The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro–09.01.97

The SmarK Rant for WCW Monday Nitro – 09.01.97

OK, I’ve got a couple of hours free here on my vacation, so time to finally get this one done and hopefully wrap up 1997 Nitro before the permanent switch to 3 hours.

When we last left off…

We start with a nice tribute to the career of Arn Anderson and a recap of the history of the Four Horsemen.

Live from Pensacola, FL, drawing a sellout 6483.

Your hosts are Tony, Mike and Larry.

Last week: Curt Hennig joins the Horsemen, not just getting a spot, but getting Arn’s spot.

Eddie Guerrero & Jeff Jarrett v. Chris Benoit & Steve McMichael

We should have suspected that something was up with Hennig, because he comes out with the team here flashing the four fingers, but does it like he’s flipping us off. Larry continues his enlightened commentary, describing Debra as “Nothing but an arm piece after Mongo’s Super Bowl ring”. Good thing Twitter wasn’t around in 1997 because I feel like he would have gotten himself in trouble at some point. Benoit works a headlock and slaps Eddie around to a big pop, but Eddie fires back with forearms in the corner as they’re laying it in. Over to Jarrett, who is the opposite of “laying it in”, and Benoit chops him hard enough that he runs away as we take a break. Back with Eddie doing some pushups to stall, and he beats on Benoit in the corner again and back to JJ for a dropkick. Snap suplex and Eddie comes in with a rana attempt, but Benoit turns it into a sunset flip for two. Jarrett comes in and chokes Benoit down, but misses an elbow and Mongo NAILS him with a clothesline from the apron in a well timed spot. Eddie comes back in and continues beating on Benoit with a side suplex, however, and goes up to finish, but Mongo trips him up and Benoit brings him down with a top rope superplex instead. HOT TAG Mongo and he stumbles around for his segment and nearly manages to fuck up every simple thing he’s doing here, before Jarrett clips the knee on him. And he can’t even take that bump properly! Figure-four on Mongo and Eddie tries to add a frog splash, but Dean Malenko sneaks in with his own splash on Jarrett behind the ref’s back and Mongo gets the pin at 11:46. This was GREAT while Benoit was working the entire match by himself and then went off a cliff once Mongo came in, but still ended up pretty great for a TV opener. ***1/2

The New World Order join us, and we’re OFF THE FORMAT SHEET. In particular, Hall and Savage run off the announcers and HOLY SHIT the leather skirt and boots on Liz here. Hall wants to reiterate that they’re here to tell everyone in WCW to STICK IT because it’s the working man’s holiday and they represent everyone who just wants to tell off their boss. Hmm, that could be a pretty good character for a babyface.

Silver King v. Mortis

Hey, our first dead wrestler showdown of the show. Larry notes that he would have stood up to the nWo and taken them out with ease, but then he’d be at war with the entire group and that would mess up his golf game. A true pro. Silver King gets a flip over Mortis in the corner, but Mortis hits him with a leg lariat and drops a leg on the back of the neck for two. Drop suplex gets two. Crucifix rollup gets two. Mortis pounds away in the corner with kicks, but King comes back with a backdrop and dropkicks to put him on the floor, and he follows with a springboard dive. Back in, Mortis cuts off the comeback with the Downward Spiral and finishes with the Flatliner (middle rope samoan drop) at 3:31. Switching the finisher to the Spiral was a much better idea. This was a good little match. **1/2 The Faces of Fear immediately charge out for the brawl, setting up their match at Fall Brawl.

Meanwhile, JJ Dillon finally pledges to deliver Sting v. Hogan, and Bischoff freaks out about it as Sting sneaks up behind him and shoves a Hogan shirt in his mouth. And then Hogan got credit for selling 5 shirts as a result of clerical error.

Yuji Nagata v. Dean Malenko

I sense a style clash here. Dean works the arm to start, but Nagata reverses to the leg himself with a kneebar. Dean makes the ropes and takes him down into a facelock. Nagata makes the ropes and throws kicks, but Dean reverses down into a cross armbreaker which goes nowhere. Dean with the side suplex for two. And then Nagata catches him with a vicious exploder right on his head, and Jeff Jarrett comes out for the distraction while Debra takes the ref. Jarrett necksnaps Dean on the top rope and Nagata gets the pin at 5:00. This ended up a decent little match, although the finish was crappy. More fun with Larry, as he spends the match burying Nagata’s legit shooting credentials and basically talking about how he’d school him on the mat and such. **1/2

HOUR #2! The hour that told the Rock to take some acting classes!

La Parka v. Ultimo Dragon

Larry notes that there’s a famous saying that the Japanese “have seven hearts”. Is he perhaps confusing them with cows? Because I’ve never heard that saying. Parka quickly chops Dragon down, but he just gets all fired up and takes Parka to the floor with a headscissors. Parka hauls him out for the brawl out there, and sidesteps a handspring elbow as Dragon lands on the railing. Onoo tries to go after Dragon, but Parka hits Dragon with a tope suicida and they both splat into the railing as a result. Back in, Parka with a powerbomb and he stops to strut, and only gets two as a result. Well, you gotta strut sometimes. Parka with a belly to belly for two. Parka hangs him in the tree of woe and kicks him down for two off that. Dragon comes back with a short clothesline and follows with a quebrada for two, but Parka powerslams him for two. Dragon fires back with the kick combo and bridges out of a fallaway slam for two, but Onoo trips him up. Parka suddenly produces a chair as if by magic, but Dragon dropkicks it back in his face and gets the pin at 4:42. This was GREAT. Short but all action. ***

Buff Bagwell v. Glacier

Now HERE’S a style clash. Bagwell mocks the martial arts to start and dodges some kicks, but stops to laugh about it and gets kicked in the head. Bagwell stops for him advice from Vincent outside, and that advice? “Make sure to set up an autograph booth after you retire. I hear it’s big money!” Back in, Glacier works the arm, but Vincent trips him up and Bagwell takes over with a dropkick for two. Buff elbows him down for two, but Glacier gets a crossbody for two. Bagwell charges and hits boot, and Glacier makes the comeback as of course Larry knows exactly how Glacier needs to make his comeback and is two steps ahead. Glacier tries a crossbody but they botch that one to high heaven and Glacier flops to the mat before recovering with kicks on both Vincent and Bagwell. But then he tries a superplex as well for some reason, and Vincent trips him up again and the Buff Blockbuster finishes at 6:25. This would end the undefeated streak of Glacier and that was it for his push in general. Match was OK time-filler. *1/2

Meanwhile, let’s take a look at the career of Roddy Piper for some reason.

Villano IV v. Lizmark Jr.

Villano works the arm and Lizmark flips into a snapmare and follows with a headscissors and backbreaker as the hot crowd is already dead and turning on the match. Keeping in mind that Lizmark was the guy who they wanted to push as the big star of the division at this point. Villano comes back with a clothesline while Raven wanders out through the crowd to further trivialize the match. Lizmark comes back and puts IV on the floor and follows with a crossbody to the floor, but V switches in behind the ref’s back. Lizmark powerslams him for two regardless and hits a quebrada to finish at 4:10. Lizmark didn’t have whatever they were looking for out of him. *1/2

Lex Luger joins us and he’s pretty sure he can work with DDP leading up to them teaming up in WarGames. Well that would be a moot point soon anyway. So Lex wants to bury the hatchet and calls out Page, but he doesn’t answer. GHOSTED, as the kids would say.

Meanwhile, the Nitro Girl routine is interrupted by DISCO INFERNO, who has crawled out from under a rock according to Tony. AKA couldn’t get signed by the WWF and came crawling back. So he gets into a shoving match with Alex Wright on the way to the ring.

World TV title: Alex Wright v. Hugh Morrus

Morrus offers some dancing of his own to start and pounds away in the corner, as Wright runs away. Back in, Morrus beats on him in the corner again, but Wright hits him with forearms and stomps him down. Wright works the leg for a while, but Hugh comes back with a press slam and a corner clothesline. At this point, Disco returns from his rock and turns on Morrus, allowing Wright to hit a leg lariat and get the pin with his feet on the ropes at 5:56. Pretty bad. ½*

And now, more time-filler, as we take a special look at Sting.

HOUR #3! The hour that told Cody to try his hand at promoting!

Stevie Richards v. Damien

Raven pops out of the crowd and DDTs Damien on the floor before the match, and then throws him in so Stevie can pin him, but Stevie is of course too stupid to realize this and decides to perform CPR instead. So Raven slaps Stevie around and he decides to take the pin at 0:44. This Raven stuff is DEATH. RED HOT CHEETOS FLAMING DIARRHEA DEATH.

At this point I once again wonder how people make it through three hours of RAW every week because I’m about done with this show and it hasn’t even been bad or anything.

Road Report with Lee Marshall in Milwaukee, as Green Bay does not want to be known as Weas-Heads. That’s a stretch even for him.

Big Bubba joins us to really kick up the excitement, as he declares that his name is RAY TRAYLOR, and he’s only human, flesh and blood, a man! Born to make mistakes! So now that he’s been kicked out by the nWo, and fired via Fed-Ex by Eric Bischoff (OH SNAP, INSIDE COMMENT!), he realizes that he’s better off alone. Funny how that works.

Ray Traylor v. Prince Iaukea

Yeah, this’ll get him over as a top level babyface. They couldn’t even throw out Vincent or some other nWo scrub for him to beat here? Traylor does his usual shit and blocks a sunset flip with a sitdown splash, but Prince makes a comeback until Traylor stomps him down again and hits a spinebuster as I’m mystified as to whether he’s supposed to be a heel or babyface or what. He’s not the good guy, or the bad guy, he’s the job guy. Bossman slam finishes at 3:10. No one cares and Ray was on the road to nowhere again before bottoming out with the fan holding up the “Will Job For Food” sign. And then, amazingly, he became the least likely comeback story of these Monday nights. DUD

The Four Horsemen joins us for an interview, but no, it’s not actually them. So yes, we get Syxx in his Flair nose and wig and Konnan throwing around a football. They bring out Buff Bagwell as Curt Hennig and “Flair” is going WOO and he doesn’t even know why! So “Hennig” has a dog named spot and can’t give an answer, so we get Kevin Nash as AA, wearing a neck brace and carrying a cooler of beer. Nash just being funny is always amazing. So he gets some great lines, talking about his “average carpentry skills” and how the hand going numb was a problem because that’s the one he uses to open beer. He would always give you 100% when he came to town, even when he was drunk or hungover (especially while agenting matches) while Flair cries in the background. He doesn’t want to fight Hennig, because he hasn’t won a fight in 20 years. He doesn’t have much to offer because the beer’s spoken for, but dog spot liver spot etc. Unfortunately Nash beats the “spot” bit into the ground and this goes on too long as a result. So of course the idea was supposed to be that the real Horsemen run out and clean house afterwards to pay off the bit after the heat generated by doing the “Farewell to Arn” soundbites all night, but Bischoff nixed that and instead they got nothing. I will say, the skit was hilarious for the most part, with lots of little touches beyond the often-quoted “spot” stuff, but it just resulted in the Horsemen getting beat and beat and beat and then breaking up. And we’ll leave it at that.

WCW Cruiserweight title: Chris Jericho v. Chavo Guerrero Jr.

Amazingly, Jericho has “Break the Wall Down” as his music 2 years before jumping to the WWF! That actually makes Jericho look like a bigger star here, oddly enough. Eddie immediately comes out and demands that Chavo give up his title shot on behalf of his Uncle Eddie, but then Scotty Riggs also wants a shot for some reason, as do Prince Iaukea and Damien and every other geek who already lost in 15 seconds tonight. This turns into a cruiserweight geek battle royal filled with pointless highspots that goes nowhere and leads to nothing, which is the mantra of WCW headed into 1998. This includes the ignominious debut of Super Astro, the current Rey Bucanero, who does some stuff and then disappears along with everyone else and I don’t think ever comes back to WCW again. Can’t say as I blame him.

Hollywood Hogan joins us and he’s not afraid of Sting, and in fact suggests having his wrinkled trenchcoat dry-cleaned. So he calls out Sting RIGHT NOW for his title match, but of course Sting doesn’t come out because they’ve already peaked the story with the Clash nonsense but they’ve still gotta stretch out this storyline for another . So instead, Bischoff calls out JJ Dillon and they lay him out and spraypaint “Bite me” on him. Yup.

Lex Luger & Diamond Dallas Page v. Randy Savage & Scott Hall

And thankfully we limp to the main event. DDP slugs away on Hall in the corner to start and follows with more on Macho and we take a break. Back with Hall working on Page’s arm and the nWo double-teams in the corner and that goes on for a good while. They beat on Page and beat on Page and beat on Page and finally it’s hot tag Luger, but he does his usual half-assed atomic drops and then hits Page with the STAINLESS STEEL FOREARM OF DEATH by mistake and Hall gets the pin at 9:30. WCW looks like goobers, bad guys win, film at 11. DUD

Holy CRAP did this show drag after the first two hours. However, the first two really were great, and it’s one of the most famous episodes ever, so it’s definitely worth a look.