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All of that came against the backdrop of the announcement that Raw was going to move from 8-10pm to 9-11pm come August after a historical Summerslam documentary did very good in the time-slot. For the WWF, the time-slot move came at a time where their financial struggles were beginning to become apparent; reports of flying talent in on certain days as flights were cheaper that day, along with a move soon to shift Raw to a fortnightly taping schedule meant that the slot move wasn't necessarily a home-run, but it did create an issue for WCW.
Their immediate solution, for the first week in August at least, was to start at 8pm like normal (well, 7:55pm) and then go right the way through until 11pm – an experimental three hour Nitro that held up extremely well in the ratings in even if most of the first two hours were much of nothing. The third hour feature a match between Diamond Dallas Page and Ric Flair, a bizarre moment where Sting rejected a return match against Curt Hennig (way to elevate the new guy!) and, most importantly, a match between Hulk Hogan and Lex Luger for the title.
For once, a match hyped in advance delivered the goods and successfully pushed against Raw's second hour ratings. The match, all things considered, was very good (significantly stronger than their match on this pay per view) and the decision to give Luger the title gave Nitro a great moment, something that it had been a little short of in 1997 so far. But with Hogan vs Sting still firmly on the cards for December, there wasn't much expectation that Luger's run would last for long.
Much like last year we were in Sturgis, outdoors at the motorcycle rally. It was a show essentially that doubled up as something fun for the boys and, perhaps more importantly, Eric Bischoff. The scenary was execellent, as was the changing light that saw the show go from day-light to darkness just in time for the main event, but an open air show with free-admission was costing WCW hundreds of thousands of dollars and also bought along a crowd with it that couldn't be relied upon to know what they were looking at.
Vicious and Delicious (Marcus Bagwell and Scott Norton) vs Harlem Heat (Booker T and Stevie Ray)
The Heat were famously subjected to, if I'm being polite, a racially encouraged reaction at this show twelve months prior, which perhaps influenced why this match was placed on first. It's equally possible this match had no legs going in so they decided to stick it on first, either way it didn't really amount to anything. We get some impressive jump-kicks from the Heat, but neither Bagwell or Norton mean much at this point, and it shows. Jacquelyn comes out as the Heat's new manager and apparently turns them heel, jumping on Norton's shoulders to aid Booker with a scissors kick before holding Norton's leg down to stop him kicking out. Maybe they thought the Heat were going to get booed so it'd make sense - but they didn't, so it didn't.
Konan vs Rey Mysterio Jr in a Mexican Death Match
I'm certain WCW were still convinced they were booking Rey Mysterio well. Their marketing department got the memo (putting him in promotional material alongside Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan), but their booking department didn't.
This match, actually, was laughable. Mysterio comes in with a knee injury, which pushes the "dumb babyface" line but in theory is OK. Konan, still, is just rubbish, but this should be an easy spot to get heat. Mysterio's knee goes early in the match, but because he's a dumb babyface he keeps going, and it was honestly embarrasing watching Mysterio pull off a ridiculous move, land it then writhe around in agony. Just really silly. Eventually Mysterio takes an age getting to the top rope, Konan catches him with a lovely spike DDT then submits him with a sitting cloverleaf.
Steve Mongo McMichael and Chris Benoit vs Jeff Jarrett and Dean Malenko (w/ Debra McMichael)
So... Jarrett wants to fight Benoit and is scared of McMichael (yes, I really did get that the right way around). We get lots of Benoit and Malenko, and one of the two is generally in for most of the match which keeps the batting average above the waterline. The Horseman dominate Malenko, who finally tags in Jarrett himself. Jarrett does a move onto Mongo and then proceeds to pin himself, effectively giving Mongo and Benoit win (in what, it turns out, was an elimination tag match). So Jarrett legs it... because this makes sense. It's 2 on 1, so it's not long before after two tombstone piledrivers and a diving headbutt from Benoit that Mongo gets his second pinfall in the same match.
Chris Jericho vs Alex Wright
This was just such a nothing match. If you think there's some nostalgia or a "rising star" thing going on with Jericho, it really is hit and miss. Wright is still trying to find his feet in this heel-not-really-any-different heel character (he's got lime green trunks, I suppose). A harmless even match, Jericho hits a lionsault, we get an exchange of pins then Wright grabs the trunks for the win. Move on.
Syxx vs Ric Flair
I do wonder whether Flair went into this match hurt, because this was a whole lot of nothing. Syxx is still a character that seems to get to hang out with the cool kids despite having nothing to him, and Flair really is starting to show his age by this point. Most of the match is a pair of chin-locks by Syxx, Flair rallies, Syxx goes for a bronco buster in the corner, Flair kicks him in the balls then uses the ropes for a leverage pin. Dud, one of the worst Flair matches I've ever seen.
Curt Hennig vs Diamond Dallas page
The light is beginning to go, which is quite nice. The engines of the motorbikes revved up during this match, but not for the first time on the show it's not all that clear the crowd really had much knowledge of either guy. After going at Page's knee for a bit, Hennig hits the perfect-plex-we-can't-call-it-a-perfect-flex bridging supliex, but Page kicks out. Page bleeds hardway so the camera pans *wide*, Page hits Hennig with a powerbomb but Hennig kicks the ref as he goes up for the move. Flair runs out (because why not) gets smashed with a Diamond Cutter then Hennig hits another Perfect Plex for the three. The best match of the night so far... which isn't saying a lot.
Randy Savage vs The Giant
Yeah, nothing happened. Giant wins with a chokeslam.
The Outsiders (Scott Hall and Kevin Nash) vs The Steiner Brothers (Scott and Rick w/ Ted DiBiase) for the WCW Tag Team Titles… presumably
I still don't know what universe anyone thought that Ted DiBiase would be a good heel manager, but there we are. This match was about three months in the waiting as WCW inexplicably drew the Steiner chase out – and you may not be surprised to find out that it didn't end here (despite a lot of reports that it might). Scott (Steiner) plays the face in peril, Rick tags in and goes wild, Scott recovers very quickly to assist with the tag team bulldog move then they go for the pin. Nick Patrick goes to count the three but Nash pulls him out of the ring. Patrick calls for the bell (of course, the faces think they've won the titles) only to be shocked to find out they win via DQ.
Hulk Hogan vs Lex Luger for the WCW World Heavyweight Title
For a long while this match was appauling... maybe it was just a hot crowd six nights previously but this fell a feww levels below that. The best shot of the first half was Hogan calling him "Lex Loser". Luger Hulks up, Hogan covers then pokes Luger in the eyes, Hogan misses the leg drop then out come the cavalry. Luger fights off Bagwell, Syxx, Norton and even Nash who's drawn a short straw here. Then out comes an obviously fake Sting (That the announcers believe with 100% certainty is the real one), who trips Luger with a bat. Hogan drops the leg and regains the WCW World Title, six days after he lost it. The show closes with Hogan and the NWO celebrating with Dennis Rodman, of all people – who's in town.
Score Rating: 1/10
Go Back And Watch: A seriously bad show. As it's only the second World Title change in over year maybe watch the main event just for some significance. But that's it.