The SmarK Rant for WCW Slamboree 1997 – 05.18.97
Don’t remember this show at all. Big surprise, I know. But hey, it’s been 20 years since the original rant, might as well redo it.
Live from Charlotte, NC, drawing a sellout 9643 and second-largest gate in the history of the city.
Your hosts are Tony, Bobby and Dusty.
WCW TV title: Ultimo Dragon v. Lord Steven Regal
We are not to call him “Lord” because he’s just a regular guy now. A man. A man’s man, if you will. They fight over the knucklelock to start and Regal takes him down for two and then wraps him up with a straitjacket hold on the mat. Mike Tenay lobs a softball at Dusty with “You were one of the many great TV champions of the past…” and of course Big Dust immediately has a story ready in response. Aw, that’s nice of Mike. Dragon escapes the hold and goes to the headlock to control Regal on the mat, but Regal fights out with forearms and so Dragon does the handstand kick out of the corner and puts Regal down with the kick combo. The crowd thinks that’s pretty cool. Dragon with the chinlock and he throws some STIFF kicks at Regal’s back and works the knee with a half-crab. Probably don’t have to ask Regal twice if it’s OK to really lay in the shots. Regal takes him down and then lays in the kicks to the head and Dragon bails to escape that. Back in, Regal with a suplex for two. Next up, he goes to a full nelson, but Dragon switches to a sunset flip off that for two, and then Regal rolls into the Regal Stretch and Dragon has to make the ropes. Dragon’s had enough of this and takes Regal down for some slaps to the face, then tries a cross armbreaker. Regal, however, does a SLICK reversal where he grapevines Dragon’s leg with his own legs and pulls him into the Regal Stretch again. He can’t hook it, so he takes Dragon into the bow-and-arrow instead. Dragon escapes that and goes with more stiff kicks to the back, then wraps him up with the bridging deathlock ala Muta. Regal fights out and delivers his own snug forearms, but Dragon dropkicks him to the floor and Onoo gets the cheapshots in, which Dragon doesn’t seem to appreciate. Dragon with the handspring elbow in the ring and the top rope rana for two. Moonsault misses and Regal tries for the Stretch again, but Dragon is too close to the ropes. Dragon reverses a butterfly suplex into a rana for two. Regal rolls him up for two, but Dragon puts him down with a spinkick and La Majastral and Regal is in the ropes this time. Dragon keeps coming with a quebrada and puts Regal on the floor again, but Regal casually sidesteps a dive like Samoa Joe. They fight on the floor and Dragon hits the Asai Moonsault and both are down, but Dragon prevents Onoo from attacking again, and Onoo turns on him and puts him down with a head kick. Back in, Regal hits an inverted suplex and gets the Regal Stretch to regain the TV title at 16:04. DAMN. They had a HELL of a hard-hitting match to open the show. ****
LADIES GRUDGE MATCH: Luna Vachon v. Madusa
Typical WCW nonsense here, as Madusa was supposed to have “won” the WCW Women’s title from Akira Hokuto in a make believe match in Japan and WCW proceeded with taping stuff where she was the champion. Good enough, but they forgot to tell Madusa that she had “won” the title and people kept congratulating her backstage for winning, and she was denying winning it until everyone thought she was kayfabing. And then WCW finally decided to just make it a storyline where Madusa was apparently lying about winning the title in the pre-taped stuff, and had Onoo deny that the match ever happened. BECAUSE WCW. Anyway, Madusa slugs away to start, but Madusa takes her down with some choking and follows with a suplex for two. Madusa comes back with a corner clothesline and yells a lot, then drops Luna on her head with a clothesline for two. Luna blocks a sunset flip for two and Madusa reverses for two, but Luna comes back with a facebuster and a neckbreaker. To the top, but she misses a flying splash and Madusa finishes with the german suplex at 5:12. Nothing particularly good or bad here. **
Mean Gene has the details on “an interim change in talent coordination” on the hotline. That was Kevin Sullivan getting temporarily removed as booker, by the way. Perhaps he was having some problems with his marriage and needed time off?
Randy Savage joins us and he’s pretty sure that DDP is a coward who does not want any part of the Madness, but Page comes out of the crowd with a crutch and accuses Savage of needing to go to Hogan’s house so he can wash his car and kiss his ass. DDP is one to talk. Regardless, this is enough provocation for Savage to accept the challenge, but the nWo storms in and kicks Page’s ass. Luckily the Giant makes the save and chases off the bad guys. Super hot segment.
Yuji Yasuraoka v. Rey Mysterio Jr.
Yuji was a green junior from WAR who ended up retiring about two years after this. I have no earthly idea why they debuted him on a PPV in this kind of death spot. Well, I mean, it’s WCW, so I do have an idea, but you know. He looks kind of like John Cho from Star Trek, actually. Yuji takes him down with a chinlock, but Rey goes after the knee, so Yuji beats him down with kicks. Rey goes to the arm, but Yasuraoka clotheslines him for two. Rey dumps him and Mark Curtis tries to prevent any dives, so Rey uses the ref as a springboard and hits it anyway. Back in, Rey goes to a chinlock and they slug it out on the apron, but Rey tries a springboard move and Yasuraoka hits him with a kick in mid-air, for two. Now he goes to the arm and works on that as Lance Storm gets namedropped by Tenay for the first time I can remember. Yuji keeps working the arm and it’s pretty dull stuff and the crowd doesn’t understand it anyway. This was not the crowd to try a Japanese-style submission battle with an unknown guy. Yuji snaps the arm on the top rope and then hits Rey with a dive. Back in, a suplex gets two. Blind charge misses and Rey comes back with a split legged moonsault for two and he whacks the cameraman with his foot in the process! They trade rollups for two and Rey powerbombs him, but misses a flying splash and Yuji gets a double arm DDT for two. Another try is reversed into a bridge for two, but Yasuraoka dropkicks Rey into the corner and follows with a leg lariat. Blind charge misses, but he tries going up and gets dropkicked coming down, and Rey finishes with the West Coast Pop at 14:49. Technically fine and it picked up at the end, but this wasn’t gonna win a job for Yasuraoka. ***
Glacier v. Mortis
Tonight, James Vandenberg notes, they will send Glacier back to his igloo in a BODYBAG. I feel like he’s mixing up some metaphors there. Mortis attacks during the ceremonial karate poses and works on the knee in the corner, then summons Wrath while Glacier comes back with an electric chair and a backdrop. Wrath comes in for the DQ at 1:50 and they proceed to beating him down, but a “fan” runs in to make the save with various martial arts kicks, who turns out to be the man, the myth, the legend, the CAT. Of course Tony (via Eric Bischoff) assumes that everyone watching will know that Ernest Miller is the current World champion of tournament karate or kickboxing or whatever he was, and that indeed everyone will care.
US title: Dean Malenko v. Jeff Jarrett
Tony notes that anyone holding up the Horsemen sign in this building will get cheered, so of course the crowd boos Jarrett out of the building. They do the lockup and the crowd chants “Jarrett sucks” to really emphasize how popular that he is with Horsemen fans. They trade armdrags and Malenko tries some holds on the mat, but Jarrett does the showboating and walks on him. Malenko grabs a chinlock and turns it into an STF, but Jarrett reverses and works on the knee. Malenko goes to the knee himself and dropkicks it into the railing, but Jarrett catches him with a cheapshot on the way into the ring and dropkicks him for two. He tries for an abdominal stretch and Malenko stomps him down to escape, and Jarrett bails to the floor to regroup. Back in, Jarrett works the arm this time while claiming a hairpull, but Dean gets a backdrop suplex for two. Jarrett gets a neckbreaker and the figure-four, but the fans are NOT OK with that. Dean reverses to the cloverleaf, but Jarrett cradles for two, so Dean catapults him under the bottom rope and they head to the floor. Back in, Jarrett with a crossbody that Dean rolls through for two. Jarrett with the sleeper, but Dean runs him into the corner to break and gets his own, and Jarrett escapes with a knee crusher and gets the figure-four for real. And again, the crowd is NOT OK with this. Dean makes the ropes quickly as the crowd expresses their displeasure with Jeff, and they collide to put Jarrett on the floor. This brings Mongo out to retrieve Debra and toss JJ into the ring to “take care of it himself” , which leads to Dean quickly putting him away with the Texas cloverleaf at 15:00 to retain. Match was fine but nothing of note. **3/4
DEATH MATCH: Meng v. Chris Benoit
So in an ironic twist, Kevin Sullivan’s departure was supposed to be a concern for Chris Benoit, because Kevin had been protecting and featuring him to keep him strong as a personal opponent. Man, would THAT relationship ever change soon. So this match is contested under the ol’ Navy rules: First man to die, loses. I know, I know, but I can’t waste a chance to use a perfectly good Hot Shots quote just because one guy turned out to be a murdering sociopath. They trade kicks and Benoit bails for some advice from Woman, and back in he throws Meng with a german suplex and dropkicks the knee. They hit the floor and Benoit runs him into the railing, which has no real effect. Back in, Meng batters him in the corner, but Benoit fires back with his own chops and they slug it out. Jackie randomly shows up to watch the match on behalf of Sullivan, allowing Meng to beat Benoit down in the corner. The problem with the match is that today we know how tough that Meng is because it’s 20 years later and we have the benefit of the internet and history to tell us, but fans at the time didn’t buy him as a tough guy at all no matter how much they pushed the idea on TV. To the WCW fans, he was a midcard tag team wrestler. Meng works a half-crab, but there’s no submissions, unless there is, I’m not 100% sure of the rules and neither were the announcers. They trade chops and Meng puts him down with a headbutt and follows with a piledriver, which gets a count of 7. Benoit takes him down with the Crippler Crossface, but Meng powers himself to the ropes, which may or may not force a break, I’m not 100% sure and neither are the announcers. The ref forces the break anyway, because why not? Frankly I’m shocked they didn’t have the death match end in a DQ. Meng beats him down and he’s clobbering, which draws a count of 5. Benoit keeps asking for more, so Meng beats on him in the corner, but he misses the KICK OF FEAR and Benoit comes back with the rolling germans and gets the crossface again. Meng bails to escape and Benoit hits him with the tope suicida and goes up, but Meng cuts him off, so Benoit hits a german suplex and goes up to the other side for the diving headbutt…which lands on the TONGAN DEATH GRIP. And the ref stops the match at 14:56. Look, I know you’re gonna read the match and be like “Holy shit, Benoit v. Meng in a death match! They’re gonna beat the shit out of each other and it’s gonna be awesome!” But honestly, it really wasn’t, and it only served to kill Benoit’s momentum because Meng took all the offense, and no one bought it. **1/2
The Steiner Brothers v. Konnan & Hugh Morrus
Question: What the hell was the point of the Outsiders keeping the tag titles on ice at this point? They had been champions since October and were doing nothing with them, whereas the Steiners could have been defending them here and maybe adding a couple of buys. Well at least the Dungeon of Doom doing squashes on Nitro was leading to something. Scott continues to inflate before our eyes, and trades wristlocks with Morrus to start. Morrus pounds on him in the corner, but Scott hits him with a belly to belly and brings in Rick. Hugh gets a corner splash, but misses a second one and Rick hits him with an overhead suplex and goes up with a flying clothesline to clear the ring. Konnan comes in and Rick takes him down for two, but Scott charges and hits boot. He keeps coming with a suplex on Konnan, however, and beats on Morrus, but Jimmy Hart finally trips him up and Scott is your freak-in-peril. Morrus press-slams him into the turnbuckles and Konnan works him over from the apron behind the ref’s back, then comes in with the rolling clothesline for two. The Dungeon double-teams Scott with simultaneous armbars, but Rick breaks it up and tosses Konnan. Back in, Scott fires off another suplex for the hope spot and fights off Hugh Morrus with a boot, and it’s hot tag Rick. Steinerlines for all Konnan hits the floor. Flying bulldog for Morrus gets two. It’s BONZO GONZO and the Steiners slug away in the corners, but Rick collides with Konnan and Morrus goes up to finish. No Laughing Matter misses, however, and Scott uses the Frankensteiner for the first time in ages and Rick gets the pin at 9:35. Pretty entertaining mean guy match! **1/2 Konnan’s had enough of the Dungeon of Doofuses, and turns on Hugh Morrus after the loss before showing up as the newest nWo member soon after.
Steve McMichael v. Reggie White
So remember how Mongo came in and got over right away, and so did Kevin Greene? Lightning did not strike thrice in this case. This feud is based on a football rivalry and not much else, but sadly JR isn’t here to call it or explain any of that stuff. They exchange football tackles and Mongo works the headlock, but White knocks him down and Mongo does a comedy bump off it. So they do another football spot and Steve clips the knee, then claims that they can do it again and he won’t go for the knee. But then he DOES. Never trust a Horsemen. White manages to dodge the, uh, stealthy speed of Steve McMichael and puts him on the floor with a clothesline that is on the level of an Erik Watts dropkick, and Mongo decides to walk out. If only he had succeeded, the match would have been way better. Another football player throws Steve back into the ring and White throws a dropkick (better than Erik Watts, speaking of) that gets two. Mongo grabs an armbar and declares “Jesus may have your soul, but I’ve got your ass!” That’s an arm, Mongo. White tosses him and we go back to the headlock again, but Mongo takes out the knee again after promising not to do that earlier and goes to work on that. Yes, they booked a match where Steve McMichael would be tasked with carrying it via WORKING THE KNEE. How did this company not die in a fire at CNN Center caused by someone leaving a fork in a microwave by mistake? White tries another headlock, but Mongo kicks him in the nuts and yes, goes back to the knee again. It’s a kneebar in the sense that he stands there half-heartedly holding the ankle while Reggie lays on the mat with his leg extended in the air. That gets two. White tries a comeback but Mongo goes for the figure-four and White shoves him out of the ring to counter. Even the super-hot crowd is over this disaster at this point. Mongo tries to go to the top rope and gets slammed off. McMichael slugs away in the corner but Reggie comes back with more terrible clotheslines, and they brawl to the floor and both guys are just completely blown up. Back in, White gets a suplex and the big splash, but Debra takes the ref and one of the football players foils Mongo’s attempt to use the briefcase. So Jeff Jarrett runs down, gives Mongo a second one, and that thankfully finishes at 15:12. Dusty, all star bullshitter, can’t even say the phrase “This was a really good match” without sounding like he needed to be held at gunpoint to get the words out. This should have finished HIGH in the voting for Worst Match of 1997. -***
The Outsiders & Syxx v. Ric Flair, Kevin Greene & Rowdy Roddy Piper
This is Flair’s return after months off due to injury, and the pop for his entrance is massive. Tony notes that Flair won the title here in 1993 by “pummeling a big man into submission, who was never to be seen again”. Laying it on a big thick there, Tony. Syxx grabs a headlock on Flair to start and gives us various crotch-chopping in celebration, but tries to strut and Flair chops the SHIT out of him. Awesome. Syxx hits him with a spinkick and tries some chops of his own, so Flair punches him in the face instead and throws his own chops. Crowd goes insane for that. Did these two ever have a singles match? Seems like it would have been good. Flair’s ready for some more, so he invites Nash in, but Hall tags in instead. So Flair brings in Greene and he’s all coked up and ready to go but Nash comes in now. They were having that really great sequence with Flair and Syxx to start and it turned into a few minutes of stalling, unfortunately. Nash beats on Greene with the framed elbow in the corner, but Kevin puts him down with a shoulderblock and clothesline and the crowd just pops for everything. Nash takes a slam and bails, so Greene hits Hall and Syxx with clotheslines as well and the nWo regroups. Back in and it’s over to Piper, who boxes Hall in the corner and then fights off the nWo in their corner and hits Hall with a neckbreaker. Syxx hits him in the bad hip behind the ref’s back, however, and the heels go to work on it. Flair gets a hot tag and throws chops on everything that moves, but Hall catches him on the Flair Flip with the blockbuster slam and clotheslines him over the top rope. Flair is face-in-peril and takes the beating in the corner as Syxx gets two. False tag to Piper, so Roddy decks the ref and everyone brawls. Nick Patrick comes out to replace him as Flair goes low on Hall, but Nash nails him from behind. Flair no-sells it, takes Hall down with the figure-four while the other faces take the nWo, and everyone is pinned by the babyfaces at the same time at 17:25 to a deafening pop. Nice to see the babyfaces actually WIN for once in this endless feud. Not much to the match, as it was mostly Syxx working for 4 other people and Flair throwing chops, but the heat was off the charts and the right team won. ***
Overall, a reasonably enjoyable, if completely forgettable, PPV that was really only sunk by the football match. I’d call it good enough for a thumbs up.