The Best And Worst Of WCW Monday Nitro 11/30/98: Huckleberry Hounds

Previously on the Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro: Kevin Nash celebrated his World War 3 win by making a joke out of everything and burying Wrath. Plus, Ric Flair said Barry Windham would never turn on him like five seconds before Barry Windham totally turned on him.

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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And now, the Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro for November 30, 1998.

You Might Want To Sit Down, I Have Terrible News

Per an appearance on The Tonight Show you can’t even put highlights of on WWE Network without NBC’s lawyers descending on you like a muster of angry peacocks, wrestling legend Wood has decided to retire from professional wrestling to concentrate on his extremely serious run for President of the United States of America. Like the American people would ever vote one of Vince McMahon’s racist, increasingly senile, orange, carny buddies who is in the WWE Hall of Fame and once defeated him in a match at WrestleMania into the highest office in the country!

From private citizen Terry Gene Bollea:

“I had to come to the crossroads here. I’ve accomplished everything I’ve wanted to do in wrestling. My family is secure. I’ve had a great career. I wanted to come on and officially announce my retirement … All good things must come to an end. I had a great career. The fans have been great. I love you guys and thanks for sticking with me. And this really helps me segue into being the next president of the United States.”

It’s such a shame that Hogan walked away from wrestling at the top of his game, isn’t it? It’s crazy to think what he could’ve done with the next 20 years if he hadn’t dedicated his life to public service. Can you imagine how cool it’d be to see him get another, totally undeserved and illogical WWE Championship run? He could like, feud with the Undertaker over motorcycles. Maybe he’d start wrestling under a mask! And oh man, what if he went to Impact Wrestling? I bet he’d leave it better off than he found it. I bet he’d make a killing as the star of a reality television show, too, and stay away from controversy. He’d never, say, hooked up with Bubba the Love Sponge’s hotwife and take down a new media conglomerate. He could probably still be wrestling into his sixties, too, as long as he didn’t say anything deeply ignorant about his daughter’s love life while tapes were rolling! For want of a nail, man.

Anyway, due to the announcement of Wood’s permanent retirement from pro wrestling, no take-backs, Nitro opens with Eric Bischoff announcing that the most insane member of the New World Order, Scott Steiner, is now the leader of the New World Order. It’d be like if Emperor Palpatine died at the end of Return of the Jedi and the Empire replaced him with the Sarlacc.

Meanwhile, The Wolfpac Is Thriving

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With nWo Hollywood now led by a guy whose only connections to Hollywood were being allowed to sit in on Hulk Hogan interviews, the nWo Wolfpac take the opportunity to assert themselves as the dominant New World Order sub-faction in WCW.

First and foremost is Konnan, who wins the Television Championship from Chris Jericho in the show opener. Here’s how he opens the match:

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So, you know, it’s great. Nothing asserts your physical and professional dominance over the most promising and entertaining young star in the company like a title win due to popularity and some day-one gymnastics tumbling. Maybe Konnan had just played Sonic the Hedgehog and was trying to Spin Dash him?

Unfortunately for all of us, this is the beginning of the end for Chris Jericho in WCW. He’ll spend most of the next few months in an increasingly low-rent feud with Perry Saturn before taking a few trips to Japan, and by mid-summer he’ll be World Wrestling Federation bound. But we’ll get to all of that as it happens. Just remember that they ended his last WCW title reign on a whim in the opening of a random Nitro and gave it to a guy who can’t do a forward roll without looking like he’s succumbing to heat stroke.

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The Wolfpac A-story of the episode — the óral-A, if you will — is Kevin Nash cashing in his World War 3 In The Bank Briefcase and signing a contract to face World Heavyweight Champion Goldberg at Starrcade. At the time, Nash’s refusal to take anything seriously played like he was being a total “too cool for school” asshole opposite Goldberg’s awkward-in-conversation out-of-ring persona. In the ring, Goldberg was intense and electrifying. Out of it, he was basically the guy you see today.. Nash was Ethan Hawke from Reality Bites, and Goldberg was Ben Stiller. I guess that makes the WCW Heavyweight Championship Winona Ryder? Looking back, though, Nash isn’t taking things seriously because he knows he’s going to coast through the main event and win via cheating and a larger, more damning nWo plot at large.

In a completely unrelated story …

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Here’s Kevin Nash showing up to offer his assistance to Scott Hall, who wants to fight the nWo tonight. Nash quotes Tombstone, like your dad might!

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Because WCW, they decide to do the reunion of The Outsiders with no promotion and also in the middle of a random Nitro, in one of those matches that’s more angle than match. They end up tagging against Big Poppa Pump and apparently the second-best guy remaining in nWo Hollywood, HORACE HOGAN. The rub is that the super weird nWo referee with the whistle, so he helps the heels and refuses to count pins for Hall. You know how they do.

They give it a big crowd-pleasing finish, though. Hall hits the Outsiders Edge on Horace, who is like Hulk minus anything anybody ever liked about Hulk, and the evil ref refusing the count. Nash steps in and Jackknifes the ref, and a WCW referee slides in for the three. That should probably be a disqualification given the rules, but it’s a Kirkland brand Bill Alfonso referee gimmick, so beat him up as much as you’d like. Nash bails as soon as the fall goes down, once again calling into question he and Hall’s relationship. Nash said he’d be Hall’s huckleberry tonight, but made no promises about huckleberry maintenance.

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In additional Wolfpac news, Lex Luger defeats Brian Adams in that one match Lex Luger always has.

But Whither Bill Goldberg?

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If you’re wondering what happened to Bill Goldberg after the contract signing, would you believe he wandered outside of the arena and rolled around on a grassy knoll?

Bam Bam Bigelow “bought a ticket” to sit in the front row of Nitro and of course tried to jump the rail and give the ring the bum’s rush. Security held him back and escorted him out of the building, but that’s not enough for our Young Boomer champion. Goldberg follows him out into the parking lot, and they have something between a hockey fight and a cat fight on the lawn. Eventually security’s able to pull them apart again, and I can’t WAIT to see the big blowoff at Starrcade Superbrawl three months from now!

Worst: The Continued Decline Of The United States

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Also featured on this clip show of re-runs is Bret Hart refusing to face Diamond Dallas Page because he claims he’s “badly injured.” Page calls him “scum” a few dozen times, and falls into Hart’s trap: Hart says that he didn’t bring his gear because he was expecting to sit out the match, so if Page wants to still have their scheduled United States Championship match, he’ll have to agree to make it no disqualification. Page is like, “sure,” because he fell and hit his head on a coffee table at some point during the week.

If you’re Bret Hart, and you’re in a faction with a 7-foot tall and 500-pound man with nothing to do, how would you wrestle a no disqualification match? If you answered, “have that big motherfucker go out there and throw Diamond Dallas Page at the ground by the neck,” congratulations, you’re a wrestling genius. Giant kills DDP for like two of the match’s four whole minutes, and Bret Hart is once again your United States Champion. nWo Hollywood had to dominate something, guys.

Best: Horse Play

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Early in the show, Ric Flair shows up to do one of those promos where he flips out and yells the names of old wrestlers into the microphone while he shakes so hard you think his clothes are gonna fly off. Sometimes they do! THE FUNKS! THE BRISCOS! HARLEY RACE! And so on. Flair’s still trying to wrestle again, but Bischoff won’t let him due to a combination of pettiness and, purportedly, Flair’s age. Flair wants Bischoff in the ring. The closing statement: “COME JUMP ON THIS OLD MAN!”

Later in the night, the concerned little dad of the Four Horsemen, Dean Malenko, gets put into a match by Bischoff and given a “chance to be a hero.” It’ll be Malenko (with an injured leg and his best fluorescent polo) against recent traditional turncoat Barry Windham, one-on-one. If Malenko wins, Flair will get to wrestle Bischoff. Only it’s going to be impossible for Malenko to win, because (1) he’s injured, (2) he’s like a foot shorter and 70 pounds lighter than Barry Windham, and (3) nWo member Dusty Rhodes will be the special guest referee. Bischoff calls him, “Big D the Dustmaster.” The deck, as they say, is stacked.

The only thing Bischoff doesn’t take into consideration, however, is the relationship between Rhodes and Windham. If he knew about tradition, maybe he would’ve. Back in the day, Dusty took Barry under his wing to groom him as the next big thing in the National Wrestling Alliance. That student and mentor relationship fell apart when Windham made the first heel turn of his career and joined the Four Horsemen. Here’s a great clip of them beating the shit out of each other amid INDIGNANT SOUTHERN RAGE in 1988. Later in his career, Windham would pull a similar dick move on Dusty’s son, Dustin, during Clash of the Champions XXI (which you can read about here). Barry and Dustin were tag team partners, but Barry turned heel on him for not being ruthless and opportunistic enough. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, but suffice to say, the heat between the Rhodes and the Windhams is generational.

So yeah, when Windham won’t stop trying to injure Malenko’s already injured leg for fun, Dusty decides to right some wrongs and disqualify Windham. Malenko wins, which means Flair will get his shot at Eric Bischoff. Dusty’s dance of reclaimed honor and joy is tremendous:

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Even if you don’t know all that history, the only reason Dusty was in the nWo in the first place was due to his affection for Scott Hall. Why would he want to help the half of the nWo that just embarrassed and beat Scott Hall down? Bischoff instantly fires Rhodes on the spot and sends Windham after him, but the Horsemen step in to beat the dog shit out of Barry on Dusty’s behalf. This is one of those not-very-good-on-paper segments that plays out tremendously because Dusty Rhodes’ charisma plus Ric Flair’s charisma plus a 1998 wrestling crowd that wants to see Eric Bischoff drowned in a river equals a hell of a lot of fun.

Also On This Episode

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Wrath squashes Bobby Blaze, but everyone saw Wrath get punked out by Kevin Nash on last week’s show, so the sparkle’s gone. Plus, I’m pretty sure I could get in there and kick Bobby Blaze’s ass. You don’t prove much to the fans by quickly pinning the jobberest jobber when everyone just watched a name guy dunk on you for four minutes. Sorry, Wrath. Weed: The Tag Team’s not too far away, you’ll be okay.

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Raven still won’t wrestle because he’s depressed and Kanyon’s still tasked with babysitting him for some reason, so the ARMSTRONG BROTHERS of all people score an upset victory. I just want to take a moment to point out how awesome the Armstrong Brothers’ entrance theme was, as anyone who grew up watching WCW weekend shows knows. It sounded like Jean-Claude Van Damme had just put on his sunglasses and was driving a motorcycle into a sunset.

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Someone at WCW thinks Perry Saturn will get over by repeatedly losing to a non-threatening, 4-foot tall manager, so he takes another loss to Sonny Onoo. It’s supposed to be Saturn vs. The Cat, but the Cat (rightfully) asserts that Saturn’s not in his league, and would be better off facing Sonny. Cat tosses Sonny a chain during the match, but Saturn just scoops Sonny up for a Death Valley Driver and destroys him. The only problem is that Sonny stuffed the chain down the front of Saturn’s tights while he was up on his shoulders, so the Cat points it out after the match and the decision gets reversed. It’s good content if you like things that aren’t great.

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Booker T uses final day gymnastics tumbling (pictured) to defeat Mean Mike Enos. Everyone’s aware that Booker will eventually be a huge star, and that Enos won’t, so it is what it is. Stevie Ray does not make an appearance, presumably because Hollywood Hogan’s lining him up for a job as Press Secretary.

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Finally, Cruiserweight Champion Billy Kidman is able to defend against lWo leader Eddie Guerrero with an assist from reluctant lWo member Rey Mysterio. The referee gets bumped, which allows Juventud Guerrera to show up and run interference. Kidman fights him off, and Mysterio pops in like an assist trophy to dropkick Eddie in the back. Rey then helps up the KO’d ref, and Kidman gets the pin. Yes, Eddie Guerrero tried to powerbomb Kidman. No, it didn’t work.

Like all current “World Order” angles, the deemphasis on WCW’s participation really hurts the story, as the groups just kinda fight each other over and over for nothing. At least when it was nWo vs. WCW, the fight was for dominance of the promotion and naming rights. Now that it’s WCW/nWo and there are three nWos, it’s just an ouroboros of run-ins.

Next Week:

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There’s not much going on, but Scott Steiner kicks the shit out of a mascot. See you then!