Previously on the Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro: We survived World War 3 (again) with Kevin Nash as the new number one contender to Goldberg, Rick and Scott Steiner still not having a one-on-one match, and Bret Hart trying to defeat Diamond Dallas Page with a Montreal Screwjob.
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. It’s almost time for Starrcade 1998, featuring livestock management equipment!
And now, the Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro for November 23, 1998.
Worst: Starrcade, Here We Come
The big story coming out of World War 6 is that Kevin Nash won the 60-man battle royal and is the new number one contender for Bill Goldberg’s World Heavyweight Championship. The problem, like with almost 100% of Kevin Nash’s stories and matches, is that he doesn’t actually seems like he gives much of a shit about it.
The show opens with Goldberg and Nash running into each other (metaphorically) in the parking lot, with Nash joking to Konnan about how winning World War 3 means he’s “next.” Goldberg, who is at his very worst when someone clearly isn’t afraid of him, tells Nash to “ask his girlfriend,” presumably Konnan, about what being “next” actually means. We’re off to a great start, and we haven’t even gotten into the arena yet.
Later in the show, Nash gets a promo in the ring and no-sells the Goldberg chants. “I know the guy’s name is Goldberg.” Cool! He also manages to channel Paul Heyman about 14 years too early, noting that, “the thing is, I know the guy’s name’s Goldberg, but the bottom line is, when he’s got a one behind that 190, it’s gonna be … meee!!!!” He says “it’s gonna be me” like The Antichrist, by the way. The lucha libre heel, not the theological one. In case those two segments didn’t let you into the fact that Kevin Nash is too cool to make this sound like an important thing for even a second, Goldberg randomly runs into him backstage and once again tries to set things up like, you know, a wrestling match. Nash’s response:
I know it was the 1990s, and that not giving a shit and telling everyone to suck your dick was en vogue, but nothing takes the thrill and drama out of a guy who just won a 60-man battle royal challenging an undefeated champion for the top prize in the company in the main event of the biggest show of the year like a complete inability to show you care. It’d be one thing if the story ended with Nash getting wrecked because he didn’t take one of the biggest matches of his career seriously, but hindsight and a basic understanding of how WCW works lets you know that’s never, ever happening. I know you’re too good and smart for all of this, and that (kayfabe) (spoilers) you’re gonna emotionally manipulate your addict friend into attacking your opponent with a cattle prod as part of a grander scheme for the glory of Hulk Hogan, but can you at least use your time on the pretend fighting show to pretend?
After these weak attempts at verbal confrontation, it’s decided that Nash and Goldberg will engage in a bout of thematic one-upsmanship, with Goldberg going up against a 7-foot tall guy from the nWo, The Giant, and Nash taking on a guy with a winning streak who defeats his opponents quickly, Wrath. Oh, Wrath. Poor, poor Wrath.
The how and why of this is a point of contention, but I want to point out that Nash’s greatest strength as a politician — admittedly built purely from the past 20 years of me watching pro wrestling, watching shoot interviews, reading interviews, and talking to a variety of people who were involved and around at the time instead of any first-hand knowledge — is that when he buried the shit out of you, he did it in a way he could explain away later. The build to Starrcade needed to show Nash as a guy who could “break streaks,” so he got booked into a match to break a guy’s streak. The fact that this was a guy who had suddenly gotten popular with crowds and was an outspoken opponent and critic of The Kliq is irrelevant! The fact that Starrcade ends with him not being able to end a streak on his own and then immediately pivoting toward it being a big pointless swerve is ALSO irrelevant! He just … you know, completely crunches this hot, up and coming star clean as a sheet as what, a red herring? To what, show that he can easily defeat people doesn’t care about? I mean, all right.
But yeah, Nash defeats Wrath in four minutes to completely and utterly smash his push and momentum into a brick wall. Wrath would more or less have to start from the bottom again, and wouldn’t get anything going until he ended up being the guy who isn’t Crush in a tag team with Crush.
Meanwhile, you’ve got Goldberg doing his Goldberg thing. Can he get The Giant up for the Jackhammer? CAN HE DO IT? He’s done it multiple times before, but can he do it right now? Oh my goodness, he can!
The highlight of the match build is Mean Gene Okerlund interviewing The Giant about getting dumped out of the ring by Kevin Nash (cough) at World War 3. Gene says that Nash coordinated everyone left in the ring to, and I quote, “literally throw you out of the ring, gang style.” I know he just means they ganged up on him, but I’m laughing so hard at Gene Okerlund thinking gangs have so many battle royals that there’s an observable “style” of them. The Crips and the Bloods are gonna finally settle things in a KING OF THE MOUNTAIN match!
So Goldberg wins like he always does, and Bam Bam Bigelow shows up looking like a Jigglypuff made out of sweatpants to attack him. He and Goldberg have a big pull-apart brawl, and Bigelow gets dragged away by security as he’s still not technically a part of WCW. The show ends here, and the crowd goes home excited. Except it doesn’t, because as Bigelow’s being taken away, Kevin Nash wanders out to the ring for literally no reason and ALSO has a pull-apart brawl with Goldberg. Just right on top of the other one. You can debate on when Kevin Nash actually started booking the shows and making them about how great Kevin Nash is, but brother, he must’ve typed this one while wearing a single black glove and patting himself on the back.
Worst: Ric Flair Gets Barried
From last week’s Best and Worst of Nitro:
Are you Ric Flair? Do you want revenge against Eric Bischoff for orchestrating a plot wherein a legendary wrestler from the 1980s showed up and joined the Four Horsemen, only to almost immediately turn heel on you and embarrass the team into obscurity? Why not suddenly bring in a legendary wrestler from the 1980s and have him join the Four Horsemen, even after Eric Bischoff shows up immediately following his introduction and is like “HEY YOU, FLAIR, I DON’T NOW HOW YOU SUDDENLY HAVE THE POWER TO SIGN WRESTLERS AND PUT THEM INTO MATCHES, BUT I’M GONNA GET TO THE BOTTOM OF THIS!”
Enter the returning Barry Windham, low key one of the greatest professional wrestlers to ever lace up a pair of boots, but sadly going through a noticeable twilight of his career. He’d just spent a few years in the World Wrestling Federation as a complete afterthought, either as the camouflaged THE STALKER or as one half of the “New Blackjacks” alongside the only actual Texas cowboy who can’t convincingly play a Texas cowboy, Bradshaw. Now he’s back, and will presumably be the first aging star from the other company to randomly show up and not join the New World Order. Things are looking extremely positive for the Four Horsemen!
This week, Bischoff calls Flair and Windham to the ring to settle things. Bischoff, to Ric Flair’s face, says Barry Windham’s going to turn heel on him. Flair is like, “you don’t understand what it’s like to be a HORSEMAN!” Seconds later:
Don’t worry, it’s a bad night for the rest of the Horsemen, too! With Steve McMichael still in the hospital with a Critical Wrestling Ability Failure, it’s up to the Ice Man Dean Malenko to accept the challenge of New World Order assassin Bret Hart and [checks notes] gets beaten down by him so badly for 16 whole minutes that Diamond Dallas Page has to run out and save him from a complete leg amputation. Page had to make the save because the Horsemen were busy getting beaten up in the aisle by the nWo B-Team. Sure! The Horsemen are a good team full of tough guys. The only one to avoid total embarrassment on the night is Chris Benoit, who thoroughly chops Norman Smiley in the chest for enjoying ghost anal while he’s supposed to be wrestling.
Best: Custody Of Rey Mysterio Match
This week’s Nitro has two things on it I really enjoyed. Yes, they’re the cruiserweights, how’d you know?
Near the top of the show, Cruiserweight Champion Billy Kidman brings out Rey Mysterio Jr. to thank him for defying the authoritarian wishes of the Latino World Order and helping win back the championship. They shake hands and Kidman offers him a Cruiserweight Championship match, because now that he’s off the horse he’s a pretty good dude. Eddie Guerrero shows up to remind Rey of his professional and racial responsibilities, and gives him a 6XL t-shirt to wear as punishment. I assume they only made a 6XL shirt in case The Giant ever randomly heel turned on nWo Hollywood to team up with Ciclope and Damien. You know he at least thought about it.
Here’s what Rey actually looks like in the shirt, in case you’re wondering:
Kidman and Mysterio do what they do for about 10 minutes, making it far and away the most entertaining in-ring content of the night. As a match on WCW Monday Nitro they’re contractually obligated to involve a World Order in their finish, however, so the Lame Weak Organization pulls the Undisputed Era gambit and has Guerrero and his mostly pointless bodyguard distract the referee and Kidman while Juventud Guerrera sneaks into the ring in khaki pants and Michinokuly Drives Mysterio into the mat. Kidman, thinking he’s thwarted the run-in and that Mysterio’s lying there unconscious because of something he did somehow, climbs to the top and hits the Accidental Knee Drop for the win.
Best: That’s RUFUS!
The other highlight is (surprise!) Chris Jericho, showing up with hair so Final Fantasy he looks like both a character and the logo to make fun of Bobby Duncum Jr.’s cowboy gimmick. He knows that cowboys suck because he used to be one!
“The cowboy was embarrassed by Chris Jericho, he was torn apart, and I told you that crazy old wizard Stu Hart forced me to be a cowboy in my first match. Cowboy Chris Jericho from Casper, Wyoming, I HATE Cowboys, but I also remember that being a cowboy was kinda fun. I’m sure I could lass-oo a doe-gie and I could rustle up some vittles just as good as anybody else can! Thank you very much!”
As this is going on, Duncum — who defeated Glacier earlier in the night with a Skull-crushing Finale, of all things — shows up with a hog-tied Ralphus as his hostage. Jericho: “Get away from him! He’s a trained killer, he’ll rip you apart!”
That would be enough, but Gene Okerlund out-right refuses to get Ralphus’ name right.
Gene: “That’s Rufus!”
Tony Schiavone: [deadpan] “No, that’s Ralphus.”
Jericho: [screaming] “RALPHUS, IT’S RALPHUS”
[literally seconds later]
Gene: “That is Bobby Duncum Jr., and I believe he’s got … RUFUS!”
Ralphus stays hog-tied throughout an entire commercial break, causing the announce team to lose their shit laughing. Mike Tenay: “The most entertaining commercial break we’ve ever had on Nitro!” The best part is that he’s still lying there on the ground squaking when Scott Hall shows up for the next match.
Also On This Episode
As for Hall, he gets a rebound win against Alex Wright with the Outsider’s Edge and even gets the production team to cut the classic nWo theme as he’s walking to the ring. He’s on the side of the angels now, you see, and wants to prove to Good Guy Kevin Nash that he’s good enough for friendship. The nWo seriously needed a “hail Hydra” so they could communicate when multiple swerves were going on simultaneously. Hail Hogan, I guess? At least Hall’s on-screen alcoholism and addiction angle didn’t end with him trying to kill himself by jumping off the Nitro set. I don’t think those metal WCW letters are very high off the ground.
In a related note, Alex Wright’s the only dude in the world where you can still pick up the entirety of his dick print in a wide shot.
Lex Luger defeats Mean Mike Enos in the show opener. Enos is continuing his trend of having better matches than you’d expect with nearly everyone he wrestles, but nobody ever notices because it’s just expertly crafted Boring Wrestling. If you need a guy to powder a bunch, gain control, do a couple of cut-offs, do a big double down, and then take a finisher, Mike Enos is your motherfucker.
Perry Saturn defeats Silver King, and I want to take this opportunity to share this sign with you. SATUN IS AMBILOUSLY GAY. I think they’re talking about Saturn. Maybe they’re just super religious. Regardless, shout-out to this Michigander for seeing The Ambiguously Gay Duo on Saturday Night Live and thinking it was funny despite clearly having no idea what the word “ambiguous” is or means. Maybe a guy named Satun is from a place called “Ambilously Bay?”
The only thing to note from the match is that Saturn calls out Ernest Miller beforehand, and Miller answers with a mid-match promo that quotes Shaft and declares Sonny Onoo a “killer midget.”
Kanyon and Tokyo Magnum have a fun but super short little match that only exists because Raven is sad about his mom, or something, and doesn’t want to compete. Kanyon’s so confused and bummed out he won’t even do his “who betta” survey. You know things are bad when even the wrestlers are too depressed to do their bits. Kanyon wins with a nifty and totally logical Flatliner counter to a hip-toss, because some people are still trying.
Finally, Members of Harlem Heat are about to e.x.p.l.o.d.e. At World War 3, Booker T got involved in a Konnan versus Stevie Ray match (woof) to keep his brother from getting beaten down. On Nitro, Stevie Ray gets Booker diqualified by showing up and hitting Konnan in the back of the head with a slapjack. That thing seriously looks like you’re attacking a grown-ass man with a Dr. Scholl’s insert.
Stevie insists that Booker’s the one in a bad place, because he hadn’t finished off Konnan after four minutes of wrestling, calling it “ten.” Four minutes of a Konnan match does feel like ten, though, so I understand where he’s coming from. Hopefully we can get Horace Hogan and Brian Adams involved in this Stevie Ray and Konnan feud to make sure segments are as bad as possible.
It’s a contract signing for the main event of the biggest show of the year, which both competitors are taking very seriously! Plus, everything you saw THIS week, done again! WCW is fine, stop asking! See you then!