Retro Review: WCW Monday Nitro – July 6 1998

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Here we are, folks. One of the last nights that WCW won the Monday Night Ratings War.

In my 1997 review, I watched the Nitro with Goldberg’s debut match. For my 1998 review, I’m watching the night Goldberg wins the WCW Championship (sorry if that is a spoiler for you).

Nitro is taking place from the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia. There are almost 40,000 fans in the building, something you will not see in wrestling today unless it is a major PPV.

JJ Dillon announced on Thunder that Hollywood Hogan must defend the WCW title against Goldberg. So yes, this match had less than a week build. I’ll give my thoughts more on this at the end of my review.

After the Nitro girls give us our dance opening (now with Mrs. HBK), Hulk Hogan comes out with Eric Bischoff, The Disciple and Elizabeth. Mmmm Elizabeth. Remember at this point we have nWo Hollywood and nWo Wolfpac. I’ll have thoughts on that later, too.

Hogan briefly talks about his match at Bash at the Beach with Dennis Rodman taking on DDP and Karl Malone. Hogan says this match with Goldberg isn’t happening. Hogan says he is bringing in a nWo brother to face Goldberg and give him his first loss. And he will only fight Goldberg later tonight if Goldberg wins. The Disciple is holding the World title on his shoulder during the promo. I bet that is the highlight of Brutus Beefcake/Zodiac/Brother Bruti/Butcher/Booty Man/Disciple’s career.

Mean Gene interviews some guy that won Mark Martin’s NASCAR car last year. They are giving away another one. What the hell do you do with a NASCAR car? Display it in your front yard? You can’t drive it at all. Tony Schiavone wonders the same thing. It’s one thing for me to question that. Your lead announcer shouldn’t.

World TV Championship:Booker T (c) vs Dean Malenko

This is the start of the rise in popularity of Booker T. There are a good amount of fans doing the raise the roof motion with their hands. I guess Booker T faces Bret Hart at Bash at the Beach this Sunday. I mean, that right there shows the use of Bret Hart in WCW seven months in. All respect in the world to Booker T, but he is not the guy Bret Hart should be facing this soon into his WCW run.

To the action as Booker T misses a missile drop kick off the top rope. Malenko goes for the Texas Cloverleaf but Booker rolls him up for two. Some good action as both Malenko crossbodies Booker to the outside.

Suddenly we hear a voice on the mic and it is Chris Jericho. He wants Deano Machino to fight him in a match tonight and he is tired of Deano running from him. The distraction allows Booker to hit the Harlem Side Kick for the win.

Karl Malone is disappointed that Dennis Rodman didn’t show up to Atlanta. He shows up at Bash at the Beach this Sunday in no shape to perform. So maybe he shouldn’t have shown up then either.

Kanyon vs Raven w/Lodi

Lodi is out with his signs. He was setting this trend well before Sammy Guevara. We get Raven’s WWF theme dubbed over his WCW one. His WCW theme was pretty much a rip off of Nirvana’s “Come As You Are.”

This match falls under Raven’s Rules, which is essentially a No DQ match. Kanyon throws Raven into some chairs then drops him face first on one in the ring. Kanyon goes to the top but Lodi crotches him. Worst Referee in the World Nick Patrick misses it. Raven then suplexes Kanyon off the top onto the chair.

Saturn comes to the ring and takes out Raven. The bell rings. I’m sorry, does Raven’s Rules mean no interference?

Saturn hits the Death Valley Driver on Raven and Kanyon. Saturn puts Raven on the table and jumps off the top onto Raven. But the table doesn’t break.

We cut to the back with a limo arriving. It is Buff Bagwell with his mom Judy. For those that don’t know, Bagwell suffered a serious neck injury in a match against Rick Steiner when he landed neck first on Rick’s back during a bulldog.

DDP and Karl Malone come to the ring for an interview with Mean Gene. Page says that Hogan is going to be a bruised up boy after Bash at the Beach. DDP keeps bringing Mean Gene’s arm up to him so he can talk into the mic. Karl Malone says he is going to whip Rodzilla like Madonna should have. Well that sounds weird.

We get a Steve McMichael video package and interview for some reason. I guess Mongo is trying to get the Four Horsemen back together. This was during Ric Flair’s WCW absence after his dispute with Eric Bischoff.

Scott Putski vs Riggs

I wonder what is on RAW right now. Oh damn it that’s right I am watching this on the Network.

Riggs still wears an eye patch after Raven went after it, but then Riggs joined the Flock after. You can hear the people getting up and going to the concourse during this match.

This match is getting as much time as Booker T and Dean Malenko. Sorry, but why? Putski ends up winning with a sit down spinebuster, which is apparently called the Putski Bomb. Apparently this is the biggest win of Putski’s career. That isn’t saying much.

We see Goldberg in the back and he slams his head into a locker. It did not bust open.

In the back another limousine arrives and it is Scott Hall. He’s probably about a 7 out of 10 on the drunk scale.

Chris Jericho vs Ultimo Dragon

We get Chris Jericho’s WWF theme as well, because his WCW theme song is pretty much a rip off Pearl Jam’s “Evenflow.” Jericho says he isn’t fighting Dean Malenko at Bash at the Beach, Rey Mysterio is. JJ Dillon comes to the ring. Deano Machino runs to the ring. Dillon says Malenko and Jericho can’t touch each other before their match at Bash at the Beach or they will be suspended.

Jericho runs down Malenko’s family to try to get Malenko to hit him. He also brings up Dean’s dead dad. Jericho then insinuates that Malenko’s dad slept with a bunch of women on the road, and that is why Malenko and his brother look nothing alike. Malenko attacks Jericho. WCW did a really good job with this feud. And it was a breakout one for Jericho.

We still get the Jericho vs Dragon match here. About three minutes in Dean Malenko runs back out to attack Jericho. Hey if you are already suspended, why the heck not? Malenko pulls out some of Jericho’s hair in the process. During the break Malenko gets handcuffed by some cops.

The more I watch of the Nitro Girls, the more it is obvious that Kimberly is not much of a dancer.

Johnny Swinger vs Chavo Guerrero Jr.

Boy is WCW really trotting out some doozies tonight. Chavo is wearing a hard hat because he is fighting Eddie Guerrero in a Hair vs Hair match this Sunday.

Chavo makes quick work of Swinger in about two minutes with a tornado DDT. My apologies, Chavo NOW challenges Eddie to a Hair vs Hair match. Who cares, it is a Chavo Guerrero match/segment.

Disco Inferno and Alex Wright vs Public Enemy

In my 97 review, Disco and Alex Wright were fighting. Here they are as a tag team. We’ve truly come full circle.

Tokyo Magnum follows Alex Wright to the ring. Public Enemy comes out with their table and dubbed over music. Not exactly sure what their old theme was.

There’s no reaction from the crowd yet. Probably because they were waiting for Alex Wright to dance. And when it happens the crowd finally reacts. Johnny Grunge hits a double bulldog and they set up Alex Wright on the tables on the outside. Tokyo Magnum pulls Wright off.

So Public Enemy decides to stack both tables together and put Tokyo Magnum on top. Rocco Rock jumps through both tables. Back in the ring, Disco and Wright take out Public Enemy with a garbage can and the ref calls for the bell. That’s three DQ finishes tonight.

Mean Gene welcomes Buff Bagwell out for interview. The hometown Atlanta crowd welcomes Buff back with a big pop. Buff cuts a decent babyface promo talking about how close he was to paralysis and death and how he’s turned over a new leaf in his life. Buff of course would go back to being a heel a few weeks later when they had the opportunity to build him back up as a babyface.

Scott Hall vs Goldberg

So for those that don’t know, this was a bad time in Scott Hall’s life. WCW made him go to rehab earlier in the year. At Slamboree, Hall turned on Nash and joined nWo Hollywood. Both Hall and Nash were against the idea. After that, Hall did not return until tonight.

How dumb is this? Wasting Goldberg’s first entrance in another match. Hall messes around with Goldberg for a bit until Goldberg shoves him down. Goldberg continues to overpower Hall and shove him down. Hall side steps a Goldberg charge in the corner and hits a backdrop for only one.

Goldberg comes right back with some armdrag takedowns that cause Hall to bail. Hall calls for backup and out come Curt Hennig, Vincent and The Disciple. But out come DDP and Karl Malone who take them out with chairs.

Hall clotheslines Goldberg and goes for the Outsiders Edge. Goldberg backdrops Hall and finishes him off with the Spear and Jackhammer for the win.

Psychosis vs Juventud Guerrera

Both men hit moves to the outside to start. Juvi hits a running dive over the top. Psychosis comes right back with a seated senton off the top. That looked like it hurt. I feel bad for these guys having to follow Goldberg’s match.

Psychosis runs right into a Juvi Driver and then Juvi hits the 450 splash for the win. The Flock comes down and attacks both men, and we immediately cut to a video of Goldberg beating Raven for the US title. Good timing.

Hacksaw Jim Duggan vs The Giant

Duggan attacks Giant coming into the ring. Giant quickly shrugs it off and ends up winning with a chokeslam. Giant cuts a promo on NFL star Kevin Greene, who he is fighting this Sunday. Greene comes out and spits in the face of the Giant and then clotheslines him over the top rope.

Diamond Dallas Page vs Jim Neidhart

And now DDP’s dubbed over theme song because his sounds exactly like Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” The Anvil has died his hair and it is really throwing me off. It just looks weird.

The ref looks at Karl Malone for some reason and this allows Neidhart to hit a low blow. Surprisingly this was not Nick Patrick. Neidhart applies a full nelson and DDP low kicks him, right in front of the ref. DDP hits the Diamond Cutter for the win.

Sting and Lex Luger vs Kidman and Sick Boy

Luger and Sting have fellow nWo Wolfpac members Kevin Nash and Konnan with them. Oh, how Sting has fallen.

He went from the top face in the company to just another guy in the span of months. And Sting joining any faction of the nWo after fighting them for over a year was just plain dumb. Plus Sting looks like a total goof in the red and black.

As a kid I was 100% Team Wolfpac and still love the theme. But looking back on this now it was complete overkill with the two nWo factions, and making them co branded with WCW after the nWo brand was fighting WCW for two years. Anyways, Sting and Luger win in under a minute.

WCW Championship: Hollywood Hogan (c) vs Goldberg

Goldberg starts with a side headlock and then goes to a test of strength which he easily wins over Hogan. Hogan eventually crawls his way over to the ropes to break it.

Hogan lands a thumb to the eye then uses his weight belt to slap Goldberg. Goldberg quickly grabs it and throws it away. Hogan is able to land a low blow then a clothesline. Hogan misses two elbow drops and then Goldberg lands a clothesline of his own.

After Hogan regroups on the outside, he gets into the ring and tosses Goldberg to the outside. Hogan uses a chair and lands a shot to the back of Goldberg but No DQ. Hogan lands some leg drops but Goldberg kicks out.

But we miss those because we see Curt Hennig coming to the ring, but Karl Malone and DDP are right behind him. Malone lands a Diamond Cutter on Hennig. Goldberg then hits the Spear and Jackhammer on Hogan to win the WCW Championship as the building erupts.

Now obviously this is a big moment in Goldberg’s career and I am sure that he loved winning the WCW title in front of almost 40,000 people in his hometown. Eric Bischoff will defend the decision to put the match on free TV to this day, saying more people watched it on TV then they would have on PPV.

But Bischoff also left a ton of money on the table by not doing this on PPV. Not only that, WCW had a PPV the next Sunday and Goldberg wasn’t even in the main event. And that was pretty much the story of Goldberg as champion.

He only main evented one PPV before losing to Nash at Starrcade, Halloween Havoc 98. And a good chunk of the viewing audience missed that because the PPV went over time.

WCW never had a plan for Goldberg as champ. And for those that don’t know, it was Hogan that suggested this match. He knew the big wigs at Turner would be at the show with it being in Atlanta. And Hogan wanted to make them believe that he was responsible for the huge crowd since he was in the main event.

Thing is, there were already over 35,000 tickets sold for the show before the match was announced on Thunder. But of course Turner executives probably didn’t know that. It was just a master political job by Hogan. And since Bischoff could never say no to Hogan, he went along with it.

So what should they have done? Well, they obviously should have saved this for a PPV. With Jay Leno already looking to come in and work Road Wild, I would have the battle royal that took place there for the #1 Contendership. Goldberg wins that match and gets his shot at Fall Brawl and wins. Then Goldberg goes on to hold the title for much longer than he did.