERRERA, and SUPER CALO
MIKE TENAY bolts out of the bathroom mid-stream at the first whiff of Lucha to join the announce team. I’m with ya Mike, I love a good Latino fly-fest as much as anyone, but I absolutely abhor these random pairings. Konan’s Dungeon 4 Life, and while La Parka would make a fine addition to the legion of freaks, I’m not thinking he’s even had a tour of the cave yet. Has The Master signed off on these new friends? Do they play well with Maxx? On the other side, I can’t begin to imagine Super Calo having anything in common with Ciclope. How is he to wear unmovable sunglasses with just one eye? This simply won’t do. Tony compares Piper’s arrival tonight to that of an earthquake. Really, Tony? In THIS city? Ciclope and Villano 4 kick off our Worldwide special, and they’re both awful. T he fans start to file off to the concessions, so they trade off to Juvi and Konan, generating a small buzz. A tumbleweed clothesline drops the Juice, but Juvi comes right back with a rana. A springboard dropkick catches Konan in the chest, but Konan retaliates with a wheelbarrow suplex. With Juvi down, Ciclope is subsequently killed with a powerbomb. Calo hangs himself in a tree of woe for some reason, but maybe that was the plan, because he moves as La Parka charges, and the skeleton bangs the buckle. Calo, moving fast, hits a springboard headscissors takeover. La Parka misses a dropkick, and flies through the ropes to the floor. Calo is right behind with a slingshot somersault plancha, without so much as moving the sunglasses or hat! A second high flying move completely fails, as is the norm, so Parka puts him on a well placed chair and hits him with tope suicida! Back in, Villano 4 and Ciclope pair off again to be completely terrible for awhile. Ciclope tries a springboard corkscrew plancha, but he slips during his slow climb to the top of the ropes, and promptly slips as soon as he gets up there. This grows cumbersome, so Juvi comes in to liven things up with a Firebird splash on the Villano for 2. Juvi lays in the chops, but Villano just makes angry faces. Somehow, he completely misses that La Parka’s on his way back in with a La Parkinator for 2! He pulls Juvi back up to the top, but Juice shoves him off, crotching Parka on the middle rope before hitting a springboard rana for 2! Konan rushes in, and picks up Juvi for a Hart Attack with help from Villano. They both work a surfboard together, but Ciclope and Calo help their buddy, rolling the pair back into a cradle submission hold. Their shoulders wind up down, so they’re forced to release lest they be pinned. Konan tosses Juvi to the outside with ease, and then with Villano applies a Star on the other two guys. Juvi comes to save, but Parka powerbombs him and locks on the Rito Romero special in the middle of the Star. It breaks up, while Heenan offers $1000 to the other guys to tell us who’s legal. Some combination of the various teams all hit suicide dives on the other three guys on the floor, and I doubt anyone even knows who’s on whose team at this point. Konan and Juvi wind up back in together, where Splash Mountain finally ends this mess at 9:55. Good god what a trainwreck. The biggest problem with a lot of the fancier submission moves (the group ones in particular) is just how phony they look. I don’t think anyone would ever mistake wrestling for MMA, but a hint of realism is nice. The rest was your usual high flying stuff, without the smoothness of a Rey Jr or Ultimo Dragon – and really illustrated the difference between the genuine top international guys, and the phony baloney players who probably would have been best served staying back in AAA where they’d be better appreciated. *1/2
REY MYSTERIO JR. (7-2-2) vs. PRINCE IAUKEA (2-1-0) (for the WCW world television title)
Rey gets a huge pop from the rabid fans, while Prince Iaukea is met with dead silence. During his entrance, if the music hadn’t been pumped up, I’m not convinced someone relieving their nachos in the men’s room couldn’t have been heard reverberating throughout the arena. So, as a means to try and come to terms with WCW’s boneheaded decision to put the TV title on this goon, I checked out Iaukea’s Wikipedia page. First and foremost, Kevin Sullivan is clearly established as the man behind Iaukea’s push, so I’d owe Bischoff an apology for my swear filled rant on Monday, except he signed off on it so fuck him. Secondly, he’s got one of those pages that I’m convinced was written by a family member. It reads, and I quote:
Prince Iaukea debuted on WCW TV in 1996 and quickly made a name for himself with his unique Samoan persona and real submission wrestling skills along with solid pro wrestling ability.
Now, if you’ve been reading along with me for the last couple of years, you’ll know that I’ve recapped *everything*, short of WCW Pro which I simply don’t have access to. In that time, Prince Iaukea has appeared in maybe 3-4 recaps, total, and usually as part of and “Already in the Ring” 3 or 4-man tag about to be destroyed by the Dungeon of Doom. So, unless he tore up the WCW Pro ranks (and I am going to go out on a short limb and say, no, he didn’t), there is absolutely nobody who knew who in the hell this guy was until he defeated Steven Regal. He’s a cruiserweight who doesn’t fly, he’s a mat specialist with no specialty, he channels Superfly at times without even a hint of his charisma, and the only unique character traits that differentiates him from, say, Todd Morton, is his stupid mullet-bun and lei. Now, if they’d played up a disturbing Furry fetish, explaining the Cheetah Kid is actually an extension of his personal choice of kink that he can’t control in the confines of a pro-wrestling ring and sometimes is forced to wrestle under the hood as a means to personal relief, I could get behind this push. In fact, the prospect of a horrified Steven Regal as the Cheetah Kid slowly stalks him, sexually entering to Divinyls is so delicious that now I’m genuinely upset this wasn’t explored.
But – the reality is that we’re stuck with Iaukea and his terrible, colorless matches, so let’s all hope Mysterio puts this to bed in short order so we can all move on with our lives. Tony calls Prince an underdog, which is the understatement of the year. Prince works a hammerlock, but Rey remembers Iaukea has no business in the same ring as him and dropkicks him in the face. Prince fires back with a superkick for 2, and Rey heads to the floor. Iaukea stands around making stupid karate moves (dude, you’re NOT Japanese), before hitting a plancha from the top of the buckle. Prince takes over the offense, while the fans start looking around for Sting.
That’s right, every eyeball in the building has more interest in looking at nothing at all, than Prince Iaukea. Prince hits a backbreaker and goes for the Superfly Splash, but Mysterio dropkicks him in the chest. Prince goes for a powerbomb, but takes a rana mid-move, sending him all the way to the floor. Prince takes his sweet time standing up, and Rey’s waiting, with a swinging dropkick to the face to greet him. Then, in one of the most impressive spots I’ve ever seen, Mysterio somehow does a suicide somersault plancha through the middle ropes, crushing Prince as he zips by fluidly. If you’ve only been watching wrestling these last 5 years or so, you couldn’t even begin to imagine what Mysterio used to bring to the table in his early 20’s. Back in, Rey hits a triple jump moonsault for 2, just because he can. Prince tries a powerslam, but Mysterio slides off the back and nails a spinning heel kick. Split-legged moonsault is up next, yielding another 2. Prince tries a hiptoss, but Mysterio bounces off the ropes and stays in, before heading up. Prince catches him this time with a super Samoan drop, and all the fans stand up as a very smart-looking STEVEN REGAL heads down to ring-side. Mysterio has recovered and sets up the West Coast Pop, but Regal pulls him off the apron, smacking his face into the side of the ring. Regal quickly rolls Rey in, and Prince gets the easy retention at 8:57. Prince refuses to take it this way, and hands the belt to Rey as the deserving champion. Tony: “Have we ever seen, in the history of our sport, a belt that nobody wanted?” Heenan: “Give it to me, it’s gotta be worth something!” Mysterio gives it back, because he’s not interested in giving the people what they really want. I can’t believe this experiment is going to continue another day. Jesus. **
“MEAN” GENE OKERLUND reminds us to call the Hotline NOW, and introduces THE GIANT. The Giant is as aware as anyone about how badly the Outsiders drive, because they’re all about The Mind Games. So … it takes an evil genius to be a bad driver? When I blew out my horn from over-use last year, had my road rage been caused by the great minds of tomorrow? Everything’s upside down.
BUFF BAGWELL (1-0-0) vs. DIAMOND DALLAS PAGE (6-1-0)
Page still hasn’t embraced his face turn, continuing to smoke his expensive cigars, and walk around like a self-involved asswipe, which is just getting him even more over as a result. Page starts Buff off with a bitch slap getting a monster pop from the fans who just can’t get enough of DDP these days. Buff heads for the comfort of the ropes, where he jaws with the fans and gets mad heat. I’ll say this for Bagwell; while most of the B-team converts have just continued to play the same characters and have fallen into the background, Bagwell has completely and totally transformed himself and run with the ball during the last couple of months. These two fought over the Lord of the Ring like 7 months ago, to absolutely no reaction – now the fans are hanging on their every move. Buff chokes Page in the ropes and talks trash. A tornado DDT plants Page, and gives Bagwell plenty of time to show off his newly roided physique to showers of boos. Page sneaks in a small package for 2, and an irate Bagwell gets into it with Scott Dickenson. In fact, he shoves Dickenson, who gives him a MONSTER shove right back and the fans lose their collective minds! Dickenson plays it for all it’s worth, backing Bagwell into the corner and just feeding it to him in a glorious display of finger waving, screaming, and basically putting him in his place. This distraction gives DDP plenty of time to get back to his feet, and one discus punch later takes Bagwell off his feet. A super atomic drop has Bagwell hopping around, clutching his groin, and Page hits a powerbomb for 2. A back elbow from Bagwell turns the tide, and he gets 2 with his feet on the ropes. A missed blind charge allows Page to roll Bagwell up for 2. Bagwell tries the 10 punch count-a-long, but Page gives him the snake eyes and calls for the Diamond Cutter. Bagwell counters with a backslide for 2, and hits a Fisherman’s suplex. Instead of a pin, he wants to embarrass Page, asking the referee to count him out instead as payback for Bubba’s injury. Page gets up, so Bagwell goes for a neckbreaker, but DDP reverses into the Diamond Cutter, drawing in SYXXM WALLSTREETVINCENT, and NICK PATRICK for the DQ at 9:49. Page takes off into the crowd, and celebrates with his thousands of new friends, who explode on the announcement that he’s the winner. Something was in the water here, because I thought this was awesome. ***1/2
CHRIS JERICHO (8-1-0) vs. EDDIE GUERRERO (8-3-2) (for the WCW United States heavyweight title)
This should be absolutely fantastic, despite the fact that both guys have the personalities of damp tuna fish. As long as neither guy speaks, we should be in quality shape. Jericho works an armbar, just one of his 1004 holds. Eddie gets loose, and hits a side suplex. Jericho gives it right back with a backdrop suplex, before putting on an abdominal stretch. A bridged suplex gets 2, and while Eddie is able to elevate loose, Jericho uses that to backslide him for another 2. Standing vertical suplex gets 2, and Jericho’s in complete control. The Liontamer makes its debut here, but Eddie snaps loose with his leg strength. A reverse Torture Rack is up next, and Guerrero has nowhere to go. Jericho works it for awhile, before dropping down on the spine, and getting 2. Jericho looks shocked, but carries on. A springboard crossbody misses, and Eddie quickly delivers a NASTY powerbomb for 2! A brainbuster has Jericho in position for the Frog Splash, but Jericho rolls away and throws Eddie all the way back into the turnbuckle with a release German suplex! Jericho intentionally steps on Eddie’s head, showing a little heel buried inside there somewhere. Embrace it, Chris, let it all out. Indeed he does, crotching Eddie intentionally across the ropes, and dropkicking him to the floor. With Guerrero lying prone, Jericho catches him with a springboard splash all the way to the floor. Back in, Jericho goes for the missile dropkick, but Guerrero turns that into an atomic drop! Nicely done! Both guys hit each other with spinning heel kicks, and it’s Jericho up first with a powerslam for 2. Channelling his idol, Jericho is spot on with Sweet Chin Music. A groggy Guerrero fights off the assault from Jericho and goes for a tornado DDT, but with no mustard behind the move, Jericho calmly drops backwards with a bridged slam for 2! Jericho goes for a powerbomb, but Eddie rolls forward with a sunset flip, and scores an unexpected pinfall at 12:04. I actually didn’t see that finish coming, because these guys were bringing it and probably deserved another 10 minutes and a more creative end to the match. Eddie and Jericho hug it out, and while I am just waiting for Jericho to kick him in the pooter, it never comes. Another strong match in a string of them tonight. ***1/2
THE FACES OF FEAR (4-1-1) vs. THE PUBLIC ENEMY (3-1-0) vs. HARLEM HEAT (8-1-2) (with Sista Sherri)
Folks, it’s rare that grand, life changing opportunities present themselves. One of those days is upon us. If you happen to live in the Flushing, New York area, then I need you to hang on tightly to your skivvies because the legendary Faces of Fear are making an appearance for the low, low price of $40. I’m planning on being there as soon as I can convince my wife it’s a great idea to make a 20-hour round-trip drive in the span of a single weekend; but let’s be honest, that won’t take any convincing. I mean, we’re talking about the most savage warriors in the history of mankind. Rocco Rock has shaved his head, and he looks like the focal point of a Bris. Barbarian starts with the human circumcision, and you can take one guess who wins that war. Stevie Ray tags himself in, and he manages to make a press slam look like a shooting star press in terms of difficulty. The bicycle kick means Stevie’s officially out of moves, so he tags in Booker, who hits Grunge with an axe kick. 110th street slam sets up the spinaroonie into the Harlem sidekick, and Booker’s quickly winning the fans over here. That ends abruptly when Barbarian kicks him in the face while standing on the apron, and Meng tags himself in. The Fear start some “HEAVY CLUBBERIN`” before putting Booker on top. Barbarian throws him into next week, because not only is he one of the two greatest wrestlers in the world, but he also defies the laws of time and space. Meng comes back in and starts screaming in Tongan before giving Booker the spike piledriver. The double headbutt cause Booker’s eyes to roll, and they ain’t done by a long shot. A backdrop sends Booker into the awaiting arms of Barbarian, who howls to the heavens like a hungry coyote while delivering a vicious powerbomb.
“WHAT POWER” understates Tony Schiavone, while Stevie Ray saves the day. Booker blindly tags out to Johnny Grunge, but before he leaves Barbarian wishes him a good night by giving him a Kick of Fear over the top rope. Stevie Ray angrily rushes in to defend his brother’s honor, and he takes a Kick of Fear from Meng. Barbarian spies the bald monkey Rocco prepping to do something stupid, so he just picks him up by the legs and starts planning all sorts of unspeakable horror. Johnny Grunge flies off the top, with both guys falling on top of Barbarian, and … gets the pin at 7:46?!?! What the flippity fuck? After a clinic like that from the Barbarian, and his awesome partner Meng, who quite frankly is one of the two best wrestlers in the world, we’re still trying this crap? I hope this stupid company gets sold in 4 years and dies a horrible death. This was easily an 8 and a half star affair before the finish, but that knocked off nearly a half dozen, so we’ll settle in somewhere around the *** range. The US had better pray the isle of Tonga never declares war, because despite having a range of military weapons ranging from birch bark canoes and some fairly threatening poisonous plants, these two alone might be enough to take down the entire nation with their bare hands.
MONGO MCMICHAEL (1-1-0) (with Debra McMichael) vs. JEFF JARRETT (9-1-0)
If Jarrett wins, he’s a Horsemen. If he loses, we’ll continue to run this insipid angle for another 8 months. There are no victories tonight, folks. Jarrett gets cocky, taking a break on the ropes like a hammock, which probably isn’t wise against a loose cannon like Mongo. A powerslam sets up a pair of 3 point stance clips, and Jarrett hits the deck. Mongo’s hot on his tail, but Debra asks him to relax, giving Jarrett a chance to land a cheap shot. Jarrett puts on an abdominal stretch, using the ropes for leverage, but Debra smacks his hands with the Haliburton because she wants a fair match. Mongo hiptosses Jeff away, and after threatening to military slam him to the floor (where a pleading Debra makes him stop), he slams him mid ring and clotheslines him over the top. Debra wipes Jarrett down, but that just draws a super irate Mongo over to choke his ass out with the same towel. Back in, Jarrett dodges a backdrop and hits a faceplant, pointing to his head because he’s a Super Genius. Of course, a Super Genius might know better than to mess with a man’s wife right in front of him – but this was just child’s play before hopping into bed with Karen Angle. Mongo works a sleeper, but Jarrett hits a backdrop suplex to escape, and both guys are out. Debra: “I don’t know which one to help!” Mongo winds up helping himself, hitting a sidewalk slam, followed by a Rock Bottom for 2. Jarrett gets in a cheap shot and comes off the top with a crossbody for 2. During the kickout, Jarrett’s hand accidently decks the referee, and Mongo immediately calls for the briefcase. Debra refuses, so Mongo grabs her by the back of the hair. She throws it wildly backwards, into the awaiting arms of Jeff Jarrett, who waffles Mongo and scores the pin at 8:13. Heenan: “I SMELL DIVORCE!” Jarrett celebrates his induction to the group who wants nothing to do with him, while Debra tries to revive her fallen husband. **
KEVIN SULLIVAN (7-1-0) (with Jimmy Hart and Jacqueline) vs. CHRIS BENOIT (6-3-0) (with Woman) (in a San Francisco death match)
If our creepiness scale with the entire Benoit story needed another layer, here he is with Woman in a Death Match. Woman and Jackie are strapped together, and they start scrapping on the floor to a massive reaction. You know, for all the hate I have for Kevin Sullivan, the heat is off the charts every single time he steps in the ring with Benoit. Benoit chops the old man into North Carolina BBQ, but Jackie cuts him off when he goes for the swandive. Sullivan pounds Benoit with repeated shots to the face, and Jackie comes after her. Woman cuts that off, whipping Jackie repeatedly. Sullivan throws himself in the middle, so Woman uses the strap as a genital mutilator, and Sullivan drops like a rock. Benoit heads over to check on his lady, and Jackie starts whipping him with some ferocity! Sullivan rips the straps off the girls all together, and hangs Benoit over the top rope. I swear to god, if Jackie puts a bible at his feet, I’m going to have to start scrubbing him out of WCW history like a WWE DVD editor. Instead, she punts him in the crotch, while Woman beats down Kevin. The ladies strap themselves back together, and use the leather as a clothesline to take down both guys. Sullivan recovers first, and takes Chris to the floor where he’s sent face first into the guardrail. They both start trading chops, and nothing’s being held back here. The boys start heading through the crowd, and we know exactly where this is headed. But, the boys have a curveball tonight. Instead of moth balls and stale urine, they fight just outside the parking lot, taking turns hitting each other with a giant Rubbermaid garbage can. Eventually they head back down to ringside, and Sullivan ties Benoit to the tree of woe. The running knee sets up the Double Stomp, but Woman starts whipping him to stop any pinfall. He starts to stalk his ex, but Benoit spins him around, and gives him a spike piledriver with some force! The women continue to roll around, while Benoit grabs one of those super sturdy old cafeteria style tables from under the ring. It’s set up in the middle of the ring with Sullivan on top, so Jackie throws herself on top to save her man. Benoit has zero fucks to give about that, and splashes the both of them, where everyone bounces off while the table doesn’t budge! That’ll crack a rib! Benoit lies on Sullivan underneath the table, and that gets the pinfall at 8:35. They tried a new side to their old template, but this didn’t quite have the punch their previous matches did. ***
ARN ANDERSON comes out to survey the carnage, with both Jackie and Sullivan down and out. PAUL ORNDORFF, who we haven’t seen in about a year, also heads down to the ring, and he’s livid. He checks in on Kevin, screaming for help, drawing in … TERRY TAYLOR and LEE MARSHALL. Lee provides all sorts of assistance, such as giving exaggerated points and looking shocked. After several more minutes, 3 gurneys are wheeled down, taking Benoit, Sullivan, and Jackie away for medical help.
THE OUTSIDERS (2-1-0) (with Syxx) vs. THE GIANT (4-0-2) (for the WCW world tag-team titles)
It seems almost illogical that in July, the Giant was the single most dominant force on the roster, yet WCW allowed their 3-man team at Bash at the Beach to be composed of a lottery drawing. Savage had nothing resembling momentum at that point, he could have been easily replaced, and WCW probably wins that match and stops the New World Order from happening before it even starts. Hall wins the Rock, Paper, Scissors draw for the 21st consecutive time, which either means Kevin Nash has the worst poker face on the planet, or Scott Hall is the world champion of Roshambo. Hall sizes up the competition, and decides his best course of action is to throw a toothpick at the Giant. Of course, that only serves to make the big man angry, so Hall’s forced to hide in his corner. Once the heat is off, Hall lays in a bunch of knees, but Giant shrugs him off and knocks him right down to the mat. Hall charges, right into the arms of Giant, who slams him and stares down Nash. Hall walks right up and hocks a massive loogie in the eyes of the Giant, and turns things over to big Kev. The fans buzz, because this was still at a time where the prospect of super heavyweights doing battle was always the most exciting thing in wrestling. Nash lunges, but Giant starts throwing dropkicks at both guys like a 500 pound Cruiserweight, and the ring is cleared while the fans warn Sting he’d best exit the rafters cuz they’re about to blow the roof off. Giant follows them to the floor, ramming Nash spine first into the ring post. Back in, an elbowdrop gets 2, saved by Hall. While Hall gets given a lecture about fair play, Syxx comes off the top rope with a tag-team belt to the face of the Giant. Nash nails a big boot, allowing Hall to hit a bulldog off the top, and Nash dives in for 2. The fans chant for Luger while Syxx holds Giant hostage allowing the Outsiders to take turns laying in shots. Giant continues to fight back, and succeeds in knocking them both down with a pair of big boots. Syxx heads to the top rope, but Giant catches him this time and throws the pipsqueak at Nash like a weapon. Hall grabs the belt and nails Giant upside the head, and Giant falls into the arms of Nash who powerbombs him!!!!! LEX LUGER’s seen all he can stands, but ERIC BISCHOFF’s right behind him, waving his arms to alert him there’s no way he’s getting involved. Luger grabs him by the hair and throws him into the guardrail, and the fans are having multiple orgasms at this point. Luger leaps on the apron begging for a tag – and while history tells me I should be feeling VERY uneasy about this, Luger stays true to WCW and issues clotheslines to everyone! Nash, back destroyed from the powerbomb, gets caught in the Rack, and he taps immediately giving us NEW tag-team champions at 8:56! Just for the hell of it, Giant chokeslams Hall and demands a 3-count before both guys celebrate with the tag-team titles. Sadly, in light of the precedent set last month at Souled Out, they best not get too comfortable with them because you know this is getting reversed on Nitro tomorrow. **
HOLLYWOOD HOGAN (0-1-2) (with Ted Dibiase and Vincent) vs. RODDY PIPER (for the WCW world heavyweight title)
Piper arrives, absolutely filthy. Tell me something, why would his shirt be ripped in a bunch of places? It was just a week for god sakes; I see contestants on Survivor go home looking better than Hot Rod. Hogan cracks me up by stealing Piper’s kilt as soon as Roddy takes it off, and wiping his nose with it. Piper mumbles to himself, which everyone assumes is Gaelic. I think we’ll need to bring in Mr. and Mrs. Murray to get to the bottom of this once more on WCW Saturday Night this week. Off the bell, Hogan decides he’s not much interested in wrestling a man that smells as bad as Piper, and walks away. No kidding! Personal hygiene is just common courtesy. Piper hauls him back into the ring, and uppercuts the Hulkster right in the BrookeMaker. That’s followed by more classic wrestling holds, such as the choke with the shirt, and the gentle chair tap. Back in, Hogan goes low, but to quote Tony Schiavone: “HE DIDN’T EVEN FEEL IT!” Instead, he jumps on Hogan’s back, and paying homage to Lou Thesz, he bites Hogan in the eye. M WALLSTREET rushes in, but Piper knocks him out before he makes it over the ropes. Piper digs deep, remembering the lessons of Pat O’Connor, and pokes Hogan in the eyes. Of course, tributes wouldn’t be complete without harkening back to the days of George Hackenschmidt, where Piper hits a thundering Bear Clap. Hogan tries to leave again, but Piper hauls him back by the tights, revealing Hogan’s milky white ass. Hogan takes an atomic drop setup, but gets dropped on the top rope. STING and RANDY SAVAGE show up in the aisle now, and Savage wants to hit the ring. Sting tells him not tonight, and they turn away … except Sting misses that Savage has simply spun in a full circle and is heading back to ringside. Hogan gets control for the first time, throwing a series of punches, while Sting has continued to stand on the top of the ramp, staring coldly at the ring. Finally, he gets annoyed and leaves, but Savage keeps his position at ringside, cheering Piper on. Hogan rams Piper’s back into the ring post, and starts working over the hip. He heads back in, but Piper’s still got energy, clawing at Hogan’s eyes. Hogan stops him, and locks on a bear hug while talking shit to Savage the entire time. Piper drops, and Hogan decides to go for the Big Leg Drop – but he moves! Piper hammers at the champ, and puts on the Sleeper!! Hogan fights, but he drops to the mat, and Piper squeezes harder! The arm drops 3 times, and Piper is unbelievably announced as the World’s Heavyweight Champion at 10:19!!! But wait – Savage drags Hogan under the ropes AFTER the bell, and somehow the referee decides that, yes, his foot MUST have been under the ropes and thus the match continues. Savage slips a pair of brass knucks to Hogan, and Hollywood decks Roddy scoring the pin and retaining the belt at 11:00. Hogan and Savage break into a huge hug. What … the … fuck.
No. Just no. Hogan spent months torturing Savage with Liz, had his group beat him senseless on multiple occasions, destroyed his self-confidence, and pretty much ruined his life. While I watch Savage drop elbow after elbow on Piper, while Hogan joins in with non-stop legdrops, I’m not confused. I’m disgusted. This is lazy, miserable booking, because they put themselves in a corner where Piper couldn’t lose. And yes, Hogan and Savage are best friends in real life – but they have YEARS to kiss and make up when the wounds of the last war aren’t so bloody fresh. I’ve had enough of the nWo, they’ve literally taken over the company as they promised, but in the process they’ve made the main event angles completely unwatchable.
I’m reminded to tune in to Nitro, and I’ll have to make that decision later because I’m too annoyed.

Oh, and -* for the main event. Both guys should be embarrassed. I know I am.

WCW Worldwide: February 23, 1997

I set up a web form on KickOfFear.com, in the hopes that if there is ever any urgent news that needs to come my way, that you used it responsibly. Thankfully, mature readers like veteran keen-eyed BigDaddyLoco knew exactly the kind of critical, news-worthy information that I’m always on the lookout for:  Maybe you already know about this, but I just found out it existed today http://www.amazon.com/Craig-Pittman-WWE-Wrestling-Figure/dp/B000LXXA3U
BigDaddy, it pains me to say that my in-laws, who reside in Florida for 6 months a year are leaving on Monday, because this would all but certainly be coming home with them. Unfortunately, I’m a man of meager income, and the outrageous international shipping + customs is preventing us from being together. Despite its clear long-term collectors-value, there is absolutely zero chance anything with that much entertainment value would stay locked behind its plastic prison any longer. No sir, it would join my TV side Money in the Bank set, where he would lie permanently on his back beneath the toes of CM Punk, except for when my nephews visit, during which time it would reside in the 2-year old’s mouth.

Of course, this e-mail DID prompt me to see what Canada had to offer in the obscure wrestling action figure world. And … you know, sometimes, pictures (and price tags) are going to do this a whole lot more justice than my words, so have at it. http://www.amazon.ca/Kevin-Sullivan-Wrestling-Action-Figure/dp/B000M7RL4Y
Superbrawl might be hours away, but it doesn’t stop all the top stars from coming out to Disney MGM! Akira Hokuto! Kaoru! Ciclope!
“SOBER” BOBBY HEENAN” is pacing around the studio to the annoyance of TONY SCHIAVONE. But, he’s only doing it so that he can get into the same mindset as Hogan, working himself into an anxiety attack with Roddy Piper on the horizon.
MR. JL (0-7-0) vs. HORACE BOULDER (WCW debut)
JL has completely changed his look, basically looking like the other half of a Spy vs Spy mission with Top Gunn. Horace is making his debut in the company, but he brings with him some deep family ties. We could be in for a lot of Horace, if his cousin Mike Awesome starts flaunting his political powers. Of course, first he’ll have to do something about that hair.
I positively love the controlled studio audience of Disney MGM, because the fans stand up en masse, giving Horace the thumbs down and booing like crazy. The man hasn’t even debuted or given you a reason to hate him, and the fans have universally rejected him. And you know what? I’m with them. Horace sucks! He tosses JL around for awhile, until JL gets some comical offense, including a slam that looks like it throws his back out. Horace decides to stop selling it after a few seconds, and plans JL with a German suplex. A Scorpion Deathdrop is followed by a superplex, and Horace wins at 3:04. *
CHRIS JERICHO (7-1-0) vs. SCOTT ARMSTRONG (0-3-0)
Armstrong gets in the first blow, and that’s all he’s getting. A standing vertical suplex gets 2, while Tony grills Heenan about his relationship with the nWo for the 40th week in a row. As usual, Heenan stands his ground that he won’t join their group until Hogan’s gone. I admire Heenan’s consistency; even after Hogan turned his back on the company, Heenan refused to toe the usual heel commentary line, and stuck to his lifelong hatred of the man. A tornado bulldog gets a 2 count. Armstrong tries a slam, and winds up eating a spinning heel kick. A Lionsault sets up a missile dropkick, and Jericho continues to roll at 4:26. *1/2
PSYCHOSIS (1-3-1) vs. DALE HUNTER
I’ve got to assume Dale Hunter is this guy’s real name, because I can’t find any information on him, and using that name in the mid-90’s is completely ridiculous (even if it IS the South). I look forward to the soon to debut, completely original characters, Hakeem Olajuwon, Amani Toomer, and Kenny Dykstra. Psychosis tries to finish immediately with a hard dropkick, but Hunter kicks out at 2. Dale misses a roar elbow, and Psychosis flies in with a lightning fast spinning heel kick. A missile dropkick gets 2, and Hunter’s had enough of that, hitting a clothesline. A pumphandle slam is followed by a one fingered cover. This dude has a little moxie. Hunter lays one “directly into a bowl of Mrs. Guerrero’s chili”, while Heenan questions why no one ever bothers turning the mask around to blind the guy. Hunter somehow misses a flying jalapeno, going right OVER Psychosis’ head, but he’s a pro and sells it anyway. Then he immediately shrugs it off and finishes with a corkscrew senton at 3:28. Psychosis was on his game tonight, everything was crisp and sharp. **
MEIKO SATOMURA and SONOKO KATO vs. AKIRA HOKUTO and KAORU (1-0-0) (with Sonny Onoo)
Is Akira ever gonna defend that belt of hers? In fact, she never even seems to carry it to the shows. I’m thinking she lost it in Japan, and hasn’t had the stones to tell WCW she had an unauthorized title match. The Board of Directors might have a conniption if they catch wind of that one; and given all they do around the clock, maybe it’s best to keep them in the dark. At least until it’s dumped in the trash on RAW. Team Evil destroys the teenagers in a completely one-sided beatdown that’s met with crazy mad canned heat. Of course the actual fans seem to be more engaged with trying to locate Wildcat Willy, but that’s Disney for you. Hokuto accidently hits Kaoru with a crossbody block, allowing the faces to … Irish whip Kaoru. No, seriously, that’s it, they whipped her into the ropes, and immediately took a double missile dropkick from Hokuto. Moonsault from Kaoru finishes at 2:36. The heels refuse to stop, having far too much fun, so MADUSA saunters down to ringside and tells Hokuto she has a problem with her. A (completely embarrassing) slapping fight breaks out, so Sonny hauls his client away. Mayweather / Pacquiao it ain’t. 1/2*
MIGUEL PERES (1-0-0) vs. STEVE ARMSTRONG (0-2-0)
My copy of this is completely shot, which I’m sure is going to disappoint the legions of readers who, like me, need to know exactly what moves were used in this very important match up from 18 years ago. I can say that it looks like Peres managed to get the job done with an X-Rated Moonsault, in roughly 4 minutes.
CICLOPE (0-2-0) vs. REY MYSTERIO JR. (6-2-2)
In one of those moments where hindsight is clear, Rey Jr. was easily the most marketable cruiserweight the company had. They’re establishing a division, so diversity is good, but turning the belt back to Malenko time and again when this guy should have been the face of it for years was a mistake. I always consider the cruiserweights one of the big “What Ifs”, because if they’d been literally separated from the heavyweights from Day 1, and been marketed the same way UFC has done so, could we have ever seen pay-per-views headlined with these guys? I genuinely don’t know the answer to that question, but I like to believe if the Cruiserweight belt had been put on par with the World Title for the lightweights, that they could have done some serious business given the right storylines.
Rey makes sure to slap the hands of every single fan in the front row, before turning his attention to the one eyed monster. Rey works a crossface (Heenan: “He’s got him by the eye!!!”), but Ciclope escapes. A vertical suplex grounds Mysterio, but a follow up tombstone attempt is turned into a rana. Rey tries a second time – this time getting launched about 9 feet in the air before belly flopping. A dropkick is followed by a DDT, but Rey kicks out at 2. A military press into a throat-first hot shot knocks the wind out of Rey, and Ciclope works a headscissors to try and get a submission. Mysterio fights loose, and ducks a clothesline, hitting a springboard moonsault for 2! A pissy Ciclope hits a nasty Doctor Bomb for 2! They move to a camel clutch, with Ciclope continuing to try and knock the man out, or at least keep him winded from performing high flying moves. Rey wiggles loose, so Ciclope puts him on the top rope, and DDT’s him half-way across the ring for 2!!! Ye gods! Ciclope poses a sec, and that’s more than enough time for Rey to hit a spinning heel kick, because you can’t take your eyes off him for a second. A two-man slide sends Ciclope to the floor, and Rey’s all over him with a springboard plancha! Back in, West Coast Pop puts an end to this at 7:16! Rey Mysterio Jr. is fantastic, probably behind only Shawn Michaels and possibly Chris Benoit amongst performers in North America at this point. As long as his smile stays intact, we should see him plenty. ***1/2
Tony covers tonight’s pay-per-view main event, explaining that in a title match, if Piper wins, he captures the gold. Oh, you mean unlike Starrcade where it was completely implicated as a bait and switch, this time they mean it? CALL YOUR CABLE OPERATOR NOW!

WCW Saturday Night: February 22, 1997

WCW Saturday Night is brought to you by Valvoline. Cyborgs who know use VALVOLINE!
As we open with a clip of Hot Rod ranting and raving inside of an Alcatraz cell, fellow conspiracy theorist Dr. Unlikely comments on the recent decline in quality: I’m glad to see this still makes exactly as much sense today as it did 18 years ago. I recall thinking the Outsiders filming and presenting a tape of themselves actually trying to kill the Steiners hilarious at the time (in my memory of it, Rick leans out the window and barks at the Outsidermobile, but I can’t remember if that really happened now). I think I felt the same way about Piper speaking in Gaelic and Piper locking himself up with no food or water for seven days. So, basically, this is the point where I probably started ironically watching Nitro instead of truly enjoying it (matching up perfectly with Bret and Austin saving the WWF through sheer talent and force of will), which I’d do to the bitter end.

Bischoff is getting completely exposed as a one trick pony, and it’s been on display for nearly 2 months now. Somewhere, he lost the fact that great wrestling angles need a beginning, a middle, and an end. When the nWo first began, it was the hottest deal in television history because it legitimately appeared to be a WWF invasion. You had NO idea if Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, or even Vince McMahon was ready to join the Outsiders to take down WCW. Brilliantly executed. These guys were a real threat to their company, and they needed all hands on deck.
Then, the Giant turned. At that moment, it became a wrestling angle. This was a guy who was fighting tooth and nail to defend WCW, and was embarrassed on pay-per-view just a couple of weeks earlier. Can you imagine Shane Carwin and Brock Lesnar buddying up, even YEARS after their last fight? No – because real people don’t do that.
Ever since the nWo drive in December, it’s clear Bischoff very genuinely believes that the nWo is its own “brand”. This isn’t a line he’s touting on television, he actually thinks he could give the nWo their own program and it would draw like gangbusters. He’s completely lost sight of the fact that while yes, they have a pretty sleek t-shirt, the shirt isn’t the reason the fans care about this group. They love them because Hall and Nash are the cool kids everyone wants to buddy up to. They’re funny, they’re arrogant, they’re fresh. THIS is who they want to see when the porno music hits. Nobody gives a damn that Scott Norton gets to ride in the B-squad limo, except Eric Bischoff.
Out of creative ideas, and trying to recreate their bad-assedness, Bischoff decided “YES – vehicular homicide!” Except that, while we admittedly stretch the bounds of reality where our professional wrestling is concerned, this is absurd. There is no way that a couple of guys submit nationally televised evidence that they caused another car to roll off the highway and make it out of the arena in anything but a new pair of steel bracelets. Granted, Lieutenant James Earl has been tied up with that Fit Finlay murder-mystery for nearly a year, Buddy Lee Parker no longer seems interested in law enforcement, and Glacier’s too busy performing his entrance to notice, but there MUST be more cops on the planet, right?
On its own, it’s atrocious. However, the minute you pair that with Roddy Piper, the people’s fighting champion who has decided to lock himself in Alcatraz as an effort to sell a fight, it’s clear this company has derailed. It’s nothing that can’t be fixed with a couple of weeks of good booking; but they keep making these mistakes, and have been since Starrcade.
I love WCW. The June through October shows were amongst the very best produced television you’ll ever see. The expanding Cruiserweight division, a suddenly loaded midcard (with Prince fucking Iaukea carrying the TV title! Don’t think for a second the preceding paragraphs weren’t brought on by this!) and a new crop of main eventers, there is NO reason they shouldn’t have been able to run out quality production for the next 5 years with THIS roster alone! The possibilities are endless. And it’s a little depressing to know that these moments of Bad Judgment are *nothing* in the grand scheme of things, and somehow this company that can do no wrong is 4 years from being 6 feet under.
However, for the time being, it’s still 1997, things are still rolling, and there IS some pretty great TV on the horizon, so let’s have at it. Take us away TONY SCHIAVONE and DUSTY RHODES. Dusty believes Piper needs to check himself into a Minnow Institution.
VILLANO 4 (1-1-0) vs. REY MYSTERIO JR. (5-2-2)
My copy of this match has gone through rough and rigors known as VHS, so the commentary comes across as a poorly produced Youtube rap video starring Dusty Rhodes. Internet – you have your mission. Villano misses a senton, but doesn’t miss a powerslam, getting 2. A moonsault off the top misses Rey by about 12 feet, and Rey’s all over him with a springboard rana for the win at 2:44.
DEAN MALENKO (8-1-2) vs. MARK STARR (1-5-0) (in a non-title match)
Over the past year, WCW has built this incredible Cruiserweight division from scratch. It’s the kind of thing you could set on your mantle and admire for the rest of your life. However, some genius (and I ASSUME it’s the same person who decided that Prince Iaukea would make a fine TV champ) has decided that it would mean more for the title if, instead of defending it on television, the champion make a stand against the heavyweight division. You know, all the top names, like Mike Enos, Robbie Brookside, and now Mark Starr. He hasn’t defended the belt since he won it 32 days ago – and that includes WCW Pro! And NO, I don’t care that Syxx stole the belt, a “title” is a TITLE, like Doctor, or Meng. You earn it. The title is secondary to being called Champ. If you’re that concerned about the gold, file a police report (and while you’re at it, mention the Steiners wouldja?), and get it back! Goddamn. Anyway, Union turncoat Mark Starr takes the early advantage, working over Malenko with an often unseen intensity. Malenko responds by dropping Starr on the back of his head, and gets 2. Dean whips out his small package, but it doesn’t score. The Texas Cloverleaf does the job though, and Malenko wins at 4:05. Post-match Malenko grabs the microphone, and puts all 2000 people in attendance to sleep. *
JERRY FLYNN (0-4-0) vs. PRINCE FUCKING IAUKEA (1-1-0) (for the WCW world television title)
Dusty takes a moment to talk to us about pride. “If you have no pride as a wrestlah, and don’t feel like you can take on Genghis Khan, then you’re not an Americahn, or a Euro Peein’, or whatever country you from.” Jerry Flynn has earned this title shot on account of his perfect record since entering WCW in December. Iaukea gets his ass kicked for what feels like 87 minutes straight, but he manages to dodge a spin kick and hits a Northern Lights suplex. Superfly Splash gets the win at 2:33. Even the canned heat doesn’t care about this guy. DUD
Here’s a chance to get Up Close and Personal with KEVIN SULLIVAN and JACQUELINE. Jackie has such trash talk as “Nancy, you think you got yo self a real man? I have a real man!” and “Nancy turn yo back, and now she with Chris Ben Wah.” I feel like she means it.
KEVIN SULLIVAN (6-1-0) (with Jacqueline and Jimmy Hart) vs. JOHNNY SWINGER (0-1-0)
TEDDY LONG weighs in on the situation, by reminding Jackie while she’s known Kevin for 10 years, that he’s known Kevin for 20! He tells Jackie that Sullivan has quit on himself, quit on Nancy, and someday, he’ll quit on her too. I sense some jealousy dude. Just drop the ruse, and make your love triangle into a tag-team match, playa. Jackie slaughters Swinger on the floor, while Sullivan swivels his hips in her direction. Where the hell was the network censor?!? This is a FAMILY program, and I don’t need to watch Sullivan parade his rapidly tightening tights around like a puppet show! The usual finishes at 3:09.  DUD
DIAMOND DALLAS PAGE (5-1-0) vs. BUNKHOUSE BUCK (0-1-0)
A front row STUNT GRANNY celebrates capturing DDP’s t-shirt. Then she winks at him, and she’ll join him for pizza later. I wish social media had existed in the late 90’s, primarily for the potential of THIS particular roster. Tony Schiavone opening up a poll on the WCW app to determine “what does Bunkhouse Buck smell like?” is exactly the kind of lost opportunities we’re seeing with the death of this once fine company. Diamond Cutter at 2:13, please drive through. DUD
LEE MARSHALL grabs our weekly DDP soundbyte. Lee Marshall asks Page about his involvement with Bubba? Page says he feels awful about what happened. He saw the tape, and he finds it incredible that someone was able to sneak up behind the nWo and take out one of their guys. He doesn’t ever want to see anyone permanently damaged, or taken away in an ambulance. “It looks like it’s gonna be a Par Tay in San Francisco for DDP … but Bubba, get well soon, I really feel for you brother.” Our beloved Tony the Tiger is left speechless.
EDDIE GUERRERO (7-3-2) vs. JIM POWERS (1-1-0) (in a non-title match)
Powers lets us know he’s taking this match seriously, by nodding his head seriously and making an angry face. Did he and Teddy break up? Why wasn’t this addressed? Gene’s really dropped the ball since signing his new deal last fall, I’m not impressed. Eddie ties up the juice monkey like a docked sailboat, including a rarely seen Lasso from El Paso! An armbar fails to draw a tap out, so Eddie goes to the slingshot senton instead, yielding 2. Powers starts the comeback with a knee lift, and a whiffed dropkick is sold for 2. Powers steals one from Eddie’s playbook, using the standing vertical suplex, but Eddie won’t stay down. Eddie blocks an avalanche with a knee, and quickly hits a tornado DDT to set up the Frog Splash at 5:47. Good little scrum. **
LEE MARSHALL starts quoting Mary Shelley to introduce THE GIANT, which I’m afraid is far too high level for this show and this audience. The big man says he’s not an nWo creation, but a “real life fire breathing Giant”. Look, he’s been SAYING that for over a year, but I have yet to see him prove it. I’m starting to think he’s a liar, or a circus performer who is respectful of arena fire codes.
HARLEM HEAT (7-1-2) (with Sista Sherri) vs. DOC DEAN and ROBBIE BROOKSIDE
I’m not thinking the Brits are gonna get a whole lot of love here. In fact, outside of the stop and go Steven Regal pushes over the years, the Brits just aren’t respected on a North American level in pro-wrestling. That’s the ONLY reason I can come up with regarding the lack of support for one David Taylor. Big Apple just tears right through Brookside at 2:09. Stevie Ray spits all over the camera after the match. 1/2*
A pissy Sherri starts screaming at LEE MARSHALL, demanding tag-team title shots. Does she think he’s Eric Bischoff in a fake moustache? Lee can’t help you! Booker promises that they’re gonna go through each solitary sucka to get the gold back one more time.
CHRIS BENOIT (5-3-0) (with Woman) vs. RICK FULLER (0-1-0)
You, the Internet, can cry all the crocodile tears you want about Benoit not getting higher profile stuff. I don’t care, I could happily watch him work away with the Rick Fullers and Road Blocks of the world. Fuller goes for an Outsiders Edge right away, and as Woman screams bloody murder, Benoit slides off the back. Fuller’s energy doesn’t let up, as he chops away and drops Chris with a spin kick. A fantastic looking kneedrop to the face gets 2. Finally, the big guy misses an elbow, and now he’s got a pissed off Canadian with a mean streak coming at him. Fuller gets in a shot and heads to the top, but Benoit gorilla slams him off the top(!!!), before finishing with the swandive at 2:13. Tony: “Chris Benoit hit his head VERY hard that time!” And that’s putting it mildly, dude gave himself a shiner in the process. Watching him with the power of forward vision can be a little hard at times; because the guy tried so hard to be the greatest performer of his time that he turned his brain into porridge, even on these pointless Saturday Night shows. *1/2
LEE MARSHALL welcomes RIC FLAIR for a live arena appearance. I always love watching him emerge from the Cyborg Factory, stepping through the cloud of smoke, while Also Sprach Zarathustra plays him through. It’s like the emergence of a King, and the crowd are his loyal servants. Flair doesn’t think Hogan’s gonna have the stones to step in the ring with Piper tomorrow night. Now, concerning Jarrett and Mongo, he says he christened Jarrett months ago, and if he can beat Mongo tomorrow night, he’s in the group no matter what the other guys think about it. And, speaking of guys who are in, “Love Machine” Chris Benoit is gonna tear Kevin Sullivan to pieces.
KONAN (6-3-1) (with Jimmy Hart) vs. JEFF JARRETT (8-1-0)
The fans have absolutely no love for either one of these guys, and turn completely on this match with such force the Canned Heat doesn’t even bother trying to balance it out. Konan takes early control, so I guess Jarrett’s our face tonight. A sitdown dropkick gets 2, despite Konan’s whines to the contrary. Jarrett slams Konan’s head to the buckle, and a cradle gets 2. Jarrett calls for the Figure Four, but Jimmy trips him up and Konan’s all over him. A super axehandle is blocked by Jarrett, and a sidewalk slam gives Jarrett another chance to finish. Instead, he opts to punch Hart in the face, and being the first guy in history to somehow NOT have this be enough distraction to lose, he goes for the Figure Four. KEVIN SULLIVAN and JACQUELINE save, because Konan don’t do no clean jobs, and that’s a DQ at 3:51CHRIS BENOIT and WOMAN rush down, but Jackie brandishes a strap and … we take a break before anything happens.
The show closes with Piper’s Alcatraz interview aired in full. Our announcers don’t even bother saying so long, or remind us to order the pay-per-view.

Superbrawl’s tomorrow, and while I’m not real fussy about the build-up, there’s 2 big items that could make the show one to remember. 1) Roddy Piper capturing his elusive first World Title from Hogan. This would even the playing field a little and give WCW some much needed momentum. Or, alternatively, 2) Hogan cheats his ass off to retain, denying Piper in his last big chance, setting the table for the Sting beatdown we’ve been waiting for since the fall. And when it does … I’m getting chills just thinking about the delicious possibilities. This seems too good to screw up, right?

WCW Nitro: February 17, 1997

One year ago this week: Fit Finlay’s moustache gave Brad Armstrong a beating so vicious his calories were fed to him intravenously for a month, on the February 17th edition of Saturday Night. Wait, does Brad have an alibi the night Fit Finlay went missing? James Earl Wright may have to re-open the investigation. On the February 19th Nitro, Arn Anderson beat Hulk Hogan for a second time. I would gently remind the readers of this fact every 8 words for the next 6 months. Somehow, this led to the birth of the Booty Booty Booty Man. Over on the February 19th Prime, Sting and Craig Pittman wrestled for 12 minutes, so you can probably skip this one. Click through those, and come back when you’re ready.
We are one week away from Superbrawl – and going head to head against a live two-hour RAW for the first time, WCW better be prepared to load up the boot and give the competition the KICK OF FEAR they so richly deserve. Speaking of, I have finally moved all of my content over to my website, KickOfFear.com. I’ll try to remember to plug it periodically since the entire point was to have an easy to access archive of all the Faces of Fear love one can handle in just 250 easy to read pieces. I haven’t “officially” launched it, however. I toyed with the idea of backfilling the January-July 1996 Worldwide archives to kick off the site, before settling on what I assume will be the more popular option of doing a written recap of Bash at the Beach 1996. But rest assured, this was a much more difficult choice than you could ever begin to imagine.

Anyway, THE NEW WORLD ORDER shows up, sans Hollywood Hogan, Eric Bischoff, Masa Chono, or nWo Sting. I don’t know why the elite team always has to isolate themselves. The boys walk together as a team, but someone’s fallen behind. These precious few seconds are ample time for Big Bubba to lie on the ground unconscious, as First Responded Kevin Nash looks him over. How’s his blood count? Are his blood sugars out of control? Blood pressure should be checked, and I don’t want to start rumors but I think he might want to consider peeing on a stick or conducting an ultra-sound. Anemia can’t be ruled out. And what of vertigo? Is Dr. Harvey Schiller here? We need a professional.
LIVE from Tampa Bay, Florida, TONY SCHIAVONE and LARRY ZBYSZKO maliciously accuse Scott Norton of being the fallen soldier.
REY MYSTERIO JR. (4-2-2) vs. SUPER CALO (1-5-0)
Tony Schiavone excitedly announces that we’re taking a field trip to Alcatraz later! Roddy Piper is a special attraction on the island, having locked himself in solitary confinement for his training. And no, I am not making any of that up. I don’t appreciate WCW paying such little heed to a wrestler’s record before booking a match. Calo seems outmatched in every way except the hat and sunglasses department. In what initially looks like a fun spot, Calo tries an over the top rope sunset flip on Mysterio who’s chillin’ on the apron, but as he goes for the powerbomb, he spots a foot short from the actual delivery to pick Rey back up – presumably because he meant to hit a rana. So on take two, Rey snaps at the legs, but Calo lets go, and Rey tumbles backwards. Someone’s been greasing his toque, I reckon. Calo hits a slingshot somersault plancha, and rolls Rey back in for 2.
Backstage, BIG BUBBER is rolled into an ambulance. M WALLSTREET takes the enviable task of riding in the ambulance for morale support, because it means he won’t be sent out for job duty. Tony promises to keep a breast on this story.
Back in the ring, Rey is casually doing his business, hitting a little springboard senton backsplash like it ain’t nothing but a g thang. Calo gets strung out between the ropes, and Rey murders him with a legdrop off the top, crushing his head like a peanut. Of course, this is 1997, so it gets 2. Rey goes up to finish, but Calo crotches him and hits the super headscissors for 2. Tony blames the lack of pin on cockiness. He went right for it – what more do you want? West Coast Pop is academic, and Rey takes ‘er down at 6:02. ***
HUGH MORRUS (7-2-0) vs. MONGO MCMICHAEL (0-1-0) (with Debra and Haliburton)
Tony alertly updates us that the Steiner Brothers were in a car accident over the weekend, but we don’t know the details. Well hell, they promised us updates on Sunday morning, does ANYONE watch WCW Pro? As it turns out, YES, as Kick of Fear correspondent CRZ sent us, courtesy of solie.org, courtesy of 18 years ago:
The report at the top of the program is that there still isn’t much information available about the automobile accident involving the Steiners. Of course this is a taped program (as was the one yesterday)…they seem to be looking for a way to take them out of SuperBrawl.
That should answer everyone’s questions. Meanwhile, Mongo is beating the tar out of Morrus. A pair of 3 point stances have Morrus crippled, but he is expected to make a full recovery within 8 seconds. A missed elbowdrop has Morrus threatening to feel up Debra, but because cameras are rolling, he doesn’t follow through. If this was the Power Plant, he’d be having his way with her in the back while telling Mongo repeatedly he’s a Fat Angry Guy, and other inappropriate acronyms. Morrus heads up for No Laughing Matter, but Mongo drops him with an electric chair. Morrus slams Mongo again, so Debra distracts the referee as she slides the Haliburton to Mongo. No Laughing Matter flies right into the steel, and Mongo rolls him over for the pin at 4:23. 1/2*
Over in the announce booth, Tony reminds us that he cannot pull off powder blue.
DEAN MALENKO (7-1-2) vs. ROBBIE BROOKSIDE (no data in 1997) (in a non-title match)
Malenko sucks up to the locals, reminding us Syxx was trained just up the road by his father, and by god if he has his way on Sunday, he’ll prove you should never steal other people’s property. This was delivered with exactly the range and energy you’d expect from Dean Malenko. And that’s all the attention I’m paying to this drek. Robbie Brookside has a time and a place, and that’s WCW Worldwide, where Bobby Heenan is free to make fun of the lanky hippie to his heart’s content. I probably SHOULD care since he’s apparently a hell of an NXT trainer; but just because Rafael Belliard might be one hell of a first base coach, it doesn’t mean I want to see him and his .390 OPS ever again. Texas Cloverleaf at 2:54. DUD
SYXX grabs a microphone and wants to settle the score with Malenko. He says he had plenty of respect for his father, but he’s dead and buried, and with it the respect, because he never liked Dean anyway. Dean responds by staring blankly and doing nothing at all. This feud is PERSONAL!
After a break, Syxx returns with THE OUTSIDERS, going straight for the announce booth. Hall: “Wow, Larry Zbyszko. I thought you’d be bigger. You and Schiavone gossip like a couple of broads sitting around a hair salon.” They deny any involvement in the Steiners auto accident this past weekend. In fact, they’ve acquired a MYSTERIOUS VIDEO TAPE! Random VHS tapes are like Tony’s Christmas, so while he starts daydreaming about all the potential this tape may hold (spoiler: Roddy Piper’s German music video), Scott Hall finally pushes Larry to the brink and he wants to fight! Hall rips off his shirt and tells him to bring it, but Larry realizes the danger of seeing the two other guys lurking right beside him and backs off, to a massive “LARRY!” chant. That was one of those moments that came across as a genuine burst of emotion, and it’s exactly why it worked.
THE AMAZING FRENCH CANADIANS (1-4-0) (with Colonel Robert Parker) vs. THE PUBLIC ENEMY (2-1-0)
THE FACES OF FEAR have taken a seat in front of the guardrail tonight, meaning they’re getting wiser and realize they don’t actually have to buy tickets in order to scout their opponents. As is tradition, the Canadians ask the fans to join them in a rousing rendition of O Canada. That’s right – ask, not demand. That’s the Canadian difference right there. Americans, not used to this level of politeness, boo all over their emotion laden effort, and even Tony can’t just SHUT UP. Also, HARLEM HEAT and SISTA SHERRI are also sitting ringside. Of course, they have coleslaw for brains and purchased their seats. The Enemy gets dumped early, allowing the Colonel to stomp on Johnny Grunge’s jelly rolls. Rougeau slams Ouellette on Grunge, while Tony announces that they will NOT up and stop this match to air the mysterious VHS tape. I’d praise them for their progressive approach, but I’m not convinced they won’t up and stop a much more interesting match later instead. Grunge gets the hot tag, but the referee was busy with the Colonel, and he won’t allow it. The Quebec Crash misses (how in the hell do you miss a move where one guy is slamming another?!?), and Rock gets tagged in for real. He sends Ouellette to the floor, where Grunge tries to set him on the table. Ouellette fights free, but Rougeau in an attempt to make everything better inadvertently hits his friend in the face with an International Object. Rock hits the senton through the table, and Ouellette is rolled back in for the easy win at 4:43. I don’t like either one of these teams, but I liked this. What I like even more is the post-match word from the Faces of Fear, in which they passionately point out a great many things; but they do it in Tongan so as to keep it under their proverbial hats. **
DIAMOND DALLAS PAGE and “MEAN” GENE OKERLUND bump into each other on the ramp-way. He asks if DDP knows who Pearl Harboured Big Bubba Rogers (first appearance of the Rogers name in … what, 2 years?). Gene actually seems angry about this. nWo Stooge! I hope Gene exposes himself on the 900 line. DDP feigns total innocence, and says he’s now deeply concerned about his wellbeing (while showing all the emotion of one Dean Malenko). He plays with his Battle Bowl Ring awkwardly and eventually wanders backstage to watch the “Pee Wee Herman and Nick Patrick” matchup.
PRINCE IAUKEA (0-1-0) vs. STEVEN REGAL (3-1-3) (for the WCW world television title)
Regal stops for a quick chat with Gene, who still hasn’t moved from his position. He asks Regal if he’s planning to make an example out of Prince Iaukea to set the mood for his Superbrawl defense against Rey Mysterio Jr. Regal reminds us he’s been a fighting champion from the minute he took the gold from Lex Luger, and vows to continue to defend his title against anyone, anywhere, anytime. And then he immediately defeats Prince Iaukea and remains TV champion forever.
You don’t believe me, do you? To be fair, I made this assumption because I didn’t actually want to watch this match. I mean, Iaukea? He’s not worth my time right? And nobody in their right mind could possibly be stupid enough to book this match any other way?
For the sake of completeness, I’m going to face this. I’m going to do it for you. But understand, this hurts me more than you could ever realize. My heart is already racing, I’ve broken out in a cold sweat, and my head is pounding like bongo.
Tony mentions they are working hard to play that nWo tape, but because it’s a VHS-C, they need to find an adaptor. I love the 90’s so much. Who didn’t love trying to record an Important Life Event and have to decide which parts of it weren’t important enough to merit the record button in an effort to save time (you had all of 30-40 minutes tops), and battery life (you had all of 3-5 minutes tops). The concept of a Smart Phone probably would have put me in a coma just trying to think about it. Yes, I’m stalling. Just like the man, Lord Steven Regal, TV champion extraordinaire! Iaukea hits a shoulderblock and makes various Island Martial Arts poses. Regal should just stomp on his feet repeatedly for being stupid enough not to wear shoes, but I imagine WCW would tell us those calloused Island Feet don’t feet pain or something. Regal takes over, and beats the snot out of Prince. Somehow Prince fails to understand how to sell a front suplex, and falls backwards while Regal tries to put him on the top rope. Regal repeats the spot, and launches the dumbass off the top with a butterfly superplex. REY MYSTERIO JR. wanders on to the stage, while Regal pretends his heart is bleeding. After a little more pounding, he lays on Iaukea like a hammock while taunting Rey … and Iaukea pulls him back crucifix style for the pin and the kickoff of the rapture at 3:33. Regal rightly freaks out, completely horrified that this just happened. For some reason, TEDDY LONGEDDIE GUERRERO, and THE PUBLIC ENEMY rush down to celebrate with the new champion. That’s … quite the collection of people who have nothing in common.
So you’re probably, rightfully, asking just what the fuck? Prince Iaukea? And that’s exactly what Eric Bischoff wanted. To counter the WWF’s new surprise Hawaiian champion, Rocky Maivia, somehow WCW took one look at Prince Iaukea and said “yes, that’s the same”. Forget the fact that you have a SUPER marketable foreign superstar already lined up for a title shot with a world of credibility and rabid fanbase (‘sup Rey Jr.), and if you really wanted to get cute you could try something creative like Glacier (I don’t like it but at least he’s over), La Parka (despite a handful of appearances, dude’s got killer charisma), or hell, just make ME happy and let Meng, Barbarian, and Regal fight in three way matches from now until the end of time (RIP WCW 2001). In a series of bad booking decisions in 1997 (and we’re only mid-February), this one is the absolute worst of the year to date. And this is a company that had Eric Bischoff mack with a 70 year old on pay-per-view! I can’t look at this objectively, and I don’t care. -*****
MIKE TENAY and “SOBER” BOBBY HEENAN join Tony, while Larry heads off to talk smack about the WWF in the hopes they put him in the hall of fame someday.
NICK PATRICK vs. RANDY ANDERSON
Showing how seriously these men are taking this match, neither guy bothers to change out of their referee garb. Mike Tenay tells us that Randy Anderson was actually a fantastic amateur in college, and was never pinned in his 5 years of competition. Where the hell does he find this stuff out? Just as the match starts, referee JIMMY JETT pats down Anderson, and slips him a pair of brass knucks. Patrick winds up the old windmill, but Pee Wee decks him in the face and gets his job back at 0:37.
An absolutely livid ERIC BISCHOFF storms down to ringside, and demands answers immediately. He says as a former referee, he knows better that to use illegal objects. “You just won a permanent vacation, and YOU are fired.” I guess we’re down to … Mark Curtis, Randy Eller, and Scott Dickenson? I think Brady Boone moonlights on occasion, but that’s it. Dickenson doesn’t have the tenure to pull a powerplay, and Mark Curtis is probably just thrilled he’s going to get more ring-time. But Randy Eller’s got a once in a lifetime chance to make some real coin. The demand for straight officials is at an all-time high, and the money is flowing like champagne in the Turner offices. Hold that sum’bitch up! I know you can do it, Randy Eller!
ROAD BLOCK (2-1-0) vs. CHRIS BENOIT (4-3-0) (with Woman)
I can feel the RSPW knee buckling orgasmic response to this matchup, even 18 years later. It’s nice to see Benoit finally treated with the type of competition he deserves. Also thrilled, is a stone faced GEORGE STEINBRENNER, sitting with who I presume to be one of his AWFUL GRANDCHILDREN. And before anyone asks (over and over for the next 8 months, not that any of you folks would ever do such a thing), no, I have no proof or personal anecdotal evidence to prove the Grandchild is awful. It just is. Also, Tony tells us the “great” Brian Boehringer is here. And to be fair, if you want to point out that he did successfully lower his ERA by 8 runs per game in 1996 down to much more flattering 5.44, then yes, he’s incredible. In fact, if he can show that kind of improvement in 1997 and force his opponents to give up 3 runs a game, I’ll become a hall of fame lobbyer with more drive than Jayson Stark’s campaign to get Tim Raines elected. Roadblock stops everything to talk smack to Woman, but she proves she’s afraid of NO ONE and slaps him across the face! He gives chase, but Benoit nails him with a tope and beats him down right in front of a delighted George Steinbrenner! Benoit rolls the big man back in and finishes with the swandive at 2:25. I’m pretty sure Road Block actually kicked out. Maybe Randy Eller IS crooked after all. You know Randy, I used to believe in you (as recently as one paragraph ago). I’ll never trust again. *
Meanwhile, Craig Leathers has found a VHS-C adaptor. We’re taking an amateur road trip with THE OUTSIDERS, while the camera is held by an unseen SYXX. They spy THE STEINERS at a gas station, and start to follow them. The Steiners show no regard for the law, refusing to come to a complete stop at three separate stop-signs. Nash shows us how it’s done, before gunning it through a school zone to keep pace with them. A bumper to bumper French kiss gets their attention, and Scott Steiner throws a coffee cup at the nWo car. They wind up side-by-side with them, and a nudge sends the Steiners flying off the side of the road, flipping the car completely. The edit to change to a stunt car was impressive actually; it looked like one fluid motion; but the beauty of VHS for this type of stuff is that fast movement causes blips in the tape, and they used that to make the swap. I’m not sure how I feel about vehicular homicide being introduced to my professional wrestling – but high praise for the editing tricks.
Back live, Tony demands that someone check in on the Steiners – deeply concerned for their wellbeing! Of course, we learned about the crash on Saturday Night, so he’s got the reactionary skills of a catatonic in-patient.
KEVIN SULLIVANJACQUELINE, and JIMMY HART want a word with “MEAN” GENE OKERLUND because this angle won’t ever die. Sullivan battles Benoit at Superbrawl. It was a year ago that Pillman quit, and Sullivan turned his attention to Chris, and yet this is STILL going. Hart tells us that Sullivan and Jackie are 2 Legit 2 Quit. Kevin’s mad that Nancy forced him to move out of the ‘hood, but now with his freedom back he’s gone back to his roots. Gene accused Jackie of being a home wrecker (WHAT?!?), and she brags about happily taking Nancy’s place. Also, Nancy has a Big Fat Butt. Oh Christ.
KEVIN SULLIVAN (5-1-0) (with Jacquline and Jimmy Hart) vs. DOC DEAN
Oh sure, Sullivan gets to run wild over a legitimately fantastic European star, while Regal’s off jobbing to useless Samoans. Tenay somehow completely ignores Doc’s resume, while Sullivan and Jackie take turns teeing off on him. This just makes me sad. Tree of woe, double stomp, let’s move on at 3:19. DUD
KONAN (6-2-1) vs. EDDIE GUERRERO (6-3-2) (for the WCW United States title)
Dudes, we just did this on Saturday Night. And because I like to pick and choose which matches deserve re-matches and which don’t, you can guess which side I land on when it comes to anything featuring Konan or Eddie Guerrero V1.0. Apparently Konan has been on an anti-Eddie crusade lately, as a fake Latino because he never lived “on the streets”. These guys need Valets, they’d be the AAA version of Benoit/Sullivan. No, Maxx and Chavo don’t count. Konan comes off the top, but takes a dropkick to the gut. Eddie takes a snake eyes, but Konan can’t keep him down. Tenay says that Konan has become the Arn Anderson of the Dungeon – and if this is true, can HE retire too? Eddie hits a brainbuster, but before he hits the Frog Splash Konan cuts him off. Eddie shoves him off, and nails the Frog Splash, drawing in THE FACES OF FEAR for an ass whoopin at 6:09CHRIS JERICHO runs in to save Eddie, single handedly taking on the Faces of Fear. He manages to clear the ring, and has earned himself another year of vitriol from myself. *1/2
The Shank of the Evening comes startlingly late in the program, but “MEAN” GENE OKERLUND has finally found time to talk to THE FOUR HORSEMEN with DEBRA and WOMAN. Good to see Arn back on Nitro. Flair brags about the scent of excitement in the air because he’s in town. It smells like champagne and Cialis. WOOO! Arn addresses Mr. Bischoff (showing respect because he IS still the boss, good man), telling him that the character of the men he hired to work in WCW hasn’t changed. They’re still men. And, one of the nWo guys is in the hospital, Jimmy Jett did the right thing, he sees WCW turning things around. Where Randy Anderson is concerned; he figures he’s got a spare $100,000 lying around and as an old friend, he’s welcome to it any time. Mongo heels it up, trashing the Bucs, before turning things to Jarrett. He demands to know where Debra’s head is at. She says Jarrett’s a winner, with strength, endurance, and intelligence. She still sees him as a Four Horsemen in training. Meanwhile, Benoit promises to kick down the door of Kevin Sullivan’s “neighborhood” and take him out for good. Throughout the interview, I was actually watching Benoit and Nancy intently, and I noticed that he gently squeezed her waist and held her exceptionally close throughout the interview. It’s subtle, but it’s the kind of intimate closeness you don’t see with most wrestling “couples”; and with a comfort this pair has never shown on television to this point. The shades of grey are getting darker, and knowing what we do now, it’s fairly obvious that lines have been crossed and the angle is no longer just an angle.
THE GIANT (3-0-2) vs. TOP GUNN and JOHNNY SWINGER (in a handicap match)
Normally, I would demand that jobbers know their place – but the return of Top Gunn has me so bloody excited that I’m blind to the fact that this is Nitro. Sadly, my happiness is short lived via a Chokeslam to both guys at 0:42. Just perfect booking for him right now, it’s the same deal as Luger, just feed him losers and let the fans lose their shit while they bide their time before their next shot at Hogan. And lose their shit they did, the response here was incredible for an absolutely pointless match. Giant spraypaints “Hall” and “Nash” on the backs of the job squad.
“MEAN” GENE OKERLUND and LEX LUGER (with his arm in a cast) come down to celebrate with The Giant. Giant is cool facing the Outsiders all by himself this Sunday, but Lex has a curveball. He has a doctors release to wrestle this Sunday as long as his arm is in a protective device, and promises that Chokeslams and Racks are going to be all the rage this weekend. ERIC BISCHOFF, ever the blue-baller, tells Luger he’s 167 hours late with the release, and the company has deadlines it needs to abide by. As a result, Luger can’t wrestle. Lex says Bischoff can’t control everything, and he’ll happily buy a plane ticket, rent a hotel room, and buy a ticket to get in the building. Bischoff tells him if he keeps it up, he’ll happily fire him.
Meanwhile, over in Alcatraz, RODDY PIPER has been locked in a cell. He asks Hogan if he’s ever asked himself why Roddy was on the street at 13. He says he was dead inside; and Hogan’s managed to push him back to that point. “You are the most low-life piece of snake I’ve ever seen, telling people I hide behind my little boy.” Piper asks what happened to the vitamins and the prayers. I can’t even do justice to the rest of the rantings here, because none of it makes *any* sense. He’s gone completely off the rails, going on about how Hogan took his hip replacement away or something. He promises to stay locked up for the next 7 days, where he’ll train and wait to get his hands on Hogan. They were on totally the right track with Piper as a family man, needing that last shot at Hogan as a means of revenge for trying to humiliate him, but they should have played it straight and kept him as Just A Guy looking for his moment (which Terry Funk has played to a tee on The Other Channel).  This Alcatraz stuff just doesn’t fly with me.
CHRIS JERICHO (6-1-0) vs. JEFF JARRETT (8-0-0)
We’re long past 10pm at this point, but we’re showing no signs of quit. DEBRA MCMICHAEL makes her way to ringside to root Jarrett on, as he hits Jericho with a slingshot suplex. A sleeper is countered with a backdrop suplex. La Majistral gets 2. Jarrett takes back over to Debra’s delight, but MONGO MCMICHAEL joins us now to tell her to get the hell away from the ring. Jericho hits a short powerbomb, and heads up to finish, but stops to listen to Debra’s pleas not to hurt Jarrett. He ignores them, but the distraction gives Jarrett enough time to avoid the senton, and a Figure Four is slapped on. As the referee tells Debra to piss off, Mongo smacks Jarrett with the Halibuton, and Jericho ends Jarrett’s winning streak at 2:32. Debra’s livid, but Mongo reminds her that he has to wrestle Jarrett in a week and to get the hell over it. *

Tony goes to wrap things up, but HOLLYWOOD HOGAN isn’t ready to close the show without saying hi. He’s flanked by SCOTT NORTONBUFF BAGWELLM WALLSTREETELIZABETHVINCENTTED DIBIASE, and ERIC BISCHOFF. There’s all of 2 minutes left, so I’m not sure we’re gonna get anything constructive out of this. Hogan masturbates furiously while Bischoff intently tells him what he wants to see, until STING and RANDY SAVAGE appear at the top of the ramp. Hogan just ignores them, and because they aren’t getting any attention, they just head backstage, disappointed, without saying a word. I’ve seen that look before. My 4-year old nephew does that when nobody answers his pleas to check out his new Thomas the Tank Engine. Satisfied, Hogan stops now, and Eric wishes the fans a goodnight. 

WCW Worldwide: February 16, 1997

Horsemen4ever: Didn’t Sledgehammer enter WCW with a record of 9-1-1?
*Standing ovation*
The Sunday Morning Wars are starting to take over the wrestling world. While the WWF has decided to run with recaps and footage of people setting up the ring for the pay-per-view tonight, WCW is loading up the shotgun and firing out some of the biggest names available today. Do you want to see Hulk Hogan? Randy Savage? Sting? The Outsiders? OF COURSE NOT! Not when Billy Kidman, Alex Wright, Mieko Satomara, and Malya Hosaka are around!
TONY SCHIAVONE and “SOBER” BOBBY HEENAN hype tonight’s main event; where the Faces of Fear take on Chris Benoit and Arn Anderson, who’s somehow found the strength to roll off the operating table and ignore his near-crippling career ending neck injury to compete for YOU.

BILLY KIDMAN (1-4-0) vs. JERRY FLYNN (0-3-0)
Tony: “Here’s a young man getting a lot of wins as of late!” … then to send the ridiculousness into overdrive: “Jerry Flynn’s another young man with a lot of kickboxing experience.” For god sakes he’s all of 3 years younger than “up and comer” Diamond Dallas Page. Flynn decides to go the route of not selling anything for the anorexic cruiserweight. A spinning heel kick provides him plenty of time to yell at the fans. Kidman comes back with a crossbody for 2, and Flynn immediately pops up and kicks away at Kidman’s ribs. Kidman uses some sad punches to the midsection, but they’re effective. I’ve seen kids with yellow belts block more effectively than this guy, I’m starting to think that black belt might not be on the up and up. Flynn dodges a dropkick, and the former Mensa member points to his head! Kidman dodges a spinkick, and hits a tornado bulldog for 2! Still, Flynn is dazed, and Kidman uses the Shooting Star Press, where he misses Flynn completely, coming down with his forehead directly to Flynn’s nose, and Kidman picks up his second victory of the year at 4:18. *1/2
MEIKO SATOMARA (no data in 1997) vs. MALYA HOSAKA (no data in 1997) (with Sonny Onoo)
Did Dr. Harvey Schiller walk into GAEA with an AK-47 and order everybody in the arena to sign WCW contracts? There’s like 14 new Japanese women in the company, and they only appear on the C-shows. None of them aside from Akira Hokuto get any type of press or consistent television appearances, and the only way to tell the heels from the faces is based on who Sonny Onoo is photographing.  But the good news, is that despite the completely inconsistent booking, lack of distinguishable wrestlers, or storylines, WCW will be creating a women’s cruiserweight title. The sad part about this, is that I might have to pick WCW Main Event back up to follow along with this important development, because they can’t bump an Alex Wright match from Saturday Night or anything. Satomara sports the ever stylish ladies’ hairstyle: The John Lennon. She also squeals like a banshee throughout the match, despite being the face. This is a complete and total squash for Meiko, who wins with a Frog Splash at 1:15. Tony declares this an upset, but unless it comes from Mike Tenay, I’m going to treat that comment as highly suspicious. DUD
CHAVO GUERRERO JR. (2-5-0) vs. REY MYSTERIO JR. (3-2-2)
Bobby starts railing on how ugly Mysterio is, while Tony goes to defend Mysterio by saying he’s so darn good looking he’s trying to remain incognito to stop them from literally throwing their vaginas at him as he passes through their towns. Tony: “Besides, you wouldn’t know anything about being handsome!” Bobby: “….. I beg your pardon?!?” The lads start a test of strength, but that goes about as far as a test of strength between Mysterio and Chavo would be expected to. Rey escapes a headlock to hit a springboard legdrop for 2. Chavo comes back with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker and heads up. His big top rope move is a 180 splash, which sounds FAR better until you realize it’s simply a guy horizontally turning mid-air. I’m assuming he perfected that move jumping into the pool as a 6-year old in a game of “hey look at this!” Rey hits the West Coast Pop out of nowhere, even though Chavo has no idea how to sell it and they awkwardly roll into the pinning spot at 3:56. Honestly, at this stage of the game, Chavo’s only a Cruiserweight by scale, and NOT by talent, because if you take away the fact he’s about 150 pounds, he’s basically a less talented Latino version of Alex Wright. He’d get way better over time, but in 1997 he’s death to watch. 1/2*
ALEX WRIGHT (7-4-0) vs. SONNY TROUT (no data in 1997)
Oh good, first the Latino Alex Wright, and now the Arian Alex Wright. Trout pounds on his shoulder, while Tony makes the mistake of asking Bobby who his favorite broadcast partner is. “Well, let’s see. I work with you here, and on Nitro. On the Main Event it’s you, and on pay-per-view it’s you … I’m sick of working with you!” Tony: “Now here’s a young man in Alex Wright who could go Cruiserweight or Heavyweight.” Bobby: “Which way do you think he should go?” Tony: “Cruiserweight actually. Where do you think he should go?” Bobby: “Home!” Wright hits a pair of European uppercuts and gets 2. A vertical suplex sets up a crossbody off the top, and Wright wins at 4:19. Bobby: “See, he can’t speak English.” Tony: “I can understand every word he just said!” Bobby: “Yeah but you’re from Marietta.” Heenan’s off the charts tonight. This match was not. DUD
THE FACES OF FEAR (3-1-1) (with Jimmy Hart) vs. ARN ANDERSON and CHRIS BENOIT (no data in 1997)
I have to figure this is Anderson’s last broadcasted match; though it was taped before his Nitro shindig with the French Canadians which was his actual Last Match. Benoit and Meng start, and Benoit rakes the eyes. Of course, he forgets that Tongans don’t have eyes, because Meng ignores the move and beats Benoit into a thick pulpy mass. Chris tries to fight back, but it’s Meng for god sakes, and one swift kick to the tooth stops that as fast as it started. Benoit tries a springboard crossbody, but Meng barely feels it as he launches Benoit on 2. Barbarian and Anderson square off next, and Arn throws a bunch of kidney punches. Barbarian stands there looking bored, until he goozles Arn and throws him to the other side of the ring. Anderson launches a desperate back elbow, and the Barbarian is dazed! For like a second, until Barbarian hits a standing vertical suplex to set up the swandive for 2. Benoit tags in and stomps away, but Barbarian just face plants him and tags in Meng. The Horsemen double team the wild man, and Meng just stands there as if to ask “are you done yet?” In a fantastic spot, Anderson kicks Meng in the face, and Meng just pops up and dares him to do it again. The second kick is swatted away like a fly, and Meng palm thrusts Anderson in the throat. Meng backdrops Arn, right into the awaiting arms of Barbarian who powerbombs him! Benoit saves at 2, which probably should have been it. Arn pops off a spinebuster from nowhere, but Barbarian kicks out at 2. Arn acts surprised; PLEASE! This man won’t be put down by your silly finishers. All hell breaks loose, and Jimmy jumps on the apron. Benoit attacks him while Arn DDT’s Meng! Barbarian retaliates with a Kick of Fear, so Benoit grabs the Megaphone and clocks Barbarian upside the head for the DQ at 5:59! Faces of Fear win!!! All 4 guys continue to brawl despite the fact this is long over, and while Benoit tries to direct traffic, Meng isn’t playing ball. **1/2

Next week: An even BIGGER card, featuring Psychosis, Akira Hokuto, Keiru, and Ciclope! Check your local listings! We out!

WCW Saturday Night: February 15, 1997

With all systems operating within normal designed
parameters, and Cyborgs being pumped out at a furious rate, we board the
mothaship with our good friends TONY
SCHIAVONE
and DUSTY RHODES.
Dusty vows to talk about Roddy Piper. Good, I was worried.

BUNKHOUSE BUCK and
MIKE ENOS
(no data in 1997) vs. THE STEINER BROTHERS (4-0-1)
Buck and Enos are trying this again, huh? The LAST time they
tried working together, they wound up getting into a kerfuffle which I HAVE to
assume is related to their mutual love-triangle with one very confused Dick
Slater. The Base of the Isosceles
would be a fine name for this pair. It would be especially glorious given that
Buck has no idea what an isosceles triangle is, let alone how to pronounce it.
Buck rides Scotty like a hog, but don’t mistake the leather fetish for a
submissive horndog, because he’d rather kill you than squeal. He stands up out
of the clutch to hoist Buck into an electric chair position, and the bulldog
finishes this as quickly as it started at 1:55.
1/2*
LEE MARSHALL’S
MOUSTACHE
is very intrigued by CHRIS
BENOIT
and WOMAN. Apparently
Sullivan’s signed Benoit and himself to a Death Match. Benoit giggles at the
idea, and asks if Sullivan’s looking to have his mind, career, or life ended.
He vows to abuse Sullivan before finishing him for good. I swear to god, I
could take the last 6 months worth of Saturday Night episodes and release them
as a special documentary called “The Premeditation of Chris Benoit” and I’d
immediately be hired to replace Keith Morrison on Dateline NBC.
MAXX (2-0-0) vs. CHAVO GUERRERO JR. (2-4-0)
It’s good to see Maxx making regular appearances on TV again,
after serving his 6 month punishment in his room for trying to clean the
Dungeon fountain with water that’s Not Cold. He knows better. Chavo takes down Maxx and goes for an early pin, but that
just gets him thrown about 48 feet in the air. A forward electric chair drop
sets up an elbow, and before you know it he’s swinging Chavo around in the
Masterlock and that’s that at 1:42.
Dusty asks if Maxx has ever actually visited the Pay Windah, which of course is
no because he’s still on probation and has to go straight home as soon as his
match is over. DUD
SLEDGE HAMMER (no data under this name) vs. ROADBLOCK (1-1-0)
Holy crap, is this really happening? This is already amongst
the two or three greatest moments of my life, and they haven’t even started
fighting yet. I don’t think my keyboard’s going to be able to take the asterisk
pounding I’m about to put on it. My hands are trembling in anticipation for
this, I can’t take it. I don’t even care that Sledge Hammer is a renamed
Tombstone.

And we’re off! Sledge Hammer throws a mighty right hand, and
hits a Stinger Splash! The big man is down! This is your chance, Sledge!
Roadblock gets back to his feet, but Hammer rakes the eyes. Since it worked so
well the first time, Sledge tries another Stinger Splash – but Roadblock
moves!!! He MUST be fast, because otherwise there’s simply no excuse to miss a
target that large! Roadblock picks up Sledge Hammer because he’s 500 pounds of
rock solid steel, and the Dead End Drop finishes this at 1:07! I’m sure you were able to pick up on it from my in depth
play-by-play, and I have little doubt in my mind that everybody reading this
has seen this classic at one time or another, but in the event you suffer from
a bad case of the wnyxmcneal (and you should NEVER go full wnyxmcneal), this is
the single most important event that took place for humankind since The Big
Bang. 4.54 billion stars, in honor of the age of our planet.
MR. JL (0-6-0) vs. SUPER CALO (0-5-0)
I KNEW meticulous record keeping would pay off, but I didn’t
know I’d reap the dividends so quickly! 11 straight losses to start the year
for this pair, which is awful considering even Jerry Lynn won a match on WCW
Pro once. Calo dropkicks JL to the floor, and shows off the flash with a
somersault plancha WITHOUT losing his toque. Calo goes to finish up top, but JL
blocks with a dropkick. A kick to the face fails to knock Calo’s glasses off,
so either JL needs to work on his kicks, or those things have been laced with
Kra-Z Gloo. Calo takes a powder, but JL flies off the top with a plancha. Calo
recovers and whips JL into the guardrail, using the extra recovery time to pose
for his legions of Caloticons. JL tries to get back in the ring, but a swinging
dropkick knocks his ass backwards, and another somersault plancha follows
because Calo is a man of routine and style. Calo heads up, but he’s caught
again, and this time JL DDT’s him off the top. Calo smartly puts his foot on
the ropes at 2. JL goes up, but a dropkick stops that, and Calo hits a super
headscissors. A senton finishes at 3:50!
Dusty: “That’s a big win for Calo!” You don’t even know, Dusty. **
A beltless DEAN
MALENKO
is all up in LEE MARSHALL’s
area. Syxx has somehow earned his second PPV title shot in a row because he
stole Deano’s gold. Malenko tells us a story about a 16 year old kid who begged
and pleaded to be trained in order to become a part of this industry. (Spoiler:
It’s not Mass Transit) And his dad took this kid under his wing, teaching him
both in-ring skills, but also respect. And that person … was Syxx. I love a
surprise ending. That’s not exactly a glowing endorsement of Boris Malenko’s
training, because he has no respect, and he never wrestles. Dean vows to beat
some respect into him. And if that doesn’t work, he’ll have an unshowered Hugh
Morrus sit naked on him while screaming offensive names until he gives the belt
back.
DIAMOND DALLAS PAGE (4-1-0) vs. DEVON STORM (0-1-0)
Don’t think that Storm wasn’t watching the Sledge Hammer
match and got ideas for future gimmicks. It wasn’t until he named himself after
a heavy blunt object and embraced his inner Ugly that he got over. Young
wrestlers around the country could learn something from this, and I look
forward to seeing Tire Iron make his debut in NXT soon. Storm shoves Page into
the corner, which draws some big yuks. I think that’s code for “you’re a dead
man”. A pumphandle backbreaker sets up the Cutter, but Storm pokes the eyes!
Dusty buries him anyway. “Devon Storm hasn’t shown me that WCW is the place
that he should be.” A tornado DDT plants Page, and Dusty’s forced to eat his
words, which is fine because Dusty’s never turned down a free meal. Page hits a
back elbow, and bounces off the bottom rope with a Diamond Cutter at 2:58. Page continues to roll. *1/2
BILLY PEARL (0-2-0) vs. CHRIS BENOIT (2-3-0) (with Woman)
Given that Kevin Sullivan gets to pad his win/loss record by
fighting the finest group of losers ever assembled in one building, it’s only
fair Benoit gets to do the same. And Pearl should be easy pickins, seeing as
how he’s abandoned his wrestling career for that of an ice ballerina.
Benoit immediately goes for the Dragon suplex, but Pearl
skates his way loose with a pirouette. Tony has some concerning news: The
Steiner Brothers have been involved in a car accident. The extent of the crash
is unknown, and they’re hoping for an update on WCW Pro. Wait – that’s not
fair! I don’t have a copy of WCW Pro (because you KNOW I’d be recapping it).
Now I’ll never know what happened to them, because they certainly won’t want to
repeat themselves on multiple shows. Hrmph. I don’t even care anymore that
Benoit’s beating Pearl into a mountain of hamburger, or that he drags Billy by
the hair and makes him kneel before Woman to Show Her Respect. She claws at his
eyes, and because he fails to answer with “GIVE ME MORE MISTRESS”, it’s back to
Benoit and that’s not a good thing. Pearl tries to put Benoit in an inside
cradle, and he’s immediately hit with a release Dragon suplex for his
insolence. Benoit applies the Crossface, which is the debut of that move, and
Pearl taps quickly at 4:10. *1/2
HIGH VOLTAGE (1-3-0) vs. HARLEM HEAT (6-1-2) (with Sista Sherri)
Dusty’s delighted to see High Voltage, who are “on a roll
lately”. THE PUBLIC ENEMY look on
from the crowd, and I’ll give them credit for dedication to their craft, seeing
as how they fly out to and buy tickets to every single show they’re not booked
on. Stevie hits Rage with a bicycle kick, and all of 4 seconds into this match
he’s run through his entire moveset. Booker comes in and takes a powerslam. Stevie
re-enters, and he lifts Kaos in the air as Booker flies over top of his brother
with a Harlem Sidekick for the win at 3:26.
Dusty calls Harlem Heat “The Faces of Fear” which is offensive to African
Americans, Samoans, and me. 1/2*
VILLANO 4 (1-0-0) vs. JEFF JARRETT (7-0-0)
Dusty thinks that Jarrett’s “infectuated” with Debra
McMichael. I hope he doesn’t try to start an “afar” with her. Rhodes also gives
Jarrett his stamp of approval for the Horsemen, and considering Dusty *hates*
the Horsemen, that should give you all the reasons you need NOT to put him in
the group. I considered briefly that he anticipated that they’d ignore his
advice, and that he’s using reverse psychology, but assuming Dusty’s thoughts
extend beyond whatever’s flowing out of his mouth is giving him far too much
credit. Villano almost scores an upset with a powerslam. A swandive misses, and
Jarrett POINTS TO HIS HEAD! If intelligence was measured by log rolls and Fargo
struts, Jeff Jarrett would be spending his nights debunking Stephen Hawking,
and using John Nash’s research as toilet paper. A DDT gets 2. A standing
vertical suplex has Jarrett self-fellating, but his cockiness gets him rolled
up for 2. That’s all Villano’s getting I’m afraid, because a single leg atomic
drop sets up the Figure Four, and Jarrett wins again at 4:34. *
Jarrett heads into LEE
MARSHALL
’s personal locker room, and wants to talk Superbrawl. He says that
ever since Flair knighted him 6 months ago, a group of jealous Horsemen have
tried to knock him down. At Starrcade, he bested Benoit. A few weeks ago on
Nitro, he knocked off Anderson. That leaves Mongo, and when he does, he expects
to become a part of the most elite group in wrestling history.
PRINCE IAUKEA (no data in 1997) vs. HUGH MORRUS (5-2-0) (with
Jimmy Hart)
Tony calls Iaukea a man who’s made quite a name for himself
in WCW. That name, of course, is Jobber, because he’s never won a match, and
the only TV time he gets anymore is under the hood as Cheetah Kid (0-3-0). He’s
also awful, and *nobody* is clamouring for a Prince push, so let’s just squash
him and release him immediately. He has NO reason to be on Nitro this week.
NONE! I do NOT want to see him booked on Nitro under any circumstances. Are
we all clear on this? Morrus starts running him over with clotheslines – and
one of them winds up hitting the camera lens and leaving a fairly impressive
fist print. Morrus misses an avalanche, and Prince comes off the top with a
Superfly Splash … for 2. Prince tries a forward roll, but Morrus just faceplants
him. A long beating ensues, and fight as Prince may, he can’t get anything
going. A spinning heel kick rocks the tiny man, and No Laughing Matter
connects. Morrus refuses to pin his prey, rolling Prince on top of himself and
getting his own foot on the ropes at the 2 before laughing his ass off. Finally
he rolls over and gets the pin at 3:54.
You know who Prince looks NOTHING like? Rocky Maivia. It’s best we not waste
time trying to compare them. In fact, let’s just stop talking about Prince
Iaukea before WCW gets any crazy ideas. *
KONAN (6-1-1) (with Jimmy Hart) vs. EDDIE GUERRERO (5-3-2) (for the WCW United States heavyweight title)
Speaking of crazy ideas, let’s not get Konan back in the US
title mix. Konan, always a scumbag, attacks before the bell and screams about
Mexico. Eddie fires back with a rana, but Konan rolls to the floor and catches
him as he tries to follow. Eddie’s whipped into the guardrail, and slammed face
first in the ringsteps. “DUNGEON OF DOOM LOCOS!” Oh. Back in, the tumbleweed
gets 2, and Konan goes to his trademark: the chinlock. After about an hour,
Eddie gets out, but Konnan catches him with Splash Mountain … for 2! Konan’s
not mad though, he still has Mexico to scream about, which is his equivalent of
hulking up. An avalanche misses, and Eddie pounds away at the kidneys. A
spinning heel kick gets 2, and even though he gets up first, Konan dropkicks
Eddie quickly. A full nelson has Eddie flailing helplessly, and he accidently
clips the referee. Jimmy jumps on the apron, and swings the megaphone … but
he pops Konan by mistake! Eddie hits the Frog Splash, and Jimmy runs in for the
DQ at 4:56. These guys are a total
bore together. 1/2*

With a quick reminder to watch The Pro tomorrow for updates
on the Steiner Brothers, Tony signs us off for another week.

ECW Hardcore TV: February 15, 1997

Big Dirty Murphy asks: Why has it continually been the narrative for nearly 20 years that that stupid Mass Transit kid was some poor helpless victim who got hurt at the hands of a heartless criminal? He lied about his age to get booked, lied about having wrestling experience, and allowed himself to get bladed by an opponent, something that always results in excessive gore (see also WM13). How about blaming the kid and his dad who apparently helped him get booked? Personal responsibility doesn’t play ANY factor here?
Because the kid was 16 years old. When you’re 16 years old, you’re probably going to do a lot of dumb shit things. The kid, from all accounts, had a number of self-confidence issues, and suffered from depression. I’ve known adults in the same position who make mistakes, and that’s before you factor in the confusing world of being a teenager. Paul Heyman was a fully grown adult, and as a business owner, and ultimately the person in charge of his brand, it’s his responsibility to vet every single person who steps into a wrestling ring. As much as I want to rain down the hate-parade on the kid’s father, I guarantee the guy thought wrestling was little more than two guys pretending to punch each other and it was all in good fun, and he was just happy to see his son participating in a group activity. That probably makes him a shitty parent for failing to educate himself before signing off on the idea of letting his kid go through with it, but Heyman’s lack of due diligence was the real issue.

Then there’s New Jack, whose idea of a little rookie hazing is apparently to take a box cutter and rip apart someone’s forehead until you tap an artery. It’s one thing to make a mistake, but New Jack fessed a long time ago he intended to hurt the kid, which is, as far as I know, assault with a deadly weapon. The kid could have easily bled to death inside that ring, and Jack seemingly didn’t give a damn. In light of this past weekend, where a highly skilled 20-year veteran passed away due to wear and tear off a couple of standard bumps, I’d say that awareness should be at an all time high about how critical it is to protect your opponents inside the ring. I can’t accept any argument that lets Heyman and especially New Jack off the hook. Heyman probably should have had his company shut down pending further investigation of safety practices, and New Jack should have done jail time. Rest assured, if this had occurred in 2015, this is *exactly* what would have happened.
Now, just because I hold that particular stance doesn’t mean I’m going to slam my laptop lid in moral outrage and stop watching immediately. I love wrestling. I grew up on it, and the late 90’s came during the most influential period of my life; my mid to late teens. So as a viewer – I’m thrilled the company wasn’t shut down, that they were able to continue to produce content, and that we’re able to look back some 20 years later and talk about it. But it doesn’t make it right.
As I dismount from my high horse, I’m greeted by the steely eyes of TOMMY DREAMER. He figures with all the hardcore things he’s done in his 3 years as an ECW wrestler, things are probably gonna be all sorts of gory come the PPV in April. And, just to accentuate the point, we’re shown a highlight package with all his nastiest moments; starting with the “Please Sir, may I have another?” caning from Woman and Sandman, the piledriving of Beulah, the face first chair-shot to Raven in the cage, his war with Cactus Jack, and the Stop “sign” on Raven. If that doesn’t get your blood pumping …
JOEY STYLES starts the hype-machine for Barely Legal, in what he’s calling a revolution in pay-per-view offerings. He figures Raven is going to be running scared trying to retain his title between now and then, especially in light of the fact that Stevie Richards is hunting him. A single Stevie Kick could be the difference between retaining … or losing.
Highlights from the main event of Crossing The Line Again are aired.
The Terry Funk / Tommy Rich match is replayed from the same show, which I reviewed a few weeks back. Geriatric fight be damned, there’s nothing quite like watching a couple of old vets work a crowd, and these guys brought everything they have left in the tank. Lots of fun.
A smiling TERRY FUNK tells a story about an old bull rider who was passed his prime, named Freckles Brown. He managed to jump on a bull that had thrown dozens of tough men away, setting a new record above this particularly wild animal. He was asked afterwards how he did it, and he just grinned and said “every dog has his day”. Funk feels the exact same way, he’s still looking for his day. If he’s able to capture the belt from Raven, he can give his family a lifetime memory of seeing Terry on top of the sport, instead of as a beat up old has-been.
The genesis of The Dudley Boys is shown in full. The era of Bubba and D-Von is upon us.
Speaking of, THE DUDLEY BOYS are out in the street. They’ve been looking all over Philly looking for Da Gangstas, starting with the West Side, working their way to the East Side, and even though they can’t afford it, they checked out the North Side. So, they’re standing in the South Side of Philly, and there’s not a Gangsta to be found. And the reason? They’re nothing but a bunch of “Puh-Puh-Puh-Puh-Puh” *smack* “Cowards!”
Lance Storm’s debut against Balls Mahoney from CTLA is shared. Storm would have far greater days ahead, but as far as debuts go, it was ago.
RAVEN sits in a basement somewhere, and asks Terry Funk to knock off the boring old war stories unless he’s willing to buy another round. If fate somehow puts them together, then the dog is going to be denied his day. Funk can talk all he wants about his dad dying in his arms, because if his own father had died in his arms he would be a much happier person today. The miserable shit promises to be World Champion forever.
The tag-team title match between The Eliminators and RVD/Sabu is replayed – which makes for an easy fast-forward spot. I know there’s folks out there who love a good 20-minute Sabu slopfest,  but I’m not one of them and I have no urge to re-watch this one again anytime soon.

CyberSlam is coming at us next week, as well as a new episode of Hardcore TV with a couple of fresh arena matches. And, of course, Jerry Lawler’s issued a HUGE open challenge to the ECW roster for the February 24th edition of RAW. It’s not a question of whether they’ll respond, it’s how they’ll respond.

WWF RAW: February 17, 1997

BigDaddyLoco: Undercard is total garbage and would have been helped by having Mankind somewhere on it, but The Fatal Fourway is just the best. A lot of times these matches don’t hold their value, but this one does. I love Austin at this stage of his career. Vader shows there is gas in the tank when you just let him do his thing. Bret is at his peak and gaining a mean streak. Undertaker is becoming less of a zombie and more of a badass brawler and is blossoming into the worker we know today.
The Mankind point is something I had meant to bring up when I initially sat down to write the piece, and is absolutely spot on. Mick had been on fire for months, but if you read Have a Nice Day you’ll find that McMahon was a little down on him at this point because he hadn’t committed to a new deal. Which makes sense, Vince had been burned repeatedly over the previous 18 months by guys jumping ship after the WWF had invested heavily in them. It’s just unfortunate, because he’s clearly amongst the most entertaining mid to upper card acts they’re running these days, and running out something where Mankind tries to “prove” to Uncle Paul he’s just as good as Vader would have helped balance the show a little better.
But, there’s little to complain about because the main event was the nuts. Vader was the surprise of the show, going into full-fledged War Machine (not to be confused with jailed porn-star War Machine). Steve Austin, meanwhile, is clearly headed to be the breakout star of 1997. There’s simply nowhere else to place your bets, as his years of experience in WCW are starting to pay dividends with a company that’s allowing him the creative freedom to be the piece of shit he always wanted to be. He’s a first-class bully, except he backs up what he throws down. With a death glare, you know your ass is grass if you don’t smarten up immediately, and the “Stone Cold” nickname could not be more fitting for a man who always appears a second away from becoming a serial killer.

The WWF have loaded their production trucks and driven 2 hours southeast into Nashville, Tennessee, where we are LIVE! This point is accentuated by VINCE MCMAHON, who says it with so much force you’d think he was throat singing. JIM ROSS and JERRY LAWLER join him, and we’re getting right down to business immediately.
SYCHO SID (0-3-0) vs. BRET HART (4-1-0) (for the WWF world heavyweight title)
They’re bringing out the big guns to counter Nitro, look out Randy Anderson! JR announces that the Undertaker will face the winner of this match at Wrestlemania 13, which seems like a fairly arbitrary pick without any explanation. I would imagine the argument is that he was screwed by Austin last night, but for god sakes, Vader had to wrestle with one eye on life-support. That’s also an injustice to Ahmed Johnson, who rightfully should be in the mix on account of the fact that YOU wouldn’t turn him down if he demanded a title shot. Sid and Bret each draw loud, but mixed reactions; odd knowing that one year earlier Bret was universally untouchable and honestly, nothing’s changed since then and now … but everything feels different. The WWF’s done an absolutely tremendous job of slow-burning this Bret story, by sending heels out to constantly remind us that Bret’s a crybaby and a whiner, with such frequency that they’re starting to look like they might have a point.
The guys look ready to square off, but suddenly STEVE AUSTIN rushes the ring because he hates Bret and pretty much isn’t going to rest until he’s 6 feet under. Sid tries to swat him off as well, but winds up getting clipped in the knee by Austin in the process. PAT PATTERSONJERRY BRISCO, and A BUNCH OF OFFICIALS AND SECURITY order Austin to get the hell out of here; but Sid’s gimping around now and is in no condition to compete. Vince McMahon has to physically restrain himself from immediately rushing into the ring to hold Sid closely, and Jim Ross manages to get through this without suggesting Sid’s the classiest class act that ever classed. However, on that topic …
                                                                                                                                                  
Last Thursday, Shawn Michaels took his ball(s) and went home.
KEVIN KELLY tries to get an update from SYCHO SID, whether or not he’ll be able to compete. Sid screams that even if his leg is broken, nothing’s going to stop him from winning the belt tonight. He should be fine, he never had a smile anyway.
MARC MERO (1-2-1) (with Sable) vs. SAVIO VEGA (3-2-1) (with PG-13, Crush, D’Lo Brown, A Well Dressed Man, Faarooq, and Clarence Mason)
Faarooq and Mason decide to hang back in the crowd, but flash the Black Power to let them know they’re brothers in different skin colors. Mero dropkicks Vega to the floor and follows with a somersault plancha that lands on both Savio and Crush. Looks like Marc’s the face tonight. I sort of miss the characters who were able to play dual roles. You don’t exactly love them, but when they face the REAL trash bags, you figure they’re better than the alternative and cheer them on. Savio starts laying in some chops, but Mero fires back with his boxing shots. The 10-punch count-a-long is stopped at 6 when Vega drops him back with snake eyes, and the audience audibly groans as his head snaps back off the buckle. Mero’s sent to the floor where Wolfie D attacks, so Sable kicks the crap out of HIM getting a HUGE pop. The Nation surrounds Sable, so she rushes into the ring to find protection, and the referee calls for a DQ at 4:17. The entire group circles the couple, but AHMED JOHNSON rushes in with his 2×4 to save the day. The Nation scatter like cockroaches as we head to commercial. Congratulations are in order for Savio Vega for breaking the negative star barrier tonight! 1/2*
BRET HART is getting sick and tired of Steve Austin sticking his nose in his business every single night. He’s looking ahead to a tough match with Sid tonight, and once he gets passed that he’ll worry about all the subsequent challengers. Lawler accuses Hart of brushing off Sid, but Bret says absolutely not, he’s just looking out for number 1 before he starts stepping in number 2. Lawler asks if he’s happy Austin hurt Austin, and Hart tells him to shut up. Hart drew a fair number of boos throughout this interview, and he’s starting to look visibly annoyed and agitated by the fans response lately.
LEIF CASSIDY (0-1-0) vs. ROCKY MAIVIA (6-1-0) (in a non-title match)
SUNNY is given the role of special timekeeper, showing off cleavage that extends all the way back to Connecticut. If Sunny had launched Wrestling Vixxxens at this point in her career, she’d have broken the Internet for good, and we wouldn’t be sharing these memories today. Rocky clotheslines Leif over the top rope with enough force to have drawn two disqualifications in WCW. Cassidy re-enters, and takes a crossbody for 2. Rock works over the shoulder, while we check in with …
HUNTER HEARSY HELMSLEY, who promises Rock couldn’t beat him again in a million years. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that’s probably not true. Also, if he finds Goldust, he’s a dead man.
Leif has taken over the match, and Ross urges him to let it all hang out. As someone who’s read “The Legend of the Penis Suplex”, I’d *REALLY* ask that that not happen. Cassidy jams a thumb in the eye of Rock, while some asshat fan starts blowing an air-horn. Rock goes to the inside cradle, but Leif isn’t Hunter, and escapes at 2. An armbar takedown causes Rocky to squeal, and a top rope karate chop looks to finish, but he’s up at 2. Leif goes back to the well, but Rock is up fast enough to cut him off and he slams Cassidy. The shoulderbreaker gets the win for the Rock at 9:32. *
Over at the announce table, there’s a disturbance.
Lawler snatches the sign away, and asks if anyone even knows anything about this group of idiots? He figures 99% of the people in the world have no idea what ECW is, which would actually make for pretty fantastic awareness if this was true. Jerry says it’s a place where misfits and talentless folks have congregated in Philadelphia, and he’s sick of the mutant idiots who wave signs in his face every single week. He says that a friend of his tried to get a Jerry Lawler sign into a WCW event in Tennessee, and they took it away from him, so he wants to know why the WWF isn’t doing the same thing? He tells them if they’re really all that tough, then they outta pop into the Manhattan Center next week, but he knows they don’t have the guts.
GOLDUST and MARLENA join KEVIN KELLY in the ring. Kevin tries to ask Goldust about Hunter, but he’s too busy crawling around on his knees and worshipping Marlena’s ladybits. He finally snatches the microphone away from Kevin, and tells Helmsley it’s personal because he’s been chasing around Marlena inappropriately. “All the money in the world couldn’t buy Marlena”. Kevin checks in with the lady herself, while Goldust feels her up. She goes on record to say that Goldust is all man, from gold head to gold feet. In fact, he’s more man than Hunter could ever dream to be. Goldust starts tweaking his own nipples in excitement, until HUNTER HEARST HELMSLEY heads down to ringside. He tells Goldust if he wants Marlena, he’ll take her, and throws a drink in Goldust’s eyes. An All Man-Sized beating ensues, accentuated with a Pedigree. Marlena slaps Helmsley across his big nose, while draws THE AMAZON WOMAN into the ring. This she-beast grabs Marlena around the waste, and shakes her with more ferocity than a British Nanny – with Marlena’s joints basically becoming independent from the rest of her body, flailing and flapping until ALL THE REFEREES jump in the ring. What I wouldn’t have given for them to give her a warning, and a 5-count to release the hold; but it doesn’t happen as the-not-yet-named Chyna is escorted out of the premises.
THE NATION OF DOMINATION is backstage, and Faarooq is not in a good mood (well, at least in contrast to his usual bad moods). He’s pissed because Ahmed’s acting like he’s on a quest for “his people”, but he’s living in a high rise in Houston and driving 2 cars. He was raised in a 2 room house with 7 kids, the real streets. He offers a Chicago street fight to Ahmed at Wrestlemania, should he have the stones.
THE HEADBANGERS (2-1-1) vs. THE HARDY BOYS (1997 debut)
The Hardys start smiling and preening for the ladies, and wind up getting attacked by the Headbangers from behind. Matt gets double teamed in the corner, and gets botch tossed into the ropes where he scrapes his face instead of taking a hot shot. Bravo, Headbangers. An elbowdrop misses, and Jeff gets the hot tag. Dropkicks are delivered to all, but a clothesline turns him inside out and the Stage Dive finishes at 4:01. Jeff would fare much better after he hit puberty. *
SYCHO SID (0-3-0) vs. BRET HART (4-1-0) (for the WWF world heavyweight title)
Take two! However, before Bret can even leave the backstage area, STEVE AUSTIN attacks Bret again! As they get into a pull-apart brawl, Sid rushes back from the ring to join in the fray, but despite both guys trying to beat on Steve, he still manages to get some quality shots in on Bret. I’ve never had a mortal enemy, but if I did, I sure as shit wouldn’t want it to be Steve Austin.
After a break, GORILLA MONSOON is asked to make a decision about the title match. Gorilla reminds us they’re nothing like “other people”, and come hell or high water we’re going to see Bret against Sid, if it kills them. And at this rate, it may.
FLASH FUNK (1-1-0) (with the Funkettes) vs. OWEN HART (0-1-0) (with Clarence Mason, both world tag-team title belts, and a repaired Slammy)
Marlena’s announced as coughing up blood and on her way to the hospital. She should be prioritized quickly enough unless there’s a rash of lost smiles. Funk and Owen are presented as classic high flyers, and even though that seems ludicrous by 2015 standards, he’s probably right. It wasn’t until just 9 months earlier that the game really started to change in North America with the influx of Mexicans over in the other company that our entire perception of what made up a “high flyer” truly was. Both guys try dual dropkicks, and even though they both whiff, Owen jumps up and celebrates as the clear winner. Before we get too far ahead of ourselves…
JERRY LAWLER has a phone call. An angry, passionate, fired up voice is on the other line, introducing himself as the owner, operator, and whatever else you want to call him, PAUL HEYMAN, the president of ECW. And, unlike Vince McMahon, he doesn’t hide behind other “representatives”, he is what he is. He says that he’ll be at the Manhattan Center next week with all his superstars in tow. Lawler asks if he’s going to bring his “big guns” like The Blue Meanie or the Sandman? Heyman says he’ll bring whatever it takes to get some respect beat into him. “As long as Neighborhood Watch doesn’t need to be informed that you’re in the area, I’ll see you next week!” Shots fired, Daddy Fingers!
You’ll notice during that little exchange that for about the 3rd or 4th time this year, Vince McMahon is acknowledged as being a key figurehead (and perhaps THE key figurehead) of the WWF. This wasn’t always the case. For years, he was simply an announcer, and nothing more. However, bit by bit the company is becoming more lax with this, easing the fans into the notion that Vince is the one pulling the strings behind it all. These little slips wind up becoming one of the most important parts of the 1997 story.
So, there’s still a match going on, and Hart’s getting the business from Clarence Mason for some reason. Funk nails Hart with a plancha during the exchange, and that draws an irate BRITISH BULLDOG down to ringside to tell Mason to take a hike before he costs Owen a win. Funk uses a backslide for a near-fall, but Owen fires back with a bridged German for 2. Since this match is irrelevant, I suppose, we turn now to …
STEVE AUSTIN, who gets grilled about his actions tonight. “Gorilla Monsoon said I was this close from going over the edge? I done gone over the edge already, and I’m this close to whoopin’ his ass!” He reminds us he won the Royal Rumble fair and square, because there’s no instant replay. And, because Michaels “went and hurt his little knee”, by all accounts HE should be WWF champion right now. He says he’s getting held back because he’s not glitz and glamour and won’t smile for their stupid publicity shots, but whether they like it or not, he’s coming.
Funk appears to be on the comeback trail, and is headed up for the 450. Owen stands early, so he changes his gameplan and hits the crossbody for 2. A Stinger Splash sets up a flawless moonsault, but Owen kicks out again. He charges in, but Bulldog smacks him in the back of the head with the Slammy, and holds down his leg as Owen steals the win at 8:28. Bulldog picks up the belt and Slammy, and celebrates with his brother in law. Owen seems perturbed, though. Really? I thought a win was a win?
HUNTER HEARST HELMSLEY (4-4-0) vs. BART GUNN (0-1-0)
THE HONKY TONK MAN joins the commentary booth, while JR asks Hunter before the match who the bodybuilder is. Triple H says that women throw themselves at him all around the country, and much like the rest of them, he has absolutely no idea who she is. Bart starts Helmsley off with a number of arm jerks to loosen the joint, and it works in his favor when Hunter can’t complete a hiptoss. Gunn continues to work the arm, applying a hammerlock on the mat and pulling at the shoulder. Helmsley elbows loose, but runs shoulder first into the buckle trying to attack, and winds up right back on the mat in the same position again. Hunter escapes again, and this time uses the high knee. GOLDUST decides this would be an opportune time to rush the ring, and Helmsley beats it out of Nashville. In fact, he’s already up the stairs and past the concessions by the time he’s counted out at 4:34. 1/2*
DR. JAMES ANDREWS gives an update on Shawn Michaels. Apparently he tore his meniscus 5 years ago, and he’s got a degenerated area. However, he doesn’t need surgery at this time, a little rehab is a good starting point, and they’ll check back in 4-6 weeks from now. Andrews figures he should have no problem continuing his wrasslin’ career.
SYCHO SID (0-3-0) vs. BRET HART (4-1-0) (for the WWF world heavyweight title)
Lawler about fills his tights with excitement that the match is finally getting underway. Even better for him, Sid pounds on Hart’s kidneys and Lawler sells every one of them along with Bret. A clothesline knocks the champ to his ass, and Sid threatens an early chokeslam to a chorus of boos from the very confusing crowd tonight. Hart takes Sid off his feet, and drops a second rope sledge. Sid starts gimping around, still selling the knee problem from earlier in the night. Still, he manages more kidney punches, softening Bret up for a backbreaker that gets 2. Lawler calls for a powerbomb, but Hart kicks at the bad knee. Sid crumbles, and Bret takes full advantage, putting a Figure Four on Sid around the ringpost! This is the debut of this move, and everyone’s in shock at the viciousness of it. Sid flails, screams, taps out like crazy, while Ross sells it perfectly as an attack that might put Sid in a wheelchair. Until recently, there’s no way in hell Bret would have ever resorted to this type of move, but it’s clear he’s frustrated and at a point where he’s got nothing left but to defend his legacy with every trick he’s got. They head to commercial while the referee tries in vain to get Hart to release the hold.
Back from a timeout, and they’re back in the ring, but Hart is relentless, putting Sid’s knee around the rope and kicking the crap out of it. An illegal toehold is ordered to break, but Hart hangs on for the maximum 4. Sid explodes out of the corner in rage with a clothesline, but he can barely stand. For god knows WHAT reason, he decides that a LEG DROP is his best move right now, and that gets 2 but it couldn’t have done him any favors. He manages to scoop slam Bret without buckling, and he heads to the second rope. At first he stumbles, but he manages to hit the guillotine legdrop for 2. Sensing his chance, Sid goes for a chokeslam, but Bret rakes the eyes. This is the kind of stuff Bret spent YEARS speaking out against – dude, you’re better than that. Hart tries to clip the knee, but he misses. Sid steps forward, but Hart backdrops him to the outside HARD. Now STEVE AUSTIN re-appears, but Sid’s able to fight him off. Back in, Sid’s caught immediately, and Bret goes for the Sharpshooter. It’s applied centre of the ring, but Sid’s fighting. The referee’s right up in Sid’s face, and completely misses Bret getting smacked in the face with a steel chair from Austin! Even Sid doesn’t realize it, because Austin beat it out of there before he could sit up. Still, he’s not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, and one powerbomb later and Sid’s back on top at 11:56! The crowd EXPLODES, having had enough of Hart from the cheap leg tricks, and start a “SID!” chant while he poses. The Sid haters can stuff it, because this was incredible. ****
THE UNDERTAKER turns out the house lights, giving himself time to get into the ring. He gets all up in Sid’s face, and Sid responds by squinting like he’s got lemon juice in his eye, before blowing them wide open and whispering something towards Undertaker. This guy doesn’t need a world title belt, he needs a strait jacket. Taker just stares a hole through him as the show closes.

The Michaels departure might have been the best thing for Mania, because the Hart / Austin feud has been boiling over for months. With this latest stunt from Steve, costing Bret the only thing he seemingly cares about anymore, and knowing Bret no longer cares about following the rules, their impending showdown at Wrestlemania is going to be full on balls to the wall. Sid and Undertaker is a fine placeholder main event, they’re both among the top acts in the company and Taker’s never really had a major Wrestlemania moment in his 6 years with the company. We might be looking at a one or two match show when it’s all said and done, but considering who’s involved, that might just be enough to save it from the awful undercard we’re undoubtedly going to have to endure beforehand.
And, of course, ECW is always lurking in the background next week. It might not be enough to win the ratings war of the week, but a cross-promotional war might be the seedlings needed to help BOTH companies against the mega-giant WCW… assuming anything can stop that freight train.

WWF Final Four: February 16, 1997

Now that everything’s peaceful, and everyone’s done arguing about Thursday’s RAW (and, by the way, I’m right), I’ll bring a new, less hostile subject to light:
BRET OR SHAWN? PICK A SIDE!
 Ok – just kidding, for god sakes please don’t start.
LIVE from Chattanooga, Tennessee, it’s … time to start with a Shawn Michaels recap AGAIN?!? That’s so 4 days ago, get with the times man.
JERRY LAWLER and JIM ROSS handle commentary duties, unless you’re wise enough to hit the SAP button and tune into the silky smooth Latino stylings of HUGO SAVINOVICH and CARLOS CABRERA. Not to mention, RAY ROUGEAU and JEAN BRASSARD handle the French duties, but you need to chain smoke to trigger that option.

MARC MERO (0-2-1) (with Sable) vs. LEIF CASSIDY (No data)
That win/loss record ain’t so pretty when you’re not wrestling DDP every week, is it Johnny? Mero’s growing out his evil goatee, while Al Snow continues to try and sprout a personality. Mero uses all kinds of hair-pulling, so Leif hits the floor and gets immediately distracted by Sable. Hey, if you’re into the former stripper turned Waffle house waitress who constantly smells like mouthwash and off-brand cigarettes look, I get it – after all, I’m not one to argue with Brock Lesnar. Mero nails Leif with a sledge, but back in Cassidy starts dropkicking the knees to keep the aerial moves at a minimum. A leg grapevine fails to yield a submission, so Leif goes back to staring at Sable’s tits to see how that goes. Mero tries to get a little something going, but finds himself back in a grapevine. Mero gets to the ropes and hits an enzuigiri. Leif comes back with a single leg atomic drop, and locks the figure four on, getting high praise from Ross for its inventor, the Nature Boy …. Buddy Rogers. Cassidy hits the floor, and whispers something to Sable ($50 for a little head?), and he gets slapped. Never lowball the lady, it’s $65 and you know it. Mero takes him out with a tope, and quickly finishes with the Wild Thing at 9:30. The mid-card of this company is an absolute mess. *1/2
THE HONKY TONK MAN joins us, but before we find out what he wants, we’re forced to watch Shawn Michael relinquish the WWF title as a result of his lost smile. Is Vince McMahon handling production tonight? There’s gotta be a reason he’s not ringside; I have to assume he’s in the production truck playing this on a loop, fighting back tears while admiring the handsome unshaven face of a man who is so ambitious, and so determined in his quest to ensure that he is never forced to lie down for a 3 count again.
Anyway, we don’t find out what the hell Honky wants, because now KEVIN KELLY has tracked down SYCHO SID, and he’s already shouting lunacy. He gets purple faced about the fact he didn’t get his title shot on Thursday, but he promises he’ll have his time at a new time. After all, he’s the master and ruler of the world (with exceptionally large nostrils).
FLASH FUNK (with the Funkettes), BART GUNN, and GOLDUST (with Marlena) (No data) vs. THE NATION OF DOMINATION (1-0-0) (with PG-13, Clarence Mason, D’Lo Brown, and Two Well Dressed Men)
The face team have been brought together through a common bond; the burning desire to cash a PPV royalty cheque. Faarooq tries to cut a promo, but Team Ridiculous attack. Flash takes out all 3 guys with a top rope plancha, which of course leaves him alone in a 3-on-1 spot to get his ass kicked. On the plus side, Jim Ross puts over his hang time – always important. JR discusses his shock and surprise when Savio joined the Nation, but I’d be a lot more caught off guard if he had a one-on-one match that ended in positive stars. Crush hits Funk with a belly to belly, while Faarooq questions just how black Flash Funk really is. Faarooq could easily answer his own question by kicking Funk in the kneecap and end his chance to reproduce, but it’s actually Flash who drives a knee into Faarooq’s pooter instead. Savio cuts off the ring, and Crush hits a spike piledriver for 2. Funk avoids a clothesline by spinning around the Nation’s arms like an Olympic gymnast, and Bart Gunn gets the hot tag. Powerslam to Faarooq gets 2, and everyone winds up in the ring. Faarooq goes for the Dominator, but Gunn slips off the back and hits a top rope bulldog. The referee, however, is too busy chasing Flash Funk out of the ring, and Crush quickly drops a leg to score the pin at 6:44. *
STEVE AUSTIN and DOK HENDRIX sit in the locker room to discuss whether or not Steve’s worthy of a main event slot on pay-per-view. Austin, pissed off, reminds him the Royal Rumble is a main event, and he already won that. “To me, Jackass, that constitutes a clear cut victory.” Austin accuses everyone in the office being part of a giant bureaucratic conspiracy, including Dok. “I will be the World Wrestling Federation champion, and you can count on it! … you piece of trash.”
HUNTER HEARST HELMSLEY (4-3-0) vs. ROCKY MAIVIA (5-1-0) (for the WWF Intercontinental title)
Lawler predicts Rocky’s a flash in the pan, and is going to be dropping the title right back. Hunter feels much the same way and paintbrushes Rocky like a bitch, and Rock ain’t tolerating that, putting Triple H in his place with … a hammerlock. You tell him! Hunter does it again, and THIS time Rocky punches his lights out. While Hunter sits in the corner seeing stars, Rock fails to capitalize, or do anything actually. Why on earth would you let him come back? Sure enough, Hunter tosses Rock over the top and baseball slide kicks him into the guardrail. Back in, a slingshot across the bottom rope leaves Rock gasping for air, and a kneedrop gets 2. A chinlock is applied, with the ropes used as leverage (how does this add anything to a chinlock?) – but that’s caught and nearly leads to a Triple H / Earl Hebner showdown. Instead, Helmsley refocuses and hits the high knee for 2. Rock goes to the well a second time, but using the small package, but this time Hunter barely escapes at a late 2. Infuriated, Hunter hits a backbreaker and gets 2. The fans rally behind Rocky, and he hits a crossbody for 2. A dropkick completely misses when Hunter hooks the ropes, but his kneedrop hits canvas. Hunter goes for a punt to the jewels, but Rock blocks. Helmsley clotheslines him anyway, and goes all the way to the top rope. Of course, he has no aerial moves at all, so he just jumps towards Rock and gets punched in the midsection. A powerslam sends Rocky to the top, and he hits a beautiful crossbody for 2. Triple H hits snake eyes, and gets 2 with his feet on the ropes. Rock comes back with a floatover DDT, but that fails to get the win. Rock calls for the shoulderbreaker, but a facebuster stops that quickly. GOLDUST appears now, rubbing his ass provocatively towards Hunter, giving Rock a chance to hit a German suplex for the win at 12:31. That was the best finish they could book? An ass massage? *1/2
With MARLENA joining Goldust at ringside, they surround Hunter … but suddenly A WOMAN WITH A CLEFT JAW starts choking out Marlena! She’s hauled off by security, while an irate Goldust screams at them to arrest that fan. Of course, we’d come to know her later as The Lady with the Oversized Clit, but before that we just called her Chyna.
Meanwhile, KEVIN KELLY is with VADER and PAUL BEARER, and for Vader feels the best way to communicate is by standing 2 and a half inches from the camera lens. I just thank god this wasn’t recorded in HD; it’s bad enough I can count the hairs on his chin without worrying about the volume in his nose. The message: It’s Vader Time.
DOUG FURNAS and PHILIP LAFON (4-2-0) vs. OWEN HART and THE BRITISH BULLDOG (1-3-0) (with Clarence Mason and Slammy) (for the WWF world tag-team titles)
Furnas and Lafon have completely owned the champions over the last month, but Owen’s trick knee has bailed them out a number of times. The champs appear to be on the same page tonight, which bodes well for their retention chances. Furnas tosses Owen around with no resistance, but the second Lafon gets in, he’s met with a monkey flip; setting off a series of pinfall reversals between the two. Lafon moves to a grapevine of Owen’s “bad” leg, but he crawls to the ropes with ease, while screaming “GET HIM OFF!” Bulldog takes over, and he’s on the wrong end of a sunset flip for 2. Bulldog tries a roaring elbow, but Lafon meets him with a spinning heel kick for 2. Owen attacks with a cheapshot from behind, and while he leads a distraction, Bulldog chokes Lafon in the corner. Owen goes for a springboard crossbody, but Lafon rolls through for 2. A frustrated Owen uses a gutwrench suplex, and follows with a backbreaker to put the champs in the drivers seat. Lafon goes for a sunset flip on Bulldog, but Owen’s too busy sharing his recipe for white chocolate key lime cheesecake cookies with the referee, so he doesn’t catch any of the 40 count. The champs regroup, and together use a standing vertical suplex / top rope crossbody combo, but Lafon miraculously kicks out at 2. Bulldog starts shit with Furnas, which is exactly when Lafon cradles Owen. Bulldog shoves Owen back into the pinning position, and celebrates their impending win; completely missing Furnas turning them over the other way. Owen still kicks out at 2, and stomps over to his corner to feed it to Bulldog for missing that. A shoving match ensues, and a Happy To Take Advantage Of This Situation Lafon smacks their coconuts together. Bulldog shakes the cobwebs to hold Lafon hostage, but Owen’s spinning heel kick misses and catches his brother in law instead! Lafon gets 2, but needs air before he can continue. Owen and Bulldog resume their way, and Owen makes the mistake of bitchslapping the big man. That costs him HUGE, because Bulldog knocks his ass out and storms off. Lafon comes flying off the top with a big splash, but Bulldog suddenly has a change of heart and saves at 2. Furnas finally gets the hot tag, and a dropkick to Owen gets 2. Owen starts getting thrown around like a midget in a King Kong Bundy match, and Lafon comes back in (already?) to hit a Northern Lights for 2. Furnas comes back in, nails a Frankensteiner, but Bulldog saves. Lafon tosses him aside, and a superkick / DDT / legdrog combo on Owen gets a SHOCKING 2! I would have bet everything on that being it. Owen fights off Furnas with an enzuigiri that sounds like a gunshot, and back comes the Bulldog. Clotheslines are fed to everyone, but a surprise crucifix catches Davey off guard, and Owen’s forced to save at 2. All 4 guys throw down, with Lafon being left alone with Bulldog. Phil takes a snake eyes, and Bulldog starts up the running powerslam, but Owen casually walks in and hits the Ready For Dead Lafon with the Slammy, drawing an idiotic DQ at 10:31. Bulldog’s sick to death of the cheap disqualifications, but Owen defends it as irrelevant because they’re still champs. Davey tosses his belt aside, and breaks the Slammy. And HE’S the face?!? Clarence becomes the voice of reason, but Bulldog’s veins in his forehead look ready to blow as he accepts the belt and stomps off to the back. ***1/2
Elsewhere, THE UNDERTAKER and DOK HENDRIX hang out in a dingy room. Doom is guaranteed for Vader, Bret Hart, and Steve Austin. I’m not sure Butch Reed and Faarooq are gonna be happy fighting a handicap match against those guys, but a payday’s a payday.
KEVIN KELLY and BRET HART have found a room with much better lighting. Bret promises no more excuses, no matter what happens.
VADER (4-2-1) (with Paul Bearer) vs. STEVE AUSTIN (2-2-1) vs. THE UNDERTAKER (4-2-1) vs. BRET HART (3-1-0) (in a Final Four match for the WWF world heavyweight title)
This match is under the same rules as a TNA Gauntlet for the Gold. Everyone’s in the ring at the same time, and people are eliminated either by getting tossed over the top, or through pinfall or submission. Taker scores the first blow with a jumping clothesline to Vader, but he takes an early risk going old School on Austin. It works, but Vader’s waiting with a belly to belly. They brawl to the floor, and HOWARD FINKLE takes a bump when Vader steals his chair. The Fink’s chair carries a dark curse (he had a microwave burrito before the show), and it turns on Vader, smacking him in the face via Undertaker’s boot. Hart tries to put Austin to sleep, but a jawbreaker stops that. Vader eats a chokeslam, so Austin sneaks up behind Undertaker with a Stunner … for 2. He’d be among one of the last people to kick out of that move for a long, long time. Vader, with a busted open EYE (Jesus!!), starts beating down Bret with a chair.

Austin and Taker move down the aisle, and Austin refuses to be intimidated by anyone, flipping him off and trying to piledrive the dead man on the concrete. Of course, Undertaker’s got a good 100 pounds on Austin, so a backdrop directly on to the cement takes out Austin. Seeing Bret Hart distracted, Taker suplexes him off the apron and gets 2. Meanwhile, Austin’s recovered and throwing ring steps at Vader, because he’s that kind of a guy. Vader’s left eye is caked shut now, and a whip from Austin sends the big man crashing right into poor Finkle again. He heads back in, and perches himself on the top rope to attack – but Taker spies him and crotches Austin. Vader remains a human punching bag, getting thrown into the front row of fans by Bret, and he crashes hard. That dude came to work tonight!
SYCHO SID watches from the back, and makes faces.
Bret and Taker team up to beat the piss out of Austin, and Steve just glares at the Undertaker, daring him to bring it on. Vader breaks the party up, and Steve’s so grateful he jumps on Vader with a Dick to the Face, and pounds the shit out of his eye. Bret turns his attention back to Steve, and hits a nasty spike piledriver that makes me cringe just watching him take. Vader regains his edge on Undertaker and goes for the moonsault, but Taker rolls out of the way and he comes crashing down hard. I’ve been super critical of Vader in recent weeks – but all’s redeemed right now, this guy can’t see a damn thing, is taking a man sized beating, and just keeps coming. I’m all in on World Champion Vader right now. Taker chases Vader outside, but winds up getting choked out by camera cables. Vader rolls him back in and gets 2 while Bearer whines. Bret tries to bust open Austin’s eye before dropping an elbow and getting 2. Vader grabs Bret and gets into a slugfest with him, but Bret kicks him in the pooter. That doesn’t seem fan-friendly – damn Bret, what’s happening to you? A Russian legsweep gets 2. Austin works an armbar on Taker and tries to dump him over the top, but he holds on. Back in, he nearly tosses Austin himself, before working with Bret to make Vader’s bad night even worse. Taker works on the eye, while Bret suddenly dumps Austin at 18:11, seemingly out of nowhere. Apparently Austin may have injured his knee here, but it’s hard to tell for sure since he didn’t break down and cry or blame it on his lack of smile.
While Sid continues to bob his head around wildly and grimace, Vader rips off his mask because he means business now. Bearer smacks Taker in the face with the urn, while Vader beats on Bret and heads up. Bret was playing a little possum though, and he brings Vader back in with a superplex! He manages to get the Sharpshooter on, but Undertaker, stupidly, breaks it up, sending Bret to the floor. Even Ross can’t explain that one; but we’ll chalk it up to seeing a few stars from the urn-shot. Austin rushes back down as soon as Hart hits the floor, and he beats the piss out of Bret. Vader takes out Undertaker and goes for the Vaderbomb, but Taker does the zombie situp. One uppercut to the Rocky Mountains later, and Vader’s flying over the top and out at 22:31.
Austin continues to work over Bret, now in the middle of the ring. Taker isn’t having any of that, and kills Steve with a clothesline. Bret eats a chokeslam, and Taker calls for the tombstone. However, Austin grabs Bret’s legs trying to pull him over the top, but that stops the move! Taker turns to knock Austin off the apron, and Bret’s able to roll up Taker for 2! Taker turns back to Austin a second time, and THIS time Bret capitalizes with a clothesline that sends him over the top and Bret wins his 4th WWF title (back when this mattered) at 25:06! Incredible brawl from four of the best performers on the planet. ****
SYCHO SID makes a beeline right for the ring, yelling and screaming at seemingly nobody at all. Once he hits the ring, he shares some loud whispers with Bret as the pay-per-view heads off the air. These two battle for the belt on RAW tomorrow night, catch it!

WWF Superstars: February 16, 1997

Last stop before the pay-per-view! And, like Shotgun, I suspect this is about to be another colossal waste of my time and yours, with no matches and plenty of hype. Stick around would ya?
Superstars kicks off with Shawn Michaels’ blubbering speech. I’ve said all I need to say on the subject over the last 3 days.
JIM ROSS and DOK HENDRIX are given microphones that don’t work, LIVE from Chattanooga, Tennessee. Jim Ross laughs it off, because ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN IN THE WORLD WRESTLING FEDERATION!

For reasons that I can only assume are designed to troll the hardcore fans at this point, Shawn’s speech is replayed in full, again. Christ almighty, even WCW took the gas pedal off the Roddy Piper replays once in awhile.
Ross: “It took a hell of a man to do what Shawn Michaels did.” Dok: “You’re darn right, what a class act!” … biting tongue.
The Western Union Rewind is … are you frickin’ kidding me?!? Again?!?!? Come ON! He’s not even on the pay-per-view – how about we talk about the guys who WANT to be there?
Backstage, STEVE AUSTIN is interviewed by Dok. Austin says all Michaels showed was the length of the yellow stripe down his back. He’s a quitter, and a coward, who didn’t want to face Austin at Wrestlemania. Dok: “Those are Stone Cold’s opinions which I don’t share.” Austin: “Are you calling me a goddamn liar?” Dok quickly changes the subject to Bret Hart, and asks if he’s able to put aside his problems with Bret long enough to concentrate on the match at hand. Austin promises nothing’s going to stop him tonight.
Sid is announced as the #1 contender for the belt, no matter who wins tonight. He’ll face the new champion on RAW.
The Austin / Sid encounter from RAW replayed, with Ross speculating that this could have been a preview for a title showdown tomorrow night.
KEVIN KELLY is with VADER, and he’s as focused on Bret Hart as Austin is. He’s already defeated Bret before, and despite what happened on RAW this past week, he still figures he’s the uncrowned WWF Champion. With a reminder he can’t be disqualified tonight, he knows it’s Vader Time.
Meanwhile, this past Tuesday on Prime Time Country on TNN, HILLBILLY JIM played guitar, while JESSE JAMES sang With My Baby Tonight. It’s been over 2 years, maybe it’s time to write a second song?
After a special video look, and getting the Dok Hendrix stink sprayed all over him when Dok picks him to win the Final Four, THE UNDERTAKER meets up with KEVIN KELLY. Taker reminds us he’s the most powerful entity in WWF history, and recommends the other guys worry more about saving their souls than trying to win.
HUNTER HEARST HELMSLEY comes into the live arena, where Ross asks him what happened on Thursday? Hunter promises that tonight he’s going to prove that Rocky doesn’t belong in the same ring as him, and if Rock refuses to give the belt back, he’s going to get hurt.

After JR picks Austin to win, STEVE AUSTIN’s music hits in the empty arena, and he marches right to the ring, even though absolutely nothing else has been set up yet. For god knows what reason, he starts taking apart the turnbuckle pads. VADER arrives now, with PAT PATTERSON and JERRY BRISCO throwing themselves in his way to keep away from the ring. And lest anything interesting happen, Ross declares us out of time! In Your House: Final Four … next!