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Monday Nitro – January 4, 1999

Monday
Nitro #170
Date:
January 4, 1999
Location:
Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Georgia
Attendance:
38,809
Commentators:
Larry Zbyszko, Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan, Mike Tenay
Reviewed by Tommy Hall
We
had to get here eventually. This is the show that a lot of people
people credit with putting WCW down a hole that it was never going to
get out of. The main event here is Goldberg vs. Nash II for Nash’s
World Title, but the major story coming out of last week is Flair
winning control of the company for 90 days by defeating Eric
Bischoff. I’m sure that will go perfectly smoothly. Let’s get to
it.

We
open with dramatic clips from Goldberg vs. Nash at Starrcade.
Nitro
Girls in the ring and we get balloons and confetti.
There’s
a Nitro Party in a suite.
Hogan
is here tonight.
Glacier
vs. Hugh Morrus
The
announcers go on about the end of last week’s show and explain why
Savage would want to hurt Bischoff (Bischoff helped the NWO destroy
Savage’s knee in a cage last year). Glacier’s now in a shorter
singlet and the look really doesn’t work. Morrus throws him down to
start until Glacier cranks on the arm to take over. Hugh grabs a
powerslam and both guys are down. Glacier legsweeps him down but
gets leveled with a clothesline, setting up No Laughing Matter to
give Morrus the pin. Not long enough to rate but a nice return for
Morrus after a few months off.
The
announcers talk about Flair a bit more.
Opening
sequence, finally with some new video.
Arn
Anderson, Ric Flair and the Flair Family walk from the parking lot
into the arena. A lot of the backstage workers applaud Flair on the
way to the ring. They finally make it to the ring with Benoit, Mongo
and Malenko joining Anderson and the Flairs. Ric talks about Eric
Bischoff ruining this company but it still being the greatest
wrestling company in the world. The people have been asking what
Flair is going to do to Bischoff on his first night. Flair tells
Eric to get out here right now to talk to the boss.
An
angry Bischoff gets in the ring and Flair says the shoes are on
different feet tonight. Flair talks about Eric insulting him over
the years on commentary and running down Ric’s career. The easy
thing would be for Flair to just fire Bischoff, but that wouldn’t be
fun. Instead, Bischoff is going to be working under Tony Schiavone
and doing commentary. Also since Bischoff won’t be visible on
commentary, his pay is cut in half. Next up for Flair is referee
Randy Anderson. Randy, stricken with cancer, was fired by Bischoff
about two years ago. Flair calls him to the ring and offers him his
job back at double the salary.
With
Flair still in the ring, Tony walks Bischoff through the segment
list. Bischoff’s disgusted reply is amusing. This leaves Flair with
his first match to make. He’ll start with Souled Out, where he’s
booking himself into a handicap match with Barry Windham and Curt
Hennig. David Flair steps up and asks to be his father’s partner in
the match. Ric says David isn’t ready but Arn says David knows what
he’s doing.
Booker
T. vs. Emery Hale
The
needling continues with Tony telling Eric to jump in at any time.
Hale jumps Booker to start and stomps away in the corner, only to
charge into a spinebuster. The side kick sets up the missile
dropkick and Hale is done in less than 90 seconds. Eric still hasn’t
talked other than one sentence.
Nitro
Girls.
Bischoff
is looking away with his feet on the desk. Tony: “Don’t make me
file a report with Mr. Flair.
Norman
Smiley vs. Chavo Guerrero Jr.
Chavo
fires off chops to start and dropkicks Norman out to the floor. Eric
still won’t talk. Back in and Norman runs Chavo over but stops to
glare at Pepe. A World’s Strongest Slam gets two on Guerrero but he
comes back with a few rollups for two each. The Big Wiggle allows
Chavo to dropkick him down and now Chavo dances some as well. Chavo
botches a springboard and then slightly botches a rollup for two.
Back up and Guerrero grabs a sunset flip for the pin.
Rating:
D+. The match was just there
for background noise as Chavo is still doing the same stuff he’s done
for months now. Smiley is still over but I’m not sure why you would
have him lose a match like this. I mean, this man was on Starrcade!
Nothing to see here but it’s the first hour of Nitro so what do you
expect?
Norman
beats up Chavo and breaks Pepe’s head off to turn into a serious heel
rather than a goofy one.
Chris
Benoit vs. Horace Hogan
Benoit
gets a jobber’s entrance. Horace
gets beaten down in the corner but comes back with a running
clothesline. Another clothesline misses and Benoit rolls some
Germans as Tony threatens to demote Eric to the international
broadcasts. Horace throws
Benoit out to the floor and drives him into the barricade in a nice
crash.
Back
in and a clothesline gets two for Horace before Tony rubs it in that
Randy Anderson is referee. Horace
goes up but gets superplexed down. The Swan Dive connects but Benoit
is holding his head instead of covering. Horace
gets two off a shoulder breaker but his suplex is countered into the
Crossface to give Benoit the win.
Rating:
C-. Not the worst match in the
world and it’s nice to see Benoit survive until the end. Horace
wasn’t terrible as a big guy for roles like this and the match worked
well enough. That Swan Dive continues to make me cringe though as
Benoit’s head just smacked off Horace.
And
now it begins. Goldberg is arrested for charges that aren’t
explained yet. He goes on a rant about all the good things he does
for this community. Goldberg talks more here than he has in his
entire time in the company. No charge is ever mentioned but he
eventually goes “downtown.”
After
a break, Goldberg is taken to a police car. Nash says this can’t
happen because they have a match tonight. Hogan shows up and laughs,
saying he’s an honest man and calling Goldberg guilty. He’ll
appreciate Nash’s vote too. As he walks by, Liz is seen talking to
cops.
Perry
Saturn vs. Chris Jericho
Feeling
out process to start with Saturn slapping Jericho in the face.
Referee Scott Dickinson, who has been having issues with Saturn
lately, yells at Saturn about throwing a punch. They trade
wristlocks with Saturn getting the better of it before heading to the
corner. A release overhead belly to belly sends Jericho flying and
Saturn fires off kicks in the corner.
Saturn
goes to the apron and Jericho nails the springboard dropkick to send
him out to the floor. Chris does the long strides but there’s
nowhere near as much energy to it. We take a break and come back
with Jericho nailing a belly to back suplex followed by its vertical
cousin for an arrogant two. Satur’s Death Valley Driver doesn’t work
but a t-bone suplex gets two on Jericho. The referee gets hit in the
jaw by mistake before Jericho pulls him in the way of a diving
Saturn. A low blow and the Lionsault sets up the Liontamer but
Dickinson calls for the bell before Jericho turns him over. Jericho
wins.
Rating:
C-. This corrupt referee
nonsense is getting annoying in a hurry, just like Saturn getting
beaten all the time. Jericho knew he was leaving at this point and
it was clear that he didn’t have the same energy. He’s still doing
his old standards but a lot of them are really lackluster.
We
go to the police precinct, which Tony points out “is across the
street at the CNN Center.” Remember that as it becomes important
later. They’ll be in room
three as the cameras are already waiting for them. Apparently
Goldberg is being charged with aggravated stalking by Elizabeth
Lebetski, more commonly known as Miss Elizabeth. Goldberg
knows the cop and tells him to do his job because the cop knows this
is bogus. I believe the
charges were originally going to be rape but Goldberg refused to do
it.
Nitro
Girls. Larry gets in a good line about how these are real women, as
opposed to Liz who has tried to be a Miss five times now.
Back
to the Nitro Party where we’ve got thumb wrestling. Like as a
featured event. A JAIL
BREAK chant starts up.
We
go back to the station where Liz is being interviewed. She
says Goldberg last confronted her at the water cooler. Liz says
she’s filed three reports already because Goldberg has been at every
show she’s been at, at the hotels and at the gym. Again,
this is more talking than she’s ever done in WCW. The detective goes
off to talk with his partner.
Here’s
a long segment of an LWO party with low riders, a lot of women and
Eddie running things. They
head inside for dancing to mariachi dancing and Eddie says he’s on
top of the Latino world. Now there’s a card game with Eddie trading
cards with other LWO members to win. Eddie says they’re united
together and that’s about it. This ran nearly four minutes.
Kidman/Rey
Mysterio Jr. vs. Psychosis/Juventud Guerrera
Tornado
match. Well in name only as
they start with tags. Psychosis nails an early backbreaker on Kidman
before it’s off to Juvy who gets dropkicked a few times. Off
to Rey for a nice top rope hurricanrana before he throws Juvy at
Kidman for the sitout powerbomb. Rey pulls Juvy out to the floor but
Psychosis gets in a shot of his own, setting up a slingshot legdrop
to the floor to crush Rey.
Back
in and Psychosis nails a top rope ax handle as Heenan asks Bischoff
if he remembers calling the early shows with Mongo. Tony promises to
deliver the World Title match they advertised. Juvy hits a
backbreaker of his own on Mysterio before it’s back to Psychosis who
gets dropkicked out of the air.
Everything
breaks down which Tony says is perfectly legal. Kidman and Mysterio
clothesline the LWO outside for big planchas off the top. Back
in and a springboard Doomsday Device of all things gets two on
Psychosis but Juvy comes back with the Driver for two on Mysterio.
Everything breaks down again and Kidman’s missile dropkick
accidentally hits Rey, allowing Psychosis to hit the guillotine
legdrop for the pin on the masked man.
Rating:
C+. This was the fun you expect
from these kind of matches, but the tornado stuff was some
combination of unnecessary and confusing. The referee and wrestlers
didn’t seem to know it was under tornado rules but Tony kept
insisting it was. It’s interesting to see some drama between Rey and
Kidman as a match between the two could be awesome.
Goldberg
has an explanation for why he’s always at the same places Elizabeth:
they work for the same company and she’s a member of the gym he owns.
The fact that they work together comes as a surprise to the
detective.
Here’s
Nash to address the Goldberg situation. He doesn’t think he beat
Goldberg at Starrcade because Goldberg got screwed that night. Nash
doesn’t buy the stories Liz is telling and thinks Hogan is behind it.
Therefore, Nash wants Hogan tonight as a warmup for later tonight
when he fights Goldberg. Flair comes out and says
if Goldberg can’t make the match, Hogan can take his place.
Video
on Goldberg vs. Nash.
Liz
tells the original detective’s partner the story but the details are
different (Coke machine instead of water cooler). The original
detective comes back in. Goldberg calls her all the time but hangs
up before anything is said. The detectives don’t ask how she knows
it’s him and Liz rants about being the victim.
Here’s
Hogan in a black suit with something to say. Hogan
says the wrestling world still revolves around him but he came here
to announce his retirement. He’s also going to announce his running
mate but seeing Goldberg made him sick. Hogan thinks he owes the
fans a retirement match so he’ll give them one tonight. Gene
says the match would be a title match so Hogan agrees.
Schiavone:
“Fans, if you’re even thinking about changing the channel to our
competition, fans do not. We understand that Mick Foley, who
wrestled here one time as Cactus Jack, is going to win their World
Title.”
I
get the idea WCW was going for with this line and the idea makes
sense to a degree, but when you think about it there’s much more
potential for harm than good. On the other hand, giving away results
worked for WCW in the past so it’s logical to do it again, even in
very different circumstances. The
idea of one show being taped as opposed to live doesn’t make much of
a difference to me though. A show being live or taped doesn’t matter
if the show is still horrible.
We
get a clip of Jericho praising Scott Dickinson earlier in the day and
saying a wrestler should never touch a referee. Jericho says Saturn
should get disqualified if he ever touches Dickinson again. Was this
really necessary?
TV
Title: Scott Steiner vs. Konnan
Both
name graphics say Television Champion even
though Scott is defending. Before
the match, Buff dances a bit and fakes a heart attack to mock Flair.
Konnan starts fast but gets
taken down by a single forearm to the back. Some right hands in the
corner and a clothesline put Steiner down and the fight heads to the
floor. Tony repeats the Cactus Jack line and actually says HA HA at
the thought of Foley winning the title.
Buff
gets in some cheap shots on the floor before Scott stomps on Konnan’s
head back inside. The
announcers spend about half the match talking about how Bischoff
isn’t going to say anything and about the Goldberg issues. Konnan
comes back with a tornado DDT (looked more like he was trying a small
package) before missing the rolling lariat and botching the X-Factor.
Bagwell comes in for the DQ before the Sunrise can go on.
Rating:
F. They botched a bunch of
spots, I had to listen to unfunny jabs at Bischoff, and the HA HA
line. Terrible match with commentary making it even worse.
Post
match Konnan gets beaten down with a chair.
The
announcers talk about the Goldberg situation. Tony again mentions
that the precinct is across the street. Eric: “Goldberg is jail
bait.”
Wrath
comes out and actually grabs a mic. He’s been destroying people for
six months and wants anyone in the back to come out here and take a
beating.
Bam
Bam Bigelow vs. Wrath
They
stare each other down to start with Wrath’s shots only having a
limited effect. A running
clothesline puts Bigelow down but he low bridges Wrath to the floor.
They head back inside with
Bigelow nailing some elbows to the back of the head. Outside again
with Wrath taking over with knees to the ribs. Bigelow sends him
into the barricade and back into the ring before grabbing a chair.
The referee moves the chair
and the distraction lets Wrath nail a backdrop. They head outside
for the third time and the referee goes down, causing him to throw
the match out.
Rating:
D+. Take two guys and let them
beat each other up for awhile. It was barely a match and there’s
nothing wrong with that. It’s nice to see Wrath get to hang with
someone of Bigelow’s caliber, even though this is a demotion for
Bigelow. At least they dropped the idea of him not being on the
roster.
They
brawl to the back.
Back
and the precinct, the detectives start poking holes in Liz’s story as
she can’t remember details. The fact that she can’t remember the
difference between water and Coke (or Pepsi, which she said she got
out of a Coke machine), says a lot about Liz’s abilities. She keeps
looking at her watch as she gets the color of Goldberg’s tights
wrong. They threaten to charge her with perjury and
Liz realizes she had the wrong wrestler.
Tony
is aghast at these developments.
We’ve
got roughly forty minutes left in the broadcast for Goldberg to get
back to the arena.
Nitro
Girls.
Bischoff
waves to the camera as the announcers talk about the World Title
match later tonight. Bobby
says Goldberg will come to the arena naked if need be.
Brian
Adams vs. Diamond Dallas Page
Anderson
calls for the bell, starts counting Adams on the floor, then calls
for the bell again to start the match. Adams
hides in the corner to start but
Page hammers away with rights and lefts. Brian bails to the floor so
Page dives over the top rope to take out both Adams and Vincent.
There’s barely any selling though as Adams stomps away back inside to
take over.
We
come back from a break with Page fighting out of a chinlock as Tony
brags about it being live again. A swinging neckbreaker puts Adams
down but Brian nails a low blow in the corner to stop Page cold. We
hit a bearhug and Eric says “by golly” for no apparent reason.
Adams gets two off a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker but
Page grabs his running DDT to put both guys down. Page
nails a quick clothesline and goes to the middle rope for a jumping
Diamond Cutter and the pin.
Rating:
C. The ending looked good but
could have looked great had they stuck the landing (Page partially
landed on his legs instead of his back but it was fine). Adams is
good int his role as he has a few good powre moves and seems like a
moderately difficult dragon for a hero to slay.
Goldberg
is released from custody as we go to a break. We’ve got roughly
twenty minutes left in the show and he made it from the arena to the
station in less than ten minutes by car earlier.
WCW
World Title: Kevin Nash vs. Hollywood Hogan
Nash
is defending of course.
Hogan is in street clothes
and has Scott Steiner with him. Nash
counters with Scott Hall, whose actions at Starrcade are apparently
forgiven. The bell rings,
Nash rips his shirt off, Hogan circles him for a bit, Nash says bring
it and shoves Hogan into the corner, and the finger to the chest
gives Hogan the title at 1:40.
Goldberg
arrives less than 30 seconds later as Bischoff is already gloating.
That’s not terrible as far
as him getting back to the arena in a reasonable time. Goldberg
hits the ring and kicks down everyone not named Hogan. Some of the
weakest belt shots ever have Goldberg on one knee but he’s right back
up to spear (almost zero impact) Hogan down. Luger comes out to
break up the Jackhammer and the huge beatdown is on. Goldberg gets
put in the Rack before being cuffed to the ropes.
Hall
busts out the shock stick to jab into Goldberg’s side (with Bischoff
providing sound effects). Goldberg gets the red spray paint
treatment on his back and black on his head. Hogan spray paints a
red NWO on the belt to close the show. Tony in
a defeated voice: “They’re
back together. Again.”
Overall
Rating:
D+. That’s omitting the
big angle. This show just wasn’t very good for the most part with
the usual array of boring Nitro matches that either meant anything or
were nothing we hadn’t seen before. As usual the cruiserweight match
was good but with Eddie being gone, it really doesn’t mean anything.
This was far more boring than bad.
Then
there’s the moment that people still talk about over fifteen years
later. The idea of having
Goldberg have to run through a bunch of opponents to get the title
back is a good idea. Unfortunately, that’s about the extent of the
good to this story. Let’s look at this one item at a time.
1.
Why did Nash do this? He won the title fairly (remember that
Starrcade was No DQ) and had the belt free and clear. Out of loyalty
to Hogan? A man who as far as we knew, he had split with about nine
months ago? We’ll come back to this later, but for now it brings us
to the first major issue with this.
2.
The title looks worthless. Nash had it all to himself and then he
literally handed it over to Hogan, basically saying “I don’t want
this. Here you take it.” If a big star like Nash says it’s
worthless, why would I want to see anyone else fight for it in the
future? How do I know that they won’t just hand it off to someone
they think deserves it more?
3.
Back to the first point, we could assume either it’s a massive swerve
and that there never was a real split or the problems between the NWO
camps were hashed out somewhere in between. Either way, it makes
pretty much everything since May look completely pointless. The NWO
factions going to war? All patched up. The bickering and people
jumping from team to team? Doesn’t matter. Nash talking about how
the Red and Black is forever and the Black and White was just for
life? Nothing more than another catchphrase. Now everything is back
where it was when Savage took the title from Sting and then lost it
to Hogan the next night. That brings us to possibly the biggest
problem of this whole thing.
4.
IT’S HOGAN AGAIN. At the end of the day, Hogan is standing tall as
champion with his army around him and it’s likely going to be months
before anyone can challenge him. Yeah we’ve got Flair and Goldberg
on WCW’s side and one faction is done, but we’re basically back to
some point in 1997 instead of going forward.
5.
While it’s not directly related to the story, the Foley match getting
free advertising makes things even worse. If this is just a normal
week in the Monday Night Wars, you could have watched one or the
other. If you see the Foley title win, it’s an emotional moment with
a new star being made and probably the loudest moment ever in
wrestling. On the other hand, you have WCW doing the same stuff
they’ve done for years with the same people on top and the same story
being set up that we spent all of the better part of two years going
through. If you don’t have that comparison to make, what happens on
Nitro is nowhere near as bad.
Overall,
it just wasn’t a well thought out move. There’s a nice idea at the
end, but the rest of the story just does not work. Hogan just wasn’t
what people wanted to see again and when you combine this with
Bischoff beating Flair eight days ago, it was clear that the company
wasn’t interested in listening to what the people were wanting. The
time for the NWO being on top had passed, but WCW decided to go back
to the well again. I understand that it worked once, but it wasn’t
working this time.
To
answer a question that is often asked, no, this wasn’t what killed
WCW. It was a moment that hurt them, but overall the company had a
lot more moments to come that would hurt and ultimately kill them.
An important thing to keep in mind was that Nitro had won a night in
the ratings wars less than three months ago. The WWF had been in far
worse shape than this at times and it was hard to tell how much more
steam Austin vs. McMahon had at this point. It didn’t turn out well
for WCW, but they still had a lot more chances to make a comeback in
the future.
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