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Monday Nitro - December 21, 1998

Monday Nitro #168
Date: December 21, 1998
Location: TWA Dome, St. Louis, Missouri
Attendance: 29,000
Commentators: Mike Tenay, Bobby Heenan, Larry Zbyszko, Tony Schiavone

Reviewed by Tommy Hall

It's the go home show for Starrcade and the top part of the card is set. Unfortunately even after Thunder, I'm pretty sure only four matches have been announced. The main idea for tonight will probably be just tying up loose ends before we get to Sunday, meaning there isn't likely to be much of note tonight. Let's get to it.

We open with a LONG recap of the NWO forming and Bischoff joining them a few months later. This sets up Flair vs. Bischoff at Starrcade.

The announcers do their thing.

Fit Finlay vs. Scott Putski

Feeling out process to start with neither guy really wanting to do anything. Finlay takes him down to the mat and cranks on a headlock with Larry pointing out how the forearm is right in Putski's jaw. A hard back elbow is enough to put Putski down again and Finlay cranks on an early chinlock.

The announcers talk about how Flair has Bischoff running scared. The heart attack isn't mentioned at all, making me think it's going to be completely wasted and forgotten about in just a few weeks. To be fair that's probably not the worst thing in the world. Finlay shifts over to a leg lock and we take a break. In this match? Seriously?

Back with Putski fighting back with some forearms but being taken down again with a knee to the ribs. We hit the headlock again as this match has already been going far longer than I would have expected it to. If nothing else the announcers get to ignore the match even longer than they would have in normal circumstances.

Putski fights up again and starts his real comeback. He nails a nice middle rope dropkick and a running clothesline as the announcers actually pay attention here for a few moments. This match has to be ending soon as it's been going for over ten minutes already. I can't remember the last time a main event got that long. As I say that, Putski misses the Polish Hammer and walks into the tombstone to give Finlay the pin.

Rating: D. We're coming up on the biggest show of the yere, there are four matches announced for the show, and the first commercial break is during what is probably the longest match Scott Putski ever had on TV. Who in the world thought this was something we needed to see?

Recap of Flair vs. Bischoff.

Here's Ernest Miller to run his mouth about the same stuff he always runs his mouth about, but Santa Claus is in the aisle with presents.

Chavo Guerrero Jr. vs. Kaz Hayashi

Kaz jumps Chavo at the bell but Chavo easily sends him into the corner and stomps away to take over. Some forearms in the corner sets up an armbar from Guerrero. Hayashi fights back with a quick dropkick but misses a charge into the corner and gets taken down by the tornado DDT for a fast pin.

Video on Goldberg vs. Nash vs. Bigelow from last week.

Nash comes out for the hard sell on Sunday, which isn't something he's all that great at but hey, he's booking the company so it must be the right move. He talks about being World Champion for a year and defending the title 197 times in that span. While Goldberg is out doing movies and TV Guide, Nash has been getting ready. On Sunday, he'll become the man by beating the man (yes he acknowledges it's a Flair line).

Kanyon tells Gene that Raven has been in therapy for years. Raven thinks his mom was here last week to get fifteen minutes of fame like Judy Bagwell and hits Kanyon for making fun of him. This brings in Raven's mom who finally convinces Scotty (Raven) to come home and get some help.

Here's Bischoff to run his mouth. He says his usual stuff about Ric and Flair's family, but we cut to the back to see the Horsemen beating down Scott Norton with a pipe. Flair heads to the ring and Bischoff takes off. Ric says he'll kill Bischoff if he gets his hands on him tonight. The fans were WAY into this.

Video on Page vs. Giant.

Wrath vs. Lizmark Jr.

Wrath shoves the luchador down to start and easily shoves him into the corner for some knees to the ribs. Lizmark's dropkick has no effect as he gets caught in a side slam for two. A back elbow puts him on the floor and Wrath follows him out to continue the beating. We hit a chinlock for a few seconds before Wrath misses a charge into the corner. Not that it matters as he comes back with a Rock Bottom and the Meltdown for the pin.

Christmas Nitro Girls.

Nitro Party.

Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. Eddie Guerrero

Eddie rants a bit more about Rey screwing with the rest of the LWO. They start fast with Rey monkey flipping Eddie into the ropes and dropkicking him out to the floor. Rey tries a dive but flies into the barricade to give Eddie control. Eddie whips him hard into the steps before taking it back inside to yell at the fans. We hit the Gory Stretch as Tenay tries to figure out why Eddie keeps Rey in the LWO.

A neckbreaker drops Rey again and Eddie puts on a modified Sharpshooter while also pulling on Rey's arm. Rey reverses a suplex to take Eddie out to the floor but Eddie comes back with a top rope hurricanrana. The crowd is almost dead here for some reason. We hit a camel clutch with Eddie ripping a hole in Rey's mask around the eye. The referee makes him break so Eddie nails a great looking release German suplex.

Rey comes back with a springboard headscissors to send Eddie to the floor but a shot to the bad knee puts him right back down. Eddie wisely goes to the knee and cranks on it with a basic hold. We hit an STF from Eddie before taking a break. Back with Rey reversing an inverted Gory Special into a cradle for two but Eddie reverses into one of his own for the same.

The brainbuster looks to set up the Frog Splash but Eddie has to roll through when Rey gets to his feet. Mysterio avoids a charge in the corner to make Eddie crotch himself against the steel. A big dive sends Eddie into the barricade but he's able to sidestep a springboard missile dropkick back inside. They slug it out in the corner with Rey taking over off a double leg Fameasser. A top rope hurricanrana sends Eddie to the apron and a baseball slide into an ankle scissors drags him to the floor.

The announcers are actually talking about the Cruiserweight Title match on Sunday if you can believe that. Back in and Eddie takes over with a flapjack and a stiff powerbomb for two. A second attempt is countered and another headscissors gets two on Guerrero. The referee is knocked to the floor and here's the bodyguard to the apron. Rey avoids a dropkick to send the guard to the floor as well but here's Kidman on the apron. He loads up a forearm on Eddie but hits Mysterio by mistake, giving Guerrero the pin.

Rating: B. This is one of those pairings that is going to work no matter what they're doing together. It even worked here here where they slowed things down a bit due to Eddie wanting to hurt Rey for all the problems Mysterio has caused and Mysterio having to fight back with whatever leverage move he can. On top of that we get some build for Sunday. Good stuff here.

Here's Scott Steiner to brag about being in the state of St. Louis, Missouri. He's here to recruit Mark McGwire to the NWO and brings out....Bagwell dressed as McGwire. I think you can figure out this one for yourselves. Bagwell says he loves the NWO, takes some andro (a then legal substance that McGwire took in the year he broke the single season home run record) and says he'd be nothing without it. Steiner burns the Cardinals hat and jersey while insulting the city. Total filler.

Norman Smiley vs. Prince Iaukea Iaukea goes right after Smiley to start and grabs a rollup for two. Norman comes back with an elbow and it's time to dance! The Prince rakes his eye and hits Norman rather low before getting two off something resembling an Angle Slam. Not that it matters as Norman comes back with the crossface chicken wing for the fast submission. Nothing much here.

Barry Windham vs. Van Hammer

Windham takes over with chops in the corner followed by a suplex but here's Flair before things go too far.

Ric fires away chops of his own and knees Windham low to put him down. Barry is thrown to the floor and into the barricade before another low blow puts him down again. Ric goes after the eyes and hits Windham low two more times. He fishhooks Barry's mouth and hits him in the head before taking it back inside. Flair loads up Shattered Dreams but has to deal with Vincent. This brings out Arn Anderson to help out and stomp Vincent to pieces. Benoit and Malenko stop Horace and Adams and they all brawl to the back. Security mace and cuff Benoit and Malenko but leave the NWO guys alone.

Back in the arena Flair is all fired up and has a mic. He rants (would you expect anything else?) about Bischoff trying to break his career and life, but then one day Flair's son Reid asked why Flair didn't just beat Bischoff up and wrestle again. This brings out Bischoff who is acting apologetic, causing Anderson to almost have to hold Flair back. Security stops Flair and handcuffs him, but Flair still promises to kill Bischoff on Sunday. The heart attack stuff was barely mentioned at all here.

Booker T. vs. Jerry Flynn

I don't see this being very competitive. Booker nails a quick forearm to start but eats a spin kick. Flynn hits a knee and elbow, only to walk into the ax kick. That modified spinebuster sets up the Spinarooni and the missile dropkick is enough to pin Jerry in less than two minutes.

Lex Luger vs. Kenny Kaos

Kaos doesn't have his title belt with him. Seriously, why put it on him in the first place? Luger hiptosses him down to start but walks into a hard slam and some posing from Kenny. Back up and Luger grabs a slam of his own, only to be raked in the eyes. Kenny hammers away with basic offense before a middle rope legdrop gets two. Tony finally mentions that Kaos is half of the Tag Team Champions as Luger makes his comeback with the usual stuff. Rage comes out and distracts Rage, which makes absolutely no difference as Luger was about to Rack him anyway for the submission.

Rating: D. They don't even remember to bring the title belt out while the jobber champion is getting squashed. There's so much wrong with that statement that I don't even know where to start. For the life of me I do not understand the thinking behind putting the title on Kaos. I could probably come up with two dozen people that would make more sense and be a better option than he was and somehow that's not an exaggeration

High Voltage argues post match. Again, why in the world did Kaos need to be a Tag Team Champion?

TV Title: Konnan vs. Alex Wright

Konnan is defending so we get to see part of his rap video. Before the match we've got Disco Inferno coming out and warning Konnan that Wright is crazy. Konnan says get out of his face before being taken down by Wright with an arm wringer. That goes nowhere so they trade some rollups for two each, followed by armdrags from Konnan and a break.

Back with Wright in control and working on the leg. That goes nowhere so Konnan is sent to the floor, only to come back in and throw Wright to the floor. Back up and Konnan hits the rolling clothesline and the low dropkick as the fans are really bored with the match. The X Factor sets up the Tequila Sunrise to retain Konnan's title.

Rating: D-. This was just bad as the two didn't connect at all. Wright didn't do any of the interesting stuff he was capable of doing and Konnan was keeping it in cruise control the entire match here. Also I don' think the fans bought the idea that the title was going to change this close to Starrcade.

Wright snaps post match and pounds on various things with a chair ala Chris Jericho right before he turned heel a year and a half or so back. Speaking of which, here's Jericho to blast Konnan in the back of the head with the TV Title. He puts the belt on Konnan's head for the Lionsault and poses over top of him. “ARRIBA LOS JERICHOS!”

Here's Disco Inferno in a Wolfpack shirt to call out any member of the Black and White. “Maybe Horace?” That's not quite who he gets.

Disco Inferno vs. Giant

Giant no sells everything Disco tries to start and knocks him to the mat with a big right hand. Disco keeps trying to fire away to even less effect before Giant headbutts him down with ease. The Chartbuster is thrown away and a chokeslam off the top gives Giant the easy pin.

Post match Giant calls out Page, who will be a dead man at Starrcade. Page is in the crowd, scum is discussed and that's about it.

Goldberg vs. Scott Hall

Non-title of course. The entrances combine to take nearly four minutes so we barely have any time left. A lockup goes nowhere so Hall grabs the arm for the driving shoulders. Goldberg puts him down with a fireman's carry and a shove to put Hall on the mat. Nash comes out to the ring as Goldberg counters a slam into a powerslam. Goldberg is distracted by the shine of Nash's hair, allowing Scott to jump in from behind. The fall away slam has no effect and there's the spear, but Nash pulls Hall to the floor as Bigelow comes in to jump Goldberg as the show goes off the air.

Overall Rating: D. What in the world was that supposed to be? It wasn't a go home show and it wasn't a regular episode of Nitro. Just what was this supposed to be? The show ends with an attack by someone not even on the card on Sunday? There are still four matches announced for Starrcade and one of them should be a five minute squash.

There's no Thunder on Thursday due to Christmas Eve so this was their final chance (save for Saturday Night) to get people to care. I have no idea what this show accomplished, other than a very good Mysterio vs. Guerrero match. Starrcade has the potential to be an absolute bomb and I don't expect much more at this point.

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  1. I was 16 when this was all going down and wasn't really on the internet maybe at all at this point. Certainly not to the point where I was reading any rumors. That being said I was very into Kaos becoming a champion. He had been lingering around in the lower mid card and even at 16 I thought this was his chance to break out. Now granted it went no where but Kaos wasn't that bad all things considered. Hell the High Voltage team COULD have been decent if they were given anything. Its hard to believe that things wouldn't ever get better for them. That in a year they would kill to have a show and presumably the ratings they had for this shit show.

  2. I was at this show, actually. I was on my Christmas break from college, and went home to see the folks. Got good seats cheap, and this was when wrestling was still relatively hot - I could wear my shirts around campus without getting too many funny looks.

  3. Less than a half full stadium, i wondered why WCW would run an stadium show one week before Starrcade? Why not, you know book it FOR Starrcade?

    I also find it amusing, the amount of guys who weren't booked for the big show...Bret Hart,Scott Hall,Lex Luger,Scott Steiner,Booker T,Raven,Bam Bam Bigelow,Chris Benoit,Dean Malenko,Curt Hennig and of course Villano V!

    Not to mention Hulk Hogan,Sting & Rowdy Roddy Piper all sitting at home for various reasons.

  4. Maybe the main problem for WCW in 98/99 was not, that they had to pay too many people or had no Idea for new stories or did not push new stars, but that they didn't use the main event stars on every PPV and Nitro. With the guys they didn't use for Starrcade, they could make another PPV who would have been much more interesting.

  5. It's funny to me, with WWE you had Vince being a very controlling owner. Now add Stephanie and HHH to that list, but still a very small group. It appears, I could be wrong, after Ted Turner bought WCW from Crockett. There were many people in control, while no one really was. I think many of the corporate people in charge of WCW, had no desire to be in charge of a wrestling company, while Eric quickly moved up the ranks in WCW back office very quickly and was given free reign bookingwise, but at the same time with such a large company (their roster was huge) the inner workings of the office was horrible. I believe Eric admitted this on Steve Austin's podcast. Of course you have the Hogan friendship with Eric thus the dominance of Hogan at the top for as long as he was. Seems Nash developed the same friendship with Hogan. Thus the Fingerpoke of Doom. When you get down to it, there is really no surprise this company failed like it did.
    As one who has worked in a fair amount of large offices/ companies, at the end of the day Vince's way of running a company (especially in a business like pro-wrestling) is much better (as long as they do just enough to keep fans/patrons) than what WCW ended up being after Ted Turner bought it.

  6. 29k in attendance and they open with Finlay vs Scott Putski instead of...oh I dunno; Eddie vs Rey? Because WCW.

  7. Because WCW!

  8. With so many big names and obvious future stars, you would think the problem with WCW would have been too many stacked cards. Instead I think too many guys had "creative control" and just didn't want to job or at least got to lay out their matches where they always remained looking strong which gave us so many shit finishes. Idk. I just find it hard to screw up with an actual overload of talent. If you can open with Guerrero/Mysterio and close with Goldberg/Hall you obviously have a stacked roster.

  9. The Immortal Hoke OganMay 15, 2014 at 2:18 PM

    I was pretty fed up with this company once Starrcade 98 rolled around....they randomly insert Flynn/Finlay vs. Norton/Adams instead of using the Horsemen against the nWo jobbers. Then you have the Flair-Bischoff fiasco. Plus, Booker T isn't even booked despite being more over at this point than most the roster


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