WCW Nitro, WWF Raw & ECW Hardcore TV from the week of January 19th, 1997 FACE-OFF!!!
WCW Nitro: Savage coming out of the crowd at the outset and taking the show hostage was great. His interplay with Chavo went on way to long, and we'll never know why Alex Wright didnt just attack Savage back with that nightstick he was hiding in his tights. What? Wait... What? Oh, that wasn't a nightstick? It was his erect penis? Oh... Gross. Anyways, Sting's repelling from the rafters entrance is always awesome. The "chess match" between him and Savage was again, just awesome. No words said, so much accomplished. The whole thing could've been shorter, but damn was it good. Plus, the words ass and hell were referred to as the "A-word" and "H-word" respectively, and that too, is awesome.
WWF Raw: Bret Hart whining. Everyone screwed him, yadda yadda. Lame. He quits, which was pretty cool, until we see McMahon give one the worst sell jobs of his career making it abundantly clear (at least to me then and now) Bret was not going to WCW (yet). Austin comes out, and business begins to pick up as they say. He cuts half a promo, before realizing his mic is shot, cuts a promo on the sound guy, then proceeds to go back to page one. Classic Austin promo. Kinda funny that when I saw this when it aired, the look on Vince's face was that of concern. But as I watch it now, I can tell he is listening and watching the whole thing with dollar signs behind his retinas. From this one segment, its abundantly clear the Stone Cold is about to be THE GUY. He was on fire, the crowd is loving him, and he's a heel... And he calls out the Undertaker.
ECW Hardcore TV: Classic open. Joey Styles pointing and screaming "Look out Tommy! BEHIND YOU!!!" was just so kitch I couldn't figure out if it was intended that way or not... Kinda like Tommy Wiseau's The Room. Anyways, apparently everyone hates Tommy Dreamer, as he gets decimated, tossed off the crows nest, given a stretcher job, then attacked AGAIN by someone else! Even the Funker took a bit of a thrashing here. It was definitely entertaining (as much as I hate stretcher jobs) and got the show off with a bang.
Thoughts: Overall, all three shows are off to an excellent start. I really want to see what happens next on all three programs. They all did a fantastic job of diving right in and they were all off and running. This is a very tough call... But...
WINNER: WCW Nitro. Sting and Savage were just great!
HONORABLE MENTION: ECW Hardcore TV. Dreamer getting beat up. Always entertaining.
MEH: WWF Raw. Bret talks too much. Vince uses too much hairspray.
WCW Nitro: We get a month and a half ago recap of Masahiro Chono splitting from Sonny Onoo and joining the NWO, then beating up Chris Jericho. What a dick. Speaking of dicks, Alex Wright is back and here to wrestle the man Chono beat up a month and a half ago, Chris Jericho. [sarcasm]I wonder if Chono is going to make a run-in.[/sarcasm] So they have a fairly good match, albeit quite short. No run-in from Chono or anyone from the NWO, apparently Jericho and Wright aren't really considered threats at this time. Many heartfelt prayers for Jericho having to have Alex Wright's STILL ERECT schlong right in his grill for a number of moves and pinning combinations. Mass teabagging by the German. Jericho wins with a forward roll and a faceful of dick.
WWF Raw: Doug Furnas & Phil LaFon get a shot at Tag champs Owen Hart & Davey Boy Smith. Non-title of course. Surprisingly Furnas & LaFon are in control over Owen early until Bulldog clears house and takes over. This has been quite a decent match this far. We're told Stone Cold will get Undertaker one on one later tonight... Heh, these guys were midcarders once. Aaaaand commercial mid-match.
ECW Hardcore TV: Joey redoes the show open, which was great, then we hear a whistle, and we have Bill Alfonso & Taz! RUN JOEY! RUN! Wow. Tazz needs to have his mouth washed out with soap by his momma pronto. Despite all the cursing (which, lets be serious, is a crutch) he cuts one hell of a promo on pretty much everyone. Sabu, Rob Van Dam, the fans in general, specific individuals in the crowd, you name it. Alfonso is as great as ever, I want to punch my laptop screen every time he whistles still. At points it was tough to figure out what Taz was saying, because it was all getting censored and muted.
Thoughts: We begin to get some separation here as after a bit of talking and gesturing, Raw and Nitro get right into wrestling; and after an opening brawl, its time for some talking on ECW. Nothing stood out as awful, but nothing really jumped out as awesome either.
WINNER: WWF Raw. Great wrestling from an unexpected source.
HONORABLE MENTION: ECW Hardcore TV. Taz and Alfonso we're just great. And the crowd made it so much more awesome.
MEH: WCW Nitro. Alex Wright's penis. 'Nuff said.
WCW Nitro: And its Sting... Err NWO Sting. Walking to the ring... From the entrance ramp... After just leaving through the crowd. Or was that the other Sting? My head hurts already. His opponent? Scotty Riggs. M'kay. And we're off! I love how much they shill WCW Saturday Night... Think about Cole with the WWE App, and multiply that by 4 Don Wests. Riggs pulls out a dropkick, the place goes nuts, Scotty thinks its for him... But no, Buff Bagwell is posing in the aisleway. He is flanked by the NWO Black & White Sub-Elite Goon Squad, Version 1.0. Riggs runs away and bails into the crowd. He is announced the winner by DQ, but Penzer is pressured to announce Sting as the winner... Err... NWO Sting... Even now its damn confusing.
WWF Raw: We're back... And La Femme Nikita will be on next, suh-weet! "Doug Furnas will not quit! He will not quit!" (Jim Ross, 1997). Lafon gets a Slammy Award... TO THE FACE! Bulldog with the powerslam and its academic. Very good match, and a great outing for Furnas & Lafon. I never remember them ever looking as good as they did here. Then we get a recap of Shawn Michaels 'hometown' entrance at the Royal Rumble the night before to plug the PPV replay... And right to the Nation... Of Domination... And we are suburban white kids... With our fists in the air... And we look plumb ridiculous... And we have Faarooq... And today I learned there's two 'A's in Faarooq... And his opponent... Future Brawl For It All "Winner" Bart Gunn. [sarcasm]This should be good.[/sarcasm] We are underway and after some back and forth, the Cowboy takes control early... And we go to commercial.
ECW Hardcore TV: Commercial for November to Remember 96. Only shows the Sabu/Tazz faceoff before their match with the crowd (and Alfonso) going apeshit. Looks fucking awesome. I want to watch that show right now. 1-900-990-4ECW... Will there be a ECW PPV in 1997? Man I should call. We have the Eliminators coming out to defend their Tag Titles against D'von Dudley and.... Axl Rotten? Alrighty. Taz is on commentary with Joey and does quite a good job. The Eliminators are pure precision and look fantastic as per status quo. D'von's looks good and Axl looks thin-ish. That's about all I can really say about Axl here, although he did whip out a Dominator on Kronus... And eat a sick Total Elimination. Eliminators bow to their lord Taz and leave with their belts.
Thoughts: Everyone's is trucking along giving us quality TV. WWF wrapped up a great tag team match and went right into the next match. WCW gave us Sting-ish in an honestly alright match, and we got our first NWO run-in. Although it was the goon squad led by Bagwell (and I did catch Virgil in there) it was the NWO. And ECW, well, a fairly good match that Im mostly glad didnt get stopped 30 seconds in for a commercial.
WINNER: ECW Hardcore TV. Perhaps Im bias... But I love the Eliminators. Even though Axl Rotten was involved here, this segment was full of win.
HONORABLE MENTION: WWF Raw. A finish to a very good match. A really cool spot to sell the PPV replay, and we're non-stop right into another match... And right back to commercial. I know they did it to attempt to keep us tuned in, but its freaking annoying and the main reason WWF Raw doesn't have the word "winner" to the left of it above.
MEH: WCW Nitro. I was a major minority. I never really got in to the NWO storyline. It was cool in parts, but overall, even as a teenager then, I thought it was overplayed bigtime, even early on. And really... Who cares about Buff Bagwell? Or Scotty Riggs for the matter? Or 3/4 of the NWO? No one. Ever. And why? Why does Buff and the NWO Black & White Sub-Elite Goon Squad, Version 1.0 have an issue with Riggs? Didnt he eventually become a member? Didn't everybody? I dunno. Oh yeah, Sting was in this match, or a Sting, or... Whatever, this whole thing hugged the root.
WCW Nitro: Ric Flair is with Blackhawk player Bob "What a Name!" Probert who cuts a short promo on the NWO how he can't be in town tonight to beat them up, but one day he will... Im sure Hogan wet his pants in fear upon hearing as such. Speaking of Flair... Horsemen Time! Its Arn Anderson and Mongo. Paul Roma is underrated, Mongo is the worst Horseman ever, Roma is only 2nd worst. They're set to face Eddie Guererro & Jeff Jarrett. You read that correctly. What is this, Battlebowl? Jarrett is wearing that ridiculous gear that looks like he's wearing 6 sets of suspenders. Anderson makes a hot tag (well, very cold tag, but a tag) to Mongo, and we get the POP OF THE NIGHT. The arena explodes for the former Chicago Bear, who honestly works just like a lunky former football player would in this situation. Just as Jarrett is gaining momentum, Guerrero bails on him and Anderson spinbusters and proceeds to bend the shit outta Jarrett. Debra throws in the towel for Jarrett... BUT SHE'S WITH MONGO?!?!?! And we've got dissent... And we're straight to Mean Gene on the ramp to introduce the Nature Boy WHOOOOOOO Ric Flair. He is joined by the rest of the horseman including Woman and that one guy, the crippler something or other. Flair acknowledges "the horseman aren't what they were in the past" (Ric "Derp" Flair, 1997) So its becoming quite clear Mongo is about to get booted from the group and he turns his back to them (strike 1) to cut an awful awful promo (strike 2), and to heel the crowd when they boo his girl (strike 3). Mongo could't sell me a pepperoni pizza, and I really like pizza.
WWF Raw: Back from commercial and Faarooq is taking care of Gunn. PG-13. Oh my they were so awful and fantastic at the same time... Awftastic? Faarooq loves his sleeper hold... And hates gravity as he comes off the top and drives himself (with Gunn's assistance) face first like a sack of bricks to the mat. Gunn gets distracted by the Nation members on the outside... We have a Dominator from Faaaaaa(too many?)rooq, which looked honestly nowhere near as good as Axl Rotten's, and a pinfall. On the entrance ramp, Vince and Gorilla Monsoon blaze right by the Nation and Bart Gunn to head to the ring. Not even a head nod, didnt even look at 'em did Gorilla or Vince. No wonder Austin hated them so much. Can't even look their
employees independent contractors in the face. Anyways, we're going to find out what major announcement they have... After these commercials.
ECW Hardcore TV: Styles welcomes us back and we go to Shane Douglas coming back out and declaring a bounty on Bubba Ray & Pitbull #2 (who were apparently having a match to see who would face him). Everyone fails... Until Candido and Brian Lee get involved. Lee chokeslams Pitbull #2 from the ring through a table on the outside... Pitbull no sells, until Douglas gives him a side armbreaker to the remains of the table and THAT will keep Pitbull #2 down. Douglas yells a bunch about how there's no one left to take Dreamer's slot... Stretcher for Pitbull #2 and that's two already tonight. Im beginning to wonder if Paul struck an ad placement deal with the stretcher company.
Thoughts: Still nothing anywhere really outright was terrible. Mongo walked the line, but still passes the smell test. Unintentionally Ive said more complimentary things about Axl Rotten in the last little bit here than I have my entire life prior. That should hopefully result in some good karma for me. I have a powerball ticket tonight.
WINNER: WCW Nitro. The recently acquired Jeff Jarrett (who was really pretty good at this point), Eddie Guerrero & Arn Anderson in the same match. Can't really go wrong. The promo after the match built interest despite Mongo's (and I was trying not to type his name anymore) best efforts against it. WCW takes this segment by a hair.
HONORABLE MENTION: ECW Hardcore TV: Really shows us what kind of a supreme asshole Douglas is, and the lengths he will go through to skirt a fight. Love it. The chokeslam spot could've been really something awesome of PItbull #2 didnt jump right up like his alarm clock just went off and he's late for the first day of school.
MEH: WWF Raw. Nothing was bad or anything. WCW and ECW just have them licked this segment.
WCW Nitro: We get a recap of an Eric Bischoff/NWO interview that was shown on WCW Saturday Night. And by recap, I mean we see the whole thing. A Hogan vs. Piper feud in 1997? What is this 19-87?! The camcorder Liz is holding to film Eric is the size of his head. Imagine how cool these NWO interview/promo things could've been if shot by a GoPro. And we apparently have a title match in the ring as "The Ultimate Dragon" defends his Cruiserweight title against Dean Malenko. Clash of Champions live on TBS tomorrow. Tuesday night wrestling... Awesome. This match was everything you'd expect that these two could do in only four minutes time. Nonstop action, everything was fluid and crisp, I could really watch either of these guys (especially Malenko) wrestle for days. Ultimo with a top rope hurracuranna and we get a "WHATTAMANEUVER!" After his victory via rollup, the apparently newly dubbed "The UltimO Dragon" celebrates.
WWF Raw: Vince and Gorilla are in the ring. I wonder what Monsoon is going to say about where Austin said he was going to shove a bunch of bananas. Wow, was Monsoon fair and balanced or what? Ive never liked authority figures as a tangible character on my wrestling show, but if I had to pick a favorite, it would be Gorilla (closely followed by Raw Commissioner Foley). And here comes Austin... And he looks pissed. At least his mic works this time. Wow. Whattapromo! Basically he told Gorilla to go fuck himself in so many words. And Bret returns... Apparently forgot his wallet or something... Oh nope, he de-quits. He whined, took his ball and left until he got what he wanted. That heel. Bret and Austin brawl on the outside and Bret gets the better of him before we're rushed off to Freddie Blassie in a commercial selling something WWF related probably.
ECW Hardcore TV: A bloody Terry Funk comes out to ringside to wrestle Brian Lee. Can't say I've ever considered this pairing. We get our pre-match introductions as Styles let's us know this is the beginning of Terry's 'One last ride'. And before we get underway, they got merch to shill and seats which need to be filled by butts.
Thoughts: Still running strong with three quality shows. Im beginning to find a lot of eerie similarities between this episode of Nitro and this week's episode of Raw. A lot of odd choices that didn't seem to work when WCW did them and why WWE does them now is beyond me.
WINNER: WWF Raw. Winners by default. The segment got over Austin more, brouhgt Hart back and set up the main event for not only that evening, but for the upcoming PPV. I said it before, but it bears repeating... You can definitely see Austin really beginning to catch steam with his character and the audience this show.
HONORABLE MENTION: WCW Nitro. Should have won. The Dragon/Malenko match was fantastic and the best thing Ive seen yet between all thre shows. However, had I been watching this live, I wouldn't have seen the match (or at least most of it) as I would have long gone channel surfing during that insanely long-winded "recap" interview and probably not clicked back in time. The first major thumbs down for tonight was that Bischoff/NWO promo, luckily it was paired with such a great match.
MEH: ECW Hardcore TV. No fault of their own. Brief segment. Not much going on besides ring announcements. And unless you really, really, REALLY like Bob Artese (at least thats who I think that was), you could've missed this and missed nothing at all.
WCW Nitro: The second hour begins. And we get our first hour recap at the announce desk with Tenay, Schiavone & Zybysko. And then we get to see everything that happened with Macho Man and Sting (or one of the Stings) at the beginning of the show. Again, a recap, that is a replay. We're there THAT many people that didn't watch the first hour on a weekly basis that all this needed repeating to the extent they're reviewing it? Somehow Alex Wright's penis got more TV time in the 2nd hour too. In fact its gotten more TV time tonight than most of the NWO combined so far. Finally we go to the ring. Lord Steve Regal defending the honor of the Good Ol USA and his TV title against the evil French Canadian... The Non-Quintessential Qubecois... Jacques Rougeau. Regal retains via DQ when Kim-Chee, err, Colonel Robert Parker interferes. I think this match may have gone a minute... Tops.
WWF Raw: Austin's still in the ring and Hart is trying to get at him still from ringside... And here's the deadman... Who is brawling with Hart in the aisleway... And here comes Austin to get Taker... And here we go. [sarcasm]How come no one yelled "Old School" when Taker did the rope walk?[/sarcasm] So weird that King is all about Austin and JR is not. "Go for the ribs! The ribs Austin the ribs!" Who do you think you are King, Burgess Meredith? Austin with a stunner, and in the back now Bret and Vader are getting into it. Kinda cool all four guys in contention for the title are fighting tooth and nail for it... Its all about the gold, first, foremost, and only. Not something we see very often anymore.
ECW Hardcore TV: Legend versus the bulldozer. Here we go... Into the crowd. Theoretically, Funk shouldn't stand a chance here as in reality, this fight would be over in a minute. Good thing this shit's fake, for Terry's sake. Only can Terry Funk make chairshots to the knee look sick as hell. PILEDRIVER!!! And Terry's right back up. Odd to say, but although he's been basically kicking the shit out Funk the whole time, Brian Lee is holding his own. Funk is just amazing. To get Lee up (and down safely) with a piledriver through a chair on the floor, and not kill the guy is jaw-flooring. Its sad that when people think of ECW now, this is the only kind of match they think about and not all the other 90% of ECW that made it great. Blood and chairs... ECW ECW ECW! Funk with an EXTREME teabag on Lee. Table doesn't break. Shocked, I thought Funk's nuts wouldve busted right through that. Lee tossing that table right on Funk was an awesome visual, as was him putting Funk through it. [sarcasm]Chokeslam from the ring through a table on the outside... No dq... Not even a warning?![/sarcasm] That was way better and far more entertaining than I could've thought it to be. Post-match promo by Lee and the resulting reply by Funk was downright riveting. Lee was 100% solid and believable and Terry sold it like a million bucks. Funk is a legend and I saw something in Brian Lee Id never seen before.
Thoughts: The Nitro '97/Raw '14 similarities are more and more. Scary. Ive had it with the replays. Are our collective attention span's that fucking short that we need a full replay of everything that happened only 45 minutes or 15 minutes prior? Apparently so.
WINNER: ECW Hardcore TV. Very good match with a great brawl and excellent psychology, and a emmy award caliber post-match hullabaloo. Winner by lengths.
HONORABLE MENTION: WWF Raw. Austin and Taker are having a really good matchup and all the tension surrounding the impending 4-way for the show at HBK between all four participants is boiling over in a very entertaining way. If only Terry Funk wasn't a walking god and WWF would've won the segment.
MEH: WCW Nitro. Replays and replays. Then a match that didnt even have a chance to get going before it was unceremoniously over. To top it off, it was a freaking title match. Forget meh, this segment was all fail.
WCW Nitro: Remember the 1-800-COLLECT Road Report? Remember 1-800-COLLECT? Kevin Sullivan is out to face his opponent for tomorrow night's fall count anywhere brawl, in a "preview" match. Despite supposing to be a "regular" match. Its not even 2 minutes, and we're in the Men's room. And so is Woman... And I bet someone in back thought that would be funny. Honestly, this is a fantastic brawl as ridiculous as it sounds. Now they're in the ring and we're underway. Benoit just got out of the Tree of [joeylawrence]Whoa![/joeylawrence] just like that. Why is he like the only wrestler ever to figure out how to get out of that predicament? Sick finish when Benoit headbutts a ring bell from the top. The bell rang on contact and everything. Great setup for a great feud and what should be a great match on tomorrow's show.
WWF Raw: Austin controlled Taker through the break and is still in control. Just as Taker starts to comback, Vader hits the spot... The Bret.... And now all four guys are fighting. Hart and Austin... Taker and Vader. This is great! Austin tries to bail and Hart goes after him. Obviously this is a dq somewhere. Vader's out. Bret and Austin still brawling at ringside as Taker stands tall in the ring. "What a Raw!" (Jim Ross, 2007)
ECW Hardcore TV: I don't know what it was. But Joel Gertner invited us the hype machine, said he had a hair out of place, then combed his chest hair. Im not sure how I feel about it. We're back with Joey Styles who breaks it all down. Even ECW wasn't immune from the recap bug. This was a half hour ago Joey, we know already, we know, we were there. Douglas takes out Finnegan (I believe) with the mic. Made one loud ka-thunk. Hard not to laugh. Shane calls out anyone... A guy in a nice Dockers sweater and lucha mask (El Santo's Executive Assistant?) comes out and he's cutting Douglas a new one on the mic. Oh shit its Pitbull #1!!! Douglas is screwed! Pitbull is killing Douglas and the crowd goes nuts as the show apparently comes to an end (or at least the copy Im watching does). Holy crap.
Thoughts: For the two shows that ended this segment the wrapped everything up with a nice and tidy bow, but a bow laced with crack cocaine that is going to keep you coming back for more. Nitro on the other hand is still trucking along, but their segment had a similar purpose and goal to accomplish, and like their counterparts, succeeded in spades.
WINNER(S): Tie. WCW Nitro. WWF Raw. ECW Hardcore TV. Nitro wants me to watch Clash of Champions tomorrow (if this were of course, 17 years ago). This segment they wanted to sell me on Benoit versus Sullivan, falls count anywhere. They sold me ten. Raw wants to make sure not only I watch the show next week, but also buy the upcoming In Your House PPV. Not only can't I wait to see these four guys clash for a shot at the gold, a shot a couple of them already deserve, but what the heck is going to happen in the meantime and will they all make it to the PPV. ECW left us with dual cliffhangers... Whose the man in the mask? And just how badly is Pitbull going to destroy Shane Douglas... And can he get that damned gold away from him? Definitely need to watch next week, or shit, go to the show even.
-So this is what was left on Nitro. The NWO A-Team made an appearance and take over the announce booth. And we got a "preview of Souled Out". What a shitty preview. Crap announcing, and Nick Patrick. Duggan beat Carl Oulette after the Steiners (why?) took out Oulette. DDP talked with Mean Gene... Is he going to join the NWO? Yes? No? Who cares? He did by the way. Chono beat Dave Taylor, who I do not believe knows what a squire is. Taylor got in a LOT of offense here, then Chono slapped an STF on, and that was it. Scott Hall made his Nitro wrestling debut against Booker T which honestly was the best match on the show (yep better than Dragon/Malenko), albeit quite short, but that's the norm. And Luger beat Stevie Ray. I thought it then, and I think it now, the torture rack is the WORST submission finisher in professional wrestling history. Kinda funny almost all the guys fighting against the NWO tonight ended up eventually being part of it. Hogan runs down Big Show, erp, the Giant, till he's had enough and runs from the back... The show goes off the air as we all scramble to the prodigy chatroom to wait till someone gets home from the show to tell everyone if Giant got his hands on Hogan or not. Nitro was famous for these types of endings, and I can't blame them. They worked, and they rocked.
OVERALL THOUGHTS: A lot of people who refer to the era as the "Golden Age of Wrestling" have a plethora of hard evidence to support their claims of such. Across the board with few exceptions, all three companies delivered a more than quality TV show that not only kept my interest, but also piqued it for future episodes. Overall Id say I enjoyed watching WWF Raw the most. Each segment flowed mostly seamlessly to the next and the episode seemed to breeze right by. ECW Hardcore TV is a close second, and WCW Nitro just slightly behind them. Not everything was great, but its rarely going to be that way
Comparatively, based solely off these episodes... Today's WWE product is most similar in production, style, content, and delivery to WCW Nitro. TNA to how WWF did Raw. And (least surprisingly) ROH to ECW, which are nearly carbons of each other in these respects.
Last edited by WhoBetta on Thu Jan 23, 2014 1:23 am; edited 4 times in total