In the middle of a normal broadcast of WCW Monday Nitro, during a match between Mike Enos and Steve Doll, descending down the stairs in the audience was Scott Hall, better known at that point as Razor Ramon. Ramon had just jumped ship from the World Wrestling Federation to World Championship Wrestling. What was different than all of the previous wrestlers whom had defected from the WWF to WCW; this was presented as unexpected. It was presented as unscripted. It was presented as real.
Scott Hall took the microphone from ringside and said, “You know who I am… but you don’t know why… I’m here.”
Two weeks later, Hall was joined by Kevin Nash, the WWF grappler formerly known as Diesel. From there, Hall and Nash became known as “The Outsiders” and would wrecked havoc upon the entire WCW roster.
Fast forward to WCW Bash at the Beach in July 1996. The Outsiders faced off against Lex Luger, “Macho Man” Randy Savage and Sting.
Hall and Nash had promised they would be joined by a “third man” at Bash at the Beach.
That third man was Hulk Hogan.
After nearly two decades of being the quintessential babyface in wrestling, The Hulkster dropped the leg on Randy Savage, and told the fans to stick it, brother.
This was the formation of the New World Order of professional wrestling.
Together Hogan, Hall and Nash caused even more chaos all over WCW. No one could stop the nWo. Not Lex Luger, not Ric Flair, not Arn Anderson, not even Randy Savage. The nWo marched on and found their strength in numbers, recruiting the likes of Ted DiBiase, Syxx, Vincent, Scott Norton and more.
There was one man the nWo wanted, but didn’t know if they could get.
The Franchise of WCW, Sting.
In an effort to recruit Sting while simultaneously fooling the WCW roster, the nWo hired a Sting impersonator, portrayed by Jeff Farmer. Shortly before the 1996 Fall Brawl PPV, this fake Sting was shown exiting the nWo’s limo and attacking Lex Luger. At Fall Brawl, Fake Sting participated for team nWo in WarGames, only for the real Sting to make an appearance and destroy his doppelganger.
Before leaving the cage, Sting turned to Luger, Flair and Anderson and asked them, “Is that good enough for ya? Is that proof!?”
A few weeks later on Nitro, Sting appeared to once again dismantle Fake Sting. Gone was his trademark colorful makeup, replaced now with black and white grease paint. The nWo made one last attempt to recruit Sting, who said he “may or may not be in your price range.”
Sting then uttered the most famous words of his career; “The only thing for sure about Sting… is nothing’s for sure.”
Sting did not say another word for over a year.
Decked head to toe in black and white, The Icon ascended to the rafters of the building Nitro was taking place in each week. This character has became known throughout the years as, “Crow Sting,” due to it’s similarities to Brandon Lee’s character Eric Draven from the 1994 film, The Crow. His motive was never clear. He was simply keeping watch over WCW and the nWo.
At Uncensored in March of 1997, Sting descended from the rafter, baseball bat in hand. It was on this night, Sting made his intentions clear. After disposing of the nWo, Sting pointed his bat at the WCW World Heavyweight Champion, Hulk Hogan.
Without saying a word, Sting set-up one of the most important matches in World Championship Wrestling’s history.
In November of 1997, it was made official.
It was WCW vs the nWo. Good vs evil with the WCW World Championship on the line, live from the MCI Center in Washington DC at WCW Starrcade.
Sting vs Hollywood Hogan.
This was the biggest match of either man’s career.
And it failed.
Our retrospective of Starrcade 1997 begins with the December 22nd edition of WCW Monday Nitro. The show emanated live from the Macon Coliseum in Macon, Georgia. It was a rare three-hour edition of Nitro, a format they would soon adopt on a weekly basis in the new year. This is also the final edition of Nitro to not be complimented by an episode of WCW Thunder later that week.
Nitro kicks off with a video package showing the nWo attacking Ric Flair. Flair was embroiled in a feud with Curt Hennig, who is seen in the footage applying the figure-four to Flair’s previously-injured leg. Before too much damage could be done, Diamond Dallas Page runs to the ring and saves the injured Flair, running off the nWo in the process.
The commentators for the first half of the show are Tony Schiavone, Mike Tenay and Larry Zbyszko.
The Macon Coliseum is actually pretty tiny, considering the popularity of the product at the time. The Nitro Girls dance in the ring, wearing Santa hats to some Christmas music, as it’s Christmas-eve-eve-eve. How festive.
Zbyszko hypes up his match with Eric Bischoff at Starrcade, as Schiavone announces the special guest referee for the match will be Bret Hart. Cut to an interview with Bischoff, done in the style of an nWo paid advertisement. Easy-E says that the nWo will have control of Nitro very soon, and JJ Dillon made a big mistake making Bret Hart the special ref. He did all of this while simultaneously insulting Larry. This was very good; Bischoff is a very good heel in wrestling. Breaking news, I know.
Match #1: Fit Finlay vs Eddie Guerrero
Finlay is out first, wearing a hideous jacket, still rocking a mullet. Eddie out next, with the Cruiserweight title over his shoulder, like The Rock. In typical WCW fashion, both men make their entrance without any commentator saying a word about them.
Eddie starts hot, going after the Belfast Bruiser’s knee. Guerrero tries for a baseball slide, but Finlay moves out of the way. Inside the ring, Finlay drops Eddie throat first on the top rope. Zbyszko won’t shut up about his own match, as Tenay and Tony DESPERATELY reel him back in. Finlay goes on offense, as we’re reminded Eddie will defend the Cruiserweight title against Dean Malenko at Starrcade.
Worth mentioning here that there is a fan in the front row, hard cam side, with a wreath around his neck.
Finlay tries a tilt-a-whirl, but Latino Heat counters it, landing on his feet, drop kicking Fit in his knee. Guerrero climbs the top, looking for a frog splash but Fit cuts him off and nails a beautiful superplex. Eddie counters an attempt at the tombstone with an eye poke, before grabbing his title and hitting the bricks. Finlay wins by count-out.
That… was a match.
Schiavone hypes up that “Sack Master” Kevin Greene will be here tonight. Strap the fuck in kids, Kevin Greene is here.
A commercial is shown building up the battle of the giants at Starrcade between The Giant and Kevin Nash. Fun fact here, Kevin Nash no showed this event after claiming pot-brownies gave him a heart attack. Friendly reminder that Nash is Trash. This video was actually really good.
Match #2: Meng w/ Jimmy Hart vs Steve “Mongo” McMichael
I am so goddamn excited for this match.
Meng out first with Jimmy Hart, who does nothing at this point. Mongo out next to quite a pop. I love Mongo. He’s so great at everything EXCEPT wrestling.
The two men feel each other out before Meng clobbers and chops at Mongo. He chops Mongo like a Bongo. McMichael battles back, taking Mongo off his feet, before hitting a corner clothesline while SCREAMING. He’s so loud, I love it. Meng nails a powerslam for a two. Meng hits a piledriver on Mongo, who gets the shoulder up at two!
On his feet, Mongo’s attempt at a comeback is met with more chops and a slam. Meng ascends the top and crushes McMichael with a splash. Meng pulls Mongo up at two, wanting to punish him more.
On the outside, Meng runs Mongo in the ring post. Jimmy Hart tries to nail Mongo with a chair but gets the ring post instead. Mongo chases Hart into the ring, but Meng cuts him off. The two men duke it out, with chops punches and kicks. Hart slides and old wooden chair into the ring. Mongo grabs it first and destroys in over Meng’s skull.
THE CHAIR MAKES MENG STRONGER. MCMICHAEL HITS HIM WITH A METAL CHAIR, WHICH ALSO HAS NO EFFECT. MONGO THEN SAYS, “FUCK IT” AND TOMBSTONE PILEDRIVES MENG INTO NEXT WEEK. THAT’S ALL SHE WROTE; MONGO WINS!
I LOVE THIS MATCH. I LOVE THESE MEN. MONGO SHOULD HAVE ENDED GOLDBERG’S STREAK.
Another video hyping that Reggie White will be here tonight. Get hyped.
Nitro girls dance. It’s fun.
Mean Gene Okerlund is in the ring and wishes us Merry Christmas. He brings out DDP for an interview. Page has taken Ric Flair’s spot at Starrcade in the US Title match against Curt Hennig. Page is wearing an awesome Christmas shirt with a pig on it. I am jealous. Page talks about how it’s time for WCW to come together. Page calls himself “Mr Christmas” and says that’s a shoot. I remember a couple of years ago, Page did an homage video to It’s a Wonderful Life as an ad for DDP Yoga. It was pretty cool, if I recall correctly. Anyways, he says the WCW United States Heavyweight Championship would be the greatest Christmas gift he could ever get. DDP says his present to Hennig is, “THE BANG.” Lewd.
For the final time, an episode of WCW Saturday Night is advertised, as it’s the last time it’s the #2 show in the company.
Another commercial for Nash vs Giant; with Marc Mero’s WWF theme as the background music, for some reason. They claim that Nash is 7’1, which is odd considering in the first video, Giant CLEARLY says that he is 6’11. Only in Atlanta.
Match #3: La Parka, Silver King and Psychosis vs Rey Mysterio Jr, Hector Garza and Juventud Guerrera
Ahh, nothing like a Trios Match to get the blood pumping.
I honestly am not even going to try to keep up and neither are the announcers. I will say this that lucha libre is probably the genre of wrestling I know the least about. But I do know enough to know that Juvi is baaad. He’s so sloppy. I do not get the appeal.
I also know that Hector Garza was awesome, though. I really liked his run in TNA as a part of Team Mexico in the World X Cup!
We see The Flock coming down the crowd. Okay.
Rey Mysterio Jr. comes in a delivers a frankensteiner on Silver King, which wakes up the crowd for the first time in this match.
Garza, Psychosis, Juvi and Silver King all attempt top rope splashes and all miss their target. That was actually really cool. Juvi jumps of Garza’s back and splashes Psychosis on the outside. Garza nails a corkscrew plancha on Parka and Psychosis.
Rey hits the springboard hurricanrana on Silver King for the win. This was fun. 205 Live eat yo’ goddamn heart out.
We are then shown the winner of the weekly Nitro Party contest. It actually does look pretty fun. You would NEVER see a party for an episode of WWE Raw in 2017.
Match #4: Chris Benoit vs Van Hammer
Tony Schiavone has the audacity to claim that WCW vs nWo: World Tour for the N64 was the hottest selling video game of 1997. FALSE. (‘Final Fantasy VII’, ‘Goldeneye 007’ and ‘Mario Kart 64’ all came out the same year. – mgmt)
Benoit out first, with a mullet and an intense lust for blood in his eyes. Oh, wait a minute, that came out wrong (I promise, that’s my only Benoit joke, they depress me). Hammer comes out of the crowd as he is sitting with the Flock. One of my favorite WCW-related stories of 2017 is Tony Schiavone’s open admission on What Happened When that he absolutely hated Van Hammer.
The Rabid Wolverine immediately goes to work on Hammer, chopping in his one exposed nipple. Worth mentioning, Benoit is wearing the same trunks he wore during his partnership with Brian Pillman as the Horsemen back in 96. When Pillman passed away in October of ’97, Benoit exclusively wore those trunks for quite some time. There’s your useless info for the day, you’re welcome.
Benoit destroys Hammer with a suicide dive on the outside. And let me tell ya, Benoit knows a thi–nah, I’m above that joke.
Benoit gets in the face of the rest of the Flock at ringside, allowing Hammer to take advantage. It leads to Hammer hitting the SCARIEST MOVE I HAVE EVER SEEN IN MY LIFE. SWEET JESUS. It’s backwards powerbomb, but Benoit’s feet get caught in the ropes, making Benoit land directly on his damn neck. Jesus.
Hammer tosses The Crippler outside, but Benoit throws him into the apron, spine first. The rest of the Flock come out of the crowd. Benoit fights them off, but the numbers get the best of him. Benoit wins via DQ.
The Flock lead Benoit laying as we’re off to a JIM KELLY commercial. What the hell is going on?
Okay boys, here we go.
Back from break, the entire nWo has bombarded the commentators desk. Schiavone and Tenay look terrified, and flee for their lives. Zbyszko is nowhere to be found.
Buff Bagwell grabs a camera man and threatens the him to put on an nWo shirt… or else. Rick Rude is leading the charge, yelling at all of the crew members around the stage area.
One crew member ascends to the top of the announcers set to remove the WCW Nitro logos. On the stage, saws and torches are used to remove the giant metal WCW logos by the entry way. Konnan invades the truck and harasses the likes of Craig Leathers and other producers to join the nWo. A big banner is also placed over the production truck, with and nWo Nitro logo on it.
And this is all that kinda happens for…TEN MINUTES. I SWEAR TO GOD.
So, this is actually the infamous nWo Nitro edition of Nitro, which is notoriously hated. So far it’s been pretty good, but I’ll admit that this is… awkward.
Imagine being in the crowd for this! Imagine paying money to sit in the crowd to watch wrestling and instead you see goddamn construction. I’ll give them points for creativity, but there had to be a better way to do this.
Something of note finally happens. Buff Bagwell enters the ring and asks ring announcer David Penzer, “Are you nWo or not!?” To which Penzer bravely replies, “I’m sorry, no I’m not.” Bagwell then throws Penzer down face first into the ring mat.
More banners are lowered from the ceiling. Seriously, there’s like 10 of them. And they’re only used this one time! Never again! How much did this cost!?
Back from another break, Bagwell has spray painted “nWo” on the ring mat.
Then Rick Rude has one of my favorite lines in the history of wrestling; “Pyro…PYRO…PYRO!!! FIREWORKS!!!!” He then…gets the lamest display of fireworks I’ve ever seen and it’s hysterical.
A giant plaque weighing easily a thousand pounds with the nWo Nitro logo on it its then very slowly lowered from the ceiling. Very…very slowly. This is ass TV.
A new intro is then played where a large bald man with a sledgehammer hits the WCW logo, turning it into the nWo logo. This has new music, new graphics and was clearly produced with more than twenty seconds of television in mind. I guarantee this cost them somewhere north of $50,000 to do this intro.
The show then kinda restarts. A new graphic telling us that we’re in Macon is shown and Eric “I swear to God, I don’t have a small penis” Bischoff rides out on a motorcycle. In the ring, Bischoff brings out the entire nWo BECAUSE WE HAVEN’T SEEN ENOUGH OF THEM!!!
Three hours later when they get to the ring, Eric dedicates the first edition of nWo Monday Nitro to Hollywood Hogan. As flyers that read, “Merry Christmas, Hollywood” drop from the ceiling, Hogan is gifted… a motorcycle! Because all men in their forties want a motorcycle.
The man who rides it out then says, “Oh, it’s the wrong one. Goddamn it’s the wrong one!”
The guy then rides out ANOTHER motorcycle. This time, it’s the right one as it has Hogan’s face painted on it. This is my favorite blunder in wrestling history. Fuck The Shockmaster, this is way better.
Bischoff then brings out a giant limo with Nitro Girls riding it, and a damn hot tub in the back. WHAT WAS THIS SHOW’S BUDGET!?
Mercifully, this segment finally ends. This was shit.
In the back, JJ Dillon meets Rick Steiner and Ted DiBiase, who just got to the building an hour late for work. Dillon says it’s up to Steiner to go out there, but they go anyhow! Eff that, I’m taking the night off.
The new commentators for the show are Eric Bischoff, Rick Rude and Kevin Nash.
Match #5: Rick Steiner w/Ted DiBiase vs Scott Norton
Steiner spits on Hogan’s bike on the way down, which no one acknowledges. Norton is out next to the nWo B-team music. Steiner jumps him at the bell and beats the dog-piss out of Scott. It’s great.
Norton hits a shoulder block on the Dogface Gremlin, then tosses him outside. After ramming Steiner into the stairs, he gets back into the ring. On commentary, Rude says he hopes Hogan breaks Sting’s neck since Sting broke Rude’s back and ended his career.
The most meta conversation in history then happens;
Eric Bischoff: “Kevin, what do you want for Christmas? I’m going shopping tomorrow, I’ll get you something.”
Kevin Nash: “Uh, I want a big bag of money. Not so much that I can’t carry it around.”
Bischoff: “Well you know me, I’ve got plenty of it. It’s not mine, so who cares!?”
Oh yeah, the match. Steiner hits a top-rope belly-to-belly suplex. He goes up top again, but Konnan interferes for the DQ. Scott Steiner makes the save, and he’s followed by Ray Traylor. On the outside, DiBiase kicks Virgil to death. Nice touch.
At the desk, Nash poorly hypes up his match with The Giant. Rude then does a much better job of doing the same thing showing that Rick Rude is much better than Kevin Nash. At everything.
Match #6: Disco Inferno vs Curt Hennig
Disco out first, hes’s the WCW World Television champion. Hennig is the WCW United States Heavyweight champion. It’s the most lackluster and unexciting champion vs champion match of all time.
I love the fact that Hennig is still wearing his blue singlet. He don’t give a shit about this nWo garbage. The commentators bury Disco, which really makes the TV title sound meaningless…. which it was, but hey, let’s pretend here!
Hennig dropkicks Disco out of the ring, halfway up the ramp. Very cool. Mr Perfect drags him back into the ring and goes on the attack, hitting chops and such. Disco battles back, and the crowd gets into him. This doesn’t last as Hennig just kicks him. Curt eventually just slaps Inferno in the back of the head, making him look like a total geek. Hennig hits the Perfect-Plex for the win.
Bobby Heenan then emerges from backstage, looking very nervous, wiping the sweat from his brow. Heenan says he just wants to talk business. Bobby says the reason he left the World Wrestling Federation was because he wanted to work for Bischoff, saying he always admired him. Heenan then looks at Bischoff and says, “You’re the Donald Trump of professional wrestling.” I hope for Eric’s sake, he’s wrong.
The Brain says he always needs to be with the winner, and he has to be a part of number one. He begs Eric for a job, Easy-E gets annoyed and grants Bobby a position. Rude then asks Bobby if Sting deserves to have his neck by Hogan, to which Bobby says, “…Yes.” Heenan was so great here.
Match #7: Harlem Heat vs The Flock (Riggs and Lodi)
Eric pretends he doesn’t know Lodi’s name, which is ridiculous. The crowd actually chants “Lodi sucks” which is shocking as I didn’t think anyone cared enough to do so. Riggs is wearing his eyepatch, which doesn’t look as stupid as you’d think.
Bischoff then leaves commentary and has Mike Tenay replace him. Heenan is great here, acting like a complete turncoat. It’s also worth mentioning that Rude on commentary is actually pretty good. His deep gravely voice isn’t as grating as I expected.
Oh yeah, the match. Uh, nothing really happens. This is super basic. Trust me, the commentary is way more interesting than the match itself. I will take this opportunity to once again say that Stevie Ray is wretched.
Tenay brings up Sting on commentary, which sends Rude into a frenzied rant that completely embarrasses and buries Sting. I’m sure there was some legit heat there, at least, at first. Considering this is three years after the injury (and it wasn’t really Sting’s fault), I’m sure Rude was over it.
The match eventually spills outside, as Booker drops Lodi over the guardrail throat first. In the ring, Booker hits the elevated Harlem sidekick for the win. Riggs joins the Flock sitting in the crowd. This was dreadfully boring.
Match #8: Chris Jericho vs Buff Bagwell
Jericho is out first to his WWE entrance theme on the WWE Network, which is always weird. He was using the rip-off of Pearl Jam’s “Even Flow”, at this point. Damn copyrights. Buff out next, wearing a weird sleeveless robe thing. It’s the only time I remember seeing him in this. He’s also wearing an nWo choker. I snickered. Jericho stands in the corner, knowing that patience is a virtue.
Buff slaps Jericho, as the future Y2J fires up and sends Buff outside with a springboard dropkick. Bagwell cuts him off however, and the two men continue to go back and forth. Eventually Buff punches Chris off the apron, and he lands face-first on the guardrail. An awkward exchange happens as Jericho no-sells a clothesline and dropkicks Bagwell, who bumps on his ass.
A very long chinlock spot ensues, as the crowd chants Jericho’s name. Y2J mounts a comeback, hitting a suplex for a two count. Eye poke from Bagwell kills Jericho’s momentum. Buff goes for a leapfrog, but Jericho counters it into a powerbomb, throat first on the rope. Chris Jericho goes for a Frankensteiner off the top, but Bagwell shoves him off and hits the Blockbuster for the three! This was a pretty good match.
Now it’s time for my least favorite part on any given episode of Nitro, the Hollywood Hogan and Eric Bischoff segment. Once again, the entire nWo comes out to the ring for some reason. Easy-E is wearing a Santa hat, so an A+ for festivity.
Hogan then holds a sign that says, “Vince Fears Hogan.” Doubtful.
Bischoff presents Hogan with a ring, that is a replica of the Big Gold Belt, with Hogan’s name on it. It’s deadass beautiful. If I get married, I want that as my wedding band.
This goes on for minutes, and it’s just designed to stoke Hogan’s ego. Bischoff has a banner of Hogan’s Sport Illustrated cover lowered from the ceiling. A second banner is lowered with a picture of Hogan as Thunderlips in Rocky III, choking Sylvester Stallone. Mercifully, this ends. Friendly reminder, we’re two-and-a-half hours into this show and the biggest star in the company is nowhere to be found.
Main Event: “Macho Man” Randy Savage w/ Elizabeth vs “The Total Package” Lex Luger
Savage out first with Liz, who is just beautiful. Savage dedicates this match to Hulk Hogan. Luger out next and stares disapprovingly at the big nWo plaque.
The two men brawl immediately as Luger destroys Macho with a big lariat. Package then stomps a mudhole and walks it dry, yelling all the way. Big vertical suplex to Savage, as Luger stays on the attack. Macho battles back however, dropping Luger on the top rope. Fun fact; I was once friends with a girl who looked like Lex Luger. She was an asshole.
Savage tosses Luger outside and rams him head first into the steps. By the way, I haven’t seen this show in years, but I’ll bet $1,000 this match ends in a DQ. Luger mounts a comeback on the inside, hitting three consecutive lariats. He goes for a fourth but hits referee Randy Anderson by accident. Luger chases Savage outside, and gets jumped by Buff Bagwell. Kevin Nash slowly, lazily wanders in the ring and powerbombs Luger. Just a reminder to those watching at home (and backstage) that he is a bigger star than Bagwell. Savage hits the elbow and picks up the victory.
Dammit, I just lost a grand.
Back from out final commercial as the nWo music plays for the nineteenth goddamn time on this show.
Just Hogan and Bischoff are out this time. Hogan says the party is over for Sting. He says that Sting… will be STUNG at Starrcade. Original. A ring crew member then gets into the ring with a wrapped Christmas gift. Hogan says Eric shouldn’t have, but Bischoff says this one isn’t from him. The hot tub limo then comes back out, but this time Bret Hart is riding on the back of it.
As Hart makes his way down the aisle, Hogan opens the gift and pulls out his own severed head.
Hogan holds his own head, screaming in fear, as Hart tries not to laugh. The crowd the fucking EXPLODES as Sting is seen on top of the set. The dude the ziplines down from the set, into the ring as the crowd loses their minds. The show ends with Sting landing in the ring, and that’s all she wrote for the first (and last) nWo Monday Nitro.
Well, this was certainly a memorable show. The varying degrees of quality on this program are something to marvel at. This show should be studied, as it has everything you should do on a wrestling program, along with everything you SHOULDN’T do on a wrestling show.
There were some absolutely terrible matches on this show. There were also some really good matches on this show. The long, drawn out nWo takeover segment was almost a damn mini series. It started out really cool, but it eventually fizzled into being lame and hella boring.
If that isn’t the perfect analogy for Nitro as a whole, I don’t know what is.
So there ya go, folks! That’s part one of my twenty year anniversary look back on Starrcade 1997! Next time, we’ll be looking at the show itself. And the question I am posing to myself and to all of you is this:
Was this truly, the first nail in WCW’s coffin?