WCW: Monday Nitro (12.22.97)

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WCW: Monday Nitro
December 22, 1997
Macon, GA
Macon Coliseum

The current WCW champs are as follows:
WCW World Champion: Hollywood Hogan (8/9/1997)
WCW U.S. Champion: Curt Hennig (9/15/1997)
WCW World Tag Team Champions: Rick & Scott Steiner (10/13/1997)
WCW World Television Champion: Disco Inferno (12/8/1997)
WCW Cruiserweight Champion: Eddie Guerrero (11/10/1997)

HOUR NUMBER ONE! Your hosts are Tony Schiavone, Mike Tenay, and Larry Zbyszko.

NITRO GIRLS! They are dressed up like Santa little helpers on their way to the gym. No Fyre though. Bah humbug!

We get a special interview sent in from Eric Bischoff concerning Larry Zbyszko. Everything Larry Z is so proud to have accomplished in this business will be for naught when he personally loses Monday Nitro to the nWo. Bischoff talks about his karate skills and actually comes across as quite believable because he’s so cocky. He discusses how Bret Hart being the referee was the dumbest decision JJ Dillon could have made. When I mentioned on the last Nitro how weak their feud had become, this was just the type of interview Bischoff needed to put this feud over as the semi-main event for the biggest PPV WCW has ever done. Bischoff promises us all a very special Christmas surprise for all of his nWo fans for tonight.

  • Eddie Guerrero vs. Fit Finley

This is non-title since Fit isn’t fit enough to fit in the cruiserweight division. Finley wanted this match to show everybody he doesn’t need interference to win his matches. Seems like there’s a little more security out tonight to keep the overzealous fans out of the ring. Eddie plays the coward game to start and begs off only to bait Finley in for a dropkick to the knee. He takes Finley to school, but Finley sidesteps a charge and sends Eddie into the corner to turn the tide. Finley drills Guerrero with a short-arm clothesline and works over the neck. Just vintage Finley here. He goes low again on the knee again and tries to finish off Finley with the FROG SPLASH, but Finley is there to grab him for a superplex. Time for the TOMBSTONE PILEDRIVER, but Eddie slips off his shoulders and leaves the match to lose via countout. (5:08) Hey, he doesn’t need this. He’s got a CW title match with Dean Malenko at Starrcade. Because Eddie is better at selling, this was a better combination than Malenko and Finley from last week. Still a clash of styles. *½

Kevin Greene gets shown some love as the San Francisco 49ers are having their best season to date.

After the break, we hear some comments from the Giant. He plans to get medieval on Kevin Nash at Starrcade.

  • Meng (w/Jimmy Hart) vs. Steve McMichael

Since we didn’t get this match last week thanks to Bill Goldberg, we get it now. Macon really seems to LOVE Mongo. Blows are traded to start, but then Meng busts out a powerslam and a piledriver for two. Big flying splash by Meng. Cover, 1-2-NO! He lifts Mongo up off the mat! He dumps out McMichael and whips him into the ringpost. While Meng distracts the ref, Jimmy swings at Mongo and misses. Back in, Jimmy slides a wooden chair into the ring, but Mongo intercepts the chair and breaks it over Meng’s head. Naturally, he NO-SELLS the wooden chair. Now he’s just mad. The ref is still busy discussing only God knows what with Jimmy Hart. Mongo picks up a steel chair and whacks Meng in the head. Now Meng is dazed, I guess. McMichael lifts him up for the MONGO SPIKE and delivers for the win. (4:46) Meng kicked out at three and gets right back up afterwards! He’s so awesome. No appearance from Bill Goldberg though. ¾*

Now Reggie White gets a mention as being a part of WCW.

NITRO GIRLS!

Gene Okerlund introduces Diamond Dallas Page to the ring for an interview. He now has a match against Curt Hennig for the U.S. title at Starrcade since Ric Flair was “injured” last week. DDP feels honored to replace the cornerstone of WCW against Curt Hennig. He’s a big Christmas guy. He’s wearing a cheesy Christmas shirt right now. His house looks like a landing strip. His neighbors call he and Kimberly the Griswolds. Under his tree, there’s a present for him and inside it’s Curt Hennig and the U.S. title belt. Mmhmm. He’s got a present for Hennig as well and I can bet you know what it is. Yep, DDP is going to BANG Hennig.

WCW Saturday Night! Watch it IF YOU WEEL! 6:05PM eastern! TBS! WCW Cruiserweight champ Eddie Guerrero, Public Enemy, Bill Goldberg, the WCW world tag champs the Steiner brothers, and many others! Don’t miss out! It’s the MUTHASHIP! PAY WINDAHS, CLUBBERIN, AND PLUNDAH, BABY!

  • Rey Mysterio Jr., Juventud Guerrera & Hector Garza vs. La Parka, Psychosis & Silver King

Hector Garza and Silver King begin things here. They flip around constantly avoiding each other until Garza finally levels Silver King with a springboard armdrag and a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Tag to Juvi, he nails Silver King with a springboard dropkick. Psychosis tags in and slows down the pace of the match. We take a moment to catch Raven’s Flock heading down through the crowd. Meanwhile, Juventud is nailing Psychosis with headscissors takedown after headscissors takedown. Psychosis misses a corner charge and runs into the post, which brings in La Parka. He does that thing where he can’t land a blow on the other guy in the corner, resulting in a tag from Juvi to Rey. The crowd explodes as he nails La Parka with a beautiful flying headscissors. Rey winds up clearing the ring of Psychosis and Silver King. La Parka stops Rey by catching him coming off the ropes and launching him into the air. He misses a senton, which triggers everybody else to dive off the top only to hit nothing but canvas. As the rudos hit the floor, Garza acts as a launching pad for Air Juvi on Psychosis! Now La Parka sits Juvi down in a chair for a tope suicida. Once La Parka and Psychosis stand up side-by-side, Garza wipes them out again with the CORKSCREW PLANCHA. Meanwhile in the ring, Rey handles Silver King with a Reverse Headscissors, followed by a SPRINGBOARD HURRACANRANA for the 1-2-3! (5:05) Another week of Nitro, another exciting lucha libre match. ***¼

  • Chris Benoit vs. Hammer

Still no Raven. Benoit has gone through Sick Boy, Kidman, Lodi, Riggs, and now Hammer. He goes straight for the leg and doesn’t let up. Hammer gets kicked out to the floor and Benoit explodes on him with a tope suicida. Saturn comes over the rail and helps Hammer get Benoit back in the ring. He reverse powerbombs Benoit in the corner. Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether Hammer is botching or not though. Hammer sits Benoit up in the corner by his throat and chokeslams him down. Back to the floor, Benoit reverses a whip on Hammer into the ring apron. Lodi and Kidman jump the rail and run into clotheslines. Riggs stalks Benoit and provides distraction while Saturn leaps off the top onto Benoit. Well, maybe they CAN do something when Raven is MIA. Rumor has it at the time that Raven was recovering from an organ infection from too much drinking. Didn’t realize working conditions in WCW were *that* bad. Anyways, Saturn rolls Benoit into the ring and applies the RINGS OF SATURN for the DQ. (3:40) Well nobody ever said Hammer was a great worker. ¾*

They remind us that Jim Kelly was on Nitro a few weeks back and WCW feels they are somewhat responsible for recreating the spark of competition in him. I would say that’s a stretch. Jim Kelly in fact does not return to the NFL in 1998.

HOUR NUMBER TWO! Your hosts are nobody. Why you may ask? The nWo B-Team (and Rick Rude) run our esteemed commentators off the set. The rest of the production crew are asked if they are on the nWo’s side. Without giving it a second thought, all of them give in and agree that they are indeed nWo. They even make sure the cameraman Jackie Crockett is nWo and make him wear an nWo Monday Nitro t-shirt. Even the guys in the production truck are forced to side with the nWo. Everything that says WCW Monday Nitro in the arena is replaced with nWo Monday Nitro set design. Ring announcer Dave Penzer is the only one with any balls and gets thrown out of the ring by Buff Bagwell. WHERE ARE THE WCW WRESTLERS DURING ALL THIS?

After a break, the letters NWO have been spray painted in the ring and a large nWo Monday Nitro sign gets lowered from the rafters in front of the entrance ramp. This has been going on now for fifteen minutes and we get an nWo MONDAY NITRO SHOW INTRO. Eric Bischoff rides in on a Harley Davidson and introduces the coolest bunch of guys he’s ever known. Hey look, Kevin Nash even bothered to show up this week. Bischoff dedicates the first edition of the show to Hollywood Hogan. We get some nWo propaganda falling from the rafters. To show Hogan how much Bischoff appreciates him, he gives Hogan a regular Harley bike, a Harley bike with Hogan’s likeness painted onto the gas tank and 4-LIFE painted onto the fender, and a ridiculously impractical limousine complete with hot tub and his own set of Nitro girls. There’s even a couple Jeeves type dudes pouring champagne. Bischoff and Hall joke about going three hours while we go into commercial.

JJ Dillon tells Rick Steiner and Ted DiBiase that Rick is not contractually obligated to go out to the ring tonight with all this going on. Rick Steiner doesn’t give a crap and heads to the ring anyways.

  • Scott Norton vs. Rick Steiner (w/Ted DiBiase)

Eric Bischoff, Kevin Nash, and Rick Rude take over the commentary table. Nash makes a joke about Barbara Billingsley’s birthday to add that sarcastic personal touch. Steiner controls to start beating up on Norton, but they head to the floor where Norton takes over and whips Steiner into the guardrail. Back inside, Steiner comes back with a powerslam and a running elbow drop for two. He wants a Belly to Belly Superplex, but Norton is just too big. Time for the STEINER BULLDOG, but Konnan appears and knocks Steiner off the top rope for the DQ. (3:14) Vincent comes out to be as ineffectual as usual. Scott Steiner and Ray Traylor come down and clean house on the nWo B-Team. Ted DiBiase even gets a shot in on Vincent. These six will collide at Starrcade. The match was kind of a mess though. ½*

To continue with the theme of mentioning sports stars associated with wrestling from this past year, the nWo highlight their own sports star Dennis Rodman.

  • Curt Hennig vs. Disco Inferno

Neither title they hold is on the line. Really long squash match as Hennig slowly takes Disco apart intended I can only assume to make the TV champ not look so weak. While a typical squash might take 2-3 minutes, Hennig holds out for longer. The problem though is that Hennig absolutely dominated this match and at no point did you think Disco had a chance, so the TV champ did in fact look pretty weak. In the end, the HENNIGPLEX wins the match at 6:00.

HOUR NUMBER THREE! Bobby Heenan comes out and kisses up to Eric Bischoff to get a spot at the commentary table. To see if he’s really cool with the nWo, Rude asks him if Sting deserves to get his neck broken by Hogan at Starrcade. Heenan agrees that he does and takes a seat where Kevin Nash was at.

  • Harlem Heat vs. Scotty Riggs & Lodi

This is the FINAL tag match on Nitro for the Harlem Heat as a team during their first big run in WCW. Riggs and Harlem Heat go back to the third episode of Nitro when Riggs and Marcus Bagwell upset Booker T and Stevie Ray to win the WCW world tag belts back on September 18, 1995. Lodi gets a negative reaction shall we say from the crowd. I’m sure he’s marking out for that. Eric Bischoff calls Mike Tenay over and tells him to take his spot. Rick Rude sticks around to ensure they call things the *right* way. Another LONG squash match. Harlem Heat destroy Lodi and Riggs gives up and heads back to the front row. Tenay and Heenan talk about how lost these guys are without Raven. Scissors Kicks, Harlem Side Kicks, and the BIG APPLE BLAST ends Lodi in 7:07. Heenan asks permission from Rick Rude if he can handle the replay first. HOLY CRAP, the flow of this show took a sharp nosedive once it turned to nWo Nitro. ½*

  • Buff Bagwell vs. Chris Jericho

Jericho beats on Bagwell to send him to the apron for the springboard dropkick. Back inside, Jericho hits a running senton. He gets caught up top though and knocked off the apron for the Pillman guardrail bump. Commercials! When we come back, Jericho fights out of a chinlock only to run into a boot in the corner. Back to the chinlock. Another comeback from Jericho, but Bagwell cuts him off. He misses a flying elbow drop though and receives a hotshot. Double underhook backbreaker gets 1-2-NO! Over in the corner, Bagwell fights off a headscissors as Jericho backflips onto the mat. Now he’s in position for the BUFF BLOCKBUSTER as Bagwell gets the win. (10:50) Buff decks ref Mickey Jay afterwards for no reason. Kind of a lame match. Jericho made Buff look pretty decent though. *

Tenay tries to help those tuning in for the last thirty minutes to understand what has happened to Nitro. Would that confuse people and make them think Starrcade already happened? I’m sure it’s possible and completely understandable if you’re a casual fan. The entire nWo head to the ring again. I suppose if Eric Bischoff were in charge of NBC programming, he would have given Kramer a TV show too. Bischoff has more gifts for Hollywood Hogan. He has a WCW world championship ring and two banners made from his Sports Illustrated cover and a blown up still of Hogan choking Sylvester Stallone in Rocky III.

It’s amazing there’s still anybody in the stands.

  • Lex Luger vs. Randy Savage (w/Elizabeth)

Lex is all clotheslines and stomping mudholes in Savage to start. Savage boot chokes him in the corner and tosses Lex outside for a bounce off the ring steps. They brawl into the front row for a moment and Luger is back in control. Inside the ring, Luger hits more clotheslines and the Bionic Forearm misses and hits the ref. When they spill back out to the floor, Buff comes out and runs Luger into the post. Kevin Nash appears and sticks Luger with the JACKKNIFE POWERBOMB. Now there’s nothing left for Savage to do but land the MACHO ELBOW. He covers Lex while Buff wakes up ref Randy Anderson for the three-count. (6:04) To think this will be the next PPV main event after Starrcade. Yikes. ¾*

Hollywood Hogan and Eric Bischoff return to the ring to cut one final promo on Sting to set up Starrcade. One final present is brought out to the ring to be given to Hollywood Hogan. Bischoff says he didn’t buy this one. Bret Hart shows up in the limo with the two nWo Nitro girls and walks towards the ring. Hogan opens up the present and there’s his head inside the box. I can’t tell if he’s excited or freaked out. Either way, the crowd doesn’t seem interested. Bret stands there and looks at Hogan and doesn’t say a word. Did Bret give him the head? Sting appears on the entrance set and ZIP LINES over Bret Hart and into the ring. Hogan freaks out and gets out of Dodge as we close the show.

Time to go on a little tirade here. The first hour was pretty decent “business as usual” Nitro action while the last two hours of nWo Monday Nitro was a disaster. Eric Bischoff did not learn a single thing from Souled Out, I suppose. I’ve read that in Bischoff’s mind, he wanted nWo Nitro and WCW Thunder to be almost like two separate brands so that the world would hopefully consider the WWF as the #3 promotion in the US.

I don’t even know what the long term plans of an nWo TV show would look like because at the end of the day, the nWo is just a group of wrestlers within a wrestling company – a HEEL group on top of that. Are they going to agree to wrestle guys that could actually threaten them in any way? Is it just going to be a bunch of snarky promos and the nWo squashing ham and eggers like nWo Saturday Night was? Do we really want 100% heel-sided TV for 2-3 hours every week? Are they going to expand even further and feature luchadores where they can have more than just one type of match? The only way the nWo Monday Nitro concept could maybe possibly work is if you had the nWo destroy themselves from within, which is what we will see in 1998 starting with Randy Savage in a few months from now. There has to be an objective capable of being achieved by two competing sides. Would WCW have even been capable of booking TWO SEPARATE BRANDS like this? Does WCW even care about losing Nitro? They didn’t seem to mind too much tonight. So many questions that I doubt anybody on the creative team could answer very well. None of this really makes any sense and anybody who championed this idea with Bischoff would be fired if I or any rationally thinking person were in charge.

When you have something people will pay to see, the tried and true method for continued success is to always leave your customers wanting more. WCW did that in 1996 when the nWo first burst on the scene and were white hot. Why wouldn’t it work now? Sting was the most over thing in WCW at this point, but he didn’t get his own TV show. He didn’t show up beating the nWo up every single week. It’s stuff like this that prove Bischoff was rarely ever qualified to run the competitor to the WWF. Whatever you need to have to be a success as a promoter and idea man in pro wrestling, he didn’t have it. If it wasn’t for the nWo and

Luckily for us fans and ultimately WCW itself, the rating during the nWo Nitro experiment dropped and (SPOILER ALERT!) Larry Zbyszko won his match against Eric Bischoff, so nWo Nitro never became a regular thing.

TOTAL BELL TO BELL TIME: 51:54.

Starrcade1997logo
WCW presents Starrcade LIVE ON PPV on December 28 from Washington, DC.

MAIN EVENT: WCW World Title – Hollywood Hogan (c) vs. Sting
WCW U.S. Title – Curt Hennig (c) vs. Diamond Dallas Page
WCW Cruiserweight Title – Eddie Guerrero (c) vs. Dean Malenko
NITRO ON THE LINE/SPECIAL REF: BRET HART – Larry Zbyszko vs. Eric Bischoff
RAVEN’S RULES: Chris Benoit vs. Raven
The Giant vs. Kevin Nash
Lex Luger vs. Buff Bagwell
The Steiners & Ray Traylor vs. Scott Norton, Konnan & Vincent
Steve McMichael vs. Bill Goldberg

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