(I’m actually just posting this in advance, as I’m out of town by the time you’re reading it, so if anyone else dies and renders something in here awkward there’s not much I can do about it.)
The SmarK 24/7 Rant for The Monday Night War – January 6 1997
– Man, time flies, as we’re now into 97 and rapidly approaching the point where these shows are gonna be like 5 hours long.
WCW Monday Nitro!
– Live from some place not mentioned by Tony during his hype of Hour #1.
Glacier v. Bobby Eaton.
Glacier throws a kick to start, but Bobby goes to the eyes, so Glacier is forced to expand his moveset by taking him down with an armdrag. They somehow manage to botch a leapfrog and Glacier goes back to the kicks like a little kid needing his security blanket, and the spinkick gets two. Another kick finishes.
(Glacier d. Bobby Eaton, “a variety of kicks” (according to Tony), 1:54, 1/4*) Nice to hear that even Tony isn’t in denial about the one-dimensional moveset of Glacier.
Mexican Strap Match: Konnan v. Big Bubba
Speaking of one-dimensional. Does a Mexican strap match mean that the winner is the first one to swim over the border and touch all four corners of the fence? Bubba starts whipping early, but gets tripped up by Jimmy Hart and whipped in return. I like that Konnan is dressed all in white and Bubba is all in black — takes all the work out of figuring out who to cheer for. Bubba slugs him down and touches three corners, but Konnan chokes him out with the strap, but Bubba chokes him out in return. Anything you can do shitty, I can do shittier! Bubba ties up his wrists and throws punches, as this is getting too homoerotic for my tastes, but Konnan whips him to escape. C’mon, it’s a guy in leather pants tying up another guy and whipping him and they’re fixated on hitting each other in the crotch — do you need me to draw you a picture? Speaking of which, Konnan goes low, and while he’s doing his silly sell, Konnan goes around and touches all four corners.
(Konnan d. Big Bubba, touches four corners, 6:06, DUD) The replay shows that the punch Bubba threw to knock Konnan into the last corner missed by six inches. Great job, WCW.
The Four Horsemen join us, without Benoit again, and so Jeff Jarrett comes out to plead his case for membership. However, calling Arn Anderson a “horse’s rear” is not generally the way to get on their good side, and we have an impromptu match.
Arn Anderson v. Jeff Jarrett
Arn elbows him down and chokes away in the corner, but Jarrett fires back until Arn dumps him. Back in, Jarrett catches him with a neckbreaker and gets the pin using the ropes.
(Jeff Jarrett d. Arn Anderson, neckbreaker — pin, 0:52, 1/4*) Too short to be anything more than a plot device. However, at the least the plot is MOVING, unlike the past month of shows where they just stand around and bicker. Debra seems to side with Jarrett, and Mongo sides with Debra, leaving Flair to be mediator for the whole mess. Arn slyly standing behind Mongo with the briefcase is a nice touch of subtlety. Flair sides with Jarrett, so Anderson walks out. This was really the beginning of the end of the team, as they never recovered from the split.
World TV Title: Lord Steven Regal v. Hacksaw Jim Duggan
This is supposed to be DDP challenging, but I suppose Duggan is almost as greasy and unkempt. Speaking of greasy and unkempt, Kevin Nash and Syxx take over on commentary. Lockup to start and Regal fires away on the ropes, but Duggan gets a clothesline and Regal bails. Back in, Duggan slugs away and backdrops him out of the corner, and Regal bails again. Duggan goes to the headlock and gets a slam for two, but Regal gets a cheapshot and a chinlock to take over. Duggan fights back and uses the taped fist to KO Regal, but time expires.
(Steven Regal draw Jim Duggan, time limit expires, 8:31, *) Mostly stalling. Duggan must have gone home too soon, or else the timekeeper is 90 seconds fast.
Jim Powers v. Hugh Morrus.
Powers gets a hiptoss but walks into a clothesline. Morrus charges and hits boot, so Powers gets a clothesline from the second rope and a kneelift. Dropkick, but Morrus catches him with a powerslam and finishes with No Laughing Matter.
(Hugh Morrus d. Jim Powers, moonsault — pin, 1:34, 1/2*) Good thing Powers has Teddy Long out there managing him. I’d hate to see how fast he’d lose without him.
HOUR #2! The hour that climbed the mountain and stood on top, according to Tony. I can’t even make up shit as stupid as the announcers say on the air.
Rey Mysterio v. Psychosis
Gymnastic sequence to start and Psy dumps Rey, but gets hit with a quebrada as a result. Back in, Psy clotheslines him out of the corner and follows with a wicked leg lariat off the top , which gets two. Another kick puts Rey on the floor, and he follows with a baseball slide and goes up with a dive, but lands head first on the railing in one of those awesome spots where you cringe in pain and go “OOOOOOH!” even ifyou know how they do it and know it’s coming. They fight to the apron and Rey alley-oops him into the post, and back in for a springboard moonsault that gets two. Victory roll gets two. Rey holds him on the mat with a headscissors, but Psy slams out of it. To the top and the legdrop gets two. Powerbomb gets two. Another one is reversed by Rey for two in a great near fall. Psy pounds him down again, but Rey flips to the apron to suck him in, and then springs in with the West Coast Pop to finish.
(Rey Mysterio d. Psychosis, rana — pin, 6:45, ***) This one should win match of the week pretty handily, I’d think. That bump from Psychosis was, well, psychotic.
Kevin Sullivan v. Chavo Guerrero.
Sullivan attacks him right away and tosses him, but Chavo comes back in with a missile dropkick. Sullivan tosses him again and beats on him on the floor. Back in, Chavo gets hung in the Tree of Woe, and the double stomp finishes.
(Kevin Sullivan d. Chavo Guerrero, double stomp — pin, 2:15, 1/2*) Looked to be energetic, but turned into a total squash.
US title: Eddie Guerrero v. Alex Wright
Eddie gets a wristlock and they criss-cross into a flying headscissors from Eddie, but Wright comes back with a rana and his own headscissors, and a dropkick puts Eddie on the floor. Back in, he goes to the chinlock and Wright reverses out of it. Wright takes him down for one and they look to do a bit of amateur wrestling, but each guy backs off. Eddie catches him with a leg lariat and the springboard senton, which gets two. He goes to an armbar and throws forearms, but Wright clotheslines him and goes to the chinlock. Syxx, wearing the US title belt that he stole at Starrcade, comes out to watch on a ladder, which leads Wright to roll up Eddie for two. Syxx standing on the top of that ladder is almost as tall as Joanie! Maybe their relationship would have worked that way. Snap suplex with a bridge gets two. Backbreaker gets two. Sunset flip gets two. Northern lights suplex gets two. Eddie fires off a backdrop suplex to slow the offensive onslaught down, but Wright hits him with a leg lariat. To the top and a double axehandle follows, and another northern lights suplex gets two. Check out Alex, bringing the snowflakes this week. Alex goes up again, but Eddie brings him down and finishes with the frog splash.
(Eddie Guerrero d. Alex Wright, frog splash — pin, 9:06, ***) Started slow, but once Wright started bringing the suplex love it just kept getting better.
The Amazing French Canadians v. Harlem Heat
The Heat cleans house and Stevie slams Jacques, as the Heat do some double-teaming in the corner before Booker spinkicks Jacques. Elbow misses, but he spins up into a sidekick, so Pierre catches him with a clothesline behind the ref’s back and Booker is YOUR king-in-peril. They pound away in the corner and drop Booker on the top rope. Jacques gets a piledriver and they do the boston crab into the top rope legdrop from Pierre, and that gets two. More shenanigans behind the ref’s back, but Pierre hits Jacques with the flag and it’s over to Stevie Ray, who finishes with a powerbomb.
(Harlem Heat d. The Amazing French Canadians, Booker T double team powerbomb — pin Jacques, 4:05, *1/2) Just a match, neither good nor bad.
Let us take you back to Starrcade, as Sting actually has to come out of the audience and whisper spots into the ears of Giant and Lex Luger to keep them from having a negative-star match, since they both sucked so badly at that point. OK, maybe not, but it’s not like WCW ever figured out how to pay off that angle.
Meng v. Lex Luger
Lockup in the corner to start, but Meng comes back with a choke, so Luger rams him into the turnbuckle, which has no effect. Meng clotheslines him and stomps away, so Lex loses the “First person to sell” contest for this week. Damn, I had money on him, too. Meng throws chops in the corner, and stomps away on the mat, and a shoulderbreaker gets two. I have to wonder: Does physics explain waving your arms around before a martial arts chop in the same way it explains windmilling your arm before a punch? Luger makes the comeback while I ponder that and uses the STAINLESS STEEL FOREARM OF DEATH, and you know he’s upset because he’s YELLING. Powerslam gets two. Meng misses a blind charge and the rack finishes, but Meng’s leg clips the ref. Barbarian runs in, which is a pleasant change from the nWo running in at least, and he gets racked as well. The ref counts that submission, because as the announcers note, it doesn’t REALLY matter who’s actually in the match. Yup.
(Lex Luger d. Meng, torture rack Barbarian — submission, 4:49, 1/2*) Everything you’d expect from a Meng-Luger match and LESS!
Main Event Interview
Hulk and his band of suckups come out for the usual blah blah blah, but Giant thankfully comes out and attacks them all at once, doing quite well at it until Hogan hits him with a chair and the beatdown commences. And with no comeback forthcoming, the nWo leaves, and Sting comes out to revive Giant. Geez, maybe next time do that BEFORE the heels all take off. Giant yells at the nWo, and we’re outta time! That last segment dragged on way too long.
WWF Monday Night RAW!
– Taped from Albany, I guess.
Owen Hart v. Mankind
Another oddball heel v. heel match. Owen quickly takes him down into the Sharpshooter, but Mankind makes the ropes. He fires back with the running knee in the corner and chokes him out on the ropes, but Owen elbows out of there and starts on the arm. Mankind slickly takes him down and tries for the mandible claw, but Owen bites his fingers to break. And steps on the hand. Cactus clothesline puts them on the floor, and it’s a Slammy v. Chair duel, which is won by the Slammy, much to my surprise. Owen drops him on the railing and hits him with the tag belt, and they head back in, where Owen takes over. Owen pounds on the midsection and hits him with a leg lariat, then goes to an abdominal stretch. Mankind hiptosses out and they brawl to the floor again, where Owen takes a drink tray to the head, and we take a break. Back with Mankind getting a neckbreaker, but Owen reverses another attempt into a DDT. He comes off the top, but lands in a mandible claw, then counters with the enzuigiri. Blind charge misses and Owen hits the post, and Mankind follows with a piledriver to finish.
(Mankind d. Owen Hart, piledriver — pin, 7:01, ***) Good brawl from these two, and the clean finish is always appreciated.
Meanwhile, Shawn Michaels and the Lothario family have words for Sid. Thankfully, Jose Lothario would disappear from Shawn`s life after this.
Let us take you back to the debut of Shotgun Saturday Night, which was a brilliant concept in its original form before it turned into another B-show.
Doug Furnas & Phil LaFon v. The Insiders
Diesel pounds on LaFon to start and blocks a sunset flip with a choke, but LaFon evades their attempts to double-team him in the corner. Ramon comes in and gets a blockbuster slam, but LaFon comes back with chops and a corner clothesline, into a crucifix for two. Snap suplex and Furnas comes in and headlocks him on the mat, but Ramon slugs him down to escape. Ramon goes to a standing armbar, but Furnas powers out of it and follows with an overhead belly to belly, but walks into an elbow from Diesel on the apron. Diesel clotheslines him and pounds away in the corner, and Ramon comes in with a pumphandle slam as we take a break. Back with Furnas escaping a submission move, but Diesel cuts off the tag with a sideslam for two. The heels pound away in the corner and Diesel chokes Furnas out on the ropes and follows with the running choke, and clotheslines him down. Legdrop misses, but Diesel keeps cutting off the tag. Corner clothesline misses and Furnas dropkicks him from behind, and finally it’s the hot tag to LaFon. He tries a butterfly suplex on Diesel and goes with a sunset flip instead when that doesn`t work, and that gets two. Off the top, but Diesel gets the foot up to block and brings Ramon back in. LaFon catches him with a northern lights suplex and tags Furnas, but Ramon was playing possum and hits a lariat. Razor’s Edge is blocked by Furnas, and he gets a rana for two. They get rid of Diesel and a Hart Attack clothesline into a rollup finishes.
(Furnas & LaFon d. Diesel & Ramon, LaFon rollup — pin Ramon, 9:03, ***1/4) Too much offense from the heels, but Furnas and LaFon did a good job of hiding their weaknesses and carried them to a very good match. I think Bogner & Jacobs could have been a fine team had they been allowed to grow out of the stupid imitations they had to do, as Bogner showed flashes of innovative power wrestling when he wasn’t busy doing his Scott Hall impression.
Sid still has nothing new to say. And they wondered why Royal Rumble 97 flopped?
Bret Hart v. Vader
Lockup in the corner to start and Vader throws hands on him while Shawn Michaels makes snarky comments on commentary. They brawl outside and Vader meets the stairs, and Bret drops an elbow off them, while Shawn asks the question on everyone’s mind: Who is “They” in “The Man They Call Vader”? Vince clarifies that it’s the fans. WWF ALERT: A cameraman at ringside has the dreaded logo on his back, with no blurring. Back into the ring, Bret takes him down with an armbar and works on that, while Shawn brings the funny. Vince: “He really needs a victory here.” Shawn: “Of course he does. It’s not like you come in the match going ‘I could really use a LOSS here.'” Vader clobbers Bret down to take over, and comes off the second rope with a clothesline as we take a break. Back with another one of those in case we forgot as Bret bumps all over the ring. Rather nasty flying splash gets two. Shawn notes that Bret is going around whining about how he was screwed out of the title against Shawn. Just wait, Shawn, just wait. Vader tries another splash and hits knee, and Bret makes the comeback. Legsweep and Bret slams him while Shawn points out that Bret uses the same moves all the time. Middle rope elbow gets two. Teardrop suplex gets two. He lifted that one from Shawn! Vader goes for a slam and both guys tumble out, and they brawl to the aisle, but Sid steals the cameraman while Steve Austin sneaks out and it’s KICK WHAM STUNNER for Bret on the floor. Back in, Vader finishes with the pump splash.
(Vader d. Bret Hart, splash — pin, 8:00, **3/4) Needed more time to really crack the upper level of main event style RAW matches for 1997, but Bret was bringing the power moves and Vader was up for taking them, so it worked.
Meanwhile, we discover why Sid wanted a cameraman — he powerbombs Jose Lothario’s son through a table in the dressing room to make a point to Shawn. Was that actually his son or just some local worker, I wonder?
The Verdict: Pretty clear win for RAW, I think, as everything was focused on the Hart-Austin-Shawn-Sid love triangle and Nitro continued to zig and zag with only the occasional good match in the midcard to prop it up. Plus three matches on RAW and they’re all really good beats the parade of squashes on Nitro.