Monday Nitro – July 20, 1998: Bret Hart Actually Does Something!

Monday Nitro #146
Date: July 20, 1998
Location: E-Center, Salt Lake City, Utah
Commentators: Mike Tenay, Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan, Larry Zbyszko

There isn’t much of a main story at the moment other than the Wolfpack is done feuding with comedy heels and is going after the Black and White again. We’re moving closer to Road Wild but the show hasn’t even been mentioned yet. It would appear that we’ll be getting Hogan vs. Page and Goldberg vs. Hennig, even though we already saw that match. Let’s get to it.

We open with a recap of Hall attacking Nash during the big brawl with the NWOs.

Opening sequence.

Nitro Girls.

Here’s Hall to get things going. There’s no point for a survey tonight because Salt Lake City is here to see the NWO. The fans don’t seem to agree but Hall ignores them and goes into a Gilligan’s Island metaphor. Apparently Hall is tired of laying on the top bunk and doing all the work while Skipper Nash lays on his back. Nash can’t lead the Wolfpack since he isn’t even a man, unlike Hogan. A Too Sweet takes us out.

Tonight it’s going to be Hart vs. Page for the vacant US Title, even though Hart hasn’t exactly beaten anyone of note in WCW.

We go back to Nitro last week for a look at all the Black and White drama, from Hogan challenging Hall to the match itself to Page running in and getting beaten down to the Nash stuff.

Stevie Ray vs. Johnny Boone

Boone is a jobber who would become a referee. Stevie doesn’t have the belt tonight because he left it with Booker and his attorney. Total squash with Ray kicking Boone around like the jobber that he is. Cue Chavo Guerrero with his Lone Ranger mask and the TV Title as Stevie Slap Jacks Boone for the pin.

We look back at Hogan shoving Bagwell out of the wheelchair last week.

Back from a break and we get an extended version of Hogan and Bagwell.

Here’s Rick Steiner to talk about what happened to Bagwell last week. When Gene says talk about Bagwell, Rick goes into a challenge to Scott Steiner for Road Wild. Here’s Buff in a wheelchair and Rick immediately apologizes for what happened last week. Rick apologizes for Bagwell’s injury and says there was no bad intent at all.

Bagwell says he was mad at Rick to begin with but the injury has changed him. He loves every single fan and forgives Rick for what happened. They hug but here’s Scott Steiner with a chair to Rick’s back. Buff pops up and takes the chair to blast Rick as well. He takes off the neck brace and his shirt, revealing a Black and White shirt. Buff is another guy that could have been a big deal with his look and story with the injury but they just threw him back into the NWO to get lost in the shuffle.

Back from a break with more talking but at least it’s Jericho. He talks about the mental anguish he’s suffered at Malenko’s hands, such as being attacked and tormented over the memory of his dead father (who appeared on Thunder a few weeks before). Jericho offers Dean a title shot next week, but it’s Malenko’s last shot. If he loses, Dean can just go back to Harry’s Burgers in Tampa and give up on wrestling.

Hall pops up at the announce table and throws a toothpick in Larry’s face. He talks about hanging with Hollywood and learning a lot about the movies. Hall doesn’t want to see Nash’s performance in the sequel to Terms of Endearment, referring to the sitdown interview with Tenay that we saw on Thunder.

We see a parking spot out back labeled “star of the show” but the car in front of it is wrecked with with windows all cracked and shattered.

Steve McMichael vs. Sick Boy

Hey look a match. Tony tells us that the wrecked car is a reference to Jay Leno, who always drives a different car to the Tonight Show. Tony: “That’s all it could be.” Lodi and Sick Boy jump Mongo on the floor and a clothesline gets two for Sick Boy. Mongo comes right back with a three point clothesline and the tombstone for the pin in about a minute.

We look back at Arn Anderson telling Malenko to let the Horsemen be over from Thunder.

Nitro Party winner.

Time for Bischoff’s talk show, which is now called NWO Night Cap. The bandleader intros the show again and at least Liz looks good in a leather dress. Bischoff has a full set now which looks a lot like the Tonight Show set. The entrances take nearly two minutes before Bischoff makes some bad jokes about the heat wave, stomach ailments, Secret Service testimony, the Monica Lewinsky scandal and chickens.

These are all accompanied by Eric complimenting himself and the band laughing hysterically. Tony FREAKS OUT because apparently these jokes are ripped off from the Tonight Show. Eric makes fun of Leno’s chin and talks about Leno being a disgrace to bikers. This ate up seven and a half minutes.

Hour #2 begins. To recap, WCW used their unopposed hour for three and a half minutes of wrestling, about ten minutes of recaps, a challenge for a Cruiserweight Title match, and Bischoff’s talk show.

We see Nash’s sitdown interview from Thunder. The tape cuts out in the middle and we cut to the production truck with Hall leaving. Nash walks up and a fight breaks out. They head outside but the Black and White comes out of a trailer to beat Nash down. The Wolfpack runs in to help and the huge brawl is on. Enough of that though as we need to go back to the announcers.

Hart shows up at the announcers’ table and wants Page right now. We cut to the back where Konnan is screaming for help and standing over Page’s writhing body. The trainer comes to check on Page as Bret heads to the ring. JJ Dillon comes out as well and says the match will have to be later.

Yuji Nagata vs. Saturn

Saturn takes him over with a quick northern lights suplex for two followed by a quickly broken armbar. Some kicks in the corner drop Nagata but he comes right back with a release northern lights suplex. Yuji goes after the leg, only to get caught in a German suplex. We’ve had a tag title match made for later: Nash/Sting defending against Giant/Hall. Nagata misses a running knee in the corner and gets suplexed down for two. Sonny Onoo gets on the apron as Raven runs in with the Even Flow to Saturn, allowing Nagata to put on the Nagata Lock for the pin since Saturn can’t tap out.

Rating: D. This was just there to announce the tag match and announce the tag title match. Nagata continues to be one of the least interesting guys you’ll see in this company throughout its entire run so thankfully this is his last appearance with the company. He just never gave us a reason to care about him in the year or so he was around.

Post match the Flock comes in to lay out the Flock until Kanyon makes the save. Kidman gets a sick looking middle rope piledriver. Saturn gets up and hits a Death Valley Driver on Kanyon for his unwanted help.

We look at Bret costing Rick Martel a match last week and attacking Mysterio and Guerrera on Thunder.

Nitro Girls.

Heenan is on commentary now.

Tag Titles: Giant/Scott Hall vs. Sting/Kevin Nash

Nash and Sting are defending. The Outsiders get us going as Tony talks about Jay Leno. Hall backs into the corner and tags in Giant for the big lockup with Giant sending Nash into the corner for a clothesline. Nash pounds back on Giant and everything breaks down with the Wolfpack quickly cleaning house. Back in and Sting clotheslines Hall down as we take a break.

We come back to see Giant on the floor before coming in for a tag from Hall. Giant gets in Sting’s face but gets slapped, enraging him enough that he misses a charge into the corner. A Stinger Splash hits a boot though and Giant takes over again. Giant can’t hit a clothesline but Sting’s cross body literally bounces off the big man. Back to Hall for some right hands and a two count followed by an abdominal stretch. The Black and White finally gets caught cheating, which doesn’t change anything but Sting hiptosses out of the hold anyway.

A hot tag brings in Nash to clean house for real and finally get his hands on Hall. Scott escapes Snake Eyes but gets his head kicked off as everything breaks down again. Sting hits Giant low and bulldogs him down before getting the hot tag from Nash. Hall is almost in the Scorpion but here’s Bret Hart to break it up. The distraction lets Scott hit the Outsider’s Edge for the pin and the titles.

Rating: C-. The match was nothing of note but at least Bret is FINALLY doing something. The bad thing to come out of this though is we get to deal with the Leno promotion. It’s going to dominate the next few weeks of commentary but there’s nothing that can be done about it. Nash and Sting losing the titles is a good thing though as they never made sense as champions in the first place.

The announcers recap the show so far. Tony: “I think Diamond Dallas Page was attacked by Bret Hart.” Insert your own joke about stating the obvious. We get a clip of the events from earlier.

Alex Wright/Disco Inferno vs. Masahiro Chono/Great Muta

Tony makes up for the obvious statement earlier by calling Wright and Disco the Dancing Dodos. Wright gets jumped from behind to start but comes back with a spinwheel kick to take Chono down. Disco comes in and stomps him in the corner, only to walk into the Mafia Kick. Off to Muta for some strikes to the face but he gets caught in a swinging neckbreaker for two. Muta comes right back with the dragon screw leg whip and a leg bar for the submission on Disco.

Post match Scott Norton comes out to destroy the dancers even more.

Hour #3 begins.

The Nitro Girls dance but the trainer comes out and takes Kimberly away due to something in the back.

Tokyo Magnum vs. Ultimo Dragon

Tokyo, usually the dancing idiot, comes out to traditional slow Japanese style music. Dragon jumps him to start and takes Magnum into the corner for the rapid fire kicks. The announcers talk about how the teacher is beating up the student as he kicks Magnum in the back. Magnum slams him off the top but dives into a dropkick, setting up a brainbuster and the Dragon Sleeper. Basically a squash in Dragon’s last WCW match.

We look at the ending to the tag title match which shows Bret telling Sting that the Scorpion is his hold.

Jim Powers vs. Scott Norton

Norton drives him into the corner to start and powerslams Jim down for no cover. He chokes Powers in the corner, misses a charge, catches Jim in a Samoan drop and powerbombs him down for the pin.

Video on Hogan’s evil deeds since he joined the NWO.

Here’s the Black and White en masse with something to say. Hogan brags about the new tag team champions and asks for a round of applause for their victory. He also admires the dedication of Scott Steiner and Buff Bagwell as they help in the NWO conquering wrestling. That brings him to Goldberg….but first let’s praise Muta and Chono. Instead of talking about the world title, Hogan talks about Bischoff being the funniest man in television and how Eric is going to take over late night. Bret is going to take the US Title tonight and Page will know how awesome Hogan is and that’s about it.

We look back at the end of the tag match main event of Thunder where Hennig and Hall beat DDP and Konnan. Apparently this is supposed to make us care about the next match.

Eddie Guerrero vs. Konnan

Konnan has Antoine Carr of the Utah Jazz with him. Eddie takes him down to start and the fans think he sucks. Konnan comes right back by LAUNCHING Eddie into the air for a huge crash. A gorilla press slam has about the same result so Eddie goes to the floor to yell at Carr. Back in and they run the ropes a few times until Konnan monkey flips him into the ropes for two. An X-Factor gets the same on Eddie as this is one sided so far. Cue Chavo dressed like Konnan and shouting his catchphrases with the distraction allowing Eddie to suplex Konnan down. Eddie grabs Chavo’s stick horse and that’s a DQ despite a lack of contact.

Rating: D+. This was more of an angle than a match but Eddie’s insane height on the throws makes up for it. Chavo vs. Eddie doesn’t seem to have an end in sight and that could become an issue soon. I’m not sure where they can go with it now but it’s not a problem yet.

Lex Luger vs. Curt Hennig

Luger shoves him into the corner and pops the pecs a bit. Hennig has already lasted longer than last week so we’re on the right track. A hip toss sends Hennig out to the floor but he snaps Luger throat first across the rope to take over. Hennig goes after the ribs to keep Luger in trouble and snaps the neck for two. Some choking on the ropes leads to a sleeper on Luger to put Lex down. A belly to back suplex breaks the hold and Luger hits his atomic drops and clotheslines. The referee gets bumped in the corner but Rude comes in and gets a Rack. The distraction lets Curt hit the PerfectPlex for the pin (with Rude holding the foot).

Rating: D+. Total paint by numbers match here which doesn’t really accomplish anything. The Wolfpack civil war doesn’t do anything for me anymore as it just keeps going without actually having an end in sight. That’s the mantra for all of WCW at this point: there’s no idea to this but it fills in time.

US Title: Bret Hart vs. Diamond Dallas Page

The title is vacant coming in. There’s no DDP to start though as we’re running out of time. After a few moments, here’s a very bandaged Page with no music and a bad limp to try to make this work. Bret goes right after the bad leg to take Page down before working over the bad ribs. The Russian legsweep takes Page down and there’s the Sharpshooter but Page is right next to the rope. A second attempt goes on and Page gives up to give Hart the title. This wasn’t a match.

Page is taken out on a stretcher as the NWO comes to the ring to celebrate to end the show.

Overall Rating: D. This show is a good example of what’s wrong with WCW around this time. Where were Goldberg and the world title? Who is the next challenger for the belt? I have no idea, because none of that matters when Hollywood Hogan has something going on. That’s what happened when Sting won the title and it’s happening again here. It’s just them going from one Hogan story to another as he fights celebrity after celebrity. That might have made them some money in the short term but it’s speeding towards a cliff in the long term.

 

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