Previously on the Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro: Rick Rude jumped ship from Raw to Nitro due to the Montreal Screwjob, and the nWo celebrated by beating up everyone for two hours without consequence. Also, Ernest Miller learned how to throw a hadoken.
Click here to watch this week’s episode on WWE Network, and click here to watch the pay-per-view. 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.
Remember, if you want us to keep writing 20-year-old WCW jokes, click the share buttons and spread the column around. If you don’t tell them how much you like these, nobody’s going to read them. If you’re a fan of the vintage reports, make sure you check out the ill-advised and somehow-still-going NWA TNA weekly pay-per-view recap series, as well as the ridiculous The Wrestling Episode column I decided to revive.
Up first, let’s find out what happened in this year’s annual 60-Man Battle Royal That Seemed Like A Good Idea On Paper.
Before We Begin
Here’s what you need to know about WCW World War 3 1997. We’re keeping the number the same but changing the year, so what, is this a continuation of the same World War 3 that began in 1995, or are we technically on World War 5?
Goldberg’s Streak Is Over At 7-1
Remember that incredible, unprecedented win streak that propelled one William Scott Goldberg from an awkward Power Planter you’d expect to lose to Hugh Morrus to a massive multi-media star who could anchor his own shitty Christmas film? It was great, uh, mostly, but it also for all intents and purposes ended at World War 3 ’97 at the chihuahua-laden hands of Steve ‘Mongo’ McMichael.
I don’t believe it technically counted as a loss in the WCW rule book, but here are the facts. Goldberg was supposed to wrestle Mongo in a signed, announced match at World War 3. Before the match, Mongo knocked out Goldberg with a pipe. They played Goldberg’s music and he couldn’t make it out, so Mongo declares himself the winner. He notably doesn’t ask for a replacement for Goldberg … he asks for a second opponent, because he’s out here ready for a fight or whatever. Debra brings out WCW’s Top Substitute Wrestler Alex Wright to get squashed in about three minutes, and Mongo wins again. So if you wanna get technical, Mongo either (1) won by forfeit, then beat Alex Wright, or (2) beat Goldberg’s proxy in a match only Goldberg had signed for.
So … who’s last? Mongo. Mongo is last.
Ric Flair Hurt Himself And World War 3 Is Ruined
Here’s a pro tip: if you’re Ric Flair and you’re already almost 50 years old, maybe keep your offense limited to chops and low blows and taking backdrops and stop trying to come off the top to the floor like you’re the Macho Man? Perhaps inspired by Savage’s month of ridiculous jumping, Nature Boy decides he’s a cruiserweight, comes off the ropes to the cement in his United States Championship match with Curt Hennig and wrecks his ankle.
While that’s not a huge deal, really — Flair’s back in the ring by the middle of the next month — it does keep him out of the World War 3 battle royal. Flair’s promise to win that match had been one of the only narratives they even ATTEMPTED during the build for it, so losing him at the last second was a huge blow. Plus, you’re already putting guys like Bobby Blaze, John Nord and Kendall Windham in the match because you’re struggling to get to 60. Now you lose Flair?
Good news: WCW has a backup plan. And it’s hilariously terrible!
The nWo Wins Again And The Rules Don’t Matter
- a battle royal with 60 people in it SOUNDS cool, but you don’t even have 30 characters that matter, so half the match is a non-factor before it begins and it still takes 20 minutes to clear them out
- the three-ring set-up means you’re asking an already scatterbrained WCW announce team to call three battle royals simultaneously, while watching a triple split-screen that makes seeing what’s happening impossible
- because of this, you’ve got a crowd sitting on their hands mulling through like an hour of meaningless “OH NO SILVER KING HAS BEEN ELIMINATED I THINK, HE’S ON THE FLOOR BUT NOBODY SAW HIM GO OVER, I GUESS HE’S OUT” shit while you wait for the final five or six guys to start brawling. That’s when this starts for most people.
The Royal Rumble is probably the best gimmick match ever because it combines everything that’s good about battle royals with a lot of what’s good about one-on-one matches and rivalries, minus most of the aimless battle royal brawling to weed through the chumps, minus the downtime between segments. It’s a battle royal structured so you can pay attention to all of it.
Anyway, I don’t know if this is bad WCW booking or a booking committee hopelessly calling an audible, so I’ll let you decide. Basically, Flair’s supposed to be a major player in World War 3, but they put him in a no disqualification match right before it and he hurt himself. So now they do this weird thing where they keep mentioning how Kevin Nash is gonna be back, and how Kevin Nash is the 60th man, and how Kevin Nash is in his hometown of Detroit and blah blah blah. The match starts. No Kevin Nash at all, and the announce team specifically notes that there are only 59 men in the match.
When it gets down to the final three, like an hour later, Scott Hall does a big nWo taunt and Hollywood Hogan shows up as the 60th man. They brawl for a little bit, with Hogan taking zero (0) bumps, and then STING ARRIVES. Except it’s that 7-foot Sting with long blonde hair who wears a plastic Sting mask to the ring instead of painting his face. You know, Sting Auténtico. Hogan scurries to the floor out of fear, but it turns out it’s The Ultimate Swerve, as this Sting is actually (gasp) [checks notes] Kevin Nash.
So what was Hogan doing there? He doesn’t actually affect the match at all. You could’ve gone straight from Scott Hall vs. Giant and Lex Luger to “Sting” showing up and helping Hall win. Is Hogan there to fill in for Flair, because they needed to authentically have 60 men in the ring, and wanted Nash to be 61? Does Nash actually being in the match to also take no bumps and hit some people with a bat before posing hurt what you’re going for? Or was this the plan all along, with Flair looking like an idiot for hurting himself, WCW failing to get their shit together and the nWo doing two (2) non-consecutive run-ins to win a match? To win a match that gives them a guaranteed title shot at Super Brawl, even though they still have that contract rule where they can pick and choose when they have title matches and don’t even need it?
I think this sets a good tone for Nitro, don’t you?
And now, the Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro for November 24, 1997.
Worst: No, Seriously, World War 3 Didn’t Matter
If that two pages of nihilism didn’t put you in the mood for peak WCW programming, let’s try this: Hollywood Hogan opens the show bragging about how he managed to enter World War 3 and not get hit once, and that sets up The Giant showing up to challenge him to a World Heavyweight Championship match right here tonight. Hogan agrees to it because Giant’s chokeslammin’ hand is injured.
I just wanted to take a moment to point out that WCW just had a pay-per-view in which 60 men had to battle in three rings for an hour to get a shot at Hogan’s Championship belt in February, but The Giant, who did not win, wandered out at the top of a Nitro and said, “title match,” and Hogan agreed. That’s the first segment you choose to do after an entire night of showing what an ordeal it is to get title shots.
Then, after all of that, the match plays out exactly like you’d expect. Hogan does some cartoonish selling to put over The Giant’s greatest weapon — being injured? — and then the fake Sting shows up again to attack The Giant and cost him the match. So, exactly what you saw at World War 3, minus about 55 guys plus Hogan stooging for big palmy “punches” to the top of his head. Plus, Nash wearing the Sting mask on top of his head and bending over makes him look like a monster from a Guillermo del Toro film.
The good news: Tired of having his image abused and manipulated again, the real Sting shows up and kicks the nWo’s ass. The bad news: this is WCW, where this is no good news, so that’s a lie. He still doesn’t show up, meaning he’s missed three shows in a row due to Hogan punching him in the back of the head once. Also, the New World Order gets to kill him again, even when he’s not around:
You’re probably trained from watching wrestling or like, competently made action films, so maybe you’re thinking they dropped the Sting mannequin from the ceiling and took turns gruesomely swatting it in the head with a baseball bat because when their guard is down, Actual Sting’s gonna crawl up from the hole in the ring and take them to the woodshed. Or something like that, right?
Except no, they just pose around the lifeless Sting effigy because they won and he can’t do anything.
Again, the good news: the end of this story is quickly approaching, as Hogan’s ego has gone absolutely nuclear, and he feels like he can do or say anything without reproach. But he’s got WCW’s biggest avenging angel sprinting toward him, and a mega-superstar about to arrive from the other company who shares both Sting’s finisher and his old-timey sense of traditional pro wrestling justice.
And again, the bad news: what column do you think you’re reading?
Stop Me If You’ve Heard This Before, But The nWo Had A Great Night!
Poor Ray Traylor can’t catch a break. He has Curt Hennig pinned with a Regular Man Slam for the United States Championship and the nWo are supposed to break it up, cause a disqualification, and beat him down. They miss their cue, though, so Hennig has to kick out of Traylor’s finish. And Traylor STILL gets the shit kicked out of him, meaning he’s added “blow up my best offense” to his weekly regimen of being stomped for several minutes while people who don’t know how to use spray-praint try to write on him.
Disco Inferno also gets this treatment, following up his surprisingly well-wrestled Television Championship match with Perry Saturn at World War 3 by getting brow-beaten by the Macho Man, literally and figuratively, and having four top rope elbows dropped on him. Because I guess Randy Savage hates the “Disco Inferno” and thinks only he should get to be named after a disco hit?
Savage lets Miss Elizabeth also “pin” Disco after the match, presumably setting up Disco Inferno vs. Liz for Starrcade.
Finally this week we have Larry Zbyszko calling out Scott Hall for a fight, and instead getting Eric Bischoff (far away, surrounded by security) and a propaganda leaflet drop featuring black and white images of Bischoff pinning Larry. Those can be seen in this shot, being eaten by a fan (?):
Here’s a good idea: if you go to a wrestling show and somebody drops garbage on the floor, pick it up and put it in your mouth.
But yeah, Bischoff says Larry can’t get a match with Hall because he can’t even beat him. Larry uses an aural game of chess to coax Bischoff into a “verbal agreement” for a match that –spoiler alert — eventually becomes for control of Monday Nitro. With Bret Hart as the special guest referee for some reason. In the semi-main of the biggest pay-per-view of the year.
when the 1-800-COLLECT rep corners u at a party
“LAST NIGHT I WAS AT THE PALACE OF AUBURN HILLS IN AUBURN HILLS, MICHIGAN, AND WCW WAS THE HOTTEST TICKET IN TOWN. AUBURN HILLS OF COURSE KNOWN AS HOME TO THE WORLD HEADQUARTERS OF CHRYSLER AND WAS THE SITE OF OUR PAY-PER-VIEW EXTRAVAGANZA WORLD WAR 3. FANS PILED IN TO THE PALACE TO SEE ALL THE HOT WCW ACTION BUT WERE REPORTEDLY BOTHERED BY COMMENTARY … SEVERAL MICHIGANDERS LEAVING THE ARENA COMPLAINED THAT THANKS TO COLOR FROM BOBBY HEENAN, THEY’D CALL THE MATCH WORLD WAR WEASE. AND THAT’S THE SITTING NEXT TO YOU REPORT, I’M LEE MARSHALL FOR 1-800-COLLECT.”
“I asked if you knew where the bathroom was”
“NEXT WEEK THE BATHROOM AT THE KNOXVILLE CIVIC COLISEUM WILL BE ROCKIN’ AS NITRO INVADES KNOXVILLE”
Worst: Pro Wrestling’s Greatest Romance Is Over
4.5 billion years ago, when the Earth was still young, Debra McMichael left her wrestling football husband to manage living fence post Jeff Jarrett. When he left the company, Debra’s un-boyfriend became Alex Wright, a German man who is 80% penile bulge and cares more about graphically looping the one dance move he knows than being good to anyone. After getting his ass kicked by Football Guy for about a month for shit he had nothing to do with — the Jarrett love triangle, Goldberg wanting Mongo’s Super Bowl ring — Wright finally decides to dump Debra.
What’s the final straw? Debra gets on the apron to “cheer on” Alex, gets her dress stuck in the middle turnbuckle, gets into a five minute argument with the referee about how she can’t move, and causes Alex to lose a match to PRINCE IAUKEA. “Got pinned by WCW’s worst wrestler due to a dress malfunction” is a dumpable offense, right? You either get dumped or they add you to the TNA roster.
So as far as I remember, that’s a WCW wrap on Debra. She shows up later in the episode to try to get back with Mongo, and he’s all, “GOALONG HOME LIL GURL” or whatever, and that’s that. Mongo and Debra would be divorced nine months later, and before nine turns to ten she’s on WWF TV.
With Jeff Jarrett. “Never send to know for whom the Halliburton turns; it turns for thee.”
Best: WORLD TOUR
Before I forget to mention it, this week’s show is brought to you by WCW’s two new video games: WCW Nitro for the Playstation, notable mostly for that Alex Wright promo I still quote in full in real life 5-7 times a day, and the glorious WCW vs. nWo World Tour for the Nintendo 64.
I love World Tour tremendously, and while it’s not as good as its sequel, Revenge, or the WWF games that followed it (WrestleMania 2000 and WWF No Mercy, specifically), it’s the reason those happened. Bless it for existing if only for it not being WCW Nitro, which plays like someone trying to break your fingers and has worse graphics than your toaster.
Worst And/Or Ironic Best: This Orderly Conduct
Harlem Heat still can’t get a WCW Tag Team Championship match, but Disorderly Conduct sure as hell can! Meet “Tough” Tom and “Mean” Mike, the formerly masked Texas Hangmen now doin’ it Beverly Brothers style as a team so dedicated to causing anarchy with their mullets and completely purple jumpsuits. Also, their inability to do anything athletic whatsoever, including being picked up by Steiner Brothers without looking like total incompetents.
They lose to the Steiners after getting in way too much offense. Like, Public Enemy levels of “how are these guys still wrestling a match at all” offense. Anyway, keep an eye on D.C. heading into 1998, when they meet their destined rivals High Voltage and wrestle them on loop until both teams disappear.
Also Happening On This Episode
Booker T gets a surprise win over Meng via roll-up, leading to the dreaded post-match Tongan Death Gripping. Stevie Ray shows up to make the save for his brother with a goddamn WOODEN CHAIR, which is historically the least damaging thing you can hit an enraged Meng with. Like, wooden chairs do negative damage to Meng. That’s why he’s the only wrestler that ever gets hit by them. Stevie Ray could’ve ran out palming a chinchilla and jammed it in Meng’s face and it would’ve hurt him more.
J.J. Dillon wants answers from Raven about his contract status, as the contract they sent over to him was returned with stuff “scribbled in the margins.” According to Raven, he’ll only be in WCW if he gets to sit where he wants, do what he wants, wrestle when he wants, wrestle no disqualification matches and have the right to like, sub-in his subordinates if he doesn’t feel like competing. For some reason Dillon is like, “yes, this is all fine,” instead of telling him to put his toilet brush head between his jorts and kiss his ass goodbye.
Raven debuts two new members of the Flock this week — Scotty Riggs, fresh from a brain-washing at World War 3, and a still-unnamed Lodi, who’s basically the team’s “sign guy” — and subs in Sick Boy to fight Chris Benoit. You can imagine how well that goes. It’s a fun match that starts the magical trend of Benoit having to hulk up and destroy 7 dudes at once in the hopes of Streets of Raging his way through the squad to get to the leader, and almost always falling short. He gets through everyone but Saturn here.
Finally this week we have Dean Malenko defeating Brad Armstrong in a match I can only imagine is happening because WWF put the Road Dogg on TV and WCW was like, “oh, we have one of those.” It’s fine, but so uneventful I had to screencap Charles Robinson mid-spasm to have something approaching interesting for it.
And … uh, that’s the show!
Diamond Dallas Page challenges for that United States Championship nobody can seem to win, Buff Bagwell takes on Lex Luger in a match for all you Totally Buff completionists, and Hollywood Hogan battles some old ladies. So … not much, but hey, Starrcade’s almost here! Things will get better once we’ve made it to [checks notes] … the biggest letdown in wrestling history.
(See you next week.)