WCW Spring Stampede 1997
A big announcement: Kevin Nash will not be allowed a replacement partner if Scott Hall doesn't show up. However, Nash has some demands...that he won't tell to anyone.
Ultimo Dragon vs Rey Mysterio Jr.
No Sonny Bono tonight. This is the rubber match, if you only count PPVs. Which is all they're counting. This is far more grounded compared to the other matches, which had Liger running through AKI movesets on Rey. The main difference is that now, Ultimo is no longer being booked as as an unknown threat and has become just another guy in the cruiser division. In a lot of ways, WCW has gutted the cruisers this year by moving Eddie/Benoit/Dean/Rey/Ultimo out of that group and not replacing them with similar talents. You can push Psychosis and Juvi all you want. They aren't Rey and Eddie. Ultimo hits a ridiculous corner to corner Ligerbomb and a jumping tombstone. It appears Ultimo wants to win via submission. Now this is becoming more like their previous matches, with Dragon just smashing Rey with all the power moves. A whole lot of Ultimo working sleepers, though. Which, in theory is not a bad idea, but I'm not sure the Dragon Sleeper has been established in WCW, yet.
TO THE BACK. Lee Marshall got to speak with Kevin Nash. SWERVE, no he doesn't.
TO THE BACKING on a PPV. The match devolves into lucha fuckery for a while. My WCW rewatches have convinced me that Ultimo was not as good as I thought he was as a kid. He's a lot of fun in short matches where he smashes dudes with a ton of movez, but whenever he is in a match that has to go 10 or more minutes, it always falls apart. I don't think he had a good grasp on psychology or pacing. I've seen times in Japan where he looked like Sin Cara. Rey wins with a springboard rana OUTTA NOWHERE.
TO THE BACK. Tony The Tiger tries again to talk with Nash. The Steiners show up and are held back by security. Nash's only demand is that Nick Patrick is the ref. And then he spits in Scott's face. Scott flips his shit and gets pepper sprayed because he hit an official.
Madusa vs Akira Hokuto WCW Women's Championship
If you were expecting a great women's match...well, it starts with hair pulling and slaps. And despite Akira being the smaller woman, the match is built with her as the power wrestler, with Madusa having to rely on her speed. In a match with no real story, it ends with TWO botched finishes. First, Sonny misses his cue to break a pin, meaning Akira had to awkwardly kick out of the German suplex to the confusion of everyone. Then, Luna Vachon was way late on her run-in, meaning that Akira got powerbombed anyway, yet got the win. It was a mess. Title retained.
Steven Regal vs TAFKATAFKAPI WCW TV Championship
Fuck Prince. It's been a garbage title reign. Regal should have immediately come out and smashed him like he did all of the jobbers on Nitro. Even the good Lord himself can not make me want to sit through a Prince match. Prince wins with a counter to a counter roll up. Title retained. Regal beats the shit out of him after the match.
TO THE MEAN BY GOD GENE. Ric Flair is the guest. He says that he's going to be cleared for action on May 1st, claims the Horsemen are united, and then talks about Piper. He then invites Kevin Greene to come wrestle with the Horsemen...wait...wasn't it just about a year ago when the Horsemen paid his friend Mongo to turn on him? He also makes reference to fighting Bischoff, "no pencil", and that's a SHOOT, brother.
Public Enemy vs Jeff Jarret/Steve McMichael
Mongo and Jeff appear to be on the same page, with Mongo even joining in on the strut. However, I've seen this shit for months and am definitely expecting Jeff to turn on Mongo. PE suck when not in ECW nonsense brawls, Mongo is Mongo, and Jeff is working as a tweener. It's just all weird. Mongo and Rock head up to the stage, but we can't see most of it because they don't even have the double screen up. Once they do, that fight is over, and Grunge is going through a table on a tiny screen. PE get the win after using the briefcase. While Jeff had the figure four locked in.
TO THE MEAN GENE. Gene hypes up the new KLIQ in WCW. Lol. His guests are Harlem Heat. This is the famous, "Hulk Hogan, we comin' for you, nigga!", promo. It's hilarious. Booker looks like he knows he's about to get fired. Sherri is trying to calm him down. Stevie and Gene don't even flinch and just keep going with the promo.
Chris Benoit vs Dean Malenko WCW US Championship
Let's hope that there is no Kevin Sullivan involvement in this. This starts how you'd expect...mean ass wrasslin. Benoit somehow gets a giant cut I think in-between his index and middle finger. This is, obviously, very technically proficient, but there is no story around it. There was no reason Benoit was the number one contender. One week, Dean said he was looking forward to their title match and that was that. They had no interaction before that. It's just...they're wrestling. Which is fine on TV in short bursts. You can't put guys on PPV in long matches and expect people to care just because they're good. There needs to be a REASON for the match. There isn't even the most basic of reasons, that being Benoit winning matches to become the number one contender. He's spent all month still feuding with Kevin Sullivan. Dean went from a feud with Syxx/Eddie to nothing. Eddie vanished, Syxx is hurt. People get tired of the 6th meaningless action scene in a big summer action movie, no matter how technically great the CGI looks. If it has no story, there is no reason to care. And here, I find myself having a lot of difficulty to care about this match, despite the guys knocking the shit out of each other. Dean isn't getting matches with the main event guys despite being the number one contender. Of course, Jackie shows up to fight with Woman. Jimmy Hart is out there. Eddie comes out with his arm in a sling. Then Arn comes out. Then Sullivan comes out. Arn lets Sullivan hit Benoit in the head with a cane. Sullivan falls off the apron onto Eddie. They drag Eddie away with the US Championship. The match is thrown out. The finish ends with about 8 different stories, none of which had anything at all to do with the story of this match.
Kevin Nash vs Rick Steiner WCW Tag Team Championships
Hall is still MIA, Scotty is arrested, Rick has inner ear issues, and Nick Patrick is the ref. I enjoyed Nash doing Hall's toothpick spot. This is exactly what I was talking about with the last match. Despite it being a Rick Steiner solo match, and a Kevin Nash on the brink of not giving a fuck match, I'm more interested in this than 20 minutes of Benoit/Malenko for no reason. Is this a great match? Of course not. But it is a lot more interesting than 20 minutes of meaningless work. RICK STEINER KICKED OUT OF THE JACKKNIFE. I don't believe that had ever happened. I can't believe the announcers didn't make a huge deal out of that. Low blow! Low blow! Low blow! Super bulldog! This is basically four on one, plus Rick having vertigo, and he still won't give up. Syxx takes the turnbuckle pad off. Nash hits snake eyes on the exposed bolt. And again, ear first. Nash pulls up for the jackknife. DiBiase says that's enough. Nash gets in his face and does another snake eyes. Ted gets in the ring to end this. Nash won't listen, so he walks off. Another snake eyes. Jackknife. Even Nick Patrick feels this is too much and has to be forced to make the count. While not really much of a match, it was an interesting story, which ties into the over all nWo story. Nash being positioned as a new breed who is too intense and violent for the old guard, making them question what it is they're doing in the first place. Almost as a power struggle set up, since Hogan hasn't been around and Nash is trying to fill that vacuum. It's good shit.
TO THE MEAN GENE. Lex and Giant talk about Hogan pitting brother against brother and friend against friend, but it will be all worth it when they take the title away from him.
Stevie Ray vs Booker T vs Lex Luger vs The Giant Number One Contendership
Lex and Booker begin. Sherri seems more into Stevie, Stevie and Booker seem angry at each other, and Lex/Giant are supporting each other. When Giant and Lex get in, they replay the opening Andre/Hogan spot, which Brain points out as deja vu, but Dream and Tony ignore. Harlem Heat get tagged in. It's gonna be on like neckbone. They briefly show off before tagging out. WCW is STILL making occasional references to Giant being Andre's son. This isn't very interesting. Again, this had almost no build to it. If there was a promo to announce it, it wasn't on Nitro. It was just one day "four corners at Spring Stampede!". Just the idea of why Booker and Stevie would be in a number one contender match makes no sense to me. If they've had any singles matches, it's always against other tag guys not in contention for singles titles. Suddenly, they're in a match to get a shot at the top title. Giant was about to go for the chokeslam and instead tagged Lex in. Lex wins with the torture rack and will face Hogan for the title at a later date.
Randy Savage vs DDP No Disqualification
Macho got the full Goldberg entrance. LMAO at Macho getting in the face of two little girls at ringside. Bowed up on them and flexed. DDP has a promo with Gene after Macho's entrance, which I hate. Do the promos before hand. Kim is with DDP. Macho does a lot of stalling and baits DDP into an attack on the floor, but DDP ain't playing that shit. Diamond Cutter is countered. Things head into the crowd. There is plundah, there is violence, there is hatred. Macho uses Kim as a shield while Liz gets in a cheap shot. This is some dirty shit. Macho seems to be working to break ribs, repeatedly throwing DDP into the guard rail and steps. Then uses chairs, slapping Penzer around for fun. He should have knocked Buffer around. Holy shit Macho LARIATOOOOOO. I've never seen Macho hit one like that. Just crushed DDP. DDP hits his own, but Macho has been knocking the shit out of him. Macho tries to do the ring bell to the throat trick on DDP. Kim pulls the bell away and DDP counters the ax handle. Macho again counters the Kanyon Cutter, this time with a low blow. Piledriver to Mark Curtis. All to take his belt. He probably could have just taken that belt. I mean, Savage is wearing a weight belt. He could have just used that. Macho hits the elbow, but now there is no one to count the pin. Nick Patrick returns. Nash also comes out. KANYON CUTTER! OUTTA NOWHERE! BANG! DDP wins! Nash immediately hits the ring to get in Nick's shit. The rest of the nWo come up, led by the suspended Bischoff. Jackknife to Patrick. Macho goes after Kim, and Bischoff has to stop him from hitting her. He then pie faces and slaps the shit out of Bischoff. The group hits the ring to pull it apart before things escalate.
Great match. Great finish to the show. It established so much shit. DDP is a star, Diamond Cutter is DEATH, Macho is insane, the nWo is eating itself and falling apart without strong leadership, and WCW finally has the momentum on their side again. Flair is coming back, Sting picked his side, Lex is coming for Hogan, DDP is a top player now, all while the nWo can't keep their house in order. It's great stuff. Nash trying to usurp the power of the nWo by showing that he's a more violent and vicious breed of wrassler, making the old guard feel uncomfortable with it all. I'm into all the nWo stuff on this show, because it has story and character work. 20 minutes of Rey/Ultimo and 20 minutes of Benoit/Malenko didn't do anything for me. Well, I guess Dean/Benoit had some story stuff, but not relating to THEIR story. It was a match designed to fill time and further other stories involving the two, making the match itself feel completely meaningless.