Meanwhile, in WCW: 1997 Week 20

Jamie Lithgow

It’s Monday which means it’s back to 1997 we go. It was the FA Cup final over the weekend with Chelsea beating Middlesbrough 2-0 at the old Wembley. This was the game which featured that goal from Roberto Di Matteo. That’s enough football chat, there was plenty happening in the world of wrestling this week so let’s get to it with ‘Meanwhile, in WCW’…

wcw-saturday-night-logo-shadow

  • Sonny Onoo introduced us to Yuji Yasuraoka, who we are told is most notable for his appearances in the WAR promotion in Japan. Onoo also stated that Akira Hokuto will continue to be a champion after it was announced that Madusa had defeated her in a match for the WCW Women’s Championship in Japan. Onoo claimed that Hokuto still has the title in her possession. To catch you up to speed, this match never happened but WCW announced a couple of weeks ago that it had and that Madusa is now the champion. This sounds like a good plan to switch the title from Hokuto – who appears to be done with WCW – and onto Madusa. However, the problem is that WCW announced this on its B and C shows before informing the wrestlers involved who, like most people, clearly do not make a habit of watching WCW Pro. Hence why both Madusa and Hokuto had no idea of the situation until after the fact, why Hokuta still has the belt and Madusa doesn’t and why there is a big controversy for Onoo to use as an angle. Yes, this is a big mess but at least it gives Onoo something to do.
  • Back to Yasuroaka and he continued to beat jobber Julio Sanchez after the bell, which prompted Rey Mysterio Jr to make the save. Rey will face Yasuroaka at Slamboree, so this was an attempt to build at least a little bit of heat for the match.
  • Chris Benoit’s match with Meng at Slamboree is now a ‘Death Match’. The Crippler said that the fight is less about facing Meng and more about facing himself. He closed by urging Woman, or Nancy rather, not to throw in the towel under any circumstances.
  • Debra appeared to give Jeff Jarrett a peck on the cheek after his win against Jim Powers. Dusty Rhodes and Tony Schiavone took the ball and ran with after this public display of affection.
  • On the WCW Hotline this week was the news of allegations being made against a wrestling announcer. Even using hindsight, this could be anybody…

Full Results

  • Ultimate Dragon (c) defeated Villano IV to retain the WCW Television Championship
  • Jeff Jarrett defeated Jim Powers
  • Wrath defeated Dick Moore
  • Yuji Yasuraoka defeated Julio Sanchez
  • Meng defeated Pat Tanaka
  • The Giant defeated The Power Company in a Two On One Handicap Match

The Main Event –

Kevin Greene, Ric Flair & Roddy Piper defeated Kevin Nash, Scott Hall & Syxx

He may be a ‘cool heel’ everywhere else, but doing things like this in North Carolina turned Kevin Nash into a heat magnet

I assume most people reading this will be aware of the school of thought that says while WCW’s pay per view main events were usually pretty dire, the undercards to these shows were usually fairly entertaining. With Slamboree ’97 this trend was bucked because the main event was actually pretty good. The cynic in me wants to point out Hollywood Hogan’s absence, but the main reason for such an entertaining bout was simply due to good booking. You see Slamboree was held in Charlotte, North Carolina, hometown of The Nature Boy Ric Flair who was making his return to the ring after an 8-month injury lay-off. On top of that, you team him with Carolina Panther Kevin Greene and another North Carolina resident in Rowdy Roddy Piper. The crowd would have been red hot for these three regardless of their opponents, but when you book them against monster heels in the form of Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and Syxx, aka The Wolfpac, and you can’t help but have an entertaining match. A thoroughly enjoyable bout ended after the hometown heroes all applied their finishers to their opponents to claim the triple pin and send the fans home happy. For the record, this was Flair using the Figure Leg Lock on Hall, Piper applying a Sleeper Hold to Nash and Greene powerslamming Syxx. Former nWo referee, Nick Patrick, counted the three after the original ref took a bump. I guess he has been reinstated by WCW after all. As an aside – and this was lost on the live audience due to the presence of their hometown heroes – the commentators were pushing this bout as a WCW vs. nWo battle despite Ric Flair and the referee being the only WCW representatives in the ring. Greene is a footballer under contract to the Carolina Panthers while Roddy Piper’s entire shtick is that he does not represent any group, faction or organisation within wrestling.

Everything Else –

Steven Regal defeated Ultimo Dragon (c) to win the WCW Television Championship

This was a really good match, as you may expect from these guys. After Sonny Onoo mistimed a kick and hit his own man, Regal was able to apply his Regal Stretch for the submission and the title. Interestingly, Regal was way over in this one. There were “Regal” chants on several occasions, which is a first. Also, he has dropped the ‘Lord’ from his name.

Madusa defeated Luna Vachon

A short, inoffensive match that was as solid as women’s wrestling in WCW gets. Without each other, these two have nothing else going on so I was quite surprised to see Madusa win clean rather than have Luna go over by cheating in order to continue the feud. Incidentally, there was no mention of Madusa being the WCW Women’s Champion, as was claimed on WCW TV last week.

Macho Man then came out for the evening’s hot angle. He ran down Diamond Dallas Page, as per usual, only for DDP to head to the ring via the crowd and carrying Savage’s old crutch as a weapon. Macho Man escaped to the aisle and the safety of his nWo stable mates. After DDP accused Savage of kissing Hogan’s ass, Macho got hot and headed to the ring for a fight. DDP got a shot in with the crutch before one by one the other nWo members hit the ring. Page held his own until Scott Norton entered, at which point DDP received his customary beat down. His shirt was ripped off to reveal taped ribs stemming from a previous attack. Hindsight has taught us that Page’s ribs will remain taped for almost the entire duration of this feud. Eventually, The Giant made the save to a huge reaction. This angle was red hot.

Rey Mysterio Jr. defeated Yuji Yasuraoka

As hot as the crowd was for this show, they were completely dead for this one. It was a solid match, but this was Yasuraoka’s second match in the company so unless fans caught WCW Saturday Night the previous evening they would have had no idea who he was and why he was facing Rey Mysterio. Technically it was a decent bout though.

Glacier defeated Mortis by DQ

This one lasted less than two minutes before Wrath interjected himself to cause the DQ finish. The two on one beatdown continued until what appeared to be a fan entered the ring and started nailing Mortis, Wrath and James Vandenberg with awesome looking karate kicks. He was later identified on commentary as full contact karate champion Ernest Miller.

Dean Malenko (c) defeated Jeff Jarrett to retain the WCW United States Championship

A solid match which ended after Jarrett’s partner, Steve ‘Mongo’ McMichael, appeared and rolled Double J back into the ring while he was taking a breather. Mongo then escorted his wife, Debra, away from ringside where she had been in Jarrett’s corner. Malenko swiftly slapped his Texas Cloverleaf on a weary Jarrett for the win. Despite wrestling firmly in the middle of ‘Horsemen Country’, fans were firmly behind Malenko rather than Jarrett.

Meng defeated Chris Benoit in a Death Match

Benoit was over huge with the ‘Horsemen Country’ natives while, despite efforts to build him up, Meng elected no reaction, positive or negative. With that knowledge in mind, how do you think the match went? That’s right, Meng on offence for the majority. The rules for this ‘Death Match’ were that the bout could only end when one man could no longer continue, which still seems pretty vague. Believe it or not, Meng scored the clean win after Benoit passed out to the Tongan Death Grip. Prior to losing consciousness, it appeared as if The Crippler stopped Woman from throwing in the proverbial towel.

The Steiner Brothers defeated Hugh Morrus & Konnan

This was a decent enough match most notable for Scott Steiner executing a picture perfect Frankensteiner on the 300lb Morrus and Konnan nailing his own partner with a DDT after the decision before shoving Jimmy Hart to apparently leave The Dungeon of Doom.

Steve ‘Mongo’ McMichael defeated Reggie White

This looks like a photo but it may as well be a video

Sweet Jesus this was bad. Why did they pair a non-worker with Mongo, who himself has barely progressed from the level of a novice in the year he has been actively wrestling? That said, Mongo’s charisma, the hot crowd and some classic stalling tactics made this fun for the first couple of minutes. Had the match lasted just two or three minutes then I would not have minded it, however, the damn thing lasted over 15! Most of that time was taken up by rest holds and the most basic of manoeuvres. The finish came after White became distracted by Debra. Mongo seized this opportunity to reach for his trusty briefcase, which was confiscated by White’s Green Bay Packer pal; Gilbert Brown, who had appeared earlier to shepherd Mongo back to the ring after he tried to bail. This, of course, attracted the attention of the referee who did not see Jeff Jarrett throw Mongo another briefcase and nail poor Reggie with it for the win. Like Jarrett, Mongo was not afforded a typical ‘Horseman Country’ reception. Also, I loved that White had his strength coach in his corner and not, say, someone who could coach him on wrestling.


nitro-logo-shadow

Handbags at dawn…

Hailing from Ashville, North Carolina, this week’s Nitro naturally placed Ric Flair front and centre. The Nature Boy opened the show by telling Mean Gene that his match the previous evening was the biggest thrill if his career – really?! Syxx then gate-crashed Flair’s interview to call him out. Flair appeared to accept by saying he would kick Syxx’s “flyweight ass” before doing exactly that until The Kid escaped. Later in the show, the pair faced each other in a match which was swiftly interrupted by The Outsiders, who, along with Syxx, beat the crap out of Flair. Hall and Nash then stated that Piper – who was not present – would be next.


In Other News From Nitro –

  • Finally, Kevin Greene got his revenge on Steve ‘Mongo’ McMichael after Mongo betrayed him at last year’s Great American Bash. Greene smashed Mongo on the head with his briefcase to cost him and Jeff Jarrett their match with The Steiner Brothers. The pop for this was huge.
  • In keeping with last night’s audience, this ‘Horseman Country’ crowd were firmly behind The Steiners, not The Horsemen, in this one.
  • Speaking of The Horsemen, nothing was made of Ric Flair’s buddy (Kevin Greene) attacking Mongo, Flair’s Horseman teammate.
  • There were “USA” chants during the match between Prince Iaukea (who is billed from Samoa) and Steven Regal (who is from England).
  • JJ Dillon, from his office, announced that Nick Patrick has been reinstated as a WCW referee, but will serve a one-month probationary period.
  • Patrick got off to a good start by sticking up to Michael Wallstreet’s intimidation during his match with Scotty Riggs. Patrick even went as far as to kick Wallstreet’s hands off the ropes when he refused to let them go.
  • Wallstreet, who is no longer a member of the nWo due to a kayfabe contractual clause, wore a ‘no WCW’ t-shirt instead of an nWo shirt.
  • Masahiro Chono showed us how an STF should be applied en route to victory against Dave Taylor. Post-match, his former manager, Sonny Onoo, promised to present Chono with his worst nightmare next week. Sounds not unlike an angle over on Raw this week…
  • The show closed when Eric Bischoff appeared in the ring to state that Sting is not worthy of a match with Hollywood Hogan. He gloated that Sting wouldn’t show up and that he had checked the rafters, the backstage area and the crowd. Unfortunately for Eric, he had not looked under the ring because The Stinger emerged through the canvas and hit Easy E with a Scorpion Death Drop to a massive pop as Nitro went off the air.

Full Results

  • Steven Regal (c) defeated Prince Iaukea to retain the WCW Television Championship
  • Masahiro Chono defeated Squire David Taylor
  • Scotty Riggs defeated Michael Wallstreet
  • The Steiner Brothers defeated Jeff Jarrett & Steve McMichael
  • Ric Flair defeated Syxx by Disqualification

quote-of-the-week

“Bret, you couldn’t go 10 minutes in any situation, if you know what I mean. And even though lately you’ve had some sunny days my friend, you still can’t get the job done.”

Shawn Michaels to Bret Hart on Raw


Is this guy heading to WCW?

  • There are rumours of schedule changes for both Raw and Nitro. The USA Network is moving La Femme Nikita to Sunday nights and, for the time being, are filling the void on Monday nights with reruns of Walker; Texas Ranger. This, in theory, could open the door for Raw to move to the later timeslot of 9pm to 11pm. Which, again, in theory, could open the door to more risqué content. The feeling in WCW is said to be that they are happy enough with the earlier timeslot in order to attract younger fans. However, with talk of a second weekly prime time show on hold, Eric Bischoff has hinted at making Nitro three hours. The talk is that the third hour would be broadcast on TBS, thus allowing the station to have the wrestling show it so desires.
  • Last week Eric Bischoff held a meeting with all WCW wrestlers to announce that head booker Kevin Sullivan would be taking a leave of absence. Bischoff stressed that it was purely down to burnout and that he would return and would not be replaced. Obviously, there are plenty of rumours to the contrary.
  • Apparently, the original plan for Kevin Greene’s current run was for him to turn heel on Ric Flair and Roddy Piper to join the nWo. Greene, quite rightly, nixed that idea.
  • WCW have been perusing ECW’s Raven and would like him to debut at the big Nitro in Boston in June.
  • *SPOILER ALERT* is a practice WCW should employ themselves. Prior to Slamboree, the WCW Hotline reported that Konnan would turn on Hugh Morrus and join the nWo. Well, they got the first half right, time will tell regarding the second half…

At the time this week’s Raw was a good show, but in hindsight, it is essential viewing. A week on from Bret Hart’s alleged sabotage of his show-closing segment with Shawn Michaels, HBK suggested The Hitman has been having some “sunny days” as of late. The first of three outstanding sit-down interviews with Mankind – conducted by JR – was broadcast while Paul Bearer gave The Undertaker one week to “come back home” or his big secret will be revealed. Plenty other stuff happened too, so this episode is well worth checking out.


ratings

Raw 3.6 – 0 Nitro

This was the last week of Nitro’s 7pm to 8pm timeslot, I wonder if Raw can maintain these ratings when the Monday Night Wars resume next week? For the record, Nitro scored an impressive 3.1 which is the best rating of it’s four week stint at 7pm.


You can read all previous ‘Meanwhile, in WCW’ posts here

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