Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Best of WCW Monday Nitro - Volume 2

Ask almost any wrestling fan and they would likely say the "Monday Night Wars" between WWE's RAW and WCW's Nitro from 1995-2001 were a great time for the business, and when the recall button on their television remote became their best friend. WWE did a (mostly) commendable job of reminding us of the good of the Nitro days with a solid collection of matches and moments, with a host that actually gave a damn in Diamond Dallas Page to help introduce various segments. DDP returns to hosting with the sequel put out by WWE, The Best of Monday Nitro Volume 2 (trailer). Unlike the Ultimate Goldberg Collection, where you had very little to no set up or narration, it helps exponentially when you have a host like DDP who is obviously tied to the product being a former main player during Nitro's run and has many tales to entertain you and help set the table for the upcoming segment. Make sure to pay attention to his touching tribute to the "Macho Man" Randy Savage when he shares a great Thanksgiving memory he has of the king of madness.

I lost track of how many people told me they stopped watching wrestling shortly after WCW Monday Nitro went off the air in 2001, even by that point the show and WCW itself was severely lagging behind the then-WWF for two years. Point being the competition brought out the best in WWE. I was a WWE fan first and foremost and always put RAW first, even when Nitro was killing it in the ratings from mid-1996 to early-1998. However, when Nitro expanded in time and its first hour ran unopposed to RAW that was always when I tuned in, mostly because that first hour primarily featured a lot of WCW's unmatched high flying cruiserweights and undervalued midcard talent. It comes as no surprise that shortly after WCW went away and when WWE started to rest on its laurels, and also after an awful WCW-invasion storyline, that the WWE lost a sizeable chunk of its audience that never came back.

This home release follows the same format as the first volume, as the assorted matches and moments are categorized chronologically, with DDP stepping in every few scenes with a WCW memory of his own to introduce the next segment. Just like last time, most of this installment's content is from the 90s, with only a handful of moments and matches on the collection once Vince Russo took over booking in late 1999. Actually, Vince Russo is nowhere to be found on the disc, which is probably for the best. Also, I would recommend the BluRay release, as it has nearly two hours of extras, bringing a grand total of eight and a half hours of content.

I am not going to march match by match what is on here, but there is a lot of good to great matches and moments, just understand unfortunately since WCW was giving away a lot of marquee matches on television, that usually came at a price with guaranteed outside interference or other types of tomfoolery for a not-so-fan-favorite finish. However, I will try to quickly mention a noteworthy segment or two for each year featured in this collection. Off the first Nitro, there is a match that also happened to be the final match on the last Nitro with a pre-Crow Sting against Ric Flair. 1995 also saw the infamous moment when WWF Women's Champ, Alundra Blayze returned to WCW as Madusa again and threw the title in the trash on live television.

I forgot when watching the first year's worth of Nitro segments that former Four Horsemen, Steve "Mongo" McMichaels was one of the announcers and how terrible he was before he switched to becoming an active wrestler. I have no idea why, but for a couple of segments he is shown holding a pet Chihuahua. The best Mongo announcer moment is during the Sting/Flair match when Lex Luger showed up in the middle of it making his surprise WCW return and then announcing colleague, Eric Bischoff demanded to know why he was there, and being that the first Nitro took place in the Mall of America, Mongo nonchalantly justified him being there for stopping in to grab a bite at the latest hot restaurant chain, Hulk Hogan's Pastamania.

I hope you like the nWo theme and entrance, because it is featured in nearly every match once they emerge about a year into the Nitro run. It did bring back memories of high school when the nWo shirt was ubiquitous and how damn cool of an entrance the nWo had. There were a few interesting montages featured throughout the collection of something that made Nitro stand apart from RAW was that every episode seemed like a party. Whether it be between the Nitro girls dancing away, DJ Ran all up in your area, the featured fan Nitro party of the week to the annual spring break out tour that featured Nitro in a college town hotbed with a ring surrounded by swimming pools, this all combined to make WCW seem a pretty happening product to be a fan of.

Goldberg's debut match is on here as he makes Hugh Morrus #1 of his legendary undefeated streak. Another borrowed match from the Ultimate Golderg Collection is his US Title win against Raven that I was really fond of, and the spot where the "fans" throw Raven back to ringside when he tries to escape still has me popping. I forgot how much I loved Public Enemy in WCW and singing along to their catchy entrance theme, and they actually have quite a fun hardcore brawl with the Steiners. There are a couple of good cruiserweight bouts, but no real standouts from the handful included other than a 6 man tag, and an interesting back and forth bout between Dean Malenko and Jushin Thunder Liger.

Some matches should not have been included, like a match up between Roddy Piper and Bret Hart with Mad TV sensation Will Sasso playing a vital role in the match. I got a kick out of Kanyon being a surprise last second entrant in a tag match, only to be instantly annihilated and disposed of in a candidate for worst hot tag moment ever. There is an unfortunate way past their prime World Title contest between the Hulkster and Macho Man in 1999, which mostly consists of them primarily trading punches and kicks and is many leagues under their Wrestlemania V classic. There are several tag matches with many different incarnations of the nWo, but since the nWo was constantly switching members and once the Wolfpac split happened, it made it a bit confusing to keep track of in the grand scheme of things. Our only match featured from the year 2000 has Sting taking on the one and only Vamprio in a House of Fun match, and well, you are just going to have to buy this to see for yourself why the match got its name.

The collection wraps up with Booker T taking on Scott Steiner for the World Title on the final Nitro in 2001. The BluRay extras actually have a couple pretty solid matches that unfortunately have cruddy interference finishing sequences. First Goldberg and Sting have a surprisingly good match with far better chemistry than I remember between them, and there is actually a really good tag match with the oddball tag team of Ric Flair and Goldberg against Hogan and Nash. Remember the loveable Ralphus? Remember how much fun Perry Saturn had donning drag? Remember Buff Bagwell shilling yogurt at ringside? Well, you are granted this amazing hat trick as Chris Jericho takes on Big Poppa Pump from an early 1999 encounter.

If WWE does do another Nitro collection, I would like to see just a few more of those awful era 2000 and beyond matches, or at least some more montages and interviews acknowledging it. I still would like DDP hosting, but maybe occasionally have another former WCW star guest host with him to have a good back and forth reminiscing session to mix it up a bit. If you were like me and have many great memories channel flipping during the Monday Night Wars, then it is well worth going out of your way to relive a lot of those moments with The Best of Monday Nitro Volume 2. Not every moment or match featured on here is a winner, but the good outweighs the bad, and now some of those not so great moments are a little funny to relive in hindsight.

Past Wrestling Blogs

For All Mankind
Goldberg Ultimate Collection
Legends of Mid South Wrestling
RoH Supercard of Honor V
RoH Supercard of Honor VI
Warrior Week on WWE Network
WWE Wrestlemania 28
WWE Wrestlemania 29

No comments:

Post a Comment