The Best And Worst Of WCW Monday Nitro: The ‘Impact Player’ Arrives

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Previously on the Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro: Rowdy Roddy Piper and Ric Flair punched each other, Public Enemy put Damian through a table so hard it made him vanish, and Ernest Miller made his in-ring debut. Also, Alex Wright made us all uncomfortable by being in a Liontamer.

Click here to watch this week’s episode on WWE Network. You can catch up with all the previous episodes of WCW Monday Nitro on the Best and Worst of Nitro tag page. Follow along with the competition here.

Remember, if you want us to keep writing 20-year-old WCW jokes, click the share buttons and spread the column around. If you don’t tell them how much you like these, nobody’s going to read them. People need to know how a German man’s bulge has challenged my sexuality for the past 20 years.

And now, the Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro for June 30, 1997.

Worst: Mannequin 3: Hip To Be Square

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A quick recap: Rowdy Roddy Piper, a non-WCW employee, returned to WCW to challenge fellow non-WCW employee Hollywood Hulk Hogan for the WCW Championship. He wasn’t able to win (by winning twice), so he enlisted the help of Four Horseman paterfamilias Ric Flair. Well, first he enlisted the help of a boxer, a stunt man and The Shark, because they were the only people who showed up to fight him in gear instead of jeans, but he agreed to let Flair help him. That worked out badly for everyone involved, so Flair and Piper decided to become a tag team and face the nWo themselves. That worked out badly for everyone involved, and culminated in Piper standing around in the ring not paying attention while Flair got beaten up by three guys. Piper then disappeared for several weeks, and reemerged with a fresh idea: he and Flair would team up and face the nWo. This culminated in Flair not being able to make a tag because he was busy, you know, fighting members of the nWo, and Piper being extremely hurt by it. Last week, the rest of the Horsemen were like, “dude, Piper sucks,” so Piper punched them about it. Piper is the good guy, Flair is the bad guy. Got it?

This week’s episode opens with Ric Flair instructing two women to carry a Rowdy Roddy Piper parody mannequin to the ring. As you know, segments involving mannequins are always great. I need to clarify a few words here:

  • I said “always great,” but I meant to type both “embarrassing” and “make me want to gouge out my own eye with a screwdriver”
  • I said it’s a “mannequin,” but it’s only the top half of a mannequin with no legs
  • I said it was a Rowdy Roddy Piper parody mannequin, but it isn’t, really, it’s just wearing generic Scottish clothes
  • I also said “two women,” but I could’ve been more specific and said, “the former porn stars from SNL if they’d never heard of Ric Flair, Roddy Piper or pro wrestling before Monday afternoon

Any time Gene or Flair try to involve them in the conversation, they whiff it. Gene asks them if Flair is really the “sixty-minute man,” and one of them gets big-eyed and says, “what?” The other one leans in and yells, “MORE LIKE SIXTY SECONDS!” They open the segment standing in the corner by themselves with the mannequin toppled over on the ground, and when they finally get brought to the middle, they have their backs to hard cam. Seriously, it’s like Flair wandered by two random women fighting over a tartan skirt in the window of a New York & Company on the way to the arena and was like, “WOO, THERE’S MY SEGMENT FOR TONIGHT, WOO.” And then he danced in place for a while and dropped a knee on his own pants.

The highlight is when one of the women asks why Roddy Piper is called “Hot Rod,” because he is not hot.

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The bit ends when Flair realizes he can’t salvage anything from it and the girls try to strip Mean Gene, because what happens in Las Vegas stays on WWE Network. Flair even unbuttons Gene’s jacket for him in an uncomfortable moment. Between this and the time in Roanoke where Flair tried to make Piper happy by pushing Local Moms on him, should we consider 1997 Ric Flair a pimp gimmick?

Believe it or not, we’ve got two hours left.

Best/Worst: As The Halliburton Turns

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This is the big Las Vegas June 30th Nitro they’ve been building up to for weeks, so there are two big six-man tag team matches on top of the card: Diamond Dallas Page, Lex Luger and the Giant vs. Scott Hall, Kevin Nash and Randy Savage — guess how long that match lasts — and Ric Flair, Chris Benoit and Steve McMichael against Buff Bagwell, Scott Norton and Masahiro Chono. If they just, you know, let these be exciting six-man tags, this would be a hell of a card. Instead, it’s … I wanted to think of something mean to say, but the most accurate word I could come up with was “Nitro.”

The Horsemen vs. Vicious and Delicious and Malicious ends just as it’s starting to get good with a run-in from our old pal Vincent, aka Virgil, who has just had his Harlem Heat interference story dropped and has to interfere for somebody. He shows up, draws a disqualification, and Mongo gives him the Fuck Money shot to the back with the Halliburton.

Later in the night, Jeff Jarrett defends the United States Championship against Konnan. Nobody deserves a title shot more than KONNAN, who has spent the past month in a broom handle-based feud with Hugh Morrus. During the match, Konnan somehow manages to botch a kick to the gut by slipping and falling backwards on his ass. Maybe he should’ve tried doing a forward roll first?

The funny thing here is that despite Jarrett being on Double Secret Horsemen Probation, Flair shows up to help him get leverage on a figure-four and win. As a reminder, despite having spent MONTHS accidentally hitting each other with metal briefcases and passive-aggressively feuding over Debra, Jarrett got put on probation for hitting Mongo with the briefcase and costing him a match against Kevin Greene. Kevin Greene, the guy Flair had been teaming with for the past couple of months, despite having given Mongo a briefcase full of money so he’d turn on Kevin Greene and join the Horsemen. On Nitro, after helping Jarrett win and retain the only championship the Horsemen have, Flair kicks him out of the Horsemen.

None of that makes sense, but at least the way he kicked him out is funny.

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Where were you when the world stopped turning, that June day?

Worst: Lee Marshall Goes Walking In Memphis

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♫ Now Muriel plays piano
Every Friday at the Hollywood
And they brought me down to see her
And they asked me if I would
Do a little number
And I sang with all my might
And she said
“Tell me are you a weasel, child?”
And I said “Ma’am I am tonight!”
That’s your 1-800-COLLECT road report
I’m Lee Marshall
for 1-800-COLLECT ♫

Worst: Juventud Takes The Night Off

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Hey look, Chris Jericho is the Cruiserweight Champion! If you read these columns every week and are asking yourself, “when did that happen, did Brandon not mention it?” Don’t worry, it happened over the weekend at “WCW Saturday Nitro,” an audio-only house show presentation on WCWWrestling.com. If that seems weird, please note that they consider this an actual episode of Nitro, so much so that the 99th episode (August 4) is the “100th episode of Nitro.”

[deep sigh] Anyway.

Jericho’s first defense is against Juventud Guerrera, which would’ve been great if Juvy hadn’t chugged an entire bottle of ZzzQuil before he came to the ring. Early in the match he goes for a springboard, slips, and turns it into a stumbling hair-grab. You can practically feel the air go out of the crowd. Later, he goes for a spinning kick that completely misses, then goes for ANOTHER springboard, which he turns into a forward somersault onto nothing.

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If you look closely, you can see him get mad about it. Or he’s just completely forgotten how to wrestle and is making the bump noise way after the bump. Jericho wins after multiple-powerbombing the shit out of him, Super Frankensteinering the shit out of him and almost literally removing the shit from him with a Liontamer.

After the match, Mean Gene tries to get a word with Jericho. They’re interrupted by Syxx, who says he’s still the champion (because the nWo invented Alternative Facts) but that he’ll give Jericho “another shot.” Then he punches Jericho in the face. Get it?

The real money here is Mean Gene, who not only sells the punch like HE’S been punched, but has mannequin model PTSD, panics, and gets trapped in the ropes. Watch Gene for the entirety of this GIF. It’s the best few seconds you’ll have today.

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It’s like the in-ring version of Bobby Heenan’s legendary table escape.

Best: Alex Wright’s German Youth Street Clothes

After that altercation, Alex Wright shows up dressed like a Minion to complain about how he’s been overlooked. It’s because he’s German! He’s from Germany!

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You know what’s not being overlooked? The Buffalo Bill-esque tuck job he had to do to fit his banana into them jeans.

Worst: Corkscrewing Yourself Into The Floor

Juvy: “I had the most embarrassing high-flying moves of the night.”
Hector Garza: “Hold my beer.”

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That, ladies and gents, is Hector Garza going for a Corkscrew Plancha from the top to the outside and connecting with Lord Steven Regal’s foot. Regal does an admirable job of selling it by falling backwards, as though the spiraling winds from the move knocked him over.

Regal wins with the Regal Stretch. Hey, at least no high-flyer’s gonna be worse than Juventud and Hector Garza tonight, huh?

Worst: CALO THE WILD

Juvy: “I had the most embarrassing high-flying moves of the night.”
Garza: “Hold my beer.”
Super Calo: “Hold my beer, amateurs.”
La Parka: [runs in] NO, NO BEERS

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La Parka interrupts Super Calo’s attempts to kill himself and Psicosis by once again attempting to kill Super Calo with a chair. This time we’re back to the breakaway wooden models and it’s to the back, because Calo’s probably never letting someone hit him in the face with a molded plastic chair again. With Jim Duggan and his Time Lord underpants full of masking tape AWOL, my favorite ongoing story is how badly La Parka wants Super Calo to actually die.

Juventud makes the save just to make this as dangerous as possible for everyone involved, and we’ve got the beginning of what eventually involves a Villano and becomes a trios match at Bash at the Beach. The “beach” here is Calo’s face, and the “bash” is La Parka somehow building a recliner out of bricks and bashing him with it.

Worst: That’s Enough Of High-Flyers Killing Themselves Tonight

Shit, wait.

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Earlier in the night, Rey Mysterio Jr. announces that he’s challenging Kevin Nash to a match, because he’s tired of being bullied by the Wolfpac. As you probably guessed, the match ends in about 90 seconds with Mysterio taking a jackknife powerbomb like this. After the match, Nash punches out referee Scott Dickinson and powerbombs Mystery AGAIN, which he takes like THIS.

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Forget that “I had surgery FIVE TIMES, in my left knee” soundbite, I hope Mysterio had surgery on what was left of his spine. Amazingly, those two powerbombs aren’t even the most painful move Mysterio takes in two minutes. Feast your eyes on this atomic drop, which will replace every atomic drop you’ve ever seen and most MMA knockouts in your brain:

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That is just mean.

After the match, Konnan runs out to make the save for Mysterio. Then, because Vampiro has always been right about Konnan, Konnan turns on him, puts him in the Tequila Sunrise and more or less joins the nWo.

Join us after the commercial break for our next segment, “Ultimo Dragon accidentally Asai moonsaults into a wood chipper while all his friends stand around and laugh at him.”

Worst: Oh Wait, One More

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In their continuing quest to see how many ways they can ruin a sure thing, Nitro books this Eddie Guerrero vs. Dean Malenko match with very little technical wrestling, and ends it with Chavo Guerrero providing a distraction. Chavo gets up on the apron, Eddie shoves Malenko into Chavo and frog splashes him for the cheap victory.

I’m so disheartened by this entire Nitro that all I can do to cheer myself up is imagine that after the show Malenko went home, popped open a bottle of flat seltzer water, sat rigidly on a small wooden bench in the center of his empty living room and watched the MacNeil/Lehrer Report on a black and white TV to relax.

Best: Feline Groovy

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I’ll give a Best to the other distraction finish of the night, because (1) it’s our second chance to see Ernest Miller on Nitro, (2) the Feliner in the dopest move on the show until Billy Kidman’s shooting star press with a 65% failure rate starts showing up more often, and (3) it’s a rare moment of turnabout being fair-play seeming earned. Mortis and Wrath have been showing up and trying to screw Glacier out of victories for MONTHS now, so Glacier distracts the referee and Wrath long enough for Cat to shoot-kick Mortis in the jaw and cost him a match against HIGH VOLTAGE. That’s a Joe Gomez away from being the most depressing way you can lose on Nitro.

I hope next week we get Mortis and Wrath vs. High Voltage in a Parts Unknown Or Thailand Or Wherever Street Fight.

Worst: Hulk Hogan Tells Jokes

You can’t expect Hollywood Hogan to actually show up and do any work to build to his main-event tag team match for NOT the Heavyweight Championship at Bash at the Beach, but his latest direct-to-Betamax movie about shooting guns on the beach had a break this week so at least he’s here to say some stuff.

The major point he’s making is that the nWo doesn’t care about anything currently happening in WCW, so he and His Main Man Rod The Bod The Dirty Worm are going to have a big party in Las Vegas. He also brings back my favorite Hoganism, the “big, stinky Giant,” and shades Dallas Page with a nickname so bad you’d smack your decidedly not-Heavyweight-Champion little brother for thinking was funny:

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DD PEE PEE.

DD PEE PEE. That makes “Flexy Lexy” sound like the entirety of the Box With God promo.

Worst: In Other ‘The nWo Doesn’t Want To Work’ News

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The Steiner Brothers show up to discuss at length the most talked-about story on Nitro: who is or is not the number one contender to the Tag Team Championship. Keep in mind that the Steiners have already faced the Outsiders for the belts once and won, but had their titles stripped and returned to the Outsiders the next night because one team’s nWo and one isn’t. That isn’t even me being catty about the bad booking, that’s the actual storyline reason.

The Steiners see that Hall is teaming up with Macho Man to face Diamond Dallas Page and a mystery opponent at Bash at the Beach, so they make it clear that they want their title shot against Hall and Nash as soon as possible afterward. Hall and the nWo show up with a contract, which the Steiners eagerly sign. When the Steiners leave, Hall reveals that the “Einsteiners” have signed to face The Great Muta and Masahiro Chono at Bash at the Beach in — are you ready for this? — a number one contender match for the Tag Team Championship. I’m not kidding.

I don’t know if this is what turned Scott Steiner into a crazy person, but if it is, I’m starting to understand.

Worst: The Outsiders Pin Set

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Sure, they’re dorky, but look on the bright side: it’s the only way you’re going to see the Outsiders pinned.

Best: The Impact Player

As I mentioned earlier, this week’s main event (LOL) is supposed to be The Outsiders and the Macho Man against Diamond Dallas Page, Lex Luger and the Giant. We get a few minutes of battle royal-style tornado brawling until, and again, this seems confusing and exciting but bear with me, Hollywood Hogan and the rest of the nWo interfere and the match gets thrown out. After the match, Savage spends several minutes dropping flying elbows on DD Stupid Urine Poopface with nobody helping.

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Then, help arrives from everywhere!

Okay, so, the story here is that Page has a mystery partner for Bash at the Beach, and we’ve been assured it’s an “impact player.” He teased pretty openly early on that it was Sting, then walked back on that a bit. The ending of Nitro gives us three impact player options, and in a rare moment of quality storytelling, gives us reasons to believe it could be any of these men. And then it goes off before it ruins it!

Our options:

1. Sting

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[roddy-piper-coming dot png]

During the beatdown, a very realistic Sting in a comedy wig appears in the crowd. The nWo wants him to come down to the ring and fight, so the actual Sting, Shoot Sting, rappels from the ceiling. The announce team says they know what he’s packing, which is a baseball bat, but makes me wonder what would happen if already Columbine-ass Sting just pulled out a gun and started shooting nWo guys.

Anyway, Sting does the grunt work and makes the nWo flee the ring. Because as the story goes, at least until goddamn Starrcade 97, Sting is the only guy in the entire company who can boot and bat a group of 35 guys into submission.

2. We Know Who That Is!

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While Sting is cleaning house, the announce team clutches their pearls because Mr. Perfect Curt Hennig has arrived on Nitro. He’d be a great choice as DDP’s partner. The last time we saw him was late last year on Raw when he was pretending to be Marc Mero’s mentor, tricking Mero into putting the Intercontinental Championship on the line against Hunter Hearst Helmsley, then helping Helmsley win it. That’s a guy you can trust!

3. What About Me?

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The final option, also making his WCW Monday Nitro debut, is former ECW Champion Raven. Raven hops the rail as Hennig is walking to the ring and appears to “stand up” to the nWo, meaning he stands still and wipes his nose with his jacket a few times.

The cool thing here is that Page, Hennig and Raven (in a previous life) all have connections to Diamond Dallas Page. Page was Hennig’s manager in the original version of The Diamond Exchange in the AWA in 1988. Back in 1992, when Raven was Scotty Flamingo, he was a member of Page’s “Diamond Mine.” And, as you may recall, Sting once rode Diamond Dallas Page into the sky like a horsey. You can probably guess which of the three he decides to trust, and how that works out for him.

Next Week:

  • The long-awaited Nitro debut of Stevie Richards
  • The Konnan vs. Desperado Joe Gomez match you’ve been begging for
  • and, maybe the actual greatest Diamond Dallas Page moment ever