Previously on the Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro: The nWo started falling apart because half of them wanted to go to the world premiere of Dennis Rodman’s new Jean-Claude Van Damme movie, and half wanted to stay at Nitro and make sure M. Wallstreet was happy. Also, a tournament began for a WCW Women’s Cruiserweight Championship you’re never going to see or hear mentioned again.
Click here to watch this pay-per-view 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.
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And now, the Best and Worst of WCW Spring Stampede for April 6, 1997.
Worst: Lee Marshall Investigates
So the main story of Spring Stampede is a continuation of Nitro; Kevin Nash is increasingly pissed about the New World Order and Hollywood Hogan spending all their time watching Mickey Rourke landmine a tiger to death than be wrestlers on a wrestling show, and he’s starting to take it out on everyone else.
Hogan’s not here tonight. Neither is Scott Hall, who is supposed to defend the Tag Team Championship with Nash against the Steiner Brothers. In an absolutely nightmarish journalism scenario, WCW sends Stagger Lee Marshall backstage to get a statement from Nash in the goddamn middle of a Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. Ultimo Dragon match. Lee goes knocking on the nWo dressing room door to tell Nash Nitro’s gonna be in Huntsville on Monday and how Lynyrd Skynyrd’s ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ was originally intended to be a response to Neil Young’s hit song WEASEL MAN and how southern men don’t need weasels around anyhow, and Syxx answers. Lee doesn’t know how to talk to anyone he hasn’t called collect from a hundred miles away and gets the door shut in his face.
Rey Mysterio wins with a hurricanrana.
Anyway, when the match is finally over we can get back to the important stuff, and Lee once again goes a-knockin’. It’s super funny for some reason to see him knocking all rigidly and yelling “KEVIN NASH! KEVIN NASH!” in his Tony the Tiger voice.
Syxx opens the door again, and before Lee can explain that 1-800-CALL-ATT is for pussies, A Restaurant Owner barges in. Nash pops in to say his only demand if he’s defending tag titles in a handicap match is that Nick Patrick be the referee, because of course it is, and spits in Steiner’s face. As you may know, Scotty Steiner is famous for his level head and even temperament, and he handles the situation with class and grace.
Just kidding, he punches a random dude in the face and WCW Security Santa Doug Dellinger maces him.
God, I wish he’d sprayed Lee. But yeah, Steiner’s random punch leads to him getting held to the ground and arrested, conveniently allowing the Steiner Brothers vs. Outsiders Tag Team Championship match to become Kevin Nash vs. Rick Steiner.
Best: Kevin Nash Goes Castigo Excesivo
So the stage is set for one of the most complicated-to-explain simple matches ever. It’s a singles match for the Tag Team Championship. Scott Steiner has been bear-maced and arrested, Rick Steiner has inner ear problems from that time the nWo tried to kill him in real life, Scott Hall is trapped in the Upside Down and Nick Patrick is a sleeveless, evil referee. Plus Syxx is out here for some reason and Ted DiBiase is on managerial duties, meaning it’s four-on-one against an injured guy for tag titles.
Amazingly, the story works. It’s interesting. Basically Nash is fed the hell up with how ridiculous all of this is and just wants to kill a dude, but he’s Kevin Nash, so he’s still inherently lazy until pushed over the edge. So he ends up jackknifing Steiner and Steiner kicks out, and Nash is like, “okay, you’re dead.” Syxx pulls off the turnbuckle pad and Nash hits Snake Eyes onto it, followed by a second jackknife. Ted DiBiase is like, “hey man, that’s enough,” and Nash is like nope, another Snake Eyes. Nash is like, “I’m going to throw him on his car wreck ear.” DiBiase walks out, so Nash hits ANOTHER Snake Eyes and ANOTHER jackknife. Even Nick Patrick is like, “holy shit, dude,” and they have to make him count the pin.
It’s a great moment, because it momentarily removes Nash from his role as “bored, disingenuous tall guy” and makes him an actual brutal pro wrestling monster, which he probably should be. He’s sick of the nWo being this lethargic, sluggish conglomerate who holds biker babe beauty pageants and dresses up jerks like Sting. He wants to get back to the good old days of wrecking people and throwing them face-first into the sides of production trailers.
Best: DDP Becomes A Star, For Real This Time
Nowhere on the show is that nWo dynamic stronger than in the main event, with Macho Man Randy Savage taking on Diamond Dallas Page in a no disqualification match. Page is a guy the entire nWo hates and wants dead. Savage has him in a no disqualification match, which could START with every nWo guy in the ring with a tire iron. Instead, Savage goes it alone, and spends the early portion of the match posing for Asian babies in the front row. The nWo just hangs out backstage. The entire feud up until this point has been built around Savage assuming Page isn’t in his league, so much so that he just learned his name six days ago and mostly identifies him as the guy with the hot wife. Page is this hungry, grungy motherfucker who I guess just made up with his hot wife and wants to be a good dude to make up for that whole “stealing her lottery winnings and almost losing her to a Little Richard impersonator and a weird version of Brutus Beefcake that’s super into butts” thing. Page has a bulletproof finish. Macho is like, “pfft, you’ll never get that on me.”
Savage spends most of the early portion of the match stalling, which is perfect for the story. When the brawling starts getting real, we start figuring out that yeah, Savage isn’t taking him seriously, but he also actually doesn’t want to get hit with a Diamond Cutter and has done his homework. So he’s able to reverse it a couple of times, and Page is forced to sorta fight this wrestling legend as a completely formed competitor, and not just a guy with a good move. Savage gets dirtier and dirtier the more Page rises up. It’s great.
And that’s where it ties back into the bigger nWo story. Savage counters a Diamond Cutter with a backslide but he can’t get Page down, so he hits a cheap low blow. He goes for the pin, but Page kicks out. Savage decides to take out his frustrations on 2-foot-4 22-pound referee Mark Curtis, piledriving him and whipping him with his own belt. Out jogs Nick Patrick to seal the deal, and Savage is at his most confident. He scoops up Page to slam him to hit the flying elbow drop, but Page is like, “whoops, homework this,” and drops him with the Cutter. Nick Patrick, who I should remind you is already having a terrible night, doesn’t want to make the count, but he has to. Savage is OUT, because the Diamond Cutter is the damn truth, and Page wins a main-event against one of the greatest wrestlers of all time, against all odds.
And that is where it ties back in to Nash. How do you think Nash responds to Patrick making that count?
When Savage wakes up, he’s done with the confidence. He’s back to shifty-eyed, violent, lashing-out-at-everyone Savage and goes for the first person he sees: Kimberly. If you aren’t a longtime WCW viewer, Savage does not have great relationships with women. Everybody in WCW stays in the back — maybe Lex Luger’s in the showers, sure, but yo Jim Duggan, you wanna run your Gorillas in the Mist ass out here and wrap up your fists and help?
Surprisingly it’s Kimberly’s neighbor Eric Bischoff who steps up.
Bischoff is like, “maybe don’t end our pay-per-view by making people watch you beat up somebody’s wife,” and they get into a shoving match. That leads to Savage just slapping HIM in the face a few times, and the nWo finally gets in the ring to pull them apart and try to calm things down. Everything I’ve typed in this entire column so far would be great if I hadn’t actually watched these shows in 1997 and didn’t remember what happens the next night on Nitro. You can probably guess.
Worst: The Horsemen Are Falling Apart Too, But Nobody Cares
Ric Flair cuts a promo to let us know he’ll be cleared for action on May 1st, which is still a month away. But he’s putting together a supergroup, asking Rowdy Roddy Piper to team up with him and football star Kevin Greene to face some combination of the nWo at Slamboree. Yes, the same Kevin Greene Flair paid Mongo to turn on at the Great American Bash. The other guy locked himself in Alcatraz for a week. Man, I don’t even know.
He also wants a shoot fight with Eric Bischoff — no pencils, bookerman! — and says the Horsemen are reunited and at full strength. Let’s see if that’s true.
Well, here’s Flyboy Rocco Rock about to deliver a devastating Haliburton Briefcase To The Back from the BOTTOM ROPE, giving it that extra pageantry it needs. Mongo sees Public Enemy trying to use the briefcase and gets into the ring, and the referee thinks HE’S trying to interfere and holds him back. So Mongo just goes back into his corner and holds up Four Horsemen hands with his back to the ring, allowing Rocco to hit his OMG Moment from like half a foot in the air and win the match for TPE.
So Little Lord Fauntleroy and Cuck Butkis over here aren’t on the same page, let’s check in on Benoit and Arn.
Nope. Here’s Kevin Sullivan doing irreparable damage to Chris Benoit’s brain at like minute 18 of his United States Championship match against Dean Malenko, causing a disqualification. If you’re wondering where Arn is, he stepped aside when Sullivan told him to step aside and let him interfere. Yes, Ric, the Horsemen are at FULL STRENGTH. DANCE ALL NIGHT DANCE A LITTLE LONGER.
Another weird note here is that after Sullivan interferes, he gets knocked off the apron onto an injured Eddie Guerrero, who either also trying to interfere or trying to stop the interference after the DQ. The Dungeon of Doom steals the United States Championship, because they haven’t done a “steal the belt” angle in a few weeks, and force it onto Eddie’s shoulder as they drag him away.
Again, this is setting up an anti-Horsemen angle that never actually happens. “This is setting up something that never happens” should’ve been the name of WCW’s weekly show.
Worst: The Other Title Matches Are Rotten, Too
I’m sure you were like, “I hope Prince Iaukea is still Television Champion after Spring Stampede!” Here’s some good news to tell your destitute family, huddled together in an abandoned warehouse on the edge of town, looking for any, any reason to cling to this futile process we call life and believe hope still exists in God’s cruel world: Prince Iaukea won with a roll-up.
In actual good news, Regal spends like five minutes after the horrible match beating the dog shit out of him, locking him in multiple Regal Stretches and basically destroying his entire face and torso. This becomes important on the next night’s Nitro, when WCW finally realizes their mistake, puts the belt on a different person and then has Regal beat THEM at Slamboree. Instead of, you know, letting Regal just murder this squatting fuck like everyone including Prince Iaukea’s parents and Godmother wanted to see here.
All I want to point out about the Women’s Championship Match is the finish, which defies the laws of physics so blatantly it’ll make you feel like you’re living life in reverse. So Madusa hits a German on Akira Hokuto and Sonny Onoo’s supposed to break it up, but he’s too busy playing with Snapchat filters on his disposable camera or whatever to hit his cue, so Hokuto has to awkwardly kick out of it. Then they go to the actual finish, which is supposed to be Madusa going for a powerbomb, Luna tripping her while the ref is busy with Onoo, and Hokuto falling on top of her for the pin.
Instead, we get this:
Madusa goes for a powerbomb. Luna Vachon slides in and kicks Madusa in the back of the leg, which causes Madusa to fall FORWARD somehow, completing the powerbomb. But since she got kicked during it, the powerbomb doesn’t hurt Hokuto at all, and Madusa is like, completely knocked out from a blow to the back of her knee and a forward roll. NAILED IT.
Best: And Now, The Moment You All Came To See
At Spring Stampede, the Giant, Lex Luger and Members Of Harlem Heat compete in a fatal four-way to name a new number one contender for Hollywood Hogan’s WCW Heavyweight Championship. That means Harlem Heat has to cut a promo on Hogan, and if you’ve been a wrestling fan on the Internet at any point in the past 20 years, you know what that means. Ladies and gentlemen, behold Booker T accidentally dropping an N-bomb on Hulk Hogan and immediately realizing his mistake. Behold the face of a man who seriously thinks he’s about to be fired.
Tell me he didn’t just say that.
Ah, it’s okay, Book. Don’t sweat it. I’m sure Hogan’s said way worse about you.
Best: A Giant Gesture
As for the match itself, it’s … well, it’s a Harlem Heat vs. Giant and Lex Luger match. You kinda know what you’re getting when you start watching it. Lots of Luger bumping by falling down like he’s in a video game and nobody animated a “falling down” gesture so he just turns completely horizontal and falls. Lots of chicken dance arm pumping to call for the Torture Rack, and lots of not believing Harlem Heat’s going to challenge Hollywood Hogan for anything.
I do like the finish a lot, though. The idea is that whomever gets the decision becomes the number one contender, right? So the Giant has the match won and calls for AAAAH THE CHOKESLAM, but instead chooses to walk over to Lex and use his chokeslam hand to make a tag. Former WCW turncoat turned nWo oustee the Giant, a guy who spend the past few months learning how horrible it is when you have a title shot coming and you don’t get it, realizes superhuman-ass Lex Luger is the best shot at taking the belt away from Hogan. So he tags him in and lets him get the Torture Rack and the win, even setting him up with a rack taunt. It’s great, and a nice little moment of redemption for the character.
And that’s where we stand heading into Nitro. The nWo is in shambles, and half the members won’t even come to the show. Meanwhile we’ve got Sting on WCW’s side, Lex Luger with a guaranteed title shot, Diamond Dallas Page coming into his own as a Top Guy with something to prove, and Ric Flair at least attempting to bring together the Horsemen and finally use Roddy Piper for WCW’s gain. Everything’s building to a blowff in a couple of months at the Great American Bash, and by “in a couple of months” I mean “nine months from now,” and by “at the Great American Bash” I mean “actually never.”
But it’s a nice story for now.