WCW: World War 3 1997

ww3_97

WCW: World War 3
November 23, 1997
Auburn Hills, MI
The Palace

The current WCW champs are as follows:
WCW World Champion: Hollywood Hogan (8/4/1997)
WCW U.S. Champion: Curt Hennig (9/15/1997)
WCW World Tag Team Champions: Rick & Scott Steiner (10/13/1997)
WCW World Television Champion: Perry Saturn (11/3/1997)
WCW Cruiserweight Champion: Eddie Guerrero (11/10/1997)

Your hosts are Tony Schiavone, Mike Tenay, and Bobby Heenan.

  • The Faces of Fear (w/Jimmy Hart) vs. Glacier & Ernest Miller

Little note here: this is the last time we will see Glacier and Ernest Miller together as a team on PPV. I know you’re all very crushed to hear that statement. The FOF bum rush the show, but Glacier and Miller turn things around for a quick shine segment for a few awkward moments here and there. Tony tells us about a change in the rules of the battle royal: you can now be eliminated by going THROUGH the ropes and touching the floor. Things pick up as Miller runs in the corner and kicks off Meng to dive onto Barb on the floor, which was pretty cool especially if Miller had connected more flush with Barb. Glacier takes out Meng with a pescado and goes after Jimmy Hart, which Heenan remarks is a huge mistake and this is where the direction of the match goes south for Glacier. Barbarian saves his manager and the Faces take over. Back in, Glacier gets the backdrop into a powerbomb spot that I LOVE SO MUCH. The FOF work the back for a while with power moves. Over in the Faces corner, they BE CLUBBERIN’ TONY. Meng switches gears and connects with a nasty shoulder breaker on Glacier and then grabs a nerve hold. Eventually, Miller gets a hot tag and does his karate shtick on the FOF. Jimmy Hart gets on the apron and he’s nailed down to the floor by Miller, but then Miller turns around into the TONGAN DEATH GRIP for the pinfall. (9:08) Standard tag formula stuff. Miller still looking super green and the Faces did the best they could here. **

  • WCW World Television Champion Perry Saturn (w/Raven) vs. Disco Inferno

Oddly enough, Disco is sitting down in the corner like Raven does as he waits for the match to start. Raven gets on the mic and tells us to let the stretchings begin. Tony talks about Disco having a more determined attitude since winning the TV title back in September. Really slow start to this with Saturn in control. Disco gets in a quick flurry and Saturn takes a powder. Back inside, Disco gets a little more aggressive starting with an inverted atomic drop and a back elbow. He even drops a DiBiase fist drop. Saturn has enough and delivers a pumphandle suplex. However, Saturn misses a flying moonsault and we get a series of nearfalls. To the floor we go, Disco heads over and attacks the Flock who were really minding their own business. He flips Kidman over the safety rail for a CHARTBUSTER. He gives Lodi (who debuts here) a CHARTBUSTER. He grabs Hammer to give him one as well, but Hammer COMPLETELY NO-SELLS and will not take the move. That’s when Saturn blindsides him. Back in, Disco escapes a Tiger Suplex and hits a swinging neckbreaker for two. From the top rope, Disco nails a flying body press only for Saturn to roll through into the RINGS OF SATURN for the submission. (8:18) Just not a lot to like here. Not much of a story at all here. *

  • Yuji Nagata (w/Sonny Oono) vs. Ultimo Dragon

This is our first of four rematches from Halloween Havoc. If Dragon wins, he gets five minutes alone with Sonny Oono. They trade kicks to start, but Nagata catches the handspring elbow and drops down into the Fujiwara armbar. Dragon escapes and dropkicks Nagata to the floor. Dragon gets distracted by Oono for a moment. Back inside, Nagata counters a headlock with a backdrop suplex. To do further damage to the neck, Nagata drops Dragon with a piledriver. He wears down Dragon with a reverse chinlock, but then Dragon counters with a backdrop suplex of his own. Nagata puts him back down again with another piledriver for two. Nagata stays on the neck and then delivers an overhead belly to belly suplex for another nearfall. Out of nowhere, Dragon connects with the Kick Combo and then kicks Nagata some more when he’s sitting on the mat. We see some face washing from Dragon. He tries a pescado on Nagata and when Nagata tries to kick him on the way down, Dragon catches the leg and delivers a leg whips Nagata. Big dive by Dragon wipes out Nagata. Back inside, they scuffle up top where Dragon hits a sunset flip powerbomb for 1-2-NO! Moonsault by Dragon gets two as well. DRAGON SLEEPER is applied, but Oono jumps on the apron to bring Dragon off the hold just it looks like Nagata is giving up. Time for the DRAGONSTEINER, but Oono puts Nagata’s foot on the bottom rope for the cheap save. He goes after Oono and Nagata charges into a foot, but then Dragon grabs Nagata for another back suplex. Nagata then kicks off Oono to land on top of Dragon for a FOUR count (whoops). (12:43) Well, the ending sucked. I liked what they were going for during the rest of the match though with Nagata’s work on the neck and whatnot. For a better Dragon/Nagata match though, stick to the HH 97 version. **½

  • WCW World Tag Team Champions Rick & Scott Steiner (w/Ted DiBiase) vs. The Blue Bloods

Yeah, this Blue Bloods “push” came out of nowhere, but you shouldn’t have a Detroit PPV without the Steiners on the card. Scott runs over Taylor to start. Tag to Rick, they do the dog thing they do. Not sure why Regal is acting so pissed off at DiBiase, but he is having to be pulled away by Taylor. Back in, Regal and Rick knucklelock each other as Regal bridges up off the mat. Rick absorbs the European uppercuts and tags in Scott. He throws Regal around with the Spinning Belly to Belly Suplex. The Steiners try to ground Regal, but that won’t last. Taylor tags in only to be caught trying the leapfrog and slammed by Rick. Back to Scott, he takes a lariat out to the floor. Regal and Taylor want to take this to the mat, but Scott has almost negative flexibility to be convincingly stretched at this point. Another belly to belly suplex to Regal sets up the hot tag to Rick. Match breaks down and Taylor gets dumped out so that Regal can receive the STEINER BULLDOG for the win. (9:46) Glorified squash here as the Blue Bloods just don’t mesh well with power teams like the Steiners. Nevertheless, still an entertaining little bout. *½

Gene Okerlund is with WCW executive JJ Dillon. He gives Raven 24 hours to sign a contract with WCW or we will have likely seen the last of Raven. Will he sign the contract? TUNE INTO NITRO TO FIND OUT!

  • No-DQ Match: Raven vs. Scotty Riggs

Despite being in WCW for four months now, this is Raven’s wrestling debut on a PPV. Kidman gets on the mic and tells Riggs that it’s no DQ or no match. Riggs answers with a pescado onto the Flock. It’s all Riggs for the first couple minutes until Raven yanks him into the corner to blast that bad eye. To the floor, Riggs reverses a whip into the steps. Back in, Raven busts Riggs with a jawbreaker and pulls out a chair for a shot to the back. It escalates with the drop toehold spot which Riggs reverses on Raven. Van Daminator by Riggs gets two. Riggs sets up the chair and gives Raven a bulldog. Slow cover for some reason gets another nearfall. Raven though gets out of a suplex and drops Riggs with the EVENFLOW DDT. That should be it, but Raven grabs a mic and questions why Riggs didn’t join his Flock. This is hurting Raven more than it is hurting Riggs. He then proceeds to DDT Riggs two more times before finally letting him take the ten count for the win. (8:44) Instead of getting medical assistance, the Flock help him out of the ring. Hammer puts him over his shoulders and carries him through the crowd. Mostly chair spots and who really gives a crap about Scotty Riggs anyway? ½*

  • Alex Wright (w/Debra) vs. Steve McMichael

Originally supposed to be Mongo versus Goldberg, Mongo whacked him with a lead pipe backstage before the match. Kind of a dick move, but okay. When McMichael issues an open challenge, Debra has to drag her Reluctant Jarrett Replacement out to the ring. I don’t even think it gets mentioned, but Mongo has his Super Bowl ring back on his finger. Wright bum rushes the show and beats Mongo with his leather jacket. That just pisses off Mongo as he clotheslines and kicks Wright out to the floor. Alex tries to leave, but a desperate Debra gets him to go back inside for more punishment. McMichael hits a side slam for two. Wright catches Mongo with a spinning heel kick, but Mongo quickly fires back with three point stance takedowns. Another side slam by McMichael leads to the MONGO SPIKE for the three-count. (3:36) At least this was short. The real story is that Goldberg had a groin injury. Makes you wonder if Mongo was still going to go over here. If he was, that groin pull may have been the best thing to ever happen to Goldberg. Anyways, we’ll get the Goldberg/Mongo match next month at Starrcade. ¼*

  • WCW Cruiserweight Champion Eddie Guerrero vs. Rey Mysterio

Lots of lucha armdrags and headscissors to start with Rey in total control. Eddie stuns him real good with a nasty German suplex. I think that one knocked Mysterio goofy for the rest of the match and understandably so. Guerrero follows up with a nice back suplex and applies an abdominal stretch. Not sure if Rey was going for the backflip DDT he did last month or not, but he settles for a headscissors to take Eddie to the floor again. As they have a scuffle on the apron, Guerrero avoids a sunset flip powerbomb to the floor and catches Mysterio with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Back inside the ring, Eddie completely reverses a superplex around into his favor. He heads up for the FROG SPLASH, but rolls past Mysterio and gets caught in a hurracanrana for 1-2-NO! Flapjack slows down Mysterio for a moment, but Rey is right back on Eddie with a tilt-a-whirl headscissors. Guerrero is right back on the neck with a low dropkick to the head. He hangs Rey out to dry and tries a sunset flip powerbomb of his own, but Mysterio counters with a headscissors! Somersault plancha to Guerrero! Back in, Mysterio catches Eddie trying a charge and goes for another hurracanrana only for Guerrero to block the move with a powerbomb. Guerrero maneuvers Mysterio onto the mat during a Gory Special, but can’t get the pinfall. Mysterio manages to sunset flip out of the hold for two. Spinning heel kick takes down Eddie. As Rey heads to the corner, Guerrero tries to stop him with what looks like a running powerbomb. Mysterio tries to counter and the spot just falls apart. Nevertheless, Eddie whips Rey in and he counters with a moonsault press for two. Rey drops the dime on Guerrero and heads to the apron for the SPRINGBOARD HURRACANRANA, but Eddie grabs the bottom rope at the last second to interrupt the pinfall. Crowd is PISSED. Rey sits Eddie on the top turnbuckle and goes for a double jump headscissors move, but Guerrero blocks and hotshots Rey. Well, that’s enough to knock out Mysterio for the FROG SPLASH and the win. (12:42) Not their best night as there were plenty of botched moments. Even with the flubs, they never managed to lose the crowd and won match of the night honors as far as I’m concerned. They also managed to tell a different story than the one they did last month which shows you how good of workers they are. ***½

  • No-DQ Match: WCW U.S. Champion Curt Hennig vs. Ric Flair

The ONLY no-DQ match that people care about tonight. All the nWo guys are wearing Syxx t-shirts tonight in support of their little buddy whose out with a neck injury. Flair doesn’t rush the ring like you would expect him to. However, Hennig stalls around ringside until Flair comes out and brawls with him into the crowd. Of course, security is all late getting there. Once they head back to ringside, Hennig takes over and chokes Flair with a cable. They barely stay in the ring before Flair tosses him out for a FLYING DOUBLE SLEDGE TO THE FLOOR. Yes, babyface Flair does hit moves quite often off the top rope. Whether or not he’s just selling the impact, Flair starts limping on his right leg. He chops Hennig around, but charges into a backdrop on the floor. Inside the ring, Hennig covers for two and thumbs the ref in the eye. Well, that’s one way to vent your frustrations about a nearfall. Hennig now takes Flair to school and works the leg to set up an Indian Deathlock. Flair eventually thumbs the eyes to escape and starts going after the leg. WOO! He hits the Rolling Knee Drop and pounds Hennig a bunch. Flair struts around to get himself fired up. He heads up top, but Hennig slams him down for two. Now they start trading chops and we see the Flair Flop. Flair fires back and hiptosses Hennig across hoping to send him sliding balls first into the ringpost, but the move doesn’t quite get him there. Hennig rolls to the other ring trying to get away, but Flair follows him and delivers a back suplex. Hennig chops back and connects with the Rolling Neck Snap. The Flair Flip takes him to the floor where Hennig slams his face off the steps. More brawling as Flair yanks Hennig into the safety rail for a nasty bump. Back in, Flair takes Hennig in with a suplex as they land oddly. Flair brings the chair into the ring and continues to abuse Hennig’s balls. If that’s not bad enough, Flair Pillmanizes one of Hennig’s legs a couple times. Flair was never the man at chairshots and here’s a real weak one on the knee. Flair has the U.S. title and tosses it down near Hennig. He applies the FIGURE-FOUR, so Hennig conveniently bashes him with the U.S. title on the knee and the face. Cover, 1-2-3. (18:54) This is probably the best they could have done with the condition of both men at the time. I don’t think Hennig was ever the same after 1991 and while the build made you believe we might see a 1989 Flair here with the way he had been going after Hennig, the match just didn’t deliver to that level at all. Still, pretty good for what it was. **½

  • 60-Man Battle Royal – Winner Gets the Next WCW World Title Shot

The participants include: Chris Adams, Brad Armstrong, Buff Bagwell, Chris Benoit, Bobby Blaze, Ciclope, Damien, El Dandy, Barry Darsow, Disco Inferno, Jim Duggan, Fit Finley, Hector Garza, The Giant, Glacier, Juventud Guerrera, Chavo Guerrero Jr., Eddie Guerrero, Harlem Heat, Curt Hennig, Prince Iaukea, Chris Jericho, Lizmark Jr., Lex Luger, Dean Malenko, Steve McMichael, Faces of Fear, Ernest Miller, Rey Mysterio, Hugh Morrus, Mortis, Yuji Nagata, John Nord, Diamond Dallas Page, La Parka, Public Enemy, the Blue Bloods, Renegade, Randy Savage, Silver King, Norman Smiley, Louie Spicolli, the Steiner Brothers, Super Calo, Ray Traylor, Ultimo Dragon, Greg Valentine, Los Villanos, Vincent, Kendall Windham, Wrath, and Alex Wright. Bill Goldberg and Scotty Riggs were sidelined due to injuries.

So instead of ten men finishing up in each ring, this year it is down to five. The final fifteen will go to the middle ring to finish the battle royal. Winner gets a WCW world title shot at Superbrawl VIII on February 19 (which was a Thursday?), says Buffer. Kevin Nash never comes out, so we’re down to 57 men. Giant eliminates like five AAA guys almost immediately after the bell sounds. This wasn’t ever done like the Royal Rumble where there was a storyline all the way through the match – at least not until we get to the final group of guys about twenty minutes into the match. There was supposed to be the final fifteen in ring two, but that never materialized. In ring one, it comes down to five nWo guys who stick together and don’t try to eliminate one another: Buff Bagwell, Scott Hall, Randy Savage, Vincent, and Curt Hennig. In ring two, Stevie Ray gets fresh and he’s promptly eliminated by Lex Luger and DDP to leave behind Luger, Rick Steiner, DDP, and Booker T. In ring three, the Giant fights off a brief working relationship between Alex Wright and Mortis instigated by James Vandenberg and eliminates them with a double backdrop. Meanwhile, Meng takes care of Steve McMichael. From there, Giant dropkicks Meng out of the ring since he can’t rely on his Chokeslam with a broken thumb. We are now down to five WCW guys against five nWo guys. The nWo refuse to enter ring two because those were the rules and the nWo couldn’t care less about rules. At first the WCW guys taunt them to come fight, but then give in and go after the nWo to start a big ten-man brawl. DDP pops Vincent with a DIAMOND CUTTER and the Giant rolls the man out of the ring for our first elimination that took place under the ropes. Hennig dumps out Booker T while Bagwell and Hall flip Rick Steiner over the top rope to send him to the showers. Giant looks out for DDP while Luger punches around Hennig and Bagwell. Hall and Savage help Hennig and Bagwell take Luger to the apron. I have no idea why Giant and DDP don’t come and help sooner because that’s pretty ridiculous. Giant finally comes over and flips Bagwell out over Luger to the floor. Meanwhile, Savage still has a boot on Luger and kicks him out while Hennig goes falling to the floor as well.

Final Four: The Giant, Diamond Dallas Page, Scott Hall, and Randy Savage. While Hall and Giant do their thing, Savage counters a Diamond Cutter with a jawbreaker and slams DDP for a Macho Elbow. Giant sees what’s happening and stands in Savage’s way. Savage jumps anyway into a bearhug and rakes Giant’s eyes. Once Savage escapes, DDP spins him around for the DIAMOND CUTTER. He wants to roll Savage out, but Giant wants to CHOKESLAM him and does so. Now Giant rolls him out to the floor. When the nWo and its founding father is in deep doo-doo, the nWo music hits and we think it’s Kevin Nash time. No Kevin Nash. The music switches to Voodoo Child and Hollywood Hogan comes out. A fresh Hogan slams the Giant. DDP gets his ribs stomped by Hogan. Meanwhile, Giant sits Hall on the top buckle for some reason and never throws him out. Hogan, however, does send DDP to the floor when “Sting” drops down from the rafters. Oh boy. He seems much taller than usual. Hogan clears out and eliminates himself. A teenager at ringside yells to him that he knows that isn’t Sting. Hogan looks to him and says, “I know.” Awesome. Anyways, “Sting” whacks Giant with the ball bat and the big guy falls out to the floor. By the way, the announcers are still going along that this is the real Sting, which is mind boggling. “Sting” follows him out over the top rope just like a particular 6 foot 10 wrestler normally does. Ref Randy Anderson sees Hall is the only one left in the ring and raises his hand as the winner. (28:47) After the bell, “Sting” gets back in the ring and takes off the mask to reveal that he was in fact Kevin Nash whose now laughing it up with his good buddy across the ring. Our esteemed commentators can’t believe they have been somehow duped again. The rest of the nWo that can make it to the ring come out and celebrate the win by further beating up DDP. Hogan drops him with a few Diamond Cutters for added insult to injury. Quite the elaborate scheme by the nWo: have Hogan come out as the replacement for Kevin Nash, the crowd will naturally chant for Sting, the nWo version of Sting appears, the crowd will believe it is Sting (except they don’t) only because he’s wearing black and he’s wearing the Sting mask and he descended from the rafters, and then they swerve everybody and have their guy win. This would have worked if anybody actually believed that was Sting – BUT NO ONE DID. They have done this finish in some capacity so many times this year on PPV that I don’t even care to look up how many times exactly it has been done. It’s so mind-blowingly lazy and makes the Scott Hall win feel extremely underwhelming and deflated before we even see the payoff. I mean how much more memorable would this match have been with an epic finish and DDP be given the win instead? Even if he was planning to win the U.S. title in December, a Sting/DDP match in February (which turned out to be March instead) with both guys as champions would have been way more impactful than what we got. I don’t think anyone actually believed Hall would win the world title in the first place. It just never seemed to be in the cards for the guy. Anyways, this was a mess. ½*

Final Thoughts: Excluding the main event, this really wasn’t a bad show. It just didn’t feel like they put very much effort into making the show itself. Just some odd pairings or rematches from the last PPV that just didn’t deliver in a big way the second time around. Even with the Rey-Eddie match, I really don’t see myself giving this anything but a thumbs down. Knowing what a moneymaker Starrcade will be with the main event, I assume they just want to get these mid-card feuds wrapped up so they can concentrate on building the next PPV card. That’s the only justification I can think of here.

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