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WCW Nitro
December 29, 1997
Baltimore, Maryland

Hour 1Hour 2Hour 3Composite
4.724.604.63

Written by: John Petrie

HOUR ONE Hosted By: Tony Schiavone, Mike Tenay and Larry Zbyszko.

- They start off with still photos of Sting being crowned the new WCW World
Champion. Purple and gold balloons shower the crowd, celebrating the big
win for WCW. The Nitro Girls do a number in the ring. Zbyszko then comes
to the desk amongst much fanfare. The honeymoon is apparently over for
the NWO and its fans as Schiavone begins a nightlong practice of verbally
running down anyone who supports the NWO. He calls NWO fans "18 to 25
year olds who live in their mother's basements!" He suggests they watch
the Cartoon Network instead of Nitro. (My respect for Schiavone just went
up two or three notches.)

- GLACIER vs. BILL GOLDBERG
Goldberg wins in about a minute, putting him away with the Jackhammer.

- Mean Gene interviews Bret "Hitman" Hart. Hart's new theme music is indeed
a noodly muzak rodeo version of something similar to his old music. Mean
Gene says Hart "saw the light" and that he was part of the cause for the
revitalization of WCW. Hart says he took a good, close look at the whole
NWO/WCW situation (inadvertently giving the impression that he actually
considered joining the NWO). He says the NWO is evil corrupt scum,
adding that they are like the "scum" he left behind. He rattles of a few
WCW names like the Giant, Chris Benoit, Lex Luger and Sting, saying these
are the guys he would like to wrestle (which doesn't really go over well
with the crowd). He quickly adds that he wants to wrestle against the
stars of the NWO as well. He rattles off their names, essentially laying
out a major challenge to Hulk Hogan, saying Hogan ran away from him
several years ago and that there's now nowhere left for him to hide.
During all this Hart rattles off the "Best There Is ..." line, which
practically draws boos from the crowd. A good interview by Hart, but the
crowd was really mixed, with slightly more cheers than boos. (I guess
Hart still hasn't shaken off his "bad guy" image he had when he left the
WWF.)

- Raven, from his ringside seat with the Flock, says that as long as Chris
Benoit keeps coming out to get beat up, his Flock will do the beating.
Hammer hops the rail and heads for the ring.

- CHRIS BENOIT vs. HAMMER
Benoit leaps into the Flock, laying in a few blows. They pound on him and
throw him into the aisle. The match then starts. Hammer gets in a few
inconsequential moves before Benoit applies the Crippler Crossface. The
Flock runs in, drawing the DQ. They all beat on Benoit until Steve
McMichael runs out to make the save. The crowd reacts well to the mini
Horsemen reunion.

- Mean Gene interviews Ric Flair. Flair talks about how great it is that
WCW has emerged from the NWO's shadow. He congratulates DDP for beating
Hennig, and reminds the former Perfect one that the two of them still
have an unfulfilled date with destiny. He then launches into Bret Hart,
giving him his due for doing the right thing, but then intimating that
Hart is really overrated. As evidence of this he reads a newspaper
clipping from the Baltimore Sun, which quotes Dave Meltzer as saying Ric
Flair is the greatest wrestler ever. Flair calls Meltzer Bret Hart's
"main man", but that even he acknowledges Flair is a better man than
Hart. (This makes Meltzer's second recent connection to WCW, as he was
involved in the in-ring celebration the night before at the PPV.)

- EDDIE GUERRERO vs. ULTIMO DRAGON
Quick match. Eddie has the upper hand, but Ultimo Maneuvers him into the
Dragon Sleeper, forcing Guerrero to tap out. Ultimo Dragon wins the WCW
Cruiserweight Title. Two minute match-if even that.

Ultimo Dragon is scheduled to fight for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title
next week in Japan. Supposedly the Great Sasuke was going to get that
shot, but Eric Bischoff used his influence with New Japan to get Sasuke
yanked and replaced with Ultimo. With Ultimo losing so much of his
credibility lately due to all of his losses in America it's hard to
believe this title win wasn't done solely to give him some credibility
going back to Japan. I'm betting that Eddie wins it back in a week or
two: the next PPV at the latest.

- "Hollywood" Hogan and Eric Bischoff head to the ring. Schiavone and the
others constantly talk about how Nick Patrick's pin count was fast.
Bischoff calls Hogan the World Champion. The upshot of this whole lengthy
segment is that they play clips from the PPV of Dillon saying Patrick
would be the referee, then stills from the match and how Bret Hart
screwed Hogan over. That saddest part is that Hogan is telling the truth,
though as I've said before, the "truth" and the "official version" of the
story rarely are the same in professional wrestling.

This interview lasted longer than all three matches leading up to it
combined.

- Schiavone starts to explain how only he and Tenay would announce for the
second hour when Heenan comes to the desk. Schiavone asks him what he
wants. Heenan says he's out there to do his job. Tony asks him about the
NWO. Heenan claims that he did what he did because it was his job.
Schiavone calls him a weasel, but allows him to resume his place at the
announcing desk.

- MORTIS (w/ James Vandenberg) vs. DIAMOND DALLAS PAGE
A longer match than the previous three, but still relatively short.
Typical back-and-forth with some interference attempts by Vandenberg.
DDP gets the win with the Diamond Cutter.

The fireworks erupt, kicking off the second hour ... which starts with a
commercial break.

HOUR TWO Hosted By: Tony Schiavone, Mike Tenay and Bobby "The Brain" Heenan.

- Mean Gene interviews J.J. Dillon. Dillon crows a bit about how WCW's
reversal of fortune. He confirms that Sting is that champ and that the
decision of the PPV match will stand. He then says that he's talked to
Sting, who is in the building, and that Sting is willing to put the belt
up against Hogan or anyone else in the NWO who wants a match tonight.
This gets the biggest reaction from the crowd thus far. Schiavone
mentions that the show will only be two hours tonight, but that they'll
stay with the action "to the bitter end!" (What a joke that turns out to
be.)

- DISCO INFERNO vs. BOOKER T.
Disco gets a big reaction from the crowd. Booker T. doesn't (though he
does seem to have a sizable contingent of fans). Remember what I said
about WCW losing their interest in Disco Inferno eventually? This may
have been the week for it as Booker T. beats Disco to win the WCW TV
Title. A decent match, with both men being really into it. The crowd,
while not exactly on the edge of their seats, reacted well to the big
moves done by each. Booker T. gets the win following a tumbling legdrop
off the top turnbuckle. The crowd really got behind Booker during the
match, and gave a big ovation when he won. Stevie Ray comes out to
celebrate with his tag team partner.

- J.J. Dillon tells mean Gene that he can't get any kind of response to
Sting's challenge from the NWO. Eric Bischoff comes out and says that
Hogan accepts.

- CURT HENNIG (w/ Rick Rude) vs. CHRIS JERICHO
Rude is clean shaven, which looks really strange after seeing him with
facial hair for so long.

Jericho takes control early in the match, sending Hennig to the floor,
where he stalls a bit. They then resume the match and after only a few
moves Jericho flubs a springboard moonsault attempt. Hennig catches
Jericho in the back with his knees, then applies the Hennig-Plex for the
pin. After the match Jericho flips out, grabbing a chair and whacking it
against the ringpost. Jericho yells "I'm sick of this!" Whatever.

- Nitro Girls.

- Scott Hall comes out to conduct his survey. I'm convinced that WCW
really has no idea what to do with Hall (other than job him regularly)
and that this is just their way of getting cheap heat for him. Even
though the crowd soundly booed him moments earlier, they still
brainlessly chant the NWO catchphrases along with him. Sheep, I tell you
... mindless sheep.

- Baseball player Billy Ripken is shown in the crowd. Billy's kind of nuts
anyway, so it doesn't surprise me that he's a wrestling fan. They then
show this week's Nitro Party Video, which is unbelievably bad beyond
words. Schiavone sums it up best when he says the party videos keep
dangerous people off the streets.

- BUFF BAGWELL (w/ Scott Norton) vs. LEX LUGER
Typical Luger match: Bagwell kicks his ass, Luger hulks up and Torture
Racks him for the win. Norton tries to interfere, but Luger knocks him
off the ring apron.

If WCW is willing to let Luger beat Bagwell then why not have that happen
at the PPV, where the fans are paying to see exactly that?

- "HOLLYWOOD" HOGAN vs. STING
The "Rematch of the Decade" turns out to be the "Joke of the Week".

Michael Buffer does the ring intros. Hogan comes out first. Sting then
comes out, attacking Hogan before Buffer is finished. (Sting's music, if
you missed the PPV, is the same as that which they played the night he
and his buzzard showed up at the Clash of the Champions.) Hogan dominates
the first few minutes, completely beating the crap out of Sting. Sting
then stages a mini comeback, followed by another brief turn by Hogan in
control. Finally Sting resumes control, whipping Hogan into the corner
post. (Let me quickly note that that's pretty much all this match had
been up to this point: punching, kicking and a few whips here and there.
No real wrestling moves to speak of.) Sting follows the whip with the old
Stinger Splash. He repeats it into the opposite corner, only this time
referee Randy Anderson is caught between Sting and Hogan during the
splash.

The show ends.

I didn't catch the precise time, but the show had gone over by about five
minutes at the point where the cameras faded out. Someone explain to me
how a show which routinely runs twenty minutes over, and occasionally
expands to three hours, can suddenly run out of time barely five minutes
past the announced finish time? The match itself lasted about seven or
eight minutes, with many fans across the Internet saying it was actually
better than the PPV match the night before.

What happened when the cameras went off the air? I've read about a dozen
different versions. All they agree on is that Sting won, retaining the
title, and that a huge WCW/NWO brawl broke. Beyond that I don't think the
particulars matter.

- Next week: Nothing announced.

Comments:

WCW seemed to forget that next week's Nitro, which will be from the Georgia
Dome in Atlanta, is supposed to be "the Greatest Nitro Ever!" Hardly any
mention was made of it-if any at all (I may have missed some commentary here
and there while fast forwarding through my tape). WCW's hotline is
apparently reporting that Luger will face Savage in the main event. Big
whoop.

This week's show, for what it was, wasn't all that bad, but it did ruin any
chance at being all that memorable by them pulling the terrible finish that
they did. WCW has shown over the last six months that they can stay on the
air pretty much as long as they want. Cutting a match short-and not just any
match mind you, but arguably the biggest match ever on Nitro, sent one of
two messages: either the relationship between WCW and TNT has soured a bit
(which is possible but not likely), or WCW feels in no uncertain terms that
we fans aren't worthy of seeing this match for free. This is different than
saving the match for a future PPV by doing a DQ or countout finish (as we'll
see is the case with RAW later in this Recap). This was simply a matter of
WCW promising a match, starting it, assuring us repeatedly that they'd stick
with it all the way through, then on cue yanking it away from us. I've no
doubt that the weekend shows will get higher ratings as fans tune in to see
what happened and if Sting is still the champ.

Starrcade has come and gone and how much has WCW changed? The endless title
changes aside ... not much. Hogan is still a jerk, while Bischoff is still a
bigger jerk. The NWO still has as much pull as they ever did, and is just as
capable of as much as they were before Hogan's loss. Sting won the belt, but
it took Bret Hart for him to do so. WCW's Title now has even less
credibility than the WWF's as it was won by a guy who hadn't wrestled in
over a year, and it took him help to do so. It was lost by a guy who rarely
defended it anyway before the loss. The only real difference I can see
between the pre-Starrcade WCW and the post-Starrcade WCW is that Tony
Schiavone now has a pair of balls and feels confident enough to trash the
NWO out loud.

They still haven't officially announced the new TBS show to the public. The
only ones who know about it are the fans on the Internet and those in the
town where tickets are now on sale. The other 90% of WCW's audience has
absolutely no clue that there is even a show being put together. The TV
schedules for January don't even list it. If the show only pulls in mediocre
ratings it's WCW's own damn fault.


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