Monday Nitro – June 2, 1997: When Savage Is On, He’s One Of The Best Ever

Monday Nitro #90
Date: June 2, 1997
Location: Hara Arena, Dayton, Ohio
Commentators: Mike Tenay, Tony Schiavone, Larry Zbyszko, Bobby Heenan

It’s hard to believe we’re almost halfway through 1997. I’m digging this idea of doing four shows at once as you get through the storylines a lot faster which is good when the stories are really dull, as they have been lately. Sting and Hogan is clearly being set up as a huge match somewhere in the future, which is the start of probably the biggest angle in the history of the company. Hopefully we get more of that tonight. Let’s get to it.

Hall and Syxx are in the ring to open the show. Hall says that the fans have been asking for more of the NWO because they’re the reason everyone is watching. They say they won at Slamboree and that Flair is recuperating in the La Brea tar pits. Hall calls out Flair for a fight but we get JJ Dillon instead. JJ says Flair is on his way here and tonight it’s Flair vs. Hall. Hall says no but if he doesn’t do it, then the Outsiders are stripped of the belts.

Opening sequence.

Alex Wright vs. Glacier

Wright wisely jumps Glacier during his elaborate entrance and takes over early. A spinwheel kick takes Glacier down and Wright pounds away in the corner. He stops to dance though and Glacier gets in some kicks, including the Cryonic Kick for the fast pin.

Post match here’s James Vanderberg for a distraction along with Mortis and Wrath who are spotted before they come in. The beatdown begins but Wright wants to get some revenge. That bell ringing over and over again is really annoying. Mortis aims a kick at Glacier but kicks Wright instead. Glacier fights both monsters off.

Buff Bagwell vs. Joe Gomez

Bagwell pounds him down and grabs the rope to avoid a Gomez dropkick. Bagwell talks to the camera for awhile before walking into a bad dropkick by Gomez. Joe throws some bad punches in the corner but gets dropped into the buckle and thrown out to the floor. Scott Norton, Buff’s partner, gets in some shots and sends Gomez back in for the Blockbuster and the pin by Buff.

Rating: D. Gomez was never in another match on Nitro and that’s a good thing. The guy just wasn’t that good and it’s pretty clear to see why he never amounted to anything. Bagwell wasn’t much better, although the Blockbuster has always been a favorite move of mine. Just a squash here but it was pretty bad looking while it lasted.

Mike Tenay gives us a quick profile on Ernest Miller.

We get a clip of Roddy Piper’s latest movie.

Hugh Morrus vs. Prince Iaukea

Konnan jumps Morrus on his way to the ring. Morrus pounds him down but he’s a bit shaken. They mess up a spot where Iaukea is supposed to slide between Morrus’ legs so Morrus swings his leg out wide, but Iaukea runs around instead and runs into Morrus’ leg. Thankfully Iaukea rolls him up a second later for the pin. This seems to be an injury angle for Morrus.

Here’s JJ to talk about the main event but more importantly that we need #1 contenders to the tag titles after the PPV. He thinks it’s the Steiners, who are barely on Nitro anymore. This draws out Sherri and Harlem Heat who disagree with this ruling. JJ says if the Steiners win tonight, they get the next shot after Flair and Piper. Sherri says that’ll get a reaction.

We recap Page vs. Savage with the focus on Page. He talks about losing his first 79 matches and working his way up to become what he is now. He kept getting better and developed the Diamond Cutter, which he used to beat Savage in their first match. I want to see these guys fight again which is a good sign.

Masahiro Chono/Great Muta vs. Steiner Brothers

Five or six years earlier, this is a candidate for match of the year before the bell even rings. Scott and Muta start with Muta firing off a very quick kick to send Scott ducking back into the corner. Scott armdrags him down and it’s a stalemate. A suplex sends Muta flying so Muta goes to the strikes. Muta takes him down and we’re told that Flair has arrived. Scott butterfly powerbombs and gorilla press slams Muta down, sending him out to the floor.

Rick comes in and Muta bails right back to the floor to hide. Rick stomps on an NWO shirt and it’s off to Chono. The two of them have a test of strength but Rick suplexes him down instead of seeing who wins. A Steiner Line sends Chono to the outside and Muta wants nothing to do with Rick either. Back in and Chono gets powerslammed down as Scott takes out Muta. All Steiners so far.

Chono gets back in against Scott and the Japanese guys finally get in some shots to the back to take over. Scott gets the tag to Rick and the NWO guys are taken down almost immediately. The Steiners were in trouble for about 30 seconds. Chono hits the Mafia Kick on Scott and there’s a handspring elbow to Muta. Chono accidentally Mafia Kicks Muta and the Steiners load up the double bulldog on Muta. Harlem Heat runs in and knocks out Rick with a chair, giving Muta the easy pin.

Rating: C-. This was fast paced, but it came off almost like a squash. That doesn’t exactly make the NWO guys seem to be any kind of a threat as the Steiners were in trouble for about a minute out of a nearly ten minute match. The ending was obvious given what Sherri said earlier, but it makes sense all things considered.

Post match Harlem Heat says they’re the #1 contenders now but JJ says the match is under review. What is there to review exactly? Harlem Heat interfered and the Steiners lost because of it. It’s not that complicated, but this is WCW where you need a meeting to determine what color the sky is.

It’s hour #2 and after the recap, here’s Ric Flair for a chat. Flair rants as you would expect him to and a lot of it is censored.

US Title: Dean Malenko vs. Mr. Wallstreet

Feeling out process to start with neither guy being able to get any real control. A rollup by Dean is blocked and Nick Patrick yells at Wallstreet for holding the ropes. Patrick yells about using the hair and the match slows down again. Wallstreet sends Dean to the floor as things continue to not get started. Back in and Dean grabs a hammerlock which is quickly broken. Off to a chinlock by the challenger (Wallstreet) followed by an abdominal stretch. Sweet goodness Wallstreet is dull.

Dean’s leg lariat gets two as does a suplex. The Cloverleaf is broken up by a rake to the eyes but Wallstreet misses a charge and goes flying over the top and out to the floor. Jeff Jarrett comes in out of nowhere and trips Malenko for two. Wallstreet doesn’t pay attention and gets caught in the Cloverleaf to retain the title for Dean. Patrick was between Wallstreet and the ropes so we have another wrinkle in the Patrick might be crooked story.

Rating: D. I love Malenko but my goodness Wallstreet is dull. I mean the guy does NOTHING but jobber level offense. The other problem is that since he’s taken on his current gimmick, the Wallstreet name doesn’t mean anything. This was about Jarrett though which makes the match a little more forgivable.

Jarrett wants a rematch with Malenko and says he’ll get it next week on Nitro. Dean accepts and here’s Mongo. Mongo wants to know why Jarrett came out here without him and won’t let Debra leave with Jeff. Mongo rants about Kevin Greene and the people boo Mongo out of the building. Why didn’t WCW get that no one was interested in this football stuff?

Damien/Ciclope vs. Harlem Heat

Stevie and Ciclope start things off with the big man stomping Ciclope down into the corner. A slam puts Ciclope down and it’s off to Booker for a hook kick. Damien comes in and some Hardy Boys style double teaming sends Booker to the floor. Booker knees Damien down and it’s back to Ray as the Heat weren’t in trouble long. Booker sends Damien to the floor and stomps away on him against the barricade as this breaks down. Here are the Steiners with a chair to lay out Booker, allowing Damien to hit a top rope splash for the upset pin.

Rating: D+. This match was the same thing we’ve had all night: a dull match that was waiting for the angle advancement that ended it. Damien and Ciclope wouldn’t go anywhere of course but it’s nice to see some newcomers get a win, even if it’s tainted like this. Obviously this set up Steiners vs. Heat and there’s nothing wrong with that. The match was dull though.

Lee Marshall does his thing.

Barbarian vs. Chris Benoit

Apparently Benoit has to run the Dungeon gauntlet to get another match with Sullivan. Benoit takes it straight to the corner and stomps Barbarian down, which is something you almost never see. Barbarian breaks the German attempt so Benoit settles for a release northern lights suplex. Jimmy Hart distracts Benoit and Barbie gets in a shot to take over. There’s a piledriver for two on Benoit and Barbarian is frustrated already. Barbarian be clubberin in the corner followed by his always cool release belly to belly superplex. Barbarian loads up something off the top but gets shoved down. Swan Dive and Crossface end this.

Rating: C. It wasn’t as good as their match from a few months ago, but this is a pairing that still works. Barbarian is an interesting case as he has a pretty standard gimmick but the guy was continuously employed in a major company for the better part of fifteen years. For a guy like Barbarian, that’s very impressive.

Benoit says he wants Sullivan now but Hart says Benoit has to beat Meng in a death match at the Bash.

Scott Hall vs. Ric Flair

Flair goes insane to start and takes Hall down with chops and shots to the knee. Syxx tries to interfere but Flair takes both guys out with ease. Hall slugs Flair but Flair chops him into the corner with ease. Flair is sent into the corner for the Flair Flip but Flair dives off the apron onto Syxx in a kind of Thess Press. Hall gets in a shot to the back and takes over by stomping away in the corner.

Syxx comes in for a Bronco Buster which somehow the referee doesn’t notice. The fallaway slam hits for two and the fans want Sting. There’s an abdominal stretch and Syxx does the required arm pull for extra leverage. Hall pounds Flair down and puts on the sleeper, only to be countered into a knee crusher. Hall clotheslines Flair down to break up the Figure Four attempt and they’re both down. Flair chops away and it’s time to strut. Syxx gets knocked off the apron and then crotched. There’s a low blow to Hall and Flair is rolling. Flair loads up the Figure Four but has to fight off Syxx AGAIN. A belt shot to Flair finally gets the DQ.

Rating: C+. At the end of the day, Flair is one of the guys you know is going to have at least a decent match. It’s a rare thing to see one of the higher ups in the NWO have a big time match and putting him with Flair meant this was going to be good. Also it plays into the tag title match at the PPV, making this one of the few matches tonight that actually meant something and the only one that was good on top of that.

Post match Flair gets double teamed and I guess the Horsemen are off hunting elk or something. Mongo and Jarrett FINALLY come out for the save. Mongo takes either a tag belt or the Cruiserweight belt with him as they leave for some reason.

Here’s Savage for the final segment of the show. He brings Gene out with him by force and looks extra angry/crazy here. Gene talks about DDP and how Savage is underrating him, so Savage snaps. Gene says someone has to bring Savage back to earth and Savage gets in his face, drawing out JJ. JJ threatens Savage with some undefined punishment before saying he’s lost respect for Savage.

Dillon says he expects better from Savage than from the rest of the NWO. JJ talks about how in the old days, Savage would have stood up to Page like a man. Now Savage is hiding in the crowd and isn’t being a man. Savage decks JJ and security plus Bischoff come out to pull Savage off. Bischoff talks Savage down in the corner but the fans chant DDP, which sends Savage over the edge again. Bischoff says JJ brought this on himself to end the show.

Overall Rating: D+. This show wasn’t that interesting overall. Savage vs. Page has me wanting to watch their match all over again even though I just saw it a few months ago. Flair’s stuff was good too, but other than that there’s nothing of interest here. The other matches were all setting up later stuff and most of them were either bad or too short to be anything. Great American Bash is coming off like a much better show than Slamboree so these Nitros have been a lot easier to get through, but other than the top stuff, most of the matches aren’t doing much for me yet.

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