Monday morning at Ring The Damn Bell means it’s time to travel back in time to 1997. It was a simpler time when P. Diddy was still called Puff Daddy and Oasis were top of the UK music charts. Better still, there was plenty of wrestling action to enjoy so let’s get to business in this week’s ‘Meanwhile, in WCW’…
- Jeff Jarrett should come with a spoiler alert. During his promo – where accused Ric Flair of being jealous and bragged about holding victories over the other Horsemen – Double J had this to say to Steve ‘Mongo’ McMichael ahead of their match at Bash at The Beach; “Queen Debra’s gonna be your undoing”…
- Diamond Dallas Page again refused to reveal his mystery tag partner for BATB, hence the term “mystery” I suppose. That said, he did add Larry Zbyszko and La Parka to the list of names who might be his partner.
- Referee Nick Patrick – who appears to have passed his probationary period – clarified exactly what Savage did to him on Nitro. Apparently he was scalded with hot coffee and had his head held under water. He also revealed that Savage was fined yet another $50,000 for his antics. Patrick also made an appeal for a safe working environment. Sounds like a modest request to me.
- TV Champion Steven Regal claimed to be the only heavyweight champion within WCW’s ranks… I’m not sure who he thinks US Champion Jeff Jarrett works for then. Regal also trashed America and said how proud he is to be British. Regal then ran down Rowdy Roddy Piper for being Scottish – Scotland being part of Britain, remember – and the rest of WCW’s big names.
- We saw an Eric Bischoff promo where he hyped the anniversary of the nWo’s formation. It’s about time someone made reference to this because the actual anniversary was on Monday and there was no mention of it on Nitro. I guess mentioning it around the Bash at The Beach pay per view will just have to do.
- We also saw a Hollywood Hogan and Dennis Rodman promo, set to Voodoo Child (Slight Return) by Jimi Hendrix. It was a good choice of music, wonder if they’ll keep it?
- Sonny Onoo now manages La Parka, as well as Psychosis.
- On the hotline this week was news of potential debuts at Bash at The Beach and wrestlers leaving WCW.
- Eddie Guerrero talked about showing Chavo Jr. tough love before Eddie’s brother – and Chavo’s other uncle – Hector Guerrero interrupted and started telling Eddie to behave with more integrity. Evil Eddie disagreed with his older brother and walked away.
- The Public Enemy defeated Los Villanos
- Steven Regal (c) defeated Scotty Riggs to retain the WCW World Television Championship
- Ultimate Dragon defeated Hector Guerrero
- La Parka & Psychosis defeated Hector Garza & Juventud Guerrera
- The Barbarian defeated Jerry Lynn
- Eddie Guerrero defeated Joey Maggs
- Jeff Jarrett defeated Joe Gomez
- Ernest Miller & Glacier defeated Scott Armstrong & Steve Armstrong
- Chris Jericho defeated Alex Wright
Mortis and Wrath (w/ James Vandenberg) defeated Glacier and Ernest Miller
Tell you what, this match was much better than I expected. Despite the tedious and repetitive nature of this feud, fans in the arena were hot for this contest. There were a couple of creative spots involving Mortis kicking Glacier too. Firstly, as Wrath sandwiched Glacier’s head between the ring post and a steel chair, Mortis superkicked the chair in a spot that looked like a distant relative of a Con-chair-to. For the finish, James Vandenberg wrapped a chain around Mortis’ foot before putting it on the rope to break up a pin. After Mortis got to his feet he used his newly gimmicked foot to superkick Glacier and hand the ice man his first loss.
Chris Jericho defeated Ultimo Dragon to retain the WCW Cruiserweight Championship
If you were to judge this event on how it looks on paper you would be forgiven for thinking that this bout would be the sleeper match and well worth watching. Unfortunately, you’d be wrong. Don’t get me wrong, it most certainly wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t particularly exciting either. It was a very solid match with the guys working well together, but there was zero heat. This was particularly noticeable due to how hot the crowd were for the first bout. The finish was cool at least. Chris Jericho rolled through Ultimo Dragon’s roll through after Jericho’s Powerbomb. Hard to describe, but cool to see, trust me.
After Mike Tenay struck out on the last two Nitros, Mean Gene managed to get some words from Raven – who was sat in the front row with Stevie Richards – at his first attempt. He quoted some self-indulgent poetry, akin to a moody teenager. He then slapped Stevie really hard after his lackey let slip about an announcement tomorrow night…
The Steiner Brothers (Rick and Scott) defeated The Great Muta and Masa Chono
Not as good as it should have been, but it was hard hitting and came alive towards the end. The finish was Scott Steiner’s ultra-dangerous DDT from Rick’s shoulders. As a result of this win, Rick and Scott will now get a shot at The Outsiders’ Tag Titles.
Juventud Guerrera, Héctor Garza, and Lizmark, Jr. defeated La Parka, Psicosis, and Villano IV
Can you say clusterfuck?! It was as if this bunch quickly figured out that fans only reacted to their high spots, so that’s pretty much all they did; guys flying all over the place. As a result, there were quite a few mistakes. The highest high spot was probably Hector Garza’s top rope corkscrew plancha to the outside. Villano IV pulled twin magic with the recently debuted Villano V, but it still didn’t work and Garza picked up the clean win for his team of second generation luchadors.
Chris Benoit defeated Kevin Sullivan (w/ Jacqueline) in a Retirement Match
Finally, the never ending feud is over. This was as hard-hitting and wild as all their other matches and even featured a piledriver on concrete. Jacqueline got involved early doors, and with no Woman accompanying Benoit she got away with it until The Crippler literally threw her off. However, this would be Sullivan’s undoing later in bout. After he produced a wooden chair, The Taskmaster and Jackie appeared to argue over who would hit Benoit with it before Jackie smacked Sullivan with it. Benoit landed a diving headbutt on the prone Taskmaster for the win and end Kevin Sullivan’s in-ring career. Post-match, Jimmy Hart got in Sullivan’s face and said he had “let them down”. I assume by “them” he meant The Dungeon of Doom. This being wrestling nobody in the arena was seriously buying that this was actually Sullivan’s last match. That said, his bosses have been trying to get him out of the ring for the last two years so this may well be the end.
Jeff Jarrett (c) defeated Steve McMichael (w/ Debra McMichael) to retain the WCW United States Heavyweight Championship
Predictably Debra turned on her husband when she handed Jeff Jarrett the infamous briefcase to smack Mongo with. Surprisingly this match wasn’t terrible, largely due to the enthusiasm of the crowd.
Scott Hall and ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage (w/ Miss Elizabeth) defeated Diamond Dallas Page and Curt Hennig
This was shit and totally not in keeping with the DDP vs. Savage feud. With Hall, Savage and DDP all receiving good reactions from the lively crowd, Curt Hennig was introduced as Page’s mystery partner to the sound of crickets. Nobody gave a shit, it was quite sad really. Even sadder was Booby Heenan’s insistence that Hennig looked like he was in the best shape of his career, despite having replaced the six-pack he sported prior to his back injury a few years ago with a big, round gut. The match was not much better than this anti-climax either. At what appeared to be a mid-point of the bout, DDP inadvertently low-bridged Heenig with the ropes. An annoyed Hennig then gave DDP a forearm to the back and walked away. This tame shot to the back was apparently enough to weaken Page so that Hall could land the Outsiders Edge with Macho Man then landing his trademark elbow for the win. I have since heard that this finish was botched by Hennig, but it’s hard to see how and where. That said, the other wrestlers did appear to hesitate slightly after Hennig had walked away. I’m actually inclined to think that everything went how it was supposed to, fans just didn’t give a shit.
Roddy Piper defeated Ric Flair
If the previous match fell below expectations, then this one exceeded them. Well, mine at least. The match was what it was, and by that I mean exactly the match you might expect between Ric Flair and Roddy Piper. Thus, I was expecting a pair of wrestlers who are past their prime wrestling an out-dated style of match. However, the crowd bought into it, it was very well executed and both men put forth plenty of effort to make this far more entertaining than a match between this pair had any right to be in 1997. The finish came when Chris Benoit and Mongo interfered on Flair’s behalf. Benoit botched his interference by nailing Flair instead of Piper, but Mongo did manage to hit his Tombstone Piledriver on Roddy. However, Flair took so long to make the cover that Piper managed to kick out and subsequently put The Nature Boy to sleep with his trademark Sleeper Hold.
Lex Luger and The Giant defeated Dennis Rodman and Hollywood Hogan (w/ Randy Savage)
Exceeding expectations was a common theme on this show, and no more so than the main event. I mean, look at who was in this thing. It’s pretty grim when out of four guys in a match you’re looking to Hogan and Luger to carry the load in terms of in-ring work. Well, that they did and they did it well. I, like many in attendance, had written Dennis Rodman off while forgetting that the man knows exactly how to work a crowd. It took a few minutes before The Worm entered the match and when he did he seemed to delay for ages before finally locking up with Luger. At this point the roof nearly blew off the arena when he caught The Total Package with an arm drag. How many full time wrestlers could elect such a huge reaction after a simple arm drag? Rodman’s spot in this match was justified right there and then. From there things were kept basic between Rodman and Luger, and I’m not sure that was all down to Rodman! Headlocks, arm drags and leapfrogs were Rod The Bod’s moves of choice, not that it mattered because the guy was over as hell just standing still. As you may have guessed, the end of the match did feature some shenanigans, and oddly not from Macho Man who accompanied Rodman and Hogan. Sting, who appeared to have grown an extra foot since last we saw him, marched to the ring and nailed The Giant with a baseball bat. Poor Tony Schiavine had to sell that this 7ft Sting was the real deal. Anyway, it counted for naught because Luger was still able to put Hogan in the Torture Rack for the win. After the bell he even racked Rodman.
This bout was full of old fashioned stalling tactics, slow motion wrestling and the 7ft Sting nonsense was just ridiculous; but man was it entertaining. Fair fucks to Dennis Rodman, what a fantastic choice as a celebrity to include in a match. WCW seem to have a good record with celebrities, so far at least. Kevin Greene has done well in his matches, Rodman was fantastic here and even Reggie White put forth plenty of effort in his match a couple months ago. Let’s just hope they don’t jump the shark and get talk show hosts involved…
Not the most action packed episode of Nitro this week. I guess the juiciest story involved Curt Hennig and DDP. During the first hour, Page confessed that Hennig was actually his fourth choice to be his partner at Bash at The Beach. Apparently DDP wanted Sting, Luger and The Giant ahead of Hennig. Page noted that Luger and The Giant were already booked in a match while he did not want to ask Sting for a favour after being bailed out by him on several occasions recently. Thus, when Page spoke to Hennig in a bar a few weeks ago he thought he was a stand-up guy and worth asking to be his partner. Obviously he was wrong and now DDP wants to get even. We now have to skip forward to La Parka’s match with Super Calo because Macho Man interfered by attacking La Parka, only it was the real La Parka this time because DDP – who was dressed as La Parka last week – jumped in to get at Savage. Curt Hennig then came out and nailed Page, but left without acknowledging Macho Man to keep us guessing on whether he is with the nWo or not. Afterwards, Hennig called Page a mark and claimed that he wouldn’t last 30 seconds, in a variety of situations. To cap this segment off, a very excited Ric Flair then appeared and invited Hennig to Treasure Island, seriously.
In Other News From Nitro –
- The angle with Savage, La Parka and DDP fell flat with the live crowd because it was at this exact moment when an attractive blonde lady started handing out free t-shirts to fans. Even worse, she was opposite the hard camera dishing out t-shirts to fans who DDP had to run past on his way to the ring.
- The inexplicably popular Lex Luger, who is due a title shot, closed the show by calling out Hollywood Hogan for a title match at Road Wild in August. The nWo – sans Hogan – came out but were halted when a fake Sting also showed up and got in the ring with Luger. This fake sting turned out to be the real Sting. Yes, they have officially taken this shit full circle.
- It’s official, Konnan has joined the nWo. He was welcomed to the group by Kevin Nash. K-Dogg – as Nash called him – has some work to do though; he keeps using his left hand to do the ‘4 Life’ gesture, thus the ‘L’ is the wrong way around.
- The Giant flattened Prince Iaukea and a bunch of security guys so he could call out Kevin Nash. The big man was escorted away after his promo by Doug Dillinger and the non-jobroni security guys. Nash made little to no reference to this challenge during his promo time later in the show.
- Led by Kimberly Page, The Nitro Girls debuted this week. They are essentially dancers to entertain the live crowd during ad breaks, although TV viewers will still get to see them too. The group announced their arrival at the start of the show and were afforded plenty of time for a dance number that went down very well with the crowd of predominantly young men. We were introduced to the other ladies by Kimberly, but her microphone wasn’t working so we’re still none the wiser.
- It may have taken 24 hours, but Tony Schiavone finally twigged that the 7ft man dressed as Sting last night was not actually the real Sting. Detective Tony thinks it was probably Kevin Nash. So it’s no longer a mystery – not that it ever was – and did not actually influence last night’s result. So, what was the point then?
- Speaking of Nash, he was faking an injury this week to avoid wrestling Harlem Heat. Syxx took his place, but Nash still interfered in the match to help Syxx and Scott Hall win. Nash also denied dressing as Sting and interfering in last night’s main event.
- Eddie Guerrero tried to deliver multiple Frog Splashes to his nephew, Chavo, until Hector showed up. Brothers Eddie and Hector had a small confrontation and shoving match.
- There was another cryptic promo from Raven at ringside, and yet again Stevie Richards got a slap for mentioning something he shouldn’t have. This time he mentioned that he – Stevie – had signed a WCW contract.
- The Steiner Brothers were jumped by the nWo b-team but held their own.
- Speaking of which, Scott Steiner appeared to beat the crap out of Buff Bagwell after Buff landed a stiff looking slap across Scott’s face during The Steiners match with Vicious and Delicious.
- Chris Benoit and Steve ‘Mongo’ McMichael jumped Jeff Jarrett during Double J’s match with Ric Flair. Fair enough you might think because this made for a 3 on 1 Horseman gang attack on Jarrett. Problem is – and this was not referred to at all on commentary – Mongo and Benoit jumped into this US Title match as Flair had Jarrett in the Figure Four Leg Lock i.e. Mongo caused his boss the US Title. But fuck it, even Flair would rather batter Jarrett than do anything else.
- Alex Wright vs. Prince Iaukea ended in a No Contest
- Eddie Guerrero defeated Chavo Guerrero Jr.
- The Steiner Brothers defeated Vicious And Delicious by DQ
- Chris Benoit defeated Mike Enos
- La Parka vs. Super Calo ended in a No Contest
- Scott Hall & Syxx defeated Harlem Heat
- Masahiro Chono & The Great Muta defeated The Public Enemy
- Jeff Jarrett (c) (w/ Debra McMichael) defeated Ric Flair by DQ to retain the WCW United States Championship
“Dennis Rodman has arm-dragged The Total Package”
“And not even taken his shades off”
Dusty Rhodes in response
- A big muscly guy called Bill Gold wrestled a dark match prior to Nitro this week…
- Arn Anderson has returned to work following his neck operation. He is obviously not going to be wrestling any time soon, but is said to be helping Terry Taylor with the booking. Speaking of Taylor, there’s a chance he might retain some degree of power even when Kevin Sullivan returns to his head booker role. Apparently everybody has been impressed with how organised things have been under Taylor.
- The one hour syndicated version of Nitro that airs in Canada is said to be a complete riot. The June 30th episode, which was centred around the debut of the mystery ‘impact player’ finished before Curt Hennig made his debut. The episode headlined by Ric Flair vs Scott Hall a few weeks prior aired without that match, despite featuring the segment setting it up.
- Some additions to the recently released list of talent include; The Renegade, Lanny Poffo (he was under contract?!), Jerry Lynn, Pat Tanaka, Rob Parker and The Amazing French Canadians. Last week I mentioned guys like Jim Duggan and Michael Wallstreet had been released too. In some cases we may not have seen the last of these guys because they have been released from their guaranteed contracts. They will have a 90 day clause stopping them signing a new contract – even if it is with the same company – but afterwards we may well see Duggan and co. return under per-appearance deals.
- Apparently the original plan for the Rey Mysterio Jr. injury angle from a couple weeks ago was for him to defeat Kevin Nash, but get beaten down afterwards. The plan was for babyface Rey to nail Nash with a sock full of coins to facilitate the David vs. Goliath booking.
This week’s episode of Raw helped to build towards Summerslam. With Shawn Michaels injured, Stone Cold Steve Austin had a mystery partner to take on Owen Hart and The British Bulldog. I hope he elected a better response than Curt Hennig…
Raw 2.6 – 3.5 Nitro
You can read all previous ‘Meanwhile, in WCW’ posts here