Previously on the vintage Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro: Disgraced former referee Randy Anderson brought out his wife and children to help him beg for his job back, and ended up getting booked in a referee vs. referee match against Nick Patrick. Also MAVERICK WILD showed up, Alex Wright got called a great high-flyer while he was f*cking up flying high and Kevin Nash revealed he has no idea how a Torture Rack works.
Remember, if you want us to keep writing 20-year-old WCW jokes and not abandon the column entirely to write more 180-word stories about whatever Ryback’s doing, click the share buttons and share the column around! It helps more than you know, and keeps us screen-capping that same shot of Lee Marshall’s 1-800-COLLECT Road Report.
And now, the vintage Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro for Feb. 17, 1997.
The Mystery Of Who Attacked Big Bubba
This week’s show opens with the nWo arriving to the arena and doing that celebratory walk only a group of men making way too much money to do nothing can do, but something happens: Big Bubba falls behind and gets taken out from behind by a mystery man. Finally, The Vigilante Scotty Riggs gets revenge for getting hit in the face with a stage light that one time!
Investigative reporter slash “guy who actually watches the show” Mean Gene Okerlund is on the case, though, and goes straight for the only suspect still cutting promos:
Diamond Dallas Page, dressed like a pair of Zubaz pants became a Venom symbiote and tried to bond with Dog the Bounty Hunter, says he just walked in the door and that this is the first he’s hearing about it. Way to try and blow the cover of the only trustworthy WCW guy trying to fight these goons, Scheme Gene.
Page heads to the back, presumably to ask Big Bubba who WWF plans to have raise the briefcase at King of the Ring ’99.
Best: SUPER CALO DANGEROUSSSS
What you’re looking at there is Super Calo almost killing poor Rey Mysterio Jr. They try to do a flip powerbomb to the outside tease, but Calo is Calo, so instead of just jumping over Rey and getting into position, brother does a full-speed dive to the floor. He overshoots Rey but still manages to grab him and pull him off the apron, and thank God Calo doesn’t skip leg day, because if he hadn’t held Rey up with 100 percent quad strength we’d be writing a sad paragraph.
They manage to recover, and the next goddamn move is Calo jumping from the apron to the middle of the top rope and just jumping backwards straight into the floor with a missile dropkick. You’re basically powerbombing yourself onto your arm from like 15 feet up. Pretty soon after, Calo’s doing his signature OH GOD DON’T SLINGSHOT HEADFIRST INTO THE GROUND senton that tricks me into thinking it ends in tragedy despite being 19 years in the future and knowing it never does.
During the match, we jump to the back to see Big Bubber being loaded into an ambulance, with his hetero life-mate M. Wallstreet joining him for the ride-along. Meanwhile, Super Calo is taking guillotine leg drops like this:
(It got a 2-count.)
Here it is in GIF form, if you’d like to start off the column with a nice, “Jesus Christ, Super Calo.” He should ditch the rap group and be the mascot for an assisted-living facility.
Worst: As The Haliburton Turns
God, so much Mongo this week. He hates every city with football except Chicago. And yes, there’s an “everybody in the Horsemen come stand out here and talk for a while” on every single Nitro.
In retrospect, I think Ric Flair getting fired was just to keep these from happening. I don’t think they serve a purpose, unless we’re watching Chris Benoit do real-time NXT game show challenges where they give him a word — “respect,” or “demons,” or just “Sullivan” — and tell him to improv 2 1/2 minutes about it.
This week’s first of two Haliburton-related Mongo segments is a match against Hugh Morrus. I love how they had so many Haliburton attack ideas they had to start putting more than one on each episode. If you remember the masterpiece that was “Goldberg spears Bret Hart,” you know Mongo’s plan here. He’s gonna hold a piece of metal to his chest, and Hugh’s gonna backflip into it.
This knocks Hugh out and gives Mongo the win, but if it’d happened on Raw, it would have been a different story. See, in the WWE Universe, putting something on someone and jumping onto it hurts THEM, not you. You can put a ladder on somebody’s chest and jump onto it, and being squished under the weight of you plus 50 pounds hurts more than throwing your body off a high place onto the top of a jagged-ass ladder resting uneasily on an unsteady surface. It’s why putting a chair on someone and hitting that chair with a chair hurts more than hitting them with the chair, or why putting a trashcan between somebody’s legs and hitting it with a kendo stick hurts their balls.
I think my favorite moment of ring psychology here is that when Mongo’s setting up the ruse, he scoots inward a little to make sure Morrus’ moonsault will send him face-first into the briefcase and not stomach-first. Also, f*ck you my friend, Mongo knows his ring psychology.
The second of two incidents comes later, when Jeff Jarrett is about to beat Chris Jericho with a figure-four. Mongo shows up with the briefcase, and the announce team is all, “WHO’S HE GONNA HIT?” And all I can think is, “I don’t know, guys, maybe the guy he’s wrestling in six days? The guy who spent the past month making his life hell and giving his wife a pageant boner?” Starting to wonder if Debra was actually attracted to Jarrett or if she just wanted to turn him into a toddler in a tiara.
Join us at SuperBrawl VII, when a former football player’s actual trophy wife demands a failed country singer in suspenders join their group of rich but personally unfulfilled complainers, and they fight about it with metal briefcases.
Worst Best: The Liverpool Lads Sh*t The Bed
One of the coolest things about this week’s episode is that it features a cruiserweight match between Dean Malenko and Robbie Brookside, whom you might know as one half of the “Liverpool Lads” and/or as a current NXT coach. He’s the one who looks like Mariel Hemingway dressed up as the Ultimate Warrior for Halloween. Brookside has done and continues to do a lot of really great work in his wrestling career, and this Nitro match with Malenko is absolutely not part of that.
This is honestly one of the worst matches I’ve seen on Nitro, which is really saying something because I’ve watched Jim Duggan wrap his fist in some dick-tape and punch out Mike Rotunda like 65 times. There’s zero chemistry, the crowd hates it, and the most exciting thing either guy does is a snapmare, followed by completely forgetting how to wrestle.
To illustrate, here’s Robbie Brookside executing probably the worst bridging pin in human history:
Stinko Malenko manages to survive the dreaded Cock Headstand and wins with a “Texas Cloverleaf,” which is in quotes in a way it’s never been before. Brookside appears to have no idea what Malenko is doing and keeps his legs rigidly straight, despite this being the finish. So Malenko has to just kinda cross Brookside’s legs at the ankle and sloppily turn him over. He loses control, and Brookside gives up at like step 4 of a 10-step plan to make the move look passable.
Just an absolute pile of sh*t. I hope that when they told Eva Marie to study old Robbie Brookside tapes, she only watched this match.
Brookside’s one Nitro appearance is at least a little better than his one Raw appearance, where he lost a 3-on-1 match to Umaga, Shane McMahon and Vince McMahon in an Oddjob bowler.
The other Liverpool Lad doesn’t fare much better, but I didn’t GIF him trying to spelunk up Dean Malenko’s ass so we’ll say it’s a little better. The homie DOC DEAN is this week’s James Ellworth to the Twins Braun Strowman that is Taskmaster Kevin Sullivan, getting squashed by a dude built like a California Raisin and beaten up outside the ring by his Neighborhood Mistress. If you’ve never seen the Doctor work, here he is looking like the backdrop-obsessed 10-year-old son of Lord Steven Regal.
Fun/weird/sad note about Doc Dean: He spends most of February getting beaten up on WCW Saturday Night, but in the summer of ’97 he heads to Japan and competes in the Best of the Super Juniors tournament. There, he gets a singles win against JUSHIN THUNDER LIGER. He gets multi-man tag wins over guys like Chris Jericho, Dr. Wagner Jr. (!) and Koji Kanemoto. He comes back to the States in the fall hyped out of his mind and ready to be a top junior heavyweight …. aaaand goes right back to losing to folks on Saturday Night. He jobs on Saturday Night and WCW Pro until early ’98, when he just gives up and retires.
Meanwhile, Jimmy Hart cuts this promo:
Life is cruel and unfair sometimes.
So, what else happens on this episode? Oh, right, the Steiner Brothers DIE IN A CAR ACCIDENT.
Okay, they don’t actually die, but at the top of the show we hear about the news from Saturday that Rick and Scott had been involved in a car crash. There was speculation that the nWo was to blame, so the Wolfpac harasses the announce team and gives them Tony Schiavone’s favorite thing: a VIDEO TAPE to play that will EXPLAIN EVERYTHING. That’s where Tony’s a Viking! Larry Zbyszko makes timely Kennedy assassination jokes, because he’s a confused grandpa living in a confused dad’s body.
Anyway, the tape shows Hall, Nash and Syxx stalking the Steiners at a gas station, following them in their car and deciding to drive them off the road. Totally not the cause of the crash. Thanks to some black and white footage and the miracle of late-’90s video editing, we see the Steiners drift off the road and flip their car, destroying it. Congratulations on airing a snuff film on Nitro, Tony. Almost as bad as the time you guys aired a German Roddy Piper music video.
Don’t worry, the Steiners aren’t actually dead. Scotty turns into a certifiable crazy person about a year later, though, so I’m not gonna rule out some lasting brain damage.
Best: Also, This Is The Episode Where Roddy Piper GOES TO ALCATRAZ
That’s right, Cole, Alcatraz is a real rocket buster.
To prepare for his upcoming WCW Championship match against Hollywood Hogan, Rowdy Roddy Piper has flown to San Francisco and locked himself in Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary. There, in a prison that in 1997 hadn’t had anything in it but tours in 30 years, Piper will remain by himself … uh, alongside a camera crew … for SIX DAYS of push-ups and worked shoot promos. He’s gonna kick your butt, Terry! He runs his hands through his hair a lot and talks about how when he was younger he was homeless and wanted to die, and how being TOLD HE WAS HIDING BEHIND A KID when he brought an actual child to the ring for his announcement that he didn’t want to wrestle has made him feel HOPELESS again. Is nobody taking care of that kid while you’re in self-imposed fake closed-down wrestling prison?
If you’ve never seen the promo, here you go. Piper quotes Lou Reed, lies around in the floor and promises that he’s “ain’t creating the world,” he’s destroying Hulk Hogan.
Spoiler alert: Piper spends a week in an abandoned prison so he can poke Hogan in the eyes a bunch and do that thing where you clap behind someone’s head.
So far in this episode we’ve seen a tag team get flipped for real in a car, and we’ve seen a grown man check himself into an abandoned prison to defeat a man he’s already defeated. Now it’s time for a REFEREE VS. REFEREE SHOWDOWN.
Worst: How Do You Think This Ends, Honestly
Over the past several months, Nick Patrick has gone from a possibly shifty referee to full-on heel Kenny Powers, officiating every nWo match and making sure they don’t lose. At Souled Out — please go read about that if you haven’t already — Patrick got bumped during an Outsiders tag title defense against the Steiners, causing WCW official Randy Anderson to hop out of the crowd and count to three to give the Steiners the championship. Eric Bischoff was immediately like, “I’m going to reverse the decision and fire Randy Anderson.” The next night on Nitro, Bischoff reversed the decision and fired Randy Anderson. WCW, where the Big Boys make sure you don’t feel good about anything ever, not even for a second.
Two weeks later, Anderson and his family show up on Nitro to beg for his job back. Bischoff puts himself over an 8-year old girl and says that if Randy wants to be a referee, he has to fight Nick Patrick for it. Randy’s wife is like, “NO RANDY, YOU BATTLED CANCER BUT THERE’S NO WAY YOU CAN BEAT NICK PATRICK,” but Randy has no other way to put food on the table, so he accepts. He couldn’t like, work at a Food Lion?
Anyway, fast forward to THIS week and it’s time for the Match of the Century™.
Referee Jimmy Jett decides to take a stand for WCW during the pat-downs and slip Randy a weapon. It’s WCW’s second most deadly weapon, the Vague Handful Of Tape Or Whatever. It’s not as brutal as the Woman’s Shoe, but it’s close. Arn Anderson’s got a junk drawer full of these things at his house.
Patrick starts off the match throwing big fake jabs and gets his confidence up, but as he’s winding up for a Donkey Kong giant punch, Anderson blasts him on the top of the head with a haymaker and knocks him out. Anderson and Jett count the three, and Anderson has his job back.
… for like a second, until YOU GUESSED IT:
Jimmy Jett thought it would be fine to slip Randy that weapon in the middle of the ring with the camera filming him winking about it, but I guess he forgot he works in a company where dudes get fired for fairly winning matches against the nWo, much less CHEATING to do so. Bischoff storms to the ring, fires Jett on the spot and tells Randy Anderson he’s still fired. So the story here is that Anderson did his job, got fired for it, got a chance to win the job back, did so successfully, and got fired anyway.
Nick Patrick should be glad he picked a fight with Randy Anderson and not Mark Curtis. King of Strong Style Mark Curtis would’ve popped him with a Kinshasa and choked him out in the middle of the ring.
Worst: Monday Nitro Monday
On Thursday Raw Thursday, WWF booked a rookie Pacific Islander to shockingly upset and pin their snotty blue-blood secondary champion only a week before their pay-per-view. A few days later on Nitro, WCW responds by booking their rookie Pacific Islander to shockingly upset and pin their snotty blue-blood secondary champion only a week before their pay-per-view. The difference here is that one of these guys was The Rock, and the other was PRINCE IAUKEA.
In February of 1997, though, they were pretty much the same. You may have noticed that I haven’t written about Prince Iaukea in these columns yet, because he (1) hasn’t wrestled on Nitro before, and (2) sucks sh*t. He’s terrible, and here he is not only pinning Lord Steven Regal in THREE MINUTES to win the TV title, but by doing so canceling Regal’s upcoming SuperBrawl title defense … which, you know, is versus Rey Mysterio Jr. On pay-per-view. With an announced “no time limit” stipulation. We could’ve gotten LORD STEVEN REGAL VS. REY MYSTERIO JR. FOR LIKE HALF AN HOUR ON PAY-PER-VIEW, but Yogi Barefoot over here is the only Tongan dude on the roster without a skull and crossbones on his tights so he gets to be fake Rocky Maivia and take that spot. HIP HIP F*CKING HOORAY.
The weirdest part of the match for me is the celebration. First of all, for a company in a life-or-death struggle with the nWo, are WCW’s lowest-level babyfaces seriously celebrating STEVE REGAL losing the TV TITLE? Second of all, you have never seen a sadder crew of celebratory babyfaces than The Public Enemy and Teddy Long. Third of all, Teddy Long shows up first, hugs Iaukea, then just sorta stands with his dick pressed up against him the rest of the time, gently rubbing his hands up and down Iaukea’s torso. Not sure if he wants to manage him or let him go One On One Wit Da Undacarriage, ya feel me?
Worst: Booyaka Booyaka 69
Speaking of Rey Mysterio and The Public Enemy, here’s Flyboy Rocco Rock doing a TIGER FEINT to avoid going through a table. Sure, why the hell not.
TPE faces the Amazing French-Canadians, which is sorta like the unstoppable force meeting the immovable object of teams that lose because they won’t stop f*cking up. The match ends with the teams trying to comically lose simultaneously, with Public Enemy going for their standard table spot and Colonel Parker trying to get a riding crop to one of his men to prevent it. The Canadians end up stopping the attack — hence the 6-1-9 — but whoops, Jacques accidentally hits Pierre with the crop and knocks him out, causing him to fall back onto the table. Nature takes its course.
Harlem Heat watches from the crowd, and it takes everything in their power to not jump the rail and accidentally hit each other.
Best: The Special Guest Host
Here is Chris Benoit kicking Road Block right in the goddamn face.
The best part of Benoit vs. Road Block, besides the fact that it’s BENOIT vs. ROAD BLOCK, is that it’s being watched by Nitro’s very special guest host:
George Steinbrenner, former owner of the New York Yankees! He’s there with one of his grandchildren, who I’m 99 percent sure is the real-life Richie Rich. Tony notes that “the great Brian Boehringer” is also in the crowd, which is kinda like saying “five-tool player Kevin Maas.” I wish WCW had bragged about that more during the Monday Night Wars. Nitro: we’re Boehringer than Raw!
How does George Steinbrenner feel about Benoit matches, you ask?
Benoit wins with the flying headbutt after about two minutes, and Road Block kicking out before three. Like Kevin Sullivan, Road Block was clearly too legit to quit.
Best: Lee Is In San Francisco At “Weaselman’s Wharf”
GO TO HELL, LEE.
Best/Worst: Eddie Guerrero Tries To Draw Blood (A Good Wrestling Match) From A Stone (Konnan)
Konnan takes on Eddie Guerrero for the United States Championship. As far as Dungeon of Doom Konnan matches go, it’s better than most — at least it isn’t another strap match — but it’s mostly to set up a post-match attack from the Dungeon and the uneasy alliance between Guerrero and his SuperBrawl opponent Chris Jericho. Not sure why it’s “uneasy,” as they’re both Dudley Do-Right-ass babyfaces at this point, but I get it, you want to build some drama for Sunday and you had to devote the first four weeks of the cycle to Syxx stealing people’s belts.
Best: TOPP GUNN
Up next is maybe the most important moment of the show: The Giant in a handicap match against future WCW mainstay and Sunday Night Heat star Johnny Swinger, and his tag team partner, the legendary TOPP GUNN. Yes, that’s two Ps, two Ns.
If you’ve never seen Topp Gunn, it’s the Cuban Assassin trying to fit in in the 1990s by wearing a Tinieblas mask and naming himself after a movie from 1986. You may also know the Assassin by any of his other dozen or so characters, from Jim Duggan’s Cuban rival Fidel Sierra, to one half of the “Barrio Boys,” to ESPECIALISTA II in the tag team “Los Especialistas.” They fought the Nasty Boys on a Clash of Champions once.
The match is just Giant obliterating these guys, but I wanted to point at TOPP GUNN for a second and say LOOK, LOOK. Maybe he would’ve done better if he’d wrestled in that compression top he rocked on Saturday Night.
After the match, Lex Luger shows up and announces that he’s got a doctor’s note, and that he’s officially medically cleared to be Giant’s tag team partner at SuperBrawl. Instead of building any drama whatsoever, Eric Bischoff immediately appears and says, “I told you to get medical clearance last week and you got it a week late, so you’re still not wrestling at SuperBrawl.” Because, say it with me everyone, you can’t be happy about something in WCW, not even for a second.
Worst: Hollywood Hogan Doesn’t Care About These Guys, And That’s Not Suspicious At All
The main event (as you might’ve guessed) is Hollywood Hogan taking advantage of his rival’s self-imposed imprisonment by standing in the ring unopposed and complimenting himself for five minutes.
Sting and the Macho Man appear at the top of the ramp and the crowd is like YEAH, HOGAN’S GONNA GET IT, but Hogan completely no-sells it. Sting starts heading to the ring, but Macho Man stops him, and the two leave without incident. If you’re Sting at this point, you’ve gotta be like, “hey, I was gonna beat up Hulk Hogan but was asked not to by my friend, Hogan’s former partner and sometimes rival who was just told by Eric Bischoff that the only way he’d get back into the company would be by joining the nWo. I wonder if I should keep an eye on that guy?” But LOL, if you’re Sting at this point you’re actually like, “this is fine,” while Macho Man runs around setting everyone around you on fire.
Next Week: A super brawl! The seventh one!