Thursday, September 4, 2014

Top Ten Thursday: Favorite WCW Nitro Moments

With the addition of about the first two years in the history of WCW Monday Nitro being added to the WWE Network, I figured it was time to do a Top Ten based on my favorite moments in that program's history. Now, I was always a WWF/Raw guy, but I watched my fair share of Nitro. I would record both and I do have some fond WCW memories. I also want to point out that this is a list of my personal favorite moments and maybe not the ten greatest. Honorable mentions go to the Ric Flair heart attack promo and the Raw/Nitro simulcast.

10. DDP as La Parka 7-9-1997

I don't know how many people remember this, but I thought it was very cool at the time. "Macho Man" Randy Savage and Diamond Dallas Page were in the midst of a pretty hot feud in the summer of 1997. On this particular episode of Nitro, Savage was set to face La Parka and everyone pretty much knew the outcome. But then La Parka put up one hell of a fight and eventually hit the Diamond Cutter. Page unmasked the place went nuts. He outsmarted Savage and while this might not be a particularly important moment in history, it was damn cool and as a kid, I loved it.

9. Lex Luger Wins The WCW Championship 8-4-1997

Since the inception of the nWo, Hollywood Hogan and that group ran roughshod over WCW. After winning the WCW Championship at Hog Wild in August of 1996, Hogan retained the title over and over for the next year or so, and nearly always through underhanded tactics. That all changed one night on Nitro when Lex Luger finally won one for the "good guys". He defeated Hogan for the WCW Title in another moment that got the crowd stoked. It was a cool moment as WCW was able to at least get one over on the nWo. Of course, this title reign did not last long and Hogan won the belt back a mere five days later.

8. Rick Rude Simulcast 11-17-1997

I guess maybe simulcast is the wrong word to use here, but Rick Rude was the first and I believe only person to ever appear on Raw and Nitro on the same night. If you don't know the story, Rick Rude was on Raw, which was taped the previous week. He jumped ship to WCW and appeared on their live episode of Nitro. As a fan, to see the same guy on both shows was crazy. To go from DX to nWo member within the same night was unheard of and was a shocking thing to see.

7. Lex Luger Jumps Ship 9-4-1995

With this episode of Nitro available on the WWE Network and highlighted on the first Monday Night War episode, you can go back and re-live this right now. Nitro aired it's first episode unopposed as Raw was not airing this week. Lex Luger has just wrestled a house show for the WWE the night before and nobody knew that he signed a deal with the WCW. Eric Bischoff kept it quiet and had him just walk out onto Nitro as he shouted to get the camera off of him on commentary. It gave Nitro a real feel to it, which it would keep for a while and it helped them dominant the ratings war for a long time.

6. Four Horsemen Parody 9-1-1997

Okay, I totally understand that Ric Flair and Arn Anderson were pissed at this, but it was damn funny. Kevin Nash is hilarious when he wants to be and this was one of the first times I really noticed it. He would reach his peak during the PCS in TNA, but this is about the Horsemen parody. Nash as Double A was genius and Syxx as Ric Flair was pretty solid. This is the Nash show with his "not bald spot, dog spot, but MY SPOT". If you haven't seen it, watch it and enjoy a hearty laugh.

5. Owen Hart Tribute Match 10-4-1999

Growing up, I was a HUGE Bret Hart fan and I was just as big of an Owen Hart fan. I was crushed when I found out that Owen passed away and Bret went away for a while. After returning, Nitro held a show in the same arena where Owen met his tragic demise and WCW allowed Bret Hart and Chris Benoit to go out and have a match in Owen's honor. What followed was an absolute classic and one of the best Nitro matches of all time. Seeing the Sharpshooter countered into the Crippler Crossface and vice versa was excellent and this match holds a special place in my heart.

4. Sting From the Rafters 1-20-1997

I enjoyed Sting as a kid, but I was never a big fan. Then he changed gears in 1996 and became the "crow" like character and I was hooked. Walking around the rafters and being mysterious was so cool to me. Quick note, think about how crazy it was that he went about a year without wrestling. One of the biggest names in wrestling, in the prime of his career, and he took a year off for character development. That's badass. Anyway, this was the first time that Sting descended from the rafters and it was an outstanding moment. I got goosebumps and thought it was one of the coolest things ever.

3. Chris Jericho Man of 1004 Holds and Conspiracy Victim 3-30 and 6-1-1998

I couldn't decide between these two moments. Really anything that Chris Jericho did from 1998-1999 was gold. The Man of 1004 Holds was a genius promo where Jericho brought out 90's printer paper and read off the fact that he knew four more moves than Dean Malenko. Even though he said ARMBAR more than a few times. Just hilarious. Then his conspiracy victim angle was just as good as he walked around the Nation's Capital with his hair tied up oddly and a suit. He complained to any and everyone that he was a conspiracy victim after losing the Cruiserweight Championship. You need to see it to truly enjoy it.

2. Goldberg Wins the WCW Title 7-6-1998

First things first, WCW really messed up by giving this away on free television and not making people pay to watch this huge showdown. Hollywood Hogan had reigned over WCW since 1996 and couldn't even be beaten cleanly by WCW's savior, Sting. So when he ran into the undefeated monster that was Goldberg, it should've gotten WCW a HUGE buyrate. However, they did it on free TV and it gave us an awesome Nitro moment. Goldberg beat Hogan cleanly in front of 30,000+ in the Georgia Dome and the roof nearly came off the arena. It was the last time that I can remember a crowd really going apeshit at a WCW show.

1. Scott Hall Debuts 5-27-1996

Nitro debuted and it was clear that the WWE had a bit of a threat on it's hands. Then shit got real on this night. The former Razor Ramon appeared in the middle of a match between two mid-carders, walking down through the crowd. The match abruptly stopped as Hall got a microphone and declared war on the WCW. Nobody knew what to think. It was as if the WWF was invading the WCW and people lost their minds. This was in an era before the internet and nobody knew what was going on. It was the start of the nWo and WCW's eventual dominant run for 84 weeks over Raw and the WWF.

Through the Years Reviews: No Mercy 2002

No Mercy 2002
October 20th, 2002 – Alltel Arena in Little Rock, Arkansas – Attendance: 10,000

After a disappointing King of the Ring Pay-Per-View, 2002 has stepped it's game up. Vengeance and Unforgiven were both very good shows and SummerSlam was outstanding. I don't remember much about this show except for the fact that The Undertaker and Brock Lesnar had their rematch and it's inside of the Hell in a Cell so I'm looking forward to that. I also remember that this had the finals of Smackdown Tag Team Title Tournament where Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit teamed up to face Edge and Rey Mysterio. Last little note for now is that this remains to this day as the only WWE Pay-Per-View to ever be held in Arkansas.

Opening with a backstage segment can be hit or miss. This one shows The Undertaker sitting backstage, looking at his hand in a cast. Kane sits next to him and asks how his week was. That's it. That's all. We go to the opening video package that focuses on the infamous KATIE VICK STORYLINE! These two couldn't just feud over it being Champion vs. Champion? The video shifts to the main event, which is Brock vs. The Undertaker in Hell in a Cell.

World Tag Team Championship
Chris Jericho and Christian (c) vs. Booker T and Goldust

Last time I saw the Tag Team Titles defended on Pay-Per-View at SummerSlam, Christian was Champion...with Lance Storm and was an Un-American. Also, Vitamin C took it from Kane and The Hurricane, so I missed a lot when it comes to title changes since Kane is also the Intercontinental Champion on this show. Christian and Goldust start out and Goldust eventually takes control with butt bumps. Yes, butt bumps. He slingshots Jericho outside onto Christian but when he attempts ten punches in the corner, Christian gets in a cheap shot. The heels work him over for a bit until Goldust hits a powerslam. Booker can feel it as the crowd rallies, but Goldust gets cut off from the tag. He counters and tags in anyway. So, Booker and Jericho have a one on one feud in the midst of all of this. Booker misses the Scissors Kick but hits a stiff spinebuster for two. Goldie makes a blind tag and hits a double bulldog before connecting with Shattered Dreams behind the ref's back. Jericho counters the Curtain Call and locks in the Walls of Jericho. Booker breaks the hold and nails the Scissors Kick. Christian pulls Goldust out to stop the pin. Booker goes up top and nails a missile dropkick so its SPINAROONIE TIME! The second rope breaks on Jericho when he attempts a springboard dropkick. That's something you don't see every day. Ever the improvisor, Jericho hits a bulldog on Goldust onto the tag belt and then a top rope moonsault instead of the Lionsault to retain.

Winners and Still World Tag Team Champions: Chris Jericho and Christian in 8:46
Decent stuff but I know that these four can do better. I wasn't as into it as I hoped I would be. **1/2

Backstage now with SMACKDOWN NUMBA ONA ANNOUNCER, Funaki! He's with Al Wilson and he asks about the Dawn Marie giving him sneak peeks before many lingerie and bikini contests previously. Because Smackdown had one pretty much every week. He is unable to speak about anything and Funaki, always the one to ask hard hitting questions, wants to know why Al Wilson was wearing clothes in the shower with Dawn Marie. When Al finally speaks, he pulls a Bill Clinton.

Dawn Marie vs. Torrie Wilson
This one should be a barn burner. Torrie hits a sunset flip that doesn't look terrible, which is surprising. Neither of these girls were ever any good but man did they have an extended rivalry. Dawn actually works on Torrie's back because PSYCHOLOGY! Seriously, a whip into the corner, some stomps on the back and even a surfboard variation! Dawn headbutts her in the groin which gets a big pop from the perverted fans. Catfight time as the girls roll around and the referee gets involved. Torrie hits a suplex for two and this is more competitive than I thought. Dawn charges in but gets met with the EDDIE GILBERT hot shot! You're on your way Torrie. And as I called it, a swinging neckbreaker earns Torrie the win.

Winner: Torrie Wilson in 4:41
That got more time than I thought and was better than I expected. Still not very good though. *1/4

Jonathan Coachman is in the back with Rob Van Dam and asks him about his match with Ric Flair. RVD paraphrases Flair's limousine riding stuff, and says that's not his style. He's a CHAIR SMASHING, FROG SPLASHING, RISK TAKING, YINNING AND YANGING, VAN DAMINATING dude. It's funnier to see because he struts and woos with each one. RVD heads off and Coach finds Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman. He goes for ask for thoughts on this, but Heyman and Brock leave. Tracy is left behind and I have no clue who she is. Apparently she is accusing The Undertaker of something. She's like, on a Brie Bella level of poor acting, but not Claire Lynch bad. 

Ric Flair vs. Rob Van Dam
Things start on the outside as RVD is still pissed that Flair cost him the World Heavyweight Title at the last Pay-Per-View. He hits his trademark leg drop on the guardrail and back inside, sends Flair in for his signature corner bump. The dirtiest player in the game knows what he's doing though with a thumb to the eye and chop block. Flair chops away in the corner and RVD tries to rally, but he's selling the leg injury well. Flair pokes the eye again and hits another chop block. His moveset seems pretty limited right now. Short punches in the corner for a bit. Figure Four gets locked in as RVD sells it like his leg is broken. Well done. RVD fights out and they struggle to do a backslide but it ends in a two. He takes a risk and it fails, allowing the safer Ric to try the Figure Four. They're yin and yang. STORYTELLING! RVD counters the Figure Four into a small package and Flair goes upstairs. Of course, he doesn't hit the move and gets slammed form the top. Rolling Thunder connects and Flair gets his foot on the rope. All of a sudden, RVD's leg is fine. Five Star Frog Splash hits and it gets him the duke, even though his pin pulled Flair's shoulder off the mat.

Winner: Rob Van Dam in 7:58
Considering Flair's limited offense and RVD forgetting the leg work that he sold so well throughout the match, this had potential to be better. *3/4

Big Show is complaining to Stephanie McMahon about how upset he is with Raw. I'd be pissed too. Smackdown is miles ahead at this point. Eric Bischoff shows up and is furious with Big Show. Show is not happy that he hasn't been on Pay-Per-View since July and hasn't headlined in forever. Show threatens Bischoff and leaves.

A video package highlighting the history of the Intercontinental Title is shown because the WWE is stupidly retiring the belt in his Katie Vick Unification match.

Cruiserweight Championship
Jamie Noble (c) w/ Nidia vs. Tajiri

IT'S JAMIE NOBLE BOY! Tajiri hits a baseball slide before the bell rings and gets a near fall once they enter the ring. Jamie Noble comes back and hits a very nice looking electric chair drop. Tilt-a-whirl backbreaker from Noble and he focuses on the back. Noble shouts “YEA BOY” because he's JAMIE NOBLE BOY. I don't know why, but I love doing that. I always loved Noble as Champion because he was different then your typical high flying cruiserweight. Tajiri knocks Noble off the tops and goes for a moonsault but misses. He lands on his feet and connects with a nice tornado DDT. Tajiri cuts down Noble with some vicious kicks and hits the handspring elbow. A variation of the airplane spin from Tajiri and a German suplex gets him a near fall. TARANTULA! He misses the Buzzsaw Kick though, and Noble goes for the Tiger Bomb. Tajiri reverses and slingshots him into the corner followed by a big kick. He gets the pin but Nidia distracts the referee with a kiss. Noble hits the Tiger Bomb but Tajiri kicks out! Tajiri attempts a victory roll but Nidia holds Noble's feet, allowing him the leverage to win.

Winner and Still Cruiserweight Champion: Jamie Noble in 8:15
I enjoyed this. It was a good Cruiserweight match and Jamie Noble is rolling as Champion. Fun stuff. **3/4

Tajiri grabs Nidia after the match and plants a kiss on her. She likes it and falls to her knees, so Noble gets mad and drops to his knees to show Tajiri how it's done. As he kisses her, Tajiri kicks him in the head. Cutting backstage, Chris Benoit is looking for Eddie Guerrero because Kurt Angle is beating up Chavo. Eddie hears Chavo getting beat up and says he doesn't believe it's him. It sounds like a little girl in his mind. It is, in fact, Chavo leading to a pull apart brawl. Angle and Benoit are one formidable tag team.

Winner Take All Champion vs. Champion Match
Kane (c) vs. Triple H (c)

For those who don't know, Kane is the Intercontinental Champion and Triple H is the World Heavyweight Champion. I loved Kane's attire during his 2002 until unmasked run. Kane comes out of the gate firing because he's pissed that Triple H, disguised as him, hooked up with Katie Vick. Kane continues to beat HHH from pillar to post. HHH stops his momentum with the dreaded knee to face and clotheslines him out. Triple H is going all CEREBRAL ASSASSIN as he targets Kane's neck. The crowd is pretty dead and this is pretty boring so far. Triple H decides that the way to wake the fans up is to apply a sleeper hold. Kane counters with a backdrop. He hits a flying clothesline and Flair runs out and slides into the ring with more athleticism than I've ever seen. Kane knocks him down and HHH nails him with the World Title. Kane kicks out because belt shots don't do much nowadays. ITS A BIRD! ITS A PLANE! ITS THE HURRICANE! He comes out and takes out Flair, but eats a Pedigree on the outside. Kane sits up and he's in dominant demon mode. HHH blocks a superplex and goes for a top rope move like an idiot, so Kane boots him in the face. The referee also eats a big boot, so you know more shenanigans are coming. Kane uses this time to hit a chokeslam through the announce table. Flair brings in the sledgehammer but Kane blocks it and big boots him. HHH levels Kane in the mid section with the sledgehammer, but he shrugs it off and hits another chokeslam. A new ref runs out and Flair takes him out before he count three. Kane chokeslams Flair as he continues to dominate, but HHH hits a perfectly timed Pedigree and Earl Hebner wakes up to count the three.

Winner and Still World Heavyweight Champion and New Intercontinental Champion: Triple H in 16:13
Boring at the start, but for once, shenanigans actually made it better. It spiced the match up. HHH and Flair looked really weak though as Kane dominated them. **

Stephanie McMahon is in her office when that damn Jezebel Tracy is back. Stephanie tries to say that Tracy has strong feelings for the Undertaker, but she denies. SHE CALLS HIM MARK! KAYFABE DOESN'T EXIST ANYMORE! Stephanie tricks her into spilling the beans with nearly no effort. Tracy is an idiot. The Undertaker hears her confess and she gets kicked out.

WWE Tag Team Championship Tournament Finals
Chris Benoit and Kurt Angle vs. Edge and Rey Mysterio

Paul Heyman mentioned on Talk is Jericho that once he saw that Raw had a weak tag division, he wanted to make Smackdown's amazing. This is a good start on paper. Angle and Mysterio start the match and Angle works him over on the mat and slaps him around. He tosses Rey hard and demands that he tag in Edge. Rey declines and gets Angle down with multiple dropkicks. A nice springboard hurricanrana is followed by him slapping Angle around in a cool turn of events. Edge comes in and has a fine exchange with Kurt before Benoit enters. They go back and forth, with Edge targeting the lower back. Edge gets a near fall with a flapjack and Angle gets in a cheap knee to the back. Edge retaliates with a Spear that knocks him off the apron. He comes in the ring soon after and works over Edge for a bit. Angle goes all Samoa Joe with a rear naked choke that Edge rallies out of. That rally is stopped with a belly to belly. Benoit's back in and sends Edge into the corner for the Bret Hart sternum bump. Edge is in real trouble when Benoit reels off his German suplex hat trick. The Crippler signals for the finish as he goes up top but Edge stops him. Superplex from Edge! HOT TAG TO REY who instantly knocks Angle off the apron and hits a flying head scissors on Benoit. Angle runs in and takes a dropkick. Rey gets Benoit draped on the second rope and hits a guillotine leg drop for two! Benoit counters a Rey bulldog into the Crippler Crossface! That was awesome. Edge breaks up the submission but gets pulled outside by Angle. Rey dropkicks Benoit and goes for the 619, but Benoit catches him. Edge comes off the top with a missile dropkick and Rey gets a near fall. Rey goes up top but Angle leaps up and hits a second rope belly to belly! Benoit covers for only two! My goodness. Angle gets near falls on Rey with a backbreaker and a snap suplex. Rey surprises everyone with a belly to belly of his own, but he runs into one from Angle. Benoit and Angle now pick apart Rey with stiff ass offense. Rey sends Benoit into the corner with a reversal. HOT TAG! Both Angle and Edge come in and Edge is on fire. Edge-o-matic gets two and it's time for double teams. Edge nails Benoit in the corner before Rey runs in with a bronco buster. After Edge rams his shoulder into Angle, he puts him on the top. Rey charges, Edge catapults him onto Angle and he hits a hurricanrana off the top! Edge covers and Benoit goes for the headbutt to break it up but he hits Angle by mistake! Edge covers and somehow Kurt kicks out. Once they get up, Kurt hits a German and taunts for another, but Edge launches Rey into him. Benoit trips up Edge and locks in the Crossface. Edge gets near the ropes, so Rey hits a 619 to break it up! Angle Slam on Rey and THE STRAPS ARE DOWN! Ankle Lock on Edge, but he counters into a small package for a close two count! He bounces off the ropes with the Spear but Benoit breaks the pin. Rey knocks him outside and Edge catapults him onto him. Edge goes for the Edgecution, but Kurt counters into the Ankle Lock. Edge rolls forward into his own Ankle Lock! HOLY POOP! Angle reverses back into his own and forces Edge to submit.

Winners and First WWE Tag Team Champions: Chris Benoit and Kurt Angle in 22:03
I don't even have words for that. That might be the best tag team match that I've ever seen and if it's not, it's damn close. Match of the year for 2002 so far. ****3/4

Undertaker is getting his hand checked on and he threatens a medical worker to give him some type of shot to get him through the match tonight. 

WWE Women's Championship
Trish Stratus (c) vs. Victoria

Either this was before Victoria had “All the things she said” as her theme or it's dubbed over. Victoria shows her power advantage early on but a furious run from Trish makes Victoria regroup outside. Trish goes after her but Victoria, being the more aggressive of the two, wins the battle out there. Back inside, Victoria front flips from the apron into the ring with a leg drop for two. That was more impressive than 90% of what the Divas of today do. They do a sloppy monkey flip and Trish hits her handstand hurricanrana for two. Victoria nails an impressive side slam but the fans are pretty dead. Lawler continues to mention that Divas are Raw exclusive as Trish hits an electric chair drop. Trish ducks a clothesline and hits the Chick Kick but only gets two. She follows with consecutive swinging neckbreakers and Victoria blocks Stratusfaction. Trish rolls up Victoria and gets the 1-2-3.

Winner and Still Women's Champion: Trish Stratus in 5:31
Kind of awkward and disappointing. Their matches would get better with more chemistry over time. *1/2

Victoria is pissed so she kicks Trish in the face and has to be held back by the referee. We go to The World where Rikishi is there to talk about the Hell in a Cell match because he's been tossed from the top of one by The Undertaker.

WWE Championship Hell in a Cell
Brock Lesnar (c) w/ Paul Heyman vs. The Undertaker

It's clear from the get go that this is going to be a war. Undertaker levels Brock in the mid section with his cast. Lesnar is rethinking tonight as he tries to break the door but he's not Kane so it doesn't work. Brock takes control with heel tactic #4 as he goads Taker into following him into the ring and stomps on him. Undertaker fights back and busts Brock wide open with the cast. He starts to toss him around outside of the ring. Paul Heyman is yelling like his child is being beaten to death. Taker grates Brock's face on the cell and is manhandling the Champion. Guillotine leg drop on the apron from old Booger Red is followed by an incredibly poor looking knee from the top rope. It's like Undertaker thought of a top rope leg drop and then realized that he's nearly seven feet. Heyman finds a hole in the cage and reaches in but is nowhere near Taker. Undertaker gets pissed and big boots him before grabbing him through the hole and bringing him into the cage, busting open Heyman. He charges at Brock, who flapjacks him into the cage and drives him into the post and cage. Heyman hands Lesnar his belt and he wraps it around Undertaker's wrist and Heyman holds him in place from outside. Brock wails on Taker in the back with a steel chair before OBLITERATING his hand with it. Undertaker fights back with desperation but Brock targets the hand again. In the ring, Lesnar removes Undertaker's cast and this is a brutal ass match. He puts Undertaker on the top and grabs hold of the ceiling as he stands on the top and kicks him repeatedly. Taker uses a low blow and shoves Brock off. He shoves Lesnar off the apron and into the cage as Heyman pleads with Brock. That man can act. The Undertaker actually does a suicide dive because why not tonight. Brock uses the steel steps to take out Undertaker and now he is bleeding like a stuffed pig. I mean, the man is gushing. Brock doesn't care and he hits him with the steps again! Back inside, Undertaker won't die as he fights back but Brock plants him with a spinebuster. Taker uses his broken right hand to punch Lesnar and he stomps on Brock's finger, which looks like it hurts like hell. He attempts Old School but Brock slams him to the mat. Tazz says that Undertaker has never been pinned, which is just dumb. He counters the F5 and hits a Chokeslam but Brock is able to kick out. It's hard to look at Undertaker and all of the blood. Brock goes for the Last Ride to mock Taker but it's reversed and Taker hits a big DDT. Undertaker gives the signal and he goes for the Last Ride, but Brock shoves him into the corner and drives his shoulder into his ribs numerous times. Brock goes for ten punches but Taker counters out with the Last Ride! He's a mess and Brock gets his hand on the bottom rope. Taker calls for the Tombstone but Brock reverses into an impressive ass F5 that finishes it

Winner and Still WWE Champion: Brock Lesnar in 27:18
That was so damn brutal. We'll never get a Hell in a Cell like that again and that made up for the disappointing Unforgiven match. Both men bled and beat the hell out of each other, and no climbing the cage spot which I feel is overused. With a little more hand selling from Undertaker, this could've been a classic. Brock has been legitimized. ****

Overall: 6.5/10; Above Average. Let me get this straight right off the bat. Parts of this show were poor. Nothing on the Raw side was memorable and only one match passed two stars. Smackdown's side though had a solid Cruiserweight Title match, a brutal main event and an outstanding tag team title match. Shows you where the shows were at this point. See the Hell in a Cell and WWE Tag Team Title match, but everything else is not really worth it.