Rewriting the Book
By C.G. Scum
“What if Bret Hart left the WWF on “agreeable” terms in November of 1997 as he headed off to WCW?”
Moving full speed ahead into part three of our sequel, we come out of SuperBrawl and look towards March of 1998 with numerous storylines and feuds left unsettled in the world of WCW both on and off the screen. On camera, Bret Hart has obviously thrust himself directly into the center of the World Title picture after his involvement in the Sting/Hogan main event in San Francisco, and his “family” of friends seems to be growing at a rapid pace as well. Hollywood Hogan and Randy Savage appeared to actually be on the same page for the good of the New World Order at the pay per view, but with another failed attempt by the Hulkster, albeit a controversial one, it raises the question as to where they stand moving forward. As for the rest of the nWo, Hall and Nash have eliminated their top competition by seemingly bringing Ted DiBiase and his huge bankroll back into the fold to lure Scott Steiner on board, as he did the unthinkable in turning on his own brother and splitting their longtime tag team up. The WCW Champion, Sting, will no doubt be looking for answers from the “Hitman” following the bat attack even though Hart aided him in his win. Also, with all of the recent carnage caused by Ric Flair and the Four Horseman, one would have to think that many members of the roster, whether WCW, nWo, or indifferent will be looking for payback. Behind the scenes, Bret was approached by a superstar that was looking for his help in getting him a more prominent role it would seem, and there is still the lingering question of who the contact for Vince McMahon will be and how will they factor into Bret’s and WCW’s future once the two begin conversing again. With all these items to resolve at some point in this story, we head live to nWo Monday Nitro, the night after SuperBrawl in Sacramento, California to continue in our quest to find out, “What if Bret Hart left the WWF on “agreeable terms in November of 1997 as he headed off to WCW?”
Arriving early at the Arco Arena, Bret Hart was greeted as he made his way through the dressing room area by the same large figure he had left the building with the night prior. The two rehashed their conversation and the “Hitman” assured his counterpart as he readied to head into the booking meeting that he would “put out there” exactly what they had discussed the day before. Again, the committee raved about Bret’s input, with none being prouder than Eric Bischoff. “I told you guys, I know how to go for the jugular, and with this guy here, (motioning to Bret), we are going to do just that.” The meeting went off without a hitch and all hands on board even agreed to Bret’s input regarding his plans involving his “new friend” that had approached him with in the last twenty four hours. The group was so excited with the new direction of the television that the conference ended in applause, led by none other than Kevin Nash, who exchanged a look with Bret, again offering a wink and a sly smile as he loudly put his hands together.
nWo Monday Nitro- February 23, 1997- Sacramento, CA
Not surprisingly, Nitro comes on the air and once again we hear the familiar guitar riffs of Jimi Hendrix, as Hollywood Hogan heads towards the ring, walking with a purpose. He is joined by Eric Bischoff and “Macho Man” Randy Savage. The three hit the ring as Bobby Heenan for the moment occupies the broadcast position by himself. Hogan calls for the music to be cut and opens up exactly where one would expect him to given the events of last night. “Bret Hart, you gutless coward,” he begins. “You are so jealous of Hollywood that you just can’t leave well enough alone and stay out of my business, can you? Well, that is just fine by me, brother, because this is Hollywood’s show, nWo Nitro, and I call the shots around here, jack.” Hulk goes on to say, “So the first thing I am going to do here tonight, since I got screwed over by that crybaby, canuck, is I am going to give myself an immediate rematch against the other gutless coward, Sting, who has been quakin’ in his boots and chompin’ his finger nails just trying to think of any way he can cheat to try and beat Hollywood, and I am gonna take my World title back for all my nWo-ites here in Sacramento, dude.”
Just as Hogan finishes this line, we see J.J Dillon come to the ramp, interrupting. “Mr. Hogan, with all due respect to the controversial manner in which you lost last night at SuperBrawl, the fact of the matter is that you still lost.” He continued, “So, yes, both myself and the championship committee feel that you are entitled to a rematch.” Hogan quickly responds, “Thank you, brother, finally you seem to be seeing things, Hollywood’s way.” Dillon responds, “Well, I wouldn’t necessarily say that, but as I said, you will receive a rematch against Sting for the WCW title, but it won’t be tonight. It will be on March 15 in Mobile, Alabama, at our most wild pay per view of the year, “Uncensored.” Rubbing his chin and quickly consulting Bischoff and Savage, Hogan seems ok with the offering, noting, “That will work, you see, J.J., brother, the nWo isn’t so bad as everyone says, we just want what we have coming to us and if we get what is rightfully ours, then actually we are a bunch of real stand up guys, you know.” Dillon again responds, “Now hold on Hulk, I am glad to hear you say that, because at Uncensored, there is a tradition of stipulations being involved in the matches and March 15 will be no exception. You see, you said that you are stand up guys and just want what you have got coming to you, and I can relate to that, as can a lot of the other guys around WCW feel that way, too.” Dillon adds, “So, at Uncensored, on the heels of last night’s title match you will face Sting, but you will face him in a fatal four way elimination match that will include not only Sting and yourself, but also Bret “The Hitman” Hart.” Hogan again jumps in, “Wait, what? Well, you know what, if Hollywood has to represent the nWo and beat up that no good Sting and that lousy, coward, Bret Hart to bring the gold back home, that’s just fine by me. So, who do you have as the fourth man, brother?” Answering as Hogan, Bischoff, and Savage leaned anxiously on the top rope for the name, Dillon fired back, “Well, I figure since the nWo ‘just wants what they have coming to them,’ and seeing how we are being all friendly here, that the fourth man in the title match at Uncensored will be “Macho Man” Randy Savage.” As a sly grin came over Savage’s face and Hogan and Bischoff both saw their expressions go from confused to worried, Dillon simply turned around and walked off into the back.
After the break, we are shown footage of Hogan and Savage in the back, with Hogan telling “Macho” that he should step aside and “wait his turn.” Savage was arguing that “it is my turn, bro, you blew it twice already.” Just as it continued to heat up, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash intervened and helped cooler heads to prevail by reminding the former “Mega-Powers” of their “plan” for the night.
Back in the ring, Bischoff remained, where he shook off Dillon’s announcement and introduced the crowd to the newest member of the New World Order, Scott Steiner. He praised Steiner for losing the “dead weight that kept him down all the years,” referring to his brother, Rick. Eric then welcomed Ted DiBiase back to the nWo and informed us that he would be immediately joining Bobby Heenan in the commentary booth on Nitro and that he himself would be the third member of the announce team. DiBiase walked out and joined Heenan, but before Bischoff and Steiner could leave, Rick Steiner charged the ring to try and get at his brother. His attempt was thwarted though, as Konnan and Scott Norton attacked him from behind, with Hogan, Savage, and the Outsiders following closely behind. After K-Dog and Norton laid the “Dogfaced Gremlin” to waste, they turned to celebrate with their four “brothers” that were behind them, only to be dropped from behind with a series of chairshots by Scott Steiner. Hogan, Savage, Hall, Nash, and Steiner destroyed Konnan and Norton, tearing their nWo colors off in a symbolic gesture of kicking them out of the group, before spray-painting “2 Sweet” on each of their exposed backs. Fellow nWo member, Buff Bagwell was shown witnessing this on the monitor in the back, shaking his head in disbelief and disgust. Vincent also looked on and when Bagwell questioned the move, Vincent noted, “Hey man, chill out, it’s whatever Hollywood wants. I’m just happy we got Ted back, man.” Bagwell looked at him and simply walked away.
Again, the nWo seemingly struck coming out of the break, as we saw a brief shot in a conference room in the back of the arena of medical personnel tending to WCW Thunder Commissioner, Larry Zybysko. The EMT’s were stabilizing the neck of Zybysko and loading him on a stretcher from an apparent assault that went unseen. The next segment then began with the Outsiders hitting the ring to the classic nWo theme music. Following the obligatory “Hey Yo” and “survey” by Hall and Nash’s declaration that the “Outsiders are in the house,” the two spoke sarcastically about pulling off the plan to break up the Steiners and discussed how they have dominated the tag team ranks in WCW since arriving in June of 1996. Nash asked, “Where is all the competition, where are these so-called ‘big boys?’” They also pointed out that since the nWo had taken over Nitro that they have had some problems with in the group, going on to say, “In case you haven’t noticed, it has been all black and white out here tonight, and that is how it is gonna stay.” Just as they said this, J.J. Dillon again came to the ramp and addressed the two, who mocked and made fun of him the entire time he spoke. “Well, Hall and Nash, I would agree, you have dominated the tag ranks and have been darned impressive in doing so. So, while I cannot do much on the nWo’s program, Nitro, I have come up with a solution so you two don’t have to be so untested around here on WCW’s show, Thunder. Starting this week, there will begin an eight team tournament, to decide the number one contenders to your titles. Heck, just to be fair, I will let you thugs in the nWo even submit one team to compete in the field of eight. The tournament will culminate at Uncensored, with the finals to take place as the first match on the card at that event. The team that emerges as the number one contenders, will then go on to face the two of you later that night for the WCW World Tag Team championships.” Dillon began to back away, as Hall and Nash wagged their fingers in jest as though they were scared and Hall threw out a parting shot, quipping, “Hey, J.J., tell your number one contenders from, uh- ‘Dubya-Cee-Dubya’, that at Uncensored, we will meet them ‘down there.’” Taking Hall’s bait completely Dillon asked, “Down where?” which the Outsiders in stereo responded as they laughed aloud and gave a crotch chop, “Down there.” Just before break, we see Vincent again backstage, putting on his old sleeveless tuxedo get up that he used to wear when he was known as Virgil, the valet for Ted DiBiase in the WWF, looking in the mirror and voicing his excitement. “Ted is gonna be so glad to see me.”
After the break, Vincent came out to the nWo theme music and approached the announce position. He immediately went to DiBiase, who gave him a handshake before Vincent embraced him tightly. DiBiase grimaced and squirmed off before a big smile came across his face and he pulled out a wad of cash. “It will be me and you again, Vincent, just like old times,” he said as Vincent looked as though he may salivate over the cash. “Happy days are here again,” DiBiase continued as he pulled off one of his loafers and gave his patented evil cackle. “Now for old times, Vincent, get on your knees and shine my shoes,” he ordered. Vincent was ever too happy to do so, hopping down and spit shining the expensive Italian model shoe. He was so happy that he didn’t hear or see Hogan, Savage, Hall, Nash, or Steiner as they walked out behind him. As he finished the first shoe, he looked up adoringly at DiBiase, reaching out for the second shoe. Instead of handing him it though, DiBiase belted him across his face with it, as the rest of the crew, Bischoff and Heenan at the broadcast table included heartily laughed. The five members behind Vincent then worked him over and much like Konnan and Norton earlier, they tore his clothes off and “tagged” him on his back with spray paint, “nWo 4 life,” before DiBiase leaned over and stuffed a one hundred dollar bill down his throat. Again, these actions were shown being watched by an even more disgusted Bagwell in the back, who shook his head and walked away, rolling his suitcase behind him as he headed out of the building, saying, “Unbelievable, these guys are unbelievable.”
In the final segment of the show, Heenan was again left alone at the commentary position, as DiBiase and Bischoff joined Hogan, Savage, Hall, Nash, and Steiner as they revealed exactly what had played out during the duration of the show. “Big Sexy told you we were gonna trim the fat, brother, and that’s exactly what went down here tonight, my nWo-ites,” Hogan explained as his cronies cheered him on. “This right here is the elite, a killing machine, brah, and once again, the New World Order is back on the same page and regaining focus without the ham and eggers and the losers like K-Dog, and big, fat Norton, and that piece of garbage Vincent, man.” The group in the ring was having a blast, yukking it up as Hogan continued. “We have the money man back on board in Trillionaire Ted DiBiase, we have the brains behind the outfit with Easy-E, we have the ‘Madness’ runnin’ on all cylinders with the ‘Macho Man,’ and the brothers who started it all, my main dudes, Hall and Nash are always just too sweet,” Hogan continued before Hall leaned in quickly to say, “He is right, you can’t argue that we’re sweet.” “Plus, in addition to the future of the nWo that we just added, the newest member of the brotherhood, Scotty Steiner, we always have the ‘Babe Ruth of Wrestling,’ the man that is the reason that all you nine to five, nickel and dime, pieces of trash are here tonight, Hollywood, leading the way back to the top when I beat up that clown face, Stinger and that big baby, Bret Hart and bring our belt back, brother, they will know (points to the palm of his hand) that this, brother, is where the power lies.” Preparing to deliver his conclusion, Hulk went on, “So, everybody here in Sacramento knows, and everyone in the brotherhood knows, and even maybe a new member of the brotherhood that Hollywood has tucked in his back pocket to show you all real soon, he even knows, that when you are running with the black and white of the nWo, you are nWo for life.” Just as Hogan delivered these words though, the arena again went to black. When the lights came back on, Sting stood alone in the center of the ring with his bat, as the entire nWo stepped away and out of the ring at Hogan’s request. Up the aisle, Bret Hart came through the curtain and headed toward the ring as well. The nWo parted, again at Hogan’s behest, letting the “Hitman” by and moving as a group up the ramp as Bret walked to the apron. Just as he entered the ring though, the lights again shut off, but this time they flickered a bit and some commotion could be seen in the ring. When the flickering came back on, the nWo remained unmoved on the ramp, but both Sting and Hart lay motionless in the ring. After the confusion factor wore off in a few seconds, the group returned to the ring and spray painted both the champion and Bret’s backs, before posing for the camera and having a few more laughs. Getting directly in the camera before the show ended, Hogan explained, “I told you the new member of the brotherhood was for life, ha ha ha.”
WCW Thunder- February 26, 1998- Cedar Rapids, IA
Thunder came on the air and opened with Bret Hart and his “Family” coming to the ring. Bret first gloated about again outsmarting Ric Flair and telling the “Nature Boy” that, “I will always be one step ahead of you, Ric. As for you and your lame little nostalgia trip with the Horsemen, I am done with it and on to bigger and better things. Things that you might remember if you are not too old and senile, like the WCW World Championship.” Bret continued, “You can cheap shot everyone in the locker room, Flair, but the fact of the matter is, just like I said, you couldn’t ‘beat the man,’ so now you can go right back to where a fossil like you belongs, in the middle of the card, jumping up and down and ripping your clothes off talking about guys that haven’t set foot in a ring in ten years.” Moving on, Bret focused on his upcoming title match and the events at the end of Nitro. “Hulk Hogan and his band of thugs can shut the lights off, and so can Sting for all I care. You can jump me and beat me down, but the “Hitman” just keeps coming for more. I came to WCW to rise to the top and here at Uncensored is my chance.” He concluded, “I have the big “Anvil,” the great Curt Hennig, ‘Ravishing’ Rick Rude, and now another old friend that can flat out ‘crush’ his opponents, Brian Adams, and our “family” is just gonna keep growing and getting bigger, especially when the “Excellence of Execution” brings home the belt on March 15 in Mobile.” Before signing off, Bret remembered to add, “Oh yeah, and Hollywood Hogan wants to talk about his ‘new member’ and all that nonsense, but I have got a warning for Hollywood Hogan, the nWo, Sting, the Horsemen, and anyone else around here and that is this; just like I was a step ahead of Ric Flair, I am a step ahead of all of you, too. So, Hogan, have your mystery lackey jump me all you like, because the next addition to the “Family” is coming soon and he is way more than any of you will be able to handle.”
After the break, Booker T. was scheduled to defend his TV title against Fit Finlay, when just as his music hit; he was attacked from behind by Lex Luger and Arn Anderson once again. Beating him out onto the ramp, the two Horsemen, dressed in jeans and golf shirts, pummeled Booker out on to the ramp, before Double A held his arms back, while Luger removed his belt and lashed him repeatedly leaving huge welts across his torso and back. With him unable to compete, Finlay took the microphone and said he came to Cedar Rapids for a fight and he wasn’t leaving until he got one. The arena erupted when Bill Goldberg answered the bell, and came out and overpowered the Irish tough man. Goldberg absorbed early punishment from Finlay and the put on a power display leading up to an explosive spear. Scooping Finlay up for the Jackhammer though, Goldberg had his first serious taste of a beat down, when “Lord” Steven Regal came from the back and attacked. Goldberg fought the attacker off at first, but once Finlay came two, the pair of legitimate tough guy Europeans left the upstart phenom laying after a brutal double team effort.
Next up, J.J. Dillon hit the ring and laid out several big announcements, starting with the naming of the first two tag team tournament matches for tonight’s show as each squad vied to become the number one contender. He announced that in the first match, the British Bulldog and Chris Benoit would battle Meng and the Barbarian, while match two of the first round would pit Alex Wright and Disco Inferno versus Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart and Brian Adams. He went on to name the final first round bouts for the following weeks program as Kidman and Reese from Raven’s Flock against whomever the nWo decided to enter as their team for the tourney and Public Enemy against Rick Steiner and any partner of his choosing. Moving along, Dillon addressed the serious condition that Commissioner Zybysko was in, announcing that he would fill in for Larry until he was physically able to return to his duties. In an even more shocking revelation, Dillon notes that as a result of whatever had happened as the lights flickered in the final segment Monday on Nitro, WCW World Champion, Sting was severely injured as well and that his spot in the main event at Uncensored is in jeopardy. He adds that if Sting cannot appear at the pay per view, that while it would be disappointing, a champion is given 30 days in which they have to defend their title before being stripped of it, thus with the Stinger making a defense at SuperBrawl, he would still have one week following uncensored in which to make said defense before being forced to vacate. He further explains that in the case of Sting not competing, the main event would be changed to a triple threat match between Hart, Hogan, and Savage, with the winner receiving their shot at the gold upon Sting’s return. J.J. then informed the Cedar Rapids crowd that he had early had a talk backstage with Ric Flair, who demanded that he finally get his chance to settle unfinished business with Curt Hennig on tonight’s broadcast, noting that he cannot seem to get a fight with anyone that doesn’t see continuous outside interference. Thus, Dillon books the main event for the show to see Flair and Hennig go one on one in a steel cage match, adding that the winner of the bout will receive a shot at “Diamond” Dallas Page and the United States Championship at Uncensored. Lastly, the interim commissioner spoke once again of his “major development” regarding the war between WCW and the nWo, promising to have “big news” regarding this subject that he will announce to the fans at Uncensored on March 15.
The next portion of the show came back to see Raven sitting in the corner of the ring sulking, microphone in hand. “So, once again, I, Raven, am overlooked by the ‘old guard,’ like James J. Dillon here in WCW. Once again, after giving Dallas Page the fight of his life at SuperBrawl and being overlooked and swerved into not claiming my rightful spot as U.S. Champion, Raven gets pushed aside.” He continues, “Not for some young up and comer, not for someone who has earned it, no, but for a guy who just can’t let go, for a guy who had his day, but just can’t give up the limelight, for a guy that after a grueling match at SuperBrawl, sicked his goon squad on me after calling me ‘nothing more than a stunt man, for a guy named “Nature Boy” Ric Flair.” Raven, still rocking back and forth seated against the buckle went on, “Ric Flair is what’s wrong with this business today. Ric Flair likes to say he sweats, and he bleeds, and he pays the price of a wrestling lifetime, but I ask all of you, what price has Ric Flair ever actually paid? He pays a big price for his clothing, he pays a big price for his limousines and his jet airplanes, he pays a big price to ‘style and profile’ with his lady friends, but Ric Flair pays no price in today’s wrestling business. He rests his laurels on past glory and past triumphs and you know who pays the price? It’s hard working guys like me that pay the price for the so called legends like Ric Flair. I say, what about me? What about Raven? Not what about Ric Flair. So, I suppose it is just like my childhood, when I was overlooked and neglected by my parents, with the role of my parents now being played by the WCW front office and guys like Dallas Page and Ric Flair.” Ending his promo, Raven said, “Well, here is an epiphany for Page, for Flair, and WCW brass, you are not my parents, and I am no longer a child, quote the Raven, nevermore.”
This was followed by the first match in the tag team tournament, which saw the team of the Bulldog and Benoit defeat The Faces of Fear, when Davey Boy scored with his running powerslam on the Barbarian before tagging in Benoit for his patented flying headbutt for the three count. Next up, we go to “Mean” Gene Okerlund with Rick Steiner in the back. Okerlund inquires as to who Steiner will choose as his partner for next week’s tournament bout, and just as he does, Buff Bagwell walks into the shot. “Rick, I know you have no reason at this point to trust me, man. But you and I have known each other a long time.” Bagwell continued as Steiner looked on suspectingly. “I am sick and tired of taking the low road and if anyone around here knows what it takes to be a tag team champion, it is me. So, all I am asking is a chance at redemption, a chance to prove myself to you and to WCW, and a chance to stick it to those thugs that I was brainwashed by in the New World Order.” After looking him up and down, Steiner, nodded and offered his hand. “Marcus,” he said, “it is good to have you back on our side, my man. Everyone deserves a second chance, and with you in my corner, we can do this thing and get our hands on those punks Hall and Nash.” The nWo looks on in sheer disbelief in a split screen shot of the group looking at a monitor, swearing that Bagwell will pay for leaving the group.
“Self Hi-Five” is heard over the house system next, as U.S. Champion, Dallas Page hits the ring and quickly disposes of “Gentleman” Chris Adams with a diamond cutter before grabbing a microphone. “Ric Flair, you and your boys want to keep jumping on DDP?” he asks. “Well, how about you grow a set and climb down off that old creaky and crusty “Space Mountain” and come at me face to face like a real man?” Page goes on, “I hope, no, I pray that you get past Hennig tonight, because there won’t be any Horsemen that can save you if it is me and you at Uncensored, and when that goes down “Nature Boy,” you will feel the bang.” Page leaves the ring and after a quick break, the second tag tournament match is next and the “Family” duo of Jim Neidhart and Brian Adams get the nod over Disco Inferno and Alex Wright when the former Crush hits a full nelson choke slam on Disco for the win.
The cruiserweight champion, Chris Jericho is next. Jericho refers to himself as the most dominant champion in the division’s history, noting that he will not stop at anything less than ridding WCW of all these “Mexican jumping beans and Speedy Gonzales types.” Taking offense to the comment, Juventud Guerrera appears, minus the mask he lost at SuperBrawl and challenges Jericho. The “Ayatollah of Rock and Rolla” agrees and then Juvi asks to up the stakes, reaching under the ring and retrieving a ladder. In very broken English, Juvi suggests they put the Cruiserweight belt and his mask high above the ring and have a ladder match. Jericho agrees under the condition that if he wins, neither Juvi nor any other masked wrestler will receive a title shot so long as he is still the reigning champion. The two agree on the stipulation and after a spectacular bout, Jericho’s roll continues as he climbs to the top rungs and snatches his belt and the mask. Adding insult to injury, the champ leaves the ringside area wearing the luchadores mask, looking extremely proud of his accomplishment.
The 13-time World Champion, Ric Flair is the next to come to the ring. He enters the ring as the cage lowers from above him for the main event, first addressing the “Hitman,” saying, “Bret Hart, you wanna think you are one step ahead of the “Nature Boy” and that you are finished with me and the Horsemen? Well here is a newsflash, pal, you ain’t done with Ric Flair or the Horsemen until we say you are, pal, so, woooo, whether you like it or you don’t, woooo, you are going to have to learn to deal with it.” Switching his focus, Flair speaks on the promos directed at him by Raven and Dallas Page earlier in the night. “Raven, who in the hell do you think you are, pal? Do you know who I am? I am Ric Flair, dammit, and wooooo, I am a wrestling god. You say Ric Flair never paid the price? Let me tell you what you snot nosed punk, you wouldn’t even know what paying the price is stunt man. Woooo.” Lastly he gets very personal with Page, telling him he will never be in his league before actually speaking towards the man’s wife, Kimberly. “Oh, DDP, woooo, you wanted to talk ‘Space Mountain’ pal, well tell that fine old lady of yours that anytime she wants to come on over and see why it may be one of the oldest rides in the park, but, woooo, it’s still got the longest line, all she has to do is ask, and woooo, Cedar Rapids, Iowa knows it, brother.”
Curt Hennig then comes to the ring with Rick Rude for the cage match. Very noticeable upon it being set up around the ring is that there is a top on the cage, again at Flair’s request, so there can be no interference. Flair and Hennig have a great match as both give their all in hopes for the U.S. Title match at Uncensored. As the see-saw battle reaches the fifteen minute mark, both wrestlers lay bloodied and beaten on the mat, when DDP appears through the crowd with Kimberly at his side. Before he can even see them coming though, Raven comes to ringside and approaches Page, distracting him long enough that Saturn and Reese can sneak behind him and introduce his face to the steel. As the beat down continues on the U.S. titlist, Kimberly pleads the two to stop, as Raven pulls what appears to be a set of wire cutters from his denim jacket. He uses them to cut through the cage, as the remainder of the Flock introduces Rude face first to the mesh. Once sliced open, the group enters, with Raven stalking the still groggy Flair and Hennig and Saturn and Reese dragging Kimberly Page into the ring, too. A split shot shows several men downed in the back, once again with no attacker in site. On closer observance, the four men are the remaining Horsemen that have been jumped, leaving Flair to fend for himself. As Raven stands over Flair, he thrusts his arms out in his classic pose, before producing two sets of handcuffs he gives to Kidman and Lodi. He scoops Flair up and spikes him with the “Evenflow” DDT and then the two Flock members pull his limp body to the cage and cuff him to the side, arms outstretched, leaving him completely defenseless. Hennig then gets the same. An Evenflow, followed by being cuffed by two more sets of cuffs that Raven pulls out. Page has slowly recovered from his beating and upon seeing his wife being manhandled charges the scene in the ring. He puts up a valiant fight, but in the end the result is the same once again, an “Evenflow” before being “locked up.” Just before the show is to go off the air, as if the situation could get any more personal, after each of the three cuffed men were treated to a vicious undefended chair shot to the head, Raven places the chair on the mat and looks Page in his semi-conscious face before he yanks his hapless wife from the clutches of Saturn and disturbingly bounces her skull of the steel with yet another DDT as DDP screams out in a combination of horror and rage.
In the weeks to follow on Thunder, almost every segment on this program wound up having a huge impact in shaping the star studded card for Uncensored. Interim commissioner, J.J. Dillon was extremely busy making matches for the March 15 pay per view. After Booker T. had a run in once again that resulted in his being whipped with a leather strap courtesy of Lex Luger on the following weeks Thunder in Columbus, Ohio, Dillon had a World Television Title ‘Strap Match’ booked between the two and scheduled for Uncensored. Also added to the lineup was a Ladder Match for the Cruiserweight title between Chris Jericho and Eddie Guerrero. Guerrero earned the bout and won the right to name the stipulation after defeating Jericho both in Columbus and again Baton Rouge, Louisiana on the March 12 Thunder in non-title matches forced upon by Jericho insisting Guerrero had to earn the actual crack at the belt. Bill Goldberg sought revenge and got it, destroying Steven Regal on Nitro on March 2 and then Finlay on Monday the 9th. The crafty duo, got to an unsuspecting Goldberg again on the March 12 Thunder, jumping him in the parking garage, prompting Dillon to grant Goldberg his wish and put him in a two on one handicapped match versus the two in Mobile. In the tag team tournament, the nWo played their “international” wild card, surprising the competition by entering Masahiro Chono and the Great Muta as their team and they easily got past Kidman and Reese. The new team of Rick Steiner and Buff Bagwell were very impressive in defeating Public Enemy to wrap up the first round. In the semifinals, Bulldog and Benoit earned a spot in the finals by winning a hard fought contest over Neidhart and Adams, while their opponent at Uncensored would be Steiner and Bagwell, who won in a thrilling bout against Chono and Muta.
Since it had been confirmed that World Champion, Sting would be unavailable to compete at Uncensored, that match was changed as early planned by Dillon to be a triple threat number one contender’s match between Hollywood Hogan, Randy Savage and Bret “The Hitman” Hart. Immediately after revealing this news to a disappointed Columbus crowd, Dillon explained that their “would however still be a fatal four way championship match at Uncensored, and this one will put all four men in a steel cage.” He went on to tell how United States Champ, Dallas Page, Curt Hennig, and Ric Flair each suffered minor concussions from the handcuffing incident and that in spite of the danger and great risk of them returning to compete in a “Fatal Four Way Cage Match” with Raven being the fourth man and drawing up a contract which he described as being a “Raven’s Rules Contract” for the bout at Uncensored, all parties signed to compete at the event just for a chance to get even with the Flock’s front man. Neither Page, Hennig, nor Flair appeared in any capacity on the two weeks of TV before the pay per view outside of replays of the ending of the Thunder mauling they received in Cedar Rapids. On the contrary, Raven was very visible, almost gloating as he philosophized on the ins and outs of his “master plan playing out just as he’d envisioned it.” As if any more gas needed to be poured on the fire that was certain to ignite once these four climbed into the cage, Raven also continually made dark and inappropriate passes at Kimberly Page, referring to her as his “soul mate” and his “Raveness.”
As for the New World Order and “their show” Monday Nitro, they continued to load the show heavily with themselves leading up to Uncensored. Maybe the most impressive performer of all was Scott Steiner, as he showed a mean streak not seen before in the former collegiate star. Sporting his new bleached, short haircut and a blonde goatee save for a strip of black down the middle, Steiner dominated Norman Smiley on the March 2 program and annihilated Steve McMichael on March 9, making quick work of both, forcing them each to tap out to a new version of the camel clutch he had begun using and calling the “Steiner Recliner.” Seconded by DiBiase for all of his bouts, Steiner had also developed quite the edgy persona on the stick, almost a tip of the cap to the legendary “Superstar” Billy Graham, but turned up several notches and far more graphic and jaw dropping in his delivery. Steiner seemed to zero in on Bagwell in his promos, telling the former nWo member that in leaving the group he “had made the biggest mistake in his life since he stopped stripping as a male dancer for all the fancy boy queers.” Pushing to get the new member some major attention, Steiner was signed to face Perry Saturn at Uncensored in a submission match, as J.J. Dillon answered an open challenge made by he and DiBiase after his win on the March 9 Nitro in Winston-Salem, entering Saturn into the contest. Hogan and Savage’s relationship remained shaky, as Hulk was insistent that the two were “thick as thieves, dude,” but Savage was quick to fly off the handle at Hogan suggesting he would “fall in line.” But, the two coexisted with the urging of Hall, Nash, and Bischoff. Hogan continued throughout the weeks leading to the pay per view to hint at the “newest member of the brotherhood,” and claimed that attacks that saw Bagwell, Hart, and Sting laid out on both the Philly and Winston-Salem shows were the result of this unnamed member, “earning his colors, brother.” Additionally, Hogan let the cat out of the bag that it was supposedly this “new member” that had viciously put WCW Thunder Commissioner, Larry Zybysko on the shelf in the aforementioned unseen incident at the Nitro from Sacramento. “Looks like that old, washed up, flabby Zybysko should’ve stuck to golfing over at ‘Larry Land,’ and left the work around here to the real men like Hollywood and Easy-E, brother,” gushed Hogan with a childlike Bischoff rooting him on as he spoke of the attack. Hall and Nash were their usual dominant selves on the nWo show. This was in part to the quality of their opponents, as they squashed Mike Enos and Wayne Bloom on the 2nd and then ran roughshod over Barry Horrowitz and the Renegade on the following broadcast. They, like Steiner, gave warning to Bagwell also, with Nash telling Buff, “We took you from being an ‘American Male’ and made you a star, and you walk out on all this?” Hall chimed in, “Hey, Buff Daddy, when we said for life, we meant it, chico. Now, you wanna run with Ricky Einsteiner? Bad move, man. If you two clowns somehow get through to face us at Uncensored, the Outsiders are gonna carve you up.”
Immediately following Thunder on March 12, Bret Hart was leaving the building in Baton Rouge, when the façade of positive energy he had seen since coming to WCW was for one of the first times exposed as not entirely real as he strolled past Eric Bischoff’s office and overheard the boss on his phone. “Screw these guys,” Bischoff hollered into the receiver. “I am the boss here and they will get in line. You know what, they want to play their little power trip games, I will be happy to show them who has the power.” He continued to shout, “Get that paper work done up on their little buddy. I don’t care what is wrong with him, he is easily replaceable and his ass is gone. We will see who has the power then.” Bret strode away, realizing what he had just heard and before he reached the exit, the door from the office he heard Bischoff in creaked open and Hulk Hogan walked out, “Hey, “Hitman,” see you in Mobile, brother. Keep up the great work, dude,” encouraged Hogan as Bret simply shook his head at the fact that Hogan would be standing by as such a conversation took place.
Fast forwarding a few days, Bret’s awakening to the cut throat environment he had been warned about at WCW prior to arriving continued to slowly rear its ugly head on the night before Uncensored when he checked into his hotel room in Mobile. With the word circulating that Bret was somewhat of a “man that could get things done” creatively within the company, his hotel suite was a literal revolving door of huge egos and superstars dropping in under the phony guise of saying hello and then systematically trying to bury others with in the company subliminally during their visit. Not surprisingly, Hogan was one of said visitors on the eve of Uncensored, as were Flair and Luger amongst several other random “well-wishers.” As the parade of talent finally stopped just before 11 p.m., Bret laid his head down to sleep and couldn’t help thinking that maybe this place was not exactly what it had appeared to be in his first few months on the new job. It was also at this point that for the first time in a while he pondered when he may hear back for Vince in some capacity, either personally or through his aforementioned liaison.
Uncensored- March 15, 1998- Mobile, AL
Uncensored came on the air and started right up with the finals of the Number One Contender Tag Team Tournament. The two teams vying for the title shot, British Bulldog and Chris Benoit as well as Rick Steiner and Buff Bagwell put on a clinic in tag team wrestling to open the show. In the end, Bagwell and Steiner earned the title shot for later in the night, when the Outsiders appeared on the ramp, distracting the official, Bagwell and Bulldog on the apron, while Steiner and Benoit battled on the floor on the far side. While the distraction went on, Masahiro Chono and the Great Muta came through the crowd, with Muta spitting a black mist in the eyes of Benoit before turning and disappearing through the masses, leaving him stumbling around blindly as a torn Steiner rolled back into the ring as the referee returned and counted the vision impaired Benoit out of the ring.
Next up, we saw an interview with Chris Jericho, in which he donned the mask of Juventud Guerrera and called himself, “El Grande Jericho.” He made fun of the rich history of lucha libre and claimed, “there isn’t a Mexican in the world, past present, or future that can match up to the power of El Grande Jericho, and after tonight, they will never, e-e-e-ver, receive at shot at my Cruiserweight title, again.” He then tore the mask off, threw it on the ground and spat on it before heading to the ring.
In the Cruiserweight Championship Ladder Match though, it was Eddie Guerrero who was victorious, defeating Jericho to become the new champ. It appeared Jericho would again get the win thanks to some underhanded tactics, when confusingly, “El Grande Jericho” appeared and knocked him off the ladder, before helping Eddie up when a frogsplash did Jericho in and allowed for the ladder to be climbed. After Eddie snatched the strap, the man wearing the Juvi mask as “El Grande Jericho,” removed the hood to reveal himself as Konnan, and he celebrated the win with Guerrero after the bout.
Next came the two on one handicapped match, which saw Goldberg destroy Fit Finlay and Steven Regal. He finished the two off with a pair of spears and a pair of jackhammers to the delight of the Mobile crowd before stacking the two on top of each other for the three count. In another dominating performance, Scott Steiner manhandled Perry Saturn and got the win in the submission match, forcing the ex-ECW star to give up to his “Steiner Recliner.” The “Strap Match” followed, and saw the crowning of another new champion, as Lex Luger brought the World TV Title home to the Horsemen camp, dragging Booker T. to all four corners of the ring after receiving assistance from Arn Anderson and a tire iron to gain the win.
James J. Dillon, then hit the ring and before giving his big announcement, he introduced the returning Commissioner of WCW Thunder, Larry Zybysko. He informed the audience that after carefully revisiting the contract from the Starrcade match between Zybysko and Eric Bischoff that gave the nWo control of Nitro, the WCW legal team discovered a loop hole that allows the company to get one rematch and a chance to win the show back. He goes on to say that Zybysko will be allowed to pick any WCW competitor to represent the company in this bout that will take place at the May pay per view offering, Slamboree. He continues to say that Bischoff will also be allowed to choose any nWo competitor for the big showdown, before thanking the audience for their time and joining Zybysko in heading toward the back.
The four way cage match for the United States Title was next, as a huge cage reminiscing of the ones used in the WWF for “Hell in a Cell” matches dropped from the ceiling and surrounded the ring. The bout was as expected, a bloody, brutal affair that saw each man hit their finishing maneuver at some point to nearly secure the win though. In the end though, it was a situation very similar to the ending of the Hennig/Flair Thunder cage match, as Raven produced a sledgehammer from under the ring and bashed in the brains of Flair and Hennig, handcuffing the two to the cage once again after leaving the two unconscious. Turning his attention to a battered Page, Raven scored the win and the three count after a vicious shot to the face with the sledge hammer followed by an “Evenflow” DDT on to the steel head of the hammer to claim the U.S. Title. After the pin, Raven produced a copy of the “Raven’s Rules” contract he drew up and read the fine print, shocking everyone, especially a horrified Kimberly Page, when he revealed not only that whomever was pinned in the bout, in this case, DDP, would be suspended from any in ring action for 30days. Even more stunning, he went on to read that in addition to winning the U.S. Title, that the winner of the bout would obtain the “services” of Kimberly Page for the same 30 day period. A mortified Kimberly reluctantly left the ringside area as Raven held her by the arm, with the other three competitors still left injured in the ring.
The World Tag Team title match came next and in yet another classic nWo swerve job, the Outsiders retained the belts against Rick Steiner and Buff Bagwell. Just as had happened to Steiner a month before at SuperBrawl, he saw his partner, Bagwell, in this case, turn his back on him in the heat of battle. Once again, Scott Steiner and Ted DiBiase emerged at ringside, when it seemed Rick was about to win the match. DiBiase again hit the apron and fanned a fistful of cash, drawing Steiner’s attention away from the action momentarily. When he turned back around it was DiBiase’s evil cackle again as the background noise, as Bagwell hit the turning Steiner with his “Buff Blockbuster, “ before feeding him to Hall for an “Outsiders Edge” and a three count. Hall, Nash, Bagwell, Scott Steiner and DiBiase celebrated after the swerve played out, pummeling Rick Steiner before leaving together as a unit.
In the main event of the evening, three of the biggest stars of their respective eras did battle to see who would be the next in line to face the injured Sting when he returns for the WCW Championship. The bout played up with many surprising twists and turns as at first it was Savage that it appeared would earn the win, before Hogan then took the upperhand and nearly secured the win. Valiantly fighting back though, Bret interrupted a Hogan pin attempt on “Macho Man” after a big legdrop, dropping an elbow on the Hulkster’s head at the count of two, stunning him long enough that he could dispose over Savage to the floor and twist Hollywood into the sharpshooter. Just when it seemed Hogan could hold on no longer, the lights again went to black. When they came back on, both Hogan and Hart lay motionless in the ring, as a surprised, but opportunistic Savage had returned and stood in the ring, looking at both fallen opponents and staring across the ring at the man who obviously had been responsible for all of these recent attacks, the Giant. Not asking any questions, Savage climbed to the top and hit his flying elbow on Hogan as the Giant walked away and scored the victory, making the “Macho Man” the new number one contender to the World Championship. The show went off the air as Savage celebrated, the Giant lumbered to the back, and lastly we saw the silent World Champion, Sting staring down at what had just transpired from his “perch” in the rafters.
Following the pay per view, Bret and the Giant exchanged pleasantries quick backstage before the “Hitman” bee-lined it for his hotel. Upon his arrival his suite, he was caught a bit off guard when his phone rang and on the other end was an exaggerated southern drawl that he hadn’t heard in some time. “Hey there, Bret. How are things down there in Turner land,” the caller asked. “Hell of a good show you guys had actually tonight, a lot of promising young talent down there.” Bret answered, “Yeah, there sure is. Things are ok, but I am starting to see some of the politics that I was warned about, I could see where it can be ugly at times here.” “You’re just seeing that now, hell, that surprises the heck out of me, that damn Bischoff he is out for one person, himself, and he is crazier than a pet coon to boot, “ fired back the caller. Bret returned the pleasantry, “How are you doing, how are things back North?” to which the response came, “Well, look at what thanks I get for all I’ve done in this business. I’m calling you and sneaking around doing the bosses’ bidding for him. Some thanks there, huh?”
The conversation then moved to the business at hand once the old acquaintances finished catching up. “So, what do you have for me,” Bret wondered. “ Well,” he was answered, “ I really can’t wait to see Bret Hart battle a great
talent like Sting or “Macho,” and we all know there is a big pay day waiting with you and Hogan at some point, hell, I saw that match with you and Ric back a few months ago, man that was great stuff. Makes me sick to my stomach, with the direction our show is heading.” Continuing, he added, “They have given more and more power to the damn writers and they just keep pushing it and pushing it.” “Yeah, I’ve seen, I won’t even let my kids watch you’re show anymore,” Bret said matter of factly. The “voice from up North” then got to the point, “Bret the real reason I’m calling is they wanted me to tell you there is kind of a change in plans. We still think moving on the Stings and Hogan’s play their role, but everyone here really has their eye on things working best if the focus and whole pay off moves its focus around another big stud that we have all been impressed with.” “Okay,” Bret said, “ I sort of thought that may happen, I am following you 100 percent, Davey kind of told me things may be looking that way, way back when he showed up.” “Exactly,” was the response, “so a slow build toward that should probably be the next step.” “Sounds good,” Bret agreed, “ I will get it to the table and we will talk again soon I hope. Give my best to everyone, and oh yeah, tell Vince from what I am pretty sure I overheard he is going to be getting his first migrator north in the form of a face you guys are already familiar with, it’s not even any of the guys we had tossed around, but should be a big spike to your roster,” Bret added. “Man, Eric doesn’t even realize his arrogance and ego is what is going to get the ball rolling in this area for you guys.
Signing off, the caller said, “I sure will say hi to the guys Bret, and I’ll relay the word to Vince, I’m sure he’ll be very pleased with that news. Hey, don’t let those damn sharks down there eat you alive, and know we sure miss the hell out of your great work up here. As, for the next call, I hope I am done having to slink around and do this. Nothing personal, but I have put too much time in to be dealing with this nonsense. Either way, take care my friend and best of luck.” “Goodbye, my friend,” answered Bret as they both hung up and the “Hitman” lay awake in bed pondering the new task at hand.
This marks the end of Part Three of this story. Looking to part four and heading toward Spring Stampede and Slamboree, we have a whole new slew of questions that need answering. What does the Giant’s interference at Uncensored say as to where exactly he stands in regards to the nWo or WCW? How does Hollywood Hogan deal with “Macho Man” being next in line for a World Title shot? What will the “Hitman’s” response and follow up be after the surprise ending in the main event at Uncensored, and how does he still fit into the World Title picture? With a new U.S., TV, and Cruiserweight Champion, how does the landscape surrounding these titles change? Who will represent WCW and the New World Order in the huge rematch for Nitro at Slamboree, and off camera, what could possibly be the change in direction Bret was told about in his late night call from “up north?” No doubt, we will see these things begin to play out and many other twists and turns in the road moving along to the fourth part of our sequel as we slowly get one step closer to finding out, “What if Bret Hart left the WWF on “agreeable terms” in November of 1997 as he headed off to WCW?”