Subscribe to the podcast via: iTunes | RSS Feed | Email Newsletter
Ever since the NWO pivoted from a group of three to an "organisation" - which was always the plan but really took place most visually in September 1996 – there was plans a foot to try and turn the NWO into its own brand. Entire hours of WCW Saturday Night were turned over to the group, and bigger plans were afoot following a first "NWO Monday Nitro" mid-September.
Admirable aims they may have been, they were driven belligerently through what surely must have been all of the logic running in the other direction. The NWO, at its height (which was arguably June before the group even formed, but more likely the 4-5 weeks after they did) was a small group of "Outsiders" trying to fuck with the system. By the time plans had been in place for an NWO organisation they had swelled in size to a membership well into double figures. Nobody had really tried to explore what they were rebelling against but, more critically, nobody had really looked at the only reason the group were getting over because they were rebelling against *something*. Plans beyond that, were for a show featuring NWO talent in NWO storylines, but who would they face. And why?
These questions, really, were never answered. The tester hour in September was a disaster, matches that were terrible and a general sense of "what they hell are we all doing here" saved (like on many occasions in the coming months) by a series of well timed insider comedy on commentary from the only two members of the group worth a damn – Kevin Nash and to a larger extent Scott Hall. Even Hogan, as we saw at Starrcade in December 1996, would get booed even by people wearing NWO merchandise.
Still, while the TV show was on ice (bizarrely, reports suggested the main hold-up was getting graphics ready), they did book in an NWO pay per view for January 1997 as WCW formally made the move to monthly pay per views. The idea, though it was never fully explored, was for a fully NWO show with matches featuring NWO talent (now including such luminaries as VK Wallstreet, Marcus Bagwell, Scott Norton and Big Bubba) against WCW talent. Quite why the WCW talent would want to be there (beyond the few who had taken a title shot in enemy territory) is a stretch.
The show itself didn’t receive much of a build on TV, which to a point was fair enough (why would a WCW product promote a "non-WCW" show?). But the matches, barring the main event of the newly-turned Giant against Hogan, weren't really much of anything. Still, the show had somewhat randomly been assigned as the place for the first ever WCW ladder match. So we had that going for us.
We start the show with a black and white opening of the NWO arriving at the building on the back of a series of rubbish trucks in the snow. The intro goes to colour but otherwise sticks to a very archetypal NWO video package complete with quick cuts and a very, very dictatorial like speech from Eric Bischoff. We then cut to the arena itself with a very unorthodox setup with three big video screens a top the main entrance stage which features around a dozen steps down to a flat area where Eric Bischoff and Ted DiBiase will commentate from, along with the live band and what will become of the "Miss NWO" contest (more on that in a bit!).
Chris Jericho vs Masahiro Chono
Nick Patrick, as you might expect being the only NWO referee, is going to have a very busy evening. They introduce Jericho via the voiceover/ring announcer as "From somewhere North of the border". This was perhaps a little bit disappointing, save Eric Bischoff saying: “forget all the wrestling vernacular you hear about that, that is a jump back leg round kick. That simple”. We also get Nick Patrick going for the evening with counting just about slow enough. Chono unfolds a table on the outside, Jericho later ends up getting shoved through in a spot that was a little too telegraphed. Chono hits an impressive looking mafia kick and the NWO, as they probably should, win the first match of the evening.
We get the first of the "Miss NWO" segments of the evening – I'll get there!
Hugh Morrus (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs Big Bubba in a Mexican Death Match
Morrus, dressed up as Big Dick Dudley, subbing in for Konnan who (mercifully, given this show) wasn't able to leave Mexico to get to the show! A nothing match for the most part, Patrick at this stage in the show is still a riot as he reluctantly starts a ten count on a downed Bubba. We head up the ramp, Morrus goes for a twisting Moonsault from about five steps up, Bubba moves and buys himself enough time to hijack a motorcycle one of the Miss NWO contestants are sat on (I'll get there!), before running over Morrus with the bike. It wasn't a brilliant spot (shot at a long angle and Bubba didn't even have the space to get up to any great speed even if he wanted to) but fair fucks to Morrus in particular for making it work. Bubba returns to the ring and Patrick does a quick ten count.
Jeff Jarrett vs M Wallstreet
Four days earlier we main evented the Clash with a main event of Lex Luger vs Scott Hall – in a match that would've meant significantly less in the WWF two years prior. We move here to a match that would've meant nothing two years ago in the WWF and meant nothing in this context either. Of all of the NWO members, Wallstreet's addition has to be the strangest. This, by any stretch, was really dull, save Nick Patrick shoving Wallstreet out of harms way from an attack. The match is interrupted, frequently, by Debra McMichael leading Steve on a long route around ringside, he eventually gets to the ring and smacks Wallstreet with the case before scaring Patrick into a quick three count.
Scotty Riggs vs Marcus "Buff" Bagwell
Despite people, quite rightly, being fond of the American Males theme song, they really overplayed their hand here. Bagwell is just about surviving off of a turn and subsequent gimmick change (speaking of things from two years ago – he's *huge*). This match, apparently, only went about 13 minutes, but it felt like it took about twice as long. The fans never cared about the Males, and they barely care about Bagwell, let alone Riggs. Still, the sole shining light was the finish, as Bagwell comes off the top with a sunset flip neckbreaker for the win. Save me.
(Don't worry, I'll get there)
Diamond Dallas Page vs Scott Norton
We had a great angle on Nitro in January where Diamond Dallas Page appeared to join the NWO before hitting a diamond cutter, it was a great spot that finally drew a line under the will he won't he turn of Page. Or, at least, it should've done. We get a match between Page and Norton that is fine (I.e. one of the better ones on the card). Sting randomly appears then is never seen again, then out comes Bagwell, Vincent, Wallstreet and Bubba. The match comes to a complete halt before Bagwell hands Page an NWO shirt, who puts in on the hits a diamond cutter onto Norton before hi-tailing it into the crowd. Too obvious, for me. Norton wins by count out and Page gains very little from the exercise.
The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott) vs The Outsiders (Scott Hall and Kevin Nash) for the NWO World Tag Team Titles
All four of these guys are fun to watch, and this match while never being better than good, was also. It's apparent here in this setting (I.e. a "NWO" pay per view) that the NWO as a whole is not over, only certain bits are. If you were being simplistic, you'd say that it was almost entirely down to Hall and Nash. Still, Rick plays the face in peril, Scott gets the hot tag, then Nick Patrick goes down. Rick Steiner hits a bulldog from the top, referee Randy Anderson steps into the ring (he's been sat in the floor seats along with about 10 other WCW talents) and counts the three. Steiners win. Crowd is very happy.
Eddie Guerrero vs Syxx in a Ladder Match for the WCW United States Title
It's hard in individual match by match reviews to paint a full picture of what's going on. But the commentary by this point has become completely self indulgent, and even the usually great Nick Patrick's act is wearing off (they really should've written him off the rest of the show with the bump in the previous match). Still, we have two matches to go.
This really was rather good. Like most ladder matches from the 90s, it doesn't quite stack up to the crazy shit we've seen since, but for it's time this was a fine effort – paced beautifully. Still, with a flat crowd and an announce team that had been doing their own thing the entire night, this didn't come across half as well as it should have. After some good exchanges the ladder finally gets to the ring, both guys climb it then Syxx hits a spin kick sending both himself and Guerrero to the match. They eventually climb one more time, both remove the title, then Eddie hits Syxx with the belt before retriving it from the mat for the win. In a vacuum (a muted vacuum) this was one of the best WCW matches in a long time.
OK – it's time to address this! These segments had basically been plugged in-between each of the matches with a young Jeff Katz walking round the ten entrants all sat on Hogs (because we're watching this pay per view through the filter of Eric Bischoff's mind). Katz would ask each of the women an awkward and slightly suggestive question, the woman wouldn't be able to hear him (and even when they could, had no way of answering the question that could be broadcast) and the whole thing was very awkward.
But that all paled into comparison to the final segment. Ten minutes of pure dross, by some margin the worst thing we've seen doing the project so far. We get Katz introducing each woman, with some awkward dancing and none of them really understanding what they're supposed to be doing, before a ludicrously jovial Eric Bischoff is allowed to pick the winner. Not before Bischoff says he has one question for each of the two "finalists" he's chosen. Of course, he whispers the question into the contestants ear – as if this whole thing couldn't get any more seedy already. Bischoff (if he deserves any credit) cannot be said to have simply chosen the most attractive woman in the line-up, far from it. But he did get a kiss for his troubles as the whole thing, mercifully, concluded soon after.
The Giant vs Hollywood Hogan (w/ 3 of the Dallas Cowboys and Vincent) for the NWO World Heavyweight Title
Eric Bischoff says that Verge Gagne and Vince McMahon owe a debt of gratitude to Hogan. This just sucked... it was in a death spot given all that came before it, but Giant vs Hogan matches (and there have been three on pay per view in 18 months previous) actually seem to be getting worse. After a sloppy match, Giant hits a chokeslam on Hogan but Patrick pulls out of the count at two, then again. Giant chokeslams him and the whole match breaks down as the NWO interfere.
Score Rating: 1.5/10
Go Back And Watch: I mean, there is a certain element of intriuge on this show, and it is very close to "so bad you need to see it territory", but this really was dreadful. Eddie vs Syxx holds up as a good ladder match, everything else watch at your own risk.