We made it to 1997! I’m not super high on the WWF right now, but they’ve got the Royal Rumble coming up in a couple weeks and I expect that to set the tone for the rest of the year, for better or for worse. The show today starts out with a match between Owen Hart and Mankind, which is fine, but kind of serves as a placeholder as far as I can tell because to this point, neither of these guys have interacted with the other before now. After the match, we cut to the locker room for an interview with Shawn Michaels who is accompanied by Jose Lothario and Jose’s adult son Pete. All three men are determined to take down Sycho Sid as soon as possible after what Sid did to Jose a few weeks ago.
Later, before Bret Hart faces off with Vader, Sid gets his own insane interview. Shawn Michaels and Jose Lothario are out there for guest commentary and somehow manage to control themselves, which doesn’t happen that often in the WWF.
During the match, while the ref gets distracted, Steve Austin runs out and hits the Stone Cold Stunner on Bret Hart. This allows Vader to roll the Hitman back in the ring where he hits him with the Vader Bomb for the win. Meanwhile Sid has gone back to the locker room while HBK and Jose Lothario are away and powerbombs Jose’s son through a table. This guy needs to be put down, and hopefully Shawn’s the man to do it.
At WCW, the Four Horsemen are really starting to implode. Chris Benoit and Woman are nowhere to be found as Mean Gene interviews the other members of the group. Jeff Jarrett decides now is a good time to stick his nose in their business again so he comes down and asks Ric Flair if he prefers a part-time Horsemen like Benoit, or a full-time Horsemen like Jarrett. He then continues to push his luck by mouthing off to Arn Anderson which is NEVER a good idea and sure enough leads to Double J getting his butt handed to him by Double A. The fight spills into the squared circle and an impromptu match begins. After Jarrett uses the ropes for leverage to cheat out a win over the Enforcer, tempers flare all around. Ric tries to get his hands on Jarrett but is stopped by Debra McMichael. He tries to get around her anyway which draws the ire of Mongo. Flair turns on him and Arn gets ready to throw down as well, but Debra is able to finally calm everyone down. I’m not sure how much longer this iteration of the Four Horsemen is going to last at this rate.
The show comes to a close with the requisite Hollywood Hogan showboating. Surrounded by the rest of the nWo, he brags about how he single-handedly whipped the Giant last week. And speak of the devil, here comes the Giant down the aisle, eschewing the nWo shirt and back in his familiar black singlet. He immediately starts beating up his old stablemates with ease. Hogan cowers in the corner while his henchmen try to stand up to the Giant, causing Bobby Heenan to gleefully exclaim “the nWo’s been behind Hogan, and now it’s his turn to get behind them!” Soon enough the Giant’s cleared the ring, leaving just Hogan in there with him. Hogan winds up and tries to throw a punch at the Giant, but the big man easily catches Hogan’s fist in his hand and takes him down to the mat in pain. Finally Bischoff distracts the Giant long enough for Hogan to get a chair and slam it into the Giant’s back which is followed by the nWo pouring back in and beating the Giant into unconsciousness.
After they clear out, Sting comes into the ring to check on the Giant. Finding him unresponsive, Sting exits the ring, leaving behind his baseball bat. Spying this, Vincent goes down to grab the bat and finish the big man off for good, but of course he accidentally wakes the sleeping Giant who chokeslams Vincent into oblivion. The nWo runs down to help, but they’re held off by the enraged Giant, made even scarier by the bat he swings around madly.
Verdict: Considering most of Raw revolves around Sycho Sid, this episode of Nitro could just be an hour and a half long nWo tshirt commercial and I’d still rate it higher than Raw.
Winner this week: Nitro
Score to date: Nitro 48, Raw 17
(Television Ratings: Raw - 2.1; Nitro - 3.0)