The Best And Worst Of WCW Monday Nitro 8/4/97: Keepin’ It 100


Previously on the Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro: Larry Zbyszko finally stopped being the world’s most spineless hypocrite and stood up to Eric Bischoff, dragging him to the ring to get chokeslammed by The Giant. Alex Wright is the new Cruiserweight Champion, Curt Hennig is definitely not in the New World Order, and Lex Luger is “peaking” for Sturgis. Spoiler alert: he peaks too early.

Click here to watch this week’s episode on WWE Network. You can catch up with all the previous episodes of WCW Monday Nitro on the Best and Worst of Nitro tag page. Follow along with the competition here.

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And now …

Best: 100 Episodes Of Nitro

We’ve finally reached the landmark 100th episode of WCW Monday Nitro, originally aired on August 4, 1997. That also means I’ve now officially written up 100 episodes of Nitro, starting the beginning with episode one from way back in September of ’95. Technically I’ve only written up 99 episodes, though, because WCW’s “100” includes the audio-only “Saturday Nitro,” broadcast on WCWwrestling.com on June 28. Man, only WCW could have a three-hour celebration of 100 episodes of Nitro and do it on episode 99.

Here’s to 100 more. In case you’re wondering, episode 200 — aired in July of 1999 — is dramatically different. Ric Flair’s making a bunch of bad decisions, Sting is unhappy with management, Dennis Rodman’s supposed to wrestle soon and Hulk Hogan is the Heavyweight Champion. Crazy the difference two years can make.

Best: Silver Bails

WCW decided to make this episode three hours long, but much like, say, Raw in 2017, they don’t actually know how to fill that much time. So there’s a lot of “… and now LUCHADORES, I guess!” My favorite of those matches, because of course it is, is Glacier and Ernest Miller vs. Silver King and Damien. How can the Mortal Kombat ice ninja and his leopard-print karate champion friend hope to defeat the son of the Devil and the KING OF ALL SILVER? [Lucha Underground bwomp]

In case you haven’t read our longform piece on Ray Lloyd and watched the accompanying video, Glacier secretly ruled hard and is never better than when he’s murdering Mexican wrestlers with karate. Remember when he legally manslaughtered Lizmark Jr.? Remember when he kicked Ciclope so hard he turned him inside out? Here he is turning Silver King into a Copper Pauper:

Glaishe and Ernie pick up the win here when Glacier distracts Damien with POSSIBLE KARATE, long enough for The Cat to bounce around on the ropes for several seconds and kick dude’s teeth through the back of his neck. And that’s good enough for this week’s People Who Snow Use ValvolineĀ®.

(That’s my favorite joke I’ve ever written.)

Worst: Who Bettah Than Hennig?

Glacier’s blood rival Mortis doesn’t fare as well, because he’s up against the scowling, soaking-wet M.U.S.C.L.E. figurine that is 1997 Curt Hennig.

This is one of those matches that would probably be incredible if anyone realized it at the time and thought to give them time and a story. It’s basically the two best — or at least “most pronounced” — bumpers on the show. It’s just a shame that Hennig is still borderline retired, even when he’s actively wrestling, and can’t seem to go more than three minutes even when he’s in a tag.

Hennig doesn’t do Mort any favors here, knocking out James Vandenberg and winning with a Perfect Plex from relatively out of nowhere. Which makes sense, because you want the nWo sleeper agent who won’t stop attacking the crowd’s favorite wrestler from behind to use big, sweeping babyface tropes like punching out a heel manager. Honestly, nothing Hennig does during this brief time of relevancy in WCW makes any sense.

Best-ish: The Greats Of Wrath

Wrath does better than Mortis, but it’s another match that should’ve been way better than it is. He takes on The Barbarian, and what should be an epic, disconcertingly stiff clash of hosses is just kind of a jobber squash to set up another match. Wrath catches Barb off the ropes and sends him to the Upside-Down with the Death Penalty. Meng shows up to keep Wrath from doing further damage, and we get a staredown.

And even that’s kind of a bummer, because we just used up all of Meng’s “scary monster” points on the Chris Benoit/Dungeon of Doom feud. Every few years Meng decides to get overpowered for a few months, usually involving him wearing dress clothes or sunglasses, and you can tell he’s getting a push because someone attacks him with a wooden chair. If they break a wooden chair over him, he means business. If he’s in blue skull pants getting into half-cooked beef with a War Gods character because the guy pinned his 700-year old tag team partner, not so much.

Another Week, Another Raven Segment

No one will be seated during the “Raven gets offered a contract” scene!

I’m not even sure what to say about them at this point. This is the same bit we’ve seen half a dozen times already. Raven’s in the front row, Mean Gene wants to talk to him. Raven won’t say anything, so Stevie Richards comes out and says “RAVEN IS A WRESTLER!” That makes Raven mad, Raven humiliates Stevie. Really the only difference this week is that Stevie briefly stands up to him. Raven doesn’t show up at Road Wild or the Nitro after this, and only shows up the week after that to interfere in Stevie’s match. He doesn’t actually have a match until the Clash of the Champions after that.

Best: Walk Up In The Club Like

I’d finish that song lyric, but Mean Gene Okerlund makes this week’s contractually obligated Alex Wright dick joke for me:

Me talk English? That’s unpossible!

Alex Wright defends the Cruiserweight Championship against Scotty Riggs, who is pushing at least 260 at this point. The guy is made of muscle. I mean, Alex Wright is made of muscle too, but only one. Okay, you get an extra one this week.

Wright will defend the strap against the former champion, Chris Jericho, at Road Wild. They can’t call it “Hog Wild” this year, because every show with Alex Wright on it is hog wild.

Best: Speaking Of Road Wild

One of the funniest things happening on this episode is the announce team suddenly realizing kids might be tuning in to a pay-per-view at a bike rally and, worst case scenario, will hear a bunch of racist slurs and see an errant titty. This causes them to give repeated warnings about how OUT OF CONTROL the “adult-themed pay-per-view” will be. All that really does is make me wish they’d done a Spring Break Nitro from a strip club.

The funniest warning is from Mike Tenay, who has DEFINITELY never seen a boob. Listen as Iron Mike tries to explain what will happen without the word “tits” or the phrase “the n-word.” “Well I certainly remember last year, and Road Wild has so many extra aspects besides the wrestling! All the great surroundings! All the riders! All the motorcyclists, and all the people along with those motorcyclists as well!” If you added “sad” to the end of that, it could be a Donald Trump tweet.

Note: I am using this as a reason to not talk about Public Enemy vs. High Voltage, which is seriously happening on the 100th episode of Nitro.

Worst: This Version Of The Bronco Buster

The regular Bronco Buster is pretty embarrassing for everyone involved, but this version as seen in this epsiode’s Syxx vs. Chris Benoit match is especially heinous. Watch:

If you can’t figure out what’s going on there, Benoit’s hanging in the Tree Of Woe (like he does) and Syxx is smashing his dick into Benoit’s dick. Just mashing them together good. I don’t know who it’s supposed to hurt or what it’s supposed to accomplish, but if he tried that against Alex Wright he would’ve ended up in the hospital with a shattered pelvis.

In a rare moment of journalism from the Best and Worst of Nitro, I actually reached out to Syxx himself, Sean Waltman, to explain the spot. Here’s what he had to say:

“Oh, yeah. You know what happened? It was banned. The Bronco Buster was banned at the time. [TNT] Standards and Practices said it was lewd and lascivious. They told Eric [Bischoff], and Eric told me. So, being me, I’m going to figure out loopholes, and ways to get away with still doing shit. So I was trying different things.

“I don’t know what I was thinking right there. When you’re working with Benoit, a lot of it’s just kind of ad-libbing. Because you can’t really call a lot of shit ahead of time with Benoit. He was not good at that. So that just kind of ended up happening.

“I’m not 100 percent sure. My memory’s a little sketchy on it, but I think a lot of it just came off spontaneous. The way it ended up and we were dick to dick, but if I had done it correctly, I would have landed my ass on the bottom turnbuckle, and then we would have ended up 69ing each other. Neither one is really very good, is it?

“Something like that happened with Jericho, too. When Jericho came to WWE, he was really adamant on doing this spot, and it ended up like that, and afterwards, he was like, ‘Oh, that fuckin’ sucked.'”

The match ends when Jeff Jarrett attacks Benoit from behind and Mongo rushes out to make the save, which is also a lot like dicks touching.

Worst: Taint Misbehavin’

Earlier in the night, Jarrett and his new best friend Dean Malenko team up against Hector Guerrero and Chavo Guerrero Jr., who I’m going to call “Lose Guerreros.”

Hector is normally a pretty good wrestler, but man, he could not handle being on Nitro. The last time we saw him he was almost killing himself by trying to catch the top rope with both hands and missing, and this week he wrestles as though his character is “man who is wrestling for the first time.” He’ll punch the heel in the corner, then turn and start taunting the guy’s opponent with his back turned, and it’s like, dude, have you ever watched a wrestling match before? He’s going to hit you from behind. And then he “goes for a hurricanrana,” which is less going for a hurricanrana and more “comfortably putting yourself in position to get electric chaired.” It’s weird.

Anyway, Malenko taps him out to the Texas Cloverleaf to continue the honestly pretty confusing feud between the babyface family of wrestlers having to cover for their heel relative who isn’t around and a heel teaming with a face because the heel needs protection from different heels and the face needs backup against different faces. Or something. I kinda miss when they’d just hit each other with a suitcase every week.

1-800-COL-RADO

Lee Marshall calls in from the Buffalo Bill Museum to, in a rare moment, insult Bobby Heenan for being a weasel. The funny part here is that it’s not just a museum, it’s the Buffalo Bill Museum and grave, so imagine Stagger Lee like, sprawled out on a cowboy’s grave, calling in to a wrestling show to tell one of his co-workers he hates him.

Best/Worst: You Can’t Keep It 100 Without Konnan

Last week, Konnan more or less made La Parka seem worthless after WCW spent weeks and arguably months accidentally turning him into a cult favorite. This week, Konnan gets basically the same squash match against Psicosis, a guy who has competed for the Television and Cruiserweight Championships on this show, because I guess he’s taking a hard-line “I brought you into this world and I can take you out” stance.

I’m giving it a half Best, though, for the post-match angle. A few weeks ago, Rey Mysterio Jr. returned on crutches to announce that he’d be letting his leg heal “the natural way,” which for most of us means, “sitting at home pretending nothing’s wrong so you don’t have to pay hospital bills and just having a shitty leg for the rest of your life.” Konnan showed up, pushed him around and kicked away his crutches. If it weren’t for the courage of the fearless Villanos, the minnow would’ve been lost.

This week, Rey shows up on crutches again to stick up for Psicosis. It’s a real “Superman teams up with Lex Luthor” situation. Konnan tries to humiliate him again, but Rey reveals that whoops, it turns out he’s fine, and he’s here to beat K-Dogg to death with one of the crutches. This sets up the MEXICAN GRUDGE DEATH MATCH at Road Wild, which is almost an actual match stipulation.

Best: Tony Schiavone Is Sleeping On The Couch Tonight

I don’t think there’s ever been a more “Hooters patrons falling in love with a Hooters waitress and thinks she’s being nice to them because she’s into them, too,” moment on Nitro than Tony Schiavone, Mike Tenay and Bobby Heenan thinking they’re getting laid because the Nitro Girls have decided to horribly pop and/or lock at the announce table.

Bobby Heenan getting up to “dance” and just awkwardly clapping his hands a few times before sitting down is the closest I’ve ever come to siding with Lee Marshall on something. And for real, I’m gonna guess Mike Tenay’s sexual preference is stuck somewhere between flower pollination and vegetative propagation. He’s like an actual turtle that found a man’s suit and got an announcing gig in a Chicken Boo scenario.

Worst: POWER STRUGGLEZ

In one of two (2) Eric Bischoff promos during this episode, Easy E shows up to (1) threaten to sue the Giant if he touches him again, (2) threaten to sue Larry Zbyszko if he touches him again, and (3) introduce the classic “Eric Bischoff threatens you with his deep knowledge of the martial arts” trope. Watch out for the back leg front kick! He’s so talented he can kick you in the FRONT with the BACK. He also pokes James J. Dillon between the eyes, because WCW’s favorite storyline is the power struggle between two guys who have all or none of the power depending on the moment. I don’t think they ever clearly established a hierarchy. Bischoff runs the nWo and WCW, but Dillon also runs WCW, except he doesn’t because there’s an Executive Committee that can push them both around. Unless Bischoff doesn’t want them to, or whatever. Sure, this is all fine.

And The Rest!

Let’s just burn through the rest of the filler on this episode, shall we?

The epic Harlem Heat vs. Virgil feud continues this week with Booker T squashing Vincent in about a minute, then sticking around after the match to beat him up 2-on-1. I don’t think you can trust Virgil to go for more than 60 seconds in 1997. The highlight is Stevie Ray cutting a post-match promo and doing that thing where he gets too close to the camera and spits all over it. Pretty sure kids in Harlem run through Stevie Ray’s speech during the summer to stay cool.

Los Villanos defeat Lizmark Jr. and Hector Garza, because seriously, WCW had three hours to fill and a large chunk of this show just becomes WCW Saturday Night with dancing girls. The Villanos win using Twin Magic, which would be a lot more effective if they didn’t put giant Roman numerals on their thighs.

Finally we have The Giant squashing three dudes. His opponents are:

Giant squashes them in the style of his pretend father and cuts dueling promos with Macho Man Randy Savage to add hype to the Road Wild match they’re apparently having. I really feel like these Nitro reports would get greater context if WWE Network would hurry up and add Saturday Night and Worldwide to the archives. Worst case we’d have about 200 times more Blood Runs Cold coverage.

The Sting segment is also pretty much useless, as J.J. offers him a contract for a match against Curt Hennig and Sting tears it up. I think the best part of the bit is that even Dillon knows Curt Hennig’s in the damn nWo. You’d think he’d have connections to the Four Horsemen and could give them a heads up.

Ron Howard Voice: “He Doesn’t”

I’ve got to applaud this match for at least attempting to add some context to Hennig’s deal. So the guy hates Diamond Dallas Page for accidentally partially pulling down a ring rope when he shouldn’t have at Bash at the Beach and can’t stop attacking him about it. Flair is thirsty AF to add Hennig to the Four Horsemen, and while Hennig still claims to be a free agent, he shakes Flair’s hand before his match.

Meanwhile, Diamond Dallas Page feels bad about the Four Horsemen immediately jumping on Hennig’s dick instead of, you know, asking the most stalwart and successfully anti-nWo guy in the company, Diamond Dallas Page, to join the group. It’s not that he wants to be a Horseman, necessarily, he just wants to be asked. He wants to be important. It’s the same reason he didn’t join the nWo. They didn’t ask him to until they already had like eight guys on the team.

So Page has an issue with Flair, and they wrestle. Hennig shows up and tries to cost Page the match again with the dreaded WCW WAD OF TAPE OF DOOM, but Page fights him off. Flair cheats his ass off anyway, so Hennig and Flair end up on the same bad side of DDP whether they’re actually aligned together or not. That’s a nice and surprisingly self-aware story wrinkle. Usually the most cohesive thing Nitro does is have all the cartoon villains that hate Hulk Hogan living in one mountain fortress with no hot water.

Best: The Einsteiners

The other extremely non-nWo guys, the Steiner Brothers, have a “bombshell” to drop on the nWo: only five days before Road Wild, they’ve enlisted former nWo impresario Ted DiBiase to manage them. DiBiase knows all of Hall and Nash’s secrets, so who better to finally put them over the top in a Tag Team Championship match?

Of course, Hall and Nash show up with actual mic charisma and burn the entire group to the ground. Hall calls DiBiase “pumpkin head,” which is hilarious and accurate — I’ve got a big head, and DiBiase’s is at least four times the size of mine — and they claim the Steiners only brought him on so they’d have someone who could read the menus when they’re on the road. The Steiner Brothers as Les IncompĆ©tents who can barely function as humans but are great at suplexes is forever one of my favorite character descriptions.

And speaking of Scott Steiner …

Man, Kuato looked weird in 1997.

Best: Flexy Lexy Cashes Chexy

When Hulk Hogan attempts to have a “good” match, it’s always this one. It’s about 20 minutes long, with the first 15 devoted to people either powdering and stalling (when he’s a heel) or making puffy-lipped googly-eye faces at each other (when he’s a face). See also Hogan vs. Andre or Hogan vs. Rock. The crowd is usually SUPER into these matches, and they often have great historical significance, but they’re also … you know, Hulk Hogan matches. So the most athletic thing you’re gonna see is a back rake.

Luger’s about to win, so the nWo runs to the ring. Nobody’s better at fending off multiple nWo members than Lex Luger, so he dispatches Hall, Nash and Macho Man, all without the referee stopping the match. He eventually manages to get Hogan up in the Torture Rack and by God, wins the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. Five days before the pay-per-view where he was supposed to win, because WCW needed something special for the 100th episode. Even though the actual 100th episode is the one AFTER Road Wild. Hogan even does his best to nerf the title change right out of the gate, too, telegraphing it at the top of the show by saying he’d go on to face SCOTT HALL at Road Wild if he won. The guy in the tag title match.

It’s weird, and it doesn’t end well, but it’s an exciting and memorable moment. The crowd eats it the hell up. Luger, in perhaps his greatest moment in 20 years of wrestling, celebrates by holding the title upside down.

And on the way out, he accidentally smashes Giant in the face with it.

Good luck at Road Wild, Lex. Try not to let any Adult Situations distract you.

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