13 days out from SuperBrawl VIII World Championship Wrestling was still the reigning king of the ring, continuing to dominate the WWF Monday night after Monday night. But the bungled debut of Bret Hart and the botched Hogan/Sting Starrcade showdown, combined with WCW’s laissez-faire attitude to booking and WWF’s improving product, were beginning to take a toll.
Though WCW was still on top, the Monday Night Wars were, in hindsight, already over.
Context isn’t an issue with this one as all previous editions of NITRO and all past COTCs and PPVs are uploaded and ready to watch instantly on the Network.
WCW Monday NITRO #126 (WATCH)
Date: February 9, 1998 – Location: Don Haskins Center, El Paso, Texas
Attendance: 10,000 – Rating: 4.6 (>5 million viewers) (RAW: 3.2)
Commentators: Tony Schiavone, Mike Tenay, Bobby Heenan – Interviews: Eric Bischoff & Mike Tenay
CHAMPIONS AT THE TIME:
WCW World Heavyweight Champion: VACANT
WCW United States Champion: Diamond Dallas Page
WCW World Tag Team Champions: The Outsiders (Scott Hall & Kevin Nash)
WCW World Television Champion: Booker T
WCW Cruiserweight Champion: Chris Jericho
The episode opens with footage from the last week’s show of Hogan pulling Randy Savage off Sting and the Hogan/Sting face-off. After the classic NITRO opening, Tony Schiavone welcomes us to the show, saying it’s going to be the “biggest February in professional wrestling history.”
Hollywood Hogan and Eric Bischoff make their way to the ring. Bischoff says he’s achieved his success because he’s followed Hollywood Hogan’s rules and that someone hasn’t been. Hogan says there’s guidelines to the nWo, “Hollywood’s rules”, that he’s sick of hearing that nWo is unwinding and that “Macho Man” is leading the brigade. Hogan says he’s going to show Savage why there’s a pecking order when he gives Savage “the wrestling lesson of his life” tonight. Savage then appears in the crowd, accepts Hogan’s challenge, and says after tonight it’ll be the “Madness” versus Sting for the vacant World title at SuperBrawl.
After a break we see Schiavone and Tenay at the desk without Larry Zbyszko, who is missing. The two talk about the upcoming showdown between Hogan and Savage before showing clips of the “Mongo”/Davey Boy feud.
— Singles Match (WATCH – 12:12)
Special Guest Commentator: Louie Spicolli
Glacier vs. Steve “Mongo” McMichael
This match isn’t going on for very long before Louie Spicolli shows up at the announcer’s desk with some of Zbyszko’s luggage saying he’s friends with Larry and can’t find him. As for the match, it’s not as bad as one might expect but it’s by no means a “good” match. In the end Mongo spikes Glacier with a beautiful tombstone piledriver for the win at 4:07.
WINNER is Steve “Mongo” McMichael (Pin, 4:07)
After the match Mortis, with James Vandenberg, wipes out Mongo, who gets up, takes out Vandenberg, and drops Mortis with another beautiful tombstone. Mongo grabs the mic and says, ““Now that’s how we take out the trash in El Paso, Texas, baby!” Mongo says Bulldog is next to get “trash compacted”. After a break Spicolli, still at the announcer’s desk, continues to feign concern for his “friend” Larry Zbyszko.
— Singles Match (WATCH – 21:58)
Special Guest Commentator: Louie Spicolli
“Magic” Norman Smiley vs. Konnan w/Vincent
This is a pretty solid match that features a number of decent spots and wrestling including Konnan hitting a crushing DDT on Smiley midway through. It’s all over for Smiley, though, after Konnan connects with the 187 before cinching in the Tequila Sunrise for the submission win at 4:41.
WINNER is Konnan (Submission, 4:41)
Next is a pre-taped interview with Mike Tenay talking to General Motors representative Bard Dillon about WCW sponsoring the #23 Busch Grand National car to be driven by Lance Hooper.
After a break Tony takes care of a bit of housekeeping (ticket on-sale dates, NITRO party tapes, etc.) as the NITRO Girls dance. Nick Patrick is in the ring to work the next match when JJ Dillon comes out to stop him, telling Patrick he’s still under suspension, which Patrick disputes. Security eventually comes out and escorts Patrick to the back.
— Singles Match (WATCH – 34:25)
Special Guest Commentator: Louie Spicolli
Yuji Nagata w/Sonny Onoo vs. Disco Inferno
It’s all Nagata early in this one with Yuji hitting a series of crisp, beautiful moves and Disco struggling to keep up. Nagata is about to sink in the Nagata Lock when Onoo directs Yuji to continue to beat up Disco. When Yuji comes off the second rope Disco moves, hits the Chart Buster and scores the win at 3:00. After the match La Parka hits the ring and blasts both Nagata and Disco with a steel chair before breaking out the lucha disco moves.
WINNER is Disco Inferno (Pin, 3:00)
After a break Mike Tenay interviews Lex Luger about Luger’s upcoming “no DQ” match with Randy Savage at SuperBrawl VIII. Luger says he sick of Hogan, Savage, and the entire nWo. Luger says he’s dressed to fight and will be waiting for Savage and Hogan later in the night.
— Tag Team Match (WATCH – 42:34)
Eddie Guerrero & WCW Cruiserweight Champion Chris Jericho vs. Dean Malenko & Chavo Guerrero, Jr.
Chavo and Eddie were battling one another at this point while Jericho and Malenko were in the midst of what would become a very memorable program. The crowd is hot for this one, which is a fantastic fast-paced match that sees all four wrestlers shine. Chavo makes a comeback late only for Eddie to shove him off the top rope. Jericho takes advantage, cinches in the Lion Tamer and gets the submission at 9:04.
WINNERS are Eddie Guerrero & WCW Cruiserweight Champion Chris Jericho (Submission, 9:04)
After a break we see highlights of the growing problems between Rick and Scott Steiner.
— Singles Match (WATCH – 55:33)
El Dandy vs. Juventud Guerrera
Lots of rapid-fire action and high spots in this one. Though Dandy gets some offense in this match is all Guerrera. In the end, Guerrera hits Dandy with the Juvi Driver to set up the 450 splash for the win at 3:40.
WINNER is Juventud Guerrera (Pin, 3:40)
After the match Chris Jericho comes out to attack Juventud, who fights him off. Guerrera challenges Jericho for the Cruiserweight title, offering to put his mask up against the title, which Jericho agrees to but only for SuperBrawl VIII.
After a break we see a vignette of Goldberg kickin’ booty and takin’ names.
— Singles Match (WATCH – 1:03:34)
Steven Regal vs. Bill Goldberg
This is easily one of the most infamous matches in WCW history. Regal maintains that he was instructed to go six minutes with Goldberg and have a competitive match, working out a few spots with Goldberg ahead of time, but Goldberg froze up in the ring. Regal hit a few snug shots trying to get Goldberg to do something different but Goldberg wouldn’t. Goldberg maintains that Regal took liberties with him in the ring, something Regal flatly denies, and something the tape does not necessarily validate.
As for the match, it plays out pretty much as Regal describes, from Goldberg freezing up to Regal doing whatever he can to get Goldberg to open up, something the commentators point out in their own way. After several minutes of awkward action Goldberg hits the spear and the Jackhammer for the pin at 5:02.
WINNER is Bill Goldberg (Pin, 5:02)
— Singles Match (WATCH – 1:13:30)
Louie Spicolli vs. Chris Adams
Spicolli comes out with Zbyszko’s luggage. As the match gets under way the Flock comes through the crowd. The match, while it lasts, isn’t bad. Adams hits the super kick on Spicolli who rolls to the ropes until the referee pulls Adams away. Spicolli then grabs Zbyszko’s halliburton and waffles Adams with it to give the former “gentlemen” the win by DQ at 1:57. Spicolli continues to beat up Adams until Zbyszko makes the save, chasing Spicolli around the ring. Larry says Louie set him up and had him sent to the wrong arena.
Sadly this would mark Louie Spicolli’s final televised match as he would be found dead just 6 days later on February 15, 1998, just 5 days after his 27th birthday.
WINNER is Chris Adams (Disqualification, 1:57)
After a break we see a Booker T highlight package.
— Singles Match (WATCH – 1:19:21)
Ultimo Dragon vs. Saturn w/Lodi
This is a pretty good clash-of-styles match. The pacing, timing, and psychology are all above average. Saturn is looking for the submission while Dragon is looking for the big high spot and Dragon Sleeper. Dragon goes for the Sleeper but Saturn reverses the hold with a snapmare into an inside cradle for the pin at 7:08.
WINNER is Saturn w/Lodi (Pin, 7:08)
The third hour begins with footage of the Chris Benoit/Diamond Dallas Page match from the last week’s Thunder (a series currently unavailable on the Network) that ended when Raven and the Flock attacked both DDP and Benoit and features an all-time classic Diamond Cutter on Kidman.
WCW World TV Champion Booker T comes out for a title defense against Raven, who tells Booker T he should walk to the back and hand the title back to Saturn. Raven says the Flock needs to teach Booker T a lesson and one-by-one the members of the Flock attack Booker T and one-by-one he fights them off. Raven jumps Booker T and hits a crushing Evenflow DDT. Saturn runs in and puts Booker T in the Rings of Saturn as Raven yells at Booker T to “feel our pain!”
After a break we see a video package detailing the Randy Savage/Hollywood Hogan story.
— “Grudge Match” (WATCH – 1:38:45)
Hollywood Hogan w/Eric Bischoff vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage w/Elizabeth
This first nWo versus nWo match is a slow, psychological fight from the start with both guys using all the heel tactics they can muster. Late in the match Elizabeth gets involved, taking a steel chair away from Hogan. Savage posts Hogan, smashes the chair across Hollywood’s back, and rolls Hogan in the ring. Savage hits the diving elbow drop and makes the cover but Buff Bagwell pulls the referee out of the ring. Hall, Nash, Vincent, and Konnan take out Savage to end the match, by DQ, at 7:47. Hogan hits Savage with the chair before slapping Savage and spitting on him. The nWo make their way to the back when Savage suddenly runs Hogan down and wipes him out before going to commercial break.
WINNER is “Macho Man” Randy Savage w/Elizabeth (Disqualification, 7:47)
After the break Lex Luger comes out, as he said he would, and calls out “Macho Man”. Elizabeth comes out to distract Luger as Savage blindsides “The Total Package”. Sting makes the save and takes out Savage with the Scorpion Death Drop as the rest of nWo comes down. Suddenly a net drops from the ceiling, trapping Sting, Luger, and Savage. The nWo get in the ring and pummel the three as officials run out to intervene.
After a break Tony, Tenay, and Heenan talk about the problems within the nWo and the Steiner Brothers. This is followed by more footage of the continued issues between the Steiner Brothers.
— WCW World Tag Team Championship (WATCH – 1:56:15)
The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott) w/Ted DiBiase vs. The Outsiders (Scott Hall & Kevin Nash)(c)
For a NITRO main event this match isn’t that bad. It’s main purpose, however, was to set up Scott Steiner’s eventual heel turn at SuperBrawl VIII. The match is all nWo, with Scott Steiner taking the brunt of the punishment. Scott is flung into Rick, tagging him in. Unaware, Hall continues to focus on Scott Steiner. Rick climbs the ropes, hits the bulldog on Scott Hall, and scores the pin and the Tag Team titles at 7:14. This ended of the Outsiders 4th reign as Tag Team Champions at 28 days and marked the start of the Steiner Brothers 7th and final Tag title reign.
WINNERS and NEW WCW World Tag Team Champions, The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott) w/Ted DiBiase (Pin, 7:14)
The three celebrate as the announcers talk about the nWo having no more gold thanks to the Steiners, before signing off.
Featuring a bevy of solid matches and angles this edition of NITRO perfectly set up the upcoming SuperBrawl VIII event but little else beyond that, exposing the fatal flaw in WCW’s programming.
Either way, it’s a fun way to spend a couple of hours!
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Thanks for reading – until next week, see ya at ringside!
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