Subscribe to the podcast via: iTunes | RSS Feed | Email Newsletter
It was 1997, so of course it was a busy time between pay per views for WCW. This time it was the retirement of Arn Anderson in a great, typical Arn promo where he managed to shift the spotlight away from his own retirement speech to setup Curt Hennig finally joining the Four Horsemen. Next week followed a parody promo from Kevin Nash, Syxx, Konnan and Marcus Bagwell that would cause a lot of controversy but seemingly little lasting damage to the group. Whether it contributed to its goal of garnering buys for this show – the main event of which was only announced six days out, is another question.
Otherwise, things were largely just busy. Roddy Piper was the new commissioner, starting with the duty of putting himself in the October main event – of course. Hulk Hogan was doing alternate pay-per-views, and September was an off month for him – not that that stopped WCW advertising him for the show. Sting was also still out of action, although WCW had finally committed to delivering him vs Hogan for December.
Such were the riches in WCW this still felt like a deep card – presenting two multi-man matches in the final two slots on the card and still having room for The Giant vs Scott Norton and a typically strong WCW undercard.
Eddie Guerrero vs Chris Jericho
Interesting match this, a lot slower than you’d be used to from this pair (something that seemed to be consistent with the first few matches on card), and they even had to ride out some mild boring chants too. But given enough time this really got strong by the end. Big spots were used sparingly as both men wrestled a believable and slow style attempting to wear each other down, with Guerrero busting out a form of bow and arrow chin lock while driving his knees into Jericho’s back.
There were still the usual struggles – Jericho just isn’t over or even particularly likeable, and the Cruiserweight Title means almost nothing at this point. But they stayed with the action long enough it really began to stick by the end: Jericho with a lovely release German suplex, Guerrero with a rock bottom. We finish with Guerrero spinning out of a superplex, hitting a frog splash and winning the title. Very good this, worth waiting for.
Harlem Heat (Booker T & Stevie Ray w/ Jacquelyn) vs The Steiner Brothers (Rick and Scott w/ Ted DiBiase)
So… after one contentious title match loss the Steiners are back in number one contender territory for a match it feels like we’ve seen a lot. This was fine – I think the tag team division has been held up for far too long with the titles being on Hall and Nash, and we’ve had a lot of dead matches. If you’ve seen all of the WCW PPVs this year, you have seen this match a few times before. After a back and forth and Scott playing the face in peril, we get a Heat Seaker onto Rick, before the Steiners hit a double team German Suplex/Clothesline for the win and, seemingly, another shot at the title holders.
The Ultimo Dragon vs Alex Wright for the WCW Television Title
Dragon could well be the best wrestler of 1997 and Wright has improved a tonne in the past year or so (complete with a great heel turn) – and this delivered to that billing. Another slow building match, almost too similar to the opener and a pair of really long chinlocks. But eventually it gets going with the usual spots from both – an asai moonsault and a sunset flip powerbomb from Dragon. He comes off the top and Wright catches him with a dropkick. Dragon hits frankinsteiner and goes for a Dragon sleeper but Wright escapes, hits a German suplex and retains the title.
We cut backstage, and Curt Hennig is (seemingly) downed by members of the NWO, more on that later.
Jeff Jarrett (w/ Debra) vs Dean Malenko
Forgettable, would be how I’d describe this. Jarrett is OK, Malenko is obviously very good but WCW really haven’t utilised him well, certainly not in this feud. A nice even match but I can’t really come up with much to say about it, Jarrett wins it with a figure four and seemingly sets up a rematch with US Champ Mongo next month.
Wrath and Mortis (w/ James Vandenburgh) vs The Faces of Fear (Meng and Barbarian)
I mean, both of these teams are colder than cold but boy was this match stiff and, at times, really really good. Mortis gets flipped onto Barbains shoulders by Meng and smashes him with a powerbomb. We get a super…superplex as Wrath puts Mortis on his shoulders and levels Barbarian. Meng puts a double Tonga deathgrip on both Mortis and Vandenburgh but Wrath this a big slam for a three. Really good this, all four guys deserve better.
Scott Norton vs The Giant
Giant is big over in front of this crowd. A predictably stiff match, Norton gets in control in the middle but gets suplexed on the outside after hitting Giant on the guardrail. This is where it got good, Giant gets downed with a belly to belly and kicks out by the ropes, he then puts his arm on the second rope and does a big kip up for a great reaction. He follows that with a dropkick and a big boot before picking up the clean win with a chokeslam.
Diamond Dallas Page and Lex Luger vs Scott Hall and Randy Savage (w/ Miss Elizabeth)
So after a brief tease of a split, Page and Luger are seemingly on the same page after a few incidents in the past few weeks. Again, regulars of WCW PPVs this year will have seen this match many times before – Page tags in then plays the face in peril as the NWO keep him in their corner. Luger gets kicked between the two WarGames rings and doesn’t surface until the end. Eventually Zbyzsko gets pissed off as the NWO just keep knocking out the referees. Zbyszko confronts Hall, Luger re-emerges between the two rings, rolls up Hall and Larry makes a fast three count to unofficially give them the win.
Team NWO (Kevin Nash, Marcus Bagwell, Konnan and Syxx) vs the Four Horsemen (Ric Flair, Chris Benoit, Steve McMichael and Curt Hennig) in a WarGames match
This, like most WarGames matches of the past few years, wasn’t particularly much of anything from an action stand point. I’ve written previously about how the format impedes on a good match and this being the fifth one I’ve seen I’m unconvinced that my opinion is particularly false.
Like all of the War Games matches I’ve seen, very little of note happens until all eight guys are in the ring. With Hennig not out at the start, the crowd started chanting for Sting (not the first time the idea of Sting has left Hennig looking second rate).
Hennig eventually comes out wearing a sling. We get to the first seven men in the match then Henning enters and… immediately turns on the Horsemen. His sling contains handcuffs that they use to tie Benoit and Mongo to the cage. With that they beat the piss out of Flair – both Benoit and Mongo tell them to stick it when they ask them to submit, but in the end the threat of slamming Flair’s head in the cage door forces Mongo to call it. Of course, they do the deed anyway.
Score Rating: 8/10
Go Back And Watch: The entire show is watchable, which is rare. Some things are just decent (Jarrett/Malenko, Heat/Steiners and the main event) but there’s a few really nice matches here in front of a hot crowd.