PPV REVIEW: WCW Road Wild 1997

WCW Road Wild 1997 Review - Event Poster
August 9, 1997
Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Sturgis, South Dakota.

In 1996, Eric Bischoff gleefully pissed Ted Turner's money up the wall by hosting the Hog Wild 1996 PPV at the famous Sturgis Biker Rally but not actually charging for tickets. 

That event had seen the newly-heel nWo leader, Hollywood Hulk Hogan challenge future nWo member The Giant for the WCW title.

One year later, and after apparently getting away with not charging for tickets, Bischoff once again presented the Sturgis PPV, this time renamed Road Wild after Harley Davidson had threatened to sue for Hog Wild related copyright infringement.

Once again, Hogan, now fully comfortable in his role as the egomaniacal leader of the renegade New World Order, found himself in the challenger's role, this time against the man he only recently lost the title to on Nitro, The Total Package Lex Luger.

That's your introduction, and this, ladies and gentlemen, is what went down when WCW presented Road Wild 1997.

Luger is The Champion 

WCW Road Wild 1997 Review - Dusty Rhodes, Tony Schiavone, and Bobby Heenan were the event announcers
We started our show with a quick recap of how Luger had defeated Hogan just a week ago on Nitro, after which Tony Schiavone welcomed us to Sturgis.

Joined, as ever, by The American Dream Dusty Rhodes and Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan, Schiavone speculated that tonight could finally be the night that WCW finally put the NWO to rest if only its stars could get the better of the boys in black.

With that, it was on to our opening match.

Vicious & Delicious (Buff Bagwell & Scott Norton w/ Vincent) vs. Harlem Heat (Booker T and Stevie Ray) 

WCW Road Wild 1997 - Jacqueline Moore was revealed as Harlem Heat's new manager
Our opening contest this evening was a mostly mediocre affair, the sole highlight of which being the surprise arrival, mid-way through the match, of Jacqueline, who took up post in Harlem Heat's corner.

Booker T and Stevie Ray had recently separated from Sister Sherri, and it seemed Jackie was here as her replacement, even going so far as to help her boys win the match by attacking Scott Norton.

Unfortunately, not even she had what it took to make this one exciting, and what we were left with was a reasonably dull effort that nobody -including the wrestlers in the ring- cared about.
Your Winners: Harlem Heat 

Before our next match, we were shown The Steiner Brothers with their new manager, Ted Dibiase, talking to WCW.com'a reporter.

Dibiaise told the reporter that he had chosen to manage Rick and Scott Steiner because they represented 'traditional wrestling values.'

Konnan vs. Rey Mysterio Jr. 

WCW Road Wild 1997 Review - Konnan beat Rey Mysterio in a good match
A recent addition to the New World Order, Konnan was a pretty sloppy performer at this stage in his career, whilst Rey Mysterio Jr. was, as always, about as good as it ever got.

Putting the two together in one match made for interesting results - a bout that was at once both one of Konnan's best since he'd joined World Championship Wrestling and one of Rey Mysterio's worst.

The nWo star dominated proceedings, even unmasking his rival at one point (Rey got the mask back without revealing his face on camera) and eventually made Mysterio tap to the Tequila Sunrise, though not before a strong showing from Little Rey himself.
Your Winner: Konnan 

Afterwards, they played up Mysterio's injured leg by having a gaggle of referees and the trainer came down to help out the fallen star, even bringing a leg splint out.

Killing time, Tony, Bobby, and Dream told us how important Sturgis was and what a huge event the whole Biker rally was.

Kids, Get Your Parents' Permission 

Up next, Mean Gene Okerlund showed us his terrible-looking fake tattoo in order to prove his Biker credentials before reminding us to call the WCW Hotline if we wanted to know who the two new managers were they were coming to World Championship Wrestling.

Tag Team Elimination Match
WCW United States Champion Jeff Jarrett & Dean Malenko (w/ Queen Debra) vs. The Four Horsemen (Crippler Chris Benoit & Steve 'Mongo' McMichael) 

WCW Road Wild 1997 - Dean Malenko teamed with Jeff Jarrett and faced Chris Benoit and Mongo McMichaelFor all intents and purposes, this was a handicap match.

United States Champion Jeff Jarrett wasn't exactly in the good books of Dean Malenko, so he let the Man of 1,000 Holds start the match and basically get his ass whooped for a good few minutes, without Jarett ever volunteering to get involved.

When Malenko did surprise Double J with a tag, the champion simply pulled arch-rival Steve 'Mongo' McMichael on top of him and had himself pinned.

Malenko then put up a good fight against The Four Horsemen but succumbed to a tombstone piledriver and diving headbutt from

Benoit and a second tombstone from Mongo to win the match.

I will say though, that as handicap matches go, that was pretty good, with an early exchange between Malenko and Benoit turning into a thing of absolute beauty.
Your Winners: Chris Benoit & Steve McMichael  

The match was followed by the briefest of clips showing us Diamond Dallas Page and The Steiner Brothers riding into Sturgis on their Harleys, after which it was straight onto our first title match of the evening.

World Championship Wrestling World Cruiserweight Championship
WCW Cruiserweight Champion Alex Wright vs. Lion Heart Chris Jericho 

WCW Road Wild 1997 - Chris Jericho challenged Alex Wright for the Cruiserweight title
Having recently defeated Chris Jericho for the WCW Cruiserweight title, Alex Wright put the belt on the line in a return match which started off clumsily but gradually evolved into a great piece of wrestling.

Both men worked hard to deliver the highlight of the show up to this point, with Jericho seemingly on course to regain his title.

At the last possible moment, however, Wright -who had recently turned heel- rolled up Lion Heart and kept his title with a fluke pin.
Your Winner and Still WCW Cruiserweight Champion: Alex Wright 

More random 'hey, we're at a biker rally' footage followed, after which it was onto our next match.

Syxx vs. Nature Boy Ric Flair 

After going at it in a big six man at last month's Bash at the Beach 1997, Syxx and Ric Flair had become the most bitter of rivals.

WCW Road Wild 1997 Review - Nature Boy Ric Flair faced Syxx
Tonight, the two would finally get the chance to settle the score in a match that turned out to be even better than the previous one.

A hugely enjoyable see-saw battle, this was one of the best matches I've ever seen Sean Waltman involved in, and a perfect example of Flair proving that he could still deliver at this stage of his career when he was sufficiently motivated to do so.

The whole thing was tremendous fun from start to finish and ended when The Dirtiest Player in The Game pinned Syxx using the ropes for leverage.
Your Winner: Ric Flair  

Another brief clip of the Sturgis bikers followed, after which we got back to the ring for our next match.

Curt Hennig vs. Diamond Dallas Page (w/ Kimberly) 

WCW Road Wild 1997 - Diamond Dallas Page (w/ Kimberly) faced Curt Hennig
As Curt Hennig made his way to the ring, Tony Schiavone told us that he and Diamond Dallas Page had been at war and bad each been attacking each other from behind.

Tonight, the two would go face-to-face in what proved to be another fantastic match.

Starting off with a wild brawl before settling into your standard two-guys-hate-each-other wrestling match, this one saw Hennig play the role of the crafty veteran, pitting his cunning and experience against the unbridled energy and determination of DDP.

That experience ultimately triumphed tonight.

A couple of ref bumps and an ill-advised run in from Ric Flair left Page -who had been busted open thanks to a wicked face smash into an exposed turnbuckle- vulnerable to a Perfect Plex, and that was all she wrote.
Your Winner: Curt Hennig

Post match, Mean Gene once again told us to call the WCW Hotline, this time to find out who Raven's first in-ring opponent would be in the company.

Okerlund then introduced us to a commercial for next month's Fall Brawl. The commercial, which focussed on the War Games match, showed us the likes of High Voltage, Hugh Morrus and Public Enemy all competing in the cage - as if there was any chance in the world that we would ever see then in War Games.

A quick clip then played of Eric Bischoff promising that Lex Luger would pay for beating Hogan, and with that, it was back to the action.

Macho Man Randy Savage (w/ Miss. Elizabeth) vs. The Giant 

WCW Road Wild 1997 Review - Macho Man Randy Savage (w/ Elizabeth) faced The Giant
With the sun setting over South Dakota, The Giant looked to conquer the New World Order in a decent effort against Macho Man Randy Savage.

Though not on par with the last couple of matches, this one was fun for what it was, with Savage -like Hennig before him- using cunning heel tactics to counter The Giant's sheer strength and size.

This time, however, experience wasn't enough.

The Giant caught Macho Man coming off the top, choke slammed himself and won't match.

So far, WCW were 3-1 against the New World Order.
Your Winner: The Giant 

I can't believe how quickly this show has gone - only two matches left.

World Championship Wrestling World Tag Team Championship
WCW World Tag Team Champions The Outsiders (Scott Hall & Kevin Nash) vs. The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott Steiner w/ Ted Dibiase) 

The Steiner Brothers' efforts to wrestle the tag team titles away from Kevin Nash and Scott Hall had been frustrating and heartbreaking for their fans.

If you recall, Rick and Scott first beat The Outsiders for the titles at Souled Out 1997 before Eric Bischoff overturned the decision and gave the belts back to Hall & Nash.

Then, when it looked like they might get a rematch, Hall and Nash had Masa Chono and The Great Muta take their place at Bash at the Beach 1997.

Tonight, the brothers looked to finally get their hands on the titles that the announcers frequently told us rightfully belonged to them, but were alas met with more frustration and yet more heartbreak.

The bulk of the match saw Scott Steiner separated from his brother and forced to play the babyface-in-peril for about a thousand years.

The beat down of Scotty lasted for so long that there seemed to be only one rightful conclusion - a crowd popping hot tag followed by the long-awaited big win.

The crowd popping hot tag came alright, and when it came that pop would have blown the roof off the arena had there been a roof there in the first place, but the big win?

Forget it.

Just when The Steiners looked to have the win in the bag, Kevin Nash pulled referee Nick Patrick out of the ring.

Patrick disqualified The Outsiders and thus, even though they won the match, Rick and Scott still wouldn't get the titles.
Your Winners via Disqualification: The Steiner Brothers (The Outsiders retain the titles)

Talk about disappointing.

World Championship Wrestling World Heavyweight Championship
WCW World Heavyweight Champion Lex Luger vs. Hollywood Hulk Hogan 

WCW Road Wild 1997 - Lex Luger defended the WCW title against Hulk Hogan
At Bash at the Beach 1997, Lex Luger had made Hulk Hogan submit when the two faced off in a big main event tag team match (Hogan teamed with Dennis Rodman and Luger with The Giant).

That had been enough to give Luger a title shot, but after shocking the world with the win, it was time to restore the natural order of things in a rather mediocre main event.

I was tempted to call this disappointing, but then it's Hogan vs. Luger, so my expectations were never that high to begin with.

Some mostly uninspired back-and-forthing filled up the bulk of the contest before the somewhat inevitable nWo run-in.

Luger saw off the attack by Vicious & Delicious and the Wolfpac but fell victim to a baseball bat shot from another fake Sting and was unceremoniously pinned.
Your Winner and New WCW World Heavyweight Champion: Hollywood Hulk Hogan 

Wasting no time, Hogan and his crew celebrated briefly then hightailed it to the back, leaving the announcers to wonder where it all went wrong as The Steiners and Curt Hennig helped Luger to the back and the announcers buried their heads in their hands, wondering aloud where it had all gone wrong.

Finally, we were told that a fight had broken out backstage, but we're instead just shown the nWo celebrating and Dennis Rodman doing the honours of retagging the WCW title with the nWo logo.

You know, WCW gets a lot of flack for a lot of things - including wasting money on Hog/Road Wild, but whatever business decisions were made, that doesn't take away from the fact that Road Wild 1997 was mostly a very fine show with a lot of quality wrestling involved and for that, if nothing else, you have to give the company credit.

Though not everything on the card was top quality, enough of it was to make this one well worth your time.

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
  7. WCW Spring Stampede 1997
  8. WWF - In Your House 14: Revenge of The Taker
  9. WWF - In Your House 15: A Cold Day in Hell
  10. WCW - Slamboree 1997
  11. WWF - King of the Ring 1997
  12. WCW - Great American Bash 1997 
  13. WWF - In Your House 16: Canadian Stampede 
  14. WCW - Bash at the Beach 1997 
  15. WWF - Summerslam 1997
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