Monday Nitro – November 23, 1998: The Dean Malenko Showcase

Monday Nitro #164
Date: November 23, 1998
Location: Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, Michigan
Commentators: Mike Tenay, Tony Schiavone, Larry Zbyszko, Bobby Heenan

We’re on the road to Starrcade now with a main event of Kevin Nash challenging Goldberg for the World Title. The other main story coming out of last night was Hogan not appearing in the big battle royal for reasons that weren’t explained. Other than that we didn’t get the two big midcard matches we were promised because this is WCW and giving us angles instead of delivering advertised matches is a great idea. Let’s get to it.

The announcers talk about the battle royal last night and tell us to tune in to the Tonight Show on Thursday to see why Hogan wasn’t in the battle royal.

We get some stills of the battle royal as well.

Lex Luger vs. Mike Enos

They circle each other for a bit to start until Luger runs him over with a shoulder block. A headlock sends Enos to the floor as the announcers talk about everything other than the match. Back in and Mike drops him throat first across the top rope and nails a piledriver for two. We hit the chinlock on Luger followed by a nice powerslam for two more. Back up and Mike can’t hit a superplex, allowing Luger to hit a top rope clothesline and a superplex of his own. A powerslam sets up the Rack for the submission from Enos.

Rating: C-. Enos didn’t look all that bad here and Luger was actually doing more than just the usual for a change. It’s still not all that entertaining but it was better than a lot of the dull matches with guys like these two on Nitro. I’d still like the Wolfpack to actually do something of note instead of just having random matches of no consequence.

Goldberg shows up in a limo, followed by the Wolfpack in their limo. Konnan tells Nash that he’s next but Goldberg says that’s not a safe place to be. “Just ask your girlfriend.”

Gene brings out Kidman to talk about the situation last night where Rey Mysterio helped him win back the Cruiserweight Title. Rey comes out and Kidman offers him a title shot tonight due to Mysterio being back to his old style. Wasn’t he only away from his old style for six days and by force? They shake hands and say may the best man win but here are Eddie and his bodyguard to interrupt. Eddie says Rey is still a contracted member of the LWO so he needs to put the shirt back on. Guerrero pulls out a gigantic shirt that Rey is forced to put on, but he promises to make this right later.

Norman Smiley vs. Chris Benoit

Benoit is actually taken down pretty easily and kicked in the back, only to have him pop up and slap Norman in the face. They hit the mat for a bit until Benoit takes him into the corner and stomps away, only to charge into a knee to the ribs in the other corner. Smile does that spinning slam of his but Benoit comes right back with Rolling Germans, the Swan Dive and a Crossface for the fast submission. This was better than expected.

Nitro Party.

Stills of Hall vs. Nash which wasn’t a match.

Here’s the Wolfpack to celebrate their victory. Luger doesn’t like finishing second in anything but at least it was to another Wolfpack guy. Nash takes the mic and says he’s next and will be the 1 in 190-1. So Heyman stole his big promo from Kevin Nash? The Wolfpack leaves but Gene follows to ask about Hall. Nash can’t trust him because of what’s happened already, which makes sense. Goldberg comes by and says he’ll be the truck that runs Nash over. Nash: “Lay off the caffeine Bill.” Nice to see Big Kev so serious before his title shot.

Kanyon vs. Tokyo Magnum

Before the match we see Kanyon trying to get Raven to come out with him but Raven says Kanyon wouldn’t understand. Once in the arena, Kanyon yells at Raven to come out, allowing Tokyo to grab a rollup for two. A bulldog gets the same but Kanyon snaps off a Russian legsweep to take over. Tokyo gets two each off a sunset flip and small package, but a hiptoss is countered into the Flatliner to give Kanyon a fast pin.

Nitro Girls.

Glacier vs. Bobby Duncum Jr.

The cowboy takes him into the corner to start and shrugs off some kicks before nailing a headbutt to the ribs. More power shots such as a clothesline and shoulder drop drop Glacier and we head back outside for even more punishment, including a hard whip into the barricade. Back in and a top rope clothesline is good for two on Ice Dude but he comes back with his usual variety of kicks. A powerslam gets two for Glacier, only to have Duncum come right back with a running DDT. Duncum’s attempt to use his bullrope doesn’t work so he hits a Skull Crushing Finale for the pin. That’s not a good finisher for him.

Rating: D. Duncum is trying, but him going after the cowbell and bullrope shows how stupid WCW could be at the time. I know they’re a southern based promotion, but I got so sick of their OBSESSION with cowboys. Yeah we get it you have a bullrope and a big hat. DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT!

Giant comes out to talk about the battle royal last night. He wanted a piece of Nash but Nash needed an army to take him out since Big Kev won’t fight him one on one. Since that’s out of the question, Giant wants to know if Goldberg has the guts to face him tonight.

Hour #2 begins.

Saturn vs. Silver King

Before the match, Saturn tells Ernest Miller to jump him if he wants to. Why is this feud still a thing? A hard shoulder takes Silver King down to start followed by a drop toehold. Back up and a few kicks drop Saturn, setting up a slingshot splash for two. Saturn is bored by selling and nails a clothesline and superkick to send Silver King outside, only to draw out Sonny Onoo and Ernest Miller. After some lame trash talk, a German suplex and the Death Valley Driver end Silver King.

Cruiserweight Title: Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. Kidman

Kidman is defending. Feeling out process to start with Rey sending him into the corner for an early Bronco Buster to a bit of a mixed reaction. Maybe the huge shirt is offputting. They trade headscissors takeovers with Rey’s taking both guys over to the floor. Back in and Rey hits a quick dropkick to the knee followed by something like a Fameasser for two.

Kidman is sent to the apron but comes in over the top with a top rope cross body for two of his own. The champion charges at Rey but Mysterio uses what would become the 619, sending Kidman flying out to the floor in a cool spot. A big springboard flip dive takes Kidman down but he’s able to dropkick Mysterio out of the air as they come back in. Kidman powerslams him for two before getting caught in the sitout bulldog for another near fall. That’s FINALLY enough to get the announcers to care about the guys in the ring instead of Nash vs. Goldberg.

Rey comes back again with a sunset bomb out of the corner but Kidman is right back as well with a running bulldog up the corner. The masked dude hits a superplex but West Coast Pop is countered into the short powerbomb in a great counter. Juvy and Eddie come out for a distraction with Kidman going after the latter, allowing Guerrera to hit the Juvy Driver on Rey, setting up the Shooting Star to retain the title.

Rating: C+. This was a nice back and forth match between these two but the LWO continues to go nowhere for the most part. It’s nice of them to have some kind of a story, but there’s only so much that they can do against each other. I’d love to see them get out of the division for a change, but this is WCW so that’s a very rare thing to see.

Here’s Bischoff for his weekly Horsemen address. He understands that Flair isn’t going away and asks for him to come out here right now for a showdown. Flair comes out for the staredown on his own and says he’s humbled by the reaction he’s getting here in Grand Rapids. Bischoff actually says Flair deserves this before saying they have to acknowledge that Bischoff runs the company. Flair will admit that Ted Turner is a great man but made a mistake in hiring Bischoff.

Eric brings up Flair bringing in Barry Windham but Flair has no authority to hire anyone. This brings out Barry who immediately hugs Flair. Bischoff thinks that Barry is going to turn on Windham, which might be an accurate prediction. Bischoff slaps Flair and gets jumped, only to have Barry hit Flair low. The NWO jumps the Horsemen as they try for a save and Horace works over Dean’s leg. Eric makes Bret vs. Malenko tonight.

Stills of Booker saving Stevie Ray from Konnan last night.

Booker T. vs. Konnan

Tony tells us that Horsemen have left the arena other than Dean. Nice teammates they are. Booker takes over to start with a wristlock but walks into the rolling clothesline. A clothesline and back elbow to the jaw drop Konnan and a pair of kicks but Stevie comes out and nails Konnan in the head with a slapjack for a DQ.

Stevie asks Booker where his head is but Booker says he doesn’t need his brother.

Gene brings out Bret Hart for a chat. Bret says that punk DDP stole a cheap win last night and wants a rematch. He’ll destroy Dean’s knee until Page accepts the challenge.

Nitro Girls.

Wrath vs. Kevin Nash

The idea here is simple: Nash is facing the ultimate streak at Starrcade so he’s challenging a smaller streak here. Wrath drives in knees in the corner and nails a bicycle kick to drop Nash with ease. A dropkick sends him over the top and out to the floor as it’s all Wrath to start. Nash comes back in with right hands and elbows in the corner but Wrath easily suplexes him down. Wrath gets two off a top rope clothesline but he charges into a boot in the corner. Side slam is good for two on Wrath and a shoulder gets the same on Nash. Kevin comes right back with a big boot and the Jackknife to end Wrath once and for all.

Rating: C-. The match actually wasn’t all that bad but the booking is pretty questionable. I fully understand the idea of having Nash beat a winning streak, but Wrath was a guy with potential and they just burned through it here. On top of that, Wrath dominated the match and Nash hit like two moves for the win in less than five minutes. This should have been a bigger deal than it was.

Gene brings out Chris Jericho for a chat. Jericho’s hair looks like he’s been subjected to static electricity experiments. However Jericho wants to be serious tonight. The Jericholics have disappointed him lately by not cheering loud enough. He’s their role model because he’s better than every single one of them. Gene brings up Bobby Duncum Jr. and Jericho can’t pronounce his last name. As Jericho makes fun of cowboys, Duncum walks out with a hogtied Ralphus. Jericho: “GET AWAY FROM HIM! HE’S A TRAINED KILLER!”

Scott Hall vs. Alex Wright

Jericho is still trying to untie Ralphus during Hall’s entrance. Hall says cut the NWO Black and White music. Tonight is going to be the final survey because the fans are all here to see the…..something I can’t make out. There are two factions in the NWO and Hall doesn’t care for either one of them right now, so send out Alex Wright so Hall can destroy him. After the toothpick throw, Alex flips out of a belly to back suplex but gets punched in the jaw and clotheslined out to the floor.

Alex actually pulls Hall outside for some right hands as the fans chant USA. Back in and a missile dropkick puts Hall down again but it’s time to dance. Heenan is LIVID over this as you can hear the manager in him trying to come back out. They slug it out a bit until Hall levels him with a clothesline and the Edge is good for the pin.

Rating: C. Far better match here than I was expecting as Wright got to show off here in a bit of a surprise. Hall being serious is a good thing though as I really didn’t care for the drunk angle. Hall is talented enough to put on entertaining matches with almost anyone so it was a waste of his talent to use that kind of a gimmick.

Nitro Girls.

Bret Hart vs. Dean Malenko

Dean is favoring his knee after the attack earlier. Bret goes right for the knee to take over and kicks away but Dean gets in a right hand and some stomps to take over. Dean tries a rolling cradle but the knee gives out and they roll to the floor. We take a break and come back with Tony telling us about a special bonus Nitro tomorrow with another hour. Oh freaking JOY.

Dean tries a suplex and the knee holds up for the most part but he can’t follow up. A small package is good for two on Hart as Tony actually gets a fact right: Windham wasn’t an original Horseman. Dean comes back with a sleeper which Heenan points out allows him to rest the leg. Bret fights out of it with a belly to back but Malenko keeps the hold on. They head outside for a few seconds before Dean chokes with the boot in the corner.

Bret goes right back to the knee to take over though and snaps the bad leg down. He grabs the leg again but gets enziguried down to give Dean a breather. Back up and Dean slams him into the buckle while hobbling across the ring. Nice touch. A superplex doesn’t work but Bret goes down to the apron to keep Malenko out of trouble. The leg lariat sets up the Texas Cloverleaf but Bret is right in the ropes.

They fall to the floor with Dean landing on the leg to keep him down. Bret tries to bring in a chair but the referee takes it away, allowing Malenko to nail a missile dropkick for a very close two. Malenko tries a leapfrog but can’t get the elevation and goes down again. Bret wraps the leg around the post a few times and nails a Diamond Cutter, causing the referee to stop it.

Rating: B. I was really liking this one and the ending actually makes it better. Malenko doesn’t have to do a clean or even dirty job here and goes down fighting the whole way. His comeback was great with the knee being sold the whole way through. But of course we couldn’t have Dean move up the card long term or anything like that as a result of a great performance like this.

DDP comes in to save Malenko’s knee but gets beaten down with a chair. Bret misses a chair shot to the knee but gets away from the Diamond Cutter. Page calls him Hitscum Hart as Bret walks away. We get a challenge for a rematch for the US Title next week.

WCW World Title: Giant vs. Goldberg

They fight into the corner to start and Giant kicks him in the side of the head. Chokeslam gets two and Goldberg hammers away with some kicks to the ribs. Spear and a delayed Jackhammer retain the title.

Bam Bam Bigelow runs in post match but Nash comes out for the save. Goldberg goes after Nash and security separates them to end the show.

Overall Rating: C-. This was an entertaining enough show but I’m not interested in Starrcade so far. Goldberg vs. Nash just doesn’t feel like a big showdown main event but it’s what we’re getting no matter what. The Jackhammer to Giant was very impressive and Malenko’s match was good so it’s a watchable show but in a bad time for WCW.

Remember there’s the extra Nitro show Tuesday and no Thunder this week.

Remember there’s the extra Nitro show Tuesday and no Thunder this week.

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