Exactly 19 years ago today World Championship Wrestling put on another classic edition of NITRO from Charleston, West Virginia. This week Throwback Thursday on WDN looks back at Monday NITRO #98, as seen on the WWE Network, to see how well the show holds up today.
51 weeks into the famed 84-week winning streak over the World Wrestling Federation’s Monday Night RAW (52 after this night), WCW was just two weeks away from Road Wild ’97, and the future still looked bright. Though Road Wild would fall short of expectations for many fans (signalling many of the problems that would come to plague WCW), this show was a thing of beauty!
Context isn’t an issue whatsoever. All previous PPVs, COTCs, and NITROs are streaming too.
WCW Monday NITRO #98 (WATCH)
Date: July 28, 1997 – Location: Charleston Civic Center, Charleston, West Virginia
Attendance: 9,575 – Rating: 3.4
Commentators: Tony Schiavone, Mike Tenay, Larry Zbyszko, & Bobby Heenan
Interviews: “Mean” Gene Okerlund
CHAMPIONS AT THE TIME:
WCW World Heavyweight Champion: Hollywood Hogan
WCW United States Heavyweight Championship: Jeff Jarrett
WCW World Tag Team Champions: The Outsiders (Scott Hall & Kevin Nash)
WCW Cruiserweight Champion: Chris Jericho
WCW World Television Champion: Ultimo Dragon
After the usual intro Tony Schiavone welcomes us to the show. The NITRO Girls do a little dance and the first match is on its way to the ring.
— Tag Team Match (WATCH – 1:37)
Vicious & Delicious (Buff Bagwell & Scott “Flash” Norton) vs. “Nature Boy” Ric Flair & Curt Hennig
The story in this match was about whether Hennig was a true member of the Horsemen or not. He’s not, to be clear, but that doesn’t stop the commentators from saying different. This was the beginning of one of WCW’s last great angles and a great way to open the show. This is a solid match in front of a super hot crowd. Near the end Syxx comes out and starts getting into it with Flair, two weeks before their match at Road Wild. Flair manages to trip up Scott Norton which allows Hennig to hit the Hennig Plex on Norton for the pin at 9:10. Great PPV quality opener.
WINNERS are “Nature Boy” Ric Flair & Curt Hennig (Pin, 9:10)
Back from break we get more NITRO Girls (you got a problem with that?)! “Mean” Gene is in the ring and introduces Lex Luger, the number one contender for the WCW World title. Luger says he’s hit the gym and is “peaking” for Sturgis and Road Wild. Luger’s says his attorneys and WCW officials have met and that a World title match has been booked for next week’s NITRO between Luger and Hollywood Hogan, 6 days before their scheduled title match at Road Wild.
— WCW World Television Championship (WATCH – 19:10)
Prince Iaukea vs. Ultimo Dragon(c)
This is a rematch of sorts. It was Dragon who dethroned Iaukea as TV Champion on the April 7, 1997 edition of NITRO. Dragon, meanwhile, had won the TV title just 6 days earlier on the special Tuesday NITRO by defeating Steve Regal. This one isn’t very long, but it’s not that bad, considering it’s a glorified squash. The finish gets messed up two different times before Dragon simply grabs Prince and slaps on the Dragon Sleeper for the win at 4:47.
WINNER and STILL WCW World Television Champion, Ultimo Dragon (Submission, 4:47)
After a break there’s a promo for WCW Saturday Night. “Mean” Gene brings out Ric Flair who calls out Curt Hennig and says he is, without a doubt, a Four Horseman. Mongo and Benoit come out and both look skeptical of Hennig while Flair goes nuts about partying. Hennig says he’s still a free agent.
— Tag Team Match (WATCH – 29:30)
The Four Horsemen (Chris Benoit & Steve “Mongo” McMichael vs. The Texas Hangmen (Killer & Psycho)
The Texas Hangmen would go on to be called “Disorderly Conduct” in WCW and go by the names Touch Tom (Killer) and Mean Mike (Psycho), for those keeping score. The Outsiders call in during the match. Hall calls out Zbyszko while Nash talks about Luger not being in Hogan’s league. Mongo nearly falls on his arse trying to hit the Tombstone on Psycho! Benoit throws Killer from the ring and locks on the Crippler Crossface for the win at 4:20.
WINNERS are The Four Horsemen (Chris Benoit & Steve “Mongo” McMichael) (Pin, 4:20)
— WCW Crusierweight Championship (WATCH – 36:57)
Alex Wright vs. Chris Jericho(c)
Back to when Jericho was still a spunky babyface with the uptempo entrance theme… Memories. Anywho, this is a fast-paced, solid match with a little bit of everything from brawling to wrestling. Alex Wright hits a dazed Jericho with a running back elbow before hitting a beautiful high German suplex for the win and the Crusierweight title at 6:27, shocking the crowd. This marked Alex Wright’s first and only Cruiserweight title win and ended Chris Jericho’s first reign (of an eventual four) as Cruiserweight Champion at 30 days.
WINNER and NEW WCW Cruiserweight Champion, Alex Wright (Pin, 6:27)
“Mean” Gene brings out Dean Malenko who is joined by WCW U.S. Champion Jeff Jarrett and Debra. Debra wanted Jarrett and Malenko to “collaborate” and Malenko agrees. Jarrett says he’s going to be the one to finally take out the Four Horsemen. During the interview Debra whispers something to Alex Wright. Probably about his tights being too high, but we’ll have to wait to find out for sure.
— Singles Match (WATCH – 49:23)
Syxx vs. Diamond Dallas Page w/Kimberly
DDP was set to face Curt Hennig at Road Wild while Syxx was set to face Flair. This one is non-stop action. DDP looks to be about to win the match when Vincent runs in. With the referee distracted DDP hits the Diamond Cutter on Syxx when Curt Hennig hits the ring and gloms DDP with “knucks”, rolling Syxx on top of DDP for the pin at 3:58. As a result Schiavone thinks Hennig is part of the nWo and not the Horsemen. How right he is.
WINNER is Syxx (Pin, 3:58)
— Singles Match (WATCH – 56:35)
Hector Guerrero vs. Dean Malenko
Both of these guys are excellent wrestlers, but they are given very little time to work with. That being said, they do their best with it. Eventually Jeff Jarrett comes to the ring with Debra and distracts Hector. Malenko dropkicks the knees and slaps on the Texas Cloverleaf for the submission win at 4:43. After the match Chavo Guerrero comes out to check on his uncle and is attacked by Dean Malenko and the “Ice Man” celebrates with Jarrett.
WINNER is Dean Malenko (Submission, 4:43)
Konnan talks with “Mean” Gene about taking out all the men he brought to WCW, starting with La Parka. Konnan says he’s going to make Rey Mysterio, Jr. one of Jerry’s Kids come September.
Giant walks to the ring for the next match but Randy Savage appears in the crowd and talks trash to Giant about their upcoming match at Road Wild. After Muta comes out Eric Bischoff joins Schiavone on commentary.
— Singles Match (WATCH – 1:06:41)
Special Guest Commentator: Eric Bischoff
The Giant vs. The Great Muta
This was a rematch from the week before when Muta blew mist in Giant’s eyes for the DQ, allowing Savage to beat down the blinded Giant. This one is a lot longer than their match last week. After some nip-and-tuck action Muta tries to blow the mist in Giant’s eyes, but Giant blocks it, hits the chokeslam and gets the pin at 6:00. After the match The Giant cuts a promo in the ring, Zbyszko throws Bischoff off the set and drags “Easy E” to the ring for a chokeslam and a huge pop.
WINNER is The Giant (Pin, 6:00)
— Singles Match (WATCH – 1:19:03)
La Parka w/Sonny Oono vs. Konnan
La Parka was the first on the list of guys Konnan “brought” to WCW to be taken out. This isn’t much of a match at all. In no time, Konnan hits the capture DDT and wraps La Parka in the Tequila Sunrise (a move that has not aged well and look rather silly in 2016) for the win at 1:14. Psychosis hits the ring, but Konnan walks away.
WINNER is Konnan (Submission, 1:14)
After an nWo Outsider “Pin Set” promo we get a phone call from J.J. Dillon about getting Sting signed to a deal. Dillon is hopeful to get Sting in the ring by September and may have the deal done as soon as next week. Behind the scenes Sting is furious that Luger will be the first to defeat Hogan the following week and not Sting, a move that was only done to pop PPV numbers for Road Wild.
— Singles Match (WATCH – 1:26:47)
“Macho Man” Randy Savage w/Elizabeth vs. Scott Steiner w/Rick Steiner
This is a pretty decent main event that’s fast-paced and full of action. There really is no dull moment in this one. In the end, after Scott Steiner hits a top rope Frankensteiner, Elizabeth tries to interfere. Out come The Outsiders, who attack the Steiners, and the match is thrown out at 8:49.
NO WINNER declared (No Contest, 8:49)
After the match The Outsiders beat the bejabbers out of the Steiners while Savage hits a series of flying elbows. The Giant runs out to make the save. Police officers and security guards escort the nWo to the back. Giant gets on the mic and challenges Nash to fight for free. Nash wraps a belt around his fist and looks to be willing to fight, but the show goes off, with a final replay of Bischoff getting chokeslammed.
With solid matches and great storytelling there is no wonder that WCW was running roughshod over the WWF at this point. Though cracks in the armor were plainly obvious, there was enough depth on the roster to hide many of flaws that would eventually spell the end of WCW.
If you haven’t watched this classic edition of WCW Monday NITRO, do yourself a favor and check it out next. It is sure to leave you wanting more.
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