Previously on the Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro: Country superstars Travis Tritt performed his hits in front of about 8,000 bikers at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Also, Hulk Hogan sold more for a Jay Leno wristlock than he did in like six years of wrestling 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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And now, the Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro for August 10, 1998.
Best: I’m Assuming This Week’s Entire Show Is About Goldberg Vs. Meng
Road Wild, an event performed for free and main-evented by Jay Leno for however many not especially diverse motorcycle enthusiasts they could gather into a group at a South Dakota motorcycle rally, opened with a match between two heel Tongan tough guys in identical tights. Between Saturday and Monday, someone at WCW was like, “hey, aren’t we in South Dakota? Why don’t we have one of the heel Tongan tough guys fight a white dude who LOVES AMERICA THE MOST?” And lo, The Barbarian vs. Hacksaw Jim Duggan was born, and the crowd did rejoice.
That sounds like I’m being facetious, but the Rapid City crowd is extremely into this. The “U-S-A” chants are THUNDEROUS — WCW Thunderous, even — and by the sound of them you’d think they were 15 minutes into Adam Cole vs. Johnny Gargano at NXT TakeOver. Like a lot of things in modern times, the stuff that worked in pro wrestling from the 1950s to the 1980s has fallen to the wayside, but not in that big flat forehead of America.
Duggan picks up the win with a roll-up, because you’ve gotta protect THE BARBARIAN, which triggers a Dungeon of Doom beatdown. The Dungeon of Doom is just Barbarian, “Humerus,” and Jimmy Hart right now, by the way. I assume they still send in quarterly reports to The Master, who tries to keep up with it even though Hulkamania has been destroyed and he spends most of his day playing Goldeneye with Kevin Sullivan and showering in Not Hot water. Anyway, Meng shows up to make the save for Duggan and ends up attacking everyone including Duggan, murdering Santa Claus, and standing victorious in a pile of human debris.
Meng has to look strong because he’s main-eventing Nitro tonight against WCW Heavyweight Champion William Scott Goldberg with both nWo factions surrounding the ring. Why? Because Nitro. Goldberg was a non-nWo guy in an nWo battle royal at Road Wild, so maybe they’re returning the favor in reverse?
The Main Event Lasts 30 Seconds, Right?
No, surprisingly. Goldberg decides to put over Meng in a marathon 2:04, making it about 90 seconds longer than their Little Caesars commercial.
Longtime readers may remember that the last time Goldberg fought Meng was on WCW Saturday Night, the weekend before his ill-fated Nitro match with Lord Steven Regal. If you missed it, that’s the one where how-green-was-your-valley Goldberg almost paralyzes Meng with a suplex, then walks across the ring and almost paralyzes Jimmy Hart with a press slam. Seriously, you can almost fit two in-ring deaths into the same GIF.
Because they have some kind of magical anti-chemistry, this one ends weird, too. You’d think there’d only be so many ways to fuck up, “do a move, Goldberg no-sells it, spear, Jackhammer, you’re out,” but they do it. Meng grabs the Tongan Death Grip and forces Goldberg to the mat, and if the referee had been in position or thought to do it, Meng would’ve won by pinfall. Goldberg’s shoulders are down for like a four count. Meng, assume-ming he’s won, just lets go of the hold and walks away with his arms in the air to get into spear position.
Great work, Meng, you’re a ring general. A Meng General. Goldberg wins, proving once again that he can easily retain the Heavyweight Championship against anyone who steps into the ring unqualified for a Heavyweight Championship match.
After the match, there’s another nWo donnybrook. The Sleepy Terry version of Hollywood Hogan sneaks into the ring behind the champ and hits him with a steel chair, but Kevin Nash steps in and disarms him, sending him fleeing. Goldberg then turns around and spears Nash, thinking he’s the one that hit him with a chair. Oh no! But Kevin Nash is your friend, and definitely not secretly still in league with Hogan!
Spoiler note: We’re about six months away from the Fingerpoke of Doom and the reveal that Nash and Hogan are working together, so it’s fun to recontextualize these Wolfpac vs. Hollywood Nitros. Basically, the nWo decided to do a “brand split” to ingratiate themselves to WCW crowds again and control both the “heel” and “face” sides of World Championship Wrestling. This put guys like Sting and Luger under their thumb (with nWo-ites Nash and K-Dogg to watch them) while the rest of the nWo ran amuck. It’s honestly kind of brilliant, if I thought anyone on the creative side was thinking “Nash and Hogan are secretly still in cahoots” before that Monday afternoon ahead of the fingerpoke.
Speaking Of ‘The Entire Show Is About The nWo’
The fallout of Hulk Hogan losing a wrestling match to Jay Leno is the fallout from every Hogan loss; Hogan and Bischoff show up to cut multiple promos about how Hogan actually won, maybe with some doctored or incomplete footage from the event, and the announce team spends the rest of the show going, “uh, I don’t know, fans,” while trying to sell you the pay-per-view replay. Hogan is never allowed to look weak, and wins and losses don’t matter because of the cult of personality. Sounds like [charged statement about our current political climate]!
Hogan assures us throughout the night that there’s nobody in the world that can beat him. Somewhere in Parts Unknown, a pile of steroids with hair metal hair and a sleeveless trench slowly begins to snort.
Best: Everybody Does It, All The Teams Slap Ass, Man
Hey, remember the time Lex Luger won the United States Championship on Nitro and the Wolfpac congratulated him with a game of slap-ass?
Two things are good here:
- Hart vs. Luger isn’t anything to really write home about, but Bret works overtime carrying Lex to a watchable, somewhat lengthy championship match on Nitro with a clean finish — Hart bumps the ref and tries to cheat, Luger avoids it and Racks him — and consequence. Plus, like Goldberg going over Hogan in the Georgia Dome but on a much smaller scale, it’s a rare happy moment on a show built from the ground up to disappoint us and only thrill us while it’s going off the air.
- Luger’s reactions to the slap-ass. It looks like he’s never had anyone touch his butt before and he’s VERY INTO IT. Look at his face, that looks like someone who just got off a roller coaster.
- Sting slapping Lex’s ass and then giving him a thumbs up is so damn Caucasian it should’ve turned his face paint white.
- Luger holds the championship for three days, because this is WCW, and you can’t be happy, not even for a second
Best: That’s Not The Only Title Change!
Q: Stevie Ray and Chavo Guerrero Jr. are feuding over the Television Championship despite neither of them being Television Champion. How can we overbook this?
A: Have a rematch from Road Wild set for Nitro, but have Chavo show up upset that he can’t find his hobby horse, Pepe. Have Chris Jericho of all people show up with Pepe, lure Chavo backstage, and beat him up (off camera, but with a live mic). Jericho then takes his spot against Stevie in the Television Championship match, even though (again) neither of them is Television Champion. Then have nWo Hollywood member The Giant show up and chokeslam Stevie, giving Jericho the championship. This sets up Stevie Ray, but not Jericho, joining the nWo because he confronts them about the attacks on himself and his brother and Bret Hart tells him to “be a buddy.”
Anyway, I’m giving this a “Best” because it gets Jericho out of the cruiserweight scene, allowing cruisers other than him and Dean Malenko a second to shine, and because Jericho’s pin on Stevie is hilarious. Jericho’s weak sitcom-style victory jump might be the most underrated signature taunt in wrestling history. It always, always cracks me up.
Additional highlight: this guy’s gigantic BOOGER T sign.
Best: Kidman Prime
Speaking of giving new cruiserweights the chance to rise to the top of the division, new Cruiserweight Champion Juventud Guerrera miraculously avoids a Jericho loophole via Jericho’s waning attention span and goes up against a new “cleaned-up” version of Billy Kidman. If you watched the shows back in the day, this is the Kidman you remember. The one in the jorts and the white tanktop.
Juvy wins what’s more or less an extended squash to put over his title reign, and these two will have much better, much more important matches in the near future. By the time Starrcade ’98 rolls around, Kidman’s on par with Juventud and even Rey Mysterio Jr., when they (and Eddie Guerrero) combine their efforts to be one of the only watchable parts of one of the most mindbogglingly ill-advised collections of pay-per-view decisions ever.
Worst: Sting Is Still Stupid
Emboldened by Flexy Lexy’s United States Championship win, Sting and Kevin Nash team up to try to take back the WCW Tag Team Championship belts from Scott Hall and The Giant. Nitro has already reached its positivity quota, though, so it doesn’t really work out for them.
What I wanted to show you is how the match ends, because it’s one of the most accidentally funny things I think I’ve ever seen on the show. Sting hits three Stinger Splashes on a bumbling Scott Hall and locks him in the Scorpion Deathlock. As this is happening, the Giant gets into the ring and chokeslams the referee to keep him from calling the submission. Only … you know, the Giant is 7-feet tall and takes a second to get over there, and Sting just holds onto the Scorpion the entire time. The entire time.
Sting watches his opponent get into the ring, walk across it, grab the referee by the neck, hold the referee by the neck for several seconds so it’s clear what he’s planning to do, watches the referee CALL FOR THE BELL TO END THE MATCH, watches the referee get chokeslammed, and watches his opponent slowly LEAVE the ring before letting go of the hold. Bro, you wanna like, get involved here or what? Nobody slap Sting’s ass for the remainder of the evening.
And The Final Bit Of nWo News, I Think
Konnan is feuding with Curt Hennig re: who can choke who the most with a chain. Last week, Hennig choked Konnan with a necklace. This week, Konnan chokes HENNIG with a necklace. This culminates at the next pay-per-view with [brings up Wikipedia page] Konnan vs. Scott Hall and Curt Hennig vs. Dean Malenko. All right, I guess this is just freelance garroting, nevermind.
Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before
It was a bad night for the Flock!
It starts off well enough, with Lodi distracting the referee so Raven can interfere in a Kanyon vs. Saturn match, DDT Saturn, and give Kanyon the win to try to convince him he should be a part of the Flock. Keep in mind that the feud started when Mortis/Kanyon tried t join the Flock, and Raven beat him up about it. You’d think the pit-fighting skeleton man would’ve been a better “get” for the group than Scotty Riggs, but I don’t know how cult leader brains work.
Moments later, Sick Boy loses a one-on-one bout to the promotion’s ace, Mongo McMichael, and Lodi inadvertantly buries his own guy with a sign on the way to the ring. You’re right, Lodi, Sick Boy isn’t getting any better, and he just lost to the only guy on the show as competitively bad in the ring as Crush.
This culminates in one of two “you disappointed me at the bike rally” angles on the night with Raven taking on WCW’s ne’erdowell nephew Horace Boulder. Horace’s interference ended up costing Raven the triple threat match against Saturn and Kanyon at Road Wild, and, you know, he has to beat him up about it.
Surprisingly, Horace is victorace when Kanyon walks down the aisle to distract the Flock, allowing Saturn to sneak in from behind and Death Valley Driver Raven. Raven honestly should’ve just eschewed his jobber parade as early as possible, teamed up with Hoodie Saturna and Blood Runs Cold-ass Mortis, and called it a day. But again, Thanos attacks with a big army of indistinguishable jobber aliens instead of enlisting people who might actually have a chance in a fight against Captain America, so who knows.
Also On This Episode
Alex Wright is so upset at Stupid Little Japanese™ Tokyo Magnum causing problems during the Dancing Fools’ matches that he makes Magnum wrestle Eddie Guerrero in his place. Unsurprisingly, Eddie kicks the dog shit out of him and beats him easily. My major thought here is, “why did it take me 20 years to realize WCW built a dancing heel Axis Powers faction out of a German guy, an Italian guy, and a Japanese guy?” And that’s followed by a bunch of jokes that don’t totally work about how they should’ve made them the top heel group in the company, split them into two separate competing factions, and called the original one Axis Hollywood.
Rey Mysterio Jr. earns the biggest accolade of his illustrious career — the WCW Monday Nitro Masterlock Lock of the Night™ — by defeating Psicosis and Lizmark Jr. in a triple threat. Raw has been doing triple threat matches a lot lately (because ECW popularized them), so WCW’s finally on board and doing them outside of pay-per-views.
This is pretty good while it lasts, despite Lizmark obviously being out there to take the pin. Mysterio busts out a great monkeyflip into a hurricanrana for the win, and hits a really cool armbar facebuster thing someone should seriously be using as a signature move or a finish in 2019.
Note: If you’re a wrestler and you start using this, tweet it at me and I’ll send you a shirt.
We’ve finally reached the worst thing WCW ever did while it was supposed to be good. I’m so excited, you guys. Snoooooooort.