The Best And Worst Of WCW Monday Nitro 11/10/97: Canada Dry

Previously on the Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro: We set the stage for World War 3 by concentrating more on both Starrcade and WWF’s Survivor Series ’97, because Eric Bischoff knows the Montreal Screwjob is about to happen and has no idea how to handle it.

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 Monday Nitro, originally aired on November 10, 1997.

Worst: Bret Hart Is Definitely Already Here And In The nWo

So at Survivor Series, the most screwage you’ve seen in one place since A Christmas Carol occurred at the expense of Bret Hart, a 5-time former WWF Champion who thinks wrestling is real and is accidentally proven right.

WCW, being a company that exists on its own and doesn’t feel at all like it’s still in the World Wrestling Federation’s shadow, even when their ratings are two points higher, opens the Nitro after Survivor Series with like 20 minutes of their evil heel team of popular ex-WWF stars saying, “BRET HART IS ON OUR TEAM NOW,” without Bret legally being able to appear himself. Long story short, Nitro starts with like 1/4 of the roster saying, “we all watched WWF, right? Wasn’t that crazy??”

The segment accomplishes four things:

  • announcing that Bret Hart is in the New World Order, which he technically isn’t yet, but everyone eventually is, so maybe they’re referencing a non-linear timeline
  • tricking the gullible-ass announce team into being like, “I can’t believe it, Bret Hart is DEFINITELY in the New World Order,” even though nothing about how sarcastic the segment is would actually suggest that, and even though their tendency to assume everyone is in the nWo has gotten them in trouble multiple times comma led to Sting spending a year and a half chilling in the rafters
  • bringing Kevin Nash back onto the show to answer the challenge of The Giant with, “hey big man, how about we both just be in a big battle royal?”
  • revealing that while Curt Hennig is perfect at a lot of things, “pitch” isn’t one of them

There’s only one thing that he hates, ’cause it’s a bunch of crap.

If that guy at the CFL game in Vegas hadn’t sung it to the tune of ‘O Tannenbaum,’ this would be the worst ‘O Canada’ performance of the ’90s. Has anyone in the United States actually heard that song?

Worst: Hulk Hogan Makes Sure You Know Sting Is A Normal Person Who Can’t Beat Hulk Hogan

Not to jump too far ahead, but if you remember watching Starrcade back in ’97, you remember Hulk Hogan making sure that despite a year and a half of build and every possible story point leading to “Hogan gets his ass kicked by Sting,” everyone knew Hogan was better than Sting and could beat him easily. And while a lot of people point to Hogan vs. Sting at Starrcade or the “Fingerpoke of Doom” or even the end of Goldberg’s streak as the most boneheaded thing WCW ever did, I think the dark horse answer to that question is this week’s Nitro.

Early in the show, Hogan and Bischoff storm to the ring to announce a new reason why they hate Sting: he’s trying to take Hogan’s place in Hollywood. They unroll a poster for the upcoming movie The Real Reason (Men Commit Crimes), a romantic farce starring Steve Borden, the unpainted, completely normal man who plays Sting. They even give us a closeup of his picture on the poster. And at no point is anyone like, “hey, maybe it’s a bad idea to demystify this gothic super hero we’ve created who doesn’t speak and has been traveling the country hanging out in rafters to morosely stalk his victims a month before the payoff we’ve been waiting for since last summer.” Hey kids, you know that really cool dark avenging wraith who can command vultures and take out an army by himself? He’s not actually bothered by anything, this is all fake, he’s been off shooting a rom-com.

To make things EVEN WORSE, the show ends with the reveal that while Sting can no-sell an attack from 15 nWo guys at once, he goes down like a chump via one (1) donkey punch from Hollywood Hogan.

So in this one episode Sting gets outed as a regular dude, gets KO’d by Hogan, and gets his ass kicked. And while I get the idea of building sympy for a babyface, you aren’t telling that kind of story. This story was, and was always, “Hogan runs his mouth and then a guy steps in and obliterates him.” Not, “Hogan gets to do whatever he wants for two years and then the only guy who can stop him actually can’t, and Hogan wins, and then Hogan does whatever he wants again.”

Worst: The Curt Hennig Story Ruins Two Matches

Hennig managed to ruin more than just the Canadian national anthem. Remember how last week’s Nitro ended with Ric Flair awkwardly “causing a disqualification” in Lex Luger’s match with Hennig, because Flair can’t resist running out to punch Hennig, so much so that he’ll wait two hours and only lose his temper at the end of the main event? Well this week, Hennig has to defend the United States Championship against Diamond Dallas Page — a guy who can’t afford to take any more losses but is a main-event player now, so all his matches end in stupid, noncommittal ways — and Flair has a “grudge match” with Luger.

Both of these matches are ruined by Hennig’s nWo run being complete garbage. Hennig/DDP ends with Hennig hitting Page with the United States Championship in those permanently injured, taped-up ribs, but getting his ass kicked by the injured guy when he tries to do it twice. Hennig runs BACK out at the end of Flair vs. Luger to cause another disqualification. So really the problem with all of this is, “WCW thinks Mr. Perfect is still a huge star, which he isn’t,” and “WCW has booked themselves into like five corners, so all they can do in important matches is have them all be non-finishes, which is supposed to ‘protect’ wrestlers, but actually helps and protects no one.” Hennig, a champion, loses a match, loses a cheap shot fight to an injured guy, and loses a fight after a second match he ruined.

This is such garbage I’m surprised the crowd isn’t throwing it at Scott Hall.

Worst: In Other nWo News On This Very Good Episode

… we get the return of one of the worst-ever match types, the one where Macho Man Randy Savage, objectively and unarguably one of the best pro wrestlers of all time, mails it the fuck in and takes a guy’s entire offense before hitting a single elbow drop and winning the match. We give guys like Hogan and John Cena shit for their unrealistic comebacks, but at least they were comebacks. Savage would get his ass kicked for 20 minutes and then jump on a dude once and win out of nowhere.

Here, it’s at the expense of Ray Traylor, a guy who is not exactly Goldberg when it comes to intense, sudden popularity, but who was very briefly involved in an angle where the nWo turned their backs on him, so he wanted to go through them “one by one” in a quest for revenge. You can kinda see how that’s going, and why you don’t remember that angle. Traylor kicks Savage’s ass, Miss Elizabeth trips him when he tries to go to the top rope, and Savage crushes him with an elbow. After the match, Savage is 100% fine, having regained all his HP via hitting his finisher, and he and Liz spray-paint Ray. Ray-paint? He’s nobody, is what they’re saying.

Let’s forget about these guys for a minute and see what’s going on on the rest of the show.


Best: A Good Week For The Flock

That emo Frankenstein with his nipple hanging out is Van Hammer, who you may remember as the big muscular guy who thought the best time to start a hair metal gimmick would be the early ’90s. If you’ve never seen him before, this video tells you everything you need to know. Hammer is the newest member of The Flock, because the one thing missing from their grunge aesthetic was, “the guy you’d accidentally start making out with when you were rolling at The Castle in Ybor City.”

The Flock technically picks up two members this week, but one’s *conflicted,* because he doesn’t know how to make the transition to “sexy grunge pirate” from his previous gimmick, “second most desirable wrestling gigolo.”

Disco Inferno, who will be challenging Perry Saturn at World War 3 in a rematch for the Television Championship, loses cleanly to Chris Jericho, because that’s how building up challengers works. After the match, a dejected Disco gets blasted in the face with a beverage by nice young Jewish cruiserweight boy turned heroin addict Billy Kidman, so he drags Kidman over the rail and beats his ass. The rest of the Flock attacks Disco, so recent Raven injury victim Scotty Riggs runs out to make the save.

Riggs will attack the members of The Flock, but when Raven gets in his face and even offers him a free punch to the jaw, Riggs is all, “OH NO, I’M FROZEN, WHAT DO I DO?” The announce team plays it up like Raven having a hypnotic influence over these jobbers, but I think it might’ve been an issue with his depth perception. But anyway, yeah, Raven increases his group’s firepower this week by adding the two ugliest members of Manowar.

Speaking of Perry Saturn and the Television Championshp, he gets a quick (and cheap) but enjoyable win over Chris Benoit, because before he went to WWE, the #1 descriptor for Chris Benoit was, “has the best matches on the show but they’re all three minutes long and he loses them.” The finish is this brutal tea-bagging, which Nick Patrick has to count while lying on his side staring at the entrance to pretend he can’t see Saturn’s gigantic arm grabbing the rope an inch from his face.

And speaking of members an inch from your face, Alex Wright takes on Yuji Nagata.

Worst: Finally, A New Romance For Debra

Last week, Sonny Onoo tried to give Psicosis $13 worth of pesos as “severance pay” for his “whole family.” This week, Sonny’s new “trying to pay people for weird reasons” gimmick continues with him paying Debra McMichael to let him kiss her. I don’t totally know what they’re going for here, but Onoo gives her a bunch of money, she’s happy with it, he kisses her, she gets mad about it, and he tries to take his his money back. Alex Wright, distracted by sexual assault, gets his leg kicked out of his leg by Yuji and taps out to the Nagata Lock.

In the most unsettling moment of the show, Sonny sells the kiss by wiping off his facial hair, which is closer to Road Warrior Hawk than Harlequin romance. I was going to make a joke about him wanting to get the Mongo smell off his face, but then I drifted off thinking about what Mongo actually smells like. New car smell, right? Mongo smells like new car smell.

Note: If you’re wondering, I would guess Stone Cold Steve Austin smells like Irish Spring and dust, and Jeff Jarrett smells like one of those off-brand candles you can buy at Wal-mart. Alex Wright 100% smells like a hot dog.

Worst: Poor Harlem Heat

Public Enemy, a team that hadn’t been on the show for months, got a Tag Team Championship shot two weeks ago. They lost. They somehow got ANOTHER Tag Team Championship match last week, because Philadelphia, and almost shoot murdered Rick Steiner. The entire time you’re like, “hey, members of Harlem Heat wrestled the Steiners for like a year trying to get a title shot, and they never got one. Maybe the Heat can get the next shot?” WCW hears you, and their response is [wanking motion intensifies].

This week, Harlem Heat opens the show losing cleanly via double underhook suplex to the Blue Bloods, who haven’t even been a team in AGES. Dave Taylor had a whole period where he was on a George St. Geegland-style pussy Safari between the last time they teamed on television and them beating Harlem Heat here. Poor members of Harlem Heat. Poor, poor members of Harlem Heat.

Best: A Cold Hart

Glacier (who smells like unflavored shaved ice) returns this week with a new focus and a talking point from Tony Schiavone about how he’s gonna try to work in more pro wrestling and fewer martial arts moves, takes on The Barbarian (who smell’s like your grandpa’s favorite chair). As usual, if you love Glacier like I do, you’re into it. If you’re not, or you’re a person from 1997, you aren’t. Glacier wins the Gold Rush Tournament here by superkicking Bavarian as he’s jumping off the ropes.

The notable moment of the match is the return of Jimmy Hart, who hasn’t been on the show for a while but needs to return because the random savage heels need a manager before World War 3. That picture is of Jimmy selling a Cryonic Kick, which is fabulous. Meng ends up attacking Glaish during his snow-lebration and chokes him out — pinches him out? — with the Tongan Death Grip.

Best, Except For That DDT: Eddie Guerrero Is Cruiserweight Champion

What I wrote about the legendary backflip DDT from the Eddie Guerrero vs. Rey Mysterio Jr. Cruiserweight Championship match at Halloween Havoc:

And, of course, there’s this … maybe the dopest move ever pulled off in a WCW ring, so complex and perfectly timed that even Guerrero and Mysterio couldn’t flawlessly pull it off again.

For example:

They seriously never pull it off the same way again.

Without the pressures of pay-per-view, the “mask vs. title” stipulation or Mysterio’s SLAM EVIL The Phantom costume, Guerrero’s able to string a series of moves together and finally put Rey away to win back the Cruiserweight Championship. Rey had beaten him three times in a row before this, so Eddie finally getting his shit together and getting on the board is the right call.

After the match, Dean Malenko shows up to stare aggressively — a move at which he is a Viking — to set up a title match for next week and the eventual challenger for the belt at Starrcade. That would end up being one of the only two passable matches at once of the worst and most infuriatingly incompetent big events in WCW (and pro wrestling) history. But hey, we’ll get to that.

Next Week:

The go-home show for World War 3 (also known as “2017”), featuring multiple title matches, Diamond Dallas Page taking on the insurmountable challenge of Villano IV, and moral compass Chris Benoit assures us that Bret Hart would never join this nWo.

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