Previously on the Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro: Chris Jericho went to Capitol Hill to find a way to get back his Cruiserweight Championship, the nWo ripped off Militia for the Wolfpac entrance theme, and Sting decided it’d be a good idea to trust and hang out with all the people who’ve betrayed him recently. Because Sting.
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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Up first, let’s make like Imagine Dragons and half-ass our way through Thunder.
The One-Page Thunder Recap For June 4, 1998
You can watch this Thunder here.
It’s a big Thunder this week as The Giant (who is currently one-half of the WCW Tag Team Champions with Sting, despite Giant being nWo Hollywood and Sting being nWo Wolfpac) picks a new tag team partner. Giant’s on a squad with Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart, Scott Steiner, and Scott Hall but chooses Brian Adams to team with … and immediately loses the titles to Lex Luger and Diamond Dallas Page, rendering the whole thing pointless. And yes, that’s nWo Wolfpac Lex Luger teaming with WCW’s Diamond Dallas Page, recreating the same issue three times in one episode.
Don’t worry though, that’s also immediately retconned as James J. Dillon calls in and declares that The Giant has no legal right to name himself a new tag team partner and defend the WCW Tag Team Championship, meaning Luger and Page aren’t actually the champions. The solution: The Giant will face Sting one-on-one at the Great American Bash, and the winner of that match — that one person, by themselves — will be Tag Team Champions. Then they’ll be allowed to choose their own partner, and that team will be recognized as champs and allowed to defend. At this point they should’ve just It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World‘d them shits and said whichever nWo team could complete a scavenger hunt first would get to be champions.
Also on this week’s Thunder:
- in a moment that’s probably only important to me and maybe James Vandenberg, Glacier defeats Perry Saturn in the Battle of Kick Ownership when Kanyon shows up dressed as a referee and attacks Saturn. Kanyon then reveals himself as Mortis to Glacier, adding at least the vague impression of closure to the Blood Runs Cold angle. And yes, we’re all left to assume that Mortis picked up that lisp in the fighting pits of Thailand.
- Chris Jericho cites chapter 11, section 5, codical 8 of the 1934 NWA Wrestling rule book (the “Ed ‘The Strangler’ Lewis loophole), which states, “the champion has the first right of refusal over any challenger.” Because Jericho never consented to have Dean Malenko in the cruiserweight battle royal at Slamboree, Jericho claims Malenko is no longer champion. He tells him not to “desecrate the dead memory of his dead father” (lol) and yells GIVE IT TO ME GIVE IT TO ME GIVE IT TO ME until Malenko smashes him in the face with the belt.
- This also sets up one of my all-time favorite Tony Schiavone calls: “What I have right here is an NWA Wrestling rule book from 1934 that I found in the Library of Congress …” “There’s one of those in the Library of Congress?”
- Booker T scored another win in the best of seven series against Chris Benoit thanks to a Stevie Ray distraction, which, guys, is only going to make us have seven more matches, do you even watch wrestling
- Curt Hennig is supposed to be Goldberg’s 100th opponent at the Great American Bash, but he’s injured, so he’s subbing in Konnan. Yes, folks, the slowest and weakest wrestler in WCW will definitely be the guy who pins Goldberg. He’s gonna roll before he clotheslines!
- The WCW Thunder set gives Alex Wright a real case of the Spooky Dick
And now, the Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro for June 8, 1998.
Worst: Waiting For The Worm
Honestly the only thing you need to know about this episode is that Dennis Rodman is back and is, predictably, nWo Hollywood foe-life. It could be argued that the entire episode is based on the fact that he showed up, as we get numerous backstage segments of Rodman, Hollywood Hogan, Bret Hart, and Eric Bischoff hanging out with a bunch of Male Enhancement Talent in a weird New World Order green room. Hogan’s in nine segments in a two-hour show, in case you’d like a reason to flip over to Raw to see what Stone Cold’s doing. The highlight here, seriously, is when Rodman accidentally burns one of them with his cigar and she pretends to like it.
The show opens with the Wolfpac trying to cut a promo and getting cut off by the disembodied voice of the Hulkster. Apparently Hogan and his pals have found the Nitro production area, which for some reason is up in the stands and visible on the hard cam this week. They break the modern WWE Raw standard and then re-establish it by preventing a bunch of stars from talking forever, then throwing it to commercial as soon as anything exciting happens:
It’s a shame we didn’t hear more from Kevin Nash here, who is at his 90s best in a Wolfpac hockey sweater and a backwards Kangol with “porn ⭐️” on it. It’s the biggest shout-out to a generation of mall couture until a few years later when WWE turns Big Johnson into a character. I just wish Rob Van Dam had started calling his splash the Peace Frog.
Anyway, remember that thing I said about Rodman accidentally burning a woman with his cigar? I was going to call it the most psychosexual thing I’d ever seen on Monday Nitro, but I forgot about literally every Rowdy Roddy Piper promo.
He actually says “mail” there because he’s making a reference to Karl Malone, but if I told you he asked him if he’d gotten any mayo lately, you would’ve totally believed me, right?
A lot to unpack here, so I’m gonna take a page break to gather my thoughts.
Piper arrives and peppers the Detroit crowd with every sports-related cheap pop tactic he has in his promo toolbox, from referring to it as “the home of the Stanley Cup” and saying he’s going to hit Hogan and Hart “upside the head” so much they’ll feel like they’ve been “playing hockey with the Detroit Red Wings,” to comparing himself to Barry Sanders. When he’s done with the Detroit Sports Wikipedia page, he declares that Macho Man Randy Savage is a test tube baby. Piper promos sound like someone smashed Dennis Miller in the back of the head with a baseball bat.
Anyway, if you haven’t been following along, the story here is that Hogan and Hart are facing Savage and Piper at Great American Bash, and Hart’s planted the idea in Savage’s head that Piper’s secretly an nWo Hollywood sleeper agent who’s going to swerve him. Savage believes this, because he’s “not a mark.” You know how you can tell when someone’s not a mark? When they blindly believe what the wrestlers tell them as the truth!
Hogan shows up (again) and reveals the feud’s master stroke: the newest member of the black and white is Miss Elizabeth, who instantly replaces Miss nWo “Miss Becky” as Eric Bischoff’s hottest on-screen makeout. That record would stand until 2002, when busty witch Stephanie McMahon made out with Eric while he was dressed as her dad in the most Game of Thrones shit to ever happen on WWE television.
Savage’s extremely normal response to watching this happen: “Mercy mercy mercy! Elizabeth, Hollywood Hogan-ahhh! Let me tell you something that you both don’t know … Elizabeth, I got over you a long time ago! And Hollywood Hogan-AAAHHHH, I will never get over you! And Piper, I’m damn sure not over you!” And then he punches Piper. This is made even saucier by Hogan repeatedly calling them “girls” and “sissies,” and referring to Savage as “Mr. Viagra,” which he pronounces, “by-ogra.”
I’d have inserted Rowdy Roddy Piper Is Coming dot JPG in here somewhere, but I didn’t want to use it five times in the same column.
Meet The Newest Member Of The nWo, The Bad Guy From The Karate Kid
In other nWo news, Hollywood Hogan reveals that he’s “given the rub” to Scott Steiner and gotten him a position on his new film, Assault on Death Mountain. It’s a sequel to the 1997 cable classic Assault on Devil’s Island and sounds like a bad Legend of Zelda fan film. It continues the story of Mike McBride, a freelance military shadow warrior who looks like Hulk Hogan but has a full head of luxurious hair. I’m not sure what position Hogan got Steiner, though, as I can’t find Scott’s name anywhere in the credits.
One important note is that this video establishes three more names for the celebrity wing of the New World Order: Carl Weathers, Shannon Tweed, and Martin Kove, aka KREESE from The Karate Kid. All I want now is an episode of Nitro where Sonny Onoo acts like he’s going to murder him with his bare hands and then just honks his nose.
Worst: Who’s Waiting For Me When I Step In The Place? My Friend Steve Borden, Red In The Face
The only really historically notable bit from this week’s show is the debut of Wolfpac Sting, who has replaced the white paint with red for my least favorite Sting look ever. You may have read me refer to him as “dog dick Sting,” and it looks like Crow Sting fell asleep on the beach and got sunburned.
He informs The Giant that he is now a mean, wily veteran who looks like New Sting but cuts cornball promos like Old Sting, and that he’ll leave the Great American Bash as Tag Team Champions. Seems like they could’ve skipped a step if they’d just had Luger team with Sting on Thunder, but what do I know? The Giant’s response is to say that he’s going to eat Sting “like the chicken he is,” but honestly he looks more like salmon.
MORE HOLLYWOOD HOGAN PLEASE
At the top of the show, the Wolfpac was trying to recruit Diamond Dallas Page as their newest member following what went down on Thunder, and it’s such a topic of conversation that WCW sends Mike Tenay to a local college campus to ask some barely literate 19-year olds if they think it’ll happen. Interviews with fans are my favorite thing in the world, because all they can say is wrestling catchphrases. Tenay could’ve asked that kid “who invented the cotton gin,” and the kid would’ve looked down and to the left and yelled “Kevin Nash is big sexy he’s too sweet.”
By the end of the night, the dire wolves have organized enough to formally regroup and ask Page to join their team. Page seems honored by the request, which is weird considering that the reason he didn’t join the nWo back in the day was because Hall and Nash waited until they already had seven members before they asked him. If you’re keeping score at home, Page would’ve been the Wolfpac’s eighth guy. The point is moot, though, because before Page can answer he’s attacked by WCW Monday Nitro protagonists HOLLYWOOD HOGAN AND DENNIS RODMAN.
Somehow they’re able to beat Page down with chairs for like half a minute before anyone can get from the ring to the ramp, and the show goes off the air with three solid hours of nWo Hollywood vocally, professionally, physically, and socially making the Wolfpac look like a pile of off-brand dog-shit.
Were There Any Matches On This Show?
The good news: yes. The bad news? None of them mattered.
Yuji Nagata defeats Jerry Flynn by submission in the opener, and it’s the Snickers® You’d Have To Be Nuts To Book This of the week. Nagata’s New Japan lion mark track jacket rules, at least.
We also get another chapter of the Reese vs. Juventud Guerrera rivalry, which increasingly looks like a scene from The Secret World of Arrietty. The Flock comes out on top here thanks to the crackerjack combination of The Hogan Family Leg Drop and Juvy’s bromance with Heavy Metal Van Hammer, who was dumb enough on Thunder to back up into a stop sign to the dome despite clearly seeing a 6-foot-3 man standing on the apron holding a fucking stop sign over his head.
Eddie Guerrero faces Scott Putski, which is a lot like a chess match between Garry Kasparov and SCOTT PUTSKI. Guerrero even loses to the Putz when Eddie’s emotionally insane nephew sneaks down to the ring like a burglar in a cartoon and causes a disqualification.
You might be saying to yourself, “damn, Chavo deserves an ass-beating for causing Eddie Guerrero to lose a match to Ivan Putski’s clay-faced steroid son,” and if you are … don’t worry, he does. More on that in a bit.
Chris Benoit and Booker T are now six matches into their best of seven series and are running out of ideas for wrestling matches, so this one once again ends with Stevie Ray wandering down to the ring and pep-talking Booker to victory. We can’t hear what he says, but I assume it has something to do with how Benoit drinks milk and jacks crackers while feeding tomatoes to yaks, or whatever. I can’t wait until we get to the Stevie Ray on commentary era so my only joke about Stevie besides “owns a leather jacket that says BOXING” can make sense.
The series is now tied up at three matches a piece, with the climactic seventh match happening on Thursday’s Thunder. I don’t want to spoil it for you, but that match definitely doesn’t end with shenanigans that necessitate Booker and Benoit wrestling again at the Great American Bash.
WWE Performance Center trainers COLLIDE as Television Champion Fit Finlay defends against ‘Black Magic’ Norman Smiley. This is one of those matches that sucks out loud but would’ve ruled if (1) Finlay wasn’t just holding the championship in stasis while Benoit and Booker T fight over who deserves to be champion the most, and if (2) Norman Smiley was the butt-fucking weirdo he’d eventually become.
Dean Malenko gets a win over top-level cruiserweight opponent the Disco Inferno and screams at the camera, causing Tony Schiavone and Mike Tenay to open-mouthed gasp about the amount of emotion he’s showing. It’s fine. Disco’s better than you remember, but Malenko’s not very interesting unless he’s wrestling someone dynamic that compliments him.
As for Malenko’s blood rival, he shows up with a sealed shipping envelope containing a personalized letter from Ted Turner, which he decides to open and cold read over a live microphone. It starts off well for him, including a mention of Jane Fonda being a Jerichoholic, but whoops! It turns out that while Ted thinks Jericho’s great and has a good point about the illegality of the Slamboree cruiserweight battle royal, he’s decided to side with WCW officials because Jericho’s such a whiner.
Jericho ends the segment with the amazing line, “someone’s been messing with my letter from Ted Turner!”
And Finally, The Main Event
… in which the aforementioned insane Chavo Guerrero Jr. decides to challenge [checks notes] William Scott Goldberg for the United States Championship. Bruh. Chavo gets his lunch eaten and takes a spear so violent it leaves Goldberg doing a goddamn handstand over his corpse.
Eddie laughing really makes it. Needs more Hollywood Hogan, though.
It’s time to make the American Bash great again, featuring:
- Konnan probably defeating Goldberg, I’ll have to check
- very important wrestling star Randy Savage somehow losing twice in a row
- a new number one contender to the Television Championship being named after eight matches, which is hilarious because NORMAN SMILEY got a title match this week for doing nothing
- a satisfying resolution to the whole WCW Tag Team Championship mess, I bet
And allegedly more! See you then!