Monday Nitro – January 20, 1997: The Biggest Crowd In Chicago To See Wrestling In Three Weeks!
Date: January 20, 1997
Location: United Center, Chicago, Illinois
Commentators: Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan, Larry Zbyzsko, Mike Tenay
Back to WCW after a lengthy absence. This is the go home show for Souled Out which is one of the most different kinds of PPVs you’ll ever see. This is also probably the biggest crowd I can remember for a Nitro up to this point. They’re up north here in Chicago which is a city that was pretty popular for them back in the old NWA days. Nothing on the card seems significant but there are ten matches to get through. Let’s get to it.
This is also the show before the next to last Clash of the Champions, which was held on Tuesday.
We open immediately with Randy Savage storming the ring with a chair. This is his first appearance since Halloween Havoc. He says he’s been blackballed and he’s not going anywhere until he talks to someone with some stroke. Savage sits down and says he’s waiting. Chavo Guerrero is in the first match so here he comes. Tony says they’re going to try to start the match with Savage in the ring.
Chavo slowly gets in and stares at Savage but Savage waves him off. This goes on for a few minutes with Savage not listening to what Chavo says. After almost seven minutes the fans are booing. Savage gets up and lays out Guerrero, sending him over the top and out. Back to the chair. Now a guy named Max, the opponent for Chavo, comes out now. Savage decks him and Max falls to the floor. There goes the referee too. Doug Dillinger comes in and down he goes as well. Alex Wright comes in and he gets punched. Savage is on his feet and holding the chair now.
An army of guys comes out to get him out but Sting repels from the rafters (I think for the first time) in front of the Chicago Bulls banners and walks slowly towards the ring with the bat. He points the bat at Savage and puts it under his chin. Savage jumps up and Sting shoves him away a few times. Savage looks to charge at him but Sting pulls the bat back. Sting hands him the bat and turns his back on him but Savage doesn’t swing. Sting takes it back and they both leave through the crowd. Tony immediately thinks this means they’re both NWO because…..I have no idea.
Here’s a clip from December of Chono joining the NWO and another of him beating up Jericho later that night. They have a rematch on Saturday.
Alex Wright vs. Chris Jericho
No entrance for either guy. Wright armdrags him to start and they chop it out but Jericho runs into a big boot. They trade rollups and Jericho rolls forward out of a German suplex for a fast pin. That’s the same finish he used on the last Raw from 2001 I reviewed. Quick match and Wright’s arm was about six inches off the mat, but other than that it was fine.
Scotty Riggs vs. NWO Sting
Sting does a really bad shout and Riggs jumps him to a big pop. Jumping back elbow and some dropkicks put Sting down. Riggs walks into a hot shot though and Sting takes over. After a quick beating Riggs escapes and hits a missile dropkick but here’s Buff. Riggs hits his forearm but the NWO runs out which is a DQ despite the NWO not touching him. Too short to rate but it was there for the ending and to set up Buff vs. Scotty on Saturday. The NWO makes Penzer say Sting won by countout, which would seem to be correct.
We get a clip of Flair at a hockey team talking to an enforcer for the Chicago Blackhawks. They have a gave on the road tonight so he can’t be here tonight.
Arn Anderson/Steve McMichael vs. Jeff Jarrett/Eddie Guerrero
If that was Benoit instead of McMichael this could be a classic. To be fair though Mongo is a Chicago guy so it makes perfect sense for him to be here. Tony brags about how this is the biggest crowd to see a wrestling event in Chicago this year. Check the date on this show and you’ll see why I rolled my eyes. Also there was this show called Wrestlemania that broke that mark a few months later.
Jeff and Arn start us off with Jarrett being knocked to the floor almost immediately. He comes back with a top rope cross body for two and here’s Eddie, who is the US Champion but doesn’t have the belt. Mongo comes in to a big pop and runs over Eddie before gorilla pressing him. Eddie comes back with some speed stuff but gets backdropped to the floor. Arn comes in but it’s a hot (I guess?) tag to Eddie. He cleans house but runs off to chase Syxx (not that we see that but Tony tells us). Arn hits a spinebuster on Jeff and puts him in a Boston Crab as Mongo stomps on him. Debra throws in her sash and that counts for a submission.
Rating: C+. Stupid ending aside, this was a fun and fast paced match. When you won’t have Jeff as the heel world champion, he’s a pretty fun guy to watch. Eddie was flying all over the place as he is known to do and Anderson was his usual old self. This Horsemen story would only get worse though as Mongo and Jarrett would wind up feuding over the US Title all summer.
Here’s Flair to talk to the Horsemen. Benoit and Woman are here too. He says he’s still healing so he can get back in the ring but as he’s looking at the Horsemen, they’re not the unit they used to be. Arn and the old gang are cool, but it’s all turned around lately. Flair tells Mongo and Benoit to be Horsemen first and then go after the women. Mongo says he’s proud to be a Horseman and gets a huge pop. Debra starts talking and the crowd completely reverses. Benoit starts talking and the cheering continues. Mongo and Benoit get in another argument and Debra gets the last word about Woman, implying she’s fat.
We get a clip from Saturday Night with Eric talking about how much the NWO has taken over. It’s your usual NWO speech. Liz is filming so Eric pulls her to him and says the only things Savage wants are her and Eric’s hair.
Dean Malenko vs. Ultimo Dragon
The fans chant ECW for Dean as they start off fast. Dragon dropkicks him down but walks into a powerslam for two. They do the exact same sequence and Dean drops him with a brainbuster for two. About an hour into the show we hear the first mention of the Clash tomorrow night. Dean hooks the chinlock and things slow down a bit. Out to the floor and Dean gets sent into the barricade. Back inside they exchange rollups and Dean goes up. Dragon stops him though and the super rana only gets two. Dean tries a leg lock when he catches a kick but Dragon gets the rope. Dragon grabs the arm and La Majistral gets the pin.
Rating: C+. This was a fun and fast paced match as usual, but the shortness hurts it. Dragon was pretty solid against other cruiserweights but once they put him into the TV Title hunt he lost any interest the fans had in him. Granted that’s probably more because of the title than him. Dean would win the title from Dragon the next night at the Clash, making this match totally pointless.
Hour #2 begins and Tony is in a Blackhawks jersey.
We recap the opening segment by reshowing a lot of it.
TV Title: Steven Regal vs. Jacques Rougeau
Jacques does the national anthem bit before the match so I’d assume he’s supposed to be the heel here. Regal grabs the wrist to start and Jacques takes him down for some stomping. Regal comes back to stomp on Colonel Parker’s fingers so the Colonel comes in and accidentally hits his own man for the DQ. Another two minute match.
Lee Marshall’s road report wastes some time.
Kevin Sullivan vs. Chris Benoit
This is another match that happened as the Clash as well. Tomorrow’s is falls count anywhere at least so it’s not completely the same. Benoit jumps him in the aisle and they go into the crowd already which makes the match tomorrow completely pointless already. They fight into the men’s room because that’s what they did at Great American Bash 96 so they’re just going to keep doing the same match until everyone quits caring. Benoit has his fingers slammed in the door and Sullivan beats him down.
They head back into the arena with Sullivan knocking him down the stairs, which they would do again tomorrow night. This is almost spot for spot the same as tomorrow, which is a shortened version of the Bash match from 96. Sullivan throws a beer in Benoit’s face and Benoit drags him up the aisle.
They head into the ring and there’s the bell to start the match. Sullivan puts him in a quick Tree of Woe but Benoit falls out. Low blow slows Chris down and they hit heads. Woman pops up and Jimmy slides the bell in to Sullivan. The Swan Dive hits the bell and Sullivan gets the academic pin. No point in rating it but it was just trashy brawling.
Here’s the NWO and they’re coming to the announcers’ desk. Great, this again. It’s Bischoff, DiBiase and Nash this time.
Jim Duggan vs. Carl Oullett
Eric says that he’s put Chono on the card because he can. Also Hall has his first singles match on Nitro. Duggan knocks him around for a bit before Carl takes over….and here are the Steiners for some reason. Duggan uses the tape which is legal now and it gets the pin. Another mess.
We look at Starrcade where the Outsiders helped Eddie win the US Title because Page turned the NWO down. Page said he’d fix things and then we see him Diamond Cutting both Outsiders a week later.
Masahiro Chono vs. Dave Taylor
Nick Patrick is sent down from the announcers’ desk to referee this. Chono jumps Taylor and hits a quick reverse DDT. Taylor gets in some offense including a dropkick to the stomach and a middle rope double ax to send Chono to the floor. Back in the ring the atomic drop sets up the Mafia Kick and the STF ends this. Another quick match.
Booker T vs. Scott Hall
Booker doesn’t mean anything much so this isn’t going to be very competitive. Hall throws the toothpick in his face and hits his driving shoulders. Booker comes back with a hook kick and follows with some elbows but jumps into the fallaway slam. Hall loads up his belly to back superplex but gets knocked off. The top rope cross body gets a very slow count, resulting in an argument so that the Outsider’s Edge can get the pin.
Rating: D+. Nothing but a warmup for Hall here before he faces Luger tomorrow night. Booker didn’t mean anything yet so this would be like a big star facing Primo or Epico and not killing them in thirty seconds with one punch. The referee stuff is already played out though, so they’ll keep it up for at least four more months.
Call the NWO Hotline!
Lex Luger vs. Stevie Ray
Nick Patrick is referee here for no apparent reason. Ray jumps him in the corner and stomps him down but Lex comes back quickly. Stevie sends him to the floor and kicks him once before Luger comes back and Racks him easily. Short again.
Here’s Hogan for the last five minutes of the show. The fans in a big city of course love him. Make that three minutes after posing. Hogan talks about using his arms as wings for their jet to get into Chicago. He talks about how he’s going to beat up Giant on Saturday and now he’s talking about Giant’s Mama. Cue Giant but security stops him. Giant screams a lot to end the show.
Overall Rating: C+. This was one of those shows where it depends on your taste in wrestling. If you’re looking for good in ring action, this isn’t your show. If you’re looking for something where they’re moving at such a breakneck pace that you can’t really tell if it was good or bad, this is for you. They plugged almost everything at Souled Out so for a go home show, this was quite good. While the matches weren’t anything of note, they only ran about two minutes each so it’s hard to get annoyed with them. I’m not sure why the Clash needed to exist at this point because it was glossed over for the most part. Decent Nitro.
Here’s the Clash if you’re interested:
Here’s Souled Out if you’re interested:
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Looks like you typed in the wrong year in the review. You put 1996 instead of 1997.
Thanks. Got it.