Friday, April 28, 2017

Random Network Reviews: WCW Spring Stampede 1997

Spring Stampede 1997
April 6th, 1997 | Tupelo Coliseum in Tupelo, Mississippi | Attendance: 8,356

1997 will forever be remembered as one of the hottest and most important years in wrestling history. The WCW was riding high as, thanks to the nWo angle, and beating the WWF in the ratings war. Interestingly enough, this card seems to be something of a “B” show. Hulk Hogan and a few other main event guys are missing, while the Macho Man/DDP feud is thrust into the main event spotlight. This is the second Spring Stampede Pay-Per-View.

The show opens with a video that runs down the card. Honestly, it doesn’t sound too bad. Commentary is Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan and Dusty Rhodes.

Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. Ultimo Dragon
Ah, I love these cruiserweight opening contests on WCW shows. Mike Tenay joins commentary for this and discusses that they have split two PPV matches (both in 1996). They start with some mat work, playing off of the fact that they know each other well. Dragon hits the first big spots with a spinning rack drop, followed by a powerbomb right into an alley oop tat drops Rey on the top rope. He hits a SICK Liger Bomb an then a jumping tombstone. How are people later in the show supposed to do any offense later? Dragon continues to pick up Rey from pins, wanting to prove some sort of point. Commentary has no idea what the point is though. Dragon continues to stretch Rey. Rey finally knocks Dragon outside and somersaults out onto him. While this great action is going on, we go to a damn split screen of Lee Marshall trying to interview Kevin Nash, only to get Syxx instead. Seriously? You couldn’t do this after the match? Rey does the babyface comeback work during this until he gets dropkicked off the top and outside. Back inside though, Rey tries an Asai moonsault but Dragon dropkicks him in midair. Then he swings like him Cesaro. Dragon hits a top rope rana but Rey gets his foot on the bottom rope. There are some really close near falls until Rey springboards off the second rope with a rana for the win.

Winner: Rey Mysterio Jr. in 14:55
Great opener. I’ve seen all of their PPV matches and this was about on par with Hog Wild. The only issues I had with it was that no explanation was given for Ultimo not wanting to pin Rey early and the split screen stuff. A fast paced match between two guys with great chemistry. ***¾

Lee Marshall tries to interviews Kevin Nash again but gets held back. Then the Steiners show up and want to fight so badly that Scott has to be maced.

WCW Women’s Championship
Akira Hokuto (c) w/ Sonny Ono vs. Madusa

Instant “USA” chants. Madusa starts jabbing Hokuto in the corner like she’s the Undertaker or something. Hokuto quickly turns it around and goes for a pin after a body slam. Madusa bridges out of it impressively and goes into some of her offense. Hokuto kicks out of a cross body by just choking Madusa. HEEL! Sonny Ono gets involved by slapping Madusa while she’s in a submission. Madusa again nearly wins with a German. Ono gets on the apron and Madusa kicks him off. Madusa goes for a powerbomb but Luna Vachon runs out and kicks Madusa in the knee. This allows Hokuto to fall on top of Madusa and retain.

Winner and Still WCW Women’s Champion: Akira Hokuto in 5:13
Solidly worked match. Madusa was doing things that weren’t really the norm for any other American women in the era. I wish we got to see Akira do a bit more though. **¾

WCW Television Championship
Prince Iaukea (c) vs. Lord Steven Regal

Prince Iaukea gets close to ZERO reaction from the crowd. Both guys go through some exchanges of holds but none of it is particularly interesting. Usually, I can get into Regal’s style even if some people can’t, but it’s not working here. Commentary also seems to be focusing on everything but the match. I can’t blame them. Regal is stretching the champion, who is sloppy with most of his attempted offense. After Regal continues to twist Iaukea, he then randomly scores on a rollup.

Winner and Still WCW Television Champion: Prince Iaukea in 10:01
Whoever decided to give this ten minutes must not have known how the match would go down. I like Regal’s style, but nobody cared for Prince Iaukea and they sucked the energy out of the building. Just very dull. 

A pissed Steven Regal attacks Prince Iaukea after the match. Cutting to Mean Gene, he teases a Kliq coming to WCW. I’m pretty sure all Kliq members that would ever be in WCW were already there. Ric Flair is interviewed about his upcoming return.

Jeff Jarrett and Steve “Mongo” McMichael w/ Debra McMichael vs. Public Enemy
Kind of funny to think that Debra would again manage Jeff Jarrett in the WWF. They give us no backstory for this match so it seems very random. Mongo and Jarrett clean house within the first few minutes and both strut to a pop. Public Enemy regroup and work over Jarrett, causing him to take a breather outside. Commentary plays up the fact that Jarrett nearly walked out and is barely communicating with Mongo. They give us the terrible split screen effect again as Debra slaps Johnny Grunge a few times while Mongo tosses Rocco Rock around by the stage. Things calm down a bit and end up back in the ring, where Debra trips Rocco. Jarrett starts hitting dropkicks before Mongo breaks up a piledriver with an ugly clothesline. Rocco comes in with a briefcase and nails Jarrett in the back as he tries the Figure Four. Grunge lays in Figure Four position so his leg is on Jarrett’s and they count the three.

Winners: Public Enemy in 10:42
I have no idea what this match was. Almost nothing that happened made any sense and I came out more confused than I went in. The only thing I understood was that they wanted to show friction within the Horsemen, but the match was just so bad. ½*

As is usually the case with WCW, we got to Mean Gene once again. He interviews Harlem Heat and Sister Sherri about the Four Corners Match later. Sherri basically says that even if they end up facing each other, there is a plan for it. This is the infamous promo where Booker drops the N bomb. Classic.

WCW United States Championship
Dean Malenko (c) vs. Chris Benoit w/ Woman

Okay, this should pick things back up. They start with a feeling out process, with both men jockeying for position. Nothing they’re doing is groundbreaking, but it’s all very crisply done. Both guy are masters on the mat and it shows here. Things start to pick up when Benoit just lays into Dean with some loud chops. Benoit hits a big back suplex for two as things are starting to hit second gear. He stays in the driver’s seat, even stopping anything Dean tried. Dean tries a suplex but Benoit counters into an inverted one of his own. With both men down, Jacqueline shows up and starts laying into Woman. Jimmy Hart rushes out and past the catfight. Benoit hits the diving headbutt for two. Hart takes the US Title and goes to leave with it when Eddie Guerrero stops him. Eddie’s arm is in a sling. Dean gets on the apron and suplexes Benoit to the outside. With the referee looking at the ladies brawl, Arn Anderson shows up and levels Malenko. Now comes Kevin Sullivan who hits Benoit in the back with a kendo stick of some sort, finally resulting in a DQ.

Match ends in a No Contest at 17:56
I’ve seen these two do far better. The action was just starting to get really good when we got the overbooking galore. I mean, five different people running in is seriously too much. Disappointing, but a solid showing. ***

Kevin Sullivan, Jacqueline and Jimmy Hart now steal the US Title and put is on Eddie Guerrero’s shoulder while dragging him out. What the hell just happened?

WCW World Tag Team Championship
Kevin Nash (c) w/ Ted Dibiase and Syxx vs. Rick Steiner

Leave it to WCW to have the Tag Team Titles defended in a singles match. I feel like this happened more than once in the company. Nash clobbers on Rick while commentary talks about how unheard of this kind of match is. Rick gets two on a powerslam. Schiavone complains that Nick Patrick gave a slow count, since he’s with the nWo but it was actually a fair count. He does show how crooked he is when he turns his back to Syxx putting the boots to Rick. Nash connects on the Jackknife but Rick manages to kick out. He goes for it again but Rick just hits a low blow. Surprised that Patrick didn’t call for the bell. Bulldog by Rick though Patrick gives a slightly slow count so Nash kicks out. STEINERLINES! Syxx exposes the turnbuckle and Nash hits snake eyes. He continues the beating and Ted Dibiase gets in to say that’s enough. They argue and Ted leaves while Nash continues hitting snake eyes. Nash then pins him and it’s over, but even Nick Patrick wasn’t pleased with this.

Winner and Still WCW World Tag Team Champion: Kevin Nash in 10:20
The angle they were going for to cause dissension in the nWo made sense but it didn’t really come off well until the end. Everything leading up to the finish was relatively dull. *

The Giant and Lex Luger are interviewed about the upcoming match. Nothing they say is intriguing since neither is goo on the mic, though Giant would get much better as Big Show. Also, I feel like he joined the nWo a few months before but he’s already face again.

Number One Contender’s Four Corners Match
Booker T vs. The Giant vs. Lex Luger vs. Stevie Ray w/ Sister Sherri

Sherri comes out with both Harlem Heat members but I only wanted to list her once. Two men are allowed to be legal at once while the other two are on the apron. They work it like a normal tag match for the most part until Luger and Giant end up against each other. They fight for a bit before tagging in Harlem Heat to fight. Surprisingly, the crowd goes WILD for this. Unfortunately, the actual interaction is way less exciting. Outside of that interaction, it goes back to being a tag match of sorts, with Harlem Heat tagging each other and the same goes for the Giant and Luger. Schiavone talks about Luger drawing power from the fans more than anyone in the sport, which is laughable considering how badly miscast he always is as a babyface. They basically end up doing a hot tag to the Giant. He cleans house, then tags in Luger and steps aside so Luger can put Stevie Ray in the Torture Rack and get the title shot.

Winner: Lex Luger in 18:18
As noted several times, this was pretty much just a tag team match with only slight interaction of the teams facing each other. Neither team was lighting the world on fire with their matches at this time, so this was about as basic as it would get. By the way, Luger didn’t get the shot until August. **

No Disqualification Match
Diamond Dallas Page w/ Kimberly vs. Randy Savage w/ Miss Elizabeth

They show Macho Man and Elizabeth walking backstage towards the ring. Savage kills it here, talking about a party later where he will invite 14-22 women. Elizabeth has no problem with this, causing Savage to get excited and say “SLIM JIMS FOR EVERYONE!” I can’t make this up. This happens to be DDP’s first foray into the main event and, judging by the buyrate for the show, it showed he was a legit player. They brawl from the start, which is what I like from this kind of match. It goes through the crowd and spills to the back. Back to the ringside area and Savage hides behind Kimberly before getting in a cheap shot. Savage throws DDP around outside and into the steel steps. Savage continues to stay in control until DDP rallies inside. He gets in some right hands and a big spinning clothesline. Savage hits a slam and looks to fly off the top with a ring bell. Kimberly snatches it from him but Savage is just like “I’ll just do the elbow anyway” though DDP gets his foot up to block. Even so, he still can’t officially get in the driver’s seat. When DDP kicks out again, Savage just piledrives the referee. The fans chant that they want Sting. Savage connects on the elbow and covers but he looks like an idiot since he just threw the referee out. Oh wait, here comes Nick Patrick. DDP busts out the Diamond Cutter from out of nowhere! He struggles to cover and Patrick takes a bit but counts the three.

Winner: Diamond Dallas Page in 15:37
Solid but unspectacular. They would go on to continue the feud and have better matches, but this was a good start. It came off as a personal battle and gave DDP a relatively big win in his first PPV main event. ***

Kevin Nash and the nWo show up. Nash plants Nick Patrick with the Jackknife. Savage tries to go after Kimberly but Eric Bischoff calms him down. OR SO WE THINK! The fans chant for Sting and Savage looks at the rafters but he’s not here. Savage shoves Bischoff leading to a pull apart brawl. The dissension of the nWo overshadows DDP’s big win.

Overall: 3.5/10; Not good. Well, this got off to a good start but really fell for the most part. After a strong opening contest, the rest of the show was below average. Even the solid matches, like Savage/DDP and Benoit/Malenko, were much less than I usually come to expect from those performers. There was some bad stuff outside of that, bringing the overall score even further down. Not a recommended event. Next time on “Random Network Reviews” will be The Wrestling Classic!