– So anyway, I’ve been in a pretty anti-WCW place for the past few months, and as a result I haven’t exactly been gung-ho to do all the Concept Rants that people have been clamoring for. At any rate, I was in the mood to check out this show again this afternoon, so my sudden enthusiasm is your gain. Besides, Chris Benoit is in the main event. And before you ask, I’ll likely forego the 96 show because my copy of it sucks ass. The one thing about these 97 shows that stands out most is how much TIME all the matches got. These days we’re happy if something gets 10 minutes. That was the MINIMUM for most of the matches in those days. Must’ve been Terry Taylor’s doing.
– Live from Charleston, South Cackalacky.
– Your hosts are Tony, Bobby & Dusty.
– Opening match, US title: Eddie Guerrero v. Dean Malenko. Need I add the shriek of joy here? Eddie was in the midst of turning heel, which ended up getting aborted by the forthcoming Apocolypse angle, which ended up getting aborted and thus turning him face again, and finally he turned heel for real in the summer. Before you ask, the Apocolypse was supposed to the 1997 equivalent to the New Blood, with Benoit, Malenko, Guerrero and Steven Regal opposing the Four Horsemen in protest to Jeff Jarrett getting added to the group. This idea apparently scared the hell out of the wrong people (*cough* HOGAN *cough*) so it was turfed and Benoit got to fight Kevin Sullivan for another six months. Shoving and slugfest to start. Eddie works a headlock, but gets shoulderblocked out. Back in, and Dean STOMPS A MUDHOLE in him, in Dusty-ese. Vertical suplex and smackdown follows. Eddie comes back with his own mudhole stomping, sending Dusty off on a 5-minute babbling session about the mud and the holes and the stomping. Eddie charges Dean and gets dropped on the top turnbuckle. Dean works the leg, with a half-crab, then tosses Eddie over the top. It’s no-DQ, btw. Dean grabs the title and wallops him, then hits a lariat for two. Eddie retaliates with a Rock Bottom, then slaps him around. Malenko is up, and Eddie dropkicks the knee, then works it. He hits the slingshot senton, landing on the knee, and applies a leglock. He moves into an STF in a nice transition. Meanwhile, in the back, Rick Steiner gets laid out by the nWo and eliminated from the main event for no really adequately explained reason. Back to action, Eddie & Dean brawl on the floor. Dean heads back up the steps, and when he’s standing by the post Eddie pops up and dropkicks his knee into the post. What a jerk. Back in, Eddie gets the figure-four, but Dean escapes. Criss-cross leads to an elbow to the mush for Eddie, but a senton bomb misses. Dean Dean bails and Eddie baseball slides him. A tope misses and he hits the railing on the way down. Back in, Dean picks an arm and twists away on it. Eddie fights back with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker and a jackknife powerbomb (the real kind where you roll over for a pin, not Nash’s powerdrop) that gets two. Wrestling sequence gives Eddie an inside cradle for two. Dean powerslam and a frog splash (!) gets two, but he picks him up. Powerbomb attempt is reversed to a rana, but Dean hits a powerslam for two. Pinning sequence puts Eddie on top for two. Suplex reversal sequence ends in Dean’s favor, for two. Eddie hits a skull-cracking tornado DDT, then applies Dean’s own Texas Cloverleaf (!!). Now Syxx (X-Pac) wanders out to make a nuisance of himself and hopefully steal the US title, but Eddie grabs him by the hair. Dean manages to get Syxx’ ever-present video camera, blasts Guerrero with it, and gets the pin to win the US title at 19:11. Ending didn’t work for me, but the match kicks the ass of anything Russo has ever booked six ways from Sunday. ****1/2
– Psychosis v. Ultimo Dragon. No real story here, just more meaningless lucha libre. Headlock sequence to start, and an extended chain wrestling sequence goes nowhere to speak of. Dragon does the kick combo, then more for fun, and into a leglock. Wow, is that crowd dead. Psychosis hits a corner clothesline, but Dragon comes back with his stupid headstand spot (“Oh no, he’s balancing himself on his head! Whatever will I do?”) and hits an enzuigiri after Psychosis have recovered from the shock of a man STANDING ON HIS HEAD. They should sell tickets to see freakish stuff like that. They trade rear chinlocks (oh,god ) and Psychosis gets the guillotine legdrop early for two. Back to the chinlock. Even the announcers are at a loss to explain this one. Dragon gets a sleeper, but Psychosis gets a leg lariat to put Dragon on the floor, and follows with a tope con hilo. He jumps back in and comes out with a slingshot legdrop onto Dragon on the floor. Dragon comes back with a handspring elbow into the railing, and the quebrada. Sonny Onoo adds a nice spin kick for effect. Back in, Dragon hits a moonsault for two. Powerbomb is reversed to a rana which is reversed to a sunset flip for two. Dragon comes back with La Majistral for two. Both go up top and fight for a superplex, but they end up crashing to the mat. Both miss leg lariats. This match is not working at all. Dragon goes upstairs and Psychosis blocks and hits a rana for two, which is reversed to a sunset flip for two. Dragon comes out of the corner with his running Ligerbomb, then puts Psychosis on the top and hits an awkward tornado DDT, and a tiger suplex finishes at 13:15. The whole match was kind of a mess. **1/2
– DDP comes out for an interview with Mean Gene, but Savage and Liz (packing the Kimberly issue of Playboy) come out to taunt him. A brawl erupts and both Page and Kim get spraypainted, thus leading to the year-long feud that would elevate DDP to the main event. Sidenote: Kimberly made a rather pathetic attempt to work RSPW after this, posting a message about how Savage and Liz were all psycho in the locker room “for real” and she was fearing for her life out there. That went over real well with the cynical online crowd.
– Mortis v. Glacier. This is Mortis’ PPV debut. Glacier was still “undefeated” at this point. Mortis is, of course, Kanyon. Glacier kicks a bunch and backdrops Mortis, but gets hit in the ear. We know this because he clutches at his ear and yells “Ow, my EAR!”. Mortis hits a couple of bad kicks, but gets dropkicked out of the ring and Glacier follows with a pescado, and a suplex on the floor. Hey, the stiff has got his working boots on tonight. Glacier chases James Vandenberg (The Sinister Minister) around the ring and eats a baseball slide from Mortis. Sweet. Back in, lariat gets two for Mortis. Fameasser gets two. Another one is countered with a powerbomb. Glacier comes back with a rolling elbow and tilt-a-whirl slam, as James yells “Remember Tai Pei!” at ringside. What does Billy Blanks have to do with this? Legsweep puts both men down. Mortis goes up, but Glacier gets a superplex for two. Mortis gets a Northern Lights suplex for two. Glacier counters another one with a jawbreaker and goes upstairs, but a flying chop misses. He keeps running, however, and rebounds out of the opposite corner with a cross-body for two. That was pretty damn cool. Superkick is blocked. Mortis hits his own for two. Heel miscommunication lets Glacier hit the Cryonic Kick for three at 9:00. Oh my god, they worked their ASSES off there! ***1/2 Post-match, Wrath makes his WCW debut and lays out Glacier with a Rock Bottom.
– Strap match: Buff Bagwell v. Scotty Riggs. Buff spends most of the first part of the match choking Riggs out with the leather strap and conversing with the camera. Scotty slides under Buff and yanks up on the strap, crotching him. He gets two turnbuckles off it. Bagwell hotshots him and then gives himself kudos. More choking. Atomic drop allows more posing and choking as it turns into a Bagwell squash. Buff gets into an argument with the ref, prompting the best part of the match: An argument with the ref ala HHH & Hebner sends Buff scurrying into the corner saying “I’m sorry, I’m sorry!” When the ref turns around, Buff turns to the camera and goes “I’m not really, you know ” Buff Blockbuster misses and Riggs gets some token jobber offense, including a powerbomb and missile dropkick. It gets three turnbuckles for him, but Buff casually backdrops him over the top and chokes him into unconsciousness, then skips around the ring and touches all four for the win at 12:23. Way too long. *1/2
– Tornado match: Harlem Heat v. The Public Enema. This is yet another meaningless “#1 contender” match. Meaningless in that the Outsiders, despite holding the tag titles for the better part of a year, rarely defended them against the #1 contenders (or anyone else for that matter). This is a standard “I hit you, you hit me” tag brawl, with the usual lame weapons (cookie sheets and garbage cans). To be honest, absolutely nothing worth nothing happens until about 10 minutes in, when the Heat hit a Rocket Launcher on Rocko for two. Outside, Grunge puts Stevie through a table in a gratuitous spot, then Mongo & Jarrett do a run-in, lay out Rocko, and Booker finishes with the Harlem Hangover at 13:13. Bleargh. DUD
– World TV title match: Prince Midgetlackeya v. Rey Mysterio Jr. This is a rematch of a boring Superbrawl match. The idea here was a half-assed attempt to elevate both Iaukea and Mysterio at the same time, despite the fact that no one gave a shit about Iaukea (some things never change) and Mysterio wasn’t a really believable heavyweight. Flippy sequence to start, and Rey gets a springboard tope for two. Prince tries a crucifix bomb, which is reversed to a rana for two. Prince bails and gets tope’d. The crowd is just merciless, not popping for ANYTHING. You’d think that someone would have taken the hint from that, and yet Iaukea remains employed TO THIS DAY. Back in, the Prince breaks out a slingshot powerbomb. Mysterio bails and Prince follows with a pescado. Back in, Rey takes over with a bulldog for two. Quebrada gets two. Middle rope powerbomb gets two as the crowd rapidly starts finding other things to occupy them. Rey goes up but misses the senton. Prince gets a Northern Lights suplex for two. Rey tries a rana but gets powerbombed for two. Criss-cross leads to a double-KO. Rey with a flying headscissors and a victory roll for two. The Prince has absolutely no ring presence, as he antiseptically goes through the motions of having a wrestling match without ever injecting any personality into the proceedings. Prince rolls up Rey for two. Twisting moonsault gets two as the “15 minute” time limit expires at 12:00. The Princes wants to continue (as the crowd groans) so we start up again. Rey hits a springboard dropkick and a legdrop for two. He goes for the finish with the rana-rollup, but Prince rolls through for the pin at 14:58. Crowd doesn’t care. **1/4 Amazingly, WCW would keep the title on Iaukea for another MONTH after this, as the WWF blinked first and took the I-C title off Rocky Maivia. Don’t ask, it’s a political thing.
– Roddy Piper, Chris Benoit, Steve MacMichael & Jeff Jarrett v. Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Scott Hall & Kevin Nash v. Lex Luger, The Giant & Scott Steiner. Okay, so this is Brilliant Idea #19191A from the WCW braintrust to get as many big names into a main event as possible. The idea here is that one man from each team starts, with another man from each team entering every two minutes thereafter. The stips are as follows: If Team Piper wins, Roddy gets Hogan in a cage match at some undetermined point. If Team nWo wins, they can have a title match with whichever WCW champion they want, whenever they want. This was later interpreted to mean “They can do whatever they want”. And if Team WCW wins, then the nWo is stripped off all their titles, and are barred from wrestling for THREE YEARS. I mean, c’mon. Like everyone in the whole world didn’t know that the WCW team was gonna lose big after THAT was announced. If that doesn’t frost your preservatives, the ORIGINAL Team Piper stemmed from a rather (in)famous skit on Nitro where Piper “tested” a group of five useless goofs, all wearing kilts, in a series of “matches” that basically insulted the intelligence of even the Turner executives. This was all Piper’s idea, sadly. WCW pulled the plug on the idea after the segment bombed, and stuck the Horsemen in there instead. And god bless Ã¢â‚¬Ëœem for that. Sooooooo, we start with Benoit, Hall & The Giant. Benoit & Hall go for a bit, then Giant makes a late entrance and wipes them out. That goes on for the first five minutes, then Giant takes a charge at Hall with 10 seconds left and goes over and out. Next three up: Jarrett, Savage & Lex Luger. Not much happens for the two-minute period. Next three: Mongo, Nash & Steiner. Pretty much a standard battle royale now. Steiner tiger bombs Hall and suplexes Nash. Nash gets pissed off because of that, and tosses Jarrett. Mongo goes for a piledriver, right near the ropes, and of course Hall backdrops him out. Finally, Roddy Piper and Hulk Hogan join us as Big Poppa Pump is dumped. Dennis Rodman is playing belt-boy today. Piper chokes Savage out with a chain on the outside as the Outsiders try to beat the Canada out of Benoit on the inside. Hogan mugs for the press outside. Hogan and Piper “fight” down the aisle, valiently attempting to make contact on their punches. Back in, Hogan tosses Piper over and out, with Rodman supposedly pulling down the top rope to help, although Piper ended up doing all the work. Benoit gamely struggles, but falls victim to a double-team Outsider’s Edge and gets tossed out. That leaves Luger v. the nWo. They stop to exchange their new hand-signals for the day, giving Lex time to recover. Savage is quickly racked and eliminated as a result. Nash gets clotheslined to the floor. Hall is racked and is gone. That leaves Luger v. Hogan, and that ends quickly as Rodman spraypaints Luger in the face and Hogan gets the pin at 19:19. nWo wins again, huzzah. ***
– The usual drawn-out nWo celebrating follows with a twist. As Tony declares the night over, Sting rappels from the ceiling and absolutely beats the hell out of anything that moves, sending the crowd into a frenzy. Hogan regroups, takes his shot and gets DROPPED. Man, if they had followed up with the Sting-Hogan blowoff at Spring Stampede, they would have done a 2.0 EASY. Waiting that extra few months killed it, I think. Buuuuuuut, hindsight is 20/20 and all that. Bischoff rolled the dice with this one and still got a pretty good payoff out of it. At any rate, an awesome Guerrero-Malenko match and a really great Glacier-Mortis match and a main event that doesn’t totally suck all add up to make this a thoroughly worthwhile excursion for WCW, marking the first Uncensored that was worthy of that praise.