Monday Nitro – January 4, 1999 – The Night WCW Lost the War

When I first wrote this I followed it up with the Raw show from the same night which I’ll post Saturday.

Monday Nitro
Date: January 4, 1999
Location: Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Georgia
Attendance: 38,809
Commentators: Tony Schiavone, Larry Zbyszko, Bobby Heenan, Mike Tenay

This is another of those shows that is historical to put it mildly. We’re about two weeks past Starrcade 98 and the end of Goldberg’s streak at the hands of Nash. That being said, tonight we have a rematch for the title. This is arguably the last stand for WCW as Raw is just owning them left and right in the ratings. Can they pull off one more chance? We’ll find out here tonight. Let’s get to it.

We open with a big dramatic montage of the main event of Starrcade where Nash (who had just become booker at the time. I mean what are the odds of that?) beat Goldberg and won the world title. You would think one of them died given the way these are presented.

The Nitro Girls open the show, as always.

Flair is the President or something like that here. Hogan has recently retired apparently, announcing it on the Tonight Show.

There’s a Nitro Party in a luxury box for a winner of some kind of contest. What a great night to be there.

Glacier vs. Hugh Morrus

Yeah this is the opening match. Riveting no? Glacier was some kind of ripoff of Subzero from Mortal Kombat. I never got why this was done but then again why should you pay attention to the reason why you spend tens of thousands of dollars on a gimmick and the production values of a character? Morrus is now bald and has Hart as his manager, as he did before.

Glacier dominates for the most part with his great array of kicks. Hart tries to interfere which fails badly. Just after that a clothesline and the moonsault end it for Morrus. Those were the only two things that he hit all match.

Rating: N/A. This would have been the equivalent of a dark match as it was just to give the fans something to get them going with no particular reason for it. There’s no story or anything and it’s just a quick match so some wrestling can be seen. As we’ve been over, that was a big problem with the three hour shows, one they never quite solved.

To fill in time we show the segment from last week where Flair won control of the company. This was after he lost the big match the night before to Bischoff. This was also after Flair stripped to his underwear and tore up $100 bills in the ring for no apparent reason other than general insanity. We also see clips of a doctor saying that Flair didn’t have a heart attack but was being slowly poisoned. This was, of course, never resolved. They spend like 5 minutes just airing clips to fill time. We also see the Giant in one of his final WCW appearances before he would show up in WWF less than 6 weeks later. Pay no attention to Flair needing about 8 people to beat Bischoff.

Uh, theme song, after 16 minutes of video not counting any commercials that would have aired. That’s reaching ECW levels.

Flair and family with Arn Anderson come out. This takes another 3 minutes or so as he walks through the backstage while people clap. Why do I have a feeling that this is Flair’s dream come true? This is his first night in power as well. Malenko is on crutches for some reason that the announcers don’t know. According to Tenay it’s a sprained ankle.

Flair orders Bischoff to come out if he wants to work here anymore, so here he comes looking all sad and whatnot. He humiliates Bischoff and talks about all of the things that Flair has put him through over the years. Flair puts Bischoff back on commentary, working under Schiavone. He also reinstates Randy Anderson who Bischoff fired for refereeing fairly while he had cancer.

Since he hasn’t talked enough yet, Flair thanks everyone that helped him in the fight with Bischoff and apparently Randy Savage is back now as well. Flair books himself in a handicap match with Windham and Hennig at Souled Out. David volunteers to be his partner. Pay no attention to the fact that he has never had a match, or that you have BENOIT AND MALENKO standing behind you.

Booker T vs. Emory Hale

Hale worked four matches with WCW, one of which was as The Machine, who was a character WCW built up for months. He lost clean to DDP and was never seen again. Take a guess as to how this is going to go. They botch something and Booker spins up. Hale is a big old boy but not in the fat sense. Missile Dropkick ends this in like 40 seconds.

The Nitro Girls dance some more.

Bischoff still won’t talk. The other guys talking to him about how to do all this stuff is kind of funny.

Chavo Guerrero vs. Norman Smiley

Chavo has his stick horse here and is more or less insane. He rides around on it after putting Smiley on the floor. Can’t you see this RIVETING action here that is SO much better than Raw? I want to learn the Big Wiggle. The main thing here is to get Bischoff to talk rather than the match at all. Naturally you have two talented guys in there that can put on a fast paced match with stuff you don’t get in American wrestling, but hey we need to focus on Bischoff right?

Chavo botches the HECK out of something but gets a rollup out of it anyway for two. A sunset flip ends this in like 2 minutes for Chavo. I know I’m not saying a lot but there just isn’t any point to these matches and the focus is on the commentary so I’m a bit weak on material. Smiley breaks the horse afterwards.

Rating: N/A. Watchable stuff but the botch and lack of time really made this hard to get something going on. Not awful though.

Chris Benoit vs. Horace Hogan

I think this is about the start of the second hour and there is NOTHING going on so far from an in ring perspective. Benoit dominates the whole time as we talk about Bischoff even more. See how that was a major problem around this time? He was rapidly becoming the star of the show, which isn’t something that works at all. Randy Anderson is the referee here.

Top rope suplex sets up the headbutt but Benoit might have missed. The ever talented Horace (what kind of a name was that? His real name is Michael and they picked Horace?) takes over for all of a second as Benoit just SNAPS around into the Crossface for the academic submission.

Rating: D+. Total squash here but in the sense of squashes this worked rather well. Benoit dominated to say the least as Horace had nothing at all going for him. Granted that could be said about his career in general so there you are. And then at the PPV Benoit fought I think Mike Enos. Benoit in a nutshell ladies and gentlemen.

Goldberg is arrested. And so it begins. Basically he says he didn’t do it, whatever it is. He freaks out and we can see why he hardly ever talks. He says they’ll have to shoot him to take him in. At this point he has no idea what he’s being accused of but he still is willing to get shot for it. Nash is of course there and is ticked about him being put in the totally unmarked cop car. Hogan laughs about it too, in his big return I guess.

Chris Jericho vs. Perry Saturn

Naturally the conversation is about Goldberg instead of the match. Larry offers his legal counsel, but I lose all interest because RALPHUS is here. Look this guy up as he was purely awesome. Tony informs us that of course they’ll have no issue with jumping away from the match if something changes in the whole Goldberg deal. Oh wait let’s stop to talk about the Flair match at Souled Out.

After two minutes of no conversation about the match, Tony finally starts talking about the match for about 20 seconds. And we’re done with that now as we talk about how we’re in the 7th segment of a 16 segment show so we have plenty of time to find out about Goldberg. Head and arms suplex takes over Jericho. This has been a solid back and forth match.

DVD is blocked and Jericho goes flying in a suplex. Jericho shoves the referee in front of a Saturn cross body and then punches Saturn in the balls. Lionsault covers but it’s a DQ due to the shove of the referee. However since Scott Dickinson (referee) is feuding with Saturn, Jericho wins for breaking no rules.

Rating: B-. Solid match until the stupid ending as if nothing else it could have ended in a pin. This was around the best time of Saturn’s career, so guys like Jericho were going to get very solid matches out of him no matter what. This of course meant nothing as Saturn would fight a referee at the PPV and Jericho would do nothing. Welcome to WCW.

Goldberg goes to the police station, where of course it’s fine to have a camera follow him. He’s been arrested for aggravated stalking after a charge brought up by Elizabeth. This was originally supposed to be rape or sexual assault but Goldberg flat out said no way. Also one very important thing to keep in mind: Tony says this police station is ACROSS THE STREET from the arena where the show is. That’s going to come into play later.

The Nitro Girls dance some more.

We talk to the Nitro Party winner again to waste some more time. Oh look there’s a thumb wrestling contest. Holy crap this stuff is freaking AWESOME BABY!

Now we go to the police station to see Liz get interrogated. While this is supposed to be serious, it’s just hilarious as we have a camera watching a police interrogation of a stalking victim. She talks about him always being at every show he’s at. Isn’t that called him going to work? This comes off as a scene from a police drama.

We cut to I guess a parking lot where Eddie and the other luchadores (the Latino World Order) are doing various Mexican stereotypes. Eddie had been promised a major push but Eric changed his mind and threw coffee on him. This was Eddie being compensated for it in some way. Take a guess as to how far this angle went. Now they’re at a party with women and Eddie is the center of attention. Two of the other guys aren’t happy. This segment goes on WAY too long as it’s like 5 minutes already.

Billy Kidman/Rey Mysterio vs. Juventud Guerrera/Psychosis

Kidman is Cruiserweight Champion here and Heenan is on commentary now. This is a tornado rules match, meaning no tagging. That makes things more fun if nothing else. Kidman and Psychosis start us out with Rey and Juvi on the apron. You know, in a tornado match. Juvi doesn’t want to tag in so Psycho forces him to. Rey, already with a knee brace on hits a nice rana off the top to come in.

He does what would become the 619 but it was just a taunting move back then as it didn’t become a strike until WWE. When Juvi’s head was on straight he was pretty awesome. And now we’re going to go back to making fun of Eric for not talking. Methinks he left about an hour and a half ago, which is a nice touch if that’s the case. The announcers have been fairly convincing otherwise.

Nice rana by Kidman as he comes in. Tony again mentions the tornado rules because it makes more sense now I guess. Sweet pair of dives by the faces to take complete control. Springboard Doomsday Device half kills Psycho as there is zero flow to this match at all. Juvi Driver hits Rey as a counter to an Asai Moonsault and it gets two. Some insanely fast countering leads to face miscommunication, which is something you rarely see, to set up the guillotine legdrop from Psychosis to end it.

Rating: C. The spots were cool but like I said there was just no flow at all here. It was just a collection of spots that had no thought to them at all. WCW matches in this division were normally good about avoiding that, but then again there must have come a point where the guys just knew there was nothing they were going to gain no matter how hard they tried, so why bother anymore? It was ok, but the constant changing of the tag rules hurt it a good deal. Definitely ok though.

Goldberg is being told what Liz said about him, with Goldberg explaining the basic common sense of why he’s always at the same arenas and hotels Liz is at: they work together. Liz also mentioned a gym that Goldberg is always at. The reason he’s there: it belongs to him. Well that’s simple enough.

Nash comes out and says Goldberg got screwed at Starrcade and Nash never beat him. We’ll get to that show soon. He doesn’t believe Liz and says Hogan is behind this. And there we have the problem: Hogan has nothing to do with any of this but he’s thrown into it anyway. Nash wants Hogan tonight. Flair comes out and makes the match, despite Hogan retiring on the Tonight Show on Thanksgiving night.

Same video package from the beginning of the show about Nash vs. Goldberg airs. Tony is instantly convinced that Hogan is behind this. Why he’s convinced of it is never explained but who cares about anything like that?

Liz gives another testimony to the cops but her story doesn’t line up with what she said earlier.

Gene brings out Hogan who gets ZERO reaction. He wants to run for President, as in of the United States. Oh dear. He talks about how Goldberg is a criminal and gets even more heat on him, as Atlanta is Goldberg’s hometown. He’ll do the match with Nash tonight as his retirement match, which is now a title match.

Jericho talked to Dickinson earlier, more or less manipulating him into the DQ earlier. This was a pointless segment but that’s WCW for you.

TV Title: Scott Steiner vs. Konnan

Steiner is champion. He goes on a rant about being out of control and out of his mind, which is fairly true it would seem. Bagwell makes fun of Flair’s heart attack, because there’s nothing wrong with that right? Konnan’s graphic of course says he’s TV Champion despite Tony saying he’s the former champion. Immediately the match looks bad as Konnan shoots him in and then just stands there so Steiner can hit him. That looked awful.

And there it is. “Fans the competition’s show is in the can. Mick Foley, who used to wrestle here as Cactus Jack, is going to win their world title tonight. That’s their world champion.” Oddly enough, this tape is of the rebroadcast and the famous line of “that’s gonna put some butts in the seats” is missing here. Ladies and Gentlemen, the Monday Night Wars have just ended for all intents and purposes. According to just about every source I’ve heard, at this point the audience switched over to Raw in a large quantity.

Why WCW thought this was a good idea is one of the longest running questions in wrestling history, as no one has ever been able to get the point of it. Why would you tell the people that are watching your show what’s going on at the other show? Especially when this is a rematch from last week of all things. This was just a stupid idea all around, as they more or less said “hey, WWF has a major main event too where you’re GUARANTEED a title change.”

I’ve never gotten why WCW was so obsessed with the fact that they were live. I don’t get why it’s so different. I get that people are supposed to think things are spontaneous, but you can film the show to make it appear that things are going rapidly no? Also, something else that WCW never got was that an awful live show pales in comparison to taped awesomeness. This just made no sense at all and no one I’ve ever heard of thought it was a good idea, which is more or less backed up by the ratings.

Finally, this is dumb because WCW had already promised one of two main events: Nash vs. Hogan or Nash vs. Goldberg. Those are hardly nothing matches and would likely have drawn a large audience. If you have people thinking about how awesome they could be, then why offer them an alternative? According to the ratings breakdowns, just after Foley would win the title on Raw, a lot of people shifted back to Nitro, implying people wanted to see the main event they were offering, which we’ll get to soon.

As for the match itself, shockingly enough it’s awful. Steiner dominates while Tony says they haven’t gone to the precinct for awhile. Oh and we’re LIVE. Konnan gets the worst X Factor in history for two, and here’s Bagwell for the DQ. Beatdown follows.

Rating: F+. Just a nothing match that went nowhere and ended as a joke of course. Total waste of time, but then again Konnan wasn’t ever really much at this point anyway. Steiner was pushed WAY too hard but he was old and had been around in the early 90s so he was the perfect person to push right?

Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Wrath

Yeah….this is what they wanted you to watch instead of Foley vs. Rock. That makes perfect sense right? Ok so Nash vs. Hogan is going to happen and Nash will fight Goldberg also if he gets here. Eric makes a Goldberg joke, proving he’s still alive. Wrath talks about how awesome he is. This is an open challenge but screw the whole drama thing.

Tony of course talks about how this is live and it couldn’t happen on a taped show. Uh….YES IT COULD. Why is it so hard to believe that a guy could come out and make an open challenge on a taped show? Is there a taped show rulebook somewhere that I’ve never seen? Wrath beats up Bigelow a bit but we hit the floor. Yes Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Adam Bomb is happening on national LIVE blast it TV in 1999.

Bischoff keeps making Goldberg putdowns as this is what he’s getting paid for now. We go to the floor again as Tony crows about how they have a world title match tonight. Well according to him so does WWF but I certainly won’t change the channel to see that right? Totally awful match here as it’s just a big brawl but it’s moving along like molasses as everything takes forever to do, making it incredibly boring.

They’ve been on the floor more than they’ve been in the ring, which is typical here. Who cares if it’s a bad match? It’s LIVE! They brawl onto the floor again, the referee goes down, and it gets thrown out.

Rating: F. Just pure garbage here and no one, I mean NO ONE, cared. Move on to something else please.

Liz is interrogated AGAIN, and yet again she can’t remember her earlier stories. Why is this so hard to remember? The detectives pick apart her story and she keeps checking her watch. They tell her she’ll be charged with a felony for lying, which makes her say it wasn’t Goldberg at all. IT’S A SETUP! I expect a laugh track or a theme song to kick on at this point.

After the perjury about stalking, we have women dance in the ring because that makes perfect sense right?

The announcers say Goldberg will have to get here and get dressed to fight. Hogan said earlier that he’d fight in street clothes if he had to. So I guess Goldberg isn’t skilled enough to do the same?

Brian Adams vs. Diamond Dallas Page

Page was just completely awesome at this point and even I was liking him. After a brief opening Adams hits the floor and Page dives over the ropes to get him. Naturally no one really seems to care other than the fans, but the announcers have been told not to react to it I’d guess so they treat it like a headlock. Vincent interference gives Adams control.

They keep telling us we’re LIVE as it’s just irritating now. Discus Lariat and Page takes over for a bit. This is pure filler until we get to the main event. Tony talks about Goldberg fighting traffic to get here. That street he has to cross must be treacherous. We get a bearhug just to emphasize the level of boring here. Spinning DDT and we’re back to even. And there’s the Diamond Cutter to end this.

Rating: D. Boring match that was just to get DDP on the card. No one cares as this was like the Divas matches you have before the main event to kill some time before we get to the big one. Match sucked.

Goldberg is released from jail, making him yell at cops. He wants an escort to get to the Georgia Dome, which keep in mind, is across the street. Ok at this point, there are about 12 minutes left in the show. Let’s see how long it takes him to cross the street.

WCW World Title: Kevin Nash vs. Hulk Hogan

Hogan has Scott Steiner with him. Keep in mind his last match was back in October. What a coincidence that he’s here. I always wonder what’s going through their heads when things like these are about to happen. Nash comes out with Scott Hall, so the Outsiders are back again I guess. Keep in mind that this is, yet again, NWO vs. NWO. Hogan is in street clothes.

These are NOT taped matches mind you. There’s the bell, Nash mocks Hogan’s shirt rip. There was a commercial in between Goldberg leaving the police station and the introductions, so adding on let’s say three minutes for that, he left the station about nine minutes before the bell rang. They circle each other and the crowd is white hot. “This is what WCW is all about” according to Tony. Nash shoves Hogan, Hogan pokes Nash in the chest, Nash goes down, Hogan wins the title.

The four guys flood the ring and Goldberg arrives, in a car that he was driving. It happens to be the same car he went to the police station in, and it’s not a police car. So did the cops just steal his car or did he steal the unmarked cop car? The fans TOTALLY turn on the ending and are furious but HERE’S GOLDBERG! Down goes Steiner. Down goes Hall. Add Nash to that. Hogan gets some shots in but takes an AWFUL spear.

Goldberg sets for the Jackhammer, but Lex Luger comes out and beats up Goldberg, joining the NEW NWO! Yes, this is the NWO being reformed, two and a half years after it started. Goldberg gets handcuffed to the ropes and taze the heck out of him. He gets the spraypaint treatment as the fans want Sting. He would show up….two and a half months later. Hogan sprays the belt with the red paint and Steiner does the hand sign to end the show.

Ok so obviously the show as a whole means very little so we’ll save the overall rating until the end. Let’s take a look at the various reasons this was a bad idea and more importantly why this was the beginning of the end for WCW as a whole.

1. The World Title looks worthless. Think back to every heel ever. At the end of the day, their existence was about one thing: becoming world champion. DiBiase wanted to buy the title, Hogan used it as a safety blanket, Austin said it was his life, and it was more or less Flair’s logo. Nash more or less has said this belt means nothing to me, so I’ll just hand it to Hulk Hogan instead because he’s my friend.

This has drastic long term consequences. First of all, why would we ever buy Nash as world champion again? If he can just hand the belt away, why should we not think he’ll do it again? Second, it makes Hogan look like a paper champion. This is the more important one which we’ll get to in more detail in the next point. The thing here though is that he never beat Goldberg and Nash beat him under shady conditions. Hogan has the title and doesn’t have to fight Goldberg, which leads us to this.

2. Hogan is champion again. This could rival the first one for most important. It’s the second year in a row this has happened. Hogan, without beating the mega-face (Sting in 97, Goldberg in 98) has taken back the world title while the mega-face is beaten down. Hogan had not been seen in almost three months and is handed the world title just because. There is no need to make Hogan champion other than because he wanted to be. This in no way benefits the company and it simply goes back to the old days of the NWO, leading us to point number three.

3. The NWO is back one more time. Wrestling fans do not have long attention spans. This is a criticism I have of the current THEY storyline in TNA at the moment. You can’t have long running storylines and expect the fans to stick around for the duration of it. This was the case of the NWO. The angle went WAY past its expiration date but WCW kept going with it. It should have died or at least been fatally wounded at Starrcade 97, but Hogan got the title back in three months. Goldberg destroyed Hogan in July and six months later he has the belt again and the group is back.

The fans were simply tired of the NWO, and can you blame them? If you watch WCW from this time, EVERYTHING was about the NWO. People loved it at first, but it overstayed its welcome and the people just gave up. WCW never would listen to the audience though and kept right along with it because it worked once, so it’ll work again. This wasn’t the case obviously, and only due to injuries did this incarnation end.

4. The Foley aspect. As I mentioned, WCW told the fans about the Foley title win. That is my favorite moment in wrestling history and a great moment in general, as one of the hardest working men in wrestling gets the recognition he deserves. It’s a feel good moment and a lot of people seem to like it.

The problem is that as mentioned earlier, people that switched to the title change switched back for the WCW ending. This means that the fingerpoke is the last thing people see in wrestling for that night. By comparison to a great moment like the Foley win, the WCW change looks even worse. If there is no Foley win that night, then the WCW one comes off as a bad moment, but maybe not a disaster. The added bonus of people seeing Foley and feeling good about it makes the Hogan win just seem dirtier, which is a bad thing.

5. The fans are screwed. WCW pulled a bait and switch on their fans. They advertised Goldberg vs. Nash, which would have been a big draw as a mere 8 days before it main evented the biggest show of the year. By telling the fans to expect that then switch it out to Hogan vs. Nash is almost acceptable. It may not be what was advertised, but that’s certainly a major match. I would bet that a lot of fans weren’t thrilled with it, but having a replacement like that probably helped a bit.

And then the incident happened, and the fans that were a bit on edge already probably exploded. It makes you think you can’t trust the company to give what they told you they would give you. If you can’t trust them on a free show, why should you buy a show or a ticket to a show?

In short, this was a disaster and is widely considered the final blow which killed WCW. I think there’s a lot to that theory, but WCW was in big trouble already. There was absolutely no touching Austin at this time and having a guy like Foley around as a solid #2 face while Vince and Rock were the top heels, coupled with a great midcard and there was just no way WCW was going to get back into contention.

The best they could hope for was to hold onto their fan base and find the next big star to build up and hope people bought into them. Rather than going with say Benoit, Saturn (he was a big deal back then. Ok not really but he was popular) Jericho, or any other young guy, they went with Hogan and the NWO again, which naturally brought the ratings back down. They never won another night and they were into comedy for the most part the next year. This may have indeed been the final nail in the coffin.

Overall Rating: D. Main event and angle aside, this show pretty much sucked. Nothing of note happens as everything built up to the main event and then that bombed. There is some watchable stuff, but for the most part it’s completely forgettable. I had to recheck the card to remember what was on it after writing this. I reiterate that three hours is just too long to have a TV show run every week. There is far too much filler like Bigelow vs. Wrath for example. The angle setting up the main event and the main event should be seen for historical purposes, but that is definitely it for this show.

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4 Responses

  1. Adam King says:

    I agree this is when the WWF clinched victory in the Monday Night Wars for good. After this disaster WCW would never threaten the WWF again, even with all their gimmicks and hotshoting and all that.

    • Thomas Hall says:

      It always interested me that the Warrior shows steadily beat Raw. The saddest thing about WCW is if you had a competent booking team you could have put up a great fight in 1999 and beyond. Also if you had people that didn’t spend millions and millions on nonsense but that’s beyond their control.

  2. Muffin Top Merkley says:

    Can I get the cliff notes of Jericho and Ralphus? as well as the man of 1004/armbar stuff I hear about?

    • Thomas Hall says:

      The man of 1004 holds stuff you just need to look up. Words don’t do it justice. Just remember that Dean Malenko was known as the Man of 1000 holds and they were feuding at the time. Youtube it.

      Ralphus is a VERY fat man who wore half t-shirts and was head of Jericho’s security. Jericho wrote various columns talking about him being a ninja master or something like that. HIlarious stuff that I think you had to be there for.

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