Ten things we loved/hated about 'Nitro'
By Rennie Detore
Sunday, September 12, 2004
The frequently uttered "Anything can happen" tagline usually
associated with a live sports entertainment broadcast never meant more
than it did during the days of WCW.
The company embraced that ideology with mixed results.
WCW's Monday night staple, "Nitro," either revolutionized the industry
with its week-to-week offerings or left fans' heads shaking in
disbelief. Critics and apologists often shared the same view on the
now-defunct company: WCW threw its ideas out each week, without
filtering the good from the bad.
Here's some of what stuck and what didn't:
10. Curt Hennig: The late WCW and WWE superstar always provided his
share of entertaining routines, even if they weren't intended. In the
midst of a would-be serious promo, Hennig toppled over and crashed to
the mat. The rest of the nWo barely flinched as Hennig rolled onto his
belly, hopped back to his feet and finished his promo as if nothing
9. "The Limo": Before showing a limo pulling into the arena became
passe, WCW actually turned this simple, behind-the-scenes act into a
noteworthy occurrence. From Hulk Hogan and the nWo to an unexpected
visitor -- usually a WWE defector -- the limo added a certain
unpredictability that epitomized the early years of "Nitro."
8. Celebrities (and moms) running wild: Toby Keith, KISS, Master P and
David Arquette, who actually won the WCW world title, all showed up in
one form or another on "Nitro," giving fans a first glimpse of
entertainment becoming more important than sport.
7. Competition: McMahon can brag all he wants about beating WCW, but
Eric Bischoff deserves just as much credit. Bischoff and his
underhanded tactics, namely raiding WWE's roster for talent, ripped
the complacent McMahon from his comfortable sports entertainment
haven. In turn, McMahon developed a hip, edgy program, complete with
an overhauled roster featuring future greats such as The Rock, "Stone
Cold" Steve Austin and Triple H, to compete with WCW.
6. The end result: Bischoff showed his lack of respect for Vince
McMahon when the brash WCW executive vice president revealed the
results of pre-taped "Raws" during live "Nitro" broadcasts. WCW
featured "Nitro" live each Monday, while "Raw" had one live show per
month, with the other three weeks being taped.
5. Cruiserweights: The cruiserweights flourished under the
less-than-watchful eye of WCW. Bischoff brought the likes of Dean
Malenko, Eddie Guerrero, Rey Mysterio and Psicosis into the company to
bulk up "Nitro," while the lethargic main-event "big boys" used the
first and last 10 or 15 minutes of the show to cut promos and
participate in the money-drawing angles and storylines.
4. The announcing: Former Chicago Bears defensive tackle Steve
McMichael added absolutely nothing to the announce team. WCW
transformed Gene Okerlund, the lovable, bald-headed announcing mogul,
into a disgruntled foul-mouthed employee. The robotic Mike Tenay
stared into the camera like a serial killer, and Bobby "The Brain"
Heenan didn't really call the action as much as he did reinvent the
3. Hey you, can you wrestle?: WCW, much like today's WWE, had a knack
for finding talentless guys and throwing them on TV way before they
were ready. Names like Tyson Tomko, Mordecai and Kenzo Suzuki come to
mind. Sorry, wrong company.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, WCW head of security Doug
Dillenger wouldn't allow veteran Mikey Whipwreck, who signed with WCW
from ECW, into the building because he thought he was a fan.
2. Remembering Spicolli: His 10-bell salute lasted for only three
gongs, followed by a loud crashing noise. Then, the always
in-character Zbyszko, who was feuding with Spicolli at the time,
proceeded to insult the fallen superstar.
1. Attention to detail -- or lackthereof: Kevin Nash once got hit by a
Hummer while sitting in his limo. The "Who's Driving the Hummer?"
caper, touted as one of WCW's bigger storylines, pointed the finger at
different culprits, one of which was Nash. If you're asking how Nash
could have been driving the Hummer that smashed into his limo, then
you're already smarter than WCW's creative team.
Rennie Detore's Pro Wrestling Insider appears Sundays in the