The Furious Flashbacks – WCW Monday Nitro: Night of Champions
Posted by Arnold Furious on 04.24.2008
Bye bye WCW
The Furious Flashbacks – WCW Monday Nitro: Night of Champions
Bye bye WCW
So it’s all come down to this. I’ve reviewed a bunch of WCW shows over the past 3 years for 411 and everyone has their limit. This would be WCW’s last ever show, stuff done under the WWE banner excluded, and marked the end of the company. Billed as a “season finale” the general idea was for the show to be run basically by the WWE. If people wanted to turn up and perform to showcase themselves for the new boss then so be it. It not only gave the WWE the chance to look at some of WCW’s talent but also to put the belts on the people they considered right for the job. In particular the WCW champion. Going into this show it was Scott Steiner but the genetic freak had an assortment of injuries and needed time off to rehab. Clearly this wouldn’t be the most ideal figurehead for the new company. It’d just reinforce everything Vince McMahon had been saying about WCW for the past decade; that their athletes weren’t as athletic and that their main eventers were over the hill.
BACKSTAGE We kick things off with Vince McMahon, who else, introducing us to Monday Nitro. He puts himself over. Naturally. He says that tonight will determine the fate of WCW…which is true in ways that Vince didn’t appreciate.
We’re in Panama City Beach, Florida. Hosts are Tony Schiavone & Scott Hudson. Tony looks pensive. Hudson shills everything HARD in an attempt to gain employment. It worked!
PROMO TIME – Ric Flair, who else, opens the show. WOOOOO! He says he heard Vince McMahon say he was going to “hold WCW in the palm of his hands”. Flair points out you can’t hold the Brisco’s, the Funks, Harley Race, the Roadwarriors, Sting, Luger, the Steiners, Ric Flair, Steamboat in the palm of you hand! “I don’t think so”. Flair got advised to not go out there thinking it’s the last time. Don’t go out there and cry or say you’re sorry “but I’m not”. He’s been 14 times world champion for the “greatest wrestling organisation in the world”. Ric namedrops the Horsemen and says they’ve been on a par to any wrestling organisation anywhere. He points out they’ve run neck and neck with Vince McMahon for years and in 1981 Vince McMahon Sr voted for him to become world champion. WOOO! Erm, kayfabe anyone? He says he’s been a limo ridin’, jet flyin’…you know the rest. Off comes the jacket! WOOO! He says the boys are here and they’re not going anywhere because you can’t hold them in the palm of your hand. He mentions cutting himself five times and bleeding for 45 minutes. Bye kayfabe! See ya. He says Vince doesn’t know what he’s talking about because he wasn’t there and he hasn’t done it. You can’t control wrestlers and wrestling. He stops off finally to say his greatest ever opponent was Sting. WOOO! He tells Sting this is his last chance to be the man. I’M THE MAN….WOOOO!
WCW/US title match – Scott Steiner (c) w/Midajah v Booker T
Booker is the US champ. I still miss Midajah. I guess she didn’t want to wrestle so that eliminated her from the contract buyouts. Storyline wise Steiner put Booker on the shelf with chair shots to the knee. Well, Booker needed surgery anyway but that’s the kayfabed version. So not only is this a title match but a revenge match. Tony talks about seeing Vince McMahon and how that’s when the penny finally dropped and he knew the sale was final. Booker gets all of the opening and Steiner is quite happy to bump away to get this match over with the fans in short order. He probably sells more in that opening shine than during most of his recent title defences. He’s also far more focused and doesn’t spend half as much time jawing with the fans, which had been his most frequent offensive weapon during his title run. Booker gets the 10 count punches but Steiner powerbombs out. He throws Booker out to Midajah who lays him out cold with a SLAP. Now that was a hard slap. Steiner gets his metal pipe and Booker has to duck it. “He tried to kill him” screams Tony Schiavone. Scotty with the push up’s and the ref isn’t playing along. “COUNT MAH PUSHUPS!” Steiner just grabs Booker – white thunder belly to belly. Booker looks a little rusty here. A botched dropkick shows that off nicely. Booker AXES Steiner a few questions. Flapjack. Spinneroonie. That got over like clover in the WWE. Sidekick. Steiner counters the Book End into a Northern Lights for 2. That was nice. Steiner wants a powerbomb but Booker slips out into the BOOK END for the win. ***. Lots of heart from these guys. They went out there and told a story despite not knowing where they’d be working the next day. The effort showed the WWE they were interested and both ended up working in the WWE. Booker more prominently thanks to Steiner’s catalogue of injuries.
Sidenote – no more Midajah, ever. I feel sad.
BACKSTAGE Vince McMahon craps all over WCW saying their last show is in some redneck beer joint in the panhandle and that’s “appropriate”. No need to protect that investment Vince? Oops.
Jung Dragons v Three Count v Rey Mysterio Jr/Kidman
Evan is back in Three Count. The winners get a shot at the cruiserweight tag titles later in the night. Evan runs through some awkward spots and everyone hits quick opening high spots. Rey up’s the ante with one to the floor. They run the series in INCREDIBLY spotty fashion. Kidman finishes off with an SSP to the floor. Yang dumps Rey on the buckles and YANG TIME scores but Kidman saves. Good timing. Shannon Moore runs in for the Rocker Dropper. That gets 2. The spots continue! Dragons with an Iconoclasm/powerbomb double team for 2. Evan 450’s Kaz for 2. Kidman saves again. Rey with the Broncobuster attempt but Shannon boots him in the nuts. Rey fakes him out 619 style. Springboard guillotine legdrop finishes Shannon off. ½*. Holy shit that was a spotty mess. It felt like an Indy match from a guys like Special K in ROH or something similar.
BACKSTAGE Vince is interrupted by Trish Stratus who seems to overdone the collagen on the lips. Vince slips her the tongue to celebrate. You can hear the director saying “cut” because really bad timing is contagious and Vince touched WCW’s ass with his wang.
Cruiserweight title – “Sugar” Shane Helms (c) v Chavo Guerrero Jr
They run some slightly awkward counters to open with before Helms connects with a neckbreaker. Chavo comes back looking for a superplex but Shane gourdbusters him off and hits a sunset flip for 2. Chavo starts unloading with chops and the crowd are loving this. High crossbody from Shane gets 2. They counter and Chavo hits the EXPLOIDDAAAAAAA for 2. More countering and they’ve hit their rhythm now. Gutwrench backbreaker from Helms but they’re really not selling much. Chavo ducks the superkick and looks for the final cut but Shane gets out and connects with the superkick. He wants the Vertebreaker. Chavo counters out and they counter again standing. Helms counters into the VERTEBREAKER and NO ONE kicks out of that. Shane retains. **1/2. Good shit with counters for counters and tonnes of workrate but they stiffed it for time.
BACKSTAGE Booker says this is the end of a chapter but there are many pages left in the book. He’s going to prove he’s the best and wants challengers for his WCW title.
Tag titles – Sean O’Haire/Chuck Palumbo (c) v Lance Storm/Mike Awesome
Lance gets the mic and says the long road to the tag titles ends tonight and requests the Canadian National Anthem. We cut away in mid-anthem to get a word with Vince McMahon. Michael Cole wants to know what’s happening? Vince threatens to fire him for interrupting his make out session. That and having that super-gay hair frosting. FAAAAAAAAG! O’Haire & Palumbo were the better halves of two tag teams. With the dead wood stripped away (Stasiak & Jindrak) they’ve actually found a decent team. As for the “Canadians”. They were both can’t miss guaranteed stars so obviously Vince dropped the ball with both of them. Mainly because Awesome got dwarfed in the kingdom of the giants. He still looks solid here showing off his agility despite his large size. O’Haire makes him look small. He manhandles Awesome and frankly he looks like a total monster. And he could talk too. So obviously Vince dropped the ball with him too because he didn’t work “WWE style”. But then neither did Goldberg and he put the title on him. Palumbo escapes the Awesomebomb and superkicks Awesome. O’Haire goes up and the Seanton bomb finishes. **. That was…brief.
Tattoo match – Bam Bam Bigelow v Sean Stasiak w/Stacy Kiebler
If Stasiak loses Bigelow gets to tattoo him live on TV. Stacy looks hot as hell. So obviously she got a contract. Stasiak has a great build so you can see why he got hired too. Bigelow was past the point of inspired by 2001. He’d spent too long drifting around WCW’s midcard looking for direction. He barely gets the diving headbutt. Kiebler jumps into the ring with those long legs that go on from here to ya-ya. She also prevents the Greetings from Asbury Park and Stasiak gets a neckbreaker to avoid the needle. ¼*. That was exceptionally meh but it was also really short so what the hey.
BACKSTAGE Vince McMahon is joined by William Regal shilling Wrestlemania. He buries WCW as well saying it’s “bloody awful”. Vince appreciates his concern for how bad WCW stinks. BERRIED!
ELSEWHERE Diamond Dallas Page quotes the Grateful Dead and cuts a good promo about how he came from the Jersey Shore and became a superstar. He was told he’d never make it but he wanted it bad enough and worked for it. This is sort of the start of Positively Page. He thanks the fans for cheering for him. He specifically thanks the WCW fans and says his dream is going to go to another level. BANG! He was one of the few guys on guaranteed money who took the WWE buyout. You’ve gotta respect that move even if it was stupid because the WWE didn’t have a clue what to do with him.
BACKSTAGE Vince is on hand to prepare to make his speech.
Cruiserweight tag titles – Elix Skipper/Kid Romeo (c) v Rey Mysterio Jr/Kidman
Poor Kid Romeo. Just caught on with WCW and it closes down. Skipper & Romeo are heels. Tony takes a moment to take a shot at “Steve Regal” and how he busted his ass to get him over. OOOOOHHHH, didn’t take Regal’s low blow too well eh? Skipper looks really loose here and not the finished product that won over the TNA fans in XXX. Kidman gets double teamed and Romeo shows his muscle by just throwing him around the ring. This is pretty sloppy stuff to be honest. Romeo tries to come off the top but Kidman dropkicks him on the way down. At least Kidman looks fresh. Rey gets a tag and springboard sentons Elix. Tornado DDT on Romeo and Skipper has to save. Romeo gets rana’d over the top. Skipper gets isolated and Rey breaks out the broncobuster. GAY! Romeo comes in blind and throws him out of the ring. ANGELS WINGS on Kidman and Rey has to save. Rey with a powerbomb. Springboard headbutt but Elix saves. This is a total clusterfuck. Skipper with the bridging Electric Chair for 2. Skipper wants the Play of the Day but Kidman gets out into the Unprettier for the cruiserweight tag titles. *1/2. Like that means anything. The belts disappeared immediately and have never been mentioned since. Apart from …now. Natch.
BACKSTAGE Sting is back for tonight only. He has baseball bats hanging from the ceiling in a creepy visual. IT’S SHOWTIME, FOLKS!
ELSEWHERE Vince is such a good mood that he says hello to a security guard.
Ric Flair v Sting
Remember when Flair’s physique was so badly deteriorated that he had to wear a t-shirt? OOOHHHH. Ric says the name of his favourite magazine over and over again. Or the number of title reigns he had in WCW. One or the other. Sting is the one guy who never left WCW. Flair gets into an argument with Charles Robinson for old times sake. Hudson reminds us that this match once went up against Wrestlemania IV. I’d take Clash 1 over Mania IV any day of the week. Flair starts unloading with the chops because he doesn’t have any other offence. Sting turns the tables and wails away before dropkicking him out of the ring. Flair starts begging off. Sting knows that move and smiles instead of attacking. Flair STRUTS~! Sting with the press slam and Flair begs off again. “NOOOO”. “OH YEAH”. Crowd is REALLY into this now. Flair takes the face bump. Another huge pop because Flair is just bringing everything here. Sting grabs him by the throat and Flair goes low with the uppercut. Robinson is all “did you hit him in the balls”? Ric just looks at him like “no, why how dare you suggest that I, the Nature Boy, would pervert the natural course of wrestling match with cheating. That is utterly against my character and character history”. Flair goes up, another classic, and Sting throws him off. Sting misses a dropkick and Flair straps him in the Figure Four. That’s literally everything in Flair’s locker now. But its been fun watching him do it all. Sting turns it over, predictably but what the hell its nostalgia, and Flair has to break it up. Sting starts utterly no selling the chops. Flair fails to do his corner bump. Ok, now he’s out of tricks because the last one didn’t work. SUPERPLEX into the SCORPION DEATHLOCK. Flair gives up and Sting wins on the final Nitro. ***. Excellent nostalgia.
POST MATCH Sting helps Flair up and shows him respect. As Hudson points out Flair made Sting at Clash of the Champions. So there’s where the respect comes from. Tony heads into his sign off but Vince McMahon blows his entrance by coming out too early and cuts him off. You motherfucker. How hard is it to get a timing cue right? I think he did it on purpose.
PROMO TIME – Vince McMahon. He blows the opening line saying he’s been seen on TNN: Turner Network Television. Or TNT perhaps as that’s what it stands for. Vince says he bought his competition. He says no one wants to buy WCW so Time Warner is begging him to buy WCW. He wants to showboat and sign the papers to buy WCW on the Wrestlemania broadcast and he wants Ted Turner to bring the contract out on the PPV so he can stick it to him. Crowd LOVES this btw. Vince goes on to talk about how he won the Monday Night Wars by doing it by himself. He takes credit for everything. He gabs on for a while about Ted Turner and Shane McMahon and Wrestlemania. Seeing him talk reminds me of what a blowaway great show Wrestlemania X7 was. Vince starts off talking about putting WCW on the shelf. He thinks he’d get a few chuckles out of watching old Nitro’s and watching Eric Bischoff saying he’s going to bury the WWF. He has the last laugh. He throws out the option of how WCW might well become its own show. He throws out some names in order to get an idea of who the fans like; Hulk Hogan (BOOOOO), Lex Luger (BOOOOO), Buff Bagwell (REALLY mixed reaction surprisingly positive), Booker T (YAAAAY), Scott Steiner (mixed but mostly positive). Crowd chants “Goldberg”. Vince goes with Sting instead (mostly positive), Goldberg (HUGE pop). He says he could have gone down to the “redneck Riviera” and given every WCW star a piece of his mind. He runs down “beer drinking rednecks”, which usually would cause Steve Austin to appear. Vince says he’d have loved to have gone down to WCW and fired everyone personally. He’s decided to shelf WCW forever. Well, he did eventually. Shane’s music kicks in, well the generic McMahon music, but he doesn’t come out in Cleveland but rather in Florida. SHANE MCMAHON’S ON NITRO! The crowd noise is coming from the WWF fans rather than the disgruntled WCW fans who are sitting on their hands. There’s an annoying echo where they’ve not synced up the feeds. Shane points out the deal is finalised on the WCW sale but he bought it out from under Vince’s nose. “OH MAH GAWD” – JR. Shane promises to make WCW kick the WWF’s ass like he’ll kick Vince’s ass at Wrestlemania. Vince gives us the ‘shocked’ look.
How did they blow this? Well, easily. Vince never gave WCW a chance. The only guy who got over on him from WCW was his own son. He buried all their talent and made them look bad over and over again. Of course he’d already been burying WCW’s talent on TV for years so the continuation was perhaps predictable. Of course you’d think a guy buying something would want his new purchase to stand up. He could have said “I now own the two greatest wrestling companies in the world” and kept saying that. Kept putting over WCW as a commodity. But no, he couldn’t even do that on one show. He felt the need to bury WCW in every segment he was in. Now WCW is dead. It was already a poor brand name by the time Vince picked it up but he didn’t help matters any. There were a number of other factors but if he’d just put Booker T and DDP over a few guys then the storyline might have had legs. Or even a guy like Sean O’Haire if they wanted to build from fresh. But no. Ego gets in the way every time.
The 411: It’s sad to see WCW breathe its final breath. In a way I’ll miss the company even though it really did stink up the joint with some of the worst PPV’s in the history of wrestling and some of the worst TV, ever. I think this show was a mini example of how WCW was successful. You look at the influences of the cruiserweights and the variety of styles present in their wrestling and compare it to the WWE and their style. WCW had variety. They were an alternative. Plus they had their own, very real, history going back to the NWA days in the 1980’s. They had Ric Flair. They had Sting. They had Goldberg. And they fucked it up. And then the WWE fucked it up. It’s probably for the best the company died. That damaged brand was going to take years to repair. The WWE figured they’d be better off starting from fresh. LONG LIVE THE ALLIANCE! Thumbs up for this piece of nostalgia.