Previously on the Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro: Goldberg and Kevin Nash signed a contract for their World Heavyweight Championship match at Starrcade, and Nash took it very seriously. Plus, Konnan won the Television Championship, Bret Hart won the United States Championship with help from The Giant, and Hulk Hogan definitely retired for real on The Tonight Show.
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.
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And now, the Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro for December 7, 1998.
Best/Worst: Willie? No, He Won’t
Remember Wild Cat Willie, the mascot WCW created to hype up crowds at their Disney/MGM Studios studio tapings and then turned into a Macho Man Randy Savage-style Sasquatch for Nitro? This week’s Nitro opens with exclusive footage, first reported by WCW Monday Nitro, of him getting put to sleep by Big Poppa Pump.
The only way this could’ve been better is if Steiner had attacked the older, big-head version of Willie and put him in the Steiner Recliner. Willie doesn’t have many friends in the back, apparently. You’d think Hacksaw Jim Duggan would at least run out and try to save an anthropomorphic cat who becomes more human the longer he loves World Championship Wrestling.
The only reason this is happening is to try to get the fans to boo Steiner, which … read the room, guys. I guess this is the same promotion that thought country music-loving rednecks would be the heels against a posse of arrogant rappers on a wrestling show in the American south, so whatever. Steiner does a much better job of earning boos by opening Nitro proper with that same heel promo everyone cut when they were in Texas in the ’90s: “there’s nothing in Texas but steers and-”
Let’s never hear Big Poppa Pump’s opinion of England, if we can help it. Steiner demands that we give Hollywood Hogan a standing ovation for his contributions to the sport, or whatever, and another match with Scott Hall right here tonight. We don’t have to wait until Starrcade~!
Yes, the match happens, and yes, it ends almost immediately in an nWo vs. nWo brawl when we find out Hall has tied up the nWo referee. Things are going great here on WCW Monday Nitro, please don’t notice that (1) the nWo is constantly fighting other guys from the nWo with no discernible goal or purpose, or that (2) in about a month we find out that “fighting for no reason, LOL,” was literally the plan.
Worst: Kevin Nash’s Mood Swings
Kevin Nash spent the entirety of last week’s show nonchalantly making fun of Goldberg for taking the championship match at Starrcade seriously. He told him to lay off the caffeine, made wolf ears at him and stuck out his tongue during the contract signing, and made Scott Hall wiggly-threat fingers every time Goldberg spoke. Apparently between November 30 and December 7 someone pulled him aside and said, “hey, if you don’t take this seriously, nobody watching’s going to take it seriously,” so this week he’s over-the-top aggressive about everything.
Goldberg’s supposed to have a non-title grudge match against Bam Bam Bigelow on the show to settle that whole thing before Starrcade. Otherwise, you know, Bigelow’s just gonna run in and ruin it. Nash storms out into the parking lot and confronts Goldberg about it before he even gets in the building, screaming at him with Harrison Ford-style finger-points about how he’ll MAKE SURE THE MATCH NEVER HAPPENS, because he’s, uh, in charge of making the matches happen. Goldberg’s contract with Nash says he wouldn’t defend the championship before Starrcade, but Nash doesn’t want Goldberg to wrestle at all for some reason. You’d think he’d want Bigelow to soften him up or whatever, but he’s overly worried about Bigelow “ending Goldberg’s streak,” which is the specific trophy Nash wants. Later in the episode, Nash shows up in the ring and declares that Goldberg vs. Bigelow is now Goldberg vs. Bigelow vs. big strong boi Kevin Nash. It’s all part of the plan, you see!
Despite the announcement, the main event gets thrown out as soon as it starts. Like, literally as soon as it starts. Nash is out there attacking Goldberg, and the referee rings the bell to start the match. Nash continues attacking Goldberg, so maybe five seconds later the ref’s like, “THAT’S TOO MUCH MAN,” and calls for the bell to end it. GREAT MAIN EVENT, GUYS. The crowd starts booing and throwing garbage, and the three men try to do a big pull-apart brawl with security thinking that’s going to make them happy again.
Narrator: “It did not.”
You know, the “finger poke of doom” rightfully gets a lot of shit for being the major turning point in the Monday Night Wars and the public at large’s perception of WCW as opposed to WWF, but the entire build and finish to Starrcade ’98 that set up the finger poke are just as embarrassing and bad. It’s like they finally dedicated a whole month to making viewers feel as stupid as possible for watching this instead of the molten hot competition.
Worst: In Other nWo News, Since That’s The Only Thing Anybody Cares About
During the nWo vs. nWo brawl that broke out following the War for Scott Independence, the Wolfpac showed up to help Hall, but Kevin Nash was nowhere to be found. Instead, Diamond Dallas Page was the Gandalf the White who arrived to turn the tide and win the battle for the Wolves. He showed up mostly to attack The Giant with a chair, in response to Giant meandering down to the ring and throwing him at the ground by the neck to cost him the United States Championship. Giant’s had enough, too, and delivers the following promo ahead of their one-on-one showdown at Starrcade:
“Page … You wanted my attention, well guess what, leatherface? You got it. Now all you draft beer drinking, Copenhagen dipping, coupon clipping rednecks, everybody thinks Diamond Dallas Page is the people’s champion? You think he’s like Santa Claus? Well this year, I’m the Grinch! Dallas Page, Starrcade, you and me? It’s gonna be a real easy payday. ‘Cause I’m taking you out. On a sleigh ride like you could never imagine.
“You think you do all the banging in WCW? You think you’re the Bang Man in wrestling? You ain’t never seen a bang! You think I’m dangerous now? What you did to me, now I’m deadly. So Dallas, get ready, ’cause I’ve got a special present for you. It’s called, THE CHOKE-SLAHHHH!“
DDP, The Giant is going to fuck you on a sled at Starrcade!
By the way, it takes Giant longer to do that promo than it did to defeat Scott Putski.
If you’re wondering what The Bang Man In Wrestling is up to, he bangs Kendall Windham’s ass with a Diamond Cutter. Windham, a 14-year veteran at this point, takes a front bump on his hands and knees like Miranda Alize. Barry really hogged all the available talent in that generation of Windhams. Barry to Kendall Windham is like Charlotte to David Flair.
Worst: In Even Less Important nWo News
Before teaming up with Chavo Guerrero Jr. to take on Stevie Ray and Horace Hogan (… Jesus Christ), Disco Inferno brings out Konnan and triumphantly announces that Kevin Nash has approved him, the goddamn Disco Inferno, as the newest member of the Wolfpac. Konnan assumes he’s lying and threatens him about it, but what he doesn’t know (or doesn’t want to reveal) is that Disco’s kinda-sorta telling the truth. Nash did enlist the help of the Disco Inferno, of all people, which plays out at Starrcade. You need a cattle prod and no fewer than four people to help you win a championship you booked yourself to win and are planning to give away a week later.
Stevie and Horace win with a spike piledriver on Disco. Can you feel even a die-hard WCW’s fan’s love of the show starting to harden?
Stevie Ray also makes an appearance at the end of the Booker T vs. Konnan to Slapjack Konnan in the back of the head, again, and keep Booker from winning the Television Championship. Booker wants to kick his ass afterward, so Stevie plays the guilt card, puts his hands behind his back, and begs him to do it. The man who’d beat up his own brother for costing him a match against WCW’s top Slow Roller is the kind of man he wants. Booker, who doesn’t want to be known as a “Member of Harlem Heat” for the rest of his life, doesn’t know what to do. You’re doing fine, Booker, just do the opposite of whatever Stevie Ray does.
Finally, Lex Luger gets the standard Lex Luger-style win over the dreaded Emery Hale, a 6-foot-9, 350-pound monster with the looks and charisma of a Totally Normal Guy. He looks like you jammed up Randy Orton and Ted DiBiase Jr. Really big but not “giant” wrestlers with no unique look or personality don’t end up going very far, especially not in 1998, and end up in a Gene Snitsky position where they’re mostly around to lose to the REALLY big or REALLY strong guys. Hale was perfectly serviceable, though, and stuck around as a jobber until early 2000.
As a sad note you probably didn’t need me to include here, Hale had to get a kidney transplant in 2003 and was forced to retire when he developed pneumonia from it. He’d remain hospitalized for a few years and die in 2006 at the unbelievably young age of 36.
Let’s talk about something that won’t make us sad, how about it?
The Final Match Of The Renegade
So, we’re finally here. This is the final TV appearance and match for former Television Champion The Renegade, seen here getting his own arm jammed up his butt by Wrath. He’d end up getting released from WCW shortly after this. On February 23, 1999, with nobody interested in picking up his contract, he shot himself in the head. He died at age 33, which is far, far too soon for anyone to go.
In lieu of making a bunch of tasteless jokes to try to keep my mind off the ongoing tragedy of premature wrestler deaths, I feel like this is a good time to say that the threat of suicide is a very real thing for people, whether they “seem” depressed or suicidal or not. Reach out to the people you love, tell them you love them, and remind them that life’s worth living, even if it feels like an insurmountable march up a slippery-ass mountain. The National Suicide Prevention hotline is 1-800-273-8255, if you need it. I have before, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. You can be okay again.
What would make us laugh again, and get the column back on track? Maybe Ric Flair getting so mad he looks like Diagnosis: Murder-era Dick Van Dyke becoming one with the Speed Force?
There we go.
Best: A Flair For The Dramatic
Not a lot of Horsemen content this week, but Ric Flair celebrates the announcement of his Starrcade match with Eric Bischoff by delivering an insane promo about Texas history and all the ways he’s going to assassinate his boss at the pay-per-view. It’s supposed to be a Christ Benoit and Dean Malenko vs. Raven and Kanyon match, but Raven’s still too emo to wrestle, so the Horsemen just gang-bang him for a while, DDP-style. That’s how he would phrase it, right?
Methods Ric Flair will use at the pay-per-view include: choking, eye gouging (pictured), kicking in the balls and ass, chopping, squeezing his neck until the blood runs down his nostrils and his eyes pop out. This will make him say, and I quote, “oh Lord, I respect you, Ric Flair.” They’re going to take his paycheck, take his job, take his life (!!), take his dignity, and take back the “greatest sport of wrestling in the world, professional wrestling.” He’s murder crazed, just go with it.
Worst: Oh My Darlin’, Clemens Time
Major League Baseball pitcher who is not as good as Jack Morris [credit: Baseball Hall of Fame] Roger Clemens is in attendance tonight, alongside his sons. Does anyone else think it’s weird that Bill Goldberg got into the wrestling Hall of Fame before Clemens got into baseball’s?
Hope Rocket stuck around long enough to get the hook-up from Jim Powers.
Also On This Episode
lWo member Silver King has a match against lWo member Rey Mysterio Jr. as ordered by lWo leader Eddie Guerrero. The nWo doesn’t do anything but fight the nWo, but neither branch of the nWo will pay attention to the lWo, so it’s gotta fight itself. This is the kind of match I’d give a Best like, nine out of ten times. This is the tenth time. It’s just terrible, when it absolutely shouldn’t be. As an example, here’s Mysterio badly botching a headscissors off the second rope and getting punched in the chest about it.
Hey, want to see a Nitro where Prince Iaukea has a way better match than Rey Mysterio Jr.?
Anchored by the veteran know-how and incredible core strength of ghost sodomizer Norman Smiley, Prince Iaukea gets through an entire, watchable match without anything going wrong. Well, things almost go wrong on a big flying roll-up, which Norman saves by having insane musculature and knees that miraculously don’t buckle when a man lands with his entire body weight on your back.
Seriously, if dude had landed on my back like that my knees would’ve crushed my sternum and my spine would’ve popped out of my mouth. Motherfucker would’ve curled me up like an empty tube of toothpaste.
Norman not only survives, but maintains his libido. This might be the match where he finally realizes he should lean into the growing popularity of the “Big Wiggle,” and performs it constantly. Here he is managing to do the entire dance without interruption, earning him a stat boost, and busting it out again to hump the bottom of the Prince’s bare foot. Norman Smiley going for that exclusive Snapchat 20 years too early.
Chris Jericho, who is totally aimless now that they randomly took the Television Championship off him a few weeks before the biggest show of the year, gets another meaningless win over Bobby Duncum Jr. How the referee didn’t see this, I’ll never know. You’ve got to actively fail a peripheral vision test to be a pro wrestling referee, I think. Or to be a wrestler, if Keith Lee’s recent run of legendary GIFs has taught as us anything.
Finally, here’s Summer Guy Perry Saturn continuing his streak of bad luck comma bad feuds with another loss thanks to The Cat and Sonny Onoo. This time, Saturn’s in the ring with Glacier, and Onoo tries to distract him for some feline interference. Glacier holds Saturn for the Cat but the Cat accidentally kicks Glacier, and instead of letting the crowd be happy about something for five seconds, they have the referee catch The Cat in the act and disqualify Saturn. it’s exactly as good as it sounds.
The Secret Origin of Raven is finally revealed, and we do another Goldberg vs. Kevin Nash vs. Bam Bam Bigelow triple threat to make up for this week’s. Spoiler alert: it ALSO has a disqualification finish, in a triple threat match! See you then, after therapy!