Good day my Wrestling Time Travel Compatriots, it is I, your humble docent through this exhibit on the History of Professional Wrestling, and today we will be continuing our journey through January of 1997!
We start our tour through the beauteous halls of WCW. When we last left WCW, the Goliath and foundation of the NWO, Hollywood Hogan was felled by The Icon, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper at WCW Starrcade. The NWO wasn’t having any talk of defeat though. The following nights on WCW Monday Nitro any time Larry “I Make Terribly Sexist Comments” Zbyszko, Tony Schiavone and any other members of the WCW Announce team would try to talk about the humiliating defeat and show replay of the footage of the event, Bischoff and the NWO would
put a stop to it. The NWO did not have a great track record at Starrcade of 1996, and while Hogan’s defeat didn’t slow the group down, The Giant’s loss at the hands of Lex Luger, would see tension start to rise in the ranks of the legendary faction. The Giant, as we’ve covered previously, was the victor of WCW’s World War 3, and as a result of the victory was also guaranteed a shot at the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. Hogan and the NWO hadn’t forgot, and as The Giant would attempt to stand his ground, the NWO would repeatedly attempt to beat The Giant down, to soften him up for his match with Hogan. The Giant would face Hogan at least once in an official match on WCW Monday Nitro, but the match was marred by the predictable interference of his NWO comrades. As a result of the no-contest, The WCW Executive Championship Committee would schedule a rematch for NWO Souled Out on January 25th of 1997. Sting would continue to haunt the rafters of WCW events, and would recruit a returning Randy “Macho Man” Savage into his ranks. Diamond Dallas Page would be again offered member ship in the NWO, only to again reject the offer.
Meanwhile Chris Benoit of The Four Horsemen would continue to battle Jeff Jarrett, as Double J would try to self-promote himself into a position of membership with the Four Horsemen.
One of the newer members of the NWO, Marcus Bagwell, or as he was now referring to himself “Buff” Bagwell, would stalk and antagonize his former partner Scotty Riggs, consistently -putting down Riggs’ physique, or lack-thereof. Eddie Guerrero would beat Diamond Dallas Page at Starrcade of 1996 to be announced as the Number 1 Contender for the vacant WCW United States Championship, which had previously been stolen by the NWO from “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair several months prior. The NWO would put the title up for grabs in a ladder match between Eddie Guerrero and 1-2-I mean…Syxx, at the premier NWO Pay-Per-View, Souled Out. Souled Out…uncomfortable to watch. The whole gimmick was this was a Pay-Per-View event where
the New World Order was in charge, and as such, at a Pay-Per-View event, the only wrestlers to receive entrance music, were NWO members. Every member of the WCW aligned roster received a jobber entrance, complete with a disembodied voice calling them things like “Loser”. The low-light of the Pay-Per-View, was by far the crowning of the first “Miss NWO”. The rules for the contest were simple, one simply had to be a local female resident with their own motorcycle. This led to some very shudder-
inducing moments including the girls offering up various services (read: vaguely defined sexual favors) in order to walk away with the illustrious title of Miss NWO, and as if this wasn’t cringe-worthy already, the winner not only walked away with a lovely sash, and a beautiful bouquet of flowers, but the winner, “Miss Becky” was also rewarded with a make out session from “The King” Eric Bischoff. Watching Eric Bischoff jamming his tongue down this poor woman’s throat, it makes your skin crawl in the worst way imaginable. We continue through Souled Out to the WCW Tag Team Championship match that would see The Outsiders “Steinerized” at the hands of Rick and Scott Steiner, winning the WCW Tag Team Championships after NWO Referee Nick Patrick would fall unconscious, leaving referee WCW Randy Anderson to sprint through the crowd, and make the count. The following night, Bischoff would force The Steiners to forfeit the WCW Tag Team Championship belts, stating the victory did not count, and he would fire WCW Randy Anderson, a recent Cancer survivor on screen at the beginning of the show for his actions. Moving on to the Main Event of Souled Out, as previously discussed, we’d see Hollywood Hogan battle The Giant to a second no-contest, though Hogan would not have long to celebrate his non-victory, as the following night on WCW Monday Nitro, the WCW Executive Committee would announce the new Number 1 Contender for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship…”Rowdy” Roddy Piper.
We now adjourn to the WWE Exhibit for January of 1997. While the NWO was running wild in WCW, the WWF was gearing up for one of it’s signature events, The Royal Rumble. The WWF would be dealing with it’s own faction that would run roughshod over the roster, The Nation of Domination. Farooq would continue his battle against Ahmed Johnson, as The Undertaker would battle Crush (the guy who looks like an extra from a Korn music video in the above picture), while also dealing with Paul Bearer’s newest client intended to bury “The Deadman”, Vader. Vader would continuously attempt to interfere in The Undertaker’s matches leading to a bout between the two at the aforementioned Royal Rumble. Though Vader would come out on top in their match at the Royal Rumble, Vader and Undertaker would be two of the final four competitors in the actual Royal Rumble match, which would be important for how the Royal Rumble match ended. Shawn Michaels
would hold on to the WWF Championship, despite the mind games that Sycho Sid would play, which would include attacking Jose Lothario’s son. Though Bret Hart would face his own mental and physical obstacles from the escalating presence of the predator, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. The main event of the inaugural WWF
Pay-Per-View of 1997 would end with Bret Hart eliminating A Diesel, while Austin who had previously eliminated (though not seen by the officials) would sneak back into the ring, eliminating The Undertaker, Vader and then would eliminate Hart as well, to be crowned the winner of the 1997 Royal Rumble. This would force Gorilla Monsoon’s giant hands to schedule a Fatal Four Way at the following In Your House for February of 1997, that would have Austin put up his Number 1 Contender spot, against the other three final competitors of the Royal Rumble. The following night from the Royal Rumble would kickoff the heated rancor between Bret Hart and Vince McMahon. As we mentioned in the last column, Jerry “The King” Lawler would insert himself into the mid-card
feud between Hunter Hearst Helmsley, “The Wild Man” Marc Mero and Goldust. Goldust and the future Triple H, would butt heads at The Royal Rumble in a match for the WWF Intercontinental Championship, and this would see Hunter debut his new bodyguard, and “Blues Brothers” Enthusiast, Mr. Hughes. Entering the WWF Tag Team Championship exhibit of January of 1997, we would see The British Bulldog and Owen Hart would continue to be victorious against challengers and ECW call ups, Doug Furnas and Philip LaFon.
Finding ourselves finished with the WCW and WWF exhibits, we journey now downstairs to the hardcore hallowed halls of the Extreme Championship Wrestling wing of the museum, just adjacent of the Nerdfect Strangers gift shop to your left. Raven as the two-time reigning ECW Champion would continue to defend his title against the aggressive war waged by The Sandman. The Sandman for his troubles would find unlikely allies in The Blue World Order, as “Big” Stevie Cool would finally come to be fed up with the abusive attitude of his friend and mentor, Raven. It would remain to be seen if the BWO’s intentions on behalf of The Sandman were in fact genuine, or the cruel and complicated machinations of Raven in his quest to keep control over the ECW Championship. “The Franchise” Shane Douglas would meanwhile announce the reformation of not only a dominant force in the land of Extreme, but also the foundation for the Douglas
empire, The Triple Threat. The second incarnation of this faction would see
Bodydonna Skip Chris Candido and “Prime Time” Brian Lee officially change their Facebook Relationship Status with Shane Douglas from “It’s Complicated” to “In A Relationship”. The Triple Threat would continue to feud with the likes of Tommy Dreamer and The Pitbulls until, Tommy Dreamer would bring in his mentor, and evil hillbilly wizard master of the mountains, Terry Funk. Funk would battle Lee in a brutal match, that Brian Lee would win, but ultimately it was Funk who came out on top, brutalizing Lee after the victory, after Lee had the audacity to insult Funk’s father. While “The Triple Threat” would battle against Dreamer, and Funk, a new challenger to the dominance of their empire would arise. This new challenger was a mysterious masked man who had a peculiar and honed interest in the valet of the faction, Francine. The ECW Tag Team Championships changed hands, returning to The Gangstas, as they would win their battle against The Eliminators. Tazz and Sabu would continue their feud as the speculation about the potential injury that Tazz had suffered at the hands of Sabu’s new tag team partner and student, Rob Van Dam. Tazz would confront Joey Styles over the speculative reporting and allegations, confirming that yes, he had suffered a legitimate shoulder injury at the hands of Van Dam in one of their many bouts. Tazz downplays the injury in it’s confirmation, and continues to bark his challenge at Sabu.
And there you have it, patrons! We’ve concluded our tour through January of 1997. What will happen as we move forward through 1997? Who would come up on top of the Monday Night Wars? Find out, and join us next time for the adventures of The Wrestling Time Machine!!!