Previously on the Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro: Kevin Greene returned to challenge The Giant and get beaten up by nWo Hollywood, Goldberg got his famous head scab, and we found out that Eric Bischoff broke Macho Man Randy Savage’s leg with a series of vicious back leg front kicks.
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, featuring basketball guys AND football guys! They’re so much more important than professional wrestlers!
Up first, let’s check in on WCW Smackdown Live.
The One-Page Thunder Recap For June 24, 1998
You can watch this Thunder here.
Two major developments on this week’s Wednesday edition of Thunder. The first is that Diamond Dallas Page and Karl Malone are so incensed by Hollywood Hogan and Dennis Rodman’s antics that they’ll be driving a little ol’ convoy of 18-wheelers from Salt Lake City, Utah, to Tampa, Florida, in time for Nitro. If your immediate response to that was, “why don’t they just fly to Tampa, what good will it do them to drive giant trucks across the country, they can’t drive the trucks into the arena and run over the nWo in them,” don’t worry, Hogan asks that same shit on Nitro.
They also claim they’re “bringing a surprise” to Nitro, literally and figuratively fueling speculation that they’re bringing someone … or something … with them in the trucks. Spoiler alert, the trucks are full of steel chairs. Yes, Diamond Dallas Page and Karl Malone, who can each wield a maximum of one steel chair at a time, are bringing a parade of transfer trucks full of chairs to a wrestling arena that is already full of steel chairs. It’s not the best plan I’ve ever heard.
The second is that Sting reveals that any members of the Wolfpac can defend the Tag Team Championship now under “Wolfpac rules,” which you may know better as the Freebird Rule. This would be all well and good if not for the fact that when he and Giant won the tag titles while pledging to opposing chapters of the New World Order, The Giant got in big trouble for deciding that he could randomly pick another member of the nWo to defend them with, necessitating a singles match for tag belts. The stipulation there is that a member of the tag champs can’t pick a random guy to team with, and that the winner would have their randomly selected partner authorized by WCW. And then Sting won, made a big deal out of which Wolfpac member he’d pick to team with for like an entire episode, picked Kevin Nash, and then immediately started defending the titles with a different guy.
On Thunder, Sting and Lex Luger defend the championship against The Giant and his tag team partner of choice, Brian Adams, who Michael Buffer refers to as, and I’m quoting here, “the self-proclaimed MACK DADDY of the nWo.” He’s also now BIG Brian Adams, presumably to differentiate himself from the 5-foot-8 Canadian rock star.
And now, the Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro for June 29, 1998.
About That Convoy
Nitro picks back up with the caravan, as Diamond Dallas Page and Karl Malone, who want open borders, cause crime and terrorists to pour into our country, some bad people, believe me, folks.
But no, Malone and Page have been driving across the country since last Wednesday, and are set to arrive in Tampa at the Ice Palace … uh, sometime before Nitro ends, hopefully. In preparation, Hollywood Hogan hands out crowbars and Junkyard Dog-style chain necklaces to everyone in his squad, because, you know, it’s one wrestler and one non-wrestler who made a threat and then gave them a week to prepare.
We check back in with the convoy throughout the show, and if you’re the type of person who tunes into a primetime wrestling show to watch about 25 minutes of traffic copter footage, this is your WrestleMania. Thankfully they’re running a little late, so there’s plenty of time for Hogan to wander out to the ring in an old-timey Ebenezer Scrooge night cap with nWo branding to cut two (2) different rambling promos.
Highlights include him calling Dennis Rodman both a “Basketball God” and “Black Jesus” — if you’re gonna get a black tag team partner, at least get a rich one, am I right, Hulk — and declares that Karl Malone will, “go down in history as the biggest loser to end his career by shining Hollywood Hogan’s shoes,” which has its own prejudiced connotations, and does a great disservice to the legacy of Brutus Beefcake.
Seriously though, the threats they drop are top shelf. Hogan: “You know something there’s a few things in life that make Hollywood real sick. Losers are one, people who don’t have no guts are another, but stone cold cowards make me so sick, I can’t wait.” Amazingly, Bischoff tops that, and lands the whitest pronunciation of “cojones” ever recorded.
“I tell you what, you know, Rodzilla may be a little late for practice once in a while, but at least he’s got the ca-hoggies to show up for the big game, you know what I mean, KARL? Hey you know what they did, they did name a restaurant after Karl Malone, you did hear about this, the Carl’s Jr. stuff, and I think he’s Carl Jr.”
You know what, that’s actually bad enough for me to pause the A-story and segue into this episode’s B-story, which on the “letters indicating importance” scale is somewhere below a Z. This is the episode where “The Eric Bischoff Show,” previously just Bischoff on a stool talking to Scott Steiner, becomes a full-on The Tonight Show parody. It is legend.
Welcome to nWo Late Hour, a late night talk show aired at like 9:45 in the middle of a wrestling show. It’s hosted by Eric Bischoff, with Miss Elizabeth as his apparently mute co-host. He’s also got a band leader: musical comedian Reverend Billy C. Wirtz.
This Bill Wirtz, not to be confused with musical comedian and kitschy YouTube personality Bill Wurtz, is sort of like Ray Stevens (the musician, not the wrestler) for people without even a grandpa’s sense of humor. Some of his hits include ‘Honky Tonk Hermaphrodite’ (“Some folks laugh at me and to others I’m an object of pity/above the belt I’m Tanya Tucker, but down below I’m Conway Twitty”) and ‘A Pinhead Will Survive’ (“Send me to the Middle East, that’s what I said/I’ll line ’em up and shoot ’em in the head”). Booking KISS doesn’t seem like such a bad idea now, huh?
If you watch the Network version of the episode, you won’t even notice Billy’s there. That’s because they cut his entire rambling introduction, which might have received the most well-earned boos I’ve ever heard on a wrestling show. Allow me to commit the unforgivable sin of transcribing this for you. The audio’s not bad on the clip, God just doesn’t want you to hear it.
“I’m telling you you can you can feel it in the air. It’s like the first time the Beatles were on Ed Sullivan, it’s like the Barney on the motorcycle episode on Andy Griffith, and it’s kinda like the first time they ever had transsexual truck drivers with eating disorders beating the hell out of each other on Jerry Springer kinda all wrapped up in one SOMEBODY SAY YEAH”
Who all seen the Leprechaun, say yeah!
Here’s his answer to, “Why do they call you the Reverend?”
“Well I tell you what, it’s because I’m the right reverend of rock and roll, the high prophet of butt wiggle and boogie woogie, and somebody out there tonight said they wanted to get down, somebody out there at the house said they wanted to rock and roll, and I know that somebody out there tonight is sitting there in TV land tonight saying baby you look pretty good in that little leopard skin leotard getup and I sure do appreciate you putting my favorite hot sauce on those barbecue pork rinds and you’re looking mighty fine walking across the living room of the double wide in those white go go boots but you’re gonna have to stick in your false teeth and sit down because it’s time for the Reverend Billy C. Wirtz, the Polyester Prophets, and of course the man of the hour, Mr. Eric Bischoff, auhhh!”
The only things approaching a highlight here are Scott Steiner having veins on his biceps the size of index fingers, and the tease that Steiner’s latest Hollywood co-star will be a big surprise. Trust me, unless you’re expecting the soul of a dying murderer transferred into a child’s doll via voodoo ritual, you’re going to be surprised.
Anyway, back to this mess.
Okay, so, despite planning this cross-country road trip on Wednesday and having five days to complete it on time, Malone and Page don’t pull up to the arena until like three minutes before the show’s supposed to go off the air. They’re so late that Hogan’s in the ring cutting a promo and just stops to lean against the corner, because he’s run out of things to say.
We cut to the parking lot for the big arrival, where over half a dozen members of the nWo are waiting with chains and crowbars. The truck pulls up, so the nWo tries to form a human wall in front of it (?) then TURN AND RUN AWAY IN TERROR while the truck honks its horn and slowly pulls to a stop where they were standing.
This is the funniest shit in the world to me. Are the nWo afraid of big trucks? Did they think Hogan gave them those weapons so they could fight the truck itself, and not like, wait for the two guys inside of it to park and get out? Did they think the truck wasn’t going to be moving when it arrived at the arena? And even if they ran away initially to pretend like the truck had come barrelling in at top speed or whatever, why didn’t they jog back over when Page and Malone hopped out? They just peaced out.
It gets even worse when Page and Malone actually make it to the ring with their chairs. They sneak up behind Hogan and Bischoff, then … clack their chairs together threateningly before DISCARDING THEM. They brought a truck full of chairs from Utah to an arena full of ALSO CHAIRS in Florida, only brought two of them to the ring, then didn’t even use them. Malone gives Hogan a weird Braun Strowman-style standing choke instead, then body slams him, and that’s it. The nWo meanders back out with their weapons, but stand in the aisle watching and doing nothing, because like seven guys with crowbars won’t have a chance against an unarmed wrestler who’s been driving for five straight days and his basketball friend.
Best: OLE, OLE OLE OLE, NITRO, NITRO
It’s time to formally welcome mild-mannered Canadian color commentating Juggalo turned schizophrenic vampire ghost Pope El Vampiro to WCW Monday Nitro. You may know him from four seasons of Lucha Underground, from his lucha libre career as “Vampiro Canadiense,” or from this WCW run that ends with him fighting Sting in graveyards and shit. Vampiro’s arc from “randomly guest starring additional luchador” to “fighting Hulk Hogan, pairing up the Insane Clown Posse with The Great Muta, and setting Sting on fire” is one of its greatest.
Here, he debuts with a squash win over Candy Hombre Brad Armstrong with the “Nail in the Coffin,” a Michinoku Driver where he practically goes spread-eagle and drops you on the top of your head. If you think a teenage version of me that loves cruiserweights and weird shit would instantly love a dreadlocked Canadian vampire luchador … yes, yes it does.
Best: Open The Turner Broadcast Gate
Some of Ultimo Dragon’s students have shown up on Nitro and Thunder in the past, but on this week’s Nitro, they all show up. This is more of a Dragon Gate show than most of the Dragon Gate USA shows that ran.
Up first is “Little Dragon,” better known as Dragon Kid. Dragon Kid’s one of the Dragon Gate guys who really made an international name for the promotion thanks to their appearances in Ring of Honor in and around 2006, and I once described him as, “the best wrestler in the world in about three of every ten moves.” He’ll hit about three spectacular spots you’ve never dreamed of seeing before, then blow the next seven. He’ll nail a springboard dragonrana and then break his leg trying to throw a hip toss. He’s fascinating, really.
Here he gets a big win against Eddie Guerrero (!) in a short match thanks to the ongoing insanity of Chavo Guerrero Jr. In addition to Dragon Kid, this match features another important Nitro debut:
Chavo’s hobby horse Pepe. While he’s not as precious and important as Nitro’s first Pepe, he becomes a memorable character of his own, and may or may not have confused my parents when I was way too old to be asking for a hobby horse for Christmas.
Eddie gets distracted by Pepe (and Chavo’s horse jokes) long enough to snatch it away and get rolled up by The Littlest Dragon for the loss. He tries to use it as a foreign object as well, and Pepe’s plus head goes flying into the crowd. Chavo has to like, fish it away from the fans off-screen so they can put it back together and finish the angle. It’s great, in a “nobody’s paying attention to us, so let’s have fun” kind of way.
In other future Dragon Gate star news, the specific martial arts duo of Sumo Fuji and Judo Suwa end up on the wrong side of a 2-on-1 handicap match against The Giant.
The joke is that Sumo Fuji only knows how to use sumo and Judo Suwa only knows how to use judo, and neither really work when you’re five feet tall and wrestling The World’s Largest Athlete. Suwa’s attempted judo throw answers the question of, “could Ronda Rousey beat up The Big Show in a shoot fight” (no, no she could not), and Fuji shows that you have to be Akebono-sized to beat him with sumo.
Next week, The Giant takes on Kendo Suzuki and Daitō-ryū Aiki-jūjutsu Daryl to check off two more boxes from his list.
The best match of the night featuring the students is Shiima “Nabunaga” and Tokyo Magnum against the newly formed duo The Dancing Fools, Alex Wright and Disco Inferno. If you think WWE’s mash-up themes are bad, wait until you hear WCW simply switch back and forth between entrances themes for Wright and Disco’s dancing.
It’s a pretty good match that the crowd is too busy wondering about Karl Malone’s gas mileage and pee breaks to enjoy, but CIMA’s already got a lot going for him here. He hits a springboard senton late in the match that absolutely rules. Plus, Magnum Tokyo’s love of dancing immediately making him want to be a part of the rival team is the kind of glorious attention to detail I love in my ridiculous Dragon Gate characters.
I can’t believe Alex Wright would reject him like that. You think he’d already know a lot about Magnums.
Finally we have the paterfamilias of Toryumon, Ultimo Dragon, who is being manipulated by Chris Jericho into wrestling for all the wrong reasons. On Thunder, Jericho — who was only awarded the Cruiserweight Championship on the stipulation that he fight Dean Malenko — announces that the rule book says he has the right of first refusal for opponents and simply must defend the title every 30 days, so he’ll defend against anyone, anwyhere, just not against Dean. “Jojo” Dillon interrupts, mentions that the WCW executive committee doesn’t like to be jerked around, and tells him he’s changed the rule: Jericho has to defend against Malenko at Bash at the Beach, or else. Jericho’s whimerping “ahh!” screams are the greatest.
On Thunder, Jericho’s about to lose to the Ultimo Dragon, so he starts loudly shading Dean Malenko’s dead dad again. Jericho ends up in the Dragon Sleeper and is about to tap, but an irate Malenko storms out and attacks him, causing the disqualification. Later, backstage, Jericho approaches Dragon like, “c’mon man, you were about to win, you can’t let that slide,” before being chased out of the arena again.
On Nitro, Jericho butters up Dragon (“you were always my favorite!”) and tells him that he’ll give him a Cruiserweight Championship match if he can beat Malenko. Jericho’s thinking here is that if Dragon beats Malenko, Malenko will no longer be the number one contender, and he can argue Dragon into that spot instead. Malenko’s about to put Dragon away with a Texas Cloverleaf and win, so Jericho wanders out with a microphone and announces, “isn’t this Tampa? ISN’T THIS WHERE YOUR FATHER IS BURIED,” (Jesus Christ) and gets Malenko to chase him again. Ultimo Dragon wins by count-out, and Jericho technically gets what he wants, because he’s the worst person in the entire world.
Best: This Guy’s Sign
Where’s the lie?
One thing I want to point out is that Kanyon is the shit, and does something new every time he gets into the ring. He’s so immediately impressive in a way that Mortis was never really asked to be, and I kinda hate that he’s already the third wheel in a Raven vs. Saturn feud. Here he gets a win over based nephew Horace Hogan, who ranks just behind Pepe as this episode’s best Horace.
Speaking of Raven and Saturn, Saturn wins one of those “can he pick up REESE?” matches — of course he can, Reese is really tall but not super fat or anything — and catches a Flock beatdown. Raven goes full right-winger here, saying it’s Saturn’s fault he was poor as a child, and tries to top Chris Jericho by saying it’s Saturn’s fault that his dad beat him. It’s pretty funny in retrospect that WWE’s idea of edgy was tits, dick-pointing, and supernatural episodes of Maury, while WCW’s idea of edgy was, “you deserved to be abused as a child.” WCW’s idea of edgy was also a 7-foot-tall mummy that humped you after you won a rooftop monster truck battle, though, so maybe wrestling’s just awful.
Also On This Episode
Baseball legend Wade Boggs is back, showing once again that his good friend and mentor Curt Hennig taught him the loyalty that helped him play for three different competing American League East teams.
We get a premature announcement that Kevin Greene and Bill Goldberg are teaming up against Curt Hennig and The Giant at Bash at the Beach, but it ends up being two separate one-on-one matches, because next week Nitro’s in the Georgia Dome and some important things happen. With Boggs showing up here, I’m surprised they didn’t try to run Wade Boggs and Curt Hennig vs. Kevin Greene and Don Mattingly at the Bash.
Sting and not technically Tag Team Champion Lex Luger defend the belts again on Nitro. You can see Sting going face-to-face with the only guy in the company as red as him, Jim Neidhart. Sting, Luger, Anvil, and the Bulldog have an extremely house show match with Sting acting like a total emotional goofball, Neidhart and Davey Boy stooging for the top faces like they’re Patterson and Brisco, and Luger doing his Lex Luger thing where he does jack shit for 10 minutes before making the crowd go ape-shit by flapping his arms up and down.
Stevie Ray is still hot about Chris Benoit trying to become a Member of Harlem Heat, which sets up Stevie and Booker vs. Mongo and Benoit. That ends with Bret Hart showing up and smashing Booker in the back with a steel chair and Mongo winning the match, which (1) shows the ethical difference in character between Mongo and Benoit, who’d previously refused a cheap victory with an assist from Bret, and (2) sets up Booker T vs. Bret Hart at Bash at the Beach. It’s kinda crazy that a show could write intertwining stories like this and still have seven nWo guys run away from a parking truck.
Best: Glacier Main-Events The Ice Palace
Yeah, Billy Scott Goldberg absolutely wrecks him again (pictured), but how awesome is it that the homie Glacier got to be at the top of the card at a place called the Ice Palace? He even gets a full Michael Buffer entrance, which I’m pleased as frozen punch to share with you here:
“Coming to the ring at this time, wearing ICE BLUE with silver and black, he weights 241 pounds, and he stands in at six feet, two inches tall. He comes to us by way of the Shorinji Temple, Tokyo, Japan, where he has trained and mastered multiple forms of martial arts. His goal tonight is to leave this match as the new champion! Here is the man famous for the Cryonic Kick, the challengerrrrrr, Guuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuhlacier!“
Note: Buffer’s intros last longer than the match.
Nitro comes to the Georgia Dome for (arguably) their last truly important show ever, and one that immediately and irreversably overshadows the pay-per-view it’s supposed to be promoting. I can’t wait!