Monday Nitro – January 19, 1998

Monday
Nitro #123
Date:
January 19, 1998
Location:
Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana
Commentators:
Mike Tenay, Bobby Heenan, Tony Schiavone, Larry Zbyszko
Reviewed by Tommy Hall
This
is the final Nitro before Souled Out and the main matches are already
set. The world title situation hasn’t been addressed at all since
the first episode of Thunder so it doesn’t look like we’re getting
Sting vs. Hogan II at the PPV. We are however getting Bret vs. Flair
in what has been a very well built up feud. The main event tonight
is Hogan vs. Giant, hopefully without Robin Hood. Let’s get to it.

The
Nitro Girls dance to open the show.
Eddie
Guerrero vs. Rick Martel
Eddie
jumps Martel before the bell but Rick rams him into the buckle to
take over. A middle rope clothesline sets up a gorilla press on
Eddie to send him out to the floor. Back in and Martel snaps off
some quick armdrags and Eddie is getting frustrated. Guerrero goes
after the knee to take Martel down and puts on a quick side leg lock.
The slingshot hilo hits Martel’s leg and a belly to back suplex gets
two. Eddie spends too much time bragging and gets caught in a
spinebuster and the Quebec Crab for the tap out.
Rating:
C-. This was really quick but
it was nice while it lasted. There was a nice little story here as
Eddie took out the leg but got too cocky and got caught. For a three
minute match, that’s about as effective as you can get. Martel
continues to look like he hasn’t lost a step despite not being a
regular competitor for years now while Eddie was smooth as always.
We
see the end of Thunder with the NWO imploding again as Nash and
Savage are on the verge of completely disintegrating. They slapped
each other during the match and Hogan had to play peacekeeper. Post
match Hogan accidentally hit Savage to make the problems even worse.
Giant and Sting ran out for the save and stood tall to end the show.
Here
are Hogan and Bischoff with something to say. Eric has Sting’s bat
for some reason and presents it to Hogan as a trophy. Hogan says
that the NWO has a pecking order and everyone is going to fall in
line as they’re supposed to. If anyone steps over the line, they’ll
have to answer to Hogan and the bat. He knows everyone is praying to
God to rectify the situation with the world title and put the belt
back where it belongs. As for Giant, Hogan is proving he’s a
fighting champion by beating him tonight before moving on to Sting
and for Hogan’s world title.
Chris
Benoit vs. Marty Jannetty
The
announcers say that this is a match Benoit has been wanting for
awhile. Benoit starts pounding away on Jannetty but gets caught in a
headscissors to give Marty a breather. A superkick puts Benoit down
followed by the jumping fist drop for no cover. Benoit gets a boot
up in the corner and takes Jannetty’s head off with a back elbow.
Marty actually wins a slugout in the corner and gets two off a knee
lift.
Benoit
blocks a suplex into a snap suplex of his own for one before throwing
Marty to the outside. Jannetty slides through the legs to get back
in before slamming Benoit face first into the mat. Here’s the Flock
in the aisle but Benoit takes Jannetty down into the Crossface for
the fast submission.
Rating:
C. This was better than I was
expecting. Jannetty really was better than people gave him credit
for and he’s been showing that a bit in WCW. He more than held his
own against Benoit and didn’t look bad in his other matches so far.
Benoit looked good as well here in his tuneup match for Raven on
Saturday and the Crossface came out of nowhere for the finish.
Post
match the Flock storms the ring but Benoit fights them off and stares
Raven down. The distraction lets Saturn get in a cheap shot but
Jannetty comes up to make the save. Marty dives onto most of the
Flock so Benoit can swan dive onto Lodi.
Jerry
Flynn vs. The Cat
It’s
Ernest Miller in his more famous persona. Flynn kicks him in the
chest to start before countering a kick into a quick ankle lock. Cat
makes the ropes and puts on a cross armbreaker which is broken just
as quickly. Flynn comes back with a clothesline and a chop but
Miller hits an enziguri as the martial arts begin. Cat hits his top
rope spin kick for the fast pin. Short match here but it’s clear
that UFC is starting to become an influence on professional
wrestling.
Here’s
Scott Hall with something to say. After the NWO wins, Hall says that
he isn’t worried about Zbyszko because he gets the title shot at
SuperBrawl no matter what. Hall calls out Larry for only being AWA
World Champion (mentioned by name for the first time here) because
his father in law was world champion and for the company going under
with Larry on top. Hall says Dusty is a better wrestler turned
announcer and Larry doesn’t want any of Hall. Larry says he wants
him on Saturday and heads to the ring as we take a break.
Buff
Bagwell/Konnan vs. Steiner Brothers
Scott
starts with Buff and it’s time for a pose down. Buff hiptosses him
down and takes Scott into the corner, only to be pounded down with
forearms to the back. A belly to back puts Buff into the ropes and
it’s off to Konnan. Scott speeds things up and leapfrogs over Konnan
before nailing him with a clothesline. A running gorilla press sends
Konnan rolling to the floor as it’s all Scott so far. DiBiase yells
at him to tag but Scott doesn’t seem interested.
Back
to Buff who is powerslammed into the Tree of Woe in the corner so
Scott can choke away. He shoves the referee before being whipped
into Konnan’s knee, allowing Buff to clothesline Scott to the floor.
Rick finally comes over to make the save for his first action at all
in the match. Konnan and Buff take turns pounding away as Scott
isn’t interested in tagging. Scott clotheslines both NWO guys down
and knocks Buff to the floor. The Steiner Screwdriver (now just an
over the shoulder tombstone for safety’s sake) hits Konnan for the
pin. Rick did nothing other than the save on the floor.
Rating:
C-. Scott’s heel turn is
working well so far but we’re still in the early stages. At this
point the team is winning most of their matches and Scott is looking
more and more dominant every time he’s out there. Rick and Ted can’t
get through to him but the team is winning so they don’t have much to
complain about.
Scott
and Buff pose at each other post match with Buff running from a
showdown. Rick stares at Scott but Scott walks away and celebrates
on his own.
Hour
#2 begins so the announcers recap the events of the first hour.
Here’s
Giant with something to say. While he can’t touch Kevin Nash, he’s
got the chokeslam for Hogan tonight. This brings out Nash with a cup
of coffee and Hogan with the ball bat. Nash gets in Giant’s face but
here’s Savage to go after Nash. Hogan calls him off but Savage comes
in and knees Hogan into Nash, sending Nash into Giant. Nash throws
the coffee into a ticked off Giant’s face but Hogan hits Giant with
the bad. Sting runs out and gives Hogan the Death Drop to take his
bat back. Giant is on his feet again about twenty seconds after Hulk
Hogan hit him in the back with a bat. That’s an impressive recovery.
Nitro
Girls.
TV
Title: Mortis vs. Booker T
They
slug it out to start as the announcers talk about Nitro going to
three hours next week. Booker hits a quick ax kick and cranks on an
armbar for a bit. Mortis avoids an elbow drop but Booker Spinaroonis
up and hits a side kick to knock Mortis to the floor. Back in and
Booker slingshots into a northern lights suplex by Mortis for two.
Mortis loads up a top rope frankensteiner but Booker counters into a
scary looking powerbomb off the top. Mortis is dead and the Harlem
Hangover is good for the pin to retain.
Rating:
C-. This wasn’t much to see but
the slingshot into the northern lights suplex looked great. The
match was just a quick win for Booker which is fine as it allows him
to get on TV and showcase what he can do for a few minutes. It’s
also a good sign that WCW can throw different people out there to
challenge for the title instead of having the same few guys challenge
over and over again.
Post
match Wrath comes out to lay Booker out but Rick Martel makes the
save. He asks for a title shot at the PPV and Booker says if it’s ok
with the company it’s ok with him.
Here’s
Flair for the hard sell for the match with Hart. Flair immediately
takes the jacket off and says he’s here to wake the dead and make
little girls talk out of their head. He takes the mic and lays on
the mat, telling Bret to Scorpion this. Cue Bret as Flair gets on
the apron. Hart praises Flair as one of the greatest wrestlers of
all time but Bret has been waiting for this moment his entire life.
It’s
like he’s starting his career over again against Ric Flair, and Bret
is going to run over Flair on Saturday. Flair can compare their
histories, but on Sunday morning Flair is going to wake up and feel
that Bret is the best there is, was and ever will be. Flair says
that he respects Bret’s family and he’s giving Bret one more chance
to say that Ric is the best ever. Bret smiles at him and says that
Flair will know who the best is on Sunday morning.
We
look at Jericho attacking Mysterio last week on Nitro and costing him
the Cruiserweight Title match. The announcers also talk about
Mysterio winning the title on Thursday, setting up a title defense
against Jericho on Saturday.
Chris
Jericho vs. Juventud Guerrera
Juvy
gets a quick sunset flip for two and monkey flips Jericho into the
ropes to frustrate Jericho again. Jericho offers a handshake but
clotheslines Juvy down to take over. Guerrera seems to be a face
here despite being a heel against Mysterio last week. Jericho can’t
hit a tornado DDT and gets rolled up for two. Juvy hits a top rope
spinwheel kick for two more but misses a charge and falls out to the
floor to stop his momentum cold. Jericho holds the ropes open and
kicks Guerrera as he comes back in, setting up the Liontamer for the
submission.
Rating:
C-. This was just a quick match
to give Jericho more momentum leading into his title shot against
Mysterio at the PPV. Jericho’s turn has been well built up to this
point and it’s really easy to hate him given his actions. You put
that against a natural hero in Rey and you get a good match as a
result. It’s basic booking but very effective.
Jericho
takes his time to let the hold go and says it’s because Juvy didn’t
make it clear that he gave up. Chris jumps Juvy but Rey runs out for
the save, setting up a double team on Jericho.
Scott
Hall vs. Lex Luger
Hall
throws his toothpick at Luger so Lex slaps him in the face. They
fight over a lockup until Luger shoves Hall into the corner and
flexes a lot. Hall wants a test of strength but suckers Luger into a
double arm crank instead of trying his luck. The fans are distracted
by something in the crowd so the hold stays on for a good while.
Luger finally counters into the same hold on Hall but Scott kicks him
low to escape.
Hall
stomps away and puts on a sleeper, only to have Luger counter into
one of his own. As is always the custom with this counter to Hall’s
sleeper, Scott quickly breaks the hold but gets punched down. Luger
fires off the atomic drops and clotheslines but Savage runs in for
the DQ before the Rack goes on.
Rating:
D. The arm hold screwed a lot
of this up but it wasn’t much of a match either way. Luger and
Savage are fighting again at the PPV in a match that really doesn’t
have much of a story other than WCW vs. NWO, which isn’t much to base
a major match on. There was no mention of Zbyszko vs. Hall during
the entire match either.
Hall
and Savage stomp Luger down until Zbyszko runs out and is beaten down
as well. Lex makes the save with a chair.
The
Giant vs. Hollywood Hogan
Hogan
comes to the ring in a neck brace, talking about how Giant caused his
injuries. Bischoff says that Hogan can’t fight tonight so Giant
lifts him off the floor and suplexes him into the ring as the bell
sounds. There goes the neck brace and Giant hits a quick running
clothesline in the corner. Nash has come out to ringside as Giant
chokes in the corner with his boot ala Big Kev.
They
head to the floor with Hogan being rammed into the barricade. In a
really impressive power display, Giant presses Hogan over his head
and back inside over the top rope. Nash distracts Giant and Hogan
FINALLY gets in a shot to the back to take over. Hollywood pounds
away in the corner and chokes Giant down before hitting the big boot
to the chest. Just like the old days, Hogan slams him down and drops
the leg but Savage comes out to distract Hogan. Giant pops up and
the chokeslam ends the match.
Rating:
C-. It’s really hard to
complain about seeing Hogan wrestle for free on Nitro against a big
named guy. The match was really just a backdrop for the NWO drama
but it was still entertaining stuff. Hogan’s abilities when he’s in
his comfort zone are often forgotten because of how bad he can be at
times, but almost any time you get to see him against a monster you
get an entertaining match.
Post
match Giant goes after Savage, Nash goes after Savage, Luger runs out
to go after Savage, and the NWO comes in for the save. Sting repels
from the ceiling into the crowd (after running to the ring earlier)
and finally clears the ring of the NWO. WCW stands tall to end the
show.
Overall
Rating:
B-. With only one bad
match and some great buildup for Souled Out, it’s hard to find much
to complain about here. It’s really interesting to see how well WCW
was clicking at this point given how bad things fell apart just a few
months later. This was an entertaining show and it made me want to
watch Souled Out so the show is a success.
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