World Championship Wednesday: Road Wild 1997 review

Welcome to World Championship Wednesday, our review series on randomly selected WCW pay-per-views from the WWE Network. The selection process usually involves my wife picking a month and a year, and me watching the corresponding event. But she’s in Italy for the month, so randomppv.info it is!

THIS WEEK: WCW Road Wild 1997 (Aug. 9).

THE BILLING: “Lex Luger defends the WCW Title against Hollywood Hulk Hogan. The Steiner Brothers battle The Outsiders for the WCW Tag Team Title.”

So we’re in the thick of nWo dominance, only this is during the 10 minutes or so when Lex Luger was allowed to hold the world championship. Like, seriously … they gave the title to maybe the one main-event guy who is a worse wrestler than a 43-year-old Hollywood Hogan. (Note: This will not be the last, shot at the descipable Lex Luger this evening.)

We’re also in the thick of the “outdoor PPV in front of a bunch of bikers in South Dakota” era. This led to an … ummm … interesting atmosphere. Plenty of late ’90s eye candy, though, which will be pointed out by Dusty Rhodes basically all night.

WCW Road Wild 1997 Dusty Rhodes Tony Schiavone Bobby Heenan
All photos are screenshots from WWE Network programming unless otherwise noted.

Rhodes, Tony Schiavone and Bobby Heenan are on the call. And if a bunch of guys can win … WCW will FINALLY defeat the nWo. Dusty: “Opportunity is knocking on the DOOOOOR, if you will.”

We start with a typical WCW-nWo JV tag matchup. Cool matchup screens!

WCW Road Wild 1997 match screen

BUFF BAGWELL & SCOTT NORTON (w/Vincent) vs. HARLEM HEAT (Booker T. & Stevie Ray)

I’m a mark for Buff, so I’m all about this match, even if it’s the nWo B-squad. Also, this allows us to witness Booker in a Yankee hat.

WCW Road Wild 1997 Booker T

Not a fitted, though. You ain’t legit, sucka!

On another note, Norton just doesn’t seem like he wants to be there. Probably because Bagwell is a camera whore. Bagwell’s probably a camera whore because, well, look at him.

WCW Road Wild 1997 Buff Bagwell

Buff gets the upper hand on Booker with a pair of hip tosses and dropkicks to both faces, then a lariat that’s slightly better than Luger’s usual offering. Tag to Norton, but that fails. Well, he gets a side slam in at least, which is sold as a potential finisher. I miss the ’90s. Booker obviously was good enough to be a world champion in WCW and WWE, but it may have been after his athletic peak. His work in Harlem Heat, especially in those quick spurts, is absolutely fantastic. Stevie pulls the rope so Bagwell gets dumped over at 4:00, reminding us the Heat have been, in fact, heels at some point in their existence. Book with the scissor kick at 5:45, and a cover for 2. He locks in the second rest hold on Buff; Stevie had the first about a minute prior. Bagwell’s almost playing the face in peril here, and he gets a much better lariat to knock down Booker … right into a tag to Stevie. On the mic, there’s an interesting balance — Schiavone & Co. are calling the match athletically while still discussing the prevailing WCW-nWo tiff.

WCW Road Wild 1997 Jacqueline

Hold up … is that Jacqueline? I’m surprised, but for a different reason than the 1997 fans should be apparently. Then again, how often does a team get a manager mid-match? I only remember her from the WWF, hence my shock.

Meanwhile, Booker’s powerbomb attempt gets blocked, and Buff responds with a successful one. Hot tag to Norton (?) and he has lariats and shoulder tackles for everyone! Vincent (you know him as Virgil) distracts Stevie, and Norton hits the shoulderbreaker on Booker in the ring, but Jackie jumps on Flash long enough for Booker to hit a pair of kicks and get the cover, and Jackie pulls on Norton’s leg to get the assist.

WCW Road Wild 1997 Booker T Jacqueline

Time: 10:20

Technical Merit: Nothing great, but when a couple bad lariats are the only complaint, that’s not a bad thing.

Artistic Impression: Gotta love someone outheeling the nWo … and a surprise manager appearance. It works for me.

TOTAL SCORE: *3/4

Road Wild score: WCW 1, nWo 0

•••

WCW Road Wild 1997 KonnanK-Dogg. Mother F-ing yes.

WCW Road Wild 1997 Rey Misterio Jr

Skinny Rey. Also yes.

There’s some hatred here, and it’ll be settled (for now) in Sturgis!

KONNAN vs. REY MYSTERIO JR., Mexican Grudge Death Match

Rey sold the left knee on the way to the ring, but he hits a springboard dropkick and a headscissors in the opening moments. Lariat from K-Dogg and the “¡Arriba La Raza!” shoutout. It doesn’t even take 90 seconds for Konnan to throw on a leglock. I don’t think Nick Patrick counted when Konnan was pulling the ropes, so maybe “Mexican Grudge Death Match” means No DQ? Rey sells the knee again after a headscissors, and K-Dogg goes right back after it. Heenan declares Konnan will win because, well, he’s meaner than Rey. I declare he’ll win because the other guy has a bum knee. Rey’s crawling around 5 minutes in, and a legdrop into a legscissors. Great storytelling here. If you’re like me and only saw Wolfpac K-Dogg dropping gangsta promos, it’s interesting to see him work so well. At 5:45, we get the obligatory mask removal attempt. He’s successful, only Rey keeps it over his face. He gets it back on and hits a dropkick and a legdrop, and the leg gives again. Naturally, he hits another legdrop with the good leg, gets up and goes for a double springboard moonsault, but he misses and hurts the leg further. One short dropkick later, Mickey Jay FINALLY asks whether Rey wants to submit. Rey’s not about to give up, so he gets a belly-to-belly instead. K-Dogg grabs the leg, but Rey gets the rollup for 2. Then HE hits a short dropkick and limps around some more. Lather, rinse, repeat. Rey’s calling for the top rope? But he can’t get up there … OK, finally he gets there, only to jump into a cradle DDT. That was glorious. Tequila Sunrise time, still one of my favorite submissions ever, and Rey maybe took 3 seconds before tapping. Konnan still waits about 30 seconds before releasing the hold.

WCW Road Wild 1997 Konnan Tequila Sunrise

Time: 10:55

Technical Merit: This was Pro Wrestling 101 executed perfectly. The entire match was about Rey’s left leg, and it worked. Misterio still mounted some offense, but it was a matter of time before he just couldn’t go anymore.

Artistic Impression: Great storytelling, and a fun, simple old-school match to watch.

TOTAL SCORE: **1/2

Road Wild score: WCW 1, nWo 1

•••

Two things I learned after the match: Misterio was only 22 at the time, and gas in Sturgis was $1.30/gallon over that weekend.

WCW Road Wild 1997 Sturgis

I filled up my 1982 Subaru hatchback for about $9 at one point in the early 2000s; that gets you less than a quarter-tank in my 2011 Prius. And I’m the economically sound one, since it’s a hybrid! I miss my late teens.

WCW Road Wild 1997 Gene Okerlund

After Gene Okerlund plugs the hotline and shows off a tattoo — no, really — I hear some Horsemen music. Out comes someone widely considered one of the worst Horsemen ever, and a man who no longer exists in the wrestling world.

WCW Road Wild 1997 Steve McMichael Chris Benoit

The other team has questionable chemistry — you have a wannabe Ric Flair and a man who doesn’t give a damn unless it’s between the bells.

THE FOUR HORSEMEN (Chris Benoit & Steve McMichael) vs. WCW United States Champion JEFF JARRETT & DEAN MALENKO (w/Debra), elimination match

So Debra is Mongo’s wife at this time, but she’s in the other corner. Interesting. Also, Benoit has better hair and a better, more natural physique at this time. The Iceman and The Crippler put on a counterwrestling clinic to start; this is why people remember WCW so fondly. Then Mongo gets the tag and completely takes over.

If you’re WCW, why do you push this man? Why do you make him a Horseman? And why do you give him such great music in 1998? It’s mind-boggling. He doesn’t have the physique; he looks like a former defensive lineman who hit the treadmill, but not the weights. He doesn’t have the charisma. He doesn’t really have the ability. It just doesn’t make sense. He’s so … average.

Thankfully, it’s back to Benoit and we can get back to wrestling. OK, nevermind. At least Mongo hits a side salto before tagging Benoit back in. Meanwhile, Jarrett hasn’t been in the match. Mongo carries Dean toward that corner, only to get scoop slammed. Malenko finally escapes Mongo’s grasp … and he tags to Jarrett.

Wait a second … Jarrett pulls Mongo on top of himself, gets pinned, and bails. He still has the gold and the girl, so he’s Honey Badgering it.

WCW Road Wild 1997 Jeff Jarrett Debra

That’s … amazing.

Now it’s 2-on-1, but now Malenko is getting a second wind. That includes a Texas Cloverleaf, but Benoit is in the ropes. He goes for the piledriver, but Benoit reverses, then hits the ominous diving headbutt. Mongo hits a piledriver of his own, and this one mercifully ends.

WCW Road Wild 1997 Chris Benoit

Time: 9:36

Technical Merit: You have Benoit and Malenko, so that’s good. Nothing looked bad, but it wasn’t exactly great when McMichael was in the ring.

Artistic Impression: Jarrett’s bit was fantastic. Besides that, just a classic story of one man being worn down until he couldn’t go anymore. Thanks for nothing in that regard, Double J.

TOTAL SCORE: *3/4

•••

The next match will just be one giant mark-out moment. Not just for this man …

WCW Road Wild 1997 Chris Jericho

… but especially for this man.

WCW Road Wild 1997 Alex Wright

And it’s for my favorite WCW belt. I’m in love with this pay-per-view.

ALEX WRIGHT (c) vs. “Lion Heart” CHRIS JERICHO, WCW Cruiserweight Championship

Sounds like Jericho is the face here; Wright’s tactics are unsavory, but enough to get him the gold. Both men are second-generation athletes — Wright’s father, Steve, was a wrestler, and we learn of Ted Irvine‘s lengthy NHL career. Schiavone points out the fans can relate to the Canadian better than “the guy in key lime tights who dances”. I’m still rooting for Das Wunderkind here. Mike Tenay drops in and points out both men are over 220 pounds, which gives them advantages over the rest of the 225-and-under division. Subtle fact, yes, but completely missing from today’s programming.

Wright’s using the hair to maintain a side headlock at 3:30, but Lionheart breaks out and hits that trademark spinning kick to get an advantage. Jericho crotches Wright with the atomic drop variation, then hits a springboard dropkick to put the German on the outside. Another springboard, this time a crossbody, and pre-Y2J has set the pace. Vicious chop, break the count, slam onto the platform outside. Great ring psychology. He breaks the count again, but Wright puts him into the steps, then hits a vertical suplex, breaks the count once more and starts chopping away before depositing the challenger back in the ring. Simple, yet effective.

Wright goes up top, then goes down the hard way. Jericho follows by locking in 502 of his 1,004 holds all at once. That’s right, Junior. ARMBAR!!!

WCW Road Wild 1997 Chris Jericho ARMBAR

Jericho can’t decide what to do afterward, and Wright takes advantage with a spinning leg lariat. I love it when Tenay is around. Then Wright just sort of jumps off the top and lands a foot on Jericho. I guess it worked, because he had time to dance around and still whip ass. Back up, and after a slight delay, a missed moonsault. Jericho with a jawbreaker and three whips/running lariats, and he hits the Lionsault. Running senton, but only for 2. Jericho with a chain of two powerbombs, but the delayed cover results in 2 again. Jericho cimbs the rope, and Wright hits the great equalizer. Superplex from the champion, but another kickout. The German goes for the German, but a rollup results in a cover.  Jericho goes for another rollup out of the corner, but Wright rolls through, grabs the tights and wins the match.

Time: 13:03

Technical Merit: This was a good one. There’s the element of both men being so young and a little green, but each man executed his moveset well. Only weird parts were some delays in applying pressure, which resulted in the other man getting the upper hand.

Artistic Impression: This was more athleticism than story. In fact, as a one-off, the story seemed to lack a bit. What matters is it was a wrestling match, and a fun one to watch, and the heel did a heel thing to get the heel win and keep the title.

TOTAL SCORE: ***

•••

Round 3 of the WCW-nWo battle comes down to the most decorated world champion in American wrestling history …

WCW Road Wild 1997 Ric Flair

… and the man synomymous with go-away heat.

I liked Sean Waltman during the Attitude Era, but only because he was the little guy in D-Generation X, and I was a smaller guy, too. But it had nothing to do with wrestling ability. I’ve enjoyed one match of his in my life, and that’s when Bret Hart was doing Bret Hart things and made The 1-2-3 Kid look like a million bucks in a title match on RAW. But remember … Bret made Rikishi look amazing in a similar situation. So I’m with Hogan so far; the man can’t cut the mustard.

Also, why the hell does a skinny-fat white dude billed from Minneapolis have “thug” on his singlet?

WCW Road Wild 1997 Syxx

I digress. His opponent has class … and he probably had himself a whole lot of biker-chick strange that week. WOOOO!

SYXX vs. RIC FLAIR

1997 was during the time when Flair still looked like a million bucks above the shoulders, but clearly was focusing on maintaining cardio shape over being toned. Proof of this: Heenan said Flair was “probably in the best shape of his life!” The veteran is mentally defeating the kid early, and he physically asserts himself with a knife-edge chop. We reset at 3:00, only for Flair to chop Syxx down again. Kid finally gets an advantage with the foot to the back of Flair’s dome and those “educated feet” in the corner. Then the Bronco Buster. Yay. Hell, Schiavone even sells it in an athletic sense. Give this man more credit as an announcer! Rest hold headlock time around 5:30, and Flair gets upright, only to be stomped to a pulp in the corner. Scoop slam from Syxx, then the guillotine legdrop from the top, but not enough to pin the 13-time world champ. Both men trade blows, but a spinning kick from Syxx results in a cover … and another headlock. Flair’s so bored, he’s alternating half-hearted slaps to Syxx’s arm. A babyface comeback ensues with some chops and the drop on the knee, but Syxx kicks Flair down once more. Kinda-sorta 450 attempt fails miserably, and it’s Figure Four time until Syxx grabs the rope. Since Flair is Flair, he gets the 5 count and then some further leniency. Syxx locks in the Buzzkiller, also known as the chickenwing, but only briefly. He goes for a second Bronco Buster, but Naitch gets the leg up into the “midsection” before the patented dirty pin in the corner. Vintage Flair!

Time: 11:06

Technical Merit: The contrast of styles worked here. Still never actually been impressed with Waltman, but he was an OK foil for the Dirtiest Player in the Game here.

Artistic Impression: I honestly thought Flair would stare at the South Dakota sky, so the win was a surprise. The only real story was Syxx trying to wear Flair’s upper body down, but failing to do so. Not a memorable match, but it could’ve been far worse.

TOTAL SCORE: *3/4

Road Wild score: WCW 2, nWo 1

•••

Schiavone says they’ll “step away from the WCW-nWo issue” for a bit. I’d be cool with them not talking about how WCW is finally “winning” the war, etc. This is just a bitter WCW 1-on-1 battle … which is absolutely perfect. BANG!

WCW Road Wild 1997 DDP

CURT HENNIG vs. DIAMOND DALLAS PAGE (w/Kimberly)

Hennig knocked Page off the apron twice, so DDP pulls Hennig out of the ring. Finally both men enter and we get started. Meanwhile, at some point, it started getting dark and the lights are on. Now this feels like Saturday night wrasslin’! DDP pulled Curt around by the hair, and later slips under the ropes and introduces Hennig’s 5-hole to the post. All the while, Curt’s singlet is almost all the way off. Purple briefs for Hennig, if you’re wondering. Page goes up top … ? Yeah, that didn’t work. What did work was Curt’s towel, which he uses to hang Page over the ropes for most of a 5 count.  The singlet slowly moves back up Hennig’s body, and at 3:15 he’s modeling “The Andre”.

I know Hennig would be considered bigger now than then, but he seems a bit … less svelte at this stage of his career.

WCW Road Wild 1997 Curt Hennig

One thing that didn’t change is his technical ability, which is applied to DDP’s legs. The logic of the multiple spinning toeholds: Can’t hit the Diamond Cutter if you can’t stand up. Now the sleeper, but Page, with the backing of half the bikes in Sturgis, hits a jawbreaker. DDP appears to go for a crucifix, but slips into a backslide and cover.

This is the stage of Page’s career where there appears to be something there, but I don’t think anyone was sure what all he had. In less than a year, he goes from a midcard guy who maybe would work in the US Title hunt someday to being DIAMOND DALLAS PAGE and working with the top stars and celebrities.

Ref bump just after the 6-minute mark when Page kicks out and rolls on him, then Curt exposes a turnbuckle, hits DDP with the steel bolt and goes to the other side. Great heel work. Page is lifeless, but it’s Perfectplex time … and HE KICKED OUT!!! Guess that’s why they called it just the fisherman suplex … you know, besides character rights and stuff. Babyface comeback incorporates the turnbuckle and some punches, and another ref bump on a piledriver attempt. DDP hits his move the second time, falling forward this time.

Flair runs in to no avail, and he takes the Diamond Cutter. Hennig with another fisherman, but no ref? Oh, he’s awake! And he’s counting. We’re done.

Time: 9:44

Technical Merit: Everything had a purpose, and it was smooth.

Artistic Impression: Hennig always was one of the best heels in the business. Throw him against a man who has no problem breaking some rules himself, and you have 10 minutes of quality work.

TOTAL SCORE: **1/4

•••

Okerlund gives us another hotline update, this time on Raven and Stevie Richards … the “King of Swing”. Somewhere, Cesaro‘s like, “… really?” Then The Miz is like, “… really?” Anyway, quick break time, more or less before the big matches.

Fall Brawl plug, then nWo vignette with Eric Bischoff promoing on Luger. And riding a bike.

WCW Road Wild 1997 Eric Bischoff

So that had a clip of “Voodoo Chile” by Jimi Hendrix, but we can’t get it as Hogan’s theme on the Network? I’m sad.

A few seconds later, I feel better.

OHHHHHH YEAHHHHHH! It’s Macho Madness nWo time again. DIG IT!

WCW Road Wild 1997 Macho Man Randy Savage Elizabeth

“Macho Man” RANDY SAVAGE (w/Elizabeth) vs. THE GIANT

How many times did Giant join and leave the nWo? Also, how wooden can someone be en route to the ring?

WCW Road Wild 1997 The Giant

OK, there’s some personality! On the real, he did yell and make the chokeslam sign right before this. Still a cardboard box outside the ropes, though.

On another note, I LOVED Savage’s nWo look. Lot of fringe, etc., but all black and white, and a bandana in place of the cowboy hat. Macho goes for the slam, but Giant is just too big. Could’ve pinned him there, but he’ll dole out some punishment first.

Paul Wight can still get it done for someone his size, but it was almost revolutionary what he could do while in WCW and early in his WWF run. He had great agility AND strength … don’t think we’ll see him hit a dropkick here due to Macho’s ring psychology, but still just an awesome sight.

Savage has a habit of using Liz as a human shield on the floor, and in true babyface fashion, Giant gently lifts her, sets her down on the other side, picks up Savage and tosses him over the top rope back into the ring. Macho with the great equalizer … not The Great Equalizer, but several shots to the left knee to keep the 7-footer down. Savage hits a crossbody from the top, but when he goes up a second time, it’s catch, chokeslam, done.

WCW Road Wild 1997 The Giant 2

Time: 6:06

Technical Merit: Basic moves, and it just seemed like the match was getting going when it ended.

Artistic Impression: Great psychology from Savage working the knee, and great selling from Giant. As sudden as the finish seemed, it continues to sell the chokeslam as an effective finisher.

TOTAL SCORE: *3/4

Road Wild score: WCW 3, nWo 1

•••

Hey yo.

WCW Road Wild 1997 Scott Hall

Methinks it’s time for the nWo to take this one home. Also, The Steiner Brothers were still together? Methinks a turn is coming soon, if not tonight. WCW breaks out the fireworks and motorcycle entrance for the company’s longtime flagship tag team, and Ted DiBiase is in the house to manage. High hopes here.

THE OUTSIDERS (Scott Hall & Kevin Nash, c) vs. THE STEINER BROTHERS (Scott & Rick), WCW Tag Team Championship

Scott has an interesting look … he’s started the transition to Big Poppa Pump, but the hair’s still dark and pulled back into a tight ponytail. He looks like the type of guy who would run things in Sturgis.

WCW Road Wild 1997 Steiner Brothers

Suplexes for Hall, including a double underhook powerbomb, but Nash breaks things up. All four in the ring, and the good guys clean house.

Tag to Rick, who I just could never get into, but the WCW fans love the barking, etc. The Outsiders respond by sending Big Sexy in.

WCW Road Wild 1997 Kevin Nash

Kneelift, corner lariat, the usual stuff here. Goes for snake eyes in the corner, but Rick dodges and hits the belly-to-back. Scott’s back in, and he’s in control until Hall clips him outside, then Nash nearly decapitates him with the big boot. The Bad Guy’s in, and he hits a chokeslam. Nash returns and keeps choking Scott with the rope, but Patrick won’t DQ the champs, since this is a title match and all. Outsiders tagging well, and Hall hits the fallaway slam.

Hall looks great, and he did for most of the ’90s. He’s focused, in shape for a 280-or-so pounder, and crisp in the ring. Really, until the boozy angle, he was on point. Another quick tag to Nash, who’s daring Patrick to call for the bell. While he discusses with the ref, Hall hits the lariat, and the no-tag switch here. Hall and Nash, despite being singles competitors before coming to WCW, were an absolutely fantastic tag team. Quick tags, plenty of shortcuts, imposing individuals … this is how heels should work. Abdominal stretch, which Nash providing extra leverage, and a tag and elbow drop to the back. Nash drops Scott in the corner, then Rick on the apron, and it’s 2-on-1 on Scott. Hall officially tags in and keeps hammering away. The pace is more deliberate, and this match is aching for a hot tag. Steiner gets about a third wind, but Hall with the drop toehold and tag so Rick must stay outside. Now Rick gets in the ring, but to yell at Hall, who’s on the apron. What an idiot. Phantom tag once more, and Hall’s working the neck … until Scott powers out and hits the electric chair just before the 12-minute mark. STILL NO TAG.

Nash is in, and even dares Scott to tag Rick, but no dice. Patrick’s threatening the DQ, but unless there’s something I don’t know, why would Hall and Nash care about the DQ? They can keep the belts! Nash misses the boot in the corner, but Scott can’t get his bearings. Tag to Hall, elbow to the back, crotch chop to Rick. Bulldog from the ropes, and Rick is steaming. Hall goes for the Razor’s Edge, but Rick finally comes in for a lariat, and Scott hits a belly-to-belly … and doesn’t get the tag again.

… yet.

FINALLY at 14:45, Rick’s in to clean house. They set up Hall for the electric chair bulldog thing. 1 … 2 … Nash pulls him out. THAT will get the DQ.

Of course, DiBiase grabs the belts, but Patrick rightfully takes them away since titles, disqualifications, etc. Apparently, bikers are marks, because they’re booing and chanting about male bovine fecal matter.

Time: 15:28

Technical Merit: Solid matchup. That is how a tag title match should be where the heels go over. By hook, or by crook, keep the straps. I loved it.

Artistic Impression: EXCELLENT work keeping Scott in the ring for almost the entire match. The faces were a little doofy at times to advance the narrative, but when one of them is Rick Steiner, what do you expect?

TOTAL SCORE: ***

Road Wild score: WCW 4 (no belts), nWo 1 (1 belt)

•••

WCW Road Wild 1997 Michael Buffer

Michael Buffer alert … and he’s trying to fit in. He also welcomes us to the “Hog Wild” main event. Maybe there’s just too much pressure on the poor guy!

Random sidenote: Loved his work in “You Don’t Mess With The Zohan,” which may be my favorite post-“Happy Gilmore” Adam Sandler movie. Skip it at your own peril. Disco disco. Good good! Disco disco. Good good!

Let’s move on to the Biggest Icon in Wrestling.

WCW Road Wild 1997 Hollywood Hulk Hogan

No black beard this time, but a fit and trim 275. He’s starting to get a little soft in the pecs at this point, but the pythons are on point … in 1997 or 2014. Also, you can’t look perfect when your 44th birthday is two days away, can you?

More fireworks for the champion. You know, to make up for his lack of charisma.

WCW Road Wild 1997 Lex Luger

They call him “The Total Package” and he always had a great physique. But what a piece of crap in and out of the ring. One of the worst workers to hold the strap; MY lariats are more believable. The man couldn’t string a sentence together. He comes off as a total dick. He can basically thank Sting for having a career, and Vince McMahon for one of the least-deserved pushes in modern wrestling history. The Lex Express? The next Hogan?

imgur.com
imgur.com

The only things Luger knew how to do were hit somebody with a forearm and put guys in the Torture Rack, to which I’ll actually give credit. That’s a cool finisher.

But then there’s the whole part where he beat the hell out of Elizabeth, and she overdosed and died in his secret affair house while he had his real family somewhere else in the metropolitan area. Terrible, terrible human being.

When he shows up in WWE Network interviews, I want to throw something and curse repeatedly. Maybe he’s changed later in life, but I’ll still boo his career and his life. Basically, I’m this guy from RAW in 1993, only better looking:

RAW 022893 Luger

Anyway, let’s get back to the main event. Hopefully, this joke of a title reign will end in less than a week.

LEX LUGER (c) vs. HOLLYWOOD HOGAN, WCW/nWo World Heavyweight Championship

The main development: No spray paint on the Big Gold Belt.

For as long and as well as Hogan played a good guy, it’s kind of shocking just how effective he was as a chicken heel. The mind games, the backing away, the sneaky illegal tactics — it’s a man who was the best in the world at two different times with two polar opposite characters.

Hogan’s working the arm at about 2 minutes, presumably to neutralize the Rack, but Luger reversed that pretty easily.  A pair of armdrags ensue, while Hogan calls for The Messiah to heal his injuries and the crowd tells him he sucks.

We’re reset at 4:15 or so, and Hogan uses Luger’s back as a nail file. Now he’s working the neck and upper back, then the scientific front throat choke. Luger responds with the super-technical 10 headshots to the turnbuckle. Hogan gets technological outside the ring with a cable around Luger’s neck after bouncing his cranium off the steel steps. Think Luger has a metal plate in his dome, too? He has a thick skull for a reason …

Anyway, Hogan tells Luger to watch out, calls him a piece of meat and Lex Loser. Schiavone: “He’s Lex Champion. Address him properly, if you please.” The WCW fanboyism on the mic definitely got annoying from time to time, but they redeem themselves by discussing how Hogan can win and actually selling the big boot and legdrop as an effective combination. Bearhug time at 9:00, then some kicks to the gut in the corner. There’s a lot to read, but not really a lot going on. The benefit of this match is you can tweet, get something to eat or BS with friends, and you can drop in, hit a few major points and you’re good. Major point here: This nearly-minute-long test of strength. Luger fails, then rallies, then takes a low blow.

Hogan follows with a stomp to the lower abdomen … “A legal maneuver,” as McMahon or Gorilla Monsoon would say if Bret Hart were applying it … and the trash talk continues. Big boot at 12:20, but straight into the cover. The crowd reminds him he sucks again, and he implores them to kiss his posterior. Suplex from Hollywood, but Luger no-sells it. Of course, Hollywood doesn’t notice until it’s too late.

WCW Road Wild 1997 Hollywood Hulk Hogan Lex Luger

WCW Road Wild 1997 Hollywood Hulk Hogan Lex Luger 2

Yes! We get the Worst Lariat Ever at 13:30! That will never be confused with the Best Moonsault Ever, though it would be fun to see Christopher Daniels break out both. Hogan goes to the eyes again, rollup/cover, scoop slam, snot shot to the fans, missed legdrop.

Random sidenote, since there’s time: How would young Terry Bollea go over in the mid-2010s in NXT? What would his finisher be? Would he just basically be Bo Dallas with the beliefs, prayers, vitamins, etc.? Would he still come off as charismatic? It would be interesting to see.

Anyway, multiple bad lariats, including one where he looks like he taps Hogan’s head, and the nWo runs in. No DQ, though, since Luger was the aggressor and didn’t allow the bad guys to get a shot in. The ref is simply telling Nash to get out of the ring.  A fake Sting is out, though the announcers think it’s the real McCoy. Fake Sting hits Luger with the bat, then it’s legdrop, new champ and bail as the announcers’ tone suddenly becomes ominous and sad.

Time: 16:15

Technical Merit: It’s Hogan. It’s Luger. It’s gonna be as elementary as possible.

Artistic Impression: Hogan played his heel part perfectly. Besides that, classic nWo-centric main event with the run-ins leading to the bad-guy victory.

TOTAL SCORE: *3/4

Final Road Wild score: WCW 4 (no belts), nWo 2 (2 belts)

Dusty’s selling fake Sting as actual Sting in almost comical fashion. All three on the mic act like WCW is dying once again. It’s hilarious, sad and exasperating all at once!

Meanwhile, in the back, Dennis Rodman has a cigar and some spray paint for the belt. Poor execution (at least half the O is on a side panel, I think), but as a nWo fan and ’90s Chicago Bulls fan, this is the best finish to a pay-per-view ever.

WCW Road Wild 1997 Dennis Rodman nWo

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