The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro–07.22.97

The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro – 07.22.97

Strangely, this is TUESDAY Nitro for whatever scheduling reasons.

Live from Jacksonville, FL, drawing a sellout of 7465.

Your hosts are Tony, Larry and Iron Mike.

Hollywood Hogan joins us to start, and Eric is worried that they’re working too hard out there, so they cut the promo while laying in the ring. Hogan is the man and no one else is as big of a star and can’t lace his boots and blah blah blah. So he accepts Lex Luger’s challenge for Road Wild and promises to break the Rack and then break Luger in half.

Konnan v. Tsubasa

K-Dog completely squashes the masked kid in 0:27 with the Tequila Sunrise, and that’s that.

World TV Title: Lord Steven Regal v. Ultimo Dragon

Regal goes for the arm to start, but Dragon throws the series of kicks and Regal’s facials are great while selling them. Dragon tries his headstand in the corner, so Regal grabs him for a slam and goes to work with knees in the corner. They fight to the top and Dragon gets a sunset bomb off the top and both guys are down. Regal recovers first with an inverted suplex, but Dragon fires back with a kick from his back and then throws more kicks to set up the Dragon Sleeper at 3:27 and Regal taps for the surprise title change. So Dragon is once again the TV champion, which gets a big pop. That title kind of bounced around for most of the year and didn’t mean much until it ended up with Booker at the end of the year. Good but ridiculously short. **

Ric Flair is here to introduce the newest member of the Four Horsemen…Syxx? Well, no, but he’s sick of hearing about the Horsemen, who are the past and old. So Flair lays him out and Syxx whines that Flair wouldn’t do that if Hall and Nash were there to back him up. What a little weasel.

The Great Muta v. The Giant

For those fans of wacky WCW style clashes, I give you this trainwreck. Sadly, Muta just blows the green mist in his face at 0:50 and it’s an nWo beatdown on the not-so-Jolly Green Giant. Luger makes the save and the blinded Giant nearly chokeslams him, but figures it out and puts him down again.

Dean Malenko v. Steve McMichael

Did they just write everyone’s name down on a piece of paper and draw them out of a hat to determine matchups? We get a bunch of stalling and Mongo misses an elbowdrop like a complete lummox while Mike discusses “internet rumors” of Dean being named as the fourth Horsemen. Mongo slugs away in the corner and Larry brings commentary to a crashing halt with his advice on relationships: “Women are like elephants. Interesting to look at, but you don’t want to own one.”

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Jeff Jarrett and Debra come down for some bullshit and Dean pins Mongo with a small package at 4:26. Disappointingly mediocre instead of the awesome fireworks factory explosion of terrible it should have been. *

Jeff Jarrett offers Dean a spot in his new team, and Dean admits that there’s strength in numbers and decides to think it over. This went absolutely nowhere, of course. Maybe it was supposed to be leading to the rumored anti-Horsemen stable called The Apocalypse?

Eddie Guerrero v. Hector Guerrero

Coming off Eddie’s schooling of Chavo Jr last week, now Hector tries to teach Eddie a lesson. He gets dropkicks to start, but Eddie stomps him down and they get into a chase outside. Eddie catches him coming into the ring and pounds him with forearms, but Hector gets the amazing rolling cradle for two. Eddie bites him on the arm to break the count and then continues biting in the corner, but Hector fights him off and gets a superplex for two. Splash gets two. He puts Eddie on the floor with a spinning headscissors, and they fight on the floor, but Eddie kicks him low on the way into the ring and puts him away with the snap powerbomb and frog splash at 3:43. Eddie goes for more punishment, but Dean makes the save and out-powerbombs the powerbomber and puts him in the Cloverleaf. Hector, however, actually saves his shithead brother and then gets beat up by Malenko for his trouble while Eddie skulks away. Really entertaining but again, way short. **1/2

HOUR #2! The hour that secretly signed away Lex Luger in 1995!

Holy cow, that first hour flew by in the exact way that RAW does not.

JJ Dillon joins us to announce the contract signing for Raven, but Stevie quickly interrupts and leads Dillon down to ringside where Raven is seated. JJ wants to get the deal done, but Stevie negotiated the deal on his behalf and it’s completely ludicrous. A rental car, WITH cassette! You know, for those long road trips. Meanwhile, Raven rambles about bullcrap and tears up the contract, then beats up Richards again. This whole storyline was DEATH.

Lex Luger v. Scott Norton

OK, let’s see if Norton will do a job for the guy about to win the World title in two weeks or even sell anything for him. Norton actually does take a hiptoss, but immediately beats Luger down from behind with help of Bagwell’s distraction. So that’s one move sold. Norton misses a charge and Luger gets two clotheslines, which are no-sold, and why yes, it’s an nWo run-in for the DQ at 2:00. Virgil takes the rack in Norton’s place. Because you gotta keep Norton strong! I mean, Lex is only the #1 babyface in the promotion and challenging for the World title on the next PPV. DUD

Meanwhile, the Outsiders arrive and Konnan stooges out Flair’s attack of Syxx.

Mortis & Wrath v. La Parka & Psicosis

Sure, why not. It’s the battle of the skull mask heels! We cut to the back for a conversation between Flair and Hennig before the match starts, which leads everyone to believe he was the guy who supposed to be the new Horseman. Wrath throws kicks on La Parka and blocks a dive with his feet, and Mortis slugs away on Psi in the corner and then whips Psi into the corner for a crazy, Shawn Michaels-like, bump to the floor. Back in, Psi comes back with a corner dropkick and Mortis bails, so Psicosis nails him with a dive and La Parka hits Wrath with a corkscrew dive. Psi tries another one, but hits Parka by mistake, and then Wrath press-slams him on the floor. Mortis suplexes him back in from the middle rope and gets two. Top rope senton misses and the managers get into a squabble while it’s BONZO GONZO. Psicosis with a rana on Mortis, but Wrath breaks it up and a powerbomb/neckbreaker finishes at 4:55. La Parka quickly charges in with his favorite chair and they beat him up as well. This was a lot of fun, although I’m not gonna lie, I’m disappointed they didn’t get heat on Mortis so I could work in “Playing Ricky Mortis.” **3/4

Buff Bagwell v. Booker T

Crazy as it is to think about, should WCW ever go out of business and get purchased by the WWF, this might be a match that kickstarts the relaunch of the company and leads it back to glory again. I mean, what could go wrong? Booker grabs a headlock to start and Bagwell takes him down and does some various poses, but walks into a sidekick as a result. Buff offers a slap, so Booker beats on him and puts him on the floor with a hiptoss. Back in, Buff tries a splash and hits knee, and Booker elbows him down, but Buff chokes him out on the ropes. Buff slugs away in the corner and follows with a lariat for two, but gets into a shoving match with Nick Patrick and Booker rolls him up for two off that. Booker comes back with a flying forearm and an atomic drop both ways, then hits the ax kick, which causes Bagwell to pop up in shock, and Booker puts him down with the sidekick for two. Patrick gets distracted, however, and Norton clotheslines Booker to set up the Blockbuster for the pin at 5:47. And so the first halting steps of Booker’s single push begins. **1/2

Rey Mysterio is here on crutches because his knee is all fucked up. Good thing that’s not a problem for him these days! Konnan interrupts and kicks the crutch away like a big mean meanie until a bunch of assorted luchadors make the save.

Michael Wallstreet v. Curt Hennig

Hennig has incredibly generic rock music for his entrance, and Wallstreet is still doing the bizarre anti-WCW gimmick that never went anywhere. They trade some stuff and NOW YOU’RE GONNA SEE…uh…a fisherman’s suplex at 0:48. DDP storms in for the attack and Hennig tries to suplex him as well, but Page reverses into the Diamond Cutter and all the usual idiots break it up.

WCW World tag titles: The Outsiders v. Ric Flair & Chris Benoit

So despite all the months of bullshit and fuck finishes to make the Steiners into the #1 contenders, Flair and Benoit just get an unadvertised title shot out of nowhere here. They didn’t even hype the match! It was just like “After the break, our tag team main event” and then during entrances they go “Oh by the way it’s for the tag titles.” Tony explains about the whole Wolfpac situation, and for those of you reading today I would probably liken it to LUCHA HOUSE PARTY RULES. Benoit legwhips Hall and suplexes him for two, so he backs off and brings in Nash. Flair comes in with chops on Nash, but Kev just shoves him down and pounds away with knees in the corner. Flair keeps fighting and Nash throws him off again and follows with the side slam for two. They beat on Flair in the corner and Nash chokes him out. Hall comes in with a corner clothesline and Nash slugs him down and flips his hair a lot. I mean, he’s no Test. Big Kev with Snake Eyes and Hall adds a clothesline from the apron, but Flair fights back with a sleeper and Hall reverses, but Flair suplexes him and it’s hot tag Benoit. The Vanilla Midget kills them both with clotheslines while Flair beats on Syxx outside, and Benoit drops the headbutt on Hall for two. Benoit punches out of the Poochiebomb, but walks into a big boot and that’s all she wrote at 8:20. You can add “hot tag guy” to the list of things Benoit was amazing at in the ring. *** Syxx puts the Buzzkiller on Flair outside and Mongo comes out and hurls him away by the hair to save. The Steiners come out and we are DESPERATELY OUT OF TIME and done for another week.

A fun, breezy show full of wacky matchups that flew by. Unfortunately WCW’s booking is still nonsensical, but what can ya do? Good stuff this week.