The Best And Worst Of WCW Monday Nitro 10/5/98: Man In The Mirror

Previously on the Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro: Sting’s best friend forever, Bret Hart, shockingly betrayed him. Who could’ve possibly known something like that would happen?

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 Halloween Havoc, brought to you by Halloween candy.

Up first, let’s see what happened on Thunder. It’s Must Not See TV!

The One-Page WCW Thunder Report For October 1, 1998

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Watch this week’s episode here.

The only thing worth noting from this week’s Thunder is that it features a rematch of sorts of one of the best five-minute matches of all time: William Scott Goldberg’s United States Championship win over Raven from the April 20 edition of Nitro. This one’s a match for Goldberg’s WCW Heavyweight Championship — shout-out to Goldberg for finally defending against someone more difficult to beat than Scott Putski — but doesn’t have any of the same energy. The Flock’s gone, Goldberg’s already risen to the top, and it’s mostly just so Diamond Dallas Page can sit in on commentary and make us think he’s found a flaw in Bill’s game. Spoiler alert: the flaw is a vulnerability to electricity.

In this one, Raven accidentally bunny-hops himself through a table (pictured) and survives by pulling the referee in front of Goldberg’s spear. Page jogs down to the ring to keep Kanyon from contributing to the Damned Numbers Game™, and of course Goldberg no-sells and counters everything else until he wins the match. This is honestly most notable for being the first time Goldberg uses a standing side kick as offense. Goldie would famously use this maneuver to give Bret Hart actual brain damage and accidentally end his in-ring career at Starrcade ’99. Fun facts!

Also On This Episode

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  • Uhhh … [checks notes] Jerry Flynn vs. Mike Enos?
  • Other blockbuster matches on the Thursday show they SUPER care about include Lenny Lane vs. Van Hammer, Damien vs. the Disco Inferno, and Stevie Ray vs. Konnan.
  • So little happens in the episode that WWE Network gives “Macho Man does a Slim Jim commercial” its own searchable “moment”

And now, the show where things happen. Here’s the Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro for October 5, 1998.

Worst: Nothing Happens In Hour One

shit, nevermind

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A lot happens in this episode — including a limousine destruction via forklift, Ultimate Warrior going full Pennywise to haunt Hollywood Hogan, and a multi-segment televised bar crawl — but with Nitro starting at 8 and Raw not starting up until 9, World Championship Wrestling’s like, “dump all our garbage into hour one, it’s fine.” This includes three (3) Diamond Dallas Page vs. Goldberg hype videos and three (3) Hollywood Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior hype videos, and two segments where Mike Tenay wanders out into South Carolina to get trashy 90s moms to give match predictions. “GOAL BERG CAIN’T WIN CAUSE D-D-P GOT THE DIAMOND CUTTER, WOOOOO.” Note: Mike Tenay would get a much grander adventure outside of the arena later in the episode, but we’ll get to that. Also, the “mysterious laughter” on this week’s show happens in a show-opening Halloween Havoc promo, where nobody but the announce team can comment on it.

Hour one matches included:

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Wrath vs. Villano V, who is now EXTRA expendable now that his tag team partner was almost paralyzed on Nitro. The announce team can’t get enough of Wrath, talking openly and definitely not on cue about how he’s so big and strong and fast and undefeated that he’s, well, just like Goldberg! I don’t want to spoil the trajectory of WCW’s hot new stars for you, but he and the chubby little Mexican guy in the Pink Panther mask are the same amount of “like Goldberg.”

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Juventud Guerrera vs. Jerry Flynn, featuring the interesting booking decision of, “what if we have the top contender to the Cruiserweight Championship get his ass handed to him for a few minutes by our worst jobber?” WCW’s a real size queen, isn’t it?

Juvy manages to win with a pretty ill-advised Juvy Driver on the much bigger Flynn — don’t you have the 450 splash for moments like this? — and the match only seems to be happening so Disco Inferno can sit in on commentary and talk about how he’s lost 16 pounds since last Monday. It’s pretty funny to hear Tony Schiavone get indignant when Disco says Jerry Flynn’s a face to watch in the cruiserweight division, though.

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Ernest Miller vs. Kaz Hayashi, because Miller exclusively wrestles opponents who don’t understand English now and won’t know he’s giving them five seconds to avoid certain death at the registered hands of a 3-time World Karate Champion. After Miller wins, Sonny Onoo, seen here looking like bell boy at a hotel owned by Thanos, drops his Asian wrestler in favor of a guy who knows karate. Is that being more of a stereotype or less of one? I can’t decide.

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Saturn vs. Lizmark Jr. is this week’s Castrol GTX® Torture Test of The Week™, because watching the first hour of Nitro feels like torture!

Best: A New World Order Police State

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Chekhovs forklift

On last week’s episode, Bret Hart shockingly revealed that he’s not Sting’s special friend. He’s actually nWo for life. In response, the Wolfpac shows up to this week’s show, immediately marches into the nWo locker room, and starts beating the ever-loving piss Christ out of every nWo Hollywood guy they see. It’s the kind of thing that should probably happen more often on wrestling shows, if we’re being honest. If someone betrays you and tries to end your career, wouldn’t you show up to work the next day with a broom handle and beat them to death with it whether there were cameras on you or not?

This brawl continues for what feels like an entire quarter-hour. Highlights include:

  • the police get involved, and instead of giving up and being taken away in handcuffs, the wrestlers just keep fighting. Because who are you taking in a fight, 12-ish enraged pro wrestlers (including one who is 7 feet tall and like 400 pounds) or on-screen “security” who just hold up their arms and go HEY HEY HEY until everyone listens? Those dudes are the Navi of law enforcement
  • a cop bursting in like a HOUSE OF FIRE and immediately busting his ass on the locker room floor
  • the nWo starts fighting the police as well, featuring Big Poppa Pump Scott Steiner shoving both a male and a female cop, with varying degrees of success. I wish there’d been a canine cop in there for Scotty to shove as well
  • this amazing moment where the fight spills out into the hallway, and you see street clothes La Parka kinda lean into frame, then back up when he realizes he’s not supposed to be in the shot
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Sting eventually finds the man he was looking for — Bret Hart — and starts punching him around. Police are finally able to break up the fighting in the building, so the Wolfpac rushes out into the parking lot, commandeers a forklift, and uses it to destroy nWo Hollywood’s limousine. Because yes, Virginia, the WWF got everything cool idea they ever had from another wrestling promotion.

Sting gets a match with Hart for later in the night, but Mike Tenay approaches the black and red and notices that, “conspicuous by his absence is one Scott Hall.” All wrestling announcers learned conversational English from Perd Hapley. Based on Encyclopedia Tenay’s hunch, the Wolfpac decides to get back in their Hummer — no idea who is driving, don’t ask — and go pub crawling to find him.

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They visit a couple of sports bars that are completely empty on a Monday night, presumably because wrestling’s in town, that aren’t great commercials for local business. Tenay and the WCW camera crew follows them around in their own car, and if you ever wondered if the Professor keeps his hands at 10 and 2 while driving, you know he does.

Ultimately they find Hall in one of those southern bars that are extremely low-rent trailers that you can only tell are “bars” because they have neon signs in the windows and a bunch of trucks are parked out front. Hall and Nash get into a cat-fight on the billiards table, and it’s the most dangerous pool battle the Outsiders have had since Spring Break at Club La Vela. The best part is the yokel regulars who clearly had no idea WCW was going to do angle progression at their favorite bar and stare into the camera the entire time.

The fight continues until Nash puts Hall’s head in a toilet. Hey, it’s still better than what Hogan does on this episode.

Before we get to that, though, we have to touch on Sting and Bret Hart’s main event, which also turns into a backstage assault … in fact, it turns into the most dangerous match two wrestlers can have: a CLANGY POLE FIGHT.

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If you’ve watched WWE television in the past 20 years, you’ll recognize the clangy poles as the things that fall over during every backstage fight, and can drain 100% HP if they come into contact with human skin. You could pull out a gun and shoot someone in the face on a wrestling show and it wouldn’t hurt them as much as getting shoved into some freestanding metal sticks.

This turns into a real House of Flying Daggers situation between Sting and Hart, as they brawl backstage for what feels like forever until Sting’s finally able to lock in the Scorpion Death Lock. Around this time, WCW head of security Doug Dellinger shows up — “finally!” – Tony Schiavone –and the fight just kinda ends. Sting staggers away breathing heavily, and Bret limps away while the crowd boos. Isn’t it weird that people don’t want to pay lots of money to sit in an arena and watch wrestling on a TV screen? The nerve of some people!

Best Worst Ever: Mi Reflejo

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The Ultimate Warrior and his blood rival, Wood, are pretty low key for most of the episode, staying out of the nWo police riots in favor of cutting, “you suck, I’m gonna beat you at spooky wrestling,” promos for Halloween Havoc. That takes a hard left after The Disciple defeats Lenny Lane in a match that’s exactly as good as it sounds. Disciple stomps to the back, and we discover that Wood and Bischoff have been lurking in the shadows so they might follow him to the back and get a jump on the Warrior.

Wood doesn’t find the Disciple; instead, he finds a Haunted Mansion reflection of the Warrior in the dressing room mirror that only he can see! He starts selling it like the Warrior’s driving him to insanity and tells Bischoff to look, and Bischoff’s like, “LOOK AT WHAT??” Only … you know, we can see the Warrior, too. And it’s not a creative decision to illustrate Hogan’s descent into macho madness or whatever either, because the announcers can ALSO see it, and comment on it. Zbyszko helpfully adds, “He’s in the wall!” So Eric Bischoff is the only person in the world who can’t see Warrior here, because … reasons?

This a perfect little minute-long encapsulation of everything wrong about Warrior’s run in WCW, and it’s so precious to me. Too bad Blumhouse horror movies weren’t big in 1998, they could’ve done a bit where Hogan walks into the dressing room all scared and looks around the corner, and the camera pans over to reveal nothing. But when it pans back, Warrior is suddenly standing behind Hogan and there’s a LOUD NOISE. That would be so scary! Then they could do it 45 more times in the same episode!

Best: Reid The Room

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Realizing that he’s worse at understanding Wood than Jack Dawson, Bischoff wanders out to the ring and tries to cheer himself up with his favorite pastime: emasculating Ric Flair and the Four Horsemen in front of wrestling fans in the Carolinas. Instead of Ric, Bischoff actually gets 10-year old wrestling champion Reid Flair, seen here looking like Kurt Angle got cast as one of Tim the Tool Man’s kids on Home Improvement. Ric wanting to go to Reid’s wrestling tournament started this whole business, so Arn Anderson puts the kid over for a few minutes and then orders takedowns via CHILDHOOD WRESTLING EXCELLENCE.

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After realizing he’s been bested twice by the Attitude Era Nicholas Cone, Bischoff demands Actual Ric Flair with the most WCW Monday Nitro phrasing possible:

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Actual Ric finally shows up, and the segment devolves into a Horsemen vs. nWo Hollywood standoff before any child endangerment happens. It’s such a shame what happened to Reid for a thousand real life reasons, but also because even at 10 years old he had more personality and swagger than at least two of the five Horsemen. Probably three.

Important Character Debuts Of The Week

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Reid isn’t the only Flair child making his on-camera debut this week. Future WCW United States (seriously) and Tag Team Champion (seriously) David Flair shows up in the crowd wearing a Goldberg t-shirt and making the only face he knew how to make. David doesn’t get in on the brawl with the nWo, but hops the rail and climbs in the ring to celebrate with the Horsemen once everything’s over. On a positive note, it’s heartwarming and bittersweet to see Ric Flair in the ring with David and Reid. On a negative note, bruh, your 10-year old brother was shooting double-legs on the leader of the New World Order and you can’t even throw hands at Vincent? Get your shit together, Dave.

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Also making her on-camera debut this week is future WCW Tag Team Champion (again, seriously) Judy Bagwell, who shows up at the request of Rick Steiner to browbeat her son, Buff, about acting like a total prick in front of the same crowd who watched him almost die in the ring. She’s really on her high pole here. Sorry, high horse. Typo.

What’s especially funny is that this segment is followed by Rick Steiner vs. Brian Adams, and I’m pretty sure Marcus Bagwell’s shoot mom with her Janet Reno aesthetic had more to offer in the ring than Crush. Please enjoy this GIF of Adams taking a powerslam on the top of his head and almost paralyzing himself in the followup to a segment about how you shouldn’t mock paralysis. Thank goodness he pulled the Undertaker dive tuck at the last second. Look at the look on the referee’s face.

Best: Latino Meet

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Eddie Guerrero interrupts Hector Garza vs. Damien with an important idea: Eric Bischoff only books the stars of Mexico to fight each other, over and over, and never gives them the opportunity to face top level opponents and rise up the card. Please pay no attention to Mexican wrestler Psicosis challenging Cruiserweight Champion Billy Kidman on this episode. Or top Cruiserweight Championship contender Juventud Guerrera pinning a white guy twice his size earlier in the episode. Or Villano V and Lizmark Jr. wrestling non-Mexican opponents. But that’s just four examples from this one episode, work with him here!

Guerrero suggests the luchadors stop wrestling each other and form the Latino World Order. This will help them get nWo money, he insists, not really realizing the idea’s a little closer to Blue Meanie and Stevie Richards than Kevin Nash and Sting. Still, it’s progress, and the shirts are pretty cool looking, even if my lily-white ass could never wear one.

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Speaking of that Psicosis match, he goes WAY too high on a top rope headscissors attempt and lands on his head, setting up a shooting star press Kidman hit like it’s going up on his Manyvids page later. He came down with his right knee about an inch from Psicosis’ face, which might’ve been the end of dude’s career. Kidman fucking up shooting star presses already is probably a bad sign, but don’t pay attention to it. Somebody get Psicosis an lWo shirt, and some ice for his swollen brain.

Best: This Screenshot

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Diamond Dallas Page vs. Kanyon is the best match of the night, because of course it is, but ends in a disqualification when Raven and a desperate for love Lodi attack Page. Goldberg makes the save, and they do that corny “fight off the enemy, then accidentally back into each other and turn around ready to fight” bit. It’s not much, but I wanted to share this image I grabbed from it, which looks like it was drawn by John Kricfalusi.

Next Week

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The march to Halloween Havoc continues as Goldberg defends the WCW Heavyweight Championship against The Giant, Wood visits the New York Stock Exchange, and the Mysterious Laughing Man is finally revealed. Oh, I can’t wait!