(2012 Scott sez: WCW didn’t do an April PPV in 95 or 96, as they skipped right from Superbrawl to Slamboree both years, and then randomly resurrected the Spring Stampede show in 1997.) The SmarK Retro Re-Rant for WCW Spring Stampede 1997 – Live from Tupelo, MS – Your hosts are Tony, Bobby & Dusty. – I don’t even REMEMBER this show, which shows the kind of impact it had on me originally. (Further to that discussion, I AGAIN totally forgot about this show, as I was about to skip from 1994 to 1998 because I couldn’t for the life of me remember what happened at this one. And then to be perfectly honest, I read through it again for this repost and couldn’t find anything to comment on, either. So enjoy the boring repost.) –Opening match: Ultimo Dragon v. Rey Mysterio Jr. Ah, the days of “Jr.” That and no tattoos. Rey takes him down to the mat to start as Dusty goes off on his first Excited Southerner rant of the night. Dragon gets a rollup for two and fires off the kick combo and a dropkick for two. Dragon goes to the arm with a short-arm scissors, but surprisingly someone doesn’t power out of it and it’s just released instead. Huh. Instead, Dragon gets a spinning crucifix backbreaker and a double powerbomb. Sleeper sets up a running powerbomb, and then a tombstone for two, as Dragon picks him up. The announcers note that he might be nuts for doing that. Back to the sleeper, but Rey gets a leg lariat, so Dragon kicks him down with a “back leg front kick” (tm Eric Bischoff) and a forward suplex into a bow and arrow. Another two from that. Rey walks into another sleeper as this match is what I’d call excessively one-sided at this point. Rey escapes the sleeper to come back, as Dragon bails, so Rey follows him with a somersault plancha and springboards in for two. And then of course we cut to the back for a stupid and pointless “interview” with the Wolfpac in the back. They trade bodypress attempts and Rey gets dropkicked off the top and splats on the floor, and Dragon follows with a pescado. Back in, Dragon blocks a quebrada with a dropkick, which sets up a Giant Swing off all things. The announcers again question his sanity. Both guys are wobbling and Rey gets the rana for two, reversed for two. Enzuigiri gets two for Dragon. Rana gets two. Rey escapes a powerbomb and gets a rollup for two, reversed for two. West Coast Pop finishes for Rey, however. (Rey Mysterio d. Ultimo Dragon, rana — pin, 14:51, ***1/4) Weird match, built around Dragon being totally inept without Sonny Onoo to guide him. Even stranger, they’d put the TV title on him the next night on Nitro. – WCW Women’s title: Akira Hokuto v. Madusa. This was a pretty short-lived title, lasting only for a few months in 1997, with Hokuto being the only champion. I don’t think it was ever defended again after this, in fact. Hokuto uses the hairtosses to start and clotheslines Madusa, then gets a hanging choke in the corner. That gets two as the announcers just totally ignore the match (even “women’s wrestling expert” Lee Marshall, who can barely be called an expert at tying his own shoes) and instead talk about the match between the Steiners and Outsiders later, which won’t be happening. Madusa comes back with hairslams and gets two. She follows with a rana, but Akira bites her leg to come back. Well, that’s unique apart from George “The Animal” Steele, I guess. Madusa with a sloppy crucifix for two. Dropkick and missile dropkick set up the german suplex for two, but Luna interferes and does something that I guess was supposed to be kicking Madusa in the leg (ask Lee Marshall, he’s the expert) and Hokuto gets the cheap pin. (Akira Hokuto d. Madusa, rollup — pin, 5:13, *1/2) I love how they won’t even give them more than 5:00 on PPVs where every two-bit jobber gets 15:00. – World TV title: Prince Iaukea v. Lord Steven Regal Iaukea was WCW’s lame and rather thinly-disguised attempt to copy Rocky Maivia, and although it was something of a debate as to their intentions at the time, I think that 6 years after the death of the promotion we can all admit that they were trying to rip the WWF off and leave it at that. Of course, time has also shown that the Rock was the better long-term investment anyway. Regal does a major stall to start as we get a funny (to me) art-imitates-life moment with Scott Steiner being “arrested” backstage for what appears to be roid rage, and thus taking him out of the tag title match. Oh, there’s a match going on? Don’t tell the announcers that. Regal and Prince trade wristlocks and the Prince grabs a headlock, but Regal kicks him down. Prince springboards with a bodypress for two, and Regal stalls again. Test of strength, so Regal thumbs the eyes and goes to a full-nelson. Prince escapes, so Regal pounds away in the corner. Prince fights back to no reaction as the announcers go on and on about the Steiners and Outsiders. No wonder the crowds didn’t give a shit about anyone in the midcard. Regal does the Samoa Joe no-sell of Iaukea’s bodypress attempt out of the corner, which the crowd does appreciate. Wonder if that’s who Joe got it from? Sadly, Prince comes back with chops and pins him to retain. (Prince Iaukea d. Steven Regal, rollup — pin, 9:58, **1/4) The match just had no flow and no heat, the comeback was out of nowhere and the finish was anticlimactic. The Iaukea experiment came to an end the next night, thankfully. – Ric Flair joins us for a “shocking” announcement about football player Kevin Greene wrestling at the next PPV. SPOILER ALERT! He sucks, too. – The Public Enemy v. Jeff Jarrett & Steve MacMichael. Random jokes about how bad Public Enemy were at this point just aren’t funny now that they’re both dead, at least not yet, so instead I’ll concentrate on what a weak-ass incarnation of the Horsemen this was. I mean, Jeff Jarrett? WTF? Rocco and Mongo get into a shoving match over the trash talk, and Rocco avoids contact. Had that persisted, the match would have been ** higher than it was. Mongo misses a charge, but Jarrett helps to clean house. Grunge comes in and Jarrett gets an abdominal stretch, but Grunge sends the “Horsemen” into each other. Jarrett gets annoyed and teases walking out (that would have been another * on general principles, my standard award any time I don’t have to watch JJ) but cools off and returns. Mongo chinlocks Rocco and gets a bad sideslam, but the ref is occupied. Tilt a whirl slam gets two and it’s BONZO GONZO, as we go to the dreaded SPLIT SCREEN OF DOOM. When one screen just can’t contain all the action! However, nothing is actually going on with the other screen, aside from Dusty getting overly excited about the cows, so that ends quickly. Grunge threatens to put Debra through a table, but Jarrett saves and Grunge goes through it himself. That gets two for Jarrett. Huge mess as Mongo fights alone in the ring, but Jarrett comes back in and somehow looks like the only pro in a group of backyard wrestlers, hitting everyone with dropkicks and trying desperately to get the train back on the tracks. Rocco clubs him with the HALIBURTON OF DEATH, however, and Grunge gets the pin, despite being the one on the receiving end of a figure-four. This match made my head hurt. (Public Enemy d. Jarrett & MacMichael, briefcase — pin JJ, 10:37, -**) Total amateur hour as TPE were totally exposed as usual and Mongo stopped giving a crap about getting better long before this. Probably one of the worst matches of 1997, which is saying something. – Meanwhile, Harlem Heat cuts a rather infamous promo, as Booker T shows why he wasn’t given a live mic that much by punctuating a threat against Hulk Hogan with “nigger!” Now, again this was something of a debate later on, with lots of people taking the side of him actually saying “sucker,” but that sounded pretty clear to me. – US title: Dean Malenko v. Chris Benoit They trade headlocks to start and Benoit dumps him, but Dean is right back in. Malenko works the leg and Benoit powers out of it. They trade wristlocks as Dusty is in rare babbling idiot form, to the point where even Bobby Heenan steps in and points out that it’s only a three-hour show. Test of strength and Benoit shows off with the bridge and takes him down with an armbar, then surfboards him. Dean escapes with a backdrop suplex and a nice small package for two. That was a cool move because he pantomimed doing a suplex and then did the rollup once Benoit had braced for it. Benoit gets pissed about being fooled, I’d guess, and chops Dean to express his displeasure. Malenko chokes him down and we get some choking, and Dean hits the chinlock. He switches to a short-arm scissors, which Benoit powers out of. Whew, I’d have been worried if we got two of those moves in one show without one guy lifting the other into the air to break. Clothesline gets two. Benoit goes to the abdominal stretch, but Dean hiptosses out for two. Benoit kicks him in the head and chokes him down, and a neckbreaker gets two. Back to the chops, and he reverses a suplex attempt into an inverted suplex. But now the circus begins as Jacqueline attacks Nancy at ringside while Benoit gets the diving headbutt. Eddie then joins us as well, followed by Arn Anderson and Kevin Sullivan, and it’s a double DQ. (Chris Benoit DDQ Dean Malenko, 17:56, ***) Pretty average match between these two, which was totally lacking in a point or finishing sequence thanks to the parade route going on at ringside. Benoit makes a cryptic comment about “He wasn’t supposed to be there!” which has the announcers going nuts and set off a bunch of rumors about a Benoit/Malenko/Guerrero faction, but none of it ended up going anywhere, as usual. – WCW World tag team title: Kevin Nash v. Rick Steiner Yes, it’s a singles match for the tag titles. It’s WCW, don’t ask. Nick Patrick is YOUR Evil Referee tonight. This stemmed from the epic Attempted Vehicular Manslaughter angle from Nitro that was supposed to be harkening back to the glory days of Dusty Rhodes and the Horsemen but actually ended up as bad comedy instead. It was kind of like those Volkswagen commercials, now that I think about it. Not the ones with Peter Stormare, the air-bag ones. Nash attacks and gets the corner clothesline, but Rick pounds him down and suplexes him. Powerslam gets two. Sean “Syxx” Waltman pulls him out of the ring and lays in the abuse, allowing Nash to take over with a sideslam for two. Big boot sets up the Poochiebomb, which gets two. Rick goes low as this plodding mess drags on, and the flying bulldog gets two. Rick goes after Syxx, and thus gets clobbered from behind. And then in a bit typical of the time, Syxx is supposed to take the turnbuckle off behind the ref’s back, but proceeds to take 2 minutes to do it, even getting Ted Dibiase’s help. Nash gets a pair of Snake Eyes on the exposed steel, and Ted Dibiase tells him to lay off. I agree — I also wish this match to end. However, he adds two more, prompting Dibiase to walk out, and finishes with the Poochiebomb. (Kevin Nash d. Rick Steiner, powerbomb — pin, 10:23, 1/4*) Total squash for Nash which was part of bait-and-switch advertising with WCW likely knowing full well that Scott Hall wasn’t going to be there. – Booker T v. Stevie Ray v. Lex Luger v. The Giant Speaking of silly stipulations, this is a four-way match with a title shot on the line, even though it’s basically a tag match and no title shot ever came out of it. Tony Schiavone, medical expert in addition to crack wrestling commentator, goes into a metaphor about Hogan being the cancer of WCW, and that cutting the cancer out means that the patient gets better. Remind me not to call Tony if I ever get cancer. I guess by that same token, Vince Russo was the chemotherapy which ended up killing the patient thanks to the side effects. Luger slugs it out with Booker, but gets double-teamed by the Heat. Luger & Giant double-team Stevie for two, as Giant comes in. Stevie slugs away in the corner but Giant clotheslines him down and press-slams Booker. The Heat bails and consults with Sherri, so it’s Giant v. Luger. Luger tries a slam and Giant falls on top for two, but it’s a double-tag to the Heat. They tease fighting each other, but then show us they were just fooling around and tag Lex in. Stevie fires away with kicks and Booker adds a sideslam, but Luger gets Giant back in. An elbow misses and the Heat take over as all pretext of an actual four-way match disappear. Over in the corner, THEY BE CLUBBERING, TONY! Sadly, Dusty doesn’t have his usual passion for the four fisties on one head like he usually does. Stevie misses a legdrop and Giant comes back with a big boot, bringing Lex in with elbows on Stevie for two. Booker comes in and drops a knee for two. We hit the chinlock, but Booker clocks him with the sidekick for two. Stevie gets a clothesline for two. Booker axe-kicks Lex, but stalls and only gets two. Stevie sideslam sets up a Rocket Launcher, but it misses and it’s hot tag Giant. He boots Booker out of the ring and it’s AAAAAAAAAAAAAH THE CHO…no, he changes him mind and tags Lex in to finish instead. (Lex Luger d. Giant, Booker T & Stevie Ray, torture rack — submission Stevie Ray, 18:56, **1/2) Basically just a decent tag match. Giant’s generous gesture would mean less since Lex didn’t get a title shot until four months later, and Giant himself would never win the belt again. – Randy Savage v. Diamond Dallas Page Good old-fashioned grudge match here. Savage’s backstage banter with Liz is hilarious, as he declares that it’s “Slim Jims for everyone!” to celebrate his win. Savage and Liz went through a major-league career resurrection when they turned heel together, but as usual the clods running WCW had no clue what to do with them. Brawl outside to start and DDP wins that, and then wins a slugfest in the ring. Early Cutter attempt is blocked by Savage, and he goes on the attack as DDP bails. They brawl in the crowd and DDP uses a garbage can to take control. Back to ringside, it’s a nice reversal of the usual, as Savage hides behind Kimberly and Liz gives DDP a cheapshot from behind. Savage drops the axehandle to the floor to follow up and pounds away. Back in the ring, Savage gets two. Nasty chairshot and we get a funny running joke with Savage repeatedly abusing Dave Penzer for no good reason, but DDP Van Daminates him. Savage slugs away in the corner, but Page fights back, so Savage turns him “you-know-what over teakettle” with a clothesline, to quote Dusty, although these days you’d just say “ass” and be done with it. Nice bump from Page, regardless. DDP takes advantage of Savage’s showboating with a clothesline of his own, and both are out. Savage is up first and gets a couple of slams to set up some classic ringbell drama, again abusing Penzer, but Kimberly steals it, and then DDP blocks the big elbow with a foot to the face. Now that’s the one time where that counter spot makes sense. DDP makes the comeback, but Savage goes low to block the Cutter, and that’s two. In another great moment, a crazed Savage then kicks the living hell out of long-suffering referee Mark Curtis (the match is no-DQ) and finishes him with a piledriver. Big elbow for DDP, but he’s killed his own gameplan by destroying the ref. That’s called telling a story. Evil Ref Nick Patrick replaces Curtis, but when DDP hits the Diamond Cutter out of nowhere, Patrick makes the clean count. (DDP d. Randy Savage, Diamond Cutter — pin, 15:37, ***1/2) I liked this one WAY better than I did on initial viewing. Really good story with crazy veteran Randy Savage trying to regain his former glory and DDP trying to hang in his first main event. The n.W.o. is in TURMOIL to end the show, but as usual it would be forgotten by the next week on Nitro. Much like this show. This was the very definition of a filler PPV, featuring nothing of note happening and not even a World title match in the main event. Everything was pretty mediocre in the ring as well, with the exception of a pretty good DDP-Savage feud on top, and that adds up to a Recommendation to Avoid.