June 23, 2011
Matt Peddycord
The Powerdriver Review

The Very Best of WCW Monday Nitro
Three-Disc Set
Released: June 7, 2011
DISC ONE

Amazing how the intro really does sum up the entire show.

Your host is Diamond Dallas Page. Who better to host this set that was there for the entire run of Nitro, that isn’t currently a part of TNA, and seems to still be in the good graces of WWE.

He mentions how WCW’s talent pool was superior to the WWE roster of the early 90s, but they lacked the innovation necessary to really compete. That is until Eric Bischoff became the leader of WCW. Hence, the invention of Monday Nitro.

Brian Pillman vs. Jushin Liger – (9/4/95, Mall of America)
From my original Nitro broadcast review. This was the best way to kick off the show – two guys who can wrestle well at a quick and more exciting pace than you are used to seeing with say someone like Hulk Hogan who is more about crowd psychology than moves. You hook the casual viewer who probably just came to see guys like Hulk or Sting or Flair and this was WCW’s opportunity to give them another reason to watch. Very smart move by WCW, and I don’t say that too often in 1995. Liger flips away from a wristlock to start and nails Pillman in the corner with a Rolling Koppou Kick. He follows up with a Moonsault Press for two. Pillman comes back with a headscissors out of the corner and tries a flying headscissors off the second rope, but ehh. They botch it up. Cover gets two. Pillman applies a three-quarter nelson on the mat and rolls Liger over for two. Liger fights to his feet and trips Pillman up for the Surfboard! Mongo insulting Heenan during the whole match is already getting annoying. They head to the floor where Liger lands a cannonball splash on Pillman off the apron. Pillman takes his turn diving on Liger from the top turnbuckle to the floor. Back in, Liger crotches Pillman up top for a superplex for 1-2-NO! Now the tide turns again as Pillman catches Liger with a dropkick as he dives off the top. Oh that’s SO Brian Pillman. Pillman ducks low off a whip for a LIGERBOMB. That gets two. Hurracanrana out of the corner from Liger gets two. Liger sets Pillman up in the corner again for something, but Pillman punches back and hits Liger with a Tornado DDT! Cover, 1-2-NO! They get into a waistlock exchange as Pillman rolls Liger up for 1-2-3. (6:55) It achieved what it set out to do, but its nowhere near what they had done in years past. Even an off-night for Pillman is a good night for a wrestling fan though. ***

WCW World Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan (w/Jimmy Hart) vs. Big Bubba – (9/4/95, Mall of America)
From my original Nitro broadcast review. Bubba works a headlock and Hogan fights out with a shoulderblock. Lots of Hogan support in his old AWA stomping grounds where he would cause near-riot crowds when a world title decision in his favor was overturned. Bubba cheapshots Hulk and avalanches him in the corner. McMichael makes the wrestling faux pas of the century by calling Hogan a technician. BWAHHAHAHA. Hogan fires back, but Bubba thumbs the eye and gives Hulk a backbreaker. Hogan catches Bubba with a boot out of the corner. He won’t fall down, so Hogan just pushes him over. Bubba nails Hulk with an uppercut and hits the Bossman Straddle! Bubba slides underneath Hogan for the uppercut from the floor and then goes after Jimmy Hart. He pulls Jimmy out of his suit and goes to nail him, but Hulk blocks his blow and gives him a punch of his own. Hogan wraps Jimmy’s suit jacket around Bubba’s head as he gives him the ten-count corner punch. We see Hulk delivering a running clothesline and a slam to set up some elbow drops and the boot rake. Bubba knees Hogan in the gut, but misses a corner splash. It looks to be curtains for Bubba until Hogan charges right into a BUBBA SLAM! Cover, 1-2-NO! Hulk up, finger point, Big Boot, LEGDROP! That does it for Bubba. (7:10) Easily Bubba’s most well-known match in WCW if not even his best match. *½

The Dungeon of Doom attack the Hulkster after the bell until Lex Luger (who made his surprise return on the same night during an earlier Sting-Flair match) makes the save! WHAT! Once the ring is cleared of the heels, Luger and Hogan back into one another and then spin around to start punching. Hogan’s completely flabbergasted! He doesn’t know whether to trust Luger or not. They go nose-to-nose until Sting and Savage separate the two. Okerlund approaches the ring to give Hogan and Luger the mic. Luger’s here to take Hogan’s WCW world title belt. Not just that, but he’s sick and tired of playing with kids. He’s here to get it on with the big boys. Luger doesn’t care when it happens, he wants his title shot. Long story short, Hogan makes a deal with Luger to wrestle him next week with a handshake.

Ric Flair & Arn Anderson vs. Hulk Hogan & Randy Savage – (1/8/96, Charleston, SC)
From my original Nitro broadcast review. Savage sells out to Hulkamania again. He’s wearing the red and yellow and waves HOGAN out the tunnel. It’s just like 1988 all over again! How’d that turn out then, Randy? Flair doesn’t want Savage – he wants Hogan and that is exactly what he gets. Hogan NO-SELLS the chops and puts Flair down on his stomach with a hammerlock. In comes Arn and Hogan sends the Horsemen running after they each take a slam. Back inside, Arn tries to suplex Savage to the floor from the apron. Savage blocks and sends Anderson into Hogan’s boot. From there, Savage flies down on Arn with a double ax handle. In the ring, Savage gives him another double sledge for two. Flair switches with Arn, but gets slammed off the top and put in the figure-four from Savage. Arn runs in and takes the same from Hogan. WHAT. That is not allowed. While the ref gets Hogan out of the ring, Arn walks over and DDTs Savage. The Horsemen continue to work over Savage as we go to break. We come back to see more of the same. Arn is being awesome by clamping on the ab stretch and getting some leverage help from Flair. Savage grabs a desperate sleeper on Arn, but gets backed into the Horsemen corner and sent to the floor to take a ride into the guardrail from Flair. Back in, Arn calls for another DDT. Savage hooks the ropes to block it and makes the HOT TAG TO HOGAN! He fights off a double-team and clotheslines both Arn and Flair over the top rope to the floor. Savage tosses Arn back in for Hulk to finish him off, but Arn reverses a whip and hits the Spinebuster! Just like in Charlotte, Hogan NO-SELLS and puts Arn away with the Big Boot and the LEGDROP. (12:17 shown) Afterwards, Pillman and Benoit are shown fighting at ringside with Sullivan and Zodiac. Meanwhile, Giant hops in the ring and dishes out CHOKESLAMS to Savage and Hogan! He wants some more, but now we see Zodiac holding the big guy off. And the transformation into the much better Booty Man begins? Who knows. WE GOTTA GO! **¼

WCW World Tag Team Champions Sting & Lex Luger vs. The Road Warriors – (2/5/96, Evansville, IN)
From my original Nitro broadcast review. You see, Sting has been all about wrestling the Road Warriors since they came back at the Clash. Lex Luger on the other hand, not so much. Sting starts with Animal. Sting gets overpowered, but fights back with a face slam and a flying clothesline for two. Luger and Hawk tag. He beats down Hawk until he tries a piledriver, but YOU CAN’T GIVE HAWK A PILEDRIVER! Hawk stands right back up and drills Lex with a clothesline and a jumping shoulderblock. Sting tags and hits a Stinger Splash on Hawk. He goes for the SCORPION DEATHLOCK, but Animal says no sir. Off a whip, Luger pulls the top rope down to send Animal flying to the floor. Back in the ring, Luger puts the boots to Animal and slams him for a bunch of elbow drops. And just as I type that, the power goes out in the Jenkins Arena. Whoops. Of course, Bischoff blames the WWF for it. As we come back, Luger is working over Animal’s back and tags Sting. He grounds Animal with a front headlock. “LOD” chants go up. Luger tags back in and powerslams Animal to set up for the TORTURE RACK, but Animal knows it’s coming and catches Lex with a back suplex. Sting and Hawk brawl to the floor while inside the ring, Animal NO-SELLS a suplex. As Animal hits Luger with a powerslam, here comes Jimmy with a metal plate of some sort. He drops it for Luger while Animal grabs him by the throat. Animal gets WHACKED in the back with the metal object, as Luger covers him for 1-2-3. (7:58) Sting is not cool with this, but it’s a win nonetheless. **¼

Lord Steven Regal vs. The Belfast Bruiser – Parking Lot Brawl (4/29/96, Albany, GA)
From my original Nitro broadcast review. And for those who don’t know, Belfast Bruiser is Finlay with long hair. These two had their first match at Uncensored in March where Finlay won by DQ after he was attacked by Regal’s other Blue Blood buddies Earl Robert Eaton and Squire David Taylor. Good times. Now they are going to meet out in the parking lot because well, we all know it, Finlay loves to fight. Finlay misses Regal and kicks THROUGH a car window. Well that’s not safe at all. Finlay grabs a piece of a cinder block, but Regal kicks it out of his hand and grinds Finlay’s face on it for crying out loud. Finlay fights back and slams what looks like a tire into Regal’s ribs. Regal gets his head bashed into a Chevy Blazer until the front bumper falls off, which is a fun weapon for Finlay. Regal elbow drops Finlay on what appears to be a GMC Jimmy! Finlay chokes Regal with a seat belt while our commentators Bischoff, Mongo and Heenan make as many bad car references and puns as possible. They fight into a truck bed where both guys smash each other’s heads on the roof. Another car window gets busted thanks to Regal. Now Finlay drops an elbow on the hood of a truck. Bischoff demands the director to go wide because this is just too gruesome. Regal tries a piledriver on a car, but Finlay backdrops him over. Regal tries for the piledriver again and this time he gets it. Holy crap. Cover, 1-2-3. (6:13) Was this WCW’s way to make the Piper-Goldust Hollywood Backlot Brawl look really weak? Because I believe they succeeded. Very stiff and brutal stuff. Wow, a piledriver on a car. I can’t get over that. ***

Ric Flair (w/Elizabeth & Woman) vs. Eddie Guerrero – (5/20/96, Monroe, LA)
From my original Nitro broadcast review. Eddie Guerrero was treated like an inconvenience the night before at Slamboree by Ric Flair and Arn Anderson, so now he gets a match with Flair since Arn is busy later in the evening with the Giant. Flair mentioned in his Highspots shoot interview that Booty Man told him after this match that he shouldn’t have giving Eddie so much offense since he was feuding with Hogan. Not sure that Flair had his story straight considering how much Flair and Eddie wrestled. Unless Brutus meant Savage (which I doubt), Hogan’s not even active right now in WCW. Eddie controls to start with a headlock. Flair and Eddie get into a great exchange of chops before Flair backs off in the corner. More chop trading as Guerrero dropkicks Flair to the floor. Guerrero’s up top, so Flair gets the heck out of there and throws a tantrum in the aisleway. He even grabs a chair, but ref Randy Anderson puts a stop to that. “Eddie” chants go up. Back in the ring, Guerrero makes Flair give chase as he drops to the floor and mocks Flair with his own strut. Eddie has this crowd in the palm of his hand right now. Eddie chops Flair to set up his signature Flair Flop. Flair begs off and suckers Eddie into the corner as he goes to the eyes. Commercial break! We come back to see Eddie escaping a chinlock. Guerrero hits some clotheslines and pulls the tights down to complete the Flying Sunset Flip for 1-2-NO! Oh, but then Flair stops a ten-count corner punch with an inverted atomic drop. Rolling Knee Drop connects as Flair begins to toil with Guerrero. Eddie gets a few quick nearfalls that don’t pay off. Flair hits a back suplex and takes a while getting to his feet to apply the FIGURE-FOUR, allowing Eddie to counter with an inside cradle for two. Flair goes for a running field goal kick, but Eddie sweeps him up and grabs a FIGURE-FOUR of his own! Flair makes the ropes and heads to the floor, only to make Eddie fly down and miss as he crumbles into the guardrail! Eddie sells an injured knee as Flair gives him a suplex on the floor. Back in the ring, Flair clips Eddie from behind. Meanwhile, Heenan calls Flair a fifteen time world champion, but Bischoff discredits Flair’s two WWF title reigns. Bischoff ~ “Those are not *wrestling* championships.” Then what are they, Eric? Heenan changes the subject real quick over to Liz and her money. Stalling suplex gets two. Eddie flips out of a back suplex and catches Flair with an O’Connor roll for 1-2-NO! Eddie hits a crossbody block, but he lands on his knee doing so and can’t cover Flair. Flair Flip in the corner leads to a dropkick off the apron to the floor. Back inside, Flair blocks a sunset flip with a fist and then struts around Eddie. In the corner, Guerrero goes to the eyes and hits a Tornado DDT on Flair! His knee is hurting him, but he still covers Flair for 1-2-NO! Eddie walks the ropes and ranas Flair. Even with those moves involving the legs, Eddie is selling the whole time. Eddie hits the FROG SPLASH, but that does his knee in. Naturally, Flair seizes the moment by applying the FIGURE-FOUR. With a little leverage help from Woman, Eddie gets his shoulders pinned to give Flair the win. (17:04 shown) Such a star-making match that should have elevated Eddie Guerrero to the next level, but as par for the course in WCW, they missed a prime opportunity. What they should have done was take the belt off Konnan at the Great American Bash and put it on Eddie instead of giving it a month later to Flair who didn’t need it in the first place. ***¾

From Nitro 5/27/96, they show the Scott Hall invasion where he interrupts a meaningless Mike Enos-Steve Doll match to send out a challenge to Eric Bischoff and WCW. You want a war? You got one. And with that one promo, the entire wrestling world would begin to change.

Skip ahead to two weeks later on 6/10/96, Scott Hall interrupts Eric Bischoff over by the announce table and shows up with his *big* surprise Kevin Nash. This is where the big boys play? Look at the *adjective*. They’re not here to play.

DDP mentions how you could immediately feel the momentum shifting from the WWE over to WCW over how this angle was getting over. Then he brings up Harlem Heat for some reason?

WCW World Tag Team Champions Sting & Lex Luger vs. Harlem Heat vs. Rick & Scott Steiner – Triangle Match (6/24/96, Charlotte, NC)
From my original Nitro broadcast review. Booker T is shown talking on a cell phone on his way to the ring. Could it be Sherri? Could be it Colonel Parker? Could it be both of them? Who could it be? Only time will tell! Sting comes out wearing something you would see from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The rules are simple: anybody can tag anybody and of course as long as you’re not on the same team, anybody can pin anybody to win the belts. Scott Steiner and Booker T start the match. Scott powers Booker around until Stevie Ray sneaks in a knee on him. Superkick from Booker gets two. Booker misses a hook kick and takes a butterfly slam. That gets two as Luger makes the save. Now we get Rick Steiner vs. Stevie Ray. Stevie Ray clubbers Rick, but misses a corner charge and takes a Release German Suplex. Steinerline gets two. Scott tags in, snapmares Stevie Ray over to Sting, and tags him into the match. See, Scott doesn’t care who gets beat up as long as it’s not him or Rick, so he’s letting these two fight it out. Stevie Ray backs Sting into the Harlem Heat and tags in Booker. Booker misses a jumping heel kick and crotches himself to go on the world’s worst K-Mart ride. Tony says it’s like riding a 10-speed without the seat. Heenan ~ “I’ve never done that, Tony. Have you?” No answer. Sting atomic drops Booker around and goes for a pump splash, but he hits knees. Stevie Ray tags in and we go to commercial. Good idea! He’s SO boring! We come back to Booker T fighting out of a sleeper with a jawbreaker on Sting. Tag to Stevie Ray, he delivers a Jim Neidhart standing powerslam for two. Sting fights out of a nerve hold, but doesn’t see a blind tag to Booker T, who wallops him with a spinning heel kick. Rick makes the save. Stevie Ray is back in and a double-KO sets up Sting falling headfirst into Stevie Ray’s testicles! I can’t think of any half-way funny euphemisms for the balls right now. Booker T gets a tag and takes flight, but eats the canvas as Sting rolls out of the way. HOT TAG TO LUGER! He powerslams Booker and calls for the TORTURE RACK! Meanwhile, the yet unnamed Scott Hall and Kevin Nash are making their way to the ring through the crowd. They’ve got baseball bats! HOLY CRAP. Charlotte’s finest swarm the ring and during the craziness, Booker T rolls up Luger for the 1-2-3 in one of the most ridiculous finishes to a title change I’ve ever seen. (9:18) Harlem Heat completely ignore the “interruption” and leave with the belts in hand. It’s just a big stand-off until we go back over to Tony and Bobby who are totally freaking out right now. **¼

There’s a date wrong here. This Luger-Bubba main event is from July 15, not July 8. Anyways, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash attack Lex Luger to end the match early so that Hulk Hogan doesn’t have to do any work once he gets to the ring. This was Hogan’s first Nitro appearance since he turned heel at the Bash of the Beach. The nWo mess around with Bubba and act like he’s maybe a fourth member of their crew before turning on him and throwing Bubba aside. Gene Okerlund jumps in the ring to interview Hulk Hogan while the Outsiders just hang around and listen. Hogan’s pissed for people booing him when he told them all about the Three Demandments that would make them successful. As for Sting, Hogan remembers meeting him at Venice Beach back ten years ago when he was a skinny little bodybuilder and he was shaking in his boots. Hogan’s sick and tired of hearing about Randy Savage blaming him for his divorce – all because he couldn’t rise to the occasion. The only problem is that he thinks he’s the greatest wrestler in the world who made pro wrestling. Yes Hulk, that is the problem. Plastic bottles begin to fill up the ring. From here, Hogan sends out a challenge to the Giant for the WCW world title at Hog Wild and then threatens to beat up the entire WCW right now. Babyface and heel alike head down to ringside, but WE’RE OUTTA TIME!

Two weeks later on July 29, Jimmy Hart runs out and interrupts a six-man tag between the Horsemen and Sting, Luger, and Savage pleading for some help backstage. There’s a Chris Benoit sighting here, folks. Once they get a camera in the back, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash are standing over Arn Anderson and Marcus Bagwell with baseball bats. Scotty Riggs gets KO’ed with a heavy-looking duffel bag. Rey Mysterio flies off the banister of a trailer, but he’s caught by Nash and thrown like a lawn dart into the trailer. Meanwhile here comes everybody who was in the ring – the saviors of WCW. As Hall and Nash retreat to their limos, Randy Savage leaps on top of the car as it drives away. There’s some serious hysteria going on backstage as everybody is screaming for help as ambulances start to arrive.

Sting & Lex Luger vs. Scott Hall & Kevin Nash – (8/12/96, Casper, WY)
From my original Nitro broadcast. By the way, this is the first ever Nitro match for the Outsiders. We were told the main event would be The Giant facing Arn Anderson, but we get this instead because we’re LIVE and things can change when you’re LIVE. WHERE ARE THE OUTSIDERS? WHY ARE THEY NOT COMING THROUGH THE TUNNEL? Bischoff and Heenan are freaking out. Okay, here they come through the crowd. Lex Luger comes through the tunnel, but he’s by himself? WHERE’S STING? Luger storms the ring and ducks the double clothesline only to turn around and drop both Outsiders with clotheslines. Luger ten-count punches Nash in the corner and then launches himself onto Hall to unload on him. Now here comes Sting through the crowd! He comes off the top with a clothesline on Nash! Together, they clean house on the Outsiders. Sting dropkicks Nash off the apron to give him a pescado while Hall catches Luger coming off the apron. Hall saves Nash and now it’s two on one until Luger makes the save for his partner. Now the Outsiders dump out Sting, leaving Luger all alone for a Side Slam. Nick Patrick is the referee for this match, which tells you why there’s no real order. Sting saves Lex and starts dishing out Stinger Splashes. He misses one on Hall and gets dumped to the floor. OH WAIT – here comes the Four Horsemen to chase the Outsiders back through the crowd and out of the arena while Nick Patrick runs to the back. Awesome. (around 4:00) This is what they should have been doing at Hog Wild. *½

From 8/26/96, the nWo interrupt a Sting/Luger-Benoit/Mongo tag main event. Ric Flair and Arn Anderson head down for the save, but that’s when the spray paint comes out. The nWo celebrate their complete and total pwnage of everybody as the crowd throws what’s left of their drinks at them. The celebration continues as they take over the announce booth.

From 9/9/96, controversial ref Nick Patrick heads to the ring during a Luger-Rick Steiner match to call for Lex to come backstage. Luger follows, but out in the parking lot it appears that recent nWo guy Ted DiBiase is talking to Sting who is sitting in a black limo! Well, what we thought was Sting anyways. Luger comes out in the rain and confronts DiBiase and out of the limo pops Sting to attack Luger. The camera REALLY needed to zoom out for a better effect, but who am I to say. Hogan, Hall, and Nash join in on the beatdown as it appeared going into Wargames that Sting had joined the nWo.

DDP calls Sting the most enigmatic character ever in WCW. While he admits the ability to connect with the fans through your words is arguably an absolute requirement to be a success in wrestling, Sting was able to become more intriguing than ever before without having to speak a single word.

From 9/16/96, Sting heads to the ring to explain his actions from last week AND Fall Brawl where he walked out on Team WCW. Once he’s in the ring talking about last week, he turns his back on the hard camera in a small gesture of ‘FCK YOU WCW’. When Sting flew into Atlanta last week and turned on Nitro, he saw everybody doubting the Stinger. All Sting did during the week was avoid his friends to see what would happen next. When he showed up to Fall Brawl and nobody trusted him after all he had done for WCW and specifically Lex Luger over the last year, everybody who doubted him can STICK IT. From now on, he considers himself not a part of WCW or the new World order, he considers himself a *free agent*. That doesn’t mean you won’t see the Stinger – you’ll just see him when you least expect it. And those are the last words you hear Sting say until after Starrcade 1997.

Moving forward to 11/18/96, Eric Bischoff is in the ring to tell the crowd that Roddy Piper still has not signed a contract to face Hollywood Hogan, but he’s going to do everything he can to make this- IS THAT BAGPIPES I HEAR? The crowd goes insane as Roddy Piper walks out the tunnel. Bischoff doesn’t look too happy to see him and Piper has got his FIGHTIN’ EYES going. He’s here to tell some truth because he’s never heard more lies in his life than when he was telling them. Piper calls Bischoff a liar and the crowd seems confused, but Bischoff looks 1000% guilty. Did you have a nice flight to Portland? Is the path to his ranch straight or crooked? He grabs Bischoff and calls him a “little piece of poop” as the Giant and the rest of the new World order grab Piper (except for Hogan who comes out when Piper has been stopped). Hogan embraces Bischoff and reminds everybody that Eric runs WCW and now he works for the nWo! Hogan continues to denigrate Piper by calling him a coward and how he was nobody before he fought Hogan. A bunch of policemen come down and have to restrain Piper while the nWo pose and watch Piper while they head to the back. Before we go, Piper says he’ll be at World War 3 with the contract for his match with Hogan in his teeth! No surrender! No retreat! Kiss his butt, Hogan.

Dean Malenko vs. Rey Mysterio Jr. – (12/30/96, Knoxville, TN)
From the original Nitro broadcast review. Once the feeling out process is over, Rey lucha armdrags Malenko to the floor and slides through the ropes for a headscissors on the floor. Just incredible. Back in, Mysterio counters a standing surfboard with a front headlock. Dean places him in the corner and then whips him into the ropes for a hoist into the air only to fall flat on his face. Gutbuster gets two. Snap suplex sets up a half crab. Butterfly suplex gets another two. Rey fights out of a backbreaker and lands on Dean off a tilt-a-whirl for two. Just when things look up for Rey, he charges and gets launched into the corner. Mysterio lands on Dean off a back superplex, but Malenko counters a rana into a powerbomb for 1-2-NO! Rey gets a few surprise nearfalls and dropkicks Malenko to the floor for a seated senton! Holy crap. Back in, Malenko counters the SPRINGBOARD HURRACANRANA into a Boston crab. Mysterio slips out into a rollup of his own for 1-2-NO! Mysterio tries a headscissors out of the corner, but Malenko counters into a side slam for two. I love it. After all their encounters in 1996, it just makes sense that Malenko would know what to look for and how to counter everything Rey tries to do. That’s good psychology. Flying headscissors from Rey connects, but the bell sounds and we have a ten-minute draw 41 seconds early. (9:19) Rey wants five more minutes, but nah. The man just can’t buy a win since he lost the Cruiserweight belt. ***¼

Final Thoughts: I thought there would be more cruiserweight matches at least involving Eddie Guerrero or Rey Mysterio, but there’s for sure enough to like for the casual fan. For younger fans, they also get a VERY basic understanding of the nWo storyline and Sting’s descent into the Crow character. So far, it’s pretty decent but doesn’t blow me away.

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