Best Of WCW Monday Nitro Vol 2 (Cert 15)
3 Discs DVD/ 2 Discs Blu-ray (Distributor: Fremantle Media) Running Time: 406 minutes approx.
Seeing as there is first “Best of” release, does that make this one “second best”? Anyway, our eminent host Diamond Dallas Page (to be known henceforth as DDP) is keen to point out in his opening monologue that it was due to overwhelming support of WCW fans that a second compilation of matches and angles from Monday Nitro was warranted. Can’t imagine that was much of an easy pill for Vince to swallow – having a non-WWE related title outsell the regular WWE releases. But the fans have been rewarded (or the cash cow is being milked again, take your pick) and here is another look back at the wrestling show that derailed the WWF for almost two years.
As per the first release this is largely a collection of matches from the high profile to the less remembered to showcase exactly what it was that knocked WWF RAW off the top of the ratings mountain in the mid 1990’s for eighty-three consecutive weeks, forcing Vince McMahon to rethink his business strategy and programming philosophy which lead to the infamous Attitude Era and a genuine ratings war. With many of the big matches and angles already covered in volume one it may seem like there is little left to show that is of any significance but in actual fact there are some little gems in this set.
The set opens with Sting vs Ric Flair from the very first Nitro which is pretty much every Sting vs Flair match you’ve ever seen condensed into five minutes with Sting going for the most Press Slams in one match record. After Arn Anderson runs in during this match as a babyface we follow this with a match where he is not only a heel challenging Hulk Hogan for the WCW World Title but is back with Flair! There is a pretty sweet match between Dean Malenko vs Jushin Thunder Liger to satiate us “pure” wrestling fans although this is spoiled by the constant cutaways to Ric Flair having a ringside dinner with Miss Elizabeth and Woman! That and focusing all the commentary on Hogan, this is another reason why al the money in the world didn’t make WCW a fun place for some wrestlers to work.
Another hidden gem is a cracking match between Eddie Guerrero vs Rey Mysterio Jr (before Vince’s hatred for generational suffixes kicked in) from December 1998 that serves us of a great reminder of what both men were capable of, save for the hideous finish. There’s a fun Lucha Libre six man and, from the early days of Nitro, a great, hard hitting collision between the Steiner Brothers and the Road Warriors in a match to see who could sell the least. For history buffs, the very first match to feature Goldberg against Hugh Morrus that kicked off his 173 match winning streak and his US title win against Raven just a few months later. Oh and remember that classic match Bret Hart vs Roddy Piper IC title match at Wrestlemania 8? There is a US title match between the two here which will make you cry to think that there was just six years difference between the two matches.
Otherwise the matches presented here are mostly an advert for the nWo in its various incarnations so if you are a Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Giant (now Big Show), Randy Savage fan then this is the set for you as they are all over it. Since it was the nWo that effectively “made” Nitro this isn’t much of a surprise but since they dominated the first volume, you’d think a bit of room could be put aside for some of the other stars of the day. That said, it is interesting to see the likes of Big Show, Chris Jericho, Rey Mysterio Jr and Eddie Guerrero in their younger days, while it’s sad to think that fifteen plus years later the likes of Hogan and Flair are still hobbling out there thinking they can still go (although Sting still can).
Of the big angles the shocking moment when Madusa unceremoniously dumped the WWF Women’s Title belt in a rubbish bin is here in its entirety along with the formation of the nWo Wolfpac. We are also treated to a quick look at some of the supplementary aspects that made Nitro a hit, such as the Nitro Girls, Nitro parties, the various celebrities on hand and the Spring Break concept. This actually ties in with one of the more unintentionally hilarious moments in Nitro history, which can be found in the Blu-ray extras: A match at the Spring Break venue – where the ring was on a huge platform in the middle of a giant swimming pool – between Sting & Lex Luger vs Hollywood Hogan & Randy Savage took place at the height of Sting’s Crow persona where he would repel down from the arena ceiling. As an open air venue there is no ceiling so they had Sting be lowered down from a helicopter in what was a cool visual. Except that the gusts of air from the helicopter were blowing everything about – the ring apron, the mats at ringside, the banners, the signs, the crew, basically anything that wasn’t nailed down! Pure Spinal Tap!
It has to be said that some of the more entertaining moments come during DDP’s introductions where he relates some interesting stories from behind the scenes back in the day. One segment in particular is rather poignant as DDP tears up when remembering the late great Randy Savage.
Putting aside whether this really does represent “the Best” of Nitro, this is a great companion piece to the first volume, filing in some of the gaps it left. The only issue would be that they could have explored more of the non-nWo material but overall this is a tidy set of “classic” modern era wrestling action from a sadly self destructive but much missed company.
English subtitles for the hard of hearing
Disc 3 Only:
Rey Mysterio & Lord Steven Regal vs Eddie Guerrero & Dean Malenko – November 3rd 1997
WCW US Title Match – Sting (c) vs Bret “Hitman” Hart – October 5th 1998
WCW World Title Match – Hulk Hogan (c) vs Lex Luger – September 11th 1995
Ric Flair vs Brian Pillman – September 18th 1995
Mr. JL vs nWo Sting – 21st October 1996
Sting & Lex Luger vs Hollywood Hulk Hogan & Macho Man Randy Savage – March 16th 1998
Steel Cage Match – Diamond Dallas Page vs Macho Man Randy Savage – June 15th 1998
WCW World Title Match – Goldberg (c) vs Sting – September 14th 1998
Rating – ****
Man In Black