WCW Monday Nitro - June 30, 1997
by erick von erich
It's the Greatest Night in the History of our Sport! It's Monday Nitro from Las Vegas! This time around, they actually start off with the traditional opening-- with exploding manhole covers and the Giant on the side of a building! It's Tony Schiavone, Larry Zbyszko and Mike Tenay! To set the scene for you, we're right in the height of the WCW/nWo war. Diamond Dallas Page has promised a surprise tag team partner for Bash at Beach! Plus, there was a special "Saturday Nitro" Internet-only broadcast, just three days ago! Plus, a new "impact player" is rumored to be debutting tonight! But with so much going on in World Championship Wrestling, let's get down to ringside for...
A Very Special Mean Gene Interview with Ric Flair
Flair's music sounds as he struts to the ring, followed by two bimbos in cocktail dresses carying a mannequin dressed up as "Rowdy" Roddy Piper. Half of the mannequin's apendages and clothes fall off as it's brought into the ring. Gene sees the two chicks and "offers to help". Flair then runs down Piper, saying how he couldn't go all night long, like the Nature Boy! Gene asks one chick about being the "60 minute man".. she answers: "what?" The other chimes in: "More like 30 seconds!" Okay...but it wasn't clear if Gene was asking about Flair or Piper, so that's either a bad joke or a blown line. The segment ends as Flair lays "the former Hot Rod" to rest.
Match 1: WCW Cruiserweight Championship:
Chris Jericho (c) vs. Juventud Guererra
Jericho has his newly-won belt, after he beat Syxx in an impromptu match during the Saturday night Internet-only radio show from the Great Western Forum in Los Angeles. As was common in those days, the show had several outages, so the announcers make sure to apologize as Jericho walks to the ring. Match begins as they trade armbars and each flip or roll out. Jericho cinches a waistlock, flings Juvi over his head, then clamps on a bow-and-arrow hold. Juvi escapes and charges with a flying head-scissors. Juvi tries a follow-up sprinboard move off the ropes, but blows it. Badly. Jericho with a belly-to-back suplex, then a vertical version for a 2 count. Juvi lightly lands his head-scissors move again, but Jericho ties him to the "Tree of Woe" in the corner and delivers a baseball slide dropkick to the noggin. Jericho lands a backbreaker and holds it to stretch the back. Juvi comes back by leaping out of the corner with a spinning heel kick, then goes up top where he blows ANOTHER move. He manages to whip Jericho to the turnbuckle, where the latter tumbles outside. Juvi launches himself onto the floor with a suicide dive and connects for once. He tosses Jericho back in and hits his 450 top corner splash (which Tony calls a "360"..but we'll forgive him, the name hadn't been established at the time). Juvi only gets 2, so he tries a head-scissors again. Jericho blocks the attempt and turns it into TWO consecutive powerbombs. 2 count only for Jericho. Jericho hoists Juvi on the top tunrbuckle and delivers a super Frankensteiner! Jericho applies his "new finisher", the Boston Crab (soon to be known as the "Lion-tamer") and gets the submission win. Juvi blew some big spots, but Jericho really went through a full arsenal to showcase himself.
Mean Gene is in the ring to interview the champ, when the former champ Syxx enters the scene. Syxx says that he was never beat... the only time Jericho beat anything was back at his hotel room. Them's Figthin' Words, as they tear into each other.
Back from a commercial break, as Doug "Papa Smurf" Dellinger and WCW Security are still breaking up the skirmish. Instead of finishing his original interview, Mean Gene is approached in the aisle by Alex Wright. Wright complains that he hasn't gotten a fair shake in WCW because....he's from Germany. Larry Z complains about a "Zbyszko Bites" sign in the crowd, as another commerical break cues up.
Match 2: Dean Malenko vs. Eddie Guererro
Eddie attacks Malenko in the aisle, right away. Eddie had recently revealed his true "lie, cheat n' steal" colors, even costing Malenko the US Championship a few weeks back. So this match is slightly different from their usual encounters. Eddie's in total heel mode here, as he chops away and chokes Dean on the ropes. Big suplex from Eddie and a flying reverse elbow. He goes for a tornado DDT off the top rope, but Malenko shoves him off. Eddie charges, but Malenko sends him flying in the air, right into the turnbuckle. Malenko follows up with a belly-to-back suplex and a leg lariat for a 2 count. Powerbomb and a reverse wheelbarrow move from Malenko. Chavo Guererro suddenly wanders down to ringside for a look. Chavo is up on the apron, so Malenko goes over to investigate. Eddie charges from behind, nailing Malenko and sending Chavo into the railing. Eddie hits a brainbuster suplex, then flies from the top with his Frog Splash to score the 3 count. Eddie smirks to the camera as he helps the injured Chavo to the back.
A Very Special Mean Gene Interview with Rey Mysterio
Rye meets Gene at the entrance ramp. He's out there to challenge...duh, duh, duh.. KEVIN NASH! He cites all the ways Nash has bullied him over the past year. First the famous "dart" move, then causing Rey to lose his Cruiserweight title match a few weeks back. Rey says it's not about size, since he has the bigger heart. Nash walks down, rather nonchalantly and accepts. Nash says: "if you have a bigger heart, we'll do an autopsy, tonight". Larry says: "well, it was nice knowing Rey!"
This was a BIG step for Rey's WCW run. One of the luchadors finally got involved in the WCW/nWo stuff, straight-up. And, gasp, he spoke fluent English! This really made Rey stand out. In fact, this made him one of my favorite rasslers. I remember marking out HARD for this interview back in 1997; "Yeah! Go get 'im, Rey!! Do it!!!" It's been done several times since, but Rey's nearly 3-year ongoing feud with Nash was one of the better "courageous little guy" angles I can recall.
A Very Special Eric Bischoff/nWo segment
Bischoof rides to the ring on a motorcycle.... only a week after the WWF debutted the Disciples of the Apocalypse by having them ride to the ring. Hmmmm. He brings out "Hollywood" Hulk Hogan, who runs down Diamond Dallas Page, Lex Luger and Giant. Hogan says he's simply in Vegas to party, but gives the crowd some poses. Weird editing job, as we immediately cut to...
Match 3: WCW Television Championship:
Steve Regal (c) vs. Hector Garza
Rgeal works Garza's arms while a curious "USA" chant breaks out. Garza reverses an armbar and lands a shoulderblock. Regal tries a crab, but Garza twists out of it, dowdily. Regal jabs him with a Shemp Stooge Eye Boink and delivers some uppercuts. Garza comes off the ropes with a flying forearm, then misses another. Garza somersaults off of the top turnbuckle, for no real reason, then delivers a frail dropkick. Regal staggers out of the ring, then Garza connects with a baseball-slide kick. Garza leaps from the top turnbuckle with his corkscrew plancha...but only grazes Regal in the shin. Back inside, Garza hits with a top-rope missile dropkick, but misses a spingboard moonsault off the ropes. Regal instantly applies the Regal Stretch to get the submission win. Very awkward match, as these two didn't connect at all.
A nWo promo runs, featuring stills of Dennis Rodman's involvement with the group. With less than 3 full matches in his nWo run, Rodman got more pub than Big Bubba, Michael Wallstreet or Dusty Rhodes ever did during their stints in the group!
A Very Special Mean Gene Interview with Rick & Scott Steiner
Since being stripped of the WCW Tag Team Championship in a blatant abuse of power by Eric Bischoff back in March, the Steiners have worked their way back to become the #1 contenders. They immediately call out their old nemesis-- the Outsiders. Scott Hall and Kevin Nash arrive at the top of the ramp, backed up by the nWo b-team (Scott Norton, Buff Bagwell, Masa Hiro Chono and Vincent). Hall presents them with a contract, which the Steiners enthusiastically sign. After the "Einsteiners" leave, Hall reveals that it was actually a contract to face Masa Hiro Chono and the Great Muta. D'oh....
Match 4: Psychosis (w/Sonny Onoo) vs. Super Calo
Hmm...the urban legend was that Calo was immediately fired after lauching himself three rows deep into the audience, last week (June 23, 1997). Yet here he is. Psychosis had recently joined up with Onoo after the latter had miscommunication problems with Ultimo/Ultimate Dragon. Match begins with some dancing and swapping of armbars. Psychosis takes Calo to the mat with an armdrag, but Calo rolls out of the ring so Onoo can land some karate kicks. Back to the ring, where Psychosis charges head-long into a powerslam from Calo. Calo goes upstairs, but gets crotched on the ropes. Psychosis kicks him to the apron, then lands a baseball-slide dropkick (move of the night) to send him to the floor. Psychosis leaps to the floor, but gets a mouthful of railing. Fully recoverd, Calo tries to suplex Psychosis into the ring from the apron. But Onoo grabs the leg, allowing Psychosis to land on top and get the pin.
Post match shenanigans! La Parka, who had brained Calo with a molded plastic chair the previous week, runs down and blasts him with a chair AGAIN! Juventud Guererra runs in to make the save for Calo. So, yup, a slight angle to build up a future luchadores tag team match. The angles are running wild, tonight!
Match 5: High Voltage (Rage & Kaos) vs. Wrath & Mortis (w/James Vandenburg)
"Honk honk... Danger: High Voltage!! (match will suck)" But first, HOUR 2 KICKS OFF...as Bobby Heenan joins the broadcast crew. Wrath and Mortis walt to the ring and begin pummelling on High Jobbage. Wrath hooks in Kaos with a belly-to-belly suplex, then comes off the top with a flying clothesline. Glacier and Ernest Miller run-in and attack Vandenburg's troops. Miller prances off the top rope with his "Feliner" flying kick and nails Mortis in the mug. Kaos falls on top and, surprise surprise, High Voltage gets the 3 count win! Vandenburg goes all meoldramatic as he shouts Fightin' Words into the camera.
But fans, wait, what's this?!! There's a white limo parked out back!! Could this be the new impact player?!! The door is opening....no, it's closing! I always like the unwritten rule of 90's pro wrestling-- how most wrestlers were only allowed to ride in a limo for their debut (notable exceptions being the nWo and Flair). After the debut, the company went cheap, as they probably set them up with a conventional taxi or a rental car.
Lee Marshall calls in with the WCW Road Report! He's at a Nitro Party on Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee! Or, more accurately: "sitting pantless in a hotel room and watching Skinemax!"
Back to live action...and fans, what's this?! RAVEN is in the front row! What's HE doing here?! My guess: he probably got hired....
Match 6: WCW United States Championship:
Jeff Jarrett (c) vs. Konnan
Noticeably absent is Debra McMichael, who had been seconding JJ for the past few months. Konnan is all punchy/kicky until Jarrett leaps over him and armdrags. Konnan quickly returns to the command position, and he stomps away on Jarrett and nails him in the mush with a seated drop-kick. Jarrett is sent to the ropes and greets Konnan with a DDT. Konnan gives him a face-plant then tries a submission move by cranking the shoulder, hthen tries to apply a figure four. JJ comes back with a Shemp Stooge Eye Boink, right as Ric Flair saunters down to ringside. Konnan runs over to SPIT at Flair, which allows JJ to come back and apply his own figure four. Konnan fights it, then succeeds it reversing the hold. Flair, out of view of the official, reaches in to help Jarrett with "extra leverage". Konnan can't fight it any longer and gives up.
Post match shenanigans again! Flair enters the ring to do a little strutting with Jarrett. Mean Gene enters the ring to get a word, as the rest of the Horsemen arrive. Well, I notice Steve McMichael and his wife, Debra... but there's some short guy with a black vest and a dark-haired mullet. Who is THAT?!! I wonder if he can wrestle?! Anyways, Jarrett is incredibly cocky with mic time, saying he beat all of the Horsemen, but respects Flair. Flair gets the stick, tells JJ that "familiarity breeds contempt", then promptly kicks him out of the group!! Debra (showing a nice bit of leg) backs it up by saying she doesn't care for him anymore and that he stinks. As the Horsemen quietly leave, JJ gets the mic back and promises that he'll be the one to finally run Flair out of the sport. More angle development! This was supposed to be the start of JJ forming a new "Anti-Horsemen" with Dean Malenko, Eddie Guererro and Alex Wright. Rumor at the time was that they're were going to be called simply "The Apocalypse"... but the appearance of DOA kinda' shelved that moniker. Regardless, the angle sorta' builds up for a few more weeks, then WCW pulls the plug.
Match 7: Rey Misterio, Jr vs. Kevin Nash
But first..you may remember when Nash tossed Rey into the trailer (7/29/96)...or when Nash jacknifed Rey during a Cruiserweight title match (4/21/97)! Rey runs to the ring and immediately hits Nash with a top rope dropkick. 3 more dropkicks for good measure! Rey spring boards off the ropes, knocks Nash down a gets a 2 count! Rey then mistakenly tries a sunset flip... Nash blocks it, grabs him by the throat and kills him with a backbreaker. Big presslam, then Nash easily tosses Rey halfway across the ring. Jacknife powerbomb hits and Nash covers with only a foot on Rey for the 3 count. As nash performs THREE more jacknife powerbombs on Rey, Konnan appears in the aisle. Nash is setting up for another jacknife, but Konnan nods his way.... Nash quietly leaves the ring. It appears Konnan came out to help Rey... but then he cranks on a submission hold and yanks away on Rey's knee!! Rey screams in pain as we go to commercial. Awww....
Back from the break, Rey is doing a stretcher job, as the announcers speculate about a broken leg. I think Rey was written out for a few months so he could have legitimate surgery on his leg. As Rey is wheeled out, Mike Tenay has been dispatched into the crowd to get a word with Raven. Tenay mentions that Raven has "been a champion with other organizations". There, is THAT so hard to do, WWF?!! Raven completely no-sells Tenay questions and doesn't mutter a word. I'm sure some mark, somewhere is saying; "ooo, see, Raven was such a master of psychology!!" *fart*
Match 8: Lex Luger, The Giant & Diamond Dallas Page (w/Kimberly) vs. Scott Hall, Kevin Nash &
"Macho Man" Randy Savage (w/Elizabeth)
Entrances take long enough to last through a commercial break. Nash is wearing a poorly-fitted wig, for whatever reason. The good guys can't get into the ring...until they make one mass charge and pair off with their enemies. They break off into Hall vs. Luger, Nash vs. Giant and Savage vs. DDP. Mostly punching and choking for a good five minutes. Things begin slowing down, until DDP cracks Savage with the Diamond Cutter. Hollywood Hogan arrives, followed by the rest of the nWo. The beatdown is suddenly ON! Luger, as he always seemed to do in these segments, ends up outside the ring, lying on the floor.
But wait, fans.. what's this?! STING is in the crowd! No wait...STING is dropping down from the rafters!! (Stinger used one of his doubles in the crowd). The ring clears as the good guys stand tall. But wait, fans.. what's this?! CURT HENNIG (in a bright blue polyester suit) walks down the aisle! Raven hops the guardrail and ...does nothing! Fans, we've gotta' go!!
Why'd You Tape This??
Wow.... A LOT of angle development in this episode. Raven and Hennig debut, plus stuff is brewing with JJ and Flair, Steiners and the Outsiders, Malenko and Eddie, Konnan and Rey, Jericho and Syxx...even La Parka and Super Calo. Not to mention the massive ongoing nWo vs. WCW angle (with Sting). There is really very little wasted airtime in this episode. The matches included aren't too bad, either. Well, Regal vs. Garza stunk, but Wrath/Mortis vs. High Voltage was kept to a 90 second beatdown with a surprise upset ending.
However, this WWE 24/7 broadcast conveniently ommitted one key match: the nWo contingent of Buff Bagwell, Scott Norton and Vincent lost a six-man match to the Four Horsemen team of Ric Flair, Steve McMichael and....some Canadian Guy. You add that match in, and this show is stocked. But it's still an exceptional episode of Nitro, even without that match.