Monday Nitro – September 29, 1997: One Of The Best Episodes Ever
Date: September 29, 1997
Location: DCU Center, Worcester, Massachusetts
Commentators: Mike Tenay, Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan, Larry Zbyszko
We’re getting closer to Halloween Havoc and to the best of my memory, nothing has been officially set for the card yet. Hogan vs. Sting is starting to heat up as Piper is trying as hard as he can to get the match set by the end of the year. Other than that tonight we’re likely to get another appearance by Goldberg who debuted last week. Let’s get to it.
We open with the usual from Tony and the Nitro Girls.
Video on Page vs. Savage, which I’m sure will be discussed tonight.
Diamond Dallas Page vs. Buff Bagwell
At least Kimberly looks great tonight. They stare at each other for awhile to start before Bagwell armdrags him down, meaning it’s time to dance. A shoulder block puts DDP down as well as we’re in slow motion still. Raven is in the front row again with Richards behind him. Page comes back with a clothesline and a second one sends him out to the floor. A pescado hits Bagwell and Page rips up a sign for no apparent reason. Back in and Buff hurts his own knee off a leapfrog attempt. I smell a freshly painted gold brick and indeed I’m correct.
Buff takes over and chokes away as we hear that Larry is going to referee a match at Halloween Havoc. Bagwell stops to tell the camera that he is indeed this good looking and here’s Page with a comeback. An atomic drop sets up more punches from DDP but Buff blocks the Diamond Cutter. Bagwell and the referee argue, allowing Page to get two off a rollup. Vincent tries to cheat so Page gets sent into a distracted referee. There’s the Diamond Cutter to both Vincent and Buff and the referee comes in for the three count.
Rating: C+. This was WAY better than I was expecting with the crowd staying hot almost the entire time. Page overcoming the odds like this including having to beat both Vincent and Bagwell was a solid idea as Bagwell has nothing to lose. This was a solid choice for an opener and it got the crowd going which is the right idea.
Page climbs into the crowd and runs into Raven for a staredown.
Apparently Mike Tenay went down to Mexico and has filmed a bunch of mini documentaries about lucha libre. We get a preview here, talking about how big lucha libre is and the importance of family in the business. I remember thinking these were interesting back in the day.
Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. El Caliente
Caliente is a masked guy who looks a lot like Eddie Guerrero. Whoever he is he jumps Rey from behind and steals the mask that Mysterio was going to give to a fan. Rey has his back rammed into the buckle and Caliente hits Eddie’s slingshot hilo. Mysterio comes back with a standing Lionsault into an armdrag as things speed up. A tilt-a-whirl backbreaker puts Caliente down but he comes back with an elbow to the face. Rey counters a suplex into an armdrag but the much bigger guy pounds Mysterio down.
Caliente goes for the mask as Tenay talks about lucha de apuestas (bet matches). The fans start chanting Eddie as they’re in on the joke now. A BIG powerbomb gets two for Calieddie and it’s off to an abdominal stretch. Even Tony knows something is up now, and if Tony Schiavone can figure it out, the secret is pretty obvious. A superplex puts Mysterio down but Caliente stops himself from using the Frog Splash. They head to the corner where Rey hits an INSANE double jump into the West Coast Pop for the pin.
Rating: C+. Solid match here with a great looking ending but it would be blown away by their rematch at Halloween Havoc. Eddie and Rey had some amazing chemistry together and the fans loved almost every match they ever had. Good stuff here and a nice idea with the mask to mix things up a bit.
Post match the mask is taken off and of course it’s Eddie.
Giant says he’s coming for revenge on Hennig tonight. Sting is in the audience as he says this.
Bill Goldberg vs. Barbarian
Neither guy gets an entrance. Tenay has some facts about Goldberg now: he played football at the University of Georgia and for the Atlanta Falcons. Feeling out process to start before Goldberg hits a shoulder block to stagger Barbarian. A DROPKICK of all things sends Barbie out to the floor. Now there’s something I never thought I would see from Goldberg. Goldie goes up top but gets crotched for taking too much time.
As Barbarian pounds away on him, we get a split screen of Goldberg’s win last week. Are they running REALLY behind on time already or something? They don’t even have time to show that pre-match? Goldberg charges into a powerslam but comes back with a clothesline and hits a knee drop. His offense is totally different than it would become eventually. Actually scratch that as the Jackhammer ends this clean. No spear yet but he does have generic rock music here.
Rating: C-. The match was nothing special but the angle of having someone brand new out there getting wins is a very interesting idea. We see this a lot, but having someone completely anonymous is a twist on it. Goldberg’s past never would be filled in and there’s nothing wrong with that. You didn’t need a character for him, which is something modern wrestling forgets at times. Just having someone being tough works quite well and Goldberg is the classic example.
Okerlund still can’t get a word with Goldberg so instead he brings over Larry Z. to talk about the match he’s refereeing at Halloween Havoc. Apparently it’s Luger vs. Hall and Larry isn’t going to cheat because it would make the victory cheap. True actually.
Tony plugs Nitro dates as the Nitro Girls dance. He also apologizes for walking out two weeks ago due to Flair’s injuries, which I don’t think anyone was complaining about. Flair has an announcement later tonight.
TV Title: Disco Inferno vs. Juventud Guerrera
Disco is defending after winning the title in a shocker last week. Feeling out process to start as Larry and Mike talk about a wrestling ballet dancer they used to know. Juvy hits a fast rana to start and a springboard dropkick followed by a spinwheel kick. The champion heads to the floor and there’s a big flip dive to take him out again. Back in and the Inferno counters a rana attempt into a hot shot to take over. Disco pounds away on the back and stomps in the corner.
Alex Wright comes out in some loud yellow pants to dance at the entrance way as Disco is in full control. As the champion goes for a cover, Wright puts Juvy’s foot on the rope. Guerrera uses the distraction to grab a rollup for two and a spin kick gets the same. Jackie comes out to yell at Wright as the match is completely ignored. She trips up Juvy for no apparent reason and a front suplex by Disco retains the belt.
Rating: D. Juvy’s parts were good but this is Disco Inferno vs. Juventud Guerrera in a five minute match for the lower card title. Did we really need two people interfering as part of a feud that hasn’t been fully explained yet? The match wasn’t terrible but the overbooking brings it down a good bit.
Hour #2 begins and here’s the NWO with something to say. This incarnation would be Savage and Liz with the former warning Piper to not mess with his match with Page. Oh and Savage wants Sting too, much like everyone else in the NWO.
Jeff Jarrett vs. Steve McMichael
The fans are all over Jarrett here as Tony talks about the problems between Steve and Debra. Apparently they’ve split and Debra lives in Georgia now. Jarrett takes him down and struts a bit, only to charge into a half Rock Bottom half Boss Man Slam. A forearm puts Jarrett down again and a big boot puts him on the floor. We take a break and come back with a fight on the floor and McMichael going head first into the post twice in a row. Debra takes this opportunity to talk about how pretty she is.
Back inside they go and Debra pulls on Steve’s hair from the floor. McMichael comes back with a suplex and the fans react rather positively. There’s a sleeper from Jeff and Bobby gives about four ways to get out of it. Heenan is a lot of things but a good analyst isn’t usually one of them. McMichael escapes and hooks a sleeper of his own but Jarrett quickly suplexes out of it.
A shot into the buckle does no damage to Mongo’s head so Jarrett tries it two more times. Mongo pounds away in the corner and hits a side slam. As McMichael loads up the tombstone, Jarrett counters with a jawbreaker. It’s time to work on the leg but Steve kicks off the Figure Four. Mongo and Debra get in an argument though, allowing Jarrett to hit a fast dropkick and get a rollup for the pin.
Rating: C-. As usual with these two, it wasn’t bad but it wasn’t interesting at all. Jarrett never really got over as a heel in this run, although the crowd chants at the start of the match were a good sign. Regarding Mongo, earlier tonight I watched the end of Wrestlemania 11 and saw Lawrence Taylor in his only match ever as a wrestler. In that ten or so minute match, Taylor showed more fire and potential than McMichael showed in his entire career. The guy just wasn’t that good and there’s not much else to it than that.
The announcers talk about Sting.
We get a clip from last week of Scott Hall beating up Mark Curtis.
Chris Jericho vs. Syxx
Hall is at ringside with Syxx here and is on crutches. Syxx hooks that jumping headlock of his (the one where he looks like he’s having a fit) but gets sent off the ropes and caught in a powerslam. Syxx comes back with a spin kick and we get the crane pose from Karate Kid. Jericho gets chopped in the corner and gives a look that says “I would beat the tar out of you for that if I could move a muscle right now).
A kind of Michinoku Driver puts Jericho down but a kind of Swanton Bomb misses. Syxx heads to the apron and gets caught by the springboard dropkick to knock him to the floor. A running dive takes Syxx down again and we head back inside. Jericho gets two off a cross body from the top and there’s a giant swing.
The Lionsault looks to set up the Liontamer (Walls of Jericho) but a Hall distraction lets Syxx hook the Buzzkiller (crossface chickenwing) for….no submission as Hall come sin to rub the referee’s stomach. Jericho is still in the hold but here’s Larry Z to break it up. Luger comes out to even the odds and the match is thrown out. The NWO bails.
Rating: C. This was pretty decent but it was about the post match stuff more than the match. That’s perfectly fine as Jericho didn’t mean all that much yet although that would change soon enough. Zbyszko vs. Hall was a nice idea for a feud, but a little more explanation of why they’re fighting and what their history was (they fought in the AWA a bit but that was never specified on Nitro) would have helped.
Here’s Flair’s announcement on the phone. Tony sounds like a lover hearing Ric for the first time when he wakes up from a coma. Flair says that he respects the fans and wants no one to feel sorry for him. He thanks Hennig for giving him the wakeup call that he needed and promises to be back to settle the score. He’ll also be coming for the robe that Hogan stole from him. Now for the major announcement: the Horsemen are officially disbanded. It’s not fair to them to put their careers on hold and worry about Flair all the time. Flair promises illegal and immoral revenge on Hennig and the NWO. Solid stuff here as expected.
Here’s Bischoff with something else to say. Eric complains about Sting being here when Hogan isn’t here because Sting is clearly scared. Hogan has been calling out Sting for weeks, so why didn’t Sting show up then? Bischoff things Piper and Sting are in cahoots and dares Sting to try to help Piper at Halloween Havoc.
Lex Luger vs. Wrath
Luger pounds away to start and the fans are hot as usual. We hear about Mongo and Jarrett fighting in the background. Talk about it all you want, just please don’t make us have to watch it. Luger misses a charge into the corner and Wrath gets to take over for a bit. Wrath is one of those guys that got a very strong push at various times but then he had to talk. That hayseed voice of his was something he never could overcome. Anyway this is exactly what you would expect: Wrath hits some big power moves including a top rop clothesline but Luger reverses a suplex to come back. Punches, clotheslines, Rack, submission.
Rating: D+. Nothing to see here as usual. Luger beating up monsters has become played out by now due to how often it happens anymore. I’ll give him this though: the fans never seem to get bored with him, so why mess with a winning formula? Wrath continues to look better than I ever remember him looking.
The Nitro Girls dance a bit and Bischoff takes Heenan’s spot in the announce booth.
Curt Hennig vs. Giant
Non-title. Giant throws Hennig around as you would expect him to before spitting on him in the corner. There’s what we would call a Stinkface and Curt falls to the floor. Giant suplexes him back in and chops away as this is one sided so far. A knee lift sends Hennig flying but he avoids a charge to send Giant out to the floor. Back in and Hennig hits a PERFECTPLEX on Giant. And it was an AWESOME one too! Giant of course pops out at two and hits the chokeslam but here’s the NWO for the DQ.
Rating: C+. This gets a decent grade for that Perfectplex alone. Hennig got him up in the air and even hooked the leg for a good bridge. I never would have expected him to be capable of doing that. The match was what you would expect other than that though and was barely long enough to grade.
Giant fights off the troops for a bit but the numbers (and a belt shot from Norton) catch up to him. Sting comes out for the save to end the show.
Overall Rating: B. This was one of the best episodes of the show in a long time. Almost all of the matches were crisp and fast paced and we built up Halloween Havoc at the same time. Given all of the nonsense that came out of WCW, a lot of people forget how awesome they could be at times. This was a good example of that as the show was great and flew by. Good episode and one of the best they’ve had yet.
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