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READER ALERT: For all the latest wrestling happenings, check out our News & Rumours section.

Nitro holds court at the Palace


By CHRIS SCHRAMM -- For SLAM! Wrestling

Lex Luger walked into the Palace of Auburn Hills in suburban Detroit for Monday Nitro. He walked out a World champion.

That was in August of 1997, the last time Nitro came to Auburn Hills. This time it was Jeff Jarrett's turn to try to repeat. He failed.

Excitement, signs, craziness and fun filled a Monday Nitro that was seen by 15,000 in attendance and millions around the world. It is about the experience of a live event. Fans new or old had to enjoy it.

"Seeing the action in person and television are so different," said spectator Marwan Freij of Detroit. "You get a rush like no other when your favorite wrestler comes to the ring because you get to see that superhero on television come to life."

Minutes before the event Bobby Heenan and Tony Schiavone take their place. The countdown is made by announcer David Penzer, and Bret Hart's music played to the roar of the crowd. It was time for the show to start.

BOOM! Fireworks, fire, sparks and other amusement park light acts are all part of a Monday night event. The sound live rips threw your heart. It does not matter if you expect it or not. The sound is so deafening that you have to flinch.

The Five Man Electrical Band sang about "Signs," but they never saw a live wrestling event. "Bring Back Outback Jack," "Hey, Hacksaw, flush!," and "Where's Mean Gene?" were among the signs seen throughout the crowd. The biggest sign that even got a crowd reaction was Jeff Jarrett's "Slapnutz" written on a giant banner for all to see.

Chants are a big part of a live event. "Goldberg" was without a doubt the loudest of the night. Chants for Bret Hart and Torrie Wilson also got the crowd going. People in the crowd also like to yell their own chants. Some yell "take it off" to every girl who comes down the aisle while one guy seemed to want one guy in every match to have his "back broken."

Those buying tickets always wonder if they will get to see and hear what is going on backstage. WCW supplies two screens by the entrance for the crowd to watch backstage events. The Palace itself holds four giant color televisions as well so no matter where you sat you could see and hear what happened backstage. The only problems were chants for Goldberg while shots of Goldberg were being shown, and chants of "Hoooooo" for "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan.

Fans in the crowd have eyes that fans at home do not see. Fans get to see Jeff Jarrett sneaking through the crowd with his guitar while basically untouched because those on the floor are watching Hart and the Outsiders verbally confront each other. The crowd gets to see the wrestlers helped out by the referee after losing a match. Live fans see what happened after the show goes off the air.

One thing fans live miss is the announcing. Things are not explained. Why is the Revolution burning the American flag? Why is Maestro there? What matches are coming up? Were these explained? Those in the crowd wonder.

The commercial breaks are the time to get a snack at home. At Nitro, it is time for DJ Ran to play his stuff. He plays popular songs, but he oddly plays two ECW theme songs. "Walk" is Rob Van Dam's theme, and "Enter Sandman" is Sandman's theme. Many fans recognized this and did the Bill Alfonzo pantomime that goes with "Walk."

Fans live at Auburn Hills get to see Grant Hill, NBA star, walk in for one match and leave the next. He was not announced to the live crowd, but those there could see him. David Penzer announced if any people were fans of Detroit Pistons when he was sitting down. The crowd concluded it was Hill at that moment.

The Auburn Hills crowd was calm throughout the night. Only Bret Hart to start off the show, Roddy Piper and Bill Goldberg and Sid Vicious teaming brought a majority to their feet.

The end was basically the end. Television cut off with the Outsiders battling Goldberg and Vicious in the ring. When security came the ring, the sides separated and went on their way. The people rushed to their cars to try to beat the rush.

The show was over. The night was over.

Last time the WCW entered the Palace of Auburn Hills records were made. At the time the largest crowd of 20,000 saw the first three hours became the first Monday night wrestling show to grab a 5.0 or higher in the Neilsen ratings.

No records will be made this time, but the excitement will always be the same record or no record.


Nitro - November 22, 1999

Nick Tylwalk's Monday Night Nitro Report

  • Time for another Nitro, the show that says to the WWF, "Give us your Dustin Rhodes, your Steve Williams, your huddled Disciples of Apocalypse yearning to breathe free." The scene has shifted from Toronto for last night's Mayhem PPV a little south to The Palace just outside Detroit.
  • Jeff Jarrett wanders the hallways trying to convince himself that he is still the Chosen One. New World Champ Bret Hart comes out and dedicates his win to his father, Stu. Hart offers Goldberg a title shot at Starrcade, but the Wolfpac music hits and The Outsiders appear on the stage. After poking fun at Hart's shirt, they challenge Hart and Goldberg to a tag team match, which Hart accepts. Jarrett sneaks into the ring and lays Hart out with a guitar shot. He finally gets slapnuts by the censors, then runs off with the world title.
  • Mike Tenay kicks off what's sure to be another busy night by talking to Curt Hennig, who has a little farewell tour planned for tonight. The Maestro plays a little piano in the background. Meanwhile, Tony Marinara has indeed brought his boys to break Disco's thumbs, and The Total Package asks The Powers That Be to help him book Meng versus... Elizabeth?
  • Match 1 - Creative Control vs. The Filthy Animals - Tag Team Title Match
    Gerald and Pat mop the ring with Kidman until Konnan tags in on fire. Kidman sees Eddie Guerrero making time with Torrie on the video screen and runs off. Left to fend for himself, K-Dogg is pinned in short order. Kidman bursts into a room backstage and beats on Eddie until security intervenes.
  • Hart tells Tenay he's ready to face all challenges to his belt, including Jarrett and The Outsiders. Goldberg tells Hart to concentrate on Jarrett while he takes on Hall and Nash - but it won't necessarily be a handicap match.
  • The new Nitro Girl tries unsuccessfully to talk Spice out of fighting Tygress. In the locker room, Hennig hugs Buff Bagwell and tells him there are no hard feelings from last night.
  • Master of disguise Norman Smiley comes out dressed as Detroit Lions quarterback Charlie Batch. He lays out a challenge to anyone in the back for his hardcore belt. Fit Finlay runs out and answers the call by beating Smiley for several minutes.
  • The Package tells Liz she'll learn a lesson tonight. The Outsiders tell Tenay once again that they're not scared of Goldberg because they're getting the band back together.
  • Chavo Guerrero Jr. works on pawning some jewelry off on Marinara's goons. Tenay interviews Jarrett, whose messiah complex is still in high gear.
  • Match 2 - Evan Karagias vs. Perry Saturn
    Saturn reads my mind when he breaks up the liplock between Karagias and Madusa. Brad Armstrong, who seems to be getting hair styling tips from one of his more famous brothers, joins the announcers in his new persona of Buzzkill. Saturn wins with the Rings of Saturn and has to help Karagias separate Madusa and Asya after the match.
  • Kidman's pretty mad at Eddie and wants him in the ring. Sigh... and Torrie seemed like such a nice girl too. The Maestro is really going nuts in the background.
  • Match 3 - Vampiro vs. The Wall
    Oklahoma and Dr. Death are at it again, busily trying to beat the JR parody completely into the ground. The Misfits try to help Vampy but are easily repulsed. The ref DQs The Wall when Berlyn scores with a chair shot. Berlyn and The Wall have words until the big bodyguard chases Berlyn to the back. Dr. Death trashes the helpless Misfits; Vampiro kicks Williams, who has to be restrained by Oklahoma.
  • In a move not seen since I last hit the dating scene, Liz locks herself in a shark cage to avoid fighting Meng. A limo pulls up to the arena - who could be inside?
  • Match 4 - Jeff Jarrett vs. Bret Hart - World Title Match
    Hart is all over Jarrett early. JJ rallies on the outside and scores a few two counts. The Hitman escapes a sleeper and the two men exchange moves and near-falls. Hart dodges a dropkick and goes for a Sharpshooter but Jarrett kicks him off. Dustin Rhodes clocks Jarrett with the title belt while Hart is recuperating on the floor, and while Creative Control chases Rhodes away The Hitman covers Jarrett for the pin.
  • The Maestro takes a request from Marinara's boys to play New York, New York. The Package acts like he's apologizing to Liz but he's really not. And the person in the limo is taking their own sweet time getting out.
  • Liz, now without a key to the cage since The Package weaseled it away from her, asks Sting for help. The Stinger politely refuses.
  • Match 5 - Kidman vs. Eddie Guerrero
    Kidman flies over the top rope right after the opening bell and is in control until he gets a head to the groin. The Revolution ambushes Konnan on the outside; Kidman goes up top for the Shooting Star Press. When Torrie tries to talk him out of it, Eddie climbs up and superplexes him, then follows with a Frog Splash to win the match.
  • TPTB want Creative Control to bring them Hacksaw Jim Duggan and find out who's in the limo. Jarrett storms into the office in a foul mood. Elsewhere, The Package has a forklift and Skye tries one last time to talk Spice out of her upcoming match.
  • Match 6 - Meng vs. Elizabeth
    As he promised, Ex-Lex gets a forklift operator to bring Liz's cage to the ring. Meng pounds away at the cage, then slaps the Tongan Death Grip on The Package when he tries to offer the key. Meng tears through the cage but Sting hits the ring and smashes the monster with his trusty bat. The shark cage becomes the first character on the show not to get any mic time, presumably because it isn't that great at cutting promos.
  • Hacksaw and The Maestro play a lovely duet version of chopsticks.
  • Match 7 - Lash LeRoux vs. Disco Inferno
    As JR would say, Disco is fighting for his life. Marinara and his boys watch as LeRoux wins with the Whiplash. The goons stomp away at Disco and ready a body bag, but Lash returns to the ring wielding a steel chair. They trash Marinara and make a narrow escape.
  • Creative Control investigates the limo while their boss has some bad news for Duggan: he's back on latrine duty, and Russo's been eating prunes all week.
  • Match 8 - Spice vs. Tygress
    It's kind of a match anyway. Tygress uses what appears to be a drop toehold; Spice responds with what could almost be a clothesline. Spice gets whacked in the eye and the match is stopped. Skye comes out and swerves Spice by nailing her with a makeup bag. Tygress and Skye steal a page from the old nWo playbook by writing on Spice's face.
  • Meng, yes Meng, tells Tenay he wants Sting in a no-DQ match. Hennig cuts the world's shortest promo by thanking the fans; Duggan gets back at TPTB by cleaning the toilet with Russo's own toothbrush. And to paraphrase Keyshawn Johnson, just show us who's in the damn limo!
  • Turns out the limo passenger is Roddy Piper. He is busy ranting against TPTB when his mic is cut off. Tony Schiavone tells Piper TPTB told the producers to cut his mic, which leads to Piper rampaging back to the office of TPTB. Piper runs down Russo for ruining wrestling but the boss has a surprise for the Rowdy Scot: he has to be a lowly referee or he'll be sued for breach of contract.
  • Match 9 - Buff Bagwell vs. Booker T
    Booker has the upper hand when he's distracted by Creative Control. Buff hits the Blockbuster, then CC attacks both men. Hennig runs in and appears to help the wrestlers, but he turns around and delivers the Hennigplex to Buff. CC turn their attention back to Booker, who is once again bailed out by Midnight.
  • TPTB welcome Curt Hennig to WCW's version of The Corporation. Creative Control heads off to find Juventud Guerrera.
  • Tenay is busy interviewing Sting when Liz sidles up and offers The Stinger her services as manager. Sting's swerve alarm tells him to say no.
  • Match 10 - Madusa vs. Asya
    It's best that I don't say much about this. Asya wins with a headscissors submission.
  • In an interview sure to endear him to many SLAM! readers, Dean Malenko goes off on an anti-Canada rant with Tenay. The SLAM! editorial staff goes to DEFCON 2 when Malenko threatens to burn the Canadian flag. (Editor's Note: Come up here and try that, Malenko. You Vanilla Midget, you!)
  • Match 11 - Dean Malenko vs. Chris Benoit - International Flag Match
    Is the goal to capture your flag or the other guy's flag? Even Schiavone doesn't seem to know. After several minutes of action, Malenko drop toeholds Benoit into the bottom rope and retrieves the Canadian flag. The ref calls for the bell, so that must be the right flag. The Revolution assembles and is ready to burn both flags. They would get away with it if it wasn't for that meddling Hitman.
  • TPTB claim Juvi's visa is expired. Guerrera tries to bribe Russo with some tequila but the writer doesn't like it. As simple as comedy A-B-C, Russo asks Creative Control to fetch his toothbrush.
  • Match 12 - Meng vs. Sting
    Meng sets out destroying Sting right from the opening bell. Liz tries to mace Meng but is stopped by Sting. Meng falls victim to two Stinger Splashes; The Package tries to interfere but Sting drops him. Meng takes advantage of the distraction by locking on the Tongan Death Grip and that's all she wrote. Don't tell Jarrett, but maybe Meng is the Chosen One.
  • David Flair proves he still has some sanity left by abruptly ending The Maestro's recital with his crowbar.
  • Main Event - The Outsiders vs. Goldberg and ?
    If you said "?" is Sid Vicious, you made the right call. Goldberg gets in trouble and can't get to Sid. He bails himself out with a flying clothesline to both Outsiders and finally tags in Vicious. Sid chokeslams Hall, then Goldberg spears Hall, then Sid power bombs Hall. Big Sexy drops an elbow on Vicious to break up the pin and amazingly, it's enough for Hall to roll Sid over and get the three count. Security storms the ring to keep the four combatants apart as the show goes off the air.