If any of you can remember back to my inaugural “Top 10 DVD’s” article I wrote for WWEDVDNews when I started here about a year ago, The Best of WCW Monday Nitro just cracked the list at #10. While the DVD isn’t perfect, and a lot of the in-ring action isn’t exactly worthy of 5 stars, it still is a lot of fun to watch. There was an aura to WCW that you don’t really get anymore, which I think has a lot to do with the unpredictable nature and the general craziness of the nWo. I wasn’t at all surprised when I heard that a 2nd volume was being released. With a lot of the most famous Nitro moments included on Vol. 1, I was hopeful that we would get some nice hidden gems on this release. Overall, I think that’s pretty much what we got, and again, I had a ton of fun watching this Blu-ray release.
The DVD/Blu-ray is rated TV-PG. Disc 1 of the Blu-ray runs 4 hours, 15 minutes, and Disc 2 runs a little over 4 hours in total (1 hour, 45 minutes of that is Blu-ray exclusive content). Even with the TV-PG rating, there weren’t too many edits based on “sensitive” content that really stand out.
“Bang!”: The Format
If you’ve seen the first volume of the Best of WCW Monday Nitro, then you should know what to expect here. One of the biggest highlights from that first volume was the host, DDP. Fortunately, he is back for this volume as well. Believe it or not, he’s even better this time. He is used frequently, which is nice to see since so many hosts on WWE match compilations tend to vanish for a lot of the feature. He tells a lot of great stories, and gives some context for a lot of the general storylines we get a look at throughout the feature. Things get particularly emotional when he tells a story about the “Macho Man” Randy Savage. It’s a really touching story that actually got me a little “misty eyed”. I hope that for future match compilations the WWE looks at what DDP did on this set and follows it.
“Where the Big Boys Play”: The Matches
WCW US Championship Match: Sting Vs. Ric Flair (9/4/95) – ** 1/2
Of course, Flair & Sting have great chemistry. This wasn’t their greatest contest, though.
Hulk Hogan Vs. Arn Anderson (2/12/96) – * 3/4
These traditional, longer wrestling matches bring out the worst in Hulk Hogan. Anderson tries to carry him through this match, but Hogan just isn’t made for this type of wrestling. The most entertaining part of the match is Hogan attempting to use the Figure Four, which he naturally isn’t too good at.
Steiner Brothers Vs. Road Warriors (3/11/96) – ** 1/2
A fun, high energy match between these two teams. The match never really slows down, so the pacing is a little strange, but it stays entertaining throughout.
Jushin “Thunder” Liger Vs. Dean Malenko (5/6/96) – ***
Liger and Malenko put together a very good match, but it felt like it was missing something the whole time. Constantly cutting away from the match to watch Ric Flair eat dinner with Ms. Elizabeth & Woman certainly didn’t help.
WCW Cruiserweight Championship Match: Rey Mysterio Vs. Juventud Guerrera (9/16/96) – ** 1/4
This match felt like a collection of cool “moves” but never really elevated above that. In a move that I think epitomizes WCW, they cut away from the match during the very end so we could watch a bunch of nWo fans cheering in the parking lot for no reason.
WCW US Championship Tournament Quarter Finals: Diamond Dallas Page Vs. Jeff Jarrett (12/6/96) – **
Your average TV style match. Nothing offensive, but nothing very good either. The best part is probably the promo from DDP following the match.
Ric Flair Vs. Scott Hall (6/2/97) – * 3/4
A decent match, but not exactly the most revolutionary wrestling you’ve ever seen. It also doesn’t go too long before a screwjob finish.
Rey Mysterio VS. Kevin Nash (6/30/97) – 1/2 *
Mysterio is great wrestling against bigger men, but unfortunately, this turns into a squash match very quickly.
La Parka Vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage (7/7/97) – N/A
I won’t spoil the ending here, but this doesn’t end up being much of a match at all.
Goldberg Vs. Hugh Morrus (9/22/97) – 3/4 *
For historical reasons, it’s nice to see Goldberg’s debut included in full here. Of course, the match itself isn’t really anything more than a quick squash to help make Goldberg look like a threat.
Booker T Vs. Jeff Jarrett (10/6/97) – **
Something about this match never totally clicked. I never felt like a complete story was being strung together. Nothing offensive, though.
WCW Tag Team Championship Street Fight: Steiner Brothers Vs. Public Enemy (11/3/97) – 3/4 *
WCW never was very good at hardcore style matches. This match is a total mess. The use of split screen to show what is going on with both members of the tag team makes the match very difficult to follow, so there isn’t any type of coherent story leading to the finish.
Booker T Vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage (12/15/97) – **
Your typical TV match here.
Rey Mysterio, Juventud Guerrera, & Hector Garza Vs. Psicosis, Silver King, & La Parka (12/22/97) – ** 3/4
The lucha style trios match is one of my favorite match types, and this match is a lot of fun. It’s not the most coherent storytelling in the world, but you’ll still be entertained.
WCW US Championship Match: Diamond Dallas Page Vs. Chris Jericho (1/5/98) – * 1/2
This match started out great, but then it ended out of nowhere in like 4 minutes. Disappointment would be an understatement.
Hollywood Hogan, Kevin Nash, & Scott Hall Vs. Sting, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, & The Giant (3/9/98) – ** 1/4
Fun to watch based simply on the amount of star power in the match. The action itself is decent, and builds to the upcoming PPV pretty well.
WCW World Championship Match: Sting Vs. Diamond Dallas Page (3/23/98) – ***
Sting and DDP have really great chemistry, and this match is structured very well. I loved the fast-paced start to the match, with the two men trying to one-up each other at every turn.
WCW US Championship Raven’s Rules Match: Raven Vs. Goldberg (4/20/98) – * 3/4
This match does what it was supposed to do very well: make Goldberg look great as he wins his first singles title. It isn’t much more than that, though.
Kevin Nash & Lex Luger Vs. Hollywood Hogan & The Giant (6/1/98) – **
This could’ve been a lot worse. It was well put together to deal with the competitors’ weaknesses. However, this isn’t enough to turn this into a great match. The post-match features a great moment that makes the inclusion of this match really worthwhile.
Rey Mysterio Vs. Eddie Guerrero (12/21/98) – *** 1/4
About what you would expect from a Rey/Eddie match. Unfortunately, it ends in a screwy finish.
Ladder Taser Match: Bam Bam Bigelow Vs. Scott Hall (1/25/99) – ** 1/4
A ladder match that ends in a non-finish? Sounds like WCW. As far as ladder matches go, this is nothing special.
WCW US Championship Match: Bret Hart Vs. Rowdy Roddy Piper (2/8/99) – DUD
A very slow, plodding match, featuring a bizarre appearance from MadTV’s Will Sasso.
WCW Tag Team Championship Match: Perry Saturn & Kanyon Vs. Diamond Dallas Page & Bam Bam Bigelow (5/31/99) – ** 1/2
This match is surprisingly good, but I don’t really know why it was included here (outside of the DDP appearance). The finish of this match is somewhat odd though.
WCW World Championship Match: “Macho Man” Randy Savage Vs. Hollywood Hogan (7/12/99) – 1/2 *
Hogan & Savage were way past their prime by this point (especially Savage), and this match goes on way too long considering that fact. It is nice to get this title change on DVD, though.
WCW Tag Team Championship Match: Kevin Nash & Scott Hall Vs. Goldberg & Bret Hart (12/13/99) – * 1/4
Not a terrible match, but pretty bizarrely paced, and at the end it becomes a total mess and very difficult to follow.
House of Pain Match: Sting Vs. Vampiro (5/15/00) – * 3/4
This is one of those patented ridiculous Russo gimmick matches. The match itself is OK, but the gimmick prevents it from being anything better.
Shane Helms Vs. Shannon Moore (2/26/01) – **
This is a decent match, even though it is very short.
WCW US & World Championship Match: Booker T Vs. Scott Steiner (3/26/01) – ** 1/4
This match is fast paced from the start, which helps the match even though it is shockingly short for a World Title match. Of course, this match also holds a pretty important place in wrestling history, so its inclusion is nice.
Blu-Ray Exclusive Matches
WCW World Championship Match: Hulk Hogan Vs. Lex Luger (9/11/95) – *
Way too short to mean anything, but we do get an appearance from the Dungeon of Doom at the end!
Ric Flair Vs. Brian Pillman (9/18/95) – ** 1/2
As expected, a solid match between these two men. A little too short, though, and Pillman doesn’t really get in much offense.
JL Vs. nWo Sting (10/21/96) – N/A
There isn’t really much of a match here. The more interesting part of this is the segment that follows.
Sting & Lex Luger Vs. Hollywood Hogan & “Macho Man” Randy Savage (3/16/98) – **
This is one of the “Spring Break-Out” episodes of Nitro, and it’s cool to see a match from one of those included. Sting’s entrance is also pretty great. The match itself isn’t even much of a match; it feels more like an extended segment.
Steel Cage Match: Diamond Dallas Page Vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage (6/15/98) – ** 3/4
The DDP/Savage feud was one of the biggest feuds in WCW in 1998, so this is a worthy inclusion. The match itself is pretty good at the start, but quickly devolves once Hogan and the rest of the nWo get involved.
WCW World Championship Match: Goldberg Vs. Sting (9/14/98) – ***
A very well put together title match that makes both Sting and Goldberg look great
WCW TV Championship Match: Scott Steiner Vs. Chris Jericho (2/1/99) – ** 1/2
Another typical TV match here. Not much to write home about.
Ric Flair & Goldberg Vs. Hollywood Hogan & Kevin Nash (3/15/99) – ** 3/4
I was way more impressed with this match than I expected to be. It’s put together very well, and hides any deficiencies in the in-ring action nicely.
“Don’t Turn Your Back on the Wolfpac”: The Segments
When it comes to wrestling TV shows like Raw and Nitro, my favorite part of the show has always been the segments. I’ve found that this is the most important part of the show in helping to build up to the company’s next PPV. The first Nitro set gave us a pretty good number of segments, and that number went down a bit for this release. Fortunately, we still get some solid segments, and a lot of the matches feature fun post-match promos or moments that really could count as a segment. For me, the highlight of the segments was seeing the birth of the Wolfpac released in full, and I think a lot of fans will agree. I had never seen this moment before, so it was awesome to get to see this. As I mentioned in the match breakdown, we also get to see a great moment following an “nWo Black & White Vs. nWo Wolfpac” tag team match where Sting officially joins the Wolfpac.
As you would predict, the large majority of the segments throughout the two discs involve the nWo. One of the most fascinating segments was called “Kevin Nash patches up potholes”, in which he talks about how he and the nWo have had to patch up the business after older guys like Flair were holding it back. It is surprisingly similar to one of CM Punk’s pipe bombs. The biggest problem with the pipe bomb, though, is that the biggest culprit of everything Nash is “shooting” about is his own teammate, Hulk Hogan! Other notable segments include a chapter from the Goldberg/Jericho rivalry, and one of the first mentions of Bret Hart coming to WCW. I wish we had gotten a few more segments, but I can’t complain about what we did end up getting.
“Who’s Next?”: Closing Thoughts
There’s something about these Nitro sets that make them a lot of fun to watch. Even if the match quality isn’t always great, the booking is occasionally incomprehensible, and the promo skills can sometimes be a bit lacking, for some reason, I still had no troubles sitting through the 8 and a half hours of this Blu-ray. Even if the matches aren’t great, they are usually quite short, and the storylines move along so quickly that there’s always something to hold your attention. Fortunately, we do at least get a couple of pretty good matches. Eddie Vs. Rey and Sting Vs. DDP are both pretty solid matches, and the Goldberg Vs. Sting Blu-ray exclusive is a lot of fun as well. Unfortunately, nothing reaches the “great match” level that I felt was reached by one match over on the first volume of the set (the Sting Vs. DDP title match).
As I mentioned above, while the matches are fun, I still would have appreciated if a few more segments were included. I felt like there were a lot of Hogan, Nash, Savage, etc. nWo matches, and a few of these matches could have easily been replaced with other segments. I’m sure there will be a few complaints that there aren’t enough cruiserweight matches, but honestly, including too many of them wouldn’t truly represent the aura of Nitro. My biggest complaint about the Blu-ray is an unfortunate new trend we are seeing on WWE releases: the lack of “info bars” at the start of each match or segment that tells you the date. This is one of those things that you don’t realize you’re going to miss until it’s gone. I needed to sit with the box of the Blu-ray next to me the whole time just so that I could get some sense of context to when each match occurred.
If you enjoyed the first volume of the Best of Monday Nitro, then you are probably going to enjoy Vol. 2 as well. The first volume was filled with a lot of classic Nitro moments, and this time, we get more hidden gems, which I’m sure long time viewers (like a lot of our readers here) are going to love. In my opinion, having more of these rare matches might have made this an even more fun watch than the first volume. I will admit that the Blu-ray is very nWo-centric, and the large majority of the matches and moments are from 1997-1998, but this was definitely the “peak” of WCW, so I think this was a fitting choice. The Blu-ray extras aren’t necessarily essential, but if you have a choice between the two, I would recommend the extra cost for the extras. There are a few solid matches, and some nice moments as well. I will add that if you are a wrestling “match mark” and watch wrestling mostly for great in-ring action, this isn’t the DVD/BR for you. But great in-ring wrestling and entertainment value aren’t always the same thing, and in this case, I still thoroughly enjoyed the Blu-ray. If you couldn’t tell by now, this is a pretty solid recommendation from me!
Coming soon :: FremantleMedia UK.