June 23, 2011
The Powerdriver Review
The Very Best of WCW Monday Nitro
Released: June 7, 2011
Your host is Diamond Dallas Page.
From 1/13/97, DDP quickly BANGS Mark Starr and then refuses Scott Hall and Kevin Nash’s advances to join the nWo. Hall takes the Diamond Cutter and then Nash misses a charge and flies over the top rope turning over a table. And from there, DDP becomes the PEOPLE’S champ.
Moving onto 3/3/97, Gene Okerlund brings out WCW Executive VP Eric Bischoff to respond to Lex Luger’s challenge last week at the end of Nitro. While Luger has no authority to make matches, Bischoff decides to make this match with the nWo a done deal where the nWo puts up the WCW belts they have won up against the future of WCW. As Bischoff plays to the crowd, Dr. Harvey Schiller (President of Turner Sports) heads down the aisle to confront Mr. Bischoff. Schiller asks him a line of questions that negates everything Bischoff has done over the past few months to WCW – including firing referees and reversing title changes at will. Of course, Eric Bischoff believes he does have that authority. Well he doesn’t. Schiller suspends Bischoff of his duties and says he doesn’t want to even hear a rumor that he’s been seen at a restroom at a WCW event. Holy crap!
Skip ahead to 3/17/97 at the end of the Steiners-Harlem Heat main event, the nWo attack to get a jump on the Steiners who have challenged the Outsiders for their tag team belts at Spring Stampede. They beat up on Harlem Heat too because they’re involved in a four-corners match at Spring Stampede to determine a #1 contender to Hollywood Hogan’s world title. Lex Luger and the Giant helps make the save. Once the nWo are in the aisleway, Sting (who proved his allegiance to WCW the night before at UnCeNSoReD) drops down from the rafters into the middle of the ring with the WCW guys. He points his bat right at Hogan who looks like he’s going to have to change his britches once he gets to the locker room.
DDP says that WCW in 1997 was getting better known from coast to coast than butter and toast. Mmm, toast.
WCW World Cruiserweight Champion Syxx (w/Kevin Nash) vs. Rey Mysterio Jr. – (4/21/97, Saginaw, MI)
Both guys take turns cranking on a headlock to start. Rey open hand slaps Syxx, but YOU DON’T SLAP A MAN. Syxx whips Rey into the ropes and slam dunks him on the mat. He follows up with the sliding legdrop and the Three Kick Combo in the corner. Bronco Buster connects. Syxx takes a page out of fellow nWo-ite Mr. Wallstreet’s playbook and cheats using the ropes during an ab stretch. Tony mentions how Scott Hall has been MIA for weeks now. Rey reverses the hold, but Nash distracts the ref while Syxx hiptosses Rey over the top rope since that was still a DQ back then. With Rey trying to regroup, Nash stalks Rey around the ring. Back inside, Rey comes back with headscissors takedowns. VINTAGE MYSTERIO! Syxx ends up bailing to the floor, but you’re not safe out there with Rey in the ring! Somersault plancha by Mysterio! Rey heads back in to celebrate, but here comes Nash to big boot and JACKKNIFE him while the ref is busy putting the ten-count on Syxx. Mysterio is clearly finished, but Syxx applies the BUZZ KILLER (crossface chicken wing) for the win. (5:54) Newly appointed WCW commissioner guy JJ Dillon heads down to ringside to show off his authority as he leads security down to escort Nash and Syxx out of here. Meanwhile, Mysterio gets carried out on a stretcher. Not a *strong* cruiserweight outing that we all came to know and love from watching WCW back then, but it seems like WWE thinks that the nWo were the only ones who even remotely mattered in 1997. **¼
WCW World Heavyweight Champion Hollywood Hogan vs. Lex Luger – (8/4/97, Auburn Hills, MI)
From the first-ever three hour episode of Monday Nitro, which is also the 100th episode of the program. Luger had been told he would get a title shot after winning the four-corners match at SPRING STAMPEDE, and it took them four months to give him the match with Hogan! Lex overpowers Hogan to start, but “Hogan sucks” chants actually fire him up. He pounds and stomps Luger down into the corner. Running clothesline sets up some elbow drops and then the boot rake. More Hogan offense. Luger blocks a turnbuckle smash and fights back with a flurry of his own. Hogan pokes the eyes to stop all that. Commercials! When we come back, they are either having sex or Hogan has Lex in a bearhug. Luger headbutts out, but Hogan headbutts him back. Suplex gets two. Back suplex scores another nearfall. Hogan starts giving Lex the bad mouth while he’s punching up against the ropes. Big chop gets two. Hogan chokes on Luger in the corner and then spits on him. Big Boot gets 1-2-NO! That’s because you didn’t follow up with the legdrop, Hulk. Okay, there’s the LEGDROP for 1-2-NO! Tony forgets to make a big deal out of that. Heenan does not. A second LEGDROP misses and HERE COMES LUGER! Also, here comes the nWo’s elite. Scott Hall gets nailed, Kevin Nash gets wiped out, and Randy Savage gets taken down. Running Forearm is followed by the TORTURE RACK to give Luger the win and his second and final WCW world title. (8:58 shown) One of the few times that big Nitro main events actually had satisfying finishes. Of course, this was all overturned five days later at Road Wild when Hogan retained the gold, but whatever. *½
DDP says he marks out (well, not exactly that) for world title changes – especially ones that feel like a passing of the guard, similar to Ric Flair defeating Harley Race at Starrcade. He mentions how the mid-90s were a time of rebellion and anti-authority, hence this next bit.
From 9/1/97, it’s the nWo’s parody of the Arn Anderson retirement speech and Curt Hennig taking his “spot” in the Four Horsemen. Syxx mimics Ric Flair, Konnan mimics Mongo (and actually looks A LOT like him), Buff Bagwell mimics Curt Hennig, and Kevin Nash mimics Arn Anderson. It’s not that funny or interesting without context and they don’t even show us the speech that they were trying to make light of from a week before, so new fans would probably not get it. And besides, the Four Horsemen should have cleaned house on these guys, but WCW was so hot that things that made sense didn’t even seem to matter to the man in charge Eric Bischoff because they were drawing so well anyway. This did at least lead to a Wargames match at Fall Brawl where the nWo closed the door so to speak (in Winston-Salem, no less) on any kind of legitimacy that the Four Horsemen had left.
Diamond Dallas Page vs. Buff Bagwell (w/Vincent) – (9/29/97, Worcester, MA)
DDP is over like gangbusters here. Bagwell works a headlock to start. DDP breaks loose, but gets run down with a shoulderblock. Lots of posing here from Bagwell. Raven is shown in the audience with Stevie Richards sitting behind him. Back to the match, DDP hits Bagwell with his spinning clothesline and then dumps Bagwell out for a pescado. Back in, Bagwell feigns a knee injury off a leapfrog. DDP isn’t buying it, but the ref gets in his way and that allows Bagwell to nail Page from behind. Bagwell keeps him grounded for a while, but Page comes back and calls for the Diamond Cutter. Oops, low blow from Bagwell sets up a swinging neckbreaker. Cover with his feet on the ropes gets two. Bagwell gets in the ref’s face, which he falls back into a school boy for 1-2-NO! Vincent distracts the ref and during all that, DDP collides with the ref. DDP blocks the FISHERMAN’S SUPLEX with that armbar takedown he does. In comes Vincent, who gets BANGED. DIAMOND CUTTER to Bagwell! Ref Mickey Jay crawls back in and counts the 1-2-3. (6:36) Nothing much to the match, but DDP was definitely on fire during this period. As DDP goes through the crowd, he locks eyes with Raven on his way backstage. *½
During the end of a Hogan-DDP main event from 10/27/97, we get the usual nWo run-in DQ finish when Sting comes through the crowd to Scorpion Death Drop and Stinger Splash seemingly the entire nWo – everyone except Hollywood Hogan, of course. This wasn’t even the best or the hottest of Sting’s beatdowns of the new World order.
Sting vs. Randy Savage (w/Elizabeth) – (2/2/98, San Antonio, TX)
Once Sting came to Starrcade to beat Hollywood Hogan, that was the beginning of the end for the nWo as a single entity. Savage is feuding with Lex Luger at the time, so he tells Lex to pay close attention to this match. Sting drops down from the ceiling of the Alamodome, which is about 18 stories high. It’s cool, but it takes forever. And here we go. Sting NO-SELLS to start as Savage bails to the floor and dares Sting to come join him. We get a brawl on the floor and of course Sting misses a Stinger Splash to turn the tide. During all the craziness, Savage unties a top turnbuckle pad back inside the ring while Elizabeth distracts the ref. Back inside, Sting ROAD WARRIOR HAWKS a piledriver! He hits one Stinger Splash, but the second one lands his face on the exposed turnbuckle. That KO’S Sting long enough for Savage to hit the MACHO ELBOW (biggest upset ever, Tony? REALLY?) for the 1-2-NO! Hollywood Hogan runs in and pulls Savage off Sting for the DQ. (3:58) Ahh, of course. While Savage locks eyes with Hogan, Lex Luger comes down and pulls Savage out for a beatdown. The new World order heads down to save Hogan as they distract Sting long enough for Hogan to bail out. ¾*
From 3/30/98, Chris Jericho makes Marty Jannetty tap out to the Liontamer and then starts listing off his 1,004 holds to trump over Dean Malenko’s “Man of 1,000 holds” gimmick – a man Jericho had just defeated at UnCeNSoReD a few weeks earlier. The names of the moves he lists are just plain hilarious. It even goes through commercial and when we come back, he’s still in the ring listing off moves. He mentions armdrag and armbar a bunch of different times. You have to see it to appreciate it. It’s definitely Jericho’s finest moment during his time in WCW. That is until Prince Iaukea comes out and ruins everything by scaring Jericho out of the ring. Really? Prince Iaukea? Alright then.
DDP mentions how if you were a WWF fan in 1998, “the man” of the summer was Stone Cold Steve Austin. If you were a WCW fan in 1998, “the man” of the summer was Bill Goldberg.
WCW World Heavyweight Champion Hollywood Hogan vs. Bill Goldberg – (7/6/98, Atlanta, GA)
Here’s another match that me and lots of other WCW fans fondly remember. Literally out of nowhere with very little build, WCW decided to capitalize on Goldberg’s overness and take the biggest money-making match they would ever have and throw it away on free TV just to beat Raw in the ratings for a week since Raw was finally starting to beat up Nitro with its ratings-grabbing Austin/McMahon feud. To be fair, it was in front of over 40,000 people in the Georgia Dome with a near million dollar gate, but just think of the PPV buys it could have garnered. This had most everyone in the world baffled, but nevertheless here we go. Hogan shoves off a headlock, but he’s run down with a shoulderblock. Oh how the tides have turned. Goldberg pushes Hogan off into the corner when he tries a front headlock. Now they do a test of strength and Goldberg wins that until Hogan goes to the ropes. Hogan rakes the eyes and starts whipping him with his weightlifting belt. Goldberg grabs the belt…and throws it away? He wants to win fair and square, says Tony. Okay, but that’s not ‘rasslin. Hollywood low-blows out of a full nelson and takes Goldberg down for some choking. Goldberg rolls away from some elbow drops and clotheslines Hogan to the floor so he can put his weightlifting belt back around his waist. Hogan takes Goldberg to the floor and bashes a chair all over Goldberg. Back in, Hogan slams Goldberg and connects with not one, not two, but THREE LEGDROPS! Enter Curt Hennig. He’s followed by DDP and Karl Malone – armed with steel chairs! Meanwhile in the ring, Hogan covers for 1-2-NO! Hogan points behind Hennig where Malone is waiting to give him a DIAMOND CUTTER! That takes care of Hennig. In the ring, Goldberg is poised and ready for the SPEAR! JACKHAMMER comes next and we have a NEW WCW world heavyweight champion! (8:11) Another great mark-out match, but another sign that WCW wasn’t going to be around forever since it became obsessed with merely defeating the WWF as opposed to making right business decisions. **
WCW World Tag Team Champions Sting & Kevin Nash vs. Scott Hall & The Giant – (7/20/98, Salt Lake City, UT)
Scott Hall turned on Kevin Nash and the nWo Wolfpac at Slamboree in May to rejoin nWo Hollywood while also being an absolute drunk. Through an odd arrangement of circumstances, Sting and Kevin Nash became tag team champs the night after the Great American Bash. If you don’t already know what happened, we will hopefully get into 1998 one of these years here at PDR. After all these years, I love that Nash falls for the toothpick bit. In comes the Giant, they lock up. Giant corner clotheslines Big Sexy, but gets caught with a Big Boot. Sting comes in to clean house and the crowd collectively loses their minds. Hall and Giant calm things down. Back in, Nash tags Sting and Hall starts mocking. Sting stops the arm wrench shoulder blocks and gives Hall a bunch of crotch chops as we go to break. AND WE’RE BACK! Hall and Giant are still perplexed as to how to get things going their way. HUGE “Giant sucks” chants go up. Sting stands up to the Giant and slaps him back. Giant goes for a charge and Sting moves as he lands on the top turnbuckle. Sting kicks him a whole bunch and then gives Giant the Stinger Splash. He tries a second one, but Giant gets his boot up. Sting ducks a bunch of clotheslines and tries a crossbody, but it’s like jumping into a building. Giant doesn’t even budge. Headbutt to the balls and then he tags in Hall. Fallaway Slam gets two. Hall cheats with an ab stretch and gets a HUGE amount of leverage thanks to the Giant. Sting hiptosses out and makes the HOT TAG TO NASH! He pounds Giant until he goes over and tags Hall. This is what Tenay wanted to see. Hall avoids the Snake Eyes, but eats a Big Boot. He calls for the JACKKNIFE, but Giant breaks that up. Sting takes care of the Giant and gets a tag from Nash. A couple Stinger Splashes to Hall and it’s time for the SCORPION DEATHLOCK. While Nash stops Giant from breaking the hold, the unpredictable Bret Hart comes out and brings Sting off the hold. Bret heads out of the ring and while Sting stands up on the second rope in the corner, Hall comes by and nails Sting so he can give him the OUTSIDER’S EDGE for the 1-2-3. (8:40 shown) And with that, we’ve got NEW tag team champs. Certainly a heated match if not much in the way of great wrestling. **
WCW World Cruiserweight Champion Chris Jericho vs. Rey Mysterio Jr. – Non-Title Match (8/3/98, Denver, CO)
So Tenay explains Rey Mysterio lost a match that would guarantee him a cruiserweight title shot, but he still gets to wrestle the champion in a non-title match. Now you may be asking yourself, shouldn’t the guy who beat Mysterio be wrestling Jericho for the cruiserweight title here? Well, he will meet Jericho at Road Wild for the cruiserweight title, because that man was Juventud Guerrera. Jericho goes right after Mysterio as he comes into the ring. Jericho is baffled by the “Jericho sucks” chants. Three Kick Combo nails Mysterio in the corner. He comes back with a headscissors and we go to the floor as Rey flattens Jericho with a springboard seated senton. Back in, Jericho begs off and eats a dropkick for it. There’s a sliding legdrop and now we MUST go to commercial. When we return, Mysterio hits Jericho with a springboard moonsault press for two. Jericho catches a springboard crossbody and drops Rey with a nasty shoulderbreaker. As Mysterio rolls to the apron, Jericho dropkicks him to the floor and then follows up with a missile dropkick to the floor! Back inside, Mysterio counters a suplex and delivers a standing moonsault for two. Jericho drills him with a clothesline to stop him from following up. He applies some weird wishbone stretch hold for a bit. Mysterio fights back with a headscissors out of the corner and a springboard split-legged moonsault gets 1-2-NO! He tries to slide underneath Jericho, but gets caught and brought back and up around for a German suplex that turns Mysterio inside out. Cover, 1-2-NO! However, Mysterio avoids a springboard body block from Jericho who then goes flying down to the floor. In a way only Rey can do, he headscissors Jericho from the apron back into the ring. Jericho stops Rey with a butterfly backbreaker, but then Rey surprises Jericho with an X-Factor. Mysterio goes for the SPRINGBOARD HURRACANRANA, but Jericho pulls ref Mark Curtis into the move. Jericho blocks a springboard headscissors with a powerbomb and goes for the LIONTAMER. Rey counters that and rolls through into a pinning predicament. Here comes interim ref Dean Malenko who will be in charge of the Jericho-Juvi match at Road Wild to count the fake 1-2-3. (8:54 shown) You’re only ref for that one match, Dean! Come on. These two seemed a little off here. Don’t know what it was, but I would have to say that they have certainly had better matches. **½
WCW World Cruiserweight Champion Juventud Guerrera vs. Billy Kidman – (9/14/98, Greenville, SC)
Kidman has quickly ditched Raven and took a shower, so he has clearly earned himself a cruiserweight title shot. Juvi’s tights say “Sweet Surrender” for some reason. Not sure why. I guess that means he’s jobbing. After some quick counters, Juvi hauls off on Kidman with a big chop. Ten-count corner punch leads to a missile dropkick from Guerrera. Now Kidman takes a breather on the floor and Juventud decides to wait for his return. Back in, Kidman delivers a slingshot headscissors and counters a leapfrog into a powerslam for two. He slows the action down with a chinlock. Back up, Guerrera gives Kidman a tilt-a-whirl headscissors, but gets yanked into the corner. To the floor they go as we take a commercial break. When we come back, Juventud is fighting out of a chinlock, but runs into a dropkick, Meanwhile, Mike Tenay says he heard from an anonymous yet reliable source that Ric Flair’s leer jet (WOO!) was in fact scheduled to arrive at the Greenville airport, yet he can’t confirm that Ric Flair will definitely be in Greenville tonight on Nitro. He just can’t commit to such a statement. THEN WHY SAY ANYTHING, TENAY? Why even get our hopes up? Oh yeah, the match. Juventud escapes another chinlock, but runs into a BK Bomb (not to be confused with the Burger King Bomb, which is actually a 7000-calorie burger that can serve a family of four! Never heard of it? Well that’s because it was a joke) for 1-2-NO! Here’s where the crowd turns completely over to Kidman’s favor. Wheelbarrow suplex scores another nearfall and the crowd is vocal in their disapproval of the ref not counting to three. Clothesline in the corner gets two. Juventud counters a slam and hits a release German suplex for two. Flying Headscissors from Juvi gets 1-2-NO! JUVI DRIVER attempt, but Kidman counters into a reverse suplex. Cover, 1-2-NO! Kidman sets up for the SHOOTING STAR PRESS, but Guerrera crotches him and brings Kidman down with a hurracanrana. Juvi takes too long gearing himself up for the 450 SPLASH as Kidman is back on his feet. Guerrera flies down anyway into another BK Bomb. That’s enough to stun Guerrera long enough for the SHOOTING STAR PRESS for the 1-2-3. (10:43 shown) We’ve got a new cruiserweight champ. Good match, but they seemed lost in certain spots. Almost as if this match were booked on the fly. Nah, couldn’t have been. Still a solid effort and the Greenville crowd made it special as they made a star out of Kidman. Perry Saturn comes out and applauds Kidman’s victory. ***
Back over to DDP, he mentions how the WCW fans were absolutely rabid over the idea of the return of Ric Flair and the Four Horsemen.
From 9/14/98, Mike Tenay was correct in assuming Ric Flair does actually show up on that night in Greenville! With Ric Flair returning to WCW, the culmination of the Four Horsemen is complete. Ric Flair, Steve McMichael, Chris Benoit, and Dean Malenko were the final class of 1998-1999. Ric Flair reunites with JJ Dillon and his best friend Arn Anderson in the ring. Flair goes off on Eric Bischoff for the way he had mistreated him over the last year and apologizes to his fans for the way he responded to Bischoff’s actions by basically giving up and walking out on WCW. Just when things are going great, Eric Bischoff walks down and tries to shut down the whole reunion. In classic Flair fashion, he rips Bischoff a new one by telling him exactly how he feels about him. Since we’re in the PG era, they bleep out what makes the confrontation so real and intense. Nevertheless, Arn Anderson claps on in approval of the whole tirade. At the time, many insiders and long-time fans felt this was the best segment Nitro had ever done.
WCW U.S. Heavyweight Champion Bret Hart vs. Diamond Dallas Page – (10/26/98, Phoenix, AZ)
This is the night after DDP nearly defeated Goldberg at Halloween Havoc in a match that I believe would have done more for Goldberg’s career than any of his other matches aside from the one with Hollywood Hogan. Well, it would have had the feed not cut out early on the people who bought the PPV. They showed the match in its entirety on this episode of Nitro at the 9PM hour when RAW is WAR came on. Anyways, we get DOUBLE the DDP tonight. It’s a DDDP night. And please, no DP jokes. Grow up! Some hammerlocks exchanged to start. DDP catches Bret with a swinging neckbreaker for two. DIAMOND CUTTER is blocked and Bret hotshots Page to cool him off a little. Headbutt to the groin connects. DDP fights back, but runs into a boot in the corner and gets wiped out with a clothesline. Bret stomps the stomach and follows up with a Russian Legsweep for two. He cheats using the ropes during a chinlock while our esteemed commentators discuss Sting’s condition after Bret beat him with a baseball bat the night before. DDP fights out of the chinlock, but then gets dropped with a DDT. Bang. That gets two. Bret argues with ref Mickey Jay about it, which triggers a DDP comeback with a 360 lariat. Pancake Slam gets 1-2-NO! Bret crotches DDP as he heads up top and brings him down with a BEAUTIFUL superplex! Slow cover gets two. He stays on DDP with a Backbreaker and the Vertical Flying Elbow for two. He goes over for another aggressive conference with Mickey Jay that goes nowhere. Bret kicks DDP around on the mat before going for a suplex, but DDP counters into that armbar takedown that he does for two. DDP tries some turnbuckle smashes, but Bret puts a stop to that with a mule kick that wipes out DDP and the ref. With everybody else down, Bret rolls out and pulls out some taped knux. Too bad it doesn’t work as he walks right into the DIAMOND CUTTER for the win. (10:49) So DDP retains the U.S. title. Even so, Hart gets to use his taped knux after all and takes out both DDP and Mickey Jay. He finds a chair and starts to dismantle DDP’s knee until Goldberg runs down for the save just as WE’RE OUTTA TIME! **½
Ric Flair vs. Eric Bischoff – (12/28/98, Baltimore, MD)
If Flair wins, he becomes the WCW President for 90 days. If he loses, you’ll never see him on TV again. They should have put that promo on here from earlier in the show where Flair stripped down to his boxers and handcuffed himself to the ropes begging to make this match for the main event instead of DDP-Bagwell. I mean, come on. Eric Bischoff tries to leave the building, but the rest of the Four Horsemen are waiting for him and proceed to carry Bischoff from backstage all the way into the ring. He’s not getting out of this tonight. Flair destroys Bischoff’s genitals and while the Four Horsemen are able to prevent the nWo B-team from interfering, they can’t stop the Giant who storms to the ring. Oh wait, right behind him is the returning Randy Savage with his main squeeze who we would come to know as Gorgeous George. Savage is wearing an nWo B&W t-shirt and fools the Giant into thinking he’s with them. For some reason, Giant BELIEVES Savage is on his side and gets double-crossed. Savage low blows the Giant to stop him from giving Flair a CHOKESLAM and then clotheslines him out of the ring. He then rips his shirt off and leaves with his gal pal as quickly as he came. With no more distractions, Flair puts Bischoff in the FIGURE-FOUR and wins control of WCW for the next three months. (4:03) He even pins Bischoff just to be sure nobody comes back and changes the decision. They cap off the year with Ric Flair and WCW taking back control of itself from Eric Bischoff. Everybody who is anybody in WCW joins Ric Flair in the ring to celebrate over a defeated Bischoff. You can say it was a satisfying moment – at least in the context of when it happened. Of course a week later, EVERYTHING changed again. ½*
Final Thoughts: Some of these picks on disc two are real head-scratchers. You might could justify some of the picks like Jericho-Mysterio so WWE could showcase two of their top stars wrestling each other from years past, but DDP-Bagwell? They started off 1997 very well by showing DDP getting his big break as a huge threat to the nWo, but you’d think the Four Horsemen parody was the highlight of the year. That was the year WCW was beating you like a drum! Why not actually show them at their best instead of showing a bunch of mediocrity. To long time fans, that makes you look retarded. Give me an hour and I could have made disc two better. Anyways, there are some great moments like Jericho’s 1,004 holds promo, Kidman’s title win, and the return of Ric Flair, but overall this disc is highly disappointing and brings the set way down in value.