The Best And Worst Of WCW Tuesday Nitro 7/22/97: Tuesday’s Gone

Previously on the Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro: We were not ready for the debut of the Nitro Girls. At least this week they ditch the chairs and go for the simpler choreography of, “stomp in place like a horse that can count, then Bushwhacker walk off-screen.”

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, the Best and Worst of WCW Tuesday Nitro for July 22, 1997.

Wait, Tuesday Nitro?

That’s right. Remember back in April (of 1997) when Nitro became an hour-long pre-show for the NBA Playoffs? This week, Nitro gets completely bumped from Monday in favor of the only thing 1990s TNT loved more than basketball and wrestling: Americana prestige drama.

On back-to-back nights, TNT aired Rough Riders, an original miniseries about how badly your grandpa wants to record this on VHS but can’t figure out how. The miniseries stars Gary Busey as Major General Joseph Wheeler, R. Lee Ermey as Secretary of State John Hay and Sam Elliott as Bucky! Captain Bucky O’Hare. He goes where no ordinary rabbit would dare.

Here’s Tom Berenger definitely winning an Emmy for his starring role as Theodore Roosevelt from the Hall of Presidents.

To be honest, I’d rather watch four hours of this over two nights than sit through another Konnan match.

Worst: Another Konnan Match


You can’t just blame it on the bossa nova, you have to Tsubasa.

Konnan — now the nWo’s K-Dogg, I’m just guessing it has two Gs, I haven’t checked — “takes on” Osaka Pro mainstay Tsubasa in the poor kid’s only WCW appearance. At this point he’d only been wrestling for about a year in CMLL and Ultimo Dragon’s Toryumon Mexico, and Konnan proves to be a giving, thoughtful vet by allowing him exactly zero (0) offense. Not even an ATTEMPT at offense. Here, watch, it’s only like 30 seconds long.

Tsubasa would eventually go on to become a 4-time Osaka Pro Wrestling Tag Team Champion, and be far less embarrassed wrestling Osaka Pro’s biggest stars, which I assume includes a comedic fire hydrant or whatever.

Worst: A Generous Use Of The Word ‘Pace’

This week’s show opens with an illustration of how much Hulk Hogan likes working Tuesdays. He lies down in the middle of the ring — which he got a pump on and slathered himself in oil for — and cuts a promo about how he accepts Lex Luger’s challenge that’s mostly about how nobody in the back would have a job if he hadn’t made wrestling popular in the ’80s. Eric Bischoff adds, “the more things change, the more they stay the same,” which should appear in flashing lights at the beginning of every Nitro.

Note: the “pace” for professional wrestling is taking off 80% of the year to make movies despite being the World Champion, not defending your title between February and August, and only coming back to do tag team matches with basketball players.

Worst: Poor Steven Regal

If you’re a regular reader of these columns or have a basic understanding of what makes people cool as shit, you’ll know that Lord Steven “William” Regal is one of my maybe … ten favorite wrestlers of all time. I didn’t like him as a kid, because I wasn’t supposed to, but as an adult I’ve developed a great, severe affection for a sour-faced British guy doing expert physical comedy between smashing people’s faces to death with the heel of his hand. He rules now, and he ruled back in the day. He’s also the reason Bryan Danielson exists.

Unfortunately we’re reaching the end of Regal’s WCW run, which culminates in February of ’98 with the best-worst Goldberg match and him getting fired for recreational drug abuse. You can already start to see the toll drugs are taking on his body, as he’s gone from “barrel-chested” to looking like Doctor Eggman. WCW has started to see it, too, so instead of the 20 minutes Ultimo Dragon and Regal got at Slamboree we get three. Dragon just Dragon Sleepers him out of nowhere and wins the TV title.

And hell, you’d be forgiven for remembering that Regal was even Television Champion at all over the past couple of months.

The good news for Regal is that even though things get bad, then worse, then even worse with a second drug firing from WWF in April of ’99. That leg of the story ends with him in rehab getting straight. In the Nitro column, a story that ends without death, suicide or murder is a blessing.

Worst: Mike Tenay Knows The Complete History Of Super Calo But Doesn’t Know Steven Regal Is British

During the Dragon/Regal match, New Japan Pro Wrestling expert Mike Tenay mentions that Regal is “one of just three American wrestlers to compete next month in a major tournament,” the G1 Climax. Before he’s even done with the sentence, Larry Zbyszko starts (correctly) (what) yelling, “WHO’S AN AMERICAN? REGAL’S NOT AN AMERICAN.” Larry Zbyszko, the guy who screams about ORIENTALS every time there’s a Japanese wrestler on Nitro and gets lethargic having to pronounce all the syllables in their names, knows more about the G1 than you, Iron Mike.

Worst: Update, Ric Flair Is Still Stupid

I promise I’m going to give this episode some Bests, just hang with me.

At the top of the program, the announce team excitedly shares the info that Ric Flair will be officially naming the new member of the Four Horsemen later tonight. The suggestion is that it’s Curt Hennig, because he’s been openly courting him and trying to get him to join the crew for weeks. When it’s time for Flair to actually make said announcement, Syxx shows up instead and tells Flair there’s no new fourth member and that the Horsemen are a thing of the past. At first Flair is like, “hey man, you win,” but then he punches him out.

Two things:

1. Yes, they put the hot-fire Syxx vs. Ric Flair feud on hold for a month and a half so Flair could feud with Rowdy Roddy Piper, and now that Piper’s gone they’ve picked it back up with no heat and no momentum. Because listen, I know your interactions had fans excited and interested in the product, but this old man with a false hip and the body of the guy from the ‘Unforgiven’ video has to beat up the greatest champion in the history of the company, all that guy’s friends and everyone in the nWo at once.

2. Curt Hennig, the guy who helped the nWo beat up Diamond Dallas Page two nights in a row and repeatedly says he’s not a Horseman, is supposed to be your fourth Horsemen. When it’s time for him to debut, a member of the nWo shows up instead and tells you there’s no fourth Horseman. Shouldn’t you, I don’t know, take that as a sign that Curt Hennig’s in the fucking nWo and not let him be a part of your faction? Better yet, maybe he shouldn’t be a part of your War Games team when you’re locking yourself in some cages with the nWo?

Worst: Hell On Earth Is The Nitro Girls Dabbing

It would take these girls six months to teach you how to Dougie.

Worst: Lex Luger And The Giant Are Having Problems

I think the reason this episode feels so bad is that all the matches are super short. Like half the matches go less than a minute, and nothing goes over five. It’s brutal.

For example, Giant is supposed to face the Great Muta. About 30 seconds in, Giant grabs Muta by the neck for the chokeslam but accidentally activates Muta’s poison glands, and Muta mists him for the disqualification.

That instantly triggers an nWo beatdown that’s like four times longer than the actual match. Vincent and Macho Man show up to attack Giant 3-on-1, and Giant’s Forever Friend Lex Luger runs out to make the save. The mist-blinded Giant almost chokeslams Lex, however, until he realizes that Virgil is not 300 pounds of muscle and doesn’t have the voice of an old woman.

Later in the night, Luger and Scott Norton wrestle for about two minutes until [Final Fantasy fanfare] Vince runs in and causes a disqualification. Here’s Luger hitting him with an Alpamare Waterslide:

But no, Luger Torture Racks Vincent and gorilla-presses Delicious into Vicious, and that’s the match. Hogan shows up near the entrance to taunt Luger, so Luger ends up following Hogan, Bagwell, Norton and Vincent to the back. I’m talking like, two steps behind them. Nitro goes to commercial with the announcers screaming about how Luger’s making a huge mistake, and how they’re gonna lure him into a trap and beat him up. When Nitro returns from commercial break … nothing. It’s not addressed. But hey, Hall and Nash are finally here, and Kevin Nash forgot to put on pants!

So Let’s Have Some Good Wrestling, Already

Here’s Mongo almost killing Dean Malenko, does that count?

What would you call this? A “botch-style Neutralizer?”

Worst: As The Halliburton Turns

Yeah, up next is the social experiment of Dean Malenko vs. Steve ‘Mongo’ McMichael. It’s the pro wrestling equivalent of that Patrick Swayze/Chris Farley Chippendales sketch. As a bonus, Larry destroys all that good will he earned correcting Mike Tenay by spending the entire match saying shit like this:

Is Larry sexually attracted to elephants, but unable to commit? Because that’s the vibe I’m getting here.

The match ends when Jeff Jarret straight-shows up dressed like Country Music Beetlejuice and interferes. Debra keeps the referee distracted by standing on the apron and holding up the United States Championship, which definitely seems like a reason to ignore everything else happening in the ring. Jarrett hits a stunner on Mongo across the top rope, allowing Malenko to dropkick the big man and roll him up in a very slow, Mongo-esque small package for the win.

After the match, Jarrett and Debra formally ask Malenko to form an alliance with them. Malenko’s acting chops are on full display here, as the conversation goes something like this:

Jarrett: “There’s strength in numbers! Help us win matches and we’ll help you.”
Malenko: “I’ll definitely do it!”
Debra: “I think you should, as well!”
Malenko: “I’ll give you my answer later!”

Jarrett’s trying to add a gimp to his posse, isn’t he. In retrospect I’m sad that when the WWF did their “Dean Malenko, ladies man” gimmick they didn’t explain it away by saying he knew 1,004 sexual holds.

Worst: Hector Guerrero Gets Too Excited And Almost Kills Himself

Last week, Eddie Guerrero’s older brother Hector showed up to keep Eddie from beating up their nephew Chavo Jr. This week they have a fast-paced grudge match that highlights exactly how much better Eddie is than … well, all of his relatives, and begins with Hector almost dying.

The idea is that Hector’s supposed to duck an elbow, hit the ropes hard and use them to propel him up into the air for a headscissors or something. What actually happens is that Hector’s moving too fast, so when he jumps into the top rope, he completely misses it with his right hand. So basically he’s doing a somersault over the top rope to the floor onto nobody. He saves himself by like, clinging to the rope with his abdomen, and Eddie has to run over, pull him back up and pretend he got headscissored. Good lord.

Best: Eddie, Though

At one point during this, Eddie escapes a pinfall attempt by biting Hector’s arm, and when Hector gives up the pin, Eddie KEEPS BITING HIM. It’s great. Eddie works the entire match with just biting and low blows. Malenko of course runs out and starts trying to attack him, and Hector, being a good dude, gets between them. What does Eddie do? He sides with his brother, right?

Nope, he shoves Hector into a fight with Malenko and bails. I love you, rudo Eddie Guerrero. You’re on a different level.


If you’re like me, you’ve been waiting for this since birth. This episode of Nitro features the first match I would’ve booked if they’d put me in charge of the company in 1997: Mortis and Wrath vs. Psicosis and La Parka. The radioactive Thai karate skeleton versus the dancing Mexican skeleton with a chair fetish.

As you know if you read my Bash at the Beach column, the Blood Runs Cold guys all own right now, and nobody really realizes it or knows what to do with it. If WCW had just observed a “three ring circus”/something for everyone mentality, they could’ve had Mortal Kombat characters fighting masked Mexican guys all the time and invented a completely new kind of pulp pro wrestling like 15 years before that became a thing. Instead, we have these little crystalline gems of matches. If WWE Network ever adds Worldwide and Saturday Night to the schedule, we’ll have a lot more.

Mortis and Wrath win a super fun match with the Villano Killer. Two moments of interest here:

1. At one point during the match, Psicosis runs into the corner and is supposed to like, bounce to the top rope and flip back into the ring. Instead, he bounces to the top, slips, does a split on the top rope and falls to the floor. Super Calo was watching that shit backstage like, “LOL, depth perception much?”

2. After the match, La Parka attacks Mortis with a chair, because yassss kweeen, slayyyy. La Parka dances, so Wrath kicks him in the face so hard it knocks him into another dimension. Watch:

Best: It’s Like Some Kind Of … Latino World Order!

Rey Mysterio Jr. returns on crutches to announce that he’s had surgery five times, in his left knee. I ruptured a disk which, fragmented into my, spinal column. Careers ended in an instant. Yes, this is entertainment, but the hazards are real. How’s he even able to stand? Trainers, EMTs, referees down.

Sorry, don’t know what got into me there. That PSA is like the Babadook.

Anyway, Mysterio shows up to talk about how he’s trying to heal his leg “the natural way” (like Dustin Rhodes) so Konnan shows up and kicks away his crutches. This is such a dick move that WCW’s rudos show up to stand behind the least rudo man ever, Rey Mysterio, against him. Konnan is extremely scared of a skeleton, Weird Al in a buffalo mask and two Pink Panther guys.

Worst: The Match That Killed WCW, Four Years Early

Explaining why Booker T vs. Buff Bagwell for the WCW Heavyweight Championship main-evented an episode of Monday Night Raw is hard enough. Explaining why it was set up to fail after the company had been bought by the competition and in theory could’ve made a shit-ton of money off it instead of being weird and petty is harder. And man, it might be even harder to explain how Raw was going to be in Atlanta, GA the next week and how much better the crowd response would’ve been if they’d waited.

As it stands, Booker T (who is visibly afraid to do anything exciting) and Buff Bagwell (who was told by Shane McMahon not to cheese for the camera when his entire gimmick was cheesing for the camera) got a shitty crowd response, wrestled an underwhelming match, and built to the finish of POPULAR WWF GUYS SHOWING UP AND BEATING THE WCW CHAMPION TO THE BACK LIKE A CHUMP. I can explain a lot of things, but the Invasion angle, any second of it, breaks my brain and sends me into an confused anger spiral.

Anyway, four years earlier, Booker T and Buff Bagwell had a match on Nitro. It ends with Booker getting cheated out of the decision, and three guys beating him up after the match with no save. So … the exact same thing? Was it never WWF’s fault? Was this the match they thought was their best?

Stagger Lee Visits West Virginia

I’m so mad this wasn’t a slow burn for Pauly Shore to debut on Nitro and attack Lee Marshall. They gave Riki Rachtman a job, it’s not that much of a stretch.

Oh, also, this week they really start hitting the idea of “Nitro parties” hard, asking fans around the country to send in pictures and videos of their Nitro parties. I don’t remember these, but oh my god I hope the coming weeks are full of them. I also hope that somehow I got pictures or video onto Nitro and just missed an episode and never realized it.

Watches ‘Bowling For Columbine’ Once

Worst: Curt Hennig Debuts (For 30 Seconds) (And We Miss The Finish)

Aside from the announcement of the new member of the Four Horsemen, which didn’t happen, the big selling point of this Nitro for the broadcast team is the Nitro in-ring debut of Curt Hennig. Which, uh, only sort of happens. He faces MICHAEL WALLSTREET of all people, because I guess aging WWF mid-carders with drifting relevancy can only wrestle each other, and it only lasts about 30 seconds before Diamond Dallas Page shows up from out of the crowd and hits Hennig with a Diamond Cutter. The worst part? The moment cameras cut away to show Page is the moment Hennig hits a Perfect Plex and wins the match.

Man, how is this an unopposed episode of Nitro? Shouldn’t they have gone out there guns-blazing and tried to kill it and make some new fans, instead of doing a lightning round of shit that didn’t make sense a month ago?

Speaking Of That …

After punching out Syxx earlier in the show, Ric Flair made a challenge to the Outsiders. He wanted a match for the Tag Team Championship, and he wanted it tonight. Because he’s not a Member of Harlem Heat or one of the Steiner Brothers, he instantly gets this by asking, instead of having to wrestle in six non-consecutive number one contender matches. I mean, I guess he does have a hookup with J.J.

Amazingly, the Outsiders actually agree to the match and wrestle it. Weird, I know. It’s a shame to see how great Flair is in the ring with the Wolfpac, and how much the Piper feud absolutely wasted what might’ve been a crucial month in the guy’s last run as a legitimate top-shelf performer. Flair bumps for Kevin Nash like the world is ending, and it’s the greatest. Nash will like, put his hand on Flair’s head and Flair will hit the ground like a bullet and go completely unconscious. I don’t think anyone ever made Nash look better than Flair.

The finish, as you might’ve guessed, is Syxx distracting Flair so Benoit has to wrestle the Outsiders alone. He does an admirable job of it, too, getting the crowd hype in a way nobody else has come CLOSE to in an actual wrestling match tonight, but ends up eating a big boot and getting pinned. Because he’s Chris Benoit. After the match, Syxx locks in the Buzzkiller on Ric on the floor, and Mongo has to trot out and hair-mare Syxx away. The Steiners show up on the stage to stare down the Outsiders, too, but Aw Nuts We’re Out Of Time®.

You should get excited about next week’s show, though, because it’s the one where-

-whoops, sorry, I’m out of space in the column. Guess you’ll have to find out next week!