Written By: Justin Rozzero
WCW Nitro 3/31/97
Announcers: Tony Schiavone & Larry Zbyszko
– We kick off this week’s show with a look back at the closing segment from last week’s show. Randy Savage was set to defeat Prince Iaukea until Diamond Dallas Page got involved and eventually beaten down at the hands of the NWO. The opening animation follows and then into the Roanoke Civic Center we head as Tony Schiavone welcomes us to the hottest ticket in wrestling, Monday Nitro. We have a jam packed two hours lined up here tonight and we cut outside to see the New World Order, sans Hollywood Hogan, Eric Bischoff and Scott Hall, piling out of their limos and heading into the arena.
1) Lex Luger & Giant defeat Rick Fuller & Roadblock when Giant pins Roadblock with the Chokeslam at 5:01
Tony and Larry are curious as to where Scott Hall has been and they wonder if there is trouble within the NWO. Luger and Giant are out and set for one last tune up before they battle Harlem Heat in a four corners match this Sunday at Spring Stampede. Giant and Fuller start things off and Giant takes early control smacking Fuller around in the corner. He shoots him across and follows with a clothesline and then makes the tag to Luger. Lex hits an axehandle off the middle rope as Tony and Larry talk about the four corners match. Fuller turns the tables but it is only temporary as Lex takes him over with a back suplex and then a clothesline. Fuller goes to the eyes and tags in Roadblock. He mares Luger over and drops a big elbow. Lex ducks a clothesline and hits one of his own. He hits the ropes and Fuller is able to smack him leading to a Roadblock clothesline. Roadblock hits a knee to the gut and follows with another clothesline. He drops a leg for a near fall and then tags in Fuller. Fuller runs Lex to the corner and lands some chops in on him. He tags Roadblock back in and he slams Lex down hard to the mat. Roadblock heads to the middle rope but misses a flying elbow. Lex makes the tag and Giant comes in and lands a headbutt and boot to the gut. He kicks Roadblock in the face and then takes out a charging Fuller. Roadblock catches Giant from behind, but Giant puts both men down with a double clothesline. Giant kills Roadblock with the chokeslam for the win as Luger racks Fuller for fun. Grade: 1.5
– Booker T. and Stevie Ray run in after the bell and unload on the Giant. Lex makes the save and all four men are brawling as we go to break.
– When we return, Mean Gene Okerlund is with Harlem Heat and Sister Sherri in the aisle. Booker said this started a long time ago when they first arrived in WCW. They are seven time champions and get no respect, so they are going take on whoever they want. They are taking everybody out. Gene points out that the Heat members could end up fighting. Stevie reiterates that they get no respect and that we see the same punks out here week after week. He rips on Lex and the Giant and then lets us know it is on like neckbone. Sherri says they will divided and conquer and all three head off up the ramp.
2) Toshie Uematsu defeats Meiko Satomura with a swan dive splash at 2:22 to advance to the finals of the WCW Women’s Cruiserweight Championship tournament
Mike Tenay has joined us and he lets us know that the weight limit for this division is 135 pounds. Mickie Jay holds up the vacant Cruiserweight belt for us before we get started. Uematsu hits a quick dropkick off the bell and follows with a whip, but Satomura blocks it and snaps her arm over her shoulder. Satomura hits a charging forearm in the corner and then hits a scoop slam. She heads up top and attempts a frog splash, but Uematsu gets her knees up to block it. Tenay tells us that these ladies are from the Japanese GAIA promotion. Uematsu hits a pair of running kicks in the corner but Satomura regains control. She heads back up top but Uematsu smacks her and armdrags her down to the mat. Now she heads up top and hits a nice swan dive splash for the win. Well, not the best first impression but they tried. Grade: .5
3) Psychosis defeats Villano IV with a guillotine legdrop at 4:31
We are back from break and our combatants are in the ring and ready for some cruiserweight action. Psychosis grabs an armbar and cinches it in but Villano flips out of it and grabs a wristlock. Mike Tenay has remained in the booth for this match as well. Villano turns it into a side headlock but Psychosis works out and they trade some holds. Tenay fills us in on the history of the Villano family and Larry wonders where he learns all this stuff. Villano lands a headscissors takeover but Psychosis comes back with a clothesline and then crotches Villano on the top rope. He heads up top and hits a spin kick to send Villano to the floor. Psychosis goes back up and hits a corkscrew moonsault to the floor. He tosses Villano back in and heads up top again but this time Villano catches him on the way down and plants him with a slam. Villano gets a sunset flip for two and then he lands some chops. We cut backstage where Nash, Syxx, Norton and Wallstreet are talking and seem to be arguing a bit. Wallstreet says somebody needs to take control and Nash says he is trying. Norton says they need to just take care of business and Nash agrees with him as well. He asks if they are with him or “them”. Wallstreet says he doesn’t need this and walks away and we cut back to the ring. The announcers seem to think trouble is brewing in the NWO. Villano lands a kick to the gut and follows with a t-bone suplex. He heads up top but misses a moonsault and Psychosis hits a crisp superkick. He heads up and lands the guillotine legdrop for the win. That was a fun little spotfest. Grade: 1.5
– In the ring, Gene welcomes out the Nature Boy Ric Flair, who makes his way out to a very load ovation. Gene says that Flair has support like never before in his life. Mean….Gene….we are in Roanoke, VA and we are live! Gene has gotten some chin music from Flair on the subject of Roddy Piper. Flair asks if he means the icon and Gene says yes. And with that the bagpipes fire up and Hot Rod himself heads out to the ring. Flair says that the Hot Rod is in the house. Piper lines up Flair’s face and he says that the Easter Bunny had to have ears like that, but judging by Flair’s nose, he must be lying again. He has all the respect in the world for Ric Flair and he wants to put a rumor to rest. He says that the rumor that Flair’s girlfriends call his water bed the Dead Sea is not true. Flair chuckles and Gene is glad that has been documented by a man who should know. Piper thanks him and Flair says that before this escalates, he wants to tell Roddy he is glad he can drive his recreational vehicle off the mountain, to the airport and humble his Hollywood ass long enough to join us tonight. He knows Piper could have been at the Oscars, but he came here to be with the Nature Boy. Piper says he is damn glad to be here. Flair says he may not be the smartest guy in the world but he always says what he is thinking. He says that Piper is the man that, when he vanishes every night, Flair goes back to the bar to tell Mongo that Piper is the man even when he can’t be found. Flair wants to paint a page in history: he deserves the cheap shots because Piper is his best friend, but Piper’s claim to fame will never be that he is the best wrestler alive. There are a hundred kids running around calling themselves the greatest but none of them are calling out the Hot Rod when the sun goes down and the moon goes up. Flair wants to make sure that the man who put Mark Lewin to bed in 1983, the man who put the Nasty Boys to rest in 1993, the man who walks into a territory and changes things, the Icon who put Hogan to sleep twice…he doesn’t want to get put to sleep, he wants to go out with Piper because he is the fastest gun there is. He tells Piper to stop checking his guns when he walks into WCW and then he hits the strut. Piper has known Flair for 20 years. They have fought and fought and they know every move the other will make. Flair is 13 times World Champion, never been beat, so he has an idea. There is no more fun in sports today than having Flair and Piper having their way. Instead of arguing, they should stand side by side and take the whole nine yards on. Flair says he will stand by Piper’s side forever if…and then he calls a lady with a ICON shirt in the ring. He asks her if she likes Piper and she says she loves him and she hugs Hot Rod. That is good enough for Flair and Gene wonders which guy will pick up the tab at the Marriott bar later tonight. They all head out of the ring and I can honestly say I have no clue what either man was talking about that entire time. Larry seems to concur with that sentiment but Tony says this is a moment in history as we go to commercial. .
– We are back and taking a look at highlights from the end of last week’s show, including the closing moments of the Iaukea/Savage match and the NWO beatdown afterwards.
4) Prince Iaukea defeats La Parka with a high cross body to retain the WCW Television Championship at 4:47
Tony tells us that if the Prince retains tonight, he will face Steven Regal for the title at Spring Stampede. La Parka looked impressive last week and we will see if he can keep rolling here tonight. Larry warns that Iaukea may be in for a tough battle too. Parka misses a charge and leaps into the ropes, be he rebounds and takes control with a kick to the back and a spin heel kick. Iaukea whips Parka into the corner, but Parka leaps up to the top and comes off with a moonsault, landing directly on top of Prince’s head. I can’t believe Prince is up after that as it looked quite ugly. Parka catches a charging Iaukea and takes him over with a powerslam. He heads up top and hits a big senton bomb for two. Parka heads to the middle rope and hits a twisting splash for a near fall. He shoots Iaukea into the corner but hits the post on a missed charge. Parka goes to the floor and Iaukea hits a springboard axehandle outside. Iaukea lands some chops but Parka whips him into the guardrail. Parka grabs a chair and sets it up. He runs Iaukea into the steps and sits Prince on the chair. Parka goes inside and then lands a tope suicida onto the seated Iaukea. That was sick. Parka tosses him back inside and lands a kick to Iaukea’s face as he ducks on a whip. They trade some sloppy whips and Prince lands a side kick and a chop to put Parka down. Iaukea goes up but Parka dodges a cross body and the Prince crashes to the mat. Parka sends him back outside and then leans a chair up against the ropes. He heads back in and baseball slides the chair into Prince’s face. The bell randomly rings for no reason and Scott Dickinson looks confused and waives it off and apparently the match is not over. Parka puts the chair in the ring and propels off of it and over the top rope with a dive onto Iaukea. Parka tosses him back inside but the Prince lands another side kick and another chop. Prince goes back up top and comes off with another cross body, but Parka holds up a chair and they both careen to the mat. Iaukea leaps up and covers for the win. We see recap of the match courtesy the Valvoline replay and Iaukea moves on to Spring Stampede as we move on to break. OK, that whole thing was so messy and confusing, yet entertaining at the same time. Parka looked like a beast and he has gotten quite the little push here. They were just all over the place and it was a train wreck, but in a good way. Grade: 2
– Be sure to join us for WCW Saturday Night at 6:05 Eastern on TBS. Rey Mysterio, Lex Luger, Diamond Dallas Page, Public Enemy and Prince Iaukea are all in action, so check it out. In the aisle, Gene brings out Lord Steven Regal to talk about his title match Sunday. Gene thinks Regal underestimated Iaukea last time they fought. Regal asks the peasants to quite down so he can talk. He says that now that “J. Edgar Bischoff” is suspended, he can say and do what he wants. Before Iaukea took his belt, he was distracted by Dopey the Dwarf, also knows as Rey Mysterio. He never got the chance to get his back against the freak dwarf. Next time he gets the chance, this weekend, he will take the belt back and Rey will get the first chance to face him. He says that ring is 18 feet and he is just 18 feet from getting a turned into a bloody vegetable. He tells Rey not to worry about huracarranas and planchas because he will be sipping his food through a straw. Regal heads to the ring for our next match. He sounded a bit out of it there, I must say.
5) Chris Jericho defeats Lord Steven Regal with a roll up at 2:25
Larry says that Regal’s major weakness is that he underestimates people in the ring. Tony believes this is a big match for Jericho, whose star is on the rise. The two lock up to start and Jericho grabs a side headlock but Regal turns out to a wristlock. Jericho reverses it but Regal takes him down with a drop toehold. They trade off some more until Jericho plants him with a clothesline and follows with a spin wheel kick to send Regal to the apron. Jericho hits a springboard dropkick to send Regal to the floor. He pulls him back to the apron and takes him back in with a vertical suplex. Jericho hits a springboard moonsault off the middle rope for two. He seats Regal on the top rope and follows him up but Regal shoves him off hard to the mat. Regal lands some knees to the head and follows with a European uppercut. Jericho slips loose and hits a superkick and gets a roll up for the upset win. Regal is pissed and decks Jericho with a left hand. He puts Jericho on the top rope and takes him off with a double underhook suplex. He drills Jeircho with a piledriver and locks on the regal stretch. Renegade comes in and starts to ask Regal to break the hold, but then he backs off in to the corner. Joe Gomez hits the ring and pulls Regal off of Jericho as Tony and Larry wonder what is up with Renegade. Regal smacks Gomez and piledrives him. Renegade bails to the floor and pulls Gomez out of the ring. Now Billy Kidman comes in to help, but Regal headbutts him in the face and tosses him outside. Lenny Lane is in, but he catches a kick to the crotch and is tossed outside. Regal is pumped up and we go to break. The match was nothing but Regal looked good in the aftermath. Grade: 1
Announcers: Tony Schiavone, Mike Tenay & Bobby Heenan
– We are back from break and it is hour number two of WCW Monday Nitro. Over at the commentary table, we get some discussion about the apparent NWO rift. Tenay says the strength of the NWO is their foundation and strength in numbers, but that may be in trouble. He has heard rumors that Hogan is off at a movie premiere. Bobby thinks the NWO is worried about WCW pulling together. He fears for the trouble that may come from Piper and Flair going out together, though. Tony shows us the footage of the NWO argument from earlier as well as the Piper/Flair chat. Now we go live backstage where Mr. Wallstreet storms out of the building before heading back to the ring.
6) Akira Hokuto defeats Debbie Combs with a bridging German suplex to retain the WCW Women’s Championship 2:12
Hokuto and Combs are already in the ring and, my Lord, how old is Combs? Bobby cracks on her hair and I would tend to agree as it looks to be frozen stiff in Aqua Net. Hokuto attacks off the bell and tosses Combs around. She chokes Combs with her boot over the bottom rope and then keeps on the attack. Sonny Onoo lands a cheap shot from the outside and follows with a big kick to the chest. She keeps choking away at Combs. Akira gets caught with her head down and Debbie goes for a gutwrench suplex but she can barely get her over and Akira actually lands on top of her. Debbie rolls over and gets a two. Debbie gets a cross body for two but she gets kicked down again. Debbie is just lost out there as she pauses for a few moments before every spot clearly thinking of what to do. Hokuto finally grabs her and beats her with a bridging German suplex to put us out of our misery. Combs should have been nowhere near a ring at this point in her life. Grade: 0
– Gene is with Madusa in the aisle and she is pumped to be in Roanoke. She is going to rock “Hokuto Akita” in Tupelo this Sunday. Hokuto attacks Madusa and then start brawling in the aisle. Sonny stays out of the way and the ladies actually bump into Gene who yells “my back!” in a funny spot. A bunch of other lady wrestlers pour out to separate things and then Madusa chases off Sonny as we are off to break.
– At the commentary table, they are talking about how we haven’t heard or seen from Sting since Uncensored. Tenay said his actions at that show said it all for him. Bobby says Sting’s embrace of Luger was one of the most electric moments in WCW history. Tony thinks Sting’s pledge of allegiance to WCW seems to have been the start of the unraveling of the NWO. We now take a quick video package look at the evolution of Sting’s career and then head to break.
– Back from break and we look back at High Voltage’s huge win over Public Enemy last week. Of course, they had an assist from the Horsemen, but it was still a big win. Tenay says the Championship Committee has taken notice of the win.
7) Amazing French Canadians defeat Steve McMichael & Jeff Jarrett when Jacques pins McMichael after hitting him with the briefcase at 2:57
Col. Parker leads Carl and Jacques out as Mike reminds us that WCW will invade the Molson Center in Montreal later this year. Mongo, Jeff and Debra are out next to a nice little pop. Jacques and Carl grace us with the Canadian National Anthem and then the bell sounds and we are ready to go. Carl grabs a hammerlock but Mongo elbows out and grabs a wristlock. He tags in Jarrett, who comes off the middle rope with an axehandle. Jarrett slugs Jacques off the apron and struts a bit. Jacques comes in and gets nailed by Carl by accident and Mongo comes in and dropkicks Carl out to the floor. Carl comes back in and takes Jarrett down from behind. They hit a double kick and then Jacques slams Carl on top of Jarrett. Jarrett battles back and lands a dropkick. Both men make tags and Mongo lands a pair of clotheslines to both men. He clips Carl as Bobby says that Mike Ditka called Mongo asking him to come back and play for the Saints. Mongo back drops Carl but Public Enemy has come out. They grab the briefcase, but Jarrett tries to fight them off. They turn the tables and Grunge is about to paste Jarrett with the briefcase but Parker runs over and yanks it away. Jarrett fights off both members of Public Enemy while Mongo is beating on the Canadians. Parker hops on the apron and tosses the briefcase to Jacques. He pastes Mongo with it and picks up the upset win. Looks like PE and the Horsemen are now evened up. That match was all sorts of disjointed but the energy was there and it never slowed up. Grade: 1
– Gene hops in the ring and asks Debra if she feels Mongo and Jarrett are protecting her well. She talks about how Public Enemy injured her, breaking two nails. She says nobody should deface the beauty of the beauty queen. She isn’t into gossip, but she found out the only weapon Johnny Grunge has is his bad breath and Rocco only shaved his head because he didn’t know about head lice shampoo. Jarrett wants to talk business and Mongo concurs. He said he has felt the sting of the briefcase again and he saw that Jarrett had it in his hand. Mongo is getting the short end of the stick! Jarrett is sick of being accused of the Horsemen’s downfall but he has been the one holding it all together. Gene cuts them off and we are off to break.
– Back from break and we again look at footage from the closing segment of last week’s show and then we go to the ring for our next match.
8) Diamond Dallas Page defeats Lance Ringo with the Diamond Cutter at 1:56
Mike reminds us that the Savage/Page match on Sunday will be no disqualification and that both Liz and Kimberly will be at ringside. Ringo is standing in the corner reading a magazine as Page enters. Tony and Mike do not think it is a wise move to disrespect Page like this. Ringo keeps reading and Page just smirks about it. Ringo flaunts it in Page’s face and Page smacks him. He hits Ringo with an inverted atomic drop and then takes him over with a back suplex. Ringo rolls to the apron and is able to snap Page’s neck on the top rope. He comes back in with a springboard missile dropkick. Ringo continues to taunt Page but keeps control with a right hand. Page lands a boot and then hoists Ringo into a fireman’s carry and drops him into the Cutter for the win. That was a decent little debut for Ringo as he showed some good personality. Grade: 1
– Gene heads into the ring to talk to Page. DDP has grabbed the magazine and is pacing as Gene talks about Sunday’s PPV. Gene talks about Uncensored and talks about the Playboy magazine that Savage and Liz brought out. Page runs down all of the nude celebrities in the Playboy special and says that Kimberly posed with all of the most beautiful women in the world and they are proud of it. Page is not proud of what Savage did to them at Uncensored. He will never forget Savage grabbing Kim’s head, holding her down and spray painting her. Page is going to snap into Savage’s real world if he wants to get involved in Page’s. And speaking of Macho, he and Liz show up in the crowd. He can answer Page for us, but he wants to ask us a question first. He wants Liz to smarten us up to something. She says that his name is DDP, a/k/a Diamond Dallas Page and the Diamond Doll was Kimberly. The Diamond Cutter is his finisher, but he will never lock it on Savage. His question is…what is Page…a gemologist? As far as Kimberly goes, the Macho Man doesn’t care if Kimberly comes or not, as Spring Stampede, they are all going to see if DDP has any family jewels at all. Savage says that Page has none. Page says they will find out at Spring Stampede and tells him to be sure to bring his bimbo, Liz. If he is bringing the lady, Savage may as well bring the tramp. Savage yells back and we are out to break. I think Savage may have topped the incoherent Piper/Flair promo from earlier.
9) Steiner Brothers defeats High Voltage when Scott pins Rage with the Steiner Screwdriver at 3:32
We are back and set our feature bout of the night. Rick and Scott are out to a nice pop as their opponents await them in the ring. Kaos and Scott start things off and Scott grabs a waistlock. Kaos works out of it but Scott stops him and puts him down with a Pumphandle slam. Mike says that High Voltage remind them of the Steiners from 10 years ago. Rick is tagged in and he hits a big clothesline. He follows with a release German suplex that sends Kaos to the floor. Rick follows, but Rage leaps down and takes him out. They run the side of Rick’s head into the post, hurting Rick’s injured ear. They roll him back in and Kaos works Rick over before tagging in Rage. Rage slingshots in with a guillotine legdrop onto the side of Rick’s head. Rage tags back out and Kaos drops Rick with a neckbreaker for two. Kaos mares Rick over and drops an elbow. Rage tags in but misses a huge springboard moonsault. That was some impressive height. Scott tags in and is all over both men. He takes Kaos over with an overhead belly-to-belly and then puts Rage down with a military press slam. He then scoops Rage up and kills him with the Steiner Screwdriver! Whoa! He gets extra points for busting that bad boy out. That was a fun little power match and High Voltage looked good again. Grade: 2
– Back at the announce table, Tony is running down the Spring Stampede participants, but they are quickly interrupted by Kevin Nash and Syxx. Bobby tries to climb over the table and gets tangled in the cords, providing a funny moment as everyone stands watching him. Nash says he has sat back for two hours and is about to puke. He leans into the camera and says the President has a State of the Union address every few months and it is time for the NWO to do the same. The only difference is that Nash won’t lie. He isn’t sure what is up with the NWO right now, but Nash and Syxx are here. Scott Hall is taking care of business more important than wrestling right now. He says that Hogan, Bischoff, DiBiase and Vincent are out at Rodman’s premier, but Nash and Syxx are here to take care of business. He tells them they better get focused and says he is pissed off and tired of sitting around wasting his time. They don’t want to get him mad because he is the one person in this business who can stand alone. The Steiners win tonight is nothing, but he will be there in Tupelo with or without Scott and will beat them alone if he has to. He then says that all the Napoleons in the back that are too short to get on the adult rides only breathe because he allows it. He threatens to smash the camera and he will fight WCW by himself for as long as he is breathing. Nash and Syxx storm off as we fade out.
Well, that wasn’t the best outing in Nitro history. The matches were all sub par and the promos were all whacked out. Between Piper, Flair, Savage and Nash, there was just a ton if rambling about confusing nonsense and the show just felt unfocused. I will say this though, while the matches may stink, the excitement is always high and the crowd is always fired up so the show is never boring. Also, I like how they cut off segments to go to break as it makes the show feels less scripted and it also feels more real. The other neat thing about Nitro was how random wrestlers from the past or future stars pop up randomly from show to show. You never know which name is going to show up as you watch each week with this week’s blast from the past being Debbie Combs, who looked brutal. Spring Stampede has an interesting card with some good feuds, but the build has been spotty due to some unfocused booking the last two weeks. Hopefully they get things back together after the PPV. Final Grade: C-
MVP: Steiner Brothers
Runner Up: La Parka
Non MVP: Debbie Combs
Runner Up: Ric Flair & Roddy Piper