The Best And Worst Of WCW Road Wild 1997

Previously on the Best and Worst of Pro Wrestling at a Biker Rally: Harlem Heat got booed by thousands of white people in Confederate flag bandanas, the Steiner Brothers attempted an online chat, Nick Patrick ruined a match finish involving the Outsiders, and Hollywood Hogan won the WCW World Heavyweight Championship by cheating in the main event and spray-painted “nWo” on it. This year is completely different.

This joke’s really going to hit you in about a thousand words.

Click here to watch this week’s “adult-themed 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 Road Wild for August 9, 1997.

Best: The Return Of Sturgis Fashion

The best part of any Something Wild pay-per-view is the announcer fashion, as Dusty Rhodes, Tony Schiavone and Bobby Heenan try to look like biker enthusiasts and not like a cowboy, a baseball stats dork and a 60-year old intellectual comma weasel. The outfits are basically the same ones they wore last year, only Bobby’s stolen Tony’s hat. And Dusty kinda looks like they brought in a famous Instagram pug to do color.

Just like least year, Mean Gene Okerlund is the show’s true fashion plate, debuting a SWORD STABBING ROSES tattoo he doesn’t remember getting.

I hope he added a scroll under it that reads “HOLY BALLS” in Sailor Jerry font.

Worst: Harlem Heat Gets Booed By Thousands Of White People In Confederate Flag Bandanas

This is a really funny situation to me. And by “funny” I of course mean stupid and horrible.

So, at Hog Wild — if you’re wondering why it’s “Road” Wild this year instead of “Hog,” WCW got scared of a possible copyright infringement situation with the Harley Owners Group — Harlem Heat got booed for being black guys. That’s all the crowd needed. People revved at them and held up Confederate flags, and the camera caught little white kids giving them the finger.

This year, Members of Harlem Heat go into the pay-per-view as the faces and open the show against the New World Order. That should be a clear-cut “good guy vs. bad guy” situation. WCW gets afraid of how the crowd’s going to react to Booker and Stevie, so they book the match with Buff Bagwell basically being a super babyface. He’s taking out both guys with clotheslines off hot tags and hitting fired-up dropkicks and shit. The only problem is that this year, the Sturgis crowd appears to like Harlem Heat, and even chants for them at the beginning of the match. But as it goes on, the match itself instructs them to boo the black guys and cheer the white guys even though the alignments are all wrong. It’s the ultimate in “damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”

The also book Harlem Heat to CHEAT TO WIN, as they get help from their new valet, Miss Jacqueline. If you’re looking for a reason she’s their manager besides “she’s also black,” good luck. She climbs on Scott Norton’s back while the referee’s not paying attention and holds him so Booker can kick him in the face a couple of times and win the match. After the match, the Members are like, “THAT’S HOW YOU DO IT,” and I spend most of it imagining that Kevin Sullivan’s “neighborhood” was in Harlem, and that leads to me picturing him in the flaming chest harness and do-rag.

Best: The Steiner Brothers Attempt An Online Chat

First of all, there’s no way that laptop is getting Internet in the middle of a motorcycle rally in the middle of South Dakota in 1997. I bet you couldn’t get Internet there now. That’s a prop laptop, and the Steiners look so confused because they’re watching that pimple-faced intern play Snake.

Second of all … Rick Steiner’s upside-down headgear. Great look, or BEST look?

Worst: Nick Patrick Ruins A Match Finish Involving The Outsiders

This is one of the most frustrating match finishes of all time, and it might not even be the most frustrating finish on this show.

Throughout 1996, the Steiner Brothers won a bunch of number one contender matches and did everything they could to get a shot at The Outsiders, specifically Scott Hall and Kevin Nash, and the WCW Tag Team Championship. In January at nWo Souled Out, which I should remind you is seven months before Road Wild, the Steiners finally got their match and miraculously won when WCW referee Randy Anderson hit the ring and counted the pin. The very next night on Nitro, Eric Bischoff reversed the decision, fired Randy Anderson, and awarded the tag titles back to The Outsiders.

Since then, for SEVEN MONTHS, the Steiner Brothers have been trying to get a tag title shot. This run included an attempted manslaughter found footage angle and about 30 number one contender matches, roughly 27 of them with Harlem Heat. At Road Wild, the Steiners finally, finally got their shot.

After about 10 minutes of Scott Steiner as the face in peril and the Outsiders cheating without Nick Patrick catching any of it, Rick finally tags in. They hit the Steiner Bulldog (which always should’ve been called the Bulldogged-faced Gremlin) and pin Hall. At two, Nash pulls Patrick out of the ring. Patrick calls for the bell. The Steiners win, but by disqualification. Meaning that after all of this, after OVER A YEAR OF THIS, The Outsiders are still Tag Team Champions and the Steiners can’t accomplish shit. Maddening. Mark maddening.

The Steiners have to wait two more months before they get another title shot and finally win. Against Scott Hall and Syxx. A few months later Nash is back on the team, and the Steiners lose to them. Scott Steiner and Rick Steiner don’t actually defeat Kevin Nash and Scott Hall for the Tag Team Championship until February. That reign lasts a little under two weeks. THIS IS FINE.

And speaking of never being happy, not even for a minute …

Worst: Hollywood Hogan Wins The WCW World Heavyweight Championship By Cheating In The Main Event And Spray-paints “nWo” On It

Get that joke now? World Championship Wrestling: the more nothing changes, the more things stay the same.

During the 100th episode of WCW Monday Nitro on the 99th episode of WCW Monday Nitro, Lex Luger shocked the world by putting the Torture Rack on Hollywood Hogan and winning the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. The locker room celebrated with him and covered him in champagne and photobombs. They made a big deal out of removing the nWo spray-paint from the belt that’d stuck there for almost a year. Gone were the days when the nWo were in total control always always, and could just send out a bunch of guys to almost get Hogan disqualified and distract the referee so an obviously fake Sting could hit someone with a bat.

At Road Wild, five days after Nitro, the nWo sends out a bunch of guys to almost get Hogan disqualified and distract the referee so an obviously fake Sting can hit Lex Luger with a bat.

The announce team is once again certain this means Sting has SHOWN HIS TRUE COLORS and joined the New World Order, despite this guy having on a Sting mask instead of face paint and a Jonathan Taylor Thomas Halloween wig with a center part. And also because nothing Sting has done in like 8 months has made you believe he’d suddenly start hitting Lex Luger with a baseball bat to give the world title to Hulk Hogan. But sure enough, there’s Tony Schiavone in his denim vest from the Nordstrom’s Aunt collection, putting his head in his hands and woeing-is-him about Sting.

After the match, the nWo hangs out with Dennis Rodman and once again spray-paints “nWo” on the belt. Don’t worry, we’re finally in the exceptional four-month build to Hogan vs. Sting for the strap at Starrcade, and four months and like 2 1/2 hours away from the very shittiest payoff to a feud in recorded pro wrestling history.

Best: At Least Michael Buffer’s Leather Beret Is Funny

For you, the day Buffer graced your village was the most important day of your life. But for him, it was Saturday.

Best/Worst: A Tale Of Two Dicks

Syxx vs. Ric Flair is always such a weird pairing, because Flair attacks him with confidence, but doesn’t really know how to wrestle like a light heavyweight. So like, Syxx will hit him with a spinning heel kick and Flair will walk forward and fall backwards. Getting kicked in the back of the head makes him take a back bump, like his feet got knocked out from under him.

As we learned during last week’s investigative reporting in the Best and Worst of Nitro, the Bronco Buster was banned for being “lewd and lascivious” — the original team name for Buff Bagwell and Scott Norton — but Syxx loved doing it so they kept working it into matches. We got the dick-mashing version that necessitated the reporting on Monday, and this brilliant finish where Ric Flair counters in ultimate Ric Flair fashion with a straight leg to the groin. It’s beautiful in its simplicity. Don’t jump at a guy dick-first unless you’re prepared to get it mashed.

I bet you can’t guess who the other dick I referenced belongs to.

Yes, folks, Alex Wright has decided to attend a biker rally in the middle of South Dakota in the middle of the 1990s wearing nothing but a leather jacket and the world’s tightest pair of high-waisted key lime underwears. Look at those things. They make Wright’s normal trunks look like JNCOs. Dude wrestles for 15 minutes at the Sturgis bike rally with a massive wedgie and butt cleavage.

Unlike Flair and Syxx, however, Wright and Chris Jericho’s in-ring awkwardness never turns into something watchable. Here they get almost 15 minutes, every one of them slow and filled with chinlocks. Dropkicks at best. The highlight is Jericho doing the “throw Ric Flair off the top rope by the throat and crotch” spot but gets incredible leverage off Wright’s crotch and practically throws him into the sun.

Here it is in GIF form. The throw really improves when you’ve got a handle. Wright retains with a roll-up and a handful of tights, because WCW does not give a shiiiiiit about the happiness of these bikers.

Worst: You Can’t Spell “WCW Doesn’t Give A Shit About Your Happiness” Without “Konnan”

On a show that features Alex Wright cheating to beat Chris Jericho, the Steiner Brothers getting screwed out of the Tag Team Championship, Hollywood Hogan cheating Lex Luger out of the World Heavyweight Championship and one of the most illogical tag team swerves to date — we’ll get to that in a minute, and yes, it involves Mongo and Jeff Jarrett — here’s Konnan beating Rey Mysterio Jr. so badly he has to get taken away on a stretcher. You’d think the payoff to weeks of K-Dogg squashing luchadors and Rey’s recovery from injury would be a Mysterio win, but hahaha, look at you, you thought you were gonna be happy.

This is billed as a “Mexican Grudge Death Match,” which really doesn’t mean anything, especially since only one of the guys in the match is Mexican. 1997 Konnan is in that Kofi Kingston area where everything he does either hurts you for real or doesn’t look like it hurt you at all, which makes things difficult. He hits the daintiest powerbomb in this match, and then more or less flips Mysterio onto his neck for fun with a fisherman buster. He’s like Two-Face, flipping a coin to see if he’ll ruin the match by being hilariously gentle or ruin it by paralyzing you.

Best: Savage Guardin’

The closest thing on the show to a crowd-pleaser is Macho Man Randy Savage vs. The Giant, which plays out like a house show match. Savage takes big ridiculous bumps for everything and tries to work the leg, which pays off in the Giant not being hurt even in the slightest and chokeslamming him to death for the victory. It’s not much, but it’s inoffensive wrestling someone might actually enjoy, which beats … well, basically everything else on the show.

Worst: But Don’t Get Too Happy

Because despite him being a face and defeating an nWo guy earlier in the night, Ric Flair shows up to help Definitely Not New World Order Member Curt Hennig cheat to beat Diamond Dallas Page. The ref gets bumped, so Flair trots in and eats a Diamond Cutter. That leaves Page open and he gets caught with a Perfect Plex, which he stays in for like 15 seconds while the referee slowly comes to and counts him out. Seriously, that Cheating Into A Perfect Plex KO’d the default most popular guy on the show for like half a minute so he could get cheated.

If you’re like, “wow, WCW really gave this crowd the finger, I’m surprised they did two more Sturgis pay-per-views after this,” remember that in 1998 Page main-events Road Wild, but only because he’s teaming up with Jay Leno.

Worst: As The Halliburton Turns

Like Vanessa Williams before us, we’ve gone and saved the best for last.

To recap, Jeff Jarrett showed up in WCW as a free agent. We weren’t sure if he was WCW or nWo, given that he’d come over as a former WWF heel, but Ric Flair “courted” him and made him a member of the Four Horsemen against everyone’s wishes. It turned out Jarrett was actually loyal to WCW, at least for now, but he got the hots for his co-worker’s wife and couldn’t stop accidentally hitting his friends with metal briefcases. Eventually Flair kicked him out of the group so he could court the NEW free agent we aren’t sure is WCW or nWo, given that he’d come over as a former WWF heel. That one doesn’t go as well.

During the blowoff, Steve McMichaels’ wife turned on him to go off with Jarrett. Jarrett realized he’d need some backup, so he enlisted the help of a man with common enemies, Dean Malenko. He’s begged Malenko to be in his crew for several weeks, and now we’ve reached Road Wild and the tying together of all the strings: Jarrett and Malenko with Debra in their corner versus Mongo and Chris Benoit of the Four Horsemen in an elimination tag team match.

Jarrett tags out to Malenko early in the match, and Malenko gets stuck as the face (?) in peril for about seven minutes. When he finally makes the tag, Jarrett comes in a house afire and-

Pulls Mongo on top of him, taking an immediate pin and leaving Malenko by himself to get an ass-beating from Two Horsemen. That’s the angle. It’s been a month-long swerve on Dean Malenko. Because … ?