Monday Nitro – January 12, 1998: Souled Out Looks Awesome. Seriously.

Monday Nitro #122
Date: January 12, 1998
Location: Jacksonville Memorial Coliseum, Jacksonville, Florida
Attendance: 8,718
Commentators: Larry Zbyszko, Mike Tenay, Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan

A lot has changed in just a week as Sting is no longer the world champion. The title was stripped on Thursday and is being held up, pending action by the WCW board of directors. We’ll likely hear more on that tonight as we move closer to Souled Out. As for the wrestling on tonight’s show, the main event is the Steiner Brothers defending the tag titles against the Outsiders. Let’s get to it.

We open with a clip from Thunder of Sting throwing the title down and telling Hogan that he’s a dead man.

The show is still two hours at this point. The three hour episodes begin after Souled Out.

Larry talks about history repeating itself and empires crumbling.

We look at the end of last week’s show with the NWO seemingly imploding, only to be perfectly fine on Thunder.

Gene is in the parking lot waiting for the NWO to arrive. The limo pulls up and Nash says that he was putting out a fire last week when he punched Savage. Nash says that Savage doesn’t want a part of them. Why did Gene have two microphones for that segment?

Goldberg vs. Jerry Flynn

Flynn fires off kicks to start but Goldberg easily takes him down into a leg lock. Jerry tries an armbreaker but is easily lifted up into a powerbomb to break the hold. Spear and Jackhammer and we’re done in like 80 seconds. BIG pop for Goldberg on the win.

Nitro Girls time, including a new one named Whisper. She would later be known as Mrs. Shawn Michaels.

Black Cat vs. Marty Jannetty

Jannetty has generic rock music which be used later for Van Hammer during his singles heel push. Black Cat is a Mexican wrestler apparently most famous for his time in Japan. Tenay claims he trained Great Muta, Masahiro Chono and Jushin Thunder Liger. I can’t find anything to back that up but it’s very impressive if true. Tony calls this a tag team match as Jannetty drops Cat with a single right hand.

A flapjack puts Marty down as Tony claims that Sting is still the world champion. Jannetty hits a superkick followed by some forearms, only to have his backdrop countered into an implant DDT for two. Marty comes right back with a spinebuster and the Rocker Dropper (called the Showstopper here) is good for the pin.

Rating: D. This didn’t work at all. There was no chemistry whatsoever and neither guy seemed interested in selling the others’ moves. You could call this a total contrast of styles for lack of a better term. At the same time though, this is WCW’s strong suit: having such a big roster that they could throw a random pairing out there like these guys to draw in a few extra fans. That’s smart business.

Hall, Savage, Liz and Tenzan arrive in another limo. Savage says there are no problems in the NWO and wants to know what Nash said.

Dean Malenko vs. Chris Benoit

Dean cranks on the wrist to start as the Flock is watching in the crowd. A rollup gets two for Dean and it’s a standoff. Benoit runs him over with a shoulder block and fires off some chops in the corner to take over. Dean comes back with a clothesline and a chinlock, only to have Benoit drop him with a jawbreaker. Benoit gets two off a clothesline and chinlock of his own in a nice mirroring sequence. Dean fights up and hiptosses Benoit down before hooking a short arm scissors.

Benoit fights up with the power counter ala Backlund or Davey Boy Smith depending on which generation you’re from and drops Dean down on his back for two. They trade reverse suplex attempts until Dean takes him down with a German suplex. Benoit counters the Cloverleaf into a small package for two and Dean escapes the Crossface. A sunset flip gets two for Dean and the counter rollup gets the same for Benoit. Dean tries a victory roll but gets dropped on his face, allowing Benoit to hook the Crossface for the tap out.

Rating: B+. This was one of the better TV matches WCW had in awhile. You had two guys in there working hard and moving very smoothly out there with both guys countering everything the other guy could throw at each other. Malenko was on Benoit’s level here and it’s clear that Benoit is ready for a war with Raven in a few weeks.

The Flock hits the ring before Malenko is even done tapping and lays out Benoit. Malenko and Raven have a staredown but Saturn jumps Dean to protect his leader.

Here’s JJ Dillon to look at Savage jumping Bischoff to end the show last week. JJ talks about enforcing the fine on Lex Luger on Thunder and fines Savage $5000 for attacking Bischoff, who is still a WCW official. Savage runs out and grabs JJ by the shirt. Bischoff comes out to play peacekeeper and offers to pay the money. Savage says it’s the principal of the thing and still wants to know what Nash said.

More Nitro Girls.

Here’s DDP for a chat. Page says he’s jacked in Jacksonville because this Thursday on Thunder, it’s Page/Luger vs. Nash/Savage. Apparently the NWO isn’t for life, but neither were Liz and Randy. Page’s words, not mine. Page says on Thursday, Savage and Nash will hear the crackle from the Rack and then feel the bang.

TV Title: Perry Saturn vs. Booker T

Tony screws up again by saying that Raven is challenging here instead of Saturn. Saturn pounds away on the champion to start but a side kick sends Perry out to the floor. Back in and Booker hits a forearm to the head for two followed by a superkick to send Saturn out to the floor. Booker counters a German suplex into a victory roll for two but Saturn ducks a spin kick and suplexes Booker down for two. Booker comes back with some forearms but charges into a boot in the corner. Saturn trips him down and puts his feet on the ropes for the pin and the title in a cheap win.

Rating: D+. Energetic match here but the ending stopped it cold. Booker is on a pretty good roll at this point too so I’m not sure why they would put the title on Saturn out of nowhere like this. You would think if they were going to put the title in the Flock they would have given it to Raven instead of his chief lackey. The match was decent but they didn’t have time to get anywhere.

Actually hang on a second as Rick Martel comes out to tell the referee about the cheating. The match is restarted and Booker hits a quick ax kick and the Harlem Hangover to retain the title.

Post match Booker says he owes Rick one for the help so Martel asks for a title shot. Booker says anytime.

Here are WCW executive Nick Lambros and the Giant with something to say. Nick hasn’t heard a good reason as to why Nash didn’t show up at Starrcade, so Nash is going to have to put up a $1.5 million performance bond for him to show up at Souled Out. If he doesn’t put up the money, Nash is suspended for one year. Also, Eric Bischoff is cut off from Turner money starting tonight. Giant yells about getting Nash to show up but here’s the NWO looking very smug.

Bischoff, Hogan and Nash show up with Hollywood attorney Henry Holmes. Holmes says that he’s spoken with his new client Kevin Nash and they’ll put up the $1.5 million for Souled Out. However, WCW has to put up the same amount and if Giant touches Nash before the PPV, Nash gets the money. Giant says he accepts and Nash gets right in his face to talk some trash. I still love that the sales pitch for this match is “Nash will actually show up this time!”

Video on Savage vs. Luger for Souled Out.

Hour #2 begins.

Hugh Morrus vs. Lex Luger

Tony talks about the Super Bowl as Hugh hits a spinwheel kick to take Lex down. Luger comes back with a powerslam while the announcers talk about Nash vs. Giant. Neither guy can hit a hiptoss and Morrus misses a charge into the buckle. Luger hits some forearms but Morrus runs up the corner for a spinning clothesline off the middle rope. Morrus misses a top rope splash and the Torture Rack ends this quick.

Post match Liz comes out to distract Luger for a surprise attack by Savage. DDP comes out to chase Savage off.

Nitro Girls Part III.

The announcers talk about the problems between the Steiners with Scott being selfish lately. We get a clip from Thunder where Scott left Rick hanging instead of hitting the Steiner Bulldog.

Chris Jericho vs. Steve McMichael

Jericho is looking very condescending as he waves to the fans on the way to the ring. Mongo shoves Jericho into the corner to start. Jericho fires off some forearms but runs into a shoulder block. Mongo pounds away in the corner but runs into a kick in the corner. A missile dropkick puts Mongo down but he pops up for a side slam. Mongo stops to pose on the ropes and gets caught in a middle rope Frankensteiner for two. Steve comes back with a chopblock and a belly to back suplex for no cover again. Jericho is whipped into the corner and tries to jump over Mongo, only to get caught in the tombstone for the pin.

Rating: D. This was angle advancement instead of a match as Jericho’s frustrations continue. Thankfully it seems that Mongo is officially just a guy now instead of having any kind of prominent storyline involvement. The match wasn’t much at all but Jericho is already nailing the heel mannerisms that would make him a bigger star.

Post break Jericho is ranting against the fans for booing him after a loss. He loves being a role model and even though he lost to an inferior opponent, he’s proven he can lose with class. There will never be another outburst like that again. Mysterio’s music cuts Jericho’s talking off.

Cruiserweight Title: Rey Mysterio vs. Juventud Guerrera

Juvy won the title on Thursday at Thunder. Rey gets to the ring and Jericho wants to know why he’s here. Jericho yells at Mysterio for interrupting him but shakes Rey’s hand….before laying him out with a pair of backbreakers and the Liontamer. Juventud comes out to chase Jericho off but then dropkicks Rey to keep his advantage as the match starts. Rey gets a quick rana to buy himself some time but walks into a tombstone. The 450 retains the title in about a minute.

We get the footage from Thunder of JJ stripping Sting of the title.

Here are Hogan and Bischoff with something to say. Bischoff quotes Hogan’s theme song and Hogan talks about Henry Holmes being here to cover the entire NWO. Hollywood brags about being the real champion because everyone says he is, and Holmes is going to prove that Hogan is champion in federal court. Well it’s better there than a wrestling ring I suppose.

Video on Bret Hart arriving in WCW and screwing over the NWO at Starrcade. He and Flair have a match at Starrcade to decide who the best is.

Gene brings out Jim Neidhart who can’t believe Flair’s statements about Bret Hart. This brings out Flair who respects Neidhart but won’t stand for Neidhart saying that Bret is a better wrestler than he is. Neidhart says it again and Flair says that he’s the Davy Crockett of this new wild frontier. Both guys take their jackets off but Flair goes to the back to get his gear while Neidhart goes to the ring.

Flair comes back and there’s a referee in the ring as well. Neidhart charges into a right hand which appears to have brass knuckles on it. The referee is decked as well and there’s a Figure Four around the post on Neidhart. Bret runs out for the save and a quick brawl with Flair. This wasn’t a match but the angle advancement is a good idea.

Souled Out ad.

Nitro Girls the fourth.

Video of a fan’s Nitro Party.

Tag Titles: Outsiders vs. Steiner Brothers

This is billed as a unification match but the NWO Tag Titles were never official, meaning the Steiners are the only champions coming in. As a side note: why are there so many people named Scott in this company? Scott Norton, Scott Steiner, Scott Hall, Scotty Riggs, and they’re always in tag matches against each other around this time. Hogan comes out with the Outsiders. The fans seem to be on WCW’s side in the survey.

The Scotts start things off as we hear that Flair has been fined for the attack on Neidhart a few moments ago. Scott Steiner throws Hall’s toothpick back at him and shoves Hall down with pure power. Hall drives some shoulders into the other Scott but gets shoved into the Steiner corner and ping ponged back and forth with right hands. Hall gets powerbombed down and Nash is caught in a double suplex to send the challengers retreating. Randy Savage is at ringside as well.

The fans want Sting but get an an intense talk between Savage and Hogan instead. Back in and it’s Rick vs. Hall with both guys pounding away in the corner. Off to Nash for the first time to drive knees into Rick’s ribs. Rick gets a boot up in the corner and a middle rope clothesline gets two. Back to Scott Steiner who gets clotheslined down before it’s back to Hall. A chokeslam puts Scott Steiner down but he comes back with a quick belly to belly suplex for two on Hall.

Back to Rick who cranks on a leg lock before shifting to a half crab. Hall fights up and brings Nash back in, only to have him caught in a leg crank of his own. Nash comes right back for Snake Eyes (not bad a mere three weeks after missing the biggest show of the year because of a knee injury) but Rick slips down his back. Rick loads up the Steiner Bulldog but Hogan crotches him before Rick can jump. Scott Steiner goes after Hogan as Hall hits the fallaway slam for two on Rick.

Things settle down and Nash gets two off the side slam. Rick fights back against Hall but Nash knees him in the back. Scott Steiner argues with the referee and Rick bumps into said referee as everything breaks down. Nash covers Rick but Savage goes up for the elbow on Kevin, but the big man moves and the elbow hits Rick, giving the Outsiders the pin and the titles back.

Rating: C. The match was decent enough, likely due to these teams fighting each other so many times over the years. With all the NWO big shots at ringside it was hard to imagine the Outsiders not taking the belts back but it’s nice to see Hogan slumming it with the tag titles. The fans make a good point though: where was Sting? Their big hero and savior can’t even come out for a save here or at least come out an even the odds a bit?

Hogan and Nash yell at Savage to end the show.

Overall Rating: C. In an unusual case for Nitro, the main event stuff was one of the better parts of the show. Souled Out is looking better and better on paper every week with Flair vs. Hart having one of the best builds I can remember in a long time. On top of that you get a very good match from Benoit and Malenko and you have a solid half of the show.

Unfortunately the other half had to be here too and it brought things down. The rest of the show was either too short to mean much or a lot of stupid talking. Do we really need to bring in some big name lawyer to decide Giant vs. Nash and spent ten minutes talking about performance bonds? Wait it’s WCW so of course we do, and we have to have real businessmen and attorneys doing the talking instead of actors/people that know how to talk. It’s a decent show for the most part and it went by very fast this week.

Remember to follow me on Twitter @kbreviews and pick up my new book on the History of Starrcade from Amazon for just $4 at:

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