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Nitro compelling once again
By NICK TYLWALK -- For SLAM! Wrestling
The wait is over.
Kidman is bad!
Bischoff drove the Hummer.
Not that it was a long wait, mind you. It was, after all,
just two weeks ago when the official word came down that
Eric Bischoff and Vince Russo would be working together as
the new WCW creative team. With 14 days to prepare and
rumors running rampant, all signs indicated that the
seemingly odd couple had plans to shake things up in a big
Give them an 'A' for effort. In front of an enthusiastic
crowd at Denver's Pepsi Center, Bischoff and Russo
presented a fast-paced show that featured a new set, the
simultaneous stripping of all title belts and Russo's
on-camera debut -- something he stated in the past he would
not do. Delivering on their promises to confront the
competition, the creative team and the talent made
references to the WWF on numerous occasions.
As was widely speculated throughout the wrestling world,
Nitro saw the beginning of a feud between established
stars and the younger grapplers. But there's a catch: at
least at the outset, it appears youth will be served by
playing the heels. And it wasn't only obvious candidates
like Billy Kidman, Buff Bagwell and Vampiro attacking Hulk
Hogan, Ric Flair and company, but a few men who haven't
been seen in WCW in quite some time -- if at all.
One possible drawback: to understand what was going on,
viewers had to have their history books handy. Tony
Schiavone, Mark Madden and Scott Hudson did their best to
provide the backstory, but the plot unfolding in WCW makes
references to angles and feuds spanning all three major
federations and at least ten years. If anything, Bischoff
and Russo may have opened the "How smart is too smart?"
can of worms even wider.
Reaction to the "new Nitro" will almost certainly be
mixed, but one point will be hard to argue. For at least
one night, Nitro was compelling sports entertainment once
- I feel like a great weight is about to be lifted from my
shoulders. After slogging my way through report after
report during Nitro's most apathetic period ever, the
eagerly anticipated April 10 show from Denver is about to
begin. Eric... Vince... do your thing.
- Several changes are readily apparent. The new set shows
definite TitanTron influence, while the new pyro has some
attitude leanings as well. We're also back to three
announcers, with Scott Hudson joining S & M: Tony
Schiavone and Mark Madden.
- At least 50 wrestlers and valets are in and around the
ring, mostly of the jobber variety. A few more
recognizable faces come down the ramp: Vampiro, The Wall,
Big Poppa Pump, etc. Jeff Jarrett comes out last and takes
the stick. Jarrett happily announces the return of Eric
Bischoff and Vince Russo and tells the old booking team
(now watching at home) that what comes around, goes
around. Russo's entrance music (that's not a typo) hits
and he comes to the ring. The former WWF writer toots his
own horn concerning the competition's success and lashes
out at the "old boys network" that doomed him in his first
WCW stint. But wait, whose music is that?
- It seems Eric's got his own music too, and he makes his
way to the already crowded ring. The moment of tension
between Vince and Eric is broken when Bischoff cracks a
smile and gives Russo a hug. Looks like those two softies
have more in common than we thought. Easy E says he's made
a lot of mistakes, specifically Kevin Nash, Scott Hall,
Sting, DDP and Sid Vicious. Naturally his biggest mistake
was Hulk Hogan. Ah, but the veterans were watching the
rant backstage, and soon DDP, Sid, Sting and the Total
Package come to the top of the ramp. Bischoff says the new
state of the union is a level playing field, and Page is
cut off harshly when he tries to air the minority
response. Russo takes the mic to call Flair a piece of
crap and declare that all WCW titles are hereby stripped.
Jarrett reluctantly parts with his US title, and soon
Russo has all the belts except the world title around
Sid's waist. Bischoff goes up the ramp, looks Vicious in
the eye and threatens unemployment if the world belt isn't
handed over. Sid eventually gives it up and a smug
Bischoff tells us we'll see a new world champ crowned at
Spring Stampede. In the back, Hogan is on his way in.
- Sting tells Hogan about Bischoff and the impending power
play. Hulk tells the Stinger he'll handle it.
- Match 1 - DDP vs. The Total Package
This is the first match in a mini-tournament - which also
involves Sting and Sid - to determine who will wrestle
Jarrett for the world title on Sunday. As proof that they
are in control, Bischoff and Russo cut both men's music
halfway through and give them no pyro. Package dominates
the match until Buff Bagwell's music hits and the stuff
struts to the ring. Buff has a word with Kimberly then
steals a kiss from Kimberly. A distracted Package falls
victim to a Diamond Cutter and that's all she wrote.
- Hogan can't find Bischoff backstage, but Curt Hennig
does find Russo. Hennig thinks he deserves a title shot
after he was right-hand man to the Powers That Be. Booking
on the fly, Russo tells Hennig that if he can beat Jarrett
tonight he'll take the Chosen One's place at Spring
- Tank Abbott grabs the mic to announce that he's a
dancer, not a stripper. Actually, he says he's a
shootfighter, not a wrestler. Couldn't agree more. Tank
says the only reason he came to WCW was to fight Bill
Goldberg and implies that the timing of Goldberg's injury
was no coincedence. Abbott decides he will hurt innocent
people until Goldie returns, and for his first target he
selects... Mark Madden. Abbott tears Madden's shirt off
and beats him mercilessly until security is sickened
enough by the sight of the shirtless announcer to
- Jarrett doesn't want to wrestle tonight, but Russo tries
to soothe his fears. After all, who does he look like, JJ
- Torrie tries to warn Kidman of something but Billy
apparently has something he has to do. Meanwhile, Terry
Taylor tells Hogan where to find Bischoff, and a closed
door meeting ensues.
- Kidman heads to the ring to cry about how he and the
other New Blood have been held down by egomaniacs like
Hogan. Billy says he has two things that Hulk will never
have -- heart and talent -- and calls Hogan out. Who the
hell does Kidman think he is? Hogan tells Billy he gives
the other young guys a bad name and starts to talk about
Torrie. Bad move. Kidman beats Hogan and rolls him out of
the ring. Sadly, Kidman misses a move off the apron and
Hogan gets some payback. Bischoff comes out with a chair
to add to the fun. But it's swerve city: Easy E hits Hogan
with the chair instead, Hogan blades and Bischoff makes a
mock three count for Kidman's pin.
- Flair arrives and can't believe the tape he watches of
the first segment. The Nature Boy hits the ring to cut a
promo stating that he got great, not old. Flair calls out
Russo but Big Poppa Pump comes out instead. Steiner
accuses Flair of having his old friends pull strings for
him, and BPP is well into a Flair parody when Shane
Douglas comes out of the crowd to lay the old man out.
- Kevin Nash crutches his way into the arena. And is that
Bret Hart sitting quietly in the crowd?
- Yep, that's the Hitman alright. Backstage Flair is
hunting for Douglas, but the Franchise is with Mean Gene.
Okerlund tries to take Douglas to task, but he fires back
with a promo running down Flair and telling Gene to kiss
- Match 2 - Sting vs. Sid Vicious. A back and forth opening sees Sting fall in love with the
Stinger Splash and Vicious get a near-fall with a cobra
clutch slam. Sting fights back and both men are felled by
a double clothesline. The Wall comes down the ramp and
sets a table up at ringside. The ref gets knocked out, Sid
delivers a power bomb and The Wall drops Vicious with a
chair shot. Wall chokeslams Sid through the table, leaving
the revived ref to count Sid out.
- Flair is back in the ring calling for Douglas. It looks
like the Nature Boy versus the Franchise tonight.
- Hulk does a pretty mean imitation of his green-skinned
namesake while continuing his incoherent backstage
rampage. But come on -- does he really have to toss 3 Count
around like that?
- Match 3 - Jeff Jarrett vs. Curt Hennig. The action starts in the aisle, then Hennig beats Jarrett
on the announce table. JJ clamps on the sleeper in the
middle of the ring but Hennig escapes with a
belly-to-back. Hennig's old music hits to announce the
arrival of the artist formerly known as Meat, Sean
Stasiak. The youngster mocks Hennig's smacking the gum
thing and makes his move when a back elbow catches the
ref. Stasiak nearly drops Hennig but recovers to hit a
variation of Kurt Angle's finisher. Jarrett polishes
Hennig off with The Stroke.
- Hogan searches through the Pepsi Center's skyboxes for
Bischoff. Nash is on his cell-phone -- could it be Hall on
the other end? And Sting tells Mean Gene about what real
- Match 4 - Ric Flair vs. Shane Douglas. No wrestling tights, strictly street clothes. Schiavone
says Flair would not wrestle Douglas during Russo's first
term, but the Nature Boy is landing most of the offense
here. Russo comes out with a baseball bat and smacks
Flair, then gives the bat to the Franchise for his turn at
the plate. Douglas goes to town and Russo claims Flair's
watch as a souveneir.
- The familiar Wolfpac music plays and Nash limps out. Big
Sexy runs through the events of the night and asks where
the hell The Dog is when you need him. Nash claims he
saved Russo from Shawn Michaels numerous times during his
days in the WWF and bailed Bischoff out during Nitro's
formative years. Enough talk. None other than ECW world
champ Mike Awesome climbs in the ring and proceeds to
break a crutch over Nash's back. Take that.
- Hogan implores his lawyer to set something up for
Kidman, but it's not a good idea to be in a limo
because... the white Hummer is back. The seemingly
forgotten piece of WCW history does a number on Hogan's
limo. Of course, Bischoff is at the wheel with Kidman
- Kidman and Bischoff taunt Hogan as he's wheeled out on a
stretcher. Kidman spray paints Hulk with a red NB for New
- Main Event - DDP vs. Sting. Jarrett generously offers to help with the commentary.
Sting fires off a facebuster and two Stinger Splashes, but
Page escapes to the ropes to avoid the Scorpion. Sting
wins an exchange of right hands; DDP gets a two count with
a belly-to-belly. Sting clotheslines Page out of the ring,
where he finds himself forced to keep Jarrett away from
Kim. Vampiro hits the ring and plants Sting with the Nail
In The Coffin. Page comes back in and ends the match with
a Diamond Cutter. Jarrett goes for a guitar shot, but DDP
ducks and the guitar crushes Kimberly instead.
- Epilogue: Bischoff, Russo and Jarrett celebrate
backstage. The creative team tells Jarrett to return to
the ring because his fans are calling. They're not, but JJ
goes back out anyway. Jarrett taunts Page and the plight
of his wife, so DDP flies back out to the ring and starts
taking Jarrett apart. Scott Steiner, Bagwell, Package,
Vampiro and the Wall all hit the ring. Sting runs down and
he's on fire, but Booker and The Cat reinforce the New
Blood and the Millionaires' Club falls to sheer weight of
numbers. Russo and Bischoff come halfway down the ramp to
survey the carnage, but someone is standing behind them:
- Whew. Once my head stops spinning I'll start to sort it
all out. With all respect to American history, this may
one day go down as the Great Compromise: the young guys
get a push, but it's a heel push, while the veterans get
to save face as faces. Of course that's only the way it
looks after one episode...