Previously on the Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro: Arn Anderson retired from wrestling in an inspiring, tear-jerking speech, giving his “spot” in the Four Horsemen to Curt Hennig. It’s one of those timeless moments that touches the hearts of wrestling fans forever. Nothing could ruin that! Not in a million years!
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 September 1, 1997.
Best/Worst: The Man Of 1,000 Halliburtons
Now that the Four Horsemen are back to full strength and not being easy anymore, you’d think they’d be done with the whole “Jeff Jarrett was a Horseman and now he’s not and all he accomplished was ruining a football star’s marriage” fiasco, right? This is WCW, friend. Issues here are never over. It’s 2017 and I guarantee you that while you’re reading this, somewhere’s halfway through a wrestling show and just watched Jeff Jarrett knock Steve McMichael out by hitting him in the back with a briefcase.
The good news, I guess, is that Jarrett’s at least multitasking while he feuds with Mongo. He’s also got beef with Dean Malenko now, thanks to his months-long plan to court Malenko just to make him look like an idiot during an elimination tag match at a biker rally. This week’s opening match is Jarrett and Eddie Guerrero against Mongo and Chris Benoit, which the Horsemen win when future Horse Person Malenko shows up and frog splashes Jarrett. I think it’s important to note that the Horsemen are at “full strength” now and still almost lost this curtain-jerking tag match to a couple of randomly assembled jerks.
The crowd loves it, though. Ever since Road Wild, everything Jeff Jarrett touches turns into molten crowd reactions. Genesis of “Slapnuts” aside, I don’t think the guy’s ever been as over as he was for the final couple of months of his first WCW run.
Jarrett gets his revenge later in the show when he utilizes his patented Stone Cold Stunner™ to help the opposite of Jeff Jarrett, Yuji Nagata, defeat Malenko. These two will eventually settle their differences at Fall Brawl in a THIS HAS WAY TOO MUCH TIME match.
I think the highlight of this one is Larry Zbyszko shitting all over Malenko for not being in good enough shape to break arms on the mat like he used to. Surprisingly, this is not the most ridiculous and/or offensive thing Larry “Japanese people have seven hearts and will deceive you” Zbyszko says on the night.
What We Did Inside The Black Ropes This Week
As you know if you watched any WCW show from 1996 until it folded, they didn’t do much right, but they understood cruiserweight wrestling. They knew that to truly differentiate cruiserweights from the rest of the roster, they had to — get this — do things the rest of the roster couldn’t do. Modern cruiserweight divisions will say “we gave Mustafa Ali 5 minutes of TV time and no promo time this week, pop for his 450 splash,” then be like, “here’s beloved superstar AJ Styles cutting promos to set up our heavyweight main event, and he can do a 450 splash!” Dean Ambrose is out there at like 240 doing the same boring dive they let everyone else do.
Anyway, WCW did two things wrong with their cruiserweight division:
- They occasionally needed bodies for the more important characters on the show to beat up, so you’d get Scott Steiner mauling four cruiserweights for no good reason, and
- They just did too much of it, sometimes all in a row
This show’s a great example of the second point. They run a hot Ultimo Dragon vs. La Parka match (which we’ll get into in a second), and then two matches later they run Lizmark Jr., who is not Ultimo Dragon, vs. Villano IV, whose ass isn’t even Villano III. WCW never seemed to figure out that SOME luchadores were super over, and some might as well have been Mike Tenay in a Pink Panther mask.
Our good friend Larry Zbyszko sums it up:
Lizmark wins with a moonsault, if you’re keeping score 20 years later, and the crowd couldn’t give a fuck if they were handed one before the match and ordered at gun point to give it back.
The other aimless cruiserweight schmozz of the night happens later in the show, when Chris Jericho is supposed to defend the WCW Cruiserweight Championship against Chavo Guerrero Jr. Eddie shows up and demands that Chavo once again hand over his title shot to him, but Chavo refuses. This brings out Scotty Riggs (?), who thinks HE deserves a shot. Then everyone else in the cruiserweight division shows up looking for a title shot, and I mean EVERYONE. Pre-Crisis Billy Kidman’s out there, Ciclope, even SUPER ASTRO, whose WCW career consisted of one (1) dark match a few weeks later. Tony Schiavone sums up my thoughts with an incredulous, “Super Astro?” and all Mike Tenay can add is, “he’s another one of the luchadors from Mexico!”
Ultimately the argument turns into a makeshift battle royal, ending with Eddie frog splashing the Cruiserweight Championship into Jericho’s chest. Keep your eyes peeled for Kidman deciding it’d be a good idea to do a shooting star press off the apron to the floor in NOT A MATCH, in front of a crowd that hasn’t even been told his name, while like 10 guys stand in the ring blocking the view of most of the crowd.
Once again, the announce team works overtime to put over the talent in the ring:
Poor Super Astro. He never did get that title shot he earned by never wrestling.
In good cruiserweight news, this Ultimo Dragon vs. La Parka match rips. Even the ring entrances are good, as Sonny Onoo brings out a framed picture of him putting the Dragon in a Dragon Sleeper from an attack on WCW Saturday Night. I don’t know how often Sonny goes to wrestling conventions or whatever, but if he sells 8x10s, this better be one of them:
These guys had an underwhelming match on Nitro a few weeks ago, so they’re both visibly out here to make up for it. La Parka’s wrestling like I wrestled as La Parka in WCW video games, namely doing his full dance taunt after every move. Few things bring me joy in this world like a chubby skeleton man from 20 years ago clapping with his knees to celebrate a properly executed dropkick.
Parka breaks out the Chris Hamrick/Alberto Del Rio bump through the ropes to the floor, and Dragon’s in there bouncing around like he just drank a pitcher of 5-Hour Energy. He gets his revenge for the deep, personal insult of Framed Photography by slamming Sonny after the match and choking him out. As we learned from Jason and the Argonauts and the various Castlevania games, skeletons can only protect you so much.
And hey, speaking of skeletons, here’s Mortis taking on Silver King. Silver King’s been kicking a lot of ass lately, because maybe he knew his booking capped out at “another one of the luchadors from Mexico” and wanted something better.
There’s not much to say here, though, other than (1) Mortis interestingly uses the Flatliner you know, the reverse STO where it looks like you’re Rock Bottoming yourself, to set up the original Flatliner, the Samoan drop off the second rope, and (2) the Faces of Fear once again attack him after the match, setting up the best match at Fall Brawl ’97.
Worst: Stevie Richards Even Loses When He Wins
Also kind of in the cruiserweight division this week — see? It’s so much — is Stevie Richards vs. Damien. Raven Evenflow DDTs Damien on the concrete before the match and rolls him into the ring for Richards to pin, but Stevie doesn’t get it and tries to resuscitate him with CPR and mouth-to-mouth. It takes Raven smacking Stevie in the face again to get him to take the easy win. It’s … kind of funny? I guess?
And Speaking Of Kind Of Funny
This week, Lee Marshall is in Wisconsin, so he ties in Green Bay and says “wease heads” instead of “cheese heads.” Heenan’s response is to say Lee’s also known as the “Limburger Man,” which is so not funny but also hilarious that I’ve been laughing about it all week. Lee Marshall is absolutely the Limburger Man.
Worst: He’s Coming (Back)!
Best Buff Bagwell, Master Of Karate
If you were wondering how Glacier’s undefeated streak as a singles competitor ended, it happened thanks to the dreaded combination of nWo Vincent grabbing his foot too many times and Buff Bagwell hitting a few moves between INTENSE MOCKINGS. One of them is pictured above. Buff Bagwell ruled so hard I can’t even explain it sometimes. His gimmick of basically riffing his own matches was top shelf, and if he’d been allowed to do even 10% of that in his one awful Raw match it might’ve not shit the bed so mightily.
Anyway, one of my favorite tangential Glacier moments ever happens in this match, when he does his full elaborate entrance with snow and lasers and custom body armor. When the lights come on, the camera pans over to Buff making this stunned face, and he mouths, “what was THAT?”
The only real hiccup in the match is a mistimed high crossbody spot that looked like it hurt like a mother. Glacier would occasionally do this thing where he’d jump off one buckle, miss a strike, roll through, jump onto the diagonal buckle and come back with a crossbody, right? Well, one or both of them didn’t time it right, and Glacier ended up hitting the lowest possible crossbody onto Buff’s knees.
Buff eventually wins with the Blockbuster thanks to an assist from Virgil and the impossible blindness of referee Mark Curtis. Glacier’s win streak would live on in history as one of the most impressive ever seen in WCW, at least for the three weeks between this loss and Goldberg’s debut.
Best, Then Worst: The Traylor Park
Remember back in February when someone attacked nWo member Big Bubba in the parking lot? No? Well, apparently neither did the New World Order, because Big Bubba has returned and is spitting HOT BABYFACE FIRE.
Doctors told him he’d never walk again, he’d never wrestle again, and nobody sent him a card or letter or came to visit him in the hospital … in fact, the only correspondence he got from the nWo was a telegram telling him he was fired. So he put up a photo of Eric Bischoff, and every time someone told him he couldn’t do something, he’d look at Bischoff’s face and take a step. Now he’s back, and he’s done playing games, and he’s Ray Traylor, and Ray Traylor’s gonna rip Bischoff’s head off. It’s an absolutely fantastic, epic babyface promo that could’ve positioned Traylor as one of the primary soldiers in WCW’s war against the nWo, and then he immediately goes to the ring and wrestles like a heel against Prince Iaukea. So … no?
Best: The Dancing Fools
From the Best and Worst of WWF Raw is War 4/21/97:
Over on WCW Monday Nitro, booker slash satanic George Costanza Kevin Sullivan and his girlfriend “from the neighborhood” Jacqueline have been beating up and humiliating jobbers. Apparently WCW wanted Disco Inferno to get beaten up by Jacqueline and disappear for six months (despite him only having four months left on his contract), and Disco was like, “wait, you want me to get beaten up by a lady half my size and then never come back? No thank you.” They fired him for it. So HE was supposed to be the new Honky Tonk Man, to the point that they put a silhouette of him in WWF Magazine. But then WCW hit him with a no-compete for that four months of remaining contract, WWF got restless and Disco never got hired. So Disco went back to WCW, and Billy goddamn Gunn ended up as Honky 2.
But hey, at least now Disco’s back where he belongs, as ship #2 in a Ships In The Night scenario with WCW’s best dancer, Alex Wright. Disco’s return involves him interrupting a Nitro Girls routine, which as you know is Alex’s territory, so they engage in a tense dance-off that ends in a shoving match.
Cooler enormous heads prevail, however, as Disco returns a few minutes later to help Wright defeat Hugh Morrus. The crowd chants “DIS-CO! DIS-CO!” and Randy Anderson like, blatantly watches him attack Hugh Morrus, but doesn’t call for the disqualification. Because really, why would you ever side with Hugh Morrus? Has dude even been on the show since Big Ray ran him over with a motorcycle?
Worst: Don’t Do It, Hollywood
Last week, WCW Executive Head of Something Something James J. Dillon announced that he was going to do everything in his power to make sure Sting got a match with Hollywood Hogan, you know, despite giving Sting a “talk to me before the end of the Clash of the Champions or you’re not getting anything” ultimatum, Sting not saying shit, and JJ responding with “I HEARD YOU LOUD AND CLEAR, SOMEHOW.”
This week, Hogan responds to Dillon promising to make the match by beating him up and leg-dropping him. As you do. This is inadvertently the biggest heel move in nWo history, as eliminating Dillon created the need for an interim commissioner, and I bet you can’t guess which one-hipped homophobe is coming back soon and would love another match with Hollywood Hogan.
The best Hogan moment of the week, however, has to be Larry Zbyszko throwing shade at him for his cocaine habit on live television:
Hey Hogan, you should start snorting cruiserweights, Larry wouldn’t give a shit about that.
Worst: CAN THEY COEXIST?
Man, WCW can’t get their shit together to save their lives.
At the Clash of the Champions, pre-bird nonsense, Diamond Dallas Page and Lex Luger lost to the nWo when Page got blinded and accidentally hit a Diamond Cutter on Luger. He didn’t mean to, obviously, so he showed up on Nitro to apologize. Lex didn’t accept the apology. So later that night, Lex got blinded and accidentally put Page in the Torture Rack. He didn’t mean to, obviously, so he shows up on Nitro to apologize. Page doesn’t accept the apology.
The main event of this show is Diamond Dallas Page and Lex Luger versus the nWo. Can you guess what happens? If you said, “one of them accidentally hits the other one and WCW loses to the nWo for like the 60th time this episode,” congratulations, you’ve got a third grader’s capacity for abstract thought and could’ve booked this show.
Page and Luger have to get on the same page soon, or Team WCW will be compromised at War Games! So join us next week for Diamond Dallas Page vs. Lex Luger, both guys being taken out of War Games before it starts, none of this mattering, and quite possibly the worst hand shake ever attempted on a televised wrestling program.
Best: Average Carpentry Skills
The thing you’d remember from this episode is this, the nWo parodying last week’s legitimate emotional retirement and taking it to the fucking woodshed.
Detached from how bad it made the Horsemen feel for trying to have an actual human moment on a wrestling show and the Horsemen never, ever getting to beat the shit out of them for doing it, it’s funny. It’s SUPER funny. Syxx doing an impression of Ric Flair by saying “woo” after every line (whether he’s talking or not) was Southpaw before Southpaw, Konnan looked EXACTLY like Mongo somehow and wouldn’t stop rubbing his hands, and Buff Bagwell is the unsung hero of the entire thing. His thing at the end where he’s like, “I don’t like you, and I don’t like the Four Horsemen, but I tell you what, IT WOULD BE AN HONOR” is amazing. Kevin Nash as a gigantic, dying Arn Anderson in a Canadian tuxedo wearing a neck brace and holding a beer cooler under his arm kinda speaks for itself. It’s brutal, and biting, and totally smokes every non-Jason Sensation part of the D-X Nation parody. And it sure as hell aged better.
The sad thing, though, is that you can’t detach it, at least not from the rebuttal thing. If the Horsemen had shown up at the end of this segment, or later in the show, or at any point ever and just tire ironed the shit out of the nWo, it would’ve been awesome. They should’ve gone complete old school heel and broken their hands in the parking lot. Rub their face in concrete until their noses break. Instead, they look like a joke, act like a joke, and are even MORE of a joke at Fall Brawl. They never recover, either. This nukes them, completely.
And that’s a shame, because it’s really good.
Join us next week for a new acting chairman for the executive committee (sigh), Mark Curtis shooting on a fan, and a Sting segment that’ll make you breathe through your teeth so hard it might break them.