The SmarK Retro Rant for WCW World War III ‘97 – I always thought the tradition of naming each “World War III” PPV with a different year was a bit stupid, but that’s WCW for ya. Anyway, the original rant of course sucked balls, so since I’m still unemployed for the moment, let’s fill my boring afternoon by redoing it. Huzzah! (Worst week of my LIFE. I really don’t know how other people deal with being unemployed without going crazy.) – Live from Auburn Hills, MI. – Your hosts are Tony, Bobby & Mike. – Opening match: The Faces of Fear v. Glacier & Ernest Miller. Frankly I’m shocked they haven’t tried to bring in Glacier to shore up Smackdown these days. Big brawl to start, as Glacier uses his MARTIAL ARTS on Meng to take him down, and gets two. Which martial art was never specified, of course. (Redneck-Fu?) Miller comes in and goes after the arm, and a high cross gets two. Barbarian comes in and gets kicked by Miller, all of which he no-sells. Glacier tries the arm, but gets pounded down, and they absolutely botch a heel miscommunication spot, thus making it a heel miscommunication miscommunication spot, and the faces hit the Faces with springboard planchas. That was quite nice, actually. Back in, Barbarian misses a blind charge, but they recover with a backdrop into a powerbomb, which gets two for Barbarian. Tony announces that the battle royale tonight will feature elimination by simply touching the floor in any manner, and he has to sell this as a GOOD IDEA, with a STRAIGHT FACE. No wonder the guy was insane by 2001. The FOF use the CLUBBING FOREARMS and Meng gets a dropkick for two. Backbreaker gets two. It’s CLUBBERING! CLUBBERING! TONY, TONY, THEY BE CLUBBERING! Sadly, Mike Tenay fails to make that call, which is why I’m here. Barbarian pounds Glacier with boots and hits the chinlock. Meng comes back in and stomps on his face, setting up a shoulderbreaker for two. He uses the dreaded VULCAN NERVE PINCH (which is fine because Glacier dresses like a Star Trek villain anyway) and Barbarian adds his own boots. Glacier keeps fighting and Meng slams him again, but misses an elbow, and Glacier fights back again. Backdrop suplex , which Meng takes like a MAN, and it’s hot tag to the Cat. Kicks abound and he clotheslines both guys down, then more kicking. Sadly, he goes after Jimmy Hart, and it’s the TONGAN DEATH GRIP (that was actually the name of the move, I swear to god) to finish him off at 9:07. I feel so dirty, but this was a fun match and everyone was working hard. **3/4 – World TV title: Saturn v. Disco Inferno. Saturn had just jumped from ECW and gone single, winning the TV title in his first match. (WCW used to swing wildly between overpushing guys right away and taking forever to pull the trigger on guys, and there was never any rhyme or reason to it.) Saturn takes him down to start, basically playing with him, and he grabs a headlock and overpowers Disco. Disco comes back with a hiptoss and slam, and Saturn bails. Back in, he pounds away on Disco, but gets hiptossed again and bails again. Back in again, Disco goes back to the attack, but puts his head down and gets clotheslined. He comes back with an inverted atomic drop and slugs away in the corner, into an elbow and fistdrop for two. He misses an elbow and Saturn hits him with a T-bone suplex for two. He goes up and misses a moonsault, and Disco clotheslines him for two. Saturn small package gets two, and Disco elbows him down for two. Saturn backslides him for two. Disco tries a german suplex, but gets crotched on the top rope as a result and Saturn hits him with a springboard elbow that puts both of them on the floor. That looked TERRIBLE. Disco stops to go after the Flock, and gets his ass kicked as a result. That was the first appearance of Lodi, I believe, because Tony didn’t know who he was. Back in, Saturn goes for the Rings, but Disco blocks and gets a neckbreaker for two. High cross, but Saturn rolls through into the Rings of Saturn for the submission at 8:21. This was really messy, with no real story or heat segment, although there was a nice sequence in the middle and the finish was good. *1/2 – Yuji Nagata v. Ultimo Dragon. This would be considered a total mismatch in Japan now, although Nagata isn’t really that much bigger than a junior heavyweight. Nagata pounds him to start, but misses a kick and Dragon takes him down with an elbow, but Nagata grabs an armbar and they do a mat-reversal sequence that leads to Nagata bailing. The story here is that Dragon has an injured arm via Nagata, and thus Nagata is going after it. Dragon goes after Sonny Onoo, allowing Nagata to attack from behind and slug away in the ring. He misses a dropkick and Dragon takes him down with a headlock, and they work off that. Dragon holds it a long time, but gets dropped on his head with a backdrop driver. Nagata fires off the high kicks and gets a piledriver for two. We hit the chinlock, and that goes on for a while. Dragon gets his own backdrop suplex, but Nagata quickly drops an elbow on his neck and kicks him down again, setting up another piledriver for two. More high kicks set up an enzuigiri and a camel clutch, but Dragon comes back, so Nagata takes him down with a Fujiwara armbar. Dragon makes the ropes. Back to the chinlock by Nagata, and an overhead suplex gets two. Dragon finally comes back with the kick series, and he absolutely unloads on Nagata, adding some boot rakes in the corner for good measure. Nagata bails and Dragon follows with a pescado, then a high cross to the floor. Back in, Dragon goes up, but Nagata follows, and they fight on top until Dragon powerbombs him down for two. Back up for Dragon, and a moonsault gets two. Dragon goes for the suplex, but turns it into the Dragon sleeper, and Onoo distracts the ref. Dragon releases like an idiot and protests to the ref, then puts Nagata on top and gets the rana from the top, for two. He goes after Onoo again, but tries a backdrop suplex on Nagata, who falls on top in a sloppy finish and gets the pin at 12:44. This was a major style clash to start, but they were getting their shit together pretty good before the bad finish. *** – WCW World tag titles: The Steiner Brothers v. Steven Regal & Dave Taylor. Regal was getting pretty bulky at this point, which was a few weeks before getting fired for screwing with Goldberg. Scott was a few months away from turning heel at this point. Dibiase was managing them, shortly before getting sick of the business in general and leaving. Scott starts with Taylor and gets a hiptoss out of the corner, and overpowers him. The Bluebloods work him over in the corner, however, until Scott comes back with a butterfly bomb on Taylor and the Steiners clean house. Everyone regroups and it’s Rick against Regal, as Rick starts on the arm until Regal takes him down. Rick powers up again and forces Regal into a bridge, then drops the elbow on his knee. Ouch! He tosses Regal around, but gets forearmed into the corner and knocked down. Rick takes him down with an armbar and Scott gets the belly-to-belly for two. Scott stretches him with an STF and Rick gets another armbar, but Regal brings in Taylor. Rick no-sells an atomic drop and gets a clothesline and powerslam, for two. Scott comes back in and Taylor clotheslines him to the floor, allowing Regal to get some cheapshots in. Back in, Taylor forearms him down and holds an armbar, allowing Regal to come in and drop an elbow for two. Scott comes back with a clothesline, but Regal holds him in place and Taylor forearms him down again for two. Regal comes in again, but gets suplexed, and it’s hot tag Rick. He destroys everyone and drops an elbow on Regal, and Scott backdrops Taylor onto Regal. The Steiner bulldog kills Regal dead at 9:46. Basic dismantling by the Steiners, as Rick had very little interest in selling anything and Regal was in bad shape due to drinking. **1/2 (Man, this should have been a hellaciously stiff brawl on both sides, and it just ended up such a boring mess.) – JJ Dillon joins us with an ultimatum for Raven – sign a contract within 24 hours or be fired. I bet I know which option he WANTED to take… – Scotty Riggs v. Raven. Yar! Avast, ye maties, Riggs be in his pirate phase at this point, having been attacked by Raven and lost the vision in one eye. I actually talked with Riggs while he was in ECW in 2000 a few times, and to say he was deluded about his place in the wrestling world would be an understatement. Riggs attacks to start and they brawl around the ring(s), and Riggs slugs him down in the corner. Big splash gets two. He runs into Raven’s boot, but gets a rollup for two. Raven chokes him out with his shirt and tosses him, and they brawl on the floor, which leads to Raven getting tossed into the stairs. Back in, Raven comes back with a jawbreaker and Saturn leaves a chair in the ring for Raven, and he uses it. Riggs comes back with his own DROP TOEHOLD OF DOOM, for two. Riggs gets a Van Daminator for two. Bulldog on the chair gets two. Raven escapes a suplex, Evenflow DDT times three, goodnight at 8:41. The Flock overrides the EMTs and carries Riggs out themselves, and he would join the Flock the next night. Riggs was game, but it’s Scotty Riggs so you’re not gonna get much. **1/4 – Steve McMichael v. Bill Goldberg. This was BEFORE the winning streak gimmick started and WCW had any clue what they were doing with Goldberg. To whit, Mongo had laid Goldberg out with a lead pipe, thus cancelling this match, which would NEVER happen even two months after this. So instead, we get… – Steve McMichael v. Alex Wright. Wright attacks him and chops away to start, but gets elbowed down and clotheslined. Wright bails, but Debra talks him back in again, and McMichael promptly gets a horrible atomic drop and pounds away. Sideslam gets two. Wright comes back with a leg lariat and he stomps away for two. Mongo clips him off the three-point stance and gets a clothesline, and it’s another sideslam. Tombstone finishes at 3:36. Total squash for Mongo. ¼* – WCW Cruiserweight title: Eddie Guerrero v. Rey Mysterio. They were trying to follow their own MOTYC from Halloween Havoc, so you can imagine the kind of pressure on them here. The fact that no one remembers this match tells you how successful they were. (This was written before they attempted to follow themselves again at Wrestlemania 21 and again failed.) Eddie starts on the arm, and Rey reverses with an armdrag, prompting complaints from Eddie. Again, more complaining. Rey grabs the headlock and a nice headscissors into another headlock, but Eddie blocks with a hold and gets two. Backdrop suplex follows, and Eddie goes to an armbar, but Rey reverses to a headscissors off the top. Eddie bails and Rey does the highspot fake, and Eddie comes back in, only to get crotched on the top. Rey brings him to the floor with a powerbomb attempt, but Eddie lands on his feet and gets a backbreaker. That whole sequence was pretty messy. Back in, they fight on top for a superplex, which Eddie wins, but he misses a splash off the top, and Rey rolls him up for two. Eddie flapjacks him to take over again, but Rey gets another headscissors for two. Eddie dropkicks him down again and fires off some forearms, then suplexes him on the top rope to set up his own powerbomb attempt to the floor, but Rey reverses with a rana and follows with a springboard somersault senton. Back in, that gets two. They slug it out and Eddie gets alley-ooped into the post, but comes back with a powerbomb. He hangs Rey in the Gory Special and brings him down for two, but Rey powers up into a sunset flip for two. Leg lariat and Rey goes up, but Eddie blocks with a running powerbomb, but Rey escapes as they completely botch the move. Rey gets a moonsault press for two. Springboard legdrop and he sets up for the West Coast Pop, which gets two. Back to the top, but Eddie drops him with a hotshot and the frog splash ends it at 12:41. They were trying too hard, and it hurt the match badly. ***3/4 Still a great match with a ton of cool counters, but nowhere near as good as the Havoc match. – US title match: Curt Hennig v. Ric Flair. Hennig betrayed the Horsemen at Fall Brawl, in the last ever WarGames, and won the US title from Mongo shortly after that to set this up. They brawl outside to start and into the crowd, fighting by the rigging and then back to the ring, as Hennig throws chops and slugs on Flair by the railing. Hennig brings a cable into the ring and chokes away, then clotheslines Flair to the floor again. Flair finally comes back and tosses Hennig over the top, and then follows with an axehandle from the TOP to Hennig on the railing. LUCHA FLAIR! They slug it out on the floor, as Flair lays in the chops, but Hennig lays him out and gets two back in the ring. Hennig goes after the leg and works on it in Flair’s usual manner. He pulls Flair out of the corner and takes him down with an Indian deathlock, which gets a couple of near-falls. Flair comes back with a clip and he keeps kicking Hennig down, and drops the knee, then pounds away on the head. Flair chops him down and goes up, but gets slammed, as usual. That gets two for Hennig. They slug it out with chops, and Flair goes down. That gets two for Hennig. More chops, but that wakes up Flair and he starts throwing punches, and hiptosses Hennig into a weak bump into the post. Curt tries to bail, but Flair keeps punching and chopping, and they collide for the double KO. Hennig bails to another ring and Flair follows with a backdrop suplex for two. They exchange chops in the corner, and Hennig gets the necksnap and throws more chops, into a Flair Flip that puts him on the floor. Hennig follows and they brawl, slowly, and Flair finally leverages him into the railing to stop him. A suplex back in follows, and that gets two. He sets up a chair and gives him an atomic drop on it, crotch-first, and then kicks the chair while lodged there, and that finally wakes up the crowd. Hennig sells the injury bigtime and Flair grabs another chair and the belt, and he gives him a chairshot to the knee and gets the figure-four. Hennig grabs the belt, however, and uses it for the pin at 17:54. You might as well have advertised that finish on a billboard in front of the arena. Dull stuff. ** – World War III: As always, you’ve got 60 guys and no hope of following anything that’s going on. This is probably my least favorite match type, because they did 5 of them and they all sucked. Winner of this gets a title shot at Superbrawl VIII, even though the winner DIDN’T actually get that title shot. But it’s WCW, what are ya gonna do? So we’ve got DDP, Ray Traylor, Wright, Disco, Meng, Villanos 4 & 5, Fit, Benoit, La Parka, Public Enemy, Dave Taylor, Norman Smiley, Dragon, Louie Spicoli, Giant, Chris Adams, Greg Valentine, Chris Jericho, Nagata, Wrath, Booker T, Stevie Ray, The Steiner Brothers, Jim Duggan, Hugh Morrus, Lex Luger, Miller, Brad Armstrong, Mortis, Barbarian, Eddie, Damian, Iaukea, Barry Darsow, Kendall Windham, Rey Mysterio, Mongo, Halloween, Renegade, Glacier, Bobby Blaze, Buff Bagwell, Scott Hall, Hennig, Randy Savage and Vincent. Plus a bunch of others I missed. (12 dead out of that batch.) Lizmark Jr and Disco are the first out, and Giant tosses both Villanos and Louie Spicoli. La Parka goes out off-camera, and Norman Smiley gets dumped by TPE. Meng dumps both of them by himself. Onto the nWo ring, as Hall dumps El Dandy, and Buff backdrops Bobby Blaze out. In the second ring there’s a million people and it’s hopeless trying to follow it. Punch punch punch. Brad Armstrong gets tossed by Booker, and kicks Silver King out. Damian apparently goes out off-camera. DDP dumps Wrath, but he hangs on. More dull punching. DDP tosses Iaukea, and Nagata. Renegade and Wrath eliminate each other and keep brawling to the back. Sadly, that issue would never be settled. Back to the nWo ring, and Jericho was tossed off-camera. It’s the three-ring camera, so it’s impossible to follow anything. Valentine gets dumped by someone. Trying to watch this is an exercise in frustration. Chris Adams gets the boot after he forgets about the new rules. Fit Finlay gets dumped by DDP. DDP & Benoit fall over the top, but both hang on and keep brawling. Dave Taylor is tossed by the Giant. Benoit was eliminated off-camera. Dean Malenko is gone. Ring #3 is done, with only 5 guys left – Giant, Wright, Mortis, Meng and Mongo. Duggan and Miller are gone, as well as Barbarian. So that leaves Luger, Rick Steiner, Booker, Stevie and DDP to end that ring. So all that’s left is the nWo ring, as Traylor goes out and the nWo triple-team Rey to get rid of him, but he hangs on. Back in the 3 ring, Giant gets rid of Wright, Mongo and Mortis, leaving him and Meng. This is a huge mess. Scott Steiner gets tossed, leaving only the nWo in their own ring. Giant pounds on Meng and Luger puts Stevie Ray out, and Giant dropkicks Meng out to win his ring. So they merge the rings into one, thankfully, leaving Savage, Hall, Hennig, Buff, Vincent, Luger, Rick Steiner, Booker T, DDP and the Giant. Big brawl as this thing finally picks up after 20:00. Diamond Cutter on Vincent and he’s gone. Rick Steiner is dumped by Buff. Giant interrupts Buff’s spiel and kicks his ass, and Luger slugs Buff down, and it turns into a big mess with everyone going after Luger, until Giant dumps some nWo guys and it’s Giant, DDP, Hall and Savage left. Savage blocks a Cutter and goes up for the elbow, but Giant blocks it just by standing there, so Savage jumps like an idiot anyway and gets caught. Diamond Cutter and he’s gone, although Giant wants the honors, and does so with the chokeslam. So it’s 2-on-1 with Hall v. DDP & Giant. Hall runs to another ring and calls in Hulk Hogan, apparently in place of Kevin Nash, as this match makes less sense by the second. So it’s 2-on-2 again, although Hogan skipped the entire match, as Hogan slams Giant and Hall beats DDP down. Hogan crotches DDP and gets rid of him, but now “Sting” rappels in, clearly an imposter, and unmasks as Kevin Nash after Hogan eliminates himself after Nash dumps Giant, making Hall the winner at 29:53. Absolutely horrible in just about every way. I don’t rate battle royales. The Bottom Line: If you really wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt you could see that they were setting up Hall as the first big challenger for Sting after he beat Hogan, but Hogan completely cut the legs out of Sting so badly that it didn’t matter in the long run anyway. This was not a good show by any stretch of the imagination, and although Starrcade 97 would be their biggest buyrate ever, it would also mark the beginning of the end of the glory days of the promotion. This show foreshadowed a lot of that, although I wouldn’t want to sit through it again to see it foreshadowed. Recommendation to avoid.