Review: WCW Monday Nitro [December 29, 1997]

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Ahh, I’ve missed you folks too.

This review was originally intended to the the third part of my retrospective on WCW Starrcade 1997 and was meant to be finished back on its anniversary. Needless to say, that didn’t happen. So now here in beautiful, sunny February, let’s look back on a random episode of WCW Monday Nitro for no reason what-so-ever! Enjoy!!

Twenty-four hours removed from Starrcade, it’s needless to say that WCW had a SHITLOAD of explaining to do. Coming off their biggest event and one of the biggest blunders in company history, there were so many unanswered questions.

  1. Where was Kevin Nash?
  2. Is Eric Bischoff still in power?
  3. What are Bret Hart’s intentions?
  4. Is Sting the World Champion?
  5. IS NICK PATRICK STILL EMPLOYED!?

Let’s dive right in and see if any of these questions have been answered!

Spoiler: They weren’t. 🙁

We open with photos of Sting’s “victory” from the night before, as Tony Schiavone hammers home the fact that Sting IS the WCW World Heavyweight Champion.

NEW World Heavyweight Champion, my ass!

Live from the sold out Baltimore Arena in Baltimore, Maryland, Schiavone and Mike Tenay welcome us to Nitro. Purple and gold balloons fall from the sky as the Nitro Girls dance.

The Nitro Girls were always a highlight of Nitro

Larry Zbyszko, who won control of Nitro back for WCW the night before, gets a special entrance and a hero’s welcome. It’s kind of remarkable just how popular Larry was at this time.

Tony Schiavone then drops the best line of his career.

“For you 18-25 young men, who still live with your Mom, who don’t have a job, who are nWo fans, let me suggest the Cartoon Network; I’m sure ‘Space Ghost: Coast to Coast’ is on right now.”

Boy, do I wish I were watching Space Ghost instead right now.

Real talk, this show was great!

Schiavone, in another career highlight, says, “nWo is 4-LOSERS,” while putting the shape of an L on his forehead.

So, the years start coming and they don’t stop coming…uh, wait. What? Nothing.

Tonight was a banner night in the career of, my boy, Tony Schiavone.

Match #1: Glacier vs Bill Goldberg

Interesting that the guy who DIDN’T have nine months of hype behind him is going into the WWE Hall of Fame this year and not Glacier.

Sub-Zero makes his way out first. Full disclosure first, I’m a big Glacier mark. Out next is your Dad and mine, Dadberg. Or do we like GoldDad better?

Goldberg showing Glacier who’s boss.

Coach Buzz Stern (Glacier’s second and infinitely more entertaining character) jumps Bill before the bell sounds. Many kicks wear away at Goldberg, but he battles back and just throws Glacier down. Glacier gets sent into the ropes and SPEAR! Tenay mentions that up to this point, Glacier has only lost TWICE.

Huge Jackhammer from Goldberg, 1-2-3, and number #95 picks up the win! Goldberg stares down the camera and shouts, “Who’s next!? That’s what I wanna know!” I love Goldberg.

“Mean” Gene Okerlund is in the ring and welcomes his guest Bret “The Hitman” Hart. Bret’s first WCW theme is TRASH. This coming from someone who thinks his third WCW theme is better than his Fed theme. Gene tells Hart the he is glad Bret picked WCW over the nWo (give it a few months, Gene). Bret says that last night at Starrcade, justice prevailed. He says the nWo SUCKS, and they remind him of the “scum” he just left behind.

A rare shot of Bret in WCW not in misery (I think).

Hart says he looks forward to great matches and satisfying the fans. He says he would love to wrestle The Giant (who he never did wrestle), Lex Luger (who he had already wrestled and co-won the Royal Rumble with in 1994), Chris Benoit (who he would have a couple great matches with) and Sting (who he would have a few lame and one really good match with). Bret say he’s been looking for Hogan, and that it’s time for him to step into the ring with “the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be.”

As Bret exits back to the locker room, the camera starts to focus on The Flock hanging around in the crowd. Raven is shown among them with a mic and starts bragging about Saturn’s defeat of Chris Benoit at Starrcade. Raven brings up The Flock’s repeated attacks on Benoit, and says they will continue to beat him as long as he wants punishment.

Match #2: Van Hammer vs Chris Benoit

The rematch from last week that literally NO ONE asked for. Hammer jumps over the guard rail and saunters in the ring following Raven’s promo. The Crippler is out next with his mullet. A fan in the crowd holds up a sign that says, “FEAR BENOIT.” Yikes.

Hammer is hammering away at Benoit! *ba dum tss*

Benoit DIVES over the barricade onto The Flock at ringside. Of course, they outnumber him and throw him back over, where Hammer awaits. Hammer throws Benoit back into the ring and stomps the Wolverine a few times, followed by a choke hold. Van Hammer gives Benoit a superplex for a two count. Hammer tosses him into the corner and goes for a front dropkick, but Benoit gets the hell out of dodge leaving Hammer to land crumbled up awkwardly in the corner. Benoit then immediately puts Hammer in the crossface as The Flock rush in to break it up and cause the DQ.

NEVER FEAR AS STEVE “MONGO” MCMICHAEL MAKES THE SAVE AND CLEARS HOUSE. Two of the Four Horsemen destroy pretty much the entire Flock as the crowd goes nuts. Good stuff.

Steve “Mongo” McMichael is an all-time great. Don’t @ me.

Gene Okerlund is back standing at the entrance way and welcomes “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair out for an interview. Flair’s hair at this point vaguely resembles mine, and this pleases me. Flair congratulates Sting, which is bizarre for any WCW fan. Ric tells Bret that he has to walk a tight line here in WCW and mentions the Bret has disparaged Flair in the past. Flair then pulls a copy of The Baltimore Sun out of his jacket pocket, as BOTH he and Okerlund put on a pair of reading glasses. State of these old feckers!

Apparently, Bret had written an article for The Sun where Bret cites the editor of THE WRESTLING OBSERVER NEWSLETTER, DAVE FUCKING MELTZER, who states that the greatest in the history of the sport is RIC FLAIR, not Bret Hart. So, that Flair/Hart feud from early ’98 that everyone loves was caused by Papa Dave all along. Who knew?

“DAVE MELTZER”!!

Match #3: WCW World Cruiserweight Championship – Eddie Guerrero (c) vs Ultimo Dragon

As Dragon makes his entrance, Latino Heat jumps him from behind and waffles him with the Cruiserweight championship. Eddie tosses him into the ring steps and then into the ring itself. Guerrero nails a great powerbomb, followed by a wicked vertical suplex. Eddie goes for a superplex, but Dragon fights out and attempts his reverse-rana finisher before Eddie counters with a rolling DDT.

Guerrero goes for another powerbomb, but Dragon floats behind and puts Eddie in the Dragon-sleeper! Eddie taps out and we have a NEW Cruiserweight champion! Eddie then pops up and throws Dragon out of the ring, which effectively kills the moment but hey, what are you gonna do?

HAPPY DRAGON

Back from commercial, Hogan and Bischoff come out to their normal shtick, but both look pretty pissed. It’s horrible because they should probably be in a deep depression at the moment. Bischoff calls Hogan “the heavyweight champion of the world.” Hogan goes through his usual rhetoric before talking about the match at Starrcade. He mentions that Nick Patrick was the ONLY referee assigned for his match with Sting, meaning Bret Hart had no jurisdiction. He also mentions the NICK PATRICK COUNTED 1-2-3, CALLED FOR THE BELL AND DECLARED HOGAN THE WINNER. WHICH WAS TRUE. NICK PATRICK, ERIC BISCHOFF AND HOLLYWOOD HOGAN ARE ALL IN THE RIGHT HERE. STING AND BRET HART ARE ASSHOLES.

The only thing that makes a Hogan and Bischoff promo worse… IS THAT THEY ARE RIGHT!!!

Eric then mocks the production team, as they showed the wrong pictures on screen. This of course is the production team that, ya know, HE HIRED AND EMPLOYS.

GOD, THIS COMPANY.

Hogan mentions that the count wasn’t shown (thank God it wasn’t). The two demand J.J. Dillon to fix this situation, and the segment ends.

Bobby Heenan comes to the broadcast set, as Schiavone and Tenay shun him for aligning with the nWo the week prior. The Brain saves face by claiming his actions were to help WCW. Schiavone tries to act angry at Heenan, but Bobby cracks him up. The chemistry between Heenan and Schiavone is unreal. I love these two.

I love this team, so, so much.

Match #4: WCW United States Heavyweight Championship – Diamond Dallas Page (c) w/ Kimberly vs Mortis w/ James Vandenburg

You know what’s fun? This is essentially DDP vs Kanyon. THE JERSEY TRIAD EXPLODES.

Vandenberg causes a distraction early on that allows Mortis to get the upper hand. The commentators are bickering the whole time, which does detract from this.

HE NEVER SAW IT COMIN’

I won’t do a move-for-move recap, as it’s a Kanyon match, so it’s impossible. I loved Kanyon, but his matches were just a spectacle of weird moves that no one had seen before and are very tough to write-out. Mortis attempts to take Page to the top rope, but DDP reverses it into a Diamond Cutter for the win.

GENE OKERLUND IS BACK AGAIN. He brings out J.J. Dillon, who addresses the controversy from the night before. Dillon says the decision will STAND and Sting is still the WCW champion. J.J. says after talking to Sting, he is willing to defend the WCW title tonight in Baltimore against Hollywood Hogan. 24 HOURS AFTER THEIR PPV MATCH. THE REMATCH. FOR FREE.

AHHHH.

I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure this is the first week where the WCW title was defended on Nitro and the WWF title was defended on RAW on the same night, as Shawn Michaels took on Owen Hart.

Imagine watching the crap we’ve had on this show so far instead of two of the greatest performers of all time

Match #5: WCW World Television Championship – Disco Inferno (c) vs Booker T

The match starts slow and basic as you’d expect. The two men battle to the outside, where Disco takes control. On the inside, the two men trade holds and pinfalls for what feels like a millennium. These two are having a house show match if I’ve ever seen one. And don’t get mad at me for not caring about this; it took EIGHT MINUTES for the commentators to even acknowledge the in-ring action here.

Sidebar; Booker T is one of the few to make the hideous WCW TV Title look good.

Booker hits a sidewalk slam followed by the Harlem Hangover for the win and becomes the NEW TV Champion. Stevie Ray comes in the ring to celebrate Booker’s win. This was the beginning of Booker’s singles career, which eventually led to him becoming a FIVE TIME, FIVE TIME, FIVE TIME, FIVE TIME, FIVE TIME…WCW CHAMPION. NOW CAN YOU DIG THAT!? SUCKAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sorry.

Match #6: Curt Hennig w/ Rick Rude vs Chris Jericho

On paper, this sounds great. In execution, though…

If Curt Hennig from five years earlier and Chris Jericho from five years later had a match, THAT would be a classic.

No Mustache Rick Rude Variant is a travesty.

Hennig out first with a clean shaven Rick Rude, who looks 10% less like Mike Haggar from Final Fight. Jericho out next with his WWF theme dubbed over his WCW theme, which was a knockoff of Pearl Jam’s “Even Flow”.

Jericho clotheslines Hennig out of the ring, as Hennig consults with Rude on the the outside. Perfect stalls for a while, before getting in the ring and MURDERING Jericho.

Y2J battles back and goes for the Lionsault. Jericho slips and Hennig puts his knees up, which pretty much saves Chris Jericho’s life. Had Hennig not gotten his knees up, Jericho would have landed on his forehead, and most likely been seriously injured, similar to Hayabusa.

Hennig hits the Perfect-Plex and wins.

After the match, Jericho shoves David Penzer, grabs a chair and beings hitting the ring post with it. This, of course, was the beginning of Jericho’s legendary heel run in WCW. Strap in.

100% boring, all-smiles, ultra-babyface Jericho is coming to an end.

Scott Hall comes out for an interview that bored me to tears. He runs though his survey routine and leaves. Thank you for wasting my life.

BUFF DADDY

Match #7: Buff Bagwell w/ Scott Norton vs Lex Luger

I’m in no fucking mood for this tomfoolery.

The Bagwell vs Luger match from Starrcade is the most boring match I have ever seen at a WrestleMania, Starrcade, TripleMania or WrestleKingdom level show, all time, all my life.

So here, twenty-four hours later, these numbskulls thought another run-though of that bout was a good idea.

I’ll be blunt here. This shit was BORING. Shocking, I know. And for SOME reason, this is the match the commentators decide to get invested in. Scott Norton interferes like thirty times on the outside and is never caught. Buff misses with the blockbuster and Luger mounts a comeback. Luger calls for the rack, locks it in and picks up the win. So, Luger has gotten his win back from Starrcade. Yay.

For the second night in a row, TOTALLY BUFF EXPLODES

Main Event: WCW World Heavyweight Championship – Sting (c) vs Hollywood Hogan w/ Eric Bischoff

Michael Buffer is out to do ring introductions, which I believe is his Nitro debut. They’re preposterous, but I do love them.

Hogan walks out first and rips his shirt on the ramp indicating that we’re short on time here, boys. Sting is out next as his Crow music makes its Nitro debut. I fucking love that song.

Stinger charges to the ring before Buffer can finish his introductions. The two men brawl immediately and, once again, Hogan beats the shit out of Sting. The same as the night before.

IDIOTS.

Hey, at least this was better than their Starrcade match.

They brawl to the outside briefly, as Hogan just continues to stomp and punch Sting before SUDDENLY, Stinger fires up and tells Hogan to go screw!

Sting then proceeds to murder Hogan, so all is forgiven. Well, not really.

More brawling on the outside between the two, a massive atomic drop back inside the ring takes down Hogan. An eye rake to Sting gives Hogan a breather before chops and a big lariat in the corner gets Hogan a two count. Hogan nails the big boot for another two count as the crowd erupts for the possible finish. Sting ducks a clothesline, gives Hulk a shoulder block, then headbutts Hogan square in the dick. Very similar to Bubba The Love Sponge’s wife.

THANK YOU, I’LL BE HERE ALL WEEK.

Hogan bodyslams Sting and goes for the legdrop BUT STING MOVES OUT OF THE WAY. Huge Stinger Splash in the corner on Hogan, followed by another, which… crushes the referee!?

Turner copyright shows up on the screen and immediately, Nitro goes off the air.

Wait… what!??!?

The show didn’t end. It just kinda… stopped.

STINGER SPLAS–SORRY FOLKS! WE’RE OUT OF TIME!! WE GOTTA GO!!!

Are you fucking kidding me?

I seriously am dumbfounded. How on GOD’S GREEN EARTH, can you be so bad at putting a wrestling show together? And yes, I know, this was done so people would tune in to the debut of Thunder on Thursday. But considering you’re in the middle of a wrestling war, maybe giving your viewers the impression that you don’t know how to produce your fucking show isn’t such a good idea.

“Hey, Eric! Joey is mad at you again!”

On this same night, viewers saw the conclusion of Owen Hart vs Shawn Michaels, which was a better match to begin with, and were satisfied with the fact that the WWF seemingly had their shit together. Meanwhile, these morons in Atlanta had two shitty endings to two shitty shows two shitty nights in a row.

Watching every episode of Raw and Nitro between 1995 and 1999 has made me realize one thing; there were no winners in the Monday Night War.

Only survivors.

It was a different time indeed….

 

4 COMMENTS

  1. Starrcade 97 ruined WCW imo. Everything bad that happened after was just a nail in the coffin. In case amybody missed it, Nick Patrick recently admitted that he didn’t botch the 3 count. That clusterf*** was planned.

    That Tony Schiavone pic with his hand on his forehead looks just like the popular Star Trek: The Next Generation meme.

  2. Wow, that Jericho move would’ve put a damper on Jericho and his career for sure… Luckily Henning spotted the failure in time to save his ass, or neck as the case may be…

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