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WCW Nitro
December 15, 1997
Charlotte, North Carolina

Hour 1Hour 2Hour 3Composite
4.023.653.83

Written by: John Petrie

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

- "This program is dedicated to law enforcement officers across the country
who have given their lives in the line of duty." A nice sentiment, but
why start off the show with it? (Being a cynic, I assumed it was because
Rick Rude was arrested last week). The answer to come later in the show.

- Schiavone and Tenay announce that Bret Hart will indeed appear at some
point in tonight's show. How does he know this? Eric Bischoff tell him?
So now Bischoff is letting WCW in on his plans? This is one of those
questions which never get answered, like "How is it the only people who
can find Sting are the guys who shoot the PPV promos?"

They show clips from the end of last week's show, including a new shot of
Hogan tearing off his shirt in preparation of fighting Sting.

- A near complete contingent of the New World Order heads to the ring. Even
Masahiro Chono is there. The only ones missing are the Great Muta and
Kevin Nash (who is apparently at home working out ... 12 ounces at a
time). The NWO, worried about Sting, has Konan check under the ring with
a flashlight, while Vincent checks the rafters with a pair of binoculars
(pretty funny). Bischoff gets on the mic and a few minutes of PPV hype
ensues. They go to break with the NWO not once mentioning Bret Hart.

- NWO promo #1: Larry Zbyszko gets punked.

- NWO promo #2: The Steiners get creamed.

- Snippet of the Flair interview from last week, where he talks about
Bret Hart.

- RAY TRAYLOR vs. VINCENT
I've gotta say this is the weakest Nitro opening match in a long time.
Traylor, who's just spent the last couple of months getting his ass
whooped by the NWO, is now slowly getting his revenge. He wins this match
easily and quickly, pinning him after the Sidewalk Slam. Even though the
house is full of NWO members, none of them make a run-in save. Raven's
Flock arrives during this match (again without Raven).

- Starrcade promo hyping the Giant vs. Kevin Nash.

- Nitro Girls.

- YUJI NAGATA (w/ Sonny Onoo) vs. DISCO INFERNO
Disco wins with the Chartbuster. Yay.

- FIT FINLEY vs. DEAN MALENKO
Eddie Guerrero again sits in for color commentary, but doesn't do as good
a job as last week. (He went back to being annoying). Finley wins this
okay match when Eddie goes to ringside to distract Malenko. Eddie jumps
on the apron. Dean knocks him off, which allows Finley to come up from
behind and nail him, then pin him after a Tombstone Piledriver.

- NWO promo #3: "Rowdy" Roddy Piper gets mudholed.

- LA PARK/PSYCHOSIS vs. JUVENTUD GUERRERA/REY MYSTERIO, JR.
Pretty good match, though highly choreographed (like most lucha style
matches). No blown spots, though. Match of the night with far too many
moves to recount here. The crowd, which had been fairly dead up til now,
really got into it. Guerrera and Mysterio win after a string of
incredible moves and near pins. Mysterio leaps from the top rope to the
floor, catching La Parka with a huracanrana. Meanwhile, Guerrera lands a
450 degree splash on Psychosis, then covers for the pin. Really one of
the best matches on Nitro this year. Sadly, the announcers spend a whole
lot of time talking about Bischoff, Hart, the NWO, the PPV, and just
about anything BUT the match itself (which is probably the only thing
which keeps this from earning a five star rating in my book). Commentary
can add or distract to a match and this was a case where their annoying
prattling distracted from the superb match going on in the ring.

- Mean Gene Okerlund is in the ring with a few cops. Yeah! They're finally
taking him away! Woo hoo! No wait ... it's a ceremony of some kind
(shucks!) Mean Gene brings out Arn Anderson, which was a surprise to me
(though not the fans apparently, as several Anderson signs were in the
crowd). Arn, after a few brief words about how he's glad to be back,
brings out Ric Flair. Both men receive huge reactions from the crowd.
Flair, representing WCW, gives the officers a check in the amount of
$15,000 for a memorial for Charlotte policemen who have been slain in the
line of duty.

Flair then removes his jacket, loosens up and throws out a challenge to
Curt Hennig for a match later in the show.

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

- Mean Gene has J.J. Dillon out for comments about the Bischoff match at
Starrcade. Eric quickly comes out and says that it's unfair that he has
to be in a match, and that he'll only appear if Dillon agrees to another
stipulation. Bischoff asks for knockouts via kick to be made legal.
Dillon agrees.

- NWO promo #4: Sting gets killed.

- Nitro Girls.

- Scott Hall comes out and conducts his survey. Can't they just do this at
house shows instead? I guess they need some way to kill time, especially
since the show is three hours this week. This is the first crowd in a
long time which not only loudly boos him, but also DOESN'T chant "NWO"
along with him. I guess this really is Horsemen territory.

- SCOTT HALL vs. CHRIS JERICHO
This being the rematch from an upset Jericho win many moons ago, Hall
wins quickly and easily, pinning him after the Outsider Edge.

- You think the NWO Party Videos with college student have been bad, wait
until you see a bunch of high school students do it!

- NWO promo #5: The Giant gets massacred.

- Clips from Mongo McMichael vs. the Barbarian from last week.

- MENG vs. STEVE "MONGO" MCMICHAEL
No match. They cut to the back, where Bill Goldberg has returned to lay
Mongo out. J.J. Dillon is quickly on hand to order Goldberg to take
Mongo's place in the ring.

- MENG vs. BILL GOLDBERG
No match. McMichael recovers and attacks Goldberg in the aisle. Security
and WCW officials pull the two apart.

- Nitro Girls.

- KONAN/SCOTT NORTON (w/ Vincent) vs. THE STEINER BROTHERS (w/ Ted DiBiase)
Norton seems to have recovered from whatever injury it was he had.

Nothing special here as Vincent runs in a few minutes in, causing a DQ
win for the Steiners. The NWO use their one man advantage to beat on the
Steiners until Ray Traylor runs in for the save.

- RANDY "MACHO MAN" SAVAGE vs. BOOKER T.
The first match of the second hour to have any fire to it. The two fight
in and out of the ring. Partway through the match a fat slug of a fan
runs into the ring. Savage kicks him in the head and the dope is promptly
dragged away by security and police. Savage goes on to win following an
elbow off the top. (This after the ref had been knocked out. Booker T. is
in control, but Liz helps Savage turn the tables on him. Liz then wakes
up the ref so that he can make the count).

HOUR THREE Hosted By: Schiavone, Tenay and Heenan.

- Nitro Girls.

- CHRIS BENOIT vs. RAVEN
For the FOURTH week in a row (beating the WWF's string of Jarrett
promises) Raven is a no-show in the ring. Scotty Riggs takes his place.

- CHRIS BENOIT vs. SCOTTY RIGGS
Riggs gets in some offense, but Benoit still has little difficulty
putting him away with the Crippler Crossface. He then gets on the mic and
taunts Raven (wherever he is) and the Flock, calling them a bunch of
"wannabes". He then dives into them, beating up on each until Hammer
stops him cold. Benoit is dragged into the ring and Saturn applies his
"Rings of" submission hold.

- They replay the moody Sting video they showed last week.

- Mean Gene and J.J. Dillon are in the ring. Again they seem to be holding
a coffee talk over the Bischoff/Zbyszko match. Eric comes out and again
says he doesn't have to do the match unless he gets another stipulation.
This time he wants to be able to pick the referee. Dillon makes him a
counter-proposal: Dillon will pick the ref, but will chose a member of
the NWO. (I'm sure most folks are thinking "Nick Patrick" at this point,
since when you're NWO, you're "NWO 4 life!") Bischoff agrees. Dillon
then brings out his choice:

Bret Hart.

Hart strolls to the ring, where he accepts the offer to be the special
referee. He says it's taken him a long time to get there and that it was
great to be in "Ric Flair country". Bischoff is overjoyed, but Hart
quickly crushes him when he says he knows too well what it's like to be
"screwed over by a referee!" and that Bischoff will have to win his own
way because he's on his own. Somewhere during all this they allege that
Hart is being paid "seven and-a-half million dollars a year" and has the
weekends off.

That's it? Man ... how lame. Hart's new music is an awful, almost country
version of his old theme. While he did get a good reaction coming in, it
was nothing close to what Flair and Anderson got. Many fans didn't seem
to know who Hart was, and there were only a few Hart signs in the crowd.
This was a bust and anyone who saw it and is honest about it knows it.
Why waste his debut going up against a taped RAW? Are they really THAT
worried about RAW's recent good ratings that they have to blow their big
moment in this anticlimactic a manner? This is a bell that can't be
un-rung. Hart's now there and his appearance as a referee at the PPV
isn't that big a deal-unless you still think he's NWO, which Tony and
Mike spent a great deal talking about during this, saying they never
really thought Hart was in the NWO and that the fans don't believe it
either. Yeah, right. WCW just wasted a major opportunity to please and
surprise the fans all for the sake of ratings. Hart's big "anti-WWF"
speech? All he did was confirm the WWF's story that the ref screwed him.

- NWO promo #6: Lex Luger gets whoomped.

- Mean Gene brings out the "Total Package". Buff Bagwell comes out instead.
Buff says he's now the "Total Package" after what he's done to Luger in
recent weeks. Schiavone, meanwhile, is backpedaling on his claim that he
never believed Hart was NWO. He now thinks he is, based on the money he's
being paid. Luger comes out and says he's cleared it with the production
crew for the two to have a match. Bagwell says they need a ref. Luger
brings out Nick Patrick. Bagwell says he isn't warmed up yet. Luger slaps
him, signaling the start of the match.

- LEX LUGER vs. BUFF BAGWELL
Short match. Luger is in control, then Bagwell, then Luger. Just as he
signals for the Torture Rack, Scott Norton and Vincent run in. Luger
nails them off the apron, but also accidentally knocks Bagwell over the
top rope, which earns Bagwell a win by disqualification.

- NWO promo #7: Diamond Dallas Page gets dismantled.

- CURT HENNIG vs. RIC FLAIR
Hennig works the crowd over the house mic for several minutes. They
actually cut to a commercial before Flair comes out.

The match hasn't even been going a minute when Scott Hall and the rest of
the NWO run in, drawing the DQ. Hennig nails Flair with the U.S. Title
belt and Flair is severely beaten. DDP and the Steiners run in for the
save. Flair, in front of his hometown crowd, is carried out by the
Steiners and Luger. DDP remains in the ring to challenge Hennig to come
back out.

Two more stupid fan runs in the ring. One is tackled and dragged out by
the ring announcer, while the other is grabbed by referee Randy Anderson,
who slaps a facelock on him until security can drag him out.

"Hollywood" Hogan and Bischoff come back out. Hogan calls Sting a coward.

The lights go out. They cut to the rafters where Sting is. Hogan says he
sees him. The lights go out again. This time they show Sting standing
atop the entryway to the ring on top of the "WCW Monday Nitro" logo.
Hogan challenges him to come to the ring. Sting drops down and starts to
head to the ring as the show ends.

- Next week: Nothing announced.

Comments:

Why was this show three hours? They could have easily done what was needed
in two-maybe two hours, twenty minutes . Last week, if I remember right,
Nitro featured eight matches. This week they started eleven, but only nine
really took place (ten if you actually count Flair vs. Hennig). The addition
of forty minutes only really added ONE match. RAW gets a lot of flack for
not showing enough in the ring. I'm sure most of those critics will overlook
the fact that this week's Nitro had over two hours of talk, interviews,
promos, highlight clips and commercials. WCW should really start paying us
fans to watch these infomercials for their PPV's.

With Flair about to feud with Hart (as is being suggested) what happened to
him tonight raises some interesting points. This was essentially Flair's
hometown. I find it interesting that he would allow himself to essentially
be "stretchered out". This really seems to send a message to Bret Hart:
either WCW is inconsiderate enough to bury a guy in front of their home
crowd, or Flair is man enough to do the job in front of his home crowd.
Either WCW is just as bad as the WWF, or Flair is more of a man than Hart.
Hey, don't blame me if that's the impression WCW gave me tonight.

THREE fan run-ins? There are no marks like drunken WCW marks. People, if
you've REALLY got to be part of the action, just rent the video game, hmmm?

For all its hype, this was barely more than an average Nitro. Hart's debut,
while significant, was too uneventful to be all that memorable (the lasting
memory being Hart standing there with a grin on his face, looking unsure as
to what to say). That and the tremendously good lucha match are all that
saved this show from being a three hour bomb.


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