The Best And Worst Of WCW World War 3 1998

Previously on the Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro: “Monica Lewinsky” showed up to show her support for presidential hopeful Hollywood Hogan, Judy Bagwell was forced to drop out of her Tag Team Championship match due to an “attack from Scott Steiner,” and other things I can only type in quotation marks.

Click here to watch this pay-per-view 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 what’s technically WCW World War 6, originally aired on November 22, 1998.

Worst: It’s The Beginning Of The End For Wrath

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Over the past few months, former Blood Runs Cold weak link Wrath has been getting over huge thanks to his combination of hard-hitting Goldberg-style offense and … well, Goldberg-style win streak. People like Goldberg a lot right now, you see, and they aren’t unhappy to see Extra Goldberg. Up & Up brand Goldberg is still pretty fun, and preferable to a lot of WCW’s other mid-card ideas, such as, “remember Kendall Windham?” and, “remember Gentleman Chris Adams?” We can’t even get Jim Duggan and Jim Powers up in this piece anymore.

World War 3 1998 opens with Wrath taking on his old rival Glacier. Previously, Glacier had been the face and Wrath had been the heel. But Glacier’s been working heel as of late, using the dreaded Ice Pick to thumb his opponents to death, and Wrath’s been a total unstoppable babyface. This is where you can see how much better and experienced of a wrestler Glacier is; he wrestles the match like a complete stooge heel, powdering multiple times for Wrath, getting chased out into the crowd, controlling on offense but only in an opportunistic way … but Wrath is also wrestling like a heel. And not just in a big tough guy kind of way, either. He’s like, putting his feet on the ropes for leverage during pins. It’s like he had this one match against Glacier in his head and refused to deviate from it, even when the booking, the crowd, and his opponent were begging him to. Super weird.

Wrath’s WCW run (as Wrath, at least) gets shut down about 24 hours after this pay-per-view, and retroactively I wonder if the way he wrestled this match was part of it?

Worst: The New World Order’s Worst, Together At Last

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Think it was a weird choice to run an 8-and-a-half-minute Wrath match as your pay-per-view opener? Wait until you see the two matches that followed it!

nWo Hollywood’s worst guy (Stevie Ray) (yes, he’s worse than Vincent, at least Vincent got to hold the IWGP Heavyweight Championship) goes one-on-one with nWo Wolfpac’s worst guy (Konnan) (do not let him speak on this). I would be mad at an episode of Thunder if it ran Konnan vs. Stevie Ray. Both men are sucking so much wind Donald Trump thinks they’ve got cancer about two minutes into the match, and it ends with castigo excesivo as Konnan won’t stop attacking him during the wrestling match. That finish wasn’t any better in 1998, in case you were wondering.

The only thing worth mentioning at all is that Booker T shows up to make the save for his brother, soothing the savage beast inside K-Dogg with some non-threatening hand gestures. Blood is thicker than remembering the booking, as they say. Stevie refuses Booker’s help, however, because he’s got nWo Virgil in his corner, and that’s clearly better and more effective backup than the guy who held his hand to 10 Tag Team Championships and waltzed him into the Hall of Fame of a company he never even worked for. Yes, Steve Ray, wrestling legend Soultrain Jones is the key.

Worst: Onoo He Didn’t

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How do you follow a match like Konnan vs. Stevie Ray? The resistible force meeting the moveable object? How about with Ernest ‘The Cat’ Miller teaming up with his manager in a karate outfit against Kaz Hayashi and Perry Saturn, of all people? Not sure what Summer Guy Saturn did to get pushed this far down the card, but it’s pretty embarrassing. Beats the hell out of having a lobotomy and making out with a mop, I guess.

Saturn, despite honestly being the only person in the match who looks like a wrestler and is over (my love of The Cat as a performer and as a general concept notwithstanding), is the one to take the pinfall. In the match against the non-wrestling manager in a child’s karate gi. When his tag team partner is KAZ HAYASHI, a guy who was still almost a year away from winning his first Nitro match. That shit comes on August 30, 1999, and it’s against Lodi. Saturn, you’re currently ranked below the jobbers, the managers, and the guys who open every match with a speech about how they hate wrestling but love karate.

Best, Mostly: The Juice Is Loosely Aligned

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Here’s a funny one. Can you remember when Juventud Guerrera joined the Latino World Order? Was it during a match on Nitro? No. Thunder? No. Saturday Night, or one of the weekend shows? Nope! Not even during this Cruiserweight Championship match at World War 3. Juvy turns heel and joins the nWo in the middle of an Eddie Guerrero vs. Rey Mysterio Jr. argument during the entrances for his World War 3 match. And he tries to get down to the ring without anybody noticing the turn.

Brother just shows up wearing the lWo shirt as a cape, where you can’t even see the logo. Gene Okerlund has to chase him out and make him turn it around, and then runs after him yelling “LWO, YOU SOLD OUT!” It’s hilarious. Eddie Guerrero interrupts to tell Gene to chill, and a rightfully angry Rey Mysterio shows up (having been forced to join the lWo via a loss “accidentally” caused by Juvy on Nitro) and wants answers. Juventud, still not into being the focal point of his own heel turn, stands behind Gene for the entire exchange.

The match itself is the best of the show, and the first thing to approach “good” all night. They try some ambitious stuff with the three-ring setup that would’ve been super cool and memorable if Juventud was half as good as Rey and could springboard from one set of ropes to the other without slipping and almost breaking his leg. Half as good as Rey is still about an eighth better than everybody else, though. Rey shows back up at the end to enact his professional revenge, grabbing onto Kidman’s jorts so Juvy flops off a hurricanrana attempt and gets dangerously Shooting Star Pressed for the loss. Kidman’s the Cruiserweight Champion again, the stage is set for a triple threat, and Rey Rey’s run afoul of pretty much every other luchador on the roster.

That’s the end of the good stuff. Hope you enjoyed it!

Worst: GASP, The Steiner Vs. Steiner Match … DOESN’T Happen??

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Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but the advertised match between Rick Steiner and Scott Steiner doesn’t take place due to nWo shenanigans. I know, I’m as shocked as you are. They’ve been building to this one pay-per-view match for eight months across countless weeks of television and multiple additional pay-per-view matches, and in the past two weeks went from “RICK WILL TEAM WITH BUFF BAGWELL’S MOM AGAINST SCOTT AND BUFF FOR SOME REASON” to “JUST KIDDING THAT IDEA WAS AWFUL HOW ABOUT JUST A ONE-ON-ONE MATCH WITH A FAKE NWO REFEREE” to “JUST KIDDING, THE GIANT, STEVIE RAY, VINCENT, AND BRIAN ADAMS BEAT RICK UP BEFORE THE MATCH.”

That’s not the end of it, though. The “match” still kinda “happens,” with Scott beating him up as the bizarre nWo referee hops around and the crowd boos. Eventually Goldberg, who is not on the card at all despite being the WCW Heavyweight Champion and his matches maxing out at about 90 seconds, shows up to “make the save.” Pop Pump greets him like the time-displaced future imperfect Matt Riddle he is:

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That, of course, gets Steiner speared. Everyone in the arena, everyone watching at home, and everyone who’s watched this over the past 20 years is like, “oh, why didn’t they just do Scott Steiner vs. Goldberg?” In a few weeks you’ll get to experience the sequel, which is, “why didn’t they just do Scott Steiner vs. Goldberg at Starrcade?”

The referee tries to make the save for Scotty, leading to a moment I’ve never forgotten as a fan, as it made Goldberg look like the most impossibly strong human being on the planet. I think he might’ve been, before he decided to punch out a limo window for real and slice the strength away. In case you’ve never seen it, please enjoy Goldberg bench pressing the nWo referee without any assistance whatsoever and literally tossing him from one ring into the center of another.

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As a personal side note, this is the exact moment that plays in my head with sad Katy Perry commentary over it when I watch the self-concussed old man version of Goldberg try and fail to lift a guy for a suplex. [dramatic piano] They ask you how you are and you just have to say that you’re fine when you’re not really fine.

Worst: Should Hall Acquaintance Be Forgot

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Immediately following that bait-and-switch is an appearance from Scott Hall and the remainder of nWo Hollywood. Eric Bischoff shows up, pretends to do a “survey” with the crowd, and then announces that the survey says kick the shit out of Scott Hall. Everyone turns on him and beats him down, which seems like really weird timing considering that in like 10 minutes they’re all gonna be in a 60-man battle royal together. Kevin Nash makes the save, the crowd gives Hall and Nash a big “Out-side-ERS!” chant, and Hall throws up the Too Sweet. Nash refuses, and walks out. Maybe he’ll write him a letter about how this is all a big nWo swerve he’s not in on and slip it under his door?

So yeah, instead of doing an actual Rick Steiner vs. Scott Steiner match, Scott Steiner vs. Goldberg, a rematch between Scott Hall and Kevin Nash, or Scott Hall versus Scott Norton or some other member of the nWo to move the story forward and give us a match to watch, WCW does two straight non-event segments in a row in the middle of their pay-per-view. I’d go back through and point out how many of those moments had to do with Kevin Nash, but I’m not sure our website can hold that many words without the servers collapsing.

Worst: Daddy Is Going To Kill Ralphus!

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Chris Jericho’s Television Championship defense against ‘Hangman’ Bobby Duncum Jr. isn’t a bad match, but gets less than zero heat because they debuted Duncum on Nitro six days ago against the same opponent. So like, what part of this are fans expected to latch onto? The cowboy guy they don’t know? The heel champion? The rematch from a non-finish in the middle of Nitro? Interference from the truck driver in a halter top at ringside who can’t move or take a bump for fear he’ll split open down the middle like a rotting animal carcass and spill maggots everywhere? He’s definitely a corpse somebody’s Weekend at Bernie-ing. I would believe Ralphus is a big-ass Muppet somebody found at a Goodwill and forgot to wash before I’d believe he’s a functioning human being.

Jericho wins off a distraction, and WCW’s opinion of Bobby Duncum Jr. continues to be, “Bobby Duncum Jr.”

Worst: Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner

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Now we get to our fourth attempt at making a 60-man battle royal fun to watch, despite there being way too many wrestlers in too small a space despite there being three full-sized wrestling rings. There’s no way a camera can catch all of the eliminations, or even MOST of the eliminations, or make the ones they do catch matter. There’s also no way a fan can follow any of this closely enough to care. This year’s edition features such luminaries as ‘Mr. Hole In One’ Barry Darsow, current Impact Wrestling superstar Johnny Swinger, and the one luchador in WCW too uncool for membership in the nWo lucha libre club.

The only really notable part of the match is when Bam Bam Bigelow materializes from the crowd and tries to invade. He gets quickly booted from the ring by the 800 wrestlers trying to have a battle royal, and then Goldberg jogs out so they can have a pull-apart brawl on the floor. Please note that we’re doing neither Goldberg vs. Scott Steiner nor Goldberg vs. Bam Bam Bigelow at Starrcade, despite those matches sounding pretty great and being built up on this very show. No, Goldberg has a much different kind of opponent at Starrcade. A political opponent, you might even say.

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Utlimately the match comes down to a battle between three factions: Konnan, Lex Luger, and Kevin Nash representing nWo Wolfpac; The Giant and Scott Hall, still represnting nWo Hollywood for some reason; and vanilla midgets Chris Benoit and Dean Malenko representing the Four Horsemen. How awesome would it have been if the main event of Starrcade had been Bill Goldberg’s streak ending at the hands of DEAN MALENKO?

But yeah, no, things quickly wind down and it’s none other than Big Sexy Kevin Nash who wins The War. Nash will move on to face Goldberg for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship at the biggest show of the year, while Scott Hall wanders around trying to earn back Nash’s love. And Hollywood Hogan is mysteriously not concerned about any of this. Something’s wrong here, but I just can’t put my finger on it.

Worst: The Detroit Screwjob

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It’s November and a year since the incident in Montreal at Survivor Series ’97, so WCW and the World Wrestling Federation have decided to do concurrent, competing “screwjob” pay-per-view angles. WWF does this with the Deadly Game tournament at Survivor Series ’98, which turns out to be wildly successful and arguably the peak of Attitude Era creativity and writing style. WCW, who has Actual Bret Hart on the roster, takes a much different approach.

The main event of the show is Diamond Dallas Page facing Hart for the United States Championhip. Hart tries to use brass knuckles — or the WCW equivalent, which is that weird FitBit made out of tape you put around your fingers to hit people with — but is foiled. Page tries to get revenge by using a steel chair on Hart, but the referee takes it away. As Page is arguing with him, Hart shoves Page into the ref, killing the refeere instantly. You know where this is going. Hart retrieves his plastic FitBit of doom and hits Page with it, knocking him out. Scott Steiner’s comically evil nWo referee hits the ring to officiate, so Hart … [sigh] puts … [sighhhhhh] Hart puts Page in the Sharpshooter and the referee “calls for the bell” without Page submitting.

A third referee, this time representing WCW, hits the ring and says uh uh, we don’t do screwjob finishes in World Championship Wrestling! That sound you hear is everyone who read that cackling knowingly at the same time. Page uses this time to recover, spins Hart around into a Diamond Cutter, and the ORIGINAL referee recovers enough to count three. So yeah, Bret Hart went from being screwed in the World Wrestling Federation to pretending to be the screwer and having it blow up in his face at World War 3 ’98. He managed to lose that incident on both sides somehow. Incredible.


Tomorrow Night On Nitro

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The stage is set for Goldberg vs. Kevin Nash at Starrcade. Goldberg prepares by wrestling The Giant for like the fifth time. Nash prepares by making sure everybody knows he’s way cooler and tougher than Wrath. Scott Hall celebrates by hitting up the Home Depot and seeing if they have any handheld devices to make cattle move. All this and Mike Enos dyes his hair, on the next edition of WCW Monday Nitro!