The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro – 08.25.97
Here’s another one I’ve been waiting for a while to roll around!
Live from Columbia, SC, drawing yet another record-breaking gate of 8058, an all-time record for the city. It just goes to show how inept the promotion for the Clash was, because that show only did about 4000 people during this hot streak where they were selling out arenas with ease week after week.
Your hosts are Tony, Larry & Iron Mike
So coming off the Clash, the idiot announcers have finally figured out that Sting wants Hollywood Hogan, as we learned via Vulture-Gram. I’m still not clear how having a bird sit on the ropes indicates that Hulk Hogan is the target, but it took me a while to get the symbolism of the rat in the Departed so maybe that kind of thing isn’t my strong suit. According to the Observer, the bird actually botched its spot, as it was supposed to carry a sign that said “Hogan’s Soul” for the nWo to read, but it was dropped on the way to the ring because even birds are not exempt from Because WCW.
In another awesome tidbit, had the Steiners won the tag titles from the Outsiders at Road Wild as originally planned, the idea was going to be a shocking upset on this show where HIGH VOLTAGE would then win the titles from the Steiners. So I guess we dodged a bullet there.
Eric Bischoff joins us to start, and JJ Dillon patches in via phone and promises to finally make Sting v. Hollywood Hogan some way, somehow. Bischoff freaks out and calls him a “fat tub of goo” and goes on a crazed rant, at which point Sting heads into the ring with a Hogan t-shirt, drapes it on Eric’s face, and then kicks him in the head and shoves it in his mouth. Now THAT is a much more clear message.
La Parka & Psicosis v. Glacier & Ernest Miller
The babyfaces are deep into midcard nothing right now, with their main feud mostly resolved and the James Vandenberg crew off with the Faces of Fear now. The luchadors bump into each other like clowns but somehow manage to double-team Miller in their corner before they fuck it up AGAIN and Parka hits Psi with an enzuigiri by mistake. Kick kick kick kick and the ref is distracted, so Parka hits Glacier with a chair a bunch of times and Psicosis gets the fluke win at 2:10. This was REALLY bad. ½* And then Ultimo Dragon comes out to protest to the ref (does he even speak English in kayfabe?), at which point Silver King joins the heels in a beatdown and we take a break.
Ultimo Dra-GONE v. Silver King
Emphasis is Tony’s there. So this was an OK way to make a nothing match into something. Nothing fancy, just a little angle to lead into it. The ref gives Dragon the count, but he decides to continue with the match despite the beatdown before the commercial. Silver King immediately hits him with a bunch of moonsaults and gets two and follows with a DDT, but misses a top rope senton. Dragon tries a comeback and King cuts him off with a lariat before going to the abdominal stretch while using the ropes. King goes up and Dragon dropkicks him on the way down while Larry relates a story about wrestling Dr. Wagner in Guadalajara City in 1977 and the city getting destroyed by an earthquake the next day, including the very hotel that Larry was staying in. That feels like a bullshit wrestler story somehow. Dragon comes back with a rana into a rollup for two, but King reverses for two and elbows him down. Silver King goes up and Dragon crotches him with a superkick, and brings him down with a rana and dragon sleeper to finish at 5:30. This was some fine professional wrestling action and I approve of it. ***
Scott Hall and Randy Savage join us and they welcome their newest member: Diamond Dallas Page! Well, see, Page accidentally gave Luger a Diamond Cutter at the Clash, so they’re just assuming. Savage: “I didn’t vote for Page, but the nWo needed a weak link, so it’s cool.” Savage brings the SAVAGE. Tony is dubious that DDP is actually a member. YOU THINK?!
DDP joins Mean Gene to clear up this whole controversy that all the kids are talking about. Page thinks it’s a stupid question, and when Lex gets here, they’ll straighten it out.
Jeff Jarrett v. Chris Benoit
Jeff clowns around and Benoit just chops the shit out of him, then ducks an enzuigiri and hits him with a dropkick to send Jarrett running. “He took the 23 skidoo!” notes hip youngster Larry “Mr. Burns” Zbyszko. Finally Debra runs interference and Jarrett takes over with a figure-four in the corner, but Benoit easily escapes and hits him with a backdrop suplex before missing the diving headbutt. Jarrett goes up and Benoit follows him up for a superplex, but Jarrett does the Dynamite Kid cradle for the pin at 2:57. Benoit was FEELING IT here and apparently decided to try and have a **** match in under 3:00. Didn’t work but it was pretty great for the time given. ***
Meng & The Barbarian v. Mortis & Wrath
It’s a SLOBBERKNOCKER between Wrath and the Ballbearing to start, but Vandenberg distracts Barbarian and Wrath boots him down and slugs away. Top rope clothesline gets two, but he misses a ropewalk elbow and Meng comes in for a stereo flying headbutt that gets two. Meng is CLUBBERING in the corner as Wrath continues working the match alone, and Barbarian gets the Stroke for two. Wrath hits a cross body and makes what I assume is a hot tag to Mortis, who slugs away on Meng. That goes badly for him, so he gets a leg lariat for two. Meng just shrugs him off and tries a powerbomb, but Mortis reverses for two and it’s BONZO GONZO, which results in Mortis walking into the TONGAN DEATH GRIP at 4:50. Not quite a premier tough guy battle due to the wussy nature of Mortis, so I give it…
HOUR #2! The hour so tough that it can call itself a Gamecock fan and not have anyone laugh!
And now, history.
The Four Horsemen join us and Ric Flair wants an answer from Curt Hennig RIGHT THE FUCK NOW. So Curt comes out and he’s still wishy-washy and doesn’t want to give an answer yet. But Ric has one last card to play, and brings out Arn Anderson. AA then gives the promo of his life, talking about how they took four vertebrae out of his neck and now his arm is so weak that he can’t button a button with it. And then some guy in the gym slapped him on the back and he dropped his water, and while it drained on the floor, he saw his own career draining out with it. Poor Flair is literally in tears behind him as Arn declares that he’s got nothing left to give, and he’s got one last act as a Horsemen: To challenge Curt Hennig. But not for a fight, but rather to take his spot as the Enforcer in the Horsemen. And that finally is what swings it as Hennig accepts and joins the Four Horsemen. Dave’s take in the WON: “Don’t know where they are going next, and with Kevin Sullivan returning backstage at this show (he and Terry Taylor are said to have equal power when it comes to booking so many of the plans from last week have changed again) I don’t even want to speculate.” Yeah, we’ll get to that next week.
US title: Steve McMichael v. Eddie Guerrero
And then right away, Mongo defends his newly won belt, and Eddie attacks the knee and gets a low dropkick. Eddie throws chops and Mongo no-sells them, but Eddie dropkicks him down again and chokes away on the ropes, then hits an incredibly ugly tornado DDT for two. What was Mongo even trying to DO with that sell? Eddie with a rana as he’s trying to get something out of McMichael by sheer force of willpower, but Mongo drops him on the top rope and hits clotheslines and a tilt a whirl slam. Eddie tries a moonsault press, but lands in a tombstone and Mongo retains at 3:05. “Wrong day to pick on the Horsemen” notes Tony. I guess he should have waited until next week.
Rey Mysterio chats with Mean Gene about his injured knee and it’s bad, Gene, real bad. This brings out Konnan, who threatens to break Rey’s other leg, vato, and rip the dishrag off his face, but Giant saves and Konnan runs away like a punk. Unfortunately the Rey & Giant team never led anywhere because it would have been a fun idea.
Eric Bischoff kicks Bobby Heenan off the desk and spars with Tony (“Hey, is that Sting behind you?”), apparently taking over color commentary for the rest of the show. This not only (spoiler!) sends the show into a complete downward spiral for the rest of the night, but also apparently killed the ratings, which had peaked at the biggest number for wrestling on cable in history around the time of the AA promo. They had zero chemistry together and chased off the audience like it was a third hour of RAW, even on an unopposed night.
Cruiserweight title: Chris Jericho v. Yuji Nagata
Kind of funny to think of Nagata competing for that title. Jericho with a delayed suplex for two after they trade kicks, and a slingshot splash for two. Jericho stomps him down in the corner and we take a break and return with Nagata making a comeback before Jericho cuts him off with the springboard dropkick to the floor. He follows with a dive, but Nagata gets an overhead suplex in the ring as Eric notes “He’s a little beefy to be a cruiserweight”. That’s one way to put it. Jericho comes back with a Lionsault, double powerbomb, and finishes with the Liontamer at 4:24. This was all over the fucking place, made even worse by the bored crowd chanting for the local college team while Bischoff and Tony squabbled on commentary like something out of today’s ear-bleeding commentary hell. ½*
Meanwhile, Lee adjusts his lame Road Report dad joke to take a shot at Bischoff instead of Bobby Heenan. EDGY.
Harlem Heat is out to complain about the “#1 contendership situation”, as apparently the WCW committee still can’t decide who deserves a shot at the titles, and that brings out the Steiners and then Bagwell & Norton while Bischoff annoyingly blabs over everyone. And then it turns into a three-way fight that falls completely flat.
WCW TV title: Alex Wright v. Dean Malenko
Eric goes on a rant about how the audience is tired of “people trying to cram the same old crap down their throats” in reference to The Other Guys, which is funny coming from the guy heading up a show where the nWo runs in for the DQ 82 weeks in a row. They trade some stuff to start and Wright dances to set up a backbreaker and OH MY GOD I cannot take much more of Bischoff in my earbones. They fight to the top and Wright tries a flying whatever and lands on Dean’s boot, which gets two. Malenko with a leg lariat for two and Wright misses a dropkick, but Malenko can’t hook the Cloverleaf and Alex gets a backdrop suplex for two. Vertical suplex gets two and Malenko takes him down for the Cloverleaf, but Jarrett and Guerrero run in for the DQ at 3:45. See what I mean? This show is dying on the vine. *
Lex Luger v. Randy Savage
Savage attacks in the corner to start and puts him down with an elbow, then tosses him over the top rope while Liz takes the ref. So they do some lame brawling outside while Luger sells and Bischoff cheers Macho on like he’s Bruce Prichard telling Vince what a great idea he just pitched. Savage with the double axehandle to the floor as this whole match has been Luger selling on the floor and Bischoff droning on and on about the nWo and all the people he hates. “I don’t want to take too much away from this great matchup” notes Tony. Not much danger of that happening. Finally after FIVE MINUTES Savage sends him back into the ring and follows with the double axehandle for two. Savage follows with the sleeper and they’ve just completely killed off a super-hot crowd. This Bischoff-Tony team makes me want to rip out my earbuds and cauterize my own ear-holes so I don’t ever have to listen to it again. Luger makes the comeback with four atomic drops like someone spamming the finisher on WWE 2K and then here’s Scott Hall and DDP both coming in, leading to Luger accidentally putting Page in the rack as WE’RE DESPERATELY OUT OF TIME at 8:00 or so. -*
Oh my GOD this show was horrible once Bischoff took over on commentary. I mean, it took a really great show with a molten crowd and somehow killed it dead. Everything up to the Horsemen promo is fantastic, though, and well worth checking out.
And then there’s NEXT week, which I’ll have a few things to say about when we get there…