Monday Nitro – April 20, 1998: I Don’t Care If You’ve Heard This One Before
Date: April 20, 1998
Location: World Arena, Colorado Springs, Colorado
Commentators: Mike Tenay, Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan, Larry Zbyszko
It’s the night after Spring Stampede and some things have changed. To begin with Savage is the new world champion having defeated Sting with the help of Kevin Nash. This of course turned into yet another Hogan story as Hogan tried to keep the title on Sting but Nash helped take it off of him to screw over Hogan who hit Nash with a baseball bat earlier in the night. Other than that Raven won the US Title last night and gets Goldberg as a reward tonight. Let’s get to it.
We open with exclusive footage from after the PPV where Hogan and Disciple jumped Savage and Nash but the NWO B Team came out to prevent Hogan from taking the belt.
The announcers talk about the title picture.
Here are Hogan, Disciple and Bischoff to open the show because it’s not like there’s a new world champion who should be opening things up. Bischoff ensures us that he loves Hogan who loves all of you. Hogan says the NWO is for life and thinks Nash and Savage are caught in the river Styx. There’s no escape for Savage tonight because the NWO is watching all the exits.
The fans are all over Hogan to the point where I can barely understand him. Hogan wants to call out Savage tonight and he’ll take care of Nash too. The NWO has split and it’s time to find out who is going to follow whom and if Nash tries to get involved, Hogan will take him apart too.
Goldberg is getting ready.
The announcers talk about what Hogan said while adding nothing new at all.
Here’s Savage for the rebuttal. He’s wants to fight instead of gloat because the only coward here tonight is Hollywood Hogan. The worst kept secret in the world is that he hates Hogan in life and death. See, Hogan has everyone snowed. Hogan’s main goal was to keep Savage from taking over but now his world is crashing down around him.
It was Hogan behind the wheel of the Viper a few weeks ago but now there’s nothing preventing Savage from fighting Hogan tonight. No one can stop him on live TV, including Bischoff, Turner or the big Macho Man in the sky. Savage brings out Nash, calling him the new leader of the NWO. Shouldn’t the new WORLD CHAMPION be the leader?
Here’s Nash, not even in an NWO shirt. He says that this is the end of Hogan’s career because the NWO is no longer his, brother. Tonight Savage is going to be the end of Hogan when he beats him for the title. Nash is coming for Disciple and Bischoff too, because he’s powerbombed Eric before and he’ll do it again.
The announcers talk even more.
Raven says he won’t be #75 for Goldberg because he’s been through pain before.
Nitro Girls. We’re only half an hour into the show before the first match so why not have even more filler?
Gene tells us to call the Hotline for the latest rumors about nothing in particular.
Konnan vs. Chris Adams
Yep, this is what we waited thirty minutes to get to. Adams takes over with some quick suplexes and armdrags Konnan down to counter Konnan’s technical attempts. Another armdrag sends Konnan to the floor for a conference with Vincent. Back in and Konnan hits the low dropkick and a hard clothesline before cranking on the arm. Adams fights up and tries Kofi Kingston’s SOS for two but crashes into the ropes on a cross body attempt. The Tequila Sunrise gets the submission for Konnan.
Rating: D. Nothing to see here as neither guy is anything of note at this point. Konnan is nothing more than a lackey with an accent and Adams is a jobber that most of WCW’s fans likely haven’t heard of. The announcers didn’t help things either by spending the entire match talking about Goldberg. If they want to get back on top in the ratings, this is a strange way of going about it.
Nitro Party video.
Barbarian vs. Wayne Bloom
Barbarian pounds him into the corner to start but Wayne comes back with a clothesline. Jimmy Hart distracts Bloom, allowing Barbie to get the pin off a big boot. Match might have lasted a minute.
Raven says he’s next.
Here’s Chris Jericho, wearing Iaukea’s skirt thing, with a portrait of Dean Malenko. Jericho has some good news and bad news. The bad news is that Malenko is retired, but the good news is he has a job interview at Harry’s Burgers in Tampa. Jericho will give us updates on how the interview goes.
Cruiserweight Title: Chris Jericho vs. Juventud Guerrera
Juvy pounds away in the corner and snaps off a top rope hurricanrana. Off to a quick chinlock but Jericho comes back with a jawbreaker and does his long strut. Juvy avoids a charge to send Jericho to the floor and a big plancha takes Chris down again. Back in and a springboard spinwheel kick gets two. Juvy rolls up Jericho’s body into a DDT for two more as this is incredibly fast paced for the most part. Juvy tries another hurricanrana but gets caught in the Liontamer, eventually passing out from the pain, playing up the Never Surrender idea.
Rating: C+. They packed a lot of action into a three and a half minute match. Juvy continues to be one of the best fliers around and Jericho is more than capable of hanging in there with him when he tries to. It says a lot when you can have a crowd going nuts in the first minute and a half of a match which is exactly what Juvy had them doing here on those near falls.
Jericho: “MY GOD I KILLED JUVY!”
Goldberg is still getting ready.
Hour #2 begins.
US Title: Goldberg vs. Raven
Raven is defending and this is under his rules. He lays the belt out in front of Goldberg and they talk trash, only to have Raven dropkick him down. We head to the floor with Raven being whipped into the barricade to give Goldberg control. Back inside and Goldie puts on a leg lock before superkicking Raven right back to the floor.
Raven grabs a chair and smashes Goldberg in the back to slow him down. There’s the drop toehold onto the chair followed by a reverse chinlock on Goldberg. The big man powers up and no sells a bunch of right hands. There’s the spear but Goldberg has to destroy the Flock. Raven tries to leave but the fans throw him back to ringside. Another spear and a Jackhammer onto a stop sign (brought in by Horace) make Goldberg US Champion.
Rating: C+. Total destruction here by Goldberg which is a good idea, but I don’t know why it had to be at Raven’s expense just one day after he won the title. The guy did some great work with Page and Benoit earlier in the year but now he gets to keep the US Title for a single day? Still though, good, hard hitting match here.
More Nitro Girls.
La Parka vs. Ultimo Dragon
La Parka does his dance to start but Dragon takes him by the arm and sends him down with a flying mare. Dragon avoids a charge into the corner but a spinwheel kick sends him to the floor. La Parka hits a big dive to the floor before throwing on a chinlock back in the ring. A clothesline gets two on Dragon but La Parka goes up top and dives into some boots from Dragon. Eddie Guerrero is dragging Chavo to the ring by the neck as Dragon fires off the kicks. Chavo is forced to shove Dragon off the top, allowing La Parka to hit a twisting body attack off the top for the pin.
Rating: C. This was fine with both guys looking good for the most part and tying it into the Guerrero story could be interesting. It’s a good sign thing to have so many talented guys you can throw out there to have solid matches and giving them a story makes things even better. Nice little match here.
We look at some stills from the main event last night.
Chris Benoit vs. Curt Hennig
Rude jumps in on commentary as is customary anymore. Benoit jumps Hennig as he comes to the ring and goes after Curt’s banged up knee. Hennig tries to take it to the mat which goes about as well as you would expect against Chris Benoit. Rude comes down to ringside as Benoit kicks Hennig’s leg out. Hennig sends Benoit to the floor for a beating from Rude, leaving Benoit out cold. Back in and Hennig loads up the HennigPlex, only to have Benoit counter into the Crossface. Rude comes in for the DQ because the NWO isn’t allowed to lose.
Rude beats up Benoit some more but Booker T makes the save. Benoit yells at Booker for helping him, triggering a fight on the stage.
Come to the Power Plant! You can be told you have no future in the business like Dave Batista!
More stills from the main event.
Here’s Roddy Piper with something to say. Piper sucks up to the University of Colorado a bit while talking about something starting at Spring Stampede tonight. The main event is now No DQ, no one allowed at ringside and they’ll fight until there’s a winner.
More stills from the main event. They’ve pretty much given up on the practice of not saying who wins the PPV matches until the replay was over.
Hammer vs. Perry Saturn
The brawl starts in the aisle with Saturn taking over. Hammer is sent into the steps and we finally head inside. A top rope clothesline puts Hammer down again but he pops up to catch Saturn in a powerslam. Saturn suplexes him down a few times but a Thesz Press is countered into something resembling an Alabama Slam from Hammer. Saturn gets a breather though as Hammer seems to have hurt his knee so a Cactus Clothesline puts both guys on the floor. Instead of going after the knee, Saturn crushes Hammer’s arm between the steps and the post. They fight up the aisle for a countout.
Rating: D. This was more of an angle than a match which barely lasted long enough to be rated. Saturn continues to be awesome with his unique style but he needs something better than Hammer to make this work. They did the right thing by keeping it short though as Saturn’s rebellion against Raven begins.
More stills from the main event. Just show the match already if you’re going to show this many shots from the match.
Hour #3 begins.
The announcers talk even more.
Public Enemy vs. Scott Steiner/Buff Bagwell
Bagwell starts with Grunge and it’s already time to pose. A quick armdrag takes Grunge down and it’s time for the posing strut. Grunge comes back with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker before it’s off to Rocco vs. Steiner. Scott easily throws Rock around but gets caught in a sleeper. A belly to belly suplex gets Scott out of trouble as the slow power offense continues. Rocco comes back with a swinging neckbreaker before it’s back to Buff for some choking.
Back to Grunge who gets caught in a Tree of Woe for choking by Steiner as the offense continues to expand. Buff heads to the floor but gets caught by some double teaming to give Grunge a breather. Everything breaks down with Grunge hitting a double bulldog on the NWO. Buff is laid out on the table but gets up before Rocco can drive him through. Back in and Scott gets up the Recliner but Buff wants the Blockbuster instead for the pin.
Rating: D+. This was pretty dull stuff. At the end of the day Public Enemy wasn’t a very interesting team because they didn’t have much to offer in WCW besides the table stuff. Scott continues to seem tentative at best on offense instead of being a killing machine like he was in the early days of the Steiner Brothers which made him a star.
TV Title: Psychosis vs. Booker T
Booker takes him down with a back elbow and it’s off to an early armbar. A clothesline and some chops have Psychosis in trouble but he comes back with a dropkick to the chest and one to the leg for good measure. Psychosis gets two off a top rope spinning body attack and we hit the chinlock. Back up and Booker hits a knee to the ribs to stop Psychosis cold. Booker’s knee drop misses so Psychosis wraps the knee around the post to keep him down. Not that it matters as Booker pops up and hits the snap spinebuster. The flapjack sets up a sidekick and the missile dropkick retains the title.
Rating: D+. This felt like they were trying to fill in nine minutes instead of having an entertaining and competitive match. I didn’t leave much out of the match and it somehow ran over nine minutes. There was nothing to see here and they didn’t even let Psychosis fly around the ring all that much. Also Booker completely ignored the knee work near the end which made it even worse.
Bryan Adams vs. Lex Luger
Feeling out process to start with Luger ducking right hands and scoring with an atomic drop. Lex pounds away in the corner and clotheslines Adams down a few times. A third clothesline puts Bryan on the floor and Luger suplexes him back in, only to have a splash (from Luger?) hit knees. Adams gets two off a gorilla press but Luger comes back with a neckbreaker, expanding his moveset yet again. A powerslam puts Adams down, drawing in Vincent for a torture rack. Konnan comes in and gets a rack of his own but there’s still no DQ. Luger drops Konnan and hits a running clothesline on Adams for the pin.
Rating: D-. This was even less interesting than the previous match with Adams and Luger doing nothing of note for the entire match. I have no idea why Adams is getting this prominent of a role but he’s not showing he deserves it. This show is really dragging before the main event and I doubt Hogan vs. Savage is going to raise the bar very much.
The announcers talk about how great the main event will be.
WCW World Title: Hollywood Hogan vs. Randy Savage
No DQ. Hogan threatens to use his Viper to make Savage a speed bump after winning the title. We get the required stalling to start as Hogan hides behind Disciple, ignoring Piper’s statement that no one would be allowed at ringside. Hogan slowly gets in and is taken down by an early shoulder block. After even more stalling Hogan comes back with right hands and some rakes to various body parts. Savage gets choked in the corner by both Hogan and Disciple and a belly to back suplex gets two for the challenger.
We head to the floor for some chair shots to Savage’s….knee I think but it also grazed the shoulder. Hogan pounds away against the barricade before head head back inside. Savage gets in some right hands of his own but injures his knee while kicking Hogan in the ribs. Take notes Booker. Hogan goes after the leg for a few moments but Savage gets in a low blow. He’s too beaten down to follow up so we head to the floor again.
Nothing happens there so it’s back inside for some choking with the weightlifting belt. Savage is reeling and there’s the slam to set up the leg drop but the champion rolls away. Now Savage gets the weightlifting belt and whips Hogan to the biggest reaction of the last hour and a half. Savage slams him down and drops the elbow but the knee prevents him from covering.
Off to a spinning toe hold into a figure four by Hogan to make Savage scream. The fans immediately turn to the entrance to look for the interference a funny moment. Savage makes the rope pretty easily as Dusty Rhodes would have laughed at how badly Hogan had the hold on.
Randy gets up and throws the referee down so he can choke Hogan even more. Disciple comes in for the Stunner on Nick Patrick and goes after Savage’s knee. The fans look to the entrance again but no one is coming yet. Savage’s knee is wrapped around the post and there’s a Stunner with the belt on Disciple’s shoulder.
Now we get Kevin Nash but Bischoff follows him and grabs his leg, allowing Hogan and Disciple to beat Nash down. Hogan’s belt shot hits Nash in the head and Nash jackknifes Hollywood. He drapes Savage on Hogan but here’s Bret Hart to hit Nash with the belt and put Hogan on top of Savage for the pin and the title.
Rating: D-. Where do I even start? We’ll go with the obvious: the match wasn’t all that good. It went on longer than it should have, though to be fair Hogan going after the knee made sense so there was a basic story being told out there. Other than that though, there wasn’t anything good going on.
To begin with, we had three interferences after Piper guaranteed none. Obviously Piper was watching the match but he didn’t do anything about his rules being broken, making him look like an inept figurehead. Granted that might be better than being a crazy rambling psycho who made no sense whatsoever.
Then after all that there’s the booking. We have two stupid points here. Bret’s turn is the easier one to deal with. No it makes no sense, but there’s still a chance to fix things later on with an explanation. At the end of the day though, there was no build to the turn, no teasing of anything, it goes against everything Bret and Hogan have been saying for weeks and it’s not like Bret has been doing anything of note leading up to the match anyway which takes away from the turn a bit.
Then there’s the bigger problem: Hogan as champion AGAIN. He’s held the title for nearly last year and a half save for five days. The idea has been done, but we get to see it yet again for no apparent reason whatsoever. The fans were going nuts for Savage and then just died for the title change. WCW’s fans were tired of Hogan because it’s the same thing they’ve seen for nearly four years now. Is it any wonder why the people changed the channel over to Raw to see something fresh like Austin on top?
The show isn’t quite over.
Piper finally comes out to yell at Bret as there are four bodies piled up on the mat. Bret decks Piper to end the show.
Overall Rating: D+. Nitro continues on the same track as always: some decent stuff but the NWO nonsense drags it down. At the end of the day, people are sick of Hogan and whatever he has going on at the moment. Nash vs. Hogan could be interesting, but we’re almost two years into the NWO era now and while they’re splitting up, it’s just putting even more focus onto them. Now on the other side we have Goldberg who is finally pushed up to a higher level and given something of note. There’s good stuff hidden under all the nonsense here but there’s way more nonsense than good.
The next week of shows are kind of weird. Thunder is on Wednesday this week and next week Nitro will be split in two. Monday will have an hour long show and Tuesday will have two hours, I believe due to basketball. I’ll be reviewing both Nitros at once.
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