Previously on the Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro: We spent last week recapping Clash of the Champions XXXIV and the gloriously awful first nWo Souled Out, so if you missed either of those, go read them first. I had to write them. You owe me.
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And now, the vintage Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro for Jan. 27, 1997.
Worst: In Case You Enjoyed That One Feel-Good Moment From Souled Out
In roughly three hours of nWo Souled Out, there was one pro-WCW moment: referee Randy Anderson jumping the rail in street clothes to count the three on Scott Hall and give the Steiner Brothers the WCW Tag Team Championship. Eric Bischoff immediately insisted that the decision would be reversed, and spent the rest of the night openly complaining about it. If you were hoping someone from WCW would step in, validate the title change and take a stand against the nWo … brother, what show are you watching?
This week’s Nitro STARTS with the nWo in the booth, and Bischoff calling out Randy Anderson so he can reverse the decision and publicly fire him. Hall wants to beat the sh*t out of Pee-Wee, but Bischoff turns it into a “payola” scandal, saying Anderson got those Souled Out tickets from someone at WCW as a gift and was thereby violating company policy. Nothing makes a hot title change matter less than dulling it down to corporate minutia! They even reference Anderson’s “rough year,” aka his battle with testicular cancer, before firing him. The more I watch these episodes, the more I see Bischoff doing everything possible to turn the nWo into the most hated organization in wrestling history. He just wasn’t counting on the Internet turning wrestling audiences heel at the same time.
To make matters worse, Bischoff then calls out the Steiner Brothers (who are opening the show with a match, and in theory would like to save face and not look like total helpless goobers before doing so) to strip them of the titles. And hey, there’s nothing they can do! But at least they get to look like the post-apocalyptic Judds while they do it:
Love can build a bridging German, I guess.
Here’s a fun note we can get mad about again later: The Steiners have to wait eight months to get their revenge for this, and when they do, Kevin Nash is conveniently injured and they have to win the titles back from Scott Hall and Syxx. Randy Anderson comes back in two weeks with one of the most embarrassing segments ever, is forced to fight for his job, fights and wins and is still fired, because EVERYTHING IS TERRIBLE ALWAYS.
Best/Worst: The Faces Of Transitional Fear
As mentioned, the Steiners now have to open the show in a match against the Faces of Fear. You could say this is to make sure they’re the official #1 contenders, but does it even matter now? We’ve shown that the guy in charge of the company runs both WCW and the nWo, meaning he has to sanction all the title shots and can reverse them if he doesn’t like them. So … they’re wrestling for nothing?
Anyway, the Steiners and the Faces of Fear is always pretty good in that way certain matches are, where you can tell nobody involved talked about the match beforehand and decided to just hit each other in the face as hard as possible. The match just sort of ends about five minutes in when Scott tags in and hits a belly-to-belly. Meng is just like, “f*ck that Doomsday DDT, pick me up and put me down and let’s leave.”
The nWo sits in on commentary for the entire thing and Scott Hall does his best to bury everyone in sight, calling referee Scott Dickenson the “time to make the donuts guy” and calling Rick Steiner “Robby,” his actual name. We’ve pretty much nihilistically destroyed this episode in the first quarter hour. Congratulations, everyone.
Any beauty pageant segments coming up?
Best: ROAD CLOSED
Oh look, a beauty pageant!
Match #2 is Giant vs. one of our very favorite WCW jobbers, The Man They Call Roadblock. From the Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro from Oct. 21, 1996:
If you’ve never seen Roadblock, he’s … literally a roadblock. He carries a roadblock to the ring and his gear makes him look like a roadblock. I’m not sure how much more on the nose you can be. He looks like the Mr. Creosote version of Triple H (or one of the Gorgs from Fraggle Rock, take your pick) and he’s spectacularly bad at wrestling. All he’s got going for him is his height and weight. I’m not sure he ever figured out what wrestling was.
This time around, Roadblock has upgraded his singlet from orange Tugboat to an actual warning sign, declaring the ROAD CLOSED. He’s not just blocking it now, he’s rendering the road totally unusable. I love that his pants look like two roads leading to his stomach, which is like, NO MORE ROAD. Next stop: the WCW World Heavyweight Championship! Or a deer crossing, one or the other.
The match is about 90 seconds long, but features Giant throwing a standing dropkick (yo) and putting Roadblock through the “secondary broadcast table” at ringside. One massive chokeslam later, and that’s it. Giant hops on the microphone and says he wants Hogan tonight, which definitely won’t end with an nWo run-in like the last two, we’re sure.
Worst: In Case You Were Still Worried About Starrcade, Which You Weren’t
The Giant has been screwed out of two, soon to be three WCW Championship matches against Hollywood Hogan. One of them took place during the New Adventures of Robin Hood. He won a title match by winning World War 3, and trying to actually GET that match got him kicked out of the New World Order. Souled Out ended with Giant being stripped to his bare ass and spray-painted, so the story heading into Superbrawl is the ultimate, final showdown between the two with some kind of stipulation to keep the Giant from being f*cked over again, right?
Early in the show, Tony Schiavone announces that he’s procured a tape of the finish to Starrcade ’96 and will finally prove to us that Rowdy Roddy Piper defeated Hollywood Hogan. I mean, we watched it and anyone who didn’t saw Bischoff get weird about it the next night on Nitro. Also, pretty sure there’s more than that one tape available. My great grandpa used to tape all the pay-per-views, I could’ve called him and gotten one on bootleg VHS.
But yeah, Tony’s pulled some strings and gotten an unedited Starrcade tape to show us. They show the finish to Piper vs. Hogan with Hogan getting put to sleep, but before his hand comes down for three, the tape cuts out. Tony is SHOCKED, demanding to know what happened … and that’s when TAPE MASTER Eric Bischoff shows up, reveals that he stopped Tony’s little tape trading ruse and threatens him if he ever tries it again. He pulls the ribbon out of the cassette for good measure. Now there’s NO RECORD of Starrcade ’96 available. WWE Network’s version just cuts to a still photo of Bischoff frenching Miss nWo.
I wish this had become Bischoff’s actual gimmick, and that Hacksaw Jim Duggan had joined the nWo as TAPE INTEGRITY ENFORCER.
It turns out we were shown that tape for a very good reason. Tony gets a letter from the WCW Executive Committee delivered by one of the police extras from the 1966 Batman show announcing that due to his behavior as of late (read: since July?), Hollywood Hogan will be forced to defend the WCW Championship at SuperBrawl, and that title shot will go to … Rowdy Roddy Piper. Sorry, Giant! Hope that match goes well for you later!
The highlight of this bit is Tony’s outfit, which looks like someone beat him up before the show to get a Tony Schiavone outfit and he was forced to piece together something TV-ready from the boys department at J. Crew. Dude’s wearing a blue sweatshirt and khaki pants that are way too tight so they bunch up a bunch in the crotch. He looks like 13-year old me.
Best: The Era Of Billy Pearl Begins (And Ends)
Ultimo Dragon gets a fun and all-too-quick victory over “Billy Pearl,” who looks like Jon Heder’s character from Blades of Glory. You may know him best as WWF jobber “Brian Walsh,” most famous for being on the losing end of Avatar’s terrible debut.
Pearl vs. Dragon is pretty much the 1997 equivalent of the first three minutes of Akira Tozawa vs. Jack Gallagher from the Cruiserweight Classic, only substitute the comedic butthole-punting with Dragon caving in Pearl’s entire torso with a dropkick. Dragon just lights him up the entire time, and Pearl tries to fight back with a bunch of British knucklelocks and hip-riding. It’s great in its own little way.
This is Pearl’s only Nitro appearance, by the way. He gets a pair of matches on WCW Saturday Night, and then it’s back to WWF to lose to the Disciples of the Apocalypse or whatever. Thanks for catching as you could catch, Billy!
Worst: Ron Powers
The SuperBrawl title shot also doesn’t go to “The Total Package” Lex Luger, who has been absolutely plowing through every large-ish wrestler in the country on the reg for months. This week’s victim is RON POWERS, who I’m pretending is either Rusev’s dad or Jim Powers’ aggressive older brother. They should’ve teamed up Ron Powers and Jim Powers and called them THE POWERS THAT BE.
Luger nukes Ronnie Wrestling almost immediately and Torture Racks him, and that’s good enough for not only the win, but the Valvoline People Who Know Use Valvoline™ Of The Week.
After the match, Voice of Reason Lex Luger says that WCW needs to get its sh*t together, start trusting each other and take out the nWo. He pleads with the Giant to rejoin WCW, noting that the whole “not trusting Sting and thinking a rando in Sting makeup was the real thing because it was raining” was the boner that started the true downfall of the company as a unit anyway. WCW: where the only person with humility is The Narcissist.
Worst: Arn Anderson’s Career Ends Not With A Bang, But With A Haliburton
And now, Arn Anderson’s final match. He sticks around, arm wrestles with Buff Bagwell on a random Thunder in 2000 and fights David Flair at some point, but this is his last actual pro wrestling match. And bonus: it’s the most WCW thing ever.
Arn teams up with Mongo McMichael to face the Amazing French-Canadians. If you’ve spent the last five minute staring at that photo with your head cocked to the side like a dog, here’s what’s going on in truest “WHAT IS GOING ON WITH ANY COLONEL PARKER MATCH” fashion.
The French-Canadians want to end the match by hitting Mongo with their flag. Parker tosses in the flag, but the referee sees it happen. As he turns away, Mongo grabs his trust metal briefcase of instant death, blasts Jacques Rougeau with it and gets the win. Arn Anderson stands on the apron the entire time. That, my friends, is the last Arn Anderson match. … Hooray?
If you don’t know the story of Arn, he’d been dealing with numbness and trying to fight through the problem, but it kept getting worse. He tried to have surgery a few months after this to fix it, but they couldn’t fix it enough for him to keep wrestling. Later in the year we get his emotional retirement speech, and then a week after that the nWo parodies it and turns it into one of the most embarrassing and humiliating things in company history. Because that totally needed to happen.
Arn is the best wrestler to ever look like one of your dad’s friends, and he deserved a better sendoff than this. So don’t remember Arn as the fourth most important wrestler in an Amazing French-Canadians match … remember him hitting The Undertaker with the sweetest spinebuster of all-time five years later at WrestleMania 18.
Maybe the worst part of the entire thing is that it’s not even Mongo’s sole briefcase-related finish of the night. He interferes in an Eddie Guerrero vs. Jeff Jarrett match on behalf of his wife Debra, who as you know if you’ve been reading has grown weirdly protective of Jeff Jarrett. It’s the Woman/Chris Benoit/Kevin Sullivan angle with the lowest possible stakes. I guess Debra’d spent so much time hanging out with football players that a Little Lord Fauntleroy-looking motherf*cker in a spread of chest-suspenders did it for her.
Debra begs Mongo to help Jarrett win by hitting Eddie with the Haliburton — she was able to convince him to help Jarrett at Souled Out, after all — but Mongo reconsiders and blasts Jarrett instead. The announce team plays this off as Mongo deciding to “wear the pants” in the relationship, because I guess control of the marriage goes to whomever decides to hit which dude with a briefcase the most often.
Worst: Extreme Championship Wrestling
WCW advertised a Tag Team Championship match for the night, which turns out to be The Outsiders — remember, officially the champions still but not really — versus “The Extreme,” aka “The Extremists,” Ace Darling and Devon Storm. You can tell Storm and Darling are “extreme” because they wear sunglasses, and dress like they asked the tailor if he’d seen Ciclope from the neck down, and he responded, “say no more fam.”
Long story short, Billy Pearl had more of a shot against Ultimo Dragon.
Hall and Nash kill The Extreme with the same sincerity and enthusiasm they bring to everything else, and I’d need More Than Words to describe it. Storm reconsidered the team after this match, saying to his partner, “Darling, I don’t know why I go to Extremes.”
Worst: Joe Gomez
Also on this episode, the Taskmaster defeats Desperado Joe Gomez in about 40 seconds, because Joe Gomez is the dysentery of professional wrestlers. He’s a hard one, but I know that he’s got his reasons.
Sting: Can you believe this guy? Out here talking for 10 minutes again. And look, now he’s posing. We should get together and point baseball bats at him, that’d show him.
Macho Man: I’m going to turn on you
Macho Man: nothing
Worst: Cruiserweight Jerry Flynn
Mom’s new boyfriend is 250 pounds and drunk, and now he wants the Cruiserweight Championship!
Instead of facing his gym class karate soulmate Glacier, Jerry Flynn gets a shot at new Cruiserweight Champion Dean Malenko. Flynn neutralizes about 900 of Malenko’s holds by being too awkward to take any of them, then just kicking him in the chest. That’s the entire match. Like watching Jacques Pepin eat a gordita by himself in his car outside a Taco Bell.
The best moment of the match (and possibly my life) comes near the end, where Malenko gets whipped into the corner and Flynn follows in with a head of steam. Malenko dodges out onto the apron when Flynn still has like five feet of running to do, so Flynn just KEEPS RUNNING and SMASHES HIS FACE INTO THE TOP TURNBUCKLE while SCREAMING for NO REASON WHATSOEVER. Malenko goes up top to hit something, and from the ground, Flynn kicks up and kicks him in the chest. There’s so little timing involved that Malenko can’t even sell it, he just kinda tumbles sideways off the ropes. It’s amazing. Malenko’s response to the entire sequence is to mouth “f*ck you” with his entire body and Cloverleaf Thunderfoot for the win.
Worst: Marital Infidelity Is No Laughing Matter
Hugh Morrus wrestles a terrible Hugh Morrus match against Chris Benoit and ends up winning the damn thing two nights after being HIT BY A F*CKING MOTORCYCLE thanks to the debut of a mysterious woman. She jumps out of the crowd during the match and starts harassing Woman, which brings out WCW security and distracts everyone long enough for Kevin Sullivan to sneak in and brain Benoit with the dreaded Flimsy Wooden Chair.
After the match, the woman follows Sullivan up the ramp and we get an impossibly awkward interview where he tells Mean Gene to “not worry about” where he knows the woman from, and her basically saying she wants to manage Sullivan instead of Jimmy Hart because she can have sex with him. I think that’s underestimating Jimmy Hart’s skillset, but sure. And hey, there’s nothing strange women like more than the Venice Beach Danny DeVito look.
You may recognize the Mystery Woman as WWE Hall of Famer Jacqueline. If you’re weird, you know her as “Wynonna,” former vignette-only manager of Jeff Jarrett. Maybe you know her as Miss Texas (USWA), Sweet Georgia Brown (World Class) or Breast Impl Ant (Chikara). Incredibly, only one of those names is a joke.
Worst: Guess What Happens
The first Giant vs. Hollywood Hogan match (not counting the early ones with the monster truck battles and Himalayan ninja ice mummy buttf*ckings) ended with the nWo running in and causing a disqualification. The second Giant vs. Hollywood Hogan match ended with the nWo running in and causing a disqualification. This third Giant vs. Hollywood Hogan match ends with the nWo running in and causing a disqualification. Gotta keep things fresh!
The new wrinkle here (which isn’t new at all) is Eric Bischoff getting physically involved, trying to attack the Giant with the saddest double axe-handles you’ll see this side of Kelly Kelly. Giant threatens to chokeslam him and everyone who just sat through a Hollywood Hogan match is like YES, YES, PLEASE, GOD, PLEASE, GOD, PLEASE. The Outsiders run in and ruin that.
The final moment of the show is Lex Luger running out to make the save, and the announcers for real being like, “WHOSE SIDE IS HE ON,” despite him openly telling the Giant earlier in this same f*cking show that he wants them to start trusting each other and fight the nWo. There’s a reason Sting is still up in the rafters, you guys. Owning a pair of black underwear doesn’t make you Benedict Arnold.
In a totally unrelated story, join us at SuperBrawl for the one guy Sting decided to trust turning on Sting.