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Ring Crew Reviews: WCW Road Wild 1997

May 23, 2015 | Posted by Jack Bramma
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Ring Crew Reviews: WCW Road Wild 1997  

• Follow me on Twitter – @RingCrewReviews

• I’m working my way through most of WCW’s 1997 shows, so here is the background to fill you in:

WCW Superbrawl VII

WCW Uncensored 1997

WCW Slamboree 1997

WCW Great American Bash 1997

WCW Bash at the Beach 1997

• In case, you’re more of a themed PPV reader, here is my only review of another Road Wild show

WCW Road Wild 1999

Scheduled Card:
1. Vicious & Delicious vs. The Harlem Heat
2. Konnan vs. Rey Mysterio, Jr.
3. Tag Team Elimination Match: Chris Benoit & Mongo McMichael vs. Jeff Jarrett & Dean Malenko.
4. WCW Cruiserweight Championship: Chris Jericho vs. Alex Wright (c).
5. Ric Flair vs. Syxx.
6. Curt Hennig vs. Diamond Dallas Page.
7. The Giant vs. Macho Man Randy Savage.
8. WCW World Tag Team Championship: The Steiners vs. The Outsiders (c).
9. WCW World Heavyweight Championship: Hollywood Hogan vs. Lex Luger (c).

• EVERYTHING IS RUMBLIN’ AT WCW ROAD WILD! The video package informs us that the n.W.o has been spreading propaganda, but everything is crumbling all around them now that Luger beat Hogan for the belt 6 days ago. Rematch time tonight. In terms of production quality, every clip transitions to the next with the aid of tire air gun sound FX because NASCAR = Sturgis bike rally?! Not interested in Hogan possibly regaining the gold? Tough break because the vignette mentions no other matches.

• Immediately, Tony puts down the glue to speculate that the crowd today could be upwards of 300,000 given the number of bikers in the city for the rally. Tony also says tonight could be the end for the n.W.o if Luger hangs on to the belt… and if the Steiners can win the tag titles… and if Ric Flair can win; AND if the Giant can win; if Harlem Heat can win; if Rey Mysterio can win. If those 6 things happen, the n.W.o MIGHT be done for good, so stay tuned. Finally, we got a shot of the boys, and their attire is always good for a laugh.

• Brain chimes in to put over the “jam-packed, capacity crowd” that apparently fills up the entire outdoors of the Black Hills of South Dakota. Never one to be out-botched, Dust takes over to wax poetic and mix metaphors about doors of opportunity on mountains of “unsurmountable” odds. High times in Sturgis.

Vicious & Delicious vs. The Harlem Heat. VD are Buff and Flapjack Norton. For the first half of 97, Buff was working a healthy scratch gimmick only wrestling 5 matches in as many months, so he dropped that for a team with Flapjack. They settled into 50/50 free TV booking losing to Luger and Giant but going over the clashing Horsemen team of Mongo and Jarrett. They got past the Steiners but lost to Hennig and Flair just 13 days prior. HH, on the other hand, have been reeling since losing a title shot opportunity to the Steiners, taking off BATB, and jobbing to Public Enemy a few times.

• Dust sidesteps talking about this match to speculate about Luger’s training regime and interview schedule this week, while Stevie Ray almost trips down the dirt mound entrance. Tony gets back on topic to mention that on WCW Saturday Night, the HH said they have a surprise in store tonight.

We’ve got the Road Wild decal in the ring which might be the PPV debut for that little touch. Crowd opens up with a mild HH chant at the bell. Buff and Book to start. Book goes to a knee and a hammerlock. Buff counters, and they fight over a bearhug/waistlock. Buff ducks a high kick and hiptosses him down. Buff with another and a few dropkicks and he’s cooking. Buff getting a face shine is a bit strange. Flapjack tags in but whiffs on a charge and gets spinkicked back into the corner. Stevie in with some karate shit that Norton no sells for a sideslam. The crowd doesn’t really care about the VD, but it’s heel-heel or heel-jobbers and someone’s gotta be face. Book with a cheap shot behind the ref’s back, and Stevie poses to a mixed reaction. Stevie hits a slam WITH MODERATE DIFFICULTY! He talks some trash and brings in Book who counters a suplex into a vertical suplex of his own. Burrito gets 1, 2, broken up by Buff. Dust drifts off-topic again to talk about the WCW “compound” and how there is a lot of tension about whether or not WCW will drive a stake through the heart of the vamping n.W.o. Book tries a spinkick again, but Norton counters to a half powerbomb. Microwave tag to Buff and he hits a few rights before crashing back to Earth literally as Stevie lowers the bridge to shitcan him to ringside. Stevie tosses him into the stairs and bowls over him with a shoulderblock back in. Cover gets 1, 2, no. CHINLOCK TIME! C’MONBABY! Book in for an Ax Kick for 1, 2, 2 1/2.

• Tony openly shits on both teams’ lack of cardiovascular prowess but catches himself and covers adequately. Tony: “If it comes down to wearing somebody down, I’m not so sure either team would have the advantage… the longer the match goes…. Both teams–all 4 men–are in superb condition and they can go a long, long time, so it may go down to who makes a mistake here…AND, that’s what they don’t want to do.” This action and commentary is so invigorating the monkeys in the trunk switch to an epileptic helicopter shot. Dust: “The wind blowing a LIL’ BIT! AINTIT?!” ANYWAY, Buff escapes the chinlock and gets the boot up in the corner. Lefty LARIATO flips Book. Stevie in with a Batista kick on Buff and a brainbuster, more from botching a hanging vertical suplex than anything. Cover gets 1, 2, nearfall. BUT WAIT! JACQUELINE HAS COME OUT! SHE’S DRESSED IN RED, TOO! According to Dust, that means she’s likely with HH. See, HH split with Sherri back in July, and Jacqueline split with Kevin Sullivan after his retirement match at BATB, so it fits. ANYWAY, Book uses all of the emotion and momentum of their surprise, Jacqueline, to lock in another chinlock. Buff has had enough and lands on his feet out of a powerbomb to counter to his own powerbomb on Book to a lukewarm reception. Hot tag to Flapjack and no one gives a damn. He nails a few slow clotheslines. Norton with a Ho Train, but Stevie breaks up the cover. Vincent distracts, and Buff shitcans out Stevie as the match breaks down. Norton hits a shoulderbreaker on Book. Jackie grabs Norton from behind which fires up Book’s recuperative powers as he completely no sells the shoulderbreaker to hit a pair of Harlem Sidekicks. Jacqueline holds down Norton’s leg and Book covers for 1, 2, 3 to take it at 10:19. Tony is overcome with emotion at the heels taking it: “1 WCW 0 NWO!” REV THE BIKES, TONY!

• A slow and unenthusiastic chore. This is the generic “let’s go out there and take it easy and take it home” day at the office from guys who have had a cup of coffee in the big leagues that will main event 1000 local indy shows across the country this year. The crowd cared about one team, and the match tried forcing them heel to negate any voluntary crowd interaction. They couldn’t even muster a few half-hearted bike revs for the B-Team. And Jacqueline’s “debut” as a surprise came off sloppy as well. Not one person involved in any of this appeared to give a shit. *1/2

• Meanwhile, The Steiners and Ted Dibiase are in the back (i. e., in the middle of a dirt field) at the WCW Internet Position.

Konnan vs. Rey Mysterio, Jr. Tony labels this an “Mexican grudge death match”, whatever the hell that is. Tenay joins the booth to try and bring some verisimilitude to the proceedings and adds in the the stip means No DQ. Konnan was in the DOD until May when he and Hugh couldn’t get over the hump against The Steiners, so Konnan turned on Hugh. They would blow that feud off at GAB in one of the worst matches in recorded history. Rey was last on PPV in May at Slamboree, so he’s fresh at least. He last worked Nitro in June where he was squashed by Nash and then Konnan broke his leg with the Tequila Sunrise. A few weeks later and another broken leg for Joe Gomez and Konnan had joined the boys in black.

• The boys can’t get on the same page about Rey’s condition. On Nitro, Rey had crutches but then beat down Konnan with the crutches and ran to the back. Tony says that Rey fooled Konnan. Tenay sees that and raises him that all day in the back, Rey was walking gingerly and favoring the leg. Brain calls by mentioning that his peg leg was gone on Monday after Konnan appeared. Dusty takes the pot: “I don’t think his knee is 100%, but I can tell you what is: his heart.” Thanks for that. ANYWAY, TO THE MATCH!

• Rey, sans brace I might add, uses the speed at the bell and flips to the apron to land a springboard dropkick on Konnan to start. Rey tries up and over and catches Konnan with a headscissors out of the corner. Konnan comes back and alley oops him into the turnbuckle and takes him down with a LARIATO. Konnan stomps away and hits the rolling clothesline. ORALE! Yeah, not so much as this isn’t 98 yet and he’s not in the Wolfpac. Konnan goes to the Indian Deathlock and smacks around Rey. Konnan uses the ropes for leverage, and the referee nicely lets it go as it’s NO DQ! Konnan releases, and Rey rolls to the floor to recover. Rey sells the leg on the floor. He flips back in with a rana and tries a leap frog but THE KNEE GIVES OUT! [email protected]! Konnan clips the knee and NOW WE GO TO SCHOOL, PRE-LAX STYLE! He wraps the leg in the ropes and switches to the shittiest half crab, leg grapevine known to man. Finally, Konnan takes a hint and releases the atrocity. Konnan sets Rey up in the corner and continues booting and pulling on the knee effectively. Rey gets a hope spot with a desperation clothesline, but the knee is too damaged for him to capitalize, as Tenay recounts the parliamentary procedure and politics of the lucha libre faction in WCW and how Konnan pissed them all off joining the n.W.o. Konnan with a leg drop on the bad knee into another leg grapevine in a nice spot.

• Rey is out of answers and tries a BLATANTEYEPOKE, but Konnan no sells to go after the mask. Brain: “HERE WE GO! NOW, I’M GOING TO SEE WHAT THIS JOKER LOOKS LIKE!” Konnan stays on Rey with a powerbomb and goes right back to the mask. Konnan tries to get heat from the crowd and instead the gringos love it and REV THE BIKES, TONY! Surprisingly, Konnan gets the mask all the way off, but Mysterio covers his face and boots Konnan away to put it back on. Rey with a pitiful dropkick and a few leg drops. He tries a double jump Arabian press but overshoots and botches; still, he sells the leg on impact to nicely cover. Konnan dropkicks the leg, and Rey can’t even stand. Konnan locks in a Stump Puller for a few beats before releasing to taunt for the crowd. Rey is getting completely pulverized and is selling solidly and it’s damned fine work. Mickey Jay confers with Rey and says the match must continue. Rey tries a wheelbarrow armdrag, but they botch the follow-up so Konnan spikes him with a belly to belly throw. Rey tries to steal in with a roll up for 1, 2, 2.99. Rey with a few dropkicks to Konnan’s knee and heads up top. He sells the leg the whole way. Dust: “I had an old coach tell me one time, ‘You can rest tomorrow.'” Thanks for that. ANYWAY, Rey with a dive but Konnan catches him and drops him with a SNAP FISHERMAN BUSTER! Konnan rolls him over for the academic submission with the Tequila Sunrise at 10:55.

• A tad sloppy here and there, and much more grounded in comparison to the typical WCW cruiserweight (and Konnan) matches, but still a really solid match. As usual for Rey Rey in 95-97, he was destroyed the whole match and had to use springboards and dives to even have a chance. The difference was the added layer of psychology in the story with Rey coming in with a knee injury but trying to conceal how hurt he still was, Konnan working the leg the whole match, and Konnan outlasting Mysterio’s perseverance and winning out in the end. A good sell on commentary helped as well. ***1/4

• Post-match, Konnan holds on to the hold well past the bell, but the bikers are restless and rev the bikes to gong show the luchas off the show.

• Gene is up next for the hotline shill. He shows off his new ink commemorating Road Wild 97; it’s a dagger with 3 roses in case you’re into that sort of thing. Then, he segues into hyping the gossip you can cough up $1.99/minute to hear. There are two new managers in WCW – 1 is a former champ from some organization at some point in time in the near so recent, possibly not too distant past and the other is some individual who… nothing. Gene lost the gift of gab before our very eyes. Musta been the tattoo.

Tag Team Elimination Match: Chris Benoit & Mongo McMichael vs. Jeff Jarrett & Dean Malenko. This match is almost entirely an outgrowth of the Mongo/Jarrett feud over a Horseman spot and Debra’s managerial services. Back at Slamboree in May, Jarrett was going for the US strap against Machino but lost after Mongo distracted and pulled Debra away from ringside to the back. Later in the night, the Horsemen had mended fences though as Jarrett helped Mongo to victory over Reggie White. The following month at GAB, Mongo and JJ still couldn’t get on the same page as Jarrett “accidentally” waffled Mongo with the Halliburton against Kevin Greene. In July at BATB, it was finally the coup de grace for Mongo as Debra FINALLY broke off and joined JJ and helped him to victory over Mongo.

• Since losing the US strap to Jarrett back in June, Malenko has done a whole lot of nothing and hasn’t even been on PPV in 3 months. Benoit worked his way through the DOD and finally disbanded them retiring Taskmaster last month at BATB.

• Jarrett struts and gets some heat from the crowd as he starts with Benoit. Benoit tries some chain, and Jarrett armdrags under and STRUTS! WOOOOOOOOOO! TAG TO MALENKO! That’s the sign of a true artist, leaving on a high note and keeping them wanting more. Benoit bowls over Malenko with a shoulderblock. They give it another go and work through some beautiful counters and misses before Malenko finally lands on top with a small package for 1, 2, no. Just exquisite stuff between Malenko and Benoit. They collide on clothesline attempts, and Benoit goes to the headbutts to tag in Mongo. Mongo comes in to a nice pop and is immediately taken down by Malenko. This might be the largest talent gap in history in the ring unless Khali worked Dragon or maybe El Gigante working Flair or Sting. ANYWAY, Benoit with a cheap shot, and Mongo takes over with a tilt-a-whirl slam to another pop. They love him in Sturgis. Dust: “It’s unusual that Mongo has not caught contact, EYETOEYE, with his bride, if you know what I mean.” Thanks for that.

• ANYWAY, Mongo works over Malenko, while the crowd lays into JJ with JARRETTSUX chants big time. Tony: “I think what we’re seeing is Mongo become a complete, focused, pro wrestler here tonight.” Complete insanity as Mongo has been in the ring for about 60 seconds for all of a fist drop and a slam and some trash talking from the apron, but the effort is appreciated. Mongo with a shitty whip into a clothesline. Benoit in with a few elbows on Malenko for 1, 2, nearfall. Benoit sneers over at Jarrett, and Jarrett’s all I’LL BREAK YOU IN HALF! … IN GLOBAL FORCE WRESTLING ONCE WE GET A TV DEAL, I SWEAR! ANYWAY, another quick tag from the Horsemen ends in a snap suplex from Benoit. Mongo in and hits a Bulldog powerslam on Malenko to talk more trash with Jarrett, and unfortunately, he’s not buying the GFW detante. Malenko dodges the chop block from Mongo and tags in Jarrett. The crowd LOVES that. REV THE BIKES, TONY! KICK HIS ASS, SEABASS….. MONGO! Jarrett though seizes the moment to hit a jawbreaker. He pulls Mongo on top to pin himself for 1, 2, 3 to pull the ultimate heel move and take a loss to avoid an asskicking at 7:10.

• Jarrett: “THAT’S HOW YOU DO IT, BABY!” He gloats his way to the back, while Benoit and Mongo are disgusted with his cowardice. I love it. The Horsemen decide to take out their frustrations on Malenko, but he gets a rally with a dropkick and a backdrop. That goes nowhere as the ref allows a blatant double team from Benoit to break up a pin. Malenko tries a desperation backslide on Benoit for 1, 2, 2 1/2. He follows up with a back suplex into the Texas Cloverleaf, but Benoit gets the ropes. TOMBSTONE from Benoit. Diving headbutt, and Mongo’s in for another Tombstone. 1, 2, 3 on Malenko to end it at 9:36.

• I love cheap heat Jarrett. He’s just a master at the Memphis school of less is more as he’s the most entertaining part of the match by hitting one armdrag, talking trash from the apron, and then pinning himself. Benoit and Malenko did their thing for a few minutes which is always welcome, but this is kind of a mixed bag as a tag match. These pairings (Mongo/Jarrett and Benoit/Malenko) probably would have worked better as two different singles matches. **1/2 all for Jarrett.

• Meanwhile, the monkeys in the truck roll the beautiful bean footage of the Steiners and DDP biking in to Sturgis with no shirts on.

WCW Cruiserweight Championship: Chris Jericho vs. Alex Wright (c). I covered the cruiserweight strap’s less-than-illustrious history through most of 97 in my last review, but suffice to say that, Jericho won it in June from Syxx at a house show on Saturday Nitro, a free Internet-exclusive audio show. Since then, Jericho had a few basic defenses and a win over Ultimo Dragon in an awesome match at BATB, but lost the belt clean to Alex Wright on Nitro less than 2 weeks ago. Wright has done a whole lot of nothing for most of the year as this is his first PPV match, though he was on a Clash back in January to get fed to Chono.

• Iron Mike has been on the horn with the boys in the training room for the last half hour, and he can confirm that Mysterio injured his left knee. They don’t call him the professor for nothing.

• At the bell, Tenay calls this the most important match of both men’s careers obviously forgetting Wright’s debacle with Roma. I think that tells you more about their current standing in the company than the prestige of the cruiserweight strap. They trade hammerlocks for a bit before Wright ducks out to the apron for a break. The crowd gets behind Jericho as Tony speculates that it’s because Wright is wearing neon tights. They rev the bikes for Jericho as he gets pissed off at a chop but can’t capitalize as Wright is all MOARROPEBREAK. Jericho finally takes over with strikes, and Wright takes a breather. Wright works the count and then tries a sneak attack on Jericho, but Jericho sniffs it out with a drop toe hold. They trade wristlocks, and Wright just throws him down as the crew scrambles to come up with some resembling a narrative. They are throwing out leverage advantages, apocryphal tales of Alex’s weight loss to hit the cruiserweight limit, Jericho’s hockey background, and no one much gives a shit. They fight over a headlock with Wright pulling the hair. Jericho tries to send him off, and Wright stays on his hair so that Wright and Mark Curtis can do their bit. Jericho sends him off and eats a shoulderblock but comes back with a spinwheel kick. The crowd comes alive again for Jericho as Wright gives him a thumb to the eye. Jericho no sells as they trade suplex counters, and Jericho finally crotches him on the top rope. Good sequence. Dust: “IRONMIKE! What would you call dat in ur ARSENAL of moves and holds?” Tenay though is too much of a nerd to take the joke in stride and decides to just answer it. Tenay: “I’d say he was going to lift him with an atomic drop but decided to crotch him on the top rope and then catch him with a springboard dropkick.” Dust: “That wasa the word I wasa looking for too, fellas.” Brain: “Springboard dropkick.” Dust: “No, the other one.” Tony: “Crunch.” Dust: “Was ita crunch?” Tony: “I think it was.”

• ANYWAY, Wright regroups on the floor, but Jericho swarms with another double jump plancha. Jericho slams him on the floor as Tony encourages occasional cheating to “stretch” the rules. Alex takes note and tosses Jericho into the stairs and lands a snap suplex on the floor. The crowd is all BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO-KRAUTWERK! Dust :”The n.W.o is the most powerful force in the universe, bar none.” Thanks for that. Back in, Jericho slams Wright off the top to a nice pop and works an armbar. Wright tries to slam Jericho down, but he hangs on and rolls through. This is all technically sound but is just kinda there and not doing anything for me. Jericho stalls with a few punches, and even Dust, who requires a steady diet of fistfights or he goes into diabetic shock, is getting antsy. Wright with another spinwheel kick and stomps away. Wright heads up top for a flying stomp that looked like it could have been badass but didn’t get enough impact to matter. Wright finally gets the memo that SAMCRO is only interested in two things, crank and cheap heat and FINALLY starts dancing. Seriously, your entire gimmick is that you’re a Eurotrash ponce who thinks the discotheque is still poppin’ off and it takes you TEN DAMN MINUTES to make a bunch of dyed-in-the-denim CCR and Sabbath fans watch you DANCE TO FUCKIN’ DISCO?! Unfortunately, Mark Curtis is having none of this entertainment or gimmickry and threatens to DQ Wright if he keeps dancing or some shit. Fuck this match. Wright goes to the Euro uppercuts or just plain uppercuts where he’s from as Dust continues vampire metaphors. Wright with another suplex and more posing. He tries the teardrop moonsault but whiffs as the crowd miraculously still wants Jericho to win. Jericho takes over with a jawbreaker and some corner clotheslines for a Flair Flop, German style. Jericho with a Lionsault for 1, 2, no. Jericho baseball slides through for a double powerbomb. Delayed cover gets 1, 2, 2 1/2. Jericho heads up top, but Das Heatkiller is all Dieses Spiel saugt, wir müssen nach Hause nehmen , ich denke, Roll-up mit einer Handvoll von Strumpfhosen, die Becks auf mich heute Abend, Lionheart. Wright crotches him for a superplex. Jericho tries a wheelbarrow roll up but only gets 2. Jericho tries an O’Connor Roll out of the corner, but Wright rolls through with the tights for 1, 2, 3 to retain to complete the hit job on the crowd at 13:04.

• Holy shit, that was BRUTAL. It was hardly bad, but it was just so damn boring and monumentally frustrating to watch a guy with Wright’s heat potential squander it so catastrophically. Technically sound, but desperately need a little spice, a little personality, and a quicker pace. **

Ric Flair vs. Syxx. Going into Slamboree, it was the WCW troops led by Flair and Piper going against The Outsiders and Syxx, but during the lead-in, Flair seemed to take particular issue with Syxx. Flair cut the classic promo where he bragged that he had more world titles than Syxx had had pieces of ass. Flair, Piper, and Kevin Greene would reign supreme at Slamboree, but the next night, Flair accepted another challenge from Syxx and ended up taking 3 finishes in a row from The Outsiders and company to completely bury him. At GAB, Flair and Piper would implode on their quest to become tag champs, and they would blow that off with Flair passing out to Piper’s sleeper at BATB. After that, Flair would spend the next month courting free agent Curt Hennig to join the Horsemen and running interference in his feud with DDP. On the go-home Nitro, Flair and DDP would have a helluva match that ended in a schmooz after some Perfect influence. Syxx, on the other hand, has been not doing much since he jobbed the cruiserweight belt to Jericho including not getting booked for BATB but getting a fluke win over the hot DDP a few weeks ago. Let’s get to it.

• As Flair makes his way down the aisle, Brain puts over his then-13 world championships, not including a few international incidents in Japan and Puerto Rico, and predicts that no one will EVER have that many again.

• Tony puts over the storyline of injuries; it affected Mysterio earlier tonight and Flair’s shoulder that kept him out for much of the first half of 1997 will be a factor in this match. Syxx talks trash and mimes shitcanning Flair out. Flair WOOs him, and we’re underway. Syxx tries the karate, and Flair back pedals to the corner. Syxx grabs a headlock and bowls over Flair to taunt some. Flair goes to the hair to come back and locks up with Syxx, so he can kip up a few times. Flair retaliates with some hip gyrations and goes to the chops to a pop. Syxx takes over with an elbow but whiffs on a Stinger Splash and eats it to the floor. Back in, Syxx tries a flip to counter and Flair chops him down and again tells Syxx to suck it. Flair with another headlock and shoulderblock as we’re still in first gear. They fight over a hiptoss and again Syxx flips and again Flair chops. Flair goes back to the eyes and more chops, but gets turned around and hilariously botches the bump on a spinkick from Syxx. This is fine but like a lot of tonight, seriously lacking in firepower or fireworks. Syxx takes over with his assortments of kicks, more kicks, choking, and Bronco Busting in the corner.

• Tony loses his mind claiming the Bronco Buster is utilized for its noted shoulder psychology and not, ya know, teabagging the other guy, but at least, he’s trying. Syxx decides to pick it up with the CHINLOCK! C’MONBABY! They finally take a walk over to the corner, and Syxx kicks Flair in the mouth which knocks Flair punch(kick)drunk. Syxx heads up and hits the guillotine leg drop. Cover gets 1, 2, no. They slug it out, and this just isn’t clicking because of the style clash. Syxx with a spinwheel kick for the double down at 7 minutes in. More chinlockery follows as the pace slows to a crawl. They chop it out again and Flair Flips in the corner to take over with…. more chops. They forget the spot, so Flair says fuck it and tells Syxx to headlock him. Syxx no sells a kneebreaker to hit an enzuigiri. Syxx heads up for a fuckin’ Harlem Hangover but whiffs as Flair rolls under. Flair clips the knee and goes for the F4, but Syxx gets the ropes. Syxx takes the turnbuckle to the chest but flips off a suplex to land on his feet. Syxx goes for the Buzzkiller, but Flair blocks. Syxx tries another Bronco Buster, but Flair kicks him in the dick and rolls him up with the feet on the ropes for 1, 2, 3 to take it at 11:05.

• This was… OK? I guess? Seriously, the entire roster must have gotten some bad blow and hookers the night before because it feels like everyone is just off their games, even the notoriously quasi-disinterested fair weather biker crowd. This was just a style clash from the bell with neither guy particularly inspired and both working better with different opponents (Syxx with cruisers and Flair with bruisers) and ZERO shoulder psychology. When Flair is laying an egg, you know it’s bad. **

• Post-match, the boys and the bikes are pleased with Flair using the ropes to take out Syxx. Tell ’em, Tony. Tony: “CAN THE STEINERS GET THE WORLD TAG BELTS FROM THE OUTSIDERS?! WHAT ABOUT THE GIANT?! AND WHAT ABOUT LEX LUGER?!”

Curt Hennig vs. Diamond Dallas Page. With such prestigious and storied careers, Schiavone wants to show off his researching and play up how much he read about these two and this feud. Tony: “Over the past few months, we have seen two athletes, FINE ATHLETES, who have great moves, be content with attacking their opponents from behind… These two men, now bitter enemies, will go 1-on-1 for the first time head up, not from behind.” Thanks for that. ANYWAY, see Hennig came back in July and was courted by anyone and everyone to join their stable. Similarly, DDP was looking for a mystery partner against Nash and Macho at BATB, and the nonexistent WCW watercooler talk was abuzz with whether it would be Sting, Raven, but it ended up being Perfect. However, Hennig and DDP couldn’t co-exist for half of an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond, so Perfect turned on him and took a walk, leaving DDP to take a pinfall loss to the Madness once again. Since then, Perfect has stayed a bit of a tweener aligning with Flair and teasing joining the Horsemen.

• It’s prediction time and Brain is going with Perfect because he’s “undefeated,” meaning that walkout at BATB doesn’t count but his impressive victories over IRS, Beautiful Bobby, and Mortis do.

• Perfect runs DDP around and cuts him off at the pass dumping him off the apron to start. DDP pulls him to the floor for the haymaker and takes over. Perfect considers begging off but figures that’s a bit early even for him, so he uses the hair to throw DDP down. Tony drifts into one of his favorite tangents on commentary – how the rules are a suggestion and faces really like to cheat as well – while DDP takes over with chops in the corner and drops Perfect’s straps for the added effect. They slug it out as Perfect can’t decide if he wants to go toe-to-toe or go into selling and bumping overdrive. DDP pulls him back in for a Big Swing using the hair. Dust: “THEM GOLDILOCKS WASA SPINNIN’ AROUND!” DDP with a shitty biel but Perfect sells it backwards into the crotch spot on the post in an AWFUL spot. That was a serious error in judgment for someone that good. Page crotches him again, and at least, the crowd is digging it. Hennig goes to the eyes as DDP pulls Perfect’s singlet down to his underwear as we’re in full Keystone Cops territory at 2 minutes in. DDP with a few more haymakers and Page is fired up and ONE GUY REVS HIS BIKE! Page is all THIS ONE IS FOR YOU POPS, DDD! and heads up top, but Perfect crotches him to take over. Hennig uses the towel to choke Page around and even Tony is backpedaling a bit from his earlier pro-cheating stance, but Dust sets him straight. Dust: “Well, I think when ya in a big game like this, sometimes, if you can, ya know, a little leniency on the ref’s part. But, ya know, things were happenin’ so fast.” Yes, that’s right. Perfect who in his prime, couldn’t win a bovine track meet, but apparently, is too quick for the ref to spot him strangling his opponent with a towel.

• Perfect with a knee lift and snap mares DDP for the flipping neck whip which is always a plus. DDP tries to take over but gets elbowed right back down. Perfect covers for 1, 2, with the feet on the ropes and Dust wants to explain that strategy. Dust: “We see Ric Flair do this–it goes back to winning at any cost, ANY WAY YOU CAN! GET A VICTORY! WHATEVER IT IS! WHENEVERYOUINTHISSITUATIONWEINRIGHTHERESTURGISSOUTHDAKOTATHEBIGRALLY!” Perfect twists the knee and drops down on it AND NOW WE GO TO SCHOOL, GUM SWATING STYLE! Through Perfect’s heat, the bikers get bored or some shit and start cranking up and drowning out the entire show. Tony tries his best to run with it, but it’s overwhelming the match. Perfect tries a Sleeper, but DDP drops down for the jawbreaker. Page with a roll up for a nearfall, and Perfect takes him back down with a LARIATO and the match is danger of falling apart. Perfect whiffs on a haymaker, but Page sells it anyway. Now, it’s official: the match has fallen apart. Perfect with a Jackknife roll up for another 2. DDP gets wheels around for the DISCUS LARIATO for 1, 2, no. DDP bumps the ref in the kickout because why not? Perfect exposes the turnbuckle and waffles DDP. Perfect is all I GOT A FEVER AND THE ONLY PRESCRIPTION IS MOARSTALLING! [Several hours later] PERFECTPLEX! 1, 2, 2.9999999999. Page bladed off the turnbuckle. REV THE BIKES, TONY! Page fires up and gingerly sends Perfect into the turnbuckle who cuts a flip off it. High times for the former IC champ. Tony: “DIAMOND DALLAS PAGE IS A FIGHTER!” DDP tries a piledriver, but they bump the ref again. Neutralizer but no ref. BUT WAIT! RIC FLAIR HAS COME OUT! Flair is in to do the job for Perfect and eats a DiamondCutter. Perfect blindsides DDP with another PerfectPlex. After a solid 5-10 seconds with the ref recovering, he finally counts the 1, 2, 3 at 10:10.

• Just another awful style clash that wasn’t was headed nowhere fast after the bell and then got there after the bike revving catastrophe. That’s two marquee PPV matches for Perfect since his return and two mediocre no-shows. It’s not as if he isn’t trying; he just doesn’t appear to have much to offer at this point other than some spots. Page is normally Mr. Meticulous Planning, but that seems a virtual impossibility with the incessant biker noise so that probably threw him off his game as well. Don’t let the names in the match fool ya; this was shit. *1/4

• Post-match, the match is immediately forgotten as everyone wonders if Perfect is in the Horsemen because Flair took a bullet for him tonight.

• Schemin’, Mean Geno though has other ideas. On the hotline, he has an EXCLUSIVE, I TELL YA! He has more information about the brewing feud between Raven and “The King of Swing” Stevie Richards. ALSO, call now, and Gene will tell you who Raven’s first opponent is in WCW. Hint: Stevie Richards. But Gene’s already talked about him, so nevermind that shit. Instead, if you call after 11 PM, you can get the EXCLUSIVE results from tonight’s Road Wild PPV. Yes, that’s right. Gene is hyping giving the results away to a PPV on a PPV after the PPV is over… fo $1.99/minute.

• Next up is a Fall Brawl commercial that was probably directed by Joel Schumacher.

• This is followed by a completely useless and superfluous n.W.o promo that manages to only put over Bischoff and his Harley.

The Giant vs. Macho Man Randy Savage. Not a whole lot to this one, other than WCW vs. nWo. Since his feud with DDP has been on hold so Page could job to Perfect, Macho has had one appearance and that was a brawl with Scott Steiner that ended in an Outsiders run-in. Giant, on the other hand, since being part of the team that went over Hogan and Rod the Bod at BATB, has been on a roll beating Muta twice, Road Block, and the triple threat of Joey Maggs, Lenny Lane, and Scott D’Amore.

• Giant comes out sans music which I think is because the DOD is over and he used their theme. Giant chases Macho out of the ring as the bikers let them hear it. Macho stalls, while Giant teases a plancha and even Mickey Jay isn’t buying that one. Macho sneaks in to try a scoop slam but his back buckles. Giant falls on top and goes to work elbows and chops in the corner. Tony: “Not only the biggest man in professional sports, but logically the biggest hands and the biggest feet as well.” I see, but I really need some kind of analogy to help me out. Would you say they are comparable to frying pans? Typewriters? Catcher’s mits? ANYWAY, Giant biels him across and stomps down on his neck as Macho threatens to waffle to the ref. We’re in complete squash territory as Giant tears off his shirt and gives him a few forearms. Macho bails out and hides behind Liz for some nice cheap heat. Giant toys with him and gently moves Liz and press slams Mach back in. Mach comes back with a chop block, and the boys lose their minds playing up this brilliant strategy. Mach wraps the knee AND NOW WE GO TO SCHOOL, SPIDER STYLE! Mach alternates between gouging the eyes and kicking the bad knee for a solid minute. Giant’s selling is decent as he staggers but won’t bump for a few clotheslines. Mach heads up top for a crossbody for 1, 2, no. Mach tries another but Giant catches him in the CHOKESLAM! 1, 2, 3 to end it rather decisively at 6:07.

• Glorified squash. Mach got to work the leg for about 90 seconds, but this was 2 minutes of stalling, 2 minutes of a Giant chops and knees, and Mach trying some heat but falling to a single move (a finisher but still one move). Energetic but not getting it done. *1/2

• You would figure after Giant was involved in the “biggest match in WCW history” at BATB and emerged victorious with Luger over Hogan and Rodman that would lead to something, right? He followed up that with squashing Macho to keep him protected for something, right? Well, he squashed Norton next month at Fall Brawl and then didn’t have a feud or a PPV match until WW3 where he was the last one tossed out. He followed that up by not being booked for Starrcade and then getting dropped on his head by Nash at Souled Out in January. So I’m going with no.

WCW World Tag Team Championship: The Steiners vs. The Outsiders (c). I feel like it’s been said 1000 times but it bears repeating: WCW didn’t give a shit about their tag belts after the Outsiders won them. Hall and Nash won them at Havoc 96 from Harlem Heat. They would defend them a few PPV’s in a row defeating FOF and the Nasties at WW3 after trying to pin each other and the FOF again at Starrcade. Things start to go a little downhill at Souled Out when the Steiners ostensibly win the belts, but because HEEL or some shit, Bischoff gave them right back. After that, they would repeat the same angle at SBVII where Giant and a one-armed Luger would win the belts and again, they were returned the next night. The belts basically collect dust (though Nash did defend them by himself after Hall no-showed Spring Stampede) for the next FOUR MONTHS until June when Piper and Flair come out of hibernation to go through their usual teaming up and turning on each other routine every spring since 1975. At GAB, HH would “win” the number 1 contendership after Vincent interfered to help them because Black Power… or something. They would do a return match the following week and Steiners would finally climb the mountain once again to get their title match… 7 weeks later.

• MDM Dibiase brings out The Steiners on some Harleys, and we get a helicopter shot of some fireworks with the sun setting in the Black Hills. That’s some beautiful scenery even if this show has been shit. Hall and Scotty to start. They shove it out with Scotty standing tall. Hall tosses the tooth pick, and Scotty no sells to smack him back. Crowd loves that one. Hall shakes it off to give him a BEAUTIFUL right hand and some shoulder surges. Scott Hall has some of the best worked punches in the history of wrestling. Hall then works the GRECO-ROMAN TAKEDOWN! Hall then goes into rear mount and paint brushes Scotty around. Has Scott Steiner ever let someone do that to him? It doesn’t last long as he hits a Steiner-line and suplexes Hall and follows up with a butterfly suplex. Nash tries to cut him off, and Rick shitcans him out to a rousing round of barks from the crowd. The Steiners clear the ring for their pose. Dust: “THEYOUTSIDE! THEY TOOK A POWDER! THEY TOOK A POWDER!” Rick tags in, and Hall has no time for his bullshit and spits on him and tags in Nash. Schiavone is in awe of Nash. Tony: “Here comes… Kevin Nash… The look in his eyes, one of the most dangerous men this sport has ever seen.” So… like financially? Or knee surgery-wise? ANYWAY, he clubs down Rick and hits a corner clothesline. Nash gloats, but Rick avoids a Snake Eyes with a German suplex.

• Tony: “DOESN’T MATTER HOW BIG YOU ARE! THERE’S ALWAYS A STEINER WAITING WITH A SUPLEX FOR YA!” Scotty in and mounts for the punches in the corner. He only hits 3 before releasing to send Nash off. Nash reverses and Hall distracts long enough to set up the FOOT TO THE FACE! Tony: “OHMYGOODNESS! SOMEONE IN THE FOURTH ROW CATCH SCOTT STEINER’S HEAD!” This is pretty sweet so far. Hall tags in to block a hiptoss and set up a ChokeSlam. Nash chokes for a count of 150,000 but Nick Patrick lets it go, and Scotty is really just selling and giving a lot. Scotty tries a rally, but Hall counters back to the Snap Ab suplex. Cover gets 1, 2, 2 1/2. Nash with a side slam for another nearfall. Nash sets up some hip checks and the Director’s Cut elbow in the corner, while the crew continues to practically felate him on his physique. Hall cheats some more in front of the ref, but Nick doesn’t seem too interested in a DQ. Rick: “C’MON, WHAT IS THAT SHIT?!” Indeed. Hall goes to the ab stretch and gives some extra leverage from Nash. Tony plays up how a big boot and an ab stretch work the back, and Brain ties it all in with psychology because the Steiners have back problems since that car crash perpetrated by the Outsiders. These fools have lost their minds.

• Scotty tries to fire up, but again, Nash stays on him with a Snake Eyes called a Scoop Slam by Tony. Brain: “With ease?” Tony: “WITH EASE!” Fair enough. Nash abandons the entire concept of the match and just goes after Rick and starts shitkicking him on the floor. Hall takes over on Scotty in the ring putting the boots to him. Scotty again tries a flurry, but Hall hooks the leg and Nash tells Rick to he has two words for him: kindly take your oral cavity and massage my genitals and scrotum. Nash ups the ante by busting out a NECK WRENCH! CRANK IT! Which again allows Tony to completely overstate the importance of this move and The Outsiders’ ability as a tag team. Hall in again with no tag for goes to a chinlock, but Scotty counters out with the Electric Chair. Nash, though, once again, cuts off the hot tag with a short arm clothesline which REALLY fires up Scott Hall. 1, 2, no go. Nash is cooking and follows up with two straight chokes, but hilariously crotches himself going for another. You’d think with this fortnight of heat the crowd would be molten, but the Harleys are docile. Hall cuts off the tag again anyway as Tony questions Scotty’s cardio: “This is as long as I’ve ever seen Scott Steiner in without a tag.” Hall shits on Rick’s gimmick by hitting a bulldog off the top on his brother, and that’s enough for Rick to waffle his ass down while Nick is off counting his n.W.o payoff. Scotty comes alive with a belly to belly suplex, fights off Hall, and FINALLY tags in Rick. Crowd is digging it as they toss out Nash and hit the bulldog on Hall. 1, 2, Nash pulls out the ref for the weak sauce DQ at 15:29.

• Post-match, The Steiners and Dibiase sell themselves on the idea of a Dusty finish, but Penzer announces the Outsiders as STILL champs too late so no one cares.

• This was surprisingly absent of the usual n.W.o shenanigans which prevented this from tumbling into overbooking purgatory. Instead, it’s just a match – a regular, average, formula tag match. The only points of note were: 1. The completely ridiculous amount of cheating by the Outsiders, but Nick Patrick seems to go week to week on how crooked and how straight arrow he is so YMMV. 2. The Steiners giving a ton of offense to Hall and Nash which made this more competitive but less entertaining than their usual suplex-heavy, 10 minute extended squashes. **1/2

WCW World Heavyweight Championship: Hollywood Hogan vs. Lex Luger (c). Pre-match, the crew talks about momentum, and Dust says nevermind that shit because Hogan is Dracula and they gotta put him down with a stake right through the heart. Meanwhile, Buffer takes over in his usual tux and leather biker hat combo. This entire promotion is going off the rails.

• Let’s go with some real backstory. After finally overcoming the roach-infested, Alcatraz-inhabiting Piper at SBVII, Hogan took a siesta until basically June. Luger won a number 1 contender’s match in April but Hogan was nowhere to be found. Hogan re-emerged on Nitro and the two tussled in quite the sports entertainment spectacular.

Hollywood Hogan vs. Lex Luger. WCW Nitro. 06/09/97. Odd circumstances surrounding this match. Hogan, more or less, took the spring off after beating Piper at SBVII. He “worked” Uncensored, if you want to call waltz in to the last 30 seconds of an 11-man battle royal and with Rodman’s help eliminating Piper to win it. Of course, no Spring Stampede or Slamboree for Hogan. This is before GAB which Hogan also didn’t work; neither did Luger for what it’s worth. Luger did though win a #1 contender’s match for the strap at Spring Stampede over Giant and Harlem Heat. Is this his shot? No, it’s not, but Tony informs us that the Executive Committee has had it with Hogan’s politicking and tonight, over 2 months since Luger became #1 contender, Hogan has to wrestle Luger… in a non-title match.

• Tonight, Hogan is wearing an inverse white-and-black n.W.o shirt. Easy and Hogan are out and they get the stick. Hogan shouts out all of his nWo-ites and gets a HUGE pop. He tells Luger he’s not sure this match is going down because Luger’s out of shape and needs to hit the weights before he earns a shot at the nWo strap. Instead, Hogan is going to give his fans a show. HIT THE MUSIC! Hogan starts posing down and shaking his ass. BUT WAIT! LEX LUGER HAS COME OUT! Hogan turns around and fuckin’ EATS LUGER’S LUNCH! Rather than do the typical Hogan beg-off, he just eviscerates Luger and tells him to take a look at a real man before hitting the bricks because he’s a chump or Hogan will destroy him. MY MAN! Luger has HAD IT WITH THE INSULTS and piefaces Bischoff out of the ring and clotheslines Hogan out to the floor. LUGERLUGERLUGERLUGER! BUT WAIT! THE NWO TROOPS HAVE COME OUT! HALL! NASH! SYXX! After a meeting of the minds, Hogan finally steps in to get us underway. Crowd is HOT. Hogan teases a test of strength before going to the eyes. Hogan-line follows and he goes to the chokes and elbow drops in sequence. Hogan rakes his back as Larry Z keeps yelling into his headset and at Tony that there should be no commercials for this. Unfortunately, the monkeys in the truck overrule him, and we take a break with Hogan shittily pulling Luger into the bottom turnbuckle. We’re back to Brain joining us on commentary, and Hogan working over Luger. Back suplex gets 1, 2, no. Hogan goes for the patented big elbow but whiffs. Luger slams him down. BUT WAIT! THE OUTSIDERS ARE IN! DOWN GOES SYXX! HALL’S OUT! Nash tries stepping OVER the ropes, and Luger awesomely crotches him and shitcans him out. This is just insanely awesome. LUGER RAKES HIM! HOGAN SUBMITS AT 2:54!

• Just a nuclear segment in a nuclear angle for a nuclear stable on a nuclear show in a nuclear company. WCW missed plenty even in their hot periods, but it was makes this the entire June 9 Nitro that make this time period hallowed ground. Also, Hogan submits clean for the first time in his entire WCW run and possibly the first time ever.

• Post-match, the nWo puts the boots to him and Hogan takes out the ref. Hogan hits approx. 10-15 leg drops, while the fireworks go off to start the second hour of Nitro. WEWANTSTINGWEWANTSTINGWEWANTSTINGWEWANTSTING! STAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANNNNNNNNG!

• Unfortunately, here’s nowhere to be seen. Yet. Hogan lounges around and yaks some more to hype up Luger/Giant vs Hogan/Rodman at BATB.

• In the main event that night, it was the Outsiders vs Piper/Flair for the tag belts. Due to all of the swirling feuds, Macho and DDP were also involved. The entire show broke down into a giant brawl with the Horsemen, the nWo, Piper, Kevin Greene, Harlem Heat, The Steiners, DDP, Glacier, Mortis, Wrath, the DOD, a bunch of luchadors, etc. The crowd erupts into more WEWANTSTING chants as the brawl goes on for about 10 minutes and goes into the commentary area. The final two guys out are Mach and DDP giving chase. Hogan is out with the belt and pounds down DDP and Flair. BUT WAIT! STING HAS COME DOWN FROM THE RAFTERS! THE CROWD LOSES IT! The brawl continues as Sting holds them off and then hooks DDP to ascend to the rafters. Hot stuff.

• After submitting for the first time clean ever in WCW and possibly ever period, Hogan would take another month off only to re-appear at BATB and do the honors once again to Flexy Lexy clean in the middle of the ring.

WCW Bash at the Beach 1997

• Luger finally cashed in his chips for a shot at the belt at Road Wild. Hogan accepted, and they played angry blond mullet theater for a few weeks, until Luger lawyered up and said Hogan hadn’t defended his title within the 30 day time frame (try 6 months but who cares) so it was time for Hogan to defend it on the 100th Nitro in the first ever third hour.

WCW World Heavyweight Championship: Lex Luger vs. Hollywood Hogan (c). WCW Nitro 08/04/97. For those of you worrying about the fate of the upcoming PPV main event, never fear. Hogan has already said, once he disposes of that jobber Luger, he’ll defend the strap against Scott Hall instead, so stay tuned. During the intros, Brain calls Hogan the most hated man on Earth. Step up your game, Putin, Heenan just put you on notice. Tony takes a different tack and strategizes that Luger should go after Hogan with a small package to catch him off-guard. High times.

• At the bell, Hogan throws some skullet sweat at Luger to heel it up. Crowd is feeling it. Luger looks like a million bucks as always. Iron Mike chimes in to say that Luger has racked THE ENTIRE PLANET EARTH on Nitro the past few months. Given that pedigree, Luger easily wins the test of strength and flexes. Hogan though has wrestled Warrior and knows how to shake off the power that makes the skies rumble and the Earth shake. He dismisses Lex to a neutral corner in kind and the fans let him hear it. HOGANSUXHOGANSUXHOGANSUX! He stomps away as Tony loses his mind proclaiming Hogan as “one of the hardest hitters in the history of this sport.” The nWo-ites come alive for Hogan stomping a mudhole. Hogan continues the attack on the apron with the usual and a Hogan-line that Luger sells like a piano falling on him. Hogan drops a few elbows and another Hogan-line. Tenay: “THE IMPACT!” Luger finally comes back and smashes Hogan into the turnbuckle. Randy Anderson can’t stand that perfectly legitimate wrestling and pulls Luger away, so Hogan can poke him in the eye. We take a break and are back to Luger breaking a bearhug. Hogan can’t be outworked like that, so he trips into Luger with the worst “headbutt” ever. Suplay gets 1, 2, no. Back suplay but Luger gets his feet on the ropes. Hogan continues treating Luger like a complete jobber with some snug chops and some loose choking. Hogan follows up with Tony’s favorite move: THE FOOT TO THE FACE! 1, 2, 2 1/2. Patented leg drop gets 1, 2, 2.9999999. Hogan goes for another but whiffs. Luger USS Intrepid’s up. BUT WAIT! THE TROOPS HAVE COME OUT! Luger coconuts Hall into Nash and waffles Macho. BIONIC ELBOW ON HOGAN! LUGER CALLS FOR THE RACK! HOGAN GIVES UP! LEX LUGER WINS THE TITLE AT 9:00! LEX LUGER WON THE TITLE! LUGER WON THE TITLE! Truly, one of Schiavone’s best calls. The locker room comes out to congratulate Luger. What a moment.

• Standard heel-face match with the usual Logan oafing and Hogan sloppiness, but the intensity overrides. **3/4

• Tonight, at Road Wild, Hogan gets a rematch for the title and comes out basically as a face. Tony claims that Luger/Hogan was the most watched world title match in history. Even if we’re only talking til 97, that’s gotta be bullshit, right? ANYWAY, Luger gets a huge fireworks display for his entrance, and it legitimately comes off like a huge moment. Tony: “THIS IS THE MAJOR LEAGUE OF PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING!” TO THE MATCH!

• At the bell, Tony plays up Lex’s cardboard-like quality as he’s the same whether he wins or loses, and then calls these two the biggest names in the sport today. Yeah, yeah. Hogan tries to treat him like a jobber again with a casual shove that Luger just eats. Lex comes back with a headlock and a shoulderblock to plow over Hogan. After a half-assed lockup, Hogan takes over in the corner with knees and chops. Hogan: “YOU AIN’T NOTHIN’!” Hogan pulls him back to the middle for a headlock, and again, Lex sends him off for another shoulderblock. Hogan goes to the arm as Dust more or less guarantees a run-in finish. Hogan dusts off his working boots that he left over in Japan in the 70s and takes down Lex with a drop toe hold and works a hammerlock. GRECO-ROMAN HOGAN! Luger overpowers and works the arm as Tony talks about how it was a year ago that Hogan “stole” the belt and spray painted it, but tonight, Luger had the belt clean and polished. Good stuff. Hogan tries to cuts him off but Luger takes him down with BACK TO BACK ARM DRAGS! LUCHA LEX! Hogan wasn’t prepared for armdrags and bails out. Hogan: “AWWW JESUS!” Hogan then calls timeout which draws HOGANSUXHOGANSUX from the front row. Dust wants to talk strategy: “WHILE HE’S A GETTING YOUR WIND, YOU A-GET YOUR WIND BACK!” Thanks for that. Back in, Hogan tells Lex it’s time to do business and goes through his heat which Luger classically oversells. A turnbuckle smash and Lex has a stick of dynamite go off in his face. Slam and an elbow gets 1, 2, no. The bikers rev for Hogan, but the marks overwhelm with HOGANSUXHOGANSUX as he chokes Luger.

• They repeat the spot from Nitro where Luger takes over and knocks Hogan into the turnbuckle 10 times. Hogan takes the low road and pulls Luger out for a BLATANTTHUMBTOTHEEYE. Luger practically springboards off the stairs selling another shot and Hogan chokes him with a camera cable. Back in, Hogan with an atomic drop and MOARCHOKING! Hogan: “GET UP, LEX LOSER!” Tony: “HE’S LEX CHAMPION! ADDRESS HIM PROPERLY, IF YOU PLEASE!” Backbreaker gets 1, 2, no. Bearhug time. Hogan tells Randy Anderson to take a smoke break, so he can chop Luger in a nice spot. Test of Strength and Luger overpowers only for Hogan to go low. Randy Anderson chastises Hogan for not telling him to get a coffee and donut this time. Back suplex gets another nearfall. Lex is completely decimated either from working 20 minutes or he’s an underrated seller. Another illegal chop. FOOT TO THE FACE! 1, 2, no. HOGANSUXHOGANSUXHOGANSUX! Now, it’s time for Flair-Luger 88 as Lex no sells a vertical suplex to Total Package up. Luger hits the Steel Plate Forearm and Hogan begs off. Anderson again can’t stomach this fair fight and pulls Lex away. Another thumb to the eye from Hogan ends the comeback. Hogan with a small package, and the crew can’t believe it. Brain: “A VERY GOOD MOVE BY HOGAN.. !” Tony: “SHOWS HOW GOOD HE CAN WRESTLE!” Hogan goes for the leg drop but eats canvas. Luger fires up with another Bionic Elbow. BUT WAIT! THE NWO HAS COME OUT! BUFF! SYXX! FLAPJACK! NASH! Lex disposes of them casually. STING IS HERE! Not really, it’s an imposter, of course, and African-American at that. He waffles Luger to the back. Leg drop puts down Lex for 1, 2, 3 at 16:16.

• Post-match, the imposter, likely Rodman, walks out as the crew continues pretending they think it’s Sting. Hogan uses the belt to protect himself from flying beer. REV THE BIKES, TONY!

• Luger is helped to the back by the Steiners and Perfect. Hogan, Rodman, and their cronies in the back spraypaint the belt one more time.

• After seeing a few of their matches back-to-back, I kind of appreciate what Hogan and Lex are doing in the ring. I’ll get to the booking, but these are some of Hogan’s best singles matches since his heel turn and possibly his entire heel run. That’s more of an insult than a compliment, but seriously what’s the competition from mid 96 to this? Giant, Macho, and Piper. After that, it’s basically Sting, Goldberg, Nash, Warrior, and more Macho and Giant until Flair in 99 and hardly any of that is decent. ANYWAY, Lex and Hogan, two professors of the less is more school, remarkably seem to sync up, and because neither is too interested in showing up or outworking the other, they produce eminently watchable, basic wrestling matches. Lex shines and flexes; Hogan cheats and talks trash; Lex gets a comeback; The nWo runs in; and Hogan either submits or wins via shenanigans. There’s not a noteworthy headlock, bump, choke, move, or hold to be found in the entire spectacle, but everything is decent enough to get you there.

• As for the booking, predictably, this sours a LOT of the goodwill from the Nitro moment and previous build for Luger. The head honchos got a glimpse of how over Luger could get at WW3 96 when he almost single-handedly took out the entire nWo. They must have liked what they saw because they did the SAME EXACT FINISH to Uncensored 97. Luger becomes #1 contender a month later. He makes Hogan tap THREE TIMES and wins the belt before all the heat is back on Hogan 5 days later. By the end of the year, he was just another guy jobbing to Buff at Starrcade. He would get a measure of redemption defeating Macho in the main event of Souled Out 98, but that was basically it for Luger as a top guy. He would never win another world championship and would never main event another PPV. **

• Follow me on Twitter – @RingCrewReviews

The final score: review Poor
The 411
It's hard not to feel like the entire show is an afterthought and a waste of time to everyone involved. Not one match other than Rey/Konnan manages to be even competently executed and that one is a bit of a drag because it's all psychology instead of lucha flips in the one place it would make sense. Instead, it's just every name on the roster going through the motions and the booking actively submaring Lex as a marquee guy. The "spectacle" of the outdoor show is worth a look, I guess, but nothing is really good or even epically bad to justify hate watching. Take a pass.

article topics :

Ring Crew Reviews, WCW, Jack Bramma