So, I was gonna put this in the Scott Hall Memorial thread, but decided not to for obvious reasons.
This is the last episode of Nitro in January 1999.
I chose it because the graphic on Peacock was of Hall and BamBam having their ladder match. I thought at some point there was a 3-way ladder match (for the taser) between Hall, BamBam, and Goldberg, but it turns out Hall just had individual ladder matches against both Goldberg and BamBam...this episode of Nitro turned out to be so much more, though.
Show opens with unseen backstage segment from the previous episode of Thunder. It's Virgil with the nWo B-team in their lockerroom and Virgil is saying he doesn't wanna be called Vincent anymore, he demands to be called "Vince!" from now on. No one is into it, not even Stevie Ray in his snazzy black-n-white pinstripe wrestling gear. (If you follow Virgil on IG, you probably know that he claims to have invented the Royal Rumble, among other things, so this segment kind of makes you wonder...he seems eerily confident that he's the one guy who can pull this ridiculous shit off and it makes it that much funnier to see today). As the dudes leave Vince alone, he goes to his locker, opens it up to reveal a glass of egg-yolks and two cartons of eggs stacked in the corner; although he tries to guzzle it, he fails and notices a hidden camera. We see nWo wolf-pac guys watching from their limo and shaking their heads as Virgil repeats, "hey guys, we're being filmed" to an empty locker room. Seriously gotta wonder who could have come up with this crap but Virgil, but it's already the coolest into a wrestling show that I can remember seeing. Even the sound of static feed from within the limo gives it an eery whats-really-going-on/who-would-do-this that makes Virgil's b-level acting actually intriguing.
Then, we cut to the arena and Mike Tenay is doing his best to refer to dude as Vince!, and it's obvious they were totally into this idea.
More great acting from the nWo B-team earlier in the day. Stevie Ray is concerned and Curt Hennig is saying he's been suspicious for months, hasn't been sporting colors for months. Stevie Ray turns to the dudes (Norton, Adams, and Horace) and says he's going to the Black-and-Red and give em a piece of his mind. "What's with the $500 shirt?," quips Norton. This sets up the dramedy the nWo would bring to this episode of Nitro.
Next, another segment from a period we don't hear enough about these days: when Ric Flair was President of WCW. This episode he's forcing Bischoff to sell merchandise. Bischoff does his best to stay in character but at times, you can see it in his eyes that Flair is doing a great thing humiliating him the way he is. Wasn't 'Flair for President' a thing for a long time or was I dreaming?
Show intro happens and we see Scott Steiner's detestable harrassment of the Nitro Girls. I guess he and DDP were set to feud? I don't remember this, tbh.
More pyro and Schivaoni welcomes us to a 3-hour episode of Nitro.
Next we're in the parking lot and Stevie Ray insists that he's gonna do the talking to Hollywood, but it ends with a comment about his shirt...
First match is Disco Inferno vs Al Greene. Disco as nWo member was insufferable for me as a kid, but I now see that he actually made the transition from obnoxious to annoying and Disco in red-n-black is actually not so bad. He's still a curtain-jerker, but his dancing backed with confidence is really a sight to see.
At the airport with nWo B-team and they're bitching about the limo and their two Ford Tauruses as the jet/plane pulls in. Inside the jet/plane, they're discussing the B-team and Hollywood opens the door to a, "Let's take care of business," and Hall is saying it's time to "trim a little more fat"... Stevie Ray, who is waiting for them as they exit the plane, goes straight into sucking up to Nash and badmouthing Vincent ("someone needs to talk that guy~"). He then tears into concern about Curt, saying he tried to give him a rednblack shirt and a black-n-white shirt, and it was his own one shirt, that's why he wasn't sporting colors at the moment ("that's why I have this $500 shirt on right now, and you KNOW I don't wanna have it on out here!"). Dude is nearly in tears, it's great. Hollywood gives him a pat and the wolves take to motion as you can hear Hall repeating the phrase "trim a little fat" ... they approach the B-team in their Ford Tauruses and we see more excellence in the writing of this villianry. Hollywood walks between the two cars and says, "What's up? I thought this thing was for life?" ... all of a sudden, we hear Hennig says, "I got him! I got him!" from the backseat where from behind he's choking out Vincent in the passenger's seat. Steiner pulls Hennig out of the backseat while beating the shit out of him, and we see Hollywood with his arm around Vincent as Nash watches and smiles. Hall, Steiner, and Bagwell are kicking the shit out of Hennig behind the Taurus as Brian Adams says, "What's going on here? Curt's like a brother to us!" Nash tells him it's just business (I remember seeing this live; cannot erase this or those words from my memory). Adams immediately goes to hugging Hennig with one arm and delivering body shots with the other as the B-team joins in on the beatdown...Curt has a look of regret as he props himself up with the car, but he never leaves his feet. Gang life never seemed so real as Hogan finally throws in a "you ain't nothin'!" as he lifts a boot to Curt's midsection... they walk away talking shit, even about the rental-cars (Hall kicks a visible dent in one, saying "you got a dent in it now" as he smiles). Hogan says, "do me a favor, run over him," which seems to elicit a genuine laugh from himself...Hall gets the honor of entering the limo before Hogan. Damn straight... oh yeah, and Stevie Ray still has to ride in the Taurus ("get over, Vincent!...man, I thought I was riding with them guys! I don't ride in no Ford Tauruses! I'm tired of this B-team crap!")...
we're still just 18 minutes into the show.
We see the nWo (all of them except Disco?) walking through the backstage hall to their dressing room. They get in and Stevie Ray, the last to enter, has to change his shirt; Vincent had one for him, and he even gets a hug from Hollywood ("we're real proud of you"). Steiner gets to step up and be a jerk, "get rid of that shirt! It looks terrible!" Stevie Ray has to walk past everyone haranguing him to find room to change his shirt and finally Nash makes fun of his "$50 slacks" which prompts Hogan to say, "Liz! Rip the slacks off him, Liz!" Bagwell: "he's got his church-shoes on, too." Nash: "you're slackin'!"
Next, we see Bigelow carrying a ladder to the ring. Challenges Scott Hall to a ladder match for intefering in his feud with Goldberg. Bigelow makes cool references to electricity and being "extreme" ... nWo are seen making fun of Bigelow which is minor, except someone, I think Nash, quotes David Lynch's Elephant Man, sarcastically saying "I'm not an animal, I'm a human being" ... this is the greatest wrestling show on earth. It gets better.
Skeezy Bischoff rips a nice lady off from getting her proper change, claiming the only $20 he has is his own $20 in his pocket. Really Bischoff makes up for sucking the life out of wrestling by performing these acts of community service for President Flair. Really.
Flair does an in-ring interview with Mean Gene, announces the matches for tonight's card. It's Presidential Flair. The best possible Flair. He fuckin loves being the president. Oh what could have been in America, smh...
We see clips of Scott Hall falling on his ass after tasing both BamBam and a fallen Goldberg at Souled Out. Unbelievable violence...Disco and Hall come out carrying a ladder together. They set it up in the aisle and climb each side at the same time as the Never Turn Your Back in the Wolfpac hip-hop song plays. Hall answers the challenge from BamBam, claims to be more handsome than 10 moviestars, "don't sing it, bring it" ... BamBam comes out, still doesn't have entrance music. These two fought many years previously in WWF, so it's cool to see them again with different face/heel dynamics. Disco gets sent away for interfering (by old Billy Silverman!) Bam Bam throws the ladder on Hall when they were out in the aisle and it looks painful as fuck. It's not the heaviest ladder, but it flies even faster and you can see Hall needing a second to react. Bigelow does it again in the ring, this time while Hall is face up where the ladder gets dangerously close to hitting him in the head...Hall does a cool teeter-totter spot with the ladder, hitting Bam Bam when it starts getting scary for him. Hall raises the ladder high above his head and gets BamBam back for the earlier ladder throws. He forcefully almost slams the ladder onto BamBam's back and ribs, and rebounds off the ropes to stomp the ladder over Bigelow and it gave me a chuckle 'cause he did it so hard. Unfortunately we hit a commercial break just as Hall is slamming Bigelow's leg in the ladder...cool exchange happens when we return: BamBam returns a bodyslam, hits a diving headbutt from halfway up the ladder, but hurts himself in the process so Hall rises first, and does a Jeff Hardy style leg-drop on Bigelow's crotch, he proceeds to climb the ladder, but Bigelow grabs his leg, gets kicked down, and Hall immediately drops an elbow from up on the ladder. This entire exchange is so seemless, it's like watching kids wrestling with pillows rather than with uncooperative others. Hall again climbs the ladder but Bigelow brings him down with a back suplex. Hall dropkicks the ladder and Bigelow falls flat on his back from like 4-ft up. Hall crosses himself before climbing the ladder but for the second time, Bigelow lifts the ladder from underneath and Hall falls to the mat. In an awesome finish, Bigelow is able to grab the taser, but Hall is behind him with a low-blow. Bigelow still has the taser, but the low-blow gives Disco enough time to run out and give Hall a taser of his own. Disco's stupid ass backs up the aisle, cheering, only to turn around just in time to get a spear from Goldberg. Goldberg gets in the ring and double spears Hall and Bigelow, takes their tasers, and tases each of them until Scott Norton (Goldberg's opponent this night) knocks him down from behind. In a hilarious anecdot to close this part of the show, Norton pulls out Hall who is able to grab his taser and electrocute Goldberg through the ropes even though he can barely stand. Goldberg hardly sells the tasing and Chuck Norris can be seen clapping in the front row. This was another night when Goldberg had a weird scab on his forehead.
Mean Gene Okerland interviews Bret "The Hitman" Hart. It is the funniest interview Bret Hart ever did. Maybe the best comedic heel shit ever done on the mic. Bret claims to be a "jam-up guy", says Ric Flair has a grudge against him and that Booker T (who Flair scheduled him to face) is a loser. Mean Gene corrects him that Booker T is not a loser, and without skipping a beat, Bret averts his attention to the camera as he assures everyone "he's a looooser." Bret lays down some lines of intimidation for Booker T that are more to the point and hilarious than anything you hear these days. Some of it doesn't even make sense. This is, of course, the famous interview where Bret talks up El Dandy and Psicosis as worthy contenders for his U.S. Championship. This also cements Nitro as the greatest show ever. Fuck you. Bret Hart has a groin injury the likes of which Dean Malenko has never seen. We need this shit. Eternally relevant. It ends with a genuine, absolutely genuine, "whatever" from the Hitman. This is some hard-to-find greatness of the highest magnitude. January 25, 1999.
Next, there's a tag team tournament bout which Ric Flair said would be surrounded by WCW guys to ensure the nWo do nit interfere. So first we see Hippie Van Hammer and behind him Kenny Kaos is talking to Rey-Rey as Rey nods his head. Everyone is out there. Jerry Flynn, the luchadors, Chris Adams in a karate-gi. But it gets better. Match is Faces of Fear versus Finlay and Taylor. What is this? Christmas? We see clips of nWo tasing Meng the week before. Shit that will shake you to your core. These teams basically elbow and chop the shit out of eachother for a decent amount of time, but there are some highlights. Finlay has the edge over Barbarian to start, but Finlay is having trouble with Dungeon of Doom at ringside. Dave Taylor does a headscissor takeover on Meng, but he hangs in the air for a second and before flipping the big man. Really lets the match breathe. Meng stomps Taylor in the forehead with the heel of his boot. It's sick. Finlay hits a hard shoulder in the corner on Meng, but rather than hitting the midsection, it hits high on the ribs and sternum and looks incredibly stiff. Finlay gets Barbarian with some stiff clubs in the corner, so Barbarian hits him with an overhead palm strike to the forehead. Beautiful. I've always wondered about how much a diving headbutt really hurts, but there's no question when it comes to Meng and Barbarian doubling the move from opposite corners of the ring. Even if it's just from the middle rope, I don't ever want that ti happen to me. Match ends with a back body drop into a sitout powerbomb on Taylor, but it doesn't go so smoothly, so Barbarian has to power him up and land him HARD for the victory. I wonder if the fans in Dallas realized they were witnessing the birth of Christ this evening?
We see clips of young Chavo and Kidman against Adams and Horace. Kidman reverses a powerbomb into a facebuster. Wish you coulda seen it. I don't remember Adams wrestling without a top, or Stevie Ray in his pin-stripe gear, but Vincent using ghe slapjack is a great way to treat Kidman. He was a glory hog.
This is when Saturn had to wear a dress and he liked it. So again, greatest show ever, greatest era of the show ever. It's Norman Smiley versus Perry Saturn, but Norman is not yet Screamin', he's just getting the Big Wiggle over. Can you imagine that? It was 1999 and the Big Wiggle was new. Perry Saturn is in a red-dress and on his way to the ring, Bobby Heenan whistles and says, "Hey sweetheart!" (amazing what Heenan would say even if not a total heel in the nWo era). Incredibly, we barely get a chance to take a breath when Saturn growls to the camera, "Smiley! You're not gettin' jiggy with me!" The match goes long although it's not bad by any means. You actually wish these two had fought a lot more. It's just weird that Saturn in the dress is the Saturn that seems to be on showcase. I don't remember seeing Smiley in any long matches either. Heenan gets inappropriate about Saturn: "I can see his panties." Schivaoni: "they're wrestling trunks, lamebrain." Heenan: "if you're wearing a dress, they're..." I still think Saturn is underrated. He had one of the best movesets at the time. He even does a little bit of Big Wiggle in this match.
Referee Scott Dickinson is suspended for helping Jericho but he's got a front-row seat. He does an intentionally awkward interview with Mean Gene. He closes his eyes while talking and he's supposed to be wearing glasses but he refuses to talk about it over his "bogus suspension." In a moment of subtle brilliance, he sits back down before the interview is over, and by the time Mean Gene has agreed to talk to someone about his plight, he's up and leaving accompanied by Event Staff. Scott Dickinson looks like he's related to Stephen King btw...
The Bret Hart/Booker T non-title match is dope shit. Feels just as much like a Booker T match as a Bret Hart match. Hart eats a beating early on with disbelief. Booker is stiff and explosive and mean, overpowering, stepping on Bret's hands. Bret gets him back on the outside, not only choking Booker with an electric cord, but wrapping it around his neck several times and leaving him breathless on the floor. Match goes to a commercial when Booker is reversing a figure-4, but when we come back, Bret is re-applying a figure-4, so it feels like God was watching out for us, he knew what was in our hearts, the story we were invested in. Also, at some point Bret lands a great atomic drop. I don't like that move, but I'm always paying attention for a good one and Booker takes one by Bret best. Booker nearly hits a Harlem Hangover close to the ropes, but when Bret tries to smash him with the US title belt from the second rope, you should see how his head shoots back from eating Booker's boot. He looked like an accidental idiot, but an idiot nonetheless. You should see it. Booker gets out of hand with the revenge spot, choking Bret with any electrical cord within reach and I didn't see the finish coming. Absolutely awesome performance by both guys.
We see Scott Steiner harrassing the Nitro girls, mainly Kimberly. He tells her how he beat her man like a dog. Also follows her into their dressing room and tells her she needs to treat him like a man. How he has a great body and she needs him. He repeats that he has a great body, so ... maybe we all need him? Not a great dude at this point, but he surely does believe in his vessel.
Jean Claude Van Damme is also in the front row, seated next to a real cutie.
Bischoff is walking through the stands with an armful of foam-fingers, upsettedly asking, "do you have any money?" Apparently he's wearing a wig underneath his backwards ballcap.
Next is Norton versus Goldberg. Norton assures us Goldberg is going down. I love heavyweight wrestling and this is just about as heavy as it gets. Goldberg is so strong he almost throws Scott Norton on a powerslam, he has to shift mid-move and carefully land him. On the outside, Norton is chopping the shit out of Goldberg who starts to hulk-up for a second, so Norton headbutts him. That sort of ready decision-making is ultimately all that a wrestler has to master to be a good wrestler. Goldberg has a little bit of time, so he does on an elbow-drop on the outside of the ring. Random beauty. And they say Goldberg had no moves. Fuck em. Well, Goldberg does aimlessly irish whip Norton on the outside, which Norton is visibly perturbed about, so he takes the opportunity to teach Greenberg a thing or two about fighting. He falls into an awesome, heavy short-arm clothesline for some much needed rest. This is the greatest match-up possible. "Combat" as Mike Tenay tells us. Norton lands are far-reaching shoulder tackle off the top, but it only gets a one. Could have been much hurtier. Another backdrop and short-arm clothesline and the Goldberg chants start up. When Norton goes for a powerbomb, Goldberg looks like he wants to drop an x-factor but instead he runs to the ropes and hits a spear. Goldberg is a Billy Kidman wannabe. nWo B-team is out to make short work of Bill, but it's pointless. THEN, Norris, Van Damme, Herschel Walker, and some NHL guy enter the ring to get hugs from Goldberg and eachother, which is weird, but I like weird. This is still the greatest show on n earth. Goldberg holds the ropes like a gentleman for these gentlemen and they walk to the back together, presumably to get hammered drunk.
Big Poppa Pump is at the announce booth, sitting against the table and stoicly watching the Nitro girls through tinted shades. He looks to be so horny it's hurting him at this point. He believes in his body, why can't they? Too bad this was the real Scott Steiner at one point, but I mean, he is a genetic freak with the keys to nirvana.
This was after they whipped David Flair and spraypainted him for being yet a brunette though he claimed to be a Flair.
Main event is a 6-man tag match, Flair, Benoit, and Mongo versus Hogan and two partners of his choice. And there's like 25 minutes left to go (holy shit, bear with me). This is my first time watching Benoit in almost 15 years. Hogan is walking to the ring saying, "You don't mess with Hell's Angels! You don't mess with Chuck Zito! You don't mess with my homies!" Apparently, he's chosen Steiner and Nash, so 4 Horsemen have literally no chance. In the prematch promo, Nash hands Steiner the mic and Steiner has to shake it off a couple times (uhh...)... Hollywood says WCW/4 Horsemen fans "stink...real bad!" He also badmouths Ric Flair, how he beat his child in the center of the ring and Eric Bischoff kissed his wife. Poor Ric. Not the greatest Hogan promo, but the words he says are true...4 Horsemen guitar-shredding song is better than "Thus Spake Zarathustra" and even Flair knew it on this night. Match opening brawl is sloppy, no one wants to sell for Benoit. Hogan thinks raking the eyes will save him. Steiner clears the ring for his homies; get the man a prostitute. Still can't imagine from looking at Benoit that he would do what he did. He and Steiner are gonna start things off and Steiner looks like he got seated next to the smelly guy on the bus, but maybe he's just got blueballs. Benoit sells so Steiner can flex. It's kinda sad, but yeah, I wish there was more of these two together. Nash tags in, but Benoit stays in, which is admirable. Mongo is wrestling in a shirt for some reason. Wish there was more Mongo versus Nash, but Benoit comes back in with a diving headbutt on Big Kev, which is cool with me. Steiner cheats and Benoit has to eat a big boot, which is a thing of beauty in this context. Hogan comes in and punches the shit out of Benoit, then back rakes him. Just ruthless. Absolutely ruthless. He runs an axe-bomber and spits at Flair only to skip away in a hurry. They're extra mean to Benoit, probably because he does snot-rockets and they're busy entertaining HA's and shit. Hogan pulls out a high back-suplex on Benoit and we go to a commercial. What did Dallas do to deserve this night of entertainment? Benoit gets a chop and a punch on Hogan, but Steiner is quick to interfere (from the apron) when he thinks he's allowed to kick big Red-and-Yellow. Hogan chops him back, runs him to the corner, and lands a huge clothesline, so big he smiles at Benoit while Benoit falls to the mat. Hogan was already crotch-chopping at this point in history which I didn't remember; I figured it was a habit he picked up in TNA. Flair still hasn't tagged in and Benoit looks like he just shat himself when Nash hits him with a scoop slam from 4-ft in the air. Good God, they played with this dude. They even put him in their corner for a Tree of Woe. Kevin Sullivan book this shit? Fresh out of the Tree of Woe, Hogan takes off his belt and whips Benoit on the back of his head/neck. No wonder Benoit would be WCW champion in a year's time. He earned his stripes this night. Literally. Hogan puts his belt back on and rakes Benoit in the eyes. Then, he goes for a pin. Big Hogan vertical suplex, but Benoit is too short to land on his back by the time Hogan falls so it looks for like a brainbuster. No lie. He lays over Benoit and looks genuinely concerned when the ref doesn't initiate a fast-count. I mean, why the fuck not, ref? Finally Nash misses a big boot in the corner, but Benoit still can't make it to his corner; Steiner is back in. He puts Chris in a bearhug, but Chris is too proud to stick a thumb in his eye before it turns into an overhead belly-to-belly. Hogan tags back in just to go for a cover. He misses a legdrop! Flair with the hot tag and all hell breaks loose. Even Benoit is on his feet and taking his turn on Steiner. Bischoff enthusiastically selling foam-fingers at ringside all of a sudden, hands one to Nash as Flair locks a figure-4 on Hollywood. Not sure why it hurts, but it breaks on Flair's back and thevmatch ends in a DQ. Bischoff threatens hair-clippers and Chavo is the first WCW lumberjack to hit the ring, then it's Hugh Morris, Damian, and La Parka. nWo and WCW in the brawl of all brawls. La Parka helps Flair to his feet. Not a hair on his head was harmed. WCW clears the ring. They've got the numbers game. Kaz Hayashi and Scotty f'in Riggs. Silver King and Glacier. La Parka is perched on the second rope like a night watchman. nWo back up the aisle into Goldberg. Show ends as he's killing them on the stage.
What the fuck did I just see?
I understand that someone in WWE must have seen this episode and said, "We need three hours!" But this will never happen again. January 25th, people. I guess the next episode opens with Curt Hennig and Barry Windham arriving at the arena with their luggage, talking about winning the tag team title tournament. Holy cow...