Monday Nitro – September 14, 1998: One of the Finest Moments In Wrestling History
Date: September 14, 1998
Location: BI-LO Center, Greenville, South Carolina
Commentators: Larry Zbyszko, Bobby Heenan, Tony Schiavone
Fall Brawl has come and gone and it was little more than a pit stop for Halloween Havoc. The match disguised as WarGames did little more than set up the double main event for next month while offering one of the worst shows I’ve ever seen. The main event tonight is Goldberg vs. Sting for the title because WCW cares more about TV than PPV. Something else of note happens tonight as well. Let’s get to it.
The Nitro Girls look great in stomach baring red tops and skin tight black pants.
The announcers talk about DDP earning the title shot at Halloween Havoc last night. Mike Tenay is off trying to find out about the Horsemen, including the return of Ric Flair. Nice job of keeping secrets Tony.
The fans alternate between WE WANT FLAIR and GOLDBERG as we go to the airport where Tenay talks about Flair possibly returning tonight. A limo pulls away from an airplane but Mike isn’t sure who was in it. He chases down a pilot and asks if Flair was on the flight but can’t get an answer. Some reporter.
We look at Ernest Miller attacking the Armstrongs for the third time in a week.
Alex Wright vs. Van Hammer
Van Hammer is now a hippie. He shoves Wright into the corner to start as Tony runs down tonight’s card. Alex grabs a headlock and stomps away in the corner before sending Hammer to the floor. Ernest Miller comes out and kicks Hammer in the head, drawing the DQ in a quick ending.
Miller runs his mouth and is arrested. We follow him all the way to the squad car and nothing happens.
We get some stills from the main event last night and Tony says Bret was injured.
Here’s a limping Bret with something to say. Bret says that he’s been a jerk lately and now he realizes that Hogan has been lying to him all along. After last night, he’s going to be out of action for awhile and he doesn’t deserve this US Title or know what he’s doing with it in the first place. This brings out Roddy Piper who says he called Bret a jerk weeks ago because Bret was hanging out with Hogan and ruining a lot of careers. Bret’s parents must be disappointed in him but they’re proud after what he said tonight. Piper leaves and Bret asks the fans for once more chance, which they seem willing to give.
Stills from Saturn beating Raven last night to break up the Flock.
Saturn vs. Kendall Windham
Kendall pounds Saturn down to start but a nice series of kicks knocks Windham out to the floor. Back in and Saturn snapmares his way out of an armbar but Windham goes after the injured fingers to take over. Kendall drives in more right hands to the side of the head and puts on a chinlock for a few moments. A knee to the ribs (Tony: “A great move!”) puts Saturn back down and a clothesline to the shoulder is good for two.
Back to the chinlock for a bit longer this time before a big boot clearly misses Saturn’s face by nine inches or more. Kendall cranks on the arm a bit more and chops away in the corner but misses a middle rope elbow drop. Saturn comes back with a quick t-bone suplex and shows him how to hit a the elbow from the middle rope. Kendall counters a suplex into a swinging neckbreaker but walks into the Death Valley Driver for the fast pin.
Rating: C. Better match than I was expecting here but it was almost entirely because of Saturn. Kendall was just a big guy in jeans with no charisma at all but he could do basic moves in a ring. Saturn should be ready for a rocket push at this point but since this is WCW, he’ll be lucky to be in the TV Title scene.
Post match the former Flock comes down as Raven and Kanyon are seen in the stands. Raven says the Flock had their day of freedom but now it’s time to join him again. Saturn tells the individual people that they can be a star. Horace is a natural athlete, Kidman is so talented that he could win the Cruiserweight Title, Lodi……”How’s your neck bro?” Everyone but Lodi walks out but Kidman won’t let Lodi go back to Raven.
Renegade vs. Wrath
This isn’t going to last long. Renegade tries to get a good start in the corner but Wrath comes back with one of the hardest chops I’ve ever heard. The handspring elbow has no effect on Wrath and the Meltdown is good for the pin.
Here are Hogan, Bischoff, Liz (good lord with those chaps and jeans) and Disciple with something to say. Eric loves that he’s here and Flair isn’t. Hogan can’t stand cowards like Bret Hart with his pathetic injury and Warrior for sneaking up on him and stealing his chance at beating up Goldberg. Hogan will be at Hollywood Havoc (his words) if Warrior wants to fight him man to man…..and there’s the smoke. Hollywood talks the entire way through but there’s no Disciple when the smoke clears. Eric and Liz aren’t asleep either. Hogan: “WARRRRRRRIOR!!!!!!!!!!!!”
Hour #2 begins.
Apparently Kaz Hayashi is injured and can’t get his title shot tonight. Kidman will take his place.
Cruiserweight Title: Kidman vs. Juventud Guerrera
The fans aren’t sure who to cheer for here as things start fast. Some chops take Kidman down and Juvy rains down right hands in the corner to take over early. A missile dropkick sends Kidman to the floor as the fans are way into this. Kidman comes back in with a slingshot headscissors followed by a powerslam for two. We hit the chinlock on the champion but he fights up and gets a headscissors of his own.
A cross body from Juvy sends both guys to the floor and we take a break. Back with Guerrera getting two off a rollup but getting crushed by a slingshot legdrop. We go back to the chinlock for a bit before a lifting powerbomb (Sky High) takes Guerrer down for two. A wheelbarrow suplex gets the same but Juvy counters a belly to back suplex into a German suplex for two.
Guerrera goes up for a not great looking hurricanrana for another near fall before the Juvy Driver is countered into a reverse suplex from Kidman. The Shooting Star is countered with another hurricanrana but Juvy dives into another powerbomb. Kidman hits the Shooting Star for the pin, the title, and a BIG pop from the crowd.
Rating: B+. Excellent match here with both guys just going nuts for about fifteen minutes and one upping each other all match long. Kidman was one of the few guys that could hang with Guerrera in a high flying match and he more than did that here. The fans were going nuts here and the match was as good as anything we’ve seen on Nitro in months.
Saturn comes out to applaud Kidman.
Gene flags down a tuxedo clad JJ Dillon and thinks he saw Ric Flair. JJ won’t reveal anything.
Jackie Chan introduces us to a clip of his new movie Rush Hour.
Eddie Guerrero asks Bischoff for a meeting but Eric says he made Eddie a star and sends him to Japan. “No burritos over there!”
Barbarian vs. British Bulldog
Smith eventually knocks Barbarian down with a series of shoulder blocks and sends him to the floor off a clothesline. He follows Barbarian outside but gets rammed back first into the post to stop any momentum Bulldog had going. Back in and shoulder and backbreakers get two each for Barbarian and he be clubberin in the corner. Smith loads up the powerslam but Jimmy Hart grabs Barbarian’s foot to break it up. Another shot to the back puts Smith down so Barbarian can load up the big boot but he walks into the powerslam (minus the power and slam parts) for the pin.
Rating: D. I feel sorry for Smith given how bad his back was messed up at Fall Brawl and all the back work he had to get through here. The match itself was pure filler which isn’t the most exciting thing in the world, but at least it went on after a great match and let the fans come back down to earth a bit.
JJ is in the ring with Gene and says what Buff did last night was unacceptable. Unfortunately Scott Steiner went into the ring with his brother as he was ordered but the ending was a joke. Therefore, we’re getting the match again at Halloween Havoc. JJ gets ready to leave but the lights flicker and we get some maniacal laughing. I’m not a horror movie expert but that sounded like Chuckie from Child’s Play.
Nitro Girls in silver and the Nitro Party winner.
Jim Neidhart comes out for a match against a member of the NWO but the Warrior smoke fills the ring. The smoke clears and Warrior is in the ring with an unconscious Disciple. Neidhart leaves as the Black and White comes out. Warrior says we can live our lives as warriors or ordinary men. Hogan’s actions have only enhanced the OWN revolution and the actions of those men who will find the courage. The match is on for Halloween Havoc but Warrior warns Hogan that the graveyards are full of cowardly men. More smoke and Warrior and Disciple are gone.
Silver King/Norman Smiley vs. Scott Steiner
Norman starts for the team but Silver King comes in for his beating at the same time. Steiner casually beats up both guys with hard forearms and knees to the back. Silver King is powerbombed onto Norman and an awesome looking double Steiner Recliner gets the submission.
Nitro Girls again.
We look at Thunder with Eric Bischoff interfering in an Arn Anderson promo and issuing an arm wrestling challenge for Flair’s in ring future.
Hour #3 begins.
Giant vs. Meng
Meng slaps Giant back into the corner and kicks at the legs before they get into a brawl with neither guy going anywhere. Meng staggers Giant with a kick right to the face so the strap comes down. Giant hits him again and Meng is all FOREIGN SHOUTING. A headbutt has no effect on Meng and neither does a right hand to the head. Another kick to the face staggers Giant and Meng loads up the Death Grip, but Giant uses his reach advantage to grab the chokeslam as Meng can’t get to his throat. REALLY fun match for two minutes.
Scott Hall vs. Lex Luger
This is one of the most uncomfortable things I ever remember in wrestling. Hall comes out with a drink in his hand and is acting intoxicated. I get the idea of the character but when Hall has had so many issues in real life, it just never sat well with me. We get the survey and Hall is stumbling around. Hall tries to jump Luger at the bell but gets stared back down. No contact in the first minute.
Hall throws the toothpick in Lex’s face but backs away from a lockup attempt. They finally lock up but Hall can’t keep a hold on him. Hall walks around a bit more before going over for a drink. Vincent reluctantly gives him the cup and Hall falls on his way back inside. Luger tries a hiptoss and Hall stumbles some more, laughing all the way. A clothesline puts Hall down and he acts like he’s dead before rolling to the floor.
Scott comes back in and Luger takes him into the corner for a lecture. Here’s a ticked off Bischoff to ask Hall what he’s doing. Hall mocks him as Bischoff says he can’t save Hall from everything. Nash and Konnan come out as well and Scott gets upset, asking Nash where he was when his life was falling apart. Even Luger is on the floor around Hall now.
Scott has another drink but vomits all over Bischoff and the camera. Eric says go to a break. No rating of course as this was an angle but I’m not a fan of this at all. I get what they’re doing with it and everything, but I don’t like it being inspired by Hall’s real life troubles which weren’t under control at this point.
Here’s JJ in a tuxedo as you can feel the fans getting excited. Dillon has to talk over a WE WANT FLAIR chant and he asks Arn Andeson to come to the ring. Anderson comes out in a suit as well and the wildcat mascot is bowing. JJ apologizes to Arn for the things he said to him recently because that’s not what a friend is supposed to say to a friend. Anderson says you could smell the pop when these fifteen thousand people blew the roof off the building.
People have been asking him for a year for him to bring back the Horsemen. He has to start at the beginning because tonight is a new beginning for the Four Horsemen. Anderson always knew he wanted to be a wrestler and in 1986 he started coming to towns just like this as a member of the Horsemen. Then a year and a half ago he had a neck operation and his in ring career was over. Another Flair chant starts up. Anderson: “Trust me. You’ll get what you want tonight……Bischoff.”
Then Chris Benoit came to Arn and said this can all happen, so here are Benoit, Malenko and McMichael, all getting individual entrances. Anderson says there’s no finer wrestler than Chris Benoit in the world. McMichael is hard headed but all man and will mean to wrestling what he meant to football. Malenko has done his job while Anderson spent the last year talking about what it meant to be a Horseman. He told Malenko that he didn’t get it, but it was Anderson that didn’t get it.
People have told Anderson for years to bring back the Horsemen. Well the lesson is be careful what you ask for because they’re not nice guys that wear white hats. Mongo taps him on his shoulder and Anderson says he’s been accused of being hit in the head one too many times and having a touch of Alzheimer’s. “My God. I almost forgot the fourth Horseman. RIC FLAIR! GET ON DOWN HERE!”
The crowd doesn’t pop or explode. Instead they stand and applaud as Flair, with tears in his eyes, walks down the aisle, rocking a tuxedo as only he can. Arn: “Greenville, I give you the champ.” Flair can’t talk because of all the emotion. The ovation doesn’t stop and the Horsemen just drink it all in. Ric says this moment proves to him that the 25 years that he’s spent trying to entertain these people has been worth it. Someone told him that the most elite group that Eric Bischoff said was dead is alive and well.
Flair gets right to Bischoff, saying that this might be his only shot so he’s giving it his best. Is this what Bischoff means when he says he wants good TV? This is much more than that because it’s REAL. He goes back to a year ago when the Arn announced his retirement and says Sting was crying in the dressing room because it was so real. Bischoff crushed Anderson in one night with the NWO parody and then said disband the Horsemen because they’re dead. The next morning Flair looked himself in the mirror and saw a defeated man.
This brings out Bischoff but Flair calls him out for abusing power before Bischoff can even get to the ring and tells the technical guys to cut him off before he goes too far. Flair keeps ranting anyway with every insult he can think of for Bischoff and tells Eric to fire him because he’s already fired as we go to a break.
For those of you that remember WCW as being the clueless putz of a company that couldn’t do a thing right, this is as perfect of a moment as you’ll ever find in wrestling. I’m not the biggest Horsemen fan in the world and even knowing everything that was going to happen here, the hair on my neck was standing up for every word Flair was saying. It’s as good as WCW ever got and is one of the best moments I’ve ever seen in wrestling.
The announcers have no idea what to say and Heenan has the most genuine smile you’ll ever see on his face.
Here’s DDP, more commonly known as the unluckiest man ever for getting to follow that, with something to say. Actually he comes up to do commentary on the main event, but first welcomes Flair back. We get some stills of the cage match last night before we go to the title match.
WCW World Title: Goldberg vs. Sting
Goldberg immediately slams Sting down as the fans are behind the champion but not entirely. Sting picks Goldberg up in a powerslam position and rams him back first into the corner in a nice power display. A suplex puts Goldberg down but he’s on his feet before Sting, sending the challenger out to the floor. Back in and Sting’s slam attempt is knocked down. Sting dropkicks the champ for the same result as the suplex.
A headlock takes Goldberg down as Page says that’s what he would have done as well. Goldberg shoves him off and wins a test of strength before channeling Undertaker with a tombstone. Sting counters into one of his own and Goldberg is actually in trouble. A pair of Stinger Splashes have the champion staggered so there’s a third. Goldberg shrugs it off again but the spear hits the corner.
Sting chop blocks him down and puts on the Scorpion as the fans go nuts again. Goldberg pushes out of most of the hold and Sting can’t get it back on all the way. Hogan comes in and kicks Sting in the head which the referee somehow misses. Goldberg didn’t see Hogan either so the spear and Jackhammer retain the title.
Rating: C-. They had me going there for a bit even though the ending didn’t work. Goldberg vs. Sting is the kind of a match that should be headlining a major PPV but instead we get it on a Nitro after a single day of promotion. As usual, they care more about the single night of success rather than something that could have made millions on PPV.
Hogan goes after Goldberg until Hart comes out. The three heroes pose to end the show.
Overall Rating: B+. This is one of the best episodes Nitro has ever produced but it’s still not perfect. The Hall stuff doesn’t work for me and the lack of build for the main event gets on my nerves. On top of that you have a lot of filler here which didn’t build anything and just wasted time.
Then we get to perhaps the best segment Nitro ever had with the Horsemen. Since it’s WCW though the interesting question is how can they screw it up as we go forward, but at least the first night of the new Horsemen was as good as it could have been. Other than that there was an awesome Kidman vs. Juvy match to give us some excellent wrestling, meaning the good stuff more than outweighs the bad.
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