The Best And Worst Of WCW Monday Nitro 4/7/97: Crane Games

Previously on the Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro: We took a look at Spring Stampede 1997, the pay-per-view where Booker T accidentally calls Hulk Hogan the n-word. Really that’s the most historically important moment. Please go watch that promo and laugh 100 more times.

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.

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 the wrestling boy band befriends an MMA fighter and they get into feuds based around people stealing and using their dancing circles.

And now, the Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro for April 7, 1997.

Worst: It Is Extremely Important To Know How The nWo Feels

The above picture is a shot from Lord Steven Regal vs. Rey Mysterio Jr.

On the previous episode, Hollywood Hogan, Eric Bischoff and … I don’t know, Big Bubba? Chono? went to the world premiere of Dennis Rodman’s new-in-1997 Jean-Claude Van Damme theater-banger Double Team instead of going to Nitro. That left Kevin Nash alone (or with Syxx, which is also “alone”) to deal with the nWo’s biggest pro wrestling-related problems, such as the car manslaughter revenge of the Steiner Brothers, Nick Patrick’s increasing inability to perform his duties as a crooked referee, and keeping Michael Wallstreet happy. This pissed off Nash something fierce, so at Spring Stampede Nash got Scott Steiner jailed, put Rick Steiner in the Ear Hospital and powerbombed Patrick for counting a couple of threes he didn’t want to count. Meanwhile, Macho Man Randy Savage got pushed from wanky indifference to UNSTOPPABLE RAGE thanks to a loss to Diamond Dallas Page, tried to hit Page’s wife and ended up smacking Eric Bischoff instead.

This Monday, the nWo basically has two choices:

1. They can fall apart, allowing their extremely popular, industry-changing storyline to come to its logical conclusion at the proper time, or

2. They can rewrite everything on the fly so the nWo is totally fine and drag this out for another six months, when they’ll be forced to make one of these two choices again.

Yes, the nWo is basically the United States Congress. “We have the option of fixing this now or just pretending it doesn’t exist and fixing it later.” They even both pander to Wallstreet! I am a great writer!

Rey Mysterio wins by disqualification. Up next is Chris Benoit vs. Ice Train. Here’s a picture:

Well, at least we get to watch part of it on the split-screen.

The entire first hour of the show is basically Tony Schiavone going, “Okay, wrestling fans, there appears to be some sort of wrestling happening in the ring, but don’t worry, we’re going to keep an eye on the bathrooms and if Scott Flash Norton takes a shit at any point during hour number one, we’ll send a camera man back there to make sure to capture all the action.”

The point of Chris Benoit vs. Ice Train is that Hollywood Hogan is telling Kevin Nash that without Nash being nWo 4 Life™, the WCW Championship belt means nothing. Randy Savage is on crutches and basically trying to kill everyone in the room by tensing up until the sweat shoots out of his face like lasers. The nWo is going to either “do the thing right now” — one of those statements Hogan makes that aren’t sexual but sound SUPER sexual, like how he calls lifting weights with his friends “hanging and banging” — or they’re 4 Life™. We’ll find out in the ring at the end of hour number one.

Chris Benoit wins with a DDT.

Also, uh, green?

After Benoit vs. the Polar Express, we check out a video package of what Hollywood Hogan and the nWo were actually doing at the Double Team premiere. Hogan explains that Rodman’s in the nWo because they want to “have fun and make a lot of money,” and Rodman explains (more or less) that he’s better than Ric Flair because wears gold robes AND bathes himself in body glitter, so he physically looks like jewelry. Hogan also brags to JCVD about hooking up with Dennis Rodman’s sister, which is exactly as awkward as you’d imagine:

I wonder if Brooke Hogan had any thoughts on it.

This really goes on forever. I’m so sorry.

At the end of hour number one — I really can’t stop saying it like Tony — the nWo comes out in two groups. The first, led by Hollywood Hogan, which we’ll call the “nWo Black & White.” The second is led by Kevin Nash, so we’ll call them the “nWo Wolfpac.” Just coming up with these names off the top of my head. Ted DiBiase takes on the role of moderator, explaining the situation between Hogan and Nash, explaining the situation between Savage and Bischoff, and expounding on the idea that the nWo will either break up and fight each other right now, or patch up their differences and remain nWo 4 Life™. After that, Hogan takes the microphone and says all of the exact same things. It’s like when you make a joke at a party and nobody laughs, and then a cooler person says it five minutes later and everybody loves it.

Hogan tells Nash the same stuff he told him in the cutaway from Benoit vs. Snowpiercer: if Nash isn’t nWo 4 Life™, the nWo Heavyweight Championship means nothing, and he and The Big Man need to Do The Thing right here, right now. Nash is like, “I know I’ve spent the past two weeks angrily complaining about there being a problem, but there’s no problem. It’s fine.” Hogan repeats himself again and preps like he’s about to fight. Nash clarifies, and I’m paraphrasing, but just barely: “When you’re nWo, you’re nWo 4 Life™. I told you I was nWo 4 Life™ when we started the nWo and my life has continued, therefore I am still 4 Life™ and henceforth nWo.” They Too Sweet it, Nash says Rodman is great, and that’s it.

If you think that’s underwhelming, they take forever to get through the Nash/Hogan stuff so the Savage/Bischoff stuff is like two sentences long. Savage looks like he wants to kill somebody, but then is like, “YOU’RE ON PROBATION WITH ME, I’M ON PROBATION WITH YOU, HOW DOES THAT SOUND,” and Bischoff says, “sounds good to me” and Too Sweets him. AND THAT’S IT. An entire episode of Nitro, an entire pay-per-view and another hour of Nitro featuring multiple cutaways, multiple video packages, a movie premiere recap and a 15-man promo to say, “everything’s fine.”



So at the end of hour number two, Diamond Dallas Page shows up with an ice pack draped around him like a bandolier to announce that he’s going to literally murder Randy Savage for putting his hands on Kimberly. Savage crutches out to receive a murdering, but Hollywood stops him and says this one’s “on him.” That brings out the entire nWo. Before Page is asked to fight them all off, Sting shows up in an elaborate zip-line to bungee apparatus to like, swoop into the arena AND drop in on people.

Here it is in action. I’m guessing the thing that made Sting super religious is God saving him from falling on his ass when he hits the ground:

The nWo is scared to death of the Human Claw Machine that is Sting, and Sting and Page are able to hold them off with baseball bats until TV time expires. The best part of all of this is when Sting no-look-passes a baseball bat to Page. Pretty sure I talked about how cool that moment was for years.

And that’s our show for this week. Join us next week for-

Wait, that’s not everything that happened? [shuffles papers] All right, let’s write another 2,000 words about Prince Iaukea.


As mentioned, Rey Mysterio Jr. defeated Lord Steven Regal in a five-minute match with like 40 seconds of actual wrestling shown when Regal gets him in the Regal Stretch, Mysterio reaches the ropes, and Regal refuses to break the hold. If you don’t remember, Regal has been slowly breaking over the past few weeks, evolving from mild-mannered “oh my” face-maker to cold-hearted, culturally insensitive leg-twister and face-palmer. Palming YOUR face, not his.

When Regal won’t break the hold, Prince Iaukea squat-walks out and gets immediately thrown at the ground and Regal Stretched himself. Regal is AMAZING here, mugging for the camera as he bends Prince in half and emotionlessly handing him in the eye socket over and over.

Unfortunately for Prince, he’s scheduled to defend the Television Championship against Ultimo Dragon later in the night. Guess how well he does there?

If you said, “honestly too well, considering he’s supposed to be injured but sucks ass at selling, and Ultimo Dragon should’ve been able to This Is Sparta kick a 100% healthy Prince Iaukea in the chest once and turn him to dust,” congratulations, you’ve been reading the Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro. But yeah, enough is enough and Prince finally, finally loses the title belt he should’ve never gotten within farting distance of in the first place. The reign ends with the perfect imagery of Dragon kicking Prince in the ribs, walking around in the ring for a few seconds, then nonchalantly pinning him.

Note: Prince Iaukea won the Television Championship because the WWF had unexpectedly put their Intercontinental Championship on Rocky Maivia. Maivia would go on to be a 10-time World Champion, a 2-time Intercontinental Champion, a 5-time Tag Team Champion, a Royal Rumble winner, a 5-time WrestleMania main-eventer, a beloved celebrity outside of pro wrestling and the biggest box-office movie star in the world. Iaukea wouldn’t get another title run until 2000, when he was doing a Prince Rogers Nelson gimmick and WCW had run out of cruiserweights people gave a shit about.

Best: This Random-Ass Tag Team

The show opens with the Dungeon of Doom taking on my new favorite tag team, Alex Wright and Psicosis, aka HORNY PACKAGE. Nobody calls them that, they have no reason to be teaming beyond a “last two not picked for the team” scenario and I’m pretty sure they never team up again, but in my head I’m going to Mandela Effect an alternate reality where they show up to next week’s Nitro in suspenders as the International Males. Can you imagine a Dicks’d-out Psicosis with Andrade Cien Almas’ body and a Psicosis head? Tell me you wouldn’t cheer for that guy.

The Dungeon of Doom beats them, of course, because nobody checked the expiration date on the sour fucking milk that was that angle. I wish in like, 1998 they’d hard-cut to the Dungeon’s villainous mountain base to find The Master in his underwear watching Spin City while a giant Himalayan ice mummy vacuums in the background.

Worst: Lee Marshall Is Just Straight-Up Calling Bobby Heenan Names Now

I was going to explain what led up to this joke, but I think I’m going to leave it without the context. Enjoy trying to figure out why Lee Marshall though it’d be an ice burn to write erotic fiction about Bobby Heenan trying to comment on aquatic travel equipment and accidentally sex-offending a bunch of deaf Philadelphians.

Worst: Speaking Of The Dungeon Of Doom

The Taskmaster Kevin Sullivan utilizes his Neighborhood Girlfriend’s inhuman ability to pick up 175-pound men and immediately drop them to defeat Hector Guerrero. Since there’s not much to say about it, let’s imagine another 1998 cutaway to the Dungeon mountain to The Master accidentally hearing Nicole Wray’s ‘Make It Hot’ on the radio and not knowing what to do about his water.

Best: The Man Of 1,000 Pissed-Off Strikes

Dean Malenko was already mad at Eddie Guerrero for what he was perceiving as a heel turn, and then the Dungeon of Doom randomly helped Eddie lift Malenko’s United States Championship during a match with Chris Benoit at Spring Stampede. So now Malenko is OUT FOR BLOOD, and poor pre-Crisis Lionheart Chris Jericho has to deal with it.

This is one of the best 3-minute Nitro matches ever, which is a bizarre thing to have a list of, but we work with what we’ve got. The best part is that Malenko wins with a punt to the face, which is the least Dean Malenko thing you can imagine. Jericho vs. Malenko would, of course, go on to be (in my opinion) the greatest cruiserweight feud in the history of the company. Note: It did not involve the Dungeon of Doom, or some funny imagined scenario where the Taskmaster would be, say, checking his mail, getting upset about a package he expected to be delivered and finding out they’d sent it to the White Castle of Fear.

Worst: Public Enemy Are The Dumbest Losers

Next week’s Raw is in Philadelphia and the WWF has had some success having Extreme Championship Wrestling stars invade their show, so finally by April WCW is like, “we should probably do something extreme, too.” Their idea: have Public Enemy lose to HIGH VOLTAGE, a team that couldn’t beat the goddamn Mod Squad on their best day, to set up a Philadelphia Street Fight for next week.

I know that’s just the closed caption guy doing shorthand for “back,” but maybe he’s reading their minds and know they really mean they’re going to Burger King. Anyway, Johnny Grunge really sells this match by saying Public Enemy is going to, “put the E in ‘excitement’ in WCW.” First of all, “excitement” has three Es. Secondly, the word “excitement” does not appear in WCW or World Championship Wrestling. That sounds like a burn but I’m being literal. Thirdly, did dude for real forget what the E stood for in ECW? Did he think he used to wrestle in Excitement Championship Wrestling?

Rocco tries to save it by saying they “might have to get a little extreme,” which I take as code for, “we’ll do the same loosey-goosey table spots we always do, but we’ll wear jeans.” Grunge joins in. This is one of those interviews where you can tell Mean Gene wants to throw to commercial like five seconds into it, but people keep yanking the microphone into their face to continue.

Worst: As The Haliburton Turns

At Spring Stampede, the “on the same page” Four Horsemen-ish team of Steve ‘Mongo’ McMichael and Jeff ‘Dongo’ Jarrett lost to the aforementioned Public Enemy, the guys who just lost to High Voltage, when Rocco grabbed Mongo’s Haliburton briefcase and smashed Jarrett in the back with it. Mongo is excitemently upset at Jarrett for this, and no-shows his scheduled Nitro tag against the only team with worse match finishes, Harlem Heat.

The body of the match is Jarrett having to go it alone, because it’s not like he’s on a professionally organized team with four other guys in it, and Harlem Heat basically beating him to death. Mongo wanders out near the end to take the hot tag, cleans house on members of Harlem Heat, then just tags Jarrett back in to take the loss. Yes, Mongo just did the Desperado Joe Gomez turn on the Renegade after like two years of me calling him the Pokemon evolution of Desperado Joe Gomez.

After the match, Jarrett and Mongo argue about what happened. At no point does Mongo just scream YA SHOULDAIN’T-A FUCKED MY WIFE to end it.

If you’re wondering what Ric Flair was up to during all of this, let’s end this week’s report with some of the weirdest shit you’ll ever see.

Worst: Humpy Old Men

The last time we saw Ric Flair on Nitro, he was trying to get Roddy Piper to join the Four Horsemen (which already features five guys and two women) by hooking him up with local moms. This week, they ask Piper how it went. His answer: he got a piece of paper allowing him to get out of the asylum, and now SHE’S in the asylum. Correct me if I’m wrong, but did Roddy Piper make this lady lock herself in Alcatraz for a week before she could have sex with him?

Anyway, at Spring Stampede, Flair announced that he was going to team up with Piper and Kevin Greene, the football player he had a tag team match with and defeated after paying off his tag team partner to turn on him via a deadly metal briefcase full of money, to take on some trio of New World Order guys at SLAM JAMBOREE 1997. Greene is basically Mojo Rawley’s dad. He’s like an excited puppy in Mr. Incredible’s body. He’s happy to be here with the “frickin’ icon, man,” and the threesome celebrates by jogging in place and hitting each other. I’m not kidding.

At one point it gets so ridiculous that Flair just waves it off and bails.

And that’s this week’s Nitro. The bad guys can’t get along and have agreed to fake it. The good guys all hate each other, and the ones who don’t should, they just can’t remember why. Join us next week as Lenny Lane gets a title shot, Debra McMichael and Sister Sherri execute the worst finish in the history of Bad Finishes, and WCW takes things to the EXCITEMENT.