Wrestling Time Machine: February of 1997

Hello my precious professional wrestling pals, and welcome to another edition of Wrestling Time Machine! We’ve got the dates keyed in on our time circuits, the Flux Capacitor is a-roaring to go, all to take us to February of 1997*!

When last we left that tumultuous decade of baggy jeans, polygonal and pointy video games, and Dr. Seuss hats, the world of WCW was thrown into disarray as cracks began to form in the New World Order as The Giant would challenge Hollywood Hogan, and ultimately fail to capture the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. Tension would continue to plague and mount The Four Horsemen, as the relationship between Double-J and Debra “Mrs. Mongo” McMichael would become more and more questionable. While the NWO’s resident kleptomaniac, Syxx would fail to capture the WCW United States Championship would challenge “The Ice Man” Dean Malenko for the WCW Cruiserweight Championship, a feud that Eddie Guerrero would insert himself into.

NO. NOT THAT. NEVER THAT.

As The Giant’s failure to capture the WCW World Heavyweight Championship would loom over the WCW Roster, it did bring to light that the New World Order wasn’t as strong as they thought they were. Tony Schiavone, Mike Tenay, and Larry¬†Zbyszko would continue to flaunt “Rowdy” Roddy Piper’s victory at Starrcade, just scant months prior. The commentators attempts to put dents in the armor of the New World Order would backfire, though. Eric Bischoff and his monochromatic goons would confiscate the video evidence of Piper’s victory, forbidding it to be played on air, and Hogan would continue to fraudulently tout a victory over Piper. Piper would answer Hogan’s taunts by challenging Hogan

I’m on top of the world!

for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship at WCW SuperBrawl VII. Piper prepared for the match by locking himself up in Alcatraz, because I guess the best way to train for an intense physical bout is to isolate yourself at a tourist attraction. The match would be knuckle-bitingly close, with Randy “Macho Man” Savage abandoning his position as Sting’s brooding sidekick, and joining The New World Order in full force.

Though he hung out with a Yeti, and a Leprechaun, I can assure, this man was no Genie.

Wrestley’s Believe It or NOT: Not EVEN the worst gimmick in WCW at that time.

 

Steve McMichael would continue to butt heads with Jeff Jarrett over the affection and affectations of his wife Debra, all while Jarrett would continue to campaign for an official position with the legendary faction. The Four Horsemen’s Chris Benoit and future Nancy Benoit continued with their escalating feud of various hardcore matches with “The Taskmaster” Kevin Sullivan and his new flame, Miss Jacquelyn. While the Benoits would come out on top at SuperBrawl VII in a bitter battle filled with tables, belts, and the beds of trucks, McMichael would lose to the machinations of Jarrett and his own wife, granting Jarrett an official position in the Four Horsemen.

The WCW Mid-Card would feature feuds with Dean Malenko defending his

SHUT UP. YOU’RE NOT MY REAL DAD!

championship and his father’s honor against a man who had previously wrestled in a match in which the loser would be diapered. Syxx would insult Malenko’s father, a man who had trained Syxx, and thanks to an inadvertent distraction by Eddie Guerrero, the former 1-2-3 Kid would gain an opportunity to steal the WCW Cruiserweight Championship from right under the nose of Dean Malenko. This distraction would allow Syxx to capture one of only two titles he would go to hold in the “Wrasslin'” organization.

Diamond Dallas Page would continue to get quick victories over the small potato members of The New World Order, and rounding out the mid-card feuds would be a three-way war over the WCW Television Championship involving newly crowned champion Prince Iaukea, Rey Mysterio JR, and Lord Steven Regal. Prince Iaukea’s win of the WCW Television Championship was arguably WCW trying to copy the rising popularity of young superstars of color, like Rocky Maivia. Maivia, who just four days prior to Iaukea’s win over The Blue Blood Steven Regal, for the WCW Television Championship on WCW Monday Nitro, had captured the WWF Intercontinental Championship from the WWF’s own blue blood, Hunter Hearst Helmsley, on WWF Monday Night RAW.

The highlight of which was Rick Steiner’s jacket. IT’S GOT TINY DOGS ON THE SHOULDERS AND SHUT UP, I NEED IT.

Mission Accomplished

The last highlight in the WCW Universe at the time was the WCW Tag Team Division, which after a hard fought victory at NWO Souled (aren’t they clever?) Out, The Steiner Brothers would be forced to relinquish the WCW Tag Team Championships to The Outsiders, Scott Hall & Kevin Nash. The Outsiders would actually forgo a match and just try to straight up murder the competition. Though The Steiner Brothers were down for the metaphorical count, The Outsiders would face a new challenge in The Giant and his partner, Lex Luger. Luger had suffered at the hands of The Outsiders in his own right, having his arm broken. Bischoff forbade Luger from competing at WCW SuperBrawl VII due to the extent of his injuries, and the potential threat he and The Giant as a team posed to The Outsiders, but that wouldn’t stop The Total Package. The Giant fought valiantly against the team of The Outsiders, and when all looked lost, Lex Luger helped The Giant pull out a victory, and the two would become {temporary} WCW Tag Team Champions. The Bisch would confiscate the titles the next night, in what was becoming a habit, on WCW Monday Nitro and return the belts to The Outsiders.

Tell Me a Lie…

Travelling to the World Wrestling Federation universe, during February of 1997, we encounter one of the most heartbreaking moments in professional wrestling. Following a successful and bravely fought contest at January’s Royal Rumble, only about one month into his reign as WWF Champion, Shawn Michaels would lose his smile and depart from the WWF. Michaels would relinquish the WWF Championship to Gorilla Monsoon, and as a result the Main Event at the upcoming In Your House Pay-Per-View, The Final Four, would be changed from a Fatal Four Way Four Corners Elimination Match for the rank of #1 Contender for the WWF Championship, to being a match for the now-vacated WWF Championship. While Hart would be victorious at In Your House 13: The Final Four, his reign as WWF Champion would be short lived. The Rattlesnake, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin would continue to plague Hart, and as a result of Austin’s intrusion, Hart would lose the WWF Championship to Sycho Sid just one night after capturing the title.

She was no doll.

Goldust and Marlena would continue to battle Hunter Hearst Helmsley after the latter’s loss to Rocky Maivia. Helmsley was aided by a mysterious woman from the audience, who assaulted Marlena on several occasions. The WWF also announced at this time that they would be beginning a tournament for a new title, The WWF European Championship. The Nation of Domination continued it’s stranglehold over the WWF roster, as Farooq and Ahmed Johnson continued their struggle for dominance. The Nation of Domination was a force to be reckoned with, ranking members such as Crush and Savio Vega facing off against Goldust, The Undertaker, and The WWF Tag Team Champions-Owen Hart & The British Bulldog.

Team Not-So-Extreme

Finishing Move? The Cattle Drive.

The WWF Tag Team division also heated up, as The Headbangers began a journey to the top of the division, battling superstars like the debuting Hardy Boys – They hadn’t yet earned the “Z”. The Headbangers brushed shoulders with another legendary team, as they faced the returning Legion of Doom, and fought to a no-contest on the February 24th edition of WWF Monday Night RAW. Another new team would debut in the WWF, Justin “Hawk” Bradshaw and “The Stalker” Barry Windham would premier together as The New Blackjacks.

February of 1997 featured

The beginning of a beautiful relationship

the escalation of the WWF’s and ECW’s working relationship. After an ECW sit-in at WWF In Your House 10: Mind Games, and the following night on WWF Monday Night RAW in September of 1996, Jerry Lawler would start in the beginning of February of 1997 to call out the hardcore organization. Paul Heyman wouldn’t take the taunts of “The King” lightly, and would respond in kind. This would lead to ECW invading WWF Monday Night RAW at the historic Manhattan Center in New York on the February 24th edition of the program. Heyman’s presence on WWF Monday Night RAW wasn’t welcomed by the patriarch of Memphis, and a fist fight between the two almost broke out on the program.

This brings us to the far corners of the ECW universe. Raven would face off against “Dr. Death” Steve Williams, defending his ECW World Heavyweight

Championship. Williams’ loss at the

Pictured: Terry Funk preparing a Foley Flambé

hands of Raven and Stevie Richards would be the good Doctor’s first loss in the United States in a decade. Raven’s battle with Williams would be good preparation for his upcoming defense against the legend, and renowned hillbilly wizard, Terry Funk.

Dudley Darts, Fun for the WHOLE Family!

The Sandman would face the lone brother of the Dudley clan, D-Von Dudley in the main event of the February 6th edition of Hardcore TV, and this would lead to Buh Buh Ray joining forces with the longstanding single antagonist of the Dudley Family, D-Von to form one of the most legendary groups in all of Tag Team Wrestling, The Dudley Boyz.

February of 1997 featured the debut of two additional ECW alumni, Lance Storm and Balls Mahoney. The two new staples to the ECW Roster would face off against one another during the February 13th broadcast of ECW Hardcore TV. Finally, the ECW Tag Team Division was rocked by the team of Van Dam & Sabu facing off against The Eliminators. Rob Van Dam and Sabu would be granted two championship opportunities against The

I don”t think this is OSHA approved use of a ladder

Eliminators, Kronus and Saturn. The Eliminators were ultimately successful in defending their ECW Tag Team Championship belts from the challengers on the two separate occasions, once during a standard Tag Team match during the February 13th broadcast of Hardcore TV, and during a second match, a Tables & Ladders Tag Team match during the February 27th broadcast of ECW Hardcore TV.

There you have it my travelling companions! With that, we’ve concluded our journey through the various Wrestling Universes during the period of February of 1997! What will happen as we continue to travel through the depths of The Attitude Era?! Find out on the next installment of the Wrestling Time Machine!!!

*Chameleon Circuits subject to working availability.

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