Sunday, November 13, 2016

Best of WCW Monday Nitro Volume 3

Last year WWE released what I presume will be the final collection of WCW’s Monday Night offerings with The Best of WCW Monday Nitro Vol. 3 (trailer). Former WCW star and yoga sensei Diamond Dallas Page did such a bang-up job hosting the last two collections that he returns here to host the third installment. DDP is an awesome host as he usually has a few behind-the-scenes stories about one of the wrestlers in the match he is about to introduce. I have the BluRay of Vol. 3, and just like the Vol 2 BluRay, it collects seven hours of matches, promos and other segments playing out chronologically throughout the entire 1995-2001 run of Nitro. Just like Vol 2, there is an an exclusive eighth hour of material just for the BluRay. Including the BluRay exclusives, there are 38, yes 38 matches on this BluRay. On top of that there are around a dozen other special promo segments interspersed throughout the matches.

For fans who did not grow up in the ‘Monday Night Wars’ the key thing to remember is that RAW and Nitro would give away main events worthy of headlining PPVs on TV every week, but to make up for it most of those televised matches would usually have some kind of wonky interference or lame DQ finish to the match. The reason for this was so the promotion would have the true match to end a feud at the ever-important monthly PPV fans had to pay around $40 a month for. Every great now and again the promotion would throw us a bone and give us an incredible televised PPV-caliber matchup with a ‘clean’ finish, and that ratio of quality is about what you get on this collection. For every five matches that have some serious star power involved, expect only one to have a finish without any interference.

Like my entry for Vol 2, I will not recap every single one of the 38 matches here, but will point out an assortment of highlights throughout the collection. I completely forgot Marc Mero, AKA Johnny B. Badd in WCW competed on Nitro in its first year before he went to WWE, and you can witness him and Eddie Guerrero put on a good high-flying matchup for the TV title. There is a World Title change on here from early ’96 in a match between Randy Savage and Ric Flair when those two played hot potato with the World Title during that time.

Vol. 3 has an extraordinary amount of Rick Steiner material on here. Most of it consists of him running in for interference, but there are a few Steiner tag matches on here and there is also the very short match of the Dogface Gremlin taking on Sting in December 1996. That bout is noteworthy because it will go down as the only time Sting wrestles in 15 months when he debuted the ‘Crow’ version of Sting after Fall Brawl ’96 until he won the title from Hogan at Starrcade ’97. Shortly after this match in the collection is Chris Jericho with his very first Cruiserweight title defense against Juventud Gurrera. According to the announcers this is just the second time we witness him using his new finishing move, the Liontamer, better known as the Walls of Jericho today.

We have proof that Stevie Richards was in WCW for a cup of coffee in 1997, as he appears here for a very short match against DDP. An extended clip of when the nWo takes over Nitro plays and it just goes on forever as they redecorate the announce booth. There are also many matches from 1996-1999 that feature a ton of interference from the nWo, so you have that to look forward to. Worth pointing out is about half of the entrance music WWE no longer holds the rights to so we get noticeably inferior music dubbed over instead (or in some cases some wrestler’s WWE themes get dubbed over their WCW music), but for what it is worth there is actually a pretty decent instrumental cover version of “Voodoo Child” for “Hollywood” Hogan.

Remember the Flock? Remember good ‘ol Reese? I hope you do not, but we are ‘treated’ to one of his debut appearances as he helps fellow flock member Billy Kidman get a victory. There are a lot of nWo interview clips from the summer of ’98 when the group split up into nWo Hollywood and nWo Wolfpac. Still all these years later it just did not seem right to see Lex Luger and Sting donning the nWo colors after fighting them off for two years, even if they were part of the ‘good’ version of the nWo. There is a really good segment included here where Hogan and Bishoff call out DDP & Karl Malone which turns into a awesome encounter with a hot crowd to really emphasize the impact, and then DDP and Malone cut a righteous promo of their own too. This segment is easily one of the hidden gems of Vol. 3 not to overlook.

There is a surprising amount of Bret Hart matches on here considering he wrestled for WCW for only two years. There are really good clean matches on here with him squaring off against Booker T and Lex Luger. There are also a few matches on here where Bret faces the likes of Sting, Jeff Jarrett and Hulk Hogan that start off surprisingly good (yes, even the Hogan match!) but have rather awful finishes (especially the Hogan match, I am not even going to attempt to explain it). We get a surprise Sandman cameo from his short run in WCW where he competed as Hardcore Hak on this collection against Rick Steiner. It seemed only fitting that of all three Nitro collections the only one that has Hak in a match is a hardcore match that trails off backstage and he gets tossed off to the side and forgotten so Sting and Rick Steiner can brawl for a bit to build up their feud instead.

There is a bizarre tornado tag match from early 2000 I must recommend. An inside joke a couple of my friends and I have always had is our tongue-in-cheek love for WWE relaunch of ECW, with us especially loving the ‘Gulf of Mexico Match’ between Chavo Guerrero and CM Punk. Turns out WCW had a prototype Gulf of Mexico Match with Sting & Vampiro against Lex Luger & Ric Flair. It will probably be first and last time I see a match end with a piledriver in the water. It is a hilariously dumb match all Gulf of Mexico enthusiasts should watch! The last match on the main feature is a really good tag bout between Booker T and DDP against an all-evil Steiner Brothers.

Noteworthy from the BluRay extras are the aforementioned Bret Hart matches against Lex Luger and Hulk Hogan. There is also a really good interview with Ric Flair calling out Bret Hart to set up Bret’s first real feud in WCW in early ’98. There is a world title match between Jeff Jarrett and Sting that has an awful finish, and then it is immediately followed up with a blink-and-you-will-miss-it clip of a Goldberg monster truck for no apparent reason.

That wraps it up for The Best of WCW Monday Nitro Vol. 3. As mentioned above there is a ton of matches that have finishes that leave you cringing, but there are also a fair amount that have good action throughout and mostly clean finishes. It was also entertaining to see this volume have special cameos from guys I forgot about from WCW history like Johnny B. Badd, Reese, Hak and Stevie Richards. You get a pretty good mix of action from each year of WCW history, so there is a solid amount of high-flying cruiserweight action, a ton of nWo run-ins, a good dose of action from past their prime, but could still go hall-of-famers like Bret Hart, Ric Flair, Hogan, Savage and Sting and a lot of garbage 1999-2000 booking from Vince Russo that put the final nail in WCW’s coffin. A watched this in a few hour and a half to two hour sessions and usually by the end of each session I was starting to get good vibes of the Monday Night War all over again. With that said, if you want to relive this era of WCW and do not have the time to devoure every episode of Nitro on the WWE Network, then you cannot go wrong with this latest collection of Nitro history.

Past Wrestling Blogs

Best of WCW Monday Nitro Volume 2
Biggest Knuckleheads
Bobby The Brain Heenan
Daniel Bryan: Just Say Yes Yes Yes
Dusty Rhodes WWE Network Specials
ECW Unreleased: Vol 1
ECW Unreleased: Vol 2
ECW Unreleased: Vol 3
For All Mankind
Goldberg: The Ultimate Collection
Its Good to Be the King: The Jerry Lawler Story
Ladies and Gentlemen My Name is Paul Heyman
Legends of Mid South Wrestling
Macho Man: The Randy Savage Story
Memphis Heat
OMG Vol 2: Top 50 Incidents in WCW History
RoH Supercard of Honor V
RoH Supercard of Honor VI
RoH Supercard of Honor VII
RoH Supercard of Honor VIII
RoH Supercard of Honor IX
RoH Supercard of Honor X
ScoobyDoo Wrestlemania Mystery
Sting: Into the Light
Superstar Collection: Zach Ryder
Top 50 Superstars of All Time
Tough Enough: Million Dollar Season
True Giants
Warrior Week on WWE Network
Wrestlemania 3: Championship Edition
Wrestlemania 28
Wrestlemania 29
Wrestlemania 30
Wrestlemania 31
The Wrestler (2008)
Wrestling Road Diaries Too
Wrestlings Greatest Factions
WWE Network Original Specials First Half 2015
WWE Network Original Specials Second Half 2015
WWE Network Original Specials First Half 2016

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