With the holiday season almost upon us in 2017, it was a similar story back in 1997 too. Christmas brings a lot of traditions but one that is a sure-fire way to make people of a certain age feel even older is a big movie release! One of the big movies out in 1997 this week was the 18th James Bond film; Tomorrow Never Dies, staring Pierce Brosnan. Yes folks, that was 20 years ago! Anyway, let’s see what was happening in the squared circle 20 years ago in this week’s ‘Meanwhile, in WCW’…
- Commentators Tony Schiavone and Dusty Rhodes hyped the WCW debut of Bret Hart which is scheduled for this Monday on Nitro.
- Louie Spicolli is a jobber no more. He picked up a clean, and convincing, win over Chavo Guerrero Jr. by using the Death Valley Driver. He even found time to taunt the crowd before delivering his finisher, which can’t have sat well with Chavo.
- Mean Gene interviewed Goldberg, not Bill Goldberg, just Goldberg. We got that little detail straightened out right away because he definitely does not like being called “Billy”. Anyway, Billy Boy had a relaxed and confident aura and spoke relatively softly, so he clearly has some character development to go through before becoming the beast we all know him to be. While he spoke with a degree of confidence, he didn’t make much sense. He started by stating that he does respect Steve ‘Mongo’ McMichael before ending his promo by saying that any respect he had for him was now gone. The pair are booked to face each other at Starrcade in a match rescheduled from World War 3.
- Attention hotline fans, has someone else ‘jumped ship’ from ‘up north’? The answer is yes and most likely The British Bulldog or Jim Neidhart or both.
- The Giant cut a promo on Kevin Nash. Apparently he’s had enough, of Nash.
- Diamond Dallas Page cut a promo on the entire nWo. He claimed that none of them could beat him one-on-one without help or interference.
- Glacier’s heel turn appears to be complete. He showed up during Ernest Miller’s match with Mortis and kicked his now former tag partner in the head as James Vandenberg argued with the referee. Mortis then showed off his new finisher, the D.O.A., for the win.
- The show ended with the nWo b-team attacking Ray Traylor in his match with Curt Hennig. Rick Rude forcibly distracted the referee until the Steiner Brothers made the save as the show went off the air. As a former member of the nWo, Traylor is supposed to be a man with no friends but The Steiners said last week that they’d back him up. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, and all that. The reason Traylor appears to be viewed differently to The Giant and Ted DiBiase is because they actively chose to leave or rebel against the group, Traylor was just booted out while he was recovering from an injury. Incidentally, Traylor did a knee injury spot jumping off the top rope which Hennig targeted for the rest of the match. Will this angle amount to anything though?
- Mortis (w/ James Vandenburg) defeated Ernest Miller
- Steve McMichael defeated Mark Starr
- Louie Spicolli defeated Chavo Guerrero Jr.
- Yuji Nagata (w/ Sonny Onoo) defeated Prince Iaukea
- Chris Benoit defeated Fit Finlay
- The Faces of Fear defeated Harlem Heat
- Chris Adams defeated Rick Fuller
- Scotty Riggs defeated Bobby Eaton
- Dean Malenko defeated Juventud Guerrera
- Ray Traylor defeated Curt Hennig (c) by DQ in a WCW United States Championship Match
Nitro was three hours long this week and hailed from Charlotte, North Carolina i.e. the capital of Horseman country. Of course, Ric Flair featured in the show’s big angle, but so did everybody else. Here is a run-down of the show-closing angle which seemed to incorporate every major feud in the promotion –
First, let’s go to the start of the show. Curt Hennig called out Ric Flair (Flair accepted shortly thereafter) and Hollywood Hogan cut a promo on Sting saying that if he’s in the building he’ll find him. Fast forward to the end of the show and Curt Hennig called out Flair again. Hennig had clearly been told to fill time until the final commercial break, however he made his point in a reasonable amount of time unaware that he was supposed to fill for an unreasonable amount of time. Thus, he babbled on and lost the interest of the crowd who had begun to notice that he was just killing time. After the break and The Nature Boy made his entrance to a massive pop. However, Flair barely had time to remove his robe before the nWo jumped him. This prompted the likes of the Steiner Brothers, Lex Luger and DDP to even the sides. Amongst the chaos, Flair went down with a leg injury and had to be carried to the back. With the ring now empty apart from DDP, Page took the opportunity to call out Hennig, who had since retreated with the rest of the nWo. He got his wish, only Hennig returned to the ring with the entire New World Order, including Hollywood Hogan. Page sensibly did a runner through the crowd. Hogan then took the microphone and gloated that Sting didn’t show up and called him a coward. The lights then went out with only a spotlight revealing Sting stood in the rafters. The lights went out again only for Sting to be re-positioned atop the Nitro set when they came back on. The show went off the air just as the Stinger seemed to accept Hogan’s challenge and make his way to the ring for a fight.
In Other News From Nitro –
- The other big news from Nitro was that Bret Hart showed up. His debut was so underwhelming that it is only fitting to relegate it to a bullet point rather than the main story from the show. Eric Bischoff and JJ Dillon had earlier squabbled about the rules of Bischoff’s match at Starrcade with Larry Zbyszko. Bischoff will only compete if kicks, punches and knock-outs are legal. JJ agreed so long as submissions are also legal. So, a regular professional wrestling match then? On a three-hour Nitro that is a segment, and merely part one of two. The pair appeared in the ring again, this time arguing over who should referee the match. JJ pitched Randy Anderson, Bischoff came back with Kevin Nash. JJ responded with Scott Dickenson, Bisch tried to get Syxx the gig. Eventually JJ struck a deal. Dillon acquiesced to the referee being “a nWo guy” but stated that he would get to pick which one. A gleeful Bischoff accepted the deal which prompted JJ to introduce Bret Hart, to a reasonable, but not exceptional, reaction from the crowd. Remember, a few weeks ago Bischoff was claiming that The Hitman would be joining the nWo. Both JJ and Bischoff seemed happy with themselves until Hart told Bischoff not to look to him for any help because he knows what it’s like to be screwed by a referee. Bischoff then reminded The Hitman of his $7.5 million a year contract and where his loyalties should lie.
- Other points of interest during The Hitman’s debut included him opening with the line “it’s great to be here in Flair Country”. Ric cut a promo on The Hitman a couple of weeks ago, hence debuting Bret in Flair’s stomping ground proved to be an interesting move. The commentators were shy of using The Hitman nickname for fear of it being trademarked by the WWF. Bret Had no such worries though, he was even sporting his Hart Foundation jacket.
- Not only was Ric Flair present on this show, his best friend Arn Anderson was too. Other than cutting promos on Curt Hennig, the pair’s main purpose was to hand over a $15,000 cheque to the Charlotte police as a donation to their fallen officers fund. Apparently a statue for fallen officers had just been unveiled in the city.
- So, Ray Traylor’s knee, did it bother him on Nitro against Vincent? Nope. That is despite the commentators trying to highlight his bad wheel.
- Eddie Guerrero provided commentary for Dean Malenko’s match with Finlay. Eddie also provided Dean with a distraction on the ring apron, which allowed Finlay to take advantage and win the match.
- Rey Mysterio Jr. and Juventud Guerrera vs. La Parka and Psychosis was as good as it sounds.
- When Mean Gene tried to introduce Lex Luger, Buff Bagwell came out claiming to be ‘The Real Total Package’. Luger eventually came out to challenge Bagwell to a match. Buff tried a bunch of excuses to get out of it, only for Luger to be one step ahead. Flexy Lexy had asked for more time from the guys in the truck, brought out a referee and even allowed Buff time to warm up… via a slap to the face. When Scott Norton and Konnan showed up we assumed it caused a disqualification, only to find out that it was Luger whom Nick Patrick DQ’d for throwing Bagwell over the top rope. Buff now has quite a collection of cheap wins over Luger.
- Chris Benoit claimed to be more non-conformist that the allegedly conformist members of the non-conformist group The Flock. This earned him a kicking from the group and a minute or so in The Rings of Saturn. Once again, Raven was absent.
- Scott Hall tried his usual survey promo and for the first time in, well, ever, there was a clear winner. Charlotte is definitely WCW territory! It’s worth keeping the knowledge that the New World Order isn’t universally popular in mind for next week.
- Ray Traylor returned the favour from Saturday Night by coming to The Steiner Brothers’ aid when the nWo attacked them.
- Miss Elizabeth tried all the heel manager tricks during Macho Man’s match with Booker T, but nobody truly buys her as a baddie.
- Steve ‘Mongo’ McMichael was scheduled to face Meng, but he was laid out by Goldberg just before going through the curtain. We did not see the attack but this was payback because Mongo did the exact same thing to Goldberg back at World War 3. A furious JJ Dillon then ordered an equally angry Goldberg to take Mongo’s place in the match, which he was about to do until Mongo recovered just as Goldberg was about to reach the ring. The pair had to be separated by security.
- Ray Traylor defeated Vincent
- Disco Inferno (c) defeated Yuji Nagata to retain the WCW World Television Championship
- Fit Finlay defeated Dean Malenko
- Juventud Guerrera & Rey Misterio Jr. defeated La Parka & Psychosis
- Scott Hall defeated Chris Jericho
- The Steiner Brothers (c) defeated Konnan & Scott Norton by DQ to retain the WCW World Tag Team Championship
- Randy Savage defeated Booker T
- Chris Benoit defeated Scotty Riggs
- Buff Bagwell defeated Lex Luger by DQ
- Ric Flair defeated Curt Hennig (c) by DQ in a WCW United States Heavyweight Championship Match
“A man his age should not be wearing a hat backwards”
Tony Schiavone on Eric Bischoff’s fashion choices
- New WCW recruit, Bret Hart, conducted a candid Prodigy internet interview this week. The highlights include him thanking Mick Foley and Owen Hart for their show of support by not attending Raw after Survivor Series, clarifying past remarks about Ric Flair, blaming Vince McMahon for any tension between himself and Hollywood Hogan, saying he would never attend a WWF Hall of Fame ceremony should he ever be inducted, saying that Shawn Michaels cried like a baby after their match at Survivor Series and said that he was proud of punching Vince McMahon in the face following the bout.
- Guess what? Another seven days have elapsed and still nothing is set in stone regarding the whole splitting WCW and the nWo into two separate brands situation. The current plan is for the winner of the Larry Zbyszko vs Eric Bischoff match at Starrcade to win control of Nitro, with the loser taking their brand to Thunder on Thursday nights. So, both men will be looking to avoid being saddled with WCW’s brand new, prime-time show before it even premieres?!
- Rick Martell will debut in January.
- Rowdy Roddy Piper is set to return in a few weeks, likely following Starrcade.
- Mean Gene made a long overdue apology regarding Brian Pillman’s death. He speculated on the WCW Hotline after Pillman’s death in early October that the cause was a drug overdose, which was not the case. Pillman died as a result of an undiagnosed heart defect. Gene made the apology on the Internet Insiders show.
- On the subject of Pillman, Diamond Dallas Page and Judy Bagwell (Buff’s mum) ran a benefit show for his family recently. The likes of Page, Buff, The Flock, The Steiners, Steven Regal, Wrath and Mortis gave their time for the event. Atlanta Hawks shooting Guard, Steve Smith, even handled time keeping duties.
- There is talk of Ric Flair turning heel and using Debra as his valet, should WCW and the nWo split into two shows. The Wrestling Observer has quite rightly pointed out the stupidity of this idea because there’s barely a wrestling fan alive that wants to boo The Nature Boy.
- Nick Patrick has turned heel, but he hasn’t. At a recent taping for WCW Pro, he is said to have clearly turned heel to assist Scott Hall against Ray Traylor. However, this was all covered up in post-production to the point that Traylor even won the match that in reality he lost. The magic of television, eh?
Some iconic moments over on this week’s Raw. Steve Austin threw The Rock’s Intercontinental Title into the Oyster River while D-Generation X were joined by the New Age Outlaws in a beat down of The Legion of Doom. This was the angle where Hawk had his mohawk shaved.
Raw 2.7 – 4.1 Nitro
You can read all previous ‘Meanwhile, in WCW’ posts here