Monday Nitro – March 2, 1998: The Tony Schiavone Problem

Monday Nitro #129
Date: March 2, 1998
Location: Corestates Spectrum, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Commentators: Mike Tenay, Larry Zbyszko, Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan

The main story tonight is we have an NWO guy teaming with a WCW guy to face two more NWO guys in the main event of Hall/Hogan vs. Sting/Savage. We’re less than two weeks away from Uncensored and the card is already shaping up very nicely. Hopefully WCW can rebound after a weak showing on last week’s show. Let’s get to it.

After some clips from Savage’s beatdown last week, we see the NWO arriving. Nash is already here for some reason.

Chris Benoit vs. Scotty Riggs

Benoit sends him into the corner to start but can’t hit the German suplex. Instead he clotheslines Riggs in the back of the head and hits a belly to back for two before sending Riggs to the floor. Benoit follows him out and chops Lodi, only to have Riggs get in a shot from behind. Back in and Benoit counters a vertical suplex into a snap suplex, only to be clotheslined down for two. We hit the chinlock for a few seconds before Riggs sends Benoit into the corner. They seem to botch what was supposed to be Riggs going into the post before Benoit rolls the Germans and hooks the Crossface for the submission.

Rating: D+. This wasn’t bad but it didn’t have the time to get anywhere. We’ve been through Benoit fighting the Flock already so this wasn’t anything we hadn’t seen before. Raven is gearing up to fight Page on Thunder but Benoit is still stuck in the same place he’s been for months, which sums up his run in WCW in a five minute segment.

Ric Flair hypes up the main event for some reason.

The announcers talk about Randy Savage winning the Harvard Lampoon’s Man of the Year award.

Here are Hogan and Bischoff with something to say. Eric calls Savage a midget and says things can still be healed. Hogan is tired of hearing about Savage who isn’t even famous enough to get on Leno or Conan. The NWO is for life but Savage has gotten just enough rope to hang himself. He brags about being able to beat Sting and Savage and makes bald jokes in an eye rolling line. All his disciples know he’s too sweet, which is probably supposed to introduce Beefcake’s new name. Hogan rambled a bit but this was fine.

Gene and the Nitro Girls are at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.

Juventud Guerrera vs. Chavo Guerrero Jr.

They trade arm work to start with Juvy doing Owen Hart’s spinning nip up counter but getting caught by a clothesline. They speed things up a bit and both guys flip around a bit before Chavo hits another clothesline for two. Juvy flips over the corner and hits a pair of springboard missile dropkicks for no cover. Chavo avoids a charge in the corner and jumps to the top to snap Juvy’s throat across the top. Back in and the tornado DDT is countered into a sloppy looking rollup before hitting the Juvy Driver and the 450 for the pin.

Rating: C. This was fine and followed the tried and true formula of letting two small guys fly around the ring for four minutes to fire up the crowd. Juvy was a few steps ahead of Chavo at this point but Guerrero would wind up being the better all around wrestler. Juvy looked good despite losing the mask, although I still don’t agree with the decision to take it off of him.

Psychosis vs. Prince Iaukea

During the entrances we’re told of a new music video from Stuck Mojo featuring Page and the Flock which will debut later tonight. Psychosis jumps him to start and hits a quick baseball slide to send the Prince into the barricade. Iaukea avoids a dive and sends Psychosis face first into the barricade to take over. Back in and Psychosis hits a pair of left arm lariats while shaking his right arm.

Iaukea gets two off a dropkick to the back of the head and they slug it out a bit. Psychosis gets two of his own off a spinwheel kick and hits a dropkick to the back of the head of his own. A top rope hurricanrana gets two on the Prince followed by the guillotine legdrop but Psychosis pulls Prince up at two. Psychosis crotches Iaukea on the top and tries a top rope victory roll but Iaukea falls on top of him for the pin.

Rating: C-. This wasn’t bad but it wasn’t a good idea to have it right after the Juvy vs. Guerrero match. Psychosis looked decent but Iaukea continues to be one of the most uninteresting guys I’ve ever seen. There’s nothing that separates him from any other generic wrestler out there and that’s not good for a show like Nitro.

Ad for Uncensored.

Raven vs. Disco Inferno

Disco wears the same kind of hat that HHH wore in 2000 which doesn’t suit him at all. Disco kicks him into the corner to start and hits a quick swinging neckbreaker for two before sending Raven to the outside. Raven sends him into the barricade and drops Disco onto the apron to take over. A chair is brought into the ring but Disco sends Raven face first into it instead to take over. Disco chokes away with some tape but Raven hits the drop toehold onto the chair and the Evenflow is good for the pin. Short but better than I expected.

More from the party with Gene talking to a bored cop and some guy from Cleveland.

Hugh Morrus/Barbarian vs. Public Enemy

Both teams bring tables with them but Public Enemy has a trashcan as well. The can is thrown into the ring and it’s a big brawl to start. Public Enemy is over huge with the Philly crowd and apparently this is a Philadelphia street fight. Jimmy Hart gets in some shots of his own on Rocco but Barbarian and Morrus clothesline each other.

Grunge puts Jimmy on the table but Barbarian makes the save so Morrus can superplex Rocco through the table. Morrus hits Barbarian with a high cross body by mistake and the other table is brought in. Rocco dives through Morrus (the table was breaking before he dove) for the fast pin. Another short match but Public Enemy was WAY over.

Here are Savage and Liz (looking GOOD tonight) with something to say. Savage says he’s tired of carrying Hogan for all these years and without the NWO, Hogan wouldn’t have a life. Savage calls Hall and Hogan cowards and says Sting will do business Savage’s way. Here’s Sting (still not carrying the belt which I haven’t seen on TV since SuperBrawl) with a mic for once. The survey says Hall is dead but he hasn’t forgotten what Savage has done over the years. Sting will only be doing things his way.

Goldberg vs. Sick Boy

Goldberg hits a quick gorilla press drop and a clothesline to stop a charging Sick Boy. Sick Boy slips off a springboard and the fans let him have it. Goldberg says hit me with your best shot but it’s the spear and Jackhammer for the pin.

We get the music video with the band (Stuck Mojo) playing in a ring as the Flock watches from ringside. They get inside and dive right back out onto the fans as the band plays. DDP finally gets in and cleans house with a wooden chair. Raven and Page stare each other down to end the video. The song is called Rising if you want to check it out.

Here’s DDP for an interview right after the video ends. He has a title defense against Raven on Thursday and since Raven likes quotes so much, Page’s quote is Raven is about to get BANGED. Page leaves, which seems rather silly considering what comes next.

Hammer vs. Diamond Dallas Page

Hammer jumps Page as he comes in and hits a quick powerslam for no cover. Page is stomped down in the corner but he comes back with rights and lefts while Hammer argues with the referee. He goes up onto the ropes to rain down right hands but Hammer hits him low to stop Page cold. DDP spins around Hammer’s shoulders and hits a Diamond Cutter but Raven runs in for the DQ before a cover.

Raven beats Page down but Benoit makes the save. All three guys brawl to a break.

More Nitro Party stuff.

Bret Hart is looking forward to facing Hennig because the NWO is a bunch of liars and bullies. He’s here to tear the NWO down brick by brick and at Uncensored, Hennig will learn that Bret is the best there is, was and ever will be. Also Stu Hart can beat up Larry Hennig any day.

British Bulldog vs. Scott Norton

Norton shoves Bulldog around in a rare occurrence for the Brit. Bulldog comes back with a regular slam followed by a powerslam (not the powerslam mind you) but Norton clotheslines him to the floor. Norton loads up a powerbomb on the floor but stops to shove the referee away for a DQ.

Bulldog and Norton brawl up the ramp. So Norton seems to have replaced Mongo, which is an upgrade…..I think?

The announcers talk about the main event some more.

Konnan vs. Super Calo

Before the match, Konnan says Juventud is a punk for losing his mask and is no longer raza. Konnan grabs the arm to start and they speed things up with Calo hitting a quick armdrag. An awkward looking shove puts Konnan down (looked like someone missed a cue) and a dropkick puts him into the corner. Konnan hits the rolling clothesline to take over but the announcers are talking about Raven vs. Page vs. Benoit being made official for the PPV. Calo hits a quick clothesline and dropkick for two but Konnan hits the cradle DDT and the Tequila Sunrise for a fast submission.

Juvy comes out to prevent Konnan from taking Calo’s mask. A match is made for next week.

Here’s Ric Flair with something to say. Flair wants to know why Gene is at the party but Flair is here. Actually he already knows: he wants to see the main event. Well he already promoted it earlier. Flair starts talking about Bret but here are Hennig and Rude to interrupt. Flair says he’s Eric Lindros (Philadelphia hockey star for those of you unfamiliar) and they’re the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Hennig says if Flair is a 14 time champion then he’s also a 14 time loser. Flair gets ready to fight and Hennig comes in for the brawl but Rude rakes Flair’s eyes to give Hennig the advantage. Ric comes back with a low blow and goes for the leg but Rude comes in again for a Hennigplex and a three count from Rude. Bret FINALLY comes out for the save.

More Nitro Party stuff.

Jim Duggan vs. Scott Steiner

Duggan spends too much time walking around the ring and gets decked by White Thunder. Two Duggan clotheslines have no effect but a third knocks him out to the floor. Back in and a big slam puts Steiner down but Steiner comes back with a butterfly powerbomb for no cover. Steiner hooks a chinlock but Duggan morons up and shrugs off the forearms to the back.

Right hands stagger Scott but he tries a middle rope sunset flip of all things for two. Duggan pounds away in the corner again but he misses a charge and goes face first into the post, sending him out to the floor. Back in and the spinning belly to belly sets up the Steiner Recliner for the submission.

Rating: C-. This was actually decent with Duggan playing the role of plucky fighter far better than I expected him to. That being said, Steiner shouldn’t have had this much trouble with a jobber to the stars like Duggan so soon after his major heel turn. It’s no wonder why it took so long for him to get over.

Booker T/Dean Malenko vs. Eddie Guerrero/Chris Jericho

This is a rematch from Thunder where Eddie/Jericho won. Before the match Jericho declares this Monday Jericho and says his first guest is Eddie Guerrero for this tag team. Booker starts with Jericho with the latter still wearing the Juvy mask around his neck. Some quick forearms knock Jericho into the corner but Chris comes back with a middle rope dropkick for two. Eddie comes in and everything breaks down with Dean and Booker clearing the ring.

Eddie and Jericho hug on the floor as the good guys beg for them to come back in. Eddie comes in again and drops to his knees to beg but Booker forearms him in the head. A dropkick to the leg puts Booker down and Jericho comes in for a double clothesline. Eddie’s slingshot hilo gets no cover but another forearm puts him right back down.

Off to Dean as things break down again and Booker superkicks Guerrero in the back of the head. Dean breaks up a Lionsault but Booker misses a side kick to Eddie. Booker and Eddie fall to the floor and it’s Dean and Jericho inside. A slow motion Attitude Adjustment puts Jericho down and the Cloverleaf gets the win for Malenko and Booker.

Rating: C+. This is another of those matches that’s an easy layup for two given the talent in there. It’s also an easy way to set up Jericho vs. Malenko at the PPV and give the fans reason to believe Malenko can win. Booker and Eddie already have a reason to face each other so this advanced two feuds at the same time. Good stuff.

Here’s the Nash and the NWO B-Team with something to say. Scott Steiner gets to the point by asking his brother Rick to join the NWO. Here are Rick and DiBiase with Rick immediately joining with the too sweet sign to all the members. Rick surprises them with right hands but Buff stops him before he gets to Scott. A big beatdown ensues but Nash pulls away from a powerbomb. He loads up another one but Rick backdrops out and here’s the Giant to get his hands on Nash. Giant headbutts Nash down and gives him a good powerbomb, only to hurt his own neck in the process.

During the break security try to handcuff the Giant but the cuffs don’t fit.

Brian Adams vs. Bret Hart

This is Bret’s Nitro debut. Adams jumps Bret as he comes in and hits a gorilla press gutbuster to send him to the floor. Bret sends him into the post to take over back inside and pounds away in the corner. The Russian legsweep looks to set up the Sharpshooter but Adams gets a rope. Brian hits a clothesline to take over and hits a slow motion tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. A turnbuckle comes off somewhere in there but it’s Adams going face first into it, setting up the Sharpshooter. Before he can tap out though here’s Hennig for the DQ.

Rating: D. Of all the opponents they could have picked for Bret’s debut match on Nitro they picked Adams? I don’t know why the guy was signed in the first place as he’s just a generic power guy who doesn’t do anything special in the ring at all. You can already see Bret being wasted from here, as he debuted as a referee, wrestled one very good PPV match and is now fighting Brian Adams. That’s not a good sign.

Sting/Randy Savage vs. Hollywood Hogan/Scott Hall

We’re finally to this match which Tony has hyped up like it was the original NWO match. The problem here is the match is going to have about ten minutes and odds are it ends in a run in. I get the idea of hyping up the main event, but when the match isn’t going to be anything special it makes you look bad. Schiavone is famous for this and tonight is the first time he’s really done it for a match that isn’t all that huge. To really pound it in, Buffer does the big intro and calls it the main event of the evening, but Tony corrects him by saying it’s the main event of all time. It’s a big match but it’s making Tony sound silly at this point.

This is a rare instance of Hall being treated as one of the top guys in the NWO. After the first few weeks of the team he was always a step below Hogan and at times below Nash. From what I can find, this is the only time Hogan and Hall teamed together without Nash there too. On the way to the ring, Bischoff holds up a sign saying “Raw fears ratings.” Sting STILL isn’t wearing the belt. What’s up with that? I don’t think I’ve seen it since he won the title and I’m almost forgetting he’s champion.

It’s a big brawl to start with Bischoff in there to help out too. Sting and Savage clean house with Sting fighting Hogan on the floor instead of the guy he’s defending the title against in two weeks. Hall and Savage are fighting off camera while Sting whips Hogan with the weightlifting belt. Savage and Hall get back to the ring with Randy whipping Scott with the belt. We officially get going with Savage elbowing Hall in the face before bringing in Sting for a Vader Bomb of all things for two.

Back to Savage for the double ax handle before Sting drops an elbow for two. Savage pulls Hogan off the apron and sends him into the barricade. Randy comes back in for elbows to the head but Hogan comes in with some kind of metal object to knock Savage silly and give the NWO control.

It’s Savage playing face in peril now with Hogan pounding him in the head and clotheslining him in the corner. Hall gets two off the fallaway slam and it’s back to Hogan for more punching. There’s the big boot but Savage avoids the leg drop. The hot tag brings in Sting for two quick Stinger Splashes as everything breaks down. Sting loads up the Scorpion on Hogan but the NWO runs in for the DQ.

Rating: D+. It was your standard main event tag with a somewhat faster pace. How this changed the wrestling world I’m not sure but one thing is very clear: Sting may be world champion but that doesn’t mean much. I don’t think his match with Hall was even mentioned here and they might have had 30 seconds of contact in a ten minute match. It’s clear that whatever Hogan is doing is the top story and the world champion is a distant second.

A bunch of WCW guys come out for the save and Hogan names the new guy Disciple to end the show.

Overall Rating: C. Much like Thunder this was a very easy show to get through. Nothing on here was bad and the worst stuff was all short. That being said, a lot of this show is just there. It’s not very good, it’s not very bad and it just exists. It’s the kind of stuff that you watch and then forget about five minutes later, which is bad when there’s about an hour of it a week. On the good side though, Uncensored looks like a solid card and the television hasn’t been bad leading up to it. This was a show building to the PPV and there’s nothing wrong with that.

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