The first match of the night is the British Bulldog VS Marty Jannetty. They have a decent back-and-forth, but I just have no vested interest in this or any other match on the program. Raw doesn’t really do a good job making me care from week to week. There’s just no plot!
Cut to a video of Bill Clinton informing us that he’ll be at Survivors Series. As it turns out, this is just an impersonator, but he sure fooled me. After all, I don’t think it’s such a stretch to imagine Bill at a wrestling event.
Next up is Henry O. Godwin in a squash match against a young Terry Richards, better known today as Rhino. Henry’s opponent next week is Hunter Hearst Helmsley, who shows up tonight and pedigrees Henry outside the ring. This is about as much story as Raw thinks we can handle.
We then take a break from the action while Barry Didinsky tries to sell pogs to us. We can buy a thousand for $21!
Finally the night ends with a tag team match featuring former enemies turned friends Bret Hart & Hakushi against Jerry Lawler and the King of Crowns Isaac Yankem. I think I’m starting to understand why I prefer Nitro over Raw. Many of the wrestlers on Raw are like cartoon characters come to life. And while Nitro does have its fair share of these types of characters, they also just have normal guys who are good wrestlers.
Although that being said, the first match for Nitro is The Giant VS a GI Joe action figure come to life named Cobra. Right out of the gate, the Giant hits a massive chokeslam and Cobra jobs out in record time. It’s also worth noting that Jimmy Hart is managing the Giant now and he looks like the Devil.
We then get a vignette of Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage sitting on the boardwalk in Venice Beach. They’re both wearing black and Hogan says they’re working together “on the dark side”, which doesn’t really make sense because they’re both still good guys fighting bad guys. I guess they wanted the edginess without any of the commitment.
After this, Jimmy Hart comes back to the ring, this time accompanying the Taskmaster Kevin Sullivan. I believe this is the first time we actually get to see the Taskmaster wrestle. He’s up against the Renegade, who seems like a rip-off of the Ultimate Warrior, which is why I’m surprised when Kevin Sullivan wins. Afterwards, Jimmy Hart throws a cup of beer in the Renegade’s face and uses a towel to wipe away all his face paint to add insult to injury.
Next we’re treated to the single requisite cruiserweight match, this time between Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit. All I have to say is good lord, Benoit works freaking STIFF. Eddie manages to walk away with the pinfall victory, but Benoit’s foot was clearly outside of the ropes, unnoticed by the ref. Benoit is livid, so hopefully this is enough of a reason to get them back in the ring together because they are gold.
Afterwards is Sting VS Ric Flair in their first match since Flair betrayed the Stinger at Halloween Havoc. Flair ends up tapping to the Scorpion Deathlock, but Sting refuses to release the hold even after the bell rings. JL, Eddie Guerrero, and many other wrestlers run down to the ring to try to convince him to let go, but to no effect. Finally Lex Luger comes down, whispers a few words to him, and gets Sting to drop Flair. As they walk back to the locker room together, we have to wonder what the implication of that is. After all, isn’t Lex a bad guy?
The night ends with Jimmy Hart’s third appearance during an interview in the ring alongside the Giant. He brags about altering the contract before Halloween Havoc that allowed the Giant to win the belt even by disqualification. However, a lawyer representing WCW Commissioner Nick Bockwinkel comes out to tell us that because of the dubious nature of the win, the belt will now be awarded to the winner of the 3 ring 60 man battle royal at World War 3 at the end of the month. The odds are good that the Giant walks away with the belt after all, but with 60 participants, I suppose anything can happen.
Verdict: Once again, story wins out. Nitro proves that you can still have fun matches while still developing plot. I wonder if the WWF doesn’t think kids can handle keeping track of story from week to week? Each episode of Raw just feels too inconsequential for me to care.
Winner this week: Nitro
Score to date: Nitro 9, Raw 0
(Television Ratings: Raw - 2.6; Nitro - 2.0)