The SmarK Rant for WCW Road Wild 1997–08.09.97

The SmarK Rant for WCW Road Wild 97 – 08.09.97

Live from Sturgis, SD, drawing somewhere around 6000 people. Tony inflates this to “over 20,000 people”.

Your hosts are Tony, Bobby & Dusty

So there was a LOT of political stuff going on that torpedoed this show, which we’ll get into as we go along.

Buff Bagwell & Scott Norton v. Harlem Heat

Tony’s second lie of the night: More people watched the Luger-Hogan title switch on Nitro than ANY CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH IN HISTORY on TV. That one’s so easy to shoot down that I’m astonished Tony even said it. Thankfully the Heat isn’t booed by the crowd this year. Bagwell gets some armdrags and dropkicks on the Heat to start and Norton comes in to beat on Stevie, but misses a blind charge. Booker comes in and slugs away in the corner and NORTON SELLS IT! Holy shit! Norton gets a sideslam, but Stevie boots him from the apron and Booker gets a sidekick and suplex as the Heat seem to be working heel a bit. Booker with a flying forearm for two, but Norton catches a kick and slams him, allowing Bagwell to get what appears to be a hot tag. He runs wild for a bit and then Stevie pulls down to the top rope to put him on the floor for some abuse. What a weird match. Tony points out the inherent danger of the outdoor setting, because…uh….there’s a lot of rocks and stuff out there. It can be very dangerous, you see. Well spotted. Really earning your money there. Back in the ring, Booker with an ax kick on Bagwell for two and he goes to the chinlock, but Bagwell comes back with a clothesline out of the corner. I’m impressed how smoothly Bagwell just goes back to working babyface here, and he was turning into a top level worker before his neck got wrecked. So Jacqueline heads down to ringside to join the Heat as Booker goes to another chinlock. Bagwell actually fights out of a powerbomb attempt and hits his own, and it’s hot tag Norton, who to be fair is an ideal hot tag man. It’s BREAKING LOOSE IN TULSA and Vincent trips up Stevie and gets pounded for it, but Norton hits Booker with a shoulderbreaker in the ring. This brings Jackie in to interfere, and the Harlem Sidekick finishes Norton at 10:18 with Jackie holding the foot down. What a weird match. It was good, I enjoyed it, but I think they overcompensated for last year’s reaction to the Heat and booked them as heels, which kind of backfired on them. *** Speaking of backfiring, Jacqueline was a major downgrade from Sherri and never clicked with the team.

MEXICAN DEATH MATCH: Konnan v. Rey Mysterio Jr.

So this was set up by Rey getting his knee injured by Konnan, and then on the last Nitro before this, he revealed that his knee injury was healed and he faking. But in reality, it was not healed and he was not faking. I know, Rey Mysterio suffering a knee injury, what a shock. Rey attacks in the corner and hits a springboard dropkick, but Konnan elevates him into the turnbuckle and clotheslines him from behind to take over. K-Dog goes after the knee with a leglock on the mat and Rey bails to regroup. Rey comes back in with a rana, but Konnan clips the knee again and goes back to work on it. Rey fights back with a clothesline out of the corner, but Konnan takes him down with a kneebar and goes for the mask after a powerbomb. He actually pulls off the mask, but Rey blocks his face with his hands and comes back with a legdrop for two, but then tries a springboard moonsault, completely blows it, and hurts his knee as a result anyway. Konnan dropkicks the knee again and wraps him up in a stump puller this time, but Rey makes the ropes (in a no DQ match, mind you) and Konnan gets a belly to belly suplex to cut him off again. Rey gets a cradle for two and goes back to the top like a moron, and Konnan easily catches him with the 187 and finishes with the Tequila Sunrise at 10:52. Technically solid with Konnan destroying the knee in a logical manner, but it was pretty dull for something advertised as a no-DQ death match. ***

Mean Gene has HOTLINE NEWZ. Two new managers, one a former World champion, and one another story completely. I swear to god, if Jacqueline was one of the people being teased, I’m gonna demand my $1.59 a minute back.

Elimination match: Steve McMichael & Chris Benoit v. Jeff Jarrett & Dean Malenko

Now, I’ve been watching the Nitros leading up to this show, of course, and I don’t remember this match ever being announced, or the elimination stip. Granted I might not have been paying close attention because I mostly filter out anything with Jeff Jarrett. Dusty is FLUBBERGASTED by one of the motorcycle skanks at ringside, which probably explains his rambling. Jarrett instructs everyone to stay away so he can strut, but Dean comes in to start the match proper with Benoit. They evade each other and trade suplex attempts before Malenko finally gets a rollup for two. Over to Mongo, as the Horsemen cheat to take over and Steve gets a tilt a whirl slam and stomps him down. Horsemen slowly work Dean over as the crowd is all over Jarrett, but the Horsemen are working heel. I don’t get this feud AT ALL. Benoit elbows Malenko down for two. Mongo with a sideslam and Benoit with a snap suplex for two. Mongo with a running powerslam, but Malenko tags out to Jarrett, who immediately “loses” a battle with Mongo and lets himself get pinned at 7:13 to escape the match. What a fucking stupid match. So Malenko is left alone and the announcers are aghast at wrestling not being on the up-and-up. Perish the thought. Malenko keeps fighting with a backdrop suplex on Benoit, but Benoit gives him a tombstone (urgh) and the flying headbutt, followed by another tombstone from Mongo to finish him off at 9:33. This was completely ridiculous nonsense, although the bits with Benoit and Malenko were good. *1/2

WCW Cruiserweight title: Alex Wright v. Chris Jericho

The sound mixing makes me assume that Jericho had switched to the Even Flow ripoff by this time and they’re overdubbing it. So this was political move #1 for the show, as Jericho had been booked to regain the title here by Red Rooster so that Wright could move up to the TV title at the Clash, but Hall and Nash went to Bischoff complaining that there had been too many title changes lately, which leads to something we’ll get to later. Wright offers a clean break in the corner and then chops him anyway, so Jericho fires back with his own chops and Wright bails to the floor and stalls. Jericho suckers him in for a headlock and works the arm, but Alex uses the hair and goes to his own headlock. Using good basic heel stuff for this crowd of bikers is actually a solid plan. Jericho fights back with a leg lariat and Wright bails again, so Jericho drops him on the top rope and dropkicks him to the floor. This of course gets over big as Wright sells like a stadium heel, with big gestures and exaggerated motions. Jericho hits him with the springboard dropkick and slams him on the floor, but Wright comes back with a suplex out there. There’s ROCKS out there, you bastard! Didn’t you hear how dangerous that is? Back in, Wright goes up and gets slammed off with a wonderfully overdone flying bump, and Jericho goes to work on the arm. That was a really terrific cartoon bump there, and kudos to Wright. Jericho misses a leapfrog and Wright hits him with a leg lariat to take over, and goes up with a flying stomp that seemed like Jericho was supposed to counter and missed the spot. Wright with a backdrop suplex and he goes up again, but misses a moonsault this time and Jericho comes back with the Lionsault for two. Jericho with the double powerbomb for two, but he goes up and Wright crotches him and follows with a superplex for two. Cradle off the german suplex attempt gets two for Jericho. Backdrop suplex gets two. Jericho with a rollup, but Wright grabs the tights and retains the title at 13:12. Wasn’t a classic or anything, but Wright really had a great showing here and understood how to get himself over. ***1/4

Syxx v. Ric Flair

They had a real good sequence at Slamboree so hopefully this delivers too. Syxx quickly gets a spinkick and offers some crotch chops, so Flair gives him some thrusts right back and chops him down. These men are indeed connoisseurs of showing off their junk. Syxx bails to the dangerous, rock-strewn ground to take a breather, and Flair offers more details on his crotch and what Syxx should do to it. These guys are a little obsessed. Flair chops him down, but Syxx puts him down with a spinkick and kicks him down in the corner. This sets up the broncobuster and a headlock on the mat. Syxx boots him down again in the corner and goes up with the Lightning Legdrop for two. Jesus, Flair is doing NOTHING here. Flair tries some chops, but Syxx kicks him down again for two and goes back to the headlock. I don’t know if Flair was still injured at this point or what, but the match has no heat and Syxx seems really frustrated with the situation because he’s trying all this stuff and Flair can’t get anything going. Flair Flip and Ric comes back with chops, but Syxx puts him down with the enzuigiri, but goes up and misses a senton. Flair goes to the knee and gets the figure-four, but Syxx quickly makes the ropes and hooks the Buzzkiller. Flair collapses in the corner and Syxx tries another broncobuster, but Flair kicks him in the nuts and pins him with his feet on the ropes at 11:00. Well this was a huge letdown. *

Diamond Dallas Page v. Curt Hennig

Page should fit right in with the greasy biker rednecks. Hennig won’t let him into the ring, so Page yanks him out and slugs away. Back in, Page throws elbows in the corner and they slug it out, leading to Hennig bumping to the apron (WATCH THE ROCKS!) before Page pulls him back in by the hair and crotches him on the post. Back in, Hennig takes his usual circus bumps off Page’s punches, but DDP goes up and gets crotched. Hennig chokes him out with the towel and hits the Axe Clothesline to take over. Neck snap and he chokes Page out in the corner and puts him down with an elbow for two. They should have just called him Mr. Parfait because he looks like he’s spending a lot of time at Dairy Queen. Hennig works the knee in leisurely fashion and Page tries a comeback and they somehow manage to blow a simple spot in embarrassing manner. It was just supposed to be Hennig trying a sleeper and Page doing a jawbreaker and it just went horribly wrong. And they totally lose the thread and stumble through another near-fall with Hennig getting a jackknife for two before Page clotheslines him for two. So the ref is bumped off the kickout and Hennig undoes the turnbuckle and rams Page into the exposed steel, the only thing more dangerous than rocks on the floor. NOW YOU’RE GONNA SEE A FISHERMAN’S SUPLEX, but it only gets two. Hennig goes back to the turnbuckle, but Page runs him into it and Hennig takes his usual bump off it as the camera zooms WAY wide so I guess Page is bleeding. Page with a pancake and the ref is bumped AGAIN, at which point Flair runs in and takes a Diamond Cutter. And a second fisherman’s suplex gets the pin for Hennig at 9:41. Just a big mess. *

HOTLINE UPDATE! Mean Gene knows who Raven’s first opponent will be, but we can’t talk about it here on the air. Where, you know, you might want to promote it and make money.

Randy Savage v. The Giant

Savage quickly tries a slam and Giant falls on top and beats on him in the corner. Well that was a bad tactical error on Savage’s part. Giant rips off Randy’s shirt and beats on his back, so Savage bails to regroup. Giant chases, he hides behind Liz, and Giant calmly moves her aside and tosses Savage back over the top rope. Back in, big boot misses and Savage takes the knee and posts him. Macho goes to work on the knee and Giant won’t go down, so Macho goes up with a flying bodypress for two. Double axehandle is caught and AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHCHOKESLAM finishes at 6:07. Not much to this one. *1/2

WCW World tag team title: The Outsiders v. The Steiner Brothers

OK, so your next bit of politics here, as the Steiners had been chasing the tag titles for months and won a series of #1 contender matches, then added former nWo manager Ted Dibiase the week before the show. So naturally they were booked to win the titles here finally, and then the day of the show, Hall and Nash go to Bischoff and, as noted, complain that there’s been too many titles changes lately. So, you know, maybe they should hang onto the titles longer. For the good of the company, Never mind that they’ve already started building the Nash v. Giant program and Hall v. Zbyszko program. And never mind that they were already doing advertising with the Steiners as champions at the Clash and everyone knew it. Scott overpowers Hall to start and suplexes him on his head, and a butterfly bomb follows as the Steiners chase them out of the ring. Back in, Nash takes over on Rick with the elbow in the corner, but Rick escapes Snake Eyes and gets a suplex. Scott comes in and walks into Nash’s big boot and he is your face-in-peril. Hall with the chokeslam and Nash chokes him out on the ropes. Nash with the sideslam for two and a lengthy Nash Choke in the corner, which sets up the dreaded abdominal stretch from Hall. That goes on for a while as this match continues plodding along with no heat for a year long rivalry. Nash cuts off Rick in his corner and they hold Scott in the corner and beat on him and beat on him. More choking in the corner from Big Sexy the Workrate Killer, but he misses a charge and crotches himself. And then Hall cuts off the tag AGAIN. Middle rope bulldog and he draws Rick in to distract the ref, but Nash also distracts the ref by mistake and Rick comes in with a Steinerline on Hall and it’s finally hot tag Rick. Scott dumps Nash and they hit flying bulldog on Hall, but Nash pulls out the ref for the DQ at 15:30. What a lame finish after 10 minutes of heat on Scott. And you’d think “Oh, well, the Steiners probably win the titles the next night on Nitro”, but NOPE. The Outsiders were champions for THREE MORE MONTHS! That one completely killed the crowd. *1/2

WCW World title: Lex Luger v. Hollywood Hogan

So no matter how masterful Hall and Nash might be at doing the thing backstage, Hulk managed to top them, since they had gone to Bischoff to prevent the planned title changes on the show, and then Hogan overruled their overruling and decided he was getting the title back anyway. So for those keeping track at this point, Hogan and Bischoff are on top of the food chain, then Nash, then most of the wrestlers on the card, and then way down at the bottom is the supposed boss, Terry the Taylor Made Rooster. And somewhere Kevin Sullivan is laughing at him. Anyway, although the argument could be made that Hulk needed the title back for the Sting match, that was still four months away, and also if that was the case, then why change the belt in the first place? Hulk throws chops in the corner and grabs a headlock, but Lex overpowers him to escape. Lex works the arm with armdrags, although he’s no Dennis Rodman. Hogan runs away and stalls, and back in they circle each other warily, like two proud warriors about to fight over the last steroid dose before Jon Jones gets it. Hogan drops an elbow and goes to a chinlock and choking, and he’s choking like it’s a title match and he’s Lex Luger. They take this thrilling battle to the floor and Hogan stomps away in the corner. He even calls him LEX LOSER! Now that’s some quality trash talking. PAY ATTENTION, KIDS. See, Lex’s name is “Luger”, but Hulk used wordplay to make it “Loser” instead. I know you’re probably thinking it could get more exciting, but it DOES, because now Hulk goes to a test of strength and they dramatically hold hands for a few minutes and grunt at each other. Hulk goes low and gets a backdrop suplex for two. Luger makes the comeback like it’s a title match and he’s Hulk Hogan and it’s CLOTHESLINE time. Hulk hides in the corner and then boots him in the gut and rolls him up for two. The big boot sets up the legdrop, but Lex makes the comeback again and it’s more clotheslines than the back yard of an Amish family. The nWo runs in and gets run off by Lex’s array of clotheslines, but of course no one from WCW comes out to help, except for the dude dressed like Sting, who turns on Luger and allows Hulk to regain the title at 16:18. IT WAS TOTALLY HIM! Sting always wears a plastic mask of himself to the ring and has a totally different hairstyle. And then the fans start throwing ROCKS at Hogan, so they all run for backstage. Why didn’t someone warn us about those rocks earlier? Granted, after that match, I’d have wanted to throw rocks at both guys, too. DUD

Meanwhile, the nWo re-annoints the belt with spraypaint, because god forbid one of these shows has a happy ending.

For the first little while I was like “Hey, this show was better than I remember!” and then we got to the part where I remembered why I hated the show so much at the time and I still hated it now. I guess I was ahead of my time.

Thumbs down.