First of all, he looks weird there because he’s snarting.
Previously on the vintage Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro: Rowdy Roddy Piper decided that the best way to announce his retirement was to bring his child to the ring during the main event of Nitro, two hours after Hollywood Hogan stood in the same spot and said, “if Piper is here, I’m going to fight him.” Not his best plan. Also on the show, Glacier got sassy, I got too into explaining the history of Los Villanos, and Ice Train almost paralyzed La Parka.
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And now, the vintage Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro for February 10, 1997.
Best/Worst: Dean Malenko Vs. Eddie Guerrero Vs. Our Patience
This week, we open the show with a perfect microcosm of WCW Monday Nitro: Dean Malenko wrestling Eddie Guerrero for like four minutes until the nWo runs in and ruins it. Nitro!
So yeah, if you’ve been following along the past few … uh, months, you know that Syxx’s only contribution to the show so far has been “dick-pointing in the background of nWo interview segments” and “trying to steal other people’s championship belts.” He stole Eddie Guerrero’s United States Championship at Starrcade, and Eddie had to fight to get it back at Souled Out. The next night, Syxx randomly stole Dean Malenko’s Cruiserweight Championship. Then he shows up and tries to steal Eddie’s United States Championship AGAIN, which would make it the third instance of the nWo stealing the U.S. title in four months. Remember when Macho Man crushed Ricky Steamboat’s throat with the ring bell? Wouldn’t it have been great if instead of doing that once and having it matter, they’d done it three f*cking times in a row?
Here’s Syxx going ass-up on this thieving attempt:
Guerrero stops wrestling Malenko mid-Guerrero/Malenko sequence to roll out of the ring and stop Syxx, which gets him counted out. The referee can’t use a little judgment here and let it slide because of obvious unrelated-to-either-guy nWo interference, and just burns through the 10-count. Super disappointing. It gets even worse at SuperBrawl, where Eddie accidentally costs Malenko (and WCW) the cruiserweight title because WCW babyfaces are dumber than a pile of bricks in Jim Duggan’s backyard.
A supplemental Worst to the homie Larry Zbyszko for his Peggy Hill-quality analysis of Dean Malenko. “In my mind, the best cruiserweight in the world, right there!” Tony’s like, “yes, he is the best cruiserweight because he is the Cruiserweight Champion.” IN MY OPINION STEVE MCMICHAEL IS THE BEST FORMER CHICAGO BEARS PLAYER IN THE FOUR HORSEMEN.
Worst: Konnan Vs. Bobby Eaton
You might never see a worse clash of styles, or a worse 60 seconds of wrestling on Nitro.
Poor Alabama grandma Bobby Eaton and his great-ass punches are like 75 years old here, and he’s asked to have a competitive match against Konnan, an occasionally ultraviolent tumbler who only seems to work hard when there’s a luchador to cripple. This match is entirely Irish whips into the corner, with Bobby trying to throw punches and Konnan just sloppily stepping all over him, rolling forward for no reason and clobbering him in the back of the head. They kept putting Beautiful Bob into these matches with lucha libre guys and he has no idea what to do. He sells everything by kinda turning sideways and flat bumping, even when he’s supposed to be going in the opposite direction. He’s just like, “nope, selling this like a Robert Gibson dropkick, f*ck an El Santo.”
The match ends when Konnan tries the Jimmy Snuka double leapfrog, he gets about three inches of air on the second jump and Bobby hesitates because he assumes the slow-hopping aggro turtle man in the JNCOs has stopped moving entirely. Konnan finishes him off with the Calo Driver ’97.
Best?: As The Bat Turns
Only reasonable human on the show Diamond Dallas Page shows up in his street clothes with a chair, sits down in the middle of the ring and announces that he’s tired of running. On last week’s show, his match ended with the Outsiders showing up with lead pipes and being headed off at the pass by Sting and Macho Man Randy Savage standing in the crowd with their brows furrowed. Page has no idea what’s going on but he knows it’s headed for a resolution, so he proposes any interested parties come to the ring now and throw hands so they can get it over with.
Savage and Sting show up, and the Threat Pantomiming can begin. Savage taps Page’s chair with a baseball bat and then kicks the chair away. They back him into a corner with some bat-shoves, and Sting raises the bat up like he’s gonna crush Page’s skull with it. Page covers up, and that leads to the standard Sting loyalty questionnaire where he hands someone a bat, turns his back on them and waits to see what happens. Page obviously doesn’t hit them, so they take the bat back and threateningly bail.
You know what would’ve been great? Sting silently building this super team of babyfaces to fight the nWo, getting into a War Games match against them and just brutally dismantling them forever. Sting, Savage, Page, Giant and Luger. Luger can be on the team to redeem himself for not trusting Sting and starting this whole mess in the first place. They destroy everyone but Hogan, and then you build to Starrcade as Hogan vs. Sting, one-on-one for the championship, with Sting’s posse eliminating any threat of Hogan being able to run interference. Sting murders Hogan, WCW is back on top for good, and you move forward with stories other than “…also nWo?” for the next however many years before you go out of business.
Instead, enjoy the next 11 months of silent bat pointing and no wrestling.
Worst: Casting Aspersions
Lex Luger has a broken bone in his hand, but like an Untouchable trying to become a Shudra, he’s CASTING UP. Mamma mia!
Luger shows up in a cast to have his big-time, main-event-in-any-arena-in-the-country rematch with RON POWERS, but Eric Bischoff cuts him off and tells him he isn’t medically cleared to compete. If he can’t get cleared to compete tonight, he can’t be cleared for SuperBrawl, either. Eric Bischoff cares deeply for the well-being of his employees. Join us later in the show when he berates children to their faces about how much he hates their father.
That leads to Giant showing up and taking Luger’s spot in the match, which is frankly bullsh*t from Ron Powers’ point of view. He was scheduled against Luger and Luger can’t compete, but he showed up in his gear and tried to wrestle, so that’s a forfeit, right? JUSTICE FOR RON POWERS. Anyway, Ron Powers loses in like four seconds.
After the match, Giant gives an interview about how he and Luger are now tag team partners and FOREVER BROS, and how even if he has to face the Outsiders by himself at SuperBrawl, he’ll win the tag titles and give one of them to Lex. Giant, former nWo member, still doesn’t know how the nWo works. If you win the tag titles, you’re gonna hand both of them to Hall and Nash the next night on Nitro. He also brings back Hulk Hogan’s weird tendency of calling him a, “real, live, fire-breathing giant.” When have giants ever breathed fire? Does Hulk Hogan think dragons and giants are the same thing? Hogan strikes me as the kind of guy who’d pick up a book of fairy tales, flip through it to see if there were any mentions of Hulk Hogan in it, then throw it away.
Best: Bye Voltage
And now, one of my favorite Nitro moments: any time the Steiner Brothers get to wrestle High Voltage. It’s like the tag team version of Konnan vs. Super Calo. We’re always two seconds and a wrong swivel of the hips away from actual human death in the ring.
We don’t get a Steiner Screwdriver this time around, but we DO get a gruesome Doomsday Bulldog. We also get some of our favorite recurring Steiner Brothers spots, such as, “Rick Steiner says f*ck your leapfrog and throws you at the ground,” “Scott Steiner stops you doing whatever you were trying to do and mindlessly suplexes you onto your skull,” and “you tried a springboard but the Steiners don’t know how that works so they’re just gonna drop you.” The crowd goes ape for ALL of it. I can’t help but think of how well High Voltage would’ve done in 2006 WWE (or modern TNA) as a pair of hairless, ripped twinks in electricity onesies who don’t mind getting their sh*t scrambled.
Harlem Heat, The Faces of Fear and Public Enemy wander out to watch the match because they’ve never seen one end clean.
Ironic Best: Pee-wee’s Big Holiday
If you were watching Nitro in 1997, you remember this segment.
The nWo takes over the broadcast booth because (1) Larry Zbyszko is a putz, and (2) there’s a special guest at the arena tonight who’s requested time to speak to Eric Bischoff. It turns out that guest is recently fired referee Randy Anderson, who has brought a family from a political ad aimed at Christian grandmas to help him beg for his job back. That’s his wife, Kristy, and their children, Chase and Montana. Congratulations on being born in the 90s, “Chase” and “Montana.” Chase is definitely aware that the human head weighs eight pounds.
Bischoff asks their names, and hits one of the most ice cold punchlines ever:
Montana is all, “please Mr. Bischoff,” and you can barely hear her over the sound of Kevin Nash making Tiny Tim jokes. “God bless us, everyone!” Randy doesn’t seem to have much of a pitch platform beyond, “life is precious, and God, and the Bible,” so Bischoff gets down to brass tacks: if Randy wants his job back so badly, he can show up to Nitro next week and WRESTLE NICK PATRICK FOR IT. Randy’s wife points out that that’s a terrible idea, because he’s in cancer remission — and because maybe she’s watched Nitro before, and knows beating the nWo just results in the decision being reversed and everyone ignoring it — but he accepts anyway.
If I’m booking this, it’s gotta be Randy, Chase and Montana in a Trios match against Nick Patrick, Vincent and 13-year old Garrett Bischoff. End it with Chase and Montana hitting More Bang For Your Buck on Vincent. Man, I don’t know, I don’t know how to book “man dying of cancer begs for his job back and his children are crying and you’re still cheering the nWo because they’re cool and Randy’s kind of a dork,” I don’t know how the ’90s work.
Worst: Extreme Exposé
That leads directly into a Tag Team Championship match, with Bischoff putting over the Outsiders’ opponents as the “eastern seaboard champions” and “one of the toughest teams on the continent.” Turns out that team is The Extreme, whom you may remember from their match against the Outsiders two weeks ago. What, was that one not an Eastern Seaboard Championship match?
The worst part is the finish, where Hall chokeslams one of the Extreme (Gary Cherone, I guess) and Nash “Torture Racks” the other (Nuno Bettencourt). I put Torture Rack in quotes, because, well, look at it:
Poor Devon Storm, forced to tap out to a fireman’s carry. Jesus, don’t show John Cena this match, he’ll never lose again.
Yes, that’s a picture of Lord Steven Regal picking a fight with a guy in a foam Macho Man hat in the crowd.
Regal defends the TV title against Rey Mysterio Jr., and God, if there’s a match I want to see redone at a pay-per-view and given 15 minutes, it’s this. It’s the perfect combination of Regal absolutely f*cking up Mysterio’s Christmas with strikes and submissions, and selling all of Mysterio’s offense like a wealthy dowager tripping over herself at the end of a pie fight. Seriously, Regal will get hit with a headscissors and come up in the corner with his dukes up, flopping around and falling down with a look on his face like 30 people just farted in unison.
Worst: The Finish
It’s outstanding, but unfortunately suffers the curse of the Middle of Nitro Bad Finish. TV title matches generally have a 10-minute time limit, and one of the easiest ways to make a crowd want to see a face take a belt off a heel is to have the heel repeatedly retain via time limit draw. He stays champion but never wins, but also never actually LOSES, so he saves face will looking like he can’t get the job done. That’s great, but WCW was real iffy with the timekeeping. Let me see if I can even explain this.
Mysterio catches Regal with a victory roll and gets two, but Regal kicks out. The bell rings once. If it wasn’t obvious enough already, they totally give away that the finish is, “Mysterio’s about to win, but time runs out and Regal is saved.” Tony says it was so close he “almost heard a bell,” which is some Warrior in the mirror sh*t. The next move is Rey catching Regal with a sunset flip. The referee counts one, and the timekeeper is like RING RING RING RING RING RING. Surprise! The time has run out, and Regal has retained. The punchline: this happens at the 6-minute mark.
♫ WCW is great ♫
Best: Baseball History
On the 1-800-COLLECT road report, this still photo of Lee Marshall says Tampa Bay named their new Major League Baseball team the “Devil Rays” because “Tampa Bay Weasels” was already claimed. Just once I want a 1-800-COLLECT call to end with Bobby Heenan saying “f*ck you, Lee.”
Best: MAVERICK WILD
Up next, The Taskmaster takes on this Kris Kristofferson-looking motherf*cker with the exceptional wrestling name MAVERICK WILD. I guess GOOSE FERAL wasn’t hard enough. How could Maverick see Taskmaster while he was in the Tree of Woe? Because he was inverted.
The selling point of the match is that Maverick is willing to let Jacqueline beat him up at ringside, which stuns and delights the announce team. Tony Schiavone has apparently never seen a woman throw a clothesline before, and he reacts to it like he just stumbled upon a Double Rainbow. Jump to the 1:45 mark:
“HOLY COW … WE’VE GOTTA SEE THAT LARIAT FROM JACQUELINE AGAIN! THAT WAS AMAZING! THAT WAS INCREDIBLE!” “OH MY GOD, OH MY GOD, OH, SOMEONE GO RAISE HER HAND RIGHT NOW! THE LADIES CHAMPION AKIRA HOKUTA SHOULD BE WATCHING THIS! THIS GIVES A WHOLE NEW MEANING TO VALET OR RING ATTENDANT DOESN’T IT!”
… Tony, she held out her arm and ran at a dude. She didn’t hit the Van Terminator.
Worst: It’s A Shoot, Brother
After the match, Sullivan gets interviewed about the upcoming strap match with Chris Benoit at SuperBrawl and launches into a bizarre, 5-minute extreme close-up worked shoot I’m not even sure I can explain. The camera gets right up in his face and he tells producers not to cut him off, because he has to tell us about how “Paul E.” called him and told him to do his job. Like, WE know he was booking the show, but aside from Brian Pillman calling him “booker man” that one time it hasn’t been public fact. Especially not in 1997. He goes on and on (and on) about how King Curtis and all his former tag team partners would tell him to do his job, and how when Nancy “stood on the steps of the lighthouse and said I do,” she knew it wasn’t a bed of roses. Basically this promo is a season of LOST, and you’ve gotta go to WCW.com or whatever and f*ck with the URL to decipher the clues.
The worst part is when he decides to explain the difference between Nancy and himself and Jacqueline, which is that Nancy comes from a community, but he and Jacqueline come from a neighborhood. YOU’RE FROM A STREET AND WE’RE FROM A BOULEVARD, NANCY. He can “go back to 2nd and Ridgewood and get anything he wants at any time,” which is TOTALLY relatable to literally anyone else watching. Sullivan explains that she’s never pulled out anybody’s eyeball or bitten off anybody’s nose (a la the Penguin from Batman Returns, who is clearly the most Sullivan-esque member of Batman’s Dungeon of Doom), so she’s not as tough as she acts. Jimmy Hart tries to interrupt him and calls him the Taskmaster, so he’s like, “it’s Kevin right now.” Because PEW PEW, WE’RE SHOOTIN’.
Jacqueline gets on the microphone and says that the difference between Nancy and herself and Kevin is that Nancy comes from a community, and they come from a neighborhood. Where have I heard that before? She’s with Kevin Sullivan because he’s the only person in her neighborhood she thought could beat her up. In the background Jimmy Hart’s like, “ugh, can we go home, I want to airbrush 30 Hugh Morrus jackets tonight.”
Fun note: A week after Sullivan claims Paul E. called him on Nitro, Paul E. actually calls in to Raw.
Worst: One Of The Great High-Flyers
Hugh Morrus vs. Alex Wright is as nothing and terrible as you’d imagine, but I wanted to share that screengrab. If you can’t tell what’s going on, that’s Tony Schiavone calling Wright “one of the great high-flyers” just as Wright is slipping on the top rope and f*cking up the finish. To his credit, YOU try jumping to the top rope and balancing with that monster hog between your legs.
Worst: And Now, The Terrible Horseman Portion Of The Show
This week’s main event is Chris Benoit and Steve ‘Mongo’ McMichael against Mongo’s bull Jeff Jarrett and Chavo Guerrero Jr. Jarrett spends most of the match getting sh*t-kicked by the Horsemen until making history’s least effective hot tag to Chavo, who pops in and beats up Benoit AND Mongo despite being the size of Mongo’s leg and hitting with the brutal force of 0.5 Deans Ambrose.
While this is going on, Jarrett tumbles to the outside and gets accosted by Debra McMichael. Debra keeps “checking on him” to make sure he’s okay, and it’s so egregious that even Mike Tenay starts ragging on her:
“She’s inspecting his suspenders” is such a great deadpan call, and it cracks up Tony. Everybody knows this angle and Jarrett’s suspenders are total bullsh*t, and Tenay’s the first one to passive-aggressively admit it on TV. Tony: “Thank you, Mike. Heh heh. Thank you for that, Mike Tenay, I wasn’t sure!”
Chavo gets the living Christ tombstoned out of him by Mongo, Heenan calls him “La Bamba” because WCW loved slurring the Guerreros for no reason, and the Horsemen spend 10 post-match minutes standing shoulder-to-shoulder in the ring, saying nothing.
Worst: Sorry, This Is The Actual Main Event
Remember the “Piper brings a child to the ring” segment from last week? This week we see that again in its entirety, followed by Piper in the ring tussling his own hair for a quarter-hour and screaming at a video of Hulk Hogan. He says Hogan challenging him, running from him and trying to change reality in real-time is making him “go to a place” Hogan isn’t going to like. Spoiler: that place is AN ABANDONED JAIL, followed by OLD MAN FIGHTING. More on that next week, though, because all you get this week is erratic shouting at a video screen.
Next Week: Nitro becomes MONDAY NITRO MONDAY and responds to the creative success of a Thursday Raw by losing their goddamn minds.