It was quite a week for wrestling 20 years ago. While a hardcore icon made his presence known on Raw, Nitro featured the debut of a new wrestler who might just go on to make a name for himself in the wrestling industry. Let’s find out more in this week’s ‘Meanwhile, in WCW’…
- Announcers Dusty Rhodes and Tony Schiavone hyped “the most profound announcement in the history on Monday Nitro” as they told us that interim commissioner Roddy Piper will be announcing something regarding the New World Order on Nitro.
- Tony apologised for deserting the commentary desk at Nitro on Monday, but did not regret his decision due to Curt Hennig’s treatment of Ric Flair’s robe. Tony admitted that he was glad that he was not around during the angle where Hennig presented the stolen ring wear to Hollywood Hogan as if it were a trophy.
- Ultimo Dragon had TV Champion, Alex Wright, at his mercy in the Dragon Sleeper when the referee called for the bell due to the time limit expiring. I kid you not, this match had not gone longer than six or seven minutes when the supposed time limit – which was never specified – expired.
- Ray Traylor helped The Steiner Brothers defeat Vicious and Delicious by pushing Buff Bagwell off the top rope and into a powerslam by Scott. I doubt the brothers needed the help, but it helped to end the show in a scrap between WCW guys and nWo guys which was probably the main objective anyway.
- Ray Traylor defeated Vincent
- Bobby Walker defeated Trevor Allen
- Ernest Miller and Glacier defeated High Voltage
- Ultimo Dragon vs. Alex Wright ended in a time limit draw
- Steiner Brothers defeated Buff Bagwell and Scott Norton
I am going to cheat a little this week and use hindsight. Despite plenty of goings on within current storylines, the September 22nd 1997 episode of Nitro is probably best remembered for the television debut of a certain Bill Goldberg. Big Bill was booked against Hugh Morrus and was granted the never flattering ‘jobber entrance’ i.e. he was already in the ring when we returned from a break. The commentary team of Tony Schiavone, Larry Zbyszko and Mike Tenay had zero information on the mysterious stranger but did make mention of Morrus’ impressive recent win/loss record. Early in the match Goldberg reversed a couple of wrist locks and even took Morrus to the mat in a vaguely MMA inspired move, which complimented his vaguely MMA inspired look. Morrus then took over until Big Bill produced a backflip for no apparent reason and to no reaction at all from the crowd. Shortly thereafter the new boy got taken down with Morrus then landing his finisher; The No Laughing Matter i.e. a top rope moonsault. To the shock of the announcers – and mild surprise of fans in the arena – Goldberg kicked out. He then no-sold some strikes and hit a powerslam before muscling Morrus up into a suplex position and slamming him down to the mat in a move we now know as The Jackhammer. Goldberg swiftly left the ring and refused to speak to Mean Gene, who was waiting in the aisle to catch a few words from the new guy. Goldberg’s debut is very well known due to it being the start of his massive winning streak, but it was clear to see that a few things still needed ironed out. He was a bit clunky, the bout lasted longer than you might think for an early Goldberg match, his submissions were awkward and that backflip was just bizarre. However, he did look like an absolute beast and there’s no doubting his strength and athleticism. His opponent and the announcers did a brilliant job of putting him over too. While it wasn’t perfect, this was a very strong debut for a completely unknown wrestler. The phrase ‘sit up and take notice’ is a cliche, but that is literally what announcers and fans alike seemed to do after the referee’s hand slapped the mat for a third time here.
In Other News From Nitro –
- So, what was Roddy Piper’s monumental, Earth-shattering announcement that was hyped so heavily on Saturday Night and for the first hour of Nitro? Erm, I’m not too sure to be honest. He came out, rambled a bit and booked Lex Luger vs. Scott Hall at Halloween Havoc, with Larry Zbyszko as the special guest referee. He then rambled on about Hollywood Hogan, whom Piper will face in a cage match at said pay per view. Hot Rod said that at Halloween Havoc he will make Mike Tyson look like a vegetarian. Was that his big announcement?
- Chances are, the big announcement was actually the booking of the Luger/Hall match. Problem being, Scott Hall had already mentioned that he would face Luger at the PPV earlier in the show. Hall, along with Syxx, called out Lex but The Total Package was not present at the show. The nWo duo then turned their attention to Zbyszko, who marched to ringside to give them a piece of his mind before thinking better of getting in the ring with the two baddies. Hall appeared to issue a challenge for Zbyszko to find a partner, but nothing was made of this. Hall then wrestled Hector Garza, and lost…. clean! The Bad Guy was too cocky and got caught with a roll up. As you can imagine, Garza tasted an Outsiders Edge for his troubles, as did the referee. Hall called out Zbyszko again when he had the poor ref – I think it was Mark Curtis – on his shoulders. This segment, and their interaction at Fall Brawl, explains why Piper figured it would be fitting to have Zbyszko referee Hall’s match against Luger at Halloween Havoc.
- The Living Legend was the star of the show because at the start of the broadcast Eric Bischoff got in his face about distracting Scott Hall at Fall Brawl. Larry told him to beat it before showing footage from the 1996 Great American Bash. This was when Kevin Nash made his WCW debut by Powerbombing Bischoff off the stage. Zbyszko said that Bischoff was scared into joining the New World Order and that the group would turn their backs on him as soon as he loses power. Nice bit of logical storytelling there.
- It’s official, Rey Mysterio Jr. is now feuding with Eddie Guerrero over the Cruiserweight Title, thank you WCW! Eddie came out for a closer look as Rey defeated Silver King, words were exchanged and Mysterio landed a somersault plancha on Eddie at ringside.
- The Faces of Fear scored a clean, albeit clumsy, win over The Steiner Brothers when Meng caught Rick in the Tongan Death Grip.
- You may see from the full results section that Booker T won a handicap match against Scott Norton and Konnan. Well, yes, technically. It was apparently booked as a tag match but Stevie Ray was absent through injury. Booker came out and offered a singles match, but Norton wasn’t having it so it became a handicap match. Booker dominated Konnan, but shit went south when Norton tagged in. Then, for some reason, Vincent got involved which caused a disqualification as the three men battered poor Booker.
- The Disco Inferno upset Alex Wright by winning the Television Title after a very painful looking double cross-body spot. Post-match, Disco was challenged by Jacqueline. Yes, that’s right, A WOMAN! They’ll be asking to vote next. Jackie said to Disco “everybody knows why you were gone for six months”. The tiny percentage of fans who read the dirt sheets would have known about this, but the overwhelming majority would have had no idea what this was all about. Anyway, Disco declined the challenge and walked away. I don’t think we’ve heard the last of this though.
- Hollywood Hogan wore Ric Flair’s robe – which Curt Hennig presented to him last week – to cut a promo on Roddy Piper. He also called out Sting, who was not present at the show. Hogan tried to end his promo with the “just 2 sweet” line, but he couldn’t make his voice go that high.
- There was a cool little angle that I know goes nowhere, but would have been cool if it had. After Macho Man defeated Stevie Richards, Raven – who was sat at ringside again – entered the ring and got in Savage’s face to a big pop from the crowd. However, he soon backed down and planted poor Stevie with a DDT.
- Prior to this, Macho Man gave Curt Hennig the present of Miss Elizabeth for his match against Jeff Jarrett in the show’s main event. Savage also alluded to Hennig facing Ric Flair at Halloween Havoc. Rather than an authority figure like Piper or Bischoff or even Flair or Hennig themselves, this long awaited match was announced in an off-the cuff remark by someone not even involved in the feud?
- Hennig’s match with Double J was Jarrett’s US Title shot, which he earned at Fall Brawl. The reason for Macho Man’s gift became clear when Liz distracted the referee while Jarrett applied the Figure Four Leg Lock to Hennig. This allowed Savage to hand Curt the US Title which he used to smack Jarrett across the head. Hennig then landed his Fisherman’s Suplex on the groggy Double J for the win. The rest of the nWo came out to celebrate but then The Giant came out to get himself some just as Tony Schiavone exclaimed “we’re outta time fans, we gotta go!”
- Rey Mysterio Jr. defeated Silver King
- Bill Goldberg defeated Hugh Morrus
- Disco Inferno defeated Alex Wright (c) to win the WCW World Television Championship
- Hector Garza defeated Scott Hall
- Ciclope, Juventud Guerrera, Lizmark Jr. & Ultimo Dragon defeated La Parka, Psychosis, Villano IV & Villano V
- The Faces of Fear (Meng & The Barbarian) defeated The Steiner Brothers (Rick Steiner & Scott Steiner)
- Randy Savage defeated Stevie Richards
- Booker T defeated Konnan & Scott Norton by DQ in a Two On One Handicap Match
- Curt Hennig (c) defeated Jeff Jarrett to retain the WCW United States Championship
“That’s number one”
Bill Goldberg to the camera after his victory over Hugh Morrus
- If you’ve read up on Bret Hart’s contractual situation with the WWF in 1997 you may have come across the fascinating ‘what if’ scenario involving Hulk Hogan returning to the company. This is because his contract with WCW was set to expire after Starrcade in December, with rumours hitting our timeline around now that he has been sending out feelers to return to the WWF. Word from all sources is that Hogan has no real intention of going back, but he is using this as leverage with WCW despite already being in a pretty good negotiating position already.
- On a related note, Hogan is trying to get his old pal Ed ‘Brutus Beefcake/The Butcher/ Zodiac/ The Booty Man’ Leslie back into WCW.
- Jeff Jarrett’s contract expires in mid-October. He is not expected to sign an extension.
Raw hailed from Madison Square Garden this week and featured a couple of truly iconic moments. Vince McMahon was the recipient of his very first Stone Cold Stunner and let’s just say the match between Triple H and Dude Love did not pan out as Hunter had expected…
Raw 2.35 – 3.6 Nitro
You can read all previous ‘Meanwhile, in WCW’ posts here