Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Kevin's Random Reviews: WCW World War 3 1997

World War 3 1997
November 23rd, 1997 | The Palace of Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills, Michigan | Attendance: 17,128

World War 3 was always an interesting concept. It was basically WCW’s answer to the Royal Rumble, with double the competitors and two more rings. It was never executed as well as the Rumble though. 1997 was a fun time though, with WCW destroying the WWF in ratings. Here, they are one month away from the massive Sting/Hulk Hogan match (that was well built but turned out to disappoint). The winner of the World War 3 Battle Royal would receive a shot at the winner of that match. This would be the third World War 3 Pay-Per-View.

This opening video package is pretty poor, but actually isn’t bad by WCW standards. The usual commentary team for this era is here, Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan and Mike Tenay.

The Faces of Fear w/ Jimmy Hart vs. Ernest “The Cat” Miller and Glacier
Okay, the Cat and Glacier may be the greatest team of all time. The Faces of Fear attack before the bell and a brawl breaks out. The crowd is actually really hot for this. You know, if WCW didn’t use the three ring gimmick, they could have fit a lot more people here. It slows down to a regular tag with Meng taking some offense from both opponents. Mike Tenay is doing a good job in discussing the experience advantage of the Faces of Fear. Glacier and Meng get into one INCREDIBLY awkward missed spot moment. Miller steals the show by spring boarding off of Meng and onto Barbarian outside. The Faces of Fear hit a sweet back body drop into a powerbomb on Glacier. Glacier begins to take the heat and it lasts longer than I expected. Hot tag to Miller who light sup Meng with his martial arts offense. Not only was he better in the ring than Glacier, but he actually had some charisma too. Jimmy Hart gets knocked off the apron, but it opens the door for Meng to use the Tongan Death Grip to beat Miller.

Winners: The Faces of Fear in 9:11
I expected this to be terrible. I was pleasantly surprised. All four guys worked hard and the crowd was hotter than I could have ever imagined. Nothing special, though I had some fun and have to comment the efforts. **¼

WCW Television Championship
Saturn (c) w/ Raven vs. Disco Inferno

Well this is one odd pairing. Saturn is with the Flock here, entering from the crowd. Raven cut a short promo before things get started. Saturn does a lot of stalling early on, not giving this a chance to get going. Disco’s booty says “SHAKE YOUR BOOTY”. Kudos to him for going all in on a gimmick that had no business working. Saturn gets tired of Disco and hits a capture suplex that Schiavone calls a “suplex type drop”. When they go outside, Disco just starts hitting stunners on each member of the Flock in the front row. It’s pretty funny. Back inside, Disco scores on a cross body, but Saturn rolls through right into the Rings of Saturn to retain.

Winner and Still WCW Television Champion: Saturn in 8:19
A pretty dull match all in all. While the crowd was hot for the weird opener, they were pretty flat for this and the two men involved did nothing to change that. At least the finish was cool. *

Mean BAH GAWD Gene interviews last year’s winner of World War 3, the Giant. He has a busted hand courtesy of Scott Hall. Man, he’s come a LONG way when it comes to cutting a promo.

Ultimo Dragon vs. Yuji Nagata w/ Sonny Ono
If Ultimo Dragon wins, he gets five minutes alone with Sonny Ono. Dragon seems to have a messed up arm coming into this. Nagata is wise enough to go after it from the start. Dragon tries to get some of Ono during the match but gets stopped. Ono’s reaction into the camera is great. Mike Tenay does a wonderful job talking about how Japan sent Nagata to the States to try and adapt to different styles. He nails a piledriver though it sadly seems like the arm work is forgotten. Schiavone tries to cover it up by saying that Dragon’s arm is fine so Nagata went away from it. Nagata has really slowed the pace to something less than a crawl. Ultimo Dragon starts to rally and the feed cuts out for a bit. When it returns, Dragon nails a plancha to the outside. Dragon hits a moonsault inside for two. The fans are finally starting to get interested in this. Dragon counters a suplex into the Dragon Sleeper. Sonny Ono hops on the apron as Nagata submits. Dragon releases the hold to complain to the official. Again Ono gets involved to put Nagata’s foot on the ropes after a rana. Dragon goes for an ugly backdrop that causes Nagata to kick Ono off the apron. Nagata awkwardly lands on Dragon and steals it.

Winner: Yuji Nagata in 12:45
I came away from this mildly disappointed. Both guys are capable of better for sure. The crowd was dead for a good chunk and Nagata didn’t help the matter with some very dull offense in the middle. I also hated that they went away from the arm work. It was a built in, easy strategy. **¾

WCW World Tag Team Championship
The Steiner Brothers (c) w/ Ted Dibiase vs. Dave Taylor and Steven Regal

Scott is pretty damn huge already. They get the early advantage and do their trademark Steiners pose. Regal is such a master at technical wrestling. He works over Rick and does some strutting around the ring. He’s in pretty much the opposite shape from Scott Steiner. Scott wakes the crowd back up with a belly to belly. The Steiners keep hitting the big spots, which is fine, but the challengers aren’t getting in much. Finally, Scott starts to take some heat but he never seems to be in any real danger. Rick hot tags it, hitting powerslams galore. Rick and Scott double team for the Steinerizer and retain.

Winners and Still WCW World Tag Team Champions: The Steiner Brothers in 9:42
Considering the people involved, this should have been much better. The Steiners are a big time team but the crowd seemed more into the opener than this. Taylor and Regal did fine, the only issue for me was that they never seemed like a real threat to the Steiners and their reign. **

JJ Dillon is interviewed and says that Raven has 24 hours to sign a contract with WCW. Yea, Raven gets to make his own rules, but isn’t under contract.

Raven’s Rules
Raven vs. Scotty Riggs

It’s a bit odd that my biggest memory of Riggs is his time as Scott Anton and the “Clap”, in ECW. The Flock talk for a bit outside but Riggs doesn’t want to wait and attacks them. Riggs is sporting an eye patch and is totally given off a pirate vibe. He could have been Paul Burchill before Paul Burchill. Raven chokes Scott with his shirt in the first bit of “no DQ” work. Riggs gets a bit more hardcore by choking Raven with camera cables. A chair is brought into play, so Raven does his trademark bump into it from a drop toe hold. Riggs does a bulldog onto the open chair, which Schiavone sells like Raven got shot. Raven comes back with the DDT and asks for a microphone. He tells Riggs that he didn’t want to do this and that he should join the Flock. Raven spikes him on a second Evenflow and then a third. The referee counts to ten, ending the match.

Winner: Raven in 8:43
The angle itself was far more interesting than the match. It’s like, Raven knew that he was nailing it as a character, so he could afford to slack in the ring. The chair stuff was mostly cool and it could have been worse. **

Steve “Mongo” McMichael shows up for a match against Goldberg. As Goldberg’s theme plays, Mongo gets on the mic and announces that he laid out Goldberg with a lead pipe backstage. The cameras show Goldberg laid out. Mongo issues an open challenge, which is answered by DAS FUCKING WUNDERKIND! Granted, Debra is pulling him out to the ring but we do get to hear his theme.

Alex Wright w/ Debra vs. Steve McMichael
Mongo poses on the turnbuckle to Alex Wright attacks. Mongo is going to win isn’t he? That makes me sad going in. Mongo starts reeling off clotheslines and the most generic offense you could imagine. Mongo always got such an undeserving push in WCW. He hits a shitty looking sidewalk slam for two. Mongo wins with the Mongo spike.

Winner: Steve McMichael in 3:36
Why did this have to be on the Pay-Per-View? I don’t think Goldberg/Mongo would have been any good but at least it would have been worthy if it was Goldberg murdering him in two minutes. This sucked. ¼*

WCW Cruiserweight Championship
Eddie Guerrero (c) vs. Rey Mysterio

A month earlier, these two had an all-time classic that is still highly regarded as some of the best of either man’s career, which is saying something. They start off with some quick work as Rey seems to be frustrating Eddie. Eddie decides to just send Rey flying with a release German. Rey has a slip up when trying some fancy high flying stuff before send Eddie outside. He does a 619 fake out that Eddie doesn’t fall for. Eddie ends up on the apron and Rey looks for a sunset flip bomb to the outside. Either Eddie held on or Rey messed up but it never happened and looked like shit. Eddie ended up hitting a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker on the outside. Inside, Rey scores two on a rana that the crowd bites on. Eddie flapjacks him, showcasing the power advantage. He has slowed the pace to something of his liking. Rey doesn’t like that and springboards outside onto Eddie. Inside again and Eddie applies the Gory special. Mike Tenay has handled most of this match by the way. Rey counters into a rollup for two. They go for a running Liger bomb spot but again fudge it up so it is countered in sloppy fashion. Rey gets some springboard offense, including a rana that seems to win it, but Eddie barely breaks it with the ropes. Even Schiavone buys it as the finish. Rey tries to springboard to the top on Eddie but Eddie counters into a giant stun gun. Frog Splash follows it and that’s a wrap.

Winner and Still WCW Cruiserweight Champion: Eddie Guerrero in 12:41
Well, they couldn’t quite follow up the Halloween Havoc match. This one featured too many sloppy moments, mostly from Rey, and it hurt the overall score. It’s still the best thing on the card by a fair margin so far. That’s how good these two were. Their worst was still pretty damn good. ***½

WCW United States Championship No Disqualification Match
Curt Hennig (c) vs. Ric Flair

Hennig joined WCW and tagged with DDP. He turned on him to join the Four Horsemen before turning on them for the nWo. Classic WCW. Flair lights up Hennig with short punches on the outside. I’m also certain Flair will blade during this match. They brawl on the outside for a while, playing into the stipulation. Flair looks to have tweaked his knee, while Hennig hurts his throat on the guardrail. Hennig pokes the referee in the eye to avoid himself getting pinned. That’s actually pretty smart. The referee can’t do anything to him. Hennig targets the knee, allowing Flair to do his classic “OH GOD” selling. Flair turns it around and goes after Hennig’s leg. Hennig now does his own classic selling, flipping on a kick to the leg. They start to trade offense, with neither guy gaining a late advantage. Hennig tries to sell being thrown into the corner like he usually does, by getting crotched on the port. Flair doesn’t throw him hard enough so it looks odd. The match goes back to how it started, with two guys just fighting each other and not doing many moves. Hennig takes a big shot to the guardrail before Flair suplexes him back inside. Flair puts Hennig’s leg in an open chair and kicks it, which Hennig sells brilliantly. Flair attacks with the chair and locks in the Figure Four. The US Title is in the ring and Hennig grabs it. He whacks Flair with it twice to break the hold and earn the three.

Winner and Still WCW United States Champion: Curt Hennig in 17:57
This wasn’t a mark on their classic match in the early days of Raw. However, they worked the right kind of match given the feud they had. For the most part, this felt like a fight, which was a good thing. It dragged a bit at some points and the finish wasn’t great. ***½

World War 3
Participants: Alex Wright, Barry Darsow, Bobby Blaze, Booker T., Brad Armstrong, Chavo Guerrero Jr., Chris Adams, Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, Ciclope, Curt Hennig, Damien, Dean Malenko, Diamond Dallas Page, Disco Inferno, Eddy Guerrero, El Dandy, Ernest Miller, Fit Finlay, Glacier, Greg Valentine, Hector Garza, Hollywood Hogan, Hugh Morris, Jim Duggan, John Nord, Johnny Grunge, Juventud Guerrera, Kendall Windham, La Parka, Lex Luger, Lizmark, Jr., Lord Steven Regal, Louie Spicolli, Marcus Bagwell, Meng, Mortis, Norman Smiley, Prince Iaukea, Randy Savage, Ray Traylor, Rey Mysterio, Jr., Rick Steiner, Rocco Rock, Scott Steiner, Silver King, Squire David Taylor, Steve McMichael, Stevie Ray, Super Calo, The Barbarian, The Giant, The Renegade, Ultimo Dragon, Villano IV, Villano V, Vincent, Wrath, Yuji Nagata
Everyone comes out in one group except for the nWo members. They still get right amount of people even though Scotty Riggs, Goldberg and Ric Flair can’t make it. Curt Hennig at least has his knee wrapped from the previous match. Commentary says that Kevin Nash was supposed to be #60 but he isn’t here. There is a fair amount of split screen stuff to cover the three rings early, making it hard to see. The Giant dumps out both Villanos, Lizmark Jr., and Spicoli within seconds. I also see Public Enemy, La Parka and El Dandy get dumped. It’s kind of hard to keep track. Schiavone is outlandish, calling this the most prestigious match in wrestling and also saying it’s been wild. It hasn’t. It’s been mostly dull. Ernest Miller tries to eliminate Prince Iaukea by his ponytail, which is just great. Iaukea, Nagata, Wrath and Renegade get dumped as we are just under ten minutes in. The camera misses Jericho getting eliminated. Also, the Renegade was still around at this time? Not a single nWo member has gone yet because they are working together. Greg Valentine is eliminated while a bunch of guys manage to hang on. DDP and Benoit nearly eliminate each other because they are going at it. I’d like to see a match between them on a future review. Benoit and Malenko go out next. Mysterio gets some revenge for earlier by tossing out Guerrero. Then, in one of the coolest survival tactics I’ve ever seen in a battle royal, Mysterio holds onto the APRON! It looks insane. Giant tosses Wright and Mortis, leaving him and Meng alone in ring 3. Ring 1 has just tossed Scott Steiner and the remaining men are all nWo. They don’t fight each other. Giant dropkicks Meng over and out. Now that the numbers are down, everyone has to go to ring 2 and finish it. 

It’s a 5 on 5 situation. Bagwell, Vincent, Hennig, Hall and Savage against Giant, Rick Steiner, Booker T, DDP and Lex Luger. The nWo wants the fight in ring 1, so the WCW guys oblige. Of course, the first nWo guy out is Vincent after a Diamond Cutter. Booker and Steiner are sent out next after being ganged up on. FOUR guys try to eliminate Luger but he hangs on. Giant dumps Buff out over them and in the scuffle, Hennig and Luger hit the floor. The final four are DDP, Giant, Savage and Hall. Honestly, you could see these being the last four from a mile away, though Luger had a bit of a case. When DDP hits Savage with the Diamond Cutter, the building erupts. Giant stops the elimination, wanting to Chokeslam Savage. He does one of the weakest Chokeslams ever and they roll him under the bottom rope and out. Noticing that he’s alone, Hall exits ring 1 and signals to the entrance. The nWo theme hits and Schiavone says “THAT MUST BE KEVIN NASH” which guarantees that it isn’t. After a long wait, “Hollywood” Hogan shows up as the 60th entrant, even though he’s the current champion. He teams up with Hall and they head to ring 1. The crowd is all “WE WANT STING”. Hogan slams the Giant like this is WrestleMania 3 and gets a pop. While they hold serve and send out DDP, the crowd goes crazy as “Sting” comes down from the rafters. Hogan runs, eliminating himself. “Sting” is seven feet tall by the way. He hits Giant with the bat and knocks him out and over the top.

Winner: Scott Hall in 29:48
Like the other World War 3 matches, it isn’t very good. The Royal Rumble works well because of the spots involved and the suspense. This is just a giant battle royal and most battle royals are dull. The swerve at the end was especially stupid. 

Seven foot tall Sting faces off with Scott Hall and reveals himself to be Kevin Nash. The fact that the commentators completely bought into this made it so stupid. Sting is nowhere near that tall. Scott Hall gets a title shot at SuperBrawl via the win. Actually he doesn’t because, WCW.

Overall: 4.5/10; Below average. Honestly, I expected a lot worse. The World War 3 match itself is the usual lackluster event, the TV Title was lame and the Mongo stuff completely sucked ass. However, I think that Eddie and Rey had a pretty good match, while Hennig and Flair surprised me with a good old fashioned fight. Even the opener was surprising fun. The rest of the card ranged from decent to solid, meaning I wouldn’t call this a bad show, but I wouldn’t consider it a recommendation either. See the US and Cruiserweight Title matches if you have to see anything. Next on “Random Network Reviews” will be Judgment Day 2007!