Previously on the Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro: nWo Hollywood decided to destroy everyone at once by humiliating Kevin Nash, attacking and injuring Diamond Dallas Page, winning the United States and World Tag Team Championships, and more. Also, uh … nope, that was pretty much it.
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And now, the Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro for July 27, 1998.
Worst: Welcome To The Leno-leum
As you may have figured out last week or the week before, WCW’s post-Bash at the Beach ’98 is all about making Hollywood Hogan look as strong and annoying as possible to build to a tag team match against a talk show host at a South Dakota motorcycle rally. WCW’s like, “the WWF’s starting to really catch fire and fight back in the ratings war, so we need a way to bring in that ‘people still awake watching network TV in the middle of the night’ demographic.”
It made for really terrible television at the time, but it’s even worse in WWE Network form as they’ve cut out all the relevant highlights and footage from the Tonight Show side of the build, meaning we don’t actually see Jay Leno do or say anything, but still have to watch entire episodes of ‘nWo Nightcap’ and 15-minute retaliatory Hulk Hogan promos. In fact, the only Network evidence that Leno was involved in the build at all is clips with filters over them in the opening of the actual Road Wild pay-per-view. See above. Nothing cracked up a 1998 audience like bringing out a midget dressed as someone you hate and browbeating them.
Also, is it weird to anyone else that in 2019 you can watch every episode of WCW Thunder ever made, but there’s no way to watch old episodes of The Tonight Show?
So, the nWo Nightcap segment has evolved from Bischoff stealing Leno monologue jokes and delivering them to canned laughter into an entire Tonight Show mock-up, featuring an original monologue, a “Headlines” segment, and more. Bischoff’s monologue is about 75% “Jay Leno has a big chin, you guys,” jokes, which makes me think they had to clear everything with Leno beforehand. Other timely topics include Japanese Viagra, Monica Lewinsky, growing sheep bladders in a lab, and Steve Urkel from Family Matters being nWo black and white. We know that last part’s not true, as around this time Urkel was becoming one half of the Federation of Worldwide Wrestling Tag Team Champions and fighting the Bushwhackers.
One thing I need to note about this episode is that it might be the worst “wrestling” episode of Nitro ever, as there are barely any matches, a three-week old (bad) pay-per-view main event shown in full, tons of lengthy promos, and a 17-minute long Tonight Show parody. There are only seven matches in three hours — what’s up, modern day Raw — with four of the seven matches being squashes. It’s unforgivable, especially when the other show’s coming off a pay-per-view, featuring Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Undertaker teaming up in the main event, and tons of dick-chopping drama, both figurative and literal.
Hollywood Hogan is Bischoff’s guest, because Hogan and Scott Steiner are his only contacts. The original version of the segment has Bischoff and Hogan reacting to Tonight Show footage of Leno and his band leader, Kevin Eubanks, making fun of Hogan. The Network version is just Hogan vaguely threatening Leno or giving him one more chance to stop running his mouth, or he’ll, “come to your show, and kick your butt right in front of your own Burbank-stack crowd, because Hollywood doesn’t take it lightly when you affect me financially, and personally, on any level.” CC Gawker Media.
Afterward, Mean Gene interviews a limping Diamond Dallas Page. Page says that Hogan will eventually Feel The Bang®, so Hogan — who I should remind you has already had an entire quarter hour dedicated to his feud with Jay Leno — has to come back out and cut another long promo to make sure he gets the last word on everything. He earns points for calling Page a “gutter trailer-trash puke,” then loses those points and every other point in history for adding that he’s, I quote, “saddled up, because I’m ready to ride your butt through the straddle of the night.”
If that’s not clear, he also claims he’ll, “ride you real hard, Diamond, and hang you up wet.” Hogan’s going to fuck Diamond Dallas Page in the ass, got it. You pick up a lot of strange habits when you spend a couple of weeks feuding with the ancient Egyptian equivalent to Pepe Le Pew.
This all sets up Page vs. Hogan for the main event of Nitro. Can you guess how it ends?
I’m running out of ways to joke about Nitro ending with the nWo beating everyone down and making all the top babyfaces look like helpless idiots all the time, so here’s another one of those. To make it even better, Bill Goldberg shows up to make the save for Page, and even HE gets beaten up. Giant just chokeslams him and lays him out. Now that Goldberg’s World Heavyweight Champion he’s way easier to beat up, because that’s how modern wrestling works, somehow. GOOD TIMES FOR EVERYONE! PLEASE DON’T CHANGE THE CHANNEL!
And That Wasn’t The Worst Goldberg Moment Of The Night
At the top of the show, nWo Kona Crush lays out a challenge on behalf of nWo Hollywood to one William Scott Goldberg, WCW Heavyweight Champion, because Curt Hennig’s already jobbed out to him a couple of times lately and they need to swap out interchangeable heel threats. To add insult to … previous insult, we find out that Goldberg’s personal locker room has been VANDALIZED AND SPRAY-PAINTED, despite there being like 30 police officers and security guards waiting just outside the door to walk him to the ring. Vincent and Brian Adams did a lot of training with the Faceless Men, apparently. Technically I guess the New World Order doesn’t have any faces either.
Anyway, Goldberg is tasked to respond to this, cutting his first-ever promo. As of 2019 we’ve heard plenty of Goldberg promos, especially during that WWE return where he desperately tried to convince his naked 10-year old son to respect him, but in 1998 this was a real novelty. Plus Goldberg didn’t sound like an old man yet, and like, whisper-screamed to sound tough. He kinda sounded like he needed a Hall’s.
“Please forgive me.” — Brian Adams
You know how the match goes, but I want to point out that Adams has officially topped Konnan as “the guy who takes the worst spear in history.” Whereas Konnan looked like he was taking the move in slow motion, Adams looks like he’s the Honky Tonk Man refusing to take a bump at an indie show. Look at this shit:
It’s so bad that rookie-ass Bill Goldberg decides to take control of the match and try again, but the second spear’s only slightly better. Here’s your regular reminder that this lady from a 1992 episode of WWF Superstars will always be correct about Crush.
In Other nWo Hollywood News, Because Of Course There’s More
Scott Norton defeating Jim Neidhart with one move is this week’s “Masterlock Lock of the Night,” despite not being a full nelson. Here’s the entire match, minus a lateral press, in a GIF. I’m down for a Flash Norton push, don’t get me wrong, I just know this is setting up him losing like a dork to Goldberg once Brian Adams dies and goes to Heaven.
New United States Champion Bret Hart is back to talking about being “screwed” again, this time comparing himself to Sting as guys who were their promotion’s legacy before being screwed by promoters. He tries to explain that him interfering in that Tag Team Championship last week and costing Sting the belts was an incidental thing, and that he just walked into the ring and pushed Sting because he … respects him? It’s not clear, but obviously Bret’s just being a total turd blossom about the whole thing.
Later, Sting and Scott Hall have a match inside either a pyro malfunction or Stephen King’s The Mist and Bret shows up again for a Respect Distraction. Sting, in a rare example of him not being completely stupid, just punches Hart instead of believing him. That brings out the nWo for another disqualification, because that’s the only way any of these matches are ending until the end of the company, sorry everybody.
Oh, and speaking of Scott Hall, he and Dusty Rhodes accost the announce team and declare that “by Texas rules,” Larry Zbyszko is now under a “gag order” for talking too much shit about the New World Order. They give Tony Schiavone a literal gag to enforce this, and I literally gag at the idea of another Larry Zbyszko angle.
Finally — I think — Scott Steiner and Buff Bagwell cut a promo about how they executed The Ultimate Swerve® on Rick Steiner last week, not mentioning that Rick is so generally dumb and gullible that they could’ve “swerved” him by putting a sock puppet on Scott’s hand and saying it was Buff Bagwell. He wouldn’t have known the difference until it hit him in the face.
They make sure to point out that Buff’s injury was legit, with him showing the neck surgery scar and everything, so people know the scary “career might be over” hospital stuff wasn’t a work, and that the attack on Rick was just a plan for his return. They also show an extreme closeup of Scott Steiner’s bicep (above) that I’m still not sure isn’t one of his balls. There’s working out, and then there’s doing so many bicep curls it looks like a pterodactyl’s scrotum.
Best/Worst: Stinko Malenko
The closest thing resembling a “good match” on this episode is the “last chance ever” for Dean Malenko to challenge Chris Jericho for the Cruiserweight Championship. If you’ve been following along, you know this is just an excuse for them to have Malenko and Jericho in the same company with all the “making fun of your dead father” stuff existing without them feuding. Malenko needs to be freed up for the Four Horsemen Revival story, and Jericho needs to remember there’s a whole division of opponents and not just this one little pissed-off mat-wrestling Murder Dad.
They go full mid-80s NWA here with the ref getting thumbed in the eye and Jericho trying to win via shenanigans with a Foreign Object. Malenko ducks the strike, backdrops the object out of Jericho’s hands, and picks it up to hit HIM with it … just in time for the referee to recover and see Malenko Cheating To Win. Malenko loses via disqualification, will never (eh-eh-eh-eh-eeeever) get another shot at the WCW Cruiserweight Championship, and Jericho’s free to engage in some cruiserweight feuds that Malenko has nothing to do with. [loud non-spoiler coughing noises]
Note: The best part of the match is Malenko pulling out his rarest instant kill move, the top rope DDT. Jericho only survives because he lands too close to the ropes.
If that looks familiar to you, you may remember it as the way Malenko defeats Scotty 2 Hotty in the WWF Light Heavyweight Championship at Backlash 2000. You wouldn’t think Malenko’d have a better top rope move than the gutbuster, but “a thousand” is a hell of a lot of holds to know.
Bad Fashion Of The Week
Somewhere near the beginning of the show, Raven cuts a promo about how “things are supposed to be different than they were in high school,” which seemed like a bunch of whining in 1998, but now sounds pretty legit. We really did reshape the world so all the people who were popular or privileged in high school could just keep being dumb assholes for the rest of their lives. Maybe that’s how it’s always been? Was Raven always right? Ugh, I need to buy a leather jacket and cut the sleeves off my Sandman t-shirts, brb.
Anyway, Perry Saturn runs out to shade him for being a “spoiled rich kid” and still thinking things are hard, and does so while wearing uncomfortably tight jean shorts and a white v-neck tank top tucked into them. It’s … a look. The white socks, chain necklace, and grey on the front of the tank make him look like a pirate who just raided a Fire Island dad party. It’s weird that Saturn only looks like a human being when he’s wearing a hooded jean jacket and shredded up jorts.
Kanyon shows up to try to attack Saturn, gets suplexed, then saves Raven from a Death Valley Driver to get revenge for said suplex. This is all building to a triple threat Raven’s Rules match at Road Wild featuring three of the only guys on the show who look like they might want to get into a fight at a Sturgis bike rally.
In other bad fashion news, Hacksaw Jim Duggan vs. The Barbarian ends with Duggan winning via Divas Roll-up and getting into a brawl with whatever’s left of the Dungeon of Doom. Meng makes the save but also attacks Duggan, because MENG, and if I have to look at this unflattering angle of Hacksaw’s office supply drawer, so do you.
Best: Broken Horses
The only good promo of the night belongs to Arn Anderson, who talks about how Dean Malenko and Steve McMichael tried to make the idea of a Four Horseman reformation personal, and how it almost worked. But tonight he watched Malenko lose a match like a dumbass to a guy he should’ve beaten, and watched Mongo lose the 1-800-COLLECT match of the night to Curt Hennig, the guy who destroyed the Horsemen in the first place, so they should just let it go.
It’s honestly a shame that Arn Anderson had to be out here doing this really great work on a show that doesn’t want the Horsemen to exist, between segments about how wonderful Hollywood Hogan and people who are famous for shit other than wrestling are. It’s also pretty sad knowing where this story goes and where everyone ends up, and how even the epic Ric Flair return promo later this year (that might be the greatest promo in Nitro history, if not wrestling history) doesn’t really lead to anything but the Horsemen getting emasculated and humiliated for the next three years. The nWo story needed to end with the Horsemen organizing WCW in the spirit of tradition and fighting back to rid the company of the group forever, and it probably should’ve happened a year and change ago.
[deep, endless sigh]