Previously on the Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro: NFL legend Reggie White showed up in the crowd and challenged Steve ‘Mongo’ McMichael to a match at Slamboree. NFL legend Kevin Greene will be teaming with Rowdy Roddy Piper and Ric Flair against three members of the nWo at Slamboree. NFL legend Dan Marino is taking on Dean Malenko for the United States Championship at Slamboree. Amazingly, two of those sentences are true.
Remember, if you want us to keep writing 20-year-old WCW jokes, click the share buttons and spread the column around. Things have officially gone crazy in 1990s professional wrestling, and we want to write about it at least until NFL legend Bernie Kosar shows up and gets punched in the face by Hacksaw Jim Duggan’s dick-tape.
And now, the Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro for April 21, 1997.
Best: Hollywood Hogan Plays A Genie In Hazaam, A Movie That Definitely Existed
The most important thing you need to know about this week’s episode is that Hollywood Hogan isn’t here, because he’s off filming his new movie, McCinsey’s Island. Despite the fact that the last like month of WCW programming has been built around Kevin Nash’s growing frustrations at Hogan honoring movie obligations instead of coming to Nitros and doing wrestling stuff, everyone seems cool with him bailing for this.
If you don’t remember McCinsey’s Island, don’t worry, I doubt even Hogan does. I certainly didn’t. Here’s the dense plot description from the IMDB:
A former secret agent finds a treasure map and decides to find the loot. But he is not the only one.
Sounds complicated! But yeah, the movie stars Hollywood Hogan, Grace Jones (the only woman cool enough to bridge the gap between David Bowie and Pee-wee Herman) and Robert Vaughn, star of the 1960s series The Man from U.N.C.L.E.. Also, a talking parrot. Hogan shows the producer and director in nWo shirts doing 4 Life™ hand gestures and promotes this as the first-ever nWo movie, written, directed and starring nWo members.
Think about the nWo. Think about everything you know about them, and the vibe they try to give off, and what they stand for. Now watch this trailer for a movie by the nWo.
Obviously Grace Jones is in the nWo, because Hollywood Hogan is focusing on recruiting as many tall, lanky, non-wrestling black celebrities from the ’90s as possible, but you’ll be happy to know ROBERT VAUGHN has also joined the band. Here he is wearing an nWo shirt over a dress shirt, commenting that he’ll make the squad “implacable and the tops.”
Sadly, Vaughn stopped being nWo in November of last year. But at least the legacy of McCinsey’s Island lives on! “Let’s have lunch!”
Best: Blue Justice
Want to know how old these episodes of Nitro are? Dean Malenko opens this week’s show against the “youngster from New Japan Pro Wrestling,” Yuji Nagata. I know, right?
So yeah, Yuji Nagata makes his WCW Monday Nitro debut looking like a rubber mat in the floorboard of Chono’s car while Larry Zbyszko insists that literally every Asian human is raised to be a martial arts master. The match is a lot of fun aside from a horribly missed enzuigiri, and makes me wish there was a 22-minute New Japan version. Saginaw, Michigan, is SUPER INTO IT, by the way. They’re booing the hell out of Nagata for being Japanese the second he steps out, the “USA” chants are massive, and Malenko is getting Sting dropping down from the rafters pops for locking in the Texas Cloverleaf. They appear to have told Nagata to just go out there and be Chono, but it works, and his belly-to-belly suplexes are Jason Jordan-esque.
Be sure to check out the 7:19 mark of the following video, in which Malenko cements himself as the dopest boring wrestler in history with an elbow drop to the BACK OF THE LEG. Love it.
If you aren’t familiar with his carer, Nagata would go on to become a 2-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion, a 2-time IWGP Tag Team Champion, a G1 Climax winner, a GHC Heavyweight Champion, a GHC Tag Team Champion, one of the best and most popular fighters in the history of Japanese professional wrestling, and probably the worst MMA fighter this side of Bucky Boyd.
Worst: Good Idea, Guys
Another major plot point of this episode is that WCW has named a new head of its executive committee, James J. Dillon. Yes, that J.J. Dillon, the guy who managed the most elite evil heel team of the 1980s, wore women’s underwear under his business suits and once orchestrated a cowboy bullrope fight that got him shirtlessly bludgeoned with a cowbell. WCW’s like, “we need to save our company from guys who get a little power and go rogue on us. How about the guy that managed the goddamn Four Horsemen?”
Maybe it’s a, “we need someone corrupt and evil to understand corruption and evil” situation. Or maybe it’s like a Trump cabinet appointment, and they named him head of the executive committee because they wanted to shut it down and privatize it.
Best: Glacier Vs. Ciclope
Pay no attention to these weird eye-holes on my cheeks! I’ve only got the one!
The next match is Glacier vs. Ciclope, and I feel like I need to break it down in two different ways.
The Lucha Underground Explanation: In this match, a Georgia gym teacher who traveled to the Mystical Orient to learn ice-themed martial arts and fused them with pro wrestling takes on a MEXICAN CYCLOPS. It ends quickly, though, because the ice ninja has played The Legend of Zelda before and knows that if a monster’s got a big eyeball, you hit them in the eyeball.
Earlier in the week on WCW Saturday Night, sinister minister and ancient artifact collector James Vandenberg tried to steal Glacier’s ceremonial helmet, which was given to him by his Shidoshi. It didn’t work, so Vandenberg uses a multi-pronged distraction of his irradiated skeleton henchman and the giant karate knight (?) in his employ to get the jump on Glacier and incapacitate him. Once the helmet is in their possession, they realize it’s not the only artifact they want … they want Glacier’s MYSTIC ICE EYE, which may or may not be fake and may or may not be the source of his powers. They beat the holy hell out of him and try to DIG THE EYEBALL OUT OF HIS FACE USING THE HELMET. LIKE A DAMN ICE CREAM SCOOP.
The WCW Explanation: A gym teacher who doesn’t actually know karate and doesn’t know how to wrestle kicks a poor luchador in the face for real, then gets jumped by some guys in Halloween costumes who think the best way to stab somebody in the eye is with a curved edge. Also, Glacier dyed his hair blonder now and looks like Sub-Zero fucked Colonel Guile.
Either way, shout-out to these superkicks. They’re really leaning into these things. I’d take a hundred loosey-goosey Young Bucks kicks before I’d take one of these.
LOL What: Lord Steven Regal Had Sex With Fergie
Mean Gene Okerlund interviews Lord Steven Regal and shades Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, for doing tomato juice commercials. He shares the gossip that Regal and Fergie have been hooking up, because they’re both English I guess and there are only like 15 people in England, and Regal says it was “like spending the night with a ripped out bloody fireplace.” I had no idea what he was even trying to say there, and then I realized it was an extremely British “throwing a hot dog down a hallway” joke and made Jim Halpert face at the imaginary camera crew in my home.
Regal faces Ultimo Dragon at Slamboree, so he calls American fans xenophobic for booing him because he’s British, as he’s casually dropping Pearl Harbor references about how we “don’t have much luck with the Japanese,” how our flag should be a white cross on a white background because we’re cowards, and how he’s going to beat that “pathetic awful Japanese whatever he is.” Bill Regal’s on screen for like two minutes and is the most metal part of the show.
Best: FALCON KICK
Speaking of the Japanese and shit that looks like Colonel Guile, here’s Sonny Onoo taking out Beautiful Bobby Eaton with a JCVD Hard Target-quality flying kick.
At this point Bobby Eaton’s so hopeless I wouldn’t put money on him going one on one with Onoo, much less with Ultimo Dragon. Even in 1997 Bobby kinda came across like a guy who’d wandered out of a hospice and ended up on a wrestling show because all he was wearing was purple leggings.
The nWo Is SHOOTING, Brother, Lightning Round
So much shooting in this episode. Oh lord.
Up first we have WCW senior official turned ski mask referee at a fat biker mom beauty pageant Nick Patrick, who following the events of Spring Stampede has put back on a WCW polo and would like to be reinstated. His major argument is that the nWo isn’t what it used to be, thanks to them catering to people like the Macho Man Randy Savage, who Patrick had long-standing beef with. Way back in October, Savage attacked Patrick and Patrick tried to get him fined a MILLION DOLLARS.
Patrick also says that he’s been beaten up by everybody and chokeslammed by the Giant and jack-knived by Kevin Nash and he’s still coming to work, which as far as referees go is … well, it’s a pretty good argument.
Formulating less of an argument is Eric Bischoff, who is suddenly desperately trying to get “bite me” over as a catchphrase. It’s like the powers that be knew they needed some kind of signature insult to add to the wrestling lexicon and “suck it” hadn’t really become a thing yet, so they tried bite me. It’s like that weird period where Shawn Michaels had started doing Sweet Chin Music but hadn’t figured out he should do a big taunt before it, so he just stood in the corner. But with WORDS.
J.J. Dillon has some good news and some bad news. The good news is that Eric Bischoff no longer has any actual power as a WCW executive, and some of his late-era moves like coercing Big Bubber and M. “V.K.” Wallstreet to nWo contracts are invalid. They’ll have to become WCW employees again. HOORAY WE GET MIKE ROTUNDA BACK, THE TIDE IS FINALLY STARTING TO CHANGE, RIGHT GUYS. The bad news is that Bischoff has a Big Show-style “ironclad contract,” and when you sign a contract on IRON it is FOREVER and NOTHING CAN ALTER IT. So Bischoff and the earlier nWo jazz is still here and isn’t going anywhere, and the nWo reserves the rights to their vague “challenge for WCW titles at any time” thing from winning at Uncensored.
Bischoff’s response? “Bite me!” I wish he’d accompanied it with little hand chops toward his mouth.
The shootiest shoot of the week comes from Syxx and Kevin Nash, possibly caused by an underlying, passive-aggressive rage from finding out about McCinsey’s Island. Syxx starts off a promo by running down Ric Flair, asking how a guy can stand for honoring the traditions of pro wrestling when he ripped off the name, look and signature holds of Buddy Rogers. He calls Flair a biter, which is supported by the whole “Rambling” Ricky Rhodes part of the Flair origin story, and he’s got a damn point.
Nash follows that up with an intense, amazing, crowd-turning speech about how guys like Piper and Flair “layed the asphalt” for the roads for the next generation of wrestlers, but also filled it with potholes because they’re selfish, in it for themselves and not intending to actually leave anything for anyone else. He also points out that WCW had Hall and Nash when they were younger, and how Hall was ready to be a superstar and got ignored due to nepotism and general Old Man Stink, so they went to New York and found out the business had been strip-mined by the old-timers. It’s true, engaging, passionate, and retroactively hilarious due to Nash’s politicking and his transformation into the very definition of taking spots and holding dudes down.
I think that’s all the SHOOTING this week.
Worst: Too Legit To Stop Shooting
Oh wait, I forgot about Satanic George Costanza.
Meng gets a match with Chris Jericho and no-sells everything, because he’s being “let loose” by the Dungeon of Doom. That’s code for, “we need to build Meng up as unstoppable for a few months so someone can look slightly more impressive beating him, please pay no attention to the other 9-10 months this year when dude loses to Public Enemy or whatever.” Afterwards, Mean Gene is trying to talk to Jimmy Hart when Sullivan (SULLIVAN!) interrupts, telling Jimmy to stop doing a “wrestling interview.” This turns into a shoot on his … daughter? He hates his daughter. He also wants Meng to put him in the Tongan Death Grip so he can feel it, and when Meng agrees, Jackie steps between them and tells Meng he’d better not do that to her man! Kevin Sullivan promos are like Nitro quarter-hours directed by Neil Breen.
Worst: How Short Are These Matches
There’s a LOT of talking on this episode, so matches like Glacier vs. Ciclope get about 45 seconds. Diamond Dallas Page doesn’t get much more than that to fight his disruptive luchador son Psicosis. Like a minute into the match Page trips Psico up on the ropes and Diamond Cutters him off of them for the win. Which is a bummer, because seven minutes of DDP vs. Psicosis would probably RULE.
After the match, Macho Man shows up in the crowd on crutches again and does the “Kimberly knows what sex with me is like because I DEFINITELY had sex with her” bit. Page is used to it now, and tells Savage to get in the ring. Elizabeth won’t let him, so Savage leaves, presumably to come up with 5-10 new ways to say he slept with a gemologist’s wife.
Best: Zamboni Alley
I’m extremely disappointed that there wasn’t a 2008 WWE ECW star named ZAMBONI ALLEY.
Anyway, the Steiner Brothers get jumped in Zamboni Alley by the Dungeon of Doom before a match with Public Enemy. I’m guessing because we just watched TPE spend two weeks struggling to beat the High Voltage, so you need to run over each Steiner brother with a car if you want to make the match a fair fight.
The match never really gets going, because they’re just going through the motions waiting for the Dungeon to run back out and interfere. This happens, and the Steiners and Public Enemy team up to fight them off. It’s a waste of time, but at least it’s easy to follow.
Worst: As The Haliburton Turns
Last week we found out that then-Green Bay Packers star Reggie White, the Digevolved version of D-Von Dudley, had signed with WCW to face Steve ‘Mongo’ McMichael at WCW Slam Jamboree because they’re both football guys. Mongo and Kevin Greene already had an established feud based on one turning on the other to join the Four Horsemen, but literally everyone in the world forgot that (for now) and Greene’s hanging out with Flair, so Mongo’s gotta Football Guys with SOMEBODY. This week, Reggie’s in the crowd again, presumably because he heard Yuji Nagata was going to work and he’s a huge New Japan mark.
Jeff Jarrett takes on Scotty Riggs, who is still using the American Males entrance theme and dressing like one of the American Males despite that ship sailing months and months ago. The highlight is the Nitro debut of THE STROKE, Jarrett’s forward Russian leg sweep that’d eventually win him four WCW World Heavyweight Championships.
Man, poor Jarrett was always such a try-hard and all he needed to do to go from mid-carder to champion was cut his hair and think of a funny thing to call people.
The Stroke isn’t a finish yet, so Jarrett struggles against Riggs. Debra even tries to cheat for him, but he’s in trouble. That brings out Mongo with the Haliburton, because of course it does, which causes Reggie White to hop the rail, steal the briefcase and reveal that he’s wearing the amazing Stevie Ray BOXING leather jacket but FOR CHRIST.
With Mongo chased off and the Haliburton finally in the hands of a non-Horseman, Riggs is able to … lose cleanly to Jarrett. Oh. Sure, okay, that’s fine too.
Best: A Glimpse Into Rey Mysterio’s Future
WCW Rey Mysterio Jr. is often defined by how he was when he first got there. 1996 Mysterio matches are built around him doing a couple of exciting things, getting the dog shit beaten out of him for like 10-15 minutes, then doing one or two more exciting things and taking it home in either direction. WWE Rey Mysterio was built around preserving what little working body the guy had left, slowing down, and pacing out his matches to tell better stories. So the WCW stuff you think of when you think of WCW Mysterio stuff is more exciting, but the WWE stuff is structurally better and allowed for a longer career.
This match against Syxx for the Cruiserweight Championship is an anomaly, because it’s Mysterio finally facing a WWF-style heel who can control the pace of the match to make him look great, DURING the prime of Mysterio’s career when he could do literally anything. It’s a slower pace than usual for Rey but actually more exciting, because it’s not Malenko dragging him to the ground and jamming an elbow into his armpit for 10 minutes. And I LOVE that. A really surprisingly dope match, and I wish there was a bigger, longer, fancier version of it somewhere.
Unfortunately, we get another glimpse into Mysterio’s future for the ending, with Kevin Nash interfering due to Randy Anderson’s INSANE incompetence and total lack of ears or peripheral vision. Mysterio gets REKT on a jackknife and loses the match via Buzzkiller-into-unconsciousness. Syxx continues the attack after the match until J.J. Dillon shows up with Doug Dellinger and the Denim Security Taskforce to enforce a little law and order. Mysterio gets stretchered out, Syxx fights a security guard, and the nWo look young and energetic and hungry as hell.
Also, Robert Vaughn is in the group.
Worst: No Seriously, Pave Over Them
The final segment of the show is a rushed promo wherein Ric Flair, dressed like Cliff Huxtable, lies down in a wet spot and tells the nWo to come down to the ring and “pave the road” over him. Piper and Kevin Greene do the same thing, with Greene raising his head a little and watching Flair for cues the whole time because he’s seriously Dug from Up as a human being.
The nWo shows up to do some huddle-threatening, and we get the surprise return of Scott Hall, formally setting up the team of Hall/Nash/Syxx for Slamming Jamboree.
The Grumpy Old Sex Men and their lovable talking bear companion manage to fight off the nWo B-team, and just as the melee fully breaks out, aw nuts fans we’ve gotta go. The show goes off the air with arguably the first actually exciting thing of the entire episode, and we’ll have to find out what happened next week, when the show is only an hour long because it’s the pre-show for the NBA playoffs.
Spoiler alert: the Bulls win.