Written by: Kevin Kindelberger
WCW Monday Nitro 4/13/98
Ohhhh the drama. Nitro, the once unbeatable juggernaut that made wrestling cool again. The show that undoubtedly redefined wrestling, and forced Vince and the WWF from putting shit on the screen every week. It took Vince two years, two years of changing their formula, tinkering with it and somehow finding that right combination of appealing to not only the younger crowd but people in their 20s and 30s. They have become far more edgy than WCW and it has paid off. I refuse to subscribe to many pundits blaming Starrcade 97 and the same “stale” WCW product for RAW overtaking Nitro. First of all I have defended Starrcade in earlier posts and yes Sting should have won cleanly, however, WCW handled it quite well and the next couple of months were the most entertaining in years. Also, the ratings went up! The nWo was still hugely over and WCW in my humble opinion tinkered just enough to keep it fresh; they did not tinker enough but did just enough to keep Nitro and even Thunder entertaining. Both shows were getting record ratings and will not decline anytime soon. I stated earlier that both shows have fans that are extremely loyal and while a few hundred thousand switch back and forth, WCW did not lose fans….WWF gained them. I will defend WCW (for now)….why change? They are making money hand over fist, ratings are high and buyrates are high as is attendance. The fans like the product and they just did not stop this day or in the following months. In fact 1998 will be their biggest year, and it is unfortunate that EB cannot handle being in “second place” despite earning more money than WWF that year! But hopefully this will force Nitro to become even better, rather than panic. It is too bad about Flair though; he is WCW. I am not buying just the fact that he missed the show for his son, and I am sure he said something but he was advertised and there is no doubt that he was unhappy with his position (I do not blame him) and in fact he was negotiating or at least talking to the WWF and they thought he was coming there and talked about a contract in the 7 digits but they broke off. So there was petty animosity on both sides and it is too bad as that hurts WCW and no flair for nearly six months and that really sucks. But him going to the WWF would have been a severe blow, not sure if he would have fit in though at that time but it is Flair, so he could adapt. The absence of Flair will hurt WCW as he is a huge part of the program no matter how often he is buried and of course the misuse of Hart so far is baffling but that is something I can talk about later. Nitro got a 4.3 off of hours of 4.2 but steadied at 4.3 and 4.3 while RAW started at a 4.3 but the second hour shot up to a 4.9 for a 4.6 total.
Match 1: Fit Finley v. Scott Steiner
Fit wants a piece of him but Scotty heads to the floor first. Now he gets back into the ring and they lock up and Steiner grabs his leg and takes him down. He gets to the ropes but is choked out on them, and Scotty follows up with a belly to belly and flexes to the crowd. He follows up by clotheslining him, does some push ups. He goes to the floor and gets in Larry “the Axe” Hennig’s face who is sitting ringside (Um, a couple of weeks back Rude intimated that their parents were dead and Curt is part of the nWo….). He gets back in the ring and Fit grabs him off the whip and gives him an inverted atomic drop and follows up with a double stomp and slam. He whips Scotty into the corner but eats all post and is put up top and tossed off and it is Recliner time.
*1/2 Not sure why they would not have Fit put up more of a fight…..Announcers are baffled too.
Match 2: Lenny Lane v. Ultimo Dragon
Lenny goes behind but is elbowed off, and Dragon dropkicks him, follows up with a headscissors take down. He then whips him into the ropes but Lenny grabs his head and spikes him. He runs him from pillar to post and is booed vociferously. He suplexes him and the lateral press gets him two. He whips him into the ropes but Dragon gets two after the sunset flip but is grabbed and dropped throat first off the top rope and then choked out on the bottom rope. He takes him off this feet with a clothesline, but delays the pin attempt and only gets two and after that puts him in a rear chinlock. The fans let him know he sucks and he breaks the hold and yells at the fans. Dragon is up but is back dropped into the corner but he maintains his balance and it is headstand kick time, and Dragon kicks him a few more times. However, Lenny tosses him to the floor but misses the dive and Lenny is down. Or he was kicked; Dragon uses the ropes for momentum and kicks him into the railing but Lenny recovers and pulls him out and onto the floor by his legs. He tries to suplex him into the ring and Dragon floats over only to run into a powerslam and Lenny nearly gets the win. Lenny whips him into the corner and off the rebound bulldogs him and he gets another near fall; he picks him up and Dragon goes behind and finishes him with the Sleeper.
** Not bad, a little long and it is clear Dragon will not do much more.
Gene is backstage with Hot Rod. Roddy is excited and he is sick and tired of listening to Nash and Hogan whine so those two are going fight it out. Then he and Hogan are going eye to eye and he is going to rid the wrestling world of him. Hogan and the Disciple blindside him and lay waste to Piper.
Here comes the Giant. Mean Gene is waiting for him in the ring. Gene asks about Piper and the Giant assures us that he will be ready for the PPV. Hogan and the rest of the nWo are in a world of hurt and the Giant has not forgotten about being dropped on his head and if he gets the bat he is going to turn someone into a popsicle. He declares that if Hogan ever stops Nash will get stuck and in Denver will be chokeslammed.
Match 3: Johnny Grunge v. Chavo Guerrero
They lock up and Chavo pushes him into the corner; after the break Grunge sticks his hand out and Chavo falls for it and gets kicked in the gut. Now they exchange armbars with Grunge shoving him into the corner but is whipped into the other corner, however he gets his boot up. Chavo immediately makes a comeback and takes him down via a dragon twist. Grunge gets to his feet and elbows free, dropping Chavo with a spinning backbreaker. Chavo counters right back by running Grunge’s head into the top buckle ten times, follows up with a swinging neckbreaker and goes up top and I missed it but Grunge counters after Chavo leaps and pins him.
** Decent back and forth.
Bret Hart in pre-recorded comments calls Nash and Hogan scum…..commercial.
Nitro Girls dressed as Bunnies (Easter)! Or Bunny outfits not the actual animal.
Match 4: Kevin Nash v. Hollywood Hogan
Nash has the mic and there are a lot of things going on here tonight. He just watched his good friend Hogan run out the back door. Because Hogan knows he wants no part of Big Sexy. It is going to be a long night for Piper as Hogan got to him and he fucks up a George Michael joke. The big mystery for Kev is where Macho stands as he has not seen him tonight. Since Hogan is not in the building and he knows that Sting is and seeing as he gots to know, and he knows if Hollywood was not there last week he would have the gold around his sexy waist. And an irate Sting runs down and Nash backs off but JJ Dillon who has some wheels on him, but he just stands there and so Sting takes the mic from him and Sting is livid and yells that if Nash wants a match tonight then that is fine. If he wants his title then that is fine and if he want his bat well that is fine too and he hands Nash his bat. JJ finally intercedes and reminds them that WCW still makes the matches but if they are insistent then that is fine. Sting is still pissed and points at JJ and he is tired of JJ bitching about the powerbomb and he knows Nash and the fans want it reinstated so it needs to be. JJ reluctantly agrees but tells Nash no bats. Nash motions the powerbomb and the belt going around his waist at Sting who responds by jumping up and down with mocking crotch chops. Nash is whining to JJ that there is no order here….
Match 5: Glacier v. Chris Benoit
Not sure if that was the scheduled match when Nash came out….but oh well. Benoit starts off with some chops, reverses a whip into the corner and just assaults him with vicious stomps. Benoit backs off though and is kicked after Glacier gets up and he now is in command. Glacier elbows in the corner and now he kicks a hole in Benoit in the corner. Glacier kicks him in the back of the head and gets a two count but Benoit counters right after with a roll up getting barely two. Benoit unloads with some chops now however Glacier returns the favor and down goes Benoit. Glacier chokes him out on the ropes, and then snap suplexes him; he leaps over him randomly but does back kick him getting two. He follows up with a front facelock and pulls him up elbows him in the head but Benoit goes behind and strikes with a release German suplex. Benoit is down too though, Glacier gets to his feet and unleashes some kicks but delays and when he grabs Benoit he is taken down and put in the Crossface and it is over.
**1/2 Actually not bad.
Match 6: Buff Bagwell v. Lex Luger
Buff comes out with Bischoff and he has the mic and Buff tells the crowd that they love them too. In spite of being so great on everything he does, there is one thing Buff Daddy can do yet and that is predict the future and if he could predict the future instead of challenging that musclebound goof: Lex Luger, on Thunder he would have challenged that stumbling, bumbling Rick Steiner. Nobody comes out and puts their hands on one of the most dynamic men the world of wrestling has ever seen and EB sells his back. Rick had the gall to suplex Easy E on the concrete floor, since Buff is a man of his word he is going to beat up that muscle bound goof. EB takes the mic and assures the crowd that the only reason Hogan is not taking care of Rick tonight is because he is on the Leno show tonight and will be back next week.
After the break Luger comes down and he and Buff circle one another. Buff flexes and Lex walks into a right cross and Buff punches him a couple of more times but is sent into the ropes and run over via shoulderblock. Lex runs him over again, and off the ropes again Buff leapfrogs and dropkicks Luger. They lock up again and Buff knees him in the ribs and clubs the back of the head but Lex drops him and Buff leaps up only to be bodyslammed and the clotheslined to the floor. EB gives words of encouragement to Buff calling him the man as Lex mockingly flexes. Buff is pissed and heads into the ring, slaps Luger in the face who returns the favor and sends him into the corner where he mounts and pounds him but at hit four Buff gives him an inverted atomic drop and then a swinging neckbreaker. He uses the ropes to choke him out and then goes after the ribs and applies a reverse chinlock, sitting on his back. He digs his fingers into the eyes and then uses the rope again to choke him out as EB taunts Lex. Buff scoop slams him and goes for the Blockbuster and misses, and now it is clothesline time. Lex back drops him and now it is bionic forearm time and he motions for the Rack and he has him up and here comes Bischoff. EB kicks him a couple of times and so the bell rings and Lex drops Buff and puts EB in the Rack! Scotty runs down and breaks that up and he and the other two beat up Lex. Rick runs out and chases them off.
**1/2 Holy shit I actually enjoyed this.
Bret again: He tells Randy to be his own man and get rid of the nWo.
Match 7: Super Calo v. Chris Jericho (c) for WCW Cruiserweight Title
Jericho glares at a sign that states he is gay! He then rips up a sign that actually supports him. Jericho has the mic and he welcomes everyone to Monday Night Jericho. He claims that this is not Super Calo but in reality it is Prince Macamacee wearing a terrible disguise. He wants him unmasked and Calo speaks Spanish and Jericho mocks that and claims he told everyone that it is the Prince and is making a mockery of the fans and of Jericho too. The ref takes a peek and this allows Jericho to blindside him. Jericho unloads on him and then does his arrogant cover getting two. The fans let him know that he sucks, Jericho pulls Calo up and slaps him. Calo slides under after the whip and then rolls him up nearly getting the win. Jericho comes right back with a kick to the head and now a rear chinlock. Calo gets to his feet, and he forearms free but misses the dropkick. Jericho grabs him and after a gutwrench he gets two and throws a fit because he thought he should have gotten the win. He then sandwiches Calo in the corner and sends him into the opposite corner but Calo floats over and then strikes with a drop toe hold and then a stiff missile dropkick; Calo covers him and gets the near fall. The go back and forth and Jericho flies at him but Calo ducks and Jericho crashes to the floor. Calo goes up top and crashes into him with a flying plancha. He rolls him back into the ring, goes up top but Jericho backs into the ropes, crotching him, Jericho goes up but is shoved off and Calo leaps off the top but flies over him! Well he grazed him and Jericho puts him in the Liontamer finishing him off. He olds it down and the Prince runs down and chases him off.
*** Good match.
Bret Hart: He respects a lot of guys in WCW like Benoit, the Giant and DDP. He really respects Sting and if Sting needs him then call….that sounds desperate and almost sad.
Match 8: Hammer v. Saturn
They exchange chops until Hammer runs him over; he follows up with a clothesline and another one in the corner. Hammer places him up top and tosses him off. He takes his head and clearly misses bashing the back of it into the canvas. Oh well. Saturn counters after being pulled to his feet and he connects with a series of kicks in the corner. Saturn snaps him over and has him in an armbar. Hammer tries to get up but is put back down. He now gets vertical, misses a short armed clothesline but does not miss the back suplex. Saturn though is up first and kicks him in the gut but Hammer hangs him over his back, swings him around and clotheslines him. Saturn blocks a blow and strikes with a belly to belly and finishes off Hammer with the Rings.
**1/2 Decent and gives Saturn a nice victory over a fellow Flock member and preps him for Goldberg.
Match 9: Goldberg v. Rocco Rock
Rock is grabbed and literally tossed across the ring. They lock up again and Goldberg pushes him off the ropes and runs him over. Rock gets in his face and gets decked; Goldberg sends him into the corner but runs into an elbow. Goldberg no sells it, chokes him and then throws him across the ring again. Out on the floor Goldberg is right there and kicks him but after he pushes him against the post, Rock rakes the eyes and Goldberg punches the post. Rock follows up with a seated dropkick into the steps. Rock takes an hour to set up the table in the corner and Goldberg is up and spears him into it! Fuck yeah. He finishes him with the Jackhammer.
*** Great spot at the end.
Here comes Saturn and Goldberg screams at him to come on. Raven pulls him back and the other members of the Flock come in and immediately get demolished.
Match 10: Yuji Nagata v. Curt Hennig
Rude is about to take Tenay’s headset but decides otherwise and goes to the ring with Curt. Curt talks to pops and Curt is pulled into the ring by his hair. Curt does not appreciate that and is destroyed by Curt. He is sent to the floor. Rude runs him into the rail by Larry and Curt comes out and beats him some more. Rude rolls him back into the ring. Yuji makes a comeback with some blows and a suplex. Rude gets up on the apron and this distracts Yuji and Curt takes advantage by hammering him. He drops him to the floor and they hold him for Larry the Axe, nope he shows off his shirt that states “Hennig Rules.” Back in the ring and he is finished with the Plex. Now he is cuffed and beaten by both.
* 1/2 Poor Yuji, I mean the guy is talented. But Curt needed a big win.
Match 11: La Parka v. Booker T (c) for WCW TV Title
Parka gets in his face and they back off each other kindly waiting for the bell. They lock up and Booker shoves him into the corner and the ref forces the break. Parka gut punches him but Booker reverses a whip and back body drops him; he then runs him over getting a two count. Booker now has the arm and works it over, kicking him in the face with a back kick. But Parka tries to fire back only to be knocked head over heels to the floor. Booker rolls him back into the ring, but Parka greets him with a series of punches. Booker is whipped but ducks the clothesline and they collide and both are down. Booker is up and kills him with a spinebuster and part of Parka’s costume flies off. Booker follows up with the axe kick, and then face plants him now the Harlem Sidekick. He goes up and thrust kicks Parka for the win.
** Jesus he demolished poor La Parka but the fans fucking loved it. I mean Booker is over.
La Parka has the chair and Benoit comes in, takes it away and beats up Parka. Booker wants to shake hands and Benoit shoves him down instead and now we have a shoving match. They are nose to nose as the ref tries to maintain order.
Match 12: Rage v. DDP (c) for WCW US Title
DDP’s ribs are still taped. DDP lounges in the corner, runs out and rolls him up for a quick two count. Rage puts him in a side headlock but DDP powers out, knocks him down and DDP blocks the hiptoss and back suplexes him. Rage reverses the whip and Kaos grabs DDP’s leg and this allows Rage to forearm him and after a powerslam he fucking kills him with a springboard splash from across the ring. Cool move. Rage shoves him into the corner after the two count but the whip is reversed, DDP slides under the boot and to the floor, crotching him on the post and then decks Kaos for good measure. DDP nails Rage with a swinging neckbreaker calls for the DC, knocks Kaos off the apron and then connects getting the win.
** For the splash.
Raven comes out with the Flock and wants to know what about him. He repeats it and Page leaps out on top of the Flock and he goes for Raven and security leaps on someone holding him down. They are clearly playing off of Thunder. As they hold down someone who belted Raven. DDP fights off the Flock and heads after Raven who had run off.
Match 13: Konnan v. Rick Steiner
Konnan and Rick go at it, Konnan rolls through but once he stands up he is clotheslined. Rick hangs him upside down and kicks him and Konnan retreats to the floor. Rick goes after him but is sent into the railing. Konnan does one of his two catchphrases, nails Rick with his rolling clothesline and says his other one! No support from the crowd. Konnan follows up with a seated dropkick and goes to work on the arm. Rick gets to his feet, Konnan is sent into the corner and on the float over attempt he is spiked. Rick comes back with a belly to belly. He goes up and Vincent tries to stop him but Ted shoves him away and Konnan clearly sees it coming but lets it happen and the Steiner Bulldog finishes him off.
*1/2 Poor Konnan and his catchphrases.
Long recap of issues in the nWo.
Match 14: Kevin Nash v. Sting (c) for WCW Title
Nash holds up the belt after the ref shows it to him. Sting takes it away and the brawl is on. Sting mounts and pounds him in the corner and hammers him ten times. He winds up and knocks him back into the corner but Nash reverses the whip, and catches him on the float over attempt and drops him headfirst onto the top buckle. Sting is set up on the bottom rope and Nash leaps on him. Nash measures him and drops him with a right. He chokes him out in the corner with his boot and the ref calls for the break, so Nash whips him into the other corner and sandwiches him there. Nash works him over in the corner with his typical offense of knee lifts. He does not do the elbows though and drops him with a forearm to the back of the head. He pushes Sting into the corner and now it is elbow/forearm time. Sting comes back, kicks him a few times goes for the bodyslam and Nash falls on top of him and he nearly gets the win. Nash methodically or he is just slow, picks him apart and drops the big elbow and now he turns and twists the head. Sting gets to his feet, elbows free but is dropped by an elbow from Nash. Nash strolls over and gut wrenches him well tosses him up and down in that position. Nash gets a near fall. Nash motions to the crowd, pulls up Sting and gets another near fall after a sidewalk slam. Sting is sent into the ropes and put in a bearhug. It is still cinched in and the ref raises the arm and Sting on the third attempt comes alive and boxes the ears four times and now it is Stinger Splash time and he connects with two; Sting dropkicks him and now a Stinger Splash to the back and a here comes a limping Savage. Sting is readying for the Deathlock and he turns Nash over and Savage hits Sting with his cast and Nash finally rolls over to cover him and the fans are throwing trash and going apeshit. They are loving it and Sting barely gets his shoulder up! The fans explode and it is powerbomb time and Nash goes for the cover and Bret Hart pulls Nash off of him. He and Nash go at it and Bret takes him down and has him in the Sharpshooter. Now the nWo runs out and they attack. Sting is powerbombed again and Steiner runs in and Bret ducks and an nWo member eats a clothesline and Bret clears out the ring and Sting is laid out.
*** Decent main event. Shocking to see Bret there though. Now Sting had the win clean but they have not made him very strong, as Nash had the victory. I guess that is fine as Sting did have the win and it does get Savage and Bret involved.
*** Decent but by the numbers. I do praise WCW for not having Hogan and the nWo going out multiple times. They just stuck with the program and teased the Hogan/Nash issues and in my opinion wisely saving it for the PPV (there is Thunder of course and they will know the ratings then). I can see why RAW won as they had something different, something teased for weeks and the entire show built up to it. Nitro was by the numbers and while they did a solid job building up to it with an angry Sting and a surprisingly well done main event. The ratings did not drop that second hour but it is clear that RAW was a must watch and more people tuned in. Still, Nitro did a fine job in building up the PPV, as every major player minus the Bulldog played a role. Overall it looks good on paper and Thunder does not need to add to it but perhaps focus on bit players as not much more needs to be done.