IT’S CHRISTMAS! Compliments of the season to one and all, however our 1997 timeline hasn’t quite reached the big day yet. Thus, today we bring you all the action from the December 20th episode of WCW Saturday Night and the December 22nd episode of Monday Nitro. As you can probably tell from the cover image, this was no normal episode of Nitro, so let’s get to business in the penultimate ‘Meanwhile, in WCW’…
- Shortly after bragging about his recent victories over Lex Luger to Mean Gene (he won by disqualification and count out), Buff Bagwell announced himself to be “The Real Total Package” and claimed he would extend his record to 3-0 against Luger. His prophesy came true when the usually composed Lex lost his temper in the main event when first he refused to release Bagwell from a choke before throwing referee Nick Patrick across the ring when he tried to restrain the Total Package. For storyline purposes Bagwell is now 3-0 against Luger in recent matches, but that depends how you define the term ‘recent’. This angle started three weeks ago when Luger defeated Bagwell by disqualification, so it is really 3-1.
- The show did not end with this match, instead a generic Eric Bischoff promo on Larry Zbyszko ahead of their match at Starrcade next week ended things. The most newsworthy part of this segment was nothing Bischoff said about ‘The Living Legend’, rather he promised the nWo’s fans a “holiday treat” on Nitro. I do love surprises…
- Konnan, Vincent & Scott Norton vs. The Steiner Brothers and Ray Traylor is now official for Starrcade next week. Diamond Dallas Page was also announced as Ric Flair’s replacement to challenge Curt Hennig for the US Title at the pay per view. No word on if this will still be a cage match though.
- On the subject of this change to the card, DDP said that he is not taking Flair’s spot because they are friends – because they are not – instead he wants the match because he feels that Flair has been disrespected and wants the nWo, specifically Curt Hennig, to pay for trying to end The Nature Boy’s career. Speaking of “spots”, Page referenced Hennig taking, and abandoning, Arn Anderson’s ‘spot’ in the Four Horsemen. DDP said it would have been a genuine honour had he been offered the position, but interestingly stated that he would have graciously declined it. Page also mentioned that he has only been wrestling for six years, which is kind of mind-boggling because he was 41 years old here.
- Curt Hennig’s nWo team mate, Rick Rude, watched DDP’s win over Road Block from the aisle while smoking a cigar.
- Attention Hotline fans; Mean Gene has made a list of things he wants to see return to WCW in 1998. Namely, The Four Horsemen and an old friend of his. Apparently this was enough bait to make people ring the premium rate number this week.
- Ted DiBiase felt Meng’s Tongan Death Grip after getting in Jimmy Hart’s face over his interference in the Steiner’s match with The Faces of Fear.
- Saturn defeated Chris Jericho, with a little help from The Flock. Lodi’s attempted interference failed but Riggs tripped Jericho to hand the advantage to Saturn.
- Glacier’s heel turn must be complete because he has reverted back to his natural hair colour. Confusingly though, he lost to fellow heel Kidman. As Lodi distracted the referee, Glacier’s former tag partner, Ernest Miller, entered the ring and nailed the Sub-Zero wannabe in the face with a brutal looking karate kick.
- I will touch on this again when I get to Nitro, but the TV Title has certainly seen better days. A guy called Johnny Attitude, who has never been seen before on WCW TV, got himself a shot at the gold here. Yes, Disco Inferno is defending the belt against jobbers, and not as part of an angle. Sadly, the title will endure much worse things in the years to follow.
- Konnan (w/ Vincent) defeated Bobby Walker (w/ Teddy Long)
- Disco Inferno (c) defeated Johnny Attitude to retain the WCW Television Championship
- Eddie Guerrero (c) defeated Bobby Blaze to retain the WCW Cruiserweight Championship
- Diamond Dallas Page defeated Road Block
- Dave Taylor defeated Mean Mike
- Saturn defeated Chris Jericho
- The Public Enemy defeated The Armstrongs
- Kidman defeated Glacier
- The Steiner Brothers defeated The Faces of Fear
- Buff Bagwell defeated Lex Luger by DQ
I am going to make my run-down of the go-home episode of Nitro before WCW’s biggest ever PPV as brief and as fun as possible, because the actual show was none of these things. As you may have already guessed, this was the infamous ‘nWo Nitro’ show. Having only learned minor lessons from the atrocious nWo Souled Out PPV in January, Eric Bischoff thought it would be a good idea to have another crack at airing a show run by the baddies. I shall outline how this was facilitated below, followed by the major happenings from the three-hour broadcast.
The first hour of the show was business as usual, just a regular episode of WCW Nitro. We did see a replay of Bischoff’s promo from Saturday Night, but nobody made anything of his “holiday treat” remark. Then, after Chris Benoit had defeated Hammer, we saw the familiar sight of the nWo removing the commentary team. Granted they haven’t done this in a few months, but these antics are hardly new. What was new, however, was the guys – specifically Konnan – demanding that the camera men and production crew wear ‘nWo Nitro’ t-shirts. K-Dogg also forced them to say that they were “nWo”. As this was going on, all banners and references to ‘WCW Nitro’ were replaced by ‘nWo Nitro’ ones. This was with the exception of the ring skirts though, doh! As well as Konnan, the other ring leader appeared to be Buff Bagwell who grabbed ring announcer Dave Penzer to get him on board. Dave clearly refused because Buff chucked him out of the ring before grabbing the microphone to welcome us all to “nWo Nitro”. All of this was done with no commentary and lasted over 15 boring minutes. Immediately after this, another 15 minutes were killed when Eric Bischoff, Hollywood Hogan and the rest of the higher-ranking members of the group entered the ring. Bischoff alluded to Lex Luger being booked in the show’s main event and announced that Nitro would be three hours long, to stunned silence from the bored crowd. The rest of this segment was dedicated to Bischoff presenting Hogan with gifts and verbally fellating him. After half an hour of zero entertainment killing their momentum, the crowd were understandably muted for the rest of this show. Thankfully, unlike at Souled Out in January, WCW referees were used to keep the action fair and competitive and the all heel nWo announce team was quickly reduced by two thirds for the sake of the television audience.
In Other News From Nitro –
- Okay, so Hogan’s Christmas presents included two motorcycles, one of which had his face painted on the gas tank. Presumably he likes to rub his crotch against images of himself?! He was also presented with a very long stretch limousine, complete with bathtub and attractive young ladies in the back. In a repeat segment later in the show, Bischoff got down on one knee and presented Hogan with a ring. In fairness, it was a replica of the World Heavyweight Title belt and looked pretty cool. Banners of his Sports Illustrated cover and appearance in Rocky III were also revealed above the ring. They came out again, presumably to repeat the same segment for a third time, only Bischoff had no knowledge of what was in the gift-wrapped box that was handed to Hogan. Hollywood just assumed Bischoff was playing coy while at the same time Bret Hart appeared in the back of Hogan’s new limousine to watch him unwrap his present. Hogan opened the package to reveal his own head – in mannequin form. Hogan over-sold his shock magnificently which brought out Sting, who stood atop the entrance like he did last week. Nitro went off the air as The Stinger zip-lined over an onlooking Bret Hart and into the ring.
- Buff Bagwell and Kevin Nash attacked Lex Luger in the wrestling main event of the show. This was all done after a ref bump so Macho Man picked up the win without Randy Anderson noticing any wrongdoing.
- Potential plot hole #1: Why would WCW wrestlers still want to work a nWo show? This was cleared up JJ Dillon and Rick Steiner, who was in the first match on the nWo portion of the show. JJ offered Rick the chance to walk away with no repercussions, but Rick’s pride got in the way and he decided to go out there. Incidentally, his match with Scott Norton was thrown out after Konnan, Vincent, Ray Traylor and Scott Steiner jumped in for a big rumble.
- Potential plot hole #2: Why did WCW announcers call the action for most of the show? The nWo part of the show started with Eric Bischoff, Rick Rude and Kevin Nash at the announce desk, and they handled duties for Rick Steiner vs. Scott Norton. Afterwards, heel (but not nWo affiliated) announcer Bobby Heenan lived up to his nickname of ‘The Weasel’ by begging for a job, claiming that he wants to work for the winning team. Kevin Nash gave up his spot for Bobby as a result. Mike Tenay was brought in to handle play-by-play shortly thereafter because Eric Bischoff had “stuff to do” and if he did not comply Rick Rude would have beaten him up.
- Eddie Guerrero bailed on his Mullet vs. Mullet match with Finlay. He took the count out loss and could be heard saying that he didn’t need the match. Guerrero will defend his Cruiserweight Title against Dean Malenko at Starrcade, so he was making sure he doesn’t get hurt.
- Steve ‘Mongo’ McMichael defeated Meng, but only after the hardest man on planet Earth no-sold a wooden chair shot, a steal chair shot and almost kicked out of the Tombstone Piledriver.
- WCW are going all out to promote The Giant vs. Kevin Nash match this Sunday. Nash only made a couple of short appearances with the rest of the nWo while The Giant only appeared in a video montage of their feud so far.
- DDP said that he is ‘Mr. Christmas’ and that his present this year is Curt Hennig and the US Title. Hennig’s present will be…. BANG! I assumed he meant the Diamond Cutter.
- Speaking of Curt Hennig, he cleanly defeated TV Champion Disco Inferno. Did we really need to see the TV Title devalued for no particular reason in a match also featuring the US Title?
- Chris Benoit got jumped by The Flock after initially inviting them to give their stable mate, Hammer, a hand against him. This caused a disqualification.
- Buff Bagwell’s win over Chris Jericho was clean, believe it or not.
- In his grovelling to get the job of announcing for the evening, Bobby Heenan called Eric Bischoff “the Donald Trump of wrestling”.
- Fit Finlay defeated Eddie Guerrero by count-out
- Steve McMichael defeated Meng
- Hector Guerrero, Juventud Guerrera & Rey Misterio Jr. defeated La Parka, Psychosis & Silver King
- Chris Benoit defeated Hammer by DQ
- Rick Steiner defeated Scott Norton by DQ
- WCW United States Heavyweight Title Match: Curt Hennig (c) defeated Disco Inferno.
- Harlem Heat defeated Lodi & Riggs
- Buff Bagwell defeated Chris Jericho
- Randy Savage defeated Lex Luger
“I told you, Bagwell plays possum and he plays it very well”
Rick Rude explains Buff Bagwell’s lack of offence against Lex Luger
- So, why has WCW removed Ric Flair from Starrcade and put Diamond Dallas Page in his ‘spot’? Word on the street is that Flair hasn’t fully recovered from the ankle injury that kept him on the shelf recently, hence his match last week only actually lasted 17 seconds before everybody ran in.
- The current plan is for Nitro to remain as is i.e. if it’s not broken don’t fix it. This suggests that Larry Zbyszko will defeat Eric Bischoff and that Thunder will become the nWo show. Dave Melzer has also pointed out that this is 90s wrestling and WCW, so anything could happen.
- Even though common sense dictates that Sting should go over at Starrcade, nothing is guaranteed because Hogan has creative control over his character and can stick a pin in Sting’s balloon should he wish to.
- Wrath sustained a collar bone fracture at the Brian Pillman benefit show I mentioned last week. More accurately, he sustained the injury on the way back from the show when he was rear-ended at traffic lights.
- Jacqueline’s contract has expired.
Raw had more of a Christmas theme than Nitro. Our presents were The Undertaker vs. The Rock, Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H and the sight of the D-Generation X duo’s bare asses.
Raw 3.1 – 3.5 Nitro
The ratings appear to confirm what most assumed; nWo Nitro was the drizzling shits. This week was as close as Raw got to Nitro all year.
You can read all previous ‘Meanwhile, in WCW’ posts here