Previously on the Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro: Rowdy Roddy Piper returned as the temporary head of the WCW Executive Committee while J.J. Dillon recovers from leg-dropped related injuries, Lex Luger and Diamond Dallas Page shared the worst handshake you’ve ever seen, and Hollywood Hogan murdered a Sting mannequin.
Click here to watch this week’s pay-per-view 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 Fall Brawl 1997, originally aired on September 14, 1997.
Best: Members Of Harlem Heat
Fall Brawl ’97 starts with HARLEM HEAT WITH JACQUELINE, aka “Eddie Guerrero,” challenging Canadian Room Temperature Standing Water Chris Jericho for the WCW Cruiserweight Championship. Maybe they think he’s a member of Harlem Heat because for the last month of TV he’s been doing three people’s worth of work.
Eddie’s on a different level here, and you can see why he and Mysterio would want to put together the absolute masterpiece at Halloween Havoc a month later. Sadly, mid-97 Chris Jericho is not Rey Mysterio Jr. and is still so bland he makes Charlie Rose look like Howard Stern, so the match isn’t Halloween Havoc good, but it’s certainly worth watching.
The differences in personalities make a lot of the otherwise boring mat stuff work, as Jericho’s like, “HEY, I KNOW SOME MOVES, WATCH ME DO ONE,” and Eddie’s like, focused and meticulously dedicated to ripping Jericho’s arms off. It’s the most blatant illustration of wrestling’s “you’ve gotta have a KILLER INSTINCT” talking point I’ve seen in a while, and I like that Eddie is super rudo without really doing anything unforgivable, and that he wins the match clean using skill, and not cheating. He’s just the better man. He reverses the weight on a backdrop off the ropes and hits a frog splash to become the new champion, and now the best WCW Cruiserweight Championship ever is about to happen.
Worst: Members Of Harlem Heat
If you’re wondering what the other Members of Harlem Heat are up to, they’re … [checks notes] in another number one contender mach against the Steiner Brothers. Yep. I swear, it’s 2017 and I guarantee you some WrestleCade-ass promotion is currently trying to book the Steiners vs. Harlem Heat to see who should be the next challengers for the WCW Tag Team Championship.
This match is so phoned in the commentary should’ve been from Lee Marshall for 1-800-COLLECT. Seriously, at the end there’s a moment where it looks like Scott’s supposed to jump in the ring and break up the pin to keep Rick from losing to a Heat Seeker, but the timing is off so he just stands there and doesn’t. So Booker has to like, Harlem Sidekick himself out of the ring, and the Steiners finish off Stevie with a Steinerline/German suplex combo that plays like a total audible. So hey, the Steiner Brothers are 100% officially totally number one contenders, and I’m sure that will stick and we won’t have to have any more matches to prove it.
Worst: These Matches Are Long As Dick
Remember Slamboree, where every match felt super long, even the ones full of nothing but armbars and chinlocks, and it felt like someone died or no-showed or something and everyone on the show suddenly had to go half an hour? That returns here, as the first three matches all creep up on 20 minutes. Note: the War Games match in the main event featuring eight guys, two rings, and two specific matches — “War Games” and “The Match Beyod” — goes 19. So Alex Wright chinlocking Ultimo Dragon got as much time as WAR GAMES.
And oh boy, do chins get locked. I think Wright accidentally ate an entire to-go thing of chicken alfredo before he walked out or something and got blown up 30 seconds in, so despite having ULTIMO DRAGON as his opponent, he just grabs a reverse chinnie and holds that shit for 15 minutes. That’s the whole match. Wright wins with a German suplex, because a German suplex is just a reverse chinlock of the waist.
Worst: OH NO HOW COULD THIS BE
Mean Gene Okerlund goes looking for Alex Wright in the Staff Locker Room [pause for applause] and finds out that — gasp — the nWo has RUTHLESSLY ATTACKED Four Horseman enforcer (enhorser?) Curt Hennig. Will the guy who has spent the last two months saying he doesn’t want to be a Horseman and helping the nWo win matches be able to survive such a heinous attack, and still make it to the ring to definitely defend the Horsemen and not turn on anybody? Stay tuned!
Best: Jeff Jarrett Discovers The Internet
After the show, Jarrett is going to use America Online® to make an impact on social media. The world wide web is about to be a real global force! And you can use it to look up TNA.
Just kidding, he’s going to go home after Fall Brawl, type “ain’t I great” into Ask Jeeves and spend an hour trying to figure out why it brought up an image gallery of British butlers hanging themselves.
Jarrett faces Dean Malenko in a number one contender match for the United States Championship, which he wins cleanly by submission because the one thing we all agree on is that JEFF JARRETT should be getting clean submission victories over DEAN MALENKO.
Like everything else on the show, it’s about 20 minutes long and would’ve been a lot better with … conservatively, let’s say 12 minutes scraped off. Jarrett’s supposed to have a United States Championship match against Mongo at Halloween Havoc, but whoops, his contract runs out in October and he shows up on Monday Night Raw six days before the show. So that makes him tapping out Dean Malenko look even worse. Ain’t he great?
Best Def Larry Zbyszko Jam
During the intro to the Faces of Fear vs. Mortis and Wrath match, Larry Zbyszko offers the following poem:
No matter how well-behaved
Is merely a gorilla
Pretty literate commentary for a tag team match between two supernatural pit-figthers dedicated to stealing magical trinkets from a Caucasian ice ninja and a pair of mindless savages who were brought to the country and forced to live in a stone dungeon with no hot water but enough A/C to preserve a Himalayan mummy in a hunk of ice so they could workshop ways to shave Hulk Hogan’s mustache.
The Bloods vs. the Faces is pretty fun, like you’d expect, but is also at least five minutes longer than it needs to be. When I’m worried about Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn only getting three minutes or whatever on Smackdown, I need to be mindful that my wrestling sensibilities were crafted by this company that’d give two undercard heel tag teams 15 minutes in the middle of a pay-per-view.
Wrath wins by being a ring general, waiting for Meng to have his hands full with two Tongan Death Grips at once and hitting him with a Death Penalty when he’s already committed to the finger-pinches and can’t defend himself.
Best: HOSSPOCALYPSE ORIGINS
You know those really great matches where Big Show faces a guy like Braun Strowman who’s as big and strong as him, so they do something creative and get these really next-level big man matches with Show like, diving off the ropes with elbow drops and doing catch-as-catch-can sequences? I think the origin of those matches is Fall Brawl 97 against Scott Norton, a match that’s been stuck in my head as one of my favorite live experiences ever.
If you haven’t seen this match, you get the two Hosspcalypse classics: a heel who is able to pick up the “world’s largest athlete” and throw him around like he’s a cruiserweight, and said world’s largest athlete breaking out a bunch of cruiserweight offense to substantiate it. Norton manages to hit both a stun gun and a backdrop on the Giant, so the Giant’s like, fuck it, I’m gonna kip-up and wreck you.
Sure, it’s rope assisted, but come on. He goes full Young Bucks here, kipping up and hitting a superkick, a standing dropkick and then More Bang For Your Buck … [checks notes] sorry, a “chokeslam,” to win. It’s not much of a match, really, but the power on display was unreal, and I can tell you with 100% certainty that my teenage ass was not prepared to see The Giant bouncing around like he’s in the Biz Cliz in 1997.
Best/Worst: Lex Luger And The Journey To The Center Of The Earth
Not much happens in the Lex Luger and Diamond Dallas Page vs. Macho Man Randy Savage and Scott Hall “whoops, we forgot to book a bunch of our stars” bonus match, but the crowd is into it. This might be the four best crowd-work wrestlers in the company at this point, and if you’re worried about me lumping in Lex Luger with guys like Hall and Savage and Page, pay attention to any time the man did TORTURE RACK IS COMING bird arms in a wrestling ring. Lex Luger could walk into a funeral mid-eulogy, pump his arms like that and have everyone in the cemetery hooting for a Torture Rack.
Page is such a face in peril that at one point Luger gets dumped between the ropes and KICKED UNDER THEM by Hall, which if under the ring is “Hell” makes between War Games rings what, some kind of purgatory? While Lex is down there, Hall decides to throw out the rule book and just start whomping any referee he sees, kicking Mickey Jay in the side of the face and Outsider’s Edging Mark Curtis into oblivion. Bonus points for maybe the funniest crotch chop ever:
The “worst” comes in the finish. With multiple referees down, Larry Zbyszko takes it upon himself to walk to the ring and confront Hall. While this is happening, Luger raises from his grave and rolls Hall up. Zbyszko, who is not a referee, counts the world’s quickest three and … it counts, somehow, giving WCW the win. The crowd loves it, but it doesn’t make a lot of sense. Plus, it sets up Hall vs. Luger at Halloween Havoc with Larry as the special guest referee, which might have some impact if we hadn’t spend the last year showing how every WCW victory is illegal and negated and doesn’t count.
Worst: Curse Your Sudden But Inevitable Betrayal
Shocking swerve: I know none of you saw this coming, but the Four Horsemen lose War Games to the New World Order when it turns out Curt Hennig is with the New World Order, not the Horsemen. What? I know, just crazy, just an absolute mind-blowing swerve.
If you’ve never seen it, the nWo pretends to beat up Curt Hennig earlier in the night, making Hennig’s role in the match questionable. So then Hennig shows up anyway in a sling at the last possible second to join in, becoming the Horsemen’s last man in the match. When he enters the ring, he reveals that his sling is just to hide a bunch of handcuffs, which he uses to handcuff the Horsemen to the cage walls and emasculate them on their own turf. They do a thing where Hennig says the Horsemen have to submit and lose the match or he’ll smash Ric Flair’s head in the cage door, Mongo caves and gives up for his team, the Horsemen lose, and Hennig SMASHES FLAIR’S HEAD IN THE DOOR ANYWAY.
But don’t worry, the Horsemen get their revenge the next night by Ric Flair being comatose in a hospital and Mongo losing the United States Championship to Curt Hennig. I’m kidding, but Flair gets revenge at Halloween Havoc by losing to Hennig via disqualification. I’m kidding, but Flair gets revenge at World War 3 by losing to Hennig via pinfall. I’m kidding, the Horsemen get revenge at Starrcade by Benoit and Mongo both losing matches and Flair not appearing. I’m kidding–
You know what? Let’s just end the column here.