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  January 10, 1998



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Nitro just heatin' up
By BRET HART -- For the Calgary Sun
  WCW Nitro ratings have been great and there's so much action packed into two hours that there's been some talk that Nitro might expand to three hours every week.

 Wednesday, Juventud Guerrera scored a breathtaking win over Psychosis. Air Juvy earned his nickname with a half-gainer suicide dive, a DDT counter out of a power bomb, and a springboard drop kick.

 Booker T. eliminated any doubt that he should be taken seriously in the singles ranks by dominating Prince Iaukea. Booker T. showed off the many different kinds of kicks in his arsenal and beat the Islander with the Harlem Hangover.

 Yes, that was Rick Martel (ex-WWF, The Model) who made Brad Armstrong submit to a Boston crab! In his Nitro debut, Martel showed he still has the moves that made him a tag-team champion (Strike Force, with Tito Santana).

 That big man with the furry boots who beat The Barbarian was none other than John Nord, "The Berzerker" from the WWF! Sometimes Nord tags with Barry Darsow (ex-WWF, Demolition, Smash) but in this singles bout, Barbarian begged for a submission to the Nordinator, a combination Camel Clutch and surfboard.

 The Steiners, Traylor and DiBiase, didn't waste any time setting things right after their loss to the NWO's Triple Threat at Starrcade. Ray Traylor (ex-WWF, Big Bossman) and the Steiners with Ted DiBiase (ex-WWF, Million Dollar Man) defeated Scott Norton, Buff Bagwell and Konan with Vincent. Rick and Scott were about to put the Steinerdog on Konan but Scott decided to drop Konan and deliver the Steiner screwdriver, a power slam that turns into a piledriver. It was a great move but what surprised me was how Scott left Rick standing there on the top rope. I hope it isn't a sign of trouble between the Steiners.

 In his first match back from an Achilles tendon injury, Stevie Ray looked great against Bill Goldberg. The Heater delivered a powerslam and a side-kick that looked like it came from Booker T. But when the ref got distracted, Goldberg got Ray with a double-leg take down, a jackhammer, and a pin. Perry Saturn and Scotty Riggs teamed up against Edmonton's own Chris Benoit and Steve 'Mongo' McMichael. Saturn and Riggs made for an impressive new tag team, dominating McMichael with fast tags and powerful moves. But when Benoit tagged in and cleaned house, Raven's flock got into the act. Saturn hooked Benoit's leg but Chris and Mongo won by DQ.

 Last week, Chris Jericho assaulted ring announcer Dave Penzer for no good reason. This week he apologized to Penzer and said he will try to be the role model that fans had come to expect. That's fine but, then, during a match with Dallas Page, when DDP offered to shake Jericho's hand, Lionheart turned it into an armbar. DDP countered with the Diamond Cutter for the win.

 Lex Luger beat Randy Savage, plain and simple, in a beautiful small package, despite interference from Buff Bagwell and Scott Norton. It's sad to see Savage has become such a sore loser. He was anything but Macho when he went to hit Luger with a chair, after the pin. Trying to avoid one of the WCW's new fines, Bischoff stopped Savage from smashing Luger with the chair and ended up getting whacked. Total pandemonium ensued as Hogan and the rest of the NWO troops descended upon the ring. Sting ended up in a non-scheduled tag match with Luger against Hogan and Savage, which had no clear winner.

 I flew to Daytona Beach, Fla., Thursday to be on the new, weekly WCW show Thunder. Tune in to two hours of live WCW action, Thursdays at 6:05 p.m. on TBS. The big news from this week's Thunder actually goes back to the Hogan/Sting rematch on Nitro, the day after Starrcade.

 WCW ran out of TV time just as Sting retained the WCW title. What no one at home saw was that, after Nitro went off the air, an impromptu "battle royal" ensued, which pitted the WCW roster (including Yours Truly) against the NWO. The ruckus was caused by a dispute about which ref was legal to make the count.

 After reviewing the match on tape, J.J. Dillon and the WCW Executive Committee ruled there was no clear winner in the Hogan/Sting rematch and that the WCW heavyweight championship is now vacant! I feel for Sting who, after holding the title for only 10 days, was required to surrender the belt to Dillon on Thunder.

 Dillon hasn't announced if there will be a rematch or a tournament but you can bet I'm paying close attention to what might be a WCW title opportunity.

 I've signed for my first match in WCW and I'm honored that it's against 13-time WCW Champion, Ric Flair.

 I've written that the main reason I went to WCW is to go after the WCW title but I feel that facing Flair as my first opponent is a privilege. I can't think of anyone who is more synonymous with the WCW World championship than Flair.

 For years I've called myself the best there is, was, and ever will be. I've never meant that as a slight on anybody. All the top guys think they're the greatest. Ask Flair what do you think he will tell you?

 I can't help but admire a guy who has had 13 World titles. At the same time. I don't think there's any merit to comparing his championships to my five because it's like comparing apples and oranges.

 When Flair won his WCW Titles, WCW was not the No. 1 organization. He was the big fish in a smaller pond. It's a credit to WCW that they've become No. 1 and it'll be interesting to see if Flair can be the No. 1 guy in the No. 1 company.

 A lot of fans believe Flair is and always will be "the man". Flair has always said: "To be the man you have to beat the man."

 I beat Flair five years ago in Saskatoon and, at the Souled Out pay-per-view, on Jan. 24, I intend to prove I'm still the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be.

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