Meanwhile, in WCW: 1997 Week 23

Jamie Lithgow

The NBA Playoffs, which caused Nitro to be move to 7pm last month have come to a close. Hollywood Hogan’s best friend in the whole wide world, Dennis Rodman, helped the Chicago Bulls defeat the Utah Jazz 4-2 in the best of seven series. More accurately, Michael Jordan helped the Bulls to victory. Jordan famously played out of his skin in game five (Wednesday) with a bad case of the flu before clinching the series on in game six (Friday). After game six NBC dubbed over R Kelly’s ‘I Believe I Can Fly’ as the Bulls celebrated. How 90’s is that?! Anyway, what were Rodman’s nWo buddies up to while this was happening? Let’s find out in ‘Meanwhile, in WCW’…

wcw-saturday-night-logo-shadow

The shy and retiring Akira Hokuto

  • This episode of WCW Saturday Night largely served to announce and further promote matches for next week’s Great American Bash pay per view. Announced on this show alone were Harlem Heat vs. The Steiner Brothers, with the winners facing the Tag Team Champions at Road Wild. Wrath will face Glacier. The Ultimo Dragon will face Psychosis in a ‘Respect Match’. Madusa vs. Akira Hokuto in a career vs. Women’s Title match was made official. Konnan will take on his former tag partner, Hugh Morrus, in a grudge match while Chris Benoit vs. Meng in a return ‘Death Match’ from Slamboree was also made official.
  • Not unlike last week, Saturday Night was graced by some actual movers and shakers from higher up the WCW card again this week. A week before he co-main events The Great American Bash, Diamond Dallas Page faced Konnan in the main event. Hugh Morrus ran in to get a piece of K-Dogg so DDP dropped him with a Diamond Cutter to a big pop.
  • Harlem Heat continued to beat down The Power Company after their match until The Steiner Brothers made the save.
  • Akira Hokuta spoke in English to call Madusa a “wannabe”. A slightly racist Lee Marshal accused Sonny Onoo of “teaching her those words”, as if she were a parrot.
  • Hector Garza continues to be presented strongly. He gets booed but does not act like a heel. Surely he’s not a heel just because he’s Mexican?
  • Tony Schiavone promoted Monday’s Nitro from the Fleet Centre in Boston as being the biggest ever.
  • Apparently tables are still legal in WCW, or in Public Enemy matches at least. After the referee raised their hands in victory, Johnny Grunge did their trademark wave so it looked like the referee was doing it too. This was pretty funny.
  • Hugh Morrus cut a nonsensical promo on Konnan. Morrus said that his laugh never goes away, which I guess is supposed to be intimidating?
  • There was an awful promo package featuring Madusa hyping her forthcoming match with Akira Hokuto. Madusa recapped their feud, put over that she was screwed by Sonny Onoo – not like that, perverts! – and strongly stressed that she is American and Hokuto is not. While the content wasn’t great, the worst thing about this promo was the constant cuts. They clearly filmed Madusa speaking in one take and just chopped out the bits they didn’t like. This would have been fine for a voice over, but she was on camera the whole time.

Full Results

  • Public Enemy defeated Jerry Flynn & Mark Starr
  • Hector Garza defeated Billy Kidman
  • Ultimate Dragon defeated Damien
  • Buff Bagwell defeated Rick Fuller
  • Harlem Heat defeated The Power Company
  • Diamond Dallas Page defeated Konnan

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Not only is that Hollywood Hogan in a match, that's Hollywood Hogan losing a match

Not only is that Hollywood Hogan in a match, that’s Hollywood Hogan losing a match

This was indeed a big episode of Nitro from what appeared to be a sold out Fleet Centre in Boston. Unlike what you might normally associate with WCW around this time, this show seemed to be booked to build towards Sunday’s PPV rather than concentrate solely on TV ratings. The result was a still a good show and now I’m looking forward to the Great American Bash. Anyway, a lot happened this week but let’s start with the big news…

Lex Luger defeated Hollywood Hogan by submission using his Torture Rack finisher. However, this was a non-title match so Hogan kept his belt. Early in the show Luger told Mean Gene that he and The Giant – who was not present due to being on a tour of Germany – had signed to face Hogan and Dennis Rodman at Bash at The Beach and that they were just waiting for the nWo duo to sign on the dotted line. This makes no sense because last week we heard that Hogan and Rodman had signed an open contract for the show, so why didn’t Luger and Giant just put their names on that contract? Anyway, Luger also revealed that WCW’s Executive Committee had decided that because Hogan had not defended his WCW Title since February that he would wrestle tonight, against him! Bear in mind that Luger is the number one contender, so it seemed a little odd when we heard that the match would not be for the title. A few minutes later Hogan, along with Eric Bischoff, came out and basically said that he didn’t feel like wrestling, despite being in his ring gear. He said that Luger wasn’t in shape that he wasn’t good enough to face him. Hogan thought he closed out the segment when he decided to pose for the fans. This is when Luger hit the ring to surprise Hogan. The pair had a brief stare down before Luger was told to leave but refused, a fight ensued and referee Randy Anderson called for the bell to start the match. The Wolfpac (Scott Hall, Kevin Nash and Syxx) were on the scene immediately as Nitro went for a break. When we returned we had settled down into a match, albeit with a red hot crowd. Wisely, given the competitors involved, the action only lasted a couple of minutes before The Wolfpac tried to get involved. Luger actually fended them off to the point that he was able to Rack Hogan for the win. However, almost as soon as the bell rang Hall, Nash and Syxx beat Luger down. The segment ended with Hogan dropping five leg drops on The Total Package to make us all but forget the actual outcome of the bout.


In Other News From Nitro –

Sting's a witch, and DDP's his broomstick, who knew?!

Sting’s a witch, and DDP’s his broomstick, who knew?!

  • This was not the big, show-closing angle. That came in the form of a mass brawl involving everyone – and I mean everyone – booked in a match at The Great American Bash. It was all sparked after Syxx interfered to cause the DQ finish in The Outsiders match against Ric Flair and Rowdy Roddy Piper. This brought out the rest of the Horsemen to save Flair, which brought out the rest of the nWo, which brought out Harlem Heat for some reason, which also prompted The Steiners and so on. Before we knew it, everyone from Glacier and Wrath to Macho Man and DDP had ran out for a big rumble. Ultimately Sting descended for the ceiling to point his bat at the nWo guys. As Nitro went off the air Sting was hoisted back up to the rafters, with DDP accompanying him from the ride. This must have been terrifying for Page.
  • This was not done as smoothly as a couple of weeks ago – not that it was done particularly smoothly then either – due to Sting visibly sorting out his harnesses to ensure DDP was strapped in securely.
  • Have you noticed that all of this was sparked from an Outsiders vs. Flair and Piper match, which also happens to be one of the main events at Sunday’s PPV? Yes, WCW couldn’t resist giving away a PPV match for free. I did say earlier that this show’s main focus was on promoting The Great American Bash, but there was the odd exception. The match on Nitro was not for Nash and Hall’s Tag Titles though, Sunday’s bout is.
  • The common theme with this Nitro was that all rivals managed to get their hands on each other ahead of Sunday, and this was no more popular than when DDP and Macho Man had a scrap, albeit a brief one. The show actually started when limousine pulled into the arena, which was met by Page. When Liz exited the car, DDP took this as a sign that Macho Man was inside and proceeded to try to kick the window in. If you are aware of Goldberg’s encounter with a car window a few years later then you will already know that this was not stunt glass and was indeed a real car window. Hence, it took Page a few attempts to get his foot through the glass and thankfully did not appear to sustain an injury. Once DDP was able to open the door, Liz – who was outside the car by this point – managed to close his head in the door and enter the car as it sped away. Later in the show, JJ Dillon – who made reference to his beat down at the hands of Savage last week but was not selling any injuries – said that Macho Man would be fined $50,000 and that he will not be suspended. It is assumed that Savage attacked Dillon so that he would be suspended and not have to face Page. Dillon did not fall for this tactic and instead made their match on Sunday an unsanctioned match with no disqualifications, no count outs and falls count anywhere. Macho Man appeared in the crowd to voice his displeasure, which in turn brought DDP to the ring. One thing led to another and before we knew it the two men had to be pulled apart as they rolled around at ringside.

    This guy is the US Champion?!

  • If this match is now unsanctioned by WCW then why is a WCW employee making all the rules for it? Also, because WCW has now washed their hands of this bout there is no obligation for Savage to compete, because he clearly doesn’t want to. Ah well.
  • The crowd at the Fleet Centre were hot all night but as you might expect there were plenty of pro WWF and even ECW signs visible in what is traditionally WWF territory. An ‘Austin 3:16’ sign was visible on the hard camera during the first match, while an ECW sign popped up throughout the show.
  • Randy Anderson has been reinstated as a referee. This was alluded to some time ago after Eric Bischoff was suspended, but it was never officially announced that Randy had been given his job back.
  • In trying to build towards Sunday, WCW have managed to somewhat sabotage the Psychosis vs. Ultimo Dragon match. How have did they manage this? By having Dragon submit Psychosis in lucha rules six man tag. Daft as it sounds, there may be method to this madness. Psychosis’ partner, Silver King, was making his debut so maybe WCW didn’t want him to do the job. The other man on the team, La Parka, was involved in a post-match beat down of Super Calo, which would have been difficult had he just tapped out. Don’t ask me why they didn’t just stick someone else in the match to do the job though.
  • Ric Flair and Roddy Piper played down any talk of dissension between them. This was after Piper did not run to Flair’s aid last week. It was made clear at the time that Piper was not present at last week’s show, so it’s not like fans thought he was actively letting The Nature Boy get beat up.
  • We have a new United States Champion. Eddie Guerrero returned from injury to nail Dean Malenko with a frog splash while the referee’s back was turned. Jeff Jarrett then seized the opportunity to apply the Figure Four Leglock for the submission win and the US Title.
  • Kevin Greene jumped Steve ‘Mongo’ McMichael as he made his entrance. Mongo’s opponent, Konnan, was mysteriously left laying in the ring next to a broken broomstick (all signs point to Hugh Morrus). Meanwhile, The Steiners jumped Harlem Heat and Madusa got a piece of Akira Hokuto. These are all matches on Sunday.
  • In what WCW had predicted would be the evening’s hot angle, Kevin Sullivan returned to a mild reaction in comparison to the rest of the show. The Taskmaster really had labour the point that he’s from Boston to elect any kind of response from his home town fans. As you can imagine, he got into a very stiff looking brawl with Chris Benoit before Meng and The Barbarian jumped in to ensure The Crippler got the worst of it. Sullivan had initially warned his Dungeon of Doom pals not to get involved, but he did not protest too much when they eventually did. Apparently Sullivan himself is the third step alluded to by Jimmy Hart last week. It therefore seems rather odd that Benoit will have to go backwards and face Meng (step 2) in order to have another brawl with Sullivan (step 3). Will this feud ever end?!

Full Results

  • Juventud Guerrera, Super Calo & Ultimo Dragon defeated La Parka, Psychosis & Silver King
  • Alex Wright defeated Chris Jericho
  • WCW World Women’s Title Match: Akira Hokuto (c) defeated Malia Hosaka
  • Konnan vs. Steve McMichael – No Contest
  • Lex Luger defeated Hollywood Hogan
  • WCW United States Title Match: Jeff Jarrett defeated Dean Malenko (c)
  • WCW World Tag Team Champions: Ric Flair & Roddy Piper defeated The Outsiders (c) by DQ


FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!

  • WCW have begun local promotion for a beast of a house show on June 28th at the Great Western Forum in Los Angeles. Why all this effort for a house show? Because the WWF are running a house show just down the road at the Anaheim Pond at the same time. So far the card looks like this: some kind of confrontation between Sting and Hollywood Hogan, The Outsiders vs Lex Luger & The Giant for the Tag Titles, Ric Flair vs. Roddy Piper, DDP vs. Randy Savage, Syxx vs. Rey Mysterio Jr. for the Cruiserweight Title, Dean Malenko vs. Eddie Guerrero, The Steiners vs. Masahiro Chono & Scott Norton, Ultimo Dragon vs. Psychosis and a six man lucha match. This looks better than any WCW PPV since, well, ever.
  • The confrontation between Hogan and Sting was originally scheduled to be a match, but obviously WCW want to keep that up their sleeve for Starrcade.
  • A guy called Horseshoe Hank received a try-out at the recent Saturday Night tapings. Why am I mentioning this? Because Hank’s real name is Bill Goldberg.
  • So, you think current day WWE is bad for words and terms talent can and cannot say on air? Well, in WCW the likes of Hogan, Flair and Piper are not allowed to be called “old”. However, Flair and Piper can be called “dinosaurs”, “fossils” and other such things.
  • Kevin Sullivan is still on sabbatical as head booker, his appearance on Nitro this week was purely as an on-screen performer and purely because the show was in his home town. Apparently he still expects to be head booker when he returns, despite some powerful people lobbying hard to keep Terry Taylor in the position.
  • There’s talk of turning Ted DiBiase, who hasn’t been seen for a few weeks, babyface. It’s simple logic really, he was originally the money man with connections for the nWo, but Eric Bischoff has since taken his spot so he is somewhat redundant in the group.

An interesting episode of Raw which saw Faarooq do some remodelling with his Nation of Domination faction. A certain Mr Monday Night from ECW also made a special appearance.


ratings

Raw 2.2 – 3.4 Nitro

Looks like WCW are opening up a gap again, and a hot show in the WWF’s backyard will do their rivals no favours.


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

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2 thoughts on “Meanwhile, in WCW: 1997 Week 23

  1. Pingback: This Week in Wrestling 2017 week 24 | Ring the Damn Bell

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