Previously on the Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro: Sting installed a zip-line with a secondary bungee cord attachment in a random arena just in case he had to swoop out and stop the nWo between the stage and the ring. Luckily for him, it came in handy. Meanwhile, Hulk Hogan hooked up with Dennis Rodman’s sister and called her his “sister,” because Hulk Hogan and the guy from Train are the only white dudes who refer to black women as “sisters.”
Click here to watch this week’s episode on WWE Network. You can catch up with all the previous episodes on the Best and Worst of Nitro tag page.
Programming note: The Best and Worst of WWF Raw is War schedule got a little thrown off thanks to WWE now having 200 pay-per-views a year (and also my holiday time off for the Mondays after Christmas and New Year’s Day
Remember, if you want us to keep writing 20-year-old WCW jokes, click the share buttons and spread the column around. Things have officially gone crazy in 1990s professional wrestling, and we want to write about it at least until Prince Iaukea becomes the singer Prince in the most 1999 pro wrestling joke ever.
And now, the Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro for April 14, 1997.
Worst: Someone Check The Sweetness Level Of The New World Order
To catch you up, the two-weeks-ago Nitro and Spring Stampede ’97 were built around Kevin Nash’s growing frustrations with Hollywood Hogan being a little too “Hollywood” and not enough “Hogan” and attending movie premieres instead of doing wrestling heel gang stuff. Last week’s show was an hour-long in-ring therapy session with Hogan threatening to “do the thing right now” but ultimately agreeing to do heel wrestling gang stuff and be a Good Brother.
This week, Hogan is nowhere to be found, and Kevin Nash is opening the show with the same B-team dudes that always follow him around. Lex Luger wants the title shot he earned by defeating Booker T, Stevie Ray and at least one notable N-bomb at Spring Stampede, and he wants it tonight. Nash says Luger will have to get through him first if he wants to get to Hogan, because the nWo is 4 Life® and just Too Sweet®. Presumably Hogan is somewhere angling for a cameo appearance on SPECIAL OPS FORCE.
you don’t say
Best: Chris Benoit And The Barbarian Decide To Hurt Each Other As Much As Possible For Two Minutes
This week’s episode starts with Tony Schiavone announcing that Chris Benoit will face “a member of the Dungeon of Doom,” which would sorta be like Michael Cole opening Raw like, “tonight Sami Zayn goes one-on-one with a member of the Social Outcasts!” Couldn’t they just say “Chris Benoit and the Barbarian have agreed to hit each other for real as hard as possible for a few minutes?”
This is GREAT, though, because of course it is. It might be one of the best two-minute matches ever, non-WWE pay-per-view main event division. A motivated Barbarian is secretly one of the dopest wrestlers in history, and he never gets as much smark street cred as Meng, probably because he’s attached to fewer “ripped out a dude’s eyeball and smooshed it” urban legends. But yeah, Barbarian’s goal here is to remove Benoit’s face from his head using only the bottom of his foot, and also to belly-to-belly suplex him off the top rope so hard and so far Benoit’s feet hit the damn opposite corner. It’s MASSIVE.
My only complaint is that this is so unbelievably short, but on the plus side it briefly convinces WCW that they could keep Benoit vs. the Dungeon of Doom going for a while without doing Benoit vs. Sullivan on loop forever, and sets in motion Benoit’s summer feud with The Monster Meng and a death match that I’ve always loved.
After the match, the Dungeon jumps Benoit, and Sullivan (Sullivan!) and Miss Texas put Benoit in the Tree of Woe and put the side of their thighs to him. Eventually two of the five Horsemen, Mongo and Dongo, show up to run them off. Ric Flair is nowhere to be found despite his previous single-handed obliterations of the Dungon because he’s chilling in the back with a coked-out, sexually enraged Rowdy Roddy Piper and the Billy Batson-esque child piloting the enthusiastic meat corpse that is Mean Kevin Greene.
More on Mongo and Jeff Jarrett later, because that feud never ends. If you go to Jarrett’s house in 2017 you’ll find Debra in there trying to hit Johnny Grunge’s deactivated Myspace with a Haliburton.
Best: Hector And Riff-Raff
Speaking of “good, short matches” and “Dungeon of Doom angles that go nowhere,” up next is Dean Malenko vs. Hector Guerrero, aka what happened when Eddie Guerrero faked his own death and traveled back in time as an older man to relive the Attitude Era. I have at least three science fiction scenarios in which Eddie Guerrero is still alive somehow, shut up.
But yeah, Hector had all of Eddie’s wrestling ability without any of Eddie’s ability to connect with crowds, so the match is good, but people mostly just want to see Malenko flip a bitch and tie their legs up. It’s crazy looking back at how absolutely nondescript and milquetoast Dean Malenko was as a personality, and how easily that translated into arenas of tens of thousands of hillbilly wrestling fans going APESHIT at him tying a dude up. It wasn’t always there, but it was there a lot. You’d get those Road Wild situations where the crowd wasn’t into it, but on the right night that guy could pop a crowd with a fundamentally-sound leg grab like he was Bruno at MSG.
The story here is that Malenko is mad at Eddie for being in the wrong place at the wrong time and having the Dungeon of Doom abduct the United States Championship on his behalf (?), so he’s going to torture Eddie’s brother and wag a finger at him when he comes down to help. It doesn’t make a lot of sense. If Eddie got the belt thrust upon him at Spring Stampede and got walked to the back by the lingering rat poop of the Alliance to End Hulkamania, wouldn’t he just like, hand the belt to a referee or something and say “give this back to Dean Malenko?” Did The Master take it back to Snake Mountain or wherever and put it in a trust fund?
Best: Juventud Ain’t Care
The final very-good and very-short match of hour one is Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. Juventud Guerrera, which is enjoyable and dangerous as hell despite ranking somewhere in the high 80s of Best Mysterio/Guerrera matches. It’s a little loosey-goosey at times, but they’ve got a weirdly violent sense of urgency. Note Rey helicopter-headscissoring Juvy over the top rope, Juvy hitting Rey with a goddamn sunset flip powerbomb to the floor, and that West Coast Pop that goes so smoothly it almost goes all the way around and turns into a World Liner.
It’s like everyone got together backstage before the show and were told, “you’ve got two minutes, get all your shit in, we’ve set aside 25 minutes for Piper to explain who is gay and why he hates them.”
Worst: Even The Women In The Women’s Division Don’t Know What’s Happening In The Women’s Division
After the match, Luna Vachon shows up and tells Mean Gene about how she’s the number one contender to the WCW Women’s Championship, and how she’s going to be the woman to take the belt off Madusa’s waist. The uh, only problem is that Madusa isn’t the champion. Akira Hokuto is. Derp.
Mean Gene opens the promo by joking that he met Luna at a swinger’s club, spends the entire thing staring at her tits, and ends it by trying to hook up with her after the show. Women’s wrestling, clap clap clap-clap-clap.
Best: RIP Lenny Lane’s Face
Here’s a picture of Ultimo Dragon dropkicking Lenny Lane in the fucking mouth.
This is Lenny’s second appearance on Nitro, following that wonderful moment a few weeks ago when he tried to throw hands at Lord Steven Regal and got his testicles kicked into his brain. Competing as “Lane Carlson,” born from the same pretend 1997 NXT name generator as “Lance Ringo,” he takes on new Television Champion Ultimo Dragon. You can imagine how that goes.
Lenny’s actually pretty impressive here, bumping like a crazy person and hitting (I shit you not) a Cactus Jack clothesline over the top rope and a Whisper in the Wind from the top to the floor. But at some point in the middle of the match he sets up for Ultimo Dragon’s “backdrop me onto my feet” spot too early and pisses Dragon off, and the result is two toe-kicks to the center of the spine and that dropkick. Ultimo Dragon was SALTY, y’all.
Note: Lenny Lane’s real name is “Lenny Carlson,” which is somehow not a Simpsons reference.
Worst: An Actual Syxx Match On Nitro
Has that ever happened before? The guy won the Cruiserweight Championship at SuperBrawl two months before this, but his only job on Nitro has been to be a small, omnipresent living mirror for Kevin Nash.
But yeah, if you saw a Television Championship match and were like, “I hope Prince Iaukea stays the hell away from this,” don’t worry, here he is messing up a shot at the Cruiserweight Championship. Near the end of the match he goes for a sunset flip off the top rope and somehow manages to hook Syxx’s arms, and takes him over into a pin on his own legs. If you’re like me, you’re wishing Regal would just materialize out of thin air and knee him in the face. Syxx’s response is to put him in a badly-applied crossface chickenwing and win the match. He keeps it on for way too long afterward, but the referee just keeps counting to five instead of reversing the decision because nobody wants to contribute to Prince Iaukea winning more matches.
All right, enough wrestling. Let’s get to what you all came here to see.
Worst: Rowdy Roddy Piper Knows You’re Gay, You GAYS
Man, Piper must’ve been going through some real sexual identity issues in 1997, because his only talking points were, “I’m crazy” and “you’re gay.” It’s like somebody put Alex Jones in old Michael J. Fox’s body.
Piper, Ric Flair and Kevin Greene show up to cut a promo about WCW SLAM JAMBOREE, in which they’ll team up to face undisclosed members of the nWo. I hope it’s just three Barbarians. But yeah, Piper’s angle here is that Eric Bischoff wore a Dennis Rodman shirt, which means he’s gay, and that the nWo wears spandex, so they’re also extremely gay. Also, he’s singing Right Said Fred parody lyrics and doing the Pee-wee Herman ‘Tequila’ dance.
Here’s the entire promo:
Please note that this promo about how gay the nWo is features (1) Ric Flair taking off his clothes while reminiscing about “Dick the Bruiser,” (2) Kevin Greene and Roddy Piper talking about how they have been “chopping tons and tons of wood and laying asphalt” since the nWo was “sucking on mother’s milk,” and (3) Piper repeatedly insisting that spandex makes you gay while wearing a kilt over blue spandex underpants and a leather jacket with no shirt underneath. He says he’s going to back in the closet and see what’s “so afraid” in there.
Man, I miss the glory days of Piper. It seems like just yesterday he was in Alcatraz getting his shirt torn up by nobody and jacking off into a bay from the bow of a sailboat.
Worst Money in the Bank match ever.
Worst: As The Haliburton Turns
So Steve McMichael and Jeff Jarrett have been brought together by the healing powers of a Dungeon of Doom beatdown and get a rematch with the team that beat them last week when they were beefing, Harlem Heat. This week, the terrible finishes of Harlem Heat matches and the somehow even worse Haliburton-flavored finishes of Mongo and Jarrett matches come together in the perfect storm of horrible bullshit and secondhand embarrassment.
Okay, so, the match is supposed to end, I guess, with Sherri Martel hitting Mongo with the Haliburton. Sherri’s been poisoned by two years of Colonel Parker matches and has lost her ability to understand “hold briefcase, hit man in face with briefcase,” and completely farts it up. Behold:
I don’t know if she’s supposed to actually hit Mongo there or if she’s supposed to like, pull the briefcase away from him, lose it in the shuffle and maybe get hit by Debra, but this is what happens. She just kinda brushes it against Mongo’s face and it gets lost in the middle of the ring, so six of the worst improvisers in pro wrestling are forced to come up with a new finish on the fly. IT TURNS OUT SO WELL FOR EVERYONE.
Sherri grabs Debra by the throat and backs her into the corner to explain what’s going on, and eventually gets the briefcase back. The idea is that she’s going to try to hit Debra with it, but Debra’s going to duck, the briefcase is going to bounce off the top turnbuckle and snap back to hit Sherri in the face. Because turnbuckle pads are trampolines, and that spot always works so well.
What actually happens is … God, how can I even explain it? Let me show you.
Sherri swings, Debra ducks, and Sherri hits the top turnbuckle. But instead of it bouncing back, Sherri follows through and shoot bashes Debra in the back of the head with the briefcase. Debra’s not expecting that to happen, so she no-sells it. Sherri still has to get knocked out, though, so the briefcase bounces back OFF DEBRA’S HEAD with the force of a caterpillar crawling on a leaf, Sherri just kinda presses it to the top of her own head and faints. Watch it. Watch it a thousand times. A full force smash to the back of the head does nothing, but trying to wear a Haliburton as a hat is an instant kill. It’s amazing. Probably one of the worst match finishes of all time.
The best part of it all is that the Horsemen have to stay in the ring afterward to cut a promo on FOOTBALL PLAYER REGGIE WHITE.
Throughout the show, they’ve been pointing out that former Philadelphia Eagles player, then-current Green Bay Packers Superbowl Champion and future NFL Hall of Famer Reggie White is in the front row, and that it’s been announced that he’s signed with WCW to wrestle Steve McMichael. Kevin Greene was just out here cutting a promo about how Hulk Hogan betrayed him and the children by turning heel so he’s teaming up with the guy who literally paid someone off to hit Greene in the head with a metal briefcase, and now we’re jumping into FOOTBALL GUY ANGLE #2.
Mongo cuts a deranged, kinda wonderful promo where he continues his bizarre obsession with local football superiority, calls the Philadelphia fans losers and points out that Reggie White won a Superbowl for somebody else after ditching the city for money. Reggie hops the railing and gets into the ring — wearing all white because he’s REGGIE WHITE — and they get nose-to-nose. WCW’s wall of denim security shows up to separate them, Mongo insults Reggie by spitting in his face, and a pull-apart ensues. It’s like they decided to improve upon the Bam Bam Bigelow/Lawrence Taylor confrontation with two guys who were on LT’s squad at WrestleMania. And then WWF improved upon THAT by doing the same angle with characters the crowd and mainstream media actually care about.
Spoiler alert, Reggie White is not as good at wrestling as Kevin Greene. Reg makes Kevin Greene look like a big Mojo Rawley version of Chris Benoit.
We Hate ECW, A Play In Two Acts
Act one is Public Enemy vs. High Voltage in a “Philadelphia street fight.” TPE lost to High Voltage last week to set this up, because the Urban Nasty Boys hitting hairless, electricity-themed muscle-jobbers with trash can lids needed an alley-oop. The entire match is just Public Enemy smacking High Voltage in the top of the head with flimsy lids, and the heat comes 100% from them wearing Philadelphia Flyers jerseys. The crowd chants for the Flyers, and they chant for Robbie Rage going through two tables after like two minutes of awkward spot construction. It’s basically the worst ever version of ECW, and that’s coming from a guy who sat through more than one XPW show, a decade of CZW and several years of WWE defining “extreme” as Mark Henry and Jack Swagger.
Act two is a more direct Fuck You to the Philadelphia crowd, with The Giant defeating Big Al, aka Tombstone, aka former ECW star slash means-to-an-end 911. 911 is the guy who would show up and randomly chokeslam people to punish them for having bad matches. Here, he’s immediately emasculated by the Giant and chokeslammed. Hooray?
Here’s a picture of Kevin Nash vs. Lex Luger.
As you might’ve expected if you’ve ever watched a single episode of the nWo era of Nitro, the match the nWo didn’t want but demanded by specifically catered to them ends with everybody on the team running in for a DQ the second their guy starts doing poorly. The payoff here is WCW “uniting” briefly to run them off. Page runs out to help Luger, Giant walks out to help Page, and Sting finally shows up with a bunch of baseball bats and hands them out to even the odds.
And again, if this was building to a big logical blowoff over the summer, it’d be dope. Instead, because time is linear, we’re still not blowing this off until December, and by then it’s convoluted by the Montreal Screwjob and Hogan’s ego and fart noise and clanging a frying pan on your head noise and Goofy ya-hoo-hoo-whee yell.
Join us next week for a Yuji Nagata appearance, Glacier fighting a cyclops and none of this being resolved!
Oh, and before I forget …
The closed caption guy doesn’t get it, but he’s trying to make an Eldorado joke about weasels. It’s not even a pun. Bobby Heenan says he wants to buy one, put Lee in the trunk and drive him into the Detroit river. Team Bobby for life.