Written By: Justin Rozzero
WCW Nitro 1/20/97
Announcers: Tony Schiavone & Larry Zbyszko
– We cold open in the arena as Tony welcomes us to the sold out United Center in Chicago, IL. And we start with a bang as Randy Savage comes through the crowd, grabs a chair and gets in the ring. Tony reminds us that we haven’t seen Savage, who is clad in black, since Halloween Havoc, where he lost to Hollywood Hogan. Savage says that he has been blackballed and that he isn’t leaving the ring until he talks to someone with major stroke. He has no plans and will stay all night and that he has a message for Eric Bischoff: “You can kiss my ass!” Savage takes a seat in the ring and waits as the crowd is going nuts for him. He is still sitting as we are about to start our opening match, and with that Chavo Guerrero, Jr. makes his way out to the ring. Chavo gets in the ring and questions Savage, who waves him off. Chavo steps off but then turns back around and jaws at Macho some more, but Randy keeps waving him off. Larry said he had heard that Savage was in psycho-therapy since October. Chavo is really giving Savage the business now, but Randy won’t even really acknowledge it. Savage finally gets up but he nails Chavo with a right hand and tosses him out of the ring to a loud pop from the crowd. Savage sits back down, but now Maxx makes his way out, as Tony tells us that he was Chavo’s scheduled opponent. Now he gets in Macho’s face and Randy waves him off, giving him a chance to leave. He doesn’t, so Savage gets up again and pounds on Maxx with fists and boots. He then sits right back down to continue his protest. Referee Scott Dickinson gets in his grill now, but he catches a beating too and gets tossed from the ring. Head of Security, Doug Dellinger heads in to break things up, but Savage puts a beatdown on him too. Now Alex Wright is in and he gets popped with a right hand and sent from the ring. Savage picks the chair up and welcomes any more challengers. The Steiners and Amazing French Canadians are in the aisle with a bunch of refs debating a course of action. We then pan to the roof as Sting rappels down to a huge pop. He lands in the middle of the aisle and walks down to the ring, brandishing his ball bat. Larry is still convinced that Sting is NWO. Everyone in the aisle parts as Sting walks through to confront Macho, who is still seated in the ring. Sting circles around him and then eventually stops in front of him and points the bat in his chin. Sting pushes him back with the bat, but Savage starts to pounce before stopping cold. Sting hands Savage the bat and then he turns around and waits to see if Macho will deck him. Sting turns back around and Savage tosses the bat back to him, and the two men walk off together through the crowd. Larry and Tony are befuddled as we head off to break. That was a really interesting opening segment and it was great seeing Savage back in the fold.
– We return from break and take a look at the December 16, 1996 Nitro when Masahiro Chono revealed an NWO shirt, turning his back on Sony Onoo and New Japan. Chono tears Onoo’s New Japan T-shirt off as the NWO celebrated in the commentary booth. Okerlund yelling “In English you idiot!” to Onoo always cracks me up. Tony tells us that Chono will take on Chris Jericho at Souled Out in a rematch from the 12/16 Nitro, which Jericho won by DQ.
1) Chris Jericho defeats Alex Wright with a forward roll at 2:25
Wright takes control early with an armdrag, but Jericho returns the favor with one of his own. Wright hits a nice northern lights release suplex, but Jericho rebounds and grabs control with an armbar. Larry and Tony discuss the Sting and Savage situation. Jericho hits a nice shoulderblock and follows with a Superkick for 2. Tony tells us that on Saturday Night this past weekend, Eric Bischoff said he would not be signing nor doing business with Randy Savage. Wright gains control and stomps away at Jericho. Wright goes for a Boston Crab, but eats a fist. The two men trade a few pin combinations and Jericho eventually rolls through for the win. Jericho celebrates the win and we head off to break. That was a basic enough match that served to get Jericho some momentum heading into Souled Out. Grade: 1
2) Scotty Riggs defeats NWO Sting by disqualification when Marcus Bagwell interferes at 2:46
Riggs is clinging to the American Males music and look as he heads down to the ring. Tony talks about the big American Males showdown at Souled Out when Riggs will take on Marcus Bagwell. Sting begs off a bit and lets out the patented howl, but Scotty jumps him and slugs away with rights and lefts. Riggs lands a pair of nice dropkicks as Larry says we should call this version of Sting “Stink”. Riggs is whipped in to the ropes and gets caught with a stiff reverse atomic drop as Sting takes control. He lands a backbreaker for 1 as Tony and Larry talk more about Savage, Sting and Bischoff. Sting eats a Riggs boot on a charge and then gets hit with a missile dropkick from the 2nd rope. Riggs goes for the cover, but Bagwell shows up in the aisle and Scotty lets go of the pin to jaw with Bagwell. Bagwell has a shirt that says “Buff” on it and Tony seems a big confused, so I am guessing this may have been the official debut of the Buff moniker. Sting charges from behind, but Riggs dodges and hits a big flying forearm, but before he can follow up the Bagwell rushes the ring to cause the DQ. Norton, Bubba, Wallstreet, Vincent and Nick Patrick hit the ring as well as Riggs takes off and escapes through the crowd. David Penzer gets in the ring and announces Riggs the winner, but the NWO gets in his face and makes him announce Sting as the winner. The troops celebrate as we go off to break. The match was nothing, but they did make Riggs looks pretty smart there as he saw the attack coming and snuck out before they could do any damage. Grade: 1
– We return as Tony runs down the action for the weekend’s edition of the Mothership. We now take a look at a prerecorded interview that Ric Flair did with the “Enforcer” of the Chicago Blackhawks, Bob Probert. The interview takes place on the ice and Flair is rocking a half-fur coat and has an old school Bob Barker style mike, which is funny to see. Probert says he won’t be in town tonight as he has a game in Buffalo, but he warns Hogan and the NWO that the next time they are in town, they are in trouble. And with that, we head back to ringside.
3) Steve McMichael & Arn Anderson defeat Jeff Jarrett & Eddie Guerrero when Debra throws in the towel for Jarrett at 3:27
Mongo makes his way out to a really big pop, which makes sense as he returns to home to Chi-town. Larry Z rags on Probert and hockey players in general, as he always does when it comes to other pro athletes. As Eddie and Jarrett head down, Tony reminds us that Debra has an affinity for Jarrett and has been petitioning for him to be inducted into the Horsemen. He also muses that whatever Debra wants, Debra gets and Larry says that she wears the pants in the family. Jarrett’s strut draws a chorus of boos as he starts off against Arn. They lock up to start and Arn gains the advantage as Larry says that no one gets in the Horsemen without Arn’s approval. Anderson lands a knee, but Jarrett plants him to the turnbuckle and then heads up top and comes off with a high cross body for 2. JJ grabs the arm and then tags in Eddie. Arn tags in Mongo to a huge ovation from the Chicago fans and he squares off and locks up with Eddie. Mongo hits a huge shoulderblock and the crowd is just nuts for him. He lifts Guerrero high over his head for a press slam, but Eddie reverses with an armdrag and a dropkick. Eddie charges and Mongo dumps him to the floor and then follows and tosses him into the safety rail and then back into the ring. Mongo tags Arn back in and he continues to work Eddie over, but Guerrero fires back and then tags Jarrett back in. JJ hits scoop slams and dropkicks on both men, but Mongo catches him with a forearm to the back. We cut to the aisle to see Eddie running from the ring and heading backstage. Tony tells us that Syxx had appeared on a ladder in the aisle, even though we never saw it. Arn hits a huge Spinebuster and then locks in a Boston Crab and as Mongo stomps away on him, Debra jumps in the ring and throws her sash down like it was a towel. Apparently that suffices for Randy Anderson and he calls for the bell. Arn is confused and Mongo goes to get Debra’s sash back from him and they have a little showdown in the ring. Tony says she was protecting Jarrett and the tension between the Horsemen continues thanks to Debra. That was a decent enough TV tag match, but the crowd heat definitely bumps it up a notch. Grade: 2
– We head to the aisle as Gene Okerlund is out and he welcomes in the “Nature Boy” Ric Flair to a rock solid pop from Chi-town. Flair says that he and Chicago are on fire and then Gene asks his assessment of the Horsemen. Benoit, Mongo, Arn, Woman and Debra join the party as Flair says that he is on the mend and putting his body back together so he can be a real live fighting Horseman. He continues by saying that he watches them every week and has determined that the Horsemen are not the unit they were in the past. He says when he is with Arn and the old gang that they took care of business before knocking the women down. He tells Benoit and Mongo to be Horsemen first and then take care of the women later. Arn says wrestling is a man’s game and talks tradition and says that as long as he and Flair are involved, the Horsemen will go strong. Mongo talks next and says he has returned home and that he is proud to be a Horseman. Debra takes the mike and rambles on as the crowd boos loudly at her. Benoit says it is a fact that Mongo is a winner in football and Debra is a winner in beauty pageants and that the rest of them are winners at pro wrestling. He says this is pro wrestling and they need to keep things in perspective. Mongo takes a cheap shot at Benoit’s recent win-loss record but Gene cuts them off and tries to send us to break. The rest of the Horsemen head back up the aisle, but Debra and Mongo remain and Debra takes a shot at Woman before Gene finally ends it and we go to commercial.
– We return and Tony briefly recaps the events of earlier tonight involving Randy Savage and then sends us to an Eric Bischoff NWO style promo piece from Saturday Night. Eric makes sure to claim that the NWO and WCW are the top two organizations in wrestling today. He runs down the Outsiders’ list of victims and then pumps up Hogan a bit more. He says that is has been tough watching Flair struggle to return but tells him it is over. He turns his attention to Roddy piper, saying he told him to stay home and not get involved with Hogan. He mocks crying and says he feels bad about what happened to Piper and Flair. He says many people don’t deserve membership to the NWO and says the Giant is an example of someone who fumbled their chance. He calls Liz into the shot and says that the two things Macho Man has always wanted were Liz and his hair. He says NWO will always go on because they are for life and finishes by saying he loves being him.
4) Ultimo Dragon defeats Dean Malenko with a La Magistral at 4:16; Dragon retains WCW Cruiserweight Championship
We head back to ringside where Malenko and Dragon are already in the ring and ready to start things off. We get a lockup to start and the two men trade holds as a small section of the crowd starts an “ECW” chant. Dragon hits a nice dropkick as Tony and Larry talk about Bischoff and Savage. Dean hits a solid Powerslam for 2, but eats a boot on a charge. Dragon charges but gets hit with another Powerslam for 2. Dean hoists Dragon up and drops him with a Brainbuster for another near fall as Tony reminds us that the Clash of the Champions will be airing tomorrow night on TBS. Dean goes to a reverse chinlock and then rams him into the buckle and hits him with a clothesline. Dean scoops Dragon up, but gets caught with a handspring elbow. Dean rolls out and Dragon tries to come over with a tope, but Dean sidesteps and Dragon lands on his feet. Ultimo whips him into the railing and then sends him back inside the ring. Dragon heads to the middle rope, but Dean catches him and puts him on his shoulders, but Dragon slips out and the two trade sunset flips for near falls. Dragon puts Dean on the top rope and then takes him down with a Hurracanranna for 2. Dragon lands some kicks, but Dean grabs his foot and takes him down into a submission hold, but Ultimo gets the ropes. Dragon reverses a Malenko suplex attempt into a La Magistral and picks up the victory to retain his title. Tony tells us that Malenko gets a rematch tomorrow night at the Clash as we take a look at the replay and then head off to break. Grade: 2
Announcers: Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan & Mike Tenay
– We are back from ads and Tony welcomes in Bobby and Mike and they talk about the Savage and Sting showdown from earlier tonight. Tenay was sure that Sting was NWO last week, but is more confused after his actions tonight. We take a look at the video from earlier tonight as the announcers break it down.
5) Lord Steven Regal defeats Jacques Rougeau by disqualification when Col. Robert Parker interferes at 1:52; Regal retains WCW Television Championship
Jacques has the mike and signs the Canadian National Anthem for us; however he butchers it as he doesn’t know any of the words, which is pretty funny. The bells rings and we get a lockup to start. The announcers talk more about Savage and Bischoff as Regal takes control early, but is tripped up by Col. Robert Parker and Jacques takes over. Regal heads outside and Jacques follows as the two brawl out there a bit. They both head back in and Regal catches Rougeau with a boot and then goes to a side headlock. Parker grabs Regal’s leg again and Jacques hits an axehandle. Jacques hold Regal and Parker comes in the ring and of course Regal ducks and Parker cracks Jacques. Regal and Parker square off as Mark Curtis calls for the bell. Regal hits an atomic drop on Parker and sends him to the floor. It almost seemed like they were angling Regal as a face here, which was quite odd. Regal celebrates as we head to commercial. Grade: .5
– We are back from break and Tony runs down the busy week for WCW with Nitro, the Clash and Souled Out all on deck. We now get Lee Marshall on the road in Milwaukee, where the Clash will take place. He talks about Lew Alcindor and the Packers in the Super Bowl before hitting a Brat-weasel joke.
6) Kevin Sullivan defeats Chris Benoit at 1:54 after hitting Benoit with the ring bell
We have another match that is a preview of a Clash match. Benoit jumps Sullivan in the aisle and they head right out into the crowd. They fight up the stairs and in the concourse as Tenay says that tonight’s match was not supposed to be Falls Count Anywhere. They head into the sea of fans in the concourse and then brawl into the Men’s room. Sullivan rams Benoit’s head into the stall door and then slams him into the wall. Benoit rips down a Plexiglas frame and cracks Kevin with it. Dellinger gets in Benoit’s face and he gets tossed for the second time tonight. They brawl out of the bathroom and back into the concourse where they are mobbed by fans. Woman has her shoes off and she is just beating random people with them. We cut back to the arena where Sullivan is just kicking Benoit, who is rolling down the steps. Sullivan rams him into the barricade and then slams a cup of beer into his face. Benoit takes control and sends Sullivan into the ring and the crowd is just rabid. The bell finally rings and Benoit puts Sullivan on the top rope, but Kevin elbows him to the mat. He heads back down and stomps away on Benoit. Sullivan ties him up in the Tree of Woe, but he escapes and corners Sullivan and lands some chops in. Kevin hits a low blow with a mule kick and then follows with an atomic drop. They collide heads and, as the ref is distracted by Woman, Jimmy Hart slides the ring bell into the Taskmaster. Benoit heads up and comes off with the Headbutt, but he eats the bell on the way down and Sullivan gets the easy pin. We take a look at the replay and then head off to commercial. I am not sure why they were having exact Clash matches tonight, but it is WCW, so who knows. The match itself was a fun brawl and the crowd was red hot for it. The entire fight lasted about six minutes, but the actual match time was under two minutes. Grade: 2.5
– We are back from break and Tony, Bobby and Mike start to break down the Hogan/Giant match at Souled Out, but they are quickly interrupted by the infamous theme of the NWO. The whole crew, sans Hogan, makes their way out and commandeers the broadcast booth as the WCW trio scamper off. Bischoff, DiBiase and Nash put the headsets on and gloat a bit about all their fans.
7) Jim Duggan defeats Carl Oulette after punching him with a taped fist at 2:02
Bischoff says that we are going to get a little taste of Souled Out here tonight and that things need to change. Nash and Eric take a few shots at Oulette as he makes his way to the ring, with Nash saying he hasn’t missed many LaBatts and telling to do some sit-ups. Carl starts to sing but is immediately cut off by the patriotic music of Jim Duggan. Duggan calls out Sting on his way to the ring and Nash calls him out for trying to be WCW’s poster boy after not being included in the NWO. Nash wants to jump Hacksaw now, but Bischoff says they have more important things to do. He says that Masahiro Chono came from Japan, but he wasn’t scheduled to wrestle. Eric switches things up and says that Chono will take Psychosis’ spot against Dave Taylor so he can warm up for the PPV. Duggan and Oulette start brawling as Bischoff also informs us that he is giving Rick Steiner the night off so Scott Hall can make his Nitro debut against Booker T. Oulette regroups outside, but Jacques has headed to ringside and distracted Duggan. Carl jumps him from behind and takes him down with a snap mare and drops a leg from the second rope. The Steiners then make their way out and take down Jacques. Scott jumps up on the tarpon and clubs Oulette, allowing Duggan to wrap the tape on his fist and slug him down for the 3 count. Duggan celebrates and Bischoff pumps up Chono as we go to break. Grade: .5
– We return from commercial and Bischoff takes us to footage of everything leading up to Diamond Dallas Page’s decision last week. Bischoff says DDP made the biggest mistake any man could possibly make. Bischoff, DiBiase and Nash provide commentary for the highlight package, crapping all over Page the whole time. Bischoff keeps harping on all the potential Page had as we go to the ring.
8) Masahiro Chono defeats Squire David Taylor with the STF at 2:37
Bischoff lets us know that DiBiase has been traveling the world to assemble the NWO’s international division and Ted lets us know that Chono turned down a New Japan contract to hook up with the NWO, which shocked the whole country. Bischoff sends Nick Patrick down to the referee the match so they get a fair shake. Eric jokes about possibly buying New Japan and then Nash busts on Taylor’s fox hunting outfit. Patrick calls for the bell and Chono jumps Taylor right off the bat. He hits a nice reverse DDT and then head up top and drills Taylor with a flying shoulderblock. Taylor is whipped in and comes back with a sunset flip for a very slow 1 count. Bischoff and Nash praise Taylor’s in ring skills but keep crapping on his outfit. Taylor flips out of a backslide attempt and dropkicks Chono in the gut, sending him to the apron. Taylor goes to the middle rope and drops an axehandle, sending Masa to the floor. Taylor follows and hits an uppercut and then sends Chono to the guardrail. Both men get back in and Chono catches him with a reverse atomic drop and a sidekick. He flips Taylor over and locks in the STF for the submission victory. Taylor got way more offense than I expected at the start and made it a competitive little squash. Bischoff plugs Hall’s Nitro debut and we head to break. Grade: 1
9) Scott Hall defeats Booker T. with the Outsider Edge at 2:48
Booker and Sister Sherri head to the ring as Nash puts over his abilities. Hall comes out to a large pop and Nash talks about how he and Hall had a match that once opened this building, which is obviously a reference to Summerslam 1994. Bischoff rags on “last night’s mess of a PPV” which would have been Royal Rumble 1997 and Eric tells the fans not to wear the NWO colors on the competitions’ show as it is just too embarrassing for them. Nash takes a funny shot at Mean Gene and the 900 line as well, saying that “people are sleeping with other people, but we can’t talk about it now”. Nick Patrick is the referee again as Bischoff talks about how Booker was not prepared to face Hall. Hall lands a boot to the gut and then lands a few shoulderblocks. Hall hits a back body drop and then goes to an armbar, but Booker escapes with a heel kick. Booker hits a forearm shiver and follows that up with a back elbow and jumping side kick. Booker gets a slow 2 count but then gets caught on a cross body and Hall hits the fallaway slam. Hall puts Booker on the top rope, but Booker elbows him down and comes off with a body block for a really slow 2 count. Booker goes after Patrick, but Hall catches him from behind and loads up the Outsider Edge, drops him to a big pop and picks up the win. That was a fun match with a lot of heat and I wish it lasted a bit longer. Bischoff and Nash gush over Hogan as we go to break. Grade: 1.5
10) Lex Luger defeats Stevie Ray with the Torture Rack at 2:22
Bischoff says that they need to make a big impact at the Clash tomorrow night, as a lot of TBS execs will be watching. Eric laughs off Stevie’s threats to take out Lex and then the NWO and Nash inquires what a neck bone is after Stevie references it. Eric says that Luger is the leader of WCW and Nash says he hates him more and more every week and that he could look like Lex if he gave up all the things he enjoyed in life. Nick Patrick is still the ref here as Nash and Eric talk about Savage joining the NWO. Ray jumps Lex to start and slugs away at him in the corner. Stevie gets distracted with Patrick and Lex gains control with some boots and fists. Stevie yanks Lex to the floor and then follows out and beats on him. DiBiase heads to the dressing room check on Hogan and Syxx joins us on the mike. Nash says he is tired of WCW handing out free Horsemen merchandise to the crowd. Luger gets whipped into the rail and choked by Sherri before rolling back into the ring. Luger rebounds and hits a big Powerslam and then hoists Stevie in the Torture Rack for the quick win. Luger jaws with Patrick as Nash rags on Lex some more, telling him to go away and asks if he “wants a perfect score on the posedown too”. Grade: .5
– Luger heads to the back and we get a quick replay of the match. After the replay, the NWO music fires up again as the World Champion Hollywood Hulk Hogan makes his way out, flanked by DiBiase and Vincent. Hogan gets a huge pop as he makes his way to the ring. Nash says that the WCW guys never learn as they keep, getting beatings and coming back for more. DiBiase tells the crowd to quiet down and then hands the mike to the “only Icon in profession wrestling”. Hogan says the crowd told him they wanted the pythons and he gives them to us as Nash talks about how hard he has been training. Hulk says that Chicago thought it was 747 crash landing when they came barreling into town last night. He tells some odd story about how he used his arms to help fly the plane when they had mechanical problems and then turns his attention the Giant. Hogan says that he will beat down the Giant at the PPV Saturday night and asks Ted if they should show any mercy if Giant starts to beg. DiBiase says “absolutely not”. Hogan said he met Giant’s mom back when they were using him and says he told her he was a good boy. Hogan talks about how he met Giant in Chicago at a basketball game and the man himself storms to the ring. A boatload of officials step in front and hold Giant back, but he tosses them all off and heads into the ring as the show abruptly goes off air.
Well, no great or long matches this week but that is understandable as it was the go home show for the PPV and the Clash and they had a lot of angles to pump up. The NWO looked strong as always, and it was good that they had them on commentary the last few matches to help put over their view on things. The Savage opening segment was well done and they made his return a big deal and intertwined him right into the major angles going on at the time. The Horsemen drama continued on here as well as things seem about ready to finally boil over. Mongo got a nice reaction in his hometown as did Hogan and the rest of the NWO. The Benoit/Sullivan brawl was pretty fun and helped build some intrigue for their big battle the next night. There really isn’t much else to say other than this was a very effective go home Nitro and got me into all the angles and matches for the PPV, so you can’t as for much more there. Final Grade: B+
MVP: Randy Savage
Runner Up: Kevin Sullivan & Chris Benoit
Non MVP: Harlem Heat
Runner Up: Jeff Jarrett