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Smelly watches every Nitro-era Nitro, Thunder, Clash, and PPV while sitting and sometimes maybe standing


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3 minutes ago, SirSmUgly said:

Yeah, the issue here with WW3 is that the Rumble is already a perfected version of the battle royal. I don't think you can trademark a match type (only a name), so WCW would have been better off upping the amount of entrants, but not the amount of rings. Do sixty men, cut down the entry time to ninety seconds between entrants, and go forth with only one ring (or maybe one slightly bigger-than-regulation ring if you really want to do something visually different, though that probably would be a bitch for the high-flyers to get used to for one night only). 

or even utilize the double ring setup from WarGames. you'd have to be careful to not have too many wrestlers in at a given time, but that still gets you a distinct visual. this is in an ideal world, of course. in the real world WCW would never have been able to balance that.

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Show #116 - 24 November 1997

"The one where I barely acknowledge the opening or the main event. Well, the first one where I do that, at least."

  • The nWo, fresh off their incredibly stupid victory in the WW3 battle royal the previous night, comes out to celebrate. Most of this is stupid except for Scott Hall, who is absolutely hilarious when Bischoff introduces him as the WW3 battle royal winner. He’s so happy to be here! He thanks you for your adulation! He’s so bashful about the attention! Then Hogan starts talking. OK, I’m back out. Hogan challenges anyone in the back to a title match, and the Giant comes out. He accepts the challenge, but here is J.J. Dillon to throw cold water on that! He’s all like, Oh, your hand is hurt, WCW can’t have that sort of liability even though we’ve been letting Raven maim dudes’ eyes while not under contract on our shows! Anyway, Dillon will let the Giant sign away his rights to get in the ring or whatever, I don’t know, this was dumb except for Hall.


  • Larry Z. threatens to knock Bischoff’s dick off, but in a PG way.


  • Disorderly Conduct getting some burn on Nitro, huh? This is a step up from WCWSN or Pro, fellas! They’re out here to job to the Steiner Brothers. The Steiners tossing jobbers around pretty much doesn’t get old to me, so how much you like this TV match depends on how much like me you are in this regard. Sometimes, I just want to see relatively big dudes do side slams and overhead suplexes and powerslams and stuff. I will note that maybe people should stop trying to leapfrog Rick Steiner. He’s just waiting on that shit so he can slam you out of mid-air. I can accept this way more than people trying to powerbomb Billy Kidman and failing because almost everyone tries a leapfrog on a rope run at some point, unlike dudes randomly trying powerbombs (who otherwise never did) against Kidman. Scott Steiner clears Mean Mike out with a double-underhook suplex, then is able to hoist Tough Tom up for the super bulldog, and it gets three. Look, a Steiner tag squash is figuratively like chicken noodle soup – it’s comfort food.


  • The blonde Nitro Girl hit a moonsault during their dance routine in the ring. That’s pretty impressive, TBH. Tenay’s impressed with it.


  • THA MONSTA MENG is awesome and also so is Booker T. This Nitro is rapidly recovering from opening with the fucking nWo again. Sometimes I just want to see one big dude hit another big dude with a forearm, so the other big dude responds with a very athletic leapfrog and a side kick. And I got to see that in the opening minute of this match! Booker Spinaroonies up from a back body drop – Meng is SHOCKED by this, and it’s so funny – and kicks Meng, but another kick attempt is caught, and Booker gets slammed and then picked up and powerbombed. Meng clubbers, then misses an elbowdrop. The only way this match could be a more fun TV match is if Jacqueline beats up Jimmy Hart. Book dodges a corner charge, but gets caught and put in position for a powerbomb. However, having taken this move earlier in the match, Booker is able to recognize it, roll through it, and sunset flip Meng for a three count! Meng is enraged and Tongan Death Grips Booker. Stevie comes out and breaks a chair over Meng’s head, which anyone who knows racial stereotypes in pro wrestling knows is a failed plan of attack. Meng gets up and TDG’s Stevie while Barbarian runs in and lays the boots to Booker. I really loved everything about this except that Jackie didn’t throw a forearm or two at Jimmy Hart.


  • I might be one of the few people who enjoyed all the hosses in mid-aughts WWF. There aren’t enough hosses in modern pro wrestling. I want more guys who barely leave their feet so when they do leave their feet, it’s got impact. Meng will do a flying headbutt or whatever, but he’s so hard to get off his feet by force that there was a good pop for Booker getting that pinfall.


  • Here’s an update on the Raven situation: Dillon, who is back on TV in multiple segments I guess, FUCK, comes down along with Gene Okerlund to talk to Raven, seated in the front row with his Flock. Scotty Riggs joins them after Dillon comes down! Some guy goes YEAH and I agree? I didn’t know that I could feel this passionately about a Scotty Riggs angle! Raven apparently altered the contract that Dillon sent him before signing it, which I don’t think that’s how it works, legally? WCW doesn’t have to legitimize a contract that one guy randomly changed before signing without WCW getting a chance to review it, yeah? But Dillon is just like FUCK IT, WE GOT HIM UNDER CONTRACT, FOLKS, I’LL TAKE IT. Dillon is a complete asshole. What an ineffectual leader. But honestly, his ineptitude made me laugh. Like I’ve been sitting here for the last minute giggling at how shitty a leader Dillon is. That Raven contract thing is absurd, hahaha.


  • Chris Benoit is wrestling Raven next! Raven brings Sick Boy with him by pulling him over the guardrail by his hair. Oh, I see, Raven’s not interested in taking about fifty knife-edge chops, so he sends Sick Boy in to do that for him. Sick Boy hits a nice springboard back elbow somewhere in between all the chops, I must say! Sick Boy also hits a nice springboard dropkick, but Benoit ultimately takes Sick Boy’s offense and walks through it so that he can do more knife-edge chops. I mean, that dude really was into chops and clubbering, especially tonight. Benoit calls Raven into the ring, but Raven’s all good watching for now. I think there’s a misperception of Benoit as working these technical masterpieces all the time when really, a lot of what he does really well is brawl. It's like the guy was small and had a submission finisher, so he must be some sort of technical genius (and by that, I mean lots of submissions and mat-work, as I think the term was popularly used at the time).


  • Benoit hits the flying headbutt and prepares for the Crossface. A few Flock members try to run in, but Benoit is able to fight them off for long enough to lock on the Crossface for the win. The Flock keeps coming even after the bell rings, though, and Saturn is able to wallop Benoit and lock on the Rings of Saturn. A giant RAVEN SUCKS chant starts. I’ll admit that Raven’s getting over nicely as a heel, but I’m not sure the seven-month build was necessary. Just have him collect Flock members over three months and do basically the same things he’s done in a compressed time period.


  • The nWo trolls Larry Z. with a video showing Hall and Bischoff beating him up, so he storms to the ring to challenge Hall. He wants to relive the AWA days where he beat up Big Scott Hall, and yes, he definitely makes reference to those days. It made me want to watch a Big Scott Hall/Larry Z. AWA match. I probably will at some point this week. Anyway, the nWo responds by dropping flyers of Bischoff standing with his foot on Zbyszko’s chest from Havoc. Bischoff is the one who responds in person because Hall conned the SHIT outta this guy, and I remain impressed that Hall is a master troll who starts trouble and lets someone else handle it. Bisch eventually gets around to arguing that Hall doesn’t even need to be out here because he can handle Larry, so Larry challenges Bisch, and Bisch accepts. Meanwhile, Scott Hall is a walking GameFAQs poster who knows just how to get other people to pick up on his troll posts and lose their precious GameFAQs points after posting incendiary responses that get modded into the dust. I figured I’d go full ‘90s here with the internet analogy.


  • It's a Prince Iaukea sighting! Apparently, he was in New Japan for the past few weeks. I’m mildly curious about his little tour. Alex Wright and Queen Debra are still holding it together as a duo somehow; let’s see if Wright can get them a bit of momentum with a win. Wright gets control, Wright dances, Wright does some pretty mean stuff like stomping on Iaukea’s fingers. Iaukea makes a comeback with a couple of dropkicks and an enziguri for two. Iaukea sinks in a chinlock, but Wright makes his way out of it pretty quickly and hits a release belly-to-belly on a rope run. Debra decides that she needs to get up on the apron to cheer Wright on at this point, and Wright just wants this idiot to calm down and relax. Wright’s still in control, though he’s fed up with Debra at this point and doesn’t fully focus on Iaukea. Apparently, Debra got her gown hung up on the turnbuckle, and Wright is just like, What the hell sis, you’re really cramping my style, and having been distracted, he turns around into a top-rope crossbody that gets three for Iaukea. Wright immediately shitcans Debra after the match, which is probably a solid decision!


  • Disco Inferno and Randy Savage make for an interesting matchup, if only because both guys spend most of their time selling for dudes than putting up offense, at least on TV. Five minutes of Disco unloading offense on Savage before getting Savage Elbow’d would be interesting. Savage slugging Disco into the ground – also interesting. Or maybe they’ll have a dance-off! Let's find out together. Liz grabbing Disco’s leg to draw him outside the ring and pushing him into the steel post, I didn’t expect, but okay! I guess they got around all the pesky “Who’s going to take all the offense stuff” by making the post shot from Liz basically the end of the match – Savage beats him up outside for thirty seconds after that, then puts him back in the ring and hits two Savage Elbows for the win. It wasn’t good or anything, but I was riveted! Post-match, Savage drops another elbow just for funsies. Mickey Jay tries to stop him from dropping a fourth and gets punched and tossed, after which Savage spray paints Disco and Liz pins him with one boot on the chest. Oh, THEN Savage drops another elbow. This was pretty good fuckery and I found it entertaining.


  • Someone tell that doofus Brad Armstrong that you can’t be a heel and ALSO wear a jacket patterned in the U.S. flag unless you’re a) working in a country where the U.S. is the heel, or b) working some sort of Dark Patriot gimmick, like the Dark Patriot did. And even that guy wore black and red rather than red, white, and blue! Anyway, Malenko comes out here and works a decent TV match with the guy. It’s got some crisp moves, especially Armstrong’s neckbreaker and his powerslam, the latter of which he floats over on to get two. Armstrong actually gets a couple of close two-counts, including on a roll-through of a crossbody. I mean, this match happens to general silence, but it’s aesthetically pleasing and Armstrong is excellent tonight. Malenko rolls through a sunset flip attempt to lock on the Texas Cloverleaf for the win. The bridge of Malenko’s nose is busted, if you want to get a sense of the intensity of this match, which kinda came out of nowhere to surprise me.


  • Gene Okerlund is branching out and interviewing other former Horsemen now: Mongo McMichael joins him on the ramp. The Lions fans in Saginaw are like, Man, fuck this dude. Mongo got a kick out of Alex Wright firing Debra, the latter of whom comes out to make amends with Mongo. I guess Goldberg dumped her at some point off-screen, too? Debra, give it up, go join your boy Jeff Jarrett in the Dub already. Mongo is disinterested in a reunion, however. Debra said she’d do “anything” to get back with Mongo, so of course that pervy FUCK Gene Okerlund is like Ooh, she said “anything,” that probably means “butt stuff,” huh? Well, he implies that he’s thinking that! He totally is!


  • I can’t shit on Okerlund too much, though, because the Nitro Girls are out here and Chae is wearing the same type of top that she popped out of a few weeks ago, and yes, I immediately intensely studied this segment like it was the Zapruder film.


  • Chris Jericho’s really growing out that beard to help signal his coming heel turn. He’s not gonna out-heel Buff Bagwell, though, at least not tonight. Buff trips Jericho and laughs uproariously because he thinks it’s going to be an easy night. Buff arm drag, Buff dance, Buff pose. Jericho eventually fights back and clotheslines Buff to the floor, then hits Buff with a tope over the top and slaps the shit out of Buff besides. Back in the ring, Jericho hits a Lionsault and I’m expecting a surprise win here, but Buff kicks out at two. Buff is able to drape Jericho over the ropes on a Jericho rana attempt, and Buff returns the angry slaps. Buff goes from angry to cocky as shit once he thinks he’s back in control, though. Huh, this is a pretty good match, too.


  • They go back and forth, and twice, Jericho comebacks get stuffed by clotheslines. Buff jaws with the ref and gets rolled up for two after the ref finally shoves Buff back for once. Buff sets up for the Blockbuster, but he stops to pose and Jericho dropkicks him, then hits a rana from the top for 2.9. Jericho goes in for the kill and tries triple running corner lariats; Buff blocks the third with a boot, then hops up and hits a sloppy Blockbuster for three (thanks, commentary, for pointing that out). Man, the wrestling has been good tonight, and the match layouts varied to boot.


  • Curt Hennig defends the U.S. Championship against Ray Traylor in a match that really holds zero intrigue. Perfect/Boss Man in 1991? Yes, please. Hennig/Traylor in 1997? I’ll pass, thanks.


  • A guy in a Mariners cap (Go M’s! Go somewhere that’ll trade us their NBA team for you!) distracts Hennig enough that Traylor gets the jump on the champ outside the ring. Heenan gives a lot of love to Hennig for working as champ with a busted up knee – worked over the night before by Ric Flair – and Tony’s all like YOU WANNA BE nWo, HUH? Tony, these men had a fruitful working partnership together in the past and have clearly patched up their differences from four or five years ago. One thing I’ve noticed on re-watch: Schiavone is a total dickhead. Oh, the match itself? It’s acceptable wrestling. Nothing worth stopping to watch even if it pops up in a random WCW match playlist on YouTube, but nothing that makes you stop to evaluate why you’re a pro wrestling fan. I think that it’s important to note that they try really hard, though.  Traylor hits a Boss Man Slam that gets two, which is when the nWo decides to make its entrance to beat up Traylor. Savage really wants to blow out his hip, considering that he now hits what's about his 73rd Savage Elbow of the night. Hall tries to use a marker (it’s dry erase and Traylor’s sweating, dummy) and then resorts to the ol’ dependable spray paint to mark Traylor up.


  • Tony S. is struggling with the latest video game releases – he mixed up which console WCW Nitro was coming out for (PlayStation) and which console WCW/nWo World Tour was coming out for (N64) earlier. He gets it entirely right with World Tour, but confused himself with Nitro earlier. In his defense, there were like a shit-ton of wrestling games coming out between like 1995 and 2001, and it was truly a glorious time to be alive.


  • Recap of the utterly garbage finish in the WW3 battle royal. After the nonsense finishes in the main events at Fall Brawl, Havoc, and WW3, at least we’re assured a good ol’, no nonsense babyface victory in the Starrcade main event! I can’t see any way that doesn’t happen!


  • There is zero suspense to Hogan/Giant itself, but maybe Sting will show up when the nWo is feeling itself the most and bring them crashing back down to earth? That’s intriguing! Right before the bell, the Giant blasts Vincent with his cast-covered hand, which Hogan targets shortly after. Hogan hammers it into the ringpost, and it makes a nice DING sound just like an AKI video game, damn near. Even if this match is going nowhere in the end, I’m interested in the journey, but we cut away to Bischoff and Rick Rude running the commentary team off so that they can take over. We finally cut back to Hogan clotheslining the Giant from the ring to the floor, which is always an impressive bump for the Giant to take. Hogan hits the legdrop and the Giant kicks out at two – how devalued has the legdrop become as a finisher over the past year, huh? No one even pops for the Giant kicking out.


  • This match is pretty heatless except for a brief HOGAN SUCKS chant earlier and the Giant signaling for the chokeslam. The Giant actually hits said chokeslam, but hurt his hand and can’t make the cover. Nash-as-Sting comes down and bashes Giant’s hand with a baseball bat. At least the nWo commentators are only pretending not to recognize how much taller Nash is than actual Sting. Then, they lower a Sting dummy and crash him through the mat. Look, when I grade this Nitro, I’m just ignoring the opening and the closing and pretending that the nWo nonsense that ruins every opener and every main event didn’t happen. Bischoff thinks “Sting is such a dummy” is clever, by the way, and I think he thinks that as a shoot even if you consider that he’s working as a heel.


  • OK, I can’t entirely forget the opener and main event, but I’m not going to let it shake my grade too much because the rest of the show was fun, full of variety, and quite entertaining. 4.25 out of 5 Stinger Splashes
Edited by SirSmUgly
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Show #117 - 01 December 1997

"The one where we should just eliminate eighty percent of the nWo for the sake of show quality"

  • I watched the Hall/Zbyszko AWA match that Curt McGirt posted, and I think I got about four minutes and fifty-three seconds in before they locked up, which is par for the course for a heel Larry Z. match. About 35%-ish of the match was Larry Z. stalling, in fact. Hall was green as grass, but this was an okay match. I will say that seeing Hall’s idea of charisma be “clap my hands a lot” was really something. I don’t think anyone in the ‘80s is guessing at the incredible charisma Hall has based on anything he’s doing in the ring at that time.


  • Recap of the stupid ending to last week’s Nitro. Tony S. as they showed the Sting dummy being lowered to the mat at mach speed: “Here comes the REAL Sting, or so we thought!” Excuse me, we? We?!


  • More recapping, this time of the Larry Z./Bischoff confrontation last week. I guess the implication is that this is all long-standing AWA beef that’s boiling over now that Hall and Bischoff have the power to harass Zbyszko? I don’t know if that implication a) actually exists or if I'm just making it up, or b) really makes it easier for me to give a shit about any of this. Again, I note that the crowd wants to see Zbyszko fuck someone up – Hall, Bisch, they don’t care. I still am not quite sure why.


  • Gene Okerlund? OK, fine, at least it’s not starting the show with the nWo. Gene’s probably interviewing Flair or Page or…FUCK, he’s interviewing Bischoff? Come the fuck ON. Sign in the crowd held up by a whole damn row, one letter per person: N A S H ‘ S  A L M A   M A T E R. Wait, didn’t he transfer to like Bowling Green or somewhere after roughing up his coach? That would be his alma mater. Or maybe he stuck around and got his degree, and he is wearing a Vols cap tonight, so ultimately, that we are in Knoxville for tonight’s show is the only thing that very long sign really tells us. Bisch tries to back out of the match with Larry Z., then only offers to do it if he can put control of Nitro on the line. Don’t we get an actual nWo Nitro episode at some point?


  • Rey Misterio Jr. faces off with Juventud THA JOOCY ONE Guerrera, with Eddy Guerrero creepin’ in the background. Eddy puts Tenay in the bushes and takes over on color in his place. Ooh, I love unexpected upgrades! Eddy gives the wrestlers in the ring credit, but doesn’t have time for the dinguses on commentary. I love that he gives Rey credit for a move, but points out that he would have been canny enough to counter said move with a side slam. Now, THAT is how you put your opponent and yourself over at the same time. Quality heeling from Eddy. The match is solid and all, but I’m mostly focused on Eddy styling on commentary with his understated (and entirely false) modesty. Eddy’s ready to take everyone on and gives zero fucks. Misterio reverses some dull legwork with an enziguri, but gets hung up on the ropes and springboard rana’d. Juvy gets two on a Falcon Arrow, but misses a corner splash and pretty much is fucked after that, falling to Rey’s springboard rana shortly after. The match was good as it was, but Eddy made the whole experience aces.


  • I’m just really glad to see Wrath back on Nitro. I’d be even gladder if he hits Hugh Morrus with the Death Penalty! Hey, Raven hops the railing along with his flock. I’m sad that Van Hammer’s toned down his look – bring back the purple lipstick, my dude. In the ring, Wrath goes right at Morrus and clubbers him real good. Morrus does his second-rope clothesline as a counter to a Wrath corner whip, but Morrus gets focused on Vandenberg and ends up jumped from behind and tossed from the ring. Wrath follows Morrus outside by hitting him with a senton from the apron to the floor. He dumps Morrus back in the ring, then hits a diving clothesline from the top. Wrath is so much fun. Mortis sticks a chain on his boot and wants to get involved, which is total nonsense because Wrath is about to hit the Death Penalty. Wrath, noooooo, don’t listen to that idiot Mortis! Aw, Wrath listened to that idiot Mortis. Wrath holds Morrus up for a kick and eats the chain-assisted boot when Morrus ducks, then eats a No Laughing Matter shortly after to lose. Ditch that bum Mortis for Crush already, dammit!


  • I guess Glacier and Ernest Miller are already breaking up; they’re fighting each other on WCWSN after having a disagreement. Good, get Miller and his charisma away from Glacier. The sooner, the better.


  • Well, it took twenty minutes or so before Hogan and Bischoff came out to blather on. Weirdly, Craig Leathers puts a virtual Sting mask - in what is surely cutting-edge CGI for the era - on the feed, positioned as if we (like the people in the IRL crowd who have been given physical Sting masks) are looking at Hogan from behind Sting’s mask. It looks dumb. Who told Craig Leathers that he could try to fulfill his creative ideas?! Who the fuck?!


  • The promo: Hogan’s ego is out of control, nWo for life, You better take off those masks, people in the crowd, or I’m going to go mean mug the granny planted in the front row, etc.


  • Yuji Nagata has been on quite the run since he came back to WCW. I can’t see that changing tonight, but then again, Prince Iaukea has managed to earn victory in unlikely spots before. Iaukea’s a guy who really doesn’t go much beyond the basics, but he’s a decent underneath babyface. He hits a nice overhead suplex, but gets back suplexed right out of a control headlock himself. Nagata sends him outside so that Sonny Onoo can hit some weak kicks before putting him back in the ring. Both men trade control, and at one point, Nagata targets Iaukea’s leg. That doesn’t keep Iaukea from fighting back with a kick that totally whiffs, nor does it keep him from eventually hitting the top-rope crossbody for a clean three count. See, I told you that man Iaukea was a threat. Unfortunately, he threatened along with Nagata to bore me, and he followed through.


  • I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: That Chae is so dreamy.


  • Lodi is holding up signs at ringside, but there’s no time for paying him any attention: The Faces of Fear and Harlem Heat are about to clubber the SHIT out of one another! The match starts with clubbering. Then Stevie stomps a mudhole in Barb. YEAH. Anyway, this is a fun (to me) TV match, but it’s pretty clear if you’ve read any of these reviews that I’m a pretty big fan of both teams. Booker’s still perfecting his axe kick, so it only gets two on Meng. Stevie ends up as FIP, and when Jimmy Hart tries to get involved, Jacquelyn grabs him and puts him on the mats outside, YEAH. FUCK HIM UP, JACKIE! So, all four guys are fighting, when Booker ends up on Barbarian’s shoulders, and Stevie breaks from punching Meng to kick Barb in the stomach; Booker rolls through as Barb folds over in pain and gets the three count. This gives Meng a chance to Tongan Death Grip Stevie, then Booker after Booker grabs a chair that is totally ineffective in breaking the hold. Meng only breaks it once he and Barbarian realize that Jackie is choking the fuck out of Jimmy Hart on the floor. I, for one, think that whole thing RULED and was GREAT.


  • The Outsiders are here! Yes, the core of the nWo that I actually want to get regular mic time! Syxx has been off TV for the past few weeks and won’t be back, which is a bummer, but those three guys are my dudes I want to see when it comes to the nWo, and pretty much the rest of that group can get fucked. Maybe not Buff Bagwell, that dude is good with me. But the rest of them, I’m done with them (at least as nWo members).


  • Hall does a survey check and is charismatic enough to get a half-decent cheer for the nWo even though this place is pretty pro-WCW. Kevin Nash is Well-Informed Check: Mentions Lee Harvey Oswald being gunned down by Jack Ruby. Then calls out “the dude that lost to the chick,” which I think is reductive, but anyway, Disco will be out here after the break.


  • Disco taunts his opponent Scott Hall with his dancing. Hall is confused and his face seems to say, Yo, what the fuck is happening right now? Then he throws a toothpick at Disco. This is one of those dumb matchups that I love about WCW. Hall musses up Disco’s hair, which is a bad move, Hall! Disco pushes ref Billy Silverman out of the way and unloads on Hall in the corner. See, told you he’d get mad about the hair. Hall flips control around and Disco feels those chops something serious. Then Hall does the Razor punch/stomp taunt thing that you know so well, it’s an awesome taunt even if it’s hard to describe. He knocks Disco back down, then calls for the chokeslam in a spot that can only be described as disrespectful to the Giant while Nash hits Disco with a short-arm clothesline outside. Back in the ring, Disco tries a crossbody, but gets caught and fallaway slammed, then summarily eats a Razor’s Edge for three. Hall and Nash celebrate Hall’s victory in the goofiest way possible. Then they do the Mega Powers handshake. I enjoy their juvenile antics.


  • J.J. fucking Dillon is out here to be super boring and talk about how he’s put Nitro on the line to make official the Larry Z./Eric Bischoff match at Starrcade. Hold on, so he put Nitro on the line, but got zero in return from Bisch? Dillon is a real asshole, you know that, folks? Bischoff is upset when he should just be like, Yo, I’m bringing half the nWo down and fucking Larry Z. UP, so thanks for signing Nitro over to us!


  • Psicosis is wrestling Ultimo Dragon, and maybe they still have beef because Sonny Onoo sort of set them up to have beef, like an Iowan Scott Hall of sorts. The desk fake belly laughs over Bischoff having to wrestle Larry Z. when they should be talking about this match. I mean, this match isn’t some amazing deal, but it’s still worth talking about. They finally get to it when they notice that Psicosis is dressed differently than normal. They don’t remark on Psicosis doing that NUTBAR ring-to-floor guillotine legdrop, though. Is he trying to get a stinger? Does he not want to shit properly in old age? It’s a fucking dumb bump, is what I’m saying. The match is a solid TV bout that goes back and forth and features Psicosis bumping like a lunatic to the point that I feel like he should maybe stop doing some of that signature stuff. His signature leaping whiff bump into the corner where he lands on his neck is stupid, too. Dragon hits a top-rope Frankensteiner and follows up with a Dragon sleeper for the win. I was suitably entertained.


  • Some Wisconsinites having a Nitro Party chant DEPORT EDDY. When they send in Nitro Party tapes, people, they’re not sending their best.


  • So Raven is supposed to wrestle Chris Benoit this week since he ducked him last week, or you know, got Sick Boy a paycheck out of the goodness of his heart last week if you want to take a charitable interpretation of events. But no, Raven won’t conform. Billy Kidman will, however, as Raven orders him into the ring in his stead. Lodi tries to support Kidman at ringside with a dumb sign, but if this were a scientific test w/r/t how well encouragement on signs works to motivate someone to success, we’d have a pretty good data point that there is no connection between the two. Benoit does like a billion knife-edged chops and then bites Jericho’s style and locks on a Walls of Jericho. He drops it to walk over and yell at Raven. He’s actually frothing at the mouth, and it's gross. Poor Kidman’s chest is a deep red.


  • Kidman gets a little offense, with a headscissors and a springboard bulldog, but that’s about it for him before Benoit takes back over. It’s only when the match goes outside and Kidman gets an assist from Saturn, followed by an apron-to-floor SSP, that Benoit looks like he might actually be in trouble. Kidman unloads on Benoit with the best offense he has and gets a couple of two-counts for his trouble. Benoit is able to break away and hit a lifting neckbreaker, but Kidman blocks a German Suplex and returns the favor with a couple of chops. The issue is that he goes to that well once too often, and Benoit turns a wayward chop into a Crippler Crossface for the submission victory.


  • The Flock runs in and Benoit handles them until Van Hammer faces off with him, which allows Raven to come in from behind and hit Benoit with an Evenflow DDT. Saturn locks the Rings of Saturn on a prone Benoit to add insult to injury. That was just about in the “competitive squash” range, I think, and it was very good after starting out seemingly as a straight squash. I liked it because it was surprising, to some degree. It looked like one thing, but ended up another. It was the Psycho of Nitro TV matches. And not just because Benoit was involved! Go ahead and imagine the rim shot being drummed out after that last sentence in your head.


  • Buff Bagwell and his flunky Vincent are in the ring, and Totally Buff will explode for about the fifth time since Nitro started in 1995. Pre-explode? Anyway, I remember them as one of the bright spots in 2000-2001 WCW because they were such hammy villains. In 1997, though, Luger is just a woefully misused main event level star. Not as woefully as he was misused in 1994 WWF, mind you, but misused nonetheless. Buff wants to have a posedown with Luger, who does the jiggling pecs thing and wins the posedown if judged by the amount of high-pitched shrieks in the crowd.


  • This is a decent TV bout because Bagwell works a weird mix of cocky and intense. When he’s on top, he’s cocky, and when he’s threatened or hurt, he’ll slap a guy in the face or mudhole stomp. It’s pretty enjoyable work on a macro level, even if he’s mostly just posing and punching dudes in there (which I like, but is anathema to the preferences of some folks). Buff gets two on a shoulder block and threatens Charles Robinson, then throws a lot of boots to Luger's prone body. Robinson shoves Bagwell and inquires about Buff’s problem and what it might be. Meanwhile, Luger is mostly dead for eighty percent of this match until he locks on the Torture Rack. You’ve seen Luger on Nitro before, you know the drill. The only twist is that Vincent interferes and earns a DQ for Buff, then gets racked right along with Buff.


  • Ooh, the main event is Curt Hennig and DDP for the U.S. Championship. I am expecting a title change here. Hennig’s title reign has been a fine enough heel title reign with lots of fuck finishes and Page taking the gold from him should get a pretty huge pop in part because I do think people want Hennig to lose as well as wanting Page to win. Page outmaneuvers Hennig at every turn, so Hennig resorts to kicking Page in the nuts to get a bit of control. This turns into a heel control segment that lasts awhile, actually.


  • Hennig snaps Page's neck and Pee-Wee Anderson goes down randomly. Did something actually hit him? I would assume so since Hennig looks confused, but no, Pee-Wee is selling it way too broadly to be a shoot. Weird spot, though. The camera missed it, so Tony S. being confused about what happened is fair enough. Then again, he totally stops selling it eventually. IDK what the fuck. That was weird. I’m intrigued by this, maybe because Hennig’s control segment has been running on fumes and most recently has transitioned from a sleeper hold into a chinlock. Page finally makes his comeback. He hits all his signature moves and signals for the Diamond Cutter, but Rick Rude comes to ringside and pulls Pee-Wee out of the ring before Page can get three off the Cutter. Then we get an nWo beatdown, which is so exciting, you know? It’s like, what an innovative finish to a main event match. Fine, okay, I can wait until Starrcade for you to put the title on Page, but there was zero need to run this matchup until then. Hogan does the shittiest Diamond Cutter ever to Page, and it’s BORING and I am done with all the non-Nash, non-Hall, non-Syxx (☹), non-Buff (I guess) members of the nWo.


  • There was some quality wrestling in there, but I'm completely over the build to most of Starrcade. It's going to be a loooooooooooooong three weeks to that show. 3.75 out of 5 Stinger Splashes
Edited by SirSmUgly
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Show #118 - 08 December 1997

"The one where Sting reaches into the Undertaker's bag of tricks"

  • The best kind of laughter is the overjoyed laughter of a child, especially a baby who is surprised at something that they didn’t expect. The worst kind of laughter is commentators fake laughing at stuff that’s not funny. I say this because the show starts with a recap of J.J. Dillon popping off with a shitty insult at Eric Bischoff while the desk goes HAH HAH HAH.


  • Where is Sting? That’s what everyone wants to know.


  • The B-Team theme brings out Konnan. He’ll be continuing this hot feud that the B-Teamers (and occasionally a main event nWo guy) are having with Ray Traylor. I will again give Traylor a ton of credit because he is busting his ass in the ring every week. He’s giving a last burst of athleticism before he becomes pretty much shit for the rest of his active career. Konnan takes a whooping and finally, a good three or four minutes in, gets an offensive move in off a reverse Irish whip into the pole outside. Konnan only gets a few moves in before Traylor catches him trying to leapfrog in the corner; Konnan turns that into an inverted DDT.


  • This last move must tip off Sting, who doesn’t appreciate the move stealing on Konnan’s part, and the lights go out. There are tons of camera flashes (great visual) followed by, when the lights turn back on, Konnan laid out on the mat while Traylor looks around confused. Traylor puts a boot on Konnan’s chest and gets an easy victory as the crowd pops for the mere hint of Sting causing mayhem. The lights going out and then coming back on to someone being knocked out/someone being surrounded in the ring by the opps/an open casket with a dummy that looks like the Undertaker’s feud partner laying in it/etc. is one of my favorite pro wrestling tropes.


  • Video replay of last week’s show-ending nWo beatdown, but if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen ‘em all, fellas.


  • Barbarian looks like he may be about to hurt somebody. I was expecting a singles match against one of Harlem Heat, but Barb’s taking time out to fight Mongo McMichael because why the fuck not? Mongo works a headlock while the crowd in Buffalo looks off to the side; I wait for Debra to show up, but no dice. I guess some dude was just in a fight or getting dragged out for being pantsless or something. Mongo just beats the hell out of Barb for a bit, then Barb whiffs on a headbutt, but not a clothesline or mafia kick.


  • Oh, it was Raven’s Flock that everyone was looking at as they entered. Mongo and Barb punch each other a lot outside of the ring; then, Barb slams Mongo into the ring and the rail. Back inside the ring, Barb hits a nice pumphandle suplex for two, but goes up top and gets slapped in the tummy while trying to hit an axehandle. Both guys just try to punch each other a bunch at this point, and Mongo eventually just gets tired of that and hits the Mongo Spike for the three count. He goes over and punches Jimmy Hart, which enrages Meng, who has come down to the ring. Meng and Mongo throw hands until Meng ducks a swing and locks on the Tongan Death Grip. Man, the days of protected finishers. A gate-keeping midcarder having a believable death move like that is so valuable.


  • Disco’s getting a shot to get his TV Title back from Perry Saturn tonight, but all Gene Okerlund can ask him about in this interview is that L he took against Jacquelyn. Then, uh, Gene makes an unfortunate comment about gender w/r/t Disco’s gender and bathrooms, and we’ll just move along, and Disco is mad and not dancing at all tonight, and he’s ready to get up in someone’s face if they want to talk shit. 


  • Okerlund’s still here being irritating when Buff Bagwell comes down to take up Okerlund’s time, which is fine with me. Buff has a bone to pick with Lex Luger; he feels as though Luger isn’t as great as everyone says he is. Buff also thinks that he’s way better than everyone else thinks he is. Buff would like to rematch Luger tonight. Bagwell: “You know how I know [Luger] can’t beat me? Because I’m BUFF, and I’m in BUFFalo.” Well said, sir! Truly the pinnacle of eloquence!


  • Eddy Guerrero is also in Buffalo; he’s taken the headset from Bobby Heenan (out here tonight in hour one instead of Larry Z.) and is here to critique Dean Malenko and Prince Iaukea in our next singles match. Guerrero’s less good on the mic this week, but that’s fine! He still rules in general. Malenko and Iaukea have a decent TV match which goes back and forth and is well-worked. Iaukea tries his hardest, but doesn’t have the counter-wrestling acumen to beat Malenko, who reverses Iaukea into a double-underhook powerbomb and Texas Cloverleaf for the win.


  • Jim Kelly and Bruce Smith, of the four-time Super Bowl loser Buffalo Bills, are in the crowd. They seem slightly less than hyped.


  • Kevin Nash cuts a promo on the Giant that is good. He claims that the Giant only called him out because he was hurt and asserts that without the ability to hit the chokeslam, the Giant has no chance. Now wait a minute, does this match happen? I’m remembering a little thing about Nash having, uh, a cardiac episode on the day of the show, but maybe I’m wrong here.


  • The Giant comes to the ring to accept Nash’s challenge. He plans on hitting Nash with the ol' dependable chokeslam at Starrcade.


  • We’re losing Nitro Girls by the routine. They started out with only five (no Chae ☹), and now there are only four (no redhead, also sad).


  • Raven’s still ducking Chris Benoit, but Lodi’s here to catch the beats from Benoit in his stead. You know what happens. Benoit does a super-intense beatdown, lots of open-hand chops, and a headbutt and crossface to end it. Lodi doesn’t get a single bit of offense in. Raven’s not here, so the Flock decides not to bother with the whole run-in thing since the boss isn’t around to make them. Benoit very unfortunately would like to make Raven a victim of some true, textbook abuse and violence – his words, not mine! – and that post-match promo’s really aged like milk, now hasn’t it?


  • Ric Flair moseys out to yell into a mic held by Gene Okerlund. He predicts victory for WCW at Starrcade, demands a cage match with Curt Hennig at that show, and dismisses the threat of Bret Hart as an nWo member (or as the best there is, was, or ever will be). Flair declares that Charlotte would disagree with the HitG.O.A.T.'s claim as such. I declare that Charlotte is free to be as wrong as it wants to be.


  • I guess Jim Kelly’s fired up enough to throw weak hands at Randy Savage after Savage comes over to jaw with him. I expect more aggression, even faked, from Bruce Smith, who is leaning out of the way like he doesn’t enjoy hitting a dude. Anyway, so yeah, this is a Savage match against Hugh Morrus. We have that brouhaha outside, which is essentially three-on-one when you add Morrus in there beating Savage from behind, and then Morrus rolls until he misses a corner charge. From there, Savage beats Morrus up, spits at Jim Kelly, and then drops a Savage Elbow for one…two…thr-no, he pulls Morrus up. He wants to taunt Jim Kelly and drop another Savage Elbow, which he does. He then pulls Morrus up again and KOs the ref before going for a third Savage Elbow. Cue the lights going out. Cue a ridiculous sound effect, like the one you’d hear when the Mountie fired up his shock stick. Cue the lights coming back up. Savage is down in the ring with a Sting mask on his face.


  • Rick Rude and Eric Bischoff are heated about all this lights-out stuff. Why is Rude beefing at Heenan? What an ungrateful prick. This guy managed you to success. Anyway, Rude threatens to beat up all these dudes at the desk in as entertaining a way as one possibly can. He makes ‘em do the whole “see/hear/speak no evil” pose thing and pretty much acts up like a juiced up shitheel, which by many accounts he was!


  • Disco is SERIOUS tonight – no dancing at all, no joy. The teasing from his colleagues about the loss to Jacquelyn and the loss of his gold have gotten to him. This is an excellent performance from Disco, who slaps Saturn after Saturn slaps him, then tosses Saturn into the steps outside and in general turns it up in the ring. But what if even that’s not enough? Saturn is just a scrapper and seems to always find a way to turn it around. Still, Saturn misses a guillotine legdrop and Disco takes back over, which leads to them fighting outside. Disco backdrops Saturn into the Flock at ringside, then Chartbusters Lodi to a nice pop. This match is awesome, man, Saturn is taken aback by Disco’s aggressiveness. Saturn finds success with a neckbreaker to stem the tide of Disco offense, then a release pumphandle to follow up gets two. Saturn goes for a powerbomb, but Disco flips out of it into a CHARTBUSTER for three! Holy hell! That got a pretty big pop, and it deserved a nice pop. Great finish and somehow, they’re telling a Disco Inferno redemption story that has me gripped. Bonus: Raven’s gonna be PISSED when he returns to his Flock.


  • Buff Bagwell and Lex Luger lock it up again. Buff peacocks a whole lot; at one point, he claims that even Deion Sanders can’t cover him. Maybe not, but he sure can push you into the transfer portal. This match isn’t very long, but Luger is making a comeback and hits the bionic elbow when Scott Norton and Vincent come to ringside. Buff bails before Luger can put him in the rack, and when Luger follows outside, Vincent and Norton confront him. Luger hammers Vincent and gets in Norton’s face, but doesn’t see that Buff has gotten back in the ring and summarily gets counted out. Buff celebrates like he won the Super Bowl Big Game, a notion that Heenan shared at the exact same time that I typed those words. I guess I need to make a guest appearance in Dallas/The Giant Does Clichés.


  • Scott Hall comes to the ring to face Diamond Dallas Page. I guess Page and Kimberly got married because she’s all like Speaking of diamonds, look at this whopper on my hand! But without saying any of that. She just shows the diamond to the camera and points at it. Jim Kelly is into the whole DDP experience. DDP gets folks hyped! Page no-sells the toothpick and spits back at Hall.


  • There’s a nice opening exchange worked around the arm and shoulder that ends when Hall grabs the hair and tosses Page. Page gets the best of the next exchange, knocking Hall down after a barrage of punches. They trade clothesline attempts next, and Page wins that round with a clothesline and a two-count. Hall kicks out and hits a running lariat off a whip reversal, then follows up with a second-rope bulldog for two. The crowd is weirdly muted for what is a good bout so far.


  • Hall hits a fallaway slam for another two-count. He puts in some work on Page, who tries to reverse a Hall abdominal stretch with one of his own and gets hip tossed. Nice work to tease a typical spot, but not do it. Hall tries a Razor’s Edge, but gets backdropped. Page eventually gets on top and hits a pancake, but before he can hit a Diamond Cutter, the *sigh* nWo comes out and *sigh* Page gets destroyed. They do the Sting dummy a THIRD TIME, that’s a fucking FLOP, and no one likes it. I guess it’s a heel move, but it just irritates me. Hurry up, cut off the lights and have the whole nWo laid out. That won’t be enough to make up for another shitty flop Nitro main event, though. Oh, no, it's not the lights that they cut here, they just did a switcheroo and put the real Sting in the harness after dummy Sting crashed into/beneath the mat. Decent subversion, I guess. But...


  • ...DISBAND THE nWo, PLEASE. Also, Disco Inferno rules. 4 out of 5 Stinger Splashes.


Edited by SirSmUgly
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Show #119 - 15 December 1997

"The one where Bret HitG.O.A.T. Hart debuts in a segment with J.J. Dillon and Eric Bischoff, and it’s no wonder that WCW fell apart as a creative endeavor not long after this even if you look at a booking decision like that in isolation”

  • We’re in the Mid-Atlantic region for Nitro, Charlotte specifically, so this crowd should be hot.


  • Larry Z. is back and better than ever! He’s got a knack for making commentary better (not really). 


  • Sting couldn’t get his harness off last week, so he just punched everyone while wearing it. He even dropped a couple dudes with Scorpion Death Drops while wearing it. I like that he was like, Eh, no time to get unhooked, gotta beat up the whole nWo.




  • I’d like to one day work through a counterfactual for Bret Hart having a successful run in WCW before Vinnie Jr. bought the whole operation for pennies on the dollar.


  • The nWo comes to the ring. Vincent’s on the binoculars, looking for Sting in the catwalk. Chono’s here for some reason. I don’t know why. Bischoff shouts out Zane Bresloff, if I heard him right. Curt Hennig shits on Ric Flair. Hulk Hogan shits on Sting. He plans to search the whole building for Sting tonight. Nothing notable was said by anyone.


  • Oh man, it’s a three-hour Nitro. TOO LONG. Two hours is good, ninety minutes is perfect, three hours is rough.


  • We get back-to-back nWo ads/promos in which Hall and Nash are dismissive of Larry Z. and the Steiner Brothers, respectively. You maybe could let these guys do the speaking IRL instead of Hogan and Hennig, possibly?


  • We hear Flair’s remarks from last week about superior talent Bret Hart. Hart/Flair was not the thing I wanted when Bret came in. I wanted Hart/Sting and Hart/Hogan, in that order, and Hart/Sting was by far the ultimate possible dream match for me. Now as an older fan on a re-watch? I want Hitman/Eddy and I would love to see what the Hitman does with Disco.


  • Ray Traylor continues his one-man war on the nWo B-Team, and unless Vincent gets some help from his buddies, this shouldn’t be much of a task for Traylor. Vince jumps Traylor and gets some offense in before his attempt at a running double-axehandle gets turned into a spinebuster. Raven’s Flock takes  their ringside seats, and we see that instead of whatever allowed Vincent to get a bit of control after taking a beating for a couple of minutes. Traylor turns it around and hits the Boss Man Slam Traylor Trash (Tenay’s name for it, not mine). How about calling it the Traylor Hitch? That name’s not taken yet.


  • Disco Inferno is proud of himself for becoming a two-time TV Champ, and you know what, he should be! I am fully in on Disco figuring out the balance between dancing and winning, but he’ll be in stupid-ass skits with the Mamalukes not long from now instead. He’s defending tonight against Yuji Nagata. American wrestling fans like to dance goofily, so I think every company should have at least one dancing gimmick going at all times. Disco again shows fire as he returns Nagata’s early flurry with a flurry of his own.


  • So yeah, Disco’s struggle is staying focused. When he does, he’s surprisingly effective. When he doesn’t, he gets destroyed. He takes time to taunt and gets dumped outside, kicked around by Sonny Onoo, and overhead pumphandle suplexed back inside the ring. Nagata goes to work until Disco gets a reversal on a Nagata lariat attempt with an inverted atomic drop. Disco unloads, getting a couple of two counts, then struggles for a swinging neckbreaker that gets him another two count. Onoo, in desperation, jumps on the apron and grabs Disco, but Disco breaks away before Nagata can hit him. Disco Chartbusters Onoo, then hits a charging Nagata with a Stun Gun and Chartbusters him for three. The crowd is so happy for this dude finding a way to win. I’m serious, I didn’t expect to get drawn into the Disco Inferno story like this, but his journey from joke character to scrappy vet who finds ways to win is one of the best character development journeys that WCW has told in the Nitro era. It’s like a mid-card version of DDP’s development.


  • Eddy Guerrero booted Tenay and took his place at commentary. He wants to scout this Dean Malenko/Fit Finlay bout. Finlay and Malenko have a back-and-forth match, and I don’t even mind Finlay’s nerve hold because a) it’s short and b) Finlay works it, grabbing Malenko by the nostrils to pull him into a more secure position midway through. Finlay’s little bits of mean offense like stomping the fingers or slamming Malenko’s throat into the apron are some of my favorite things. Malenko’s good, too! I just really enjoyed Finlay on offense. Eddy’s shading Malenko the whole time on commentary, and when Malenko finally has Finlay in a bit of trouble, Eddy decides that it’s more important to interfere. Malenko catches Eddy with a forearm, but that leaves Malenko open for a Finlay Tombstone Piledriver that notches a win for Fit.


  • Now we get an nWo video about Piper getting beaten up, which signals that the latter is probably in the mix at Starrcade in a couple of weeks.


  • La Parka (in a snazzy black-and-gold outfit) and Psicosis tag up against Rey Misterio Jr. and THA JOOOOOOOCY ONE. I’m very into this! Juvi hits a Frankensteiner from the top to Psicosis standing in the ring, and in general does a lot of flashy stuff until outside interference leads to a heel control segment. Parka and Psicosis do some cool shit like hanging Juvi in the ropes and hitting a guillotine legdrop or just powerbombing the shit out of Juvi. Juvi avoids a double-team move and gets a roll-up for two, but Psicosis re-establishes control for the heels. Juvi eventually gets a hot tag after dodging a Parka corner splash and hitting Psicosis with a Juvi Driver. The hot tag rules and a bunch of cool moves happen, some of them double-team moves. We even get the rare heels reversing the faces on stereo Irish whips so that the faces crash into each other spot.


  • Then some more stuff happens at high speed and Rey gets stupid height on a splash and then there are stereo planchas by the faces and the crowd is enjoying this and also so am I. That last sentence hopefully replicates the breathlessness with which this all happened. Then there are more high spots including an assisted super-Frankensteiner; it’s all so crisp and looks great, but still crunchy and impactful. Juvi reverses a Psicosis top-rope body slam attempt into one of his own IN MID-AIR, like FUCK, and honestly my only complaint is that half these spots should have gotten three counts and not two counts. Eventually, Juvi hits a 450 for three, and that was some FUCKERY and SO MUCH FUN. Take some time out of your day to re-live this one if you need some pepping up through the magic of pro wrestling.


  • Arn Anderson makes a television appearance in Charlotte. Larry Z., our babyface hero against the nWo, uses Arn’s appearance to hate on women in general. Oh, Zbyszko, you scamp! Anyway, Arn misses the squared circle, but he doesn’t miss this chance to introduce his pal Ric Flair! For some reason, we’re all out here to give the Charlotte Police Department some sort of WCW award or donation or something? I blacked out because, uh, let’s say the sticky politics of policing have no place in pro wrestling (with the exception of Boss Man or the Mountie). The popo leaves and Flair and Arn stick around so that Flair can yell at and about Curt Hennig. Flair calls Hennig out for a fight later tonight.


  • WCW’s Jack Tunney AKA J.J. Dillon comes down to keep litigating this fucking Bischoff/Zbyszko Starrcade match even though I thought it was already made. Oh great, now Bischoff’s here to yell about being in this match. I guess Bischoff can still make demands, though? This is such STUPID build-up. So Bischoff asks for punches, kicks, and KOs to count – they already do, but I guess Bischoff wants closed fists to count? Dillon counters by agreeing, but only as long as submissions count. Um, did they not already count? They teased Hall/Zbyszko and then swerved us into this shit with Bischoff that I have zero interest in, whereas seeing Hall wrestle Larry Z. at least held a bit of intrigue.


  • Scott Hall, who I find to be an unequivocal bright spot on these shows, comes out and conducts a survey. He can’t possibly game these survey results, right? WCW is the clear winner of this survey, and Hall not only covers his ears in disgust at the cheers for WCW, he has to ask twice for a cheer from the nWo contingent in the crowd (one determined guy can be heard clearly yelling ENNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN DUBBBAYEWWWWWWWWWW OHHHHHHHHHHHH in a vain attempt to be heard in the sea of WCW fans). Anyway, Hall is a textbook heel and pretends that the nWo won the survey anyway.


  • Hall’s up against Chris Jericho in a Nitro rematch from Show #114. He tries to clothesline Jericho on the apron, but Jericho ducks it, knocks Hall’s head into the buckle, and then hits a sunset flip for two, followed by a small package attempt that gets two and a Lionsault that gets two. People should really stop trying to crossbody Scott Hall, though; he catches Jericho’s crossbody and summarily hits a fallaway slam. Hall is distracted by taunting the ref and gets rolled up for two, but he is able to retake control and hit a chokeslam. His chokeslam taunt kills me, as usual. Hall sets up Jericho for the Razor’s Edge and hits it, thus getting his win back from a few weeks ago. Hall throws up the WEST SIDE and shouts out Syxx into the corner camera. It was the ‘90s, you see.


  • nWo vid: The Giant gets beaten up and spray-painted a whole lot.


  • Meng and Mongo are up next. Goldberg, who hasn’t been on Nitro in forever, is finally going to finish the whole feud with Mongo at Starrcade. Speaking of that feud, Goldberg got a bit of revenge here by knocking Mongo out backstage before the match, as Mongo did to him at WW3. He botches the idiom “You mess with the bull, you get the horns” and then agrees to go fight Meng himself after J.J. Dillon commands it, but Mongo recovers enough to chase Goldberg down in the aisle and brawl with him. That was it. We didn’t get a match between any combination of these three wrestlers whom I enjoy.


  • Konnan and Scott Norton have earned (?) a shot at the WCW Tag Team Championship and the Steiner Brothers. Will the teams’ seconds at ringside, Vincent and Ted DiBiase, mix it up at some point during this match? Actually, I am weirdly excited about the prospect of heel Vincent/Virgil and face DiBiase having a light tussle.


  • The Steiners get jumped, but they clear the ring. The match proper starts with Scott Steiner not having that hard a time controlling Konnan. Scott Norton is in and is supposed to catch Rick and powerslam him, but he just falls backwards so it looks like Rick hit a successful splash. They just do the spots they were planning to do anyway, so Norton is up first and on the attack. BOOOOO, call an audible when you fuck something like that up. Rick finally plays FIP, but now the match is disjointed a bit. At least it ends shortly after when Vincent cuts off a Steiner Super Bulldog attempt with a boot to Scott’s gut. Ray Traylor comes out for the save. We didn’t even get DiBiase throwing a punch at Vincent. BOOO, this match sucked.


  • Booker T. claims that he's finna hurt somebody, and I am fixin’ to watch him do it. Booker is always reminding you that he’s not actually from Harlem every time he speaks because the Southerner in him comes out in his vocab. Scott Hall doesn’t even need to pop in and say that he’s actually from Houston. His opponent, from the nWo, is Randy Savage. Booker wins the early exchange with Savage, then follows him outside and throws a few soupbones that knock Savage over the rail. Book snapmares Savage back over the rail and generally dominates the guy. He misses an elbowdrop, but Spinaroonies up and hits a jumping side kick that puts Savage back outside.


  • Book misses a splash when he’s got Savage draped over the railing, and Savage wildly swings a chair shot that connects on follow-up to finally gain a foothold in this match. Savage hits a double-axehandle to Book outside and takes control. Some dude tries to run in during Savage’s control segment and gets kicked, tackled, and arrested. But you know, since Book starts his comeback right after that, I like to think that it kayfabe distracted Savage enough that he got countered as a result. Book dropkicks Savage into the ref, unfortunately, and Liz grabs Book’s foot as he goes up for the Harlem Hangover. That allows Savage to get up and hammer Book with a chair shot, then follow up with a Savage Elbow to scratch out a three-count after Liz revives the ref.


  • Whom shall the Flock send into the ring against Chris Benoit tonight? Raven’s not around tonight, either, or at least I don’t think so. It looks like Scotty Riggs. Riggs has been pretty darned good the past few weeks, so I’m cool with it. Riggs starts fast, but runs into a load of Benoit chops. Benoit drapes Riggs over the top rope, then follows up with more strikes. Benoit tries to poke Riggs in his good eye, but Riggs fights through it and takes control back. Riggs chokes Benoit, but he gets lazy and Benoit snapmares him and throws a few headbutts at him for good measure. The match goes outside and then back inside, where Benoit eventually drops Riggs face-first into the mat and then hits a flying headbutt. He takes time to jaw at the Flock and gets caught with a jawbreaker. Riggs tries to follow up with a suplex, but Benoit reverses that attempt into a Crippler Crossface and coaxes a submission out of Riggs. Then he jumps outside and cuts a shitty promo on Raven. He saves it by diving into the Flock and trying to fight them all, though, which ends up going poorly for him since it’s one-on-six. Saturn locks on the Rings of Saturn as Lodi holds up signs and the rest of the Flock mills about.


  • Sentient jar of mayonnaise and WCW Commissioner J.J. Dillon is back out here to talk to Gene Okerlund about Eric Bischoff. Dillon, this canned ham of a man, then shares with everyone his negotiation strategy: Just agree to do whatever Bischoff requests to make this match happen! Is Dillon a rib on actual WCW management's incompetence? He’s got to be, right? Bischoff comes out to negotiate the referee for the Starrcade match. Bisch wants an nWo guy, Dillon wants a WCW guy. Dillon eventually agrees to pick an nWo guy as referee as long as it’s his pick. His pick: The HitG.O.A.T. Bret Hart.


  • Boy, that knockoff of his WWF theme is AWFUL. That is a crime, WCW production. Take it back, make it better, do it again. They have Hart debuting here in Charlotte, which means that between his shitty music and the fact that Flair’s already sort of beefing with him, the initial response is muted. Bischoff is very excited about this choice, but Bret’s basically like that Mariah Carey I don’t know her GIF. He’s not into referee-engineered screwjobs (obviously), so he’s not going to be helping Bischoff out in that big match. Bisch is like, Yo, I paid you a lot of money to come to WCW, Bret, what the hell?! Bret is a bastion of clean competition (except for when he has to gouge a bigger man’s eyes or bite the bridge of their nose to get some space), so IDK what you were expecting, Bischoff.


  • They really debuted Bret by having him come out in Charlotte to talk about being a ref for a match between Larry Z. and Eric Bischoff. Mannnnnnnnn fuck you, WCW.


  • nWo reel of Luger getting beaten up a bunch.


  • Buff Bagwell comes out to Lex Luger’s music and takes Lex Luger’s interview time. Buff thinks he’s the best and Luger is a lame wuss, basically, and so Luger comes out to respond. Lex shouts out Annette in production and notes that the folks in production said that they’d be fine with clearing the rest of this segment for a match between the two. Buff’s like There’s no ref though but Luger’s like Haha, yes there is and then Buff turns around and sees Nick Patrick lurking. Then Buff’s like I’m like a fine automobile, I need to warm up before being pushed to the limit and Luger’s like What did the five fingers say to the face? That was COLD BLOODED. Anyway, the match starts after that little slap, and Luger dominates for about five straight minutes before Scott Norton and Vincent run down to stop Luger from racking Buff. Luger swats those two away, then turns around hits a reaction clothesline on a charging Buff that knocks Buff over the top rope, which is a fucking DQ in this company, I always forget that, so Buff wins on a technicality yet again.


  • nWo reel of Page getting beaten up a bunch.


  • The cameraman lingers on a trio of fans holding up signs that spell out NASH WAS OZ. I wonder what percentage of 1997 WCW fans remember anything about 1991 WCW midcarders? Then again, probably quite a few of them, at least in traditional JCP towns. Nash is getting some focused hate from this crowd even though he’s in absentia. There’s a giant NASH IS FAT sign on the hard camera that’s gotten a lot of play.


  • Curt Hennig comes out and accepts Ric Flair’s challenge, which is not what I expected. I expected another match against Page. I was thinking they’d get the belt off Hennig before the cage match at Starrcade. This is less a match than a segment in which the nWo immediately runs down led by Scott Hall and Flair clears them out until Hennig hits another belt shot on Flair to take over. Hennig destroys the ankle and locks the Figure Four on Flair, but DDP runs down for the initial save, followed by the Steiner Brothers. Page catches Hennig before he can escape and punches him a few times before Hennig can fully get away. Flair’s leg has been destroyed, though Page is feeling good and challenges Hennig to a match of his own. Two random dudes try to run in, so Pee Wee Anderson throws some boots and grinds a facelock into one whiskey-soaked jobber from the crowd.


  • The loss of face from Page et al. clearing them out just a couple minutes ago isn’t stopping Hulk Hogan and the nWo from coming out to jabber on at the end of the show! They decide to respond to Page’s challenge en masse. Page escapes into the stands while the nWo invades the ring. Hogan talks until the lights go out. We see Sting spotlighted in the catwalk for a few seconds before the lights come back on. Hogan yells challenges and threats until the lights go out again, at which point they come back on and Sting is standing at the top of the entryway. Sting finally decides to mosey on down to the ring as we cut to black.


  • This was a bloated and overlong show, but somehow, I still felt robbed of matches involving Meng or Page. At the same time, there’s so much good stuff in the midcard that a 1997 WCW three-hour show is going to be studded with high-quality segments. 4 out of 5 Stinger Splashes.






Edited by SirSmUgly
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Show #120 - 22 December 1997

"The one that swears me off of nWo Nitro 4 LIFE”

  • This is the last Nitro before Starrcade 1997. I feel like I’m on the precipice of a major shift, sort of analogous to Scott Hall showing up during a random Mike Enos match in 1996. This is also where my memory of WCW breaks down significantly until, weirdly, the makeshift booking team that brought WCW through 2000 and to its end. A lot of this is going to feel new to me.


  • Part of this is probably that Bischoff had a very clear plan that he followed to a fault for eighteen months, but I’m not sure he had anything like a working long-term plan after Starrcade. I’m not entirely looking forward to the chaos that’s about to follow.


  • We get an nWo interview, Eric Bischoff specifically, as he talks smack about Larry Zbyszko. It’s an alright promo, honestly. I’m well over heel Eric Bischoff, but this was fine. I will say that Bischoff probably shouldn’t have ever been on TV again post-Starrcade, though, like at some point Vinnie Jr. needed to lose to Austin and get shunted off TV (at least for a few years!) as a result.


  • Fit Finlay and Eddy Guerrero make for an interesting opener. Eddy goes right at Finlay’s leg. He even drops a hilo on it. He whiffs on a basement dropkick to it and flies right through the ropes, though, and when he gets back in, he misses a corner charge to compound his mistake. Finlay jumps on the opening and works Eddy, though I do not love the slingshot into a backbreaker move. It just looks awful; there’s no way that move isn’t worked. Like, of course, there’s no way an Irish whip or a Figure Four isn’t worked either, but those moves are such standard ones that my brain accepts them without breaking the immersion. Finlay continues to lay in strikes and use the apron as a weapon. Eddy spins out of a tilt-a-whirl and hits a basement dropkick, but he takes far too long to go up top and gets caught with a superplex. Eddy has to resort to an eye poke to get out of Finlay’s grasp, and that’s about when he decides that he’s good for the night. He heads up the aisle and takes the countout loss with pleasure.


  • Sack Master Kevin Greene gets some love for ick playing for the 49ers and ugh at least they lost to the Seahawks the night before this show, though only because they were resting guys for the 'offs.. Then again, who didn’t have the luxury of beating or resting guys against the hapless Seahawks throughout most of the ‘90s? I spent entirely too much of my childhood convinced that Chris Warren was actually a very underrated running back. R.I.P. Cortez Kennedy, you deserved so much better than you got. Also R.I.P. Kevin Greene, who I guess died in 2020?! How did I miss/forget that? Anyway, fuck the 49ers and I guess Kevin Greene (I mean 1997 Greene, not dead-in-2023 Greene, R.I.P), who is now a heel by virtue of playing for them.


  • The Giant gets a hype video. He cuts a promo that’s also perfectly cromulent as part of this video.


  • Hey, we’re getting that Mongo McMichael/Meng match that we didn’t get last show! Hooray! May these men go forth and clubber. Meng goes with a few chops, both knife-edged and overhand, before Mongo fights back with forearms and fists. He drops an elbow to the back of Meng’s head, then fires off a lariat. Meng reverses a whip and fights through a knee to the gut and boot to the face to powerslam Mongo. Meng follows up with a piledriver for 2.9. The men throw strikes at one another, but Meng gets the advantage and then hits a Frog Splash (!!!) that should get three, except that Meng pulls Mongo up for more punishment.


  • Meng dumps Mongo to the floor, where Jimmy Hart swings for the fences with a steel chair, but misses. Mongo chases Hart into the ring and ends up in a strikefest with Meng that Meng wins with a throat thrust. Hart tries to get involved by drawing the ref and then tossing a wooden chair in the ring. OK, OK, now get this: Mongo intercepts the wooden chair and hits Meng in the head with it. Meng stands there angry and goes GRAAAAAOH. Mongo, undeterred, grabs the metal chair that Hart swung at him earlier and clobbers Meng in the head with an unprotected head shot that I shouldn’t enjoy, except Meng stands there even angrier than before and goes GRAAAOHHAHAWRAHGAOOO. Mongo is like, Man, fuck this, and Mongo Spikes Meng, which finally keeps THA MONSTA down for three. Take a picture of that finish and put it in the Louvre, that was great. That whole match was great.


  • Gene Okerlund introduces Diamond Dallas Page. Flair is working that injury from last week's Nitro, so Page is getting Flair’s spot against Hennig at Starrcade. Wow, they just got Flair the fuck up out of that big spot after he ate two losses to Hennig (one DQ IIRC, in fairness). Page calls himself “Mr. Christmas, and that’s a shoot.” Ooh, he’s SHOOTIN’, fellas, what he’s saying now is REAL! But no, seriously, Page cuts a Christmas gift-themed promo that is so earnest that I’m fine with how corny it is. He’s even got a Christmas-themed shirt on. I bet Mick Foley would take issue with Page declaring himself “Mr. Christmas,” though.


  • More Giant/Kevin Nash build, this time a tale of the tape narrated by Mike Tenay.


  • La Parka, Psicosis, and Silver King come out here and just ham it up on their way to the ring. This is a trios tag, though I’d just prefer a two-on-two tag rematch from last week. Still, I’ll take this. Rey Misterio Jr., Juventud Guerrera, and Hector Garza are the opposing team. I mean no offense to Silver King or Garza, who are solid workers, but their addition doesn’t make for a better match than the week before. There are lots of moves, and I’m not going to list them all or anything, but Rey gets a pop when he’s finally tagged in, then another one for his rana from the top rope to the opponent standing on the mat. But I just don’t like trios matches in this style because there’s always one spot that’s obviously an immersion breaking spot, like everyone missing splashes one after the other (which happens in this one). I don’t want to hate too much because there is cool shit, like Parka hitting Juvi with a crossbody through the ropes while Juvi’s dazed and sitting in a chair. Also, Rey hits a poisoned rana and then a springboard rana in short order for the win, and that was great. But eh, no need for a lucha-style trios match. Those always come off as mere move exhibitions to this culturally ignorant writer rather than a structured match that tells a story of competition through proper escalation of offense.


  • Chris Benoit is irate about something or someone, probably Raven. The Flock arrived during the previous match and Raven’s not here tonight. Van Hammer is the next guy up to wrestle Benoit in Raven’s stead. Benoit gets a mic and declares that he’ll fight the whole Flock at the same time, as poorly as it went for him last week. Benoit quickly attacks Hammer’s leg, and does a fine job of controlling the match. He sends Hammer over the top rope to the floor, then hits a suicide dive and goes over to swing on Saturn. That gives Hammer a small window to get control, but Benoit is right back on him as they get into the ring. Then there’s a WILD spot where Hammer just flips Benoit from powerbomb position to back over his head; Benoit takes a nutty bump off that, crashing into the buckle and then the mat. Hammer sends Benoit outside, but eats apron on a reversed Irish whip. The Flock attacks as Benoit grabs a chair, and Riggs eventually distracts Benoit long enough for Saturn to hit a splash from behind; Saturn then locks on the Rings of Saturn in the ring. There was like a ton of intensity in this whole match, and it’s in that moment that I do understand why Benoit had fans at the time. Of course, physical charisma can only take you so far, but in bursts like the one he had for a seven-minute TV match, it’s almost overwhelming.


  • The nWo is in the process of chasing everyone at commentary away when we get back. I’m surprised Zbyszko went quietly, though then again, he might have left early and I missed it. So, yeah, the nWo is doing a test run for taking over Nitro. They make everyone put on nWo shirts. All the production dudes are terrible actors, even for pro wrestling.


  • Oh man, they’re really gonna tear down the set and make us sit through them tearing down the set, huh? This was okay when Hall and Nash just hung a shitty banner over the WCW Nitro logo, but now we’re watching dudes walk around and aggressively pass out t-shirts.


  • Suffice it to say that it took SEVENTEEN MINUTES between when the now came out for the teardown and Hogan finally getting to the ring to blather on after the set changeover. No, wait, Bischoff is going to blather on first. Oh no, they’re doing a whole Christmas gift thing where they all lather Hogan in praise and attention. Bischoff presents Hogan with a Harley. The juxtaposition of that and Nash being dressed like he’s from an East Los Angeles barrio sure is something! The tech riding out the Harley drops a GD live on TV: “Aw, wrong one, goddam!” I guess there are multiple Boomercycles backstage, and they couldn’t figure out which one to wheel out for this segment? Yeah, so the guy goes back and drives a SECOND motorcycle out; this one has Hogan’s face airbrushed on it. That production snafu cracked me up, honestly, though it was not at all worth this whole long-ass segment.


  • Wait, now there’s a third motorcycle? No, it’s just an open top stretch limo with waiters and two nWo ladies chilling in a hot tub. I don’t know, this whole thing is absurd, and while it is obviously bad television, at least in the margins, it was bad in a couple of very specifically funny ways.


  • We come back to J.J. Dillon, Rick Steiner, and Ted DiBiase attempting to have a productive conversation. I think they might have muddled through and successfully communicated with one another! Score one for Rick Steiner for being able to both understand language and respond in a way that was telligible (don’t spell check me on this, Microsoft Word, I’m starting a movement). Steiner comes out to wrestle Scott Norton. Everybody has to walk around the bikes, which are still in the middle of the ramp. Rick Rude and Eric Bischoff talk about Twin Cities-area dives that they got drunk in with Norton during this match. Rude also lends some clarity to why he'd join the nWo by being big mad that Sting broke his neck and ended his career. That was years ago, Rude, and the WCW International Championship was on the line. Fight harder next time. The match is perfectly cromulent for what it is. Konnan runs in just because, followed by Scott Steiner, Vincent, and Ray Traylor. DiBiase even throws a punch at Vincent! Finally, geez.


  • The nWo angle was actually shit after six months and would have been totally cooked if both Hall and Nash were ever out at the same time. As it was, at least 58 of those 82 weeks of WCW domination were just WCW powering itself off the fumes of what was initially a hot angle before Hogan and Bischoff ruined it by not finding a way to fit in with the times. I mean, at least drive a huge-ass truck like Austin instead of a bunch of Harleys!


  • Disco Inferno! He dances, then declares that “This place is a mess!” There are, in fact, flyers everywhere. Disco jaws at Lodi, who jaws back from his seat in the front row. Curt Hennig comes down for a champ vs. champ matchup. Disco grabs the U.S Championship from the ref and parades around with it and the TV Title. Slow your roll, buddy. Disco eats a standing dropkick that sends him outside. Hennig throws strikes at Disco in the aisle, then marches Disco back into the ring and attacks Disco’s ribs. Disco fires back, but doesn’t get much traction before eating a clothesline. Hennig keeps shutting down Disco comebacks, and it’s all sort of dull. Commentary is awful, especially Bischoff. Disco gets two off a swinging neckbreaker, but puts his head down and gets caught in a Perfect Plex for three.


  • Bobby Heenan comes out here and calls Eric Bischoff the Donald Trump of wrestling. See, that’s how you pretend to compliment someone while actually shading them, at least before about 2015 when this sort of comparison would be a naked insult. In Bischoff’s defense, he made WCW profitable at one time, which is more than Trump can say for any casino he’s ever run. So, Heenan prostrates himself in front of Bischoff, Rude, and Nash, and does a great job of looking like a craven doofus. They let him sit in for Nash on the desk.


  • In the ring, Harlem Heat face off with Lodi and Scotty Riggs. Bischoff forces Tenay to work PBP for him, and now between Tenay, Heenan, and Rude, we might have something that isn’t actively grating and shitty. Harlem Heat have very little trouble with the Flock members, who can’t really get anything going for long. Eventually, Riggs gives up and sits back down in his front row seat while Harlem Heat knock Lodi out with a Heatseeker. Can’t blame Riggs for getting sick of taking an ass beating in this extended squash.


  • Chris Jericho and Buff Bagwell have a so-so match with a couple of bright spots. Jericho again gets going early, knocking Buff to the floor on a springboard dropkick and going at him with strikes outside the ring. Buff struggles to keep control, but Jericho’s having a Start of Darkness and gets cocky, which ends up getting him knocked into the guardrail outside. We get a commercial break, and when we come back, Jericho fights up out of a chinlock and hits a crossbody for two before eating a clothesline. Buff runs some boilerplate heel control. Jericho finally gets free and earns a two-count on a floatover powerslam, but Buff gets in an eye poke and goes to work on Jericho’s back. He misses a badly telegraphed elbowdrop and then gets a Hot Shot/clothesline combo from Jericho, followed by a big backbreaker that earns a two count for Jericho. The finish is very nice: Jericho looks for a superplex, gets knocked off the ropes, runs back up and punches Buff into position for a super Frankensteiner, and gets blocked by Buff again. Jericho flips through it and lands on his feet, but in perfect position for Buff to follow up with a Blockbuster for three. That match was a plodding borefest when Buff was in control, but Jericho looked great, and the finish was excellent.


  • The nWo comes down to gab again and give Hogan a bunch more  presents. It sucks. What else is there to say?


  • Randy Savage and Lex Luger are the main event. This back half of what is a three-hour show has really taken it out of me, and I can’t even get up for a matchup I’d normally look forward to. This is a total misstep for a go-home show before your biggest show in WCW history. The idea of teasing nWo Nitro makes sense, so I’m not saying that the whole idea is pointless, but the way it’s been executed has been dreadful. It’s boring, not heat-garnering. On top of that, I feel like maybe doing this two weeks before Starrcade would have been better. Your go-home show shouldn’t go down the “let’s experiment” path unless that experiment is a surefire winner. I do remember originally starting this show and then never coming back after the nWo changeover and just watching RAW. That RAW had the joke Shawn Michaels/HHH match for the European Championship which I found hilarious (I was a teenager, sue me) and which the build during the show to tease DX possibly exploding really worked for me. I don’t even think it was a good show overall, but I was very into post-Screwjob WWF at the time.


  • So anyway, Buff and Nash run down and attack Luger, leading to a Savage Elbow for three.


  • Hogan and Bischoff come out to talk some more to end the show. Hogan says STING SHALL BE STUNG for the 67th time in the past three weeks. Some tech brings down a gift that Bischoff didn’t actually get for Hogan. Bret Hart’s chilling in the nWo limo with the nWo girls. I guess it’s his gift? Anyway, it’s just a model of Hogan’s face that Hogan screams at theatrically. You’ve seen this GIF before. It’s DUMB. Also, Sting ziplines into the ring, Shawn Michaels-at-WM-12 style.


  • I’m sure that Vince McMahon took a peek at this show and knew for a fact that he’d be passing up these bums at WCW by the middle of 1998 at the latest. 2.5 out of 5 Stinger Splashes.
Edited by SirSmUgly
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The HHH-HBK still made me laugh at the time and still makes me laugh. The exaggerated rope-running still makes me chuckle.

The one that really angered me (at the time) was when DX promised two new members and I had to go out and when I came home I asked my 10-ish year old brother who they were and he went "Uh, you should probably just watch" and it turned out it was Chyna's new breast implants.

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Starrcade ’97 notes:

  • The Starrcade theme is an obvious FFVII battle theme knockoff, and you can’t convince me differently.


  • I forgot that they try to set up the Nick Patrick, Heel Ref thing again at the top of this show by having his name be drawn as the ref for the main event before he does the fast count that's not really a fast count. Oh man, they STILL saw money in Nick Patrick, Heel Ref! They thought that this was a good idea! Man, fuck off.


  • I’m sorry to be crabby, but Nitro’s main event scene has been woefully inefficient for most of the year, and I know we’re headed for the ultimate main event booking fuck up, I don’t care how pasty or flabby or drugged up Sting was.


  • Kevin Nash isn’t in the building tonight, I assume because he didn’t want to do the J-O-B. He pulled a Fred Sanford, I think. Well, that caps off the utter mishandling of the Giant after his face turn at the beginning of the year.


  • Eddy Guerrero and Dean Malenko have a damned fine match. Malenko at one point drills Eddy with a headscissors counter into a powerbomb, followed by a nasty flapjack and then a great powerslam. I love that Malenko goes to throwing big bombs at Eddy early to go for the quick KO. Eddy logically slows it down, but man, whenever he gets in a little trouble, Malenko tries to bury him with a nasty move. So, slowing it down doesn’t work; Eddy tries kowtowing, which doesn’t work either. Eddy finally gains a foothold in the match by busting up Malenko’s leg and targets it going forward, which pays off when he attacks the knee to avoid a Texas Cloverleaf attempt and then to set Malenko up for a successful Frog Splash to retain his title.


  • Scott Hall comes to the ring to conduct a survey and let the crowd know that Kevin Nash has indigestion, so he’s not here tonight. Sometimes we forget, in the furor over the finish to the main, that we got fucking RIPPED OFF with this match. I was genuinely looking forward to it. All we get is the Giant powerbombing Hall in what isn’t even a match. I mean, it’s a good powerbomb! But still.


  • Randy Savage gets on the card as part of the six-man tag, replacing Konnan. He’s teamed with Norton and Vincent against the Steiner Bros. and Ray Traylor. It’s fine, I guess, but this thing is heatless. That’s partly because this should be the Steiners finally getting a clean win over Hall and Nash. But since I guess Nash isn’t doing jobs right now, that logical booking was impossible anyway. Savage gets a big pop for dropping a Savage Elbow on Scott Steiner for the win, though. The Savage Elbow rules. Did we not have a better use for Randy Savage on the card than this? He’s still way over.


  • J.J. Dillon announces the ref for the main event. I would like to point out, just in case people have forgotten, that even if Patrick had actually fast-counted the pin, I feel confident that we’d all still hate the finish to that match. The only good worked screwjob finish was in the main event of Survivor Series ’98. That’s it.


  • At least Goldberg and Mongo are here! They start their match by brawling, continue it by pounding on each other and doing power moves, and end it with a Jackhammer. Mongo even takes a bump through a table that garners a weak ECW chant. It’s a bit awkward in places, as you’d guess considering the experience level of these fellas, but I enjoyed it well enough. Goldberg’s gotta tighten up on that legbar, though.


  • Raven wanders idly down the aisle like he’s looking for the restroom and turned down the wrong corner. He does his speechifying in which he’s against conformity and corporate structure and stuff, and so he’s not going to wrestle Benoit at all. He’ll let Saturn handle all that shit for him. Oh no, Benoit’s going to talk. Oh no, it’s really bad. Shut the fuck up and wrestle. This is so bad, I won’t even try to summarize it. It sucks. TALK LIKE A HUMAN BEING, YOU WEIRDO. The match is solid, at least, though the Flock just interferes liberally and the ref doesn’t do anything about it. I guess it’s being fought under Raven’s Rules, even if apparently none of the other matches between Benoit and Flock members were and Raven’s not actually wrestling in this thing. Saturn busts out a springboard moonsault that the crowd is pretty tame about! I was pleasantly surprised by him busting that out. Saturn has a long period of control, but whiffs on a moonsault. Benoit finally gets to confront Raven, but Van Hammer hits Benoit from behind, and a combination of a Raven Evenflow DDT and a Saturn Rings of Saturn ends the match. This feud is strange, in that it’s started because Raven doesn’t feel like wrestling Benoit. OK, Benoit, move on, the guy doesn’t even have anything you want (like a title).


  • Buff can boast all he wants, but he’s aware that he’s overmatched against Lex Luger. He calls for Vincent to back him up after taking an early beating, and he relies on misdirection and distraction to get control of the match. Buff’s control of the match is incredibly boring, though. I’d much rather have these two teaming up than wrestling one another. This match sorta stunk, honestly. We’re a long way from that awesome Giant/Luger match from last year’s Starrcade for both men. There’s a ref bump and tons of interference leading to a fuck finish in favor of Buff. Bleh.


  • Curt Hennig’s control segment in his match against Diamond Dallas Page is slightly more intense than Buff’s was in the last match, but this match should be worked with more hatred considering that these two men have been beefing practically since Hennig came into the company. Hennig works it too much like a typical cheating heel trying to keep his gold and not enough like a guy with total disdain for Page who wants to prove a point about Page being a total zero. It’s not a good match, either, but at least there’s the catharsis of DDP hitting a Diamond Cutter and winning his second title (since as I recall, WCW commentary counted the Battlebowl ring as a title, hahahahaha, and the desk duly notes that it’s Page's first MAJOR title). I dig that DDP’s Diamond Cutter - he uses a floatover version of the move in this match - is so quick on the trigger that the nWo doesn’t even conceivably have a chance to come down and save Hennig.


  • The general thread for this month was talking about the Hitman and opining on what it would have been like if he’d stayed in WWF. I think there’s a lane for success for the Hitman throughout the rest of the Attitude Era as a disdainful, moralistic heel, though I’m not sure he would have eventually embraced that gimmick or the company’s direction. On the other hand, I’ve been trying to think of a lane to success for Bret Hart in WCW, and I’m not sure that I see one. I think his best chance of being used reasonably well is with Vince Russo in charge, but there’s no version of Russo that lasts in a top creative position even if Russo would theoretically use him well. What I know for a fact, though, is that debuting Hart as a referee in Eric Bischoff vs. Larry Zbyszko when Savage and Flair were both RIGHT THERE as potential debut opponents should be a fucking crime, a literal, put-Bisch-in-Leavenworth crime.


  • Speaking of this match, why didn’t we get Scott Hall up against Larry Z.? Bisch has probably explained why at some point, but this fucking SUCKS. Hall was the guy who started this thing, Hall presents an actual interesting matchup for Zbyszko, and Bischoff has been up in the videos way too damn much, especially lately. I’m going to make an argument that this is actually the worst match on the card for this reason. It’s not good aesthetically, but beyond that, the only guy who should be anywhere near the ring for this match is Zbyszko. This stinks.


  • Hall’s actually out here as Bischoff’s second, so let me amend that to say that he should be not only near the ring, but in it. Still, you hopefully get my point. This match is worked around Bret breaking holds that any half-decent ref should break and everyone on commentary going WOW I CAN’T BELIEVE THAT BRET’S CALLING THIS MATCH LEGIT, IS HE nWo OR WHAT?! Look, I’ll leave it at that, you know how I feel about this thing. Wait, no I forgot to shit on the object loaded in Bischoff’s shoe flying out in front of everyone when he throws a kick. So yeah, the Hitman says Fuck it and works over Bisch and Hall, and then Larry takes Bisch to Larryland with, uh, a gi choke, I guess? Is that the end of the match? Even WCW’s big win is visually muddled. OK, I take it back, I’ll continue to shit on this match. It was terrible and a waste of almost everyone involved.


  • Well, at least this Sting entrance rules and is the best. Sting/Hogan happens, and is fine, but the terrible and confusing finish overshadows whatever solid work is in there. Then again, what's good is bare and Hogan probably takes a touch too much of the match besides. But you know, in that moment the crowd accepted the poorly-done restart and Sting winning, so maybe I'm being harsh here. Then again, I think that in the moment, it's easy to ignore how bad that all was, but after you leave the arena or cut the TV off, you probably have it settle in on you how crappy that was. Sting yells something about Mamacita as though he's playing Joan Crawford in Feud: Bette and Joan. Eh, was that too much?


  • Shambolic card, IMO. It’s the opposite of Starrcade ’96, a card that went harder than one might expect. That card picked up steam as it went along. This card? Well, the opener was very good, and it was a complete nosedive in quality from there. I feel like people focus on the end to the main event and don’t do enough to talk about how shitty the whole card is, a spectacular failure for a card that Bischoff had been building to for eighteen months. Is ’96 the last very good (or better) Starrcade card?












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man, i thought that nWo Nitro was super cool when it went down live in '97. i was (and still am) a hardcore nWo-ite, so it was fresh and exciting to see what would happen. When i rewatched it a few years ago, it bored me to tears and was just absolute dogshit television.

re: Starrcade

i've said my piece about the finish so many times that i won't get into that, but what nobody really talks about was how badly downgraded this card was vs. what it was supposed to be. Nash/Giant doesn't happen. Benoit/Raven doesn't happen and just turns into another Benoit beatdown. Flair/Hennig in a cage turns to DDP/Hennig with no cage. Hall/Zybszko shifts to Bischoff/Zybszko.  Every single one of those is worse off. and yeah, how Savage doesn't have a match booked is monumentally stupid. No Harlem Heat, no Rey Mysterio, no Jericho. but at least we got Vincent.

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I will say I THINK that Bret wasn't able to work at Starrcade with his broken hand/wrist that he got from punching Vince McMahon. 

I'm not excusing the tepid "Referee Bischoff and Zybysko" storyline, but I don''t think he was quite healthy enough to have an actual match.

The better play would have been to have the NWO teasing him as their secret weapon against Sting, ref bump, Hart comes out and nails Hogan after teasing like he's going to wipe out Sting, Sting wins. Then you can still do the Hogan revenge tour because Sting didn't beat him clean.

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33 minutes ago, caley said:

I will say I THINK that Bret wasn't able to work at Starrcade with his broken hand/wrist that he got from punching Vince McMahon. 

I'm not excusing the tepid "Referee Bischoff and Zybysko" storyline, but I don''t think he was quite healthy enough to have an actual match.

The better play would have been to have the NWO teasing him as their secret weapon against Sting, ref bump, Hart comes out and nails Hogan after teasing like he's going to wipe out Sting, Sting wins. Then you can still do the Hogan revenge tour because Sting didn't beat him clean.

Just my perspective, but I think teasing Bret as nWo didn't work for me even then because I thought there was no way he was coming in as a heel. 

I'd rather just hype Bret showing up for after Starrcade if the case is that he can't work there and maybe get a win over Hall or Savage to get him going. Ultimately, if you're not doing anything interesting with Bret at the show beyond "guest ref," hold him back for the night after because the card didn't need him.

I also would have gone the opposite direction and had Sting wipe Hogan out. Sting should have taken sixty percent of that match, cut off almost every attempt at Hogan control within a minute, and powered out of the legdrop at one. None of these matches needed ref shenanigans or control-of-Nitro stakes or anything like that, IMO. I just wanted Sting to dominate Hogan and win the gold and Hall to get beaten by the old guy he thought he could bully, but who still had a little bit left in the tank. 

Bisch was too in love with complexity on a show where the blowoffs needed to be clean and clear the decks. 

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20 minutes ago, SirSmUgly said:

I also would have gone the opposite direction and had Sting wipe Hogan out. Sting should have taken sixty percent of that match, cut off almost every attempt at Hogan control within a minute, and powered out of the legdrop at one. None of these matches needed ref shenanigans or control-of-Nitro stakes or anything like that, IMO. I just wanted Sting to dominate Hogan and win the gold and Hall to get beaten by the old guy he thought he could bully, but who still had a little bit left in the tank. 

I don't even know if I would've given Hogan 40% of the match. Hogan had been getting out of everything for a year and a half, if Sting had shown up and done what was tantamount to a five minute squash, would anyone have been upset? It'd never happen, but in a perfect world, Sting coming in and utterly obliterating Hogan would've been perfect.

Re: Kevin Nash, I dunno, I buy his excuse for him not being there. He's been honest enough about when he's been selfish and not wanting to job but he's always held firm to the "I thought I was having a heart attack and my father died young so I thought it was happening to me too" story. There are plenty of things to ding Nash on but I'd be willing to give him a pass there.

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12 minutes ago, Sparkleface said:

I don't even know if I would've given Hogan 40% of the match. Hogan had been getting out of everything for a year and a half, if Sting had shown up and done what was tantamount to a five minute squash, would anyone have been upset? It'd never happen, but in a perfect world, Sting coming in and utterly obliterating Hogan would've been perfect.

Re: Kevin Nash, I dunno, I buy his excuse for him not being there. He's been honest enough about when he's been selfish and not wanting to job but he's always held firm to the "I thought I was having a heart attack and my father died young so I thought it was happening to me too" story. There are plenty of things to ding Nash on but I'd be willing to give him a pass there.

I agree with both of these. I think an extended squash would have been perfect in the main event, but Hogan ain't doing that.

I posted this in the Starrcade retrospective thread, but I also can get there with Nash being aware of his family history and going to the hospital because of that. I've had a similar experience before. It can be scary! 

(I'm still skeptical about Nash having a "heavy leg workout" the night before, at least according to Bisch. But everything else is certainly believable.)

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Show #121 – 29 December 1997

"The one that gives away a rematch for free well before the PLE era makes that a remotely reasonable play”

  • Sting found a way to win at Starrcade even though he didn’t have a tan and his arm muscles were big, but not as big as they could have been. Sure, he lost before he won, but ignore all that.


  • The last thing I’ll say about Starrcade is that it was so bad, it dampened my excitement for WCW even over 25 years later. But I started this, and if I can commit to watching a Russo-produced show, I can watch this.


  • So, Tony S., hold up here, manages to introduce Larry Z., dunk on nWo fans, and also achieve corporate synergy: “And let me say this, Larry…for you 18 to 25 [year old] young men who still live with your mom, who don’t have a job, who are nWo fans, let me suggest the Cartoon Network, I’m sure Space Ghost: Coast to Coast is still on.”


  • I can’t even begin to unpack that quote, but now I just feel rage at David Zaslav for taking Space Ghost: CtC off of MAX. Fuck David Zaslav.


  • Tony S. is on one this week. Calm down, buddy. He points out that the U.S. and World Championships are back in WCW hands and Nitro is still in WCW’s possession too. Man, I should feel more cathartically about all that, being a guy who likes backing losers (hey, I’m a Seattle sports fan) and who was rooting for WCW.


  • Glacier comes out to get squashed by Goldberg. Now that’s how you start a show! Glacier’s on a path toward heeldom and starts the match out aggressively, but after a few opening kicks, he gets powerbombed, speared, and Jackhammered. It ruled. The crowd agrees with me.


  • Gene Okerlund talks to Bret Hart in the ring. There’s a “Hogan fears a Hart attack” sign, and oh man, do I want to see that match on a major PPV. But no! I think we only get it like once in 1998 or 1999 and there’s not even a proper finish, IIRC. The Hitman cuts an okay promo about his actions at Starrcade. He lists off a bunch of people, some of whom I would like to see in a match with Hart (Giant, Benoit, Sting) and also one who I’m, like, good with already (Luger). Then he lists some nWo dudes on his hitlist and calls out Hogan at the end, and YES PLEASE. He refers to the Hogan match in 1993 that never happened and is ready for it to happen now. I sure wish WCW had actually made more of these dream matches that they had on deck for 1998.


  • Raven grabs a mic and, from his seat in the crowd, craps on Chris Benoit. He says that Benoit is a “masochist” with “serious psychological damage.” Is this a shoot?! Raven sends Van Hammer to the ring to wrestle Benoit. Benoit doesn’t even make it down the ramp because he dives over the rail and into the Flock to fight them. It goes poorly; they dump Benoit back over the rail for Hammer to beat on. Larry Z.: “Hammer’s not that great of a wrestler, but he’s a big, strong guy…” I guess this IS a shoot. Hammer gets a nice superplex off, but whiffs on a corner charge and takes a nice bump off the miss. Hey, he should get a little more credit for being better than he used to be. Benoit immediately locks on the Crossface, and the Flock hit the ring to stomp Benoit out. Mongo McMichael comes down for the save! Hey, that rules! Good to see the Horsemen backing each other up even though their group is currently disbanded. I loved all of this and am interested in Benoit and Mongo vs. the Flock.


  • Ric Flair walks that aisle, but only a few feet, to talk to Gene Okerlund. Flair’s excited about WCW post-Starrcade. Flair points out that Bret Hart didn’t seem interested in wrestling Flair – and in fact, Bret didn’t mention his name in that earlier promo. Flair pulls out some column from the Baltimore Sun and I guess Dave Meltzer is now a trusted name in pro wrestling to these fellas because Flair points out that Meltzer, according to this article, thinks that Flair is the greatest. As someone who thinks that Dave Meltzer has, uh, not the same taste in wrestling that I do, that citation didn’t do much to burnish Flair’s claim to greatness with me.


  • Eddy Guerrero jumps Ultimo Dragon from behind instead of doing things like facing his opponent eye-to-eye in the ring and locking up with him fairly. That stuff is for chumps. Guerrero drags Dragon to the ring and hits a powerbomb, but Dragon cuts off a superplex attempt, though Guerrero recovers with a tornado DDT immediately. Guerrero looks for another powerbomb, but Dragon slips out into a Dragon Sleeper and gets the submission to become the new Cruiserweight Champion in what might be record time. WOW. I’m bummed about this. No offense to Dragon, but Eddy’s been on fire the past few months. Eddy jumps Dragon after the bell, but it’s a bit too late for all that!


  • Nuclear heat machine Eric Bischoff comes out to carry Hulk Hogan through an interview and really provide the sort of pure, unfiltered heel heat that we haven’t seen very much of in WCW lately. Hogan, who has an even tan and is obviously championship material for this reason, is big mad about losing the gold. Hogan’s complaints are partially drowned out by a WE WANT STING chant. Anyway, since Dillon said that Nick Patrick was the referee last night, Hogan and Bischoff are calling foul and don’t think the match last night was any faaaaaaiiiiiiiiirrrrrr, it’s not faaaaaaaaaiiiiiiirrrrr, and so we’re going to end up getting an immediate rematch on Nitro tonight because who needs all that PPV money from selling a rematch, anyway?


  • Bobby Heenan pulls a George Costanza and tries to get his job with WCW back by just showing up even after he pretty much quit to join the nWo last week. It’s a bold move, Cotton, let’s see how it works out for him: Actually, it works out really well! Hey, I guess if you’re persistent enough bullshitter, people just roll their eyes and give you a pass. Tony S. says, “And now you’re back with WCW?!” It’s an astonished question, but Heenan takes it as a statement of fact and says, “Thank you.” By the end of this segment, Heenan’s talked himself into the idea that he's a hero. You know, Heenan and Costanza have a ton of similarities as characters, really. No wonder they’re both such beloved characters.


  • Diamond Dallas Page comes out to defend his U.S. Championship against Mortis. The Jersey Triad pre-explodes and all that. Man, these dudes have a pacey opening that just looks great. Mortis punches DDP in the junk in desperation and hits a sit-out facebuster that gets a nice OOHWAHHH from the lively crowd in Baltimore. Mortis beats Page down in the corner, but his celebrating fires DDP up. Mortis is able to stuff that Page flurry with a regular old facebuster. He then hits another facebuster variant, which I don’t even know what to call that one. Page gets a rollup for two, but eats a kick and has to kick out at two himself. Mortis picks page up and totes him to the corner to hit a second-rope Samoan Drop, but Page wriggles out on the way there and hits a Diamond Cutter for three. He punches James Vandenberg, grabs his gold, and escapes into the crowd to celebrate. All in all, great night for Page!


  • There’s nothing to drag down a show like an interview with J.J. Dillon, who gets booed from the quarter of the crowd that cares enough to react. Okerlund: “Obviously, J.J.’s got a lot of fans here.” Oh, Gene. Dillon lets us know that Sting has agreed to defend against Hogan in the main event, which is the first time any of his attempts at warming up to the crowd during this interview actually land.


  • Disco Inferno versus Booker T for the WCW Television Championship is a match booked just for me. Booker is pretty over as a face, honestly. I don’t know when he formally turned face, but he’s high-fivin’ and raising the roof. Disco dances. The crowd boos. Booker raises the roof. The crowd cheers.


  • Booker gets an early two-count off a back elbow. He misses an elbow drop, Spinaroonies up while Disco dances, and hits Disco with a side kick that takes him outside. Disco tries his hardest, but his reversal of a whip gets reversed, and Disco is sent into the railing. Disco can’t get anything going until he draws Booker over while getting back in the ring and draping Booker’s throat over the ropes in a mini-Chartbuster. He clotheslines Booker to the floor and then finally gets that Irish whip of Booker into the railing to come off. Booker is able to get a rollup for two, but Disco jams a thumb into Book’s eye to break it. Disco follows up with a back elbow for a two-count of his own. Disco hits a knee to the gut, but decides to dance a bit and only gets two on that cover. Booker fights out of a chinlock, but eats a swinging neckbreaker that only gets two for Disco. Disco’s feeling cocky, which is a bad sign for him, and sure enough, Booker comes back one more time and drops Disco with a side slam and a Harlem Hangover to win the TV title. I’m so happy! I’m an unabashed Booker T. mark, sorry. Stevie Ray comes into the ring to celebrate with him, and I’m already upset and embittered about the coming feud over the letter “T” and Booker coming back as G.I. Bro. FUCK


  • J.J. Dillon is back out here to tell us that the nWo hasn’t responded to Sting's offer of a title shot yet, but that’s just because massive heat-getter Eric Bischoff comes down to respond in front of everyone. The crowd is dripping with molten hatred for Bischoff; if it doesn’t sound like that to you as you watch this, it’s probably just audio mixing issues. Anyway, he accepts on behalf of Hogan, but you can barely hear him talk because of all the booing, except that actually, you can actually hear him speaking very clearly. But again, audio mixing issues. Trust me, the crowd was inflamed with hatred. 


  • Rick Rude escorts Curt Hennig down to the ring to face Chris Jericho. Sorry to be like commentary and not talk about this match while it happens, but Tony S. said something so absurd on commentary, claiming (and I paraphrase): Did you see everyone jump out of their seats after Sting/Hogan was announced for tonight? It’s obvious that they all ran to the phones to call their friends watching Nitro at home and ask them if they heard what Dillon just said. Nitro-era Tony S. has net-negative credibility, which I (and many people) think is much more of a problem than it seems like Bischoff thought it was at the time. OK, yeah, the match in the ring. Jericho tries his hardest, but whiffs on a Lionsault that he didn’t even turn over on, he just landed on his back, and Hennig follows up with a Perfect Plex for the win. The notable thing, though, is that Jericho throws a temper tantrum after losing. Aw yeah, whiny conspiracy theorist Jericho is on the way! And in 1998, he doesn’t need to host a podcast to get that gimmick over, either!


  • The commentary desk does a bunch of super-irritating fake laughter while Scott Hall comes to the ring. A sign on the rampway asks DDP to give the sign holder fellatio in quite the creative way (something about inviting Page to an all-you-can-eat buffet three feet south of the mouth). I don’t think that’s the best way to ask someone to have sexual relations with you, but okay. Also, *sigh* it was the ‘90s. Hall talks about how much he loves Baltimore, which gets a pop. You’re a heel, my dude. The crowd takes the survey, and do they love chanting along with Hall even though they seem like a crowd partisan to WCW. Then again, maybe not so much considering the results of this survey. Hall ends this segment by assuring us that the nWo is here to stay, which is the first heelish thing he’s said all promo.


  • Buff Bagwell, seconded by Scott Norton, is excited to be here after picking up another tainted victory over Lex Luger. Buff runs down Luger on the mic. Actually, he does a Seuss-style poem. Let me present it to you:


Lex Luger, you can’t beat Buff on TV/

Lex Luger, you can’t beat Buff 1-2-3/

Lex Luger, you didn’t beat Buff in D.C./

And Lex Luger if you want some more/

Let’s do it in Baltimore/


  • I mean, is this not art?


  • Luger comes down for a rematch that I have zero interest in. Listening to the Starrcade episode of 83 Weeks, Conrad cited Meltzer’s review of their Starrcade match, and here I’ll paraphrase Conrad paraphrasing Meltzer, Meltz said that it was bad because Buff isn’t good enough to carry Luger. Meltz was right about it being bad, but was wrong about why it was bad. Buff is a shitty heel in the ring, at least in a long singles match. In a short TV match or as part of a tag, he’s pretty good, but his repetitive and dull heel control segments in long matches are the problem, not Luger. Luger doesn’t need to be carried at this point. Maybe in ’99-’00, he needs to be carried more, but even at that point, I remember thinking Luger was a good heel who knew what he was doing in the ring even if he wasn’t doing 450 Splashes or whatever nonsense the Wreddit and Cageside Seats types think that you should do to be a “good wrestler.”


  • Buff jumps Luger at the start of the match, but Luger ducks a Blockbuster attempt. Luger comes back, hits a powerslam, knocks Norton off the apron, and Torture Racks Buff for the win. That was a much better match than Starrcade, but it was also about four minutes long. Luger declares that he’s coming for Randy Savage next, which makes sense considering Savage was the reason that Buff was able to win at Starrcade.


  • They drag Michael Buffer out to introduce Sting/Hogan, which I know the ending of already not because I remembered it from years ago, but because listening to the aforementioned 83 Weeks episode reminded me of what it was. I guffawed when Conrad noted that the match didn’t have an ending on TV because the show ended before the finish. Oh, WCW.


  • I’ll probably cite that interview again at points, especially when I get to SuperBrawl. Anyway, Sting did get a tan between last night and his entrance tonight, at least, so he definitely looks more like a guy who should be champion and not some pasty jobber like Bryan Danielson or someone like that who could never be champ. Hogan jumps Sting before the bell and clobbers him with his own belt. There’s a large HOGAN SUCKS chant in the crowd, which is hot for this. Hogan soupbones Sting, but Sting’s not really interested in that shit and makes a comeback. The crowd fucking EXPLODES. Hogan bumps to the floor, and Sting follows him and knicks him around at ringside for a bit. Sting rolls until Hogan jabs Sting’s eye with a thumb. Hogan hits a couple of knife-edge chops, then follows up with a lariat that gets two. Hogan hits a big boot that also gets two. Sting does that cool spot where he shoulderblocks the guy down and then “accidentally” falls over and headbutts his fallen opponent in the nads. Hogan’s up first, though, and tries to hit the legdrop after a body slam, but Sting moves. Sting’s up and stomps Hogan’s fingers, then hits one Stinger Splash. He goes for a second, and Hogan pulls the ref in front of him, who gets sandwiched and FOLKS WE’RE OUTTA TIME


  • Boy, how do I score this Nitro? It had a lot of fun stuff in the midcard, but the main event not finishing during the actual airing puts quite the damper on how I feel about this thing. I think I’ll let my good feelings about this show outweigh the less good ones, though. 4 out of 5 Stinger Splashes.
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Show #122 – 05 January 1998

"The one that sets up a lot of interesting pushes for mid-card guys (and then has commentary ignore these guys during their matches)"

  • Yeah, one time, y’all/Throw your hands up high, y’all/Yeah, get down, y’all/Let me see you all, y’all/1998, y’all/Hah, get down, y’all/Let’s have a ball, y’all


  • 1998 brings us a new year, a new Thursday show that I’ve got to figure out how to recap without adding another decade's worth of me posting in this thread, and a new World Champion, except not that last one because we are going to take the dumbest route possible to a finish that should have happened at Starrcade in the first place. But more about that later!


  • The nWo rolls up to the Georgia Dome in limos to start the show. Exciting!


  • Tony S. teases the end of last week’s match that he says he can’t show (because of a court injunction, no less), of course. We do get video of the very end of the show, though. Yeah, remind me how irritated I was that y’all cut the tape during the finishing run.


  • It’s J.J. Dillon. How exciting! So, look, this company will soon hold up the WCW World Championship so they can run Sting/Hogan at SuperBrawl with a finish where Sting clearly and cleanly wins the gold. Bischoff already has ZERO main event/nWo direction post-Starrcade. It sure doesn’t help that we’ve got another Souled Out to trudge (?!) through between now and then. Dillon says that the judge has been nice enough to let WCW show the end of last week’s match on Thunder this week, which is a fucking audacious promotional tactic. They’re also going to show video of the Starrcade finish, including that normal, not-fast three count, which they should absolutely never show again on television because, you know, seeing it reveals that Sting lost that match straight up. Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck me.


  • Chris Jericho seems to have a chair and a suit jacket in his hands as he comes down. He gets on the mic and apologizes for last week's post-match tantrum, but of course, he’s deluded about how important he is as a figure of esteem to this crowd. Jericho offers Penzer the chair and jacket as a make good for ripping Penzer’s jacket and taking his chair last week. It’s probably not going much better for Jericho this week, though, as Diamond Dallas Page comes to the ring as his opponent. Page wins an early exchange, and Jericho magnanimously offers a handshake, which Page accepts. Jericho wins the next exchange and shakes hands with Page again. Jericho yanks the hair to win another exchange, then chastises himself for cheating as much as the ref does. He offers his hand again, but uses it to get an armbar on Page. Page works to his feet, so Jericho throws a kick that Page catches. Page spins Jericho around into a Diamond Cutter and gets three. When Jericho eventually wakes up, he has himself quite the meltdown!


  • You know what I love about WCW? When Gene Okerlund interviews Turner executives! Nick Lambros reads some decree about fines and suspensions in the most stilted way possible. Was this necessary? That’s a rhetorical question, by the way. Note: When I (very quickly, I bet there are still errors) edited this, I wrote this sentence because it actually WAS necessary w/r/t the ending angle on this show...though commentary didn't actually make the connection for the viewer, so maybe it wasn't necessary after all.


  • It’s GOLDBERG! He’s going to pin Stevie Ray tonight. This was a decent little TV match; Stevie scores with a back suplex and a flying clothesline for two, but Goldberg counters a corner charge with a back elbow and a lariat. Goldberg follows up with a powerslam and a kneedrop for a two-count of his own. Goldberg cranks a chinlock for a little while, then transitions to an Irish whip, but he gets back elbowed when he charges in. Stevie Ray follows up with a jumping side kick, then punches Goldberg in the corner. The ref has to jump in to break it, and Stevie turns to bitch at him. When he turns back around, Goldberg hits him with a spear and then Jackhammers him for three. That was short and sweet.


  • It's a random John Nord showing on Nitro, complete with the IF YOU DON’T LIKE ME…(see back) t-shirt. He’s got that shirt on, along with sunglasses and his Berzerker boots. I mean, this is a fantastic get-up. Tenay teases a “former WWF World’s Tag Team Champion who has never wrestled before in WCW” debuting later tonight. That wording seems to indicate Jim Neidhart, maybe? Barbarian is up against Nord here. These big fellas hit each other and throw clotheslines and shoulderblocks to a stalemate until Nord hits a running big boot and then shoulderblocks Barbarian from the ring to the floor, then follows up with a plancha (!!!)


  • Nord chases Jimmy Hart, then out-brawls Barbarian in the aisle before bringing him back in the ring and hitting a couple of elbowdrops. Hart interjects and distracts Nord enough that Barbarian comes from behind to take advantage. He big boots Nord to the floor, then suplexes him back into the ring from the apron. Barb chokes Nord, then hits a nice overhead pumphandle suplex for two. Barb tries a corner charge and gets a boot to the mush; Nord knocks Hart off the apron, but misses a charging shoulderblock in the corner and goes over to the floor. Barb throws a few fists at Nord when Nord gets back in the ring and goes for a superplex, but Nord blocks it and then hits a second-rope elbowdrop before locking on a surfboard-ish version of the Camel Clutch for the submission win. That finish didn’t look great, but I’m into Nord wrestling fun TV matches for the next few months!


  • Gene Okerlund’s in the ring *sigh* to talk to *sigh* Eric Bischoff. I didn’t enjoy this segment and will summarize Eric's promo briefly: The nWo is fine, Hogan and I actually won at Starrcade, Larry Z. is a chubster.


  • Psicosis wrestles THA JOOOOOOOCY ONE for a Cruiserweight Championship shot on Thunder. I’m glad that Juvi’s getting more burn on Nitro. Psicosis ducks under Juvi and hits a clothesline; he’s feeling good about himself after that one. Psicosis misses a corner splash and gets chopped to a few WOOs from the crowd, then hits a headscissors and a springboard dropkick, the latter of which knocks Psicosis to ringside. Psicosis follows up with a pescado. He lets Psicosis crawl onto the apron, and tries to suplex him back into the ring, but Psicosis blocks it and crotches Juvi, then hits a spinning back kick from the top to a hung-up Juvi. Psicosis hits a nice facebuster from the powerbomb position – OHHH, says a portion of the crowd – and stays on Juvi with a dropkick, but misses a guillotine legdrop. Juvi hits a springboard dropkick, then takes a charging Psicosis over with a headlock and throws a few punches. Psicosis is able to block another suplex and counter with a Falcon Arrow, but he’s working a leg injury after that missed legdrop and Juvi gains control briefly, but only for long enough to get dropkicked out of a dive. Psicosis goes to the powerbomb one too many times, and Juvi hits a DDT counter, followed by a 450 that earns him the title shot. That was a good back-and-forth TV match right there.


  • I guess we’re full steam ahead toward that B&W/Wolfpac split even though it hasn't been well telegraphed (or much telegraphed at all). We see a clip of that promo from Show #84 where Hogan and Nash were beefing about the nWo’s leadership.


  • Too much Okerlund. He calls it HOT-LANTA (stop it, Gene) before introducing Booker T., who is the new TV Champ. Booker dedicates his title win to his son and yells SUCKA a lot and suddenly loves the fans a whole lot, too! Then, he continues to the ring to defend his gold against Prince Iaukea. Tony S. reminds us that Prince Iaukea got a shock win for this very title earlier in 1997. That was a riff on The Rock’s surprise Intercontinental Championship win. Iaukea and Rock are both still fighting for those titles here in early 1998, but under vastly different circumstances! The Rock finding ways to finagle his way into retaining the IC title against Ken Shamrock for a few months (and then finally getting his comeuppance from Shamrock in the 1998 King of the Ring final) is one of my favorite things about 1998 WWF, by the way. Back to Iaukea: He eats a jumping side kick, then an axe kick for two. Booker tries another jumping side kick, but whiffs and goes to the floor. Iaukea follows with a forearm from the top rope to the floor, but when he tries to springboard back into the ring, Booker snatches him from mid-air and powerslams him. Booker follows with a spinning kick, a side slam, and a Harlem Hangover for three. Man, it’s no mystery why he elevated the axe kick to main finisher and the Hangover to a finisher that he busts out every once in awhile. I wouldn’t be wanting to drop that top-rope move a shitload of times a year.


  • Starrcade stills are next. Throughout all these matches with pushed talent going over, the crew has focused on talking about the Starrcade finish and the nWo. It really is a bummer. They push these guys in-ring, but then undercut what is good booking with the commentators not even paying attention to what’s happening.


  • We get basically the six-man tag that we were supposed to get at Starrcade: The Steiner Brothers and Ray Traylor face off with Konnan, Buff Bagwell (not Vincent, so an upgrade there, actually), and Scott Norton. I appreciate that this is a make-good for not having the original advertised match on Starrcade, so I’ll allow it (even if this match should never have been booked for anything more than a Nitro segment in the first place). The crowd is hotter for this than they’ve been for anything since DDP dropping Jericho with a Diamond Cutter. Scott Steiner yells FUCK YOU at Buff Bagwell, which (along with his rude gesture) gets a nice pop. Man, I’ve said it before, but Scott Steiner in Attitude-era WWF is a megastar.


  • Rick Steiner mocks Buff’s posting and gets a beatdown, but Buff tries to leapfrog him like a dumbass and gets powerslammed out of the air. Anyway, this match really works for the crowd, but I’m pretty laid back about the whole thing. Oh, it’s not bad at all, not even dull or anything like that. It’s a solid, perfectly cromulent six-man tag. Rick Steiner ends up being the FIP. Scott Steiner eventually gets a hot tag and goes bananas, then sets up Konnan for the top-rope bulldog…but then says FUCK THIS and drops Konnan, then hits a STEINER SCREWDRIVER for three. YEAH, A STEINER SCREWDRIVER! See, that’s how you make good for Starrcade!


  • Well, I guess I was wrong. The former WWF World Tag Team Champ that had not worked for WCW in the past is one-half of Strike Force, Rick Martel! Rick Martel rules (unless he’s wrestling a match that’s going to end up on a Coliseum Video release). Martel’s opponent tonight: Brad Armstrong. Martel gets an early roll-up for two. Armstrong grabs him in a headlock, but Martel counters with a back suplex, then dodges a corner charge and hits a diving clothesline. Martel looks great for a guy who I believe was a part-timer at the time he came in (IIRC, he was working in insurance and wrestling every once in awhile in Quebec). Martel hits a spinebuster and locks on a Boston Quebec Crab for the submission victory. I’m glad to see him around (until Booker beals him into retirement, at least).


  • Sonya Deville is on a Pride commercial here on Peacock, and even though I know her name, I’ve never seen her until now. I’m pretty certain that she’s the lost Bella Triplet.


  • Chris Benoit and Mongo McMichael have sorta got the band back together again and are teaming to face Saturn and Scotty Riggs. The opening is action-packed, and there’s a nice spot where Mongo lands an overhand right on Saturn from the apron, and that staggers Saturn back into a Benoit back suplex. Saturn tries to slow Mongo down with strikes after the latter tags in, but Mongo hits a running powerslam, then chop blocks both Saturn and Riggs. Riggs sneaks in a dropkick, though, and Saturn hits a capture suplex. Riggs tags in and hits a flying clothesline, then draws Benoit in so that he can drag Mongo back to his corner. Riggs hits a nice dropkick for two. Which perennial midcarder had a better dropkick: Riggs or Bob Holly? Gosh, I think it might be Riggs, but I’ve watched a ton of him lately and none of Holly, so that might be recency bias on my part. Anyway, Mongo’s FIP for a while here, eating double shoulderblocks and the like, until he finally reverses a double-suplex attempt and gets a hot tag. All four men end up in the ring when Lodi and then Kidman get involved. Mongo is brawling with Lodi and Riggs outside, which along with Kidman climbing the buckles on that side of the ring, draws the ref’s eyes. Benoit locks on the Crossface in the ring, but Raven has the distraction needed to climb in, break the hold, and Evenflow Benoit; Saturn covers, and the three count is academic.


  • The wrestling tonight has been at worst “solid” and at best “very good.” Nitro might actually be at the peak of in-ring product now, and maybe has been over the past couple months. Only the main event jibber jabber has dragged any of this stuff down.


  • Gene Okerlund interviews Ric Flair in the ring. Man, I really wish that Bischoff had gone a different direction with Bret Hart’s first feud than Flair. Anyway, Flair thinks he’s the best, so Bret comes down to disagree in person. Whoever dubbed Jericho’s WWE theme over whatever he was using in these episodes should have done the same with Hart’s WWF/E theme even though his theme is a WCW original. I’m going to stop complaining about that shitty theme, I promise. Flair quite derisively wants to hear Bret’s catchphrase. Bret complies and gets booed because this is freaking Atlanta and a partisan WCW crowd. Bret also does a terribly shitty WOO. Flair is actually quite good here, but he actually talks about his wrestling prowess in shoot terms (noting that he can’t carry a broomstick anymore like he could ten years ago), which I think is a bummer if we’re talking about who the best kayfabe wrestler is, but maybe we’re not? This is a bit shooty, a bit worky. The Hitman hits Flair’s catchphrase about beating the man to be the man and notes that he’s done that already. Flair would like him to do it again. OK, that won’t be a problem for the Hitman! Seriously, though, I do remember at the time treating Flair, and thus all these southern crowds, as the heel for this whole feud. WHICH THEY ARE, OBVIOUSLY.


  • Michael Buffer intros our main event, which is Randy Savage up against…wait, Dillon’s out here to kick Nick Patrick off his job as ref. Yeah, fire a guy for a normal count. I guess he’s just suspended or whatever. Bischoff comes down to protest. WHO. CARES?


  • Anyway, yeah, Randy Savage is up against Lex Luger. nWo members at ringside distract Luger so Savage can jump him. Savage gets two off a back elbow, then chokes Luger with his bandana. Savage gets a couple more two-counts and a couple more naked chokes in. He busts out a rare gutwrench suplex for two as well. Savage finally goes up top for a double axe and gets punched in the gut. Luger makes his typical comeback, but Savage bails and takes the match outside. Savage uses Liz as a diversion and then takes control outside, before bringing Luger back inside and trying a slam that Luger reverses into a small package for three. Savage is really angry and thinks the count was fast and yada yada yada, Eric Bischoff tries to stop Savage from using a chair on Luger (remember the edict). Savage hits Bischoff, Hogan confronts Savage, Savage slaps Hogan, Nash clotheslines Savage. This, again, is a tease of dissension that didn’t get enough foreshadowing before it got serious. They made the same mistake in April of 1997. Sting comes down to back up Lex Luger when it looks like what’s left of the nWo might make a run at Luger.


  • Per usual for this point in Nitro’s existence, the lower and middle of the card were generally quite good, and the main event intrigue is poorly constructed. 4.25 out of 5 Stinger Splashes.
Edited by SirSmUgly
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3 hours ago, SirSmUgly said:

Tenay teases a “former WWF World’s Tag Team Champion who has never wrestled before in WCW” debuting later tonight. That wording seems to indicate Jim Neidhart, maybe?

Neidhart had a blink and you miss it run in 1993 teaming with Junkyard Dog (and so it doesn't sound like a fever dream, here's a match they had against Paul Orndorff and Dick Slater). An amazing bit of continuity that they may have remembered and used it to tease Martel but would have people thinking Neidhart (or maybe Davey Boy, if they had similarly forgotten Davey Boy's run).


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Thunder Interlude – show number one  – 08 January 1998

"The WCW Gang Debuts a New Show”

  • Let’s see what shape these Thunder Interludes take…Hopefully not 2,600+ words like the Nitro reviews have turned into…I love writing long and writing for myself, but I only have so much time…


  • Syxx is in the Thunder intro, which seems like a poor choice on the part of WCW…OH NO, a three-hour debut show?!...OH NO, Lee Marshall on commentary?!?!...Marshall’s here with Heenan, so I can’t wait for them to bitch at one another while a match is going on.…Three minutes in, and I’m already bitching…Let’s do better, both me and WCW….


  • Time is spent on the nWo falling apart…Randy Savage is supposed to be in the opener, but he’s apparently not at the arena yet…I admit fault in suggesting that Nick Lambros’s statement was unnecessary, but it’s only now that Tony S. connects it to why Bischoff tried to hold Savage back at the end of Nitro…Still, glad they did it, though they still haven’t showed the end of the last Nitro in December that sparked Lambros to make that address in the first place…


  • Chris Adams is in the first ever Thunder match against the late-arriving Randy Savage, which I think is an unlikely answer to the trivia question of who contested the first Thunder match…Savage is unhinged, as usual…Savage dominates, but a Luger chairshot behind the ref’s back leads to a Chris Adams upset victory…Seems like the sort of thing that’s against Lambros’s decree, doesn’t it?...In fact, here is J.J. Dillon to address the finish of that match, though we don’t see what he says before we go to break…


  • Hogan and Bischoff like to yak yak yak…the crowd boos Hogan when he speaks, but sure as heck love to say TOO SWEET along with him…Hogan’s the best and the greatest and the ladies love him and actually he won at Starrcade (that last one is true)…Hogan wants to roll that footage from Starrcade, but Tony S. says we gotta wait…


  • J.J. Dillon reverses the decision of the opener…Lex Luger isn’t pleased about Dillon and Lambros taking eighteen months to start reversing decisions like this…he has a point, you know…Luger, talk to Dillon, he’s right there, don’t talk to the camera…


  • Louie Spicolli shouts out his mom before wrestling Rick Martel…Spicolli wrestling in a t-shirt and sweats gives me Mid-South Buck Robley vibes…This is an alright TV match, but I must note that I dig the spinebuster/Quebec Crab combo that Martel is using to finish matches…


  • Tenzan matches up with Ohara after a Starrcade/Giant/Hall recap…I wish at least one Japanese wrestler would have come out to a ‘90s J-Pop style theme here in WCW instead of the stereotypical Eastern-style themes that were the norm…This is some nWo Japan feud that I don’t care about being continued in this match…The match also isn’t any good besides…Tenzan wins with a diving headbutt…


  • Lots of videos that give Nitro recaps…Then, Jericho saying basically the same thing he said on Nitro, to the point that even Tony S. is confused about whether or not we’re live…He apologizes to everyone again before facing Ric Flair…Jericho’s about at his peak at a worker in 1998, IMO, and he looks good tonight…his athleticism still fails him occasionally, as it did on the Nitro previous, but he’s got a better sense of himself in the ring than ever before and this is as good as it gets for him physically…Jericho cuts off Flair’s flip to the apron with a springboard dropkick in a cool spot which melds two signature spots together nicely…This is a good match, well laid out, in that Jericho has all the energy, but Flair has the experience and uses it to get the Figure Four for the win…Jericho keeps buying Penzer new jackets and then tearing them up…


  • It’s nice to see the Giant, and even nicer to see him wrestle Meng…Giant powerslamming Meng is just the best…The Giant treats Jimmy Hart rudely for two men who worked closely together…Meng dodges a corner charge, but it doesn’t really give him much purchase, and he eats a chokeslam soon enough…


  • Goldberg and Mongo have a Starrcade rematch…It’s interesting how many green-ish guys they sent Goldberg out with in his first few months on TV…Goldberg does a gorilla press into a power slam, and it rules…The ref distracts Goldberg, but Mongo can’t really capitalize for long and eats a spear and Jackhammer…I think even as green as these fellas are, their matches are perfectly cromulent…I’m here for big dudes tossing each other around, and that’s what I got…


  • Tony S. tells Lee Marshall, who doubts the Steiners’ intelligence, that the Steiners “are a lot more smarter than you think,” and I’m not a grammar bitch, but that’s funny…The Steiners don’t have many problems in getting the win over Buff and Konnan, but Scott pretty much takes the match and hits the super Frankensteiner instead of setting up for the top-rope bulldog…Let’s turn Scotty heel A.S.A.P….


  • They show the whole Larry Zbyszko/Eric Bischoff match from Starrcade for free…Why are we punishing people who didn’t see the original airing by making them sit through this, too?...I’m still astonished by how over Larry Z. is, and honestly, it’s kinda cool that this guy is so over in 1997…Yep, this match is still bad…


  • Well, at least they’re running the Scott Hall/Larry Z. match at Souled Out…Not the right place for that match, but cool, at least it’s happening…Larry remembers that Scott Hall couldn’t beat him in AWA, which may be true…the “made him cry in the ring part,” I’m not so sure about…Larry reminisces about his very long career and compares it to Hall’s less long career during this good-enough promo…


  • Lots of recapping and video of stuff that happened elsewhere on this show…I’m not sure it needed to be three hours…It already feels like an inessential show in some ways because of all the recaps and video from other shows…


  • Scott Hall might get something pretty good out of late-career Ray Traylor tonight…Nope, not really…It’s not terrible or anything, though…After Traylor dominates the match, Hall ends up hitting Traylor with a belt shot for two…Hall hits a second-rope bulldog for a 2.9 that got me to bite…Larry Z. comes down and distracts Hall into a Traylor Trash or Spike or whatever for the Traylor victory…Hall’s been doing quite a few jobs and taking quite a few ass whippings lately…


  • Juventud Guerrera earned a title shot against Ultimo Dragon tonight by beating Psicosis on Monday…Decently pacey match here with lots of switches in control…Dragon and Juvi almost completely miss each other on a Dragon moonsault attempt to the floor…I like both these guys, but watching them is a reminder of the levels beyond them that Rey and Eddy are in terms of fluidity and clean execution…Juvi’s 450 is quite clean, though, and he uses it to win the Cruiserweight Championship for the first time…


  • Mike Tenay interviews Bret Hart in the ring…Hart talks about the match he’s got with Ric Flair at Souled Out…Ric Flair crashes the interview (of course)…Flair is still in comical disbelief over Hart’s claims to being the best because he’s unable to accept the truth…Flair claims that Hart idolized him when Hart was a teen…I don’t know that Hart ever was big on the “routine men” as his pops called Flair…Flair basically cuts the same promo that Larry Z. did about Hall, actually…This is pretty much a mix of that earlier promo and the themes and wording of their Nitro promo battle…It didn’t do much for me…


  • Tony S. said a few minutes ago that Lex Luger would face Scott Hall (which confused me), but wrong Scott – it’s Norton that Luger faces…Buff distracts Luger into a Norton shoulderbreaker, but Luger kicks out…Commentary sells this with amazement, but the crowd doesn’t care at all…Luger racks Norton for the win, then racks Buff and knocks down an onrushing Savage…’Twas a good night for Luger…


  • We join Hogan and Sting at Starrcade in progress…Lee Marshall said that we’d see this unabridged, but is immediately exposed as a liar when we JIP…Boy, this finish is awful and I can’t believe that Bischoff showed it again…How did Bret get out there so fast after the finish?...Dude must have been in a sprinter’s position in gorilla…Bischoff claimed (more or less) that the crowd pop meant that the finish worked out well on 83 Weeks…Because people aren’t known to pop for huge title changes at big shows regardless of how shitty the finish is…


  • More video, this time the end of the rematch on Nitro in Show #122Sting locks on the Scorpion Death Lock after the ref bump…Hogan visually submits, but Nick Patrick comes in…Hogan hits Sting from behind and gets a normally-counted three count on a pinfall AGAIN…I am astonished at how this finish compounds the worst elements of Starrcade’s finish…Sting locks on the Scorpion Death Lock again and gets another submission…There’s a whole schmoz after this, but what sort of confusing stupidity is this series of senseless-ass finishes?...The Starrcade main event was so simple, so easy, so seemingly impossible to screw up…


  • J.J. Dillon calls out Hogan and Sting to announce the WCW Executive Committee’s decision on the title…Dillon holds up the title until a rematch can be had at SuperBrawl…Vacant is making its move as the most prominent WCW Champion of the ‘90s, but 1998 is only the start for Vacant…Sting talks to Dillon: “You got no guts”…Sting talks to Hogan: “And you? You’re a dead man”…Simple, but effective from Sting, but this whole booking of the title is easily one of the worst booking sequences in the history of pro wrestling in the U.S….


  • Diamond Dallas Page faces Kevin Nash in the main event…Page gets two on a DDT…Nash takes over with knee-and-soupbone based offense…Nash gets two on an elbowdrop…DDP reverses a Snake Eyes into a Diamond Cutter attempt, but Hogan (at ringside) gets on the apron and clocks Page to draw the DQ…The Giant comes down and trades fists with Nash as the show ends…


  • Lots of recap, not enough live wrestling…This show gets a WOOO (note that I used three O's) from me…
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Show #123 – 12 January 1998

"The one that has more booking hits than misses"

  • I want to note that even when WCW is bad, I kind of enjoy it, and it’s not really all that bad. Yet. I’m just sore about Starrcade (still!), and I’ll work on getting over it.


  • WCW has sent Mean Gene to the back to get answers about a potential breakup from the nWo when they arrive. This is really stretching Gene’s record as a scoops machine, but okay. And I mean, heck, he gets answers! Hogan wants his title back, Nash is nonchalant about putting Savage down last week, saying that “[Savage] don’t want no part of this”. Well, I owe you an apology, Gene. I was unfamiliar with your game.


  • Jerry Flynn is a goon with a mullet and a hairy chest who kickboxes. Need I tell you that he is an exemplary visual example of a pro wrestler? His opponent: GOLDBERG, who gets a massive pop when he marches out. These dudes fight over a legbar and then an armbar before just devolving to punches. I think Goldberg can get away with still learning his craft in front of our eyes because he’s so intense and athletic. Flynn tries an armbar again and gets one-hand powerbombed. Flynn comes back with kicks, but Goldberg eats one of those kicks and uses the momentum from it to bounce off the ropes and come back with a spear. Then he Jackhammers this man for three. GODDAM, THAT WAS FUN. I could watch awkward rookie Goldberg squash dudes all day.


  • The Nitro Girls added Whisper, but let’s leave her for the loving embrace of Shawn Michaels and get the camera back on Chae. No offense meant to Whisper Michaels. 


  • The Hollywood Blondes’ music hits, and it’s not Austin or Pillman obviously, but it’s not Greg Valentine either?! It’s actually Marty Jannetty, looking like he stepped out of 1988, but only stepped halfway and stopped in 1993. He’s wrestling a dude named Black Cat. Black Cat sadly did not come out to a Jimmy Hart-engineered knockoff of Janet Jackson’s “Black Cat.” After trading a few slaps, Cat flapjacks Jannetty and throws a few weak fists and shoulders. Jannetty jumps a corner charge and gets a sunset flip for two, then lands a superkick. Black Cat definitely likes his shoulder-based offense, but it stinks. This dude’s not very good, though he did hit a nice elevated DDT for two. Jannetty responds with a spinebuster and a Rocker Dropper Showstopper (oh, come on, WCW) for three. Then he celebrates like a complete asshole.


  • Gene, who is actually putting in some decent work tonight, waits on a second limo that includes other nWo members, including Randy Savage. Note the tease of the Outsiders break-up, too, as Nash was in the first limo, but Hall is in this one. Gene is smart enough to tell Savage that Nash said some shit about him, but he’s not going to actually repeat what Nash said. This, predictably, sets Savage off. When I said Gene was smart, I’m not sure if I was being sarcastic or not. He didn’t get slapped (though Savage threatened it) and then forgot about wanting to fight Luger because he was all hot at Nash, so that seems like a successful interview to help destroy the nWo.


  • Chris Benoit and Dean Malenko have a decent TV match tonight. It’s nice to see Benoit wrestle not-the-Flock on Nitro, though I briefly wonder if that whole feud is just going to be dropped. But no, we get a shot of the Flock watching on intently from the crowd. In fact, Raven will finally wrestle Benoit at Souled Out. I’m honestly more interested in that than this, which is a competently worked match that is missing Benoit being enraged at his opponent like he’s been against the nWo and the Flock.


  • There are multiple headlocks that just feel like filler and not part of a well-organized match. The problem is the mat work in general, as it’s really dull, especially when Malenko’s on top. He has zero idea how to work a hold, it seems like. The crowd is into the big spots, including a German suplex counter struggle that ends with a Malenko German Suplex. Both men block one another’s submission finishers, but Benoit dumps Malenko on a victory roll attempt and locks on the Crossface for the win. Raven immediately comes in and jumps Benoit, and Saturn jumps Malenko and applies the Rings of Saturn for good measure.


  • Gene Okerlund, Wonder Journalist grills J.J. Dillon about his dodgy decisions w/r/t fining and disqualifying dudes. I feel like they showed an errant clip here: They showed Savage clocking Bischoff from Nitro (which Dillon comments on) and Savage running in during Lex Luger’s Thunder match against Scott Norton (which Dillon doesn’t comment on at all). Dillon does talk about Luger interfering in the Chris Adams/Randy Savage match on Nitro, which we got no footage of. Anyway, Dillon fines Savage for clocking Bischoff, which brings Savage down to try and murder Dillon. Bisch runs down to try and stop him, even offering to pay the fine for Savage, but Savage has a reasonable point in response: “It’s not the money, it’s the principle!” Then, like some people are in real life when they are mentally unsettled, Savage changes gears in an instant starts asking about what Nash said about him out of nowhere. Yeah, this dude is LOST. That might be the first interview segment with Okerlund, Dillon, AND Bischoff that I really enjoyed, by the way.


  • Intrepid Reporter Gene Okerlund is in the ring to interview Diamond Dallas Page, who is very over. He hypes Thunder’s upcoming main event: He and Luger versus Randy Savage and Kevin Nash. Whoops, that particular matchup seems like poor timing for the nWo! Page says that he thought the nWo was 4 Life, but then again, he thought that Liz and Randy were 4 Life, too. GODDAM, Savage is catching stray after stray tonight. I’m going to be honest, if you look at Savage’s character arc in WCW, his devolution into paranoid nutbar misogynist is easily trackable. That’s some shit that happens to people in real life, except instead of going down a YouTube recommended video rabbit hole, Savage took a bunch of pro wresting Ls. I’m serious, this is some all-time excellent character development for Savage.


  • Booker T defends his TV Title against former champ Saturn. Jacksonville is a pretty good crowd and these folks are behind the faces pretty well tonight. Booker scores a nice counter-clothesline, then gets a flying forearm for two and kicks Saturn through the ropes and to the floor. Saturn jumps on Booker when they get back in the ring, but Booker blocks a back suplex attempt with a roll-through for two, then initially blocks a pumphandle slam, but misses a spin kick and eats a pumphandle suplex, then another overhead suplex that sends him to the floor. Back in the ring, Booker ducks two clothesline attempts and hits another flying forearm and catches Saturn with a corner clothesline. Book tries another, but Saturn sticks up a boot, then trips Book and rolls him up with the boots on the ropes for leverage. It gets three, but I guess Rick Martel’s word is good enough for the ref; Martel comes down and tells the ref what happened, so the match is restarted. Booker hits a Harlem Hangover not long after that for three. Dumb finish, dumb way to get Martel involved with the title, but very good match to get to that point. Booker tells Martel he owes him, and Martel asks for a title shot, which Booker is fine with. Oh no, is Martel’s comeback already on borrowed time?


  • Gene Okerlund is getting a lot of TV time tonight, but that’s acceptable. Do we need Nick Lambros all up in the videos each week, too? The Giant is here with Lambros to talk to Okerlund about the Nash/Giant match that’s scheduled for Souled Out. Lambros wants the nWo to put up a 1.5M dollar deposit before the match, and if they don’t post it, Nash is suspended for a year. That “Nash is suspended” announcement gets boos, naturally. Nobody wants that. Also, Bischoff can’t get any more of that sweet, sweet Turner money, I guess. No one cares. Fuck off. The Giant is excited, but he’d prefer Nash not get suspended so that Giant can beat him up.


  • Bischoff, Hogan, Nash, and their goddam LAWYER come out to respond. Fuck right off, WCW. Oh man, no one cares about this backroom legal maneuvering bullshit. If you want me to give a fuck, have Lambros and the nWo lawyer fight it out in the ring right now, and one of them’s got to blade. Anyway, the nWo wants WCW to match that deposit with the catch that if the Giant touches Nash before Souled Out, that money is forfeited to the nWo. Giant accepts; Nash immediately gets all up in the Giant’s face, which in real life surely would trigger a failure of that clause on the nWo’s side since Nash is the one who walked up to the Giant. However, this is pro wrestling. This means that, much like walking up to someone who you’ve taken out a restraining order on and having that person be the one to get arrested, the Giant actually can’t do anything about Nash sharing his halitosis with him.


  • Lex Luger and Hugh Morrus start hour number two with a professional wrestling bout, contested for one fall. This is a surprisingly pacey match for these two! I was expecting the typical Luger long selling period followed by a forearm and a rack, but Luger dominates for the most part. He eats a springboard clothesline, but dodges a splash and racks Morrus for the win. That was a nice little TV match. It won’t change your life, but especially considering the typical Luger TV match at this point, it was a nice deviation from the norm. Liz comes out to tearily plead with with Lex, but of course it’s a diversion, and Savage jumps Luger from behind. Liz even winds up and swings at Lex. Page comes out to check on Luger, and LOL, some fan snatches the cap off his head and he angrily demands it back (and gets it).


  • Video recap: Scott Steiner seems to be sick of his brother Rick. Yeah, aren’t we all.


  • Chris Jericho and Mongo McMichael is a Nitro-ass Nitro matchup. Mongo uses his bulk early, and Jericho’s not in the match at all. Mongo does eat boot on a a corner charge, and Jericho hits a second-rope dropkick to follow up. He’s all C’MON BABY, which of course means that he’s immediately caught and side slammed for his hubris. Mongo takes his sweet time going up to the second rope, celebrating and generally chilling out up there, and Jericho catches him and hits a Super Frankensteiner for two. Jericho tries for a clothesline, but gets shoulder charged and suplexed; he comes back with a dropkick to the leg (good!) and then gets Mongo Spiked after trying to leapfrog Mongo on a corner charge (bad!). Jericho’s too knocked out to even throw a tantrum.


  • Back from break, Jericho's awake and ranting into a microphone. He’s deluded about his relevance and worth to the wrestling fans in the crowd…so like normal, I guess. But seriously, he’s pretty funny in this promo, drops a NEVER EVER AGAYNE, and gets annoyed when Rey Misterio Jr.’s music cuts him off. Jericho refuses to leave the ring and is shocked that Misterio would cut off what was an all-time promo (in Jericho's opinion, obviously). Misterio is just like, Yo, I’m sorry man, I just have a Cruiserweight Championship shot right now, and Jericho’s like Oh, I understand, I love your work Misterio, I’ll leave now. Except instead of leaving, he jumps Misterio and locks him in the Lion Tamer.


  • OH NO, Juvi comes in the ring and slips off the ropes as he enters, and everyone in Jacksonville laughs at him, even people who are in the city but not in the arena right now. Jericho finally leaves; Juvi takes full advantage of Misterio being hurt and jumps him, and the ref’s just like I dunno, ring the bell, I guess. Misterio tries his best, but gets Tombstoned and 450’d in short order. Did Bischoff just cement two cowardly heels here? That was all incredibly well-booked.


  • I’m not even super-annoyed at Bischoff and Hogan taking mic time to jabber on, that’s how good all that stuff was since the last time they were out here yammering. Basically, Hogan is all like I’m the real champ and Sting wears makeup so he’s a pansy, and you can’t be a pansy and be champ, and also the nWo is fine and good and we have the best lawyer and our lawyer is going to SUE and we will SUE everyone and I am the BEST and if you don’t love me, I’ll SUE and the judge loves me and will give me all the money that WCW has because I’m the best and I will SUE and look there’s an UGGO in the third row, I hate you, you UGGO. I mean, all of that was basically what he said! I paraphrased it, but nothing’s made up or anything. I made sitting through that pointless promo more fun by paraphrasing it in one long run-on sentence, which is how I experience Hogan promos anyway.


  • Jim Neidhart is in WCW! Who, you may ask? And I would answer, yes, that guy. He cuts a stinky promo and also why are they effectively turning Bret heel here when he’s like the most natural face after the Screwjob? I don’t see why they’re having him wrestle Flair first up when the crowd wants nothing more than to cheer Flair. OK, I’m done bitching about that (for now). Flair comes out and blames a woman (Ellie, actually) for Neidhart’s words. Yeah, that's about what I expect from Flair. Anyway, this escalates into a wrestling match. Flair comes down to the ring, grabs some knucks from his pocket, and KO’s both Neidhart and the ref, then uses Bret’s ringpost Figure Four on Neidhart. Does anyone use that move today? It’s so sick. Flair’s looks like shit, but it’s still awesome. Bret runs down and punches a fleeing Ric Flair. Flair running away is quite the heel move for a guy who is over as a face. Oh, wow, as well-booked as the Jericho-Rey-Juvi stuff was, this was the opposite of that.


  • Hall, Nash, and Hogan come to the ring. Hall hits the ol’ survey – WCW is very over – and then the Steiner Brothers come out to wrestle the Outsiders for the tag titles. Scott Hall gets Weeble-wobbled a bunch early on, then double-underhook suplexed. The Steiners even team up to suplex Kevin Nash. They look like they’re on the same page!


  • Hall gets his ass beat and finally tags Nash in after a ref break. Randy Savage wanders out still wanting to know what the fuck Kevin Nash said about him, and Hogan has to try and talk him down. Nash has pretty bad luck himself and only gets a bit of space when he reverses an Irish Whip into a kneelift on Scott Steiner, then hits a lariat. Hall manages to get a chokeslam on Scott, then does his Frankenstein’s Monster taunt and turns right into a belly-to-belly suplex. Rick ends up being FIP in the end. He takes a beating, and actually, there are some nice spots in here, including one where Rick eats a close two count after getting hammered by a Nash lariat from behind. Scott yells at the ref, who then stands in the way and gets knocked out by Hall when Nash whiffs on a big boot. Savage sees his chance and tries to drop an elbow on Nash, but Nash moves and Savage nails Rick instead. The Outsiders win the gold, but Nash is aware of what Savage tried to do. He doesn’t even celebrate; he goes to confront Savage, who spits at him. I love that Savage initially tries to pretend that he meant to help Nash – “Good work, brother!” – and immediately when he sees Nash ain’t buying it, just hocks a loogy at him instead.


  • That was a hot finish and a great way to close the show, so great that I’m going to let it rest that the Steiners never actually got their big win over the Outsiders in the first place and just lost the titles right back after like three months.


  • That show had some low spots and was a bit uneven, but the stuff that was good was very good, and there were some legitimately excellent booking sequences in this thing. 4.5 out of 5 Stinger Splashes.
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Thunder Interlude – show number two  – 15 January 1998

"The WCW Gang heats up the Cruiserweight Championship chase”

  • Tenay takes over the PBP position with Heenan and Marshall on color this week…We get videos of execs and lawyers jabbering from Nitro…Maybe Tenay should have just verbally recapped this with no video…


  • The Giant speaks…Says nothing of note…Lodi has a pro-Nash/anti-Giant sign at ringside that the Giant rips, followed by a chokeslam…The Flock attacks (sans Raven) and just can’t get right…Giant catches Kidman in the ring and tosses him over the top rope and into Van Hammer in the front row(!!!)...Nash comes down and gets in Giant’s face, douses him with coffee, and generally legally invalidates the pre-match agreement…This built nicely to the Giant vs. the Flock, actually, gimme a one-on-six…


  • These first couple Thunder shows spend a ton of time recapping Nitro…we all saw it, fellas…Savage slapped Nash after the cameras went off on Nitro, which is at least new…


  • Black Cat, Ohara, and Gedo contest a trios match against the Steiner Brothers and Ray Traylor…it’s fine…Scott doesn’t feel like tagging out and just hits a Steiner Screwdriver for the win instead…good decision on his part, I like the selfishness…Scotty pushes the referee in the face because he’s a lunatic…


  • Tenay teases a possible martial arts division…It wouldn’t ever be as much stupid fun for many reasons as Brawl For All (which I will go on record as weirdly enjoying)…Yuji Nagata vs. Ernest Miller is next and a stated (by Tenay) test case for that division that will never happen (unless I’m forgetting something)…I’m not sure how this match is wrestled under martial arts rules, whatever those are…Nagata’s out here hitting belly-to-belly suplexes and pumphandles and such…Miller hits the Feliner (his top-rope roundhouse has a name now!) for the win…


  • Schiavone (in Gene Okerlund’s interviewer role tonight) talks to J.J. Dillon about Page apparently being injured in some attack that we didn’t see…The audio is sick of this mayo bum Dillon and cuts out as he talks, but comes back when Page hobbles out on a crutch and promises to wrestle in the main event regardless of injury…


  • Scott Hall cuts a survey before a match with Louie Spicolli…Spicolli is definitely nWo, and I know this because Hall asks him and he confirms it…Larry Z. comes down to rabble rouse and to convince Spicolli that Hall isn’t one of the cool kids…Spicolli tries to help Hall anyway, but fails and gets kicked in the gut by Larry Z….


  • Jericho comes out, calls himself a paragon of virtue, and claims that Misterio was insulting his family under his breath on Nitro…After that bit of lying and slandering, Eddy Guerrero comes out to get the easy victory this week…Solid, mostly fast-paced TV match from these two, as expected…Eddy is responsible for the “mostly,” as he works an abdominal stretch and a surfboard for a little bit…Huh, Jericho gets the win when he blocks a rana/headscissors and turns it into a Lion Tamer…I would have lost my hat betting on a post-match Jericho tantrum…Ah, this was a #1 contendership match for the Cruiserweight Championship at Souled Out…I guess I know who’s winning the Rey/Juvi title match tonight, though then again, I guessed this match incorrectly…Though had I known about the stip attached, I would have made a better guess…


  • After more recap, it’s GOLDBERG squashing Chavo Guerrero Jr....um, why is Disco Inferno out here before Goldberg can make it out?...Chavo clowns Disco’s dancing and name (unnecessarily, I would say)…Disco hits a Chartbuster in response…Goldberg is tired of waiting and comes down all twitchy and shit…Spear, Jackhammer, Disco is dead (sorry, it was such low-hanging fruit)…


  • Hogan and Bischoff are out for their usual yammering session…It’s the same fucking fluff session for their characters' (?) egos that they do every week and serves zero purpose…


  • Rey Misterio Jr. finally gets the proper shot at Juvi’s gold that he was supposed to get on Nitro before Jericho attacked him…Bodies are flying everywhere…Juvi’s got JUVI JUICE written on his tights for the first time in WCW…Juvi with a wild plancha that ends up sort of like a flying headbutt, actually…Juvi unloads his offensive repertoire, including a Muscle Buster(!!!)…Both men work leg injuries a bit…Rey finally makes his comeback with a facebuster…This is a very good match that ends when Rey dodges a 450 and hits a rana for the duke and the title…


  • More recap, then the main event…Page was mugged post-Nitro, which is what Dillon was trying to tell us…right in front of the ref and everyone else, Hogan attacks Page’s knee with Page’s own crutch…Nash and Savage eventually get into it and Luger rolls up Nash for two as a result…Why is this match still going?...Hogan’s attack should have induced a DQ…Nash tags Savage in by slapping him in the head…Luger eventually racks an interfering Hogan, then Nash…Savage gets accidentally booted by Hogan in the fracas…The Giant strolls down and chokeslams Hogan after quite the cartoonish facial realization on Hogan’s part…The Giant considers chokeslamming Nash, but the rest of the nWo runs into attack him…Sting runs in for the save…This whole match segment was nonsensical in terms of following the rules of an actual wrestling match, but it was entertaining, and that’s what really matters…


  • I enjoyed this Thunder quite a bit, especially from Hall/Spicolli on…the matches were good or they were weird (if they happened at all), and I appreciate that…solid WOOOOO show for me…
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Show #124 – 19 January 1998

"The one that was a Nitro-ass Nitro, for good and for ill"

  • We are in former Mid-South territory tonight, live (at the time, at least) from the Superdome.


  • The Giant and Hulk Hogan make for tonight’s Nitro main event. Sure! I think as bad as face Hogan was an opponent for heel Giant, the reverse is pretty solid.


  • Sign: Seinfeld fears Thunder. Ahahahahaha, though Seinfeld managed to have the type of wet fart of a finish that Starrcade ’97 did.


  • Rick Martel and Eddy Guerrero is a Nitro-ass Nitro matchup. This is quite good, with fiery babyface Martel throwing overhead rights and hitting a second-rope clothesline after Eddy’s initial offensive flurry. Eddy gets back in the ring and gets arm-dragged twice, then complains to Scott Dickinson about Martel hair-pulling to get him over on those armdrags. He elaborately explains how this happened (it didn't), and when Dickinson goes to caution Martel, Eddy hits a dropkick on Martel's leg and works it. He twists it, hits a tope con hilo right on it, and then drops Martel with a back suplex for two. He misses a springboard splash, though, and Martel catches Eddy in a spinebuster and Quebec Crab for the submission victory. Fun TV sprint!


  • Recap of all the stuff and nonsense from last Thunder’s main event. I mean, they spend like five minutes showing us all that stuff.


  • Bischoff and Hogan do their weekly fucking talking segment they love to do that’s basically pointless, though Hogan does threaten to beat any out-of-line nWo members like they’re his kids, so that’s a pretty good heel line!


  • Marty Jannetty runs to the ring to the Hollywood Blondes music. That’s, uh, not exactly the up-tempo music one would expect Jannetty to Rocker-jog out to. So, this is another Nitro-ass Nitro matchup: Jannetty faces off with Chris Benoit. Jannetty drops Benoit early with a headscissors and a superkick, then pulls Benoit up and goes to work on him in the corner with punches. Jannetty snapmares Benoit back onto the mat and hits a fistdrop. Jannetty tries a corner charge and takes a wild bump off a Benoit lariat after whiffing. Benoit and Jannetty throw hands in the corner and then out of the corner, too, before Jannetty scores with a punch to the gut and a kneelift for two.


  • Hey, this is a good little match! Benoit blocks a vertical suplex and hits a snap suplex of his own for two. Benoit grumpily dumps Jannetty to the floor – this actually feels like two guys who are getting irritated with one another as they fight – but Jannetty is able to finagle a facebuster upon his return to the ring. The finish is abrupt, though; Jannetty picks Benoit up off the mat and gets immediately reversed into a Crippler Crossface for the win. The Flock, which has come down to observe, jumps Benoit. Benoit clears out most of them before Saturn takes him down, but Jannetty is up and helps make the save on Benoit. Benoit beats Lodi up to a huge pop after Jannetty re-clears the ring. That was super-entertaining. It’s another one for the “random WCW-ass WCW matches” playlist that I’m building on YouTube.


  • Jerry Flynn and his Helga Potaki-like unabrow are going to have a kickboxing-but-also-pro-wrestling match with Ernest Miller. Both men throw kicks until Flynn catches a kick and puts on an ankle lock. Miller gets a break, gets kicked a bunch again, and the crowd starts a BOOOOOORING chant. Eh, this is fine, I guess, come on, New Orleans. There are some more strikes and counterholds to those strikes, and Flynn eventually hits a wrestling move (a lariat). Then there are more kicks, and it does actually get boring and shitty. Finally, Miller barely makes something that could barely be considered contact on a Feliner for three.


  • Scott Hall comes out, conducts a survey, WCW is much-preferred, Hall pretends otherwise, and then of course, Hall calls out Larry Z. He SHOOTS on Larry Z. being AWA champ and married up to Verne Gagne’s offspring. He also unfavorably compares Larry Z. to Dusty Rhodes, which I guess is a tease for that weird heel turn Dusty eventually does. Larry Z’s response: “I WANT YOU. I WANT EVERY PART OF YOU.” Wow, this promo battle fucks.


  • Buff Bagwell and Konnan (w/Vincent) wrestle the Steiner Brothers next. Scott’s pill program is at the point where dude’s arms have proportions that do not happen in nature. It’s wild how much mobility Scott still had even as gassed up as he became, at least in late ‘90s/early aughts WCW. He was completely physically cooked by the time he got into WWF/E again.


  • This is another match where Scott doesn’t want to bother with tags. Scott works the whole thing (and shoves another official besides), though Rick does come over to save Scott from a three-on-one ringside attack. Scott wins with a Steiner Screwdriver on Konnan. Rick’s feelings are hurt, but Scott’s too busy having a pose-off with Buff to notice. Ted DiBiase comes over to remonstrate with Scott, who goes nuts and walks away from both DiBiase and a face-off with Rick. Cool, let’s get some bleach for this dude’s hair already.


  • Gene Okerlund interviews the Giant in the ring. The Giant’s got words for Hogan and Nash and he’s got THA CHOAKSLAMMMMM ready for both of them. Hogan and Nash come to the ring to taunt Giant, which I’ve already said is stupid, but at least this time, it’s interrupted by Randy Savage running down to be crazy. Hogan tries to send Savage away (The crowd don’t want Savage to leave: They start a MACHO chant). Anyway, Savage comes back, pushes Hogan into Nash, which knocks Nash into Giant. Giant goes after Nash, but Hogan hits Giant with a bat. Sting runs down and Scorpion Death Drops Hogan. Sting tries to fire Giant up by yelling in his ear, which actually ruled, and the Giant’s like YEARRRRRGH, and yeah, I want to see him hit THA CHOAKSLAMMMMMM.


  • Mortis has a shot at Booker T.’s TV title next. Cool! Nitro is going to be three hours a week starting on January 26th. Not cool! FUCK.


  • Booker scores with an axe kick early, but it only gets two. Mortis soon gets control, but misses a elbowdrop. Book misses one as well, but he Spinaroonies up and hits a side kick that knocks Mortis out of the ring. James Vandenberg recognizes that his man is in trouble and distracts Booker enough that Mortis gets a bit of control and has enough of his faculties to dodge a side kick that hangs Booker up on the ropes. Booker hits a shoulderblock to Mortis on the apron and tries to slingshot into a sunset flip, but Mortis catches him and turns it into a bridged Northern Lights Suplex (!!!) for two. Mortis tries a super Frankensteiner and gets reversed and powerbombed in mid-air (!!!) and it is SICK and Booker follows up with a spin kick, a side slam, and a Harlem Hangover for three. Yo, that was an awesome finishing run. Wrath comes out to attack Book post-match and hits a Death Penalty. You telling me we get Booker T. versus Wrath next? PLEASE. Rick Martel runs in for the save, but it’s only to cement that TV title shot for Souled Out.


  • Okerlund’s back out to talk to Ric Flair. Flair’s still mad that he’s worse at pro wrestling than Bret Hart or whatever. Flair screams a lot. The Hitman comes down to respond. I’m pretty sure the crowd starts a brief U-S-A chant, and I’m like, ’97 Hitman was right about us. Anyway, Bret’s like, Wrestling’s in my blood, I’ll beat your ass, I’ll make my case for being the best with physical force on Saturday. Flair’s all like, Wow, this should be quite the epic matchup and one of us is looking like a real asshole about being the best after Saturday. It’ll be you, Flair. It’ll be you. Seriously, this was a decent promo battle, though.


  • Juvi brings his juice down to the ring to face Chris Jericho in a match where both guys have been acting kinda heelish lately. Jericho is confused about why no one in the crowd gets behind him after he yells COME AWNH, BAYBAY. His physical expression of said confusion is funny. The match is very good and quite pacey. Juvi springboard dropkicks Jericho, who ends up outside the ring. Juvi’s nice enough to open the ropes for him and doesn’t do anything sneaky when Jericho enters, neither. Juvi almost gets three off a La Magistral, then gets another two-count off a spinning kick from the top rope. Juvi misses on a splash attempt and takes a Hamrick bump to the floor. Jericho opens the ropes for Juvi, but kicks Juvi as he enters. Brain: “Poor dumb Juventud.” Hilarious, and unfortunately true since almost immediately after, Jericho locks on the Lion Tamer for the win. He locks on the move for way past necessary, then blames the ref for not signaling that Juvi tapped out. He tells Juvi that he's SOAR-RY, but Juvi doesn’t buy it, so Jericho attacks Juvi again until Rey Misterio Jr. comes down for the save. Rey and Juvi do some double-team shit, including Juvi springboarding Rey up to a seated Jericho on the top (!!!) for a Super Frankensteiner.


  • Scott Hall and Lex Luger have a match in which I am just waiting for the eventual run-in. I don’t know what’s going to happen or who’s going to run in, but I sort of want them to get right to that point. Hall does a really shitty surfboard in the middle of the match that’s super-boring, so yeah. Let’s just rush it to the finish. I feel like Luger was so good in-ring in 1996 and through most of 1997, but lately, his matches have sorta stunk. But, I mean, people loved it when Luger reversed the hold! They went nuts! Even though it was like a good two, three minutes of a shitty hold that didn’t look painful at all! Now there’s a dueling sleeper spot. This match stinks. Finally, Luger starts his whole comeback and starts to rack Hall, which is when Macho runs down. OK, thank you, we could have done this earlier. Luger hits a back elbow on Hall from the second rope during this post-match jibber-jabber that’s pretty cool, though. Larry Z. comes down a bit late and doesn’t make the save. Luger’s the one who has to save Larry by re-entering the ring with a steel chair.


  • It's main event time! Michael Buffer’s here to bring out Hulk Hogan and the Giant. Hogan comes out wearing a neck brace, though. Well, we have only ten minutes left here, so let’s see what sort of swerve we’ve got booked. Bischoff is prattling on about how hurt Hogan is and how he can’t wrestle, so the Giant casually walks over and grabs Hogan by the neck and hauls him into the ring. OK, that ruled. Hogan takes a beating for most of this match until a wandering Kevin Nash at ringside distracts the Giant enough for Hogan to take over. This was all okay, but not their best work. Hogan does slam the Giant, though, which as a heel, I don’t think he should ever do. He also hits a legdrop and gets a visual three count! Savage feints a run-in, which is what stops the ref from counting three. The Giant then chokeslams Hogan for three. Man, fuck off, Hogan. Nash and Savage tangle, but Luger runs in and hits Nash before Nash can Jackknife Savage so that Luger can get at Savage first. Then, the B-Teamers run in while someone in the front row racks his buddy. Sting shows up after that, but as hot as the fans are for all this, I think it sort of sucked. Why is Hogan getting visual three counts onthe Giant? No one ever booked that guy right. He came around fifteen years too late.


  • I liked most stuff (minus the kickboxing-ish match and the slow-play of the Steiners' breakup) until Hall/Luger, at which point I think this show flat-out sucked. But I guess three-hour Nitros mean more of the midcard stuff I like? Maybe? No, no, I know it’s going to be mostly shit that's added to the cards. But still, that midcard is as sexy as people said it was at the time. Lots of great stuff there. 3.75 out of 5 Stinger Splashes.
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Thunder Interlude – show number three  – 22 January 1998

"The WCW Gang does a shitload of run-ins"

  • Tony S. promises a resolution to the WCW World Championship being currently upheld, and that resolution will be announced at Souled Out and involve…Sting (okay)…Hogan (*sigh* I guess)…Scott Hall (sure, he’s #1 contender after winning the battle royal at WW3)…and Roddy Piper (I mean, yeah, okay, he’s 2-1 against Hogan in WCW, but dammit all anyway)…


  • Konnan comes out for a singles match with Scott Steiner…Steiner generally overpowers Konnan…Konnan really is a bit much while selling his back…Buff and Scott Norton run in to save Konnan and cause a DQ…Rick Steiner and Ray Traylor come in for the save, though Scotty doesn’t need the help as it turns out…Oh no, another six-man tag with these goons is booked for Souled Out…yuck, but at least it’ll lead to Scotty’s heel turn finally…Scotty’s more interested in pose-offs with Buff than anything else…


  • Kevin Nash speaks…he’s predicting that he’ll get that cash bond the Giant and WCW put up by the end of the night…maybe the Giant should just sit this show out, then?...Nash: “The Giant wants me worse than a lap dance after twenty years at sea”…Nash doesn’t want anyone to mistake his dipping and dodging of the Giant for fear…he’s enjoying the psychological torture that he’s putting the Giant through by baiting him…Nash is entertaining as FUCK, IMO…


  • A tag match pits La Parka and Silver King against Super Calo’s crazy ass and Chavo Guerrero Jr....The crowd is entirely too distracted by Raven coming to ringside…Park and Silver King team up on a nice double-stomp across the apron to Calo…ooh, a crucifix toss from Silver King on Calo!...weird double-enziguri counter that’s visually muddled and leads to a hot tag…Chavo hits a suicide dive on Park and Calo hits a super headscissors on King for the win…Not a bad match, especially after Park goes nuts with a chair post-match…Juvi and Lizmark Jr. run in for the save...El Dandy (whom I don’t doubt) and Psicosis run in too because why the fuck not…Chavo hits a wild somersault to the floor and basically bodies fly all over the place, and it’s fun to watch…


  • Nick Patrick hijacked a camera pre-show to cut an interview about how wronged he’s been or whatever, but when Rick Martel arrives at the arena behind him, Martel is jumped by Kidman and Saturn and thrown into the door, which shatters…That was neat…


  • WCW’s putting on another Real Audio-exclusive show, this time in Boston rather than Seattle…Ah, Real Audio…Those were the days…


  • Marty Jannetty was very good on Nitro this week, and draws Dean Malenko on Thunder tonight…Malenko is a markedly worse dance partner than Benoit, so I’m interested to see what Jannetty does with him here…Jannetty at least works the mat stuff enough to make it more interesting…it’s too bad that Jannetty is a walking mess because he’s really fun in the ring…This match isn’t great, but I think Jannetty keeps things enjoyable enough…Jannetty whiffs on a Showstopper and gets double-underhook suplexed and wrapped in the Texas Cloverleaf for the Malenko victory…


  • Kendall (spelled Kendell on the chyron) Windham walks out to get squashed by the man, GOLDBERG…I like Goldberg’s mat wrestling and transitions, sue me…Windham’s lariat and punches just piss Goldberg off all the more…spear, Jackhammer, splat, is how I think that line goes…But aren’t the splat and the Jackhammer basically happening at the same time?...


  • Scott Hall comes out for a little survey…he says “Hey, yo,” and a significant part of the crowd answers back with a “Hey, yo”…Huntsville, Alabama is mostly WCW country, as it turns out…Hall has words for the Giant and Larry Z....Louie Spicolli, who loves the Outsiders, comes out with what he claims are Larry’s golf clubs…Spicolli breaks a couple of them…Larry comes out in one heck of a suit jacket, let me tell you…Larry calls Hall and Spicolli “Abbott and Costello” in what is one sick burn…We get an impromptu fight between Spicolli and Zbyszko, but Larry bails before Hall can interject…Larry Z. promises to have a second for the Souled Out match, and I’m pretty sure a random Dusty Rhodes turn is on the way…


  • We get a random Rey Misterio Jr./Eddy Guerrero match on Thunder…Truly, it was an age of riches…Rey sells a knee injury and Eddy works it, including with a tope con hilo onto it…Eddy is dumped outside, and Chris Jericho runs right past him and attacks Misterio’s knee, drawing a DQ and saving his title shot…Eddy’s not pleased, but he’d rather make amends for the moment and help Jericho beat up Rey…Once Rey gets dumped, Eddy and Jericho face off…Chris Benoit comes down for his match against Jericho, and Eddy begs off, though Jericho doesn’t see why…Jericho’s facial expression when he spots Benoit is so huge, definitely something that plays to the back row, much like Konnan’s selling of his back earlier tonight…but (I can’t believe I’m making this comparison) like DDL acting on stage versus in a film, it comes across as too much on the screen…


  • So, Benoit and Jericho starts as Dean Malenko comes out and attacks Eddy, then helps carry Rey out…There’s a break early, and when we come back, Jericho’s getting beaten down and only gets control with a spin wheel kick…Jericho fucks around after hitting a Lionsault instead of covering…Jericho, like Eddy did last year, has gotten quickly and completely over as a heel…Benoit snaps off a German suplex to start his comeback…Jericho misses another spin wheel and gets Crossfaced…He taps out immediately to save his health for Sunday’s title match, which is smart, admittedly…


  • OK, now we segue into Benoit standing off with Raven, who sits at ringside…In a GREAT tease, we head into break just as Raven rushes the ring and jumps Benoit while Benoit’s back is turned…That ruled…Great job segueing through three or four different confrontations...When Bischoff and his booking team would pull this off, it was always excellent television...


  • Hogan and Bischoff have another pointless masturbatory segment…Nothing of note was done or said…


  • Saturn and Rick Martel match up next…The Cruiserweight and TV Championships are changing hands a bit regularly, but it certainly feels less like random booking fuckery and more like the divisions are hyper-competitive…Martel charges out and fires off on Saturn…Lodi and Kidman come to ringside and run a distraction to help Saturn…Saturn eventually gets Martel on the mat and transitions into a couple of armbars…Martel transitions to an STF-ish sort of deal that is Cena-like in its snugness…after a commercial break, we head toward the end run…Martel rolls through a sunset flip into a Quebec Crab for the submission victory, then dodges a Kidman splash to boot…


  • Scott Hall’s back out for his main event match with the Giant…There are six minutes of run-time left, so I doubt we get anything much like a match, unlike the Giant/Hogan match on Nitro this week…The Giant dominates for about three minutes of match time before Hogan and Nash wander out…Nash hits the Giant with a loaded first while the ref is distracted…Hogan jumps in while Pee-Wee Anderson has his back turned to admonish Nash…Savage tries to intervene, but Luger stops him…meanwhile, the Giant double-goozles Hogan and Hall while Nash laughs at Savage being racked by Luger…The Giant chokeslams Hall, and Nash jumps in and clubbers Giant…it’s SO DUMB that WCW didn’t put a clause in that if Nash initiates contact, he forfeits the bond, and I just cannot get over how fucking stupid this angle is…The Giant pitches a fit and just rips the ringpost up in a rage rather than going after Nash…That was a neat visual, but not neat enough to save this angle…


  • This was a good show, even if the main event stuff and nWo intrigue is a drag…I give it a WOOOOO
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Souled Out ’98 notes:

  • Can you imagine how exciting this show would be if Sting were conducting his first defense of the WCW Championship after winning it at Starrcade in the nWo's own house? Oh well.


  • Dusty suddenly deciding to rock an ugly orange-and-purple WCW cap at the commentary desk seems like an ominous bit of foreshadowing.


  • There’s an eight-man tag between Super Calo, Lizmark Jr., Juventud “not actually a heel, sike” Guerrera, and Chavo Guerrero Jr. and their opponents La Parka, Silver King, Psicosis, and El Dandy. I will only point out the spots that wow me in some way. Dusty pronounces “lineage” as “linerage” and it makes me chuckle. La Parka catches a Juvi crossbody and shuffles while carrying him, but nothing exceptionally cool happens immediately after. I don’t want to minimize that there are some nice moves, but these multiman lucha matches with no tags and lots of choreographed dives feel like exhibitions rather than athletic contests. Moves have more impact when they’re part of (what I recognize as) a consistent narrative. The crowd likes it though, especially the series of dives everyone gets to calmly waiting opponents on the outside. In the ring, Chavo hits a tornado DDT on Psicosis for the win. La Parka isn’t having it and hits all the faces with chairshots, dances, hits the heels with chairshots, then stands on the chair and dances again before strutting out. La Parka fucking RULES.


  • Holy shit, Raven’s going to wrestle a match. He’s finally going to wrestle Chris Benoit after like two months. The Flock gets kicked out of the ringside area. We’ll see if that sticks. Raven is sad about it, but he’s used to being alone, being a bullied latchkey kid and all. Anyway, Dusty says “accolades,” but he says it “ackulades,” and I love Dusty and his idiosyncratic speech. Raven jumps Benoit early and throws him around ringside. Raven really puts a beating on Benoit for the first few minutes, who can only fight back with a backslide for two. Raven puts in liberal use of a chair, including a snapmare onto the chair and then a bulldog onto the chair, the latter of which gets two. Benoit finally fires off a drop toehold that knocks Raven into the chair to get a bit of space.


  • This is an excellent brawl, very physical and not just relying on plunder shot after plunder shot. I love that Raven is willing to roll in and out of the ring to get as much space as he can. It doesn’t help him, though; he eats a vertical suplex on the ramp that had to hurt, like damn. The crowd pops for Benoit placing the chair on Raven’s head and stomping it, and they love this idiot knocking himself out by smashing the chair into Raven’s face with a flying headbutt. Benoit beats the ten-count and rolls onto Raven, but only gets a 2.9. Benoit tries for a Northern Lights Suplex, but Raven reverses it into an Evenflow DDT. Benoit again beats the count first and only gets two. Raven gets to his feet and goes for the Evenflow again, but Benoit reverses it into a Crippler Crossface, and Raven refuses to quit; he loses when he passes out from the pain, but not before laughing while in the hold/at the futility of man or some shit. Kidman tries to come down, but Malenko cuts him off. Riggs and Lodi come down to change the odds in the Flock’s favor while Van Hammer carries Raven out. Eventually, the faces clear the ring. I didn’t remember anything about this match and was delighted at how great it was on this viewing.


  • Chris Jericho has a sizable weight advantage in his Cruiserweight title shot against Rey Misterio Jr., but he doesn’t have the speed advantage, the latter of which Misterio uses to dodge a wild swing and then slap Jericho in the face early on. Jericho uses his weight advantage with a shoulder block shortly after. However, Misterio works in a wrinkle when he sells a no-contact knee injury after faking a dive. I’m honestly not sure it’s a good wrinkle, though. If this match was just a size vs. speed deal, it’d have been better than Misterio working injured and having to try to sit in headlocks and finagle flash pinfalls. I do want to note that what we get is still quite good, though. Jericho drops Misterio neck-first on the ropes, hits a double-underhook backbreaker, and uses the stairs to vault himself at Rey for a flying forearm.


  • Jericho disrespectfully kicks at Rey’s head. Someone in the crowd yells C’MON JERICHO reproachfully, and Jericho turns around, looks at him, shrugs, and says WHAT?! Man, Jericho’s heeling is so good. I get why everyone loved him. The thing is that he’s such a scumbag that it’s impossible to root for him even as you enjoy his nonsense. Rey fights back and goes for a springboard rana from the top, but Jericho catches him on the way down and transitions smoothly into the Lion Tamer for the submission and the gold. That was a SLICK finish. Jericho quotes Sally Field in his victory speech. When the crowd boos, Jericho gives them a reason to boo (his words) by destroying Rey’s knee. He’s Canadian, so he apologizes for it on his way back up the ramp.


  • I’m surprised at how good this PPV has been so far. I don’t recall people saying that any of the Souled Out PPVs are classics. I have trepidation that this show goes suddenly downhill or something.


  • Oh yeah, maybe one reason this show doesn’t get much love as far as I know is that the WCW World Championship makes its lone PPV appearance with J.J. Dillon so that he can yammer on about this stupid-ass “vacating of the gold” angle. Roddy Piper comes out; apparently, he consulted with Dillon on what to do. I bet he consulted himself right into a title shot, huh? I’d be madder, but he kayfabe deserves it, honestly. Roddy Piper is a Pop Culture Wizard: Bill Clinton, Bill Clinton’s proclivity for seeking sexual congress outside of his marriage, using NOT! as a way to negate a statement with a little bit of ‘TUDE, Eddy Munster. So anyway, Piper calls Sting, Scott Hall, and Hulk Hogan out to the ring. The decision: Hogan and Sting wrestle at SuperBrawl, Hall gets a shot at the winner at some later date. We could have decided that in less time than this! Hall’s pissed about not getting his shot at SuperBrawl (which is fair!) and leaves Hogan behind when Hogan wants to square up to Sting and Piper.


  • Let’s hope the show picks up for my tastes after that segment, though if I’m honest, the crowd was into it.


  • Booker T. and Rick Martel are next up. I’m just waiting for Booker to carelessly beal Martel into full retirement, though I don’t know when that actually happens. Is it this match? Are there multiple matches between the two? This match is good, though! Wow, there’s some really great wrestling on this show, and with a lot of variety to boot. I do have to ask: Does Booker kayfabe drop a weak elbow because he knows the wrestler will dodge and leave themselves open for a side kick? I think once Book started to use the Spinaroonie as a start for his big comeback after a long heel control segment, that was way better. Anyway, very good match, which doesn’t surprise me from these two. Lots of simple counter-wrestling here, and some cool spots. I really liked, for example, the transition where Book countered a leapfrog with a headbutt into the midsection; Martel sells it as a low blow in order to draw the ref, distract Booker, and turn the match in his favor.


  • Martel busts out a gutwrench suplex and a spinebuster and tries to work the lower back to set up for the Quebec Crab in a varied, interesting bit of control. Even his chinlock segment isn’t just a boring obvious rest segment; he combines the chinlock with a knee to the lower back. Booker gets two off a sunset flip somewhere in there, but looks like he’s cooked. Martel locks on the Quebec Crab, but he has Booker too close to the ropes and Book breaks the hold and hits an axe kick when they’re both standing again. A side slam and a Harlem Hangover (with a boot to poor Martel’s mush) ends the match. Martel feints a heel turn, but shows mutual respect to Booker for his victory. And there was no wild beal, so that happily means Martel’s around for longer! Anyway, Saturn attacks Martel after the match, and Booker has to rush back and chase Saturn away.


  • Scott Hall (w/ Louie Spicolli) faces off with Larry Zbyszko (w/ Dusty Rhodes, ugly WCW cap, and all-denim outfit). So, a couple weeks ago, Hall offhandedly said that Larry Z. was nowhere near the caliber of champ as Dusty Rhodes was, that Dusty had helped Hall break into the business, and that deep down, he knew that Dusty was proud of what Hall had accomplished in wrestling. That does do a good job of foreshadowing a Rhodes heel turn, but who the fuck wants to boo Dusty at this point? I sure don’t.


  • Oh yes, the match! Larry Z. is still a solid enough worker in his older age. Spicolli throws a punch at Larry Z. when the ref’s not looking, and Dusty wanders over and backs him off. Hall does an okay enough control segment, but hey, the crowd starts chanting LAR-RY to fire Zbyszko up, so it’s effective, I suppose. Wait, then a LAR-RY SUCKS chant starts in response! OK, those two groups of fans having a chant-off made this match better. Then a HALL SUCKS chant starts after that! Man, this rules. OK, I like this match now. We get dueling chants through most of this Hall control segment, and the nWo fans make sure to ostentatiously pop for Hall hitting a fallaway slam. Big pop for Hall calling for the Razor’s Edge. Big, obviously competing pop for Larry Z. blocking it and going on the attack.


  • A Larry Z. spin kick knocks the ref down, and when Hall goes over to check on the ref, Larry Z. plays possum and catches Hall in a guillotine when Hall wanders back over. Spicolli jumps in, and Rhodes cuts Spicolli off and drills him with a couple of Bionic Elbows. Larry holds Hall for an elbow, but Rhodes swerves (ha!) and drills Larry, then takes off his denim jacket to reveal an nWo shirt to what I admit is a MASSIVE, somewhat shocked pop/groan of dismay. They all drop elbows on Larry Z. and then cover his face with the ugly WCW cap. How did this end up being so awesome in the moment even though it’s all nonsense in the bigger picture? I don’t know. This is peak MNW WCW, though – do something with no logic and no future payoff for an immediate pop.


  • The six-man tag (Steiners and Ray Traylor versus Buff Bagwell, Konnan, and Scott Norton) is a good emotional cool-down after that last match. So, this match is actually interesting because Traylor and Rick Steiner freeze Scott out. Scott goes into roid rage and, after Vincent trips Rick, Scott grabs the ref and yells YOU DO YOUR FUCKIN’ JOB right in front of the nWo-fan contingent in the crowd, which pops madly for this. The match itself is on the border between “inoffensive” and “crappy,” but the fun is in watching Scott go bananas. He curses at the ref, points his finger in Traylor’s face and accuses him of plotting with Rick pre-match to freeze him out, and goes full-on “manic Dennis Reynolds trying to pretend that he’s not shook” with his clapping on the apron. Rick tags both his partners at the same time. Scott dumps Norton on his head; Vincent and Ted DiBiase throw hands. Finally, Steiner dumps Konnan with a Steiner Screwdriver for three. Buff and Steiner have a posedown to mark the end of the match. Buff cuts what I can only describe as a smoky “fuck me” look at Scott before leaving. Scott and then Buff made this worth watching.


  • While the post-Starrcade build to Kevin Nash vs. the Giant hasn’t been to my liking, I’ve been excited about this matchup actually happening on PPV since the build started somewhere in November of 1997. Two big dudes doing impact moves is the best. For example: The Giant back suplexes Nash to get out of a headlock, then drops a big elbow that shakes the ring. That was great. The Giant boot chokes Nash, who escapes the ring and parleys with Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff after the ref breaks it. Nash struggles to get purchase in this match, not keeping control for long whenever he can get it, though I want to give him credit for leapfrogging the Giant on a rope run and then doing a shitty tope that the Giant caught in mid-air. Come on, that is COOL. When I’m Emperor of the Milky Way, you can be sure that I’ll be banning all pro wrestlers under 6’8 (with exceptions for wrestlers at least 6’3 that have Goldberg-level intensity and Jackhammer skills).


  • Hogan hammers the Giant with a chair outside the ring while the ref’s back is turned, but the Giant beats the count. Nash is dismayed, but he enjoys his first comfortable control of the match here. Nash throws elbows, forearms, and knees, but the Giant survives and makes a comeback with an inverted atomic drop and a bunch of clotheslines. The Giant’s feeling himself and signals for the chokeslam, so it’s time for Bisch and Hogan to run a distraction. Bisch gets on the apron and gets chokeslammed so that Hogan can hand a whole-ass carafe of hot coffee to Nash. Nash splashes Giant with the coffee and hits a low blow before damned near breaking the Giant’s neck on a botched Jackknife. Don’t turn him over to cover him, geez! So I liked the match, hated the coffee-based interference, and was staggered by the spectacle of Nash goddam near murdering the Giant. Sweet fuck.


  • Ric Flair/Bret Hart holds no interest for me. I’m sure a WCW-focused fan who wasn’t fucking with WWF in 1992 would have been into it, though. The kid who got Bret’s glasses was like FUCKIN’ GIVE ‘EM TO ME, but he said that with only an intense look and a point of his finger. I guess you get the glasses when you’re that self-assured. Bret’s so good, that’s all I can say. He does the little things like cinch up on a side headlock to force Flair’s shoulders to the mat for a flash two-count. Bret pops the Figure Four on early just to showboat. Bret outworks Flair on the mat, and then a frustrated Flair gets out-chopped, to boot. I mean, I am LOVING this so far.


  • It's so weird how the Hitman can have me legit rooting for him like when I was a kid. I’m old now, old and cynical, but put Bret in a match and I’m into being a partisan Hitman fan. What Flair does do better than Bret is cheating, though. One eye poke helps him gain a foothold in the match. Bret locks on a sleeper, but gets countered out of it with a back suplex. Flair goes back to his cheating ways by distracting the ref so he can hit a low blow, and finally, he’s in control. I’m surprised at the LET’S GO BRET chant. WCW crowds have been more pro-Flair than this one has been.


  • This match is about as good as a match between Bret and Flair can be. It’s better than any of their WWF matches, but also it feels like Bret has had more control of this match than he had in the WWF stuff. That Iron Man match they had was fucking DREADFUL, probably the worst WWF-style sixty-minute Iron Man match I’ve ever had to sit through. That also was a lot of Flair control with Hennig chicanery on the outside.


  • So, Flair stuffs a ringpost Figure Four attempt, beats Bret around the outside of the ring, kicks out of a couple Bret flash pinfall attempts, then chopblocks Bret as he argues with the ref. Flair locks on a Figure Four. Hart survives after turning it over, then fires up after eating a few Flair knife-edged chops. Hart goes into the 5MoD and gets all the requisite two-counts that one might expect. The 5MoD would be so much better in a company that uses tiered finishers. Bret hits a superplex, wraps Flair in the Sharpshooter, and gets the tap-out victory. This was a match somewhere between “decent” and “good,” I think, but I just enjoy watching Bret’s ring philosophy in action.


  • I’m not sure that I’d end this show with Randy Savage and Lex Luger unless nWo-related fuckery of the “will they break up or won’t they?” type was coming. Liz hits Luger in the back to distract him so that Savage can get the early jump. Savage gets a couple of early two-counts. Liz cheats with a bandana choke, and when she denies doing anything to the ref, Heenan says, “I believe a search is in order.” Look, Heenan-netico needs to settle down, yes, but also have you seen early-1998 Liz?! I don’t necessarily condone his words, but I understand them.


  • They work around Luger being distracted at getting revenge on Liz for her constant interjections for the next part of this match. Then they brawl into the stands, and I guess it’s fine because it also sets this match apart from what’s come before it, even the Raven/Benoit stuff that was much more violent brawl than this match’s wandering brawl. Luger hits the loaded forearm back in the ring, then hits a powerslam as Scott Hall comes out with a chair. Hogan comes out after him and tries to stop Scott Hall for some reason; Hall gets on the apron, Luger pushes Savage into Hall and racks Mach on the rebound for the victory. The nWo immediately runs in to beat Luger down, and Sting flies down for the save. Aw, the two buddies are back and causing in-ring havoc together. Luger racks Nash while Sting puts the Scorpion Death Lock on Hogan. The crowd LOVES IT.


  • That was a show with no classic matches, but a bunch of good ones, a definite great one (Benoit/Raven), and a feel-good main event ending. That’s as good a PPV as you’re going to turn out under the circumstances of the post-Starrcade booking of the main event. If you haven’t watched this show in a while, you’d give yourself a treat to fire up Peacock and watch through it again.
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Show #125 – 26 January 1998

"The one that initiated two face turns that I'm not sure Bischoff meant to be face turns"

  • Stop asking me if I want to skip the glorious classic WCW Nitro intro, Peacock. The answer is always NO.


  • Just as I was getting going with the reviews here, they added Thunder and expanded Nitro by an hour. Of course. On the good side of things, at least I’ll have a wrestling project to occupy my time with through 2029.


  • So, are they building to a Larry Z./Dusty match? I don’t remember this happening, but I well may have blocked it out.


  • The Undoubtable El Dandy (it’s wild that this is what most American fans know about El Dandy, if anything) faces off with Ultimo Dragon in the opener. We have a nice little opening that the crowd doesn’t notice because they’re too busy chanting RAVEN SUCKS at the arriving Flock members. There’s a spot where Dragon stands around waiting on Dandy to position himself for a double-axehandle, but it’s okay because he counters it, so it just looks like Dandy kayfabe badly miscalculated his odds. A Dragon Sleeper shortly after that gives Dragon the win. OK, my appetite is now whetted for some more pro wrestling action. Decent opener.


  • Luger talks about Kevin Nash dumping the Giant on his head at Souled Out in the outro. It was gnarly and I agree that we should all just pretend that Nash tried to paralyze the Giant intentionally.


  • Gene Okerlund is at a wild Nitro party in some Chattanooga-area house, trying to talk to as many young women as possible, of course.


  • Brad Armstrong comes out wearing an “Armstrong Curse” t-shirt. I mean, what curse? Your doofus brother is playing Catchphrase Roulette over on USA Network and getting way over right at that very instant! I guess it’s more like “Brad Armstrong is cursed to be murdered by Goldberg” tonight. Larry Z. comes out against women’s suffrage while Armstrong jumps Goldberg, but poor old BA gets press-slammed. He bails so that he can get Goldberg to follow him and dump him back in the ring, and he does in fact cut Goldberg off, but Goldberg eats a few forearms and we get a spear and Jackhammer in short order.


  • Page, who didn’t wrestle at all at Souled Out, huh, that’s weird, is disgusted by Nash botching that Jackhammer on the Giant in the outro.


  • They replay the Giant getting folded like an accordion like fifteen times. No thank you. They’re gonna do this with Sid’s leg exploding, too. ABSOLUTELY no thank you on that.


  • J.J. Dillon says something that is unfortunately true: People don’t move to update rules and regulations until AFTER a tragedy happens, at least in the U.S. There’s no sense of preventative measures being taken anywhere in American life, and why should WCW be any different? But he needs to hurry up and get to his point, which is what WCW’s gonna do now that Giant got spiked. What’s going to happen is that WCW bans the powerbomb and Nash gets over as a face powerbombing dudes like a rebel. I mean, this announcement that the powerbomb is banned gets BOOED. It also is a bad idea to make it a blanket ban – some real Bill Watts “we banned top-rope moves” energy here, except that at least that Watts rule was used effectively for drama in matches (most memorably in the Rude/Steamboat Beach Blast '92 Iron Man match)


  • Konnan versus Jerry Flynn is kind of a random idea for a match, but okay! Flynn bosses Konnan for the first couple of exchanges, so Konnan bails and jaws at the crowd. Then, he orders Vincent onto the apron as a distraction so that he can get control of the match for once. Konnan has some boilerplate control, but eventually eats a back kick and then a tope (?!) from Flynn. Back in the ring, Flynn hits a few corner kicks, and then floats over on a powerslam for two. Konnan blocks a sloppy sunset flip for two, then is able to block a kick and turn it into a Tequila Sunrise for the win. I need a word for “oddity that isn’t like, some great piece of pro wrestling art, but is kinda fun in part because of its strangeness.”


  • More replays of Giant’s neck getting crunched. Again, I’m good! Once was enough.


  • Apparently, Chattanooga’s Nitro Party has a sponsor called Krystal Burgers? Hold on, checking the internet: This looks like pretty good trash food, TBH.


  • Mongo McMichael is interviewed by Mike Tenay, who is handling Okerlund’s duties in the arena tonight. Mongo is angry about all these new dudes showing up trying to make a living at pro wrestling or whatever. He’ll fight who the fuck ever, which draws Davey Boy Smith down to answer that “who the fuck ever” callout. The British Bulldog “needs a big bone to chew on” and would like Mongo “to be that bone.” Mongo plans to teach Bulldog “some new tricks.” Then Bulldog says that they’ll fight on Monday Nitro on TNT WCW, actually, he said “on WCW.” Can you believe that this fucking thicko Bulldog had the nerve to insult the intelligence of our own Guerrilla Monsoon?


  • Buff Bagwell sorta wants to fuck Scott Steiner, IMO, at least that’s the storyline in my head, and he’s going to wrestle Rick Steiner next because Rick is the man who is keeping him from Scott. Buff jumps Rick (in a passionate rage, IMO), but Rick takes over (defending the man he loves, IMO), and then Buff brings Vincent in to help him control Rick (as Buff only wishes he could control his muscle lust for Scott, IMO). So yeah, lots of what I consider very obvious subtext in this match layout. Eventually, Vincent interferes once too many times and Scott comes out to cut him off. Rick hits the second-rope bulldog, but Scott presses Vincent into the ring on top of everyone, which causes the ref to call for the bell. Scott shoves the ref in response, then leaves while yelling I HATE REFEREES. THEY’RE INCOMPETENT AND STUPID. I mean, tour de force performance from Scotty there.


  • Kevin Nash and Eric Bischoff come out to pretend that they care about the Giant’s neck getting jacked up, but to actually care about being singled out by Dillon’s anti-powerbomb ruling. Bisch says that they both “feel Bill Clinton’s pain” w/r/t media manipulation just to get a little more cheap heat. Nash tells a story about the Giant wanting to give up, so Nash splashing him some coffee as a stimuli and then jump-starting him with a spike powerbomb. He compares the Giant to Old Yeller, and honestly, this dude is just too funny for me to hate him. What a goof. He declares himself Big Sexy, the Giant Killer, then asks for all his fan mail to be sent TO A VAN DOWN BY THE RIVER. Nash’s combination of ironic humor and random pop culture references ages VERY well, actually, and makes up what I’m pretty sure is about 72% of all internet humor in 2023.


  • Wayne Bloom comes down to the ring – sure, why not – to wrestle Jim Neidhart. C’mon Bisch, you can’t miss the chance to run Minnesota Wrecking Crew/Beverlys against the Hart Foundation on one of these shows. Do it for the culture. This match is inoffensive. Bloom hits a snap suplex on the mats! That’s cool! Bloom gets a few two counts, but misses a series of elbows and, after regaining control briefly, gets caught on a dive attempt and powerslammed for three.


  • Ray Traylor comes out and cuts a bewildering promo about how much the nWo sucks. I mean, the way he gets around to making that point is weird. He just lists off some basic characteristics of people who are better than the nWo. Some of them, he lists twice! Then he challenges Kevin Nash to a match later this evening.


  • Psicosis and Chavo Guerrero Jr. have a solid little TV match. It’s got lots of pace and explosive moves. Psicosis blunts a flurry of Chavo offense by halting on a dropdown attempt and hitting an elbow, but Chavo gets back on top and hits a springboard bulldog for two. Both men struggle over control when Chavo shoves Psicosis from the ropes to the floor, then follows up with a spectacular plancha. He goes in for the kill, but gets trapped on the top rope; he’s able to turn a super back suplex attempt for a two-count. He tries a bridging German suplex next – two count. He stops a Psicosis top-rope attempt, but gets his superplex attempt blocked and eats a guillotine legdrop for three. Psicosis is an exceptionally good TV worker, I have to say. Every week he comes out and puts on solid performances with at least one or two cool spots woven into them.


  • Scott Hall and his bag carrier Louie Spicolli come to the ring. Spicolli is wrestling to impress Hall here; he’ll face Juventud Guerrera. So, Spicolli isn’t long for this earth, unfortunately. I think he dies in the middle of this feud, as a matter of fact, and Larry Z. makes sure to keep kayfabe about him in a somewhat tasteless way! Spicolli is a good shithead heel in the ring, very cocky and careless, and of course upset when Juvi takes advantage of his cockiness and carelessness.


  • In the middle of this match, Macho Man gets out of his limo rented Lumina and struggles to open the trunk so that he can get his bag out. We watch him spend a good twenty-ish seconds trying to open the trunk before we get another twenty seconds of him storming into the building…where he runs in on this match and piledrives Juvi before taking Penzer’s mic and yelling about how upset he is at Lex Luger. In the background, Spicolli hits Juvi with a move and counts his own pin, LOL. That was a pretty funny background visual. Savage is pretty much done with the nWo as his backup, he says, which probably Spicolli should have been listening to before patting Savage on the back! Spicolli gets dumped before Savage goes back to yelling maniacally. Luger doesn’t come out, though – the nWo does.


  • Savage calls them A BUNCHA CLOWNS while Bisch tries to calm him down. He tells Hogan YOU MAKE ME SICK to a pretty big  pop. Macho’s cracking me up here with his sarcasm. Bisch asks him to listen to Hogan and Macho sardonically says DYIN’ TO HEAR IT, and it made me giggle. Hogan’s basically like You were getting your ass beat, so we came down to help you because you kinda suck, man. I’m not sure those were very helpful words. Savage responds by saying that he was fine and had it all under control in the Luger match, that “you guys weren’t unbelievably coordinated when you got there” (HAHAHAHA) about the run-in, and finally, basically that Hogan looks like a bum without the WCW title. Savage is honestly killing it because he’s not doing hokey shit in this promo. He's just being aggressively sarcastic. Hogan loses it, so Savage decides to say fuck it and grab a chair. Savage is a damn beast. He was bumming me out with his out-of-date promo cutting for the past year-plus, but this RULED.


  • More Nitro Party stuff. You can guess what I would say about this segment already, so just imagine that I typed what you would expect me to type here.


  • Raven (w/ eye patch) sits in the corner, waiting for his opponent Mortis to make it to the ring. Raven doesn’t appear to have understood that the match starts at the bell as Mortis just STEAMROLLS the guy. This ends up being a pretty fun, somewhat-garbagey brawl in and around the ring. Raven finally blocks a facebuster and gets a bit of offense in. They brawl back and forth until Kanyon whiffs on a chairshot and Raven catches Kanyon with the Evenflow for the win. That was really fun stuff.


  • Vandenberg’s right back out after the break to see if at least one of his clients can get a W tonight. Wrath wrestles…Diamond Dallas Page, so nope. This is another solid match; Page starts out my being one step ahead of Wrath, culminating in a side-Russian leg sweep. Wrath is able to win the next exchange with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker, and he goes to chokes and strikes to press his advantage. Vandenberg chokes Page when the ref’s back is turned as well. Wrath turns it up bit by bit until he gets two off a diving clothesline. He goes to the tilt-a-whirl well one too many times, though, and that gives Page room for a comeback. Mortis can see what’s coming and tries to interfere, but Wrath crashes into Mortis and catches a Diamond Cutter off the rebound. Another fun TV match! The wrestling has been quite good all show. Wrath is sick of all the disrespect and shitty run-ins and gives Mortis a Death Penalty before chasing Vandenberg out of the ring. STRIKE OUT ON YOUR OWN, ADAM BOMB. YOU’VE GOT SO MUCH MORE TO GIVE.


  • Mike Tenay interviews Bret Hart about another routine Hitman victory over Ric Flair. He puts Flair over and then is like, Welp, that’s thankfully over, I’m moving on. He wants to be the champ. That’s, like, his whole gimmick.


  • Gene does his own survey at the Nitro party. WCW is the overwhelming winner.


  • Saturn’s got another shot at Booker T. and the TV Championship. The title gets passed around quite a lot (and it works because I believe in the level of competition for it) in the next few months. I’m assuming that Book doesn’t hold onto it much longer. Could tonight be the night he loses it before inevitably winning it back not that long from now?


  • Saturn and Booker have a good match here with a little bit of intensity to it. There are a number of nice counters. Booker gets two off a lariat, then works an armbar into a back kick that knocks Saturn to the floor. Saturn uses this break to gather himself, get back on the apron, and drape Booker across the top rope. Saturn and Booker counter, counter, and counter again until Saturn finally finds a capture suplex for two. Saturns slows things down with stomps and chokes. Booker blocks a vertical suplex, though, and hits one of his own.


  • I think these two should have kept the pace up; I feel like these two are credible bomb-throwers and that their matches should be shorter and more violent. Anyway, Saturn takes over again until Booker explodes into a comeback with a side kick and an axe kick. He drops Saturn with a side slam, and the Flock comes in for the beatdown as soon as Book goes to the top for a Harlem Hangover attempt. Rick Martel makes the save, and Saturn smiles as he backs away. TRIPLE THREAT. TRIPLE THREAT.


  • Chris Jericho comes out for an interview wearing both a Rey Misterio Jr. t-shirt and the Cruiserweight Championship title. Tenay admonishes Jericho for Rey’s (worked, I both assume and hope) knee injury that Jericho exacerbated with his post-match attack at Souled Out. Jericho fake cries about how much everyone loves him. He claims to be wearing the shirt as a tribute to Rey, what a piece of shit, hahaha.


  • Mongo McMichael faces off with British Bulldog in Bulldog’s WCW (re-)debut. Mongo goes right at Davey Boy, targeting Davey’s throat and then generally just clubbering the shit out of him after that. Mongo gets two off a side suplex. Mongo hits a chop block, but before he can hit the Mongo Spike, Bulldog just gets up and comes back. Clothesline, clothesline, vertical suplex from Davey Boy. That last move got two. Mongo gets a back elbow and goes straight to the chokeholds, but man, Mongo barely got up for the vertical suplex and barely got up for a running powerslam that ends up being more like a toppling powerslam. It gets three for the Bulldog (to crickets).


  • Kevin Nash (w/ coffee) heads to the ring for a match with Ray Traylor. And by “match,” I mean that Nash tosses the coffee in Traylor’s face, then Jackknifes him a) for the DQ loss and b) to massive cheers. Nash and Savage are now faces, I guess! Doug Dellinger handcuffs Nash post-match and leads him out. Nash yells GET THIS ON TAPE, I GOT A CASE before chanting ATTICA ATTICA. Holy shit, how am I expected to boo this man? You tell me because I don’t know.


  • It's pretty dumb that this is a standard Jackknife, but Traylor sells it like his neck was spiked. Even dumber that at Souled Out, the medics who came out to attend to the Giant were more concerned about his eyes that had coffee splashed into them than his neck. Muddled storytelling, to be sure, but Nash is entertaining to me, so I’ll allow it.


  • Scott Hall and Lex Luger have a main event bout to end the show. Just fast forward to Randy Savage making an appearance, that’s what I’m here for. I’ve been low on all the nWo intrigue in general, but it’s been good tonight, and what I want is for Nash and Savage to just be booked as faces even if they’re both dickheads. Hall gets a mic and says that Larry Z. must have felt “like a pervert in a raincoat at a peep show because [he] got exposed” at Souled Out. WOW. That is FANTASTIC. Larry Z. feints toward the ring, but man, that was a verbal fatality, just sit your dumb ass back down.


  • Hall/Luger as a match is perfectly cromulent, but I’m just skipping to the end because we all know that nothing that happens in this match matters until the end is near. Luger racks Hall, Savage runs in with a chair and bashes the shit out of Luger, drawing the DQ. Savage dumps Hall out of the ring and goes back to work on Luger. Mach hits a couple of Savage Elbows, but as he stands on the top for a third, Sting rappels down, kicks him off the ropes, unhooks himself, and destroys Savage with a couple of Stinger Splashes and a Scorpion Death Lock. Hogan comes out to help Scott Hall, but they just let Savage get his ass beat.


  • Mostly good work and very good talky-talk make this a damned good Nitro. 4.75 out of 5 Stinger Splashes.


Edited by SirSmUgly
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