Previously on the Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro: Diamond Dallas Page pinned Macho Man Randy Savage by cosplaying La Parka, Sister Sherri got kicked out of Harlem Heat for touching Flyboy Rocco Rock’s butthole, and a mannequin-based feud between Ric Flair and Rowdy Roddy Piper escalated to an extremely sexual pantsing.
Remember, if you want us to keep writing 20-year-old WCW jokes, click the share buttons and spread the column around. If you don’t tell them how much you like these, nobody’s going to read them. People need to know about the time Dennis Rodman was accidentally way better at wrestling than Hulk Hogan, Lex Luger or The Giant.
And now, the Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro for July 13, 1997.
Best: The Best Glacier Match Ever
A year after Hulk Hogan changed the pro wrestling landscape by dropping a leg on the Macho Man and establishing the New World Organization Of Wrestling, an angle the nWo rendered outmoded — Glacier and the Blood Runs Cold gang — opened Bash at the Beach and had the best match on the show in a walk.
Here’s a quick recap of the story: Blood Runs Cold, like so many films of the 70s and 80s and Netflix original series of the 2010s, tells the story of a white guy who traveled the world learning martial arts. He learned to be a magical ice ninja from a master in Japan, who gave him an ancient ceremonial helmet to show that they’re forever bros. Somewhere along the way, Glacier ended up in Tai Pei doing cage fights and ran afoul of an evil American businessman, James Vandenberg, and a radioactive martial arts skeleton in a cape named MORTIS. Somehow they both found their way into professional wrestling and butted heads again. Mortis and Vandenberg needed help, so they brought in Wrath, a guy who used to be radioactive but seems fine now. Glacier needed help fighting off three guys, so he brought in Eric Bischoff’s son’s karate teacher, a James Brown enthusiast in leopard print who doesn’t seem to really know how wrestling works but will not stop kicking the shit out of people. Vandenberg and his cronies stole Glacier’s helmet, and tried to use the helmet to steal Glacier’s magical eyeball. Now they’re all going to fight. AT THE BEACH.
WWE Fan Nation uploaded the final few minutes of the match and the finish, but if you’ve ever wondered about the Glacier gimmick or if it could’ve worked in a better context, fire up the Network, bring up Bash at the Beach ’97 and watch the entire match. The crowd is ROWDY for it, and all four guys do a great job playing to it. The match itself is full of cool double-teams, including the move that would eventually almost kill a Villano and an especially brutal spot where Wrath holds a chair in front of Glacier’s face so Mortis can superkick it and sandwich dude’s head between the chair and the ring post.
There’s even a great story here about Glacier losing because it’s the first time in pro wrestling he’s been so angry he betrays his martial arts training and starts double-legging and punching folks.
The finish is pretty great, too, with Vandenberg getting the living Jesus kicked out of him, which gives Mortis time to WRAP A CHAIN AROUND HIS FOOT AND SUPERKICK GLACIER IN THE CHEST. The fact that Blood Runs Cold didn’t escalate into full-on Kickboxer style Tai Pei death matches and shit is my only criticism. All in all it’s a terribly fun match that I’ve been showing to people for 20 years to validate my extremely biased love for the Mortal Kombat parts of a wrestling show full of dudes in t-shirts who don’t care.
Dusty Rhodes call of the match: “IRON MIKE! BOTTOM LINE IS THESE GUYS CAN DO THE THINGS, I’M TALKING ABOUT GLACIER AND CAT, THAT THEY KNOW HOW TO DO! AND MAKE THIS INTO A TYPE OF SITUATION WHERE THEY CAN USE THEIR MARTIAL ARTS!” I wish Dusty was still alive so I could get him to do director’s commentary for Bloodsport.
Best: ILoveCows Gets To The Bottom Of The DDP Partner Mystery
Backstage, an intern I’m going to pretend is TJ Perkins conducts a live chat with Diamond Dallas Page. A user named “ILoveCows” asks him who his mystery partner will be tonight, and as a reminder, there are three choices:
- Sting, who wouldn’t turn on him and join the nWo
- Raven, who wouldn’t turn on him and join the nWo
- Curt Hennig [shifty eyes]
Page reveals that his mystery partner will be the man sitting behind him, “DDD.” Diamond Dallas’ Dad. I’ll be honest with you, Page’s dad looks like every adult male in my family over the age of 50 when I was a little kid, so I don’t think I’ve ever identified with him more. Also, given what we eventually learn about Page and how willing he is to team up with guys like Karl Malone instead of actual pro wrestlers, DDD should’ve actually been his partner. I would’ve died to see Macho Man training for Mr. Perfect or Sting, getting this little farmer dude instead and eating an old man cutter out of nowhere.
Best/Worst: Chris Jericho And Ultimo Dragon Try To Kill Each Other
Have you ever wanted to see a match where two of the best cruiserweights in history both pretend to be Sabu? That’s Ultimo Dragon vs. Chris Jericho at Bash at the Beach, a match between two great wrestlers who have decided every move they do will be iffy at best and result in one or both of them falling from the top rope to the floor. Here’s a picture of Jericho trying to dropkick Ultimo off the top rope while both of them are standing on the top rope and missing completely, and Dragon taking a bump to the floor from 10 feet up anyway.
It’s crazy, but not particularly good. Like I said, Sabu. Later in the match, Dragon goes for a rana from the top and gets shoved to the floor again. Jericho does a crossbody from the top to the floor, and Dragon counters it with a dropkick. From the floor. It’s like they got together before the match and were like, “fuck the X-axis, tonight we’re wrestling on the Y.” So it’s worth watching, but nothing you’re gonna call a Match of the Year Candidate due to the combination of (1) the crowd not caring as much as they could because Glacier smashed into the arena and drowned everybody, (2) the announce team putting over Syxx and Dennis Rodman for most of it, and (3) most of the major spots looking like they called them on the fly with no idea how to actually pull them off.
Dusty Rhodes call of the match: “You gotta be able to counter with your good counter move by putting the guy away. Counter, use your counter to get a victory. Everybody say, ‘Well, he countered him and that was a good move and he came back and did that move.’ Sooner or later, you gotta put a guy away or put him in a position to either uncle him or put him out.”
Best: “Mike Tenay” As A Verb
Verb – to ignore someone instead of answering their question. “Don’t Mike Tenay me, pal!”
Mean Gene Okerlund tries to identify with kids these days by interviewing Raven and Stevie Richards at ringside. You might be wondering how Raven keeps getting these front row tickets to WCW shows across the country if he’s not a WCW employee and is, like, a Philadelphia-area independent wrestler, but don’t worry, a few years later we find out about his family life and it all makes sense. Anyway, Raven Mike Tenays Gene, which pisses Gene off. Look at the adjective. “Mike Tenay.” That leads to a poem from Raven about how he’s been asked if he’ll be Diamond Dallas Page’s partner since childhood. Was Raven in the MatRats and I just didn’t hear about it?
Stevie Richards tells Gene to go screw, but mentions that Raven has an “announcement” to make tomorrow night on Nitro. Raven once again smacks the shit out of Richards for interrupting grown folks, and Gene wanders away to ponder the disinterested Generation X burnout, the 1997 equivalent to the Fidget Spinner.
Worst: Nope, Still No Tag Team Championship Match
If you’ve been following along with the Best and Worst of Nitro column, you know the sad state of the WCW Tag Team Championship. The Outsiders are the champions, but the Outsiders don’t actually like to wrestle, so they just hold the belts during promos and every other team competes in an endless round robin of number one contender matches. Harlem Heat’s been trying to be number one contenders for like six months. The Steiner Brothers have been number one contenders on multiple occasions, including two damn weeks before THIS number one contender match. Scott Hall tricked them into signing a contract to face Masahiro Chono and the Great Muta at Bash at the Beach because the Steiners can’t read, and again, the Outsiders really hate having to wrestle. Also, if anyone actually does wrestle them and beat them for the titles, the guy in charge of WCW is also in charge of the nWo and makes them give back the belts. So the whole process redefines “circle jerk.”
We’re in the absolute twilight of the Steiner Brothers’ career as a top tag team. They’ve stopped having good matches, which is weird because they were the dopest team in the world for like half a decade, and Scotty keeps muscularly inflating and internally demanding to be someone’s booty daddy. We’re also still in the 90s, which means the most character development any Asian guy gets on WCW TV is, “he’s EVIL, because we’re still pissed about Pearl Harbor I guess and every Japanese dude is Ming the Merciless,” so the announce team talks them up but also softly ignores them. For example, Great Muta shows up dressed like a fucking Deathlord and all they give him is Heenan saying, “nice pet!”
The Steiners win with a DDT on Muta and [Final Fantasy victory fanfare] become number one contenders. They get a shot at the tag straps at the next pay-per-view, Road Wild. Take a wild guess whether or not they leave Sturgis as Tag Team Champions.
Bobby Heenan call of the match, if this tells you anything: “Dusty, what do you think Rodman will wear in the ring?”
Best: Juventud Guerrera Lives Like He Was Dying
Up next is a lucha libre trios match pitting the “second generation dream team” of Hector Garza, Lizmark Jr. and Juventud Guerrera against Sonny Onoo’s beach-faring dream team of La Parka, Psicosis and Uno de los Villanos. With our usual suspects like Super Calo absent and Hector Garza able to hit his corkscrew plancha because there are four guys to stand in formation and catch him, it’s up to Juventud Guerrera to be bat-shit crazy and try to break his own neck five times.
I present to you a GIF I’ve titled, “Psicosis makes something up as he goes, and Juventud spends the rest of his career taking pain killers that make him insane.”
If that’s not enough … okay, so you know how sometimes in tag team matches a guy will get on all fours near the ropes, and his partner will use him as a stepping stone to somersault over the top rope to the outside? Bash at the Beach ’97 features the debut of Juventud Guerrera’s version of that, “Air Juvi,” where he ups the ante by making his partner launch him from the middle of the goddamn ring.
I remember watching this and having a panic attack about halfway through it. He’s going so fast that he ends up flopping off La Parka and rolling halfway up the ramp.
Spectacular. They also do my favorite nonsensical lucha sequence, the “everybody misses a top rope move in a row” gambit. Of course, the announce team completely buries it because Hulk Hogan is somewhere nearby and why do they have to watch dives from the middle of the ring to the floor when they could be enjoying ten minutes of stalling followed by a backrake? They openly talk about how they’re more excited for the upcoming Kevin Sullivan match, because of course they are, and Tony sends the match off with this gem: “You get to a point where you say, ‘JUST PIN SOMEBODY!’ and finally they did.”
The finish, by the way, is Villano V doing Twin Magic with Villano IV (because the referee can’t read Roman numerals) and losing anyway. That sets up the best Dusty Rhodes call of the match: “He didn’t get him, either, he just changed, he changed with his, uh, same-outfitted guy.”
We are SAME OUTFITTED GUY when the lights come up!
Worst: The End
18 months ago (!) Kevin Sullivan got mad at Arn Anderson, setting off a Four Horsemen versus Dungeon of Doom feud. Eventually that morphed into Sullivan having issues with Brian Pillman, who showed everyone how cool it would be to break kayfabe before disappearing from the company completely. So that morphed into Sullivan having issues with Chris Benoit, and trying to work in some of that cool new anti-kayfabe by booking Benoit to steal his wife, both on the show and in real life. So Benoit steals Sullivan’s wife for real, and they have a series of matches where they see who can give the other the most brain damage. They have a big blowoff street fight that ends with both of them getting stretchered off to the Local Medical Facility.
So after all of this, they officially blow off the longest-running feud in the promotion — even longer than Jeff Jarrett vs. Mongo, which lasted for a millennia — by having Sullivan put his career on the line in a beach-themed match NOT involving Sullivan’s wife, in which Sullivan loses not because of anything Benoit did, but because his new “girlfriend from the neighborhood” Jacqueline turns on him and hits him with a chair. This is after Sullivan spends almost three minutes in the Crippler Crossface without giving up.
Highlights of this match include:
- Benoit kicking Jacqueline in the crotch, then throwing her injured-crotch-first at Sullivan
- Sullivan throwing Benoit into a giant beach ball, and attacking him with surfboards
- Jimmy Hart climbing a prop lifeguard tower only for Benoit to push it over and send him falling into some tents
If all that’s not enough, Sullivan beats up Jimmy Hart after the match, turning face for some reason in retirement. So the dude booked himself in two failed Four Horsemen angles, booked a third in which a guy who couldn’t talk would steal his wife, booked a bunch of matches where he’d get to smash this guy’s head in bathroom stalls, booked himself to get a cool new black girlfriend, booked his new girlfriend to turn on him as he was about to win, then booked a face turn for himself despite him being the ABUSIVE, SATANIC LEADER OF A CULT OF MONSTERS CALLED THE DUNGEON OF DOOM.
God speed, you neighborhood emperor.
Dusty Rhodes call of the match: “Right into the palmetto bushes now!” There’s something extremely funny to me that Dusty can’t call anything during the match accurately but can properly identify the foliage.
Worst: As The Haliburton Turns
Speaking of Mongo and Jarrett,
He’s calling his wife’s vagina “chili,” isn’t he.
Hang on, give me a moment.
Okay, up next is the current longest-running angle in the promotion, United States Champion Jeff Jarrett and 1985 Super Bowl Champion Steve ‘Mongo’ McMichael as co-workers who come to blows when one of them won’t stop trying to smash the other’s wife. Or, to put it another way, when a guy won’t keep his oyster crackers out of his friend’s chili. I’ll give you three guesses how this match ends, and the first two are wrong.
You know what’s weird to me? The fact that Mongo had evolved enough as a wrestler that he could carry non-wrestlers like Reggie White and Kevin Greene to good, watchable matches, but couldn’t get anything good out of Jeff Jarrett. I don’t know if that means Jeff Jarrett is a worse wrestler than people who have literally never wrestled before or if Mongo never learned that one sub-Jerry Lawler Memphis match Jarrett does, but Mongo is straight-up better than him here. He out-wrestles him AND out-fights him. Shade Mongo all you want, but his entire wrestling career was four years. Jeff Jarrett’s been wrestling for 30.
The match ends, of course (of course) with Debra turning on Mongo. How they do it is even weirder. So Jarrett’s in control and keeps using Mongo’s finisher against him, chop blocking him a few times to set him up for the figure four. As Jarrett’s about to apply the submission and win cleanly, Debra gets on the apron with the Halliburton to distract the referee. While this is happening, Jarrett grabs the Halliburton from her and hits Mongo in the elbow. Then he hits him in the face, tosses the briefcase and pins him. Debra and Jarrett hug, as if a master plan has been executed and the metal briefcase is what got him the victory when he very clearly had everything under control without the swerve.
Welp, the groundhog got hit with a Halliburton so we’ve got six more months of Mongo vs. Jarrett. But hey, the good news is that it eventually ends with Jarrett leaving the company, and Mongo technically getting a pay-per-view win over Bill Goldberg. Hooray!
Dusty Rhodes call of the match: “I’ll tell ya what. That move right there. There’s been a lot of tape watchin’ by Mongo Mac-Michaels. That move there.”
Worst: Heterosexual Men In Their Prime
If you haven’t been reading the column, I’m not sure I can type enough words to explain the feud between Ric Flair, a man so heterosexual his penis is named after a roller coaster at Disneyland, and Rowdy Roddy Piper, a man who wants us to please understand that he’s just as heterosexual, he swears. To skip the end, Flair’s been having a bunch of random women in ballgowns show up to call a Roddy Piper mannequin a limp-dick, and Piper responded by angrily getting at Flair’s genitals.
At Bash at the Beach (pictured above), Piper tried to pull down the front of Flair’s trunks. People are always pulling down the back of Flair’s trunks to expose his butt and leave him more susceptible to sunset flips, but nobody goes for the front. Flair responds to this by punching Piper in the dick. When Flair’s in trouble, he (1) pulls “brass knuckles” from the font of his trunks, which seems like a pretty clear metaphor, and (2) gets his cuckold friend Steve McMichael to 69 Piper to death.
This angle would make Sigmund Freud throw himself off the Hell in a Cell.
The other thing about any Rowdy Roddy Piper angle is that despite him being an out-of-shape man in his forties with a replacement hip, he can beat up anyone, in any size group, by himself. He fought the entire nWo by himself for months, and now here he no-sells a tombstone, dodges a Chris Benoit headbutt to make him look like an idiot, shrugs off several low blows, gets out of a figure four and puts Flair to sleep to win. It’s MADDENING. Imagine if 58-year old hillbilly comedian Jeff Foxworthy suddenly got an NFL contract and was just plowing through guys, scoring touchdowns and slurring everybody. That’s Piper’s WCW run.
The Dusty Rhodes call of the match puts it another way: “Yeah, I don’t buy that thing that, they’re, that somebody is past their prime or whatever. THEY ARE IN THEIR PRIME!”
Worst: Diamond Dallas Page Makes A Great Decision
When it came time for Diamond Dallas Page to choose a mystery opponent for his tag team match against Scott Hall and the Macho Man Randy Savage, he had the bright idea to enlist the help of a semi-retired, injured wrestler who:
- hadn’t wrestled since the fall of 1993
- was now almost five years older and about 20 pounds heavier
- had been semi-retired all this time due to injury
- is friends with the bad guys
- said on Nitro that he has no allegiances and is a free agent
- just left the rival promotion after pretending to be a babyface’s mentor just to trick him and help the heels win
That’s definitely a better choice than Sting, the guy who hates the nWo and wants to attack them with a baseball bat. Anyway, what’s supposed to happen here is a beat-up Page is supposed to be hanging on the ropes trying to recover as Hennig gets whipped into them. That’s supposed to low-bridge him and send him tumbling to the outside, where he’d get mad, throw hands at Page and walk out. Instead, Page doesn’t go far enough in on the ropes to pull them down, and Hennig “goes over the rope” by like, jumping backwards into it with his spine, falling down and having to get kicked out under the bottom. He turns on Page anyway, because Jesus Christ, dude, how did you not see that coming?
The best part of this whole thing is that on Nitro Hennig says he hasn’t joined the nWo and is still a free agent, leading Ric Flair to once again ask him to join the Four Horsemen and help him fight the nWo. And then he’s like, “we’re having a match where we’re locked in a cage with a bunch of bad guys you’re friends with, wanna be on our War Games team?” AND NOBODY TELLS HIM THIS IS A BAD IDEA.
I think when Sting went up in the rafters he accidentally crop-dusted arenas with that gullibility pheromone he emits.
Best: Dennis Rodman For Best Of The Super Juniors
The best Hulk Hogan matches are the ones that aren’t technically good (because no Hogan match ever is “technically good”), but are so surrounded by crowd response and spectacle that they become fun to watch. See also WrestleMania 3, which is one of the worst matches of all time but also the most famous, or WrestleMania X-8. Or the title switch with Goldberg. Hogan does almost nothing, and the crowd does the heavy lifting for him. He also did this with promos late in his career, where he’d just stand there waiting for the next round of applause.
This is one of those. It’s a 20 minute match that’s actually about four minutes long if you take away all the stalling and posturing. It’s built around Hogan taking like, two bumps in seven minutes to set up a very cold hot tag to Rodman, who despite being a basketball star who has never wrestled before is basically twice as good at wrestling as everyone else involved. Here he is popping the ENTIRE ARENA with an arm drag.
He also does a leap frog and a shoulderblock, helps Hogan double hip-toss the Giant, makes the Giant look super not 7-foot-4 by looking him in the eye the entire match, and oversells the faces offense just enough to make it look like anything they do could break him in half. He takes a hip-toss and immediately rolls out of the ring and has to be consoled by like four guys. It’s GREAT. If the show had been Dennis Rodman vs. Glacier they would’ve tore the house down.
Don’t let me compliment a WCW main event for too long, though, because “Sting” comes to the ring and hits The Giant with a baseball bat. The announce team asks if Sting “hit the wrong man” or maybe he’s joined the nWo despite Sting STEPPING OVER THE TOP ROPE TO ENTER THE RING AND ALSO BEING SEVEN FEET TALL WITH A BEARD.
Virgil could run and splash a guy in the corner and Tony Schiavone would wonder if Sting had actually shaved his head and become a black man and joined the nWo. The good news is that Giant-Sized Sting #1 is only a red herring for the finish, as Luger channels his World War 3 rage and Torture Racks everybody for the (rare) WCW victory. First Hogan, then Rodman, then Macho. Rodman’s face in the Torture Rack is practically Laurinaitis in nature:
This sets up arguably Lex Luger’s last run as a serious main event threat, culminating in Luger’s emotional victory over Hogan on Nitro that would change EVERYTHING*.
*for six days until Hogan won the title back via a guy dressed like Sting showing up and hitting Lex with a bat
And that’s Bash at the Beach 1997. A year after changing the game with a pivotal moment in wrestling history, Hulk Hogan and a basketball guy lose a tag team match, the announce team is still being fooled by anyone dressed as Sting, and the Four Horsemen are the stupidest people in the entire world. But that Glacier match was dope, y’all.
See you next week for WCW Monday Nitro and all the fallout from Bash at the Beach except for Hogan, who takes another week off. But at least the show gets a poorly trained dance troupe!