Big questions on deck this week. Will The Giant get a token of revenge against the nWo? Will the announcers finally catch up to the rest of us and realize Sting is pro-WCW? Will Jimmy Graffiti ever win again?
Nitro isn’t but seconds old, and we aren’t even given the benefit of a complete opening sequence (now I’ll NEVER know what happened to those exploding traffic lights), because THE GIANT has come crashing through the door of the nWo locker room. He’s here to SHOCK the World because he’s the SHOCKMA… wait, wrong year. He manages to take out the entire crew of NWO JOBBERS before being taken out by security. The A-Team barely flinches, and goes about conducing the usual nWo business. What “business” consists of is of no “business” of mine; so for the sake of time we’ll assume it means Bischoff feeding Hogan grapes between hot oil massages.
We are LIVE from New Orleans! TONY SCHIAVONE and LARRY ZBYSZKO are unfortunately still our announcers.
MR. JL vs. CHAVO GUERRERO JR.
The announcers catch us up on The Giant’s mood swing. Apparently, Hogan has already backed out of his match at Souled Out for the belt. Now, in fairness to Hulk, he’s been defending that belt like a mad-man since winning it in mid-August. Already he’s given a title shot to Randy Savage, and that was just 3 months ago, give the guy a break. JL reclaims his old music, no longer sharing with Jerry Lynn or Jerry Flynn. Tony runs through tonight’s matches, and honestly, and I’ll spoil the big one: Super Calo is here. Chavo sends JL to the floor, and connects with a slingshot plancha, drawing “ECW” chants for god knows WHAT reason. Back in, Chavo heads up, but JL dropkicks him all the way to the floor, before following with a plancha OFF the top buckle – yikes! JL goes to finish, but misses a slingshot legdrop upon re-entry, and Chavo punches away. Flying jalapeno gets a really close 2; so Chavo heads upstairs. He’s crotched viciously – but I hear deflated balls give one an advantage, so expect this to be the equivalent of hulking up. Super rana gets 2. Chavo turns the tide with a butt butt, and heads upstairs to a MASSIVE pop. Moonsault scores the win at 4:16, and the fans are Loco for Loco. Did Mardi Gras start early? Chavo Mania? I’m lost. **
Larry has strategic advice for The Giant: Go see Piper and learn the sleeper. Or, you know, keep doing what’s worked for the last 2 years.
“HACKSAW” JIM DUGGAN comes out waving the Purple and Gold colors of WCW. “MEAN” GENE OKERLUND intercepts him, and he’s just proud as punch that Duggan’s “taken the bull by the horns” and is “doing something about the nWo.” He’s WHAT now? Duggan admits he’s turned his back on the USA in favor of WCW, and won’t wave Old Glory again until the nWo are gone. Also: Sting needs to Be A Man.
“HACKSAW” JIM DUGGAN vs.
Calo never even makes it to the entrance ramp before STING hits the ring and drops Duggan with the Deathdrop. Larry: “HE’S WITH THE NWO!” You could give these guys a 4-piece puzzle, and it would take them 3 or 4 months to put it together. Tony announces that the producers are desperately scrambling to find a substitute match, since Duggan’s in no shape to wrestle. Of COURSE, as he says that, Duggan pops up and starts waving the flag around, but decisions have been made and he’s been replaced.
SGT. CRAIG PITTMAN vs. CHRIS JERICHO
How does Calo get screwed over here? He didn’t do anything, he’s perfectly healthy, and his hat is firmly attached – I don’t see why he has to suffer. In fact, I don’t see why *I* have to suffer, get Pittman out of here! Tony has breaking news: The New Adventures of Robin Hood is scheduled IMMEDIATELY after Nitro. I guess that means no overrun tonight, I certainly hope the main event doesn’t run long or we’ll NEVER see it. Jericho hits a spinning heel kick, and follows with a clothesline, neither of which Pittman has any idea how to sell. Jericho starts in with shoulderblocks, and finishes with the missile dropkick at 1:05. That was the greatest Pittman match I’ve EVER seen. DUD
HIGH VOLTAGE vs. HARLEM HEAT (with Sista Sherri)
You’ll be pleased to know that D3: The Mighty Ducks is coming out on Home Video in a lovely clamshell case THIS WEEK, widely considered the pinnacle performance of the great Emilio Estevez’s career. Voltage have moved to tights that resemble a can of Monster Energy Drink, of which I approve, since the black makes it difficult to see the junk in their trunk. Alas, we aren’t given but a minute into this classic, because …
THE GIANT has rushed the nWo locker room a second time! That poor door is NOT having a good night. Once again, THE JOB SQUAD team with SECURITY to haul Giant out of here. ERIC BISCHOFF and HOLLYWOOD HOGAN share a cigar, and laugh at the notion that Giant ever thought he was getting a title shot. Bischoff: “He puts the DUH in Dumb!”
Back to the show, Booker flattens Rage with a Harlem Sidekick, and follows with the 110th street slam. A second rope kneedrop misses, and Rage is able to make the … hot tag? I guess that’s what that was. Kaos hits a butterfly suplex, but Stevie saves, and all hell breaks loose. Rage is ordered back to his corner, and a super Heat Seeker finishes at 4:06. We saw maybe 90 seconds of this, so if you want to rate it with stars, you can log on to the WWE App and cast your vote.
Tony announces that across the street at the Hyatt Regency, members of “The Executive Committee” are meeting RIGHT NOW to make a ruling on the Souled Out title match. I thought Bischoff had already been established as the highest ranking official in WCW. I don’t know who makes up the executive committee, but I’ve always assumed it’s some combination of Hank Aaron, JJ Dillon, Ted Turner, Craig Leathers, and Harvey Schiller, and they just travel from city to city making Important Decisions together.
ERIC BISCHOFF, TED DIBIASE, and VINCENT come strutting down to the announce booth, and order the guys out of there. Larry: “I won the golf tournament, I don’t care. The Executive Committee is here, and if you keep messing up you’ll be mowing Verne Gagne’s lawn again.” Is Larry on some sort of psychedelic I’m not privy to?
DIAMOND DALLAS PAGE vs. MARK STARR
Bischoff figures DDP doesn’t need an nWo shirt, because he’ll just brand him with a tattoo instead. Mark Starr being sent out to wrestle in clearly unsafe conditions with the nWo lurking is exactly the kind of thing that the workers union would have protected him from, but noooo, Mark Starr is just so much smarter than the rest of us that he decided to ride the road solo. And now look at him, lost, without purpose, and eating a Diamond Cutter with such force that he actually flies across the ring from its impact before DDP even HITS it at 0:53. I mean look at him, he’s spinning around like he’s M. Bison before DDP has even managed to hook the bloody thing.
Bischoff: “Burgers and beans are on me this weekend, just come on over and we’ll grill a few and tip a few.” Tip a few? Who TALKS like that?!? Before we can get into that, THE OUTSIDERS make their way to the ring with an nWo shirt for their good buddy. Page gives Nash a bearhug to a MONSTER pop – hah! However, as soon as he puts on the shirt, the fans start to boo, but Page is all smiles. In fact, he can’t stop shaking the hand of Scott Hall … who he pulls right into a Diamond Cutter!!! Nash doesn’t realize what’s happening until it’s too late, and charges Page. DDP dumps him over the top, and heads into the now rabid crowd to celebrate. A “DDP” chant swallows him alive, while Bischoff declares him #1 on the nWo hit list.
Wow. If there was ever a template on how to make a star, this was it. The entire Page saga over the last year has been one of the most beautifully organic wrestling stories you’ll ever see. When I started this project with January of 1996, DDP was farting around on the lower mid-tier, getting trounced regularly by the likes of the Booty Man and Johnny B Badd. Though his effort was never a question, his in-ring work was ok at best. Still, the company showed faith, and gave him a strong push beginning with the Battlebowl win in May, and slowly let him work his way up. The announcers played up the unpredictability and impact of his finisher, the Diamond Cutter, to the point the fans would start to buzz anytime they sensed its arrival. And all of this happened without Page ever ONCE stepping out of character, continuing to be the same slimeball piece of shit he’s always been. He never aligned with anyone else just because they were Bad Guys, and that included the nWo which would have made him “cooler” by association. With the added wrinkles of these being Page’s friends from yesteryear, he STILL took the road less travelled and decided to go at it alone. If it sounds familiar, it’s because Steve Austin is about to embark on the same journey (albeit, even better) – but it doesn’t make this any less special. Bravo, DDP, you have arrived.
DEAN MALENKO vs. EDDIE GUERRERO (in a non-title match)
Tony and Larry have rejoined the booth because the nWo have rushed off to deal with this DDP problem. The Executive Committee are planning a Big Announcement shortly; should they ever manage to cross the street. Guerrero tries to tie up Malenko, but he’s far too skilled in the shoot stuff and counters his way loose. Deano hits a dropkick, while the fans unite in doing Diamond Cutter signals and cheering for Page.
Hark – a decision has been made! Hogan does in fact have to face The Giant … and it’s going to happen TONIGHT. Apparently The Executive Committee are sick to death of the nWo. Well hell, what TOOK them so long?
Meanwhile, the fans have completely turned on this match with a “BORING” chant. I don’t blame them, neither one of them seems capable of emoting. Especially Eddie, whose US title was stolen out from under his nose, but any time he’s asked about it, he sounds about as frustrated as a man whose TV guide has gone missing. He’s not THRILLED, but he’ll make due with a little channel surfing. Guerrero goes for a tornado DDT, but is thrown off by Malenko. An abdominal stretch is worked by Dean, bringing the “BORING” chants back for a second round. And this is a crowd that was ready to anoint Chavo the King of New Orleans all of 40 minutes ago. All eyes turn to the entrance ramp, because SYXX has made his way up a ladder, wearing the US title. Fans try and knock him off with cups of beer, but his fall wouldn’t come until his trip to China. The guys in the ring start trading nearfalls, which absolutely no one is watching. Eddie walks the ropes, and flies off with a rana, hooking the legs for 2. An “EDDIE” chant starts now, these fans are weird. Malenko comes back with a vertical suplex for 2, and I honestly can’t believe they haven’t gone home yet. Eddie hits the brainbuster, which is the usual set up for the Frog Splash – but he sees Syxx and wants a fight. With the distraction, Malenko powerbombs Eddie off the middle rope, and scores the upset pin at 12:15. I did not care for this at all. *1/2
Hour #2 kicks off, and Larry punches his ticket back to LarryLand. MIKE TENAY and “SOBER” BOBBY HEENAN join Tony, and they’re patting themselves on the back for tonight’s main event. Are they members of the Executive Committee? Is this why they only work the second hour, they’re otherwise stuck across the street?
SUPER CALO vs. KONAN (with Jimmy Hart)
Man alive, the Executive Committee are REALLY kicking things up – justice for Calo! Now if he can reward their support by squeaking out a win tonight, I’d be thrilled. Not just for him, but for everyone who’s sick of the Hulk Hogan of Mexico. Calo starts with a springboard armdrag, and then follows with several more armdrag variations. This guy is to armdrags what Dave Taylor is to European uppercuts. It’s amazing Konan still has use of his sockets to this very day. Konan hits the floor (following an armdrag), and Calo is right behind with a somersault senton! Back in, he drops a pair of People’s Elbows, but somehow Konan kicks out. I don’t understand. In fact, he not only kicks out, he pops up with a tumbleweed clothesline and the fans pop huge. Who ARE these people? A nasty looking powerbomb sets up another nasty looking powerbomb, and Konan heads up. Calo quickly realizes the Hulk Hogan of Anywhere would never go up top, and nails him with a super headscissors for 2. Konan comes right back with Montezuma’s Revenge, which is pretty much death to poor luchadores everywhere, and this baby’s over at 2:57. Calo fought the good fight, and came away with at least one victory; his hat never once left his head. *1/2
CHRIS BENOIT (with Woman) vs. JEFF JARRETT
Woman’s sporting a lovely black cocktail dress, and a pearl necklace so long it would take the entire male conglomerate at the AVN awards to match its ferocity. Tony points out that tonight’s match between Hogan and the Giant will be non-title, because you need to give the champion 24
months hours notice. Tony says he doesn’t care if the title’s up anyway, he just wants to see Giant get his hands on Hogan. THIS ATTITUDE IS THE PROBLEM. Jarrett draws ridiculous amounts of heat, with the entire arena erupting in unison to let us know that “JARRETT SUCKS”. Before anything of note happens, ARN ANDERSON, MONGO MCMICHAEL, DEBRA MCMICHAEL, and HALIBURTON MCMICHAEL make their way to ringside. If this leads to Arn Anderson putting Jarrett through the ring with a DDT, I’m perfectly okay with this distraction. Jarrett hits a swinging neckbreaker in front of Woman, and heads for the Figure Four, but Arn jumps on the apron to cause a distraction. It’s enough to let Benoit up, and he starts to pound the crap out of Jarrett while the referee chats with Arn about local draught beer options. Mongo holds Jarrett hostage and reaches for the Haliburton, but Debra yanks it away. This leads to a tug of war, won by Mongo quickly, but as he swings back he nails Chris by mistake! That … probably isn’t going to help things. Jarrett scores the pin at 2:33, as Debra grins like a Cheshire cat. Arn and Mongo scream at each other, and the fans eat this up by chanting “DDP!”
“MEAN” GENE OKERLUND hits the scene to stir up MORE problems, but Benoit doesn’t really let him talk because he wants to work this out tonight. He tells Mongo that if he wants to remain a Horseman, he’d best stop fumbling the ball. He doesn’t particularly care what Debra has to say about anything, but he recommends she stop talking about Woman. “She’s 100% woman head to toe, and I speak from experience. There’s no plastic, zero silicone, she’s ALLLLLL Woman.” Mongo apologizes for walloping Benoit, and reminds him that they’ve won a lot of matches together thanks to that Haliburton. Benoit demands to know where the hell Flair is. Arn figures Ric is tired of the infighting and is staying away. Benoit sends a warning to the McMichaels: Shape up, or ship out. Mongo takes it well, by immediately challenging Benoit to fight. Arn keeps them apart, and everyone heads back to the locker room frustrated.
BILLY KIDMAN vs. SCOTTY RIGGS
Poor Riggs, completely directionless and heartbroken. In fact, he spends his entire entrance letting us all know how over Bagwell he is, while still using Their Song. He still claps, but now he claps alone, and I can’t believe nobody ever wrote a top 40 ballad about this. Of course, MARCUS BAGWELL makes things a million times worse by showing up at the top of the ramp, looking great and far too happy. Why does he have to be so happy? Is Riggs the only one hurting here? It’s not fair. In fact, he pretty much lays down to die, and Kidman heads up – barely missing a Firebird splash (Tenay in a rare gaffe calls it a Shooting Star Press – come on Tenay, you’re better than that!). Riggs forces himself to roll
out of bed over, picks himself up, and nails Kidman with the Fisherman’s buster, which is Bagwell’s move! What’s next, he’s going to start letting just anyone wear his old shirts? It gets the win at 2:15 because apparently Kidman’s so awful he can’t even beat an emotionally dead Riggs. Riggs points at Bagwell, who responds by showing off his new tight six-pack. Why didn’t he put that kind of effort into his physique when they were together? DUD
LEX LUGER vs. RICK FULLER
This is Fuller’s WCW debut, and if you don’t know who Rick Fuller is, then you simply don’t know your awful late 90’s video games. He was amongst the ridiculous roster options in WCW Mayhem, along with Bobby Blaze, Doug Dillinger, Lizmark Jr., Lash LeRoux, Bobby Duncum Jr., and Prince Iaukea. Granted, that’s about ALL I know about Rick Fuller, seeing as how nobody in history ever USED the character. In fact, I’m not even sure it would have worked if you’d have clicked on him, or if the game would have immediately shut down out of AI confusion. Showing off incredible skill, he and Luger get into a shoving match. Fuller hits a running clothesline, and drops a leg with some good energy. Some pretty strong chops are delivered, and I think I’m all aboard Team Fuller. This guy might be the Luke Harper of WCW; the unexpectedly awesome big guy. The crowd just gets ridiculously hot now, the loudest they’ve been all night, willing Luger back into it. By the time he starts his running clotheslines, they’ve reached deafening levels of noise, and the Torture Rack is so damn exciting that even referee MARK CURTIS jumps 8 feet in the air as he rings the bell at 2:57. If DDP and Luger wrestled as a tag-team tonight, I think the fans would spontaneously combust. *
As Luger heads to the back, THE GIANT approaches him on the ramp. These guys fought at Starrcade just 2 weeks ago, and the tension between them is clear. As they stare eachother down, I’m caught by Rick Fuller walking behind them, shaking his head in disgust at his loss. Put the US title on that guy NOW.
Neither guy comes to blows, and Giant continues to the ring where “MEAN” GENE OKERLUND has already appeared. Where the hell did he come from? Does he just morph from place to place? Giant is pleased to have WCW’s support, and he wants to bring the title back. He vows to never be a bookend for anyone again (what?), because he’s read all the books (…what?!?), and tonight he turns the chapter on the nWo. I’m not sure what he was trying to tell us at all, but he seemed pretty fired up and I’m not about to ask him.
ARN ANDERSON vs. RICK STEINER (with Scott Steiner)
So apparently Rick Steiner is an actual dog now.
I’m thinking Sting dropped Rick on his head a little harder than usual. Arn tosses Rick across the ring and does jumping jacks, while Rick howls at the moon. Anderson charges, but walks right into a belly to belly overhead suplex. Frustrated, he hits the floor and calls out the Horsemen, but they no-show. Tony tells us that because we HAVE to see the New Adventures of Robin Hood, if the Hogan vs Giant match runs long, they’ll keep us updated during the commercial breaks. What if it ends during one of the segments of the show? I’ll be really disappointed if we cut in, and we’re forced to watch a dark match between Kevin Sullivan and Chip Minton. Arn winds up walking up the aisle looking for the Horsemen, and with the boys failing to have his back, he says screw it and walks out at 3:14. DUD
“MEAN” GENE OKERLUND brings up the Steiners impending tag-team title shot at Souled Out. Scotty says if the nWo thinks he’s still hurt they’ve made a mistake. “Scott Hall! I’ll put my fist down your throat and rip out your throat and make a Belieber out of you!” Justin Bieber is Scott Steiner’s fault?
HOLLYWOOD HOGAN (with the entire nWo) vs. THE GIANT (in a non-title match)
With only 5 minutes left in the show, Hogan takes just about all of them to do his ring entrance. Tony says “The New Adventures of Robin Hood” about 300 times, so even though every other match ended in less than 3 minutes tonight and if they got their asses in gear they might be able to fit this in, it’s clear we’re going to be forced to watch Robin Hood. And just in case you had a glimmer of hope, Hogan decides to cut a promo with what’s left of the show. He gloats about using The Giant as a friend, and has no interest in wrestling tonight. Giant grabs him with one hand from over the top rope, and yanks him in. Hogan begs for his life, but Giant ain’t having it, slamming the Hulkster from buckle to buckle. Hogan tries to walk out, but Giant rushes after him and puts him back in the ring. And we’re out of time!
Amazingly, the match is still going during a commercial break, which puts this around the 25 minute mark. Neither guy has broken a sweat – what incredible athletes! Hogan goes low, but Giant doesn’t even react. Deflated balls? They ARE advantageous! Giant grabs Hogan’s bandana and shoves it down Hogan’s throat – but unfortunately we are once again out of time! Darn, I’m certain we’re going to miss the ending now.
NO – the match continues! WOW! The Giant still seems to have all the energy in the world, he must be flying on crazy amount of hate and adrenaline! He goes for the Chokeslam, and no matter what Hogan does, he can’t escape. The entire nWo has had enough and attacks, putting to bed a gruelling match at around 46:28. The Giant manages to take out the entire nWo all by himself, punching them out one by one, while Hogan screams he quits! After that 45 minute assault, he might never be seen again!
Wow, what an ending to Nitro – worth EVERY second of Robin Hood. Fans no doubt loved this, and I encourage WCW to do this more regularly with other fantastic TNT programming.
Truth be told, this was the best Nitro in ages, even if the matches stunk. The crowd was red hot, DDP was made, and Rick Fuller made the leap from jobber to a special place in my heart. I don’t care what the WWF airs in retaliation, nothing is topping that debut.