WCW Monday Nitro (April 28, 1997)

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Ric Flair loves to fight with Big Boys That Love to Roughhouse! We get footage of him fighting and ultimately pinning Vader that apparently proves the point that Ric Flair is not afraid of Kevin Nash while also burying a dude who was no longer with WCW.

We go to the announce team for the evening: Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan, and Larry Zybyszko. They tell us that because of the NBA Playoffs, Nitro is only an hour long this week and then some bagpipes hit.

Roddy Piper and Ric Flair come out together and head over to the announce table. Piper gets on the mic and yells about “the young generation” being too lazy to fill-in potholes because they just love to skateboard and collect checks. Piper tells Hall & Nash that they don’t have to wait until Slamboree and tells them to give it their best shot tonight or not to “bother shooting at all.”

Oh shit! We’re shooting and Vince Russo isn’t even in WCW yet!

Ric Flair is so amped up that he spends the entirety of Piper’s promo jitting around and dancing in place.

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This whole thing is goddamn ridiculous. I like that Scott Hall, who is literally 4 years younger than Piper is apparently some lazy, skateboarding Gen-Xer in Piper’s mind.

 Match 1: Prince Iaukea vs. Dean Malenko

Malenko’s the United States Champ here and this match is for the championship apparently. Before the match gets underway we get an inset promo from Jeff Jarrett who says that Malenko might be the man of a thousand holds but there are a thousand and one counters. He says he’ll earn Malenko’s respect at the PPV and win the title to prove to the Horsemen that he deserves to be a member. I hate Jeff Jarrett so much.

Prince Iaukea and Malenko trade holds but then Prince Iaukea takes Malenko to the match because apparently he is a moron who thinks that Dean Malenko is the man of a thousand flips n’ shit, not the man of a thousand holds.

Malenko works him over, but Iaukea manages to arm drag him and drop him with a toe hold. Dean gets back up and hits Iaukea with a forearm. He whips Iaukea into the corner, but misses with whatever he was going for and runs into a boot…or rather foot because Iaukea is wrestling barefoot.

Iaukea kicks him in the head and goes for a pin that gets a two count. Dean’s back up and flips over Iaukea. He lands on his ass, but gets back up and powerbombs Iaukea who is no Billy Kidman. Malenko rolls forward into a pin but Iaukea gets out of it. Dean powerslams Iaukea and the gets him in the Texas Cloverleaf to pick up the win.

Winner: Dean Malenko

A perfectly fine TV match. Malenko gets a win going into the PPV, Jeff Jarrett challenged him and Prince Iaukea was there. [**]

Match 2: Juventud Guerrera vs. Syxx

Syxx is coming in as the Cruiserweight Champion and the title is on the line here. Syxx pushes Juvie into the ropes, but he gets taken down with headscissors. Syxx takes a powder on the outside and comes back in and is promptly kicked in the face.

Juvie lays in some chops and then heads up for some sort of lucha fuckery but stumbles and messes up a backflip and lands on his hands and knees. He gets back up and Syxx covers up the botch by kicking Juvie’s head off.

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Syxx gets Juvie in the corner and wrecks him with kicks to set up for the Bronco Buster. Syxx bounces he cock up and down on a dude’s face for awhile and then hits Juvie with a vertical suplex. Syxx continues to work him over and then goes up top and nails Juventud with a forearm. Syxx doesn’t even bother going for a cover, instead going back up top.

Juventud recovers and shoves Syxx, crotching him on the top turnbuckle. Juvie goes up for some manner of lucha fuckery, but loses his footing and drops down to the ring apron. He heads back up and hits a Frankensteiner that gets him a two count. Juvie follows up by smashing in Syxx’s face with a springboard somersault dropkick that gets him another near fall.

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Juvie goes back to the ropes for a springboard splash, but misses and Syxx gets him in his goofy submission hold that I guess is called the Buzzkiller. Juvie taps and Syxx retains his cruiserweight championship.

Winner: Syxx

Botches aside this was some fine 1997 cruiserweight action and a lot harder hitting than anything else on the show tonight. [**]

Meanwhile in Lakeland, FL…

Lee Marshall checks in with the 1-800-COLLECT Road Report. It’s every Road Report. He talks about some sort of upcoming WCW show, and a Native American Powwow that’s happening in town and then calls Bobby Heenan a weasel while being “it’s okay because it’s 1997” racist.

Meanwhile at the Announce Table…

Hall, Nash and Syxx come out and make their way to the announce table. Schiavone and Heenan bail and after jawjacking with the nWo for a bit, Zybyszko leaves too. Hall calls Flair and Piper dinosaurs and responds to their challenge with, “Whatever,” in the single greatest moment of the entire episode.

He says that the people of Norfolk are here to see the nWo anyway. Nash gets on the mic and says that in Charlotte they’ll give Flair and Piper the beating of their lives and will take 75% of the gate because that’s how it goes. “NWO 4 Life! TOO SWEEEEEEET!”

Match 3: Lord Steven Regal vs. Chris Benoit

The announcers return to call the action after the nWo fucks off.

Benoit and Regal lock up in a test of strength and do some chain wrestling with World of Sport counters and shit before they just start headbutting each other. Regal gets busted open like a minute in so they go to a wide shot of the arena so we can’t see the blood.

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Eventually they end the test of strength and Regal rolls Benoit up for two. Benoit hits him with a snap suplex. Regal has Benoit up on the turnbuckles when out comes Kevin Sullivan with Jacqueline and Jimmy Hart following after him.

Sullivan pulls Regal off Benoit so he can engage in fisticuffs with him. Sullivan and Benoit brawl in the aisle. Benoit hits him in the dick which causes Jackie to jump on Benoit’s back. Woman gets involved and tries to get Jackie off him.

Meng shows up and gets Benoit in the Tongan Death Grip. At some point Regal reappears and hits one of the Dungeon of Doom guys before getting dispatched. Schiavone is confused by this and wonders whether Regal was attempting to help the Dungeon of Doom or Benoit.

Woman screams at Meng which causes him to stare her down. I thought he’d give her the Tongan Death Grip too, but he just stares are her and Jimmy Hart calms Meng down to end the segment.

Winner: Chris Benoit(?)

The first couple minutes of this was good wrestling. The run in was a competent run-in that further the Benoit/Sullivan angle. I’m assuming that if this episode wasn’t an hour long Regal and Benoit would have probably grappled a bit longer before Sullivan showed up. [**]

The Following Announcement is Paid for by the NWO!

Macho cuts a Macho Man promo on DDP. He’s with Liz and is holding crutches. He talks about how DDP can’t handle the madness and pretty much implies he’s going to kill DPP and fuck Kimberly. Liz smiles and nods approvingly from time to time. OH YEAH!!!!

Match 4: Lex Luger & The Giant vs. The Amazing French Canadians (w/ Col. Parker)

So this is a match that happened on Nitro back on April 28, 1997. Lex starts things off. He runs wild on the Quebecers. The Quebecers then proceed to get the heat on Luger. The hit him with a double flapjack into the top rope.

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Luger crawls to his corner and makes the HOT TAG to The Giant. The Giant knocks down both Quebecers and then there’s big boots for everyone. The Giant goozles Rougeau and Luger back in the ring and gets Oulette in the Torture Rack as the Giant chokeslams the man who was The Mountie.

Winners: Lex Luger & The Giant

This sure was a wrestling match. Lex Luger as the face in peril is a weird thing, especially when the team beating him down are such a mid-card team as the Amazing French Canadians. The crowd was hot for it though and popped for finishers which is sometimes all someone needs out of a wrestling match. [*¾]

Hype Package!

We get a video about the rivalry between Reggie White and Steve “Mongo” McMichael going back to their days on the gridiron with footage courtesy of NFL Films! Mike Ditka appears. I guess Mongo and Reggie Miller hate each other because of football. I don’t give a shit about any of this.

NEVER MIND THAT SHIT! HERE COMES MONGO!

Match 5: Steve “Mongo” McMichael (w/ Debra McMichael) vs. The Barbarian

As Mongo makes his way down to the ring they show a recap of Mongo coming out to help Jeff Jarrett in his match by wailing someone with the Halliburton that at one time contained Macho Man’s money. He gets cut off by Reggie Miller who grabs the case and screams, “If he wants it back he’s got to get it from me!”

Back in present day Mongo has the Halliburton in his hands. It’s got the same dent in it and everything. Oh WCW can’t you do anything right?

Mongo gets his ass kicked for like three minutes by the Barbarian as Larry Zybyszko and Bobby Heenan talk about how tough Mongo is and how much more prepared for his upcoming match than Reggie White is going to be.

The match begins with Barbarian just choking Mongo out as soon as he gets in the ring. Mongo fires back and whips the Barbarian into the ropes and clotheslines him, but the Barbarian is called the Barbarian for a reason so he just kicks Mongo in the gut and goes for the piledriver.

HERE COMES MONGO! Mongo reverses the piledriver attempt into a back drop. Mongo works over the Barbarian for a bit but then eats a big boot. Barbarian chucks Mongo out to the floor and sends him into the guardrail. Mongo is all like “No man don’t slam me into the ringpost!” Barbarian gives zero fucks though and just slams him spine first into the ringpost and rolls him into the ring.

Back in the ring Barbarian decides it’s Memphis 1976 and hits Mongo with a piledriver and goes for the pin but only gets a two count. Mongo tries to fight back but Barbarian pokes him in the eyes and sends him into the corner. He unloads on Mongo, but Debra passes Mongo the Halliburton and then distracts the ref.

Schiavone’s like, “Mongo’s got Halliburton #2!” Whatever Tony, you’re not fooling anyone, we all know someone fucked up and let Mongo go out with the Halliburton even though Reggie White was supposed to have it. Anyway Mongo gets the Halliburton and brains the Barbarian with it and covers for the win.

Winner: Steve “Mongo” McMichael

Mongo needs to look strong for his upcoming match with Reggie White so he wins here against the infinitely better Barbarian. It’s a pretty ugly match since Mongo sucks all kinds of ass, but it’s mercifully short. [*⅓]

Meanwhile in the Ring…

Piper and Flair come out and head down to the ring. Flair screams “HOT ROD!” a bunch and Piper starts shaking like he’s got the DTs. Flair’s like “why try and fix something that’s not broken.” He looks like he’s 4 seconds from taking off his clothes and elbow dropping his jacket.

Flair calls out Hall and Nash and then says to Syxx that he knows he can kick his ass. “I’ve been the champ 13 times which is more times than you’ve gotten ass!” screams Flair. Schiavone’s poleaxed by this.

The nWo music hits, but no one comes out. Flair and Piper look up and leaflets begin to fall from the ceiling. They read, “Tradition Bites. nWo 4 Life.” Remember how on WCW Bischoff always used to say “Bite me,” instead of “Suck it?” I guess he probably came up with these fliers.

Flair keeps yelling and eventually Hall, Nash and Syxx head out. Flair runs down and tackles Syxx in the aisle and starts wrecking house on him. He nails both Hall and Nash in the nards and then gets Syxx in the Figure Four Leg Lock, but Hall and Nash recover and start pounding on Flair.

Flair starts screaming for Piper, but Piper seems to be in a daze. He just stands in the ring, crumbling one of the fliers as Flair screams for him. After seventeen years, Piper heads over to where his friend is getting beat down and slaps Nash as the show ends.

Final Thoughts

I’m almost positive that one hour is the perfect time for a weekly wrestling show on TV, so it should come as no surprise that I think Nitro really benefited from the shorter run time. Shit was tight and moved at a good clip. If I were booking this I probably would have left one of the first two matches off the show to give the other matches a bit more breathing room, but that’s just me.

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