The Best And Worst Of WCW Monday Nitro 3/31/97: Belittle Debbie

Previously on the Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro: In an act that made me want to flip a table 20 years later, Hacksaw Jim Duggan tossed his stashed roll of athletic tape into the crowd to have a fair fight with the Renegade, then defeated him by pulling out a second roll of tape when the match got hard and cheating anyway. Other stuff happened, but can we seriously take another minute to think about this?

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. If you want to check out the Raw that aired opposite this Nitro, click here.

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 Ernest Miller is tasked with fighting random backstage ninja attacks.

And now, the Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro for March 31, 1997.

Best: Welcome To An Arena Featuring Teen Brandon Stroud

First and most importantly (to me only), I want to point out that this is the one (1) episode of WCW Monday Nitro I ever got to attend live. I used to go to the Greensboro Coliseum for NWA a lot as a kid, I’ve been to a Starrcade, I’ve been to a Great American Bash and four Fall Brawls and like half a dozen Thunder tapings, but only this one Nitro. And it’s terrible.

Fun note: The only episode of Raw I attended live in the ’90s happens at the end of ’97 in the same arena, and features Goldust in a ball gag and a metal boob bikini. I didn’t go to another WWE event until Unforgiven 1999 in Charlotte. Which, uh, featured Kennel From Hell. The ’90s weren’t very kind to me.

Worst: All The Black Spandex In The World

Over on WWF television, Stone Cold Steve Austin is steadily becoming the biggest star in wrestling. WCW had fired him in 1995, and according to Austin himself in The Stone Cold Truth, Eric Bischoff had told him, “you go out there in those black trunks and black boots, and there’s not a whole lot of ways for me to market that.”

This week’s Nitro features Lex Luger (in black trunks) teaming up with The Giant (in black trunks) versus Rick Fuller (in black trunks) and Roadblock (in black trunks). Granted, Giant’s wearing his Andre the Giant caveman onesie and Roadblock and Fuller are both in granny bathing suits, but you get the point. It’s a BLACK SPANDEX BONANZA at the top of Mundy Nite Nitro. Luger and Giant are part of that bizarrely thrown-together Spring Stampede “main event” against Harlem Heat, so they get a quick win with their finishers.

Thankfully this is a one time thing, and WCW never has to rely on the insane, sudden popularity of a bald guy in black boots and black trunks.

Best: Stevie Ray’s Boxing Jacket

After the match, Harlem Heat runs in and jumps the faces to help the heat of a possible Hollywood Hogan vs. Stevie Ray showdown at Starrcade reach critical mass. Three highlights here:

1. Stevie Ray is wearing one of those too-colorful leather dad jackets people wore in the ’90s. It has boxing gloves on it and says BOXING down the front. He loves boxing! I think it’s great that Steve was like, “I’m going to be wrestling on this wrestling show, what should I wear? OOH, MY BOXING JACKET!” I just hope it has Bugs Bunny and the Tasmanian Devil in backwards jeans boxing on the back.

2. Tony Schiavone refers to them as “members of Harlem Heat,” as if they aren’t the only two. Is there a larger gang conglomerate known as “Harlem Heat,” and we’ve just been getting to know two of their representatives? I guess it’d explain why two guys from Houston are repping Harlem.

3. I just realized that this is positioning Harlem Heat as possible opponents for Hollywood Hogan, which means they’re going to have to cut a promo on him at Spring Stampede, which means we’re about to get our magical first introduction of the Hulkster and the N-word.

Worst: Just What We Needed, A SECOND Women’s Title To Ignore
Best: (Joshi Legends On Nitro Before They Were Joshi Legends!)

Up next we have a first round match in the WCW Women’s Cruiserweight Championship tournament, which makes total sense when your one notable female wrestler has spent the past month complaining about how the company hasn’t let her wrestle on TV for a year. If you’re like, “wow, I don’t remember WCW even HAVING a women’s cruiserweight title,” there’s a good reason. The tournament finals happen on an episode of WCW Main Event in April and the title immediately goes to Japan, where it’s vacated five months later and forgotten forever. Whoops!

Here’s the good news:

This Nitro features the debut of Drew Gulak’s (and my) choice for best wrestler in the world, Meiko Satomura. You may remember her from that time she absolutely stole the show at Chikara’s King of Trios 2012, from when she won it in 2016, or from her endless catalogue of amazing work in World Wonder Ring Stardom, Sendai Girls’ Pro Wrestling and Gaea Japan. She is so. good.

In 1997 though, she was 25 years old and had been in the business less than two years, wrestling in front of a yokel Virginia crowd holding up Confederate flags and booing anything that wasn’t the Four Horsemen. And she’s in the ring against … holy shit, Toshie Uematsu?

Yep, this episode of Nitro I randomly got to attend in 1997 featured two future joshi legends when they were in their early-to-mid 20s, still trying to make names for themselves. And don’t think this is a Lucha Underground scenario where female Japanese stars show up and blow everyone away and become beloved. Nobody knows who they are, they aren’t really themselves yet, and they’re so nervous they like, Tiger Mask wall flip onto their own heads:

It’s kind of a nightmare. Larry Zbyszko spends the entire match complaining about having to pronounce Japanese names, and refers to them as “that one” and “the other one.” Teenage me is like, God, why did I have to watch that, when’s Sting rappelling down? Adult me is like, OH MY GOD DUDE CAN YOU BELIEVE YOU GOT TO SEE THAT? It’s like when it took me 20 years to realize I’d seen Giant Baba wrestle in a Crockett Cup and had booed him for being foreign and beating the Rock N’ Roll Express.

The WCW Women’s Cruiserweight Championship is never mentioned on Nitro again.

Worst: This Is A Picture Of Psicosis Vs. Villano IV

So WCW’s like, “the match between two Japanese women didn’t go well, let’s see if Virginia will pop for two Mexican guys … no, not the popular ones.” So we end up with Psicosis vs. Villano “Not Ray Mendoza Jr.” IV. And by “we end up with,” I mean, “they instantly go backstage to watch the nWo arrive and drink coffee.”

The major plot point of the episode is that Scott Hall is on the disabled list with alcoholism, Hollywood Hogan and most of the important New World Order types are at the premiere of Dennis Rodman’s Jean-Claude Van Damme banger Double Team, and Nash has to lead a total nWo B-teamers through this Nitro. M. Wallstreet, the B-est of the B-teamers, is upset about it. He storms off in a huff, and we’re supposed to believe that losing Mike Rotunda in sunglasses and jeans for an evening is the first crack in the foundation of the group or whatever. In fact, the main event is Nash and Syxx taking over the announce booth to explain what the nWo’s doing when they’re off-screen. More on that at the end.

Note: If you’re wondering what Nash is wearing on his hip in that shot, so was I. I even asked Twitter about it, and everybody was like, “garage door opener?” until Nash himself answered me.

If you don’t know what that is, it’s a device that sends pulses through your body to make it release endorphins to fight chronic pain. I’m surprised he didn’t move the sensors to his ass after having to deal with the Rotunda and Norton Kangol connection.

Psicosis wins with a leg drop.

Worst: A Complete Re-Do Of Last Week

On last week’s episode, Chris Benoit wrestled Hugh Morrus. The Dungeon of Doom and “Sullivan” Kevin Sullivan attacked Benoit, causing Ric Flair to return to action and incapacitate the entire group with measured jabs and dick attacks.

This week, Chris Benoit and Hugh Morrus have a rematch. The Dungeon of Doom and Kevin “Sullivan” Sullivan attack Benoit again, causing Ric Flair to return to action again and incapacitate the entire group with measured jabs and dick attacks again. It’s the exact same thing. At least upgrade Flair’s cock assault to like, a pop-up jock kick.

Worst: Old Man Tinder

Flair’s major role in this episode is to interact with Roddy Piper, who has a great dad joke comedy bit about how women have told him they call Flair’s waterbed “the dead sea.” That was such a burn Flair should’ve had to lock himself in a furniture store for a week to deal with it. But yeah, Flair and Piper passive-aggressively hate each other but are also horny old man best friends, so they cut a long, long (long) rambling promo about partying, who they’ve respectively ran out of territories — get hype for some timely Mark Lewin jokes — and whether or not Flair will be able to hook Piper up with enough local moms to convince him to be a Horseman.

That’s not a joke. They try to cut them off with Piper’s music, but Flair waves it off and brings a gloriously discount Miss Elizabeth in mom jeans into the ring to hug Piper and say she “loves the Hot Rod.” Gene kinda sorta laughs about how they’re going to split roast her at the Marriott, and Flair and Piper do some corny old man slapstick:

This is the “walking in on your parents having sex” of Nitro segments.

Worst: As The Haliburton Turns

As for the rest of the Horsemen, yes, they’re arguing about who hit who with a metal briefcase and why. Oh, is this that episode?

Jeff Jarrett and Steve “Bunkhouse Cuck” McMichael team up to take on the Amazing French-Canadians, which in terms of clean match finishes is like Rube Goldberg fighting an OK Go video. As you guessed if you’ve watched even one of these episodes before, Public Enemy fatly jog out, steal the Haliburton from Debra and try to hit Jeff Jarrett with it. But as that’s happening, Colonel Parker sneaks up and steals it from THEM. He slides it into the ring, allowing Jacques Rougeau to blindside Mongo with it and get the pin. When Mongo wakes up, he sees Jeff Jarrett holding the briefcase and blames him for the attack, because if you’re gonna turn on your partner and hit them with empty luggage, you’re gonna want to stick around holding it and looking concerned afterward.

WCW should’ve just made the tag team division anything goes all the time, with the champs being the team that could come up with the craftiest schemes with the best timing. Why is ever goddamn tag team match a jewel heist?

Best: Lance In The Pants

Speaking of jewels — I am a great writer — Diamond Dallas Page faces newcomer “Lance Ringo,” the pre-crisis identity of future Raven’s Flock member Sick Boy. So, Well Boy? He tries to get under Page’s skin by bringing out Randy Savage’s nWo-edited copy of Playboy Nude Celebrities, featuring scrapbook graffiti to cover Kimberly’s boobs. Page is like, “derp,” and beats him with a fireman’s carry Diamond Cutter in like 90 seconds.

The real money moment here is the post-match interview, which features two important moments:

1. DDP realizing he shouldn’t have initially sold his wife’s Playboy spread with angry shame and retconning the story into, “we’re proud of Kimberly’s shoot, I’m just mad about what Savage and Elizabeth did to her afterward.”

2. Macho Man showing up in the crowd to reveal that he’s apparently read Page’s Wikipedia page. The promo’s like, “your name is Diamond Dallas Page! Your finishing hold is the Diamond Cutter!” The best part is when he drops the world’s nastiest diss in wrestling history:

“My question to you is, what are you, some kind of GEMOLOGIST or something?”

He follows that up by saying he doesn’t think Page has “family jewels,” and Page is so Diamond Dallas Enraged by the insult that he climbs into the crowd and chases Savage away. That’s the kind of dry cool dad wit that would’ve made even Ric Flair and Rowdy Roddy Piper do anime facefaults. Although to be fair, Flair invented it.

Worst: Damn, Lee

Lee Marshall making WCW accept his collect calls just so he can call Bobby Heenan a weasel in the most roundabout way possible has started getting mean. Here, Lee launches into a thing about how NASA originally wanted to send weasels into space instead of monkeys, but the weasels wouldn’t stop “whimpering and wetting themselves.”

Eventually it’s gonna be like:

Lee: Thanks Tony I’m in Memphis Tennessee, site of the Blues Hall of Fame and home to the Memphis Tigers, hanging out at a Nitro party with the crew on the world famous BEALE street, and Bobby, I was WALKING in Memphis and I saw the ghost of ELVIS, and he gave me a special message from down in the jungle room!
Bobby: what’s that

Best: I Want La Parka’s Jacket

Last week’s episode featured La Parka as a skeleton mariachi, and I was like, “he’s never going to be able to top that.” And then this week La Parka’s glorious ass shows up in a ring jacket that is JUST HIS GIANT FACE. It’s a LA PARKA PARKA. For real, La Parka should’ve been the cultural event of the ’90s.

I can’t imagine something bad enough to make me dislike La Parka.


Worst: La Parka Having To Walk Prince Iaukea Through A Match And Then Lose To Him In The Stupidest Way

WCW’s deaf, dumb and blind love affair with Prince Iaukea continues this week as La Parka holds his hand and tries to walk him through a fast-paced cruiserweight affair while Prince makes “I love you” Jimmy Snuka hands and relentlessly shits the bed. At one point Parka just stops selling for him and sets up spots independent of the additional wrestling happening. Like, what else are you supposed to do with Squats McDropkick over here?

The finish is extra dumb, with Prince hitting a flying crossbody on La Parka while La Parka’s holding a chair, which somehow hurts La Parka but leaves Prince unfazed. I think the idea is that it’s supposed to hurt both of them but Prince has the momentum, so he’d land on a temporarily knocked out opponent and pin him. But Prince doesn’t consider selling for even a second, and just pops right back up into his squatting I Love You karate hands. Poor Tony tries to cover it up by being like, “I think Prince hit the chair with his abs instead of his chest, which absorbed some of the blow,” and Prince is like LOOK AT ME I’M CRAB WALKIN’.

Best: Lord Steven Regal Loses His Goddamn Mind

Lord Steven Regal is pissed. Like us, he’s had to sit around for the past few months watching Prince Iaukea wrestle instead of being one half of a bunch of legendary Regal vs. Mysterio TV title matches. Before his match with future WrestleMania opponent Chris Jericho, Regal cuts a bad-ass promo about how all the planchas in the world won’t save “bloody dwarf” Mysterio from Regal turning him into a vegetable.

Regal’s not paying enough attention to Jericho, so Jericho’s able to O’Connor roll him with a bridge and score the upset in about two minutes. That causes Regal to pay LOTS of attention, and the wrestling match turns into Regal bludgeoning the ever loving shit out of him with palm strikes, kneeing him in the face like Jericho owes him money, and Regal Stretching him to death. It’s awesome.

Jericho’s a pretty low level guy at this point, so the only people who show up to save him are like, Billy Kidman-quality. The Renegade runs out and pretends like he’s going to help, but then gets scared and doesn’t, continuing his extremely important heel turn. Desperado Joe Gomez shows up right after that to try to help, but he draws the Queen of Diamonds, boy, and gets thrown out before he’s able. The best moment happens when future Chris Jericho ally LENNY LANE makes his Nitro debut, and Regal 1000% F’s up his Christmas.

Lenny Lane, his balls are in his ears, and in his eyes.

Worst: Your Mom Gets Naked And Wrestles Akira Hokuto

Meet DEBBIE COMBS, who looks and dresses like one of the Donatello Triplets from that one episode of The Golden Girls. She’s a 22-year veteran who absolutely looks like she started women’s wrestling in 1975, enters in a jacket that makes her look like a tree-topper and wrestles in what looks like a fat suit without clothes on it.

Seriously, welcome to NAKED GRANDMA THE WRESTLER:

If you read up on Debbie, she came up as a teen in Angelo Poffo’s ICW and used to date the Macho Man, who I hope broke up with her by saying, “DEBBIE COMBS, MY QUESTION TO YOU IS, WHAT ARE YOU, SOME KIND OF HAIR STYLIST OR SOMETHING?”

Debbie’s job here is to look like a nude Cabbage Patch doll, hit the world’s lowest high crossbody and execute a gutwrench suplex onto her own face before losing to Akira Hokuto. But hey, if the dude from the B-52s is watching, he’s probably got a new favorite wrestler.

Best: Drunk Madusa Almost Kills A Cool Cat

After the match, your friend’s drunk mom Madusa shows up to yell “ROANOKE ROCKS!” before getting attacked by Hokuto. The true highlight here is when Sonny Onoo flees and tries to hide behind Nitro’s pre-Nitro Girls mascot WILDCAT WILLIE, causing this great screenshot that looks like Madusa’s about to shootfight a radical NASCAR cat in sunglasses.

This is actually the second great Wildcat Willie moment of the episode. The first is when he covers his eyes as Lance Ringo walks past him with Kimberly’s Playboy. Can somebody fish that suit out of storage and send Wildcat Willie to WrestleCon? I’d rather meet him than, like, Ric Flair’s French maid and Bull Dempsey.

Best Worst: Robbie Rage Should Stop Agreeing To Take Steiner Screwdrivers

The Steiner Brothers wrestle High Voltage again and OH GOD

Robbie, how little do you value your life that you keep volunteering to let Scotty Steiner dick you in the face while he drops your entire body weight on the top of your head? Robbie took one of these in Disney World, too. I’m guessing we don’t see Robbie Rage at any wrestling conventions because he’s just a head in a jar.

Worst: nWo State Of The Union

As mentioned, this week’s main event is Kevin Nash and Syxx taking over the announce booth to explain that Scott Hall is “dealing with things more important than wrestling,” and that if Nash has to face the Steiners by himself at Spring Stampede, he will. Spoiler alert: he doesn’t, and he wouldn’t have.

They also shade Hollywood Hogan and the rest of the nWo for going to the Double Team premiere instead of “handling business” on Nitro, which if you watched this Nitro clearly means “make M. Wallstreet happy and literally nothing else.” There’s no other nWo content. They just show up, Wallstreet’s like, “why are we here,” and leaves. And Nash is like, I’VE HAD ENOUGH OF THIS CRAP, I WON’T LET THE NWO FALL APART, I WILL DESTROY WCW BY MYSELF IF I HAVE TO. I wish Buff Bagwell had joined them via satellite to be like, “Double Team was great, I gave character actor Paul Freeman a Too Sweet, it looks like you guys handled that La Parka vs. Prince Iaukea match without incident, congratulations.”

The best part is Bobby Heenan trying to flee the announce table and getting his foot hooked on the cords. Watch and try to figure out if he’s doing it on purpose. Then spend the rest of the afternoon watching Tony Schiavone’s face:

Next Week: A Spring Stampede, which is not as cool as a Canadian Stampede, but slightly better than an Oklahoma.