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From The Bowery: WCW Monday Nitro: March 26, 2001

October 16, 2008 | Posted by Robert Leighty Jr.
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From The Bowery: WCW Monday Nitro: March 26, 2001  

WCW Monday Nitro
-March 26, 2001
-Panama City Beach, Fl

-Nitro debuted on Sept 4, 1995 (Labor Day) from the Mall of America in Minnesota. A lot of wrestling experts feared this would divide the audience of Monday Nights and spell disaster for WCW. Instead this bold move by Eric Bischoff helped usher in the most successful period of growth for WCW, and eventually for the WWF as Vince McMahon finally had some competition pushing (and for a while crushing) him. Unfortunately, WCW did what WCW usually does and that’s completely fall apart. This is the final episode of Nitro as it was billed as a Night of Champions. Just days before a deal between WCW and Bischoff had fallen through, so Vince McMahon swooped in and bought his competition. Even as WCW was bleeding money, and getting pounded in the ratings, I never thought the day would come where Nitro would open with….

-Vince McMahon, standing in front of a RAW is War backstage set, gets a boner by bragging about how he has bought his competition. The fate of WCW rests in his hands, and he promises to tell us all in a simulcast.

-The opening package shows that quite a few of the guys did get a shot in the WWE. Really, only Jarrett didn’t get a chance, and that prompted him to start his own show.

-Tony Schiavone and Scott Hudson welcome us to Panama City Beach, Fl as Spring Break rolls though Florida. Schiavone looks sick to his stomach, and Hudson just looks confused.

-Ric Flair walks to the ring as Hudson and Schiavone put over the fact that nobody represents WCW more than Flair. See, I would think it would be Sting, just for the fact that he never jumped ship, or was forced to jump ship like Flair did in 91. Great interview from Flair as he buries Vince McMahon and challenges his greatest opponent, Sting, to one final match. This interview becomes all the greater after reading Flair’s book, and he admits that he was happy to see WCW get sold to Vince. This just shows how Flair could even sell something he didn’t truly believe. He did admit he was worried about friends who wouldn’t have a job anymore. Nice sign from the crowd: Vince is Satan. I love how Flair asks when was Vince there bleeding, sweating, and paying the price. Truth is Vince has probably bled more than over half his roster.

Title vs. Title: Scott Steiner (WCW Champ) vs. Booker T (US Champ)

-Steiner’s monster heel run as WCW Champion was actually pretty strong as he went over everyone, and had WCW continued operating it would have been a good moment when a face eventually ended his reign on PPV. Steiner won the World Title from Booker T at Mayhem back in November. The crowd is pretty fired up for this match as the 2 men lock-up. Booker ducks a clothesline and hits a sidekick for a 2 count. Steiner gains the advantage and hammers away in the corner. A blind charge from Steiner catches an elbow, and another 2 count. Booker pounds away with the 10 count punches in the corner, but Steiner counter to a powerbomb for a 2 count. The action spills to the floor, and Steiner tries to kill Booker with his lead pipe, but misses. Back inside and Steiner drops the elbow, and does his trademark push-ups. It was funny in his WWF (re)debut against HHH, when Steiner was so gassed he couldn’t get through the push-ups. Hudson mentions that these 2 men have 31 title reigns total between them. That’s pretty damn impressive for 2 guys that started in the tag ranks. A drop kick from Booker evens things up, and he follows that with The Ghetto Blaster (ax kick). Huge pop for the spin-a-roney, and a Harlem Sidekick follows. Steiner reverses the Bookend to a northern lights suplex for 2. Steiner goes for another powerbomb, but Booker flips out and nails the Bookend for the pin and World Title.

Winner and New WCW World Champion: Booker T via Bookend for the pin at 5:08
-Very short match, but it had a great pace, and some good action crammed into the short time. Credit to Steiner for going out there and doing the J-O-B, and putting Booker over in such a strong manner. I’m sure there were no guarantees to Steiner, but as a true pro he did his job. **1/4

-Vince McMahon is his office on RAW makes fun of Nitro and Panama City Beach. Way to bury the company you just purchased Vince.

The Young Dragons vs. 3 Count vs. Rey Misterio and Billy Kidman

-The winners get a cruiserweight tag title match later against Romeo and Skipper. The CW Tag titles were a neat idea and actually introduced a young AJ Styles as part of a team called Air Raid, but introducing new titles in the company’s dying days didn’t really help things. Still, we got a pretty awesome match at Greed between Misterio/Kidman and Romeo/Skipper to crown the 1st set of champions. This match here is balls to the wall action as they through as much as they can in a short amount of time. Seriously, this is just spot after spot after spot as the crowd pops for everything. Misterio does a somerset plance to the floor, and then each man tries to outdo Misterio. Kidman succeeds with the Shooting Star Press to the floor to take out everyone. Back inside Yang drops Misterio on the turnbuckle and heads to the top rope to hit Yang Time for a 2 count. Tags apparently don’t mean anything in this match as everyone seems to be legal. Reverse neckbreaker for Karagias and he hits a sick 450 from the top rope on Kaz. Kidman breaks up the count, and Rey attempts the Bronco Buster, but takes one in the nuts. Rey hits a springboard guillotine legdrop on Moore to get the pin.

Rey via guillotine legdrop on Moore for the pin at 3:38
-As stated before this was nothing but action for a little over 3 minutes. They knew they had a short time, and made sure to hit their signature spots. It made for a very exciting, and entertaining exhibition, but never really got on track as an actual match. **1/4

-Back to Vince who is celebrating with Trish Stratus. The two make out in a rather pointless segment.

-Hi-lights of the CW match between Chavo and Sugar Shane Helms are show from Sin.

WCW Cruiserweight Title: “Sugar” Shane Helms © vs. Chavo Guerrero

-Helms actually got over very well in WCW by having kick ass matches, and using the Vertebreaker as his finisher. Chavo had found himself in WCW and was carrying a lot of CW to very good matches during his reign as champion. Shane catches Chavo with a neckbreaker, but then gets caught with a clothesline to the floor. A belly-to-belly keeps Chavo in control as Schiavone puts over the youth of WCW. A sunset flip from the top rope gets 2 for Shane. Chavo cuts off the comeback with a stiff clothesline. Shane blocks a suplex and gets a 2 count off a top rope crossbody. Chavo goes Human Suplex machine and drops Shane with a T-Bone suplex. Nice reversal sequence leads to a northern lights suplex from Chavo for 2. Shane fires back with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Shane nails the Sugar Smack (sweet chin music) and finishes with Vertebreaker. That move is quite nasty, and it saddens me that the WWE wouldn’t let Gregory Helms use it. I mean, I can understand why they wouldn’t because of health reasons, but still.

Shane Helms via Vertebreaker for the pin @ 4:37
-This was given a little more time than the previous match and the results were a little better. I like how every match has had a fast pace, and it looks like everyone is doing their best to show off for the WWE. Helms was becoming a breakout star for WCW, and Chavo was getting quite awesome. It’s a shame the company folded before either man could reach their full potential. **1/2

-Booker gives a good, emotional, interview as he celebrates with both titles. He also hints that he is not done yet. His “Don’t hate the player, hate the game” catchphrase always had me wanting a HHH vs. Booker T match. Too bad HHH buried him at WM XIX and then again at SummerSlam 2007.

-Back to Vince and Trish as Cole wonders about the future of WCW. Vince threatens to fire Cole.

-Tony and Scott wonder about their futures. As well they should.

WCW Tag Titles: Team Canada vs. Palumbo and O’Haire

-All 4 of these men took a buy-out and became part of the new WWF run WCW. Storm was given an immediate push to the moon when he jumped to WCW. Awesome was give the Fat Chick Thriller gimmick, but started to recover some when he was put with Storm in Team Canada. Palumbo still holds a job in the WWE (as of this writing) and O’Haire could have been a huge star, but he apparently couldn’t cut a live promo to save his life if you ask some, or was buried with Piper if you ask others. It’s funny that Palumbo and O’Haire were originally with different partners, but WCW opted to drop the dead weight from each team, and put the two of them together. Storm and O’Haire start and Storm gets pounded by O’Haire. Palumbo tags in and catches Storm, but the heels gain the advantage. Awesome tags in and leaps to the top rope to deliver a back elbow in a nice spot. Back in comes Storm and he lights up Palumbo with some chops. A blind charge misses, and a roll-up gets 2 for Storm. Both men make a tag and O’Haire shows great power by manhandling Awesome. All 4 men brawl, and it ends with a super kick from Storm to Palumbo. Awesome tries an Awesome bomb, but Palumbo slides out and hits his own super kick. O’Haire finishes with a Sean-ton bomb to successfully defend the tag straps. The crowd was really digging O’Haire and Palumbo at this point (mostly O’Haire).

O’Haire pins Awesome w/ Sean-ton bomb @ 3:16
-Another criminally short match, but again it was exciting and featured all 4 men doing whatever they could to somehow stand out to the new bosses. All 4 would get there shot, and Storm seemed to get the most out of it. **

-A review of the Stasiak/Bigelow feud. If Stasiak loses he has to get a tattoo. The best part about Stasiak at this point was that he had Stacy Keibler with him. Good Lord I forget how incredibly hot she was in her Miss Hancock days.

Tattoo Match: BamBam Bigelow vs. Shawn Stasiak

-I guess they had to promised what was advertised from the Week before, but this match really has no place on a card being advertised as “The Night of Champions.” Still, it did get a dancing Stacy Keibler on my screen. So, it has that going for it. Stasiak jumps the bell, but gets dominated early by Bigelow. Bigelow hits a slam, and heads up top to drop the headbutt. Stacy distracts the ref (can’t blame him), and then keeps Bigelow from hitting Greetings from Asbury Park. Stasiak it’s the hangman’s noose (Rude Awakening) for the pin.

Stasiak via hangman’s noose for pin @ 1:26
-Well, can’t say they didn’t pay off what they promised the week before. Easily, the weakest match of the show, and the only real blemish on the night. Stasiak also went to the WWE during the Invasion, but was nothing more than a comedy figure. His biggest claim to fame was running into things backstage. 1/2*

-We quickly cut to William Regal hyping WM X-7 to Vince McMahon. Regal then buries WCW. Again, lets just bury the company we just purchased and want to make as an alternative.

-DDP gives an interview as he promises bigger and better things. He could have been used a lot better in WCW. The stalking Undertaker’s wife angle had promise and was a good way to debut DDP, but Taker had no intentions of doing anything but burying DDP. Even Taker’s wife got to pin DDP in the middle of the ring.

-A great video package is shown of all the former NWA/WCW World Champions. Very nicely done, and I wonder if any of the WWF production people helped with this. WCW was fine, but the WWF was in a class of their own when dealing with video packages.

-Once again we head to Vince as he lets us know it is just about that time.

WCW Cruiserweight Tag Titles: Elix Skipper and Kid Romeo © vs. Rey Misterio and Billy Kidman

-Kid Romeo kind of disappeared and really didn’t amount to much, but Skipper got a fresh start in TNA and had a great run as part of XXX. The AMW vs. XXX Six Sides of Steel cage match is either #1 or #2 on my list of Favorite TNA Matches. This would be the final times these titles would see the light of day (unless you count their brief appearance on Misterio’s 619 DVD where he tells the story of how he got to keep the title since the company was going out of business). Schiavone starts to shoot on “Steve Regal” as you can tell he is starting to get a little irritated and emotional. “We have had to do some crazy things, Steve Regal, include put your ass over on tv.” Awesome! I like bitter Tony. Rey and Kidman take the early advantage by double teaming Romeo. Elix turns the tide with a belly-to-belly suplex and an assisted senton bomb follows. Romeo tosses Kidman across the ring as the fans begin to cheer. Romeo misses from the top, and Kidman struggles to his corner to make the hot tag. Rey hits a springboard Thesz press, and nails Romeo with a tornado DDT. Rey takes Romeo outside with a rana, and that leaves Elix alone with the faces. Kidman baseball slides Elix in the nuts and Rey follows with the bronco-buster. Romeo drops Kidman with an x-factor, but Rey breaks the pin. A swandive headbutt from Rey gets a pin, but Elix makes the save. A Straightjacket suplex from Elix gets a cover, but Kidman breaks the count. Elix tries to hit the play of the day, but Kidman reverses to the Un-prettier for the win and the titles.

Winner and New CW Tag Champions: Billy Kidman and Rey Misterio Jr.(Kidman via Un-prettier for the pin at 4:46)
-This match had more structure and kept the insane pace as the previous CW tag match, and that equals a better match. Kidman and Rey each had various levels of success in the WWE, while the heels never got a shot. Elix probably could have done ok as a lower level guy in the WWF, but he did well for himself in TNA. Match itself was the best so far. **3/4

-Sting accepts the challenge of Flair and tells us all that it’s show time.

-It’s Vince and he’s WALKING!

Ric Flair vs. Sting

-Seriously, no other match could close out WCW. Hudson talks about how Sting never jumped, and was WCW to the bone. Tony brings the history as he recalls Sting winning the title for the first time against Flair at the 1990 Great American Bash, and he also brings up the famous draw at Clash I. Hudson rubs it in that the match went head to head with WrestleMania IV. Damn, they even bring up their history with the Horsemen kicking Sting out of the group. Flair brings the chops, and Sting no-sells to pop the crowd. Sting nails a dropkick and Flair bails to the floor. Flair is wearing a Nitro shirt as he says in his book he was embarrassed by his physique at this point. Sting and Flair are having a blast out there at this point. Gorilla Press Slam and Flair begs off like only he can. Sting mounts the corner and hits the ten punches. Flair does the Flair flop and Schiavone marks out. The Dirtiest Player in the Game delivers a ball shot to turn the momentum. Flair breaks out the chops again, and this time Sting doesn’t no sell. Flair drops a knee and gives us the Flair strut. Flair goes to the top and naturally gets tossed off by Sting. Flair avoids a dropkick and locks in the Figure 4. Some high quality cheating as Flair grabs the ropes for added advantage. Sting starts to fire up and turns the hold over, but Flair quickly breaks. More chops, and that just serves to piss Sting off at this point. An whip to the corner, but Flair can’t flip over the buckle. Sting adjusts nicely by hitting a superplex, and then locks in the Scorpion Death Lock. Flair quickly gives it up.

Sting via Scorpion for submission @ 7:06
-This match was a lot of fun, and while neither guy was in prime shape they were having a blast. Again, this was the perfect way to end Nitro. I still wait for the day that Sting takes a deal with Vince. I don’t need him to wrestle, but I want him to get the DVD treatment and a Hall of Fame induction. ***

-The 2 men embrace after the match in the perfect ending to Nitro. Sadly, things are cut off….

-The simulcast begins as Vince jumps the gun on RAW and has Lilian introduce him again. Vince says he has yet to sign the contract, but he will when Ted Turner himself walks the contract down to WrestleMania. I’m sure that thought of that very moment have gotten Vince more excited than his wife ever could. Vince takes full credit for winning the war, and says he was able to beat a billionaire by becoming one himself. More time is wasted as Vince continues to bury the company he just bought. The topic switches to his match with Shane at WM X-7. He threatens to choke the life out of Shane like he did WCW. Now we get the best part of the promo as Vince asks the fans what WCW Stars they want in the New WCW:

-Hulk Hogan: Decent pop from the crowd, but some boos also (of course he did return and got treated better than any of the younger WCW guys)

-Lex Luger: Booed out of the building, and didn’t get another shot.

-Buff Bagwell: Lots of screams from the women probably got him a job. A horrible in ring performance on RAW with Booker T got him fired pretty quickly.

-Booker T: Good response, and after several years was finally given a World Title run.

-Big Poppa Pump: Massive response from the crowd. He would stay at home and get paid before coming to the WWE.

Vince seems to be done, but in an awesome moment a Goldberg chant breaks out and Vince opts to name a few more.

-Sting: Sure, they crowd will take him. True to his guns Sting has never made the jump.

-Goldberg: The crowd goes absolutely insane, and Vince should have done all that he could to get Goldberg to sign and built towards Austin vs. Goldberg at SummerSlam that year. I’m sure Goldberg was happy staying at home collecting his money, but the buyrate from that match alone would have been enough to justify an insane salary from Goldberg.

Vince finishes by firing everyone associated with WCW and claiming WCW will stay buried. Shane’s music hits, and to the shock of everyone he appears live in Panama City Beach at Nitro. This was absolutely insane at the time, and I was jumping around my house like a kid. The audio is a little screwed up on the TNT part of the simulcast as Shane’s words come across a few seconds before his lips move. Shane says that a McMahon’s name is on the contract, but it is Shane McMahon on the contract. The crowd pops huge as Shane claims WCW will kick Vince’s ass again. Seriously, how the hell did they screw this up so badly? Well, besides Vince’s stubbornness and ego getting in the way.

-Well, that’s how the final Nitro ends. We don’t get a video package to close the show, or even final words from Scott and Tony. Instead we get JR hyping Rock/Austin vs. Taker/Kane and then a commercial for WM X-7.

The 411: This was a very fun show featuring all the young guys busting their asses to get a job with the WWE. All the faces went over (sans the Tattoo match), and the final match will be the last time you will see Flair vs Sting (unless TNA has signed Flair by the time this posts). It was a historic night, and a sad night for WCW fans. All these years later it becomes more depressing when you realize that Vince needed WCW more than even he thought. Thumbs up for this show though, and I'd say it's required viewing for any wrestling fan based on history alone.
Final Score:  8.0   [ Very Good ]  legend

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Robert Leighty Jr.

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