Bank Holiday Bonus! nWo vs WCW Take Over ’97

A little May Day bonus today, a WCW show from Oberhausen, Germany on June 21st, 1997, during the peak period of the company. This aired on DSF (Deutsches Sportfernsehen [German Sports TV[), which was the preeminent way to watch World Championship Wrestling in Europe. We had Worldwide on ITV for a few years and then Nitro (and later Thunder) on TNT after Cartoon Network had closed down for the day, but DSF had pretty much every WCW from the big ones to Pro and Main Event plus the pay-per-views, on a little bit of a delay and with German commentary, but when you’re a teenager and you love it you’ll sit through anything under any circumstances, plus the dating and chatline commercials were a pleasure in more way than one while breaking up the action!

Low-tech channel branding before the intro, with the ID on a box in the ring that someone pulls out of the way.

Commentators are David Kemp and Nic Heldt.

Hugh Morrus vs Alex Wright

Alex had commenced his heel turn in the US by this point, but is the homeland babyface for this show. A bit of clowning with Mark Curtis to start, propping him up in the corner to stay out of the way of some boxing, but Morrus gets a kick in, then misses a charge and gets dropkicked out and walks until he objects to Alex leading a “Loser!” chant in German on the mic. Morrus pulls hair on a top wristlock to break, so Alex plays the same game to make a separate break. Morrus does a mocking version of Alex’s dance, looking like a rotund salsa instructor. They play the game of Morrus running through Wright, so Wright has to employ agility to take him down and out. The camera manages to miss a big plancha by Alex. Morrus works the count to catch his breath, while Alex looks more pissed off that his hair is now out of place – you’ve not got long left with it, buddy!

Back in, Morrus sweeps the leg and gets a low legdrop, which you know is going to hurt Alex! Rear chinlock, with Alex getting his brief escapes but getting taken back down with a knee and a clothesline. Nice elevated powerbomb off an Irish whip, but Morrus misses No Laughing Matter (and also makes the industry error of rolling away, not towards the same corner). He gets a quick leg lariat for the win. Winner: Alex Wright. Match was fine, nothing too risky and just there to warm the crowd.

Luna Vachon vs Madusa

Luna had a very brief run in WCW, ostensibly to give Madusa at least someone other than visiting Japanese wrestlers to wrestle regularly. Luna attacks before the bell with a bouquet, covering the ring early in the night in petals while Heldt gets an obvious “blooming” pun in. Madusa trips up Luna, but misses on a dropkick. Luna goes to the stomach claw then scratches the back. Gutwrench suplex for two, then a Samoan drop. Feels like she’s matching some of her offense from the SNES game she was in. Madusa bridges out of a pin and makes a brief comeback with hair pulls. Luna halts it with scratches and chokes. I always found Luna weird in the ring on account of the obvious Moolah influence despite the attempts to use more contemporary holds. She escapes an armbar and gets the bottom rope Adrian Adonis slingshot/clothesline move, prompting Dusy to take a walk to catch her breath. Back in, she eats a traditional clothesline for two, but Flair flips (as noted by Heldt) out and grabs the wrist and runs to the top to commence with a flying armdrag, but Luna just falls backwards and the crowd farts at it. Back up, Luna gets another clothesline, but Madusa avoids another one and scoots behind for the German suplex for the win. Winner: Madusa. Bad match, with a very stop/start feeling to it throughout.

Harlem Heat vs Steiner Brothers

The Heat in the rare silver singlets for this one. I’ve said it before, but Stevie Ray and the sadly ailing Mongo are two of my favourite wrestlers for being all look and mouth with nothing to back it in the ring. Scott’s just getting massive at this point, with a Steven Seagal look before changing forever as a heel. Seeing Stevie dwarf Scott drives home just how big he was. Booker T comes in and gets some knees in the corner, but gets Steinerlined out and the camera again focuses on him while the Steiners double up on Stevie inside. They really should’ve shipped Craig Leathers over with the rest of the crew. Once the match resumes, Stevie pounds on Rick, but gets powerslammed for two. Scott comes in with a chickenwing, but gets poked in the eye. Stevie misses an elbow and gets wishbone split. While the matches is just simmering, I’m reminded of a story Stevie told of him and Booker “researching” their trademark costumes, design and material-wise, from similar outfits worn by strippers, which they kept as a trade secret until Kimberly started working in similar strip clubs and passed on the info to DDP, who co-opted it for himself. The Heat get Rick to themselves and use a trick knee distraction to send him outside, with Booker doing a melodramatic karate kick. Behind the refs back, Stevie gets some punches and kicks in that look like they wouldn’t break an egg and were probably more ticklish than painful.

Rick tries a bit of a comeback with a powerslam, which looks like it started as something else but ended up as what it was. Booker gets a kneedrop to turn it back and Stevie chokes Rick behind the ref’s back with a towel. Feels very much like these guys, who wrestled loads, had an A, B and C match and had opted for the latter on this evening. Not that it matters to the crowd, who react to everything. That was something that made touring more special, the appreciation of whatever you got because it was all you were likely to get that year. Rick blocks a suplex with a really awkward small package. Booker rebuts with the spinaroonie, before it was a thing, and the leg lariat. He tries another one, which gets caught and turned into a back suplex, allowing Scott to finally come back in. Tiger Driver on Booker for two, broken up by Stevie. He lifts up Booker onto his shoulders for the bulldog finisher, but Stevie breaks it up and takes Scott out with him. Rick then avoids one more kneedrop and gets the bulldog off the top for the win. Winners: The Steiner Brothers. No real effort to nudge it up a gear, but the crowd didn’t mind, and I’m noticing that all the babyfaces have won so far, which is a major house show trope.

Dean Malenko vs Rey Mysterio, Jr

Dean’s sparkly vest with silver icicles seems way too ostentatious for him. Rey has barely any tattoos other than a sun on his right shoulder and tribal band on his left bicep. I feel like the match quality will (hopefully) pick up with this one. Clean start, with a handshake as well, to start. These two on paper always looked to me like they’d be in totally separate lanes, but actually had awesome chemistry, with both willing to flex to the other’s style. I believe Dean was mostly heel by this point, but he was starting to get into a zone where the fans respected how good he was and had practically turned him face ahead of his famous feud with Jericho the next year. First big offensive move is a delayed vertical suplex on Rey for two. Rear chinlock follows, with the knee in the back of the neck, switched into a surfboard that Rey mulekicks out of. He flies up in the air when caught in the fireman’s carry for a gutbuster. Stiff powerbomb, with Rey snapped down, for another two. Rey’s agile enough to flip out of a military press and into a sunset flip for two, but he gets clotheslined down hard, then trapped in the camel clutch.

Dean releases and then flapjacks Rey to be a dick, with arms and legs spinning as he goes up and comes down. He tries a range of pinning positions, but can’t get it. I then smile as the commentators pimp the “Top Secret Hotline!”, which was a staple of these shows. Dean gets a move equivalent to a Rings of Saturn, although Rey is seated as opposed to on his belly, allowing some crucifix pin attempts. One-armed backbreaker after they cease that. Dean gets a strong sleeperhold off the rope, dropping down with force himself to the mat. Rey fights out once, but runs straight back into it. Rey teases passing out, but gets to the ropes for the break. Another sunset flip for two, then he takes Dean through the ropes with momentum and baseball slides his legs. Springboard bombs away to the outside. Springboard moonsault is caught on the way back in, but he slips out of a Snake Eyes and almost literally slips off the ropes on a flip, luckily to no harm. He goes for a huracanrana but gets caught in a Boston crab before getting the ropes again. Dean refuses to roll on a victory roll and pancakes him down to set up a surfboard, but can’t get the pin with the pin attempt. He goes up, but Rey catches him for a superplex. Dean again won’t go down, so Rey keeps on trying it with dropkicks to soften him up before Frankensteinering him off the top for the win. Winner: Rey. Best match of the card so far, as expected, although not at the top of their generally high quality scale. They do the mutual respect handshake after the announcement too.

M. Wallstreet vs Diamond Dallas Page

Wallstreet was doing a deal where his nWo contract had been rendered null and void, but he wasn’t happy about his WCW contract being enforced, so he wore a t-shirt to state as much. I feel like there was some weird real life situation that meant he couldn’t be in the nWo any more, but I’ve long forgotten it. It’s also nice to be able to hear Self High Five again on a wrestling show. Heldt actually brings up Wallstreet’s previous life as Captain Mike Rotunda in a funny reference. Wallstreet pulls the hair, so DDP launches on him in the corner with punches and gives him a kick up the bum too. Early attempt at the Diamond Cutter, but Wallstreet runs from it. Back in, they run through some spots that end with Dallas doing his hip toss reversal into a neckbreaker, then tries the Cutter again, only for Wallstreet to run again. On the outside he tells the cameraman to stay out of his face, so Page stomps his fingers and gets a plancha, but coming back in Wallstreet crotches him with the rope and puts the boots to the eternally taped ribs. This is turning out to be far better than I expected it would be. This probably wasn’t Page’s best championship or earnings year, but he was absolutely in his working and selling groove by this point. Stiff backbreaker out of a side headlock for Wallstreet, then to the rope-assisted abdominal stretch. It might have been his lazy default, but he was as good at working it as anyone. There’s a Lou Thesz/Wild Bill Longson match on the Network where Longson works those ropes on a leg grapevine like a master. DDP gets the reverse atomic drop and pancake piledriver to set up the Diamond Cutter, but Wallstreet gets a jawbreaker. He then sets up a slam, which Page wiggles out of and then hits the Cutter for the win. Winner: Diamond Dallas Page. I really enjoyed this, even though I had no expectation of doing so upon hearing the first chord of Wallstreet’s music as he started walking out.

Chris Benoit w/Woman vs Meng w/Jimmy Hart

Meng was the last roadblock that Kevin Sullivan was putting in front of him before Benoit could get to him, resulting in his inevitable retirement. The Faces of Fear had a few palette swap colours on the Revenge game for the N64, and surprisingly they all had a grounding in reality, like these blue tights Meng’s wearing here. Meng mauls Benoit with kicks and chops after faking out a test of strength. They both see who can kick hard until Benoit catches one and gets a leg screw. Meng actually then runs into the Crippler Crossface, but stands up and carries Benoit with one arm to the corner, then just casually slams him off and gets the side thrust kick for two. Chris walks it off and then just unloads with kicks and chops to regain the advantage. Meng then snaps off a belly-to-belly for a breather, but winds up outside. Benoit then follows him out with a tope as the lighting manager loses control and everything goes blue for a few seconds. These damn Krauts! Benoit tries for a springboard move but Jimmy causes a distraction to make him slip off and land in the Tree of Woe. Woman runs round to tell off Hart to the crowd’s approval.

Out of the corner, Meng gets his stiff piledriver for two, then when Benoit goes out Jimmy puts the boots to him and runs off like Kermit being exposed as Deep Throat in Family Guy. Meng heads out but gets Irish whipped into the railing. Jimmy tries the face-slapping approach to waking him up, obviously not liking the idea of keeping his hands. Benoit snap suplexes Meng back inside and tries a single leg Boston crab, although Meng won’t turn over for it. He claws his way to the ropes with a bit of help from Jimmy, with drool swinging out of his mouth. Woman again puts the mouth on Jimmy for further amusement. Benoit runs into a spinebuster for two. Meng then snaps off a shoulder breaker and goes to work on the right shoulder with a nerve pinch. I’d be considering talking about how ugly Meng looks at times, but Benoit’s no oil painting himself while he’s selling. Benoit gets a chance German suplex to start coming back, followed by a clothesline, then another German, but Meng gets another spinebuster (called a powerbomb by Heldt again). He misses a splash off the top and Benoit gets the swan dive headbutt. He hooks in the Crossface, but gets distracted by Jimmy Hart. Meng charges, hits Jimmy, then gets rolled up for three, making sure to kick out right on three. Winner: Chris Benoit. Another good match. The camera actually catches Meng and Jimmy nice guying one another (“You OK, brother?”, “Yeah, good job.”).

The Outsiders vs. Lex Luger and the Giant

Pretty sure this made news on Twitter recently because some anonymous German guy has to get on the mic and dub in the “New-New-New World Order! 4 Life!” lines on the entrance music as well as doing a witch’s cackle. Main event, for the tag team titles, which Hall and Nash had a stronghold on for about eighteen months through more foul means than fair. I always found it a shame that Lex didn’t regain his music from the early nineties in his second run, but the music he was using here was pretty cool. The Outsiders use their traditional rock-paper-scissors method to decide who starts first (Hall). I count Hall as one of the top workers of the nineties, but he was firmly into the zone of working it and just being a character by this point, which as far as self preservation goes is a wise idea, although his matches got a bit more cartoonish as a result. That said, he works the arm well early on, with Lex getting as many “YOW!” shouts in as he can. Lex ducks a clothesline and gets the flying forearm, which had seriously downgraded in efficiency by this point. Scott responds by spitting, then tagging the big man in. He gets his blows in in the corner. He eventually runs into a boot and takes the forearms too, but Hall gets a shot in from the apron, allowing Nash to hit Luger with the big boot.

Hall tags back in and antagonizes the Giant. Nash then uses the boot choke to soften him up for a Hall clothesline from the outside. Worth mentioning that the poorer quality cameras end up rendering Nash’s red leather trousers as a burning haze at some points. Nash returns and stomps Luger around the ring, but gets too close to the Giant, who punches him from the outside. Hall gets back in and applies the abdominal stretch with help from Nash. Randy Anderson questions Nash about it, who uses his hands to tell him to talk to the crotch, because the face ain’t listening, not that faces listen anyway. Luger misses an elbow after breaking out, but then so does Nash. He still can’t get to the Giant, though, who hasn’t been in at all so far. Sleeper by Hall, which Lex eventually reverses. Nash tries mounting the bottom rope to tag in, which is obviously ridiculous for him. Hall makes his own escape, actually to the approval of the crowd, with a back suplex. They double clothesline each other out of that. Nash tags in but the Giant, almost fifteen minutes in, finally gets in and sets up to chokeslam both opponents. Michael Wallstreet gets down to ringside and takes out Lex and breaks it up for the DQ. Winners: Lex Luger and the Giant. Nash actually manages to get the Jackknife on the Giant without breaking his own back or Giant’s neck, prompting a run-in from Sting to make the save. That’s actually quite a big surprise for the German market, as you’d expect DDP to even it up. He sticks around just long enough to make nice with Lex. Decent tag team match, which pretty much relied on holding the Giant in reserve as long as possible.

The Bottom Line: A feelgood rare international show designed to send everyone home happy, with the match quality increasing through the night. Nothing really of consequence happened, but it was a simpler time, and I’d argue a lot better for it.