Monday Nitro – July 6, 1998 (2013 Redo): The Biggest Nitro Ever

Monday Nitro #144
Date: July 6, 1998
Location: Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Georgia
Attendance: 41,412
Commentators: Mike Tenay, Bobby Heenan, Larry Zbyszko, Tony Schiavone

This is the night that changes a lot of things in WCW, which is why it’s been built up for a full four days. The main event tonight is the undefeated Goldberg challenging Hollywood Hogan for the world title in Goldberg’s hometown of Atlanta. On top of that it’s the go home show for Bash at the Beach, meaning the basketball players are here tonight as well. Let’s get to it.

We open with JJ announcing the main event from Thunder.

The Georgia Dome looks amazing with one of the biggest American crowds ever up to that point. Off the top of my head the only shows with higher attendance would be Wrestlemania III, the 1997 Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania VIII.

The Nitro Girls dance to get us going.

Tony and company intro the show with Larry talking about people crawling out of the slime and Goldberg being the epitome of evolution.

Here’s the Black and White with something to say. Bischoff talks about how this is another town that worships Hogan. Hollywood brags about how much the fans love him here and literally rolled out the red carpet for him. As for the business at hand, this Sunday he’s going to destroy Malone so badly that he never plays basketball again. That’s not his best insult ever.

Hogan moves on to Goldberg, who might have a few fans here tonight. The match however isn’t going to happen because Goldberg has only beaten a bunch of jabronis. That’s a fair point actually. Hogan will give Goldberg a chance though. He’s got an NWO man coming in tonight and if Goldberg can beat him tonight, Goldberg can have his title match later in the evening. The Goldberg chant cuts Hogan off but he says a quick catchphrase to end things.

WCW is giving away a NASCAR.

TV Title: Dean Malenko vs. Booker T

Booker is defending. Feeling out process to start with both guys connecting with shoulder blocks and drop toeholds to give us a stalemate. Booker grabs a belly to back suplex and goes up for the missile dropkick but only hits mat. The Cloverleaf is countered into a small package and we have another standoff. Dean takes him dow again and goes up top but dives into a spinebuster for two. Booker starts his finishing sequence but misses the side kick, sending both guys to the floor. Booker gets back in quickly but here’s Jericho to distract Malenko, allowing Booker to hit a quick ax kick to retain.

Rating: C+. This was entertaining for a match that didn’t even run four minutes. Dean vs. Jericho is going to be a huge eruption when it actually happens, assuming Jericho gets his head kicked in like he’s supposed to. Booker getting another win over a former champion is only good for his career as well.

Goldberg can do pushups.

Karl Malone is upset that Dennis Rodman isn’t here tonight but he’ll be there on Sunday for sure. This was ten seconds long and better than half the roster’s promos.

Raven vs. Kanyon

Kanyon jumps him in the aisle and takes out Lodi to get things going. Back in and a hiptoss gets two for Kanyon before they trade sleepers. Raven is sent to the floor and into the barricade as the announcers talk about Goldberg’s two matches tonight. Kanyon gets two off a fireman’s carry flapjack but Lodi crotches Kanyon on the top. Raven superplexes Kanyon down onto an open chair but here’s Saturn to attack Raven for the no contest. Short but entertaining stuff.

Saturn beats up the Flock post match and sets up a table. This would be better if the security wasn’t telling everyone to sit down. Raven is laid on the table between the ring and the barricade but Saturn’s splash off the top doesn’t break the table. That landing sounded sick. Kanyon lays out Saturn with something we couldn’t see but he might not have known who he was hitting.

Buff and Judy Bagwell arrive.

The fans think Goldberg will win.

Nitro Girls.

We get a clip from last week with Malone and Page arriving and scaring off the well armed NWO by blowing a horn, followed by Malone’s standoff with Hogan.

Here are Page and Malone with something to say. Page talks about how bad a week this is going to be for Scum Hogan, as he’s losing the title tonight and getting banged on Sunday. Malone, calling himself the Rodzilla Killa (I’ve heard worse) promises to whip Rodman like Madonna should have. Short again but it got the point across.

We get the same video of Mongo from Thunder, talking about reforming the Horsemen with comments from Mike Ditka.

Riggs vs. Scott Putski

Putski gets a quick one off a snap suplex but Riggs comes back with a clothesline and dropkick to take over. A tilt-a-whirl slam gets two for Putski as Tony talks about all the Goldberg highlights we’ll get tonight. Riggs hits a running knee in the corner to send Putski to the floor as Larry talks about Ivan Putski. Back in and a double clothesline puts both guys down. Putski comes back with right hands and the Polish Hammer (running ax handle to the chest, his dad’s move) gets no cover. Instead a sitout spinebuster gets the pin on Riggs.

Rating: C-. This was much more entertaining than I was expecting. Putski had a good look and some decent skills but he never went anywhere at all. Riggs looked decent out there as well with more offense than you usually see from him. To call this a nice surprise would be the understatement of the day.

Goldberg can headbutt a locker.

We see Goldberg’s first win over Hugh Morrus. That’s an introduction you very rarely see: an unknown coming in and getting an upset win. Why not use that again at some point?

We go to the parking lot where the Black and White gets out of a limo, complete with Scott Hall who is Goldberg’s first opponent tonight.

Here’s Jericho before his match to say that Malenko doesn’t deserve a Cruiserweight Title shot on Sunday. He talks about “Rey Mysterio” beating him on Thunder (a small guy in Mysterio attire whom Jericho allowed to pin him), meaning that Mysterio should get the title shot. This brings out JJ who says the title match with Dean is on for Sunday and will be No DQ. Cue a ticked off Malenko but JJ says if they fight before Sunday, the title match is off.

You know that’s enough for Jericho, who goes into a tirade of insults against Dean’s family. Malenko holds off, until Jericho implies that Dean’s brother Joe is the result of an affair. Dean goes OFF on Jericho, pounding him in the face as much as he can. JJ says the title match is off and Jericho can’t stop laughing. Either something happens on Sunday or this story is taking a very strange turn.

Chris Jericho vs. Ultimo Dragon

Non-title. Dragon grabs a headlock to start but has to nip up to escape a headscissors. A shoulder puts Jericho down for a second before he flips out of a backdrop. Some kicks put Jericho down and Dragon walks up his back for some insult. Jericho comes right back with a dropkick to the back of the head and the arrogant cover for two. Dragon snaps off some more kicks but here’s Dean for the DQ.

Malenko literally rips Jericho’s hair out as security pulls Malenko off and handcuff him.

More Nitro Girls in different outfits.

Chavo Guerrero Jr. vs. Johnny Swinger

Swinger cuts about as bland of a heel promo as you could ever imagine, talking about how everyone will know his name after this. Chavo comes to the ring in a hard hat to hide the missing hair that Eddie cut off. Naturally he can’t wear it in the match which drives Chavo even crazier. He freaks out and screams a lot which scares Swinger back into the corner. Chavo pounds on him a bit and hits a nice headscissors to put Swinger down. Johnny gets in a few shots to the ribs to take over and shouts his name a lot. Chavo comes back with a dropkick and the tornado DDT ends this in less than two minutes.

Goldberg’s 25th win was over Glacier.

Public Enemy vs. Alex Wright/Disco Inferno

What is with Public Enemy getting on every show lately? The dancers now have Tokyo Magnum as a dancer in training even though they don’t seem to want him around. Public Enemy brings two tables to the ring while wearing Braves jerseys to suck up to the crowd. The dancers are easily beaten down into the corners to start and Rocco powerslams Disco. Magnum distracts Grunge from the floor and after a stern lecture, Grunge gets kneed in the back by Wright to change momentum.

Alex gets two off a slingshot splash from the apron and it’s off to Disco for some dancing. He drops some elbows and a knee but the middle rope elbow misses completely. The not very hot tag brings in Rocco but his double noggin knocker is countered into a double hiptoss. That’s not exactly a house cleaning moment. Grunge comes back in with a double bulldog and it’s table time. The dancers leave the dancer in training to deal with this situation and Magnum is crushed between the tables, which is a DQ for some reason.

Rating: D. The fans stayed in the match for the most part but it was just a backdrop to set up the big table spot at the end. Magnum isn’t the worst choice in the world for a fall guy for the dancers because fans like seeing annoying characters get beaten up. That’s more reason than we have to care about most of the other Dragon Gate guys at least.

Post match the dancers come back with trashcans to beat up Public Enemy.

Here’s Buff Bagwell in a wheelchair, pushed by his mom. He comes out to the NWO music but asks to have the music cut off. Buff talks about how much he loves Atlanta and talks about how much the fans mean to him before saying he and Scott Steiner need to go their separate ways. You can feel the heel turning coming from here.

Goldberg’s 50th win was over Rick Fuller, another guy who had potential on his look alone.

Hour #3 begins.

US Title: Goldberg vs. Scott Hall

This is Goldberg’s qualifying match for the main event already set by JJ because Hogan can just make matches like that. This is Hall’s first match on Nitro in about three months. Goldberg shoves him down to start and Hall isn’t sure what to make of him. Hall drives in the shoulder blocks but Goldberg shrugs them off and takes Hall down with ease. Goldberg casually puts his hands on his hips and waits for Hall to bring it. Scott hits some HARD chops but they botch an Irish whip as Goldberg was too close to Hall for whatever they were supposed to do, causing them to collide in an ugly crash.

Back up and Goldberg blocks a slam and throws Hall down again. The crowd is losing their minds over this stuff and Goldberg has barely broken a sweat so far. Hall spits at him and avoids a charge in the corner before getting two off a belly to back suplex. Goldberg is actually in trouble here as Hall kicks him in the head a few times. Goldberg no sells some punches and armdrags Scott down a few times.

Hall calls out the Black and White B-Team plus Hennig but Page and Malone take them down with chairs in the aisle. The distraction lets Hall snap Goldberg’s throat across the top rope and score with a solid clothesline. The Outsider’s Edge is easily countered with a backdrop and a spear and the Jackhammer set up the main event.

Rating: C-. The match wasn’t anything to see from a technical standpoint but the idea was good. Hogan made a good point earlier about Goldberg never beating anyone of note so a win over a big name like Hall was a good boost heading into later tonight. On top of that it makes the main event look even better for Goldberg as he’s coming in less than 100%. Imagine that: thinking in a WCW story.

More Nitro Girls, this time on the announcers’ desk.

Psychosis vs. Juventud Guerrera

Juvy misses a dropkick in the corner but still gets his feet up to stop a charging Psychosis. Some elbows to the face get Psychosis nowhere and Juvy chops away to set up a hurricanrana. A top rope hurricanrana sends Psychosis to the floor and Air Juvy takes him down again. Back in and Psychosis catapults Juvy over the top rope and out to the floor, allowing Psychosis to hit a nice dive of his own. Back in and Juvy kicks out at two before putting on the Juvy Driver, followed by a 450 for the pin on Psychosis.

Rating: C. This was fun but they didn’t have time to go anywhere with it. It didn’t help that they were in the death slot after Goldberg and the fans were all drooling over the upcoming main event. Still though, some nice dives and hurricanranas made this a very nice breather and a fun match.

Post match the Flock runs in to beat up Juvy, setting up Guerrera vs. Reese II on Sunday.

Goldberg’s 75th win got him the US Title from Raven. I still feel bad for Raven for getting 24 hours with the belt. I understand wanting to get it on Goldberg but I would have liked Raven to have it longer.

LONG video hyping up the NBA match. Thankfully they’ve toned the hype for that way down in the last two weeks. That one show was unbearable.

The Giant vs. Jim Duggan

If you’ve seen this match once, you’ve seen it a dozen times. Duggan pounds away in the corner to some effect but tries a slam because he’s not that bright. Giant slams him down but misses his big elbow. Duggan’s three point clothesline actually connects but Giant just raises his fist to block the knee drop. Chokeslam and we’re done in a hurry.

Post match Giant calls Kevin Greene a coward. Luckily Greene is here and clotheslines Giant out of the ring, showing more fire than almost anyone else tonight.

Diamond Dallas Page vs. Jim Neidhart

Malone and his incredibly long arms are in Page’s corner. Neidhart powers him into the corner to start and chokes away on the mat. Page comes back and throws him in as well for some knees to the ribs. Jim goes right for the bad ribs and slams Page’s back onto the mat by his hair. Neidhart hooks a full nelson but gets kicked low, setting up the Diamond Cutter for the win.

Goldberg’s 100th win was over Konnan a few weeks earlier.

Sting/Lex Luger vs. Kidman/Sick Boy

Nash and Konnan are in Sting and Luger’s corner, which again makes me ask why Nash is Sting’s partner in the first place. They’ve teamed together once since becoming champions while Sting and Luger have partnered up three times now. The Wolfpack does their catchphrases before the Flock comes out. Match: Sting beats both guys up for ten seconds, double Stinger Splash, Death Drop to Kidman and the Rack to Sick Boy, done in less than thirty seconds.

And now it’s time.

WCW World Title: Hollywood Hogan vs. Goldberg

Goldberg’s pop is still big but it’s a slight step behind what it was earlier tonight. They loudly pop for the bell though and Heenan is already losing his mind for the match. Goldberg grabs a headlock to start and Hogan screams NO NO NO. A shoulder puts the champion down and the fans are making up for the slightly quieter pop on the entrance. Goldberg takes him down on a test of strength and the place is coming unglued.

Hogan comes back with some solid right hands and the weightlifting belt to the back but Goldberg easily takes it out of Hogan’s hands. He throws it to the mat and says bring it. A low blow slows Goldberg down and a clothesline drops him again. Hogan chokes a lot but misses some elbows, allowing Goldberg to hit a clothesline, knocking Hollywood outside. With the weightlifting belt back on, Hogan gets back in and shoves Goldberg outside one more time. Some chairs to the back have Goldberg in trouble and we hit the ring again.

A slam sets up a pair of legdrops (literally not mentioned at all by the announcers) as Curt Hennig comes to the ring. Tenay finally mentions the legdrops as Hogan hits what sounds like a third (camera was on Hennig) for two. Malone comes out and Diamond Cuts Hennig on the floor, allowing Goldberg to spear Hogan down. The fans literally rise up as Goldberg Jackhammers Hogan for the pin and the title. Heenan goes NUTS in the most passionate speech you’ll hear him give this side of a Flair promo.

Rating: B. This is a hard one to grade because the match wasn’t anything special from a wrestling perspective. What it was though was exactly what it should have been. Goldberg took a beating but came back and destroyed Hogan for the 100% clean pin. Hogan put him over completely clean here and it felt like a new star was made. That’s exactly what was supposed to happen here and the fans got what they were hoping for with no shenanigans. This is what Sting vs. Hogan should have been at Starrcade.

Goldberg celebrates by holding up both titles for several minutes to end the show.

Overall Rating: B. Shows like these are what frustrate me more than anything about WCW. This was proof that if they were trying, they could put on some very entertaining shows that accomplished everything they were supposed to accomplish. The focus was entirely on Goldberg tonight and that part worked to perfection. On top of that however this was a solid go home show which built up Bash at the Beach rather well.

Another thing to note here is this show kept moving. They didn’t let anything stay on too long (other than Goldberg the longest match was Public Enemy at just over 5:00) and the show felt fun throughout. That’s what’s so frustrating about this show. Imagine if this had been on pay per view with some other major matches and time to build. It would have been one of WCW’s best shows ever and a real comeback against the WWF. As it is it’s just a really fun TV show, meaning it doesn’t have the long term impact it needed to. That’s one of the major reasons WCW lost the war: being so short sighted. Still though, great fun here.

 

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