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Nitro 100 – On the night that Raw moved from 8-10pm to 9-11pm, creating what would quickly go onto become an issue for Nitro regarding giving the WWF a great Monday night lead in, for one week at least they had an answer. If Raw’s going to finish at 11… then so are we. So for three hours, celebrating the 100th episode with an extended episode culminating in a slightly arbitrary title match between Luger vs Hogan.
Sting Says “No” – But prior to that, JJ Dillon came out and – perhaps rightly, had had enough of Sting ducking his invitations to get back in the ring. So, at the start of what WCW planned to be preposterously long fact finding mission (involving Sting turning down basically every member of the NWO, one week after the next, before he got to Hogan) JJ Dillon got to work.
Dillon said he had a contract offer for Sting for a return match against… Curt Hennig. Which is fine, Hennig was being touted as a big name and being on the same billing as Sting would be a great way of framing a character they were struggling to define without being able to use the “Mr Perfect” moniker.
So Sting came out and… ripped up the contract. The next week he did the same again, this time for Syxx. The plan, it seems, was for him to do it for every member of the NWO, which could've taken weeks. Fortunately, the Nitro ahead of the Clash Dillon changed tact, instead of offering Sting up wrestlers he ordered Sting to tell him what he wanted. As the crowd bayed for Sting vs Hogan, Sting came down to ringside, grabbed a sign that said "STING VS HOGAN" and paraded it around the ring.
Luger Wins – Luger was in a bit of an odd spot really, put in a main event with Hogan for the title – that for once he'd actually win, only really to know that he was a transitional champion to get the title back to Hogan ahead of the big Sting match.
Still, the match with Hogan was a genuine surprise, and a few pegs better than their match at Road Wild six days later. It was your standard punch-kick fair from the duo, boosted by a hot crowd and the title being on the line. Luger fought off the inevitable interference from the Outsiders, racked Hogan and won the title. Perhaps as significant was the reaction from the rest of the locker-room, many of whom came out to celebrate with Luger. Shame it didn't last really – could've been something much more significant.
"The Only Thing I've Got Left" - It wasn't really much of a secret that after neck surgery Arn Anderson's career was probably over, but it didn't make his final moments as a pro wrestler easier to manage. In Columbia, South Carolina, set against the backdrop of Ric Flair making his latest pitch to Curt Hennig to join the Four Horsemen, Flair called on his best friend to finish the job.
Arn, quickly, pivoted into a promo talking about his career, making the most out of what he modestly called his limited abilities and how he turned that into a successful career. He then talked about an incident on his post-surgery recovery where he realised his time was up before doing what Arn Anderson did his entire career – putting someone else over – even in retirement.
Arn turned to Hennig and said he had one more challenge, his time was up but Hennig's wasn't. And with Arn out there was spot going in the Horsemen, one for someone of the level of talent of Hennig. But not just any spot, Arn offered "the only thing I have left – not just any spot: my spot". With that Hennig finally accepted and, for a few weeks at least, the Horsemen were four again. Excellent segment, Arn is great. Fewer promos I enjoy watching more.
Shawn Sees The Light – It perhaps wasn't the greatest idea the night after WWE's other big babyface broke his neck, but the WWF went ahead with the perhaps unstoppable heel turn of Shawn Michaels. 24 hours removed from him costing the Undertaker the WWF title, there was a large male portion of the crowd ready to boo Shawn anyway, so Shawn just changed gears and went into whiny/ranty Shawn mode – art imitating life, right?
Shawn would create an uneasy, and brief, alliance with bodyguard Rick Rude. That lasted all of a few hours as Shawn pivoted himself into a new group alongside Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Chyna. It was all pretty significant, but did mean that Shawn as a heel and Bret, also as a heel, now could only happen in one place...
Car Cornette – I dunno, in a fairly quiet month in the WWF there's something quite amusing about a parking lot brawl between the DOA and the NOD ending with Kama going through Jim Cornette's actual wind-shield.
Speaking of Cornette – If people think 1997 was forward thinking in the WWF they weren't looking very hard. At Summerslam Pillman loses a match with Goldust that means he must wear a dress on Raw; the new commissioner Sergaent Slaughter said that Pillman must continue to wear a dress until he won – so of course he kept losing, even to people like Bob Holly.
Come the final Raw of the month, Pillman has had enough. For his match against Goldust at Ground Zero, if Goldust wins then Pillman will leave the WWF, but if Pillman wins then he gets Marlene as his personal assistant for the next 30 days, in something straight out regional wrestling. Of course, Goldust has zero reason to accept this stipulation until Marlene does very, very quickly as Pillman goads him about whether Dakota is his child or not. All very... Cornette this.
Austin Sit Down – So Austin has broken his neck... We then get this preposterous video narrated by Vince McMahon where he outlines how Austin "took all of the weight of the piledriver directly on his head" - which surely, if this were real, is the idea? A move that "most men wouldn't be able to get up from" - except everyone does. The whole point of the video, seemingly, was to say on a wrestling show that Owen fucked up the move and that Austin was lucky to be walking. Which was true... just a little odd.
The rest of the segment, a sit-down interview with Austin and JR, is also a bit weird. Sure Austin still has his attitude, but there's something a bit weird about him saying "I'm off to get a second (medical) opinion, but I don't care what they say I'll be back in the ring". What's the point of getting the second opinion, then?