Monday Nitro – April 14, 1997: They’re in Philadelphia The Night After Barely Legal. You Do The Math.

Monday Nitro #83
Date: April 14, 1997
Location: Philadelphia Spectrum, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Commentators: Tony Schiavone, Larry Zbyszko, Bobby Heenan, Mike Tenay

These are taking longer than I was hoping and now that I’ve got more time on my hands due to being done with the PPV reviews, I’ll be doing four of these at a time instead of two in a row. Also I kind of like these shows more than some of the WWF shows I’ve been doing so it’s more fun for me this way. This is another of the ten matches deep cards tonight but I wouldn’t bet on there being much going on here tonight with the big names. Let’s get to it.

Oh and by the way: we’re in Philadelphia the night after ECW’s Barely Legal. I wonder if we’ll hear a certain chant tonight.

We open with a recap of Nash and Hogan having their summit last week, as well as Sting lowering from the rafters to chase off the NWO.

Apparently Luger wants his earned title shot tonight. This brings the NWO to the announce desk (no Hogan). Nash says that if Luger wants the shot, he has to beat Nash tonight.

Chris Benoit vs. Barbarian

The place erupts for Benoit. Granted it may be for that awesome Horsemen theme. I could listen to that all day. Benoit is on fire to start and takes Barbarian down, hitting a sunset flip and northern lights suplex for two. Jimmy trips up Benoit on the floor and gets punched in the face for his efforts. For Benoit’s efforts though, Barbarian kicks him in the face. Advantage Barbarian.

Back in the ring Benoit snaps off a German but gets crotched on the top. Barbarian hits a BIG overhead belly to belly superplex for two. The savage (Barbarian I mean) misses a swan dive before Benoit hits his own for the pin. For a two and a half minute match, this was AWESOME.

Post match the Dungeon comes in and destroys Benoit until the Horsemen make the save. Benoit says that he’s going to destroy Sullivan before Sullivan destroys him. This feud has been going on for what, almost a year now?

US Title: Hector Guerrero vs. Dean Malenko

Dean gets a huge reaction of course. Apparently Bischoff is going to get a decision made on his future next week. They fight over a wristlock to start followed by some very fast near falls. Dean finally takes him down with a drop toehold and puts on a chinlock. Hector counters an abdominal stretch to send Dean to the floor and follows him out with kind of a standing Vader Bomb onto Dean. Sunset flip back in gets two for the challenger (Guerrero in case you’re rather slow) but Dean powerbombs him down and puts on the Cloverleaf for the tap out. Another short but very fast paced match.

Eddie comes out to save despite his arm being in a sling.

Juventud Guerrera vs. Rey Mysterio Jr.

Reggie White is here and will fight McMichael at some point in the near future. They fight over a wristlock to start until Juvy hits a spin kick to the face to take over. Rey counters into a kind of reverse crucifix backbreaker and the fans start the first loud ECW chant of the night. Rey headscissors him over the top and out to the floor where both guys are down.

As Mysterio gets back in, Juvy powerbombs him off the apron and back to the floor. Back in and a springboard knee to the back keeps Rey in trouble. It’s time for the gymnastics portion of the match as neither guy can connect with anything. Rey hits the West Coast Pop out of nowhere for the quick pin.

Rating: C-. Considering who was in here, this was a disappointment. They weren’t really moving as fast as you would expect them to and there weren’t any high spots. Still though the match wasn’t bad and Rey is always worth checking out in 1997. That being said, this was easily the weakest match of the night so far.

Luna Vachon wants the Women’s Title.

TV Title: Lane Carlson vs. Ultimo Dragon

They’re flying through these matches tonight. I’m assuming the title is on the line here. Carlson is more famous as Lenny Lane. Feeling out process to start until Dragon escapes a backdrop and fires off the rapid kicks. A great looking dropkick takes Lane’s head off for two. Lane comes back with a bad looking Rocker Dropper for two and a bulldog gets the same. A clothesline puts Dragon on the floor and Lane hits a flip dive off the top to crush Dragon. Dragon throws Lane back in and kicks him through the ropes to take over. Back in and the top rope superrana sets up the tiger suplex for the pin for Dragon to retain.

Rating: C-. Another fast paced and surprisingly watchable match. This is what WCW was great at: taking a named guy and putting him out there with some no name and letting the no name show off a little bit. Lane would go on to be the Cruiserweight Champion when the company was falling apart.

Cruiserweight Title: Syxx vs. Prince Iaukea

We’re having an extreme lack of promos tonight. Iaukea speeds things up to start, showing off more fast paced offense in 30 seconds than he did in seven weeks as TV Champion. A kick to the face and a mat slam put Syxx down but he comes back with a spinwheel kick. Syxx is Cruiserweight Champion here but I don’t think the title is on the line. We put the camera on Reggie White for about 15 seconds and come back to Syxx holding a chinlock. We have a Hat Guy sighting as well.

Syxx takes him into the corner and hits the Bronco buster but something similar to a Swanton misses. Apparently this is for the title. Iaukea starts a comeback and hits a springboard clothesline for two before going up. Syxx crotches him but gets shoved down so Prince can badly mess up a top rope sunset flip for two. Syxx kicks the Prince down and hooks on the Buzz Kill (crossface chickenwing) to retain.

Rating: C-. The good part here is almost all because of Syxx. Iaukea was just so freaking dull, and when you had guys like Dragon, Mysterio, Guerrera, Benoit and Malenko around at this point, there was no room for a guy like Iaukea. As usual with Waltman, I like him WAY more when he’s against a smaller guy. It’s a shame he killed the Cruiserweight Title for so long though.

Here are Flair, Piper and Kevin Greene for a chat. Piper rambles about bald guys being cowards and something about gorillas in the Congo. He talks about Bischoff wearing Rodman shirts and implies the NWO is all coming out of the closet. If he wakes up with a dead horse’s head in his bed, he’s having a barbecue. Now he goes on a rant about people pouring asphalt and cutting down trees so they could start Starrcade and Wrestlemania. I assure you, this promo doesn’t make much more sense in full context. I think he’s talking about paving the way for the NWO guys.

Kevin says he did everything Hogan told him to do as a kid and then Hogan stabbed everyone in the back. The NWO is a bunch of rookies that are here just for the money. Greene uses the chopping wood and laying asphalt thing and it’s about respect apparently. For a celebrity that isn’t used to being on a live mic, Greene was pretty good here.

Flair talks about being trained by Verne Gagne in 1973 and walking into St. Louis in 1983 (at the age of 35. Think about that for a minute. At the time this is being written, Sheamus is 33. Flair was two years older than that back in 1983. That’s hard to fathom.) and wrestling Dick the Bruiser. Then in 1993 he wrestled Savage in the Hoosier Dome (it was 92 but close enough) and in 2003 he’ll still be going. That’s actually true and he even won a title that year.

High Voltage vs. Public Enemy

This is a street fight and it’s in Philadelphia. Not a bad way to start the second hour. You can barely hear Tony over the reaction for Rock and Grunge. Public Enemy sets up two tables at ringside before the bell and bring in trashcan lids to get us going. The chant starts before the bell even rings. There are about five trashcan lids in the ring and all of them go upside various people’s heads. I’m not really going to try to call anything in this as it barely resembles wrestling.

A horrible piledriver to Rage onto a trashcan doesn’t really do much damage so Public Enemy brings out a toilet seat instead. Heenan suggests dropping a dumpster on people from the ceiling. After a brawl on the floor, Kaos gets in some offense and is promptly booed out of the building. The fans are literally standing in the crowd. Another piledriver on the trashcan puts Kaos down and it’s table time. Two are stacked on top of each other and Rage is crushed with the Quebecers’ Cannonball move for the pin by Rock.

Rating: C+. The match here was completely beside the point. This was a way to fire up the crowd and to put it mildly, it worked very well. The fans erupted over the Public Enemy because they were ECW legends and every ECW fan was on cloud nine at this point. The match was basically a squash and that’s all it should be.

Giant vs. Big Al

Speaking of ECW, Big Al is more famous as 911. We’re told that Giant let Luger pin him at the PPV because Giant owed Luger a favor from when Luger was the first person to welcome Giant back to WCW. That makes sense. Anyway, chokeslam ends this in like a minute.

Diamond Dallas Page vs. Konnan

Page works on the arm to start but Konnan stomps him down in the corner for a bit. Page rams him into the buckle, shrugs off a poke to the eye, and hits the Diamond Cutter for the fast pin. Typical Page match from this time period.

Savage and Liz are in the crowd with Randy telling Kimberly to stop calling him. Page charges after Savage but Macho escapes.

Harlem Heat vs. Jeff Jarrett/Steve McMichael

Jeff and Booker get us going with Booker running him over a few times. Mongo comes in and wants to fight the bigger member of the Heat in Stevie Ray. Mongo powerslams him down for two as we take a break. Back with Jarrett getting double teamed in the corner and taken down via a double elbow. Stevie comes in and pounds Jeff down again before tagging out to Booker for an ax kick. The Heat hit a double suplex for two and it’s off to a chinlock from Stevie.

Booker comes in to break up a sunset flip as we hear about some guy named Tiger Woods winning the Masters. Booker kicks Jarrett down again but a second kick misses. Jeff tries the Figure Four instead of tagging and everything breaks down. The briefcase is brought in but Sherri steals it from Mongo. Sherri tries to hit Mongo with it but the shot doesn’t seem to do much. The girls fight and the match gets thrown out. In a likely unintentional spot after the match, Sherri swings and misses Debra but hits her in the head on the back swing. Good.

Rating: D+. This incarnation of the Horsemen just were not that good. I get the idea that they’re supposed to be arguing, but that went on FOREVER and never went anywhere. How many weeks in a row now have I talked about the exact same kind of things happening in these matches? Oh and what was the point of the ending? It doesn’t help anything.

Apparently the Horsemen win by DQ. Ok then.

Gene talks to Mongo about his match with White at the PPV. As usual, Mongo cuts a heel promo despite being in a face faction. Mongo blasts White for a bit on the mic until White jumps the barricade. Mongo spits in his face and it’s on.

Kevin Nash vs. Lex Luger

The reinforcements come out for the NWO almost immediately. Nash pounds him into the corner and hits the framed elbow. A charge (yes, a charge from Kevin Nash) misses Luger but Lex has to stop to knock Syxx down, allowing Nash to kick Luger’s head off. Side slam gets two and Snake Eyes puts Luger down again. Nash hits the running hip attack to Luger’s back while Luger is in 619 position. Luger comes back with the steel forearm and here’s the NWO for the big beatdown and the DQ.

Rating: D. This was just a way to build up to the ending with the big NWO run in and the post match stuff. Nash was doing nothing but basic stuff and Luger hit about two moves in total. Then again, they only had about four minutes to work with so it may be unfair to blame the guys in the match. On the other hand, it’s Kevin Nash in 1997 so we can safely blame him.

Page tries to make the save but gets beaten down eventually. Giant comes out but Nash has a lead pipe. Sting walks down the ramp with three ball bats, giving one each to Giant, Luger and Page. Sting pulls out one for himself and the ring is cleared to end the show.

Overall Rating: C+. As usual, when you let the Cruiserweights do their stuff, the show is good but when the other guys in there, things start to fall apart. The crowd helped this show a lot as they were erupting for everything all night. While it wasn’t a great show because of the lack of anything really happening, the wrestling was enough to carry it.

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