Craig Wilson & Jamie Lithgow
Our march through the Raws and Nitros from 1998 continues with these shows from 23 February 1998. On Raw we will find out several matches set for Wrestlemania XIV, another celebrity set to appear at that show and get a title change. While over on Nitro another member joins the nWo and Sting defends the WCW title in the main event against Scott Hall.
All that and more as Monday Night Wars continues.
We’re in Waco Texas for this week’s Raw is War. This is a pre-recorded episode of Raw with, as always, JR joined by Michael Cole and Kevin Kelly on commentary.
Tag titles match first up with The Outlaws taking on The Legion of Doom. Jesse James refers to Hawk and Animal as OLD on their way to the ring. LOD waste no time and rush to the ring and attack the champs. Hawk takes fight to James at ringside but is sent into the steps by Gunn. LOD hit the Doomsday Device but the referee tries to get Hawk out of the ring and Animal is drilled in the face with the title belt and the champions retain. Post-match Hawk and Animal brawl in the ring.
NWA North American Champion Jeff Jarrett then takes on Ken Shamrock in a non title match. In the end Shamrock gets the win when with the referee dazed, Cornette inadvertently hits Jarrett over the head with the tennis racket and he slaps on the Ankle Lock on the unconscious Jarrett. Cole grabs a word with Jarrett who says it’s time he and Cornette went their separate ways.
Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler catches up with Road Warrior Animal in the dressing room. Hawk attacks Animnal until Blackjack Bradshaw, The Headbangers and various officials pull them apart.
Six-man tag action as Chaiz, 8-Ball and Skull lock up with Kurrgan, Sniper and Recon with The Jackyl. It’s announced by JR that there will be a 15 team battle royal at Wrestlemania XIV. This is pretty much what you’d expect. Skull and 8-Ball become first superstars to get Kurggan off his feet. Afterwards, Sniper slaps The Jackyl and Kurrgan attacks Sniper with the head vice when he retaliates. Kurrgan drags Sniper to the back still with the headvice on.
We go to HBK’s pad in San Antonio where DX are hanging on. JR asks him about his match with Stone Cold at Wrestlemania, Austin Stunnering Chyna and Triple H taking on Owen Hart in five weeks time. It would appear that HBK wears a cowboy hat indoors too…
Sunny is out to try and get fans interested in the Light Heavyweight Champion as she announces Taka Michinoku and the man he is facing Barry Windham to the ring. This obviously isn’t a light heavyweight title match. Cornette joins the commentary team for this one as the NWA tag champions The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express loiter at ringside. This one follows a simple pattern. Windham batters Taka until Taka hits a high flying move from nowhere before we return to Windham beating the piss out of Taka. Windham hits the lariat on Taka but on the 2 count the lights go out and Kane makes his way out. This ends in a no-contest when Kane hits the ring and the NWA flee leaving Taka to take the Tombstone. Afterwards, Paul Bearer challenges Stone Cold to face Kane next week on Raw is War.
Warzone starts with footage from earlier of Hawk and Animal scrapping backstage. Cole speaks with The Outlaws backstage before they get into their car that Chainsaw Charlie and Cactus Jack attack with a chainsaw and baseball bat respectively.
Goldust, in full ‘American Dream’ Dusty Rhodes garb, makes his way to the ring complete with Dusty’s entrance theme for his match with Bradshaw. The Dusty mannerisms fail to move Bradshaw and TAFKA Goldust is sent to the outside. He grabs a microphone and cuts a promo in the style of his father. Bradshaw beats Goldust before picking up the victory following a lariat.
Kevin Kelly tries to grab a word backstage with Hawk but the Road Warrior refuses to talk and leaves the arena.
We cut back to the ring and Steve Blackman is already in the ring ahead of his non-title match with WWF Intercontinental Champion The Rock. Maivia makes his way out with Farooq, D-Lo Brown, Kama Mustafa and Mark Henry. The undefeated Blackman pinned Farooq last week on Raw and now he gets a chance with the IC Champion. Farooq distracts the referee when The Rock has the match won. Blackman then sends Maivia into the leader of the Nation and Farooq is launched off the ring apron. With Farooq again distracting the referee, D-Lo throws the numchucks into the ring for The Rock to use but Blackman catches them and drops The Rock with them for the win. The Rock demands that Farooq gets in the ring. D-Lo blames the move on Farooq, with the Rock demanding an apology; Farooq gives none and leaves ringside with Kama, Mark Henry and D-Lo.
WWF Commissioner makes his way out as The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express are in the ring. Slaughter rules that Tommy Young can’t officiate this NWA Tag Team Title match. Cornette joins the commentary booth and is furious that Earl Hebner is now in charge. Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson are having dreadful luck with a series of miscommunications. JR announces that Cactus Jack and Chainsaw Charlie will face The New Age Outlaws at Wrestlemania XIV. Cornette drills Thasher with the loaded tennis racket and he lands on top of Ricky Morton and gets the victory and we have new NWA Tag Champions.
It’s then announced that Pete Rose will be at Wrestlemania.
This week’s main event is a title match as WWF European Champion Owen Hart defends his title against Marc Mero. Despite being sent to the back at the beginning, Sable makes her way back out to ringside. A distracted Mero is rolled up but only for a two. Hart gets the win when Mero shoves the referee to the mat. Post-match, Sable and Luna go at it until their separated by officials, Mero and Goldust.
* The New Age Outlaws defeat LOD to retain tag team titles when Gunn hits Animal with the title belt with the referee distracted.
* Ken Shamrock defeats NWA North American Champion Jeff Jarrett (w/ Jim Cornette) via submission
* Kurrgan, Sniper & Recon (w/ the Jackyl) defeated Chainz, 8-Ball & Skull when Kurrgan pinned Skull
* WWF Light Heavyweight Champion Taka Michinoku and Barry Windham (w/ Jim Cornette & NWA Tag Team Champions The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express) go to a non-contest when Kane hits the ring.
* Bradshaw beats TAFKA Goldust by pinfall after hitting a lariat.
* Steve Blackman pins The Rock (w/ NOD) after hitting him with numchucks behind the referee’s back.
* The Headbangers win the NWA Tag Titles from The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express when Thrasher pins Ricky Morton.
* WWF European Champion Owen Hart defeated Marc Mero via disqualification when the challenger pushed the referee.
This week’s Nitro hails from Sacramento, California, and comes hot on the heels of the previous night’s SuperBrawl PPV. The big news coming out of that event is that Sting is once again WCW Champion after defeating Hollywood Hogan for the vacant title. The match was, of course, laced with outside interference. The nWo B-Team tried to influence the result after referee Nick Patrick (he was reinstated during the PPV) took a bump, but Randy Savage had other ideas and decked Hogan with a spray can. Elsewhere Scott Steiner finally turned heel on his brother and joined the nWo. He did so mid-match, thus enabling The Outsiders to regain the tag titles they had lost just a couple of weeks ago. Further down the card Juventud Guerrera was forced to unmask after losing to Chris Jericho, and Booker T regained the TV Title from Rick Martel and immediately retained against Saturn – Hey, Goldberg wasn’t the only star on the rise in WCW around this time. Booker T was booked to look every bit the main eventer he eventually became.
Anyway, let’s look at the highlights from Nitro –
The show starts with the commentators and various wrestlers (via recorded promos) voicing their disgust at Scott Steiner – Sting just won the WCW Title, but let’s concentrate on the negative, eh lads…
Lex Luger calls out Steiner, but gets Curt Hennig instead. They have an impromptu match before a new look Scott Steiner runs-in. Now with bleached hair and beard, Scotty is soon joined by Buff Bagwell before Rick Steiner comes down to get his hands on his brother. This cues the rest of the nWo which in turn cues Sting to make the save which prompts the WCW locker room (well, a small fraction of it) to also come out. How many run-ins was that…?
The Flock attacked DDP, Chris Benoit made the save…
Time for Hogan and Bischoff’s weekly promo. Hogan accuses Nick Patrick of a fast count – it wasn’t. He also claims to be finished with Sting – yeah right. He also reveals that Scott Hall will finally receive his title shot – he earned it at World War 3 in Novemeber – in the show’s main event. He is convinced that Hall will win the title and hand it over to him. Finally he challenges Macho Man to a cage match at Uncensored, after which he will kick Savage out of the nWo. Savage accepts, but says that he will kick Hogan out of the group – So there’s our confirmation, Macho Man is still a member of the nWo, albeit an estranged one.
The Flock attacked Chris Benoit, DDP made the save…
Chris Jericho came out for his match wearing Juventud’s mask. He then cut his first ‘Monday Night Jericho’ promo.
Konnan cut a post-match promo on Juventud, for some reason. Using Juvi’s real name (Eduardo Gonzalez) he labelled him an embarrassment for losing his mask – Erm, what happened to your mask Konnan?!
In a change of pace the nWo B-Team (Vincent, Bagwell, Norton etc.) where permitted to use the main nWo theme, rather than the pish one they normally use.
JJ Dillon and Nick Patrick kissed and made up. Dillon also made it clear that there is no controversy over the title this time; Sting is the undisputed WCW World Heavyweight Champion.
The Giant cut a really believable and intense promo on Kevin Nash. This was the first we’d heard or seen from the big man since the botched powerbomb at Souled Out in January. Wearing a neck brace he says that doctors have advised him never to wrestle again. From his tone it is clear that The Giant will not be heeding this advice.
Brian ‘Crush from WWF’ Adams cut a well delivered, albeit generic in content, heel promo explaining why he came to WCW/nWo. He then makes remarks towards Bret Hart, who promptly comes out and a fight ensues. Curt Hennig and Rick Rude came down before Ric Flair made the save. Both Hart and Flair were extremely over, and The Hitman issued a challenge to Curt Hennig for Uncensored – Yep, Adams has been swept aside already.
The main event never actually gets under way. The entire nWo (minus Hall) went to the ring to call out Sting, but then promise they will leave after he shows up. Sting comes out. A second Sting (which is clearly Scott Hall in a mask) appears behind the real Sting and the champ is jumped by the nWo. Hall immediately unmasks, leaving us wondering why he bothered to dress up in the first place. Savage then came out, but got beat down by his stable mates. At this point a new nWo member (yeah, another one) debuts by standing in the corner doing fuck all. The mystery man will later be christened The Disciple, but we know him better as Brutus ‘The Barber’ Beefcake. Eventually Lex Luger came out with a chair to clear the ring of the bad guys and make the save.
* Curt Hennig v Lex Luger ended in a No Contest due to an nWo run-in
* DDP def. Hammer to retain the US Title
* Ultimo Dragon def. Kaz Hayashi
* Chris Benoit v Raven ended in a No Contest
* Chris Jericho def. Lenny Lane
* Rick Steiner def. Vincent
* Saturn def. Yuji Nagata
* Booker T def. The Renegade to retain the TV Title
* Konnan def. Lizmark Jr.
* Buff Bagwell & Scott Norton def. High Voltage
* Eddie Guerrero def. Disco Inferno
* Ric Flair def. Brad Armstrong
* Bret Hart def. Brian Adams
* Sting v Scott Hall for the WCW Title ended in a No Contest due to an nWo run-in
Raw: 3.2 Nitro: 4.6