The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro – 07.07.97
Last week! Curt Hennig made a shocking debut in WCW, where he wandered out at the end of the show and did nothing! It was the SHOCKER OF ALL SHOCKERS according to Tony. SMELL THE RATINGS!
Live from Memphis, TN, drawing 7800. So crazy to have anyone else running the Mid-South Coliseum.
Your hosts are Tony, Larry and Mike.
Curt Hennig is here to start, and he’s got his reasons. Gene accuses him of being DDP’s mystery partner, but Curt declares that he’s a free agent (although definitely not “free”) and this brings Flair out with immediate offers to join the Four Horsemen. Flair’s pitch: “YOU GOTTA JOIN THE HORSEMEN!” and then he does a dance while Hennig cracks up on camera. Man makes a strong case.
The Public Enema v. Harlem Heat
Booker slugs away in the corner on Johnny to start and hits him with a clothesline out of the corner for two. Mike Tenay again reminds us that TPE are former tag team champions. I feel like it devalues the belts every time they mentioned that. Rocco works on the Booker’s arm and yells at the fans, so I guess that they’re…heels? Weren’t the Heat just feuding with the Steiners two weeks ago? I’m confused. Stevie boots Rock down and Booker gets a sideslam for two. I should note that the Enema’s shirts have a slogan on the back declaring them “Violent MacDaddy”, which makes it sound like a failed hamburger experiment instead of what they were going for. Stevie tries for a powerbomb on Grunge while Booker runs out after an interfering Vincent, but Rock goes up and Sherri pushes him off and into Stevie by accident, which gives the PE a slip on a banana peel upset win at 4:54. Mean Gene interviews the Heat afterwards and accidentally calls Vincent “Virgil” before correcting himself, and then the Heat fires Sherri to end that relationship. *1/2
JOE GOMEZ v. Konnan
So apparently we have come to the end of the long, amazing Nitro career of the Desperado, Joe Gomez, and I feel like we need a retrospective. So everyone please post your favorite and most moving Joe Gomez moments, and I’ll pick the best ones and put together a haiku next week. Konnan pounds away in the corner to start, but Gomez (who is more la raza than Konnan could ever hope to be! His name is GOMEZ!) takes him down and goes to a chinlock while flipping his hair. His beautiful, beautiful hair. Konnan with a belly to belly while yelling “Orale” and then not even giving Gomez a chance to say anything! That doesn’t even make sense! Konnan with an armbar and rolling clothesline, but Gomez has a strong, manly kickout at two. Konnan wraps him up in the Tequila Sunrise and must have literally torn the ligaments off of Joe’s knee, because that’s the only way he would have ever tapped. In fact I’m pretty sure they doctored the footage and used a stunt double. A mildly disappointing farewell to an all-time great. ****** Farewell, Running Gag! You’ll never be replaced in my heart. At least I’ll always have the pictures that I printed off and my wife doesn’t know about.
Villano IV & V v. Hector Garza & Juventud Guerrera
This is the historic debut of the fifth Villano, although the faces are immediately flying all over the ring and dominating them. Juvy gets a crazy handspring bulldog and dropkick on IV, but V comes in with a backbreaker on Garza, and they double-team him with a hotshot as Tony wonders how you can ever tell the difference between them. Mike: “They have the roman numerals on their trunks.” Garza and Juvy take turns springboarding into V in the corner and get some incredible hangtime, but they try it again and V slams Juvy for two. Juvy actually overshot the first time and flew into the crowd, so they repeated the spot. Never repeat the spot! Unless you’re Joe Gomez, because he can do whatever the fuck he wants. Villanos with a double gutbusters on Juvy for two, but one of them ends up on the floor and Juvy hits a crazy dive and Hector moonsaults the other Villano for two. Powerbomb on Garza gets two and the Villanos get dumped to the floor, and Garza follows with his corkscrew dive. Back in the ring, Juvy with the Drunk Driver and (Blood alcohol level) 450 to finish at 6:14. This was a SPECTACULAR car crash match. ****
Speaking of car crashes, Scott Hall and Randy Savage take over the announce desk and Larry refuses to leave, so they do their promo while Larry sits there glaring at them awkwardly. As it turned out, they were actually playing the long game for once and setting up a Hall-Zbyszko feud far away.
Buff Bagwell & Scott Norton v. Eddie & Chavo Guerrero
BUT FIRST! The camera dramatically cuts to the parking lot, where a car pulls up, and then drives away. WHO COULD BE IN THERE? It could be anything! EVEN A BOAT! Thank god the crew immediately informed us about something as important as a car pulling out of a parking lot. Buff gets a dropkick on Chavo to start and has a minute long celebration of how amazing that it was. Chavo takes him down with an armdrag, but Norton comes in and no-sells some stuff. Eddie comes in with a missile dropkick, but Norton suplexes both guys at once, because of course he does. Bagwell slaps Eddie around, but that gets Eddie all fired up and he gets a dropkick, but Bagwell drops him on the top rope to cut him off. Over to Norton as Tenay extolls the travels of Norton in the Orient, but Eddie decides to run away and tag Chavo in. Whether he wants it or not. Bagwell goes up and misses an elbow off the middle rope and Chavo goes for the tag, but Eddie walks out on his nephew in an effort to toughen him up. Norton faceplants Chavo for two, but he fights back with dropkicks and manages to fall on top of Norton for two. But then Norton goes right back to killing him again with a powerslam. Eddie comes out to watch the destruction and yell at his nephew for sucking so badly, while Norton gets a powerbomb. Buff Blockbuster finishes at 8:01. I grow more annoyed with Scott Norton every week, put into a high level position he didn’t deserve and then no-selling everything like a complete ass and never putting anyone over. *1/2
La Parka v. Randy Savage
I’d say this ends the mini-push of Parka. Savage’s entrance takes so long that the nWo music actually runs out. Parka offers some strutting and the crowd chants for Jerry Lawler a little bit, while Savage bitches about the tights being pulled and then takes Parka down with an armdrag. Savage hangs out in the corner and Parka grabs a headlock, but Savage takes him down. Parka gets a small package for two and Savage clotheslines him down again while Hall heads over to the announce desk to annoy them. Savage goes up to finish with the big elbow, but Parka suddenly moves and hits a Diamond Cutter for the PIN at 3:11, and It’s DIAMOND DALLAS PAGE! HOLY FUCK! They completely got me with that one, hook line and sinker, because Page had the mannerisms down pat, and they were doing the usual bullshit with the heels goofing around and the announcers ignoring the match, and then unleashed that one. I got GOT and I love it!
Psicosis & Silver King v. Glacier & Ernest Miller
BUT FIRST! Eddie and Chavo are brawling in the back, due to Chavo’s inability to toughen up despite Eddie’s tough love earlier. The Cat throws kicks on Psi but Silver King hits him with a dropkick from behind. Miller with more kicks on Psicosis and into a kneebar, but Silver King saves and Psicosis gets a leg lariat. And then Mortis and Wrath run in for the DQ at 2:32. Meh. *
Ric Flair is here with apologies for saying that Roddy Piper would never show his face in Memphis, because he’s HERE. In mannequin form, of course. Flair does the whole bit about “carrying more stiffs like Piper than there are apples in Washington”, but then he turns around and Piper is there and the brawl is on. Piper steals Flair’s own belt and brutally whips him in the corner, but Flair fights back with his pants down and they exchange chops until Piper gets the sleeper and Benoit runs out to make the save. Piper still manages to fight off the Horsemen but they triple-team him and beat him down into the break. Hell of a segment, but the program died after the PPV and Flair abruptly turned babyface again.
Meanwhile, Tenay continues harassing Raven in the front row, but now Stevie Richards interrupts and he’s suddenly 1995 doofus heel Stevie instead of the guy from ECW Barely Legal. And then Raven punches him out. Keeping in mind that Stevie told Paul Heyman that he was retiring due to neck injury in order to get out of his ECW contract and be here, this was all the more lame.
Chris Benoit & Steve McMichael v. The Steiner Brothers
Scott and Mongo throw down to start and Mongo takes him down and works the leg, but Scott takes him down with a suplex for two. Damn, I feel like Mongo’s disappearance from the sport in 1999 robbed us of a Big Poppa Pump v. Mongo McMichael feud, which might have been the greatest thing ever. Benoit beats the crap out of Rick in the corner with chops, but Rick hits back harder and hurls him with an overhead suplex for two. Rick rides him on the mat and throws crossfaces, but Benoit fires back with more chops and the Horsemen double-team him a bit in the corner. The Steiners mug Mongo in the corner, but we go TO THE BACK as Randy Savage tries to cripple Nick Patrick for some reason. Back to the ring as Scott hangs Benoit in the corner and chokes him out (I mean, I suppose Chris has some experience with that…), and follows with a press slam and STF. Benoit escapes with a dragon screw legwhip and Mongo comes in and hits everyone again, with a sideslam on Scott, but he goes up and Scott follows him up with an overhead superplex. But then Benoit immediately dives off with the headbutt onto Scott to prevent a cover. Rick gets a hot tag and powerslams Benoit for two, but Mongo saves and it’s BREAKING LOOSE IN TULSA. This brings Jeff Jarrett down to attack Mongo outside, but Kevin Sullivan comes in with his dreaded balsa wood chair and smashes it on Benoit’s head, and Rick gets the pin at 9:13. This was what could be classified as a classic Mean Guy Match and they beat on each other hellaciously and it was pretty great. ***1/2
Hollywood Hogan joins us for the main event interview and people immediately flood the ring with garbage while Bischoff continues his pathetic man crush on Hogan. Look, when I express my admiration and love for a real man and true legend like Joe Gomez, that’s one thing, because what we have is real and true. Bischoff’s just a big phony. Thankfully, Hogan’s interview is cut short by Luger and the Giant interrupting and killing all the nWo geeks while Hogan runs away like it’s an NAACP meeting in the ring.
HELL of a show this week, one of the better ones of the year I can remember. That Savage-DDP angle was the bee’s knees, as the kids say these days. I’ll probably check out the Bash at the Beach PPV this weekend if I get time because I barely remember it and it seems intriguing, aside from the main event, which is not intriguing in the least.
I should note, however, that in the Monday Night Wars battle for the evening, there was zero chance of Nitro winning the night with me, and we’ll get to that next week.