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WCW Monday Nitro: Night of Champions
March 26, 2001

by Scrooge McSuck

- I was never the biggest fan of WCW, or World Championship Wrestling, or as I would sometimes (un)cleverly title, Championshit Wrestling. That's not to say I didn't watch on occasion, or didn't enjoy some of the performers. Sting remains one of my favorite wrestlers of all-time, despite never working a single second inside a WWF ring, and as years go by, of course I found enjoyment out of watching the old PPV's. However, growing up, watching as things progressed from week to week, I never chose WCW over WWF. Even during the lowest point of the WWF's history, I opted to watch nothing rather than switch sides. There were times where I would turn on Nitro, just to see something different. Almost every time, I would see 2 (or 3) hours of dumb angles and illogical character development, and go right back into the camp of loyal WWF viewer. Whether it was Raw is War, Smackdown, or Sunday Night Heat (yes, even Heat was better quality television than Nitro), I knew I would find entertainment. If for whatever reason I didn't feel like watching WWF, there was always WCW.

Then it happened. March 26th, 2001. Nitro opened with none other than Vince McMahon, gloating over his purchase of WCW, and announcing to the viewing world this would be the final telecast of Monday Nitro. Being a 15-year old at the time with limited internet access or "insider" knowledge, I had no clue WCW was for sale, and all scheduled programming was to be pulled from TBS and TNT, regardless of if a sale was made or not. With this being the "go-home" show for WrestleMania X-Seven, I opted instead to watch WCW Monday Nitro. To this day, I don't recall even reading about what happened on Raw, except for the simulcast at the end (which, comically, was out of sync for the TNT broadcast... intentional epic fail?). With that pointless introduction out of the way... let's get this over with.

- Broadcasted live on TNT from Panama City, FL on March 26th, 2001. I'll give WCW credit: Doing occasional shows like this during Spring Break, with an open area location was a nifty concept. Yes, the fans usually sucked and were either casual marks or non-fans just there for a good time, but it was something different than same old shit, every week, for 15 years." Tony Schiavone and Scott Hudson are at ringside calling the action, unless otherwise noted. At least we weren't treated to Mark Madden or any of the other suck-bags WCW put on commentary. Anyone think Schiavone will call this the greatest night in the history of the sport?

- As mentioned before, we open the show with a promo from Vince McMahon. He seems quite composed for a guy who just bought the competition that desperately tried putting him out of business less than 4 years earlier. He does have the biggest shit eating grin on his face for the majority of the segment, and teases an epic announcement regarding the fate of WCW, which, to quote him, lies in his hands. Maybe WCW will carry-on? ... HA! I'm amazed Vince didn't construct something to rape WCW's corpse in effigy. Being this composed is one of those "most amazing moments in wrestling history", considering his track record of being even more juvenile in less-appropriate situations.

- Ric Flair (sporting a ridiculous haircut that makes him look like he's trying to look like his son David, rather than a 53 year old man) comes out to cut a promo about the heart and legacy of World Championship Wrestling. Sorry Ric, but your sincerity is only as deep as your convictions, and considering you were embarassing yourself on WWF television less than 6 months later, for about 6 more years, it goes to show how much passion you really had for WCW. Forget "Nature Boy", he might as well call himself "Anything for a Buck" Ric Flair. We set up the Main Event for the final Nitro... Ric Flair vs. Sting. I'm down with that. I think Sting was off television at the time selling an injury, but had the decency to show up for this final show (unlike guys like Lex Luger, or Kevin Nash, or any of the other high-priced "talent" that couldn't give a shit anymore).

Title vs. Title: Scott Steiner (WCW Champion) vs. Booker T (US Champion):

I think Booker T won the US Title from Rick Steiner not too long before this... I don't have to fact check, title reigns were 2-3 weeks at the longest in WCW by this point. Tony Schiavone confirms my speculation. Steiner has a valet, I forget her name... Midajah? As a casual WCW viewer, I was a bit surprised to see Booker go from one-half of Harlem Heat to a Main Event main-stay in the final year or so of the companies history. How did he survive G.I. Bro!? Booker wins a slugfest and hits a heel kick for two. Steiner escapes an armbar with clubberin' blows in the corner. Whip, and a charge meets an elbow. Booker with a clothesline for two. Book with mounted punches, but Steiner counters with a Powerbomb for two. Midajah works in a cheap shot, and Scott's attempted murder via Clue game-piece fails. Steiner with a lazy clothesline and elbow drop. He opts for push-ups rather than go for a cover. Belly-to-belly suplex gets two. Booker fights out of a shitty surfboard and connects with a dropkick. Booker with a knee to the midsection, followed by the Scissors Kick (called a Ghetto Blaster by Schiavone... huh?). Booker with a one-man flapjack and the Spin-a-rooni. Jumping side kick connects, but the Book-End is countered with a Northern Lights Suplex for two. Booker counters a Powerbomb, hits the Book-End, and we have a NEW WCW Champion at 5:10. *1/2 Not much of a match. Booker seemed very game, Scott Steiner not-so-much. It was watchable, though.

- Vince McMahon is backstage at Monday Night Raw and he's TALKING!

3 Count (Evan Karagias & Shannon Moore) vs. Jung Dragons (Jimmy Yang & Kaz Hayashi) vs. Rey Mysterio & Billy Kidman:

Winners here get to face the NEW WCW Cruiserweight Tag Team Champions, Kid Romeo and Primetime Elix Skipper. Kidman, Moore, and Kaz start, but it doesn't take long for things to get out of control, really quickly. Mysterio (without a mask, that looks weird) sends Yang to the floor, and follows with a springboard plancha. Karagias follows, but nobody gives a shit about Evan Karagias. Shannon Moore with a twisting press onto the pile, and Kidman adds a Shooting Star Press, because SPOTFESTS = RATINGS. Back in the ring, Mysterio takes over Yang with a head scissors, but eats turnbuckle going for... I don't know, something. Yang with a corkscrew moonsault (Yang Time?), but Kidman breaks the pin attempt. Moore with the Rocker Dropper on Kidman for two. Does tagging in and out matter? Jung Dragons hits a heat-less double team move for two. Karagias with a 450 splash on Kayashi for two). Mysterio goes for the Bronco Buster, but Moore gets a foot in the junk. Mysterio with a guillotine leg drop on Moore for the three count at 3:20. 1/2* Just a bunch of junk thrown together. I like spot-fests, if they tell some kind of a story. This was just a bunch of guys doing moves they practiced on the trampoline in their backyard.

WCW Cruiserweight Championship Match:
"Sugar" Shane Helms vs. Chavo Guerrero Jr.:

I'm surprised WWE actually carried over Chavo's theme music once he debuted. They even remixed Goldberg's theme, for no friggin' reason. Shane Helms comes out to some goofy rap music... yeah, he was better off as an opening card wanna-be Superhero. Chavo attacks and we get a slugfest. Whip to the corner, Helms ducks under a clothesline, hits a goofy knee to the face and neckbreaker for two. Chavo sends him to the floor with a clothesline, brings him back in, and connects with a back suplex. Chavo goes for a Super-Plex, but Helms counters and comes off with a super-sized sunset flip for two. Sloppy cross-body press gets two. Chavo with a T-bone suplex for two. Helms fights out of a suplex, but Chavo manages to take him over with a Northern Lights for a two count. Whip is reversed, Chavo goes for a sunset flip, but Helms blocks for two. Helms with a tilt-o-whirl backbreaker. Whip to the corner, he misses a Superkick. Chavo goes for the Curtain Call, but Helms counters with the Superkick (Sugar Smack?!). Helms finishes with the Vertebreaker to retain at 4:40. * This was all over the place. There seemed to be a lack of chemistry, or they were just trying to rush through things and kept stepping on each others toes. Not a very good outing to end the lineage of the Cruiserweight Title.

WCW World Tag Team Championship Match:
Chuck Palumbo & Sean O'Haire vs. Lance Storm & Mike Awesome:

Team Canada defeated the Champions in a Non-Title Match the previous week on Nitro, so there you go. Storm works in his "if I can be serious for a minute" phrase for one last time, and we play the Canadian National Anthem to try and earn heel heat. Whatever. It's interrupted by Michael Cole interrupting Vince McMahon interrupting the wardrobe of Trish Stratus. Lucky bastard. Storm stars with O'Haire. They slug it out for a second, and now it's Palumbo's turn. Storm goes for a body press, but Palumbo catches and counters with a fallaway slam. Storm practically no-sells it and hits a Superkick. Awesome pounds away in the corner, misses a charge, and Palumbo... pounds away. Awesome hits a nifty second rope elbow, but this isn't a good wrestling crowd, so nothing really matters. Anyone can see. Storm throws himself into position to be sent into the corner via slingshot. O'Haire gets the "pre-heating the oven" tag and plants Awesome with a modified DVD. It's a pier-six brawl, with Team Canada in control. Usually that spots works in the faces favor. Awesome-Bomb is countered with, hey look, ANOTHER version of the Superkick, and O'Haire's senton bomb finishes at 3:16. Eh, who cares. No rating, just because there's no point with something like this.

Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Shawn Stasiak (w/ Stacy Keibler):

Bigelow gets to tattoo Stasiak if he wins... yeah, because that's something that holds water. Stacy Keibler is in her Ms. Hancock attire... and now I remember again why everyone loved Stacy Keibler. Stacy gets the best heel heat of the night by REFUSING to dance. How dare she cocktease us! Women... can't live with them, and they can't pee standing up. Wait, yes they can... what idiot said that?! Incase you're wondering, this is called "padding", as the match is quicker than a WrestleMania match from 1989-1992 and the show was rapidly running low on time. Stasiak attacks before the bell, but ends up eating a clothesline. Bigelow misses a charge, and Stasiak with his own clothesline. Stasiak misses a body press. Bigelow with a slam and the top rope headbutt, but Stacy runs interference, allowing Stasiak to recover and hit the neckbreaker on Bam Bam for three at 1:24. Crap. Next.

- DDP cuts a promo from an undisclosed location talking how about WCW and stuff. I guess it wasn't important enough to appear on this show, despite working the Main Event of the last PPV 8 days earlier. At least he did this, I guess.

- Cool montage of some of the "all-time greats" in WCW History. Well done, especially considering they probably didn't have all too much time to put this together, and WCW was no WWF in the video production department.

- Vince McMahon and William Regal have a moment on Monday Night Raw, leading to one of the best things Tony Schiavone has ever said. Regal runs down WCW, to which Schiavone responds by saying "we've done some crazy stuff, like putting your ass over on T.V."

WCW Cruiserweight Championship Match:
"Primetime" Elix Skipper & Kid Romeo vs. Rey Mysterio & Billy Kidman:

Did Kid Romeo ever do anything after the purchase of WCW by Vince McMahon? He seems like someone who fell off the face of the earth. Kidman and Skipper start. Skipper with a belly-to-belly suplex, and Romeo comes in with the Tower of Quebec (it's the only name for the move I know, sue me). Whip to the corner, Romeo meets a boot on a charge, but he still has enough in him to throw Kidman over his head from a powerbomb position. Skipper in, missing clotheslines. Kidman with a body press for two. Skipper with a heel kick, and Romeo meets a dropkick coming off the top rope. Mysterio gets the lukewarm tag and sits down across Skipper. Tornado DDT to Romeo for two. He sends Romeo to the floor with a hurricanrana. Poetry in Motion from the Filthy Animals. Mysterio with the Bronco Buster, because it's such a great move to promote heterosexuality. Romeo plants Kidman with a double-underhook facebuster for two, despite Rey being the legal man. Mysterio with a Powerbomb and headbutt to Romeo for two. More stuff happens with little rhyme or reason. Kidman with a facebuster on Skipper for three at 4:43. 3/4* Not much better than the three-team spotfest. Nice of them to put the titles on all the babyfaces, though.

- Sting cuts a promo, with a bunch of baseball bats swinging around him. At least he had the decency to show up for the live broadcast.

Sting vs. Ric Flair:

It's our Main Event, and what a fitting match to close out the book of WCW. These two wrestled on the first Monday Nitro on September 4th, 1995, and for the 13 years prior to this broadcast, have wrestled each other countless times, possibly being the most iconic match-up throughout the companies history. Flair must not be in game-shape as he chooses to wear a t-shirt for the duration of the match. I forgot Sting was using Metallica's "Seek & Destroy" as entrance music at this time.

Lockup into the corner, Sting shoves Flair down. Flair grabs a side headlock, but a shoulder tackle goes in Sting's favor. Sting grabs a knucklelock, and Flair thumbs the eyes. Flair with chops in the corner. Sting turns the tide, unloading with a flurry of boots, rights, and chops. He sends Flair across the ring with a hip toss, and follows with a dropkick, sending Flair to the floor. Back inside, Flair with a headlock and shoulder tackle. Criss-cross, and Flair begs him off before strutting. Whip is reversed, and Sting takes him over with a press slam. Sting ignores the begging and traps Flair in the corner with mounted punches... and we get the Flair Flop because IT HAD TO BE DONE! Sting no-sells the chops, BECAUSE IT HAD TO BE DONE, but Flair goes low, which is, in fact, sold. Flair with chops, a snapmare, and knee across the forehead. Flair with a snapmare, and heads to the top rope... because it has to be done. Sting slams him off, of course, and runs through him with clotheslines. Flair avoids a dropkick and slaps on the Figure-Four in the center of the ring. He uses the ropes because it has to be done. Sting decides it's time to start no-selling it and turns the pressure over. He no-sells the chops and flexes the muscles in response. Whip to the corner, Flair flips, but not quite onto the apron. Sting sets him up on the top rope and connects with the Super-Plex. The Scorpion Deathlock is applied, and it's all over at 7:19. Post-match, Sting helps Flair to his feet and they hug as Schiavone and Hudson put over both Superstars and the history of WCW one last time. ** Generously graded, as this was just an homage to what fans would've expected. They worked in every signature spot they could've mustered, whether the match called for it or not. Flair using the ropes, Sting no-selling the chops, it was all here, and it was all glorious to watch.

UNFORTUNATELY... whatever douchebags in the WWF production truck that were in charge decided "enough is enough" and cut away from the Nitro broadcast during the post-match love-fest and farewells. Considering the final segment of the show is just a hype job for WrestleMania X-Seven, and the eventual disaster known as the Invasion angle, it's a sad, unprofessional, and disgusting way to leave the WCW fans. Yes, they were the competition, but treating the fans with respect goes further than you would think, and cutting away from the two names that symbolized WCW as if they were two jabroni's hopping the security rail shows a complete lack of respect for what they've done.

Final Thoughts: Even though this was plugged as a Night of Champions and the farewell to WCW, I hate to say I'm disappointed by the turnout. Where was DDP? Dusty Rhodes? Goldberg? Nash? Luger? Buff Bagwell? Rick Steiner? Any other names that could've been brought out just for the sake that they meant something to the company and the fanbase? Instead we got Kaz Hayashi, Evan Karagias, Elix Skipper, Kid Romeo, Shawn Stasiak, Shannon Moore, Shane Helms... I'm not knocking the abilities of everyone (OK, maybe a few of them), but this isn't WCW. This is a bunch of rookies with little crowd support or any kind of history to the sport throwing a bunch of stuff together and calling it a match. If not for a token, we can-sleep-walk-through-this-match finale between Sting and Flair, this show wouldn't be remembered as anything more than just the final episode of a wrestling company that had long been in the toilet. If you're a curious viewer and want to see the empty shell that was WCW at the time of death, check it out. It's not worth it, and will more than likely either annoy or upset you to the point you regret the decision to watch.

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