Monday Nitro – June 29, 1998: The Show Before The Big Show

Monday Nitro #143
Date: June 29, 1998
Location: Ice Palace, Tampa, Florida
Attendance: 10,900
Commentators: Tony Schiavone, Mike Tenay, Bobby Heenan, Larry Zbyszko

We’re 13 days away from Bash at the Beach and of course the major story tonight is the NBA tag match. Tonight also marks the first appearance of Karl Malone on the show, meaning Tony will constantly tell us how nothing has ever been bigger in the history of our sport. The hype wound up working due to how successful the PPV was but man alive it’s not easy to sit through week in and week out. Let’s get to it.

The Nitro Girls get us going. Not a bad way to start.

The announcers intro the show and Larry can’t pronounce anticipation.

Gene brings out Kevin Greene for an opening chat. Greene doesn’t remember Hennig’s name but he does remember Goldberg, who he calls the best wrestler in the last 30 years. He plugs the tag match at the PPV and leaves. This was maybe 45 seconds long.

Kanyon vs. Horace

Kanyon starts fast with a Moss Covered Three Handled Family Credenza (starts like a fisherman’s suplex but into a swinging neckbreaker instead of a suplex) for two before stomping Horace down into the corner. A Lodi distraction lets Horace clothesline Kanyon to the floor though and Horace follows up with a suicide dive. Not a bad one either.

Kanyon is whipped into the stop sign against the barricade which is legal because all of the Flock’s matches are under Raven’s Rules. Or the referee is a dolt. Back inside and Horace superplexes Kanyon down for two but gets caught in a swinging neckbreaker. Kanyon comes back with a fireman’s carry into a pancake for no cover as Kanyon has to go after Lodi. Horace gets two off a big boot but walks into the Flatliner for the pin.

Rating: C-. Decent little match here as Kanyon continues to look great in the ring almost every time. Horace is a better power guy than he’s given credit for, but that’s what you have to expect when the guy is Hulk’s nephew. The Kanyon vs. Raven blowoff match should be solid once we finally get there.

Post match the Flock hits the ring but Kanyon holds them off. Raven himself finally comes in and the distraction lets the Flock take Kanyon down. Raven says Kanyon standing alone is usually honorable but today it’s foolish. The Evenflow lays Kanyon out.

A semi-truck is on the way but not even in Florida yet according to Tony.

Opening sequence, nearly 20 minutes into the show.

The announcers talk about the tag match again.

We get the phone call from Thunder from Page saying he and Malone are driving a big rig from Salt Lake City to Nitro with a surprise inside. The surprise: a bunch of chairs. Seriously, he said there was a surprise inside then said there’s nothing but chairs inside. I’m guessing that’s another slip of the tongue.

Back to the helicopter shot of the truck with Tony saying it’s been in Florida all day, contradicting what he said five minutes ago. He’s getting better if nothing else.

The Black and White is arming itself with various metal weapons such as crowbars and chains.

More fans think Page and Malone are going to win.

Here’s Stevie Ray who has demanded TV time tonight. He’s got a problem with that pipsqueak Chris Benoit and that ex-football player Steve McMichael. Everybody knows he could beat both of them one on one but Booker T wants a tag match. Stevie won’t say where Booker is right now but he’ll be here later for a tag match if the challenge is accepted.

Little Dragon vs. Eddie Guerrero

Dragon is another guy from Dragon Gate who is better known as Dragon Kid. This is his only WCW appearance, meaning the fans aren’t exactly thrilled with him. Eddie quickly takes him down by the arm but Dragon flips out and hits a handspring elbow in the corner. A tilt-a-whirl backbreaker puts Dragon down again and Eddie hits the slingshot hilo to his back.

The fans chant for Chavo so Eddie hits a brainbuster. He looks all over the place for Chavo before going up for the frog splash. Here’s Chavo riding a hobby horse named Pepe and telling Eddie (“Little Trooper”) to keep going. Eddie tries to steal the horse and the distraction lets Dragon roll Eddie up for the pin.

Rating: D+. The match wasn’t bad but was more for the story than the match itself. Chavo is completely insane by this point and the character is getting over as a result. Imagine that: a veteran doing a story with a younger guy and the younger guy getting over. Also notice that Eddie hasn’t lost any of his heat at all and is getting better reactions from the crowd. Why is this such a hard concept to grasp?

Chris Jericho offers Ultimo Dragon a title shot on Thunder if Dragon takes Malenko out tonight.

More Nitro Girls.

Nitro Party winner.

Sumo Fuji/Judo Suwa vs. Giant

Rude and Hennig are here with Giant and Rude’s beard is getting out of control. Wade Boggs is here and Larry is furious for him shaking hands with the NWO. Neither Japanese guy comes up past Giant’s chest. Giant kicks Judo in the face and a double chokeslam ends this in less than 45 seconds.

The NWO clears the Dragon Gate guys out of the ring and says if Kevin Greene wants some right now, come get it. Greene comes to the aisle on his own with Hennig talking a lot of trash about the “non-athlete”. Goldberg shows up behind Greene and the good guys clear the ring. The Goldberg chant comes on, despite the crowd shots showing no one actually chanting.

More fans think Page and Malone will win.

Here are Hogan and Bischoff with something to say. Hogan sings (meaning recites) his theme song’s lyrics on the way to the ring. Tony describes Hogan as magnificent, which doesn’t sound like something you say about your hated rival. Eric says Hogan used to want to be a truck mechanic so he can help if Malone and Page break down. Hogan talks about beating up truck drivers in Tampa years ago and promises to make Karl Malone famous tonight.

Hanging out with a loser like Page isn’t going to help Malone’s legacy and neither will Hogan turning the truck over on Malone’s back. Malone will end up shining Hollywood’s shoes because Karl couldn’t lace the black Jesus’ shoes on the basketball course. Tonight Hogan will take care of Malone by himself. Somehow this took seven minutes.

The truck is on the way, complete with a police escort. Also it’s apparently gone from full daylight to pitch black in about 20 minutes.

Hour #2 begins.

Sting/Lex Luger vs. Jim Neidhart/British Bulldog

Non-title match. Luger is teaming with Sting again, making me wonder why Nash was given the title in the first place. Neidhart and Luger get us going by trading shoulder blocks until Luger clotheslines him out to the floor. Back in and it’s off to Sting and Bulldog which pleases the fans quite a bit. Sting grabs a headlock and sends Bulldog to the floor for a breather.

Bulldog comes back in and wants to face his former Allied Powers teammate. They pose at each other until it’s off to Anvil for even more posing. Larry: “Is he flexing his beard?” Sting comes in and runs Neidhart around the ring before it’s back to Luger who is taken into the corner. Luger gets double teamed for a few seconds before coming back with a double clothesline to put both Neidhart and Luger down. Hot tag to Sting who cleans house and finishes Bulldog with the Death Drop.

Rating: D-. This was HORRIBLE with both teams taking as much time as they could doing as little as they could. Neidhart and Bulldog just weren’t working in WCW and I think everyone knew it. They really don’t have characters outside of being Bret’s relatives which doesn’t work when they’re not allowed to associate with him. It didn’t help that Bulldog was a shell of himself at this point and Anvil never was much of note without Bret.

More fans, same opinions.

Saturn vs. Reese

The monster pounds Saturn in the chest to start but Saturn superkicks Reese down to his knees. Reese grabs Saturn and gorilla presses him from one knee in an impressive power display. Some knees in the corner have Saturn in trouble but he kicks Reese in the knee and takes him down. A missile dropkick drops Reese before the Death Valley Driver is good for the pin. We can add Saturn to the list of guys that WCW amazingly managed to screw up.

The Flock immediately comes in and swarms Saturn. Raven says it’s time Saturn starts taking responsibility for his life. He talks about giving Saturn everything but Saturn never gave anything back. An Evenflow lays Saturn out just like it did Kanyon earlier.

We recap the NWO beating down Greene las tweek until Goldberg made the save.

The motorcade continues.

More Nitro Girls.

El Vampiro vs. Brad Armstrong

Vampiro looks much different without his facepaint. Feeling out process to start with Armstrong taking him into the corner but Vampiro lands on his feet off a monkey flip. A clothesline puts Vampiro down but he comes back with a nice spinning kick to the jaw. Vampiro scores again with a spinwheel kick to the face and the Nail in the Coffin (Michinoku Driver) for the pin. Just a squash even though Vampiro wouldn’t be back until next March.

Promo for the tag match at Bash at the Beach.

The NWO Late Night band is warming up. Oh this isn’t going to go well.

Tokyo Magnum/Shiima Nobunaga vs. Disco Inferno/Alex Wright

Nobunaga is more famous as Cima. Toyky starts dancing between Wright and Disco and takes his clothes off at the same time. Disco and Wright aren’t into the stripping stuff and pounds Tokyo out to the floor. Nobunaga starts with Alex and we get a rather nice wrestling sequence with Nobunaga taking over via a flying mare and a dropkick. Wright runs him over and tags in Disco who is sent chest first into the buckle and drokicked in the back.

Off to Magnum who walks into an atomic drop and it’s off to Wright for a spinwheel kick. Alex tries a slingshot splash but lands on knees to put him down. Back to Nobunaga for a springboard Swanton Bomb before it’s back to Tokyo to stomp away in the corner. Tokyo tries something out of the corner but slips down on the first try. A top rope hurricanrana brings Disco down but Wright comes in sans tag with a missile dropkick. Tokyo is knocked into the corner and it’s off to Nobunaga who gets caught by a neckbreaker from Alex for the pin.

Rating: C+. This was a much better match than I was expecting with Nobunaga shining better than anyone else. Tokyo, who is mostly remembered in WCW as a comedy jobber, looked much better than I was expecting out there. Wright and Disco weren’t bad either, making for a nice though short match.

Disco and Alex argue over which music should play post match.

Tenay interviews fans about the tag match. Guess who they pick to win.

Ultimo Dragon vs. Dean Malenko

Fast start with Dragon cranking on the arm and taking Dean down with a flying mare. Malenko jumps over a leg sweep and avoids a kick before both guys try dropkicks to give us a standoff. Dragon grabs the arm to take over before shifting over the knee instead. We get the headstand out of the corner but Dean catches him coming out of the corner in a nasty looking release German suplex.

The rapid fire kicks have Dean in trouble but he rolls out of the Dragon Sleeper. Dragon takes him into the corner for the top rope hurricanrana but gets caught in the super gutbuster instead. This brings out Jericho to say this is where Dean’s father is buried. Dean lets go of the Cloverleaf to chase Jericho to the back for a countout.

Rating: C. The match was good while it lasted but just like the Eddie match it wound up being about storytelling instead of the match. That’s fine a lot of the time, but at some point there has to be a payoff for Dean. Yeah he won the title at Slamboree but it was taken away just a few weeks later. That kind of cheapens the win and a boost for Dean wouldn’t hurt.

Hour #3 begins.

We get a clip from Thunder of Arn Anderson saying the Horsemen are over.

Chris Benoit/Steve McMichael vs. Harlem Heat

Benoit and Booker get us going which is the best idea for everyone. Stevie comes in before there’s any contact though and gets stomped down into the corner with ease. A clothesline out of the same corner takes Benoit down and it’s off to Booker who gets caught in a dragon screw leg whip. Tag brings in Mongo to pound on Booker with his generic power offense until he charges into a boot in the corner.

Back to Stevie for his own generic power offense as the crowd audibly dies. Booker comes back in for a spinebuster for two but Benoit has had enough. Everything breaks down without any tags and here’s Bret Hart with a chair to blast Booker in the back, giving Mongo (who didn’t see Bret) a pin.

Rating: D+. Simple explanation for this: Booker and Benoit good, Stevie and Mongo bad. That’s as basic as you can get here and the fans seemed to feel the same. I’m not even sure why Stevie doesn’t like Benoit in the first place. Is it just because Benoit offered to help Booker whenever he needed it? That’s why we’ve in the third week of feuding?

Dean catches up with Jericho in the locker room and pounds on him until Ultimo Dragon tries to break it up. Malenko beats on him for a bit, allowing Jericho to escape.

The longest motorcade route in history continues.

It’s time for the Eric Bischoff Show. This is going to suck isn’t it? Eric (Bandleader: “One heck of a real swell guy!”) and Liz come out to a talk show set that is nearly identical to the Tonight Show. The bandleader says this is like the Barney and the motorcycle episode of Andy Griffith or the first time there were transgender truck drivers beating each other up on Jerry Springer.

The bandleader goes on a long rant about hot sauce on barbecue pork rinds in a trailer. I think this is supposed to be funny but the speech made me lose focus. The guest tonight is Scott Steiner who says his usual promo before talking about the tag match. He runs down Malone for his Rogaine commercials and says calling Malone the Mailman is fraud since he never delivers. Steiner says he’s got a co-star in his Hollywood project and promises to have him here next week. This was so far beyond stupid that it needs to study to get to dumb.

Booker comes out and says that he doesn’t always agree with Stevie Ray but that’s another story for another time. This is the second time that Bret Hart has come out here and hit him in the back of the head with a chair and Booker wants to know why. Stevie comes out and wants to know why Booker is challenging Bret, even though he didn’t do that yet. Booker does challenge Hart and here’s Bret, who says if there’s a challenge, just go ahead and “ax” him. The challenge is accepted but Booker better not cry when he loses. The match is on for the PPV but Stevie wanted Booker to jump Bret right there.

Hogan and Bischoff want Malone and Page here now. Hollywood has an idea though.

More Nitro Girls with the hometown girl Whisper getting a rare solo.

US Title: Glacier vs. Goldberg

Buffer does the big intro for what might last two minutes. For some reason Heenan thinks Glacier’s music is Goldberg’s. The champ’s entrance takes over two and a half minutes. Page and Malone are officially pulling up to the arena. Actually scratch that as they’re still a few blocks away. Goldberg tries his leg lock but Glacier comes back with kicks to the face. The champion completely no sells them and hits a kind of powerbomb. The spear and Jackhammer retain the belt. Typical Goldberg here.

The announcers talk about the motorcade again.

Here are Hogan and Bischoff for the big closing segment. Hogan says he hoped to take care of this really quickly but Malone and Page are clearly scared. The motorcade is finally arriving with a few minutes to go in the show. Hogan keeps calling them losers but doesn’t seem to know they’re here. Hogan: “At Bash at the Beach, I don’t even want you to tune in.” Nice promotion there dude.

The rest of the Black and White are shown in the parking lot as Malone and Page arrive. Both guys come inside while Hogan and Bischoff talk trash. Page and Malone come in another door and bypass the NWO entirely, allowing them to sneak up on Hogan and Bischoff, chairs in hand. Hogan and Bischoff see them in the ring with Bischoff being thrown to the floor. Malone says bring it and we get an over minute long standoff. They lock up with Malone slamming Hogan down and clotheslining him a few times.

The rest of the NWO comes out with weapons in hand but Page has….a microphone. He says Hogan got slammed dunked, punk. Page gets all witty and calls Dennis Rodman Denise before challenging him for next week. Malone says size does matter at Bash at the Beach. I’d like to remind you that there are about five NWO guys with crowbars and chains just standing in the aisle while Page and Malone talk. They do the Diamond Cutter sign to end the show. I’ll give Malone this: he looked like he was having a blast out there.

Overall Rating: C+. This was a very different show but in a good way. First and foremost, while the basketball tag match was hyped a lot tonight, they toned it WAY down from last week. Last time they talked about the match every ten seconds or so, whereas this time was only every few minutes and for much shorter stretches of time. On top of that, there were some solid matches to go with the focus on storytelling. Tonight was mainly about building up the PPV and that’s something we had been needing for a good while. Nice show this week, even though things are going to be turned upside down soon.

 

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