Best Of WCW Monday Nitro Vol 3 (Cert 15)
3 Discs DVD/ 2 Discs Blu-ray (Distributor: Fremantle Media) Running Time: 384 minutes approx.
Time to get the salt cellar out for this third compilation of matches and angles from the WCW Monday Nitro archives. It’s a little hard to take the “best of” legend seriously under the circumstances but then they aren’t exactly going to call it “The Third Best..” or “More Stuff Not Good Enough For The First Release” either.
Our congenial host is once again Diamond Dallas Page, who takes time out from his busy schedule of keeping reformed hellraisers like Jake “The Snake” Roberts and Scott Hall on the straight and narrow via his DDP Yoga rehabilitation programme. Thankfully his links are brief and infrequent so he wasn’t kept away from them long enough that they’d relapse in his absence.
As ever DDP is full hyperbole mode, selling some of the real stinkers in this set as if they were the Flair vs. Steamboat classics. For instance the opener is a Lex Luger vs. Randy Savage match from October 1995 is a sloppy brawl in which basically both guys phoning it in with about three move executed by each, failing to meet the promise of DDP’s enthusiastic intro.
This is indicative of quite a few matches featured involving the “older guys” of the roster who despite their marquee name value deliver half speed and excitement free bouts which amazingly the crowd go wild for. Yet elsewhere they confound us by having decent matches later on, as if we are watching two entirely different people, although admittedly the whole vibe and energy level increased once the nWo caught on.
Another match to receive the overkill hype treatment is a WCW Title Match pitting champion Ric Flair against Savage which DDP claimed would have had WWE fans switching over from RAW to Nitro as soon as the match was announced – as it happened RAW won the ratings war that night with a 2.9 to Nitro’s 2.7…
The nWo period gets the lion’s share of attention as you might expect, largely keeping to the main event matches that appeared on the show, so expect plenty of appearances from current persona non grata Hulk Hogan, Savage, The Giant and The Outsiders, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash. And anyone familiar or having firm memories of this period will be aware that the formula was that every match would end in DQ when the nWo would run in to save their brethren.
A great example of this comes in a tag match with Luger and DDP against The Outsiders; it’s basically 10 minutes of DDP getting worked over then getting the hot tag to Luger who hits two clotheslines before the big run-in schmooze! As well being a whole lot of nothing for the fans it also made for repetitive and unfulfilling booking that eventually saw the nWo bubble burst when this became a weekly (often nightly) occurrence, as well as regular one in this release.
One long forgotten experiment from December 1997 is recalled here in which Eric Bischoff genuinely though that Nitro could be rechristened as an nWo show, so they had the nWo B-crew of Konnan, Buff Bagwell, Rick Rude, Scott Norton and Vincent (WWF’s Virgil) bully the production crew to take down the WCW set and replace it with nWo logos and banners instead. The bored crowd in the arena watched this for 20 minutes then the show – with a bespoke new nWo intro – finally began with the whole crew coming out and Bischoff giving Hogan a verbal BJ before presenting him with custom made motor bikes!
Even though Nitro topped the ratings that week with a 3.5 to RAW’s 3.1, the audience dropped off considerably from the previous week’s 4.1 rating, losing approximately 750,000 plus viewers, which benefited RAW as it scored a 2.7 the previous week! As a result the nWo Nitro idea was dropped and never heard of again. Until now.
While this is an nWo and old timers heavy collection we are thankfully treated to some long forgotten and overlooked gems from the talented undercard of WCW, the unsung heroes who carried the workload for the lazy main eventers. Worth looking out for are a TV title match between Johnny B. Badd vs. Eddie Guerrero, Eddie & Chris Jericho vs. Dean Malenko & Chavo Guerrero Jr, Jericho vs Juventud Guerrera and Juvi vs. Kidman.
While it is widely accepted that Bret “Hitman” Hart’s run in WCW was a disaster, he did have a few good matches which have been forgotten, the only one to receive any recognition was the classic Owen tribute match against Chris Benoit from late 1999. However there are two surprisingly good bouts here that we can now reappraise thanks to this release – a match against booker T (which DDP boasts is a wrestling clinic – not quite but still good) and a WCW World Title defence against a heel Sting (remember that?) from 1999 which was superior to their PPV bout at Halloween Havoc 1998.
One interesting inclusion in the Blu-ray only extras is the one and only match between Hogan and Bret from 1998 which should have been a huge PPV bout but was given away on free TV and turned out to be a huge swerve/angle anyway! For historical purposes this should have been on the main set list but at least we (or some of us) get to see it again here.
This is probably the strongest selling point for these Nitro releases in that for some it is a trip down memory lane which is rarely taken while for others, a lot of the content will be first time views. The fact WCW matches are rarely seen, as opposed to the widely exploited WWE library, they feel extraordinarily fresh and exciting.
The “Best” label may be a poetic convenience and the scope for choosing top quality material is narrowing slightly, but this is another fascinating and welcome treasure trove of forgotten wrestling from the hottest period the business has ever known.
Nitro – October 13th 1997 – WCW World Tag Title Match – Scott Hall & Syxx (c) vs. Steiner Brothers
Nitro – January 5th 1998 – Ric Flair confronts Bret Hart
Nitro – July 6th 1998 – Kanyon vs. Raven
Nitro – August 10th 1998 – WCW US Title Match – Bret “Hitman” Hart (c) vs. Lex Luger
Nitro – September 28th 1998 – Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. Hollywood Hulk Hogan
Nitro – October 5th 1998 – nWo Wolfpac Flips nWo Hollywood’s Limo
Nitro – May 8th 2000 – WCW World Heavyweight Title Match – Jeff Jarrett (c) vs. Sting
Nitro – June 26th 2000 – WCW World Heavyweight Title Four Corners Match – Jeff Jarrett (c) vs. Goldberg vs. Kevin Nash vs. Scott Steiner
Rating – ****
Man In Black