Monday Nitro – April 13, 1998: Tonight Is The Night

Monday Nitro #135
Date: April 13, 1998
Location: Target Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Commentators: Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan, Larry Zbyszko, Mike Tenay

Tonight is the go home show for Spring Stampede, but much more importantly than that it’s the night that the WWF won a round in the Monday Night Wars. Over on Raw there was the first ever Vince McMahon vs. Steve Austin match, but it should be interesting to see what Nitro was offering that the fans decided wasn’t good enough. Let’s get to it.

The Nitro Girls are in white to open things up.

The announcers talk about the bat match on Sunday.

Scott Steiner vs. Fit Finlay

Vincent has the trophy with him again. I’m assuming it’s some kind of a bodybuilding trophy but WCW hasn’t bothered to explain it yet. Steiner immediately bails to the floor for encouragement from Vincent. Back in and Steiner easily takes him to the mat and rides Finlay over to the ropes.

The belly to belly gets a face pop for Scott and there’s the elbow into the push-ups. Steiner goes to the floor to yell at Larry Hennig (Curt’s dad) before getting caught in an atomic drop from Finlay. The rolling senton puts Steiner down again but Finlay misses a charge into the buckle. A falling suplex from the top sets up the Recliner for the submission from Finlay, making Steiner the WCW Alliteration Champion.

Rating: D+. I’m not wild on Finlay being used for a jobber but it’s better than having big names collide and having them both come out looking lame. Steiner still isn’t over as a heel and the stupid trophy isn’t going to make the fans boo him any more. Nothing match here but Steiner looked pretty dominant.

Bret Hart talks about getting screwed over again. Does he have ANYTHING else he can talk about? This seems to be the first of a bunch of sound bytes from Bret tonight.

Call the Hotline to hear about….uh….wrestling stuff!

Lenny Lane vs. Ultimo Dragon

Things start fast with Dragon taking him over with a headscissors. Dragon has his head slammed into the mat and the corners for good measure with Lane in control. A sunset flip gets two for Dragon but Lane chokes him on the ropes to keep control. We hit the chinlock on Dragon but Lane lets go to yell at the fans. Dragon comes back with the headstand in the corner and a kick to Lenny’s back to take over.

Lane avoids a spinwheel kick and sends Dragon to the floor, only to miss a plancha to put both guys down. Lenny is up first and slams Dragon on the floor but doesn’t follow up. Back in and Dragon runs into a powerslam for two and a bulldog gets the same. Lane tries a suplex but Dragon slips over his back and hooks the Dragon Sleeper for the submission.

Rating: C+. This was much more entertaining than I was expecting with Lane holding his own against the Dragon until the end of the match where he got caught. Lane is one of those guys that was talented but never got a chance to show off. With more charisma, Dragon could have been a solid midcard guy in WCW but he was always stuck around the cruiserweights or lower card.

Bret wants to be world champion.

The announcers talk about the bat match again, this time for like two minutes straight.

Roddy is in the back and says he’s tired of listening to Hogan and Nash so tonight they’re fighting each other. After that’s done, he’s coming after Hogan himself. Hogan and Disciple get tired of listening to Piper’s rambling and run in to lay him out.

Here’s Giant with something to say. He knows Piper is going to be fine for Sunday and lets the NWO know that he hasn’t forgotten a thing Nash has done to him. Very short here but it got the point across well enough.

Johnny Grunge vs. Chavo Guerrero Jr.

Chavo takes him to the corner to start but gets suckered in by a handshake. Grunge takes over on the arm but Chavo spins out to twist on Grunge’s arm instead. Off to an armbar but Johnny fights up and hits a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker to take over. Chavo sends him head first into the buckle and loads up a sunset flip, only to have Grunge sit down on it for the big upset. The announcers treat it like what everyone knew would happen.

Bret doesn’t like Hogan and Nash.

More Nitro Girls, this time with bunny ears.

Here’s Nash with something to say. Apparently Hogan has run out the back door instead of facing him here tonight. Since Hogan has bailed and since Savage is nowhere in sight, how about Nash vs. Sting again this week? This brings out Sting with the bat but no belt. JJ comes out to hold them back but Sting says Nash can have the title shot. Dillon says the match has to be in the main event, but Sting wants the powerbomb reinstated. JJ isn’t sure but eventually gives in.

Glacier vs. Chris Benoit

Glacier fires off some kicks to start but Benoit leg whips him down and stomps Glacier in the corner. Glacier comes back with his kicks as the announcers talk about Booker vs. Benoit for the TV Title at the PPV with no time limit. A kick to the back of Benoit’s head gets two more but Benoit comes back with a hard chop. Benoit takes him down with a German suplex as Tony compares Glacier’s win/loss record to Goldberg’s. Glacier sweeps Benoit’s legs out but Chris calmly waits for him to come over and snaps on the Crossface for the submission.

Rating: C-. The match was nothing of note but Benoit looked great out there. The German looked great and the ending was perfect. Benoit looked like he was toying with Glacier out there which is what you want going into the title match on Sunday. The more Nitro I watch I understand Benoit’s fans raging against WCW for never pushing him. He’s just that good.

Hour #2 begins so we hit the recap button.

Buff Bagwell vs. Lex Luger

Before the match Bagwell and Bischoff have something to say. Buff says the one thing he can’t do is predict the future. If he could, he would have challenged Rick Steiner instead of Luger for attacking Bischoff. Buff makes fun of Luger and Steiner’s poses in a funny bit. Bischoff says Hogan isn’t here to take care of Rick because he’s on the Tonight Show. The idea of Hogan associating with Rick Steiner is rather amusing.

Buff pounds away to start after a quick posedown, only to have Luger run him over with a shoulder. A dropkick puts Luger down and it’s time for more posing. Luger hiptosses and slams Bagwell down, sending Buff out to the floor. In one of the only times I can ever remember, Luger actually shows some humor by doing Buff’s strut and pose, complete with the big grin.

Back in and Luger pounds away but gets caught by a swinging neckbreaker. We hit the reverse chinlock with Luger looking more bored than in pain. Buff lets go of the hold but misses the Blockbuster, allowing Luger to do his usual sequence for the comeback. There’s the Torture Rack but Bischoff comes in for the DQ.

Rating: D+. Of all the matches they could start the second hour with, they picked this? As in the match where the whole story is Bagwell has beaten Luger like five times already? That’s a good way to sum up WCW: yeah we know you’ve seen this already, but here it is again because we don’t have any new ideas. Also, why was Buff Bagwell so protected? It’s not as bad as Norton but he was always losing by DQ or countout instead of pin or submission, even to much bigger stars like Luger.

Post match both Steiners run out with Rick and Luger standing tall.

Bret Hart says Savage should get out of the NWO while he can.

The Nitro Girls are in black now.

Heenan is on commentary.

Cruiserweight Title: Super Calo vs. Chris Jericho

Jericho thinks Super Calo is Iaukea under a stupid looking mask. Calo denies it in Spanish but Jericho insists it’s the Prince. The referee actually goes to check it, giving Jericho the cheap shot for an early advantage. A big forearm puts Calo down and a suplex gets two for the champion. Calo comes back with a cradle, only to get punched in the mask to put him back down.

We hit the chinlock for a bit before Jericho easily avoids a dropkick. A gutwrench suplex gets two for Chris and we get a mini fit from Jericho. Calo jumps over Jericho in the corner and gets two off a missile dropkick. Jericho misses a charge and falls to the floor for a BIG plancha from Calo. Back in and Calo misses the top rope headscissors, allowing Jericho to hook the Liontamer to retain.

Rating: C-. Jericho looked good in this glorified squash. That’s one of the problems with Jericho’s reign: he’s beaten every big name in the division and there’s no one left to seriously challenge him. The biggest name he hasn’t beaten is Ultimo Dragon I guess and he’s not even that big of a deal in division anymore.

Post match Jericho won’t let go of the hold so Iaukea comes down. Jericho: “They’re twins!”

Bret Hart respects a few people but Sting is the highest on the list. If Sting ever needs him, just say the word.

Saturn vs. Hammer

Kidman tries to stop this from happening and is thrown away by both guys. They slug it out with Hammer taking over with a clothesline. He puts Saturn on the top for a slam before ramming Saturn’s head into the mat over and over. Saturn comes back with chops in the corner and some high kicks to the head for good measure. Hammer escapes an armbar with a belly to back suplex before lifting Saturn up into a modified Gory Stretch to block a backslide. Not that it matters as Saturn suplexes him down and hooks the Rings of Saturn for the submission. Better match than I was expecting here actually.

Rocco Rock vs. Goldberg

A hard shoulder block puts Rocco down and a right hand does the same. They trade elbows to the face before Goldberg launches him across the ring. Rocco bails to the floor so Goldberg beats him up out there, only to punch the post by mistake. Rocco whips him into the steps and loads up a table in the ring. Goldberg pops back in and spears him through the table (not a DQ for no apparent reason) and the Jackhammer makes it 72 in a row.

Saturn tries to get to Goldberg but Raven stops him. Goldberg beats up Sick Boy and Kidman for fun. Saturn is next.

Video on Goldberg.

Hour #3 begins.

More Nitro Girls, still in black.

Nitro Party video.

Curt Hennig vs. Yuji Nagata

Well at least it’s not Neidhart. Rude goes to the commentary booth but says he has guests to take care of at ringside. Apparently Rude’s father is in the front row along with Larry Hennig. Yuji jumps Curt while he’s hugging his dad, earning him a Perfect beating. Nagata is sent to the floor for a beating from Rude. We’re in Minnesota tonight so the fans are completely behind Rude and Hennig. Nagata gets in a few kicks but Hennig shrugs them off and chops Yuji down in the corner. Hennig sends him to the floor so Larry Hennig can reveal a HENNIG RULES shirt. Back in and the PerfectPlex ends the squash.

Post match Rude handcuffs Nagata to the ropes so the beating can continue. Neidhart comes down well after they’ve gone and isn’t even acknowledged by the announcers.

TV Title: La Parka vs. Booker T

They lock up and head to the corner for a clean break. The fans chant what sounds like Jesse as Booker backdrops La Parka down. Booker kicks him down and clotheslines him out to the floor. Back in and they clothesline each other down but Booker is up first with a spinebuster. Part of La Parka’s match is torn. A flapjack sets up the side kick and the missile dropkick retains Booker’s title.

Rating: C-. Again the match wasn’t bad but there’s nothing on this show that makes me want to keep watching it. La Parka’s hot streak is over as he’s now just a jobber to the stars. Booker got a nice win here just like Benoit did earlier which makes both guys look good going into the title match. Simple idea yet it’s so rarely done today.

Post match La Parka loads up the chair but Benoit comes out to stop him. Booker offers a handshake but Benoit shoves him down instead.

Video on Raven vs. DDP.

US Title: Robbie Rage vs. Diamond Dallas Page

Page runs him over and hits a quick belly to back suplex for no cover. Rage’s partner Kaos grabs Page’s leg, giving Rage a cheap shot to the champion’s ribs. A nice looking springboard splash gets two but Page crotches Rage against the post to stop him cold. Back in and a running Diamons Cutter retains the title. Another squash.

Post match Raven and the Flock come down the aisle with Raven yelling about being stuck in ECW since Page wouldn’t get him a job in WCW. Page dives over the top to take the Flock out but they stop him from getting to Raven.

Konnan vs. Rick Steiner

Vincent and DiBiase get in a shoving match before the bell which distracts Rick (like that’s so hard) to give Konnan an early advantage. Rick comes back with something close to a low blow to send Konnan out to the floor. Steiner follows and gets double teamed by Vincent and Konnan, only to have DiBiase beat up Vincent to a big reaction. Back in and Konnan hits his rolling lariat before putting on an armbar. Konnan tries to jump over Rick in the corner but gets caught in a powerslam for two. Rick suplexes him down again and the Steiner Bulldog gets the pin.

Rating: C-. Oddly enough Rick looked pretty good here with his suplexes and throws. At the end of the day though, it’s really hard to get fired up for Konnan vs. Rick Steiner in a four minute match. It’s nice to see someone new pushed to fight the NWO, but Rick Steiner is only going to draw so much interest.

Video on Savage vs. Nash vs. Hogan.

WCW World Title: Kevin Nash vs. Sting

The announcers have spent all night hyping the fact that the powerbomb is legal. If I know WCW, it probably won’t even be used. Sting pounds him into the corner to start and rains down right hands, only to try to jump over Nash and get caught in Snake Eyes. There’s the foot choke in the corner followed by some knee lifts to the ribs. Nash continues his slow pace by firing off elbows in the corner. Sting comes back with some kicks to the ribs but can’t slam Nash.

Off to a neck crank on the champion before Nash elbows him in the face to stop a comeback. A gutwrench slam gets two on Sting and Nash finally calls for the powerbomb. Scratch that as we need a sidewalk slam for two first. We hit the bearhug as the build to the big move continues. It’s not something you can say that often in a Nash match but the psychology is solid here.

Sting slaps Nash’s ears to break the hold but can’t drop him. Two Stinger Splashes and a dropkick can’t drop Nash so there’s a third Splash. Sting puts on the Scorpion but Savage comes in with a cast shot, giving Nash two. Nash hits the powerbomb but Bret Hart pulls out the referee for the DQ.

Rating: C. Screwy ending aside, this wasn’t all that bad. They did a good job of building up the back injury for Sting and you could see them setting up the powerbomb. Sting has always played a good David to someone else’s Goliath so the result here was a surprisingly entertaining match.

Bret holds off the NWO single handedly to end the show.

Overall Rating: D+. I can’t blame the fans a bit for flipping over to Raw. Let’s look at this for a second: the first match of the second hour was built around the idea of they’ve fought six times before, then the main event is a rematch with another run-in ending. The most competitive match in between there was Hammer vs. Perry Saturn and the rest were glorified squashes. Nothing on here was fresh or new and the show felt like it has for months: uninteresting and focused entirely on the NWO which has been going on for nearly two years now.

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1 comment

  1. Wolfpacindahouse says:

    I thought it was a decent nitro and I was stil into the nwo at this point and didn’t get tired of it. I liked the split as I was a big fan of the wolfpac the only thing I would have changed was some of those random lower card matches like Barbarian vs Bloom