WCW Nitro: February 3, 1997

Last week: Tony Schiavone lost his luggage at the airport, and was forced to dress like this:
Will he right the ship tonight? Nitro is NEXT!
LIVE from Memphis, Tennessee, home of tomato based BBQ, sad country music, and Jerry Lawler’s criminal history, THIS is Nitro!

 HOLLYWOOD HOGANTED DIBIASE, and VINCENT arrive. One of them is playing air guitar and strutting around like a gimp; but I’ll leave it to you to guess which orange colored sea creature is doing that. Wolfpac kisses all around. Really Vincent, is this what you spent all of 1991 fighting for? Martin Luther King Jr. is spinning in his grave. Hogan claims to be on a mission from God (….), and he’s a little annoyed that Piper’s allegedly been following him around the country. If they weren’t a travelling company, Hogan might have a case for stalking. Hogan demands Piper show up and admit that he (Hogan) is the better man, and he’s even willing to put up the belt to force the issue.
Your hosts are TONY SCHIAVONE and LARRY ZBYSZKO, and Tony has in fact located his sports coat. Our long national nightmare is over.
Ray Mendoza Jr. just sounds like the name of a prospective serial killer. I’m not comfortable with his presence if my wild allegations are true, but I AM intrigued about letting his story play out. Mendoza is the second of the Villanos to start working in WCW unmasked, but let’s make no mistake about it, there’s a reason they wear hoods. Someone needs to go roll Bobby Heenan out from underneath his bottle of Peach Schnapps and tell him there’s a million ugly jokes just waiting to be heard. During a leapfrog, Mendoza doesn’t get enough air, and if not for a quick thinking Dragon, he may have lost his opportunity to produce Villanos VIII through XII. Sonny counts along with every near pinfall, doing a better job of being the Diamond Doll than the Diamond Doll. Mendoza hits his first offensive move about 2 minutes in; the clothesline. 20 years of experience, and he delivers a clothesline. His next move comes by dropping down on a leapfrog, getting a 2 count. Dragon has a near impossible time lifting the sandbag to the top rope, but they get there eventually. Dragonsteiner, Dragon Suplex, goodnight – 3:14. Intriguing serial killer or not, let’s part ways with Ray Mendoza Jr. 1/2*
See, now Kidman vs. Dragon would have been a perfectly acceptable opener. Did Bischoff owe a favor to one of the first four Villanos? We’ll see if Kidman’s able to get anything out of Glacier and his 3000 year old helmet. Of course, first we have to get through his 3000 year-long entrance. Even the Undertaker knows to pick up the pace better than this guy. A running forearm karate chop thingy excites Tony (“lariat!!!”), and otherwise he throws kicks and goes through an elaborately stupid karate posedown routine. The fans have finally had about enough of him, and turn completely on this match. Kidman comes off the top, right into the Cryonic Kick at 2:08. Glacier Wins. DUDality.
ICE TRAIN (with Teddy Long) vs. LA PARKA
I’m starting to think there wasn’t a lot of thought put in to tonight’s undercard. It’s clearly time to start the Parka push, and Ice Train is as fine a specimen as any to play victim #1. Of course, starting by taking a huge clothesline and running avalanche probably isn’t how we want to keep Parka looking strong, but I’m keeping the faith. Parka comes back with a spinning heel kick and he heads up top. Super spinning heel kick is on point, and Train hits the floor. Of course, paying attention to any Mexican wrestler is rule #1 of being on the floor, but Train doesn’t, and gets nailed with a slingshot corkscrew plancha. They head back in, and Train catches Parka off a springboard crossbody, powerslamming him. Of course, none of this matters, because …
THE OUTSIDERS, wielding pipes, stand over a fallen LEX LUGER. Tony and Larry IMMEDIATELY jump to the conclusion that they’re responsible without once stopping to think it’s possible they are the first on the scene, having just come from the bathroom where they finally fixed the leaks caused by Chris Benoit and Kevin Sullivan’s general disregard for public property.
Back to action, which features Parka being beaten up some more. The Train Wreck finishes at 5:16. Eat a dick, WCW. 1/2*
It’s a little early for the Shank of the Evening, but since “MEAN” GENE OKERLUND is calling out RIC FLAIRCHRIS BENOITMONGO MCMICHAELWOMAN, and DEBRA, my clock must need adjusting. The lack of Arn Anderson is a sad reminder that every show moving forward will feature a lack of Arn Anderson. Benoit refers to this period of the Horsemen as a “transitional period”, which is usually sports code for “we’re bottoming out”. Woman calls out Jackie, reminding her “you got my leftovers, girl”. Snap snap snap, mmm hmmm. Mongo declares his loyalty to the Horsemen, and asks for the right to replace Lex Luger tonight in his match against Jeff Jarrett. That sounds horrible! Debra reveals a bombshell: She’s won 318 pageants, and has an IQ of 145. Finally, we turn to Flair, and he remains a ray of sunshine, declaring everything fine in the Horsemen, and excitedly talks about how much sex they’ll all be having.
Harlem Heat’s gone straight up OG tonight, donning their retro street-rags. A darn shame they went to all that trouble to be job fodder for the Steiners. THE FACES OF FEAR (wearing white Nitro shirts – dudes, come on!!!) and THE PUBLIC ENEMY have somehow acquired front row seats to watch this one. The Steiners get the DDP treatment, giving some silver lining to the nWo dominance by seeing some new stars slowly emerge as top level heroes. Booker rakes the eyes of Scotty and nails the Harlem sidekick, and he gets some quality heat for his shenanigans. Scott responds by picking Booker up over his head and throwing him to the outside, and both Steiners pose to a god-like reception. Stevie Ray and Rick pair off next, and Stevie’s come out firing tonight, adding a new move to his limited arsenal: the removal of the opponent’s head gear. Rick takes him down, and Scott enters the ring in a foul mood, applying a Steiner Recliner and threatening to break his neck. Break it doesn’t, and Rick comes in, walking straight into a bicycle kick. Booker tags in, hitting a beautiful Harlem sidekick for 2. Unfortunately for him, the leapfrog is blocked with a catch, and Rick powerslams his ass with some serious force. Scott enters, and hits Stevie with a butterfly suplex. At this point, we are given a lesson. And that is, you can’t turn a savage into a lackey. The most savage warriors in the history of mankind jump the barricade and beat the living daylights out of everyone in the ring at 5:00. Public Enemy joins in because they’re followers, and you have no idea what I wouldn’t give to see Rocco Rock take the Tongan Death Grip for the next 45 minutes. Both of the teams who interfere wind up fighting each other all the way to the dressing room, while the Steiners and Heat argue with Marc Curtis over which of them were truly the winners. *1/2
MIKE TENAY and “SOBER” BOBBY HEENAN replace Larry, who has gone off to try and qualify for the PGA tour.
MIKE ENOS vs. DEAN MALENKO (in a non-title match)
It’s really something that they insisted on putting the belt back on Malenko so fast, considering all they want to do with him is fight guys who aren’t within the weight boundaries of the division. Enos reminds Malenko he is Far Smarter, and displays those brains by finding himself on the mat and tied up like a pretzel. I’m not one to argue his smarts. After all, it takes a whole lot of something to dress like this:
Enos continues to point to his head as he misses an elbowdrop, and nearly gets taken down with a backslide by a guy who weighs a little less than a newborn sea turtle. Malenko starts to work over the left arm, and Enos responds by grunting and squealing like he’s visiting a Czech Hostel. Enos rolls out of the way of an elbowdrop, and the fans come alive because SYXX is coming through the crowd. He grabs the Cruiserweight title right off the lap of DAVE PENZER who isn’t a very convincing bodyguard, and heads back through the crowd with the gold. Enos hits a powerslam while Syxx parades around, showing off his newly captured prize. A vertical suplex is blocked with a small package, and Malenko scores the win at 7:10. Yes, 7 minutes for Mike Enos on Nitro. *
Malenko is informed of his lost title, and he reacts by looking exactly the same as he did before he was told.
“MEAN” GENE OKERLUND decides to hear from KEVIN SULLIVANJACQUELINEJIMMY HART, and KONAN, which make up the bulk of the sad looking Dungeon at this point. Poor Maxx was forced to adhere to his curfew again. Sullivan calls Jackie the light in his tunnel. Hart, so emotional that he takes off his sunglasses, screams that he hates women in professional wrestling. Konan vows to take care of Sullivan’s unfinished business with Benoit, so that Sullivan can take care of his unfinished business with Jackie. Jackie brags about her all natural body, and promises to beat Nancy “like you stole somethan.”
It’s nice to see that WCW remembered they have a number one babyface in Page and have decided to actually book him tonight. This is a rematch from Fall Brawl 1995, where Page needed 8 minutes and an assist from Maxx to capture the TV title. Something tells me, he may have an easier time now. Page bitchslaps Renegade around, and winds up taking a corner clothesline and handspring back elbow. Renegade goes to finish up top, but Page dives at the ropes to crotch him and hits the Diamond Death Cutter at 2:04! 1/2*
THE OUTSIDERS stand at the top of the ramp, still armed with pipes, and dare Page to come at them. Page nervously looks around for an out, which just so happens to be the moment that STING and RANDY SAVAGE turn up in the upper concourse. Page uses the distraction of them to grab a steel chair and arm himself. Sting and Savage disappear into the night, and the Outsiders decide to save their attack for another day. This whole scene felt like a standoff, and there was a serious nervous tension in the air. Perfect segment, it doesn’t get any better than this.
One of the biggest misses of this WCW era was the lack of focus on the people behind the wrestlers. We can spend days on end talking about Kevin Sullivan’s relationship with Nancy, but we can’t get a 3 minute segment dedicated to Calo’s love of unmovable hats and sunglasses? Was he involved in a tragic Kraz-E Glu accident as a child? Does he carry his lunch under his toque? Is it at all related to the disappearance of Fit Finlay (may he rest in peace)? Catherine White REALLY should have been assigned to this; the lady spent weeks following around Cactus Jack on a dock in Cleveland, that chick’s relentless. Fans burst into a Boring chant, but I like to tell myself it’s a specific chant of frustration aimed only at Alex Wright. Of course, Calo lets me down by trying to climb the turnbuckle and slipping off the middle rope, drawing a chorus of laughs from this snarky group of Memphis folk. Fear not; the hat remains affixed. He goes to the well a second time, and hits the springboard crossbody this time. After he does his springboard armdrags (which make up 90% of his moves), Wright comes back with a spinning heel kick and belly to belly hammerlock suplex for 2. Wright gets knocked outside the ring, and Calo goes loco with a top rope plancha. Bobby and Tony finally notice that the hat and sunglasses never move, and with Bobby on board, you KNOW this is finally getting the attention it deserves. Tenay continues to call the action while they discuss the ridiculousness of his ring gear. Calo gets knocked out of the ring, and falls right into A FAN in the front row. Just as the dude gets to his feet, Calo runs into him a second time sending him sprawling, and the fans are eating that up. Buddy loses his shit, screaming at Calo, while Wright hits a plancha. With no further focus on the guy, was that all unplanned? If so, I dig it, because that guy was positively livid. Calo comes back in and hits a superplex off the top, but Wright kicks out at 2. Next, a super headscissors takeover knocks Wright down, but he misses a somersault guillotine. Heenan: “And his hat is still on!” Missile dropkick from Wright finishes at 6:38. Someone needs to call an audible and send in Gene to get a quote from the guy in the front row. This was at least seven stars; one for each day over the next week that I’ll think about this match and smile.
KONAN (with Jimmy Hart) vs. CHRIS BENOIT (with Woman)
Alright Chris, now would be a fine time to show us why you’re the Crippler. Konan hits his stupid tumbleweed clothesline and screams about Mejico. Seeing as how he’s the Hulk Hogan of Mexico, and seeing as how I have never seen any of Hogan’s overseas footage, is that how the Hulkster behaves overseas? Knocks a guy down with a punch and screams “AMERICA!!!” to a chorus of Japanese respectful silence? The first person to confirm Yes, this is a fact, gets to point me to their favorite international Hogan match for my own education. Benoit suddenly goes nuts, putting Konan on the top rope and chopping the ever loving shit out of his undershirt. A superplex connects, but it’s Konan who recovers first, and Konan nails Splash Mountain for 2! He goes for a second one, but Benoit slides off the back and nails a German suplex! Benoit calls for the finish, and as it turns out, the finish is JACQUELINE carrying a strap down to ringside, and the referee immediately calls a DQ at 4:16 before anything even happens. Chris rushes to Nancy’s safety and steals the weapon from Jackie. Jackie starts digging around under the ring for anything she can find, but comes up empty. How is that POSSIBLE? I’ve seen tables, chairs, ladders, sledgehammers, stop signs, fire extinguishers, a bucket of Curt Hennig’s poop, a bowling ball, kendo sticks, The Undertaker, handcuffs, baseball bats covered in barbed wire, and an entire courtroom of midgets under the ring, and you’re telling me that she can’t find ANYTHING? I’d encourage using the bucket of poop, but Curt Hennig neither works for WCW at this stage, and having a black wrestler throw poop at someone is probably all kinds of racist. *1/2
Honest to god, if they could bottle Mongo’s energy and give it to a GOOD wrestler, they’d have a mega-star on their hands. I can’t believe I’ve reached a point where I’m retroactively defending Mongo in a wrestling capacity, but the other guys really could have learned a ton from him, on how to work a crowd. So, months of frustration have boiled over to this point, and Mongo’s pretty much getting the Goldberg push at this point, leading to Jarrett getting his ass whooped all over the ring. Only a missed elbowdrop (which Mongo sells like it’s been amputated) gets Jarrett back in this, and he flattens McMichael with a clothesline. A top rope crossbody gets 2, and Mongo kicks out with enough force to send Jarrett 4 feet backwards. Jeff responds with a dropkick that knocks Mongo over the top rope, and he’s seeing stars; but it turns out those are just the sparkles on Debra’s enormous breasts. Debra doesn’t want Steve back in the match, but Mongo tries shoving her off. She won’t say no, and because he won’t do anything to harm his wife, he winds up getting counted out at 2:20. Debra gives Jeff a wink and a smile, and Jeff pours gas all over that fire by telling him “you just couldn’t get it done, could ya Mongo?” *
That was your main event, because “MEAN” GENE OKERLUND hits the ring with only a few minutes left. RODDY PIPER comes down to ringside with ONE OF HIS KIDS. Piper’s in a great mood tonight, and the fans give him a lovefest. He isn’t sure why the company is giving him a title shot, because he’s already defeated Hogan. Nobody plays the Superbowl twice, and he’s already proven what he needs to prove, so he declines. Right on cue, brings down HOLLYWOOD HOGANERIC BISCHOFFTED DIBIASE, and VINCENT. Roddy begs “Terry” not to do this to him, and from the bottom of his heart, just leave him alone. Hogan laughs at his cowardness, and threatens to do something “real bad” to Piper and his family if the fans don’t stop booing. Piper’s son seems genuinely shaken, he can’t be more than 5, and Piper gently covers his ears and holds him closely. Hogan demand that Piper admit that he beat him like a drum. Piper appeases him, and asks again to leave. Hogan refuses until Piper also admits that he’s The Icon. Piper agrees, just to get him to shut up. Hogan tells him that it’s one thing to be a yellow bellied pansy, but to hide behind a kid is the sickest thing he’s ever seen. As Piper leaves, Hogan starts paintbrushing him. Piper gently moves his kid to safety … and it’s on like neckbone. Piper rips off his belt, and whips Hogan like the lowlife piece of garbage that he is. Bischoff grabs a chair, but won’t get close enough to Piper to do anything. Piper steals the World Heavyweight Title, and accepts the challenge, holding the belt high above his head. And you know what? As much as Piper’s driven me nuts … he looks good with the belt.

Sting is clearly the longterm plan; but if the rumors are true that Bischoff wants to hold off until Starrcade, a quickie run with Piper from February through, say, April might not be the worst move they’ll ever make. The fans aren’t going to accept nWo shenanigans forever, and a good will gesture on their part may be just enough of a carrot to stretch us out through December.