Monday Nitro – November 17, 1997: The Fighting Before The War

Monday Nitro #114
Date: November 17, 1997
Location: The Crown, Cincinnati, Ohio
Commentators: Mike Tenay, Bobby Heenan, Tony Schiavone, Larry Zbyszko

It’s finally time for World War 3 but we have one more Nitro to get through first. Last week was the first time Sting finally got beaten down but we have about five weeks before Starrcade so there’s time to make people forget about it. Other than that there isn’t much to look forward to this week other than Hennig vs. Luger which was set up last week. Let’s get to it.

Here’s the NWO to open the show and tick off the announcers. They’re here en masse with pretty much every member other than Hogan in the ring. Hall does the survey as the fans chant for Sting. Oh and Syxx isn’t there either so Hall gives him a shout out. Hall also calls out Zbyszko and gets in a good line by saying he and Nash were watching old tapes of Larry, but even when they put them on fast forward he still wasn’t moving. Scott says Larry can’t even beat Bischoff and Larry says if Hall is scared just say so and he’ll drop it.

Nash holds up the NWO tag belts and says he and Hall are champions because the Steiners never beat them. As for Giant, he can call himself the true giant of pro wrestling because Nash is just too sweet. Eric brings out the big surprise of the night: Hollywood Hogan, who brings out Rick Rude as the real surprise.

This is considered a big deal because Rude also appeared on Raw earlier in the night in a taped segment. This is considered to be a big deal for Nitro, but I’ve never understood why. Yeah Raw is taped. WCW had made that clear over the years, so why is this such a shocking moment? They had stolen far bigger names in the past and had them appear mere days later, so why is Rude such a big deal? I’ve never gotten that.

Rude says what a difference twenty four hours make. He talks about the wrongs of professional wrestling: for one thing, Shawn is calling himself world champion when he never beat Bret Hart. It’s wrong to have a referee ring the bell to rob Bret Hart of his title. On the other hand, it’s right for Bret to abandon the Titanic and join the NWO. It’s right for the NWO to beat up Sting, but it’s wrong that Rude didn’t get to participate in the beatdown. He’ll partake in the next one though.

Hogan brags about being the man in pro wrestling. Apparently Spring has sprung and Sting has been stung. Hollywood talks about all of his brothers being in the NWO for life and that’s that. I’m still waiting on the reasoning for Rude showing up here being such a huge deal.

Nitro Girls.

Ray Traylor says he’ll fight any member of the NWO one on one. He goes on with how much he hates the NWO for awhile until he gets jumped and beaten down by said NWO. This goes on for awhile, Traylor gets the spray paint treatment and that’s about it.

Glacier vs. Meng

Glacier jumps Meng to start as we hear Larry talking about some Secret Service agent telling him how much the White House loves Nitro. A kick to Meng’s head just makes him mad so he chokes Glacier down in the corner. After some clubberin, Meng misses a headbutt and a charge into the corner, allowing Glacier to fire off some kicks. Apparently Glacier wants to vary up his offense away from the kicks. His solution to this is to throw more kicks. A Jimmy Hart distraction lets Meng hook the Tongan Death Grip for the quick win.

Barbarian and Ernest Miller come in for the big four man brawl with Miller cleaning house, only to be taken down by Meng’s Death Grip as well.

DDP doesn’t want Bret to join the NWO.

Alex Wright vs. Steve McMichael

The never ending Debra vs. Mongo feud continues as she’s with Alex here. Goldberg vs. Mongo is announced for Sunday. Mongo immediately throws him to the floor but is distracted by the screeching Debra, allowing Alex to take over. We head back inside for some dance time and a spinning kick to Mongo’s gut for two. They go outside again for Alex to chop away and go back inside, only for Wright to miss a cross body. Mongo pounds away but gets distracted by Debra, causing him to shove the referee for the lame DQ.

McMichael punches Wright into the crowd for good measure.

More Nitro Girls.

Rey Mysterio vs. Chris Jericho

The bell rings and Tony immediately talks about a big Nitro in Atlanta in 1998. Jericho works on the arm to start before hooking a headlock instead. Rey flips him over into the ropes but is placed on the apron instead. A quick springboard dropkick puts Jericho down but Chris comes back with a slam for no cover. Jericho chops away in the corner and busts out a top rope gorilla press slam which is a new one even on Tenay.

Mysterio falls to the floor after no cover but Jericho follows him out and grabs Rey by the mask to send him back inside. A suplex puts Rey down for two and a double underhook backbreaker has Mysterio in even more trouble. Jericho gets two more off a regular backbreaker and a powerbomb out of the corner keeps Rey in trouble. He gets the knees up to block the Lionsault though and slides to the apron for a sunset flip and a VERY near fall. Jericho unleashes the double powerbomb but as he tries for a third, Mysterio slides off his back and hits a springboard spinning hurricanrana into the West Coast Pop for the pin.

Rating: B-. This took time to get going but the last minute or so was very hot. Mysterio can fly with the best of them and Jericho was thinking out there by working over the back. That makes for a good match and this was no exception. Mysterio would get a Cruiserweight title shot at the PPV on Sunday.

Benoit says Bret would never go NWO.

The announcers talk about about Nitro so far and here’s Bischoff to the announce desk. He slaps Larry to draw him into the obvious NWO beatdown.

Hour #2 begins.

Villano IV vs. Diamond Dallas Page

A quick rollup gets two for Page and he clotheslines IV while also shrugging off some interference from V. It worked so well the first time that V tries it again, but this time the evilness (Villano does mean villain after all) works and down goes Page for some stomping and choking. V chokes away using the ropes and while he’s being yelled at (in English), IV comes in off the top to give IV another near fall. Page comes back with a clothesline to send IV to the floor where he dives on both brothers to take over again. Back in and it’s the Pancake and Cutter for the pin. Short and better than expected.

V takes a Cutter of his own.

Cruiserweight Title: Eddie Guerrero vs. Dean Malenko

Dean is challenging and slaps away an offer of a handshake. Eddie clotheslines him down and hits a quick tilt-a-whirl backbreaker to take over. Malenko comes back with a shoulder block to send the champion to the floor but as they come back in, Eddie stomps Dean down to take over again. A dropkick to the chest and one to the back of the head keeps Dean in trouble and a suplex puts him down again.

Eddie pounds away in the corner and sends him into the buckle so he can choke away. Another suplex puts Dean down as Eddie isn’t exactly lighting the world on fire with his offense here. Dean jumps to the apron as Rey is watching from the entrance. We take a break and come back with Eddie choking Dean on the ropes. Malenko hits a backdrop and stomps away in the corner. A leg lariat gets two for Dean but Eddie comes back with a dropkick to send Dean to the apron.

Back in and Dean almost botches his butterfly powerbomb and can’t get the Cloverleaf. Eddie hooks the Gory Stretch but Dean counters into a sunset flip but Eddie counters into a rollup of his own for two. Eddie jumps into a wheelbarrow suplex but he reverses the Cloverleaf into a small package. Dean goes up top and gets superplexed down for no cover. Eddie goes up top now but Dean pulls him down with a release belly to back superplex. Both guys are down and they stay down for a ten count and a draw.

Rating: B-. This took awhile to get into but after Dean started his comeback it turned into Malenko vs. Guerrero as you know and love. Their awesome three way feud with Mysterio would continue up through Starrcade with the title changing around multiple times. Another good match here despite the slow start.

Lex Luger doesn’t think Bret would join the NWO.

We see the Nitro Party winner from last week.

TV Title: Scotty Riggs vs. Perry Saturn

Saturn is defending and Larry is still banged up from the earlier attack. The champion immediately takes Riggs to the mat with a suplex but gets dropped by an elbow to the face. Perry bails to the floor for a breather (and a shot of a South Park sign, which is pretty surprising given that there were only seven episodes aired at this point) but Scotty goes after him.

This goes badly for the challenger as Saturn suplexes him out to the floor to take over. Back in and Saturn goes after the arm as Raven goes back into the crowd. A northern lights suplex gets two for Saturn but Scotty gets his feet up in the corner. Riggs lost his eye patch at some point.

A suplex and splash get two for Scotty as Heenan suggests Saturn poke Riggs in the good eye. Riggs loads up a superplex but instead punches Saturn down to the floor instead. There’s a BIG dive off the top to take out the Flock other than Raven but Saturn crotches Riggs on the barricade to stop him again. Back in and Saturn hits a guillotine legdrop and the Rings of Saturn retain the title.

Rating: D+. Saturn looked solid but Riggs is just so boring. He has the most basic set of moves that I’ve seen for a mainstream wrestler in a very long time and he didn’t give Saturn anything to work for here. The dive to take out the Flock was good but that’s the only good spot I can ever remember in Riggs’ entire career. Saturn tried but he needed something more than Riggs here.

The Steiners and DiBiase are attacked by the NWO while on the way to the ring. Even Hogan helps out here.

US Title: Curt Hennig vs. Lex Luger

Curt is defending and hides on the floor to start until Luger pulls him in by the hair. A backdrop puts Hennig down and Lex pounds away in the corner. Curt pokes him in the eye and hits the Hennig necksnap for two. A hard chop in the corner wakes Luger up and he comes out with a clothesline to take over again. There’s a vertical suplex for no cover but Luger kicks Curt in the ribs instead.

Hennig comes right back with a pair of running knee lifts as the crowd is very silent for this match. The champion hooks a sleeper which gets two arm drops, only for Lex to fight back with a belly to back suplex. He throws Curt over the top and out to the floor but as Luger goes after him, Curt throws him into the referee and blasts Luger with the belt. Back in and there’s the HennigPlex but Nick Patrick calls for the bell.

Rating: C. Not bad here with these two having a decent chemistry together. The fans didn’t react to a lot of the stuff though and I hope that’s not because they were just expecting a run-in or a false finish. If so, that really doesn’t bode well for the last few good months we have of Nitro before everything starts to fall apart.

Post match Giant makes the save for Luger.

Giant vs. Scott Hall

Nash comes over to the commentary desk, sending Tenay and Heenan running away. Giant misses a big right hand but connects with a hard shove to put Hall down into the corner. Hall puts on a headlock but gets lifted into the air and placed on the top rope, followed by a polite tap on the jaw. Scott gets in some right hands but gets tossed into the corner with ease. Some chops put Hall down and a slam does the same.

Scott goes to the floor and after escaping a chokeslam bid, Hall slams Giant’s hand into the steps. Back inside and Hall stomps away on the hand even more but Giant rises up while no selling the hand. A few headbutts put Scott down and there’s a right hand from Giant. The chokeslam is loaded up but here comes the NWO for the save and the DQ.

Rating: C-. I liked the psychology Hall was using here but how good can a six minute match between these two on Nitro be when a minute of it is spent with Hall stomping on Giant’s hand? This was just to trigger the big brawl to end the show to set up the battle royal on Sunday. Not bad here but the time hurt it.

A bunch of midcarders come out for a big brawl to end the show.

Overall Rating: C. This was a wrestling heavy show and an ok go home show. They focused a lot on the non-battle royal matches as I’m guessing the theory is the main event sells itself on name only. Not bad here with some decent action, but the signs are all starting to appear that things are going to get bad in a hurry.

Here’s World War 3 if you’re interested:

Remember to follow me on Twitter @kbreviews and pick up my new book on the History of the WWE Championship from Amazon at:

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2 Responses

  1. Sagar says:

    Rude showing up does not seem that big of a deal when you look at it in hindsight 15 years later and see what eventually became of Rude but when you put yourself in that time and era watching the show live, this would have been the kind of thing that would have set the Internet on fire had it happened in the present day and age. A lot of these moments are bigger experiencing live. That’s what made the Attitude Era so great in the first place.

    • Thomas Hall says:

      I’d still say the same thing: we knew it was taped (as acknowledged on both shows) and while surprising, you would think it was up there with Austin winning the title in 1999.

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