Monday Nitro – November 15, 1999: Russo’s Finest

Monday Nitro #214
Date: November 15, 1999
Location: Barton Coliseum, Little Rock, Arkansas
Attendance: 10,435
Commentators: Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan

It’s the go home show for Mayhem so tonight we get the tournament down to the final four. The big question this week though is what genre of direct to video movie are we getting? Last week it was thriller with Kimberly vs. David Flair, mixed in with the comedy of Kevin Nash as the Grand Wizard. Heaven help me but let’s get to it.

Opening sequence.

There’s a cage over the ring. Of course there is.

Norman Smiley vs. Jimmy Hart

Hardcore, meaning Smiley comes out in football pads and Jimmy in…..a suit of armor. Well that’s kind of Genius of him. Jimmy brings in some weapons and actually doesn’t die at first because Norman can’t see through his helmet. The weapons shots have no effect on Hart so Norman just takes him down by the legs. Hart comes back with some powder to the face and Norman has to take the helmet off to cry.

The fans loudly chant NORMAN, but I’m sure that’s just because of the weapons and not the effort or comedic skills he’s displaying right? Jimmy gets in some weapons shots but Norman gets up, drawing out Knobbs with a chair to the head. Brian loads up a table but Jimmy misses a dive through it, giving Norman the easy pin.

Rating: D+. This is one of those matches where the guys tried and were having fun, but they firmly hit the roof of what they were capable of doing. It doesn’t help that this is to set up the epic showdown between Knobbs and Smiley, when it seems like there’s something entertaining in having Hart as a hardcore guy if you keep him in the armor.

Knobbs beats Smiley down post match.

Here are the tournament brackets.

Bret Hart

Kidman

Total Package

Sting

Chris Benoit

Scott Hall

Buff Bagwell

Jeff Jarrett

If Curt Hennig can beat Goldberg tonight, he gets a new contract. And what stops the Powers That Be from saying he’s fired from that one if he loses?

Kimberly talks to Terry Taylor. Why is she in the building after last week?

Tonight, Nash is dressed like Sid, complete with some pretty good prosthetic makeup. Well at least he isn’t Slick.

AC Jazz is out of the Nitro Girls so Fyre and Tygress jump Spice. Next.

Here are the Outsiders with Nash as Sid, with a chin that is far bigger than the real version. Keeping in mind that Sid is from Arkansas, the fans aren’t thrilled with this. Nash says he rules the world about five times but stops to remind us that he’s stupid. Cue Sid, who has had enough of these two. We get the famous line of “you are only half of the man that I am, and I have half the brains that you do” which has Hall nearly doubled over in laughter. Sid is already in a match tonight, but he wants to get Nash out of retirement on top of that. Nash says no so Sid calls him a shell of his former self and Nash says……nothing.

Tonight, Booker has to face Creative Control, officially named Gerald and Patrick. Why having the Harris Twins have the same names as the Stooges is supposed to be funny isn’t clear but I’m sure Russo gets a chuckle out of it. Booker says Midnight will strike.

Kimberly tries to see the Powers That Be but the Twins stop her.

Post break, Kimberly is in the Powers’ office and Russo puts her in a match with Asya. There’s going to be a special referee.

Nash comes into Russo’s office.

Booker T. vs. Creative Control

Before he can get to the ring, Booker is stopped by Chavo for an Amway pitch. After that comedy spot goes nowhere, Booker goes after we’ll say Patrick but gets whipped into Gerald’s boot. Tony stops talking about the match to say the Powers That Be have rescinded Nash’s retirement stipulation. Tony: “It was a lame angle anyway.” Every show I watch, I understand Cornette’s rantings and ravings just a bit more.

The Twins start double teaming him and take it outside where Booker can only fight one at a time. Back in and Booker manages a dropkick to put both guys down, setting up the ax kick and a missile dropkick for two with Gerald making a save. The H Bomb gets the pin on Booker a few seconds later.

The gong strikes and Midnight appears to knock out both Twins. This is after she got laid out by Jarrett last week so the effect isn’t all there.

Post break, Russo threatens to make Creative Control into bikers again. They’re banished to go find the luchadors and Torrie.

Evan Karagias vs. Johnny Boone

Yes referee Johnny Boone who is wrestling in jeans here. Madusa comes out with Karagias, who gets jumped as the bell rings. Evan easily shoves him back because he’s a referee as Madusa goes to commentary. They slowly go after each other because Boone, while a trained wrestler, isn’t much above average and that leaves Evan Karagias to carry things. Boone gets a boot up in the corner so Madusa rams his face into her cleavage. He’s out cold and Evan gets the easy pin. Keep in mind that Evan is challenging for the Cruiserweight Title this Sunday and this is his big warmup.

Madusa kisses Evan post match.

Russo has a bunch of luchadors in his face and makes them a deal: he’s going to put a $10,000 check inside a pinata and hang it from a pole. As luck would have it, Juvy is carrying a pinata. They’ll all be given a stick to hit each other with too. You can see the lawsuits from here.

Dr. Death Steve Williams and Ed Ferrara as JR show up.

Creative Control keeps looking for Torrie.

Villano V vs. Juventud Guerrera vs. El Dandy vs. Silver King vs. Psychosis

It’s a brawl to start and the pinata falls down fifteen seconds in. King moonsaults onto Dandy as Williams and Ferrara come to ringside. Ferrara gets on commentary and does his JR impression, listing off football stats, telling Tony to speak in soundbytes and shouting PINATA over and over. Juvy gets the pinata (PINATA! PINATA!) but the match just keeps going with the camera on Ferrara. Guerrera does the elbow drop and shakes the pinata as candy flies everywhere. Dr. Death gets in the ring and beats everyone up for the no contest, after almost everyone had the pinata at one point.

Rating: F. Well let’s see. It was a bunch of racial stereotypes, the pinata didn’t last twenty seconds, Juvy didn’t win for no explained reason, the sticks didn’t go anywhere, it was all about Dr. Death cleaning house at the end, and they spent the entire match ripping on JR after ripping on Sid earlier, Grand Wizard last week and Vince the week before. Pick any two of those reasons and you’ll get why this is a failure.

Dr. Death takes the check from King as the bell rings roughly 857 times.

Goldberg doesn’t care about anything.

Nash is back in his usual clothes and says he took some time off when WCW sucked. Now that Hall is back, things are fun again. Well of course it is. He barely has to do anything but comedy and gets a huge check. Pay no attention to the company, and therefore the checks, dying before his eyes.

Goldberg vs. Curt Hennig

Goldberg is coming out of his locker room when Hennig slams the door on his head. Unlike Flair with the WarGames door, Goldberg no sells it and they brawl in the back with Goldberg getting the better of it. They fight to the aisle and the bell rings with Hennig getting knocked to ringside and looking like he’s running scared.

Curt finally gets in some knees to the head as they go inside. The Robinsdale Crunch sets up a stepover toehold for well over a minute, with the referee ignoring Goldberg’s shoulders being down the entire time. Goldberg finally punches him in the face and puts on a leg bar for the submission, meaning Hennig keeps his job.

Rating: D. So Hennig can lose by anything but pin and keep his job. Why would the Powers That Be want to keep him around if he never wins because he keeps submitting or getting counted out? This was another of those mostly hardcore matches which don’t make people care because it doesn’t last five minutes and it’s part of a story that makes no sense.

Kimberly is on the phone with Page when the lights flicker. She panics at the fear of bad writing but Jim Duggan comes up with a flashlight and says the fuses in this place are horrible. I hate to admit it, but this was kind of funny. Ignore the fact that Jim Duggan apparently has a working knowledge of the fuses in an arena in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Creative Control tells the Filthy Animals that they’re fired if they don’t produce Torrie. The Animals heed the threat and go find her. Wait why isn’t she with them in the first place?

Chavo Guerrero sells Duggan some fuses.

Vampiro/Misfits vs. Berlyn/The Wall

The Misfits almost have to be better than the Clowns. The Bodyguard is officially the Wall, which is more punny delight. Three are three Misfits and one is named Jerry Only. Berlyn goes after Vampiro to start and sends him flying with a belly to belly. He misses a dropkick though and it’s off to the Misfits vs. the Wall. The trio is chokeslammed with ease but Vampiro comes in and kicks the Wall in the face.

The fans are way behind Vampiro here but Berlyn kicks him down, setting up a missile dropkick/suplex combo but the Germans argue over the pin. Wall steps aside so Vampiro can hit a quick Nail in the Coffin but Berlyn counters a top rope hurricanrana into a powerbomb. This time it’s Wall breaking up the pin but Vampiro breaks it up, only to eat a chokeslam for the pin.

Rating: D+. Most of that is because Wall hit some good looking chokeslams and the Misfits were little more than cannon fodder. This might have been the most logical match of the Russo Era so far with Berlyn getting annoyed at Wall for taking the glory, even though Berlyn is a waste of a roster spot at this point. Wall looks like someone they could push as someone interesting, meaning he’s doomed from here.

Berlyn whips Vampiro post match.

Torrie has been brought to the Powers’ office and Russo throws her a referee bikini, because “it’s all about the ratings.” Why did he have one of those handy?

TV Title: Rick Steiner vs. Sid Vicious

Rick is defending even though he didn’t bring the belt with him. We continue a running theme tonight with the guys brawling in the aisle but this time Sid is sent over the barricade and into the crowd. Steiner slams him down on the concrete but Sid fights back, only to put on something like a chinlock near the stage. That goes nowhere so Rick is dragged up to the stage for a low blow, setting up a powerbomb through the stage. Sid walks away and they never actually got into the ring. No match it would seem.

Post break, Rick is taken out on a stretcher. This goes on for the better part of ten minutes and Sid rambles about not wanting to do this to his friend. He’s ready for Nash tonight.

Nash is taping up.

We go to the boiler room for Jerry Flynn vs. Barbarian in something resembling a match. Remember when Mankind and Undertaker did this? Or Big Show and Mankind? Well now it’s Jerry Flynn beating up Barbarian, kicking him up against the wall and I guess knocking him out. Tony brags about how great this is going to be for the ratings and how it’s going to make people watch the show.

Benoit says Scott Hall isn’t standing in the way of getting to the World Title.

Asya vs. Kimberly

Torrie is guest referee and wearing a bikini. Well at least they’re not hiding what they’re doing anymore. Asya and Torrie get in a lame catfight until Kimberly jumps on Asya’s back with a sleeper. The Animals come out to cover Torrie up and get her out of there. Cue David Flair with the crowbar and wearing a referee shirt, sending Kimberly running off. David and Asya fight with David shrugging off a low blow but the Revolution comes out to clear the ring. So a minute long non match had two guest referees (I guess?), and I believe five people interfering?

Sting is given some flowers with a card from Luger. Liz and Luger are shown hoping that he likes them, but Sting doesn’t think he can trust them.

Goldberg has a chilled beverage.

Kimberly runs from David.

WCW World Title Tournament Quarter-Finals: Chris Benoit vs. Scott Hall

Bret Hart comes out to be in Benoit’s corner to counter Nash. So he’s Hogan to Nash’s Andre? Hall throws the toothpick at him and finds it hilarious. That earns him some fluid from Benoit’s nose and they trade some arm holds. Now Hall wants the test of strength, only to pock Benoit in the eye. That’s fine with Chris who trips Hall down and dropkicks him in the side of the head.

The Outsiders have a breather on the floor as this might be the longest match we’ve seen in Russo’s Era without any shenanigans. Back in and they trade chops in the corner with Benoit taking over and getting two off a snap suplex. Nash can’t help it any longer and nails Benoit in the back of the neck, allowing Scott to nail a clothesline for two. Scott gets into his routine and the fall away slam is good for two.

We hit the sleeper on the Canadian but Chris suplexes out to put both guys down. Benoit fights up and plants Hall with a backbreaker before dropkicking him to the floor. Nash goes after Benoit but Hart makes the save. In the melee, Sid comes in and powerbombs Hall, setting up the Swan Dive for two. Nash makes another save but Benoit Crossfaces Hall to go to Mayhem.

Rating: B-. Here’s the interesting thing about the match and the key to the whole idea: the fans reacted when Sid came in and laid Hall out. Now why is this time different from all the other matches ending with interference? For me it’s one simple reason: they allowed the match to build up before doing the angle. The only thing out of the ordinary was a single clothesline from Nash, which is minor by comparison. It’s a good match on its own and the angle is far more acceptable when they have a good build to get there. This is the Russo style that worked in the WWF because it had the time to work, though that’s not the case in WCW.

Bagwell says Jarrett isn’t going over him.

WCW World Title Tournament Quarter-Finals: Bret Hart vs. Kidman

Rey gets in on commentary. Bret takes him down with an elbow to the back of the head and nails a hard clothesline as this is looking one sided so far. Kidman slips out of a slam so Bret catapults him over the top and out to the floor. Back in and a Bodog gets two on Bret but we’ve got Outsiders. They hit on the robed Torrie but Eddie goes over for the save as Rey cheers him on from commentary. Back inside, Bret counters a hurricanrana into the Sharpshooter.

Rating: D. This didn’t have time to go anywhere but at least Bret didn’t crush Kidman. It also helped that they kept things moving quick enough and the interference didn’t really change much. Mysteiro was kind of a jerk but the Animals are the worst face group in the history of wrestling so it’s understandable.

Luger and Liz get some brownies. We’re approaching bad sitcom territory.

Jeff Jarrett is the chosen one.

WCW World Title Tournament Quarter-Finals: Jeff Jarrett vs. Buff Bagwell

They fight on the floor with Buff taking over and heading inside. Bagwell uses his standard offense including a good dropkick and an atomic drop until Creative Control comes out for a distraction. It doesn’t work immediately though as Buff nails a powerslam, but the referee stops to tie his shoe. Creative Control comes in and breaks up the Blockbuster, only to have Buff nail the other with Jeff’s guitar. The referee just can’t stop looking at his shoes though and Jeff nails the Stroke for the pin from the suddenly alert referee.

Jeff and the referee hug because we needed an angle on a match that didn’t break 130 seconds. Dustin Rhodes comes out for the save and celebrates with the loser.

Goldberg headbutts a Surge machine and gets a free drink.

Liz and Luger put laxatives in the brownies.

The Revolution is ready for the House of Pain match, but Saturn wants to talk about Everlast boxing gear and the music video for Jump Around. Saturn asks Dean to jump for him and staring abounds. I could get into this new character.

Duggan intercepts the brownies and says he deserves something like this.

Eddie Guerrero/Konnan vs. Perry Saturn/Dean Malenko

This is a House of Pain match, meaning it’s inside a cage and you win by handcuffing both opponents to the ropes. Saturn superkicks Konnan before he can get inside, leaving Eddie to get double teamed. Tony cuts Heenan off and goes on a rant about internet marks thinking they can do his job. Oh I don’t know Tony. I’ve seen a lot of internet marks that can sound every bit as stupid as you do.

The Revolution double teams Guerrero in the corner and pretty easily gets him most of the way chained up. Konnan comes in with some shots of his own but eats a spike piledriver. They complete shackling Eddie and Konnan gets the same just a few seconds later. Total time of a pretty big gimmick match like this: 2:57.

Rey comes in and gets laid out by a clothesline from Asya. The Revolution hangs him upside down from the top of the cage by the knee, allowing Malenko and Saturn to just destroy Rey’s leg. His next match won’t be until May. Well that explains why he didn’t help Eddie earlier.

WCW World Title Tournament Quarter-Finals: Total Package vs. Sting

The winner gets Bret on Sunday. Luger (the announcers have forgotten the whole DON’T CALL HIM LEX LUGER schtick already) hides in the corner to start as he thought Sting would eat the brownies. Sting kicks him in the allegedly injured leg and stomps Lex down in the corner to take over. He takes it to the floor and stays on the leg (Luger: “HELP ME BOBBY!”) before Lex gets inside to hide in the corner. An atomic drop does nothing to Sting but a clothesline gives Luger his first advantage.

Tony starts talking about how Sting and Luger have been friends for years in this sport before correcting himself by calling it a business. The Stinger Splash connects but Luger trips the referee while in the Scorpion. Liz maces Sting and the Torture Rack goes on, only to have Meng come out for a Tongan Death Grip (revenge for getting maced last week) to Luger. Meng puts Sting on top to send him to Mayhem.

Rating: D-. I’m getting tired of giving these matches the same grades over and over but they keep being the same bad, only slightly watchable matches with some kind of interference and overbooked finishes. This was in the same category as it wasn’t long enough to go anywhere but the guys know each other well enough to sleepwalk to a few acceptable moments.

Here are the final four:

Bret Hart

Sting

Chris Benoit

Jeff Jarrett

Jim Duggan feels the effects of the brownies.

Kevin Nash vs. Sid Vicious

Street fight. As has been the case almost all night, they start brawling in the aisle with Nash taking it into the crowd and hitting Sid low. They head back over the barricade and Nash hits the framed elbows in the corner. A quick clothesline sends Sid to the floor but he hits Nash low to take over again.

Back in and Sid slams Nash down and drops a leg for two. A leg between Nash’s legs is our third low blow in four minutes. Sid calls for the powerbomb as the fans call for Goldberg. Cue Hall to break up the powerbomb and the Outsiders go after Sid. Goldberg comes out to clean house and the bell rings for a no contest in a street fight.

Rating: D-. So now we can’t even get a finish in a match designed to not have a clean finish? I guess we’re setting up some kind of a tag match in the future, but that hasn’t been announced for Mayhem or any other show. On top of that, it would mean ignoring the months of Sid vs. Goldberg, which is one of those things in wrestling that always drives me insane. I’m sure in this WCW though, it’s cutting edge TV.

Overall Rating: D. Here’s the thing: for probably the first time since Russo took over, this show felt like it had a point. They have most of the big stuff set for Mayhem and gave you a reason to check out the show. That alone puts it ahead of almost anything else WCW has done in weeks. However, that brings us to the problem with the show.

Other than Hall vs. Benoit, this was one of the worst wrestling shows I’ve seen in a very long time. The wrestling ranged from too short to mean anything to just flat out bad. However, it did have the best match Nitro has offered in weeks which somehow makes this a better show. I hate to say it, but this bad show is somehow an improvement.

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