/3 April 2000
AOL 66 1/2 (- 8
1/8), TWX 94 5/8 (- 10 5/16), SPLN 27
(- 8 1/4) -
Microsoft drags 'em ALL down
What it ultimately boils down to is... How will they (re)write history tonight? Does it even MATTER what they show tonight? And, tonight, will we get some insight into what is yet to come? Stick around and watch it with me...
WCW logo - will it be here next week?
The TV-14-DLS ratings box welcomes you to the Unnamed Arena, which is empty and dark. Sitting up in the catbirds are your hosts, TONY SCHIAVONE and THE OTHER GUY. No time is wasted saying "Eric Bischoff" and "Vince Russo," but tonight is about WCW Monday Nitro - and what it's meant to wrestling over the past four and a half years. No time is wasted in the kissing of Eric Bischoff's ass and I'm ALREADY starting to think that maybe I should have enlisted a guest host this week. Let's see if it gets better...
We actually start pre-Nitro, with highlights of the Bash at the Beach '94 press conference, featuring Ted Turner, Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair. Hey, WCW Commissioner Nick Bockwinkle!
This leads into a Special Video Look at Hulk Hogan - he's American made! Thunder in Paradise! The ticker tape parade that signaled that WCW would forever change...the endless loop of that one guitar riff from "American Made..." Match clips from Hogan and Vader, Arn, Gang, Meng, Flair, Sullivan, Giant, and it goes ON and ON. Shaq! George Foreman! Mr. T! Sugar Ray Leonard! Baywatch! The American flag! The largest arms in the world! Is THIS your idea of holding onto viewers? (5:00)
Our hosts jump to the debut of Monday Nitro - Eric Bischoff's VISION. "WWF" and "RAW" are said many times. Some more kissing of the ass...
Hey, old Nitro logo to bump us out of this first segment!
"Ready to Rumble" ad - it occurs to me that, watching these ads, you really don't get much idea what the movie's about
The ORIGINAL Nitro opening credits - THAT takes me back. Check out that clip of Vader that was hastily removed when the man kinda got fired for fighting with Orndorff! ERIC BISCHOFF and STEVE McMICHAEL welcome us to the Mall of America in Minneapolis, MN LIVE 4.9.95. It only takes McMichael all of eight seconds to earn him the wrath and scorn of rec.sport.pro-wrestling as one of the worst colour men EVER.
Tony talks about his nervous first night producing Nitro - three hours of walking around the Mall of America, a trip to PastaMania, and a sarcastic take on the first opening shot - featuring escalators and elevators.
From the first Nitro - clips of FLYIN' BRIAN v. JUSHIN "THUNDER" LIGER, the very first
match on Nitro. Commentary by Bischoff, Heenan &
McMichael. Mongo's job is to attempt to insult Bobby, but really end up
looking like a total dweeb in the process. Bischoff actually CALLS
PLAY-BY-PLAY and spends hardly ANY time pimping an upcoming pay-per-view
(although he DOES sneak in hype for the upcoming matches "tonight"). We
see about 2:40
of this match.
The hosts talk about Lex Luger's surprise appearance on the first Nitro - a symbol of Bischoff's desire to show that this was going to be a #1 show - a #1 company. Going back and reading Herb Kunze's TidBits at the time, it's funny to see him refer to Luger's signing as a "rare guaranteed contract..." Of course, we all know how "rare" that became over the years...
Here's a Special Video Look at Nitro: Episode One - complete with yet another look at those opening credits, a quick look at Liger's entrance, Flyin' Brian's entrance, clips of the match we've just seen (oops, somebody forgot to coordinate between editing teams, methinks), hey, Pillman won in THIS version as well! Sting and Flair, Lex Luger's surprise appearance (and don't get me wrong - it WAS a HUGE coup to put Nitro on the map.), Arn Anderson appearing and furthering his issues with Flair to cause the DQ, Hulk Hogan's entrance against Big Bubba - you know, it's INCREDIBLY unfair of me to even be THINKING this way, much less share it with you, but watching this package, I can't help but think of "WrestleMania All Day Long." It's just LIKE WCW to have the bad timing to end up looking like a "copycat" 24 hours after a WWF presentation, isn't it? Boss Man slam, Hogan kicks out. Punch, no, punch, no, block, right, right, off the ropes, big boot, legdrop, yeeeeeee-ha. Go figure, this clip is also exactly (5:00)
Hosts talk about Eric Bischoff's seeking of reaction after the first show - everybody was excited.
As we go to break, TONY SCHIAVONE and THELIVINGLEGEND welcome us to the expanded, two hour Nitro - Memorial Day 1996. Something else happened that night...maybe after this break you'll find out what it was.
Aww, man, they're SKIPPING over the Ye-teh, aren't they.
"Ready to Rumble"/1-800-CAL-LATT cross-promotion
This "Ready to Rumble" ad actually revolves around wrestling
Promotional consideration paid for by Slim Jim (no Savage), Lean Pockets from Hot Pockets, GEICO auto insurance, GEICO auto insurance again, and Croissant Pockets from Hot Pockets!
Eric Bischoff took WCW and "made it cool," we learn, in that first year of Nitro.
Once again we go to the Memorial Day 1996
Nitro - American Males vs.
Arn Anderson & Ric Flair (with Liz & Woman) - make fun of Bagwell's
haircut! (The unnamed) Scott Hall makes HIS appearance! Battlebowl winner
Diamond Dallas Page vs. Craig "the Pitbull!" Pittman! In the second half,
Giant defeated Shark (check out Tenta's WACKY beard!), Lex Luger defeated
Maxx to retain his television title, and in the main event, Sting and Scott
Steiner wrestled (but they don't give us the finish). Finally, Scott Hall
made another appearance at the broadcast position to talk to Bischoff &
Heenan. "You want a war - you got one? And like it or not...we...are
taking over." (3:00)
The thing that made Nitro great, we are told, was each week you'd tune in and see something you'd never seen before. F'rinstance, the success of lighter-weight guys...
Here's a Special Video Look at the Cruiserweight divison - check out Benoit, Malenko, Jericho, Guerrero, Dragon, Liger, Wright, Mysterio, Mr. JL (!), Psychosis, Guerrera, hey is that Miguelito Perez? (3:00)
"...RAW was still in another league, and we all knew we needed that one thing to get us over the hump...to break us out..." Hmm, maybe after the break we'll get that interview...
WCW is LIVE Saturday in Chattanooga, Sunday in Huntsville, next Monday in Denver for Nitro, and tix on sale Friday for Slamboree in Kansas City, and St. Louis for Nitro!
Close captioning where available brought you by America (ha!) Online!
Diamond Dallas Page has made a career out of making people feel the bang - if YOU don't have the training, please leave the Diamond Cutters to the pros.
Tony Schiavone tells us how it felt sitting at the table when Scott Hall made his first appearance on Nitro.
Here's a Special Video Look at Hall and Nash making their first impressions. Check out Nash's natural hair colour! The infamous powerbomb through the stage from the Great American Bash '96 isn't technically a Nitro moment, and neither is Hogan's turn
on Savage and post-match
promo setting up the NWO...but why quibble? (3:00)
"Three events that we all remember - Eric had a plan to put these things in place to put WCW on top" - this led to increased use of WCW's backstage camera...
Hall and Nash take baseball bats to Bagwell and Anderson - then waffle Riggs - and the infamous "lawn dart" Mysterio shot. (1:20)
More NWO fun coming up after the break - and I bet more Bischoff stroking, oh yes...
Promotional consideration paid for by America (ha!) Online, Targon smokers' mouthwash, the Super Soaker CPS 2500 & 3000 (yay! It's SUPER SOAKER SEASON!), Lean Pockets from Hot Pockets (again), and that kid who sees dead people
The TV-14-DLS ratings box reappears as we see Roddy Piper's outing of Eric Bischoff as the NWO ringleader, followed by some more NWO clips - oh boy! "NWO Late Night!" Syxx, Rodman, Wallstreet, Rude, Konnan - oh man, the "NWO Nitro" episode - I personally think that was the LOWEST point for WCW and the first sign that it wouldn't - it *couldn't* go on forever. Let's relive Bischoff firing Randy Anderson and keeping him fired, stripping the Steiners of the tag team titles and giving them back to the Outsiders - the cameo by Dr. Harvey Shiller and suspension of Bischoff - and some more clips from the "Souled Out" "state of the NWO" address. (5:00)
Tony remarks on Eric Bischoff's "transformation" from visionary to vilified leader of the NWO. This segues into another transformation...that of Sting.
Here's a Special Video Look at Sting - that one vulture clip there is actually from the Clash of the Champions, but why quibble? Rafter rappels ARE included,
fake Stings, of course. Ha ha, lookit that bird!
Michael Buffer says it's time to get ready to rumble - when we come back, the 100th episode of Nitro!
"Ready to Rumble" ad
"Ready to Rumble"/1-800-CAL-LATT ad
Jimmy Barron's STILL a Cheap Bastard, and phones it in with 1-800-CAL-LATT. How can one man make next week's Nitro seem so unimportant? Leave it to Jimmy!
Spring Stampede is less than two weeks away! Don't let the fact that NO matches have been announced keep you from making that call!
Here's a Special Video Look at the "Big Seven" Nitro Grrls (almost all of which are no longer Nitro Grrls, by the way) - if I'm not mistaken, this is the same highlight reel that opened up the swimsuit calendar special...yep, definitely. (1:30)
"Eric Bischoff was the only man in the HISTORY of sports entertainment to beat Vince McMahon at his own game." The name of Vince McMahon is mentioned another time - brilliant. The Mark: "A lot of people out there don't think he can do it again - even WITH Vince Russo's help. I have a question to ask you about that: you sure? You sure he can't? I think he can." Christ almighty, you are SUCH a DUMB SHIT. It's not even that you're fat and ugly...which some might say you are, but resorting to personal appearance flames would obscure one from the proper focus - that you're just so STUPID. "You sure? You sure he can't?" Actually, YES. Have you ALREADY forgotten the high hopes that came with Russo coming in? Have you ALREADY forgotten the pissing away Bischoff did with the giant lead he had? HOW exactly can two negatives make a positive? "I think he can." Well of course YOU would - you've been at the desk during some of the lowest-rated Nitros OF ALL TIME - you *can't* think anything else and KEEP your spot! But to deliver that line with all that ultra-cool arrogrance and smarm - you actually *believe* people are gonna swallow that tripe, too - DON'CHA. You're a pip. A FREAKIN' peach.
The 100th episode of Nitro (4 August 1997) was a special three hour affair which saw the Giant defeat three men (Lenny Lane!), J.J. Dillon fail to get what Sting wants (from the rafters!) by offering him a contract with Curt Hennig - which Sting rips up, AND a WCW World Heavyweight Championship match between Lex Luger and Hollywood Hogan - which Luger won....so he could lose at Road Wild. Hey Giant, shine my belt! Meanwhile, Hogan threw a tantrum. (5:00)
Bischoff had "an experiment" going on at the Power Plant in this time...coming up, "the proof that Bischoff could create his own stars!"
"Ready to Rumble" ad
Sid Vicious and Sting are in two "hot, new" Superstar videos that
are neither - hey, you can also buy the Nitro Girls Swimsuit calendar
DDP "no backyard wrestling" promo again
Clip from HUGH MORRUS v. BILL GOLDBERG - why doesn't he backflip anymore? "Number one..." (1:30)
Hosts discuss Goldberg's first match in September, 1997. Back then, Tony asked himself what the deal was with the "no-name" on the format. He pretends there was a spear in the clip we just saw (oops). Both men kiss Goldberg's ass.
And now here IS a Special Video Look at GOLDBERG, complete with clips of the match we just saw, clips of his World title win, his exciting match with Sick Boy, his stunning defeat of Hammer (hey, Jimmy Jett!), one of his many lengthy entrances. They fail to play that one clip where the "Goldberg" chant tape skips, though - that was funny. Hey, the Perfumania ad with Goldberg in it! I think that "Universal Soldier" clip was the most promotion WCW ever put into that movie on this show...hmm.... (3:00)
"It was a sellout every night..." Schiavone thinks back to 1990 when they used to BEG celebrities to be seen in the crowd - but all of a sudden, EVERYBODY wanted to be on Nitro. "Sports entertainment" said a few times...ugh.
Here's a Special Video Look at the Better Days of Nitro - and crowds - they can't really use camera angles like this these days...
Coming up - Ric Flair RETURNS! Where'd he go? Well, maybe we'll rewrite THAT history...
Sting STILL carries the power of the card - bully for him
"Ready to Rumble" promo
Hosts kiss Bischoff's ass some more - is Wednesday's show gonna give tribute to Russo? The World Wrestling Federation and Vince McMahon are mentioned - oh, HERE we go - Vince McMahon let Vince Russo "take over WWF programming", introduce Crash TV, and bring the WWF back.
"Eric Bischoff Had a lot of problems to deal with during his reign at WCW." -
clips of X-rays of Hogan's leg - "Hollywood Hogan needed a break"
- clips of Bischoff taking Hogan to his surgery - "Several Wrestlers
claimed to be hurt" - clips of Bret Hart's "groin pull" - "nWo founding
member Scott Hall had his personal struggles" - clips of Scott Hall not
being drunk - "Eric Bischoff and Ric Flair problems both personally &
professionally." - hmm, that needs some punctuation, I think - clips of Arn
Anderson, Eric Bischoff, and Ric Flair talking - the fake heart attack,
Bischoff's fake apology, Flair stripping in the ring and laying out the
challenge for a match for 90 days of control, Mongo, Benoit & Malenko
meeting Bischoff on his way out of the arena, the NWO (Horace!) running in
but the Horsemen holding them off - Randy Savage's surprise return to help
Flair (in a move that was NEVER explained), Bischoff tapping out to the
figure four, and Flair celebrating. (5:00)
Tony talks about watching Bischoff and thinking "this guy's gonna crack!" The Mark kisses Russo's ass, mentioning "WWF RAW on the USA Network," then saying that "Vince Russo, even then, was definitely a fan of Eric Bischoff," even going to the effort of stealing from Bischoff and using his own ideas against him. And that was how the WWF became #1. Wow, can't argue with THAT.
Here's the (mostly Jazz-less) "new" opening credits and highlights from the 5.4.99 Nitro in Las Vegas, NV - the debut of the "star of David" WCW logo we all know and fear and a four-way title match that saw Hogan have to kick out of the jackhammer when Kevin Nash couldn't make his run-in in time. Then Sting fell from the rafters...by the way, I think that episode LOST in the ratings, too.
Hosts talk about how much Bischoff had on his plate - the tank was on empty - he was physically and emotionally spent - he had a family to think about - he HAD to step down. (Translation: he was demoted because the ratings blew chunks) Meanwhile, over in the WWF on "RAW," Vince Russo made all the magic happen ALL BY HIMSELF. He sought new challenges - and found himself running WCW's Creative department. Hmmm, we're 7/8 of the way into this show....
Jeff Jarrett T-shirt
Clips of Halloween Havoc - technically, not Nitro, but... (1:34)
Clips from the next night's Nitro spotlighting Sting's heel turn, the first time we hear the words "Powers That -- To Be" (J.J. Dillon), the announcement of a 32-man tournament, Goldberg and Sting being pulled apart, three pornstars taking on the Outsiders, spears by Goldberg, Hart and Goldberg in a title match, the interference of the Outsiders and Sid Vicious to get Bret Hart the US title - a WEAK, WEAK storyline that is apparently meant to help us realise what a GREAT writer Vince Russo is. I guess? (4:00) By the way, this episode lost in the ratings.
Tony tells us about how he felt the time the executive committee told him that Vince Russo was brought in. "We got a chance again - there's a light at the end of the tunnel!" The Mark: "It's a lot like Babe Ruth stepping aside and Mickey Mantle jumping into the lineup - and Russo came in with Crash TV - which is a series of short, sharp, fast, snappy segments - self-contained, but with a hook at the end designed to keep you watching, Tony - and there was a monstrous change in WCW TV almost overnight, but to me it really worked - to me it was really an exciting time in WCW's history." Izzat so, Brainy Smurf. If only the numbers agreed with you. And hell, Vince Russo did so well he was PULLED ASIDE in a short three months! But I'll give you this - the trainwreck that WCW had quickly devolved into sure was...."EXCITING." Of course, it didn't make a money, the numbers got lower and lower, but IT - WAS - EXCITING!
Clips from the Russo era - Jeff Jarrett makes his debut, hitting El Kabong on Buff Bagwell and proclaiming himself the Chosen One, Kimberly leaving the Nitro Grrls, Spice and Jazz concocting a feud, laughing through their fight, food fights, backstage fights, Russo's voice directing Kimberly into a fight with Asya with a bikini'd Torrie as referee, Madusa and Mona in an evening gown match (despite Madusa's protests that she's "professional"), Madusa and Asya, Madusa winning the Cruiserweight title, Midnight's debut (anybody seen her lately? Har har), Torrie in a cage and throttling Saturn (who?), more of Asya, Midnight, Torrie, Ronda Singh, Kimberly, Liz, you get the hint here? It's all women, now! Yeeha! Here's Oklahoma relinquishing the Cruiserweight title (umm, that's a Thunder highlight, but why quibble?), barbecue sauce, and NOW they're showing a lot of stuff that seems to have taken place AFTER Russo - the H bomb from the Harris Brothers, the Mamalukes' new attitude, the Artist, the Maestro, Vampiro, the Wall chokeslamming Crowbar (well, that's Uncensored, and technically not Nitro...but why quibble) (5:00)
Coming up, reaction to the announcement that Bischoff & Russo are back! The one in this bumper is Dustin Rhodes, from last week's Thunder - a show which is not Nitro...but...you know
Hey, how about one more "Ready to Rumble" ad?
How about one MORE "Ready to Rumble" ad?
And one more Spring Stampede ad. "What will the card be? Who will compete? And how will the return of Bischoff & Russo affect the event? We hope to find out in the days to come for Spring Stampede!" Boy, doesn't THAT make you want to plunk down the hard-earned ducets?
Hosts get in their last-minute asskissing. When Tony learned Bischoff would be back, he threw his arms in the air and screamed "DIRECTION! LEADERSHIP!" Uh huh.
All the weight has been taken off their
shoulders, for now - NOW it'll all turn around! TV-14-DLS ratings box
appears again. WCW has TWO of the THREE men responsible for the "big
wrestling boom of the late nineties" - of course, some would think that
boom still continues with the WWF, but not these two folks here, nope.
"We're used to dealing with hyperbole" but this is truly the biggest,
greatest news EVER in the LONG, STORIED HISTORY of sports entertainment!
Clips of the wrestlers reacting - all from Thunder last, if I recall correctly - why not play the Saturday Night ones instead? Hmm, I don't remember this Disco Inferno one... "Well I've been busting my butt here for five years and I STILL can't get any lights for my ring entrance...so unless Vince Russo and Eric Bischoff want to help in the production of the Disco Inferno's character...I just hope that they don't turn out like the previous management..." and he leans against the iron horse's ass.
Schiavone says Russo will work "24/7" - I thought he left WWF so he wouldn't have to do that? This team puts WCW in their best position ever! Once again, they float that Bischoff wants to use "established" stars and Russo wants to "create" stars. Hogan, women...each man has a different idea. "A new chapter will be written...next week...here on TNT."
We end at the traditional five after.
They're REALLY deluded.
Can there be any other conclusion?
See you in 48...