Mike Reviews – WCW Monday Nitro (6th of July 1998)

Hey Yo!

I decided to review this episode of because we’re a few days away from it being 23 years since Goldberg won the WCW Title (Spoiler) so why not go back and watch the entire show? This was a big night for WCW in the ratings, as hot shotting a Hogan Vs Goldberg match for the Title ended up ensuring Nitro won the ratings battle for the night quite easily. Of course, they’d also given away a sure fire money match that might have potentially destroyed their previous biggest buy rate, but if they’d held it off till a pay per view then Eric Bischoff couldn’t proudly declare that he won a single night of the ratings war, and that just wouldn’t do would it?

This event is emanating from the Georgia Dome

Calling the action are Tony Schiavone, Mike Tenay, Larry Zbyzko and Bobby Heenan

We open up with clips of James J Dillon announcing Hogan Vs Goldberg on Thunder.

The Nitro Girls Dance whilst the announcers hype the show. I don’t know why Independence Day is the one time Americans actually say a date the correct way around when you consider it celebrates a moment where they finally didn’t have to bow down to our limey monarchy anymore, but there you go.

Hollywood Hogan, Disciple Beefcake, Eric Bischoff and Elizabeth join us for our opening promo segment. Voodoo Chile is clearly being dubbed over here, and you can occasionally hear it a bit at points. That is one time I don’t blame WWE for not wanting to shell out the cash as Hendrix’s estate can be notoriously difficult when it comes to licensing out tracks, including a time they wouldn’t allow a biopic film to actually use any Hendrix music because they didn’t like the script. Hogan witters on for a while and it gets a bit boring in all honesty, but the general gist is that Hogan doesn’t think Goldberg deserves just to get a Title shot, so he’s got to beat another nWo guy first to earn it. The Heel stacking the deck is a tried and tested formula and it gives us a reason to stay tuned, so fair enough.

Some dude from Arkansas won a car last year and Mean Gene Okerlund quizzes him about how often he drives it. I do wonder why they bothered leaving this in, but it’s kind of fun that they did.

Opening Match
WCW TV Title
Champ: Booker T Vs Dean Malenko

Both of these guys are babyfaces, with Booker recently regaining the belt from Fit Finlay at The Great American Bash, whilst Dean Malenko had been feuding with Chris Jericho over the Cruiserweight Title. Booker T will defend the belt against Bret Hart at the Bash at the Beach pay per view if he can get past Dean here.

This is a decent opener, as they work it at a quick clip and do some nice back and forth action. Booker is super over with the crowd, and they pop big for all of his trademark moves, including a flapjack and Spinaroonie. Sadly the finish is pretty lame, as Jericho distracts Malenko with a promo and Booker pounces with the Scissors Kick for three.

WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: BOOKER T
RATING: **

Fun match, but I would have preferred a clean ending

Goldberg is doing push ups backstage and looking hench.

Karl Malone cuts a promo on Dennis Rodman ahead of Bash at the Beach.

Match Two
Kanyon Vs Raven w/ Lodi

Kanyon had been masked Mortal Kombat styled wrestler Mortis, but had removed the mask as part of his feud with Raven, which began when Raven refused to let him join his Flock. This feud got far too cute with all the twists and turns after a certain point, but the blow off at Fall Brawl 98 was genuinely fantastic and one of WCW’s better matches of the year.

This one is a brawl from the off, and it’s a good one as Raven was experienced at working that style of match after multiple years in ECW. A chair gets involved and Kanyon gives Raven a flapjack onto it for two (Raven’s matches were often fought under No DQ). Lodi helps Raven out by crotching Kanyon on the top rope, which leads to Raven superplexing him on the chair.

Perry Saturn joins us following that, as he was feuding with Raven at the time and didn’t really like Kanyon either. This leads to a DQ, as apparently a chair is okay but someone else running in isn’t. This is kind of the problem when you don’t have consistent match rules.

WINNER BY DISQUALIFICATION: RAVEN
RATING: *1/2

Going along just fine before the nonsensical ending

Saturn tries to splash Raven through a table post-match, but it doesn’t break, meaning I am contractually mandated to post the following;

Sorry, but rules is rules. Kanyon lays out Saturn following that too, so the wacky three-way feud continues.

Buff Bagwell and his mum Judy show up, with Buff in a wheelchair due to a mistimed Rick Steiner bulldog.

The Nitro Girls Dance #2

Last week, DDP and Karl Malone show up to Nitro in a truck looking for bother and fight off nWo Hollywood before showing up in the ring, where Malone gives Hogan a body slam to a big pop. This eventual DDP/Malone Vs Hogan/Rodman match ended up doing a big buy rate, so this sort of hype is appropriate, even though Hogan being ALL OVER the show like this is getting close to overkill.

DDP and Malone join Mean Gene in the ring for some promo time. DDP says this will be the worst week of Hogan’s life, which was half-true but he ended up winning the Main Event at The Beach, possibly because he agreed to do business on this show. This was a good promo from DDP, and Malone handled his end of things well too. They were both super over with the crowd too.

We get some promo time from Mongo McMichael, as he talks about joining The Four Horsemen because they were an elite group, just like the American Football teams he used to play for. This was a good promo from Mongo, and he was always good at that aspect of things even if his in-ring wasn’t always the best.

Match Three
Scott Putski Vs Scotty Riggs

It’s funny how Ivan Putski was a stocky powerhouse wrestler whilst his son is a pretty boy Frankie Kazarian lookalike. Riggs is a member of Raven’s Flock, with his gimmick being that he wears an eyepatch because Raven injured his eye before he joined the faction.

This is the first segment of the show where the fans don’t really care, mainly because Riggs was just fodder who got beaten up in order to protect Raven and Putski was never really pushed in WCW. The wrestling is okay for the most part, and Putski in particular certainly “looks” like a star with his excellent physique, but he doesn’t really have much in the way of ring presence.

Riggs gives a decent account of himself actually, with his stuff looking good, but the crowd doesn’t really care. I kind of feel for these guys being sent out there to die like this actually, but they try their best and work hard. Putski eventually wins it with a sit out spine buster, as it looks like they were trying to push him this week.

WINNER: SCOTT PUTSKI
RATING: *1/2

This was fine, but the crowd didn’t care

Goldberg is destroying a locker backstage.

Scott Hall arrives at the arena, as it looks like he’ll be the one facing Goldberg later on.

Match Four
WCW Cruiserweight Title
Champ: Chris Jericho Vs Ultimo Dragon

I do miss Jericho’s “Evenflow” knock off theme. It was always one of my favourite WCW tunes. Jericho cuts a fun promo pre-match, where he says Dean Malenko isn’t going to get another Title shot as the “sassy young Latino” Rey Mysterio Jr should get it instead. “Jo-Jo” Dillon shows up and chastises Jericho for his behaviour. Dean Malenko shows up, and Dillon reminds both men that if either of them attacks the other then they’re out of the match at Bash at the Beach. This leads to Jericho goading Malenko with insults until Dean finally loses his temper, meaning that he’s out of Bash at the Beach.

We take a break, and when we come back Dean has been removed and Dragon is making his entrance. This is the usual Jericho/Dragon match, and it’s good as they had decent chemistry together as opponents. Jericho  looks to have things in control, but Dean runs back out and beats him up some more, with Dragon being a surprisingly good sport about Dean costing him a chance at the Title.

WINNER BY DISQUALIFICATION: CHRIS JERICHO
RATING: *1/2

They never really had a chance to get going, but what we got was okay

Dean pulls out some of Jericho’s hair in the brawl, and gets arrested as a result.

The Nitro Girls Dance #3

Match Five
Johnny Swinger Vs Chavo Guerrero Jr

We get a Wild Cat Willy sighting during Swinger’s entrance. Swinger actually gets to cut a Heel promo prior to the match, and it’s decent if a bit generic. Chavo was doing the “crazy” gimmick here, with the idea being that his feud with Uncle Eddie Guerrero had caused him to snap and lose his mind. He enters in a hard hat, doing his best Mike Lovejoy impression.

Chavo is actually pretty over, with fans digging his wacky antics. He will be facing Eddie in a match at The Beach. The action is decent here, with Chavo looking good and Swinger doing some nice bumping and selling. Tornado DDT ends it pretty quickly for Chavo.

WINNER: CHAVO GUERRERO JR
RATING: SQUASH

Chavo cuts some of Swinger’s hair following that, but it’s only his split ends. Chavo throws down the challenge for a hair match, which he would eventually lose.

We get clips of Goldberg defeating Glacier to go 25-0. Whether this was a shoot or worked number by that stage I’m not sure. I know the win tracker started as a shoot but then became a work after a certain point.

Match Six
The Disco Inferno and Alex Wright Vs The Public Enemy

Disco and Alex both had dancing gimmicks, so they got put together as a fun under-card tag team called “The Dancing Fools”. There’s also a side story of dancing Japanese guy Magnum Tokyo trying to join in with them, which Disco and Alex don’t appreciate. He would eventually end up as a lackey for them though, which was more character development than a wacky Japanesian like him could normally expect to get from WCW in this era.

I think I’ve said before, but I don’t have anywhere near the same level of dislike for TPE as an act that most of the internet seems to. Yeah, I’m not going to pretend that they were great wrestlers, but as brawling mid-carders in hardcore matches they were just fine and could usually get over with their table breaking antics.

TPE get to shine on the Heels to start, with the ref seemingly happy to just let the two teams go at it without tags. Eventually things settle down into more of a standard tag match, with Johnny Grunge getting worked over by the Heels. The heat doesn’t last for long though and it’s soon hot tag Rocco, who smartly stays in the middle of the ring and lets the Heels come to him, which is usually the best way to work one of those hot tag segments.

Things break down into a brawl, with Grunge setting Wright up on some tables at ringside, but Magnum rescues him. The Dancing Fools bail on him though and that leads to poor Magnum getting tableised, with the tables actually breaking this time at least. The Dancing Fools return with metal bins and attack TPE though, leading to a DQ.

WINNERS BY DISQUALIFICATION: THE PUBLIC ENEMY
RATING: *

This was a bit of a mess in all honesty

The Dancing Fools taunt TPE after that and the feud would continue, leading to a match at Road Wild 1998.

Buff and Judy Bagwell join Mean Gene in the entrance way for a promo. Buff is in a wheelchair and cuts the big babyface promo about how happy he is to be back in his hometown. This should have led to Buff being a top babyface star taking on the nWo but they ended up turning him back Heel soon after and flushing it away.

Match Seven
WCW United States Title and #1 Contender Status
Champ: Goldberg Vs Scott Hall

If Goldberg wins here then he gets Hogan later. There are a few instances here where they don’t seem to be on the same page, but for the most part Hall holds this thing together pretty well and he’s a big enough dude that you can buy that he could actually have the monster on the ropes, meaning that Goldberg can believably sell.

They do the big shine where Goldberg keeps shoving Hall down and blocking all of his attempts at offence, with Hall bumping around big to make Goldberg look good before getting some token offence of his own. Goldberg doesn’t do a bad job selling in the heat, especially as this wasn’t something he had to do that much in his early career. The super-hot crowd helps a lot too, as they pop for literally everything Goldberg does.

Hall eventually decides he needs some back-up, which leads to Disciple and Vincent coming down, only for DDP and Karl Malone to put a stop to that. Hall still manages to get Goldberg in position for The Outsider’s Edge, but Goldberg back body drops out of it and finishes Hall off with the Spear and Jackhammer to retain his status as the #1 contender to the World Title.

WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: GOLDBERG
RATING: **

This was sloppy in places, but it had good energy and the crowd was into it

I’ve got to give WCW credit for this storytelling to be honest, as they gave the viewers a hook for the middle of the show with this match and now they’ve given them a reason to tune in later as well. Even if you’d never watched Nitro before, they’ve made Goldberg look like a beast in front of a hot crowd, which should have you suitably jazzed to see if he can come out later to win the Title.

The Nitro Girls Dance #4

Match Eight
Psicosis Vs Juventud Guerrera

These two had A LOT of matches during 1996-1999 in WCW, and this is just one of the many collisions between them. It represented a bit of a step back for Juvy, as he’d been given a bit of a token push after losing his mask where he worked with Heavyweights, but now he’s back to working in the Cruiserweight division again, which pretty much signifies the end of his push up the card.

This is good high flying action, with both Psi and Juvy taking spills to the floor at various stages. The crowd isn’t really that into it sadly, which is a shame as both guys are working hard and delivering some hot moves to boot. It’s mostly back and forth action, with Juvy eventually gaining control and winning it with the 450 Splash.

WINNER: JUVENTUD GUERRERA
RATING: **

They didn’t get much time, but what they did was fun

The Flock led by Kidman attack Juvy post-match as they were due to have a match at The Beach.

Tony hypes up a house show that you can listen to via this new-fangled thing called “the internet”. I’m not sure that’s going to catch on to be honest.

We get a Bash at the Beach hype video, as WCW have really done an excellent job hyping up this pay per view. They would never really hype a show as strong as this ever again and ironically they would never do as big a buy rate ever again either. I think they lost sight of the fact that getting people to buy the pay per views was the most important thing, with the quest for ratings eclipsing everything else.

Match Nine
The Giant Vs Jim Duggan

I don’t like Duggan’s chances here, although he is over with the crowd. Indeed, Duggan gets the odd bit of offence but ends up getting clobbered and choke slammed in due course. Giant was supposed to be teaming up with Curt Hennig against Goldberg and Kevin Greene at The Beach, but they ended up splitting that tag bout into two singles matches instead.

WINNER: THE GIANT
RATING: SQUASH

Giant grabs a mic post-match, sounding super blown up even though he barely did anything there, and insults Kevin Greene, challenging him to a singles match instead of a tag. Greene isn’t backing down though and comes down to the ring to spit in Giant’s eye and then clothesline him to the floor. Giant storms off following that rather than sticking around for some revenge. I can’t remember if the eventual match was any good. Goldberg basically just squished Hennig in their match.

Match Ten
Jim Neidhart Vs Diamond Dallas Page w/ Karl Malone

Anvil is a pretty odd choice of opponent for DDP here to be honest, as he’s not the sort of guy to give him a good match and he won’t be a good squash victim either, so DDP has to sell for a lower card guy in a heatless match when he’s in the Main Event of the next pay per view with a big audience watching. They couldn’t have just put him in there with a guy like El Dandy and done a fun squash? Anyway, DDP sells a bit for Anvil and then low blows him into a Diamond Cutter OUTTA NOWHERE!

WINNER: DDP
RATING: ½*

Kind of a waste of DDP, but at least he won

We get clips of Goldberg beating Konnan at The Great American Bash to go “100-0”, although I think they were definitely working the numbers by that stage.

Match Eleven
Sting and Lex Luger w/ Kevin Nash and Konnan Vs Kidman and Sick Boy w/ The Flock

Sting had defeated Giant at The Great American Bash to gain custody of the Tag Titles and had chosen Nash as his partner. Together all four of these guys are the “good” nWo Wolfpac faction, although the New World Order being “good” in any form was kind of an oxymoron. They still want to take over, but they just want to do it in a nicer way I guess.

We’re deep into the show now and it’s high time they just get the Main Event in there, so this is just a quick squash with Sting taking out Kidman with a Scorpion Death Drop whilst Luger puts Sick Boy in the Torture Wrack for the submission win. Sting and Nash would lose the tag straps to Hall and Giant in due course, making it kind of a wasted reign.

WINNERS: STING & LUGER
RATING: SQUASH

3 Hours is just WAY too long for a weekly television show, especially as it feels like they’re artificially extending it now so that Goldberg and Hogan can go into the overrun.

Main Event
WCW Title
Champ: Hollywood Hogan Vs Goldberg

Hogan does an excellent job here actually, as he knows exactly what to do in order to get Goldberg over, but he also realises that he has to get some offence in as well in order to make Goldberg’s eventual victory seem that much more impressive. Thus we do the shine where Goldberg overpowers Hogan and looks dominant, but then Hogan uses his veteran wiliness to take over for a bit by getting an unseen mule kick followed by flinging Goldberg into the railings outside the ring.

Goldberg does another good job of selling for a guy with his level of experience, and he eats some Leg Drops of DOOM, only to kick out. Curt Hennig joins us to try and help Hogan, but Malone follows him out and Diamond Cutters him on the floor OUTTA NOWHERE. Hogan is distracted by this and that allows Goldberg to get the Spear and Jackhammer for the three count and the Title.

WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: GOLDBERG
RATING: **1/2

Hogan held that together well and they did everything they could to get Goldberg over without making Hogan look weak, as Hogan got a decent chunk of offence in and then was distracted, but the only reason he was distracted in the first place was because his buddy came out when he didn’t need to as Hogan was doing okay for the most part. I basically love that, as it’s yet another example of wrestling being the ultimate morality play. Goldberg also got to kick out of Hogan’s finisher and shined on him in the early going, with Hogan only getting into it due to cheating, so he didn’t lose anything from the distraction finish. Top notch match structure!

Goldberg does the big celebration, looking like a big star in the process, but it was all downhill for him from here as he was shunted into the semi-main position most of the time whilst the promotion was still built around Hogan. In fact, he didn’t even have an official match on the Fall Brawl or World War III pay per view events, which is positively mental when you think about it.

In Conclusion

The Goldberg stuff was fantastic and they did an excellent job of hyping up the Bash at the Beach Main Event, but the show started to drag after a certain point and I was kind of relieved when it finally ended. Still, it’s definitely worth watching all of the Goldberg related matches and angles if nothing else. You can argue the merits of blowing a big match like that on TV, but it was certainly captivating television and if they’d actually been prepared to go all in on Goldberg as the top guy then this could have been a great launching pad to a series of lucrative matches, but alas it wasn’t to be.