The SmarK 24/7 Rant for the Monday Night War – March 17 1997

The SmarK 24/7 Rant for The Monday Night War – March 17 1997

Part one: MONDAY NITRO!

– Live from Savannah, GA

– Your hosts are Tony and some other guys.

Psychosis v. Rey Mysterio Jr. Rey rides Psy to the mat to start and they trade facelocks, into a sunset flip from Rey that gets two. They do a sloppy test of strength reversal spot and then a SHOCKING moment, as That Guy’s name slips through on commentary! Have the censors been sleeping on the job? Rey dumps Psych and follows with a crazed somersault plancha, but back in Psy comes back with a slam into the corner. Blind charge misses, however, and he hits the post, and Rey follows with another flip dive. Back in, Rey nearly drills Psychosis’s head into the mat with a West Coast Pop for the pin at 3:45. Were they drunk or something tonight? That could have killed the guy. **

– Mean Gene brings out Arn Anderson, who announces that he has to have the dreaded vertebrae fusion surgery, which will end his career.

Maxx v. Diamond Dallas Page. I’m disappointed they don’t mention the connection with DDP and former bodyguard Maxx (Muscle). Page elbows him into the ropes to start, but Maxx catches a clothesline and drops two of the shittiest elbows this side of Jerry Sags. Page slugs him down and goes up with a flying elbow to vary the offense, but Maxx basically no-sells it and goes to a full-nelson. Just as I’m thinking that it would be a hell of a reversal into the Diamond Cutter, that’s just what happens at 1:27. I could totally be booking this crap. *

– DDP cuts a promo against Randy Savage, revealing that Kimberly is his wife for the first time. He’s shooting, brutha! Savage and Evil Liz (who was acting all happy at the time but was apparently pretty miserable being paired with Savage again) respond from the stands, and DDP charges up there after them. This was quite the hot feud.

Hugh Morrus & Konnan v. The Renegade & Joe Gomez. The Dungeon attacks Gomez while they’re gawking at the Outsiders over by the announce table, and work on his leg. That goes on for a while and Morrus clotheslines him once they let him up. They keep switching off on the leg and Konnan gets an anklelock, but this was pre-Shamrock so no one cares. Morrus misses an elbow to give us the hot tag to Renegade, who then tags Gomez back in? The Dungeon quickly finishes him with the moonsault at 5:01. I don’t recall that Gomez-Renegade angle going anywhere, but then I don’t recall much about Renegade in general. Dull stuff. *

US title: Dean Malenko v. Scotty Riggs. I was watching some kind of car racing at work the other day, and one of the racers was named Scott Riggs. True story. I don’t know if he acted like a big gay homo too, but racers don’t generally promo time anyway. Dean grabs a headlock to start, but gets hit with a dropkick and a slam for two. Nice suspenders, Scotty. Dean drops him with a neckbreaker and baseball slides him to the floor, and sends him into the railing. Back in, Dean follows with a corner clothesline, and they do a pretty good pinfall reversal sequence. Riggs comes back with a backdrop and another dropkick, having apparently used up his offensive repertoire, and Dean figures that out and cradles for the pin at 2:28. See, that’s smarts — he figured “Aha, Riggs is already repeating the dropkick, he’s ripe for the picking.” Pretty much a squash. *1/2

– Tony notes that WCW Saturday Night is “setting the standard for wrestling on the weekends.” What does that even MEAN?

Lex Luger & The Giant v. T. Rantula & Knuckles Nelson. You know, if you name your kid “Knuckles,” you’re kinda dooming them to a life of professional wrestling. Giant casually batters both jobbers and chokes out Nelson in the corner. The jobbers decide to team up on him, but that ends badly in the form of a double clothesline, and the chokeslam ends it at 2:50. Luger racks the other guy for good measure, but that’s just poor sportsmanship. Total squash, duh. DUD

– So we get clips of the PPV, as Sting finally chooses a side and destroys the nWo, after they already won the match with WCW a man down. The thing is that since Sting was never talking, there was never any clear character motivation, which makes it a very confusing storyline in retrospect. It was a big angle at the time, but they took another six months to follow up on it, and probably should have blown it off at the Great American Bash instead of waiting until Starrcade.

Ultimo Dragon v. Bobby Eaton. Bobby slugs Dragon down to start, but goes up and gets brought down with a rana to give Dragon the pin at 1:18. Well, that was short. 1/2*

– nWo group wankfest time, as they gloat about being able to challenge for any title at any time. Well, gee, they’ve already got the World title, the tag titles and the Cruiserweight title, so you can see how well thought out this whole thing was. They announce Steiners v. Outsiders at Spring Stampede. That match didn’t actually happen, in case you’re wondering.

Jeff Jarrett & Steve McMichael v. Alex Wright & Mark Starr. Wright dropkicks Jarrett, but gets caught in the Horsemen corner and double-teamed. Mongo with the sideslam, but Jarrett misses a charge and Wright brings Starr in. Mongo clips him, however, and Jarrett finishes with the figure-four at 1:54 as the idiot announcers use this as conclusive proof that Jarrett & Mongo are now on the same page forever. There was some deleted commentary during the entrances, so I guess they just missed the reference to Lord Voldemort earlier in the show. Public Enemy tries to attack and they do a lame brawl before PE just kind of leaves so that the Horsemen can do an interview. Well, that’s nice of them.

Scott Norton v. Chavo Guerrero. Norton no-sells a dropkick and kills Chavo with a clothesline, and then totally shrugs off Chavo’s offense and catches him on a pescado and throws him backinto the ring. Chavo dropkicks the knee and Norton acts mildly irritated, and Chavo goes up with a missile dropkick that barely budges him. Norton won’t sell the punches and whips Chavo into the corner, then blocks a sunset flip and pounds him down before finishing with a powerbomb at 2:30. DUD What a f*cking punk move by Norton, as he gave Chavo nothing and treated him like a jobber. As if anyone ever cared about him in the US.

– Meanwhile, more Hogan, as he and Rodman have a shaky cam interview that says nothing.

WCW World tag titles: The Outsiders v. Bunkhouse Buck & Mike Enos. Hall works on Buck’s arm to start and gets a sloppy bulldog even by his standards. Enos at that point decides he’s already had enough and refuses the tag, leaving Buck to get elbowed by Nash in the corner. Nash forces a tag to Enos, who walks into the blockbuster slam from Hall. Enos pounds Hall in the corner and the jobbers actually get a double-team in their corner to take over. Powerslam gets two for Enos. Sleeper follows, but Hall backdrops out of it. Over to Nash, who drops Buck with Snake Eyes and sideslams Enos. Poochiebomb and Outsider Edge finish at 5:06. Sloppy as hell, but at least the Outsiders lowered themselves to sell for the challengers for a couple of minutes. **

The Steiner Brothers v. Harlem Heat. Booker slugs on Scott and gets the sidekick, but Scott press-slams him. Over to Rick for some Steinerlines, but the Heat double-teams him in the corner. Rick comes back with a powerslam for two, but Stevie powerslams him right back. Booker gets a sideslam and drops an elbow, but Rick gets the hot tag to Scott. Overhead suplex for Booker and it’s BONZO GONZO, and everyone just kind of aimlessly brawls until the nWo runs in at 3:22 for the DQ. Bleh. * Luger and Giant make the save and Sting rappels in long after the nWo has run away, and we’re desperately out of time!

The whole show was basically time filler until the Sting angle at the end, and the next month of shows won’t be much better because Spring Stampede had no real main event to focus on.

Part Two: MONDAY NIGHT RAW!

– Live from Syracuse, NY.

– Your hosts are Vince McMahon, Jerry Lawler & JR.

The Legion of Doom v. Crush & Savio Vega. Brawl to start on the outside and Hawk throws a rare dropkick on Savio and boots him down. In the ring, Animal pounds on Crush in the corner and drops an elbow. The Nation regroups and Savio starts the match proper with Hawk and quickly tries a piledriver, and you know what happens there. Hawk gets another dropkick (0.7 Watts) for two and Animal hits the chinlock. Over to Crush and Hawk as we get a replay of the Nation attack on Ahmed from MSG, as though a DQ run-in finish was something to be proud of. Hawk continues throwing dropkicks, but we take a break and return with Savio getting the leg lariat in the corner. Crush gets a belly to belly for two. Backstage, Faarooq leaves his interview position and lays out Ahmed with a nightstick. Back to the ring, Animal is making the comeback with a powerslam on Savio to set up the Doomsday Device, but of course Faarooq runs in for the DQ at 6:56. Well, geez, they SHOWED the finish in the split-screen, it`s not like it should have been any secret. Ahmed makes the save and poor D-Lo (still without a name) ends up taking the Doomsday Device instead. Really dull match, as the focus was on the guys backstage. *

Hunter Hearst Helmsley v. Flash Funk. Chyna is named for the first time here and gets all up in Funk’s grill, but he`s just too much of a gentleman to hit her. Good thing it`s not Sean Waltman. Hunter armdrags him down and gives him a bow to start, but Funk takes him down by the leg and clotheslines him to the floor. Funk misses a baseball slide and Hunter takes him down with a clothesline. Back in, Funk chops him into a leapfrog, but Hunter catches him with the electric chair on a second try, and takes over. Suplex and kneedrop gets two. Funk comes back with a splash in the corner and drops a leg, and a flying version gets two. He stops to go after Chyna and Hunter suplexes him for two. Flash comes back with his own backdrop suplex and goes up again, but Chyna distracts him again. KICK WHAM PEDIGREE finishes at 5:42. This went nowhere. *1/2

Mini Goldust & Max Mini v. Mini Mankind & Mini Vader. Yeah, I know he was still Mascarita Sagrada at that point, but it’s easier to type “Max Mini”. I have no idea who this flirtation with midget matches was supposed to be appealing to. Vader backdrops Goldust to start, but gets armdragged down and dropkicked out of the ring. Mankind comes in with a clothesline, but Max gets a high (low?) crossbody takes him down with a Rey-ish armdrag that puts Mankind on the floor. Vader fires off a wicked high kick to the back of Max’s head, but Goldust dropkicks him to the floor and follows with a rolling senton. In the ring, Mini gets a victory roll on Mankind for the pin at 2:55. Max chases Vader up the ramp and hits him with a nice dive off the stage as well.

Meanwhile, President Gorilla confirms that the cage match tonight is for the title. Was this ever in doubt?

Bret Hart joins us for an interview with Kevin Kelly, and he’s getting really heelish now, basically treating it as a foregone conclusion that he’ll be champion after tonight and pointing out that it’s his god-given right to be champion again since he’s been screwed so often.

The Sultan v. Mike Bell. It’s kind of amazing that they had Bob Backlund AND Iron Sheik talking for the Sultan and still couldn’t get him over. Rocky Maivia, on commentary here, was literally kissing babies and shaking hands on the way to the ring as they did everything humanly possible to make people care about him. Sultan lays out Bell and goes up with a flying splash and camel clutch to finish at 0:56. DUD

The War Zone begins!

Vince brings out Shawn Michaels for an interview, and Shawn is back in full smiling babyface mode after his near-miss as a heel. He’s found his smile again! Thank god! He’s gonna be at Wrestlemania to do commentary.

Vader v. The British Bulldog. Vader powers Bulldog into the corner and pounds away to start. He slugs Bulldog down and follows with a short clothesline, but Bulldog no-sells and gets fired up enough to shoulderblock Vader down. Delayed suplex and a clothesline puts Vader on the floor. That suplex took some impressive strength on both of their parts. We take a break and return with Vader hitting a splash from the middle rope, for two. Vader misses a butt splash and Bulldog splashs him for two. Crucifix attempt is blocked by a samoan drop from Vader, and he follows with his own splash for two. A clothesline off the middle rope gets two, but another try results in Bulldog powerslamming him and making the comeback. Vader tries a corner splash, but Bulldog catches him and slams him. Powerslam follows, but Owen Hart and Mankind run in for the DQ at 5:57. Bulldog wrestled like a total face here, setting up his “turn” before double-crossing the fans and making him into an even bigger heel. Standard power match. **

Billy Gunn v. Aaron Ferguson. Ferguson looks like the biggest jobber who ever jobbed. Gunn casually slams him and applies a legbar, as Ken Shamrock is on commentary here and Gunn is trying to prove a point. Abdominal stretch, another UFC favourite I guess, and a slam gets two. Gunn finishes with the world’s worst cross-armbreaker at 2:00 and Shamrock casually notes “That’s a pretty good armbar, I guess.” Gosh, he used to be so diplomatic. DUD Gunn continues calling Shamrock out, so Ken obliges and kicks his ass. Gunn taps out to an armbar, which is the first appearance of that in the WWF. The tapping, not the armbar.

Steve Austin cuts a killer promo while they set up the cage, writing Shamrock off as “some punk that had some fights on the street while people videotaped it” and just sounding like a total badass.

WWF World title: Sid v. Bret Hart. Bret pounds away in the corner to start and chokes him down, then drops an elbow and goes for the escape early. Sid crotches him to bring him down and slams him into the cage, and they battle on the top rope. Bret elbows him down and starts working the back, then climbs again and gets slammed off by Sid as a result. Sid crawls for the door, but Steve Austin closes it while Bret holds the ankle, and we take a break. Back with Bret working on the back, but Sid whips him into the corner and powerbombs him. Sid climbs, but Austin follows him up the cage and fights with him to keep him in the cage! The storyline with enemies helping enemies to secure a title match at Wrestlemania is a great one. Sid fights off Austin, but Bret recovers and hauls him back in. This brings out Undertaker and all four are brawling on top of the cage, which ends with Bret superplexing Sid back into the ring again. Sid climbs out while Bret goes for the door, but Undertaker slams it in his face and Sid drops down to win at 7:58. Crappy match, but it’s not the match that made this famous. **

After the match, Vince McMahon goes to interview a despondent Bret, and he SNAPS. Bret’s swearing put the show on a 7-second delay for years afterward, and Bret cuts the all-time great whiny heel promo and just totally turns the crowd against him. Everyone ends up back in the ring again for another brawl, all fighting over the WWF title to actually show people who CARE about the belt. Sadly, it did nothing for the WM13 buyrate, but it revived Bret’s career as a main eventer. Vine swears up and down that there’s no conspiracy against Bret Hart. Honest. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the angle that set the promotion on fire for the next six months and then led to the angle that destroyed WCW for good. That’s not something you can say very often.

The winner this week is obvious, although the wrestling on both shows sucked ass.

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