WCW Uncensored 1997

Date: March 16, 1997

Eddie Guerrero (c) vs. Dean Malenko for the United States Title (9/10)

The Set-Up: United States Champion Eddie Guerrero had been feuding with NWO member Syxx (better known as WWE’s X-Pac) over the title. Unable to win the title (though stealing belt) Syxx diverted his attention to winning Dean Malenko’s cruiserweight title. During a match at Superbrawl, Guerrero came out to get his belt back, but accidentally hit Malenko and cost him the cruiserweight title. Furious, Malenko got a no-disqualification match at Uncensored.

The match: Guerrero and Malenko tear into each other to start, before going into a bunch of well-executed submission holds and reversals. While the match is going on we are shown Rick Steiner knocked unconscious in the back. He’s supposed to be in Team WCW in the main event. Obviously the NWO took him out to better their chances of winning. Back to the actual match, which thankfully continues uninterrupted, things are really heating up. Guerrero works on Malenko’s leg, at one point dropkicking it into the ringpost. He knocks Malenko outside into the guardrail and jumps at him. Malenko gets out of the way and Guerrero eats the guardrail. Malenko is able to dominate him until Eddie whips out a low blow. Malenko isn’t slowed down and powerbombs his opponent. He goes up top and delivers his enemy’s own finisher, the frog splash. Right before he gets a three count he gets off of Eddie, deciding to punish him some more. This proves to be a mistake as now he and Guerrero trade unsuccessful pin attempts. Syxx emerges with a video camera. He steals the United States title belt and throws his camera at Eddie. Guerrero ducks and Malenko catches it, using it as a weapon and getting the win.

This was a fantastic match which at the time was always expected of top cruiserweights like Malenko, Guerrero, and Rey Mysterio Jr.. The only thing preventing it from being perfect is the NWO spots, first the backstage shenanigans with Rick Steiner and then Syxx coming in to prevent a clean finish.

In-Between matches, Team Piper, which will participate in the three-way main event, is interviewed. Most of it is Piper yelling random stuff about his teammates, members of the Four Horsemen (Chris Benoit, Jeff Jarrett, & Steve McMichael). He calls Chris Benoit a wino and Debra McMichael a hussy. The Four Horsemen are surprisingly okay with his insults and promise to have his back

Psicosis vs. Ultimo Dragon (w/Sonny Onoo) (7/10)

Set-Up: There’s not real story behind this. WCW would often throw together random matches that usually involved cruiserweights. They were usually pretty good anyways, so I’m not complaining. This is around the time when Ultimo Dragon was one of the top players in the cruiserweight division. He was on about every PPV and episode of Nitro, all the while taking trips to wrestle in Mexico. He was a pretty busy guy.

The Match: There’s a lot of holds and reversals at the start. The longer the match goes on the more moves they pull off, from moonsaults to spinning heel kicks to flying leg drops. Sonno Onoo interferes with a few roundhouse kicks to Psicosis. Towards the end they trade a bunch of hard-hitting finishers, culminating in a botched Tornado and a well-executed Tiger suplex by Ultimo Dragon to finish the match.

This is a pretty good match. The mat wrestling and rest holds near the beginning started to get a little boring, but things picked up in short time. There’s not much else to say about this, as there was no story going into this match besides that Ultimo Dragon is beating everybody.

Diamond Dallas Page Segment

DDP comes out on stage for an interview with Gene Okerlund. They discuss the Diamond Cutter, DDP’s finisher, and how it is the most deadly move in wrestling at the moment. DDP is more interested in calling out Macho Man Randy Savage, who appears with a magazine. Savage says he respects DDP because he has a hot wife, and shows a nude centerfold of Kimberley Page in the magazine (with the nudity obscured by NWO spray paint). Kimberley appears on stage spray-painted. DDP goes over to comfort her, but gets attacked from behind by Savage. The NWO letters are spray-painted on his back. This is a pretty entertaining segment and helped set the stage for one of the best NWO feuds, in which DDP got into the main event scene.

Glacier vs. Mortis (w/James Vandenberg) (6/10)

Set-Up: In late summer 1996, WCW debuted Glacier, a martial arts wrestler cashing in on the success of Mortal Kombat and in particular the popularity of its character Sub-Zero. Glacier’s entrance was expensive, with fake snow falling from the sky, blue lighting, and an overblown (but I think kinda cool) costume. He was forgotten about for a few months because of the focus on the NWO, but early in 1997 he was finally featured in a storyline in which evil manager James Vandenberg brought in his archenemy Mortis. Mortis’ costume was basically a green skeleton suit. For his entrance he would come in with a cape complete with skull shoulder pads. So basically, this feud was a fighting video game brought to life.

The Match: This match is declared a “Martial Arts Match”, even though aside from some martial arts kicks and palm strikes, it’s pretty much just a fast-paced wrestling match. Despite the over-the-top storyline, this is actually a pretty good match. Chris Kanyon, who is playing Mortis, was known for some unique offensive moves and shows some of those here. There’s a springboard leg drop, a body drop onto the apron from outside, and then one move where he twists around a bent over Glacier and places his leg over his head, shoving it into the mat. The climax comes when Mortis shoves the referee into the Cryonic Kick (think Shawn Michaels’ Sweet Chin Music). Mortis hits his own superkick and gets a nearfall. Glacier comes back with another Cryonic Kick, this time connecting and getting the win. Vandenberg calls out his other client, Wrath, who’s wearing a helmet. Wrath and Mortis beat the crap out of Glacier.

This was a good match. There were a few moments where it felt like the moves weren’t really connecting, so I have to dock some points for that. This feud would go on until Bash at the Beach in July, with a couple poor PPV matches and the inclusion of Ernest “the Cat” Miller as an ally for Glacier.

Buff Bagwell vs. Scotty Riggs (5/10)

Set-Up: Late in 1996, Eric Bischoff gave an ultimatum to WCW’s roster. They had a month to join the NWO or ultimately be destroyed. Most held their ground, but several responded positively and joined the group by the end of the year. The one that everybody remembers is Buff Bagwell. He was in the American Males tag team with Scotty Riggs when he defected, starting a breakup feud culminating with a strap match at Uncensored.

The Match: The rule is that one competitor must go around the ring and slap each of the four turnbuckles, while having to drag his opponent by a strap. For a strap match this is a pretty lengthy bout, but somehow they keep it entertaining. Sure, there’s a lot of whipping and choking with the strap, but there’s some decent wrestling moves as well. The real highlight is Bagwell’s charisma. I’ve read a lot of comments on the internet that call him a bad wrestler, but I think he’s pretty good. He’s not the most amazing wrestler, but he doesn’t suck either. Any shortcomings are made up for by his personality, basically an egotistical douche. Anyways, the best part of this match is when Bagwell mistakenly tries to make a pin and the referee doesn’t count. Bagwell gets into an altercation which results in the ref shoving him down and telling him off. Bagwell begs for forgiveness, repeating “I’m Sorry!” After the ref turns away he smiles into the camera and says “But I’m really not”. Riggs hits a powerbomb and dropkick and almost touches all four corners, but Bagwell pulls him away with the strap. Riggs is hit with a really hard back body drop and is rendered unconscious. Bagwell touches all four corners to win.

Again, strap matches are best when short, but this isn’t too bad since they actually do some decent wrestling and Bagwell finds ways to make duller spots entertaining.

Backstage, the main event NWO Team cuts a promo stating that Dennis Rodman is their secret weapon.

Harlem Heat vs. Public Enemy (4/10)

Set-Up: Harlem Heat (Booker T & Stevie Ray) and Public Enemy (Johnny Grunge & Rocco Rock) were having a feud and ended up in a no-disqualification brawl. There’s not much else to it.

The Match: This match is basically just two tag teams grabbing objects and hitting each other. Booker T tries to spice things up with his various kicks, but otherwise, it’s 13 minutes of people whacking each other with lids, cookie sheets, and other objects. Color commentator Dusty Rhodes seems highly amused, laughing his head off every time a new weapon is brought in. Finally something new happens when Public Enemy sets up a table and put Stevie Ray on it. Rocco Rock flips onto the table, knocking Stevie Ray and Johnny Grunge through it. Jeff Jarrett and Steve McMichael run in and attack Public Enemy. McMichael whacks Grunge with a suitcase. Booker T hits Harlem Hangover, his flying move, on Grunge and gets the pin.

This match was okay. It needed to be about half as long. It was way too long for what happened in it. If you want to have a lengthy no-disqualification match, you have to actually leave the ring area and have fights in the entranceway, the stands, or even out in the back, not to mention more actual wrestling moves.

Okerlund interviews Team WCW, whose members promise to defeat the NWO and bring honor back to WCW.

Prince Iaukea (c) vs. Rey Mysterio Jr. for the Television Title (3/10)

Set-Up: Prince Iaukea was getting a big push, winning the television title from Lord Steven Regal in February of 1997. His victories were often tainted by outside shenanigans from Regal and Rey Mysterio Jr., and he wanted to prove himself as a legitimate champion. He thus offered Mysterio a rematch for the title at Uncensored.

The Match: The announcers stress that the time limit for the match is 15 minutes. It’s usually 10 minutes as the TV Title is meant to be defended weekly without commercial interruptions. This match consists of a lot of counters and pin reversals, but Iaukea doesn’t have the skills of Malenko or Mysterio so a lot of it looks slow and awkward. The bell is rung, indicating that 15 minutes have passed, but in fact it’s 12! Rey Mysterio Jr. dramatically asks that the match continue so that there is a clear winner. Almost two minutes later, Iaukea gets thrown off the top with a hurricarana, but rolls on the landing to get a pin.

So counting overtime the match is 13:41 long. It looks like someone in upper management wanted to turn Iaukea into a big star and did bad math to make him look stronger and more endurable. This makes all of the drama from the announcers and Mysterio comical, as not only did they not even reach 15 minutes, but the action itself got really dull. Prince Iaukea would soon lose the Television Title and become a jobber.

Team NWO vs. Team Piper vs. Team WCW (7/10)

Set-Up: This match requires a lot of explanation. The NWO was running incredibly strong at this point. Aside from Piper knocking out Hogan with the sleeper hold at Starrcade, the NWO had been winning every main event on PPV. They also held four of the six titles, with Hollywood Hogan as World Champion, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash as Tag Team Champions, and Syxx as the Cruiserweight champ. Their numbers were growing. In addition to the four mentioned, they had gotten the services of Eric Bischoff, bodyguard Vincent, Big Bubba, Buff Bagwell, Scott Norton, VK Wallstreet, and even Randy Savage. It also seemed that Sting might have joined as well, at one point standing in the ring with the villainous faction (though just standing there doing nothing).

Oh, and Dennis Rodman, suspended for kicking a cameraman in the groin in a Chicago Bulls vs. Minnesota Timberwolves game, used his free time to join the NWO. Except for maybe Mike Tyson’s inclusion at Wrestlemania 14, this was probably the most successful use of a celebrity in pro wrestling history. He promised to be with the NWO at Uncensored and there was no doubt that he would get involved somehow.

Lex Luger and the Giant had defeated Hall and Nash for the titles, but Bischoff used his power to reverse the decision. Frustrated, Luger convinced the NWO to put all of the titles on the line in a large team match. Around the same time Piper was still obsessed with taking out Hollywood Hogan, so he formed Team Piper, making this a three-way affair. Piper gathered a random team of jobbers, but the Four Horsemen convinced him to use three of them instead. Here are the teams and the stipulations.

Team NWO (Hollywood Hogan, Kevin Nash, Randy Savage, & Scott Hall)

Team WCW (the Giant, Lex Luger, Rick Steiner, & Scott Steiner)

Team Piper (Roddy Piper, Chris Benoit, Jeff Jarrett, & Steve McMichael)

At different intervals each team sends out one man. Eliminations can occur by pinfall, submission, or being thrown over the top rope. If Team NWO wins, they get any title shots any time. If Team WCW wins, the NWO must relinquish all of their titles and not wrestle for three years. This means that there is no way Team WCW is going to win (though I guess the NWO can always find a devious way to get back to wrestling in no time). If Team Piper wins, Piper gets Hogan in a cage match. So basically, the Four Horsemen are making it harder for Team WCW to expel the NWO so Piper can get another grudge match.

The Match: Team Piper sends out Benoit, NWO Scott Hall, and WCW the Giant to start things off. Benoit and Hall double-team the Giant, which would make perfect sense except that they should be trying to take out the NWO. Eventually a beaten Hall is wobbling in the corner. The Giant charges him and he ducks, the big man’s momentum sending himself flying out to be eliminated. The second period arrives and Team Piper sends in Jeff Jarrett, NWO Randy Savage, and WCW Lex Luger. There is a bunch of basic battle royal action and the third period comes in a couple minutes, producing Steve “Mongo” McMichael, Kevin Nash, and Scott Steiner. Scott Steiner delivers a bunch of suplexes as usual. Nash boots out Jarrett and Hall flips out McMichael. Team WCW and Team Piper should be working together here and instead they’re attacking each other and opening themselves up for eliminations.

Roddy Piper comes out for the fourth and final period. Scott Steiner is eliminated by the NWO. Rick Steiner hasn’t recovered from his backstage attack and it seems that Team WCW isn’t allowed to replace him, so Luger has no one else to help him. Hollywood Hogan finally comes out accompanied by Dennis Rodman. He and Piper go at it and have a pretty bad-looking brawl outside the ring. Randy Savage joins in to help the NWO leader and they all get back into the battle royal. Piper is knocked against the ropes. Rodman pulls down the top rope, cheating to eliminate Hot Rod. It’s now all of Team NWO vs. Benoit and Luger, though Hogan and Savage go outside to continue brawling with Piper. Hall hits Benoit with the Outsider’s Edge and he and Nash eliminate him.

The NWO huddle together in the ring to plan what to do with Luger. Nash sets him up for the Jackknife Powerbomb, but gets flipped over. Luger starts clotheslining everybody and gets Savage in the Torture Rack for a submission. Luger knocks Nash over the top rope and then gets Hall to submit to the Torture Rack. It’s just him and Hogan. He gets him up for the rack, but Savage gets a can of paint and sprays him in the eyes. Hogan takes advantage and pins him.

This match was fairly good. It featured a lot of wrestlers who were past their prime (Hogan, Piper, Savage), had a tendency to phone it in (Nash), or plain bad (Mongo McMichael), but having a big team battle royal really helped to obscure their shortcomings and provide an entertaining main event. But what’s really awesome is what happens after the match.

Team NWO celebrates with Dennis Rodman, who has the honor of spray painting their logo on Luger’s back. Then Sting descends from the ceiling, unhooks from his harness, and hits Scott Hall! Sting cleans house with his baseball bat as he makes the statement that he is for WCW. Hogan yells at Sting to drop the bat and face him like a man. Sting obliges. He blocks Hogan’s punch and delivers his own, which prompts a massive roar of cheers from the crowd. He hits him with the Scorpion Death Drop and the NWO retreats.

Overall Thoughts

WCW actually had trouble putting on consistently good PPVs. This is one of the better ones from 1997. The first match between Malenko and Guerrero is awesome. The next two matches weren’t on the same level, but they were still good. The strap match between Bagwell and Riggs was average, but definitely could have been worse. Things stank a little towards the end with the overlong street fight and the bad-on-so-many-levels Mysterio vs. Iaukea match, but picked up with a decent main event and a killer ending. What actually makes this a good PPV is many of the non-match segments, such as DDP and Savage’s encounter, fun backstage promos, and Sting’s declaration of war on the NWO.

Final Rating: 7/10

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