Mike Reviews – WCW Uncensored 1997 (16/03/1997)

Hello You!

Last week we had a look at an episode of WWF Monday Night Raw from March 1997, so this week why don’t we have a look at the other show in town to see what WCW was up to during this period? I’ve actually watched this show quite a bit as I had it on bootleg DVD in the pre-Network days (Getting WCW pay per views in the UK was a nightmare for a long period as the official releases were super hard to track down. Thankfully Extreme Central UK in Manchester had this one for sale) and thus used to dip into it quite a bit.

WCW was easily atop the American Wrestling Mountain in 97 owing to the hot New World Order storyline, fantastic wrestling in the mid-card and the fact the WWF kept bungling any real attempt at a fight back. Of course eventually the New World Order would outstay their welcome, the great wrestlers in the mid-card would never get out of the mid-card and the WWF would stumble across the hottest feud in wrestling with Stone Cold Vs Mr. McMahon, but until then WCW was the undisputed king of Yank Grappling.

Uncensored was traditionally the WCW show where they threw stuff at the wall to see what would stick, with the “non-sanctioned” motif allowing them to book some slightly more out there matches than they would on other events (Such as the cage match debacle from the 1996 event). In keeping with that theme, the Main Event of this show is a big battle royal where WCW takes on both the nWo and The Horsemen. Originally The Horsemen team was supposed to be Roddy Piper and a slew of random guys, but that died a death in the ratings so Piper just recruited The Horsemen instead.

There isn’t really much in the way of big marquee bouts besides that one, with Rey Mysterio Jr actually finding himself in the Semi-Main, which was super rare back during this time period. However, if memory serves there are a couple of really good bouts on the under card and there’s a BIG angle to close out the show, so there should be plenty for us to get our teeth into!

The event is emanating from North Charleston, South Carolina on the 16th of March 1997

Calling the action are Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan and Dusty Rhodes, with Mike Tenay popping in occasionally

In our first WCW moment of the evening, the announcer running down the matches in the opening video states that the match between Rey Mysterio Jr and Prince Iaukea later on will be for the Cruiserweight Title, when it will actually be for the TV Title. Oh WCW…

Opening Match
No Disqualification
WCW United States Title
Champ: Eddie Guerrero Vs Dean Malenko

The story here is that Eddie had a feud going on with Syxx of the New World Order due to Syxx stealing belts, including his US Title. Eddie won his feud with Syxx, so Syxx stole the Cruiserweight belt from Malenko instead. They had a match at SuperBrawl VII where Eddie tried to help Dean, but ended up accidentally costing him the bout to allow Syxx to become the official Champion. Dean is of course super nettled about this, so we have a match between them for the US Title as a result. Simple enough storytelling and both men are great wrestlers, so that should hopefully mean an entertaining contest here.

The crowd seems to have taken Dean’s side over Eddie’s based on the reactions to the entrances. There is some good intensity to this one, as both men throw punches and kicks in the early going to show that they don’t like one another, which makes a change from the usual technical wrestling battle you might expect from these two. Dean actually stomps a mud hole on Eddie in the early stages and the crowd is INTO IT! It’s interesting how more than once Dean was actually pretty over with the WCW fan base and they never really made the most of it. He was hot following the Jericho feud in 98 too and it just petered out, at which point he became a Horsemen and they flattened him out once again when THAT got him over as well.

During this match we see footage from backstage where Rick Steiner is knocked out. Syxx, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall are standing over his body, which suggests they may have been the ones responsible for it. This will likely leave WCW a man short in the Main Event later on. Meanwhile. Dean grabs the Title belt and goes to town on Eddie with it before getting a lariat of all things for a two count. Dean “The Lariat” Malenko would have been an interesting direction to that character in I must say. Eddie responds by slapping the taste out of Dean’s mouth, as this one continues to have a fair amount of needle to it.

Eddie works over Dean’s leg and the crowd continues to be in Dean’s corner and on Eddie’s case. Eddie digs into his previous rudo past by talking plenty of smack whilst he works Dean’s leg over, which was one of the first times the WCW audience would have seen that side of him if they hadn’t watched the AAA When Worlds Collide show that WCW helped promote. Eddie as a snarling heel is always better than Eddie the smiling generic babyface, and the always stern Dean opposes that version of him well. Dean does eventually manage to dodge an Eddie dive to the floor, which allows him to fight back when Eddie comes up selling it big.

The work here has been good and the crowd has been into the sections where both men have brawled, but they’ve also been pretty quiet for the sections where both men have worked holds. They’ve been paying attention, but the heat hasn’t been consistent and it’s hurt the match a bit. They get more into it as the pace picks up though, especially when both men start going for near falls. Some of the action is really good too, especially when Dean hits Eddie with his own Frogsplash, only to then pull him up to break the count because he wants to punish him more.

Eddie looks to return the favour by trying to beat Dean with his own Texas Cloverleaf hold, as the crowd is into the finisher theft. Syxx joins us at this stage though to try and steal the US belt, bringing his camera with him. The camera ends up in the ring and Dean smashes it into Eddie’s bonce to pick up the three count to a giant pop from the crowd.

RATING: ***1/4

The action was good here, but it was a bit stop-start at points and the crowd heat wasn’t consistent throughout for it. It was still a really good match though and a solid start to the show. This was probably the highest up the ladder Dean ever got in American Wrestling

Mean Gene Okerlund is backstage, where he hypes the WCW hotline and then brings in Rowdy Roddy Piper for some promo time. Piper insults Hogan and makes homophobic insults about Denis Rodman. He also states that Ric Flair and Arn Anderson aren’t here tonight either, so they’ll be missing from the Main Event. Jeff Jarrett, Mongo, Chris Benoit and Debra McMichael show up though and say they’ll have Piper’s back tonight. Mongo was actually the best promo here, outshining even Piper, as he was fired up and promised mayhem.

Match Two
Psicosis Vs Ultimo Dragon w/ Sonny Onoo

Dragon was actually being called “Ultimate Dragon” by WCW at this stage, but they’d eventually get it right later on in his run there. Mark Curtis, my personal favourite referee of all-time, is handling the officiating here, so hopefully the two lads do some hot moves for him to react to. This is similar to the opening match, as the wrestling is really good but the crowd isn’t really with it that much. They do react to some of Dragon’s nice kicks though. I’ve never been a huge fan of Dragon personally, but his execution was always solid.

Psi can be hit and miss, but he’s pretty tight here and looks good for the most part. Dragon is presented as more of the star and Psi does a good job at selling his offence and bumping around for him. Dragon’s penchant for taking so much of his matches is one of the reasons I’ve never really been into him as I generally like a bit more give and take in these sorts of matches, but he gives Psi more here than he gave Rey Mysterio Jr at World War III 96 at least. Psi indeed gets to come off the top with both a leg drop and an elbow drop, but Dusty and Bobby are more interested in cracking jokes about rickshaws.

The problem with this match is that they mostly just do stuff without there really being a story told, which might work in some places, but this is a southern US crowd, and that audience generally prefers stories. No one really plays to the crowd and both guys are basically working heel, as Psi clearly isn’t a good guy and Dragon has his manager hit Psi with cheap shots on occasion. They had a better match later in the year at Great American Bash 97, as Dragon was clearly a face there and Psi was clearly a heel, so it gave the match an actual story that you could get invested in.

Both men eventually try and suplex one another off the top and the same time, which leads to them crashing down to the mat for a double down, and when they get up they both go for a spin kick at the same time to draw scattered laughs from the crowd. Hey, at least they’re trying something story based by presenting the idea that they’re similar and have one another’s number. I can dig that. We get some near falls, with Dragon muscling Psi up for a running Liger Bomb at one stage before giving Psi a really messy DDT from the top before following up with a Tiger Suplex for the three.

RATING: **1/2

This didn’t really do it for me. There wasn’t much heat, neither man really wanted to work as a face and it went too long which meant it started getting sloppy in the closing stages.

Onoo demands that Dragon get a shot at Syxx following the bout.

Mean Gene has a promo with Diamond Dallas Page in the entrance way, but he of course plugs the hotline first. DDP had recently gone face after refusing to join the nWo, which had led him into a feud with Randy Savage, a feud that led to him becoming a genuine star after Savage agreed to put him over. DDP says he’s there to challenge Savage to a match. They would indeed wrestle in the Main Event of the next pay per view and it would be a good match. Savage and Liz show up by the commentary desk, where they out Kimberley as DDP’s real life wife by showing off censored pictures of her in Playboy. Kim then shows up with nWo spray painted on her dress. Liz actually did a really good job as a snide heel bitch here. Savage lays out DDP and then threatens Kim for good measure. This was a great angle and the fact Savage actually put DDP over following it made it all the better.

Match Three
Martial Arts Match
Mortis w/ James Vandenberg Vs Glacier

Mortis is Chris Kanyon and Vanderberg is Jim “Sinister Minister” Mitchell. Both Mortis and Glacier were Mortal Kombat inspired characters as WCW tried to cash-in on the popularity of the games by presenting wacky martial arts styled guys. Glacier came in first after much hype and Mortis then followed as a dark figure from Glacier’s past. Glacier wasn’t a bad wrestler but he was kind of bland. Kanyon was a genuinely innovative and exciting worker though, so he made a good foil for Glacier and the matches they had were generally good, even if the characters were kind of silly. These days they’d fit right in if they were in a place like Lucha Underground or CHIKARA of course.

Glacier clearly passed his “selling so the back row can understand what’s wrong with you” seminar at wrestling school, as he yells “Ow, my ear” when Mortis hits him there. A for effort at any rate. The action in this one is actually pretty good, with Mortis bumping all over the shop in an effort to make Glacier look good and Glacier showing some genuine fire, even diving out onto Mortis at one stage. I’m not sure what the “Martial Arts” rules are, and they never really come into play, as both men just have a normal match. Vandenberg eventually distracts Glacier and that allows Mortis to cut him off and start working him over.

Kanyon was always a “Do a lot of moves in the heat” kind of guy, and that’s no different here. He even busts out the Buckshot Lariat at one stage, so I’m guessing EZ Money poached it from him and Hangman Page then got it from Money. The crowd, who have mostly sucked tonight so far to be honest, sit on their hands again for large parts, but the wrestling is a lot of fun and Glacier looks the best he’s probably every looked in a WCW ring up to this stage. Mortis catches him square in the face with a kick at one stage and it leaves a brutal thud. They are working super hard here and having a really good match as a result.

We get some near falls and they are done really well, with Mortis catching Glacier coming off the top with a Northern Lights Suplex at one stage. They time the kick outs perfectly, but the crowd just isn’t biting and it’s actually getting a bit annoying. These two guys are busting their backsides and having a really good match, but the ignorant crowd just isn’t arsed. Eventually Glacier manages to catch Mortis with a thrust kick out of nowhere and that’s enough for the hard fought win.

RATING: ***1/2

This was genuinely a bit of a hidden gem, even if the crowd did their best to ruin it. I decided to check out the Wrestling Observer review and Meltzer didn’t like it at all, which is surprising to me as I thought it was really good. I decided to check Scott’s review and he gave it the same rating I did, so The Meltz might just have been in a bad mood when he watched this!

Wrath makes his WCW debut following the bout and he helps Mortis beat Glacier down, so this feud must continue.

We get clips of Nash, Hall and Syxx running The Steiner Brothers off the road. The Steiner’s refused to file charges as they wanted to settle it in the ring, because WCW babyface’s are stupid.

Match Four
Strap Match
Buff Bagwell Vs Scotty Riggs

This is drag your opponent to all four corners to win. Bagwell and Riggs had been a tag team as The American Males, but Buff ditched Riggs to go nWo and they’ve been feuding ever since. Bagwell has a million times the star presence of Riggs here and totally outshines him as a result, even when he’s getting worked over with the strap. Riggs isn’t a bad wrestler, but Bagwell fits the whole “Buff” heel gimmick like a glove whilst Riggs is just bland as a babyface. Losing one of his eyes and going all grungy with Raven made him much more interesting.

The crowd is actually pretty into this at points, especially when Bagwell is stooging and mugging for the camera. It’s actually not a bad match and Bagwell is really entertaining in this role. I genuinely laughed out loud a couple of times when he was bragging outrageously after hitting a big move. This was a man finding a character that worked and milking it for all it was worth, and to be fair to WCW they totally took him off the leash and just let him do it. In modern day WWE they probably would micro-manage the crap out of it and just wouldn’t give him the free-rein needed to really get it over.

Riggs sells well during the heat, but the crowd dies again after a certain point. This has genuinely been one of the worst crowds I’ve ever seen for a wrestling event. I really did not remember that aspect of this show. They’ve sat on their hands all night outside of the odd moment, and it’s not like they’ve been given a bad show either. Everyone has been working hard and some of the matches have been very good. They do finally wake up when Bagwell shoves the ref and the ref shoves him back, leading to Bagwell begging off in the corner. In a funny moment though he apologises to the referee, but when the ref walks off satisfied he looks straight into the camera and says he’s not really sorry at all. Love it!

Riggs makes a comeback following that, and it looks good, and he manages to wake up the crowd again by going to town on Bagwell with the strap. The stips mean they can’t do any near falls as such, but they do deliver some big moves, such as Riggs coming off the top with a dropkick at one stage before touching three corners. Bagwell chokes him out with the strap in reply though, which leads to Riggs being dead weight and Bagwell being able to easily drag him to all four corners for the pretty decisive finish. Wow, I know Bagwell was clearly the guy with more potential, but they utterly Jannetty’ed poor Riggs with that finish.

RATING: **1/2

Another perfectly cromulent match that the crowd mostly couldn’t give two roosters on an Easter Sunday about outside of a few spots

Hollywood Hogan, Scott Hall, Kevin Nash and Randy Savage cut a promo backstage. Hogan says everyone is going to lay down for them tonight. Well, they’re the nWo and this is a WCW pay per view, so he’s probably right.

Match Five
Tornado Match
Harlem Heat w/ Sister Sherri Vs The Public Enemy

I’m not sure if there was a particular back story here, but booking TPE in a wild brawl is probably the best use of them, so that should hopefully mean that this match will be fun anarchic action. Sherri actually gets involved liberally here as well, as she could probably whip TPE all by herself. Booker and Stevie should just sit back and let her handle it for them! The match is pretty much exactly as you’d expect, as all five people walk around, hit one another with an assortment of weaponry and actual wrestling moves are at a premium. Still, it’s the first proper ECW styled weapons based brawl of the evening, and in moderation those sorts of matches can be a fun palette cleanser.

This is probably the most invested the crowd has been for a match from start to finish too, as they pop for the weapon shots and just generally have a good time. Annoyingly the WCW announcers do what they usually do in these kinds of matches by openly laughing and treating it like comedy, which kind of makes the match come across as a joke. Dusty in particular absolutely loses it when Grunge hits Booker with a metal bin. Like full on laughing fit where he can barely contain himself. Sherri is one of the best bits of the whole match, as she’s absolutely vicious and is remorseless when it comes to attacking TPE, outright choking Rocco Rock at one stage.

I must admit that Dusty laughing so much does finally get me to laugh as well, as his laughter is kind of infectious. I just don’t like these sorts of matches being treated like they are funny, because the guys in the match aren’t treating it like a comedy match and are trying to get it over like a dangerous weapons filled brawl. Tony seems to get a bit annoyed at one stage, as he’s actually trying to call it after initially finding it funny but Bobby and Dusty are just not playing ball whatsoever and are more interested in just amusing themselves.

They probably go a bit too long, as it’s around 13 minutes when they probably could have kept it under 10 and it would have told the story they wanted to tell just find and would have kept things a bit snappier. It’s still an entertaining wild brawl though, with TPE eventually tablising Stevie Ray outside the ring. Jeff Jarrett and Mongo join us though and attack TPE, as they were feuding with them at the time, and that allows Booker to pick off Rocco Rock with the Harlem Hangover for three.

RATING: **3/4

I enjoyed that for the most part. It wasn’t going to trouble the MOTY voting, but it was an enjoyable bit of wacky brawling action and the finish logically built to a match between Mongo/Jarrett and TPE at the next pay per view

Mean Gene is backstage with Team WCW of Lex Luger, The Giant and Scott Steiner. Rick Steiner was supposed to be on their team as well of course, but he’s gone to the hospital. Scott is obviously annoyed about his brother getting hurt and cuts a good fired up promo about it. Giant says he’s going to do some spring cleaning, and cuts a very good promo of his own where he puts over his team mates. Luger says the nWo have trashed WCW and that they have no honour. Adversity has brought Team WCW together and Rick Steiner will be there in spirit tonight. All three guys delivered there and it was an excellent promo segment.

WCW Television Title
Champ: Prince Iaukea Vs Rey Mysterio Jr

It’s always kind of been presented that Iaukea winning the TV Title was a direct response from WCW to the WWF putting the Intercontinental Title on Rocky Miavia, as it happened a few days afterwards and both of the wins were presented as big upsets. The accepted version of events is that Eric Bischoff saw Rocky win the IC Title and thought “I can do that better” so he put Iaukea over William Regal for the belt as a result. I’m not sure how much of that is true or whether the whole thing was just coincidence, but regardless Iaukea wasn’t an especially strong choice as Champion and he’d eventually drop it to Ultimo Dragon.

Iaukea and Rey had faced one another at SuperBrawl VII but the match had ended unsatisfactorily thanks to Regal shoving his nose into proceedings, so Rey got himself a rematch on this show. Mike Tenay re-joins the desk for this one, seeing as it’s got Cruiserweights involved in it. My best mate was a huge WCW fan back in the day and started watching it during this period, and as a result for a while he thought the TV belt was just for Cruiserweights due to this rivalry. This one has a 15 minute time limit as opposed to 10 due to it being on pay per view and not television.

This one follows the same path that a lot of the other matches on this show have followed, in that the work is fine but the crowd really aren’t that bothered. The fact its face/face probably doesn’t help on that front. Rey looks really good, whilst Prince is just kind of there for the most part, which is probably why this reign didn’t shoot him to superstardom. To be fair, Rock’s didn’t either if we’re being honest, as it took him losing the belt and going heel later in 97 before he really started turning into the star he would eventually become. It’s mostly a back and forth match, with Rey hitting the occasional hot move and looking smooth in almost everything he does, whilst Prince is mostly solid but lacking in any real presence or star aura.

Prince’s Underdog Champion routine doesn’t really work with a guy Rey’s size either, and it’s kind of odd when Rey is working him over and we’re supposed to think he’s in imminent jeopardy of getting beat, when really he’s the bigger man and Rey fighting from underneath would make much more sense from a storytelling perspective. With a responsive crowd the match would probably come across a bit better, but with this zombie crowd it just feels really flat, especially when Rey’s awesome high flying doesn’t really get much of a reaction. Both men get some near falls, with Rey getting a nice sunset flip bomb off the ropes for one of his, but they go too long and it really feels like it drags after a certain point.

They tease that they are going to do the time limit draw, with Prince retaining, but Rey grabs a mic and asks for more time. Prince agrees and the ref starts the match up again, which at least makes Iaukea look like a gutsy honourable babyface. Rey actually dominates from the restart, whilst Bobby decries Prince’s decision on commentary like the good heel he is. The crowd still doesn’t really care, and some of them even jeer and chant about how the match is boring. The actual match itself dragged a bit, but it’s been hot action since the restart. Rey looks to have it won with a pinning hold, but Prince counters to one of his own and that leads to a three count.

RATING: **1/4

This was an okay match in front of a totally dead crowd who couldn’t care less. Goodness me, this crowd have SUCKED. It wasn’t a thrilling bout up to the restart, but it wasn’t bad either and all the action from the restart onwards was fun

The Horsemen do a promo for Spring Stampede, actually on horseback for once.

Main Event
Three Team Triangle Elimination Match
If WCW Wins; The nWo has to give up all their belts and can’t wrestle on a WCW event for three years
If The Horsemen and Piper Win; then Piper gets Hollywood Hogan in a cage at a time of his choosing
If the nWo Wins; they get to challenge for any WCW Title whenever they want
Team WCW: Lex Luger, Giant and Scott Steiner
Team Piper: Roddy Piper, Chris Benoit, Jeff Jarrett and Mongo McMichael
Team nWo: Hollywood Hogan, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and Randy Savage w/ Dennis Rodman

Those stipulations basically rule out any chance of WCW winning because that would end the entire nWo storyline and it’s still far too early for that to happen. Piper or the nWo winning would make sense, as you can easily fulfil those stipulations and Piper Vs Hogan in a cage would probably draw some money. Indeed, that stip gets the biggest pop when it’s read out. The rules are that a member from each team starts and all three guys will wrestle for five minutes. Once that segment ends then each team gets to send a new man out after every two minutes thereafter. You eliminate someone by pin, knock out, submission or chucking them out over the top rope.

Our first three entrants are Chris Benoit (To Piper’s music), Scott Hall and The Giant. Starting with Giant is an interesting choice I must say, because he’s probably going to be knackered if he has to last to the end. Surely if this was real you’d want your heavy hitter to come out last when everyone else was worn down? This initial segment is pretty good, as Benoit and Hall can both work and are happy to bump all over the place in an effort to make Giant look like a beast. Giant doesn’t really try chucking anyone out though, even though he’s been controlling things for the most part and the two lads opposing him haven’t really been able to make any progress. He does eventually choke slam Benoit, but Hall breaks up the pin and then dodges a Giant attack to send Giant tumbling out to the fall.


Our next three entrants are Jeff Jarrett, Randy Savage and Lex Luger. Hall saving Benoit didn’t really make a lot of sense to be honest, especially as he could have had a member from each team out if he’d just let Giant get the pin. The action continues to be mostly good, with the three team set up leading to people always switching off to fight someone new. No one new gets eliminated though and we move onto the next section.

Next out are Mongo, Kevin Nash and Scott Steiner, as the ring is starting to get a little bit full now. Nash smartly just stands in the corner and lets everyone else fight, but eventually Scott Steiner grabs hold and gives him a suplex to a big pop. Scott Steiner has legit been the most over guy in the match thus far and his offence has looked great. Whilst he goes on his rampage, Nash throws out Jarrett so that Piper has lost his first team mate.


Mongo and Scott Steiner also go out pretty soon after via the nWo whilst Piper and Hogan become the last two to enter. Hogan decides to take his time making it down to the ring with Rodman though, showing once again how the nWo is smarter than everyone else.


Luger is now the last WCW wrestler standing, thus meaning he needs to fight against the odds. The match has mostly just become your usual battle royal now, with everyone punching and kicking so that Hogan can milk his entrance. Piper and Savage do get to have the crazy old man brawl outside the ring at one stage, with Piper choking Savage with a chain and being maniacal as always. Hogan does eventually get inside and throws Piper out through the ropes, which leads to Piper dragging him out under the ring for another brawl. Piper was physically shot at this stage in his career, but he still played a pretty believable violent mad man. Piper and Hogan get back into the ring and that leads to Rodman low bridging Piper out to eliminate him.


Benoit has actually lasted pretty long here, which makes me think they were trying to use this match as a bit of a showcase for him. He tries making a comeback, but the odds are too much and he ends up getting thrown out by The Outsiders. In a nice touch they easily could have just pinned him, but they decided to chuck him out instead.


This means it’s Luger against all of the nWo, but in a rare moment of WCW not being made to look like utter chumps, Luger actually manages to fight back and eliminate The Outsiders and Savage to pop the crowd. Savage and Hall even tap out to the Torture Wrack for him, with Nash taking an impressive big bump over the top.


The crowd is going nuts for Luger, but he does eventually lose to Hogan thanks to Savage spraying Luger in the eyes with spray paint. He got to look good at first though at least.



Say it with me, #LolNwoWins! The match itself wasn’t amazing or anything, but it was mostly good and the reaction for Luger at the end was something to see. The nWo burned off their Title shot by having Savage challenge Prince Iaukea on Nitro, where I think DDP ruined it for him. What a waste of a match stipulation that was!

Rodman and his nWo buddies celebrate following that, but for once they don’t get to end the show standing tall, as Sting comes down from the rafters to spoil the party. Sting hadn’t yet taken an actual side in the WCW Vs nWo feud since going all crow, but he destroys the nWo here and the crowd loses their minds. Even Hogan gets battered, thus beginning the long build to Starrcade at the end of the year.

In Conclusion

Absolutely awful crowd aside, this was a good show overall, with nothing being bad and quite a few matches being in the *** range. The big angle at the end was great too, as it finally got the crowd on their feet and made WCW look like the hottest company on Earth. Rodman showing up was a BIG deal for them too, as it got them a lot of media attention and the eventual match he had with Luger and The Giant at Bash at the Beach ended up being a real homerun for the company.