Thursday, 4 January 2018

PPV REVIEW - WCW Spring Stampede 1997

WCW Spring Stampede 1997 - Event Poster
April 6, 1997
Tupelo Coliseum, Tupelo, Mississippi

After first introducing the world to Spring Stampede back in 1994, with an event which featured Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat for the World Heavyweight Championship, WCW had apparently proceeded to forget all about their April PPV show for the next three years. 

Tonight, all of that changed.

As the pro wrestling boom period of the late 1990s got underway, World Championship Wrestling dug out their stetsons and chuck wagons and brought the show back for the first time since that Flair/Steamboat showcase back in 1994.

Could a modern, nWo-led Spring Stampede compete with the greatness of Flair/Steamboat?

Let's head down to  Tupelo, Mississippi to find out.

Spring Time Has Arrived

World Championship Wrestling must have been taking notes from the WWF; their usual opening video didn't look like a reject from a late-80s kids TV show.

WCW Spring Stampede 1997 - Dusty Rhodes, Tony Schiavone, Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan
What it did do, was run down tonight's card before sending us to Tony Schiavone, Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan and The American Dream Dusty Rhodes.

As always, Tony led the conversation, hyping up the big matches on the show.

He also told us that Scott Hall had been AWOL for a few weeks, so Kevin Nash had to defend the tag titles solo.

Nash, apparently, had agreed, but only if his demands were met.

Quite what these demands were, nobody knew.

Ultimo Dragon vs. Rey Mysterio Jr. 

I refuse to refer to the man from the Orient as Ultimate Dragon as he was known here.


As the former J-Crown champion locked up with Rey Mysterio Jr., Mike Tenay reminded us that this was the third time the two had met on PPV, first at WCW Hog Wild 1996 and then again at World War 3 1996.

Tenany and Heenan also reminded us of the rumour circulating at the time that Mysterio was dating Jennifer Aniston.

WCW Spring Stampede 1997 - Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. Ultimo Dragon
That rumour was BS. This match was not.

I'm not sure that it was the best out of the three PPV bouts that these two had, but it was certainly a very enjoyable opener that was only marred slightly by a cut away to the backstage area.

There, we saw Lee Marshall trying to get a word with Kevin Nash, only for Syxx to tell him to get lost.

Back to the match in hand, Mysterio basically got his ass handed to him by the Dragon before stealing a win.
Your Winner: Rey Mysterio Jr.

Afterwards, we went back to the nWo Locker room, where Lee Marshall once again tried to get a word with Kevin Nash.

WCW Spring Stampede 1997 - The Steiners get tackled by WCW Security
This time, Nash himself appeared, insisting that whilst he was happy to fight The Steiner Brothers by himself, he wanted Nick Patrick as the referee.

Whilst all this was going on, Rick and Scott turned up, and acted a little bit angry.

One member of security tackled Scott Steiner to the floor whilst  Doug Dillinger sprayed mace in his eyes. As he did so, Tony Sciavone yelled 'mace in the face!' over and over like he were dropping vocals for a dance track.

Talk about over excessive.
   

World Championship Wrestling Women's Champion
WCW Women's Champion Akira Hokuto (w/ Sonny Onoo) vs. Madusa 

WCW Spring Stampede 1997 - WCW Women's Champion Akira Hokuto w/ Sony Onoo
After hiring Madusa for the sole purpose of putting the WWF Women's Championship in the bin, the company had to do something with her to warrant the cost of her contract, so they created the WCW women's division, which basically focussed on Madusa failing to become champion.

Tonight was no different, as the former Alundra Blayze lost to Akira Hokuto in a fun match.

After several minutes of entertaining action, Madusa looked to have the match won, but Sonny Onoo caused a distraction which allowed Luna Vachon to run in and cost her the win.
Your Winner and Still WCW women's champion: Akira Hokuto 

No Mean Gene yet, so it was straight on to our next match.

World Championship Wrestling World Television Championship
WCW TV Champion Prince Iaukea vs. Lord Steven Regal 

WCW Spring Stampede 1997 - Steven Regal challenged Prince Iaukea for the TV title
Prince Iaukea was always a strange one. Here we had a guy that WCW was willing to put the TV title on and feature on multiple PPVs. Yet instead of using this to make him into a star, the company had their announcers basically put over the Prince's success as a fluke, as though telling us that he didn't really deserve to be where he was at.

If they'd just told us he'd earned his success by being very good, we might actually be talking about him in a whole different way today.

Here, Iukea defended his TV title against former champion Lord Steven Regal in the culmination of a several-month rivalry.

Much as you'd expect from anything involving Regal, this was a very good wrestling match, with the emphasis very much on the actual wrestling.

The only thing that tarnished it was the announcers, who apart from making the reigning champion sound like a lucky loser, often ignored him and Regal altogether in order to talk about Kevin Nash and The Steiners.

In an update, Scott Steiner had been arrested for apparently assaulting a police officer and had been hauled off to jail. That meant that tonight, the WCW Tag Team Titles would be defended in a singles match between Kevin Nash vs. Rick Steiner.

Yep, this was WCW.

Back to the match, Iukea won, the announcers told us it was a fluke.
Your Winner and Still TV Champion: Prince Iaukea 

Afterwards, Regal beat up the champ and put him in the Regal Stretch until the referee broke it off.

Ric Flair Announces His Return 

WCW Spring Stampede 1997 - Ric Flair announced his return to action
After Mean Gene Okerlund told us to call the WCW Hotline to find out about the new backstage clique in the company, he introduced his guest, The Nature Boy Ric Flair.

Flair put over the rest of the Four Horsemen before telling us that he was cleared to compete as of May 1st.

As if that wasn't enough, The Nature Boy also revealed that the Horsemen would be joined at this year's Slamboree by Kevin Green (who they actually faced in a match at the previous year's Great American Bash).

Their opponents, should they accept the challenge, would be none other than the nWo.

The Public Enemy (Flyboy Rocco Rock & Johnny Grunge) vs. The Four Horsemen (Steve 'Mongo' McMichael & Jeff Jarrett w/ Debra McMichael) 

WCW Spring Stampede 1997 - Debra & Steve McMichael
This match had originally been scheduled for the previous month's WCW Uncensored before Steve 'Mongo' McMichael and Jeff Jarrett found themselves in the main event of that show.

The match had then been rescheduled for tonight, though why the bothered I couldn't tell you.

This was sloppy at best, mind-numbingly dull at worst, and certainly the poorest match on the show so far.

The end came when Jarrett had Johnny Grunge in figure four. Just when Jarrett looked to have the whole thing won, Rocco Rock hit him with Mongo's briefcase behind the referees back.

The ref then turned around, counted Jarrett's shoulders down for a three count and gave the match to The Public Enemy.
Your Winners: The Public Enemy  

Afterwards, Debra showed concern only for Jarrett, furthering the story that she actually liked him more than her own husband.

Hulk Hogan, Booker T is Coming For You, N***a

Yes, this was *that* promo.

Tonight, Booker T and Stevie Ray would be fighting in an every-man for-himself match against Lex Luger and The Giant in a four-way match to determine the number one contender to Hollywood Hulk Hogan's WCW title.

Booker said...

Well, you know exactly what Booker said, because this is one of the most famous promos of all time, for all the wrong reasons.


World Championship Wrestling United States Championship
WCW United States Champion Dean Malenko vs. Chris Benoit (w/ Woman)

There were times when this one displayed all the signs of the classic you'd expect from Chris Benoit and Dean Malenko. Sadly, those times were interspersed with long periods of not much happening, making this a very disappointing match indeed.

WCW Spring Stampede 1997 - Dean Maleno vs. Chris Benoit - US title
To make matters worse, the ending was exactly the kind of situation that the word 'clusterfuck' was invented for.

Jacqueline ran down to attack Woman on the outside whilst Jimmy Hart tried to steal the United States title, only to be stopped by Eddie Guerrero. Whilst all this was going on, Arn Anderson came out and attacked Dean Malenko, then Kevin Sullivan hit Benoit with a big stick.

In the midst of the madness, the referee threw the match out.
No Contest

Afterwards, the Dungeon of Doom members put the US belt on Eddie Guerrero's shoulder then dragged him backstage as though he were on their side and doing them a favour.

Malenko then stood by Benoit until The Crippler came round. Clearly, this whole thing was far from over.

World Championship Wrestling World Tag Team Championship
WCW Tag Team Champion Kevin Nash (w/ Syxx & Ted Dibiase) vs. Rick Steiner

WCW Spring Stampede 1997 - Kevin Nash (w/ Syxx)
And so for the first -but by no means the last- time, the tag team titles were defended in a singles match.

I say match, this was really just several long minutes of Nash humiliating Rick Steiner, beating him from pillar to proverbial post without mercy or regard.

At one point Syxx exposed the top turnbuckle and Nash began dropping Steiner, snake-eyes style on the exposed steel.

He did this over and over again, so much so that even Ted Dibiase tried to convince him that enough was enough.

Eventually, Dibiase could stomach no more of this wanton abuse and left the ring. Meanwhile, nWo referee Nick Patrick began to have pity on Steiner, and was even reluctant to count the eventual pitfall, before storming off, turning his back on the nWo once and for all.
Your Winner: Kevin Nash

Out in the back, Mean Gene spoke to The Giant and Lex Luger about tonight's big four-way match.

The Giant told us that Hogan hadn't counted on he and Lex being such good friends that they'd be prepared to wrestle one another and accept that the best man had won, whilst Lex said he was ready. Repeatedly. That's all I heard from this promo; Luger saying 'we're ready.'

Anyway, that match was next.

Number One Contenders Four-Way Match
Booker T vs. Stevie Ray (w/ Sister Sherri) vs. Lex Luger vs. The Giant

WCW Spring Stampede 1997 - Lex Luger & The Giant interviewed by Mean Gene
This was billed as every man for himself, but given the four corners stipulation, in which a wrestler had to tag in to be legal, it was mostly a tag match between Harlem Heat and Luger/Giant.

Not that this was necessarily a bad thing.

Though this one was hardly going to win any Match of the Year awards, it was a relatively entertaining match which came to an end when The Giant looked to have Stevie Ray beat and was setting him up for a chokeslam.

Instead, the big man sacrificed his potential title shot by tagging in Luger and telling him to rack big Stevie.

Lex did just that, and a few seconds later we had a new number one contender to the WCW title.
Your Winner: Lex Luger

Prior to our main event getting started, we were shown a hype for next month's Slamboree, featuring Bobby Heenan, Tony Schiavone, and Larry Zybysko.

Mean Gene Interviews Page and Kimberley

WCW Spring Stampede 1997 - Gene interviews Kimberly and Diamond Dallas Page
With his opponent, Macho Man Randy Savage already in the ring, Diamond Dallas Page promised to kick some ass in their no holds barred match.

Gene then introduced Kimberly. We were apparently supposed to forget all about the rivalry she had with her husband last year, as the two were very much now on the same, ahem, page.

Kimberly told us that Page's rage was going to make all the difference here, and with that, it was on to our main event.

No Disqualification Match
Macho Man Randy Savage (w/ Elizabeth) vs. Diamond Dallas Page (w/ Kimberly)

This was every bit as good as you might expect it to be, if not better.


The two bitter rivals wasted no time in beating the tar out of one another, brawling wildly around ringside, through the crowds, and eventually back to the ring, where Savage took full control over his opponent.

When DDP refused to lose, however, Savage took his frustrations out on the referee, first nailing him with a piledriver then whipping the poor guy with his own belt.

Kevin Nash then sent Nick Patrick in as a replacement, but DDP recovered, hit the Diamond Cutter, and got the three count when Patrick made a normal three count.
Your Winner: Diamond Dallas Page

Afterwards, the majority of the nWo came out to point at Patrick and look angry whilst Nash picked up the official and powerbombed him right out of the New World Order.

   

It's funny that the most memorable thing to come out of tonight's show was Booker T's N-Bomb promo. Yet whilst that may be the moment that defined the show, there was still lots to enjoy from an in-ring standpoint.

That main event was very enjoyable, whilst the opening matches also had a lot to be praised.

As PPVs go, Spring Stampede 97 wasn't exactly a game-changer, but it was certainly a decent show that should serve you well if you're looking for something to watch on a lazy Sunday afternoon or something.


1997 events reviewed so far:

  1. WWF - Royal Rumble 1997
  2. WCW - Souled Out 1997
  3. WWF - In Your House 13: Final Four 
  4. WCW - Superbrawl VII 
  5. WCW - Uncensored 1997 
  6. WWF - Wrestlemania 13
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Retro Pro Wrestling

New reviews of classic WWF/WWE events recalling every moment from Wrestlemania 1 - 30. You'll also find reviews of WCW, ECW, TNA and the occasional indie event, along with a look at old school magazines, merchandise and more.