Date: December 28, 1997
Location: MCI Center, Washington, D.C.
Commentators: Eric Bischoff, Dusty Rhodes, Mike Tenay
This is a show that I’ve wanted to do for a very long time so instead of just sitting around waiting to get there, I’m doing it because I feel like it. I’ve long since argued and I’ll forever argue that this is the show that ultimately ended WCW. At this point, WWF had nothing on WCW and everyone knew it. Austin was fast on the rise, but no one was watching.
For 18 months WCW had built up to this one show. The NWO had dominated and in particular Hogan had been virtually unbeatable. Tonight was WCW’s night. Tonight was WCW’s chance for revenge as they would win back everything and Sting would make his long awaited return to the ring and win the world title from Hogan. Let’s get to how they managed to blow the biggest lead in wrestling history and allow themselves to be mortally wounded to the point where they could never recover.
Also, this is going to be commentary heavy, so if you’re not a fan of me going on rants and putting a lot of my opinion into things, you might not want to read this one.
Just to give you a bit of backstory and context here, WCW was at its absolute peak. This show drew a 1.9 buyrate, which is completely insane for PPV of any kind. They had come up with a second show called Thunder which would debut in I think eleven days, a year and 8 months before Smackdown became a regular show. Nitro also hadn’t lost in the ratings for a little over a year at this point, so to say WCW was dominating would be an understatement.
The opening video is one of my all time favorites as we see shadows of Hogan’s dominance and then Sting watching down at him the entire time. Sting rises up but you can barely see him as he’s all covered in rain and shadows. They’re in the ruins of some building which I guess could be used as an allegory for WCW being ruined but then again I might be looking too much into this. The arena looks great and Tony’s hype is absolutely right here. He claims over 24,000 people but I can’t find an estimate over 18,000. We immediately hear about the referee being a controversy, which should make everyone realize that this isn’t going to end well.
A bunch of WCW guys are in the audience to see the show. I like that actually. It also does well to show us who isn’t good enough to get on the biggest show of the year, such as Rey, Harlem Heat and Disco Inferno. Dusty goes on a rant about horses or something but gets cut off. Oh and Kevin Nash isn’t here for the 2nd biggest match on the card. No reason was ever given other than he didn’t want to lose so he didn’t show up. He was never punished or anything and the match just isn’t going to happen.
Cruiserweight Title: Dean Malenko vs. Eddie Guerrero
Dean is VERY popular here and was just totally awesome at this point having won the fan poll this year as the best wrestler in the world. That’s saying a lot. This is the first event at the arena which is brand new. This should be awesome. This feels like a huge show like it should. Crowd is WHITE hot too. Surprisingly enough Dean starts by just throwing punches and Eddie is in trouble early on. The crowd is all over Eddie and once he gets powerbombed the fans cheer so loudly you can’t hear Dusty.
I can’t get over these fans being this hot. They’re cheering for very basic stuff. That’s a very great sign as we have a standoff between the two guys. Dean dominates and sends Eddie to the outside. Tony: “Eddie being on the outside like this makes me think of the Outsiders and how Kevin Nash isn’t here tonight.” WOW. That’s the kind of commentary I have to deal with here. It was like that for about three years straight.
Mike suggests that working on Malenko’s legs would negate the Cloverleaf. Wouldn’t that be the arms actually? Tony goes back to Nash and Hogan/Sting just to make sure we don’t leave during the PPV I guess. I’ve always hated this. The fans chant USA for two American guys. I guess they like them both. Dean launches Eddie WAY into the air, prompting Dusty to stop talking about the Hogan/Sting referee for a full half second. Eddie kisses Dean’s foot to prevent being beaten so he gets a dropkick for his efforts.
Dean wins a test of strength and gets Eddie’s hands all the way to the mat and then stomps on him. Then he kicks Eddie in the face. I love that move. When all else fails, KICK THEM IN THE FREAKING FACE! Eddie gets it to the floor and works on Dean’s knee with the post and the steps. He gets a nice powerbomb as we continue to ignore the action in the ring which is a good match so far.
Both guys go for top rope moves at the same time in a weird spot but neither gets it. Dean has a sweet powerbomb. Cloverleak is blocked because of the bad knee. A missile dropkick to the knee sets up the Frog Splash onto the knee for the pin to retain. Sweet blessed psychology there but uh, yeah the crowd being white hot for Malenko should have been a hint for that. Great match though.
Rating: A-. GREAT match here as there was psychology throughout and both guys worked very hard out there. Dean was nothing short of divine in 97 and this was a great way to cap off the year, even though e didn’t get the title. These two never were able to have a bad match and this was one of their better ones ever. I loved this and would love to see more of them fighting.
Oddly enough I can’t find a review of this that’s anywhere above average. Really? I loved it.
And here’s Scott Hall. He has a tag title belt on him but the Steiners are the champions at this point I believe. Ah yes they were. Hall says that they’re taking a survey and the crowd is NWO so of course Tony says it was WCW. Hall says that Nash isn’t here tonight and that we need a referee so that Giant can be declared the winner.
Giant of course comes up behind him and (wearing a ponytail of all things) says Nash can’t run forever and he’ll get his chance eventually. That’s true as he would get his match the next month and Nash would botch a jackknife on him and mess up his neck for awhile. Hall punches him a bit and then gets his head kicked in for his trouble. Giant Jackknifes him and leaves. Yeah this wasn’t a match for some reason. No reason was ever given for it but whatever.
So the real story is that Giant was supposed to go over Nash and Nash kept saying there was no way he’d do it. On the day of the show he called up and said he was having a heart attack. Everyone laughed when they heard the news. What does that tell you about this? Naturally he was fine the next night and was never punished. Things like that are what hurt WCW later as there was no discipline at all and no one cared.
Vincent/Scott Norton/Konnan Vs. Steiner Brothers/Ray Traylor
There’s no Konnan for some reason. The Steiners are the tag champions and managed by DiBiase. Traylor was the first guy the NWO had jumped so he later joined them. They threw him out and he had been trying to get revenge since. Scott would join the NWO in like two months anyway so this didn’t mean much. The replacement is Randy Savage, making the ending of this pretty obvious.
His entrance takes forever as he gets in an argument with the WCW guys who are taking up front row seats all over the ringside area. Randy vs. Scott Steiner start us off which would be a dream match three years later. And hey we stall some more. Savage lays on the rope as we’ve had a tie up over the course of the first two minutes here. Oh look it’s Vincent on the biggest show of the year.
Norton hits a Samoan Drop on the other Scott as Steiner is getting dominated here. The faces send them running and the NWO is in trouble. Rick vs. Norton gives us something interesting as the power of Norton is pretty awesome. And now we have Vincent vs. Big Boss Man on the biggest show of 1997. Why am I watching this again? Scott comes in and I get to see the spinning belly to belly that I use on No Mercy and Wrestlemania 2000. The crowd is virtually dead here by the way.
We hear about how great Vincent is as I shake my head at how much they push these jobbers at times. There is no heat for this match at all, meaning of course they give it even more time than they should have. Rick comes in off the should be hot tag to clean some trailer. Vincent takes their top rope DDT to end….nothing. Oh I don’t like where this is going.
Frankensteiner continues his slaughtering but Savage makes the save. Scott destroys the NWO as his singles push continues. Norton grabs him and hits an electric chair so Savage can hit the elbow to an ERUPTION to give the NWO the lead so far. So yeah the tag champions jobbed to Vincent and Scott Norton. That’s ok though as it was a six man so him getting pinned clean means nothing right?
Rating: D. Oh this was boring. Vincent and Scott Norton got the majority of the heel ring time and it was all downhill from there. This was an awful match and nothing ever came from it at all. The Steiners jobbing is DUMB as it’s not like the heels gain anything from winning. So in other words we’re over fifty minutes into this show and the high point for the faces is a chokeslam on a replacement in a non-match.
James J. Dillon, the commissioner or whatever comes out and announces Nick Patrick as the referee. And there ends WCW’s run on top, but we’ll get to that later on. Gene says String returns tonight as we’re in arts and crafts class now I suppose.
Bill Goldberg vs. Steve McMichael
Goldberg is a heel here and means nothing at all. He has the music and the finishers but other than that he’s got nothing. Anyone he beats at this point is pretty much a surprise here, but in less than seven months a lot would change as he would beat Hogan for the title. This feud is over a Super Bowl Ring I think. They go at it in the aisle and the fans love it. Ok just stretch with me on this one.
In a slightly funny moment Goldberg just lifts him up and carries him to the ring. Hey we have a bell! There’s a table set up at ringside. Sweet goodness Mongo was terrible. We hear the football careers and Dusty of course insists Mongo is better and that the SEC isn’t real football. Oh that’s amusing. Goldberg gets a leg lock and sweet goodness Mongo is awful at selling at this point.
Some fans seem to get into a fight at ringside which is the more interesting thing here. Spear hits but means nothing at this point. Goldberg sets a table at ringside which goes nowhere so far. The more famous of these two busts out a decent dropkick and Mongo is in trouble again. He goes through the table in something completely boring and uneventful.
There’s that ECW chant again. Tombstone doesn’t work because of his back hurting and the Jackhammer ends it. Hey we’re only an hour in so far without a face winning. That doesn’t mean anything as the main events are all that matter right? It’s still amazing to think what Goldberg would become in just a few months.
Rating: D. Another boring match here as Mongo was just AWFUL. He never did get any good and rightfully became the jobber that he should have been. His career was about over at this point and no one cared. He was put into the college football hall of fame recently so to get as far as he did is saying something I guess, although I’m not sure if it’s a good thing or a bad thing.
Raven is here for his match vs. Benoit.
Chris Benoit vs. Raven
Raven has been ducking Benoit forever and this is where they finally have their showdown. Raven says he’s not wrestling tonight so Saturn is taking his place. That’s false advertisement number two.
Perry Saturn vs. Chris Benoit
And the Radicalz explode AGAIN! Saturn is just a tough guy here and more or less completely insane. I love that simple vest Benoit wore. That was always awesome. Benoit gets a mic and…..yeah he should go with the silent but violent thing. This is under Raven’s Rules so more or less anything goes here. Saturn has some hair here and to say it looks weird is an understatement.
The Flock comes over the railing and that goes nowhere at all. Even Sick Boy (how awesome of a name is that) is here. Kidman throws in a Shooting Star to put Benoit in trouble. Saturn mostly hits a nice moonsault and it’s all the less famous one. The genius fans chant USA. Maybe they just like Saturn better? The fans look up at something else which has to be a record for the most times in such a little span of time.
Dang Raven looks like garbage. I think that’s just how he always looks. We hit the floor and Benoit gets a Crossface out of nowhere but the Flock jumps him. It’s Raven’s Rules though so this is all fine and dandy. HUGE diving headbutt hits and the Flock runs in again. Raven comes in but more interference causes Benoit to take a DDT. Rings of Saturn and it’s over. Benoit vs. Raven would be at Souled Out and would be a solid brawl.
Rating: C-. Kind of slow but the violence helped it a lot here. This was more to set up Benoit vs. Raven….which should have happened here at the BIGGEST SHOW OF THE YEAR but whatever. This was something that happened more than once I thought so of course we just do it again at the equivalent of Mania. This was a decent enough match though.
Buff Bagwell vs. Lex Luger
This is more or less a grudge match and remember that Luger was WORLD CHAMPION four months ago. Bagwell has beaten him three times in a row apparently. So you remember that white hot crowd that you could have fried an egg on to start the show? It’s long gone and has been placed by this….whatever. Tony reminds us that Luger was world champion earlier this year.
Bagwell’s facial hair looks like it’s painted on. Bret Hart gets his SECOND reference of the night so far as he’s the former WWF Champion (Montreal was maybe 6 weeks before this) and he’s a referee tonight. Yeah….no room on the card for him when we have VINCENT BABY! We begin making Montreal allusions which should be a telling sign.
Luger beats him up for awhile and puts him on the floor. Bagwell gets Vincent to come back down as we get our second appearance by this guy which is about two too many. He gets rammed into the post and doesn’t come within a foot of it. Wow that looked awful. We talk about Sting vs. Hogan for the 983rd time so far just to mix things up a bit. More interference causes Bagwell to take over again.
By the way we are now an hour and a half into this show and no face has won all night and the NWO is undefeated so far. We hit the chinlock just to waste some time. When I say some time that apparently means about three straight minutes. Make that five minutes. My goodness I know these guys aren’t the best in the world but this is ridiculous.
Luger makes his standard comeback and calls for the Rack. Instead of course he hits an atomic drop. Vincent comes in again but Luger beats the heck out of him. Bagwell rams Luger into the referee and say it with me: there’s no referee for the Rack. Savage runs in and gets racked too. Now Norton runs out and hits Luger with a chain and Bagwell gets the pin.
There’s an hour to go in this tape and the NWO is undefeated and the faces haven’t won a single match. There would be a rematch the next night where Luger would freaking massacre him. That of course couldn’t happen here though. Finally, THIS is the longest match of the show at just under 17 minutes. Liz comes down to check on Savage.
Rating: F+. Buff Bagwell vs. Lex Luger went 17 minutes. Add in the idiotic booking and too much Vincent and of course this is awful on a stick. Just a boring match too with a 5 minute chinlock. This was supposed to be Buff’s big match to make him a big deal, but taking three guys and getting crushed the next night kind of makes that pointless so whatever.
US Title: Curt Hennig vs. Diamond Dallas Page
Hennig turned NWO at Fall Brawl after slamming Flair’s head in a cage door. Everyone has wanted to kill him since. He had been DDP’s mystery partner at a PPV and had kind of turned on him there too. Page stole the belt last night but had to give it back off camera, making that entirely pointless too. Page is ridiculously popular here and possibly the second biggest face in the company. He’s also a lot better in the ring now too after a ton of practice and a great series with Savage earlier in the year.
Page gets a rollup like 4 seconds in for two. Page dominates early as Hennig runs. We’re told DDP has never held a major title, meaning the TV Title means nothing and must be a minor title. I’ve always wanted one of those. Page likes headlocks a lot. Dusty suggests starting the Sting World Order. Oh my head hurts. Dusty: “I haven’t seen any titles change hands on the outside. Except where falls count anywhere.”
The fans chant USA, likely because their boredom has brought them to that point. We hit a chinlock and the fans decide this is boring. I can’t say I disagree here at all either. Page hits a plancha after a lot of punches. We’re going into the crowd which actually cares a bit here after nearly 2 hours. Diamond Cutter is blocked and the fans are cheering for it like Orton gets cheered for the RKO.
We do a bunch of near falls for no apparent reason which gets us nowhere. And out of nowhere the Diamond Cutter ends this. With 45 minutes left in the show, WCW wins its first match and the faces win their first match. The fans pop loudly for it, but the ending came a bit flat.
Rating: D+. Not great but again this could have been SO much better. For one thing, the match should have been Flair and not DDP. There were a lot of dead spots here and those are what really bring this one down. DDP would hold the title for about four months so at least he got a solid reign out of it. I still can’t get over how long it’s taken to get a win for the fans here.
Bret Hart is here. There’s no pyro, no special entrance, no special announcement, no anything like that. He just showed up and is the referee for the next match. I can’t imagine a lot of people will ever get what they were thinking with Bret.
Eric Bischoff vs. Larry Zbyszko
If Eric wins, the NWO gets Nitro and if Larry wins he gets Hall at Souled Out. Eric booked himself into the second main event at the biggest show of the year. There was an NWO Nitro on Monday where the show just went down the drain as it took about 20 minutes to set up the NWO stage. The ratings switched incredibly fast and it was great.
Larry gets a nice pop and comes out to the Nitro theme. This match was reaired for free on the debut Thunder so I’ve done it before but in a different context. Ok so the show has been horrible so far other than the opener but we have 40 minutes left and the two matches that mean anything to go. For the final rating I’m going to put next to zero stock in the first match as the final match is probably about 99% of this show’s importance and value.
Bret even checks them both for hidden objects. Fans are ENTIRELY behind Larry here. Larry looks in decent shape and had just turned 44 earlier in the month. They even call this mixed martial arts. Oh give me a break. Bischoff, a karate guy, keeps trying to land kicks and Larry keeps trying to grab him so at least they’re playing to their own strengths.
I can’t believe Bret Hart is refereeing this 6 weeks after being WWF Champion. Eric gets a kick and down goes Larry for a second or so. Larry just goes off on him and takes him down so Bret pulls him off. Bret breaks up another one as we enter Bill Alfonso in 95 territory. Bret is following the rules to perfection but the fact that he’s doing so is making people think something is up. It’s amazing how basic stuff like that can be. It made Fonzie the most hated man in ECW history. What does that tell you?
Tony declares Bret NWO and uses the word tweener. Eric gets a kick in and Larry is in trouble. Bischoff just unloads on Larry with everything he’s got and Larry covers up. It’s Rope-A-Dope time as Eric is just spent and Larry just stands up. As my dear old Aunt Petunia used to say, IT’S CLOBBERIN TIME! He hooks Eric up in the Tree of Woe, and then things just completely fall apart.
Bret pulls Larry back and is LOOKING AT ERIC in the corner. Hall loads up Eric’s boot with a piece of metal. Bischoff throws a kick at Larry and the metal flies out in mid kick. The kick hits Larry barely on the arm and Bret looks at the metal object as it flies out of the shoe. Larry of course sells like he’s been shot and just lays there while Bischoff celebrates. Eric turns to Bret to celebrate and gets popped in the jaw for his troubles, securing Bret as being WCW and getting the fans to cheer for the first time in a good while.
Hall gets beaten up and down by taking a Sharpshooter. Seriously, WHY IS BRET NOT WRESTLING HERE? You couldn’t throw him out there in a squash match at least? Larry chokes out Bischoff with a belt or something and Bret raises his hand as the winner, I guess by DQ for the foot thing? Tony and Tenay talk about how they can have Nitro because WCW wins this match. Yeah that’s why they spent over two hours talking about how important this match was.
Rating: F. The best move of this was a terrible vertical suplex. Larry did what he could, but there’s a reason why Bischoff shouldn’t have been in this: HE ISN’T A WRESTLER. This is fine for something like Nitro, but think about this for a minute. This is Starrcade and it’s the next to last match. At Mania 17 this would have been Taker vs. HHH. At the 89 Bash this was a War Games match. And this is a guy that’s been retired about 4 years vs. an announcer. Like I said, Larry tried but there was too much to overcome here. Just a freaking joke.
And here we are. To put it mildly, this show has been horrible so far. Nothing has made sense and the fans are rightfully pissed off about things. There has been one good match and one match with logical booking (US Title). However, literally none of that matters at this point as this upcoming match is at least 95% of the value of this show. Think Mania 6 and the main event. Nothing else on the card mattered and nothing else here does either. This show is about Sting vs. Hogan and nothing more.
Given that this is the biggest match in WCW history, some backstory might help a bit. Granted WCW doesn’t think you need it but since the entire planet was watching this show in their eyes I guess that makes sense. Back in the fall of 1996, the NWO was running rampant. Sting was on a tour of Japan and therefore wasn’t at Nitro that night. Luger fought I think Hall to the parking lot where “Sting”, a guy in a Sting costume, popped out and beat him up.
That following Sunday was Fall Brawl and WCW vs. NWO in War Games. None of his teammates believed it wasn’t him, despite him being about 4 inches shorter than the real Sting. This was more or less a running joke in WCW as there were all kinds of people impersonating Sting including Hogan and Nash and only the announcers would buy into it as the fans could tell by, you know, LOOKING AT HIM.
Anyway, the Fake Sting came in and then the real Sting came in and beat up the NWO on his own. He looked at his best friend, Lex Luger, and asked if that was good enough and walked away. He then cut a promo the next night with his back to the camera, saying he wasn’t sure what he was doing anymore and that he would be popping up every now and then.
The next week the crow Sting debuted and he would begin hiding in the rafters. He would beat up random people as WCW would swear up and down that he was in the NWO. He also started carrying the ball bat and he would hand it to random guys and turn away from them. It was some kind of test for trust or something like that. Anyway, we hit Uncensored 97 and there’s no answer as to which side he’s on.
After the NWO wins the main event, Sting repels from the ceiling and beats the tar out of them, which of course makes the WCW announcers sure that he’s WCW now. Over the next 9 months or so he stalked Hogan while Dillon kept trying to get him signed to a contract, which you would assume he was already under but whatever. He turned down matches with Hennig and X-Pac before being given an ultimatum of pick an opponent or leave.
He gets in the ring and the fans chant for Hogan. Sting points at the crowd and of course Dillon doesn’t get it. The following Thursday at Clash of the Champions, the lights go out and Sting is in the rafters with a crow. The voice of a child comes over the PA system and says stuff about how the battle is just beginning and Sting is the light in the darkness. This somehow gets Dillon’s attention and he makes the match.
Keep in mind that this whole time Hogan has been running scared, screaming at the sight of Sting and never landing a single shot on him. On the last Nitro before this they got to him and beat him up but it didn’t really do anything. So the point of this is that Hogan, surrounded by goons including guys the caliber of Hall and Nash has been scared to death of Sting for about 9 months minimum.
One more thing and then I promise we’ll get to this mess. This was supposed to be about revenge. Other than a 6 day reign by Luger in August which I guess was a marketing ploy to get more buys for Road Wild, Hogan has held the title non-stop since August of 96. The NWO and especially Hogan has dominated the whole time and it hasn’t been close at all. Tonight is about revenge. It’s time for WCW to rise up and take back what is theirs. This is the night where WCW gets their big win over the NWO and makes them realize their days are numbered. In short, this is supposed to be the beginning of the end for the NWO with Sting leading the WCW charge. This should have been screwupable. Let’s see how they managed to screw it up.
WCW World Title: Hulk Hogan vs. Sting
This is the one match we’ve never gotten: the biggest WCW star vs. the biggest WWF star. Here’s how this SHOULD have gone:
Hogan won’t come out. He locks himself in his dressing room or whatever and just won’t fight. WCW guys kick the door in and literally drag him kicking and screaming to the ring. He tries to run and the Giant and Luger carry him back to the ring and they stand guard of him until Sting gets there. The bell rings, Hogan MIGHT get a punch or two in and Sting just beats the heck out of him for about 3 minutes, Stinger Splash, Scorpion Death Lock, new champion, we’re out in 5 minutes. THAT’S IT.
Seriously, after 9 months of running and hiding, Hogan should have been scared to death of Sting right? He was scared with no help and he should be scared with help. Add in the fact that Hogan has been a cowardly heel for about 99% of his run and this should have been a walk in the park for WCW. And that’s how you know it’s going to be screwed up: it’s WCW.
Hogan’s music hits, Michael Buffer does the intro, and the whole thing is instantly ruined. After 9 months of running and hiding and screaming at the sight of Sting, Hogan is strutting down the aisle. He’s singing the words to his theme song and playing the belt like a guitar. He might as well be fighting the Brooklyn Brawler tonight on a house show in front of 900 people in East Orange, New Jersey.
And now, the entrance of Sting. He’s come through the crowd, he’s repelled from the rafters, and he had a helicopter drop him from the sky. What more could he do this time? Buffer simply says “Ladies and Gentlemen, the challenger.” The same speech from the Clash plays….and Hogan is walking around the ring with his arms in the air so as to make sure the attention never leaves him for one second.
Yeah this is already damaged but there’s still the match itself right? Thunder and lightning hit, the music is loud, the crowd is on fire, and Sting walks through the entrance like anyone else would. They do the effect where Hogan is kind of superimposed over Sting. This would be a much more effective shot if Hogan was scared or something like he was supposed to be but he’s saying bring it on. Sure why not.
We get the staredown which is indeed cool. AND IT’S ON! Hogan immediately shoves him and throws the bandana in his face. I immediately don’t like where this is going as he’s showing more life than he did vs. Andre. The fans pop like cherries for a slap from Sting. Hogan stalls to make sure the crowd remembers who put them in their seats is. This is already bad and we’re 40 seconds in.
Hogan shoves him back into the corner but Sting hits a punch. The place ERUPTS. Remember that Sting is known for his jumping all over the place and speed and power etc. So far he’s slapped and punched. Hogan punches him and Sting goes flying. ALL Hogan here as Sting looks pathetic. Hogan dedicates a punch to his son and isn’t even sweating yet. Crowd has been mostly killed by this point, about three minutes in.
Sting hits an ok dropkick and Hogan goes to the floor. Yeah that’s his big offense so far. He doesn’t go after Hogan or anything. He just stares at him even more. Hogan hooks a headlock and then puts Sting down with a shoulder block. Tony says he ran through Sting and he’s absolutely right. More dropkicks and down goes Hogan again. And as soon as Sting goes on offense again, Hogan hits the floor and stalls even more to kill the crowd every time Sting gets something going.
Now Sting uses a headlock. HE’S SO ENRAGED! Hogan has dominated almost the whole match other than those dropkicks and Sting is down again. So far this has been like a seven minute intro match with nothing at all of note. Hogan has dominated for the most part and the biggest move and most impactful move by far have been dropkicks. Other than that there just isn’t anything but punches and headlocks.
We REALLY crank things up with a suplex which is no sold. Sting comes back with a crotch chop of pain and his offense lasts a total of 9 seconds since Hogan takes over again. Sting is looking like a total jobber here, getting nothing in longer than maybe 20 seconds. He’s controlled less than half a minute and we’re about 9 minutes into this. Hogan punches the heck out of him as the crowd is virtually dead.
Stinger Splash of course misses on the floor. That could have gotten the fans to cheer so we couldn’t have that of course right? With Sting more or less out on his feet, there’s the big boot and legdrop. As he’s in the air, Bret Hart walks by the front of the ring. Keep that in mind. Patrick does a semi-fast count for the clean pin. Hart keeps the bell from ringing and shouts at Patrick and half into the microphone that he won’t let it happen again. He hits Patrick, throws Hogan back into the ring, the NWO runs in and gets beaten up, Splash and Scorpion ends the match and Sting wins the title. The WCW guys run in for the massive celebration and we end the show.
Now the fun part: explaining why this was freaking horrendous.
For those of you that haven’t heard the history, here was the new plan that for some reason that I’m not sure God himself understands. Nick Patrick, the referee, had been very biased towards the NWO in the recent months. He was supposed to make a fast count, leading to Bret Hart running down and saying he wouldn’t let this become Montreal all over again (not in those words but that was the idea). Two things caused this mess of a plan to fall apart: Patrick counts a relatively normal count, and Hart is there before the bell rings. With Patrick counting normal speed, it looks like Sting just got pinned in a normal match.
Another problem with the whole fast count thing: Sting stayed down. You can see him getting up about 20 seconds later when Bret is arguing with Patrick. If this was supposed to be a fast count then Sting should have popped up a split second after the three correct? Instead he popped up almost half a minute later and looked like he could barely get up if his life depended on it. If this was supposed to be a fast count, why did no one tell Sting that was the finish? Could it be that he knew it would bomb?
The announcers don’t bring up Patrick’s heel tactics, and they touch on it being a fast count. They don’t have time because instead of Hart running down to the ring like he was supposed to, he was already there, so he stops the bell from ringing about two seconds after the pin. He says it won’t happen again, which makes no sense to non-WWF fans, or to wrestling fans in general. Since he was a referee earlier in the night, he is apparently has refereeing powers all night, so he jumps in as referee. Sting hits the splash, the scorpion, and he gets the title to end the show. Two weeks later, the title is held up vacant, and Sting FINALLY pins Hogan mostly clean in LATE FEBRUARY (this was three days after Christmas) at Superbrawl.
The whole thing just made no sense and everyone saw that it was nothing but a way to get the buyrate for Superbrawl up. Hogan and the NWO should have died then and there. Hogan should have disappeared until about June before coming back in the red and yellow, begging for the fans’ forgiveness while Sting slowly accepts the fans again and becomes the surfer or at least a normal looking wrestler. Instead, it’s the same things over and over again. All the fans, myself included, had their intelligence insulted. I and many other fans I knew at the time started watching Raw and loved what we were seeing, because it wasn’t WCW. I never left.
Sting would wind up holding the title for about two months until Savage beat him for it at Spring Stampede, only to lose it back to Hogan the next night. Goldberg beat him for it three months later. To say the fans didn’t react well is an understatement. The next night on Nitro the ratings were GREAT. The lead for Nitro stayed intact until the fans started getting what was going on.
Once the fans were told the title would be held up, they started to watch Raw more often. You couple this with the introduction of Mike Tyson and Steve Austin getting the world title and the lead was gone. About a week after Mania, Raw won for the first time in nearly two years. While the content on Raw was a major factor in this, there was no reason for WCW fans to watch Raw until they got screwed over here.
Sting had been this hero for WCW and would end the NWO once and for all. That was supposed to happen, much like Austin winning the title at Mania. Sting was supposed to destroy Hogan but that just didn’t happen for some reason. That reason would be Hogan didn’t want to lose clean like that and when he got the title back just a few months later, everything fell apart. WCW proved they had learned nothing a little over a year later in the Fingerpoke of Doom. The fans wanted something new and WCW decided that wasn’t going to happen. The rest is history.
Rating: F. For managing to screw up something that should be as unscrewable as a nun.
Overall Rating: F. This was just a pure failure all around. There was a very simple idea here: WCW and the fans win. That’s it. That’s what this show is supposed to be and they managed to mess it up. There are 8 matches on this card. A face won three of them. One had a clean ending, one was never announced to be a DQ as Larry was just declared the winner while the biggest acquisition in wrestling was the referee and the last one was the debacle of Hogan/Sting where Hogan just had to dominate the whole thing and make Sting look like a jobber that stole a win because he got destroyed by Hogan clean as a sheet. This was just a disaster all around and still the thing that caused them to begin to die.