Previously on the Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro: Knowing that Hydra (the nWo) had infiltrated the top levels of SHIELD (WCW), Nick Fury (The Ultimate Warrior) decided to create SWORD (the “One Warrior Nation”) to counter it and address greater threats. Also, Aunt May (Rowdy Roddy Piper) got a brain worm and is competing in Secret Wars (War Games).
Click here to watch this week’s episode on WWE Network. You can catch up with all the previous episodes of WCW Monday Nitro on the Best and Worst of Nitro tag page and all the episodes of Thunder on the Best and Worst of Thunder. Follow along with the competition here.
Remember, if you want us to keep writing 20-year-old WCW jokes, click the share buttons and spread the column around. If you don’t tell them how much you like these, nobody’s going to read them. War Games isn’t going to ruin the idea of WCW pay-per-views for everyone!
Up first, let’s see what happened on WCW ThunDer LIVE!
The One-Page WCW Thunder Report For August 26, 1998
You can watch this episode of Thunder here.
The biggest development from this week’s Thursday Night Dynamite (for me, at least) is Ernest Miller announcing that he’s, “not a wrestler” — noted — he’s a, “three time World Karate Champion,” and is going to stop trying to do holds and start kicking people to death.
It’s probably what they should’ve done with him from the start, and the character choice that eventually elevates him into one of the most important characters on the show. It makes him such an important character that he gets a WWE run out of it, even if they’d clearly never watched tape of him and thought he was a Power Plant guy with a James Brown gimmick. Still, the, “I’M THE GREATEST,” version of Ernest Miller is delightful, and I’m happy to start writing positive things about him again. He’s gonna lock the doors and WHOOP ERR’BODY IN HERE.
The other major (read: not major) moment from Thunder is Lodi goading Saturn into a Raven’s Rules, anything goes match where if Saturn loses, he has to be Lodi’s “servant until the pay-per-view.” Tough wrestlers never get into matches like this with weak wrestlers unless somebody’s going to cause them to lose, and sure enough, Kanyon pops in to Flatline him, join The Flock, and make Saturn Lodi’s Lenny for a few weeks.
Also On This Episode
- Stevie Ray took a backdrop for the first time in his life and did just a fantastic job with it
- Sony Onoo is interested in managing Kaz Hayashi, because either (1) he realized WCW had employed an Asian guy for a few months without immediately pairing them with Sony Onoo, or (2) he wanted a selfie
- Bull Pain, Mike Enos, Scott Putski, Evan Karagias, and Van Hammer all had matches. Thunder fever … catch it!
And now, the Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro for August 31, 1998.
Worst: War! What Is It Good For? Absolutely Nothing
WCW’s Executive Committee is the only thing standing between Eric Bischoff and complete domination of the sport, and War Games is WCW’s deadliest battlefield, already marred by New World Order manipulation. So this year, the WCW Executive Committee has decided to … [checks notes] have the match involve three teams instead of two, give the New World Order a two-teams-to-one advantage, make a team-based match “every man for himself,” and give the winner of the team involving two nWo squads a title shot against Bill Goldberg, the only guy from WCW who has been able to stand up to the nWo for like two years. Also, WCW’s team is one guy who works for WCW and two guys who don’t.
This week’s cold open is (surprise!) a promo from Hollywood Hogan announcing that his War Games squad will be himself, Bret Hart, and Stevie Ray. You’ve gotta wonder why Hogan would have Scott Norton and THE GIANT in his faction and pick Stevie Ray, a guy who has been Black and White for a week and just lost to Diamond Dallas Page via embarrassing “Vincent interferes because you’re about to lose” disqualification. I’ve seen bowling alley attendants who weren’t hired to take the pin as much as nWo Stevie Ray.
Hogan then focuses on the Warrior, mentioning (indirectly) that he only brought Warrior into the company to get his win back from eight years ago. Cool cool cool. He calls Warrior a coward and accuses him of running away, “in his little moccasins” (LOL) and then immediately cowers in fear when Warrior calls his bluff via in-and-out smoke-based teleportation. +1 to WCW for trying to figure out ways to get an 8-years older Ultimate Warrior in and out of the ring without draining 100% of his stamina doing wind-sprints down the aisle.
Hogan and Bret Hart team up to take on Lex Luger and Sting in the main event. Can you guess how it ends?
If you answered, “with Hulk Hogan kicking Sting’s ass again,” congratulations, you’ve seen Nitro before! Yeah, Hogan breaks off the weight belt and whips a helpless Sting until Bret steps in and stops him. Bret respects Sting, you see, and is in a constant state of flux between heel and face that even HE doesn’t know what he’s doing anymore.
Thankfully the Warrior smoke-bombs the ring again and pops up through his trap door, sending Hogan cowering and eliminating the need for answers. If you’re keeping score, Sting needed a guy who wasn’t in the match and one of his opponents to help him not lose to Hulk Hogan again. Stinger really came down from the rafters just to have to deal with all the same bullshit that sent him into the rafters.
Best: Quad-Rip Van Winkle
In other Wolfpac news, Kevin Nash announces that Sting and Lex Luger will be his team for War Games. Konnan’s in the ring beside him like, ¯_(ツ)_/¯, but hopefully Konnan realizes he’s Pete Best in the Wolfpac’s Ringo-free Beatles. Pete Worst, I guess, since he’s barely able to been an aging Marty Jannetty in this episode. Jannetty seriously whips is ass for the entire match and loses to a single Divas facebuster. 98-99 Konnan wrestles like he’s in 110 degree heat at all times.
The important note here is that Nash threatens the Warrior via parable, because Warrior, “don’t talk like the rest us.”
“There’s an old story about an ancient warrior that walked alone. He fell asleep underneath a tree, and when he woke up, there were four wolves looking at him. One of the wolves seemed to look familiar, and when he reached out to pet the wolf, it took off his hand. The other three joined in to the feeding fury. The only thing we’ve got to say is this. If you’re not red and black and you get in that cage, it’s quite simple; if you don’t run by the pack, you’re hunted by it.”
Old stories about ancient warriors do end up with ominous warnings about cage matches at Fall Brawl, it’s true. If you think you recognize a wolf, don’t try to pet it, because the wolf might be Kevin Nash. Also there’s a really slow wolf in a poncho taking up the rear.
Nash breaks out this face to emphasize the tale, which you’ve definitely seen in GIF form:
So the next time you see it, remember that he isn’t making that face because he’s interested in something or aroused; it’s because he’s considering eating the Ultimate Warrior for falling asleep on the job.
Team WCW Is Doing Great
WCW is still locked in a power struggle against an evil organization of violent politicians and mid-card street thugs that has become so omnipresent that it had to split into two competing groups, so of course WCW Team Captain Diamond Dallas Page uses his promo time to congratulate Toms River, New Jersey Little League on winning the Little League World Series. WCW wanted to cross-promote with EVERYBODY IN THE WORLD, apparently. Fun note: future two-time All-Star Todd Frazier was on that team, and I guarantee you his 12-year old little ass was cheering for the Wolfpac.
Anyway, I guess despite Roddy Piper showing up last week and cutting a promo about how he’s on Team WCW at War Games, he wasn’t officially on the team until this week? Regardless, Page brings him out to do his Roddy Piper thing, and Roddy immediately launches into a bit about how Bret Hart needs Preparation H. The intern doing closed captioning on Nitros for WWE Network isn’t old enough to know about hemorrhoid cream yet, so we get this:
WCW/nWo Preparation Age would’ve been a great name for a late-era pay-per-view.
Piper’s promo is about how he had to mentor Bret Hart when Bret was starting his career, claiming to be Piper’s cousin and looking like a cross between, “Barney the Dinosaur and a Power Ranger.” Piper really knows how to land those pop culture references. I wish he was still alive so he could pop into Monday Night Raw and accuse Seth Rollins of looking like a cross between Caillou and the Paw Patrol.
The Giant, who is not in the War Games match because reasons, shows up and single-handedly beats up Team WCW until Doug Dellinger and security make the save. Warrior’s up in the rafters googling, “Hulk Hogan upcoming appearances,” and shopping for Batman toys on eBay, in case you were wondering.
Hacksaw Jim Duggan and 1/3 Of The Nitro Girls Invade Your School!
Speaking of wanting to cross promote with everyone, this week’s Nitro Party comes to us from Wapakoneta High School in Wapakoneta, Ohio. How mad do you think the one actual kid at the school who watched wrestling before 1997 got when the jocks who made fun of him for being “gay” got to be on TV with Kimberly and Mean Gene? Asking for the kid in the XXL Raven t-shirt in Lynchburg, VA, who went from being slurred for two years to getting asked wrestling questions all the time because a TV show got popular.
Best: Great American Bash Brothers
Speaking of wanting to cross promote with everyone (and actually cross-promoting with someone who matters, for once), this week’s Nitro features some awesome footage of Bill Goldberg wearing some Shawn Michaels shorts to hang out with baseball star Mark McGwire before a Cardinals/Marlins game at Joe Robbie Stadium. If you aren’t a baseball fan, this was during the stretch when McGwire and Sammy Sosa were chasing Roger Maris’ single-season home run record, double-handedly rehabilitating the nation’s interest in pro baseball after the strike, so it was a big deal.
Also a big deal: McGwire rubbing his bat on Goldberg’s tit for good luck, and neither man being able to give a convincing handshake.
It makes sense, if you think about it. Goldberg’s a wrestler, so he only ever gives those little limp “worker handshakes,” and McGwire smashes his forearms into other peoples’ forearms as a greeting. I’m surprised they didn’t just back up and run at each other head-first like rams.
The WWF loved to references McGwire all the time, too, which set up this great out-of-context quote from Jim Ross at SummerSlam ’98.
You know why, Jim.
Worst: So Tired Of Being Alone
As for Goldberg’s contributions to the actual Nitro broadcast, he gets people to pay $600 for tickets (pictured) to watch him defend the WCW Heavyweight Championship against Al Green. No, not that Al Green. If you don’t know who Al Green is, and I don’t blame you if you don’t, he’s a journeyman jobber whose biggest role was teaming with Kevin Nash back when they were the MASTER BLASTERS, one of the shoot worst tag teams of all time. He’d get repackaged as “The Dog” in the dying days of WCW, so he’s definitely deserving of a title shot. You could’ve used that money to do literally anything else, fans!
In Other nWo News
Since Dr. Cecil Schwarz and his groovy roadie vibes haven’t been enough to cure Scott Steiner of his full-body ailment, they bring in a new doctor. He’s from Jamaica. You can tell from the hat. He’s Dr. Juju Youbangee, and Buff Bagwell couldn’t even be arsed to come up with a disguise or anything, he’s just wearing a tie-dyed shirt and a rasta hat he 100% found at a Spencer’s Gifts before the show. I’m surprised he didn’t show up with a plasma globe, a couple of low quality dildos, and a shirt that says I HAVE THE DICK I MAKE THE RULES on the front.
Anyway, because WCW believes tactful cultural representation is important, Juju Youbangee performers an Obeah ritual and cures him with a faith healing.
Rick Steiner eventually shows up straight from his afternoon at the Bass Pro Shop to run them off. The advertised Rick vs. Scott match at Fall Brawl will take place as scheduled, and will not be bait-and-switched like the other times. Largest possible nudge nudge and most Lucille Bluth-like wink wink.
Yup, that’s me. You’re probably wondering how I ended up in this situation.
Best: Did You Say ARN Or AREN’T?
The best segment of the show (by far) and one of the best segments of the year happens on this episode: James J. Dillon of the WCW Executive Committee remembering that he used to manage the Four Horsemen, and leveraging that history and his relationship with Arn Anderson to try to get him to change his mind about reviving the group. To do so, J.J. shows Arn some AMAZING archival footage from before Arn’s debut, featuring Double A on a beach in a New York Yankees hat shitting on Dusty Rhodes for being fat.
He also shades Ricky Steamboat, saying he looks like he belongs “on a Hawaiian Punch commercial,” and accuses Magnum T.A. of thinking he’s selling toothpaste instead of wrestling. Arn is forever awesome, but young Arn really had Big Dick Energy to the max. Mongo and Benoit show up to continue the guilt trip, and nothing works; Arn simply asks J.J. why he’s doing this to him, and bails.
It’s such great character work that I honestly can’t believe it’s happening on a mid-1998 Nitro. Arn loves the Horsemen more than anything in the world but knows they went out like a bunch of chumps, and he knows he could make them better, but his body won’t cooperate. He’s injured and retired, Flair’s off in legal limbo somewhere, Benoit’s a great wrestler but a loser, and Mongo is Mongo. It’s fucking depressing to him, and no amount of wishing will make it better.
What he needs right now isn’t a teammate or a “Horseman,” or someone telling him what he should be doing. He needs a friend. Preferably a friend in a tuxedo screaming about the Funks and how you can’t fire him because he’s already fired, but we’ll get to that.
Also On This Episode
Saturn, who knows what it truly means to be a man, honors his bet with Lodi and performs man-servant duties on Nitro. You’d think that Saturn knowing Raven is a master manipulator, having the match won despite all available Flock interference, and only losing because KANYON of all people joined the team out of nowhere and attacked him would’ve made him just go, “nah, I’m not gonna be your slave,” especially since it was just a verbal agreement over a “no rules” match, but here we are.
Saturn defeats A+ tag team wizards HIGH VOLTAGE by himself, because I’m pretty sure I could beat up High Voltage by myself, and Lodi makes him tag him in so he can make the pin. Saturn’s “slave” duties so far are winning easy-to-win matches and carrying around some posterboard, so he’s doing pretty well for himself. He needs one of those Virgil gigs where all he has to do is stand in the background fanning money.
At the top of the show, Eric Bischoff announces that he’s using his Mighty Pen to make sure two things happen: that Eddie Guerrero wrestles, and the Ultimate Warrior doesn’t. That’s technically a face turn, I think. Eddie doesn’t want to wrestle, though, so he tells Eric Bischoff to kiss his you know what, Eric Bischoff,. He then makes like a lot of people’s parents and lays down for Brian Adams. Saving us from having to watch a Crush match is also a face turn, so it looks like everybody’s getting over.
Chris Jericho defeats the Disco Inferno in a meaningless Television Championship division bout, because Jericho didn’t want to join the nWo and that’s literally the only idea for forward momentum they have. It’d be like Joey Logano telling NASCAR he didn’t want to drive around in a circle.
Say farewell to ubiquitous jobber Jim Powers, seen here getting reamed by Wrath before losing what would turn out to be his final match in WCW, and his final match in pro wrestling for almost 10 years. He’d only return for a random one-shot apperance at PWS Belleville Breakdown in 2008. Leave the memories (of steroids) alone.
As a fun note, though, Jim Powers ended up having a pretty spectacular career, all things considered. How many people debut in 1984 wrestling guys like Big John Studd, and go out on a show main-evented by a Kenny Omega TLC match?
Juventud Guerrera and Evan Karagias have a pretty good cruiserweight division match that nobody watches because somebody gets into a fight in the crowd. You can tell how much people want to watch Evan Karagias matches by how willing they are to pay attention to anything else. Someone could cough in the upper deck while Karagias was coming off the top rope and 8,000 people would stand up and turn around to look for the cough.
Finally, the Cat’s heel turn is going great.
Okay, maybe great is a strong word.
The Warrior continues to haunt the nWo with his Batman magic, and sits near them sometimes. Threateningly. All this, plus SCOTT PUTSKI gets a chance to head into Fall Brawl as the WCW Heavyweight Champion, next week! See you then, I hope!