Previously on the Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro: Eric Bischoff got the black parts of his hair shaved off, revealing the grey kiwi underneath. Scott Steiner started stalking Kimberly Page, a camera man fell in love with David Flair’s rippling physique, and Kevin Nash began his season of throwing Rey Mysterio at the ground.
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. Follow along with the competition here.
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And now, the Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro for January 25, 1999.
Best: A Serious Professional
Before I talk about anything else, yes, this is the episode with the infamous “El Dandy” promo from Bret Hart. If you haven’t seen it, I’ve included it above and expect you to watch it immediately.
He had better and more important promos, but for me, this is quintessential Bret Hart. All you really need to know is that Ric Flair is expecting Hart, the United States Champion and current sufferer of “a groin pull the likes you’ve never seen in your whole life,” to wrestle Booker T on Nitro and defend the championship at SuperBrawl against an opponent to be named later. Hart, in his full “fuck you, pay me” WCW glory, claims that Flair’s still holding a grudge against him from forever ago, and that Booker T is a [extreme Canadian accent] LOSER [end extreme Canadian accent]. He “axes” Booker a question: does Booker know that his VERY LIFE is on the line tonight? “All the little kids at home, they’re gonna watch me tear you up and break you into little pieces.”
“Let me tell you who deserves a shot at the United States Heavyweight Championship; I’m the champion, I oughta know. Ya know, I’ve been sizing up guys since I came to the WCW, and I think the one guy that stands out the most, the guy that I think has earned the title shot, El Dandy … I think you’re a heck of a wrestler, you’re a great technician in the ring and you’re a jam up guy, I don’t see any reason-“
In case you aren’t up to speed, El Dandy is the winner of the Lou Ferrigno Lookalike Contest for 1998 (per Chris Jericho) and arguably the seventh or eighth most important member of the Latino World Order. For a look at how big of a threat he might actually be to Hart’s United States Championship, look at the faces Hart and Gene Okerlund make about it. Now the stage is set for this timeless exchange:
“Wait a minute, El Dandy has been wrestling in the cruiserweight division here, please.”
[deadpan] “He’s a great wrestler.”
“Great wrestler, but goodness sakes, a fifty pound difference.”
“Who are you to doubt El Dandy? Because this guy’s a serious professional.”
Gene is definitely not considering what a JAM UP GUY both Hart and Dandy are. With Dandy doubted, Hart says he’ll give a title shot to “Hypnosis,” which is what he thinks Psicosis’ name is. It is now, forever. Hypnosis is a, “highflyer of the highest magnitude,” and Gene, who is mean, continues to balk at the idea of cruiserweights getting title shots instead of just wrestling each other over and over — Eddie Guerrero had a point — and talks the champ into “playing hurt.”
“Make no mistake about it, on February the 21st, in Oakland, you’re gonna be facing somebody, and that U.S. title will be on the line, Mr. Hart.”
Magnificent. While Hart continued to advocate for the match on Backstage Blast, Hart and Dandy never did have that one-on-one match for the United States Championship. Probably for the best, though. If a Jam Up Guy faces a Jam Up Guy, that jam’s going too far up.
The philosophical crater left by the question remains, however. Who are we to doubt El Dandy?
Best: Surprise! Nitro Is Better Than Raw Again (For The Moment)
Between the raging anticlimax of Starrcade ’98, the writing on the wall of the Fingerpoke of Doom, and the stunning awfulness of Souled Out, it’s easy to get nihilistic about World Championship Wrestling. Bad things are coming. But what they don’t tell you on WWE Network revisionist history shows is that WCW’s spring of ’99 actually gets pretty good, with Spring Stampede ’99 being (for the most part) the high point. At the very least, they’re putting on a good show every now and then and remaining just as reliably inconsistent as Raw.
This week’s Nitro is considerably better than this week’s Raw. Take, for instance, this 15-minute Bret Hart vs. Booker T match they decided to drop into the middle of the show. Booker’s out there making himself a star, showing he can go a full quarter-hour with The Best There Is et al. Bret’s giving him everything he’s got to give, while (1) you know, actually wrestling, which is something WCW never seemed to figure out he could do really well, and (2) showing the audience that he’s not the Bret Hart they know but actually a total coward scumbag who tried to duck Booker in a NON-TITLE MATCH and had to cheat to beat him. He gives him the bell spot from the WrestleMania 13 match with Stone Cold Steve Austin, but with the United States Championship belt in place of the bell (pictured).
You know what Raw programmed against this? A Shane McMahon promo, D’Lo Brown shopping for tampons as part of a fake miscarriage blackmail angle, and Test vs. Val Venis. Just saying. Remember: wrestling has always been very good, and has always been very bad.
When You’re Down To The Last Of Your Quarantine Groceries
The major story coming out of Thunder is that the nWo Wolfpac can’t be arsed to show up — maybe Eric Bischoff will suspend them and then feud with them for six months — so they leave nWo VINCENT in charge. Yes, folks, Manservant Virgil not only joined the Wolfpac, he led the entire New World Order. His platform is based on two important issues:
- changing his name from “Vincent” to “Vince,” in case the previous nomenclature was too subtle for you
- promote TAG TEAM WRESTLING
The nWo’s big four (Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Hollywood Hogan, and Disco Inferno) have been actively ruining matches in the WCW Tag Team Championship tournament and have made clear that they don’t want the tourney happening at all. They just want the title belts to default back to The Outsiders, which is … something that happens fairly often in WCW. I don’t know how championship bureaucracy works. Vince hasn’t been paying attention, so he announces that Brian Adams and Horace Hogan will represent the B-Team in the tournament. He also announced a six-man main event where he’d team up with Stevie Ray and Scott Norton to take on the goddamn Four Horsemen, which results in them getting completely skunked and embarrassed. Now the WCW announce team can scream “VINCE SUCKS, VINCE IS THE WORST,” with impunity!
Anyway, it turns out the important nWo members were spying on the terrible ones via a hidden camera and quietly judging them. Not sure why they needed the hidden camera when they had a TV camera back there airing live footage straight to TBS all night, but maybe Hogan’s limousine doesn’t get cable.
Before Nitro, the nWo B-Team’s two most accomplished members, Stevie Ray and Curt Hennig, get together in secret to plot a coup. I say “two most accomplished” assuming Scott Norton was focused on New Japan and only followed WCW by reading Angelfire blog recaps. Once the show starts and the important characters arrive, Stevie immediately runs to Hogan and narcs on Hennig. The turncoat has become the turncoated! We find out that Stevie Ray threw Mr. Perfect under the bus trying to get a promotion from nWo Garbage to nWo Valuable, but it doesn’t work. Vince is already back to wearing black and white, and Hogan — seen here in a rare nWo Elite shirt that looks like he bought it at an artsy New World Order pop-up — politely and indirectly reminds Stevie that the only black guy allowed in the nWo front office is Dennis Rodman. But thanks for being an informant! Otherwise they never would’ve guessed that Curt Hennig was planning to turn on them.
There’s a silver lining here, though. Now that Hennig’s out of the nWo, he can focus on his true love: hating rap music.
Still stuck doing gopher work until Flair’s 90 days as President are up, Eric Bischoff is forced to work the merch table. At one point he tries to shortchange someone who paid with a 20 by pretending they gave him a 10. I’ve got to say, Bischoff taking a WCW fan’s money and not giving them enough in return is a pretty on-the-nose metaphor. It’s WCW’s equivalent of that time Vince McMahon stood in the middle of the ring on Raw and screamed I DON’T GIVE A DAMN WHAT YOU PEOPLE WANT at the crowd.
Side note: this stand is selling the Monday Night Jericho t-shirt I seriously looked for at WCW events for like a year and a half and never found. I guess rural Virginia and North Carolina didn’t get the full merch spread. I least I could always buy a shirt with a long haired guy in sunglasses with “SEXY” under him or one that says “BANG” across the chest and get made fun of at school!
Having been thoroughly embarrassed at home and abroad, the nWo decides to put together a Big3 team of all-stars and get revenge on the Horsemen. So instead of Ric Flair, Chris Benoit, and Mongo ‘Steve’ McMichael going 3-on-3 with Virgil, Crush, and Scott Norton, they’re up against Hollywood Hogan, Kevin Nash, and Big Poppa Pump. Ric Flair was secretly the God of six-man tags in the ’90s — see also the time he teamed up with Roddy Piper and Kevin Greene at Slamboree ’97 and had one of the most fun matches of the year — so this is also good while it lasts. Highlights include the retroactive absurdity of Chris Benoit wrestling Hulk Hogan, and Hogan whipping Benoit in the face with his weight belt. Oh, if only we could go back and pivot this into a Benoit vs. Hogan program.
Anyway, seeing as how this is a WCW Monday Nitro main event, you know how this ends. First comes the disqualification. Flair has Hogan in the Figure Four, but before he can bridge into the Figure Eight, Eric Bischoff shows up with some suspicious foam fingers attached to 2x4s from his merch stand. Nash, not content with the knowledge that a 300-pound man’s 7-foot-tall stomp would hurt worse than a brittle board with some foam around it, swats at Ric and draws the DQ. Bischoff (in a hat with a wig attached, Undertaker style) still wants to shave President Nature Boy’s head, but Flair is saved by his friends: the Horsemen, the luchadores he freed from the socially oppressive Latino World Order, and Chavo Guerrero, whose punches are definitely hurting Kevin Nash.
Mike Tenay insists that this is the show of unity for we’ve been waiting for from World Championship Wrestling. It’s not, but it’s nice to say. Aw nuts, fans, we’re out of time! Join us this Sunday for the ROYAL RUMBLE World War 3? SuperBrawl wait no SuperBrawl is still almost a month away … church?
In Other nWo News
By the way, Scott Steiner isn’t allowed to follow the Nitro Girls into the bathroom and harass them anymore, so he simply sits at the announce table and watches them dance, seething with horny rage. These are the social skills you develop when your brother argues with possessed dolls and your best friend won’t stop airbrushing his face onto top hats.
Disco Inferno is a BEAST all of a sudden. He wins a squash match strong with his finisher (well, Steve Austin’s finisher) and the canned crowd noise goes WILD, marking the only time in history that Disco has been better than Al Green.
Early in the show, Bam Bam Bigelow calls out Scott Hall for a ladder match with a low-key brutal promo. It’s basically a Jumpin’ Jeff Farmer promo, except the guy delivering it looks like a fire demon from a biker bar in Hell instead of the Kirkland Signature Flyin’ Brian.
“When I first came on the scene here at WCW I had one objective … one primary mission. And that was to be — defeat Bill Goldberg, and take him out. And I’m not gonna stop until that mission is accomplished, but lately there’s been a lil’ EAR-FERENCE… a little static, a little static lick-lick-lectricity so to speak, and that’s you Scott Hall. Because if you think for one second, one iota, one [brain goes blank] idea that you can zap Bam Bam Bigelow and get away with it, you’re dead wrong.”
He ends it with, “You put up, Scott Hall, and you shut up! Cause I will show you exactly what hardcore and extreme is tonight!” Before the promo’s even over, Nash is in picture-in-picture quoting The Elephant Man in a funny voice.
The match Hall and Bigelow end up having is far superior to the one Hall had with Goldberg at Souled Out, mostly because Bigelow is an actual professional wrestler and not a raw, screaming football nerve, so he can do more than one thing. The Souled Out match ended with Hall using a taser on both Goldberg and Bigelow, so the Nitro version ends with Goldberg using the taser on Bigelow and Hall. The run-in follow-up to a run-in needs to end with a third, unrelated run-in, so Scott Norton shows up and attacks Goldberg from behind. You know where this is going.
BEHOLD! The incredible agility of Bill Goldberg!
Goldberg wins because powerslams don’t hurt him, which we’ll call a reverse WrestleMania 36.
The nWo B-Team tries to jump him after the match, but he easily dispatches them. Still, to help defend him from additional waves of New World Order cronies, the ring fills up with all the celebrities and athletes in attendance. Goldberg’s got a DIRECT-TO-DVD summon, I guess. The Goldberg Gulch Gang is, from left to right:
- Chuck Norris, whom you may know from memes, or from the time he karate kicked Jeff Jarrett to help a necromancer avoid being above-ground buried by a sumo champion
- one-dimensional NHL great Brett Hull, who was more or less the spoiled rich kid from your favorite children’s hockey movie who joins the team and is really good but doesn’t get along with anybody
- 1988 Kumite champion Frank Dux, attempting to maintain some level of anonymity by posing as Belgian action star “Jean-Claude Van Damme”
- then-recent NFL retiree Herschel Walker, seen here proclaiming his allegiance to Roc Nation
The fact that SuperBrawl didn’t feature Goldberg, Chuck Norris, JCVD, Brett Hull, and Herschel Walker in a 10-man tag against Vince, Brian Adams, Scott Norton, Horace Hogan, and Stevie Ray is unforgivable.
Best: The Dungeon Of Dudes
If you’re wondering where that “WCW roster” that ran out to make the save for Ric Flair in the main event came from, they were in the building as security lumberjacks for the Tag Team Championship tournament match between the Faces of Fear and “Finlay and Taylor.” Finlay and Taylor is my third favorite singer-songwriter duo from the 1970s. Order is maintained and the match goes to completion, with the most notable thing being Jimmy Hart’s attempt to rebuild a Netflix Marvel version of the Dungeon of Doom.
Meet Jimmy’s “First Family,” a Continental Wrestling Association throwback that includes Meng, The Barbarian, The Laughing Man HUMOROUS, and eventually both KARATE MAN Jerry Flynn and one of the Nasty Boys getting a singles push. They never retrieve any butt-humping mummies from the north face of Mt. Everest and never any monster truck battles on any arena rooves, but at least their entrance theme is a Scorpions rip-off. In a better world, they kept The Giant from leaving WCW and got the band back together for one more run at Hulkamania.
Oh No, Someone Booked Norman Smiley Against A Man In A Dress
Someone looked at a list of current WCW gimmicks, saw “Perry Saturn wears a dress” and “Norman Smiley pretends to have sex with peoples’ butts” side by side, dropped their coffee mug like in The Usual Suspects, and immediately booked it.
Near the end of the match, Norman realizes that his regularly scheduled fit of phantom humping will be even more dynamic if he’s able to flip up his opponent’s skirt for total pantomimed sexual dominance.
Saturn beats the shit out of Norman for the indignity and attempts a Big Wiggle of his own, which looks less like aggressive buttsex and more like a cat trying to cover a turd with litter.
Meanwhile, disgraced referee Scott Dickinson sits in the crowd in a plain khaki hat like a complete serial killer and loudly complains to anyone who’ll listen about how it’s actually the referees being screwed by WCW, not the wrestlers. I guess he’s never watched the last five minutes of any Nitro ever. Ask not for whom the Big Wiggle wiggles, Scott; it wiggles for thee.
Hardcore icon The Sandman makes his WCW debut and immediately loses, because WCW. Plus, Hollywood Hogan does another segment where he hangs out with the Hell’s Angels to look cool, Eric Bischoff spends the night in a worked parking lot dunk tank, and the legend LASH LEROUX makes his first Nitro appearance. See you next week, when we laissez les bon temps rouler!