Welcome to Seven Things, a list that consists of very eclectic topics. These are of my opinions and doesn’t express the views of others on WrestlingOnEarth.
With the WWE Network featuring recent specials on the Monday Night Wars and the best of WCW Nitro, it led me to ponder on how much I enjoyed that show growing up. We all know the great talents and the variety of characters that WCW thrived on to take over the wrestling world in 1996 and 1997.
Some things are interesting to reflect on as memories are altered when you obtain knowledge and it can change your perception of them. That will be showcased here as I’m listing my favorite memories based strictly off how much I enjoyed them as a kid watching it as it happened in real time during the height of the Monday Night Wars.
Reminder: If you have any suggestions for future lists, feel free to share them in the comments or send them to me on Twitter: @JoeySplashwater
7. Goldberg wins the WCW Championship
During the Summer of 1998, wrestling was at its hottest. The Steve Austin era in WWE was on fire along with the ascension of Degeneration X and The Rock. WCW, still putting out great numbers, was starting to lose steam due to an inability to create new stars but one guy was given “the ball” on this night and it was Goldberg.
Even as a 9 year old, I was able to form concepts of logic in pro wrestling and usually a title match on television with little to no advertising would mean the chances of a championship changing hands were little to none. I was already dreading the run-in DQ finish that was typical for the nWo matches on Nitro but on this night, it didn’t happen. Goldberg won the title off of Hogan via a Jackhammer and the arena exploded with cheers as did my living room.
6. Sting joins the NWO Wolfpack
Remember when I said you look at things differently once you get introduced to knowledge and common sense? Well, this is one of those instances. When the NWO split in half, Sting joined the Wolfpack, a group of popular NWO faces wanting to get away from Hulk Hogan. As a kid, I ate this up. The coolest wrestler at the time in WCW, Stinger, joined the faction of nearly equally cool guys like Kevin Nash, Randy Savage and Konnan. Yes, I somehow thought Konnan was cool at the time. Color me shamed.
Looking back, this was one of the most asinine decisions in wrestling history and showed the problems WCW had. One of the greatest stories in WCW history was Sting standing alone after the NWO took over HIS company and turned his friends and fans against him. Sting then rallied to be the one guy who could stand up against them and became the hero the fans needed. How can you kill that?
By having him wear a NWO shirt a few months after he returns to the ring. Nash, Savage and Konnan all made his life hell and he joins them because a mutual friend in Lex Luger tells him they’re good guys now? I want to punch my 9 year old face for loving The Wolfpack so much at the time.
5. Dennis Rodman vs. Karl Malone
My two loves growing up were the NBA and pro wrestling. How things don’t change, eh? WCW managed to get two of the biggest stars in pro sports at the time that had a rivalry on the court start in two of the greatest NBA finals of all time and somehow convinced them to wrestle a match? Amazing. Impossible to imagine that today with all the money risks and public perception images. Whenever they interacted on Nitro, it was must see television and I was left captivated.
4. The New Blood is here/WCW relaunch
I know how this all turned out but we’re going with my favorite memories as it happened and the edition of Nitro when The New Breed angle/era was launched still is one of my fondest memories. I’m still fascinated with the idea of a wrestling promotion just restarting everything. Ending all storylines, all titles vacated, a fresh slate and the feeling like you’re seeing the beginning of something just gets the optimism and creative juices going. I wish WWE or one of the other major wrestling promotions would try this when things get stagnant and they need a relaunch.
While The New Blood vs. Millionaire’s Club did not result in a great feud or must see television, it gave us Billy Kidman pinning Hulk Hogan. A moment we shall always treasure.
3. Sting attacks the NWO
Touched on earlier in the list, Sting’s time stalking the NWO was incredible television. Seeing him get the better of 10 men was just making for bad ass television as the fans craved to see him end the show coming down from the rafters every week. Sting was the closest thing to a comic book superhero at the time as the only one that could take down the hated villains that were the New World Order.
2. DDP as La Parka defeats Randy Savage
Every time I watch this, I’m left marveling at how brilliant it was. As mentioned earlier, I always considered myself “hip” to the business in that I’d typically know where angles were going even though I had the youthful innocence to lose myself in them. About 90% of the time, I could see where the match was going or what swerves were coming.
On this night, I did not detect the slightest sense that Diamond Dallas Page was in the La Parka costume. That’s a testament to DDP as a performer. Expecting a typical Nitro squash match, I vividly remember thinking something was up when La Parka put his boots up to block the Randy Savage Elbow Drop. It then transformed into pandemonium when Page hit the Diamond Cutter and unmasked revealing himself to get the win over Macho Man.
I still get chills listening to the criminally underrated Tony Schiavone shout: “When he wakes up, let him know that was a Diamond Cutter! And out go the lights for Randy Savage!”
1. Lex Luger defeats Hulk Hogan to win the WCW Championship
People understandably get overly critical when discussing Hulk Hogan, his ego and his inability to do what was best for his opponent but this match showcased how brilliant of a performer Hogan could be. You can easily argue Hulk Hogan is the greatest babyface in wrestling history and I’d likely agree but the man was also spot on as a heel. In the right match, Hogan could make you root for someone you barely like as if he was the greatest wrestler of your generation. That happened on this fateful evening.
Of course I wanted to see the NWO lose regardless and I did consider Lex Luger to be a likeable enough wrestler as a kid but he was never loved the way Sting, Diamond Dallas Page, Goldberg or a few others were during their hot streaks as a top tier babyface. However, I recall feeling the momentum build throughout the match and starting to believe in Lex to take the belt off of Hulkster and he actually did it.
The imagery of seeing the WCW locker room come out to celebrate with Luger as they later washed off the spray painted NWO letters off of the sacred WCW title backstage is my second favorite memory of the Monday Night Wars. The only memory above that will be named when I do an edition of my favorite RAW moments during the MNW era in a week or two.
Top 3 underrated moments from the celebration:
- Dean Malenko getting left high and dry when trying to high five Lex.
- Rey Mysterio emptying an ice bowl on Luger’s head.
- Luger chanting his own name.