The Best And Worst Of WCW Monday Nitro 7/6/98: Dome Arigato

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try to look at this without having an anxiety attack

Previously on the Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro: Diamond Dallas Page and Karl Malone filled an 18-wheeler full of steel chairs, drove it from Salt Lake City to Tampa non-stop, tried to park on top of the nWo, and then used only two chairs to not attack Hollywood Hogan with chairs. Nitro fever … catch it!

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. We’re almost to Bash at the Beach ’98, the only pay-per-view designed to be less important than the weekly shows.

Up first, let’s check in on WCW UK.

The One-(Or Two-)Page Thunder Recap For July 2, 1998

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You can watch this Thunder here.

This week’s most important announcement happens on Thunder, wherein the Littlefinger of the WCW small council, James J. Dillon, declares that Hollywood Hogan is contractually obligated to defend his championship on Nitro — just six days before Bash at the Beach — against the number one contender, William Scott Goldberg. This is 100% the kind of announcement you need to randomly make in the middle of your B-show a week before a pay-per-view when Raw’s started beating you on Monday nights and your main event’s built around people who don’t wrestle really wanting to be wrestlers.

Thunder does feature three (3) of the funniest segments of the year, though.

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In the opening match, Chris Jericho faces the returning Rey Mysterio Jr., who has lost all his speed and muscles and skill and is about a foot shorter than usual. Jericho pulls faux Rey onto him for a surprise pin, then gets on the microphone all, “welp, I guess since this guy pinned me in a non-title match he’s earned a title shot on pay-per-view, sorry I can’t fight Dean Malenko now.” [chef’s kiss]

Later, Public Enemy’s supposed to have a match with the British Bulldog and Jim Neidhart (woof), but the new dick and Dick tandem of Alex Wright and Disco Inferno won’t leave the ring. That leads to a DANCE-OFF, because pro wrestling is bad nowadays and used to be a lot more serious.

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I think my favorite part of this is that Alex Wright gets challenged to a dance-off and is like, “oh really, well, check out my ONE DANCE MOVE I KNOW.” Like all good dance-offs, this ends with the faces being cheered for doing a much worse job at dancing, and the heels getting mad about it until they get punched in the face.

Also, Chavo Guerrero tries to trap his uncle Eddie by putting a burrito under an “ACME Eddy Trap.”

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Tony: “What is that? I, eh, is that a …”
Mike: “It’s a burrito?”
Tony: “That … [clearly dying inside] … that looks like a burrito.”

And now, the Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro for July 6, 1998.

Best: The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia

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Welcome to the Georgia Dome episode of WCW Monday Nitro, with a WCW record 41,412 in attendance. The dome holds about 70,000 total, so you’ve got to wonder if they’d have been able to fill it up completely if (1) they’d just run Bash at the Beach here instead of a go-home episode of Nitro, or (2) if they’d thought to actually advertise and promote Hollywood Hogan defending the WCW Heavyweight Championship against the hottest wrestler in the company who is from Atlanta for more than three days.

Over 40,000 is still a great crowd for a wrestling show, though, and WCW filled up most of the building on the strength of Johnny Swinger vs. Chavo Guerrero Jr. and Scotty Riggs vs. Scott Putski, so good for them, I guess.

Best: Hulk Smashed

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So the major story of the episode is, of course, Hollywood Hogan trying to get out of defending the championship against anyone, much less Goldberg. He didn’t set up a basketball guy vs. basketball guy pay-per-view main event that he’s going to win by pinfall to have to actually “defend his championship” or “put somebody over.” Speaking of Malone and DDP, though, Hogan assures us that at Bash at the Beach they will “swim with the fishes,” which is not even the saying. At the Bash, Malone will chirp with the birds, brother. [flexes]

As for Goldberg, who Hogan keeps calling “Gold-borg,” he’ll apparently only get his shot at the title if he can first defeat one of Hollywood’s “black and white brothers.” Since I don’t see Lokai from the planet Cheron or Rowdy Roddy Piper in the ring, I’ll have to assume he means an nWo guy. Also, Hogan definitely has more of one than the other.

That brother turns out to be none other than, drumroll please …

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A returning Scott Hall, who is still trying to convince us that he’d rather hang out with Hulk Hogan, Virgil, and Crush than Kevin Nash.

Hall’s primary strategy against Goldberg seems to be “stand around and don’t do anything,” then “try to work him through some basic house show wrestling spots,” neither of which work very well. Goldberg is clearly nothing but nerves here, having never performed in front of a crowd like this, ESPECIALLY not in his home town, with everybody chanting his name. They really want to love everything that happens, though, so they’ll still pop and cheer when, say, this happen:

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It’s the Georgia Dome in the summer of 1998, though, you know? They could’ve just stood in the ring wearing Manger Babies hand puppets and pretended to make them fight, and the crowd would’ve went nuts. Thankfully WCW has a much better backup plan to make sure the heat transfers to the main event, though; Hall calls in nWo reinforcements, who are immediately stopped by Diamond Dallas Page and Karl Malone, who bash them in the backs of their heads with steel chairs for even THINKING of letting Scott Hall ruin Goldberg’s streak. We’ve gotta save that until next winter!

In all seriousness, this match is crucial for the main event to work, because it:

  • addresses the point Hogan made earlier in the night that Goldberg had never really beaten anyone important and was just defending the United States Championship against jobbers, which he absolutely has been doing, and
  • lets Goldberg take some damage, so he might not be 100% heading in the match with Hogan. Not only does this give Hogan an advantage on paper, it creates a talking point wherein thoughtful fans might start fantasy booking in their heads and decide it’d be enough to justify the streak ending and Goldberg not immediately being Heavyweight Champion

More WCW angles should involve characters having thought processes and not just flipping alignments like somebody hit them with a “reverse” card in Uno.

That sets up Hogan vs. Goldberg for the Heavyweight Championship, which actually happens, and goes like it’s supposed to.

It starts with Hogan stooging for Goldberg and over-selling some power spots, including a good old fashioned TEST OF STRENGTH. When that proves fruitless, Hogan starts using a combination of in-ring experience and out-and-out cheating to take the advantage and starts kicking Goldberg’s ass. He whips him with his weight belt and even smashes him in the head with a chair over and over, and the referee just kinda lets it go, because this is a BIG TIME CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH that even WCW doesn’t have the guts to end on a DQ. Hogan starts dropping big legs on Goldberg, over and over, and it looks like the match is over … so much so that Curt Hennig wanders out with his arms over his head to prematurely celebrate. That brings out Malone and DDP again, and Malone drops him with a Diamond Cutter.

This is enough to pop the crowd and distract Hogan, who gets up and tries to figure out what’s going on. That allows Goldberg to recover, and Hogan sloooooowly turns around into a spear to make sure all 40,000 people in the building know what’s about to happen.

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Spear, Jackhammer, 1-2-3. We have a new WCW Heavyweight Champion, Hogan lays down for Goldberg with only minimal bullshit and ballyhoo, and WCW succeeds at truly, definitively making a new star for … uh, maybe the only time ever. It’s hard to articulate, but it was the right decision made in the right way, at the right time, but also something they shoud’ve promoted and built to and put on pay-per-view instead of giving away for free on television six days early.

Also, allow me to point out that these dense, spot-protecting motherfuckers should’ve done this exact match but with Sting at Starrcade ’97. How much better would that have been? Sting overpowers Hogan to start, Hogan cheats some to build up some drama, the nWo shows up, Luger and the Horsemen run out to beat them up, Hogan turns into a Stinger Splash and a Scorpion Death Drop. We’d still be happily talking about it today, instead of watching Eric Bischoff face-palm his way through an explanation on WWE Network.

And before you start thinking this is a generous move from Hogan, please note that despite Goldberg being a double champion and the most popular act on the show, Hogan still main-events the next three pay-per-views in a row.

Best: Chris Hair-ico

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The Chris Jericho story continues on Nitro in two parts.

In part The First, Dean Malenko gets a shot at Booker T’s Television Championship, which is a great show-opener and the first example in a while of Malenko competing outside of the cruiserweight division. This’ll become important in the near future when he starts focusing on tag team wrestling. Of course, Jericho shows up and starts rambling about how he’s sick and tired of Malenko, “following me, and running from me each and every week,” which is hilarious on its own, and challenges him to “come out here and face me,” despite the fact that he’s clearly already in the middle of a match. In addition to just generally screwing with Malenko’s mind, he figures if he can cause Malenko to lose to Booker, it gives him more ammo to explain why Malenko doesn’t deserve a Cruiserweight Championship match at Bash at the Beach. Sure enough, Malenko takes his eyes off the prize and gets Axe Kicked as he’s climbing back in through the ropes to beat a 10-count and gets pinned.

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Later, Jericho’s supposed to have his promised match with the Ultimo Dragon, but explains that neither Malenko nor Dragon deserve a title shot, as the real number one contender is, “the hot, spicy, sassy, young Latino Rey Mysterio Jr.” Jojo Dillon shows up again to explain to Jericho that he’s not a complete idiot, and that both Jericho and Malenko have been put on “written notice.” If either of them lays a hand on the other from this moment forward, the match at Bash at the Beach is off.

Jericho, being Jericho, instantly starts in with jabs about Malenko’s dead father. “If Dean Malenko touches me if I say, your dad must be proud of ya, and he’d probably love to shake your hand, IF HE WERE ALIVE TO DO SO, he’s suspended?” Dillon has to get between them, remind Malenko that he’s falling into Jericho’s very very obvious trap, and remind Jericho that if he keeps running his mouth, Malenko’s going to beat the ever-loving shit out of him at Bash at the Beach. Jericho understands, but then drops in one more burn about how Boris Malenko got technically proficient loving while he was on the road and that’s why Malenko and his brother look nothing alike. Dumb, dumb Dean Malenko punches him in the face, and the match is off.

Malenko beats him around the ring so badly he literally pulls out chunks of Jericho’s hair, and ruins the Ultimo Dragon match by running back out and attacking him again. Hey, might as well. The good news is that Jericho will get what he asked for at Bash at the Beach. The bad news is that he’ll get what he asked for at Bash at the Beach.

Also On This Episode

There’s so much pointless filler on this episode I’ll be here all weekend if I try to provide thoughtful analysis for it all.

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WCW apparently doesn’t think a nephew versus uncle match with months of build featuring two members of a legendary wrestling family is enough, so now the upcoming Eddie Guerrero vs. Chavo Guerrero Jr. match at Bash at the Beach will be hair vs. hair. He introduces this stipulation six days before the event by barely cutting Johnny Swinger’s hair.

Note: This would’ve been a much better match if it’d involved Chavo painting a tunnel on the side of the Georgia Dome and trying to get Eddie to run into it.

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Philadelphia-area frontrunners The Public Enemy are back to continue their feud with Disco Inferno and Alex Wright, and suck up to Atlanta by rocking the worst-ever Atlanta Braves jerseys. Between this and their Islanders sweaters, Rocco Rock and Johnny Grunge are becoming forgotten 1990s ill-advised alternate look historians. I hope when they go to Milwaukee they wear those green Bucks jerseys with the purple-eyed ghost deer on the stomach.

They lose (?) a hardcore match (?) when they put Magnum Tokyo through a couple of tables, despite him not being part of the match. Sure.

Shortbus (2006) Dir. John Cameron Mitchell

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Winning the award for Worst Guest Star Ever is Pangburn, Arkansas’ Best Kept Secret Brian Murphy. He’s a normal guy who won a random drawing in 1997 through Valvoline and won a Mark Martin NASCAR. Why he gets his own segment on Nitro is beyond me, as they don’t parade out the guy who used 1-800-COLLECT the most in a calendar year to get a high five from Lee Marshall. Not saying I know that from experience, WCW, you bastards.

The best part of the ad buy is the announce team completely burying it.

Tony: “They’re gonna be giving away another car. You know, Gene brought up some good points, when you get that car, what can you do with it? I mean, you can’t really drive it down the street.”
Mike: [LOLing so hard] “… Larry, what do you think?”

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Much like the Public Enemy match, a really entertaining Raven vs. Kanyon brawl ends as a “no contest” when Saturn runs in and suplexes Lodi, because I guess Raven’s Rules only means anything goes when it benefits Raven? A superplex onto an opened steel chair didn’t draw a disqualification, but a guy who isn’t in the match attacking another guy who isn’t in the match is too hot for TV.

That’s two “you attacked a guy who wasn’t involved” finishes on the same show, in case you’re wondering how much they were relying on Hogan vs. Goldberg for this show to be memorable. And it worked!

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Flock member Riggs suffers a humiliating loss to Scott Putski of all people, who is a pirate now, I guess? I’m 90% sure Scott Stapp from Creed tuned into this episode of Nitro, saw Scott Putski, and was like, “yes, that’s the man I want to be.”

Who loses to Scott Putski, honestly? That’s like being an NFL team and losing a football game to a tumbleweed.

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In other embarrassing Flock news, Sick Boy and Kidman lose a match to the Wolfpac, who are bouty bouty and Ronda Rousey.

This is one of my favorite lazy Kevin Nash moments ever. When Sting won the Tag Team Championship in a singles match at the pay-per-view and had to pick his partner, because you couldn’t just defend the belts with anybody per the WCW executive committee, he picked Kevin Nash. Then they said they could just defend the belts with anybody, because LOL, and he teamed up with Luger. Now Sting’s had like four tag matches since winning the belts, and has teamed with Luger for three of them. The very best part is that Kevin Nash carries the Tag Team Championship belt to the ring and holds it during the pre-match promo, then stays at ringside while Sting and Luger defend them. What, you too busy to pick up and drop Sick Boy once?

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Juventud Guerrera and Psicosis wrestle in relative silence, because they go on after Goldberg vs. Scott Hall, and before Goldberg vs. Hollywood Hogan. Juventud dives over the top rope and basically Steiner Screwdrivers himself directly into those flame mats, and the crowd can’t even stand up for it.

The best illustration I can give is this GIF, in which Psicosis hits a senton from the top rope to the floor, and the only person in the building who stands up is the guy who gets the rail pushed into his legs.

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Brutal. Y’all couldn’t have run this first and put Scott vs. Scott in the death slot?

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I don’t know if you’ve ever heard Karl Malone speak — not counting when Jimmy Kimmell used to play him in blackface on The Man Show — you know he’s not the most articluately threatening dude. On Nitro, they have him cut multiple promos (taped and live in the ring), which is … not the best decision, but he’s having a good time, so it’s fine. He’s not the natural that Kevin Greene is, but he’s six-foot-nine and like 260 pounds and has arms that could grab you from across the Grand Canyon, so he’s fine. He hits a big line early in the night about how he’s gonna “whoop Rodzilla like Madonna should have,” which is a great burn in 1998 for a variety of reasons.

He can’t keep that momentum going, though, and after DDP beats Jim Neidhart, they exchange a double high-five that would make Screech Powers in the Saved by the Bell opening credits proud. Here it is in slow motion, for effect:

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They had four hands and missed all of them.

Finally we have The Giant against trifling-ass, cheating-ass Hacksaw Jim Duggan, who opens the match by running up and kicking Giant in the nuts …

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… and ends it by jumping into Giant’s fist.

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Incredible. The only way it could’ve been better is if Giant had reached into his caveman singlet and wrapped his fist in Scotch tape before holding it up.

And Before We Forget

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Buff Bagwell makes his first on-screen appearance since almost losing his mobility (and his life) to a botched bulldog off the ropes on Thunder back in April. He still can’t get around very well, but he makes sure to explain that he’s had a change of heart about life, and that he loves each and every fan in the arena, and everyone who has supported him through this difficult time. I won’t spoil anything about how sincere this promo ends up being, but you can probably figure that out on your own.

The important thing here is that it’s the debut of future WCW Tag Team Champion and, to my knowledge, the only human person ever put on a pole in a “something on a pole” match, Judy Bagwell. We’ll pick back up with her in about a year and a half, but until then, please enjoy this GIF I just made of her doing her son’s taunt.

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Next Week:

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It’s finally time for the Georgia Dome Nitro post-show, Bash at the Beach! See you there, my black and white brothers!