Monday Nitro #153
Date: September 7, 1998
Location: Pensecola Civic Center, Pensecola, Florida
Commentators: Tony Schiavone, Larry Zbyszko, Bobby Heenan, Mike Tenay
It’s the go home show for Nitro and the main story is of course the Warrior taking out the NWO with his sleeping gas that doesn’t work on either himself or Hogan. The big story coming into tonight is Page giving his answer to the Wolfpack who gave him until tonight to decide about joining. The main event for tonight is Dean Malenko vs. Curt Hennig in a cage, which is a pretty smart idea actually. “You think this is awesome? This Sunday it’s twice as much carnage!” Let’s get to it.
As a side note: Nitro turns 3 years old with this show. It’s hard to believe it was only on that long at this point.
We open with the NWO freaking out in Hogan’s locker room due to Warrior graffiti everywhere. Vincent runs in to get Hogan and says someone has been taken away in an ambulance. There was a lot of confusion but it might have been Scott Norton and/or Brian Adams. Hogan and the NWO storm out to the ring to search for Warrior with Bischoff demanding that Warrior come out. Hollywood rants about Warrior staining his dressing room and injuring Norton and Adams. He’s as sick as Warrior as he is Hart, so Hart is off the WarGames team and Giant is on.
Konnan vs. Bull Pain
Feeling out process to start until Konnan sends him into the corner and takes Pain down with a rolling clothesline. Pain rakes the eyes to come back and sends Konnan outside for a clothesline off the apron. Back in and Pain hits something like a frog splash for two but misses a middle rope elbow. Konnan makes a very quick comeback with the X Factor to set up the Tequila Sunrise for the win. Pain didn’t look bad at all.
Announcers talk for a bit.
JJ Dillon says Hart is still in WarGames instead of Giant. Glad to see they resolved that story inside of fifteen minutes.
Gene brings out DDP for a chat. He’s ready for WarGames, where he’ll take care of Hollywood SCUM Hogan. That brings him to the Wolfpack, which asked him to join last week. The Black and White offered him a spot a year ago and he made them feel the Bang. Now the Wolfpack seems like they’re threatening him and that’s not cool with Page. He doesn’t trust the Wolfpack so his answer is no.
This brings out Nash to thank Page for the history lesson. If Page isn’t part of his team at WarGames, he’s their target on Sunday. Page says he can’t trust Nash and can’t see how Luger or Sting can either. Those two hit the ring with Luger saying he and Sting were as close to WCW as anyone but they came on board.
He wants to know where Page stands, but Page says the same thing he said earlier: Nash would turn on either of them at the drop of a hat. Sting says Nash has powerbombed him a few times now but he still trusts him. Sting has also bailed Page out time after time but if Page isn’t interested, go get Piper and we’ll have a tag match. The Wolfpack leaves and Page says he wants Nash on that team.
Back with even more talking as Gene brings out Roddy Piper. He says he isn’t Page’s midget, lapdog or wife. Piper doesn’t like ultimatums and the teams mean nothing on Sunday. If he and Page are the last two guys standing, of course they’re going to fight each other. He’ll team with Page tonight though.
Video on the Nitro Girls. Nothing wrong with that.
Lenny Lane vs. Wrath
Wrath throws him around with ease to start and fires off kicks in the corner. A HUGE beal sends Lane flying across the ring and a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker puts him down again. Lane tries a sleeper but is thrown down and flipped upside down off a shoulder block. Meltdown ends this fast.
Disciple is found hanging upside down in the NWO locker room.
Here’s Bret with something of his own to say. Before he can get anything out though, we get NWO music and here are Vincent, Hennig and Stevie Ray. However Sting runs out to chase the three of them off before anything can be said. Sting hands Bret the bat and turns his back on him but Bret drops the bat.
Hour #2 begins.
We look at Scott Steiner turning on his brother from seven months ago, even though we haven’t seen them fight yet. There are some cool old school clips of the Steiners being the best tag team in the world back in the early 90s.
Evan Karagias vs. Scott Steiner
Have a good Cruiserweight Title match, get squashed by Steiner next week. Makes sense. Buff comes in to commentary before Scott grabs the mic and takes credit for all of the Steiner Brothers’ success. Steiner pounds him down to start and talks trash on the mic at the beginning. A gorilla pres drop puts Evan down and a double underhook powerbomb sets up the Steiner Recliner for the win. Another match too short to rate.
Nitro Girls and Nitro Party winner.
Cruiserweight Title: Juventud Guerrera vs. Hector Garza
This is Garza’s return after knee surgery and he’s challenging. Garza takes over with a quick backdrop and some chops against the ropes but Juvy avoids a splash in the corner. The announcers ignore the match to talk about the NWO parody of the Horsemen from a year ago in this building as Juvy dives to the floor and drives Garza into the barricade. They head back inside where Hector dropkicks Juvy out of the air for two.
A nice spinebuster gets the same before it’s off to a Boston Crab with Hector lifting Juvy off the mat by his arms and rocking him back and forth. La Majistral gets two for Hector and he grabs a double underhook but pulls back on Juvy’s arms for a submission attempt. That goes nowhere so he just throws Juvy into the air and lets him crash. A dropkick to the back puts Guerrera down but he jumps to the apron and hits a quick missile dropkick for two. Garza blocks the top rope hurricanrana and hits a wicked powerbomb for two. A Lionsault minus the running start only hits mat though and the Juvy Driver retains the title.
Rating: C. This was fine. Garza was wrestling a different style than most luchadors here but he looked decent in his first match back after a knee surgery. Juvy continues to look awesome and he’s well deserving of the title. I like him having these title defenses every week as it makes whoever beats him look even better.
Hennig and Rude come out to talk about the Horsemen. Curt says he slammed the door on the Horsemen a year ago and calls Arn Anderson a coward. Rude says the Horsemen were riding high fifteen years ago (not quite) but now they’ve been put out to pasture. As for Malenko tonight, Curt says Dean is just being a horse’s ask Rick Rude about it.
Kenny Kaos vs. The Cat
Miller is slapping hands now despite being a heel for weeks. He dances around to start before stomping on Kaos’ foot and sweeping the leg to take over. Kaos gets annoyed and kicks him in the ribs, only to have his eyes raked. Miller throws him to the floor but Kenny comes back in with a springboard clothesline and puts on something like an abdominal stretch on the mat. Miller fights back but gets caught in a barely swinging neckbreaker, only to come back with the Feliner (Trouble in Paradise) for the pin.
Rating: N/A. The match ran 3:03 and about 40 seconds of that were spent on Miller posing. The guy just isn’t interesting at all and it’s getting annoying having to sit through him every week. Kaos was another jobber of the week for him here but I have no idea who thinks Miller is going to get over doing the same stuff he’s always done.
Miller issues an open challenge and no one comes out.
Stevie Ray vs. Chris Adams
Adams has some awesome trumpet music now. Stevie’s eyes are bugging out and it’s rather bizarre looking. Chris goes right at him to start but Stevie shoves him out of the corner, allowing Vincent to get in some cheap shots of his own. The fans chant for Booker T as Stevie slowly pounds Adams and puts on a nerve hold.
A knee to the face puts Adams down again but he avoids a charge in the corner and scores with a belly to back suplex. An enziguri staggers Stevie for a bit and a middle rope clothesline looks to finish but a Vincent distraction stops Chris cold. Stevie superkicks him down and hits the Slap Jack (Pedigree) for the DX Special and the pin.
Rating: D. Nothing to see here as usual. It’s a bad sign when the jobber’s music is the best part of a match. I still don’t get why Stevie Ray was given this spot but he’s not terrible in the role. It gives him something to do, but to go from the less interesting half of a tag team to a PPV main event in a few months is a jump for anyone, let alone Stevie Ray.
Another Nitro Girls video, this time with each Girl having her name listed.
Riggs vs. Kanyon
That’s a very strange pairing which is why something is up. Raven orders Lodi to make Saturn face Riggs instead of Kanyon, saying it’s about honor Army Boy. Riggs takes over early with a dropkick and a shoulder in the corner. Raven talks a lot of trash as Lodi tells Saturn to fight back. Saturn has had no offense yet. A standing clothesline puts Saturn down again and a running forearm does the same.
The fans think Lodi sucks as Saturn ducks a right hand and kicks Riggs in the face. Saturn keeps the momentum going with a t-bone suplex and some chops in the corner before throwing Riggs out to the floor. Riggs is thrown into the steps and barricade before the Death Valley Driver is good for the pin.
Rating: D+. More angle advancement here in the best story in WCW at this point. Riggs could have been any member of the Flock but it helped that he’s arguably the best known out of all the lackeys. Saturn is getting a great rub out of this and the story is helping make him a bigger deal. It never ceases to amaze me how simple that is yet it hardly ever happens.
Post match Raven wants to test Saturn’s honor, so he has Lodi order Saturn to break Riggs’ fingers. Saturn says there’s no honor in that so he’s given another option: break Riggs’ fingers or let Raven break Saturn’s. Saturn holds up his hand and Raven snaps at least two of them, leaving Saturn writhing around in pain though he refuses help from the trainer. The match is going to be awesome.
Hour #3 begins with more Nitro Girls.
TV Title: Chris Jericho vs. Jim Neidhart
This isn’t even the strangest challenger of the night. Jericho says he definitely is the Walrus. “Goo goo ga choo.” Neidhart quickly sends him outside and shrugs off a shoulder block back inside. Jericho is thrown into the air and crashes back down to the mat as this is one sided so far. Chris comes back with a dropkick and its springboard cousin sends Neidhart to the floor. Neidhart is sent into the barricade and back inside for a kick to the face and a two count.
Jim comes back with some hard whips into the corner but is leveraged to the floor. Jericho’s plancha is caught in midair and Jim rams him back first into the post to take over again. Back in and Neidhart misses a middle rope splash, setting up a very strange finish. Jericho tries the Walls, but Neidhart won’t let the hold go on full. Jericho eventually gets him turned but Neidhart keeps fighting as the referee calls for the bell, saying Jim is out, even though he’s clearly crawling for the rope. The bell doesn’t ring the first two times the referee asks for the bell which makes it even stranger. Both guys look confused.
Rating: D+. The match was decent for a power vs. speed match despite the strange ending. There was either some miscommunication or they were running short on time but whatever they were trying didn’t work. I’m not sure if the two things are connected or not, but this was Neidhart’s last match on Nitro as he would be gone before the end of the month.
Here’s Eddie Guerrero to say there’s nothing he enjoys more than wrestling in WCW because Eric Bischoff won’t let him go wrestle anywhere else. Last week he hurt his back in the Brian Adams match, so he can’t wrestle until he has an MRI. Eddie’s contract says that if he gets hurt, it’s Bischoff who is responsible. Therefore, to keep lawyers out of the situation, he’s taking the night off. Eddie was in a shirt with a picture of a pencil crossed out to reference Eric bragging about how much power he has with his pen.
The cage is lowered.
Curt Hennig vs. Dean Malenko
There’s a top on the cage too. Hennig jumps Dean to start and fires off chops and kicks to Ice Man. There’s a referee in the ring and Tony implies you can’t win by escape. Dean comes back with a leg lariat but Hennig jumps up and grabs the roof, only to be pulled back down in a big crash. Hennig avoids a charge in the corner and Dean rams his shoulder and head into the steel to change control again.
Curt goes after the shoulder as Rude is seen trying to pick the lock. The shoulder is sent into the buckle for two and Hennig rams him head first into the cage. Malenko comes back with kicks out of the corner but Curt gets in a shot to the ribs to put him down again. Hennig wants Dean to give up and wave at his Horsemen buddies. Another ram into the cage gets two as Dean is in trouble.
Hennig keeps showing psychology by going to a cross armbreaker. Dean rolls on top of him to break the pressure, only to be sent into the cage again. Malenko finally gets a double leg and catapults Curt into the cage as the fans go NUTS. Dean sends him into the cage again but Hennig gets the rope to block the Cloverleaf. Curt tries a slam but the referee gets bumped, only to have Dean dropkick Hennig into the cage and grab the Cloverleaf. Hennig taps out but cue the NWO with Bischoff unlocking the cage and letting Rude and Stevie Ray lay out Malenko for a DQ. In a cage match?
Rating: B-. Let Malenko make a comeback and win with the Cloverleaf here and it’s a sleeper classic. I’ll give credit to WCW: they managed to book a DQ with an NWO run-in in a cage match. That takes talent. The thing to notice here though was the crowd’s reaction. They were behind Malenko here and wanted to see tradition win the war against the jerks that wants to kill it. WCW just didn’t want to believe that and never went with it.
Curt loads up the door slam on Malenko’s head as the fans chant for Goldberg. They get someone a little bit better though. ARN ANDERSON hits the ring and cleans house, throwing Stevie into the cage and daring the NWO to come inside the cage and fight him. Malenko and Anderson share a look of respect and saying Anderson has his back. Absolutely awesome moment here with Arn having a very intense look on his face for the first time in too long.
WCW World Title: Goldberg vs. Scott Putski
Thankfully the match is over before fans realize that SCOTT PUTSKI might be going into Fall Brawl as world champion. Yeah Fall Brawl: the second straight PPV where Goldberg isn’t defending the world title.
Nitro Girls again.
Lex Luger/Sting vs. Diamond Dallas Page/Roddy Piper
I guess Nash was busy combing his hair. Piper and Page get in an argument over who is going to start until it’s Page vs. Luger. They circle each other for a bit until Piper tags himself in and goes off on Luger, stomping him down onto the ropes. They head outside for a whip into the barricade and more stompings by Piper. He shouts to Page that it’s war before tagging DDP in for a belly to back suplex and a two count.
Lex comes back with the running forearm and it’s off to Sting to speed things up. A jumping DDT puts Page down again but he comes right back with a running DDT of his own. Everything breaks down and a double clothesline puts Sting and Page down. Cue Nash to post Piper and Jackknife Page for the DQ.
Rating: D. This was barely a match and just a primer for the show on Sunday. Piper was energetic but it doesn’t help that it’s nearly 1999 and Roddy Piper is in a match for a future world title shot on PPV. He was right about the team stuff though and ruined the entire premise in one line earlier tonight. To be fair it wasn’t a good premise in the first place but he did indeed ruin it.
Here are Hogan and Giant to close the show. Hollywood, while grabbing a chair, says he knows the rules now and if Warrior still wants a piece he’ll have to go through the Giant. First though, let’s lower the cage to surround the NWO and let Warrior walk right through the door. Hogan goes on a rant about Goldberg as the smoke fills the ring. The smoke clears, Hogan is coughing, Giant is out, and Warrior is sitting in a chair inside the cage.
Ever the genius, Warrior circles Hogan, who has a chair in hand by the way, for a minute and a half before taking off his jacket. He misses his chair shot and Hogan gets in one of his own to no effect. Bischoff comes out and unlocks the cage to let Hogan out as Warrior gets to stand tall with the smoke filling the ring again. Warrior is gone and Hogan/Bischoff are terrified to end the show.
Overall Rating: D+. This show was so frustrating. There were so many good things on the show like the Horsemen, the Flock and Jericho, but then we get The Amazing Warrior and his magic act. It’s stupid when Undertaker does this stuff but at least he’s a character with a supernatural side to him. With Warrior, it comes off as Hogan and Bischoff looking like morons who are scared of their own shadows.
There are a lot of good things going on right now and almost all of them are completely isolated from the main event scene. Hogan seems to be running a circus in the main events anymore while Goldberg is stuck beating up guys like Al Green and Scott Putski. You couldn’t throw in a title match against Giant for Sunday?
A quick look at the card for Fall Brawl shows me that we have Jim Neidhart/British Bulldog vs. Disco Inferno/Alex Wright and Ernest Miller vs. Norman Smiley in matches that combine for over sixteen minutes. There’s room for that but not for the WORLD CHAMPION who is the hottest act in the company? It couldn’t be that Hogan was jealous and holding him off or anything so he could soothe his ego from a match that no one has thought of in years could it? This promotion is so frustrating and it’s only going to get worse as time goes on.
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